Lonely Reign, Part 4

Friday, 11.34 pm, 6th year Hufflepuff’s girls’ dorm

“Oh, Millicent,” breathed Hannah. “You’re… you’re…”

“Millicent, you’re beautiful,” Susan finished.

And she was. After straightening and altering the blunt-cut pageboy Millicent had sported since her second year, her blue-black hair framed her face most flatteringly, emphasizing her crystalline blue eyes and high cheekbones while minimizing her rather strong, square jaw.

She’d thought sitting through the eyebrow plucking, mustache waxing, mascara wand jabbing, and every other form of beauty-related torture the Hufflepuffs had put her through would send her into a towering rage, but one look at the new and improved her in the mirror (which gave a piercing wolf-whistle) had made her admit that it had all, in fact, been well worth it.

They’d all changed into their shorty pajamas hours ago, earning Millicent her first gasps of shock from the Hufflepuffs.

“Wow,” Laura said. It was fairly obvious that Millicent was a big girl, tall and strong, but what was not public knowledge was that she was an absolute Amazon—meaning, possessing of lithe, muscled limbs and the breasts and hips of a goddess.

“Those robes have a lot to answer for,” commented Hannah. “I can’t believe they’ve been hiding that all these years.”

“Haven’t had it all these years,” Millicent said gruffly. “Was flat as a board until last year.”

Even in her shorty pajamas, with her long legs and new hair-do and thin eyebrows and careful cosmetics and expression of grudging, reluctant happiness, Millicent looked like a warrior princess.

“I think this calls for a celebration,” Susan said. “You know what that means!”

“Kitchen raid!” chorused Hannah and Laura, and the Hufflepuffs scrambled to put on their house slippers.

“Won’t we get caught?” Millicent asked, feeling the need for at least a token protest.

“We might,” Laura conceded. “But everyone but Snape likes Hufflepuffs, and Snape likes you, so we should be ok.”

Millicent nodded. She was hungry, anyway.

They snuck out of Hufflepuff. Millicent took the lead, looking rather pantherish as she slinked down hallways and along corridors, darting down staircases and expertly avoiding missing steps. Once they arrived at the painting guarding the door to the kitchen, Susan tickled the pear and they slipped inside.

Filling their arms with sandwiches, bottles of butterbeer and pumpkin juice, and a mountain of chocolate éclairs, they left the kitchen. Coming to a stair landing, Millicent said, “If we went down these steps,” she nodded in one direction, “rather than up those,” she nodded in the other, “we’d come right to the Slytherin rooms.”

It was her way of offering to show them where she lived, and after a brief, wordless conference the Hufflepuff girls agreed. “Veni, vidi, vici,” Millicent whispered as the others pretended not to listen for the password.

The common room was deserted. “Let’s eat here!” Hannah suggested.

“But we could get caught!” Susan protested.

“That’s the fun of it,” Hannah said, dimpling, and they spread out their spoils on the coffee table, sitting around it on the floor.

They were able to keep their voices to low whispers while they were eating and just drinking pumpkin juice, but once they started on the butterbeer discretion began to be forgotten.

“…And so that’s when I accused him of being a vampire!” Susan said with a giggle.

“You didn’t!” exclaimed Laura.

“Oh, Sue, how could you?” Hannah asked sorrowfully. “The poor boy.”

“Not my fault his hands were so bloody cold!” Susan replied, adding merrily, “My nipples were hard for a week after that! Thank Merlin for baggy robes!”

“Thank Merlin, indeed,” drawled a voice from the direction of the stairs to the dormitories. The dim light from the wall torches revealed Draco Malfoy standing there, forearm resting casually against the doorjamb. He wore black flannel pajama bottoms and nothing else.

The girls leapt to their feet, gasping in shock.

“Bulstrode, is that you?” he demanded, striding toward them. “Bloody hell, woman, you do have a bosom! Wherever have you been hiding it?”

Millicent’s blush could even be seen in the semi-darkness. “Baggy robes,” she mumbled, staring at Draco’s bare feet.

He tilted her head up with a finger on her chin, and smiled. “Well done, Bulstrode.”

She smiled back. It was always good to receive approval from one’s liege, after all.

Draco’s gaze roamed over the other three appreciatively, and then he dropped into a plump black leather couch, plucking the last éclair from the table. “So,” he began, motioning languidly for them to be seated. “To what does Slytherin owe this honour?”

“Millicent just wanted to show us your common room,” Hannah said breathlessly, her eyes glued to Draco’s naked chest. “I’m very, very glad she did.”

“Me, too,” Susan agreed with fervour.

Draco smirked, “The common room has never before been so appreciated,” he said dryly. “And you, Madley? Are you glad to be here, as well?”

“Bit draughty,” she replied, looking around. “Bit gloomy. Bit damp.”

“But it’s home,” he finished, and grinned naughtily at her. In the torchlight, her hair looked like gilded bronze and those pajamas really were indecently short, and made of some sinfully soft cotton fabric that clung in most appealing ways…

Draco blinked away the thought, and finished his éclair, then snagged Hannah’s half-finished bottle of butterbeer. “Is this the culprit behind the racket that woke me from my admittedly unnecessary beauty sleep?”

They had the grace to look somewhat abashed (although on Millicent, it merely looked vaguely constipated). Hannah and Susan rushed to apologize.

“Would you like me to sing you to sleep, Draco?” Susan asked, while Hannah offered to stroke his hair in a soothing manner.

“Ease up, you pair of slags,” Laura said affectionately, laughing. “You’ll break the poor boy.”

The poor boy raised a silvery brow, looking deeply offended. “They’ll be building snowmen in hell the day I can’t handle myself with two Hufflepuffs,” he told her, scowling when she only laughed harder.

“Of course, Draco dear,” she replied, and patted his hand.

“Don’t patronize me,” he hissed, his hand a pale blur as he grabbed her wrist. His eyes were mere silver slits as they bored into hers.

“Uh-oh,” Hannah squeaked. “Time to go.”

“We’ll just be waiting in the hallway,” said Susan. Millicent peered at Draco a moment, seeming satisfied he wouldn’t actually kill Laura, and followed behind them.

Laura’s heart was beating very fast, and she couldn’t decide whether it was from fear or… something else. Draco’s breath was warm on her cheek, sweet and chocolate-scented from the éclair, and his chest was like carved ivory, pale and smooth in the flickering orange-gold light.

“Draco,” she said, and was proud her voice had only a barely noticeable quaver, “you’re hurting me.”

His grip slackened, but he didn’t release her. “It’s been less than a week, and you’ve been flouting my authority with the others entirely too often for my pleasure.”

“I… have?” She searched frantically through the past few days for incidents when she’d spoken or acted against him. There was the picnic, granted, and then she’d… and… “Oh.”

“Yes, ‘oh’.” He pulled gently on her arm, and she was forced to sit beside him or tumble across his lap. “In Slytherin, reputation and standing are everything. Everything, Madley,” he emphasized. “Every time you go against what I say, it makes me lose face in front of the rest of them.”

“Why does that matter?” she wanted to know, staring at him.

He looked at her in disbelief that she could be so naïve.

“I am a Hufflepuff,” she reminded him dryly, and he nodded.

“Slyths only respect the one on top. And without that respect, there’s no telling what can happen to you. There are forces at work in this house you can’t begin to imagine, Madley.”

He leaned forward, gaze almost caressing as it flicked over her features. “I’ve been the Slytherin Prince for the past six years, and I plan on being the reigning monarch for the remaining time I have here. You will not interfere with this. Do you understand me?”

“Draco, you’re not actually a prince,” Laura said softly. She looked quite frightened.

He brushed this aside like a mere mosquito. “When everyone accords you droit de seigneur, you’re anything you want to be.” Slowly, insultingly, he released her wrist and tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear. “Now, mignonne, go to your friends waiting so patiently in the hallway and return to casa Hufflepuff.”

Laura’s courage deserted her, and she bolted from the room without a backward glance.

“Everything ok?” Susan asked while Hannah looked her over for evidence of broken bones. Millicent just raised an eyebrow.

“As ok as it ever is with him,” Laura said, shivering. “Let’s go.”