I know it might come as a surprise to have me use your first name. But maybe not as surprising as me writing this letter in general, I suppose.
I won't send it to you, and it's silly for me to say I won't send it to you when I'm the only one who's reading it anyways. I don't know why I said that. Or all of this.
Oh come on Draco, get it together...
Alright, anyways. Let me try this again.
It's been a lot of years. Since school, since the war. Since.. everything. And I see you twice a year at King's Cross Station, but that's it. Normally.
Last week I saw you in Diagon Alley, but I don't think you saw me. Which is fine. I didn't really want you to see me. In fact, being the terrible coward that I am, I stepped into Florian's and hoped like anything you were not there to get ice cream. I watched you walk down the street and go into Eeylops. And I stood there the whole time you were inside, waiting until I saw you come out again with an owl in a cage.
I couldn't help wondering if this owl was for someone or if it was for you. And if it was for you, was it the first one since Hedwig that you bought for yourself?
I imagine it wouldn't have been. You've been married for awhile, you have kids, I can't imagine that you haven't bought another owl. Unless maybe your wife bought them because you didn't want to.
I know it's strange to wonder something like that. And strange for me to know Hedwig's name, and just how attached to her you were. She stood out among the other owls. There were no other Snowy Owls at the school so everyone knew her. Including me.
Would it make you angry to know I was sad when I found out she'd died? And how she died. That was probably the worst part. I really did feel terrible. She didn't deserve that death. None of the people who died in the war deserved those deaths.
I didn't want that war. I've wanted to tell you that for years. Since school. Early in school. A lot earlier than you might think. I know what a prat I was. And I know that 'prat' is an exceptionally mild and almost even complimentary thing to say about me given just how terrible my behaviour and personality were. But it doesn't mean I wanted that war.
I know who my family was. Is. I know what they stood for. Except for my mother, and except for me. There's a lot you don't know about me, about my family. About what that lineage actually is. I didn't expect you to know then and I don't expect you to know now. But I wish you understood just how little say my mother, and subsequently me, had in anything that was happening.
My mother did as she was told. I did as I was told. That was how the family worked. And when my father went to Azkaban... Harry, I was actually thrilled. I know I didn't make it look like I was. But you know now what I was up against in the 6th year. I'm not using it as an excuse for my awful behaviour, but I want you to know that at the start? When my father was first sent to Azkaban, before anything else happened, I was HAPPY about it.
I thought that with him there maybe my mother and I could break away from things. I knew she wanted to and I wanted to more than anything. It hurt how badly I wanted out.
But instead of getting out, we got tied in even deeper than before.
I did not want to become a Death Eater. I either said yes to it, and yes to killing Dumbledore, or my mother would have died. He threatened to kill her right in front of me.
So I said yes.
But I didn't want it. I never wanted it.
Look... The thing I want to tell you isn't all of this. I don't want any sympathy. I don't even want you to understand me or to know I didn't mean any of the shitty terrible things I said and did. I just want you to know how sorry I am.
Because I am so incredibly sorry.
It follows me everywhere. It's in everything I do. The deaths of all those people. Your Uncle. Dumbledore. The people you knew, the ones you cared about. The ones you didn't know. I feel sorry and responsible for all of them.
I know, logically, that I didn't really have much to do with any of them. I take full responsibility for almost killing Katie Bell and Ron Weasley. Those two are on me, but I never, not once, actually killed anyone.
Neither did my mother.
It doesn't absolve us of all the bad things that happened. We were still involved with the wrong side.
Which is why I'm sorry.
Part of me wishes I'd been sent to Azkaban. I still don't know why I wasn't. Why my mother wasn't. But my father went back, and knowing he's there and will be until he dies is a comfort. It makes me feel like the right justice was served. Even if...
Well... Even if many days I feel like I should be there as well.
I wonder how you are. And I wondered even harder as I watched you walk away from Eeylops. I saw the look on your face as you carried the owl and it seemed.. Grim, maybe. Just a bit.
You nodded politely to everyone you saw because everyone spoke to you. I could see in your eyes even from that distance how much you wished everyone would stop. I can't imagine having to be THAT social every time you went out. And if it's at that level now, I imagine how terribly intrusive it would have been in the more recent years after the war.
I waited until you were well gone, only then realizing that Florian had been clearing his throat in my direction for several minutes.
I had to buy ice cream. In November. Just to stop him frowning at me.
Truthfully I don't even like ice cream in the middle of summer, let alone forcibly purchased ice cream in November.
And he watched me eat it. I sat there with ice cream I didn't want, eating it while Florian Fortescue watched me, knowing he would take it as a VERY personal affront if I didn't eat it all. And even though I don't personally care if I had to stop going there (aside from using it as a cover to hide from you), my son would be incredibly and unbelievably angry at me if we had to stop going.
He likes ice cream. But there... He is quite normal....
And not spoiled despite my VERY earnest attempts to do so. Can you imagine? A Malfoy who doesn't act like a spoiled brat? I know the very idea might border on impossible.
Anyways. I don't mean to ramble on about my son. Or complain about the ice cream, it was just kind of silly. I shouldn't even have been hiding from you. I could have just nodded at you as we passed, the same thing we do on the train platform twice a year.
I appreciate that, by the way. SO much. I have since the first time it happened. That was the first time I had seen you in years. First time you had seen me. I thought my heart was going to stop when I looked up and you were looking at me. And then you nodded to me. With that slight-but-not-quite smile that adults use to acknowledge you when they aren't sure how their greeting would be received. I hope I nodded back. I was so shocked I realized later that I wasn't sure if I had or not. I meant to.
I hope you're well. I hope your family is well. I hope you like your new owl, if it is for you.
I hope, more than anything, that you're happy. Of anyone in the whole world, you deserve to be happy now.
Draco sighed as he signed his name, sitting for a moment as the ink dried. He'd written dozens of these letters over the years. The first one just days after the war ended. He wanted to talk to Harry. He felt like he absolutely NEEDED to and would burst if he didn't. He actually fully intended to mail that first letter to him.
But he didn't. It sat first on his desk, sealed and waiting in the silent house that was occupied only by himself and his mother. Then he put it in a drawer.
Then he wrote another letter. And then another, and another and another. They added up over the years, he had a drawer full of them.
All of them sealed and all with Harry's name on the front as though he really did expect to send them.
It had become therapeutic. Each time he wrote, he said many of the same things. That he was sorry. That he really hadn't wanted the war. In some letters he went into more detail about his family dynamics and why things were the way they were. In others, like the one he'd just finished, he felt like he shouldn't bother Harry with too many details. So he skimmed over them lightly.
As he sealed this letter, writing Harry's name across the front in long curving script, he heard Astoria call to him.
He got up, leaving the letter on his desk instead of putting it in the drawer.
A few minutes later, a small House Elf entered his study to clean. While Dobby had belonged to Malfoy Manor and had been freed, Astoria had a House Elf of her own, and when they married that Elf came with her.
This House Elf was perfunctory and not nearly as capricious as Dobby. So when she saw the letter on Draco's desk, sealed and titled, she figured she would do Draco a favour.
She carried the letter outside and tied it deftly to the leg of an owl in the small Owlery on the Malfoy Manor property.
Then she went back inside to clean the study.
Draco, once returning to his study a few hours later, had long since forgotten that he hadn't put the letter in the drawer.
And thus the letter, which was never actually intended for Harry to read, was sailing through the skies towards him.