Word Count: ~14,000
Warnings: Language, copious drinking
Summary: The sentence, for all it was not the outcome Draco would have preferred, was hardly something he could complain about.
Author's Notes: This was both really fun and really difficult to write, but I'm pretty pleased with it over all. I tried to fit as many of the things you wanted to see in here as I could and still have it work, and I think I managed! I hope you like it. Thanks to S for her beta job, and thanks to the mods for running this. (Also, the scotch Draco drinks in this is real, and can be found on the list of some of the most expensive scotch in the world. I thought it was fitting.)
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
The sentence, for all it was not the outcome Draco would have preferred, was hardly something he could complain about. After seeing his father being led away in chains, watching his stooped and broken posture and the way that he wouldn't even look at Draco or Narcissa as they took him out of the courtroom, Draco realized that a year on house arrest was nothing. It was a blessing, actually, almost a gift, and no matter how much he balked at being made to stay in the manor for a year with nothing to do but stare at the walls and loathe the old pile of bricks, it was far better than rotting away in Azkaban with his thoughts and the remnants of the Dementor's misery.
Of course, Draco knew that he had gotten off easy. The outraged faces of some of the witches and wizards present for his trial proved that, but in the midst of all the disapproving chatter and snide glances stood Harry Potter, looking firm, resolved, and utterly exhausted.
Draco had no idea why Potter had stepped forward and testified that Draco 'wasn't evil, just a bit of a prat with a shit upbringing', but it was assuredly that testimony that had resulted in Draco not being sent off. No matter how much the public or the Wizengamot hated him (and Draco knew that it had to be quite a bit), no one was willing to tell the newly minted Savior of the World that he couldn't have what he wanted.
And so Draco was free.
Free-ish. He wasn't in a cell or in chains, and the only thing that tethered him where he was was the thin silvery bracelet that had been charmed onto his left wrist. It practically molded to his skin, and it was colder than his body temperature, and no amount of natural body heat seemed to want to warm it up. A constant reminder, then. He knew that it would start to heat up the further he got from the manor, and if he tried to leave the grounds at all, it would take him directly to the Ministry where they would likely decide that Harry Potter would just have to deal with it, and throw him in jail. But Draco never went outside anyway, so there was no danger of that.
For the most part, he could do whatever he wanted. The only rule, other than not leaving the grounds, was no Dark magic. There was a monitoring charm on his wand that would track all of the magic that he did, and he had been informed that a Ministry employee would be assigned to his case to check up on him. They made it sound like it was for his benefit, but Draco didn't believe that for a moment. They just wanted to make sure that he wasn't holed up and planning to become the next Dark Lord or some such thing. The more practical side of Draco had to admit that that was smart of them, as he was the only Marked Death Eater who hadn't come out of the war with a death sentence, life in prison, or a price on his head. But the side of him that hated being confined to one place and was livid at this treatment thought the whole thing was rather stupid.
The longer he spent alone in the manor, the more that side took over. It was August, and the air was close and hot, making him feel even more stifled than he already did.
It wouldn't have been so bad if his mother had been there, but she had only been under suspicion of Death Eater activities. When it came down to it, Narcissa Malfoy had never been Marked, and she had never taken part in any tortures or murders, so they'd had no choice but to let her go. And go she had. All Draco knew was that she planned to start over and that when his sentence was over she wanted him to join her in France. He had essentially been abandoned.
He hid how much that hurt under a layer of anger.
Now, he was sitting in his parlor in the west wing of the manor, glaring at the cup of tea that the lone house elf had brought him. Most of them had been dismissed during the war, but Mippy had remained, wanting to stay with the family. Mippy wasn't a young elf, even though Draco had no idea how long elves lived, but she had been with the family since he was a child.
"Is Master Draco wanting anything else?" she asked in her squeaky voice, long fingers twisting in the pillow case dress that she wore.
"Nothing that you can bring me, Mippy," Draco muttered, sinking down further in the dusty chair. The manor was a mess; that was the other thing. When Voldemort had commandeered it, he hadn't cared much for its upkeep. It was dank and dark and there was dust, grime, and broken furniture everywhere. It was no wonder his mother hadn't stayed. Hell, Draco was half convinced that he was going to stumble upon a dead body in one of the rooms, so he kept himself to his parlor and bedroom.
"Master Draco is getting very thin," Mippy tried again. "Mippy could bring cake?"
Draco sighed and raked a hand through his hair. It had only been five days so far, and already he felt like he was going mad. "No, Mippy," he said. "No cake. I just...I need to sleep. Or something."
Mippy nodded. "Mippy will draw Master Draco a bath." She bowed and popped away before Draco could protest, and he realized as he stared at the spot where she had been that he didn't care. Normally, he would have demanded a bath ages ago since he was no doubt streaked with dust from the house, but he just didn't care. What was the point of having an immaculate appearance when there was no one to see it? When he lived in a broken down old ruin of a house with no one but an elf for company? There was no point, clearly.
"A man could go mad here," he muttered under his breath, levering himself to his feet and heading for his bedroom and its en suite bathroom. Only three hundred and sixty days to go.
"I'm the what?!"
"Harry, there's no need to shout."
Harry frowned and folded his arms. He was of the opinion that there was every need to shout. "Say it again, Kingsley. And in English this time. None of that Ministry speak."
The dark skinned man laughed and shook his head. "You're the Appointed Official for the Malfoy case, Harry. It's what it sounds like. You've got to go make sure he's alive and not trying to overthrow the government."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Malfoy couldn't overthrow a rubbish bin. Why me?"
"Do you want the honest answer or the one I'm supposed to give you?"
Harry rather thought his glare answered that question.
"I figured. For one thing, no one else wants it." Kingsley held up a hand to stop the protest that Harry was barely avoiding shouting at him. "I know. You don't want it, either. But the fact of the matter is I trust you not to...take advantage of the situation. You know there are plenty of Aurors who wouldn't hesitate to make this worse for Mr. Malfoy."
And yeah, Harry had to admit that was true. "I'm not even an Auror, Kingsley. Not really."
"Not yet," Kingsley replied. "But you're as good as. You're on the Ministry payroll for the DMLE, and that's all you need to be considered for this position."
"Brilliant," Harry groaned, raking a hand through his already messy hair. It wasn't fair. He had done his part, done the right thing and kept Malfoy and his mother out of Azkaban. He would have been perfectly happy to have washed his hands of the whole family after that, but apparently it wasn't to be. "What do I have to do, then?"
Kingsley looked relieved that Harry wasn't going to argue. "It's actually very simple, and there's a checklist to make sure that you don't miss anything. We'll teach you the spell to check for Dark magic and artifacts, and you'll cast that just to be sure that he's not out there plotting. You'll need to check the charm on his bracelet as well and try to determine his mental condition."
"I have to play therapist with Malfoy?" Harry asked, sounding horrified.
"No, no, nothing like that. Just ask him questions and the like. We just want to make sure that he isn't going mad or anything. Being alone in there is probably not the easiest thing, and if necessary we can have him moved to St Mungo's. Especially if he seems like he's going to be a threat to himself or others."
Harry nodded and sighed. He hadn't really thought about how it would affect Malfoy to be essentially trapped in his house for a year, and he had to shudder now that he did. "Yeah, okay," he said, sounding resigned. "How often do I have to go over there?"
"Once a week."
"Once a bloody week?"
Kingsley sighed and rubbed at his temples. "Yes, Harry."
"Once a week for a year?"
"It won't be all that bad, Harry," Kingsley promised, though how he could sound so sure, Harry didn't know.
"You'll be there for about an hour, and that's it. You run the checklist and then you can leave."
Harry sighed heavily and nodded. "Yeah, alright. When's the first check?"
"Sometime in the next two days."
Harry was supremely proud of himself for not shouting more than he did.
Malfoy Manor was the same dark, desolate looking place that it had been the last time Harry had set foot there. The grounds were grown over, and there were burnt patches in the grass, probably from spells gone awry. The gates swung open at his touch, and Harry knew that the Ministry had sent curse breakers and Aurors all through the place to have them dismantle any Dark spells and remove any Dark objects right at the war's end. They had also seized a sizable portion of the Malfoy fortune and called it 'War Reparations' or something fancy like that to make it sound like the family was being soundly punished.
It was the height of summer now, and the air was thick with heat. Though it was uncharacteristically sunny for the location, there seemed to be a permanent gloom over this place. As he walked up the path to the house, Harry shuddered again. He didn't envy Malfoy being trapped here.
When he got to the ornately carved front doors, he hesitated and then stretched his hand out to touch one of the golden knockers, but before his fingers could make contact, the doors were opening in front of him. An elf dressed in what looked like a pillow case stood there, and she bowed low. "Harry Potter," she addressed him in her squeaky voice.
"Er...hi," Harry said. "Is Malfoy home?"
The flash of disbelief that went through the elf's large blue eyes made Harry wince with the stupidity of that question and wish he could go back a few seconds and not ask it, but it was too late for that. "What I mean is, can I see him?"
Now the elf just looked suspicious. "Master Draco is not expecting visitors, Harry Potter."
"I know. And I probably should have owled first. I'm here from the Ministry." Yes, that would have been a much better plan than just showing up.
That appeared to have been the right thing to say because those eyes widened, and the elf stepped back. "Wait," she said, letting him into the entrance way. "Mippy will fetch Master Draco." She popped off with a loud crack, leaving Harry standing there. He closed the doors behind him and looked around, blinking at the disrepair. He could see shards of broken porcelain and dust on the floor, and there were torn drapes and grimy sconces near the windows. It didn't look like a place that Draco Malfoy would live, but he supposed that a lot had happened here and cleanliness hadn't been anyone's first priority.
From somewhere upstairs there was a loud oath and the sound of several things breaking. He could just barely make out the squeaky tones of the elf and the slam of a door before footsteps sounded on the stairs and Malfoy was coming down.
He didn't look at all like the Malfoy Harry remembered from school. Gone was the carefully slicked back hair and the superior tilt to his head, replaced with a weary almost slouch and white blond hair that fell into Malfoy's eyes and over the collar of the grey shirt he was wearing. The sleeves were rolled up, and Harry could make out the dark lines of the Mark and the silver bracelet on his wrist as Malfoy drew closer.
"What are you doing here?" he demanded when he was standing in front of Harry. "Come to gloat? Take pictures to share with the rest of your merry band of do-gooding imbeciles?"
Ah. At least he was still a prick, then. Harry felt more on balance. "You know, you'd think you could find it in you to be a little bit grateful at least," Harry said. "Since you'd be wasting away in a cell if it weren't for me."
Malfoy glared, but Harry noticed there wasn't much anger in those pale eyes. "A prison is a prison, Potter," he snapped. "Now what are you doing here? Mippy said you came from the Ministry."
"That's right," Harry replied. The best thing to do was get down to business. "I've been assigned to be your...er..." he made a face and looked down at the sheaf of parchments in his hands. "Appointed Official."
Judging from the look on Malfoy's face when Harry glanced back up, he knew what that meant. "Why would they give the job to you of all people?" Malfoy muttered.
Harry shrugged. "They thought I was the least likely to want to pound your face in, I think."
Malfoy was silent for long seconds, seemingly absorbing that. Then he sighed and shook his head. "Fine. What am I supposed to do?"
"Er...nothing, really. Just...I have to cast a spell that searches for Dark stuff, and check the charm on your bracelet. And...er...see how you're doing."
"Then get on with it, Potter," Malfoy snapped. "I've things to do."
Harry looked around again and then back at Malfoy. "Right. Of course." He ignored the death glare that Malfoy was shooting him and pulled out his wand, casting the spell that Kingsley had taught him. A ball of light shot out of his wand and began to whiz around, clearly on the hunt for Dark magic.
"You had better hope that doesn't damage anything, Potter. I'm sure your salary as Ministry puppet pays well, but you can't afford to replace anything here."
"You know what would make this go faster, Malfoy?" Harry asked through gritted teeth. "If you managed to shut up."
Malfoy sneered. "This is my house, Potter. I'll say whatever I bloody well want to."
Harry clenched his hands into fists and tried to find some of that maturity that the papers were always saying he had. "Whatever. Let me see the bracelet." He held his hand out expectantly without looking at Malfoy at first, but then his eyes went up to his face when Malfoy seemed to hesitate. "I have to check the charm, Malfoy. Let me see it."
With a put upon sigh, Malfoy lifted up his sleeve and placed his wrist in Harry's hand. Merlin, but Malfoy was pale. His veins stood out starkly in the nearly translucent skin, running between the silver bracelet on his wrist and the beginning of the Dark Mark. Harry had seen the Mark before, of course, both on the forearms of Death Eaters and floating in the sky over homes and Hogwarts, but it was strange being so close to it. The lines seemed harsher than usual, branded into Malfoy's milky skin, and Harry had to work to tear his eyes away and focus on the bracelet. It was a simple thing, silver and carved with runes that were designed to keep Malfoy tied to the Manor. He murmured the incantation that Kingsley had told him to, and nodded when the bracelet glowed brightly for a moment and then dulled.
"Finished?" Malfoy asked, and there was a curious tremor to his voice.
"Yeah," Harry replied, and Malfoy jerked his arm back, rolling his sleeve down quickly. They stood there in awkward silence after that, Harry unsure what to say, and Malfoy seeming disinclined to say anything at all. He had the fingers of his right hand wrapped around his left forearm, and he was staring at a patch of scuffed wood on the floor. Harry fidgeted, wishing that damned spell would hurry up. There was a suggested list of questions on his checklist, so he figured he might as well ask them. "Er...how are you adjusting?"
Malfoy looked up. "Excuse me?"
"It's one of the...just...how are you adjusting?"
"Adjusting to what? Being a prisoner in my own home? My parents being as good as dead for all they can help me? The fact that this place is a mess and full of terrible memories? Please, Potter, enlighten me as to what I am supposed to be adjusting to."
Harry sighed and raked a hand through his hair. "I don't know, Malfoy. Pick one. We'll tackle the other ones next week." It was almost a joke, but not a funny one, he knew.
"I'm fine," Malfoy snapped. "I am not some delicate flower who cannot handle..." He stopped and took a deep breath. "I'm fine."
"Alright. Good," Harry muttered, scribbling something on the check list. The next question was just as ridiculous. "Are you having urges?" Merlin, he was going to give Kingsley a piece of his mind when he got back to the Ministry.
"Urges," Malfoy repeated, deadpan.
"Urges." Harry held up the list and pointed to the word. "Apparently they need to know."
Malfoy scowled. "You can tell the Ministry, in their infinite wisdom, that the only urge I have, other than to pitch myself from the highest balcony, is to take something sufficiently thick and pointy and shove it up their collective arses."
Harry took a step back, a little surprised by the venom in Malfoy's voice and the way it sharpened his posh accent to something icy and dangerous. "I think I'll just paraphrase and tell them you're fine," he said after a moment. "You're not actually going to throw yourself off anything, are you?"
"No, Potter," Malfoy replied, and now he just sounded weary. "That would be far too easy."
The ball of light came zooming back, still bright and unsullied by darkness. "Alright, house is clean, then," Harry said. "Well," he amended. "Clean of Dark magic, anyway. That's my cue to go."
"And good riddance," Malfoy said, gesturing to the doors. "I'm sure you can see yourself out."
He turned and headed back up the stairs, but as Harry left, he could have sworn he heard something crash behind him, though there was no way he was going back to check. "See you next week," he muttered under his breath, heading back down the long path.
It was at the beginning of the second week when Draco found the bottles. He had grown tired of staring at the same gold toned wallpaper of his parlor and his bedroom held little comfort, so he'd gone exploring, reasoning that if there had been corpses in the house, the smell would have alerted him. Or would have alerted Mippy, who would have disposed of them like a good elf should. But then, she'd done nothing about the mess the manor was in, so perhaps Mippy wasn't all that reliable anymore.
For reasons Draco didn't want to contemplate, he'd begun in his father's study.
He'd never been allowed in there as a child, always staring at the mahogany door with a mixture of trepidation and longing. He'd wanted his father to come out more than he'd wanted to go in, and he had always wondered what would happen if he'd knocked and asked very politely for his father to come play with him in the garden.
But Draco had known what Lucius looked like when he was upset, and the threat of seeing coldness in those grey eyes, so like his own, had always been enough to keep him rooted to the spot until his mother came to shoo him away with promises of cake and presents.
Now there were no threats to keep him from pushing that door open, so he had, feeling the lingering traces of a locking spell that dissipated under his touch, no longer needed.
For some reason that hurt.
The room was pristine, if a little dusty, and Draco wondered how it was that Voldemort had never destroyed this. Draco had always seen it as the center of his father's power, and Voldemort had been hell bent on making sure that the Malfoy patriarch knew that he was nothing, but the room was untouched.
There was the large mahogany desk and the comfortable looking chair behind it, the multitudes of books that filled the shelves that lined the walls (though there were gaps where the Ministry had come and taken the more questionable ones), the rug in front of the Floo, and a cupboard off to the side that Draco had never seen inside of.
His heart pounded as he stepped closer to it, wondering what could possibly be inside. Nothing sinister or Potter's spell would have found it. A journal? Letters? Some sign that his father had cared for more than power and status?
Draco scoffed at himself and pulled open one of the doors.
It was full of bottles. Old, beautifully designed bottles with names on the labels that Draco had never heard of before. He reached in and pulled one out, noting the etching of a stag's head on the glass. The name The Dalmore was etched under it, and Draco traced his fingers over it with a frown.
It didn't surprise him that his father should have a collection of very old and likely very expensive alcohol, but it seemed like these were Muggle brands.
A harsh laugh escaped Draco as he pulled bottle after bottle out. Glenfarclas, 1955. The Macallan, 1939. Glenfiddich, 1937. They all lacked that little spark of magic that belonged to things of this world, and Draco nearly hurled one of the bottles at the wall.
The utter fucking bastard. All of his talk about superiority and purity and magic being the answer to everything, and he had a horde of Muggle liquor stashed away in his fucking study.
Draco's fingers tightened on the neck of one of the bottles, and before he knew it he was popping it open. It wasn't as if Lucius could find out and hurt him for it, and all of a sudden Draco wanted a drink.
He put the bottle to his lips and drank, gasping at the smooth burn of it. It was different than drinking Firewhiskey with Blaise and Pansy at Hogwarts. For one, this was a more desperate sort of thing. But the warmth in his stomach was the same, and Draco found himself swigging again, licking his lips and then gathering four of the bottles and carrying them up to his room. There were enough bottles left in the cupboard to last him a while. Perhaps a whole year.
"Come off it, Hermione," Ron argued. "He deserved worse than he got. What's so bad about having to be at home for a year?"
"You remember how creepy that place was, Ron," Hermione replied. "And Voldemort lived there. I can only imagine the kind of memories it holds for Draco."
"He's Draco now?"
Hermione made a face and waved her hand impatiently. "We're not at school anymore. I think we can all afford to do a little growing up."
Harry shook his head and downed the last of his pint, making a motion to Tom for another while he sorted through his basket of chips for the crispier ones. If he'd known it was going to spark a debate between Ron and Hermione, Harry rather thought he would have decided not to bring up his little trip to Malfoy Manor. But both of his friends had been sufficiently horrified to find out about his new duties, and that was the reaction he had been looking for.
"But that doesn't mean we have to like the ferret, does it?" Ron was asking, looking to Harry for confirmation. "I mean, Harry doesn't like him. Do you?"
"Nope. Definitely don't like him," Harry agreed. "I think he's going to be even more of a rude prat when he finishes his year, but Hermione's right. It's sort of awful there."
"Yeah, I reckon no one stuck around to clean the place up once You Know Who and his lot cleared out." Ron shuddered. "Well, still. That's what he gets for having old snake face there in the first place."
Harry frowned, remembering how scared Malfoy had always looked when Harry had seen him. "Something tells me it wasn't his choice, Ron."
It was Friday night, and once again Harry had put off going to the manor until the last possible minute. He planned to go the next morning or early afternoon, but he was dreading it. Malfoy was going to be a twat, and he was going to have to ask him more uncomfortable questions and see that weary, unhappy look on that pointed face.
Harry looked up when he realized that Hermione had asked him something. "Er...what? Sorry, Hermione, I was..."
"Not listening," Hermione finished, shaking her head. "I'm used to it. I was asking if there was anything you could do to help cheer Draco up. I don't imagine he has much to do to entertain himself."
"I'm not trying to be his friend, Hermione," Harry protested. "I've just got to do the checklist. That's it."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "I'm not saying you have to be his friend. But you're probably the only person he's going to be seeing for the next year. Imagine how it feels to be locked away and alone."
The problem was that Harry knew exactly how that felt. He'd spent plenty of nights as a child, locked in his cupboard and wishing that someone would come along for just a few minutes to talk to him or offer some sort of distraction that would make things better. He sighed and knew he was fucked.
Nothing had changed about the manor in the days since he'd been there, and Harry had to wonder what Malfoy had a house-elf for if not for straightening the place up, although he supposed it was a large job for one elf.
Said elf came to the doors no sooner than he had reached them, her large eyes wide and fearful. "Now is not being a good time, Harry Potter," she squeaked out, wringing her hands.
"Yeah, well," Harry replied. "It's got to be today or Malfoy and I are both going to get into trouble."
The sound of something crashing echoed through the vast entrance way, and Harry frowned.
"Master Draco is not well," the elf said. "He is..." she trailed off.
"He is going to be in danger of having to go to prison if I don't fill this form out and return it before the end of the day."
That seemed to sway her. "Come in, Harry Potter," the elf sighed, and Harry obeyed, wincing as something heavy thumped into something else and echoed through the manor.
"What the bloody hell is he doing?"
"Harry Potter should follow Mippy."
Seeing that he wasn't going to get a straight answer, Harry obeyed, following Mippy up a large staircase and down a dusty, poorly lit corridor until they reached what looked like a large sitting room. Malfoy was standing in the middle of it, a pile of china plates and glassware on the couch next to him. As Harry watched, Malfoy picked up a rather beautifully cut goblet and lobbed it at the wall, watching with flat eyes as the glass exploded all over the floor. From the state of the room, he'd been at this awhile.
And from the smell of things, he was not entirely in his right mind.
"Dammit, Malfoy," Harry groaned.
Malfoy whipped around, and Harry could see that his clothes were filthy, streaked with dust and grime, and that his hair was in disarray, falling into his face and curling slightly over his collar. There was a ruddiness to his cheeks, but that was clearly from exertion and whatever it was he was drinking.
"Potter," Malfoy drawled, still managing to sound condescending even surrounded by broken glass and china and swaying slightly on the spot. "Who let you in?"
"Your elf," Harry replied, pointing to Mippy who was backed into a corner and looking at her master with worry written all over her face. "What the hell are you doing?"
"What does it look like, Potter? I am smashing this place to bits. It belongs in a pile of rubble."
"Yeah, okay. Only you've got to live here for another fifty weeks. So you might want to halt the destruction a bit."
Malfoy scowled. "Just do your spells and ask your questions so you can get out of my sight, Potter."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Fine." He pulled out his wand and did the spell for detecting Dark magic, watching as it whipped around the room before looking back at Malfoy. "Arm," he said, holding out his hand.
Malfoy made his way closer to him, and Harry hoped that he wasn't going to fall over because he didn't think Malfoy would take too kindly to having Harry try to catch him. His sleeves were rolled up again, and his skin looked even paler this time, if that were possible. Malfoy was so fucking thin and delicate looking, like one wrong move would have his skin splitting and bruising, and Harry tried to keep his touch light as he held that bony wrist, waving his wand over the bracelet. He had no desire to see Malfoy bleeding again.
The charm flared just as brightly as it had last time, and Harry wrote that down once he had released Malfoy's wrist.
"Well?" Malfoy asked, propping his hands on his hips. "Go on, then."
Grey eyes rolled. "Don't you have to ask me about my mental state? Determine my fragility?"
"What I really want to determine is how you can say words like fragility when you're this pissed," Harry muttered.
"I am not pissed, Potter," Malfoy snapped. "Heathens get pissed, and I am not a heathen."
Harry snorted, his eyes raking over Malfoy's disheveled appearance. "Right. Of course not."
"Oh, fuck you. I don't need your fucking judgment, Potter. Ask your bloody questions and then get the fuck out."
"What have you been drinking?"
Malfoy rolled his eyes. "I'm fairly certain that that is not one of the questions on your list."
"So what if it isn't?"
"It's none of your business what I'm drinking." There was pure anger in Malfoy's tone, and Harry got the feeling that not all of it was directed at him.
"Fine. Whatever." He consulted his list. "Are you harboring feelings of ill will towards the Ministry or anyone associated with it?" Merlin, but these were idiotic.
Malfoy tapped his lips with one finger. "Hm, let's see," he snapped. "Considering how very much I would like to punch you in your smug face right now, I'm going to say, yes. I am."
"What the hell would I be smug about?" Harry asked incredulously. "Do you think I like doing this? Because I really, really don't."
"Oh, poor fucking Potter!" Malfoy spat, hurling another piece of glassware at the wall. "I'm so sorry you have to cut into the time you could be spending signing autographs or whatever the fuck it is you do to come make sure I'm not about to lose my fucking mind! How horrible it must be to be you."
"What are you on about?" Harry demanded. "I didn't say that. I'm just-"
"At least you get the added perk of getting to see me like this. You probably asked for it. So you could come here and lord over me. Is this payback, Potter? For school and the things I said to you and your friends?"
"It probably is. And yet, you probably go home feeling proud of yourself at the same time, because hey, at least you did the good thing and didn't let me go to Azkaban." Malfoy was breathing hard and his face was even redder. "Well, you know what, Potter? Rotting is rotting no matter where you do it. So you didn't fucking save me."
Harry let out a slow breath and looked at the other man. "Okay. You're drunk and talking nonsense, and I'm going to leave."
"Good. Because I don't want you here!"
"Yeah, I got that, thanks." Harry rolled up the list and left the room, stomping down the stairs. He was so tired of fighting with Malfoy, and he didn't even know what the hell they were fighting about this time. The war was over, and while he wasn't exactly looking to be friends with the git, it would at least be nice if they could be civil to each other for the next fucking year.
But apparently that was too much to hope for.
Once he was out of the gates, Harry Apparated to Grimmauld Place. The house was still dark and somewhat gloomy, but he and his friends had worked on it during those few weeks between the war and the trials, making it livable. And after spending time in the destruction of Malfoy Manor, his house seemed downright cheery. It was just as empty, though. Emptier, perhaps because Harry lived alone. Kreacher had elected to stay at Hogwarts, and Harry had been fine with that.
He dropped onto his couch and sighed, pressing his hands over his face. Harry wasn't entirely sure why Malfoy's apparent descent into drunken madness bothered him so much. It wasn't as if he thought that he deserved it, but Malfoy was an adult, and if he wanted to drink himself into an oblivion, then who was Harry to interfere with that?
"Damned saving people thing," Harry muttered into his hands. It was the same feeling that had compelled him into making sure that Malfoy and his mother wouldn't go to Azkaban. There was some part of him that wanted to see what Malfoy would do if he had the chance to live his life without being under anyone's thumb. He wanted to give him that chance.
Hermione would no doubt be proud of him, but he could already hear Ron groaning. Hell, he was groaning himself, but his mind was already made up.
Time apparently passed very quickly when you spent most of it in a drunken stupor, and Draco couldn't tell one day from another, really. All he knew was that Mippy brought him tea and soup at different times and pleaded with him in her squeaky voice until he ate and drank. She ran him baths, and Draco sat in them, cleaning himself up before staggering back to the growing stash of bottles in his bedroom.
It didn't feel like a week had passed, but Draco could feel it when the wards warned him that someone was approaching the manor. He was lying face down on the couch in his parlor, too drunk to move. The room went spinning every time he lifted his head, and he groaned when Mippy's cracking appearance made him jump. His stomach felt sloshy and full, and a wave of nausea went through him when he even thought about moving, so he didn't.
"Master Draco, Harry Potter is being back."
Draco made a vague noise. The last person he wanted to see was Harry Potter, but he couldn't make that come out of his mouth. He cracked one eye open and peered at Mippy just in time to see her disappear with another crack.
He closed his eye again and pressed his face into the musty smelling cushion of the couch. Draco could remember shouting at Potter the last time he was here, and apparently this was his payback. To be prone and pathetic as always.
Footsteps announced Potter's presence, and Draco sighed, not bothering to acknowledge him.
"Well, at least you're not throwing things this time," Potter mumbled. "Are you alive over there, Malfoy?"
Draco made another noise, this one meant to sound scathing, but affirming.
"Right." Potter sighed. "Look, Malfoy. I'm here early because I wanted to talk to you. Like, actually talk and not yell or goad. Do you think we can do that?"
"Mmrgh," Draco replied.
"Fuck's sake." Potter came closer and leaned in before apparently jumping back. "Christ, Malfoy. Are you bathing in alcohol? You smell like...well, you probably don't want to know. Can you sit up?"
Draco shook his head and then immediately regretted it when his stomach rolled unpleasantly. He swallowed back the tide of nausea and tried to make words come out of his mouth. "Go'way."
"I will not," Potter said back. "Even if you're too drunk to talk to me, I still have to do my job."
"Sod your job," Draco mumbled into the couch.
"I wish it were that simple."
Potter's voice was close again, and then there were hands on Draco's arms, digging in tightly and pulling him up into a sitting position. The movement made his stomach lurch, and Draco had to breathe deeply through his nose to avoid giving in to the sensation.
He let his eyes open, and they were sore and gritty, making Draco realize that he had no idea how long he'd been on that couch. "What d'you want?" he managed.
"I told you. I want to talk to you. But that's going to be pretty impossible until you sober up."
"Don't want t'sober up."
Potter snorted. "Clearly. At the very least, I'm going to make sure you don't die on a dusty old couch. You're better than that, don't you think?"
"No." That one was easy to answer. Draco wasn't better than that. He was the last of a dying family. His father was most likely going to die in Azkaban, leaving Draco and his mother to fend for themselves. Draco was worth less than scum these days, and he didn't know what was going to happen in a year's time. It seemed vast and frightening, and he just wanted to drink until he couldn't feel that anymore.
Quite without his permission, tears spilled down his cheeks. There was nothing he could do to stop them, so he just stared blankly at the opposite wall, his breath hitching in his chest.
"Hey. Hey, don't cry," Potter said, sounding alarmed. "Malfoy, come on."
Draco dropped his face into his hands and tried to breathe. "You don't get it." If he spoke slowly, he only slurred his words a little bit, he found. "I'm no-nothing, Potter. I failed. Father's gone. Mother's gone. M'alone. Going to die here."
"No, you won't!" The couch dipped as Potter sat next to him, but Draco didn't turn his head to look. "Malfoy, you can't think like that, okay? Yeah, things suck now, but they can change. Things can change."
Draco wanted to shout back that no, they didn't. Nothing changed except to get worse. But when he opened his mouth, everything that he had been holding back seemed to rush out at once.
It was a unique experience, Harry had to say, being thrown up on. It wasn't something he wanted to experience again, and from the miserable look on Malfoy's face as he looked up from where he had vomited all over Harry's shoes, it was just as bad for him.
The pale boy looked like he wanted to say something, but his eyes rolled back in his head and he slumped sideways on the couch, out cold.
Harry sighed and raked a hand through his hair. How the hell did he get himself into things like this? He tried not to breathe too deeply, the smell of sick and alcohol threatening to make him light headed. "Mippy?" he called, hoping that he was remembering the elf's name right.
When she appeared, her eyes went wide and watery at the sight of her master. "Oh, Master Draco!" she cried, wringing her hands.
"Yeah, he's had a bit of an issue," Harry said. "D'you think you could..." he gestured to his feet.
"Oh!" Mippy snapped her fingers, and his shoes were clean and no longer smelled awful.
"Thanks. We should try to get him to bed or something," Harry said, nodding in Malfoy's direction. "He's out cold."
"Poor Master Draco," Mippy said, shaking her head and snapping her fingers again so that Malfoy's body rose up off the couch. "He is being so sad and alone."
Harry sighed. "Yeah, that makes sense. I guess it doesn't help that his house is a depressing mess on top of everything else." Suddenly an idea formed in his head.
Draco remembered very little when he woke up. It was dark in his room, but the curtains were pulled back, giving him a view of the night sky. He thought it must have been early afternoon when he'd passed out, and that memory led to a flood of others.
He remembered vomiting all over Potter and possibly crying, spilling out words about his father and being a failure. His cheeks flushed and he pressed his face into his pillow, wishing he could just disappear. By now Potter was more than likely at some pub with his gaggle of Gryffindors, talking about how pitiful Draco Malfoy was and how he had gotten what he deserved.
His head was pounding, and his mouth tasted like death. "Fuck," he mumbled, letting out a messy breath.
From somewhere downstairs there was a crash and a muted curse, and Draco frowned. That voice was too deep to be Mippy's, and unless he was about to be robbed, that meant that Potter was still in the house.
Draco dragged himself out of his bed, frowning harder when he realized he couldn't remember how he had gotten into it. Mippy hadn't put him to bed since he was a child, and he was horrified to think that it had been Potter.
The only way to find out was to leave the room, and so Draco ran his fingers through his hair and made his way down the stairs, wincing as a loud laugh cut through his pounding head as he walked in the direction of the kitchen.
"I dunno," came the voice, and it was definitely Potter's. "It's just something my best mate's mum does when there's something wrong. She makes tea and then cleans something by hand."
"Mippy has been meaning to..."
"No, I get it," Potter said, cutting the elf off. "It seems like Malfoy's a bit of a handful right now, and this place is huge. You're doing what you can."
Hearing someone he had hated so fiercely sympathizing with his house elf was bizarre, and Draco wasn't entirely sure that he wasn't dreaming, but he didn't stop to dwell on it. Instead he went into the kitchen and looked around. He had to blink hard for the image of Harry sodding Potter, bent over his counters with a rag and a bucket of soapy water to make sense, but there it was.
"What in Merlin's name are you doing?" he managed to get out, and his voice cracked a bit.
"Er...cleaning?" Potter said, and Mippy squeaked before throwing herself in front of him.
"Master Draco! Mippy is being very sorry! Mippy did not mean to-"
Draco cut her off with a raised hand. "It's fine, Mippy. The world has gone arse over tit today, it seems. I heard something about tea?"
Potter pointed to the table that was already free of dust and shining. "There," he said. "Mippy was good enough to tell me how you take it."
"Right." Draco picked up the cup, kept warm with a charm and sipped, noting that it was exactly how he liked it. It also cleared his head and made him feel more human, so he blinked and looked at Potter, who had gone back to scrubbing. "Why?"
Draco scowled. "You know what. Don't play dumb."
"To hear you tell it, I'm not playing," Potter fired back.
Draco just huffed. "Potter."
"Because things are a mess around here," Potter said finally. "And...I think you could use the help."
"I don't need your pity," Draco practically spat.
Harry whipped around and stared at him. "It's not pity! It's not. Look, Malfoy. I know you hate me, and I know you don't like it here. I don't blame you. But...let's just call it part of my job, alright? I'm supposed to make sure you're alright out here, and I figure this is better than asking you stupid questions once a week."
"So you're going to clean my house instead?"
Potter shrugged. "If I have to, yeah. I'm good at cleaning."
Draco rolled his eyes and let himself sink down into one of the chairs at the table. "Potter, you're good at everything."
"No. I'm not." Potter turned back around and returned to scrubbing.
"Name one thing you're not good at."
Draco got the feeling that that hadn't been what Potter had meant at first, but he couldn't deny that he was right about that. "Fine. So there's one thing. Are you any good at drinking?"
Potter turned his head and smiled. "Might be. Why?"
"Because there are still about twenty bottles of decades old scotch in my father's study, and if you're going to clean my house, you might as well drink while you do it." Draco didn't know why he was doing this. It felt suspiciously like reaching out, but he remembered that Potter had reached out first. His job was to renew spells and make sure Draco wasn't plotting against the Ministry, but it seemed Potter actually wanted to help him. It was strange, but not entirely unwelcome. Apparently being cooped up in this house with Mippy was making him starved for any company, even Potter's.
Draco could feel those vivid eyes on him, as if Potter was trying to work out what Draco's angle was, and Draco just stared back at him, too tired and wrung out to be concealing anything.
"Alright," Potter said finally. "But not tonight. I think you need to give the scotch a break, and I don't want to drink alone."
That was fair enough. So Draco drank his tea. "Next week, then."
And that was how it started.
Click here for part two.