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Forbidden Fruit

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The summer holidays had been boring for Draco. He regarded the calendar on his wall whistfully, but no matter how much he wished it, July was undoubtedly still glaring back at him. Hogwarts might be full of mudbloods and idiots like Dumbledore and the Weasleys, but there was at the very least something always happening. The Malfoy estate was regal, impressive, and extremely dull, with the exception of the forbidden cellar.

Lucius Malfoy loved collecting things that were both rare and dangerous. Occasionally, he reminded Draco unpleasantly of Hagrid in that respect, but there was one great difference between the two: Lucius never for a moment pretended that the exotic “pets” he kept in his cellar were anything other than evil. That was, after all, the entire point.

Draco waited until his mother was off on a shopping trip to Paris and his father was away on business at the Ministry before deftly breaking all the warding charms to enter what amounted to his father’s personal menagerie. There was a long corridor filled with glass-fronted cells, the partitions charmed to be unbreakable. Slowly, Draco made his way from pen to pen, regarding a murderous harpy and an equally vicious manticore. He paused for long time before three sirens, all carefully gagged and nearly naked, unutterably beautiful but as deadly as they were alluring.

“You like them,” said a voice in the next cell, one he had not yet visited.

“I’m a sixteen year old boy,” he replied snidely. “If it’s female, pretty, and naked, of course I’m going to like it.”

There was a strangely childlike laugh, and Draco peered into the next cage. There was a woman inside it, about his height and slim as a reed. Her white dress seemed almost to glow in the dim light, and her black hair hung loose around her shoulders, making her skin nearly as white as her gown. It was her eyes, though, that were his undoing: blue as sapphire and flecked with gold. She certainly looked human, though.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“A princess,” she replied, and her eyes never blinked once. It was unsettling, almost as though she were a snake, and yet Draco found he couldn’t look away.

“Right. Princess of what, exactly?” he said, but it didn’t come out quite as caustic as he had planned.

“Fairies. Moonlight. Bits and pieces of the future. Would you like me to tell your fortune, dearie? Hmm?” she asked as she swayed back and forth, and it took Draco a moment to realize that his body was moving in the same motion, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. “Pretty skull and snake on your forearm, hissing black death and venom, going to the one with eyes of red and face flat as the viper. It’s a long tumble from the tower, but the Prince takes you under his wing to fly.”

“I… what?” he said, snapping back to himself. “You’re a seer?”

“Mmm,” she replied as she skimmed her hands lightly over her bodice. “Let me out so we can play? I know such lovely games, little dragon.”

Draco’s hand was moving of its own volition towards the switch that would open her door when suddenly a wooden cane came crashing down upon his knuckles, drawing blood and making him see stars.

“Return upstairs, Draco,” Lucius said in an enraged whisper.

“But Father, I…” he began to say as he glanced back over his shoulder at the girl, only to find that a nightmarish creature, her features both feline and reptilian, had taken her place, its eyes locked on the scarlet drops spattering from his hand to the floor.

“Now,” Lucius said, his tone cold as death. “We shall discuss this at some length.”

“Yes, Father,” Draco said, his voice rather high as he retreated down the hallway, past the other captives, and made a mental vow never to return.

“Drusilla,” Lucius said, regarding the demon who had nearly succeeded in bewitching his son into her release, “there will be no meals for a week.”

She whined pitifully, her face returning to its human mask.

“However,” he added, glancing in the direction of his son’s retreating form, “should my son disobey me again, I shall not intervene between you and your prey.”

She blinked at him, then threw her head back in a raucous laugh.

“So like my own Daddy you are, luscious Lucius,” she said as he exited, cane tapping like a cracked skull over the paving stones.