Draco walked until he reached a dingy alley in Hammersmith district. He discreetly checked for anyone following him before entering the place that stank of garbage and piss and what not....spurting their putrid stench into the air. No matter how many times Draco had crossed this place, he never fails to gag. It always reminds him of the repugnant stink of a bloated and rotten corpse. Gah! He was going to be sick! But he knew this was the one place where he was sure to find Graham. So he quickly made his way to the back of the alley, breathing through his mouth and trying to stifle the urge to puke.
He knocked on a door which was almost hanging off its hinges. A young lad peeped through it and as soon as he saw who it was, gave him a vile snigger.
"Brave of you to show up here." he said, mock bowing and gesturing with his arm as though welcoming a guest.
Draco quietly passed. He had learned the hard way not to reply with biting remarks to people who work here in Graham's so called safe-house.....even if it was only a boy in his teens. He passed a few men drinking and gambling in a small corner of the room. He crossed the hallway loaded with all kinds of contraband weapons. It was the arms trafficking spot. He then wended his way through the backyard where illicit drug smuggling took place. A few men were already stumbling to the exit, high on marijuana.
Draco trudged his way to the other side of the building and to the back room. The door was open and he could see Graham was seated on a divan and a man was showing him the latest weapons which haven't made it to the market yet. Some other men were around the room, lazing around and drowning in alcohol while a few boys were serving them. These men were Graham's personal favourites. They were given high positions in Graham's businesses (if you could call it that) and were high profile criminals themselves.
Draco walked inside and every eye turned towards him. The place suddenly quieted down giving him an eerie feeling.
"Ah! Look who's here boys!" Graham roared with a devilish grin. His gaze was something akin to that of an animal scrutinising its prey and waiting to devour it.
Graham was a beefy man, clean shaved, average height and next to no hair on his head. He was one notorious criminal and was involved in every illegal profession one could think of. You name it and he has his hands in it. Be it gunrunning, unauthorised drug trade, human trafficking, smuggling and.........
"Atlast decided to grace us with your presence, my slut?"
.......Not to forget the number of brothels he ran.
"Graham...I...." Draco stuttered. He was always very eloquent but it seemed today, his voice ran out.
"Yes, yes, come to return the money, Draco?" he asked, still wearing the devilish grin.
"No....I...I actually.... need money, Graham." he said, not meeting his eyes.
Graham burst out laughing. "He is really funny, isn't he boys?" he asked, peering at the other men. They all remained quiet.
Then he suddenly straightened up and glowered. Gritting his teeth he hissed,
"It is no time for jokes, Draco."
"I've got a deal." Draco replied.
"You are in no position for deals either." he hissed again.
Draco always knew getting Graham to accept is not going to be a duck soup. So he adopted an air of nonchalance and plastered his charming smirk on his face. He sauntered towards Graham and gracefully sat on the divan beside him.
"I know, baby but you wouldn't want to lose your best hustler, would you?" he whispered in his most seductive voice.
Graham decided to play along. His expression changed to smug from that of fury. He turned towards Draco with a wicked grin.
"My darling Draco, of course I wouldn't want to lose you, but I hope you haven't forgotten the twenty percent share you had neglected to give me."
Of course Draco remembered. That was the root of this problem, wasn't it? Hookers working under Graham were to pay twenty percent of their earning on each client to him which Draco hadn't done for the past month. He was at a shortage of money for Scorp's potions so he had tricked Graham and kept the money to himself. He still wasn't sure how Graham got to know but when he did, Draco knew it was time to flee.
"I've brought you a perfect deal. You'll love it." Draco expressed in a spicy tone, splaying out his hand on Graham's thigh for good measure.
"Let's hear it then." he said, smiling mischievously at the hand on his thigh.
"I need twenty five thousand pounds. You give me the money and are free to have your way with me for the next two months. You get to choose all my clients and it will be that way till I pay back the debt."
Graham was still staring at the hand that was slowly inching upwards.
"I'd like to add a few of my conditions." he stated.
"Conditions?" Draco stopped moving his hand.
"You didn't seriously expect me to just accept anything you say...?" Graham looked up. The smirk still playing on his face.
"Sure, go on." Draco quickly said with a fake smile of his own.
"You are to report to me anytime I summon you. You have no say on the... type of clients I choose. As for the debt, you cannot pay me back as you wish. Until these two months are up, you don't get to keep a single pound you earn to yourself. I'm going to wait for two days before giving you the money. Couldn't exactly trust you not to run away after what happened last month, could we? Every client you take up should pass through me and this goes on until you pay back every single pence you have borrowed. Clear?"
"Crystal." said Draco before he could think of what he was agreeing to. He didn't want to give his brain time to think of the implications of this deal lest he be tempted to deny. "But--"
"You don't have much choice, Draco." Graham cut in. "You only have two options, you see. You accept the conditions or you die." Graham whispered evilly.
Draco nodded. He hurriedly stood up, "I'll just be going then. See you tomorrow" and he walked hastily to the door.
"Draco dear?" He stopped walking but didn't turn around. Who are you fooling, Draco? Nobody walks out of here unscathed, he thought. He slowly turned.
Graham's smirk had now turned into a full-fledged grin. "Come on Draco, you know you still have to pay for what you cost me last month, don't you? One doesn't simply get away with deceiving Graham." he said and signalled his men forward.
Draco stood stock still as Graham's men surrounded him. They were each sporting terrifying grins. When the first punch hit him in the stomach, it was so out of the blue that he fell to the ground, his breath leaving in a whoosh. After that, Draco had no idea how long they kept hitting him. A volley of blows was being showered on him and he couldn't even fight back. He had a deal afterall.
An hour later he found himself thrown outside on the street with a "Don't be late tomorrow." barked at him. He tried to stand but a sharp pain shot up his ankle and he fell face- first on the ground. He slowly crawled to the wall and using his hands as support he heaved himself up on shaking legs. His ankle seemed to be sprained and thankfully not broken. Now that he could focus on other parts of his body, he found that his eye was swollen, he was sporting a torn lip, he could feel a few cuts on his face and there was a constant ache in his thorax region. He touched his chest and then "AHHH!", keeled over. Definitely a broken rib or two.
He began his slow pace back to the hospital. He couldn't help but think of the implications of this stupid deal now. Yes, he did manage to get what he wanted but that wasn't an excuse to what he had just gotten himself into. Every single pence he earned was to be given to Graham, so how the fuck was he going to pay for other things? The flat, food, Scorp's needs...... and to top it all, where was he going to leave Scorp until he got back from work? Mrs. Dopkins would have surely left for Australia by now.
He will forever be grateful to Mrs. Dopkins for being there for Scorp whenever he needed her. She was a kind old lady who lived alone in the flat beside his and adored Scorp. He could always leave Scorpius with her whenever he had to go. It wasn't like Mrs. Dopkins didn't know about his line of work, what with the way he always went there reeking of sex to pick up his son. He absolutely hated doing that but he didn't want to take advantage of her kindness by leaving Scorp there until he could shower and change and all that. She did look at him with disapproval but never disgust and they never spoke anything about his profession. But now she was getting too old to cope with staying alone and had finally decided to shift to Australia where her daughter lived. So now he didn't know where to leave Scorpius. Gosh! Why do so many problems crop up at the same time!!
It took him a good hour to limp back to the hospital and he entered the waiting room to see Potter curled up in a chair, dozing. Weasley was nowhere to be seen.
Harry had asked Ron to go home to Hermione and inform her of the situation at hand. He knew she will be worried sick with no news on Scorp. He had been waiting for Draco for so damn long but the tiring day he had been through had finally taken a toll on him and he had fallen asleep. He had contemplated following Draco but didn't want to give in to his obsession from sixth year , he didn't even have a good enough excuse to do that this time.
Harry woke to some crashing noise and looked around to spot Draco on the floor with a table turned over. He quickly helped him up only to back off with a horrified expression. Draco looked like hell. His eye was swollen shut and he was squinting through it. His face was covered in blood. He had bruises littering his face and his breath was coming in sharp gasps. He was limping and almost fell again before Harry caught him. He seated him on a chair before yelling,
"Draco, what happened to you!?!"
"Why do you care?" Draco bit back.
"Wait, I'll just go get a healer." and he ran.
Harry came back with a healer who seemed like he was roused from sleep. His lime green robes were wrinkled and his hair was ruffled . He patched him up as good as new with a few simple spells.
"All the cuts and bruises have been treated and the ankle should be fine in an hour or so. Two of your ribs were broken and one was cracked which I have healed, but they will still be sore for a couple of days. Don't carry any heavy load for a few days until they are back to normal. It was a miracle you managed to walk with the extent of your injuries." He then left.
Harry then rounded on him.
"Who the hell did that to you?!?" furious from what he had just witnessed.
"None of your business, Potter. And why are fretting your poor little brain over it?"
"Because I care about my fr----..........because I'm an auror." He had almost said 'Because I care about my friends.' What was wrong with him?! Draco wasn't his friend. And when the fuck had he started calling 'Malfoy' as 'Draco'. He could only blame it on his sleep-deprived brain. Stupid Brain!
"And I don't wish to file a complaint. So you don't need to get your knickers in a twist." Draco, No Malfoy said.
"Merlin, Malfoy! Do you always need to be so curt? You should have seen yourself in the mirror when you came in."
"I'm sure I would have still looked better than you." he smirked.
Instead of getting angry, Harry started laughing. Even Draco looked surprised. Seeing Draco's expression, Harry immediately stopped laughing. He went to the far end of the room...far away from Draco and sat down there. He could feel Draco's eyes on him but didn't dare look up. He knew he was behaving oddly but couldn't help it. He was very confused. Why was he worried over Draco? And what just happened a few minutes back? Why did he laugh? Shouldn't he feel angry that Draco had insulted him yet again? And the comment about friends.....what was that? How can he refer to his long time enemy, his arch-rival as friend? And will he please stop calling him 'Draco'?!! He can only blame it on his stupid brain, so he did. His brain must surely be addled. Stupid Bradshaw and his stupid case and the stupid investigation and STUPID MALFOY!!!!!!
Harry had barely closed his eyes when he was rudely woken up. Someone was shaking him awake.
"Wha---? Hermione! What are you doing here in the middle of the night?" he asked, rubbing his eyes and trying to chase away sleep, which was proving to be very difficult.
"It's not the middle of the night, Harry. It's almost 11 am." she said, casting a tempus charm for him to see.
"What?! ...I only just slept!!" he exclaimed. He looked around and found Ron chuckling beside him.
"All good, mate?" Ron asked.
Harry nodded, stiffling a yawn. He noticed that Draco was absent.
"Where's Malfoy?" asked Harry.
" With Scorpius. He will be discharged in another two hours."
"And how long have you been here?"
"I came at 10. Malfoy looked like he hadn't slept the whole night. And you were sleeping peacefully there, so I didn't want to disturb you. And now even you look like you hardly slept." she gave him a questioning look.
"I did sleep, Hermione but I'm still so tired." he yawned.
"Just go home, Harry. It's a saturday, so you can rest without worrying about anything. Even I was just leaving. Should pick up Rose from Molly's."
"Yeah, I'll do that. I'll go check on Scorp first." he stood up, trying to flatten his hair in vain.
He made his way to Scorp's room. Knocking quietly, he went inside. What he saw made him smile. Draco was sitting in an armchair beside the bed with Scorp in his arms. Both were soundly asleep. They looked so cute together, two pretty blonds wrapped snugly around each other. Hang on! Did he just call Malfoy 'pretty'? He definitely needed more sleep.
He walked over to them and placed a kiss on Scorp's forehead. He had been terrified when Scorp had vomited blood. In such a short while he had started to care for the kid. He petted his head and walked out.
Reaching home he flopped down on the bed, but something seemed wrong. He was so very tired but he just wouldn't fall asleep. His mind started revisiting the incident last night.
Draco was so badly injured. Who had beat him up? Was it something to do with the money regarding Scorp's sessions? Harry knew he didn't have the huge sum but Draco hadn't said anything about it. What if he was in trouble?
He tossed and turned but to no avail. His brain had gone into the frantic mode. He decided to have some calming draught. He reached for his wand to summon the potion when he realized there were two of them. Shite! He had forgotten to give back Draco's wand. He will have to track him down to return it. Oddly, the thought of seeing the blond git again was enough to calm him down and he was quickly lulled to sleep.