Lonely Reign, Part 12



Draco wasn’t used to being patient. He certainly wasn’t used to putting himself out for others, not to keeping quiet when he wanted to say something. And Laura was nearly frantic to be away; that much was quite clear. It was therefore with an astonishing amount of relief that they heard the doorknob grind as it was turned. Draco was not surprised to see Pansy rush in, hurrying past him to hover anxiously over her egg like an epileptic hummingbird. Goyle lumbered by in her wake, his face enough to touch a normal person with its expression of slightly confused but nonetheless deep concern.


Draco was pleased to say he was far from normal, and paid his housemates no heed whatsoever, as behind Goyle came the three entities only slightly more welcome in his vicinity than an outbreak of the plague. In fact, Draco mused as Potter’s bespectacled head  appeared around the door jamb, a nice set of buboes in the armpit just might be preferable.


In the intervening weeks since his cataclysmic interlude with Laura over her behaviour with The Boy Who Made Draco Malfoy Long for a Pair of Thumbscrews, the grand Potter/Madley romance had cooled notably, and the Gryffindor had been observed in much greater proximity to his insufferable mudblood pet— quite nearly close enough for it to be termed “snuggling”, though not close enough for it to be “nuzzling”, his female housemates had assured him.


Draco didn’t really care what the proper classification was. All he knew was that Laura had liked Potter for some mysterious reason, and Potter had somehow come to prefer the plain, bookish, and all-round unpleasant Granger to the luscious Hufflepuff, who was now doubtless anguished over his defection. He wasn’t surprised. Potter had proven himself to have deplorable taste in all other manner of things; why not girlfriends, too? It really ought not to matter to me, he thought as a fine red mist seemed to float up before his vision, that Laura will be hurt and uncomfortable to see Potter and Granger together, as they undeniably were if their linked hands and nauseatingly intimate shared glances were any sort of proof.


For Draco was not a boy accustomed to giving a toss whether or not someone else was hurt or uncomfortable; in fact, he was usually quite happy to encounter someone in either of those states, and took great pleasure in inflicting it upon them if they were not. So the fact that he was working himself up to a right fury on Laura’s behalf was imminently baffling to him even as he stepped forward and, with one beautifully effective blow, laid Potter flat on the ground.


Of course, then Potter’s simian friend, Weasley, had to get involved. Alerted by the groans of pain, Goyle joined the fray, and before the girls knew it, there was naught but a flurry of dust and fists as the four boys flung themselves happily into a wild pugilistic tumult.


Laura was alarmed at first, even going so far as to venture forth with intent to separate them, but Hermione swiftly pulled her back to a safe distance.


“Let them,” she instructed sagely. “They’ve been aching to beat each other to pulps for years now.” Hermione surveyed their cozy surroundings as if Goyle hadn’t just had his nose audibly broken. “What’s been happening?”


“The egg’s hatching,” Laura replied succinctly, then flinched back when a spurt of blood came flying their way. “Why are you here?”


“Dumbledore asked us to bring Pansy and Goyle here, since we knew where it was and how to get in,” Hermione answered, idly rubbing the toe of her left shoe against the back of her right leg to remove the splatter. “Ooh, Ron, nice one,” she commented encouragingly when that boy got in a particularly good punch at Draco. He grinned rakishly at her and so did not see Goyle’s ham-sized fist launching toward him until it connected solidly with his chin.


Both girls winced in sympathy and stepped back once more as the spittle flew. “Pansy wants to name the bird Robert if it’s a boy, and Leopold if it’s a girl,” Laura ventured into the awkward silence that commenced.


Hermione’s brows lifted skywards. “Why in the world…?”


Laura only shook her head. “You’ll have to ask her,” she answered, motioning to the girl in question. Pansy sat beside her issue, seemingly oblivious to the mayhem occurring elsewhere in the room. She’d pulled one of the chairs close to the stool upon which the egg reposed, tucking the blanket more snugly around it and stroking it gently. It would have been a tender scene indeed, had it not consisted of one rather manic teen mother and the egg she had expelled whilst in the form of a long-extinct flightless bird.


Helpless to resist her curiosity, Hermione turned from the fight—the boys were tiring anyway, and it wasn’t as entertaining as it had been earlier—and approached the Slytherin. “Pansy?” Hermione addressed her tentatively.


Pansy lifted her teary gaze from where she’d locked it on her unborn child to rest it on the other girl. “Yes?” she replied cautiously.


“Laura just told me the names you want to give your egg when it hatches,” Hermione said. “She said you wanted ‘Leopold’ for a girl,” she continued, puzzlement plain on her face.


Pansy snuffled into a crumpled tissue before responding. “And?” she demanded a touch sullenly. It had not been a good day for her—first her egg was in danger of being taken for invasive study by magical scientists, and now she was forced to associate with Hermione Granger: mudblood, Gryffindor, and insufferable know-it-all.


“And… I was just wondering… why Leopold for a girl?” Hermione’s expression was that of a person affronted, as if she considered it very poor manners indeed for someone to do something which she could not fathom.


Pansy leapt to her feet. “What’s wrong with Leopold for a girl?” she exclaimed, face flushing in anger. “My grandmother’s name is Leopold!” In the background, groans of pain and a suspicious splooshing sound could be heard.


Hermione took a step back. “Oh,” she said. “I… I didn’t know. I’m sorry.” She turned and began to walk away from the outraged Pansy, but her curiosity got the better of her and before she knew it she was back again, toe tapping the floor impatiently as she strove to figure out a polite way of asking what she wanted to know.


It proved beyond her, unfortunately. “Why was your grandmother named Leopold?” she blurted out at last.


Pansy eyed the other girl suspiciously, trying gauge her level of interest and possibility for mockery. Apparently finding the risk acceptable, she said, “We’re descendants of the famous composer, Leopold Godowsky. It’s been a tradition in the family for ages to have the first-born of a generation carry his name, even if it’s a girl. And my egg—“ here she began to cry again—“is the first of the next generation to be born.”


Hermione listened with wide eyes. Greatly ashamed, she whispered, “Really?”


Pansy grinned suddenly, straightening. “No, not really,” she said with great glee. “Bloody gullible Gryffindor. My grandmother’s named Leopold because her parents were completely barmy, and I want to name the egg Leopold because the situation’s ludicrous enough as it is—can you see me trying to give a dodo a serious name like Elizabeth or Jonathan?”


And Hermione slunk away once more while Pansy’s laughter rang off the stone walls. “Bloody Slytherins,” she griped to Laura, who stood frozen in horror as the boys staggered to their feet, dripping blood and chips of broken tooth and bits of tattered robe and locks of yanked-out hair. “How’ve you managed to keep from killing them for so long?”


But Laura did not answer, because she’d caught a few muttered sentences in between all the brawling, most notably Draco’s furious, “And that’s for throwing Laura over for Granger, you imbecile.” She recalled how viciously he and the rest had viciously taken care of Roger Davies a few months earlier, and suddenly the mysterious suddenness of his attack on Harry wasn’t so mysterious.


She had underestimated the force of his jealousy, she realized then, as well as the strength of his hurt and rage when he thought she wanted to be with Harry instead of him. His pride was a massive thing, almost its own living entity, and it had been severely mangled by what he considered her deviance in preferring Harry.


“Because they’re lovely,” she whispered. At that moment, with his hair looking like it had been chewed off (and judging by the white-gold strands clinging to Ron’s lips, it just might have been) and blood smeared across his face from a split lip, Laura thought Draco Malfoy was the loveliest thing she’d ever seen.


And he was watching her carefully, like the predator he was. She was suddenly keenly conscious of how she must look: face pale from the strain and alarm of the last half-hour, robes askew, hair most likely wild from their mad dash up stairs and down corridors to save the egg.


“Madley, you look like someone dragged you through a keyhole backwards,” Draco drawled. “Come on, give us a kiss, then.” It was the closest he’d ever come to an apology, she realized, and took it as such.


And as the Golden Trio, Pansy Parkinson, and Gregory Goyle watched in amazement, Laura stepped forward obediently and tilted her face up for his kiss. He tasted like Peppermint Imps and blood, and she quickly drew back. “Draco, I—“ she began but was swiftly cut off.


“It’s coming!” Pansy shrieked, rushing back to the egg, which had begun to crack in earnest. “It’s coming!” She turned back to the others, hands clasped rapturously over her breast. “In just a few minutes, I’ll be a mother.”


On the best of days, Goyle looked like God had smeared the clay of his visage before it was fully set, and this was far from the best of his days. In spite of that, however, the smile that spread sluggishly over his face made him almost handsome.




But not quite.


He plodded over and rested one enormous hand on the egg. “I can feel it move,” he said, eyes brightening as he lifted them to meet Pansy’s. “It’s almost here!”


A loud crack rent the air, and a sizable chunk of shell came away, carefully peeled back by the expectant mother. Another crack, another bit of shell removed. Pansy inserted her fingers into the hole and tugged gently, and with one last crack, the shell split into two.


And laying there in the midst of it all, soggy and spindly and quite possibly the ugliest thing any of them had ever seen, was Leopold. Pansy’s squeal of delight was abruptly silenced by Draco’s judicious clapping of his hand over her mouth, lest she damage the baby’s newly exposed eardrums, so she settled for hopping up and down excitedly.


Goyle lifted the tiny bird in one huge paw and carefully wiped some goo out of its eyes. When they blearily opened and latched onto his, he smiled goofily before handing it over to Pansy. “Off to your mum, then,” he said gruffly, and Laura gazed up at Draco, her gaze liquid.


“Don’t get any ideas,” he whispered in her ear. “No matter how prettily you beg, I refuse to have a dodo with you.”


“Even if I beg very prettily indeed?” she dared to tease, giving him a light pinch on his stomach.


Draco looked thoughtful for a moment, as if he were considering. Then, “No. That’s another thing Malfoys don’t do—we don’t have birds for offspring, no matter how majestic, rare, or amazing a bird it is.”


Leopold sneezed and fell over, with the result being that he looked even less majestic than he had before (which is to say, not at all). And Laura just nodded her agreement. She didn’t really want to be mother to a bird either, after all.