Title: A Marked Man
Word Count: 1500
Summary: Draco needed to remember everything about this day, even the
Author's Note: Thank you to the artist for inspiring me with your
beautiful work. And thanks to my betas for all their last minute help
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Draco pressed his head deeper into the leather and second-guessed his decision to forgo the Pain Relieving Potion the tattooist had strongly recommended. He needed to remember everything about this day, even the painful parts.
His finest dress robes lay unceremoniously on the floor by his feet. His father's funeral was still fresh in his mind. He chuckled dryly to himself as he was thinking about the poor turnout of mourners; money only buys you love when you are alive- no ones sucks up to the dead. The heartbreak in his mother's eyes had been like nothing he'd seen before. As if there was a void inside her that could never be filled again. Not even his comforting presence or words seemed to soothe her. The mother he once knew was lost forever.
He was alone.
That was why he was branding himself. To remember this feeling. To harness its power so he wouldn't succumb to it. He was Draco Malfoy, once a boy who'd clung to his mother's skirts and followed in his father's footsteps, now a man adrift in a world which expected nothing of him but asked for everything. A former Death Eater to some, feared and pitied. A pathetic coward to others. He could have argued with them, but he knew it would be of no use.
The man applied a thin layer of salve to his back. It cooled the sting but did little to dull the pain. Sitting up, he grabbed the bottle of Ogden's Finest he'd nicked from his father's private stash and took a quick sip. He wiped his mouth hastily with the back of his hand. He was confident he'd still remember even if he was more than halfway to completely arsed.
The man had gone to greet a new customer. She looked familiar. He wondered if he'd slept with her. He had an unfortunate habit of running into past conquests. This shit never happened to Zabini. Draco would have to ask him what his secret was. Preparing to feign ignorance, he got up from the chair and focused his attention on examining his newly completed tattoo in the mirror. It was stunning. Stars marking the points of his constellation, the Draco constellation, nearly glowed in blue ink against his pale skin.
Speaking before turning around, he said, "Do I know- Granger?" Possibly the last person he'd expected to see in a seedy place like this at Merlin knew what hour. He couldn't help but stare dumbfounded.
"Good to see you too," she muttered and started perusing samples of the artist's work.
He snorted in response.
Ignoring his bait, she rolled her eyes and exhaled deeply. "I'm sorry about your father."
"Fuck off. We both know you don't give a damn about me or my father, so you can stop with the pleasantries." He hated the pity that shone in her eyes. As if she knew how he felt. She had no fucking clue what it was like for him now that his father was gone.
"You're right. Maybe I didn't care much for your father - Merlin knows I had plenty of reason not to - but it doesn't mean I wanted him dead. And your mother... your mother did a good thing - the right thing - and even if you were the reason she did it, I will always be indebted to her for that. I know your father was her world, and I am sorry that she has to suffer his loss."
"Don't act like you know my mother."
"I do know her." She stepped closer and examined his face for a moment. "She never told you, did she?"
"Told me what?" He invaded her personal space as if threats would make her more likely to answer with the truth. His mother didn't keep secrets from him even if he made the choice to keep a few from her. But that was done to protect his mother, not to hurt her. And he didn't need protecting from an annoying swot like Granger, so he concluded she was full of shit.
She raised her hand defensively and hesitated for a second.
"Go on then, tell me," he said. He couldn't wait to hear what this was all about.
Gritting her teeth, she said, "I'm trying to. Give me a moment. And don't interrupt until I'm done."
He shrugged. "Fine," he said, gesturing for her to continue.
"After the war, I wrote to her. I wasn't expecting any response, but I wanted to her to know that I was personally thankful to her, even if she didn't lie to save Harry. She wrote me back. Not sure why." She gave him a knowing grin. "She talks about you a lot." He didn't like that one bit.
Impossible. She had to be lying.
"Wait. A lot? She's written to you more than once?"
"Yes. Once or twice a month at first, then weekly. And then everyday when things... when your father's health started to decline, she wrote to me everyday."
If it were true and his father had known, he shuddered to even think of it. His father's rehabilitation had always been superficial. Lucius Malfoy knew how to lie, when to lie and to whom, but his true feelings were known to Draco, and he would not have allowed such a friendship. Draco had always loved his father's lies more than his truths. He was going to be sick; it could be the alcohol, he wasn't sure. His mother, entrusting her daily thoughts, the details of her life to a Muggle-born witch made his head spin. It just didn't make any sense. "But why?"
"I asked her that. She never really answered. I've come to believe that it's her way of making amends... of moving on. She knows the world she knew is changing, and will soon be gone. I think she needed to find a way to change with it."
He was quiet for a while, trying to gather his thoughts. His head jerked up when he felt a light touch on his arm. "She feels you drifting away from her, Draco. You're closing yourself off, to her and the world." Her words made him angry and he shook her hand off his arm. He wasn't drifting away. He was hardening himself against the cruelty of this new world. A world he had no place in.
"You know nothing of me or what I'm doing! I don't care how many letters my mother has written you!"
"Stop it. Just stop it!" she said sharply. "Grow up and stop pitying yourself for not living up to your father's standards. Stop being so damn selfish. You are not alone. People care." The last words came out in a rush of breath, but he caught them.
"So my mother cares. So what?" He exhaled harshly. "She's practically a walking corpse now that my father is gone."
"Then don't let her be! We can't let just let her fade away."
"Yes, we. I know you- don't care for me much, but your mother has become an important person in my life and I won't let her waste away. But at the end of the day, Draco, it's you who she really needs." He wanted to laugh. The thought of him being needed by anyone, even his mother, was a joke. He was a failure. And everyone knew it.
Slamming his fist on the counter, he snarled, "I can barely keep myself above water. How am I supposed to stop her from drowning?"
"Love. That's all she needs. You keep locking it all in, isolating yourself so much; maybe you need to try reaching out. Because this," she gestured to the dim, dingy room they were in, "isn't working."
He snorted and took another long sip of his firewhisky. "You really are full of crap. Maybe this whole thing is a dream." He looked around. "Nope, if this were a dream, there would be more naked witches in this place. But it's just you, Granger." He laughed and choked back one more swill. "Granger and my mother are friends," he murmured under his breath, sliding down into the chair. "Brilliant! Just fucking brilliant. Are you coming for tea tomorrow, eh, Granger? A spot of tea and crumpets? How I do enjoy crumpets."
"Not nearly enough for this conversation." He feared that she might even be right. It scraped at him, annoyed him that she could be. He wished she wasn't.
She grabbed his hand. "Come on. I'll take you home. We can talk about this tomorrow."
He pulled himself up, tripping her forward. Once he was standing, he whispered in her ear, "I never liked you, Granger."
She slid her arm around his waist to steady him. "I know."
Walking was proving a tricky endeavor. He wrapped an arm around her shoulder for support. "And don't think any of this means I'm starting to."
He thought he saw her cheeks flush. "Of course not."
Leave a Review