Title: Teach Me, Life; Guide Me, Love
Author: Kira O'Hara
Pairings: Harry/Draco, Draco/Astoria, Neville/Pansy; mentions of: Ron/Hermione, Greg/Millicent, Harry/Ginny, teeeeeeeensy Draco/Pansy moment *giggle*
Word Count: A bajillion. Seriously: 79,417. 8|
Warnings: Largely Draco-centric; sappiness; angst; denial; cluelessness; infidelity (not by H or D, don't worry!); swearing; child trauma; not-good-people!Astoria some Weasley- and H-bashing from D early on; mature sexual content of the solo and slashy kind; mentions of het. It might make you cry at one point, but I promise it all works out!
Epilogue Compliant? Partly. The marriages and the kids happen, but the train scene won't. I also twisted a few bits and pieces from the whole series here and there.
Summary: Revelations both painful and joyous set the markers in the path of every life. Thankfully, Draco has spectacular company for the journey.
Betas: The amazing and super-wonderful Tyoko, who was immeasurably helpful and has me wanting to figure out how to ship chocolates internationally. Also Casey, who was kind enough to help with the first third of this before life ate her.
Author's Notes: I sincerely apologize for letting this monster get away from me! It seemed like such a cute prompt and I fell in love with it, and then it just exploded into a huge and detailed story. Honestly, it was supposed to be short and cute…and then my muse laughed at me, I swear. It's been a challenge, to say the least, and I hope you love it as much as I do, darling mystery prompter! (For extra giggles: Imagine Eshe's voice as Fran's from FFXII and Penha's voice to be like a happy Djimon Hounsou. *g*)
Gift Fic For: Kayoko
Written For: HD Smoochfest 2011 on LJ
Prompt: Prompt #23:
Time Period: Post-Hogwarts
Place: Malfoy Manor
Object/Word Prompts: talking book, dragons, garden gnomes
Action: The talking book refuses to be placed inside a rucksack. It demands to be carried so it isn't tousled.
First Time Scenario: Lessons Learned
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoat Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." – Charles W. Eliot
At four, Draco Lucius Malfoy first learned about Magic.
Not to say that he hadn't been surrounded by such from the moment of his conception, but until then it had always been such a normative notion that he had never given it much thought. He knew portraits talked, stairwells moved, and House Elves could always pop in on you when you were being naughty. He knew he was a wizard and one day he would swoosh a wand and float things and set them on fire like Mum and Da could. He knew one day really, really far away when he was eleven he'd go off to a school that would teach him how to do that. Until then, what thought should he have given to magic?
But, at this moment, he gave it a thought – and that thought was that magic was a pain in the bum.
Crossing his arms tighter, he fought to rein in his pout and use the scowl he often saw his father use. It seemed to get him what he wanted, so there was no reason it shouldn't work for Draco. He managed to hold that pose for all of twelve seconds before he felt the need to shuffle again. The wooden chair he was stuck in was rather uncomfortable and he would like very much to be away from it, but there was the small matter of the sensing spell his mother had used to make sure he stayed seated.
Huffing an exaggerated sigh, he blew at the blond fringe just barely falling into his eyes. Mum had removed the itchy stuff that made it stay back when she had sat him in time out, thankfully, but now it kept falling in his face. Scooting to the edge of the chair, he peeked over and swung his little feet. He was so very bored, and Mum had told the House Elves that they weren't allowed to bring him anything. He was supposed to be 'thinking about what he had done,' but he wasn't sure why it had been bad anyway. Other than that it was gross – but still.
His brows knit together as he tried to think of a solution to his horrendous problem: time out for a whole hour. "Urgh!" he scoffed, wrinkling his nose. But he was a Malfoy, and Malfoys are smart and cunning (Da taught him that one) and they always get what they want, so he should too. He took a moment to glower at the clock – certain that it wasn't working right because he had definitely been there for longer than three minutes – and then began to slowly turn the cogs in his head around his issue.
Two minutes, a mental light bulb, and an obedient House Elf later, he was happily roaming the halls once again. He steered clear of the party still going on downstairs so as to not get caught, instead veering off toward his favorite place in the manor: Da's Library. He'd have to be careful, though; he was certain the clock in there didn't work right either because it always went too fast.
Draco crept quietly down the hallways, trying to muffle his footsteps on the hardwood floors. He stopped and held his breath at every corner, listening carefully for anyone who might notice him. Peeking around the library's massive door, he grinned to himself in triumph at finding it empty. He wasn't really supposed to be in there, even when he wasn't supposed to be in time out. Wandering along one of the walls with his head tipped back in wonder, he pondered which book he could pilfer without Da realizing it.
"Are you lost?" a voice called from his right, and he whirled toward it. Wide-eyed and with held breath, he scanned the space it had appeared to come from. It had been female and light and pretty, with a weird accent he couldn't place.
But no one was there.
Frowning, he cautiously made his way over to where the voice had come from, looking around for someone who might spring out of hiding. He heard a small thump and a shuffle of paper and whirled on it again – but again, no one was there, just the shelves full of books. Two of the books seemed to be set forward from the others, and that was enough to pique his curiosity more than the invisible woman had.
He reached out and pulled them from the shelf, settling back on the floor. They were covered in symbols he couldn't read, which was weird because he could speak English and French and Mum had taught him the Greek symbols last month…mostly. The symbols were pressed and carved and burned in, overlapping each other, some of them looking as if they had naught to do with any of the other sets. The book to his left was a faded and dark grey leathery thing, with just barely discernible hints of blues and greens. The one to his right was a more brownish-looking leather, with faint reds and yellows marking it here and there. Draco curiously traced his fingers over the inconsistent smudges of color. The books fluttered for a bit as he manhandled them, but he paid it no extra mind. When he reached for the covers to pry them open, he felt a sharp pain as soon as his little fingers touched the pages.
"Ouch!" he cried, tears springing to his eyes as he yanked his hands away from the apparently evil, biting books. He tried to glare at them imperiously, but would admit that it was possibly ruined by his pathetic little sniffle. Cradling his poor, abused hands, he peeked down at the little papercuts that graced several of his fingers. He only just managed to refrain from sticking them in his mouth, having been lectured before that doing such after touching Da's books could be dangerous.
His attention was drawn back to the books as they seemed to ruffle on their own, turning so that they were upright with their spines facing him. He cocked his head to the side for a moment, curiosity rising to the fore again. He'd seen Da make pages turn without touching them, so maybe some books could move on their own too? They had turned the bitey-sides away from him, so they couldn't hurt him now, right?
"Oh, no need to cry, little one. It was only a tiny prick," the book on the left said in the invisible woman's voice, the bands of the spine bending to move as a mouth. …Oh, he thought, comprehension dawning. She was clearly amused, and that made him scowl again.
"You're not very nice books," he informed them, giving a little sniff that he hoped passed more for derision than for a sniffle.
"Of course we are, child. Eshe just has a very odd sense of humor," the book on the right informed him cheerily. That one's voice was masculine, but full of a gentle warmth that reminded him of Mum's bedtime stories. Even so, that did not make him a nice book.
"You bit me," he reminded them, holding out his horribly damaged fingers as proof. He added in a scowl (that was most certainly not a pout) for good measure.
"I suppose we did prick you a little, yes, but it was necessary for the magic to work," replied the brown book, still gentle. Grey eyes flicked warily to the grey book – Eshe? – when he was almost certain he heard her mutter, "Baby."
He dithered for a moment, caught between ire and intrigue, and then he gave in. "…What magic?"
"The magic that lets us talk, of course! We know you, now, Draco," was the jubilant answer.
Draco's eyes grew round, his little mouth forming an 'o' of wonder. "How do you know my name?" he whispered out, his voice barely above a hiss.
"Simple: the magic told us. We know a lot more about you too, but not specific things like that. We know that you have three people that you love very, very much, for instance; however, we don't know who. Though…it feels like perhaps two are your parents?"
Draco beamed. "Yes! And Uncle Sev. He's mean sometimes but I like him anyway. He's scary, but he can be funny too!" He scooted closer to the brown book, liking him more now.
"We also know that you have apparently done something naughty, but we don't know what," Eshe blithely chimed in. Draco turned several shades of red at being caught out…and reminded.
Draco hesitated for a moment. "Oh. Yeah. Mum put me in time out and even put a sensing spell to make sure I kept sitting there," he mumbled, picking at a small crease in his trousers.
"And yet you are here?" He was certain that if Eshe had eyes, she would be raising an eyebrow.
He contemplated the books skeptically. "You promise you won't tell?"
"We can't talk to anyone except you. The magic binds us to that because we will come to know many of your secrets," was Eshe's even reply. He could tell them all his secrets and they couldn't tell anyone else? Draco rather liked the sound of that.
He looked up and gave a sly little smile. "I got Slinky, one of our House Elves, to sit down with me and then I hopped off. I told him that if he moved that he would set off the spell and the Mistress – my mum – would be very mad. I don't think he realized that she'd be mad at me." He grinned mischievously, eyes twinkling at his audience and daring them to tell him how amazing he was.
They didn't disappoint, either…sort of. "That was very clever of you, though not very wise. Why did you think of that solution?"
He puffed up as regally as a four-year-old is able. "Because I'm a Malfoy, and Malfoys can do anything." As an afterthought, he added, "And I was bored."
"I am certain even Malfoys have their limitations, young one. Magic is the only thing that can do anything," Eshe added, quietly but sternly. Draco pouted at her, because she clearly didn't see the point.
"Shouldn't you be thinking about why you were put in time out in the first place?" ventured the brown book, and Draco frowned.
"I know why I got put there, but it wasn't bad! Mum and Da do it all the time!" he protested grumpily. Then, both out of curiosity and a will to divert the attention away from himself, he blurted out, "What's your name?" He gave a small nod toward the brown book, then wondered if books without eyes could see it.
The book chuckled, the pages behind it fluttering in its mirth. "I am called Penha, child," he responded, then foiled Draco's plan and brought the attention back on him. "What is it you did? Perhaps we can help you understand why you were punished?"
Sighing gustily, Draco related his story. "I kissed Pansy Parkinson. It was gross, but she's my friend and they like sticking us together and I heard Mum once say that we might be married some day and Mum and Da are married and they kiss lots." He paused, then added, "It's gross when they do it too, but I thought if I was supposed to be married then I was supposed to kiss her." He huffed a little sigh, still not certain what was wrong. Then something dawned on him: "Was I supposed to wait until I'm actually married?"
He glared when the books laughed at him. Well, Eshe laughed; Penha just kind of chuckled, so it wasn't so bad. "No, no, child. I think it is more the intent of the kiss." Draco's confused silence seemed enough to spur the book further. "When you kiss somebody, it should be because you like them in some manner. Some people are stricter about kisses than others, but most people agree that you shouldn't kiss someone if you don't mean it."
"But I like Pansy."
"Ah, but there are different kinds of like and love. Did you kiss her on the mouth?" Draco nodded. "Would you like me to explain why your mother was displeased?" Draco nodded furiously, not even minding when he was treated to another round of chuckling. He liked knowing things, and Penha was just going to tell him!
For then next half an hour, Penha laid the basic groundwork of different kinds of like and love, as well as the different kinds of kisses that might be appropriate for each. Eshe piped in occasionally, but most of what she said made Draco want to stick his tongue out at her. Draco was happy to say that he now understood just why his mother had been angry, and he knew what to say to her when she came to collect him. …Speaking of…
He'd been enjoying their discussion so much that he had almost forgotten that he needed to get back to his chair. A glance up at the mantle showed that the evil clock was at it again – he was sure it hadn't really been that long! He only had six minutes until his mother would be back, and the room wasn't all that close. Especially if he had to watch out for guests.
Having been raised to be polite, he apologized as he scooped up the two books mid-sentence and trotted off toward his rooms. He had a feeling that he shouldn't leave Eshe behind, even if he didn't like her as much as Penha. He carefully stowed them on his bed, then said he'd be back later and slipped out.
He managed to make it back to his chair with one minute to spare and patted himself on the back for that. He climbed up and shooed Slinky away, smiling happily. He had new friends and they would tell him all kinds of stuff and he could tell them everything. And they'd helped him already! He quickly doused his smile and tried to look as guilty as possible as soon as he heard his mother step into the room. When she asked him if he'd thought about what he'd done, he was able to nod truthfully and apologize for his mistake. The small smile and kiss on the forehead let him know she was pleased, and then he was released to go to his room since all the attendees his age had gone home already. Draco skipped off to his room as fast as he could without running and looking suspicious, then dove onto his bed to greet his new friends.
He talked with them a bit more about their previous conversation, but quickly grew bored of gross stuff like kisses and lovey-dovey stuff. He wanted to know other stuff too.
"…Eshe? In the library, you said that magic could do anything." He paused, thinking. "Anything at all?"
"Magic, yes, can do anything – if you have what it takes."
"What it takes?"
"Yes. You see, the magic one can cast is determined by the life energy one possesses – or that one can summon from around them." Draco nodded, barely catching the meaning of the bigger words. "One's ability to shape the magic is dependent on one's strength of will. And the basis of a strong will is the strength of emotion poured into it."
"So…I'm confused." He heard Eshe sigh quietly, and was almost certain that one of Penha's covers flapped out to nudge her. "You said you need life energy to make magic, but then you said that you need a will to make magic. And you need emotions to make wills?" And what's a will, anyway? he pondered silently.
Eshe seemed to consider, then rephrased it more simply. "Life energy is what powers your magic; willpower is what makes it do what you want. Willpower is how much effort you put into making something happen. If you have the energy but not the will, then there will be magic but it won't do anything – or it might do the wrong thing. If you have the will but not the energy, then nothing will happen – you can plan to build a castle, but without the stone you can't actually build it."
Draco nodded, understanding it now. "But…what about emotions? How do they…?" He waved his hand, trying to indicate how one would make willpower.
Penha stepped in this time. "You see, there are two forces that make willpower, just like there are two to make magic happen. The main force is emotion, the secondary force is logic. Logic is knowing what you want to happen, and it helps give shape to your willpower, as well as sets limits on how much willpower you are willing to commit." He spoke slowly, giving Draco time to absorb the details. Da had explained logic to him before, and gave him a bunch of fun puzzles that he called 'logic puzzles' to go along with the lesson. "Emotions are what give it the power to do anything.
"Some emotions are naturally more powerful than others, but what is most important is how powerfully you feel them," Penha explained. "If you're very angry, it can outweigh even some of your more powerful emotions if you don't feel them as strongly. Anger isn't a good emotion to use, though, as it often doesn't like to be paired with logic. Fear, also, is a bad one for that same reason. Fear, however, is the most basic of emotions, and the second most powerful, so a lot of people have tried to use it before."
"But what's the most powerful one?" Draco said through a yawn. It was late, but he was still so curious.
"That's easy, child. The most powerful of all emotions is love. Magics built with the willpower of other emotions will always and certainly – eventually – fail. But those built with love? Those are the magics that can last forever." The reverent tone in Penha's voice made Draco smile sleepily.
"So…if I have lots of power and want to make something happen, I could, though?"
Eshe hesitated. "Yes, you could. However, there are some things that should never be done, even if you could do them."
"Okay," he said simply, believing he understood. He was halfway to sleep already, struggling to stay awake long enough to understand more. "What shouldn't be done?" he managed to slur out quietly as his eyes fell shut.
He heard a quiet chuckle, and then something soft brushed his forehead. "Never you mind that, little one. We will speak more in the morning. Sleep now." And as he did, the one thought passing through his mind was that magic was amazing.