A/N: Phew, this chapter has given me some grief, but I love the result. I am working on the next chapter, but I need to make some adjustments to time line stuffs. Know that I can not stop writing this story. While I may not be the fastest at putting out another chapter, I carry a notebook with me always that has drabbles of ideas for this story alone. I can't even consider working on a different fic until i get this one done. And ladies and gents, I can say we have a beautiful journey ahead of us. ;)
Thanks for keeping with the story. My readers are amazing!
Chapter 25: Draco's Dark Day
Draco Malfoy stood in his bedroom quietly, staring himself in the mirror. He felt like a child on the verge of throwing a tantrum. He didn't want to see his father. He never wanted to see that man again. His crimes against the wizarding world were too great to be ever considered for parole from Azkaban. Yes, Draco did hate Lucius Malfoy for raising him to hate those who were different, but the majority of his hate was derived from the way he had treated Narcissa.
Draco and his mother had always been close. That, after all, was why he joined the Golden Trio. If it hadn't been for her, he would have just kept his mouth shut. He hated the idea that his mother still supported the man that put their family in danger. The man who told him he was worthless every time they went to Azkaban.
Staring back through the mirror was a man with lengthening blonde hair. Hair that reminded him too much of his father. He was not his father. But it was too late now to do anything about it. He had never found use in learning spells to cut his hair, and Narcissa would expect him ready to leave shortly. Draco didn't bother to slick his hair back or to secure it in a low ponytail. With any hope, that would at least annoy Lucius Malfoy.
He stormed from his bedroom and found his way into the parlour for a quick drink. "Evangeline." He greeted to the small girl on the couch. She wore her hair in a conservative braid down her back, and her dress was long, and black. She learned at an early age to not cross her grandmother when it came to visiting Azkaban. Eva never knew her grandfather outside of prison, and she wasn't sure she ever wanted to.
"Dad." She said blandly, fiddling with the end of her braid. She once referred to this as her dad's 'dark day,' and it stuck. She never said it allowed to him, but she always knew that this was not a day of hugs or kind words. "Grandmother is not going to be happy if you are hammered in time to visit your father."
Draco scoffed and shrugged, "Then she really shouldn't require me to attend." He downed several shots of fire whiskey and sat next to Eva. "Someday, you may understand."
Narcissa made her entrance wearing a green, high necked dress and a black overcoat. "Talia will meet us there."
"You have got to be joking!" Draco threatened. "Why the bloody hell is she coming?"
Narcissa eyed her son coldly, "She is your wife, Draco. Even if you only act it for once a year, I expect that you make today that once."
"How is it that we are even allowed visits with him anyways? I am pretty sure that Azkaban is meant to completely isolate its prisoners." Draco spat, his normally pale cheeks growing red from the anger and alcohol in his system.
Narcissa did not have any motherly and caring features to her today. "Draco, he is your father, and you will respect him. Besides, I paid a very large sum in order to maintain our visits, and I intend to maintain them."
"Let's go, Evangeline." Draco sulked, "We wouldn't want to keep your mother waiting."
The Malfoys sat in a dimly lit waiting room. Eva played with the ends of her hair out of boredom, "She's late."
Draco was well aware that Talia was late, and it annoyed him.
"We will wait for her, then." Narcissa was calmer than normal. Her greying hair was pulled back in a conservative bun. While her face held pride and dignity, her eyes were sad and tired.
"Mother, let me see if I can get you some tea." Draco offered. Their trips to Azkaban were far from luxurious, but had hope that one of the guards would spare some tea. As Draco stood, Talia made her appearance.
"Sorry I'm late." She sang out cheerfully. Lucius liked Talia, so these visits were always pleasant enough for her. "Draco, dear, your hair is an absolute wreck."
Draco instinctively ran his fingers through his hair before muttering, "good." He couldn't help but act childish.
Talia delicately hugged Eva, kissing her on the cheek, "I'm sorry I missed Christmas, darling. I will make it up to you."
Eva's face remained emotionless, "Where were you?"
Talia looked taken aback.
"Where were you, that was more important than being with your daughter on Christmas?" Eva spat. She had tried to ignore her mother's absence as of late, but missing Christmas felt wrong.
Talia looked embarrassed, "I got the impression your father did not want me there."
Eva scoffed, "This is not about Dad. This is about me."
Narcissa cleared her voice, "They are waiting for us."
Eva sulked away, ignoring Talia's quiet pleads.
Draco stayed behind momentarily, insisting his mother went ahead of him. He turned to the guard, "What would it take to secure a cup of tea for my mother?"
The guard smiled, "I wouldn't be happy with my mum visiting Azkaban, either. So let me take care of that."
Draco nodded with a genuine air of thanks.
The four Malfoys stood in a dark room with cement walls. There was a rectangular table with four chairs on one side and one on the other. There was nothing interesting in the room to visually take in. But Eva always recalled that the room had strong scent of mildew.
"Wands." A guard with a fat face and unkempt eyebrows demanded.
Draco removed his wand from the sleeve of his shirt and handed it to the man. He felt vulnerable without his wand. He reluctantly took his seat between Talia and Evangeline. From an outsider's view, they may have looked like a family, but on the inside, each of them had a strong desire to run as far as they could in the opposite direction.
A small porcelain cup of tea was placed before Narcissa as they waited in silence. She gave a half smile before taking a small sip and daintily coughing.
The door to the room opened and Lucius Malfoy was escorted in wearing thick shackles on his ankles and wrists.
If Draco hadn't known better, he would have thought his father had aged ten years over the past one. It made him wonder if the man he once called father had a run in with a dementor.
"Lucius." Narcissa breathed out. Her smile faded at the sight of his oily hair with grey streaks. His eyes had dark circles under them, and from lines deeply incised his face. His hands were raw from the lack of care.
This time last year, he had looked tired and worn, but not like this. Now he looked like a true prisoner of Azkaban.
The silence may have lasted a mere five seconds, but it felt like eternity. This was the man that Eva had always been told was her grandfather, but had never known him outside this tiny, dark room.
She had never called him "Grandfather." In fact, she had never really referred to him as anything.
Lucius finally spoke, his eyes locked on Draco, "You need a hair cut."
Talia gave a very soft laugh, more of just a heavy breath through her nose, "I told him the very same thing."
Lucius was acting as if he was still the head of the Malfoy name. As if he had some form of leverage on all of them. "I assume Evangeline is succeeding with her course work?"
When her dad called her only Evangeline, it felt more dignified, but when Lucius called her such, it had a hint of manipulation behind it.
"Yes, sir." Eva responded, straightening her posture, "I was sorted into Slytherin."
"And you are associating with the correct type of people?" Lucius drilled her like he used to do to Draco. If Draco had even considered befriending someone that was not a Death Eater's child, he would be reprimanded.
Eva nodded. She was confused as to why her own father began to bump her foot with his own. She gave him a puzzled look before turning back to the man who spoke to her, "I spend my time primarily with Keelee Devode and Shyla-"
Draco coughed loudly over Eva as she said "Granger."
Talia quickly caught on to Draco's attempt to hide that their daughter was friends with a Granger offspring. She smiled maliciously.
Lucius glared at Draco. His son, the traitor. "Quiet, boy." He focused his gaze back on Eva. "Devode is a respectable name. Now, what was the other?"
Eva suddenly realized the error in her words. Shyla's mum was considered a war hero, and Lucius Malfoy was likely to disapprove. "Oh? Shyla? Her last name is…. Graham." It was the first last name that started with a Gr- that she could think of.
Talia tsked at Eva, "Haven't I taught you not to lie?"
Eva's face scrunched in fear, her mother wouldn't. She couldn't.
"The girl's last name is Granger."
Draco winced as if he had been threatened with a belt. He knew Talia despised Hermione, but to do this was simply harsh. Especially to Evangeline.
Lucius' gaze became cold and angry, "You let my granddaughter befriend a Granger?" He looked at Eva with eyes full of hate.
"Lucius…." Narcissa said softly as Lucius continued to belittle Eva, ignoring his wife.
Draco couldn't handle the attacking words on his daughter any longer. The words that he once reserved for Draco when he missed a mark on an exam. Without thinking, he stood, slamming his chair to the ground. "I did not come here to have my child verbally abused. I received enough of that for the next four generations. Evangeline, we are leaving." He turned, his fists clenched at his side. "Mother, I will see you at home."
Draco hadn't said a word since he and Evangeline had arrived home. He sat on a plump couch in the parlour, sipping a scotch from a short glass.
"Dad?" Eva asked gently from across the room.
He looked up, his hair even more disheveled now.
"Dinner is ready. It's coconut-ginger chicken soup." She was hoping his favorite soup would lighten the mood that lingered in the manor.
Draco gave a small smile, "Let's eat in here."
Eva's eyes became large with surprise, "On the couch?!"
Draco nodded mischievously.
"But what if we spill?"
Draco laughed, "Merlin, I am a wizard after all! If I can't clean up a little spilled soup, I have no right teaching at Hogwarts!"
Eva smiled, her mother would have punished them both if she saw what they were about to do.
The soup was poured over a bed of white rice and served with a garnish of basil. The two slurped at the soup in a very undistinguished manner. It was almost fun.
"I am sorry you had to deal with all of that today." Draco said suddenly.
Eva shrugged, "I realize he probably doesn't like Shyla's mum because of the war."
"That," Draco agreed, "and she is a muggle born." He sighed before continuing, "Mudblood may be a slur thrown around at school now, but fifteen years ago, it had a much crueler meaning behind it."
Eva looked at him in confusion. Not necessarily because she didn't know what a 'mudblood' was, but because he was telling her this at all.
"Back then, it had more connotation that if your blood was not pure, you did not have the right to attend Hogwarts. But add to that, they are muggle borns with no magical lineage, and that made them much less desirable to those who considered themselves elite." Draco explained in a fatherly manner, setting down his bowl. "It was a way of telling someone that they were worthless and that they didn't belong in the wizarding world, or the muggle world."
Eva nodded, understanding what he was saying. That must have been why Shyla got in so much trouble at Parents' Day. To them, it just meant someone who was muggle born. Nothing more. Nobody ever questioned why it was an insult to call someone such, it just was.
"I know I have never talked much about the wizarding war." Draco frowned.
"Nobody does. They just assume we know." Eva responded quietly.
Draco sighed, "It feels so incredibly recent for many of us. My position in the war is why your grandfather despises me so much." He momentarily considered how much he should share with his young daughter before continuing, "I was a part of the Order of the Phoenix." He nearly laughed saying it aloud.
Eva's eyes grew large. She at least knew the Malfoys were associated with being Death Eaters. But never that her father switched sides. "What?" She finally spat.
Draco stood in the dining hall of the Malfoy Manor. It was dark and had a sickening odor of death. While his face was cold and unemotional, his stomach was turning. These days, he was constantly resisting the urge to throw up. But that would have been considered a sign of being weak. Something he could not allow.
Snape had spent a great deal of time training Draco to protect his thoughts, and to project fake ones. Yet, Draco still didn't trust himself to admit he was terrified.
Voldemort sat at the head of the table, twirling his wand between his skeletal fingers. A disfigured house elf was splayed in front of him, with blood trickling from it's limp mouth. This was the last elf at the manor.
Lobbles had always been nice to Draco, even when he threw his childish tantrums. Seeing his lifeless body on the dining table made Draco grit his teeth.
Bellatrix giggled maniacally across the table.
"Hush!" Voldemort demanded. "Narcissa, you will now do the cleaning and cooking. Consider this repayment for raising such an incompetent son. The son who couldn't even complete such a menial task as killing an old man."
Draco fought back the anger of this wizard making his mother his slave. A slave in her own home.
When permitted, Draco worked as Snape's right hand student by turning in those who spoke out against the dark lord.
He knew he couldn't continue supporting the present situation of the abuse towards his mother. The night prior, he had walked in on her sobbing. A fresh red mark across her cheek. She had screamed at him to leave.
They were both being punished based on the actions of the other. When Draco made a mistake, Narcissa paid for it. And when Narcissa showed any sign of weakness, Draco was assigned a more dangerous task.
It was two days later when Snape had requested Draco to join him in the Headmaster's office. Draco was sure it was for a new task assignment. Never mind his studies or that the quidditch season had been canceled. Draco was Snape's personal spy.
"Sir?" Draco asked entering the room. It showed no sign that Dumbledore had ever resided there.
"Close the door." Snape ordered, placing sheets over the paintings in the room. Then, without saying a word, he cast a silencing charm on the room, in case of eavesdropping students. "Sit." He finally said.
Draco obliged, remaining silent. He had noticed Snape's gaze penetrating his. He was trying to read his thoughts. Draco fought back, closing door after door.
Yet, Snape knew Draco's weakness when it came to legilimency. It had once been thoughts of his mother, but that was too easy for the dark lord to penetrate. Now it had to be more specific. Draco had tried to block his mind to where nobody could enter regardless of the context they had; Snape had always managed to find that weakness, though. His weakness now was the first time he had crossed paths with Voldemort. That night in the Forbidden Forest in his first year. It was terrifying, and he remembered never wanting to cross paths with whatever it was he saw. But now it was controlling his life. That creature that drank the blood of a unicorn was telling him what to do, and how to do it.
Draco unwillingly allowed Snape to enter his thoughts.
Snape's face remained emotionless as he learned Draco's true thoughts, and how the boy did not want to fight for The Dark Lord.
Draco winced, awaiting a punishment that wouldn't come.
"There's a way out." Snape's voice filled his mind.
"How?" Draco thought.
"The Order of the Phoenix."
Draco hadn't dared to tell his young daughter the pain and horror he had been put through. She was too young, and even if she was thirty years old, he would still view them as things his daughter should never hear.
Eva's face scrunched in thought, "If you hadn't joined the Order, would you have also been sent to Azkaban?"
Draco frowned, "It's likely. All known Death Eaters were imprisoned." He didn't like thinking about that. Even if it had crossed his mind.
Draco heard a pop from the fireplace. Talia was home. He glanced at the clock, which read that it was after midnight. "We need to talk." He announced as Talia snuck past the parlour. He had been sitting in a wingback chair by the fire, sipping a fire whiskey. The room would have been dark if it wasn't for the flickering fire next to him.
"I suppose we do." Talia admitted as she stopped in her tracks. She turned to him and frowned.
Draco didn't move from his chair, he just watched Talia in silence. Finally, she crossed the room and sat on the couch, facing him at an angle. She wore a different dress than the one she had worn to Azkaban. Something told Draco she had been visiting her male friend that she never spoke of. He was the one to finally speak, yet his voice remained hushed, "Why would you place Evangeline in that position?"
Talia gave an unlady like shrug, "Do you think I like that she is friends with the Granger brat?"
He stared at her blankly, "They are children."
Talia laughed, her voice was cold, "The moment they became friends, Hermione Granger came into our lives." She clenched her teeth, "Parents' Day?"
Draco fought the urge to scoff at the woman before him. "What is behind this hatred of Granger? Even Pansy Parkinson of all people has learned to let go of the past."
"Have you?" Talia's voice raised in anger. "Have you let go of the past?"
"What?" Draco was genuinely confused, yet his face didn't show it.
"I am your wife!"
"Hardly…" Draco muttered under his breath. Talia had barely heard him. "Besides, what does this have to do with Granger and I being friends?"
"Friends? Is that what you are calling it?"
Draco instinctively placed a charm on the room. He had always tried to protect Evangeline from hearing what was said between them. "I don't know what you are getting at, but did we not mutually decide four years ago to see other people at will? That we would stay married for face and for Evangeline?"
"I don't care who you see, just not her." Talia begged, tears filling her eyes.
"Who says I'm seeing Granger?" Draco tested.
"Do you think I am completely blind? I have seen the way you look at her." Talia began to sob, tears flowing from her eyes and down her cheeks. "You never looked at me like that. For years, I listened to you mutter her name. Every night, Draco. Occasionally you would wake in a panic, begging to know where she was. I have always been second to Granger."
Draco stared at her as if she had gone mad, "What are you talking about?"
"Why don't you ever remember?" Talia shouted through her tears. Draco was glad he had already protected the room from prying ears.
They sat next to the fire, the only sound being Talia's gasps between sobs.
Draco focused his gaze into his glass, swirling the golden amber liquid with light motions of his wrist. "I'm sorry." He finally said.
Talia wiped the tears off her cheeks, smearing makeup. She either didn't notice, or didn't care. "I tried to be okay with being second, I really did. I knew before Eva was conceived that you didn't love me. I knew you never could."
Draco frowned, "Granger and I dated, if you can call it that, during the war. We kept it secret, nobody knew. Maybe Potter and Weasley, but we pretended they didn't." Draco admitted, his hair falling into his eyes. He had told Talia his part in the war, but only once, and they had never spoken of it again."Somehow, after the war, I ended up back here in the Manor. Hermione was presumed dead. I swore my memories of her would remain my own." He stared into the fire, it seemed cruel to look at Talia now. "I met you a month later, at Zabini's party. I never meant to hurt you."
Talia finally spoke, breaking the silence that was beginning to linger, "If you had known, or even thought she was alive, would you have gone after?"
"Yes." Draco admitted with no hesitation. "I tried to find her. Nobody had reported her as actually dead. I thought if only I could find her, everything would be okay." Draco felt a lump rising in his throat, "But I couldn't. She was completely unreachable."
Talia frowned, but this time it was for Draco. She had never understood the depth of his caring for Granger. She knew he cared for her, but never to that extent. "Why didn't you go for her when we all found out she really was alive?"
Draco sighed. So many times, he had wanted to. So many times, he almost had. "It had been a year by then. Evangeline was born, and it was all over the media that she had a daughter of her own. It was easier to stay away. Even when I would catch a glimpse of her at the Ministry, she looked happy. I couldn't ruin the happiness she had found."
They sat in silence, neither sure what to say next.
Talia allowed a tear to fall down her cheek, "When did you realize you still loved her?"
Draco stared at Talia. It was unlike her to ask such revealing questions. But this time, she had been right all along. "Parents' Day."
The tears began again, and Talia sobbed into her hand. She had loved Draco in a way that she had to. He was the father of her only child.
She had known he was broken when she approached him at Zabini's party. Blaise had been throwing parties to forget the war and to, if only for one night, enjoy life again. Her friends had dared her to go to him. After a few drinks, she had agreed. She had ignored Pansy's warnings to just walk away, and pursued the blond haired boy before her.
One thing had led to another, even if Talia wasn't really sure how, and they ended up alone together in a spare bedroom of Zabini's house. It not been Talia's first time by far, as this was not her first party hosted by Blaise Zabini himself. The entire time, Draco had not said a word. When the act was done, he had rolled onto his side and begin to quietly cry. Talia hadn't known what to do, and being young herself, she walked away, leaving him to cry in a darkened room.
"Is there any chance left for us?" Talia finally asked, her memories leaving her feeling ill.
"Honestly?" Draco asked, "Based on the circumstances, I don't think we had a chance of ever surviving. Our parents forced us into this marriage."
When Talia had realized she had become pregnant from their encounter, her parents looked at it as a way of paying off their debt to the Malfoy family. She would be his wife, and provide him with an heir to the Malfoy name. Narcissa had completely agreed. If it had not been for their persistence, it was unlikely that she would have married Draco.
Their ceremony had been completely private, and rumored as an elopement of 'young love.' The Daily Prophet loved the story of there being light at the end of the war.
"I don't want to try again." Talia finally admitted.
"Neither do I."