A/N – Now this is an interesting exercise. Or at least, at 12.47am, I think it is interesting. This little introductory, world-building piece has quite a number of loose ends trailing off into plot bunnies and side stories. Most likely I will be inspired to go further into them, and will add more chapters, explaining, shading in the back story and so on, but even if I don’t you can all imagine. I will say that this was brought on by too much of the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett, and from any number of post-Cold War spy/action thrillers. And, strangely enough, from ‘The Lions of Al-Rassan’, by Guy Gavriel Kay.
Disclaimer – I don’t own the canon concepts or characters. They are all the property of JKR, and any other companies who have an interest in Harry Potter.
He did not like to be touched.
That taut, pale face, the rapidly beating pulse that was the only moving thing about him – it all seemed to belie the mythical composure, the iron strength of his restraint and self-control that had served him so well in the last few years. He had achieved so much success, won himself such a reputation, that it was hard to believe, sometimes, that he was only thirty years old – for pureblooded wizards, long lived as they were, he was barely into his prime.
There had been open war for the last fifteen years, and he had been in the thick of it; he had fought for every conceivable side, taking his considerable talents to so many masters that there were none, now, who trusted him completely, and yet none who could afford to give up the chance to have him on their side. Even now, she did not know who or what he truly served, or what he truly believed in – why, when in a war where there had seemed to be only two sides, good and evil, black and white, he made the fine ground between both his own…
Traitor, some had said. Serving both – all – sides, completely loyal to nothing and no one, betraying everyone in his insincerity.
Spy, others had said. Double agent. And yet, he had been completely and utterly discreet in the performance of all his contracts, no matter who or what he served.
Opportunist, said the more cynical. And perhaps this was the closest to the truth so far – he swung between Voldemort and the Ministry, between the Death Eater splinter groups on the continent and the forces opposing them, between the American Aurors and the shadowy groups they fought, most of which had some ties at least to Voldemort or those like him.
Because the war was so much larger than Britain, so much more complex than a simple fight between two sides. And there was scope, within that much larger context, for a number of grey, ambiguous figures – skilful, well practiced figures – to ply their trade. Mercenaries. Diplomats for hire. Assassins. But of them all, Draco Malfoy was perhaps the most notorious: for his skills – so well honed and in such demand – for his personal presence, which was considerable, and lastly, for his name.
He was a Malfoy. The only son and heir of Lucius Malfoy, the right hand man of the Dark Lord himself, who had planned and executed the 1972 bombing campaign in London, signaling the beginning of the true violence of the Rising – and then had orchestrated the war itself, until Harry Potter had put an end to it. The only son and heir of Narcissa Malfoy, who had been the Order’s most carefully hidden spy, and who had been responsible for the arrest and execution of nearly all of the Inner Circle in 1997, when they had all but destroyed the original parent group but inadvertently given rise to innumerous splinter groups, all claiming to be inheritors to the Death Eaters.
He had ties of loyalty as well as hatred to both the Ministry and the Death Eaters, ties that he could take up or shed seemingly at will, but there was one tie – one completely unexpected, inexplicable tie – that some unknown force had saddled him with that he could not deny.
His marriage to Ginny Weasley.
She remembered that night, that one, terrible night in Moscow when – working undercover for what was left of Russian Wizarding Intelligence – he had given her the only thing he had that could possibly keep her safe: the protection – such as it was – of his name. The precarious shelter of House Malfoy, fallen far from its past glories, its historical standing… And the strong arm of a husband and protector who knew no real loyalty, but who was, even without a master (because he had no master) one of the most significant men in the circles of the war.
For one night, in the bitter cold of the Russian winter, he had shown her far too much. She had had a glimpse of something, something so fundamentally vital and private, that she had never seen in anyone else, before or afterwards... For one night, they had lain chastely beside each other to gain the pretence of legitimacy necessary for the charade of a marriage –
And then, in the next morning, they had gone their separate ways – he, off to another contract, another source of employment and interest, and she, back to England, to her family, and her old life.
But nothing had ever been the same, ever again.
And now he was back, watching her with those fathomless grey eyes and pleasantly polite mask – but he was taking too much trouble to control his breathing, and there was a fine, imperceptible trembling in his muscles whenever she came too close.
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