It's five days after the deaths, and all he can do is hide.
Hide from the eyes staring at him, the faces whispering, the walls almost breathing with the knowledge that it's his fault. Hide from the mirrors that show his pale skin alight with bruises and smudged eyes, hide from McGonagall who has been the most outreaching and understanding. Hide from crowds where he hears news of his father's arrest and upcoming trial, his mother's house arrest as they sort her own. Hide from the knowledge that his own will follow, too. Hide from everyone he knows, from his supposed once-friends now afraid to be connected to him.
But most of all, he hides from him.
He with his wide green eyes not of anger or hate or unblemished rivalry he'd always known, but eyes that state apologies from across a room. He with his soft mouth always about to call his name in that commanding way of his. He with his strange Gryffindor persuasion of throwing himself at a cause until it kills him. He with his friends who are as broken as he is...as Draco has been for a while now.
Draco shivers with nightmares when sleep does take him over for an hour or two at a time.
Draco never rolls his sleeves up.
Draco's jaw twitches under the strain of constantly fighting tears over his mother.
Draco vomits when he thinks of his own future.
And when he cannot hide, when he is found, he runs. He runs by briskly walking away from a group as they whisper, pretending he notices none of them as he grabs food handed out in the Great Hall once a day, refusing to go more than that. He runs from him when he feels that ridiculously powerful aura of his from behind zoning and closing fast.
McGonagall finds him in the old bathroom, the one where they'd fought and he'd been cursed by the Savior himself, ripped open on the chest to nearly bleed to death. She finds him at the word of Saint Potter that he'd be there, hidden.
She offers him peace. She asks for his aid in fixing some of the walls. In helping Madam Pomfrey pass out potions and check patients. She quietly listens to why he whispers that he wants to help, but that no one will let him. And when she leaves him to think on it, Draco swallows harshly and curses the day he ever let that Dark fucking Lord mark his perfect arm, curses himself for his own arrogance and ego needing to show Potter, show everyone until the realization that he was in over his head, that his family was hostage, that they were making him do horrible things beyond forgiveness, that his own life was near forfeit was all for nothing.
On the sixth day, after making his rounds of running and hiding and returning to the little cot he's managed to drag in the lavatory, he sees a note waiting next to his missing wand.
I've been trying to give you this. I refused to turn it over to the Ministry. It's not theirs, and it doesn't belong in a bloody museum for what I did with it. It's yours, and we wouldn't be here without you. I won't let them forget it. Harry.
He picks up the hawthorn wand, holding it and feeling as if a piece of himself has been suddenly restored. He shudders, unable to hold back the few tears that do streak across his cheek.
And then, on the sixth day, Draco smiles without even knowing it.
McGonagall only smiles at him when he shows up to the makeshift additional medical areas. Pomfrey directs him, quietly, to beds with some unconscious students still dealing with effects of hexes, curses and horrible wounds. Draco spends hours wiping blood, cleaning bandages, giving potions, and though he never speaks, he feels something in him start to unwind a little. When a wounded Hufflepuff wakes enough to see him cleaning her brow, she mutters a soft thanks, smiles somehow, and passes back out. Draco holds his breath the entire time, wondering how she could be so polite to him, regardless of her house reputation, after everything.
Later that night after rereading Harry Potter's note for the tenth time, Draco tries to sleep. He's unsuccessful for the first few attempts, and so he rereads Potter's note again, but this time he's not reading the words so much as he is taking in the lettering itself, the ink, the angle it was scrawled in, the pressure that was applied, the intention behind Potter's writing. And something in his chest tightens in a good pain, but it scares him to death.
It feels like the times he'd get a response from ruffling Potter's feathers in classes, the little glares to match his own, the sound and fury of his voice as well, all enticing and riling him up in a visceral cycle of something Draco himself didn't quite understand. It had just always existed, since the day they'd met. It had always burned inside of him the way those green eyes did in frustration or anger.
He had never wanted approval from someone so much in his life—not even from his own bloody father. From the first moment he'd met Harry Fucking Potter, he'd just wanted to know him. To be close to him. To see what made him so special, why his own father bothered and silently encouraged Draco to follow in his direction. To be different. To be vindicated in what he'd thought was important at the time. And Potter had turned him down, rather well if Draco had to look back and admit it, because he'd been too stupid and pushed at Weasley verbally.
Draco sneers at that thought, then frowns, trying to throw out his father's words about poorer families.
The Weasley family has suffered enough at Hogwarts in the last two weeks and so have all finally gone home, taking one of the twins to be buried. And while Draco had been afraid, he wanted to say something in a sudden rearing of Pureblood manners, but he just knew it wouldn't be welcomed. Not by the Weasel. Not by any of them, except maybe Potter with that sad look in his eyes. So he'd hid, watching from afar as the entire family and Granger left last night, Potter with them telling McGonagall he'd be back in a couple of days and perhaps the others would follow in the next weeks.
Then Draco had helped, feeling more secure with them gone and not here to stare at him or snap at him or tell him to fuck right off.
Turning the parchment over in his hands, Draco lightly strokes over the glittery green ink in the light of his Lumos spell. His wand thrums in his hand happily, and a smile tugs at his lip as he looks from the ink to the wand again and again. And that feeling just keeps returning, burning in his chest.
He knows Potter didn't have to return it like this. He knows Potter is going to incur the Ministry's wrath for it. He knows he is utterly grateful and not just for this.
He's grateful for everything.
For himself sparing Potter when they were found.
For Potter and his friends managing to get the hell out of the Manor.
For saving Draco's life from the fiendfyre when he honestly, partly, wanted to just die.
For that idiot risking his life for everyone by walking to the Forbidden Forest alone.
For that brave soul trusting him in that moment so much that he took his offered wand (something so intimate, so personal and trusting between any two wizards) and fought the Dark Lord beautifully.
Upon seeing him do so, Draco had never felt more assured that the sun would rise again. He'd been proud to see Harry Potter win with his wand. Still is. And that pride, that feeling in his chest, all of this pain and broken self-contempt had kept him from going to his father's side at the very end.
Draco sighs and folds the parchment as he has many times now, sticking it in his coat pocket against his chest. He tries to sleep again, and this time he succeeds.
He's flying on a broom, feeling free. And Potter's flying next to him, nodding and encouraging.
Draco is leaving the Great Hall after helping with wounded again. He's grabbed a small plate of dinner thrown together by the house elves, some sort of cottage pie it looks like, and he passes out of the crowd, noticing, for once, that it seems less focused on him. With relief he walks on toward his bolthole, not even going back to the Slytherin dorms yet, even though he's supposed to for safety and accountability at the moment.
The plate nearly flies from his hand as he runs smack into Potter around the corner from everyone.
Instinctively Draco recoils away, fights the immediate urge to glare, and instead just grunts what he hopes sounds something like apology and circles around. Potter clearly has other ideas as he sidesteps into the way again. Draco looks away, then back to the Chosen One's face, darker silvery blond brow rising.
Potter's hair is growing out again, shaggier on top than the sides at the moment. His green eyes are intense as always behind his glasses. His scar is barely visible through his fringe. His cheeks are hollower than before, a scratch still healing on his nose.
But there's the tiniest hint of smile on his lips, and that confuses Draco.
“All right there, Malfoy?” Potter asks, glancing to the settled plate in his hands.
Draco looks to it as well, nearly having forgotten about it entirely. He nods.
This causes Potter to frown, bizarrely enough, but Draco doesn't wait long enough to find out why. He just strides around his old rival again, spine straight, posture perfect for a moment of display. And when he hears Potter just sigh behind him, the feeling tugs, and Draco softly speaks over his shoulder, the first time to him since the ultimate battle.
“Potter,” he says in a tone of bidding one farewell.
The puzzled little nod is appreciated in return.
When he gets back to the bathroom and sits to eat on his cot, Draco glances around out of habit and takes the parchment out again. One long, slender finger traces Potter's name, the famous Harry signature at the bottom. And Draco tucks his chin to his chest, thinking of that puzzled little nod and frown, and feels strangely better.
The nightmares are so bad that Draco hurts himself thrashing off the cot in his sleep. He falls hard to the floor, wincing as his head hits it with a spectacular crack. Everything is spinning for a moment, and, dazed, Draco tries to blink away memories.
He sees the sink nearby and knows he stood there once, crying, terrified, absolutely sick.
He sees the damage around and knows Potter had confronted him about the necklace, about things he barely knew of yet, but did so all the same with his stupid gut feeling and Gryffindor nosiness.
He looks down for a moment at his partially unbuttoned shirt, sees the scars, and knows Potter nearly killed him.
Draco closes his eyes against the memory of the pain from the spell and remembers, with shocking clarity, how terrified, absolutely sick, and wet Potter's face was when he'd bled out.
And he knows with certainty then that Potter had never meant to nearly kill him at all.
Swallowing roughly, he glances once more around the room and waves his wand silently, cleaning it with growing vigor in each stroke and swipe, jaw clenching at all the pain and all the stupid suffering that could have been spared if only they'd fucking ever talked like bloody people.
The broken sinks repair somewhat messily, the floor tries to look as if no heavy stone pieces had ever fallen upon it. Glass heals together.
It doesn't look like it never happened. But it looks like progress.
Draco stares for a long time afterward, nightmares forgotten.
Draco quickly begins to suspect that Potter's timing is scheduled when he nearly tips two more days' worth of dinner plates.
Each time the Boy-Who-Lived stares him down intensely, asks that soft, “All right there, Malfoy?” and waits patiently until Draco passes with a softly uttered “Potter” in turn.
It's beginning to get annoying.
Draco prickles inside on the fourth event of it.
By this point it's clear to him that Potter's doing it as his only way of capturing Draco for the moment, of getting to look at him at all. That Potter's sad, understanding, knowing eyes stare at him with sympathy, never pity.
And it lights Draco on fire.
“All right there, Malfoy?” he asks nonchalantly yet again.
Draco's repressed anger and desire to scream both coil in him at the same time, and the scowl that deepens his face is palpable even to Potter, whose eyes widen. Draco says nothing, just glares in a way he never truly has at Potter—not with rivalry, not with egging, not even playfully or in annoyance. He glares in agony.
Silently Draco passes him and doesn't utter his part, not this time. Not again. He keeps walking despite the soft call of his surname and doesn't look back when he hears Potter hesitating to follow.
When he doesn't, Draco is thankful, and he eats his dinner in silence as always, wand out with a soft Lumos, parchment on his lap, one finger trailing over Potter's writing.
“I don't need it,” he says, staring at the paper.
“I don't need you,” he corrects himself.
“I hate you,” he snarls in the silence.
As the words stay exact and static, that I won't let them forget it and Harry shining up at him mercilessly, Draco begins to cry. He's so fucking alone. And it's only now, with Potter's plate disruptions and words that Draco really, truly knows it.