Disclaimer: Not Mine.
Notes: Written for aoifene's now cancelled Seven Deadly Sins Angst collection. The prompt I chose is Envy. Thanks to aoifene, weasleywench and nocturnali for their unwavering support and encouragement. The title is a line from Dante's The Divine Comedy: Purgatory, Canto XIII. Translated by The Rev. H. F. Cary, M.A.
Enjoy. This one WILL have a happy ending. Promise!
The wizarding world was forging a new identity and it had Potter's name all over it as the new Messiah.
Potter was at the vanguard of a new era of peace and harmony. A Golden era, they were calling it. An era where the Dark Lord was gone and the spectre of death dissolved to unveil a joy the likes of which had not been seen since before the days of Grindlewald. Where wretched, snot-nosed children menaced shoppers in Diagon Alley, running around one's legs so much and making such insane giggling noises that Draco was sure their echoes menaced his nightmares. A Golden era where the shopkeepers were all smiles and gracious service until they recognised his name or his face or his hair, then the service would turn perfunctory. They'd take his money but would be barely civil in order to do it. Where wizards of all classes crossed the streets to avoid him or, if that proved impossible, they ignored him as if he didn't exist.
Where blood meant nothing unless it had been spilled on the right side of the war.
The shame of their treatment simmered as anger in Draco's stomach.
But he couldn't even properly hate it because it also meant relative safety for his family.
He could see quite clearly in his head the long line of his ancestors dating back to Claudius Malfoy in 524AD all looking down their noses at him because of what he'd reduced the family to. The Malfoy name had been one to be proud of, feared by those who trembled at the Dark and revered by those who lived in the shadows.
Past history in a time that seemed to be all sunshine and daisies.
And now there was Potter.
Everyone adored Potter; he always seemed to be laughing and smiling and people crossed the road to say hello to him, to wish him well or to ask after his health. They offered gifts, which he refused with the utmost grace – something Draco never suspected Potter had – leaving the unsuccessful giver feeling they'd done Potter a favour by keeping their gift.
Potter even managed to laugh and play with the revolting children to the point where Draco could quite easily have strangled the lot of them.
And there were no hurried gestures around Potter, no glimpses over their shoulders as if afraid they'd be attacked should they let up on their vigilance for one second. There was no mistrust, no fear.
They felt safe.
Being spat on in the street by uncouth ruffians - or Mudbloods - was nothing new for Draco since the Golden Era had begun. But he refused to hide away and give any reaction to their ignorance. His mask had moulded itself over the years into solid stone and, caught early enough, he could now freeze a mouthful of spittle at ten paces.
The polite ones were worse, though.
'Mr. Malfoy, I am afraid you'll need to wait until I serve Mr. Potter and his friends.' In other words, Ihis/I custom was worth more than Draco's.
'No, that's quite alright, Madam Malkin, we'll wait our turn.'
'Of course you can't do that, Mr. Potter. What sort of person would I be to delay a hero and waste his time? Mr. Malfoy can wait.'
Mr. Malfoy is standing right here and should be as valued a customer as Potter and his merry band of hangers on.
If only he had the courage to say that aloud. These days, saying anything against Potter and his cohorts, no matter how trivial, often as not resulted in some fairly severe hexes. Several at once if there was a crowd gathered. Pansy had encountered such a group and reported that twelve stinging hexes all at once left scars, accounted for as much by the lack of care at St. Mungo's as it was by the hexes themselves. After all, who cared if someone associated with the Dark had scars? They were lucky to be alive weren't they?
'I can see I should be taking my custom elsewhere.' Draco tried to keep his voice as polite and neutral as possible. It would be unheard of for a Malfoy to throw a tantrum in public. Besides, he'd had a lot of practice at this.
'As you wish.'
'Well, I don't wish,' Potter exclaimed angrily.
Oh, shut the fuck up, Potter. No one asked you to stand up for me. No point saying that aloud, either. Draco clenched his jaw.
'I certainly don't require your gracious benevolence.' There, just the right amount of sneer as to go undetected.
'You were here first and you should be served first.'
'Mr. Potter, really, I insist.'
Madam Malkin was shocked, Draco thought, really shocked that Potter expected to be treated the same as everyone else.
About as shocked as Potter seemed to be at being bluntly told that he was better than someone else. Draco had assumed he'd be used to it now.
'Let me solve the problem,' Draco said, closed fist jammed deep in his coat pocket to keep from grabbing his wand and hexing everything in sight.
He turned and left the shop, preferring to brave the wind as it blew chill and sterile down the cobbled street, than suffering the indignity of the cloying 'niceness' of Potter's consideration in the shop.
As he braced his body against the bitter wind, the stinging in his eyes became the only escape for the tightly reined emotion. Abruptly, he allowed himself the indignity of wiping at them, his frown daring anyone to deny they were caused by the wind.
Yes, they were worse. The ones who didn't even care enough to hate.
He wasn't entirely positive when he'd come to the awful conclusion that Potter had something tangible that made people love him. Something that transcended sexual or romantic love – although there was that, too. Every matron with a daughter of marriageable age dreamed of her being Potter's perfect match. And it wasn't even the hero kind of love. They all worshipped him for saving them, but an ordinary man would have lost their attention after a few years, where Potter drew it to him further. No, it was the human kind of love.
Maybe Draco had known it right from the start. Even he'd been disposed to be nice to the scruffy boy he'd first met in Madam Malkin's all those years go, before he'd even known who Potter was. Then there'd always been those willing to fight beside Potter, schoolboy or not, ready to lay down their lives to give him the chance to defeat Voldemort. Logically, it made no sense to have faith in a mere child to save the world, but they had anyway.
Or it might have been when Potter ran down the street after him that day, asking him to come back into the shop.
'Just leave it alone.'
'Why? You can't honestly tell me you aren't pissed off about that?'
'Of course I am, but that has nothing to do with anything.'
'It's not right.'
'No, it's not, but the winners write the rules. Those of us on the other side are left to find a way to exist among the cracks.'
'That's not how it was meant to be, Draco.'
'Don't call me that,' he ground out through a clenched jaw. Draco found his hand itching to twist in Potter's robes and shove him against the wall for daring to be familiar.
'All right.' Potter held his hands up in surrender. 'But please come back to the shop and buy whatever it was you were after.'
'So I can be humiliated again? I don't think so.'
'If it makes any difference, I told her that I'd not be prepared to shop at a place where the owner thinks so little of her customers.'
Potter was always so…annoyingly chivalrous, Draco decided. Always had to be doing the 'right thing', whatever that was. Abruptly irritated with Potter's earnest righteousness, Draco stopped and turned to look into a nearby shop window, peering through its dusty exterior to the displayed wares. Draco could only hope that if he ignored Potter long enough, he'd leave. Fortunately, over the years he'd had ample time to perfect the art of keeping his mouth shut and he had no intention of even being polite about it.
Draco let his eyes skim over the contents of the shop window, vaguely noticing the aesthetic way in which the display had been structured.
'Are you really in the market for ladies lingerie?'
'You can ignore me all you like, I'm only trying to do the right thing here.'
Aren't you always? Draco could hear the frustration in Potter's voice and something smug and warm lit deep inside him. Satisfaction. It had been a long time since he'd felt that emotion; he barely knew what it was these days. If it had been anyone other than Potter, Draco might have been grateful for the interference.
Potter walked away and Draco continued staring into the shop window. As Potter passed from his mirrored line of vision, it took all his remaining strength not to let his eyes follow or his mouth curl up in an unfamiliar smile.
However, he was sure of the exact moment he realised he coveted that love enough to do something about it. And do something about it he must, or his family would be relegated into obscurity.
It was the moment he realised he could.
Obscure Dark spells were not difficult to research if you knew what you were looking for. It took Draco a month of research in his father's library before he came across something appropriate. A spell to divert the public's attention and love from Potter to Draco.
A wizard never dared use these Dark spells for fear of being traced and prosecuted. The Golden Era had produced an aversion to even the mildest forms of Dark Magic. Draco, out of a sense of self-preservation, had refrained from performing anything that might raise suspicion within the ranks of the MLE, but the yearning he had for what Potter so effortlessly acquired outstripped the risk.
He barely skimmed over the warnings and myths about punishments and retribution.
Envy suffocatingly thick and strong coiled in the heat of his belly and a dizzying sort of obsession threatened to overwhelm him and suddenly it was sixth year all over again. His whole existence whittled down into succeeding in this one endeavour that would bring about his family's salvation. He couldn't afford to fail.
He simply would not let that be an option.
A few quick words and it was done. He had no idea how the spell functioned, how it completed its task, only that it did. Very soon now, he would be the one in receipt of all the love and adulation that Potter had undeservedly enjoyed, while the man in question was relegated to something more fitting his place. Ignored. Ignored just like creeping ground cover on the forest floor, existing on the pale, filtered light, leaving Draco to grow and climb and shine in the sun.
Several days later, Draco was still waiting for the change in his fortune. He was becoming increasingly troubled over the potency of the spell. There had been no clamouring on his doorstep by the newspapers for an interview, no marriage proposals received from vapid girls and no unexpected windfalls of luck, either. He was as much on the fringes as he'd always been and it made him wonder if he was losing his skill at casting spells.
Maybe the extent of the love that Potter accumulated from the populace exceeded the ability of even Dark magic to usurp.
Perhaps there was a delay in the transfer?
According to the latest gossip rag, which Draco subscribed to under sufferance to monitor Potter's movements, there were only indications that the Golden boy's popularity was growing. He was in the news everywhere! He was the news. Attending a Ministry Ball here, opening a new children's wing at St. Mungo's there and the proud owner of a new racing broom somewhere else. Did they never have any other news to write?
Doris Purkiss of 18 Acanthia Way, Little Norton, was taken into custody today after claiming that Harry Potter was the reincarnation of Stubby Boardman, lead singer of popular singing group The Hobgoblins. Stubby Boardman retired from public life after being struck on the ear by a turnip at a concert in Little Norton Church Hall many years ago and has not been seen since. According to sources, the claim predictably proved to be false.
The official spokesman for Magical Law Enforcement, Randolph Kennerton, confirmed today that Ms. Purkiss had allegedly written several letters to Mr. Potter, demanding that he return to her and assist in raising their child.
Mr. Potter insisted on being tested in order to set Ms. Purkiss' mind at rest and hospital staff waxed rhapsodically over how polite and charming he was about the inconvenience.
Ms. Purkiss is being held at St. Mungo's while she undergoes psychiatric treatment. The child, Jordan, 17, has reunited with his father, Mr. Redmond Pollack, who had no idea he had a son.
Mr. Potter requested that Ms. Purkiss not be charged and instead receive the treatment she so badly requires.
Mr. Potter, you are definitely a hero and a gentleman.
It made Draco grind his teeth in frustration. Any normal person would have ensured that the Purkiss woman was locked away, never to be released. A complete nutter. Why did Potter have to even be nice to the nut cases? He tossed the paper aside and stood, pacing the room in an attempt to calm down and think of what to do next.
'Draco, you will desist from wearing a hole in my carpet,' a firm voice interrupted his thoughts and Draco turned, startled at the sudden presence of his mother.
'Mother, good morning. I didn't see you there.' He pressed a soft kiss to her cheek.
'Probably because your thoughts were elsewhere.' A worried look stole across her face. 'As it has been for the past few days. Did something happen? Are you all right?'
'It can't be healthy for you to be worried about me all the time.'
'And it can't be healthy for you to deflect me all the time, either,' she said wryly.
He would have rolled his eyes if he could but he didn't want to upset her. As annoyingly fussy as she was being, she only had his well being at heart. 'I'm just waiting for something to come and it hasn't yet. The delay upsets me.'
'Of a sort.' Draco shrugged offhandedly. 'I'm beginning to wonder if I did it right,' he mumbled to himself, looking away from his mother's blue eyes. 'The order, I mean.'
'Well, couldn't you go and see for yourself?' his mother asked innocently. 'Make sure that everything's in order?'
A jolt of realisation hit him. Of course! Why didn't he go and Isee/I if the spell had worked? After all, since Potter was the catalyst it would only make sense that he feel the effects before Draco himself did. Or before the newspapers printed any derogatory story about their Golden boy, either.
Draco smiled at her and nodded. 'Thank you, Mother. I think I'll do that.'
Typically, there was a crowd around the Potter group as they ate ice creams at Fortescue's. The management of the ice creamery had put barriers around their outdoor eating area, which afforded some protection for the patrons, but in this case it appeared they would be totally inadequate. Even in the cold winter sunshine, people were lined up several rows thick around the eatery, craning their necks to get a better picture of Potter eating a chocolate ice cream sundae with Granger and the Weasel. Or two Weasels, rather; one of the female variety.
Draco wondered caustically how long the female Weasley would hang all over the Golden boy once he was no longer so popular. Not that Draco wanted ginger bits anywhere near himself, the further away the better, but it would show Potter just how unreliable the blood-traitor Weasleys were. Once Potter was out of the picture and not the press' darling anymore, Draco doubted that the social climbing redhead would find anything special about him. That thought gave him much pleasure. Potter would soon learn about fair-weathered friendships being a lot less important than good strong alliances and he would soon learn what it felt like to be rejected by a Malfoy; just as Potter had rejected him all those years ago.
The person next to him gave him a funny look, which made Draco realise he'd been grinding his teeth and making a funny growling noise.
Draco had to admit that the years had been good to Potter. Aside from the atrocious fashion sense and the still-untidy hair, he'd filled out and was no longer the scrawny runt he had been in school.
The female Weasley, the one Blaise had thought attractive back in school, was sitting so close to Potter that Draco was sure she could have been giving him a handjob under the table and no one would even be able to tell. It sickened Draco how Potter could actually stand ginger bits near him at all. The Mudblood and the other Weasley were making cow eyes at each other and had Draco not been already lowering himself to mix with the dreck, he might have thrown up.
Obviously, as much as he tried to deny it, Potter was definitely not experiencing the effects of the curse. The man in question was sitting eating his sundae and laughing at some inane comment from the girl Weasel.
It was pointless hanging around, he thought. If he had to stand here too much longer surrounded by people who'd probably not seen a bath in a months, then he might just forget where he was and Scourgify the lot of them.
Giving them one final sneer, he turned away to fight his way back through the crowd and return home to clean, peace and quiet.
Just as he did so, there was a shout to his left. Turning towards the noise, he suddenly found himself being shoved hard in the back.
He tripped, crashing into the barricade and knocking it over. He lost his balance and stumbled over the fallen obstacle, staggering into the cleared space between it and Potter's group. He was desperate not to fall over and make a complete arse of himself in front of Potter of all people and, just as he thought he'd managed to right himself, something slammed into his back with all the force of a rogue bludger, only infinitely more painful.
The last thing he thought before passing out with the pain, was irritation at himself for falling in front of something, obviously a curse. Then everything went fiery red under his eyelids for an instant prior to fading and blinking out into inky blackness.