Lucius Malfoy And The Gift Of Mercy
Another knock. Remus' face twitched. For a second's span, he stood there, frozen in place; before abruptly turning tail and running out. Harry watched the man rip open the back door and dodge out into the alley behind Ron's house, too shocked to make a move to stop him. Then he was alone the door wavering on its hinges in the wake of Remus' neurotic exit.
Harry blinked. "Um," he said to fill the sudden silence.
The next knock was harder, impatient. Harry felt a temptation to follow Remus, but pushed it away. I have to be strong, he told himself, furious that he was forced to give this impromptu self-pep talk. Better sooner than later wasn't that what Draco liked to say? At some time, Harry thought, I have to face up to him. Whatever happens, it can't possibly get any worse than it already is.
He peeped out through the curtains again. Serverus and Draco were still outside; Draco had raised his wand and was pointing it at the door. He was beginning to mouth the first word of a spell "Alhomera," Harry thought.
Standing there gormlessly in the kitchen, with the heat gusting in through the open back door, a notion struck him. Why was Draco here, anyway? To admit defeat? To admit he cared? Harry's stomach churned at the possibility. Draco had never, ever, followed him before. It was an unspoken understanding between them the moment Harry ran, he was on his own. It was always Harry's fault, and it was always Harry who had to crawl back and plead for forgiveness..
So if Draco had decided to do the crawling this time..
Harry grabbed a spoon off the table and stared at his distorted reflection. His teeth looked a little on the yellow side he hadn't been in the mood to get into a decent dental regime since he'd left the manor. He rubbed his thumb over his canines, in leiu of flossing. He needed a haircut, too, he thought. He always needed a haircut.
Running his hands through the messy scruff of his dark hair, he tried gamely to tame it into any shape which didn't resemble a dandelion. He was still staring grimly at his face in the spoon when he heard the front door slam open. Turning on his heel, he straightened, and gazed steadily down the hall way.
"Gosh. That was a little too hard. I think I might have broken the hinges. Thank goodness it wasn't a particulary nice door. And thank goodness I don't particulary like Lupin, too."
Draco's voice drawled up the passageway to him. Harry put his hands firmly on his hips. He found that he was tapping one foot impatiently on the floor and stopped abruptly. Too Draco, that. He made do with padding his fingers against his waist.
"If it turns out he's not here," said Serverus, "Lupin should still have records somewhere. I don't put it past him to get in touch with Potter you know how outcasts have a tendancy to seek refuge with each other. We should find something a hint of where the man is."
"How wonderfully devious." Harry could picture Draco's leer.
"I prefer to think of it as morally disinclined."
"I wonder if they have running water in here," Draco murmered. "I would kill for a shower. How'd that look on the Ministry records? Breaking and entering and showering. My stars oh."
He stopped short at the end of the hallway, and stared. His features were so pale they seemed almost translucent; his grey eyes wide caught in an immobile expression of surprise and shock.
"Well, look what the Slytherin dragged in," said Harry. He couldn't help himself.
Serverus rounded the corner, and stared over Draco's head. "Mission completed," he muttered, into Draco's ear. "I've no desire to see this I'll wait outside."
He withdrew Harry heard him struggling to close the broken door. Draco still hadn't moved.
"Well?" said Harry. He was tapping his foot again.
Draco's mind was a babble of accusations and apologies. Fuck Harry Potter, he thought, angrily. If I'd had the time I would have fixed up a wonderful speech I hate entering unprepared.
He relaxed slightly; he forced himself to. It was best to act casual. Or as casually as he could after he'd travelled half way across the world and broken down a door. He felt like an utter fool he suspected Harry knew it, too. Harry's lips were compressed; his face appeared utterly serious, but Draco suspected that this was a facade, and beneath it all Harry was trying very hard not to burst out into hysterical laughter.
It was strange, seeing Harry again. It had only been a fortnight since he'd seen Harry, but the mental picture Draco had developed in his boyfriend's absence had rather more in the way of sculpted muscle and rather less in the way of bony elbows. And Draco's mental-Harry had more of a tan. The real Harry looked as if he'd spent the past eight years in a coffin.
I travelled half way around the world for that-? Draco thought, incredulously. What the hell was I thinking?
"Draco?" said Harry, patiently. He was being horribly smug. "Do you have anything to tell me?"
Draco narrowed his eyes. "Yes, you stupid git," he snapped. "You need a fucking hair cut."
Aaah, went Remus Lupin.
He was pacing the alley outside the house, back and forth like an unchecked pendulum, wringing his hands all the while. He felt light-headed and giddy, and at the same time as if someone had shot his veins through with a congealing agent. It was as if he was having to operate his body and decision processes from several miles away, after drinking seven bottles of unadulterated spirits.
He tripped over the end of his robe and almost went flying into a group of kids playing some skipping game further along the dirt road. They scattered, squeaking, and he picked himself up, shaking his head. He's never had this effect on me before, Remus thought, unhappily. Not since school. Then again, he hasn't been so close to me for eleven years.
Twelve years, eight months, and four days.
The knowledge that Serverus and Lucius had probably spoken at length about him wasn't helping the matter any. Wolf-boy, they'd called him. Remus recalled, with a suddeness, the details of Lucius and Narcissa's bet. They'd had fun together, those two, setting each up for new conquests, new dares. First one to do a Marauder. First one to do a member of the opposite sex. First one Remus winced at Lucius' terminology to do livestock.
It was a seemingly random encounter and Remus guessed in retrospect that Lucius had spent weeks planning it. Three months before his final exams Lucius had walked up to him in the hall way, and without any prelude or inquiry pushed him into the lockers. He was to swift for Remus to resist. You know what I did to Potter, the elder Malfoy whispered, his breath chilly against Remus' ear. I can do it to you, too.
What? Remus asked. Attach my dick to my thigh? Magick my underwear over my robe?
You fool. Wolf boy, wolf-bratling. Yes, Serverus told me. He tells me everything. He told me about you, too. He hates you.
You hate me too, Remus pointed out. His back was arched against the metal lockers, with one of the enchanted padlocks digging into the base of his spine.
Maybe. But that's never stopped me before.
Stopped you doing oh. Erk. You um. Oh.
You have Dark Arts. I have Transmogrification. I'm smart enough to get away with missing a class and so are you. And I bet you haven't seen the Slytherin dormitory before.
No I um.
I don't have all day. It's all or nothing, boy and it's now or never.
Remus had followed. Witlessly. He'd been horribly naive. In the end, he hadn't just ended up missing Dark Arts, but Divination class too, and History of Magic, and lunch and supper, and almost bumped into the caretaker on his stumbling route back to the Gryffindor room.
The following morning he went to the infirmary his entire body was bruised, his muscles aching. Proffesor Roulane had applied poultices, and chosen wisely not to ask questions. Remus was grateful for that. If she'd said a word, he knew he would have burst into tears.
Later he heard Narcissa snickering to Serverus about it. They were in Potions class talking in whispers, but Remus, a desk behind them, heard everything. Serverus looked both repulsed and amused.
He's winning, now, she'd said, tossing the blonde length of her hair over her shoulder. Eight to seven. I have to get him back.
How? Serverus asked.
Well, what are you doing after dinner tonight? Narcissa asked.
That was the first time Remus had ever truly hated anyone. Before he'd only felt a mild dislike an annoyance. Now he could barely restrain himself from picking up his test-tube and hurling it at Narcissa's pretty blonde head. Since that day he'd despised the two Malfoys it was a lingering hatred, maturing with age until it became a part of him, ingrained, internalised. Even the idea that Harry was in love with the Malfoys' son caused him to grimace. But Draco was never, could never possibly be as cruel as Lucius and Narcissa were.
He dusted off his hands, standing in the alley, his mind enflamed with the shame of his past. He couldn't cope; he couldn't deal with it. Remus groaned, faintly. What he needed, right now, he felt, was a stiff drink.
"Mistress H, was it?" Narcissa sipped her champagne. "What a lovely name. Do you pronounce it aych or haych?"
"Haych." Hermione slapped her ridingcrop impatiently against her palm. She felt like a traitor to Harry almost. But business was business. It wasn't as if she was planning to include Draco in this little soiree where ever the man was. "I don't usually do housecalls, you understand," she said. "Where did you say your husband was?"
"Lucius is in the basement, playing with our Veela," said Narcissa. "He's rather over-excited by all this. We are expecting a grandchild."
"Our little boy Draco procreated this morning," said Narcissa, smiling delicately. "In nine months time we'll have a new wizard in the family. We're thinking of the name Tobias Lucius do you like it?"
Hermione's heart skipped a beat. Draco cheated on Harry? Really cheated, this time? She swallowed, maintaining her cool exterior. "How do you know it'll be a wizard?" she asked. "It could be a witch. Or a squib, even."
Narcissa's eyes grew flinty there was a terse edge to her voice. "The Malfoys do not have squib offspring," she said, smartly. "And we are very certain our child will be a boy. Thank you very much."
The Malfoys evidently weren't aware of her connection to Harry and Draco, Hermione was swiftly realising. She wasn't about to bring it up that would result in too many questions, but she had to ask: "I thought Draco Malfoy was ah, gay? I think I read something about it in the papers."
"Yes," said Narcissa. "But he understands how important this is to his family. I do like your corset. From Witchoria on Diagon, is it? I have a similar one far more expensive, of course."
"But he had has a boyfriend, doesn't he?" Hermione persisted.
Narcissa raised an elegantly shaped eyebrow. "You do ask an awful lot of questions," she drawled.
"And I expect them answered," said Hermione, automatically, smacking the crop into her palm. "Talk, bitch."
The blonde woman let out an exquisite laugh, and set down her glass. "My word," she murmured. "You are marvellous. Well Mistress H I do admit we did have to make a rather large effort in order to convince Draco that it was in his best interests to copulate. But being locked up with the Veela does have a habit of making people more open to suggestion. If you understand me; and I'm sure that you do." She winked.
My gods, thought Hermione. I don't blame Draco for turning out the way he did. If you had a woman like this breathing down your neck for twenty five years, anyone would end up loopy. She pictured Draco, scrawny and delicate, chained down while some Malfoy or another had their evil way with him; all the while shouting out Harry's name.
No, Hermione thought, I don't blame him at all.
"Surely that's a little harsh," she said.
"My dear girl," said Narcissa Malfoy. "I thought you being a dominatrix would understand. Sometimes it is necessary to ah, to use force to make people understand what is best for them."
"Or what's best for you," Hermione snapped, before she could stop herself.
"The two, I have found, are almost always synonymous," Narcissa drawled, extending her slim legs infront of her. She looked like a model she couldn't possibly be over fourty, Hermione thought. There wasn't a line on Narcissa's oval face; the only signs of age Hermione could see were in the depths of her eyes their silver sheen seemed somehow vacant, empty.
They reminded Hermione of something old and dead. She shuddered.
"Are you going to stand there talking all day, darling?" Narcissa asked.
"I thought we were waiting for your husband," said Hermione.
"I don't see why we can't begin without him," Narcissa purred. "After all, we are paying you by the hour. Come here, Mistress H."
In another situation, Hermione would have balked at this clear order. But to her horror she found herself compliantly following Narcissa's leads, like a common whore, rather than a trained, professional dominatrix. Meek as a kitten, she came to stand before Narcissa; awed and lured by the woman's inherent cruelty, her incredible beauty. Without a crack in her smile, Narcissa clicked her fingers once, and Hermione fell willessly to her knees.
Narcissa reached for the riding crop, and gently pulled it from Hermione's twitching hand. As Hermione knelt there, Narcissa ran the leather tip across the woman's jaw to her ear, then let it trail along the curve of Hermione's neck, running the length of her jugular.
"It's a shame you aren't prettier," said Narcissa. "But we will do the best we can with what we have. Won't we, Mistress H."
The crop trailed lower, to pause at the black lace edging of Hermione's corset.
"Take it off."
Hermione's hands moved to the silver clips which held the garment together. She was too unnerved to even pretend to be sultry, to play to Narcissa's attentive audience. Her fingers were clumsy over the buttons she drew the material apart, and handed it to Narcissa.
"My stars," the blonde whispered and there was that tinkling laugh of hers again. She accepted the black wrap of cloth and laid it on the floor. "How amusing you are. You're just a girl, aren't you, Mistress H?"
"No," said Hermione. "No I'm a "
"A little girl who likes to play dress-ups and pretend that she has power." Narcissa shook her head, smiling. "You must have had a terrible childhood."
"My childhood was wonderful, thank you very much."
"So many high expectations," Narcissa purred, ignoring Hermione's interjection. "So many people to impress."
"I do this for me," Hermione snapped.
"No," said Narcissa, taking Hermione's head between her smooth palms, and staring deeply into Hermione's guiless dark eyes. "No, Mistress H. Now you do this for me."
Kissing Narcissa Malfoy, Hermione thought in a vague, dreamy way was a little like how she'd imagined kissing Draco would be. Hard, vicious, and needy. It was like pressing her lips to a vacuum.
Serverus wasn't in the mood to see the lovers reunite. Reunions were always disgustingly pathetic, anyway. Especially when they involved Gryffindors. Or high school sweethearts. Or whatever it was Draco and Harry were Serverus didn't like to speculate.
He was quite the spectacle on the street, in his robes, with his sallow skin. Passerbys gave him odd stares and left him a wide berth and he was quite certain the two grandmothers on the porch of the house opposite were talking about him in Xhosa. He grunted he hated to stand out in a crowd, which was why he rarely ventured outside of magical circles. What he needed right now, he felt, was a decent drink.
Walking down a barely paved road he found a pub or what sufficed as one. Ron lived on the outskirts of the city's boundaries if Serverus looked back he could see the corrugated iron roofing of the slum areas. The pub was a house, really, not a proper pub at all, and the only thing that suggested it was a drinking hole was the picture of a bottle on the cardboard sign outside.
Serverus sighed, and pushed open the gate. He'd some converted Muggle money in his pocket for emergencies such as this, and he jingled it as he pulled the door wide.
The patrons looked up as one, staring at the dark-robed figure in the door. There was an abrupt halt to their chatter, a heavily pregnant pause. Serverus glowered. He was about to exit again, when a sudden voice broke the silence.
Serverus squinted into the corner, at the bedraggled creature who'd risen from his table, and now stood, wavering and tanned, waiting for Serverus to acknowledge him.
Remus Wolf-boy Lupin.
"My goodness," said Serverus, haltingly. "What's a man like you doing in a nice place like this."
"Be serious, Draco."
"I am being serious. Your hair looks like you just crawled out of a hedgehog backwards."
Harry paused, considering this metaphor.
"You know what I mean," Draco hissed.
"Sure I do," said Harry. "I'll go down to the hairdressers now, shall I? Perhaps then you'll leave me alone."
Draco's ears were beetroot red. His entire body was bunched up, his shoulders hunched, every nerve wired for an explosion. He was grating his teeth Harry could hear the scraping noise as several hundred galleons worth of dental work began to erode. Harry waited, patiently, his arms crossed over his chest.
Any time now, he thought. Any time
"I love you you fucking shit and I'm sorry for what I've done but you still fucking deserved it and I hate you for throwing the snitch and you never even tried to understand me you prick and I don't know why I bother when you don't even try to pretend you love me and I wish you'd just die but you won't and I don't really want you to and "
Draco took a deep breath.
" Ron meant absolutely nothing to me and I don't know why I did it only you shit me to tears and I'm going nuts without you and I can't believe you're being so fucking smug about all this and why didn't you come back it's not as if I was really trying to hurt you I never mean it anyway and you should know that by now it's just that you never tell me and I never know and you threw the fucking "
Another deep breath.
" snitch and that meant everything to me and how the hell am I supposed to trust you when you play me around like that and I cheated on you while you were gone but I was forced to and so it doesn't count and if you hold it against me I'll kill myself and I will too I'm not just saying it and stop looking at me like that and so what I missed you like you didn't miss me and "
" this isn't fair all I want is that you come back and it'll be okay again I promise and I'll never ever fuck you around again I swear to the gods I won't just please please please fuck I'm begging you now you want for me to get on my knees and say it I bet you'd like that but I won't but I'm still begging you will you please fucking come back Harry please."
He stood there, shaking; he was staring at his feet now, inspecting the toes of his dragon-hide boots.
"I'll kill myself," said Draco, in a very small voice. "I will, too." He scuffed his toes against the peeling linoleum.
"Was that an apology?" Harry asked.
"Okay you fuck it was a goddam apology and I'm sorry look I told you I was fucking sorry and I don't know how to make it better but I'll try okay the gods know I try and please please please.."
He trailed off. He stared at the floor.
"Do you love me, Harry?" he asked.
"You know I do."
"Are you coming back with me?"
"I don't know."
Draco made a choking noise, and put his hands over his face.
"If I do, we'll have to make some changes," said Harry, relenting.
"We're going to have to have a very long talk about it," Harry warned.
"Okay." Draco's voice was muffled.
"This is your last chance, Draco. Our last chance, rather."
"Next time I'll go somewhere you can't find me. Ever."
"But first "
"Come here. Let me hold you."
Draco collapsed against Harry's chest, a thin bundle of neurosis, and shuddered there, his arms squeezed up into his ribcage, his hands remaining over his face. Even Draco couldn't cry gracefully, Harry thought. He held Draco upright, squeezing him gently, feeling every quake that ripped Draco's body echo itself in his own.
He felt a strange euphoria there, in the clutter of Ron's kitchen. Despite Draco's weight against him, Harry couldn't remember the last time he'd felt so free.
Serverus leant his elbows on the table, and stared Remus squarely in the eye. "I have to tell you, Lupin," he said, in a tense voice, "that you're in grave danger."
"If you don't take your hand off my thigh right now," Serverus sneered, "I will have to do very nasty things to you. You do understand, don't you."
"Wise move, wolf-boy." Serverus withdrew, trying his best to get comfortable on the hard wooden seat a far cry from the Malfoys' leather-lined armchairs.
"Can you not call me that?" Remus said, miserably.
"A pretty complaint from a would-be murderer, wouldn't you say?"
"You know I couldn't help it. I can't help it, when I'm like that. I mean " Remus was aware his words were falling on deaf ears. He sighed. "Go on. Tell me what Lucius Malfoy said about me. Tell me how much you laughed about it all. I don't care any more."
Serverus was slightly taken aback. "Laughed about it? Hardly," he said, misunderstanding Remus' inference. "Though we did have a long discussion about the Transgender potion."
"Oh that." Remus sighed.
"Yes, that," said Serverus, shortly. "Even now, I can't begin to tell you how utterly disgusting that idea of yours was. I'm glad it backfired on you so badly."
"Hah. Yes. The damn thing blew up in our faces," Remus agreed. "I mixed up the potions but you already know that, don't you? Got the Transgender and the explosive stink bomb recipes turned around. James and Sirius smelt like fish for three weeks."
" excuse me?" said Serverus.
Remus glanced up. "I thought you knew what happened," he said. "We accidentally made a stink bomb instead of the Transgender potion. Though I'm thankful, in retrospect, our original plan didn't work. I'm not surprised Lucius is still angry about it. It was a very cruel idea "
"You're telling me the Transgender potion didn't work?"
Remus blinked. "Well yes " he admitted. "I was never any good at Potions, anyway "
Serverus stared at him. "Lucius Malfoy," he whispered. "You asshole."
Remus shrugged, unhappily. "I've been saying that for years," he mumbled.
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