Playing with Fire

Chapter 10: Expectations

Song: Devil’s Advocate - The Neighborhood

Draco sat at the Death Eater table, feeling much better about his poker face today. His friends kept looking at him from their seats. He refused to meet his their eyes, but could feel gazes on him regardless.

“Tell me Draco, how is Lucius?“, the Dark Lord’s voice slithered into his ear from behind him.

He was pacing around the table - circling his prey - and had been for the last hour. He clearly was feeling antsy, having not killed anyone in, what, three days? He must be having withdrawals from his deadly addiction.

“Useless, my Lord. More so than before, if you would believe it”, he told the Dark Lord coldly. His friends stared hatefully at him, shocked, but trying to hide it.

The Dark Lord chuckled in a way that sounded like gravel ringing out against a chalkboard - scraping past the ears of everyone at the table.

“It doesn’t surprise me that he is struggling with this new disability. He’s always proved to be dissatisfactory, and yet, I need him”, everyone had been chuckling at the insults thrown about Lucius, but suddenly the room was quiet and still.

“He will return in November - I’m sure you’ll have no problem keeping him updated and of sound mind, Draco?“, he stated, stopping again behind Draco’s chair and halting his infinite stalk around the table.

“Of course, my Lord”, Draco told him, not moving a muscle.

The rest of their meeting was dreadful. Just as Draco suspected, the Dark Lord was bored. Needing a hit of violence to fuel his addiction. He dug around until he finally found something to lash out at. Unfortunately, that something was Theo.

Theo cried out as the third Cruciatus hit him. Not a soul at the table dared to look in his direction. It was out of their hands.

“I trust next time you won’t make the same mistake, Theodore”, the Dark Lord stated, putting his wand away and stroking Nagini lovingly. If he was capable of love. It wasn’t likely. Admiration was a better term for it.

Theo nodded as best as he could, but he was still struggling from the after effects of the curse. “You will deploy to Romania immediately. Everyone else is dismissed”, the Dark Lord said with a wave of his grey, spidery hand.

Everyone rose from their chairs and departed with urgency. Draco finally met Theo’s eyes and gave him a sorrowful look on his way out. I wish I could help, he tried to tell him wordlessly.

Nothing you could’ve done, mate, Theo said with his eyes. Draco gave a brief nod and left.

~~~

Draco was focusing hard on Yaxley’s journal laid out in front of him when a light knock came from the door.

“Bopsy is bringing the mublood to Master Malfoy!“, Bopsy said to him.

“Thank you Bops”, Draco responded. She had always been his favorite house elf. The kindest and most caring of them. Of course, they were slaves, so he couldn’t fault the other house elves for any distaste they had towards the Malfoy family.

Draco saw Bopsy wave goodbye to Granger - too caring for her own good, he thought, and continued double-checking his work in the cauldron to his right.

Granger sat in the chair he gestured towards and he cast a quick spell to bind her to it. He wasn’t in the mood for a struggle. Fight. Argument. Whatever came from what he was about to do, he didn’t want it to be any more difficult than need be.

“Surely this isn’t necessary! Do you truly insist on being such an insufferable git all the while knowing very well that I won’t resist. It’s not as if I have my wand or anything!“, she shouted at him, struggling against the ropes.

He didn’t even flinch. How predictable of her.

“Oh, so it isn’t enough for me to sit in solitary confinement all day and night, now you force me to sit here, tied up, while you refuse to speak?“, she was clearly furious. He could practically feel her eyes carving holes into him. He remained focused on the spell.

He heard her spit and it landed on the toe of his left shoe - he waved a hand to disappear it. Is that all you’ve got? He almost chuckled, almost.

“What is that?“, she demanded, clearly referring to the setup in front of him. “What the hell did you make me drink?” You don’t want to know, Granger.

He picked up the blade that lay above the journal and made his way toward her, looking at her for the first time since she walked in. He was convinced at this point that she was refusing her food. Stubborn little brat.

He paused, glancing at the scar that read “mudblood” on her forearm, but quickly shook it off and proceeded.

“Come to give me a matching scar on the other arm have you?“, she narrowed her eyes at him. He ignored it, but his ears were flooded with her screams from that night. He pushed the memory away.

He placed one hand on her wrist to steady it, she was shaking violently. He used the other to slice her wrist as delicately as he could, and began to collect the blood from her wrist.

He filled the vial about halfway with her blood, before slicing his own wrist, and filling the rest of the vial with his own. Mixing pureblood and mudblood? The irony. He almost laughed.

He poured the vial into the cauldron and it roared loudly, emitting a puff of red smoke in the shape of a dragon. Interesting.

He ladled some of the potion into the goblet and strode back across the room to her. His eyes finally met hers and she looked at him challengingly. “There are easier ways of poisoning me, Malfoy.”

“Believe me Granger, if I had any, it certainly wouldn’t be wasted on you”, he retorted. Does she really think Iwant to be doing this? Merlin, I would’ve killed myself long before now if it was truly an option. ‘Smartest witch of our age’ my arse. For such a book-smart witch, she can be dimmer than a burnt-out lightbulb.

He held the goblet up to her lips and she quirked a brow, refusing to part them.

“For once in your life can you just not be so bloody insufferable?“, he said angrily, staring into her eyes. Stubborn is an understatement.

“Insufferable? Funny coming from you”, she said, pressing her lips together tightly. He rolled his eyes.

Draco grabbed her chin with his left hand, tightly, fingers wrapping around her throat.

“I tried to do this nicely but make no mistake, I get what I want, and not even you can get in the way of that Granger. Now open wide, or I’ll make you”, he said with a growl. Did she always have to make his life so bloody difficult?

Finally, she opened her mouth and allowed him to pour the potion into it. His eyes remained on hers until she had drank every last drop. “Good girl”, he told her, turning to grab his wand from the table. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?

He grabbed his wand from the table and stood next to her, focusing on her left bicep.

He began waving his wand the way Yaxley’s journal instructed, repeating the Latin over and over.

She suddenly cried out in pain and her entire body emitted a red light. It began to make its way towards where his wand was trained on her arm.

She gasped, turning sharply as much as she could while tied to the chair, to look at him. His focus didn’t falter. The spell wasn’t over yet, and bloody hell this might have been the most difficult spell he had ever performed.

Her arm began to bleed, as if someone was carving into it. It reminded him painfully of the night his Aunt permanently branded “mudblood” on Granger’s arm. He swallowed the bile rising in his throat and continued. The mark glowed and wrapped around her arm, leaving a blood-red dragon encircling it. The same dragon that appeared to have come from the potion’s smoke earlier.

“Tell me how you feel”, he said hesitantly. Did it work?

“I feel like I just got bloody carved into like a piece of wood! How the hell do you think I feel?“, she shouted at him. It definitely worked.

He nodded slowly, wondering just how strong the spell was. Would she really do anything he said? It was probably better that she didn’t know what the spell did. He certainly wasn’t going to tell her. He really didn’t plan on using it at all, unless he had no other choice.

He called for Bopsy to lead Granger back to the dungeons but she planted her feet hard into the ground once her bindings were removed.

“Wait!“, she shouted at him, “I...please. At least tell me...how long it’s been”, she begged.

He knew what she meant. Fuck. Draco paused for a moment but then responded flatly, “Almost three weeks.”

Her bottom lip quivered. She nodded softly and then turned to go with Bopsy, the house elf’s hand hung in the air, waiting for her to grasp it.

Once the door closed behind them, he collapsed in the seat Granger had sat in. He leaned over, elbows on his knees, head in his hands. He tried to breathe but couldn’t find any air. Water gathered in his eyes so he squeezed them tight.

The spell had worked. Why did it have to bloody work? It was only a matter of time until he abused this power, whether accidental or deliberately - of that he was certain.

The expectations Draco had for himself were poor at this point. He opened his eyes and harshly wiped the tears away. All he could see when he closed his eyes for the past 3 weeks was his mother. But now, it was accompanied by that damned Sanguis Stigma on Granger’s arm, carved with his blood and hers, on the same arm that read “mudblood”. He may as well never sleep again.

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