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11 November 2004 @ 08:34 pm
Never too old to act immature  

Seeing as I can post twice in one day without the entries going skew-wiff, I decided to.

Snakes and Ladders: A futurefic, PG-13. Draco Malfoy is Potions Master at Hogwarts, and fitting nicely into Snape's old shoes. Life is pretty much a non-event for him until the arrival of guess-who's only son...despite what cyclical history would pre-suppose him to do, Draco isn't Snape, and Harry's son isn't Harry...and this fic details what ensues. (Opening lyrics: Robbie Williams.)

Do just read the first part - just to see what I've done with Potter's spawn!

I wasn’t me when we met

You haven’t lost my respect

I’m here to serve and protect

What shade of insanity

Keeps leading you back to me

Draco Malfoy sat at the Head Table of the Great Hall, shifting a little in the leather-bound, high-backed chair. He ran his thumb around the rim of his glass, wishing it were wine instead of innocuous apple cider. The Headmaster, although partial to strong spirits himself, forbade his professors to drink during school hours, fearing to give the ’brain-dead morons who pass for students of this establishment’ any more ready ammunition to flout the rules.

‘After all,’ he’d said, sneering slightly - his top lip seemed glued into a little half-curl on a permanent basis, ‘any Gyffindor worth his salt will march right up and ask for some. The Ravenclaws will mutter among themselves that one rule for us and another for them is theoretically unjust. An odd Hufflepuff who has actually realised what is going on is will probably see it as a justification for the alcoholism problem that has dogged that House since its foundation.’

‘And the Slytherins?’ Draco had asked, leaning back and drawing his lips back over his teeth in a feral smile.

The Headmaster let one of his own flicker across his features, briefly, like sunlight breaking through thunderclouds. He ignored the scowls and growls of the other assembled teachers to say, ‘They, of course, will have discovered and consumed the secret stash of Firewhiskey in each of our personal chambers.’

Draco knew that many people, both inside and outside Hogwarts, thought that Snape, as a Headmaster, was unfairly partisan to Slytherins. This was completely true, of course, but what they failed to acknowledge was that Dumbledore had been the exact same towards his precious Gryffindors. As ever, it was the perpetual bias against Slytherins rearing its ugly head.

And yet. Although in the depths of his soul, Snape might actually feel more kindly towards his fellow alumni, and although he lost no opportunity to build them up at the other Houses’ expense, outside of the teacher’s quarters he was stringently even-handed. That is, he was a bastard to everyone - but not more so to any one person or House. Only in private did Snape wallow in his favourite pastime - Gryffindor (and, if the chance arose, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff)-baiting.

Draco thought that his House was long due to be cut a little slack. It was taking its own sweet time, however, to make people grudgingly see the oppression the Slytherins had laboured under. Fair enough, there were more often bad eggs in Slytherin than was quite statistically correct - but it was Draco’s considered opinion, soldered iron-solid after sixteen years spent as a teacher, that people generally performed as others expected them to, and so at least a quarter of the blame could be laid at the door of the prejudice that the Lions, Badgers and Eagles had allowed to fester.

He still thought it was the greatest joke ever when the son of the great, good, Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter himself, was Sorted into the Serpent’s Den.

~

Draco pushed open the door to the Headmaster’s Office. The portrait of Dumbledore twinkled at him, but for once Draco didn’t feel the need to drop his customary smirk when faced by it. Alive, not a will of iron but must crumple when confronted with a face that was always chuckling at some internal joke. Fortunately, the portrait painter, for all his consummate skill, had not been able to capture this feature of his sitter.

Draco opened his mouth to address his employer by his given name, as befit old friends, but was brought up short by the presence of a student. Draco did not think it appropriate that he and Snape bandy around their given names when one of the vipers could hear; it would weaken the façade that they both maintained towards the students, that of bladder-weakening terror.

‘Headmaster Snape,’ he said formally, and with ice-blade coldness. Snape inclined his head by the merest fraction, but returned the greeting in the same tone.

‘I have called you here in your capacity as Potions Master,’ Snape went on. ‘One of our new students -’ and suddenly his voice became warmer, like acid seeping through skin ‘- has a certain condition that requires our attention.’

Draco remained stock-still, but swivelled his eyes so that they came to rest on the small boy shivering in a wing-chair by the roaring fire. It was a trick that stood him in good stead in listening in on student conversations - they were a barometer of what was really happening in the school, the part teachers had no access to.

He wasn’t surprised to find the boy was frightened. He would have been pissing himself if he’d been summoned to Dumbledore’s office his first night at school, even discounting the horror stories about a Muggle-loving maniac that his father had fed him. He was prepared to bet that Snape had held off informing the boy of the reason for his being there in order to establish a healthy atmosphere of bone-chilling suspense. Clearly, the boy was wondering something along the lines of: I didn’t really take her Chocolate Frog/ trip him up/ pinch the trolley lady’s arse, please please please don’t expel me.

Suddenly Draco performed an abrupt double-take that involved him turning fully to look at the boy face-on. Yes; as he strode forward to check, the light threw up the boy’s fearful face clearly. It was Potter’s son - what had Neville called him? The fool boy - despite Longbottom’s thirty-six years Draco still saw him as the quivering, stuttering eleven-year-old lump of lard that he once was - had a terrible habit of mumbling. Headship of Hufflepuff or not - and Draco favoured the not, considering that to be Head of Hufflepuff was only slightly less ridiculous that trying to commune with the dead - Neville was not exactly imbued with social graces, particularly when it came to public speaking. Still, what else could one expect from a former Gryffindor?

‘Wystan,’ the name came, rolled off his tongue as he opened his mouth, ‘Wystan Potter.’

The boy nodded miserably, his huge, golden-lashed eyes wide with unhappiness. Draco spun back to Snape, who had his hands spread flat on his desk and looking as if he would love to clench them. To Draco’s mind, this was perfectly understandable; Snape had suffered greatly at the hands of this child’s father and grandfather, so he could hardly be expected to welcome the third generation with open arms and a cherry lollipop.

As Draco watched, alight with admiration, Snape visibly gathered himself. His features relaxed; if he was not quite smiling, neither was he openly scowling.

‘Young Mr Potter suffered an unfortunate accident two years ago,’ Snape said, and his face compressed briefly, so that only someone as sharp-eyed as Draco would have spotted it. ‘He received a werewolf bite.’

So involved was Draco in watching Snape struggle to regulate his breathing, it took a moment for his words to register. When they did, he was hard pressed not to scream. With laudable self-control, he pinched the skin of the web between his forefinger and thumb, under his robes, and said with only the tiniest of quivers in his voice, ‘Infected?’

‘Lamentably, yes.’ As one, they turned to face the boy, who seemed to shrink under their combined gazes. His face spasmed slightly, his small fingers clutching at the leather seat-cover as if it would provide a shield.

‘As you have probably guessed, I have need of your services,’ Snape said, after a moment. ‘He will need a cauldron of Wolfsbane every month. I would do it myself, as I did for that m - for Lupin, but I am swamped with work as it is.’

Draco swallowed, but he knew his duty. ‘Of course.’

Snape sent him a rare, genuine smile. ‘I expected no less. You are at least as accomplished a potion-brewer as myself, and possibly better. The best student I ever had.’

‘Thank you, Headmaster,’ Draco said, allowing his lips to curl upwards ever so slightly, and wondering once again why the man refused to be drawn into anything more than a platonic relationship when every so often he would let loose these firecracker comments.

‘Did you go to school here?’ the boy suddenly piped up, but the inquisitiveness that made his hazel eyes flare abruptly faded when met with one of Draco’s freezing stares.

Inside, Draco was almost panicking, wondering how to play this. Harry Potter’s son; those two words were a perfect incentive to lambaste the boy and the ultimate reason why he could not. Settling for disinterestedness, Draco said, curtly, but not cruelly, ‘I did, of course. Like most wizards in Britain. But a long time ago, before you were even born, and I daresay the castle is still as easy to get lost in, never fear.’

The boy opened his mouth as if to speak, but snapped it shut again. Quick learner, Draco thought, trying not to feel satisfaction, and definitely trying not to ponder that Potter’s son could be a significant asset to his new House.

‘Mr Potter,’ Snape said, ‘please go out into the anteroom. I wish to speak to Professor Malfoy for a few minutes, but he will then escort you to your common room.’

‘Thank you,’ the child said, and scampered out. Obedient, too, Draco thought. Is Potter sure he’s the father? Stifling a smirk at the pleasant thought of the Boy Who Lived to be Cuckolded, Draco focused on his colleague’s face only to find it peculiarly intent. With a dawning suspicion, he opened his mouth, but had only got as far as the ‘h’ of ‘Oh, no you don’t’ when Snape expertly cut him dead.

‘He is going to need some looking after,’ Snape said peremptorily, as Draco gaped ineffectually. ‘There are a lot of factors working against him…his parentage, his condition, latterly his house…Potter - goddamn! I never thought fate would allow there to be another - Harry managed to keep the werewolf attack out of the media, but his Sorting will be splashed all over tomorrow’s Daily Prophet. History repeats itself, only darker - people are not going to be happy about this. The backlash will be so great that I should not wonder it will undo all we have managed to achieve in terms of stilling Slytherin-based discrimination.’

‘You think that puny kid is capable of that much?’ Draco said weakly.

Snape shook his head grimly. ‘That, and more. His powers will be great, and not just his magical ones. People will follow where a Potter leads, as his father and grandfather so amply proved many moons ago. However, if that Potter has turned to the dark because of what he suffers at the hands of other children…if he leads the wrong people…Draco, I do not want to be responsible for another Tom Riddle.’

‘The circumstances are completely different!’ Draco objected.

‘Are they?’ Snape ran a hand through his thinning hair. ‘I wish I had your certainty.’ He sighed. ‘You and I are the only people on the staff who know Wystan is a werewolf, and I wish it to remain that way at all costs. To ascertain this, some - measures will have to be undertaken. Thank god for Wolfsbane - the Shrieking Shack will not be drafted in as another generation’s danger temptation, not on my watch…’

Draco watched in growing consternation as Snape shoved back his chair and made a beeline for his liquor cabinet. By the time he had turned back to Draco, with two crystal tumblers half-full of whiskey, Draco had made his decision. Greater things were at stake here than the little pride he would have to sacrifice in order to pally up with his old rival’s son. Although it was never officially acknowledged, everyone knew that Draco was Snape’s second in command in all but name. He had risen to that position by never letting his former teacher down, and he wasn’t about to start now.

Draco let Snape take a soothing gulp from his glass before reaching for his hand. They gripped each other around the wrists, plighting the ancient Wizard’s Troth of fellowship and trust.

‘What have you got in mind, Severus?’

~

Draco whipped out his wand to perform a Breath-Freshening Charm. No need to be encouraging the boy to think he was anything less than teetotal, although from the rumours Draco had heard the boy should be well hardened to the smell of drink. As he stepped out of Snape’s private office into the waiting room he found his labours had been in vain; Wystan was fast asleep, legs and arms curled around himself, on the floor beside the fire. Fawkes, the unreliable old phoenix who could only be counted on to turn up when he needed to be fed - usually during a staff-meeting - had alighted on a nearby cabinet, and was crooning softly as he regarded the boy.

The bird ruffled its feathers mightily when it spotted Draco, and swooped over to land on his shoulder. Draco let it, long-suffering. The bird had taken an inexplicable shine to him on their first encounter and nothing Draco did could convince the stupid beast that he hated animals, birds especially.

It nipped his ear in misplaced affection. Its song stopped, and the boy was stirring, something for which Draco was eternally grateful. He did not particularly want to become a Potter’s alarm clock, on top of everything else.

‘Well, Potter,’ he said coolly, as the boy stumbled to his feet, cheeks flushed from the fire and slumber. At this distance, his familial resemblance was uncanny. It was how he imagined Snape must have felt on his first encounter with Harry - almost winded, and vaguely angry. Although in Snape’s case, ‘extremely’ probably should be substituted for ‘vaguely’.

‘I’ll walk you down to the dungeons,’ he added, and the boy visibly started.

‘I forgot the Slytherin rooms were in the dungeons,’ he said lowly.

‘Expecting a tower, were you?’ Draco said snidely, pushing open the door. No doubt Potter had expected to be Sorted into Gryffindor, as every miserable Potter had been since Time began.

‘Yes,’ Wystan said, shortly but honestly. Draco, who had been expecting a sullen response or none at all, raised an eyebrow.

‘Well, it does one good to embrace new things.’ Draco shrugged irritably. ‘Idiot bird! What are you hanging around for? Bu - Go away!’

Wystan tilted his face away to hide what could have been a smile. A few seconds later, when Draco whipped his head around to source a strange clicking sound, he realised that it was coming from the boy.

At Draco’s piecing stare, Wystan coloured up, but Draco felt his shoulder suddenly relieved of its weight as Fawkes flew to land on his outstretched arm.

‘Impressive,’ Draco said coldly, in tones that suggested that his little performance was anything but.

‘He visits us sometimes,’ Wystan said, biting his lip, but said nothing more. Draco had to applaud his close-mouthed-ness, despite the flickering of his own aroused curiosity, considering the secrets the boy was required to keep.

Under his breath, Draco performed a quick spell that would alert him to any approaching person before they were within ten feet of him. It was a little piece of Dark Magic he had inherited from his father, but he felt no qualms about using it in these circumstances. Hatred of werewolves ran high and hot, as several had been indentured into Voldemort’s service. More had offered of themselves freely. Either way, it made for messier killings than Avada had been used to provide. The public was more than ready to accept Remus Lupin as a white crow and turn on the rest, tame or otherwise, with a honed blood-lust.

‘Well, Potter,’ he began, and the boy immediately left off petting the bird to snap to attention. Full marks, Potter. ‘Headmaster Snape has informed me of the extent of your condition-’

‘My disease,’ Wystan corrected him, his voice even but venomous. ‘You don’t have to pretty it up, Professor. I know I’m a monster.’

Draco felt startled, despite - or perhaps because of - the fact that he’d been thinking much the same thing himself. He quickly reviewed his notion that simply because he was eleven, the child needed coddling. Protection, yes; glazing of the truth, no. He could face it like a man.

Draco’s lips pulled back involuntarily in a humourless rictus. No. Like a Slytherin.

Wystan was regarding him warily. Draco coughed and settled his raging thoughts.

‘I don’t suppose you know any magic, yet?’

‘I do.’ Of course. ‘Some protection spells.’

‘I’m glad you know how to defend yourself.’ You’ll need it, Draco added mentally.

‘They’re not for me.’ Wystan struggled to find the words. ‘My father taught me some wards, so that I couldn’t hurt anyone.’

Draco hissed out a breath between his teeth at the words ‘my father’. Wystan stiffened, almost imperceptibly.

‘How could you hurt anyone? The Wolfsbane renders you - harmless.’

‘Mostly harmless,’ Wystan corrected him. ‘I keep my mind, but I also am - well, I am the wolf. So I ward a room so I can’t get out and no one can get in. Plus,’ his face tightened slightly, ‘it’s not readily available, so I’ve had to do without it sometimes, and there was no way I’d allow anyone to get near me. My wards have to be perfect.’

Draco, feeling slightly disorientated, wondered why the boy sounded so familiar. That tone of weary acceptance - where had he heard it before? Not from Wystan’s father - Harry had always burned, with fury for revenge, with fury for change, and in any case he was a rebel to the core.

With a jolt, Draco realised that Wystan sounded like himself. At eleven, he too had been self-possessed and withdrawn but also bowed, and brow-beaten. However, Draco had to admit that for all his faults, even Harry Potter would not do that to his own son.

Life had done it pretty well for him.

A small silence had grown up as Draco pondered, and he mentally shook himself. Wystan was walking with his back ramrod straight, his chin lifted defiantly. So. Not quite beaten. Not yet.

Not on my watch.

‘The Headmaster and I have discussed how to explain your monthly absences,’ Draco said smoothly. ’The potion condenses your symptoms so you are a wolf for two days, correct?’

‘Yes, sir.’ Draco smirked. He’d love to see Harry’s face right now, watching his son acting deferential around his old enemy. It was balm to the soul, and made him feel slightly better disposed towards Wystan.

‘We will set up a room for you adjacent to my chambers, so that I can administer your potion and coincidentally keep you up to date on your schoolwork. According to Professor Snape’s research, at high noon, for an hour, you have the ability to reassume human form. You can spend that time on your homework.’ The boy made a face, which he fondly assumed Draco could not see. ‘Meanwhile, your other teachers and classmates will be told that you are visiting your father. No one will question the whims of the great Harry Potter.’

Draco could not stop a hint of bitterness creeping into his last words, and Wystan looked up at him curiously. ‘Did you know my dad?’ he asked.

‘We’ve - met,’ Draco said briefly. He had no desire to discuss his nemesis with said nemesis’ son. Not now, not ever. He wished he’d thought to deny the connection, but then, Harry Potter had a way of messing up his life, even by proxy.

‘Professor Snape has also suggested that I give you additional tutelage, to teach you how to brew Wolfsbane yourself. In lieu of a proper cure, you will need to know this when you leave Hogwarts. Of course, we need not begin straight away, nor even this year. It is an excessively complicated potion, and you may not even have any aptitude for the subject.’ Especially as your father wouldn’t have even passed it without Dumbledore on his side. And your mother - well, the less said the better.

‘I probably won’t,’ Wystan said glumly, and now there were shades of Longbottom in his stance. ‘My father is pretty crap at it. He and Remus -’ Abruptly he closed his mouth, and busied himself with stroking Fawkes’ ruffled head. Unbidden, a memory of Harry doing the very same thing rose in Draco’s mind. He vanquished it with an impatient huff.

They continued the rest of the way in silence. At the entrance to the Slytherin dungeons, dimly lit with green-tinted kerosene lamps, Draco shooed Fawkes away. For once, the overgrown parrot obeyed him; it clearly had as little liking for the place as Wystan, judging by his pallor. Or it could just be the lighting.

‘The password is ‘Bezoar’,’ Draco informed him. ‘It is a -’

‘Protection against most poisons,’ Wystan murmured, then blushed, seemingly at his audacity. Draco grudgingly nodded.

‘That is correct. When you go in, ask for Nigel Flint. He’s a Prefect. He’ll show you the way to the dorms and things. If anyone asks were you were, tell them you got lost. Don’t mention anything of what happened in the last hour, try to avoid referring overly to your family connections unless you have the balls to back it up and do not tell them you are a werewolf. Slytherin or not, that’s something to keep for later.’

‘That goes without saying,’ Wystan said, looking stung.

‘You’re eleven, forgive me if I forget how mature and responsible you are,’ Draco said, before he could stop himself. Wincing, he gritted his teeth for Wystan’s reaction.

A faint smile. Correction: a smirk.

Well, well, well. Potter, just what have you spawned?

On the point of spinning on his heel and departing for his well-appointed, and more importantly alcohol-stocked, private apartments, the changing expression on Wystan’s face halted him.

It could best be described as wistful, although the trembling lower lip belied that label in favour of young, lost and homesick.

Merlin, what does this kid expect? A goodnight kiss? A lullaby? Saints preserve us.

‘Good night, Potter. Sleep well,’ he said stiffly, after casting about wildly for something comforting. He quickly patted the boy’s shoulder. His upbringing had not inured him to outwardly displaying emotion.

Pathetic attempt though it was, it seemed to do the trick. Wystan took a deep breath, braced his sagging back and vanished through the slab without a backwards glance.

As he strode away, Draco seemed to recall that Harry Potter had never been one overly given to publicly showing affection either.

~

Draco swept into the Potion’s classroom with pursed lips. He knew well the value of first impressions on a bunch of giddy preteens; the more petrifying, the better. Fortunately for his own boredom threshold he had the introductory lecture down-pat. It was, in fact, standard; Snape had used it before him. It was practically a Potion Master tradition save for those namby-pamby weak-tea losers who wanted to bond with the children. Draco shuddered delicately. Perish the thought.

In a low voice that forced the assembled students to shut up and strain to hear, he began his monologue, flicking around the room with a practised eye.

‘You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making…’

No flame-coloured heads reared to meet him like a hangover dream; there were no more Weasleys due for another two years, someone up there was taking pity on poor Hogwarts professors. Without exception, all nine Weasleys to pass through the school since Draco had taken a job there had been troublemakers on a par with the legendary Fred and George; not surprising, seeing as how they had spawned five of them. There hadn’t been one Percy among them. They all had an intimate acquaintance with Draco’s history, or at least an edited version; he could hazard a guess as to where the nickname Professor Ferret had originated. It was only the fact of his former Death Eater status that they hadn’t managed to make a complete showground of his classes. Only a Weasley could have made Draco thankful for that particular section of his past.

‘I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty…’

No, in fact none of his former classmates’ offspring graced his work desks. Excepting, of course, Wystan Potter. Where was the boy?

Slytherin-Gryffindor classes were no longer par for the course; Snape made a point of rotating the combinations every year, and this time it was one of Draco’s particular favourites: Slytherin-Ravenclaw. So much simmering potential there, and the idiots and the heroes were sifted out of sight. Of course, no Weasley would ever make it into one of those Houses; but after the exploits of Robert Weasley and the Amazing Exploding Crucibles Draco was prepared for anything.

‘…bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses…’

Oh. He had finally located Wystan. On making his periodic swoops around the dungeon Draco had missed the boy, huddled on a stool at the very front desk. Draco frowned mentally; he was sitting alone. He hadn’t pinned Wystan as the sort to make friends easily, much like himself in fact; but he was in Slytherin, for Merlin’s sake, surely even eleven-year-olds with the wit given a cat could spot the potential in befriending a famous Potter.

After all, twenty-five years ago, he had…

‘I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory…’

Draco glided to a halt behind his own carved mahogany desk, face to face with his class at last. As per usual, most were looking bored, some jittery, all apprehensive, which was exactly as it should be…except for Potter.

Wystan was sitting bolt upright, hands clenched together on the desk. His eyes were wide and feverish, his expression…well, there was no other word for it but rapt. Bright with interest. It was sufficiently unusual for Draco to stumble in his speech. He coughed self-consciously.

‘That is, if you aren’t as big a bunch of cauldron-destroying bog-warriors as I usually have to teach.’

He glanced over at Potter, and Draco swore on his mother’s grave (wherever it was) that Wystan sent him a ghost of a wink.

Pouncing on his roll-call log, Draco smiled maliciously, and the room visibly recoiled. Excellent. ‘Have we got a Lois McNair here?’

A bull-faced girl with wiry hair and a face that would have stopped traffic at twenty yards raised a trembling hand.

‘Ah, good. Well, McNair, tell me -’ are you related to that axe-wielding mass-murderer? Draco blinked. The name had sounded familiar. The girl was literally shaking; after all, Potter was not the only one with secrets. ‘What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?’

‘I - I don’t know, sir,’ the girl stuttered.

‘That big book under your arm?’ Draco said kindly. ‘Textbook. Please to read before showing up to my classes again.’

Behind him, he could hear Potter murmur, ‘Draught of the Living Death.’ Draco didn’t know what to be more shocked by; that he had dared to speak out of turn, or that he had actually got it correct.

‘Mr Potter,’ Draco snapped. Our new celebrity. ‘Since you seem to be so keen to answer other people’s questions, tell me where I would find a bezoar?’

Wystan blanched, but didn’t hesitate. ‘In a goat’s stomach.’

Draco narrowed his eyes. ‘I find you to be quite amazingly - right, Mr Potter.’ The class murmured in admiration, and a wicked thought occurred to Draco. ‘Take ten points for - Slytherin, Potter.’

Oh, revenge. Unexpected, but sweet as a Veela’s hot lips in a snowstorm…

Wystan sat up straighter, his triumph apparent in the tilt of his head. His expression, apart from a glow in his golden eyes, did not change one whit, however.

A true Slytherin. Inside, Draco was roaring with laughter. What tangled webs we do weave, indeed.

~

A week into term, and Draco was already tearing his hair out over essays - not that it needed it, for he seemed to recall his forehead being a lot smaller than it was nowadays. As ever, most of what he was marking bore little or no resemblance to what had been asked - one girl had dared to scribble a love heart in the margins of one - with a Weasley, no less! The temerity of it left Draco reaching for his brandy snifter. Oh, he was aware of a Weasley or two floating around in the upper years - but did he have to be reminded so sharply? Shock and awe, the girl was a Gryffindor. Recklessly brave. Draco snorted. Her courage had landed her a big fat zero, which he was sure she’d appreciate greatly.

With a faint tremor of dread, Draco took up his first year essays. He wondered at the schooling some had received prior to Hogwarts; often it did not seem to incorporate writing in its curriculum. Draco winced at the scrawls that would only have been appreciated in a modern art gallery, if even there.

One neat, clean page jumped out from the rest, and Draco snatched at it eagerly. He scanned it, eyes widening in delighted surprise. The essay was written in a clear, rounded, flowing script - and it was a perfect piece, without flaw. Draco turned it over, to take the name.

Wystan Potter.

Will wonders never cease, Draco thought hazily, scribbling a 10 on the sheet as a firm knocking at the door pulled him from his seat.

He opened it, looked out, saw no one. He looked down. Wystan was standing there with his arms crossed, looking determined yet resigned.

‘Potter,’ Draco said, almost squeakily. ‘What are you doing here?’

‘Well, sir, I know you said it was too early to start teaching me the W- potion, but I really want to learn.’ Wystan looked up at him, a flash of green fire lighting his hazel eyes momentarily. Blood won out, now and then.

‘Who am I to turn away learning?’ Draco murmured. ‘All right, come in for a few moments.’

He led Wystan to his sitting room, and seated him in one of the rigid, gate-backed chairs that ringed his grate. Lighting it with a word, he sat in one, and gestured Wystan to another.

‘Tea?’ he offered innocently, well aware that Wystan was on pins and needles. It was always better to face into a conversation like this when the other party was at a disadvantage. Something he had learned from Dumbledore, as it happened.

‘No, thank you, sir,’ he said, shaking his head.

‘You’re a very polite boy,’ Draco commented, conjuring himself a mug of Earl Grey.

‘You sound surprised,’ Wystan said wryly, lifting an eyebrow.

And you sound…like Harry. In his latter years. No, don’t go there.

‘You must have had a good upbringing,’ Draco mused, avoiding Wystan’s question-disguised-as-a-statement.

‘I suppose I did.’

God, but the boy was infuriating! And brilliant. Draco shook his head minutely, sipping his tea. Although he could recognise Potter Senior to be a wizard of no mean talents, he had never been…subtle. Or clever. He relied more on brute courage and raw power, both of which he had in abundance. Wystan, though…well, he probably was courageous. These days, however, it wasn’t a trait that was greatly called for; and judging from his small acquaintance with the boy’s character, not one he thought Wystan would much desire.

If Wystan was courageous, however, it would make his father…merely rash. Wystan appeared to have a calculating side that Draco empathised with, unlike his father, who was as transparent as a glass of water, and about as devious.

Switching subjects, Draco said abruptly, ‘I’ll admit you seem to have a flair for Potions, which is - unexpected, to say the least. However, even were you a genius you simply do not have the practical skills required for brewing a potion of this complexity.’ Wystan opened his mouth to object, and the green flare was there, so the objections would probably verge on stringent. Draco waved a hand to silence him. ‘I did not say I would not teach you - just not yet. I will cut you a deal.’ He smirked. ‘Slytherin to Slytherin, let us say.’

Wystan hesitated, and a strange expression came over his face. Before Draco could even begin to analyse it, it had disappeared, and ‘Slytherin to Slytherin,’ he agreed, quirking his mouth.

‘You will work hard at your Potions class work until Christmas,’ Draco instructed. ‘I would expect you to gain full marks on every piece of work, or near enough, as proof of your ability. If you succeed, after the Christmas break we will start work on the Wolfsbane Potion.’

‘Deal,’ Wystan said, so quickly that Draco thought that he must already know his own talents as regards potion-brewing.

‘Very well, we are agreed,’ Draco said. When Wystan made no move to leave, he frowned. ‘Well then, be off. I’m sure you have plenty of mischief to be getting up to.’

‘Not really,’ Wystan said. He took a deep breath. ‘Professor, you went to school with my father, didn’t you?’

‘Yes,’ Draco said, a long, painful word. Clearly, the boy had been chatting with Weasleys. ‘I as much as told you so before. Why?’

‘Oh, it’s just -’ the boy floundered for a moment, before regaining his footing. He looked at Draco defiantly. ‘I thought you could - maybe - tell me about my mother.’

‘I’m afraid not,’ Draco said coldly. ‘You see, I don’t know who she is.’

‘Oh.’ The boy blinked. ‘You and me both, then.’

‘What, Potter hasn’t told you yet?’ Draco exclaimed, slopping tea over his hand. ‘Shit!’

He reached for his wand, but Wystan was quicker. In two seconds, a cooling charm soothed his wrist and the spilled tea was Vanished. Draco gaped at the boy. A week into school and he was spewing spells like a second-year. Wystan raised one eyebrow in reply, in an expression Draco was horrified to realise was a mirror of his own trademark one.

‘Clearly, every time you wanted to know he fobbed you off with a spell,’ Draco snapped, shakily placing his cup on a table, not quite aware of what he was saying.

Wystan smiled, slowly and craftily.

‘Good lord, it’s true,’ Draco said weakly. ‘Well, I can hereby assign him a new altar of stupidity…and you…’

‘Are you going to take points off me for knowing a few spells?’ Wystan said sharply, and Draco couldn’t, of course.

‘I really think you should go back to your common room,’ Draco said firmly. ‘Make some friends.’

‘Aren’t you my friend?’ Wystan said, his composed expression suddenly crumbling to reveal a gaping hole of need. Draco was nearly felled at this sudden volte face.

‘Your own age,’ he enunciated.

‘Fine,’ Wystan grumbled. He was nearly at the door before he turned back, smirking. ‘Sorry, sir, I forgot to say - I don’t have friends. I have followers.’

Draco stifled an urge to throw something at the much closed door. Not slammed; just clicked gently shut. Surely if Draco had written a book about his life, he’d know about it?

Because apparently this child of Potter’s was determined to quote it verbatim.

 
 
Current Mood: apatheticapathetic
Current Music: Again with the suicide tunes
 
 
 
The Light Snarktasticsnarkophagus on November 11th, 2004 01:19 pm (UTC)

This comment is to be considered the LiveJournal Thwap of Doom! So the powers of skew-wiff have been lost, that doesn't stop them from lurking about, looking for people like you, who try to say whatever entertaining lines are lurking in their heads.

...

Yeah, okay. I'm done. I can't keep up the monster-thrill-suspense thing like I used to. Bedtime. ;)
Caitcoralia13 on November 11th, 2004 06:25 pm (UTC)
I am very intrigued. I hate to see a negative picture painted of my precious Harry, but I will wait till the end to decide whether this will be a negative picture. Malfoy is very Snape-like (or, fanon Snape-like.) As I like fanon-Snape far better than his canon incarnation, I enjoy this development!
Who is Wystan's father? Who bit Wystan? Write! Write! Write!
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on November 12th, 2004 11:38 am (UTC)
Not so much negative as trying to be IC, perhaps? Yeah, perhaps I'm subliminally writing Snape...who knows? Not I!

Oh, god, that bad? Wystan's father is Harry! Eep, that wasn't clear? *cries* Yup yup, but you might only make it as far as the end of the second part (of three) because there is slash at the vairy end...but I'll tell you what happens, otherwise, after the second part, if you like!
Caitcoralia13 on November 12th, 2004 11:31 pm (UTC)
Ack! Sorry, sorry, sorry - totally meant 'mother'. I got that his last name was 'Potter'. :)
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on November 13th, 2004 04:23 am (UTC)
Oh, phew! *grins evilly* That's the mystery-and-suspense part!! Snh.
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on November 12th, 2004 11:36 am (UTC)
Actually, it's just because I changed the layout, I'm afraid...man I want a paid journal!

Good to see you again, anyway. And don't worry, you're the best monster-thriller I know (and, er, the only one...)
Caitcoralia13 on November 11th, 2004 06:26 pm (UTC)
Sorry- the last comment was supposed to be directed at you, scoradh, not randompenguin. Sorry, randompenguin!
henbock on November 15th, 2004 07:26 am (UTC)
Unsure!!!!
Ok I like it but Im not sure of something about it but I cant put my finger on it!!!