Disclaimer: Not mine.
Written for Hogwarts Online Forum
"Draco Malfoy," he said through clenched teeth, feeling like a bloody fool, having to stand in front of everyone, identifying himself, as if the bloody tossers didn't know who he was.
Grabbing his pass from the clerk's hand, he shoved the wizard behind him forcibly out of his way as he strode out of the small wooden building and onto the loading dock. His nose wrinkled at the stench of seawater mixed with the flotsam, pushed to shore during the last storm. Curling his lip in distaste, he shoved his hands in his pockets and stood with his back to the small crowd of visitors that would be joining him on the trip to Azkaban.
This was his first trip. One he had thought he had prepared for, thought he knew what to expect and how to act. The first sight of a small family huddled together, counting out Galleons and Knuts, deciding between them who would make the crossing this time, had left him uncomfortable and ill at ease. He had watched the old woman sit back in her chair and nod, agreeing that this time his son should go, while a middle- aged witch ran off in tears.
Twenty Galleons was not a lot. Not even the cost of a good suit, or a pair of passable shoes. Not nearly enough to bemoan the loss of, or to openly covet. Not nearly enough to make a public display of grief and longing over. He leaned over the edge of the wooden dock and spat into the water before he cast a glance back over his shoulder.
The damned ferry was late. Twenty minutes late. He wondered if his sixty minutes of visiting time still stood or if the waves of the North Sea would take them away by delaying his arrival as he hoped it would. He thought of the son and the tearful witch and wondered briefly if they felt the same.
On the horizon a tug, belching oily black smoke, slowly make its way towards him. Sticking a cigarette between his lips, he cupped his hands around his lighter, dragging in a deep breath, letting the smoke fill his lungs and waiting for the initial rush of calm he so desired. He told himself he had nothing better to do; he may as well be here as any other place on a late Thursday morning. He thought of his mother's funeral, and flicked the cigarette into the sea, watching as it arched over the ripples and hissed before sinking under the grey.
He had used words like never, and when hell freezes over, once going as far as telling her to fuck off in response to her repeated pleas that he visit his father and make his peace before it was too late. Too late, he thought with disgust. It had been too late for Lucius Malfoy before his son had been born. Too late to be a father, too late to do more than pretend he was a husband, and much too late to pretend now.
He heard the slam of the wooden gangplank on the dock and the sound of footfalls as the morning's first visitors returned to shore. Waiting to board the antiquated tug, he watched the former visitors walk by those newly arrived.. They avoided each other's eyes as they hurried inside, where the slump of their shoulders and their vacant expressions were easier to hide. Inside they could queue up in front of the Floo, staring at the back of the person in front of them, and if they were really too proud, could keep their backs to the room as they threw down the powder, calling out their destination to the back of the fireplace, not the curious ears of the crowd.
Draco pushed his hair over his ear and strode on to the tug's flat holding area, walking directly to the rear and again turning his back to the other passengers that came behind him. It was not that he was ashamed to be seen here, not here where everyone had a family member, a friend, a loved one in the cold stone tower. In fact, if he were ever pressed to recall the one time he had been truly ashamed by his father's actions he would have looked confused, and been unable to answer truthfully. Draco Malfoy had never been ashamed of his father, for he could only feel shame for himself or others that he cared for.
The tug began to pull away from the dock, the floor beneath his feet lurching as the port side struck the pilings before pulling into the choppy sea. Draco looked to the horizon again, seeing the sky greyer than it had been, darker, clouds building in great swells, as if the sea itself was running up to the sky in great, angry waves.
"Cuppa?" a young purser asked crisply.
Draco nodded, took one of the paper cups and snapped off the lid. "Thank you."
"I'll be 'ere on the return," she smiled.
"Tell me, the brochure said the trip takes about an hour. I am concerned that the weather will…"
"Acch, no…," she said, her voice the heavy accent of the northern islands. "That ain't big a-nuf to toss us back. We be on time, course we be late a-ready."
He nodded at her, surprised that she did not drop her eyes and try to avoid his open look, more surprised that it seemed she wanted to put him at ease. "I only ask as I have a previous engagement this evening."
"She be at our backs on the return." She pointed to the storm clouds that seemed twice what they had been. "Don't you go a-worrying, Mr. Malfoy, we be close to time."
"I...I am sorry," he stammered, unsure of how to respond, as he had only a moment before assumed she did not know who he was.
"Oh, just call out for the purser. We don't toss out names 'ere."
"Thank you…purser," he said.
"Saw 'bout your mum in the Prophet," she said, dropping her voice and looking over her shoulder as if afraid to say too much. "There's those thinks she should 'ave been wit' your dad, to be sure. Me cousin, Stanley Shunpike he is, 'e says different, 'e says was your Mum that spoke for 'im, 'er 'earing your dad put the spell on 'im and all."
"Thank you, Miss…Purser," he said softly. "It would have pleased her to know that."
"Sent 'er a card, I did." She smiled and took his empty cup, returning it upside down on the tray. "Lady, that's what your mum was, real lady she was. Remembered me at the hols. Got a card and Stan, 'e got a card, 'ad twenty Galleon in it, it did."
He watched her walk away, passing out cups of tea, occasionally stopping to talk as she did. His eyes washed over the crowd, looking for the son that had used the family's last bit of money to visit someone they obviously cared for. Unable to see him, Draco turned back to watch the sea, thinking again of twenty Galleons and of what it could buy.
The deck became quiet as the passengers turned one by one and looked to the north. He followed their eyes and saw the black towers of Azkaban suddenly looming over them, as if thrust up from the bottom of the ocean floor. He lifted his head and rolled his shoulders, feeling the day's tension in his neck and back. Pulling his loose fitting jacket straight and smoothing his sleeves, he strode to the gangplank and the waiting guards.
After checking his wand and stating his name, he, unlike the others, was pulled aside and ushered into a private room.
"Listen here, Malfoy, you are only here because the warden says we can't legally keep you out. If there is any trouble, you will answer to me. Got it?"
"I do not enjoy being here any more than you enjoy seeing me," Draco said coldly. "I do, however, have one request."
"Request? You are in no position to …"
"Mr. Johnson, please, hear me out." Draco waited for the guard's slight nod before continuing. "I have been led to believe my father has not been out of his cell since his incarceration."
"True, since you are his first visitor and we do not run a health spa."
"I would hate to break his record. I feel it appropriate to visit his cell."
The guard's lip curled up as he folded his arms and shook his head. "I may have misjudged you, Mr. Malfoy."
"It would not be the first time, nor, I am afraid, shall it be the last that I am judged by my father's actions."
"And some of your own, if memory serves. Come with me, he's up on the eighth level."
Draco kept his eyes on the guard's back, ignoring the crude comments and sexual caterwauling, lifting his chin and setting his jaw as he walked the long hallway at the top of the staircase. Johnson stepped aside and pointed to the last cell, then stepped back and leaned against the wall.
"Draco!" Lucius called as he hurried to the bars and grasped them in both hands. "Draco…I…you look good. My gods, it's good to see you."
"Mother…" Draco started.
"Narcissa? She came? She came at last? Every day I write her, you don't know how…"
"She's dead," Draco said coldly, fingering her wedding ring in his pocket.
He watched his father's reaction – the further slumping of the shoulders, the lowered head, the open mouth and silent sobs. With a slight smile on his face, he pulled the wedding band from his pocket and tossed it on the cell floor.
"She asked me to bring this to you a few years ago. Her lover objected to her wearing it."
Lucius snapped his head up and locked his eyes on those of his son. "You son of a bitch," he seethed.
"No, of a cur perhaps, of a rich woman assuredly, but a bitch? I think not."
"When I get out of here I will…"
"You? You will do nothing, old man," Draco spat. "You are used up, done, powerless."
"I have my fortune," he whispered between the bars, leering at Draco. "We'll see how powerless and used up I am when I get the fuck out of here."
"Yes, your fortune." Draco smirked and suddenly thought of the small family that had sat huddled together, and Shunpike's pride. Digging in his pocket, he pulled out a twenty Galleon coin and tossed it to the floor as he had the ring.
"Spend it wisely. It is amazing what twenty Galleons can buy." He turned on his heel, the guard following behind him, listening to the thunderous rage of the thing he had once called father.
The ride back to land seemed shorter, the sky lighter, the water not as rough. He looked for the purser, and not finding her, resigned himself to standing alone, watching as the landing dock came closer, until the unruly boat was at last tied and the gang plank lowered. Hearing his name called as he stepped onto the dock, he saw Astoria.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, taking her by the arm and pulling her out of the way.
"I…I was worried for you. When you left this morning you…you seemed…upset." She studied his face and brought her hand up to cup his cheek. "How was it?"
"You're lying. I can tell, you know." She moved her hand and put a finger on his forehead. "You have a vein that gets all red when you are upset."
He grabbed her by her upper arms and roughly pulled her to his mouth, kissing her soundly before pushing her back.
"How does it look now?"
"Better," she grinned.
"And how is my son?" He raised his eyebrow and smirked at her.
"How…who told you? I wanted it to be a surprise."
"Then you should not have had the Baby Emporium send bills for blue curtains."
"That's why you went to see him?"
He leaned down and kissed her gently, laying his hand on her stomach, not knowing how to say he had buried his father years ago and what he had done today was to bury his fears, but knowing she understood all the same.
"You are not your father," she said softly as their lips parted. "And I am not your mother."
"Meaning if you ever start to act like him, I won't put up with it like she did. So stop worrying about being like him and start worrying about something important."
He looked down to where his hand imagining her already large with child. "I don't know how to do this."
"Nor do I," she sighed, putting her hand over his. "We'll learn together."