Disclaimer: JK Rowling is the creator of Harry Potter
1997 - April 18
He never thought it would be easy. He never thought the trial would fix everything if he happened to escape time in Azkaban. But he did think it would at least help his case.
Getting back to the Burrow after the trial, he met awkward silence. It was as if nobody quite knew how to act around him. Draco had sat with them at dinner, the normally loud and obnoxious table quiet and tense.
Things weren't easier. Instead of straight hostility, there was now an uncomfortable, uncertain, complicated silence and he just couldn't take it any longer.
Draco sat outside the strangely built home under a tree, watching the sun slowly dip below the horizon. This silence was tranquil, peaceful, calm. This was a silence he could handle. He needed to get away from everyone, be alone for a while.
He shook his head and dragged his fingers through his hair. After everything that happened, he should be happy, things had gone as well as they possibly could have; he wasn't in Azkaban, he was alive, he had Hermione's love. All these were things Draco didn't think could ever be true for him after the war was over.
But things weren't good and it astonished him that this thought crossed his mind. This was no happy ending, not how things should be. He may have Hermione on his side, but where any of the others stood was somewhat a mystery, and Bellatrix still being out there somewhere left a sick feeling in his stomach.
But what really surprised Draco was the realization that he wanted more and he was gradually learning that he deserved it. Yes, he did terrible things, but even the Wizengamot eventually realized that his good outweighed his bad. So, maybe Hermione was right about him.
Draco smiled to himself. Hermione's always right.
His eyes shot up when he heard the door open and a very awkward looking Harry Potter moving towards him. Draco's brows raised. What could Potter possibly have to say to him?
The way he walked with one hand rubbing the back of his neck and his eyes anywhere but at Draco made it seem as though he really didn't want to be doing this. So he wondered why. Why would Potter go out of his way to talk to him?
To Draco's surprise, the boy sat down beside him in the grass under the tree, though the silence continued. All he wanted to do was be away from all the people who didn't know how to act around him, get away from everyone uncertain if he was friend or enemy. And now Potter had to come and destroy that.
"Look," Potter started, still staring at the ground. "We will never be friends, you and I."
"No arguing there," Draco responded.
"Yeah, but Hermione is. So, I had to come out here." More silence. "I know what it's like to face the Wizengamot. If it wasn't for Dumbledore, I would have been expelled from Hogwarts before fifth year even started. They don't listen, they see a crime and they punish it, no matter what the context." Potter finally lifted his eyes to Draco. "For you not to get a sentence to Azkaban means that," he took a deep breath. "It means that what you said was true."
"Did Hermione put you up to this? Threaten you if you didn't?" Draco asked suspiciously.
Potter laughed dryly. "No. Does sound like something she'd do though."
"You know, when we were hiding out in the cabin, she told me that you and I could have been good friends."
"And what did you say?" he asked, amused.
Draco sighed. "I laughed. Felt kind of bad though because she was being serious."
"Wow. How could she have possibly gotten an idea like that in her head?"
Potter took another deep breath. "Hermione is one of my best friends and apparently you saved her life when we had no clue what was going on. It's something I had a very difficult time wrapping my head around, but something I have to acknowledge. And I cannot believe I'm saying this, but . . ." he paused, as if this was the hardest thing he ever had to say. "Thank you."
"What? Did Harry Potter just thank a Malfoy?"
"Oh, don't rub it in," he said, shaking his head. "You're not going anywhere, are you." It was a statement rather than a question.
"I've got nowhere else to go," Draco admitted.
"And Hermione," he agreed.
"I don't want to see her hurt," Potter said, and Draco wasn't sure if it was simply a statement or a warning.
"I don't want that either."
"If you left, she'd be hurt. I'll never understand it, but for some reason she loves you. She's my friend and I want to understand, but I don't want to take her back through everything right now." He dragged a hand over the top of his head and back to his neck.
"What are you asking?"
"What really happened out there?" Potter asked.
"Really? You're really asking me?"
"I know she's been through a lot. I'm trying to be supportive, I really am." He shook his head sadly. "She told me why I wasn't with her at the trial. Because even though I supported her I didn't support you. She needed me and I wasn't there. So I'm asking for the truth. What happened?"
Draco was shocked. Potter believed he would tell the truth? He really wanted to know about how he and Hermione fell in love? And Potter asked him? Draco guessed the boy was worried about making Hermione relive the whole thing and what that would do to her considering what it all led to.
So he told him. Everything. Well, not everything exactly. There were some things that he didn't need to know, things that needed to stay between Draco and Hermione.
"Wait a second," Potter interrupted. "Snape. He was a Death Eater?" Draco nodded solemnly. "But he saved you?"
Draco sighed. "I was confused at first as well. I knew he was a Death Eater, but for him to know our location, he must have also been a part of the Order. A spy maybe. And yes. He died trying to save us; well he did save us. Gave me the time to send you that message."
"I knew something was off, I just didn't know what," Potter says quietly. "I thought it was something bad. The way he always treated us."
"Was rather amusing I must say," Draco added, getting a glare of warning in return.
There was silence between the two for a moment before Potter spoke again. "So, you really didn't do anything to her," he decides.
"No, I didn't. Not of my own will anyway."
"How did . . . you turn into the . . . hero in this story?" Potter asked, struggling for words.
Draco couldn't help the small laugh from escaping. "You sound so disgusted by the fact."
"Just never would have thought. Given our history."
"You must understand. I looked up to my father. He terrified me, but I believed every word he said. And he told me the Dark Lord was the hero and muggle-borns should never exist," he explained. "And then things changed. Probably more like, Hermione changed my perceptions."
Potter gave him a strange look. "You know, I wasn't completely honest with you before, when I said Hermione didn't threaten me."
"Figures," Draco replied, shaking his head.
"Well, not the coming out here part. But she did say I needed to give you a chance. Or else."
"Did she say the same to Weasley?" Draco asked, scrunching his nose in disgust.
"Ron? No. I don't think he's ready for a civil conversation. At least not right now. He knows how to hold a grudge, but he'll come around eventually. When he realizes that Hermione is more important to him than his dislike for you."
"And that's what you realized?"
Across the yard, footsteps drew Draco's attention. Hermione was striding toward them, a smile on her face.
"No one bleeding, no one seriously injured, not even any yelling. I must say I'm impressed," she said.
"We are being . . . civil," Draco replied.
"Merely for your sake," Potter added.
"Of course. I wouldn't want to insinuate the two of you actually getting along," Hermione stated.
"Right. Uh . . . good talk. I'll give you two some time alone," Potter said awkwardly, standing up to head back indoors.
"Thank-you. Both of you. I know its not easy, but I really appreciate you trying," she told them, taking Potter's place at Draco's side in the grass.
She took his hand in hers. "How are you doing? Really," she asked.
Draco shrugged. "Alright I guess. I should be ecstatic but things just feel so . . . unfinished."
"Things will get better. It's always hard at the beginning, and that's what this is; your beginning. You don't have hide who you are anymore," Hermione assured him.
"But they'll never accept me. Not really. And there's just so much . . . I don't know."
"Is this about Bellatrix?" she asked, her entire body tensing even at the witch's name.
"Maybe a bit."
"They'll find her," Hermione said confidently.
"How can you possibly know that?"
She gave Draco's hand a tight squeeze. "Because they won't stop looking until they do. She's probably the one person everyone wants to see either dead or in Azkaban and you know how the ministry gets about people connected to Voldemort, especially those like her. She won't get away for long."
"And the others, they'll get used to the fact that you're not an enemy. It just might take a bit of time. They're used to seeing Malfoys a certain way, but you've already broken the stereotype," she told him.
There was a comfortable silence that surrounded them, one of hope, a promise of a future. Draco took a deep breath of the evening air and Hermione's head came to rest on his shoulder. He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close, feeling her warmth against him, seeping into his soul, shining a bit of light down that dark path.
"It's a beautiful night," she whispered.
The sun had nearly set leaving just a slight tinge of orange on the horizon, the sky becoming a dark, mystifying blue, accented by the shadows of trees.
"I thought I'd never see another night like this," he said truthfully.
Hermione took her eyes off the sky to look at him.
"I know. But you don't have to worry about that anymore. This is your beginning. And even though I don't know what the future holds, we'll do it together."
It seems that we have come to the end of this story. Thank you to everyone who has read, reviewed, followed/favorited!
To be honest, this is the first story I've ever actually finished. Ever. And I've started quite a few random things over the years. So it took me some time to figure out how to do it. I'm sorry if it was too short or a bit boring, I'm still working on my writing and would love any pointers you may have on ending a story. I tried to wrap things up the best I could, so let me know what you thought!
Check out my other stories 'Pretty Little Choices' (an ending is coming at some point) and 'Good To You' - Both Dramione.
Thank you all and I really hope you enjoyed the journey.