aoifene: (gryff and slyth)
[personal profile] aoifene
Title: A Hope in Hell (2/4)
Author/Artist: [livejournal.com profile] aoifene
Wordcount: 23,062
Rating: R for sex and violence
Warnings: Draco-centric
Summary: In the aftermath of war, where extreme justice has led the way to injustice and victory has turned into complacency, Draco Malfoy finds the strength to save himself and a few others along the way.
Author's/Artist's Note: Thank you to my wonderful beta team: [livejournal.com profile] jamie2109, [livejournal.com profile] blamebrampton, [livejournal.com profile] oldenuf2nb, and [livejournal.com profile] kit84. This story was also inspired a lil bit by James Cameron’s Dark Angel.

Part One



As the court day for Draco’s mother’s trial drew closer and closer, the media attention towards his family grew and became more vicious. This, of course, caused a domino effect with the public and made it virtually impossible for them to go out anywhere. No longer were people content to whisper behind their backs, now they’d grown bold enough to hiss threats and insults. Once again, it was hazardous to be a Malfoy. Case in point, the nasty Diffindo a deranged wizard hexed him with as he getting ready to Apparate from his solicitor’s. He should’ve known better than to leave himself that vulnerable to attack. Now here he was bleeding onto Potter’s front porch.

“Christ, Malfoy! What happened to you?” Potter quickly ushered him inside, summoning towels as soon as the door shut.

“Someone cut me, obviously. One would think you would know what that looks like,” Draco snapped but even through the haze of pain he could see how much the remark had stung Potter. “Sorry,” he offered gruffly, pressing the towels harder on his arm. “Just hurts.”

“Of course.” Potter’s expression softened and he steered him to the nearest bathroom, which inexplicably was painted bright orange. “Here have a seat.” Potter motioned to the toilet lid. Draco eyed it for a moment before giving in to exhaustion and sat down. Potter continued to rummage through the potions cabinet. ”Who did this to you? You should've gone straight to the Aurors.”

“And have them do what exactly, Potter? Find the man to congratulate him on a job well done?” He gritted his teeth against the pain. “I think not.”

“Oh come off it.” Potter snorted as he turned to face him. “Kingsley is Minister now and he's definitely the right sort. He wouldn't let them do that to you.”

“Yes, because I have such a close personal relationship with Shacklebolt. Oh wait, that's you.” Draco rolled his eyes.

“I'll talk to him. We'll find the bastard who did this to you.” Potter told him earnestly.

“Potter-” Draco sighed. “Just forget it, all right? It's not like I'm dying or anything. It was just some hothead in the crowd who took a lucky shot. Besides I've been hit with much worse,” he tried to joke feebly.

“Yeah, well, that's not right either.” Potter shook his head. “And don't you even start on me about my whole saving people thing. I see you everyday and you're teaching me Occlumency.” He clenched his fists. “I-I would care if something happened to you.”

“Potter, I-” Draco swallowed thickly, uncertain in light of the earnest honesty in Potter's face. “I didn't know you turned into a Hufflepuff at the sight of someone injured.”

Potter's laughter sounded gruff as he resumed his task. ”Ron must have some dittany ‘round here. I know Hermione gave him some just in case,” he mumbled as he went through the bottles and creams. “Ah here it is.” He held a small bottle up in triumph before he quickly made his way in front of Draco. Summoning some gauze, he carefully took hold of Draco’s arm and straightened it. He dabbed the gauze with the ointment but paused before he went any further. “This might sting a little.”

Draco rolled his eyes to hide his discomfort about Potter’s sudden proximity. The boy was so close he could smell the woodsy scent of his skin. “Just get on with it.”

Potter merely shrugged and with surprisingly gentle fingers, he applied the liquid lightly, with smooth, even strokes. Curiously, after each application he pursed his lips and blew air softly on the healing skin, causing an unexpected shiver to travel up Draco’s spine.

“What are you doing?” He blushed as he started to pull away.

“What? Oh Sorry.” Potter equally reddened when he realised what he was doing. “A Muggle thing. Forgot myself.” He kept his hold on Draco’s arm.

“Is it like that silly thing about snogging a sore to heal it?” Draco quirked an eyebrow, his cheeks warming as the blush from earlier spread.

“Er, not quite.” Potter chuckled. “It’s actually-”

“What the hell happened here?” a voice from the doorway bellowed and both heads snapped up to meet the angry eyes of Ron Weasley.

“I told you he couldn’t be trusted! Has he tried to hex you already?” Weasley shrieked as he barged inside the tiny bathroom, putting himself between Draco and Potter.

“Such a quick mind, seeing as I’m wounded and Potter is healing me. I must have assaulted him. No wonder you don’t need to study for your NEWTS,” Draco said sarcastically. He'd known he would have to deal with the inevitable run-in cum fist fight with the Weasel eventually but the git sure knew how to pick his days to finally show his face.

“Ron, what did I tell you about clearing off for a few weeks? You know I can handle myself.” Potter threw his hands up in exasperation and then he turned to Draco who was quietly snickering.

“And you! Leave off, will you? It’s his house, too, and you’ve been invading it for awhile now.”

“Yes, sure. Remind me that Weasels are infesting my ancestral home,” Draco scoffed. “We could’ve just done this at my house, you know.”

“No, Draco.” Potter looked at him meaningfully. “We couldn’t have. You know my conditions.”

“Draco?” Weasley echoed incredulously.

“Yes, that is his name.” Potter rolled his eyes. “The war is over, Ron.” He turned and sent a meaningful look to Draco. “And I mean for it to stay that way.”

“Spoken like a true bleeding-heart Gryffindor, Po-Harry,” Draco amended after receiving a glare. It wasn’t a big concession. And really, it was his name. He heard it rarely enough as it was.

“You wouldn’t want it any other way, Ma-Draco.” Harry quirked his lips into a smile. “Oh Ron, do close your mouth.”

“B-but it’s Malfoy and he’s calling you Harry and you’re calling him Draco!” Weasley looked like he might faint or retch. Or perhaps both.

Harry merely laughed and clapped a hand on Weasley’s back. “Welcome to the new world, Ron.”

---------------------------------


After that things with Harry had progressively improved -- or deteriorated, depending on the viewpoint. No longer did they bicker like children. Now it was just mild banter, the jibes and insults tempered by the understanding that it wasn’t said with malice. A curious bond had developed between them somewhere along the line. No doubt it was a side effect of seeing a glimpse of each other’s minds. Draco also stopped his habit of tuning Harry out whenever he opened his mouth and instead he actually listened to what the other boy said.

Problem was, he liked what he heard perhaps a little bit too much.

“Excuse me? Can you repeat that last bit? Did you just say-” Draco trailed off faintly, disbelief mirrored in the widening of his eyes as he stared at Harry incredulously.

“What? Don’t tell me you didn’t notice?” Harry quirked an eyebrow in a manner that was a blatant copy of Draco’s own expression. Oddly enough, he found he didn’t mind.

“Well, of course, I noticed. I am well known for my sharp mind and discerning eye-“

“Don’t forget your staggering sense of modesty.” Harry added with a roll of his eyes.

“I won’t. Thank you for the reminder.” Draco said snidely, flashing the man an easy grin to soften his words. “You, however, well- I hate to break it to you, Harry. But you’re as sharp as a butter knife when it comes to things like this.”

Harry snorted. “I am not! I just have a somewhat selective attention span. I’m not saying I’m James Bond or anything but I did see that at least.”

“Who?”

Harry waved dismissively. “Never mind. Muggle thing. The fact of the matter is Lockhart was as queer as a six sickle coin and it was so obvious, I’m pretty sure even the house-elves knew.”

“And why do you think it was so obvious?” Draco asked him quietly, an edge of steel tempering his voice but as usual, Harry -- flying in the face of his own proclamation of self perception -- didn’t notice.

“Are you joking?” Harry chuckled as he ran a hand through his dishevelled hair. “Do you need a list? The flamboyant hair, the poncy clothes, the way he walked! Completely gay.” Harry continued on, unaware of the hardening expression on Draco’s face. “But that could also mean he’s just a snazzy dresser really.” He waved his hand dismissively. “What’s really telling was how he looked at Snape!”

“Snape?” Draco choked, startled out of his snit. “What are you on about?”

“Ha! Known for his sharp eye, my arse!” Harry laughed, delight evident on his face. “Lockhart was clearly pining after Snape. The smouldering look they gave each other during our aborted duel! I was surprised they didn’t start shagging right then and there.”

Draco chuckled, nodding his head reluctantly. There might be some truth to that, no matter how disturbing. When their laughter died down, however, he was still left with a gnawing feeling in his gut that wouldn’t let him glaze over the issue. He wanted to know what Harry thought about it. For some reason, he needed to hear the answer.

“So besides the truly disgusting factor of it being a potential Lockhart and Snape romance, does it bother you …” Draco coughed as he looked away, “That they might be bent?”

“Why should it?” Harry asked with a careless shrug of his shoulders, his eyes vivid green and soft as he smiled easily. “People fall in love all the time.”

Draco swallowed thickly, his mouth suddenly dry in the face of such easy acceptance and his eyes unable to look away from Harry’s earnest expression.

Yes, they did.

---------------------------------


Draco was so screwed.

Before when his view of Harry was blinded by hatred, he hadn’t paid any special attention to how fit Harry had become. Apparently his long-forgotten libido had taken exception to that, and it had now decided to show him – in the oldest way known to man – that traumatic years of war aside, he was still a very healthy eighteen-year-old who needed to get laid. Sitting across from the boy had become torture, especially when he could smell that familiar woodsy scent. Touching him became an exercise in torment because no matter how brief the contact, a part of him ached to prolong it.

It made no sense and it was slowly driving him mad.

Draco forced himself to look up from where he was staring avidly at Harry’s flexing biceps and attempted to answer the boy’s question without looking like a fool.

“What?”

Perhaps attempt was too strong a word. But he didn’t think anyone could blame him. Harry, the stupid exhibitionist, had taken to walking around in the tightest shirts known to man. When asked about this annoying new habit, Harry had sheepishly answered that he had tried to use a charm to make them a bit tighter after one of Draco’s rants against his loose clothes. Draco had fairly left off his diatribes against Harry’s clothing after that.

“I said did you find that book you were looking for in the library?” Harry poked him on his side.

“Ouch! Stop it! You’re such a barbarian!” Draco ignored the shiver that went up his spine at the contact. “No, it’s not there. The only place I haven’t looked is the last place I’ve seen it. I had a copy in my room down in Slytherin.”

“Well, what are you doing moping around here then?” Harry gestured impatiently towards the Floo.

“Have you forgotten that I’m not exactly welcome there anymore?” Draco snapped, his hands raking through his hair in agitation. “I would never make it past the gates without being hexed within an inch of my life!”

Harry rose from his seat indignantly. “McGonagall would never allow-“

“It’s not like she’d be there by the gates to greet me, Potter.” He rolled his eyes.

“You know you only call me Potter these days when you’re annoyed by something other than me.” Harry pointed out glibly.

“Well spotted, Potter! Give the man a cookie.” Draco sneered.

“A return to calling me by my name would be enough, thanks.” Harry shook his head and mumbled something about ‘high-strung gits’.

“What was that?” Draco looked at him sharply but Harry was already halfway across the room.

“Be right back. I have just the thing.” He called out as he ran up the stairs, taking each step two at a time.

“You better have a portkey or something equally useful like that up there! Although it boggles my mind why you would have one to my room.” Draco blushed and he cursed his wayward thoughts and obviously desperate libido.

“Of course, I don’t have a portkey. With this, I don’t need one.” Harry held up his invisibility cloak triumphantly.

“Harry! You bastard! You had an invisibility cloak all this time?” Draco exclaimed as he ran his fingers over the luminescent material reverently. “You know this explains a lot.” He said wryly as he shot him an exasperated look.

“I imagined it would.” Harry merely shrugged, his eyes dancing mischievously. “Go on then.”

Startled, Draco looked up from where he was admiring the cloak. “What do you mean?”

“Well, I didn’t fetch this for show and tell, Draco. Obviously, you’re going to use it to retrieve that book from Hogwarts.”

“Y-you’d let me use it?” Draco was quite sure he didn’t mean for his voice to sound that shaky or awed but he couldn’t help it.

“Isn’t that what I just said?” Harry replied, amusement colouring his tone. “But be careful with it. It was my Dad’s.”

Draco gripped the fabric tighter. “Of course. I-“ He tried to swallow down the sudden lump in his throat. “Thanks.” Then he was walking away, no longer confident that can stay without embarrassing himself.

However, when he reached the door, he couldn’t help but turning to face Harry once more. “You know you’re not half bad, Potter.”

Harry laughed at that and waggled his eyebrows in a bizarrely appealing manner. “I’m not all good either.”

Draco turned away abruptly, refusing to humiliate himself further by staring at that beguiling face. No, Harry Potter was surprisingly enough, not the pure embodiment of nauseating light he always thought he was.

Thank Merlin for that.

---------------------------------


With his own book of Occlumency finally in hand, Draco worked tirelessly but his efforts showed little results. He was beyond frustrated and to add to the inanity of it all, Weasley was convinced that he had Harry under some sort of spell and had now taken to loitering around whenever Draco came over to work on the defence. Sometimes he even went so far as to tag along for their Occlumency lessons. Needless to say, shutting the door on that furious freckled face had been one of the high points in Draco’s week.

It was really only a matter of time before Granger stuck her nose in his business. He just wondered why in all seven hells it had to be this year, let alone today. He and Harry had a ton of things to do. He huffed in irritation at the delay. Not wanting to deal with her and Harry’s other idiot of a best friend, Draco hung back in the shadows, intent on waiting for the trio to pass so he could grab the book he wanted from the Black library.

“Ron, that has to be an exaggeration.”

“What? Of course it isn’t! I saw it with my very own eyes. Harry was looking at Malfoy as if-”

“Shut it, Ron! Merlin, this is so embarrassing. Would you just keep your delusions to yourself?”

“Oh, no you don’t, Harry. I drove myself barmy for days wondering why you and Ginny never worked out. I should’ve known that it was because-”

“Harry, is it true? You know I’d love you no matter what. Ron would too.”

“Huh? What? I didn’t say-”

“Ronald Bilius Weasley.”

“Hermione, don’t glare at Ron like that. Really it’s nothing of the sort...I think.”

“A denial usually works better when it’s absolute, mate.”

“I know, Ron. I know.”

Draco stepped out of the shadows as the two idiots chased after Harry’s retreating form. He looked after them curiously.

---------------------------------


“So, I hear you’re teaching Harry Occlumency.”

Draco sighed inwardly as he turned the page of his book. He should’ve known that he couldn’t dodge the annoying girl so easily. “Do you normally start your conversations with pointing out the obvious or am I just special?”

“I see you haven’t changed.” Granger bristled with anger as she took the seat across from him. “After everything you’ve been through, you’re still the same hateful bastard.”

Draco slammed his book down at that, a hot surge of anger rushing through his veins. “You think you know everything, don’t you, Granger?” He sneered. “That’s the thing that always bothered me about you. It wasn’t your blood status, well not much anyway. It was the fact that you always thought you were right.”

“I usually am.”

“Are you really? Books and cleverness and all that nonsense?” Draco leaned forward with a sneer. “How useful were they when Harry lost his godfather? How much did you use them when Brown almost stole Weasley away?”

“Just because you’ve seen stolen glimpses into Harry’s mind doesn’t mean you have an insight on anything, Malfoy.” Granger said evenly as she met his steely glare with her own.

“And just because you’ve heard second-hand stories about me doesn’t mean you know me at all, Granger.” He quirked an eyebrow at her before pointedly going back to reading his book.

Granger pursed her lips into a thin line before standing up stiffly. “You’ll let me know if there’s anything I can do to help Harry.”

“I doubt Harry would let me keep it from you,” he conceded as he turned the page once again. He didn’t look up until he heard the library door close. He sighed tiredly. He really needed to start locking that door when he was alone.

---------------------------------


His thoughts were preoccupied when he awoke the next day. He was running out of options. If Harry didn’t master Occlumency soon, Draco would have to search for other means of procuring his testimony, ones that weren’t as unquestionable as a Pensieve memory. He sighed as he reached for his teacup, stopping midway when he realised his mother was looking at him with a displeased expression on her face.

“Yes, mother?”

“So, you do answer to the name we’ve given you after all.” Narcissa narrowed her eyes. “Just exactly what has captured your thoughts? Are you and that Potter boy still working towards his testimony?”

“Yes, but Harry’s so close to mastering it, I can almost taste it.” He grinned at her enthusiastically, not wanting her to worry.

“Harry?” Narcissa raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t realise you and he had gotten so close.”

“Er- I-um,” Draco blushed, caught unawares by her mother’s sudden insight.

“Draco, I did not teach you how to mumble.” She admonished him. “And there is no shame in associating with that boy.” She captured his hand in hers. “I just ask you to be careful. He’s always been so very capable of hurting you.”

“Mother-”

“Hush, darling, I will always worry about you. There’s no amount of reassurances in the world that could make me stop.” She smiled at him tenderly.

He squeezed her hand gently. “I know.” He was about to say more when an unfamiliar owl swooped into the room, dropping a red envelope on his plate. His eyes widened and he fumbled with his wand.

“YOU VILE DISGUSTING PIECE OF FILTH! YOU ARE NOT WORTHY TO WALK THE SAME GROUND AS HARRY POTTER! HOW DARE YOU TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HIS KIND HEART AND FOOL HIM INTO HELPING YOUR KIND? YOU DESERVE TO ROT IN AZKABAN WITH YOUR DEATH EATER FATHER. YOU AND YOUR MOTHER CANNOT ESCAPE JUSTICE. THE WIZARDING WORLD-”

Silencio!”

Draco’s hand shook from where he held his wand. His face draining of all colour, he sat back in his chair. His eyes were hooded as he mechanically went back to his breakfast. A soft hand stopped his movements, however, as his mother cupped his cheek.

“They are only words, darling.”

“I know, Mother.” He tried to smile at her reassuringly. “It’s nothing I haven’t heard before.”

“But it doesn’t make hearing it any easier, does it?” She looked at him sadly. “Part of me wants to take you away from all this. Spirit you to France where no one would even think of harming you.” She shook her head.
“But I’m afraid the past is always going to catch up with us no matter how far we run.”

“We’ll endure.” Draco’s lips twitched into a real smile. “We always have. It’s the Malfoy way.”

Narcissa merely returned his grin and she pushed back his hair in that tender way that only mothers can. She smiled into his eyes and pressed a soft kiss on his forehead.

“I think it’s more Draco’s way.”

---------------------------------


Draco was in better spirits by the time the afternoon rolled around. He spent the rest of the morning with his mother, chatting with her about nothing of consequence as they took a stroll around her garden. It was one of his favourite activities as a child so it was treat to relive it once again. Peaceful moments like these had been few and far between and he was a fool if he let it be wasted by dwelling on things he couldn’t change.
He had intended to continue the remainder of his day with that line of thinking, when he was met with the chaos outside Grimmauld Place. Flocks of owls had taken residence atop the house, all with notes and packages in their clutches. There were so many in number that quite a few of them were atop one another in an effort to hold onto a perch. He groaned when he noticed that several letters were Howlers. Great. They were after him here as well. Couldn’t they have just waited until he went home to the Manor? He really didn’t need them crowding Harry’s front step. How the hell was he going to explain this to him?

He was gathering his strength to knock and face the boy when suddenly the door flew open and a quick hand hauled him inside. “What the-” He squawked at the jarring welcome. “Harry! What in the world did you do that for?”

“Are you all right? Did anyone hurt you?” Harry shook him a little and proceeded to do a full body check on him using his hands.

“Potter! Stop that at once!” Draco yelped, uncomfortable and fighting to remain unaffected by the other boy’s touch. “What’s wrong?”

“Someone leaked it to the Prophet that I’ve been helping you. Didn’t you see it?”

Draco shook his head. His morning routine had been interrupted by that bloody Howler. He hadn’t even noticed that he’d missed reading the paper. Whatever it was must have been awful to have Harry so riled up.
“The letters started coming in after that. Some of them were Howlers about my helping you.” Harry rolled his eyes at that, and the obviously annoyed reaction immediately comforted the part of Draco that still distrusted the friendship forming between them. “Others were notes promising me that they would ‘take care of the Malfoy problem’ so I wouldn’t worry about it anymore.” Harry snorted in disgust. “I was actually about to Floo over to the Manor to check on you.”

“Potter, as always you worry too much.” Draco smiled at him, trying not to be so pathetic as to melt in front of the boy for being so ridiculously sweet. It was refreshing to have someone aside from his parents care about him. He’d forgotten how good it felt. “You whinge about being called a saviour and yet you are so ready to jump in and be a hero for anyone.”

“Not just for anyone, Draco,” Harry said evenly and damn him because that made Draco’s heart beat so hard he had to look away. “You don’t see me running around saving kittens from trees. And it’s Harry, remember?”

“Be still my heart.” Draco waved him off dismissively and pretended to be swoon. “I must be special.”

“Must be.” Harry merely shrugged, his cheeks reddening. “I also wanted to give you this.” He pulled out a wand from his pocket. “I think you did say something about returning this as part of the bargain and I’d feel a lot better if you had it. I reckon it works better than the borrowed one you’re using.”

Draco gasped as he reached out for his wand. The hawthorn felt as good as it always had and it was like finding a piece of himself that he’d lost. A shiver went up his spine when he had it fully in hand and he cast a Lumos. He laughed in delight when the end of his wand lit up like a ray of sun. Somehow the magic felt like it came faster and more naturally. “What did you do? It feels different.” He asked Harry in wonder.

He shrugged. “I just used it. I do remember having an easier time with it than other wands, which I always thought was odd. It served me well, though. I hope I didn’t break it or anything.” Harry bit his lip worriedly.

Draco shook his head. “No, it’s not a bad type of different. Just different.” He smiled. “Thanks.”
Harry grinned and shrugged, “Like you said, I was just returning what wasn’t mine. And I’ll connect the Floo to the Manor. I’d rather have you Floo in directly. Much safer that way.”

“Oh for Merlin’s sake! Must you do that in the hallway?” Weasley growled as he barrelled past both of them.

“Do what, you incoherent git?” Draco called out in confusion. “Stand? Should we be sitting in the hallway instead?” He stared after Weasley in bewilderment. “What was that about?”

“No idea,” Harry replied a little too quickly as he turned and led the way to his study. Draco narrowed his eyes and followed.

---------------------------------


“What is she doing here?” Draco threw Granger an irritated look as he took his favourite chair. He really didn’t need this on top of everything else today.

“Look, Draco,” Harry put up his hands defensively, “I know you might not like it but Hermione has a few good ideas for our Occlumency lesson and-”

“I see.” He gritted his teeth. “You think she can teach you better. Fine!” He stood up abruptly, fighting to keep the hurt from showing on his face. “Then you should’ve said that before I wasted my time-”

“No!” Harry pushed Draco back into his seat. “That’s not what I meant. Really. I just thought that- “

“What? I am trying the best I can, you know,” he said evenly. “It is my mother’s life on the line after all. You could’ve at least had the decency to-”

“But, Draco, I-”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake! We’ll never get anywhere if both of you won’t even stop arguing long enough to finish your sentences.” Hermione growled as she put herself solidly between them. “You,” she pointed to Harry,

“should have told Draco that I was coming.” She turned to Draco. “And you should know that Harry would never force you to leave like that. In fact,” she looked meaningfully at Harry. “If it was up to him you’d never leave at all.”

“What do you mean by that? And stop calling me by my name!” Draco said, annoyed.

“She just means that I consider you a friend and I wouldn’t treat you poorly,” Harry hastened to answer, shooting a dirty look at Granger, which she returned with an unreadable look of her own. They seemed to be communicating something to each other with their eyes, but Draco couldn’t make heads nor tails what they were on about.

“All right.” Draco waved it off dismissively. “Now to the part where you tell me what she is doing here before you both give yourselves eyestrain.”

“Hermione has some advice on getting me to relax enough try to Occlumency again,” Harry explained. “And yes, before you ask, they’re Muggle things but since I’m doing them I am sure that it won’t be a problem.”

Draco sighed. He supposed it wouldn’t hurt to give this Muggle stuff a try. After all, they were running out of time and options and who knew, it might work. As annoying as Granger was, she did have unnervingly good ideas. “Suit yourself.” He shrugged as leaned back in his seat.

Apparently the Muggle rubbish that Granger was harping on about involved a lot of measured breaths, counting, and weird positioning. It was strange but surprisingly interesting, though perhaps that had more to do with the alluring positions that Harry was shifting his body into. One even had Harry on his fours with his arse titled up enticingly. He cursed when Granger caught him staring for the tenth time. If she didn’t suspect before, she certainly would now. He shifted uncomfortably as he averted his eyes. Damn! Couldn’t Harry have more dim-witted friends? Although perhaps with Weasley he might have already reached the limit.
Draco sighed as he tried to immerse himself in the book he was reading but it was like teaching Hippogriffs the waltz. He was simply too distracted. Finally, after two solid hours of Granger-sponsored torture, Harry called him over.

“I think I really have it this time.” He beamed at Draco. “The breathing and stretching exercises really helped to relax me. This time I’ll be ready,” he told him, his face taking on a familiar determined look.

“Good.” Draco nodded as he grasped his wand. “Ready? Legilimens!”

He held his breath as he closed his eyes and waited for the rush of light and flickering memories. It never came. His eyes flew open as he beamed at Harry.

“I didn’t feel anything!” Harry gasped as he turned wondering eyes at Draco.

“And you won’t, because you were able to Occlude your thoughts.” Draco nodded. “Good job, Harry!”

Harry let out a whoop of joy and he scooped Granger up. “We did it!” He laughed; his delight so infectious that they all joined in. He danced around the room with Granger in his arms, looking deliriously happy. Draco couldn’t help but smile at the ridiculous picture they made.

“And you!” Harry turned to Draco, the expression on his face softened. “I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Draco looked away, embarrassed. “Yes, because it’s not as though any fool could try to break into your mind multiple times.”

“I did this with Snape, remember? He wasn’t half as good a teacher as you were and he did it for a living.” Harry held up a hand to stop Draco’s protests. “It’s not an insult to him but a compliment to you. Just take it, alright? You made me trust you,” he said softly, his gaze unwavering. “I’m glad I did.”

“Me too,” Draco agreed quietly, unable to lie or belittle this moment, especially when it came at the heels of hearing something he didn’t realise he needed to hear until now. “I think I’m going to go see if I can rustle up something for us to eat.” Granger coughed discreetly, turning to leave the room.

“Not bad, Granger,” Draco called out. She looked back over her shoulder and he received a surprisingly warm smile in return.

“We all have our uses.”

---------------------------------


The following days were swallowed in a flurry of meetings with Youngblood and his associates. Their defence needed to proceed without a hitch and now that Harry’s statement was sealed in a secured Pensieve, the rest of the paperwork had to be done and filed meticulously according to the letter of the law. Draco would absolutely hate it if the trial stretched out any longer. The stress of it all had already taken a toll on his mother, even though she would never admit it. The bags under her eyes had become a permanent fixture on her face and even her smiles had lost their brilliance. He’d be damned if he let this continue.

“Mother, you really didn’t need to come with me today.” Draco sighed as he adjusted the scarf around his neck. Today was the last session he had with Youngblood and he didn’t really think it was wise to be walking about Diagon Alley the day before the trial. “At least let me cast a Glamour on our faces.”

“Nonsense.” Narcissa straightened as she walked down the streets, seemingly deaf and blind to the sharp biting comments people whispered behind their backs and the glares they received. “If we act like we are guilty then we are treated as such. Our choices have already cost us, Draco. They have no right to ask for any more.”

“You were always the bravest of us all,” Draco told her as he gave her an affectionate grin. “I would call you a Gryffindor but I don’t want to insult you. You are my mother after all.”

She laughed and it was a light and beautiful sound that always made his heart feel buoyant. “I doubt anyone would attack us in such a public place.” She raised an eyebrow. “Besides, you of all people should know there’s something to be said about the usefulness of Gryffindors.”

Draco reddened at that as he looked away. Had she noticed? Was he that pathetically obvious about his thing for Harry? He grimaced. Knowing his mother, she probably had. Feigning nonchalance, Draco merely shrugged.
“They do make good friends.”

“Friends?” Narcissa said in an incredulous tone but before she could enquire more about it, Draco seized that moment to create a distraction. They’d been in such a deep discussion that they hadn’t realised they’d veered off to an obscure alleyway between Diagon and Knocturn. A section that was mostly avoided by foot traffic because of the narrowness of the path.

“Oh, Mother! Look.” He pointed to the window display of an antique store. “Doesn’t that look exactly like the locket you used to wear when I was younger?”

“Why, yes.” She moved closer to the shop. “It was a gift from your Aunt. I had to stop wearing it when they took her away and I don’t know what became of it.” Her face grew sad as she continued to look at the oval shaped locket, a faraway look in her eyes. “It reminded me too much of her.”

“Aunt Bella?”

“Yes.” She sighed as she turned to face him. “You must understand, Draco. She wasn’t always like that. She was my sister and she was once a lively, happy girl. I still remember the pretend tea parties we used to hold in our gardens with our dolls. All three of us. We were a family.”

Draco nodded quietly. He may never have liked his Aunt nor accepted her in any part of his life except the ones he wanted to forget but he could understand the pain his mother felt. His family was everything to him and once upon a time his Aunt was that to his mother. “You should buy it. Maybe this time it will remind you of the girl she used to be rather than the stranger she became.”

“Perhaps I will.” Narcissa gave him a small smile as she made her way into the shop.

---------------------------------


The bells jangled merrily as they both entered the stop and immediately they were assaulted by the smell of dust and age. Curiosities filled the walls, from ancient wands to plates lined with gold. The shop was dimly lit and the atmosphere clearly harked back to an older time.

“Hullo! Welcome to The Strange and Curious Wonders. My name is Rashid. How may I be of service today?” a fat, balding man from behind the till welcomed them as he walked around the counter. His brown eyes danced with glee and recognition. Draco sighed when he caught it. The shopkeeper probably saw them in the papers and was already counting the Galleons that would line his pocket once they left the store.

“The locket in the window? May I see it?” Narcissa asked him primly.

“Ah, it is quite the beauty, isn’t it?” Rashid retrieved the necklace and laid it out before her. “Many women have sighed from afar over this piece.”

“Yes, I can see that.” She traced the intricate design of the pendant with a reverent finger. “It is extremely well cared for.”

“With a gem like this, I can only imagine that it was loved,” he told her slowly, his eyes sharp and calculating.

“How much is it?” She looked up to meet the man’s unnerving stare. “And do you know where it came from?”
Rashid shook his head. “Like most of our items, its history is unknown. It came to us right after the end of the war.” He paused for a moment. “Come to think of it, it did come with something else. When we opened the locket, there was a note of some kind inside it.”

Narcissa locked eyes with Draco for a moment before turning to the shopkeeper. “What did it say? If you don’t mind my asking?”

“Actually, I can do better than that.” He smiled at her. “Would you like me to show you? I still have it in my office.”

“Yes, of course.” Narcissa nodded enthusiastically. “I would love to see it.”

Rashid nodded as his smile deepened. “Come this way.”

---------------------------------


They had barely taken a step into the man’s office when a spell hit them both in the back. Draco cried out in alarm as ropes bound his body and he toppled onto the cold hardwood floor. He watched in dismay as the same fate befell his mother.

“You think you two can roam around free and unblemished when my family has suffered?” The shopkeeper framed the doorway ominously. His body shook with rage as he summoned their wands. “You’re traitors to both causes. Cowards like you should have perished before now.” He grasped his wand tightly. “But I’ll right that now. This time you won’t escape. Fiendfyre!”

Draco gasped as the all too familiar flame burst into the middle of the room. He struggled twice as hard to get the ropes off him. Terror seized his heart as the heat began to soak his skin. No! He wouldn’t die this way! Especially not with his mother. He refused to even think of the possibility. Wriggling like mad, he was finally able to loosen the ropes enough to liberate one hand.

“Draco!” Narcissa called out to him, her voice shrill with fear. “Listen to me, darling. We don’t have enough time. Do you remember the signet ring I gave you that very first day we were allowed back into the Manor? Do you have it on?”

“Yes, of course. You told me never to take it off.” He held up his freed hand. “But what has that got to do with-”

“It’s a portkey. A small one. It activates when you’re in deathly harm.” She struggled to smile under the weight of her tears. “I didn’t tell you because I hoped you’d never need to know about it.”

“Mother! No! I won’t leave you!” Draco shrieked, smoke and terror filling his chest as he struggled anew. His breaths hitched, even as the ropes slowly began to give way.

“Hush, darling. It’s all right,” she told him quietly. “Please don’t fight it. I’d rather have you safe, more than anything.” She smiled at him tearfully, her eyes memorizing every line of his face. “I love you.”

The ring on his finger started to glow bright red and he could feel the tendrils of magic beginning to form.
Panicking, he quickly pulled off the ring with his mouth and spat into his hand.

“Draco, No-”

He’d never forget how her voice sounded. With death licking at their heels and the weight of sacrifice hanging around their necks like a noose, he finally understood that there could still be two deaths at the end of this day. She was his lifeline as much as he was hers. To lose one might cost the other but he was determined not to let that happen.

“I love you,” he told her reverently as he threw the portkey, hitting her on the chest. “Please forgive me.”
A shimmer of magic later and she was gone. The picture of her hysterical face imprinted his mind. He closed his eyes as he breathed a shaky sigh of relief.

The fire continued to burn.


Part Three

January 2013

S M T W T F S
  12345
6789101112
131415 16171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 28th, 2017 02:51 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios