When Draco was five he crawled into his mother’s lap, despite knowing he was too big for such actions any longer. Narcissa just let him, knowing these moments were getting fewer and farther between. He turned her hand to trace the silver words good evening on her palm.
“Did you enjoy your visit with your new friends?” she asked
“I suppose. Both Vinnie and Greg have black words.” Draco turned his palm to see the silver words no mine on his palm. “I’ve never met anyone small as me with silver words.”
“It’s rare, but it happens.” Narcissa sat quietly, waiting for the inevitable question her son always asked.
“Will you tell me about her again?” he asked with his small voice.
Narcissa’s heart fractured one more time, “Oh, my dearest, it’s best not to dwell on it. She was unsuitable, and that’s all you need to know.” She kissed the top of his head and caressed his baby-fine blond hair.
“Will you tell me about yours?”
This was something new. Perhaps he was ready to move on from his own lost soulmate. “There’s not much to tell. We met at a Ministry event. He was no one in particular. Certainly your father was more suited to my station. And now we’ve been very happily married for a long time.”
“Do you ever see him?”
“Occasionally our paths still cross. He is also married now, and has a son of his own.”
“Oh.” He traced the words across her palm again. His little body trembled in her lap and she held him tighter, rubbing soothing circles down his back. “Vinnie said I’m dirty because my soulmate must have been a dirty muggle to be cast off so soon.”
“My sweet boy, you know that isn’t true.” Narcissa sat Draco up so she could look into his teary grey eyes. “You are special, Draco. Very special. And your father and I would never settle for anything other than the very best for you. We’ll find someone suitable to your rank, and you will marry well above Vincent Crabbe. Never let him make you feel like you are less. You are a Malfoy and that is something to be proud of. Understand?”
He wiped at his nose with a morose nod. Narcissa made a mental note to speak with Lucius about the Crabbe boy.
When Draco was eight he rolled through the floo with a burst of excitement, floo powder, and soot. “Mummy! I’m back!”
Narcissa came into the drawing room to find her little boy dusting himself off, spreading the mess around. “Dearest! Stop! Let me help you.” With a laugh, she flicked her wand to vanish the soot.
Draco jumped from foot to foot. “You won’t believe it, Mummy! Vinnie found his soulmate!”
“At the quidditch game?”
“Yes! We were walking in and we bumped into another girl our age. Vinnie yelled at her and she screamed right back at him! Her name’s Millie. Vinnie’s dad and hers spent most of the game talking about it. Vinnie says she’s stupid but she thinks Vinnie’s stupid too so it seems like it’ll work out all right.”
“Oh my, that’s - well that’s incredible.” Narcissa’s heart fluttered as she led Draco to his rooms for a bath and clean clothes.
All evening, Lucius and Narcissa listened to tidbits about the quidditch match, interspersed with information about Millicent Bulstrode and Vincent Crabbe. Bedtime was going to be difficult.
“Mummy,” Draco said softly as his mother pulled the covers up to his chin. She paused but went on smoothing the covers, and his fringe back from his face. “Tell me, please. Tell me about her. Just one more time.”
“Draco…” Narcissa sighed.
“Please, I promise not to ask anymore after this. I just want to hear it one more time. Please?”
Narcissa summoned a chair from a corner of the room and settled into it with another sigh. “We were on holiday, at a house by the shore. I followed as you wandered down the beach to a group of children your age.”
She smiled at her son and turned his hand up to trace his words. “You stole a shell from her. ‘Mine,’ you said. ‘No, mine’ she yelled right back. You both cried when your words went silver.”
Draco closed his fingers over his mother’s fingers and tucked it under his cheek.
“Her mother came over, upset about the whole ordeal. She wasn’t ready to give up her daughter just yet. But I knew then she was not meant for you. They weren’t our kind.”
“Was she muggle?”
Narcissa hesitated, and decided that the magic spark she’d felt back then was best forgotten. “Yes,” she said quietly. Draco’s eyes widened, then shuttered. “It was best to just let them go. I modified her mother’s memory, and we went home.”
“I guess it’s better she doesn’t remember. It would be hard to live with a muggle, not doing any magic or anything. I bet the portrait hall would scare her to death.”
Narcissa laughed, “Of course. Honestly, it scares me a little.”
Draco giggled at his mother. Then his tiny face sobered. “Is father looking for a bride for me? I won’t be alone, will I?”
“You know he is. Only the best for you, dearest.”
Draco nodded and closed his eyes as his mother pressed a kiss to his temple. “Goodnight, my sweet boy.”
When Draco was eleven he met a new boy while getting new robes for school. He’d never met anyone that his parents hadn’t introduced to him. He was nervous but did his best to imitate what his father had taught him. It didn’t seem to work. This boy didn’t seem to like him, although Draco found him fascinating.
Why did he cover his words with gloves? What did they say? Why did his parents let him leave the house in such ill-fitting clothes? Why didn’t he play quidditch? Would he be in Slytherin with Draco? Then they could be friends of a sort.
But the boy rebuffed him.
This made Draco nervous. School was coming up fast and he was nervous about leaving home, and the safe bubble his parents created for him. He would only know Vinnie and Greg, and a little bit of Theo and Pansy. What if no one liked him?
That was the question he posed his mother that evening as she tucked him in. He hated that she still came to kiss him goodnight each night. Hated that he was too old but still needed it. Hated that he would miss it when he left. Hated that he couldn’t let go of the fear he held.
“What if no one likes me?”
“Of course they’ll like you, dearest. You’re a charming young man.”
Draco tucked the duvet under his chin. “Sometimes… sometimes I wish she hadn’t been a muggle,” he said quietly.
Narcissa sat heavily on his bed. “Oh Draco… You haven’t mentioned her in so long. I thought you’d moved past it all. She wasn’t right for you, dearest.”
“I know,” he said, rubbing his face in his pillow. “But she would be mine. Someone that would be my friend, no matter what. Someone to talk to when no one else will talk to me.”
Narcissa caressed his cheek with a smile. “There’s no need to worry about such things. You’ll find many friends at school. You’ll never have a moment alone. You’ll see.”
Draco nodded and squeezed his eyes shut tight as his mother kissed his temple and quietly slipped out the door.
At school, it was much as she said. He had friends, or at least people to spend time with. The other children in his House looked to him for guidance. Talk rarely seemed to cease about the Boy Who Lived, especially speculations on what his words might say.
When Draco was fourteen he admired his reflection in the mirror one last time. The other boys in the dorm buzzed around him, all getting ready for their dates for the Yule Ball. He straightened the fall of his robes and went to find Pansy.
Her pale pink robes were almost to frilly to be believed. Together they made their way to the dance. Draco did all the appropriate ‘boyfriend’ type things by asking her to dance, and bringing her punch. It wasn’t so bad, being her boyfriend. She didn’t seem to expect much from him, other than his name.
These little moments always brought his soulmate to mind. Of course, she wouldn’t be at Hogwarts with him, being a muggle and all, but if she were… would she settle into his embrace better than Pansy? Or would it be the same awkward sort of fumbling? Would she be willowy and pale, complimenting his own features? Or would she be plump and soft, with darker features? He didn’t know which he would prefer.
He did know looks didn’t matter as much as loyalty. He secretly watched Pansy hiding in a corner with that Ravenclaw she snuck around with behind his back. Was the Ravenclaw her soulmate? Did it matter? She liked the attention she received on Draco’s arm but not much else. Her false smiles and chaste kisses made his skin crawl but he accepted it nonetheless.
It was better than having no one.
When Draco was fifteen he reveled in the power he gained on Umbridge’s Inquisitorial Squad. Docking points from Potter and his band of do-gooders filled him with a rush he couldn’t find anywhere else. It wasn’t long before students were cozying up to him and his friends, willing to do nearly anything to avoid losing points or getting detention.
It was Daphne Greengrass that first suggested a quick snog to avoid punishment. Draco mulled it over for a few moments before agreeing. See how Pansy liked it when the shoe was on the other foot. Before long, other girls were offering up the same.
But it was a bold and desperate boy from Hufflepuff that really set Draco’s world over its tipping point. Apparently the Hufflepuff didn’t mind the deal the girls had made, and really, what did Draco have to lose? By this point, kissing had become a game. A power play.
Draco’s mouth moved with expert ease over the other boy’s mouth. It didn’t feel different, or taste different from any of the girls he’d tried. But one thing was very, very different. As Draco pressed him against the wall, he could feel the boy’s erection growing. It pressed into Draco’s hip, making him feel a little light-headed.
This was something real. Something undeniable. There was no lying about attraction or need here. This boy said he wanted Draco and here was the proof. He thought of Pansy and her Ravenclaw, of Daphne and her calculating look.
Girls could lie about who they wanted, but boys… Boys were slaves to attraction.
This was more than obvious when word got out and other boys tried the same trick. Some obviously enjoyed it, others were merely playing the part. Draco relished the power that came from reducing these boys, bigger and stronger than him, to begging messes. There was no artifice or elaborate schemes, only needs and needs met.
Draco went to bed each night feeling dirty and aroused, confused and excited. He ran his fingers over his silver words and apologized to the soulmate he’d lost, sorry that some days he didn’t think of her at all.
Would she be disgusted by him for preferring boys to girls? If he had her with him, would he need it so much? Since she was lost to him, did it matter?
He adjusted his uniform before leaving the common room, secretly hoping to catch a certain Gryffindor breaking the rules just one more time.
When Draco was sixteen, he lay still as death on his bed, staring at the stars dancing across the enchanted ceiling. His arm burned like a thousand suns and he tried his best not to move so as not to aggravate it.
He heard a tentative knock at the door. “Draco?” his mother called as she opened the door. She summoned the chair to sit next to his bed. “Draco, are you all right?”
He didn't bother to answer. He would never be all right again. The vacant look in that muggle boy’s eyes would haunt him until the end of his days.
Narcissa’s voice warbled a bit as she said, “Draco, dearest, I’m so - so very sorry.” She tried to take his hand but he hissed as pain shot up his arm.
They sat in silence for several minutes. Draco ran his tongue over his dried lips. His throat was raw but he managed to ask, “Do you think she would hate me?”
Tears fell from Narcissa’s eyes once again. There was only one ‘she’ that Draco ever asked about.
“Not for - “ His fingers twitched a bit, but Draco couldn’t even mention the Mark on his arm. “I just wanted - “ he broke off with a choked sob. He covered his eyes, tried to brush away tears. “He was so sweet, so… “ His voice trailed off until he finally whispered, “I thought no one would know.”
But in this house of horrors, someone always knew. Someone saw them together and told the Dark Lord. And now that boy was dead, murdered just before Draco was given his Mark. And an impossible task.
“She would hate me for being a freak.”
“No, darling, please - don’t think of yourself like that. You’re a good boy, Draco. Such a good boy.” Narcissa reached for her son but he twisted away from her, despite the pain it brought him.
She’d held back too long and now it was time for truths that would hurt before they healed.
“Draco, that day… you were only two years old. So small, so young.” She saw his body tense as he listened to her words. “There was so much time for you, time enough to make things different.” She pulled a handkerchief from her robe to wipe the tears from his face.
“He was tiny, so frail playing there with his brother and a pile of sand. His mother was a horrible, nasty woman. She didn’t even ask my name. Just offered to hand him over to us like a pair of old shoes. But your father… he would never have let you carry on with another - another boy. You needed a wife. A proper, pure-blooded wife to carry on our name. It was better if no one knew your soulmate was a boy.”
Draco stayed silently staring at the ceiling. He was almost afraid to ask his next question. But he didn’t have to. His mother, after all, knew him better than anyone.
“He’s not a muggle. I could feel the spark of magic in him. I don’t know if it was enough to admit him to Hogwarts, but it was there.”
Hope welled up inside Draco. Could he find this boy? Was he at school with him? Or maybe he could search in the muggle world. Surely they kept registries and the like. A name, he needed a name to get started. Eyes wide, he turned to his mother to see her wiping tears from her face.
“Her name was Petunia Dursley. She didn’t call the boy by name.”
It wasn’t much to go on, but it was better than nothing. He sent off owls in the name of research, combed through archives and old registries. Anything he could to find hint of a wizard or muggleborn with the surname. But it turned up nothing.
Throughout the year, he also worked on his impossible task. He bullied his friends into helping him with what they could, but it was a task he worked on mostly alone. The stress of it wore him down, making it difficult to eat and sleep. He tried to find peace by writing to his soulmate each night, begging his forgiveness. He burned every letter first thing every morning. He had to stop when he was nearly caught by Vinnie and Greg.
It was then he decided to pour his heart and worries out to a sympathetic ghost. She was kind to him, and didn’t care if he sometimes broke down in tears. But even that fell apart when Potter ripped him to shreds in the bathroom.
Finally, finally, the universe gave Draco a break and his ‘project’ was ready. He sent his owl off to the Manor, and merely had to wait for return word. Leaving the owlery, he nearly ran over Potter and Weasley coming in the door.
“ - you know the Dursleys will be glad for me to spend the summer hols elsewhere,” Potter was saying.
Draco stopped cold in his tracks. Weasley gave him a hard shove to move him out of the doorway. “Watch where you’re going, Malfoy!”
“What did you just say?”
“I said watch where - “
“No, the other thing. The Dursleys.”
Weasley and Potter frowned at each other. “What do you care about them for?”
“Dursley. I know that name. Petunia Dursley.”
Draco watched several emotions flit across Potter’s face. Fear, rage… hope?
“My aunt? Is she on some sort of hit list?” Potter asked as his brows drew down. “I’m not sure how I feel about that.”
“No it’s - “ Draco looked at the two boys, and the open air around them. He was so far from safety, from support. What if the two Gryffindors didn’t like what they heard from him? Would they obliviate him? Hex him? “I can’t say exactly.”
Potter rolled his eyes and pushed past Draco. “Well I’m not exactly quivering in my boots. The Dursleys can rot for all I care.”
Draco’s eyes darted down to Potter’s gloved hands. He never removed them, never answered when people asked about his words. But somehow Draco knew. He knew he was right. Potter was his. Potter would save him. He only had to prove it.
Shivering in the warm breeze, Draco hurried off to the castle to plan.
But it was too late for him. That evening, all hell broke loose at Draco’s hand. There was no saving him now.
When Draco was seventeen, he was close enough to his soulmate to kiss. He wished it could have been in a nice restaurant with romantic candle lighting and a bottle of wine between them.
Instead, he was surrounded by his mad aunt, bloodthirsty werewolves, and his desperate parents, with all the weight of the world on his shoulders.
His throat was dry and cracked as he said, “I don’t know.”
That night he cried through the pain. Harry got away. Whatever Draco suffered was worth it; his soulmate was safe.
Or, at least safer than he would be with Draco.
When the battle came to Hogwarts, the teachers struggled to contain the panic of all the students. When the younger children were led out of the Hall to safety, Draco escaped with Vinnie and Greg to find Harry.
There, in the Room of Hidden things, Draco nearly broke down. Surely if he delivered Harry to the Dark Lord, Harry would win. Once and for all. Surely he would.
Fear choked him, and then smoke choked him as the room burned around them. But Harry saved him. And left him.
Draco huddled in a corner, hiding now that his wand was gone and he had no way to defend himself. His body shook and he struggled not to break down completely. Surely it would all be over soon.
Then he felt it, the burn in his palms. In shock he looked down at his palm as the silver words faded away.
“No. No! NO!” Draco raged in an empty hallway. Curling up in a tight ball, he cradled his arm and sobbed for his lost soulmate. Harry had lost. How could this happen? Tears and snot and spit ran down his face but Draco didn’t care. Nothing mattered anymore.
But then it burned again. His palm burned anew, and he watched new words form.
His fingers trembled as he traced the letters. What did this mean? Was Harry alive after all?
On shaky legs he stood, needing to find his mother and get help and try to understand… and just… something. Hastily he wiped his face clean and cautiously made his way down the stairs to the courtyard.
The Dark Lord’s raspy voice rang out, telling everyone that Harry Potter was dead.
Draco saw him, in Hagrid’s arms. But he didn’t believe it. His heart raged that it couldn’t be true. His soulmate was alive and he knew it.
When Harry disappeared in the chaos, Draco knew the battle was won.
After, he sat with his parents and didn’t protest when Aurors led them away. As they walked down the steps, they passed Harry, Granger, and Weasley. Draco begged the Aurors for one single moment to speak with Harry. They looked at each other briefly, then one shrugged at the other.
Draco was escorted to the Gryffindors, and he heard the Auror say, “Mr Potter, this one wants a word with you.”
Harry glanced at Granger and Weasley, then gave a short nod at the Auror. He took Draco by the arm and dragged him a few feet away. He stood with arms crossed, bemused.
Draco peered into deep green eyes and lifted a trembling hand to Harry’s cheek.
“Draco?” Harry asked hesitantly.
Draco sighed in relief when the burn washed over his palm again. He curled his hand around Harry’s neck to pull him close and brushed his lips over Harry's lips. He felt the other boy stiffen under his hands, but he kissed him again, licking along the seam of his lips to gain entry. Harry tasted of fire, of victory, of safety.
He pulled away to see Harry’s shocked expression. “Draco…”
“In another life… “ Draco’s voice stuttered. He brushed a quick kiss against Harry’s lips, swallowing Harry's sharp gasp. He rested their foreheads together and whispered, “You could have been mine.”
Draco hunched into himself as the Auror led him away. Harry yanked off his glove and stared, bewildered, at his palm then up at Draco.
“Wait!” Harry called after them. “Wait!”
But it was too late. The Aurors were already activating the portkey that would take them away.
When Draco was eighteen, he left the Ministry a free man. He squinted against the sunlight as he made his way outside.
Leaning insolently on the red phone box was one Harry Potter, a white rose in his hand. Silently he offered it to Draco. With a small smile, he offered his elbow as well. “To a fresh start?”
With a shy smile, Draco linked his elbow with Harry’s and let Harry apparate them away.