A/N – Hello everybody, here I am with another D/G, and lots of free time to write. I've finished all my exams, finished HP 5, and I've got inspiration – what more could I want?
Seriously, this takes place in Draco's sixth year. And this is important – THIS DOES NOT FOLLOW MY OTHER FICS. Lucius is still alive. Disregard anything that happened in the Greater Good/Lesser Evil, and obviously, Unforgiven. I'm keeping the idea of the High Clan, and why Lucius and Snape joined the Death Eaters. But I'm trying to keep Luc out of this, because he tends to take over. Apart from that, I should put everything you need to know into the story, which is the best place for it.
Disclaimer – I don't own Harry Potter, it all belongs to J K Rowling, who is a goddess, especially after reading book five, which had everything I was looking for, (except signs of nonD/E!Draco, but I still have faith). Don't sue me.
Walking swiftly out of the Leaving Feast, where for once in his life it wasn't important which House had won the House and the Quidditch Cup, Draco went in search of air, of peace, and of a place where there was no intrigue, no speculative glances, no whispering behind his back, and, just for a change, no Slytherin politics.
He'd had his fill of it – and that was a thing he'd never thought to say. But this last year had simply been too much…especially the events towards the end of the OWLs, after Harry Potter had, once and for all, alerted the world to the indisputable truth that the Dark Lord was indeed back.
He stood there, alone on the Quidditch Pitch, hands shoved in pockets more to ward off the cold than for any sense of nonchalance or deliberate unconcern. For once in this strange half-life he was leading, he wasn't worried about what others would see when they looked at him.
Quite frankly, he wasn't sure that he cared anymore…
His father – his supremely confident, seemingly invulnerable father – had been caught red handed, participating in an attack against the Ministry building. And while he may have been able to escape conviction fifteen years ago, Draco didn't think that he would get away with it now.
Not now, after Fudge had turned on them to save his own skin and position, executing a political about-face now that he could no longer deny the blindingly obvious truth, now that his long denial had left him on very thin ice.
Fudge had been deliberately created as the perfect puppet Minister – his intractable insistence that Voldemort couldn't be back, (all the more genuine for its utter sincerity), and his blind refusal to see any evidence to the contrary, even to the point of discrediting and ostracising any who tried to speak the truth, had created the perfect political climate for the Dark Lord's return.
Perfect indeed, had that been the primary goal of those who had brought Fudge into power. In fact, when Fudge had been elected, shortly after 1981, Lucius and the others who had been behind his election had actually seen him as the man who would stand by and allow the High Clan to slowly and quietly regain everything they had lost in the Dark Times, everything they had lost in the trials where so many had been condemned.
Unfortunately, it seemed that his very blindness had also worked to Voldemort's advantage. And while Lucius, had he been given a choice, would have opposed bringing the grim spectre of his past and everything he had done and had been forced to do in the name of survival and power back to life, the final resurrection had occurred while he had only held vague forebodings of what was happening.
And once the Dark Lord had finally been fully brought back to life, there had no longer been any chance of backing out, of reconsidering and quickly changing allegiances. He'd been plunged in at the deep end, with no warning and very little hope of ever fighting his way out again.
And, incapable of fighting against the tide, Lucius had decided his best chance lay with cooperation – for now – and with working from within to turn circumstance to his advantage. Unfortunately, cooperation and working from within had led to a disastrous defeat at the Ministry building, and arrest in circumstances where it was impossible to deny any involvement with the Death Eaters and the Dark Lord, where Lucius himself had been the leader of the attack…
And that, of course, meant Azkaban – fortunately without the Dementors, which was the only good thing about this – and Ministry harassment, as they poked their sanctimonious and newly zealous noses into Malfoy business, Malfoy affairs, and Malfoy property, even to the point of searching the Manor itself, once they found someone who would let them through the Veil.
And there was always someone willing to cause trouble for the Malfoy.
All this, of course, would lead to a massive public loss of face – their influence would diminish, and challenges to their position in the High Clan and social hierarchy would come from ambitious newcomers and ancient enemies. And Draco would face hell from his peers, now that his father could no longer back up his threats…
For the last four years, he had played the bully and the brat, running contrary to every precept of correct High Clan behaviour his father had drummed into him since childhood. And he'd hated it, although he'd recognised the necessity of pretending for any spies who might be evaluating his actions – he'd only agreed to it because he knew that his father was there to support him.
And now? Had things gone their normal way, he would have established his place among his peers years ago by his own merit, by his own strength of will and determination – now he didn't his father fall back on, when the challenges came (and yes, they would come) and he would have to re-establish himself as the ruler of Slytherin alone, and preferably within a very short time.
Because soon, the Dark Lord would approach him.
And then, the true Games would begin…
Severus Snape looked over at the slight figure on the Quidditch Pitch, unguarded for once, unaware of any eyes and onlookers evaluating his performance and his loyalty. Draco Malfoy, for once in his career at Hogwarts, was completely stripped of any defences, masks or affectations, and he looked…well, quite frankly he looked a little vulnerable there, alone under the stars, without his father or his two sidekicks to back him up.
He wondered if he'd ever seen Draco Malfoy on his own, without anyone standing behind and beside him.
Because Slytherin was an odd, paradoxical House; in the deep, dark undercurrents of Slytherin politics, it was political and social suicide to stand alone, and yet anyone who relied too obviously on others gained no respect and no face – to gain any real power in the House, of the kind the Malfoy had wielded since the Founding, you had to show that you can stand alone, that you were strong enough to take on the rest of Slytherin and come out unscathed…
And even so, you had enough allies to make standing alone unnecessary.
It was all about bluff, about show and intimidation and deception – but occasionally, only occasionally, someone was brave or insolent enough to call that bluff…and that was when the truth of your façade, of your bluff was revealed.
With his father's arrest, all of Draco's façade had been stripped away, and all that he had left was himself.
Snape wondered if it was enough, whether he had the kind of strength that would allow him to take on the whole world. Because in the times to come, when his enemies came against him – and they would, no matter which side he chose in this war – he would need it. And no one would be there to back him up.
From the corner of her eye, she saw him leave the Feast. But then, she and the rest of the school were used to seeing Draco Malfoy storm off in anger, in furious chagrin. The only thing that had caught her attention now was that he was alone – no mountainous goons following behind him, willing to carry out his slightest whim, no adoring fan club to laugh at his every utterance, no matter how banal or trite.
In fact, she didn't think she'd seen the adoring fan club around since…well, since the news came that Lucius Malfoy had been arrested. Perhaps the rats were deserting the sinking ship?
Well, it was about time that Malfoy had to stand up for himself. She allowed herself a small smile at the thought of Draco Malfoy, without any support whatsoever, trying to survive at Hogwarts, where he had made so many enemies…
And then she turned back to her friends, who would always be there should she need them, and forgot all about him.
So, what did you think? Things are going to get very, very dark for Draco and the Malfoy (rubs hands together gleefully). Oh, this is going to be fun… Read and review, please.