Playing with Fire

Chapter 59: One you won't regret

Song: minor - Gracie Abrams

They spent hours researching the mark and barely made a dent in the stack of books on the table. It was exhausting. Around 2am, Hermione fell asleep but Draco was still knee deep in the texts. He picked her up in his arms and carried her to his room, tucking her in and brushing the curls from her face. How did I get so lucky?

He took a deep breath, thoughts riddled with conflict as he made his way to the East Wing of the manor. It was colder here. Darker.

“What brings you here at this hour?”, Lucius asked his son when he entered, shutting the door behind him. Draco strode over to the window, staring out into the darkness deep in thought, fiddling with his rings much like his father did.

“It’s the girl isn’t it”, Lucius commented after a few moments of painful silence.

Draco’s eyes dropped to the floor and he raised a hand to scratch the back of his neck.

“I see you’re fighting it, but why?”, Lucius asked him curiously, seated comfortably in his chair and stroking the top of his snake-headed staff.

Once again, Draco didn’t answer. “You came to me Draco, now answer me boy!”, he demanded angrily, causing Draco to startle slightly. He expected a smack over the head from his father’s staff that never came. Everything was different these days.

Suddenly he turned quickly towards his father, balling his fists at his sides. “What happened to Mudbloods and Pure blood superiority? You see her differently too and you know it!”, he shouted at Lucius.

Lucius narrowed his pale, sightless eyes at his son, “Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible. This may surprise you, but your mother quite liked the muggle Maya Angelou...muggle culture in general”, he said with a slight scowl. “She didn’t know I knew that though”, he added with a soft smile as he remembered the wife he loved so dearly even after her passing.

“Don’t act like you knew her better than me. You treated her like dirt under your shoe and suddenly had a change in tone when her eyes grew lifeless in front of eyes”, Draco scoffed.

“You know nothing of my relationship with your Mother. Shut your mouth before you say something you’ll regret”, he said threateningly, rising from his chair. Draco narrowed his eyes at his father, scrunching up his face in disgust, but didn’t say the word.

“Miss Granger...she reminds me of Narcissa very much”, Lucius told him, as if it were an obvious statement. A fact, not an opinion. “She reads as often as your mother did. She’s intelligent beyond words. She has a good heart.”

“Oh, so that’s what this softness towards Hermione is? Dressing her in mother’s clothes and having her read mother’s books to you like some sick recreation? You’re disgusting”, he spat in Lucius’s face.

“I told you”, Lucius said firmly, gripping the staff until his knuckles turned white, “there’s no need for her things to go to waste. I can’t imagine anyone else would appreciate your mother’s things as much as Miss Granger does. Narcissa would be happy to know her possessions are being used by someone worthy of them”, he said, clearing his throat and smoothing his pale blonde hair back.

Draco loved Hermione, but didn’t like the strange similarities that Lucius seemed so observant of. It was uncomfortable. But he was even more uncomfortable that he saw it too. Had for a while now.

“What exactly do you plan to do when the Dark Lord calls for her finally?”, Lucius asked him, as if Draco hadn’t already asked himself this question a million times. Toiled over it mentally for weeks, and even months now.

“What do you mean?”, Draco asked incredulously, as if this was the most ridiculous question he had ever heard.

Lucius scoffed at his son, spinning his rings in circles around his fingers. “Don’t lie, or at least try a bit harder if you insist on it”, he replied snarkily.

“I don’t have a choice and you know it!”, Draco screamed, slamming his fists down on the desk. Lucius didn’t even flinch. As if he saw it coming.

He exhaled heavily, quickly losing patience with his son. “There’s always a choice, we create the boundaries on what we can and cannot do.”

“There are no choices here, father! You think mother had a choice whether to live or die?”, Draco asked hysterically.

“I think she had a choice between her life and her son’s, and she never had a second thought. It wasn’t a question for her when it came to someone she loved”, Lucius told him.

Draco’s eyes began to water furiously and he turned his head away sharply. Embarrassed whether Lucius could see it or not. Ashamed at what Hermione did to him emotionally. Physically. Mentally.

“So what is your choice? Your life, or hers?”, Lucius asked him calmly. “Whatever it is, make the choice you won’t regret.”

Draco stared at his father through his blurred vision. The man before him simply sipped his firewhiskey as if they were discussing a simple quidditch match. He left without another word.

Draco paced the halls of the Manor, filled with worry and turmoil over the situation. He felt like he was losing his mind. Suddenly, Hermione was his world, but deep down he felt that she had slowly come to be that way for months now. Nothing would change that.

Every decision he made moving forward had to be for her now. Whether he made it through alive or not, she had to. No matter what it took. He’d jump in front of a killing curse for her without hesitation. Her life was more important. More pure. She hadn’t executed hundreds of people publicly and liked it. He had, and he was sickened by this fact. He knew it was wrong, but that didn’t change it.

While they needed to learn more about the Sanguis Stigma, that wasn’t at the top of his list. When he was with her, it would be. But other than that, his mission was to find out what Voldemort had planned for her, and to stop it. Even if he had to kill the snake himself. He was barely human, how hard could it be?

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