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The Language of Flowers

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Third Round Prompt: Peonies/Compassion

Title: Happy Birthday
Rating: T
Word Count: 495
Warnings: Implied Alcohol Abuse


Draco Malfoy hated his birthday. Draco Malfoy hated his birthday so much, in fact, that he couldn’t recall a time when he hadn’t hated his birthday.

He knocked back a drink, scowling at the generic gifts collecting on the sideboard, mocking him.

How he despised everything birthdays entailed. The fake smiles. The half-hearted well-wishers. The dinners where his father would stiffly toast his good heath, and his mother would hug him, almost smothering him.

Draco hated his mother’s voice getting thin and shaky, as his father’s got surely, while they both avoided the fact that he, at now forty, remained alone, conveniently ignoring the part they had played in that.

His fist closed around his glass as he lifted it to his lips again, emptying it in one swig, numbing any memory of a time before. Why his mother had insisted on throwing him a party this year was a mystery to him. He knew the people she would invite, and the people she wouldn’t. He had endured the kerfuffle for an hour before escaping to the smoking room.

There was a knock, and a hefty and balding man entered. A former classmate — one of the Puceys maybe? After a short chat the man absconded, promises of a soonish lunch made that neither would keep.

Draco levitated the newest addition of liquor to the line-up on the sideboard. A pathetic file of guardsmen watching over him and his loneliness, as they had for more than half his life.

“Happy birthday to me,” Draco muttered and knocked back another. Forty years and the only thing he had truly accomplished was acquiring a strong liver and being an obedient son, and for what.

Another knock had Draco contemplating to lock the door. Before he could decide it was pushed open by someone who couldn’t possibly be here, and because it was so impossible Draco started laughing, until the witch standing there pulled a face.

“I didn’t mean to interrupt but your mother said to just go through and…”

Draco scrambled to his feet, realising in painful clarity that this was not an alcohol-induced delusion, but Hermione Granger in the flesh. Minister Granger. His Granger.

“Fuck,” Draco mumbled as he crossed the room to greet her. “I’m sorry, this is… unexpected—”

Hermione smiled shyly and offered him a gigantic bouquet of flowers.

“Peonies?” Draco froze, the full realisation hitting him. “Are you sure…?” He waited with bated breath.

Granger looked torn, her eyes flickering towards the sofas. “Could we… sit? I think it’s time we talked about… about what happened…”

Draco stared at her, her eyes full of compassion, her lovely face as pink as the petals, and his heart now beating so frantically inside his chest as if it had just lain there, waiting for a chance to get back to her.

“Of course,” he said, leading her into the room, hoping desperately that this might be the chance to like his birthday again. “Let’s talk.”