A/N: Novel length DHr. Let's see how this plot works out!
Disclaimer: Not mine. Doesn't get any simpler.
Draco Malfoy stood before the silent grave of his mother.
He stood empty handed and pensive, staring down at the words engraved on her white marble tombstone. He remembered fighting his bastard of a father for the decision of what to put on her epitaph. Lucius had won. All that was left of his mother's earthly remains had been entombed under a mass of near incomprehensible Latin words…but Draco had the last word.
When his father had died, murdered at the hand of the very master he chose to serve for failing a mission, Draco had made sure that one more word was added to that pristine slate of stone.
He never needed to say more. Simply said, Narcissa Malfoy had always been, first and foremost, his mother.
The rest of the wizarding world might have thought of her to be the same cruel and vicious kind of person that Lucius had been but to Draco, no woman could have ever compared to her. No other woman could ever surpass her kindness or her beauty.
He felt that same void of despair as he thought of her buried in the cold ground, her grave sheltered only by tall Grecian pillars of the temple, in this desolate graveyard. Her only company were generations of long dead Malfoys each as cruel as the next, fixated on pureblood mania, just as his father had been.
The corners of his lips curled in a snarl as his eyes slid to his father's grave. Right next to his mother's. Even in death, it seemed, Narcissa Malfoy could not escape the grasp of Lucius, a man who had destroyed both her body and her soul.
Teeth clenched, he forced away the tears that threatened to fall. She shouldn't have died but she had refused to give up her son, her only son, to those maniacs, refused to allow Lucius to take him to kneel before that over-rated half-blood.
Draco had been saved that night.
The dark side had long been fighting the losing battle, you only had to look at Lord Voldemort's track record and it became rather obvious who would succeed in the end. Not one to disappoint, Potter had indeed out done himself, not only defeating the dark lord but rounding up most of his followers in one foul swoop. The feat accomplished mainly because of Granger's ingenious mind.
All that time, all the time that the second Great War had raged, while his mother had been murdered by Lucius and he in turn murdered by Voldemort, all that time, Draco had been in Italy, with Blaise at the Zabini family estate.
Wisely, both Slytherins had chosen to stay neutral, neither wishing nor willing to take a side in a war which devastated the English wizarding community. That year, muggles were alerted to the existence of the magical community. How could they not be aware when one half of the London Metropolis had been devastated by an explosion of atomic proportions? The order did a magnificent job of covering it all up though.
Thrown off course by a collision with another meteor somewhere in space.
So for muggles, 2007 became the year of hysteria and mourning, just as it had for the witches and wizards of England and all that time, Draco had dwelled and brooded under the warm Florentine sun, all the while wondering if his fellow housemates had chosen the right side, whether they had survived all the small skirmishes which came before the final battle.
When it finally ended, when the silence had stretched across the ancient grounds of Hogwarts, after the dark lord had fallen and his followers captured, he and Blaise had listened to the live broadcast on the wireless wizarding network and all they had heard was that same eerie silence experienced by those on the battlegrounds, they had known the answer.
Their housemates, young and old had not survived. They had either lost their lives or their freedom.
Blaise hadn't said a thing and neither had he. What was there left to say?
He had stayed away for another six years. And when those brief six years had come and past, Draco Malfoy had returned, older, wiser and much, much more aware of both self and world.
He had returned to find the magnificent school still mercifully intact, his fortune untouched, Malfoy manor immaculate and the wizarding world…in tatters.
The war had decimated the already tiny population of the English wizarding community and those that remained were either sick, maimed or dying. Very few were left to pick up the pieces and the ministry was scrambling for solutions. The losses had been worse than they had anticipated, a magical and untreatable plague being Voldemort's final gift had swept through the country killing thousands on top of those who had perished in the war.
So the wizarding world of the United Kingdom had been brought to its knees and though the dark lord was not alive to witness the atrocities which had occurred, many felt that the English magical race would never recover, that a permanent and deadly blow had been struck.
The doe eyed house elf stood before the young man nervously, its long, bony fingers clasped tightly in the threadbare tea towel it wore around its emaciated body.
Draco Malfoy stared down at the pathetic creature and smiled sympathetically while his hand convulsed around the handle of his suitcase. The dark memories of his childhood swamped his conscious as his grey eyes swept over the familiar interior of the manor.
"We kept the house clean, master. We knew master would return someday and we remembered how much master despised dirt. Always mud, so much mud, master Lucius used to say."
Grey eyes shot down to stare at the creature swaying nervously before him. Draco swallowed, instantly aware of what the house-elf was referring to. He made no comment.
Pausing for a few moments before the magnificent entrance hall, he met the curious gazes of all the framed portraits who were slowly beginning to recognize the Malfoy heir. Suddenly hisses and curses filled the room; his ancestors bared their teeth at Draco, their words reaching his ears conveying their vehement anger and displeasure.
"…pathetic excuse for a…"
"…shame to the Malfoy name…"
"…undeserving little brat…"
Draco unclenched his fists and dropped his suitcase with a resounding crash. He eyed each and every one of the portraits, meeting their long dead eyes confidently.
"You may say what you like but in the end your words change nothing. The war is lost, the dark lord failed and you…you are all dead…long dead."
Indignant silence filled the room leaving Draco with a bitter taste in his mouth. A familiar voice rose from the thick silence, a voice Draco had hoped never to hear again. However, this voice came not from the entrance hall but from the darker interior of the manor, from the grand family room in the heart of the house.
Instant recognition filled his mind and his feet carried him through the archway of the entrance hall until he stood before the imposing painting of Lucius, hung proudly above the fireplace, the surrounding canvases crowded with the occupants of paintings from all over the manor.
The painting hissed. "You are no son of mine."
He could only smirk at his father's greeting, the words sliding from his mind with cold indifference.
"I have returned."
Lucius sniffed in disdain. "It's quite a marvel that you can still enter these grounds. Malfoys are not cowards." The painting shot the young man an icy glare. "Just like you mother." He spat.
Silence reigned. Tense, foreboding. Around the room, the Malfoy ancestors trapped in their painted canvases began cheering, their voices adding affirmations to Lucius' statement.
"You're right." The young Malfoy paused for strength. "I am my mother's son."
Grey clashed with grey. "Thank God." Draco hissed.
With that said, Draco stripped off his travelling robes and tossed them into a nearby chair. He surveyed the dark surroundings he had not laid eyes on for nearly seven years and flinched in distaste. He remembered the frightening nightmares that these rooms had inspired in him when he was a child, remembered this room when it had been cleared of furniture leaving only his mother collapsed on the floor, writhing and screaming in agony…begging…begging her husband not for mercy, not for death…but for him to spare her only son.
Instantly a hunched and anxious house elf appeared before him. Draco smiled at the creature he remembered as his favourite elf, recalling the amusing instance when he, in his childish exuberance, had insisted on naming the new elf after a sanitary item.
Coming back to the present, Draco politely greeted the elf, once again noting the tatty tea towel wrapped around its body and smiled while he gestured to the walls of the family room.
"Master requested my presence?" its squeaky voice echoed through the suddenly silent room.
"Yes," Draco could only smile. "I've decided to redecorate."
Cue tip nodded enthusiastically. "Of course! Whatever the master wishes. Shall I call the other elves?"
Within moments, the glorious splendour of the room was overcome with an army of weary looking house elves, each bowing politely to their newly returned master, their eyes darting to the paintings which glared down at them irately.
"First things first." He began. "I want all the paintings taken down. Every single one in every single room. Then, I want my mother's picture, the one that hangs in her parlour, put right there." Draco pointed his finger at where Lucius now stood and smirked as his father threw verbal abuses at him furiously.
"Spare me, Lucius."
The hunched house elves were quickly popping away, intent on their task. Cue tip remained, his loyal gaze still fixed on the young man unwaveringly.
"What shall we do with all the paintings, master?"
Pausing, Draco frowned as if thinking over a deep dilemma. "Lock them all in chests in the attic. You can burn the vicious ones."
Uproar surged through the manor, paintings from every corner of the house screamed and roared with the indignity of being dislodged from their watchful posts but Draco ignored them all. Instead, he turned his attention back to the house elf that was cringing with the noise of the chaos.
"Cue tip." The creature looked up. "I want you to go to Florence," Draco handed him a large antique skeleton key. "At the Gringotts there, you will find a vault under my name. There are hundreds of paintings I've acquired in my absence. I want you to bring them all here and place them on the walls."
The house elf nodded enthusiastically and popped away, leaving Draco to enjoy the quiet which was slowly beginning to settle in the manor. He watched as the house elves took down the cursing framed paintings one by one, leaving Lucius for last so that he would bear witness to his son's actions. When at last two elves approached the gilded gold frame, Lucius was dead silent; stumbling as the two small creatures magically dislodged him from the wall and lugged him away.
A smile broke onto his lips and Draco collapsed into a stiff leather arm chair.
Yes. It was good to be home.
It took nearly two months for everything to be arranged as the young Malfoy wanted. After the hissing family portraits had been replaced with a myriad of both muggle and wizarding artworks, Draco had begun to dislike the rest of the interior of the house. The beautiful works seemed out of place for the heavy, dark architecture of the ancient Wiltshire manor and the cold marble floors seemed distinctly distasteful along with the heavy drapes and dark furniture.
Slowly, Draco began refurbishing every room. Doing this became something of a stress relief for the young Malfoy, as if making over the house was like turning a new leaf in his life, starting a new chapter.
When the works to the house were finally completed, Draco couldn't help but admire the beautiful February sun which streamed through the windows as he stood barefoot on the soft white carpet of his bedroom. His hand rested on a beautifully sculpted crystal dragon, one of the few antiques he had decided to keep, and stroked the cool muzzle of the astonishing creature.
As he made his way down to the dining parlour, Draco surveyed the rest of the house proudly, smiling as he spotted a striking landscape watercolour which hung proudly upon the swirling marble wall.
When he arrived at the breakfast table, Draco found everything laid out perfectly. A mug of coffee sat beside a steaming plate of pancakes; near them were pitchers full of maple syrup and honey, dishes stacked with sliced fruit and shining cutlery glinting on the pristine tablecloth.
As he seated himself, a house elf popped into view, dressed in a fresh, clean tea towel embroidered with the Malfoy crest, and handed him the newspaper and a small stack of letters. Taking a quick glance at the daily prophet headline, Draco took a small sip of his coffee, allowing the bitter liquid to slide down his throat as his eyes quickly snapped back to the large emboldened letters on the page.
Nearly dropping the rest of the hot beverage in his lap, Draco Malfoy shot from his seat and brought the paper closer to his face, his eyes fixed intently on the headline.
MINISTRY MARRIAGE LAW!
Draco spluttered nervously and quickly began to scan the article.
In his press conference yesterday, the minister of magic, Mr. Augustus Towridge, announced the instatement of the controversial post-war marriage law.
"In light of the declining wizarding population in England, the ministry has decided to impose a marriage law upon all eligible witches and wizards of marriageable age (21-45). Each witch or wizard will receive information and forms via owl post and will be required to attend an appointment with ministry officials to confirm their understanding of the legal process.
Each eligible witch or wizard will be required to complete the forms included in their letters pertaining to their personal details, financial state as well as a personal profile before their appointments. This data will then be collated and edited into a file which can be accessed through the ministry library by all potential spouses. There will be a three month period, from the beginning of April till the end of June, in which all eligible candidates may view these files and petition the ministry for the hand of the witch or wizard.
Once a witch or wizard has accepted such a petition, the engagement will be registered officially with the ministry and the marriage is required to take place by the end of the year.
Any eligible witch or wizard who does not contract an engagement by the end of the three month period will be subject to ministerial intervention (meaning a spouse will be chosen for you).
If a witch or wizard has been petitioned for an engagement but have not accepted any offers by the end of the three month period, the first petition will be accepted in their stead.
Eligibility conditions include…
Draco was torn from his perusal of the shocking article when the fire place roared to life with green flames. Blaise Zabini stepped from the grate, brushing soot from his expensive robes and strode angrily towards the blond.
"Have you seen the Daily Prophet today?" He stormed angrily to the table, noting the untouched breakfast and the upset coffee mug.
"How could I not? What is this nonsense? Towridge has totally lost his mind! This has to be against some human rights law!" Draco was frowning fiercely, his anger prominent in his expression as Blaise shook his head.
"Have your read the letter?"
Hastily, Draco broke the wax seal on a thick stack of parchments which was previously concealed by his other correspondences and quickly scanned the several pages of contents. His frown deepened with every page, his eyes blazing with anger as he tore his gaze from the page to find Blaise pacing.
"They cannot be serious. These forms! It's like…"
"It's like we're advertising ourselves like livestock. They even want a photo and our annual income and financial status. We might as well print a fucking flyer!" Blaise interrupted. Draco couldn't agree more. Years under his father's thumb had taught him the value of freedom and now that Draco had had a taste of it, he had absolutely no intention of being leg shackled to some bimbo who was after his money.
"No," He muttered. "We're leaving now. We'll return to Italy…"
Blaise shook his head, his face contorted in frustration. "No…we're English citizens…this applies to every one of us in the country or out."
"Shit!" Draco began to pace.
"Maybe we could choose someone we know. A friend. At least…" Blaise muttered
"Think about it Zabini! How many women do you know here that you could trust? Most of the Slytherins died in the war…"
Draco sent him a look.
"Fine. Definitely not Pansy." His amended. "Ah hell, what the hell are we going to do?"
Suddenly, as if all the strength had fled from his legs, Blaise collapsed onto a chair, his head in his hands.
"The only thing we can do now is go to that stupid appointment, suss out the stipulations and look for a loophole." Draco stated and collapsed beside him.
"Dinky! Bring the scotch!"
"Thank you for attending your appointment, Mr. Malfoy. I understand this must be difficult for you…"
"Do you?" Draco interrupted, his tone and gaze arctic, making the man squirm nervously in his seat.
"Yes, Mr. Malfoy, I do…" The man's voice quivered slightly as Draco turned to face him, the full brunt of his molten silver eyes boring into the man opposite him. For a brief moment, Draco's eyes flicked down to the man's left hand before he met those frightened hazel eyes again.
A cruel smirk curled his lips as he leant forward, his eyes still arctic in their intensity.
"You're married. You had the choice. You have no fucking idea what I'm feeling right now, so don't try that act with me!" He leant back, the smirk fading from his features. "Now Mr. Newman, shall we proceed?"
The man swallowed nervously and pulled his left hand from the table, his fingers curling around his wedding ring. He licked his dry lips and attempted to take a deep breath in the suddenly all too confining room. He had spent all day dealing with irate wizards but this one was the most frightening by far. Something in those cold steel grey eyes warned him to tread very carefully.
"Right…Have you brought the…" His tongue suddenly weighed a tonne.
Draco Malfoy tossed a small stack of forms onto the table but he didn't say a word.
Reaching forward, it was all he could do to grasp the edge of the parchments and pull them slowly towards him. As he perused the contents, he couldn't help but marvel at the man's composure. Even on paper, that same intimidating aura existed. Every single answer was elegant and educated, every word formal and refined. When his eyes finally scanned through his financial records and finally the grand total sum, his eyes bulged and nearly popped from their sockets as the sheer wealth and prestige of the man sitting before him hit him like a freight train.
"Are you sure…that is to say…has there been any miscalculation…some mistake? This amount is…"
"The Malfoy family is an ancient one, Mr. Newman." As if that were all the answer needed, Draco Malfoy said no more.
Newman nodded, wetting his lips again. "I…I see…" Clearing his throat, he quickly ducked under the table and retrieved a camera. He held it weakly, dangling from one hand as he gestured awkwardly towards Malfoy, unsure of how to approach the question.
All he received in return was that same deadpanned expression, his eyes still dark and tumultuous.
With no other choice, he quickly snapped a picture and stared as the image was imprinted on film. The picture was a simple one. Just a man behind a table in front of a white washed wall. It was the man who stood out. Though his expression was severe, Draco Malfoy was an unmistakably handsome man, his gaze still frightfully intense, bore holes through him as he stared from the photograph.
Quickly pinning the photo to a labelled manila folder, he shuffled through the stack of documents before him.
"I trust you know the details?"
Malfoy just nodded.
"If…" He tugged at his collar, "If you refuse to marry or attempt to leave the country, you can be liable to legal action and the ministry reserves the right to charge you criminally."
Nothing. The blond didn't react at all.
"Please be reminded, Mr. Malfoy, that marriage is a binding thing. Once married, you will be unable to remove the wedding ring; you will be unable to…"
Draco Malfoy interrupted; his voice a threatening rumble.
"I am well aware of the old magic involved in marriage. The ring can't come off, you can't cheat, divorce is practically impossible…yes?"
There was a cool moment of silence before Newman carried on, he was now very anxious for the meeting to be over.
"Yeah…yes…the…uh…the ministry would just like to remind you to choose carefully…"
"What a redundant statement." Draco mocked. "Perhaps if I had a little more time or perhaps…free will…I could."
After another nervous swallow, the ministry official continued.
"Your wife must be pregnant within two years of the marriage…"
The temperature of the room suddenly seemed to drop several degrees.
"And what if the woman is unwilling? Do I force her?" The aristocratic drawl questioned.
Newman swallowed thickly, his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. Merlin this man was dangerous. One wrong word and…
"We…the ministry…hopes that…you…uh…will find a compatible match…"
"Oh," Malfoy's tone quickly became acerbic. "I suppose that's what the photo's for, right?" The blond sent him another scathing look, his expression seemingly carved in stone. "If you done stuttering, I have better things to do with my time today."
He nodded and watched as Draco Malfoy rose elegantly to his feet, silently slid open the door and slammed it resoundingly behind him.
A/N: There! Chapter one up! Tell me what you think and whether I should continue! Not to worry. This isn't going to be the standard marriage law fic...I have a few twists planned from Draco's front!