First in the Enchantment Series
Title: Thanatos. First in the Enchantment Series.
Pairing(s): (Harry)/Draco, Death/Draco, past Draco/Astoria.
Summary: Harry dies in the Chamber of Secrets as well as Ginny Weasley. Now, six decades later, Draco is having hallucinations of the boy whose memory has haunted him ever since when Death finally comes to claim him.
ExcentrykeMuse’s Notes: It’s been horrible waiting to post it all these months. Influences on the fic are the film “Death Takes a Holiday” (the remake of which was “Meet Joe Black”) and Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” Kudos to those who pick up the references.
Warnings: Character Death (in the past), Sexual Situations, Dub-con, Past Rape, AU
The study was filled with the rich odor of roses, reminding Draco of his wife’s heady scent that he had once craved, but now was nothing more than the reminder of past passions doused in wilted musk. He stood at the veranda doors, his slate gray eyes looking out over the grounds of Malfoy Manor, skimming over the exquisite white peacocks that still adorned the lawns.
Fifty years, he thought to himself. Fifty years ago today.
He brought a Cuban cigar to his aged lips, breathing deeply, neither tasting nor noticing the bittersweet aroma that filled his lungs. Sucking on the tip lightly, his memory turned over each of those fifty years, each one duller than the last, every single one of them a lie to himself and the witch he had married.
Draco couldn’t even claim that he had found a moment of happiness or even contentment in Astoria’s arms—couldn’t bring himself to believe such a falsehood. Not even when her stomach was rounded twice with child could he bring a true smile to his lips. His children, though dear to him, had one fatal flaw, which he hid in the shadows of his eyes, always there but never fully present.
They were his, yes; they would carry on the Malfoy name. He cared for them for that reason, but he could never fully cherish them as a wizarding child should be loved, as he had been cared for when he was not yet grown. He saw the flaw—the imperfection—every time he looked into their gray and blue eyes, saw their blonde heads.
Both Scorpius and Miranda were beautiful, exquisite, true Malfoys—yet neither of them was born from his beloved.
“Fifty long years,” he whispered into the afternoon light. Fifty years of trying to move on from a moment he had never fully admitted had haunted him.
More than ten before that when he had pretended that his heart wasn’t silently breaking since his death.
He closed his eyes in pain as images flooded his senses. A scrawny boy with bright green eyes had smiled shyly as he stood in Madam Malkin’s. Draco had tried to be kind, to engage him in conversation. He hadn’t know that making fun of Hagrid would anger the boy. He had so many friends growing up—Crabbe, Goyle, the Patil twins—but he had wanted a special friend that was all his own, that wasn’t handpicked by his loving parents who only cared about blood purity.
It was a foolish thought to have as a child, Draco thought painfully, but he had wanted it so badly.
Harry, though, was gone now. All those precious months—those two years—wasted when he was captured and brought down to the Chamber of Secrets.
His redheaded friend had claimed that he and Harry had gone down willingly to save his sister, but Draco still couldn’t believe him. He wouldn’t have done that, Draco had to tell himself. He wouldn’t have risked everything for a girl who was a plague. If he had truly known, he would have found an adult.
Draco could no longer cry for a childhood love now lost. He had spent so many that summer following Harry’s death, that his parents had brought in a healer from St. Mungo’s. He was fading, the healer had said, a rare magical disease that hadn’t been seen in centuries.
He had had to be home schooled for two years after that, but it didn’t matter. Nothing really had mattered since then—since Harry had gone away.
A shiver ran down his spine and he turned, feeling like he was being watched. The scent of funeral flowers tickled his senses, masking the ash of his cigar and obscuring the aroma of roses and jasmine.
“Who’s there?” he called calmly, his dulled silver eyes slightly alight with curiosity.
A breath ghosted along his cheek, and he turned again, looking out on the still trees, untouched by spring breezes.
He sighed and dropped the unfinished cigar on the floor, uncaring that it still lay smoldering against the expensive Oriental rug. Dropping his forehead in his hand, he rubbed his wrinkled skin in emotional exhaustion, a single word leaving his lips, “Harry.”
A soft laugh swept across the still air, unheard, echoing, vibrating, yet completely silent. It caressed his senses, stroked his aching muscles without touch, breathed sensually against his lips in a way no woman or man ever had.
… So beautiful …
The words hung absently in the air, unspoken but still reverberating, each syllable elongated and yet mute in their harshness.
… Still so beautiful …
Draco breathed in deeply the smell of death, something he craved so desperately yet was too weak to seek, an aged smirk playing on his dry lips.
Once he had been beautiful, he thought.
When he had finally left Malfoy Manor for the second time, he had been fifteen years of age. Most of the witches he met had told him he was handsome, beautiful. Many wizards had whispered it in the dark as well.
He had only married Astoria because she had never said those words. He never wanted to hear them from anyone, except someone long dead.
Fifty years ago today he had spoken the lies to a witch who adored him in the presence of witnesses, binding himself to her. She was pretty, elegant, with bright blue eyes and strawberry blonde curls. He thought he could lose himself in her curls. He hadn’t been able to stand dark hair and green eyes since the Chamber was finally closed again. Pansy Parkinson had attempted to seduce him at Hogwarts their sixth year, when the war finally ended and the dark Ministry was put in place, but he couldn’t bear to look at her, to let her touch him. Her fingers were too thin, her palms too smooth, her skin too porcelain.
The night she had kissed him against his wishes was the last day she was ever able to speak as he ripped her voice from her throat with an ancient enchantment.
She would be at the party tonight, he thought drearily to himself. He couldn’t bring himself to care.
Wrinkled fingers stretched up and caressed his soft lips, mottled with age. Yes, he had been beautiful once. It, however, had never mattered to him when all reason to be beautiful had been taken from him.
Glancing toward a mirror in the corner, he sought out his wrinkled visage, amused the old compliments had been spoken in his mind on this of all days, an anniversary every year that secretly brought him pain.
Light flickered in the reflection, angled away from him, and Draco glimpsed the shadow of his bookcase, the tomes standing proud and erect, covered only with the smooth curve of soft flesh before it darted away again.
Startled, he blinked in surprise and turned toward the bookcase, only to see it devoid of pale skin. He was still utterly alone.
A soft laugh trickled down his spine, and he closed his eyes in quiet agony.
It was time, nearly time, for this world to close its eyes to him, to shut him within the blackness of an immortal sleep.
He remembered back to when his grandmother was dying. He had only been nine years old and had sat up with her at night, as she watched a single candle relentlessly, the windows shut and the room haunting their thoughts. She had whispered to him that the old stories were true: Death still walked the earth, and that he murmured the truth of your life before he claimed you with his damning kiss, taking your soul from you but leaving your body still and quiet unlike the Dementors.
His father had later assured him, once his grandmother had died, that it was simply a legend. Draco had been afraid for weeks to sleep, wary that Death would come and kiss him goodnight much like his beloved mother was wont to do. The Tales of Beedle the Bard had been secreted away and, after a few months of exhaustion and wakeful nights, he had finally forgotten and been able to float back into his childish dreams that were waiting patiently for him.
A young, callused hand ghosted between the folds of his robes and cold fingers flitted against his abdomen. The curtains to the veranda fluttered in the windless air, and Draco sighed out in relief. “Have you come for me?” he asked, his voice already dead and quiet. “Is it finally time?”
A second hand shivered over his neck, brushing his graying hair behind his ear, and Draco leaned blissfully against a hard body, cradled in Death’s embrace.
… You wish to die … a young voice, unused, cracked against his ear, no breath escaping Death’s sweet lips. … You are—still—so very beautiful …
Draco shook his head and gazed at himself in the mirror, marveling that Death’s skin should be so untouched by time, his face hidden behind his mortal paramour.
“I may once have been beautiful,” he admitted quietly. “Those days are long past.”
The touch faded away and another flash appeared in the mirror, dancing almost away from him, a slim muscled leg briefly shading the edge of the reflection.
… One I kissed once claimed that one should only find beautiful meanings in beautiful things—and I find your fading beautiful, Draco Malfoy … the empty library whispered to him. … You are still beautiful now at the end of your illness …
“I was cured,” Draco rasped out, turning slowly, his foot crushing the cigar further into the carpet. “They said I was cured long ago.”
Cold fingers dusting over his hair, soft lips pressing against his neck but never kissing him. A hard thigh pressed against his own from behind, making him yield to the effervescent creature that toyed with him.
… No—never cured. Delayed, perhaps, but there is no cure for a love like that. Not until a stronger love claims you …
Draco sighed, the only breath to escape into the scented room, prepared already as if his wake were taking place.
Tears slipped from his eyes, flowing across his wrinkled skin, mapping his age and the passing of time he loathed so much. Each moment took him away from Harry, his beloved, but now he was so close to finding him again.
… Your children are beautiful … A rustle of silk as his tie was undone and dropped, crushed, to the floor.
Draco nodded his assent. Miranda had her mother’s beauty, Scorpius his grandfather’s strength that Draco no longer possessed.
Hands cupped his face from behind, stroking softly, a moan fading into the darkness as messy black hair reflected into his gray eyes. It was fitting, Draco believed, that in the end his death should be with someone who looked like the one he had lost.
… Beautiful because his name was on your lips when they were conceived …
The truth tickled Draco’s senses and despite himself, he felt a blush seep through his gray skin.
… How I’ve longed … he murmured, but the rest of Death’s desire remained unthought, unspoken, not even whispering into his mind.
The formal cloak that Astoria had picked out for him fell to his feet, but Draco barely noticed, even when the cold hard fingers began to pull his shirt from his trousers.
Briefly he thought how he had never heard of wizards or witches being found alone in a state of undress upon their death, but he shook the notion from him. He did not care. Nothing mattered. Nothing but Harry—who he hoped was waiting for him beyond this scarred earth where so many had met their ends too early, only the Dark Lord remaining untouched although he, too, had faded as Draco once had.
… You hadn’t touched your wife in years—three decades to be precise—when your longing for another overtook you and Astoria … he bit out the name, his lips unmoving … seduced you back into her bed and Miranda was conceived. The anniversary of his death and Miranda was conceived in this very manor …
Slowly Death unbuttoned his shirt, leaving only a few of them clasped, and Draco found he could not answer. He had only touched Astoria to produce an heir, and once that was done, he felt no need to any longer, her arms a mockery of everything he desired. It was too painful to lie with her, too humiliating when he had to take potions because, despite how different she was from Harry, he still could not desire more than simple companionship.
… What did she put in your drink? … The question hung between them as smooth fingers kissed his lips reverently. … What did she give you sixteen years ago to make you hallucinate that he was no longer within my embrace? …
“I don’t know,” Draco quietly whispered. “I never wanted to know.”
He looked out the veranda and noticed that twilight had set in—time having no meaning in Death’s presence. Music floated up from the ballroom and he shuddered, knowing that Astoria would expect him to be there, that he would never be able to say goodbye to his children.
… Come … Death echoed, his hands now running up his back, the cold barely touching him. … Come dance with me before I love you …
Draco did not question the words as candles flickered in the dusk-filled room, the air still humid and stagnant. Bright green eyes haunted him as they looked out at him from the mirror, but he looked away again from the illusion. He was so near to his death, only a dance and the first kiss he had been given since Miranda was conceived.
Miranda, a dreamer, a Malfoy beauty. He would never see her fall in love or marry a wizard. Instead, he would finally be in the arms of his lover.
A strong hand wrapped around his wrist until he was pulled down into a cold embrace. Wisps of acromantula silk brushed against his forehead as he pressed his face into the shoulder offered to him. His old hands grasped at the folds of a cloak, so thin, barely there, nothing more than shadows nearly obscuring the form that now held him. He knew if he looked, he would be able to see Death’s body through the torn cloak that fell around him, his arms almost completely bare, his legs and thighs moving out from the folds that did nothing to conceal him.
Death released him and with firm hands, covered in skin and not of bones like the legends said, slid down his body, brushing against his soft member until they reached his feet. He didn’t look down into the eyes he knew would be gazing back up at him.
He didn’t want to know what emotions they held—if they held any at all. It would almost be worse if he saw any understanding or compassion shining out of them.
… I’ve waited for you … Millennia I have waited for one such as you …
Draco didn’t hear as a frost like grip surrounded his ankle, tugging at his shoe and then his sock, until his foot was naked against the carpet, snow like fingers caressing it. A moment later and his other foot was bare, and he looked one last time at himself in the mirror, his gray shirt unbuttoned against his gray skin.
Death slowly rose again to his feet, his cold nose pressed against Draco’s cheek, and although no air could pass into his lungs, as if he tried to breathe in the scent before him.
… How I envy the living … he murmured, his unseen eyes the only part of him that could speak, before he lead Draco from the study through the wall that shimmered so that Death and his companion could pass through. On the other side of the door a small house elf was weeping, banging against the oak forcefully, but no sound reached his ears, as if Death’s presence silenced what he did not care to perceive.
The pair ghosted down the stairs, Deaths’ feet never touching the marble steps, his firm back erect and visible through the gray material that served as his shroud, a hood hanging lifeless on top of the cloak.
Messy black hair was cropped around his face, obscuring his features from Draco’s view, and yet he seemed so familiar, almost like he was someone who should have been, but never was.
“Father!” a bright voice called to him, but Death did not stop as they finally landed in the entry hall, which was alight with silver and gold light provided by fairies that danced along the ceiling.
It was truly beautiful, Draco thought, now fully detached from reality. Astoria had outdone herself.
… Beautiful … was whispered seductively to him, and Miranda, who had hurried up to them, blushed at the young spirit before her, her young eyes raking over his visible nakedness.
Wrenching her eyes away, she gasped when she saw Draco’s undress. “Father,” she began again, “Mother has been looking for you, but you aren’t even dressed.”
He opened his mouth to speak, but found that only shadows escaped it, his voice stolen by one who had yet to kiss him.
Miranda looked at him in confusion before her gaze swept back to Death who looked uninterestedly back at her.
“Introduce me, Father.”
Death simply pulled him away, further from the world he had come to know, and soon he found himself among the whirling couples, alight with colors, while he and Death wore nothing but shadow-gray.
Hands slicked with ice slid down the back of his trousers, caressing him softly, as the music skated about them, the violin ascending like a bird to the heavens.
Draco looked up, finally meeting Death’s gaze, and gasped when he saw familiar features. Black hair fell about a face so much younger than his, several years older than when it was claimed. Green eyes looked down at him, there yet not there, and a vivid white scar in the shape of a lightning bolt shot across his forehead.
… Shh … Death hummed as a thumb was pressed against his lips, so much older than the finger whose touch he could see yet not feel … Don’t say it …
He could not look away from the mirage before him, and felt himself led across the floor. Wizards swept their ladies away from them, their eyes wide in fear and hesitation as the figure of one long dead moved around the floor flawlessly, the master of the house in his arms.
Who is it? What is it? many asked each other, Astoria’s face pale in humiliation.
He has arisen—the Boy who Lived.
No, he was claimed. He has come to claim again.
In a gentle embrace, Draco felt himself drifting through time, water rushing past him, yet he remained dry and cold as he was pressed against a body he had dreamed of for far too long.
Astoria, her sister whispered quietly, the sound wafting across Draco’s senses as if he were master over all their lives now that he was so close to his own end. Astoria, we must leave. You must go. Can’t you see?
He has come. He has come to claim. The house is his until he leaves again.
The fairies blinked quietly as rushing color moved through the ancient halls, Miranda gazing after the sight of her father and the handsome man who had claimed her heart at first glance.
Shadows screamed silently in the night as Death continued to dance with Draco in his arms, neither tiring in the evening haze until finally, Death released him and led him back up the haunted stairway. The blackness kissed Draco’s exposed ankles and neck, making him feel wanted and loved, mirroring the passion that had been left, strangled, in his heart for far too long.
… So long for a child to love with passion … was spoken yet not unlike droplets of water melting from an icicle, only to freeze again against the snow-covered earth.
Palms meeting his in a pilgrim’s kiss, a memory of a time long past yet still remembered by he who could not be touched. Buttons undone and shirt shivering to the hall floor, left to gather dust for the house would not be occupied again for many years until Death’s shade had fully dissipated.
… Then to fade before age bloomed … Death continued with a lover’s lost promise, a cheek sliding against his bare chest, freezing it forever in its imperfect age.
Draco felt his knees give way beneath him, only to be laid lovingly against silk sheets in the humid July night. Fifty years of lies and fake smiles that could never fully turn his lips. False words on his tongue that could no longer cry out as Death’s mouth dusted over his limp member.
… And then for such a one to linger beyond all hope …
Caresses, gentle passion, whispered words from a throat that could not reverberate with sound. A cloak of nothingness tossed to the floor as Draco’s knees were drawn up.
Sweat pooled against his stomach only to be chilled again with a simple touch, the bed sheets chafing him sweetly in the black night. … I’ve loved you since your heart was broken … Feelings whispered against him, sensations touching him yet not as Death with the face of one he had lost so long ago, made love to him under the light of the moon.
Draco reached up, tracing the scar he never thought to see again, a silent ‘I love you’ forming on lips that would never speak again, now that Death had come to claim him.
A shudder from a body that could not draw breath, could not steal Draco’s breath into its unmoving lungs. … Say my name … it begged, its frozen hands moving against his member that could not rise since the day he began to fade. … Say my name …
Silver eyes glanced into green, one filled with death, another with life and hope.
‘I love you, Harry,’ the lips moved, air breathing out gently as he shivered in the darkness.
A sadness he never wanted to inflict hovered across the still-beloved face. Cold fingers turned to shadow as Death’s softening manhood slipped out of him, a groan unable to escape Draco’s lips.
… So be it … A dusting of words, as if in a dream, and then Draco was all alone again, alive, lingering although his heart had faded from this world. He sobbed out into the quiet and yet no sound reached his ears. Shaking, his old fingers touched his lips, unkissed by the one he desired most.
With a name in his mind, he drifted off to slumber, knowing that he would never rise from the bed alive.