It was a rare occurrence whilst tucked safely away in the cozy Malfoy Manor, but as it was still completely possible, Draco was irritable. So irritable, in fact, that he could feel his sensitive, pale skin beginning to prickle and break out with the anxious hormones now tearing an extremely damaging quest out of his pores.
Now, outsiders, you might have scoffed at the mere notion of the Malfoy estate being anything cozy, but outsiders had a horrible tendency to assume supporters of the Dark Lord didn't know how to have a happy home life. Completely untrue. Draco was probably the most privileged, content, and loved child in all of Wizarding Britain, with a doting mother, a supportive father, and a home fit for a prince (and in the privacy of his home, Narcissa did sometimes call him her little Slytherin Prince. Not that he would ever admit it, of course).
There were no blood stains, no echoing screams of terror, no skulls mounted on the walls (Mother said it was tacky). In fact, Malfoy Manor wasn't even dark. There were large windows everywhere that spilled in the morning sunlight like a bloody church. And sure, there was the occasional Dark artifact displayed, but only for bragging purposes ("Haha, my father works at the Ministry and can have illegal substances-slash-trinkets whenever he wants. Aren't you jealous?"). But in general, Malfoy Manor was tastefully (expensively) furbished- if not a tad exuberant. So Draco wasn't a prat because he had a horrible homelife- what with hosting the Dark Lord and his- er- entourage and his father's involvement with the terrorization of the general public.
He was a prat because he was rich, spoiled, and hot (and knew it).
So bad moods hardly ever colored his aura (having the perfect life and all that whatnot), but when they did… He made sure everyone in the house knew it. And how irate he was! You see, it was late. Probably a little after three in the morning, and Draco had spent previous hours locked away in his private sunroom with his bestie, Blaise Zabini (or so Blaise claimed. Pansy still swore she was the one with the title of Best Friend). They got drunk off of his father's spirits to celebrate the New Year. With permission, though Draco had pretended to break into his father's stock to impress Blaise.
But that was hours ago, and the buzz had long run out on him, leaving him with nothing but a headache as dry as the wine had been. So yes. A hangover before he even had the crash. And all he wanted to do was crash- in the ridiculously plush nine pillows on his huge bed that smelled of his shampoo and sweet, sweet money. And he had been about to do so- even settled in those almost dozen pillows (nine pillows for his nine Outstandings on his OWLs scores- he had received an Exceeds Expectations for History of Magic because of that dreadful Professor Binns, ruining his otherwise perfect score, damn him), pulled the downy comforter up to his chin like he had done since he stopped sleeping in his parents' bedroom all those years ago when the dark had still frightened him, and closed his bloodshot, slate blue eyes. Totally relaxed and ready for Mr. Sandman to slip in beside him and dust him with his eye-bogies.
Then, it happened.
A piercing, startling noise in the silence of the late- rather, early- hour, and it jolted poor Draco out of his bonelessness. Someone, somewhere- probably in one of the rooms down the hall- had cackled. Bloody cackled! Like the-most-hilarious-joke-in-all-the-world-had-been-told cackle. At three am!
Maybe his father was making a firecall, or perhaps his mother had Bella over, or maybe one of the house elves had finally cracked, as Draco was sure they would do, the freaky little things.
But the cackle was gone, as soon as it had come, and he tried to forget all about it. If it was some sort of bloodlusting ritual (which wouldn't exactly be a shock, though Mother always insisted Lucius keep his work at work), he'd deal with finding a body tomorrow. Evening. After he got a full sixteen to twenty hours of beauty sleep. So Draco relaxed again, the little furrow in between his pale eyebrows disappearing.
But then, and of course, it happened again, because a story as sarcastic and witty as this cannot continue on its own without some sort of plot device. The cackle wasn't a cackle anymore- more of a melodious sort of sound. Laughter. Happy laughter. Maybe a murder wasn't happening after all. It sounded like it was coming from the room next to his- though that wasn't possible because that was a room Narcissa had for private and closely related guests, reserved for privacy since this side of the mansion was for their bedrooms and other enclosures for clandestine purposes. Perhaps, then, his father's study?
The laughter died down to a simmer of quiet conversation- and hadn't they ever heard of a bloody Muffliato? Seriously, tomorrow, Draco was ordering soundproofing to be installed if this continued. His head gave a particularly nasty pulse when the laughter pitched again. What could be so funny, anyway? Well, if they thought they could get away with disturbing his rest, they had another thing coming.
So here he was, standing outside of his father's private office, in nothing but his pajamas, feet freezing on the polished wood-floor (a heating charm would be installed along with the sound-proofing, he decided as another chill raced up the back of his legs), listening to the voices merrily chatting along without a care for the other people in the east wing at all.
"You know you are welcome to stay the night, should you need to," he heard his father say, voice huskier than usual because of the lateness in the night. More laughter.
"Thank you, Luci. Ever the proper host-" Luci? Was that supposed to be his father?- "Our lord goes on and tells me it's soooo urgent that I meet with him tonight, and what happens? I'm sitting here all evening with a crick in my neck, and he's off meeting with a vampire clan in bloody Australia. And I suppose he expects me to sit here until he decides to grace me with his presence, yes?"
Draco had never heard anyone- except for maybe Aunt Bellatrix- speak so inappropriately about the Dark Lord (and he was using the term 'inappropriate' very loosely). He couldn't quite put his finger on the speaker, but his voice sounded suspiciously familiar… It was confident, definitely male, and almost, dare he say it, seductive- which was a disturbing thought since Draco was fairly sure the only ones in the dark study were his father and this mystery man.
"How Gryffindor of you," Lucius teased- teased!- and that sharp chortle was back, cutting through the calm air like a stinging hex.
"Please. Like I haven't heard that one before. Five thousand times. You know, when you were on the other end of my wand a couple of years ago, you said the exact same thing. But I'm pretty sure you were mocking me."
"I'm still mocking you," Lucius replied in good humor. There was a silence. "Shall I get one of the elves to bring you a soothing draught? You look tense."
"It's been a long week. Politics is murder. More murder than actual murder," he intoned softly with a light chuckle. Draco frowned. What was he doing again? Oh yes, telling his father and his guest where to shove it so he could get some proper sleep.
"I cannot believe the day has come that I get to hear you- the great and pure Boy Who Lived- abandon his sensibilities and jest about death," Draco's father said dryly.
Draco felt his lungs- his heart, his very blood flow- freeze. What? The Boy Who What?
There was a soft groan of complaint.
"I thought I said not to call me that, Luci. You know it makes me sick,"
"Hmm, maybe if you had a respectful bone in your body and started calling me Sir Malfoy, I'd return the favor."
"On second thought, the Boy Who Lived is just fine."
The Boy Who Lived? As in- the Boy Named Bloody Harry Potter? Harry Potter, the boy destined to defeat the Dark Lord? Sitting in his father's study? Calling him Luci?
"This is killing me. Voldemort's getting nothing from me if he keeps this up. I think I'm going to bed in a few if he can't find it in his ever-so-black heart to show his face,"
"I'll pretend I tried to stop you," Lusius snorted.
The guest- possibly, but totally impossibly a certain scar-headed, frazzle-haired- hmmed.
"So self-preserved. Why am I not surprised? Just like Draco, I suppose,"
Lucius gave a laugh, one that Draco knew was a laugh his father only ever dared let loose when at home and not in front of company. Just how close was this (not)Harry Potter to his father? And where did he get off calling him Draco, by his first name, when whenever they're in person, it was always a plain, stony "Malfoy".
"He has grown up nicely I think," he continued. "A bit childish still, a little naive, extremely conceited, and completely bigoted towards-"
"That's it!" Draco snapped, throwing open the door, and stomping inside (and promptly shutting it behind him, because his mother was likely asleep, and it would not do to wake her up) platinum hair disheveled from his short romp in the sheets, and face flushed with embarrassment and anger. "What the bloody hell is Potter doing in my house at 4 in the morning talking to my father like they're best-bleeding-friends?"
They stared at him- Lucius behind his desk, elbows propped up on the mahogany, eyes slightly wider a fraction in his masked surprise, Harry-bloody-Potter lounged on the window seat, barefooted like Draco and looking every bit like an impassive snake coiled up on the cushions.
"Oh dear," Harry said with an airy smile, "Cat's out of the bag."
"Draco. Why aren't you asleep?"
Draco rounded on his father, stalked inside, and dropped down into the chair across from him, arms crossed and chin set.
"Funny you ask that, actually," Draco snapped. "I was trying to sleep when I kept hearing this obnoxious voice-" he shot a look in Potter's direction who was looking out the window and pretending not to hear- "And came to tell it to kindly shut the bloody hell up-"
"-And what do I find? Harry Potter!" he paused, took a breath, and repeated, because he just couldnot-wouldnot (shouldnot) grasp that the Saviour of the Light was sitting here as if invited, quite literally into the very nest of the Dark Wizarding world, "Harry. Potter."
Lucius pursed his lips, icy blue eyes- almost the same shade as Draco's- darting to Potter's relaxed form.
"Don't be ridiculous," his father said. "That isn't Harry Potter. It's Rabastan under the Poly Juice."
The Harry Potter laughed, rose to his seat, slithered behind Lucius' desk, and draped his thin arms around Draco's father's shoulders, chin resting on his shoulder, and there was no fucking way that could be Lestrange because he would never touch his cousin like that.
"No need to lie, Luci. You see Draco, I wasn't going to tell you, but since you've caught us, might as well. Your father and I are in a passionate, forbidden affair."
Lucius did not even blink, probably used to Potter's antics, Draco would muse later. Draco gaped at them- the way Potter's eyes sparkled with mischief and his lips curled into a pleasant smirk.
"There's nothing to be done," he continued, and let out a dreamy sigh, a bit annoyed that Lucius was so unphased. "We're in love."
"Is that so?"
Draco squeaked, jumped right off the chair, and slammed his knees into his father's desk.
He looked behind him where a shadow was cast to see the menacing Dark Lord himself. When had he even walked in? He couldn't have floo'd in because there had been no telling burst of green flame, but the office door was still closed from when Draco had shut it!
There was a smattering of blood at the hem of his robes, long dried, and his scarlet eyes pierced straight over Draco's shoulder and at the couple behind the desk. He did not look murderous, but he certainly wasn't happy (and when had Draco ever seen the Dark Lord happy anyway?) Draco swiveled his neck back around and watched as Harry unwound himself from Lucius, a devious smile on his seemingly innocent face. His father was extremely pale.
"My Lord," his father greeted stiffly, bowing from his position, and Voldemort waved his hand in the air in an 'at ease' gesture.
"Well, look who decided to show up," Potter said, then hissed something long and soft. Draco thought he was having a stroke before he remembered Potter commanded the tongue of snakes. Completely undeservedly, at that.
Draco shivered at the sound of the oily syllabics. His eyes went wide when the Dark Lord reached a bone white hand out to drag Potter closer by the chin, until they were chest to chest.
"You look tired," Voldemort said simply.
Draco saw him roll his eyes.
"And who do you think made me this way? And don't say the Ministry, you-"
Harry cut off when he noticed the Lord's attention was no longer on him, but on Draco. The young wizard looked over his shoulder, following Voldemort's gaze until he met Draco's.
"Ah, yes. Draco joined us a few minutes ago."
Upon being addressed, Draco suddenly realized exactly what he looked like- completely lacking in all things presentable, practically undressed in front of his Lord! He felt embarrassment boil up as he shrunk back. Being like this in front of his father- and even Potter- was different- they'd both seen him worse. But the Dark Lord?
Fucking hell. It was way scarier to look into his freaky eyes when in your undergarments. He felt so… naked.
"My…" Draco swallowed nervously, his voice breaking into a pathetic whimper, "My Lord."
He did not look impressed, and quickly turned his attention back to Potter, as though asking why Draco should be such a disappointment in all ways, even in pajama wearing.
"It's my fault really. I was too loud and didn't think to put up a silencing charm. Woke poor Drake, here."
Drake? Was Potter trying to humiliate him even more? Draco looked to his father in absolute misery for help, but his eyes were trained intently on Harry and the Dark Lord, his cheeks set stonily. Why was he so scared? Usually, his father was too proud to show fear, even with the end of Voldemort's wand pointed in his direction, because he rarely felt scared of the Dark Lord. Lucius held a deep respect for him that only left his gaze filled with admiration. So what was so different now?
"And you weren't being loud because of your.. Ah, passionate, forbidden affair, were you?"
Those serpentine eyes cut from the dark haired wizard in his arms (in his arms? What dimension had Draco been sucked into?) to Lucius, who looked ready to pass out, or more likely to disapparate to safety.
"You're so touchy," Potter sighed, and whispered something in Parseltongue that gave Draco a sense of something sexual (oh, for the love of- disgusting) and that had the Dark Lord sneering with an emotion he couldn't quite place- notlustohgod.
"Anyway, I suppose I'll see you later Lucius. Drake," Potter said with a nod and grabbed the Dark Lord by his black sleeve to the fireplace. Voldemort found Draco's gaze quite easily before disappearing in a whirlwind of green.
"I don't need to tell you what I'll do to you if word of this gets out, do I… Drake?"
He swallowed again and shook his head heavily.
"No, My Lord. Of course not."
Harry huffed in annoyance, rolled his eyes again, and pulled Voldemort further into the fireplace so that they were practically embracing (Embracing! Like it was normal for mortal enemies to be that close and not choking each other to death!) With a toss of powder to the hearth and a soft murmur of "Greengrass Abbey" from Potter, they were gone.
What. The. Fuck.
Draco floundered for words, his mouth actually imitating a fish quite accurately, and not in that general simile sort of way that wishy-washy authors throw about cheaply either. He was agog. Begging his father to say something. Lucius seemed to crumble, his face collapsing into his hands, a weak sigh escaping his chalky lips.
"That boy is going to be the death of me," he finally stated.
It took a long time for Draco to understand what had taken place and what his father had meant- long after he returned to bed and finally fell asleep. Long after the rest of New Year's holiday, and even so far as after the second term of his seventh year in Hogwarts.
It was summer, hot, humid, and generally disgusting (insects, mostly, ugh, and for some reason he could not fathom, Draco's father outright refused to Banish insects from the property, something unimportant about the delicate ecosystem of botany and the lavish Malfoy gardens), which had Draco spending most of his days indoor instead of brushing up on his Quiddich skills with Crabbe and Goyle.
Again, it was dark, though not as obscenely late as the last encounter, when Draco heard the murmuring coming from the first floor's dining room. It was not a surprise to see the Dark Lord in their home, as Lord Voldemort had yet to set up a place for himself being as busy as he was (most of his time was spent out of the country anyway; doing what, you ask? Expanding his Empire, Draco supposed). And sometimes, the Dark Lord would bring company: a foreign leader of the Dark here, and a Werewolf alpha there, so a dinner guest in the Malfoy dining room was not unusual.
But that laugh.
It was impossible to not recognize- so bloody jolly, like everything said was coming from the mouth of a comedian. Draco, for his part, had never once laughed at anything Lord Voldemort had ever said, never felt inclined to, and likely never would. Not unless he wanted to be severely maimed. Or called insane- like dear Aunty Bella.
Draco peaked over the hand-crafted, solid silver banister (that cost a billion-trillion-bazillion galleons to anyone who wanted to know, and if you didn't want to know, well. What is wealth for but rubbing it in your cheap face?) so he could see into the dining room. It had been rearranged to fit the tastes of the occupants. The long, strict table was gone, so that only a low standing, small almost-coffee-table rested, centered under the low burning candle chandelier, and the many chairs had disappeared as well, leaving only a comfortable looking couch to sit on, pulled close enough to the table so that one could still eat. The table itself- dark wood, encrusted with amethyst- was covered in foods found in mostly French cuisine, tumblers filled with most likely alcoholic substances. But that was all standard fair and wasn't what grabbed at Draco's attention.
It was obvious what he was witnessing wasn't for his eyes- anyone's eyes- to see, but that was what the damn door was for, and well. It was open. So there.
The moment was... intimate- anyone would see that. The Dark Lord was leaned back on the couch, neck propped up by Nagini, where she lay resting, her full length stretched out along the back of the couch and coiling at the floor on one side because she was just so huge. His typical black robes were missing, dress shirt unbuttoned to the middle, showing his marble white, scaly chest that, in all honesty, only made Draco even more terrified of him. Alone, it would have been almost normal, but Harry Potter (bloody Harry Potter, in his house again)… He was lying on his back on the couch, his head in the Dark Lord's lap and his shoes and socks left cold on the immense rug his mother Narcissa had imported from the Sacred Elven Fields settled at the edge of the Universe, hand woven and gifted from the High Priestess herself (and that had cost ten times more than the banister, by the way). He wore Muggle jeans of all things, that were form-fitting and old looking, the nerve, but fit his shabby style, and the dark green sweater he was wearing (which looked way better on him than red and gold, if Draco had any say) had ridden up to expose a stripe of pale waist. One of Voldemort's spidery hands was resting on that soft looking skin, those long, sharp, but admittedly clean nails stroking it absently. His other hand was caressing Potter's forehead- his scar, Draco realized after a second- and Potter seemed like a cat. Practically purring and half-asleep, his own hands on the Dark Lord, feeling those glittering scales.
Draco wondered if they were dry like a lizard's or smooth like a snake's.
He should ask Potter sometime, and Draco wasn't sure how long he stood there lost in his imagination of that particular conversation (Potter would definitely reply something like "It's a secret," or something equally obnoxious), and was only ushered back up the stairs when Narcissa stumbled upon his prone figure.
He should have known then, the nature of their relationship. But Draco was rather immersed in his motivated ignorance. It seemed easy enough to think of all of what he'd seen as a dream anyway. Especially when Lucius refused to acknowledge it, and everyone else seemed to be in the dark. Harry Potter was the Dark Lord's best kept secret next to his blood status (which Draco was only privy to because of Wormtail's slippery tongue that had ultimately been his demise a few years back when Voldemort had discovered some sort of treachery from the rat).
Potter's frequent appearances in the afternoons continued through the summer, and it was then that Draco finally realized what was going on. Harry had been subtly pushing for educational and political reform. Slowly inching towards a more mellow definition of Dark and Light, suggesting new laws that actually advocated Werewolf involvement in the government, advocated the study of Dark Arts in Hogwarts.
Of course, all of this was written by the spectacular Rita Skeeter (who Draco suspected was being paid outlandishly by Potter- it had recently been announced that the boy-Saviour was loaded which in turn had made Draco wonder why Potter always dressed so dreadfully). Skeeter, in her shameless, and lacking literary merit way painted Potter's radical and dangerous political maneuvers in gold and rainbows. Everyone had expected Potter to go in Auror training after his Seventh and final year at school, but he had dumbfounded them all by shooting straight for Delores Jane Umbridge's job, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic. And even more astounding: people actually rallied behind him, either worshipping his feet or hating Umbridge enough to prefer a seventeen year old man-child.
Potters's platform was based off of Civil Rights for higher magical creatures, a hint of Blood Supremacy, and educational welfare, almost all of it scooting to more Dark Arts. Scrimgeour was sweating up a storm against his running-mate, Thicknesse, who in all reality had no chance of winning. A somewhat sad looking man with a forgettable face, doomed for the footnotes of history. But with Harry Potter at his side…
Why Potter was doing this was anyone's guess, though the Quibbler proudly announced it was because Harry didn't want children in the coming generations to grow up in the middle of a war "like I have", in those wide, doughy green eyes that drew readers in like flies to honey. And this time, he means in the simile way. How would anyone see with honey eyes? Draco suspected Harry was paying Xenophilius Lovegood off as well, though probably with restricted information on rare magical creatures instead of actual money. Potter was a big, fat figurehead using every bit of his influence on any media he could get his little fame-seeking hands on.
Draco, privately, found Potter's rather Slytherin ways kind of attractive (and judging from the way the Dark Lord kept him glued to his side whenever Potter was at the Manor suggested Draco wasn't the only one. But. The Nile and all that).
Dumbledore had to be rolling in his grave.
It wasn't until a month after all the fuss, dead center of the Summer, when the Dark Lord ordered a full-attendance ball-turn-meeting, that Potter showed his face again. At first, when he was announced from the guest list upon his arrival, the entrance hall to the Parkinson Palace still less than half full, whispers rippled through the room wondering if the boy- man- knew where exactly he was. But then, Draco's own mother, Mrs. Parkinson, and Blaise Zabini (when had Blaise even met Potter?) had all drawn to him like moths to a flame, all smiles and charm.
He was one of them, the hall realized. His father, Draco noticed, kept a tense distance from Potter throughout the evening.
And Potter stayed the entire night, through to the meeting as well. No one questioned the Dark Lord, but Draco could guess many did so in the privacy of their minds.
"Bellatrix," Lord Voldemort hissed, as they gathered to their respectful places at the long table in one of the Parkinson auditoriums. The gaunt, previously wickedly beautiful woman (Draco had seen pictures of her younger years) looked up just as she was about to sit at the Dark Lord's left hand. Usually, Lucius would be at his right, but as Mr. Parkinson was the host, it was his place for the night by rite, Lucius immediately after.
"You will move down a seat."
Her wide eyes went larger, the whites an unnatural yellow. Narcissa had been treating her with nutritional supplements since her Azkaban breakout but the improvement was minimal still. It would take a few years for her to regain more than a shade of her former allure. Not that she seemed to care of it. Bellatrix seemed perfectly happy these days. Excepting just now, of course.
Her voice held concerned confusion; hesitance. Everyone fell silent. Draco watched from his place next to Theo and Pansy. The only ones still whispering were Blaise and Potter who sat across the table from Draco. Their faces were close and their words fast, like what they were saying was urgent, though Draco caught bits of their conversation in the extended silence. Quidditch bets for this year's World Cup. Honestly. Draco looked back up the table and found the Dark Lord's crimson eyes trained at Potter and Blaise, his snake-like face smooth in a silent, calm anger. Nothing unusual there, at least.
"You will move down a seat, and Rodolphus will trade places... with Harry."
Potter's attention snapped from Blaise to Lord Voldemort the moment his name was hissed, whose skeletal hand was beckoning him. The younger wizard showed an easy smile, one dark eyebrow quirked up a little. He stood smoothly, and slowly made his way to the head of the table, where Rodolphus was clearly having negative feelings with having to sit with teenagers. Well, Draco could speak for the teenagers, and they weren't happy about it either; Rodolphus was terrible company on a good day. His jaw clenched as he silently sulked his way to a humiliated exile.
Every eye followed Potter, who rounded behind the Dark Lord, his hand trailing down Lord Voldemort's forearm as he passed, and settled in the empty chair next to a disgruntled Bellatrix.
"Ickle-Potty," she snarled at him, "How's your god-daddy?"
Potter smiled at her blackened teeth. The guests held their breath, and Potter suspended the silence for as long as he thought he could hold their attention, before resting his chin on a hand, green eyes staring into her dark coal stare.
"Enjoying his forced retirement I'll bet. I don't think he'd like my new friends very much," he paused before a cruel smile spread over his face, alarming Mr. Parkinson greatly. Draco's father, once again, seemed to avoid looking at Harry altogether. "How is your husband? He looks very fetching down at the kiddie table."
Bellatrix's face turned a ruddy pink darkening the worst of her discoloration and scarring. The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black was well known for their vanity; Belatric likely didn't care one whit for her husband any other day he hasn't been publicly denounced. It was a low blow, but Potter apparently had a lot of aggressive energy pent up for the woman before him; it was no secret.
As Bella opened her mouth to likely threaten Potter's life, the Dark Lord raised a hand to Harry's wrist, clasping it tightly.
"Now, now, Harry. Play nicely with others," he hissed. Harry made an expression extremely close to a pout, his other hand coming to rest on top of Lord Voldemort's. Bella stared at the interaction.
"Ssstheha ththhttssss fffffffttttthssss," Potter intoned softly, or something like that. It wasn't as though Draco was a professional transcriptionist; give him some slack.
A shudder ran down the table. Lord Voldemort's grip tightened, a grin full of sharp teeth pulling at his thin mouth. Potter continued to stare up at him through his eyelashes daringly until those white fingers peeled away from his arm.
"Graaaaaa sshhhhhssssssssss," the Dark Lord replied in a sinister voice, dripping in dark humor. "Sithh firethhsssss snraahhh."
You might wonder how Draco knew the dripping in dark humor bit. Let's just say some things were cross-lingual.
"Shas iyies-nagh?" Potter asked, dragging out the sounds in the breathy, slick language.
You get the idea. There was a lot of hissing and maybe a little spittle. So much for the majestic legacy of the tongue of Salazar Slytherin.
Lord Voldemort's lips curled into a disapproving line, cutting their secret conversation to an end, and he finally addressed the entire table for the greater purpose of their gathering. He never once explained Potter's presence, nor did he seem to feel the need to. Potter for the most part remained silent, only speaking in a quiet Parseltongue into the Dark Lord's shoulder if he had something to say.
Draco's brain was beginning to catch up on the clues, the cues. Harry's daring whispers- flirtatious. The Dark Lord's even darker smirks, lingering glances, casual brushes of fingers. It was all considerably disturbing. Still, Draco pushed the daunting truth away- it was just too… wrong. Besides which, Lord Voldemort was hideous. Well. If he were being generous, Draco supposed there was a sort of exotic creature-like quality to the Dark Lord, not human, but just enough to be recognizable. And eerie sort of attractive, maybe. If he kept his hood up and the lights low.
But he was more than three times Potter's age, a total sociopath, and probably still got off on the idea of Potter dying.
And Potter- well he was bloody Harry Potter, wasn't he? The same Harry Potter who was supposed to be with that Weasley girl, Ginny, who was supposed to be spending the summer with his precious Order and not running for office with Pius Thicknesse. So Draco told himself their little thing that hung in the air between them was all for show, for proving they could do the impossible. Right.
His resolve wavered a bit when Lord Voldemort's hand vanished under the table during his speech, possibly resulting in the squirmy, blushing young man beside him.
By some miracle, Thicknesse was elected Minister of Magic by the end of Fall, Potter as his Under Secretary, securing Snape as Hogwart's Headmaster, because really. The Wizengamot would be stupid to go against a man the people so supported (Harry Potter, not Snape). It's what had kept them out of Dumbledore's way, after all. And his (Thicknesse speaking, but obviously Potter pulling the strings) first business of order had been to change Defense Against the Dark Arts to Magical Defense and The Dark Arts: An Understanding. Of course, the latter of the two were reserved for fifth years and up, and be completely voluntary.
Skeeter was verbally kissing Potter's feet in the Prophet. Literally too, if Potter thought to let her. Her rates had never been so high.
It was making for an extremely and bizarrely happy Dark Lord. Er- the political success. Draco wasn't sure how the Dark Lord might react to Rita Skeeter kissing Potter anywhere. It was strange to see Lord Voldemort join them at balls, or casual banquets, or a walk through the gardens (walks that Draco witnessed from windows; the bugs were still in season after all).
He was even present for a sunny breakfast, his followers trying not stare or jump upon hearing him chuckling as Potter hissed jokes only he could understand. And he hadn't even killed anyone this past week!
The dark-haired young man hmmed in acknowledgment as he leant down to feed Nagini some of his sausage. Draco ignored that fact that Potter was in his sleep clothes (ignored the fact that he had obviously slept over, and definitely not wondering where on earth he had slept).
"What do you tell everyone when you're over here?" Draco asked, pushing his food around on his platter.
"Well, to be honest, I don't tell anyone anything," Harry answered, looking up, "I have a private, unplottable house I had built after leaving Hogwarts that no one knows the whereabouts of. Well. In theory," he looked at Lord Voldemort for a second, "But I rarely ever go there. It's kind of a decoy anyway. Anyone at the Ministry can get a hold of my files and see where it is. The perks of being Under Secretary is that I don't answer to anyone. Plus, my old friendships have for the most part died. I suppose that's what happens when you're bedding down with your sworn enemy..."
There was a pause. A long one.
"Metaphorically, I mean."
Bella chewed loudly on her stewed prunes, allowing a mixture of spit and juice to spray out on the satin tablecloth. She looked about as sour as the pickled plum sauce, leaned back, her cleavage catching most of the mess. Draco, unsure if it was due to Potter's answer or his aunt, lost his appetite promptly.
The only ones who seemed unaffected were the Dark Lord and Harry- who was staring at Bella in a sort of detached curiosity and disgust. He paid her no mind though, and quickly picked up his conversation with Voldemort, about Educational Decree three-hundred-or-other about poor, sad orphans. Perhaps that was all they had in common.
Besides their. Well. Metaphor.
Draco felt an immense pressure in his head; a headache.
"…literally fell off his broom! Cost 'em the whole game! And I turn to the bloke next to me and I says…" Rabastan was telling his scowling brother.
"...to forget the first calculations," his mother was saying fervently to his father. "We were but seconds from breaking the seal on the opal and rediscovering the very fabric of wards as we know..."
"...got a fifty galleon fine from the Apparition Department. How was I supposed to know I was going to end up in the women's loo?!" Goyle was moaning.
The conversations lulled Draco back and forth, like the pulling waves on a shore.
"…and I'll probably be out of the country for the rest of the month because I'm expected to go with Pius to the WUN conference," Potter was saying, twirling his fork in his fingers absently. The Dark Lord stared intently at him, and something about his shift in mood had the table falling silent. Voldemort's displeasure coated the room.
"That's nearly three weeks," he said softly to Harry who was nodding, eyes closed and savoring a bite of the sweet prunes.
"Good," Bella muttered from around her own fork-full.
They didn't spare her a glance.
"Yes, barely enough time to settle anything with Latin America- Bolivia is being ridiculous, so I'll expect the trip will take longer than that; probably the entire next month too. But Pius says he can't be gone for that long with just getting the job- worried he'll be a seat warmer or something. I've told him-"
"You will not go," the Dark Lord interrupted, taking Harry's wrist in a way that mirrored the other countless times Draco had witnessed, but somehow managing to be one thousand times more deliberate and awkward to witness.
"Now, that's ridiculous dear," Harry said with a frown, and if he hadn't continued, someone might have called him out on calling the Dark Lord dear, "I have to go. I'm Senior Undersecretary,"
"Yes, My Lord. He has to go. I support him all the way across the sea and farther and farther," Bella interjected again. This time Harry waved a hand at her in a shut-up sort of way.
"Hush, Bellatrix. Let the adults talk. Really, I have no choice. Believe me, I don't want to spend that long stuck with arguing politicians in their ivory towers."
(Funny how Potter didn't seem to mind ivory towers when he was staying at one.)
"But it's my job to-"
"It's your job," Voldemort spoke carefully, low and malicious, and took Harry by the chin so he was forced to make eye contact, "to do as I say,"
There was a long pause in which the younger wizard leaned closer in seeming contemplation before slipping past Voldemort's loose grip in his arm so that their hands entwined instead. They were holding hands. Draco looked around the table, feeling hysterical, but he only saw a lot of avoiding gazes and twitching eyebrows.
Was no one else on the verge of complete insanity?!
"Of course," Potter whispered. "My Lord."
Draco felt a shock of arousal as he stared at Potter's expression- a small smile with a mischievous twist at the corners. His green eyes- where were his glasses?- were trained on Lord Voldemort and nothing else. As always, the Dark Lord was the center of Potter's life.
Voldemort stood, his black robes draping around his body, from his broad shoulders to his bare feet, and looked at Harry expectedly.
"Come Harry," he spoke softly, the usual menacing ruthlessness in his voice gone. "We have much business to do today."
Potter frowned, that almost-pout back in place; "Business. Sounds boring. What kind?"
He swept himself up, brushed the wrinkles from his quaffle and snitch printed pajamas, and followed the Dark Lord out of the first floor's dining room.
"I think you'll find yourself quite eager for the task," The Dark Lord replied. And something about it; something in his tone made everything shift within Draco's brain, all the pieces clattering in place with a single resounding click.
Oh, Merlin. You have got to be kidding.
"They're fucking!" The words were tumbling out of Draco's mouth before he could stop them, and thank heavens the two wizards in question had already left the room.
"Draco!" Mother gasped, "Some decorum, please-"
"The Dark Lord and Potter!" he ignored his mother, instead searching his father's gaze, who seemed to still be staring at his crepes. "They're bloody fucking."
"How dare you suggest that our Lord would lower himself to such filth!" Aunt Bella raved, spewing her breakfast for the second time that morning- this time genuine rage; "He would never-"
"You've just now discovered?" Rabastan asked, chewing on a slice of sausage dipped in his porridge- a Sphinx mix from the valleys in Albania. Bella growled, and Draco guessed that she had already known as well and was only trying to deny it: Potter. And Voldemort.
Draco wasn't all that hungry any more.
"You'd do well," Lucius said in a deep grumble, "to not repeat any of this."
"Our Lord is putting Potter in his proper place!" Bella snapped viciously, "It's just a show of dominance!"
Someone snorted, but it was hard to tell who.
"It's all for show!" she insisted.
Yet at that very moment, they heard a loud shout in a very familiar voice "Voldemort!"; and not the usual sort of cry ("Help! I'm shouting because I'm in pain!"). Oh, no. This shout was just the opposite ("Yes! I'm shouting because- dear god- it just feels so- and you forgot to close the door again but- no, don't stop!")
"All for show," Aunt Bella says to herself again, clasping her hands to her ears- and she isn't the only one.
How many times had Draco heard that before?