Chapter 1: Prologue
“Pass me the ornament,” your mother smiled softly as she took the golden flower ornament that you had handed her, so she could attach it to your hairdo. It had been in your family’s possession for generations, had been passed down from mother to daughter whenever the time came where she would leave her sheltered household to serve as a dutiful wife. You could see the light reflecting on its shiny surface before it vanished out of your sight.
You then tilted your head a bit, putting on the pair of earrings that your parents-in-law had given you as a wedding gift. It was just as fancy and expensive as the rest of your outfit as the Malfoys were extremely wealthy, the gems sparkling and glittering like rain droplets in the sun
You let yourself be helped into the extravagant and lavish pearl white dress, after slipping into the tights that you had borrowed from your best friend. Chiffon and satin brushing over your smooth skin, like cool water drops. A maid carefully assisted your mother while she was working on the zipper with her magic. It was of utmost importance not to touch your hair, as it was skillfully done by the best hairdresser that could be found here in England. Your dress was long, smooth, yet a flowy with complicated, laborious stitches on lace, the cloth that covered most of the upper body part
The cold, flat metal touched your warm skin as the small sapphire necklace – probably the only “decent” thing that you wore on your body today. It was made from the finest silver with only one rather small sapphire stone in the middle; like an amulet; like a charm.
You fumbled with the clasps, helplessly, before your mother’s fingers took over, precisely closing it for you.
Slipping into the shoes that were matching your dress, you didn’t forget to put the little silver coin in as well; hoping, now that these items were on your body – that they would bless you with a good, fortunate life as the tradition promised.
A silver sixpence in your shoe
“You look beautiful,” she whispered with a proud smile on her face, standing beside you as you looked into the mirror where a strange, unfamiliar woman stood, staring back with empty, dull eyes.
“Thank you mother,” you averted your eyes, creating the false image of abashment. But the truth was that you weren’t able to look at yourself, were simply not capable. This woman wasn’t you, she was beautiful, was perfect with her cherry blossom cheeks and rose coloured lips. But you were nothing of that.
“I am so proud of you. You will make a good wife.” The first tears were falling, gliding over your mother’s slightly wrinkled but still soft skin. But she didn’t mean it, because she was insincere.
“Of course mother. You have raised me well and accordingly,” you answered with a smile. She carefully kissed both of your cheeks before standing back to once again look at you with a moving expression.
Things were all in a blur. You remembered being led over the soft carpet of the big church along with your father’s steady steps, as you walked through the light that broke through the colourful glass and dancing dust particles in the air.
It was a beautiful, sunny day. The best day to let two loving people tie their knots. Whispers and awed murmurs went through the crowd when you first stepped into the holy room, drawing all eyes and all the attention on you. With your head held high, you carefully placed one foot after another, balancing out each step so you wouldn’t trip while the strong tunes of the organ accompanied you. Back straight, chest out, chin up, arms close to our body.
Your fiancé stood in front of you, miles away it seemed. In just a few moments and he’d be more than that. He was going to be the person you would spend the rest of your life with. He was so handsome in his pitch black suit. Sleek blonde hair perfectly styled - as if every single strand of his hair had its own place. Beautiful anthracite eyes, like molten metal.
Draco Malfoy was a handsome young man with fair, pale skin and thin full lips. He had only inherited the best of the best features of his parents even though he seemed to be the spitting image of his father with his straight aristocratic nose, chiselled cheekbones, and the light blonde hair. He was standing there, waiting for you to come, waiting for you to finally become his bride.
Your eyes met with his cold grey ones when your father gently placed your hand on Draco’s. He returned the small smile that you had managed to muster up in all your nervousness.
The ceremony started with only the slow, meaningful words of the priest. Vows were spoken, bringing smiles on faces and tears into eyes. Somewhere someone was sniffling.
Your heart gave a thump when he reached out to lift the white, translucent veil that separated his mouth from yours. The barrier was gone; had vanished out of your sight. And all that mattered was his little sheepish grin as he leaned in for the kiss that would metaphorically seal your bond.
Thin lips were softly pressed against yours while cold fingertips slightly supported your face, oh so gentle. Unintentionally, you had to smile against his lips. When parting, Draco softly caressed your cheek before the two of you turned towards your applauding guests, the audience of this show.
Nobody noticed your little almost invisible flinches or how your smiles didn’t quite reach your eyes.
Because this marriage was forced; was planned and set up - simply arranged - like some diplomatic, conventional business meeting.
They had sold you off and all you could do was helplessly watch how you once again turned into their marionette, into the property that they traded for prestige and money.
Chapter 2: Cages
The story unfolds...
Written in 2017
The after party held at Malfoy Manor had gone on and on. Most of the time you had been walking around, arms linked with Draco’s as you greeted the countless guests who had travelled both from America, your home country, and whole England. The evening was filled with politely chatting aristocrats, the soft sounds of the string quartet in the background and champagne glass clinking against each other while one was eating the petit-fours and small appetizers prepared by the best cooks. You had always detested these stiff gatherings.
“Draco, this is my friend, Ashley,” you gestured towards the blonde girl with the brightest smile. She was wearing a navy blue dress that complimented her blue eyes. Soft golden curls were framing her pale face as her rosy lips curled for a bright but polite smile.
“Hello, Draco. It’s nice to meet you! I’ve heard a lot about you from ________,” she placed her hand on your husband’s opened one so he could press his mouth upon her small hand. She gave a cute giggle.
“The pleasure is all mine,” Draco returned her smile.
“So, what did my adorable wife tell you about me? I am curious. She admits so little when we’re alone,” he showed interest by raising his eyebrow, amusement playing along with his facial features as he looked down at you. The best reaction that you could muster up, was to blush.
The blonde man chuckled and Ashley smirked teasingly, apparently taking it as an act of embarrassment.
“Don’t.” It was a warning that your friend ignored with no effort at all.
“She always tells me how thoughtful you are towards her despite knowing each other for only a short amount of time.”
“How she likes your smile…” she broke off to wave at someone she knew, before turning her attention back to the two of you.
“And how your grey eyes that remind her of the finest silver,” she went on, totally caught up in the heat of the conversation.
“Oh? You always tell me my eyes are too cold.” A grin slipped on his face as he gently nudged your shoulder, before he pulled you closer, marvellously miming the perfect husband.
“That’s because you always frown,” hiding the fact that your fingers were shaking, you touched the bridge of his nose. In the corner of your eyes, you could see Ashley pulling a delighted face. Because for outsiders, it sure seemed like Draco and you were in your own little world.
“Liar,” his deep voice implied another chuckle. Ashley subtly wiggled her eyebrows when he turned around to speak with another guest that stopped by.
“Ashley, it was a pleasure to meet you but I am afraid that I have to leave now. Can I leave my precious, beloved wife in your care for a bit?”
“Of course, Draco. Until the next time,” Draco acknowledged her goodbye with a polite nod, before he walked away with the Earl of some other pureblood family.
“Gosh, your husband is a real catch.” The two of you watched how Draco’s back got smaller and smaller, before he disappeared somewhere between the crowds, already talking to someone that you recognized to be a distant relative of his. It was another one of your useless skills. To be able to identify all of his relatives.
“You should feel lucky. After all, he’s handsome and charming too! Ahhh, I am envious,” she sighed theatrically.
“Yeah,” you agreed half-heartedly; not paying attention to her infatuation with your husband. How could you tell her that you weren’t in love with him?
In the end, gradually, the music subsided and the first guests retreated to their luxurious chambers that were offered in the enormous Malfoy Manor; or they simply travelled back to their home or hotel, leaving with stiff hugs and even stiffer formalities.
Most of the wedding gifts had already been transferred to your shared home, as your mother-in-law had informed you before she embraced you heartily, a caring smile on her face.
“Travel carefully and rest up. We’ll see you two for brunch tomorrow.”
“Yes. Mother, father, I wish you a good night,” you curtsied slightly before turning to your own parents, letting Draco speak to Narcissa and Lucius before your departure.
“Come,” he gripped your arm, so to pull you towards the wide, massive dark coloured door; towards the place that would be your home from now on. You stumbled.
Even in the night sky, with only the moon illuminating the property, you could still see the white columns that supported the balcony just above the door, forming a functional roof for waiting guests as well.
The main body of the house was built with light bricks and on both sides, there were additional, smaller compartments; built with sturdy, white wood. Countless windows with shutters were promising bright rooms when daylight would come, when the moon would withdraw. Of course, the villa would be as luxurious and elegant, perfectly suiting the Malfoy standard. But in contrast to the ancient Manor that belonged to Draco’s parents, this one seemed so much warmer somehow. You always thought that Malfoy Manor bore an eerie atmosphere. Something about its appearance and the dark but lavish building was deeply unsettling and you couldn’t quite figure out why.
Still, its inviting, warm façade couldn’t convince you. Never in your life would you regard this house as your home. You would create your own home one day. With a loving husband and children’s laugh that decorated the atmosphere. One day, when you were free.
Draco pulled out a key from his pocket, unlocking the massive door with a click. With help of magic, it swung open, revealing an entrance that was plastered with white marble. The enchanted lights automatically flickered on. There was a wine red carpet in the middle before you could store away your jacket in a white, very expensive looking closet that was decorated with golden ornaments.
“The bedrooms are upstairs. You can go to sleep if you’re tired. I will sleep in the other bedroom,” the blonde turned towards you, the gentle expression that he had worn on his face had been wiped away until a stranger stood in front of you. As if someone had switched off the light. All that was left was a cold, distant man.
It once again reminded you of the fact that this was an arranged marriage. Loveless, fake and full of lies. Because for a moment, you had completely forgotten that it was, being caught up in the charade – swept away by his good acting skills
He didn’t carry you over the threshold like it was the tradition for a groom and a bride upon entering their new shared home. He didn’t give you an affectionate smile. Nor did he shower you with kisses and caresses like you had pictured it - back then when you were a little girl. So little that you still fitted on your mother’s lap, while she read stories about the prince saving the princess, conjuring unrealistic dreams and unviable wishes.
The little girl had grown up; killing the fairytales in her heart with just cruel, simple reality.
Yet with this marriage, you would gain a piece of freedom; another piece of independence – miles away from your parent’s home, from the cage that you had been raised in.
And for the sake of escaping this household, you were willing to be sold away as a bride. Just to get away. Far away.
But was it worth the price?
Even if it meant to be locked up in another cage?
Chapter 3: Puppet
and moves on...
“Good morning, ______” the quirky voice of a house elf woke you.
“Good morning,” you mumbled and yawned, blinking as the little creature waddled over to the window, pulling the curtains to the side. The blinding light was flooding the room and you squeezed your eyes shut, groaning slightly.
“What time is it?” rubbing your eyes, you slowly proceeded to leave the bed, trying to open your eyes a bit so you wouldn’t trip over something. You had to blink several more times before you finally got used to the brightness of the room.
“Loony thinks it’s two hours till lunch time. Loony hasn’t been able to look at the clock because she is too small,” the squeaky voice sounded and you summoned your clothes so you could change into something that would be more appropriate than nightwear.
Together with Loony, you made your way downstairs to the kitchen whose interior was mostly made from wide wood and glass, with a large working place made from marble, smooth and cold when your skin brushed past it. Cooking there with another person should be fun in this one, you mused. Not that you were a skilled cook.
On the stove there was a pan with sizzling pancakes, the smell of vanilla was filling the air. A spatula was flipping the golden brown cake before taking it out of the pan so the bowl with the batter could move closer for another portion.
Loony made a gesture and from the shelves, a plate and a cup came flying before landing softly on the table. You sat down and let her bring you your favourite beverage.
“Do you want to eat with me, Loony?”
“Loony isn’t allowed to eat with her master. Loony should eat the remnants,” she politely declined. Every day had been the same so far. You would ask her to eat with you and she’d refuse in an obsequious way. Once you even went as far as ordering her to be your company. But because she seemed so uncomfortable, you had decided not to pressure her into things that she wasn’t familiar with.
In the end, you ate with silence as your only company, while Loony went out to the garden, so to tend the flowers that were demanding their daily dose of attention. You could hear distant rummaging and the soft clinking of metal digging in the soil. Even though the whole house was bright and rather modern, you still felt quite restless. How paradox it was, to find this peace quite disturbing in a way. It reminded you of the uncomfortable silence at school, when the lively conversations of cheerful young students suddenly died down.
You decided to buy a radio.
“So, what room is it going to be today?” mumbling to yourself, you wandered through the hallways, shuffling through the smooth hall in just socks. Every day you made it your mission to explore another one of these countless rooms, roaming and discovering all the corners and imperfections.
Your house was huge and despite your daily expeditions, you still hadn’t visited all the rooms. So far, there were at least three guest rooms and two bathrooms. A salon with silky couches and shimmering candle-holders was located on the ground floor. Your and Draco’s bedroom was situated on the first floor along with the enormous, yet beautiful library that you had found in the first days after the wedding ceremony
Of course, it was silently declared as your favourite place of all times, the second you pushed the massive door open, revealing dark brown shelves and the smell of dusty paper. The Malfoys had always had a foible for valuable literature; always striving for enlarging their already big collection.
Hours would pass so much faster when you were in this room, climbing up the latter and craning your neck for the titles that stood out of your reach. And with these printed letters that were forming words and poetry, studies and insights, you forgot everything around you. So much did they tantalize you. While your eyes wandered across the pages and your feet were dangling over the armrest of the couch that stood in the middle of the library, between white marble statues of Greek gods and expensive Chinese pottery.
Until dawn became dusk and the sun disappeared in the shadows of the moon; causing you to light up some of the magical candles so you could still continue reading.
Some days, you could hear Draco’s arrival before sunset; heard his long yet swift footsteps as he walked past the library to get to the study room that was connected to the library. The blonde’s silhouette flashed past the opened doors of the book haven. Without haltering; without taking a look at you. He was present in this house, yet he wasn’t. Like a demiguise that vanished in front of your eyes. Most of the times, you barely caught a glimpse of his light blonde hair let alone were you able to exchange several words.
Usually, you ate alone in the kitchen, on rare occasions with only the comforting presence of the house elf who was preparing the meat for the next day while the dishes were washed. You didn’t know how to approach the cold man that you called your husband; didn’t know whether you could just knock at his door and ask him to dine with you when he came home before nine on these rare occasions. And even on the weekends, he was nowhere to be found. You had once mustered up the courage to call for him through his bedroom, only to discover it as empty – the bed mostly unused.
But the door always remained shut – the only thing that kept you away from loneliness. It was acting as a thin wall, but still, you didn’t dare to knock it down.
Draco Malfoy had married a despicable woman, someone he disliked from his very core. He had turned 22 this year; had officially reached the age to marry – according to his parents. And prompt, they had introduced him to you, the second daughter of a prosperous pureblood family from America. You were the same age as him; rumoured to be well-educated, polite and beautiful.
He met you for the first time, only months before the wedding. His family had been invited over for several days; to visit the large villa that your family owned. The blonde had met your sisters, the eldest and the youngest. While Arabelle was already happily married, the younger one, Ava, was greatly spoiled, being the baby of the family. Draco wasn’t really fond of them, but if he had to choose, he’d surely preferred them over you.
There was something about you that he heavily despised, the way you never really seemed to express your opinion out loud. He tried to coax them, dropped slightly provocative comments here and there. It was in vain. You stayed polite and reserved in a way. However that wasn’t it, there was more to that; another thing that irritated him greatly. Like a thorn in your flesh; a pestering fly that was buzzing around you.
It settled him off, how empty your eyes seemed. They were entirely without light, without the lively glint of the joy of life. Just dead and dull – lifeless like a doll’s face. It was inerasable, as soon as he noticed this little detail. No, he perceived even more. The way your expression stayed the same with a weak, false smile on your face. Smiles that never reached your eyes.
Draco hated it, hated everything about your appearance. The way you moved, so mechanically and stiff – like a puppet that was controlled by a talentless puppet master. Even the Imperius Curse was more convincing than your façade.
The blonde was like a bubbling volcano, with hatred poisoning his veins and venom conquering his mind. The acid was collecting on his tongue, ready to spill.
And so, he vented; made sure you knew how much he detested you.
“Good morning, Draco,” you would sometimes greet him when the two of you coincidentally met in the kitchen while Draco let the house elf pour a cup of coffee for him.
“Princess,” he acknowledged your presence with a curt but sarcastic nod.
You would bite your lips, clearly wanting to reply something. Nevertheless, in the end, after a long internal fight, you decided not to; and Draco knew that he had won once again. He snarled – a habit that he never managed to get rid of.
Once the young Malfoy heir had gotten a taste of blood, he couldn’t cease to make more snide remarks. It was exhilarating, relaxing in a way – to be able to release all the stress he carried home from work and all the hatred that had been boiling inside of him for too long. Too many times, he had to smile and act charming; feign love and affection for this atrocious woman. How relieving it felt, with the help of just a few little words. They were just words, weren’t they?
Yet, he never received any answers – you never hit back. How vexing.
“Are you even able to form your own opinions?” he once asked, the corner of his lips raising for a sarcastic smile.
“What are you talking about?” your careful reply came moments later and you were visibly choosing them; these words.
“When I first met you,” he paused shortly and positioned himself comfortably; leaning against the doorframe of the salon, “you seemed alright.”
“Almost normal like every other person.”
Silver eyes staring at you, waiting for an answer that didn’t come. His thin lips curled again and he snorted while his bony hands brushed his blonde hair back.
“But turns out, you’re just a marionette. With no personality or own opinions. Surely… you were treated like a princess at home.”
A few moments passed where you just sat there, calmly looking at him. Your face wasn’t giving off any emotions, just these pale Japanese masks. And Draco could feel how his superiority crumbled like a wall that had been wrecked. Why weren’t you saying anything? Why weren’t you screaming or insulting or crying? The blonde didn’t understand; couldn’t read what was going on in your mind.
What a frustrating, despicable woman. Frustration bubbled beneath his skin and he bit his lips, hoping that his annoyance wasn’t visible on the surface.
“You didn’t object to this marriage either.”
You averted your eyes, drawing your attention to the scarf that you were knitting as if he didn’t harm you at all.
Draco left the room, fuming with cold anger.
Chapter 4: Cold
and starts to align
Another day, another pile of work.
Draco enjoyed his work at the Ministry. In fact, he preferred his workplace over his home, where the woman that was his wife was staying at. Naturally, because the two of you didn’t get along, he connected his “home” with bad experiences. Thus, he wanted to reduce the time he had to spend there to as little as possible.
He had no idea what you were doing the whole day. And he actually didn’t want to know.
Every day, he’d get up early and go to work, eating breakfast on his own in the kitchen with the sunrise as his company. Loony usually disappeared as soon as she made his breakfast, as if she was scared of him. Even though he had never treated her badly. He had offered some clothes and money for her work, having Grangers campaign in his mind; yet, the only thing she ever accepted was a run-down box that she would use as a bed.
He hadn’t seen that coming – or rather – he didn’t want to see it. The signs were quite clear. A headache, occasional coughs and a running nose. But he was an adult and adults could take care of themselves. So he took some pills against the headache and dressed himself warmer to prevent the cold from hitting with full-force. Draco sniffed.
Yet the cold had already progressed too far and what had to come; came. Inevitable.
Draco had woken up with bad headaches that morning. His head felt like these ticking bombs that the Weasleys sold at their store. But instead of calling in, he decided to take another handful of the painkillers that he had gotten from the Magical Pharmacy last week. Forcing himself out of the warm bed, he peeled himself out of the sweat-drenched nightwear before he proceeded to walk to the bathroom. His curse was followed by a sneeze.
The ground blurred and he slightly staggered, as he was trying to regain a clear, full view. But the dizziness clouded his eyes and he groaned, closing his eyes for a short moment before slowly blinking. With the Accio Spell, he summoned himself a glass of cool water which seemed to soothe the pain immediately. Everything was going to be okay. He was feeling alright and the medicine was starting to work.
The blonde left the house before seven, apparating to the enormous building of the Ministry of Magic.
Work was all in a blur and so was his arrival at home; in fact, he couldn’t even remember how exactly he managed to apparate home in this state, let alone walk into his room.
That was probably because he didn’t even make it that far.
You found him slumped down in the hallway of the entrance. He was unconscious and when you touched him, you immediately released him, surprised by the high temperature. His skin was burning up and you were pretty sure that you could’ve fried an egg. You couldn’t have cared less, after all, he treated you like an unwelcome guest; an intruder. Nonetheless, after a short moment of an inner debate, you decided to go for what your instinct was telling you.
Together with Loony, you carried him into his room and called a doctor, who soothed your unintentional worry after a long, thorough inspection.
“Your husband just caught a nasty cold.”
“How long has he been suffering from the symptoms?”
“Uhm… a few days. He hasn’t been complaining much though, so we thought that it wasn’t that bad,” you lied. Actually, you had no idea how long Draco had been fighting against this cold. After all your had barely seen him because you knew how hated your presence was.
“I understand. I have prescribed something against his cough and for the fever to go down. He should at least rest for two days before going back to work.”
“I’ll take my leave now.”
“Thank you very much for your visit. Loony, could accompany him to the door? I will get down to the kitchen to cook something for Draco.”
“Yes, Loony will go with the Doctor!”
“What are you doing?” even though his voice was hoarse and weaker than usual, you could still hear its sharpness as these silver coins eyed you with so much suspicion. Draco had slightly opened his eyes. He was even paler than usual and his skin resembled more wax than actual skin. His head felt heavy as if someone had jinxed him with a spell and his throat was as dry as the desert.
“I am tending to you,” you ignored his silent protest by wiping off his sweaty forehead with a good smelling towel. You were in his spacious room and the curtains were drawn so the brightness wouldn’t hurt his eyes too much.
“Why?” he croaked and you gave him something warm but disgusting to drink after he refused to take your help when sitting up. He pulled a face when the taste of different herbs touched his tongue. He hated herb tea.
“I am your wife,” you simply replied like it was a duty rather than a title.
“I’ve cooked some porridge for you. Do you want to eat now?” without minding his confused expression, you changed the topic.
“You can cook?” even at this state, the way he raised his eyebrows still seemed so suspicious. He coughed, giving in to the stimulus in his throat.
“Kind of,” the way you avoided his eyes confirmed him otherwise. The blonde opened his mouth to make a snide comment but had to break off due to another coughing fit. You softly stroked his back as he bent forward. He flinched under your touch.
Cooking was harder than you had thought. You had occasionally peeked over the attendant’s shoulder, back in America, but other than that, you didn’t really have the skills to cook something delicious, let alone edible. Although you could’ve left the job to the house elf, you somehow had decided to do the task yourself. With help of a thick cookbook and Loony’s tips, you somehow managed to make something edible. Sweat and pride had shown on your face as you closed the pot and let the stove keep the porridge warm on the lowest setting.
“Here’s some more tea,” he followed the motion of your head to find the cup from earlier on the nightstand next to some suspicious looking bottles.
“There’s no need to look like that. Neither the food nor the tea is poisoned,” you remarked before putting the towel back into your ceramic bowl that was filled with water.
“You can rest if you don’t have the appetite now. Call Loony when you need something. She’s got the order to feed you if you refuse to eat at all. The medicine is on your nightstand. I have already given them to you. The next dose is due tomorrow morning after breakfast.”
“Rest up Draco,” you didn’t turn around once when leaving his room, closing the door with a soft click.
The young Malfoy fell asleep again before he could even brood about the fact that you had taken care of him. The blonde awoke hours later, his sweat-drenched hair sticking to his forehead. His stomach rumbled, obviously demanding for some food. Another bowl with a towel was sitting on the nightstand and Draco used it to wipe away all the excessive sweat. He then called Loony, letting her bring him some of the porridge that you had cooked.
The young man crinkled his nose as he eyes the nasty looking thick soup that was dripping down the spoon as he lifted it. It smelled good though, he noticed and decided to give the disgusting thing a chance.
It wasn’t bad at all, he had to admit after swallowing the first spoonful. Another followed and another. Soon the bowl was empty and he felt better. Now that his stomach was full, sleepiness was taking over again. And so he drifted back to sleep, enveloped by several fluffy blankets that slightly smelled of lavender, a scent that his family never used.
Weird, that he never noticed that before.
Chapter 5: Thank you
(...), it flows
Today, you opened the door on the other side of the library to reveal a small room full of art.
“Amazing,” you muttered under your breath, flipping through sketchbooks and pressing your hands against the glass of the display in order to come as close as possible to the artworks.
Paintings of landscapes, framed by golden ivy and flowers.
There were aquarelles of flowers and places, their colour gradients blending into colours in such a neat way. From rough sketches to full paintings of buildings.
Thick oil paintings of angels, falling into their doom, into darkness – as the glowing archangel reached out for their divine sword.
“This one is my favourite,” a voice sounded behind you. You could hear that it wasn’t Loony because of the deepness of his voice. Smooth and silky unlike Loony’s high and squeaky one.
“Are you feeling better? I informed the Ministry about your cold, so you don’t need to worry about that.”
“I didn’t come here to ask about that,” he stood next to you, keeping his eyes on the painting.
“Oh.” There was a moment of awkward silence before he spoke up.
“It’s a duplicate of Rubens’. My father bought it directly from the artist during his stay in the Netherlands.”
“The fall of the damned.” You whispered, remembering a vague image in your inner eye. You had seen a print of it in one of the books about Baroque Art in the library.
“Mhm,” Draco just agreed and you couldn’t help but feel a bit intimidated by his presence.
“It’s a Muggle artist. I didn’t think your family would be-“
“We do not despise Muggles,” Draco harshly cut you off and immediately, you realized that you had just put yourself in a very bad position. You could swear that his grey eyes became a fraction of an inch colder and automatically, you couldn’t help but wonder too, whether spending your time naked in Siberia was actually warmer than standing here next to Draco Malfoy.
You opened your mouth, ready to apologize – just like your mother had taught you to behave. But before you could do so, the blonde man got in ahead of you.
“I wanted to say thank you.”
Oh, so Malfoys could say thank you?
You stayed quiet though, knowing that if you dared to say these words out loud, this eerie armistice would be over. Besides, you really wanted to find out the reason for this sudden kindness.
After all these weeks, this was probably the first time he was close to being friendly. And if you were honest, it was strange; no, it was suspicious. A part of you wanted to provoke him to pay back all the humiliation you had to endure while he thought that he was superior in his behaviour. But this very part was locked away, behind the bars of childhood fears and traumas.
Don’t tell them your opinion.
“I’d like to apologize for my inappropriate comment from earlier. I didn’t mean to offend you,” you replied instead, tilting your head slightly in courtesy. Draco acknowledged your apology with a soft nod.
Smile, bow your head, succumb.
“That’s why I went out to buy this. Women like these kinds of things right?” he held out a small box. Elegant and stylish; clearly showing that it had definitely been expensive and worth its price.
The way he was standing in front of you, tall and proud and one hand on his hips. The cold had taken a toll on him, carving out his cheeks and defining his high cheekbones. But even though his body was still weak, everything about him was still indicating his superiority over you. Apparently, he was convinced that you were dependent on him.
No, you weren’t going to grant him that moment of satisfaction.
“No thank you,” you nonchalantly but politely replied after eyeing the velvet box thoroughly. You didn’t take it, nor did you want it to see what was inside.
“Take it,” he thrust it a little towards you.
“I don’t want it,” you insisted, trying your best to contain the rising anger.
“Why?” he inquired. His grey eyes were narrowing as the brows moved closer together.
“I just don’t want it, Malfoy. So return it,” you spat and turned your back on him, walking out of the art room and towards your own one. He followed suit.
“Is it not enough for you? I went to buy the one with the biggest diamond,” Draco raised his eyebrow in irritation. You could hear the annoyance in his voice. He had hurt you pride with that careless gesture and he even had the audacity to think that you were a gold digger.
“Stop treating me like some greedy person. I don’t want your money; I don’t want your status or whatsoever,” your voice was shaking as you gripped the door handle to open it. And before the blonde could say something, you entered your room and slammed the door shut.
Draco let out a bitter laugh. His chest was heaving up and down because he too was fuming with anger that was provoked by you. Unbelievable how ungrateful a woman could be. He had spent so much money just for the fact that you took care of him. And how were you reacting? Like an unthankful Mudblood.
“Women. Tch,” he cursed and walked off to his own room. His head was exploding. What a hassle. He massaged his temple.
It was much later that Loony would find a small box with diamond earrings a random corner. Abandoned and thrown away in frustration.
Chapter 6: Blaise
(...) and takes course
Written in 2017
Draco had had the tendency to pay attention to annoying things. He just couldn’t ignore them like other (more reasonable) persons would do. Like Blaise would do. Maybe it was for his dumbness; one of his biggest flaws.
It was probably why he never was able to overlook all the things that happened with Potter during the school time.
As soon as his health improved, the blonde came back to work again, quickly returning to his previous lifestyle. Eat, sleep, work. He continued leaving the house early and coming home late. Besides, why should he come home in time?
“How is your wife?” Blaise once asked after taking a sip of the Firewhisky, before he jiggled the glass in his hands, letting the amber liquid slosh around between the walls of the glass. Draco, not wanting to return home today, had persuaded his friend to go out for a drink. Blaise Zabini was a handsome young man, with high cheekbones and skin like the finest chocolate, rich and creamy at the same time
“Stop asking,” Draco grumbled, leaning against the back of the chair. A loud sigh escaped his lips, Just thinking about it made his blood boil and he set his own drink down to massage his temples, something the young Malfoy had gotten used to doing whenever he was annoyed with something.
“How come you’re not lovey-dovey like all normal Newlyweds?” High giggles came from the other side of the room when Blaise gave a grin into the direction of some good-looking women.
“You know the reason damn well, Zabini,” the paler man growled and Blaise could not help but grin amusedly. The former classmate (and something like the best friend of the young Malfoy heir), was the only one who knew about the “circumstances”.
“What did she do this time?” Blaise, visibly interested, slightly leaned forward, bringing himself closer to his friend. Whenever he and Draco met up, the blonde had complaints about you. If the young man were, to be frank, he’d love to meet you in person. Back then, he couldn’t attend his friend’s wedding because one of his distant family members had passed away. Thus, he had to attend a stranger’s funeral rather than the wedding of his best friend. What a hassle.
“I bought her some jewellery and she yelled at me, that ungrateful woman,” Blaise could see his friend’s annoyance. Should he investigate the reason? Draco’s face told him no. But Blaise was always rather curious.
“Why exactly did you buy it though? I thought you didn’t like her?”
“I don’t,” Draco confirmed.
Blaise posed a silent counter question by raising his eyebrow.
“But she took care of me when I was sick and I bought it as a reward.”
There was a moment of silence where the dark-haired young man just sat there, staring at Draco.
“What?” Draco asked, his voice sounding sharper than intended. Unconsciously, the blonde sat up.
In fact, in such moments Draco was never able to hide his feeling; something that was very unusual for the Malfoy. Only a carefully selected group of people – less than a handful – were able to see the bare and real Draco Malfoy.
“Malfoy, I didn’t think you were that stupid,” Blaise replied after he had nipped on his alcohol, taking a moment to savour the burning taste. He sent another flirty wink to the woman on the other side of the room, causing her and her friends to giggle once again. Draco rolled his eyes.
“Or actually, to be that clueless when it comes to women.”
“I am not a virgin, git.”
“I didn’t imply that.”
“What I mean is, I am not surprised by your lack of experience when it comes to how to properly treat a woman. After all, the only thing you did was to chase after Potter during our school time.”
Draco just snarled in reply. He hated to be criticized by others, especially by Blaise.
“Let me give you a tip.”
Chapter 7: Shakespeare and Cupid
(...) until it ...
Written in 2017
“Where should Loony put these books?” the small house elf asked, gesturing towards another book stack that was floating in the air.
“Over there please,” you motioned to another free spot on the ground and she followed suit.
Yesterday had been your first day at the bookstore in the next town. Sometime between the third and fourth month after your wedding ceremony, you had decided to visit a few of the stores there. Feeling sick of seeing the house every single day while Draco was staying out as long as possible, you had asked Loony for the directions to the next town so you could do some errands.
Strolling through the narrow streets, you soaked the feeling of just walking between busy crowds; enjoyed the feeling of being anonymous. You hadn’t gone out in a while and as soon as you did, you realized just how much you had missed it.
It was a small place with stores that would cover your daily needs. One or two clothing stores; a restaurant and a pub. A small supermarket and a bookstore. There was a market place as well, in the centre of the town; marked with a small fountain of mermaids holding harps. Sometimes there were small markets as well, but you hadn’t quite found out the regularity of these events.
As you entered the small antique bookstore, you were greeted by an old man, with creases strewed over his face like soft, precise strokes of a brush. He looked at you through watery eyes that were protected by a big brown pair of thick glasses, yet he seemed so friendly and warm judging from the little smile that he gave you as soon as you approached him to offer your help while he was carrying a stack of the newest books.
Thirty minutes and a cup of tea later, you exited the shop with a happy expression, already looking forward to your first day of work. You were going to help out on workdays, relieving the owner’s workload in every possible way.
Inspired by the way the books were organized by your workplace, you decided to remodel the library in your house as well; hence you called Loony for some support which she gladly obeyed. You saw her flipping through a book about flowers, interest shining in her big blue eyes as she mumbled something incoherent to herself.
Somewhere, the telephone rang and you quickly summoned it after reaching for your wand that was on top of another stack of books.
“Malfoy,” you picked up the phone, hesitantly using the new surname that you would never really get used to.
“________!” Ashley’s voice rang through the phone and instinctively you held the device several inches away from your ear.
“Gosh, Ashley! It’s been such a long time!”
Several minutes followed where you just listened to her clear voice telling you about the things that were going on in your home country.
“Did you know that Carter and Holden broke up?” the blonde informed you.
“They did? About time. I didn’t really like him anyways. He always behaved so arrogantly,” you stuck the telephone between your ear and your shoulder so your hands could be free. Gripping your wand tightly, you nonverbally let the magic put another stack of books in order, sorting them on the shelf while the quill to your right started to label a small piece of parchment with the name of the author.
Carter was the only male friend that you were allowed to have. Your parents were convinced that you shouldn’t spend time with other boys due to the fact that you shouldn’t be tainted when starting your marriage with your fiancé. It wasn’t for religious reasons, no, they were just extremely conservative. Upon entering the teenage, they had wanted to separate Carter and you as well, but in the end, due to the fact that Carter wasn’t interested in girls at all, you were allowed to continue being friends with him. How gracious.
“Reminds me, I should call him as well. I haven’t talked to him since a- Loony please put that on that shelf for me,” you broke off to utter another request.
“What are you doing, ____?”
“I am just reorganizing a few bookshelves, Ash.”
“I see, I am not even surprised, haha. Anyways, I hope you won’t forget about it. You promised to call me as well! But you didn’t, so I thought I should do it,” you could hear her purse her lips and a chuckle escaped your lips. You didn’t know how much you had missed her until you heard her pleasant voice.
“I am really sorry. I’ve just been a bit busy.” A few books appeared in front of your face and you took your time to examine their titles so you could allocate them correctly.
“I bet. Have you even left your bedroom at all?” she teased and even though it wasn’t even close to the truth, you blushed.
“No – er – I mean yes! Yes! I have left the bedroom!” you unsuccessfully tried to save the situation. Ashley’s laugh resembled the shimmering gravel in a cold river.
“But you know what I mean.”
“Of course. I just wanted you to punish you a bit for your negligence,” she answered, coaxing a small, amused chuckle out of you.
“I am really sorry,” you repeated.
“By the way, how is your gorgeous husband?”
“Left stack, please. This one belongs to the one about art,” you instructed when Loony held up two other books with the title “Journey of Waterlilies” and “Hogwarts: A History”, a questioning look on her face. Then you returned to your conversation.
“He’s also very busy. I haven’t seen him much lately,” you told her at least of half of the truth because, in fact, you didn’t have a single clue how Draco was.
“Am I hearing a pout? Is someone feeling lonely?”
“Not at all,” you grumbled and Ash once again laughed.
“And where does this one belong?”
“On the stack with the book about Alchemy. It’s the science stack,” you briefly turned towards the source of the voice, catching a glimpse of the book before directing your attention back to the handful book spines that were waiting to be sorted.
But didn’t you just see a shock of platinum blonde hair instead of a bald, skin coloured one? And wasn’t the silhouette a bit too tall for a house elf?
The iridium in his eyes met yours and your heart gave a surprised thump.
“Ash, wait a minute,” you covered the speaker and then faced the man that had just entered the library. Why was he here though? Wasn’t he off for work?
Oh. Today was Sunday.
“Draco. Is there something that you need?”
“A book,” the Malfoy replied, his lips curling playfully, mockingly.
“Well… I am sorry. Things are a bit of a mess at the moment. But if you tell me the title, I might be able to tell you where it is,” you offered a bit too politely before putting the telephone back to your ear. Draco stood there, waiting patiently for you to end your phone call
He had been leaning against the doorframe, watching you turning his library into a mess. However, you seemed to be enjoying your task and so he remained quiet, allowing you to proceed with your intention of shaking up the whole order. Because somehow, the scenery that was presented was oddly mesmerizing to him.
You were standing in the middle of a sea of books. Some were piled; others weren’t as you shook up all the dust until it was dancing in the air, clearly visible from the bright sun rays that were illuminating the whole library. Loony was sitting on top of another heap, carefully freeing some of the sturdy covers from the thick layer of dust.
“Ash. Ash? I need to hang up now.”
“Is that Draco?”
He heard your friend’s distinct voice. His little smile broadened into an amused grin
“Yeah, he – anyways, I need to hang up now. See you!”
“Then let me help you. I’ll find it eventually,” Draco simply continued where you left off and watched how your eyes widened slightly in surprise before they returned to their usual calm appearance.
“I am sure that I can spare you from that. You must be busy.”
“I insist,” he spoke before lifting up one of these countless book stacks that were piling up like the Quidditch towers at Hogwarts. You looked like a lost princess in between the towers, with your wand in your hands and books floating around you like the orange leaves in autumn. What a weird princess.
“Now where do you intend to put these?”
“Oh,” you made while picking up a book that fell from your stack.
“What did you say?” Draco turned around to face you. He had been supervising a few books that were sorted into the shelf by magic, to where they should belong from now on.
“I didn’t say anything. I just found this one,” you held up a book cover so he could read the title.
“Yes, I liked this edition a lot,” you started babbling while flipping through the pages of the sonnet collection. Shakespeare was the most celebrated wizardian poet, both in the wizarding and Nomaj world. Funny that he had always managed to keep his real identity hidden despite being such a famous person in the Elizabethan era.
“What’s your favourite sonnet?” Interest was shown in his eyes as he tilted his head slightly, pausing his current doings.
“It has to be Sonnet 130,” you replied, already opening the page that contained the lines of superior writing. Feeling his eyes resting on you, you started reading out loud.
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red, than her lips red:
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
“I realize…this sounds rather cheesy when you read this out loud,” you admitted sheepishly, fumbling with the edge of the page as your voice gradually died down, “but I just liked how things weren’t cliché in this one.”
“The Dark Lady Sequence,” Draco nodded, “I remember reading this one when I was younger. It’s an amusing idea that Shakespeare wanted to parody Sidney’s ‘Astrophel and Stella’”
“I didn’t know that. Would you like to elaborate?” You walked towards him, wanting to hear more about these interesting facts. You hadn’t heard of it at all – though you had to admit that you never really cared to inform yourself about the backgrounds of this Sonnet. You just liked it very much.
“Well, Sidney’s poems tend to be very flowery. He sometimes compares the lover to the Venus for example; Writes that they are more beautiful than the finest silk,” his voice was smooth, a bit hoarse from not talking for the last hour. He met up with you half way and standing next to you Draco bent his head a little so to get a better a look
You nodded, urging him to go on.
“Shakespeare however, chose to go with a light-hearted, mockingly tone. He doesn’t use any of these metaphors.”
“And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks,” Draco read the lines out loud, continuing where you had stopped.
“See, how he writes that her breath is disgusting?”
“Yeah, I always found this line quite funny,” your eyes locked with his for a second and even though there was no reason to, you had to smile.
“So what’s your favourite?”
Meek surprise was visible on his face – only for a second – before he got a hold of his composure again.
“I’m sure I’ve read it. But he’s written so many, I can’t remember which one it was,” you mumbled, fumbling with the book in your hands while you tried to get back to the list of contents.
“Page 232,” Draco simply said, “May I?”
You handed him the book and watched his slender fingers turning the pages.
“There it is.
Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o'er-sways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out
Against the wreckful siege of battering days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack,
Shall Time’s best jewel from Time’s chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
O, none, unless this miracle have might,
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.
“I remember this one.” Since you’ve already read it, all it took to remember was to skim through the lines.
“I did enjoy this as well. It’s about time and immortality, am I correct?”
“Yeah, though it focuses more on the fact that he’d like to preserve his immortality with help of his works. At least that’s what the poem says in the end.”
“I understand. I see that you’ve spent a lot of time analyzing these.”
“The summers were long,” he just shrugged and you could swear that there was a hint of a smile on his face.
“Thank you for the explanation.”
“It’s fine,” Draco closed the book and backed away.
“Where does this go?
"You can give it to me, I will put it away,” you offered.
“Okay,” he placed the books in your hands, his bony fingers lightly brushed yours and for the first time, you didn’t flinch at all. Maybe it was because you were too caught up in the magic of the moment. Maybe it was because you didn’t mind it. You didn’t know. Yet.
“We’re done!” You couldn’t help but exclaim happily while you carefully examined the result that was offered to you. Just a few hours ago, the floor was covered by stacks of books with all kinds of different heights, making it hard to move freely without the danger of knocking things over. Most of the books were dusty and old, its paper was more beige than white. Thousands of snippets of paper were pressed between the pages, filled with notes and little doodles and these very pieces were collected on the desk, forming a messy staple. They were going to be thrown away later. Now that the books were all neatly tidied up, sorted by genre, author, and subject, you could feel how sore your feet were from all the standing.
Loony had done a good job by dusting everything before she went off to prepare dinner and so you were alone with Draco. It was probably the first time ever since you had argued in the art room, but for the moment, you didn’t really care.
Your heart was too busy with swelling up with pride as you fondly let your eyes wander. You were finally done with sorting and now the library was almost shining in its neatness. Not that it wasn’t neat before; it was. The only thing it lacked was some kind of system because the books were standing somewhere, just anywhere with spare space. Somehow, cleaning bore a calming effect. It was an accomplishment, rewarding you with so much satisfaction.
Draco watched you flop down on the sofa, while you still turned your head to gaze at the result of your hard work. His back was sore and his feet were hurting from all the standing. Slowly he made his way towards you, letting himself sit down next to you as well before stretching out his legs in a very relaxed manner.
You fumbled with the hem of your blouse, not really knowing how to start a conversation again. Just an hour before, things had gone so smoothly, so why, why on earth was it so difficult to say something now?
Just as you opened your mouth to speak, Loony appeared in the library, a small smile on her face. The house elf loved cooking and every time she finished a meal, you could see the happiness shimmering in her eyes.
“Loony has finished dinner. Shall she bring it to the masters’ rooms?”
Since Draco and you had never once eaten together, Loony had grown accustomed to asking beforehand, before she would serve your meals. Usually, Draco would eat in his room while reading some files that he brought home from work, while your locations depending on your current activities.
“I’ll eat in the kitchen today, Loony. Thank you for asking,” you answered and she nodded to show her understanding.
“Will Master Draco eat in his room as always?”
You interrupted their conversation before Draco could open his mouth.
“Actually, I was wondering whether you’d like to have dinner with me?”
Cineral eyes were staring at you without giving off any emotions or thoughts. He was like a sealed box, protected by countless locks and traps.
“I apologize, I just thought it might be less lonely than eating separated,” you heard yourself talking, so unlike your usual self.
Loony was looking back and forth, from you to Draco and from Draco to you, obediently waiting for her masters’ reply.
Then, finally, after a short pause, Draco spoke up. The deepness of his voice sent shivers over your spine and his answer, his answer made your stomach curl.
Because despite asking, never did you expect that he’d agree.
“Sure, why not.”
Chapter 8: Late Night Cooking
it slowly starts
Written in 2017
The light was still on when Draco entered his house. He gave a tired sigh and proceeded to hang up his long coat in the hallway. Work had been atrocious today because the Ministry decided to accept a few students for an internship and of course, out of all the people they could’ve chosen in his department, they went to chose him. Great. Because apparently, he looked as if he was never working.
Today Draco couldn’t help but wonder whether he too had been so annoying when he was the same age. Immediately he shook his head. Merlin’s beard, no way. He slightly loosened his tie and unbuttoned the first button of his shirt.
Something smelt burnt, he registered as soon as he walked towards the stairs, actually intending to go straight to his room. The blonde haltered to listen because while the rest of the house was quiet, he could hear some loud noises coming out of the kitchen. Someone was cooking late at night.
“Whatever,” he muttered into the silence. He decided not to care, it was probably just the house elf anyway. He was too tired for this.
“What are you doing at this time of the day?”
“AH!” you flinched and Draco pulled a face in reply to your shriek. It was too shrill; the light was too bright for his tired eyes. Judging by your reaction, he had managed to startle you greatly since you sent noodles flying. The blonde dodged a particularly wobbly one that went into his direction. What a mess. He hated messy things.
“You startled me,” you exclaimed a bit louder than intended.
“I can see that,” he replied coldly.
There was a short pause where he was eyeing your pot as if you were brooding a bomb while you were trying to rein in the adrenaline that was pumping through your veins.
“You haven’t answered my question,” Draco snarled. He could’ve just gone to bed, yet he was standing in the kitchen, interrogating this woman as if he had nothing better to do. Why on Dumbledore’s spectacles was he doing that?
“Well…you can see that I am cooking,” you began preparing something by summoning some ingredients like cheese, butter, and milk.
“At 1 am?” Draco raised his eyebrow, deeply irritated. He rubbed his temple in circles.
“I didn’t intend to disturb you. Please go to bed. I promise to keep the noise down,” you assured the man in front of you, using the same polite tone as always. You didn’t meet his eyes but kept staring at the content of the pot that was starting to mix slightly. Keeping your head down and pulling your arms tightly towards your sides, your posture indicated your inferiority.
How Draco hated it when you were doing that.
“It’s just that I missed home,” you gave in to the urge of explaining yourself. Even though you didn’t need to. After all, Draco Malfoy was a cold man and you didn’t owe him any justification. Besides, this would not interest him.
“I see,” he nonchalantly replied.
“And I missed Mac n’ Cheese. So much,” you blurted out.
“What?” irritation still resonated in his voice. Draco had shortly closed his eyes, resisting the urge not to rub them as he used to do it when he was a little child.
“I said Mac and Cheese.”
“Macaroni and Cheese?” you softly asked, making the same blank expression as Draco.
“What is this garbage?”
“It’s Macaroni and a sort of creamy sauce made from these ingredients,” you gestured towards the things that you had collected. Before the blonde had come home, you had cooked and drained the noodles properly.
“Aren’t these normal noodles?” It was a simple, precise counter question.
“Well, it’s 1 am… and we didn’t have any macaroni.”
“Or cheddar,” you added.
“Or anything of the usual ingredients,” you mumbled sheepishly.
“So basically you’re experimenting,” Draco detected.
“It may appear like it. But it really isn’t like this. You seem tired. Why don’t you go to rest?” You once again tried to be very polite. After all, you didn’t want to waste his precious time.
Draco’s gaze met yours and for a short moment, the two of you just stared at each other until he averted his eyes and gave a sigh.
“Shit,” Draco cursed. He had changed into something much comfier, had loosened his tie and slipped out of the stiff white shirt and even stiffer pants.
He was ready to sleep – was tired to the bones, really. Yet he found himself lying wide awake in his bed, all because of the ruckus in his stomach; which was turning and twisting, grumbling and demanding for some nutrients.
It was long past one by now; he reckoned and sighed, giving in after his stomach raised its voice once more. And so the blonde slipped out of the comfortable and warm bed, embracing the minimal colder air that to him, felt like winter air.
He could’ve woken up Loony, could’ve ordered her to cook something for him but Draco didn’t really want to wait long. Besides, this would’ve been much more trouble than cracking an egg into the frying pan. He’s lived all on his own for a certain period of time, had learned to make some basic meals and the fact that he’s been very dependent his whole life.
You were still there when he quietly entered the kitchen, approaching the refrigerator.
“I am sorry. Did I wake you?” you carefully asked.
“No,” he gave a curt reply, skimming the fridge for something that he could consider eating at this late hour.
You watched Draco lean over; watched the platinum blonde hair strands cover his slightly large forehead. He always carried the picture of being so immaculate, always kept his hair awfully neat with hair gel. Somehow – now- dressed in a pair of black jogging pants and a washed out t-shirt, he seemed like a different person. More approachable and more human somehow. And all because you could see the blonde locks messily curling at his forehead.
“The Mac n’ Cheese is almost done. Would you like to have a bit?”
Why were you so talkative today?
It was late.
He turned around to return your gaze but didn’t close the fridge; just let his hand rest on the handle. Draco’s eyes travelled to the pot that you were still stirring and then he turned up his nose.
“You don’t have to if you don’t want.”
Of course not, he thought, internally rolling his eyes. What a stupid statement.
“Well, Loony isn’t here to make me something. So why not.”
“What? Why are you looking so surprised?”
“Nothing,” you shook your head and scooped some of the sticky noodles out of the pot. The molten cheese was drawing strings and steam was rising in the air.
“Do you want more?”
“No. That suffices,” he took the plate that you handed him before you summoned a fork out of the drawer.
Sitting down at the counter, Draco couldn’t help but eye the weird yellow lump once again before in the end, he set the fork down to stab some noodles. The blonde softly blew the food so he could put it into his mouth. Instantly, a cheesy, rich flavour was filling his mouth as he chewed on the noodles
No, that was an understatement. It was delicious.
“Ahh, this is good,” you sighed after having your first bite as well, your face in pure bliss as you were devouring your own portion of Macaroni and Cheese. And to Draco, you seemed much softer somehow, not as uptight and hollow as you usually seemed.
Unintentionally he had to smile.
Looking back down, he missed the way you gave him a surprised, almost questioning look.
Chapter 9: Accompany
Winter had passed by in a blink of an eye and soon you didn’t have to clean the front of the store anymore. Every day you could spend the hours surrounded by books, could offer advice and background information about titles and authors for potential buyers. And it was so fulfilling to see other wizards’ and witches’ content faces when they left the store, happy that they found the perfect present or book for themselves
Mr. Wilson had given you a long list today. It was almost the end of the year and it was time to check the inventory and update the data for the accounting part. Thus for this work day, you retreated to the small warehouse to count the supply, noting the numbers down for each title. Too soon, the sky’s colour faded into a darker shade and the shop owner came to the back to tell you that your shift was over.
“_______, your shift is over,” his hoarse and fragile voice came from the entrance.
“I’ll finish this area before I call it a day,” you replied a bit confused because he had never once urged you to go home.
“Your husband has come to pick you up. Better not let him wait, _______.”
“My husband?” you furrowed your brows, appearing in between the shelves to give Mr. Wilson a bewildered gaze.
“Yes, at least that is what he’s claiming. I’ve never seen your husband before,” a little smile brightened Mr. Wilson’s face, making him seem much younger.
“I’ll come, Mr. Wilson.”
“How many times do I have to tell you to call me Edward?”
“Ahh, yes. I am sorry. I am coming right up, Edward.”
“Sounds much better,” he chuckled before his wrinkled face disappeared from your view.
“He’s over there,” Edward pointed towards the tall blonde man dressed in a long black coat and suit. Draco was standing in front of a shelf, intently studying some book titles that had caught his eye. Slightly tilting his head, he read the colourful letters of book spines. You were taking awfully long. He was sure that he had introduced himself to the shop owner ten minutes ago. Yet you still weren’t here.
“Is that your husband?”
“Yes, yes he is.”
You hid the surprise in your voice when recognizing that it was indeed Draco who was waiting for you. How come that he was here? Furthermore, how did he even know that you were working at this shop?
You had never told him, had never once spoken to him about your job, let alone had he had the chance to find out on his own. Draco usually came home later than your work hours.
“How come he’s never once picked you up in the past months?” suspicion was audible in his voice and you immediately set off to get rid of these thoughts.
“He’s very busy, Mr. Wil- uhm Edward. He works for the Ministry.”
“Still. I wouldn’t let my wife go home in the dark like that,” Edward mumbled and you couldn’t help but smile.
“It’s alright. I can take care of myself,” you held up your wand and the old man returned your smile.
“Have a nice evening, ______.”
With that, you bid goodbye to the owner and slowly walked over to the man who introduced himself as your husband.
“Draco,” you earned his attention.
“_______. You’re late.”
“I apologize. Mr. Wilson had to discuss a few things with me,” you explained before adding, “Is there anything that you needed?”
“No. Let’s get going,” he turned his back on you without waiting for your reply and you looked back to share one last look with Edward before hurrying after the black silhouette.
“Can you apparate?” he raised his eyebrow, looking down at you. You softly shook your head.
“I am not good at it.”
“Then hold my arm tight. We’ll apparate together.”
“Okay,” you carefully grabbed his arm, making sure not to touch him somewhere else. He growled something incoherent and sighed before his cold hands reached out to pull you closer, adjusting your grip.
“Like this,” eyes of ashes were gazing at you for a long, almost meaningful moment before he took his wand out, concentrating on the apparition procedure.
You closed your eyes when the uncomfortable sensation of dematerializing and materializing overcame you before things went back to normal and you landed on the soft grass in front of the entrance to the house.
“Thank you,” you muttered breathlessly and he tilted his head in acknowledgement. Softly he loosened your iron grip on his arm and you sheepishly released him, instantly apologizing.
He unlocked the door and walked in without saying anything: You followed suit.
Chapter 10: Flight
So it gradually mingles...
The two of you spent your first Christmas as a married couple, locked up in your rooms after taking dinner together. Things were quiet ever since Draco had offered the armistice. There was no arguing and nobody made snide comments. The hostility had made room for quiet distance and keeping the already taciturn conversations to a minimum.
Well, that was until three days until New Year’s Eve.
You knocked at the massive door that led to his bedroom, a place that you had only visited once or twice.
“I am busy,” the clearness of his voice was muffled through the door.
“I am sorry to bother you. But our parents called,” you leant in, practically speaking to the wooden material of the skillfully carved door.
“They’re coming for New Year’s Eve.”
The door was rashly opened, blowing cold air into your face. Draco stood before you, his face emotionless as ever. But today, you had to admit that he was looking good in his dark green pullover that created such a contrast to his pale skin tone.
“What did you say?”
“Your parents and my parents are coming over in three days. We need to prepare accordingly.”
Draco cursed under his breath.
“Loony will cook masters’ parents’ favourite foods.”
“That’s good. I will leave the cooking to you. Have we prepared the guest rooms?”
The house elf nodded and you imitated her, confirming it for yourself.
“Do we have presents…” you whispered, speaking more to yourself than to anyone.
“We have. I just went out to buy some,” you flinched and Draco couldn’t help but snort in amusement. You seemed to be easily scared.
“You have the habit of startling me.”
“Pardon me.” His thin lips curled into a mocking smile.
“My favourite colour is this one,” you remarked out of the nowhere, from across the room.
“What are you saying?” the irritation was visible on his face. He set the quill down.
Both of you had been preparing things for the arrival of your parents. Things had to be perfect, starting from the dinner to the guest rooms. Tomorrow they’d arrive and as everything was on point, the two of you had finally a few hours to relax.
“We’ve been married for more than half a year and we don’t know anything about each other.” Draco stared at you for one more moment, dumbfounded, suspicious, irritated – you didn’t actually know what was going on inside of this complicated mind.
“Mine is dark green.”
“Because it was the colour of your Hogwarts house?”
“No. Because it suits me.”
“Noted that. My favourite subject was History of Magic.”
He nodded and you told him about your house in return. The blonde meekly tilted his head.
“I like Astrology aside of History though. Stars and planets interest me a lot.”
“For me it’s Alchemy.”
“Are you trying to make gold to add to your fortune?”
“Please,” again, his lips curled into a smile, “Gold is boring.” Today his mocking tone sounded almost playful and you smiled as well.
“The Philosopher’s Stone was indeed very interesting though,” he admitted, chewing on his lips, a very unusual action, as he reminisced the blurry events of his first year. Back then when he was still young and stupid.
“It was destroyed, wasn’t it?”
Sensing that this wasn’t exactly the topic Draco seemed to prefer talking about, you decided to keep the conversation going in another direction.
“When I was little I wanted to be a pilot.”
“A pilot?” he raised his eyebrow in disbelief.
“I always thought flying would be cool,” you stared into space, remembering how it felt when you had been allowed to fly on a broomstick back at school.
“You do know that we have broomsticks, don’t you?”
“Mom locked it away when I snuck out to go to my friend’s instead of dancing lessons,” your reply sounded quiet and Draco, who had picked up his quill again, stopped writing. He grabbed his wand and sealed the ink bottle, swiftly walking over to you.
“We’re going on a flight.”
“Of course, now. Don’t pose such stupid questions.”
“Mount the broom like this,” he put the broom on the ground, before holding out his open hand.
“Up!” and the broomstick flew towards his waiting hand and into his grasp. You mimicked his action, choosing not to mention that you still were well acquainted with how to mount and fly on brooms.
“Take off like this. Slowly,” he directed, climbing rising moderately and steadily until he was at least three feet above your head. You craned your neck to look up to him before climbing on your broom as well.
You managed to get in line with him, even if it was a little shaky and unsteady. Draco flew closer to you, his eyes stayed sharp and focused, ready to reach out for you anytime in case you’d fall. It was getting darker outside and you could see the dark green, lumpy grass from above, Loony’s flowerbed and the vegetable garden located to the right before the property slowly mingled with the forest.
“Want to go higher?” the blonde asked after letting you some time to adjust to the feeling of sitting on a broom; of getting used to the height. He was being quite considered despite his usual impatient self.
He let you rise first before following from below, keeping an eye on you as the two of you climbed the invisible stairs of the sky, flew past fluffy looking clouds, so dark they looked like grey cotton candy. The sun had long set, had gone, so the stars could come out.
Feeling comfortable now, you accelerated. Higher and higher until you could see the bright lights of the cities, connected to each other like veins of a body. Pulsing, living and twinkling.
“It’s beautiful,” you spoke against the wind, looking down in awe. Draco didn’t reply; just spent a few minutes looking at where you’ve been staring, soaking in the solace of the exhilaration and the dizzying height.
“Shall we have a race?” you suggested and he sneered slightly, not really fond of the idea.
“It’s okay if you don’t want to. I apologize for asking.”
“No, I was worried that you might get hurt since you haven’t flown for a while.” Even though his thoughts were probably very reasonable, to you these words were like a soft touch. You smiled.
“It’s going to be okay.”
“I didn’t know you could be so stupid,” Draco bluntly said out loud.
“I didn’t know you were so uptight.”
“I am not,” his lips curled and something flashed in his grey eyes, “that’s your job.”
“Oh yeah?” He just nodded and you chewed on your lips.
“Alright,” you hummed and then dove deeper. Tears welled up in your eyes, caused by the cold wind. But it was fun, so much fun. With adrenaline circulating in your body, you couldn’t help but cry out loud.
It was a loud laugh, a jubilant cheer even though you were falling at high speed.
Draco reached the ground before you, landing gracefully on his feet after he had skillfully navigated his broom. His blonde hair was tousled, a pink blush faintly painted on his pale cheeks from the cold wind. He sniffled slightly
“Why are you so good at this?” you breathlessly inquired, landing next to him – a little less elegant though.
“I’ve played in the Quidditch team as a seeker before dropping out in my sixth year.”
“You flew like a god,” your voice was a bit higher than usual, completely soaked in excitement. Draco tilted his head in fascination. It was funny how you seemed much more radiant with apple cheeks and wind kissed hair. Your appearance was dishevelled, messy even, so far off from a perfect and beautiful woman. The one, that he had met at the beginning of his engagement.
They were the same, yet weren’t; were as different as night and day.
It brought a genuine smile on his face.
Chapter 11: Protection
Written in 2017
“So is your husband going to pick you up again, today?” Edward’s low voice sounded from behind you.
“Here you go,” you said after closing the paper bag and handing it over to the customer.
“Have a nice day!”
“Sorry Edward, I had to finish that. Yes, I actually think so.”
“He should be coming soon then.”
“Yes, it seems so. He usually comes straight from work.”
“Mind getting me some more copies of the Lockhart series? There aren’t many left.”
“Of course,” you agreed and left the front to go to the stock, all while hearing the shop owner mumbling something similar to “he’s still so popular even though he’s in St. Mungo’s”.
Whoever that Lockhart man was, you shrugged and just pulled some of the bound books out of the shelf. With help of your wand, you directed them to their rightful place in the shop.
Then you went to close the shop for today by starting with the cash register. Every day, the money needed to be counted before it was locked away in a safe place.
The bell at the door softly rang and just as you came back to the front.
“I’ll be getting that, Edward! That’s probably Draco.”
“Good evening,” his smooth voice sounded like dripping honey. He wore a bright, charming smile, keeping his posture and shoulders relaxed. Tugging his hands into the pocket of his dark coat, he ambled over to the counter; approaching you with determination and confidence.
“I am your personal taxi tonight.”
“Good evening,” you greeted, not sure why he was acting so weird - as if he was familiar with you. “And you are?”
The uncertainty in your voice made his grin broaden.
“Well that’s not your husband,” Edward, who probably wanted to see why things were so quiet, showed up out of nowhere.
“It’s a pity I am not. She’s beautiful to the core.” The man replied with a smile. There was amusement in his eyes and unintentionally, you furrowed your brows.
“Don’t forget to lock the door, okay?”
“Yes, of course, Edward!” And with that, the friendly old owner disappeared to the back again.
“Sir, I am sorry. But have we met before?”
“No, no we actually haven’t. I am Blaise. Blaise Zabini. Draco’s best friend,” Blaise introduced himself before extending his hand. You took it, hesitantly and let him do the shaking.
“Draco’s stuck at work. So he asked me to accompany you home instead.”
“Blaise,” he just interrupted with a friendly smile.
“Okay, uhm. Blaise. That’s very kind of you, to agree with his plea,” you began, “But I don’t know you. So it’s okay for me to go home on my own.”
“I thought you would say that,” Blaise replied nonchalantly, not bothered at all, “however Draco asked me to accompany you home and there’s no way that I’d refuse to help my proud, proud best friend.”
“Shall we walk then?”
“I’ll have to decline, because that way, I’ll still have some creepy stranger following me then.”
“Ouch, that hurt,” his white teeth flashed briefly when he smiled.
“Thank you very much for your concern, really,” you waved your wand so you could slip into the coat without much effort.
“But I will go home on my own,” your answer was firm, leaving no room for arguments. Perhaps after seeing the resolve in your eyes, Blaise lightly shrugged, finally giving in.
“There’s no helping it, isn’t it? How could I win against such a determined woman?”
“It was nice to meet you,” he extended his hand and you took it, only to have him press his lips on the back of your hand. He was charismatic and witty in a way.
“It was nice to meet you too.”
Blaise acknowledged your words with a soft nod before he turned around and walked out of the bookstore, his coat faintly moving with each step he took.
You sighed and stepped out into the cool air, just a few minutes later.
“Did she arrive at home?” Draco asked, not bothering to look up from the files that he was going through. Blaise was leaning at the door frame.
“Dunno. She walked home.”
“What did you say?” the blonde’s head jerked towards the door, his silver eyes glittering with subtle anger.
“Well, she didn’t want me to accompany her home. A stubborn wife you got yourself there. Stubborn, but beautiful.”
“Blaise,” Draco growled through his gritted teeth.
“I asked you to do a simple thing and you didn’t manage to do even that?” The Malfoy got up and grabbed his coat, waving his wand so he could slip into the sleeves.
“My my, there’s no need to get so worked up. She’s an adult, isn’t she? Why are you so concerned?”
“I don’t care about her, Blaise. A criminal is on the run and the Aurors – Potter – are trying to catch him. I just don’t want her to be dead meat. Cause that’s what she’ll be if he’s done with her,” Draco made sure to give his friend a glare when he said the last sentence, underlining just how severe Blaise’s “mistake” was.
“If someone asks, I’ll be back in a few,” Draco’s cool voice had grown a few degrees colder when he swiftly marched out of his office.
“That’s what people call concerned…”Blaise mumbled, deep amusement shining in his eyes.
“So much for ‘I don’t care about her’ ” he snorted and shook his head.
Draco still had so much to learn.
The night was clear, with no stars and no clouds, making the sky appear to be wiped empty. You pulled rewrapped your scarf around your neck, letting it warm you. It was raining and there was quite a wind going. Nevertheless, it wasn’t bad to walk for a bit, even though the darkness surely did spark some paranoia.
Bushes would seem more dangerous and trees were suddenly much more intimidating in their size. Every now and then, you couldn’t help but flinch a little, startled by random noises such as the sound of wood breaking or the hooting of wild owls. Gosh, there was a murderer lurking around every corner too, so you were convinced.
When the rain picked up and the wind wafted all the raindrops on your coat from the sides, you were about half way of the distance. You hand closed around your wand. Just as you decided to apparate home, despite not being very experienced in doing so, a strong, large hand clasped around your arm. Your umbrella fell and disappeared into the night.
Then a loud scream, a lot of panic and some wild, uncoordinated hits followed so you could free your hands. The wind was whipping rain into your face.
“Expelliarmus,” you send the wand flying, pushing the heavy body away and to the ground. It was more luck than skill, actually. A curse was heard.
“It’s me, _______. Draco,” cool voice was loud enough for you to hear from the distance. Blonde hair was illuminated by the moonlight and the man got up, rubbing his arm.
“Goodness, Draco. Why are you here?”
“Picking you up because someone decided to walk home on their own,” he ignored your outstretched hand and got up on his own. Draco’s annoyance was visible on his face even though it was rather dark outside.
“Well, I didn’t know him. Nobody should walk home with a suspicious stranger!”
“Better than walking alone! You could’ve been killed!” he started scolding you.
“No, I wouldn’t! I am fine on my own!” You didn’t want him to rage when you weren’t in the wrong.
“What was that defence attack just now? Expelliarmus? There are loads of better spells that you can use! Take Stupefy for example. Or Arania Exumai,“ Draco went on, completely immersed in his boiling anger.
“Give me your wand.”
“So I can summon mine. I am not gonna search for it in the dark.” You wordlessly handed it over and soon, he was holding his own wand in his hands.
“Come, let’s go home. You’re soaked.”
“Whose fault do you think this is?” Draco gave you a glare but then decided not to say anything.
“You didn’t have to pick me up anyway! Why bother if you just get angry?”
Draco just ignored you. He grabbed your hand. With his wand and some magic, he created a small water fountain so to use as a replacement to your umbrella.
You watched his broad back, walking behind him as he pulled you along. Even though it was rough, you couldn’t help but realize that his hands were warm.
Chapter 12: Wounds
ever so slowly...
written in 2017
April brought weather like Ava’s mood swings when she was sulking about the fact that your father was not allowing her to go to another party. With her being his favourite, these tantrums rarely happened though.
In addition to the bad weather, Draco seemed to be convinced that he had to give you some basic defense lessons. Not that you minded, you never knew when these could come in handy. You had received lessons at home, but these were only restricted to poring over books and reciting the spells without even practicing them. Thus, you had little to no experience when it came to defense.
“Posture,” Draco barked for the hundredth time.
He had let you practice the simplest spells at first, treating you like a kid before he finally allowed you to try the first few spells that could actually cause damage. For that, he had taken you outside where he had set up a small training pitch which had a magical barrier around. Inside of that area, everything could happen without any further impact on the places outside the border.
You straightened your posture but made sure that your weight was still balanced well, something that Draco had also been nagging on from the very beginning.
“Keep your balance or else the impact of firing will throw you off your feet,” you mumbled, mimicking his cold demanding voice before firing the Blasting Curse towards the wall. Immediately after, you used the Shield Charm to protect yourself from any shards that could fly towards your direction.
“Not bad,” the blonde muttered to himself, even though he had to admit that it indeed impressed him how quickly you were learning. With a swift movement of his wand, the wall rose again, ready to be destroyed for once more.
“Do it again,” he demanded.
“Okay,” you obeyed, focusing on everything that he had told you about. You didn’t want him to criticize you because he seemed so much more arrogant whenever he did that. And you weren’t going to give him one more moment of superiority.
“Good,” Draco watched you blast the wall into pieces, this time achieving a stronger effect than before. He let you rebuild the wall before walking closer to you.
“Your Blasting Curse could be even more powerful if you relax a little bit more,” he cast a curse, so powerful it only left a pile of dust. He restored the wall before turning towards you.
“Why so tense?” the blonde placed his large hands on your shoulders, slightly putting a little bit of pressure on your shoulder by pressing his fingertips on the tense spots. You weren’t used to him giving you his full attention, not like this.
Of course, you’d be nervous when there was this cold pair of grey eyes watching each of your movements.
“Release the tension,” he told you and you shivered slightly, realizing how awfully close he actually was. You could feel his breath against your neck and unintentionally you tensed up a little more.
“Why are you even more tense?” there was a hint of surprise in his voice and even though you weren’t looking at him, you just knew that he had furrowed his brows.
“That’s because you’re too close,” you answered, now with cheeks burning. Averting your eyes, you felt how he backed away, the warmth that was radiating from his body disappearing just to leave cool air.
“Hah,” he made and to you, it sounded like a little snort. You turned to meet his gaze, only to find the ghost of a smile curling his thin lips. Draco was just astonished of how innocent you sometimes were acting and somehow, he found that adorable.
“What are you laughing for?” you grumbled, eyes narrowing as you looked at the way his eyes crinkled slightly.
“Nothing,” his face muscles twitched slightly – the only sign of his amusement. You raised your eyebrows, hand resting on your hip. It looked bossy and that seemed to entertain Draco even more. The blonde gave a chuckle and to you, it sounded like cool sparkling wine on a hot day.
“Nothing?” you repeated, but couldn’t help but smile as well.
“She blows up walls like a pro but gets flustered when a man stands near her,” he mumbled and you just looked at him before his real intention dawned to you.
“Draco Malfoy, are you trying to tease me?” you reprimanded.
“I might be,” he shrugged nonchalantly, the smile in his eyes never once disappearing.
“I didn’t know you could do that,” you muttered breathlessly while shaking your head; not believing your eyes – or more like, ears.
“How come?” Now it was his turn to look surprised.
“You just don’t seem like a person who usually teases others,” you admitted and your face was clueless as ever.
“In fact… you’re a bully.”
“Me, a bully?” He gave you his infamous “I-don’t-approve” face, an expression consisting of downward curled lips and very high raised eyebrows and eyes – scrutinizing you thoroughly.
“You’ve nagged about my posture for at least three times.”
“Your posture is bad,” Draco stated objectively.
The glare you gave him said everything.
“Back to your lesson,” the blonde continued seamlessly as if this conversation didn’t happen at all.
He taught you more than just magic battle skills. Because Draco Malfoy was a serious man; diligent and efficient in whichever task he had to carry out. And so, he taught you some basic skills in working with a knife as well, just in case you’d lose your wand.
“You’re small and fast. Use your agility to compensate for your lack of strength,” Draco’s cold voice instructed you as he grabbed both of your hands. His cold skin was touching yours, taking you into an iron grip. Unintentionally you had to shiver and goosebumps were all over your arms.
“And most importantly: Use your brain,” he came extremely close and you could feel his warm breath against your cheek while he pulled you closer.
Promptly, you kicked the spot between his legs and he groaned, closing his eyes as he crouched. You slipped out of his loosened grip.
“Like this?” you innocently asked, not regretting a little bit. He had been picking on your ever since this lesson started and you were dying to give a little back.
Draco took a deep breath, suppressing his pain as he slowly stood up again. He cursed softly.
“Yeah,” he slowly breathed, still trying to get over the fact that you just kicked his precious belongings.
“Will you let me use the knife?” you eagerly inquired, feeling exhilarated by your little victory over this cocky man.
“You aren’t ready.”
“I just defeated you.”
“Mere luck,” he spat.
Draco had coaxed the fighter out of you; had somehow managed to discover this new side of you. Where you’d actually fight back. Even if it was just when you tried to escape from his grasp. He’d see this sparkle in your eyes and it was the proof that there was more to your character than just obeying orders like a mindless chess figure.
On the day of the last lesson, he actually allowed you to fight with all the methods that he had taught you in the past month.
“Don’t hold back.”
He did anyway.
“Don’t ever turn your back to your attacker,” his lips brushed your ear when he grabbed you from behind, abruptly pulling you back. Your wand fell out of your hands, rolling somewhere else. You started to resist but didn’t succeed in freeing yourself from his clutches. But you kept on struggling until your elbow hit his sides. Hard.
In an instant, his arm loosened. Just a little bit. But enough for you to use it to your advantage. Slipping out of his grip, you had pulled the knife out of your boots just as quick as you rammed it into his flesh. Your survival instinct had gone off before you could realize what real damage you had caused.
“I am sorry!” your voice was several octaves higher, dipped in uncontrolled panic as you hurried towards Draco. He cursed before pressing his lips tightly together, bracing himself for the pain that was to come when he pulled the weapon out of his flesh.
“Fuck,” he said after the cold metal was gone – he had thrown it somewhere- and pressed his hand onto the wound. Warm blood was gushing out of the injury, staining his shirt and his fingers; making them all sticky.
“Gosh, Draco. I am so, so sorry,” you exhaled; face as white as a sheet.
“It’s okay,” he gritted his teeth and you retrieved your wand.
“I’ll make up to it,” gripping his healthy arm, you clumsily apparated into the house before sitting him down in the salon. It was a miracle you didn’t splinch.
Summoning the first aid kit that was somewhere in this huge house, you searched for some bandages. Or some Dittany’s essence, a rather rare remedy, as it was very hard to get. But of course, just as wealthy as they were, the Malfoys did have a bottle in their inventory.
“I need to undress you. I can’t see the wound that way,” you spoke quietly and under normal circumstances, you were sure that saying this would have embarrassed you.
Draco’s gaze met yours and he nodded curtly, silently giving you the permission that you needed.
And his shirt was gone, exposing his upper body and the first thing you noticed, was that there were little scars all over his body. Faint lines scattered arbitrarily over his stomach, his chest, his arms. Your breath hitched and for a moment you just stared, asking yourself where a man like him could’ve gotten all these scars from.
When Draco shivered slightly because the cold air hit his skin, you came back to your senses. You still had to treat his wound. The very one that you had inflicted. Your heart squeezed in guilt.
You inched closer while Draco took his hand away, revealing the wound that seemed to be deeper than you had initially thought. It was still bleeding and you swiftly proceeded to drip some of the healing liquid and he hissed when the wound closed.
“I am sorry to have hurt you,” you breathed, slowly backing away.
“I didn’t mean to. I mean… we were fighting so I guess I did but…I really didn’t mean to,” you spoke quickly; you were too worked up; were too upset.
“Don’t worry. I’ve had it worse.”
“I am so sorry,” you repeated. But your voice broke and Draco could see the unshed tears in your eyes, shimmering like thousand pieces of broken glass.
“I’m okay now, aren’t I?” he flexed his arm in proof but it was no surprise that that couldn’t calm you down.
“I just…,” you helplessly began, kneading your hands as you kept staring at him, at his scars and at the smeared blood that was the only hint that there had been an injury.
Never in your life had you deliberately hurt someone, anyone. So hurting him was a shock; a slap in your face. You had learned to defend yourself but somehow, in all these exercises you had lost track of the fact that if you indeed successfully defended yourself, it would mean that you would hurt your opponent. Or even kill.
After Loony had brought a bowl with warm water, you had insisted in cleaning off the dried blood on his arm and his hand.
“Please let me do that,” you quietly pleaded as he moved closer to the bowl, intending to clean his stained hand. The blonde haltered and your gaze searched his, asking for approval. Draco gave nod and placed his open hand on top of yours.
He watched how the red mixed with the clear water, dyeing it into a light but a misty shade of red; watched how you gently wiped down the dried blood with a cloth, once in a while dipping it into the water. As if he was something fragile. But he wasn’t. At this moment you were the one.
“All done,” you wrung out the cloth after washing out all the excess blood. Then you draped the wet fabric over the rim of the half-full bowl to leave to dry.
“You didn’t have to do that,” his voice was raspy due to the long period of silence that had set in between you. It tickled your stomach even though he wasn’t even close to you.
“I wanted to,” he felt your gaze on him while slipping into a new shirt that Loony had brought. He buttoned his shirt before facing you again.
There was guilt on your lips and apologies on the rim of your eyes and Draco’s heart squeezed. It’s been long since he had last tried to console a girl, a woman that wasn’t his mother. The young Malfoy reckoned that he forgot how to deal with such situations. So he just said nothing. Even though there were words on his tongue; waiting to come out, waiting to be said. He only had to open his mouth, this mouth that was shut; locked tightly.
Instead, he left the room, the “thank you” lost in the depths of his throat.
Chapter 13: Nightmares
There was no way you couldn’t know about the 2nd May. Exact five years ago, Harry Potter defeated Lord Voldemort in the Great Hall. Five years ago on exactly this day, the war was marked as over, when night made place for dawn, like a veil that had been lifted.
A war that had shaken a whole country, had claimed its tributes on both sides. Many great women and men had sacrificed their lives in order for a safer life for future generations.
You’ve read books and articles about Remus John Lupin, the kind-hearted werewolf, and his wife Nymphadora, the clumsy Auror. Had met Sirius Black; the misunderstood prisoner. And you had watched one of these very rare interviews about Fred Weasley, the short-lived entrepreneur in Diagon Alley. They’ve all died young, with hopes on their lips and the awareness that they would fight to kill.
George Weasley, the younger brother of Fred was still the head of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes as far as you knew.
The second day of May was a day which was never forgotten. Would never be. They made sure it couldn’t happen.
Speeches were held by politicians and if possible, talk shows would try to invite Harry Potter himself, who was currently working as an Auror. But these were rare occasions as the boy who had lived, preferred his privacy. Only his friend Ronald Weasley seemed to be more open about the events, much to your astonishment; because after all, Ron had lost his brother in the Battle of Hogwarts. And you definitely understood why he wouldn’t want to talk about anything.
It was weird how they were in the same year as Draco, yet you had never once met one of his classmates. Well, except Blaise. In all those talks that you had had with him, the blonde had not once mentioned Harry Potter, except on a few rare occasions. Not that you were close.
He came home around the same time as always, his posture unnaturally stiff and each of his motions tense. And he was even quieter than usual as he was sitting on the opposite side of the table, eating his dinner like he always did. Except for today, to him, it seemed to taste like cardboard. You sent Loony away, after making sure that she’d eat something as well, before sitting down for dinner as well.
But the silence was unbearable, heavy enough to squeeze the air out of your lungs. Loud enough to make your ears ring. Today, there were shadows in his cheekbones and demons on his thin lips that were becoming even thinner.
“Hey, can I ask you something?” you picked up the fork again to get some of the vegetables, unable to stand the silence.
“Go ahead,” Draco didn’t even look up. Instead, he just raised his fork towards his mouth, opening it to eat some of the meat; the silver knife resting in his other hand. Everything about him seemed elegant, graceful. Even the way he ate.
“It’s quite personal.” That earned his attention and he gave you the typical condescending eyebrow raise.
“And what would that be?” his deep voice sounded quiet but wary and it was a weird combination. How could it be soft but be so sharp at the same time?
“The Battle of Hogwarts,” you swallowed your food, “…were you there?”
Draco narrowed his eyes, slowly lowering his fork. As if it wasn’t enough commemoration, you had to be as insensitive as a brick, putting salt on his wound.
“It’s just…in one of the history books that I’ve read, it said that the majority of the Slytherins left Hogwarts. But there are scars on your body and so I assumed…” you quickly explained, stumbling over the words like you would when running over bumpy roads.
“Oh come on, don’t act as if you didn’t know,” Draco spat and the silverware that he threw on the table jangled loudly. You flinched, startled by the intensity of his reply.
“Didn’t know what?” you then dared to ask despite feeling like you had just swallowed a spoonful of broken glass.
“You don’t need to pretend. After all, there is nobody who doesn’t know on whose side my family was on,” he laughed but wasn’t amused at all. No, it sounded bitter and hollow like shells.
“He killed one of the teachers on our dining table. It was fun to watch,” he spoke, his body vibrating with pure anger. The blonde rushed out of the room before you could even open your mouth to answer; left you with the knowledge of something that your parents didn’t even bother telling you. They had locked you away, kept you secluded enough to shield you from any whispers, any rumors or newspapers. How was it possible to miss something like this? How on earth did you not think about researching?
You had always thought that you weren’t a doll; were convinced that you indeed had a colourful personality – somewhere – buried and hidden behind the walls of obedience. You had believed that they hadn’t been able to destroy you; to mold you into their perfect image.
But the truth that lied beneath that was shattering. A truth that you didn’t want to see because maybe, maybe you had known it all along.
They had married you off to a Death Eater, unbeknownst to you.
Because they had succeeded in making you their lifeless marionette.
The night was clear and full of stars. Too mesmerizing, too beautiful for a day like this. Draco pressed his lips together before he jinxed the bottle to pour some more of the strong alcohol into his glass. Unlike usually, he drank it empty at once and the liquor burned his throat, blurred his eyes. A soft cough escaped his lips and tears gathered in the corner of his eyes. But he didn’t care, just frantically rubbed his arm. It was still itchy.
The emotions inside him were still swirling like a hurricane; destroying his heart and eating his mind. They were swallowing his soul but he didn’t care;
because it was stained and dirty with the sins he couldn’t make undone.
The Malfoy was still so angry about the conversation that you had earlier, hours ago. How dare you be so impudent as to ask him about the Battle of Hogwarts? How dare you stick your nose into things that didn’t concern you? You had stirred things up by asking, assuming ridiculous things. The way you looked at him, soft admiration for him as if he was a saint. A saint.
He had met quite a few women like you, all with a charming smile on their lips and wide cleavages as they stretched out on his lap, assuming that he definitely had played a heroic role in this last fight. But he knew that they knew what he really was; what he had been.
His face had been all over the Daily Prophet, recognizable to all and humiliation to his name. Malfoy wasn’t associated with pure blood or nobility anymore, no, it was death and Voldemort and vassal and death eater.
Five years and all of these events were still like yesterday; all his mistakes just as vivid and clear like ink on white paper and blood in the snow. Draco preferred to drink on these nights, numbing the shame with some good, strong liquor – away from judgmental people. Not even in the company of his closest ones. Not, that there were many anyway.
Blaise and he never spoke about the time in the Room of Requirement. But he knew that his friend avoided open fires. Still. And he himself, he too had grown accustomed to doing a few quirks. Temple rubbing, scratching his arm. The arm that bore the scar. Some days, he was scared; to wake up and find it replenished again. The mark.
So this night he sat in the library, on the long sofa, drinking his mind away.
The second day of May felt lonely - even to a person who hasn’t been involved; had watched everything from the sidelines. But you were also very confused. More confused than shocked actually – about the things that you had learned earlier, when Draco rushed out of the kitchen, leaving his dinner nearly untouched.
How could that little, but significant detail slip past your fingers?
Murderer, your brain declared.
Draco was still wearing his suit when you discovered him much later. He was dressed entirely in black and he was drinking. A lot.
You saw the bottle on the ground and you took the liberty of jinxing it away before reluctantly entering the room as well, carefully, bracing yourself for him to lash out at you. You were entering a mining territory. Truly.
“You’re drunk,” your voice pulled him back into this very moment.
“I am not,” but he barely registered you sitting down. He had his left leg sprawled out while his right leg touched the ground and you just carefully took a seat at the remaining free space. Which turned out to be very close to him.
You stayed quiet after that and he did as well, not bothering to talk. He didn’t ask for your company anyway.
“Why are you here?” he then asked after a long time and for the first time ever since you came into the library, he had bothered returning your gaze.
Even though his expression was motionless as ever; distant and without any emotion, this time, you could read it all in his eyes. There was loneliness and hurt written all over and maybe, maybe it was because of that, that you weren’t scared of him. That the fact that he used to be a Death Eater didn’t bother as much as it should. How could he be a bad person when he looked like that; when there was so much agony in his eyes?
“I came to drink,” you held up a second glass that you had just wordlessly summoned.
“There’s no way you can hold the same liquor as me,” his lips curled scornfully.
“I can try,” you whispered earnestly.
“I won’t carry you to bed,” he motioned his wand to let the bottle pour some liquor for you.
“I won’t blame you,” you smiled before you took the first sip of the Firewhisky.
“Amazing, I didn’t know you could hold liquor so well,” he breathed after a couple more shots. His mind was starting to get foggy after drinking so much. His parents used to give banquets and of course, for the sake of politeness, he always had to drink one or two glasses with the guests so he was used to strong alcohol. But for a girl like you?
“Sometimes when my father had meetings he would allow me to go as well. And weirdly, they would insist on me drinking a little bit with them,” you lifted your secret as Draco handed you another drink.
Both of you didn’t talk after that again, just a stared out of the window, looking at the night sky and its glittering stars; watched how the top of the trees would softly sway to the music of the wind.
“And Draco?” There was a light touch on his open hand and he almost pulled it away. But he didn’t and your hand placed itself on his. Warm, and more firm and most of all, comforting.
“You’re not like that anymore,” your expression was genuine as far as he could tell.
And in your gaze, you were conveying so much more. You didn’t tell him that it was okay because it wasn’t. And he knew that as well. You didn’t tell him that he should forget and forgive himself, too. Just for the simple reason that he would probably never do that as well. Instead, you decided to tell him that he was different now. And that he had indeed made good choices.
“Why should I care for your opinion?” he quietly asked and you shook your head in reply.
“I don’t know. You just looked very lonely.”
He didn’t answer but locked his hand with yours, letting your warmth comfort him, letting your fingertips ease his hurting soul.
Just a little more.
Chapter 14: Shooting Stars
This story is woven like the threads of life.
Written in 2017
“Get dressed. We’re going out,” Draco appeared in the door and he leaned against the wooden frame, his face as distant as always. It was a little on short notice but somehow, he had just gotten home to tell you that you were leaving.
“You and me?” He heard the surprise in your voice.
“Okay. Where are we going?”
“Blaise invited us for dinner. Couldn’t talk him out of the so-called “birthday dinner”,” his deep voice didn’t give off any anticipation. He didn’t particularly seem to look forward to seeing Blaise – or to celebrate his birthday at all.
“It’s fancy,” he added.
“When are we leaving?” you just asked.
“In an hour and a half. Is that enough for you to get ready?”
He then nodded and left again. You asked Loony to prepare a bath for you so you could choose something to wear in meantime. Hanging up your clothes in the large bathroom to avoid creases, you dipped your feet into the warm water before letting your whole body slip into the bathtub. It was going to be a quick soak but the soft smell of lavender and wildflowers always had a relaxing effect on you.
After washing your hair properly and scrubbing off sweat and dirt, you stepped out of the now lukewarm water and rubbed yourself dry. The steam of the initially hot water was keeping the room warm while you were changing. Summer was approaching, which was exactly why you had decided to wear a simple black dress. Black was elegant and it always managed to bring out the best of your features, concealing chubby parts and highlighting your curves.
You dried your hair with a spell before leaving the bathroom to get some makeup. Loony knocked at the door.
“Is Master done with her bath?”
“Yes. Thank you for the herbs. Your lavender was wonderful,” you praised her herbal garden and the house elf gave a wide smile, revealing rows of yellow teeth.
“Can Loony comb your hair?”
“Of course you can,” you sat down, facing the small mirror that hung on the wall. Meanwhile Loony made a large stool appear out of nowhere so she could stand on it. Her touch was gentle while she carefully combed your hair until it was soft and fluffy. With another spell, you applied some lipstick and a little mascara before concentrating on some subtle eyeliner. It was such a surprise that your mother actually allowed you to use makeup, as she was as conservative enough to believe in no sex before marriage. But sometimes, even your mother was full of surprises.
“How do I look?”
“Master looks pretty,” Loony made the moves to touch your hair in reverence before she abruptly pulled her hand back.
“It’s okay, Loony. You can touch it.”
“Loony thanks her master,” the house elf whispered before shyly touching your hair.
“You look absolutely stunning, ________,” Blaise took your hand to place a butterfly kiss on your skin as soon as you stepped into the restaurant along with Draco, who seemed rather moody about the fact that he had to be here.
“You’re too kind to me, Blaise.”
“The truth doesn’t require kindness, love,” he gave you a wink and you laughed.
“And there’s the birthday boy,” Blaise then approached Draco and they both grabbed the other by the forearm, a solemn greeting between close friends.
“Let’s sit down over there. I have reserved a table.”
“Thanks Blaise, we’re heading home now,” Draco curtly said before he grabbed your arm and pulled you towards the door. You barely had the chance to turn around and tell him “thank you”. Blaise watched the two of you go, a soft, amused chuckle escaping his lips.
“Draco, wait, you’re hurting me!” you almost yelled as you stumbled after him. Only then, he slightly released his grip but his hand took yours in his before he apparated back home.
He didn’t say a word during all that time, too confused was he over the fact that irritation was bubbling in his mind. He didn’t like how close Blaise has gotten to you when he; when he was your husband. And Blaise that bloody bastard, acting all chummy with his wife. Incredible.
And you looked stunning, he had to admit. Draco wasn’t sure why he had never noticed that before. But today he did, when you walked into the kitchen with rosy cheeks from the bath and slight makeup and that dress, that was bringing out your features a little too well for his taste.
You were laughing too much, batting your eyelash when looking down and your lips, fuck, were you always chewing on them whenever you were thinking deeply? Because even though the lipstick was in the most discreet shade, your lips had that sinful, almost luscious tone. Draco wasn’t able to put his attention away from you and he was agitated that today -on his birthday - you hadn’t even bothered to give him, him, your husband, a present; let alone a short congratulation.
Of course, he would be in a foul mood when the two of you arrived home.
“Are you okay?” your soft voice ripped him out of his sour thoughts and the blonde raised his head to give you a cool look.
“I am going back to my room,” he ignored your question.
“Alright. Do you mind waiting for a minute? There’s something I want to talk to you about.”
Draco just raised his eyebrows but didn’t protest either.
“Uhm…let’s go to the salon instead,” you suggested, eyes wandering from side to side, suddenly nervous because of his stare. With your heart racing, you walked to the salon, well aware that this beautiful man was following you, his long graceful steps sounding steadily behind you.
“What is it?”
“Draco, don’t just stand around in the middle of the room. Will you sit down, please? I am not planning an attack,” you breathlessly said when seeing his tall figure standing in the salon, wary and suspecting.
He followed suit and crossed his legs upon sitting on the expensive leather sofa. You waved your wand and out of one of the drawers, a small package flew towards you, carefully wrapped in silver paper; a blue bow sitting on top like a crown.
Then you sat down in front of him, on the other sofa. You slowly reached out and placed the small thing into his open hands before taking his hands into yours and closing it around the box.
“Since it’s your birthday, I prepared a small present for you. I didn’t know what exactly to buy – especially when you probably have everything you need,” you let out a soft laugh and Draco felt the goosebumps on his arms.
“And so I wrote to your mom, in hope that she could tell me something helpful. It’s nothing big, or new…but I still hope that it could bring you some joy. So, in this sense: Happy Birthday,” you finished your speech.
He scrunched his forehead, soft creases appearing on his forehead as he looked at you and then at the present before he buried his long hands in his light hair, tousling it until they had that messy, but very handsome effect.
“Thank you,” he muttered, his voice raspy.
“Do you want to unpack it?”
“No. I will just stare at it like this,” there was a smile around the corner of his lips and his expression was strangely soft. Watching his slender fingers unwrap the present made you think about the fact that everything he was doing seemed so graceful and elegant and it was weird to know that even the normal things seemed to have such a cultivated touch as well.
He remembered it, the small metal clock in the colour of his eyes that he had gotten from his mother for his birthday, years ago. It was simple, nothing pompous like the things he usually had gotten. But there were small engravings of star constellations on the back and the star signs on the lid.
Draco loved astrology, loved to watch the stars when nobody was around, indulging the quietness of the night, of the world which seemed to halter – to stop spinning. At that time, there were no responsibilities and no burdens, no faults, and expectations. Just peace and solace and ink-stained stars and planets.
He remembered breaking it in his sixth year, slamming the clock against the wall of the bathroom at Hogwarts and watching it shatter into pieces just like his mind. Because he had no time. And there was only fear and failure and almost. Almost succeeding, almost killing. Almost, almost, almost. He regretted it afterward when picking up the remnants of the watch, with shaky fingers and a heavy heart. Because he had destroyed the only thing that held happy memories, had moments of when his world wasn’t upside down; when it wasn’t like an hourglass that counted down his death.
Yet, he still loved that clock so dearly, even the darkest memories couldn’t make him hate it.
“Your mother sent me this and I let a craftsman repair it. I hope that is okay.”
“Thank you very much,” he didn’t admit how much this present actually meant to him. But he was genuinely happy and you could see it in the way his lips slightly curled upwards.
“Get changed and meet me at the balcony in half an hour. I’ll let Loony prepare some wine. It’s a good night to watch the stars.”
“I’d love to. But aren’t you tired from work?” you hesitantly asked
“Please, there are times where I came home even later than this,” his voice was full of playful mockery. “Will you come?”
“Yeah, I will,” you smiled and swiftly got up, the dress slightly flowing like a waterfall as you moved through the salon and then out of the room.
Draco let his fingertips brush over the cold metal, felt the familiar grooves and the familiar weight of the pocket watch. Turning it around, he took a look at the star constellations and that was when he realized that you didn’t only let it be repaired, no, you also took the liberty to add a little something. A quote, if he was to be more precise.
“You are damaged and broken and unhinged. But so are shooting stars and comets.
That moment, he was like a shooting star.
The world reformed.
Chapter 15: On the same page.
until it's bound together. Forever.
“Blimey, _________! Come in or you’ll get a cold,” Draco opened the window to yell outside. He actually couldn’t remember that you were that annoying. He always had to worry about your well-being. What a hassle. The blonde cursed under his breath.
“It’s just water!” you laughed and craned your neck to look at the grey sky that reminded you of his eyes. Somewhere in the distance, you could hear the thunder rumbling through the sky. Draco was probably right; you actually should’ve entered the house, should’ve taken shelter under the protecting and dry roof.
But the weather had been unusually hot and dry for England and you were missing rain as much as you had missed your Mac n’ Cheese in the first few months that you had spent here. Letting the water cool your hot skin, you wandered through the slippery grass, feeling the warm and drenched soil under your bare feet.
At first, you were just digging your toes into the grass, letting the stems tickle your skin as the rain kept dripping from the rim of the sky. It was how it should’ve gone, how you should’ve behaved. But that was until you found the first mud puddle.
The Malfoy saw how you looked up to where the clouds were, a silly grin on your face as the rain drenched your dress. Splatters of mud were staining the pure white fabric like freckles and the blonde couldn’t help but wonder whether it would actually be possible to remove these stains entirely. In that moment you seemed like a child that never had the opportunity to play outside. And you probably hadn’t, he realized, judging by your carefree attitude and the sheer joy over such a small thing. Sometimes, you still seemed like a child; so vulnerable and innocent. It confused him so deeply.
You had found the first tiny sea of dirty water and; oh no, you weren’t actually planning to –
Shit, you were.
The blonde shook his head in bewilderment when you jumped straight into the puddle, spraying water and loose grass everywhere. Your giggles were like clear water in a river. Refreshing and relieving, sending goosebumps down his spine.
“Merlin’s beard, ______,” he cursed under his breath before he turned on his heel, hurrying downstairs after picking up a big fluffy towel. You were going to need more than just this one, he reckoned. And he was going to get you inside before you were going to get sick; before you were going to end up as a big, whiny hassle.
“Shit, ________. Come into the house,” he demanded, not wanting to step away from the protecting roof of the terrace. By the time he had come outside, you had somehow persuaded Loony to come with you. You stood a few meters away, in the middle of the wide property, in midst of grass and the small white dots; white daisies with blushing rims. And there was Loony, standing all confused and small and forlorn next to you.
“It’s not cold at all,” you replied, holding your hands up so to catch the big drops that were continuously falling.
“Look Loony, isn’t it great? I’ve seen Nomajs doing that as well.” A small tsunami of mud splashed around.
“Master…” Loony didn’t seem too enthusiastic about being in the middle of the rain. No, rather she looked rather scared of the thunder that would occasionally rumble in the distance.
“Loony, you can go in and dry yourself. I’ll take care of your mistress.”
“Loony thanks her master.” Relieved, Loony then apparated into the house and Draco could swear that you gave a pout – you, the straight-faced woman. Another side, he didn’t know about you.
“Join me, Draco, it’s really refreshing,” you coaxed him instead, blinking some of the rain away. The blonde didn’t seem too eager to keep you company out there.
“I’ll pass,” he replied and even from afar you could see the way his lips slightly curl; the way they always did whenever he spoke lately
“Alright,” you just shrugged your shoulders and turned away to search for another puddle. It had been more fun than you had ever imagined it to be.
It still was, even when you slipped and fell, landing in the middle of a warm wet swamp. Your surprised shriek alarmed Draco to hurry towards you, the crease between his eyes deepening as he saw you sitting on the ground, the dirty water seeping through the textile. Not quite catching on the situation, you spent at least another minute remaining where you fell, blinking confusedly. Your head was blank.
Then you laughed loudly and your giggles sent shivers over his shoulders, prickling. With his wand in one hand, conjuring an artificial water umbrella, he extended his other hand to help you up. You let yourself being supported, laughter were still shaking your body like ripples of water. Your hair was hanging in thick strands, dangling as you moved your head slightly.
“It’s called Muggle by the way. We say Muggle instead of Nomaj,” he said quite off topic and unintentionally he had to smile too.
“Thanks,” you breathlessly said, eyes still wide in shock as you were regaining control of your body. Your heart was thumping wildly in your chest. Endorphins were exhilarating your veins and you felt light, relaxed and happy. So happy for the first time in long.
You didn’t know what had changed.
“Back then when I was little, I watched the servant’s children play outside. Gosh how I envied them as they dirtied the rim of their dresses and pants during the process of leaping and jumping,” you could tell that the blonde was listening by the way he was slightly tilting his head.
“I wasn’t allowed to do that,” you continued.
And suddenly you were across the sea, back to the estate of your family.
“Real ladies don’t do that kind of thing. Real ladies have to stay clean and proper,” your mother used to scold you whenever you actually made the mistake to go outside and join the other children, “How are you supposed to be a lady when you’re not even listening to your own mother?”
“I am sorry mother,” dejection was showing on your face and you looked down, not daring to meet your mother’s eyes. Your shoulders were hanging as you tried your hardest not to cry. You didn’t even need to look to know that she was wearing that expression again, the one that indicated how disappointed she was with you. Her body posture, the way she accentuated your name was already enough.
Blinking the memory away, you shortly closed your eyes before opening again. Draco was still there, his hand still gripping yours. He didn’t even think about releasing it, the warm soft and most of all, smaller hand.
Some of the rain was damping his shoulders and his back, dipping his white shirt into a grayish colour, even though had had an umbrella. Soon, parts of the smooth fabric were sticking to his warm body like a second layer of skin. Yet, strangely he didn’t care. His whole attention was on you and solely for you.
“It’s fine,” Draco replied quietly, making sure that you were standing steady again. He didn’t miss how your eyes had clouded for a moment, surely remembering bits of your cold childhood. Even now, when you seemed to have warmed and opened up to him; to the point that he could occasionally get a glimpse of the real of you; he could still see in what way your upbringing had left its inerasable mark.
It reminded him a little of himself. In fact, you were the same.
“You can release me now.”
“I rather not.” You could see the reflection of yourself in the stardust and meteorites in his eyes.
“Well then, I guess I have no choice but to do this,” your smile was somewhat witty and he raised his eyebrow when you placed his large hand on your waist. The umbrella vanished. He let you do so, curious about what you were up to. Then you put your hand on his shoulder and intertwined the other one with his free hand.
It was his turn to look surprised now; until his emotionless face softened a little. Quietly laughing to himself, he let you lead in the beginning as you clumsily moved through the mud, your dancing accompanied by your breathless humming.
“Usually, it’s the man who leads,” Draco just remarked, looking down to you. It was raining lesser now but the two of you didn’t care; didn’t pay attention at all. The thunderstorm had moved on.
“Chauvinist,” you teased him almost lovingly.
He scrutinized you thoroughly, noticed the droplets that your long lashes had caught like a spider web did with dew; caught all the small details that he had never noticed before. You were beautiful. Here, now, softly rocking back and forth while wearing a dirty dress and it wasn’t exactly how he imagined his ideal women to be.
But you were, you really were.
Releasing his hand shortly, you tucked a strand of hair behind your ear. They were all messy and tangled, sticking together from all the water. Draco snorted slightly as your fingers brushed your cheek, smudging some of the mud onto your face. It looked funny in contrast to your skin color. His chuckle earned your attention. You raised your eyebrow – something that you had adapted from Draco - posing a silent question but he just faintly shook his head.
“I didn’t know you liked dancing.”
“Or rain,” you added.
“Then why are you here?”
“Because my wife is stupid,” he simply answered and your heart squeezed tightly. Just like it always did whenever he referred to you as his wife. Draco gently whirled you around, naturally taking the lead. Things had been so different ever since he had asked you to spend some time with him, beneath the starry sky. More gentle, more intimate.
“Is she?” you let your gaze meet his; pursing your full lips a little as you spoke. The insensitivity of his look was hypnotizing you; draining all the air of your lungs. Your breath hitched; haltered for a moment before you released the air, lightly trembling when doing so.
The way you bit your lips made him wonder how they would feel against his. Would they be as soft as silk? Or even softer?
What a fool he was. He had kissed you before, hadn’t he?
“Yes,” Draco subconsciously lowered his voice and the hoarseness made you stomach curl painfully.
“I don’t know about that. All I know is that she’s drop-dead gorgeous,” you joked. The blonde just pulled you closer in response; held you in this position. Close to him; closer to his heart. You shivered slightly and his arms tightened around you. Just a little bit.
“She is,” He brought up his hand to wipe the rain from your cheeks; when he let his fingers brush your warm skin before they once again tugged some hair strands behind your ear. He was so, so gentle.
Breaths were hitching and mingling as your hearts fluttered in sync.
Thump, thump, thump.
And your stomach was in knots and your throat was dry.
Draco brought his face closer; slowly, reluctantly and most of all with such an uncertainty. Here, at this very moment, he was back to being sixteen and not twenty-two. But at the same time, the blonde savored this moment. Where time stopped and the world turned a little bit slower, where galaxies collided and stars were created.
You were Psyche and he was Amor; meant to fail but in the end, meant to be.
When his cold lips softly grazed yours, they conjured prickling sensation and at the same time, they left burning whispers of promises, such, that Hades had whispered into Persephone’s ear, so she wouldn’t leave him to wither in solitude, in midst of lost souls and broken lives.
You shivered and he unconsciously strengthened his grip, kissing you more firmly. Closer, closer until nothing could tear you apart. It wasn’t the first kiss; after all, you had kissed for quite a few times when others were present. Yet, somehow, this one felt like the very first kiss that you shared, holding and transferring feelings that made your knees go weak. You had never felt that way before.
All you knew was, this was the end of your story.
Chapter 16: The calm before
in tight knots
“Come,” he quietly demanded after he had spent the last ten minutes watching you pull out a book after another from the shelves. He couldn’t possibly admit that he was craving your warmth.
“In a sec,” you replied absentmindedly. Even though you were standing in the right section, somehow you couldn’t find that particular book.
“Now,” he urged you on with more emphasis and you gave in, walking over to where he was sitting. His arm curled around your waist, pulling you close to his body. It happened naturally; on its own – as if you had always belonged to his side. Strangely, you didn’t have any objections in thinking it could be otherwise, either.
“You’re cold, Draco.”
“Warm me up then,” he cheekily replied, his lips forming an almost playful smirk.
“Mhm,” you muttered before you reached out for the book that was on the other side of Draco. He liked how that way you came a little closer when doing so.
“How come this is here? I was searching for it.”
“I don’t know,” his reply was simple, but somehow, in the way, he said it, it kind of aroused your suspicions.
“You stole my book!”
“I didn’t steal it. It belongs to me, to begin with.”
“It also belongs to me!”
“Only because we’re married,” his answer was dry but it made your stomach flutter.
“Still,” you pouted and Draco couldn’t help but find that very adorable. He wanted to press his mouth on these pillowy seeming lips. Then again they didn’t just seem, they were, he realized. Because he had tasted them already - quite a few times.
And he did it again.
You fingertips found his cheeks, holding onto him as he kissed your lips; his hands tugging on your body and towards his lap, supporting you by your lower back. Every single of his touches left burning ripples on your skin. But at the same time, they were saving; like rich, strong coffee on an especially tiring day.
You felt the arch of his lips pressed against yours. The butterflies were fluttering in your stomach, you could feel their fragile wings flapping against the walls. It was uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. You were taken aback by how weird this all was feeling.
How did this man manage to captivate you like that?
“Draco,” you whispered breathlessly leaning your forehead against his cheek. He chuckled, slightly; deeply – sent vibrations through your body. “Your hair is soft.”
“Let’s go to bed,” his voice was low as well and you moved away to look at his face because you actually couldn’t believe what he had just said. His eyes were fiery silver fire brimming with passion that you had never seen before. Desire, solely for you.
“To yours,” he added softly, posing a silent question that was able to make your breath hitch.
Draco returned home to you, to your room, every night. And he’d find you lying in your bed, a book in your hands, of course.
“Hello there,” you greeted him, putting a bookmark between the pages before closing it with a soft thud, giving him your entire attention.
“Hi,” he hummed, taking off the vest of his suit and loosening his tie with his slender fingers. A groan left his lips as he was finally able to get rid of these uncomfortable set of clothes. Why did he wear this one anyway? He should definitely call the tailor to get a new suit. And while doing so, he should let the craftsman make some pretty clothes for you as well.
Even though he liked you the best in nothing; your warm skin against his and your fingers threading in his hair.
He looked so incredibly handsome in this suit, you were sure that you could spend hours just looking at this man. When he opened the button of his pants, you awkwardly looked anywhere in your room but not him, trying your best to keep your gaze away from his body. You weren’t used to this, to how naturally he was acting in front of you. As if you had been married - had been this intimate for years already, and not just for two months.
“Mhm,” draping his clothes over the back of your chair, he summoned some of his clothes before he slipped under the covers next to you, a little, amused smirk ghosting along his lips.
“Why so embarrassed?”
You didn’t reply but inched closer anyway, letting your sides touch before turning to look at his handsome face, cheeks still burning. He gave a soft laugh.
“Your day. Tell me about it,” you managed to say, completely ignoring his teasing.
“Potter drives me crazy,” he sighs, brushing a few of his almost white hair to the side.
“Didn’t you say that you never see him?”
“Then why?” you furrowed your brows and allowed yourself to put a hand on his chest.
“Because it’s Potter.”
“Okay,” you shrugged.
“Tell me more. Or is anything else other than that?”
He slightly propped himself up so he could come even closer to you. Draco leaned in to press his mouth on yours, stealing one of many kisses.
“Draco,” his name left your lips like a curse and praise at the same time. He liked the way you called him, liked how the sound of you saying his name would be able to stir up his stomach.
You fell asleep later on, with his warmth around your body and a hint of a smile on your lips as you wondered when exactly he had started to go straight home after work.
It was a question that you would never be able to answer; not even Draco could. All you knew was that he had invaded your heart, gradually and sneakily like a goddamn thief.
Chapter 17: the storm.
But it's ...
“Loony, out.” The blonde snarled and the house elf flinched, slightly ducking. She disappeared quickly but you could see the horror on her face.
“I am sorry Loony. He didn’t mean it,” you assured her when she dashed past you, deeply terrified. Entering the kitchen, you discovered Draco sitting at the kitchen table, watching the steam of his tea tangling with the colder air.
He was different that day.
Aggressive and dissatisfied, brooding about something that he didn’t tell you about. More distant and stiffer than usual and somehow you felt like he was a stranger. As if you were back to square one and all the times you had spent together didn’t matter; didn’t happen.
In these three months, the blonde would show his smile more often and he’d even tell jokes aside of his witty but sarcastic comments. You had opened up to each other; had learned to accept the other’s flaws and right now, at this point, your relationship had seemed to have found its balance.
This was exactly why you immediately noticed the small change of his behavior. Because somehow, he seemed to be like he had been before. Before you decided to like him. Before the two of you had decided to drop the acts and before the two of you started to be your real selves.
“What’s wrong, Draco? You’re so quiet today and when you speak, you’re always irritated. Is something bothering you?” There was worry in your voice and the person opposite of you sighed tiredly, briefly averting his gaze.
“Is it Potter again?”
Your husband looked up, letting his grey eyes meet yours. They seemed like icy wildfire today. So cold and emotionless, you didn’t dare to approach him.
Then, after a long pause, he opened his mouth to speak loud and clear enough for you to understand.
“I want a divorce.”
How do you shatter a marriage?
By arranging it.
“What?” you slowly set your cup down- tried to- almost dropping your cup as you did so.
“You heard me,” Draco just affirmed, holding your startled stare. The Malfoy could see all the emotions on your face, in a blink of an eye shock, confusion, and then anger and sadness were clearly to be seen; as if he was flipping through a photo book.
“There’s no reason for this marriage anymore. You have good manners. But that’s about it. You have no character, no own opinions. You don’t even have a pretty face. There are plenty who can fulfill the job of a wife better than you. Puppet.”
“Didn’t you always say that beauty wasn’t important? And… we’re getting along, aren’t we?” you blurted out, not really knowing how to react accordingly to the things he was revealing right now.
“Oh come on, this whole marriage is a lie! Did you think that this thing that we have is called love? That if a man and woman have to stay together, love would gradually blossom? This is rubbish. Of course not. The only thing I feel for you is physical desire. Nothing more. You’re so goddamn naïve,” he snorted in mockery.
Draco raised his eyebrows in surprise when you didn’t answer. He saw the hurt in your eyes. Blimey, you had really thought that he realized. Ridiculous.
“Don’t tell me… you really thought that?”
You realized that he didn’t say them, these three words that every girl was waiting for, during these months. But to be fair, you didn’t say them either. You wanted to. Good thing you didn’t.
“Blimey,” he said and laughed. Still, you flinched.
“I simply thought that you weren’t that kind of a superficial person,” you then replied, not wanting to admit that you indeed believed it to be love. That was what you got for dreaming, for yearning for your very own happy end.
It was all too good to be true; a fairy tale that turned into a tragedy.
Then again, weren’t the original stories cruel, to begin with? Weren’t they alternated, softened; solely for children?
How could you ever think that he could’ve fallen in love with you, despite this arranged marriage? The happier you were, the harder you would fall. Everything that didn’t possess wings would eventually fall.
“You thought wrong.”
Even after all you had?
“I don’t have any use for you. One year is over and that’s exactly the amount of time I had to be married to you in order to be appointed the heir of the Malfoy house after your fancy surname has replenished the Malfoy name. Besides, any woman will do to satisfy my needs.”
“You’re a heartless asshole,” you hissed quietly, taking a deep breath in order to calm your nerves. He had degraded you to nothing more than a mere name; had used you solely for the fact of his power hunger.
“Don’t act like a saint,” Draco shook his head, quietly laughing to himself. Like an elder person that was lovingly scolding the younger one. Except that he wasn’t gentle.
“Didn’t you marry me because of money? Because your family was about to go bankrupt? Rapacious whore,” the young Malfoy heir spat, his voice full of disgust.
Every single word that spilled over these lips was hurting like a shard that was rammed into your flesh. They stung and burned, cut open wounds and ripped old ones apart.
And most of all, it was going to take a long, long time to pull each one of these sharp pieces out of your heart; to heal the invisible injuries that Draco Malfoy, the coldest, wealthiest and most arrogant man had just inflicted on you, just in a matter of a few minutes. Your breath hitched.
God how you hated him for saying these things.
What was worse, was that you believed his words; felt dirty and stupid and naïve all at once. Because of course he was right; just spoke the truth that you were frantically trying to hide; were trying to forget. You were no better than him. Eye for an eye; benefit for profit. And that was exactly why it hurt so much. The truth always hurt.
Your parents had sold you away and they had let you be locked up in another cage. You even were stupid enough to accept this. Love was an illusion. And freedom was too. Once again you bit your lips and took a deep breath, your shoulders softly rising then falling. Then you looked directly at Draco’s frozen face. Stiff and cold like the statue of a demon.
“So this is how we really are,” you whispered and just got up, hurrying out of the room before the tears could fall. Burning hot on your cheeks as they rolled over your cheeks.
“Don’t worry. I will make sure your parents will get half of the fortune,” Draco whispered as he watched you go.
How do you shatter a marriage?
By feeding it with lots of lies and empty dreams.
Chapter 18: Decisions, decisions
“_____, how are you? You sound awful,” Arabelle’s kind voice sounded through the telephone and you bit your lips. Just at the thought of the events several hours ago made your tears well up.
“I am good, Bel,” you replied hoarsely, suppressing a sniff.
“Really? Because you really don’t sound like it,” she kept on. You could hear background noises such as the stumping of feet over parquet.
“It’s just my flu. My nose is a bit stuck lately,” you replied without hesitation, making use of a simple, yet effective lie.
“I hear footsteps. How are Carlisle and Katie?” you crossed your fingers, hoping that she’d let you change the topic.
“They’re lively as always. Carlisle keeps asking for his aunt though,” she laughs quietly,
“You spoiled him too much.”
“Tell him I miss him too,” you smiled at the thought of a pretty little sunny boy, who was the spitting of his father.
“You could come for a visit.”
“I will.” Even though it was a lie. You didn’t have the guts to face your sister right now, in fear that everything would spill over.
“Is Hale still at work?”
“No, he’s downstairs with Katie, reading a book. Ava wants to drop by later. She’ll bring her boyfriend for dinner.”
“She’s got a boyfriend?!”
“Don’t yell. I can hear you well through the telephone.”
“Sorry,” you apologize. Unintentionally, you had raised your voice, “But she’s too young!”
“She’s seventeen and she’s old enough, honey. Don’t worry. Mom, dad and I are looking out for her.”
“But she’s so naïve and passionate at the same time. She’ll rush into things that she’ll regret later.” Like you did.
“She’ll be alright. Let the girl collect her own experiences. Besides, I never understood why you were so convinced that you had to take care of Ava and me when I am the oldest. It should be the other way round,” Arabelle started and you could literally see her swiftly tugging her hair behind her ear, a thing she always did whenever she was frustrated.
“It’s… I didn’t want our parents to crush you guys. You are as soft as a flower and Ava…she’s like a butterfly. I didn’t want them to get a hold of you,” you stared into space, stared outside the window where raindrops were drumming against the glass so they could get ready for a race. England was a rainy country.
There was brief silence on the other end before your older sister spoke up again, her voice dipped in guilt and sadness. You didn’t want them to arrange a marriage for Arabelle and Ava, fearing that these circumstances, the merciless drilling of perfectionism could destroy them. You had always had the stronger mind but still, there were things that would follow you until the end. There were insecurities and thoughts that were sticking on you like a second skin.
“But they broke you in the end,” her voice sounded quiet, full of unshed tears.
“They didn’t. It’s okay,” you whispered, blinking the demons of your childhood away, “They had wanted a picture perfect child and here it is.”
Your heart stung.
“Hey ______, are you happy with Draco?” Arabelle suddenly asked and even though she couldn’t see you through the device that you’re pressing against your ear, you had to avert your eyes. For a split second, you considered telling her; debated whether you should just confide her in the things that were going on. So many emotions were whirling inside your heart and they were spilling over. But your mouth remained sealed and the next lie slipped over your lips, so smoothly. You had always been a good liar.
“That’s good. I am really relieved that you are.” You hummed in reply and your sister went on.
“Ava told me that she can’t get that look out her head.”
“Huh, what do you mean, Belle?”
“She said that you looked like you were about to cry on your wedding day, and she – we – felt so guilty because our incapability had led you to this situation. She also said that compared to her, you had never wanted something for yourself and she is worried that you will never find something because you keep pushing the things away that you had always wanted.”
“She’s pretty mature for seventeen.” Maybe Ava wasn’t as rash as you had initially thought.
Somehow, today’s conversation was filled with a lot of heavy silences, packed with unspoken words that would always remain unspoken.
“Ah, I hear Ava downstairs.”
“Kiss her from me, okay?”
“I love and miss you, Belle.”
“I love you too. Take care of yourself.”
You had almost hung up when she suddenly called your name.
“Pursue your happiness,” Belle quietly added and then she hung up.
You stood there motionlessly for a few minutes, holding the phone that seemed to be burning in your hands.
And somehow, even though you hadn’t mentioned a thing about your “problems” with Draco, you felt a little lighter; felt like you could make a decision.
The decision was pretty clear.
Chapter 19: la dernière
The months passed, awfully slow, then shockingly fast. Time was relative to the one who was feeling it. The nights seemed too long; the hours in which he was working were too short. They couldn’t distract him from you. At nights he missed your warmth, at days he missed your smiling eyes and the ways your lips curled whenever you were speaking about the things you were passionate about.
Loony noticed how her master returned back to his quiet, cold self. She saw it through her big eyes when he dragged his tired body into the house, reeking of exhaustion and sometimes of alcohol. He wasn’t unfriendly to her but he wasn’t happy to see her either. The house was big and lonely now that the female master was gone, Loony thought, when once again the blonde master entered the house, sighing deeply.
He seemed to hope to see you every day, hoping that you would be sitting in the kitchen, greeting him with a gentle smile while you wrap your hands tighter around the cup that Loony had prepared with the freshest herbs, the tea that she was very, very proud of.
Why did you go, though?
Didn’t master love you?
Loony could see it in his very eyes.
Everything he touched with these bare hands was dying. Withering away like a fragile flower after a grave snow storm. The blonde felt sixteen again and all the wrong choices were painfully present. He felt awfully young, with no sense of what was right and wrong and what was good and bad. Was it love? What to do? Yes or No? To be selfish or not? His mind was running in circles.
Unlike you, he had seen the world, had been educated in Hogwarts then pursued a career at the Ministry of Magic here in England. He had loved and lost; had cried and mourned for the dead ones whose deaths he was carrying on his shoulder. He had been in war; in a war against himself and against the people of Hogwarts. Wrong choices lining with worse decisions; along with crushes and loves for pretty girls with smudged lipstick.
He thought about you. Always, and only about you. How your smile had the ability to conjure one on his face as well. How innocent you were, yet the words coming from your mouth were so full of wits and well-hidden insults. But all along, he knew that he was your first. First one to kiss you, first one to hug you, first one to stain you.
It was a privilege and it was a curse. Because he would never be able to forget you. While for you, there were so many to follow. Men that would have the same ability to make you smile brightly; that were able to coax sounds from you. Draco clenched his jaw just in thought of how other men could even lay a finger on you.
But it was a justified thought. Just because he was your first didn’t mean that it was right. What if he was just the man who would hinder you from other possibilities and other opportunities? What if he wasn’t the one for you?
He wasn’t going to chain you to him, even if he wanted to.
The blonde was still considered to be rather young, being at the beginning of his the second decade of his life. Yet, he could already recount stories so lively and cruel; the ones that he had experienced and collected like the stamps that he had convinced himself to collect in his childhood because it seemed cool back then.
Draco had always been good with destroying rather than creating.
He had no healing hands like Longbottom had when tending plants and herbs that were believed to be dead. He had no kind heart like Potter did; the boy who saved them all. He wasn’t particularly funny or smooth with words like the Weasley twins, nor was he as courageous as the Weasley in his year. He lacked and lacked and was flawed like an old chipped cup. With his hands tainted by the demons of his past, he couldn’t make it undone; give the dead one’s their lives back. Such a man wasn’t really suited for you, was he?
But he could at least make your life better.
And so this was what he did.
Sometimes loving someone meant letting them go.
Even if he had to make them hate him.
You had left him one January morning; he still remembered it so clearly. The window was open and the wind had blown some of the soft snow on the window sill and into the house.
Draco cursed under his breath. It was fucking cold. Why was the window open anyway?
Gripping the handle of the window, he closed it, making sure that it was tightly shut. Now his hand was just as cold as ice.
Where was his wand anyway? He could’ve shut the window with magic. But of course, being as stupid as he was sometimes, he actually forgot the wand in the other room. It was a rare occasion because the blonde would never let it untouched somewhere in the house. Not after the final battle that had taken place at his former school. The house seemed eerily quiet today.
As the blonde turned away from the window, he noticed the stack of papers that were on the kitchen table. The loose prints were fluttering slightly when he was about to walk past it.
Draco knew the second his gaze was stuck at the pile of papers. He saw your neat signature where the red “x” was. And he knew too, that if he walked upstairs to where your room was, he’d find it empty and stripped of your belongings.
He bit his lips, chewing on them as he tried to keep his composure. The blonde climbed the stairs, his hand gripping the banister as he stepped up and up, further and further until the closed door came into his view.
It seemed cold and forlorn; as if all of the warmth had subsided now that the inhabitant was gone.
His fingers were shaking upon reaching out for the door handle. And he gripped the cold iron, pressing it down to reveal a neat room that still bore your faint scent. Flowery and soft just as your personality was. It set his lungs on fire and drained the air out of his body.
“Bloody shit,” he cursed into the silence even though he had brought it upon himself, had driven you out. Yet there was no one to blame but him.
Chapter 20: Epilogue
The strings, strings, strings of a story come to an end.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
You travelled. With a nothing but a small backpack and an envelope with money that you had saved from your small part-time job in the bookstore.
In the beginning, the apparition had caused you difficulties, because it had been something that you rarely were allowed to do, back then in America. You simply had gotten out of practice, because even here in England, Draco was usually the one who insisted on doing it. Sometimes you ended up with small cuts, sometimes you splinched. It was painful but it was worth it, really.
The beginning of your journey was London. The heart of England, pulsing with life and so much technology. You visited Diagon Alley, walked through the streets along with hundreds of other wizards and witches – were one of them. Completely anonymous, ordinary and most of all – free. Walked along the Thames, with a steaming hot cup of coffee in your hands and a scarf tightly wrapped around your neck while the autumn wind whirled up the scattered leaves on the ground. Playing children and the beeping of taxis in the distant. How magical the Nomaj world was, in its own way. The man with the starlight hair and silver eyes was forgotten, his image locked away in a drawer in your heart.
Ethereal [adj] - extremely delicate light, not of this world
Galway was street music and festivals, accompanied by the salty smell of the sea. And water, water, water everywhere. You were part of morning markets, fishers offering freshly caught fish and craftsman threading your name into silver. In the evenings, the city would shine brightly in its lights, music was coming from local pubs and you could hear laughter and happiness. You tried Guinness, a famous Irish beer that tasted the way it looked. You wandered along the Cliffs of Moher, letting the wind playfully caress your hair as your breath hitched; the view was overwhelming... Somewhere, you could hear the distant cries of seagulls.
Aoibhneas [noun] – bliss, delight filling our senses; conjured by external things such as music, scenery (…)
Paris, the city of love, the city of art. Boulangeries filled with colourful sweets and luxurious pastries. The sticky sweet smell of freshly baked macarons would fill the streets when the door to another shop was open. You could the see the chefs in their white attire working with such precise movements, creating pieces of art for your taste buds.
Water lilies in wild colours, sprayed and splashed, painted in quick but proper strokes. Le Musée Marmottan. Claude Monet, the impressionist that painted and painted; even though blindness was in grasp. You strolled in that circular museum, letting these huge paintings impress and inspire you as the natural sunlight highlighted these vibrant colours in a breathtaking way. Muggles truly were impressive even if they didn’t possess any magic abilities. But here, in Paris, you believed they did.
Flâneur [noun] – a person who strolls aimlessly, simply wandering the streets and soaking the city
Aizu, Tokyo, Kyoto. Following the thread of history of an ancient country, you let yourself being drawn into a culture that was so different from what you’ve known. Of Samurais and Geishas. The melodious language, just as sweet and quiet like the eastern languages of countries in the oriental sun that you had visited weeks before. Pink cherry blossom petals softly raining, snowing over you – tangling with your hair in a clumsy waltz that took you back to a country, to a place that was imprinted with rain and grumpy blonde men.
Valiant men that were defending their beliefs as the Japan was on the verge of an evolution. You wore a kimono, feeling the expensive silk on your skin as the kind woman helped you into the heavy material. They took a photo of that beautiful stranger. You tried the freshly brewed green tea, discovering the different, distinct tastes of the bitter beverage. What was the way of Bushido?
物の哀れ [Mononoaware] – the pathos of things, the awareness of all things and the gentle sadness and wistfulness at their passing
All over the world, you talked to the natives and it didn’t matter whether it was in wild, clumsy gestures or thick accented English. It just wasn’t important because you were able to learn, to discover and explore parts of the world that you had only known from the pictures in the books. Whether it was about Greek gods or the secret corners of the Taj Mahal, you were able to get a taste of what different cultures were, how diverse the world was. Saw the good and the bad, the happiness and the suffering.
Countless photos were taken; many of them would later be printed and sealed in a thick photo album. They were beautiful, yet they didn’t do any justice for all the magnificent places that you had been to. No technical device would ever be able to capture the real beauty of the world when it was awake, pulsing with the sounds of chirping birds and rustling leaves.
You had just gained your long-desired freedom, so why was it that something was amiss?
All along, while you were collecting all of these pieces of experience, something was not there, something important. You couldn’t quite figure out why, why you still felt incomplete while travelling. It wasn’t until you were in Paris when you figured out what exactly you had been unconsciously searching for. You had been looking at a particularly famous painting of Monet and you had turned around with a smile on your lips and a mocking phrase, half expecting him to be there. And your breath hitched, drawing all the air out of your lungs when the realization washed over with an impact of a tsunami.
You couldn’t possibly miss him. He had uttered words of utmost cruelty, had insulted and humiliated you in the worst way that could happen. There was no way that you were missing him.
No, no, no.
Deciding to ignore the odd feelings of incompleteness, you didn’t stop your plans. Yet, your eyes would scan for the light blonde hair in the crowd; your hand would pick up things that you just knew he’d liked. There were spots that you wanted to show him; places to go that he’d be interested in visiting.
Your heart skipped.
By all means, you couldn’t go back. He had divorced you; had stripped you of the home that never was your home. Even now you could still feel the coldness of his expression; could still hear the disgust in his voice as he demanded you to sign the papers. Even if you wanted to, it was simply impossible to return. Why should you miss something that you never really had? Why consider going back to a man who loathed you, when you could have freedom? Have the magnificent view of whole China?
Your heart, your heart was heavy.
But your resolve was strong.
You found yourself standing at the doorstep of the building, months later – not knowing whether this decision should deject you. As soon as you walked through the small garden in front of the house, the distinct smell of flowers was filling your nose and you briefly closed your eyes to give yourself this moment. This moment of strange familiarity and comfort. Of coming home. Except that you had been thrown out of it.
You opened the door with an enchanted key and entered. Weird, how the locks were still the same.
So many memories were already flooding your mind.
Stepping over the threshold for the first time, his broad back right in front of you.
Today, the house was in complete silence. You couldn’t hear the rattling of pans and pots, or the sizzling meat that was being fried in hot oil. Or Loony’s squeaky voice as she hummed while cooking.
Upstairs there were no noises either, you noticed while walking past the rooms.
There was the smell of the old books in the library. Reading Shakespeare out loud in a ridiculous voice. The sound of deep laughter and cold fingers casually brushing yours when taking the book out of your hands. The broomsticks hanging in the display and just the thought of it did already swirl your hair like the wind always did.
Your room was still the same. A bit dustier than usual but the vase with the flowers was still on the window-sill, carrying now dried, faded roses. You moved towards the window, glancing outside in hope of spotting the almost white shock of hair. Yet, at the same time, you weren’t ready; your heart wasn’t – at least. It was thumping loudly in your chest, seeming to burst out of your ribcage at any moment. You wanted to see him, even if you weren’t welcome. Just a glimpse was enough.
You remembered thunderstorms and heavy rains. Waltzes. Steaming hot coffee and tea. Burning kisses trailing over your cold skin. Thin lips smiling against your neck. Heated skin grazing yours, entangled with the sheets of your bed.
“Why are you here?”
His presence affected you immediately, sending ripples over your spine as you turned around to face your former husband.
“I’m…I can leave immediately if you want.”
Draco was just as handsome as ever, even though he seemed skinnier than your memories. The high cheekbones seemed to stand out even more than before. Ash eyes were scrutinizing you thoroughly, trying to read you like an open book. But just like months ago this woman – you - were a mystery to him.
“I am asking you, why are you here?”
Unreadable. Reserved. And most of all, confusing.
He thought of all the letters that he started to write but threw away, not knowing how to explain all the things that were going on deep inside him. They were all unfinished and raw, incoherent chains of explanation and clumsily formulated sentences. He thought of the nights where he missed you so much, he was convinced his heart was going to burst. And here you were and the blonde hid the fact that your arrival hit him more than he had ever pictured in his countless visions. Draco Malfoy was a gifted actor.
You moved slightly, shifting your weight into a more comfortable position.
“When I was in Wales, shortly before I came back to here, I spoke to an old Welsh lady.” There was a short pause and you averted your eyes, not able to stand his intense gaze. They were burning holes in your very soul and you felt a bit uncomfortable.
You didn’t care if he hated you. The only thing that mattered was that you loved him and this was something that you needed to tell him in order to be able to move on.
“And she saw right through me. We talked. About my journeys and about what I have seen so far. She asked me whether I was happy,” you brushed a strand of hair behind your ear and Draco noticed that your fingers were shaking. Suddenly, you seemed awfully unsure and small. Tired, worn out even. The young Malfoy didn’t dare to interrupt you, although he found that this story wasn’t really the answer to his question.
“I told her that I wasn’t and she just smiled with so much knowledge and wisdom in her eyes,” you inhaled and exhaled loudly, “Gosh, I felt like she was seeing right through me.”
Draco opened his mouth in reply without intending to say anything. He didn’t know why you were telling him this; didn’t understand what your intention was. All he knew, was that inside him, there was uproar. Fire and chaos; in a circus with you as the main attraction.
And you were juggling with his heart.
“I came to tell you, Hiraeth, Draco,” your mouth was dry when you spoke.
“It’s when you’re homesick for a home that you can’t return to, or that never was.”
It was an unspoken love declaration. He could see it in your eyes.
“I should get going,” your voice was hoarse and you tugged a strand of your hair behind your ear. Draco was still looking at you, his expression unchanging and motionless and it was so uncomfortable and hurting – you couldn’t stand it. Just as you were about to walk towards the door, bracing yourself to walk past him with eyes averted to the ground, he spoke up.
“You always speak in riddles, _______” he addressed you with your maiden name, his lips curling in a mocking way when you looked up. Your heart fluttered. Leaving his spot at the doorframe, he walked closer to you until you had to look up to see his pretty face. Shaking fingers were touching your cheeks, caressing the corner of your lips. You had to try your hardest not to close lean into his touch.
“I missed you, Draco.” Your voice had gone all quiet, insecurity shone in your eyes that held unshed tears. I love you.
His eyes resembled the bright stars in the night sky.
“Won’t you kiss your husband?” his voice remained deep and smooth as he smiled down at you in suffering happiness.
“I haven’t submitted the papers yet.”
“It’s been more than half of a year, Draco.” He sheepishly looked aside, his mouth moving as he chewed on his lips.
“I was hoping that you’d come back to me,” he muttered under his breath, causing you to let out a ragged laughter. His anthracite eyes widened slightly; he hadn’t heard your laughs for so long and they were plucking on his heartstrings in a painful kind of way, impossible to bear. But how long was he able to listen to your voice before you’d disappear from his grasps again?
“How were you so sure that I’d come?” returning his gesture, you put one hand on his cheek, letting your thumb wander over his skin.
“I wasn’t. I was just desperate,” he placed his pale hand over yours, slightly leaning into your touch. Draco briefly closed his eyes and then opened them again. They bore the colours of moon and marble. But today, they weren’t as cold as they used to be. No, today they were full of yearning.
“Will you stay?” And there was so much hope in his voice; in the way, his lips slightly curled yet haltered just before it could become a smile. As if they were unsure, indecisive.
“Pursue your happiness,” the words of your sister suddenly came up in your mind.
You softly kissed his lips and then leaned against his forehead, lovingly gazing into his eyes. Draco’s heart was full, so full, it could burst. You were back, even though he had done terrible things to chase you away. He didn’t know a single touch of yours could leave him as breathless as he was now.
Draco had always been greedy; and he once again confirmed it, as he leaned down to capture your lips once more.
“Answer enough, Malfoy?”
“You always speak in riddles, Mrs. Malfoy,” Draco repeated but just like before, it sounded gentle.
“Where are you going?” His strong arm protectively curled around your waist as if he was afraid that you weren’t going to come back. Before you knew it, you were pulled back to the bed. His warm breath brushed over your cheek when he hovered over you.
“I need to-“
“What do you need? I’ll get it. Or I let Loony bring it.” Then again Loony wasn’t even here, Draco remembered. But he wouldn’t want you to get up.
“Draco…uhm, I actually just need to go to the bathroom,” you chuckled, slightly embarrassed.
“Oh.” He made, a little embarrassed as well, blinking slightly before his grip weakened. He buried his face in his hands when you left, slapping himself for his clinginess. It was amazing and cringe-worthy at the same time and Draco never imagined himself to be that time of man.
“Speaking of Loony, where is she? I haven’t seen her when I entered,” you slid back under the covers and back into Draco’s arms. He wasn’t ready to let you go yet and you weren’t ready to go.
“I forgot she isn’t here. I sent her to visit her family at mother’s and father’s place.”
“Why?” you propped yourself up so you could rest your head on his chest. Draco’s long fingers tangled in your hair and conjured goosebumps on your arms when occasionally brushing your neck.
“I needed some time for myself. Couldn’t stand her complaints about you not being here.”
You took your time to imprint his aristocratic features while he was talking. Half a year had passed and you had been walking around places, miles away from where he was, with only a blurry image of him in your heart.
Before you could ask any further, he opened his mouth to demand: “Give me your left hand.”
The blonde softly took your hand in his larger one, sliding your wedding ring back to its place. He had been carrying your ring around, wherever he went, even though he had never actually taken it out. But now there was no need to carry it when its true owner was here.
“Now it’s back to where it belongs,” he just said, before kissing the ring finger and then leaning in to whisper something in your ear.
He wasn’t the type to say it often. But once, just once, Draco had considered it best to tell you.
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Chapter 21: Quietness.
Not too soon after.
Hi guys! I am alive! Though still very busy. Here is this little spin-off, after-Epilogue thing. I am thinking about writing a lot , yet find myself unable to write much. I am planning to finish writing Worth in summer before heading to a next chapter in life. Sending hugs and kisses x
My writing got very rusty, I am sorry to disappoint you all with this ... kind of bland piece.
When he woke, it was still early. And quiet.
A sigh spilled over his lips and he slightly stretched, rolling himself over in his large sized bed. He liked having a big bed, luxurious and expensive – though most of the nights sleep was a rare companion.
Draco remembered how he had ordered a new one, replacing his old one. He had it set up when you were at work. The new bed was sufficient to provide enough space for both of you.
Though in the end it only bore one person. It was too big and too empty and – sometimes he remembered those days where you laid huddled together in your ridiculously small bed; in that room that he never wanted to enter again but thought about a lot.
The small room that held your soft laughter; where your scent lingered and the breathy sounds of his name danced.
He buried his head in the grey bed sheets and closed his eyes. He had better to do than think about you. Sleep.
Yet in the end, Draco left the spacious furniture with an annoyed sigh. It was filled with annoyance and aggravation. Your presence was tinnitus.
He found the kitchen empty but filled golden strings spun from sunrays. Autumn came faster than anticipated and Loony spent a lot of time sweeping the backyard; her tiny hands fluttering furiously in the air as she used her magic to keep the brooms moving.
“No coffee,” he noticed but the smell of freshly grounded beans was evident. Where was his coffee? And where did this noisy house elf of his wander off too? You had taught her about her rights and the small servant was never scared of talking back now.
It was all right though, he had raised her salary and remodeled her sleeping chambers just fine to her liking.
Grabbing his newspaper that was neatly folded and waiting on the kitchen counter, Draco made his way to the study room, which was in fact just a desk at the huge library on the next floor.
His parents had always encouraged his reading activities and made sure his new house had plenty of books to offer. His collection even held a few rare literature works.
The hallway smelled of flowers. Which was unusual. Nothing about this day was usual if he was honest. The absence of Loony, his coffee, his breakfast. Nothing made sense, let alone go the way his daily routine intended things to go.
Draco moved the heavy wooden doors, which revealed the source of the sweet disturbance of his meticulous schedule. It was a small, noisy hummingbird in a soft coloured dress.
Coffee, he thought as soon as his gaze fell upon the porcelain pot next to a cup of steaming brown liquid and a plate of small creampuffs.
“You’re up?” You were sitting on a broom, head almost touching the ceiling; fingers travelling across the spines of the books. Before looking down to the tall figure dressed in a grey pullover.
“Mhm,” he made and strode towards your cup where he naturally took a sip. Though he usually liked to drink tea as well, there was nothing that beat a good cup of strong coffee first thing in the morning.
“Loony and I made cream puffs,” you continued after sorting some more books into the rack. You had brought back several books from your travels, some embedded in gold leaf, some bound by rough hands in dark leather branded with glowing metal.
There were rare gems that kept you spellbound during cold nights in a hut in the north of Japan with flowery sake on your lips and toes tucked underneath a so-called kotatsu. While others, illustrated in bright mismatching colors reminded you of freshly bakes bread and mature cheese that melted on your tongue along with the smokey wooden fragrance of bacon.
“You’re getting my library into a mess again,” Draco observed, his fingers now fully curling around your cup. He made himself comfortable on the sofa, crossing his legs before setting the newspaper on his lap. The blonde wanted to read, though his attention always swayed into your direction.
“I need to find the respective spots for the books I brought,” you flew past the sturdy ladder which actual purpose was to get you to the higher bookracks. Flying made things just much easier. “We should throw this out,” you pointed towards the thing you just flew past.
“So you can fly and swirl up all the dust?” He raised his eyebrow high, derisiveness in the arch of his perfect brow.
“We’re cranky today.” Your body moved closer to the broom to direct it towards the ground, right next to where he sat.
“Mhm,” he made flipping the page of his newspaper. You flopped down next to him, taking a peek at the economy section he was reading – he was pretending to read. You leaned back and your shoulders touched his; could feel his warmth through your light dress. Though he emitted an inapproachable aura and seemingly cold demeanor, he was warm.
“You left bed early,” his indifferent tone was still clear like dew drops on chilly mornings.
“I made cream puffs,” your reply was simple as that and he tilted his head, anthracite eyes scrutinizing you. To this day, often you found yourself still not being able to read his inner thoughts. However, somehow he got the feeling across and you smiled, lips curling in a way–
He leaned in to press his lips against yours, taking you by surprise.
“You left bed early,” Draco repeated profoundly, releasing you a second later.
“Okay. I am sorry,” your eyes displayed hidden laughter behind these longs lashes. “I sent Loony to gather some apples for apple pie if that makes you feel better.”
“As if,” he turned back to his papers and you leaned close to him to reach for the cup next to him, the very one that he set on the small tray table.
“You drank all the coffee.” Your disappointed voice tickled his neck.
“I did,” his thin lips curled into a crooked smirk. Just briefly and fleeting, like the ghost of the butterfly swarm in his stomach.
“Oof, is that your attempt of revenge?” Moving back to your former sitting position, you took out your wand to let the magic do some more sorting. You had brought at least twenty books and all had been stored away in your expandable bag. You supposed that such a feature sure blurred the line of “too many books to fit into the bag”.
Draco didn’t reply, he seemed too engrossed with his Daily Prophet. You nestled closer to him in order to let his body heat warm you.
He found you asleep, face nuzzled against his shoulder and your hands tucked underneath your cheeks. The blonde couldn’t help but laugh quietly to himself about how naturally you had invaded his life again. He put his arm around you, wanting to keep you safe. With your head on his chest, his lips found your head for a soft kiss.
“Make me apple pie later.”