Pairings: Draco Malfoy/Tracey Davis, Draco Malfoy/Daphne Greengrass, Draco Malfoy/Astoria Greengrass, Draco Malfoy/OFCs
Canon: Through DH, slightly AU at the end
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.
Chapter 1: Tracey Davis
"Marriage. Really, Draco?" Theo's cool regard is more than a little skeptical. Blaise, slouched elegantly in his chair, says nothing.
"Well. It is getting to be about that time. Not," he adds, "that either of you would understand that."
Blaise makes a faintly derisive noise. "Marriage," he says, pronouncing the word like a particularly filthy obscenity.
"Women aren't really my thing, as you well know," Theo says calmly, "and I, unlike you, no longer have family breathing down my neck about it. You can't possibly expect me to believe this is entirely your idea."
"Not... entirely," Draco hedges, "but even so. It's not a bad idea."
"Useful alliance to help out the family name?" Blaise sounds thoroughly unimpressed. "It's not politics, Draco."
"Mother agrees." By the way Draco says it, it's clear that he isn't entirely sure he does. "That would be why she listed a dozen suitable women and gave me a year to make my mind up."
"One a month. You'll be busy."
"Shut it. I've narrowed it down, obviously."
Theo and Blaise exchange glances.
"I don't know why you don't just marry Parkinson and have done with it," Theo says, though unwillingly- he and Pansy have never gotten along.
"Don't be an idiot, Theo. After that mess at Hogwarts? The Malfoy name has been dragged through the dirt enough as it is, and anyway I'd have to bring her back from Spain to do that. She's not on the list."
"Small mercies," Theo mutters. "Is this an actual, physical list?"
"Of course not."
"Liar," Theo and Blaise chorus, and Blaise holds out a hand. "Give it here."
Draco looks between the two of them for a moment, then sighs and produces a folded piece of parchment from the pocket of his robes and drops it into Blaise's outstretched hand. Blaise unfolds it, and Theo leans to read it over his shoulder without even bothering to pretend that he isn't.
"Regan Ellis?" Blaise looks at Draco as though he's deranged. "Have you met Regan?"
"She will eat you alive," Theo answers. "And I don't mean that in any kind of pleasant euphemistic way. I mean she will rip you apart, chew you up, and spit you out again. She could make a starving tiger seem mild-mannered."
Blaise nods. "She's beautiful, but it would never work. Don't bother."
"How exactly do you two know all this?"
They exchange glances again.
"She's well-connected," Theo answers noncommittally. Department of Mysteries thing, then, Draco surmises, and lets it drop.
"Genevieve Thornapple?" Blaise reads, and Theo raises his eyebrows.
"You think he has a sister?"
"Younger cousin, maybe. Sister would be a bit of an age difference."
"Would you two stop talking like I'm not here?" Draco interrupts, exasperated, and Theo smiles faintly.
"We know another Thornapple," he says. "Powerful family, that. Good-looking, too."
Blaise snorts. "I'm telling him you said so."
"I'll do that hideous assignment you've been looking to dodge if you refrain."
Theo makes a face and plucks the list from Blaise's fingers. "Wait a minute. Tracey is on this?"
"You're planning on seducing my best friend for political convenience?"
"Not seducing," Draco explains quickly, because Theo's expression has gone very stormy indeed, and even Draco knows better than to mess with Theo when he's angry. "I'm planning on putting the idea to her and seeing what she says."
"I can tell you already that she'll say no."
"Then you don't need to worry."
Theo doesn't look convinced, and Blaise rolls his eyes.
"She is a grown woman, Theo," he points out. "Tracey can make her own decisions."
"You would say that," Theo retorts acidly, turning his glare on Blaise now. Ah, Draco thinks, that's what this is about.
"Children, children," he interrupts, "play nice."
"When have we ever done that?" Blaise drawls, sounding amused. Draco has to concede the point; they may play, on occasion, but it's never nice.
"Touché." Draco takes the list back. "What about the Greengrass girls?"
"I don't really know Astoria," Theo says, "and I can't believe you would seriously marry Daphne."
"Nothing wrong with Daphne. Pretty, wealthy, not so damn uptight."
"You know Theo doesn't approve of fun," Blaise says. "So that's, what, three? Four if you leave the Thornapple girl."
"Five," Draco corrects, "Aislinn McKennitt, you remember her. A year above us."
"Oh, do I ever remember her," Blaise says. Draco arches a brow, and Blaise shrugs. "What? How could anyone fail to notice?"
Draco rolls his eyes. "I'm not sure you're an appropriate standard to measure by."
"I remember her," Theo puts in, "pretty artist type."
"I rest my case."
Draco glances over at Theo. "Traitor."
Theo makes a noncommittal noise. "So your 'narrowed' list is five? Still dating pretty fast."
"Not dating," Draco corrects him, putting the parchment away, "deciding. In a year."
"It's not shopping for a broomstick."
"Isn't it?" Blaise interjects, smirking. They both ignore him.
"It's not like I'm not taking this seriously, Theo. But I have to start somewhere, don't I?"
Theo sighs, shaking his head. "Take Tracey out for Greek food," he advises, and Draco knows he's won this round. "It's her favourite."
"So," Tracey says over entrées, "I've been very patient, but I have to ask: what's this about?"
Draco glances at her over the rim of his glass. "What do you mean?"
"Come on, Malfoy, I'm not an idiot. We barely spoke in school, and now suddenly you're inviting me out for dinner? And at one of my favourite restaurants, as well, which tells me you talked to Theo before you did it- and that he agreed to help, which is almost as intriguing."
He smiles slightly, oddly pleased; he had forgotten how astute Tracey is. "I may have had a word with him," he agrees, "though as to why he actually decided to be cooperative, that's a question you'll have to put to Theo, I'm afraid."
"I'm sure that will become clear soon enough," she says, in the tone of a woman who's entirely confident that Theo wouldn't dare lie to her, "but you're avoiding the question."
"So I am." Draco is quiet for a long moment, his gaze still resting on her. He remembers Tracey as a shy teenager, awkward and uncertain in her own skin, but she has grown up; there is a quiet loveliness to her now, easy to overlook but not by any stretch of the imagination unappealing. "It's come to my attention that I ought to be considering settling down sometime in the not-too-distant future."
"I see," Tracey murmurs, and says nothing further right away, buying time by busying herself with her food. Eventually she says, without quite looking at him, "I suppose it shouldn't be surprising- I'm the sole heir of the Davises, now, after... that business with my parents and my brother. It's an obvious choice." She shrugs slightly. "But I am surprised, I have to admit. Surely someone else... Daphne, maybe."
"Daphne is... a possibility," he admits. Then, "Look, Tracey, I'm not proposing tonight, and I'm not asking for an answer. I'm asking if you'd be willing to entertain the idea for a while."
"Like a courtship?"
"I suppose so, in a manner of speaking," Draco agrees. "As you said, we were by no means close in our school years. We should get to know each other before we jump into anything."
Tracey's lips twitch, and then suddenly she is laughing. "I'm sorry," she says, once she's quieted again, "but how on earth did you keep Theo from killing you when you brought this up, much less get him to help you?"
Draco chuckles, then, too. "It helped that he was busy being irritated with Blaise."
"Ah, well. That would do it." She looks considerably less amused, and Draco rather regrets bringing it up- she's pretty when she's laughing, eyes bright and cheeks dimpling. But it's done now, so he may as well work with it.
"I gathered that you and he...?"
"Just like everyone else, right?" Tracey says, rather wryly. "Yeah. It... was not my best decision ever. And of course Theo didn't like it, you know how he is."
"Overprotective as all hell?"
"Something like that," she agrees, setting her fork down. "He does mean well."
Draco arches a brow. "Is that so? Because it seems to me that he means to not let anyone have you, if he can't."
"He doesn't want me."
"Not like that, no," he allows, "but you two seem a bit more than friendly, all the same."
"We have history," she says carefully. "A little like you and Pansy, maybe. He and I... we've been through a lot together. If things had been different it might have been him talking to me about getting married right now, his sexual preferences aside. But you know all that."
"More or less, yeah," he agrees. "Why did you think all the boys stayed clear in school? No one was dumb enough to mess with Theo's girl."
Her eyes widen briefly, fractionally, only barely noticeable. Had Draco blinked, he would have missed it. "That, or because my pretty, blonde best friend would put out."
"Like you aren't pretty."
"No need to flatter me," she says calmly, but there is the faintest pink tinge to her cheeks, and Draco smiles.
"How fortunate I'm not, then." The curve of his lips becomes almost wry. "I'm a man, Tracey, a certain degree of shallowness comes with the territory. I wouldn't be here if I didn't think you were worth looking at."
"Oh. Well. Thank you, then."
"You're welcome. Stay for dessert?"
"Hm." She looks faintly doubtful. "Dinner was big..."
"You are allowed to say no."
Tracey shakes her head. "It's not that. I just think I might explode if I eat much more." She drums her fingers idly on the tabletop for a moment, just looking at him. "Want to share?"
"Sure," Draco says after a moment, and he can't remember ever being so at ease around her before; the feeling is a little strange. He's not used to being comfortable with Tracey Davis, or to her being comfortable with him. "I'd like that."
"I do believe you owe me an explanation," Tracey says, though she doesn't sound angry. Theo arches a brow.
"Do I, now."
"Oh, don't be coy. You knew about this Draco thing."
"Ah." Theo leans back in his chair, watching her more intently now. "He may have mentioned it when I saw him last, yes. Why, did dinner go badly?"
"It went fine, but that's completely not the point. Since when do you think I should marry Draco?"
"Don't put words in my mouth," Theo retorts, "I never said that. I just think the idea shouldn't be dismissed out of hand."
Tracey gives him a supremely unconvinced look. "You nearly had a heart attack when you found out I slept with Blaise."
"It's Blaise," Theo answers, as though that explains everything- and it does, Tracey supposes, but that doesn't make it his business. His expression has darkened, though, and she huffs out a breath.
"And you'd prefer he had slept with you, you mean."
She rolls her eyes. "So, what, then? You figure Draco is the lesser of two evils?"
"Something like that," he hedges. He's watching her intently as he says it, expression difficult even for her to decipher- and she's known him all her life.
"Theo." Her voice is quiet, but it's firm, too. She isn't about to let him get out of this, avoid talking and pretend nothing is different (Theo has always been one to run from problems).
"It's not about Blaise," he finally says, reluctantly. "I didn't like it- I still don't- but that's not the reason."
"So talk to me." When he hesitates, she lets out a faintly exasperated sigh. "Or I suppose you could wait until I'm impatient enough to force-feed you veritaserum, but I wouldn't recommend that option."
"It just... sounds egotistical to say," Theo answers cautiously, "but, well." A breath. "I think it's time you stopped waiting for me."
For a moment, Tracey is too stunned to speak. But only for a moment. "Of all nerve-"
"Go on then," Theo interrupts sharply. "Look me in the eye and tell me I'm wrong."
"You're so out of line I don't even know where to begin."
"Out of line, perhaps. But that is not the same thing as wrong."
Tracey's jaw clenches. "You are." Even as she says the words, though, she's not certain if she believes them; she can only hope it's not apparent in her voice.
"Am I?" Theo's tone is still infuriatingly calm. "Well. All apologies, then. You know your own way out."
She slams the door when she goes, but doesn't really feel any better.
Blaise arches a brow as he opens his office door. "Tracey. I wasn't expecting you."
"Fortunately not." He pushes the door wider and steps aside to let her in before pulling it shut behind her. "What brings you here?"
"I need your opinion."
"Ah, is that all."
"It is all."
He looks at her consideringly for a moment. "Well, you know I'm not shy with them."
"I know very well."
Blaise sits down and gestures for her to do likewise. She sits perched carefully on the edge of the chair opposite him, hands folded neatly on her lap. Contained.
"Do you think I've been waiting around for Theo?"
"Ah." Blaise is watching her more intently now. "You really need to ask me that? I would think the answer is obvious."
"Not to me."
"Of course to you. You came here because you were hoping I'd tell you differently- foolish of you, incidentally."
Tracey's lips thin. "I got over Theo a long time ago."
Blaise arches a brow. "Get over him, then."
She watches him for a moment. "I've known him since we were children, Blaise. I'll always care about him."
His lips quirk. "Not what I meant, pet. Not what I meant."
"You're working awfully late."
Tracey jumps at the sound of another voice and twists in her chair, looking over her shoulder to see Draco standing in the doorway, leaning against the frame. "How did you get back here?"
"An awful lot of donations over the years."
"Ah." Tracey regards him over the thin frames of the glasses she's wearing perched on her nose. "Well, it's bought us an excellent lab."
"So I see." He straightens and approaches. "What's got you shut in here so late, then?"
"I'm working on refining one of the fever-reducing potions we give for dragon pox," she answers. "I just hate to stop in the middle, you know? I lose my train of thought, and then I feel like I'm starting practically from scratch the next day."
Draco's lips give a wry twist. "I take it that's your polite little way of telling me to leave you alone."
Tracey looks up at him again, then smiles slightly. "Not if you're willing to wait a few minutes, it's not."
He reaches out and gently pushes her glasses back up the bridge of her nose with his index finger before sitting down in the nearest chair. "I can do that."
Tracey blinks, slightly taken aback by the unexpected gesture, before she turns and leans over her work once more. Preoccupied as she is by the delicate final stages of brewing the potion in question, Draco has no need of any pretense that he isn't watching her work. Her shoulders hunch slightly as she leans back over her cauldron, and her hair is held back from her face in a severe bun at the nape of her neck, perfectly sleek save for a lone tendril curling around one ear. Her glasses are soon sliding down her tiny nose again, and she crinkles it distractedly to push them back up without having to use her hands. Draco's lips twitch.
The potion simmering in front of her suddenly hisses in the cauldron and emits an acrid billow of purple smoke, and Tracey waves it away from her face and frowns slightly. "Well, that's not supposed to happen," she mutters, and Draco tilts his head.
"Flaxseed?" he suggests. There is a silence, Tracey chewing on her bottom lip as she considers.
"Maybe," she concedes. "Worth a try, at any rate."
"Not tonight," he says before he thinks about it; it comes out sounding too demanding, and Tracey arches a brow at him coolly.
"Why not?" she asks. Her tone is calm, but there's a faint glint of challenge in her eye. It's an expression he hasn't ever seen on her before.
"Because you're going out to dinner with me." Matter-of-fact instead of cajoling; she regards him for a long moment, then gets to her feet.
"I promised Daphne."
The corner of Tracey's lip twitches. "Only if you take me somewhere very nice indeed," she replies, and walks out without another word. Draco stares after her for a moment, then smiles crookedly and follows.
She takes an infuriatingly long time to get ready for dinner, locking herself in her bedroom and leaving Draco to pace restlessly in the sitting room of her modest flat. He wanders while he waits, for lack of anything better to do- it doesn't look like a pureblood lives here, much less one as wealthy as he knows Tracey is, between her inheritance and her job. It is clean and comfortable, and the dying sunlight slants inside through wide windows, illuminating everything in a fire-bright gold, but the place itself is entirely unremarkable. Draco suspects she doesn't spend a lot of time here, probably shut away at the hospital working more often than not.
No wonder Theo likes her, Draco thinks wryly, then just as quickly lets that thought go. He's not sure he wants to go near the complicated tangle that is Theo's friendship with Tracey, even if he knows that he'll have to at some point.
Draco has ceased his pacing and settled on the sofa to read of the the books perched on the coffee table (complicated healing theory- interesting, despite how much of it goes over his head) when Tracey finally reappears. He has the distinct impression she kept him waiting more on principle than because she really needed much time to change, but she looks pretty all the same, dressed in a set of soft lavender robes with her hair let loose around her shoulders.
"Am I presentable, then?"
Draco smirks faintly. "You'll do," he drawls, getting to his feet and offering her his arm. She takes it with the artful air of a woman accepting her due- it's a strange look on Tracey, and Draco isn't sure he likes it. She flashes an uncertain smile when he slants a sideways glance at her, though, and her gaze flickers away as she does it almost as if to say that isn't me.
Draco lifts her hand to brush a kiss across her knuckles, then apparates them both away.
"I'm not going to apologise to you," Tracey says without preamble. Her tone is already defensive, and Theo regards her in silence for a long moment.
"Neither am I," I finally says, but he steps back to let her inside. She steps over the threshold and he lets the door fall shut behind her and calls a house elf to take her cloak.
"If I've been waiting for you, who have you been waiting for?"
The question startles Theo- his eyes widen fractionally, the only sign of surprise he gives, but also the only one he needs to for her to know. "No one," he replies. "Frankly, my dear, you're the only person I know who would ever consider me worth it."
"That's not true," she retorts, and he arches a brow.
Tracey purses her lips. "Just because Blaise doesn't sit around pining-"
"This isn't about Blaise."
"Don't be an idiot. It was always about Blaise." She sinks down neatly on to the nearest chair, but he stays standing, arms folded across his chest and stance tense. "You wanted him, and I'm not a good person. Okay? I didn't want you to have him, but I didn't really want him for myself."
Theo doesn't answer, and Tracey drops her gaze. "I know, I know."
"If you aren't going to apologise," he finally replies coldly, "I have nothing to say to you."
"It was because I-"
"Don't," he interrupts sharply. "Don't you dare say it."
She is on her feet again before she quite realises what is happening. "It was because I love you," she spits out, and Theo flinches as if the words are a physical blow. "And I know you'll never love me like that and that's fine, I've known that for years, but if you had him what would you ever need me for?"
"Idiot," Theo snaps suddenly, grabbing hold of her shoulders and giving her a hard shake as he says it. "I'd no more stop caring about you if I were with him than I'd stop caring about a sister. Of all stupid, selfish-"
"Who else do I have? Who else, Theo, if you're not around?"
He lets go of her as if burned. "If you think so little of me that you assume I'd abandon you at the slightest provocation, surely I'm not worth your time to begin with," he retorts. His voice has gone quietly venomous. "Is that what you intend if things work out with Draco?"
"Of course not! How could you even-"
"Then how could you even?"
Her jaw clicks shut. "Oh," she finally says. Her voice is barely audible, and Theo scowls at her.
"Yes. 'Oh,' indeed."
Tracey doesn't look at him. "I should go," she says, still very quiet and a little wavering. She has drawn in on herself, shoulders hunched and curled in like she is trying to make her body as small as possible, like she's trying to disappear. She doesn't see it, but Theo's expression finally softens, and he closes the distance between them with one long stride to wrap his arms around her. She startles slightly against him, tense, but doesn't pull back.
"Tracey." The words don't come easily, but he forces them out, foreign on his lips. "I love you. And you should have talked to me."
"Talking isn't really what you do."
He nods slightly. "True. But I listen."
There is a silence.
"I'm sorry," she finally whispers, and he sighs and squeezes her a little tighter.
"If Draco proposes to you, are you going to say yes?"
"I..." she frowns faintly, just a slight wrinkle between her brows. "I don't know yet. He's... I need more time."
Theo nods. "All right," he says, and kisses the crown of your head. She twists in his arms to look up at him.
He shrugs slightly. "It's your decision."
"But you have an opinion."
"Not yet." His lips give the faintest quirk at the corners. "I need more time."
The knock on the door was half-expected, and it swings open with a flick of her wand to reveal Draco standing in the threshold.
"I'll take that to mean I can come in," he says, regarding her with an air of faint amusement. Tracey, who has not moved from where she sits curled up on the sofa, simply nods, and Draco settles himself beside her.
"You've talked to Theo, I assume."
"Not really." Off Tracey's look, he elaborates, "He said you might want to see me. Nothing else."
"Ah." She is quiet for a moment. "We fought. It... we're okay now, I think, but. I never like fighting with him."
"I've never even seen you two fight."
"We hardly ever do." She shrugs a little uncomfortably, and Draco frowns.
"It was about me, wasn't it." Not really a question, but she nods anyway.
His gaze flicks away, just for a moment. "He doesn't want me seeing you?"
"He wants me to do what I want, apparently." She looks down at her hands, lacing her fingers together. "I just need to decide what that is."
"I see." Draco's expression is difficult to read, but he reaches up and brushes a hand gently across her hair. Tracey turns her head to look back at him, round-eyed, and Draco's fingertips skim across her cheek.
"Why am I on the list, Draco?" she murmurs. "If it's just for my money or my blood, there is no decision."
"There are a dozen girls with the money and blood, Tracey. More than that with enough of one or the other."
She swallows. "Not good enough."
Draco draws in a breath and leans forward to press his lips to hers, fingers feathering across her cheek. He feels Tracey's eyelashes flutter against his skin, a faint stutter of her breath against his mouth.
"Good enough?" he asks quietly, resting his forehead against hers, and feels her nod slightly.
"It'll do," she whispers, and doesn't open her eyes. "It'll do fine."
Chapter Two: Daphne Greengrass