"Draco! No! Get back!"
His heart was in his throat, his hand trembling so much he dropped his wand. Draco stalked towards him, crossing the length of the bedroom. He fixed his eyes on his father's, cold and steely, brows furrowed and lips tight.
Lucius's knees hit the floorboards, sending a blinding pain shooting up through his legs, but he couldn't take his eyes off the approaching threat. His silk pyjamas clung to his body, wet with perspiration. And then Draco was right in front of him, bending down, retrieving his wand and training it on Lucius's face.
"I … I can explain." Lucius's words were as dry as sand in his mouth. "They said you were damaged beyond repair. I know I should have visited more over the years, but…" He stopped as the wand tip touched his skin, right between his eyes. "What … What are you going to do?"
Draco said nothing, but he didn't really need to. Lucius knew what was happening as the spell burst from his wand straight through his skull and into his brain. He heard a scream, though as his memories flashed across his mind — rifled through without care of maintaining proper order — it sounded a long way off.
He stood over Draco as a child, holding out his hand, demanding he forfeit the garment clutched in his hands. "Draco, there is a limit to my patience. Wearing a tutu is taking this dancing fixation too far. Give it to me now. I'll take you to buy a new broomstick."
Draco's eyes filled with tears, but he pointed his chin defiantly at his father, holding the offending white tulle to his chest. "Pansy said I could have it. It's mine. All the best dancers wear them."
Lucius snarled, fingers curling. He wanted to throttle his child and hated himself for it. If Draco would only act reasonably, it would be so much easier to parent him. His wand was in his hand a moment later, the spell crossing his lips. "Obliviate!"
Draco's eyes fell out of focus and he dropped the frilly skirt, hands hanging slack at his sides. Lucius took a steadying breath, focussing again. "Imperio!" He pointed at the tutu with his wand, "Evanesco," and looked back at the small boy. "Well, Draco? What would you like to do today?"
"I want to buy a new broomstick, Father. Will you teach me to play Quidditch?"
Lucius's lips curled into a satisfied smirk. "What of your dance lessons?"
"Dancing is worthless. I hate everything about it." Draco spat his words, sneering.
Lucius slipped his arm around Draco's shoulders and nodded. "That's my boy. Come along. Quality Quidditch Supplies should be open."
The memory phased out and another took its place. He watched himself repeating the spells on other occasions. The time Draco had taken to drawing, and he had encouraged the talent until he discovered the cache of nude drawings of men. He removed that. The time he'd discovered Draco had bewitched his poster of a famous Quidditch Player into doing a strip tease while riding his broomstick and affixed it to the canopy of his bed, that went too. Draco needed these minor adjustments in order to succeed. It was in his best interest.
The wand tip lifted and Lucius fell back against the floor, sparks flashing across his vision as his head struck the wood with a sickening smack. He looked up again, his eyes blurred. His head felt as though his brain was swollen and pulsing against his skull, shooting bolts of lightning through his nerves until his fingers tingled.
Draco still didn't speak. Lucius could read in the twisted creases of skin over sunken cheeks, that Draco was out for blood. He couldn't fathom how Draco had escaped from St Mungo's. Janus Thickey was a locked ward and Draco had lived there — a nearly vegetative, drooling mess propped up in a chair — for the past ten years.
He started to regain his bearings. He was Draco's father and he'd never feared his son before. Draco had always required a heavy hand, and if Lucius could only get to his feet and reestablish his presence, he was certain he could curtail this attack.
He sat up, head swimming and composed his face into his old mask of perfect control, but he couldn't hold it. Not while Draco was smiling down at him, his teeth gleaming malevolently, freezing Lucius's heart in his chest.
The wand tip loomed, but Lucius couldn't move. His whole body seized up. His eyes crossed as he watched it, unable to stop it coming closer, touching his forehead.
The scream sounded again, drowned out by a piercing pain. More and more recollections unfolded. He saw himself moulding his son's mind into what it ought to be, pleased with the result. Draco was a self-assured child that recited his beliefs word for word. But every summer he would have slipped somewhat on his training, and homosexual fantasies continued to crop up like weeds among the beliefs and ideals Lucius had sown. It was only natural that he would need to go through and remove the poison from Draco's mind. He couldn't have his son, young and impressionable, grow stunted.
But Draco was ruthless in searching his mind. The next memory seemed to be the one Draco had been most anxious to find, for it jumped forward into sharp relief whereas the previous memories had flashed past in a blur. Lucius's head screamed at Draco to stop, but his mouth wouldn't cooperate with forming the words. He fell into reliving the moment while Draco watched.
He'd been nursing a whiskey for the better part of an hour in his study. His hair was unwashed and he'd not shaved in days. Which, he thought, was entirely expected when his son had deserted him after losing his mother and left him with only the house-elves for company, imprisoned in his own house as punishment for doing what he needed to survive.
He spun around when a knock sounded at the door, splashing his whiskey over his knuckles and grabbing at the back of a chair before the fire for support.
Draco entered, a young man of twenty-three, looking healthier than he'd ever looked in his life. It made Lucius's stomach squirm with acid at the thought. He'd abandoned his family, his name, his place.
"What?" Lucius spat at him, his voice hoarse from lack of use.
"Hello, Father." Draco looked nervous, tentative, as if he feared he'd not be welcome. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, still in the doorway. "May I come in? I have some things I need to say to you."
Lucius waved his hand as if flipping dust from the furniture. His first instinct was to lash out and smack some sense into Draco, but he didn't want to chase him away. He needed to tread carefully. He squinted his eyes and pursed his lips, then put his glass down and took a seat in the chair. "Do what you want."
Draco took a seat in a chair beside him, separated by a small round table. "I'm getting married."
Lucius's mind raced. How long had it been since he'd last seen Draco? Three years; four? "Congratulations," he said dryly. "When will I meet your bride?" He could kill himself for blurting out his words. He was out of practice.
Draco tapped his fingers on his knee. "That depends. I wanted to talk to you about it before even thinking of introductions. If you're not going to accept my marriage, I will leave here and you need not hear from me again."
Lucius scoffed and shifted in his chair. "There is no need to be so dramatic." He couldn't explain the sinking feeling in his stomach, even to himself. He'd do anything to go back in time and prevent Draco from running away, to put his mind back in proper order once more, to have his son back. "I have always cared for your happiness and success. Even if I am not good at showing it."
"I am not marrying a woman."
Draco's words hung between them like a challenge, an invisible target. If Lucius responded badly he would lose his son forever, but if he could just find the right words, the right tactic, all may not be lost.
"I understand," Lucius said, the lie burning his tongue, forcing its way past his gag reflex by sheer willpower. But when Draco's face brightened and his posture grew less stiff, Lucius knew he'd caught him. It was only a matter of getting him to a point where he'd turn his back.
"You are looking well, Draco." Lucius forced himself to smile, and picked up his glass, hiding his mouth from Draco by tossing back the rest of his drink. He didn't trust himself enough to not have Draco read his smile as false.
"You say you understand," Draco said, now rubbing his knee with his fingertips, a nervous habit he'd had since childhood. "I … I know it's not what you wanted from me. I didn't even realise I was gay until I left home. It's strange how it just hit me over the head. You're really not angry?"
Lucius swallowed thickly, forcing the lump in his throat down.
"I've missed you. You are my son, and I know your mother would have supported you no matter what." He cleared his throat, impressed with how it sounded like a perfect facsimile of choked emotion. Looking at Draco's eyes, he knew it was taken as such. "I do as well. I would be honoured to meet the young man that has brought my son so much happiness."
Experiencing the memory again, Lucius almost believed that what he had said had been genuine. He certainly sold it to Draco well enough. But the pain of staying present, of remaining conscious while Draco ransacked his mind drew him from his musings. He slipped back into the memory, as watching hurt a hell of a lot less than being in his body in the present, ragged on the cold hard floor.
Draco beamed at him, brimming with nervous excitement. Lucius had never seen Draco so vibrant before. He must really fancy himself in love. But it needn't matter. Just a few more well chosen words, and he'd be able to correct the errors.
"I could have him floo over. He's waiting for me to return. He wanted to come, but I told him I'd better prepare you first."
Lucius's lips twisted into what he hoped was a pleasant smile. "Do it, son. I had hoped you'd return for so long and now you have. Use the fire." He gestured to the fireplace with its small golden box of floo powder resting on the mantle. The fire was his only method of communication with the outside world. He was prevented from leaving by it, but he could make calls and receive visitors.
A moment later, Draco was kneeling on the hearth, his head in the flames. Lucius wasted no time. He pointed his wand at Draco's back, muttered the incantation, luxuriating in the power, the control running up his arm, flooding his system.
Pain shot through Lucius as he was brought to the present, released from Draco's spell with such force he felt as though the world had turned inside out and crashed his body against the floor. He gasped to breathe, his head splitting as if an axe was lodged in his skull, jutting from his forehead.
The stench of urine filled his nose and bile rose up in his mouth when he realised he'd pissed himself. But then, forcing his eyes open, Draco stood above him, murder in his eyes and his wand pointed at Lucius's face.
"No… No," he shrieked, seizing up as his muscles tensed. "I can't… no more."
Draco took no heed, and plunged the wand at his forehead, blasting his brain with pain. This time he couldn't focus on the memories. He felt fragmented, hazy. But the events of that night unravelled still in his mind's eye.
Draco stepped back, standing up, his expression blank. A moment later a young man spun out of the fireplace, catching himself, a relieved smile on his face until he looked at Draco. His arms went out to embrace Draco, but Draco had his wand in his hand, mouth twisting into a snarl, "Get back…" He stumbled; he was fighting the curse. His eyes grew wide with fear. "Go … quick … help," but it was too late. Lucius's power overtook him, his eyes narrowing. "Avada Kedavra!"
The young man crumpled at his feet and Draco dropped his wand. Lucius recalled the shock had thrown off the curse, but he was quick to catch his son while he was weak, to perform the memory modification immediately. It took all night to put Draco's mind to rights, but then Draco wouldn't wake. He'd gone too far, touched something too deep.
St Mungo's looked the same as ever when Harry stepped up to the Healer's desk, flashing his Auror badge. The faint smell of sweat and eucalyptus lingered in the air. He despised visiting the Janus Thickey ward. Too many people came here to die, so much lost potential. It felt similar to Azkaban, with the memory of the Dementors' reign etched into the walls. This wasn't a Healing ward, it was more like a gateway to Death.
A small man in lime-green robes greeted him; his lined face made him look ages older than he was beneath his salt and pepper hair. "Yes, Auror Potter. I've been expecting you. We've stabilised Mr Malfoy. Any idea of what addled him?"
Harry frowned and sighed. "It was a boggart. I don't know how long he'd been facing it on his own. His house-elf contacted us a couple of hours ago and it took ages to get him to stop beating himself to a pulp and tell us where he'd come from. You ever heard of a boggart attack like this?"
The Healer's face fell. Harry could almost believe he felt sorry for Lucius Malfoy. Harry had no such feelings. The circumstances that placed Draco in this very ward were fishy enough, though, at the time Harry had been a rookie and nobody else thought it was suspicious that a foreign wizard would break into Malfoy Manor and wipe Draco's mind blank, forcing Lucius Malfoy to kill in self-defence.
"Normally a boggart will scare a person to the point they either faint or run away in terror. I've not heard of an extended attack, or of a wizard deliberately subjecting himself to continued exposure before."
Harry grunted. "Do what you can for him. I've not seen any signs that there was outside influence involved." He paused and cleared his throat. "I'd recommend keeping him and his son separated as well. I'm planning to take another look at Draco's case after tonight."
As the doors to the lift closed and Harry began to descend, he thought back to the night before Draco's attack. He'd not seen him for years, but even in the dark of a small pub, high on celebrating his acceptance to the rank of Auror, that shock of blond hair was impossible to miss. Draco had been happy, he'd been free, and now… The weight of the lost souls above him was too much. Harry walked out the front doors, breathing the air of freedom, thankful to be alive and sane.