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A Fresh Start by Erica T
This is the first multi-chapter fic I've submitted to Fire and Ice, I've done some editing on it, so I hope I've caught any issues.
Chapter 1 by Erica T
Harry Potter is not mine. I just like to take the characters out to play once in a while.
“Potter Marriage Busts!”
“From The Boy Who Lived to the Man who Philanders?”
“Weasley Family Outraged!”
Draco Malfoy smirked and tossed the latest edition of the Daily Prophet down onto the table.
“Extra, extra, read all about it.” He muttered to himself, and poured a glass of Firewhisky. In the years since they had all graduated from Hogwarts, he had found that his intense hatred of Harry Potter had diminished down to a mere annoyance at the spectacled git, at how easy everything was for him. Everyone knew that he had been handed a job as an Auror, practically before he’d even graduated. His wife should have been gift wrapped, again given to him the moment she graduated herself. Even his house had been given to him.
Everyone else had to work for everything they had, even Draco, himself. After the war, with Malfoy Manor practically in ruins, his parents had left the Wizarding world. They had left all of the Malfoy fortune for him to dispense or disperse as he saw fit. He hadn’t wanted any of it, for the same reasons that they didn’t. It was too much of a reminder of how wrong they had been. He donated several properties to the rebuilding effort, made into Healing Clinics, or Relief Centres. The rebuilt Manor was now home to the many children who had been orphaned in the war, an act that he was particularly proud of. The only house he retained was the townhouse in Wizarding London. He divided the fortune and dispensed it where it was most useful, keeping only what he felt he needed to survive until he was able to find employment.
That had been the real trial. Despite having the Malfoy name officially cleared, and all of the good he was doing in their world, nobody wanted to employ him. ‘Too risky’, they would murmur when they thought he wasn’t in earshot, ‘not worth the chance.’ In hindsight he didn’t really blame them, but at the time he had been angry enough to explode.
The only person who would give him a chance was Harry bloody Potter. The git had taken pity on him, after finding him in a bar one night getting pissed, and had gotten him a job as an Auror. It made a weird kind of sense. After all, he did have the grades, and he had the battle experience on his side. The only thing against him was his last name, and Potter had made a damned good case about how that shouldn’t matter. The Ministry, not wanting to seem like they were discriminating, eventually yielded. The worst thing about it all was that he had been Harry bloody Potter’s partner for the last four years.
He knew the man better than he had ever wanted to know him, because the first thing they taught you in Auror training was that you had to be able to trust your partner implicitly. To do that, you needed to know everything about your partner, and they in turn needed to know everything about you. Right down to whether you fastened or zipped your pants first when you got dressed in the morning. That had been an extremely unreal conversation late one night on a stake out, a conversation that he dearly wished he could erase from his brain.
What was more, he knew the man’s wife. Ginevra Weasley, all grown up, and just as talented as any Auror, had chosen instead to become a professor at Hogwarts. She split her time between teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts, and Potions, of all things, and was the best professor to have taken either position since her own time at Hogwarts. She also held the honour of being the first professor in many years to teach the DADA subject for longer than a year.
Truth be told, he was not surprised about the divorce announcement. He knew, from having spent several uncomfortable dinners at Grimmauld Place ignoring the fact that they’d just had a row in the kitchen and were not speaking to each other, that all was not well in the Potter household. He also knew that the Prophet was grasping for a story when they called him a philanderer. The girl in the very fuzzy photograph was not a potential mistress, but, in fact, an informant of theirs. The reason he knew that was because, had the photograph been printed in its entirety, he would have seen himself standing on the other side of Potter.
But he did wonder what had pushed the envelope, so to speak. They fought terribly all the time. What had happened that was monumental enough to warrant such a major development?
If the steady banging on his front door was any indication, he was about to find out.
He heard the only remaining Malfoy house elf speaking to the visitor. From the light tones of the voice, he gathered that it was not Potter who had come calling, but his soon to be ex wife. He frowned. Not what he expected.
He put his drink down, went to the door of his study and pulled it open to see into the hallway.
She was dripping wet, evidently it was raining. She was also politely arguing with the house elf, who was obviously trying to convince her that he wasn’t seeing any visitors. Which he wasn’t, but, given the circumstances, he would make an exception. His curiosity was piqued.
“It’s alright Mazie, Mrs. Potter is welcome to come in. Why don’t you see to some dinner?” he told her. The elf turned to him and nodded enthusiastically, she always fretted when he didn’t eat properly, and she missed having guests to look after.
“Mazie will take Ma’am’s cloak for her,” the elf said, manoeuvering Ginny out of the sopping cloak before she could protest. She shrugged when the elf disappeared with it and pulled out her wand to perform a drying charm. When she was finished, she eyed him from where she was standing.
“I suppose you’ve seen today’s Prophet.” Ginny averted her gaze to a portrait hanging on the wall next to her.
“I have.” Draco leaned back against the doorjamb.
“Did you read the articles, or just the shocker headlines?” she asked.
“Does it matter? Both seem to convey the same information. I’m confused though, as to why you’re turning up on my doorstep, and not spending the evening surrounded by your ever loving family,” he answered.
“As much as I love my family, I don’t want to be smothered in well-intended sympathy. I won’t get sympathetic noises from you,” she said.
“Too true. Why don’t you come in? I was just having a drink, can I get you something?” he asked, gesturing vaguely behind him.
“I’ll just have some water if you don’t mind,” she said.
He led her back into the room he had just vacated, added another log to the fire he was burning and then busied himself at his drinks tray, pouring her some water from a pitcher and adding a slice of lemon and some ice. She took it gratefully and then seated herself on one of his cushy chairs in front of the fire.
He watched her stare into her glass for a moment then sat down opposite her after he freshened his Firewhisky.
“So, Weasley,” he started, his curiosity refusing to be ignored. “What exactly did Potter do to warrant divorce proceedings? I know that the story the Prophet is spinning is grasping at straws.” She smiled faintly at his words. He still called her Weasley all the time. Most of the time he did it to annoy Harry, but he also knew that she preferred it. She had never officially taken Harry’s name. She was Mrs. Potter to many, but professionally she was Professor Weasley.
She looked up at him, but the distance in her eyes told him she was looking right through him.
“I think we started our marriage headed for divorce,” she said.
“But true. All we’ve done for the last four years is fight. If we’re not having an all out row over something big, we’re needling each other about something little. And that’s the way we started out. Neither of us wanted the wedding that we had, I’d wanted a small family gathering, he wanted to elope, and we ended up with over 200 people attending the thing. I wanted to make my wedding dress; he wanted to buy me some cake topper like thing that cost more than my year’s salary. Our cake was two different flavours because we couldn’t agree on just one. Did you know that I didn’t want to live at Grimmauld Place? I wanted to find a place that was our own. But Harry wouldn’t give up the drafty, dank old place. I think somewhere between being teenagers in love and getting married, we became two very different people, but neither of us was prepared to be the one to stand up and say it.” She took a deep breath after she stopped talking.
“It’s hard to stand up against expectations. If you don’t have support, you can cave far too easily,” he said.
She smiled at him then, a genuine smile that finally lit up her face.
“I knew you were the best person to talk to right now. My mother, as wonderful as she is, would be trying to convince me not to be making such rash decisions. She’d tell me that everything would blow over and we’d make up in no time,” she said.
He smiled back at her, but there wasn’t really anything he could say to that, so he said nothing. She sighed then, and looked away, back into her water.
“But I suppose the real kicker was that I’m pregnant.”
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.