Toxic @rubberduckiez
Mother Dearest

There’s no escape…

Draco followed the house elf through the large manor towards his mother’s favourite sitting room. He shuddered slightly as they walked past a set of shut double doors, trying not to allow his memories to go back to the dark times when his family had hosted the Dark Lord. He was honestly surprised that they hadn’t been thrown into Azkaban with the rest of the Death Eaters when it was all said and done. But then again, he knew all too well that money could fix a variety of problems. Even with the new government.

And rebuilding the wizarding world had required a lot of money, which they gladly took from the Malfoys as so-called fines for their transgressions rather than throwing them into Azkaban.

And they had turned away from the Death Eaters in the end. Draco was surprised to hear that his mother had lied about Potter being dead. Then prior to that, he had lied to his crazy aunt about who the Golden Trio had been. He hadn’t thought it much in the scheme of things, but it had gone a long way in convincing the tribunal that had been set up to deal specifically with the Death Eaters not to send them off to prison - that they were capable of making amends. And he supposed Potter speaking out on their behalf had helped as well. Draco still wasn’t sure why he had done it - they certainly hadn’t asked him to. But perhaps the Boy Who Lived felt he owed them something, which only annoyed Draco more. Because then he felt like he owed Potter something in return.

Either way, Draco didn’t often dwell on it. He was grateful not to be in Azkaban. But that didn’t mean he was going to be best friends with Potter, the Weasels or Granger. He went out of his way to avoid them when at the Ministry, as it was. Though Theo always said Potter was a good bloke, now that they were working together. Didn’t hold it against him for being in Slytherin and all the blood purity bullshit, though Draco knew that Theo never really subscribed to it. He played the part well in front of others and his father, but had worked against it behind the scenes in ways that Draco was not aware of until afterwards.

Regardless, despite the memories the manor conjured up, that was not the purpose of his visit today. Though Draco decided to get the fact-finding part over and done with so he could leave quickly. He didn’t like being here.

“Draco,” his mother said as she turned upon his entry. He smiled and walked over, kissing her cheek.

“Mother,” he replied as they sat down and another house elf brought in tea. He glanced around the room, noticing his father wasn’t there. “How’s Father today?”

“You know how he is. He has good days and bad. Today is not so great,” she said, her voice calm and even, though her eyes betrayed a certain worry. The war had aged Narcissa Malfoy, though she was still dressed impeccably, her makeup done to perfection.

Lucius Malfoy, on the other hand, had been left broken and spent his days hiding in the manor. While Draco was relieved he didn’t have to speak or deal with him - there was a certain level of animosity still felt for the man who had dragged his entire family down with him when he joined Voldemort - he knew that his mother worried constantly about him. And for that, Draco worried. There was only so much one could handle and he often wondered just what would be his mother’s breaking point.

But for her part, Narcissa had long played the role of dutiful wife and pureblood witch. It was easy for her to stick to it, though she certainly didn’t go to as many events as before where she would have to perform for the others. Or any, really.

In a way, Draco found it ironic. In the past there wasn’t an event the Malfoys didn’t get invited to. But now, most avoided them at all costs.

“So what brings you here today?” she asked. “Not that I’m not thrilled to see you. Just unusual for you to stop by randomly.” She fixed her son in a studying look. “Things going well with Watkin’s replacement?”

“That’s actually why I’ve come by,” Draco said, reaching for his tea. “I’m curious. What do you know about the De Loughreys?” Narcissa raised her eyebrows at him, smiling slightly.

“They’re one of the oldest pureblood families in New York,” she said. “Old money as well. Though I know Oliver De Loughrey does well for himself. Owns an import and export business, I believe… They’ve got three children, though the eldest is a bit media shy. The younger two are always out and about at various events. And I know Lucinda certainly gets around the charity circuit…”

Draco didn’t say anything, allowing his mother to continue prattling on about various little facts just about anyone with a newspaper would know or find out about the De Loughreys. It wasn’t anything that he found particularly useful. Or interesting.

“Ah, yes but I remember there was a bit of a scandal about the eldest…” Narcissa said. Draco sat up in his chair. A scandal could be useful. “Yes… she didn’t come to live with them until she was 10 or 11, I believe. The product of a love affair between Oliver and his school sweetheart before he married Lucinda.”

“Is that so?” Draco asked, finding the information curious. Though it would explain the edge in De Loughrey’s voice in her office her first day.

“Yes, I’m afraid I don’t know what happened to her poor mother. But suddenly, there was another De Loughrey child. Loralai Flint knows Lucinda - I believe they’re cousins or something - and she said that Lucinda threw a fit. Didn’t know a thing about it, though apparently neither did Oliver until then,” Narcissa said. “And then next thing you know, he shows up with this little girl, saying that she’s his. Lucinda fought him on it, but there was no denying that she was his daughter.”

“That’s… interesting,” he said, thinking it over.

“In some ways, one could find it fortunate. Suddenly taken in by a rich and influential family. Though… sometimes I wonder if it was,” Narcissa said. Draco frowned, not understanding.

“Why do you say that?” he asked. Narcissa put down her cup and looked over at him.

“Well, she had spent her whole life growing up one way up to that point. Thinking life was this. Then suddenly, you’re taken from everything you know and told that life is completely different,” she said rationally. “I’m sure it is quite a lot for a young child to take in.”

“I suppose I could see that,” Draco replied.

Though he wasn’t sure how any of this helped in his endeavor to get rid of De Loughrey, it was something to file away and think about. If anything, it might help him to understand her a bit more.

“Now tell me, how is your new potion coming along…”

~~~

Draco thought over what his mother had told him as he went into the office. He hadn’t intended to work that day - being Saturday and all - but he needed to clear his mind and usually work did just that.

It was curious hearing about De Loughrey’s background and a small part of him felt slightly guilty about doing so behind her back. But he then reminded himself that there was a purpose to this. And it’s not like it was some secret. Anyone could find it out with relative ease if they wanted to. If his mother knew, then it was likely the entire pureblood society in New York did as well.

He stopped as he stepped into the main lab, guilt twisting around in his stomach. Which was altogether odd for him. Did he really want to take her job? After learning what he had. It seemed De Loughrey had a difficult go of things. But then again, she had been given everything. Taken in by a rich family. Sent to the most prestigious school of magic in the United States - Salem Witches’ Institute. Apprenticed with some of the most renown U.S. potion masters.

She had gotten everything. But she wasn’t going to get this. This position was his.

Noise from the back gained his attention and Draco looked up, seeing De Loughrey sitting at her desk in her office, dressed casually with her hair pulled up in a messy bun, music playing from a wireless. She appeared to be doing paperwork. Not wanting to alert her to his arrival, he quickly ducked into his office, contemplating just leaving right then and there. The last thing he wanted was to be locked up in the office with De Loughrey alone.

“Draco?”

Groaning quietly, he turned, seeing De Loughrey standing in his doorway. It infuriated him that she insisted on using his given name - even though she seemed to be doing that with everyone.

“I thought that was you,” she said, smiling warmly. Though why, he had no idea. “I wanted to talk to you alone.”

“Very well,” he said, his annoyance clear. “Talk.” She winced slightly, but maintained the hopeful look on her face.

It was bloody aggravating.

“I just wanted to apologize,” she said. Apologize? This was odd. Whatever for? Did she know that Watkins had intended him to succeed him? “About, well, everything. I know it’s probably not easy working with me as your boss after… well… you know. That. But I do hope that we can get along. And I want us to work well together. Professionally speaking...”

“I… what?” he asked, confused. De Loughrey chuckled.

“I admit, it’s been… interesting… for me. Adjusting and such. But I hope we can put it behind us,” she said, taking a step towards him. Her expression was open and earnest. Though he couldn’t fathom why.

For a moment, he was taken back to that night. The flirting. The innuendos.

The mind-blowing sex.

Shaking his head, Draco tried to focus his thoughts on the here and now, though part of him was tempted to grab her, thrown her on his desk and fuck her brains out. Again. But he couldn’t do that. She was his boss. They had set rather firm boundaries and at the moment she didn’t seem the slightest bit interested in him in that way.

“It’s… fine,” he said. “Nothing to worry about from me. I can keep things professional.” De Loughrey smiled and nodded, appearing relieved.

“I was wondering… do you mind if I sit in on your work? I really am interested in it,” she said, motioning to his work table. Draco glanced at it and back at her, sighing heavily.

“I suppose,” he replied, though it was the last thing he wanted to do. But he wasn’t sure how to get her out of his office.

De Loughrey walked over and sat on a stool, eagerly waiting for him to start. He pulled off his blazer and hung it up, rolling up the sleeves to his shirt as he looked over his workstation. She didn’t say anything, just waited, her blue eyes fixed on him.

He stepped over to his notes, picking them up and going over them where he had left off yesterday. He then put them down and stepped to his cauldron, pulling out his wand and waving it, a fire starting up underneath it.

“Where are you now?” De Loughrey finally asked. Draco glanced at her and then back at the concoction. It had turned a pale blue overnight.

“I was going to add armadillo bile,” he said.

“Used in wit-sharpening potion,” De Loughrey murmured as she hopped off the stool and walked up to the table. “Interesting.” Draco raised an eyebrow at her and then returned to work, starting to prepare the bile.

She didn’t say anything, just watched. It was a first. All week she had been quick to point out areas where she thought he could be making a mistake. As he continued working, he nearly forgot she was there.

He then stepped back, pulling De Loughrey with him as he raised his wand and waved it. The bile rose up into the air, then hovered over the now simmering cauldron. Draco took a deep breath and then waved his wand again, now holding his breath. The bile poured into the cauldron, causing it to flare up a bit and turn a brilliant blue.

After a few moments, he stepped closer and peered down, seeing that it had settled. He smiled, happy with the reaction.

“How do you know it’ll work?” De Loughrey asked.

“I test after every ingredient added,” Draco said. “Though it needs to simmer a bit.” De Loughrey nodded and looked around, finding a cage with mice in it by his desk.

“How close do you think you are to finishing it?” she asked. Draco kept his back to her as he pulled out his notebook and began writing in it.

“I’m not sure,” he said, wishing she would stop asking questions so he could concentrate.

“But you think you’re making good headway?” she then asked.

“Would be making more headway without the interruptions,” he said, his voice a bit sharp.

“Ah… sorry…”

Draco finished writing and then went over to the cage, pulling out a mouse and then walked back to the main worktable. He sat the mouse down in a clear glass tank, then got a stopper. Carefully pulling out some of the potion, he then picked up the mouse, feeding it a small amount.

He then stepped back, picking up his wand again.

“But… how do you know? Not like the mice can talk,” De Loughrey asked. Draco glanced at her and back at the mouse.

“I do a full diagnostic spell on it,” he said, watching as the mouse ran around in the tank. After a few minutes where it didn’t die or anything else happened, he waved his wand, casting a simple memory charm. The mouse froze for a moment and started investigating around the tank, almost as though it didn’t remember how it got there in the first place. Draco stepped closer, De Loughrey moving with him. He ran through the diagnostic spell, though he was fairly sure of the result before with how the mouse was acting.

Sighing, he ran his fingers through his hair and sat down on a stool, staring at the mouse. He was sure this would have at least helped a bit. But no. The mouse had completely lost all memory from the last five minutes.

“Maybe not enough armadillo bile?” De Loughrey suggested as she studied the mouse.

“Or too much,” he replied, frowning. “I’ll need a fresh batch to start over with.”

“Or perhaps you’re missing something else,” De Loughrey suggested. Draco shot her a look but then returned to staring at the mouse. “What else were you thinking of adding?”

“Boom berry,” he said, tilting his head to the side. “There’s also this rare flower that only grows in the Highlands that I want to get my hands on, but the paperwork has been maddening.”

“Night Heather,” De Loughrey said. Draco looked over at her, slightly impressed. “I saw the forms.” He turned to face her. Ah, that explained it then.

“Are you going to help me procure it?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at her.

Not only was it rare, but not a lot was known about it other than if used improperly - and it almost always was - it had rather disastrous effects, hence trade of it was highly regulated. He had been trying to get some for months, sure that it would be the missing ingredient he needed.

De Loughrey frowned as she looked back at the cauldron.

“I don’t know… there’s only so much I can do. We need to go through the regulations department, and even then, you’ll have to prove that it most definitely is necessary for the potion to work,” she said.

“Well, how can I do that if I can’t test it to see that it is, indeed, the ingredient that I need?” he asked testily. De Loughrey looked at him, frowning.

“Hey, not my fault. I’m just the messenger,” she shot back.

“You’re also the head of this entire department. It’s your job to help me,” he replied. “Unless that was all talk.” De Loughrey narrowed her eyes at him.

“I’ll do what I can,” she said before turning and stalking out of his office. Draco sighed, relieved to have her out of his hair.

He walked over and picked up the mouse, gently holding it in his hand as he looked the creature over. There wasn’t much else he could do for today. He walked the mouse over and put it back in the cage with the others before walking back to his notebook and jotting down his observations and the number assigned to the mouse so he would know not to use it next time.

He then took to cleaning up his space. He made sure to bottle up some of the potion, clearly marking which version it was on the label at the front, then set it on a shelf with all the other iterations of it. Once that was done, he waved his wand, watching as the remnants of the potion disappeared from his cauldron before he put it up in the storage space beneath the table.

He then went over his stock of ingredients, checking to see if there were any he needed to restock before he left. Deeming everything well, he grabbed his blazer and pulled it on, stepping out of this office. Draco paused and looked back, seeing the door to De Loughrey’s office shut, though she seemed to be concentrating on some paperwork, chewing on her bottom lip as her brow furrowed.

Hopefully she was making good on her word, he thought as he turned and walked out. Though part of him didn’t expect her to. He knew how difficult it was to get Night Heather - Watkins had been trying on his behalf before he left. It was another reason Draco had wanted the position. So that he could finally get his hands on the flower.

If De Loughrey couldn’t get it, he was going to have to find more creative ways about getting his hands on it. While Draco wasn’t particularly fond of going that route, there had been a few times in the past that he turned to the black market to get things he needed. He always covered his tracks well, but it was dangerous. Should someone at the Ministry find ou

But hopefully it wouldn’t come to that. Draco’s thoughts then turned to De Loughrey. She hadn’t been as aggressive that day and seemed genuinely interested in his work. But then again, that was her job, wasn’t it? To oversee all the potions and projects.

But for a moment, Draco considered that she might be interested in his work for other reasons.

1. Meet Cute 2808 0 0 2. Just One Night 3493 0 0 3. Decidedly Not a Meet Cute 3406 0 0 4. Declaring War 2787 0 0 5. Mother Dearest 3286 0 0 6. Fighting 3545 0 0 7. Deep Dive 2944 0 0 8. Jealousy 3143 0 0 9. A (Not So) Good Day 3897 0 0 10. Hot & Cold 2670 0 0 11. The Other Side 2206 0 0 12. Coming Clean 3275 0 0 13. Changes 2572 0 0 14. Floodgates 3591 0 0 15. Awkward Mistakes 3425 0 0 16. Making Decisions 3628 0 0 17. Falling For You 3194 0 0 18. And It All Goes to Hell 3039 0 0 19. To Find a Rat 3312 0 0 20. From Here on Out 4379 0 0