a / n ;; Written for the 'H' Challenge over on the HPFC forum. My word was hazard. I've been battling with parts of this for ages, so I'm not at all sure I did it justice, but it was fun regardless.
edited June 9, 2010 at 2:36 a.m. because the site refuses to honor my section breaks, and I therefore have to correct the messy formatting which ensues.

Out of Depth

Miss Greengrass is very pretty, beautiful maybe, but these are things he wouldn't know, has only gathered snatches of from dainty mouths concealed behind ostrich-feather fans and idle gossip, and not for the first time Draco wonders at the trite things otherwise respectable witches (purebloods, of course, as is there is no other respectable sort except, perhaps, a Mudblood that had the decency to get themselves killed in the war) are content to confine themselves to.

But, perhaps, if Draco had been a more insightful man he would have realized that some topics are easier to digest than the ones he is familiar with- gospels of bloodlust and burning marks; enameled masks; curses that rip the life from your limbs; begging, pleading, and dying on the dining room floor. There's blood in my teacup, but it's always been an occupational hazard, hasn't it? But Draco has never been an insightful man, and it is for this reason that he has never bothered with women beyond the physical, beyond what they could do for him- their loaded words and double meanings are more than he is willing to handle and enough to make his head throb.

Draco doubts Miss Greengrass is the sort of woman that would fall for such blatant manipulation. He doubts even more that she would knowingly allow for it. He doubts this because Miss Greengrass is nothing like her sister and even less like Pansy Parkinson who never quite got over him or the ink bleeding into his forearm, who at this very moment is eyeing him over the rim of her champagne glass.

And Draco would very much like to stay and observe Miss Greengrass if for no other reason than he has never known anyone to be less of what is expected of them, but Pansy is a situation to avoid, and he's learned astonishingly well the philosophy of acting in your best interest.

He's gone with a turn of the heel and a crack and he only just misses a pair of pale eyes fixed on the spot where he isn't.

: - :

They do not stay parted for long. And it is a curiousity, except that it isn't.

Missus Greengrass is over for tea and she is somehow less than what she used to be, what he remembers. It is a look he has seen often, one that reminds him of fires, of smoke rising, of copper-claret-red, of surprised faces and vacant eyes staring at the ceiling as if something has been snatched from them.

She cries into her teacup and Draco leaves the table.

Miss Greengrass is in the foyer and he isn't surprised in the least. She is a smart woman, or at the very least one who understands it is best to distance oneself from such weaknesses - they are hazardous, and Draco knows this well.

"My sister died in the war, you know," she tells him, and it's nothing like one would expect and certainly, he is sure, nothing like how her mother might say it- she looks every bit her mother, he notices, but with a straightness to her spine and wholeness to her cheeks Mrs. Greengrass does not possess- her lips don't flinch away from the syllables, and Draco wonders at the sort of relationship the siblings shared. A cold one, he thinks, but he is hardpressed to find a fault in it. Snakes are cold-blooded by nature, after all, "Got hit with an entrail-expelling jinx. Nasty bit of work for the aurors, I imagine."

"I don't recall asking to hear your sob story, Greengrass."

"Pity I gave it to you then."

: - :

Blue eyes dance behind his eyelids. Words fly out of crevices and land on his chest. Ivory vertebrae click together in rhythm with his growing madness, and these are the dreams Draco would be most glad to be rid of.

: - :

The summer days are hot and oppressive and remind him ever so vaguely of days spent scheming and screaming and falling apart. And sometimes Draco remembers that it is Snape he has to thank for the breath he draws, but this is not often, and Snape is dead, and whatever thought he spares on him are wasted- wasted like the surname of the woman sitting beside him, spouting Shakespeare and Nietzche and all other manner of filth.

Yet Draco suspects she would be a lovely girl if not for the words that stain her lips. It is a peculiar thought and not at all redeemable.

"You talk like a filthy Mudblood," he spits, lip curling, but it never seems to have the effect he wants, and certainly not on her.

: - :

Draco isn't sure when he begins thinking of her in eyes and lips and the pale porcelain of a gleaming collarbone. He isn't sure of the times that he's imagined her mouth blue and fingers bright and blood-filled like scarlet rose dynamites, imagined a serpent reclining against her windpipe. He isn't sure, but he's certain it needs to stop.

But it doesn't.

: - :

Draco's twelfth kiss is nothing like his first or second and everything like forgetting to breathe. It isn't romantic. It's hard and fast (and almost entirely accidental) and his tongue flicks against Miss Greengrass's mouth, serpentlike, and he thinks he can taste the scent of her heartbeat pounding. But this is only ever a thought. This is only ever a mistake.