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Fire and Rain

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Draco

 

“It’s despicable, that is.”

“I can’t believe they let his sort in.”

“You’d think he wouldn’t be allowed in Diagon Alley at all.”

“Azkaban. That’s where he belongs, with his father and the like.”

“Shameful.”

Draco ignored the barely hushed voices and made his way to the counter of Slug & Jiggers. He set the bundle of porcupine quills and the jar of dragon liver down. The shopkeeper put them on the scales to weigh them out. His eyes strayed to Draco’s wrist, where his robes had ridden up a bit. Draco hastily tugged the sleeve back down.  

“That’ll be five Galleons.” The shopkeeper glared at Draco and slid the parchment across the counter.  

He was positively mad. Draco knew for certain the sign on the shelf read 19 sickles an ounce for the dragon liver and porcupine quills were only 20 knuts a bundle. Not a chance was that over two ounces of liver. Draco looked up from the parchment to meet the shopkeeper’s challenging stare. He opened his mouth, about to argue the absurdity of the charge, but stopped himself.

There was a voice from the queue behind him. “Come on, then!”

Another voice tutted in response.  

Draco narrowed his eyes as he handed over the coins. He stalked out of the shop amid further whisperings. Just as the door closed, Draco felt something sizzle and fly by his cheek. He wished it was pure luck he’d taken to wearing one of the shield hats from Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes instead of wearing it for necessity. It took too much effort to maintain a shield around his person and still be able to manouevre the shops. The charmed hat would have to do.  

Draco picked up his steps, eager to get the day over with. He knew this routine enough to know he needed to get out before a few curses became several. Flourish & Blotts would have to wait for another day. He tucked the liver and quills into the pocket of his cloak as he turned the corner and ran smack into Dennis Creevy. No longer the little twerp that followed Potter tirelessly taking photographs with his brother. No, this was a fully grown Dennis Creevy. One who evidently bore Draco no good will, judging by the man’s reaction.  

Creevy’s eyes widened and half a second later the shock became rage. Creevy’s hand went for his wand. Draco dared not reach for his own. In an instant Draco was up against the wall, bricks digging into his back, wand tip singeing his throat.   

A few wizards and witches gathered around behind Creevy. Draco’s gaze swept over them, looking for someone that might step in, but his heart sank when he recognised most of them as the tutting patrons of Slug & Jiggers. Some of whom looked eager to get in on the action. He was entirely surrounded, but even so Draco didn’t reach for his wand.  

“You dare walk these streets,” Creevy’s reedy thin voice wheezed out. “After everything you’ve done!”

The wand tip at his throat surged with heat.  

“I LOST MY BROTHER BECAUSE OF YOU!” He screamed at Draco, flecks of spittle flew out in every direction.  

Murmurs began spreading through the onlookers. Draco distinctly heard the words “Death Eater scum” and “Azkaban” in the lot.  

“What?” Creevy continued, “Got nothing to say for yourself?”

Honestly, Draco didn’t. Not that he’d say so to this man, who was clearly grieving. Draco couldn’t even meet his eyes. What was there to say? That it was true? That he regretted everything about his life? That he was sorry? As if that would make any difference. It didn’t sway public opinion at his trial and it wouldn’t make a difference now. Draco did nothing to defend himself.  

The shouting drew quite a crowd. He heard the murmuring grow louder. Someone spit at his feet. Draco continued to stare at the ground. If this was how he met his end, it was a far better ending than he deserved.  

But a hush fell over the crowd of would be rabble-rousers.  

“Let him go, Dennis.”  

Shit. He knew that voice. It just had to be Weasley stepping in, didn’t it. A large boot planted itself near Creevy’s in Draco’s narrow field of vision.  

“You can’t expect me to just-” Creevy, still manic, yelled out.  

“Come on, mate. Let him go.” Weasley’s voice was empathetic, oozing with concern.  Draco hated him.

“But he! He.. Collin.. My brother died!” Creevy’s voice broke down into sobs.  

“I know.” Weasley said, gently. “We all lost people.”  

Creevy took a deep, shuddering breath. The wand at Draco’s neck shook slightly as Creevy lowered it.  

Weasley turned to the onlookers, “Alright. Bugger off, you lot! No one’s getting their bollocks hexed off.”

Creevy cast Draco one final scathing glance and then turned to leave. He strode off without another look. Draco finally looked up and met Weasley’s steady gaze. In full Auror kit, even Draco had to admit he was quite a sight. No longer the tall and gangly ginger he remembered from Hogwarts. Weasley had filled out, now broad and intimidating.  

“Alright, Malfoy?” he asked, his voice calm, as though he was pacifying a cornered feral animal.  

Draco felt himself flush. He looked away and nodded. Neither of them said anything for a moment.  

Weasley said, “Right.” and turned at the same moment Draco said “Look-”

Weasley stopped and turned back, his face cautious.  

Draco took a deep breath and swallowed what little pride he had left.  

“Thank you, Weasley. You didn’t have to do that.”

“Ah well, technically I did.” He plucked at his uniform. “Auror, see.” 

“Right. Well. You didn’t have to step in when you did. You could have let him hex me. No one would have faulted you.”

Weasley stared at him in stony silence for a moment. “I know.” Weasley crossed his arms. “That’s one of the many differences between us, Malfoy. I would never abuse my position.”

Draco paled. “That’s not what I meant,” he blurted. “I was merely attempting to convey gratitude.”

“I know, I know.” Weasley looked him up and down. “Stay out of trouble Malfoy.”  

With that, he left. Draco watched him go and calculated the chances of Potter finding out about the incident. It didn’t bode well for him. Yet another instance of Draco making a prat of himself in public. Requiring rescue from the still Golden Trio. Abhorrent, that. But there was nothing he could do about it, he thought glumly as he turned round the bend into Knockturn Alley.

 

Draco sat at a table in the corner, near the back. He had a view of the entrance, but the place was dim enough that no one could see him looking out. Knockturn Alley wasn’t the most glamorous place to have coffee in Wizarding London but, Merlin forbid, he tried to appear in Diagon Alley again soon. Today showed just how poorly that worked out. At least none of the hexes landed this time. Draco tried to get into Gringotts last month and nearly had his arse hexed to pieces. Knockturn Alley, it was.

He wasn’t sure that what the young lady served him could be considered tea. It was closer to tap water with a leafy aftertaste. Draco wasn’t about to antagonise one of the few establishments that still allowed him in by sending it back. He drank the leaf water without comment. Blaise was to meet him a half past four and it was only a quarter after. Draco could make it fifteen minutes with no one noticing him, he was sure of it. Especially here. Most people in Knockturn Alley didn’t want to draw attention to themselves.

He watched the traffic move through the cafe and thought, as he often did, of Potter. Draco made it through the trials in a haze. He had a hard time telling if the despair, humiliation, or relief were stronger. Most of the time, he felt numb. The families with loved ones who died at Hogwarts were the worst of it. They sat there in the front. Witnesses to his list of atrocities. Draco couldn’t look at them, he felt sick. He brought this on them. He alone let the Death Eaters into Hogwarts. Every single person who died did so because of him. The Dark Lord had been trying to get to Hogwarts for fifty years and it was Draco who finally helped him succeed. He was sure he was going to Azkaban for life, alongside his father. But then Potter happened, as he always does. With his unyielding heroism and ridiculous hair. Going around sticking up for people who don’t want it and certainly don’t deserve it. Wasn’t it enough Potter had pulled him from the fire? Couldn’t he bugger off and let Draco rot away in prison like a normal person? But nothing about Potter was normal, was it? Course not.

Honestly, Draco didn’t know which part was worse. That Potter had so valiantly spoken on his behalf or that he wouldn’t meet Draco’s eye afterward. It was almost a relief that Potter avoided looking at him. Almost. Draco didn’t know what he would see in those green eyes. But it wasn’t hatred, not anymore. And Draco didn’t know what to do with that.

“Brooding again, eh Draco?”

He looked up to find Blaise Zabini standing at this side. Draco stood and shook his hand. “Please, sit down” he gestured toward the chair, “And no, I wasn’t brooding. I never brood.”

“Tell that to your face, mate. So what were you brooding about? Potter?”

Draco scowled at him.

Blaise laughed. “Is that not the Potter-Brooding face we’ve all come to know and love?”

Draco narrowed his eyes. “You. Are. Mistaken,” he said in the most intimidating posh voice he could manage.

Blaise smirked at him, eyes sparkling. “Apologies. I must have been mistaken.” he imitated Draco’s pronunciation of the word. “Never once has Draco Malfoy spent his nights brooding over The Golden Boy.”

Draco arched an eyebrow. “Apology accepted. Tea?” He glanced up to get the server’s attention.

“Is that what that is?” Blaise peered suspiciously into Draco’s cup. “I’ll pass. Is the coffee any better?”

“No idea.”

“Hm. Best hold off for now. How’s your mother?”

“She’s well. France agrees with her. She’s trying to convince me to come live there year round.”

“Smart woman.” Blaise winked at him.

“Quite. And how is your mother doing? She’s married again recently, hasn’t she?”

“She has, at that.”

“Think it will last?” Draco asked with a sly smile.

Blaise laughed, “Does it ever?”

The server came to take Blaise’s order, and he bravely asked not only for a coffee but a cheese danish as well. She simpered at him and batted her eyelashes. It took ages for the words to make it from Blaise’s mouth onto the pad of paper. Draco wondered if she had brain damage of some sort. Blaise positively preened under her gaze.

“You’re eating out of that pastry case?” asked Draco after she’d sauntered away. “Are you sure you’re not a Gryffindor?”

“Something wrong with it?”

“That depends on how much mould you like with your danish.” Draco scoffed.

Blaise leaned back in his seat to watch the young lady show off her ample behind. The amount of wiggle was more than strictly necessary for retrieving pastry. “It doesn’t look so bad from here.”

“Ugh. Breeders.” said Draco with disgust.

“What was that?”

“Nothing. Merely enjoying the beginnings of your mating ritual.” Draco replied, looking down his nose.

Blaise rolled his eyes. “Are you going, then?”

“Going where?”

“To France, you twit.”

“Oh.” Draco looked down at the water in his mug that was pretending to be tea. “I think not.”

“Why not? She seems to do alright. She’s happy there. Don’t you want to be happy?”

“I think it’s safe to say that ship has sailed.” Draco replied, carefully not meeting his eyes.

Blaise’s eyes softened. He opened his mouth, but Draco cut him off.

“Look, I wanted to speak to you about a potential business venture.”

Blaise sat up immediately, all traces of concern gone. “Do tell.”

“As you know-”

The server arrived then and delivered the Danish and coffee to Blaise. More batting of the eyes, ogling of the cleavage, and all around undressing with the eyes was to be had. Draco very much regretted asking to meet Blaise in a public place. It had been so long since he’d been out with his mates he’d forgotten how lascivious Blaise could be. It was almost as repulsive as going out with Pansy. He’d gone out with her once, and never again. Draco had no interest in watching her drape herself desperately over any lad looking her way in some sort of misguided attempt to make Draco jealous. At least Blaise was still clothed. Either way, his friends seemed to lack any inhibitions of their libidos. Draco, struggled to even feign an interest in finding a partner. It seemed disingenuous to attempt to meet someone, even if only for a night. Not in the Wizarding World, anyway.

No, Draco spent most of his post-trial years thus far tending to his mother. Looking after the Malfoy estate. Ignoring his lack of amorous opportunities. After a few years of back and forth between the Ministry and his solicitor, they’d come to an agreement about what the Malfoys would be permitted to keep. Draco still had that odious task to look forward to this week.

“You were saying?”

Draco started and looked up from his “tea” to see Blaise watching him expectantly. Draco glanced over to see the server busying about behind the counter. “Oh, have you finished fornicating in public?” said Draco. “Or did you need me to give you a moment for the two of you to finish up?”

Blaise smirked at him. “We can’t all be prudes, Draco.”

“I’m not a prude. I’ve got standards, is all.”

Blaise coughed something that sounded too close to “Potter” for Draco’s comfort. Draco glared at him.

Blaise raised his eyebrows and feigned innocence, “You mentioned a business opportunity?”

 

After reaching a satisfactory arrangement with Blaise, Draco returned to the Manor. To face a far less satisfactory arrangement.  He waited for the Ministry Officials to arrive with dread. Aunt Andromeda and his mother took the most illustrious of the Black Family heirlooms to the countryside in France. They did not list the items in the Assets his mother had sent to the solicitor.. Exuberant Ministry Officials seized many of the remaining Malfoy relics. 

It was disgusting watching them haul away the Malfoy library in particular. They didn’t even have the forethought to pack the books into properly sectioned trunks. They waved their grubby wands and paid no heed to what went where. If the Ministry Officials were stupid enough to put Insidious Serenades in with Burke’s Encyclopaedia of the Derelict Arts, it was their own fault when their ears bled out. Draco certainly felt no compunction to warn them. Everyone with a cursory knowledge of wizarding history knew Caractacus Burke loathed music.

The remaining furniture seemed only to highlight how much had been taken. Most of Draco’s life spent either at Hogwarts or at The Manor, and he was likely never to see either again. Though, in his opinion, Malfoy Manor, much like the Malfoy family themselves, was tainted. Forever. Walking through the Manor now made Draco feel hollowed out. Gone were the days he could be delusionally proud of his heritage. If Draco never stepped foot on the place again, it’d be fine by him.

The Ministry of Magic amerced much of the Malfoy funds. Despite this, Draco still had enough to get by without having to join the workforce. His mother had been wise enough to keep his trust in the Black family name. 

Draco debated his next move. His father was in Azkaban. His mother was in France, getting newly acquainted with the long estranged Andromeda. Which left Draco at a bit of a loss. Family had always come first, right until it didn’t. Until he returned. Draco shivered and looked back out his window. Mother wrote often, insisting Draco come join them. But it only took one meeting with his aunt to know Draco would never be able to go permanently. He was directly responsible for killing her daughter and orphaning her grandson. Draco spent the entire evening after the meeting retching. France might have brought his mother some comfort, but it never would for him.

There was nothing for it: he’d have to get a flat. And he wasn’t sure that anyone in Wizarding London would let to him. Draco sighed. Muggle London it was.

He was going to have to wear muggle clothing. 

And use muggle money.  

He shuddered.