June 16th, 2008
|09:10 pm - Fic: "Boggart", Draco Malfoy/Remus Lupin, Part 2/2|
See Part 1 for warnings and disclaimer.
“Good evening, Mr. Malfoy,” Lupin said, looked all too pleased with himself as Draco entered his office that night. “I trust you enjoyed yourself in class the other day.”
Draco glared at him. “You told me to say whatever I wanted.”
“So I did,” Lupin smiled infuriatingly. “And you followed my instructions beautifully. I only wish you had been more inventive with your insults. Belittling my appearance is hardly something I can even take notice of anymore.”
“I don’t doubt it,” Draco spat, clinging at anything that could possibly give him any sort of upper hand.
“Did you have any other thoughts you would like to share with me about my parentage or financial state before we begin your lesson?”
Draco just glared, but through this facade he felt as though someone had loosed a Bludger inside his stomach.
Lupin looked satisfied at his silence and turned his attention to a large trunk in the corner of the room. Draco would never have guessed there was anything inside. It wasn’t thrashing around like the wardrobe in the staff room had been.
“You see, Draco,” Lupin said in response to his unspoken question, “this Boggart is not faced with a classroom full of young prey, so it’s lying dormant. You see what a surprise this might be for you, if you opened a cupboard at home.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Yes, yes you mentioned this all before. You’re not going to convince me that there’s a good reason you’re putting me through this, so let’s just get on with it!”
Lupin quirked an eyebrow, but said nothing about the rudeness. “Very well. Have you thought of an image which would turn your greatest fear into something that we might find amusing?”
Draco re-fixed the glare onto his face.
“Really, this will go much faster if you have a strategy ready.”
“So I’m supposed to ready a strategy every time I open a cupboard?” Draco fumed.
“Well that’s where the practice comes in I’m afraid,” Lupin smiled. “You should be able to react without thinking.”
Draco remained silent.
“So, do you know what you’re going to do when I open that trunk, Draco?”
Draco knew what he wanted to do, and that was run in the other direction as fast as his legs could carry him before anything came out of it. In truth, he had no idea what form his greatest fear would really take. It was not a physical idea, but he was certain that the Boggart would find a way to make this as painful as possible.
Lupin clearly read the panic on his face before he could replace it with any of his trademark dismissive emotions.
“If you would like to tell me what you expect to come out of that trunk, Draco, perhaps we could work out a solution together.”
Draco’s glare became murderous. “Like how you helped Longbottom dress Professor Snape up like his Grandmummy? No thank you, Lupin. You’re quite the voyeur aren’t you? Is this why you took this job, to see into people’s heads?”
Lupin shook his head and smiled kindly. So bloody infuriating! “I’m going to see whatever it is that you want no one to see in a few moments, Draco. I am trying to help you. The Boggart will overpower you if you let it.”
“Overpower me?” Draco squeaked. “You’ve brought me here to humiliate and insult me? I don’t need your help, Lupin!”
Rage momentarily clouding over the fear in the pit of his stomach, Draco stormed over to the unassuming trunk and, ignoring Lupin’s shout of alarm, kicked it open violently.
As soon as he had done it, the rage seeped away, and Draco stumbled backwards in terror. What happened next may very well have only taken moments, but to Draco it felt like a whole lifetime. He stared, shaking slightly, at the top of what appeared to be an empty trunk, and then suddenly, four dark fingers curled over the edge. Draco uttered another undignified squeak as Blaise Zabini’s head appeared over the top of the trunk, looking half mad or possessed, certainly not quite himself. The boy’s face was marred by an evil leer as he threw one foot onto the ground and stalked slowly to where Draco cowered, unsure of exactly what was going to take place. Draco vaguely registered Lupin looking on, concern showing on his face, but obviously unwilling to do anything until Draco had at least made an attempt at the task himself. Over the Blaise-clone’s shoulder he could just make out another set of fingers coming up over the edge of the trunk. These were more feminine. He did not know who to expect, and in a horrifying instant realized that he could very well be about to face everyone he had ever met. ‘Oh bloody fucking hell.’
“Why Draco, I never realized how much you cared,” the Blaise in front of him said silkily, drawing his attention away from whatever was still happening in the trunk. “If I’d known that you’re always waiting around for me before class because you love watching me get dressed, I might put on more of a show for you.” The smile on the phantom’s face turned into a look of disgust. “Of course I’d never actually touch you, you revolting waste of air. I can’t believe I’ve let you outshine me for three years, not knowing you’re a bloody shirt lifter. Wand-worshiper!”
Draco was frozen to the ground, his wand dangling uselessly in his hand. Any thoughts of trying to make this image amusing, or even of the fact that this was an image at all had completely fled his mind. All he saw was Blaise. In front of him. And he knew. Oh Merlin, he knew.
There was a bark of laughter behind him. Blaise gracefully stepped aside to reveal the form of Hermione Granger, having just climbed from the trunk.
“You filthy little rodent,” she hissed at him, “you have some nerve. You dare call me a Mudblood? You dare insinuate that I’m beneath you? We Mudbloods and Muggles have a word for you too, Malfoy. Faggot.”
Draco was vaguely aware of his knees quaking. This didn’t make sense, how did Granger know? But she was right. As fucking usual, she was right.
“It makes so much more sense now!” This voice was Potter’s he stepped in front Granger with a smug smirk on his face, his green eyes dancing with delight. “I never knew why you were so obsessed with me, Malfoy. I thought you hated me, but it’s not that at all. You want me, don’t you? You’re worthless enough to want a cock in your arse, but you’re still a good little Slytherin and you’ll always cling to the man at the top, cause that’s all you’ve got going for you. You’d bend over for me if I asked you to, wouldn’t you? I bet you would. You know why I won’t do that though, don’t you Malfoy? Because I’m not disgusting like you.”
Weasley predictably followed Potter as he always did, but the bloody bastard was laughing so hard he couldn’t even get out an insult. His face was redder than his hair, and tears ran down his cheeks as he pointed at Draco and wheezed, “Malfoy...wand-worshiper...Malfoy...calls me skint when he’s...”. And then he actually tumbled onto the ground and rolled around in a fit of laughter.
Out they all came, one by one, the venom on their tongues varied, but all brutal. Parkinson cackled with glee, “Well it’s no wonder you keep turning me down. Guess I know why now!” Lupin himself smiled as usual, but there was no kindness in it. “Well, I have to say that this makes a tremendous amount of sense. I wouldn’t want anyone knowing this secret either, Draco.” Goyle did nothing but spit at his feet, and Crabbe followed close behind, “I can’t believe we followed you around for three years. You should feel honoured to be seen with us. Waste of fucking skin.” Everyone he could think of, they became a blur of images. His whole body shook. He wanted to rush at them. Beat them senseless. But he couldn’t. Because he was too weak, and they were right. He was disgusting. He was a fraud.
He didn’t think it could get any worse until he saw graceful, long fingers curl around the edge of the trunk. ‘Oh please, no. No no no.’
Professor Snape stepped out of the trunk with a flourish, robes billowing in his wake as he slinked toward Draco, looking at him, not with the sort of revulsion that he might have reserved for Potter or Longbottom, but with a cold disappointment which was so much worse. “Such a pity,” he whispered. “You had so much potential. What would people think? A Potions Master with an unhealthy interest in beautiful boys, no it won’t do at all. I’m afraid you’re not the person I thought, Draco.”
“No,” Draco choked out, the first words he had uttered through this horrifying performance. “I am, Professor, I swear I am.”
“You’re not,” Snape said flatly. “I don’t want you anywhere near my classroom.”
“Please sir,” he begged, tears that had been building up finally spilling over. The phantom Snape’s lip curled up in disgust, and he suddenly stepped aside to reveal the towering, furious form of Lucius Malfoy himself.
“You are not my son.”
The words were cold and flat, and Draco felt them pierce into him like slabs of ice.
“Don’t say that Father, please, I can fight it. I can change.”
“Not my son,” he repeated, the venom dripped from every word. “You are not worthy of my name.”
His hand reached up to strike, and Draco sank down to his knees with a soft moan of defeat. And then finally, fucking finally, a form stepped between him and his father, and the whole collection of them twirled together and swept up into the air into the form of a pale, glowing orb. Draco stared up with glazed eyes and wondered if the moon cared whether or not he was a fairy.
The Boggart flew back into the trunk.
Draco was crumpled on the floor. His mind only vaguely aware that none of that had actually happened. He knew he was shaking. He couldn’t control it. They knew. They all bloody knew. He couldn’t face them again. How could he? Where could he go where no one would know the name Malfoy?
Then suddenly he was wrapped in warmth. There were arms around him. An unfamiliar feeling flickered in his chest. Someone was murmuring soothing things in his ear. There was a hand stroking his head. He was surrounded by the scent of freshness, he felt as if he were outdoors, and all was well because there were arms around him. He clung to the warmth as hard as he could.
Slowly he began to come back to reality. He was in Lupin’s office. On the floor to be precise. And if he wasn’t mistaken, he had just made a complete arse of himself. But somehow, in that moment, that didn’t seem terribly important, because Lupin had promised not to tell anyone. And Lupin had his arms around him. Lupin wasn’t revolted by him. Someone knew his terrible secret, and that person was not running in the other direction. Quite the opposite in fact. He buried his face in the side of Lupin’s neck and the ragged sobs that he was only now becoming aware of, stopped short. He could feel soft skin beneath his lips, and it look every ounce of restraint he possessed not to try to taste.
“I’m so sorry.”
Finally Draco registered the words that Lupin was saying to him over and over as he stroked his head in the manner you might use to calm a frightened pet. Somehow this didn’t seem as demeaning as it should have.
“I’m so sorry, Draco. I didn’t know. I’m so sorry.”
“Well how could you have known?” Draco muttered, finally deciding he needed to say something, anything, to recover from this humiliation. “I’d like to hope it’s not that obvious.”
Lupin drew back, and Draco immediately mourned the loss, although one arm stayed firmly around his shoulders. They stared at each other. Lupin looked weary and defeated. Draco wondered if he had been too hard on him.
“I’m so sorry, Draco.” Lupin repeated for the hundredth time. “I can’t believe I tried to force you to live out that nightmare in front of your class.”
Draco snorted. “Well, now you know.” After a pause he added accusingly, “Why didn’t you stop it sooner?”
Lupin stared at the ground. “I...couldn’t. I was just as frozen as you were. It hit rather close to home.”
“You thought I was a prat, didn’t you? You thought an image of me in a hand-me-down robe was going to step out of that wardrobe last week, didn’t you?”
Lupin smiled sadly. “I suppose I did, Draco. My apologies. I had actually discussed this issue at length with the Headmaster prior to the first lesson with the Gryffindors. Third year, you see, is generally the perfect time to teach a lesson of this nature. At thirteen a young wizard has enough skill to face an obstacle like a Boggart, but has not generally had the life experience to develop a real fear, such as your own.”
Draco raised his eyebrows questioningly.
“Most students at this age will face down trolls, banshees, vampires and the like. Irrational, showy, childhood fears. All things that can do one serious harm of course, but not things that one encounters on a daily basis. Not things that can harm the soul, or that plague a person’s mind constantly. Not things that one would really be bothered having on display in front of one’s classmates.”
Draco nodded. “Pimples and scary Potions teachers.”
“Exactly,” Lupin said. “I’m sure you heard that I stopped Harry Potter from facing down the Boggart, assuming that the class would not be ready to see an image of something truly terrifying. The Dark Lord, or the death of his parents.”
Draco snorted. “But instead it turned out to be a bloody Dementor.”
Lupin caught Draco’s eye. “Don’t be so quick to dismiss him. You see now what a powerful and dangerous thing fear can be.”
“Always the teacher?” Draco smirked.
“I suppose,” Lupin conceded. “Besides,” he added with a little twinkle in his eye, “your feelings for Harry aren’t exactly as you portray them, now are they?”
Draco opened his mouth in outrage, and then closed it abruptly. He was being teased. Gently. By someone who knew his deepest secret. And the worst he was doing was teasing.
“Not true,” he sputtered, finally. “I truly can’t stand the prick. I just...the thought has crossed my mind.” He stared at the floor. “If people found out. If they had to find out...it would be about the only way to save face...Slytherins always know how to find power, even when they don’t have it themselves. I see what he could have, even if he doesn’t.”
They were silent for a long time. “It’s not so awful, Draco.” Lupin said softly. “I know it seems like it is, but it’s not.”
Draco’s eyes narrowed.
“Don’t think that I’m patronizing you,” Lupin said, immediately sensing Draco’s thoughts. “I know what you’re struggling with every day. But it wouldn’t be as bad as you’ve imagined.” He nodded to the trunk. “It certainly wouldn’t be as bad as that. I hope you don’t actually think that everyone would have the same reaction. Particularly your vision of Ms. Granger is a bit off the mark you’ll have to admit. I can’t imagine her taking advantage of another’s suffering, not to mention that word ever leaving her mouth.”
Draco smiled a bit. “Maybe. Not all of them are off the mark though,” he said, thinking of his father. And Weasley, for that matter. The smug bastard.
“No,” Lupin agreed. “The world we live in is filled with bigoted, closed-minded people, Draco. Some look down on others because of their blood, some because of their sexual preferences.”
Draco did not miss the implication. “Don’t make this about me.”
“I’m sorry, who were we talking about?” Lupin asked innocently.
A few more minutes passed and Draco became very aware of how insane this would look if anyone were to walk in. He and Lupin, sitting casually on the floor of his office, inches apart, both looking worn out, and a strange cross between amused and destroyed. At some point Lupin had stopped rubbing soothing circles into his back, and he longed for the contact. He gazed at Lupin, non-judgmental and undeniably handsome beneath the threadbare clothing and silly smile. A feeling that he did not wish to examine began to curl up in his belly. It only made the issue at hand seem more hopeless. A broke Professor of questionable parentage. Lovely. As if his perverted mind could get any worse.
“What am I going to do?” he asked softly.
“About what? Facing Boggarts?” Oh the infuriating smile!
“Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about!” Draco exploded. “Everything! Life! Life like this. Life as a bloody, faggot, Malfoy! What am I going to do about that?”
The smile dropped from Lupin’s face. The outburst hung in the air. “I can’t tell you the answer to that question, Draco. You can live with your secret, or you can let it out into the open. What other choice do you have?”
Draco looked to the ceiling helplessly. “They can't find out, Professor Lupin. What would happen to me if they did? Do you think my father would allow me to carry on his name if he knew? Do you think I could survive in Slytherin house? Do you know how fast that pack of rabid wolves would turn on me? What am I supposed to do? Stand up on a table in the Great Hall and proclaim, ‘I’m here, I’m queer, who wants to take the first shot? Get it line! It’ll be fun! I’ve made all of your lives Hell since I walked through this door, now everyone have a go!’”
Draco fully expected a lecture about the dangers of karma, bullying and the general concept of getting what one deserves, but none came. Finally, Lupin answered, very slowly and thoughtfully, “It would mean a great deal, if you were to do that, Draco. A great deal to a great many people. Ones who might be in the same situation as you, but who might be too quiet, too afraid. Ones who lack your financial and social clout. You would survive it, you know. Things would change, but you would survive it.”
“That’s what you think I should do is it? Become a martyr? Poster-boy for magical queers around the globe? Think Hogwarts needs a new celebrity? Step aside Harry Potter: Boy Who Lived, here comes Draco Malfoy: Boy Who Liked It In The Arse!”
Lupin was unable to control his snort of laughter. Draco glared at him.
“That’s what you would do I suppose? Bloody Gryffindors.”
Lupin shook his head. “No, Draco. I wouldn’t say that. As you remarked earlier, courage has never been my strong suit. I too have wondered if I was sorted into the wrong house.”
Draco looked at him inquiringly.
“I too, hid a secret from all but my closest friends at Hogwarts. Continue to hide it now in fact. And I know perfectly well that I could make the experience of being like me easier on others if I were frank about it, but truth be told, it’s far easier said than done.”
Draco was shocked at this confession. “So what do I do?”
Lupin smiled, “I already told you, I can’t answer that. Keep it hidden if you wish. I promise I won’t speak to anyone of it.”
“Not just that...” Draco trailed off. “How can I hide it all through Hogwarts? What happens next year? Everyone will pair off soon. And look at me, I’m bloody gorgeous now! Imagine what I’m going to look like in two years! Have you seen my father? And of course I’m loaded as well. Merlin, I’m going to have bints practically hanging off me and I’m not going to able to stomach a single one!”
Lupin was doing a very poor job of concealing his amusement, but somehow Draco was not nearly as irritated as he felt he ought to be.
“I’m a Malfoy, Lupin. It might be hard for you to really understand what that means, but it ends up that I’m watched. By everyone. I have a certain standard to uphold. Whether that standard is to be a glorious bastard to lesser beings, or to have a gorgeous bird on his arm. In fact, the only other person at this miserable school who is under the same amount of scrutiny as I am is bloody Saint Potter himself. And he’s enough of a laughing stock as it is. Problem is he doesn’t care what anyone thinks, what with his bleeding loyal friends and all. He could probably get away with shagging a house-elf in the middle of Transfigurations, and his reputation probably wouldn’t suffer. Me, if I have a hideous imperfection, I have to put on a bloody show to keep it hidden,” Draco finished miserably.
Lupin gazed at him for a long time. “I do hope, Draco, that there comes a time in your life where you will not see yourself as suffering from any imperfection.” After a pause, he went on, “But for now...I trust that you will never, under any circumstances, should your true nature reveal its ugly head, disclose who gave you terribly inappropriate advice that I’m about to share.”
Draco suddenly found himself grinning. “Well this at least should be good.”
Lupin quirked his eyebrow. “Do I have your word, Mr. Malfoy?”
“Absolutely,” he replied solemnly.
“If Hogwarts is anything like the way it was when I was a student, all you really need is one dramatic event to stick in people’s minds when they think of you. So all you really need is one, rather large, extravagant affair with someone of the female persuasion, to keep anyone from suspecting your true nature. I would recommend an affair of the most public and revolting nature that you can possibly muster, with as much public snogging as your masculine-inclined self can tolerate. I would recommend that this affair be with someone rather loud, given to bragging, and very likely to share every detail of her life with the entire student body. I am confident you have some idea of who I am suggesting.”
Draco smiled widely.
“And then I’m afraid, dear boy, you will have to bring another young lass into the mix. Only briefly, however. I think one, good, solid, snogging session in an extremely public area should be enough to send girl number one into a murderous rage, the news of which will spread through the school like wildfire. And with these simple steps, your easily believable reputation as Draco Malfoy: Casanova, will be solidified, likely without your ever having to pretend to chase another skirt again. Simple enough?”
“You are evil. Pure evil.” Draco said admiringly. “I am stunned that you weren’t sorted into Slytherin.”
“Thank you,” Lupin replied. “I don’t know if I should really take that as a compliment, but coming from you, I suppose I’ll take what I can get.”
“Was the secret you hid at Hogwarts the same as mine, Professor Lupin?” Draco asked boldly. “You seem to have given this some thought.”
Lupin gazed at him for a long moment, as if considering what to reveal. Draco briefly wondered if he had missed the mark. But what else could it be?
“Well,” Lupin said finally, “I suppose if you trust me with your secret, Draco, no matter how unwillingly, it would be poor form for me not to extend the same courtesy. I too, suffered from controversial preferences during my Hogwarts days.”
“And was that the script you followed to avert everyone’s attention?”
“Well I wasn’t a Malfoy, so such extreme precautions weren’t necessary,” Lupin laughed. “But I did keep it a secret from most, yes. I tried to balance searching for love with no one ever noticing.”
Draco chewed his lip thoughtfully. He wondered how far he could push this conversation. He knew it was already late, that this had already gone well past the general allotted time for detention, but he didn’t want to leave. He felt safe in this small office. He felt as though he could lift off the mask that he wore every day, and the weight of it gone freed him more than he could have imagined. And more than that, he had grudgingly been admitting to himself over the course of this conversation that he didn’t want to leave the presence of this strange Professor who was treating him as if he hadn’t been going out of his way to make his life miserable for the whole term. This Professor whose warm arms had brought him such peace, even for the briefest moment.
“Did you...” Draco trailed off. He wondered if he could really ask this question. He knew it was none of his business, but what harm could it really do given the situation? “Did you find love here? I mean, when you were a student.”
Lupin stared at him. “Yes, I suppose I did. Sixth year, I finally got up the nerve. Although I would never in a million years have guessed that Lucius Malfoy’s son would be concerned about love.”
Draco’s mouth fell open and Lupin immediately caught himself. “I’m sorry Draco, I shouldn’t have said that.”
“You know my father?” Draco asked, a bit of coldness creeping into his voice.
“Not really,” Lupin replied. “Only enough to have an idea of the type of man that he is. Or at least, the type of man he would like others to believe that he is. I shouldn’t imply that that makes you anything like him though, Draco.”
Draco gritted his teeth, unsure of what to reply. Lupin meant this only as a comment, but Draco felt it right in his stomach, a liberation and an insult all at once. His father’s shadow would be both blessing and curse for his entire life, he knew that much.
“My father is not without love,” Draco said, finally, icily.
Lupin raised his eyebrows incredulously. “Well it’s none of my business obviously.”
Draco glared at the ground furiously, totally unsure as to why this should matter, why he should care what Lupin thought of his father. At the end of the day, even if this had been the most relieving evening of his entire life, Lupin was just a teacher. A poor, pathetic teacher at that. What opinion could he possibly have of Lucius Malfoy, or his son, that should matter? But obviously it mattered to Draco, and he knew why. He just wasn’t quite prepared to face it yet. A few hours ago it had been just as Lupin had said earlier, he couldn’t have cared less what Lupin thought of him, but now, it just wasn’t like that.
“I’m sorry, Draco. Have I said too much? Perhaps it’s time to end this ‘lesson’.” Lupin chuckled a bit at the last word and made a move to get up, but it was obvious that he was actually concerned that he had upset Draco. Well that was something at least.
“He does love, my father,” Draco said, still staring downwards.
Lupin said nothing, but he did not stand. He was not inviting him to continue, but not stopping him either. Images of his mother in the evenings, rubbing her hands over Lucius’ forehead, through his hair, massaging out the day’s tension, came to him unbidden. It was the sort of touch that he had never received from either of them. From anyone really, until that very day. “The bond that he and my mother have, you have no idea.” Draco was whispering now. “He told me once, I think he had had too much wine at the time and probably regretted it later, but he told me that the most important thing for me to do in my youth was to search out love.”
Lupin’s brow furrowed. “I must admit, I can’t picture him saying that.”
“I know, it’s hard. But he told me once that in order to survive as a Malfoy, I would need to have one love in my life. One love who will be beautiful, intelligent, and as wicked as I am, but above all who can comfort me. Because life as a Malfoy is full of horror. Even though we are born on the top we must always strive to climb higher, and to reach that peak we must endure horrors that a normal wizard couldn’t imagine. Most comfort will repulse us, but there is one person who can offer it to us, and I must find mine. Of course, the beautiful, buxom blonde that my father is picturing for me isn’t exactly the image of the person in my mind,” Draco finished lamely, hoping that it wasn’t too obvious that he knew this one speech his father had made by heart, and that he had recited it to himself nightly for several years.
Lupin did not laugh. He was regarding Draco very carefully. “You do not have to live the same life as your father, Draco.”
Draco blinked. That was not anywhere near the response he had been expecting. That wasn’t even the part of the speech Lupin had been supposed to pay attention to. The look Lupin was giving him was very serious though. He realized quickly that Lupin knew his father better than he had let on earlier, and probably knew what Draco was talking about in more detail than he had anticipated.
“What if I want to?” he said, desperately searching for some way to remove Lupin’s stare from him. He felt as if the eyes were boring right through him.
“I don’t think you do,” Lupin replied.
“What exactly do you mean?”
They were at a stand-off, neither willing to actually identify the issue that they were discussing.
“I see light in you Draco,” Lupin said finally. “You’re trying to beat it out, but it’s there. And it will keep you from ending up like your father. There was no light in him in his early days. I doubt there is any now. And if love is truly what fueled him to do the things that he did, well Merlin save us.”
Draco said nothing in response, again torn between the liberation and rage that being considered as a different being from his father caused. Lupin obviously knew more than he did, which was infuriating. He wondered if perhaps that was why his father had been so violently opposed to him taking up the Defense Against the Dark Arts post. Something more than threadbare robes. And he knew very well that Lupin had not missed the subtlety in his identifying his mother as Lucius Malfoy’s only love. Fucking bloody Hell, when did he start wearing his heart on his sleeve? Truthfully there were plenty of his father’s speeches that he had memorized. That was the only one that was not designed to push him away and steel him to the world. To beat out any softness remaining in him. Heal it yourself. You know how. You don’t need her. No son of mine would be so weak.
Lupin finally cut the silence hanging between them. “Well, I think that we both got a bit more than expected out of tonight’s lesson.”
Draco smirked, glad for the lightness of the comment. “On the contrary, I am quite confident that I can now properly deal with a Boggart.”
“Would you like to give it another go before we end this session?”
“I suppose I might as well,” Draco conceded.
They rose from their position on the floor. Draco realized that his legs had long ago seized up and found himself staggering.
“Alright?” Lupin caught his elbow.
Draco nodded, and hoped that Lupin didn’t notice him shiver.
Lupin lifted the lid of the trunk, and out came Blaise Zabini, slinky and gorgeous as ever. “Haven’t had enough of me yet, Malfoy?”
“Never,” Draco replied with a smirk. He watched them all come out, realizing now how quickly it had actually happened. Their words still stung, but they didn’t pierce through him now. He had felt the worst of it, and knew now that if he did ever have to deal with the situation in the real world, he would survive. He waited until his father was standing right before him and then closed his eyes and pictured the funniest thing he could possibly imagine happening to this group of people.
Phantom-Blaise was naked and kneeling in front of Harry Potter, who looked confused but intrigued. Granger looked terrified as Pansy Parkinson pushed her to the floor and straddled her. His father was wrapped passionately around Professor Snape, while Crabbe and Goyle were locked in a revolting embrace. The phantom version of Professor Lupin was nowhere to be seen. Draco laughed long and loud.
And then the budding orgy swirled up into the moon and was banished back to the trunk with a fond, “That’s quite enough, Draco.”
“You have to admit, it was brilliant.”
Lupin rolled his eyes, but he was smiling. “You are far too young to have such thoughts.”
“I suppose you had none at all in your pure Hogwarts days.”
“Absolutely none,” Lupin replied with mock seriousness.
Draco turned to leave, realizing that he had worn out any excuse he had to stay. But then turned and asked, “Did what you had at Hogwarts last?”
Lupin didn’t have to ask him to clarify. “No.” He looked sad, for a moment, but not distant, as if this was a memory that had been jabbing at him recently. “Sixth and seventh year were bliss to me. Such a naughty, glorious secret we had. But he didn’t turn out to be the person that I had thought. Not at all in fact.” Again, the look of a fresh wound. Draco found that surprisingly he didn’t want to press it.
Lupin nodded. “Thank you. I know that you will find yours too, Draco. And you are nothing like your father.”
Draco wasn’t totally sure where the connection there was, but realized that he was fighting the urge to run to Lupin and throw his arms around him with all of his might.
“Thank you,” he said.
They were both surprised by this answer.
As Draco turned quickly to leave before he could say anything else he heard Lupin call after him, “I know it’s going to be hard for you sometimes Draco. If you need to talk again, my office is open.”
Something inside Draco swelled up, but he knew that this was not the time. He placed his hand firmly on the doorknob. “You know that I won’t,” he said without turning around.
“I know,” he could hear the smile in Lupin’s voice.
“I’m going to go out there and remember who I am and how absurd it was that you forced me to take this one-on-one lesson, and then I’m going to owl my father about how unfair, uncouth and skint you are, how this school is going to the dogs and how terribly superior and important I am.”
“I think it’s extremely important that you have this moment of clarity,” Lupin said very seriously.
Draco dared a look back as he turned the knob and was unsurprised to find a very Slytherin smirk reserved just for him, one that he returned full force. “Thanks, Professor.”
And with that, he was gone. Striding through the halls at full speed he realized that it was just past midnight. The smile was gone from his face and his stomach had just twisted up into a strange, painful knot. He could definitely not go back to that office.
“Bloody fucking Hell, Malfoy, what did Lupin do to you?” Blaise laughed when Draco finally made it to his dormitory. “I was beginning to think he’d decided to make you suck him off after that comment about him and Potter.”
Draco’s smirk only wavered for a split second. “Not at all. Detention was nothing. Met a dizzy, blonde Ravenclaw behind the statue of Melvin the Morose on the way back.”
Immediately it became clear that not one Slytherin boy was actually asleep and instantly they were jetting up in their beds waiting for details. Draco dove into his bed and drew the curtains, calling out very loud silencing charms and wards. He could hear mutters of disappointment and a muffled, “He’s full of it.”
He sighed in relief. Hopefully no one would press him on that little fabrication or he would have to get Lupin’s suggested charade going sooner than he had thought. He lay back and tried to sleep, but his mind was still spinning from the events of the evening. He curled up on his side and tried to put himself in the one place where he had ever felt really relaxed, in his bed at home with his mother rubbing his back. It was something she hadn’t done since he was very young, his father had seen to that, but it was always the image he relied on before sleep. After a moment, he realized with a sigh that there was finally a different pair of arms that he wanted around him, and he closed his eyes, pulling himself back to that brief warmth, the smell of skin, and outside after the rain. He finally fell asleep with a vision of two honey-coloured eyed staring into his.
True to his word, for the rest of the school year, Draco never did return to Lupin’s office, no matter how much he wanted to. He knew full well that the comfort offered there was not the comfort that he wanted from the man, and he brought himself off every night with a little cry of frustration, thinking about warm strong hands that would know exactly how to touch him. But they wouldn’t do it of course. Not in a million years. He wondered if his Boggart had changed.
Defense Against the Dark Arts was Hell now. It became his new charade, heterosexuality having been pushed to the back of his mind. He still made his comments, but they lacked venom. He was too focused on the quiet beauty exuded by his shabby professor. If his classmates noticed any change in his attitude, they said nothing. Likely because he more than made up for it in his other classes, particularly Care of Magical Creatures. Although gradually certain realizations struck him, and his sympathy toward half-breeds grew.
“Professor Snape let it slip to us this morning at breakfast! I got here as soon as I could!”
Professor Lupin jumped as the door to his office was thrown open without so much as a knock.
“Well hello, Draco. I didn’t think I would be seeing you back here.”
He smiled, and took in the boy’s eyes darting around the room. “You’re packing.”
“Well I had already been informed of Professor Snape’s announcement, so I handed in my resignation this morning.”
“What?!” Draco squeaked. “That’s insane!”
“Not really. The owls from parents who do not want someone like me teaching their children will likely be arriving as soon as this time tomorrow.” He offered Draco a small smirk. “I would imagine that your father’s will be first in line.”
The boy did not smile. “I don’t want you to go.”
This stopped Remus short. His hand, full of a pile of books, hovered over an open trunk that had not contained a Boggart in a very long time. He knew that his one evening with Draco had really meant something to the boy, and to him as well if he was being honest. He had even noticed a slight change in the demeanor toward him. Slight meaning that the barbs held less venom and the worst insults were muttered only behind his back, but for Draco Malfoy, it was an improvement.
“Well thank you, Draco,” he said and dropped the books into the trunk. “I appreciate that sentiment. I’m sure you understand why it’s inevitable though. In all honesty I’m surprised that you aren’t alarmed yourself.”
“I knew,” Draco replied simply.
Again Lupin found himself frozen. “How? When?”
“Shortly after,” Draco waved his hand. Clarifying what “after” meant was unnecessary. “I saw the moon in your Boggart. And then I started to notice when you weren’t in class.” He stopped short, as if that was giving too much away.
“And this realization did not cause you any concern?” asked Lupin in disbelief. ‘With your prejudice against those of Muggle descent, I can hardly believe that,’ he wanted to add, but held himself back.
Draco shrugged. “I suppose that after what you told me that night, it didn’t seem like a really big deal.”
Remus quirked an eyebrow at him. “Yes, I can see how incurable lycanthropy pales in comparison to a preference for blokes.”
They shared a half-smile.
Unsure of why Draco was lingering in his office, Remus said, “Well Draco, thank you for coming to warn me about Professor Snape’s little announcement. I do appreciate it,” and moved as if to continue with his packing.
“Was it Sirius Black?” Draco had closed the door behind him and obviously had no intention of leaving. Remus stopped and gave him his full attention. “Was he the boy you met at Hogwarts?”
Remus blinked. “How did you know?”
“Snape once told us about how the two of you were close friends at school. I think he wanted us to believe that you had been helping him get into the castle. No one’s quite that daft though. I just remembered you saying that he didn’t turn out to be who you thought he was.”
So many months had passed, he was surprised that Draco remembered their conversation so well. “Well now you see what an understatement that was.”
He turned his back and grabbed something random to throw into the trunk, if only to hide his face. His acting skills had been stretched thin over the past day, but there had not been a moment his heart hadn’t been racing since he had discovered Sirius’ innocence. He was not so naive to think that the passion they had had as teenagers would have survived thirteen years apart, and a prison sentence to boot, but even the faintest glimmer of a chance felt like a road stretching out in front of him, and the sky looked brighter than it had for a long time.
“I wish I could do something.”
He turned his attention back to Draco. The boy looked genuinely miserable. ‘What a conundrum Lucius Malfoy has managed to produce,’ he thought, not for the first time. This strange, conflicted boy, whose ability to tread on those beneath him was already the stuff of Hogwarts legend, but who had stood here, quivering in this office, so unsure of himself that he could barely speak. By what twist of fate had he become the only one Draco could show weakness in front of? What bizarre thoughts had been batting around inside of this walking disaster’s head over the past few months? He resisted the urge to tell Draco once again that he did not have to be anything like his father.
“Again, I appreciate the offer,” he smiled kindly, “but I’m afraid there is not. A werewolf faces certain prejudices everywhere he goes. It’s just something one gets used to. I can’t say I can completely blame the parents. I am a potential danger to their children. We thought the situation was under control, but obviously it wasn’t. So it goes. Others who face similar prejudices do not have the same ‘monster’ justification though. Queers and Mudbloods for example.”
The faintest hint of a smile crossed Draco’s face. “Don’t make this about me.” And then he added, “You’re not a monster.”
Lupin nodded. “No, I suppose I’m not. Not right now anyway. Speaking of monsters and morality, did you not recently attempt to have a Hippogriff put to death, basically to alleviate your boredom?”
Draco shrugged and waved his hand dismissively. “It didn’t work, did it?”
Lupin sighed, but found himself smiling. ‘What am I going to do with you, Draco Malfoy?’
“Well Draco,” he held out his hand, intending to end this conversation, finish packing and sneak out of the school before too many similar scenes had a chance to play out. “I can’t say that it’s been entirely a pleasure teaching you, but it has certainly been interesting.”
That brought out the trademark smirk. Draco reached out and took his hand, but then paused, and rather than actually shaking it, squeezed it between his fingers, deep in thought. Remus waited.
Draco finally met his eyes. And cocked his head as if giving the invitation to dismiss his words before they were even out of his mouth. “I suppose it would be useless to ask you to make love to me.”
“What??” Remus found himself squawking and wrenching his hand free. He waited for the punch line, but apparently there wasn’t one.
Draco sighed. “I thought so. Bloody Gryffindor honour.”
“What if someone walked in here?” Remus demanded, not sure why that was the first protest out of eight billion possibilities that jumped to mind.
“You can ward the door?” Draco suggested.
Lupin shook his head in continued disbelief. “Absolutely not, Draco. I don’t think I need to list the reasons why, because that would take all day. What would put such an idea in your head?”
Draco deflated. “It’s all I can think about.”
Lupin took a deep breath, trying to regain some control of the situation, relieved at least, that Draco wasn’t going to push the issue.
“You’re thirteen years old. I’m old enough to be your father.”
“And?” Draco stared at the floor, obviously humiliated, but still there.
“And there is plenty of time for you to sift through a plethora of willing boys of more appropriate ages. Especially if you turn out to be as gorgeous as you claim you will.”
That got a small smile. “And if I say I’ve already found the one I want, and that I don’t care what bloody age he is, I suppose you’re going to say something very wise and condescending in response?”
“I’m sorry, Draco. I do understand how you might have come to feel that way. It’s probably natural after such an intense, confessional evening, to attach certain emotions to the person with whom you shared the experience, but I can assure you that I’m not interested.” He said the last words with a smile, in hopes that it would ease the sting. “Was that condescending enough for you?”
Draco ignored him. “You’re the only one who’s ever been able to comfort me,” he said softly. It was obvious that he knew the hope was gone, but he still wanted to cling to it.
“I am flattered Draco, but I don’t think that when your father told you to find the one who could comfort you, that he meant there could only be one.”
Draco met his eyes. “I think you’re wrong.” He paused and then added, “I can wait until I’m seventeen if that’s what’s offending your Gryffindor conscience.”
Lupin shook his head. “I promise you that in a few months you will have forgotten all about this, and that in the next few years you will have had so many ‘loves’ you won’t even be able to count them. You won’t be wasting two minutes waiting for me.”
“Oh, I didn’t mean that I would be waiting for you in that sense,” Draco had his smirk back suddenly. “This is the only offer of my sacred innocence you’re ever going to get. By the time I graduate I’ll have shagged the whole male population of the school and probably some of the females out of boredom alone.”
“Glad to hear it?” Lupin snorted.
“But I will find you.”
The seriousness of the comment threw Remus even more than the total absurdity of this whole situation. He shook his head, stunned. “You’re going to look back on this and laugh in a few months, Draco.”
“It’s okay,” Draco said, and there was an eerie flash of someone beyond his years in his eyes. “You don’t have to believe me right now.”
And before Remus could do anything at all, Draco had crossed the room, taken his face in his hands and covered his mouth with his own. It was somewhat clumsy, and so obviously Draco’s first kiss that Remus was frozen to the spot, unwilling to push him away. He shivered as Draco’s lips gently caressed his still mouth. A tongue stroked his bottom lip.
When he finally pulled back, Draco Malfoy looked much much more like Draco Malfoy than he had since he’d walked through the door. Trademark smirk in place, superior air in full force.
“And here Professor Snape always complains that you’re so damned unflappable. Goodbye, Professor Lupin.”
And with that, he marched out of the office and left the door wide open, so that if anyone had walked by they would have seen an extremely bemused former DADA instructor, clinging to the edge of his trunk for support with his mouth hanging wide open, and looking thoroughly flapped indeed. After a moment, he pushed himself up, righted his clothing, and tried to pull himself together and finish with the packing. He glanced at the Marauder’s Map, lying open and forgotten on the desk beside him. The name Harry Potter was fast approaching. He supposed that everyone probably knew by now. He summoned almost everything into his luggage as fast as he could and then leaned over his desk with a ragged breath. ‘This has been the strangest afternoon of my entire life,’ he decided.
Harry knocked lightly on the door.
“I saw you coming,” he said with a forced smile.
He appreciated Harry’s concern, but he really didn’t need this right now. He reminded himself to count his blessings though. Harry’s visit could have come five minutes earlier.
‘He will forget’.
Draco Malfoy did not forget.
As he had promised, he went about his life exactly has he had intended, only falling asleep to the thought of golden eyes every night. He wished more than anything that he could owl Lupin after the glorious uproar when Parkinson caught him in the act with a fiery, redheaded Ravenclaw named Alice Blunt. And when he finally got his wish at the start of sixth year and found himself buried balls deep inside Blaise Zabini for the first time, he howled at the moon, knowing full well what night it was. His sudden intimate knowledge of lunar cycles went unnoticed, but he was always aware, at least in the back of his mind when the time came, and wondered where Lupin was. If he was safe. That same year he balanced the dreadful task with which he had been assigned, with the knowledge that its completion would surely bring about the end of whatever pathetic fantasy he was holding on to.
He had promised to wait until he was seventeen, but in the aftermath of the final battle, as he awaited trial and possibly Azkaban, he knew that his name had suffered too much for a pursuit of that magnitude. His hope did not die though. That night was the first time he had seen Remus Lupin since third year. Haggard, scarred both physically and emotionally, but still beautiful in his quiet way. Still a beacon of warmth in the midst of the darkest days of Draco’s life. He would continue to wait. Forever if necessary.
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