A Black Tie Affair

Chapter One: Fresh Blood

In the slanting sunlight of early afternoon, a blond boy of 16 sat staring out the window of his compartment. There were others there with him, his 'girlfriend' Pansy Parkinson, his two meathead 'friends', Crabbe and Goyle, and various castoffs that he had no time for, like Blaise Zabini and Daphne Greengrass. All belonged to his house, Slytherin, and all were as forgettable as the rest to him.

Though they were all talking excitedly, (save for Crabbe and Goyle, who never usually had much to say) Draco Malfoy couldn't hear a thing. He might as well have been alone in the compartment. Lost in thought, he couldn't feel Pansy's hand inching its way over his pants as she sat next to him, while the others pretended not to notice. He was withdrawn entirely, not that the others seemed to mind. Pansy was the only one who found anything he said to be of any worth. He'd long ago stopped caring what any of them thought.

Draco Malfoy had a lot on his mind, and with good reason. His father had been sent to Azkaban. He would be coming home, for the first time in his life, to a Malfoy Manor without its traditional head. He would be the only man in the house now. On the one hand, he was deeply ashamed of his father, and knew that his being away would bring no good, but at the same time, he couldn't help but inwardly grin at the possibilities. Not having his father around would mean he'd have an entire summer where he didn't have to follow him around like a lost dog with its head up its arse.

Yes, Draco was well aware for his reputation of ass-kissing. It was impossible to escape, even among the Slytherins. It never failed to escape the notice of Potter, either. But it was a grim necessity. His father was difficult at the best of times, and the only way to get anything out of him was to go along with him. Sucking up might be degrading, but it had its benefits as well. He would have to get used to not having access to these benefits anymore. He was on his own, for better or for worse. And he intended to make it as better as possible.

And his first betterment, he thought, as he snapped back to reality, would be to ditch Pansy. Thoroughly ditch her. He needed that bitch out of his life, pronto. He slapped her hand away in disgust when she got too close for his liking. Pansy wasn't the only one, by any means, but she thought she was. And that was the problem. She was dragging him down. And he'd let her.

Merlin, Draco, quit being such a fucking pansy.

He contemplated the irony of his internal monologue with a smile on his face. After a while, he looked up to notice that the rest of the compartment had fallen silent and was staring at him. He scowled at them all and they looked away. Pansy cooed stupidly and clutched his arm, curling up against his shoulder. He glanced skyward and let out a long breath, praying to the gods that the train ride would be cut mercifully short. Of course it wasn't. He had to sit there, as still as possible, resisting the urge to beat her head against the glass of the window. A few minutes later, Blaise finally got tired of the silence and tried to strike up a conversation.

"Sooo, what are you guys planning for this summer?"

Draco shrugged noncommittally, but Pansy jumped at the opportunity, and launched into a winding expository that everyone else in the compartment quickly lost interest in. After several long minutes, Pansy began to realize that she'd lost her audience, and accordingly spoke louder. Draco sighed and interrupted her.

"Got the place to myself for the next few months. Besides mother, which barely counts. She'd go stay at my aunt's if I told her I wanted some time alone," he rolled his eyes.

Pansy clung tighter. "Well," she said, putting on what she thought was a seductive tone, "We'll be sure to take advantage of that, won't we Draco?"

Again the compartment sighed. Crabbe and Goyle glanced between themselves and then back at Pansy, twin looks of revolt filling their stupid faces. Evidently they'd seen her do this enough times to finally figure out what it implied. Daphne also seemed to darken at the proclamation.

"Yeah, maybe not," Draco spat. Everyone looked up in surprise. This couldn't be going anywhere good.

Pansy shot up in alarm. "Draco, honey, what are you talking about? I'm going to spend all summer with you!"

Draco's voice became acidic. "Oh, I didn't mean anything! Of course I'm going to be busy, maybe I'll travel Europe-"

"Oooh, take me with you-"

"No, you stupid twat! I don't want to see you anymore! Slobber all over someone else with your awful dog face, you numpty fuck."

The compartment was deadly silent while Pansy took all of this in. Draco stormed out of the compartment, to laughter and applause from Blaise and Daphne. He heard Pansy screaming as he walked, but he couldn't hear what she was saying and there were few things he cared less about in that moment.

He strode the length of the train. He felt free. Liberated. He had nothing tying him down anymore. His father was gone, he'd split up with Pansy, he was a free man. He could do whatever the hell he wanted this summer, and damn them if they tried to stop him.

But as soon as he had reached this grand conclusion, another thought came unbidden to his mind. And he knew then that his summer was going to be anything but ordinary. The Dark Lord was returned and active again. And then there was his mother. He could deny it in front of the others, but she would be a mess.

As the train slowed to a halt in front of the platform, Draco decided that he would genuinely miss Hogwarts. But he would make the best of this summer. A fresh start was exactly what he needed. Exactly what he had in mind. It was coming for him, slow and inevitable. Like dusk, he could see it coming, but didn't know exactly what shape it would take.

He strode back to the compartment against the crowd to grab his trunk, and to his surprise found that Daphne and Blaise were waiting there for him with it. Pansy had long since fled, and Crabbe and Goyle seemed to have left without him, too. He found that odd. Crabbe and Goyle were essentially incapable of free thought. He told them what to do, and if he didn't, they'd stand there waiting for him to. But they weren't around.

He glanced again at his present company. Blaise, tall and gangly, overdressed even in the June heat. Daphne, though, was a different story. She had creamy skin with hair the colour of walnut, nothing like Pansy's pasty skin and brutish main. And she wasn't short of assets either. Draco noted all of the details in a once-over. He was surprised that he'd never really noticed her before, but she was standing here with his trunk. She practically demanded his attention, something she'd never done before. Draco didn't have enough to spare.

He stepped forward to collect his trunk and she flashed him a smile. It was tight, he noticed. Like she didn't want to come off as too interested. Curious. Draco decided to mess with her a bit and winked before grabbing his trunk. "See you," he drawled over his shoulder. Blaise nodded while Daphne just stood there, smiling. Draco shook his head and strode off the train, into the glare of the sunlight.

He got lost in the crowd easily. He saw a few people he knew along the way, and nodded accordingly. Appearances were so important as a Slytherin. At last he spotted Narcissa, standing on her own, dressed from head to toe in black, complete with a veil that partially obscured her face. Draco scowled and quickened his pace.

What the hell was she doing? He thought. People were staring. And that veil. She looked she'd just apparated out of a funeral. She was going to be more difficult than he had first thought, that much was clear.

He walked up to her and then threw his arms around her, pretending to embrace her as though they were a tight-knit family going through a tough time together. That should stop them staring.

"What the bloody hell are you dressed up as?" he hissed in her ear.

"Attire for a funeral," she murmured, not letting her grip slacken around him.

"No one's died," he shot back.

"Not yet. It's a matter of time, Draco. One must prepare."

Draco's mind reeled. His arms fell to his sides. "If that was His wish, he'd already be dead."

"No, Draco. He wants to watch us suffer. No more."

Draco shook his head. She was being paranoid. The Dark Lord wouldn't kill one of his most useful and faithful servants… Would he? How much longer would Lucius be relevant? The Dark Lord was bound to seize the Ministry, at which point Lucius' role as a double agent would be worthless.

He tried to assure himself that his father would at least be safe in Azkaban. If one could consider the wizarding prison to be "safe". But comparatively, yes, it was a safe place to be. And that was assuming that he wouldn't come for his family… Which he would. No one was safe from the wrath of Lord Voldemort. Draco shuddered and pushed the thoughts from his mind. He'd worry about it later. When the time came.

He hooked his arm under his mothers and they prepared to disapparate. Apparition had always been a sore spot for Draco. He hated having to rely on someone else, especially an adult, just to get around. He was 16 years old, for Merlin's sake. He didn't need his mother escorting him around. It was frankly degrading. Accordingly, Draco tended to stick to Floo powder as much as possible. But that would be much more difficult now. The Ministry controlled the Floo Network, and with his father in Azkaban, it would be much more difficult to use it as he had.

Before he could contemplate the problem any further, he felt the nauseating pulling sensation that came with Apparition. And then, the compression that came next. It was like being squeezed into a tube that was much too small and forcing through anyway. He straightened. Not the most pleasant experience, he thought, but it gets the job done.

He was standing in the main foyer at Malfoy Manor. He glanced around. Afternoon sunlight filtered through large windows, and rippled on the floor, like golden waves on an ocean below him. The whole house felt warm. Pleasant. But also empty.

That was the most striking thing about it, he thought. The cold silence seemed to nullify the warmth of the sun. Ironically, the place seemed oddly lifeless before him now. Draco shrugged off his mental wanderings. This was how things were going to be now, and he'd have to make it work.

But there was one thing he had to know. Turning back to his mother, he said softly, "When's he coming home?"

Narcissa melted before her son. "Draco, he's not."

"Rubbish he's not. Doesn't he even get a fair trial in this country?"

"Yes, it's coming up in a few weeks, but we have no-"

"Find a fucking lawyer," he growled. His mother looked up, startled. Her son had never been this direct with her before. He carried on grimly, "Find the best fucking lawyer money can buy and we'll make this an unfair trial. Laws have never stopped us before, mother, we're Malfoys."

He strode out of the foyer and up the stairs. Narcissa could only watch. Her son had disappeared, had been replaced with a ruthless man, right before her eyes. And there was nothing she could do. She stood in the hall, veil still partially draped over her face. Tears rolled down her cheeks.

This was the beginning of the end.

A/N: So THAT is Chapter 1. What do you think? Please leave me a review and let me know! I'm aware that I just retconned the end of Order of the Phoenix, by the way. I know. It was necessary. Look for Chapter 2 soonish!