Fic: Forgiveness, pt. 1 (Draco/Blaise, NC-17) for furiosity Author:mr_mercutio Recipient:furiosity Title: Forgiveness, or, How Draco Malfoy Decided That Change Wasn't All That Bad Really Rating: NC-17 Pairing(s): Draco/Blaise Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended. All characters engaging in sexual activity are 16 years or older. Summary: After the funeral of Blaise Zabini's mother, Draco finds that it's up to him to help Blaise come to terms with how things have changed, and in doing so, learn to deal with change himself. Warnings: plot, explicit m/m sex, frottage, oral, anal, alcohol use, politics Word Count: ~13,500 Author's Notes: So this is for furiosity, as a thank you for being a pinch-hitter for this fest. There is a lot of speculation about how Pureblood society works here, and I hope that this doesn't put you off. Thank you to the mods and to my beta for your extremely good-natured patience. Also, the forgiveness line of the title is partly begging your forgiveness for the awfulness that is the title itself.
Forgiveness, or, How Draco Malfoy Decided That Change Wasn't All That Bad Really
Draco Malfoy hates funerals.
It used to be that funerals were a good time, in their own special way. Mother Britain would so obligingly provide a perfect pathetic fallacy in its perpetual gloomy weather, and he always appreciated how the sky would open up and weep right along with the bereaved. Everyone would get together and huddle in the damp around a grave and there'd be this sense of belonging that so rarely happened amongst the Purebloods. Everyone respected funerals, because it meant that another one of them was gone, that the precious pool of their exalted blood had dwindled just a little bit more. It was enough to make ancient rivals put aside feuds and politics for just a little while, so that they could pretend to be the powerful, universal family that they remembered from the good old days. Draco had loved that. All his friends would be at the funeral, and all their parents, and it was like the world couldn't touch them.
Father was always so excited after a funeral. It stoked the coals of his fervour to unite the old families and retake the government, cast out the wretched Mudbloods and restore the world to its proper place. He'd make the rounds to all the old crumbling manor houses, give stirring speeches to the crusty dowagers and patriarchs, his noble blood afire with purpose. That would last for a week or two before he settled back into his usual sedate routine of prodding at Fudge to slowly shift the law in his favour, but those short weeks were what Draco sometimes lived for. The passion he would see in Father was infectious; it made him proud of his heritage, made him want to be a better Malfoy.
Those were the good old days for Draco, even though he knew that they couldn't possibly compare to those his parents remembered. His family was more than just Mother and Father and crazy aunt Bellatrix then; it was Pansy and her family, Theo and his father, the Crabbes and Goyles, the snooty Greengrasses, and even that crazy Zabini lady and Blaise. It was a hundred people, and they all cared about each other, even if only for the time they crowded in the graveyard.
Then the Dark Lord just had to come back and wreck everything.
These days, funerals are just a reminder that nothing will ever be the same again. Father can't come because he's locked up in the "new" Azkaban, the so-called progressive Dementor-free prison that the Ministry and the Muggleborn are so proud of. And they, the Mudbloods, are always crawling all over the place. They love to show up at any funeral, to show support and solidarity as the government works so hard to "mend bridges" and bring them all together. Not to mention the damn weather. Ever since most of the Dementors were killed off it is like Britain has become a bloody seaside resort. It is always sunny and warm, the perfect weather for a picnic every day. Apparently it's had the Muggles up in arms screaming about globular warning and tacky plate shifting and other nonsense, but the wizards know that it is just because the Dementors aren't around anymore to make England the dreary place she is meant to be. So of course the world can't oblige him to be even a tiny bit damp the day of Isabella Zabini's funeral.
"Draco." He turns and smiles softly at Mother, who has covered her hair and face with a grey veil for the occasion. They are standing at her mother's grave, a small but beautiful granite stone with etchings of leaves forever falling from the top of the stone to the bottom. "I think it's starting," she continues. "We'd best stop dawdling and join the others, or people will talk about how late we are." He nods and offers her his arm, and they wander over to join the funeral party.
The cemetery upon which the sun shines so merrily is a very secluded little place that has been used by the First Families for centuries. Draco wonders whose family plot the Zabinis had bought for their own use, since Isabella is the first of her clan to be buried in England. To be sure there must have been plenty of families with a surplus of grave space and not much else who would be more than thrilled to sell, and the Zabinis are certainly the wealthiest family left in Britain after the war. Looking at the grand tomb she'd had constructed for herself one might never know that she hadn't owned the entire graveyard, it was so huge and imposing. The artisans who'd carved the stone had used their magic to make it look just age-worn enough to give the impression that it has stood just as long as the other, older tombs that dot the cemetery. A marble angel stands just over the doors, her arms held out wide as though to embrace the entire world; whether to protect or possess it is unclear. The look on its face is entirely ambiguous as it slowly moves its head to observe the small crowd gathered around it.
The death of Isabella has drawn out quite the gathering. All the remaining Families are there in force, at least the ones with enough members that aren't in prison, and a surprising number of middle class and Muggleborn have shown up as well. Isabella had been known for her generous contributions to post-war charities in the last six years, but Draco hadn't realized that she'd given enough away to become this popular. A few famous faces have put in appearances as well, enough that Rita Skeeter has shown up and started snapping photos as her green quill furiously scribbles on some parchment hanging in the air behind her.
Standing near the back of the crowd is old McGonagall, leaning on a cane and glaring at anyone who offers to support her. Near her is Horace Slughorn, weeping vociferously and propped up by three strong young lads who take it in turns to wipe away his tears with identical handkerchiefs. For some unfathomable reason the Weasley matriarch and her husband have shown up, though they look distinctly uncomfortable surrounded by so many families that hate them. Cornelius Fudge is another surprising face to see, as the former minister was now quite the recluse and has rarely ventured out since he was voted out of office.
The final surprise for many people is to see Kingsley Shacklebolt, Minister for Magic and widower of the deceased, standing alive and well next to the shrouded casket and looking devastated. According to gossip, there'd been a pool going on how long he would last as the latest Mr. Zabini, which was won by the surviving Weasley twin who'd bet on the incredibly unlikely circumstance of him outliving his wife. Draco sniffs a little in derision at the thought of the bet, secretly glad he didn't go in with Pansy on her wager of four days.
Next to the minister stands Blaise.
Draco watches with mild interest as Shacklebolt tries to lay a consoling hand on Blaise's shoulder. It isn't that Blaise shrugs it off or flinches, but Shacklebolt stops just before his fingers can rest on the fabric of Blaise's robes, and then pulls back. There is no other exchange between the two, and then the Minister shakes his head and walks away, leaving Blaise standing alone in the crowd.
Draco hasn't seen Blaise since the night Dumbledore died, not in person. He and his mother went into hiding when the war stepped up and the Dark Lord started demanding the loyalties of all the First Families, even the few who didn't want anything to do with him. Isabella and her aunt had been fence sitters during the last war with Voldemort, and she'd very publicly announced her intention to remain the same after the Ministry acknowledged Voldemort's return. For the entire war no one saw hide or hair of either Zabini, and then they showed up the day after the Battle of Hogwarts, offering money to the hordes of disenfranchised, Pure and Mudblood alike. Most of the Families were desperate at that point for help since their funds had been devastated first by the war itself and then by the reparations demanded by the new Ministry. Even Mother eventually swallowed her pride and went to Isabella for help when money became so tight they were afraid they'd have to sell the Manor.
One might think that with the interaction between their mothers that he and Blaise would have seen each other at least once or twice, but Mother was so insistent that Draco return to Hogwarts to help out with the reconstruction. Their image, she said, needed whatever bolstering it could get, and so Draco spent two years helping restore the complex system of spells and architecture that held the school together. Meanwhile Blaise was traveling around the country with Isabella, tutored by various wizards in his free time, and he eventually went to Beauxbatons to sit his NEWTS.
Blaise looks much the same as he did in sixth year, Draco reflects: tall, haughty, and a disturbing kind of pretty that suggests both youth and maturity at once. He looks like his mother, minus the woman bits of course. He is dressed in simple black robes and his gaze never wavers from the casket.
Mother coughs a little, drawing Draco's eyes back to her. She nods at Shacklebolt, who is clearly making ready to give a speech.
"Thank you all for coming," the Minister says, standing in front of the doors of the tomb. "As you know, we're gathered today to mourn the passing of Isabella Morgana Zabini Shacklebolt-" Blaise murmurs something inaudible, and Shacklebolt grimaces a little. "Née Locklore Josiah MacDuff Sawwan St. Clair van Ewingthorne de Leoncouer," he adds quickly, and a tiny chuckle weaves through a few of the people listening. Blaise murmurs again. "Of the Most Noble House of Zabini," concludes Shacklebolt, casting an aggrieved glance back at his stepson, who still keeps his gaze steadily on the coffin. Shacklebolt sighs and returns to his eulogy.
"Isabella was a great woman. I only had the honour of knowing her personally for the last six years, and of being her husband for the last three, but I feel as though I knew her as well as any man ever could." He gives a stern glare to the crowd in general, daring anyone to laugh or speak. No one does. "Nevertheless, I am at a loss right now to try to do justice to her life." Shacklebolt pauses, and in that moment Draco can believe that the man actually truly loved Isabella Zabini. He genuinely looks saddened by his loss. "She was remarkable," continues the minister. "That's all I really can say. If anyone else would like to say a few words they may, and then, as tradition dictates, Isabella's surviving heir, her son Blaise, will perform the final rites."
A few people do come to the front to speak, and Draco lets their words wash over him, not really listening. There is a lot of gushing about generosity and never being able to repay debts, about nobility and graciousness and other platitudes. Slughorn goes on for at least twenty minutes about how wonderful she was as a student and a friend and a protégée, sobbing the entire time and clinging to his three boy toys who look only mildly exasperated. McGonagall mutters something short about honour and then limps to the back of the crowd again.
Then Mother steps forward. There is a ripple of consternation among some of the Muggleborn when they realize it is the Malfoy woman, but a fierce look from Shacklebolt silences them. Draco can see the tiniest hint of a smirk under Mother's veil at that, and then she begins to speak.
"Isabella Zabini exemplified that which was good to the Families," she says, her quiet voice carrying through the graveyard on the waves of a small spell. "She believed in tradition and was willing to fight for that, but she also was a practical and intelligent woman who knew which way the wind was blowing. She adapted herself to the times while still holding on to that which made us who we are, our heritage and culture. In times such as these, we need women like her. Women who are not afraid to stand up for their beliefs and who would not submit to anyone who said otherwise, but who are intelligent enough to still find a place in the world of today." She rests a gloved hand on the casket. "I will miss Isabella greatly. I fear our world is smaller for her loss."
She turns away from the coffin and glides over to Blaise, murmuring something to him and touching his arm. He nods stiffly, not replying, and she returns to Draco's side. There is a long moment of uncertainty as everyone glances at each other, wondering what exactly to do next, and then Blaise draws out his wand and advances on the coffin, staring it down as though it is an adversary in a duel. Standing behind the head, he closes his eyes. Draco can see his lips moving almost imperceptibly, like he is reciting something in his mind. When Blaise opens his eyes again, there is a glaze over them, and he speaks in a soft monotone.
"Isabella Morgana Zabini," he says, "of the Most Noble House of Zabini. Daughter of Pedro Giovanni Angelo Zabini il Corvo, Patriarch of the Most Noble House of Zabini. Born in Florence, Italy. Died in Somerset, England. Mother of Blaise Alessandro Mordred Zabini. Your family mourns your passing and commends your soul to your ancestors. Continue to grant us your guidance though you are no longer with us in body. May you find peace in your rest. As is tradition, your remains will be cremated and then laid to rest." All of this is spoken impassively, by rote, but then Blaise's lips twitch a little, and he adds, "Goodbye, Mother."
The Purebloods step away from the coffin, knowing what is coming next, and after a moment of hesitation the others follow. Blaise taps it once with his wand and whispers the spell. Flames erupt on all sides of the coffin, confined to the small stone slab it rests upon. Fuelled by the magic, they quickly begin to consume it, the shroud disintegrating first. Everyone watches in silence until all that remains is a black pile of ash, which Blaise spells into an urn that he has conjured. The doors of the tomb open themselves and he goes inside to lay the urn in the alcove that has been built for it.
Usually there would be a salon after the funeral for the guests to gather and talk about the deceased, but neither Blaise nor Shacklebolt have mentioned one to anyone, and so the mourners begin to disperse, moving in small groups to the gates of the cemetery. The old magic from so many wizard tombs makes Apparition tricky, and it is generally considered rude at any rate to just come and go as one pleases around the graves. Draco turns to start heading to the gate, but Narcissa lays a hand on his shoulder.
"Wait," she murmurs. "I want to see something."
Shacklebolt has also remained behind, waiting at the entrance of the tomb for Blaise. It takes a long while until Blaise emerges from the darkness. There are tracks of dust on his robes just over his knees, as though he has been kneeling in the dirt, and his face is still like stone.
"Let's go home," Shacklebolt says quietly to him. Draco can barely make out the words, but Mother is watching them intently.
Blaise casts a disdainful glance at the Minister before looking away. "Thank you, but I'll be going back to the Manor now that Mother is gone," he declares, his voice brittle and stiff.
"You shouldn't be alone," argues Shacklebolt. "She wouldn't want you to be alone."
"The manor is part of my inheritance, and I will be living there now. I've already had the elves pack my things and move them there. Thank you for your hospitality while I stayed with you, but it is no longer necessary."
Before Blaise can start to walk away, Shacklebolt grabs his arm, and Blaise hurls a glare like a whip at him. "Damn it, Blaise, just because she's gone doesn't mean you're not still my family."
"If I might interrupt, gentlemen."
Draco is astonished to see Mother has left his side and intruded on the conversation. Perhaps not a moment too soon, he realizes, seeing the livid expression on Blaise's face. He hurries after her as she steps between the Minister and his stepson.
"Mrs. Malfoy," growls Shacklebolt. "Now is not –"
"Terribly sorry for intruding," she continues, her silky voice insinuating between the man's words and cutting him off. "I was just so close to Isabella, and I know that you and my Draco were good friends in school, weren't you Blaise?" She glances at Draco, who nods at Blaise. After a second the nod is returned. "A time like this is of course most upsetting, and sometimes we say and do things that we don't necessarily mean, as I trust you both understand. It is my experience that, after a loss like this, it is best to spend some time away to reflect and come to terms with what has happened, perhaps with an old friend. I thought I might invite you, Blaise, to spend some time with Draco at Malfoy Manor. I was greatly indebted to Isabella, and it would honour us both if you would share our home for a time."
Both Shacklebolt and Blaise stare at her in suspicion, but the polite smile on Narcissa's face does not falter. The minister grumbles and turns to Blaise, saying, "I still think it would be better if you came with me. Isabella would –"
"Thank you, Mrs. Malfoy, I accept," snaps Blaise, pointedly turning his face from Shacklebolt's. "If you'll allow me to just gather a few things from the manor, I will meet you at your home."
Narcissa nods, and Blaise stalks away from them, shaking his wand out of his sleeve as he goes. As soon as he reaches the gate he vanishes from sight.
"You had no right," the Minister bites out.
"He wouldn't have stayed with you anyway," replies Narcissa, shrugging apologetically. "He's too angry right now, Minister. This way, he won't be alone, and he can work out some of that anger without laying it all on your shoulders. If you really want to keep a relationship with him, you'll need to give him time."
Shacklebolt looks as though he would like to argue, but then he squares his shoulders and nods in assent. He and Narcissa exchange a few pleasantries before he takes his leave, sweeping out of the cemetery.
"What are you up to, Mother?" asks Draco.
She smiles at him and pats his cheek. "You'll see."
Dinner that evening is something less than a success, in Draco's opinion. Malfoy Manor is even more cavernous now that Father is gone, and the dining table feels too long for idle conversation without him sitting at the head, directing the flow of talk. Mother does her best to take the reins, but neither she nor Draco wants to be the first to sit in what had been Lucius' place of honour, and so it has sat empty these past six years. Usually she and Draco dine in a smaller, more intimate room, but Mother thought it would be nice to use every formality with Blaise staying with them.
They spend most of the meal in silence, punctuated every so often by Narcissa asking a question and Blaise giving a short answer. The snatches of speech make the quiet that much more oppressive, and as soon as the dessert is finished off Blaise excuses himself and retires to the room that had been prepared for him.
"I'm not really sure how this is supposed to be helping, Mother," remarks Draco, prodding at the remains of his pudding with a spoon. "To be honest, I haven't seen Zabini in, what, seven years? I don't think he's all that keen on spending time with me, and I don't really know why you'd want him to."
Narcissa taps the rim of her glass once, and an elf materializes with a bottle of wine to fill it up. She takes a tiny sip, savouring it before answering. "If we'd let him alone, he would have blown up at Shacklebolt and gone off on his own."
"Draco, dear, use your head. Surely you see that it's in our best interest to keep Minister Shacklebolt happy in whatever way we can, especially in regards to his relationship with the Zabini clan." At Draco's blank look she sighs and takes another sip of her wine.
"I don't understand," protests Draco. "Shacklebolt isn't going to matter anymore, not once the election starts. Everyone knows that he's going to step down and let Weasley run unopposed." Narcissa simply raises an eyebrow at this. "What, you've heard otherwise?"
"There've been a few whispers." She toys with the glass, running her finger around the edge and listening to the crystalline ring. "The truth is, Draco, we'd be far better off if Shacklebolt ran again. He's the only one with enough clout right now to beat Arthur Weasley, and anyone is better than that blood traitor. We need him, and Blaise is the key."
Draco sits back in his chair, moodily staring at nothing in particular. It is true that Shacklebolt would be better for them than the old Weasley. The man is fair, at the very least, and while he hasn't done much during his reign as Minister to make things better for the Families he certainly hasn't come down on them nearly as badly as everyone had feared. But the gossip is that Shacklebolt is planning to step down when the election begins and let the Weasleys take power, and none of the Families expect the same kind of treatment from those blood traitors. "You think Zabini can convince him to run again," he states.
"That's my hope," replies Narcissa. "Shacklebolt clearly wants to be his father, and that's his weak spot. It makes him vulnerable to young Blaise."
Draco laughs a little, shaking his head. "Mother, you don't know Blaise Zabini. He went through two of Isabella's husbands when we were in school, and he hated both of them. If anyone ever wanted a father less than him, I don't know them."
"That's why you need to convince him that a father is a good thing to have."
The silence after that remark aches with pressure, the empty chair at the head of the table drawing both their gazes inexorably toward it. Draco's lips are pressed tight, his hand curled into a fist in his lap. "That's not very fair, Mother," he mutters.
"I know," she says.
"I don't even know how I'd go about bringing it up."
Her chair creaks as she rises and comes around the table to stand next to him. She rests her thin hand on his head, toying a little with his hair, and then she leans down to press a kiss against his forehead. "This is your future," she whispers. "You'll think of something. I have faith in that."
She snaps her fingers and the elf appears again, but before it can refill her glass she snatches the bottle from its bony hands. It curls its fingers once around the air, its mouth open as though to protest, and then it bows and vanishes again. Narcissa says nothing else, wandering out of the room with the bottle in hand, leaving Draco alone at the table with his thoughts.
Draco spends about an hour or so trying to come up with a cunning plan to convince Zabini to talk with Shacklebolt. After cycling through about ten convoluted plots which all end in either death, disgrace or disembowelment, or some combination of all three, it is eventually Mother's own preoccupation with her wine which gives Draco his stunningly unoriginal idea to just get Zabini smashed and go from there. He has a vague recollection from Hogwarts of Zabini preferring sweet things, so he raids Mother's hidden stash of Crystalbee's Rainbow-Flavoured Schnapps and heads to the wing where Blaise has ensconced himself.
It takes a moment after Draco knocks at the door before Blaise opens it a crack, staring out at him. From the state of his hair it's clear he's been lying in bed, and from the state of his eyes it's just as clear that he hasn't been sleeping.
"What is it, Malfoy?" he asks.
Draco holds up the shiny bottle of schnapps as an answer, raising an eyebrow questioningly. Blaise's gaze flits between the bottle and Draco's face, suspicious for a moment, and then he grunts in assent and steps back, opening the door the rest of the way.
"Thought you might still be awake," Draco remarks as he strides in, flopping into an armchair in the corner. "You know, you can sit down, I really don't mind," he drawls, seeing Blaise still standing stiffly by the door. Blaise scoffs a little but he does shut the door and join Draco, sitting opposite him. With a flourish of his wand, Draco conjures up two shotglasses and pours generous amounts of the liqueur into them. He passes one to Blaise and then lifts his own in salute before tossing it back. The taste of cherries hits his tongue and morphs into peaches as it slides down his throat.
Blaise sips experimentally at his glass, finds it to his liking and then downs the rest. "Thank you," he mutters after a moment. "You're right, I couldn't sleep."
"Don't mention it." Draco refills both their glasses. "I can't sleep tonight either, so we might as well suffer together."
"You don't have to do this. I'll be perfectly fine, you know."
Draco stifles a scoff with his drink. "I'm well aware of how you operate, Zabini," he says. "Just shut up and drink with me, alright? Mother has plenty of Crystalbee's stashed away around the Manor, so we might as well polish off some of it." Blaise almost smiles, and obediently takes another shot.
About half the bottle is whittled away as Draco prattles about nothing in particular, just wanting to fill the silence. He brings up Quidditch, even though he knows Blaise hates the sport, and for a moment it is like they are back in school in their dorm. Draco remembers many a night spent like this with Zabini and Theo Nott, who left at the end of the war and hasn't been heard from since.
"A lot has changed, hasn't it?" he mutters in the middle of a bout of silence. Blaise says nothing, and when Draco looks up at him he's curled up in the chair, a devastated look on his face. "I'm sorry," Draco blurts. "I didn't mean to… Merlin, I should just shut up."
"I hate it," whispers Blaise to his drink. "I knew she was going to die, I mean, we all knew. For years, really. But it doesn't make it any easier." Draco's not really sure what to do, so he leans forward to pour some more schnapps into Blaise's glass. It seems to help, as Blaise nods at him in thanks before downing it. They don't say much else that night.
Two thoughts press upon Draco's mind as he wakes up the next morning. The first is that Crystalbee should be executed for distilling poisons and inflicting them upon the unsuspecting public. The second is that he is in someone else's bed, with that someone else lying next to him. Slowly he cracks one eye open, curses whoever invented sunlight, and regards the rumpled black fabric encasing that someone's back in front of his face. It takes a moment before his brain can recall the exact events of the previous night, and then he realizes that the black-clad body must belong to Blaise Zabini. He groans a little, but can't find the energy to move.
"Why are you shouting?" Blaise's hoarse voice booms from across the bed at him.
Draco whimpers a little, pressing his face against Blaise's back to smother himself. "M'not shouting, you are," he moans. "Merlin, I should have made sure we had some hangover potion ready before I went through with my cunning plan."
"Your cunning plan was for us to get smashed and fall into bed together?" Blaise sounds both amused and aggrieved. "Very smooth, Malfoy."
Draco musters up what little power he can find to jab Blaise in the ribs as hard as possible. "Shut it. I'll have you know it was a brilliant plan. Got you to talk, didn't it?"
Several minutes of silence pass, then, "Thanks."
"Same time tonight then?"
It becomes a ritual over the next few weeks. They spend days doing whatever it is that idle young wizards are supposed to do. Narcissa attempts to keep them both busy, forcing them to play chess against her, read and discuss various books of poetry, or come with her to shop in Diagon Alley. Already there are posters up in various shop windows, exhorting them to vote for Arthur Weasley, "The Wizard's Wizard." Whenever Narcissa sees one of these she purses her lips and gives Draco a pointed look before dragging them away to some other venue.
One day they leave Blaise at the Manor and pay their monthly visit to Lucius. Draco has grown to hate the moments they spend in the new Azkaban. At first it was good to see Father, to know he was still alive, but the visits quickly became only reminders of everything that had changed, everything that Lucius had ceased to represent to Draco. He is no longer the proud, powerful man that Draco knew him to be, and now Draco doesn't know what he is. Broken, perhaps. Their visits are never eventful, and mostly consist of Narcissa relating gossip to Lucius while he sits and nods, and the usual promise of doing everything in their power to get him out. Draco wonders sometimes that if they were able to make good on that promise what they would even do. He is eager to get away from the prison and go back to the distraction of Blaise.
At night they meet up in Blaise's room with a bottle of whatever Draco has snagged from Mother. They sample brandies and ports, various Firewhiskies, a goblin wine that fairly explodes their heads moments after drinking it, and one bottle of particularly bad rum that Draco suspects must have been left behind by Aunt Bellatrix after one of her benders. Mother always said Aunt Bella had terrible taste.
Each night Blaise opens up a little more, and Draco is filled in on the last six years of his life. He hears about the exams at Beauxbatons, and how Blaise was being courted to work on experimental Arithmancy with various Unspeakables. He hears about the wedding to Shacklebolt, and how Isabella had confided in Blaise that he might be "the one." He hears about the revelation of her cancer, and how their year in hiding had exacerbated it to the point of being untreatable, even by the best Healers from the continent. He hears about the slow decline in Isabella's health, and how she had demanded that Blaise stay with her and Shacklebolt so she could have them both near her as her death got closer.
The stories wash out of Blaise like an unleashed flood as the nights go on, and each night they eventually pass out and wake up next to each other in the bed. The rhythm is nice, Draco decides. It feels good to know that someone else is still around, that they remember the way things used to be and miss them as much as him. Being next to Blaise in a bed feels good as well, which is something of a surprise to Draco. Half the time when he wakes up he's pressed against Blaise's back, their legs tangled up in a drunken mess, and his cock twitching in interest.
He hasn't thought much about men in that way, or even many women for that matter. There was no time or inclination during the war, and then for a long while afterward it was hard enough just holding his life together with only Mother to worry about, let alone another person. On the off chance that he had been interested it would have had to have been someone who wouldn't mind sleeping with a former Death Eater, which cut down prospects to just about nothing. The few fumbling times with Pansy weren't anything worth mentioning, nor was that time he got drunk with Astoria Greengrass after they ran into each other during the Hogwarts restoration. So he isn't sure whether it's just because it's a warm body next to him or if it's because Blaise is in possession of rather different bits than the others, but those few moments in the morning where they're pressed together are starting to get more and more heated. He's sure that Blaise must have noticed by now, but neither of them has said anything.
Then one night Blaise mentions the name Pierre as someone he had to leave when coming back to England from France, and Draco's interest is piqued.
"Oh la, Pierre," he drawls out over a glass of wine. "Just who is Pierre, Zabini? Your lover?"
"Ex-lover now," replies Blaise archly, and Draco chokes on a mouthful of wine. "Oh come on, Malfoy, as if you didn't know."
"I didn't!" Draco squawks indignantly.
Blaise gives him a look of utter disdain. "Well then you were possibly the only one who didn't. Honestly. I think even Crabbe and Goyle knew. They were always quick to give me and Theo space every now and then."
"You and Theo?!"
"Merlin, Malfoy, you really were blind back in school, weren't you?" Blaise laughs, and it's the first time that he's really, truly laughed since he came to stay at the Manor. "Yes, me and Theo. From fifth year on."
"How did I not know this?"
"You were a little preoccupied planning horrible death for one Harry Potter, weren't you?"
"Well what happened with the two of you?"
Blaise's face falls, and Draco wishes he could learn to keep his mouth shut. "He never forgave me for just disappearing after sixth year," he confesses. "I tried to make it up to him when Mother and I went back to Hogwarts, but he would have nothing of it. Told me where to go and then he disappeared. I haven't heard from him since."
The conversation falls flat, and so Draco pulls out a fresh bottle to fill the silence. They get considerably drunker before he musters up the courage to ask about Pierre again. "So, this Pierre fellow," he ventures. "What was he like?"
Blaise smirks a little and toys with his glass as he speaks. "Well, he was related to the Delacours, so he had a bit of Veela blood in him," he remarks. "Which made for a good time, let me tell you."
Draco leans forward in his chair. "Yeah?"
"You're awfully curious, Draco Malfoy, aren't you?" As Draco sputters, Blaise leans in as well, bringing their faces close together. "Why is that?" Not waiting for an answer, he reaches out to cup the back of Draco's head and closes his lips over Draco's. Draco opens his mouth almost reflexively, and he can taste the mixed flavours of the drinks that Blaise has had as his tongue slips against his own. It's a little awkward at first, kissing Zabini. Draco's never been with another man before, and the feel of the lips and contours of the face are subtly different, sculpted by a different artist than a woman's face.
"Do you want this?" whispers Blaise, his lips moving against Draco's, his eyes bright. "Don't say yes just because we're both drunk."
Draco doesn't reply, but presses in for another kiss. The second goes much better than the first, a little less teeth and a bit more tongue, and it's like a signal goes straight from Blaise's tongue down to Draco's groin. It's so much better than the sternly ignored arousals pressed against him in the morning, and it aches and throbs, demanding more.
"Thought you might be interested," Blaise continues, starting to lick and suck at Draco's neck as he whispers. "All these mornings in bed together, felt you pressed against me. Didn't want to assume though, didn't want to scare you off."
"Stop talking already, Zabini," hisses Draco, and Blaise pushes him back in the chair and climbs into his lap. They grind against each other as their mouths press together, sometimes gliding against skin to taste the sweat that quickly beads on them both. Draco isn't sure when his shirt disappears, but he fumbles to rip off Blaise's too, wanting to feel more of his hot skin. His hands seem to have minds of their own, endlessly fascinated with tracing complex meaningless patterns across Blaise's chest and back, over his shoulders and down to his arse.
Suddenly Blaise is sliding down off of him, and Draco wants to protest the loss of contact, air replacing the heat of flesh, but then he sees the look on Blaise's face. It is something like hunger mixed with determination, and if possible Draco feels even harder at the sight of it. Blaise's hands fumble at his trousers, the buttons and laces proving daunting to fingers made clumsy by drink. Draco damns the tailors who thought that laces made trousers more fashionable, and eagerly reaches down to help. Between the two of them they somehow manage to get them loosened enough to pull down over Draco's hips, and Blaise wastes no time in tugging down Draco's pants as well.
For the briefest of seconds the air is cool on his cock but then Blaise's mouth closes over him, and he tilts his head back and lets out a hoarse cry. His fingers close over Blaise's wavy hair, desperate to keep him there, afraid that if he doesn't hold him in place he'll stop and it feels far too good. It's nothing like with Pansy or Astoria, not in the slightest.
Blaise moans appreciatively around him, and Draco dimly registers that he has pulled out his own cock and begun stroking it as he sucks. Everything is fast and heated and clumsy, and even the drunken haze he swims in cannot dull how fantastic it is. His hips thrust up erratically, pressing deeper into the wet heat of Blaise's mouth, and he knows that he cannot last.
He tries to say something articulate to warn Blaise, but all that comes out of him is a strangled moan and he clings tightly to Blaise's hair. Blaise seems to swallow him even deeper as he spasms into his mouth, and Draco is transfixed by how Blaise's throat twitches as he drinks him down. Suddenly Blaise pulls off of him and tosses his head back, gasping as he brings himself off in a few short strokes, and then he collapses over Draco's lap.
They lie sprawled for long minutes, panting heavily and not even attempting to speak. Draco feels awash in a sense of euphoria, his whole body tingling as though it had just been hit with a cheering charm. "Wow," he whispers finally, and Blaise chuckles against his leg.
"C'mon." Blaise rises up and tugs Draco out of the chair, tumbling the short distance to the bed and collapsing into it. As they start to drift off Draco realizes that he doesn't usually remember how they end up in bed together, and hopes that sleep won't dim his memory the next morning. He wants to hold on to that sense of euphoria as long as he can.