Fic: Forgiveness, pt. 2 (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.
The morning is not heralded by sunlight pouring in through the window, but rather the patter of rain against the glass. Draco slowly comes to consciousness, his head not aching nearly as much as he'd expected it to. He wonders if he's perhaps developing a tolerance for drink that he hadn't had before. He opens his eyes and is greeted not by an expanse of fabric but by the smooth skin of Blaise's naked back, and the memory of the previous night is crystal clear in his mind. In his mind's eye he can see Blaise's mouth sliding over him again and again, and his cock comes to life in response, pressing hard into the warm crack of Blaise's arse.
He wants to start rocking against him, but uncertainty grabs at his brain. What if Blaise doesn't want to, now that they aren't drunk? Certainly he is queer, but that doesn't necessarily mean that he wants Draco in particular. He's still in grieving, isn't he? What if he was just grasping at something to make him feel better? Draco reels under the weight of these questions and so doesn't notice at first that Blaise is grinding his arse back against him.
"Malfoy," Blaise whispers. "You're not the only one hard here. Lend me a hand, would you?"
Draco jolts out of his reverie and berates himself. What is he, some teenage girl to be consumed with worry that he's been taken advantage of? Plenty of time to deal with things later if necessary. He reaches around and tentatively runs his hand down Blaise's stomach until it reaches his cock, which twitches as Draco's fingers brush against it. Draco slowly wraps his fingers around the shaft and marvels at how it feels at once both much the same and entirely different than his own.
Blaise murmurs in appreciation and places his own hand over Draco's, guiding it to stroke up and then down over his cock. As their hands glide together, Draco thrusts his own cock back and forth in the cradle of Blaise's arse. They move almost agonizingly slow, breathing hard and writhing against each other.
"D'you want to fuck me?" gasps Blaise, and before Draco can answer a sharp rap comes at the door. They freeze and stare at the door unbelievingly, and Draco prays to whatever god might be listening that they had the presence of mind to lock the door the previous night.
"Blaise, dear, are you awake?" Narcissa's voice glides under the door, a brisk tone of demand in it. "It's well past the time you should be up, and there's a man here calling on you."
Draco can feel Blaise's arousal rapidly deflate. "Just a moment, Mrs. Malfoy," he calls. "I just need to dress."
"We'll be in the parlour when you're ready."
Both Draco and Blaise listen intently, hoping to hear the rustle of Narcissa's skirts as she walks away, but it is too quiet to tell. After a moment passes, Blaise whispers, "Sorry. Guess we'll have to postpone that."
Draco laughs a little, his heart slowly unclenching as his terror subsides. "It's alright," he says, drawing his hand back. "I think the mood is killed now anyway."
They dress quickly and Blaise opens the door, peeking out to make sure that the corridor outside is empty. Once they're certain that Narcissa is not lurking around a corner waiting to pounce upon them and decry the corruption of her only son, they leave the room. Blaise goes first so they won't look as though they are coming down together, and Draco just hopes that Mother hasn't gone knocking on his door as well.
When Draco arrives at the parlour, Blaise is gravely shaking the hand of a portly man dressed in crisp black business robes. Narcissa is sitting on a sofa, pouring several cups of tea, and Draco knows that the matter must be important. She only ever serves guests herself if she's nervous or trying to make a good impression.
"Ah, Draco dear, there you are," she remarks, smiling at him. "I'm glad you're awake. I was worried you'd spend the entire day abed." The barest quirk of an eyebrow tells Draco that she knows everything, and he stifles a desperate groan. "This is Gerard Hawksworth. Mr. Hawksworth, my son Draco."
"Charmed," says Hawksworth, turning from Blaise to offer his hand to Draco. To his credit there is no hesitation as he reaches to shake a Death Eater's hand, and Draco knows that he must be someone who deals with the First Families often. "I'm the Zabinis' solicitor," he adds.
"The pleasure is mine," responds Draco, and they all sit down as Narcissa passes out the cups of tea. She and Hawksworth make a bit of idle smalltalk for a few moments until the man sets his cup down and pulls out his wand. He waves it and summons a satchel from across the room to him, which he sets upon his lap.
"Mr. Zabini," he says gravely. "I'm sorry to intrude upon the home of your friends like this, but we simply could not wait any longer to speak. I do wish you had responded to my Owls before now." Draco gives Blaise a sharp look. He hadn't known that any owls had arrived for Blaise over the last few weeks, and by the surprised expression on Mother's face, neither had she. Blaise says nothing, folding his hands in his lap and waiting for Hawksworth to continue. "As you know, much of your esteemed mother's estate had already been bequeathed to you before her death, and her will changes none of that. I have here the papers," he pulls out several sheaves of crisp vellum parchment, "that detail the assets left to you, which include all cash deposits in the Zabini vaults in the London branch of Gringotts, several accounts in various banks on the continent, varied investments that continue to draw profit in many different fields across the world, and of course the manor in Somerset and all the property surrounding it."
Draco almost lets out a low impressed whistle. He'd known that Isabella Zabini had been what some would call fabulously wealthy, but from the look of the thick piles of paper that Hawksworth was passing over to Blaise she'd been perhaps one of the richest witches in the entire world. The brief look of craving that Narcissa casts at the papers reminds Draco that they too, the Malfoys, had once had all the world at their fingertips. Not that they are by any means destitute now, especially after the generous loans from Isabella herself that helped stave off the Ministry's creditors, but they can no longer fondly imagine themselves the eminent power of wealth in Britain that they once were.
"There are various other artefacts and items of note to be sorted through," Hawksworth is continuing, "particularly various magical items of, shall we say, questionable provenance." He coughs delicately as he mentions the universal Pureblood euphemism for Dark magic artefacts. "Your mother and I of course made sure that everything was properly accounted for to ensure that there would be no cause for Ministry officials to feel the need to rummage through your possessions, but I still feel it would be prudent to quickly decide what is to be done with them, just to be sure that everything remains in its proper place.
"As well, Master Zabini, there is the matter of your mother's portrait."
"I don't want it woken up yet," Blaise says quickly. "Let her keep sleeping for now."
Hawksworth looks as though he would like to protest, but Narcissa gently clears her throat, and the man sighs and then nods. "I'll see to it, then.
"Finally, I have one item which Mistress Zabini asked me to deliver to you personally." Out of his satchel he produces a small wooden box, intricately carved with beautiful designs of vines and thorns. A tiny silver lock dangles over the lid. Hawksworth passes it over to Blaise, who studies it curiously. "This was Owled to me the day before her passing," he says quietly, "with specific instructions to deliver to you by hand after her death. Her letter to me indicated that the lock would open at your touch. I'm afraid I don't know what is contained inside."
They are all quiet as they watch Blaise stare at the tiny box in his hands. The same blank look that Draco remembers from the funeral turns his face to stone, and his fingers curl tightly around the box until the knuckles turn white. "If you'll excuse me," he mutters, standing abruptly and rushing out of the parlour.
Hawksworth sighs and neatly files the various papers back into his satchel. "I'm terribly sorry for intruding," he apologizes to Narcissa, "but Mistress Zabini was adamant that he receive that parcel quickly after her passing."
Narcissa assures him that he could have done nothing else, and then she sees him to the door. Draco sits still on the sofa, waiting for her to return. When she does, she sits next to him and takes up her teacup again, sipping quietly from it.
"Are you angry at me, Mother?" Draco asks her suddenly.
She sets down the cup and is silent for what feels like an eternity. When she looks up at Draco, there are hints of tears glistening in her eyes. "Oh dearest," she murmurs, drawing him into an embrace. "Of course not. I just want you to be happy, Draco, that's all. You know that's all I've ever wanted for you."
"Are you sure?"
She kisses his cheek fondly. "Yes. Just don't think you're getting out of producing an heir just because you're indulging in the love that dare not speak its name. You won't be the first Pureblood to have to find a way to balance love and duty, and you won't be the last, understand?" He nods, and she sighs, patting his hand. "I must admit, it's a clever way to get Blaise to trust you, dear."
"Mother!" Draco protests. "I… I'm not doing it because of that."
"Of course not," she says soothingly. "Just remember that time is starting to draw short. We need to convince Shacklebolt to announce his intentions to remain a candidate soon, or there won't be any point."
Draco frowns. "Isn't there some way we can do this without forcing Zabini to push our agenda?" he asks hesitantly. "I don't know if I feel right about this, Mother. He's still hurting from his mother's death, especially now with whatever's in that box reminding him she's gone."
"I'm afraid I can't think of anyone else who can convince Shacklebolt," Narcissa admits. "Some of the other Families have been working with me to petition him, but all they get is polite refusal to talk. Priscilla Parkinson says that he almost started to talk about it with her husband, but then that dreadful Granger girl showed up at the office and that was the end of that. He just seems so convinced that stepping aside is the right thing to do, and so he's not listening to anyone who says different. Blaise is the only chink in his armour I can find, Draco." She grips his hand tightly, a fierce look on her delicate face. "We have to take whatever advantages we can find, do you understand? No matter how uneasy you might feel. It's important for your future, Draco, and for Blaise's too, even if he doesn't want to admit it."
Draco takes his time making his way back to Blaise's chambers, unsure of whether he ought to intrude. A part of him argues that Blaise will want to be alone with whatever it is that his mother left for him, that he needs to deal with this on his own. The other part of Draco reminds himself that Blaise didn't open up and start talking about Isabella's death until Draco showed up to help him along. Eventually he decides to see if Blaise wants him around and at least give him the option to choose.
The door to Blaise's room stands open, and Draco peers inside. Blaise is sitting on the bed amidst the rumpled sheets, the tiny box in hand. Its lid is open, but Draco cannot see its contents. He coughs a little, and Blaise looks up, snapping the box shut as he does.
"So, what is it?" Draco asks, unsure of what else to say.
Blaise carefully sets the box aside on a table. "I really would rather not talk about it right now," he confesses quietly. "Alright?"
"Sure." Merlin, it's like that first night all over again, Draco thinks. He pads over to the bed and sits next to Blaise, fidgeting nervously. "Want me to go get a bottle of Crystalbee's?" he blurts out.
A surprised bark of laughter is pulled from Blaise at that, and he throws himself backwards to sprawl across the bed. "No," he says. "Just… could you just stay here with me for awhile, make me forget about this for now?"
"Alright," says Draco.
About ten awkward seconds go by before Blaise reaches up to tug Draco down atop him. "When I said make me forget about this," he whispers, "I meant by distracting me, Malfoy."
"Oh!" Draco feels a bit like an idiot, but then he grins down at Blaise and fumbles for his wand. He flicks it at the door, which shuts and locks itself, and then he sets it on the table next to the box. Blaise looks up at him expectantly, and so Draco lowers his head down to brush his lips against Blaise's. This kiss isn't like those of the previous night. Those were rushed and heated, full of scraping teeth and desperation. This is slow and languid, and it seems to take forever.
"Take off your shirt," murmurs Blaise after awhile, tugging at the hem of it. Draco sits up, straddled across Blaise's lap, and he moves to quickly pull his shirt over his head. "Slowly," Blaise adds. "I want to watch you do it."
Draco isn't particularly sure about doing some kind of striptease, but he does slow his movements down. It feels silly to be making a scene of just removing a shirt, and he's certain that he looks like a complete idiot doing it. Blaise watches intently though as the inches of Draco's skin are revealed from beneath the fabric, and the glint in his eyes tells Draco that however ridiculous he might feel, the show he's giving is working well to keep Zabini's mind off of other matters. It makes him feel powerful, to be able to encompass someone's attention so wholly.
Finally he is pulling the shirt over his head and tossing it aside, and he looks down at Blaise, whose eyes are fixed on his chest now. "Better?" Draco asks flippantly, his voice sliding into a drawl.
Blaise smirks at him and his fingers begin to toy with the buttons of his own shirt. "Take mine off too," he instructs, undoing just the top one to reveal his throat. Draco's mind flashes to the image of that throat pulsing as it swallows him down, and he eagerly begins to run his hands down the trail of buttons. When the last is undone he spreads the shirt aside to lay Blaise's smooth chest and stomach bare. On a whim he leans down and licks a stripe across the flat expanse, from Blaise's navel up to his nipples, and when he glances up at Blaise's face he sees that his eyes are wide and watching his every move.
"Like that, then?" Draco teases.
"If you fucking stop now, Malfoy, I might have to kill you," warns Blaise. Draco laughs then and moves as though to sit back up. Blaise grabs his hips and flips them over, landing with Draco on his back beneath him, and grins. Quickly he lowers his mouth to nip at Draco's ear, and whispers, "Alright then, my turn."
Slowly Blaise begins to lick and nip a meandering trail down Draco's body, exploring the skin over his collarbone and throat, examining every bare inch. It doesn't take long before Draco is writhing beneath his tongue, whining in the back of his throat for more. Blaise doesn't move any faster, though, tracing patterns of moisture over Draco's nipples as his fingers coast over his stomach, flirting with the sparse line of hair that leads down into Draco's trousers.
"Merlin, Zabini," Draco gasps. "Come on."
Blaise makes an amused sound against Draco's chest, not ceasing in his slow ministrations. "Did you want something, Malfoy?"
Draco thrusts his hips up, which collide with Blaise's stomach. "Stop being such a fucking tease," he snaps.
A chuckle vibrates against one of his nipples, drawing out another moan. "If you want something from me, all you have to do is ask."
Another few moments of agonizing pleasure go by before Draco finally begs, "My cock, please just touch my cock already."
"Since you ask so nicely." Blaise's long fingers dip into the waist of Draco's trousers and slide down to brush against the flushed length of his shaft, teasing along it until they wrap around it and give it one long stroke. Draco makes a choked groan, grinding into Blaise's hand and scrabbling to push his pants down. Blaise finally takes mercy on him and helps him remove them, tossing them aside to the floor after and quickly sitting up to shuck his own as well. He lies back down atop him and thrusts his own cock against Draco's, the two sliding tightly against each other trapped between their stomachs.
Their mouths come together quickly in a fierce kiss, tongues almost duelling each other in an attempt to get as close as possible. Draco feels as though they are sharing breath, in from his lungs and out into Blaise's, passing between them in hot fiery bursts that don't soothe a desire for more but enflame it. The want, the aching need is all that he knows in that moment as he thrusts against Blaise, and he is rapidly approaching the moment of release when Blaise pulls out of the kiss, stopping.
"What, what is it?" Draco asks in a daze. "Why did you stop?"
"Want more than this," Blaise mutters as he stretches a hand over to seize his wand. Draco can't imagine more in this moment, but he says nothing and just watches as Blaise reaches his wand around behind himself and mutters a spell. He then sets the wand aside again and sits up the rest of the way, his legs astride Draco's hips. "You'll love this," he promises as he positions the tip of Draco's cock beneath him and slowly begins to sink down Draco's shaft.
"Oh fuck!" Draco cries out as he feels his cock slide slowly inside Blaise. It's so tight, tighter than anything he can imagine, almost impossibly so, and yet he is being pushed deeper and deeper. His hands grip at Blaise's waist and he wants so badly to pump up and as deep as he can, but he struggles to control himself. The look of vague discomfort and concentration on Blaise's face worries him a little. "Are you alright?" he whispers.
Blaise nods, saying nothing, and continues to edge his way down. Time seems to warp around the moment, and it feels like an eternity until he is all the way down, completely engulfing Draco inside him. He shifts around a bit, breathing deeply, and then he nods again. "You're so deep in me," he whispers.
"You're so tight," replies Draco, hesitant to move. Blaise makes the first motion then, pulling up just a fraction before setting back down, and it sends tingles through every part of Draco. "Oh yes!" he gasps. "Oh do that again."
Blaise grins then and rotates his hips a little, clearly enjoying the expressions playing over Draco's face. "Fuck, Malfoy," he mutters, leaning forward and bracing himself. "I always wondered what it would be like with you."
"Yeah?" Draco pumps his hips up then and Blaise moans. "You liking it then?"
In response Blaise covers his mouth in a kiss, and they start to rock together in a shaky rhythm, Draco pushing up and Blaise pressing down. They whisper nonsense to each other as they move, hissed words about how good it all feels, how tight it is, move faster, touch me there, do that again. Draco isn't sure when it happens, but at some point they've flipped on the bed, and he has Blaise's legs up over his shoulders and is driving him hard into the mattress.
"Fuck, Malfoy," Blaise moans. "Harder, fuck me harder."
Draco moves without thought, just intent upon the drive of flesh into flesh, and the heat begins to boil in him, rising from his stomach and through his whole body. He yells something incoherent and thrusts one final time into Blaise, his back arching as he pulses again and again inside him. He registers on some level Blaise's hand sliding over his own cock once and then again, bringing himself off with a cry as well.
They collapse against each other in a shuddering heap, the smells of sweat and sex mingling around them and the sodden sheets. Draco starts to laugh then, for no reason he can discern. Blaise opens one eye to look at him disbelievingly, which makes Draco laugh only harder. "I'm sorry, I don't know why," he babbles, "it just feels so good." Blaise snorts a bit but smiles and pulls him closer.
Three days go by without Blaise mentioning the box left to him by Isabella. Draco sees him sometimes staring into its contents, but he never seems to do more than that, always closing it carefully and putting it away afterwards. Clearly it's something important, and Draco wonders whether he should try bringing it up again or just wait for Blaise to broach the subject on his own.
Mother seems to be growing more anxious every day. The Prophet announced a fundraiser for Arthur Weasley's campaign, with an editorial piece about the anticipated future under Weasley leadership gushing about how a fresh new government would finally start to break down the old barriers of tradition and embrace a lifestyle that celebrated connections with the Muggle world. Of course this spawned huge debates that were the only topic of conversation in the pubs and cafes of Diagon Alley, and each shopping trip taken there serves only to press upon Draco that they have little time left to convince Blaise to convince Shacklebolt to run against Weasley.
"You have to stop stalling," Mother hisses to him once as Blaise is buying ice cream from Fortescue's. "I know you don't like it, Draco, but Shacklebolt still has not stepped up on his own. You have a better chance than I at convincing Blaise to speak with him, but if you won't do it then I'll have to try myself."
"No, Mother," Draco replies. "I'll do it. I will."
That night he lies in his own bed, wondering desperately how to bring it up. How is he to mention fathers when he can barely bring himself to visit his own living one? Blaise would accuse him of hypocrisy, and Draco isn't sure that he could disagree. Every visit with Father only makes Draco happier that they don't have him around now, not with the way that he's changed. It would be worse than his absence, having to make him fit into their lives that don't need him anymore. He doesn't want it. How can he lie to Blaise and say that it's everything to him?
He is about to get up and go try to say something to Blaise when a knock comes at his door. "Draco? Can I come in?" He rises and opens the door. Blaise is standing there, his hands clenched around the box tightly. Silently they sit down together, and Blaise pushes the box into Draco's hands. "I can't do it on my own," he whispers. "I've been trying, and it's too hard."
The silver lock is gone, so Draco swings open the lid. The inside of the box is padded with velvet, and sitting amidst the cushioning is a tiny bottle containing a swirling silver fluid. Draco recognizes it as a memory stored for a Pensieve.
"Is it one of hers?" he asks.
Blaise shrugs. "I don't know," he confesses. "I haven't looked at it yet."
"Do you want me to do it with you?" Draco holds his breath, not knowing if this is something Blaise needs or wants, but wanting to help in some way. He can't imagine what he would do if the situation was reversed and it was Mother's memory.
Blaise looks unsure, but then he nods swiftly. "Yeah, but now, before I lose my nerve," he says.
They go to Father's old study, which no one has been into since the Aurors did an audit of the house after Father's second arrest. Many of the artefacts were taken away, including over half of the library, but the old stone Pensieve is still in the corner. They stand around it and glance at each other.
"I've never done this before," admits Blaise.
"I have," Draco says. "Once." He takes the bottle and gently pulls out the cork. The memory flows like moonlight and smoke and mercury into the stone, roiling and swirling about with little flashes of images bubbling to the surface. "We just... lean in."
It feels as though they tumble through nothing for an eternity that is as brief as a thought, and then they are in the memory. Draco doesn't recognize the room they find themselves in, but Blaise clearly does. It is a sumptuously appointed chamber, a fire roaring in a huge hearth near a large bed, which someone appears to be sleeping in. Draco draws closer and realizes that it's Blaise himself in the bed. He doesn't look any younger than he does now, so the memory cannot be that old, but he does look exhausted and haggard, much as he did at the funeral.
The door to the room swings open and Isabella Zabini comes in. Draco had met her before, but hadn't seen her in person for years before the funeral. She is still an imposing figure, tall and dark and ageless, but she too looks worn out like her son. She is wrapped in a beautiful dressing robe and her hair is pulled back in a simple braid, and she looks as though she were prepared for bed.
The Blaise in the bed does not wake, but the Blaise of the now draws over to his mother, reaching out a hand to try to touch her. It flows through her image like through fog, and Blaise looks devastated, though not surprised. Isabella slides over to the bed and sits down next to the sleeping Blaise, running her fingers through his hair.
"I've slipped you a sleeping potion," she murmurs to him, "to make sure you won't wake up. I have some things I need to say to you but I can't have you awake to hear them yet, Blaise."
Draco is a little disturbed at her apparent nonchalance at drugging her son, but Blaise looks touched, kneeling next to the bed to gaze adoringly up at her.
"I'm going away, son," Isabella says, her voice cracking a little. "But you already knew that. We've been fighting the cancer for awhile now, but it's time to accept that we cannot win this battle. A Zabini knows when to back away and when to surrender, and she doesn't flinch when it's her time."
"Oh, Mother," whispers Blaise, his hand starting to reach for her again before he remembers and pulls it back.
She smiles, as though she knows that he is there and trying to reach her. "You're so brave, Blaise, and you never give up. I know you want to keep trying, keep seeing more Healers, but it's time to let go." She is quiet for a moment, reflecting. "I hate that I have to leave you," she finally blurts out, an anguished look on her face. "I brought you into this world and kept you all for myself, and I don't know what you'll do when I'm not there. It hasn't been fair of me, to not share you with the world, but I haven't regretted a single day of our life together.
"Your father, Blaise, never deserved you. He was a fool, and he would not have appreciated what a brilliant young man you are. But I am sorry that all you have had for these years has been me. Because, Blaise, now you have to face the world on your own, and that's not what I want for you. I don't want you to be alone, my dearest. You don't have to be alone.
"I know I told you that I married Kingsley because I thought he might be the one." She licks her lips, which Draco can see are dry and cracked. "Which is true, but I didn't mean the one for me. He's a good man, Blaise, which is sometimes a weakness, but can also be a strength. He wants very much to help you. We talked about it, he and I. He's always wanted a son, and I know that you, despite all your protestations, have often wished for a father." She smiles again and leans down to kiss the hair of the sleeping Blaise. "You try to be so independent, and that's my fault. I fear I've never taught you that family can be an extended thing.
"Let Kingsley be there for you, Blaise. You don't have to love him, because he's not your father, but he does want to be a family for you, and I think that he can help you take care of yourself better than anyone else. He can watch out for your interests, he can keep you safe. The world we live in now is changing, and I don't know exactly where it's going. I want nothing more than to ensure that you will have everything you could possibly want from it, even if I'm not there. He can help with that. I hope you'll let him."
For a long moment the only sound in the room is the fire crackling, and Isabella stares into her hands. Draco hadn't noticed the small box in them, which she must have pulled from a pocket. It is the same one that held the memory. She opens it and takes out the tiny glass bottle, which is empty. "I'm going to end it all tomorrow," she says abruptly. "It's time I stopped fighting it, time I stopped drawing out the inevitable. I've made all the arrangements for everything, so you and Kingsley don't have to do anything but see them through. Hawksworth has your inheritance all laid out properly, and I have only this one final thing to send him before everything is complete.
"A Zabini knows when to bow out, Blaise. She knows when her time has come. Staying longer would just make things worse for us all, you know that. You don't want to see me a bedridden wreck, and I don't want that either. So tomorrow I'm going to go to sleep, and that will be that. It will hurt, I know, and I'm sorry for that, but this is how we leave. With grace and dignity, leaving our loved ones well taken care of."
She closes her eyes, and when they open again Draco can see tears glistening in them. She kisses the sleeping Blaise again. "I love you," she whispers. "You have been my all for the past twenty four years. Thank you for that. Goodbye." She shakes her wand out of her sleeve and places the tip of it to her forehead, and Draco can see the first strand of silver being pulled away as the scene fades out around them and the study takes its place.
Blaise is still kneeling, now next to the Pensieve, and staring at his hands in his lap. Draco crouches down next to him, and the two sit for awhile, saying nothing.
"Thank you for being there with me," Blaise finally murmurs. "I don't think I would have looked at it if you hadn't been there."
"S'alright," Draco mutters. He coughs a bit, uncomfortable. "You know, Blaise," he ventures. "You don't have to go see Shacklebolt, if you don't want to. Me and Mother, we can be there for you too. You don't need to do anything you don't want to do."
Blaise laughs a little, a quiet and queer sound. "Really?" he asks.
"Really," says Draco in a rush.
"I know that your mother has been asking you to talk to me about Shacklebolt, Draco. You don't have to pretend that she hasn't. I heard you talking at dinner that first night, when you both thought I'd gone off to my rooms."
"You knew?" Draco falls back against the base of the Pensieve, stunned. "You've known all this time? Why didn't you say anything?"
Blaise shrugs. "I wanted to see what you'd do." He gazes over at Draco, the barest hint of a smile on his face. "Thanks for not pushing me. It was pretty good of you, y'know. Didn't expect that from you."
"Well," huffs Draco. "I'm not a complete jackass, am I?"
Blaise reaches out and hooks their hands together. "Not a complete one," he agrees. He sighs a bit.
"I do mean it, though," Draco blurts. "I know Mother wants you to do it, and yeah, it probably would be better for us all if Shacklebolt ran again and got elected instead of Weasley, but you don't have to go talk to him. Not if you don't want to." He bites his lip. "Fathers aren't necessarily all they're cracked up to be," he adds. "I think I'm getting along alright without one, right now."
"Yeah, you are," Blaise agrees quietly. "And, to be honest, I don't think I would have believed you if had tried to tell me otherwise. But I don't think I really mind all that much," he admits, "about Kingsley. I think I just didn't want to share her with him, while she was alive. I never knew that she was trying to bring him into our lives for me. I guess, I thought that he was... hers. Because she didn't think I was enough." He smiles wistfully. "I'm glad I was wrong about that."
He lets go of Draco's hand and stands up, brushing dust off his knees. "You can tell your Mother that I'm going to... to go home," he says. "Thank her for me, for all her hospitality, and tell her..." His smile widens a bit, into a grin. "Tell her I'll be back."
"You better be," warns Draco. "Now that you've corrupted me, you're responsible for my wild sexual appetites. I'm not about to go back to being unwillingly celibate now. I'm afraid you're stuck with me."
"Alas for me," Blaise drawls, and he helps Draco up.
Draco and Narcissa are out overseeing the set up for the Shacklebolt for Minister rally, and the sun is once again beaming merrily down upon them, even though it is late October. It feels as though summer has pressed right on through autumn and is giving winter a notice of eviction, and Draco feels both exasperated and reluctantly pleased by the unruliness of the weather. Mother is certainly happy that they'll have a bright and warm day for the rally, which is sure to bring the crowd's spirits up. All the Families have promised to come out and support Shacklebolt, who only announced a few weeks earlier his intentions to run for a second term in office. He and his stepson have been busy on the campaign trail ever since.
The Minister isn't due to arrive for several hours yet, but already there are people pressing around the outdoor stage that has been set up in Gringott's Square. While the First Families have unanimously announced support for Shacklebolt, a surprising number of the middle class and Muggleborn are arriving as well, whose demographic everyone had assumed would be hard to draw away from Weasley's campaign.
Mother is having a grand time ordering her various assistants around, and Draco remembers how she always lit up whenever she was helping Father in his various campaigns all those years ago. She's drinking a little less these nights, though neither of them have still found it within them to dust off Father's chair in the dining room and take his place.
Draco is tacking up a poster when he hears someone clear their throat behind him. "Wow, Malfoy, I never thought I'd see the day when you'd be working to help out Kingsley."
He groans and turns around to see Harry Potter standing behind him. "Yeah, well, things change," he bites out, reminding himself that he cannot sabotage Shacklebolt's chances by picking a fight with the Boy Who Lived right in the middle of one of his rallies. "What are you doing here, Potter? I'd have thought you'd be out helping Granger set up for Weasley's show."
Potter smiles sheepishly and rubs a hand over the back of his neck. "Hermione's a bit pissed at me right now, actually," he says. "Thinks I should be getting up on stage with them and telling everyone to vote for Mr. Weasley."
"Too big a hero to talk to the public now?" Draco sneers.
"Yeah, that's it," replies Potter, rolling his eyes. "Merlin, you don't change do you, Malfoy? I'm actually here because Kingsley asked if I'd say a few words for him, and I said yes."
"Look, I love the Weasleys, and I hate it when you and your mother and the other Purebloods go around talking about how awful they are, but that doesn't mean I think that Mr. Weasley would be all that great at being Minister." He looks aggrieved but determined. "Kingsley's done a good job, and I'm afraid that if Mr. Weasley gets it he's going to wreck a lot of what Kingsley's done, like getting us all to stop fighting. I'm really bloody sick of fighting."
Draco is quiet for a moment. "Me too," he says finally. "Sorry. For... everything."
"I'm sorry too," Potter replies. "We both want the same thing here, Malfoy, and I thought that maybe we could stop hating each other. Or something. Alright?" He sticks his hand out to Draco, who hesitates for a moment but then shakes it.
"Stop the presses, Malfoy and Potter aren't trying to kill each other," drawls a voice, and Draco brightens as he sees Blaise coming up behind Potter. Potter immediately flushes and draws his hand back, but smiles a bit at Draco and nods. "At least, I hope you're not trying to kill each other," Blaise adds.
"If I was going to kill Potter, I'd have a more cunning way of doing it than shaking his hand in broad daylight," remarks Draco. "Give me a bit more credit."
Potter sputters a bit at that, and Blaise smiles lazily. "Will do," he says, and then sticks out his own hand for Potter to shake. "Good to see you, Potter, and thanks so much for coming, but if you'll excuse me I need to get Malfoy here alone for a few minutes. Ta." He grips Draco's robe sleeve and tugs him away behind the stage and then casts a Muffliato charm.
"Dragging boys away during a rally? How risqué," Draco says with a grin, and Blaise leans in to kiss him quickly.
"So you and Potter have made up, then?" he asks.
Draco shrugs. "Guess so."
"You're not going to realize all of a sudden that all your passionate hatred in school was just masking plain old passion and go running off to seduce him, are you?"
"I'll invite you along when I do," Draco returns calmly.
Blaise laughs and then kisses him again, and for the first time in a long while Draco doesn't miss the way things were, doesn't fear that everything is going to come crashing down. It still might, he knows, and maybe things will get worse eventually, but for the moment all that matters is this moment. When it comes down it, he decides, change isn't all that bad, really.