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June 5th, 1985

Draco had eaten all the food he could possibly eat in one afternoon. He’d paced himself as much has he could manage, but his strategy had failed. Anything new he put onto his plate now as an acceptable distraction from old Mrs. Parkinson’s blather would only make him sick. He reminded himself that his polite smile must not turn visibly stiff as he sat and listened.

If asked, Draco would remember the name of the niece whose accomplishments at Hogwarts the woman was listing. He would. He was the Malfoy heir and a perfect gentleman. If asked, he would tell Mother that the girl was well on her way to finish “Top of her class in both Charms and Transfiguration!”

I wish it was my sixth birthday today, he thought. Maybe then Mother would have seated him next to one of the important Ministry people Father had invited in his honour. Someone actually interesting. Or that the Bulstrodes were here, because Millicents grandmother was terrifying but speaking with her was what Mother called ‘a real education’. Nothing like being stuck with Pansy’s elderly aunt.

He did his best to imitate the noise Father made when he found it ‘opportune' to appear 'suitably impressed’. It seemed the right reaction to the speculation that “A Prefect’s badge is practically already on its way to her!” Anything was better, he thought, than going back to trilling about how adorable he and Pansy were.

When the right moment came, he would ask her about her prize bush of Dittany, the only thing about her that Grandmother had thought worth complimenting.

 

June 5th, 1995

That went well, Draco thought to himself. He’d felt a little silly talking to Miss Skeeter while she was a beetle sitting on the palm of his hand, but Vincent and Gregory had made sure nobody disturbed them. Even if someone happened to see them - and dared to mock him - it would all be worth it in a few days’ time. He just had to be patient.

“Father always says that Malfoys have to tell the world how it should be seen,” he announced just loud enough that Vince and Greg would hear, just as he was sure that they’d heared him recount his vivid memories of all the times they’d all heard Potter speak Parselmouth. “Luckily, there are still journalists whose professional integrity forbids them to fawn over a Triwizard Champion.”

Mother would be proud when she read the article, even if Skeeter might forego mentioning Draco by name. The sight of it might even put Professor Snape in a better mood.

“Will it really get in the Prophet?” Vince asked as they trudged back toward the Dungeon.

“Every word,” Draco confirmed. “Give or take a minor edit. Did one of you want to talk to her?” he asked as if belatedly and smiled in satisfaction when Vince denied it promptly, appalled,

“Nah, Draco, you tell it so much better than we ever could.”

“Genius,” Greg rumbled, and Draco allowed himself to grin, remembering that one of the stories he’d spun Skeeter had been based on a nightmare a thirteen-year-old Greg had had.

 

June 5th, 2005

“Never thought I’d see the day,” Draco muttered for what had to be the twelfth time since Blaise had arrived on the Manor’s door step as a surprise morning guest. He’d say it for a thirteenth and fourteenth time before long. It was uncanny. Blaise Zabini didn’t just up and like one of his step-fathers.

He stared at the insurmountable stack of books in front of him and fought down an unacceptable frisson of despair. He and Neville had planned to watch the school year’s last Quidditch match in lieu of a proper celebration. Now, Draco would have to be very, very lucky to find what he needed before either the Gryffindor or the Ravenclaw Seeker got the Snitch.

I have Winky, he reminded himself, custom-made Pepper-Up, Neville’s Antarctic Begonia and its brain-stimulating chant, and a Portkey to London for when I’m done. Together, surely these additives would help him discover a way to legally protect the man from Mrs. Zabini’s abrupt displeasure.

A simple annulment wouldn’t do, which left the first ever divorce in the Zabini family, which meant that Draco had to conceive of a way to separate their assets so that everyone would be satisfied. Something substantial for the most recent Mr. Zabini to present his wife’s lawyers with first thing in the morning. Something solid enough to spare ‘Albert’ the methods Blaise’s mother usually employed to rid herself of her husbands.

It would be a lot easier to simply fake the man’s death.

At least with Blaise and his own sharp mind busy taking the unhappy couple on a surprise outing to buy time - protective Auror custody and a Fidelius had done nothing to protect step-fathers two and five – there would be no need to justify having moved his research into the teacher’s quarters at Gryffindor tower.

Two hours until Hooch blew the opening whistle. Draco took a fortifying breath and dove into his heretofore most beneficial legal tome with determination.

 

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