This time the man who dropped by was small, squat, and smelled like some mixture of old pumpkin juice and eggs, which frankly did nothing to relieve the nausea that was already plaguing Draco. This time, he didn’t slump like a child on the floor, but sat up when the man entered (he would have stood, but ankle was still doing odd things, and he had no wand with which to heal it).
“I betcha know why I’m here then,” the man giggled, fingering his wand with glee. Draco could only suppose this was not the leader and the chance at some action was rare for him.
“No, but I can have a guess that you’re not bringing me biscuits,” Draco drawled, looking lazy and unconcerned. The man seemed taken aback by his attitude and glanced at the door, licking his lips.
“Don’t you play wiv me,” he said, again glancing at the door. “I got you all locked up. I can do whatever I want.”
“Yes, and so far you’re doing wonderfully,” Draco replied snottily. The man raised the wand and pointed it at Draco’s arm, his hand shaking slightly with primitive fury. Draco felt himself wince inwardly and hoped the man hadn’t noticed; if he was distracted enough, there might be a chance for a bid for the door.
“Think yer clever, eh? Now, you gonna tell me where yer friends are?”
“If only I knew.”
“That’s too bad, innit?” The man gave the wand a little twitch and mumbled something, and immediately, Draco felt the pain, and he looked down to see the cut that had raised blood to his arm. He could tell this would be just the beginning. He tuned out, knowing that it would only continue in the same vein, and focused instead on memory. He wasn’t one to dwell in the past, but with nothing else to distract him, his days at school came back clearly.
At first, she had shocked him into acceptance. He didn’t speak to her for days after he had found her in the common room, and it infuriated him to see that she wasn’t pining or crawling back to him. It was in such a mood that he was walking through the corridors of Hogwarts one night, well after curfew, knowing that to be caught out of bed would be disastrous but not paying attention to the sense that urged him back to the common room. And even as he turned a corridor that took him farther from safety he realized that with Prefects patrolling as well he had quite a chance of being caught by Pansy. As though the thought had summoned her, she came around the corner ahead of him, looked up, and stopped abruptly.
“Draco, you’re past curfew,” she said, but with no evidence of scolding, she was simply stating a fact.
“I was a prefect once too, remember?” he replied, not increasing his pace but walking toward her casually.
“But you’re not any more,” and her words stung him because it had been a blow to learn that his questionable associations had cost him the position.
“Going to turn me in, Pansy?”
“You know I’m not,” she sighed, and he raised an eyebrow. They were level now, and both stopped walking; Draco leaned against a wall.
“I thought you were through doing favors for me?” he knew he was pushing her farther than he ought to, knew his arrogance would cost him, but he didn’t care very much, the look on her face was worth it.
“We’ve been friends since we were five, Draco,” she reminded him. “Just because I’m tired of your attitude doesn’t mean I’m tired of you.”
He smirked. “You’ll never be tired of me, Pans.”
“And there you go again.”
She started to walk away, but he caught her elbow and she turned back. “What, Pansy? This is just me.”
“Don’t I know it?” she said. “But I’d have thought, for me- at least for me- you’d have a little respect. If there’s anyone you owe that to, it’s me.”
“Pansy, what haven’t I given you? I bought you gifts. I took you to that stupid ball. I’ve hung around with you for years!”
“Did I ask for it?” she snarled, her eyes heated. “You gave me all of that and in return, I was your property.”
“Shit, Pansy, what do you want from me?” he raised his voice, almost shouting, and she lost control, he could see it in the way her dark hair fell into her eyes, in the way she shook with anger, and in the way her eyes blazed back at him.
“I wanted you! I wanted you to trust me, to tell me what you wouldn’t tell anyone else! I wanted you to stop pretending to be my friend and start really doing it! Who else do you know, Draco, that’s stuck with you? What did I do that I didn’t deserve a little insight, a little glimpse at whatever the hell you hide in your head, and I never got any of it- instead I got to follow you, to be sent wherever you pleased, and every time you were angry, every time you were upset or jealous or excited, I knew, when no one else did, and my reward was for you to hold me off as well as you could, for you to treat me like you did everyone else, like they couldn’t possibly understand, but I did!”
He was staring at her like he’d never seen her before, no longer leaning casually against the wall but standing upright, his arms loose as though he didn’t quite know what to do with himself.
“God, Pans,” he said quietly, and she just looked back at him, asking him a question with her eyes that he didn’t know how to answer. He opened his mouth, closed it, and shook his head, but before she had a chance to do or say anything, he let out an involuntary gasp and grabbed his left forearm convulsively.
“Draco?” she asked, confused, but he didn’t respond; he was backing up, leaning against the wall again, and still clutching his arm. She moved towards him and reached out a hand, but he sank to the floor, his eyes screwed shut.
She sank to her knees beside him and reached for his arm. He protested, but she swatted his other hand away and rolled up the sleeve, shuddering when she saw the ugly mark burned there. It was jet back, the skin around it an angry pink, and when she ran her hand over it it was hot and swollen.
“Is He… I mean… is it calling?” she asked, whispering, her eyes wide as she stared at the brand.
“No,” he hissed, “He’s… reminding me… why I’m here.”
“You mean… you came back to Hogwarts… for Him?”
He nodded, opening his eyes to find himself meeting hers, silver to midnight, thunder and lightning. He felt trapped, reckless, and her words still echoed in his head- “I knew, when no one else did…”
And here she was, next to him, where she had always been, though he hadn’t acknowledged. He could still feel the burning, roaring, crashing feeling that had jumped in his stomach when he had found her in the common room, closely entwined with Blaise. He could still see the aftermath of her anger, the anger he had never seen, and he couldn’t understand her hurt, because he had never seen that she had been hurt. It was beyond him, but she wasn’t, she was so close, in fact, that he could see the green petals that lined her pupils against the nighttime blue that he had never noticed before. He didn’t understand her, he didn’t understand the situation, hell, he didn’t understand himself at this point, but he wanted her, had wanted her since he had seen another touching her, since he had known what he had been missing in his best friend that he had always known was beautiful but never really seen.
“At least pretend to trust me,” she said, whispering, and he knew what she was asking for, so he stood and pulled her up with him. He ushered her inside an empty classroom nearby, so dark he could barely see her.
“Pansy… there’s only so much I can tell you,” he said, and she stiffened, so he hastened to continue. “But I can try.”
“Just before last year, He asked my mother to bring me with her…”
He had been her best friend for years, and still, somehow, she had always known he was using her. She weathered the storm of his every outburst of fury, standing by while he yelled and, twice, healing his hand when he cut it, punching through a window in fury. She knew it wasn’t dignified, her devotion to him, but she couldn’t help it, and she stuck by him although she knew the other students saw her as silly, with her desperate crush on her own best friend. But somehow, she had always thought that if they could see him when she was alone with him- see the way he would absentmindedly tangle his fingers in her hair, or the way he would pull her to lean into him, his arm around her waist, or the way he would nip at her neck with his teeth, or if they knew what she had given him when she was sixteen- they might not think she was so pathetic for wanting more.
The games he had played with her were cruel, she had known that, but she also couldn’t get enough, as addicted as she was. He was a drug, and she was always waiting for the next fix.
“Draco, just tell me!” Pansy exclaimed, throwing up her hands. She was following him through the halls of Hogwarts, well past curfew, on the last day before summer holidays. As Prefects, they were very much allowed to be out, but Draco seemed to be abandoning his rounds and Pansy followed. He was stalking toward the dungeons in the mood she had seen before- that towering, barely concealed temper that promised a tempest when unleashed. Draco didn’t reply to her, and in fact made no indication he had heard her. Pansy did, however, hear a noise, and she turned to see Granger rounding the corner with her mouth open as though about to scold them for abandoning their posts. Feeling that she was doing the girl a favor, frankly, considering what Draco would do to her, Pansy called over her shoulder:
“For once in your life, Granger, keep your fat mouth shut!”
Pansy hurried after Draco without listening to the girl’s reply. He had reached the stairs that descended to their level and he was taking them far too fast; a habit of recklessness she had seen get him into trouble before. Pansy followed, half-running to keep up with his long strides, and by the time she reached the portrait hole it was closing behind him. She pushed it open carelessly ignoring the indignant squeal of the occupant.
“Draco what is going on?”
He grabbed something from a nearby table and threw it violently toward her; she flinched, but it was only a newspaper. She unfolded it and scanned the headlines:
Prominent Members of Wizarding Community to Receive Azkaban
Well-known wizards Jugson, Yaxley and Malfoy sent to Azkaban along with several others form crimes performed in the name of recently re-incarnated Dark Wizard.
Pansy put a hand to her mouth, looking back at Draco nervously.
“I’m sorry, Draco,” she said softly, hoping to calm him, but it only seemed to enrage him more. His hands were balled into fists, his hair falling into his eyes, and although he was making her nervous Pansy couldn’t help but think that he looked amazing; his normally flat grey eyes turned molten silver.
“You don’t understand,” he hissed at her, and she was glad that they had come in so late, and the common room was empty.
She wanted to yell back, but she knew him too well.
“Then let me try,” she said evenly, trying to keep her voice calm.
“HE FAILED!” he screamed at her, and she sucked in a tight breath and held it for a moment, but Draco wasn’t done. “DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT HAPPENS TO PEOPLE WHO FAIL?”
Pansy felt plainly as though she were standing on the edge of something, some great cliff, and that whether she stepped forward or backward something had already changed, and perhaps there was a cliff behind her too, so that she had no choice but to fall. Yes, she understood what happened to people who failed. It was a simple formula. Failure meant punishment.
“He’s safe for now. He’s safe in Azkaban,” she said, trying to calm him, and though he had stopped yelling now, the way he was looking at her made her deeply uncomfortable- somehow both chilling her to the bone and bringing fever to her skin. She moved toward him cautiously, until she was close enough to touch him, but she didn’t dare.
“It’ll be fine, Draco. Everything will be aright.”
He approached her slowly, giving her every instinct to turn and flee and every desire to meet him, to feel his skin on hers. She could sense, dimly, what was coming, because it had happened before, and because anger was a natural transition for him, and so she acted on neither of her senses and remained still, letting him come to her. He stood directly in front of her, and he was several inches taller than she was, so that she tilted her head slightly to look at him. He was intimidating, so much more powerful than she, and his power lay in the fact that she was addicted and could not pretend otherwise. So when he bent to whisper to her, she tilted her head sideways, allowing, inviting, instead of refusing like she should have.
“Don’t lie to me,” he hissed in her ear, and his hands shot out of nowhere to her wrists, so that she was effectively a puppet, controlled by him as she had always been. His lips moved from her ear and dragged along her jaw line. She stumbled backward and he followed, his breathing audible after his outburst, and within seconds her back had hit the wall.
“Draco…” she breathed, trying to sound like a warning but failing miserably. In response, the smooth skin of her neck found the attention of his teeth, and she was lost.
It wasn’t something he did often, but it wasn’t new either, that somehow he shifted so naturally from rage to lust in seconds. Pansy supposed it made sense; that when your heart was beating rapidly and your brain reeling and your blood pounding you sought the closest and most heated distraction. And Pansy knew she should feel used; that she should say no and break away and run and never turn back, but on these occasions he was hers and she couldn’t give them up. He released her wrists and braced himself against the wall behind her, and what held her back now was not his hands, but the knowledge that she was undeniably hooked; he was food, air, and water.
His breath was hot against he skin as he moved his teeth across her flesh, pausing where she gasped. She hated it, she wanted it, his lips had caught hers and it didn’t matter what she wished because her hands were moving of their own accord, reaching upward to grip his shoulder and dig her fingers into the silken hair that brushed his neck. He was claiming her, possessing her, and she could have told him there was no need, he owned her, he’d owned her since he was five. His hands were roaming, trailing her sides, and her knees trembled and she was sure that if she hadn’t been leaning against the wall she would have fallen to the ground. His hand slipped beneath the hem of her sweater, and she could feel it catching against the smooth buttons of her blouse, and she knew what he wanted because it was familiar, entirely familiar and still thrilling. Her hands slid from his shoulders and she pulled her sweater over her head, freeing the dark tendrils of hair that had been trapped by her back and sending them tumbling over her shoulders and into her eyes.
She put a hand against the side of his neck, feeling the pulse beating against her fingers. She wanted to prolong this, to extend this time when she could make his pulse race the way that he did hers. His hands were cupping her waist, fitting her perfectly, and her hands slid to his tie, slipping the silken cords loose. She didn’t want to leave what was sure to be expensive lying on the ground; instead she stuffed it into the pocket on his pants. She felt reckless; a sudden and urgent desire to be nearer to him; she lopped one arm around his lower back and pulled him closer, grinding her hips into his. She heard a low, guttural noise. It was a moment before she realized that it had come from him, and the thought that she enticed such a reaction from her icy companion emboldened her.
His hands slid to the buttons on her blouse, and then to the warm regions of her bare skin; and then she was lying down, and he was there and his shirt was undone. Her hands were primitive in their need to touch and brush and slide over his back and across his stomach. And she felt everything at once, but not fear, because although she knew that this was new and different and unknown, it was still him, her best friend, the only one she had ever really wanted. For a while, she knew nothing but hot breath and warm skin, and the sharp sigh of his breaths and her own gasp. And suddenly there was pain (was that pain? It seemed so exquisite) and she bit down on his shoulder and he traveled her skin with his lips, and he wasn’t angry (or was he?) and she wasn’t afraid.
Had she been foolish, to relinquish so much? Pansy didn’t think so, somehow, because of all the things she had given him, that hadn’t been the most important and she couldn’t say she didn’t want to. She had belonged to him; had been intoxicated by him entirely, and Pansy thought that for it to have happened any other way would have been cheating, somehow; like forcing a puzzle piece into a space it didn’t really fit.
In any case, hadn’t she gained as much as she’d lost?
Not now, her traitorous head reminded her. It was true. Now she’d lost a hundred, a thousand, a lifetime’s worth more.
And that was why she was to be found, on this dreary afternoon, hurrying down Diagon Alley. Her pace was not leisurely; she had an uneasy feeling that wouldn’t be left behind.
He was a younger security wizard who lived alone in London. He frequented the Leaky Cauldron and worked late hours at the Ministry, as well as the earliest Monday shifts.
She had given him a few hours; enough time to become well intoxicated and still coherent.
Now, the Leaky Cauldron was packed, and few heads turned her way as she entered the pub (though the ones that did looked immediately away). She closed her eyes for a second, remembering the photograph she had hidden in her cloak. When she opened them, it took her only a few seconds to spot him in the crowded room. He was sitting alone at the bar, a full glass in front of him as well as an empty one. She picked her away across the room and sat carefully one stool away from him. The barman (not Tom, that toothless wonder had been killed a year previously) glanced over, saw her, froze for a moment, and then hurried toward her. She asked for a gillywater. Glancing to the right, she could see him clearly; a forlorn looking young man. She turned carefully in her seat and leaned toward him.
“Do you mind if I join you?” she asked him, her voice low and persuasive. He shrugged, not taking his eyes off his drink, and she slid over one stool into the one next to him.
“Why so down?” she asked him, leaning toward him to mask the movement of her hand, which slid slowly into her robes. She grasped the handle of her wand and withdrew it painstakingly, not taking her eyes off the man before her. He didn’t answer for a moment, then opened his mouth and turned to face her.
He froze at the sight of her face, and he cast a frantic look around. He started to slide from the barstool, but under the shadows she dug her wand into his ribs.
“If you answer me, I won’t kill you,” she said with a pleasant look on her face, as though having an intimate conversation with her acquaintance. His eyes darted around again, and he nodded a fraction of an inch.
“Get that look off your face,” she hissed warningly, and his features fell into an unconvincingly blank expression. She sighed.
“The night before last,” she began, “You saw prisoners being brought into the Ministry.”
He nodded jerkily, not taking his eyes off the room around them.
“One of them was a Malfoy,” she continued. He nodded again, but stopped midway and cast his eyes upon her again, then shook his head.
“What?” she said sharply; her attention, which had been divided between him and the patrons around them, shifted entirely to her informer. “Yes, there was a Malfoy, he was tall and blonde-“
“No,” the man said shakily. “I saw them all. There wasn’t a Malfoy with them.”
“You’re positive?” she said, trying to block out the slow whine that was growing in her head. “Are you sure you know-“
“Who doesn’t know the Malfoys? I’d remember-“
“Shut up,” she snapped, and she was feeling restless again; the whine in her head growing louder. “If there was a prisoner, who would know?”
She gave him a sharp jab to loosen his tongue. He was very white.
“Erm… Dawsen, he would know…”
She stood up, straightening her robes and slipping her wand back inside.
“If you tell anyone I spoke to you,” she said, leaning over so he could hear her very clearly, “I will be sure you never have the opportunity to speak again.”
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