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The Things Draco Carries

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In Draco’s first year at Hogwarts, his schoolbag contains, of course, the requested set of quill feathers, ink and parchment as well as his school books. Every night, he makes certain to take out the books he does not need the next day. He does not want to carry around a load that is heavier than necessary. And besides, who in their right mind would want to look like that book-obsessed Mudblood, Granger?

His wand is one of Ollivander’s finest. It is made of hawthorn, with a core of unicorn hair, and Draco is rather proud of it. He likes the springy nature of the wood, so flexible and elegant. He will cast charms, jinxes and hexes and do great deeds with this wand, and he will make the name of Malfoy proud.

There is a small box that contains a selection of his favourite sweets: Frosted Icicles, Nougat Nips, and Chocolate Mints among them. Narcissa sends a new batch every week, claiming that she doesn’t want Draco to develop a taste for the more common sweets, like Fizzing Whizbees or Chocolate Frogs. Draco swaps the goodies with his less fortunate classmates to get a first impression, then decides that his mother is right. From then on, he keeps the best sweets for himself. The others he uses to bribe his classmates. He keeps track of their likes and dislikes and sometimes feigns shortage to get his point across.

The only common sweet Draco grows fond of are Pepper Imps – not because of the fire breathing, but rather for their peppery taste. Blaise tries to tease him about it, calling him Draaa-gon in a high-pitched voice. Draco feigns being startled, then coughs a tongue of flame in the direction of Blaise’s Transfiguration essay and ends their argument once and for all. His father, Draco thinks, would be pleased.

He carries a broom repair kit with him even to classes. His father has given it to Draco and told him that he should demonstrate excellent maintenance of his Comet 260 to prove himself worthy of a better broom. Whenever Draco is nervous, he pulls the kit out and inspects the sharp scissors for clipping off bent twigs, the small pot of polishing wax to make the broom shine. He likes the spicy smell of the wax and occasionally dips his finger into the creamy substance. When Potter makes the Gryffindor team without even a tryout, Draco flings the kit into the deepest corner of his trunk.

Last but not least, there is a little spatula from his potions kit. It once belonged to his grandfather. Draco has never met him, because Abraxas Malfoy died when Draco was about a year old. But there is a portrait in Lucius’s study that shows Draco’s grandfather in his favourite leisure activity as a widely travelled potions maker. He is holding his scales and spatula, and there is a cauldron sitting on the table behind him, along with Potions of the Middle East and a gilded scroll of parchment from the Society of Pioneers in Potions. The portrait likes to give lectures to whoever is willing to listen on The Traveller’s Saucy Sip – a potion that will make the drinker able to converse at high-speed in the local tongue. Draco has been able to recite the recipe for this particular potion since he was eight. He also knows that the final language-adjusting ingredient is the lower corner of the seventy-seventh scroll of parchment of a local dictionary.

Every year up to Draco’s eleventh birthday, Lucius has allowed him to assist in brewing a potion of Draco’s choice. Draco has always chosen the Saucy Sip. Lucius would wake Draco at dawn and take him to the laboratory. When the potion was ready, they would both take a light sip and Lucius would treat Draco to a trip to whatever country they decided to see. Draco has enjoyed conversations in Gaelic and Russian; he has tasted sweet watermelon under the sun of Tunisia and has felt the frosty wind on his face beneath the cold blue sky of Antarctica. They would Portkey back to Malfoy Manor around breakfast time. His mother would have Draco’s other presents ready at the lavishly decorated breakfast table and would pretend that she knew nothing about their little father-and-son trips.

***

When Draco is made Seeker for Slytherin in his second year, he retrieves his broom repair kit from his trunk and discovers that the pot of broom polish has a tiny crack and that wax has seeped into one of his socks. Reparo takes care of the problem.

Occasionally, he likes to nick other people’s stuff from the common room. It is not so much about wanting whatever he takes, but more about the thrill of not getting caught. All the better if he doesn’t know who the owner is. Draco usually returns the objects a few days later, drops them in a corner or stuffs them into the upholstery of one of the common room sofas. No harm done. Two small gift boxes he keeps for himself. The first one contains a small pendant on a silver chain. It has such a strong magical aura that Draco cannot bear the idea of not owning it. The second one, wrapped in simple brown paper and twine, he never opens. That way, he can still imagine that it could contain all kinds of things.

There is a Potions essay in his bag that Professor Snape has marked in Draco’s first year. He has written not too bad under the text, followed by the energetic scribble that is his signature. Knowing Snape, Draco treats the parchment as if his Professor’s script were written in ink of gold.

He keeps the news clippings from the Daily Prophet which his father sends him. He also keeps track of the dates of the monster’s attacks with a complicated Arithmancy pattern. If his calculations hold, he will make sure that everybody knows that he, Draco Malfoy, has predicted who the heir of Slytherin was all along.

Whenever a family member returns home from a trip, it has been Dobby’s task to unpack and clean the luggage. At the end of Draco’s second year, due to Potter’s scheming, Dobby is no longer there, and so Draco orders Prissy, one of the younger elves, to clean out his trunk and bag. She is so nervous that she makes a little tear in the lining. Prissy is inconsolable. Draco insists that she should iron her hands and sew tight the tear – in that order.

***

Since his thirteenth birthday he has carried a pocket Sneakoscope, given to him by Vince and Greg. They wrapped it in Slytherin colours, green paper with a silver ribbon. Draco knew they meant well, and even if his father could have easily bought him a better one, he treated them both to a Butterbeer in the common room. In his third year he will finally be able to invite his friends to Hogsmeade for his birthday. Draco has to cast a silencing charm on the Sneakoscope, because it whistles all day long in class. He does so grudgingly, because Vince and Greg can be easily offended when they get the impression that Draco does not appreciate their presents. They don’t take neglect lightly. Whenever he has to recast the charm, he tells himself that he is doing it merely for tactical reasons.

Madam Pomfrey gives him healing salve to tend to the slash in his arm he received from Buckbeak. Draco makes a show of applying it in the common room. When Pansy asks if she can help him with the salve, he first refuses, then relents. He hisses a little when she touches him with her finger, covered in the cool salve, and Pansy flinches. Draco assures her that he will be okay and that she should just go on with it. An occasional, almost well-hidden tremble of his arm is all he needs and Pansy practically melts. All Draco has to do to keep a straight face is to avoid Blaise’s grin from across the room.

Draco still keeps a button that has fallen off of his first Quidditch uniform. The uniform has long grown too small and has been given to one of Narcissa’s charity projects. When Prissy wanted to sew the button back on, Draco claimed that he must have lost it somewhere on the Quidditch pitch. If someone else is going to wear something so functional and beautiful that once belonged to a Malfoy, they should at least have to suffer a little imperfection.

He uses small pieces of parchment to draw doodles on – Potter flying in bad weather and falling off his broom, Dementors, little bits of poetry that turn into mocking songs about those Gryffindor goody two-shoes.

Pansy gives him a splinter of Potter’s broom after it has fallen prey to the Whomping Willow. She tells him that she got it as a present from a second-year Slytherin who has a crush on her. The opportunity is too good to let it pass, and Draco snatches Pansy into his arms and twirls her around.

There is one piece among his newspaper clipping collection he is particularly proud of. It refers to the death sentence of that stupid beast of a Hippogriff. Draco will finally get his revenge for being cut open and Dumbledore will see what comes of having asked that clumsy oaf to play teacher at Hogwarts.

When Granger, all self-righteous fury, slaps Draco in the face, she only proves that Mudbloods have no sense whatsoever of the right way to run the wizarding world. The imprint on his cheek doesn’t last long, but the sting of shame lingers, demanding payback.

***

For a short time at the beginning of his fourth year, Draco’s favourite item in his bag is the ticket for the upper seats with the Minister for Magic at the Quidditch World Cup. Draco likes to twirl it in his hand when he talks to Pansy in the evenings. Blaise pretends to read whenever Draco pulls it out of his bag. He says nothing, but Draco can see his dark gaze travelling to the ticket again and again.

The World Cup is the first time Draco has seen his father as a Death Eater. Before, all that Draco knew about was the abstract concept of fighting for the wizarding world to remain intact and undisturbed. Now, he has a better idea of the power that is involved in showing the Muggles and Mudbloods their place. Every time he replays the events in his mind, he shivers with excitement. He wants to shout his pride of his father into everybody’s face, wants to let them know that he, Draco Malfoy, will be a Death Eater one day, too. But Lucius has sworn him to silence, and Draco will keep his promise, even though it makes his tongue feel like lead in his mouth.

School favours Potter as much as ever and their new Professor for Defence Against the Dark Arts is no exception. Professor Snape sends Draco to the hospital wing after he has been transfigured into a ferret and bounced around. Madam Pomfrey gives him more of her healing salve to treat the bruises and abrasions hammered into his skin. This time, he retreats to the bathroom to apply the salve so that nobody will witness his distress. The pain and public humiliation have been enough to bear, and he doesn’t want to make an open display of his weakness.

Instead, he starts to note down a list of hexes to use against Potter and his friends. The one that enlarges Granger’s teeth works out nicely. But the joy doesn’t last long enough for Draco to lean back and rest on his laurels.

He still drags around his Potions essay from three years ago. Other essays have come and gone, and while on occasion Professor Snape’s comments have inclined to all right and even well done, none of them can cause in Draco this persistent, burning sensation to prove himself. He traces not too bad with his index finger and pictures Snape’s sneering face looking at Potter and then turning to Draco and actually saying it out aloud, Not too bad, Mr Malfoy. Ten points to Slytherin. And, smiling to himself, Draco tucks the essay back into his bag.

To spread the war against Potter to everyone who is willing to participate, Draco focuses all his energy on developing the POTTER-STINKS!-badges. His bag is bulging from the sheer mass Draco has stuffed inside to hand them out after classes. They are a tremendous success and everybody in Slytherin claps him on the shoulder and tells him that they wished they’d thought of something equally cunning. Draco is glad that his bruises are gone, smirks and makes a flippant remark about Potter being so used to the stink of the Weasel-hovel that he wouldn’t recognise his own smelly arse if it bit him in the face.

He also carries a list of translations for common Bulgarian expressions. Even though he knows how to brew The Traveller’s Saucy Sip, he doesn’t have enough pocket money to buy its list of ingredients. So he has to resort to word-by-word translation spells and his talent for accents. Krum turns out not to be much of a conversationalist. Any comments about his profession are met with a scowl and the hint that Krum isn’t allowed to speak of these things without consulting his agent first. Draco tries a more leisurely approach at dinner. “We have a lovely summer home on the Black Sea coast; you must drop by sometime.” Krum mumbles something almost intelligible about training in the Black Sea for the Tournament. Of course he has. Draco offers what he hopes is a non-committal smile and is glad when Dumbledore calls it a night.

Then, there is note from Pansy: Meet me at the statue of the one-eyed witch. She kisses him there, on the cheek, and blushes scarlet. Draco kisses her back, on the lips. Pansy allows the kiss, then doesn’t talk to him for two weeks. When Draco asks her to be his partner for the Yule Ball, she says yes and pretends that it means nothing. But her eyes light up, and Draco knows.

***

Draco comes to the conclusion that his Sneakoscope never revealed the identity of the false Professor Moody. He leaves it back in his room at the Manor when he returns to Hogwarts as a fifth year prefect after the summer.

Drawing on the joy of his public campaign against Potter the year before, Draco aims to repeat the tactic on Weasley. History of Magic is a class where he can easily jot down initial ideas that he later forges into the lines and tune of Weasley Is Our King. The song is a roaring success, and not just among the Slytherins – at least until Gryffindor wins the match against Hufflepuff. Draco hates the new lines and swears to himself that next time he will make sure to come up with a rhyme that cannot be turned around that easily.

Quidditch becomes less important with the rise of the Inquisitorial Squad. Draco keeps the badge pinned to his robes all the time. In his bag he carries a list of misdeeds and the respective punishments the Squad members are allowed to dole out, signed by Umbridge herself. If Draco gets a little over-enthusiastic in interpreting his tasks every now and then, it just shows how eager and creative he can be when he sees a chance to prove his merit.

At the end of the term all hell breaks lose. Umbridge falls from grace, Dumbledore returns to the school and Draco’s father is arrested. Draco’s hands are heavy with hate. He wants to hit and hex Potter to ease at least a little of the weight.

Over the summer, he will also start to carry the searching glances Narcissa sends in his direction, her insistent pleas for him to stay safe and out of trouble. Draco winces every time he remembers the look on her face when she was finally finished healing the damage done to him and his friends by Potter’s gang. She never mentions the abuse Draco has suffered, but that’s not necessary. The edge to her voice is enough to tell him how much she worries. When Aunt Bellatrix takes up permanent residence at Malfoy Manor in the summer, Draco is glad that, finally, there is an adult who will take him seriously in his need to redeem the family name. That, finally, there is someone who wants to lift the mood and to take action just as desperately as Draco himself.

***

In his need for secrecy Draco has absolutely forbidden Prissy to touch his bag. At the beginning of his sixth school year, he turns it inside out and gets rid of all the debris he will not need any more: his discarded Inquisitorial Squad badge, various crumpled news clippings from the Prophet, his scribbled notes about Potter and the Weasel-King, and an empty Dribble’s Nibbly Nougat Nips wrapper. They were his favourite sweets. He won’t be able to buy them any longer because Dagobert Dribble has been abducted by Death Eaters. He finds that the pot of broom polish has finally given in to the crack and discards it. He never gets around to replacing it. Draco’s broom stands in the corner of his dormitory, forgotten. This year, he has other things on his mind.

He has visited Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes during the summer holidays. There have been so many rumours about the place, even among the Slytherins, that Draco had to take a sneak peek at an order form and check out their supplies. And he got lucky. Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder might come in handy when he needs a distraction.

There is a letter to his father carefully tucked away in his bag, in which Draco tells him that he will take care of his mother and the Manor while Lucius is away. It has taken Draco all of his summer to compose the letter in his mind to get it right. When he finally sits down to put the words on parchment, he already knows every line by heart. He never owls the letter, because he doesn’t want to draw more attention from either side to his father than there already is. Every time Draco visits the owlery, Atlas flies to his shoulder and keeps nibbling at Draco’s hair until Draco shoos him away. He can tell that his owl is discontent about the lack of letters, but Draco can’t write just to make an owl happy, no matter how much he would like to.

There is also the fact that after sending the letter, he would hope for an answer, no matter how impossible it is for inmates of Azkaban to come across quill and parchment. But Draco would never admit that he is afraid of not getting an answer, not even to himself.

He spends one afternoon sewing a secret compartment into his bag. This is where he keeps the set of tools he bought at Borgin and Burke’s, as well as the key for the Vanishing Cabinet. The same compartment holds the enchanted coin to send messages to Rosmerta at the Three Broomsticks. The oil to smooth the Cabinet’s rusty hinges comes in a dodgy flask; the lid is leaking and mid-term the oil soils one of Draco’s Transfiguration essays.

The essay protects another piece of parchment from getting stained. It is the last letter his mother sent him before Christmas, almost begging him to come home for the holidays. They dance around each other all year long, Narcissa tense with worry about her husband and her son. Draco sees the growing stack of letters in his trunk whenever he opens it to retrieve fresh clothes. He keeps his answers short and insists that he is doing fine, that his huge orders of books on wizarding engineering and craftsmanship are only due to a school project.

A packet of Chocolate Mints sits at the bottom of his bag. They are his second favourite sweets, with a minty hard shell and a soft chocolaty core. At the start of the year, he likes to suck on them while fiddling with the Cabinet. But as time wears thin, he is too frantic to remember that he is hungry. He doesn’t talk to his classmates any longer, and the sweets remain in his bag, gathering dust.

Then there is The Potion Maker’s Protective Lotion, which is remarkably effective in healing minor cuts and burns. Draco’s hands are permanently covered in scratches and splinters where he has to force them into the dark corners of the Cabinet. He has to keep his hands in the best possible condition to fulfil his task. Alas, the lotion does not help against the burning pain on the inside of his left forearm.

He stores the ingredients for Polyjuice Potion in his bag as well. Vince and Greg hate standing guard, particularly when disguised as ickle first year girls, but he forces them with tales of Fenrir Greyback. They don’t know that Draco fears him, too.

He buys the ingredients by owl delivery from the apothecary on Diagon Alley. It is not as if Polyjuice is a non-tradable substance, even though the Daily Prophet warns that Death Eaters might use it for disguise. Slughorn showed the potion to them in his first class, and Draco knows that the less he acts as if he is hiding something, the less attention he will draw to himself. He hauls a spare cauldron and brewing kit to Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. No one uses it because the ghost is so utterly annoying. Myrtle tells him that he is not the first person to visit the bathroom for that particular activity and warns him not to confuse human and animal hairs. But she refuses to reveal the identity of the other brewers or when they used the bathroom. Draco needs loads of Polyjuice Potion and keeps returning, slowly becoming accustomed to Myrtle’s incessant chatter.

It happens one day after a particularly frustrating time in the Room of Hidden Things. “You look sad,” remarks Myrtle. “What’s wrong with you?” Draco is so shocked that he forgets to add the powdered bicorn horn and his grandfather’s spatula clatters on the floor. Myrtle watches him, all eyes and ears. Apart from his initial boasting to his fellow Slytherins on the Hogwarts Express, Draco has not talked to anyone about his mission. Once he starts, he does not know how to stop, either the words or the tears.

Professor Snape comes close to prising Draco’s secrets from him in the aftermath of Slughorn’s Christmas party. Alone in his dormitory Draco pulls out his Potions essay from his bag with shaking hands. The parchment is soft from years of being carried around. Draco can feel his eyes burn with fatigue and he knows that not too bad is not nearly good enough. The only way to make things right is to accomplish the tasks set for him by the Dark Lord. He knows that everyone believes that he will probably die in the attempt. But the thought of what will happen if he stops trying constricts his throat to the point of choking. He clenches his fist around the essay, the sound of the tearing parchment shrills in his ears, and Draco feels like he is being slashed open by a thousand knives, gutted only to reveal that there is nothing in him that is worth saving.

***

Around the end of his sixth year, Draco has stopped insisting that he is doing fine. The night after Snape delivers him to Malfoy Manor like a parcel of flobberworms, Draco adds a fresh medium-sized jar of healing salve, a flask of water and another of pain-killing potion to his bag. The water helps to wash down the ever-present taste of bile in the back of his throat. Over the summer, Draco racks his brain for a way to offer the potion to his father without openly embarrassing him, but comes up with none. Lucius, who has taught Draco about the importance of being impeccably turned out at all costs, comes down to breakfast one day with his left cuff missing a cufflink. There are tight lines around his mouth and eyes Draco cannot remember having ever seen before.

Draco is relieved that the Dark Lord never uses him to punish his father. He might be forced to use the Cruciatus Curse on other Death Eaters, but his malice is evidently too weak for what the Dark Lord considers appropriate for Lucius Malfoy. In effect, this means more pain for his father, and yet Draco is grateful to be spared this particular task. The Dark Lord would suspect him of deceit if Draco were to overcome his reluctance and volunteer to curse his father. But the guilt of not being able to mean the curse, of not being able to pretend to do more damage than he would actually inflict tears into Draco every time he has to watch his father thrashing on the carpets of the drawing room.

Life at school is not much different from life at the Manor. Draco tries to squeeze The Healer’s Aid into his bag. He discards it as too bulky after a few days and instead copies the section about curse-induced tremors and pain. It is not as if he can do much anyhow.

It is strangely soothing how there is still the need in class for basic items like ink, parchment and a quill. Draco sits in his lessons like he is held under the Imperius Curse, going through the motions, feeling nothing. And yet, he is not willing to give up this semblance of normality, not even in the dragging hours the Carrows call teaching. There might be torture, students chained to the wall and writhing on the floor, screaming with pain, but as long as he takes notes, he can pretend that there will be a way to survive the madness.

The Easter holidays come and Potter escapes from the Manor. Dreamless Sleep Potion is the only way for Draco to flee from the memory of his aunt’s lectures and from hearing his father’s painful wheezes. His mother’s resolve, on the other hand, is silent, and Draco has to make sure that he does not miss the signs. When he leaves for Hogwarts, he has his mother’s wand to add to his bag. He also takes a large bottle of Dreamless Sleep. If he is careful, Snape tells him, one bottle will last for about twelve days. Draco goes through one and a half bottles a week.

The remainder of the school year is a blur of pretending to care about things that don’t matter to him any longer. What should be important is to stay ahead, to keep control of his position in class so that he could still manipulate his classmates. But Draco is not good at pretending any more, and not too bad is worse than ever. Draco cannot make up his mind. He stops taking notes in class one day and goes back to reading the assigned texts and answering his Professors’ questions the next. He will argue with Vince one evening over dinner and sit in silence through breakfast the following morning. What power he might have had at Hogwarts is continually slipping away.

The battle is over and, sitting together with his parents in the great hall, Draco gently frees his hands from those of his mother to investigate what has remained intact inside his bag. The leather is covered with scorch marks, and he has no idea how he managed not to lose the bag in his wild escape through the castle. All of the bottles are broken, and their contents have seeped into the leather and the lining, reducing the bottom of the bag to a sticky mess of sweets, spilled healing salve and splinters of glass. His mother’s wand is lost to the Fiendfyre. Potter has killed the Dark Lord with Draco’s wand, which counts as a great deed for sure, though it brings no pride for the name of Malfoy. The former Tom Riddle lies in a crumpled heap where he fell, untouched, apart from the bodies of their dead Professors and classmates.

Draco looks around and sees Gregory sitting huddled at a pillar, wrapped up in his own arms like a lunatic in a full body-bind. Gregory’s lips are moving too fast in a face that is deadly white under streaks of soot. He keeps rocking his whole upper body to and fro, to and fro, a clumsy bird unable to fly. Draco closes his eyes, but the jerky motion continues behind his eyelids. His chest is tight from the burden of all that is lost, and he knows that sooner or later, someone will call out his name. He will have to open his eyes and face the world, and no matter how much he wishes to, he won’t be able to walk away lightly.

The End