Recipient's name: mijan
Summary: Draco felt ready to face even a million years in Azkaban as long as it meant that at the end of it all, he would make Potter pay.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's notes: Many thanks to my beta-reader, who must remain nameless for the time being.
That have rusted in my back,
I drive in yours.
-- Adrienne Rich
"Do you know the real difference between Muggles and wizards, Draco?"
Draco shrugged. He knew that Muggles couldn't do magic, of course, but that didn't make them all that different from Draco, who couldn't do magic yet, either.
Lucius Malfoy nodded in the direction of a yellowing field beyond the Malfoy estate's border. A haystack, shaped exactly like the wart on Aunt Cordelia's nose, towered near the edge of the field. "What would you do if I told you that I have hidden a needle in that haystack?" asked Lucius. "How would you find it?"
"What would I want with an old needle?"
"Good answer," said Lucius, and chuckled in a way that made Draco feel very warm deep in his chest. "But let's say it's a special needle. It's Mummy's needle, and she wants it back. How do you find it in the haystack?"
"Summoning Charm." Draco couldn't wait until next year, when he would go to Hogwarts and learn his own Summoning Charms.
"Good boy. Do you know what a Muggle would do?"
"I don't know. Don't talk like a commoner, Draco. Our surname isn't Weasley."
Draco knew all about the Weasleys. They were horrible, nasty people who slept with their pigs. Draco hated pigs. They were dirty and disgusting, and they had beady little eyes that seemed to laugh at Draco every time he peeked into the pigpen--
"So what would a Muggle do to find the needle?"
"Needle?" Draco looked up at his father. "Oh. I don't know. If he didn't have magic, he would have to go there and look for it, wouldn't he? With his hands, I mean."
Lucius nodded. "That's where the saying 'looking for a needle in a haystack' comes from. It means searching for something with little hope of ever finding it."
Draco opened his mouth to point out that he currently would need to use his hands, too, so that still didn't make him too different from a Muggle, but his father continued talking, his cold grey gaze fixed on the haystack.
"Some of them are not as dumb as the others," said Lucius softly. "They might use a Magnet. It's a device that mimics a Summoning Charm, but it only works on metal."
"What does it look like?" asked Draco. For some reason, he imagined a sort of rectangular box covered in sharp, glowing pink spikes.
"I've never seen one," said Lucius. "Nor do I particularly care to. Muggle devices are, without exception, crude and unimaginative." An autumn-browned leaf clung to the sleeve of his cloak. Lucius lifted it off with his thumb and forefinger, then let go. A gust of wind sent the leaf floating through the gathering dusk, off towards the haystack. "Some Muggles," he continued in a vacant tone, "have a penchant for destruction, and they would burn the hay before using a Magnet."
In his mind's eye, Draco saw the haystack blackening as orange sparks danced in the twilight.
"Either way, Muggles are useless without their little tools," concluded Lucius. "A Muggle's worth is equal to the number of tools he possesses. A wizard's worth is his magic, and we don't need tools to have magic. Our potential is limitless."
"Aren't wands tools?" Draco thought out loud.
"Clever boy. But our wands merely help us use the magic within us to manipulate the magic without. They are a conduit; they can neither create magic nor destroy it. A witch or wizard can learn to control magic without using a wand. It just takes much longer than wizarding education standards allow." Lucius pointed a finger in the direction of the haystack. A cold blue fire erupted near its top, then died as suddenly as it had appeared.
"The Muggles think they have free will," said Lucius. He turned away from the field and gazed at the looming Manor. "When really, they are locked in a constant battle with the world around them. That battle is what dictates what they do. That battle is what drives them."
Draco had seen Muggles once or twice on the way to Diagon Alley. They hadn't appeared very warlike. "They seem quite peaceful."
"Of course they do. At this point in their history, Muggles prefer to tell themselves that they have conquered the world, and they will go to any lengths to convince themselves of it. They don't want to admit that they remain the same wild animals whose existence is wholly focussed on surviving in a hostile environment."
"But they can think, can't they?" Draco frowned.
"So can vampires. That doesn't make them human." Lucius turned back to Draco and gazed at him, vague amusement in his eyes. "Freedom is what makes us human, Draco. Wizards are the only beings who are truly free. No matter how sophisticated their machines become, Muggles are slaves to their animal nature, to their utter lack of potential."
Lucius stepped closer and put his arm round Draco's shoulders. He made a sweeping gesture with his other arm. "We are not like them. All this is ours for the taking." He sighed. "When you go to school next year, there will be people who will tell you I'm a dangerous fool for thinking as I do."
Draco's blood boiled at the thought of anyone calling his father a fool. "They're the fools," he said hotly.
Lucius smiled without taking his eyes off the horizon, and squeezed Draco's shoulder lightly. "I hope you remember that when you've grown, child. Now let us go. Your mother must be worried."
They walked along the same dusty path they took every evening, but Draco felt different this night, as though all his senses had heightened. The naked trees still clinging to their flimsy garments of autumn-coloured leaves seemed brighter, sharper. The damp earth's scent was overwhelmingly tart; Draco could almost taste it at the back of his mouth, salt and dead grass. Somewhere behind them, a lone cuckoo's call sounded almost intelligible: Who? Who? Who are you? Cuckoo! Draco imagined he could feel his magic course through is blood, gathering at his fingertips, yearning to burst forth in a storm of blue sparks. He was one of the chosen, of the truly free, of the powerful.
Draco turned to look at the haystack. It burned just as brightly as he'd imagined it would. A thin smile skittered across his father's lips as he followed Draco's gaze. "There is nothing wrong with having a penchant for destruction when you mustn't suffer any consequences for it."
Draco was ten years old.
An icy northern wind was tearing itself a path through blackened, gnarly branches. They rattled in protest: hurts, hurts, hurts. These trees had never seen the sun, grown leaves or heard birds hail spring's coming. They only knew the wind and the permanent cloud cover over this forsaken ground, this nameless island and its silent fortress.
Hazy clumps of fog drifted across the black sky, like curdled milk in tea. Near the battlements, the fog was so thick that the towers above were invisible. It was rumoured that the prisoners were sent to those cells for misbehaviour: anyone would think twice about breaking rules after spending two weeks surrounded by nothing but the fog's dead silence. The fog was almost a part of the island's permanent landscape: the only legacy left behind by generations of Dementors.
Greyish wisps of mist, the fog's illegitimate children, curled around the jagged stones lining the pathway to the massive iron prison gates. Here and there, defiant weeds pierced the spaces between the cobblestones underfoot.
Locked in a battle with the world around them.
At the unbidden thought of his father's words, Draco's steps faltered. He immediately received a sharp jab to the small of his back, from the wand of his mute escort. Draco resumed his ascent to the gates, but he could no longer take in the surroundings. His father had died behind those cold walls. Would Draco share his fate? Was the Malfoy line destined to end here, with nothing but the wind to lament their passing?
The gates swung open to admit Draco, and he found himself standing alone in a small courtyard, next to the statue of a horse. Poisonous-looking green slime covered the beast's eyes and mane.
"NAME," boomed a voice from the statue's mouth.
Draco looked around wildly, but he was alone. His sentry must have gone back to his ferry boat. "Draco Malfoy," he said, lifting his head.
There was an indistinct noise, like the shuffling of feet, and then a door materialised in the wall on Draco's right, just like the Hogwarts Room of Requirement. Would that he were at Hogwarts...
The door opened. "YOU HAVE THIRTY SECONDS. ONE STEP IN ANOTHER DIRECTION WILL BE CONSIDERED AN ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE," said the horse statue.
"So what?" asked Draco with a sceptical twist of his mouth. "What'll happen to me if I attempt to escape?"
It might've been Draco's imagination, but it seemed like the horse's eyes glowed red for a brief moment. He walked towards the door with deliberate slowness, even though he wanted to run through it and close it tightly. He would not lose face, no matter what happened. Not here, not in the place that had murdered his father. Draco's steps echoed dully all around him: the howling of the wind was completely inaudible here, as though the fortress's outer wall were an impenetrable barrier against the world outside.
"My God, man, have you got a death wish?" were the first unmistakably human words Draco had heard since his arrival on the island.
The voice that spoke the words belonged to a handsome wizard who looked to be about Draco's age, perhaps a little older. He wore dark grey robes just like the ones they'd given Draco just after they'd taken his wand. However, Draco's robes did not have "guard" stitched white onto the left breast.
"Is that a standard greeting for all prisoners?" asked Draco, when he realised that the man was staring at him expectantly. He looked vaguely familiar, but Draco couldn't place him. Come to think of it, they might have gone to Hogwarts together.
The guard raised an eyebrow. "I'm just surprised they didn't tell you not to engage the Old Guard in conversation. He's quite old and rather cross most of the time."
"The Old Guard?"
"The horse statue. It's one of the few enchantments from before the Dementors' time that the Ministry wonks have been able to restore. I think they did a rather poor job of it, since the statue often fancies itself alive."
Draco glanced back at the horse statue, but the door had shut in the meantime. He looked around and saw nothing but a black stone corridor stretching out into infinity, lined infrequently with wall torches. He wondered what other unpleasant surprises awaited him in this new Azkaban. He'd only encountered Dementors a few times before -- back during his third year at Hogwarts, if memory served, and he was glad he wouldn't have to deal with them again. He didn't know what had become of Azkaban's Dementors after the war, and he did not particularly care.
"Is this it, then?" he asked, turning to the guard. "Is this my, ah, cell?"
"Bit eager, aren't you, Malfoy?" retorted the guard with a smile just this side of nasty.
Draco sneered. "The sooner I begin my incarceration, the sooner it'll end."
"How much'd they give you?" The guard pulled a small bit of parchment from his pocket and studied it. "Ah. One year... cell block H8... no parole... A whole year with no parole for mere attempted murder? The Wizengamot must've been in a collective strop that day."
"You have no idea," muttered Draco. He'd already decided he didn't like this self-important little man who obviously fancied himself an expert on criminal justice, and probably considered all of his opinions of utmost relevance. However, there was no need to antagonise the hired help. Dementors could not be reasoned with; other wizards could be.
"I see you're a talkative chap," said the guard with a shrug. "Very well, then. As you might know, your paperwork was processed in London, so all I must do is show you to your cell. Be advised that you must follow me and walk straight; a step in another direction--"
"--will be considered an attempt to escape," Draco finished for him. "I've already been through that with the crotchety horse, thanks."
The man's dark eyes flashed briefly. "You don't think you're guilty at all, do you?"
Oh great. This bloke probably fancied himself a philosopher, too.
"It hardly matters what I think," said Draco.
The guard laughed. "I like you," he said. "You've got spirit."
Draco regarded him for a moment. "I like you too," he said evenly. "You've got grey robes."
A puzzled frown marred the guard's features, and Draco suddenly remembered where he knew him from. The Yule Ball, dancing with that hideous, jumped-up half-breed, Fleur Delacour. Davies, that was his name. Roger Davies. In the few years since school, his sharp features had become oddly washed out. Perhaps that was part and parcel of living in Azkaban, thought Draco with an internal shudder.
"Welcome to Azkaban," said Davies finally. "This fine establishment is in the business of breaking your spirit since the dawn of time." With that, he set off down the corridor, leaving Draco no choice but to follow along.
They passed a multitude of doors with heavy iron bars on them. Draco didn't chance peeking inside, but he thought he could see faint light inside some of the cells. He wondered how many prisoners there were, and how many guards. He then wondered why he cared. It wasn't as though he were going to stage a daring escape.
After more doors, uncountable twisty little passages, and several stairwells, Davies stopped and tapped his wand against a door, which opened with a reluctant groan. "Your quarters," Davies said, his tone slightly mocking. Draco walked inside and didn't turn around until the door creaked shut.
The cell was about the size of the house-elves' pen at the Manor, and it was dirty enough to put Snape's Muggle hovel to shame. The air was stale with a queer mixture of old sweat, mould, and something metallic, almost like blood. Was that what desperation smelled like? Draco suddenly realised that he was going to spend the next three hundred and sixty-five days locked up in this miserable little room, and his stomach felt queasy. There were no windows here; the only light came from the corridor beyond the door and from a small opening near the ceiling, much too high to reach without a stool.
Draco looked around for one and saw nothing resembling a chair save for a bucket in the far corner. He approached it and its vile smell told him that it would be inadvisable to overturn it unless he wanted human waste on the floor. The bed -- if one could call it that -- did not even have legs; it was a bracket hanging from a wall.
"You've just missed supper," said Davies's voice from outside, and Draco jumped with surprise. "So you'll have to go without until breakfast, I'm afraid."
Draco made no reply as he lowered himself to the bed. It was almost painfully cold, as though made of stone. Draco touched a fingertip to it and realised that it was made of stone.
"Sodding fuck," he said under his breath. He'd been aware that conditions at Azkaban were austere; he just hadn't realised how austere. Draco's chest flared with a renewed burst of hatred for the man who had put him here.
The grey prisoner's robes were too heavy, but Draco did his best to ignore his discomfort. He'd almost succeeded. A few more minutes, and he would be a free man, and then he could wear anything he wanted. Or nothing at all.
Griselda Marchbanks wore a stern grimace as she approached Draco's chair. The other members of the Wizengamot looked on, faces impassive, but there were some murmurs from the small audience. The Death Eater trials were open to the public, and some people had taken advantage of the opportunity. Draco wished they hadn't, but one could not have everything.
Marchbanks cleared her throat. "Mr Malfoy, you have, indeed, demonstrated that your actions during the latter years of the war had been necessary to maintain your cover as a spy for the Ministry of Magic. However, there are three counts of attempted murder that you have yet to answer for. I am talking about Katherine Bell, Ronald Weasley, and Albus Dumbledore."
Draco had been waiting for this moment since the trial had begun six hours ago. "I'm afraid I cannot recall those events with any degree of clarity. I was acting under the effects of the Imperius Curse when I--"
Draco looked up, surprised. He knew that voice, that face, that indignant expression, those flashing eyes. How would Potter know he was lying?
"I had thought these trials were conducted by the Wizengamot," said Draco coldly, "and not by members of the general public." Next to Potter, his girlfriend was pulling on his sleeve, looking horrified. For the first time in his life, Draco agreed on something with a Weasley.
"He's lying," insisted Potter, seemingly oblivious of the disapproving looks he was receiving from the Wizengamot. "I was there that night. He lowered his wand and allowed Dumbledore to reason with him. He wouldn't have done that under Imperius."
Since Potter had found out about Draco's spying for the Ministry, the two of them had formed a reluctant, grudging almost-friendship. Draco never knew what to call it, but it hadn't been their old rivalry, their old mutual hatred. Now, he felt as though the very thin thread that connected them had snapped with nary a sound. Draco said nothing, and Potter sat back down, his look of indignation replaced with that of superiority.
As the Wizengamot members separated themselves from the audience by an Imperturbable Charm, to discuss the verdict, Draco felt quite the fool: how could he not have seen it? It hadn't been anything like friendship. Potter was prepared to tolerate anyone who wasn't against him. Draco was not -- would never be -- important enough for Potter to compromise his precious values. They would never be friends or anything close to friends.
That Draco had been stupid enough to think he could count on Potter to keep his mouth shut had been a terrible oversight. Having an understanding and assuming you had an understanding were very different things. Draco had been so very lonely during the war; it had been so easy to believe that he'd found a friend in Potter, no matter how tenuous the friendship. In reality, he'd been a weapon, nothing more.
They sentenced Draco to a year in Azkaban for three murder attempts. His crime of perjury meant the loss of his right to parole, and even that had been a concession made at the insistence of Dolores Umbridge. Had it not been for her intervention, Draco would have been facing three years with a chance at parole after one and a half.
During his last night in the temporary holding cell, Draco lay awake and replayed scenes from the war slowly in his mind. Potter almost breaking his jaw... the disbelief in Potter's eyes when the Minister revealed that Draco had been working for him... the first smile Potter cracked at one of Draco's remarks in the Minister's direction... the first night the two of them had shared a bottle of Firewhisky and Potter had nearly splinched himself...
All of those memories had meant something to Draco -- a change for the better, a chance for a future as part of the winning side, but all of those hopes had been quashed when Potter had stood up in the Wizengamot. Draco had no doubt that had Granger or Weasley been in Draco's place, Potter would have sat quietly and not said a word. Potter's friends mattered. Draco didn't.
The only reason he would be going to prison tomorrow was that he didn't matter to Harry Potter. The thought filled Draco with a quiet, desperate rage that slowly gave way to an overwhelming desire for revenge. As Draco drifted off to sleep, he felt ready to face even a million years in Azkaban as long as it meant that at the end of it all, he would make Potter pay.
Draco awoke to cold stinging his cheeks. His tears of frustration and anger had made their way from his dream into reality. The dream was quickly forgotten, however, as he inhaled the unmistakable smell of fried eggs. A hot breakfast, in this cursed place? Was this possible? Draco's entire body ached from a night spent atop the stone bracket -- he couldn't even call it a bed. Still, the pain dulled in comparison to the fierce hatred that burned inside him with renewed force. Draco hoped to relive his trial every single night from this day forward. It would keep it fresh in his memory and remind him what waited at the end of his sentence.
The iron bars on the small round opening in the door vanished and a dish floated towards Draco. He grabbed it with both hands, mouth watering with anticipation. However, the metal dish held no fried eggs: there were two misshapen lumps -- one was bread so hard that it would crack even Potter's skull, and the other was cheese that smelled like Goyle's socks.
"What's this supposed to mean?" Draco wondered out loud.
"It's breakfast," said Davies's voice from the other side of the door. "What were you expecting, toast and kippers?"
"No, I was expecting fried eggs," said Draco. "Since that's what I smelled."
"Bugger your mainland sense of smell," said Davies almost good-naturedly. "I forget how sharp new prisoners' senses are. We don't get new people often since the main Death Eater trials, you know."
Draco set the dish onto the bracket and rose to his feet. He approached the door and noticed that the iron bars were still missing from the opening. "So," he began carefully, "is there any special reason I smell fried eggs when my breakfast consists of rock and mould?"
Davies's eyes were almost black in the scant torchlight outside. He locked his gaze onto Draco's and smiled -- the expression gave him a boyish softness; he looked almost shy. "Yes," he said. "There is a very special reason for that." His eyes did not leave Draco's as he spoke. "Would you like to know what it is?"
Draco was so close to the door now that he saw tiny reflections of himself in Davies's eyes. He thought he looked confused. He also felt an unnamed fear lurking at the edges of his mind, and the cell suddenly seemed too hot despite the chills in Draco's back.
"Of course I'd like to know what it is," he heard himself say. "Why else would I have asked?" A part of his mind was shouting that he really did not want to know, but it was too late to take it back.
"I'm the resident guard for this cell block," said Davies, a slow smile spreading across his face. "I get no time off except at Christmas, and that's only two days. It can get as lonely as it does for you lot."
Draco blinked at him. Davies was lonely? "Lonely." He hadn't realised he's said that out loud until Davies chuckled.
"Very lonely, if you know what I mean." Davies's voice was lower now, almost a growl.
Oh. "That's sick."
"Not as sick as you'll get eating standard prison fare," said Davies, his voice back to normal. "You let me know if you decide it isn't sick any more. I prefer things... consensual."
The iron bars reappeared and Draco was left alone to stare into the darkness beyond the door and listen to Davies's retreating footsteps.
Six months passed quicker than Draco would have thought they would.
When he had first come to Azkaban, he'd been determined to maintain his dignity. Taking it up the arse in a dignified fashion, however, was easier said than done. On the other hand, his cell no longer resembled Snape's house or even the house-elves' pen at Malfoy Manor. It was a well-lit, cosy room with a small shelf of books and a tray of fruit on a bedside cabinet. Every item had cost Draco something -- a blow job, a hand job, a fuck. Davies liked to call it "rogering" and he laughed with gusto every time he said it.
At first, Draco had hated Davies, almost as much as he hated Potter. Over time, though, Draco admitted to himself that Davies had not forced him to do anything. His touches were never rough, and he'd made Draco come more often than not -- whatever this was, it wasn't rape. Draco had gone three days eating the stale bread and cheese when he'd finally called Davies's name and agreed to a fuck for a decent supper.
If he'd wanted to leave the prison with his dignity intact, all he'd had to do would have been to keep eating what he'd been given. Such heroics, however, were for Gryffindors. Draco was far too accustomed to comfort to deny it to himself when he had a way of obtaining it. True enough, this made him a whore. Draco picked a bright satsuma off the fruit tray and began to peel it. He'd rather be a whore for a year than die of malnourishment or hypothermia.
The second thing he'd asked for had been a self-cleaning latrine bucket. Then came the pillows, a down-filled mattress, the duvets, the bedside cabinet filled with fresh undergarments, the spare robes, the ability to shower daily... Soon enough, Davies was showing up at Draco's cell door every night. Draco got used to the way he smelled, to the way he moved. They even shared a few in-jokes between them, but Davies never let Draco forget that he was in control.
Until the day Draco allowed a moan to escape him as Davies sucked him off. Davies stopped moving and looked up at Draco with something like reverence, and then renewed his efforts with great fervour. Draco's mind was torn between "cock getting sucked" and "possible new information about cocksucking guard who needs to be punished". He experimented with moaning a few more times, and the next night, as Davies bent him over the mattress and began to lube him up, Draco breathed, "hurry up and fuck me."
Davies's fingers paused. "Are you in a rush?"
"Fucking right I am," continued Draco in the same breathy voice. "I want to feel your cock inside me, Davies. I want you to fuck me..." He felt completely ridiculous saying this, but he knew he'd hit the mother lode. Davies had been uncharacteristically silent afterwards, and he actually looked like he was about to kiss Draco before he left. Thankfully, he didn't, or Draco might've thrown up the entirety of his hard-earned supper.
The more Draco faked interest in Davies's advances, the more docile Davies grew. Draco couldn't figure it out -- how could Davies not see through him? Surely other prisoners had tried that, surely someone else would have noticed that Davies was merely attention-starved? Surely Davies realised that he was merely attention-starved? He was a pure-blood wizard, one of the powerful, one of the chosen. He wasn't supposed to lack self-awareness so badly.
Soon enough, Davies wasn't even keeping track of what they did, whereas before he'd keep strict accounts of every "exchange of favours", as he liked to call them. He would show up in Draco's cell and look hopeful, and it was as though Draco were the one in control. When Draco once risked saying that he wasn't in the mood, Davies looked worried and asked if Draco needed anything.
Draco had never known that sex could give so much power.
Draco's prison term was ending. It was the thought he woke with every morning and went to sleep with every night. Davies had given him a calendar, and Draco used green ink to circle every finished day. Three weeks. In three weeks, he would be free.
The cell door swung open noiselessly -- Davies had oiled the hinges ages ago -- and Davies tiptoed inside. Draco didn't even turn to look at him.
"So, I was thinking," said Davies, taking a seat in the chair by the bed. "Your term is almost up."
"What a coincidence," replied Draco, flopping onto his back. "I was just thinking the same thing."
"Are you happy that you're leaving?"
"Of course I'm happy I'm leaving. You know how much I love my mother, and she can't visit me here."
"You know I would have arranged that for you if I could." Davies's tone was defensive.
"Yes, yes," said Draco, waving an impatient hand. "We all have limits. Don't beat yourself up about it. The first thing I'm going to do when I get back is take my mother to the Seychelles," he said, suddenly wistful. "We'll walk along the beach and gather those tiny red stones and make necklaces out of them."
"Sounds like fun," said Davies. "I've never been anywhere outside the British Isles. Fleur told me a lot about France but I suppose that's not the same thing."
"No, it isn't," said Draco, "but France is overrated, trust me." Davies gave a short laugh. It sounded fake. Draco turned to him and raised an eyebrow. "What's with you?"
"Well, I just wonder what will -- I mean, you know -- you and me -- we were -- and now -- I don't know what's--"
At this point, Draco's internal danger indicator was going off the scale. He'd been hoping to avoid this conversation, seeing as they were both men and weren't supposed to have such conversations in the first place, but it sounded like Davies was about to launch into a confession, and that would not end well for Draco, no it would not.
He cast about for a way to stall Davies. Sex was out of the question, as it would only make Davies more determined...
Davies took a deep breath and fixed Draco with a penetrating gaze. "I'd like to see you again after you're free," he said firmly. "Only if you want to, of course."
That last sounded like an afterthought, a nicety added only to make sure all the bases had been covered. He didn't sound like he would for a second believe that Draco didn't want to see him again.
The last thing Draco wanted to do was antagonise Davies, but he also did not want to give the man any false hopes for the future. He didn't want him showing up at Malfoy Manor and calling himself Draco's boyfriend or something equally terrifying. He had a reasonably good idea that telling Davies he'd been played would antagonise him, to say the least. Draco had to be quick, and so improvisation it was.
"It's not that I don't want to," said Draco slowly. "I just... you work here and--"
"I could quit this job. I'll find something else. I'll do anything..."
"No, no, it's not that," said Draco. Buggering fuck, this bloke was starting to feel like a thorn in his side. "It's just that, you know how much I love my mother. She would die of shame if she found out I was, you know, gay." Davies's eyes flashed, but Draco held up his hand, silencing him. "She'd die of shame even faster if she found out I was having relations with a... a jailer."
He knew he'd made a wrong move as soon as Davies spoke again. "And what," he asked, getting up and approaching Draco, "is so wrong with being a jailer?"
"Nothing," said Draco, watching Davies's hand slowly disappearing in his wand pocket. "As far as I'm concerned. My mother, however--"
"If you cared about me at all, you wouldn't listen to your stupid bigoted mother," spat Davies. There was madness in his eyes, and for the first time in months, Draco felt scared. However, Davies had made the mistake of insulting Draco's mother, and that made fear for his life secondary.
"Don't you dare speak of her that way," Draco said through clenched teeth. "If you cared about me at all, you would know not to insult my mother in front of me," he added, inspired.
"Don't you dare, he says," wheezed Davies. "Don't you dare? Since when do you tell me what to do, prisoner eight hundred sixty seven?"
Draco's stomach flipped, but he realised that no matter what happened, Davies couldn't seriously harm him. He'd told Draco once that the Azkaban guards' wands were only capable of a limited number of spells. The Ministry had decreed it to avoid lawless behaviour from the guards, after a prisoner died under torture. It had been the first instance of a violent Azkaban death since the prison's inception.
The most Davies could do was Stun him. So Draco decided to milk the occasion for all it was worth. "Oh, I see how it is," he said, getting off the bed. "When I say something you don't like, I'm prisoner eight hundred sixty seven. How charming."
"God, you're shameless," Davies gritted out. "I gave you everything. I made you. You would've died after two weeks if it hadn't been for me."
Draco's rage was so sudden and blinding that he barely managed to contain it. "You know what? Fuck you," he said in a carefully measured tone. "Take it all. I've got three weeks left. If you're right, I'll die within two, and then you'll be vindicated. But get the fuck out of my sight."
"Really," said Davies, and a cruel smirk twisted his mouth. "I think I've got a better idea. I think a fog cell will give you some perspective on what you're giving up. If I'm not mistaken, they're a bit of a family legacy..."
The first few hours weren't too bad. Draco was still full and he was able to keep out most of the chill by huddling into himself in a corner underneath the window. As the cold's icy fingers crept over his limbs, he shut his eyes and tried to sleep. The only thing that warmed him was the thought that he would never be as short-sighted and stupid as Roger Davies, who really thought he was punishing Draco.
It wasn't pleasant, mind, but Draco knew that in a few weeks, a Ministry official would be here to escort him back to the mainland and away from Davies. Away from the fog. Draco opened his eyes and stared. The fog cells were all in the towers, so the rooms were circular. Unlike the regular cells, this one had windows -- tall and wide, stretching across most of the walls. There were no iron bars; the windows were made of something hard and probably unbreakable -- Draco rapped his knuckles on one but did not hear the telltale ringing of glass, just dull thudding as though he were knocking on wood.
The worst thing about the windows was that they were transparent. If Draco let his mind drift for a moment, he immediately began to feel as though he were floating in a vat of fog at the height of two hundred feet. The illusion was pervasive even though he could feel the solid floor beneath him. The only way to avoid it was to avoid looking at the fog, but there was nowhere else to look -- except down at the floor, but Draco did not wish to spend his time here with his head bowed. This place, or one like it, had killed his father.
Unlike Draco, Lucius Malfoy had not had the luxury of knowing that he would be free soon. Knowledge really was power in that regard; after two weeks in the fog cell, Draco was certain that he would have gone as mad as his father had he not expected to be free within mere days. The fog seemed to reach even through the impenetrable windows, its long arms reaching for Draco's neck, wanting to choke him.
Draco barely knew if it was morning or evening; the fog seemed to stop changing from white to black after several days -- it became a grey threat that was everywhere at once, and Draco's dreams were all about running through the fog. He was always running south, but the fog never ended. His father had died here, alone and desperate. No matter how crafty the fog got, Draco would not bow to it, would not share his father's fate.
The day's rations appeared in the middle of the room at random times. Draco couldn't eat any of it. He'd read somewhere that food was not as essential as drink, and so he gulped down the water before the dishes disappeared, but he did not touch the food. In two weeks, Draco lost so much weight that he was no longer worried that he wouldn't look like someone recently released from Azkaban -- Davies had kept him too well-fed.
It gave Draco a chance to reflect on what he'd done -- turned himself into a whore for a few creature comforts and a constant supply of persimmons. That was a secret he would carry to his grave. His father had once told him that desperate times called for desperate measures, and Davies had been right, hadn't he? Had it not been for him, Draco would have died within a few weeks. Curiously, Draco felt no ill will towards Davies. He didn't understand why -- after all, Davies was responsible for putting him up here with the fog and the nightmares and the corpse of his father.
Then it hit Draco, and he laughed. Davies had been a mere tool, and Draco regarded him as such. He had been a means to an end, nothing more. It was beneath Draco to feel resentful of the things he used to accomplish his goals. Ironically, he finally understood what Potter must've been thinking at Draco's trial. Draco, too, had been a mere weapon. Draco's old hatred and rage, which had slumbered deep inside his veins all this time, roared to life. All of this was Potter's fault, and Potter would pay.
Draco shut his eyes and tried to remember what Potter looked like. He couldn't quite remember distinctive features, just bright green eyes behind round spectacles and a firmly set mouth. Wide shoulders, narrow hips and that hideous scar. Draco's mind supplied an image of Potter naked, pressed against Draco and panting. A shiver of delight ran through him -- delight of a kind he hadn't known with Davies.
The fog whispered in his ear, of the future and revenge and having Potter to himself, to do with as he pleased. Draco saw himself slipping Potter a slow poison and then letting Potter fuck him. He thought he'd have liked nothing better than for Potter to die with his cock buried in Draco's arse, so Draco could feel his death from the inside. There were voices in the fog: mournful voices, jubilant voices. They sang to Draco and told him that he would have his revenge.
Draco awoke to childlike whimpering. At first he thought he'd finally gone round the twist and was hearing voices in the fog all the time now, but then he realised that he really was not alone in the cell. Davies was kneeling on the floor next to Draco, who was huddled into himself and probably looked quite dead, come to think of it. He was surprised he wasn't dead yet, frankly.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," sobbed Davies. "It's all my fault. Now you'll never take your mother to the Seychelles..."
Draco blinked at him. "I'm not dead," he said, but Davies didn't appear to hear.
The cell door opened, and Dolores Umbridge walked in, dressed in deep burgundy robes and a dark pink pelerine, whose ends hung off her shoulders like the innards of dead animals. Davies got up from the floor immediately, looking mortified.
"You look lovely," commented Draco. She didn't really, but women liked hearing that sort of thing. He struggled up to his feet, which was easier thought than done: his legs refused to straighten, and he had to hold on to the wall whilst he regained his balance. Davies was looking at him wide-eyed, but Draco did his best to ignore him. Dolores had come to get him herself?
"Thank you, Draco. I trust you're ready to make the trip?"
"Certainly, but I have to wonder -- to what do I owe the honour of having such an important escort?" He wasn't sure if he was being entirely facetious: he and Dolores had worked together quite closely during the war, but it had been a long time since the war.
Dolores smiled. "I see that your time in this horrible place hasn't made you lose your manners. How delightful. Your mother will be best pleased."
Draco's heart beat a fraction faster. His mother. He'd see her in less than an hour! "How is she?" he asked.
"Later," said Dolores, her smile still wide. "Are you ready to go?"
Draco looked around. There was nothing of his here, nothing but old nightmares and the fog. "I don't think I've ever been more ready for anything."
As Draco walked past Davies, he thought he heard, "please don't forget me", but it might have been the fog's final farewell.
The walk to the ferry boat seemed to take longer than Draco remembered, but he didn't mind. He was free, his feet on the ground instead of the floor of a grimy cell. The morning air was so very fresh that Draco didn't even notice how cold it was. He couldn't wait to get out of the prison-issue robes and into his own clothes. He couldn't wait to walk in the garden with his mother. He couldn't wait to find out what had been going on in the world -- Davies had refused him the Daily Prophet no matter how much Draco had cajoled him. That was in the past now.
"That guard is a strange one, isn't he?" Dolores remarked, sidestepping a curious lizard-like creature that peeked out from around a stone to look at the passing humans.
"You have no idea," muttered Draco. He kicked at a protruding cobblestone and sent the lizard scampering into a clump of bushes. They were near the fog's boundary now, and Draco wondered if he would see the sun this day.
"I heard a rather disturbing rumour about one of the former inmates in his care," said Dolores. Her tone was still casual, but Draco smelled danger.
"What rumour was that?" he asked with carefully orchestrated polite interest.
"Really quite unthinkable things, I assure you. I'm still trying to push the Minister into breeding and training a batch of Dementors to send back to the prison. Public opinion is highly against it, but public opinion these days is against anything not openly endorsed by the Potter boy."
"Don't tell me that pitiful excuse for a wizard is trying to meddle in politics now," spat Draco, genuinely incensed.
"Oh, no, he's not trying anything, bless him. But his Mudblood friend, that Granger woman, she's been a right bother. It's quite blatant, how she uses him to gain political clout."
They passed the fog barrier, but there was no sun to greet Draco. A lone boat wavered next to a break in the sharp stones that formed the island's shoreline. The horizon was a black line between green-grey sea and blue-grey sky. Somewhere very far away, a lone white beacon shone through the clouds.
"What would Granger be doing in politics?" asked Draco. "Last I heard, she was marrying one of the Weasleys."
"Oh, she married Ron Weasley, but you mustn't forget she's a Mudblood. It's not that she doesn't know how things work. She thinks the natural order of things is wrong, and she seeks to change it."
Draco's mouth twitched. "I suppose she hasn't yet understood that's what starts wars in our world, when Mudbloods like her come round and try to change things."
Dolores sighed. "I'm afraid another war is almost a certainty at this point. There are a lot of unhappy people, mostly from the old families. Also -- and this might surprise you -- there's a rather vocal contingent of Mudbloods who are unhappy with Granger's agenda. They like the wizarding world as it is, you see."
"I suppose not all of them are interminably stupid," said Draco. "But why are you telling me all this? It's not as though I've got any political influence at the moment."
"Au contraire, my young friend. A lot of people viewed Potter's actions at your trial as reprehensible and ungrateful."
Draco almost tripped over his own feet. "Really?"
"Absolutely. You should have seen the Daily Prophet around the time you were first sent away. There were angry debates about whether Potter had acted on a mere schoolboy grudge or if he had sacrificed friendship in the name of justice. Or some rubbish like that, you know how lofty the Prophet can get."
"Interesting," said Draco, even as bile choked him at the thought of his trial. He felt an odd disconnect from reality for a moment: things back home would certainly not be as he'd expected them to be. Even though he was still on the island, Azkaban was rapidly turning into a memory.
"Yes, very interesting. So you are in the unique position to destroy at least some of the influence Potter has on the minds of the voting public." Dolores waved her wand at the invisible wards that guarded the dock. Those wards had been there since Sirius Black's daring escape from Azkaban. Everywhere Potter and his friends went, they brought change and chaos.
Draco squinted at the mute ferryman, who didn't appear to recognise him. He turned to Dolores. "Was that why you asked me about Davies?"
"Your father always said you were a clever boy, Draco."
Draco wished she wouldn't talk about his father. His father would have been so ashamed if he'd known that his son was a gaoler's whore. "What is it that Davies has done, Dolores?"
"Are you denying that he--?"
Draco shook his head impatiently. "I'm asking you a question. I'll decide whether I should confirm or deny things once I have more information." He reached into the arsenal of tricks he'd learned to use on Davies and found his most disarming smile.
Dolores was shaking her head. "I don't think your father gave you enough credit."
No, Dolores, my father gave me too much credit. I'm nothing but a whore, and I don't deserve to bear his name. But I'll be damned if anyone but me will ever know it.
The first thing Narcissa did upon Draco's entrance to the downstairs drawing room was smile. It was the sort of smile that Draco didn't get to see often -- a wide, genuine, bright smile, with no enigma lurking behind her blue eyes.
And then she laughed.
And then she began to cry.
And then Draco knew something was wrong.
She hid her face in her hands and sobbed. Draco forgot that he'd meant to change into more fitting clothes before giving his mother a hug, he practically ran towards her and fell to his knees next to her chair. Narcissa cried ever harder, her shoulders shaking, and Draco recoiled as he realised that she reeked of alcohol.
His mother never drank. Draco glanced at the glass-panelled cabinet that held his father's collection of spirits from his many travels. Most of the bottles stood empty. When Draco had left for his trial, they had all been full. It had been part of the room's charm -- the candlelight would glint off colourful liquids, casting shadows in shades of amber and burgundy and green. Now, the candles burned a surgical white, and his mother's broken sobs were a dirge for the past.
Draco put his head in his mother's lap like he'd done so many times as a child, and realised that nothing would ever be the same again.
No wonder Dolores had been evasive on the subject of his mother. No wonder she'd steered the conversation to politics as soon as she could. She'd known. She'd known, and she hadn't bothered to tell him. Then again, Draco couldn't blame her, really. There was no gentle way of saying something like this, no careful platitude to conceal the gravity of it.
For this, too, Potter would pay.
"I'm so sorry," whimpered Narcissa. "I'm so sorry."
Draco hugged her legs wordlessly and shut his eyes. "It's not your fault," he told her, teeth clenched.
"They killed Severus, you know," said Narcissa, her voice breaking. "They executed him a week after you were gone."
So much for the trip to the Seychelles, then.
continued in part 2