Had Dumbledore not offered him safety, and had he not spoken so kindly to him, with such respect, Draco guessed he would never have considered changing paths. In fact, it had been a lack of kindness and respect from certain family members that had sent Draco spiraling downward into the Dark Arts in the first place. Awake, all the youth could recall of that time long since past was a thick haze surrounding a pale blur of half-formed memories. Yet in his slumber that night, otherwise faded memories turned vivid and cold as they stirred freely, creating vicious storms of confusion and uncertainty within him.
When Draco awoke on his tenth birthday, his mother greeted him, presenting her son with a beautiful young eagle owl she had secretly bought him the evening before. Later in the morning, his father gave him a magnificent oak broomstick.
That afternoon, Nora Rookwood, Draco's second cousin, came for tea. All throughout Draco's life, the Rookwoods had been quite indifferent towards him, at best, as though ashamed of his fun-loving, childish personality.
"I imagine you had quite a day yesterday, boy," Nora said, speaking directly to Draco for the first time in quite a while.
Draco looked at her, surprised by her sudden apparent interest in his birthday. He said nothing for a moment, which she seemed to take as rudeness. "Well?" she prodded him impatiently.
Recovering in an instant from his bewilderment, Draco smiled and nodded. Nora turned to her cousin. "You've still been over-indulging him, I see. Not what I would have expected from a Malfoy, Lucius."
Narcissa glanced across the dining room table at her husband, who glanced back. The two shared a brief, exasperated expression, "He's not yours to raise, Nora," Lucius reminded his cousin.
"The Dark Lord would not have wanted--" she persisted, but Lucius interrupted her.
"The Dark Lord had his time, but it has clearly ended."
Nora looked positively outraged at these words, but kept it all in check, and placed her teacup carefully back on its saucer. "A word, Lucius." It was not a request, but a demand. Lucius raised an eyebrow at her daring, for she was but a guest in his home, and was showing a bit too much nerve for comfort. Even so, he stood to lead her to another room, purely out of curiosity, and perhaps slight amusement.
Draco looked cautiously at his mother. "But what wouldn't the Dark Lord have wanted?" he asked. "What did I do wrong this time?"
Narcissa smiled at him, and put a gentle hand on his hair. "Nothing at all, darling. Don't let her upset you, not on your birthday." She nodded encouragingly, and without another word, they agreed to let the short-lived worry evaporate. They sat in the parlor for a minute or so longer, chatting idly about this-and-that, waiting for Lucius and Nora to return.
When they did, however, the mood grew drearier by the second, from the look on Lucius Malfoy's face, Narcissa gathered that jokes and light-hearted chatter would only serve to upset him further.
"What's the matter, dear?" asked Narcissa. There was a tension in the room that she thoroughly disliked, and she silently wondered what it was that Nora had said to her husband.
But she received no answer. "Draco, go upstairs and wait for me," was all he said. His voice was quiet and heavy, making him sound unsettlingly melancholy, but even Draco could tell there was anger hidden there.
"But Father, what hap--" Draco protested.
"Do as you're told, boy!" snapped Nora.
It was then that he realized something was very wrong. He cast a frightened look at his mother before hurrying away to his bedroom. Once there, he sat by his bookcase, wondering what had gone on in the drawing room mere moments earlier. When Lucius finally appeared in the doorway, Draco spoke to him amid a whirl of concern, "Father, what is it?" he asked quickly. "Why do you look so upset?"
But once again, his questions would go unanswered, for at the very next moment, Lucius drew his wand and flicked it meaningfully in Draco's direction. After a moment of waiting for something to happen, Draco opened his mouth to speak, only to find himself voiceless. Looking back up in his father's direction, he found there what would have looked like his father, had the man not been wearing such a darkened look in his eyes. Confused and frightened, Draco tried with all his strength to scream for his mother, but nothing happened. Not even a whisper escaped his numb throat.
Lucius stood for a moment, as though unable to move, but finally, he seemed to decide what do to next. Raising his wand, he gave his son no time to ask what he had chosen, or why, before an incredible and agonizing pain surged throughout the boy's entire being. Draco fell to the ground, kicking and twisting around, as his tears turned to molten lava and his robes seemed to burst into flame all over him. Screaming was impossible, yet it was all he wanted, as though having his voice back might make the unspeakable pain go away...
And then, all was silent and still. The spell had been lifted, and Draco lay unconscious on the floor by the foot of his bed.
Lucius walked back downstairs to wish Nora Rookwood a pleasant evening.