Harry was early to breakfast for the first time in weeks. By the time Hermione had arrived, he
had finished his second bowl of cereal and was reaching for the eggs. He was so busy piling up his plate he didn't notice
he had an audience until Hermione asked,
'Shall I get you a bigger plate, Harry?'
'Ehm?' he replied, through a mouthful of toast.
'She means it's nice to see you've got your appetite back,' explained Ron, watching Harry scoop
up scrambled eggs with his toast.
'Hmm. It's weird, I'm ravenous this morning,' mused Harry.
'You look healthier, too. You've got some colour back. Decent night's sleep at last?' asked Hermione.
'Yeah,' smiled Harry, then returned his attention to his food.
Hermione sighed with relief and smiled at Ron. 'Maybe you're getting over the nightmares after
all. I must admit I thought it would take some sort of medical potion...'
'Oh, I had the nightmare...' interrupted Harry. Ron and Hermione looked at him in surprise. Harry
cleared his throat, reluctant to elaborate, but they were still staring at him. 'Umm, it wasn't so bad. I mean it was. Awful.
But there was...I wasn't...'
He never liked talking about his dreams, and today was especially difficult. He looked across
at the Slytherin table. An unusually pale, tired-looking Malfoy looked back, expressionless. Steel-grey eyes gazed into Harry's,
but without the usual sneer of loathing and contempt. Instead there was...something else.
Harry forgot what he was saying, for a moment. Ron followed Harry's gaze.
'Hell, what's wrong with Malfoy? He looks like death warmed up!' he said gleefully.
Hermione turned to look, Harry's dream momentarily forgotten. 'Good grief. Has he even done his
hair this morning? He must be ill if he can't be bothered with his appearance. Maybe it's flu...'
'Maybe it's typhoid,' said Ron hopefully.
Draco Malfoy wasn't ill. At least, not physically. He was, however, in a state of shock. He wasn't
sure what he had been expecting when he invaded Harry's dreams. Perhaps being chased by Dementors, or being locked in the
cupboard that Harry's Muggle family made him sleep in. Maybe dragons. He could have coped with dragons. But he was having
difficulty coping with the reality of what he had seen and heard the previous night.
Of course he had always known Voldemort was ruthless. He was well aware that during his rise
to power there had been casualties. That was the case with any war. It was no secret that Voldemort had killed the Potters,
for example. According to his father, they had tried to destroy him on many occasions and had come dangerously close to succeeding,
so Voldemort had simply acted in self-defence. Draco also knew that occasionally people needed to be...persuaded...to see
Voldemort's point of view. If that involved the odd threat or use of an Imperius curse then fair
enough. It was all for the greater good, and the ends justified the means. A little bit of fear never hurt anyone, after all.
It had never occurred to Draco to wonder why Voldemort had wanted to kill Harry Potter. After
all, he had been just a baby, so it must have been a mistake. The Potters would have put up a fight, as would the Death Eaters.
By all accounts there was a small battle which destroyed the whole house. Voldemort must have aimed a curse at the child in
the confusion...surely? And all the horror stories, which his father said were invented by the Ministry to keep people from
following a progressive radical who would revolutionise the running of the wizarding world...they were just stories, they had to be!
But last night he learned something he didn't know. If Harry's subconscious mind was to be believed,
Voldemort was in the habit of torturing people to death if they aggravated him, and that was not the action of a noble leader
with commendable beliefs.
Draco went over and over the dream in his head, trying to reassure himself. It
was just a dream, Draco. And somebody else's dream, at that. The Dark Lord doesn't really operate like that... But in the back of his mind he knew that Harry had met Voldemort, several times, and had been in a position to
observe first hand exactly how the Dark Lord operated. Harry's dream
was a more reliable indicator of Voldemort's real nature than anything his father had ever told him, and that meant that everything
he had been brought up to believe...might not be true?
Ron choked on his cornflakes. 'Look! Quick! I think he's going to throw up!'
Hermione and Harry glanced up in time to see Malfoy stagger to his feet and run from the hall,
ashen-faced and holding a hand to his mouth.
'Choked on your own ego, Malfoy?' crowed Ron.
'Stop it, Ron!' said Harry. They both stared at him. Harry stared back, wondering what on earth
had possessed him to say that. He recovered well. 'He must have just realised he forgot to brush his hair this morning.'
Draco ran blindly, not caring where he ended up, as long as he was away from prying eyes. If
he was going to have a crisis of faith he was damned if he'd have it in front of the whole school.
He stopped when he reached the deserted Charms department and stood, gasping, in the middle of
the corridor. He had to speak to his father, find out if it was true. He had to find out if Lucius himself had...no, no that's not possible. He tried to banish the thought, even as an unfamiliar
burning sensation afflicted his eyes and he realised he was about to cry.
He dropped to his knees, shaking with silent sobs. He couldn't do it. He couldn't ask his father
if he had tortured, or murdered in the name of Lord Voldemort. What if the answer was yes? What if, in the same breath, Lucius
stated that as the only son of Voldemort's chief supporter, the same would be expected of him one day?
He took a deep, shuddering breath. He had to find out the truth somehow, alone. His father must
not know about his doubts. Wiping his face with the sleeve of his robe, he got to his feet. There was still half an hour before
classes, and he stumbled off to the library.
The Daily Prophet Archive was housed in a side room off the main library. Over two hundred years'
worth of issues were bound in large leather volumes and stacked on shelves that reached from floor to twenty-foot-high ceiling.
Draco closed the door behind him and scanned the shelves for issues dating from Nineteen Eighty One. He found what he was
looking for and staggered to a table under the weight of the massive book. Opening it at random the first thing he saw was
a huge headline. 'DARK LORD DEFEATED?', and a picture of a sleeping baby. It took Draco a moment to realise that it was Harry.
The picture had obviously been taken before the attack, because he didn't have the scar.
Draco flipped back to the beginning of the volume. It seemed Voldemort had been particularly
active in the spring of that year.
'Muggle Family Slaughtered! Work of a Death Eater?', Draco read. He had always thought articles
like this were written by Muggle-loving reporters, trying to poison the public against Voldemort. He tried reading the article
as if it were a faithful, unbiased account of events.
It concerned a Muggle who had unwittingly stumbled upon the magical world. He had walked into
the Leaky Cauldron and asked to use something called a payphone. The staff had contacted the Ministry for damage control but
an unknown party (allegedly) followed him home.
By the time the Ministry 'cleaners' arrived, the man was dead. So were his wife, his two children
and his dog. A defamatory message had been left at the scene. The article didn't elaborate on that point, but Draco recalled
a reference Crabbe had once made to 'Anti-Muggle Calling Cards', and shivered. He'd thought that was just a joke.
He moved on. A picture of a derailed, smashed up train carriage, and a headline screaming 'Dark
Lord at Large in London! Thirty-eight Muggles Dead!' Of course, it could have been just an accident...
Flicking through page after page of deaths, disappearances and disasters, Draco finally found
something that made him freeze. A picture of his father, striding purposefully into a house which had had its windows and
front door blown out. The caption beneath the photograph said 'Ministry Official Lucius Malfoy was first at the scene'.
Draco glanced at the Headline 'Murder at Hogsmeade'. This was about the death of Mick Delaney,
the wizard who was rumoured to operate a kind of witness protection scheme for those who were prepared to inform against Voldemort.
Of all the mysterious deaths attributed to Voldemort and his supporters, Delaney was the first pureblood.
It was a famous case, and Draco found it odd that his father had never mentioned being involved
in the investigation. He frowned suddenly. Lucius had never had anything to do with the Department of Magical Law Enforcement,
or the Department of Magical Catastrophies. His only Ministry connections at the time were with the Department of Magical
Transportation. Why would the Ministry have sent him to investigate?
Draco raised his eyes from the page and stared blindly into space. The only reason Lucius would
have been sent to the scene was if he happened to be in Hogsmeade already. These events were years before his appointment
as a Hogwarts School governor, so why on earth would he have been there?
Draco slammed the book down and leapt to his feet, pacing the room in agitation. It was too much
of a coincidence. A suspected anti-Voldemort campaigner dies a violent death in Hogsmeade. Lucius Malfoy, a secret but devout
supporter of Voldemort, just happens to be in Hogsmeade at the time...
Draco knew from his modern history classes that the murderer was never caught. There was no useful
evidence found at the scene.
'Of course there wasn't,' growled Draco to himself, 'because the killer made sure there wasn't,
before anyone else turned up!'
The stuffy room suddenly seemed suffocating, and Draco took a few long, heaving breaths. He flung
the window open and rested his head against the frame. He was aware that he was shaking, but whether with anger, grief, or
shock he couldn't have said.
Everything he believed came from his father. The need to restrict places in the best Magical
schools to pureblood students, the importance of maintaining the traditional wizarding ways, the plans to keep Muggles and
wizards as separate as possible...they all seemed like such noble causes. Goals which could be achieved if enough people of
power and influence were to pull together.
Voldemort had made those goals seem closer than ever, but was this how it was done? With violence
and genocide? The stories about Voldemort's reign of terror, which Lucius had taught him to scoff at, were all true!
The wind whipped around the castle walls and ruffled Draco's hair, for once unhindered by copious
amounts of styling potion. Behind him the pages of the Daily Prophet fluttered and turned in the breeze. He moved away from
the window, struggling to compose himself. He had to pull himself together in time for Transfiguration. Until he knew what
to do with this information, he wasn't going to let on that anything had changed.
Pushing his hair out of his eyes, he returned to the open volume on the table. The wind had flipped
the pages forward a few months. The same photograph of Baby Harry was shown, but this time it was enlarged to nearly fill
the front page. Above it in bold black typeface were the words 'The Boy Who Lived!' Draco managed an ironic smile as he murmured
'So that's where it comes from.'
He sat down and watched the moving image for a while, not that there was much movement. Harry
was fast asleep, but the gentle rhythm of his breathing was hypnotic and soothing. Every so often a slight breeze would ruffle
the unruly tuft of black hair on his head, and he would wrinkle his tiny nose slightly before relaxing again.
It felt strange, seeing Harry without the mark that made him famous. It was as if he was seeing
the real Harry for the first time. Not celebrity Harry, not The Boy Who Lived, but just Harry.
He absently traced a finger along baby Harry's face, feeling calmer than he had since before
the dream, which seemed like years ago. 'He really did want to kill you, didn't he?' he muttered softly. 'But you didn't let
him. That's why people love you. I never understood, I thought it was all a lie...'
Draco gradually became aware that he had to get moving if he was going to get to Transfiguration
on time, but as he picked up the book to put it away, his eyes fell once more to the peaceful image of his erstwhile arch-enemy.
'You're just like me,' he said in quiet amazement. 'We both have a destiny we don't want. The
only difference is, I can reject mine...'