I'm going to get myself in fighting trim
Scope out every angle of unfair advantage
I'm going to bribe the officials, I'm going to kill all the judges
It's going to take you people years to recover from all of the damage
—The Mountain Goats, "Up The Wolves"
It had all been decided.
“I have not forgotten the way the Blacks have... disappointed me, in the past,” their Lord had said. “Nor... forgiven.”
“How fortunate for our cause that I am a Malfoy, my Lord,” Draco's mother had said, taking his father’s hand, “and our family, at least, has ever been the most devoted and effective of your servants.”
His aunt had bristled. His mother had raised her chin. The monster at the end of the table had slit his red eyes, smiled with his lipless mouth. The creepy old bastard was still a man, somewhere in there, and he did so enjoy the competition of women for his favor.
“Very well,” he had said. “It shall be you, Narcissa Malfoy.”
It wasn’t like the list had been particularly long: the task required subtlety, which knocked nearly every male Death Eater out of the running, and sanity, which knocked out just about all the females. And so: here stands Draco Malfoy, still sick and scabby from the last moon, huddled in Fenrir Greyback’s shadow, watching as a creature even darker and more twisted than either of them lowered a golden chain over his mother’s head, as if bestowing a grand favor.
His mother accepts the chain proudly, then bows deeply to the Dark Lord.
“My Lord," she says. "May I say goodbye to my family, before I go? I might not—” she hesitates.
Draco realizes, with a wrenching shock, that he could very well never be—have been?— born, after this. If this works. If his mother does as she’s volunteered to do. He could be... erased, like ink scrubbed from parchment. Unwritten. Reconsidered.
But she loves me, he thinks, and sees in Voldemort’s triumphant smile: she might very well love this man more. His own mother. Uncertainty twists Draco's heart.
Narcissa walks across the space, stepping lightly over the blood and chalk and salt drawn across the blasted clearing. Greyback looms: ghastly, paternal, one huge pawlike hand resting itself on Draco’s nape. His real father is held off halfway across the clearing by the great brute’s dangerous presence. Or by disgust. Perhaps that’s where all this has come from, or is going. Perhaps his mother wants to scrub out this whole chapter. Married an idiot and had an idiot son. One lost his spine and the other his humanity. Best to start again.
“Draco,” his mother says. His tongue is dead in his mouth. He nods. He’s head and shoulders taller than her now, but all he wants is to throw himself against her knees and cry.
“Mother,” he says. His voice is a rough rasp. Half growl. Shame takes him by the throat and cuts short any further attempt at speech.
“My son,” she says. “This is for the best.” She takes his wrist and pulls him suddenly forward, so sharply he stumbles. He nearly trips, trying to keep his heels and toes clear of the ritual lines, and by the time he’s caught his balance his mother’s got her wand out. Voldemort’s grim slash of a mouth is opening, his own wand swinging into position.
A gold chain loops around Draco’s neck. His mother’s small, pale fist is clutched around the time turner at the end of it. More wands are leveling. All of Draco’s hair is standing on end. One of his feet hit the dead center of the sending circle, and the other comes down not far from it. The lines are still intact. The spell is still ready.
“I love you,” his mother says. “Be good.”
Green light hits her square in the back. He can see the moment her soul is torn from her body: her dark eyes light up like emeralds. Her fist— her dead fist— still holds the time turner. And it— and everything— goes—
He hits the ground hard. The light blinds him. His arm burns. When he clamps his hand around the pain he finds it hot and wet: blood, he’s bleeding. Squinting through the blaze of gold he sees that Greyback’s bitemark has come open, somehow. And it’s... is it bigger? It’s bigger. The ragged crescent of fang wounds stretches not along his forearm, mirroring his Dark Mark, but instead from wrist to shoulder, each individual toothmark shockingly deep and wide, and he has no idea what went wrong. What his mother did.
No, he knows: she sent him back. She pinned her soul to the diagram and sent him back instead. The time turner itself is gone, burnt up in the sending. This is irreversible.
And, of course, there is no act of magic that can reverse the bite of a werewolf. Even a spell that reverses the victim himself. Even a spell that’s peeled the Dark Mark from his other arm like it was never there... Greyback’s teeth still burn in his flesh. They draw blood across years.
Merlin, how young is he? He’s losing a tremendous amount of blood. His arms are thin, his hands are soft, he’s wearing a child’s robes. The material’s fine but the cut is loose and simple, and it smells of lavender and cleaning charms, underneath the widening blood stains.
Children don’t have very much blood. He feels nauseous, thirsty, tired. He’s crying so loudly and desperately he can hardly breathe. His eyes have adjusted, at least: he’s at home, at the Manor, lying on the lawn. Bleeding out on the lawn.
“Help,” he says finally. He screams it again between the incoherent cries of a child’s pain and terror: “Help! Someone! Anyone! Mother!”
The Manor’s house elves appear, cracking into place, clean and severe in their crisp white pillowcase smocks. Greyback had hunted them for sport. He had eaten them.
Draco knows what his own servants taste like. He’s had their bones in his mouth. Three of them grab him, bundle him up off the lawn, and for a hysterical moment of terror he thinks they’re taking him off for revenge.
“I want my mum,” he sobs, and then she’s there, he’s somewhere cool and dim and she’s holding him tightly. He clutches at her with his free arm, screaming mum, mummy, upset beyond all hope of composure, or coherence. She died, she sent him back and died, and now his arm is a scarlet ruin, and it hurts so badly, and he’s been scared for so long, and he’s going to have to go on being scared forever. He’s been sent back but all the worst of what’s been done to him has come along too.
There’s a potion put to his mouth, a quiet spell. He slips away.
When he wakes, he’s in his own bed, his own bedroom. It’s much larger than he remembers, and of course brighter, cleaner, fresh. It doesn’t stink of dark magic and wolf piss. It’s just his room.
His mother is sitting in an armchair next to his bed. She’s dozed off, her head against the high back. She looks so young... it’s a shock to even think this. As unhappy as she seems in her uncomfortable doze, there’s so little gray in her dark hair, so few lines on her pale face. How had the war taken so much from her in such a short time?
He startles, then shrinks back against the pillows. His father is in the chair on the other side of his bed. Lucius’s knuckles are tight on the silver head of his cane. His brow is furrowed in concern. He’s in the sort of robes he used to wear to the Ministry, or Hogwarts’ board of governors. He must have come home when he heard about— about—
“How do you feel?” his father wants to know. His gaze is bright and clear. He leans towards Draco, as if he didn’t know, or understand, Draco’s condition.
“Fine,” Draco says automatically, and it comes out as a squeak. His father’s tight frown quirks at the edges.
“I sincerely doubt that,” he says. He reaches out and takes Draco’s hand in his. He and Draco both look at the bandages wrapped from wrist to shoulder.
“It’s werewolf,” Draco says. His voice still squeaks, where it isn’t a dry rasp, but he wants to get this over with. “A werewolf bit me, father. I’m a werewolf now.”
Lucius sits back, pale. Shocked. Furious. He grips the head of his cane more tightly, but he doesn’t let go of Draco’s hand. Draco stares at it and feels his eyes burn with tears. He wonders, a trifle inanely, if he’s going to cry at everything now that he’s a child again.
“We will find who did this,” Lucius says. “ I will find who did this. And there won’t be enough left of them to put in a snuff box, much less Azkaban.”
Draco looks up at his face, shocked. Lucius hadn’t been this way when it really happened. His father had been fresh from Azkaban, himself, gray all over and pitifully lost inside his head, and when Greyback and pulled Draco on to his lap and done the whole business Lucius had just stood there, through all the blood and screaming, and watched with empty eyes. Voldemort had laughed.
His mother hadn’t been there, then, and by the time she was it was all over but the bandaging. She had been furious. His father, now, is furious, and his eyes fairly blaze with it. He finally lets go of Draco, but only to get up and pace about his childhood bedroom, shoulders tight, teeth bared. He looks more wolf than Draco, now.
“I’ll call in the Aurors. I’ll call in the bloody Minister . No one gets a werewolf into my home— past my wards— hurts my son.”
It appears Draco is going to cry about everything now that he’s a child. His arm doesn’t hurt, but it feels heavy, and he’s still tremendously thirsty, and his father still loves him.
The mattress dips as his mother climbs onto it. She sits against the headboard and pulls Draco on to her lap. She strokes his hair, and he cries against her shoulder, not knowing or even caring how old he is, and she and his father plot revenge.
Greyback is identified through diagnostic spells the privately brought-in mediwizards run on his bite and his blood. The old monster is hunted, found, interrogated to the frustration of all parties involved— of course he can’t tell anyone how he got past the wards, or why he would have wanted to do so, or how managed to leave a wolf-bite under a gibbous moon— and executed. Werewolves, it appears, are dark enough creatures that dementors don’t want their souls. Greyback is destroyed like a beast, not a wizard, with a single unceremonious chop to the neck with an iron axe, and his body is sent to the Department of Mysteries to have some fun with.
Draco has just turned eleven, and the approach of June’s full moon at the end of the month crushes his parents’ desperate hope that he hadn’t contracted the curse, or at least not all of it. Even as cubs, werewolves are strong, immune to most wards and curses, and angry. The rage is a living thing inside Draco as the full moon approaches, beating against the insides of his ribs: a vicious, unreasoning fury at every single sentient being. At his mother for sending him to be here now. At his father for caring. The peacocks, for some reason, he's fine with.
“Warn the house elves,” he tells his parents. “Keep them away from me. I’ll kill them.”
He’s said this sort of thing before, when younger and throwing a fit over his lessons. His mother very nearly smiles at him the same way she used to— have some dignity , she’d say. Is this how a Malfoy should behave? Which was rich, considering the way his father would storm about when things hadn’t gone as well as he’d like at the Ministry.
“I’ll eat them,” he tells his mother, “I’ll pull them apart and I won’t care,” and he draws himself up as tall and serious as he’s able. He’s not sixteen anymore, much less seventeen, but he can remember the feeling: sickness. Desperation. And small bones breaking between his teeth. Narcissa nods, and summons the head elf, and gives the orders.
The full moon tears him inside-out for a fourth time, and what comes out on the other side isn’t just angry: it’s young and frightened and desperately lonely. The werewolf cub throws itself madly against the bars of his cell, down in the deepest levels of the Manor, again and again until its insides pulp and splinter. It is so profoundly alone it can only attempt to destroy itself from the agony.
In the morning Draco is bruised, and exhausted, and human. His parents fetch him back to his room, his real room, and a house elf brings him a bowl of warm, delicately seasoned broth.
“Thank you,” he's broken enough to tell the elf. He is so tremendously glad not to still be that insane lonely thing that he cries into his soup, and has to wipe his bruised nose with his raw knuckles inbetween spoonfuls.
His parents don’t understand how well he can hear, now, that he knows they whisper about him, that he can smell their fear, which grows as July grinds onwards.
“Durmstrang is an option,” his father says in low tones. “We have contacts there. Old friends to lean on. The conditions would be favorable for a dark creature.”
“Listen to yourself!” Narcissa hisses. “You know I’ll be damned if I’m getting him mixed up in that absolute bloody disaster of a war when he’s eleven, Lucius, and certainly not as some creature. We didn’t put down Greyback just to send our son off to go be someone else’s— someone else’s tool. Or toy.”
A long pause. “There’s private instructors,” his father finally suggests.
“But I belong at Hogwarts,” Draco says. His parents startle, and Draco leans around the doorframe to the study. “Why can’t I go to Hogwarts? I’ve my acceptance letter.”
“Draco, darling,” his mother starts.
“Don’t they take werewolves?” Draco demands. “Is there a law?” There shouldn’t be: not until after the scandal with Lupin, after his resignation.
“They won’t be kind to you,” Lucius says. “We had to work through too many official channels to locate Greyback. Someone spoke to the public.” The curl to his lip indicates that someone had gone on to regret it. “Draco, everyone knows about this. It’s been the scandal of the summer. All your classmates will know what you are save the mudbloods, and they’ll certainly be informed quickly enough. And they will not regard you favorably.”
Draco feels the hated, familiar burn of tears start up, but he squares his shoulders, and raises his chin.
“I belong at Hogwarts,” he says firmly, wishing his voice didn’t squeak so badly. “I got my letter. You two went there. All the Malfoys went there.”
“Malfoys went to Beauxbatons until the turn of the century, dear,” Narcissa says, looking faintly amused.
“All the Malfoys that matter,” Draco says. This actually wins a full smile from her.
Lucius grips his cane and goes pacing about the study.
“You won’t be treated well,” he repeats. “You’re my son and heir, you deserve respect , you deserve consideration . I won’t stand for you to be jeered at by a mob of filthy mudblood children and all their idiot common friends! Goggled at as if you were a, a sideshow, mocked, derided— ”
“Hounded,” Draco says, and has to pause for a moment to be horrified with himself.
His mother is no longer smiling, is possibly on the verge of her own set of tears, and he thinks Merlin, if this was Potter’s problem I could have spent the whole summer thinking up nasty jokes and all autumn telling them— but it isn’t. It isn’t Potter’s problem. He hasn’t even met Potter yet. It’s not even Potter’s birthday yet. The heroic little twerp’s still out there somewhere in the barbarian hinterlands of muggledom, thinking he’s about as remarkable as the next wandless savage.
His father has puffed up like one of the grounds’ peacocks, pale and tall and spittingly angry.
“This is no laughing matter, Draco!” he snaps.
Draco feels roughly as tall as a house elf before his father’s fury and concern.
“I know, I’m sorry,” he says. He wants to cringe— he wants to bloody well cry, of course—but he can’t back down on this. He curls his soft little hands into tiny, useless fists.
“This is your future, Draco. This is your life. You cannot expect us to stand by and let you throw away your every advantage, your opportunities.”
Grand words from a man who joined the Dark Lord twice, Draco thinks bitterly.
Aloud, he says: “I know.”
“We want the best for you,” his mother says. “And with... how things are now, for you... just what that might be requires a certain amount of consideration.”
“I want to go to Hogwarts,” Draco repeats, stubbornly. “It’s—” it’s my home, it’s mine , “—my right. I got my letter. Werewolves must have attended before, and anyway, isn’t father on the Board of Governors? Haven’t we given them enough gold to prove we care about this world as much as anyone, we belong here! I belong at Hogwarts! I’m not going to skulk off to bloody bollocking Durmstrang to be creepy old kid-touching Karkaroff’s pet monster!”
“Draco!” his mother snaps.
“What!?” he cries, wild with frustration.
“Oh.” He blinks. “Sorry.”
His father is nearly smiling, now. “By Merlin, Draco, where did you hear that about Karkaroff?”
Draco finally drops his gaze. “Well... Around.”
“You’d do well not to repeat such serious accusations,” his father says. “Clearly I’d have done just as well, too. Your sharp ears aren’t an entirely recent development, are they?”
Draco feels as shy as ever in the face of his father’s amusement. “Well,” he goes, again.
His mother sighs. His father pulls Draco into an embrace. He’s so tall when Draco’s this age, and he smells of his familiar old cologne, something warm and sharp. Draco clings to the fine wool of his father’s rich robes and breathes him in, the strength of his arms, the thrum of his magic, the long-lost sense of safety and power it imparts. He sniffles, but very quietly.
“So,” his father murmurs. “Hogwarts. I expect you’ll do us proud. Circumstances not withstanding.”
“I will. You’ll see.”