A/N: I know it's been a while, but life and all that! Here you go!
Chapter 6: Questioning Normalcy
The pressure he felt in his chest was overwhelming. The muggle term, he would later learn, was called a panic attack. The sudden fear of dread washing over you, breathing so shallow just to keep your heart from exploding out of your chest. He felt this before he even knew the Dark Lord had arrived at his house. Knowing that something was going to happen, and it was never good. That night, the Dark Lord had called upon his followers to convene at Malfoy Manor. Time was of the essence. Potter would soon be turning seventeen, the protection over his muggle family’s house would be null and void. When would the Order be so tempted to move him?
But Draco could give a fig about precious Potter’s escape. He was more concerned over the beaten and bruised sight of Professor Burbage slowly levitating just to his right. He watched as she faded in and out of consciousness over the course of the meeting. The bruises and cuts seemed to throb in excruciating pain. It was the handy work of his aunt. The purples and blues on the side of her face created a spidery pattern that led to her hairline, which was the telltale signature of her Cruciatus curse. When she would come to, her eyes would instantly tear in fear, she would close them as though praying that they never open again, for if they did, her fate would be met in such violence.
Every minute that passed the pressure in his chest would increase. Draco tried to inhale through his nose as slowly as he could muster. But often times, he would end up holding it. Surely, these “guests” could hear his heart thundering in his chest. If the Dark Lord could hear it, would he mistake it for weakness, the true dread of what was yet to come? Or excitement, the urge to watch a lowly teacher, one that taught all the beliefs they were against, be used as a toy for their own personal sick pleasure?
As the Dark Lord forced his father to surrender his wand and further humiliate him, Draco knew this was the moment he grew to fear. Draco refused to watch as the Dark Lord brought the Professor closer to the table, he wouldn’t look at her, he couldn’t. But what he would stare at is the single tear that fell right in front of him as she passed.
In that moment his heart couldn’t take anymore.
‘The pressure, dear Merlin, take it away…’
He awoke with a start. He always did, just as the body crashed onto the tabletop, he would wake himself up. His heart was still working, it was currently racing as he tried to calm himself. But the pressure was still there. Not the agonizing sense of dread that usually accompanied it, but a weight still the same.
He raised his head to find a furry white mass curled up on his stomach and chest.
Draco groaned and threw and arm over his eyes. Pepper had become a frequent visitor in the Granger home, since he met him a few days ago. He remembered Granger scolding the pup for making yet another escape attempt from his yard, and the curiosity shown by both the girl and the canine as they inspected his presence.
Pepper had sat directly in Draco’s path and gave an assessing head tilt, before giving him a small bark, followed by a smiling panting of his mouth. Draco raised an eyebrow at the dog, before looking over at his human counterpart.
Granger’s brow had sculpted the opposite of his. She was frowning at the pup with a squinted eye, as though she too did not know what to make of the dog’s judgement. That look would follow the four legged beast as he would continuously follow Draco every time it decided to visit.
The groan he had projected must have woke the pup, because as he went to glare at the terrier, he was met with the cold clamminess of his nose and tongue. Draco grabbed Pepper’s collar to pull him away from attacking his face and sitting up to get the dog a further distance away. Pepper took this as a sign to get off the bed. As Draco stretched, Pepper decided to investigate the room.
Draco was used to dogs. Correction, he was used to his dogs. Two beautifully, well-trained Irish Wolf hounds roamed the halls and grounds of Malfoy Manor. Lorcan and Phelan were a birthday present when Draco turned thirteen. Although his father had purchased them to be fierce hunting companions, Lorcan and Phelan had other plans.
As puppies the two hounds were extremely playful. Many times they were scolded for chasing each other up and down the hallways of the manor, teething on his father’s furniture in his private study, and pawing at the hideous new rug his mother had purchased for the tea room. Draco loved them from the moment he received them. They brought lightness and humor into his dark world. He loved taking them out onto the grounds and letting them run through the fields to the stables. They were glorious runners. Lorcan’s black and blue fur would streak by like the night sky, and Phelan with his red and brindle tones reminded him of the forbidden forest colors in the spring.
Draco’s horses had learned over the last few years to put up with the two pups. At first, they caused chaos and destruction within the barn that would set the five horses into a fit. Phelan had found that hiding within the mounds of hay in the back of the barn, only to jump out to scare his furry twin was one of his favorite games. Although now, Phelan was taller than any of the stacks of hay, but that did not stop him from trying.
Not long after Draco had left for his third year at Hogwarts, Lucius had sought out the best trainers in southern England to come in and control the young beasts. When Draco had returned, he found his two companions more subservient, sitting at his father’s feet in the study, walking gently through the hallways, and never stepping foot into his mother’s rooms. While he felt that another set of family member were being forced to serve a higher power, he found that when it was just the three of them, out in the fields of the manor, they could just be. A young boy playing catch with his two dogs, chasing after him while he rode his broom, a sense of complete normalcy that would end the moment they stepped back into the house.
So to have this over exuberant pup, which was currently carrying one of his socks around in his mouth, be so free within a house that he didn’t even belong to, it made Draco question, what was truly normal?
Draco sighed as he lowered his hand to the floor in front of the dog.
“Give.” He commanded as he stared at Pepper.
Pepper, in return, gave a muffled huff before running out the bedroom door and presumably down the stairs.
Absolutely, utterly, and profoundly betrayed.
Knowing what she knew of Draco’s past, the acts he performed, and the choices that he made. She thought for sure Pepper would find him disagreeable. Instead he sat there on the sidewalk wagging his short tail and playfully staring at the blond next to her.
Then she watched as Draco dropped down to one knee and held out his hand for the dog to sniff before giving him a good scratch behind the ears. She had never seen him affectionate towards any animal. The eagle owl that delivered him mail always few overhead, never stopping for a stroke of the feathers or asking for a treat. The animals he encountered during Care of Magical Creatures were either sneered at or tried at hearings for death. So to watch him be so gentle with the small dog was something to behold.
“Do we take him home?” He asked as he hooked a finger under Pepper’s collar to keep him from running.
“Uh…No, Bill and Lisa are at work. We can just take him back with us.”
Hermione had called to the dog and had him up the drive to let him into the house. Little did she know that Pepper would stick around more than usual.
Hermione was leaning up against the counter eating a bowl of cereal and reading the Daily Prophet when she had the soft ticking of the dog’s nails enter the kitchen. She assumed that Malfoy had entered as well, but was surprised when it was just the small white canine with a very black sock in his mouth. After a few minutes of wrangling the footwear out of his mouth with the bribe of a fresh bowl of food, Hermione returned to the paper.
Ministry Proposed Death Eater Registration Act
Officials of the International Magical Cooperation and Magical Law Enforcement have convened over the last three works on the proposal that would require convicted Death Eaters to mandatory registration with their Ministry of Magic.
Over a month has passed since the fall of He Who Must Not Be Named, leader of the league of Death Eaters that wanted the pure lines of magic to rule over the European Wizarding community. It was not until Harry Potter had vanquished the Dark Lord on May the second that his followers have been on the run.
With the expertise of the Magical Law Enforcement, Aurors have captured a numerous amount of suggested Death Eaters. While many of them are still awaiting trials and sentencing, both departments have expressed the idea to have convicted followers register with the Ministry in order to regulate the amount and types of magic they will be allowed to perform, the positions of power they can achieve within many of the magical corporations and a yearly tax enforced upon the families for damages to the magical communities and families inflicted in the war.
‘Mandatory registration. Have these people learned nothing?’ Hermione thought as she read over the article.
Her thoughts immediately went to the guest in her house. What if you were forced to join? What if your family had the choice between death or having your child marked for servitude? So you can be tried in a court, defended by the one person that defeated the Dark Lord, found to be coerced and freed, only to have to be further humiliated by registering. It almost guaranteed no employment, and an instant draining of any money you possibly possessed. All because you were brought up to hate.
Her breathing slowed and her eyes glazed over as she kept a tight grip on her mug.
“‘Enemies of the heir beware?’ You’ll get what’s coming to you.”
“Nobody asked you, filthy little mudblood!”
“Have it your way. If you think they can’t spot a Mudblood then stay where you are." *
“Look at her cry, Draco. Filthy mudblood can’t even take a little curse. Let’s see how muddy her blood really is…”
The burning pain in her fingertips snapped her back to reality. It was then that she realized that Draco had joined them in the breakfast. He was staring at the mug she was holding a few seconds ago. The coffee inside of it was still boiling.
“Something wrong?” Henry Granger asked as he brought his bowl over to the sink while eyeing the wizarding newspaper in front of the two teens.
“What? Uh…no dad…just…” Hermione stammered.
“Just when your favorite team decides it’s best to have your third string seeker start because the other two are recovering in the hospital after a faulty bludger knocks them off their brooms. Thought the Falmouth Falcons were really going to have a chance this year.” Draco explained as he lifted the sports section of the Prophet. The picture spilt into two frames, one with a light haired, wide nosed player in a dark grey uniform being hit in the left shoulder and falling out of the frame, the other a dark haired, long faced lad that looked like a deer in headlights as flashes of light repeatedly took his picture.
“Ah, yes, bad luck that. Just like the poor young man getting a root canal from your mother today.” Mr. Granger responded as his wife gave him a light smack of the arm.
Hermione gave a small smile as she walked her cup over to the sink to drain the remaining coffee down the sink. Draco watched as she rinsed it out to pour a fresh cup. As she painstakingly prepared her new source of energy. Draco glanced at his meal choices for the morning. He had found a few days ago that one of the cereals Mr. Granger had suggested had a muggle food called bran. Apparently this food had the tendency to rid the human body of all toxins within a few hours of consumption. It had not been a pleasant morning for Draco.
He chose what seemed to be the equivalent Ogre O’s, a bland cereal that Draco like to mix bananas with. As he reached for the bananas in the middle of the counter, he was assaulted with a dark fabric. Looking down, he realized it was the sock Pepper had stolen from him that morning.
“Lose something?” Hermione had asked with a raised eyebrow.
Draco leaned to look around his classmate to find the white dog curled up on the floor by her feet.
“Yes, apparently Pepper made his way into my room last night and took it upon himself to borrow my sock.” Draco explained as he opened his banana.
“Oh, I’m the one to blame for that Draco, dear. Pepper was determined to get in last night, even if it meant he was going to claw his way through your door. He woke me up with all that racket, I was surprised you didn’t hear him, so I let him in. If it’s a bother we can bring him back to Bill and Lisa’s for the night.” Erica Granger explained.
Draco waved her off with a spoon, as speaking with a full mouth was poor manners.
Mr. and Mrs. Granger had gathered their things and left with the promise of returning later that evening with something called pizza. Draco did not know what that was, but it seemed to be a pleasant object as Mr. Granger and Hermione both smiled at the thought of it.
Pepper had awoken from his after breakfast nap and promptly went out the pet door and into the backyard. As Draco walked his bowl to the sink he saw that the dog had found a new friend pester. Granger’s cat, if you could call a walking pile of fluff a cat, had returned and was currently basking in the morning sunlight. He watched as Pepper tried to engage the feline in some form of play. But the cat simply rolled over and continued to ignore the pup’s presence.
Draco turned from the window and assessed the girl across the counter. A quiet Granger was a dangerous Granger. He could see the wheels turning in her brain, her eyes absorbing all that it could from the pages beneath her fingers.
“What happened?” he asked.
She gave a start as if she completely forgot he was in the room.
“Nn-nothing. Just more arrest warrants issued, captures, and idiotic proposals.” She answered as she folded the paper.
“Not that,” He replied as he pointed at the paper, “That.” His finger landed upon the untouched mug that was sitting on the counter.
Hermione stared at the cup and tried to come up with a convincing explanation.
“While I enjoy a good hot cuppa, one might think that was a bit…uncontrolled.” He quipped with a very convincing Snape-like pause.
Hermione squared her shoulders and tucked the paper under her arm.
“It’s nothing, Malfoy.” She turned to leave the kitchen, but before she completely exited, she turned back to him. “You might want change, we’ll be spending a great deal outdoors today.”
Draco looked down at his light blue button down shirt that he had rolled the sleeves up and dark pants.
“Where are we going?” he asked with hesitance, he and the sunlight did not always get along.
“We’ve been invited to lunch…” she started as she began down the hallway, “at the Burrow.”
* Quotes used: “‘Enemies of the heir beware?’ You’ll get what’s coming to you.” (HPCS)
“Nobody asked you, filthy little mudblood!” (HPCS)
“Have it your way. If you think they can’t spot a Mudblood then stay where you are." (HPGF)
A/N: Well, this should be fun...Let me know what you think!
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