He doesn't stay at Hogwarts after he takes his finals. He doesn't tell anyone, except Snape. The professor had looked at him infinitley sadly, and told him, "You don't have to leave, Mr. Malfoy."
"Yes, professor, I do."
Snape doesn't say anything else, just draws him close for a minute before telling him, "You'd best get gone before dinner then."
There is an envelope of banknotes on his duffel bag when he goes back to his room for it, and a large group of Slytherins who refuse to look at him as he walks away. He stops at the door for a minute before finally whispering, "You'll be fine."
He washes out of Quidditch league. Apparently, he lacks commitment. He'd think that was funny if it didn't make him sick. He keeps remembering Voldemort's voice in his head, above the agony, "You lack commitment."
He moves to Surrey, gets a job in a wizard pub, working for a family who look at him distrustfully, but that's more becuase he's not from the country, not becuase of his father or his name. It's refreshing.
They let him sleep over the pub, in the attic, and he manages to drag a futon and some chairs up there. He eats lunch there every day until he finds out where the grocery store is. He eats lots of new things then, although pasta seems to have become a
staple in his diet, purely becuase it's cheap. People always assumed that he was coming into a fortune, but he'd been forced to watch as his father had squandered it.
He worked for a man named Edward, and he had a wife, Anne, and a son, Richard. Other than a lack of imaginative names, he sees nothing wrong with them, no reason why he can't like them. It's nice to be able to just like someone, without having to think
about what side they're on.
Edward looks at his scars alot when he first hires him. Draco tries not to let it bother him. He knows they're ugly, gunpowder grey. They slash across his arms, puckered in places where he had to have surgery to knit the muscles back together. Crucatius
wasn't the only thing Voldemort liberally applied.
But they become common, after a time, and he wears long shirts except when he must roll up his sleeves to tend bar, so once people get used to them, it's not so bad.
He gets fevers sometimes. Remnants from Voldemort's Cruciatus curse. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, he lies in bed and shakes with agony, and heat. He doesn't tell anyone, not when he can help it, just bolts the door and gets through it,
reminding himself that Voldemort's dead and he's still alive, so ha, he won.
It gets bad once, so bad that he doesn't make it into work, a few days, and Ed unlocks his door, ready to yell at him, and finds him on the floor by the window, trying to get some cold. Ed ends up tucking him back into bed, propping him up on pillows,
bringing him ice lollies from the freezer. For the first time in his life, he is taken care of. It's nice. It feels like something his father should have done.
He gets used to the hum drum of country life, the little arguments over nothing, the people knowing who he is. The man all greet him when they come in for pints, tell him he needs to find a girl, needs to cut his hair. He's tan and filled out now, not that pale
little shadow he used to be, and he finds he likes this better. He learns how to play rugby, which he likes almost as much as quidditch, becuase it's fun, and violent, and he gets to crash into people at high speeds. He gets mates, real ones, who call him Drak,
and loop their arms around his neck, and come around when he's feeling bad. It's a new experience, and he finds he likes it.
After a year, another, his regrets become less, and he is not so heartsick. What's done is done, and while he takes no pleasure in it, he's also stopped regretting it either. We do not all get the luxury of choosing who we become. Some of us just have to live
Snape comes to see him one Saturday, looks him over, tells him, "You look like a peasant."
He laughs at that, and hugs his godfather, wide open and happy, like he never was before. Snape looks pleasantly surprised by that, and after a minute returns the hug. They sit and talk for a while, about old times. Apparently McGonnal is head now, and
Snape has an assistant, a bumbling hufflepuff that drives him insane. They laugh about it, and talk about where everyone else ended up. Harry and Ron are aurors now, and Hermoine teaches DADA. Snape tells him he misses him, but he does not ask him to
Draco is grateful.
Edward invites him home for Yule. He says he doesn't know, but the man insists, and before the evening is done he finds himself in a well furnished living room, on a couch, drinking microwave scalded cocoa, and playing cards with Richard, who likes to be
called Rich now. He obliges, becuase he remembers that age, and he hopes that kid has it better than he did.
They bought him presents, and he isn't sure what to do, becuase he's never bought one for someone, and doesn't have any, but they wave that away. They wave that away and tell him to open them. New quills, a sweater, "The Pocket book of spells"
He feels like part of a family. He buys them something next year, and makes the cocoa himself.
Harry comes to see him in the Spring, looking cerebral and a little out place in a little farm town. He looks at Draco critically, tells him, "You look well."
Draco looks up from where he's washing a pan, a little ruefully, and asks, "Compared to what, exactly?"
Harry blushes at that, and looks down, then gives him a bit of a smile. "Well, there is that."
He offers Harry something to eat, and he accepts. They make small talk, but that's about it. He knows Harry feels awkward, and guilty, and doesn't know what to say. Harry asks how he's doing, and he tells him he's well. Harry asks him, "Not what you're
He thinks about his cozy little loft, the pile of down comforters, his crap telly. He thinks of Edward who taught him how to work the ovens, and how Anne's always telling him he's too skinny. He thinks of playing cards on yule, of spring, of cinnamon rolls on
Saturday, and people who give their affection freely and without conditions. Of freinds who bring him popsicles when he's sick, and tackle him on rugby feilds when he's well.
"No." He says, shaking his head, "Not what I'm used to."
He's not too sorry to see Harry go, even if he was glad to see him a little. The man just reminds him of things that he doesn't want brought back. He sees Harry rubbing his forehead, and knows that he's not the only one.
Fall comes, and he enjoys the apple picking, for the first time. He'd been sick the last few years, but this time he gets up early with his mates, and wraps up and picks them until his hands are numb with the cold and his cheeks are red. They serve apple cider
until everyone but him is sick of it, but he loves the tart, heaviness of the cider, and he suspects that Edward keeps it a few extra weeks, just for him.
One year, two years, another three go by. Severus comes to see him once a month, tells him everything that's been going on. Edward starts to only work half days, and makes him junior partner. He gets enough money to buy a little cottage half way off the
lane. Some of the girls in the village come around, but he doesn't have much interest, thinking rather of a girl with curly hair and dark brown eyes. He knows that he can't have her, that he doesn't deserve her, but that doesn't stop him from missing her.
One day, when he's busy cleaning and waxing the bar, he hears the clearing of a throat, and looks up, surprised.
She's standing there, looking almost exactly the way she did six years ago. Know it all, and strong, and inherently interested in the ceiling. He smiles, asks, "Can I help you?"
She smiles, asks, "I thought you were above menial labor."
He shrugs, "I changed. Suppose you like being a prof then?"
She nods, "It's all right."
"Just all right?"
She looks away, "It's too - much, sometimes."
He knows how that feels. He knows exactly how that feels. That's why he's in Surrey. They make small talk for a while, and she buys some candy, pausing when he says, "Bet Ron will like those."
"Ron -" She pauses, takes a breath, "Ron can buy his own candy."
The next summer, his little cottage by the rain has two new occupants both, a wife and a son. He holds his child whenever he gets a chance. Sings to him, smiles at him, tickles him. He learns how wonderful it is to hear his child laugh, to see his wife happy.
He goes apple picking with his son when he can toddle, and plays rugby on Saturday mornings, and he is happy.
We do not all have the luxury of choice, but he thinks, that even if he had, he would not have wanted it.