Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot. (However I would like very much to own a certain Draco Malfoy).
A/N: First thing's first, I want to thank everyone who has read and/reviewed my last story Twisted Love Story, it means a whole bunch! Second, the following story is also sort of dark with some angst, but also sort of fluffy and cute. I think so, anyway.
Warning: contains alcohol abuse, some swearing and some sexual content. (this is my first REAL attempt at an actual smut, just FYI)
'You can't save me Granger.' 'But I can try, can't I?' And he lets her.
It's a rainy, windy, and truly depressing night in London, reflecting the blond man's attitude sitting at the bar in the Leaky Cauldron. He's well aware of the stares he's receiving and the whisperings going on behind him as he knocks back shot after shot, but he's become so accustomed to it every day that it doesn't even faze him. As long as he's got his bill running on a tab and constant flow of alcohol at his fingers he's happy.
This is what Draco Malfoy has become. A drunk. A depressed fool, living in the bottom of a bottle of whiskey. Malfoys are known for their poise and their elegance and yet there's nothing elegant about him. Not anymore. Next to the downfall of the Dark Lord (what's it been, two years?), the downfall of the Malfoy empire, along with the name and every Malfoy related witch or wizard, was the most celebrated event in Wizarding history.
The end of the war brought freedom for every witch and wizard in the Wizarding World, just as long as you were fighting for the right side of course. If you were Light, or a part of the Order, then any wrong-doings you may have done during the war were immediately pardoned. If you were a Death Eater however, or someone like Draco who was forced into doing what he did, you were tried (in his case for months on end) for every wrong-doing, illegal thing you've ever done and then sentenced accordingly. Lucius Malfoy was sentenced to a lifetime (and more) in solitary confinement in Azkaban for his crimes; his aunt and many others received the same sentence. Narcissa Malfoy was given the Kiss for her involvement, having claimed and proved that while she played a part in the war, she wasn't a Death Eater. (His father had never let her take the mark, officially). Draco Malfoy, however, was a far more complex situation. He was 16 at the time of his initiation into the Death Eater circle and therefore was not considered a willing participant-his father had, after all, forced him into it 'for the good of the Wizarding world'. And while he had watched people being killed and tortured, he had never personally done the acts of such horrid things. His trial had lasted months. Months which he spent in his own cell in Azkaban. While there was physical evidence linking him to the Dark Lord, the Mark being one of them, there was no proof that he had actually participated in any of the Death Eater raids or killing sprees. And so, due to lack of evidence, at the age of 19, Draco Malfoy was pardoned of all of his charges. He became, essentially, a free man.
And yet 'free' is not something Draco would consider himself. The word 'free' does not exist in his vocabulary. Because no matter how 'free' he is, everybody still looks at him the same. Like he's a murderer. Like he's his father. And that is something he would rather not talk about...
It's been four months since he was released from Azkaban. Everyday for the first month, he spent inside; refusing to leave his house (which is ironically the last place he wants to be), afraid to face the world and the media outside. Halfway through the second month he had ventured to Diagon Alley do some shopping only to be bombarded with cameras and journalists; when he returned home later that day, he told himself he would never leave the house again. He rediscovered alcohol on the first of the third month; he was drunk for five days straight after that. In fact a lot of the last month he's spent drunk and therefore he doesn't remember a whole hell of a lot. What he does remember, however, is running out of alcohol of all kinds in the cellar, thinking it completely unacceptable, and apparating to the Leaky Cauldron. He doesn't know why he chooses this place in particular, but it's the only place that comes to mind.
And now here he is, four hours later, still drunk. Still depressed. Still perfectly okay...
The bartender, however, has a quite different idea. "You're not okay mate. Let me call you a cab-"
"I don't need a cab, I need another drink," the blonde scoffs.
"I understand that but-"
"Well then do it," he demands.
The man behind the counter shakes his head and holds his ground. "I can't. Either you let me call you a cab, or you call one yourself."
"Fine. But just so you know, I am not happy," Draco grumbles.
"You weren't happy when you got here either, what's your point?"
"True. That's true."
The jingle sound that the door makes when it opens sounds louder in his ears than he's sure it should. Out of instinct more than anything, he turns his head to see who it is. There are three of them, and he knows all of them-too well. Potter sees him first, his face blank. Then Weasley spots him, scowling at him, and Draco sneers back. Granger is the last to notice him and it could just be his drunk imagination, but there's a faint sort of sympathy in her eyes. And he hates it. He hates the angry glares and the spiteful taunts, but he hates those bloody sympathy looks even more.
And this, he decides, is his cue to leave.
He turns back to the bartender, throws some money on the table, and steps (rather clumsily) off the chair. He stumbles then, catching his balance on the rather large and bulky fellow sitting beside him. He mutters an apology as the man turns around to face him, his face red in anger. He chuckles drunkenly. "That's a good look for you, mate."
"What did you call me?"
"You called me mate."
"Yeah, my mistake-"
"You got that right, mate!"
All of a sudden, quicker than he can react, the man grabs him by his shirt and shoves him against the bar. His head snaps back on his neck, sending an intense sort of pain through his spine and into his head. And then, even quicker than that, the man's fist connects with his face, sending another, stinging pain through his jaw. The room is spinning now, as the man grabs him by the shirt again and throws him on the ground. His head connects violently with the floor and he's vaguely aware of the metal taste in his mouth and the fact that the man is now using him as a punching bag. And he embraces it. He embraces the punches and the kicks. He embraces the pain. It stings and it shoots through his body in the best way.
People are yelling all around him, some cheering and some trying to stop it. He has half a mind to tell the man to keep going, though, as he feels the darkness taking over. And then all of a sudden it stops and although he can't bring himself to open his eyes, he can hear a familiar, feminine voice screaming at the man to stop. He wants to tell her to just let him but he doesn't have the energy. His whole world is getting darker and darker and the voices of the people around him are beginning to fade.
And they continue to fade, until the darkness completely takes over.
"Stop it! Stop-get off him! Ron!"
"Harry, help me get him up."
"Where should we take him? St Mungo's?"
"Just put him in my room."
"What about you?"
His head is pounding when he comes too. He has yet to open his eyes, but the room is already spinning. He tries to move, to shift his position onto his side, but he hurts too much. He groans, opening his eyes-which is a lot harder than he anticipated. He doesn't recognize his surroundings, not even a little bit, and the realization forces him into a sitting position on a bed he's pretty sure he doesn't belong in. (Not that that's ever mattered before). Wincing in pain, he clutches his head as it throbs and he closes his eyes tightly. His entire body is in pain.
The door opens then, allowing a ray of light into the room and he groans again as it burns his eyes even behind his closed eyelids.
He recognizes that voice. "Granger?" He squints to look at her, and sure enough it's Granger.
"Uh...where am I?" His voice is hoarse, his throat dry. He leans forward, his face in his hands.
"My flat. Here, drink this." She hands him a glass and he takes it in his hands, swirling the purple liquid around before knocking it back. His face scrunches in distaste as it slides down his throat.
"Bloody hell Granger that's awful! What are you trying to do, kill me?" He wonders loudly. He immediately regrets raising his own voice as the pounding in his head intensifies.
"It can't be any worse than what you did to yourself last night," she mutters, moving around the room.
"I beg to differ."
"Do you want some tea?"
She sighs loudly. "Do you want anything?"
"Got any beer, or fire whiskey?" He asks, pushing his hands through his hair.
"Yeah, 'cause that's just what you need the morning after," she replies sarcastically, rolling her eyes.
"So that's a no?"
"That's a no." She turns to leave then, leaving him to his own devices.
"What am I doing here?" he asks her before she leaves.
"We couldn't get into your house."
He watches her leave and stays sitting on her bed for a few more minutes before pushing himself to his feet (rather slowly). He's fully dressed, which is a good sign, he supposes. He bends down to put on his shoes and a stinging sensation rips through his torso. He grunts, holding it as he straightens himself out. He doesn't remember a whole hell of a lot from last night and he wants answers. And it seems that the only person, who can give them to him, is Granger. He pushes himself forward, shuffling his feet lazily across the hard wood floor. He finds himself in the hallway and he stops, taking in his surroundings, before following the smell of bacon. She's in the kitchen, cooking what he assumes is breakfast, when he walks in. "What time is it?"
"And why did you bring me here?"
She sighs, turning to face him with a sort of knowing, annoyed look on her face. "As I said before, we couldn't get into your house, so we brought you here-"
"Potter and Weasley?" He guesses, making his disdain for them known.
"Yes. And all that pain you're feeling, in your arms and your chest? That's because you decided to get especially drunk and let yourself get beat up by a guy twice your size. I managed to heal most of the cuts and bruises, and your broken rib, but it's still tender," she informs him, like it's the most natural thing in the world.
"Look you don't have to thank me, I wouldn't expect you to anyway, but the least you could do is stop yourself from being so rude."
"I didn't ask you bring me here Granger. I didn't ask for your help," he reminds her.
"You didn't have to."
She turns away from him, tending to her sizzling bacon once more.
"Right, well, thanks." He mutters, clearing his throat uncomfortably.
"Do you always drink like that?" she asks. This time her voice is soft and legitimately curious. "Like what?"
"To the point where you blackout Malfoy. To the point where you let someone beat the shit out of you."
He considers her question, and then his answer. Does he tell her the truth? Does he tell her how GOOD it felt to receive such pain? "I should go…" He makes to leave, walking through the kitchen, prepared to pretend like none of this ever happened.
"Go where? Back to the Leaky Cauldron? To the liquor store to get some more fire whiskey?"
If he didn't know any better he's think that she actually cared. "See you around Granger. Although probably not," he adds as an after thought.
When he returns home, he finds that he doesn't know what to do with himself. It's dark and it's cold and it's lonely. It reminds him too much of his cell in Azkaban. And when he thinks about where he is and why he doesn't want to be here, he finds that he would much rather be confined to a cell. This house holds nothing but memories. Memories of a bad childhood and an even worse adolescence. Memories of the war, of death and of torture. Perhaps it's his alcohol deprived mind playing tricks on him, but as he walks around the house (as though giving him a reason to pick up another drink) memory after memory comes flooding back; like a slideshow. The staircase, where his father pushed him against the wall and yelled at him because his grades weren't as good as the Mudbloods. The living room, where his father hit his mother for the first time. The sitting room, where his aunt tortured Granger over and over and over; carved the word 'mudblood' into her arm. The dining room, where he was forced to watch the Dark Lords pet snake devour his Muggle Studies teacher. The dungeons, where his family held his classmate Luna Lovegood and the wand maker for weeks upon weeks. Everywhere he turns, a bad memory surfaces and every time he closes his eyes he sees it. He sees it and it disgusts him. His past disgusts him. Who he is disgusts him. He hates who is.
And the alcohol...the alcohol makes it just a little bit more bearable; the glares, the scowls, the talking and whispering. It numbs the feelings he doesn't want to feel, and heightens the ones he does. It helps him forget and he craves it; needs it.
He makes a decision that morning.