Part 6 - Teardrop
Draco Malfoy trudged slowly along the manor’s main hallway. His footsteps echoed solemnly in the empty space.
Empty. He whispered the word, feeling the sound of his voice die in the chilly air.
They buried his mother today.
Funny. He missed her. They were never really close. His parents preferred to keep to themselves and so did Draco. At a young age, he had learned to be independent. Alone. Mourning would be ironic. They were never really together as a family. But he knew they loved him, in their own way. They just spent their time doing other things than be with him.
He supposed his routine wouldn’t change much. He’d stay in his room, or fly around the grounds with his broomstick. Practice quidditch. Go shopping. Visit friends and relatives sometimes for a few days… the same thing every year.
Except this summer, he won’t hear her voice in the Hall, informing the house-elves of the dinner plans. He would never see her smile again, or hear her laugh when they exchanged the rare joke. Yes, he had a mother. But she’s gone now.
Draco entered his room and shut the door behind him.
Lucius sat on his favorite chair in his study. Often, he stayed there alone. It was his haven—the place where he did his paperwork, or thought about his life. Narcissa hated the room with its dark paneled walls and rich pine flooring. She said it was too dark, preferring to stay in the airy sitting room downstairs.
The sitting room would miss her now.
She was dead, and it was all his fault.
He remembered their fight. He had discovered her infidelity. Furious, he stormed into the sitting room one night last week, angry as the hurricane battling the grounds outside, fully intending to throw the information back to her face. He couldn’t believe she would do this. He was fully aware that they never loved each other in the way they were supposed to but he never, ever ran around with other women behind her back. He would have thought honor was as important to her.
She never denied it. She admitted her liaisons with Avery. And two other men before him, but they didn’t matter. He had demanded her to stop, if only to salvage what was left of her reputation. She refused, claiming she loved the man. She blamed him for being too cold and unfeeling. She had been unhappy with him, she said. They exchanged shouts and accusations, until she declared her hatred for him and everything he represented. He had yelled at her to leave. Leave and never come back.
Extremely distraught, she left the house with only the clothes on her back, bringing one of her son’s broomsticks from the closet—while the storm raged full force outside the house. Maybe it was the rain, or the tears, or maybe she was just not paying enough attention, but she never did reach her lover.
They found her in the forest the next day. Her skin pale and cold. Beautiful as the day Lucius’ father chose her to be his son’s wife.
Remembering, a single tear trickled down his marble cheek.
A few weeks later…
Draco headed to the stairs, his freshly showered hair damp on his head. He felt famished and couldn’t wait for breakfast. On his way to the stairwell, he passed his father’s study. He paused for awhile, wondering if Lucius was inside. Since he came back from Hogwarts, Draco had seen his Father only once: during the funeral. He didn’t even remember talking to him.
Has he even left his study? Draco didn’t think so. He suddenly worried about Lucius. He might be depressed right now. He didn’t realize his father loved his mother this much.
He stood outside the door for a few minutes, deciding whether to knock or not. Lucius might be needing his privacy and resent his presence. He almost turned away but concern for his father made him do otherwise. Hesitantly, he knocked on the thick oak door.
“Who is it? What do you want?” Lucius certainly didn’t sound sick. His voice was as authoritarian as ever.
Draco entered. “It’s me, Draco.”
He shut the door carefully and turned towards the huge desk at the other side of the room, near the fireplace. The grate was empty and the room was cold. Too cold. Lucius sat on his leather chair, his body unseen because of the thick wool blanket he wrapped around himself.
So this is what he’s been doing. He’s trying to bury himself in here. Draco’s insides clenched at this vision. Lucius had always been strong and impressive—larger than life. All his life, his father had been a figure he looked up to, beautiful and formidable at the same time. This sad creature in the room simply wasn’t him.
“Why don’t you say it? I look pathetic.” He paused, his voice softened. “I am pathetic.”
Draco crossed the room and knelt beside the chair, laying his head on his father’s knee. He remembered doing the same thing only once. A long time ago. When he was too young to trouble himself with anything. But things were different now. He could feel Lucius’ guilt heavily on his shoulders as if the burden shifted itself to him. He didn’t care. Better that he carry this than to let his father suffer alone.
He whispered, “No, you’re not.”
He took his father’s hand and held it with his own. He felt it tremble slightly. “In fact, I was going to ask you if you wanted to join me for breakfast.”
Draco smiled at Lucius tentatively. “Would you join me this morning, Father?”
As Lucius looked into the eyes of his only son, he felt more than a little surprise. Draco looked like he cared. I don’t think anyone has ever looked at me that way before. Not his cold mother or his calculating father, and definitely not Narcissa. His poor beautiful Narcissa, more of a trophy than his wife.
He nodded slowly. It was the first time he started the day with a meal with his son.
Over the next few weeks, Lucius opened up slowly to Draco. He confessed his feelings of guilt, his sadness and isolation. He would never forgive himself for causing Narcissa’s unhappiness, and eventually leading her to her death.
“I stole your mother away, Draco.” He bowed his head, his hair a sheet of silver over his shoulders. They were having a picnic beside a lake inside the Malfoy grounds. It was a beautiful sunny day, but Lucius could not help feeling a little melancholy.
“No. It was not your fault. She was my mother and I miss her, but she’s gone now. She was not happy and her death had been an accident. Even you could not have known it was going to happen.” Draco touched his father’s cheek. His tone was serious, far too mature for a boy of fifteen.
“I could not make her happy. I couldn’t understand why, at first. Then, I realized, I could never make anyone happy because I didn’t know how to be…”
The silence stretched for a while before it was broken by Draco
“Are you still unhappy?”
Lucius turned towards his son. He looked at the boy, met the eyes so much like his own. They were apprehensive now, afraid of what he might say. In his way, Draco was very fragile. Lucius Malfoy, for the first time in his life, was moved by another human being.
“With you? I’m happy.”
“I love you, Father.”
They were content with the silence after that.
<end of flashback>
Lucius and Draco slept side by side, pale arms around each other. The younger man was the first to wake. The sun would rise in a few hours.
Draco snuggled into Lucius’ chest. He wasn’t worried. They had the rest of the summer. And after that, the rest of their lives.
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