***PLEASE*** take a quick moment to read through the trigger warnings and notes before you begin. Thanks so much and hope you enjoy.

AUTHORS NOTE:If this is your first time welcome to this story. It was originally started in November of 2018. I am currently (November 2019) updating chapter by chapter with edits trying to clear up any typos and spelling errors as well as adding some clarity to certain scenes thanks to positive feedback and helpful criticism that have helped me grow as an author so much in this last year. I do enjoy reviews and have used them to try and improve. If you like a certain chapter I encourage you to let me know. I really appreciate the feedback. Please keep all reviews and comments respectful. If you are coming back for a re-read of this fiction you will notice a lot of changes to the earlier chapters as far as narrative form and spelling, however I have kept the plot and scenes the same trying to stay true to the spirit of my original version.- Sincerely LP

THIS IS A VERY SLOW-BURN, ANGST-FILLED, NOVEL-LENGTH, FANFICTION.

*TRIGGER WARNING:This story is rated M. It is rated M because it contains violence, torture, abuse, molestation, violence around sex, and eventual love/sex scenes. While this story DOES NOT contain rape it does have negative sexual encounters and attempted sexual abuse. While some people find it cathartic to read and write about these subjects others can find it triggering. If you believe that you might be triggered reading about these subjects please do not continue. I care about people and do not wish to have my story hurt anyone. Please heed the warning.


Prologue Part 1-The Malfoy Manor:

The Malfoy manor was cold. The fireplace doing nothing to warm Draco Malfoy's bones as he sat in the drawing room with his ankle crossed over atop his knee. His grey slacks crinkled at his bent knees in the same way that his brow was crinkling at the material before him. Draco was reading a copy of an extremely old, extremely dull, book on potions and getting nowhere. The silken strands of his hair fell forward again tickling his lashes and he shoved them back behind his ear as he tried for the third time to make his way though the same same paragraph on newt's eyes and their various uses.

"This is useless," he muttered realizing he was just re-reading the same words over and over without absorbing them. He let out an exhausted sigh and rubbed his own tiredly. Yes he loved potions, yes he wanted to be reading about them, it was simply that he couldn't focus. Draco set the book aside and took a deep breath closing his eyes.

He was restless and he wanted to be elsewhere.

This house hardly felt like a home anymore.

The manor had never been a warm and comforting place for Draco though his mother did everything in her power to make it so, there was only so much that freshly baked cookies and treats could do to dispel the gloom from a place haunted with blood and death. Draco shuddered and stood walking over to the fire and warming his hands. He flexed and fisted his fingers, opening and closing, opening and closing. He let out a disgruntled sound and threw himself back into the reading chair picking up the giant tome and setting it back on his lap.

He was craving something, anything, to distract him from the chaos that was going on in his house and life and at the moment this seemed like the best solution. At least mind-numbing ancient potions texts didn't remind him of his actual life...

They reminded him of Hogwarts.

A dull ache started in Draco's chest. Even though he didn't want to fully admit it the truth was he missed Hogwarts and yearned for the comforting glow of the Slytherin dungeons.

Trust you to associate comfort with a dungeon Draco, he mocked himself darkly.

At least that dungeon didn't make him feel trapped.

This house did.

Because of HIM.

Voldemort, their 'Esteemed' house guest. His father, boasted about how the Dark Lord was living with them, while at the same time cowering from their 'guest'.

Draco's mind went back to the dinner party that Voldemort had hosted and how his teacher... Ms. Charity Burbage had encouraged the mingling between Muggles and pure blooded witches and wizards had become Nagini's dinner.

Draco shuddered.

How could anyone live like this?

Why did his parents consider a world where you can feed someone who disagrees with you to a snake preferable to how it was when Dumbledore...

Draco's thoughts stopped cold and he felt queasy.

Dumbledore.

The man who he had be raised to hate, who is father hated, who the dark Lord had tasked him to kill.

Dumbledore who had stood there in the tower looking at him with such a calm acceptance.

Why hadn't he fought?! Draco felt a stinging in his eyes and pushed it away slamming the book closed.

He didn't fight because he was weak and old, a part of his mind said snidely.

And what does that make you? the other part asked back. The young man who attacked an tired old man who stood there helplessly...

Draco shook his head, Dumbledore had never been helpless.

Then why not fight?

Draco opened the book again and found his mind wandering to Hogwarts once more. He missed his friends, Blaise, his teammates, even Crabbe and Goyle. He missed the girls who fawned over him with hopeful eyes and gentle bodies. It felt like it had been ages since he had just gotten lost inside a beautiful witch and let the rest of the world fall away. He could certainly use that now. Someone sweet, gentle. True that wasn't usually his type-he liked feisty and strong, but with everything going on he just wanted some peace.

Peace like he sometimes felt at Hogwarts. Hogwarts stone walls felt warm, safe even. The stone of his family's mansion felt cold like a gilded cage.

Every day he was away from the school meant his grades should drop...they wouldn't though-not with Snape as headmaster. Draco was officially 'Excused' from class and exempt from being docked marks in his absence. It was unfair, but not nearly as unfair as the fact that he had left at the top of every one of his classes. He had finally done it, finally climbed to the very top on his own, by his own power and merit and yet it mean nothing.

It meant nothing because he hadn't beat HER: Hermione Granger.

There was no satisfaction in being the best when his only competition had dropped out.

Harry Potter might be the thorn in his side and the bane of his existence but Granger was a challenge. She was the only student in school who he had to compete with in the classroom and time and time again he came in second to her, except for in potions and Draco couldn't help but wonder if that was because he was genuinely better than her, or if it was Snape and his favoritism at work.

When he had first met her he had hated her for what she was: a muggle born witch. He had been taught that people like her were worthless, useless abominations. When she opened her mouth all that had come out was a haughty little know-it-all bratty attitude that made him want to puke. How dare she act so high and mighty when she was so obviously beneath him...and then she had beat him in class.

Lucius Malfoy hadn't taken the news of his son coming in second to a 'Mudblood' well. He had threatened teachers and come home and reminded Draco with the back of his hand that he was never to let it happen again.

But it did happen again, and again, and again; and the back of Lucius hand became the lash of his belt, and the last of his belt became the thud of his cane across Draco's back.

No one was to know, not now, not ever on pain of the loss of his inheritance.

He was to tell no one...not even his own mother because god knows Narcissa Malfoy would not have stood for her baby being hurt.

"If you tell her you'll just prove to me how weak and pathetic you truly are," Lucius words echoed fresh in Draco's memories.

No, he never told his mother; he wanted her love, not her pity.

He had every reason to hate Hermione Granger, and yet as he thought of her he couldn't help wondering where she was and if she was safe.

Where was she now?

Probably off gallivanting around with Potter and the Weasel trying to save the world, He thought grudgingly. He was glad she wasn't at school, not because he didn't want her there. He would never admit our loud that he missed the challenge and the feisty edge that made her so much more interesting than the rest of his classmates. He was glad she wasn't there now because the school wasn't a safe place for people like her anymore. Still, he missed the challenge. It was...boring without a challenge and she was the only one who really challenged him.

It was strange how it made him feel...not upset... believing she was off somewhere in a safe house, cozy and reading some old dusty tome like him. Maybe she was reading at this very moment curled up next to a warmer fire in a house much more comforting than his own. Likely with the Weasel. Draco sneered, the pleasant image of her ruined by the thought of the dumb git of a redhead who seemed to hold her fancy.

What does she see in him? There was no way he had half the brain she deserves in a partner. She deserves someone who was a challenge to her, who complimented her...He smiled at the thought then scowled at himself for thinking it in the first place. Draco shorted. Why on earth was he thinking about her?

Because she reminds you of a time when your life was more simple and all you had to worry about was beating her in class and avoiding your fathers wrath, his mind answered back.

The sound of voices coming form down the hall had Draco looking up from the potions book.

"My son, Draco, is home for his Easter holidays. If that is Harry Potter he will know." The words echoed off the walls. Draco shuddered, his fingers tightening against the cover of his book.

Not today, I don't want to deal with them today, he thought squeezing his eyes tight and silently willing them to all just leave and leave him alone.

What had she said about Potter thought?

"What is this?" his father drawled and stepped into the room. Both parties converged from opposite entrances making Draco feel as if he was being ambushed.

His eyes drifted to the group that his mother had led here.

No, Draco reeled at the sight of the group. He closed the book gripping it so tightly his knuckles turned white.

No, he repeated silently in his head.

Snatchers had caught the golden trio.

The Weasley boy, was half hunched over and looked bloody, and bloody awful. The pig headed weasel had clearly thought it was a good idea to fight with his captors. Draco would almost have smiled at it if he didn't look so genuinely hurt.

He didn't want to look further because he knew the person next to him was surely Granger. His eyes shifted and he saw that she looked scared and defiant at the same time. Like a captured lioness in true annoying Gryffindor spirit. She was struggling against Greyback's grip. Her little sweater rode up exposing a strip of smooth skin across her stomach. Draco couldn't help looking. His eyes flickered away quickly and he was that the werewolf was leering at Granger and the exposed flesh licking his lips like Granger was some kind of a meal.

Draco felt the strong and sudden urge to punch Greyback in the face, with his fist and then hex him with a wand. He batted the thought down fiercely. It didn't matter that he didn't like the way the older man was looking at Hermione he was powerless to do anything about it. Still, it made his skin crawl.

Only moments ago he had been picturing her safe and sound...

You should know better than to hope by now, he chastised himself.

Draco realized he was staring. Granger's sharp eyes met his and locked with him.

He couldn't handle that look. He didn't want to bear the weight of the anger and the pleading he saw there. Feeling nauseous again he he looked away from here and to the final member of the group.

It was Harry Potter to be sure. There was something wrong with his face, but who else could the one in front be other than the third member of the golden trio?

"They say they've got Potter," his mother announced with her usual regal authority and turned to him. "Draco come here."

Draco wanted to protest and turn heel and leave.

Unfortunately that wasn't an option.

Draco stood slowly, setting the book down on the table next to him as casually as he could manage. His mind protested with every step.

I don't want to be the Judas, the thought ran through his head. I don't want to be the one who betrays the 'Chosen One'

He tried to dismiss the thought. He didn't even like Potter.

No, he flat out Hated Harry Potter. Harry was the thorn in his side, the enemy...

That didn't change the fact that Draco did not want to be the wizard responsible for handing the wizarding worlds supposed savior over to the devil Voldemort.

Lucius saw handing over Potter as a chance at eternal glory. A few months ago Draco might have seen it that way to, before Voldemort had asked him to kill Dumbledore.

That was the night everything changed.

Draco was transported back immediately to the tower and the night mare memory he had almost every night. The memory of the old wizard standing so stoically and fearless... showing him kindness even as he held a wand like gun against the old man's head.

Draco shoved the memory aside violently. He felt his hand tremble.

Not now, you can't afford to think of it now.

He never want to think about that day, about how he had failed in two ways: Failed to live up to his family and the Dark Lord's expectations, and failed to save an old man, unarmed, and unprotected, from death.

Greyback pushed the disfigured boy forward. Draco walked over and stood at a distance in front of him.

He didn't want to get close. Even from where he stood he could see that yes, it was Harry.

Of course it is, he thought.

Potters face was pink, swollen and ugly, quite hideous to behold. It was obvious to Draco that Harry had been cursed.

The clothes were right, the glasses, and the company he was keeping certainly gave it away.

More than any of that Draco simply 'Knew' it was Potter. He had spent to many years next to Harry to not recognize him just because of some curse.

"Well boy?" rasped the werewolf.

Shut up you dumb dog, Draco answered in his head, saying nothing out loud.

He couldn't afford to antagonize the beast.

Draco swallowed, his throat feeling dry.

Potter wouldn't make eye contact with him, keeping his head low. Draco would have sneered if he wasn't so focused on remaining calm or at least, maintaining the illusion of calm...

Draco was anything but calm.

What the fuck am I supposed to do? You weren't supposed to get yourself caught you dumb twit, he growled inwardly at Potter.

Draco felt a fine sweat prick up on the back of his neck ad he started to feel claustrophobic in the giant room. There were too many people standing around looking at him, waiting for him to answer.

Why does everyone expect this of me?

It was a question that he kept asking even though he already knew the answer: because of his parents, because of his blood. He was expected to uphold the family 'Values' and tow the family line.

The privilege he had enjoyed his whole life felt like a noose tightening around his neck more and more each day.

"Well Draco?" Lucius asked avidly. "Is it? Is it Harry Potter?"

Yes father, the chosen one is kneeling right in front of you, and you can't even recognize him for yourself, Draco almost glared.

"I can't-I can't be sure." Draco answered aloud and looked away.

Why couldn't they just figure it out for themselves and leave him out of it?

Why did it have to fall to him?

"But look at him carefully. look! Come closer!" Draco felt his father's excitement and it made his stomach turn.

He sneered inwardly.

Why had he looked up to his father for so many years?

Why had be wanted to make him proud despite the cruelty, despite the berating him constantly for coming second to the 'Mudblood'?

Draco glanced over across the room at her: The Mudblood.

How was it that he hated the sound of that word only when used to describe her?

And when had that changed happened inside his head?

He remembered a time where that was what he called her...to her face...to hurt her.

She looked desperate, begging him with her eyes to protect them all with a simple lie.

She knew he knew; he could see it in those beautiful eyes

He hated her for all the times he had felt the sharp bite of his father's cane so the unfounded and very off-putting desire to play hero to her in that moment wreaked havoc inside him.

You're an idiot. You'll never be the hero. Even if you saved them they would all still hate you for what you've done to them in the past, especially her.

So what if he had tried to save her before when the death eaters had attacked the world cup? She didn't know that. She had no clue.

Her friends were too dense to pick up on his hint. If he had said it one more time even his own father would have picked up on what he was doing and there would have been hell to pay. As it was he still remembered the sharp slap of his fathers hand at the side of his head. Lucius who was always so careful about outward appearances had still stooped to striking his son in public. It coincided with things getting worse at home. It was almost like his own father couldn't quite keep the violence towards his son in check anymore.

Draco thought of that night, how he had worried that they would kill her. He didn't know why he had done it then. He had only know that he didn't want her dead. Not then, and not now.

He couldn't explain it.

He tried to write it off as just not wanting to lose the one person who had the guts to challenge him for real . She went toe to toe with him in class and she had gone toe to toe with him when she punched him square in the face third year.

Why don't you want her dead? the darker side asked at the memory of how much that punch had hurt both his pride and his nose. Crabbe and Goyle hadn't let it go until he threatened them into silence.

"Draco," His father leaned in, earnest. "If we are the ones who hand Potter over to the dark Lord, everything will be forgiv-"

"Now we won't be forgetting who actually caught him, I hope, Mr. Malfoy?" said Greyback Menacingly.

"Of course not, of course not!" Lucius moved closer and Draco took a step away, happy to distance himself from the mess.

"What did you do to him? How did he get into this state?" asked Lucius.

"That wasn't us."

If it wasn't them… Draco's thought trailed off and he looked back at Hermione.

She must have done it.

Hide his face to keep him safe while fleeing the enemy? Who was smart enough and quick enough to think of that? Granger was. He hadn't known she had it in him to hurt someone she cared about even if it was to save them. It made him feel a little proud of her.

Do you really think she hurt her friend? doubt niggled at him.

Yes, he answered back. It had to have been her because Weasel-the great clod- wouldn't think to disguise Harry's face if he had an hour let alone while trying to stay out of the grip of snatchers.

Draco glanced at Granger and knew she was the one responsible.

Probably hurt like a bitch. Draco smiled to himself at that thought, and then shook his head.

You're an asshole you know that? he told himself.

"Looks more like a stinging Jinx to me." Lucius leaned in closer examining Harry's forehead. "There's something there… It could be the scar stretched tight…Draco, come here, look properly! What do you think?" Lucius grabbed the back of Draco's neck and dragged him in close to look. Draco didn't fight, he knew there was no point.

For the first time Harry looked up at Draco.

Draco's chest tightened.

If he hadn't been sure before he was certain now, beyond any trace of a doubt.

Those were Harry Potter's eyes staring back at him.

It didn't matter the scar on the forehead-distorted as it was-the truth of his identity was clear in the pair of eyes that looked back at him.

He couldn't read the expression in those eyes.

Harry didn't look hopeful that Draco would keep the secret, not like Granger had.

Harry was looking at Draco like he was trying to read Draco.

The look made him uncomfortable.

Harry had seen what had happened in the tower.

Draco swallowed, he had the urge to run.

Don't make me do this...

Draco choked out the words: "I don't know," and walked back towards the fireplace where his mother was standing.

I won't be responsible for the fall of the world.

I won't.

Narcissa tried to catch her son's gaze. He could feel how she wanted to help him. She was always so kind to him even if she was cold to others. He wanted to turn to her, to lean on her but he knew if he did that now she would see in his eyes that he did "Know" and that he was lying, so Draco refused to make eye contact.

Her desire to keep the family safe would overrule her desire to keep him out of this mess.

He didn't blame her.

He couldn't blame her.

He loved her and she loved him like he was the greatest son in the world despite all of his faults and shortcomings.

Lying was putting them all in danger.

If he lied flat-out and said it wasn't Potter his family could be marked for death as soon as the truth came out.

If he told the truth now it would bring whole of the wizarding world crashing down.

He could see the order of events unfolding in his head as clear as if they were happening for real and not just predictions.

Voldemort would be called.

Voldemort would come to the manor.

Voldemort would kill Harry Potter and every wizard after who got in his way.

He would also as kill every wizard who wasn't pure: He would Kill Hermione and probably make a show of it.

Then Voldemort would come out to the world and rein supreme.

He would create a new world-a dark world.

Lucius thought that new world would bring him fame and glory.

Draco knew it would only keep them teetering on the edge of the dark Lord's so-called "Good will" until someone did or said something he didn't like and made examples of them all.

No matter what happened Draco knew if Voldemort won he and his family would eventually lose.

He knew it down to his bones even if he was the only one who could see it.

Draco wanted to protect his mother; She had always protected and looked out for him.

He also wanted to protect Granger.

Stupid and irrational as it was, he wanted to protect her.

He also didn't want the future where Voldemort ruled the world and that meant that- for very personal and selfish reasons- he wanted to keep Harry safe too.

I can't believe I just thought that, Draco closed his eyes.

He knew he would choose family over all else; He had to, but he didn't want to have make the choice at all.

Narcissa turned to Lucius warning him that they had to be certain. Draco tried to tune them out.

He imagined he was somewhere else, somewhere safe, like the beach he loved so much, or Hogwarts.

He rested his head against his arm on the mantel.

"What about the Mudblood, then?" Greyback shoved Hermione forward and Draco's head shot up. The hairs on the back of his neck stood to attention.

You can't let him have her, he thought, You know what he'll do.

Draco had heard the rumors of Greyback's depravity.

He could hate Granger and still not want her to go through that...and he didn't hate Granger. He certainly didn't feel any affection for her...he couldn't...but he respected her too much to hate her.

Draco watched in the mirror as Hermione struggled against the werewolf's rough hands.

He saw Greyback smile.

He felt his cold blood boil.

If you paw at her I'll kill you, you great mutt, thought Draco.

He wanted to whirl and shout at the wolf-man, instead he turned slowly to face them, careful to keep his movements unhurried.

He didn't know where the protective urge was coming from but it was almost out weighing his desire for self-preservation.

Its just because she's a woman in trouble and your mother taught you never to hit a woman or let her be hurt in front of you, he told himself.

His father had somewhat different ideas about women however, Narcissa was a strong enough that if Lucius had ever raised a hand to her he would have spent the rest of his life regretting it.

"Wait," said Narcissa sharply.

Draco looked over to his mother.

Was she going to rescue Granger from Greyback.

Draco frowned and then he saw the look on Narcissa's face. It was a loot of hope. Narcissa recognized Hermione.

No, don't mother, Draco silently pleaded with her.

If no one else could positively identify Potter then the golden trio would be afforded some extra time.

If there was anything he knew about the trio it was that they had a habit of making use of time to escape danger.

Narcissa ignored, or didn't see, Draco's expression, as she got caught up in the enthusiasm of the moment.

"Yes-Yes," said Narcissa. She pointed to Granger. "She was in madam Malkin's with Potter! I saw her picture in the prophet!" Narcissa almost smiled.

Draco could see the desperation in her face: The desire to keep him safe.

She felt she was doing what was right for him .

His mother always tried to do what was right for him, even if he didn't always like it.

"Look Draco isn't it the Granger girl?" His mother inclined her head in earnest, seeking confirmation of what was fast becoming blatantly obvious.

Draco looked to his mother, then his glance darted briefly to Granger.

He didn't linger, he couldn't linger because he didn't want to see her pleading with him.

All the eyes in the room were on him.

He felt his heart thud in his ears, his pulse pounding.

A headache started at his temples.

Predictions of the future began to line up in images in his head once more.

This time his demise was more immediate.

He couldn't lie and say no.

It was obvious couldn't stall anymore, if he did everyone would know he was lying.

They would label him a traitor.

He would be handed over to the dark lord.

The dark Lord would kill them all.

That was what would happen if he didn't give them up.

Powerless, he felt-once again-utterly powerless.

"I…" he looked at his mother "Maybe…"

Time slowed, the room held its breath.

He looked to Hermione.

Forgive me Granger.

His next word felt like a nail in his own coffin.

"Yeah."


Thank you for reading. If this is your second time through I would really love to hear what you think of this new and updated version. The earlier update of this chapter was 2,821 words, this new edited version is 5,241. If its your first time I would still love to know what you think of this opening chapter.

A NOTE ON CANNON:The cannon for this story is mostly books, while occasionally drawing from the films. You will note direct quotes for dialogue for both as well as the occasional mix of quotes and scenes from both. This story begins with full cannon and as it progresses we diverge from the original plot for Deathly Hallows. This is a "WHAT IF" fanfiction. Characters begin as they were written in the original and fantastic way that Rowling did them. As this story progresses people will change in ways that I feel are appropriate given the circumstances and ordeals that they face. That said I have endeavored to remain true to the spirit of each character. Also, it is Cannon that Lucius has stuck Draco on several occasions in public, I am making the personal decision to portray Lucius as someone who was abusive towards his son behind closed doors since it has been my personal experience and observation that people who care about appearances and are still openly violent with others tend to be worse when no one is watching. That is not always the case, but it has been something I have seen.

If you or anyone you know is in an abusive situation know that you are not alone. Reach out, speak out. You matter.