I’m writing to apologise for my cruelty and arrogance throughout Hogwarts, as well as for my reprehensible actions during the war.
I do not write because I expect forgiveness. Rather, I thought you deserved an apology.
Harry was going to write back, until he learnt that Malfoy had written word-for-word the same letter to both Ron and Hermione.
He threw out Malfoy’s letter and forgot about it.
The first time Harry saw Draco Malfoy after the trials was at Zacharias Smith’s bizarre country manor house party.
It was nine months after the war, and everyone was a bit on edge. Smith, agent of chaos, had invited their entire year group, and the Slytherins came, the bastards.
Everyone was a bit weird that year, anyway. By ten p.m. Neville was getting head from Parvati Patil in the kitchen in front of a cheering crowd. Harry retreated to the empty library and wondered whether he was a washed-up old man.
“Oh!” said Draco Malfoy, upon opening the door. “It’s Harry Potter!”
His eyes were so dilated they were almost black, his face was pale and thin, his cheeks pink. He floated gracefully into the room, half dancing, with a strange, open expression.
“Malfoy,” said Harry cautiously. He was trying this new thing where he didn’t hate people. It wasn’t going well. He hated everyone.
Malfoy approached, still looking dreamy and beautiful, like some sort of woodland elf.
“I wanted to explore,” he said. “I can’t believe you’re here.” He made a gentle laughing sound. “You killed the Dark Lord.” He did the strange laugh again. It didn’t sound right, as if he had temporarily forgotten how to do it. “You saved the world. Can I massage your hand?”
“You’re high,” said Harry.
Malfoy looked surprised.
“Yes,” he said. “Can I tell you something?”
“What are you on?”
“MDMA,” said Malfoy. “Lots and lots. I like your hair. Can I touch it?”
Harry shook his head and sat cross-legged on the long wooden table. Malfoy exclaimed.
“Sitting! Yes! What an excellent idea—ha, ha,” (the same laugh again, where he seemed to say the words rather than do the deed). “Isn’t this strange? Can I touch your hair? You tried to kill me.”
“Don’t touch me.”
Malfoy’s eyes widened. He was utterly, bewitchingly lovely, and his long tapered fingers went to his smooth cheeks.
“I’m annoying you,” he said, sounding grief-struck. “Should I go?”
“No,” said Harry. “I like you better, on MDMA. Maybe you’ll tell me all your secrets.”
Malfoy shook his head, smiled.
“Ha, ha. I am not to be taken advantage of!”
“What did you want to tell me?”
Malfoy had started massaging his own calf and seemed quite distracted.
“Are you sure you don’t want a massage? It feels so good.”
“I’m sure,” said Harry. “You said, ‘Can I tell you something?’”
Malfoy’s hands went to his chest, his face open and sincere.
“I don’t know if I should tell you. It’s a secret.”
“Do you still hate me?” asked Malfoy.
“No,” said Harry. “At least. Not intellectually.”
“Oh,” said Malfoy sadly. “But emotionally.” His fingers worked gently at the collar of his shirt. “A lot of people hate me. They send letters.” He looked up. “It scarred.”
“Sectumsempra. It scarred.”
This was turning out to be a truly nightmarish party.
“Snape said it wouldn’t,” said Harry.
“Want to see?”
“I don’t want you to take your clothes off, no,” said Harry, although he was keenly aware that this was a lie. But he hadn’t even told Ron that he might be bi, so he certainly wasn’t going to risk Draco fucking Malfoy finding out.
Malfoy shook his head.
“I don’t have to— look—”
He took out his wand and cast a quick Finite Incantatum.
Scars gashed across his face. Painful, angry, red scars, one running across his eye, warping his eyebrow—it seemed a miracle that his eye itself had survived— the other running down the side of his cheek.
He looked like a slashed painting.
Malfoy was watching Harry’s reaction closely.
“I know,” said Malfoy, when Harry couldn’t speak. “It’s ugly.” He cast the glamour spell to cover them up, so quickly and easily that Harry knew he must cast it every day.
“You—you’ve been hiding it, all this time?” asked Harry.
Malfoy laughed (ha, ha,) and nodded.
“It’s ugly,” he said again. His eyes grew childishly sad. “Ugly.”
“Can I touch your hair?”
“Okay,” said Harry, but as Malfoy reached forward, the door opened.
“Draco!” said Dean Thomas.
“Dean!” cried Malfoy in delight. He jumped from the table, and took a running leap into Dean’s arms, wrapping his long, thin legs around Dean’s torso.
“I was looking for you,” said Dean, in a similarly daydreamy voice.
“I just had a deep, meaningful chat with Harry Potter,” said Malfoy.
“That’s amazing,” said Dean. Harry watched on, feeling rather dazed. Dean hoisted Draco up on his hips. “Remember where we were this time last year?”
Draco nodded. His eyes were too big for his face.
“I think about it all the time,” he said. “All day, all night, all day, all night…”
“Me, too,” said Dean. “Do you want some gum?”
“No thank you. Oh!” Malfoy jumped down from Dean. (You have a nice body, he told Dean. You do, too, said Dean.) He turned to Harry. “I didn’t say thank you.”
“That’s fine,” said Harry hastily. He did not particularly want to prolong time spent with this intense, elfish version of Draco Malfoy. He was still reeling from the shock of having disfigured him.
“I would be in Azkaban now,” said Malfoy.
“Can you imagine?” asked Dean. Malfoy shut his eyes and shook his head.
“Yes,” he said. “It will make me sad, I don’t want to be sad.”
“Do you want to kiss me?” asked Dean.
“Okay,” said Malfoy, cheering right up.
“I’m going to check on Ron and Hermione,” said Harry decisively, and left the room. Not before hearing Malfoy sigh contentedly into Dean’s mouth, however, or Dean saying “your lips are so soft…”
I had no idea my curse had—
Harry screwed up the parchment and threw it away.
If I had known about your face—
Not that it makes it any better, but the scars aren’t actually ugly—
Sorry about cutting up your face—
Obviously I didn’t mean to fucking disfigure you, I had no idea, is there anything I can—
Can we speak in person? The coffee shop near the Ministry, tomorrow evening at 6?
Malfoy didn’t answer.
Not sure if you got my last letter, was hoping we could have a chat. It’s about what you told me at Smith’s party.
When that, too, provoked no response, Harry decided there was no point in putting it off any longer. He had to apologise, more for himself than for Malfoy. He was going mad, thinking about Malfoy saying “ugly” and glamouring his scars.
I can’t tell you how sorry I am about the Sectumsempra. I was sorry anyway, even before I knew about the scarring. I had no idea what that spell meant and I was terrified when I saw what it did to you. I wish I could undo it. If there’s anything I can do to help with medical bills or whatever, please let me know.
That very afternoon, Malfoy wrote back.
Thank you for your apology.
It was another year before Harry saw Malfoy again. He heard about him before then, however.
“…and then Malfoy showed up dressed as a Russian Czar and started knighting everybody, it was wicked!” said Ron.
“He is fun at a party,” said Hermione.
“He’s Malfoy,” said Harry.
“Why don’t you come out with us sometime?” said Ron, as if Harry hadn’t spoken. “You never get out.”
“I get out,” said Harry.
“Going to work doesn’t count,” said Ron.
“I like my work.”
“I’m sure Harry will start socialising when he’s ready, Ron,” said Hermione.
“I’m socialising! I socialise all the time!”
“Eating bagels at our flat every other Tuesday isn’t a social life, mate,” said Ron.
“Neither is getting plastered with Draco Malfoy every weekend,” said Harry, and Ron blushed. He had been drinking a lot. So had Hermione. So had most people, it felt like.
Finally, Harry agreed to go to a house party with Ron and Hermione.
Terry Boot lay naked on the dining room table. Eloise Midgen snorted coke off his stomach.
Everyone’s gone mad, thought Harry. Completely fucking mad.
There was a large balcony. He sat down on a stoop, tucked out of sight, and decided to wait twenty minutes before leaving, so that Ron wouldn’t berate him the next day.
Five minutes later, Draco Malfoy floated slenderly onto the balcony, clutching Michael Corner’s hand.
“You’re so hot,” said Michael. “I love fucking you.”
Harry made a small, agonised sound, but neither of them seemed to notice.
“Look, stars,” said Malfoy. He was on MDMA again; Harry could tell from the dreamy quality to his voice.
“What did you want to tell me?” asked Michael, starting to massage Draco’s hand. Michael was clearly off his face as well.
“I love you,” said Malfoy.
Harry put his head in hands and sighed, resigned to his fate.
Also, he was kind of fascinated.
“You’ve never said that before,” said Michael.
“I think it, all the time,” said Malfoy.
“How come you’ve never said?”
“Talking,” said Malfoy, as if that was explanation enough.
“But you will talk, someday,” said Michael. “About the nightmares.”
“Ha, ha,” laughed Malfoy. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
They kissed. Harry wanted to die.
“Do you want to talk now?” asked Michael. “Would that be easier?”
Malfoy shook his head.
“It will make me sad,” he said. “I don’t want to be sad.”
“But sometimes you have to be,” said Michael.
“No, no, no,” said Draco. “Not me, not ever, ha ha!”
“You worry me,” said Michael.
“Shhhhh,” said Draco. “We should go dance.”
“Okay,” said Michael readily, and they vacated the balcony.
“Even Draco Malfoy’s found love,” complained Harry.
“Well, no offence, mate, but he puts himself out there, you know?” said Ron. It was the second Tuesday of the month. They were eating bagels.
“If you call dropping Molly five times a week ‘putting yourself out there’, then yeah, he does.”
“I think he varies his drug use, actually,” said Hermione. “Although he does like his coke.”
“Why do you know so much about Draco Malfoy’s drug habits?”
“We just see him a lot, Harry.”
“More than we see you, to be honest,” said Ron. “You know he comes to Neville’s movie nights?”
“You’re all fucked in the head. All of you. Eloise Midgen, too.”
“We’re not suggesting you turn into a party animal, Harry,” said Hermione. “But we go to the pub on Fridays. Couldn’t you come to the pub?”
“I go over my case notes on Fridays,” said Harry.
Hermione tactfully changed the subject.