Prologue – Poor little rich boy
Never thought you'd make me perspire
Never thought I'd do you the same
Never thought I'd fill with desire
Never thought I'd feel so ashamed
Placebo - My Sweet Prince
The clock had since long passed midnight, and the streets of the shabby neighbourhood lay deserted in the cool night. The few streetlights that still worked were illuminating the empty pavements with a soft, ghastly glow, and the untidy windows belonging to the cheap flats stood empty and dark.
All except for one.
The small kitchen of number five was dimly lit by a nearly extinguished candle, and at the kitchen table, with his eyes fixed at the flickering flame, sat a man curled up with a blanket over his lap and a large cup of tea in his hands. Without taking his eyes of the candle, the man took a large gulp emptying the cup, and then gently placed it on the table in front of him. He pulled his knees closer to his chest and wrapped the blanket more tightly around himself for protection against the biting cold.
Draco Malfoy had never imagined that he one day might have to settle for anything less than the luxurious standard of Malfoy Manor, but on the other hand, not much had ended up the way he had expected. He tried to rub the fatigue from his eyes, and then carefully moved the burning candle aside to reach the pile of newspapers it had been balancing on. He glanced down at the well-thumbed front page of the paper on top of the pile, and, once again, saw a familiar, spectacled face. The man on the front page was frowning; the eyes behind his glasses looked distressed and his mouth was formed into a thin line. Draco didn't even need to scan the paper for the headline; he already knew too well what it said.
The boy who lived in scandalous divorce.
A picture of the redheaded Ginny Weasley accompanied by a tall, handsome stranger could be found further down on the page, but to Draco, she was completely uninteresting.
For him, it all seemed to be about Potter.
Since the war had ended four years ago, Draco had taken to the inconvenient habit of excitedly following every single article concerning Potter. An incredibly bitter sort of hobby, of course, constantly reading about the success of the wizarding worlds favourite hero, his own arch rival… the man who (at least in Dracos opinion) had ruined his entire family.
Even though Potter had bore witness about how Narcissa had helped him during the final battle at Hogwarts, there had been no salvation for neither her nor Lucius. They had both been sentenced to lifetime imprisonment in Azkaban as soon as the protection of the wizarding prison had been reinstated. As for Draco, the Wizengamot had concluded that he was too young to be held responsible for his actions, and therefore, he was free.
Free, but at what cost?
The manor and all of his family heirlooms had been confiscated by the ministry, and Draco had been left all alone, without any money and nowhere to go. He was despised by the entire wizarding community because of a name that earlier had been pronounced with respect and admiration, and thanks to Potter, he didn't even have a wand anymore. He had moved to London and taken a job at a shabby muggle pub in the same neighbourhood as the flat he rented. The salary barely paid for rent, but for a man who in the muggle world lacked both education and connections, it was the best he could hope for. The only link left between him and his old world was the The Daily Prophet which he so diligently read.
In time, the characteristics of the articles slowly started to change. Potters private life had been thoroughly surveyed by The Prophet ever since the war ended, and in the beginning they had all reported about his quickly ascending career at the Auror's Office and the development of his marriage with Ginny Weasley. The articles were filled with speculations of how long it would take for Potter to become Head of the Aurors and stories about how the happy couple soon were expected to become parents. Everything, everything, seemed to go Potters way. And each day, Draco exposed himself to the enormously bitter self-torture, the knowledge of the success of his rival, when he himself sat shut up inside the cold, dark flat. He hadn't been able to pay for electricity in months, and without magic the long, cold nights were nearly unbearable.
But suddenly, The Prophet started to report about completely different things in Potters life. Slowly, through hours of intense reading in the faint light of a candle, Draco watched the surface of Potters perfect existence starting to shatter.
The Potters never had a baby. The Prophet reported of miscarriage after miscarriage, constantly publishing new interviews with sources supposedly close to the Potters who claimed to be able to tell exactly how devastated the couple were. Of course, Potter himself hadn't dignified the paper with a comment.
The Prophet feasted upon Potters misery, just as Draco did. He read more and more articles about the shattering marriage, reports about Potter refusing to even leave his house, and finally an article about Potter not only turning down the Head of Aurors post, but resigning from his current job as well.
The reactions following these news were immediate. People seemed to think that Potter was betraying his duty to the wizarding society - if he wasn't there to protect them, who would? Even with Voldemort long gone, Potter was still everybody's favourite icon, the poster boy of the constant struggle against the dark arts. Naturally, their hero had to be ready to once again save the world, should it need to be saved?
And then, four months ago, the deathblow; Potter divorcing Weasley. Weasley having an affair with another man. Potter leaving his home in Hogsmeade for a flat in London.
The Prophet had been oddly quiet about Potter ever since. Draco strongly suspected it was because there simply wasn't anything more to report – Potter had retreated, he no longer did anything worth writing about.
In pace with the articles of Potter appearing more and more infrequently, Draco had lost his interest for the papers. He had read every article, every tiny little notice about his nemesis to a decree that he had almost felt like a part of Potters life. When the Prophet had lost their interest and stopped writing, in some bizarre way, Draco felt like he had lost a friend. He laughed a humourless laugh at the thought.
Like he had lost his only friend.
Day after day, paper after paper, article after article… with delight mingled with terror, he had watched Potters life fall in to pieces, just like his own life had. It had been pure malice, and in his own misery, that feeling had been an appreciated feature. He missed it.
The thought of Draco Malfoy ever missing Harry Potter… it was so wickedly twisted that he had to snort to himself. After all these years of desperately wishing Potter would disappear from the surface of the earth…
Oh, the irony.