Chapter 1 – Riddikulus!
“This class is ridiculous.” He’d said, with a petulant frown marring his face. That had been the old him; the version of himself that was young and prejudiced, stupid, and scared, and desperate for others to feel more insecure and even more afraid than he was. These were feelings he’d had time to dwell on as he’d sat in his temporary cell in Azkaban, thinking of the past he so hated and the future that had been so up in the air. A future he didn’t think he had anymore – it was all death and Dementors from then on, and it did not seem so stark a difference from the couple years of living under Voldemort’s pale-blue thumb.
The last few years truly had been ridiculous – only he couldn’t wave a wand and cast Riddikulus at it. This wasn’t third year. He couldn’t cast Voldemort away; he couldn’t reverse time. Time stretched on. And somehow Harry bleeding Potter had given him another chance at life at the Ministry hearing.
Draco wasn’t sure he deserved it. Actually, he knew he didn’t.
Aurors had wanted the complete upheaval of his home to search for dark artifacts. The attic and Lucius’s study were the first to be ransacked, followed by every other room on the estate. The elves had taken weeks to clean the house from the state it had been left in from Voldemort’s residency, and they took a further week to tidy up the Aurors’s mess. But, before his father’s study was cleared, he inspected the site. Photographs and files were strewn across the floor along with father’s extensive book collection. A red book caught his eye – a fire among all the other books which were shades of coal or forest green. He’d picked it up and from the book fell a necklace with a sundial pendant surrounded by iron circles. From the angle he’d picked it up, the dial, a thin iron arrow, pointed right to his heart. The book hadn’t been a book at all; it was merely a box made to look like one. Perhaps the Aurors missed it, or perhaps they did not deem it a dark artifact. Either way, he wasn’t going to report it.
Engraved in miniscule letters along one of the irons rings was a line of text Draco squinted at.
For those who seek to find a way to master time. A.B.
He’d shrugged as he put the necklace on. A part of Draco wanted to be caught with it, whatever it was. He wanted to be sent away, he wanted to get what he deserved.
After that, ‘eighth’ year rolled around like a colossal pendulum, signalling that more time had passed, and he’d wasted every second of it. He’d sat in the solitude of the manor, hardly speaking to his forlorn mother before she’d departed for France, just whiling the days away and trying not to leave his room. Every other room in the manor held memories he wished to forget. It was the same at Hogwarts; each classroom reminded him of dead teachers, each meal in the Great Hall reminded him of friends who wouldn’t sit by him anymore.
It was mandatory that he attend Hogwarts that year – part of his parole. And he dreaded having to return to the place where he’d grown and bled and cowered and almost killed the Headmaster. He most of all dreaded the full moon without the help of Snape’s potions. Draco thanked Merlin he was talented in potion making, lest the students of Hogwarts be eaten by a blonde werewolf.
He was completely on his own this year, not even able to turn to Crabbe or Goyle. The former, having perished, and the latter, refusing to owl Draco back. He supposed it was well deserved. He was the reason his friend died. He was the reason for all of this, but if given the chance to do it all again, he’d have to repeat it lest he face the death of his mother and father.
Family. The only thing that had kept them alive, and oddly the thing that had gotten them into this mess. With his father locked away in Azkaban, his mother in self-inflicted seclusion in France, and Draco forced to attend Hogwarts, the family was isolated. Like shards of a broken mirror, they had been rattled and flung away upon impact of some great and solid object. Draco was utterly alone for the first time in his life. Not even sixth year had been as bad as the first term of eighth. The loneliness was all encompassing and was good friends with regret. They often took hold of his chest and dined on the organs found there until he was nothing more than a shaking shell, curling up on his bed and hoping the other boys didn’t see.
Students of all houses were placed together that year as not many had decided to return. Perhaps the ones who voluntarily came wanted to feel at home again, or they wished to put off living in the real world.
He could barely understand why the only one to approach him was Luna Lovegood, much to the shock of her friends, Girl-Weasley and Granger among them. Longbottom’s jaw had almost hit the floor. Draco had expected a Slytherin at the very least, but no. A blonde Ravenclaw he’d called Loony for years and had been a prisoner in his own home sat next to him in the Great Hall and started babbling on about invisible creatures flying around his head. She carried an air of dottiness, and Draco thought this was down to her radish earrings, the wand sticking out from behind her ear and her warnings of Wrackspurts.
“They float in through your ears and make your brain fuzzy,” she’d said, misty eyes wide, “you’re covered in them.”
He didn’t have the energy to turn her away or laugh at her. A young Draco would have, but this one didn’t care anymore. Since then, she’d become his shadow. Following him around the castle between classes and partnering with him where possible. And by Easter, tentatively, Neville Longbottom had joined them. They often studied plants in the greenhouses together or read in silence in the library, and in this silence, Granger had sat with them for the first time.
It wasn’t until after Gryffindor’s loss in Quidditch that he first spoke to Ginevra. She’d been moping around the field, hovering on her broom when he’d decided to take a fly. The conversation was short and resulted in nothing but anger from her. She’d stormed away, leaving Draco wondering what he’d done wrong. He was trying… really trying to be better. For Luna’s sake, at least.
“She lost her brother in the war. And is probably still angry that Harry spoke for you at the hearing, and probably hates you for letting in all the death eaters in sixth year, and…” Luna trailed on. And, and, bloody, and. There were a hundred and one reasons for Ginevra Weasley’s anger, and by the end of Luna’s moony-eyed speech, Draco figured he deserved Ginevra Weasley’s fire.
Coincidentally, they met in the air again, and flew around the pitch at night. The moon wasn’t far from being full – only a few more days left until the change. At least he’d had no trouble brewing Wolfsbane. Ingesting it… now that was the problem. Having to take a gobletful of the smoke-tasting stuff one week out of every month would be hard to get used to, and he doubted he ever would.
“Why are you here?” Ginny called.
He slowed his broom as he neared her.
“Why are you?” He asked.
“I asked you first.” She swiped her windswept hair away from her face and the red strands danced under the moonlight like blood running through her fingertips.
“I’d rather not talk about it.” He said, hands readjusting on the broom.
“Wow, colour me surprised.”
“A Malfoy, not wanting to talk about themselves?” She scoffed. “Did the world end?”
“Nearly.” He said.
Her half smile dropped, and his insides crumbled. He hadn’t realised making her smile – even when it was at his expense and completely unintended – would make him feel lighter. Much like when Luna laughed at his sour faced complaints about the Great Hall’s food not being good enough for House Elves, let alone people. Her misty-eyed giggles and soft words correcting him had irked him at first, but he’d grown used to it. Enjoyed it.
“I came here to be alone.” He said. It was silly, really. He craved the isolation that had made him so sick in the beginning of the school year. He wanted freedom from other people and all they reminded him of; whether that be the people lost in the war or his own past of tormenting them.
“So did I.” She shook her head. “We both failed.”
“Shall I leave?” He asked.
“What’s that?” She asked, eyes near his neck.
His hand darted up to his collar which he thought must’ve moved when flying, desperate to cover the scar – the bite. A gift from Fenrir. But the collar of his uniform was already covering it, and instead his fingers fell upon the chain he normally had tucked under his school shirt.
“The necklace?” He asked.
“It’s a… I don’t know. It’s just a sundial.” He held it out before him, studying it. He hadn’t given it much thought, preferring not to think of anything that could remind him of Lucius. He thumbed the iron rings and tried to spin the dial. It was stiff at first, but after some prodding, the dial complied, and he pushed it around and around like moving a clock’s big hand.
“I’m not surprised Malfoys’ are into gaudy stuff.”
“This? Gaudy?” He gave a half smile. “You haven’t seen anything when it comes to Malfoy jewellery.”
She hmmed as a red brow raised. “Again, you’ve surprised me. You should’ve said something about how poor I was and that us Weasley’s obviously would consider a necklace as simple and cheap as that one as being gaudy.”
“Me from a few years ago, maybe. Well, definitely.” He nodded, still fiddling with the dial in his nervousness. “But I'm trying something new this year. Lovegood calls it being… ‘nice,’ or something.”
“Or something.” She scoffed and the corners of her mouth raised in a slight smile.
“Want to race?” He asked. “Winner gets the necklace.”
With all the haughtiness of the younger Draco, she said, “As if I’d desire such a cheap bauble! I demand we wager… ten galleons?”
He gave a small scoff, but nodded, nonetheless. He dropped the necklace back to his chest, not having realised he’d been spinning the dial all this time. A burning pain shot up his thumb, through his arm and reverberated into his heart. The pain stole his breath and spread outwards like ripples on a lake. It wracked his chest, his arms, his legs. His grip on the broom loosened. Ginevra seemed to move in wavy lines of red and pale freckled flesh, blending with the quidditch stands and moving backwards. The wind rushed against the back of his head.
Time stopped and he fell from his broom into utter darkness.
Clearing his throat, he forced his heavy eyes open, and a familiar stone ceiling decked with curved beams lay above him. The hospital wing. He frowned, trying to recall what had led him here. He’d spoken to Weasley right before the mountain of pain had toppled him, likely knocking him from his broom. Weasley must’ve slowed his fall, but not enough to stop him from landing on his now thumping arm and head, which throbbed in tandem with one another.
Body dryly aching, he sat up. The hospital wing was empty, save for him, and only lit by beams of moonlight. His heavy eyes flew open. How long had he been in here? Had the change happened in front of others? He looked to the window and found a most peculiar sight: the full moon. It hovered in the sky, a milky silver, wide like the eye of a blind giant. He looked to his outstretched hand. Pale. Hairless. Smaller. Smaller? Ignoring the pain, he outstretched the other hand and studied it.
Two things dawned on him. One: it was a full moon, and he was not a wolf. Two: regardless of whether the change had happened, he was no longer a man.
His legs were shorter. His shoulders felt less broad, and his chest felt scrawnier and boyish. With shaking breaths, Draco wrenched the covers from his smaller body and darted from the bed, bare feet cringing against the cold stone floor.
Standing was an altogether new experience. Maybe he’d really bashed his head on the pitch. The room felt bigger, and he, smaller. Shorter. His gut swirled as he lost balance, falling against the bedside table, and using his good arm to hold himself upright. On the bedside table sat a box of chocolates – the fancy French kind his mother used to buy for him – along with a letter. Déjà vu struck his mind, making the room tilt and seem to enclose around him as if the walls had been doused in Shrinking Solution as he reached for the letter.
He skimmed the page. My Dearest Draco, blah, blah, blah…. Definitely his mother’s handwriting. We hope the wretched creature gets what it deserves. Had he been cursed into a different body by some ‘wretched creature’?
Shoving the letter onto the bed, he ignored his nausea and limped over to the medical trolley to find his reflection on the shiny metal surface. A wavy figure met him, not quite a true reflection, but it was his reflection. Pale, blonde, pointy.
He looked to the moon with his eyebrows arched desperately. He frowned; it’s not like the moon had any answers. He raised his good hand and let it hover under the moonlight. His fingers tapped the air as if he were playing piano on moon-beam keys.
He never thought he’d see another full moon again, not as himself.
Wishing to succumb to the raging headache, he padded over to his hospital bed and sat cross-legged on it, placing the box of French chocolates in his lap as he rubbed his hand over his face. Needing some sense of comfort, he plopped a chocolate in his mouth. Followed by another. And another.
His sense of smell wasn’t as good anymore. He should’ve smelled the chocolates as soon as he’d awoken. Normally he could smell people’s perfumes from down the hall, and since becoming a werewolf, the Great Hall had become a deafening symphony of scents. Mostly, he dreaded the strongest scent of all, one which he’d had his fair share of during the War: freshly spilled blood. It was a distinct metallic scent which seeped into his nostrils and danced along his tongue as if he’d been sucking on Sickles. And the iron scent always made the wolf inside him hungry.
Iron! He jumped as the thought crossed his mind, almost knocking the chocolates from his lap. He reached a hand to his neck, searching for the familiar chain of the sundial necklace. He shoved his hand inside the pyjama shirt, frantically searching before he realised Fenrir’s bite was gone and so was the necklace.
Chewing furiously on the chocolate, he sat back on the bed. He swallowed the eclair and plopped a truffle in, letting it melt on his tongue.
He needed answers. Luna must know. Or Ginny.
He swallowed the melted chocolate, letting that sooth him.
The answers could wait until the headache waned. Letting his head fall to the pillow, the last thing his fogged vision saw was the silver moon.
He woke to Pomfrey staring at him and the box of chocolates that was now strewn across the bed in a melted mess. Sitting up, he gulped, eyes wide as he mourned the loss of the chocolates. Some were still in the box, and he thanked Merlin. He’d learnt during the war that small comforts were vastly necessary if one were to keep their head.
“Did I hit my head?” He asked Pomfrey.
“I treated your arm, Mr Malfoy. What makes you say you hurt your head?” She asked, lips pulling into a straight line and making her face read of nothing but pure exasperation.
“Nothing…” He said, and she untensed. “Nothing major.” She tensed once more, ever so slightly, and he narrowed his eyes at her.
Unscrewing the top of a purple pear-shaped glass bottle, she plodded over to his bedside and poured some of a ghastly lumpy liquid into a metal spoon. The morning light shone through the bottle and cast purple shapes across his hand, shapes which reminded him of the bruises he’d gotten on his knuckles after trying and failing to repair the vanishing cabinet.
Draco wouldn’t ever forget the stuff Pomfrey held out – pain relief strictly for bone bruises or fractures. He’d taken a ton in his third year after the half-giant oaf’s overgrown chicken had attacked him. In truth, Draco supposed that he himself was the oaf; after all, he had been the one to provoke the chicken into attacking him.
Pomfrey held out the gloop-filled spoon for him to take and he frowned at it, hoping she’d managed to clean the spoon thoroughly enough for him to ingest. Widening his eyes, he leant forward to swallow it and tried to withhold his shiver as the sticky slime glugged down his throat and filled his nose with the scent of liquorice.
“Well, I,” He cleared his throat, “I seem to be having a bit of trouble remembering how I'm here.”
“The Groundskeeper carried you in.” She said, screwing the top onto the purple bottle of disgustingness and putting it away with all the others in the cabinet by her desk.
The groundskeeper had likely been near when Draco had fallen and instead of Ginevra Weasley levitating him in, the oaf must’ve carried him. Draco couldn’t stop the image of Hagrid carrying Saint Potter back to the wrecked Hogwarts courtyard, dead. But, of course, he hadn’t been.
“Yes, but what happened?” He asked.
“Maybe you did hit your head.” Pomfrey said as she raised a hand to his forehead, but he waved her hand away before she could touch him.
“I just remember falling. What happened exactly?”
“During your lesson the day before yesterday, you spooked a hippogriff and,” She nodded to his arm, “you sustained a bone bruise.”
Instead of letting his jaw drop as it wished to, he tensed his muscles, making his teeth grit until he was sure his molars would crack. The letter from mother made sense now… it was about the bloody chicken who’d attacked him in third year; the ‘wretched creature’ who was soon to be punished over Draco’s bone bruise.
This couldn’t be happening.
Upon seeing his reaction – or lack thereof – Pomfrey’s head tilted. “Mr Malfoy, maybe I should check your head.”
“No, no. I remember now.” He stood, swift. “I’ll just… get dressed. And then leave.”
“But you were making quite a fuss yesterday. One would’ve thought that if another minute or two had passed before you entered my care, you could’ve lost that arm.” She said with a twinkle behind her eyes.
Unbuttoning the top of his shirt, he narrowed his eyes at her. Nodding, she pulled the curtain rail closed, allowing him his privacy and in that privacy, he sank back to the chocolate-stained bed, hands rubbing at his face.
It seemed as if he had fallen off his broom and into his third year at Hogwarts. This had to be a joke. A very sick and incredibly well-planned joke. Yet, he couldn’t help but think of how he didn’t have any friends left who were cruel enough for this sort of joke, and nor did he have any enemies cunning enough to plot this.
He reached up to touch where Fenrir’s bite had been and found only smooth flesh and the hard jut of his collarbone. Whoever had made him believe he had escaped being a werewolf and an ex-Death Eater was going to suffer.
After a while of wandering around in the morning drone of students, he found himself by the entrance of the Great Hall where bacon and eggs and fresh toast wafted through the air and made his empty stomach clench. He raised a hand to his stomach as he took a step forward. He stopped as his eyes landed on his old friends sat in their regular spot on the table. Only Pansy still talked to him and even then she only said single sentences or gave stilted greetings.
Draco’s eyes found Crabbe.
He was alive.
Draco’s heart leapt. Vincent had been a bastard a lot of the time, but he was Draco’s bastard. He wanted to go to him and tell him how stupid it had been to lead him into the Room of Requirement to try and capture Potter, but this Crabbe would know nothing about that. It had been Draco’s last effort to do something that would redeem his family to the Dark Lord. It truly had looked as if their side was going to win… and for a second, they had, until Potter leapt from Hagrid’s arms. Draco had tossed Potter his wand to defeat the Dark Lord… a second of temporary insanity which made Draco wish he’d gone insane sooner. Perhaps he wouldn’t have let Death Eaters into the school and perhaps he wouldn’t have led Crabbe to an early and fiery death.
Crabbe’s eyes met his and soon enough, they were all waving him over. He waved back with a cautious nod and fled from the entrance, bumping into a shorter bushy haired student as he went. Hermione. A memory of her flashed in his mind like a sprinkling of sunlight after a winter full of storms. Their time in the library…
“Watch out, Malfoy.” She huffed up at him.
He tore his gaze from her before running through the corridors, dodging students with their books, and ignoring their glares. He ran until his arm thumped in pain and his head pleaded with him to stop.
Rounding a corner, he slumped against the wall with a quiet high-pitched whimper. The corridor spun. As he took a shaking breath, he caught a figure from the corner of his vision. He swung his head to the left to find two professors staring at him.
“Hullo.” Lupin gave a small and awkward smile.
“Out of the hospital wing already, Mr Malfoy?” McGonagall asked, brow wrinkling even more as she raised her brows in that pompous manner she always aimed at him.
“It wasn’t that bad of an injury, Professor.” It was true; hurting his arm when he was thirteen was nothing compared to the Cruciatus Curse.
“You’re very early for class.” She said.
“I am?” Draco said as his wide eyes landed on the door to the transfiguration classroom. “I am. Well, now that I think of it, I’ve actually left books in the dorm. I came straight from the hospital wing, you see. So, I’ll just… leave.”
As he walked past, he caught sight of a fresh scratch on Lupin’s face. Last night was a full moon. Memories of the end of third year flooded in; Snape had outed Lupin to the whole of Slytherin shortly before he’d been fired. Draco’s parents had been furious. First an oaf’s lesson had harmed their heir and then a werewolf was teaching him. Years later, they’d been distraught that their line was muddied by the blood of a werewolf. His blood.
If thirteen-year-old Draco had known of Lupin’s condition, he would’ve goaded the professor about it, made snide jokes or mock howled if his friends were with him. But now, he could only force his eyes to turn away from Lupin as he walked down the hall, chest aching with the memories of his own brief, yet seemingly unending, years as a werewolf.