Chapter 03

Draco frowned as he walked into his study. He placed the copy of the translation Potter had given him on his desk and sat down to study it. The first line was concerning because there was only a handful of people who would say something like that.

To save the world, I must become a monster.

Draco sighed as he considered the sentiment in the words. Who would sacrifice themselves to save the world except some noble Gryffindor? He frowned. Historically, however, Gryffindors tended to avoid acting in a way that would tarnish the world’s impression of them as Light wizards. But Dark wizards didn’t have a problem with being seen as monstrous. Whether they acted in positive ways or negative ways, the world at large always saw Dark wizards as monsters.

Draco rubbed his eyes, trying to eradicate the frustration he felt at the world for not understanding what it meant to be a Dark wizard. After the war with Voldemort, he had had to work incredibly hard to become a Cursebreaker. With the stigma of his family name, that hadn’t been an easy feat. Getting admitted into Edinburgh’s University of Magic had taken a toll on his bank account. Even though he had all the requisite OWLs and NEWTs needed to enroll, the school had refused to allow him admission without a sizable donation to cover the potential backlash they would face for admitting a Malfoy.

That he had been forced to spend over fifty thousand galleons to be admitted into a school he could have otherwise attended for five hundred galleons was a fact that still galled Draco. And he knew there were rumors amongst his peers that he had bought his way to his degree – that he hadn’t earned the right to call himself a Cursebreaker the way the rest of the students in his program had.

Getting hired at the Ministry as a Cursebreaker hadn’t been easy, either. To land the job he had, Draco had been forced to pull strings. Although he had tried to conceal how desperate he was for Potter to translate these documents, the truth was, Draco was desperate. Unless he could convince the head of the Cursebreaking Department that he had no intentions of following in the footsteps of his father, there was no guarantee that Draco would be able to keep this job. And he needed the job. Not for the money – the wealth he had inherited after his father had died in Azkaban was enough that he would never need to work for money.

If he wanted to, Draco could spend the rest of his life at Malfoy Manor without working. The Malfoy fortune was one of the largest in Wizarding Britain, if not the largest, so Draco had the comfort of knowing that his affluence would last forever. The problem with that, however, was that the Malfoy name was currently infamous, stained by his father’s association with Voldemort when the Dark Lord had been in power. Draco wanted to eradicate that stain, and the only way he knew to do that was to actively pursue cases of dark magic.

Cursebreaking had been the only course of study that Draco could have signed up for at Edinburgh. The other courses required an affinity for Light magic. Cursebreaking required an affinity for Dark magic. Curses were naturally Dark magic, so the only type of magic that could break a curse was a type of Dark magic. There had been rumors in school that he had chosen the cursebreaking program because it kept him close to his roots, but the people who had spread those rumors didn’t understand how Dark magic worked.

Yes, it was true that the Malfoy line was renowned for the Dark magic it practiced – no matter what he did, Draco would never be able to get away from that legacy. But Dark magic hadn’t started out being used in the ways lunatics like Voldemort had used it. It wasn’t meant to be used to torture people – it was meant to be used to explore the wilder sides of life. Where Light magic was order, Dark magic was chaos. How it was used determined whether the magic was good or bad, but over the centuries, the wizarding world had forgotten that Dark magic wasn’t automatically evil.

That was why Draco had gone to Potter with the scrolls. He knew that Potter spoke Parseltongue, and he knew that Parseltongue was a Dark ability. Draco remembered the scandal in second year when Potter had been accused of opening the chamber of secrets. For a few months, it seemed as if everyone in Slytherin had expected Draco to be the Heir of Slytherin. Instead of being reviled for it, however, the Slytherins had exalted Draco. Even when he told them, point blank, that he wasn’t the Heir, a lot of his housemates had refused to believe him.

When it came out that Potter was a Parselmouth, the general reaction had been revulsion and fear. No one expected the savior of the wizarding world to have a Dark ability, especially not one as dangerous and unsavory as Parseltongue. When Draco had learned of Potter’s ability, he had been impressed and a little jealous. That Potter, a wizard who screamed Light magic from his pores, also had one of the Darkest magics in his possession, was not only incredible, it had seemed incredibly unfair.

Draco’s affinity for Dark magic was legendary amongst his peers, but he didn’t have any particularly strong Dark talents. He was an exceptional Cursebreaker, but the reason he was good at breaking curses was because he had spent tireless hours perfecting the art. He was a diligent student – he had always been a diligent student. In order to keep the pride of the Malfoy name in-tact, Draco had learned to keep his grades high. After all, he was the only Malfoy left. After Lucius died, Narcissa killed herself as a last act of spousal loyalty. She hadn’t had the courtesy to live for the sake of her son, and Draco found that he hated her quite a bit for her decision to commit suicide.

Still, knowing all of that and reminiscing on the past wasn’t going to help him get the scrolls translated. And Draco needed to get the scrolls translated. Proving to his boss that he had the ability to overcome past differences with someone like Potter would go a long way to ensuring his ability to keep working as a Cursebreaker. Not to mention, Potter didn’t like dealing with strangers.

Draco had seen that time and time again over the years, even after the war had ended and their class has been allowed to graduate early. Every time Potter did something even minutely praiseworthy, the press was on him. At first, Draco had been jealous of all the attention Potter got. There was a time when he would have welcomed the press into his life, a time he would have happily shown off his achievements.

As the years passed, however, Draco mellowed out. He started feeling sympathetic for Potter because the man had to deal with being famous. Having seen the way reporters milled around Potter, sniffing for even a hint of an interview, Draco was profoundly grateful he didn’t have that type of fame haunting him. Still, there was a spark of the rivalry that had existed between them during their Hogwarts days that meant Draco kept up with what Potter was doing. He remembered the day that Potter had announced his decision to open Parselsmith and the backlash Potter received for daring to be the proprietor of a shop that dealt with anything remotely Dark. That was, perhaps, the first time Draco had ever felt any respect at all towards his rival. In the past, all he had felt was irritation and resentment.

But if Draco hadn’t developed a modicum of respect for Potter, then there was no way he would have ever been able to ask for the man’s help with the translation. Draco’s pride would never allow him to ask someone he didn’t respect for help. But that respect didn’t mean he understood Potter. Because the truth was, Draco had never understood Potter. The two of them were too different, motivated by very different things. Draco needed to make a name for himself. He needed to prove that he wasn’t his father’s son. And it seemed like Potter’s biggest goal in life was to disappear. It was no wonder, then, that the two of them were always at odds with one another.

Still, what Draco had learned tonight from Potter was new to him. He had never expected to learn that Parseltongue was a language meant only to be spoken, and that it was never intended to be written. Draco knew of one other language that was never meant to be written, and that was the Dark language of Walpurgis. It was a language only ever spoken during Walpurgisnacht, and the language itself had never been properly named. Generally, the only Dark wizards able to speak the chaotic language of Walpurgisnacht were necromancers, and those were incredibly rare.

Thinking of necromancy made Draco uneasy. Voldemort had attempted necromantic practices, and the rituals always went awry. The Dark Lord hadn’t been a proper necromancer, and an incorrectly performed necromantic ritual had been the reason for his red-eyed, snake-like figure. Properly performed, that necromantic ritual would have restored the Dark Lord’s human form.

Draco shuddered. He didn’t like to think of the Dark Lord’s botched necromancy, but the only reason he’d ever been able to discover the Dark Lord’s sudden twist towards insanity was the improper utilization of necromantic rituals. Since Draco had grown up dealing with the madman who called himself the Dark Lord, he knew exactly what kind of people to avoid.

As a practitioner of Dark Magic, there were two major problems Draco faced on an almost daily basis. The first of which was the difficulty inherent in being a Dark wizard in a society that was predominantly Light. Before the war with Voldemort, the wizarding world had been fairly balanced between Light and Dark wizards. But Voldemort had tipped the balance, and the chaos he had wrought on the world had turned the wizarding world against Dark magic.

Dark magic, as a whole, wasn’t outlawed. Otherwise, places like the shoppes found in Knockturn Alley would be out of business and their owners imprisoned. Potter’s Parselsmith shop qualified as a Dark business, so if Dark magic was completely outlawed, the Ministry of Magic would have to arrest the man who defeated Voldemort.

No, Dark magic was legal, but there were aspects of Dark magic that flirted with legality. Potions was one of those aspects – only someone with a true affinity for Dark magic could produce strong potions. Draco had always found the fact that Granger had possessed the top marks in their Potions class an ironic one. He wondered if she realized that the ingredients of Potions reacted more strongly for wizards and witches with darker cores. At the same time, the need for an affinity to Dark magic explained Longbottom’s abysmal performance in the class. While Longbottom was good with living plants, potions ingredients tended to be dead plants. Light magic worked better with living plants and animals, while Dark magic worked better with plants and animals that were either dead or dying.

That’s why Potter was such an enigma to Draco. Potter had an affinity for light magic – his ability to cast defensive magic was second to none. In fact, he had made a bit of a name for himself, unintentionally, for being the wizard with impenetrable defense. After the war, there had been dozens of Dark wizards out for Potter’s blood, but none of those wizards had ever been able to get close. It was like the moment Voldemort died, Potter learned what his full abilities as a wizard were – but not only did he learn what he was capable of, he also mastered those skills. And defense was his strongest skill.

What made Potter an enigma was the fact that he could cast incredibly strong defensive magic, which was a purely Light type of magic, and yet also spoke Parseltongue, an ability that had always been considered exceptionally Dark. Potter had the extremes of both Light and Dark magic, and Draco wasn’t sure how the man wrestled with his need to express the chaotic nature of Dark magic. If constrained too long, Dark magic had a tendency to burst free from its bonds – by its very nature, it was chaotic and free. Dark magic wasn’t meant to be contained for long periods of time.

The other problem Draco faced as a Dark wizard was dealing with other Dark wizards. There were different sects of Dark wizards, different organizations for different types of Dark magic. Those organizations were the reason that the Ministry didn’t outright ban Dark magic – the leaders of the Dark organizations were affluent. Before the fiasco the Dark Lord made of their lives, the Malfoy family had had a stake in all of those organizations. Draco still maintained those connections, but there was unease towards him – some of the members of those organizations feared he would walk in his father’s footsteps and end up taking up the cause of a lunatic.

Draco understood their fear, but he hated that they directed it towards him. He had proven years ago that he was not his father’s son, but he still carried the stigma with him. Twenty-four years old, and he still couldn’t escape his father’s shadow.

He sighed and rubbed his forehead. Learning that Parseltongue was never meant to be written down had surprised him because he knew the kind of toll those who spoke the chaotic nature of Walpurgisnacht had to pay when they attempted to translate a pure spoken language into a written one. Draco had seen his friend, Blaise, who was fluent in the language of Walpurgisnacht, after ten minutes of translation, suffer from migraines at best and complete magical exhaustion at worst. Draco wondered if Potter had to deal with any of those symptoms after translating Parseltongue, but dismissed the thought pretty quickly. After all, if Blaise developed those types of symptoms a scant ten minutes after translating, there was no way Potter would be able to translate for an hour without an adverse effect. And Potter had seemed just as chipper as always when Draco left, so the idea that the man might suffer from magical exhaustion was ridiculous.

Chapter Two     Index     Chapter Four

%d bloggers like this: