Draco Malfoy begins taking you on regular trips to the little magical shopping area. Each time you get an ice cream and sit and observe the culture. You don't take notes but you watch, you catalog, you learn. You wear the dresses he provides – dresses he calls robes - and memorize the way people move, the way they interact, the very cadence of their speech. There's a distinct class system, you realize, one that's almost Victorian. Draco puts on a different set of manners once they enter his world; he opens doors and attends to your every need. He fetches. He carries. No one's ever kissed your fingertips quite this much and it would be funny if it didn't also reek of unspoken warnings to everyone who sees him. Every touch of your elbow is a claim of possession. Every opened door is a statement you belong to the class that demands courtesy.
You need to learn this.
You plan to rub that you're the one they left out in their arrogant, magical faces but you don't plan to make any mistakes. Anything – any one thing – you get wrong will mark you as a cultural outsider. These people – these wizards – probably aren't even self-aware enough to know why they'll find you dismissible if you call a Healer a Doctor or a dress robes, they just will.
Draco protects you from having to interact yet. He's talked about having his mother help you learn to blend in and you find that very interesting. Why, you wonder, would a member of the cultural elite want to help her son's little project? What's in it for her?
Draco takes care to hide the mark burned into his arm whenever you're in his world. You see how people treat him with deference, with a little fear, with a little resentment. You see how some girls try to catch his eye, how they look at you as an obstacle. You see how others turn their backs on him and make a point of not seeing him.
Conflict, indeed. Maybe, you think, it's time to get a little more clarity on that.
"She's not a princess," a burly ginger-haired man says. "She's a Muggle-born, and teaching her magic was against every single law we have. The moment she discovered it existed she should have been Obliviated just like any other Muggle for her own protection."
"And ours," someone agreed.
"I discovered magic existed before I even started school," Hermione said looking at the crowd with a hint of fury behind her seemingly placid mask. "Draco didn't teach me about magic," she said, "he just taught me how all of you are mind-controlling scum dependent upon wands."
"Everyone needs wands," someone protested.
"Your bogeyman didn't," Hermione said. "He taught himself wandless magic in his orphanage before you deigned to offer him the gift of your fine instruction. I had many more years thinking I was a freak, many more years as an outcast." She smiled at them. "I'm therefore much better than he was."
"Is," said a dark-haired man with startling green eyes. "Only one person can kill him. The prophecy."
"Was," she repeated. "Divination's a bit tricky to interpret. Always with the loopholes." She smiled again. "Perhaps a little more reading of Sophocles and less worrying about wand waving was in order? I understand you were raised as the lamb for the slaughter but go forth, little man, and be free. You won't be ruling Thebes."
Draco smothered a laugh at how confused Harry Potter looked. The Greek classics hasn't been part of his education, that was clear.
Draco nearly flinched when Hermione just began to roll up his sleeve. "Explain," she said, her fingers on his Dark Mark. He hadn't wanted to do this quite so soon. Death Eaters struck him as a difficult group to make her understand, especially given the blood purity rhetoric.
"There are two sides," he said at last.
"There usually are," she agreed.
"Triangles have three," he muttered and she laughed. "I'm on one side," he said at last. "That Mark is a symbol of my… allegiance, I guess? My rank within the movement?" He rubbed at his face and sat down at a bench in their little Muggle park. She sat next to him and tucked on foot up under her leg and waited. "We're the side that advocated blood purity."
She nodded. She'd done enough reading to know that that meant and to know what that meant for her. "Do you still?" she asked. "Do you?"
"The other side almost conceded that," he said. She took his hand and, heartened, he went on. "When they kept Muggle-borns away from school they… most of the adults fled to the continent. They had to register, you see, there was a commission, and we took their wands away so they couldn't do magic." He glanced over at her at that and the roll of her eyes made him smile, though just a little. He'd like to see someone try to take her magic away. "There's no one left, I don't think, not in all of Britain, so – "
"So now the excuse is?" she asked
"Dark magic," he said. "Traditionalism. Oppression."
"You're for oppression?"
"Oddly," he said, "given the treatment of the Muggle-born, no. We're for, well, limited government regulations. An it harm none do as ye will and such." He took a deep breath. "The other side says that magic should be controlled. That we need to keep it locked down to keep Muggles from finding out." He squeezed her hand and fell silent.
"What's Dark magic?" She looked away from him and did her bird summoning trick. A sparrow flew over and perched on her finger, chirping in confusion before it serenaded them. "Is this?"
"Yes," he said. "Imperius Curse, control of another creature. Instant sentence to Azkaban. Prison."
"Funny," she said, "since the whole thing is about who has control." She scooted closer and leaned her head on his shoulder and Draco let go of tension he hadn't realized he had. "That little obliviation trick seems worse than making a bird sing."
"You could make me sing," he pointed out. "You could make me stab someone."
"Your Death Eaters are going to hate me," she observed.
"You are proof that Muggle-borns can be – "
"Better than they are," she said. "I will be better than all of them." She closed her eyes. "And the side that kept me out of your little school, out of your world, will regret their misguided attempt to keep me safe. How insulting could they be?"
"You would have been – "
"Just teach me," she said. "My little elitist boyfriend. Teach me."
He froze at the words. She turned her face to him and looked down at the eyes she opened a crack so she could squint at him. "Or have I misread the snake?" she asked.
"It's a bit more than a boyfriend, if not quite a fiancee," he said at last. "Is that what you want?"
She reached a hand up and settled it behind his head, tugging his mouth down toward hers. Draco let his lips press against hers and felt the way her cool, self-confident body language faltered a little at the touch. This was new to her, he realized, and felt a fierce burn of satisfaction. Even most pureblood girls wouldn't have come to him this untouched. Purity, he thought, always conquers, and as he shifted on the bench to face her more easily, as he tucked his hands on either side of her face, he let himself by conquered.
When he finally broke away from her she said, a little breathless, "So what are we?"
"As much as you want," he said, pulling a thumb along the line of her jaw. "But I intend to treat you like the most cloistered pureblood Britain has ever seen so if you want more than a few stolen kisses, ice cream, and spell lessons you'll have to wait."
"I want everything," she said. "I want your whole goddamned world at my feet." She leaned forward so her lips were at his ear. "I want your blood purist fanatics to know they're less than me. I want the people who'd steal my mind to protect me weeping on their knees at my feet." She took a deep breath and added, almost as if she expected him to argue, "I want you. You're the only person in this whole mess I trust."
Draco hid his satisfaction and just brushed his nose across hers. "It's definitely time for you to meet my mother," he said.
You watch the blond boy walk away from the park with a new swagger in his step. High status indeed. Hogwarts: A History tried to gloss over the importance aristocratic families play in the wizarding world, and it had taken you three hours to figure out a way to magically index the tome, but once you had you'd noted how many Malfoys seemed to occupy high positions.
Of course, even if you hadn't done that work, the way he was treated in Diagon Alley would have let you know. Draco Malfoy is, as your more tasteless peers would have said, a catch.
You wonder if he's actually good at kissing. You don't have any comparison but you decide it doesn't matter. He's smart. He's pleasant to look at. He's an in to a world you want and he's more than willing to sponsor - meaning marry - you. You even like him. You think his plan to treat you as a veritable princess is, politically, a good one. You suspect he didn't come up with it on his own and so you look forward to meeting this mother.
Narcissa Malfoy lay back on their bed, thighs sticky and a satiated smiled on her face as Lucius propped himself on an elbow and looked at his wife. With the ease of long partnership he continued a conversation their passion had interrupted and asked, "A Muggle-born, Ciss? Really? If the Greengrass girl is that abhorrent to the boy I'm sure we can find someone else. Maybe a little French thing?"
"Trust me," Narcissa said.
"With my life," Lucius said. "It's simply that sponsoring a Muggle-born is quite the statement. Are you absolutely sure?"
"An angry, beautiful girl, kept from her rightful heritage, blaming Dumbledore?" Narcissa said softly. "She's a story. She's a legend. She's romance and vengeance and a pretty face rolled into one, nearly perfect, package. Get a Mark on her arm, or perhaps even not, and she'll be a force, a force we control A force Draco controls."
"Forgive me if I find myself doubting this girl, however pretty she is, and however much she's ensnared our son with her exoticism, can stand up to the Order. As much as I hate to concede the fact, the truth is the Aurors and their ilk are not incompetent."
"She taught herself controllable, wandless magic," Narcissa said. This was, in the end, what had led her to agree to Draco's request that she tutor the girl. Not in Potions, though the children would certainly make use of the lab she'd had added in a room adjacent to the kitchen, but in fitting in; in passing. Narcissa had been impressed the girl was clever enough to know magical power would not be enough. She studies people, Draco had told her. She sits in that ice cream parlour and watches everything and every time we go into Diagon Alley she refines the body language a bit more. I didn't even realize some of the things she did were jarring until she began turning them off as if with a flick of a wand when we passed into our world, he'd said. That – that wisdom mixed with that level of cool calculation and dissembling – had made something flutter inside what passed for Narcissa Malfoy's heart. The Malfoys, to her mind, were royalty, the Blacks even more exalted. And who, really, were the Gaunts? Impoverished, inbred monsters who talked to snakes.
If their world could embrace that, how quickly would they take to this girl? How many people could this girl wrap around her finger? Narcissa was willing to bet all of them.
Lucius took a moment to process that this girl of Draco's could do wandless magic before he let out a low whistle. "No one's done that since – "
"Exactly," Narcissa said. She reached a hand over to rest on her husband's chest. "Let's keep sight of the true goal, love, and not allow ourselves to be bogged down by ideology."
"So she'll be working in the house Potions lab?" Lucius asked, conceding to his wife's desire to take this mystery girl under her wing.
"I'm sure I'll take her out for tea once or twice," Narcissa said. "She's been seen on Draco's arm multiple times, after all. If I don't sip some fluid or other with her in public people will start to talk."
"You know best," Lucius said.
Narcissa Malfoy smiled in satisfaction as the Muggle-born girl she shaped and taught and married to her son killed the other king on the chess board. No Riddle, no Dumbledore, and the Death Eaters, easily impressed followers that they were, firmly in the hand of her daughter-in-law. She wondered how long it would take to place Draco in the position of Minister. She wondered if the boy would ever realize the queens were the most powerful pieces on the board.
"What now?" asked one of the interchangeable Weasleys.
Hermione glanced at Narcissa before she broke the man's wand and tossed the pieces to the floor. "What you had planned for me," she said. "A life without magic. It'll keep you safer from what we plan to do."
Narcissa couldn't help herself; she laughed at that and the sound rang through the room with its vast ceiling and silent, shocked losers.
You like Draco's mother, this dainty Narcissa with her pale hair and her delicate features and her cultivated smile. You like her even though it's clear than under her apparent delight at meeting you, under her guided tour of a home so big you're surprised it doesn't have Public Days every spring, and under her polite inquiry into how you take your tea, it's clear that she sees you as a tool that's been fitted to her tiny hand.
Draco, of course, adores her.
Still, even knowing she means to use you, you can't help but like her obvious competence, her appreciation for your usefulness, her determination to make you even more useful. You'd be nice even if you didn't plan to use her in turn to ferret out every last nuance of how to move in her world, how to exude wealth and privilege without seeming to try. How to win.
You remember the hearty ginger who eyed you your first day in Diagon Alley and you plan to make sure he feels like an uncouth rube in your presence. Then you plan to evict him from his world and let him live with only what pathetic magic he can summon from his coarse fingertips.
"When we introduce you to… certain people… Narcissa says, I think it's important that we make sure to allude to your heritage without making it –
- uncomfortable for them, you say, and smile. Like a princess in homespun.
Who still has perfect hair and no dirt under her nails, Narcissa says. Exactly.
The two of you smile at one another in unexpected, perfect accord while Draco stands at your side and asks, in genuine confusion, what's homespun?
~ finis ~
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A/N - This story was spawned as a result of a prompt on tumblr. I wrote the bulk of it in a burst in September of 2015 then sat on it until Ibuzoo inspired me with her own then/now structure to shape it using that format. I highly recommend all her work.