|SIYE Time:3:11 on 25th May 2018|
Genres: Action/Adventure, Romance
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Death, Intimate Sexual Situations, Mild Language, Negative Alcohol Use, Rape, Spouse/Adult/Child Abuse, Violence/Physical Abuse
Summary: With Voldemort dead, Harry Potter is training to be an Auror and is finally back together with Ginny Weasley. But when a young woman dies of poisoning at the Ministry’s Midsummer Ball, Harry is the first suspect, and he can only uncover the true murderer by working with his childhood rival, Draco Malfoy.
Hitcount: Story Total: 3787; Chapter Total: 337
We're moving back to May again, and we'll back to June 1998 and the Ministry ball (and Ginny's POV) in chapter 5.
Chapter 4: We Were Malfoys
May 12, 1998
The Malfoys were home. Narcissa had been permitted to stop by on a couple occasions--escorted, of course--but this was the first time that all three Malfoys were home since they had experienced the Ministry’s “hospitality” for nearly two weeks following the battle. It was strange to be in Malfoy Manor, Draco thought. It was home, or at least it should be. It was where he had spent his childhood, walking the corridors with his father, as Lucius talked to him of the accomplishments of the Malfoys in the fifteen foot portraits.
“We are Malfoys, son.”
And it had been a wonderful thing to be a Malfoy. Many wizards didn’t understand grandeur until they arrived at Hogwarts with the trick staircases, the enchanted ceiling, and the cavernous chambers. But Draco had grown up with the extraordinary. Malfoy Manor had a library with books on anything you could ever wish to learn. There were secret passageways. There were doors that you could only see and pass through if you had Malfoy blood and not even Malfoy wives were allowed access. There were family ghosts, who had stories of battles and curses and long forgotten magic. There were two ballrooms, an armoury, four greenhouses, a potions lab stocked with rare ingredients, a maze, a summer house, and a lake.
“Malfoys are leaders, son. We are descended from Merlin himself. And this is our castle. There were always be a Malfoy here.”
He was home. But his home wasn’t the same. It wasn’t the same estate where he had run the grounds with Crabbe and Goyle as boys, reenacting the famous duel between Slytherin and Gryffindor. Blood had been spilt here. It hadn’t been glamorous like the ghosts’ stories of dueling scheming Mudbl . . . Muggleborns. It had been shameful, the kind of stain that never washes away. They had been the hosts, but there had no honor in the hosting.The estate had fallen to Voldemort.
It was theirs again in theory, but it seemed to still belong to him.
Draco walked the corridors he had once loved so well. The paintings were there and the statues and the candle lit chandeliers, but it felt so empty. He was lucky to be alive. He knew it. Narcissa and Draco had been cleared of criminal charges, but were to be on probation for five years for assisting known terrorists. Draco was known to be a Death Eater, of course, but technically being a Death Eater was not illegal, only the darker activities one performed as a Death Eater. As much as he hated to admit, it was Potter’s testimony that Draco had once told Dumbledore that he didn’t have a choice, that he had to do the Dark Lord’s bidding to keep himself and his family alive that kept him out of Azkaban.
Narcissa, of course, had never been a Death Eater and was only guilty of feeding and housing Death Eaters, and no one questioned that if she had refused to do so, it would have resulted in her death and that of her family.
Lucius was on house arrest, pending trial. The Ministry had no idea what to do with Lucius Malfoy, but they had decided he was not a flight risk with so many runaway Death Eaters eager to kill him. He was also considered unlikely to commit any further crimes in the near future, as his interest in saving his own skin was legendary. He was simply to stay put, like a good boy, until the Ministry sorted out the fates of the more threatening Death Eaters and could bring their attention back to him. There were protections on the manor, both to make certain he did not leave and also to make certain others did not get in. Aurors were assigned to the manor, and they would be sleeping in their guest quarters and eating off their china for as long as pleased the Ministry.
Draco hoped they had better table manners than the average Death Eater. The Dark Lord, he had to admit, had very graceful table manners, but he had enjoyed the most pungent foods. It was the lack of a nose, Narcissa guessed. Then there was his habit of letting his snake slither all over the dining room table, finishing off his enemies in the place where Draco had eaten his pudding growing up.
Draco opened the double doors that led to his bedroom. Everything looked exactly the same. He had the same row of windows overlooking the lake. The same four-poster bed that Pansy had snuck into when they were both fifteen. The same pale green velvet drapes with a small scorch mark, a souvenir of accidental magic performed when he was nine.
He tossed his cloak on the bed and moved to his bathroom to start a bath in the large tub. He turned on the faucets that gave him warm water, bubbles, and his favorite woodsy scent. He had missed this tub most of all while at the Ministry. While there, he had always had the paranoid feeling that there was someone watching him bathe. He stripped down quickly, banishing his clothes to the laundry room, and settled into his bath.
Could they have done anything differently? Could they have avoided falling into the Dark Lord’s service a second time? Draco didn’t think so. He wasn’t an idealist. There were times in one’s life when the only thing to do was to stay alive.
He was certainly alive. But he wasn’t much more. His future would be strange and lonely. His old friends were no more. By betraying the Dark Lord, they could never return to the pureblood social circles. It wasn’t like the first time when the Malfoys and other families could claim to have been under the Imperius Curse. But the new order would hardly welcome him either. As a Malfoy, he was used to being admired, but now he would have to be the one to reach out to others if he wished to have any social life.
He thought of becoming a recluse. He could tinker with potions all day. Or learn dueling techniques. Or read all eighty-four volumes of A History of Wizardkind in Britain. He could become a wine expert and spend his time looking down on people who couldn’t taste the difference between 1989 Bordeaux and a 1989 Burgundy. He could write poetry. Or be one of those cranky people who wrote letters to the editor for The Daily Prophet. He could become a collector of random items, like 17th century Quidditch brooms.
He was exhausted at the idea of having all the time in the world and no one to share it with. In five years time, he could leave England. He could travel to places where no one knew the name Malfoy. He could sleep with beautiful witches, learn about other magical cultures, and journal about his adventures. But five years was a long time away.
Oh, to be twenty-three.
Until then, he would be alone in Malfoy Manor, making potions, surrounded by a collection of rare brooms, with all of his volumes of history stained by wine and a wadded up letter of complaint in his left fist. His hair would be wild, because who is concerned with grooming when all he has is an assortment of odd hobbies?
Draco reluctantly got out of his bath and towelled dry. He was expected downstairs for lunch with his parents. His mother had let him know that they had very important things to discuss. He had no idea what their plans for him were, but he already disagreed with those plans 100%. He dressed casually and dried his hair with a wave of his wand.
As he walked in the direction of the dining room, he had to admit that it was not the manor that had changed, but him. He had grown up in love with tradition and honor. His life had been refreshingly simple, like the Basil Brothers mysteries he used to read as a child, where the clever pureblood boys always foiled the plans of scheming Muggleborns. It never occurred to him in childhood that a day would come when he would no longer be the hero of his own story.
When he arrived in one of the smaller dining rooms that the Malfoys used for breakfast and lunch, he found both of his parents already seated. There were plates with roast chicken, potatoes, and salad and a half-glass of white wine at each of the three settings. A large bottle of water was in the center of the round table.
He wondered who had prepared the meal. After losing Dobby, they had employed a couple of half-blood maids, who had quit when Lucius had been sent to Azkaban. When the Lestranges had moved in, and Voldemort with them, Aunt Bella’s two house elves had taken over the cooking and housework.
“Sorry to keep you waiting, Mother, Father.” He sat down and arranged a white linen napkin on his lap. He gestured at his plate. “Who did the cooking?”
“It’s from my sister, oddly enough,” Narcissa sounded amazed.
Draco wasn’t sure how to respond to that, given that Aunt Bella had been buried in an unmarked grave while they had been at the Ministry. “From her elves?”
“No. My other sister. She left a basket of food for us.”
There was nothing more to be said after that, for the Malfoys never spoke of the Tonks family. In fact, Draco had been thirteen before he learned that his mother had a sister named Andromeda Tonks. At Malfoy Manor, having a sister married to a Muggleborn was more shameful than having a sister sent to Azkaban for torturing Aurors.
The food was simple but delicious. Draco was surprised to have an appetite. He had eaten little at the Ministry, and neither had his father who had shared his cell.
“Draco, we wanted to discuss your future,” his father began. Draco sighed, but his father ignored it. “Your mother and I are finished socially and politically, but you are not. Our fortunes are diminished, but not gone. You won’t need to pursue a career, but it may be helpful to your reputation if you do.”
“I really don’t think the Ministry would hire me, Father.”
“No, not right now, but there are other things you could do. You are a fine potion maker. You could work in St. Mungo’s.”
“And people would accuse me of poisoning Muggleborns.”
His appetite disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared. Draco pushed potatoes around his plate and forced himself to take a bite.
“Or do something more scholarly. I know the editor of the Journal of Modern Potion Making. She owes me a favor, actually, and I’m sure she could find a job for a promising young wizard. Or you could write a history. Gentlemen scholars have done that through the ages. Your great-grandfather won an award for his history of the Goblin Wars.”
Draco wasn’t sure where his father got the idea that he was eloquent enough to be a writer or editor. Of course, he had read the history his father spoke of and he wasn’t convinced of his great-grandfather’s eloquence either.
“This doesn’t need to be decided immediately,” Narcissa broke in. “Like your father said, a career isn’t essential. We do need to do something to immediately improve your reputation. You could read storybooks to orphans. Or give a large donation to the Hogwarts scholarship fund.”
“All right.” He couldn’t imagine himself reading Beedle the Bard to war orphans and doing all the voices like a proper storyteller, but he knew his mother’s suggestion made sense. It would be fine as long as the children didn’t sneeze on him. Or climb on his lap. Or touch his hair. Or breathe too close to him.
Actually, storytime was probably out. A puppet show, maybe? A little distance between him and the brats would probably be good.
“And we’ll need to have your portrait painted this summer,” she continued.
“What?” He put his fork down and glared at his parents.
“It’s tradition, Draco. Every Malfoy male has their portrait painted at seventeen. We’re a year late, but with everything that happened last year . . .”
“I know it’s tradition, but we’re practically prisoners in our own home, Mother. It doesn’t seem quite the time for pomp.”
“It’s exactly the time, Draco,” his father broke in. “Having your portrait painted and added to the family galleries is an important experience. It really makes you feel the responsibility of being a man.”
That, Draco thought, was precisely why he had no interest in it. He was an adult at last, and he had never been less certain of he was or what he wanted. He amused himself by thinking of titles for his portrait. Wizard in Limbo. The Fall of Pureblood Wizardry. Existential Crisis in the Family Estate.
“It will be good for you, Draco,” his mother added. “Once your portrait is up, you’ll be able to see yourself again. I think I know just the painter.”
“Who is he?” Draco asked. He hoped it wasn’t one of those fellows who would insist on painting him with all sorts of awkward props, like medieval staffs or a falcon perched on his shoulder.
“She. Astoria Greengrass is young.Younger than you, actually, but she has some very unique skills as an artist that make her a perfect portraitist for you.”
“There was a Daphne Greengrass in my year. Any relation?”
“Her younger sister. A Ravenclaw, unfortunately, but the family is quite honorable. To the best of my knowledge, the Greengrasses took no sides in the war, which is ideal.”
Draco wondered how anyone could have possibly managed that. He vaguely recalled that Daphne’s family had something to do with wine. Surely, the Dark Lord would have been interested in that. The opportunities for poisoning would have been plentiful.
“You’re having a kid paint my portrait? Will finger paints be involved?”
“We won’t hire her until we’ve reviewed her body of work.” Something in Lucius’s face indicated he too had concerns about a teenager painting an official Malfoy portrait. “If her work is found to be acceptable, we will offer her the job.”
“I assume this is your idea, Mother? The Greengrass girl?”
“I first became aware of Miss Greengrass a couple of years ago,” Narcissa said. “It was a charity luncheon and some of her paintings were being auctioned for the maternity ward at St. Mungo’s. She was merely fourteen, but her work was extraordinary. I think a portrait by her would be different from the others in the gallery. I don’t think she would paint you wearing brocade cloaks like your father did or that you’d be painted on horseback like your grandfather. What I think she could do is create a Malfoy painting for a new age.”
Draco had to admit he was now curious about the girl’s work, even though he was still uninterested in being the subject. “So no portrayal of ancient glory in my portrait? What would I find in a painting by . . .” he had already forgot her first name, “Daphne’s baby sister?”
“Humanity,” Narcissa replied.
“All my weaknesses on display for the public? What a treat, Mother.”
“I said humanity, not weaknesses, Draco. We are perceived to be monsters. That perception is what we must battle.”
“And sometimes perception is reality.”
Just then, a tawny owl swooped in through the window and deposited a letter in front of Draco. It did not stay and demand a treat. Instead, it circled the room and left the way it had come.
“I thought the Aurors were going to be bringing our mail once the Ministry ‘screens’ it?” he drawled.
“They are.” Narcissa’s eyes narrowed. “It’s possible that’s the only one that made it through so they forwarded it on.”
“I don’t know who would be writing to me.” Draco went to pick it up.
“Wait!” His mother said. She waved her wand over the letter. “No traces of dark magic. It should be safe to open it.”
Draco opened it quickly. It was a short length of parchment. Instead of someone’s writing, there were letters cut out of a newspaper or magazine. The message they formed was short.
We are hunting you.
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