Summary: Draco has a choice to make.
Characters/Pairings: Implied Draco/Hermione
Genre: Drama, Romance
Word Count: 1069
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His upbringing had been very specific, catered to a certain mindset, an unambiguous system of beliefs. Whatever one’s personal and subjective opinion on the matter, Draco Malfoy was raised according to the values of his parents. These values are often simplified thusly: the purer the blood, the more prestigious the magic. Only those of pure blood were worthy to study magic at all. Half-bloods and Muggleborns were inconsequential, worthless.
Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy also instilled other values besides blood purity into their son. In addition to loyalty to self, one’s loyalty to family was most important. “Remember, Draco, no one looks out for you except your own,” his father had taught him. Family was priority.
The public’s perception of the Malfoy name was also essential. The Malfoy reputation must be untarnished and intimidating. A Malfoy must always present himself with the proper decorum in public settings. A Malfoy must always own the best of the best, the crème de la crème. A Malfoy must have the best grades in the school, must be the most accomplished student, the most talented athlete. It is a Malfoy’s responsibility to assure that he retains such a sought-after reputation and public position at whatever cost. (Needless to say, bribery is an acceptable means to attain one’s desires and a responsible allocation of the family wealth.)
One other very important value which Lucius and Narcissa attempted to impress upon their son was a sense of duty. Draco learned at an early age that his duty to his family was his most important responsibility. Everything his parents did, he was taught, was for his best interest. In return, it was his duty to be the man his parents raised him to be.
And this was all good and well, until the day came when it was not.
~ * ~
Narcissa’s fork fell upon her plate with a clatter, and the resulting sound seemed to echo in the sudden silence. Lucius said nothing. That was almost worse, though, and Draco refrained from raising his eyes to look at what he was sure would be a furious expression on his father’s face.
Several heartbeats passed.
Then: “This Hermione Granger must be quite important to you, son, for you to dishonor your parents in so blatant a manner.”
Lucius Malfoy’s words were clipped, a barely-restrained rage hidden beneath a façade of calm.
Draco steeled his nerves and took a breath. “In all honesty, father, she is the most important thing in my life. And I will fight for her.”
Courage was not a trait that came to the young Malfoy heir very easily. There had not been many instances in his life that had called for any significant amount of courage. He had always obeyed his parents explicitly, and even when he had not, they had forgiven his discrepancies under the understanding that he would do what he desired with careful discretion. Moreover, his parents usually gave him what he wanted. That was a characteristic of life as a Malfoy that he had learned early on, as well: a Malfoy always got what he wanted, even if he had to take it by force.
Thus, the courage it took to stand up to his parents in such a way surprised him.
But she was worth it.
“You will fight for her?” The elder Malfoy’s tone was tense, and Draco could see him gripping his cane so hard that his knuckles were white. “Do you mean to say that you will fight your family for her, Draco? Will you fight against everything we have ever taught you, every value and belief we have impressed upon you? Will you disrespect your parents so harshly, Draco Malfoy?”
Draco cringed at the use of his last name, a reminder of what exactly he was up against. Hundreds of years of tradition and generations of pure-bred families were not easily torn asunder.
Still, he pressed on as firmly as he dared.
“I do not mean to disrespect you or Mother. But you have taught me to always go after what I want. I want her, father, and she wants me, too. She’s spoken to Dumbledore for me, you know. I have a way out of this. The Order is willing to offer me protection in exchange for me fighting alongside them, and, of course, some information.” At this revelation, Draco raised his eyes to look bravely into his father’s. “I know they would offer the same protection to both of you, if you decided to accept it.”
Narcissa’s breath hitched in her throat, eyes widening as she realized the implications of her son’s words. “Turn traitor to the Dark Lord?” she whispered. Her hand reached over to find her husband’s, and she clutched his fingers tightly as fear shook her. “We would never get out of that alive, Draco! He would find us, and he would kill us.”
“Do you really think we’ll survive this War even with the Dark Lord, Mother? We’re nothing but pawns! As soon as it’s convenient, the Dark Lord will eliminate us, and—“
Draco quieted immediately and glared at his father.
Luciu’s voice was dangerously calm when he spoke. “You will not speak against the Dark Lord in my presence again, Draco. As Malfoys, our place is at his side. And when he wins this war, our glory as his followers will be irreplaceable.
Draco said nothing for a moment, merely staring at his father’s determined expression with a sense of sadness filling him.
That was that. He’d tried, but there would be no convincing his stubborn father, and his mother was faithful. She’d follow her husband to the ends of the earth, even if it meant certain death.
He would simply have to figure out another way to save them. Later, though. Right now, he had a commitment to uphold.
With a small sigh, Draco rose from the dinner table and stood as proudly as he was able. His parents made no move to stop him.
“Goodbye, then, mother, father. I need to go meet my fiancée.”
Before he could leave, his mother’s voice stopped him. “Are you sure you love her, Draco? Are you sure about your choice?”
His answer was swift and firm. “Yes. I’m sure.”