"You cannot be serious!"
The paintings in the hallway clapped their hands to their ears, wincing at the noise.
"I say, do shut up! Some of us appreciate a quiet hallway, you know."
The man ignored the painting of a pair of old wizards playing chess, both of whom were exceedingly cantankerous-looking. Kingsley Shacklebolt, who had become the Minister for Magic after Rufus Scrimgeour's retirement, scowled down at Draco Malfoy. For someone who had previously been chained to a wall in an isolated cell, he still managed an irritating aristocratic air of arrogance.
"Mr. Malfoy, for someone facing Azkaban, you should be more grateful about this alternative."
"Torture or slavery. What a fantastic choice, Minister. Yes, I see now. Ten years of having to answer to someone else, serve them tea and dinner and clean their bloody house; or being entombed within a horde of Dementors. Neither of them are entirely appealing options."
Shacklebolt merely stared at him.
Waving his hand, Draco continued. "Minister, do you honestly expect me to welcome servitude with open arms?"
"That's probably why servitude was suggested at the Wizengamot meeting," Shacklebolt pointed out wryly, "and as such you have no choice in this whatsoever so I suggest you get used to the idea. You should be damn grateful that they deemed your father's crimes as the reason for yours."
Draco's entire body language screamed 'bring it on, bitch'. "And if I refuse?"
He was dragged, kicking, screaming and cursing wildly, out of the Ministry of Magic.
Draco scowled menacingly at the white door as though he could force it to stay closed. He took a step back and examined the house critically. Whoever had bought him was obviously well-off – his slavery had come at quite a steep price – but their house was hardly extravagant. It was a two-storey house painted white and dark blue, with a balcony running along the top floor and hanging over the patio he was standing on.
The front yard was modest, with a white gravel path leading from the mailbox to the door and a couple of flowerbeds, which were obviously well taken care of. Many of the flowers looked to be magically bred. Draco peered closer at a cluster of flowers, raising an eyebrow appreciatively. They were dark blue, but the insides of the petals were dusted with red, and the veins were shot through with gold. Upon closer inspection, he could make out a thin dome around the flowers, shielding them from the wind and snow. His mother had been interested in gardening before his father decided to prance about with The Evil Lord of Moronity, but she had never taken it to this kind of extreme.
There were no neighbours that Draco could see, but then again, he was standing in the middle of the wizarding seaside. To his right he could just make out wide strip of blue, the smell of the salt air strong even this far away. He shivered – this close to the coastline, the bite of winter was stronger, and it was almost sunset so the air was even colder than normal. He glanced behind him. He wondered whether the Ministry official standing a little way off would be fast enough to react if he made a run for the ocean.
Eyeing the burly man from his peripheral vision, he decided against it. From the look of him, Draco would probably be dead before he hit the water. Sighing resignedly, he knocked on the door, resisting the urge to pick up his suitcase and bash his guard's face in.
It was answered almost instantly. Draco stared at the empty air for a few seconds before he had the intelligence to look down.
A petite house elf stood before him, and she bobbed her head before beckoning him inside. She was wearing a blue pillowcase that had been arranged into a sort of dress, and a white woollen object which he suspected might have been a tea-cosy once had been fashioned into a sort of beret. It was a far cry from the dirty rags the house elves at Malfoy Manor his father had insisted on. Draco found he preferred the neat, presentable house elf. It was as though she were a sort of hired maid, rather than an undignified servant.
"Draco Malfoy will follow Daisy now." She squeaked, and he realised he'd been musing at the doorstep of someone who had actually had the nerve to buy another human being.
He vaguely registered the Ministry official had Apparated as soon as he had stepped inside. Instead, he glowered as she led him through the house, Levitating his suitcase behind her. He did notice the interior was quite nicely furnished. It was plain and understated, clean and comfortable without much effort. He thought back to the garden. Clearly this was the house of someone who spent most of their time in leisure. His mind went over a few names of older families who might have the money to buy him, but he knew their style, and this wasn't it. He followed the elf towards what he presumed was the study of his new owner. His lip curled at that thought.
Wizarding slavery was out of practice centuries ago, before Muggles ever had the idea. Stupid Wizengamot and their stupid, old-fashioned, ancient notions.
"Here is Draco Malfoy, sir!" the house elf said suddenly, and Draco almost walked into her. He looked around. He was right – he had been led to a study, the walls covered in light wooden panels where they weren't covered with bookshelves, maps and paintings. The only two windows in the room were large, spanning almost ceiling-to-floor on the north wall. Red curtains were drawn aside. A fireplace stood on the west wall, flickering quietly and warming the room against the chilly air. A Muggle telephone, of all things, sat on the wooden desk, behind which sat...
"You? What the fuck do you think you're doing? Why the hell would you buy me? You BOUGHT me? What...that's...I mean...you're...this is ridiculous! We...you don't...WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?" he spluttered. He knew he was being quite undignified, but at this point in time he didn't care.
Harry raised an eyebrow at Draco. "Are you quite finished?"
I hope you found this little teaser to your liking. Watch this space, because eventually, it'll be the whole story!