- Story Summary:
- By the time he was Draco's age, Lucius already knew not to cry in front of his father.
- Author's Note:
- Dedicated to and betaed by Lady Bastet.
The boy walks on the tips of his toes, yet the sound is sufficient to disturb Lucius, who is lying with his back to the door of his bedroom. When he turns, there is scarcely adequate light to make out the small shape that opens and slips through the door. Lucius wonders how his son could see well enough to find his way down the hall without bumping into anything. Draco does not speak, but stands unhappily by the wall, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
"Do you need the bathroom?" Lucius asks softly. Draco shakes his head no. "Are you sick?" Another no, sending the boy's fine blond hair tossing back and forth across his face. "Did you have a bad dream?"
To this, there is no response. Sighing, Lucius sits up. "And did you do what I have told you to do?"
The little boy nods, but already the stoic expression is crumbling. By the time he was Draco's age, Lucius already knew not to cry in front of his father. His own son's tears leave him unsure whether to be displeased or impressed that this fragile trust remains. It should not be difficult for Lucius to exceed the parenting skills of Abraxas Malfoy. He is determined that everything will be different between himself and Draco.
"Come here," he says, trying to keep his fatigue and impatience from his voice. The boy approaches nervously, shoulders hunched, but when Lucius scoots over in the large bed to make room for him, Draco sniffles, wipes his nose with his hand and climbs up, crawling over to Lucius and into his lap. The child's mother had insisted that he bathe before bedtime and he smells good, like sweetgrass and lavender. His hair is silky beneath Lucius' chin.
"You need to learn discipline, Draco," Lucius chides, letting his head lower so that the fine hair rubs against his face. The boy feels snug in his arms, no longer the fragile baby that Lucius had been afraid to pick up, yet still pliable as a stuffed toy. It is dangerous for his son to be so soft.
Lucius had considered his own father a weak man, yet somehow that man raised him to be powerful, even if he earned Lucius' enmity along the way. He knows that he should order Draco to dry his tears and go back to his own bed, perhaps even warn that he will be punished unless he makes more of an effort at control. In the end will a rebuke make Draco stronger? Or will he do what Lucius himself did and reject both of his parents?
Narcissa sleeps with her door bolted. This is intended to keep her husband from her bed, but it has the effect of keeping her son locked out as well. Lucius wonders whether the boy has ever tried to seek out his mother before coming to him or whether his room has been Draco's destination all along.
Though Lucius is wide awake now, the small fair head is drooping; slipping an arm around his waist, the child burrows against his neck. "Draco," he begins again, letting a note of impatience creep into his voice. For a moment he thinks his son will pretend to be asleep, but he feels long smooth eyelashes tickling his throat as Draco blinks and knows that he is paying attention. "What are you supposed to do if you have a bad dream?"
"Remember I'm a Malfoy," the boy mutters after a few seconds. "Remember I'm a pureblood, and powerful."
"That's right," agrees Lucius. Without volition his hand floats up, settling in the sleek hair and stroking it between his fingers. Draco has the flawless skin and wide eyes of the Blacks, with Lucius' own thick hair and solid chin; he will be very handsome, perhaps even more so than Lucius himself. And Draco is clever as well. During the day he is bold about getting into mischief, trying to get his hands on his parents' wands to test out spells, despite the fact that he has had the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery explained to him. He is not afraid of the trouble he could cause within his family. It is only late at night that these unnamed fears plague him.
Grudgingly Lucius thinks of that other boy, the one he has never seen but who is very nearly the age of his own son...the boy with the scar, the boy who defeated the greatest wizard in a millennium. Dumbledore has hidden that other boy away, yet he will surely reappear to go to Hogwarts. By then, Draco will not be able to come to his father for protection or solace. The Malfoy heir must be a leader. He must be strong enough to be a match for Harry Potter, as a friend or an equal adversary.
Leaning back, he puts his hands on Draco's shoulders and sits him up straight, looking at him. "You are a Malfoy," he repeats firmly. "You are a pureblood. You are powerful. Do you believe that, Draco?" His son nods confidently now, and Lucius knows, with an odd mixture of pride and disappointment, that this is because he has said the words; when he speaks in his most forceful tone, Draco never questions him. "You must believe it, not because I say it, but because it is so. If you truly believe it, you will never feel a need to come into my room in the middle of the night because of a silly dream. And then think how proud you'll make me."
"Yes, Father," Draco recites dutifully, not meeting Lucius' eyes. Draco wants to make him proud; he chooses his words very carefully at such moments as this. Yet a moment later, the boy bites his lip and looks directly at Lucius. "Who is Voldemort?"
"Where did you hear that name?" Instantly Lucius knows that he has spoken too harshly, that his fingers are digging painfully into Draco's arms and that his expression has frightened the boy. His son shrinks back from him, looking terribly young and small on the wide bed, and his lip begins to tremble again.
"Some boys! In the village!" Though Lucius relaxes his grip immediately, reaching up to stroke the child's face, he is not sorry to have made him afraid of speaking that word. "They said that you...they called you a name."
"What was the name?"
"I don't know. Something death."
Death Eater, Lucius hears in his mind, seeing the stern faces of Ministry officials and Albus Dumbledore, when he was thinking of his then-infant son and the need to put this all behind him so that he could go home.
Aloud he says, "That name you said before? We call him the Dark Lord. Have you ever heard your mother or me say that?" Wide-eyed, Draco nods. "It is very important that you never use that other name. Some people may say He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named; that is who they mean."
"But who is he?" Draco persists.
"He was a very powerful wizard. The most powerful wizard I ever...that is to say, the world has ever known. But he was defeated by a boy your own age." His son is still looking at him through round, startled eyes. How much to tell him? He is only a child, a very small child, yet he has already heard that name...
"Why did they call you what they called you?"
And his son has already heard that, too. This moment was inevitable. Draco's aunt is in prison, admirable in her refusal to repent, though Lucius has also thought that Bellatrix is foolish, for their master is not coming back. It serves their cause much better to raise a son of his own to understand that he is Wizarding World nobility than to rot in Azkaban. "The followers of the Dark Lord were called Death Eaters," he tells Draco. "They were very powerful. After he was defeated, some people from the Ministry of Magic asked me whether I had been one of them, but I told them that I was not."
"They asked you because you were so powerful," says Draco, nodding as if this is an obvious fact, and Lucius bends quickly to kiss his son's forehead, hiding his expression. Perhaps it is not right to withhold the truth from the boy, which is what Lucius' father would have done. But how can knowing make Draco stronger now? He is too young to understand when he betrays himself; he does not even know enough not to speak the name of Voldemort aloud. If Lucius is cautious, there will be plenty of time to explain later.
Draco puts his arms around him, snuggling once more with his head beneath Lucius' chin. "You should return to your own room," he chides, but the boy does not move and Lucius does not prompt him again. His bed has been devoid of his wife's company for so long that he had not realized how large it was, how empty. Although he has found companionship elsewhere, satisfying his desires with attractive and accommodating partners, it is not the same as sharing a home with someone.
When his son is asleep, Lucius lifts him gently and places his head on one of the pillows with the covers up to his neck. Draco's face is tranquil, so calm and trusting that it fills Lucius with foreboding. He does not want to lose this child -- not by forcing him to grow up too soon, and not by overindulging him, allowing him to remain weak and malleable when he should become a leader.
Warm and secure in the room that is never shielded to him, Draco sleeps peacefully. But Lucius lies awake, staring into the darkness, wishing he knew of some absolute protection a parent could offer a child -- some way to be certain of keeping him safe.