Author’s note - Thanks to everyone for the kind words, both here and onr/hpmor. I’ll accept corrections in either place.

Next update - Mid week. Roughly 5/14. I’m aiming roughly a chapter every 5days and even that feels aggressive. I write slowly, and now realize I shouldrevise much more diligently. (Revision isn’t fun. If you want to be a betareader let me know.) I have drafts for the next five chapters, though, so I’llpost those regularly. I’m trying to deal with the Illusion of Transparency,which is fatal for authors.

I fear making subtext explicit, but better safe than sorry. Lesson learned,but probably forgotten soon after.

I do love ambiguity, I’ll try to be better.

Request - Is the Slytherin Prefect for this year known in Canon (HP orHPMOR?). Also, Is Percy Head Boy? Head Girl?

Draco tied his letter to Tanaxu’s leg then gently smoothed her silveryfeathers. “Take this to Vincent, then Gregory. Then pick up Hermione’sletters.” She always had missives with extensive notes and furtherrevisions. Draco enjoyed them. Planning, even for something as trivial aslectures, provided a brief escape. He glanced at the calendar. August 29th.Summer’s almost over. Draco opened the window and felt the brief flutteringof wings brushing past, releasing his confession before he changed his mindagain. The breeze smelled of summer and unlimited potential, so he left thewindow open. Draco placed himself carefully in the hard wooden chair andinspected his books again. He’d already skimmed Miranda Goshawk’s _StandardBook of Spells Volume 2. _Little of note, he knew most already, proof that theGalleons Father paid to tutors had been spent well.

Beside the textbooks sat a small, leather-bound book with title, no markingsat all. He leafed through the blank pages. He’d found the diary last week,after a day spent exploring Piccadilly Circus and hiding from obligations.He’d ducked quickly upstairs, not drawing attention to himself. Wasted effort.Mother was nowhere to be seen. Dropping his backpack onto his bed, Dracochanged out of his jeans and T-shirt into formal robes,

“_So you are Wizard, again?”_ Mother had said in early July, after she’dnoticed him change. She’d never spoken about her lost decade, but Draco hadinvestigated. She’d done nothing as a Muggle. Cashed checks, lived comfortablybut not well. No ambition. No Goals. Perhaps she’d done that before, lived thearistocratic lifestyle she’d returned to. Had Father told the truth, had shebeen totally innocent of his plots? Then how had she spent her time, before?How had it felt, feeling aristocratic living as a commoner? Had her decadebeen like Draco’s summer?

Draco had cast three cleaning spells, hid his purchases and stuffed the jeansinto the back of his closet. Then he’d spotted the book, spine resting againstthe head of Father’s cane. He’d ignored it for a week, but tonight Dracocarried the diary downstairs.

“What is this?” Narcissa’s feet curled under her, sitting in the Leather chairthat Father used to read from. A glass of wine rested on the table next toher. She looked like she’d been there all day. Draco didn’t know. He hadn’tventured out since breakfast.

“Why it’s a gift, of course.” She didn’t get up, but kissed him gently on hischeek as he stood next to her. He’d expected more questions, stern glances,even another lecture about “his fascination with useless Muggles.” None came.Draco wondered if Mother had resigned herself or settled on a less maternalavenue to express her disapproval. _Does she know what drives me out of here,in addition to what attracts me there? _ _Would Mother set a trap for me? As alesson? _

Father absolutely would have. Traps provided lessons, all part of the Game.Maybe she’d given up on him.

“Father said …” She tsk-tsked. He left the question unfinished and startedback towards the stairs.

“Lucius forbade you from keeping a diary, didn’t he?” Her light voice rangacross the room that Draco still associated with silence and whispers. Heturned and saw a twinkle in her eyes, some happy thought she hadn’t shared.

Draco shook his head. “Not exactly.”

“I remember the scene, Draco. Before dinner he’d take ten minutes, perhapsfifteen. Sitting here in this chair in front of a roaring fire that providedthe only light, he’d write out his thoughts for the day. Perhaps it would besome stratagem or an observation. His hopes, his dreams, a new spell. Never aletter or an order, he wrote those at his desk. At least three times hecomposed poems. One was quite good. Lucius would carefully correct mistakesand read over his work. And once he was satisfied he’d stand up, toss thescroll into the fire, and go about his evening.” Draco remembered it clearly,just as she described.

He’d asked Father about it, half a lifetime ago.

There is a purity to writing down your thoughts. When Speaking you pause andstumble, your lips race ahead of your mind. To write well is to trulyunderstand…__But once you do understand, there is no reason to keep aroundanything your enemies might read.

“You needn’t burn anything. This diary won’t reveal your secrets, Draco.”Narcissa went upstairs, carrying her wine with her.

Draco returned to his desk. Despite Father’s example, he felt no desire towrite. Draco wrote only to achieve an end like passing a note or getting agrade. Letters simply allowed him to exchange information at a distance.

Tonight Draco wrote.

Dear Diary.

Ink dripped from his quill. Draco placed it the inkwell and stared at thewall. He took out his wand and tried to summon his Patronus again. He’dgotten it to work only once after Father died, earlier this summer. A briefmoment of happiness, prior to self-loathing. He’d been terrified after AurorLi discovered it, the morning Vincent and Gregory arrived. He hadn’t told themhe could cast Patronus. Before Voldemort died, he’d worried what would theywould say. Later he feared he’d never be able to cast it again. And so he’dcast it once, successfully.

Li had kept his secret, Draco probably gained an ally. Guilt and rageprevented him from casting it again. Rage he couldn’t escape at home with onlyMother and memories as companions. It had taken all of his courage to finallyconfess, to write the letter explaining what he’d learned and lost, and whyhe’d hidden it from them. His fears. His tutors had taught him the value of asincere confession, but it was an advanced technique. Knowing the theory, thatconfessing his secrets might not drive them away, hadn’t quelled his anxiety.Draco wished he could recall his Owl.

Draco practiced spells for a half hour. Eventually he regained some disciplineand gathered his composure. He picked up the quill and wrote.

I don’t know what to do.

Draco gasped as the letters broke apart and reformed.

What are you trying to achieve?

Calligraphy danced across the page with broad loops but straight, harsh lines.The cross on the ‘t’ stabbed like a cut across the page’s skin. Draco staredat the page.

To save Slytherin. Draco waited; the letters flowed and the response cameback

_From whom? _

The rage returned. He couldn’t write the answer that had jumped to mind.“From Father”

Draco closed the book, got up and stared out of his open window into the cold.Dusk had passed and it was dark outside. He saw four dancing lights in thewoods, Fiendflies waiting to lure unwary Muggles to their death. At least,that’s what Father told him. Probably just lightning bugs, engorged on the_Cibom Deorum _roots that he’d discovered this summer. After shutting thewindow, Draco returned to the diary. The front page was blank, no evidence ofany writing. He picked up his quill and wrote quickly, his earlier rageshunted aside now that Draco had a goal.

From itself. From wrong ideas, from fear. From the sudden vacuum Voldemort’smurder of Father and the parents of many of my classmates left. From theknowledge that so many of us flocked to him, even though he was clearly evil.I don’t know where to begin.

Draco sat as still as the page’s words. He sat listening to the branchesscrape gently against the side of his room near the window as the breezegently rocked a birch tree. Draco sat holding his breath and slowly,deliberately, let it out. He could hear the grandfather clock chime the halfhour.

So, you are no longer the Scion of Malfoy, but Lord. How old are you, Draco?

_You know who I am? _The answer came almost immediately.

_I could hardly give useful advice otherwise. _

Lying about this seemed pointless and counterproductive. This was Mother’sgift, after all. I am twelve.

_Then I suggest you not rush into things. The question I asked earlier waspremature. S_cribbles darted around the page, as if to indicate thinking.After a moment, they disappeared and words continued. _The correct question is‘Why are you trying to achieve that? What is your ambition?’ _

The page turned itself. The next page was fully written, The conversation hadbecome a lecture.

Sometimes, when you cannot find a path to your goal, it may be that you lackthe tools. If you wish to lift something heavy you must know how to castWingardium Leviosa (a summary of the motions and pronunciation werediagrammed on the facing page) and have sufficient magic. But if you havetools and the path is not clear, then often you are unsure where your goallies.

_Your ambition is to save Slytherin, but you listed a jumble of problems. Youlack clarity and precision, but you are young. _Draco frowned; the pageturned.

Gather information until you can state your goal. You must ask yourself –“How will I know if I have won or lost?”

Draco took it in. He felt calm, distracted. Not distracted, he realized. Hefelt a purpose. One he’d ignored too long.

Do not despair if it takes days or months to get an answer. Knowing yourselfis difficult. Especially at your age and for several years to come. Mostwizards do not truly understand themselves, especially as teenagers.

Draco twisted the quill around several times, then wrote What are you?

_Your birthright. _There was a pause. _One, anyway. _The handwriting took astern tone. _I am powerful, I am useful. I remember what you tell me. I amguidance, but your plots belong to you. _

_I can impart a vast amount of knowledge. I know some of people, but that yourtraining there is superior to my knowledge. People, emotions, motives sprawlbeyond my authors ability to impart. But as regards m___agic and knowledge,deception and tactics, there I am encyclopedic. _Those things I contain. _Theloops and lines relaxed into a more gentle flow. _I am not wisdom, althoughyou may glean some reflected in my words. _

I am not power, but I am a map that leads to it.

Draco’s skin tingled while he read.

_Think of your ambition. _

Draco’s resolve, absent all summer, started to return.

Ask yourself “How will I know if I have succeeded?”

Draco heard wings fluttering.

A true Malfoy has many ambitions. Think on that.

Draco jumped as the Tanaxu screeched outside his window, a monumental scrollattached to her leg. The diary slammed shut.

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