Title: Stung Part 1/2
Summary: After the war, Draco is really, really, really angry. A loose re-telling of "Taming of the Shrew" with duelling, mindless destruction, cross-dressing and lashings of crack. I hope this is the sort of thing you had in mind,violet_quill!
Rating: Hard R or mild NC17
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended. Also, I didn't write Taming of the Shrew either.
Warning(s): None really.
Word Count: 21,000
Author's Notes: Thanks in great abundance to A and also A who applied their superior beta skills in lifesaving short time. You'll also see more influence than I meant to take from the BBC's version of Taming of the Shrew with Rufus Sewell and Shirley Henderson. (Get the BBC's very impressive Shakespeare Retold series on DVD. What they do with Macbeth is amazing!)
KATHARINA: If I be waspish, best beware my sting.
PETRUCHIO: My remedy is then, to pluck it out.
KATHARINA: Ay, if the fool could find it where it lies.
The Taming of the Shrew, Act II, Scene I
This time the young man leaned forward, with his lips pulled tight so the white points of his teeth showed. He hissed: "You would never have dared say that to my father, you smug little rodent."
The hapless goblin, utterly confident in his untouchability, sheltered calmly behind the bulwark of company policy.
"Your father," he said, and it was not his fault that the stool on which the tellers sat gave him a height advantage that turned mere factual statement into sneering superciliousness, "was well acquainted with all of Gringotts' procedures, in particular the access hours of the various vault levels, and hence would not have found himself in your predicament."
With something of a sniff, the teller picked up his quill and turned to the next customer waiting behind. He didn't see the subtle relaxing of the young Mr Malfoy's fists. What he did see was the tip of a drawn wand appearing two inches from his nose. In disbelief, he peered down its length.
"My father would have put you in your place," the Malfoy boy spat, and the next thing he knew, the teller was crumpled against the far wall with white spots darting like drunken Doxies around his head.
It was, the teller had to concede through his dizziness, the most magnificent display of sheer temper he had ever seen. Scarcely deigning to use magic, the young man swept the countertop with his forearm, throwing ledger books coughing dust onto the ground, followed by a downpour of coins and weights, quills and parchment. Customers gasped and retreated before the fountain of ink that splattered and hung in the air. One by one, the stools vacated by startled clerks were knocked down or hurled across the room. One smashed onto the countertop and lost two of its legs.
"Listen here, young man!" A middle-aged wizard stepped forward and, with one look at Malfoy's face, retreated speedily.
Malfoy tested the counter's mass with his hip and, finding it too heavy, flung it with a touch of his wand bouncing off the wall behind it. It toppled and, slow as continents parting, the marble cracked and collapsed. Breathing heavily into the silence, he scanned the room for a new target for his wrath, appearing to countenance the walls, the floor and the very pillars of Gringotts.
"Mr Malfoy, please!" said the head goblin behind him.
There was a rustle of paper settling. The air hummed with held breath. With the pointed toe of his boot, the young man meticulously tipped over an inkpot that by some miracle had landed right side up. Then, apparently satisfied, he drew out a handkerchief and smoothed the grit from his fingers and his forehead.
It takes a great deal to make a goblin angry. The head goblin's face was an unprecedented shade of purple. "This!" was all he could manage before rage cut off his air supply. "This type species of behaviour, Mr Malfoy, is not to be -"
"Very well," said the offender briskly. "Fetch me two hundred of your largest trunks and I shall clear out the family vaults this instant."
Sixteen sets of sturdy goblin teeth ground together.
"Good day then," Draco Malfoy said with perfect civility and a cold smile. As he sauntered out onto the street, the doors jolted expressively behind him, bearing just enough force to push the teetering portrait above them over the edge. Ironspur the Second, Chairman of Gringotts from 1828 to 1902, slid down the wall and was knocked, howling, from his frame.
"He's a vicious, foul-tempered, hot-headed, sadistic little monster," Narcissa concluded with a sigh, reclining in her seat. "But of course, he's also my son and so I make some attempt to understand the causes of it."
"The boy is beyond all control."
"Do you think he really can't control it, Lucius? Or simply won't. I sometimes have the feeling he's forgotten there's any other way of behaving."
"He's too old to have an excuse for either," Lucius opined, calling on the same sparse reserves of compassion their son had inherited.
"The last three years have been hard for him."
Her husband's austere features hardened. "At nineteen I had seen my grandfather executed for sedition and my parents forced to beg their estates back from the Ministry. Adversity is part of our heritage. If the boy can't bear it, he's unfit to carry the name Malfoy."
Narcissa tilted her head sadly as she looked up at him. "He misses you."
After twenty-one years of marriage, she detected the well-disguised moment of bafflement and his astonished glance at the frame around him. Lucius's confusion was understandable. For months after seeing her husband's mortal remains laid to rest in the family crypt, the force of his personality had remained so strong she still half expected him to step out of the portrait in flesh and blood. Lucius Malfoy remained a phantasm of oil on canvas, however, with his face in three-quarter profile and the east wing and the apple orchard falling away at his shoulder.
Against that imposing backdrop, Lucius drew himself up with the empty pomposity that reminded her so unfortunately of his own father.
"I should hope," he said distastefully, "that no son of mine would allow himself to be crippled by sentiment. It's time he learned to put duty before idle whim. It's time we discussed the succession. Send for him."
"Is that the Floo?" said Narcissa brightly, finally acknowledging the caller who had been giving muffled cries of greeting from behind the brass firescreen for several minutes at least.
When she removed the grate, Ludo Bagman's slightly bulging face looked up at her.
"Ah!" he exclaimed. "My dear Narcissa."
He beamed up at her. "Narcissa."
The portrait cleared its throat.
"Ah. Lucius. I have some news. Concerning Draco, unfortunately. I'll drop around this afternoon."
"No," Narcissa replied almost before he had finished speaking. "Thank you, that won't be necessary. What has he done this time?"
As he related the story, her hand came up to cover her mouth.
"Oh, Draco!" she sighed. "Gringotts?"
"Yes. You see the difficulty of course. If there's an official complaint, the Ministry's hands will be tied. The Goblin Liaison Office has longstanding complaints of unequal treatment already. There's talk of imprisonment." She turned away from the fireplace, ashen faced. "Narcissa, I do wish you'd let me give you the news in person."
"A spell in Azkaban might be the making of the boy."
"Yes, thank you, Lucius," Narcissa said with unaccustomed steel. "Why don't you visit your other portraits and see what you can find out?"
Bagman shuffled forward in the fireplace.
"Has he gone yet?" Bagman whispered.
"Narcissa, a prison term would be tricky."
"Tricky?" she repeated the understatement with some acerbity.
"For you, I mean. The boy won't find himself the right sort of wife in Azkaban, will he? You should reconsider my-"
"No, thank you Ludo." Narcissa rose as her husband returned declaiming indignantly about the lack of respect shown to the Passed Over. "Ludo and I were just discussing Draco's prospects."
"I wasn't aware that he had any," Lucius observed bluntly.
"Not after the things he said to that McCormack girl, at any rate!" Narcissa's cough failed to halt Bagman's recollection. "In the middle of Diagon Alley! Some of the parents out in the street had to Obliviate their own children to stop them remembering any of the language he used."
"That was seven months ago," Narcissa reproved, but Bagman was on a roll.
"And how many charming young ladies have you submitted for his approval since then? Is it four? Five? None of them good enough, of course, but at least he kept mostly within the law when he threw them over, nothing I couldn't hush up for you."
The portrait stirred angrily. "Thank you for your concern for my family, Ludo. Most admirable although quite unnecessary. I have this matter in hand. Send Draco to speak to me the instant he returns."
Grudgingly, Ludo made his farewells. But as Narcissa was replacing the firescreen, she caught the ghost of his voice.
"Don't despair, old girl," he told her. "I'll sort something out. Leave it all to me."
It was an indication of her dilemma that she found herself tempted to do just that.
The Cannons' assistant coach scanned the sky nervously. At ninety points down, they could still pull this match out of the bag, but only if their star recruit whose transfer had cost the salary of three lesser players resolved to make his move soon.
Potter gave every impression of nonchalance as he circled the field, slowly climbing. Though he was only an assistant coach and hence not yet qualified to assert so lofty an opinion, the assistant coach thought nonchalance was far too mild a word. What Potter was, was just plain arrogant. After two unequivocal sackings - from the Tornados for insubordination and repeated absences; from the Arrows for poor onfield motivation and excessive off-field motivation with respect to the coach's fifteen-year-old daughter - he should have come to the Cannons with a scrap of humility. No such luck. Instead, he issued terms and ultimatums as candidly as visiting royalty. This morning's run-in had been over Thursday's team photographs. Alone of all the players, Potter refused to attend. "No more fucking pictures," their three-match-old Seeker had declared venomously as he threw his broom in his locker and walked away with even casting a simple ward over it. And no one - no one - had dared to press the point. A fearful hush hung over the dressing room in his wake, as if even posing the question had been a grave mistake.
Potter was climbing higher. Probably planning one of the arsey manoeuvres that turned casual spectator’s catatonic and made Quidditch purists want to strangle him. This one looked like a set-up for the Breakneck Wronski: his own variation which threaded the descent right through the tumultuous centre of play and needlessly put lives at risk.
He climbed higher. When every last spectator and indeed most of the players had their eyes on him, he swooped high over the eastern stand. Potter passed it, and kept on flying. Disbelieving eyes and the beginnings of an outraged murmur followed his diminishing form. The neglected Quaffle drifted slowly to the ground as Potter simply kept on flying. With grim satisfaction, the assistant coach took out his schedule for Thursday's photographs and scored Potter's name from the list. He had to hand it to the boy. That was as eloquent a resignation as professional Quidditch had ever seen.
"Spot of bother at Gringotts', darling?" his mother asked as he dutifully kissed her cheek.
The traces of ash across her décolletage were evidence of another productive afternoon at the fireplace.
"Don't encourage gossip, Mother," he told her wearily. "It's unbecoming. Father always said so."
The curtains by Lucius's portrait swayed gently. With a flick of Draco's wand, they snapped shut, muffling whatever contribution he might have made.
"I won't be down to dinner," he informed her from the doorway.
She brightened. "Will you be dining out?"
"In my room." He took great pleasure in dismantling her hopes: "Alone."
Narcissa's legendary beauty came from her uniquely expressive features: a firm, mobile mouth and deep blue eyes that caught the light and held it by command. In moments like this, her face could dim like a lamp.
"Oh," she said in a small voice - then, with infuriating predictability, warmed again. "I took morning tea with your great-aunt Henrietta, you know. Her back is improving. She had some news. Hannah Abbott is back in England, you'll remember her from Hogwarts, of course. Bright young lady. She's been studying in Geneva - extremely capable with strength-giving potions, they -."
"No!" Draco thundered. The chandelier above him jangled ominously then stilled. "If you try to force another woman on me, Mother, I swear on Lucius's grave, I will return her to you with her legs attached where her head should be."
As if his displeasure needed further emphasis, he slammed the door as he left, hard enough to throw up ancient dust from deep inside the doorframe and knock the Ming vase from its pedestal.
Repairing the vase took some precision, threading together new adhering spells amongst the old and even older ones in an invisible tapestry. When it was done, Narcissa turned back to the fireplace and allowed herself a deep, despairing sigh.
Draco shook off the conciliatory torch bracket curling out toward him and jerked away from the banister that tried more insistently to catch his arm as he passed. Halfway up the stairs, he had to stun the red velvet carpet, which was writhing around his ankles like an amorous cat. His father wanted his attention. His father always wanted his attention. Now that he was dead.
In life, he had looked on Draco as just another one of his possessions: more cherished than the carriage, without doubt, but hardly as prestigious as the emerald ring that Grindelwald had worn at his last stand. Then when death (or, more precisely, Fenrir Greyback in his last and most treacherous act) had crippled Lucius's dreams, he had transferred them part and parcel to his son. Lucius held high ambitions for the bloodline that currently ended emphatically with Draco, and pure haphazard chance had given him more power than most fathers had had to see his desires fulfilled. Perhaps it was the fact that Lucius had died on his very doorstep, in the middle of an avalanche of desperate defensive curses, that had produced the unique magical side-effect - no one had yet been able to explain it. The house bent to Lucius's will. It was as simple as that.
Draco's door opened invitingly before him. Once he would have entered suspiciously. Now he simply palmed the hatchet he kept out in the corridor. He swung viciously at a strip of wallpaper that peeled away from the wall and swayed toward him. With a whisper of meticulously sharpened iron, the amputated rectangle of yellow-daffodilled paper drifted to the ground. The remainder of the fixtures counted their losses and went still. Lucius did not press his point. This discussion, like so many before it, had been deferred.
It was the knocking sound that was different. None of the other sensations struck Harry as out of the ordinary: not the insidious headache, the smell of perfume and spilled whiskey, and the stale taste in his mouth or the lightly haired thigh under his cheek. As the knocking continued, he felt around for his wand.
Prising one eye open, he took in the blurred white bodies of the two girls unconscious on the lounge - if the younger sister's hair had shown those red highlights in the torchlight last night, he would have sent them both home. The sound was coming from the front door. It intensified as he untangled himself from the long limbs of the dancer whose name he'd already forgotten. In the low light, the angle of his shoulders tapering down to his waist had seemed a perfect replica of Wyndham, the Cannons' devastatingly handsome captain whom Harry had just spent four weeks and thirteen pints prying loose from his wedding vows, only to find that he shagged with all the vain complacency that his looks promised.
Harry rolled the naked man roughly onto his side and pulled his wand from beneath him.
By the time he got to the door, the caller had vanished. A thick, cream coloured scroll was wedged into his mail slot. He dislodged it and read the first word.
It made a satisfying little blaze on the doorstep.
Draco woke from chokingly violent dreams to find the curtain cord stroking affectionately down the side of his neck. He lashed at it with the knife beneath his pillow and left it twitching on the floor.
Worse still, when he came down to breakfast, Percy Weasley was sitting at the foot of the table with a host of papers in neat piles in front of him and an enormous book bound in pure white hide at his elbow. Behind the extravagant vase of tulips, his mother looked up a little guiltily.
"Good morning, darling. Did you sleep well?"
Draco dragged out the chair at the opposite end of the table. "No. Since when do we receive visitors before noon?"
"This is hardly a social call."
He nodded at the tulips, whose blooms were an expressive shade of pink. "You'll recall the Ministry's many previous visits. Their officials aren't in the habit of bringing gifts."
His mother coloured slightly. "Those arrived by owl this morning. The card isn't signed."
"Bagman, then, is it? At least all the others can spell their own names."
Narcissa stood up abruptly. "Would you like tea, dear? I'll have a fresh pot sent up."
When she had disappeared in the direction of the kitchen, their guest looked up for the first time from his paperwork. Draco let a slow sneer take over his face as Weasley studied him over the top of his glasses.
"Found a loophole yet? Or are you just soaking up more of my mother's money along with the free tea and the pastries?"
The flutter of Weasley's eyelashes told him the barb had not entirely missed.
"The legal deadlock remains as insoluble as ever. And as you ought to know, it would be quite unethical for me to accept additional payments for services performed on behalf of the Department for Magical Records."
Draco crooked his finger and the platter of pastries sailed across to him. "You've looked at every document in the Ministry archives and in ours. If you haven't found an answer yet, I can only assume it's because you can't afford to buy pain au chocolat as good as my mother's."
Among Weasley's many detestable traits was his reluctance to anger. The way he looked at Draco implied an age gap much wider than the four years that actually separated them.
"The answer, Draco, is the same as it was two years ago when your father's will was read out. You will have to get married first."
The legs on Weasley's chair vanished. He tumbled onto the floor as Draco returned his hand surreptitiously to the tabletop. "Temperamental furniture in this house. It's like an old Kneazle. You never know who it's going to take to."
Weasley merely dusted himself off with calm forbearance and repaired his broken quill with a softly spoken word. He continued in the same strident tone.
"Until you find a wife, your mother can't remarry without putting your inheritance at risk. Which, for some misguided reason, she is unwilling to - Draco, if you draw your wand on me again, you had better be prepared to explain it to a Wizengamot inquiry. I am an officer-"
"Then keep your filthy, badly-bred hands out of my family's business!"
Worse than anything, he loathed the look Weasley gave him then. There was pity in it.
"I'm here at your mother's request to look after your family's interests. I've looked through all the Ministry's old proclamations and enough of your family's papers to be almost certain that I won't find any way around it. So you can stop running away from this fact. Your mother is still a young woman, Draco. Beautiful and vivacious, surrounded by admirers, and it's nothing but your adolescent contrariness that keeps her like a prisoner here in-"
"Mother!" Draco gave her a sunny, malicious smile as she stood in the doorway with the steam from the teapot veiling her uncomfortable expression.
Weasley flushed deeply. "I beg your pardon, Mrs Malfoy," he mumbled.
Only Draco seemed unperturbed: "Mother, I'm flying out to check the boundary wards. Bagman's becoming intolerable - I'll arrange for his owls to turn into tortoises as they fly over the border and if the rocks don't take care of them, the Knarls will. When I get back, I presume you will have informed this fawning little arriviste that he has nothing to offer this family. Do dispose of him accordingly."
The house did nothing to molest him on his way out to the gardens, but he snatched a pike from a suit of armour and smashed a stained glass window anyway. It never hurt to remind all parties that, although he might be years away from the inheritance that would confer physical ownership of the house, here in the present he had the incontrovertible advantage of flesh, blood and a legendary lack of self-control.
By the end of the second bottle, they were reluctant allies. By the end of the fourth, they were blood brothers.
"... all of us winners!" Ludo Bagman crowed suddenly and muttered something about 'timeshare'.
Shacklebolt, whose constitution never revealed any symptoms of drunkenness until the moment he flowed from chair to floor like an upended cauldron full of marshmallow, glared at him. "Don't get carried away, Ludo. First we have to deal with the boy."
The memory deflated Bagman instantly. He had another sausage roll and another glass.
"I take it your campaign of flowers and poetry has failed to weaken the lovely Mrs Malfoy's resolve."
Bagman's shook his head forlornly.
"Then we have no other choice."
"Are you sure?" Bagman shuddered. "We could always wait until the little prick comes of age."
"Pay attention, Ludo." It was Snape who cut in impatiently. "After the spate of patricides in the eighteenth century, the Malfoy men have typically set their sons' majority at thirty years of age." He spoke over the top of Bagman's low groan. "Though in lowering the age to twenty-five in Draco's case, I fear Lucius was making a fairly damning assessment of the boy's potential. Only the act of marriage can bring his majority forward now. Once he marries, the settling influence of a wife and family renders him fit to receive his inheritance immediately."
"Then we have our answer," Shacklebolt continued. "If any of us is going to save Narcissa from a lonely widowhood, we have to find a bride for the son."
A long, grim contemplation silenced them.
"There might be a giantess somewhere who could stomach him," Bagman suggested feebly. "For the right price."
Shacklebolt mentioned the Statute Prohibiting Acts of Oppression Against Non-Wizarding Peoples. Snape twirled his glass thoughtfully on the tabletop.
Bagman struggled on. "What about Polyjuice? We could pay someone to do it. After the wedding, they would just run away."
"If they remained capable of running," noted Shacklebolt. "Do remember that the first young lady his mother sent to woo him is still in recuperation in Switzerland."
"It isn't a bride we need," Snape said suddenly.
Shacklebolt leaned forward: "Go on."
"The only woman of my acquaintance who could master the Malfoy boy is Hermione Granger, who when I raised the subject with her used at least two words I'm certain have never passed her lips before." Reluctantly, he approached his conclusion. "But that set me on another train of thought entirely. Not a bride but a groom. Lucius's will fails to stipulate gender."
Bagman scoffed with all the superior huff he employed when people tried to tell him that Cameroon was the name of a country and not a biscuit, and that indeed he had once drunkenly broken down the front door of an embassy there. "There's not a man in Britain crazy or desperate enough to take on that bloodthirsty little maniac!"
Shacklebolt looked into Snape's eyes with illumination. He gave an uncharacteristically wide smile.
"There's just one man who might be both."
It didn't surprise him that he'd interrupted Potter mid-shag. If the rumours were true, there was only a brief window between seven and seven-fifteen a.m. where he stood a chance of finding him otherwise engaged.
"What do you want, Snape? Voldemort had fucking better have risen again for you to be bothering me at this hour."
"It's scarcely midnight. Surely the night is young by your standards."
Potter lounged against the hallway wall, as if daring Snape to point out that he was wearing nothing but a threadbare black tee shirt that ended at about the point where decency would have required it to begin.
"I have a proposition that may work to our mutual advantage. I don't expect you'll find it pleasant, but it's not so far from where your tastes clearly lie, and above all, it will provide you with a fixed and sizable income."
"I don't need more money."
Snape had perfected the art of the ominous silence.
"I take it that you haven't seen yesterday's special evening edition of the Prophet." Potter turned away in disgust. "Which announces the British Quidditch League's extraordinary disciplinary action against one H J Potter."
"It's not extraordinary." Potter tugged the hem of his shirt down. "They're always on at me about something."
Snape shook out the paper with unnecessary flourish and read. "Last straw ... renegade ... put an end to ... and, what's that word there? Arrogant. Ah, here we are. Seeking a full refund of transfer payments, training expenses and match fees for sessions unattended, as well as compensation for plummeting supporter numbers, medical expenses, staff resignations, and the costs of rebuilding the Ballycastle stadium after the year you lost the grand final to the Bats-"
"There's no way I'm paying for that."
"-and if the debt is unpaid, the Minister for Magical Games and Sport has personally authorised your immediate conveyance to Azkaban."
Potter laughed and shivered at the same time.
"Azkaban! There'd be a riot if they tried to lock me up."
"And yet this article quotes directly from the summons."
The way Potter rubbed his temples was an old man's gesture. He looked up with tired eyes. "They won't do it. They can talk as big as they like, but when it comes down to it, they won't touch me. It doesn't matter what I do. The Minister for Magical Sprains and Warts can go his hardest, it makes no difference."
Snape carefully wielded that silence again. His gaze left particular emphasis on Potter's bare legs, which were goosepimpling in the cold.
"If you're sure," Snape said. Potter put his hand on the latch but didn't close the door. "I'll tell Draco Malfoy, shall I, that you have no interest in his family fortune or his seat on the Wizengamot or his untouchable pureblood posterior?"
That name worked on Potter like an awakening charm. He stood up straight for the first time.
"Malfoy?" He snatched the paper from Snape's hand and busied himself reading it. "What's Malfoy got to do with this?"
This was the point Snape had planned not to reach until quite a few drinks later, when he had Potter nicely unsuspecting.
"And what the hell is 'affray'?" Potter scowled. "I hit one of them over the head with a barstool and threw the other three in the river with their trousers off." When he looked up again, Snape could see he had gained Potter's complete attention. "So what exactly would I have to do to get Malfoy's money?"
Snape licked his lips thoughtfully. "Shall we step inside?"
Potter reappeared from the bedroom after surprisingly few words with his anonymous guest, and Snape heard the front door click shut.
"I told him I've had a better offer," Potter said.
Judging the sofa too soft and vulnerable, Snape leaned against the back of a chair.
"I don't think you understand me, Potter," he intoned with just the right touch of condescension.
These last two years, Potter had cultivated a smile very much like a dragon's. "Oh no, Severus," he lilted. "I don't think you understand me."
No matter what he did to dissuade them, they always came back to try again. This time it was Snape, who waylaid him when he was coming back from a broomstick tour of the grounds.
"Draco," he nodded as the younger man vaulted off his broom and deftly caught the handle. After an unencouraging pause, he added, "I've been at the Ministry this morning."
The strategy of it was perfectly clear to Draco. It was a two hundred-metre walk from the old stables he used as his broom shed back to the house. Snape had about one and a half minutes. Draco dumped his broom and set off at his liveliest pace.
"As you will no doubt be aware, the question of local application of Part V of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy is before the Wizengamot again."
Damn Snape's long legs. Draco very pointedly said nothing.
"Do you I take it you have no opinion on this?"
Draco snapped, "Which side would you like me to take, Severus? The sentimental idiots who want to drag the greatest of us into the mud to make us equal with animals and half-breeds? Or the failures. The cowards, the traitors - the ones who let him turn our great cause into his own petty vendetta?"
Snape snorted lightly. "It may one day occur to you to take your own stance without recourse to sides." He pulled far enough ahead of Draco to look back at him. "The ancient families have few enough inherited seats left to them, Draco, without yours going to waste."
They had reached the stairs now, where youth gave Draco an advantage. He took them two at a time. "The Wizengamot did no worse than usual in all those years Lucius was suspended. In any case, the entire Wizengamot could be eaten by a herd of manticores and the most I'd do is provide toothpicks for afterwards. They sent my father to his death when they locked him up, and they did it again when they released him in that state. I won't forgive that."
Snape must have snuck in some sort of magic because he was hot on Draco's heels and scarcely even short of breath.
"If not public affairs, Draco, with what do you imagine you will occupy your adult years? If you continue to defer your choice, circumstances will choose for you. Perhaps sooner than you think."
Draco had reached the door of the library. "Speaking of choices, Severus," he smirked. "Is that my mother's perfume you've got on you?"
Snape's sallow complexion didn't allow blushing, but he looked as if he'd like to as Draco slammed the door against him.
As he walked beside her down the corridor, Narcissa couldn't be sure whether he was gazing in awe at the manor's opulence, or sizing it up for re-decoration the moment his part in this dubious bargain was fulfilled.
"Draco darling? You have a visitor."
As she pulled the library door closed, the last thing she heard was Potter casting a leg-locker curse. She winced on her son's behalf and hurried away along the corridor.
Draco had a gift for rage. On some days he gave it the cold, crushing force of a glacier; on others he could hurl out words and sharp objects like a geyser. He could do the sort of uncontrolled fury that most people didn't even dream of - the Gringotts' incident was really more recreation than any real attempt at anger. Draco had a master chef's intuition for the different aromas and textures and tastes of wrath. He thought he had perfected every possible state of anger, from indignation to rancour to full-blown apoplexy.
But being incapacitated by Harry Potter in his own house put him right off the scale.
Self-preservation kicked in first: he drew his own wand and immediately knew the extent of his mother's treachery. The weight was wrong. The timber too knotted. As he uttered the counter-curse, a red rose burst from the end of the useless wood and nodded fragrantly.
"Nice," Potter said, approaching far too close for comfort. Draco put the dummy wand back in his pocket, in case it came in handy for stabbing Potter in the eye. For the fact that she'd removed the thorns from it first, he might let his mother keep one of her fingers when he was finished with her.
Two deep breaths brought the power of speech back to him. "Since you are incapable of saying anything beyond the obvious and the trite, kindly refrain from polluting my library with your presence. Or to put it in the sort of gutter language you would understand, get the fuck out of my house."
Potter was still advancing. "Did I hear the voice of an angel?" he mused.
Draco was so taken aback his heart gave an odd thump right up high in his ribs, then he grasped the spirit in which it was intended.
"There's nothing wrong with my voice. At least I don't talk like I spent my childhood with only mops and buckets and old cardboard boxes for company."
Potter paused at least.
"Oh wait, just a moment, were there mops or couldn't you afford those? Perhaps you had to clean the floors with your tongue - that would explain why you still pronounce your esses as if the whole fucking Gulf Stream was blowing out of your mouth."
Testing his legs revealed that the strength of the curse hadn't wilted one iota. Its caster, meanwhile, had come within spitting distance - if only Draco had deigned to send his spit on such a low errand.
"Clever and beautiful and what a magnificent temperament," Potter murmured, looking at Draco as though he bore all the fascinating features of a brand new model Cleansweep. "Draco, did anyone ever tell you you're completely irresistible?"
Draco choked. Then finally the clumsiness of rage passed and his anger reached the point he preferred: white hot and brilliant.
"... can't breathe ..." Draco whispered.
It was Potter's turn to look taken aback.
Draco dropped his voice lower. "... so overcome ... can't ...".
Potter was such an open book - you could see the exact moment that real concern came into his eyes. "Wait. Draco, what's-" He came closer. Perfect.
"Accio helmet!" cried Draco - very distinctly - and a heavy Corinthian battle helmet dislodged itself from the top shelf of the bookcase and swooped down toward him, on an arc that had Potter's head as its unavoidable end-point. Draco's blood surged in triumph. Then at the last moment before impact, Potter turned and immobilised it. Wandlessly. And with no more spellwork than a breath of air between his lips.
"Probably what I would have done," he said, setting the helmet down under the window. "Nice magic. Smart use of resources."
He was prattling as though Draco hadn't just failed to kill him.
"And my next ideas would have used ... this." He plucked the dummy wand from Draco's pocket. "And ... this." He cast a strong adhering charm to keep the tallest bookshelf from toppling. "And maybe this." He tore away the silver dragon pin fastening Draco's robe, making the heavy wool slip off his shoulders.
He gave the room a last cursory glance.
"And now we can set a wedding date."
Before Draco knew what he was doing, his knuckles were aching and Potter was cradling his jaw. Recoiling from the blow unbalanced him and he tottered on his paralysed legs - first forward, then sideways, then lurching helplessly backward. His stomach muscles strained to keep him vertical, but they weakened and faltered and he closed his eyes against the inevitable skull-cracking descent.
Potter - damn every cell in his body to its own individual level in hell - caught him.
He waited until the last moment to do it, so that Draco was left draped in his arms halfway to the floor like some swooning pantomime heroine. He clutched Potter's biceps reluctantly and hung on tight as Potter held him there, quite contentedly, with the muscles down both of their torsos straining in effort and his shabby black tee-shirt exuding a sweaty, alcoholic, slept-in smell that might have made Draco curious if he weren't speechlessly mad again.
"Draco, if you scratch me, or bite me or try to hit me, I'll have to -"
Why did people insist on talking to him in ultimatums as if he were five years old, as if he gave a fat flying fuck for consequences when the red mist was on him like this? He bit and scratched and lashed out with his fists.
He didn't hear the stunning spell. When he awoke a short time later, laid out on the rug with his robes folded under his head, his legs had started tingling. There were rose petals scattered over him. The scent of them was everywhere - in his hair and all through his clothes. He even found one solitary petal placed perfectly over his tongue, velvety soft against the roof of his mouth.
Harry Potter was a dead man. He was so dead that ghosts would think he was spooky. He was so dead that somebody, somewhere was already carving his tombstone and it said "I should have known better than to fuck with Draco Francis Tristram Malfoy".
The silence stretched like endless primordial swamp, with nothing to fill it but gloomy thoughts and the squelch of Bagman sucking on the four false teeth he'd got from that barfight at the '76 World Cup.
"Then again," Shacklebolt said finally. "Perhaps 'disaster' is too strong a word. Shall we settle for 'initial set-back' and have another pint?"
Trouble was, it was hard to slip your hand around the curve of a pint glass without thinking about Narcissa Malfoy's bottom.
Draco avoided the common parts of the house as long as he could, but two days later his mother cornered him in the kitchen. She watched him fix himself a sparse bowl of nuts and a generous glass of burgundy.
"It's barely past breakfast," Narcissa rebuked. He pointedly topped up the glass. "Darling-"
Draco's self-restraint snapped. "Darling, is it? How can you call me darling while you're trying to marry me off to a man who hates everything this family stands for? Are you so desperate to get a new man between your legs and debase my father's memory that you can't wait for me to find someone who name isn't an insult to me and to this family?"
Once, that sort of statement would have shocked his mother into a wounded, brooding silence.
"Darling," Narcissa persisted coolly. "You don't have to marry the Potter boy. But you do have to marry. And soon." She cast a cautious glance at the ceiling and went on in a low voice. "This house needs a master, Draco. It won't do to have it ruled by a ghost. It's becoming ... wild."
The way she shuddered made her look - extraordinarily - every year of her age. Weak. And helpless.
"You get married first then," he snarled. "I don't care if it costs me my inheritance. I hate this house anyway."
As he stalked away, the house was remarkably still, apart from a plaintive sighing in the chimneys.
When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, Draco retreated to his great-grandfather Aurelius's old study at the top of the east wing. Austerely lit with one line of gothic windows, it held the many dark publications the family had been able to salvage from the Ministry's raids, and it was the room which seemed most immune to Lucius's unearthly influence. Calm was no longer a state with which Draco was even on speaking terms, but here in this room was the closest he allowed it to approach.
Even so, he rarely read the books, unless he had a particular piece of sabotage in mind and, by the time the shadows had started to creep up the wall, he was doing no more than stare aimlessly through the windows. The early spring evening was coming on, and the western edges of the fat grey clouds in the distance were licked with gold.
"It's a beautiful view."
Draco's hex flew out the door and hit the corridor wall, tearing a dark hole with a rim of smouldering orange. "Get out, Potter."
There was a furious smacking of cloth as, retreating to the other side of the wall, Potter put out a spark where the spell had grazed him.
"Don't you want to know whether I meant you or the sunset?"
He wasn't glad to see Potter. He was only glad of the distraction. "No."
"I meant you."
Draco perched on the edge of his seat, left hand pointed forward for balance and his wand aimed along the length of it. The only question was whether he would aim to kill with the first spell.
"I let myself in," Potter went on, just out of sight, the flapping of cloth continuing. "My owl never came back from delivering a note to you. I found her crawling round the hills with a tortoise shell on her. I suppose that's your work."
Draco quelled a flourish of pride. "Of course. My wards aren't just for show. What were you expecting? Not all of us have spent the last two years going soft."
Potter laughed at that. "No, you're as hard as ever, Draco. Just what I expected."
He made that sound like it had a double, confidential meeting, and Draco felt unwelcomely warm.
"The note didn't say much. Just that I love you. And that we're getting married next Sunday."
Shock blanked Draco's mind at exactly the moment Potter launched himself through the door and tumbled into shelter behind the sofa at the far end of the room. Draco watched in horror as his own curse, a microsecond too late, struck a shelf of dark runes texts. Amid the red smoke and the hellish screeching, the ash pouring into the floorboards proclaimed that some of these black treasures would never be read again.
Still, his first shot had been good. He'd caught a glimpse of the mess of scorched fabric and flesh on Potter's right calf. And Potter was in distress. Now that he was inside, his panting echoed in the room, and Draco listened in fascination to the stifled murmurs and hitches of breath as he tended to his wound.
"They used to take mad wizards miles out to sea and tie an anchor to their leg," Draco told him coldly. "Our lake is just deep enough if I use a very short rope."
Potter let his breath out in a hiss and said in a strained voice, "Do you think I'm crazy, Draco?"
"Oh, bravo! Well deduced."
Potter seemed to think that over.
"Crazy for wanting to marry you?"
"Crazy for imagining I'd let you." Draco's mind was only half on the conversation: he refused to let his attention be drawn from aiming his wand at the back of the sofa, ready for the first sight of Potter's head above it.
"You might not have a choice."
"Cutting my own head off with a razorblade is a choice, Potter, and a preferable one."
"Don't do that, Draco. You have such a beautiful neck."
That was the infuriating thing about Potter: he never, ever played by the rules. Draco fought the warmth rising in his supposedly beautiful neck. The Malfoy profile was part of his birthright, but even his mother had found nothing especially admirable about his neck. Potter gave a grunt of discomfort behind the sofa.
Draco approached the injured man. "That rug is Re'em hide, you know. You can't afford to bleed on it."
"Roses or lilies?"
Draco's step faltered then resumed. "What?"
"Next Sunday." There was a rip of cloth and half-swallowed whimper. "Roses are pretty obvious, don't you think? I see you with lilies. They're ... I don't know ... classical. Graceful. Pure. Are you a virgin, Draco?"
Draco promptly tripped on the border of Re'em hide.
"Not that I care either way," Potter went on. "You could have shagged your way through every piece of arse on sale in Knockturn and it wouldn't change who you are. Your courage. Your devotion. Your tender heart."
Just as Draco's spell broke the sofa into splinters, the velvet drapes swept closed and plunged the room into darkness. Quick footsteps were muffled in the remains of the sofa settling.
"Potter!" he snarled and cast a reckless, blind curse that set one of the drapes on fire. The hair was prickling all over the back of his neck.
A voice in his ear whispered, "Draco". From behind, Potter snatched his wand and threw it away. Then he seized Draco hard around the waist and sank his mouth into Draco's neck. Panicked, Draco beat at his forearms and struggled, but Potter's grip was tight with bloody-minded determination and professionally honed muscle. There was nothing gentle about Potter's intention: he sucked brutally with his wet, hot mouth. When he used his teeth, Draco's skin turned feverish; when he stroked hard with the point of his tongue, it was worse.
Draco couldn't work his own mouth, but he had enough self-possession left to raise his right foot and kick his heel into Potter's leg wound. For seconds after Potter had Apparated away, his howled obscenities hung in the air.
In the flare of light from the smouldering curtain, Draco staggered into the nearest chair. His knees shook, his ribs ached and his neck burned, but those weren't the first priority in his badly shocked body. It wasn't until the third attempt that he managed to get his hand steady enough to open his belt buckle.
The next morning Draco rose early and made his way to the study.
Lucius's eyes pinned him the instant the curtain opened.
"Since I hold little hope that my son should ever learn the art of courtesy, I presume your visit to be the result either of accident or of perilous need. Which is it?"
Draco reached for his wand again, but after a time answered, "I need a spell. Or something."
In life, he would have been tall enough now to look his father in the eye, but the portrait was hung high up on the wall. "You need a spell. Or something. Draco, if you intend to bring me problems that any schoolboy ought to be able to solve, I will thank you not to disturb me at all."
"Father, I -"
"Laziness, Draco. It was always your most unforgivable fault. I should have liked to train you out of the habit of helplessness."
Draco's head bent over the desk could have indicated submission, but when he looked up, his lips had cutting edges.
"Yeah Dad? You would have liked to do a lot of things, wouldn't you, but unfortunately you went and got yourself killed. Wiped out by a werewolf - not even a proper wizard. Humiliating much, Dad?" His voice had risen out of his control. "Fuck your advice. Why would I want it? You fucked everything up anyway. You never did anything right."
Because his mother had protected the painting with a fortress of carefully placed spells, the best he could do was pull the curtains savagely across Lucius's furious retort. He spent the rest of the day out flying so that, when he went to bed, he would be too tired to think about Potter at all.
Kingsley's choice of poetry was really not that bad. It was his misfortune that, on the morning he sent it, Narcissa had already deposited Severus's first edition copy of "Most Potent Potions" into the library (unread) and fed Ludo's marzipan fruits to the birds. He would have wept to see how, retrieving his scroll from the owl's talons, she passed it straight to the most singularly unartistic human who had ever drawn breath.
"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day," Percy Weasley read out in exactly the same tone he had just used on the footnotes to the 1931 Decree for the Conveyance of Magical Estates. "After that it's pretty much a weather report. Rough winds do shake - what in mercy's name are darling buds? Mrs Malfoy, this is discourteous. Allow me to spare you this sort of primitive double entendre."
As he primly folded the parchment and Vanished it, the doorbell sounded. Narcissa opened it.
"Ah!" she said, in what co-incidentally was exactly the tone used by Abraham Peasegood's wife just after he had illustrated his new idea of Quodpot on her best linen tablecloth and in the process annihilated her saltshaker, her favourite Toby jug, and both of her eyebrows. "Ah."
When Potter stepped into the bedroom, it showered the walls and ceiling with drops of silvery light which drifted and swung like snowflakes as he moved. Draco glanced at his wand on the desk in sleepy bad temper. Potter stood in the centre of the room and held it in the stream of white light coming in between the curtains, where the individual ridges on each feather stood out like bright darts and the high arch of the gracefully curved neck wore a blaze of light like a bow at its back. It looked as if Potter held in his hands a vessel full of sunshine.
Somewhat sullenly, Potter inspected it. "The other day didn't turn out the way I meant. This is for you. It seemed kind of fitting."
It was a swan, about a wand-span from end to end and modelled in intricate detail entirely out of glass. If Draco had found it himself, and if he hadn't been confronted with it only a couple of minutes after a house-elf had broken his morning lie-in to announce his current visitor, he might have considered it quite lovely.
"Shove it, Potter. Or I'll shove it for you."
Potter smiled that infuriatingly reckless smile.
Draco had started to pull the duvet off himself when he remembered how he'd spent the previous evening after all.
"Get me my dressing gown," he ordered.
Potter put the swan down on the desk and leaned against it, clearly conveying that he was neither leaving nor assisting. The risk of a failed wandless summoning spell was too humiliating.
"I see. The great Harry Potter won't lift a finger without a contract, a performance fee, and the entire staff of the Prophet taking pictures. I'll do it myself then." Under Potter's keen gaze, he swung himself out of bed, clutching a pillow for modesty, and with some difficulty got his arms into the dressing gown slung over the chair.
"Why are you always so angry?" Potter asked as Draco dispensed with the pillow and tied three emphatic knots in the cord of his gown. "It's not just that you aren't getting laid, is it?"
Draco's nail snapped on the last knot. "Where on earth did you get that idea?"
"Your mother." Draco wondered if there was such a thing as an ex-mother; if so, he was shortly going to have one. "She says she's been throwing women at you like confetti and you haven't touched any of them."
Draco took a step toward his wand; Potter moved in front of it, resuming brightly: "Anyway, if that's the problem, you won't need to worry about it after next Sunday."
Draco paled. "Nothing is happening next Sunday. If you weren't so desperately in love with yourself, you'd see it's out of the question." Potter just shrugged. "Do you want to know how I think of you, Potter? You remember the spare training broom that lived in the back of the storage cupboard. The battered, filthy one that had the grey sludge on the handle from the sweaty fingers of all the incompetents who'd used it for the last thirty years. According to rumour, I must be the only wizard in the country who hasn't ridden you yet. I'd like to keep it that way."
Potter's eyes flashed. "Keep thinking of me as the broom, Draco. You won't know what hit you."
"There will be no wedding," Draco snarled - it called for a good solid shout, but his lungs suddenly lacked the air for it. "Get out of my house."
Potter picked up the glass swan. "If you like. But first, I came here to give you this."
With his most venomous smile, Draco let Potter place the gift in his hands. Its light weight proclaimed it hollow, and from this close he could see the engraved texture of the beak and the felted tips of the down around the eyes. Only when he'd raised it to chin level did he realise his dilemma. The delicate, slender-necked carving begged to be shattered. Everything about the object screamed smash me. Draco loathed the obvious. Potter slipped into a satisfied smirk.
"This is very kind of you, Potter," Draco said evenly. "I'm sure I don't need to tell you how touched I am."
He bent down to place the swan on the grate in the fireplace. With a word, the flames surged around it. The leaping light put a pleading gleam in the bird's glossy eye.
When he stood up, Potter was almost standing on top of his toes.
"It's yours to do what you want with," Potter murmured darkly and wound the end of Draco's dressing gown cord around his index finger.
"Training broom, Potter. I can even smell the mildew on you."
Potter's attention was fixed on his lips. Draco bit them hard and pulled the gown tighter over his chest. With a shower of light notes, the base of the sculpture fractured and disintegrated.
"Let go, you idiot!" Draco's voice sounded like a stranger's: flustered. If Potter wouldn't release him voluntarily, the only choice was, unthinkably, to touch him. "I said let go!"
Obeying, Potter shifted his hands to slide down Draco's waist where they came to rest just over his hips, so warm through the single-layer silk that Draco might have been wearing nothing at all.
Draco had ten or twelve reliable wank fantasies, ranging from "getting blown by total stranger in Hogs Head toilets" to "entire Romanian Quidditch team on end of year drink-and-fuck trip". Potter's hands claiming the top of his hips wasn't one of them, but he couldn't think for the life of him why he'd left it off the list.
"That's it, Draco," Potter murmured, and slid one finger into the opening of the dressing gown.
"Touch me with that finger and I'll tear it off!" Draco growled. In mounting panic, he appended, "You should be ashamed to come near me after what you did to my family."
Potter paused, looking at him curiously from under his eyelashes. "And what's that exactly?"
The faintness receded as Draco clutched that one statement, flung out in desperation, and realised how ardently he had meant it. As the glass cracked and burst by his feet, he thought about just how much Potter had to be sorry for.
"Don't pretend you don't know, Potter," he said - and that was better, his voice was icy. "It was your work as clearly as if you'd used your own wand. You set Greyback on my father."
The remains of the swan coughed and tinkled forlornly, then went quiet. "Say that again."
"You heard me. When you and your friends took the castle. You didn't even try to stop him leaving. You probably even gave him directions."
Of all the slanderous attacks he'd made, Draco had no idea why this should be the one to make Potter tense up like a dog about to bite. The silence made him wish for the return of the swan's death-throes.
"Did I?" Potter said, very low.
Draco mastered his flinching instinct as Potter raised his hand. But he didn't lash out. Potter unfastened the clasp on his robe and shrugged it onto the floor, then he stripped back his shirt, pulling it up under his armpits.
The claw marks running down his front stood out stark and dark purple. The scar tissue looked rough, especially where the lacerations were most penetrating, just over his belly. Draco refused to think about how deep Greyback's claw must have gone. He knew from his time with Voldemort what a man's entrails looked like.
"He still got past you," Draco said in a whisper, his gaze trapped by the ugly rent in the smooth muscle of Potter's abdomen.
"And where were you, Malfoy?" Quietly menacing, Potter was in his face. "Where the fucking hell were you the whole time we were dying like flies?"
Something had happened to Draco over the last few days. Potter's anger had lost its terror; in fact, he didn't care either way whether Potter struck him or not. The sight of the old wound had left him feeling sick to the stomach, but Potter's anger was potent and wild and Draco leaned into it like a daisy in strong sun.
"Where were you when we were cleaning up the last of them?" Potter continued harshly. "You wandered out of the forest one afternoon saying you wanted to change sides. That night you dictated the world's most self-serving confession - and then you disappeared again. Why?"
Draco remembered every predictably disappointing detail about that night. "I don't know what you mean."
"Come on, Malfoy. I know you were-"
"Darling?" came Narcissa's knock at the door. It opened a sliver. "It's so terribly quiet. Is everything all right in here?"
"Couldn't be better," Potter replied, eyes never leaving Draco's. "Don't worry about the silence. Even Draco can't manage to talk, kiss and undress me at the same time." As he passed her at the door, he lowered his voice, not quite enough. "Your son's got the lips of a Parisian courtesan, you know."
With that, he sauntered off down the corridor. Under his mother's most concerned look, Draco swayed with the weight of defeat.
"It's him or me, Mother. If you let him through the door one more time, I swear to you I'll marry the first Muggle I can find and move to Essex."
Harry was flying around Henley when the owl caught up with him.
The unsigned note began in indignantly slanted letters: "Incidentally, Potter, your assumptions about my private life are not only offensive but also as misjudged as ever. My disinterest in your predecessors does not reflect any lack of appetite. It merely proves that my tastes run to something more adventurous than sentimental females who think they can find my soul through my cock. Since I wouldn't have your treacherous hands near either, I suggest you save yourself the humiliation of returning."
Harry smiled darkly. "I knew it."
Draco, whom recent experience had taught to expect nothing but the worst, wasted no time planning for the next inevitable encounter.
When Potter stood in his doorway again, in the evening two days later, he wore an expression of marrow-deep shock.
"Malfoy, what's this?" he demanded.
"Harry," Draco chided gently. "What else would it be except what it looks like?"
He stretched very deliberately, from the toes of his bare feet right up to the tendons of his scented neck, and Potter watched every flexing muscle. Lounging on his bed in his snuggest pair of grey trousers and a strategically unfastened white shirt, Draco had aimed for a look that said "unconsciously seductive" and, by his own evaluation, had hit it right between the eyes. Potter looked profoundly uncomfortable.
"What are you playing at?"
"You're familiar with the concept of a test ride, aren't you? Only an idiot buys a broom over the counter." It was the moment for a slow, suggestive smile, but Draco couldn't make himself do it. "I want to know how you handle. What's your performance under adverse conditions. What about comfort? Do you live up to the promises in your promotional material?"
The suspicion in Potter's eyes reluctantly faded. Then he grinned. "Responsively. Spirited. If that's your sort of thing. And yes, I don't believe in false advertising."
Draco leaned back on his elbows. "And I'm supposed to take your word for that, am I?"
For a man who'd stood against Voldemort, Potter was a pushover. As he strolled across the room, the shifting light seemed to catch an inexplicable trace of disappointment in his face. Nonetheless, he crawled along the bed until he had an arm supporting him either side of Draco's shoulders. Damn him to hell! How did he do it? By putting his body between you and the world, by giving you the unasked-for shelter of his arms, he dispelled a sense of insecurity you hadn't been aware of holding. He made you feel, quiveringly, as if nothing, anywhere could hurt you. Dredging up such an antique sentiment was unfair. Draco let his head fall back, and instantly Potter's breath warmed his neck.
There was a moment where he nearly didn't do it, as Potter nuzzled softly against the side of his neck. But there was only one way to be rid of Potter for good. He spoke the spell and the two iron bracelets sprang out from beneath his pillows and latched around Potter's wrists. Quick as a whip, Draco slid out from under him and off the bed.
"Now." Draco drove all the bedroom warmth out of his voice and tried for the casual chill he thought his father might have used on prisoners. "Let's talk about this wedding, shall we? There isn't going to be one. When I'm finished with you, you'll be lucky if you ever get to have one. I'll show you what happens to people who think they can make fun of this family."
Potter's silence was disconcerting. He wasn't even struggling. He kept completely still on all fours on the bed, with his messy hair concealing his face.
"Been a while since you've tasted the Cruciatus, has it?"
Potter turned his head sideways so his eyes showed green through the wild black hair. "You don't have it in you to do that in cold blood."
"Really?" Draco replied. From under the bed, he drew his knife, the hatchet, and a chisel. The cuffs clinked on the bed above as Potter tested them. Draco's grip on the chisel's handle was white-knuckled. He'd never used these things on flesh before.
"What happened to that silver tongue of yours, Harry?" Draco went on as he laid out the implements on the bed by Potter's knee. "Tell me again how charming I am, how ravishing. I think I can probably make you tell me anything I -"
Draco was very nearly sick, right there and then. As he stepped back from the bed, he caught sight of Potter's hands, still supporting him on the bed but with the shackles lying loose and open beside them. In a moment, Potter would come for him and Draco would be fighting for his life.