There was a loud bang and the bin behind Harry exploded; Harry attempted a Leg-Locker Curse that backfired off the wall behind Malfoy’s ear and smashed the cistern beneath Moaning Myrtle, who screamed loudly; water poured everywhere and Harry slipped as Malfoy, his face contorted, cried, “Cruci –”
“SECTUMSEMPRA!” bellowed Harry from the floor, waving his wand wildly.
Searing fire whipped across Draco’s face and chest, causing him to choke out a pained gasp. He staggered backwards; his nerves were frozen with a cold slice of fear, a great deal of burning pain, and relief.
He saw Potter laying on the floor, his green eyes round and filled with what may have been horror while he stared at the blood dripping from Draco’s chest on to the floor. There might have been regret in those eyes, too, thought Draco before his body finally crumpled to the wet floor with a splash.
He had a vague feeling of his wand slipping from his hand. His eyes rolled up to the ceiling. Black spots crawled along the edges of his vision.
“No – I didn’t –”
He felt rather than heard Potter collapse beside him with another small splash. Draco’s eyes were slowly closing, but he tilted over and his eyes met green. Green like the killing spell.
Then someone was screaming. That didn’t sound like Potter, Draco vaguely thought. Footsteps moved forward rapidly.
Draco wanted them to go away.
Then blackness filled his vision, the pain suddenly dulled, and he felt cold. He knew no more.
“….There might be a certain amount of scarring….take dittany immediately…”
Numbness. It was the first thing Draco felt, and it was everywhere. He tried to lift an arm but it felt too heavy. Putting more effort and ignoring everything else, his left arm eventually brushed against his side and he felt bandage wrappings. His mind felt muddled as he tried to recall his surroundings.
What happened? Where am I?
With effort, Draco slowly opened his eyes and was greeted with a vaulted white ceiling above him. The feeling of cheap cotton finally entered his senses and he twitched his hands against the familiar bedsheets.
The Hospital Wing. Of course.
His head slowly cleared. Then he remembered – the bathroom, Potter, spells flying, Potter yelling something. Then pain, blood, relief. Green eyes. And Snape’s voice.
Damnit, Draco mentally frowned. He could never catch a fucking break. Snape must have brought him to the Hospital Wing; had Madame Pomfrey heal him up. Otherwise, this was a horrible setting for an afterlife.
Draco went to sit up, then thought better of it as a dull pain shot through his torso and neck. Looking down, he saw bandages covering him waist up, even on his arms in a few places, and all the way up to his neck.
Of all bloody things to happen, Draco thought bitterly. Who knew Potter hated him that much to almost kill him. The rumors of him being such a Savior…. what rot. Potter almost killed him. And what was the spell that he’d used? It had certainly felt dark. Draco had never heard or seen it before.
But Potter using dark magic? Maybe he wasn’t as golden as the wizarding world thought he was if Potter was willing to off the son of a death eater with a dark spell, Draco thought ruefully,
It would have been over then — his mission, the Dark Lord, his parents. Draco almost resented Snape for saving him in time. Everything wouldn’t have mattered, then. He would have died without having to see his parents in danger of being killed and with his soul intact.
Draco had known he was going to fail his mission, but he never thought he would’ve been the one to end up getting killed. Not by Potter’s hands anyway.
Draco felt an echo of sharp pain emanating from his chest. Whatever that dark spell had been, it had been strong for sure.
Draco had felt something else before the spell had almost cut him into ribbons, though.
Hot, searing fire had swept through his very being and his magical core. A bright white spark had filled inside him as Potter’s powerful magic had clashed with his. It had felt so raw. Draco had almost been curious as to what it was. Then the pain had hit and all Draco could see was terror-filled eyes. Realization had set in then, and Draco had collapsed.
Draco scoffed as he remembered. Trust Potter to fling every ounce of power into offing someone. He should save that for the real Death Eaters, the blond thought bitterly.
And Draco was no Death Eater. He knew he was just a weak pawn. He was too weak to go against the Dark Lord’s wishes. He was too afraid, too cowardly to save his parents any other way. He knew no other way. And he was too much of a coward to tell Dumbledore, who would have certainly had him thrown into Azkaban. Who would save his parents then?
Life really wasn’t fair when someone as weak as Draco went up against someone as powerful as Potter — the boy-who-lived fighting against an almost death eater. He hadn’t stood a chance. It’s a miracle Draco didn’t die, he mused. Shame, really.
“Hello?” a sudden broken whisper sounded.
Draco would later be ashamed of the way he’d almost jumped in fright. Though, he was startled to find that his eyes had closed without him knowing. He lay still, listening as footsteps sounded from the doorway of the Hospital Wing. The door creaked closed behind whoever had entered and Draco heard movement move farther into the room.
Draco didn’t think there were any other patients in the room, and he was bloody annoyed at whoever decided to need Pomfrey in the middle of the night. He was prepared to see the older nurse poke her head around the corner to admit her newest patient, when he suddenly heard the loud movement move right next to his bed.
Keeping still and not chancing a peek, Draco strained to hear where exactly the newcomer was.
Bloody buggering hell.
Draco would recognize that git’s voice in a crowd a mile away. Why the hell was he here? Probably came back to finish the job.
Potter’s loud breathing filled the room as he grew closer. Then the sound of a silky robe falling to the ground startled Draco.
Dear Merlin, was Potter getting naked?
Shamed to know that his cheeks were close to flushing, Draco almost missed Potter’s next words.
“Malfoy? Are you awake?”
Draco kept frozen, but he ached to know where his wand was. Bloody Potter, interrupting his sleep while he was trying to mend. Where did he get off trying to kill Draco and then returning in the middle of the night to finish what he started? Bloody sneaky of Potter trying to do him in with no living witnesses around, again.
“Merlin, Malfoy,” Potter’s voice whispered, a bit farther away now. He must be sitting on the bed next to Draco’s. “I…I can’t… Merlin…”
Draco mentally scowled at Potter’s ineloquence. Bloody Potter. Go away.
The rustling of parchment sounded then, before a soft sniff echoed through the room. “Merlin, Malfoy… Merlin, I am so sorry,” Potter’s voice whispered brokenly. “I didn’t… I didn’t know. What that spell did… If I had known…” Potter’s voice trailed off. A heavy, broken sigh escaped him. More movement. “Malfoy, I… There’s no excuse for what I did. I almost… almost k-killed you –” his voice broke off as he let out an angry sigh. “If Snape hadn’t come when he did, I’d have killed you, Malfoy. If Snape… that book... Merlin.”
Draco felt himself growing annoyed, and a bit tired, at Potter’s broken speech. He was close to opening his mouth and saying something offensive to Potter, just to spare himself the further agony of an inarticulate Gryffindor, but stopped at the boy’s next words.
“No, that’s no excuse. Prince didn’t force me to say that stupid spell. I still think Hermione is wrong about him, but… It’s just me. My stupid magic getting the best of me. Yeah, Malfoy, you’re a prat” –Draco frowned — “but even you didn’t deserve that. I just… sometimes I can’t control it. I wasn’t trying to kill you, but my magic just… It’s too strong sometimes, and I… I don’t want anyone else to get hurt. Too many…” Potter’s voice lowered, and Draco could hear him muttering to himself. Draco took a risk and opened his eyes a slit, only to see Potter hunched over with his face covered by his hands. He wasn’t sobbing, but he seemed to be almost… containing something. His magic?
Draco had noticed Potter’s wild magic before; small things, inconsequential habits that Draco knew Potter had. And that burning fire in the bathroom… That was raw magic that Draco had felt; wild and powerful. But for it to be so strong that it was near uncontrollable? Draco couldn’t fathom the concept.
While Draco was near the top of his class and had an extensive knowledge of potions and dark spells, he’d never had to struggle to control his magic before. In Draco’s experience, power meant being able to maintain and manipulate magic. Therefore, Draco became adept at Legilimency and Occlumency, although he was more keen on the latter. But, Potter was different. Draco wasn’t sure if Potter had experience with mind magic; it seemed doubtful since he didn’t seem skilled at anything other than apparently throwing pure magic at his enemies. And casting dark spells he knew nothing about.
Draco shook his head.
All that raw power, while Draco had nothing. Draco was the one trying to save his family from the Dark Lord’s ruthlessness. Only to get carved up for it. If Draco had the strength to defeat Potter, deliver him to the Dark Lord instead—
No, that wouldn’t work. Aside from the fact that Potter’s wild magic would only try to kill him once more, Draco wasn’t strong enough to do that. He may hate Potter with a passion but if the rumors were true, he was the Light side’s only hope to winning the soon-to-be war. Draco couldn’t do that. Not Potter. After Katie Bell, Weasley, and Dumbledore, Draco knew he just didn’t have it in him to kill.
In the bathroom — while Potter hadn’t known — Draco had been fully aware of how weak his Crucio would have been. Back at home, he hadn’t been able to effectively torture any of the animals he had practiced on. His aunt, his father — they had all had a good laugh at his weakness.
To think that Draco had thought killing Dumbledore would’ve made him stronger. More powerful.
Of course, killing Bell, Weasley, or even Dumbledore wouldn’t have made him stronger. Draco was already inherently weak. He had plenty of dark knowledge, and knew how to apply it. However, he didn’t have the experience.
But Potter did. He had the power. He had fought the Dark Lord several times, and bloody won. If Draco’s parents weren’t in such drastic danger, he would’ve considered switching sides long before his mission. But it was too late now. While Draco admired Potter’s power and experience, the bloody git had nearly sliced him to pieces. He wouldn’t help Draco now, unless…
“So, I just… I wanted to just say sorry, Malfoy,” Potter’s voice sounded again. Draco’s eyes were open now, looking at Potter. But Potter didn’t seem to notice, his eyes on the ground, as he stood to leave. He grabbed something off the floor – a cloak? – but he paused. He turned his head slightly to look at the bandages peeking out from beneath the blankets that covered Draco. “Goodnight, Malfoy.”
Potter jumped, and Draco had to stifle a grin as he watched Potter whirl around to face him with wide green eyes.
“Malfoy? You’re awake? Er, have you been…?”
“Just for that last part,” Draco lied, not wanting to admit watching Potter near to tears over almost killing Draco. “I heard your apology, though.”
Potter still looked startled but he sat back onto the bed, looking only a bit hesitant as he glanced over at Draco. “Oh, well, yeah, I just —”
“Did you mean it?” Draco quickly interrupted Potter’s babbling. Green eyes bore into him, sincere and open. Stupid Gryffindor.
“Er, well, yeah,” Potter said.
“Good, then I accept your apology,” Draco replied. “On one condition.”
The sincere green eyes narrowed, and darkened. “Condition? Wait. The only reason I cast that spell was because you tried to Crucio me,” Potter said, his voice defensive. “If you —”
“Trivialities, Potter,” Draco waved him off, ignoring Potter’s spluttering. “I was emotionally distressed at the time. I had no choice.”
“Yes, Potter, no choice but to defend my reputation as Slytherin Ice Prince after being found with a rather lacking appearance. Granted, I couldn’t have cast a capable Crucio, but you had no way of knowing that.” Potter’s expression had started to grow darker with every word, until that last part. Then he looked simply bemused.
“However, I will forgive you almost killing me due to a lack of foresight and knowledge of a terribly dark spell on the one condition.”
“Because I regularly anticipate running into my enemies who try to Crucio me…” came the soft mutter.
“You should, actually. That aside,” Draco continued. “I will forgive you if you agree to teach me how to become stronger.”
“Teach you?” Potter’s bemused expression didn’t change. “What do you mean, ‘become stronger’?”
“I mean,” Draco said, keeping his face passive, “I want you to teach me ways to become more powerful. Spells, trainings, the like.” Draco was still laying down, so he had to tilt his head a bit to look at Potter. Potter, who had his arms crossed and was biting down on his lower lip, tilted his head back toward Draco. He seemed to be considering.
“Why?” A valid question, one that Draco was prepared for.
“Because the Dark Lord gave me a mission, and if I fail he will kill my parents.”
A moment passed. When Draco looked at Potter, green eyes gazed hard at him. His stance didn’t move much but he did sit up straighter. “What kind of mission?”
“That I can’t tell you,” Draco replied. Seeing Potter’s face darken, he continued. “If I tell you, and the Dark Lord finds out that I betrayed him, he’ll… he will kill them.”
“What about Dumbledore?”
Draco had to work hard not to wince.
“I can’t –”
“Why not? If anyone can help your parents, it’s Dumbledore. Or what about Snape? Does he know?”
“Yes,” Draco admitted, still bristling at Severus’ earlier act of heroism.
“Then is he helping you?” Potter asked.
Draco shook his head. “I don’t want to talk about him.”
“Why not?” Potter sighed angrily. “He just saved your life right now. Yeah, I don’t like him all that much, but if he’s willing to help you –”
“I can’t trust anyone, Potter,” Draco finally spat. “Especially not Snape. Not him. Not right now.” Draco ached to run his hands through his hair, anything to calm his rattled nerves from Potter’s ability to rile him up so quickly. He settled for picking at the lint of his blanket.
Draco looked up to see Potter studying him. “Alright, so you want help. But you won’t go to Snape or Dumbledore. You just want to get stronger. So why me?”
Draco laughed shakily. “You said it yourself, Potter, your magic is so strong that it’s nearly uncontrollable. I need that kind of power if I want to survive, too.”
“So, you did hear everything,” Potter muttered. Draco rolled his eyes. “If you just want power then, why don’t you just ask your father, or your aunt?” That last part was spat out. Draco ignored it.
“Not that kind of power, Potter.”
“Then what –?”
“I already know that I can’t cast unforgivables, Potter. I’ve tried, and I failed each time. The intent…” Draco’s eyes met Potters. “I would like to be able to, only if it means the safety of myself and my parents in the end. But if I haven’t learned by now, I never will. So instead, I need to get more powerful at defensive magic like you are.”
“Like with Expelliarmus?”
Draco shook his head. “No, more complicated than that.” He took a deep breath, hands trembling with nervousness. “I-I need to know how to cast a Patronus. And resist Imperio.”
Potter stared at him in disbelief. “Why…? You’re joking, right?”
Draco glared. “I am completely serious, Potter. I need to learn to resist it.”
Potter looked like he wanted to ask, but then he shook his head. Potter sighed. “Alright, the Patronus spell, sure. That’s easy.” Draco scoffed. “Well, er, alright, not entirely. But the Imperius curse?”
“And the Cruciatus spell.”
“You want me to cast two Unforgivable curses on you? No way, I can’t do that.” Potter was shaking his head, his feet moving restlessly like he wanted to escape.
“Potter, I need to do this,” Draco said, almost close to pleading. He couldn’t help it. He was running out of options.
“Why not just go to Dumbledore?” Potter insisted again. "If you would just tell him about your mission, I’m sure the Order can help you switch sides.”
“I am not switching sides, Potter,” Draco nearly spat. “You’re asking me to betray everyone I love. That’s not going to happen. Besides, have you seen your precious headmaster lately? He doesn’t look… normal. And his hand…”
Potter’s eyes narrowed. “He’s fine, just tired.”
Draco let out a harsh laugh. “You’re a terrible liar, Potter.”
“Well he’s healthy enough to help you if you'd just go to him."
“Not happening, Potter,” Draco said, stubbornly refusing. He couldn’t. Going to Dumbledore would make it more real; it’d be one step closer to betraying the Dark Lord and getting his parents killed.
“Then no deal,” came the swift reply.
Draco started. He looked up as Potter’s green eyes looked hard at him. They looked almost pleading.
“I want to help, Malfoy. But how do I know that you’re telling the truth? How do I know that this isn’t a trap? That you won’t turn around and finish whatever mission you’re talking about?”
“You don’t,” Draco answered, shoulders slumping uncharacteristically. He scowled. Why did he even bother? “Never mind, Potter. Forget I even asked.” He closed his eyes and turned away, prepared to hear Potter walk out.
Draco should have known better than to ask the stupid Gryffindor for help. Granted, it was a large request in exchange for a mere pardon. He'd overestimated the boy’s heroic nature to save anything and everyone. Like he’d help a follower of the Dark Lord moments after almost killing him. What a bloody joke. Draco shut his eyes tighter, willing Potter, the Dark Lord, and everyone else to just disappear.
Draco jumped, making him wince at his tender aching muscles. “What?”
“Alright,” Potter repeated with a sigh. He was staring hard at Draco, hand brushing through his hair in agitation. “I’ll help you. You won’t tell me about this mission, and you refuse to talk to Snape or Dumbledore. Frankly, I think you’re stupid to ask me of this when you refuse everything else. But,” he continued, seeing Draco’s glower. “I know you wouldn’t ask me of this on a whim. Plus, I do owe you for nearly cutting you up back there.”
“You did cut me up,” he pointed out.
“Trivialities, Malfoy,” Potter shot back with an impish grin. Draco frowned. “Like I said before, though, teaching you the Patronus won’t be a problem. Teaching you how to resist the Unforgivables though, you do realize I would have to put you under the curses.”
“Yes, Potter,” Draco almost sneered at him.
Potter shook his head. “And you’re willing to trust me with that? I almost killed you already.”
“Which is exactly why I am trusting you with this, Potter,” Draco reasoned. “You’ve had your chance and you came back begging for forgiveness, instead.”
“I didn’t beg…”
“I’m trusting that you won’t lead me to my death or make me do something horribly embarrassing to the Malfoy name.”
“I could get in a lot of trouble if Dumbledore or Snape find out,” Potter said, warning in his voice.
“Please,” Draco sneered. “When has that ever stopped you from breaking the rules?”
Relenting on that, Potter stood up. “Alright, fine. But I draw the line at the Cruciatus curse.”
“No. I don’t even know how to resist that curse. I don’t think anyone can. I’m not about to curse you a hundred times and risk you going madder than you already are. I’ll teach you other defensive spells instead, but not that one. I’m already rethinking about casting the Imperius spell on you.”
“I’ve already told you, Potter, I trust you in that regard,” Draco mumbled, exhaustion finally seeping its way into his bones. He sighed tiredly. “So, do we have a deal?”
There was silence for a moment. “Yes, we have a deal.”
“Then I wholeheartedly forgive you for almost killing me with a dark spell that you knew nothing about,” Draco muttered, fatigue showing in his voice.
Potter chuckled next to him. “Thanks, Malfoy. I wish you’d talk to Dumbledore, still.”
Draco grunted, growing impatient as slumber beckoned to him. “Go away already, Potter. I’m trying to sleep.”
Potter let out one final chuckle, his footsteps already sounding farther away. “Goodnight, Malfoy.” A door opened, then closed.
But as Draco neared sleep, he smiled.