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Blood and hair

by Te

Blood and hair
by Te
April 30, 2003

Disclaimers: Not mine in the slightest.

Spoilers: None.

Summary: Harry's always on stage.

Ratings Note: R.

Author's Note: I was bitching about Harry Potter fic, and fanon Draco, and the Spike talked to me about hair -- giving me the image that made this story.

Acknowledgments: To the Spike, from whom all blessings flow.

Feedback: Yes, please. teland@teland.com

*

The first sign Harry has of Malfoy is the smell of burning hair. He hates the fact that he knows the scent well enough to identify it on first inhale. He supposes that hate will make this easier.

The room they've brought Malfoy to is small, bare, and exceedingly well-used -- a detail which a small part of Harry wants to use as proof they're winning this war -- and it's an effort not to count the scuffs on the floor. They're bright in a dark place, exposing new (bleeding) wood to everyone present.

Malfoy -- he hasn't thought of him as Draco for quite some time now -- is sitting behind the single scarred table, practicing a sneer that seems far more real than it should. There's an oddness about him that Harry can't quite immediately place. Sirius looms in the corner, beetle-browed and crackling on the inside.

Literally. Someone has cast a healing charm on him, and somewhere beneath his rough, woolen robes there are bones knitting together. The only thing that shows on his face is rage, very clearly directed at Malfoy.

Malfoy isn't looking directly at either of them, and could very well be entertaining some pleasantly vile fantasy while they wait and watch. This, too, Harry is accustomed to. Death Eaters who make it this far are often filled with a sense of their own importance. And defiance, of course.

It's why he's here.

Hermione had a theory about it. The presence of The Boy Who Lived as psychological weapon, as proof that whoever sits in that chair behind the table had done something very bad indeed. Something to rate him or her high on the list for vengeance. She thought it made them more likely to talk.

Harry thinks it just makes them more smug, but he plays his part. Slowly, carefully, removes his wand from his belt and places it on the table before him. Trails one slow finger along a portion of its length.

Stares, silently, at Malfoy.

For his part, Sirius growls low in his throat and shifts menacingly. He has found time over the years to feed himself, and has perfected his loom. He looks like a dog just rabid enough to brutalize, and just sane enough to do it on command.

Draco just stares. Perhaps deepens his smirk. Harry can see where wrinkles will eventually form -- the Malfoy equivalent of laugh lines. And he can see... well. The oddness. The silver-white hair Malfoy used to toss as much as any girl had been burnt away along the right side of his scalp, leaving nothing but heat-reddened flesh.

It looked like a particularly brutal and incomplete widow's peak.

The infernum curse, batted back against its wielder, most probably. The hair around the bald patch was charred, the flesh of forehead and throat bruised. The fire hadn't been beat out with any degree of gentleness.

Harry knows this is supposed to make him smile, or at the very least heat inside with admittedly ugly triumph, but truthfully it just makes him... tired.

He can't help wondering who among 'his' troops had narrowly missed being burnt alive.

He takes a breath of stale air and focuses on Malfoy, half-consciously leaning forward in what he'd been told was a gesture with its own degree of menace. "Do you want to be healed?"

Malfoy spares him a glance, slow and contemptuous. Says nothing.

It occurs to Harry that, once upon a time, Malfoy would have been sniveling by now, or at least snarling about his rights as a pureblood wizard. This, at least, makes him smile. Makes it easier. "Who bought you a spine, Malfoy?"

A lip curl, and Malfoy is once again staring into the middle distance.

"It couldn't have been your father. He is, after all, dead."

A hint of color.

"We buried him in a traitor's grave, Malfoy. Well, what was left of him."

Sirius snorts with genuine humor behind him, and seems content to let Harry... have his way. For now. Malfoy still isn't looking at him, but he's making inattention look difficult. When he'd been Draco, there had always been a well of rage to draw on, virulent and endless.

"Perhaps it was your mother...? Oh, no, she's renounced you and taken back her maiden name. I'd forgotten." Harry smiles, slow and carefully crafted. "You don't have anyone, do you, Malfoy?"

Malfoy faces him at last, chin up and eyes blazing. "We will burn you from the face of the wizarding world and use your ashes for potions, Potter."

Sirius snorts again. "That would be more impressive if we didn't know who taught you that little bit of defiance, Malfoy. It loses its potency over time."

Malfoy's cheek twitches, just a little, like an invitation to punch. Harry taps it with the tip of his wand, instead, and says the words he's been taught: "It's been a long, difficult war, Malfoy. The ranks grow weary, and we don't have the time for..." A careful pause. "Talk."

On cue, Sirius sits in a sprawl at the edge of the table. On cue, the table creaks ominously. Harry wonders if all actors get tired of their roles, eventually. Malfoy has narrowed his eyes, though, and his lips move with things unspoken.

Mostly unspoken. "You don't have the stomach for torture," he says to the room, and Harry nods. Thinks of the perfection of clockwork.

"That's why Sirius is here," he says, and stands with a scrape of chair legs and the indifferently elegant fall of his robes. He doesn't hesitate (one must never, never show), but turns and makes for the door.

There is still a part of him that wishes for the prisoners to talk at times like these, that relaxes in relief when they do. Draco doesn't say a word, though, and Harry is outside in the draughty hall in a moment, door closed behind him.

Something hitches in his throat, and spreads through him with the heat of bile. He hasn't actually vomited since Flint had gotten in a lucky curse, though. Behind him, there is the sound of strangled screams.

Ahead of him is another door, and another stage.

Undoubtedly, the players will know their lines.

End.


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