Playing with Fire

Chapter 24: Addict

Song: California - YUNGBLUD

Draco was tired of being stuck in the manor, so when his friends wanted to meet up at The Inebriatus, he accepted the invitation gladly.

He had been ordered to work from home since the bombing of the Ministry, and it was quickly getting very old. He couldn’t talk to Granger without thinking about things that he knew he shouldn’t. And he definitely wasn’t about to spend any more time with his father than he had to.

As a result, feeling isolated was an understatement.

The Dark Lord believed that the attack was not only a jab at him, but a specific effort to assassinate Draco as his right-hand man.

If the Incendiaries saw Draco as invaluable, then the Dark Lord now saw him as indispensable. Which meant he needed to be well out of reach.

He seemed oddly concerned about Draco’s wellbeing, and he couldn’t understand why. Draco just assumed that Weaselbee and whoever else was part of the Incendiaries simply wanted him dead due to his position and by association.

It didn’t make sense. The position he was given was easily replaceable. It wasn’t as if the Dark Lord had no one else to fill the position if anything happened to him. There was no shortage of Death Eaters.

Eager to leave Malfoy Manor for the first time in about a month, Draco arrived at the bar well before his friends did, his ears already buzzing from the alcohol by the time they sat in the booth.

“Damn, how’ve you been mate? Might as well be on house arrest”, Blaise laughed as he greeted Draco.

“Feels a bit pre-war, and we all know how that was”, Draco grinned.

“The Minister in public? What a scandal - don’t you know Skeeter will have a field day if you’re seen?“, Pansy teased him.

“We all know she’s begging for table scraps at this point. I’m surprised she still has a career”, Daphne added. They all laughed in agreement.

The conversation flowed freely as they knocked back round after round, feeling somewhat normal for the first time in quite a while.

“What the hell are we supposed to do about the Dark Lord’s ‘pureblood heir’ obsession?“, Daphne asked, leaning heavily on Pansy.

“Who fucking cares Daph? I doubt there will be a need for him to force purebloods to procreate”, Pansy snickered.

“Well he’s a bit old school in his beliefs isn’t he? Marriage, babies, repeat, is his philosophy for the preservation of pureblood lines, he’s made that painfully clear”, Blaise responded, sipping his dragonclaw gin.

“Blaise is right”, Draco said, swirling the firewhiskey in his glass, “arranged marriages don’t seem too far fetched, all things considered.”

Pansy scoffed at that, but Daphne looked genuinely concerned. When Pansy noticed, she turned to her, grabbing her hand. “It’ll be alright Daph, really. I’m sure it isn’t that deep”, she said shooting an angry glare at Blaise and Draco.

“Look, I’m just trying to be honest. I’ve probably been around Lord Nose-less more than any of us, he’s pretty adamant about it”, Draco said

“That’s fucking ridiculous”, Pansy said, quickly going from jovial to irritated, “talking about arranged marriages and shit?”

“I don’t know Pans...Draco’s right”, Blaise added. “I heard him mention to Bellatrix that he’d prefer it sooner rather than later. It’s just more baby Death Eaters for his army.”

“Aren’t we a bit young for that?“, Daphne asked softly. She looked sick to her stomach at that point.

“Stop filling her head with all this shit”, Pansy spat angrily.

Draco rolled his eyes, losing his patience now. “Listen, I know you two are afraid, but the sooner you ‘pair up’ with someone under false pretenses, the better.”

“Oh really Minister Malfoy, and how do you suggest we go about that?“, Pansy asked him hysterically.

Draco shrugged in response. He looked to Blaise who seemed to be thinking deeply before he interjected.

“The only people who know about you two, are us...“, Blaise stated, hesitant to continue.

“Ah yes, great observation. A true detective you are”, Pansy rolled her eyes. Clearly deflecting out of fear that Draco and Blaise were correct.

“It would only make sense if...well...“, Blaise looked to Draco for help, practically begging for a life-preserver for the ocean he was drowning in.

“Holy shit Blaise, that’s genius”, Draco said, eyes blown wide in realization.

Daphne and Pansy both stared at them in anticipation.

“The Dark Lord would never accept your relationship, for obvious reasons. But, it could easily fly under the radar if you both were in relationships with other Death Eaters”, he clarified.

“Like who?“, Daphne asked them genuinely.

The boys stared at her, waiting for her to catch on. “Oh!“, she finally said in realization. Pansy continued to stare as if she was missing the punch-line to an idiotic joke she had no interest in hearing.

“Pans, that’s it! You pretend to date Draco, no one will have a hard time believing it because of your history, I’ll pretend to date Blaise, and it’ll all work out!“, Daphne said in a rushed, whispered tone to be sure no one around them could hear her words.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me babe, there’s no way in...“, Pansy trailed off when Daphne widened her eyes innocently at her.

“Please...there’s no other option”, Daphne begged her. “I love you, please Pans.”

Pansy was clearly between a rock and a hard place. Her eyes flickered between the three others at the table. She thought for a long moment before finally sighing, “Okay. I love you Daph. I’ll do it for you”, she told her.

Daphne embraced her girlfriend tightly, clearly feeling relieved by her answer.

“Yea, yea, I know I’m the best”, Pansy winked at her, wearing an almost sorrowful smile. “So, how do we go about convincing the Dark Lord of this whole charade?”

“I think we all know the best way to get that out there”, Blaise chuckled. “Be seen leaving the bar with us tonight and it’ll be all over the news tomorrow. You know Skeeter must have a fly or two on the walls anywhere you go.”

They all agreed, this was the best way. They joked about what tomorrow’s headlines could say: Death Eaters in Love or Mrs. Minister Malfoy?

They each made bets on it before departing the bar, choosing to walk out the front door where they could easily be seen as opposed to their typical floo powder exit. They were all a bit too drunk to floo home safely anyway.

By the time Pansy and Draco got back to the manor, they were both crying from laughter. It reminded him of their days at Hogwarts, where they’d spend their time making fun of Potter and his pals. Oh how the times had changed.

They were walking down the hall to his room, when he saw the silhouette of Granger, standing there like a deer in headlights. She looked painfully uncomfortable.

It was then that Pansy noticed her, he could hear her giggling quietly enough that Granger surely wouldn’t hear it. He quickly put on his serious face. He had enough masks to fill a closet with at this point.

“What are you doing here? It’s 2am”, he said in a stern voice.

“I, well...you weren’t here for...for me to report to you”, she responded. He had never seen her look so shy. How adorable. Hermione Granger, speechless. I never thought I’d see the day.

“It really couldn’t have waited until-“, Draco was chuckling but cut himself off, quickly realizing why she had waited. Realizing she couldn’t have just gone to bed without telling him if she wanted to. Not after his instructions. “Right, let’s hear it then.”

She gave him the briefest report ever, seeming to rush her words out as quickly as they would go, and then there was a painful silence between the three of them.

Pansy’s laughter broke the quiet. “You waited up to tell him THAT?“, she practically turned red in the face, clutching her stomach in stitches. “To tell him you bonded with Daddy Malfoy? Proud of that are you? I mean really Granger, how pathetic, even for you“, she spat, her laughter becoming hateful. Draco cringed. Daddy Malfoy? Merlin, Pansy can you not?

Draco hated to admit it, but he wished Pansy wouldn’t have been so harsh to her. Why the hell do I care? He forced a laugh to hide his thoughts.

“You should get some rest”, Draco told her, trying to hide his grimace. She practically sprinted away in clear embarrassment so Draco ushered Pansy into his room.

As soon as the door was shut Draco lost his pokerface. “Pansy, don’t be like that to her.”

Pansy just about gave herself whiplash from turning so fast in shock to Draco’s words. “Excuse me?“, jaw hanging open.

“Just...she’s a prisoner alright? Can’t you just ignore her?“, he asked.

She laughed spitefully, “You’re kidding right? What, you care about her now?“, she teased.

“Fuck no, I just...I don’t know. She’s a fucking prisoner alright? She’s lived in the dungeon since May under the Dark Lord’s orders. I think it’s hard enough for her as it is so...just take it easy”, he responded.

“So you don’t care but you definitely feel sympathy for her”, Pansy scoffed, “never thought I’d see the day Draco Malfoy could sympathize with anyone.”

“I pity her”, he clarified.

“Right”, she said sarcastically with a smirk, “So are we reliving our Hogwarts days tonight or do I get my own boudoir?”

“Hilarious. You can stay in the room across the hall whenever we do these little publicity stunts”, he informed her.

“Perfect, thank you Minister. Such a gentleman”, she pinched his shoulder and sauntered out of the room.

Draco couldn’t stop thinking about Granger, and wasn’t tired, so he drank more. No such thing as too much, I suppose. He unbuttoned his shirt a bit and took a seat in front of his fireplace, running his fingers through his hair a few times.

~~~

Song: Stressed - UPSAHL

Before Draco knew it, an hour had passed and he was thoroughly knackered, making his way towards the dungeons.

He took his wand out to unlock the door, and clumsily made his way down the stairs, his feet echoing the entire way.

There she was, sat with her knees pulled up to her chest, sitting on her cot. Somehow he knew she wouldn’t be asleep.

“Come to laugh at me some more then?“, Granger asked him angrily, sliding her legs down to dangle off the side of the cot.

“Can you blame me?“, Draco responded confidently, eyes half glazed, “It’s fun to see you get so flustered, Granger” She squirmed slightly. Damn, I love that sight.

“I think your girlfriend had that job covered all on her own then”, she retorted, narrowing her eyes hatefully at him. Let’s see if we can get you to a full burn then, love.

“Girlfriend?“, he laughed. Smartest witch of our age apparently isn’t as smart as she thinks. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were jealous, Grangerrr”, he slurred, and a smirk growing across his lips.

“Well Malfoy, If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re wasted. I can smell you from here”, she said with a scoff. Sniffed me out have you?

He took four long strides across the room before he reached her cot. He bent down to where she sat, not stopping until his face was mere inches from hers. “Then tell me, what have I been drinking?” He could see the shock on her face, and he loved it. Loved that he could make her cheeks go bright pink that way.

His tongue darted out to wet his lips automatically. He glanced down at hers, admiring the soft, supple look of them before asking, “or would you need to taste it to know?” Say yes. Merlin, please say yes.

He tried to read the expression on her face but when she didn’t even breathe in response, he glanced at her lips once more before taking a step back. Merlin, the self-control it took for him to take that step.

“Don’t report to me anymore unless I specifically ask you to or if you think it’s something I need to know - I don’t like being interrupted like I was tonight”, he said in an irritated tone, but Hermione was still inert where she sat.

He left the room, making his way up the stairs, and turning to lock the door without looking back at her. He was rock hard in his pants, and his body was overly warm from the excess of alcohol, his blood rushing from the tension that had filled the room. It was like an addictive chemical, and Merlin knows what an addict Draco could be.

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