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"Urrghhh."

Ah yes, the biting wit of the Malfoys. Draco lay still, nerving himself to open his eyes, trying to decide if he felt more sixteen or more dead. He always knew Pansy made a mean margarita, but last night she had really surpassed herself. And then Blaise had had some kind of potion….

"Urrghhh," Draco reiterated, and managed to pry his eyes open, wincing at the muted morning light filtering through the drapes covering his windows. It took barely a second of thought to make him choose not to sit up yet. His stomach still felt ready to turn inside out at any moment. He didn't dare swallow or move his head just now.

Time passed as he lay still and let his mind drift, and eventually he felt he could move without disaster. Slowly and cautiously he clambered out of bed and headed for the bathroom. A shower, a hangover potion, and a brushing of his teeth brightened his morning beyond all measure, and he dressed feeling the full return of his birthday mood.

"Good morning, Draco," his mother said with a small smile when he arrived at the breakfast table. "I rather expected you to sleep a little longer."

"Good morning, Mother." Draco said with a spine-cracking stretch. His mother didn't insist on rigid formality from him at all times. "No, it's too nice a day. I'm going out."

"Your father wants to speak to you this morning," she told him, and returned to her breakfast. Draco consumed his own bland meal in a haze of speculation, naming his shakiness anticipation instead of nervousness.

He couldn't tell from his mother's tone or look whether the summons was in anger or not. Really, though, there was no reason to borrow trouble. (At least, not unless his father had more ways of keeping an eye on Draco than Draco had supposed).

Now that he was sixteen, his father would surely take an interest in teaching him the more specialised things he would need to know when he became Lord Malfoy. That shouldn't be a cause for trepidation. The butterfly feeling in his middle was only because of the lingering traces of his hangover. Perhaps his father would even give him a gift to mark his increasing age and readiness for responsibility. Firebolt? Access to another family vault?

Lucius Malfoy was waiting for Draco in his study. He smiled as Draco came in and motioned him to the couch before the fireplace. Draco swallowed a sigh of relief; an invitation to sit on the couch usually meant his father was not displeased with him. Displeased meant the unforgiving chair in front of the desk.

"I trust you enjoyed your delayed birthday celebration," Lucius said, coming to sit in the plush armchair to Draco's right.

"Very much," said Draco, banishing a sudden memory of stinging liquid sliding down his throat and the sensation of someone's hands on his body as the world blurred and whirled around him. Merlin, he hoped those hands had belonged to someone he at least knew; there had been a lot of strangers at that party.

"Good. You're becoming a man. It's time to focus on making sure you also become an acceptable Malfoy," said Lucius. Draco winced internally (become?), but didn't let his face so much as twitch. Even in a good mood, Lucius would leap on any crack in his composure and pry at it until it bled. "This summer you will receive advanced tutoring in certain Arts which are shamefully neglected at that school. If you do well, you will receive a reward before the start of the new term."

"Thank you, Father," Draco murmured, now seething with curiosity. He would prefer his rewards – and punishments, too - to be clearly defined, but Lucius did not believe in unnecessary details before time. He enjoyed keeping people off balance; not even his family was exempt.

"Certain associates of mine will be watching your progress with great attention," Lucius added.

"I see," said Draco, concentrating on keeping the words strong and steady. He knew which associates his father meant; he didn't like to admit the thought was more off-putting than not. "Thank you, Father."

"Make me proud," said Lucius. He smiled coolly at his son. "Your tutor will be here Monday next. You may have the week to prepare yourself."

"Thank you, Father," Draco repeated. Lucius nodded and waved him out of the study.

Draco went out of the house and into the grounds behind the Manor with his mind churning. The interview had succeeded in casting a chilly shadow over his appreciation of the beautiful day. He'd been hoping that as he got older he would learn things that would make the prospect of joining the Dark Lord's ranks more attractive. He'd hoped he would be able to focus on the reshaping of the wizarding world that would see purebloods receiving their rightful due from everyone from Muggles to the almost-pureblood wizards. The Dark Lord would make that world a reality, and the Malfoys were and would be at his right hand.

The thought should thrill him. He was deeply unsettled that it didn't, much.

Instead, resentment rose. Wonderful. School during the holidays. Obviously his father knew that despite Draco's best efforts, there were wizards out there superior to him; perhaps even that Draco had doubts and questions about the course laid out for him.

Draco frowned at himself and shook his head. With a deftness born of a lifetime of practice, he shoved away the gloomy thoughts and doubts. They wouldn't change anything, anyway, and it was true that he loved to learn. Advanced tutoring would mean he returned to school with more and better skills than his schoolmates. I could come back and finally have the best of Potter…

Also with a reflex born of long practice, he smacked himself in the head as that thought registered.

Dammit! That was what, three hours without thinking about him? What is wrong with me? I'm a Malfoy! He's dust beneath my feet!

Just because he's a Parselmouth, and he faced the Dark Lord without dying, and he's brilliant at Quidditch, and the whole school is dying to shag him… Draco squared his shoulders and set his jaw. This is unacceptable. I'm going to learn something this summer that will put that Muggle-loving Golden Boy in his place.

As he continued to wander the more isolated sections of the Manor's grounds, Draco occupied his very vivid imagination with scenes of Potter finally in his proper place, thoroughly aware of the superiority of Draco Malfoy in every way.

I could put him under Imperius and make him lick my shoes in the Great Hall at dinner…or use magic to tease his Mudblood girl until she cries…she's pathetic! I see her cosying up to him, all smiles even while she glares everyone else away… The last thought annoyed him even more than memories of Quidditch defeats at Potter's hands. After all, no one won against Potter unless he was actually incapacitated.

Hmmm. I could zap him with butterfingers every time he came near a snitch! Or – or make him quit Quidditch – no. That would be boring. I could send invisible boggarts to follow him everywhere…

By the time he returned to the house, these thoughts had returned him to his earlier buoyant mood.