Playing with Fire

Chapter 26: Big Plans

Song: Habits of My Heart - Jaymes Young

Pansy stood in front of Draco, wearing the same clothes from the night before. “Sooo, Minister of deceit, how the hell are we supposed to continue this act?“, she asked him, leaning against the door frame of his bedroom.

He rolled his eyes at her comment. “Well I was right about Skeeter - seen the paper this morning? I’d say I’m the best fit for the job, wouldn’t you agree?”

Pansy gave a slow, sarcastic clap, “Yes, well done, bravo. Seriously though, what now?”

“Unfortunately, we’ll have to continue to be seen together. Just long enough for the Dark Lord to redirect his ‘pureblood procreating’ plans to someone else”, he told her.

"Unfortunately“, she mocked, “as if you don’t love being seen with me”, she shoved his shoulder playfully.

“Right, because what could be better than pretending to date someone who has no interest in men, and who I see as a sister? I couldn’t ask for a better life”, he teased.

Pansy laughed before going back to the problem at hand, “What will this entail then? Parading around in public while holding hands? You’re still considered very much in danger by everyone.”

“I think for the time being, occasionally meeting at The Inebriatus and being seen leaving together will be enough”, he stated.

“Okay...you really think this will work? I...Daphne...I can’t let her get hurt by our pretend relationship. I can’t lose her Draco, you understand that don’t you?“, her eyes were almost glassy with fear.

Draco pulled her into a tight hug, “I wouldn’t suggest it if I didn’t think it would work. Pans, I meant what I said, you’re the closest thing to a sister I’ve ever had. I won’t let anything happen to you or Daphne, I promise.”

She nodded, appearing to feel reassured from Draco’s words, then told him goodbye before leaving the manor.

~~~

Song: Ugly - Jaira Burns

Around midday, the Dark Lord called Draco for a meeting unexpectedly.

“Good afternoon Minister, how are you?“, he hissed.

“I’m well, my Lord, I hope you are as well”, he responded with zero emotion.

“Considering your new relationship, which I learned about from today’s Daily Prophet, I’m thrilled. How did this come to be?“, he asked almost suspiciously.

“I’ve known Pansy Parkinson since I was a boy at Hogwarts, we were always drawn to each other, my Lord”, he responded, forcing a smile.

“Excellent. I assume it’s only a matter of time until your relationship progresses, seeing as you’re quite comfortable with each other?“, he questioned.

“As soon as you wish, my Lord. I know the future of pureblood lines is important to you”, he said.

The Dark Lord nodded in approval, interlacing his bony fingers together. “And how is the mudblood you’re watching over for me? Yaxley’s work is holding up?”

“Yes, my Lord. Surprisingly, Yaxley’s work has served sufficiently. There have been no issues keeping the mudblood under control”, Draco told him.

He hummed in approval, “Tell me if anything should change. I have big plans for that one that cannot under any circumstances be compromised, understood?”

Draco’s blood ran cold. “Yes, my Lord. Of course”. What does he have planned?

The Dark Lord dismissed him, leaving Draco’s thoughts overwhelmed with just how soon he’d be expected to “progress” with Pansy, and concerned with Granger’s fate.

~~~

Song: Salt in the Wound - Julien Baker

Draco spent the rest of the day drowning in his thoughts.

He paced the manor, then sat in his study and drank. Paced the manor again, then drank in his room. Repeating the process over and over.

Progress? I just told Pansy it would be fine and for all I know, he could be expecting children from us within the year. Fuck. I said I’d protect her and Daphne. I promised. I already fucked up.

The firewhiskey burned his throat until he consumed so much, it was simply numb.

“Big plans” - Salazar, don’t kill her. She doesn’t deserve to die. She’s helpless. It’s just wrong. What the hell does he have planned?

He felt constricted in his clothes. Like he was suffocating. Overheating. He quickly removed his shirt and loosened his belt, trying to cool down.

The day had come and gone in the blink of an eye. Draco hadn’t even noticed when the sun had gone down. Didn’t even remember lighting the fireplace.

He stood, deep in thought, circling the same paths over and over while he leaned against the fireplace, drink in hand. A knock came at the door. “Come in”, he said automatically.

The door slowly opened to reveal Granger, looking hesitant and borderline afraid of him. Her expression changed when their eyes locked, but it was unreadable. He was too drunk, his brain too fuzzy, to even question why she was there.

The surprise was likely clear on his face, but he didn’t have the energy to care about it. Not that he would have cared if she showed up while he was sober.

She stood there in silence for a long time, appearing to be dazed. Welcome to the club.

Suddenly Granger’s voice filled the room in a hurried pace as she filled him in on what had gone down in the library that night.

He stood there unmoving, his brain processing her words more slowly than usual. Draco slowly turned and strode over to the table in front of his fireplace, placed his glass on it, and took a seat. He waved for her to join him in the seat on the other side of the table.

She moved so silently that he wasn’t even sure she wasn’t still in his doorway until he saw her gently lower herself into the adjacent chair.

“What did you tell him”, he asked. Might as well get to the point.

“What?“, she asked as if she had no clue what he meant.

“What did you tell my father specifically that made him react that way?“, he clarified, staring into the fire and taking another sip of his drink.

“I...told him about that night”, she said. “How I saw you and Pansy”, she rushed the words out. Ah yes, father’s favorite witch.

Draco chuckled softly, leaning back in the chair and crossing a leg to rest over his knee. “He never had a problem with Pansy until my mother did.”

There was a pregnant pause.

“He must miss her terribly. Both of you”, she commented in almost a whisper. “The first book he asked me to read...I know it was hers, Narcissa’s. I saw her name in the back of it, he wrote a note for her in it.” Well done, detective. Smartest witch of our age. Must’ve taken a lot of digging to figure that one out.

“When you told me what book he asked you to read to him, I immediately knew why. He didn’t pick that book by chance. That “good book” I recommended was hers as well”, Draco told her. He didn’t even have the energy to be snarky.

He continued when she didn’t make any audible sound of understanding.

“My mother spent most of her days in the library as you do now”, he told her, reminiscing on how much of his childhood he spent there with her. “You know, maybe it isn’t the best idea for you to continue meeting with him everyday.”

“He seemed to be doing better until he found out about Pansy, I mean that”, she told him. I’m sure he was, Granger, but I’d rather you not get your throat sliced open the next time my father has a blind outburst.

“I don’t disagree, but he has to return to his Death Eater duties fairly soon anyway”, he said, swirling his drink before finishing it off.

“Return? What do you mean”, she asked.

“My father was ordered to return to the Dark Lord’s side in November. He gave him six months to adapt to being blind - that’s as far as his ‘courtesy’, if you can even call it that, goes”, he sighed deeply, sinking further into the chair.

“How can he possibly be expected to aid Voldemort while he’s blind? It’s not as if he can duel or anything of the like”, she said, appearing to grow frustrated.

“Yes, but he can fulfill other duties. As long as we aren’t at war, we don’t need too many for the battlefield anyway”, he responded.

“Malfoy...what happened? I mean, how did he, you know, become blind?“, she finally asked, clearly having wanted to ask it well before now.

Draco scoffed, “Apparently, killing Mother wasn’t enough punishment for the Malfoys. The Dark Lord blinded him with a curse of his own making. He insisted that he ‘shouldn’t have to see Narcissa in photos - should be ashamed by her betrayal, ashamed of her defacing the family name’ “. He clenched and unclenched his fists in frustration.

“All that, and you still support him? Obey his every command? Remain at his beck and call?“, she pushed. Accused.

Draco suddenly grew angry and defensive, quickly rising from his seat to tower over her with his intimidating height. “Don’t speak as if you understand. You never have and you never will. As I said, you will no longer read to my father everyday. Show yourself out.”

He said this knowing fully that she had to obey.

Who the hell does she think she is? Judging my choices? There isn’t a choice when it comes to family. You do what you have to do for them.

Without another word, she rose from her chair and walked out the door, making sure to shut the door behind her.

Here I was worried about what future the Dark Lord held for her, and she has the audacity to judge me when she has never been in a situation like mine. Never had her family threatened and used to blackmail her. He had.

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