Pretty as a Peach

Title: Pretty as a Peach
Content Warning: NC-17
Warnings: Character Bashing, Dark Themes, Death – Major Character, Death – Minor Character, Hate Crimes, Murder, Racism, Violence – Canon – Level
Genres: Alternate Universe,Time Travel
Relationships: Harry/Hermione, Draco/Neville

Author Note: This is the beginning of part three of my Peaches series: The Sweet Taste of Peaches

Summary: As the time travelers prepare to attend Hogwarts for the second time, Draco must face his father.

– – – –

“Draco, darling, have you finished packing for school?” Narcissa Malfoy entered Draco’s bedroom as the house elf, Dobby, finished packing the last of the clothing.

“Almost, mother. I only have a few more items to include.” Draco grinned at her before looking back down to finish tying the strap on his grooming kit. He slipped it in the trunk, and quickly followed it with the box of trinkets and his quill and ink set. “That’s everything.”

“Excellent. Dobby leave the trunk in the outer rooms and you can return to your duties.” Narcissa took Draco by the hand and he followed her to the bench in the room. “Now, do you want to confide in me what it is that has had you so distracted and distant lately?”

Draco sighed and acknowledged it was naive to think he was fooling mother. She was always the most observant. He quickly considered and discarded several ideas before addressing one that he felt she would not find suspect. “Mother, would you mind terribly if I didn’t end up in Slytherin?”

“Is that what has been worrying you? I would not worry, my son, the Malfoys and the Blacks have a long history of children sorted to Slytherin House. You will find lifelong allies there. Many aligned families are aware that you will be arriving this year. Slytherin will provide you the support you require to succeed.”

“But what if I’m not sorted to Slytherin? There have been those sorted to other Houses. Will Father disown me if I do not follow the tradition into Slytherin?” Draco seriously needed to know if Lucius should suffer a deadly accident prior to term. He had been contemplating patricide since he got over the initial shock of time travel.

“No, your father will not disown you, Draco.” Narcissa wrapped an arm around Draco to give him a soft hug. “I feel you have nothing to worry about, but even if you ended up in Hufflepuff, or, Magic save us, Gryffindor, I assure you that I will love you no matter what. And the last thing I would allow is for your father to disown you.”

She moved with her free hand to grip Draco’s chin and move it up to meet her eyes. “Do not let your father worry you. You are the heir and I will not allow him to disown you, no matter where you end up. I know you are concerned about earning your father’s approval, but I am most concerned that you are happy and healthy.”

“Are you truly, Mother?”

“Of course, my beautiful Dragon. You are my only son. The love of a mother for their child is unlike anything you can imagine.” She kissed him lightly on the cheek before hugging him close.

Draco closed his eyes and swallowed hard before whispering in her ear, “Because Father made sure I was the only child you could have.”

She clinched him tightly in shock as she stiffened up. Firmly taking hold of his arms she pushed him back to meet her eyes. “Where did you hear this?” There was anger and fear in her eyes.

“There was a journal from the year I was born in Father’s study. I just wanted to know what he wrote about the day I was born. He made you drink it—the potion.” Draco looked away from the pain she showed. “He was more concerned about angering the Dark Lord than if we lived.”

“Oh, my sweet, sweet boy. I wish you had never found it. A boy should always be able to look up to his father.”

Draco jerked back to look at her in anger. “Look up to him? He would have killed us both based solely on the day I was to be born in order to keep his position and favor with a madman who believed a baby could kill him. What might he do if I don’t sort as he expects? What would he do to you if you cross him? I know my father well enough to understand how dangerous he can be.”

She brushed back his hair, “You are much too young for these thoughts. Questions such as these are dangerous. You must never allow your father to hear you ask them.”

“Do you fear Father?” Draco asked earnestly.

“I respect power, Draco, as should you. Your Father holds immense power in our world. Remember that well. Respect that power. Use it when necessary. You are young and others will expect you to rely on your Father’s reputation. Do it when needed to keep up your image as a Malfoy. But remember always, that the winner is the one who survives. Do whatever you need to do in order to assure your own survival.”

“Even if it means going against Father? I’m not sure I could if you were in danger.” Draco leaned against her trying to decide how to keep her safe.

“You must, my Dragon. You must survive. My life is meaningless without you. You are my only child and I will do what I must to keep you alive. If that means we pander to your father then we do. If it means I make plans to take us into hiding, I will make those plans.” Narcissa sighed and hugged him tightly before releasing and setting back to smooth her robes into place.

Draco looked at her for a long moment, standing there resolute. “I love you, Mother. I want you to be safe. It’s all I want.”

She smiled softly at him and reached out to smooth back his hair. “And I want you happy. For now, do whatever you must to appease your father and focus on your first year of school. Make friends, learn, have fun—be a child, my son, for as long as you may. Let me worry about life and survival for now.”

After a last long look she turned and flowed gracefully out of the room. Draco watched long after she disappeared and made a promise to himself that he would protect her, no matter what.

***

Now, your father will be home from France this evening. Dinner will be formal to celebrate his return.

Draco swallowed hard and used every lesson he had learned at Uncle Severus’ knee to calm his breathing and occlude his mind. He had spent the last several days meditating before bed to build his mindscape. Memories of the days before Hogwarts filled his head to show the image of a young boy excited about his first year at school.

Father arrived home an hour ago and he was awaiting the call to come greet him. It was not the place for a scion of Malfoy to wait about the floo like a common urchin. No, a Malfoy must show decorum at all times. A Malfoy does not wait upon anyone, not even their own Lord and Father to arrive. And he must be a proper Malfoy today.

What had his father been up to since they arrived? Is there any chance he traveled as well? Harry insisted Lucius had died before the spell was triggered, but what if it didn’t matter? Stop it! Draco forced himself to stop that spiral. If Father had traveled with him, that just accelerated the timeframe for the patricide that would soon be forthcoming. He would not, could not allow deatheaters knowledge of the final defeat of Voldemort.

The terror in the night, the random deaths, the insanity were all things that did not bear repeating. But Draco is honest enough with himself to admit that he doesn’t care about the world. The world never cared about him, that’s for damn sure. There’s only one person who ever cared about Draco and that was Mother. To hell with the past and saving the future, his mother’s murderer would not walk free.

And while he was at it, he wouldn’t allow that resurrected madman to touch him again either. He wasn’t sure how he would accomplish it. But he and his mother were going to survive free and intact. He wasn’t alone in this. He only needed to make it to Hogwarts and find a way to work with their little band of travelers to navigate a path to change it all.

“Young Master?” Dobby spoke causing Draco to jerk slightly. “Master be wanting to see young Master in the Study now.”

“Of course. Thank you, Dobby.” Draco tried not to wince when Dobby looked amazed at his courtesy. He needed to remember that he was a right prick toward the elves when he was this age. “Well? Get back to your duties.” He ordered Dobby before turning to walk in the direction of the study.

He took calming breaths as he walked and reminded himself of the nerves and excitement he had felt when he was eleven and Father returned home. His life depended on his ability to project that feeling.

The door to the Study was open when Draco arrived. He entered without hesitating. One did not hesitate when reporting as ordered. A spike of fear and hate ran through him at the first sight of Lucius Malfoy.

He was at that obnoxiously ostentatious desk that spoke of generations of Malfoy privilege. Long platinum blond hair framed his pale features as he reviewed the parchment in front of him. His grey eyes moved quickly over the words, not sparing a glance at Draco’s entrance. It was several silent minutes before he picked up his quill and dipped it in the inkwell before signing the page. There was a brief flash of magic when he affixed his seal below the signature. The document immediately duplicated and the original disappeared.

Draco recognized a goblin contract when he saw one. The original would even now be sitting on the Malfoy Account Manager’s desk to be executed. For the life of him he couldn’t remember if he had ever been told what this one was. But this did correspond with his memories of this day. He watched as Father slid the copy into the appropriate folder before speaking.

“You sent for me, Father?” His voice sounded so incredibly young.

The grey eyes rose to meet his. “Draco. Have a seat.”

Climbing into the chair across from the desk Draco waited until he was seated before inquiring, “Did you have a good trip, Father?”

“It was profitable.” Lucius answered as he met Draco’s gaze.

Draco forced himself not to break eye contact as he felt his father’s legilmency probe. He kept his mindscape intact and knew Lucius didn’t have the skill to break it. It was a lesson he hadn’t learned until later in life and he realized his father had used his ignorance against him repeatedly. It was only a few moments but felt like an eternity before Father broke eye contact to pick up another envelope.

“Your mother has informed me that your school shopping is complete and you are now packed for school. These are the permission forms for you to participate in additional training with your godfather as needed. It should not be necessary, but your mother reminded me that we must not allow Dumbledore any excuse to involve himself in our business.” He handed Draco the envelope.

Draco repressed the desire to open it. “Yes, Father.”

“This will have little meaning once you have been placed in Slytherin. Your Uncle Severus will see to it that you have everything you need. He is a resource you will do well to take advantage of in the coming years. As a Malfoy, your place is secure. Others will seek to align with you quickly in order to garner favor. Use that knowledge to broker place and power for yourself.” Lucius looked down at Draco, calculating.

Draco swallowed slightly and nodded. “I will, Father.”

The man continued to stare a moment before he was apparently satisfied with the response. “Malfoys are leaders, not followers. Leverage the families that owe us allegiance to build your base. Then, determine who your greatest rival might be within the House. Draw them to your side quickly to secure supremacy. If you cannot convince them to join you, you must strike to undermine their position.”

“And my studies, Father?” Draco said, remembering how this discussion excited him the first time around. It was the moment he felt like his father was finally seeing him as his heir. His first moment of being spoken to like an adult. He had been wrong, of course.

“I expect the highest marks from you, Draco. You are a Malfoy. Your blood is the purest there. You must prove yourself worthy to sit in his presence when our Dark Lord returns. Just remember that not every lesson you learn at Hogwarts will be in the classroom.”

“Yes, Father. I will make you proud.” Draco declared, while trying to keep the bile from rising at the light shining in Lucius’ eyes with the mention of the Dark Lord.