Summary: It's to be expected in a place as old as Malfoy Manor, that dark things lurk in long-forgotten corners. Astoria, newly betrothed and not entirely happy, takes up exploring her new home. There are secrets to be uncovered, not all of them pleasant, and she might just learn something about Draco along the way. Don't like, don't read. Thanks :)
The Beginning: Dinner Conversations
Malfoy Manor is poised like a monolith under the light of a full moon, the moonbeams being absorbed by the dark stone. Inside, utensils clink, plates clatter, and half-drunk glasses of wine sit on the table before Draco. The house elves have outdone themselves. Roaring fires at both ends of the dining hall work to combat the chilly draft. Wind howls against the windows, peeking through poorly shimmed sills.
His daily routine consisted of waking up, reading the Prophet, and spending time with Astoria. Draco's mother stipulated that the young pair wait a few months to get to know one another before marrying.
His appetite diminishes at the thought of his absent parents. A dark, spiraling mood grips him. "I've finished with dinner." Astoria's voice cuts through, forcing him to meet her eyes. "I'd like to retire for the evening, unless you have something planned?"
Astoria enjoys humoring Draco. Mostly because she's bored. Their marriage contract, forged by his mother, dictates she be locked in this spacious house, an effort to establish some fondness between them. Never in her life has Astoria felt more confined, as if she were a bird trapped in a gilded cage. Her interactions with Draco, his need for routine, grew tedious.
Their table scraps are replaced with plates of his favorite treat: Plum Sticky Toffee Pudding. He sighs. "If you don't want to enjoy this excellent dessert with me, my betrothed, then you may retire. I have some reading I'd like to see to in my study this evening, and I wouldn't want to keep you."
Draco likes how he sounds. He's tried hard to model his interactions with Astoria like he witnessed between his mother and father. A subtle dance of give and take. He knows Astoria finds it dull here. They're both young, so the affectation of a happily married couple remains something beyond his ability to emulate. The both of them would much rather be exploring the world, spending time with their own families; instead they're cooped up in Draco's home, knowing just the basics about one another.
Astoria stands to leave. Draco stands as well and grasps her gently by the arm. His stoic face melts slightly as genuine affection is reflected in his gaze. "Maybe tomorrow we can do something more exciting. There are plenty of rooms left to explore, some even I've forgotten about. Portraits I've not talked to in a long time; and I'd love to introduce you to my family. Does that sound fun?"
It didn't. Astoria makes sure to structure her face correctly, to show the right amount of interest fitting of a dutiful wife. "Of course, Draco, I'd be honored. Now if you'll excuse me—" she plants a chaste kiss on the young man's cheek before walking away, the kiss had been spur of the moment, and not something that she usually did.
As she leaves, Draco's fingers touch the place where her soft lips had caressed moments ago. An after-feeling lingers there. His face warms.
In the distance, a door closes, and she's gone.
Draco smiles, exiting the dining room. A bit of swagger in his steps. Things are going better than expected.
The Middle: Pick your Poison
On the schedule, this evening, between tea and dinner is exploring. Draco had spent most of the previous day, and most of this morning, in his father's study scrutinizing the manor's dusty floor plans. Documents and maps are stacked haphazardly around the room, burying the cherry wood behemoth of a desk and surrounding carpet. Unlike previous evenings, Astoria joins him, shuffling through papers as they plan their night's excursion.
There are rooms depicted on these sheets that Draco has never seen, magic the likely reason he's never encountered them. As a child, he'd made it his mission to explore every room he could find, and he considered himself an authority on the subject. He had always enjoyed speaking with the portraits of long-gone family members, and each new room housed a new face, with stories aplenty for him to listen to.
After he started Hogwarts, Quidditch and homework distracted him from his favorite hobby.
Tabby, Draco's personal elf, stands at the ready near the doorway, awaiting his young master's directions. With Draco exploring unclean rooms, full of dust, Tabby and the rest of the manor elves went before the teenagers, cleaning, starting and stoking fires in cold fireplaces, airing out bad smells, and making sure the pair didn't run into anything dangerous.
"We should go here tonight Draco," says Astoria as she prods at the map. "We've seen everything of interest on the other floors. All that's left is the dungeons, and then the catacombs. I say we explore the dungeons."
Draco feels thrilled. As a child he had only entered those dark, mysterious places with his father present, too scared to venture in alone. But it's different now. Now, he's a man in his own right.
He remembers when he sat at his father's knee as the man detailed the extensive history of the manor to him. At the start of the century his grandfather, Abraxas Malfoy, refurbished the dungeons into living space. They were habitable, but still able to be used for confinement. Abraxas argued he wasn't a barbarian, and guests of his home would benefit from the spoils of his success.
Interred or otherwise.
Lucius always had a look of perverse pleasure on his face when he talked about them. His eyes distant, remembering some instance of torture, Draco assumed.
Astoria clicks her teeth, her impatience at his indecision beginning to show. Not realizing that he had been so lost in thought, Draco finally speaks. "Of course we can, my dear. We need to be cautious though, there's no telling what we may find down there."
"It's not something I'm worried about, Draco. We can defend ourselves from some pesky doxies, or a boggart. We have magic for Merlin's sake."
Astoria's words have an ease to them. She would never have been so confrontational with Draco before, but as they become more familiar, she quickly realized Draco was overly cautious, or as some would even say a scaredy-cat. She wants to believe differently, her intentions are to marry a man, not a boy. More than once on their adventures, Astoria has witnessed Draco jump at his own shadow. She would just have to use this time to shape him into what she believes he could be.
She derives a certain joy from seeing him squirm. She knows that when he draws his breath in deeply and his eyes light up with a grim determination that she has him. Like a string around her finger, when she pulls tighter, he bows to her goading.
'Men…' she thinks, 'too easy.'
Their decision made, Draco casts a quick Geminio on the map that showed clearly all the rooms of the third floor, an exact copy popping out with a bounce. Draco snatches it, years of Quidditch-honed reflexes make it too easy and rushes out the door. Astoria trails slowly behind.
Draco's own thoughts are racing. He couldn't allow himself to be weak in front of Astoria. She would latch onto it like a shark scenting blood in the water.
He would not be made a fool of. Astoria would need to get much better at her manipulations if she thought that she had won anything here. As they neared the stairwell leading to the dungeons, a dark smile ghosts across Draco's face.
'I'll show her.'
The Middle: Things that go Bump in the dark
In the dungeons, thick cobwebs adorn the corners of every room and corridor. Hinges sit, rusty, on the frames of thick wooden doors which have not seen use in a long time, while others open easier, knobs gleaming at them. Some rooms have drawers open, papers scattered, and the sheets over the furniture disturbed. In most, however, the dust is centimeters thick.
What makes this exciting is that as a rule, all the doors were closed at all times. When the Ministry still raided, they couldn't investigate what was not immediately obvious, and scrambling and poor-planning was not the trademark of the Malfoys. Draco agreed with this, nd opted to keep them close while he had run of the house.
Sconces are alight along the corridor, as if heralding their presence. The elves did their jobs well. The dungeons are magic resistant. Conventional means of providing illumination, namely magic, do not work.
Smoke swirled about as air from the upper floors rushed down the steps and out the ventilation shafts embedded in the walls. Draco blinks away the sting in his eyes.
It's moments like this when his mind plays tricks on him. Shadows cast by the light are obscured by the haze, and their combination lent itself to an unnatural movement. Moments like this, Draco no longer felt seventeen. Instead, he's a little boy, his hands on the hem of his father's robes, following along quietly.
Together the couple opt to work their way from the farthest rooms, back to the stairwell entrance. As they move along the corridor, Draco couldn't help but keep looking over his shoulder.
Astoria can't contain her impolite snort at Draco's poor attempt to mask his paranoia. He would turn back, each time, looking everywhere but her, the whites of his eyes clearly visible.
Caught red-handed, he relaxes his face, and he forces himself to look forward. Draco hadn't even realized he'd been doing it.
Tabby appears without a sound next to him. "Tabby would advise the young Master and Mistress not to enter this room. This was Master Abraxas's office. We elves were forbidden entrance here. There is no telling what dirty things exist inside," the elf says, snarling the last sentence. Draco's mother always insisted on a clean home. Tabby took the existence of an unclean room as a personal insult.
Draco turns to Astoria, eyebrow raised. "Well?" he asks, secretly hoping she would choose another room instead. He knows enough about his grandfather to know that he doesn't want to understand he doesn't wish to encounter what the man had in store for unwanted guests.
Astoria bites her lip. While she hasn't been afraid in their adventures before, Tabby's warning sends her mind racing through the creatures they might encounter: Brownies, Pixies, Doxies. Boggarts. They're easy to deal with if one knew their way around a wand. But numbers, or even surprise, could better a wizard.
A doxie had bit her once. The poison the little bastards contain in their bite still make her wince and her skin crawl. One of her legs crosses the other of its own accord, rubbing a patch of skin. For the first time during their entire excursion, she looks to Draco and hopes for an answer. His face was stoic, no sign of his earlier fears. She remembers this entire trip has been at her suggestion, and that Draco would think less of her if she chickens out now.
With a huff, she says, "Well, what are you waiting for?" and steps past Draco, flinging open the door. She isn't going to let him stand her up.
Before walking in, Draco says to Tabby, "Clean the room. I'm ordering you to do so. I don't care that my dead grandfather told you not to enter, he's dead, and I'm alive, and I expect it done."
"As the young master wishes." Tabby's hands wring themselves into the hem of his clothing.
Tabby pops into the room and snaps his fingers. Four other elves appear behind him and then they all snap their fingers together. A fire roars to life in the fireplace, like a giant awakening from its long slumber. The illumination makes visible the dust coating the Bureau Mazarin desk at the center of the room. Astoria moves towards the bookshelves, thumbing through the titles.
The office is a carbon copy of his father's. Malfoy sensibility didn't seem to change from generation to generation.
Small pops signal that Draco and Astoria are now alone.
Candlelight flickers in the candelabras floating above. Astoria attempts to light her wand, only for the light to sputter out, the magic dampening of the dungeons too strong.
Draco doesn't try, unwilling to further embarrass himself. Instead, he pushes the floating candles closer to the edges of the room, shedding more light onto the spines of the books. There are many titles here he can't even read, obscured by a spell, age, or a language he didn't understand.
A wardrobe stands in the corner of the room. The wood is dull, a contrast to the other wooden objects in the room that shine, there's age to it, simple carvings and molding adorn its surface. Not something that fits the current era or style. Its ancient. As Draco goes to pull a nameless book off the shelf, the wardrobe rocks, one of its doors creaks open ever so slightly.
His arm freezes mid-air. Astoria whips around looking in the direction of where the noise comes from, wand pointed, and whispers, "What was that? That wasn't you was it Draco?"
Draco snorts. "Obviously not, Astoria, I'm standing over here and the wardrobe is over there. It's probably just the wood settling or something." He shrugs and reaches again for the book on the shelf.
Astoria resumes her browsing as well when as if in slow motion, a giant hand reaches itself out of the wardrobe door and grabs Draco by the back of his clothes. His scream is the only thing Astoria has time to register before Draco is jerked into the cabinet, the door slamming shut behind him.
Before she knows what she's doing, Astoria is struggling to pull it open. The doors refuse to budge. She steps back and tries a blasting hex, hoping to break the doors in. Draco's screams turn from panic to pained, and the sounds of struggle ramp back up. Not a second later, the doors burst open and Draco comes flying out, landing on the hand scraped oak floors floor with a groan.
His shoulder is bloodied, and his shirt torn. Bites and scratch marks mar the side of his body. Draco struggles to his feet, but ends up falling back to the floor.
The sound of fingers snapping ring about the room. The candles extinguish, and the study door slams shut behind them. Astoria tries to help him to his feet. For such a thin man, he's hard to pull into line, his body laying against her leg as limp as a sandbag.
With the dimming of the lights, he perks up a bit, gaining a foothold amidst his disorientation.
Footsteps echo in the room around them. Draco tries to speak, but Astoria's hand smacks against his mouth. Her other hand tightens against his undamaged shoulder.
A chair screeches back; the footsteps stumble. There's then a great smashing sound that sounds through the room. Astoria whimpers. Her regret for choosing this office is physical, it lays heavily on her.
"L-lumos!" she shouts, her desperation and her extreme desire for light bringing an intense, blinding light into existence. They both blink to clear their eyes, the intensity searing white spots into their retinas.
The room appears clear, but everything seems off. The thick, undisturbed layer of dust blanketing everything remains. Thick cobwebs connect the flameless candles floating through the room. Yet they see nothing else.
In the corner of the room the wardrobe doors stand wide open, the blackness of interior drawing the wand light into it and not letting it escape.
"Tabby!" calls Draco, the elf's name coming in a bursting gasp for breath. His exhalation fogs up around him. The temperature in the room has dropped well below comfortable.
Draco hears the elves appear outside the office door. Astoria's wandlight jumps a little bit. He casts his own lumos, his adrenaline high helping produce a light. He can hear muffled sounds coming from behind the door, but he can't quite make out what's being said. Three more pops occur and the banging on the door grows louder.
Finally, the door burst inwards, and there stands Tabby and the rest of the Manor elves, each breathing heavily. Their large eyes glimmer in the wand light. Tabby disappears and then reappears beside Draco. The elf waves his hand wiggling his fingers. Draco sighs as the pain in his shoulder begins to feel distant and disconnected. His head feels like it's been stuffed into a wool sock.
"Now, now," soothes Tabby. "Master has hurt himself, please let Tabby take care of him." He snaps his fingers and a floating stretcher appears. Tabby helps Draco onto the stretcher easing the teenager into a prone position, before turning to Astoria.
"If mistress will follow us, this evening's adventures can be postponed." The rest of the elves flank Draco's floating bed as the teenager laying on it drifts in and out of consciousness. Foggy blue eyes make contact with Astoria's green eyes and he smiles.
"Well, it could be worse," he says before going limp against the stretcher.
Astoria feels dread ooze its way deep into her bones. Of course that oaf would say something like that. He should know better than to challenge Fate in such a manner. It had weird ways of getting even. The elves pass the threshold and Astoria is right behind them. She looks behind her, eyes fearful. She doesn't see the rug on the floor, nor the end that's thrown up. She trips, and her lit wand sputters out, and clatters to the ground. The elves keep walking.
"Oh no," she exclaims. Falling to her knees, reaching blindly for where she heard her wand hit the ground. He hands ghost over many things that leave her feeling dirty. Her panic grows. "Tabby?" she calls, not daring to speak louder than a whisper. They hadn't seen her fall behind.
Her hands ghost over something cool and slender to the touch. Astoria feels the rough grain of her wand, and the intricate carving on the handle of her wand. She sighs in relief. She curls her fingers around the wand, but can't get them underneath. Something has her wand pinned to the floor.
She ghosts her hands forward further, trying to prise her wand loose. She feels something furry. Its clearly defined, and there are six of them. This isn't the twists on the end of a rug. Astoria breaks into a cold sweat, whimpering low in her throat. She slowly lifts her head, making eye contact. Hoping that it's just her mind playing tricks.
Gleaming eyes narrow and snarling teeth shine in the low light coming from the corridor. Astoria opens her mouth to scream when a large hand closes over her face and stifles her scream.
The elves had almost made it to the top of the stairs when they hear the slamming of a door. Looking behind them, they realize the young masters' mistress is no longer with them. Draco ushers them urgently back to the room. He's trying to pull himself up from the stretcher. The elves attempt to soothe him.
"Astoria," he calls out, "Light your wand, I can't see a bloody thing." A muffled thumping sound has the elves repositioning Draco so that Tabby can enter the room.
Tabby opts to poke his head inside, instead of stepping fully into the room. "Mistress?" he calls in a low voice into the dark room. There's a scraping sound like wood on stone as something is picked up. A feminine voice calls out the spell for light.
"Lumos." Their intonation is clear. Wandlight bursts into life. And there stands Astoria. "Sorry guys," she smiles, but it doesn't quite reach her eyes "- dropped my wand and got scared, I banged into everything. Found it now though, so let's go."
Tabby and his group don't need to be told again, hustling back to the entrance of the dungeons. Tabby looks back at the end of the corridor. The office door is still open. He snaps his fingers, and the door shuts, the sound of a latch being engaged lets those listening know the door is locked. He wouldn't allow them back in if he could help it.
Astoria walks beside Draco as they go up the stairs. She threads her fingers into his hand, holding it tightly. Draco notices that her hands are conspicuously bare. "Where is your engagement ring, Astoria?" he says as he grasps her hand.
She had been rubbing her thumb gently over Draco's hand, but Draco's grip stops her. "Oh! I took it off before we started poking around this evening. I didn't want to lose it. I'm sorry Draco." She sounds ashamed, which soothes Draco, he relaxes the hold on her hand and she resumes rubbing his hand. This time when Draco falls back, it's into unconsciousness.
Later that evening finds Draco and Astoria together. Draco is prone in his bed, a pillow stuffed behind his head, with a damp cloth over his eyes. Astoria runs her fingers through his hair, and he moans, butting his head into her fingers, urging her to continue her ministrations.
Draco could get used to being hurt like this if it meant that he got a massage each time. The elves had dosed him with several potions for healing and blood restoring. His words were feverish and spoken to no one. "There's nothing there… There's nothing there…" he mutters. That's been his mantra since he regained consciousness
The light flickers, and in the darkness he falls into a troubled sleep.
Sissy has been Astoria's personal elf since she arrived at Malfoy Manor. Astoria's gaze is distant and blank. She says, "You there, elf. I require food. I want a steak. And I want it bloody. Bring it to my room when it's ready."
Astoria leaves, missing Sissy's eyes narrowing.
After he's healed and feeling a bit more like himself, Draco orders Tabby to continue clearing the dungeons of anything dangerous and to bring him his grandfather's journals.
Sitting in his father's office, sipping on diluted firewhiskey, Draco feverishly combs through the books looking for any mention of the accursed wardrobe that had almost killed him. That thing it holds is no Boggart. He'd have to go back and exterminate the creature one day, it wouldn't do to have his future children run into it while playing.
His grandfather wrote in a neat hand. The journals are thick; Abraxas Malfoy never missed recounting a single day in excruciating detail, relinquishing his winding thoughts across pages and pages. Hours later, Draco comes across a section he finally believes is relevant.
I find myself wary of the present I've received. A friend from my schooldays, I had long considered moved on, has contacted me once again. A young upstart named Tom Riddle. He said that he would be coming back to Britain soon, and would like to meet me. He's also sent me a shrunken wardrobe. "Something befitting a pureblood scion like yourself," he says. Further, he urges me not to open it unless he tells me to as there are some enchantments on it. "A long forgotten antique gathering dust in an Egyptian Bazaar."
I've heard rumors that Borgin of Borgin and Burkes has taken on a new hand, I wonder if this wardrobe is young Tom's most recent acquisition for the man.
I think I'll have it placed in my office for now. There is something alluring about it. I find it hard to keep it from my sight for long.
The entries afterwards detail a meeting with Tom Riddle, and that "Things had gone well. There was great change coming to Britain." There's no further mention of the wardrobe. Draco finds himself frustrated. Astoria's seems much more withdrawn since that evening. His shoulder twinges as the ghost of the pain he suffered from whatever had taken home in his grandfather's study.
He rolls his neck, trying to make it go away.
The fire crackles merrily as he continues to sip his watered down whiskey late into the evening.
The Middle: Things that go bump, Pt 2: Morning
Covered in sweat Draco lurches awake, a scream in his throat. His hand instinctively goes to his cheek and he feels slime. He hasn't been crying, he doesn't think. His eyes search the room frantically. He's being watched. He feels it. He has ever since that night in his grandfather's office. The house elves must have done something while he was sleeping - must've been some cleaning potion, has to be. But even with that rational explanation, his body feels like it wants to jump out his skin. Draco runs his hands through his hair. It slicks back easily with all the sweat. He forgets he has the slime on his hand still and shudders. A shower is in order.
Draco scrapes himself out of bed and heads for the showers. Hopefully the hot water and steam would serve to revive him. Inside the bathroom he taps his wand on the shower wall, and hot water sprays from the spigot immediately.
He does indeed feel refreshed. When he steps out, there's a little jaunt in his step as he gets the rest of his morning ablutions finished. Brushing his teeth, he cranes his neck to spit.
Behind him, Astoria enters the room, watching, there's hunger in her eyes. As Draco looks up, she shifts to lean against the door jam. Draco lets out a startled yell when he sees her.
He hadn't sensed her entering. Ever since their last trip, he'd placed proximity charms on his bed chamber, his paranoia allowing no less. They apparently weren't working. His towel drops from around his waist as he scrambles for his wand.
Astoria smirks as she eyes him up and down.
"Astoria, what in the bloody fuck are you doing in my bathroom." He reaches down picking his dropped towel and uses it bunched up to cover his modesty.
There's a playful lilt in Astoria's voice as she speaks. "I just wanted to let you know that breakfast is ready. We're going to eat in the kitchens, Tabby would like to discuss something with us. I'm sorry I caught you unawares Dra-co." She rolls his name off her tongue, both syllables clearly pronounced. She doesn't sound sorry.
Draco considers the situation before him. This is something new. Astoria has spent every night this week in her rooms, only coming down for dinner. He assumed she'd been a lot more scared than he. He let her be, knowing she'd recover quickly.
But this? Draco can't help but feel excited. She's never shown interest in him sexually before. Their contract says nothing about them not being with each other before the wedding day, and for that he's supremely grateful.
He's been shuffling across the room, trying to keep his front covered from Astoria's gaze. He snags the bathrobe hanging beside the shower, before a thought strikes him, and he smiles. 'How about a bit of fun. She's already had a peek, lets see how far we can take it.'
With a confidence he didn't know he had, Draco turns around and drops his towel. As he's turning, he says, "How about we be late then, the elves and…" he stops. Astoria is no longer there.
He frowns momentarily. His disappointment is unexpected. His actions had only been on a lark after all.
Breakfast is subdued. Draco expected a continuation of their morning activities. He had prepared himself for verbal banter, working his lines over in his head. He is disappointed when all Astoria does is pick at her food quietly. Draco tries and fails repeatedly to make eye contact; she refuses any attempts he makes. At the end of the meal, he has some success, he smiled when their eyes meet, she returns it, but nothing else happens.
Draco shrugs mentally. Maybe Astoria's more embarrassed than she let on. She had pretty much seen everything he had to show. He feels his face warm.
While he consumes everything the elves put before him, his betrothed is not so enthused. He remarks on her pickiness, "Is the meal not to your liking? I can have the elves prepare you something that you would like."
"No, this is fine. I think I just prefer my bacon to be a little less done." Her bacon lays scattered on her plate, the crispy bits broken from where she's been prodding it with her fork. She scoops up a fork full of eggs and jams them into her mouth. Her sounds of enjoyment are clearly faked. The rest of the meal continues in silence.
When the last bite is gone, the elves stop what they're doing in the kitchens. They've been a constant source of activity in the background while Astoria and Draco sit around the center island.
Their tiny feet step delicately between glasses and silverware as they tidy up around the two teenagers. When the dishes were either washing themselves in the sink or being put to rest in their proper location, the elves stand before the teenagers.
Tabby takes the floor as spokesperson for the rest of them. "Young Master, I just wanted to inform you and the Mistress that the rest of the dungeons have been cleared, and a cursory search of the catacombs has been performed. We've placed all items that we think may bring harm to you in the extra study on the third floor. So please, consider yourselves safe."
He bows and steps away. There's no need for his master to acknowledge his or the other elves efforts. It has been a privilege to service them. Tabby has found pleasure in eradicating the dust and dirt, airing out rooms, and removing threats. The other elves consider him a bit vicious, but no elf should have to deal with their master being wounded.
Astoria sparks up a conversation behind Tabby's turned back as the other elves follow behind them. They have daily chores to complete and then a large luncheon to prepare. Draco discretely asked Tabby this morning to prepare a more intimate meal and to place it in one of the cleaned out rooms in the dungeon as a surprise.
Tabby is happy to oblige. Before the elves are completely out of sight of the children, Sissy pulls on the cuff of Tabby's tunic, drawing her attention. "Yes, Sissy?" asks Tabby. The rest of the elves circle around them, obscuring the talking elf from view.
She gestures with her mouth because pointing is rude and she doesn't want to call anymore attention. "Sissy thinks that there is something wrong with Mistress. She doesn't seem like herself, and she's refused to let me in her rooms any longer. Sissy doesn't know what to do."
The little elf can barely keep the distraught whine from her voice. She wrings her hands from her clothes to stop herself from losing all control. Tabby consoles the elf, and draws her close, "It's no worries Sissy, Mistress Astoria is just getting used to some things. It's not uncommon for young witches and wizards to want to express themselves with a bit of independence. Tabby assumes this is the case."
Sissy throws her arms around Tabby's shoulders and lets out a quiet sob. Her relief is fleeting however, because at that moment the teenagers across the room stop their conversation, and are preparing to leave the kitchens. Astoria makes eye contact with Sissy, and the elf's hysterics stop, the look in Astoria's causing her to freeze.
Astoria makes a shushing gesture with her finger, and then smiles.
Dinner that evening would be a quiet affair. In order to foster a more intimate atmosphere, Draco asked for the meal to be taken in a smaller dining room meant for the family. It's just off the kitchens, and rarely used.
He goes down personally to walk Astoria down to the dining hall, but when he knocks on her bedroom door, she doesn't respond. He tries the handle, only for it not to move, the door is locked solid. He waits a few minutes, thinking maybe she's taking a nap. He tries knocking again, this time calling loudly through the door, "Astoria! I'm here to take you to dinner."
A loud thump sounds inside the room, causing Draco to smile. She had been asleep. He feels a moment of worry, he hadn't wanted to disturb her, but like him, it was obvious she was not sleeping well. Whether she thinks he notices or not, he sees how little she is eating at meal times. Obviously something is bothering her. He hopes she doesn't suffer the nightmares as well.
With their encounter this morning, he knows things are improving on her side. His heart beats a little faster at the memory. That few minutes had excited him more than he ever would have thought. The day-to-day drudgery of being locked in, having no outside interactions other than with Astoria, finally broken.
A little excitement would be good for the both of them, and it beat exploring dusty old rooms. The sounds of movement in the room continued, and he starts to call out again, "Astor-" before the door is jerked open.
Barely a sliver of her face shows. "I'll be down shortly Draco, I just need to put my face on." The room is completely dark, the windows having been blacked out, the dim light from the hallway doing little to bring her face into focus. Draco leans forward to push the door open a bit, to get a better look at her, but it held firm. His shoulder crashing into it.
Slightly embarrassed he decides to leave it be. "That's fine, I just wanted to walk you down. We're eating in the dining room off the kitchens. I'll leave you to your task, call for Sissy if you need help finding it."
Before he's even finished speaking, the door has been shut in his face. The sound of locks engaging on the other side. If Draco paid more attention, he would have noticed Astoria's bloodshot eyes wrapped in a face that didn't look quite like remembered, if he had been less embarrassed he would have noticed the how it sounded when Astoria moves through the room, like old leather dragging across a solid surface. That the thump from earlier is a bit louder than girl of eight stone.
But, Draco notices none of this, too wrapped in his own thoughts and his plans for the evening.
Candlelight flickers in the mirror as the face looking back make a crude mockery of a smile. There are many things that the succubus can imitate, but humanity is a hard one. Her features shift from the smoothed rounded edges of young Astoria to the sharp, angular features of a master predator.
She has a task to finish. While not the one she had been originally given, the younger Malfoy would do to satisfy her debt to the wizard known as Tom Riddle. The man found her at a time of weakness and despair and nursed her back to full health. Their bargain was simple. He would put her in the wardrobe, with enchantments to keep her comfortable, and when she entered the wards of Malfoy Manor, she was to silently take out the mistress of the household and assume her position, ultimately killing the then senior Malfoy.
Obviously, that plan had not come to fruition. She had wasted away in that blasted wooden tomb for nearly a century. Abraxas Malfoy never activated the enchantment that would allow her to escape unnoticed into the house. The man was a collector, and Tom had underestimated the gift given to him.
Abraxas treated it like a showpiece. But he had never actually touched it. Near his death, he had ordered his office and quarters left untouched by anyone but himself.
So she had sat, waiting.
Even weakened, killing the young female had been easy. Snapped her neck before she could make any sound, taking her face. With it, she would have the Malfoy heir. She only despairs that the boy has to be willing for her to have him. Earlier, when he exposed himself, she'd nearly consumed him then. But flesh would sate her no longer. No, she needed more.
Her face stops shifting and returns to the smooth features of Astoria.
Hunger yawns within her, stomach growling. More. Soon.
She would be free of this debt. She would be satisfied.
Draco makes an attempt to keep conversation rolling all throughout dinner. His ultimate goal is to keep Astoria engaged, refusing to allow her to withdraw into herself. He eyes her meal in front of her, a cut of beef barely warmed and blue. He shudders. Meat that rare is not to his taste, preferring something more well done. Draco shrugs his shoulders and soldiers on, making small cuts and taking delicate bites of his own meal.
He eats slow. He wants to give Tabby time to get the room set up since he plans to invite Astoria back to his chambers for a nightcap before turning in for the evening. Draco had ordered Tabby to remove all evidence of his childhood. He wants his room to reflect that of a seasoned adult.
Forks clatter and scrap on plates and knives make their cuts. The meal works its way to an end. While she has been more engaged in conversation, she hasn't really contributed much, allowing Draco to lead.
"So I thought it would be nice if we retired to my chambers, I'm loathe to give up your company. I'm enjoying the closeness and the heat of your presence." Draco tries not to stutter on his words. In his head, things sound much smoother.
Astoria's eyes light up at his comment, her attention suddenly, fully on what Draco is saying. "That would be nice, I find myself enjoying your company as well. I'd like to explore further what we talked about this morning. I felt like you had more you wanted to say. I'm sorry for leaving."
"We..." Draco pauses, trying to think about what they had talked about this morning. Then it occurs to him what she could possibly be referring to. "Yes, that would be nice. I'm definitely interested in resuming our conversation."
Draco's proud of himself. He doesn't feel his face flush even once while saying that. He has hope.
Standing up from his finished meal, he walks to Astoria, helping her from her chair. His hand takes hers, and holding it firmly. Astoria's proximity to him makes his stomach do flips. Astoria's own fingers ghost across his chest, her eyes penetrating his own.
"Tabby," Draco calls. The small elf cracks into the room. "Yes, Master Draco?"
"Is everything ready? I think we're going to retire now."
"Yes, Young Master, everything is as you requested."
"Good," says Draco, "then we're going to my chambers, please don't disturb us any further this evening, unless I call you."
"As you wish," Tabby finishes before popping away. He has other things on his own mind; Sissy has gone missing, he's not been able to find her since this morning. He imagines she is just holed up somewhere. The silly thing has scared herself senseless, and hasn't been handling things well since the other evening. He hoped his master doesn't notice her absence. It isn't proper for a house elf to lose control like that.
Warm butterbeer and a roaring fire settle around Draco and Astoria like a warm blanket. They sit close to one another, enjoying each others company. They are silent and have been so for nearly twenty minutes. Astoria finally offers an in for Draco. "Let's play a game Draco, I'm not tired in the least."
"What would you like to play?"
She hums in thought for a moment. "How about Truth or Dare. It's this game that Tracy and her friends like to play sometimes. I bet it can be great fun."
Draco has never heard of such a game. It sounds awfully muggle. But, if that's what Astoria wants to play, then he would humor her. "That sounds interesting, I think I understand the Truth part, but the Dare, what exactly does that entail?"
"Its simple Draco.. A dare, is I challenge you to do something that you wouldn't normally do. Lets not waste time, I'll start. Truth or Dare?"
Draco contemplates the lesser of two evils. A dare sounds like something a Gryffindor would agree to, but truth is something a Slytherin keeps close to themselves. Either way, it would be uncomfortable.
With a bit more deliberation, Draco says, "Truth." Astoria shifts on the sète to face him. To Draco it appears she is putting a lot of thought into her question.
"What do you find most attractive about me?"
Draco balks. He doesn't expect such a pointed and loaded question. If he doesn't answer this carefully, then he would ruin the whole evening. Draco decides to be honest. He doesn't know how to answer this honestly, because out of all the classes and training his father fostered for him, he never once went through something that detailed social interaction. Especially interaction with a female.
"I'm attracted to…" Draco fumbles for the words. Hundreds of compliments come to him, but none of them feel like they suit the mood. Across from him, Astoria raises a delicate eyebrow, biting her lip slightly. That she's expectant, that she's waiting for him to grace her with a compliment, bolsters his courage. "Your laugh. Your smile. The way you're biting your lip right now. The way the firelight illuminates your skin. You're glowing. You're desirable."
From his mouth, a deluge of everything he had thought about for a while comes out in a rush. He eventually stops, just sitting in dead silences. The fire crackles in the background, and the sound intensifies as the moment goes longer. His face begins to flush with shame, embarrassment, fear all try to express themselves simultaneously across his face. He opens his mouth to start speaking again, anything to end the silence when finally Astoria says something.
"I'm sorry for my pause Draco." She looks like she's weighing her words carefully. Deliberate in her expression. "I'm flattered you feel that way about me. I'm sorry to put you on the spot, I don't think I could ever give such a straightforward answer. I appreciate your honesty."
A breath he didn't know he was holding seeps from his body as his shoulders relax. He smiles, "You're deserving of much more. My schoolboy compliments barely do your beauty justice. So, my turn?" He doesn't want to linger longer on what he just said, put some distance between him and his bout of awkwardness.
"Truth or Dare?" He tries to deepen his voice a bit, to carry the moment further. But his voice cracks as his nervousness peaks through. Astoria looks like she's been planning this all along. This entire evening manufactured for her amusement. Her smile is like the cat that just caught the canary. Pointed teeth and satisfaction.
Draco thinks carefully. He now understands her earlier direction. She wants him to challenge her to do something she wouldn't normally do. "Come closer," he says and Astoria shuffles closer to him. Their knees touching one another. He's able to observe her much more clearly. The slight wrinkling around the corner of her eyes, showing her mirth. The curvature of her neck, the pale skin of her shoulders. "Now kiss me."
Without hesitation, Astoria leans forward, and he meets her halfway. While not the first time Draco has necked with someone, this kiss is electrifying. There's something there he's never experienced before. They gnash teeth as each tries to forcefully insert their tongues into one anothers' mouth.
And as quickly as it started, Astoria pulls away.
Draco's left miming the air. His bottom lip feels swollen from where at the end Astoria latched onto it with her teeth. His hands are slightly raised, his intentions for them no longer certain. Draco hadn't wanted it to stop.
Astoria licks her lips, a hunger in her eyes not there before. Before, she was glowing, but now she's as radiant as the afternoon sun. She snickers. "About time, Draco. I thought we were going to have to go another month before you decided to make a move on me."
Draco doesn't have a response for her, and instead, he ushers her with his hands. His composure now fully under control. "Your turn," Astoria smirks a little, before asking same as before. "Truth or Dare?"
Draco, hoping for a repeat, barely considers his next words before speaking, "Dare."
Finally, Astoria has him where she wants him. "Lay back." Her voice is almost a purr. Draco does as he's told. He's excited and it's showing on more than just his face. He's staring at the ceiling from his reclined position, wondering what she has planned.
The sound of fabric hitting the floor alerts him to something happening that he needs to be paying attention to. He goes to look, but Astoria's voice stops him. "Don't."
Draco feels as she gets back on the sète, straddling his legs. In a practiced motion, her hands are around the buckle of his pants, and they're unfastened. She pats him on the hip, indicating he should raise up, he does, and in one fluid motion, his pants are around his ankles. Finally, he gets his first good look at her, and she's nude.
The firelight shines off her creamy skin. His eyes devour her. Her nipples are firm, the dark skin of her areola puckered and needing attention. She climbs further up over him, poising herself over his erect dick.
She smiles. "Now, for your dare. Fuck me." As she says this, she settles onto him, penetrating deeply. Not being given much choice in the situation, Draco sucks in a deep breath as already he feels himself nearing his limit. She shifts, causing a whole new bundle of sensation to course through his body.
His face is numb. Astoria starts to rock her hips, the tension of the moment leaving Draco's body as he settles in. Astoria's head is thrown back in enjoyment. He doesn't see that her eyes are wide, her pupils pinpricks in the darkened room.
Draco runs his hands over her body, up the smooth skin of her sides, cupping her breast. He runs his hands further up, to her shoulders, and pulls her down tightly against himself, trying to take some control of the situation. This is his dare after all.
Astoria shudders, and he feels himself losing control again. He growls lightly into her neck before biting gently. Astoria moans. Draco's found his rhythm.
He feels good, he's performing better than he expected. Their bodies move in practiced ease, his body and his actions ever so slightly directed by Astoria. She knows what she wants, and he's aiming to give it to her. In a maneuver that he didn't know he could execute, Draco is now on top, and he's thrusting as quickly as his body will allow.
Astoria is vocal in her pleasure, urging him to go harder, deeper, faster. He obliges. As he nears his limit again, Astoria puts a hand on his chest, and pushes him back ever so slightly. "Ah, ah, ah." she sing-songs, before showing a strength Draco didn't know she had by rolling them onto the plush rug of the floor.
She's back on top, her rocking motions intensify until she's outright riding him. The sound of skin slapping skin fills the room along with a low, long moan coming from the back of Astoria's throat as she loses herself more and more.
Draco can't take it anymore, he tries to push her off of him because he's about to make a mess on the both of them. They've not used any contraception spells, Astoria's taken no potions that he's aware of.
Its funny that in this moment, all he can think about is his mother's disappointment, but he'd be damned for not caring. He stops fighting, and meets Astoria thrust for thrust. A growl in the back of his own throat as he nears his finish.
He climaxes. And in that moment, a bright explosion of light goes off behind his closed eyes. The fire in the room has risen to a roar. There's something in the air, and it's not sex.
Draco's body feels weak, he's spent. But there's something more. In that moment Astoria looks down on him, all gleaming teeth. Her eyes are cruel as she continues to ride his softening dick.
"Astoria stop," he gasps weakly, but she won't be swayed. She can barely hear him through the dull roar of endorphins and satisfaction coursing through her veins. Her magic's free now, and it blankets the room. Draco's flailing is subdued again.
"I've waited so long for this Draco. You are not who I was set to find, but you will do."
Confusion wars heavily in Draco's mind as his world grows dim. "Wha- what are you talking about." Draco's breathing is laboured. Astoria's still riding him, like magic, he's rock hard again, as she continues her ministrations. He wants it to stop, but she just won't.
He's nearing climax again, but the excitement and joy he felt before are long gone. He's terrified. "That's it Draco, give me all of it. I need it. Fill me up," she whispers into his neck, having fallen across him, hips still bucking.
Draco climaxes again, screaming in agony.
Astoria's latches onto his neck, sharp teeth sinking into the tender muscles. She eagerly sucks at his blood. There's a discordant undertone in her pleasure-filled moans and it vibrates chips of mortar from the stone wall.
Draco jerks against her bodily, finding strength to force her off of him. His hands press hard against his throat to stymie the flow but it's not enough. Pin-drop fear, like he's waded into waters he can't swim back from, strangles him. "W-What in the bloody-fucking-hell are you doing woman!" His words are but a rasp, nearly silent at the last syllables. Blackness creeps around the edges of his vision. Trembling hands shake harder.
Astoria picks herself up from where she's fallen. Firelight gleams off the ivory knives sticking out of her gums. "Finishing this." Her voice is glottal and rough. Lips split apart at the seams, pink flesh peeling back like a blossoming flower to reveal a gaping wet hole. Glistening feelers shoot forward and attach to his face. Thorns puncture his skin. One pierces through his cheek and into his tongue.
Wet sounds of blood, a fearful whimper turned gurgle, and the room falls silent.
She sighs. Her skin bubbles like a swarm of ants in a pile of leaves. The snapping of bones and the sound of wet paper being torn fill the room.
"Better," she says, no longer constricted to the human meatsuit. She gazes at her victim below, head lolling on her long neck as she does. Blood mats his pale hair, eyes frozen in wide fear. "See, this is the sort of dessert I like, Dra-co." Her claws hook into his arms and she begins to tear into the young body like a tiger returning to its kill on the Serengeti.
Dust was in the air as the team of Aurors that were set to breach Malfoy manor stepped foot into the foyer. The wards had taken many of the Ministry's best wardbreakers, and then some to gain any ground. The Senior Malfoy, Lucius received the kiss the previous evening, his expired body had barely cooled before the Aurors had initiated their raid. The new Minister, Kingsley Shacklebolt, was not as forgiving as Fudge had been.
Rumor of the Malfoy heir's internment inside the manor had spread at the end, as more and more information had come forward. With Severus Snape dead, the other person involved in Dumbledore's murder was number one on the to-do list. They wanted this young man secured in a nice cozy cell in Azkaban.
But not before using him to get all the information they could about his father's dealings. There were still attacks by renegade groups, and they suspected funding and motivation from some new prevailing force.
Each floor was cleared, and the scene before the aurors was gruesome.
In the kitchens, the family elves were all hanging from a beam across the ceiling. A bloody "I'm Sorry" had been etched onto the wall. One elf is missing, Sissy, but they find her later. A crumpled pile on the floor of Astoria's bedroom. Nothing but moth eaten clothing and emaciated skin, like the very life had been sucked from her.
In Draco's room, they found his desiccated corpse, or what little was left of it. Having to rely on spells and other methods for identification.
Astoria's body was found, face missing and skull empty in the wardrobe on the third floor.
As the Aurors searched the rest of the house, they miss another Astoria escaping from the front of the house, as the imposter clears the front gate, her lips turn up into a sinister smile.
She is free.