Even in the midst of Draco’s disappointment at finding that he was to be supplanted by the Boy Who Lived, he was always the golden boy. He was moneyed, with several great estates to manage even if all the doors of the wizarding world were shut to him. Centuries of history and ancestry of not one, but two names, rested heavily on his shoulders, and would serve to carry him through life with his chin held high. Yes, Draco was golden, the envy of all who knew him - friends and relatives and enemies alike.
His aunts and uncles, godmothers and godfathers, cousins and friends were all blessed with it too. Like this golden boy they had all come into this world safe in the knowledge that they would never once want for wealth to indulge their every whim. Like Draco they too would learn that even the fanciest of their whims would be eternally subject to their family mottos. In Fire, Purified. Honour from blood. Toujours Pur. Like Draco they would hold their heads high and strut through life wearing illustrious names and illustrious histories as comfortably as the ornate robes they would clad themselves in.
They did not lack, not in the sense of the material things of this world, or even, indeed, in terms of birth. Other wizards wondered if there would be enough galleons and sickles to pay for their youngest’s textbooks for Hogwarts. Some worried when the Aurors came around, because they had no names and no arrogance born of no less than one thousand years of history to carry them through arrests and interrogations and trials. They were blessed, in that sense.
But what use is the blessing of wealth and comfort when it comes at the cost of life itself?
Draco, unlike them, was destined to live. He was always destined to be the golden boy. He had life. Malfoy Manor, even in winter - save for that one winter in nineteen ninety-seven, was always warm and a merry fire always crackled in the hearth. There was no shadow of death that hung over the house, no cold draughts and long empty echoing hallways. Save for that one winter in nineteen ninety-seven. And Draco had not one, but two doting parents who had understood a secret that other pureblood parents had not: that love was not merely being willing to indulge his every whim and fancy but to hang over him, protective and tender, ready to fight anyone and everyone who dared set even a finger on him.
It is always easy, when confronted with the lie that was once promised to each of these children, now fully-fledged adults, to feel the stirrings of jealousy and then envy and anger and those stirrings almost always lead down the path of being willing to smash the very object of envy until it is broken completely.
For they were all, of course, promised the same life in their picture books and stories of perfect pureblood families with tender mothers and fathers who laughed warmly at their childish gambols. As they grew older they found they had been deceived: at five, a friend watched his mother breathe her last breath and his father fall into perpetual mourning. At eight, some found their childhood friends - house elves and teddy bears - cruelly ripped from their sides and no, not content to have them seized from them, found themselves forced to watch their mothers and fathers burn them. Kill them. At thirteen, some found that they would be expected to end a feud between their two families by marrying each other once they came of age, that they would have to be men and women that they were not simply because their families demanded it.
At fifteen, his cousin meets his father and mother for the first time and finds, not people who will cherish him, but people who will rail at him and sometimes strike him and then coddle them afterwards because they too do not understand themselves the same way he does not understand himself fully. At fifteen, his cousin wonders what it is he has done to deserve parents who will never love him because he is only a symbol of the disastrous turns their lives took the day they turned thirteen and were forced into a hastily contrived betrothal.
In the end, one by one they all surrendered to the knowledge that they were destined to live misshapen lives perpetually overshadowed by the grave and the promise of nothing more than slow decay.
It would have been easier to accept such a fate, were it not for Draco. A golden boy, young and untouched as a fresh spring dawn. It would have been easy to fall back into their stark cold black and white tombs of glory and watch the rest of their days slowly rot away as they fought a war against both creeping uncertainty and the filth of the world, if Draco had not been blessed with the same life they had been promised. There was nothing to set him above them, no endearing quality, no inherent virtue that he should be rewarded with a family that loved him and a home, not a house, while they should spend their lives untouched by the warmth of true happiness.
And creeping envy, as we know, is the heart of all evil in this world.
It is why, in 1997, Malfoy Manor finds itself cold and draughty and Draco, the golden boy, finds himself chosen to murder, chosen to fail, chosen to bear a punishment that they might watch the golden boy be broken and rejoice in the knowledge that all of them, from the oldest to the youngest in their ranks, have had their perfect pureblood dream brutally shattered.