1) If you've read my 'Broken Chalice of Patience' forget anything I wrote about Terence Higgs, I basically made him up by just using the name for my own purposes in that story. HP lexicon says that he was born circa 1975, was in Slytherin during early 1990s (possibly 1986-92) and a Quidditch Seeker 1991-92 school year, replaced by Draco the following school year. So I'm going with this and giving him a very powerful pureblood family.
2) The name of Mrs Macatta is used in the memory of Agatha Christie, who had a minor character by the same name in The Seven Dials Mystery. It's not a very well known novel, probably because it doesn't have Monseigneur Poirot or Ms Marple in it, but it certainly is my favourite.
3) I've named one of the Malfoy elves Bernard, but I think I've read it somewhere else. If you know where and who thought of it first, please remind me. I just liked the idea of the head elf having a manly name instead of those silly ones elves usually have.
4) I'm not sure about the authorship of the quote of chapter 5. One site said it belonged to Stephen P. Ziniti, but most pages never mention anyone at all and I couldn't really find out if that Zinti guy is in any way famous. In the end, I decided that the one source was wrong, and that the author of the saying is unknown. If I'm wrong, set me right. :)
Chapter notes: Thank you so much for help, Lisa and Ness Frost for betaing! You're the best. (The sentence, where the chair kicking happens, is added by Lisa.)
Saying nothing... sometimes says the most.
August 24th, 2004
"I'm pregnant," I say when we sit down to eat.
Meals are always quiet affairs in our household, just like everything else, and I try to blend in. My unruly locks are tightened into a sensible bun, but I refuse to do anything about the colour. I know it annoys Draco by the way he sometimes looks at it.
My husband seems to be ignoring the announcement, but by now I know him well enough to tell that he's shocked. He is thinking of how to react; it's what he does. He has grown out of his wham-bang mentality and not once during our eight months of marriage have I seen him throw a fit like he used to in school. Even when it's me that's being unreasonable. It's weird. Sometimes I think I've married a block of ice.
"Did you hear what I said?"
I know he doesn't want red-headed Weasley children, but I'm not having an abortion. I'm not having an abortion. I'm not having an abortion. I don't care what Master Icicle thinks. I'm not having-
"You are not having an abortion," he says calmly as ever, but his words are hard and authoritative. I bang my hand on the table.
"What do you mean, I'm not having an abortion?" I shout. "It's my body and my life! I'm not having your child!"
I know I'm not being very sensible. I blame hormones. Draco takes a napkin and presses it daintily to his lips, like a dandy at a soiree, but I know it's one of his anger management techniques.
"You are not having an abortion," he repeats quietly.
I kick back the chair as I stand and storm up to my rooms.
I want children. I do. But I've also always wanted a happily ever after with Harry. And I don't exactly hate Draco. Considering he didn't really choose me either, he has been surprisingly decent to me. Even when he's vindictive, it's mostly a habit that I can crack a joke at. It's not always so difficult to defuse the situation. Now, though, we're having this cold war that I just know I can't win. War of silent reprimands.
I hate the silence even more than his 'let's be adults about it' voice, which drives me nuts. I wish he'd just yell at me and get it over with, but I'm the only one who raises voice in this house. It's almost like a contest of who can get the other one to shout first, except I'm the only one who's competing.
On the third day of the battle I tell him that I've decided to keep the baby. (Not that I even knew where to find a Healer who'd preform such a procedure – for a pureblood couple it's against the law.) Expecting to see gloating, I'm surprised when his shoulders sag in relief. Later when I go upstairs there's a pale pink rose on my pillow. It's a thank you, but it's also an invitation that I'm too tired to accept. I never go to his rooms when I'm having a period, so it wouldn't be unheard of for me to decline today, either.
August 29th, 2004
"Don't call me that," he says quietly but with force.
It started with a simple comment I made about an article in the prophet, and Draco of course, being male, felt the need to share his infuriatingly rational explanation for the world poverty. I kind of agreed with him at first, but then somehow, we ended up talking about the Death Eaters and it went out of hand.
"I'm just saying." I shrug, although I know I'm being vindictive. "You know, a spade's a spade, a Death Eater's a-"
"A Weasley's a Weasley. Yes, I can see that."
His lips are in a hard line but he's nowhere near to blowing his top and I let him be for the evening. I spend my time in the winter garden doing the Charity paperwork and feeling guilty. I had to bring work home today because a trainee had turned her project in too late and as a supervisor, I wanted to look it over before letting her hand it over to the boss. I used to hate working at home, but now, living in this mausoleum I do that quite often.
I put the document down and sigh. It's no use reading; I can't concentrate. Perhaps an apology is in order, but when was the last time he apologised? He will realise that I didn't mean it when he calms down. I know there is a difference between Draco and his father, of course I do.
The people who have over time taken all the important posts in the Ministry don't call themselves Death Eaters nowadays. The Pureblood Society for a Better Britain has declared the whole 'Voldemort-phase' to have been a mistake and it's all just politics. So of course the Carrows, the Lestranges, Lucius Malfoy and a number of other more vicious Death Eaters are still convicted criminals and fugitives by default, but everyone knows that they were just allowed to relocate to their tropical islands, or where ever else they wanted to retire. The Death Eaters in power now are all quiet idealists who had no guts to fight before, but have the brains to make and enforce laws that give purebloods all the rights and privileges they have ever dreamed of. It's Draco's dream come true.
The country is ruled by the Minister Terence Higgs, a pureblood from an old powerful family. He too, was in Slytherin, but some years before us, I think. Theodore Nott is his right-hand man (Foreign Secretary), and Draco (Home Secretary) is the left, so to speak. Officially there are other Secretaries of State who should all be of equal power, but it doesn't really work that way. There are the arse kissers and there are 'kissees'. Draco is one of the latter. How exactly Draco Malfoy managed to get his position I can only guess, but somehow during the short few months of the total turnabout in England's political scene, he was right there every day: in the papers, at the memorial openings, meeting foreign officials, cutting ribbons, kissing orphaned babies, and so on and so forth.
Anyway, for all the power Draco has as a Home Secretary, none of it has saved him from the unwanted marriage either. When the Marriage Law first came into force, I thought it was a joke that no one would be taking seriously, but then the mass arrests and deporting started (legal or illegal no one even knew) and people fell in line. The idea, as explained, was that the purebloods with fertility problems were encouraged to marry those who had no problems procreating. If one chose to marry someone 'inadvisable' heavy fines had to be paid, and those refusing the government-approved suitors might even face jail time. Most people were too scared to try the difficult route. Some people left England in hopes that their families would be left alone. Sometimes they were.
Funny how with all the new privileges the purebloods gained, they totally lost control over who they marry. You'd think that the elite would have cried out in outrage, but over the generations they seem to have developed different coping techniques. Money started changing vaults even more rapidly and 'political influence' was thrown around as never before.
And, of course, not for a moment had I thought that the silly law could have any impact on my life. What I didn't realise then was that the law would also be used to keep those pureblood families that might start causing problems in line. Of course the only Weasley daughter had to be married off to one of the top dogs. (All my brothers, with exception of Charlie who's still living abroad, got lucky by being already engaged or married by the time the law was passed.)
Draco has never said it like that, but I know that he received his 'marching orders' straight after the law was passed or maybe even beforehand. When I first got the Ministry sealed proposal, I laughed. It was just so ridiculous, but by then I already knew that refusing such a proposal would be treated as harshly as treason. Nevertheless, I had every intention of refusing, but then Harry... I don't want to think about that now.
It's midnight and I ask a House Elf if Draco has turned in yet. Just as I thought, he's still in his study, so I head there.
Draco's sitting on his beloved 'throne' (I think it was his father's or even grandfather's) behind his desk. He looks utterly unapproachable, but as a Gryffindor and a Weasley I don't let it bother me. I squeeze myself between him and the desk, perching my lovely derrière on his lap. He looks at me and my pale grey nightgown, his eyes surprised. The first tiny kiss on his jaw doesn't have much effect but after the third one Draco's important work is forgotten. It's already morning when I realise that I've forgotten to take a peek at his papers.
September 18th, 2004
We have a function to attend this evening. I feel tired, but I'm not in the habit of admitting weakness to my husband, so when he knocks on my door, I step out. He looks as perfect as always.
"You look lovely."
I don't answer, since we are not talking. His colourless, polite words don't count as talking, so I just take the offered arm and we head off.
We had a row after supper yesterday. Or rather, I ranted at a rock that just went even more rigid and then I left to sleep. He's been very tolerant towards my mood swings since I told him about the baby, and it drives me absolutely bonkers.
I glance into the hall's mirror as we start the descent from the master staircase. Did I say he looks perfect? He doesn't. He's not even handsome or tall. And there's this birthmark near his left temple that I know he doesn't like (Ron over-heard something in Quidditch changing rooms a hundred years ago at Hogwarts).
His hair is too long again. I know it irritates the hell out of him (he told me so, when I asked why he visited the barber every two weeks). It brushes his collar and he has a habit of scratching his neck when he forgets himself. The longer cut actually suits Draco better but I don't tell him that either, just to be contrary. Or maybe I should, just to annoy him.
Draco's a meticulous person; him skipping the barber must mean he's under more stress at work than usual. No wonder, tensions are running high, I think that the underground movement is planning an uprising. They don't tell me anything, just in case. We don't know if Draco is a Legilimens or not, though I'd vote not.
Suddenly there's a sharp, unbearable pain in my belly and I almost fall. I can see Draco's lips move, but his words are just noise in my ears. Vaguely I register Draco gathering me into his arms and Apparating to the hospital, but I already know it's too late.
I don't get out of bed for three days and for the most part Mum is with me. I'm grateful that just as always, Draco has stayed away from my rooms. He held me when I first started crying, but left when I asked for Mum. I know he's uncomfortable with tears. He probably cast a silencing spell on the door too; I'm pretty sure my crying would have been heard into his adjoining bedroom. Or maybe Mum did it. She's still not totally reconciled herself to the idea of me marrying 'that terrible Death Eater'. She wouldn't call him that to his face (not any more, anyway), but she would want some privacy while here.
Mum is good to me like only mums know how and it helps. I finally leave the room after a week while alone at the Manor. Draco's at work as usual. Quietly, I open his study door. I just want to have one more go at discovering the secret door I know must be somewhere in Draco's office, although I'm useless at spying. Sneaking down here has just turned into something comforting by now. Familiar.
I know I'm supposed to be our 'man' behind the enemy lines, but it's like with diplomats. The other side knows you're a spy, so how can you spy? All the documents I've managed to get my hands on have turned out to be unimportant. Draco doesn't trust me and can anyone blame him? It would take years to earn his trust and that's only if I managed not to aggravate him on every turn.
The thought of what I could find if he let me makes me shudder. Don't get me wrong, I don't think he's doing anything really terrible like his father, but these days you don't become a Secretary of State by being an honourable man. And then there are times I get him so furious I think he wants to hit me. It hasn't happened yet.
His office chair is comfy. I only leave it when I think he might be home soon.
We went to Egypt and France for our honeymoon. (Was it really just nine months ago?) I cried for the first week and Draco let me be. Then we went sightseeing and we got on pretty well by avoiding all the touchy subjects. The thing I was afraid of the most – sex – was actually the easiest part. Draco turned out to be a pleasant and skilled lover. The physical closeness made us appreciate each other better and I think we even liked each other at some point. Those were the good times.
It doesn't help that Draco's very authoritative. He knows how he likes things and I just have to abide by him. In case you were wondering – I don't. Abide by his wishes, that is. I'm my own woman and it drives him absolutely spare, which suits me well, since he drives me spare too.
Late October, 2003
After a deep breath, the exasperated man informs me, "This is only a preliminary session, Ms Weasley. Next week we'll need a final fitting, and then in a month, we'll need another session. I'm not even going mention the spring wardrobe right now. You cannot be wearing any of these dresses more than once, can you?"
I quirk an eyebrow and try to share my amusement with my husband-to-be, but Draco seems to be so immersed in his important-looking documents, that he hardly even notices anything else around him. I wonder why he's in the room at all.
"Why ever not?" I ask, putting on my best naïve-country-girl-look.
The stylist sputters again and although Draco still seems to be reading, I don't miss the faint smirk on his lips.
I'm being equipped for being a Malfoy bride. This is apparently a high-profile task which needs a professional touch, so Draco got me a stylist. What a great way to tell a girl that he likes her just the way she is! All in all, I think I'm being a pretty good sport about all the proceedings. Even when Draco suddenly raises his head and utters, "The other one's better," and the shop girls rush to remove the offending item, I just roll my eyes.
It's only when the hairdresser asks Draco what style I should be going for that I decide I've had enough.
"Shouldn't you be asking me about this?"
Draco ignores me. He simply turns to the hairdresser and says "long" before leaving the room.
In the end, I get what I want, but only because it doesn't contradict the boss's instructions. I'd get it all cut off just to spite him, but I don't really want to, so Draco has this small victory.
Mid January, 2004
After the honeymoon's beautiful scenery and sights, real life is less colourful. My husband and I only meet during meals and at the boring social functions we are required to attend.
"What a lovely little dress you have, my dear," an old spinster says while trying to fake a cordial smile.
"Thank you, Mrs Benjamin." I fake the smile just as well, so neither of us is in doubt as to where we stand with each other. "I hope you're having a nice evening."
"Yes, I am. Thank you, dear," she says and we drift apart.
It is not the most unpleasant exchange I have during the course of the evening, neither is it the most boring. When Draco was invited to one of these typical upper-class dinners, he had no choice but to bring the wife. I'm not sure which of us hates the evening more.
First, Draco and I circle the room as a couple, then for the actual dinner we are seated as far away from each other as possible (which results in a starved-looking wizard with a ridiculous perm hitting on me). After that, the men leave and I'm left to chit-chat with a roomful of female piranhas. Though it does have its entertainment value, up to a point.
The third prize for the most inane conversation I have that evening goes to the perm-guy who manages to whisper to me between soup and duck, "You see that pimply waiter across from us? He's actually an ex-Azzy. I heard that he got caught stealing meat from the market. He said it was for his starving siblings. Ha! Like that's even believable! He was a half-blood, of course."
The second prize would have to go to Daphne Greengrass with her, "They say that Mrs Macatta has fake teeth, have you heard?"
The first prize, though, goes undoubtedly to Pansy Parkinson-Goyle. I'm just moving past a wall-size mirror towards the loo when she, apparently forgetting any class she is supposed to have, gives me a 'psst' from between two potted plants and then hisses, "Your dress is tacky and Draco and you deserve each other!" She's gone before my brain even starts to process what I just heard. I cannot be sure one hundred percent, but I really hope that Parkinson's drunk. I really hope so. Otherwise she's even more pathetic than I thought.
The next second, though, I forget all about it, because I see Draco looking my way from the other side of the room. Only he's not looking at me, he's looking at Astoria Greengrass just a bit to my left. He's near enough that I can clearly see the intense regret and sadness in his eyes. It's so different from the sharp bitterness and hopelessness I sometimes spot in Draco's eyes when he directs his gaze at me, it hurts.
No wonder he disapproves of how I look. The beauty and grace displayed by Astoria could never be matched by someone like me. It's a shame Greengrasses are as infertile as Malfoys. The memory of that look haunts me for days.
September 29th, 2004
"I'm sorry about the baby," Draco says politely one morning, as if talking about a nasty case of flu.
His words startle me as much as the tone; it's been almost three weeks since the miscarriage and I've been avoiding him except for dinners at home that he misses half the time anyway. I suppose he's at work, but even if he spent this time with a lover, I couldn't care less.
"It happened several times for my mother too," he continues despite my silence.
"And it makes you the expert how?" I bite back.
He draws a deep breath before speaking. "It doesn't. But I know it must be hard for you."
"Sorry," I finally reply just to say something. And it's possible that I actually feel a tiny twinge of guilt for snapping at him.
He nods and continues, "I know you never wanted my children. That's fine. I never imagined my life turning out like this either."
He's so calm and detached, I could hit him. If only he knew why I really agreed to marry him! Sometimes I daydream about telling Draco how it was all Harry's idea just to see his reaction. It wouldn't be the complete truth though. But I don't really want to think about that right now. The thought still makes my insides burn, however sternly I tell myself that I'm over it. I am. I must be.