The Hum of Mighty Workings
Great spirits now on earth are sojourning;
He of the cloud, the cataract, the lake,
Who on Helvellyn's summit, wide awake,
Catches his freshness from Archangel's wing:
He of the rose, the violet, the spring.
The social smile, the chain for Freedom's sake:
And lo!-whose steadfastness would never take
A meaner sound than Raphael's whispering.
And other spirits there are standing apart
Upon the forehead of the age to come;
These, these will give the world another heart,
And other pulses. Hear ye not the hum
Of mighty workings?-
Listen awhile ye nations, and be dumb.
- John Keats
The wards tingled, signaling his guest's arrival. Draco took one last look in the mirror above his sink. The bags beneath his eyes were a bit better today, but nothing aside from a glamour could cover the gaunt, drawn quality to his face. And he'd never been very good at glamour charms.
He sighed and knotted his smart black tie. Blaise wouldn't mind waiting. Narcissa would no doubt play excellent hostess with Lucius' fine elf-made wine.
And in fact, when he finally descended the stairs to the foyer, he found just that. Blaise leaned casually against the marble mantel, long fingers wrapped around a goblet of blood-red wine. The sleeves of his grey oxford were rolled, and his dark skin was a stark contrast to the white surroundings. He was smiling widely, and Narcissa was laughing.
The sound gave Draco pause. He couldn't remember the last time he'd heard his mother laugh like that.
When he entered the room, she sobered. "Draco."
His lips tightened. "Mother. Blaise."
Blaise was quick to extend his hand and Draco took it. "Good to see you, Drake. It's been too long."
Draco nodded. Something was immediately off. A small part of him hated the nickname Blaise had always insisted upon using. And there was the blasé demeanor... Draco had taken quite a bit of care in preparing for his old friend's visit, making certain he looked just right despite how wrong everything was. And yet, Blaise looked as though Malfoy Manor was just the final stop on his back-slapping rounds. How could he be so easy? "We've been…very busy," Draco intoned somberly.
Blaise's smile evaporated. "Right. Well." He gestured awkwardly to Narcissa, who sat quietly on the settee. "Your beautiful mother has been most kind to me."
"Yes, I'm certain." Blaise's glance at Narcissa's cleavage did not go unnoticed. Draco gestured into the corridor. "Shall we walk?"
Blaise blinked. "Of course." He bowed to Narcissa, who smiled again and blushed just ever so slightly. Draco found he didn't much care for it. "Will the charming lady of the manor be joining us?" Blaise further ruffled Draco's feathers with the smarmy question.
"No," Draco answered simply. His mother's eyes downcast and Draco felt strangely angry at Blaise – as if his old friend had disappointed her somehow.
Quietly, the two young men walked to the lake at the edge of the sprawling property. They'd played there as children, riding their brooms over the shimmering surface. As pre-teens, they'd filched Lucius' firewhiskey and blasted toads in the moonlight. And as post-teens, they'd sneaked here to smoke the magical marijuana Blaise's uncle sent from Italy and skinny dipped high as hell.
We used to be so careless, Draco thought. He dropped onto the stone bench beneath a massive weeping willow.
Blaise sat beside him almost warily. "You alright, Draco?"
Draco took up a twig and began picking at it absently. "I'm fine. Just remembering what we used to do when we came here."
"Yeah?" Blaise reached into a pocket and withdrew a palm-sized velvet pouch. "You mean, like this?"
A grin broke out on Draco's face and he shook his head. "Is that what I think it is?"
"Uncle Alberto's lusty leaf, mate!" Blaise nudged him, jostling. "Shall I roll us a joint?" But he was already crumbling the glorious green into a self-rolling paper.
"Oh, alright," Draco murmured. "Let's blaze." They laughed at the old joke. Two hits later, Draco was passing. He hadn't smoked in two years, and the potent plant was getting to him.
"Out of practice?" Blaise asked. Draco nodded. "Happens." Blaise pocketed the pouch and toked once more on the tight cigarette. "You think about your dad a lot?" Draco nodded. Blaise sighed. "Rough business, that. Life sentence. Almost better if he'd gotten the kiss, you know?" Then he stiffened suddenly. "I don't mean anything by that, Drake. Just saying… Bugger. I don't know what I'm saying."
"No, I know. And you're right." Draco rubbed his hands together, explaining. "At least if he was dead, my mother and I could feel…free, I guess. This way, we're just sort of stuck in limbo. Knowing he's never coming home, that we'll never see him again."
Blaise flicked the joint's end into the lake. "I feel just awful for your mum. She's such a young witch still, you know? And a real beauty, too." Draco tensed despite his drug-induced lassitude. He wasn't certain he cared for Blaise's turn of phrase. "I mean, don't take this the wrong way, mate... But if your mum were to get...you know...lonely, I wouldn't mind keeping her company." Blaise nudged Draco's ribs (again) none too gently with his elbow. "Eh?"
No. Draco knew quite suddenly - and quite passionately - that he didn't care for Blaise's turn of phrase full stop. He stood abruptly. "That's my mum, Blaise."
"Oh, come on." Blaise grinned up at him. "Even you have to admit she's a tidy bird, Draco. And the way she smiled at me today... I think that bed's a bit cold, you know?"
Draco's wand slid from his sleeve and to his hand before Blaise could blink. "You take liberties in your speech, Blaise," he growled.
Blaise blinked slow surprise. He raised his hands in alarmed surrender. "Draco! I meant no harm! Merlin's beard! You should be flattered to have a fit witch for a mum!"
The continued and indeed most conscious offensive tongue incensed the Malfoy male. It seemed only the violent sound - the sudden and fulfilling contact - of his fist connecting with Blaise's insolent cheek could satisfy his surprising fury.
Blaise reeled off the stone bench under Draco's blow. But he was as scrappy as the Malfoy boy if not moreso, the product of four older brothers (each from a different marriage), and he came up swinging. Draco took a paring shot to the rib, spun away just at the right moment. When Blaise corrected, he'd drawn his own wand.
"Draco, for fuck's sake! I don't want to duel you!"
"No, you just want to shag my mum and laugh at my dad! Expelliarmus!"
"Ow!" Blaise rubbed his hand where Draco's forceful spell singed it. His wand thunked against the willow nearby, rolled to a stop a few feet away. "Dammit, Draco! I think you're mad at the wrong person here!" Seeing Draco raise his wand to cast again, Blaise tackled him. He wrestled Draco's wand arm to the ground, hissing when Draco shoved at his face.
"Geroff me, you twat!" Draco bucked his wiry opponent off, but not before Blaise managed to take an awkward hold on his wrist. A snap was heard when Blaise slid perilously close to the lake, and Draco howled at the searing pain. "Fuck!" He swung blindly, distracted by pain, but connected out of sheer luck.
Blaise doubled at the gut shot, lost balance and tumbled into the lake. He grappled with Draco's shirt, gripping the blonde and bringing him along into the drink. Righted, spluttering and furious, the young wizards resumed their squabble. Blaise landed a punch at last - thanks to Draco's cracked wrist - and lunged for his wand beneath the tree.
Draco, undeterred by the gush of blood from his nose, leapt onto Blaise's sodden back. Their feet and legs tangled in the gnarled tree roots extending into the lake. They fell, tearing attire and scraping limbs on limbs. Draco became the most mired, one foot trapped in a root and the other sucked in my sludge. Blaise took full advantage of his fellow Slytherin's predicament and delivered a return blow to the stomach. Draco bent, clutching his belly with his injured wrist, his other arm steadying him against the slippery lake bottom.
But he was hardly beaten. Mustering his strength and dignity, he launched himself forward - ignored the tearing feeling in his caught ankle - and planted his head and shoulder in Blaise's midsection. They splashed again into the now murky water. Draco spat blood and water into Blaise's face. "Fuck you, Blaise! You always thought you were better than me. Always tried to be better than me. Well, now you are. Happy?"
Blaise grinned wryly past a burst lip. "Maybe I am, Draco. And maybe I don't feel bad for you or your coward of a father or your slag of a mum. Maybe I feel like you finally got what you had coming to you -"
His words were muffled by the sickening crunch of Draco's forehead crashing into his nose.
"DRACO ABRAXAS CYGNUS MALFOY!"
The wizards froze at the forceful feminine voice drawing closer. Obviously their shouts had been loud enough to draw his mother's attention. In the stunned silence was the dripping of water from their clothes and blood from their faces. Draco let go the front of Blaise's shirt, dropping the darker boy gracelessly into the water. "Mother." He panted as he stood at attention. Tried to extract his tangled foot with aplomb. He succeeded in falling back into the water on his arse.
Narcissa stood at the edge of the lake, gobsmacked. Genuinely gobsmacked. One hand over her open mouth and the other holding her wand aloft, ready for...whatever. Her pale skin was flushed, soft silver frock mussed from her obvious rush across the grounds. "Motherfucking Merlin..." She murmured.
Even Draco was surprised to hear such an euphemism from her proper lips.
"What... What in the name of the sweet goddess happened here?" She gestured roughly to the two wizards and the wide neck of her frock slipped over one shoulder, baring it.
Blaise was quicker to his feet. He cleared his throat and had the decency to bow his head. "Bit of a disagreement, Mrs. Malfoy. I apologize."
"Disagreement?!" Her lovely blue eyes widened at the understatement. "I can't imagine what could have..." She spied Blaise's wand beneath the willow. "Draco. Where's your wand?"
Draco, righted and freed from the constricting roots at last, shrugged. His lip hurt when he spoke and he winced. "I've lost it." He tasted blood and snot leaking from his nose.
Narcissa's nostrils flared. "I see. Accio Draco's wand!" She raised an empty hand and his wand sluiced from the lake and into her palm with a slap. She regarded the wizards balefully. "I don't even know where to begin with either of you. Draco...come out of there, please."
Head lowered shamefully, Draco climbed sopping from the lake. Blaise followed him. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Malfoy." His dark eyes cut to Draco's. Draco's cut back warningly. "I think... I should probably go home now."
Narcissa's eyes raked over Blaise as if scanning for anything serious. "Perhaps you should, Mr. Zabini. I... I hardly know what to say. Or think at the moment. I do hope you and my son can... put to rest whatever disagreement brought to you such violence today." She looked to her shivering son. "Friends are...few for the Malfoys right now."
Draco looked down. Blaise swallowed. Gathering his wand, he turned to Draco with a stiff formality. "I... I apologize, Draco."
Draco nodded. Narcissa stared at him, narrowed her eyes expectantly. "Me, too Blaise." He spoke reluctantly.
Blaise gave a curt bow. "Perhaps we can talk soon, Draco. After my jaw heals, of course." His attempt at humor relaxed Draco's shoulders slightly and the blonde nodded. With a final nod to Narcissa, Blaise headed toward their manor and no doubt their floo.
Narcissa blinked at her son after the other wizard's departure. "Draco..." She whispered helplessly.
"Don't." He held up a wet, bleeding hand. "Just...don't."
But she approached him anyway, tucked his wand and hers into her skirt. "Let me see you." He hissed when she took his broken wrist. She tisked. "Gods, son. Come on. Let's clean you up and I'll see to you properly."
He limped a little and she steadied him back home. He watched water marks spread from his arm across her frock. He saw a few drops of blood there, too. "I'm sorry, mum," he said softly.
She shook her head, wrapped his arm around her shoulders to help him up the many stairs to the sunny second floor landing. "To your loo," she said. "A hot bath will be good for you. And I need a good look at your arm and ankle."
Narcissa started a hot, steamy spray in his marble garden tub. Draco groaned when he sat on the edge. Took a few deep breaths before helping his mother remove his destroyed jacket, tie and shirt. She pulled her wand and began whispering spells over various cuts and bruises. "Do you want to tell me what this was all about?"
He leaned his injured arm on his knee. He could smell the warm cooked sugar smell of her hair. "He said some things..."
"This will hurt." She prepared him gently, then whispered the spell. There was a crunch and Draco lurched forward, yelped into hair and grabbed her to him. He whimpered as the last vestiges of pain rippled up his arm. But it was set, and the worst was over. "Alright?" She stroked the side of his face, down his neck. He nodded, didn't trust his throat to speak yet.
She pushed his head up gently and took a warm moist cloth to his face. "What did he say?" Her lips were pursed as if prepared to hear the worst.
He felt her warm breath puffing against his face, felt the sweet tingle of her magic knitting muscle and fracture beneath bruise. "He just...said some things about you that I didn't appreciate."
"About me?!" She was surprised. "What could he have possibly said about..." She took in his warning eyes. "Oh." She blushed. It was a pretty pinkening of her skin. "Draco..."
"I won't have you disrespected, mother."
"Well." She folded the cloth and set it aside neatly. "I appreciate your passionate defense of my honor, darling. I just wish it had been less detrimental to your person." She smiled. "Come on. Off with your trousers and let me mend that sprain."
A minor panic flitted over Draco's features. "Er..." He was naked beneath his trousers, long since opting to discard the boxers he'd worn in his youth.
"Please," Narcissa murmured. "I'm your mother."
"No buts. Off, please." It was her business tone. He sighed and capitulated stiffly, feeling his muscles begin to ache. Narcissa turned to retrieve a towel for him. She had to stifle a gasp when she turned back. She hardly expected a grown wizard with an ample erection. This was her son, after all. She gathered herself and tried to ignore the flesh between his legs. She knelt and took his leg across hers, gentled his swollen and bruised ankle.
The room was silent. The only sounds were those of the elements at work. An occasional drip from the faucet. The sound of skin moving on skin. Whispered spells, and the breath of a man and the breath of a woman. A wizard and a witch - becoming.
But becoming what, neither exactly knew...
The odd feeling of muscle and tendon untangling and reconnecting was a provocative tingle stretching into Draco's thighs. He couldn't withhold a breathy moan. Narcissa quickly rose at the sound. "Um...into the bath then." She gestured. "You need to warm up before you catch a chill." Her fingers fluttered at her hairline. Her heart fluttered in her chest.
Draco eased his long legs over and into the bath. He smelled mint and eucalyptus, groaned when his scratched lower back met the bubbles she'd prepared. "Oh, that's...that's simply ace, mum." He closed his eyes and rested his head against the tub lip.
The fluttery fingers stroked his forehead. "I'm glad you like it, love. Stay like this. I'll wash your hair."
He didn't argue. Dirt, blood and detritus slid over his shoulders as she lathered and rinsed. Every once in a while, she paused to examine or heal a bump or cut that the soap revealed. Mothering instinct pulled her lips to each wound, eased each pain and lulled him into a sensuous sleep. When Draco opened his eyes at last, her face was inches from his, and she was preparing to heal his battered lip.
Water sloshed. Bubbles hissed. Time slowed and pulsed in his ears, created a whoosh of blood there, a hum deafening him. He felt his fingers close around her wrist, stopping her actions. He stared at her face. She had the biggest eyes, softened by concern, two tiny lines extending toward her temples. Her pouty bottom lip moved to open, to ask if he was alright probably.
"Just kiss it." He whispered the command. Knew she would not deny it.
And she didn't. Her thumb stroked the edge of the split, teased the ticklish part of his lip. The most natural thing in the world... He didn't close his eyes when she bent; he wanted to watch her lashes bat closed against her cheek, to see the motion of her eyes behind the lightly shadowed lids. But when the angle proved to hide her features, and her impossibly soft, sweet lips closed over his, he couldn't watch any longer.
He let go her wrist. Her wand dropped into the bath. He felt it settle against his hip. The freed feminine hand came to rest on his jaw and she cupped his sore face. Long hair brushed over his shoulder, dipped into the bubbles. He plunged wet hands into it, curved his fingers around her head and neck, holding her awkwardly to his lips.
They kissed and the taboo - the danger - melted into cautious exploration. It hurt just slightly to kiss her - to suck her bottom lip between his own, but the pain was strangely alluring. He wondered if she tasted his blood, if it was the reason her curious tongue delved, encouraged his to play. Their lips and chins moved in synchronicity, mouths opening to taste, tongues just touching to tease.
When she broke to breathe he didn't release her. Kissed his way along her cheek, her jaw, to the junction of ear and face. "You are beautiful, mother. He was right about that."
"Draco." She had no further words. Simply adjusted his head and kissed him again. He surged in the water, turned into the odd angle. Straightened and eased their connection. He pushed against the tub to rise and was mindful enough (just) to retrieve her wand on his way. His wet feet slipped on the tile and Narcissa steadied him.
Dripping, naked, still kissing, they danced halting and blind into his bedchamber. They came to a stop by his bed, paused in a warm ray of sun through his thin-veiled window. She touched his scratches and the bruises on his torso, kissed those as well. Draco worked her frock down her shoulders. Awkwardly, she helped him, pulling her arms from the sleeves. She gasped when he found her breasts.
He wasn't shy - cupped them, squeezed them and mouthed them like a hungry babe. "Draco." Again she murmured his name, lost to decadence. A hand left his body, reached behind her to awkwardly unhook her skirt. It fell heavy around her ankles, wet with his bath water, blood and the filth of his fight. His hardness pressed into her bare belly. His whole body was heated by the bath and fervor's fever.
He hooked his thumbs in her knickers, tracked them swiftly over her legs as she scrambled backward on his bed. His eyes asked for permission. Hers gave it and he climbed over her. They panted, surged excited together and hummed tunelessly when skin met skin. Addicted to kissing, she held his head to hers even as her thighs enfolded his hips, clearly inviting him to a place he could never leave.
There would be time later for countless explorations, for lovemaking and learning one another. But now her loneliness called urgently for his comfort, and his hurts called urgently for her healing. So he took the invitation, firmly gripped her hips and eased inside her. "Oh!" She cried out at the initial intrusion - at the burn of 'it's been too long.'
"I'm sorry," Draco breathed. She turned her head to hide the ugly face of passion and he soothed her neck with his lips and his kisses. His body seemed beyond his control, pulled and pushed like a puppet by her magnetic being swallowing him up. Her arms and legs enfolded him and she arched, encouraged his thrusts to lengthen, to deepen.
"Oh gods, please!" He couldn't defeat the approaching end, wanted her with him, plunging like larks to the hurtling earth. He clutched her harder, felt her breath hitch. "Come with me," he growled. Tears clouded his throat. "Please. Please come with me!"
Her voice broke with her sense. "Oh, Draco! Yes!" Her fingernails gouged his buttock and his shoulder as she gave in to his request. They heaved together like a hunted beast finding its hovel.
Each soothing in their own way the other, they maintained. Finally, unashamed of the moisture on his face, Draco rose on shaky elbows to peer at his mother. "Are you alright?" The panacea of questions.
She understood, stroked his face. "I'm fine, son." But her lip quivered despite her words. "What have I done?"
He pressed his forehead to her mouth, stopped her words, her doubts and worries. "You kissed it better, mum," he whispered. "You kissed us better." He cradled her to him, the only precious thing he'd ever known - the way she cradled him.
For the world of hurts, the aches of loneliness in every human's heart, there is a kiss of betterment. There is a hum that demands quietude and a surrendering of will. A love in a mother's touch, and the only thing a broken boy has left to give. The hurts and the hearts meet, the loneliness and the love. The hum of mighty workings.
AN: A little oneshot that had been unfinished for a time. Thanks to Narcissa's Dragon for the long ago inspiration. And Wes? This one is for you. If you're reading it, do be a dear and set up a little account. Time to stop being such a lurky stalking Brummy and devote yourself to my service as a Britpicker, you silver-tongued Slytherin... Thank you for all your kind words.