Silence had settled over the entire manor. Thick, oppressive silence. Draco couldn't ever recall a time when his father had been this angry at his mother. He'd seen him frustrated… amused… and occasionally, so ridiculously besotted that Draco had to leave the room for the sake of his sanity. But he'd never experienced this cold, burning fury from his father whenever he was in the same room as his mother.
It probably didn't help that Mother didn't even seem sorry. At best, she seemed to project a stubborn defiance that strangely reminded him of… well, perhaps it wasn't so strange after all.
"Do they always fight like this?" Theo asked when Mother swept from the dining room, and Father stalked out after her, his lips pressed in a thin line.
"They never fight," Draco muttered. "This is… this is different."
Throughout Draco's childhood his parents had presented a united front. Whatever arguments they might have had behind closed doors, Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy were never anything but in perfect accord in front of others. The only cracks that Draco had ever seen in that façade had been during the war, when he'd overheard Mother begging Father to do something about him taking the Dark Mark.
"So." Theo glanced at Draco and waited expectantly.
Draco frowned at him. "What?"
"What's it like?" Theo prodded at him with an elbow.
"What's what like?" Draco huffed in exasperation.
"Having a sister." Theo stared at him, curiosity gleaming in his eyes.
"How would I know?" Draco frowned at Theo. "It's not like I had any idea that… that she and I…" Slowly Draco trailed off and swallowed hard.
Guilt had been a constant companion for years now, but recently it had become almost overwhelming.
"I didn't believe her, at first," Draco admitted.
"Who?" Theo glanced toward the door. "Your mother?"
"No, Pansy." Draco explained.
"Pansy? What does Pansy have to do with anything?" Theo shot him a bewildered glance.
"She works for the Prophet," Draco reminded him. "She came to me before… before the story broke. She tried to tell me that — I laughed in her face. Told her that as jokes went, this was a little far-fetched."
"Not as far-fetched as you thought," Theo pointed out.
"I know that now," Draco snapped. He slumped in his seat. "I just… what do I do?"
"You go talk to her," Theo said firmly. When Draco scoffed incredulously, Theo's expression turned mulish. "She is family, Draco. She's your sister. Go talk to her."
"Family. Right." Draco laughed bitterly. "Her aunt tortured her in our ancestral home in front of her parents and her brother and not one of us lifted a finger to help her. Some family we are."
"You say that as though you weren't Crucioed in this house," Theo countered. He slouched in his chair and frowned at Draco. "You say that as though your parents lifted a finger to stop your torture."
"You know they couldn't do anything," Draco protested. "Fucking Voldemort was living here!"
"Tell her that," Theo said firmly. "Tell her everything."
"She's not going to want to have anything to do with me," Draco replied. "She'll probably hex me as soon as she opens the door."
The muffled sound of something ridiculously expensive shattering against a wall drifted to them and both men winced.
"Who do you think that was?" Theo asked quietly.
"I'm not sure," Draco sighed.
Throughout his childhood, both Mother and Father had tried to emulate a cool unflappability in the face of any upset. Any disagreements that they had ever had resulted in stiff civility for a day or two, followed by flowers, chocolates, and Draco doing his best to not enter any room without advance warning. There were clear guidelines for comportment that both of his parents had always followed.
Now it seemed as though everything was tenuous and unsure. Divorce wasn't exactly an option for a full marriage bond, but there was more than one pureblood wife who had chosen to move to the dower house early. If Father couldn't get past his anger, Draco could easily see this new, defiant version of his mother marching off to the dower house and never returning.
"Bloody, buggering fuck," Draco muttered. Theo snorted next to him.
"Your mother would have a fit if she heard you talking like that," his best friend reminded him.
"I'm going to have to go talk to her," Draco groaned and slumped in his chair.
"Your mother?" Theo blinked at Draco.
"No, you prat. My sister," Draco huffed at him.
"Shite," Theo breathed. "Really?"
"I don't know what else to do," Draco admitted. "Mother and Father aren't really speaking to one another. If he can't forgive her… if she moves into the dower house… I… I don't know what else to do."
"Mate." Theo grimaced slightly. "I wouldn't lead with that, if I were you."
Bribery and a favour or two had secured the address that his sister was currently calling home. Number 12 Grimmauld Place. He had heard his mother mention it briefly after Sirius Black had been killed. Cautiously, he knocked on the door. A wizened House Elf answered the door and peered up at him suspiciously.
"What is the wizard wanting?" The House Elf demanded.
"Is Hermione Gr—erm. Is Hermione receiving guests today?" He stumbled over his sister's name — the only name he'd ever known her by — and grimaced.
The House Elf seemed to twitch slightly and glared at Draco.
"What is you wanting with Kreacher's Miss Hermione?" The House Elf growled.
"Erm… I…," Draco stammered helplessly.
"It's okay, Kreacher," a familiar voice said with a careless cheer that grated on his nerves. "This poncey git is our Hermione's brother."
Draco gritted his teeth in irritation. "Potter."
"Malfoy," Potter replied coolly.
"This is Missy Cissy's boy?" Kreacher asked Potter with a doubtful expression that was vaguely insulting.
"Yeah," Potter sighed. He turned to look at Kreacher with a smirk. "Should we let him in?"
Kreacher turned to face Draco, fixing him with a gimlet stare. "You will not upset Kreacher's Miss Hermione," he announced flatly.
"I recommend that you listen to him," Potter added. "He's become extremely protective of Hermione since we… well. You know."
"Yes," Draco agreed.
"Let me see if she'll see you," Potter muttered before he turned and slipped back into the house.
Standing awkwardly on the stoop of Potter's house, he glanced around at the rest of the neighborhood. Perhaps at one time this had been a posh address, but that time had faded into history. He could feel his lip curl slightly as he frowned at the surrounding street.
"Malfoy." Potter poked his head around the door. "Come on in. She says she'll see you."
The house was sparklingly clean, but whoever had decorated the place was a kindred spirit to Aunt Bellatrix. He shuddered as they passed by a row of House Elf heads attached to a wall. Mother had never really spoken about Great-Aunt Walburga, and now Draco knew why.
Seated on a settee in the middle of a gloomy, vaguely menacing parlour sat his sister. Her back was ramrod straight and her chin was tilted up defiantly. Draco blinked at the sudden, glaring similarities between Hermione and Mother.
"Malfoy," she greeted him in a stiff, brittle voice.
"Granger," he replied automatically and then winced. It felt wrong to call her that. She was a Malfoy—she was his sister. "I mean…"
"Granger is fine." She twisted her hands in her lap and glanced towards the door. "Won't you please sit?" She asked.
Gingerly, Draco sat on one of the uncomfortable chairs that littered the room. Kreacher popped into the room and set a tea set on a low table near Hermione. He paused to glare ferociously at Draco before fawning over his sister, asking her if there was anything more she wanted.
"No thank you, Kreacher," she murmured. "This looks lovely."
"Kreacher is happy to have pleased Kreacher's Miss Hermione," the House Elf burbled happily.
With deft, graceful movements, Hermione poured tea for the both of them. She paused and glanced up at him.
"Milk, no sugar," Draco answered the unspoken question.
For a moment, Hermione seemed to freeze. Then she recovered and made two cups of tea—both with milk, no sugar. Oh. She took her tea that way as well. It seemed an odd thing to be happy about, so Draco kept his expression neutral, and accepted his cup of tea. He sipped at it to give himself something to do and made the appropriate humming noises of appreciation.
"The biscuits are quite good," Hermione murmured. "Kreacher seems hell-bent on providing a proper tea now that…"
Now that he has a proper Mistress Draco guessed but forbore to comment aloud. He doubted she would appreciate his opinion on the matter. Potter waltzed into the room and sat on the settee next to Draco's sister. He sprawled gracelessly, slouching into the cushions and stared at Draco with cold, emerald eyes.
"Why are you here, Malfoy?" Potter asked. Hermione reached out and laid a hand on Potter's arm.
"Harry," she murmured repressively and Potter huffed at her.
"We need to know what the tosser wants," Potter said.
"I wanted to…," Draco paused, nonplussed.
What did he want? The witch sitting on the couch in front of him watched him with dark, wary eyes. Her hair was a mass of wild curls and he stared back at her, searching for similarities. She had the Black coloring. It was difficult to see anything that he could call Malfoy in her features. She looked rather like some old photographs that Mother had hidden in a drawer of Aunt Andromeda and Aunt Bellatrix laughing and playing with a small blonde Narcissa.
"What?" Hermione demanded. She waved a hand and he gritted his teeth when he saw the scars on her arm. "You came to make nice? Now that I'm all shiny and pureblooded you're happy to welcome me into the family with open arms?"
"Not exactly," Draco admitted.
"No?" One dark brow arched and Hermione's lip curled and Draco suddenly saw the similarities he'd been searching for. Hermione resembled Father at his most haughty and dismissive. "How surprising."
"This isn't easy, you know," he snapped in frustration.
"Oh, I'm sorry." Hermione set down her teacup with a loud clink, and she gave a brittle laugh. "This isn't easy for you? Harry, did you know? This isn't easy for Malfoy."
Potter smiled smugly at him from his place on the settee next to Hermione.
"Fuck," Draco groaned and closed his eyes. "Look, this isn't what I wanted to do."
"What, exactly, did you want to do?" Hermione demanded.
"I just wanted to… to meet you," Draco groaned again. "I mean… not meet you, of course. We met in school-,"
"Yes, where you called me a Mudblood and went out of your way to make my life miserable," Hermione reminded him.
"But I was wrong," Draco tried again.
"So now that I'm not some filthy, disgusting Mudblood, now you'd like to make my acquaintance?" Hermione stood and Draco could see that she was shaking slightly. Potter stood next to her and put a hand on her shoulder, his fingers tightening in a show of support.
"You're my sister," Draco said quietly, trying to explain everything he didn't have the words to say.
"Fuck you," Hermione snarled. She spun on her heel and marched out of the room.
The door slammed behind her in an impressive display of wandless magic. Potter winced and gave Draco an expression of sympathy.
"She's… she's going through a lot right now," Potter muttered. He waved a hand at Draco. "Trying to… to process everything. It hasn't been… Ron didn't take it well."
Draco blinked at that.
"Weasley broke off an understanding with my sister because she's a Malfoy?" Draco asked incredulously, insulted on his sister's behalf.
"It wasn't an understanding," Potter protested.
"She believed he was going to marry her, did she not?" Draco countered. Potter flushed and rubbed a hand on the back of his neck.
"I suppose that would be one way of looking at it," he admitted.
"The bloody bastard," Draco breathed, fury churning in his gut.
His sister was too good for Ron fucking Weasley. Draco was going to ruin him. He was going to make the previous two hundred years look as though the Malfoys and the Weasleys were the best of friends. By the time Draco was done with Ronald Weasley, he wouldn't be able to get a job shoveling hippogriff dung.
"Yeah," Potter sighed. "I told him off but good. Ginny's mad at me and refuses to speak to me until I apologize to Ron."
"If you apologize to that jilting bastard, I'll —"
Potter took a step closer to him, invading his personal space and frowned at Draco.
"Hermione is my family," Potter said flatly. "She's been my family for far longer than she's been yours. Ron was out of line, and I told him so. If Ginny can't handle that, then perhaps it's best that we break-up as well."
"Good," Draco retorted.
"It's not like I'm going to let some pureblood bastard give her a hard time about her blood status," Potter continued. He let his gaze rake over Draco scathingly. "I think she's had enough of that in her life. Don't you?"