AUTHOR'S NOTE: J.K. Rowling is the sole owner of HP. I'm just playing around.
*I have never written a Dramione before, so this is just an idea I've been playing with. Let's see where it goes.*
*TW: references to rape; nothing graphic but please be cautious.*
Draco Malfoy was drowning.
Well, perhaps not literally but figuratively- he was about as fucked as one person could get and it was all the same to him.
His family's assets had been seized, his mother had been stripped of her wand and confined to the crumbling Manor, and his father had been sentenced to a life sentence in Azkaban… with Draco in a nice, comfy 6x8 cold stone cell just down the hall.
The Ministry hadn't cared that he was only 16 when he'd been forced- under threat of a seriously fucked up death- to the Mark. They didn't care that his mother had saved Harry Potter's life during the Final Battle. They didn't care that Draco had refused to identify the Golden Trio that fateful night at the Manor. And they certainly didn't care that Lucius Malfoy had actually been under the Imperious curse for many, many years. Oh sure, there was no denying that he was and always had been a hateful, spiteful, prejudiced bigot- but simpering after Voldemort during the second war had not been his choice. Nope, that was all thanks to some clever maneuvering by the Lestranges.
No one cared.
The only thing that mattered was the six little letters following his given name: M-a-l-f-o-y. That was all it took to condemn them. That was all it took for everyone in the entire Wizarding World to turn their backs on them, circumstanced be damned.
Draco curled into a tight ball on the hard floor (because apparently even prisoners weren't worthy of a fucking cot) and squeezed his eyes tightly against the wave of icy hopelessness that washed over him as they Dementors glided silently by for their evening check. His fingers spasmed against the cold and his stomach ached with hunger. If the guards ever fed them more than twice a week, it was a miracle. Though, he wouldn't exactly consider moldy bread and nearly rotten fruit to be worthy of such a divine distinction.
But this was his life now, so after an interminable amount of horror-filled hours, he simply accepted it. Accepted that he would probably never eat anything else until the day he died. Merlin only knew if anyone would ever, ever muster the compassion to let him out of Azkaban.
No, he rather thought not.
Even with them shut, Draco could feel the hot sting of tears behind his lids. How had everything gotten so spectacularly fucked? He pounded one fist against the stone, teeth ground together against the pathetic sobs that were always so close to the surface. His family had been targeted as prime hosts for Voldemort's return because of their wealth and status. How was that fair? His father, while still wary of Muggles and Muggleborns in general when he began schooling at Hogwarts had made it clear that he was not like the rest of the Pureblood aristocracy. In his own cold, aloof way, he had even tried to encourage Draco to branch out to make friends with those in other Houses… though perhaps not in quite so many words.
"Slytherin is all well and good, Draco," his father had said to the parchment he was reading at his regally carved desk, "but there are other Houses as well. Do not let archaic rivalries cloud your judgement. An open mind is always best in new situations."
Eleven year-old Draco had simply rolled his eyes and muttered, "Yes, father," before running off in search of his beloved crup, Onyx.
The memory made him want to vomit. Perhaps if he had paid more attention to his father's words, tried harder to follow his sage advice instead of becoming the epitomical Slytherin Prince and all that entailed…
A guard roughly shoved a bucket into the cell- full of disgusting murky water, no doubt- that caught on the stoned and spilled all over the floor and soaked his ragged prison garb, chilling him to the bone until his perfect teeth chattered. How long would it take until his pristine teeth were completely rotted abd black like his Aunt Bella's? How long until his unblemished skin turned that horrific gray color he'd seen on almost all of the other Death Eaters? How long until his muscles atrophied, leaving him nothing more than a ghost of his former self? How long until he finally, mercifully, lost his mind and succumbed to the madness this place was meant for?
Gods, he fucking hoped the madness would set in soon. Maybe then this hellhole would be halfway tolerable.
His stomach grumbled again but Draco knew, if the water had already been delivered, that there would be no food today. He was starving, but if there was one thing he'd learned during his imprisonment- it was that the guards were malicious and cruel but not stupid. They fed the prisoners just enough so they wouldn't die.
And the icing on the proverbial shit-cake that was his life? The fucking cells had been charmed so you couldn't kill yourself.
Bloody fucking masochists.
Draco curled in on himself a little tighter, desperate to keep in what little body heat was left.
This is it, he thought darkly to himself, not for the first time. This is my punishment for being such an insufferable shit my whole life. This is my punishment for every horrible thing I have ever said or done.
Not even his own fuzzy mind argued.
How long had he been in Azkaban? He couldn't honestly say. The prison was charmed to remain eternally dark, so he had no sense of time anymore. It had to be a few years- it felt like 50 had already passed but he wasn't old and decrepit yet so fuck if he knew. Death Eaters weren't allowed visitors, so he had no idea how his mother was faring on her own. He knew nothing about what was happening in the outside world. Surprisingly, he still had enough energy to sneer internally. Draco could just bet that wherever they were, the fucking 'Golden Trio' were living it up; drowning in galleons and recognition from their status as war heroes.
Of course, no one ever considered that there were victims, and heroes, on the opposing side as well.
Draco shivered violently and could actually feel his thoughts growing more and more sluggish. His heart was racing, nearly jumping from his chest, but he didn't care anymore. What did it matter? It certainly wouldn't be the first time he passed out from hunger or exhaustion in this godsforsaken place.
Like everything else, he didn't fight it. He just laid there, curled in a tiny ball against the icy chill of the prison, until he slipped quietly into unconsciousness.
"For the love of Merlin, move! I have a right to see my client and…"
Draco's entire body felt like a lead weight being dragged from the bottom of the sea. Who was shouting? He much preferred the abyss of unconsciousness, thank you very much.
"Why haven't you done something? Look at him! He looks as if he is knocking on Death's door!"
Oddly enough, that idea pleased him. Better than rotting away in that fucking cell until there was nothing left of him. Let him die, he wanted to say. Give him that, at least.
"Miss… I'm sorry, but it's hospital protocol to only provide the bare minimum of care to Azakaban prisoners, only enough that they can be returned to—"
"Over my dead body! This man deserve the same treatment as everyone else and if you refuse to provide it to him, I will take him elsewhere!"
"B-but Miss, St. Mungo's has an exclusive contract with Azkaban. Legally, he cannot be taken anywhere else…"
Gods, these women- for he could indeed discern that they were women- were annoying the fucking daylights out of him. Couldn't he even be allowed to die in peace? Why the fuck had anyone even bothered to bring him to St. Mungo's? Surely the Ministry wouldn't have given a shit if he had died. Quite frankly, the feeling was mutual. He just wanted it to be over already.
From all the cotton there seemed to be stuck in his ears, he heard a door swing open and click shut just as quickly.
"S-sir, I'm sorry but the prisoner isn't allowed visitors other than his attorney…"
The accompanying reply was in a deep, somewhat familiar voice, "Stun her."
No spell was uttered but he heard a hard thump as a body, presumably, hit the floor, "Gladly."
There was a shuffle of someone moving closer, "How is he?"
"How do you think he is, Zabini? Look at him."
Zabini? As in, Blaise? His best mate from school? What the bloody hell was he was doing in St. Mungo's? Didn't everyone hate him?
"They aren't caring for him properly," his friend sighed. "What's wrong with him?"
The other woman, his attorney apparently (and since when did he have one of those?), responded sharply, "Hypothermia, malnutrition, dehydration. Shall I continue?"
"They treat them no better than animals," she snarled. Her voice was familiar too, especially in anger, but he couldn't place it."I will see them all hang for this, you mark my words."
His friend chuckled, "Knowing you, I don't doubt it for a second. But before you can start plotting their demise, what are we going to do about him?"
"I'm going to heal him as best I can, of course."
There was a long moment of silence, "You know how to heal?"
"You don't spend your life growing up in war and an entire year on the run from Voldemort without learning how to heal people. So yes. I do."
Granger. Of course his attorney had to be fucking Granger. Didn't he owe her and her idiotic friends enough already? Fucking hell, he'd already had to watch her be tortured on his drawing room floor and watch from far, far away as she and everyone she knew fought in the Final Battle. How much more did the Gods intend to punish him?
Despite his internal war, Draco felt the familiar feel of magic washing over him and tending to his ailments.
"We're going to have to let them take him back to Azkaban, aren't we?"
Her voice was soft, "As much as I hate it, yes. We could easily smuggle him out of here and hide him somewhere where the Aurors would never find him but…"
"But we're trying to do this right."
Why? He wanted to scream. Why are you wasting your fucking time?
"I didn't think he'd look like this after only two years."
Her snarl was back, "Being treated like an animal will do that."
"At least tell me he won't have to suffer in there much longer. For fuck's sake, they won't even let any of us visit him!"
"Of course they won't. That is all part of the dehumanizing process."
"It... it's not because they think they're dangerous?"
She snorted, "Hardly. I've done my research- they employ every possible tactic in order to reduce their most desirable prisoners to mindless animals. It is very much on purpose."
Draco wanted to be angry, he wanted to shout at her to shut the hell up, to tell her that he was coping with Azkaban just fine, but he found the words wouldn't come. What did it matter if they were just going to send him back there? Let them think whatever about him; everyone else did. He would be dead soon anyway.
"Is he any better? Did your spells work?"
"Let me cast another diagnostic... hmmm, well it looks like I was able to restore the slight atrophy to his muscles and his dehydration is gone. I used a nutritional spell of my own devising on him and that seems to have abated the malnutrition a little as well. His temperature is already returning to normal, so that's good. I don't think there is anything else—"
"What? What is it?"
"I… I don't know. I've healed a lot of injuries and ailments before but I don't think I know what this is indicating. Here, come take a look."
He could feel someone heavy, his friend presumably, sag against the hospital bed, "Fucking Merlin. Could it get any worse?"
"You know what this reading means?"
"Yeah… yeah I do."
"Well? Are you going to enlighten me so I can heal him?"
Blaise's voice was low and rough, "I would assume that would be something you'd see in a victim of sexual assault."
"He… he was raped?"
"More than once, if that reading is accurate."
Draco's muscles stiffened involuntarily. No one was supposed to know about that, especially not his friends and especially not her. The starvation, the beatings, the verbal abuse- all of it was fine but not that. That was one burden he fully intended to bear on his own. Not that he had been all that surprised when it had happened, mind you. Not looking like he did in a prison full of guards that sometimes seemed worse than the prisoners.
But it was still humiliating and now they knew.
"And going by his reaction just now, I'd wager that even if he can't move, he can hear us."
Another weight leaned against the other side of his bed, her voice shaky, "Is he right? Can you hear me, Draco?"
"Fuck… off… Granger…" He managed through clenched teeth, though no other part of him even so much as twitched. His eyes remained firmly shut. He was still too exhausted to open them.
Blaise chuckled somewhat sadly, "Yep, that's him."
She leaned a little closer and he smelled a peculiar mix of roses and apples, "I'm working as hard as I can to get you and your father out of there, Draco. I'm sorry it's taking so long but I'm trying to do it legally so your family won't have to hide for the rest of your lives."
"M-mother…" Draco ground out.
"She's fine. I keep her updated on my progress with you and your father's case almost every day. I won't tell her about today… I don't want to upset her so please don't worry about that."
"Drake," Blaise cut in, "we are trying so hard to get you out, man. Hermione managed to get a hearing scheduled for next week. We just need you to hold on a little longer."
Draco felt the wash of Granger's magic against his final, mortifying injury and lost the will to answer. He didn't care. It didn't matter. They'd never let him out. Never. Never, never, never. He was going to be abused by those guards, raped and starved until near death, until he was old and gray. Well, if he made it that far anyway.
A small hand touched his arm and he involuntarily flinched and the hand fell away, "I don't want you to go back there. I don't want you to suffer like that anymore but… we just… we don't have a choice. Not if you truly want to have a chance."
"She's right, Drake. Merlin knows sending you back to that fucking cesspit makes me want to vomit, but we already have the hearing scheduled. 5 days. Can you make it 5 more days?"
There was nothing left in him to answer.
"Draco, please," Granger pleaded, her voice oddly thick. "Please. 5 more days. 5 more days and I swear to you, I won't ever let them send you back there again. I'll make an Unbreakable Vow if that's what it takes for you to believe me."
"Hermione… hey, it's okay. Here."
She sniffed, "How can we do this, Blaise? How can we send him back there?"
Why was Granger crying over him? Such a bloody fucking Gryffindor. Always worrying about things, people, that didn't want or need it.
Something in the back of his mind niggled: but doesn't it feel nice to know someone cares?
No, he sternly told himself, even at the slight tightness in his chest. No it did not feel nice. He did not like feeling pitied. He did not like having his pride battered and bruised, over and over and fucking over again by the same girl who had bested him for years. What next, she'd save his life and free him from Azkaban? Gods, that was all he needed- for her to have one more gods damned thing to hold over his head…
Even though she never had.
"We don't have a choice in this, Hermione. You know we don't. He has to go back. He's made it this long, we just need him to hold out for 5 more days. It took 2 years to get the Ministry to agree to this, even with everything you've done for the Wizarding World. We can't fuck it up now. We can't."
Her words were slightly garbled, "They're killing him, Blaise. How can we just—"
"I know. And I know you care for… I mean, I get it. But we are so close, Hermione. In 5 days, you will win, and Draco and his father will be free and then…"
And then what? Even if he and his father were, miraculously, let go, what did he have to return to? A crumbling manor, depressed mother, possibly insane father, and empty vaults? Who would allow him to take his NEWTs? Even so, who would hire him? Who would do business with him? No one. There was nothing left for him outside the walls of Azkaban anymore.
It was insanely difficult to speak, but he forced the words from behind his teeth, "S-stop… doesn't matter…"
"Gods damn it, Draco Malfoy!" Blaise snarled. "You don't get to give up! Hermione, Harry, and I have been working our asses off to get you out of there so I'd appreciate it if you'd at least pretend to give a shit!"
"No! No, he doesn't get to just lay down and die. You've run yourself ragged over this, Harry has driven himself to the brink, and I'm just about there myself. We've restored the fucking Manor, we've cared for his fucking mother, and we've secured his fucking money. He doesn't get to just give up when we are so gods damned close to this nightmare being over!"
What? They… they had done all of that for him? Without even knowing if they'd be successful in freeing him? Granger, Blaise, and Potter? What the fuck had happened in the past 2 years? What the hell had he missed?
"W-why…?" Draco rasped, still unable to open his eyes or move on his own.
"Because we care about you, you fucking dick!"
"Blaise, really. That's enough. I think he understands."
They cared? Why? He had been nothing but horrid to Granger her entire life. In fact, Draco couldn't even recall ever saying a single nice thing to or about her. Even when she was being tortured 6 feet away from him, all he did was avert his gaze and barely stifle his nausea. And Potter… he couldn't possibly fathom why he was helping. Was it because he refused to identify them that day at the Manor? More fool him then, because he only did it out of fear.
Blaise moved off the bed, shuffling around something, "Our time is almost up and the guards will be back soon. I'm going to Obliviate the Healer and then Rennervate her. You have three more minutes, Hermione. I'll meet you in your office tomorrow to make sure we have everything we need." There was a pause before he spoke again. "Hang on for us, Drake. Please."
And the door somewhere to his left opened and clicked shut again.
Her soft voice came from the side of his bed, "I never should have let them take you there. When you were arrested… I wasn't… I wasn't certified yet. I still had another 6 months of my legal studies before I would be allowed to be in front of the Wizengamot but…" She shuffled closer. "Please believe if I had known… if I had known what Azkaban was really like, I would have said fuck the formalities and made a thousand illegal portkeys for you. I would have sent you and your parents to the ends of the Earth before I let them take you there. I am so sorry, Draco. I really am. Please forgive my naivety. I didn't know."
His chest tightened further. Who was this girl? The Granger he remembered, the Granger he grew up, would never have fought so hard for him. Not after the horrible history they shared. Why was she so different? Why did she sound like she actually gave a shit? It didn't make sense.
"I know you have had to endure things I cannot even imagine behind those bars, but I can promise you that they won't get away with it. Even if I have to hunt down each of those fucking barbarians myself, they will answer for what they've done to you. The Kiss will look tame compared to what I have in mind for them."
Draco could scarcely believe what he was hearing. He was hearing it, right? He wasn't just suffering from hallucinations back in his dank, depressing cell? No… no he was most certainly hearing her correctly. Perhaps it was from being so exhausted or hungry or the beginnings of madness, but he couldn't force his thoughts to make sense of it all. Nothing fit. Granger had never been a particularly violent person, but now she was threatening painful death on those who had hurt him. What the hell was going on?
"Granger…" He muttered from under the fog. "Why…?"
There was another long moment of silence, "You mean, you really didn't know? I thought… I thought maybe you could feel it."
Feel it? Feel what? He somehow managed a tiny shake of his head.
"After the war, some time after you were arrested, the Ministry went absolutely crazy. The birthrate was plummeting and they knew that a marriage law would spell riots so they… they turned to more underhanded methods that they hoped would encourage the birth rate."
His stomach roiled uncomfortably.
"They… they turned to ancient, almost extinct magic instead. There are some pretty skilled potioneers working for the Ministry and they devised a potion that was created with the intention of awakening something that was long thought to be a myth… but turned out to be anything but, surprisingly."
Were there anything in his stomach, he would have vomited all over the bed.
"The potion awakened the part of our magic that binds us to our soulmate."
Draco could feel his fingers curl into fists.
"And then, they put bottle after bottle of the potion in the water supply so it would get to all of us one way or another."
The words felt like acid on his tongue, "N-no… no…"
He could feel that she sagged, "I know I would have never been your choice and that in any other circumstances you would have chosen literally anyone else but… you… you're my soulmate."
His thought were in chaos, his heart constricting painfully and he was edging ever closer to losing his fucking shit. 2 years in Azkaban, resigned to die there, only to find out that in 5 days he might be released… and that Hermione bleeding-heart fucking Granger was his soulmate. Fate sure was a fickle, vindictive bitch.
"I was already planning to work on your case before I found out, so please don't think this was all out of some misguided attempt at winning your heart. I know you h-hate me…" She stumbled a little. "I was going to get you out of that hellhole anyway because you and your family don't deserve this but the whole soulmate thing kind of kicked my ass into overdrive. I can… I can feel how sad you are, how hopeless. And it… it eats away at me more and more every day. I'm trying so hard to get you out, Draco. I am. But if for some reason I don't win on Tuesday, I still won't let them take you back there. I already have a secure safehouse and an illegal portkey ready in case the worst should happen."
"N-no…" He repeated, a little stronger. "No, no…"
"I know it's a lot to take in, but once your freed, we will get you healthy again and—"
"No!" Draco shouted with shocking force, pounding his fists against the bed. "No! No, no! I'm tired of having my fucking choices taken from me! No! NO!"
Her voice was very quiet, "I would never force you into anything, Draco. I would never demand anything from you after all you've been through. Once you're cleared of all charges- because you will be cleared of them all- you are more the welcome to never see me again if that's your wish. The Ministry wasn't smart enough to using binding magic in their potion so there is nothing that binds you to me. You can… you can date who you want and marry who you want. It doesn't have to mean anything if you don't want it to; they simply thought if people were with the person who completes them, that things might get better. I can understand the logic… though I don't agree with the way they went about it."
He didn't say anything to that. How could he? His entire tiny existence had been turned on its head in the last few minutes and now he wasn't even sure which way was up. What the bloody fuck was he supposed to do now?
"The guards are coming to take you back to Azkaban…"
At that, his hand shot and long, pale fingers wrapped around her wrist in desperation. He even whimpered a little, though he would vehemently deny it. The truth was… he didn't want to go back. He knew what awaited him back in that tiny little 6x8 cell and he was terrified that he would actually be trapped there for the rest of his life. As abhorrent as the idea of a soulmate sounded- and Granger, no less- he still didn't want to go back to what he was certain had been designed to be his own personal hell.
What if she didn't keep her word? What if she abandoned him there?
"I'm so sorry," she choked, hand resting over his fingers wrapped around her wrist. "It makes me sick but I have to let you go back. Please, just stick it out for 5 more days and then this will all be over. Please."
He did not let go.
"Fuck, I can feel your panic. Draco, I know you're scared. I know. But there's nothing I can do until Tuesday. Please be strong, if not for yourself then for your mother. She is so worried about you and I promised her I'd bring you home. Make it until Tuesday and then you never have to see me again, okay? Please. Please."
The door burst open, banging against the wall behind it, "The Healer said he's stable. Time to take him back to his cell. Step away from the prisoner, Miss."
She very reluctantly let go of his hand and moved from the bed, "Of course, mister…?"
"Tibbs," the guard answered gruffly and Draco involuntarily stiffened. Oh yes, he knew this man.
"Mister Tibbs. Right. And do you oversee Mister Malfoy often?"
There was a moment of hesitation, "I am the primary, yes Miss. Why do you ask?"
"Oh no reason. Just curious as to who supervises him is all. I want to make sure my client is being treated as well as can be under the circumstances."
"Oh, er, of course. We treat all the prisoners with respect, Miss."
"Good. That's good. Because if you didn't, I certainly wouldn't to be on the receiving end of my wand- legalities be damned. Do you understand what I'm saying to you, Mister Tibbs?"
"Do you understand that if Mister Malfoy comes under any more harm, that I will make the Cruciatus seem tame in comparison? Do you understand that if he is harmed in any way whatsoever before his trial on Tuesday that I will never stop until I've hunted you down? Do you understand that Narcissa Malfoy and Lucius Malfoy are much more creative with pain than I could ever hope to be? Do you understand these things, Mister Tibbs?"
The guard cleared his throat, "I understand, Miss."
"Lovely. Then I will be seeing you again in a few days. And do expect that even if Mister Malfoy for some reason refuses to tell me how you have behaved, I have my ways of finding out. Good day, Mister Tibbs."
The door clicked shut.
Draco did not miss that the tightness in his chest had returned and that the guard, who had already assaulted him in every way imaginable, was handling him with the utmost respect and care.
Perhaps Granger didn't intend to leave him to rot after all.
5 days. His trial would be in 5 days.
He could make it that long.
Somewhere in the back of his mind came an unfamiliar wave of sadness that was almost crushing in its intensity… and it wasn't his. He knew the feel of his own all too well.
Was it hers? Was this some sort of 'soulmate connection'?
Draco pushed it away- one thing at a time.