Chapter 15: I Would Watch You Suffer A Most Excruciatingly Horrifying Death at the Unspeakable, Awesome Evilness Of My Death Glare, But - You Know - Shiny Stuff…
It had been, undoubtedly and undeniably, the worst two weeks of his life ever. Ever! The time when his father had accidentally locked him in his room as punishment and forgotten about him paled in comparison. Besides, his father was a very busy man who could hardly be expected to remember such trivial things. The House-Elf had fed him, and his mother had eventually picked up on what that little thing hovering just on the edge of reasoning was; that small inconsistency and subtle change in her life she hadn’t quite been able to put her finger on, namely her missing son. It wasn’t like he’d been traumatised by the event at all, or that’d he’d created his own invisible friend to keep him company who had at the time, even to his young mind, been annoyingly Hufflepuff about the whole thing. Sometimes though he lamented the birth of that annoying little voice in the back of his mind. It had an unerring tendency to sit on his shoulder and whisper in his ear all the good things he could be doing. There were moments when it took all his concentration to drown it out.
It did, however, look like the next couple of weeks were going to be worse. And only a month or so ago he had been looking forward to Christmas. He was considering finding religion. There had to be one somewhere that forbid the celebration of such a holiday, and once he discovered it he would embrace it whole-heartedly; even any little sub clauses that frowned upon the doing of harm to others and whatnot.
Granger was staring at him too. It seemed to be her newest hobby, and it was really quite disconcerting. Not to mention downright rude. He would have to hire someone to teach her manners before the wedding lest her despicable muggleness led her to act in a way quite unbecoming on the blessed day. He had heard stories of drunkenness combined with public displays of more flesh than was safe for his teenage mind to dwell on for too long without embarrassing consequences. But you really couldn’t expect any sort of class from muggles. He was fairly sure stags and hens also featured rather prominently, although he wasn’t entirely sure how. Of course he didn’t have a problem with a decent sacrifice to ensure wealth and prosperity for years to come, but on the whole the non-magical world seemed to be against the idea of innocent bloodshed. The innocent bloodshed of animals, that is. The majority of them seemed to be bang alongside the innocent bloodshed of fellow muggles. Draco had an inkling that one of the latest rulers, the President or whatever of some country somewhere (geography not being a core Hogwarts subject, coupled with Draco’s unwavering belief that the only places worth knowing were those at which he was in frequent attendance), was in fact an ingenious ploy of the Dark Lord himself. The man was apparently wiping out other muggles faster than Voldemort could rattle off the killing curse.
‘Talking to yourself again?’
‘Actually no,’ Draco snarked without even looking up, glaring sullenly at the floor between her feet. ‘I was conversing with the Devil himself and managing to haggle quite a good price on my soul, thank you very much, since it seems I have been banished to the realms of Hell anyway and cannot sink any lower. He promised me cake.’
‘Well, I wouldn’t hold out for chocolate, I doubt it’s worth that much. Perhaps a plain sponge, if you’re lucky.’ She’d been insulting him a lot recently, as if the wretched bond was his fault. And he’d tried so hard to be the perfect partner, pointing out her flaws and generally prodding her gently in the correct direction to being a better person in spite of her obvious deficiencies. He simply did not know how he was expected to make it through this miserable season without killing her though, or at the very least maiming. Nothing permanent or hideously disfiguring, but perhaps something that twinged uncomfortably on cold nights. It was bloody typical of Dumbledore however, he of the amazing and unrivalled favouritism. It had been established early on in the bond, and he spat the word, that whilst there would be no uncontrollable jumping into each others beds, no reading of minds (although Draco did send the occasional verbose insult in the mudbloods direction just to make sure of that one) and absolutely no influencing of feelings, either completely false of just deeply buried, they would feel uncomfortable out of each others presence if it were for extended periods of time. That little gem had been enough to make Draco feel uncomfortable regardless of Granger’s presence.
Which had led to the whole Christmas issue.
Draco had wanted to go back to the Manor. He had been adamant about it in a non-compromising sort of way. He had, of course, extended a gentlemanly invitation to Granger to join him. It would, at the very least, have shut his father up, who would have considered bonding a positive step forward in the whole marriage issue. Never mind that it had been accidental and was completely unwanted by both parties, Lucius was shrewd enough not to look a gift horse in the mouth. It was the end result that mattered in his mind, not the getting there.
Granger had refused point blank, citing shrilly her unwillingness to set foot in such a despicable place since Lucius Malfoy would probably banish her to the dungeons within seconds, pausing only to summon the Dark Lord so they could both see about making her regret her muggle heritage. Draco was unaware of any dungeons at the Manor, although he made a mental note to check thoroughly when he got a chance…they sounded like fun; but he supposed the kitchens could be classed as such in a pinch and if really desperate. They were certainly below ground level, and could be a bit on the dank and dreary side. The Elves would strop for weeks though should father banish someone into their presence for any length of time. They’d be eating cold food for ages too were that someone as obsessed with House Elf freedom as Granger. As to summoning the Dark Lord? His mother would never have it; he clashed so with the décor.
But Dumbledore had agreed sympathetically with Granger’s worries and comforted her that under no circumstances would she be visiting the horrible, nasty lair of the mean, evil man. And so Draco had resigned himself to a Christmas with the muggles. At least they had seemed to like him.
Then the woman had declared her true intentions; her most horrendous and despicable plan yet. It was probably revenge for Draco’s impromptu lecture on the correct way to handle ones utensils in civilised company, not that he blamed Granger for her ignorance on this matter since she had probably had no reason to believe such knowledge would apply to her up until now. Granger wanted to spend Christmas with the Weasleys.
Apparently outright refusal also only worked for Gryffindors, which was why he was now sitting on his trunk in the entrance hall surrounded by redheads and far too many freckles to be healthy. In any normal situation he and Granger would have been expected to remain in the castle, possibly even supplied with their own rooms so as to provide them with a comfortable place to sort out their differences and realise the secret love they had been harbouring for each other for years. Dumbledore would have pointed out that bonds required two compatible persons in order to work and that it was obviously a sign that they were soul mates or destined lovers. He might even have gone so far as to recite a prophecy or some sort. It would have been complete and utter tripe, but Draco would have played along for the rooms. Sleeping in a dorm was just so plebeian. Instead of this, however, any minute now Dumbledore would arrive with a portkey to transport him to a place that meant he would probably never be welcome at home again since, as his father repeatedly informed him, some dirt simply did not wash off.
Taking advantage of possibly his last moment of civilisation for the next few weeks, Draco dragged out a piece of parchment and a quill and penned a quick note to Snape. As his Head of House and a close, personal family friend he would understand Draco’s dilemma. Also, as resident Potion’s Master, he was solely responsible for creating a antidote for Potter’s latest invention, and Draco would be more than foolish to miss the last opportunity to offer some words of encouragement to the overgrown bat, reminding him of his loyalty to the school, duty to his students and all the nasty things Draco would hate to see happen to him over the holidays should he forget about Draco’s suffering for even a second and indulge in the holiday season.
He signed it just as Dumbledore joined them, smiling and twinkling like someone who had just shared in Trelawney’s secret stash. Draco stood and brushed down his robes, thrusting the letter forwards as the Headmaster took it with a small nod like he wasn’t just about to sentence Draco’s poor, innocent soul to the horrors of poverty. The Weasleys had all gathered round too in a way that felt horribly like hostile invasion. Elbowing the nearest viciously in the ribs he managed to reclaim a little airspace as the portkey was held out and eager fingers reached out to touch it. Snarling, Draco did likewise. Of all the ways to travel portkey was easily the most undignified. After barely a moments thought he shuffled slightly to the side and away from Potter, who was rumoured to fall over a lot as far as portkeys were concerned. He would not start his holiday sprawled indecently under the weight of a clumsy Golden Boy.
There was a tug, a brief moment of existential uncertainty and unnamed dread before they spell deposited them in a cluttered kitchen and Potter promptly fell into the waiting arms of the girl Weasley with an exaggerated swagger and heartfelt moan topped up with the tragically muttered comment of ‘I just don’t like them, they never take me anywhere nice.’ One portkey, Potter, Draco found himself mentally sneering. One portkey that didn’t take you somewhere nice (possibly two, if you counted this one). And whilst admittedly said portkey had delivered him into the waiting hands of the Dark Lord, it really didn’t do to go around basing you’re entire world view on that one experience. Not when there were more important things to worry about, such as the fact that there were more Weasleys in the world than Draco had ever thought feasible, and they all seemed to be cramped into this one small space and talking far too loudly. Saving himself from the possible social faux pas of forgetting a name, Draco quickly numbered them all for future reference and any unavoidable contact that resulted.
‘The house is so full at the moment,’ Mrs Weasley, but please call her Molly continued as Draco resigned himself to actually listening lest anything important come up. She hustled them all forwards and out of the room. ‘I’m afraid you’ll be in with Ginny again Hermione, and Ron and Harry’ll just have to make room for Malfoy. It’s only across the hall, so it should be close enough to hold any negative effects of your little bond at bay.’ Draco was about to correct, most emphatically, not only her reference to the bane of his existence as ‘little bond’, but also her assumption over required closeness. He and Granger quite happily slept at opposite ends of the castle the last few weeks, meeting only at breakfast for a brief conversation or, in most cases, requisite sullen silence that still managed to reassure the bond that its other half hadn’t upped and died in the night. The realisation that the house (and he used the word only because he was fairly sure people would take the term ‘hovel’ as an insult) probably didn’t have wings only just hit him in time as Draco noted the fact that the only other places he could be put were likely worse than the prospect of sharing air with Weaselby and the Boy-Who-Was-Going-To-Snore-Draco-Just-Knew-It.
Nevertheless Draco glared. Whilst admittedly the woman failed to shriek at it’s overwhelming intensity before spontaneously bursting into flames and shrivelling into a small, tiny ball of char-grilled death, she did back up a few steps. It was a start, although it did cause the infernal woman to fall back onto her annoying chatter to fill the following silence. ‘Bill and Fleur are visiting again, and the twins have guests too.’ The way she said the word guest had Draco mentally inserting ‘two of the most despicable, good for nothing, contemptible trollops I have ever had the misfortune to meet’ in its place. He made a note to ask her how she managed it, as he was fairly sure he should be capable of squeezing a number of extra unvoiced yet heavily insinuated insults into the word ‘Potter’. ‘Still, it’s so nice to have the family all here again.’
It really wasn’t good enough, as Draco had been standing here for a good five minutes now and not only was his trunk still at his feet instead of being whisked away and unpacked for him, he had yet to have been thanked in any way for gracing the place with his esteemed presence. ‘I’m bored,’ he announced flatly before the woman could get all wistful and whatnot, thusly forgoing his existence further. ‘And my trunk is not getting any lighter, most probably due to the distinct lack of House Elves. Why mother wouldn’t let me bring one I do not know.’ He did know, but he wasn’t about to mention the fact that all the remaining Malfoy elves had been forbidden from going within ten feet of Potter and his annoying, sock giving habits on pain of, well, painful things. Still, Weasley number six had turned a violent shade of puce as Draco pulled himself up haughtily ‘Do not tax yourself on my account, however, just point me to my room so I can disinfect my humble corner before I catch something. I didn’t have time for all my shots.’
‘Well, aren’t you just a ray of sunshine.’ There was another one of them. Two, actually, the damn twins as Draco tried very hard not to feel surrounded. Ron looked angry beyond words.
‘Perhaps you two had better show young Mr. Malfoy here to his room,’ Molly bundled them all towards the stairs which Draco eyed warily, just waiting for them to spring their death-trapness on him. ‘Or can I call you Draco, dear?’ Draco turned to fix her with another glare that affirmed that yes, she could, although she would be paying for it for years to come in ways she really didn’t look like she could afford. It seemed even less effective than the last though, as the blasted woman just smiled. ‘I’m sure you will get used to all this quickly enough, Draco.’ That was the last straw. He had been holding the real, gut-clenching hatred from his look up till now, but the woman had really earned the full force of his silent wrath. ‘Dinner will be ready in an hour.’ The glare having deserted him Draco feigned interest in the many pretty, shiny, rapturously interesting, no-I-didn’t-hear-a-word-you-said-were-you-speaking-to-me objects that lined the wall so as not to lose face before trailing dejectedly up the stairs.
As if any of it were Draco’s choice Ron snarled as he approached and threw open the door to the room, sending it crashing against the wall. Draco tried not to choke on the tidal wave of orange that immediately hit him. It was a reflex he regretted, since death by atrocious taste was probably the least painful of all the options going. Sneering with maximum distaste he entered the room carefully, making a show of not touching any surface he hadn’t had an opportunity to yet scourgify. If only he could have scrubbed out his eyes too, as it really shouldn’t have been allowed. It didn’t matter where the Weasley stood, he clashed with something everywhere. It made Draco’s eyes water.
‘Hey guys I see you…’
…finally got settled.’ Turning away from the colour scheme from hell Draco groaned as the twins entered. Perhaps if he bashed his head hard enough against the wall it would all go away.
‘I’m getting a headache,’ he said to the room in general.
‘Aw, poor ickle Malfoy…’
‘…forced to slum it with…’
‘…the rest of us commoners.’ Draco looked blearily between the two of them and imagined their hair was on fire, their bones filled with hot lead and that beetles were munching their way happily through their hearts.
‘We just came to…’
‘…see if you fancied…’
‘…a game of Quidditch.’
‘Do you have to do that?’ Draco snapped.
‘…what?’ the twins grinned.
‘Finish each other’s sentences? Or did you really only get half a brain each.’ It wasn’t his best comeback ever, but given that his vision was filled with orange spots and his head filled with images of orange elephants eating orange grass in a world gone orange, he didn’t think it was too bad. Draco did have the inexplicable urge to look out a window though and verify that other colours did, in fact, still exist.
‘It’s all part of our…’
‘…innate twinness and the…’
‘….special magical link…’
‘…that binds us.’
There was really only one possibly comment Draco could make. ‘Huh?’
‘Magical twins have this…’
‘…connection to each other…’
‘…that goes beyond the realms of…’
Apparently magic had a lot to answer for. ‘What about the Patil girls?’ Draco questioned. ‘I don’t see them pushing the boundaries of the communication into the absurd.’
‘Girls,’ the both chorused together with a shrug as though they had put their finger on the crux behind every problem known to mankind.
‘Right,’ Draco said carefully. ‘Because they’re the anomaly.’ Turning away he looked for somewhere to unpack. Living from ones trunk was just so uncouth. That and, once ignored, the magical bond joining the twins in a way indefinable but completing, as though they were two parts of the same soul, incapable of living without the other, seemed to dissipate somewhat. It was almost mystical.
‘Why are you hiding up here then?’ He of the vile orangeness commented.
‘Well, mum isn’t too happy,’ Fred said slyly. ‘Seems we’re increasing the size of the family a little to early for her tastes.’ Oh joy, more Weasleys. Just what the world needed.
‘Oh Fred, you’re not!’ Granger shrieked happily, jumping forwards to give him a hug. Draco refrained from reaching out and pulling her back. Given the size of the family he wouldn’t be surprised if they had discovered a way to impregnate by touch alone. It was the only suitable reasoning he could think to explain how they managed to father so many despite their obvious physical shortcomings, and he refused to be bonded to the future mother of a Weasley. Technically didn’t that make him an Uncle or something?
Fred pulled out of the embrace as Draco cast him a quick glance checking for any and all signs of foul play as the duplicated one grinned mischievously before continuing. ‘Twins.’
‘Twins?’ Draco couldn’t help but question incredulously before anyone else could speak. ‘Let me guess, it’s another side effect of this special, magical connection of yours.’
‘Yep, George too.’ Bloody hell, couldn’t they do anything separately? Draco felt a brief moment of pity for the poor girls, who would no doubt wind up sharing a house since their husbands were apparently joined at the ruddy hip themselves. There were probably some deeper problems to it though, he considered, beyond the mental anguish of being a Weasley. Co-dependence was a nasty thing. ‘Both expected in March.’ What, they couldn’t even conceive a child without the other there to hold their hand? Draco privately ewed to himself over the thought, before attempting to hurl it in Grangers direction.
‘Well, he says both expected in March,’ George corrected. ‘But it’s only the girl we expect then. Should be having the boys sometime late April.’ Draco frowned in confusion. He didn’t think he’d missed anything, but then again his own thoughts were vastly more interesting than any conversation not involving him, Potter and the proper application of the Killing Curse could possibly be, so perhaps he had. Not wanting to seem interested he donned his most scornful of looks.
‘Which one of you is having the girls then?’ If he was lucky this tiny streak of independence being shown would destroy the twin-bond thing completely, hopefully with the nasty side-effect of death.
‘Both of us,’ George looked as though he were merely humouring Malfoy’s ignorance as he spoke. ‘Girl and a boy each.’ Draco replayed the conversation quickly in his head, searching frantically for the pit where it had all fallen apart. ‘Lucky, I suppose, since neither of us could decide which we wanted. Pomfrey was going nuts, as you know the potions to change gender only work in the first trimester. But this way works out perfectly.’ Potion? Trimester? Draco had never heard of such a ridiculous notion. Changing a babies gender to suit? It was impossible. It was ridiculous. It was downright wrong, but then again you could always rely on the Weasley family to shun the pureblood traditions of old. It was certain that no wife of his would ever undergo such a barbaric act against the course of nature though. No, his first born would be a son and heir the good old fashioned way, and any pre-emptive daughters would be fed to the wolves as the generations before had done. Only the best wolves of course, because she would still be a Malfoy and Malfoy’s deserved the best, but wolves nonetheless.
‘It could be worse though,’ Fred said conspiratorially. Draco almost dreaded what was coming. ‘Fleur is having quintets.’ Right, this was just too damn much. The Weasleys would have conquered the Earth through nothing more difficult than excessive procreation in a matter of generations. ‘She freaked out when she heard though.’ And who damn well wouldn’t?
‘She did?’ The Weaslette looked pleased about the whole issue. Petty malice looked quite good on her too.
‘Yeah,’ Fred dropped his voice to a whisper that had everyone including Draco, to his utmost horror, leaning closer to hear. ‘Picked up and left, just ran away in the night. Left everything….clothes, make-up. Hell, she even abandoned the children.’
‘They all ready have more kids?’ Draco couldn’t help but ask. It was starting to sound like Weasleys were everywhere. It was the stuff nightmares were made of. He felt a sudden compulsion to warn Snape too so the man could quit in time.
‘No, she’s expecting. Haven’t you been listening?’ Draco decided he must have missed something else fundamental. ‘Came back though when she realised she couldn’t live without Bill.’
‘Nor her unborn children without their mother,’ Draco added, feeling that someone needed to stand up for the hard and fast rules of basic biology. Magic could only compensate for so much. Still it was heart-warming to see Granger looking at Weasley number six with something approaching apprehension. The love of her life wasn’t looking so attractive now, huh. Personally Draco would be content with a single heir, but it seemed she had cottoned onto the fact that the Weasley family didn’t breed so much to pass on the family name as they did to create red-headed armies. Granger didn’t really look like the large family type either. Not when she couldn’t escape.
Score one to Malfoy. Now he only needed to make up the other couple of hundred points that were, for some odd reason, seemingly stacked in the red heads favour.
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