This story was written for Rae (KieraRaelyn) in The DG Forum Fic Exchange - Summer 2017 by a member of our forum. For more details, please visit our page.


Dread

He felt nauseous. He didn't want to return to this place, practically reliving last year all-over again. Could be worse, he thought. His father had been sent back to Azkaban after a short trial. His mother had to sit through several, tiring questionings, where she was compared again and again to her sister, Bellatrix. He had not been allowed to see her. And then he had read in the Prophet that Harry Potter of all people had put in a good word for her, and thus she wasn't sent to Azkaban, but to a 'correction centre' instead. She had her first hearing of parole in 12 months.

And then there had been his trial. As his main crimes were committed while he was still under age, and as it was agreed that he had seen no other choice without endangering his family's and his own life, his sentence was not prison. Not really. He felt his stomach clench thinking about his hearing again: the questioning, seeming to last a whole day, his heart in his chest, struggling to hear his inquisitors over the gushing in his ears, his body aching from not daring to move. None other than Saint Potter himself giving testimony of his worst moment…

"He never wanted to kill him."

Didn't I?

"He might have persuaded himself to believe it…"

What did I believe?

"…because he thought he had to do it, but he would rather none of it had happened."

What had happened? I had failed.

Potter, McGonagall, Granger, Lovegood, even that oaf Ron Weasley – all consecutively walked in to testify. All the while he stared at a spot somewhere on the floor. He was exhausted, scared. He did not want to be seen like this again, like that damned time in the bathroom, when Potter had sliced him open.

The shield charm around him buzzed slightly whenever he stirred, so he made an effort to remain completely still. He didn't know what to think, even if he would have been able to think straight. He was afraid for his father, afraid for his mother, afraid that everything he ever knew, including his home, his friends, everything he knew about what it meant to be a Malfoy, was vanishing into nothing.

There wasn't much room for anything else in his mind, except a strange relief that the Dark Lord did NOT rule, that the war, the deaths, the destruction was over. But would the torture be over? What would his parents have to endure? Or he himself? These people say they are better than the Dark Lord, but are they really? Did they not reinstate Dementors at Azkaban? Did they not tear families apart? Did they not drive people crazy?

So yes, his relief felt strange. Years ago, he had believed in a more glorious, exciting world, with more respect for him and his family, in which true wizards would thrive – a world in which someone like Granger would not be in a position to beat him in any class, in which Potter would be jealous of him, and in which someone like Ginny Weasley would look him up in 'Witch Weekly's Most Desirable Bachelors' or the like, instead of glaring at him like he was scum. He cursed himself silently for his juvenile ideas. Yes, it had been entertaining to think up world like this.

Then he had gradually started to expect a darker world, an empty and hurtful world, where there was a future – or survival – only in good standing with the Dark Lord. He had believed it inevitable – that Voldemort would win. Then he had seen Dumbledore fall, right after the old man had talked him into trusting in his ability to protect him – Dumbledore could not even protect himself! How could anybody stand a chance against the Dark Lord now? Now, that he, Draco, had made the murder of Dumbledore possible? He had seen his father grovel, his mother numbed with dread. He had experienced people's horrible pain, pain he had to inflict on them. He had caught glimpses of people's eyes the moment they were killed. He had heard that the ministry had fallen. He had seen Hogwarts with the Carrows. Known the papers where not reporting the murders that were happening everywhere.

"He didn't take part" Granger recollected. "It was only Bellatrix Lestrange. As I said before, none of the Malfoys even touched me", she told truthfully.

I didn't take part. That's one way to put it. He had been long past wanting to take part in anything. But he remembered being glad that Bellatrix enjoyed doing things herself and did not ask him to do it. Or what would he have done? He remembered that he was shocked seeing Potter and his friends appear at the Manor, because that would mean that time was almost up, that the dark world would soon engulf everything, everywhere. Its ugliness had already swallowed his home – he couldn't recall the sunlight falling in beams and bouncing off every shiny object in the drawing room, he couldn't remember the vibrant colours of his mother's garden. Engraved in his mind was the metallic brown of crusty blood, the ashen veil covering his father's eyes and face, the sick white complexion of his mother, rough and violent black of his aunt's hair, foul yellowish flesh on the Dark Lord, colourless stares from his victims.

But he had only noticed when the prisoners had gone, and when he had felt a sudden relief, that he, like the rest of the sodding wizarding world, was counting on Potter to save the day. And he had felt stupid for it. He had known the Dark Lord would more than likely come and kill his family – he should have done more to keep them there, he should have taken part.

"He brought me food. At first, he threatened to do something to me, should I try anything, but he only said that because he was afraid. I tried to tell him he needn't be afraid of me, though he didn't like that."

Despite his resolution to keep still, his eyes moved to meet Luna Lovegood's for a second. She gave him a faint smile. She irritated him to no end. He had not been afraid of her! He only – he just… What if he would have been unable to stop them, should they have tried something?

"But he was the only one who didn't make dreadful remarks, so I began thanking him for the food, and he let me."

He fought the urge to twist his hands together. Why wasn't it over yet?

"He was always a very haughty boy, as I remember. Not necessarily cruel. Egoistic. He has a lot to learn about humanity. About prejudice, empathy." As McGonagall spoke, she looked at him the whole time.

He really didn't like her piercing stare, or this sudden and uncalled-for wish that Dumbledore would be here instead. The air around him buzzed.

After everybody was finally done and gone, and he was once again alone with the officials and judges, he was addressed once more.

"Mr Malfoy, do you think you can learn? Can you give up your …ideology?"

My –?

"I have no ideology."

"Well then, can you overcome your prejudices, your upbringing?"

My upbringing? What the hell was he implying?

"In short, are you willing to change? "

What the hell do I know, I am at your damned mercy, aren't I?

He only saw a blur of faces around him, through the tears that had relentlessly fought their way into his eyes. There was only one answer.

"Yes. I am."

When he was brought out of the hearing room afterwards, he had to walk through the entrance hall and past all those who had testified and whoever was waiting for them. Ron with a look of contempt, Mr Weasley with no look at all. Potter with that condescending stare. Ginny Weasley with a look he couldn't quite read. He had become used to seeing utter disappointment from her. Maybe she was way past that. Potter had his arms around her. Draco looked away.

They were probably hoping they would never have to see him again, and so was he. But no. He had just been sentenced to learn, to work, to change.

Sentenced back to Hogwarts.


Rae's Prompt (1)

Basic Premise: Draco's childhood was bland, colorless. Until he meets Ginny.

Must haves: Progression in their relationship from hatred/intense dislike to love. Red features prominently in the story, comes up a lot. I see this as a Hogwarts fic, but if you can work it Post-Hogwarts, go for it.

No-no's: OOC behavior, dark tones (This is more of a light fic)

Rating Range: Any

Bonus Points: Draco's favorite place to play/hide from his responsibilities as a child was his mother's rose garden, the antithesis to the typical English garden. Ginny reminds him of this garden.