dgfiaexchange (dgfiaexchange) wrote in dgficexchange,

The Deteriorating Psyche, for Pan: Part 1

For pan
The Deteriorating Psyche, Part 1

Rating: NC-17
Possible Spoilers/Warnings: Sexual situations, mild language, spoilers for Deathly Hallows
Author’s Notes:
Summary: The Malfoy family attempts to recover after the Battle of Hogwarts, and restore the Malfoy name.

Chapter One

As far as Draco was aware, the Malfoy Manor was at least partially sentient. The Manor had been in his family’s possession for ages, but somehow it seemed that he was the only person to ever have spent his entire childhood there. His father had inherited the house after he married Narcissa. The grandfather (Draco’s great-grandfather) Lucius had inherited it from had inherited it himself shortly after the birth of Lucius’ father, who spent the majority of his childhood with his mother in France. Draco’s great-grandparents had despised one another, and had an agreement wherein they did not have to interact or see each other except for on Christmas and the occasional family get-together. Any farther than that, Draco was unsure. The Malfoy family history was a murky and unclear one, with countless revisions and rewritings erasing past failure. Still, as far as Draco could tell, he was the first in the line to have lived his entire life—from babe to current age, that is—in the Malfoy Manor.

Which is why, of course, he felt he knew it better than anyone. Children—even supposedly high-born and well-mannered ones—are especially apt at finding each and every small place they could possibly wedge themselves into. As the only (living) person to have entirely grown up inside the Manor, Draco thought he could say with little shadow of a doubt that it was at least partially sentient.

The first time he had thought such a thing had been when he was six. Mother and Father were having one of their countless fights in the drawing room. Draco had heard their raised voices as he passed nearby in the hall. Eager to stay out of it, lest he be asked his opinion and pulled into the row, he promptly turned around and ducked inside the first door he could find, only to find that the door opened onto the hall he had just left. Confused, he realized that he was facing the door to the drawing room. He looked behind him, into the doorway he had just stepped out of, only to find himself looking into the drawing room. His mother was crying and gesturing wildly at the floorboards beneath her feet, voice high and distressed. His father was angry, making frightening slashing motions with his hands that made Draco afraid Mother was going to get hurt.

Draco had hastily backed out of the doorway and into the hall—the hall he should have left. He let the door close softly behind him and dashed down the hall, stopping when he reached a trapdoor that definitely hadn’t been there before. He pulled it open with every intention of jumping inside, only to see that a long, long drop ended in the drawing room. He watched from a distance as his mother gestured to the floorboards again. They had to be at least three floors down, they were so far away.

The pattern had continued, with every possible escape Draco could find either leading to the drawing room or to the hallway right outside of the door to the drawing room. Finally, after what had seemed like forever to the frightened six-year-old, he called for a house-elf, who Apparated them to Draco’s room, brought him a cup of tea, and drew him a bath.

Throughout Draco’s childhood, he found this happen several times, with varying intensity and obviousness—that wherever in the house he wanted to be least, he always seemed to end up. As he got older, he managed to find if there was somewhere in the Manor that he really didn’t want to be, the way to avoid being there was to pretend that that was the one place he really wanted to go. The trick was not as effective when the Dark Lord had become a guest of the Manor’s, because then Draco hadn’t wanted to be in the Manor at all, couldn’t bear to be so close to the Dark Lord, and had therefore found himself able to move about the Manor at will, but unable to leave. At the time he had told himself that he had nowhere to go, anyway, and would have never been permitted to simply leave.

Since then, the trick hadn’t quite worked the same. Draco had come to hate the frustration and fear the Manor made him feel, and attempted to use the trick at regular intervals so as not to incite the magic.

He was vaguely reminded of the staircases at Hogwarts, which always seemed to change to the exact opposite direction he had needed to go. Especially the night of the Battle of Hogwarts, the stairs had always seemed to lead him into the most dangerous part of the fighting.

Draco admitted to himself that he lived in fear of the Manor he would one day inherit.

After the Battle of Hogwarts, the Malfoys had sat quietly by themselves in the Great Hall while the others celebrated. Draco had felt lost, conflicted, and trapped. His mother was speaking in hurried, hushed tones about whether McGonagall would be Headmistress now that Snape had passed, and whether she would allow Draco to come back to Hogwarts next year to make up for the gap in his education.

Lucius had sniffed but not graced her with a reply. Neither of Draco’s parents looked like their usual, pristine selves. Narcissa’s hair had come out of its up-do and Lucius was unshaven and covered in dirt. For the moment, at least, the façade had slipped and the weary adults hiding underneath were exposed. They still spoke and sneered like the parents he had grown up with, but they exhibited an amount of warmth, gratitude, and hope he was unused to seeing.

Draco had stared at his hands, unsure of what to do with himself. Eventually his mother had stood and approached McGonagall concerning Draco’s education, despite the inappropriate timing, and then they had returned to the Manor.

Draco had been surprised the castle had let them leave without retribution, and even more surprised when the Ministry had done so as well. Neither he nor his father had been sent to Azkaban, almost solely because of the actions of his mother. Narcissa’s betrayal of the Dark Lord had surprised him—although she had never supported the Dark Lord, Draco hadn’t thought she possessed the stones or will to outright lie to him.

The month of May had passed in a blur of trials and testimonies, the three Malfoys pointing fingers and naming names and drinking Veritaserum to ensure that the few supporters of the Dark Lord remaining received life sentences to Azkaban. Mostly, their complete compliance was to ensure that they themselves did not go to Azkaban, but it didn’t really matter, and the Wizengamot, apparently, didn’t care. After the testimonies and the bribes and the trials were all over, Draco found himself in the Manor for the summer, with both parents cleared of all charges and one more year of Hogwarts before him. As outcomes go, Draco realized that the Malfoys got better than they ever could have hoped for.

And yet, something in him was disappointed, and his summer was shaping up to be a miserable one.


“Draco?” Draco looked up into the wide, grey eyes of his mother.

“Yes, Mother?” he asked politely.

She hesitated, placing her fork back onto the tablecloth with great care. “I said your name three times, Draco,” she said in a small voice. Draco knew that she was overjoyed that the war was over, regardless of the outcome, and that (miraculously) neither her husband nor her son had been taken from her life. Still, as the month of May dragged on, her voice had gotten quieter and her frame had gotten smaller and the places under her eyes had gotten darker.

“I’m sorry, Mother. I must have been lost in my thoughts.” He took great care to match the volume of his voice to hers.

“You haven’t touched your breakfast,” she said.

Draco blinked, as if for the first time realizing that he was sitting with his mother in the dining room. Before him the table was set with a large breakfast spread of every possible dish in front of him and a conspicuously empty place setting where his father should be. He glanced down at his own plate and to the food slowly cooling on it, untouched by fork, hand, or mouth.

“The Summer Solstice is approaching. Your father and I have decided to throw the annual gala as per usual.”

Draco nodded. “The guest list this year will be different, I’m sure.” The decision stunned him. All of the usual guests were either dead or in Azkaban. He prodded at his plate absently with his fork. The nice silver felt heavy in his hand, as if it had magnetized to the table.

His mother paused, and he met her eyes guiltily. He hadn’t meant to upset her. But she merely cleared her throat and inclined her head. “The invitations have already been sent out. To the Minister and his associates, the Hogwarts’ staff, some of your old schoolmates, the Weasleys, Miss Granger, and Mr Potter, among some others.”

Draco swallowed. “Mother, I loathe to be unkind, but, to be blunt, most of my old schoolmates despise me, not to mention how Potter, Granger, and Weasley feel towards me.” He felt his face begin to heat with the admission and attempted to school his complexion into one of bland indifference. The last time he had seen Potter and the other two, he had been pleading with a Death Eater—he wasn’t sure who, they had been wearing a mask—that he was loyal to the Dark Lord. And Weasley had saved his life, for the second time that night.

Narcissa put down her fork carefully, so as not to let it make a sound against the china. “I understand your situation, for it is one that I myself face as well. We need to make new acquaintances, new allies, new friends. Please, for my sake, see this party as a treaty towards those we have invited. And I expect you to be on your best behaviour.” Her sharp eyes scanned his face for a change in his expression, but Draco had long ago mastered the art of fooling his mother.

“I will, Mother,” he said. The way she talked made his stomach turn. “New allies.” It was as if in her mind, the war was still going on. As if in her mind, it was only beginning. Narcissa Malfoy had not grown up particularly rich or powerful. She had come from a decent family but there was no doubt that she had married above her station. She had adjusted well, learning to forge alliances and somehow keep herself neutral. To allow her husband and sister to get close to the Dark Lord without ever taking the Dark Mark herself. To play the game from afar, and puppet her husband into good standing in the Ministry. No doubt she felt broken and empty with all of her old connections in Azkaban or out of favour. No doubt she hoped to get in nicely with Minister Shacklebolt and Arthur and Percy Weasley. No doubt she also wanted Draco to get into good standing with Potter, and for Lucius to play his cards right and be seen as a repentant wizard, one who had seen the error of his ways in the eleventh hour.

Draco resented her manipulation, and hated that she was right. The Ministry would stop preforming regular searches on the Manor when they trusted the Malfoys again. The press would stop their smear campaign of the Malfoy name when the Malfoys gave them enough extravagant parties to cover. The general public would stop whispering when the Malfoys donated enough new wings to St. Mungo’s, threw enough charity galas, built enough memorial bridges to Dumbledore, the gigantic dead git. Restoring the family name was going to be a very expensive endeavour.

The last time he had gone to Diagon Alley, the papers had enjoyed a field day speculating over what dark, dangerous plots he could be hatching with the various items he had picked up, including a new pewter caldron and some textbooks. He had simply been trying to catch up on his studies before the start of term in September. Beside the article outlining his past—including affiliation with Death Eaters and speculation over whether he had actually received the Dark Mark—had been a picture of the remaining Weasley twin and a few other people, standing in front of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Draco had recognized Lee Jordan, who used to commentate the Hogwarts’ Quidditch games, and the youngest Weasley, standing with her long, dull hair and a grim expression that had made him shudder. He’d scanned the article, which basically said that George Weasley was taking on Lee Jordan as a new business partner (to replace his dead twin) before it delved into the personal lives of the WWW employees, especially Ginny Weasley, the once-girlfriend of the famous Harry Potter. From what he could tell, the article hadn’t been particularly nice to her, which more than explained her picture’s expression.

Narcissa rose from the table, apparently finished with her breakfast. She had hardly eaten a thing. Draco stood too and watched her leave the room. Her ice-blue robes swished around her feet gracefully, but besides that she moved silently. When Draco was a child, she’d always been able to catch him at mischief, sneaking up on him silently. To this day, he still was unsure if it was just the way she walked or if she charmed her shoes into silence every morning.

The Summer Solstice Gala. Because of course, that was the family way: what you couldn’t get with charm and good looks, you bought. The party was a show of good faith to the wizard community, after all. An after party to celebrate the Malfoys’ buying their way out of Azkaban.

Any day now his mother would announce the statue she was commissioning of Saint Potter or some rubbish. Draco huffed and stared at his untouched breakfast. The Summer Solstice was less than a month away. No doubt the invitations had been sent out weeks ago, maybe even before Lucius and Draco had been fully cleared, without either of them being informed of Narcissa’s plans. Doubtless Lucius had been informed last night or this morning, hence his absence at breakfast.

It was then, staring at the untouched breakfast spread, realizing that his father’s absence was indicative of his father’s wrath, that Draco decided he needed to spend the day away from the Manor.

He turned to exit the dining room. The walk to the door seemed to take ages and the trek to his room still longer. It was like walking through honey as he passed the hall that led to his parents’ chambers. That hallway always seemed darker than the rest of the house to Draco, despite the fact that his parents’ bedroom had huge bay windows that looked out upon the gardens. As he stared down its long expanse, the hallway seemed to stretch wide; the pictures on the walls tilted forward and the floor reflected the flickering candlelight. With a shake of his head, he concentrated on making it to the stairs and then to his bedroom. It was like walking in slow motion. He was aware of attempting a quicker pace, but his legs would only move so fast. When he finally reached his room, the doorknob was warm as if someone had just touched it, and it seemed to be locked. He slammed his weight against the door three times before it flung open, hitting the interior wall with such force that the doorknob left a hole the size of a child’s hand. Great, now his shoulder hurt and he’d pissed off the Manor. Draco surveyed the hole and memories of his childhood in the Manor flooded his head. Back then, the halls had seemed so much larger, the dining room table so much longer, his parents so much more distant. Shaking his head again, he repaired the wall with a wave of his wand.

Draco closed the door softly and walked to his closet to pick out his robes for the day. His closet was something that used to bring him great joy; it was larger on the interior than on the exterior, housing the finest robes, trousers, shoes, gloves, and hats that money could buy. Not that he’d ever worn half of the clothing he owned, spoiled brat that he was. He surveyed the massive expanse of clothing laid out before him and managed to find something unacceptable about each article.

Draco stuck his forehead with his palm. “Out of my head, dammit,” he hissed to the richly carpeted floor. The Manor and its tricks again, always attempting to make him stay. Frustrated, he grabbed some robes at random. He slammed the door to the closet shut, strode across the room, and flung his robes on his bed. As he changed, he thought about where he would go. Diagon Alley? He could buy himself lunch and spend the day studying in Flourish and Blotts. Maybe, but the last time he’d gone to Diagon Alley he’d ended up in The Daily Prophet. Maybe he should go to Hogsmeade? He might be spotted in the Three Broomsticks, and would probably be thrown out. The Hog’s Head, then?

Damn it all to hell, but he was going to have to disguise himself if he wanted to go anywhere where they actually cleaned their cups. He crossed to the mirror above his dresser and grabbed his wand. If only he’d some Polyjuice Potion. That would be so much easier. After a great deal of time spent in front of the mirror and a lot of reversals, he was satisfied with his appearance. He’d darkened his hair so that it was a light brown colour and purposefully left it uncombed. He’d changed his eye colour so that it was hazel—he’d been going for blue but his wand didn’t seem to be having it today. He supposed it was because it was still fairly new to him. He’d only been allowed to go shopping for a new wand two weeks ago. After several smaller changes to his bone structure, he decided he was finished. To himself, he still looked very much like Draco Malfoy, but to the press he probably wouldn’t stand out. Even if they decided to take pictures of him, they’d be useless. He resembled a relation of Seamus Finnigan now more than a Malfoy.

Satisfied with his new appearance, he grabbed a cloak and a textbook and headed to his door, which, once again, was stuck. It eventually opened after much strain on Draco’s part and ran into his foot when it finally relented. Draco hissed in pain and anger and had to resist kicking the door. Displays of anger should be left to children, and he wasn’t a child anymore. He exited his room and sighed. The hallways seemed longer than they should have been, the stairs steeper. When he finally reached the front hall he glanced at the clock to determine how long his disguise would last. He blinked and walked closer to the longcase. Almost seven o’clock? That couldn’t be right. Draco stomped his foot and cursed under his breath. The Manor had slowed time in his room. It was the only explanation. Frustrated, Draco stormed to the front doors, pulling hard to open them. They, too, appeared stuck. When he finally got the door open and stepped out into the warm sunlight, he breathed deeply.

The tall hedges in front of the Manor had always struck him as odd. Ever since his fourth year they had reminded him of the third task in the Triwizard Tournament, the one Diggory had died in. But then again, everything reminded him of death nowadays. So many people had died. So few had lived.

With a shake of his head, he Disapparated.


The Leaky Caldron was crowded. Draco had a relatively easy time ordering dinner and a glass of Oak-Matured Mead and settling himself into a dark corner to begin reading his Arithmancy textbook. So far, no one had recognized him, not even the pretty redheaded girl who’d brought him his ploughman’s. He’d just finished both his dinner and the chapter on the Chaldean method when a noise made him look up.

“Wot you mean, you don’t have Ogden’s Old? What the hell am I supposed to drink?” The girl at the bar slammed her fist against the counter, making Tom jump.

“I’m sorry, miss, we just ran out. We’ve got Blishen’s if you’d like?”

She tipped her head side to side. Draco guessed she was probably rolling her eyes, too. “Fine. Fine, fine, fine.” She waited until Tom had turned his back to get the Firewhisky before she held up two fingers in a V.

Draco laughed despite himself. The girl turned with a whirl of black locks and stared at him, eyebrows raised. “Something funny?” she said, putting a hand on her hip.

Draco grinned. “Tom,” he called to the landlord. “Would you put the lady on my tab?”

The lady opened her mouth, probably to protest, but Tom appeared at her elbow and set her Firewhisky down. “Yes, sir,” he called to Draco.

The girl looked between the two, and her mouth twisted. Eventually she huffed, grabbed her drink, and walked over to where Draco was sitting. She pulled out the chair across from him so that the feet dragged across the stone floor with an unpleasant sound.

“So what’s your name?” she asked, plopping down into the wooden chair. Draco dragged his gaze up from his textbook to her chocolate eyes. Panic gripped his chest when he realized that his lips were forming the “M” of his surname.

“Why do you need to know?” he asked lightly, feigning nonchalance.

Her eyebrows scrunched down and together and she stared. “I think that I should know the name of the man who is buying my drinks. I plan to have many of them. As for me, you can call me Druella.”

Draco raised an eyebrow. That was an old name. His grandmother’s, in fact. Perhaps she was taking it from an ancestor. “Then you can call me Erasmos.”

She raised a dark eyebrow and rested her chin on her hand. “How very dramatic of you. Do you really think I’m such a sure thing?”

Draco smirked. “Don’t you know? Girls with loud mouths and a taste for Firewhisky are always sure things.”

Druella tilted her head, as if observing or making a conclusion about him. With a small smile, she picked up and knocked back the entirety of her Firewhisky. “Another! On the gentleman’s tab!” she cried, turning to the bar and raising her glass. Tom caught her eye and nodded.

Druella set down her glass with a laugh like the tinkling of small bells and pointed at his textbook. “You look too old to go to Hogwarts, or is it just that you’ve poor spellwork?”

Draco snapped his textbook closed. “I’m neither. I want to look this way,” he lied.

Druella said, “Your disguise doesn’t become you, dear boy.”

“Well, then, neither does yours,” he lied, lifting his chin. She laughed again, the sound of small wind chimes. She obviously knew just how well the long dark hair went with the pale, unblemished skin. Those dark eyes stared out from the blank expanse of her face, with little crinkles around the edges when she smiled. Druella was very nice to look at. He wondered how much of her was real.

“How do you know I’m in disguise?” she asked.

Draco lifted an eyebrow. His anonymity was making him feel bold. If he made a fool of himself, what did it matter? This face would be gone forever in a few hours. Draco was good at charms, but he doubted he could recreate his appearance now without a reference portrait. “Obviously you’re a Hogwarts student if you recognized the textbook, and probably someone about to take the same Arithmancy course as I. Which means that I should recognize you, but I don’t. Also, you’ve made it clear that Druella is not your real name. Who’s to say your face isn’t false as well?”

At that moment, the girl working the bar came by with Druella’s drink. She thanked the girl and pinned Draco with a hard stare. “I’ve made no attempts to discern your true identity, Erasmos, and I’d be very grateful if you’d do the same.”

Draco’s stomach leapt into his throat. Was it just him, or did she sound out of breath? “We have a deal, then?” The way she’d said it made him feel as if she’d be sticking around longer. Much longer. No, no, he was reading too deeply into her words. She meant nothing of the sort.

She tossed her long hair over her shoulder carelessly, sending the scent of jasmine across the table. Draco’s pulse jumped. “Tom,” she called without taking her eyes from Draco’s. “I’ll be needing another, so long as the gentleman is paying.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he called back. With a smile that made Draco’s blood buzz like he was drugged, she finished off her second drink.

“Ah,” she sighed, setting down another empty glass. “I do hate Blishen’s.”

Draco looked pointedly at her empty glass. “Do you want to go somewhere that has Ogden’s?”

Druella snorted. “Is that your way of asking me if I want to ‘get out of here’?”

With Flobberworms in his stomach, Draco leaned forward and put his elbows on the rickety table between them. “Do you want it to be?” he asked, his voice low. He watched her dark eyes carefully. They twitched and he was sure he was going to get slapped.

“You know,” she said smoothly, leaning forward and putting her elbows on the table as well, “I’m not nearly drunk enough to go anywhere with you.”

“Your drink, ma’am,” came a female voice from behind her.

“Thank you, dear,” she tossed over her shoulder, grabbing her drink from the girl. She took a calculated sip and Draco leaned back, out of her range if she decided to slap him. “But we could stay here,” she said quietly, so quietly Draco wasn’t sure that he’d heard her correctly. Her gaze drifted upwards, to the ceiling, to the rooms above the pub.

Draco swallowed hard. “You’re not playing with me, witch? Because I will drop coin to get you upstairs.” As soon as the words were out of his mouth he was kicking himself mentally. Don’t show weakness. Don’t show desire. Stupid, stupid Draco.

“Secure a bottle of Ogden’s and it’s a deal,” she said.

Draco smirked, feigning disinterest. “I’ll think about it,” he said. He raised his glass to take a calculated sip, only to discover it as empty as hers.

Druella laughed, and Draco closed his eyes to preserve the sound in his memory. “You’re not nearly as smooth as you think you are, Erasmos.”

“And you’re quite a bit cockier than you have right to be,” he bit back. She’d touched a nerve. He pushed his hair back from his eyes, annoyed at its messiness. He should have combed it before he’d left the house. No, it was contributing to his disguise. Leave it.

She tilted her head towards the bar. “Go negotiate for some Ogden’s, please.”

What a demanding bitch. But he felt a smile tugging the corners of his mouth and sighed dramatically as he stood from his seat. She feigned applause as he made his way to the bar.

“Tom,” Draco said when Tom was done assisting another wizard. “How much would it cost to get a room upstairs for the night and a bottle of Ogden’s?”

Tom grinned, bushy eyebrows shooting up to his non-existent hairline. “For the lady, you mean? I can rush another bottle but it’s going to be maybe half an hour at the shortest.”

Draco looked back at the small table in the corner. Druella was sitting with her elbows on it and her chin on her hands. Pale skin, pointed nose, dark eyes. Funny way of talking. She tossed her hair back and his stomach clenched. He turned back to Tom. “As long as you can get it. Now how much?”


Draco held open the door to the room he’d reserved for Druella, who passed him with a small smile. It was small, with a bed, a desk, a nightstand, and no other furniture, but Druella seemed pleased. She turned in a slow circle.

“Where’s the Ogden’s?” she asked.

“Tom said it’d be about half an hour. That alright?” Draco dropped his textbook on the desk.

“I guess so,” she said, drawing out the words to sound annoyed, but a smile lit her face when she turned to him.

Draco frowned. “You didn’t have freckles before,” he commented. A smattering of light freckles had appeared on her porcelain skin, making her look younger, more innocent, and more approachable. And more beautiful.

Her hands flew up to her face. “Damn. My spellwork must be as terrible as yours.” Her voice wavered, as if afraid. Draco understood. The confidence a false identity brought with it was a powerful ally. Nervousness had also gripped Draco, and his hand went to his hair as if it could detect a change in colour.

Draco pulled his wand from his sleeve and Druella jumped—probably thought he was going to hex her. He murmured an incantation and the lights went out, darkening the room. He crossed to the window and lowered the blinds, turning the room to shadows.

“Is that better?” he asked softly.

There was a long moment of hesitation before he heard her say, “Yes. Thank you.”

In the darkness, he felt his way to the bed and sat down. “To continue our discussion from downstairs,” he said, careful to keep his voice light and careless, “you’re a Hogwarts student?”

Draco heard movement from the other side of the room. “Yes, I am. And I believe I already asked you to stop trying to find out who I was.”

Draco shook his head, despite the fact that she couldn’t see him. “No, I’m not trying to figure out what your real name is. I’m trying to figure out who you are. As a person. Your personality. There’s no harm in that, is there?”

There was a long pause before Draco heard the bedsprings creak and felt the mattress dip under her weight. “You’re playing with fire, silly boy,” she said, almost in a whisper.

Draco grew bold. “Were you there?” he whispered back.

The silence stretched between them again. “Yes,” she said. “Were you?”

Suddenly he wasn’t happy with the line of questioning. “Yes, I was there,” he finally said, feeling as if his admittance would lead her to his true identity. His skin heated in shame. He should go on the offensive, keep her talking. “Were you there last year, too?”

He heard her hair rustle against her clothes as she shook her head. “No, not for a good bit of it.”

“Me neither.”

He felt the bed move under her as she shuffled around. “I don’t like this line of talking. Let’s speak of something else. Something pleasant.”

Draco smiled into the darkness. “Like what?”

“Like where the BLOODY HELL MY OGDEN’S IS!” she screamed. Draco jumped and covered his ears dramatically.

“Bloody hell, woman,” he said. “You’re like a banshee.”

“Might have some mixed blood up in the family tree; I wouldn’t know,” she quipped back.

Draco froze. “You don’t know your blood status?” he inquired, attempting to keep his voice neutral. After all, they’d just finished a bloody war on the subject. He should be able to put prejudice aside.

“’Course I know. It’s just none of your business, now, is it?” she said, voice hard.

“This is just a hex in the dark, but judging by your defensive tone I’m guessing you’re a Mud—Muggle born?” Draco’s hands screamed in pain and he realized that he was digging his fingernails into his palms. Sweat had broken out on his forehead. He realized that he desperately wanted her to be a Pureblood. Or, at least Half. He could settle for Half, right? Merlin, the war is over. The ideology he had learned from his parents and the Dark Lord had lost. He couldn’t behave like it still existed inside of him.

But it did.

Druella sniffed. “No,” she said, “I’m not a Muggleborn. To your relief, I may add. You’re surprisingly easy to read, even in the dark. And judging by your reaction, I’d say you’re a Pureblood, and probably an inbred one at that.”

Anger welled in his chest, hot and corrosive. “Oi! I’m not inbred!”

Hands found his shoulders and pushed. He fell back on the bed, making the bedsprings creak and whine in protest. Laughter like the sound of bubbles popping drifted above him. His stomach turned in nervousness. “Judging by your defensive tone,” she said in a deep voice, mocking him, “I’m guessing you’re an inbred?”

“Shove off,” he muttered darkly, righting himself.

A knock on the door had them both turning their heads. He could tell because her hair hit him in the face, almost knocking him back with the scent of jasmine. “’Scuse me, I’ve a bottle of Firewhisky for this room?” came the voice from beyond the door.

“What brand?” the two called back in sync. Draco stared at where the dark shadow that he thought was her face. She laughed, and he joined in.

“Err… Ogden’s?” came the reply.

“Perfect,” Draco declared, leaping up from the bed and crossing to the door. He flung it open and squinted into the hall, the light temporarily blinding him. The same redheaded girl that had brought him his ploughman’s stood with a large bottle and two glasses in her hand and a confused expression on her face.

“Is something wrong with the lights?” she asked as Draco grabbed the bottle out of her hand and handed her a few coins.

“No. We’re alright. Cheers.” And he shut the door in her face.

He turned back to the room, now pitch dark thanks to ruining his night vision by looking into the hall. “Care for a glass of some Ogden’s?” he asked, smiling.

“Please,” she said. “And don’t be alarmed, but I believe your spells have also worn off.”

“Oh?” A fist of ice closed around his heart. Had she recognized him? Had the barmaid recognized him? A quick succession of images flashed through his head: being arrested for concealing his identity, his image gracing the morning papers with the tagline “Death Eater Playboy Shacks Up in Leaky Cauldron,” and a few more ridiculous fears.

“Your hair. It’s lighter now.”

Draco didn’t say anything. If she went to Hogwarts there was almost a one hundred percent chance that she knew who Draco Malfoy was. After all, he was the one who let the Death Eaters into Hogwarts last year by way of the Vanishing Cabinet. He was the one who attempted to kill Dumbledore a number of times without success. In addition to his crimes against the school and state, he was also known as the biggest git in his year.

He heard the bedsprings creak as she shifted. “Come, now, are you going to bring me the Ogden’s or what?”

“Right.” He walked tentatively over to the bed, careful not to run into it. He felt like a blind man. “Where are you?”

“Right here,” she murmured. He carefully pushed the hand holding the glasses into the direction of her voice until he came up against warm skin. She grabbed one of the glasses from him. “If you don’t mind, I think I’ll pour.”

“That’s probably a good idea.” He handed her the bottle too. A moment later he heard a pop as the cork left the bottle. Judging by the pfoo sound afterwards, she’d pulled it out with her teeth. He pictured her with her teeth clamped on the cork, lips close to the edge of the bottle, hands firmly grasping the base. He suddenly found he was out of breath.

The soft splashing of liquid being poured into a glass made him shake his head. “Here’s mine,” he said, holding out his glass. Her hand found his and settled warmly on top of it while she filled his cup.

When she stopped pouring and removed her hand, she said, “Careful. It’s really full.”

“Thank you.”

“You bought it.” Her flat tone made him think that she was unused to receiving gifts, despite the way she’d casually run up his tab downstairs. She was probably embarrassed. Not many wizards threw around money like Draco did. He should have pretended to be more frugal. Actually, no, he should have been more frugal. After the legal trouble the Malfoys had found themselves in, their fortune was considerably smaller than it was. And with Lucius’ inability to ever receive good employment again… not to mention the bill the gala would rack up…

Warm breath skated across his face. Draco felt his heart jump. “So, Erasmos…why are you in disguise?”

The hair on the back of his neck stood up. “I might ask you the same question.”

She sighed, sending the scent of Firewhisky towards him. “I have certain… associations… that make me interesting to the press.”

Draco relaxed. “You might say the same for me.” Perhaps she was someone he knew well? Pansy, maybe? Another with Death Eater parents? He’d seen Goyle in the papers a lot lately. He took a sip of the Firewhisky and grimaced. Bloody awful stuff, that.

Druella laughed. “You should have mentioned that you can’t stand Firewhisky.”

“It’s not that I hate Firewhisky. It’s that Ogden’s is bloody terrible stuff,” he lied.

She slapped him playful on the back of the head. “You take that back!”

“Only if you ask nicely,” he responded.

The scent of Firewhisky and jasmine radiated off of her as she leaned closer to him. “Okay,” she said.

When her lips touched his, he almost dropped his glass. He lifted his free hand to her face to pull her closer. The kiss was slow and languid, and it was all Draco could do to keep it that way instead of pushing her down on the bed. She nipped at his bottom lip and Draco inhaled sharply, his hand curling in her hair and pulling her closer.

She pulled away. “I don’t want to spill my drink,” she muttered, grabbing both of their glasses and leaning across him to set them on the nightstand.

“Alright,” he said, trying to keep his voice even as her breasts brushed against his arm. His stomach was in knots as she sat back up and grabbed his chin, pulling him in for another kiss.

He jerked his head to the side. “Wait,” he said, “doesn’t it bother you that you don’t know who I am? What if… what if you know me, and you hate me?” He stared down at the shadows that were the floor.

“I know who you are,” she said softly. His heart skipped a beat in fear, but she continued. “You’re Erasmos. And I like you. Whatever your true name is doesn’t matter, because that isn’t the whole of your identity.” And then she pulled him in for another kiss.

This time, Draco didn’t hold back. With a growl, he let her push him onto his back. He grabbed her hips and pulled down at the same time he thrust his upwards, making her gasp. He took advantage of her surprise to trace his tongue along her upper lip.

Druella responded by biting at him again and pushing hard against his shoulders. Draco let instinct get the better of him. He abandoned her mouth for her throat and let his hands wander up the back of her robes to pull her closer. A soft moan from her was all the encouragement Draco needed as he bit the spot he’d just kissed.

“D—don’t leave marks,” she breathed.

“Why not?” he asked. Even to himself his own voice sounded possessive and jealous. “Do you have a boyfriend?” He ran his teeth across the skin between her shoulder and her neck.

“N—not exactly.”

“Not exactly?” he repeated. Anger burned in his chest like he’d drunk too much Firewhisky. With a hard push, he flipped them so that he loomed above her, hips between her legs. The new position gave him a head rush. He was aware of his hands curling into the sheets of the bed from restraint.

“He expects I’m coming back to him,” Druella explained.

“Coming back?” Draco prodded.

“He broke up with me.”

Draco took a couple seconds to let that process before he felt laughter bubble up in his chest. “Merlin’s beard!” he exclaimed between gasps of mirth. “What an idiot!” He slid a hand in her hair again and kissed her hard, satisfied with her relationship status (or lack thereof). She responded in kind, kissing him fiercely, fingers curling into the front of his robes. “What bumbling dunce would let you go?” he asked between kisses.

“I’m almost positive you know him,” she responded before attacking the hollow beneath his throat.

“What—ahhh—what do I think about him?” She was making it hard to think straight, the things she was doing with that mouth of hers.

“Dunno. Assuming you know him, you either love him or you hate him.”

“I’m inclined—ahem.” Draco cleared his throat. The little tease had made his voice crack. “I’m inclined to believe I probably didn’t like him so much, if he ever was with you.”

Druella bit him too hard for it to be considered playful. “Jealous, Erasmos?” she whispered against his skin.

Draco growled deep in his throat. “Insanely,” he admitted, grabbing her breast through her robes. She gasped. He grinned.

“Why are your robes still on?” Draco blinked. He’d been so caught up in her lips that he hadn’t realized both of them were still fully clothed, including shoes.

“Because you haven’t taken them off yet,” he said. She raised an eyebrow and Draco grinned at his own wit.

Druella’s fingers found the fastenings of his robes and undid them quickly enough. She pushed them off his shoulders, leaving him in only his trousers and shoes. He slid off the bed to kick off his shoes and pulled her legs towards him.

“Wot are you—” she started, but broke off when he removed her Mary Janes.

“That okay?” he asked. “I don’t think it’s very polite to keep our shoes on the bed.”

Druella laughed. “Polite? Who cares about polite?”

I care about polite. And clean,” he said, tilting his chin up proudly.

“Oh, you have your priorities in all the wrong places!”

“Do I?” he said, pulling at her hands to make her sit up. His hands fluttered from her shoulders to her breasts to the fastenings on her robes. “May I?” he asked breathlessly.

“Yes,” she said, nodding. Her hands came up to press against the small of his back, making him shiver. With shaking hands he managed to undo her robes and push them off of her shoulders, revealing a plain dark-coloured frock underneath.

“May I?” he asked again, hands going to the buttons running down the length of the dress. She nodded again. With shuddering breaths, he worked slowly, button by button. When he got to the one between her breasts, he stopped breathing. He had half a mind to rip the cloth off her and the other half of him was paralyzed in desire. He forced himself to go slowly, and patiently finished the rest of the buttons before he took both halves and spread them wide.

He sucked in a breath in appreciation. He couldn’t see her very well, but he could make out the outline of her naked body. “May I touch you?” he asked softly. He was suddenly hit with the fear that any sudden movement or loud noise would startle her, and she’d disappear like smoke.

He heard her whisper, “Yes.” Squeezing his eyes shut hard in an effort to help him collect his thoughts, he pushed the frock completely off of her and rested his hands on her shoulders. Her skin was so warm he was amazed that it didn’t burn his hands. He forced himself to go slowly as he slid his hands down from her shoulders to her breasts. He brushed his thumbs over her nipples and she gasped, her hands clawing at the skin on his back, pulling him closer. She leaned forward and licked at the stretch of skin below his navel, and he almost lost his mind. He knew he was taking huge liberties when he squeezed her breasts, but he didn’t think he’d be able to vocalize the words it took to ask her permission again.

Her hands came forward, to the fly of his trousers, and Draco froze. He was hard, embarrassingly so—who wouldn’t be?—but he didn’t want her to see him. He shook his head to clear it. The room was almost pitch dark, and she had no idea who he was. He was safe.

The cool air of the room hit his arse as she shoved his trousers down. Draco shivered involuntarily. The shiver turned into a shudder when he felt her take him into her mouth. He moaned—loudly, embarrassingly, he hoped she hadn’t heard. Her mouth was so hot he felt like he was going to spill it right now, at this moment. Apparently he couldn’t really do anything without bolloxing it up.

She moaned too and he realized that his hands had left her breasts—couldn’t reach now, not with her bent over like that—and tangled in her hair, pulling her closer, forcing himself deeper into her mouth. Horrified, he let go and apologized, voice cracking.

In response she grabbed his arse—hard—and took him so deep his eyes rolled back into his head. His hands found their way back into her long hair, fisting in effort not to move her head for her.

“Dru—Druella,” he gasped. She moaned in response, sending shock waves through his body down to the very tips of his fingers. He groaned.

Using all the self-control he had, he put his hands on her shoulders and gently pushed. She released him. “Not that that wasn’t amazing, but I’d like to touch you, too,” he said between gasps. He felt like he’d just played a record-long game of Quidditch, the way he was gasping and sweating.

“You may,” she said in a teasing tone, mocking how he’d asked her for permission to touch her earlier.

“Thank you,” he murmured. He stepped out the legs of his trousers that had pooled around his ankles. Feeling bold, he put his knees on either side of where she sat on the edge of the bed, straddling her. He held her face between his hands and stared hard, trying to make out her features in the darkness.

He saw her eyelashes flutter, sending ink-black shadows dancing on her cheeks. “Please don’t do that,” she whispered. “It makes me nervous. Like you recognize me.”

“My sincerest apologies.” Draco shut his eyes and brought his mouth down to where he thought hers was. He missed, finding her cheek, and pretended like that was where he had intended to kiss her. He trailed small kisses across her face until he found her lips. She kissed back fiercely, and it was in that moment that Draco realized that she might actually want him just as much as he wanted her, impossible as it may have seemed. He let his hands trail down to her breasts again, and was satisfied when she gasped when he pinched her nipples.

“Do you like that?” he asked, mainly because he had no idea what he was doing. She breathed back an affirmation. He kissed her hard, pushing her onto the bed until she was lying flat. And then he stepped off of the bed again.

“Where’d you go?” she asked. He answered her by trailing his fingers across her lower stomach and the edge of her knickers.

“May I?” he asked quietly, tugging on the edge.

“Y—yes,” she responded. She sounded out of breath. With gentle tugs, he pulled off her knickers. They felt like plain cotton, no lace or ribbons or silk. When he managed to get them off of her legs entirely, he was about to toss them on the floor. A second thought made him stop, and he brought them up to his nose and inhaled. The scent almost floored him with how overpowering it was. And yet he wanted more.

“Did you just—”

He cut her off. “Yes.” He knelt on the floor next to the bed, grabbed her knees, and pulled until her arse was just barely hanging off. He parted her legs as he slid his hands up her thighs and leaned in. A calculated lick had her gasping and him moaning. He allowed his fingers to find the spot he’d just licked, feeling his way into her warmth, prodded forward by her moans.

Embarrassing as it was, he had close to no idea what he was doing. But instead of feeling immature or ashamed, he was glad to be here, exploring her body in the darkness, in the complete safety she had offered him. He leaned forward again for another taste, a smile curling on his lips. He desperately hoped she’d let him meet with her again.

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