Standard disclaimers for Harry Potter apply. In other words, I own absolutely nothing other than my odd imagination; this wonderful world with wonderful characters is the property of Ms. J. K. Rowling, etc. etc. I'm just…trying something, which is something I do rather too well and too often. The title was inspired by "October Project's" song of the same name; lovely band, lovely song. As a matter of fact, a lot of "October Project's" music makes me think of "HP"….
Warnings: An AU undertaking from the end of "Year Four: The Goblet of Fire"---wait a minute, all fics after that point are AU; still three more books to come, after all. All sorts of warnings are needed, such as language (though to some people this is nothing more than everyday vocabulary ^_^…), dark themes (blood, death, torture, etc…your standard "HP" fare, really), mature content (kissing, cuddling, mention of sex, etc…), bits of slash and non-slash, and an author with way too much creativity on her hands.
P.S. If you recognise most of the dialogue from this prologue, don't be surprised: it's taken from "TGoF" directly.
Revised: June 12
It was either going to be the bravest or the stupidest thing he'd ever done in his life---at the moment, he wasn't sure which. It was probably a bit of both, actually, a fact that made him scowl fiercely at his own hands, which were knotted together in his lap.
Too bad he wasn't in Gryffindor, he thought for a very brief moment; then both adjectives would have fit him and this moment perfectly, without equivocation.
But something drastic needed to be done, something dramatic, over-the-top, and completely out of character. He'd decided that during the Leaving Feast, when his whole world had been turned topsy-turvy in a moment of almost nauseating vertigo. He had spent the last four years trying everything he could think of, and nothing had worked---not curses, not flagrant attempt at expulsion, not cruel and cutting words, not Dementors, not attacking his closest friends…not attacking his dead parents… No, the boy just had to be a hero, despite all the protestations he made otherwise. Despite all of Draco's attempts to keep it from being so, the stupid, stupid boy had nearly met the fate Voldemort had tried to bring about fourteen years ago.
Harry Potter had almost died again.
More frightening than that, though, was Dumbledore's surprise: An open admission that the Dark Lord had been resurrected, and that he had been the one who had killed the Hufflepuff sixth year, Cedric Diggory. The news had come like a comet, crashing hard without warning and leaving a deep crater in his soul. All of his previous plans, his four years worth of work to prevent such a thing from happening in the first place---it all seemed so pointless, so fruitless now.
What was left for him, then? What else could he possibly do to frighten the boy away? It wasn't as though his attempts in the last four years had been half-hearted; he'd been trying very seriously to get the boy expelled or make him leave of his own volition!
His current plan, he realised after reflection, was spontaneous, a last-ditch effort at best, and he had no real reason to think that it would work. But he had to at least try, or he'd really feel as though the last four years had been for nothing. And what could it hurt, really? The Circe and Morgan alone knew that he'd tried every other nasty trick he could think of, all to little or no effect.
Surprisingly, it hadn't taken much prodding on his part to get Goyle and Crabbe to go along with his plan. Lately, trying to get anything out of his brute squad had been like trying to listen to veela song without becoming entranced. Well, he could accomplish that just fine, but everyone else---
Oh, bother, he thought with a scowl. So it was a ruddy awful analogy, and what purpose did thinking on analogies serve anyway? Getting Crabbe and Goyle to do anything of late was as hard as jerking Potter's chain and getting a reaction other than a blank stare. There, that was a bit better---though he really wished his mind would quit searching for potentially cliché analogies.
Of course, they both thought that his intentions were malicious, which was probably why they had deigned to stir from their doldrums and return to the world of socialisation. Causing pain and suffering---whether emotional or physical, though the latter came much easier to them---seemed to be their favourite pastime of late.
Well, perhaps they were, a bit---his intentions being malicious, that is. He certainly could attempt to be more tactful in his actions than he planned, but that would ruin their purpose. He wanted to hurt the boy, wanted to make his eyes dance with the flames of anger and fear, wanted to make them spit the serpentic venom that he was certain lay beneath the slowly tarnishing exterior of the wizarding world's Boy Saviour.
Not that making the emerald eyes go dark would be hard. Since that incident at the end of the Triwizard Tournament, there hadn't been a moment that a black haze hadn't clouded the ebon-haired boy's gaze. Truly it was frightening, given how much life and passion and mischief used to dance there.
Maybe, at least, fury would clear them for a bit. Anything would certainly be an improvement over the blank slates currently watching the world.
He sighed, untangling his hands and pillowing his chin on his fist as he thought his plan through one last time. As far as plans went, it was rather…boring, rather cut and dry. And rather stupid, to boot. Not that he was usually one to come up with elaborate plans---if asked, he was the first to admit that his creativity levels weren't particularly high---but this was rather more fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants than even he was used to.
"So, when're we gonna do it, Draco?"
Draco cast a quelling look on Goyle, lips pursed together. "When I say we will, Goyle. Now, please, give me a moment to think. I realise this is a foreign concept in some areas for you, but some of us try to do it more than once a day."
Goyle's face darkened at Draco's words and tone, but the bulky boy turned away to stare out the window without another word.
His father would probably slap him silly when he found out what Draco had done. True, the man hadn't caught on completely in four years, but there was always a first time. He supposed, then, than he would just have to take steps to insure that his father would have as little reason as possible to think that Draco had provoked the reactions of his fellow students on purpose.
Gods above, he really was being quite stupid.
"You do realise that we're only doing this because I want to see Potter squirm, correct?"
Goyle nodded solemnly, while Crabbe offered up a hesitant smile. "Yeah. He's been kind of boring, lately."
Of course he has, you twit! He watched a student die---die!---and he watched the Dark Lord be reborn! You try being all bubbly and cheerful and Gryffindor goody-goody after that. Instead of saying these words aloud, he replied, "Which is why I want to do this. It's no fun to pick on the Hufflepuffs; they either burst into tears or threaten to sic the Ravenclaws on us. Though I suppose it would be rather funny to watch the Ravenclaws try to take us on with books and quills and rolls of parchment. No, it's much more fun to provoke the Gryffindors."
Yes, it was fun, but lately… What was there that was "fun," of late? Was he the only one that didn't find the unfolding series of events reassuring in the least? Was he the only one that was worried about his life, his family, the ones he had deemed his charges to protect?
Did they think that Voldemort was going to turn the other cheek and invite them all to tea?!
He drew in a sharp breath, forcing himself to relax. It wouldn't do for him to get all worked up, not yet. Save the hysterics for the moment that he would need them.
"I think that we should go."
Crabbe's voice was quiet, and it startled Draco, though he was careful not to let it show.
"Oh, you do, do you?" Draco arched an eyebrow, turning to glare at the boy. "And why do you say that?"
Crabbe blinked, chewing on his bottom lip, hazel eyes distant behind the lenses of his glasses. "Because…because it feels right."
A year ago, Draco would have made a snide comment for such an inane reply, but he knew better than to do so, now. Crabbe occasionally said things that, though they sounded incredibly dim, were quite correct to follow. If Crabbe said that the time was now, then the time was now.
Even with Crabbe's assurances though, it was still very, very stupid to being doing this.
"All right, then, let's go."
They rose, pushing aside the compartment door and heading towards the back of the Hogwarts' Express. He almost smirked as he passed an open door, glancing inside to find the Weasley twins and their sister, as well as Neville Longbottom, Dean Thomas, and Seamus Finnigan. Finnigan sneered at him and managed to flip him the bird before Dean was able to grab the feisty Irish boy and pin him to the seat, attempting to stave off anything worse.
"Thank you for putting your dog on a leash, Thomas," he drawled, continuing on his way, ignoring the snarled epitaphs that trailed after them.
The Gryffindor Trio was extremely predictable: they always chose the compartment that was the last before the baggage cars. And after seeing who all was in the open compartment, he surmised that it was the Trio alone that was inside. Motioning to Crabbe and Goyle, he leaned forward.
He pressed his ear to the door with a slight grimace; it certainly wasn't the cleverest thing he'd ever done, eavesdropping in such a way, but now wasn't the time to be clever.
Now was the time to be cruel.
Don't forget stupid, his mind pointed out once again. Draco rolled his eyes. Yes, now was the time to be cruel and stupid---and hope that he survived both.
"…saw Malfoy under that tree…."
Ah, the Weasel. Being as clever as he ever was, Draco supposed. The boy seemed intelligent enough, but more often than not, his phenomenal temper got in the way of reasonable thinking.
"He was talking to her in his hand."
And Granger, of course. The girl really was more intelligent that he verbally gave her credit for; then again, usually when he was doling out credit aloud, he tended to use his father's directives rather than his own. A bad and nasty habit, that; he made a mental note in the very back of his brain to work on breaking it this summer.
"He knew, of course. That's how she's been getting all those nice little interviews with the Slytherins. They wouldn't care than she was doing something illegal, as long as they were giving her horrible stuff about us and Hagrid."
Well, she had it partially correct---at least in Draco's case. He hadn't exactly been trying to protect the reporter bitch; he'd even gone so far as to give the Gryffindor Trio plenty of hints as to Skeeter's Animagus identity. Really, it wasn't his fault that they'd been so dense about it.
"I've told her I'll let her out when we get back to London. I've put an Unbreakable Charm on the jar, you see, so she can't transform. And I've told her she's to keep her quill to herself for a whole year. See if she can't break the habit of writing horrible lies about people."
Draco gave Hermione a moment to gloat---and a moment for himself to think about her words. He decided at last that the truth, as was usually the case, was in the eye of the beholder. Though the things the Slytherins had said---that he had said---were, to most, lies, there were also bits of truth laced through it all.
Again, it wasn't his fault that they'd been so dense about finding the lone grain of truth in the sands of deception.
However, he judged the moment to be right, and he slid back the compartment door to make his grand entrance.
"Very clever, Granger."
He smirked at the surprised looking group, feeling Goyle and Crabbe move to stand directly behind him. He knew that he wasn't very physically intimidating, but Crabbe and Goyle more than made up for him in that aspect.
"So," he said, drawling the word as he moved into the compartment and looked at each of them in turn. "You caught some pathetic reporter, and Potter's Dumbledore's favourite boy again. Big deal."
He narrowed his eyes, twisting his lips into a slightly more menacing, more calculated expression. "Trying not to think about it, are we?" He spoke softly, glancing at Hermione, then Ron, and, at last, Harry. "Trying to pretend it hasn't happened?"
He could feel the tension dancing in the air, currents that were both tangible and intangible. Rising magic laced the compartment, flavouring the atmosphere to the point where Draco could almost taste it, spicy like Thai food. He stared at Harry, watching the green eyes flare from dimmed forest-green depths to something bordering brilliant malachite. He noted the difference in the boy, wrought by the hardships of the last month and year; typically, when provoked, Harry's magic levels dropped. Currently, they were rising to the point where Draco was actually feeling fear.
"Get out," said the Boy Who Lived.
Such command was in his voice, in his expression, such unchecked loathing and hatred and malice colouring both, that Draco almost complied, despite his plan. No, he decided, firmly checking his emotions and his courage. No, I will go through with this---just like I've gone through bloody everything else.
"You've picked the losing side, Potter! I warned you! I told you you ought to choose your company more carefully, remember? When we met on the train, first day at Hogwarts? I told you not to hang around with riffraff like this!" Distantly he knew that he jerked his head at Hermione and Ron, knew that he was practically signing his death warrant with his words. And, briefly, he also noted that he sounded more than a touch hysterical; at least, now, his melodramatics were correctly timed. "It's too late now, Potter. They'll be the first to go, now the Dark Lord's back! Mudblood's and Muggle-lover's first! Well---second---Diggory was the f---"
And then, like fireworks in an enclosed container, the world exploded in howled curses, hexes, and bright lights, and Draco knew no more as he let the darkness beckon him with a bitter smile.
The things I do for you, Potter… I'll follow you as deep as you go, just wait. Into that darkness, that deep water, I'll follow you down until I drown if I have to. Just try… I followed as you led, and, now, here I am.
Come on, Potter, my perfect counterpart, undesired salvation and beloved damnation: let me drown in you.
Come on, Potter, my perfect counterpart, undesired salvation and beloved damnation: let me drown in you.