Rating: PG-13 to a mild R
Warning(s): Rape (mentioned)
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 10K words
Summary: Sometimes a change of perspective is all that is needed to change your mind.
Beta: galaxynumber5, goneril, imadra_blue, lexique
Note: Written for the ABC challenge at hd_falling; my word was diary.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
The raid on Malfoy Manor began late at night on the first of November.
The war, which had lasted for five years, was over. Harry Potter had destroyed Lord Voldemort, exactly twenty years after their very first encounter. There was no grand or epic battle, just a young man and an old soul, their wands, and a graveyard. It was the same graveyard in Little Hangleton where the first victim of the second war, Cedric Diggory, had fallen years ago.
Harry remembered only snippets of the fight, like Polaroid pictures flashing across his consciousness. He supposed he would remember more as time wore on, but he wasn't sure he wanted to. Dumbledore had died there, too, but Harry couldn't recall how. He only remembered a stretcher bearing away a sheet-covered body, one arm with long, stiffening fingers hanging down from the left side.
The death of Dumbledore touched Harry in a way he hadn't imagined it would. It made him want to punish someone - for Dumbledore, for Hogwarts, for the wizarding world, for Harry's own youth, which had been wasted on trying to avoid getting killed. Dumbledore's had been the last in a line of deaths that had left Harry more and more empty. He sought vengeance to fill that void, and so he went back out into the field the day after he killed Voldemort, ignoring the reporters and the celebrating crowds.
Team Phoenix, a squad of Aurors led by Kingsley Shacklebolt and Harry, had hit the Nott estate, the MacDougal mansion, and Baddock Hall. The raids were for the most part easy: go in, isolate the remaining occupants, sweep the entire grounds with Dark detectors, keep any Dark Arts paraphernalia as evidence, leave. The only real trouble took place at the MacDougal house; a trap unleashed a host of Boggarts on the Aurors, causing Fernworthy to have a panic attack and try to hex everyone in sight. Their last destination was Malfoy Manor, which was supposed to be the easiest on account of it being empty.
Lucius Malfoy had been back in Azkaban for two months prior; his wife Narcissa and his son Draco were missing, reported to have run off to the continent. They were both wanted, of course - for information on other Death Eaters. There was no proof that Draco was himself a Death Eater, but Harry didn't doubt it for a minute. He couldn't wait until Draco was caught and brought to justice.
Team Phoenix Apparated to the grounds of Malfoy Manor, spreading immediately into a circle and approaching in organised bursts of movement. They had been expecting a deserted house. What they found, though, was a fire blazing, visible in one of the third-floor windows. Harry acted quickly: he shouted the incantation to the Flame-Freezing Charm and a silver jet of light shot out of his wand, causing the flames to go out with a loud hiss.
"Harry, what the hell are you doing?" called Fernworthy from his right. "Now they'll know we're here!"
"We've got the house surrounded; evidence is more important," said Harry in a detached voice. Inside, he felt a sort of savage glee and his heart was thundering traitorously against his ribs. It was Draco Malfoy; he knew it. He knew there was a good reason he'd wanted to do this last raid; it was like he'd felt that his old enemy would be there.
There was no movement in the house when they entered. Harry sprinted up the stairs to the second floor landing. While he waited for Fernworthy and Kingsley to catch up, he tried to figure out which door led to the room where the fire had been. Kingsley hurried past him, towards the third door on Harry's left. Harry took off after him, clutching his wand so tightly his knuckles began to hurt.
Kingsley knocked politely on the door. "My name is Kingsley Shacklebolt. I lead the team of Aurors conducting a Dark Arts raid on this dwelling. Please open the door and allow my colleague to escort you to a safe place while we proceed," he said to the door.
There was no response. Harry shifted from foot to foot, glaring at the ornaments that decorated the door: grapevines that seemed to rustle slightly in a nonexistent breeze and songbirds that twittered indignantly. Kingsley repeated himself, but there was no sound from beyond the door.
Maybe Malfoy had done the sensible thing and thrown himself out of the window. Harry smirked at the thought and raised his wand. "This one won't listen to you, Kingsley. Step aside. Alohomora!" The door swung open, surprising Harry. He would have expected a more sophisticated defence from Malfoy.
Unfortunately, Malfoy hadn't thrown himself out of the window. He was sitting in a low-backed chair near a desk, where stacks of papers - some burnt, some only singed - were giving off thick, acrid smoke.
"Well, well, well," said Harry, striding in after Kingsley. "What a pleasant surprise."
Malfoy made no reply, just stared at Harry with an empty look, as though daring him to attack while he was defenceless. Harry stared down at him, feeling nothing but contempt.
"Who's laughing now, Malfoy?" he whispered.
Malfoy's gaze flickered briefly, something like pain flashing across his pale, pointed face. He gave Harry another glassy-eyed look and stood up without a word, then pulled the hood of the cloak he was wearing over his head.
"We'll take you downstairs to the parlour. I'd like to ask you a few questions," said Kingsley in a genial tone. Harry had always envied Kingsley's ability to sound so reasonable and sensible all the time. Malfoy made no reply but bowed his head and stepped next to Kingsley.
"You look around, Harry. I'm guessing he was trying to destroy evidence, though I'm not sure why he was going about it in such a crude fashion," said Kingsley.
Harry nodded, still staring at Malfoy, whose head was bowed low, the cloak's hood obscuring his face from view. Kingsley and Fernworthy led Malfoy out of the room. A moment later, Harry heard the loud thumps of their boots against the stairwell. He looked around at the half-destroyed room. What madness had driven Malfoy to this point? Things seemed to have been dumped pell-mell onto the desk, then ignited - old wizarding photographs, letters, documents written in languages Harry didn't understand.
He sifted through the charred remains of parchment, occasionally setting aside a scrap that looked particularly interesting. There was even a book of some sort there, its sooty back cover facing the ceiling. Harry picked it up and realised that a lot of the pages had actually burnt away beneath the cover; a light dusting of black ash fell across his hand. Flipping the book over, Harry read "Draco L. Malfoy" emblazoned in silver lettering across the front cover, which seemed virtually untouched.
He was holding Draco Malfoy's diary.
July 31, 1997
I was waiting for Father to appear in the fireplace of the chamber under the drawing room when I found Belladonna Black's diary. After my talk with Father, I sat there for hours, just reading - what a different sort of life they led back then! She started writing it during her first year at Hogwarts, after she got the diary as a Christmas present from her parents.
I found myself so immersed in her description of life at Hogwarts then - the teacher names are all different but it seems so similar to my own experience. Except, of course, Slytherin was held in much higher esteem back in her day. She went to school with Mabon Zabini, Blaise's grandfather - I nearly did a double take when I found out that he was in Gryffindor! I'll never let Blaise live this down.
So, to make a long story short, I've decided to start my own diary. It seems like such a girly thing to do, but there's something so quaint about the thought that maybe someday one of my descendants will find it and read it. Perhaps they, too, will have a moment or two of reflection or happiness when they recognise something familiar. Tradition is such a beautiful thing, truly - perhaps the only reason I am returning to Hogwarts this year is tradition.
Speaking of Hogwarts, Pansy's parents are sending her to Durmstrang. She's in a right state, if the missing feathers on the owl that brought her letter are any indication. I hope to visit her sometime before the school term starts. She's having to do remedial Theory of the Dark Arts with a tutor, to top it all off. Poor lamb. It's not going to be the same without her, really.
I wonder whom they're going to pick to replace her as seventh-year girl prefect. I hope it isn't Millicent; she'd just terrify everyone and nothing would get done. Speaking of positions, much as I'd like to entertain illusions of Head Boyship, it's clearly not going to happen. That old fool Dumbledore will probably appoint someone like the Weasel (or worse, Potter). That filthy Mudblood Granger will, of course, be Head Girl; she's every teacher's favourite pet.
I wonder what Belladonna Black would have to say if she knew what Hogwarts has become. Mudbloods strutting around like they own the place, Slytherins shunned and no longer respected; for shame. We can only hope that the Dark Lord will restore the natural order of things at Hogwarts and in the wizarding world.
Back to my talk with Father - I haven't seen him much since he escaped from Azkaban, and it surprised me when he wanted to talk about Potter today. After last year's fiasco in the Forbidden Forest, everyone knows the extent of my hatred towards Potter; it's increased even more by the fact that I owe him my life. Father says I should keep my head down and avoid Potter; he's very displeased about the life debt. Apparently, he had plans for me this year, plans that involved Potter.
If a wizard makes an attempt on the life of another to whom he owes a wizard's debt, he will be stripped of all magic and forced to live as a Squib. At least, so goes the legend and I'm not about to try and see if it's just an old wives' tale. Now I'm unable to harm Potter without risking everything - nothing would make me take such a risk, nothing. So I'm reduced to watching from the shadows and hoping he trips and falls. Something tells me I am not going to enjoy this year at all.
February 14, 1998
Well, I wonder why I even bothered bringing this thing to school with me; I can't ever find time to write in it, it seems. Just as I had predicted in the summer, Granger is Head Girl. She orders the rest of us around and treats us like we're her personal minions, all the while pretending like she's in it for school unity. School unity, my foot. She's drunk on the power, that one. If she weren't a Mudblood, she would have done well in Slytherin.
At least Potter wasn't made Head Boy; that honour went to the Weasel: how utterly fitting. A blood traitor Head Boy and his Mudblood girlfriend. God, this place is going to the dogs. The two of them were positively sickening earlier today, holding court at the Three Broomsticks, their pathetic Hufflepuff sycophants simpering around them. A sad world we live in, where the jester wears a crown and the rightful royals are cast aside and spat upon.
I had a nasty surprise during evening prefect rounds. I was just passing through the Charms corridor when I heard noises from beyond a classroom wall. I opened the door and looked inside and what do I see if not the most disgusting sight ever: Perfect Potter, boy hero of the wizarding world, with his hand down that meddlesome Hufflepuff Smith's pants. It was like watching Longbottom foul up yet another potion, only possibly more compelling since I couldn't look away for the life of me. They were both panting and grunting like dogs, it was disgusting.
It figures that out of all the people Potter could have picked to be having it off with, he had to choose Smith. Now I can't even make fun of Potter for being a bloody poof; Smith knows about me, thanks to Corner. I should never have got involved with Corner - for a Ravenclaw, he's incredibly thick. The idiot actually thought that our encounters meant something to me beyond the physical. Quite frankly, it's not my fault that there is a shortage of boys with my proclivities in Slytherin. Though I should have expected it - as I later found out, Corner had only been with girls before me: that had been careless of me, not to find this out beforehand. Of course, after I'd dropped Corner he had to go and cry on Smith's shoulder and I swear I caught Smith leering at me earlier this year. It's too bad Smith's a Hufflepuff and a Mudblood or I might have tried to seduce him, especially now. I'm sure I'll find a way to use this against Potter, somehow. I wonder if Weasley and Granger know that their precious little hero's a shirt-lifter.
I did enjoy the look of horror on Potter's face when I interrupted their little tryst, though my triumph was rather short-lived. Smith had the absolute cheek to suggest that I looked so angry because I wanted to join them. As if I'd allow a filthy Mudblood to touch me anywhere.
Ugh. I just tried to scratch out the previous line and it won't go away. What's wrong with this bloody diary?
February 27, 1998
Here's the letter I got from Borgin, who sold me this piece of rubbish. I'm so angry I could spit.
Dear Mr Malfoy,
There was a note card enclosed with the diary we sold you last year, I believe you may have accidentally missed a caveat that was in small print at the bottom. The diary is, of course, magical like every other item we sell here at Borgin and Burkes. You see, communicating with a magical diary is somewhat like a binding contract. The first entry you write sets the standard for all others - so if you were honest in your first entry, you are bound to be frank in all others.
Furthermore, if you write down a truthful statement but then change your mind about including it, the diary will most likely allow you to strike it out, but you will not be able to make it disappear entirely. The only advice we have for you is to not write any secrets in the diary that could not bear revealing. After all, the best secrets are the ones that are kept in one's memories (or private and protected Pensieves).
We apologise for any inconvenience and hope this clears up the issues you have had with our product. We sincerely hope for your continued patronage.
Proprietor, Borgin and Burkes
I can't believe I hadn't read the small print! I had assumed it was just the usual "we assume no responsibility if this product is not used as intended" rot! I think I'm just going to shelve this thing and forget about it - I've already written enough embarrassing things in it as it is. Now my descendants will find this piece of rubbish and be horrified that their great-great-grand-someone was a fairy. I can't believe I'm not allowed to doctor my own diary entries! I should have shopped at Flourish and Blotts.
May 28, 1998
I had a blazing row with Millicent today. It compelled me to dig this thing out of my trunk again. Among the other insults she hurled at me was the claim that no one can ever tell when I'm being honest and when I'm lying because I'm probably not even sure of things I truly believe versus the things that are a result of my father's indoctrination.
I am not my father's indoctrination. I wonder how many other people at this school believe that everything I say is just parroting my father - granted, that was the case when I was younger but I do have a mind of my own. The irony of the situation is that I can't even talk about this to Blaise or Pansy or anyone - they likely think the same way Millicent does and they'll just think I'm being indignant for the sake of appearances.
And so I am reduced to writing in this bloody diary. I will not, however, be starting my entries with "Dear Diary". But really, realising that you can't talk to anyone plainly is a bit disconcerting to say the least. Millicent and I will be fine; we always do end up settling our differences, but something about the way she'd said the things about indoctrination cut deeply.
As much as I'd like to be a walking replica of my father, I'm really not. I lack his panache, his patience, his flair. Not that I'd ever admit this to anyone, not even Blaise, but I think Father would be disappointed if he could have a look inside my mind. Perhaps it will come with age, I don't know.
Father has this way of talking to people that I just don't. He could tell someone to disappear up their own arsehole and make them look forward to the trip, really. I tend to blurt things out - not precisely without thinking, I always think about what I'm going to say before I open my mouth - I've got a long way to go before I can measure up to my father.
June 5, 1998
I'm eighteen today. Crabbe and Goyle thought it would be fun to buy me a subscription to a pornographic magazine. Blaise is having a field day, because they chose a gay magazine. There goes my carefully cultivated straight image. I had to fight the urge to hit my head repeatedly against the table - that would have just made me look worse. Now Tracey's not speaking to me and I'm wondering if it even matters.
In less than three weeks, we'll leave Hogwarts forever. Out there, there's war - if you can call it that. I don't think it's particularly war-like, myself - so what if some Mudbloods died in their homes? There are no battles and no generals, and from what I've been able to glean by reading between the lines of Father's letters, it's all tied up between the Dark Lord and Potter somehow. Honestly, I don't understand it - didn't Potter already defeat the Dark Lord once somehow? Why does he have to do it again? Perhaps he doesn't. Perhaps this time, Potter will die and balance will be restored.
That actually makes sense - maybe Potter wasn't supposed to have defeated the Dark Lord the first time around and now the Dark Lord will just take back what's his? I don't know why it had to be Potter, though - there are so many rumours surrounding that night but there aren't any facts. I've asked Father about it, but he's surprisingly reticent. He says I'm better off not knowing - he says that if Dumbledore gets wind of the fact that I communicate with my father, he wouldn't be above feeding me Veritaserum to find out Father's whereabouts. I don't understand why that's such a problem since I have no idea about his whereabouts, really.
I do wonder if I'll be expected to join the Death Eaters - quite frankly, the idea of an ugly tattoo that burns isn't all that appealing. There are all sorts of ridiculous rumours about Death Eaters - that they participate in orgies and that they sacrifice virgins are among the tamer ones - I don't think any of them are true but I somehow don't fancy the idea of undying allegiance to anyone, let alone a Dark Lord who could be defeated by a baby.
I expect that Father just doesn't want to disrupt my revision for the NEWTs - speaking of which, I have to meet Blaise in the library so I best be off.
December 25, 1998
Happy Christmas? I'm rubbish at writing in this thing; I think it's got to be a lifelong habit before it actually becomes habitual. Given the rather incriminating nature of this diary, maybe it's better that I don't write in it too often, but I feel strangely compelled to, I don't know why. Perhaps because I don't really see anyone lately - Millicent's disappeared, Tracey still hates me for being gay, Crabbe and Goyle aren't allowed outside at all. To top it all off, Pansy's gone and got married to some Russian bloke and didn't so much as send a wedding invitation.
Though I suppose that had something to do with the travel restrictions the Ministry imposed last summer - it's nearly impossible to leave the country without their knowing. They've sealed off the Floo network and unauthorised Portkeys are now detected immediately - they caught Mulciber with one last week. Father was livid. Apparently, you've got to have special permission to leave the country now, and Father told me that there was no way they'd let me leave, seeing as I'm his son.
On that note, I didn't have to join the Death Eaters - apparently, that's an honour reserved to those who have proven their loyalty in some way. I'm not in a particular hurry to perform any heroic feats on behalf of someone I've never even met. I must admit I've even thought about researching Muggle means of transportation and leaving the country that way, but wizarding money's no good in the Muggle world and the Ministry is monitoring all Gringotts transactions that have to do with changing Galleons into "pounds" (what a stupid name for money). The goblins aren't happy about this, to say the least - maybe they'll start another one of their rebellions? That would be nice for our side - the more problems for the Ministry, the better.
Blaise, the lucky sod, had gone off to Sicily before the Ministry restrictions took effect and he keeps telling me to come join him there. He always did know all about pouring salt into wounds. I do have to give it to the Ministry - they're very thorough. I once thought about simply Apparating across the English Channel and hoping for the best, but they've got wards everywhere. I wonder why it's so important to keep wizards from leaving.
I haven't been doing anything but sitting around at home and waiting for news - the war's still going on but I can't say I feel its effects in any way, other than the vexing inability to travel. Mother's still going out to her social get-togethers and I still occasionally have Crabbe and Goyle over - it's all rather like an extended summer holiday. I have to say that I miss Hogwarts - it had become such an integral part of my life and I hadn't even noticed. I wonder who was made Head Boy this year. Surely not a Slytherin - from what I hear, our house's popularity is at an all-time low this year.
January 30, 1999
Well, today has been interesting.
Mother fell ill with some nasty flu and we ran out of Pepper-Up Potion. I rather welcomed the distraction of having to go to the Apothecary in Diagon Alley - I haven't been out of the Manor since November. After buying the ingredients, I stopped in the Leaky Cauldron for a quick drink and a chance to listen for any gossip that might be interesting - I admit I'm usually above such things but I've felt rather disconnected from the rest of the world of late.
So I was minding my own business and trying to overhear what the warlock at the next table was saying about the goblins' unrest last Tuesday, and I heard a voice I thought was familiar. I turned around and whom should I see if not Potter, Weasley and Granger? I swear, it's like he knows exactly where I'm going to be and shows up just to rub my face in the fact that he's the wizarding world's little hero and I'm the used-up, has-been son of a disgraced father.
Smith was there, too - it was disgusting to watch, really. Potter had his arm around the back of Smith's chair, as though it was just accidentally there. I'm sure he thought the rest of the pub couldn't see his other hand on Smiths' leg under the table. I'm rather surprised they lasted this long - it's been almost a year since I'd first seen them in that classroom and they'd looked comfortable enough back then.
For some unfathomable reason, I started trying to listen in on their conversation - needn't have bothered, really - between Granger's squealing and Weasley's screeching, I'm surprised the pub's windows stayed put. It appears as though darling Potter has completed Auror training and they were there to celebrate the occasion. Colour me unimpressed. I lost all interest in my Gillywater right around then and made a quick exit, so as not to subject myself to possible scrutiny from the newly minted Auror.
June 17, 1999
You know, they say that it never rains but it pours. I think I never really appreciated the truth inherent in that old saying until now. The metaphorical rain falling down on the Ministry's side in the war is a veritable downpour, with thunder and lightning. Dumbledore - who has really been the poster child for the war effort, Potter here or there - is gone. Dumbledore went missing last month and everyone thinks he is dead. Since then, things have begun to look much better for our side. Which is, perhaps, a bit of an understatement, really - the Dark Lord has taken over the Ministry.
I find it odd that I cannot muster up any feelings of satisfaction at this thought, however. I mean - my father is back in a position of considerably more power than he was in before the Dark Lord took over. The name Malfoy no longer draws derisive glances and spat accusations of "Death Eater" - now they cower because Lucius Malfoy has suddenly become a very important man; a man who can deal death with impunity. The Dark Lord named him Head of the Investigation Bureau - it's a new department whose sole task is to round up the rest of those who fought against us, Potter among them.
I find this rather strange - why does Potter matter so much? Dumbledore is gone, the Dark Lord has taken over. So what does Potter matter, really? I admit I find it rather vexing that even though we've won, all everyone can talk about is Harry bloody Potter. What's so bloody special about him? Maybe that's why I fail to feel satisfied - clearly, Potter needs to die before the war can be truly won. Once he's dead and gone, I'll have my peace of mind.
I approached Father about joining the Bureau - it all looks relatively safe from here, after all. He just laughed and told me to stay put at the Manor. He doesn't want me to come to harm, or some such rot - what harm could befall me? I personally think he's afraid I'll make him look weak in front of his subordinates since I know exactly how to bully him into doing what I want. I suppose I've just been going stir crazy - Mother's taken to drinking lately, perhaps I'll go and try to wrestle the Firewhisky away from her like Father ordered.
August 9, 1999
I am a blood traitor.
A blood traitor, and I have no one to blame but myself. I was in the drawing room and heard voices coming from the secret chamber below - my father's voice and a female voice that didn't sound at all like my mother's. Curious, I lifted the trap door and listened - Father was interrogating someone and I descended to watch; I must admit I was rather curious about what's going on and no one tells me anything. Mother locks herself up in her bedchamber on most days and refuses to talk to anyone but the house-elves.
My father was interrogating an old classmate of mine - Hannah Abbott. He kept asking her about the whereabouts of Potter and she kept telling him that she didn't know where he was. I could only stand in the shadow of the staircase and watch - I've never seen my father quite like this and I was rather fascinated. At one point, Father got eerily quiet like he always does when he's really angry. He slapped the girl across the face and still she maintained that she knew nothing.
It makes me want to vomit now, but what my father did next was just beyond anything I could have imagined - he ripped her robes off and threw her down on the floor. He hitched his own robes up, shoved her legs apart (I swear I heard something crack) and proceeded to fuck her. She screamed and screamed, scratching at his face, but he just kept grunting and rutting against her like some animal - all I could keep thinking about was that she was a Mudblood and this went against everything he's ever taught me: Mudbloods are filthy, they're not worthy of being touched in any way, especially not in that way.
It was like watching a train wreck. I couldn't look away and when Father was done, he got up and brushed off his robes, looking like he hadn't just cheated on my mother with a Mudblood. I don't care that it was rape - he obviously desired her and I really began to wonder how many times this has happened before and whether this had anything to do with Mother's terrible state lately. I must have made a sound or movement because Father turned around and noticed me standing there. He smiled in a cruel way I'd never seen before and told me that now was my chance to do something for our cause. He ordered me to kill the girl and went up the stairs.
It was the trap door shutting above me that made me realise he really had gone and I was alone with a person I was supposed to kill. I walked closer to her - she had gathered her torn robes around herself and was looking at me with so much fear. I remembered a sunny day in fourth year when I passed her in a hallway. She had pigtails then and she was smiling at something her classmate, Finch-Fletchley, had said. Now her hair was matted with dirt, blood was trickling out of her mouth and her eyes were so wide and pitiful.
I couldn't do it. My wand was in my hand and I just stood there staring at her. Would one of the Aurors have done that to Pansy had the roles been reversed? Of course not. They did everything by the book, the Aurors. I stood there, blinking at her, wondering for the first time if perhaps everything I knew was wrong. Because all I could think of were her stupid pigtails.
I didn't look at her as I handed her the bowl of Floo powder and ushered her through the fireplace. I told Father that I'd killed her. I'd never had trouble lying to my father before. He didn't seem to notice. He even complimented me on my quick thinking in burning her remains and scattering them out in Mother's magnolia alley instead of simply Vanishing the body.
I'm a fucking blood traitor.
November 3, 1999
Well, I've been a busy little blood traitor.
A week after I let Hannah Abbott go, an owl arrived at the Manor with a letter from her, thanking me for what I'd done. I wrote back just to let her know there was no need to thank me and wishing her good luck in her further ventures. I tried to explain to her how crucial it was that she were never found and that it was mad for her to send owls to the Manor - what if Father finds out? He would - well, I don't know what he'd do.
He talked to me the day after I "killed" Abbott. He told me he was proud of me, proud of the man he'd raised. Is this the measure of a Malfoy man, then - to betray your family by raping defenceless girls and killing them afterward? That this is not who I want to be comes as an unpleasant surprise. Why did Father have to do that? Now I feel like there is this ever-growing chasm between the two of us and nothing short of a miracle can mend the broken bridges. What hurts the most is that Father has no idea. He has no idea who I am and when he looks at me, I feel like he thinks he is looking in a mirror. I want to tell him I am not his reflection but it's useless; he'd just smile in that indulgent way he has and ask if I'm feeling well.
She wrote again a week later, signing her letter with "Millicent Bulstrode". I suppose it's a good thing that Father doesn't know that Millicent wouldn't sign her surname in a letter addressed to me. No number of Slytherin names would have concealed the foolhardy Hufflepuff sense of justice, though. She thinks I'm being mistreated, kept here against my will - she's cooked up an entire story and made herself believe in it. Clearly, Hufflepuffs need Slytherin supervision to function adequately in society. I disabused her of her wild notions as much as I could, but she would not stop writing to me.
She thought I should come and meet her and a few friends, insisting that they could "help" me. I wrote that I did not need help from anyone, especially not a bunch of former Hufflepuffs, but she was rather insistent; I suppose "stubborn as a Hufflepuff" is not an idle turn of phrase. Well, in for a Knut, in for a Galleon. I agreed to meet her at Spinners End; Death Eaters steer clear of it because of the ancient magic protecting it.
We met this evening. Old Hastings led me to the back room as soon as I walked in, saying that "they" were expecting me. "They" turned out to be the ubiquitous Hannah Abbott, Michael bloody Corner and Millicent Bulstrode herself. It was rather like a mockery of the Dark Lord's ideals - a half-blood Ravenclaw, a half-blood Slytherin and… Hannah, united under a banner unknown to me.
"He's the one who saved you?" whispered Millicent to Hannah, her eyes wide and never leaving my face. Hannah nodded and I shook my head - I did not understand the secrecy. Hannah explained that she had not revealed my name, lest anyone should overhear. Millicent seemed surprised to see me. I wasn't surprised to see her. I'd heard that the Dark Lord spared no one whose blood was in any way impure. Millicent's mother was a Muggle; this was common knowledge.
Corner refused to look at me at first, but he came around after the fifth tankard of Butterbeer, except then he refused to stop looking at me. I'm not sure which I prefer, quite frankly. Hannah told me about what they are doing, about their Underground - an organisation whose sole goal it is to protect those not of pure wizard blood by providing sanctuary and even escape. Since the Ministry's been disbanded, the Aurors who remained alive have gone on to join something called the Order of the Phoenix - I'd heard of such an organisation before but everyone thought it was a mythical secret society that didn't actually exist.
Hannah, Millicent and Corner assured me that the Order does, indeed, exist and that it's led by none other than Mr Alastor Moody, our former Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher about whom I still have nightmares. I know, of course, that it wasn't the real Moody who turned me into a ferret back in fourth year, but that's beside the point. At any rate, the Order is mobilised against the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters whereas the Underground is a passive resistance organisation whose motto is "Run and Hide". It was with little surprise that I learned that the motto had been Millicent's idea; only a Slytherin would be so sensible. The bottom line of the Underground is to rescue and hide Muggle-borns and half-bloods from the death patrols.
I sat back and asked them how they knew that I wouldn't simply take this information back to my father. I was rather flabbergasted when Hannah looked me in the eye and told me she didn't believe for a second that I would do that. She asked me if I was willing to join the Underground, to help them. I told her the only thing I could under the circumstances - that I needed time to think about it.
When I was leaving, Millicent looked like she was going to say something but didn't know how to begin. That made me remember why I kept on writing in this diary in the first place back when we were still at Hogwarts - it seems like such a long time ago that she said those words to me.
Speaking of this diary, I'll have to be extremely careful about where I put it. I can't trust any spells to keep it hidden or locked to unwelcome eyes - if Father were to stumble across it, he'd find a way to remove whatever protective spells I might put on it. I think I'll just carry it on my person at all times. Who knows, that might compel me to write in it more often.
March 20, 2000
Wow, I'm really rubbish at keeping a diary, aren't I?
When I got back to the Manor after my meeting with Hannah, Millicent and Corner, the first thing I did was ask my father a question. I asked him why he had raped Hannah before I "killed" her. It seemed rather important at the time and it was a serious question. The answer was quite simply "I fancied a go, son, you know how these things are." It was quite possibly the most wrong of all the answers he could have given me. I could have lived with "I wanted to humiliate that piece of Mudblood filth so she'd know her place until her death". I could have even lived with "I wanted to hurt her" - after all, I myself have at various times entertained many different ways of causing Potter as much pain as possible. But such blatant dismissal of anything meaningful - that he simply fancied a go, while my mother was upstairs in her bedchamber, drunk but very much alive and faithful…
I sat on my bed with my head in my hands and I didn't even notice when the sun rose that day. I looked up and my room was bathed in sunlight - I spent the morning in a kind of stupor, really, then I went to the library downstairs. Quite simply, during that night of desperately trying to re-establish faith in my father's judgement, I realised just how much of my so-called view of those of no wizarding blood hinged on what my father had taught me. So I spent a week trying to prove to myself that everything I knew about bloodlines was right.
At this point, it doesn't sting as much anymore to write that I failed. The only conclusion I came to was that had it not been for the practice of marrying Muggles, the wizarding world would have come to an ignominious end by approximately 1538. So my last argument against the other side had failed. They had the moral high ground, such as it was. They had the logical high ground, too, and if my own personal history has taught me anything, it's that the good guys always win.
I wrote to Hannah a week later and told her I wanted to meet. I sold my soul over several pints of Butterbeer, how perfectly pathetic. I didn't even want to do it, but I felt like I had to - that was new. In any other situation I would have said that I simply picked the winning side, but the thing is that I don't really know if it's the winning side or not. I had a choice, and the one I made had little to do with winning, even though I'd like to think it did.
What my choice had to do with was Millicent bloody Bulstrode and what she'd said to me that day in seventh year: "You're choosing what's easy, Draco. I had always pegged you for someone who would choose what was right, but I guess I was wrong." I can't believe I still remember it.
Millicent wasn't with Hannah at Spinners End this time, but Michael was. I really should have seen it coming, but apparently I was too busy being concerned about my future to pay him any mind. So it happened that he was first offering to make sure I got home safely - which was the stupidest excuse ever, considering Apparation. Next, when he came through the fireplace in the chamber beneath the drawing room on the following evening, he all but threw himself at me and that was, well, that.
I don't remember who it was that said that war makes for strange bedfellows, though I remember scoffing when I first read the phrase. I can't even introduce Michael to my parents because he's a half-blood and therefore hunted. There's something to be said for living in a large manor house where sometimes you can go for weeks without running into another inhabitant. Michael whispers Potter's name in his sleep sometimes and I wonder why that makes me want to strangle him.
June 16, 2000
I must admit I had thought that involvement in an illicit underground organisation would be more exciting. Not that I crave excitement, mind, but I thought it would be like in those Dorcas the Spy novellas I used to read when I was little. Because I'm a pure-blood and the son of a high-ranking official, I can go anywhere and do anything with impunity, but I've mostly been passing messages back and forth. Draco Malfoy, errand-boy - how very quaint.
It's a lot more than I'm allowed to do for my "official" side. Father doesn't think I'm fit for participating in those terribly important missions he's always on about, all of which somehow focus on capturing Potter. It's rather ironic that I'm the one who could give Potter up should I choose to do so. It would be so easy.
Those on my father's side are getting anxious; the Underground has been so efficient that it seems as though every time a death patrol shows up at a wizarding home to wreak purification upon the poor Mudblood inhabitants, the home is empty. I suppose the fact that my father is in charge of strategy for the death patrols has something to do with it. Or, rather, it's the fact that I have unlimited access to Father's office. There's nothing quite like knowing in advance that a patrol's scheduled to arrive.
I wonder what Millicent, Hannah, and Michael have been telling the others about the source of their information. Only the three of them know that I'm involved in any way, it was one of the things I insisted on when we'd first made our agreement. I risk enough with that many people knowing; if one of them is caught, I'm quite dead. The risk's just gone up, too, because of Michael.
He's going to join the Order. He told me he'd had enough of running and hiding. I thought Ravenclaws were supposed to be sensible. It means that we won't see each other anymore but I suppose it's better that way. It really was a bit sad, the two of us trying to drown together. I feel bitter, because he's going to go and fight alongside Potter and I wish I were going in his stead. Not to fight, but to be there. It's sick and it makes no sense.
October 31, 2000
Well, my involvement with the Underground was fun while it lasted. Earlier tonight, the war reached a turning point; it will probably be the last. In a thoroughly unsurprising display of heroics, Potter went to face the Dark Lord. While "bloodbath" is not a term I would use, that's exactly what Millicent said it was. Aurors and Death Eaters, curses flying about like those insipid inter-office memos. As it turns out, Dumbledore wasn't dead. It was he who turned the tide of the battle.
The Dark Lord managed to flee with a handful of his supporters, the Ministry has been reclaimed and "proper" government has been restored. I don't know what has become of Father - he could be dead but I sincerely doubt it. He wouldn't get himself killed quite this easily. Still, Millicent says the losses for both sides were staggering and the Ministry building is all but ruined - the Muggle news are apparently reporting a freak earthquake in that area.
Michael died there, too.
Millicent has just left and I think I finally understand about my mother and the Firewhisky.
April 11, 2001
I can only sit here and stare at the fireplace, waiting for nothing - there's little else I can do. Last week, the Dark Lord had caught Smith. Potter had gone to save him, but only found his dead body - it had been a trap. When Hannah was telling me about it, I knew right away it would be a trap, before she'd even brought it up - does it say much for me that I know exactly how the Dark Lord thinks? Does it say much for Potter and the rest of them? Had they known but done it anyway? I found myself wishing I'd been there to stop it. On the other hand, I'm selfishly glad that Smith is dead. It makes me sick, but there it is. Potter escaped again and I think the Dark Lord's days are numbered. Still no Father.
Hannah helped me get Mother aboard a ship two weeks ago. Mother and Millicent travelled incognito, as Muggles; Millicent should be back tomorrow. Mother's great-uncle had left her a small house just north of Madrid - I think it will do her good, to get away from this all. She has been only a shadow of her former self in the last few years. I suppose the same can be said for me. Hannah thought it would have been best if I'd gone with Mother, too, but I'll not run away now. Summer's almost here and all I've got is this quiet panic and the bottle at my bedside.
August 25, 2001
They've caught Father. Potter and a team of Aurors cornered him in a bed-and-breakfast near Cardiff somewhere and dragged him out like a rat. He's in Azkaban now and I don't even feel anything. I'm a fucking blood traitor and a disgrace to the Malfoy name. When I was seeing Mother off, just before she followed Millicent up that steep ramp, she looked at me with empty eyes and told me I was a true Black. I don't think she understood what she was saying, but that was all the confirmation I'll ever need - I'm unworthy of being called a Malfoy because I've betrayed my father. No other things I've done are more heinous than that, and I'm going to have to learn to live with it. I would rather be a disgraced Malfoy than become a murderer of innocents.
I hope Potter is satisfied. I imagine he'd like to catch me as well - rough me up, throw me against a couple of walls carelessly just to see if I'm still alive. I wonder what he'd say if he knew. What he'd think - Draco Malfoy, intimately involved in the war effort on the completely wrong side. He wouldn't believe it for a second. He wouldn't believe it from his best friends; he'd assume they're under the influence of the Imperius Curse sooner than he'd believe that Draco Malfoy, thorn-in-his-side Slytherin, could be capable of - of being redeemed so irreversibly. I suppose it's self-pity - yes, it's self-pity. I don't want Potter to think of me that way. I want him to know but I will never trade what's left of my pride to prove myself to him.
I think he's a joke, a fucking joke that's on me, a joke about everything I've ever loved and lost. Am I reaping what I've sown? Probably. How I wish I could just walk up to him and say that I'd rather be alone, write him letters full of meaningless and safe nothings. I want to walk up to him and tell him to forget me, but how can I do that? How can I, when he doesn't even know who I am? Fuck, I'm making no sense. He will win, I believe he will, I believe in him. Let there be cities and whole continents separating us after this. Let there be only foreign stars in the sky for me, I don't care. He has to win - for them. Maybe those stars will be a source of solace for me, a monument to my fulfilled hope when I go away. How fucking ironic, that I should feel this way about Potter, love him because he isn't here, when I hated him for so many years for doing the exact opposite.
Fuck this. I'm too drunk to stay awake any longer.
September 3, 2001
When it's all over, I'm going to torch the Manor. The elves will run off and there will be nothing remaining for the vultures. Even though I have disgraced him, my father deserves a proper funeral pyre from his faithless son; with all his toys going up in flames with him. I've no doubt they'll execute him once Hannah gives her testimony at his hearing.
Hannah has promised that she will fight to make herself heard about my role in her escape and the Underground. When they take me, I will refuse to speak on my behalf. Others doing it for me will be far more effective, and no matter what I say, they will not believe a Death Eater's son. They will let me go; they'll have enough scapegoats to feed to the crowd.
I don't know what I will do when I'm free. I'll probably need to find some sort of work, but I don't think anyone will want to work with the son of Lucius Malfoy, not after the truth about Hannah comes out. Perhaps I'll go and join Mother in Spain. Millicent is trying to convince me to stay, but everything here reminds me of shattered lives, my own among them.
I saw a picture of Potter in the Daily Prophet the other day. He looks much better these days. The role of the hunter suits him far better than that of the prey. I think if we were to cross paths again, we could finally understand each other. I don't, however, think Potter is the sort to change his mind - he'd probably see ulterior motives in both the Underground and Hannah's escape. I imagine he'd think that I had got involved merely to save my own skin.
He'd be wrong, of course, but I would only get angry and say something rude instead of trying to explain. It's funny how that works; I can barely see straight when Potter's around and seem to lose all capacity for logic. I don't know if I'd want to see him again. Supposing he got off his high horse for long enough to actually see me as a person, we would have to have the talk of the century, because that's just what Potter's like, isn't he, he likes everything laid out plain and simple to him.
I can't explain any of this in words, though. I mean, it's taken me forever to formulate my thoughts in the above paragraph. I'm rubbish at emotions, they always get me into trouble. I wish Father had taught me how to deal with them, but all he ever said was that I should never show them. Ultimately, I end up looking like a cold, heartless prig and I suppose it's easier that way, at least no one will let me get close enough to hurt me…
The rest of the pages were so badly burnt that Harry couldn't make out any more words. He lowered the diary, suddenly aware of the tops of his cheeks stinging with cold: they were wet. He snatched his glasses off, threw them on the table and wiped his face. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath; the smell of stale smoke assaulted his nostrils, causing a harsh tickle at the back of his throat.
His mind was a confused, teeming mass of thoughts and feelings, some of which were quite new. Reading Malfoy's diary had been a lot like seeing his father in Snape's Pensieve back at Hogwarts, only worse. Somehow it was more difficult to accept that his old enemy was so very human and vulnerable, despite everything Harry had always believed. There was also added regret for years spent in enmity, which surprised Harry so much he actually looked around for a chair to sink down into. What had driven Malfoy to start burning his father's things before the hearings even commenced? Why had he wanted to burn the diary, too? More importantly, would Harry let history repeat itself again?
He snapped the diary shut, put his glasses back on and glanced outside. It was already light; Harry hadn't even noticed that the candle had gone out. His stomach did a little flip-flop when he saw a familiar flash of white-blond hair. Two men were leading Malfoy away from the manor, towards a black Ministry car. The morning sky was sickeningly white; clouds roiled above like thick clumps of smoke.
"Hey, wait!" yelled Harry, leaning out of the open window.
The Aurors leading Malfoy stopped and looked up. Malfoy didn't seem to react to Harry's voice. One of the Aurors - Kingsley - put his hand up to shield his eyes from the sky's empty glare.
"We're done here, Harry," shouted Kingsley. "We've grilled him for an hour but he won't talk, so we're taking him to Azkaban. That ought to get him talking soon enough. What do you need?"
"I need you to wait. Don't take him away," replied Harry. His voice was too loud for the confines of the room and it echoed like a hag's croak in a corner.
He hurried out of the room and bounded down the wide staircase, still clutching Malfoy's diary. He nodded to Dawlish, who stood in a doorway that led into a large, lavishly decorated sitting room. The Auror was holding a Dark detector of some kind, clearly hesitant to walk in until he was sure there weren't any unpleasant surprises inside.
A house-elf was kneeling on the floor beside the heavy oak front door, its little arms stretching out after Malfoy. The elf noticed Harry and got up quickly, then rushed over to him and clutched his robes. "Mr Harry Potter, sir! We is knowing about your kindness! Don't let them take Master! He is not killing all those people!"
Harry paused, an old memory suddenly floating up to the forefront of his mind. If you want to know what a man's like, take a look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. For a moment, Harry felt like he was back in that cave, watching Sirius devour chicken legs, shaking his great mane of black hair and grinning. Harry's chest tightened as he stared down at the elf.
"Did he treat you well, then?" he asked the house-elf.
The creature's large, protuberant eyes widened. "The older he is getting, the better he is treating us, Harry Potter, sir."
Harry gazed at the house-elf for a long moment, then hurried out into the cold November morning. Kingsley and the other Auror - Hespeler - were standing by the Ministry car, talking to each other and ignoring Malfoy, who was slumped against the car, looking down at the cobblestone pavement.
"What is it, Harry?" asked Kingsley, noticing him approach. "Did you find something to make this one talk?"
"I found something better," said Harry, and handed him Malfoy's diary. "He's innocent."
Malfoy looked up sharply; his eyes narrowed when he saw what was in Kingsley's hands. "You had no right," he said quietly to Harry. "You had no right," he repeated, his cheeks suddenly alive with a faint flush.
"Shut up, Malfoy," said Harry, feeling suddenly very tired. "Come on, I'll walk you inside."
"I don't need your help, Potter," said Malfoy, detaching himself from the car.
"I know you don't," replied Harry. "I think we should talk."
Malfoy gave him a half-hearted sneer. He swayed on the spot unsteadily and for a brief moment, Harry thought he was going to fall. Malfoy found his footing after a second or two and started limping towards the manor house without a backwards glance.
Harry nodded at Kingsley, who was reading Malfoy's diary with an expression of mild astonishment on his face and didn't look up. Hespeler gave Harry a little mock salute and turned to peek over Kingsley's shoulder. Harry took off after Malfoy, who had in the meantime reached the front entrance and was fighting off the house-elf. The creature had latched onto Malfoy's leg and was sobbing hysterically.
Harry noticed Dawlish walking towards Malfoy, his wand drawn. Harry ran quickly up the steps and stepped in front. "It's fine, Dawlish," he said. "He's innocent."
"What? But Kingsley-"
"Don't worry about Kingsley," said Harry. "I gave him the evidence, he'll brief you later. Go back to work, Dawlish."
Dawlish gave Harry a dark look and walked back to the sitting room. Harry turned to Malfoy, who had managed to disentangle the elf from his robes and was looking everywhere but at Harry.
"Malfoy," said Harry. "Look at me."
Malfoy shook his hair out of his face and looked at Harry, his cold grey eyes unreadable. "If you expect me to be grateful, Potter-"
"I don't expect you to do anything," said Harry with a sigh. "Unless, of course, you want to offer me some of that excellent brandy I saw upstairs."
Malfoy's eyes widened and he looked almost amused. "I see that old man taught you to appreciate fine spirits. Well, at least he was good for something. Follow me."
They walked up the staircase to the third floor. At the door to his quarters, Malfoy turned around abruptly. Harry, who'd been following a little too closely, didn't stop in time and bumped his forehead against Malfoy's painfully. He felt Malfoy stiffen and heard him drawing in a sharp breath.
"I'm sorry," said Harry, "I didn't realise-"
Then Malfoy grabbed him by the back of his neck and kissed him, and Harry forgot just what it was that he hadn't realised.
Malfoy's lips were soft, cold and tentative, but his breath was warm and smelled distinctly of Firewhisky. Harry's eyes fell shut and he brought his arms around Malfoy's waist. Malfoy sighed and broke the kiss, then pressed his forehead against Harry's. They stared into each other's eyes for a long moment. It was Malfoy who broke the silence.
"Remember Umbridge?" he said in a thick voice, his breath hitching slightly.
"Yeah," murmured Harry, automatically sweeping his left thumb across the back of his right hand, which rested on the small of Malfoy's back. Why were they talking about Umbridge?
"Well, it's like she used to say, isn't it? There will be-"
"-no need to talk," finished Harry, grinning. "Yeah, I can live with that."