AN: Hi guys, it's me again. I know it's been ages, but I was just looking through my old stories and realised there's actually some updates that I haven't posted, so I thought, why not? Personally I dislike this chapter - I can't help but feel it's disjointed, like bones and fats without the muscle. I'll do some re-touching on this later on.
Anyway, I'm really, really embarrassed to say this but as Ms-Evie pointed out, the song lyrics of last chapter were not of Starry-Eyed by Ellie Goulding - it's Your Song by Kate Walsh. I got the titles wrong by mistake because Starry Eyed was supposed to be the song but I changed it at the last minute. Anyway, this is the filler chapter before all the shit goes down (I'm already preparing for the hate for what I'm going to do next chapter). Consider it a brief lightheartedness before the depressing stuff comes in.
Post-Hogwarts (The Next Two Years), Pt II.
We were inches away
More like miles apart
And all the unspoken to wall up our hearts
An infinite distance, a line in the ground
Did we travel this far just to turn back around?
One Afternoon (We Mapped The World) - Joy Williams
It's one of those days where Blair just feels like the whole world is against her. Well, she should have figured the world might've taken it rather personally when Blair decided to take it on, but still…this was just cruel. All she wanted to do was lock the door to her office, pour herself a glass of Chantebelle elf-brewed wine imported from villas in France, think about the thing – the person she'd lost two years ago, go out and be a huge bitch to everybody, and then cry about it with Serena over drinks later.
It'd become a sort of ritual, really.
If there was one thing that Blair was not expecting to hear about on this day, it was that the one and only Draco Malfoy, the subject of her unexplainable bitchy behavior, would show up on her own marble doorstep asking for her help.
Not that she missed him. Definitely not.
How could she even miss him when he'd made sure never to miss her?
She didn't need to read the Daily Planet's Page Six to find out how many heiresses he'd slept with after their breakup, or how he had a torrid affair with one of the Warbling Sisters' cousin's best friend's daughter or something like that. She especially didn't need to see his name blaring across the tabloids reporting how he had two-timed an International Quidditch player's wife with an opposing Quidditch team player's daughter. Malfoy was a manwhore. A manwhore with probably a few Muggle STDs (apparently, the pureblood that he was didn't discriminate when it came to one-nighters) and who thought a broomstick was a decent fashion accessory.
And she certainly didn't need the incessant heat in her pocket every time Gossip Girl had a new blast on Malfoy (she seemed to be more interested in him than Harry now), always catching wind of the affairs long before the tabloids caught on. And Blair had never before so bitterly regretted giving the coin to Lucius Malfoy – who was more than probably acutely aware of what a man-slut his son was. Or had Lucius Malfoy just congratulated his son on his exploits and his "moving on" from their relationship?
And Blair had finally given in and given up on Draco Malfoy (the teeny, weensy bit of her that had wanted Draco to fight for her) and tossed her obscenely pink coin in the trash. There had been only so many phrasings and puns on D's got himself a brand new squeeze she could take, and Blair liked to think she deserved a little bit more.
Even if Draco Malfoy had been her whole world.
And so, while Draco Malfoy marked another notch on his bedpost, Blair was marking another notch into the wood of the ladder that would take her straight up the corporate ladder.
It was only two years and her influence and breeding already had gotten her a position, and it wasn't long before her intelligence and persuasion (other people might call manipulation, but Blair begs to differ) pulled her up even more.
An up-and-rising lawyer at the Baizen & Rose Firm, Blair's already made associate and she's pretty sure that in a couple of years she'd make partner.
She hasn't sworn off dating (whoever would remind her to feed her owl and carry all her shopping bags otherwise?) and she's definitely not going to be an old maid. She's already dated Chuck Bass (pretty good while it lasted; before all the passion sizzled out) and she's trying hard as hell to stay out of Carter Baizen's way. He would help her immensely as a boyfriend, but she doesn't need him when it's over and him as an ex-boyfriend screwing up her career just because his grandfather (or great-great grandfather, whichever) owns the damn firm.
Blair's got her goal in mind, and the whole world be damned as long as she got it in the end.
Blair sighs. She's tempted to send some halfwit lawyer to meet Malfoy in her place, but she knows Malfoy will just come back over and over again and use his name to scare all other lawyers away until he gets to consult her. Because try as she might, Blair had the Malfoy motto deeply ingrained in her heart – always, always get the best and never settle for second.
It was eerily similar to the Waldorf's.
Sighing, Blair taps her wand, checking the time as red sparks fly across the air.
Just enough time for her to grab a drink and a new set of clothes (she couldn't meet clients as Pureblood-oriented and influential as the Malfoys in Muggle attire, could she?) And for such a high-profile case as this, it would be good to do a quick background research. Just in case.
Against her will, a tiny, niggling thought blossoms in her mind: is she getting dressed up, just because of the attendance of a certain Draco Malfoy? After all, it would be the first time seeing him in person after two years….
Blair stands abruptly, grabs her coat and wand and makes for the door, shaking her head to banish the thought away.
What an utterly ridiculous thought.
Strangely enough, Lucius Malfoy's appearance was the first thing she'd noticed when she'd swept into the room. It was like that of the first time she'd been introduced to him in the Malfoy Manor – his skin was sallow and drawn, as though he had not been sleeping well. To further emphasize this point, his eyebags were prominent and the lustrous, golden hair he'd boasted of was now lank.
To think Azkaban could do this to the handsome man in just a week.
His wife was beside him. Although she was still beautiful, her narrower face suggested some weight loss and she was no longer glowingas she so often did, as she held her husband's hand and whispered soothingly to him.
"Mr and Mrs Malfoy, it's a pleasure to see you again." Blair murmurs, trying to keep a composed front as she strode into the room, trying to shake off the horrible gauntness Lucius Malfoy , the man she'd privately thought of as a second – well third including Roman– father to her. She turned around, meeting the cool grey eyes of the person slouched against the wall, the eyes of the person who'd plagued her dreams every so often.
He returns the distant, cold greeting with a curt nod.
Blair turns to the elder Malfoys, who were watching the interaction between her and their son with surprise, wariness and disappointment. It was clear that they had not known that they had parted on less than amicable terms.
"Haven't I told you to call me Narcissa, dear?" Narcissa smiles. "The years have been good to you. You look more beautiful than ever."
Blair laughs, although some part inside her preens in acknowledgement. Blair was not so ignorant and oblivious to how physically attractive she had become – even Eleanor had admitted Blair was now just as beautiful as Serena (although Blair had stopped caring about what her mother thought about her a long time ago, the triumph was still felt).
"It's just been two, Narcissa. You make me sound so old."
Lucius leans forward. Despite his appearance, his tone was kept decidedly neutral – a clear sign that despite his wasting physical appearance, the elder Malfoy was still as observant and shrewdly intelligent as ever. "I hear you've kept yourself rather busy these two years, Blair. Making associate in just a few months – that's a big achievement for somebody of your age, indeed."
"Thank you, Mr Malfoy. I do try." Blair purrs, flicking her eyes significantly to the bored figure against the wall. It was no secret that the eyes read, up yours, Malfoy (not that Blair would ever use language like that).
"You've been more productive than my lazy son over there," Lucius continues, his lips set in a sneer and eyes disapproving as he glances at Draco leaning against the wall in a faux casual position that does not quite bely the tension apparent in his body. "His greatest achievement in the two years, I'm ashamed to say, was dating that famous Veela singer for a record of four months -"
"Father," Draco snaps, as he abruptly flexes his muscles and pushes away from the wall in a flurry of expensive dress robes. "It was for five months. And however nice it is to see you being so cuddly with our legal representative in court, we're getting off topic."
Immediately the faux-jovial atmosphere is gone. Narcissa sighs, and seems to deflate before Blair's very eyes and she buries her head in her hands, her golden curls that seemed to sparkle as stubbornly as Serena's spilling onto her bone-white hands. Lucius glares harshly at his son. "Play nicely, Draco." There's a hint of unspoken threat in his voice before he turns to Blair.
"Forgive my son his lack of manners. I fear I was too lax on him as a child - something that I very much regret to this day. However, it cannot be disagreed that he speaks the truth. My family has found itself in rather ... dire circumstances at the moment. A simple misunderstanding, you understand. However, the damage cannot be undone – and I find myself inextricably at a crossroads not of my own choosing. One path, you understand, leads to Azkaban. And I would rather not go down that route at the moment."
Blair places the papers on the desk, meeting his gaze. "I'll do what I can, Mr Malfoy-"
"Trying isn't enough," Draco interrupts, slamming his hand to stop her flipping through the papers. His face is set in cold stone. "This is my father's future we're talking about. I'm not having him rot in Azkaban because you didn't try hard enough."
Blair hardens her tone to match his. "This situation is delicate, Mr Malfoy," she hisses through clenched teeth.
Professional, Waldorf. Be nothing but professional. You haven't worked this hard for two years to throw it away for a pair of pretty eyes and a smirk.
"This isn't a simple case of pointing the blame at somebody else and making them take the fall. This isn't the simple case of swaying people and shredding the defense into pieces. This is a high-profile Death Eater case. Everybody is watching this - from the poorest Muggle-born to the entire the Ministry of Magic. It won't just be trying to get your father acquitted. If your father gets off too easily, there will be an outrage in the community, and he's likely to be re-trialed. This is the case of getting everybody to believe that Mr Malfoy is being punished, while in actuality we will be the ones who have won the hand."
Lucius Malfoy's calculating gaze is set on her, skepticism apparent. Narcissa is staring, slightly open-mouthed, in wonder and perhaps despairing as well at the magnitude of the situation.
Draco's gaze is unflinching. "How do you propose that?"
Blair stands up and yanks the papers underneath his hand free, glaring at him pointedly. "I'll go through the papers again today, confer and pull some strings with some people I know to get this case started. Meanwhile-" she turns to Lucius Malfoy, "I need to know everything I can about this case."
Lucius stares at her, and nods slowly. "I'm afraid it's rather long."
Blair smiles, a well-practiced smile often flashed in the Upper East Side. It was calculating, predatory, and purred tell me more.
"You'd best take a seat, Mr Malfoy." She Conjures a plush chair (bearing the crest of WaldorF) wordlessly.
"We have all day."
"Remind me again. Why are we here in the slump of a house?" Draco sneers. His pressed robes stand out among the background of old trees and muddy roads. The tailoring is so exquisite, there's even a certain angle the robes swish at.
Blair sneers back at him. "Because here's where we begin building our case. And remind me again. Why are you here following me?"
He scoffs. "I'm paying you big money to get this job done, woman. I'm here to see it done quickly and professionally."
Blair rolls her eyes and pivots around her heel, rapping on the shabby door as smartly and primly as she could. "Woman. How blasé can you get?" she mutters under her breath back at him.
Draco snorted. "What would you prefer me to call you, then? Ice Princess? She-Bitch?"
"I've a name. Try using it, Malfoy." Blair snarks.
He can't resist another jibe. "Your given name isn't much better – you do know that it's Gaelic for an 'open plain or field'? I mean, why choose something that makes you sound like a patch of grass?"
He's quite certain that in another time and place, if he was somebody else and she was somebody else, she just might have pointed a certain finger at him. As it were, her anger was almost Fiendfyre-like even in its intangibility. "Be thankful your name is that uncommon that I can't manage to make it sound even stupider than it already is. Draco. Please. A dragon you do not make."
Draco matches her sneer with one of his own. "Oh, there's a part of me that's dragon all right-"
He is interrupted by the opening of the door, with an elderly lady poking her head through the gap and blinking blearily at them. "Can I help you, m'dears?"
Blair smiles angelically and passes the woman her business card, where a equally glamorous Blair Waldorf strikes pose after pose in office wear, with the words Baizen & Rose stenciled neatly on the front.
"Cecilia Clearwater? I'm Blair Waldorf, Lucius Malfoy's legal acting representative," Blair watches worry and surprise and suspicion flit across the woman's face. "Believe me, I understand what you might be thinking right now, but I'd like to ask you a few questions if you're able to spare the time. I think it would really help the case."
The lady stares at Draco, and the brief warmth turns into suspicion again. "And who's that?"
I almost had her. Bloody Malfoy has to ruin everything.
"Draco Malfoy, at your service ma'am," surprisingly, Draco doesn't miss a beat, turning on the charm and stepping forward with a disconcertingly earnest expression. "The truth is, I'm here on my father's behalf. I believe the trial will be just as farce as everybody knows it to be, ma'am, and I'd like to save my father if I can. No man, regardless of past deeds, should be held accountable for things that he didn't do."
Blair tries not to show any surprise, but inwardly she is pleased that Draco has read the Clearwater file – her son Henry too, was tried and sent to Azkaban for a few months due to illegal wand possession, something that had caused an intense debate in The Daily Prophet forum pages on the legality of possessing illegal wands during times of war.
Still, Cecilia Clearwater hesitates a little. "Well, m'dearies, I'm not too sure what I can help you with. I don't know if this is being too forthright, but they say the Malfoy's case is a gone case, if you know what I mean – no offense." She adds hastily and completely misses the slight clenching of Draco's jaw.
Not that Blair was looking, of course.
"Still, Mrs. Clearwater," Blair implores her, with the best smile-that-gets-her-her-way smile. "Please, won't you give us some of your time? We believe we could work things out."
"Please. My family-" Draco's voice cracks a little, just enough to make him sound broken and lost, yet strong enough to carry the urgency and sincerity such that Cecilia Clearwater jerks her head up and stares at him for a while.
Blair is infinitely glad that Henry Clearwater, too, had blond hair.
"Come on in, m'dears."
Blair exits with her brown curls tumbling down her back and a triumphant smirk on her face. It hadn't even taken more than a week of appointments with Cecilia Clearwater to put together a suitably strong case for Lucius Malfoy. Behind her, Draco steps out of the doorway, and follows silently as she strides away from the house, disgust occasionally wrinkling his face as he walks with her to the Apparition zone.
They walk in silence. This brief partnership has Blair in a particularly reminiscent mood, forcibly reminding her that she had Draco had schemed together, for a brief period of time just a few years before. Apparently they were still good partners-in-crime as ever. Draco too, seems lost in thought - he wasn't his usual chatty self. Their eyes flicker up and meet briefly, before sliding away.
It only takes a few moments before Blair speaks. The curiosity in her cannot be suppressed, and she's been holding it in for a while now.
"Tell me the truth, Malfoy. I know you could have chosen any other lawyer – I know for a fact that a few top-notch lawyers have been eyeing this case for a while now. Thomas Baines at Zabini & Zafrilegias, Adrian Smith at Black & Partner. I'm only associate, and I've been a lawyer for only two years. Why did you pick me?"
There a silence as the words hang in the air and he stares at her. It's so reminiscent of the way he used to look at her before things fell apart, before he slowly nods and looks away.
She's about to leave when he abruptly speaks.
"When I first saw you, you were just a first-year and I knew you were the Waldorf heir only because my father was acquainted with Eleanor and he wanted me to keep an eye out. You were being sorted, and when I looked at you I remember thinking how you didn't walk like you were a first year; you walked like you were about to ascend a throne. It was a stupid thought and I didn't think much about you after that. Then I started hearing about how Slytherin girls were starting to wear pink accessories instead of the standard silver and green. I remember hearing about how Amber Michells had to transfer out in tears and no one knew why – or if they did, they didn't talk about it. I remember thinking that whatever it was, it had to do with you. Then I saw you, really saw you for the first time when you were talking to your blond friend. I saw for the first time how you controlled everybody around you and I thought you reminded me of someone."
"Because, Blair when you set your mind to it…you're unstoppable. You're unshakeable. You pick up something, and you get hooked, and then you never let go. You give it your best. And this was my father we were talking about. If I had to choose any lawyer with the intelligence, the resources, the tenacity to get him out, no matter the cost, I'd pick you over any other Thomas Baines or Adrian Smith any day."
Blair sneers, but the cold expression is just a mask to dampen the warm glow that's spreading in her. "Pretty words, Malfoy. Have you forgotten the parts where you insinuated I was incompetent and insisted on following me around?"
It's a while before he answers, his face carefully blank. "Maybe it's because I missed having you around."
Blair's left speechless; she's not sure if she heard it right. A part of her wants him to repeat it, but she'd be awfully embarrassed if she'd misheard him. She wants to say something – anything – clever or witty enough that's appropriate for this situation, but for once her tongue is numb and her brain so frozen that she ends up stuttering like one of Chuck's ditzy girlfriends after three martinis and a moderately intelligent book.
And the moment was gone.
"I'll see you around. Waldorf." He nods briefly at her and she understands, maybe after the years of loving and kissing and hating and fighting each other they've managed a tentative truce.
"Malfoy." She coolly returns.
But he doesn't make a move to leave, and she doesn't either. She's just saved his father from a certain death and she feels that if anything, it's him who owes her. Their gazes stay locked, frozen in place with the icy cold of unfamiliarity threaded with strands of longing. (Even after they're over, they still can't stop the games.)
But in that moment, Blair isn't quite sure if she wants to win the game after all. Her mouth opens, her lips move, shaping words that somehow refuse to be spoken. She's not sure how to string her sentence - whowasthatwoman doyoulikeherdoyouloveher doyouloveme - so she just stands still and wait for him to speak.
The steely grey eyes soften for a moment, and his lips too, part like he's about to say something. They stand there, mirroring each other. As if a habit, Blair leans slightly forward to catch the whispered words. "Blair… I l-"
But the sentence trails off into the frozen air, ending just as abruptly as it began. Draco pulls back, rubbing his left arm with irritation now. He doesn't speak for a while, but stares at his arm as though in contemplation before he stands up.
"I've got to go. I'll be seeing you, Waldorf."
"Draco-" The words leap to Blair's mouth. There's this sudden aching, longing inside her to be so close to Draco and not touch him. We should have coffee together one day. I miss you, too.
But there's a sharp crack, he's gone and the words ring empty in the frigid air.
Blair stares, feeling oddly disappointed, before she turns and heads back into the office for the celebratory party, fixing on a perfect smile (that she learnt to do before she was three) and pushes him out of her mind, fixating on the glory she's about to receive.
She's been without him for two years, what difference can a couple of years make?
Lucius gets off with six months in Azkaban and life-long house confinement.
At the celebratory dinner, there's dancing. Blair sips her Elvish Cocello over the flute of her wineglass as she watches Serena, giggling, be dipped low by a dark-haired man with a sensuous mouth and large hands. Even after all these years and four husbands, Serena is still the bubbly life of the party. Chuck's either skulking around trying to pick up younger girls or trying to seal a deal with Lucius Malfoy regarding the trade of dragonskins in Britain. Nate's absent with apologies (he's at St Mungo's with his wife in labor again) and she finds there's nobody decent enough to talk to.
Seven men have come to her to ask for a dance. She declines them all.
Blair takes another sip and tells herself she's not looking for him, she's not waiting for him.
When he appears suddenly from the fireplace and collapses, smelling of smoke, soot, and bleeding from various cuts (to the horror of the guests), she tells herself she doesn't care. Lucius has gone white, his cane tapping out a whole new rhythm, and Narcissa has excused herself to help Draco to his room. The mood of the party has fallen so far only the bright giggles of Serena, still lost in her own world, float around in the silence.
Her hands itch. She feels like doing something, needs to do something. But not to seek him out.
Definitely not to seek him out.
She tells herself it's because she's just thrown up that her hands are trembling again.
A/N Definitely not my best chapter. But somehow this chapter was the hardest to write, so review please? :)