Title: The Favour
Summary: Draco Malfoy continues to suffer the consequences of his father's actions during the war. The Malfoy name has been shattered and trampled, and he has next to nothing left – nothing except Severus Snape's promise to help. Severus has friends in high places, and Draco is eager to take advantage. Ginny Weasley has just divorced Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived, The Chosen One, and is trying to forge a new identity for herself from the ashes of her marriage. She needs just one person to recognise her as the person outside of her childhood sweetheart, and luckily, that one person is just through the Floo. DM/GW EWE
Rating: M for language and some sexual references/situations.
Pairings: DM/GW with a side of HG/SS
Disclaimer: I do not own the works herein, all characters from the Harry Potter Universe belong to JK Rowling, and all characters, storylines, situations, plots and the like do not belong to me. I make no money from this work. I do not own the works herein, all characters from the Harry Potter Universe belong to JK Rowling, and all characters, storylines, situations, plots and the like do not belong to me. I make no money from this work.
"I must admit, Severus, I did not expect to see you back here."
Draco paused on the stairs, one hand on the icy stone wall, as he listened to his father – ha. Lucius's voice drifted across to him easily through the corridor, a little worse for wear, but still holding all of the imperiousness it commanded before his imprisonment. The cool blue light from the Auror's patronus shifted as it turned a head to wait for him to move, but Draco couldn't. He found himself, as he usually did, facing a moral dilemma. His father deserved his respect, his love, his visitation, yes. But did Lucius Malfoy?
It had been this question that had sent him hurtling back down the stairs and out onto the rocks of the island every single time he had approached in the past year, never making it further than this very spot. And even that came after four years of retching and crying whenever his father's name was mentioned. The Aurors had begun to shake their heads and roll their eyes when he would arrive for visitation, and at this point, even the thrice-damned patronus seemed to pity him. One hand came up to scrub over his face, pull through his hair. Gods above. And now, not only would he have to deal with his father – the man who had stolen his childhood and twisted his person to serve his nutter of a master – but he would also have to deal with Severus Snape. Draco, overwhelmed, pressed his forehead to the damp bricks, praying for help. Praying for the strength that he had been denied for so many years. Strands of matted white hair tickled his lips, his eyes, his cheeks; grounding him.
The snarky, smooth tones of his old Potion's Professor soothed his riotous soul, despite his conscience demanding that he had no right to any such calm.
"Thirty years of kinship is not so easily… abandoned."
Twenty three years of fatherhood, however.
Draco groaned lightly, nipping the skin of his neck to chase away his own traitorous thoughts. It would do no good for him to dwell on old grudges now. Not if his job was to be done, not if he wanted his mother to smile again. The patronus snickered, pawing at the dusty ground with one hoof as he waited.
Was it just Draco, or did it look impatient?
Lucius chuckled, a breathy sound that was immediately followed by a cough that caused Draco's heart to hurt. He nipped himself again, trying to calm the attempt to free itself from his ribcage. Lucius was muttering something to Severus, who had snorted. Snorted. Draco rolled his eyes, for a moment irritation taking over his swarm of emotions and carrying him up the rest of the steps. The patronus harrumphed, shooting Draco a glare, and then continued down the corridor towards where 'High Security' prisoners were now held. How Lucius Malfoy could be classed as high security, it was anyone's guess, but then again he was a Malfoy, and Malfoys were always at the top of the list – even if that list is titled "nefarious war criminals". Remembering his place, Draco quickened his pace to a saunter and painted on his patented Malfoy-sneer. If he were to finally face his father, he would do it with his head held high, holding all of the dignity expected of the Malfoy heir.
The shadows flickered and shifted as they turned a corner, and then Draco was treated to the sight of his godfather leaning casually against the bars holding in his real father. Severus was studying the heavens, his arms folded across his chest, a mask of casual indifference settled across his features. He barely looked any different than when Draco had seen him last, though he had replaced his teaching robes with a more casual set – still black, still billowing. Draco resisted the temptation to roll his eyes once more; it had been six years and the man still wore his cold heart as a shield.
Severus glanced down at the approach of the patronus, cocking an eyebrow as it opened its mouth to announce Draco's arrival. His eyes flicked back to the blonde wizard behind the horse, eyes widening slightly in surprise. A scrambling sound echoed, and Draco could finally see his father.
His hair was in only slightly worse shape than his son's, platinum waves tangling and tumbling over his shoulders and down the neck of his Azkaban clothes. His face was still set in a scornful twist, but it did not inflict the fear that it had years before – oh, no. He was too gaunt for that. His once-stormy grey eyes were carved further into his skull, the whites looking dull next to the purple bruises caused by years of insomnia and dementor-driven depression. His cane had been replaced by a wooden – well, it was no more than a stick, really. Seeing it in person had Draco faltering slightly, though he recovered quickly. He had known, of course, of his father's state. He even had his old cane, the disgusting head having been long-ago sold for spare galleons. But it was different, of course, to be here. To see the once great man ripped into nothing. It caused Draco no small amount of guilt to see his father, but he had a job to do.
His chin shoved into the air, he pulled together all of the airs and graces he had accumulated in his short life and glared down at his father.
"Father," he nodded, and then turned to his godfather. "Master Snape, I hope you are well."
Lucius scoffed from somewhere behind Draco, a sad sound in that it only reminded him of how lost his father truly was. Severus nodded in greeting, his face still blank. Draco regarded the man who had helped raise him for a moment more. He had gained weight, Draco noted. Not too much, but he looked healthy, with his sunken cheeks filled in slightly and a foreign spark in his eyes. Satisfied that he was in fine fettle, Draco faced his father. "I hope I am not interrupting," he drawled, eyeing the sad state of the man, "Only, I have some business to discuss with you."
Lucius flicked his eyes to Severus before pulling himself to his full height. "There was a time during which Azkaban was not considered an acceptable place to discuss business, Draco. I would much prefer if this could wait until we were in a more…" He ran a finger along a bar with disdain, "proper setting."
A wave of rage flashed through his son, who couldn't resist hissing: "when one commits genocide, one should be grateful to have a setting at all."
Lucius waved his comment away indifferently. "Politics. Really Draco, you ought to learn to control that temper of yours."
"My apologies if I am a bit volatile while I visit my father in prison." He took a deep breath, closing his eyes for a moment as he attempted to practice control. "You need to sign over the estate."
His demand met deaf ears as Lucius examined his nail beds. "Severus, please remind my son that it is quite gauche to discuss money in good company."
Severus did not move, his black eyes glancing between his oldest friend and his godson. Draco took confidence from this and simply raised an eyebrow, an accurate impression of the man he stood beside. After waiting a moment, he simply shrugged and turned to the Severus. "If my father will not do as I ask, I shall not return. Now, Master Snape, how have you been?"
"Alive, which is more than I could have expected." Severus burred, watching Lucius. "How is your mother?"
"In St. Mungo's. It has been a difficult transition for us all." Nodding, Severus allowed his mask to fall for a moment to show Draco his sympathy.
"That is disappointing. Narcissa was always kind to me." Out of the corner of his eye, Draco could see his father's crestfallen expression, and couldn't resist the surge of anger that flowed over him. What right was it of his to care for Narcissa? He was the reason she was there in the first place. Her husband, the love of her life, had dragged her before a madman and given away their only son as sacrifice. It was none of his business what his mother was like.
But then again, if it made him sign over the estate, then all the better.
Severus did not cease his talking to examine the old man's features for more than a moment. "And how are you, Draco?"
"I am well, though it is difficult to keep up with my expenses and Mother's treatment at the same time. I'm sure you heard that my father's accounts have been frozen these past years. I have had to grow from nothing." He sent a sneer to his father, who had taken to leaning against the wall and ignoring them once more.
Distractedly, Severus brushed his eyes across Draco's person. He looked worse than he ever had – not less pretty, of course, but more… rugged. That phrase was applied quite generously to his personage by a grouchy Pansy Parkinson, who had come across Draco in Diagon Alley not two months ago. She had taken one look at his thread-bare robes, overgrown hair and pale, tired eyes and had said: "blimey Draco, are you sure you're not a Weasley?"
Draco had not spoken to her since.
"If you would like to go the legal route, Draco, I have some… friends who may be able to help. They aren't lawyers, per say, but they hold a fair bit of sway in the Ministry." Severus frowned as though it was painful for him to say the words. Draco's brain, however, had switched right on and was booting up. It took everything he had to not scream and laugh and cry all in that moment, but he couldn't resist a smile. Severus took this as an invitation to go on and nodded thoughtfully. "I am hosting a dinner on Friday which they will be attending. Are you amenable to that idea?"
Draco didn't even pause to remember his father in the cell, the fact that he was stood in a prison, the man he was with or even the fact that Malfoy men do not hug. He threw himself at Severus for in that moment he could see everything getting better. He could see himself moving back to the Manor, setting his mother up in her own home, paying off his debts, reclaiming his business interests… Salazar, it was all looking up in that moment. He didn't even think that it was strange when Severus wrapped his arms around him and chuckled softly, an awkward smile in his face. He was just too happy.
"Ginevra Potter, as I live and breathe! Well, I certainly didn't expect to see you here!"
Ginny grimaced, rubbing her temples in a desperate attempt to alleviate the blinding pain the screech had caused. "Yes, well." She glanced back at her group of friends as they gathered in the street, not yet noticing her absence. She had gone to the shop for peace, but far be it for her to be granted any of her wishes. "It's back to Weasley now."
The portly woman frowned slightly, tipping her head to one side in the universal sign of pity. It was all she could do to not run back into the street and scream. It had been a week. One measly week since the papers had been signed. It was bad enough that she had to cart around the evidence of her failed marriage in a hand-me-down pram, but did she really have to deal with this every time she left the house? She just wanted a contraceptive potion. That was all. She didn't particularly feel up to another debate on just who was to blame for the split, or just who was more prepared to raise a child. She just wanted some peace. There was only one of two ways that this could go, and neither was preferable.
"Oh, you poor girl!" Yep, that was one. Why every single person in Wizarding Britain thought they had the right to an opinion on her marital status, Ginny just did not know. "Are you alright?"
Ginny followed her script well – yes, I'm fine; yes, Harry is happy; yes, this is our child. His name? Oh, well, James, of course! No, I'm not quitting the team; yes, we are still friends – brothers, practically; no, I'm not seeing anyone; no, I'm not a lesbian now – and to her credit, did not punch anyone. The woman smiled and nodded and finally handed over the potion Ginny needed, which she stashed at the bottom of her pram. With one final comment – well, just in case, can't have another baby out of wedlock can I! – she pushed her way out of the door and across the street to where Hermione and Ron stood, bickering. Ginny coughed to announce her present, and both blushed to be caught, springing apart. "You're both married, shame on you!" She chastised gently, leaning down to check on her son.
"She insulted Quidditch – again!" Ron declared, narrowing his eyes at the bushy haired witch by his side.
"And? Sarah loves Quidditch." Ginny stepped between them, a hand on each of their chests to keep them apart. "Don't. You're lucky your spouses aren't here to witness this. You'd give them both a complex, what with this blatant foreplay." She glared at each of them in turn. "Hermione, don't be such a harpy. Ron, don't be such a prat. Are we done here? Where's George?"
Hermione sighed, her hands on her hips as she dipped her head. "Sorry, Gin. Old habits, eh?"
Ginny gave her a curt nod as Ron answered her other question. "He and Ange took Teddy to the WWW, wants to stock him up before he goes off to 'Dromeda's for the weekend. You know how she hates his 'little gifts'." They all summoned a groan, thinking of Andromeda emerging from the Grimmauld Place fireplace two months back with Teddy held out at arms length, covered in soot and dirt with bright green skin. She had been screaming bloody murder for George, who had instantly apparated home. It had taken a week to track him down for the counter-jinx to be administered, and since then Andromeda had banned George from watching Teddy unsupervised. She still looked a touch ill.
"Are you guys still coming over tomorrow?" Hermione asked as they meandered through the crowds towards the brightly coloured shop. Ginny wrinkled her nose at the idea, earning her a slap from her best friend. "Don't look at me like that, Ginny Weasley. You know you love our little get-togethers."
"That's just it, though. It's the first one since… well, since I got my name back, shall we say. Don't you think it will be awkward?"
"Yes," Hermione allowed, "but not for long. You two need to learn how to be around each other as friends, just like Ron and I did. And –" she closed Ginny's mouth with a finger under her chin, seeing that she was about to protest, "- I'm not losing either of my friends over a piece of paper and a parasite."
Ginny snorted, glancing down at her son. "Gee, thanks, 'Mione. Way to be supportive."
The older witch tossed her hair and shot a scathing look over her shoulders. "You have been separated for six months. That's six months longer than I kept up sympathy for Lavender after her divorce, and she had two parasites. Two!"
"Three, if you include Zabini." Ron pointed out with a smirk.
"Exactly. Plus, I'm not choosing between you two. Either you both come or no-one does. It will just be me, Ron, Luna and the Housewives."
"I don't think Theo would appreciate you calling him a woman."
"Well then maybe he should get off of his lazy arse and stop whining." Hermione jabbed at Ron's ribs, smiling when he grunted in pain. "Either way, it's your loss. We're in good company with or without you."
"I wasn't aware that your husband counted as good company," Ginny drawled, pulling her pram around as a shield when Hermione gasped in anger. Laughing, the three of them entered the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes to collect Teddy, who would be found twenty minutes later on the top floor, smothered in Ten Second Pimple Vanisher and laughing wildly as he set off their collection of Whiz Poppers.