081226: En alternativ julsaga - del 3

An Alternative Christmas Tale - part 3

Draco couldn't sleep. Theo, full of turkey and cake and with nothing mysterious to bother him, fell asleep almost as soon as he'd drawn the curtains of his four-poster. Draco leant over the side of his own bed and pulled out the package from under it. He lit his wand and read the note again. He turned the card around, but there was no signature. He felt a squirm of excitement in the pit of his stomach.

As quietly as he could, he tore open the paper. He almost yelled at the sight of its content in the light of his wand. The thing inside looked dead, and Draco carefully unfolded the rest of the package without touching the repulsive item. It was a shrivelled hand holding a grimy, old lantern.

His father had been a dark wizard, and it made Draco wary of the dead hand. He hated his father; thought him a coward and a murderer. Lucius Malfoy's refusal to leave You-Know-Who's service had cost him his life in the end. When You-Know-Who was brought down by Albus Dumbledore, Lucius accepted to do his time in Azkaban and in exchange receive protection for his wife, Narcissa, and newborn son, Draco. However, this was only a diversion, and the Malfoy family fled the country.

Lucius wanted to join forces with remaining Death Eaters, and sought out Bellatrix Lestrange, his wife's sister. The reunion, however, was far from the victory Lucius Malfoy had expected. Bellatrix, demented by the death of her Dark Lord, accused him of having betrayed them. She killed him on the spot, and then went after her sister. Narcissa Malfoy tried to escape, the baby in her arms. The killing curse hit her in the back, and she fell forwards. Even in death she held on to her son, who was found under her lifeless body by the Aurors.

His mother! Maybe the hand had belonged to her. It gives light only to its holder. He put out his wandlight, and gripped the wrist of the dry hand. The effect was immediate, and Draco had to stop himself from crying out in surprise and fear once again. The light inside the lantern had burst into a vivid flame, illuminating the entire dungeon room. He had to try it now. He slipped out of bed and went over to Theo's bed. He poked his best friend in the small of his back and held his breath, waiting for Theo to turn around and see him.
"Huh," mumbled Theo. Draco watched him turn around to look in his direction, but it was a peculiar sight. Theo was looking seemingly right through him, and deciding that there was nothing to be seen, lay down again and started snoring almost immediately.

Suddenly, Draco felt wide awake. The whole of Hogwarts was open to him with this hand. Excitement flooded through him as he stood there in the dark silence. He could go anywhere with this, anywhere, and no one would ever know. He crept out of the dormitory, up the stairs, across the common room and out into the corridor. Where should he go? He stopped, his heart racing. He had climbed aimlessly up the stairs and was walking an empty corridor when he heard a noise. Draco stood rooted to the spot as Filch and - he gasped - Professor McGonagall came around the corner ahead. They couldn't see him in the dark, of course, but it was a narrow corridor and if they came much nearer they'd knock right into him.

He backed away as quietly as he could. A door stood ajar to his left. It was his only hope. He squeezed through it, holding his breath, trying not to move it, an to his relief he managed to get inside the room without their noticing anything. They walked straight past and Draco leant against the wall, breathing deeply, listening to their footsteps dying away. That had been close, very close. It was a few seconds before he noticed anything about the room he had hidden in.

It looked like a disused classroom. The dark shapes of desks and chairs were piled against the walls and there was an upturned waste-paper basket - but propped against the wall facing him was something that didn't quite look as if it belonged there, something that looked as if someone had just put it there to keep it out of the way.

It was a magnificent mirror, as high as the ceiling, with an ornate gold frame, standing on two clawed feet. There was an inscription carved around the top: Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi.

His panic fading now that there was no sound of Filch and McGonagall, Draco moved nearer to the mirror, wanting to look at himself holding the lantern. He stepped in front of it. He had to clap his free hand to his mouth to stop himself from screaming. He whirled around. His heart was pounding furiously - for he had seen not only himself in the mirror, but someone standing right behind him.

But the room was empty. Breathing very fast, he turned slowly back to the mirror. There he was, reflected in it, white and scared-looking, and there, reflected behind him, was a ghostly woman. Draco looked over his shoulder - but, still, no one was there. He looked in the mirror again. The woman, standing right behind his reflection, was smiling at him and waving. He reached out a hand and felt the air behind him. If she was really there, he'd touch her, their reflections were so close together, but he felt only air - she existed only in the mirror.

She was a very pretty woman. She had white blond hair and her nose - her nose is just like mine, Draco thought, edging a little closer to the glass. Pointy - exactly the same shape. Her face was pale, and her eyes icy blue, just like Draco's. Then he noticed that she was crying; smiling, but crying at the same time.

Draco was so close to the mirror now that his nose was nearly touching that of his reflection.
'Mum?' he whispered.
She just looked at him, smiling. Draco had his left hand pressed flat against the glass as though he was hoping to fall right through it and reach her. He held up his other hand, looked at his mother, to the lantern, and back to her again. She nodded and he felt a powerful kind of ache inside him, half joy, half terrible sadness.

How long he stood there, he didn't know. He sank down to sit on the floor in front of the mirror. He could look at her for en eternity. Her piercing blue eyes, her silky hair, her mesmerizing smile. He imagined her warm arms embracing him - frail but caring. There was nothing to stop him staying here forever with his mother. Nothing at all.

For the first time in his life, Draco felt truly loved.

The End.

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