Toxic @rubberduckiez
Deep Dive

I need a hit...

“Morning, Malfoy!” Susan said brightly as he walked into the lab. He nodded towards her and then headed straight to his office, hoping that it wouldn’t be yet another repeat of the last few days. Since the weekend, De Loughrey had been spending more time overlooking his potion than any others and he was getting annoyed.

Though he had to admit, if professionalism was a topic taught at Hogwarts, she’d likely get top marks. Even Draco to fight against the urge to lose it around her, whether it was to yell or kiss her.

He stopped in his preparations as his eyes widened. Fuck. He had been doing well, he thought. But it seemed certain urges were still sneaking their way into his mind. How he wished he was working on a potion to counteract that.

Maybe that would be his next project.

Sighing, he set back to work, pulling on his lab robes and then going over his notes from where he left off yesterday. He had tried a new variation, tweaking some of the ingredients, but it still hadn’t worked - as De Loughrey was quick to point out though it was unnecessary. At least he hadn’t killed another mouse this time.

He stopped and looked around, trying to decide where he wanted to start today. The best place was to start with the base ingredients that he knew would work, then go from there. And hopefully De Loughrey would prove her worth and tell him she had finally procured some Night Heather. Though he doubted she was actually trying.

Regardless, best to get to work.

~~~

“Hey, Draco.”

He grimaced slightly but quickly rearranged his expression before turning around to see a smiling De Loughrey standing in his doorway. Her hair had been down earlier, but it was now up, quills sticking out haphazardly. She had - once again - lost her outer robe and had her blouse sleeves rolled up.

“Thought I’d help,” she said, smiling. Draco fought off the urge to roll his eyes. That’s what she called it but he thought it more hindering than anything. But she was his boss. It wasn’t as though he could tell her no.

He motioned her in as he turned back to his work.

“You know, many people find it offensive that you continue to use our given names,” he said dryly. “We’re work colleagues. You’re our… boss.” The word left a bad taste in his mouth. But De Loughrey just chuckled.

“I really don’t understand that,” she said. “I’ve always been on a first name basis with all my professors, mentors and bosses.” She stepped up to his side and looked up at him expectantly.

“You can chop those,” he said, pointing to a pile of frog brains, unsure of why she was allowing him to take the lead suddenly. “And it’s just how things are done.”

“Just because it’s how things are done doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do them,” she said, picking up a knife and getting to work. “I think you need a good relationship, and first names help.” Draco had to catch himself, finding he was more interested in watching her slender fingers at work than doing his own work or listening to her. He shook his head and turned back to the boom berries he was smashing.

“Yes, how could I forget. You’re American,” he said. De Loughrey stopped chopping a moment as she turned to him.

“Why does that sound like an insult coming from you?” she asked, though oddly enough, she didn’t sound angry.

“Just stating a fact,” he said, continuing with his work. De Loughrey huffed and returned to hers.

For a bit, Draco felt he was back in Snape’s class. Though this time his worst nightmare had come true and he was partnered with Granger. De Loughrey had only stayed silent a few moments before commenting that he was smashing the berries wrong. Well, she hadn’t said wrong - rather suggested another way to do it. But to Draco, she might as well said wrong.

But still, he pushed on, stopping her from stepping in when he could. After a while, he found that a small part of him was enjoying working with her - the back and forth was entertaining. But still, he kept himself from smiling or letting on.

The last thing he wanted to admit to anyone - especially De Loughrey - was that he was enjoying this. He silently reminded himself that he was trying to take her down, after all.

Finally, they were at a point where he wanted to start adding the ingredients to the base potion he had spent the morning working on. De Loughrey had - thankfully - gone quiet, now stepping back and watching.

Draco looked over his notes again and then back at the potion. He waved his wand and watched as some of the ingredients lifted from the table and dropped into the cauldron. He stepped over and stirred it three times one way and then four in the other.

Going back over to his notes, he looked at them again. He chanced a glance at De Loughrey, finding her inching towards the cauldron, her eyes fixed on it. He then turned back to his notes again and then stepped over, picking up the last ingredient. He held his breath as he prepared to pour it in.

“Wait,” De Loughrey said. He groaned in annoyance and looked at her.

“What?” he asked. She walked over and picked up his notes, going over them. She looked at the cauldron then reached for a quill.

“I think your calculations might be off,” she said, about to start scratching something down.

“I’ve been working days on those,” he spat. She stopped, looking over at him. Finally, she rolled her eyes and reached for a clean sheet of parchment.

“Just… give me a sec,” she said, starting to copy down his calculations onto the new page.

“Fine,” Draco said, stepping away from the cauldron. He was only entertaining this because she was his boss - nothing more. He was sure that he had calculated the right amount.

After some time, she straightened up and held the sheet out to him.

“It’s too much. You need to halve it, or it’ll explode,” she said matter-of-factly. Draco frowned at her, but then took the sheet looking it over. He then looked at the cauldron and back at her. He didn’t completely trust her work, though from what he had seen so far, he probably should have.

No, his pride was on the line.

“I humbly beg to disagree,” he said dryly. De Loughrey huffed and then threw her hands in the air.

“Well, then. By all means, proceed,” she said, acid in her voice. Draco shoved the parchment back at her and then turned to the cauldron. He poured it in and then stirred it. He had barely made it halfway around before the potion began to boil.

“Oh shit,” he muttered.

“I told you-”

Draco barely had time to jump away, turning to attempt to cover De Loughrey as the contents of the cauldron did - in fact - explode, covering the both of them in purple sludge. They remained silent a few moments before De Loughrey shoved him away.

“I fucking told you that would happen, and you did it anyway!” she shouted.

“Yea, well, how was I supposed to know it would happen just because you said so!” he shouted back.

“I FUCKING SHOWED YOU THE CALCULATIONS!” De Loughrey bellowed.

“AGAIN! HOW WAS I TO KNOW THEY WERE RIGHT?!” he shouted, not about to back down.

“BECAUSE YOU’RE A STUPID PUREBLOOD PRICK WHO THINKS HE CAN DO NO WRONG AND THAT I’M JUST THE BITCH THAT STOLE YOUR JOB!” she shouted back. Her eyes then went wide as her hands came to her mouth.

In any other situation, Draco might have found it comical, or dare he say, cute. The way her eyes became round as saucers and the goop dripped from the tip of her nose onto her hands. But then he latched onto what she said, and his blood began to boil. Just a stupid pureblood prick, was it? She then cleared her throat and lowered her hands as she straightened her back, lifting her chin slightly.

“Sometimes we need help, Draco. Which is all I’m trying to do. Despite what you might think of me, I do want you to succeed. That’s all I’m trying to do,” she said calmly. She then looked at the destroyed workspace and back at him. “I need to clean up.” She then turned to walk out and stopped. Draco looked over, seeing that a crowd had gathered outside. “Everyone back to work.”

She then strode out of his office.

Draco glared at everyone and soon they all dispersed as he turned back to his office. Everything was covered in muck. Again. It would easily take the rest of the day to clean this up and he had an appointment with Blaise and Theo afterwards.

He waved his wand, getting started. He didn’t want to admit that she had been right. Nor did he want to believe that she was legitimately trying to help him. Or well, yes, he could believe that. But it only made him more curious about why. He didn’t buy into her first day speech about everyone succeeding together.

No, there was far more to Olivia De Loughrey, this he knew. He just needed to find out what.

~~~

Draco was more than ready for a drink when he arrived at the bar, immediately going to a table at the back where Blaise and Theo were already seated, drinks in front of them. He had done his best to set his office to rights, but it still took a fair bit of scrubbing once he got home to get the destroyed potion off him. And his clothes were ruined.

As he sat down, a firewhiskey appeared in front of him. Stunned, he looked up at his friends.

“The entire lab heard that argument,” Blaise said. “Figured you’d need it.” Draco sighed and took a long sip before settling his eyes on Theo.

“What have you found?” he asked, eager to get to the point. Theo took a deep breath and then reached into his bag and pulled out a file that he opened on the table.

“Well… she wasn’t always Olivia De Loughrey. In fact, until she was 10, her name was Olivia Yvonne Adams, daughter to Shelly Adams, granddaughter to Rex and Yvonne Adams,” he said.

“What? She’s adopted?” Blaise asked. Draco just glanced at him and then motioned for Theo to continue. He hadn’t known about changing her name, but he did know the story behind why.

“No,” Theo said. “Her mother never married De Loughrey. They had a tryst in school - Olivia was the result of that. For whatever reason, her mother moved to a small town in Arkansas with her parents, had Olivia and her father was none the wiser until her mother died when she was 10 in a car accident.”

He pushed a photograph across the table and Draco took it, seeing a grinning little girl with a beautiful woman and an older couple standing outside a modest house. He assumed this must be De Loughrey and her mother and grandparents. They looked a lot alike, though her mother and grandparents’ eyes were a vivid green. And now he understood the slight accent.

They looked happy. Content. Though noticeably not rich. Draco felt something stirring in him, though he wasn’t sure just what it was.

“So, he found out and insisted that she come live with him and his family, changed her last name and everything,” Theo continued, sounding as though he loathed the fact he had dug up all this information. He slid another photo across the table and Draco took that as well, seeing a well-dressed family in an over decorated sitting room. The two younger children looked almost smug as did the mother, whose dark hair was perfectly styled, though her eyes held a certain coldness to them. They were seated on a sofa while behind them stood a man and teen girl. He studied him, seeing Oliver De Loughrey grinning with his arm around the girl, who looked absolutely miserable. She stood out in the photo, both for her blonde hair and her sullen expression. But from the way her father looked down at her, it was obvious that he loved her.

“Okay, so she’s Oliver De Loughrey’s love child. How does this help us?” Blaise asked. Theo sighed.

“I’m still looking,” he said, though he grimaced. He looked over at Draco, his expression begging him to tell him he could stop.

Draco looked back down at the photograph, something else stirring inside him. This he could more accurately guess. Sympathy. Yes, that was it. He found himself feeling sympathetic towards Olivia. No, De Loughrey. Though rather than let Theo off the hook, he looked up, tossing the photograph back to him.

“Keep digging,” he said blandly. He then picked up his glass and emptied the contents before standing and walking out of the bar, vaguely hearing Blaise protest.

He had to get out of there before he changed his mind. Or the others saw more than he wanted them to. As soon as he was on the sidewalk, he apparated home to his kitchen. Pulling off his suit jacket, he laid it on the island and then set about to making himself a drink. He then apparated up to his bedroom and stepped out onto the terrace.

Standing at the railing, he looked out over Diagon Alley, his mind drifting to everything he knew about Olivia De Loughrey up to this point.

She was a bastard, essentially. Spent the first 10 years of her life in rural Arkansas with her grandparents and mother - a family that seemingly loved her if the photograph was anything to go by. And then her mother dies tragically. And then a man claiming to be her father arrives and takes her away from the only life she knows and thrusts her into pureblood society.

For all Draco knew, Olivia didn’t even know who her father was until that point.

He frowned as he took a drink and continued staring out at the cityscape, remembering how she had reacted that day in her office. How she had tried to distance herself from pureblood society. Now that he knew more, he understood it a bit more. She hadn’t been born into it, rather thrust into it. He knew firsthand how cruel it could be.

What had Olivia been through?

Had her new family accepted her? From the look of the second photo and what his mother had told him, he surmised they had not. But it seemed at the least she had a loving father. That was something Draco was completely unfamiliar with. But before that, she had also had a loving mother. Grandparents that still loved her, if they were still alive.

It was then that Draco realized the first stirring he had gotten was jealousy. He had been jealous when he saw the first photo. But then he remembered she had lost that family. Draco couldn’t decide what was worse. To have a loving family and then lose it or to have never experienced it at all. Yes, his mother loved him, but growing up as he had, it wasn’t as though she had been warm and affectionate. It wasn’t their way, though she had shown it in the ways that she could. His father, well, Draco questioned if Lucius Malfoy was capable of loving anything other than money and power. He had gone mad when the Malfoy name lost the power it once had.

Draco looked down at his drink, conflicting emotions rising up in him. He had once bought into it, when he was younger. That being a Malfoy made you powerful. That being pureblood made you powerful. And then he learned what cost it came with and began to question if it was all truly worth it. If it was worth giving up humanity.

He looked up, taking a drink as he reminded himself that he wasn’t like that anymore. Had worked to make his amends even if others in the wizarding world didn’t truly believe that he had changed. He then realized with a sinking feeling in his stomach that he hadn’t truly changed.

What he was doing - digging into Olivia’s history to find a way to take her down - that was something old Draco would do. Frowning, he pondered on this more. And the more he thought about it, the more disgusted he grew with himself. Sure, he still wanted the job more than anything, but was this the way to truly get it?

Even if Olivia drove him mad, after today he realized that she really was trying to help him succeed. Draco downed the drink and walked back inside. He was thinking too much, and he didn’t want to think on this anymore tonight.

Trotting down the stairs rather than apparating, he walked into the kitchen and grabbed the bottle of firewhiskey and then walked to his study.

Maybe he could drink the thoughts away.

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