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.
Draco's imprisonment had ended in late September. By early November, he was ready to leave Malfoy Manor and face the world.
During those weeks, Dolores had been a frequent visitor, ever ready to discuss plans for undermining Granger's influence. Three weeks after Draco's release, she'd finally admitted that she had no idea what Davies had done to the prisoner she'd mentioned. She just knew that he'd done something, but the prisoner's memory had been modified, and even the best experts from St Mungo's hadn't been able to restore the missing pieces. Draco told her nothing. There had been several interview requests from reporters, but Draco refused to see anyone until he was ready. He didn't know what to tell them yet.
His mother was still drinking too much, but Draco could do nothing about it. She was his mother and she did as she pleased. If it pleased her to drink herself into a stupor by early afternoon, it was not Draco's place to try to dissuade her from it. It was not even his place to disapprove. Not after what he'd done, after what he'd turned himself into. Memories of Azkaban pervaded his nightmares, but it was never Davies he was giving himself to. Davies had been an insignificant little flea who had power when Draco had none. In Draco's dreams, it was Potter who fucked him, Potter who denied him everything unless Draco got on his knees for him.
With the help of Dolores, Draco gathered a massive library of media articles about Potter, even if they merely mentioned him in passing. Draco studied Potter's social network, his habits, his facial expressions, until he had a reasonably clear picture of the sort of life Potter led now that he only had to rest on his laurels. Every photograph from the time of Draco's imprisonment made Draco angry, especially if Potter was smiling. Here was Potter with his arm round his girlfriend. Here he was cutting a ribbon at the opening of the Tom M. Riddle wizarding orphanage. Draco wondered who the hell Tom M. Riddle was supposed to be. Some bleeding-heart Muggle-lover, no doubt. Here was Potter with the Snitch after the celebrity Quidditch tournament. Potter's eyes sparkled with mirth and Draco wanted that light gone, wanted it to fade away slowly into the dull glow of pain.
On the day Draco ended his self-imposed house arrest, the sun shone brightly over the treetops near Malfoy Manor. Draco took this as a good sign, and departed for Diagon Alley. He hadn't been here in more than a year, but nothing had changed. For that, at least, Draco was thankful. He stopped by Gringotts to check on the family's vaults -- it was a comfort that his mother's drinking habit hadn't affected the petty cash account yet. He bought an ice cream at Fortescue's and ate it on the shop's terrace, leaning against one of the railings and watching the world go by.
No one seemed to recognise him, which was just as well. Draco was here for a very specific reason, and he didn't want to be distracted. Every weekday, Potter had an afternoon drink at the Leaky Cauldron. As he drank, Potter did the Prophet's crossword puzzle, and then he walked to the Ministry and waited for his girlfriend to get off work. She worked as some sort of junior assistant to one of her brothers; Draco could never keep them straight.
If all went well, Potter's careful routine would be disrupted today.
At ten to three, Draco sat at the Leaky Cauldron's bar, next to Potter's usual seat, and watched the entrance from beneath his eyelashes. His drink remained untouched; he'd developed a distaste for alcohol in recent weeks. The barman placed a copy of the Daily Prophet next to Draco. Draco reached to pick it up, but the barman slapped a hand down on it with an apologetic look. "That's for Harry Potter, sir. He'll be here any minute. I can fetch you another copy, if you'd like."
"Oh, I just wanted to glance at the headlines," said Draco. "Don't trouble yourself."
"Sorry," said the barman. He lowered his voice a notch. "He does the crossword puzzle every day, and then leaves. You have no idea how much I get for those crossword puzzles."
Draco was appalled. "People pay you for them?"
The barman gave him an indifferent look. "He's the people's hero. Everyone wants to feel close to him."
"I don't," said Draco with a small shrug.
"Then you might want to get off that chair, because here he comes," said the barman, grinning. "He always sits in the chair next to yours."
Draco turned to look at the entrance and sure enough, there was Potter. Draco's breath caught. He'd imagined this meeting so many times since he'd departed for Azkaban, and now it was finally happening. Potter gave Draco a brief stranger's nod, sat down in the chair next to him, and pulled the newspaper towards himself.
Potter's proximity was doing disagreeable things to him, things he hadn't counted on. He wanted to close his hands around Potter's throat and squeeze until the last breath. He wanted to lick a slow, wet path along the thin cord of muscle in Potter's neck and sink his teeth in just beneath Potter's ear until they both screamed. He wanted...
"It's good to see you again, too," murmured Draco, forcing himself into the present.
Potter glanced over at him with mild irritation, which turned to confusion as soon as he saw Draco's face. "You."
There were lines in Potter's forehead that hadn't been there before. He looked tired, Draco realised with wonder. Tired and beaten and too old for his age. He had the look of a man who had nothing to lose and nothing to live for. Had someone got to him before Draco did? Impossible. Unthinkable.
"I see your powers of observation are superb as ever," said Draco.
Potter glanced down at his crossword puzzle and wrote CAPER in two across. "What do you want?"
Draco did his best not to flinch. He watched the tip of Potter's Self-Inking quill waver over a definition, then move slightly down. "What makes you think I want something?"
"You're here. You're talking to me. I know you, Malfoy."
"Do you, now? I suppose that erudite minds like yours don't put much stock by the novel idea that some people visit this place merely to have a drink, and not to gawk at your eminent self."
Potter put his quill down and faced Draco. "Are you trying to tell me that you just happened to be here? At this time? In that chair? Don't take me for an idiot, Malfoy. Everyone knows about my habits. Everyone."
"Except for people who spent the past year without access to the Daily Prophet," said Draco lightly. "Azkaban authorities forgot to renew the subscription for cell block H8, see."
"Oh, is that what this is about? My terrible betrayal of -- how did Skeeter put it? -- our budding friendship? Don't tell me you started that rumour, because I've promised to strangle the person who did. We were never friends."
"There was a time I thought we could have been," said Draco, keeping his voice even despite the fury that rose in him at Potter's mocking tone. "But no, I didn't start any rumours."
Potter's expression changed from hard hostility to something resembling alarm. "Did you seriously think we could be friends?"
Draco pursed his lips, pretended to think. "Not seriously."
"Good." Potter turned back to his crossword. "What's a six-letter word for disappointment?"
Potter snorted. "Good choice. I could fill a book with sentences involving it."
"Oh, Potter. That's so touching. Pardon me whilst I fetch a hankie."
"No, you fuck off. I was here first."
Potter snorted again. "Never change, do you? I'd have thought Azkaban would've taught you a thing or two."
You have no idea what Azkaban has taught me, you pitiful little man. Draco sneered. "I'm happy to disappoint you."
Potter wrote FROTHING, looked over at Draco. "What the fuck do you want from me?"
"Nothing, Potter. Believe it or not, I really did just happen to be having a drink. I assure you that if I'd known you'd be here, I would never have come. Why would I want to see you?"
Potter looked sceptical. "I was hoping you'd know."
"I'm afraid you give yourself far too much credit. All the fame's gone to your head finally, I expect."
"That's not true," said Potter hotly, and Draco knew he'd struck a nerve. "Everyone says that, but you're all wrong." Potter's glasses made his eyes seem smaller and the feverish light in them made Potter look positively mean. Draco was reminded of the pigs he'd hated as a child -- they'd had the same evil little glint in their tiny eyes. He shuddered.
"You don't have to have a tantrum or anything," he said quickly. "I was just trying to get a rise out of you."
Potter returned to his crossword, muttering, "As always." He wrote PRECISE into six down, then struck it through. The letters vanished. "Since you're here, you might as well make yourself useful."
"Oooh, I'm at the edge of my seat. How may Draco serve the great Harry Potter?" said Draco in a high-pitched tone, mimicking a house-elf.
"I have this friend," said Potter, ignoring Draco's jibe. "He's got a problem and he's run out of ideas to solve it legally." I have a problem and I've run out of ideas to solve it legally.
"He should solve it illegally, then," said Draco.
He was experiencing something like déja vu: this was exactly the sort of conversation the two of them used to have during the war, when Draco had been a spy. They'd needle each other endlessly but still end up talking. That Potter fell into the habit so easily, despite everything that had happened, filled Draco with quiet rage, but Draco had learned to control his rage in Azkaban. Oh, yes, he had.
Potter rolled his eyes. "Very funny. He's been going out with this girl, see. And he's just found out she's two months pregnant." I've just found out Ginny Weasley is two months pregnant.
"Is it his child?"
"Yes." No hesitation.
Draco frowned. "What seems to be the problem?" It made him murderously angry that Potter would produce an heir before he did. The thought that Draco was no longer particularly interested in an heir made him positively livid, but there it was. He hadn't thought about having sex with a woman for months, and now he suddenly discovered that the very idea made him feel queasy. He'd rather spend eternity sucking Potter's cock, come to think of it.
"The problem is that my friend doesn't want the child." The problem is that I don't want the child.
"Why on earth wouldn't he?"
"That's none of my business." That's none of your business.
"There are potions that'll induce a miscarriage," said Draco. He'd made one such potion for Pansy more than once. For a Parkinson, she'd been surprisingly fertile even at fifteen. Of course, in their case, Pansy had practically begged Draco to make it; she'd never been good at Potions.
Potter looked horror-struck. "That would be awful."
Draco shrugged. "Sometimes the price you have to pay for freedom is not a pretty one."
"How profound. Did they teach you that in Azkaban whilst you took it up the arse?"
Draco's entire world seemed to freeze and spin out of orbit. "What the fuck are you talking about?"
Potter smirked. "Aren't we sensitive. I was only joking."
"Ah, yes. I've forgotten all about your appreciation of base humour. But I suppose, if the shoe fits..." Draco trailed off, and then hopped off the chair. He was dangerously close to breaking point, and he needed to get out of there before he murdered Potter with his bare hands. "Well, it's been fascinating as usual, but I'm afraid I have to go back to a lifetime of ignoring you."
"You haven't changed at all, Malfoy."
"Neither have you. Potter."
They stared at each other, and then a shrill voice pierced the air. "Hey, isn't that Draco Malfoy over there? With Harry Potter?"
Draco turned to find the source of the voice. A camera flash blinded him.
CAN BROKEN BRIDGES BE MENDED?
By Rita Skeeter, Staff Reporter
Visitors to the Leaky Cauldron are accustomed to national hero Harry Potter spending his afternoons there. He turns up around three every day and does The Daily Prophet's crossword puzzle. Occasionally, he will sign autographs or chat with other customers until around five o'clock, when he leaves to meet his girlfriend -- and, some say, future wife -- at the Ministry of Magic.
Yesterday afternoon, however, the routine changed, because former Death Eater and ex-Azkaban convict Draco Malfoy happened to be at the Leaky Cauldron. Readers will remember that it was Potter who put Malfoy behind bars during the dramatic, emotionally charged trial where Malfoy stood accused of conspiracy to overthrow the government, attempted murder, multiple counts of theft and unauthorised use of Polyjuice, as well as treason.
Tensions ran high as piece after piece of incontrovertible evidence established that Malfoy had worked as a spy for the Ministry of Magic throughout the war years. At considerable risk to his life and to his family's well-being, he'd reported Lord Voldemort's movements and plans to the wizarding government. Some of the information Malfoy provided had been instrumental in the daring Auror rescue of Harry Potter's friend Hermione Granger -- currently working as an Unspeakable in the Ministry's Department of Mysteries.
Yet when Malfoy faced his final charges -- three counts of attempted murder dating back to the war's second year -- he claimed to have been acting under the Imperius Curse. He would have got away with it had it not been for Harry Potter, who testified before the Wizengamot with proof that Malfoy couldn't have been under the influence of Imperius. The evidence led to Draco Malfoy's conviction and subsequent sentencing to a year without parole in Azkaban.
Some believed -- and still do -- that Potter's testimony revealed a darker side of our national hero, a vindictive streak that proved that he, like the rest of us, is only human, and not nearly the paragon of virtue most people seem to think he is. Draco Malfoy, however, seems to have forgiven his accuser. An unnamed source tells us that he'd arrived at the Leaky Cauldron ten minutes before Potter did, and the pair carried on what appeared to our source an amicable conversation. The photo, taken shortly before Malfoy left the premises, shows the two men turning around as someone called Malfoy's name. Body language expert Katrina Bradshaw has a detailed analysis of the photograph on page seventeen...
"What is the meaning of this?" asked Narcissa, shoving a copy of the Prophet's front page under Draco's nose, right over his scones.
Draco turned his gaze away from the page, but it was useless; he'd memorised the photograph an hour ago. In it, he and Potter were right next to each other, looking equally surprised and horrified. Potter's hand was in the air over Draco's shoulder; Draco wasn't sure what Potter had been trying to do, but it certainly made them look far friendlier than they'd actually been. Bloody reporters.
"What do you mean, Mother?"
"That boy put you away, Draco! He spat on all you did for him! And here you are, grovelling before him? My only son!"
White-hot shame pierced Draco. If she only knew what her only son had done for a few months of comfort. God, he was such a failure. "I wasn't grovelling before him," said Draco patiently. "I was only having a drink. I had no idea he was going to show up."
"That's not what the article says!" Narcissa's eyes were bloodshot, unfocussed.
Draco crossed his arms. "Who would you rather believe -- some piss-ant reporter for that miserable rag or your own son?"
Narcissa looked uncertain, and then her face crumpled. "Oh, Draco, I'm so sorry," she choked. "I'm sorry. How could I even think... God, I need to have a drink before I say any more foolish things. You just go on and finish your breakfast, child. Mummy is going to have a little drink and maybe a nap..."
She stumbled out of the room, grasping the door frame briefly for purchase. Draco watched her go with a heavy heart. He'd lost his appetite entirely, and there were tears in his eyes; they'd come unbidden. Watching his mother unravel like this was worse than anything he'd ever experienced -- worse than the humiliation he'd suffered in Azkaban. Worse than the nightmarish fog cell, where voices whispered to him and filled his mind with violent images he still dreamt of every night.
Draco felt torn between his need to take revenge on Potter and the need to take care of his mother. He didn't know how to take care of his mother, though. And yesterday's encounter with Potter had thrown him so off-balance that he wasn't even certain how he was going to deal with his revenge. Potter had clearly never regretted his choice to turn Draco in for lying to the Wizengamot. He'd clearly hadn't spared Draco so much as a thought over the years.
But Draco knew something about Potter, now. He didn't know why Potter had told him about Weasley's pregnancy. Probably the same reason why Potter had told him all those other things about himself, back during the war. He'd used Draco as a receptacle for his personal problems because he didn't want anyone else to know about them, and because he knew that no one would believe Draco if he ever talked.
But knowing what he knew, clearly there was trouble in Potter and Weasley's paradise for two. Draco could use that, somehow. He went back into seclusion at Malfoy Manor. Clearly he was not as ready to be back in the public eye as he'd thought he was. He needed more time to work out what he was going to do.
He spent a lot of time with his mother, but it made him more and more concerned for her well-being. She drank wine like water and chased it with brandy. Draco could practically see the alcohol eating her from the inside. She was growing paler every day, and the circles under her eyes were getting ever larger. Draco couldn't sit helplessly and watch this, he just couldn't.
One day, he ordered the house-elves to dilute her favourite brandy with apple juice, but the plan backfired -- Narcissa merely ordered the house-elves to punish themselves for three days straight, and drank twice as much. Draco quietly told the house-elves to stop running headfirst into walls and shut himself up in his father's study. He strode over to one of the shelves and picked up a hefty tome. With a frustrated shout, he threw it against the wall above the fireplace. The smacking sound was satisfying, but it did nothing to reduce Draco's stress. He was cracking. Nothing was going right.
A piece of parchment flew out of the fireplace, folded itself neatly into a paper airplane and careened towards Draco, who caught it. It was one of those Ministry memos, pink in colour, which could only mean one thing.
Be in your father's study in five minutes.
Draco waved his wand at his father's desk chair and rolled it across to the fireplace. He sat down and closed his eyes. What could Dolores want?
"Ah, punctual as ever," said Dolores.
Draco opened his eyes and saw her head in the fireplace, surrounded by green flames. "It's not like I have anywhere else to be," he said, a bit too sullenly. It had been three weeks since the fiasco at the Leaky Cauldron, and Draco hadn't left the Manor once since then. "What's going on?"
"This conversation never happened," said Dolores, "but I'm telling you that the Daily Prophet is going to run a story tomorrow morning. A story that's going to answer some questions regarding a certain Azkaban guard."
Draco felt blood drain from his face, and hoped that Dolores wouldn't notice. "What are you talking about?"
"You really don't know? You were lucky, then. It's going to be a scandal." She sounded delighted. "It turns out that handsome Roger Davies has been sodomising his prisoners for years. I expect he knew better than to touch you... of course he did... Anyway, he's been forcing them to have sex with him in exchange for basic necessities like normal food and self-cleaning latrines."
Draco blinked. Basic necessities? "Wait, do you mean to tell me that the rock-hard bread and spongy cheese are not normal Azkaban fare?" he heard himself say.
Dolores's eyes widened. "Of course they aren't. Azkaban is meant to make prisoners suffer slowly, not kill them quickly." She sounded entirely matter-of-fact about it. Draco still couldn't decide if he liked her sadistic streak or feared it. "Draco, are you trying to tell me that he fed you... oh, no wonder you're so thin still. Oh, how horrible. Dear Merlin. Look, someone's coming. I'll pop by later tonight and tell you everything."
She disappeared, and Draco was left alone. A great emptiness occupied the space where his heart had once been. He'd utterly debased himself, he'd turned himself into a whore, believing that he'd been trying to stay alive... for nothing. It had all been a big joke, and no doubt Davies had had not a few good laughs about Draco's eagerness to please just so he could eat...
Draco hid his face in his hands, but no tears came. He felt useless, empty, broken. He hated Potter, Davies, the Dark Lord. Most of all, he hated himself for not being shrewd and worldly like his father. His father must've known all about Azkaban procedures. His father wouldn't have allowed a nobody like Davies to push him around.
Dolores arrived just in time for tea. Draco and his mother were sitting on opposite ends of the dining room table. When Dolores walked in, escorted by one of the house-elves, Narcissa murmured something apologetic and swept out of the room. She paused long enough to give Draco a brandy-infused kiss on the cheek.
"Receiving important Ministry people, just like your father," she whispered, her words soggy.
Draco watched her go with a frown, and then turned to Dolores, who had in the meantime allowed a house-elf to serve her tea.
"Well?" asked Draco.
"There have been nasty rumours about that Davies boy for years," said Dolores. She adjusted her pink shawl unnecessarily and took a bite of quiche. After chewing and swallowing, she set her teacup down with an air of determination. "For a long time, we'd suspected something was going on, but we couldn't prove anything as prisoners from H8 never so much as breathed a word to anyone. Small wonder, that, considering they'd all been Obliviated quite skilfully."
"I haven't been." A pity, that.
"We're almost sure he was too afraid of your Ministry connections," said Dolores. There didn't seem to be any hesitation in her tone. So she believed Draco. Good. "But the others..." She picked up her cup and drained it, then snapped her fingers. A house-elf materialised at her side instantly to pour her more tea. "We pulled a prisoner out of H8 unexpectedly early, without advance notice to the guard contingent. Blaise Zabini is his name. You might remember him."
Draco did, but only vaguely. Zabini had been of little use during the war; it was surprising he ended up facing prison time at all. He'd been too disdainful of getting his hands dirty and too lazy to seek leadership. "I hadn't realised he'd done anything worthy of imprisonment," said Draco.
"He hadn't, really. But you know better than I do that the Wizengamot was a kangaroo court more often than not. Anyone with Death Eater connections has done some jail time. Zabini was sentenced to two years because he hadn't been able to provide an alibi for the time of Lupin's execution."
Draco shuddered. Zabini had been there at that execution, all right. "He threw up into the rosebush after Greyback cut Lupin open, Dolores. That's hardly an offence worth two years in Azkaban."
"You're preaching to the choir," she said irritably. "He went off shortly after you did, so he had another year to go. I've convinced the Minister to grant him a reprieve for good behaviour--"
"I didn't realise that was possible," interrupted Draco.
"Anything is possible when you're working for a tired, busy minister who'll sign anything you give him if he trusts you," said Dolores, looking pleased with herself. "I went to collect him myself. The poor boy practically threw himself at me when he saw me and begged me to take him away. He was filthy and half-starved."
Draco's heart plummeted. So Zabini had resisted. All those months, he had withstood Davies's advances, denied himself even the basic necessities. It was so incredibly ironic that at the end of all things, Zabini's strength of character would surpass Draco's. He didn't think he would ever stop feeling ashamed. "Go on," he muttered.
Dolores's eyes glinted malevolently. "Davies tried to Obliviate the boy in my presence, can you imagine? Oh, you should have seen the look on his face when he saw me leading Zabini away."
"Did he harm you?" asked Draco.
Dolores laughed. "Come now, Draco. You know it's hard to harm me unless you catch me unawares." Her eyes clouded over for a moment and she made a strange clicking sound with her mouth, then shook her head as though getting rid of a persistent, unpleasant memory. "Mr Davies made the trip with us. He's in a holding cell beneath the Ministry now, awaiting trial."
Draco's mouth was dry. "What has he told you?"
"Everything. He said that he didn't go after all the prisoners on cell block H8-- which explains your case. You were lucky."
... Davies has since made a full confession to law enforcement authorities, but we here at the Daily Prophet don't think he's been entirely truthful. There is no telling how many people have been affected over Davies's four-year term on cell block H8. One victim, who asked to remain nameless, says he still does not remember what happened to him in Azkaban. He adds bitterly, "I'd rather there had been Dementors, begging your pardon."
A law enforcement insider has told us that there is more to Davies's story than meets the eye. Apparently, there was one prisoner who holds a special significance to Davies. Whether this is someone still in Azkaban or not is unclear, but Davies has said that there is one person whom he did not Obliviate. "I never want him to forget me" is the quote given to us by our insider, who believes that Davies nurtures some sort of twisted, sick emotional attachment to this person, whoever he might be...
Draco let the Daily Prophet fall from his nerveless fingers. A corner of the open page landed in his coffee cup and promptly began to soak up the dark liquid, like new blood on old snow.
He was so fucked.
Davies was a nutter; that much was plain to see. Sooner or later, he'd talk, and even if Draco were to successfully convince people that Davies was lying, his name would forever be associated with the Azkaban sodomy scandal. The damage to his reputation would be irrevocable. If he didn't lie about it, he'd be a victim, perceived as weak. If he lied about it and somehow the truth came out, he'd be seen as a coward. What was he supposed to do now?
"Young master has a visitor," said a house-elf at his elbow.
Draco jumped, and glared at the creature in irritation. "You let someone into the Manor without permission?"
"No, young master. Tibby has asked Mr Harry Potter to wait outside while young master is informed of his unannounced visit."
Potter? Potter? What was Potter doing here? Draco hadn't seen him or heard from him since their meeting at the Leaky Cauldron over three weeks ago. Still, thinking of Potter being thwarted by an elf and being told to wait for Draco... the thought of it was quite satisfying. He toyed with the idea of simply ignoring the house-elf's news. Potter wouldn't be able to enter the mansion and Draco could watch him work himself into a frothing rage from one of the balconies that overlooked the main entrance.
But a traitorously weak part of Draco insisted that he see Potter. He'd been dreaming of being fucked senseless by Potter every night since their encounter at the pub, and these days merely thinking about Potter made Draco's cock ache with need. He wanted to make Potter his own, to possess him, to turn him into a gibbering wreck like Davies. He was already hard underneath his robes. "I'll see him outside," Draco said to the elf. "Mind that Mistress doesn't see. If you think she might venture outside or to one of the balconies, you will Apparate to my side and inform me instantly."
"As the young master wishes," said the elf with a bow, and disappeared.
Draco walked out into the sunlit courtyard and found Potter sitting at the edge of a small fountain in the centre. Stone cherubs squirted water at each other from child-sized cocks, their facial expressions bizarrely serene. Draco had always wondered what was supposed to be so artistic about a bunch of curly blond boys pissing all over each other. Not that he'd ever admit as much to his mother, who insisted that the fountain was a stunning piece of art.
"To what do I owe this very early and unexpected displeasure?" he asked, stopping a few feet away from Potter.
Potter looked up. "Not going to invite me in for breakfast?"
"No. Now what do you want?"
Potter was moving his left index finger along the edge of the fountain's basin, leaving a temporary groove in the water that flowed there. Draco had once heard of an art form that involved elaborate designs made from sand that took hours -- sometimes days -- to create and only minutes to be blown away by a gust of wind. "Strike one against the famed Malfoy hospitality, then?" Potter said finally.
"My family's hospitality only applies to guests who are welcome."
Potter grinned, his teeth whiter than Draco remembered. "Fine, fine. I wouldn't want to set foot in your stuffy old mansion anyway. I just have one question." His face turned suddenly serious, and Draco fought to keep his face expressionless, his eyes emotionless.
He failed, and so he sneered instead. "Potter, why do you need a dramatic set-up for everything you do? Just ask your damned question and be gone. And use an owl next time."
"It's you, isn't it? The one Davies won't talk about."
Draco blinked rapidly. "What are you talking about?" This trick had been one of the first his father had taught him: when in doubt, feign ignorance and deny everything.
"I'm not stupid, Malfoy. You told me you'd been on cell block H8. You got shirty when I mentioned you taking it up the arse in Azkaban. You remember it all, don't you?"
"Potter, that's the most preposterous thing I've ever heard. What exactly possessed you to turn up here this morning and accuse me of--"
"I'm not accusing you of anything. I'm just asking you. Because I just want you to know something. If I'd known what they did in Azkaban now, I wouldn't have..."
"Bullshit, Potter, you would have gladly seen me spend all that time even amongst Dementors. All things considered, I preferred the Roger Davies-style Azkaban."
Draco's face felt hot, but it was too late to take it back. He'd just admitted everything to Potter. He'd just bloody well admitted his greatest humiliation to his worst enemy. Why couldn't he be more like his father? His father would've turned the situation to his advantage somehow, he would've put a different spin on things...
And then Draco had a flash of inspiration, and triumph replaced horror and shame inside his chest. It was like taking a swallow of Felix Felicis -- he saw what he needed to do so very clearly.
Potter looked dumbstruck. "You preferred it? He violated..."
"It's only a violation if you feel violated. He wanted to fuck me. I wanted him to fuck me. Don't you get it?"
God, it was so simple. There was nothing inherently shameful in buggery. It was not a dinner-table subject, but many wizards, especially those from pure-blood families, indulged quite often. It wasn't comparable to becoming a whore. Why hadn't Draco thought of it this way before?
Potter was doing a somewhat accurate impression of a fish out of water. "So you're-- I mean, you're, well, like that?"
Draco cocked an eyebrow at him. "Like what?"
"Uh." Potter chewed on his bottom lip, looking extremely uncomfortable. "Gay."
"What the fuck does it matter? Or do you just feel the need to put me in a box, like you do with everything else in your miserable life?"
Potter's eyes widened and his lip curled. "I have to hear this from you, of all people? You invented putting people in boxes, you and your Death Eater friends --"
"I see how it is. I'm still a Death Eater, am I? You really are an ungrateful, arrogant little bastard." God, but telling the truth felt good. Draco resolved to try it more often.
"What am I supposed to be grateful for?" Potter was almost shouting now, and his face was red. Draco had got to him, hadn't he? He'd put him off-guard with his "confession" about Davies, and that made Potter lose his careful veneer of moral superiority.
"Oh, I don't know," said Draco mockingly. "Why don't we start with the Mudblood's life? Or is that not worth anything to you these days, now that you've got a bastard on the way?"
The colour drained from Potter's face. "I swear, Malfoy, another word out of you and I'll--"
"You'll what, Potter? You'll WHAT? You can't send me back to Azkaban for saying things you don't like. Too bad. So sad."
"Fuck you!" blustered Potter. "You'll never fucking change! All I wanted was--"
"What? WHAT? You wanted to let me know how SORRY you are that I got arse-fucked by a flea-infested guard? Of course you'd be sorry, Potter, because you couldn't bear it if I enjoyed something! I ought to thank you, really. My time at Azkaban was better than a pleasure cruise, since you're so fucking CONCERNED."
Potter's fists were clenched at his sides, and his eyes flashed with the sort of danger Draco would never have ignored, normally. Now, though, he felt too fucking good to worry about Potter's retaliation. Some of the rage that had bubbled inside him ever since his trial had been set free, and Draco's relief was monumental; it washed over him in a warm wave of hazy pleasure. He'd never known that hate could be so warm, so arousing when unleashed.
Potter Disapparated, and Draco did a little victory dance right there in the courtyard, next to the pissing cherubs. He didn't care how ridiculous he looked -- he was home, he was safe, and he felt freer than he had in years. And he knew exactly how to take revenge on Potter now. He hadn't missed the look of acute curiosity in Potter's eyes after Draco revealed the "truth" about what had happened in Azkaban.
Draco had never seriously thought that his shapeless nightmares in the fog cell could be realised, but there was a window of opportunity here. He would put Potter into Davies's place, and this time Draco would be the one holding all the keys.
The best thing about Draco's solution to the Davies problem was that he wasn't really lying. He had wanted Davies more often than not. It would have been difficult not to develop at least a perfunctory attraction to someone who had such a talent for sucking cock. No one could ever prove that Draco had been Davies's whore. For Draco, that was good enough. The absence of proof meant innocence.
Potter, however, refused to leave Draco's dreams. Oftentimes, Draco would walk by the fountain in the courtyard -- the water in the basin frozen now, and the cherubs no longer as cheerful -- and remember Potter standing there, his shock of black hair a deep contrast to his pale skin, green eyes flashing with indignation, and his finger making circles in the water. Draco's dreams always detoured at this point. Sometimes he would see Potter fucking him right in the basin, a cherub's wing digging painfully into Draco's back. Sometimes he would see Potter kneeling, sucking Draco's cock and moaning, his fingers moving in and out of Draco's hole...
The difference between these dreams and the old ones was that Draco no longer felt powerless in them. And he was no longer content with mere dreams. He would have his revenge, and it would taste so much sweeter now that he could serve it good and cold.
He was one of the chosen, of the truly powerful. He'd let himself be caught up in fear and doubt when he'd dreaded that his shameful Azkaban behaviour would be exposed. Now he understood the meaning of the lesson his father had intended to teach him all those years ago. To a true wizard, the world was whatever he wanted it to be. In Draco's world, he was not a disgrace -- could not be. If he said that he'd allowed Davies to fuck him because he'd wanted to, then that's how it had been. He was the one who decided what was true and what was not. He was in control of his past, present and future.
He tried not to give too much thought to Davies deciding to talk. The man was now locked away in Azkaban, serving sixty-seven consecutive year-long sentences. It would be a long time before Davies talked to anyone save his own shadow.
Draco got up from his father's chair and walked over to the study's fireplace. He grabbed a pinch of Floo powder from the ornate bowl on the mantelpiece and threw it into the flames, uttering the address of Dolores's office.
"Draco? What a pleasant surprise," said Dolores. She took her reading glasses off and massaged the bridge of her nose. "Have you had any luck with the Weird Sisters benefit?"
"More than luck," said Draco, and fidgeted a little. He hated talking via Floo; everything echoed most unpleasantly. "I've made such a sizeable donation that I was able to secure not one but two tickets. One is yours, of course."
"You've always been such a thoughtful young man," she said, beaming. "I couldn't believe it when the Minister told me that they hadn't printed a ticket for me. Then I remembered that Granger was one of the organisers this year. I imagine Rita Skeeter's invitation got lost in the post... Oh, but Draco!" Dolores suddenly looked puzzled. "What about your mother?"
"I asked her," said Draco. "But she's refused to go. She's been better lately, but she's not up for large gatherings, she says."
The Weird Sisters were having their annual Christmas benefit gala -- it was absolutely the party to attend at the end of the year. Tickets cost a small fortune each, with discounts granted only to select Ministry officials and some Quidditch personalities. Most people couldn't even dream of being invited, unless they, like Draco, had a lot of extra cash. All the proceeds from the ticket sales went to needy families. It struck Draco as a little ironic that the wizarding society's crème de la crème would dance, drink and schmooze in the name of the needy whilst the needy spent their Christmas at home, most of them unable to even afford presents for their children. These parties were merely an excuse to seem important in the eyes of the rest of the wizarding world, not gestures of charity.
Draco wouldn't have even bothered to go if he hadn't had big plans for the night of the gala.
"Listen, Dolores," he said. "Whatever I do at the party, please remember that I know what I'm doing. All right?"
She laughed. "As long as you don't decide to take off your dress robes and dance naked on a table."
"Oh, nothing as drastic as all that," Draco assured her. "Not even close."
Millions of levitation spells held the Everlasting Candles afloat near the ballroom ceiling. The candles formed shapes -- circles, figure eights, triangles, stars -- and then slowly moved past one another, formed new shapes, dissolved again, re-formed. Draco could have spent eternity staring at the dancing lights. At his side, Dolores was deep in conversation with the Minister for Magic, who seemed to have drank a bit much already and kept trying to launch into stories from his Auror past. Draco smirked to himself. It was really high time for the good Minister to start thinking about cosy rocking chairs, fireplaces, Self-Refilling Teacups and his numerous grandchildren.
Draco sniffed at his wineglass and put it back down. Unsurprisingly, he hadn't touched the wine or any of the other amply available drinks. He'd lied to Dolores about his mother's refusal to go to the party. He hadn't even bothered asking, for when he'd gone to find Narcissa, he'd stumbled upon her as she lay passed out in a downstairs lounge, brandy dripping from the bottle in her hand like too-quick blood. Draco shook the thought off with irritation. Moping about his mother's lamentable state was not going to change anything. She was still his mother, he was still bound to obey her, and he dared not dictate what she did. All he could do was be there for her when she needed him, and take care of his own affairs.
Speaking of which...
His eyes searched the ballroom and he found his mark. Potter stood slouching next to the statue of Flavius the Fair, deep in conversation with an angry-looking ghost. As Draco kept watching him, Potter got progressively fidgety. Finally, he turned around and scanned the crowds. When his eyes met Draco's, Potter flushed and looked away, down at his feet, his shoulders slumping forward a little. Draco smiled. He'd been doing this all night.
At first, Potter had tried to out-stare him. The first time he did that, Draco smiled slowly, and stuck just the tip of his tongue out from between his teeth. Potter had rolled his eyes and looked away. The second time it happened, Draco had been in the midst of pudding -- a fruity sorbet that was either elderberry or boysenberry, he still couldn't decide. Draco had kept his eyes firmly on Potter's as he sucked spoonful after spoonful slowly into his mouth, hollowing his cheeks out as he moved his tongue over the cold sweetness in his mouth. He'd seen Potter's eyes dart nervously from side to side, seen Potter turn away, and then look back, and then turn away again, and look back, as though unable to stop looking at Draco.
After that, Potter seemed to have given up all thought of staring back at Draco, but Draco had not relented. He saw Potter shift slightly around as he said something to the ghost. In tiny, tiny steps Potter managed to switch positions with the ghost so that he was no longer with his back to Draco. He was now staring at Draco, right through the ghost, who seemed oblivious. Draco grinned and began to circle the rim of his wineglass with his fingertip. He kept his eyes on Potter's, of course, for Potter was no longer defiant, no longer trying to beat him. There was a raw sort of desperation in Potter's eyes, a helpless curiosity.
What do you want from me? Potter's eyes pleaded.
Draco stopped caressing the rim of his wineglass and pressed his finger to his lips, flicked his tongue out over the tip of it, blinked, and then drew his finger deeper in to his mouth. Are you sure you want to know?
Potter's eyes widened, and he dug his hands into his pockets, turning away from Draco with a determined air.
Potter looked again.
Draco rose from his seat. "I'll just be a few minutes," he said to Dolores, who hadn't even noticed the thorough eye-fucking Potter had been receiving all night. "Minister."
Scrimgeour waved him off. Draco walked in the direction of the gents'. Just before he pulled open the door, he turned and cast a lingering glance over his shoulder at Potter, who seemed rooted to his spot. The ghost was no longer there; Potter was standing in the middle of the Dorothy X. Stiller Grand Ballroom and unabashedly staring at Draco. Draco smiled and walked through the door. A thickset wizard with eyebrows that put Dolohov's to shame was just drying his hands. Draco pretended to head towards a toilet until the wizard left, then leant against the heavy marble sink and waited.
The door burst open not a minute later, and Potter strode in, looking murderous. He looked around, made certain that they were alone, and began to advance on Draco. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"
Draco raised an eyebrow. "Enjoying a brief respite from the festivities. It's all quite exhausting, don't you think?"
Potter was next to him in a flash, grasping fistfuls of Draco's elegant dress robes and pulling hard enough to tear. "Don't get smart with me. I've had about enough of your... your..."
"My what?" whispered Draco. Potter smelled of sweat and rainwater, and there wasn't a trace of alcohol on his breath. Draco was hard, and he wanted Potter to know it, but he couldn't -- wouldn't -- be the first to make a move.
Potter exhaled harshly and let go of Draco's robes. His hands might've been shaking, but Draco couldn't be certain. "Just tell me what you're trying to do."
Draco rolled his eyes. "You mean you can't tell? Really, Potter, I knew you had social adjustment problems, but I didn't realise the extent--"
"Oh, shut the fuck up," muttered Potter. He carded his fingers through his hair, and Draco was surprised to see that they went right through, even though Potter's head looked ever the crow's nest. "Even Ron's noticed."
Draco laughed. "I'm surprised they haven't carried him out on a stretcher yet, in that case."
"He just thinks you're mental," said Potter, glaring at a tile on the far wall. "I tend to agree. I want you to stop it, all right?"
"You want me to stop what, precisely? I'm not the one manhandling you in a bathroom. I was only looking."
"Well, don't look." Potter sounded sullen. Draco noticed that he looked just as tired as he had back at the Leaky Cauldron almost two months ago.
"Really, Potter, megalomania doesn't become you. You do realise you can't tell me what to do? Don' t you."
Potter dug both palms into his hair and drew a deep breath. "Look, I'm sorry, okay? Whatever it is, whatever it is you're still cross at me about. I'm sorry, for all of it. You were right, I was wrong, I was a prick, I shouldn't have done any of it. Just please, stop..."
Draco folded his arms across his chest and stared at Potter's crotch. It was amusing that Potter knew exactly what Draco was trying to do. It was amusing that Potter didn't put revenge past Draco. It was even more amusing that Potter seemed to think that Draco would find mere public humiliation a sufficient punishment for what Potter had done. "Stop what?" he asked, feigning ignorance.
"Oh, for fuck's sake, Malfoy. Ginny's just left, okay, she fucking left because you've made such a spectacle and you're embarrassing us both--"
"Au contraire," said Draco, shaking his head. "I was dining with the Minister himself, and he hasn't noticed a thing." He took a tiny, fractional step closer to Potter. "I'll tell you a secret," he whispered, leaning even closer. "The trick is not to tell them what you're looking at." He could see a faint film of sweat on Potter's flushed skin. Draco exhaled slowly, and watched the hairs on the back of Potter's neck rise.
"Stop," said Potter unsteadily.
Draco straightened up. "I apologise. I just didn't want everyone to know my secret."
Potter laughed weakly. "You're a right fucking piece of work, Malfoy, do you know that?"
"So you keep telling me." Draco leant back onto the sink. "So how's Potter junior doing? Still alive and kicking? Or not kicking yet?"
"I don't know," said Potter. "And I wish I didn't have to fucking think about it." He looked like a cornered wild animal all of a sudden, but he sounded grateful for the change in subject. "I just don't know what to do with a baby. I'm sure I'll love it once it's born but right now I don't fucking want it."
"What do you want?" asked Draco, shifting slightly closer, so that their shoulders were almost touching. Keeping Potter off-balance was almost too easy, he reflected as Potter looked up, eyes widening with surprise.
"Don't start that again," warned Potter.
"Start what?" Draco reached for an imaginary piece of lint on Potter's shoulder and flicked it away, then blew lightly on the spot. "I was merely asking what you wanted. You always want things you just can't get. Am I right?"
Potter made no reply. Draco took another step closer, so that their chests were a hair's breadth apart. "Like tonight, for example. All I want is--"
He didn't get to finish telling Potter what he wanted. Potter seized Draco's arms and forced them back, at the same time shoving his tongue into Draco's mouth. Draco hadn't expected that. He hadn't even thought about kissing Potter before, but now was not a time for thinking, because Potter's mouth on his felt so fucking good. Draco bucked his hips, and his erection met Potter's thigh. Potter shoved his leg forward with a slight whimper, and slid a hand down to cup one of Draco's arse cheeks.
Then Draco felt the telltale pressure of Apparition and for the first time since the night had begun, he felt slightly scared. Where had Potter taken them?
He stumbled across a rough wooden floor and fell down as his knees hit something solid -- the front part of a bed. Potter fell on top of him, and for a few minutes Draco forgot to worry. He writhed underneath Potter, wishing that they could both be naked. "Fuck," he heard himself say. He couldn't believe he was so close to getting what he'd wanted tonight. He'd imagined that getting Potter to even consider sex with him would have taken months. And yet, here he was, offering himself up as though this would be the last time he ever shagged. If only he knew what Draco really wanted.
Potter rolled off him suddenly, and Draco sat up a bit. His eyes had adjusted to the darkness, and he saw a long wooden dresser with large drawers and a large round window with billowing curtains.
"What is this place?" asked Draco, pulling up his robes. They were probably ruined anyway, but he might as well prevent any lasting damage.
"It's my parents' old house," came Potter's voice from the foot of the bed. Draco discarded his robes and leant over to look. Potter sat on the floor, naked, the head of his cock gleaming wet in the darkness. Draco's mouth began to water, and an odd sort of buzzing filled his head. He told himself to stop. He had plans for Potter. He wasn't going to use up his entire arsenal of tricks in one night.
"It must be an awfully big house if your girlfriend won't hear us here."
Potter snorted. "Ginny doesn't know I've rebuilt it."
Draco had no intention of letting Potter develop his thoughts about his girlfriend into a full-blown guilt reaction. "You know, I don't much fancy talking," he whispered, leaning down. He sucked Potter's earlobe into his mouth and flicked his tongue against it, shivering as Potter's breathing sped up. A moment, and Potter was back on the bed, pinning Draco against the cushions, his cock leaking all over Draco's stomach, and Draco lost control when Potter's mouth closed over his again, when Potter's thick cock pushed into him, tearing him to pieces.
Draco cried out and tasted blood in his mouth; he was suffocating, he wanted to stop -- no, he didn't -- yes, he did. Potter filled him slowly, relentlessly, and then Draco forgot that he was supposed to be running this show, because Potter's cock kept pushing past a spot that Draco hadn't known existed inside him. Draco spread his legs wider, wider, and Potter shuddered, his grip on Draco's shoulders faltering.
Their fucking was frantic, desperate. There was no pretence at tenderness or care, just pure, raw desire for release, no limits. It was as though they were both trying to wrench control from the other's grip, and every time Potter would cry out or moan or even sigh, Draco felt a surge of pride that was immediately silenced by a gasp of pleasure as Potter's hand tightened around his cock.
Draco didn't know how long it lasted, didn't want to know. He just didn't want it to ever stop, because it was the most real thing he had ever experienced. Draco hadn't wanted to come first, but he did, mind going blank and body going numb, as though shocked that he could receive such pleasure from someone he hated so completely. Potter cried out as he came, and bit into Draco's shoulder, drawing blood. In response to the pain, Draco pushed him away with all his strength, and Potter flopped onto the bed next to him, one arm hanging limply off the side.
They lay in silence for a good twenty minutes. Draco studied the billowing curtain and mused that tonight hadn't gone exactly according to plan. Potter had a way of ruining Draco's plans, but that was quite all right. Draco had time to adjust his plans. After all, Potter had no idea that Draco had any plans in the first place.
"So, do you, uh. Want a drink?" asked Potter.
Draco smirked in the darkness, and bent over the side of the bed to find his robes. His bitten shoulder smarted. "No, thanks. I need to get home. I promised my mother I'd take her for a walk."
Behind him, Potter shifted around. "This was a one-off, right?"
Draco waited out a breath, then laughed. "That's up to you. I didn't ask you to bring me here, Potter."
"I'm not saying you did," muttered Potter. "It just makes things complicated--"
"No," said Draco. He pulled on his robes as he rose, then turned around and looked down at Potter. "There's nothing complicated about it."
Draco wasn't lying: to him, it was quite uncomplicated. Davies had unwittingly taught him how to use sex as a weapon. Now, Draco was using his best -- and only -- weapon against a hated enemy. Few things were as simple. He smirked at Potter before Disapparating.
There will be a day when you can't breathe without me.
The pure-blood families were the losers in the Second War, and at no time did this manifest more acutely than during the holidays. Draco spent Christmas with his mother, who wasn't in the mood for any gatherings. Family was a tenuous concept at best these days, what with so many of their relatives in Azkaban. His mother's most notable present to him turned out to be a small crate of Spain's finest brandy.
"You know I do not drink, Mother," said Draco before realising how rude he was being.
Her smile remained in place. "Well, I think you ought to. I feel like we do not share anything any more, so I thought we might share a drink now and again. Don't you want to open a bottle?"
There was such childlike hope in her voice. Draco's heart lurched violently, and bitterness stung the corners of his eyes. "No, thank you," he said, "but you may help yourself."
"It's your gift," she pointed out, quite reasonably.
"Then it's mine to do with as I will. I do apologise, but I must get some fresh air; I think I might be allergic to this incense."
"I'll have the house-elves dispose of it all," called Narcissa after Draco as he bolted from the room.
Draco ran out of the Manor, through the small courtyard and on towards the fields beyond. His sides were stitching within minutes, every breath a million icicles through his blood. Gasping, shivering, Draco leant against a thick tree trunk and glared out at the world wrapped in silver moonlight. Many years ago, just before winter had hit, a boy and his father had stood right here and spoke of Muggles and wizards and destiny. Draco would have given anything to have that time back -- with his father alive and his mother healthy and whole. He could no longer deny that she was seriously ill, but he did not know how to help her get better.
He was such a spectacular failure. His mother was slowly killing herself, and all he had thought about since getting out of Azkaban had been his revenge on Potter. A jealous thought speared his mind: right now, Potter was probably drinking hot cider and sharing Christmas crackers with his wife-to-be and her family. He didn't deserve that. Not while Draco spent his Christmas staring at a misshapen, snow-covered haystack and bitterly wishing for the past to return.
Never mind what Potter deserves, Draco told himself firmly. You have more important things to worry about.
But he had no idea how to help his mother without disrespecting her. As Draco gazed out over the snowy field and the shadowed forest beyond it, he realised something about himself, something he had not known before.
He was much better at destroying things than fixing them.
Draco laughed out loud, turning his face up to the moon like a creature of the night.
continued in part 3