|The world is not beautiful, therefore it is. (dorrie6) wrote in emotionalperil,|
@ 2006-01-16 08:09:00
|Entry tags:||browse:fanfiction, fandom:harry potter, pairing:harry/draco|
Contingency, 2/2, Harry Potter, Harry/Draco
Original poster: dorrie6
Fandom: Harry Potter
Disclaimer: The characters and universe presented in this story belong to JK Rowling.
Summary: Draco beats Harry at Quidditch and his universe implodes.
Note: Part 1 is here.Originally posted 9/17/03.
The floor of the corridor was very cold, which Draco appreciated. The coldness of the floor somehow kept him tied to the present--to the reality of the choice he had to make right now. He'd known this day would most likely arrive. What he didn't know is that it would be so soon, or that circumstances would have changed so much as to make the decision so difficult.
He opened the parchment in his hand and read it again. He was directed to proceed to a portkey in Hogsmeade by midnight and join his father and the other Death Eaters for a great ceremony. He and the other young recruits would receive their dark marks and follow the Dark Lord to his final victory over Potter. For Draco, this was his last chance to declare his loyalty to Voldemort. Should he fail to arrive as planned, he would be considered a traitor and dealt with as such upon their next meeting. He doubted he'd be given much choice as to when that meeting might be.
Draco Malfoy was not brave. He knew this. The Gryffindors had frequently called him coward, and he'd retaliated for it, but deep down he knew it was true. He was a coward. He followed whoever was most powerful. He looked out for himself and no one else. This is who he was--who he was taught to be. He understood fear, manipulation, intimidation. He was a Slytherin. He got what he wanted and didn't much care how. He was not cut out for heroics.
I'm just like my father.
That was a thought that used to make him feel proud, successful. Only in recent years had he realized what that meant. That his father was just like him. Petty, cowardly, drawn to Voldemort for his power. Draco wondered idly if that is what drew him to Potter. He desperately hoped not. Potter. It all comes down to Potter.
He looked at the parchment again. He didn't understand why Potter was the target and not Dumbledore. He figured it had something to do with this prophecy he'd been hearing about, but it didn't make sense to him. Truth be told, he was feeling rather resentful towards Dumbledore for placing Potter in this kind of danger. What kind of great wizard sends a student to his doom while sitting back in his office twiddling his thumbs? Sure, Potter had gotten lucky in the past, and maybe even had some unique talent for foiling Voldemort--throwing him off his game and whatnot, but shouldn't Hogwarts be concerned with its students' safety above all? Draco felt a complaint was in order. He'd be sure to get around to it as soon as he was finished dying a horrible death at the hands of his own father.
Twenty minutes. He had twenty minutes before it would be too late and his decision would be made for him. Could indecision make you a hero? Failure to act? If he sat here just long enough, it would be too late, and he'd have no choice but to go to Dumbledore, if only to beg for his protection. Not that he had high hopes for Dumbledore's chances there. He knew they'd get him sooner or later. He was no Harry Potter, after all.
Harry. Harry Harry Harry.
And what would it be worth? Would it even save Harry? Would his sacrifice (if it could be called that) even make a difference in the fight? Chances were they already knew anything he could tell them. They were intercepting his owls after all, weren't they? What did he really have to offer? And how great were their odds to begin with? He didn't doubt that Dumbledore was powerful and that he had a number of other decent wizards on his side, but the whole sheep thing hadn't sounded promising. Perhaps they were doomed no matter what he did. Perhaps Harry was doomed. What made Draco think that he had the power to save Harry? And what made saving Harry so important to him?
"You idiotic boy. To think you could save him."
Draco pressed his palms to the floor, trying to soak up as much of the cold as he could. His time was running out. When it did, would he feel terror or relief? Both, perhaps? He closed his eyes, trying to imagine. He still had fifteen minutes, he still could-
He opened his eyes to find long robes towering over him, along with the face that belonged to that voice.
"Professor Dumbledore." His voice was shaking. "H-how did you find me?"
Dumbledore smiled. "Well, you are sitting outside my office, Mister Malfoy. At a very late hour, I might add."
Draco flushed. Right.
"Mister Malfoy, do you, perhaps... have someplace to be?" Dumbledore's tone was kind, his intentions unreadable.
Does he know?
Draco stood up. "I--" he glanced down the hall towards the exit. He could still make it, easily. He was standing. He could just go. Dumbledore wasn't going to stop him. It was now or never.
"Yes. Yes I do." He felt more confident now.
Dumbledore's voice was softer now. "I see. Well then, you should be off, I would imagine." He turned to return to his office.
"Actually, sir," Draco said, heart pounding. "I came to see you."
Dumbledore turned back slowly. His eyes were shining, and he wore a small smile.
"Is that correct, Mister Malfoy?"
Draco nodded. Dumbledore's smile grew. Draco didn't think he'd ever seen him smile so broadly, certainly not at him.
"Follow me, then."
Dumbledore mumbled something towards his door, and led Draco up the stairs.
Sitting in a big chair across from the headmaster of Hogwarts, Draco began to feel what might have been pangs of regret, though he allowed that they might just as easily have been fear. As he watched his last few minutes pass by, he realized that this was it. He had made his decision, and his life, however much was going to be left of it, would never be the same. It was terrifying, and possibly a tiny bit exciting, but he wished Harry was there. He wasn't sure why. He thought it might make it more real, maybe give him an idea of how to proceed from here. Instead, he had Albus Dumbledore, arguably the most powerful wizard in the world, smiling at him and clearly waiting for him to say something.
"Um--" Not a great start, he realized. He placed the parchment from his father on the desk, hoping that might speak for him.
Dumbledore took his eyes from him in order to look at it, giving Draco more confidence to speak.
"You probably already know this. I mean, I know it's probably no help, but--" His confidence was waning. "Well, I didn't know. Anyway, there it is."
Dumbledore looked back up at him. "Why did you bring this to me?"
I want to save Harry. "I--I don't know." Draco's head was beginning to hurt.
Dumbledore studied him for a moment.
"You're right that this information is not new. Your housemates, Crabbe and Goyle, among others, were spotted leaving earlier, and we do have some inside contact." He paused. "You, however, are an entirely new and very interesting development, Mister Malfoy."
"So you did know." This was not helping Draco's head. "You could have stopped me before. Why didn't you? I might have gone." I should have gone. "You would have just let me go."
Dumbledore nodded. "Yes, I would have." He leaned forward. "It would not have helped our cause had I forced you to stay. It had to be your choice. We make our own destiny, no matter what your father may have told you."
"Except for Potter." Draco was shocked at his own boldness. "Isn't that right?"
Dumbledore did not respond.
Draco continued, "It's true, isn't it? We all have a choice, but Potter. You and I can fight in the war or- or travel the world or sit home and play exploding snap all day if we want to, but Harry..." He felt his throat catch, swallowed and took a deep breath. "Potter has to march off to his doom because some bloody prophecy says so, isn't that right, Professor?" His head was throbbing now, and his hands shaking. Draco wondered if perhaps this was what it felt like to go mad.
Dumbledore looked as though he'd been struck. Draco fell back into the depths of his chair, wishing he could just go to bed and wake up to find this all a dream.
"It was for Harry." Dumbledore spoke softly, as though only to himself. Then he looked up at Draco. "You did this to help Harry."
Draco stared for a moment and then nodded. "I did this to help Harry." His tension seemed to completely drain away, leaving him limp. "It was for nothing, though, wasn't it? There was nothing new. I haven't helped at all."
Dumbledore seemed distracted. "What? Oh no, I believe you have helped, Mister Malfoy. You have helped a great deal."
Draco didn't understand at all how that could be, but he was too exhausted to argue the point.
"Now, time for you to be off to bed." When Draco opened his mouth to protest, Dumbledore continued, "You will be completely safe tonight, as will Mister Potter. Tomorrow we begin anew."
Draco was quite grateful, he had to admit. "Yes sir." He rose from his chair and started toward the door. He was stopped suddenly by a voice behind him.
"Either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives."
Dumbledore smiled. "The prophecy. You wished to know, did you not?"
Draco blinked. "Yes. Yes, thank you, Professor." He headed down the stairs and began to make his way back, anxious for the comfort of his bed.
Either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.
The grass was cold under Draco's hands, and he couldn't remember how he got there. His head hurt, and as he sat up to look around, he got the feeling he'd been knocked out. He wondered where anyone else was, and how he'd ended up in Muggle clothes. There was something glowing in the distance--a fire of some kind, perhaps. He stood up, wavering a bit, and walked toward it. He hadn't gone far when he stopped in his tracks. It was a circle of Death Eaters, at least twenty of them, gathered around a fire. Above the fire, suspended in the air, was a man, paralyzed, screaming in pain. The voice was familiar. He walked a little closer, hiding behind a tree. He was sure he knew the man in the air. Just a little closer, he thought, creeping slowly to another tree.
It was Harry.
Then a hand was covering his mouth and pulling him around and he found himself face to face with his father. His heart nearly stopped.
"You idiotic boy," his father sneered. "To think you could save him... a coward like you."
A loud cry went up from the Death Eaters and Draco struggled to break free from his father. He turned his head to see a tall, dark figure walking to the fire. Voldemort. His wand was raised, pointed at Harry. Draco screamed. He felt himself released from his father's arms and fell, head hitting the soft, velvet ground as a voice echoed through the air.
Suddenly Draco found himself in his own bed, sweating, sheets tangled around his limbs, heart racing. He panicked for a moment at the silence in the room, and then remembered that he was the only one left in the seventh year boys' dormitory. He wasn't sure he'd ever get used to that, not that he minded just at the moment. As his rapid breathing and heartbeat finally started to calm, he sat up and opened the curtains, grateful for the gust of cold air that hit his face. The dungeon rooms were black at night, two softly glowing orbs at either side of the room the only source of light. Draco waited for his eyes to adjust to the light, and then scooted to the end of his bed, lowering his feet to the soothing cool of the stone floor. He closed his eyes and let out a deep breath. When he opened his eyes again, he was startled by the face of Harry Potter. Draco jumped back with a small yelp.
"Potter," He choked out. "What--how did you--what are you doing here?"
Potter's face was like stone. "I could ask the same of you."
This wasn't getting any less confusing. "I'm-" Draco closed his eyes again for a moment and opened them again. "What do you mean?"
"I mean," Potter said, voice tight. "What the hell are you doing here, Malfoy?"
Draco was a bit hurt at his tone, which only led to annoyance. He stood. "This is my bloody bed in my bloody room, Potter. Where else would I be?"
"You know exactly what I mean, Malfoy." Potter was getting louder and talking through clenched teeth.
"No, I really don't, Potter, and I wish you'd get to the point." Draco lifted his chin.
Potter took a few deep breaths and continued. "Most of your housemates have gone. I know you got an owl asking you to join them. So I repeat, Malfoy, why are you here?"
Draco felt some of his old, familiar rage returning, laced with a hurt that was very new to him. They were an exceedingly unpleasant combination. He glared at Potter, lips tight and scowling.
"Why should I tell you anything, Potter? None of it is your business. Why don't you just run and ask your sodding 'intelligence' since they seem to know everything?"
Potter said nothing.
"Well?" Draco was really getting angry.
"I--" Potter had gotten oddly quiet and was looking at his feet. "I made that up. Not the intelligence thing, we do have that, it's just... nobody has been looking at your owls. That part. I made that up."
Draco was stunned. "Why?"
Potter looked up at him. "I had to know. Where you stood. If you... I just had to know."
"Well you should bloody well know by now!" Draco was angry again.
Potter's voice was still quiet. "I want to hear it from you."
Draco raised his eyebrow and sneered. "I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed, Potter."
Potter was losing patience. "Malfoy. WHY ARE YOU HERE?"
Draco studied him for a moment. "If you must know, I got the letter from my father and took it to Dumbledore."
"What?" Potter's face had turned white.
Draco folded his arms in front of him. "You heard me."
Potter looked very strange. "Why?"
"I think you know why."
"Quit being an idiot, Malfoy, and just tell me!" He was almost shouting now.
"I DID IT TO SAVE YOU, YOU STUPID GIT!"
Potter stood, paralyzed.
"Now, leave me in peace, please, Potter." Draco, drained, turned back to his bed. Potter grabbed his arm violently.
"You- can't-" Potter sputtered, almost growling. "You just- you can't just do that. Draco, you-"
"Well it's not like it worked!" Draco shouted. "Dumbledore knew everything already."
"YOU CAN'T SAVE ME!"
Draco felt like he'd been punched in the stomach. "So I've been told."
His eyes were stinging as he tried to turn again. The grip on his arm tightened.
"Harry, you're hurting me."
Potter dropped his arm and stepped back. Draco stepped forward, mind swimming, and pulled Potter's face into a kiss. Potter responded eagerly, pulling Draco closer, deepening the kiss, drawing it out, hands searching urgently, taking him back to the Arithmancy classroom, where their two bodies had been all that had existed in the world, absorbed in the strange intimacy of frustration and release. Then suddenly he pushed Draco back, leaving him gasping.
"No." Potter said. He stared at Draco, looking for a moment like he might reach for him again, then turned, walked toward the door, pulling something over him as he did so, and disappeared.
Draco sat on his bed in a daze. He was angry, confused, hurt--there was too much emotion all at once for him to sort it out. Nothing made sense. He didn't know how to react to things. He felt like he was making everything up as he went. For the first time in his life, he had absolutely no idea what might happen to him in the next minute or the next day. On one hand it was slightly intoxicating. On the other--he thought back to the last hour-- Harry cold and angry, shouting at him one minute, kissing him the next and then gone. It sent a shudder through his body, of pleasure or pain, he honestly could not tell. Nothing was as it seemed anymore. Nothing.
He was obviously not going to get any more sleep, and remembering his dream earlier thought perhaps that was not the worst thing. It was just barely time for the Great Hall to be available for breakfast, so he dressed and headed up, craving light and normalcy.
The latter, it seemed, he was not going to get. When he arrived, it was clear that there was something wrong. The Hall was filled with students, far too many to be at breakfast this early on a Saturday morning. All the staff was gathering as well. Everyone seemed agitated, and the students were oddly quiet, just whispering to each other mostly, and a few might have been crying.
Draco walked quickly to his table. He and Pansy were almost the only seventh year students left, and quite a number of the fifth and sixth years were gone too. She seemed grateful to see him, her eyes red and worn from crying, Blaise Zabini's usual spot next to her looking conspicuously empty. Draco wondered if she wished her parents were Death Eaters so she might have been with Blaise. The thought chilled him. He sat down on the other side of her, careful to avoid Blaise's seat.
"Draco, I thought you weren't coming!" She sounded exhausted and a little shaky.
Draco frowned. "Why? What is this anyway?"
"I don't know. They called us all out of bed, didn't you hear?"
Draco shook his head absently and looked around the room. The Ravenclaw table did not seem completely full, either, he noticed, though Slytherin was by far the most sparse. The Gryffindors were still milling about, most of them not yet sitting. Draco's eyes automatically searched for Harry in the crowd, which annoyed him a little, but he didn't try to stop. There was something especially wrong with the Gryffindors. They all seemed to be clinging to each other and the female Weasley was sobbing openly, folded in the arms of her brother, Granger stroking her hair and whispering to her now and then. Draco thought Potter could not be far.
When he finally found him, he almost wished he hadn't. He was one of the few Gryffindors seated, surrounded by his housemates, but somehow completely alone. His face held no expression at all. He was not responding to anyone who spoke to him, and did not seem aware that they were even there. Draco felt an odd urge to put his arm around him, and felt a rather sharp twinge of jealousy when Neville Longbottom sat down beside him and did exactly that. Harry didn't even seem to notice.
At this point, Draco's gaze was pulled to the front of the room by the voice of Professor Dumbledore. He looked awful. Something terrible had happened that Dumbledore did not expect. Things were, indeed, horribly, horribly wrong.
Draco barely comprehended the information that followed. Dumbledore said something about the war, and how hard they had all worked to keep it outside of Hogwarts. It was important that Hogwarts remain a safe haven for young witches and wizards, no matter what raged outside its walls. But something had gone wrong. They had anticipated an attack, but their information had been false. Instead, with the help of a student, Death Eaters had gained access to the Gryffindor seventh year boys' dormitory early this morning, in an attempt to assassinate Harry Potter. Draco's mind was so muddled, he was having difficulty understanding all the details. He had worked out, however, that Seamus Finnegan had been the traitor in question (having foolishly fallen for a promise of immunity for himself and his family), and had been killed in the struggle, along with several unnamed Death Eaters. Draco thought of the empty spaces around him and wondered if it had been any of them. Dean Thomas had also been killed. He glanced over again at Ginny Weasley, understanding. The Death Eaters, they were told, had not achieved their goal, which was obvious to anyone sitting there. Only Draco knew the real reason why.
Harry had not been there.
Draco turned to look again for Harry, all his anger and confusion replaced by a new pain. He was beginning to understand what it was to be Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived. The Boy Who Lived To Watch Other People Die. He stared at his emotionless face, watched as Longbottom continued his fruitless attempts at comfort, arm around Harry's stiff shoulders, whispered words unheard, strong hand enclosing Harry's limp one. Draco watched and felt his heart ache. He wished he could say or do something to show him that he understood. He wished he could say anything, and for a moment he thought maybe he had, because just then Harry turned to look at him, his eyes flickering with pain for one moment as they met Draco's, only to be covered once again by the empty glaze that had been there all morning as he turned away. This was followed by a resentful glance from Longbottom, but Draco was too distraught to care.
A few gasps were heard in the room, drawing Draco's attention once more to Professor Dumbledore. He struggled to figure out what he'd missed.
They were closing Hogwarts.
"... Your parents have all been notified and most of you will be leaving immediately." Dumbledore paused. Draco thought he looked as though his heart was broken. "This is the saddest day I have known in all my years at this institution. I can only promise you that those of us who remain will put all our effort into making Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry safe once more."
As he sat down, the room broke out with the noise of hundreds of shocked and panicking schoolchildren, only to be silenced again as Professor McGonagall rose from her chair.
"Seventh year students only," she looked pointedly at a few younger Gryffindors and continued, "who wish to join the war effort, please reconvene here in one hour. The rest of you, please pack your essential belongings as quickly as possible. Transportation will be arriving shortly to take you to your parents." She looked for a moment as though she wanted to say more, but then simply nodded and returned to her chair.
The room erupted again, this time children scattering every which way. Draco didn't move, his eyes on Harry. He felt a tugging at his shoulder. It was Pansy.
"Come on Draco." She started to walk away, realized he wasn't with her and turned back. "Draco, we have to pack up, come on!"
Draco blinked and looked at her. "Oh. No," he said. "I'm not going."
"Why?" Her tone was of utter disbelief.
Draco paused, glanced at Harry and then turned back to her. "I have reasons."
Pansy stared. "Draco."
He shook his head and turned back to look at Harry. She waited for a moment, shifting her weight, then turned and ran off toward the dungeons.
The Gryffindor table was dispersing more slowly than the rest. Draco waited, as the younger students extracted themselves from the hugs of older students, finally heading to their tower to pack. Most of the seventh years stayed behind, reluctant to leave each other, even for the allotted hour. Finally he saw Harry move away from the group, against the obvious wishes of Longbottom in particular, and start toward the corridor. Draco followed and wordlessly fell into step with him. They walked, both of them silent, until they had reached the corridor outside the library. Harry stopped, leaned against the wall, and slid down to the floor. Draco followed suit. He didn't know how long they had been sitting there before Harry finally spoke.
"So I guess you saved me after all." He was staring at his knees, voice barely a whisper.
Draco laughed dryly. "I suppose." He wondered if saving someone by making them angry enough to stalk you counted for much. He sincerely doubted it.
"You're--so you're staying, then?"
"Yes," Draco answered. He paused, and then added, "I... well, I don't have anywhere to go." He felt idiotic. "It's not like--like I'm brave or anything. I'm not." To think you could save him... a coward like you. Everything was hopeless. He thought of the group gathered back in the Great Hall. He would never be one of them. They would never trust him, and he wasn't sure they were wrong. "I'm not brave," he repeated.
There was a long pause before Harry answered, so quietly it might have been Draco's imagination.
"Yes you are."
Draco felt a slow, glowing warmth deep in his stomach. Nervously, he moved his arm around Harry's shoulders. He felt Harry tense momentarily, and then relax and lean into him ever so slightly. After a few minutes, Harry began to shake gently and Draco realized he was crying. Draco pulled him a little tighter. The shaking grew more violent, as Harry's sobs became audible and he collapsed into Draco, crying freely.
Draco was stunned. He looked at the boy in his arms. This was Harry Potter, broken, lost in grief, drowning in regret. This was Harry Potter, seeking solace and safety. He thought again of the group in the Great Hall. Those were Harry's friends, the people he trusted and counted on. How could it be that in a room full of stouthearted Gryffindor heroes, Harry Potter sought comfort in the arms of Draco Malfoy? With Harry clinging to him he found he didn't care. Draco wrapped both his arms around Harry as tightly as he could, gently stroking his hair with one hand, and kissed his forehead.
Together they sat for the next hour, Harry crying, Draco holding him, until finally Harry's eyes were dry and swollen and they both stood, without a word, and started back to the Great Hall. As they neared their destination, Draco's stomach began to sicken. This was where it ended. As soon as they entered that room, he would be alone--unexpected, unwanted, despised by most. He didn't belong here. He didn't belong anywhere. Even Harry couldn't change that. The air felt thick and difficult to breathe. He thought of his empty dormitory. Perhaps Dumbledore would agree to just hide him there. Perhaps he could go back to his room and disappear into the velvet bed-curtains until the war was over, his fate sealed one way or another.
Draco's pace slowed a little, and he fell behind. Harry, noticing, took his hand, leading him the rest of the way. Just before they reached the doors, Harry stopped, squeezed Draco's hand, looking him in the eyes for the first time since the earlier assembly and said,
It was at this moment, with trust and gratitude radiating from Harry's eyes, that Draco felt for the first time in his life that perhaps he really could be brave. He squeezed Harry's hand in return, hoping that would speak for him, basking for a moment in the comforting pools of green before him. Harry's face was warm, determined, full of hope, just as a hero's should be. Draco tried to mirror it with his own. Harry gave him a flicker of a smile and walked into the Great Hall, ready to be Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived.
Draco Malfoy took a deep breath and followed.