Toward End Game
Lucius shrugged. "I was your closest friend, Tom. Your ally. Far better a right hand man than that simpering Pettigrew. Unlike the others, I believed in what we were doing; I wasn't simply hungry for the power you promised. I wanted a better world. And despite that, despite everything, I left you. Of course you regret that."
"I regret nothing."
"Touchy, touchy. But, if you say so.." Lucius yawned. "You can stop it any time, Tom. It's your Game, isn't it?"
"You don't understand. Once it starts, it can't stop. It won't stop, until the bitter end."
"You must think I'm a fool," said Lucius. "I suppose I was, for a while, but -"
"I'm telling you I can't stop it."
Lucius stared at him. The tendrils trembled about Voldemort's white skull.
"You're not bluffing," said Lucius, finally.
"I told you. I don't bluff when I'm –"
"You idiot," snarled Lucius. "You incompetent, tyrannical idiot."
Voldemort smirked, slyly – but his expression had lost some of its earlier smugness. "Your son is next," he said.
"I won't watch," said Lucius, shortly. "I won't watch that."
"I think you will," said Voldemort. "What else can you do?"
"Harry – I love you. I'm sorry. I –"
Draco screamed as Harry's body vanished, and clutched wildly at nothing.
He flung himself to the ground, his hands over his head. Voldemort had taken Harry – he'd taken all of them. Draco felt his heart break, somewhere in his shallow chest; his shoulders shook. It was as if something had been torn straight out of his body, a vital organ, and in its place – there was nothing. Draco couldn't even cry; not that Malfoys ever cried.
Except for a good reason.
Wasn't losing Harry important enough to him, then? Wasn't losing Harry – and where was Ron? Draco shuddered. He wanted Ron now; he wanted the strong comfort of Ron's body; he wanted to press himself against the man and forget everything, for a little while. He wanted Harry. He wanted – he didn't know what he wanted. His body was an open, empty place; hollow, right to the bone.
He touched his face and realised he was weeping, after all. He stared at the dim glisten on his fingertips and wondered how it had gotten there. He didn't want to cry – he knew that much. His father was counting on him to kill Voldemort – or beat Voldemort – or something. He'd destroy Voldemort first, then; and after that he could find Ron, if Ron was still alive, and he'd press himself up against Ron and just – let go.
Ron was solid. That was what mattered – he was solid in a way Harry never could be. No matter what happened, Ron would always be the same. He couldn't be molded, he wouldn't be made to fit into Draco's life, twisted into some gross shape so that Draco could use him, abuse him, without guilt or fear of conscience. Ron was – Ron..
Got to.. stop thinking.. about Ron.
Got to.. go kill.. Voldemort..
Draco pushed himself off the ground, and rose, unsteadily.
"And here's Draco Malfoy, wearing the latest from the Wizarderan collection.."
A spot-light blazed into his face, momentarily blinding him. Draco staggered.
"..what the fuck?" he began.
"You'll give him a complex," said Lucius, quietly.
"As if he doesn't already have one," Voldemort sneered.
The room was full. Despite the glaze of the lights, Draco could make out the faces, all of them turned expectantly on him. The compere said something else, his voice magnified, booming around the corners of the room. Draco stared at his feet – he was standing on a cat-walk. Milan? Paris? Draco blinked. The clothes he was wearing were definately top of the line: a suit with a flared collar – very flattering.
"The Wizarderan collection," the compere prompted.
Draco took a few, unsure steps forwards. There was scattered clapping from the crowd. Draco blinked again. He took another step forwards – there was more applause. Draco felt the beginnings of a grin spread across his face; he wasn't sure where he was, but he was beginning to enjoy himself. If this was End Game, it was a lot better than his father had made it out to be.
Pulling himself together, Draco proceeded down the cat-walk. By the end, he'd managed to muster up a coquettish smile; he completed a twirl with his hands on his hips. He was remembering back to his graduation-song, and the way that dress Harry'd bought fitted so nicely over his hips, and the way they all looked at him, as if he was –
As if he was beautiful.
As Draco reached the opposite end of the cat-walk, the clapping was deafening, almost enough to drown out the compere's next words.
"And now, Draco will model the very latest in fashion –"
"Give me a second to change, would you?" Draco muttered, about to dive off into the wings. Then he realised he was already wearing the next outfit: a slick green costume, almost skin-tight. Even better, Draco thought. He sashayed out again, grinning madly despite himself. This time he struck a pose at the end, and some of the witches in the front row swooned.
I am too fine, Draco thought. I am oh so fucking good. Oh yes.
Every time he reached the other end of the cat-walk, and was about to dodge out, his clothing changed, and the compere called out his name again. And Draco felt naturally obliged to twist and shimmy his perfect ass back out to his ecstatic public.
Who's the man. Draco's the man. Mhm. Oh, too sexy.
Draco winked, causing more than a few fainting spells in the crowd.
"Is that the boy you chose, over following me?" Voldemort sniggered. "Is that the life you wanted? With your beautiful sex-crazed wife and your self-centered, egotistical son? And your big fancy house and your simpering servants? You should be ashamed of yourself, Malfoy."
Lucius didn't reply.
"And now, Draco and the other models will make a final tour of the cat-walk, completely nude," the compere boomed.
"I will bloody what?" Draco spluttered, snapped out of his dreamy reverie. "I will bloody not – oh, crap." He felt the clothes he'd been wearing evaporate out of existence, and the burn of the spotlight against his exposed skin. He let out a horrified whine and tried to cover himself with his hands.
The crowd cheered even louder.
"..crap," said Draco again, turning bright red.
A parade of tall, thin witches exited from the wings, and the first of them, a Veela-looking creature, thrust an object into Draco's chest. He caught it with both hands, staring at her – and the crowd began to wolf whistle and stamp their feet.
"Aren't you coming, darling?" the witch asked. Her features were so stripped of flesh that she seemed almost skeletal. "The public wants you, Draco."
"Anorexic much?" Draco muttered, glancing at the object in his hands. It was a pair of silver scales, their bowls slightly green-tinged when the light struck them. He tipped them, between his index and thumb.
The witch threw back her brittle hair with one hand and laughed. "Famine for fashion, darling," she smiled. "The things we do.."
"Sickening," Voldemort jeered. "I expect you're very, very proud of him, Lucius. That simpering, pathetic little piece of –"
"I have no regrets," said Lucius.
"Then you're a fool. If he were my son, I'd –"
"He is not your son."
"Now who's being touchy," said Voldemort.
Hands gripped him. Draco had no choice; he was unceremoniously frog-marched up the cat-walk by two models who looked like walking, talking skeletons. He bit his lip as their bony fingers cut into his arms.
At the front of the cat-walk the models began to gyrate, surrounding him; the crowd was standing by this time, screaming, chanting. Draco dodged their sharp hips, but couldn't see any path out – he'd have to bear the indignity. He held the silver scales over his crotch and waited for the embarrasment to end.
All the lights went on, suddenly. Draco saw that the walls were covered in a series of mirrors, reflecting the images of the dancing models a thousand times. It was gruesome, to watch them – a parody of skin and bone, and they seemed to be becoming even thinner, now, dissipating, shrinking into themselves until they really were skeletons, and in the centre stood one unhappy looking blonde skeleton, with wide grey eyes that protruded comically from their sockets and shrunken, starved features.
The blonde skeleton shivered; he was disintegrating like the others, so emaciated that his ribs rose beneath the skin to pierce the thin membrane – he was ugly and grotesque and comical and hideous, and Draco realised that the crowd weren't cheering any longer, they were laughing, and they were laughing at –
Draco opened his mouth and screamed. In the mirror, the lips of the blonde skeleton tore up across the side of his mouth and then continued on, the flesh shredding away – not bleeding, but releasing a dry, red dust. Draco stuck out his tongue and tasted it; it tasted like nothing at all.
"What do you want me to say. That I'm disgusted with you? You know that already. You knew that even before you started to toy with my son. You knew that twenty five years ago, Tom."
"It's my Game," said Voldemort, sniggering. "I just wanted to see if you were enjoying it as much as –"
"You're no better than a school bully," said Lucius.
"And you can't stop me," said Voldemort.
Lucius looked away; he held his wand behind his back. He moved to the side of the circle, and casually leant his wand-hand over the edge.
"I know that frown, Luc. You're plotting, aren't you," said Voldemort. "It won't do you any good. You can't win."
"Maybe. Maybe not. The real Game hasn't started, yet."
"And your son is almost finished," smirked Voldemort.
On the cat-walk Draco screamed and screamed. Every time the models nudged against him parts of his body flaked away, turning to dust and ash. He could barely see – his body was deteriorating into nothingness. He tried to throw the scales from him – at anything, at any target – but they appeared stuck to his bony hand.
His legs crumbled from underneath him; he fell to his face on the floor, while the crowd laughed and pointed. He felt hollow – empty – and then nothing at all.
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