It was August 15th. The large mansion was pumping with music and chatter. It was the biggest get-together Hogwarts had ever experienced. And it wasn’t even a big event like a graduation reunion or at Hogwarts itself.
It was Draco Malfoy’s birthday party.
His mother had insisted on inviting every single person who graduated with him. Every one. Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws and Gryffindors created a huge array of strangers and enemies among the Slytherins. People were married, some were pregnant, some had powerful jobs, and some owned a four-storey mansion like Draco.
Draco was 27 today. He’d been wished a happy birthday by all Slytherins, a couple of shy Hufflepuffs, a brightly clad Ravenclaw named Luna Lovegood, and a few Gryffindors. But everyone still hung it over his head – that terrible, worrisome, painful experience from his sixth year. When he became a Death Eater.
Although it had indeed been Severus Snape who’d done the deed, people still blamed the boy who had almost killed old Dumbles: Draco Malfoy.
Draco’s life was terrible. He hadn’t changed much; sure, he had a little muscle, but his hair was still long and pale, he was still thin and troubled. After his father had died while in Azkaban, his mother remarried almost instantly to a man named David Rempton. David was five years younger than Narcissa Black, and brought three children with him when he moved in. Eric and Marcus were twins and had just turned twenty, and Carol had turned eighteen in January. Draco had been shoved from the spotlight he’d basked in his entire life and was now under pressure from his mother to get a job, a girl and a house, and settle down. He hadn’t dated anyone since Pansy Parkinson back in sixth year.
When he told Pansy he was a Death Eater, she thought it was pretty cool. Soon though, she saw how scared he was, labelled him as a ‘wimp’ and broke up with him. Now, ten years later, she was swirling on the dance floor with a wedding ring on her finger, boasting that she was Mrs. Marcus Flint. He hadn’t spoken to Goyle since the Battle of Hogwarts when Crabbe had died, and the last time he spoke to one of his classmates was when he saw Blaise Zabini in Flourish and Blotts, buying something for his son. Draco hadn’t asked who his wife was or even the name of his son.
Draco leant against the wall, and glared at the people dancing and shoving their faces with pumpkin juice and treacle tarts and cake.
Draco turned in response to his old surname. He was a Rempton now, but he refused to use anything but Malfoy. David wasn’t his father, anyway.
Two people were approaching: the woman had her arm in the crook of the man’s elbow. The man stopped and held out his hand to shake. Draco stared at it until his old nemesis let it drop.
“Potter. Weasley,” Draco greeted with a nod of the head. Though he’d rather have it any other way, he owed his life to Potter ever since he’d pulled him from the Fiendfyre Crabbe had used. He was grateful, but at that particular moment, Draco wished he were dead instead of Crabbe.
Harry pushed his glasses further up his nose. “Happy birthday,” he said blandly. “How’s your night going?”
Draco’s eyebrow vanished under the fringe of his blonde hair. “You honestly care?”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “For goodness sake, Draco! You haven’t changed much, have you?”
He looked her over. While he and Potter had remained nearly the same, Ginny Weasley’s was an almost unfamiliar face. She was in a long white dress, clutching a jewelled bag. Her stomach had a large bump to it and it didn’t surprise him at all that there was another red-haired brat on the way. Her face was thinner and she was as tall as Harry. Her red hair was cut to her elbows and hung neatly in a delicate braid accessorized with a white flower.
He didn’t want to admit it, but he wished he were in Potter’s shoes: Head of the Auror Department, a wife, two kids and another on the way, nice quaint house, and good friends.
Something with intensely bushy hair flew out of nowhere and began crooning over Ginny’s baby bump. Close behind was another Weasley. Ron.
Draco stared at him. Ron had changed a lot as well. He was huge – no less than six feet tall. His arms were well-muscled and his fiery hair was cropped short to his head. He held himself with pride in his expensive-looking tuxedo. He nodded at Draco with a little smile.
Hermione turned to Draco. He observed the changes in her as well. She had a baby bump a bit bigger than Ginny’s and Draco knew from reading the little birth announcements in the Prophet that they also had a daughter named Rose. Hermione’s hair wasn’t as frizzed or curly as it used to be, but she still looked like the know-it-all she once was.
“Oh! Happy birthday, Draco!” she said, out of breath. She rested a hand on her stomach and Ron took the other. “I was just speaking to your mother. I’m so sorry.”
Draco didn’t move. “About what?”
She looked nervous. She and her friends were searching Draco’s face for a hint of expression. “About your father. And your step-father.”
Draco shrugged. “Like you care, Granger.”
“I’m Weasley now,” she corrected. She and Ginny flashed their wedding bands simultaneously. “Ron and I, and Harry and Ginny had a double wedding.”
Double wedding. Were they planning their pregnancies together, too?
Luna Lovegood appeared in her bright yellow dress and smiled at Harry. “Hello Harry,” she said dreamily. “Oh, Ginny, congratulations!” she squealed when she spotted Ginny’s stomach.
Draco sighed and left them to catch up with each other. He walked outside into the cool autumn air and gazed at the sky. The moon was full and the stars were out. But the view was ruined by the noise coming from inside Malfoy Manor.
He sat down on the stone steps and looked down at his wrists. He was in a black tuxedo without a tie. He felt overdressed. It was only his birthday party. He unfastened the cuffs and pushed them back, revealing his bony wrists. His pale skin was decorated with scars from the summer of his sixth year. Voldemort had made it a sport to use the Cruciatus Curse on Draco whenever he failed until he fell unconscious. Those days were dark. He often threatened his mother with suicide, reducing her to tears. Knowing he couldn’t leave his mother all alone, he cut himself. It relieved pain, anger, and sadness all at once. The blood would stain the carpet and he would clean it up with his wand before his mother came in. He had stopped after his seventh year, but was left with scars that would serve as a reminder for his entire life.
Draco glanced up and was spotted by a chubby man with a receding hairline. The man waddled and Draco recognized him instantly as Gregory Goyle. Goyle hadn’t changed much, except for the fact that he was nearly bald. He sat down next to Draco.
“What?” Draco asked, covering his wrists again.
“Long time no see, Malfoy,” he said with a silly grin.
Draco wasn’t in the mood for chit-chat. “Get to the point, Goyle.”
Goyle didn’t seem fazed by Draco’s harsh words. “Your mum wanted me to tell you that there’s a job opening.”
Draco’s heart skipped. A job. A chance to leave Malfoy Manor once and for all! He calmed himself. “Where is it?” he asked casually, adopting an air of boredom.
Goyle bit his lip and turned red, like he always did when he didn’t want to say something. “It…it’s at Hogwarts, Malfoy.”
Hogwarts. Draco’s own personal Hell. “Doing what? Teaching?”
Goyle nodded. “There’s tons of open jobs. Even an opening for Headmaster. McGonagall’s getting up in her years, you know. The old bat’s over a hundred.”
“But why bring this up?” Draco asked suddenly.
Goyle flushed. “McGonagall sent out a letter. Didn’t you get…” He trailed off, noticing Draco’s angry expression.
“No, you bloody git, I haven’t gotten any mail since Father died,” he snapped. He looked away from Goyle and down at his own hands. A job at Hogwarts was incredibly tempting. Not only would he get money, but he’d also be able to repay his debt to Dumbledore and the rest of the school.
Goyle kept talking. “If you want the job, ride the Hogwarts Express on September 1st with the rest of the students and apply to McGonagall for whatever you want. The letter said no one will get turned down.” He paused, waiting for Draco to answer. He didn’t “I know you might not want the job, but your mum told me to tell you. Be at Diagon Alley tomorrow, Malfoy. Think it over.” And with that, Gregory Goyle stood and waddled back to the party.
Malfoy looked back up at the stars. A teaching job at Hogwarts. He’d never really excelled at any specific subject, but why not give it a whirl? Maybe he’d become Headmaster. He smiled at the winking stars. Dumbledore would like that, he thought. With a twisted mind like his, the old man ought to be happy with the idea of the boy too weak to kill him getting his former job.
Draco got up from the steps, walked through the party, up the stairs, down the hall to the left and into the last room on the right – his bedroom – and began packing.
Chapter Endnotes: Review please! I hoped you liked it!