A/N: Okay, this is going to be a little different from my other fics. I'm aiming for a more adult kind of story. The characters, just to give you some background, are in their late twenties. This fic has been written for CelticKisses' Motive Challenge, and deals primarily with the issues of trust, consequence, action and reaction. What I'm trying for here is a bit of an examination of what makes people do the things they do. It is a long story, so things may not make alot of sense in the beginning, but it will all be answered by the end. Keep that in mind when you read - it will make it easier on you :) This fic is loosely based on the Australian film Lantana.. I own none of the characters you recognise.
In any case, I hope you enjoy it. As i have mentioned, it is set a long time after school, so characters may seem well and truly OOC and away from canon, but people change. So, enjoy!!
A Web of One's Own Making
Shuffling the last of the papers irritably, Draco Malfoy pushed his blonde fringe from his forehead, sending a mental reminder to himself that it needed cutting again. He glanced at the clock on the wall. In the dim light from the lamp at his elbow, he could see it was close on midnight. He let the stack of papers fall from his hand, watching with disinterest as they tumbled haphazardly across the polished surface of his desk. He had shuffled and reshuffled those papers constantly over the last hour and could not remember if they were important or not. Draco glanced at the clock again, watching the minute hand shift closer to the twelve. A small smile played on the corners of his lips as he watched time tick by. He really should be getting home, and he had already missed dinner but he knew it would be waiting and warm for him when he did finally go home. He let his eyes rove around his office to distract himself from the time.
Draco had a large office, located on Level Two at the Ministry for Magic. Shelves crammed with books on every topic conceivable lined one wall, reaching from the deep green-carpeted floor to the gleaming white ceiling. There were even a few texts from his own collection in there – tomes on Dark Magic he had inherited from his father. Draco's desk sat in the centre of the room, one corner piled high with papers he still needed to file, a large window behind his chair. Magical Maintenance had decided it was going to rain for two weeks straight, and the constant drizzle outside the window was starting to send him mad with cabin fever. Draco reached forward and picked up a small, framed photograph of himself with his arm around a dark-haired woman with blue eyes and a wide smile. His photographic self was smiling, although his eyes held a bored expression. Sighing, he set the picture back in its place. He did not like it, and the only reason it was on his desk in the first place was because that is what people expected you to do with pictures of loved ones. Draco risked another quick glance at the clock, his eyes falling sharply from the clean, white clock face to the closed door of his office. A frown crossed his face briefly before he shrugged, climbing gracefully to his feet and swinging his discarded robes from the back of his chair to his shoulders, letting them drop gently down the length of his body.
Draco paused in the darkened hall, locking his door securely, the light from the tip of his wand illuminating the stencilled words on the glass panel of the closed door. Draco Malfoy: Head, Department of Magical Law Enforcement Squad. The gold lettering glimmered in the blue-tinged light and Draco could not help a smile crawl across his face at his name and title staring back at him. He had a good job, one that he enjoyed immensely, and one that he was proud of. It was not considered as glamorous as being an Auror, but Draco enjoyed the thrill of the chase and being a Hitwizard provided him that small pleasure. Besides, he thought with a mocking grin, he liked getting right into it, getting his hands dirty. Manhandling criminals was a sure fire way to make yourself feel powerful. Footsteps sounded down the hall and he glanced up sharply, watching a slim figure with swaying hips approach quickly. He turned, folding his arms and leant casually against the wall as she came nearer, her long hair catching glints of reflected light. Their eyes met and he saw her lips curl into an inviting smile and he felt himself begin to smile in return. As she walked, she slowly unfastened her robes, letting them swing open, revealing her figure-hugging black work dress beneath. Without breaking eye contact, she slid her hand down her body slowly, enticing and alluring and he could not help but follow the motion of her slender hand with his eyes, drinking her in.
"You're late," he stated when she reached him, pausing a hand span from his chest, her body so close to his it left him screaming inside, his blood on fire and his senses filled with the scent of her hair. She shrugged delicately, reaching up to run a manicured nail down the side of his face, tracing the strong line of his cheek and jaw.
"I had work to do, but I'm here now," she purred, the sound of her husky, throaty voice making his fingers twitch. Draco took a deep breath, closing his eyes slightly as her fingers moved into his hair. "You need a hair cut," she commented, laughter in her voice. His eyes flew open and he reached up, snatching her hand away from him, pulling her body closer in the process.
"You sound like my mother," he growled, restraining himself from throwing her against the wall and kissing her. A spasm of emotion crossed her face and she shrugged, her spare hand sliding down his chest until it rested on the flat of his abdomen, just above his belt. He bit his lip as her fingers slipped under the edge of his suit pants, the heat from her skin burning him through his clothes.
"Come home with me," she whispered, her fingers massaging gently, driving him insane with want and need. He nodded swiftly and she smiled up at him, removing her hand from his body. "Give me five minutes before you floo in," she added and he nodded again, closing his eyes. She was gone in a cloud of perfume and lust, her footsteps echoing down the darkened halls, the sound growing fainter and fainter until he could no longer hear her swift movement. Draco let his body fall against the wall, his heart beating unusually fast. She had not asked him to her home for weeks, and he wondered why she did so now. Usually, it was a motel room, the desk in his office, or the large comfortable couch in hers. Draco closed his eyes and counted to ten, before starting the slow walk through the dark halls to the lifts. Stepping inside one, Draco straightened his clothes, brushing his robes free of lint, waiting with growing impatience for the lift to reach Level Eight of the building.
The Atrium was empty, save for the Guard Wizard seated at the security stand. Draco passed through the golden gates quickly, nodding curtly in greeting. The Guard Wizard threw Draco a wave and a nod, followed by a mumbled, "see you tomorrow, Mister Malfoy." His footsteps echoed off the dark polished floor as Draco walked swiftly along the right-hand side of the hall, passing the Fountain of Magical Brethren, scowling at the golden statues as he passed. Draco thought it was a hideous choice in interior décor, and although he understood the symbolism behind the piece, it did not stop it being horrible to look at. He chose a fireplace down the furthest end of the Atrium, away from the sharp ears of the Guard Wizard. He snatched up a handful of floo powder, stating his lover's address in a stage whisper and preying he would end up where he was meant to, before stepping into the green flames in the grate.
Within minutes, he was standing in a well-kept and organised lounge room. The lights were dimmed and the heavy curtains drawn, casting the room in a warm orange darkness. Draco looked around the room, taking everything in. Nothing had changed since the last time he had been there. The same photographs littered the mantle, and he scowled at the faces of his past, and at the faces of people he did not recognise. He was on edge and jumpy, his eyes constantly checking the time. Being in her house was a reminder that what he was doing was not right. A motel room was impersonal; it was a room, nothing more, that they could both leave. It represented nothing but a quick snatch of time from their lives. Here, though, he was confronted bluntly with the fact that she had a life outside of work and their affair. She had interests, friends, and family, and seeing in the interior of her house again made it all far too real, and for a moment he considered slipping out the back door and going home. Shaking the dust from his robes, Draco walked slowly around the room, his fingers trailing delicately over the soft fabric of the couch, the rows of neatly stacked books in a mahogany case, and the polished surface of a small ornate cabinet in the corner. He bent down, examining the contents inside, protected from dust by thick glass panels; a Hogwarts Head Girl's badge gleamed at him from its place against a dark velvet cushion, beside it sat a Prefect's Badge.
Draco smiled, slowly straightening up. A door opened gently and he turned, his eyes flying across the room to where she stood in the doorway, bathed in the bright glow from the kitchen. She held a drink in each hand, the amber liquid dark with shadows. Smiling, she beckoned him towards the couch and he went, feeling somewhat confused. This was not the way it usually happened, and she was acting like they had all the time in the world. Draco let his body fall onto the couch, sinking back against the cushions as she took a seat beside him, his body practically itching he was so tense. She had shed her robes and shoes, her slender body seeming even smaller in the midnight coloured dress. She handed him a drink, and he watched as she tucked her legs up underneath her body, cat-like and graceful, twisting to face him on the couch, her own glass grasped firmly in her fingers. Her eyes sparkled with familiar desire, and without taking his eyes from her face, Draco downed his drink in one gulp, setting his glass aside quickly. She sat still as he took her glass from her hand and placed it on the coffee table, her eyes following his movements, an amused smile on her face.
"Why the hurry?" she asked him playfully, running her fingers along his collarbone. He glanced at her, his eyebrows raised, as he worked his belt loose, kicking his shoes from his feet at the same time. She rolled her eyes skywards, her fingers moving to his cheek, walking casually over his skin. Draco shook her off, irritated, her touch so tender it was almost painful.
"I don't have all night," he barked, hearing her sigh in response. She reached for her glass, taking a long, painfully slow sip, her eyes returning to his face.
"No, I don't suppose you do. Haven't you ever heard of foreplay, Draco? Just once, I'd like it if you could stay with me a little longer," she replied, her light tone only just managing to hide her annoyance. She turned around on the couch and lifted her hair so he could unzip the back of her dress. Draco fingers trembled as he reached for her, exposing the smooth, creamy skin of her back to his eyes. He leant forward and placed a warm kiss on the back of her slender neck, feeling her shiver in response.
"You would, would you?" he murmured in answer to her statement. She shrugged and let her curtain of hair drop as he lifted the dress from her skin and slid the straps down her shoulders, watching with a smile as she lifted her arms free. She reached behind and unclipped her bra with one hand, her slim fingers snapping the clasp open expertly. She turned back to face him, her long waves of hair covering her chest and shoulders, a quizzical look in her eyes.
"Wouldn't you?" she asked, beginning to slowly undo the buttons on his shirt.
"Sometimes," Draco replied as she worked the last button free, pushing the shirt from his shoulders. She sighed and ran her hands down the length of his chest, her fingers dipping into every curve and line of his muscle. He leant forward and grabbed her in his arms, pulling her close and planting a string of eager, wet kisses on her neck. She melted against him, and he held her tightly as he climbed to his feet, drawing her body with his. Grinning at her wickedly, Draco lifted her up against him, swinging her legs in the air, eliciting a girlish giggle from her mouth. He paused, his eyes sliding left to right and back to her face when her giggles became louder.
"The bedroom's that way, remember?" she laughed and pointed. He growled and squeezed her tightly, pressing their lips together, walking blind in the direction her hand was raised in, need, guilt and desire raging strongly in his blood, making him feel dizzy.
Draco woke with a groan, his head pounding. He rolled over slowly, flinging his arm out, encountering nothing but the cool, crisp linen of the expensive sheets. He opened his eyes and as the clean, white walls and familiar furniture of his own bedroom swam into focus, he let out a sigh of relief. He had fallen asleep in his lover's bed after she wore him out, his eyes snapping open in alarm just before dawn. He had shaken her awake angrily, pulling on his clothes and yelling at her for letting him fall asleep. She had mumbled a sleepy apology, sounding like she didn't mean it at all, which irritated him. Without a word of goodbye, he'd apparated home, sliding into his own bed as quietly as possible, preying desperately he would not wake the sleeping woman curled under the blankets. His wife had rolled in her sleep, turning into him and sliding her arm around his waist, and all he could think was that he had not had a shower. Draco wondered whether she had ever smelt the scent of another woman in his hair, on his clothes or his skin. If she had, she had said nothing.
Pushing the bedclothes off his body and sitting up, Draco rubbed at his face irritably, feeling new growth littering his chin, scratching the tips of his fingers. Sighing, he stood and stretched, catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror. His blonde hair was ruffled and his face drawn and tired, his complexion paler than usual from lack of sleep. He had bags under his eyes and he scowled at himself, stripping off his clothes quickly, intending on showering before his wife came to wake him for breakfast. Naked, he turned from the mirror, reaching for his bathrobe. His eyes flew back to his reflection in shock, and he twisted his body, his scowl increasing. Three long red gashes marred the skin on his back, running from his shoulder blade to his hip. Draco cursed explosively, pulling the robe around his body quickly.
"Little witch," he snarled in a whisper, thinking of his mistress and the smug smirk she'd be wearing right about now. Fingernails were not allowed, neither were love bites nor marks of any kind. Despite his annoyance, Draco began to smile, letting the memory of what educed his sharp red wounds fill his mind. The bedroom door opened suddenly and he jumped, lifting his face, hurriedly pushing the satisfied smirk from his lips. He repressed a sigh and a roll of his eyes. She was wearing the blue dress today, the one she claimed brought out the colour in her eyes. The one she had forced him to buy for her in Venice while on holiday last year. The one that spoke of plans, and he had a sudden recollection they were supposed to do something important today.
"Good morning, darling," she cooed, crossing the room and planting a kiss on his cheek. Draco smiled automatically and cupped her face, his thumb tracing the curve of her soft cheek. Her dark hair was piled on her head, twisted up in an intricate little knot, a few loose strands floating around her face. She was wearing the faintest touches of make-up; a little colour on her cheeks and lips, her eyelashes darkened with mascara and her eyelids the weakest blue.
"You need to hurry, Draco. Your mother has already been to collect the children, and we are supposed to be there within the hour," she admonished gently, moving to open the wardrobe. He folded his arms as she began pulling clothes from the hangers, scrutinising piece after piece and shaking her head.
"Pansy," he began with a sigh, "where are we going?"
She answered him without turning around, her voice slightly muffled, her head buried in the closet. "Lunch, remember? I told you the other day, and I sent a letter to your office yesterday to remind you to double-check the booking," she said, turning her head to look at him over her shoulder, her face falling slightly. "I take it you did not check the booking?"
"No," Draco replied, "I didn't. And I didn't get any letter, and I have no idea what you are talking about, Pansy. What lunch? With who? If this is one of your silly little charity meetings where the only thing people are interested in is my money, then I'm not going," he snapped, stalking towards the en-suite. Her voice floated to his ears, tight and filled with traces of hurt at his tone.
"Ronald and Hermione, remember? I organised lunch with them a week ago."
"Weasel and Granger? Are you bloody mad woman?" Draco almost shouted, striding back into the room to flop on the edge of the bed, his robe pulled tight around his lean body. Pansy looked at him, disappointment in her eyes.
"I know you have not warmed to the idea that Hermione and I are friends, Draco, but I thought it might be nice to catch up with her. She has been so busy lately, and we have not a chance to chat in weeks," Pansy stated simply, laying a pair of Draco's best black pants on the bed. He sighed, pulling at his hair.
"Alright, but why is Weasel coming then? Don't tell me you're friends with him too now? Next, you'll be telling me you've invited Potter and his brats to dinner."
Pansy put her hands on her hips, ignoring his last comment. "The last time I spoke to her, she was a bit down. As Hermione's friend, I feel like I need to..."
"Pansy," Draco let his head drop into his hands wearily. "Granger dumped him for a reason. Unless you want her to kill him in a crowded restaurant, I'd suggest you call the redheaded twit and cancel. Don't play matchmaker, Panse. Just don't get involved, alright?"
"It's all arranged, Draco. All those two need is time to sit down and talk about their problems. I'm sure that if they can only listen to one another things will be alright between them," Pansy replied shrilly. Draco raised his head, looking at her in disbelief. Her blue eyes shone with emotion, and he repressed a sigh, knowing her words referred to more than one relationship.
"They broke up months ago. She doesn't want to see him," he stated.
"How do you know what Hermione wants?"
"I work with the annoying woman, remember? For some reason, she finds it necessary to tell me every detail of her life. She did tell me, just recently, that she wants a divorce and she never wants to see Weasley again," Draco replied, standing up and wandering back towards the bathroom. "Too many things to sort out, was what she said. Plus, she also said she doesn't love him anymore, so I'd say that's a fair indication that she's over it. You're wasting your time with this."
"If you say so, but I'm still going to lunch with them, and I'd like you to be there. You are still going to come with me?" Pansy asked in a small voice, trailing him into the bathroom. Draco met her eyes in the mirror and nodded.
"Of course, darling. I wouldn't miss it. But you are responsible for disposing of Weasleys' corpse when Granger murders him. Now get out, I want to have a shower," Draco replied, watching his wife nod her head sadly and drift from the room. He shut the door firmly behind her, locking it, before turning back to the mirror and removing his bathrobe. He twisted his body and examined the nasty red welts running down his skin, his face caught between a guilty frown and a smirk.
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