Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
"Exile" is a prequel to my next-generation-series.
In Here is to Friendship, Scorpius wonders how the pathetic teen wizard of Monique Vallon's report did transform into his dad.
This fic is an attempt to answer that question.
The fic complies with canon and is based on the Bloomsbury edition of the Harry Potter series. However, pieces of information that aren't given in the original books may be ignored.
Many thanks go to Athaeth for beta reading.
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"Let's go home while we can."
"The boy has a point, Lucius," his mother said. She paused to watch Weasley and Granger walk by. There was a space between them as they walked, wide enough for a third person. "We shouldn't linger here until the initial euphoria evaporates," she continued once the Gryffindors were out of hearing. "Someone might think of rounding up members of the old families."
And for once his father saw reason.
The Aurors came at noon the next day.
He simply put down the wand he had picked up somewhere in a Hogwarts corridor.
His mother wore an air of indignation; his father snorted at the representatives of the new authority. Neither of his parents offered any real resistance, though.
"Don't tell them anything," his mother hissed before she was led away.
His father said nothing. He was busy walking like a true Malfoy – erect and proud.
Two Aurors Apparated him to the Ministry where he was escorted to a room on the fifth level.
A middle-aged woman he had never seen before offered him a chair. She spoke with a faint, foreign accent – French, but not quite – as she introduced herself and her assistant.
"Tell us your name, please," she said.
"Draco Ophiuchus Malfoy," he answered despite his mother's whispered words. They knew anyway.
"Date of birth?"
"Fifth of June, 1980."
"When did you join Voldemort?"
He winced at the name.
"Well?" the woman prompted when he didn't answer.
Eleventh of July, 1996, at half past two in the morning. He had been shaking with cold – and with something else. He hadn't known that he was to take the oath when his aunt had dragged him from his bed.
And then, while the fresh Mark had still burned like hot oil, he had been entrusted with a mission. That had been the moment when he had thought the scene wasn't real, that he was having a nightmare. Kill Dumbledore, and you will be redeemed. Fail, and you will die, and your parents along with you...
It hadn't been a nightmare. The Mark had still been there a week later, still hurting. Even after months, it had still been sensitive to the mere touch.
The task, on the other hand, hadn't looked too bad once he had thought it over. As a student, he should find plenty of opportunity to meet the headmaster of his school and get him within wand range. Of course, he hadn't wasted a millisecond thinking about a duel. He'd thought of creeping up on the old man from behind, of ambushing him, of something like that.
The tricky part had been how to get away afterwards.
He had never been ordered to provide a way of letting Death Eaters into the castle. No, the Vanishing Cabinet had been Draco's own idea; he had needed a means of escape.
Unfortunately, in a moment of weakness – in yet another moment of weakness, a weakness that had turned out to be the defining trait in his character – he had revealed the plan to his mother because she had been so worried. Aunt Bellatrix had eavesdropped on them, and that had given the matter an additional twist.
"Mister Malfoy," the woman's voice brought him back to the present. "You did join Voldemort, didn't you?"
"Of course, he did!" her assistant suddenly barked. "Honestly, Monique, why do we have to waste our time with this nonsense? Just chuck the bunch of them into Azkaban and be done with!"
"That would be vengeance, not justice."
"So what?" the man demanded.
The women shook her head. Sighing, she got up and walked over to a battered sideboard on which sat a number of glasses and a bulky carafe filled with pumpkin juice. She poured two glasses. One, she set down in front of her assistant, telling him to drink and to get a grip on himself. She took a swig from the other one. Then, apparently as an afterthought, she poured a third glass and handed it to Draco.
"Well, gentlemen, now that we 'ave calmed down-"
"I haven't!" the man snapped. "And I won't. I won't play nice with Death Eaters... Did you just call him a gentleman? Well, maybe it's your English. I tell you something: They are no gentlemen, they are criminals. And I'm off."
He left, slamming the door behind him.
"I'm sorry," the woman apologised. "I may not continue the interrogation without a witness."
She finished her drink. Then she said something about regulations and observing protocol and that she would therefore go and search for her assistant or find somebody else who could replace him. She also reminded Draco that there were guards right outside the door. And she used the word please again.
Draco sat there, staring at the drink in his hand. He tried to think, but he didn't get very far. The whole event seemed surreal. Gentlemen... please, Mr Malfoy... He had no idea who this strange woman was.
Time dragged on endlessly; nobody came back.
Eventually, he started sipping his juice.
2. Failing Again
His brain felt as if it was filled with something soft and fuzzy. He couldn't see properly. Random shapes and colours drifted by. Where was he?
He was in a sitting position.
Slowly, something came into focus. Rimless glasses. A neatly trimmed beard. A bald head. Someone was touching him gently. No, the grip was a firm one.
There was a voice, too.
"He is fine," the voice stated. "There will only be the usual side effects."
The voice belonged to the man in front of him, a man who increasingly reminded him of a healer from St Mungo's.
Was he ill?
He certainly felt queasy.
When the healer moved away, Draco could take in the room.
The memory flooded back.
He was still at the Ministry, still in the interrogation room. However, that room was now packed with people. About twenty stern faces were looking at him – Proudfoot, Shacklebolt, the eccentric stranger, Margaretha Bell, Mafalda Hopkirk, several others whose name Draco didn't know, and Potter. What was Potter doing here?
Potter's expression was as grave as everyone else's. There was no hint of satisfaction, no trace of glee in his eyes. In fact, there wasn't triumph in anyone's eyes. On the contrary, the people surrounding Draco looked rather dismayed. An elderly witch apparently had cried.
What was going on?
The healer's hand still rested on Draco's shoulder.
Had he fainted? In front of all these people?
Draco closed his eyes, convinced that the real humiliation was still to come.
"Mr Malfoy," – Draco snapped to attention as Shacklebolt suddenly addressed him – "You are confined to your parents' house until further notice. You are not to leave the estate in Wiltshire by any means of magic or other. The building will be disconnected from the Floo Network once you'll have been escorted there. Furthermore, you are forbidden to use any form of magic whatsoever for any purpose whatsoever until trial will be held. Do you have questions?"
Draco wanted to ask what had happened, but his tongue failed to form words.
Two guards Flooed him back to Malfoy Manor; his mother was already there.
Although she was relieved to see him return, she remained tense and irritated. His father had been taken straight to Azkaban after only a short questioning. Lucius Malfoy still had to serve the sentence given to him for the attempted burglary at the Ministry, and he had to serve it twice over because of his breaking out of jail the previous year.
His mother was ranting about how the long-standing and thoroughly ridiculous prejudice against pure-bloods soon would be made the actual law, when his gaze fell on a bowl of fruits that sat on an aside table for decoration purposes. Driven by a sudden, uncontrollable urge, he plunged forwards, seized it, and wolfed down its contents. He didn't notice his mother stopping during her discourse about the decline of the wizarding society to stare at him instead.
Swallowing the last bits of apple, he called the house-elf to order a plateful of sandwiches. She didn't come. When Tribbs neither answered his second nor the third call, he set off towards the kitchen. He couldn't wait for a disobedient elf to appear. He felt hungrier than he had ever before in his life; the peaches and apples almost had made it worse.
Tribbs wasn't in the kitchen, either, but he found what in all likelihood should have been their lunch earlier today. He chopped off big chunks of cold beef and ate, hardly bothering to chew.
"Tell me that this is not true," said his mother, who had followed him.
"I'm hungry," he replied between bites.
"Tell me it is not true," his mother repeated, her eyes narrow and piercing.
"It's not my fault that blasted elf doesn't show up," he mumbled. A warm feeling was starting to spread out from his stomach, making him slightly drowsy.
"Tell me you didn't do this," she said. "Not even you can be such a fool!"
"Do what?" he said. Why was she making such a fuss just because he helped himself to some food?
"Didn't it occur to you that they would try to trick you? How stupid has one to be to accept a drink from an Auror during an interrogation?"
The realisation hit him like a blow from a dragon's tail: Ravenous hunger was a significant side effect of Veritaserum!
He'd drunk Veritaserum...
He'd messed up. Again.
He always did.
But for some reason, he felt too tired to panic. He became sleepier with every bite he took. Oh sure, another telltale sign. There will only be the usual side effects...
"How much did you drink?"
He shrugged. How should he know? Judging by the way his hunger seemed insatiable, it must have been a whole pint.
"Merlin help us," she gasped. She actually gasped. "What did you tell them?"
He raised his eyes and faced her full on. He couldn't remember when he had looked with less apprehension at somebody who was telling him off.
"The truth, Mother."
3. Estranged Allies
The next morning he couldn't say how he had made it to his bed or why he had not fallen asleep on his feet. Maybe his mother had helped him. Maybe she hadn't. He did not know. What he did know for sure was that he wouldn't sleep so soundly for many nights to come.
His mother didn't say much, but he was well aware of the reproachful looks she gave him. Her silence affected him worse than an angry talking-to would have done.
He tried to tell himself that discussing the topic of what he might have told the Aurors would be rather pointless anyway. You couldn't recall questions you had been asked while under the influence of Veritaserum.
He did recall the grave faces, however. And he did not at all like the possible reasons for their being so grave. Whereas his mother chiefly worried his blunder might lead to additional punishment for his father, he couldn't stop thinking that all the people who had been in the interrogation room now knew more secrets of his soul than he cared to reveal to himself.
Another reason why his mother did not investigate into his latest stupidity was a more immediate problem they were faced with: The house-elf had left.
Or rather – as his mother put it – the ministry had kidnapped Tribbs since availing oneself of the services of house-elves counted as forbidden use of magic. She was fuming. The indignation rendered her almost immobile.
After a lunch of cold beef and stale bread, Draco went out into the garden with a large magnifying glass he had found in the room that once had been his grandfather's study. Starting a fire with the help of lenses was no magic but mere physics wherefore he hoped doing it would not create a new offence.
He experimented with shredded bits of parchments, small, dry twigs and combinations thereof. It was more difficult than theory had led him to believe. But thankfully, he had a bucketful of red-hot charcoals before the afternoon sun sank too low.
He got a fire going in the stove and told his mother to be careful not to let it die down. He had no desire to repeat the experience of making fire by non-magical means.
Sweaty, covered in soot, and with several burn-marks on his fingers he was longing for a bath. Of course, he had to discover that there was no hot water. Maintaining the sundry boilers at Malfoy Manor had been the elf's duty as well.
It took hours for a boiler to heat up sufficiently after restarting the fire.
The days that followed were less eventful. Every now and then a couple of Ministry clerks showed up. They brought provisions – needless to say, in exchange for galleons – and snooped around for signs of illegally employed magic. They did not find any and usually left slightly disappointed.
His mother's cooking gradually improved. After about a week, he was able to eat her porridge without wanting to heave.
They did not talk much.
He knew she blamed him. This time, she did.
He could see the silent accusation in her eyes, and it hurt. It hurt in a different way than any blow he had suffered before.
She had been on his side all the way through the past two years. No matter what the trouble had been, she had backed him up, guided, and protected him. At least, she had always tried to do so. He was sure he couldn't have survived without her. Too many people would have liked to see him dead. In certain cases, it had probably been the mere fact of her existence that had saved him.
Suddenly, things had changed. She had come to see him for what he really was. She finally had realised how much he indeed resembled his father. Her disappointment worried him more than the looming trial and the prospect of going to Azkaban.
Feeling that he was about to lose the only true ally he had ever had, he went down to her room one evening and apologised for his blunder and his general inadequacy.
He could not explain to her why he hadn't spotted the trap. He had still been numbed by the events of the battle but he didn't dare bring this up as an excuse because, in his heart of hearts, he knew there was no guarantee he would have realised the Auror's intention at his best of days. The truth was simple – he wasn't cut out for this sort of thing.
He anxiously searched for the tiny hint of warmth in her eyes that had always been there, even when his father had dressed him down in the most embarrassing fashion. He wasn't sure he detected it now.
"You are my only son, and, of course, keeping the family together is the more important the more difficult the times are," she said firmly. "I won't pretend, however, that your failure hasn't made things worse."
He felt his chest tighten painfully.
"Mother, please," he pleaded. "I can't undo what I have done."
"No, indeed not. I can't advise you how to talk your way out of the mess you created since there is now way of knowing what particular information you gave them."
This was not what he craved to hear.
He wouldn't be able to talk himself out of anything. They were going to turn every single word he had said against him. Although confessions made under Veritaserum were seldom accepted in court as evidence in itself, they pointed the Aurors to the cupboards where the skeletons were hidden.
"I didn't come here for advice. I... merely wanted..."
He wanted consolation. He wanted something else, something he couldn't express in words. He wasn't sure he would dare to ask even if he had the right words.
"Go to bed, Draco." Her tone was almost gentle. Almost. "Try to rest. You are going to need strength."
She had given up on him, he thought with a shudder as he trudged back to his room.
He had little doubt about being in for Azkaban.
Only how many years he would have to serve remained to be seen.
He lay awake for hours every night, brooding. That was, by and large, better than falling asleep. He had had nightmares rather regularly throughout his life, but recently they had become more frequent. Plus, they had become more terrifying.
It wasn't any longer the public humiliation caused by a girl slapping his face. It wasn't any longer the simple fear of failing in a test or at some other task and being reprimanded by his father afterwards.
No, he now heard his father roar with pain. Now, he saw his father writhing on the floor of the drawing room, covered in blood and faeces. He saw his aunt's face, distorted simultaneously with malice and a sick sort of pleasure. He heard his mother's cries and whimpers. He re-lived the pain caused by the curses thrown at him.
When he was lucky, the nightmares were not about the horrors during the Easter holidays, but about big, ghastly snakes slithering along the dining table or about monstrous, Chimaera-headed flames closing in on him.
So, he preferred to stay awake, dwelling on the most recent abuse he had suffered. It had been gentle by comparison and yet downright wicked.
You were never more exposed than under the influence of Veritaserum – you could not lie, you could not refuse to answer.
It was his fault, entirely his fault. They hadn't forced him to drink. He had simply fallen for their annoyingly crude trick.
Basically, they could have asked him anything. They'd had every opportunity to dredge up any piece of incriminating knowledge, any little intimate detail, any embarrassing secret. They'd had the chance to explore any event he consciously remembered, to follow his life from when he had been a toddler wetting himself at the sight of a Blood-Sucking Bugbear to the not overly uplifting experience of sleeping with Pansy Parkinson.
He supposed that having answered questions about his former girlfriend was less likely than having answered ones about the late headmaster. But the Aurors could have invaded his privacy even thus far. There'd been nothing to prevent them. And they would probably have had a good laugh if they had chosen to do so.
They hadn't laughed, though. They had looked anything but merry when he had come round.
So, what had they asked him?
Had they asked him about his father?
About others, about Goyle... or Crabbe?
Was anyone interested in the sad fate of an insignificant numskull like Crabbe?
He tried to compile questions that Aurors were most likely to ask and endeavoured to answer them truthfully.
- How many sworn followers did V-... have?
- I do not know.
- What special curses did V-... teach them?
- I do not know.
- What curses did V-... teach you?
- Who taught you the Unforgivable Curses?
- My aunt.
- How often did you use them?
Here, his thoughts stumbled.
How was he to recollect the number of Imperius Curses he had put on Wormtail during the long and many training hours?
Only one thing was sure. He had never used the Killing Curse. He hadn't even been able to finish off the cats and badgers his aunt had provided for training purposes. Somehow, he lacked a quality that was necessary to perform the curse properly. It had been frustrating – and the more so, the more his aunt had enjoyed his repetitive failing. He had even suspected her to give him wrong instructions deliberately.
He had known right from their first encounter that Bellatrix Lestrange didn't like him much. During the training sessions, he had become aware that she, in fact, loathed him. He had found no explanation other than that she extended to him the hatred she harboured for his father. Why she hated his father had likewise been beyond him. Her disgust for both father and son had been an inexhaustible source for arguments between her and his mother.
His aunt's constant mocking, her accusations of inferiority and effeminacy had done little to boost his confidence. He had become increasingly nervous as time had flown by, and his attempts at killing the animals had become more ineffectual instead of more determined.
In the end, shortly before he had returned to Hogwarts, Aunt Bellatrix had told him to give up on the Killing Curse and to throw enemies out of a sixth-floor window instead, using a Hurling Hex.
Months later on the Astronomy Tower, when he had finally had Dumbledore at wand-point, he had realised with a jolt that he couldn't do either – he could not perform an Avada Kedavra, he could not fling the old man over the battlements. The reason wasn't lack of magical skill – no, he didn't have the guts to do it.
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I chose a constellation, the "Snake Bearer", as middle name for Draco.
Neither his middle name nor his date of birth has been mentioned in the books as far as I know.
Postscript, added on September 5, 2011
Waterysilver created a wonderful illustration for this chapter.
ff net doesn't allow direct links to other web pages, but if you wish to view her splendid work, please go to deviantart (dot) com and search for waterysilver or Veritaserum-Exile.