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phenakistoscope

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Draco would remember his life in scenes like a phenakistoscope, as if he can spin the images in his head over and over and over again if only to get glimpses of him.



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A Swedish count fresh from the front of the battle, hard fought and won- is the answer he gets when he inquires about the man with the gold embellished mask tied above his eyes.

 

Draco, a prince, fourth in line to the French throne, grandson of the sun king wasn’t permitted to fight in battles lest he upstages the other contenders to the throne. It is enough information that he is intrigued. What is a war hero doing at a masked ball?  

 

“You were struck by lightning”  Pansy laughed. Later telling him that him he wasn’t the only one staring.

 

A letter is delivered to him containing a tie, a joke about knights and love and favors, and sweet nothings.  Loki, -his name makes Draco smile- compliments him on the powder blue suit he wore to the ball that oh so flattered the grey eyes peeking out through the lace mask. His secret admirer is also wondering if he is allowed an audience with a certain prince...

 

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Candles blazing from tops of glittering candelabras, voluminous skirts and carefully tailored coattails swishing past, a sea of jewel-toned silks, velvets, and satins performing a rather tedious minuet choreographed by the dauphine himself.  Draco remembers dancing with him much later into the night than he intended.

 

He looked so dashing in his military regalia. The blood red coat, smartly cut, shining with military braid and rows and rows of medals that glistened in the dim lighting of the dining hall, the smart black trim matching the dark gloss of his hair.  

 

The rather snug breeches.

 

Until the party moves out into the gardens for fireworks and acrobats and sugar spun confections. That is when they sneak away into his private apartments amidst the titters of those sober enough to notice.

 

In the mornings to come, he would learn that green sheets made his fair complexion glow and his eyes...

 

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He remembered that at every party they attended together, Loki’s smile revealed a row of teeth far more perfect than the Queen’s prized double-decker pearl and diamond choker from India that attracts much-unneeded attention from the peasantry.

 

He would learn how it feels to have then nip at the sweet spot on his neck-

 

Draco remembered the little worry line between his dark brows that matched his own as Loki’s sharp eyes scanned the surroundings. It wasn’t so much that he and Loki disliked these parties, in fact, they enjoyed them, having been brought up into this life of extravagance. As Loki put it, it was the tables laden with heaping amounts of exotic and rich foods fit to feed giants and dragons that so contrasted from the life of the French peasantry he witnessed while traveling across the country.

 

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He remembered feeling glad that he allowed Blaise to coerce him into buying that bolt of expensive Flemish lace, how he hoped it would enhance the paleness of his skin by frothing at the base of his neck and set off the gleam of his carefully manicured bright white hair even if it tickled the column of his neck profusely.

 

He would learn that the sensation of his calloused fingers knotting themselves into his hair, running up and down his arms, traveling down, down, down, the notches of his spine felt better than any damn compliment he would ever receive in court.

 

He would later remember the pinched faces of servants as they brought forth more and more wares into the great hall, each more costly and opulent than the one before even as Loki fingered his collar lovingly, trailing kisses that made him weak in the knees, eyes forming an unspoken question. Never accusatory, but of worry.

 

The servants had begun to take a tally of which pampered hand wasted more of taxpayers money.

 

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He remembered hating hate the gut-wrenching feeling of sending Loki off on his next campaign. He would come to despise only hearing an echo of his voice through letters, even if they were frequent and long.

 

Her Majesty has pronounced that the peasantry should eat cake if they are starving instead of complaining.

 

“The people are adding it to the Queen's list of offenses. Their anger will soon certainly extend to her family, I-”  

 

Draco kisses the slip of paper and places it on his desk. He doesn’t need Loki to tell him of the danger they are in.

 

Later in court, Bellatrix lounges on a day bed in deep, deep, purple silk, dripping with jewels as she orders twenty pairs of new dresses and shoes for her and her ladies for her birthday celebrations.

 

Draco learns from a letter from Luna that she and Theo are planning to leave France in secret- his father’s estate has been ravaged by an angry mob of peasants and they don’t want to risk their children’s lives any further.

 

Draco addresses another letter to Loki in haste.

 

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He remembered the sensation of a white-hot poker stabbing him clean through the chest, only being able to kiss his scars, weeks or months after the wounds were inflicted -silvery webs or knotted pink- instead of languishing at his side to share his pain and suffering.

 

Loki was  there when he receives a letter from Astoria Greengrass.

 

The name no longer makes Draco wince as it once did although he can’t help but feel a twinge of hurt. They had loved each other very much, once, after all.  

 

It was an invitation to visit her in her homeland of Austria. An open invitation that included Pansy and Blaise as well, their own little group forged and broken during their years spent together.

 

There is no specified length of the stay they are offered and he wants to cry and laugh at the same time.

 

It's Loki that taught him that kisses don’t have to taste only of bitter rouge and regret.

 

Draco thanked her for the offer and sends a very reluctant Blaise and Pansy on their way one cold dawn, their carriage disappearing into the woods.  

 

Kissing him tastes like lust and wine, hopeful dollops of sugar and cream, hasty whispers in courtyards, heady confessions in the dark.

 

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Loki stayed for as long as he can until he is called back by. If he had left any later, he would not have been able to leave at all.

 

Draco remembers learning that kisses could taste of salt and sweat, sorrow and happiness.

 

Perhaps knowing that someone out there loves you every single waking moment of the day is enough. 

 

They began writing letters again with incensed fervor anyway. 

 

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Bellatrix is not allowing any of their family members to leave France. Courtiers murmur belated goodbyes and apologies as they try to disperse across Europe to friends and family clutching their valuables to their chests. Anyone who did manage to leave is a traitor to the king and will be burnt off of the family tree.

 

Glancing at the gaunt faces of his assembled family, he can guess which fate they would rather face.

 

Ironically, they later learn that the queen has perhaps made the first right judgment in her entire life.

 

Apparently, the nobles who left at the beginning of summer were barricaded at the French border and promptly massacred without trial, the call for blood and payment too high.

 

They drank the last of the wine until the break of dawn as if they were trying to drown their sorrow over lost friends. Draco suspects they just had a bigger dose of reality than they could have handled. 

 

A letter arrived, announcing the birth of a baby boy, lovingly named Draco for the man who saved his parents.

 

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They continued sending each other letters through friends of friends of friends, codes and invisible ink becoming more than a necessity every scrap of paper that managed to make its slow way to its intended reader.

 

They continued sending letters until it was impossible. Draco’s hands shake as he writes. Dread begins pooling at his knees-if this letter never reaches him-

 

“Farewell the most loved of men. Be quiet if you can. Take care of yourself for myself. I cannot write any more but nothing in the world could stop me to adore you up to the death”



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Leniency is said to be favored by the judges, especially Cornelius Fudge.

 

They are the most noble and ancient House of Black after all.

 

Surely, surely, even if they punish him they would show some kind of leniency for his younger cousins, overlook his siblings who are only babes.

 

Any hope for mercy is sqashed when Draco learns who had caught them in the first place.

 

The revolutionary mob, the Order of the Phoenix, hellbent on saving France from destruction and despair is prepared to do anything and everything to bring an end to the people's suffering.

 

They are no longer only prisoners. They are the solution .

 

The shrieks he hears from outside his cell window becomes ear-splitting with every passing day as they call for more blood. 

 

How long has it been since his parents were killed, weeks? months? His cousins? 

 

Where are the little darlings of the family, not yet to see even their first summer?

 

Draco finally breaks.

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Loki had taught him that kisses no longer have to sting his lips when he smiles and laughs afterward, even if they still taste of loss and love.

 

They had lived, truly lived no matter how short their days together were.

 

And he will be eternally grateful for that.

 

He is burnt into his soul, etched into his heart, there is nothing of Draco that isn’t his.

 

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“I can tell you that I love you and indeed that is all I have time for.”

 

A haggard man is shoved upon the dias, wearing nothing but the soiled remains of a once fine shirt, a black velvet lacing tied firmly around his wrist.