AUTHOR'S NOTE: Jesus. Can you say random and obscure and macabre and sick and twisted? Guess what? I can! And I say it all in this dazzlingly weird story. Literally, I was writing on another story when this idea barged in, banged down the door, drew a banana menacingly on me and told me to write it or else. I chose to write it. You have no idea how lethal ideas with bananas are. So here it is. So weird. So sad. So me. Enjoy.
DISCLAIMER: Not mine unless it is. If it is, it doesn't belong to J. K. Rowling.
How it Happened
He laughed as Blaise poured him another whiskey. He'd lost count of how many he'd had after the first dozen or so. The pleasant buzz in his head matched the warm tingling in his body as he reached for yet another glass.
The stern woman behind the bar reached out and grabbed his wrist. "You've had enough for one night, dearie." She said, in a tone so harsh and clipped it was almost funny in comparison to the warm, motherly words she spoke.
Blaise was laughing about something stupid as he got up from his chair. "C'mon mate…let's head back to the flat. Don't want to keep our lovely girls waiting, do we?"
Draco scoffed as he tossed a few gold Galleons at the gruff, unnaturally blonde woman behind the counter. She scooped them up with eager little hands. "I dunno how much you drank, mate…but we don't have any girls, remember? S'why we're getting smashed in the first place."
Blaise leaned on Draco momentarily as they stumbled from the bar, out into the cold winter night. They were up to their ankles in slush and even in their inebriated state, paused to thank their richness for the knee-high dragon-leather boots and coats that blocked out the cold and wet.
"And why's that, mate?" Blaise asked curiously, stumbling over a snowflake. Draco smirked, two jets of steam issuing from his nostrils. "Because we're not one-women men." He smirked, unable to bring a real smile to his lips.
Blaise must have heard something in his voice because he clapped Draco roughly on the back, nearly sending him flying into a snowdrift. "You're not still hung up on her, are you mate?" he asked jokingly.
Draco didn't feel like joking much.
They trudged on in silence. Blaise, who was much to energetic for stony silence, broke in as they turned a corner, approaching a gap between the high-class wizarding neighbourhood he and Draco had recently moved into, and the dilapidated, crumbling district that barely stood on its own. It was an area of the old Voldemort supporters, prostitutes, homeless drunks, outcasts, and the dirt poor.
"What you say we pick ourselves up a couple of girls, eh?" he asked as they advanced towards an alley that harboured some of the toughest and most driven whores in the quarter. Draco's frown deepened in the lines on his face. Blaise saw and rolled his eyes. "C'mon, Draco. We haven't picked up a girl in ages…when was the last time you got laid, eh?" he asked, already rummaging in his pockets to see what echelon of street-walker he could afford. "How much have you got?" he asked, seeming to forget Draco didn't want one. "I think I can get Althys if she needs money…" he trailed off as they rounded into the alley.
Over two dozen women were standing around. There were a few men standing around…sizing up girls or giving them a try. Draco lowered his eyes against the two figures moving in the corner and his eyes fell on a pale, bluish-tinged hand sticking out from one of the garbage bins. This was not a place for the squeamish.
A thin blonde with a magenta faux fur jacket strode up to him skilfully in worn fake leather stilettos. A phoney beauty mark was hanging precariously from her chin. "What're you up for tonight, eh?" she asked nasally, arms winding around his neck.
He pushed her off disgustedly. The beauty mark quivered and fell into the snow, seeping down through the mushy depths. She glowered at him under two stone of eye paint. He sneered and shouldered his way to the back, where the lower-level prostitutes made their stay.
You could always tell the low levels. They were all young and slightly frightened looking. Even under the tons of cosmetics you could almost see their innocence. The low levels were usually only glanced through for the virgins. All the others were usually hard up for money and work.
Draco cast his eyes over a young girl who couldn't have been more than fifteen. She was huddled on top of a square garbage can, clutching a thin shawl around her tiny shoulders. Her eyes were wide and fiercely blue…the epitome of purity. She hadn't been touched yet…Draco knew when they'd been taken…there was something missing from them. Something that might have made them human.
A slightly older witch from one of the higher levels wove her way back, her tattered scarf wrapped securely around her head, thin protection from the biting cold. She slid between Draco and the young girl, wrapping her arms around her protectively and shooting Draco a glare.
All he could see of her was her angry brown eyes, glaring at him over the scarf that covered the rest of her face. She was one of the higher levels…he could see from the pain and the shock and the anger…the bitterness that ran colder than the night air through her body. She rubbed the girl's shoulders…both for warmth and for support. She girl turned to her and buried her face in the older woman's bosom, shoulders shaking.
Draco knew it wasn't from the cold. The older woman glared at Draco and he felt the icy temperature freeze over itself.
Just then Blaise strode up, looking slightly put out. "Althys is out on a job tonight and there's no one else from the third stage here." He said, sounding disgruntled as he wrapped his thick coat around him tighter. Draco glanced over at the girl and the shawl she was wearing over her shirt…he could see through it in some places. Likewise, the woman holding her had on a threadbare shawl…
As Draco watched, she unwrapped the shawl from her shoulders and placed it around the younger girl. This left her in a thin dress with gauzy sleeves torn up to the elbows and patched roughly. "What about Gwenyth?" he asked Blaise absentmindedly as the woman with the angry brown eyes wrapped the girl's arms around herself. Even from a foot away he could see the gooseflesh standing out on her pale skin.
Blaise snorted, issuing steam. "She's kicked it. Died last week. Damn bints who run this show didn't even bury her frozen body. Just sent it up with the trash." The girl who was sitting on the trashcan shifted and began to cry softly into the hooded woman's chest.
"Not worth going for the lower levels tonight." Blaise said, ignoring the young girl. He turned to leave, shivering even in his heavy leather. Draco was about to follow him when a thin, pale arm shot out, bony fingers wrapped clumsily in mouldy lace latching around Blaise's arm.
Draco followed the hand back to its owner. The angry woman still had one arm around the girl, who was shaking still. Her eyes were still filled with fury, but Draco saw fear in it. And he knew why. Tonight was the coldest on the winter yet…no one was crazy enough to go out and look for whores. If they stayed the night out here, they would most certainly freeze to death.
She was staring firmly at Blaise, who was staring back at her in surprise. "Take us with you." It was a command, in her raspy, deep growl of a voice. Blaise scoffed, once more sending out puffs of heated air. "Why should we? We're no charity workers, go find another home to warm yourselves." The sharp fingers tightened.
"Listen, you prat…I don't give a damn about you. I especially don't give a flying fuck about you." She directed that to Draco, who was slightly shocked, as he hadn't done anything to her. "I really don't give a damn if I die, I've had worse." She glanced down at the girl. "But she doesn't deserve this."
Blaise sneered. "We're not taking in two low levels for nothing. What, I expect you want us to take her in and not touch her? Fat chance, c'mon Draco." The older witch kept a grip like iron on Blaise's arm, making ripples in the rich fabric.
"You're looking for a shag, right?" she asked, breathing heavily. Blaise rolled his eyes. "No, we were just here for the astounding conversation." He said, tossing his head at the whores around him, giggling, screwing, and smoking. The brown eyes narrowed. "You were looking for a third stage girl, yeah? Take me. I'm sixth stage. Give her a place to stay tonight and I'm all yours…you can even keep your damned money, or better yet, give it to her."
She was dead serious. Blaise didn't have to think much. After stumbling back from the pub, they rarely had enough to afford a fourth level, let alone a sixth. She didn't look sixth level but even as they stared disbelievingly at her, she pulled the ratted gauze from her arm and showed them an ink tattoo of a medieval-script number six on the inside of her wrist.
Blaise glanced at Draco, who gave him an indiscernible nod. Blaise was the one who wanted the shag…and it would free Draco's mind if he saved two people…for at least one night. Blaise nodded and started walking again, pulling the older witch, who was still grasping his arm, along with him.
She let him go and turned to the younger girl, wrapping one arm around her shoulders and rubbing warmth into the other as they fell into step behind Draco and Blaise. Once they were out of the alleyway, the young girl began to shiver again. The older one pulled a wand from her skirt pocket and cast a warming spell on the two thin layers of cloth covering the girl's shaking shoulders.
Blaise stuffed his hands into his pockets and strode along beside the older witch, while Draco hung by the young one, whose tears were beginning to ice over. "I haven't seen you in The Alley before. How'd you get to be a sixth stage?" Blaise suddenly asked, his words billowing out of his mouth in steamy puffs.
The older witch closed her eyes and Draco saw her grasp tighten on the girl's shoulders. "I came from London. I was a fifth level there." She said shortly. "Why did you leave?" Blaise asked. "Here's less demanding. I made it sixth stage no problem. Plus I had to get away."
"From what?" Draco asked, catching something familiar in her. She stared determinedly ahead and said nothing. Blaise decided to have a go at the girl, who was also staring down at the snow-covered ground as they tromped through it. "What's your name?" he asked, in a slightly more gentle voice. The girl flinched nonetheless and the older witch rubbed her arms reassuringly.
"Raisin." She said softly. Blaise snorted and the older witch shot him a withering glare. Draco picked it up. "That's a nice name." he said softly. Surprisingly, the older witch turned her glare to him as well.
The men wisely decided to leave that track of the conversation. "Bummer about Gwenyth, eh? Did you know her?" Blaise asked rather insensitively. The younger girl turned her face and lost it in the older one's chest once more. The elder prostitute muttered something that sounded suspiciously like 'tactless', closed her eyes as if to gather herself, and turned her attentions back to comforting the girl.
No one spoke the rest of the way to Draco and Blaise's flat.
Draco awoke late the next morning. He rubbed at his eyes as he slung his legs over the side of his bed. Rubbing his arms against the onslaught of cold that slammed against him, he stood and made his way to the living room.
The first thing he saw was that Raisin was still asleep on the sofa where he'd laid her to rest the previous night. She looked much better now, wearing a tee from Blaise's last conquest and a pair of long baggy pants with paint spattered on them. Her cheeks had gained some colour and the sixth stage prostitute from last night had managed to get almost all the coated paint from her young face. She looked almost normal now.
Draco glanced over at the door to Blaise's room. It was closed. Drawing himself silently into the kitchen, Draco went about making a crude breakfast. As he pulled some sausage onto a sizzling pan, soft footsteps made their way into the kitchen.
Turning slightly, he saw Raisin, newly awoken and rubbing at her eyes as she glanced around. She noticed him and stared shyly down at her feet. "Erm…hello." She said, unsure of what to say to someone who'd given her a bed to sleep in without any payment.
"Sleep well?" Draco asked conversationally, trying to set her more at ease. She nodded, taking the seat he gestured for her. Blaise entered the kitchen as she slipped cold fingers into her pockets.
Blaise glanced around the kitchen, as if looking for something. At Draco's questioning glance, he shrugged and sat down. Raisin was pulling something from her pocket as Blaise scoffed. "Must've left." He muttered as Raisin stared at something under the table.
"Who?" Draco asked, setting plates before each of them. "The girl from last night." He said, rubbing the back of his neck. It was Draco's turn to snort. "You never even figured out her name?" he asked. Blaise shrugged. "We were preoccupied." He said simply.
"What're we going to do with her?" Blaise asked, jerking a thumb at Raisin, whose face was paling as she stared down at her lap. Draco was about to suggest maybe giving her a position at their own bookstore-café when the girl drew a shaking hand from her lap, bringing with it a mess of folded papers.
"These-these are for you." She said unsteadily. Blaise reached out and snatched them from her grasp. His eyes scanned them quickly, colour rising in his cheeks the more time that passed.
And then suddenly he went pale. "Jesus." He whispered, the hand holding the parchments falling to the table. Draco pulled them from his limp hands. He read the first one, scrawled in a hasty hand.
To Blaise Zabini and Draco Malfoy.
Yes, I know you. You won't remember me, but I know you. None of this is necessarily important to the topic I wish to leave you with. Reading this, you will have realized that I am already gone. All I ask is that you do something for Raisin. I hate leaving her like this, but I cannot stay here longer…not with you here. If you do or ever had a heart, you'll do this. I know perfectly well you have an undermanned bookshop in the lower quarter. Raisin is quick and obedient and would be an asset to any business. Give her a chance to get off the streets. You won't see me again, so I suppose this is goodbye. I trust you will take care of things.
Draco glanced up at Blaise who was shaking his head slightly. He turned back to the second piece of parchment, which was written in a firm hand.
To Raisin Mastres.
Dear Raisin…I've watched you grow up from a young child into a lady. Your mother used to bring you by the London alleys to see me…she was the only friend I could turn to after my family turned me out. You know the story. My life. How it happened. I told your mother and I know she told you. I would appreciate it greatly if you would now tell Draco…he's the blonde one. Yes, he is the Draco Malfoy from the stories. I can't tell the story myself, and I know they're almost like fairy tales to you…so please, pass it on to him. Your mother would have been proud to see you grow into who I know you will be. Stay off the streets and take what help Malfoy and Zabini offer you. You will get your wish someday, and I'm only to sorry I won't be there to see it.
Draco raised his eyes to Raisin's, which were leaking tears. "Mastres? Wasn't that-"
"Gwenyth's last name." Raisin cut in, her voice sharp. "Gwenyth was my mother. She and Ginny were old friends…mum was the only one who would talk to Ginny after you." Her small voice had grown astoundingly bitter and he could see traces of the elder prostitute's glare in her blue eyes.
Her words hit Draco like ten stone of bricks. Cold disbelief washed over him, and a buzz he knew wasn't related to alcohol rose in his ears. He hastily opened the third and final letter.
To Draco Malfoy.
Since you're reading this, you have not figured out who I am. Surprise. Bet you never knew the wreck you left behind you. I don't expect you to remember me except by name. Surely you'd remember the Weasleys. Poor, filthy lot, right? What, did you think it was all just a little fling? I gave up everything. I told you that. My parents kicked me out, my brothers burned my letters, my friends turned their backs on me…I took it all for you. And how do you repay me? By shagging the first slut that walks by. You owe me. I expect for you to listen to Raisin and repay that debt by giving her a chance at a life. The chance you took from me. Don't bother looking for me. By the time you read this, I'm already long gone. Pity. I really did love you.
Draco stared up at Raisin, who was glaring at him through tear-blurred eyes. "So you're the infamous Draco Malfoy?" she asked acerbically. Blaise watched on in interest. Draco stood, his wooden chair falling back and splintering on the hard marble floor.
"Is this true?" he asked frantically, waving the papers. "Tell me this isn't true!" he shouted. Raisin just glared coldly at him. "You killed her." She spat. "You took everything she had for a bit of fun and then threw it away. I know, my mother did tell me the story. She left her family for you. Her mother cried for days. Her father said she wasn't going to see 'Malfoy trash' like you while she was living under his roof. She left home to go live with you."
She was crying now, tears streaming down her face as she too stood, arms steadying herself on the tabletop.
"Didn't you ever wonder where she went when you tossed her out? Didn't you ever pause to think what happened to her? Her parents wouldn't take her back; she'd given up a promising career in France for you." She glowered at him. "The only person she could talk to was my mother. She turned to the streets. She's been living on the streets as a bloody whore for four years!" she broke down and began to sob into her arms.
Blaise was staring in horror up at Draco. "I didn't know it was her, mate, I swear." He said gently. Draco was shaking now. Ginny. His Ginny. Living on the streets. Making her money by sleeping with men she'd never met before. Why? All because Draco was too afraid to make a commitment. All because he was too scared to tell her those simple three words. All because he was too much of a pansy to give her that little velvet box that held a lifetime inside.
He fell to his knees in the middle of the kitchen and screamed.
Flash forward three weeks.
Draco dusted snow from his cloak as he stepped into a small, Indian café in lower London. A waiter done up in silk led him to a table where a spectacularly ugly man in pinstripe robes was waiting.
"Ah, Mr. Malfoy. How do you do?" Mr. Furbisham asked jovially, his moustache quivering as Draco took his seat. "Quite well, actually." Draco said, spilling a sack of Galleons onto the table without further ado.
The penguin-like man's black little eyes gleamed with the gold from the coins as he counted them. "My, my, my. A full month's repayment, stock, and interest. Someone's been busy." He commented, scooping the coins into his pocket.
Draco nodded. "The new girl we've hired has done wonders with the place…the new design you say last week is drawing in twice the customers. Blaise and I will have paid off your loan by next month if this continues."
"It will, Mr. Malfoy, it will."
Draco was in a rather good mood as he walked down the cobblestone street. Dusk was drawing a shroud of darkness over the scene, bringing with it a sense of foreboding that Draco, in his delight, completely missed.
An elderly witch passed him by, giving him a warm smile that nonetheless couldn't melt the freezing atmosphere that seemed thicker than solid ice. "Lovely weather we're having, eh?" Draco said wryly as he passed. The elderly witch scoffed, shaking her head slightly.
"Worst we've had in years. Don't know what makes them think they can handle it." Her voice trailed off as she continued walking in the opposite direction. Draco's confusion as to who 'them' were was cleared up as he rounded the next corner. Half a dozen prostitutes were scattered about, trying desperately to warm themselves around a pathetic fire that was flickering with every howling gust of the fierce wind.
But Draco's eyes were pulled to the garbage bins that had been pulled out onto the curb. His stomach gave a sickening twist as he saw something red at the top of the pile. He walked slowly over to the pile, the scenery crumbling around him with ever step he took.
As he leaned over the pile, his world gave out.
Red…hair. Pale face. Icy blue eyelids frozen shut forever over a pair of once-lively chocolate eyes. Pale skin, stretched tight with malnutrition over a thin frame. The scarf that had concealed her from him three weeks ago was around the shoulders of one of the women around the wavering fire. She had been stripped of everything but her basic dress, he supposed, as a sign of respect to her.
Draco felt as if everything was dull. He felt numb and cold…having nothing to do with the weather. He turned, vision blurring and stumbled over to the only thing he could make out-the fire.
One of the whores left from her seat and caught him before he fell into it. She lowered him to the seat next to hers where she continued trying to warm her thinly covered fingers in the low fire.
"It's horrible, isn't it?" she asked suddenly, voice rasping. "You probably just think she's some cheap slut, but she was a wonderful person. Got me son a job at some magic school. Was always giving the lower girls bits of her pay. Kept a lot of girls off the streets. Poor thing. We told her not to give Marie her shawl, but she wouldn't listen." She nodded to the girl wearing the familiar, patched and frayed green shawl. "Saved her life, though. Marie would have frozen otherwise." The prostitute said.
"She had a tough life, that one. Man she loved turned her out. She's better off dead, I think. There wasn't a day that went by that she didn't send her parents a letter. There wasn't a day they didn't send the ashes back." She sighed, shoving her hands farther into the fire. "There wasn't a day she didn't cry for him." she said, the wind blowing her hair into her face as Draco felt tears freezing in his eyes.
The fire flickered, once, and went out.