Similarities and Differences
Voldemort was dead. The war was finally over. All were rejoicing except maybe for the Malfoys. Lucius was in Azkabakan and the association of the Malfoys with the Dark Lord has ostracized them from society. There was only one way left to salvage the Malfoy family name. "You want me to marry a mudblood?"
Narcissa shifted in her seat uncomfortably. She smoothed a nonexistent crease on her white cocktail dress before giving her son a meaningful glance. Sensing his mother's anxiety, Draco reassured her with a polite nod before gently squeezing her hand in his. After fixing the green tie of his black suit, Draco cleared his throat to signal the start of the conversation. He shifted his attention to their guest, his family's financial advisor, and couldn't help but roll his eyes at the sight.
He was sitting comfortably in a chair opposite the sofa Draco and Narcissa sat on. He was carefully taking out some papers from his golden attaché case and setting them neatly on the glass table. Draco couldn't help but notice he was having a hard time bending over due to the unbelievable size of his abdomen. His tailored brown business suit looked like it would be ripped apart if any sudden movements were made. He had a slightly strained expression on his face and also seemed to be catching his breath.
Draco gave the man a bored look. He wouldn't be surprised if he suddenly doubled over and died due to heart failure. Honestly. How long was it going to take him to stack a few papers on the table?
Letting out an impatient breath, he looked the man up and down. He hasn't changed a bit. He was still the same bald, short, fat and unbelievably pale man he'd known since he was old enough to know what money was. And frankly, if he wasn't mistaken, he knew the significance of money long before he even knew his given name. Ok. That was an exaggeration. But money was the next thing he knew after knowing his given name.
Clearing his throat once more, he watched as the corpulent adviser gave him a cheeky smile. "Patience, my boy. Why you haven't changed a bit! Still the cute, eager little rascal I used to bring home chocolate frogs to."
Draco's eye twitched. That was what he hated the most about the man. Since he's practically known Draco since birth, he always had an annoying habit to bring up his so called 'cherished moments' with him and would always address Draco as 'his little rascal'.
Draco resisted the urge to snort as he gave the man a disgusted look. Zachary Levinson. Member of the Levinson pureblood family. Their family had served as financial advisors of the Malfoys for centuries. And since the war was over and Voldemort had lost, the Malfoys, too, seemed at a loss. The fear of the future of the Malfoy fortune and status was great; thus, there was a need for the consultation of a financial advisor, ergo, Levinson.
Seeing Levinson set aside his attaché case, Narcissa and Draco both let out silent breaths of relief. "Shall we get started?" Narcissa asked while performing an elegant swing of her hand.
"Of course! Of course!" Levinson replied as he righted his posture on the couch, the warm but slightly goofy smile never left his face.
"So…" Malfoy began as he crossed his arms in front of his chest. "Just how bad is it?"
Levinson let out a hearty laugh much to the irritation of the Malfoy heir. "Why, my little rascal, are you always so cynical?"
Draco's eye twitched again before glaring death towards the unexplainably jovial man. Letting out a slow but angry breath, he began talking slowly but threateningly. "Call me that again you repulsively robust idiot, and I swear-"
"Draco!" Narcissa reprimanded. "That is not, in any way, how you should talk to your uncle!"
Draco snorted in disdain but no longer made any further remarks. So what if he were his uncle? Nobody had the right to use petty nicknames on him and get away with it.
"Oh it's alright Narcissa! The little rascal has always been that way. That's part of his charm!" Levinson let out another roaring laugh. His nephew was just as spoiled and disrespectful as always.
Not wanting to waste anymore time on pointless chatter, Malfoy slammed his fist on the table, causing the glass to form small cracks around his fist. "Enough." He whispered, glaring at Levinson the entire time.
Narcissa jumped at the sound of the crack and glanced worriedly at her son but said nothing. Levinson whistled a single note as he glanced at the once flawless glass table that now bore an ugly scar. "Tsk. What a waste of such a beautiful table. This would have cost-"
"I. Don't. Care. How much it costs." Draco spoke silently but menacingly. "Just tell us what the bloody hell you're supposed to, then leave." His patience was running out. All he wanted to know was just how much damage control he needed to do in order to salvage his family's honor, or rather, what was left of it.
"Now, now…" Levinson said exasperatedly as he raised his hands in defeat. "I just haven't seen you for years my little-" He cleared his throat. "Draco. Sorry if I came off as offending. I guess I just missed you. You know I think of you as if you were my own." He paused as he gave Draco a look the heir could not comprehend.
Draco opened his mouth but before he could reply, Levinson had already picked up a bundle of papers and began to stay true to the real reason for his visit. "All of your assets remain unhampered as for now." He began as he scanned through them. "The ministry has been discussing whether or not they would strip your family of all its assets – property, money, status. If they come to the decision to do so, then needless to say, everything would be lost." Levinson paused to give both Draco and Narcissa a sympathetic look. "But of course, they have no right to do that based solely on the sentence passed on Lucius. That would be unlawful. That would go against all of your basic rights." Levinson paused for a moment to emphasize his next point. "But, the ministry is very powerful."
"Surely we can pull a few strings, right?" Narcissa voiced out with uncertainty. "The status of our family name…" Narcissa ceased when she noticed Levinson shaking his head.
"Control in the ministry has shifted. Majority of the authority and power no longer belong to purebloods." He paused as he noticed an elf prepare a few snacks on the table. "Various magical creatures and muggleborns have already entered the committee. Your past influence can no longer be availed of nor made use of. In fact, I would even go as far as saying it is a liability."
Draco scoffed, not being able to understand the idiocy of Levinson's statement. "A liability?" He spat out with annoyance. "Being a Malfoy? A lability? Are you saying-"
"Yes." Levinson said out flatly. Seeing the Malfoy heir abruptly stand up from his seat, Levinson raised an arm to stop him. "Hear me out boy. You won't like it, but I suggest you hear me out before doing me any harm."
"Draco…" Naricissa pleaded as she stood up and placed a hand on her son's shoulder. "Please come down, darling."
Letting out a shaky breath, Malfoy sat back down but left a threat hanging. "If you ever, do you hear me? Ever. Dishonor our family like that again, I will have your head. You hear me?"
Ignoring the threat, Levinson picked up two bundles of papers leaving the Malfoy heir seething. Levinson then gave one to each of his advisees. "Do you recognize those family names?"
Narcissa and Draco perused the thick collection of various family names throughout the Wizarding world.
"Some I do recognize, Zachary, but some I do not." Narcissa stated with confusion. "What is this list for?"
Draco and Narcissa watched as Levinson poured himself some tea. They waited some more for the old man had began to prepare himself a drink, adding milk, sugar, cream and every other condiment he deemed appropriate.
"Is food really all you care about?" Draco tactlessly voiced out.
"Draco!" Narcissa reprimanded once more.
Levinson could only chuckle. "When one feels agitated or distraught, one would naturally seek things which would bring comfort. In my case, it is food."
Draco narrowed his eyes at the subtle but meaningful statement. "What are you troubled about?"
"Ah Draco, my little rascal, always so sharp." Levinson replied with his usual silly smile. Ignoring the death glare sent to him by his nephew, Levinson began to drink his tea as he made a move to grab a chocolate truffle. "Those family names you see. All of them. They are part of a newly formed organization that aims to do one thing and one thing only." He paused to gobble the delicious gooey snack.
"Are you going to tell us or are we going to have to wait until you finish the entire thing?" Draco glanced from Levinson to the plate filled with expensive sweets.
"Draco, please." Narcissa whispered exasperatedly.
"Like I said my boy, I'm agitated and distraught." Levinson swallowed yet another piece from the plate of sweets. "I'm merely seeking comfort." He smiled again.
"Sure." Draco indifferently stated.
"Well, no use stalling the inevitable." Levinson said more to himself than to both his advisees. He took a deep breath before suddenly looking very serious. It made Draco slightly want him to go back to the insufferable idiot he was. Note – slightly.
"All those families want one thing – a complete dissolution of the discrimination dividing the purebloods from those of the mud-" Levinson coughed, not wanting to use the derogatory term. "…Muggleborns. They seek equality for all. And not only among muggleborns and purebloods; but also among magical creatures as well. They call themselves…"
Draco blocked out the rest of what Levinson was saying. He felt like he just lost ten years of his life. What has the Wizarding world come to? An equality for all? Purebloods seeing mudbloods as equals? Not only that, wizards and witches being equal to other magical beings? That was unheard of! How could a wizard such as himself, with his status and power, see mudbloods, lowly house elves, dim-witted mermaids/mermen, hippogriffs and what not as equals?
"Draco? Draco, honey?" Narcissa stood up and placed a hand on her son's shoulder anxiously. "Draco, darling? Can you hear me?"
Draco snapped out of his stupor only to see his mother and uncle looking at him with much concern.
"Do you feel light-headed, darling? Do you want to rest?"
"Are you alright, my boy?"
Draco shook his head to snap himself out of his reverie. "I… I'm fine."
"Are you sure darling?" Narcissa's words were filled with worry.
"Yes mother. I'm fine." Draco stated as he pulled at his green tie and unbuttoned the first two buttons of his suit. "I apologize, I didn't catch the end of what you were saying."
"It's alright my boy. I could only imagine how shocking it must have been for you to hear the news." Levinson paused to give Draco an apologetic smile, which he returned with an apathetic look. Clearing his throat, Levinson began once again. "Like I was saying, a movement for equality of all creatures within the Wizarding world has been made by an organization called the Order of the Phoenix. They say it was built to honor the memory of the legendary wizard Dumbledore himself."
Draco was unable to hide his surprise at the organization's chosen name. It had always been Dumbledore's idea to make the Wizarding world a world of equality and peace. A world judged not by the dogmas placed onto society by past centuries of erroneous judgments that inevitably led to irreparable damage to the present and possibly maybe the future society as well, if it not be stopped.
Draco's train of thought was cut short when he heard what Levinson had to say next.
"Your family is in the top list of those under probation by the Order of the Phoenix. If they see that you do not adhere to the new laws mandated in the movement towards equality, the order has the power to strip you of whatever they deem necessary. As long as they can prove it to the ministry, which I am sure they have great influence in, you have no chance against them."
"But…" Narcissa began but the words never came. She was just as shocked as Draco.
Seeing Narcissa's loss for words, Levinson decided to do all the talking. "I know what you're thinking. Why only the Malfoys? Why not go after other pureblood families who have also served under the Dark Lord?" He paused to check if his assumption was right. He began once more when he realized it was what Narcissa had meant to ask. "Unfortunately, the Malfoys are the epitome of a pureblood family. Not only is your family the oldest, richest and most influential pureblood family but you are also the most famous. Wealth begets influence which begets popularity and the cycle begins all over again. The Order, and probably the Ministry as well, would most likely believe that the best way to purge the old dogma of pureblood superiority over everything else would be to make a public spectacle of how they could break or rather tame the most influential pureblood family – the Malfoys. Do you understand?"
Draco could not believe what he was hearing. He wanted to shout, break something, anything! Heck even beat up his house elves if that was what it would take to get some steam out. How could everything have gone so terribly wrong?
Levinson watched his troubled nephew as he drank what remained of his tea. He let out a sigh. "I know it'll be hard. No. It'll be very hard from now own. Especially with the number of support the Order gets from the Wizarding world. But…" Levinson paused. "I… I think there may be a way…"
Draco and Narcissa looked hopeful at the sudden mention of a possible way to escape their family's impending doom. But hope turned into skepticism at image of the suddenly uncertain man. Levinson seemed to be battling himself about whether or not he should say something.
Raising an eyebrow in suspicion, Draco folded his arms in front of his chest, ready to force his uncle to spit out whatever he was holding back. "Just say it." He stated impatiently.
"If there is a way to make things better…" Narcissa began. Her eyes were pleading. "You would tell us, wouldn't you?"
Levinson let out a strained sigh. "I'm not sure if this would work. I just thought it might be worth a try. Though I'm quite sure you won't approve of it. It's quite petty as well actually-"
"Stop. Rambling." Draco demanded in a quiet but frustrated tone. "Whatever it is just tell us and we'll be the one's who'll decide if it's worth a bloody rat's ass or not."
"Draco!" Narcissa shouted a bit louder this time. "Stop using such demeaning language!"
Draco grunted as he whispered a silent apology.
Seeing no other reason to be apprehensive of his poorly thought out plan, he decided to share it. "Since the Order sees your family as a number one threat to the achievement of their goals, it would be natural that most, if not all, eyes would be on you. So I began to think…" Levinson stood up and paced the room. "Why not find an ally which could help convince the Order that your family is the opposite of what they assume it to be?"
Narcissa narrowed her eyes. "I'm not sure I follow, Zachary."
"What I'm referring to is a public display of your family's support for the Order." Levinson answered.
Draco scoffed in disbelief. "Did you just hear what you actually said? Do you actually think people would believe that the Malfoys agree to the 'equality of all'?" He paused to glance at his mother, who in return avoided his gaze. "Are you actually saying we go out there and talk to the press about how we support all this shit? Attend stupid meetings about how house elves should be set free and how they should be seen as creatures with rights?" He paused a while to catch his breath. "Or worse! Actually lobby for the equality of purebloods and mudbloods? You're crazier than I thought!"
Draco stood up in anger and headed towards the large glass window at the other end of the room. He gazed at the beautiful grounds of the Malfoy manor as he took a few breaths to calm himself down. Feeling his disdain lessen ever so slightly, Draco turned around to face his uncle.
"It's dim-witted and you know it is." He paused to emphasize his point. "Even if we did, in actually, support this equality crap, which we obviously do not…" He paused again to emphasize his stand on the issue. "No one and I mean no one would ever believe it." Draco finished with a final tone.
Levinson looked at the disheveled and angry form of his nephew and let out a tired sigh. "I know."
Draco's anger spiked up even more. "Then why the hell are you suggesting it?"
"Draco, my boy. You didn't let me finish." Levinson replied as he made a clicking sound with his tongue. "I did say that your family should show a public display of support for the Order; but I didn't mean it in the way you thought it would be." Levinson paused once more. Mirth was evident in his eyes and he was restraining himself from laughing out loud. "I'm seriously offended that you would think I would have advised something that second rate."
"Go. On. Then." Malfoy gritted his teeth. "Bloody fucking asshole."
"What I was referring to is a more indirect, slightly inconspicuous, but greatly effective way of showing to the public the Malfoys are in favor of the Order's movement." Levinson finished. He seemed to look much more confident than before.
"And what may that be, Zachary?" Narcissa asked with both cynicism and hope in her voice.
"Participating in ridiculous gatherings by the Order, such as meetings regarding the rights of elves as Draco has stated…" Levinson paused to give Draco a teasing glance, which he returned with a look that could kill. "…Would be a move that is far too obvious and cheap. It basically tells the world that you are there to do one thing and one thing only – kiss ass." Levinson paused and grinned goofily once again.
Narcissa coughed at Levinson's choice of words but he simply chose to ignore her discomfort.
"And now, you might be thinking, what move would that be? What could possibly be the BEST option to take given this situation?" Levinson delayed his answer as he paced the room looking deep in thought.
"Just spit it out already!" Draco yelled exasperatedly.
Levinson grinned. He loved it when people couldn't stand the suspense he brought on them.
"Very well, my little rascal…"
Draco gritted his teeth at the return of his dreaded nickname.
"What I have in mind, is something that could make your lives better, more peaceful. But of course, it comes with a cost – a cost I'm not sure you're willing to make."
Levinson sat down and gestured towards Draco to do the same. Stomping his way back, Draco sat down forcefully and glared at his uncle. "If you don't say it now I swear to Merlin…"
"Before I tell you…" Levinson paused. Draco looked like he was out for murder but was ignored by the now slightly agitated man. "Answer this." He looked Draco and Narcissa each in the eyes. "Just what you are willing to gamble in order to get through this entire ordeal?"
Draco raised an eyebrow skeptically. "Be more specific."
Levinson sighed. His nephew was just too shrewd for his own good. "I meant to say, what are you willing to sacrifice in order to keep most of your wealth and status?
Draco narrowed his eyes. "Still too vague."
"Just answer it." Levinson demanded.
"It depends!" Draco answered defensively. "Sacrificing life would be out of the question. Just what part of our properties we're willing to lose would depend on what we gain. As for money, the answer is the same. Status would have to be left as untarnished as possible." Draco flailed his arms around as he emphasized each point. "Now stop with the pointless questions! What exactly is your plan? Or do you even have one to begin with?"
Levinson let out another sigh. "Those weren't pointless questions. I just wanted to know just how far you are willing to go." Glancing at Narcissa and Draco, he began unfolding his plan. "I think there is a way for you to retain all your wealth – property and fortune."
Narcissa clasped her hands in glee. "Oh is there really?"
Draco narrowed his eyes. "You said there was a price to pay. You're not being honest you corpulent fool."
"Draco!" Came Narcissa's warning tone for the umpteenth time.
"I am being honest my little rascal."
"Then what the hell are you saying-"
"I said... There is a way to retain all your wealth – property and fortune." Levinson gave Draco a meaningful look as if telling him to figure out the answers to the questions he wanted to ask.
Draco's eyes remained narrow as he glared at his uncle. After a few seconds, Levinson watched with satisfaction as his nephew's eyes showed realization.
"Status." Draco began. Levinson simply nodded.
"I believe I don't follow." Narcissa pointed out, slightly irritated.
"We get to keep our wealth. All of it. But our status would have to suffer." Draco stated in a low, slightly disbelieving tone.
"Correct again, my boy." Levinson nodded. "Now you want to ask what it is you have to do that would get you to keep your wealth but ruin your status?"
Draco didn't answer but his eyes never left his uncle.
"Think about it boy. What could you possibly do that is shrewdly subtle but would provide enough proof that you are, in a way, supporting the Order's ideals?"
Draco wracked his brain for an answer but he could not find any. Just as he was about to demand an answer, he saw his uncle fiddling with his own fingers. Taking a closer look, he saw that him caressing a ring on his finger.
"Do you know what this is boy?" Levinson asked. Happiness radiated around him as he showed his nephew his ring.
Draco narrowed his eyes and responded flatly. "A wedding ring."
"Correct again, my boy." Levinson replied as he gave the Malfoy heir another meaningful look.
"Marriage?" Draco replied flatly once more. He was so used to being coaxed into marriage by so many people that he was just tired of it. "What the hell has marriage got to do with any of this?" He paused to run his hands through his hair. "What? You want me to find another influential pureblood family and join forces with them to oppose the Order?"
"No. No. No, my boy. Haven't you listened to a word I said? You have to show that you support the Order in a subtle way. Marrying another influential pureblood would only pull you further into hell." Levinson stated as he made clicking sounds with his tongue.
"I already am in hell, seeing as you're here."
Narcissa let out a sigh. She was too tired of reprimanding the stubborn Malfoy heir.
Levinson laughed out loud at his nephew's words. For a 20-year old, he really could be half his age sometimes. "Putting that aside, marriage is correct. But marriage to a pureblood, is not."
Draco let out a bored sigh. "What the hell are you-"
Levinson smiled at the look of utter horror on his nephews face. "Do you understand now?"
"What is it, darling?" Narcissa asked as she glanced at her son's petrified expression.
"Don't tell me…" Draco began. His tone was incredulous and distressed.
Levinson's goofy smile never left his face.
"You want me to marry a mudblood?"
END of chapter one.
Constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated!