The train whistles as it moves. Across from him sits Blaise, staring solemnly out the window. Beside him is Pansy, her head resting on his shoulder. One hand is on the table, his finger tapping on the wood consistently. Although there is chatter around him, none of it is truly uplifting. Nobody is as excited as they once were. Even Draco has a twist in his stomach. The last time everyone saw the castle, except for people who left such as Blaise and Pansy, it was in ruins. It’s been rebuilt, sure, but to people like him and Harry Potter, it’ll just be a cemetery.
“I don’t want to go back,” Blaise says.
“None of us do,” Pansy huffs.
Blaise goes off in a tangent about his parents. The words bounce off of Draco and hit the floor. His mom forced him to go back to Hogwarts. He didn’t want to come back. He knows how difficult it’s going to be, not only for him but for other Slytherins, too. Except, his mother knew his desire to become a Potions Master, and he hasn’t taken his NEWTS for it. He knew that his mother had planned to go to France, but she was put on house arrest and Draco… he was fortunate enough to be passed on all charges. Perhaps it was because of Potter, who spoke at his trial and his only. Draco wasn’t expecting it. He was waiting for him to be found guilty on all charges and sentenced to life in Azkaban. It’s what he deserves, anyway. But Potter pulled a few strings that left his mother crying in joy.
He didn’t get a chance to thank him. It would have been a hollow thank you, no sincerity behind it. He wanted to go to Azkaban. Maybe it would have helped him deal with his guilt. Maybe they would have “accidently” killed him. It would have been for the better.
He didn’t get a chance to talk to Potter, and he never tried to after the trial. He hasn’t talked to the hero since the war.
If he was going to say thank you for anything, it was going to be for killing the Dark Lord.
“… bunch of prats. Have you see the Prophet? School has barely started and they’re already slandering the entire Slytherin house. “
“I’d kill them if I could. Right, Draco? You up for killing the Prophet writers?”
“Anything for the lovely princess,” Draco drawls.
“You’re lucky you have your looks, my love. Let me play with your hair. “
They switch positions so that Draco can let his head fall into Pansy’s lap, and her fingers run through his hair. He closes his eyes, but he doesn’t sleep.
The Slytherin common room feels like home. The fire flickers below the mantelpiece, displaying a carved snake with glowing green eyes. Outside the windows the squid passes by as if welcoming them home. Draco sinks into his seat and watches Pansy stride over to him and sit down on his lap. She suggests lying in the beanbags, instead. Draco tells her that he wants to stay by the fire. She calls him spoiled and pats his cheek. She leaves him to talk to the younger students standing hesitantly by the doorway. She greets them with a smirk and bright eyes, similar to the carved snake. His gaze is focused on the fire.
He hasn’t talked to anyone except Pansy and Blaise since they got on the train. Nobody has talked to him except Pansy and Blaise since they got on the train. He wonders if it’s because they can sense that he doesn’t want to have a conversation with them, or if they’re scared because he was a Death Eater.
The unwanted Dark Mark still lies beneath his robes on his arm, white and barely noticeable. Ever since Potter killed the Dark Lord, it has been turning into nothing but a scar. He wants to pull up his sleeve and stare at it. Stare at how fucked up he is. Stare at the proof that he deserves to go to Azkaban. He was a fucking Death Eater. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t want it, it doesn’t matter that he was forced. In everyone’s eyes, he is nothing but a Death Eater.
Pansy calls his name. She wants him to come over and speak to the 1st years staring out the window with terrified eyes. He sighs. He doesn’t want to stand. He doesn’t want to talk. He wants to melt away into the chair until he’s nothing but liquid soaked into the dark green material. That doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon, but feeling comfortable enough to talk to others doesn’t seem to happening anytime soon, either, so he simply stands and goes to his dorm.
Pansy watches him go with soft eyes.
The next day isn’t any better. Most of the people in 8th year didn't return, meaning that most houses shared class. That means that the golden trio were in nearly all of his classes. He ignores them to the best of his ability. He talks to Pansy and Blaise, who are, fortunately, in most of his classes. He doesn’t pay attention to anything except his studies and his two friends.
After Potions, both Pansy and Blaise have classes, so he has time to do his homework. He parts ways with Pansy to go back to the common room to do his homework. He’ll have to do the best of his ability with his work, because he knows that some professors will give him a rough time. Slughorn is already acting like Draco doesn’t even exist. It doesn’t matter. It’s better than throwing insults left and right and deducting points every time he inhales.
He takes the long way because the long way has empty corridors that are rarely busy. He turns a corner and immediately stops when he sees what’s happening down the way. A group of 4 Gryffindors are surrounding a pair of Slytherins, who are pressed against the wall. Draco silently walks closer. The Gryffindors must be no more than year 3, and the Slytherins are definitely 1st years, one of them a girl with dark skin and darker hair, and the other one a boy with freckles covering his face like stars. The blond sighs. He knew this was going to happen. Between the Prophet calling all Slytherins Death Eaters and dumb little Gryffindors with big heads, this was bound to happen.
Draco rolls his shoulders back and cracks his knuckles.
“You’re just disgusting, freakish snake people,” a Gryffindor with fluffy auburn hair growls, raising a wand up to the Slytherin girls throat.
“Yeah,” says the other with glasses and snake bites, a wand to the Slytherin boys throat,” I bet you’re all Death Eaters!”
Snake bites, Draco thinks and tries not to roll his eyes, how ironic.
“What in the bloody hell is going on?” Draco snaps.
All of them freeze up. The Slytherins looks at Draco like they don’t know whether to be more afraid or thankful. The two Gryffindors behind the obvious leaders of their clan draw their wands up and point at him with trembling hands. He casts a nonverbal shield charm for the Slytherins, and they all gasp. If Draco wasn’t trying to be scary, he would have rolled his eyes. The Gryffindor with fluffy auburn hair steps forward, his wand pointing at Draco’s chest. This time, Draco rolls his eyes.
“What? You think I won’t hurt you!?” Shouts the Gryffindor.
“I’m sure you are willing, but who says I won’t hurt you first?” Draco asks, raising his eyebrows. “I could cast nonverbal spells all day long. Try me. “
The kids eyes flash with uncertainty.
“By the way, I’m the only Death Eater in Slytherin,” Draco mentions casually. “In fact, I have the Dark Mark to prove it. Anyone want to take a look?”
None of them move. The girl with snakebites has gone pale, her eyes glassy. The two Gryffindors that remind Draco of Goyle and Crabbe are slowly lowering their wands. As soon as Draco takes his wand out of his robes and raises it, their wands have shot back towards him.
Their hands are way too shaky to get anywhere near me.
Draco hopes someone doesn’t see them and get the wrong idea.
The Gryffindors shriek and turn around, sprinting down the corridor, nearly running into the wall at the turn. Draco scoffs, shaking his head as he slips his wand back into his robes. He walks closer to the Slytherins and kneels down, scanning them for injuries.
“Alright? No injuries?”
The girl smiles with the sun in her teeth. “Thank you. “
“Anytime, love. Are you two alright? They didn’t cast anything, did they?”
The boy shakes his head. “We’re okay, they didn’t hurt us. “ He swallows and stares at his shoes. “Gryffindors suck. “
The girl nods, her eyebrows furrowed and a hand settling on the boys shoulder.
“Not all Gryffindors are mean. Did you forget about Harry Potter? He saved us twice. “
The boy blushes. Draco ruffles his hair.
“Don’t be bitter, be better,” Draco tells him, standing up. “Where are you headed? I’ll walk you both there. Consider me a bodyguard. “
The girl grins. “Wow, a bodyguard with no pay? We really lucked out, huh, Adie?”
The beginning of a smile shows on the boy’s face. “I suppose. “
“We’re headed to the library to work on our Potions,” the girl says. “We really suck at it. “
“It’s only your first day, I’m sure it’ll get easier. “
“I hope so. I don’t want to disappoint Professor Slughorn. “
Draco starts leading the way down the corridor. He wonders if they even know where the library is.
“Being in graces with Professor Slughorn is probably the least of your worries. Focus on your studies and you’ll be just fine. “
“What if a Professor doesn’t like me because I’m… “ the girl trails off.
“Then tell me, and I’ll make sure things are straightened out,” Draco tells her.
They go silent for a second.
“You didn’t hurt those Gryffindors, did you?” The girl asks quietly.
“We don’t want to hurt anyone,” the boy says.
“Oh, that little spell? It didn’t do anything. I just shouted a random Latin word to scare them off.”
The two 1st years look at each other and start giggling.
When they get to the library, Draco shows the two a nice place in the back where nobody can see them, just in case they’re on the run from Gryffindors and Draco isn’t nearby. He’s about to leave when the girl asks if he could help with their potions.
“We don’t understand anything he told us. I don’t – maybe we’re just… “
“He’s quite boring, isn’t he?” Draco replies, which makes them both smile. “I’d make a better professor than him, and I’m not even good at teaching. I’ll take pity on you and help, but don’t think this is happening again. I have better things to do than play professor. “
The girls smile is bright, and the boys eyes are glowing. Draco sighs. How did these two get into Slytherin? They seem more like Hufflepuffs.
Draco spends about an hour there, helping the little 1st years and giving them tips on the potions they’ll brew soon. He writes it all down and makes them promise to not tell another soul his secrets.
“We’re Slytherins, Draco, not Hufflepuffs,” the girl says with a smirk. “If we do it right and everyone else does it wrong, Professor Slughorn will love us. “
“If we give to others, they’ll just take away our shine,” says the boy with an eyeroll.
Draco slowly smirks. “I would never mistake brilliant Slytherins like you two for Hufflepuffs.“
He glances at the clock. Pansy is probably waiting for him. He stands up and stretches his arms above his head. The two Slytherins frown at him.
“Where are you going?”
“I do have a life outside of helping poor, innocent first years, Clara. “
“That’s why you risk your reputation and say you’re a Death Eater to scare off Gryffindors,” she says sarcastically.
Draco raises an eyebrow. “You think I’m bluffing about my Dark Mark?”
Before they can say anything, he turns and leaves the library.
Pansy has a worried expression when he steps into the common room. She’s sitting where he sat yesterday with Sylvia, another 8th year, beside him. She talks, throwing her hands into the air, and that’s when her eyes meet Draco’s. Pansy says something, then Sylvia gets up and walks away with an annoyed look. She pats the spot next to her with a sweet smile – too sweet of a smile.
“Draco,” she drawls as he sits down,” I thought you were meeting me at my last class?”
“Something came up. “
The sweet look drops from her face. She studies his face.
“You didn’t get into any fights, did you?”
“Um, sort of. “
“These dumb 3rd year Gryffindors were harassing 1st year Slytherins and I couldn’t not step in. “
“I scared them off by saying a random Latin word they believed was a spell. “
She snorts and leans back. “Fucking cowards. “
“These Slytherins needed help with their Potions class, so I was in the library. “
She raises her eyebrows. “Y’serious? You, Draco Malfoy, who ignored everyone on the train and everyone in class finally broke because some little 1st years needed help on the first fucking day. “
“Sod off, Pans. “
“Some 11 year olds broke you with their innocence,” she says, laughing.
Draco’s back hits the back of the chair and he closes his eyes. They were 1st years who were being bullied, and were seconds away from saying that they’re dumb simply because they don’t understand one class on Potions.
“I’m not letting people suffer, Pansy. I want to help this time,” he says as he stands.
“Draco, no, please don’t go. “
The blond trudges away.
“My love, I was joking!”
He flees to his dorm. The bed is soft, but not as soft as his one at the manor. The atmosphere is just as uncomfortable, though. Outside the windows, he can see the castle’s ruins, and Hagrid holding a limp Potter in his huge arms. Potter, dead. His one hope lost. The one thing he was grasping onto had vanished. Inside, his entire world had been tumbling to the ground, brick after brick falling to the ground. It was all over. The Dark Lord would be forever a dark lord, and the mark on his arm will be forever stained into his skin.
Bloody Potter and his antics. Bloody, brilliant Potter, who gave Draco a million heart attacks within that final day.
A long sigh escapes him, and he melts into the bed. If he could sleep forever, he would.
Draco can’t sleep.
It’s already an hour past midnight, yet he can’t fall asleep no matter how hard he tries. Half of him wants to go to sleep, but the other dreads it. He still has nightmares. The war is carved into his brain like the Dark Mark. He tried using sleeping potions back at the manor, but all they do is make him feel 10 times as exhausted than he usually is the following day.
At dinner earlier, Pansy didn’t say anything about the events that had happened before. She talked about useless things that don’t matter and Blaise talked about never wanting to write his mother again and Draco stared across the hall at Harry Potter, who was staring down at his food like he didn’t trust it. He caught Granger’s eye, then looked back at his plate, and never looked at the Gryffindor table again.
Harry Potter is often in his nightmares, usually the ones involving the Fiendfyre. He’s climbing up, and up, but his hand slips and he falls into searing heat. It scorches his body, leaving handprints of heat across his skin. It goes down his throat and burns his lungs. Potter calls his name. He reaches up with his hand that is engulfed in flames, and he chokes on the fire burning in his throat. Potter tries to grab him, but gets too close and falls into the fire. That’s when Draco screams and wakes up with tears on his face.
It’s 2 in the morning when Draco finds himself standing in the corridor by the Room of Requirement. Instead of walking past 3 times then going in, his back hits the wall and he slides down it until the floor finds him. His breath quickens. His chest constricts, and he can’t get a breath. He buries his face in his hands. He can feel the heat of the flame. The fire itching to taste his skin. The flicker of heat whipping against his body.
He feels hot tears slide down his cheeks and wonders if he’ll ever be okay again.
“Surprised to see you back, Malfoy. I thought all the Death Eaters were headed straight to Azkaban. “
Draco doesn’t turn around, doesn’t stop walking down the hallway. He doesn’t have enough energy for this.
“Did the Ministry forget about all those people you tortured and killed?”
“I didn’t kill anyone. “
The Ravenclaw laughs. “Keep telling people that, Malfoy, but nobody is ever going to believe you. “
Draco swallows. He takes longer strides, desperate to get to his class. It’s his last class of the day, the only class he doesn’t have with Pansy or Blaise; of course someone would take advantage of him being alone.
Draco dives to one side of the corridor, bumping into a group of Hufflepuffs to dodge the Stickfast Hex. The Hufflepuffs gape at him, but he ignores them and breaks into a jog, dodging people as he goes. Eventually, after taking several detours, he loses the Ravenclaw. As soon as he gets to class, he leans against the wall and runs a hand down his face. Fuck Hogwarts. Fuck Ravenclaws. Fuck every single student that isn’t a Slytherin. Fuck the Dark Lord. Fuck life.
Draco’s eyes find Potter, standing hesitantly a few feet away from him. He merely stares at the Gryffindor, expecting him to continue.
“You alright?” He asks, the words sounding awkward. Everything about this is awkward.
“Why do you care?” Draco asks.
It doesn’t come out angrily, which causes Potter to look surprised. Draco sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose, eyes closed.
“I didn’t think you’d come back. “
Draco doesn’t say anything. He squeezes harder, trying to remember why the fuck he came back in the first place. Right, his mother. They were supposed to go to France, but Potter spoke at his trial instead of his mothers, which he would have preferred so she could do whatever she pleases, travel to a place nobody knows her name.
“Right. Um… “ Potter trails off. Draco didn’t expect him to stay for this long. “If you need anything… “
A pause after that. Then, retreating footsteps. Draco wishes he could turn back time and fall into that damned Fiendfyre.
He doesn’t tell anyone what happened with the Ravenclaw. He sits at dinner, and he eats whatever is on his plate. He glances at whoever is talking and pretends to listen. He uses his fork and chews and swallows and takes a drink. He goes through all of the motions. It feels like 7th year over again. No, it’s worse than that, because he doesn’t have anything to look forward to. He doesn’t have any hope left inside him. The war is over, the Dark Lord is gone, the right side won and the wrong side lost like Draco was hoping. But now what? Now, Draco lives with the hatred, with people like Danny who chased him in the hallway trying to hex him. And after, once NEWTS are done, he’ll try to be a Potions Master, but will end up failing because who on earth would give service to a Death Eater who got a freebie?
Draco looks up, across the hall, and his eyes meet Potter’s. As soon as they meet, Potter’s gaze darts away, towards the front of the hall. The blond sighs. He rests an elbow on the table and lets his chin fall into his palm. He has barely made a dent in his plate, but he doesn’t feel hungry.
“I’m not hungry,” he says as he stands.
“Draco.” Pansy holds a hand out to him.
Draco ignores the offer in front of him. He turns away and leaves the Great Hall.
The corridors are silent. Empty. It’s nice. It’s how it was during the night. He drags his feet up the staircases, up into the common room to fall down onto the couch. He closes his eyes.
Why the hell do I keep trying when it’s all going to crash and burn?
Hogwarts is a cemetery. The blood is still staining the grass, rusting. Flesh is in between the cracks in the walkways. The fear is bounded inside and is sticking to the outside of the castle. Death is woven into the castle, into the bricks and into every student in here.
Draco is the cause of that.
In direct terms, no, Draco isn’t the cause of that. In indirect terms, yes. He helped the Dark Lord. He helped kill Dumbledore. He helped kill someone. He tortured people. He hurt people.
When he was younger, he thought he was going to magnificent one day. He thought he was going to be a hero. He thought he was going to become friends with Harry Potter, and they’d go off saving people. He had dreams about it. Whole, full dreams of him and the savior of the wizarding world, and every time he woke up he just wanted to go back to sleep.
An empty laugh is eaten up by the cold air. Imagine what his younger self would say if he saw what really happened. He became the villain.
Potter is going to have kids, Granger will have kids, everyone will have kids, and they’ll tell the story of Potter and his journey to save the world. Draco knows how the story will go when his name is brought up. The Death Eater who killed the most liked headmaster. The twat who fought Potter on a daily basis. The student who betrayed everyone and joined the Dark Lord.
The villain who didn’t get what he deserved, but eventually, he did, because he jumped off the Astronomy Tower.
Ironic that he killed himself where he killed Dumbledore, Potter will say, bitter yet relieved, remembering that the antagonist of his story is dead.
He’s standing on the ledge, his hands in the air. A gust of wind could tip him over. He looks down.
It’s ironic, Potter, he agrees.
Draco swallows. Pansy and Blaise will be upset. His mother, too. He doubts his father will found out; his mother is forbidden to go to Azkaban. The younger Slytherins will need a new bodyguard. But the rest of the school will be relieved. They’ll see his dead body, his vacant eyes, his blood splattered across the grass and a breath will be released. The Death Eater is dead, the last evil at Hogwarts. He’ll get what he deserves.
Three envelopes sit on his bed. One for Pansy, one for his mother, one for Blaise. The one for Pansy is the longest. He knows she likes him; has ever since school started. She’ll hurt the most. The one for his mother is short and sweet. It hurt writing it. The one for Blaise isn’t much, just an apology for leaving him, and to take care of Pansy. Although it tore up his heart writing them, he felt a sense of relief when he lined them up on his bed. It is all going to be over.
He has no idea what happens after Death. Is it going to be a heaven, or a hell? Is he going to be judged, his heart weighed like the Egyptians? Is it nothing at all? Will it be like having a dreamless sleep, like how it was before he was even born? Will he become a ghost?
Draco’s throat burns. He lets out a shaky breath. He needs to do this. He needs to do this. This has to be over, done with. He needs to jump.
Jump. Please. You need to jump, he tells himself.
As he takes in a breath, readying to jump, he freezes. He shakes his head, the tears burning his eyes. He takes a step off of the ledge, stumbling to the ground of the Astornomy Tower. He buries his face into his hands, and allows the sobs to rip out of his throat.
The moon wonders what Draco would do if he noticed Harry Potter standing in the doorway, an Invisibility Cloak covering his body.