M e m o r i e s . o f . m e...

* * * * * * * * *

C.h.a.p.t.e.r.6 - the decision...

Severus found Draco sitting on the bench in the Malfoy Garden, his feet dangling from the ground, gray eyes cast down to the clasped hands on his lap. Draco's hair fell messily over his face, but he didn't brush them away, nor seemed to notice it. The mood was so broody that even the trees and flowers seemed to be sharing the despair.

Severus stepped over to Draco, and kneeled down in front of the little boy.

Draco was not crying. In fact, his eyes were dry, and normal... no, not normal, because the light that always present in them was now an emptiness reaching far into the darkness.

"Draco," Severus spoke very softly, "look at me."

Draco looked up, but his eyes were still a stretch of blankness that pained Severus to see it.

"What are you feeling?" Severus asked.

Draco shook his head. "Nothing." And Severus knew he meant it.

"You can cry, Draco, no one asks you to keep everything inside," Severus said tightly, his face showed barely controlled sadness.

Draco's head shook again. "I don't feel like crying," he said, and it truly, honestly frightened Severus to hear the flat tone, coming out from a eight-year-old. But then again, one could never expect anything less from a Malfoy.

And he did the only thing he could, and had ever did.

He pulled Draco into his arms and stroke the boy's hair lovingly. "Cry, Draco, be sad, be angry, just don't feel nothing, because you will hurt the people who cared for you if you do," Severus said, closing his eyes. He felt near tears himself.

"Father told me I'm not to cry," Draco said flatly. "It's not manly."

"Idiot," Severus said, smiling slightly and mentally planning to have a talk with Lucius. "You're not a man yet. You're just a little boy, and little boys are allowed to cry."

For a long time there was only the sound of water falling down into the fountain and the trees whispering sadness to the wind, soft brushes of wind trying to take away the pain.

Severus heard a small gasp. Wetness dampened his cloak, and then Draco was crying. Severus tightened his arms around the smaller frame, stroking his hair while muttering nothingness into his ear.

"Grandma... Grandma..." Draco choked, closing his eyes and feeling them burning behind his eyelids.

Severus breathed in deeply, his eyes closing themselves. He knew exactly why Draco was so depressed. He knew exactly how Draco's grandmother died. And he knew exactly how Lucius told Draco the news.

'You mustn't despair, my little dragon, because her end served justice. She did not live up to the Malfoy name.'

And he had thought Lucius would show some respectfulness to his own mother. Or at least, Severus thought, feeling the blond boy shaking, took a different tactic into telling Draco the news. The boy was still young, too young to be feeling something so deeply and strongly grievous. God, has Lucius no heart?

When the shaking subsided, Severus continued to hold his godson, listening to the quiet sobs fading into silence. He pulled away and looked at Draco's red eyes.

"How are you feeling?"

Draco's eyes were like two pools of helplessness and grief. "Grandma's dead, Severus. I won't ever see her again," Draco said mournfully, and through the mist of understanding and sympathy, Severus was relieved to hear something in the boy's voice.

"Severus, grandma's dead..." Draco's lower lip trembled, and a single tear fell down his eye.

A surge of loathing swelled up in Severus' heart, and for a moment he wanted to tell Draco exactly why his grandma was dead, but seeing such intense pain in Draco, he just couldn't do it. Maybe one day, when Draco understood all the cruelty and ruthlessness of this world.

Or to be more precise, of Draco's own father.

"She's not truly dead, Draco," Severus said, after taking in several deep breaths.

Draco's eyes jerked up to look into his, hope filled his stormy-colored eyes. "She's not?"

"No," Severus said. "Even though you won't be able to see or talk to her, she's always with you. Right now, she's just somewhere else, where it's very peaceful and happy."

"Where is it? I want to go and see her!" Draco demanded, pulling at Severus' sleeve.

Patiently, Severus shook his head. "You can't go there, Draco. But know that she's always very near you, and she loved you."

"I loved her, too," Draco said tremulously, "but she left me."

"She didn't want to, but she had to, Draco." And it's all that vindictive...

"Why?" Draco's question was demanding an answer.

"Because bad people made her leave," was all Severus could offer.

"Who?" Draco's eyes were now a dark color of gray.

"You don't have to know, Draco, not now. Just know that don't ever become one of those bad people, because you have a heart."

"They don't?"

Severus just couldn't look into Draco's eyes when he answered.

"No, they don't."

Five days later, Severus met Draco again. Although this time, the little boy was not Draco, but a completely different person. He was no longer innocent and loving, but ... he was just like his father.

An exact image of Lucius Malfoy, and no matter know much Severus tried to change him, all was in vain.

And he knew, he just knew that the sudden change in Draco must have something to do with Lucius.

He didn't find out what it was until years later, and it was all thanks to Harry Potter.

P.a.R.t.T.h.I.r.T.y.T.w.O.d.O.n.E

Gentle fingers, stroking his cheek lightly, tenderly, as if he is a precious, fragile creature that might break with just a little pressure. Sweet nothingness mingles with the silence that reaches him through his heart. Understanding without hearing. Knowing without seeing.

Warm breaths ghost over his face, feather-light kisses brush his cheek, whispers seep through him, sending a thrilling kind of shiver up his spine. Then the whispers stop, the caresses pause in their movements, leaving him yearning for more.

A slow, hesitate touch to his forehead, brushing his hair away. He sighs, wanting to reach out to the source of his contentment.

Shock washes through him when he realizes he couldn't move at all, and startles, his eyes snap open.

Except when they don't.

What... is this numbness? The inability to move? Where am I? Another side of the world? Am I... dead? Who could that be that is showering sweet kisses on me? Tender caresses...

They're fake.

The touches and kisses and whispers all dissolve into emptiness as he jerks back, pushes by an invisible force. The coldness makes itself known to him.

Where has that calming feeling gone to?

Laughter fills his ears, chilling his insides, and then he is standing in the middle of darkness.

Alone.

"Hello, Harry."

He turns, and the darkness closes itself around him.

P.a.R.t.T.h.I.r.T.y.T.h.R.e.E.d.O.n.E

November 13, 1997... after midnight...

When consciousness called him back to reality, Draco was lying in the dungeon of the Malfoy Manor.

Slowly, the haziness diffused, leaving a clear path for the shock to kick in.

Draco jumped up, shaking his head and looked around.

The first thing he noticed was that it was dark.

The second thing he noticed was that Artemis was not with him.

That news leisurely took its time to make itself understood in Draco's mind, and when it did, Draco did the only thing he could think of doing.

He cursed, desperately. Artemis was the source that could get him back to Hogwarts, and without her here, it could only mean two things: she had went back to Hogwarts, too afraid to stay...

Or she had gone to his father and tell him of his arrival.

Either way, it couldn't be good, and he must act quickly.

Draco felt his way out of the dungeon. This was the first time he'd gone so deep into the dungeon, and the heavy silence was pressing him down. Draco tried to keep his eyes away from the cells, but once in a while they would stray to the gray dullness in one of the cells and, seeing the dry-up skeletons. He turned away and felt sick.

He had only been here once, and didn't even go that far into this frightful place. It was when he was young, the summer before he started his first year. His father had been with him, leading him through this empty passages, except for the cries of the prisoners. Oh yes, there were prisoners then. Muggles, mostly. He really had no idea how or why Lucius held them captive, or for how long? He wondered, briefly, if they have family, and if so, then were they worried? Were they still waiting for those prisoned in this dungeons? Or had they forgotten about them?

He had hated himself for thinking such things. He shouldn't have been thinking like that. He'd grown up listening to his father talked about life, power, and those beneath them, namely, Muggles and non pure-blooded wizards. They were not worth it. Not worth the time of a Malfoy. Besides, they were inferior to those such as the Malfoys. They were the lesser, vile creatures. Now he wondered if it were them that were the vile creatures, or he and his father.

Draco regretted the fact that he was so naive. He wished he had been thinking, when he was young, then maybe he would've seen what his father was doing to him - shaping him - fooling him into believing something that was so wrong, blinding his own wants and needs and his choices.

He wondered if it wasn't for Harry - Harry who opened his eyes and mind and heart and told him through fierce looks and trusting smiles and comforting gestures everything he needed to know and wanted... then would he still be drinking in his father's words and his motives oh so trustingly? Draco didn't really want to answer that question.

The shadows flickered gently on the walls as the hall became less darker. The last of those cold, metal bars disappeared from view as staircase loomed nearer, revealing the path up to the castle, away from the dungeon... the cold darkness.

Draco's hands began to sweat. For all of his brave, determined thoughts, for all of his secret promises and decisions, he still didn't know if he would be able to face his father. There it was again: his cowardice.

He was no Gryffindor. He has no courage and wasn't intrepid like Harry. No, he was a Slytherin, and a Slytherin thinks for himself. But he was thinking for Harry, wasn't he?

No, you're not thinking about Harry. You're thinking about yourself. You know if he dies, a part of yourself will die with him, and you don't want that, therefore, you must save him, that irritating voice was really getting under skin now.

He didn't care anymore if he was doing this for himself or Harry. All he knew that there was someone out there, lying on a bed of white sheets, seemingly dead and unresponsive and oblivious to the world, and he must get back in time to save him.

But could he? What if his father found out? What if his father prevented him from going back to Harry? What if...

There were too many 'what if's, and Draco wished he would just stop being so damn indecisive! Right now he needed to push these thoughts away. Whatever that will come, he will have to face it. For now, he has to find the cure.

As Draco climbed the stairs, he was met with a blinding white light. He blinked, and a few seconds later, the corridor of the Malfoy Manor came into view.

Draco swallowed at the familiarity of his home - from the paintings of his ancestors and the bloody battlefields to the creamy-white paint on the walls and the marble floor, and felt a sudden queasy feeling in his stomach. Determinedly Draco pushed the feeling aside and made for the library as quietly and furtively as he could, but he knew that the triggering spells his father placed around the place would alert the man immediately of the appearances sudden guests... and in this case, Draco. Even if that was so, Draco still kept on hoping that his father wouldn't come so quickly and not before he has gotten his hands on whichever book he needed.

The paintings on the corridors stared down at him with the same, almost identical faces: light blond hair glittering like silver, sharp, shielded eyes that hid the cruelty behind them, the infamous smirk that stretched across the creamy-pale face as if mocking, taunting, luring...

Draco tore his eyes away from them. The family expectations were keeping up with him, the threats that were trying to take him away from the only source of love. If he wanted to save Harry, he has to pull himself together and forget about his stupid family's name and the things he has to do because it was his destiny.

No, Draco decided firmly, I'm going to choose my own destiny, not the Dark Lord, and not you, father. Not you. No one will keep me away from Harry.

No one.

P.a.R.t.T.h.I.r.T.y.F.o.U.r.D.o.N.e

The shadows flickering against the stone wall, their shapes ominous and full of dark deeds, just like the master of this room.

The room was made out of stone, from the floor to every inch of the walls and ceilings, leaving an empty space for the window, framed by silver that was sketched delicately and mysteriously, as if every design, every curve, line, has a deeper meaning that will reveal the secret of darkness. The curtains were red velvet, pulled back by simple, golden ropes and glimmered dully.

A large, mahogany desk was placed in front of the window, full of papers and books and odd objects that normal wizards wouldn't be able to identify them. Between the desk and the window an impressive, real leather chair was seen.

And on that chair sat Lucius Malfoy.

Now, Lucius Malfoy was not a man with much leisure, with all his Ministry works and, in addition to that, the important meetings with Voldemort.

However, today was a special day, as it has proven to be when his son, Draco Malfoy, appeared in the dungeon by Apparation with the help of his pretty, childish spy: Artemis Lovegood. Of course Draco didn't know Artemis was Lucius's private spy, otherwise he would've been very cautious around her, and that just added more of the fun to it. Lucius has planned out everything very carefully, first letting Draco meet Artemis and slowly while secretly helped Artemis become Draco's friend. Oh, everything had gone perfectly enough, and Draco had obliviously being very imprudent around Artemis, allowing her the chance to report all news about Draco.

And of course, Draco didn't know that Blaise was also Lucius's spy... innocently enough.

A smirk eased itself across the high, strong cheekbones of Lucius's with years of practice. Draco had, again, carelessly forgotten one of his early lessons in his childhood: never let your guard down with anyone, especially your closest, for they proved to be the most dangerous.

But it served his purposes, so Lucius will not admonish his son.

However, Lucius was most displeased - yes, he was displeased, but not angered - when Blaise had Portkey-ed to the Malfoy Manor and told him about the Love Potion he believed Potter had forced Draco to drink.

The smirk widened slightly. The fool to think of such thing. Love Potion would work when one mixes it with another liquid substance or disguises it as a drink, but if the potion is to force down someone's throat, it will become fatal to whom that made it. That was a side-effect of the Potion.

No, Potter did not force Draco to drink anything, and no magic was used at all. Draco, it seemed, has fallen for The Enemy.

Now, this could prove very hard for a man of great importance and pride like Lucius Malfoy, as his only heir was supposed to marry a woman and produce a new heir to continue their bloodline, and one would suppose the father will be angry, but Lucius was not. He was displeased, and yet satisfied.

Blaise's information was nothing new to him, really, for Artemis has already provided him with everything he needed to know - long before Draco was able to figure out his feelings... long enough for Lucius to develop a plan to destroy the Boy-Who-Lived once and for all.

And Blaise had helped, of course. Under the Imperius the boy could do nothing but to obey him, and obeyed Lucius Blaise did.

He succeeded his task, therefore making Draco poison Harry Potter without even realizing it, and now, bringing his son back to the Malfoy Manor willingly, without Lucius putting in any effort to take his son out of school. Dumbledore was more blind and foolish than Lucius thought he was.

"Master, it is time," a deep voice rolled to Lucius's ears in a breathy whisper, as if a serpent was hissing.

Lucius stood and turned around, smiling in amusement. "Of course, Artemis, let us attend to greet my son of his homecoming."

Artemis's eyes flashed red as she exited with Lucius wordlessly.

The clouds shifted in the sky, letting the moon out and allowing the light to pass through the window.

The dull glimmer rested on the spot next to Lucius's desk, revealing a horror-stricken, dead face of Blaise Zabini.

P.a.R.t.T.h.I.r.T.y.F.i.V.e.D.o.N.e

Harry stood there, upon the vast darkness that seemed to be endless, like the universe, except that there was no light visible.

"Hello, Harry."

Harry could only stare across from himself, speechless, as his own image gazed back at him coolly, a smirk splattered on his face.

It was impossible, Harry thought desperately, silently watching as his self came closer, every step measured and light, careless yet planned.

"Oh, I assure you, Harry, it is very much possible," Harry's self said, smirking widely.

Harry, instinctively, took a step backwards. The duplicate raised an eyebrow questioningly, and then understanding flickered in his eyes. "You're afraid of me, aren't you?"

Harry didn't answer, remaining muted and staring at himself. This was completely insane! How could he be right there when he was... right here? Was this the poison's work? Could he be dreaming? Or was this a trickery of mind?

"Hmm, you're most certainly not dreaming, and your mind's not playing trick on you, either," the duplicated version of Harry said thoughtfully. "The poison didn't do this. It simply paralyzes your body and drinks your energy until you're dry and wasting away your body." Those green eyes were dark with red rimmed around them. "And as for you, I am you, of course. The Dark you."

His legs suddenly shook, and he slid down to his knees, eyes never leaving himself. It was then that Harry saw the differences between them. The Harry standing has deeper green eyes that reflected like the color of blood. His cheeks were hollow and his mouth twisted into a terrible smirk that was so much like... the Draco he once knew. He was wearing Hogwarts robes, too, but the badge was... of Slytherin.

Harry's eyes widened. No, this couldn't be true... he thought he had left it all behind when he was sorted into Gryffindor. How could there be a darker side of himself? There was no way it could be possible. He wasn't evil. He was harmless...

"Harmless?" The Dark Harry mused. "I vaguely have a recollection of someone's evil thought wanting to kill Lucius Malfoy. Wasn't it just a few months ago? When Severus nearly died?"

It was for protection, Harry thought weakly, and I was not aware of myself doing it. I wouldn't have...

"Wouldn't you?" Dark Harry challenged, his eyes held Harry's firmly. "You must have known of the reason why, did you?" Harry wanted to cover his ears, to block out that voice, but it was echoing in his mind, too, each and every word was the unmistakable truth. "Of course you do. You were just too afraid to admit it, therefore your mind shut the truth from you. And they praise you as a hero." The eyes flashed, and for a moment, Harry was reminded of Tom Riddle.

"There is a darker side to everyone, every living being, and every nonliving being. People think they're good, innocent, evil-less, but have you ever thought of why people fight? Wars, deaths, killings, violence - where do they all come from? The darker side of yourself, of course. Hatred is part of your Darker Side. Muggles can only kill and hurt, but wizards," Dark Harry's eyes were now slits of red, "we can do worst." The icy whisper chilled Harry to the depths of his soul.

"You triggered your Darker Side, Harry," the duplicate said, "or more specifically named, me. You were the one who released me and allowed me to collect your power - the power that feeds on hatred, violence, the want to hurt and kill. Those, of course, qualified in your condition, and therefore, enable me to release my power in the form of fire: the most powerful and deathly form of Darkness."

Dark Harry glanced down at him carelessly, seeming disgusted. "Look at yourself. You're a weakling, nothing more but a mere Muggle with magical powers. What a waste that the strong bloodline was passed down to such weak-hearted fool like yourself!"

Anger formed slowly in the pit of his stomach as green fire burst in his eyes, darkening like the Forbidden Forest blending into the night, and he spoke for the first time, "I may be a weakling, but at least I'm not a foul and vile creature such as you!"

A humorless smile graced the other's face. "That may be so, but don't forget, Harry, I am a part of you. You created me. If it wasn't because of you I wouldn't be existing, so I guess I owe that to you." He did a small bow, his eyes grinning mockingly at him, his action taunting, as if trying to incite a suppressed darkness inside him, trying to rise that burning acidic form that was hidden within...

Harry jerked back. How dare you! He thought angrily.

Dark Harry straightened himself, shrugging. "So you see through my game." Another hateful glance. "But that is expected from one that has escaped the most powerful wizard in century."

"Dumbledore is the greatest wizard in century," Harry gritted through his teeth, positively livid.

"Without the courage to act on his greatness where it is better used," Dark Harry retorted. "Dumbledore may be the best wizard, but he is a fool. He cares far too much to be able to achieve something greater, and that is his weakness."

"Love and affection are what that make us different and stronger than you," Harry said, not backing down.

"No, they are what taking you down to your knees," Dark Harry replied swiftly and coldly. "They blind you and misguide you, hurt you and kill you." His eyes were now as black as coal as they bored down to him emotionlessly. "Or haven't you noticed?"

The words shocked Harry into silence. His eyes darted around, as if expecting the hateful truths to jump out and wrap their slimy, foul hands around him. His Dark Side noticed his uneasiness, and smiled. "So you did. You know very well that when you decided to be with him, you have put your life in danger. You allowed that to happen," he sounded quite disgusted at this. "Putting me in the face of death, you unthoughtful brat."

Harry glared, resentment clearly shown in his eyes. "I love him," Harry said, knowing and understanding wholly every word he was saying.

"And you decided to show your love to him with lies." Again that triumphant smirk appeared, and Harry hated it so much he just wanted to rip that mouth - his own mouth - into little pieces of skin. Dark Harry smirked even more, eyes blazing with a greedy spark and an evil that resembled so much of Voldemort. "Is that how the great hero of the wizarding world shows his love? By pouring lies?"

Harry didn't say anything - he didn't answer, because he knew that the Darker Side spoke truth, and he has no excuse for himself. He did lie to Draco, and guilt has been haunting his mind ever since.

"Where has that Gryffindor bravery gone to?" Dark Harry mocked, causing the bitterness inside Harry to rise to surface. "When have you become uncertain of yourself and your judgment?"

Harry refused to speak, knowing that nothing he said will contradict him, because it was his own self who was speaking to him, and no one knew him better than himself. "You didn't want him to know you've gotten back your memories, afraid that he's going to leave you, aren't you? You think he only loves the obedient, clueless little Potter who couldn't even take care of his own self and going around acting like a child when he's almost a grown man?"

Yes, Harry admitted quietly, trembling from the inner turmoil that was trying to shred him apart. I love him, I don't want him to leave me.

"Harry, Harry," Darker Side said in a voice of mock sadness, "you little fool. Do you really thinks he truly loved you? He's only playing you, playing you into death."

Harry's head snapped up, disbelief flashed in his eyes. "You're lying," he whispered.

"He was the one who poisoned you," Dark Harry said shortly, his tone vicious and cruel. "His poison-stained hand touched your wound, paralyzing you, and now you're dying from it."

"Draco would never hurt me!" Harry argued heatedly, the painful fact refused to seep in.

"Wouldn't he? Do you truly know what he's thinking, what he's planning for you, Harry? Who knows, maybe he's plotting something to bring you to Voldemort. He's just like his father, you know? All he wants is power, and he will stop at nothing to get it."

"NO!" Harry shouted angrily, hands covering his ears even though he knew it was useless. "He's different! He's changed!"

"Did he really? You know he's a better actor than anyone else. You wouldn't know if he's honest or just plain lying," Dark Harry was merciless in his words as he advanced on Harry, towering over him like a shadow that was about to consume the little boy.

"He saved me," Harry whispered in anguish, his eyes pleading - begging for his other self to stop talking.

"Perhaps that is so, but perhaps it's a part of the greater scheme he has behind his sleeve to get you to Voldemort," Dark Harry said, completely ignoring the pleads. "He doesn't love you, why don't you just face reality?"

Cold fingers tilted his chin upwards and he stared into bottomless pits of red and black. "No one will approve of this relationship. You see the way your friends looked at you, the way your godfather looked at you when you told them. They will try to break you both apart, and they will succeed." The satisfied smile spread out across the tan face, seeing that his goal was half way completed. The boy was falling into his trap.

"Draco won't leave me," Harry murmured when his mind was half covered with doubts, lies mingling with the truths, leaving him confused and lost.

"He has to," Dark Harry said shortly. "He is too much of a coward to leave his father and face the consequences. He will join Voldemort, Harry, like we all expect, and you will have to fight him on the battle field. And if even then you still aren't convinced, his thoughtless spell will break your mind and shatter your heart, and along with it taking your life."

Harry's eyes slowly closed as the shadows thronged around him, reaching out, pulling him, their breaths felt evil like those of the Dementors as they got closer.

"Let go, Harry, then you will feel better." Words ghosted across his mind faintly, intoxicating him, drunken him in its sweet scent, and the option seemed so tempting...

Harry's eyes snapped open, dark and blank, and as quick as lightning his hands shot up to wrap around the other's throat.

P.a.R.t.T.h.I.r.T.y.S.i.X.d.O.n.E

Hermione didn't leave Harry's side. She stayed by him, both her hands wrapped around his bony one with such fragility as if it would break. Ron was not so far away, standing there looking out the open window, his face passive, his stance rigid. It was cold, and the night wind flapped into the infirmary, biting sharply into his skin, but even so, he still did not move.

Hermione raised a hand and gently wiped away a small drop of sweat, her eyes almost empty with feelings, red and swollen from tears. She wished Draco would come back soon, bringing the cure with him and save Harry like he did before.

Snape was here a few hours before, telling them in his crisp and sneering voice that Draco left to go to the Malfoy Manor. All Hermione could do was nodding her thanks to him, but Ron was angry, and had tried to hurt Snape because of his cold disdain towards Harry when he was lying there, seeming broken.

Dead.

Hermione had to restrain him, and Snape awarded his violence with a week of detention, but Ron was too angry to care. She didn't blame Ron, however, because she knew much of his stress was caused by his best friend being near death and all.

After that, they had gone back to their original places, Hermione next to Harry and Ron looking out into the vast sky.

Hermione stopped crying sometime ago, finding that her tears wouldn't flow, and then, she resolved to thinking.

She thought about her first day here at Hogwarts, awed and friendless. She thought about Ron, saying horrible things to her because she was smart and he was made a fool in front of the whole Charms class. She thought about Harry, with his care-free smile and innocent laugh.

But that was back then, when they were eleven and knew too little about reality and death, living in their own fantasies and dreams. Now... now all she could think of was Harry and the painful future that will be if Draco chose to leave him.

Hermione closed her eyes, tired and restless. She loved Harry, like a sister loving her brother, like a mother to her child, like a friend to a friend. She thought about it many times before, wondering why she loved him and what was there to love. She didn't know the answer, but whenever she was with Harry, she just knew the special, magical feeling that made her so protective of him. She knew Harry didn't need to be protect, having being alone perfectly fine for years, not to mention facing the most powerful of Dark wizards in centuries, but still, she felt that if she didn't love Harry - wasn't possessive of him - then no one else will.

She was proven to be wrong, however, and Hermione was glad, for once, to be wrong.

At first, when Harry told her that he liked Draco Malfoy, she was very much disturbed. Well, who wouldn't be? The Great, Famous Harry Potter of the wizarding world liked Draco Malfoy, his hated rival whose father was a Death Eater and Voldemort's right hand man. If she had told anyone they'd have laughed at her. Hermione thought that it was just the loss of memories that brought him the confused intimating feeling, but as she watched Harry, observed him as days passed, she realized that it wasn't so.

The way Harry looked at Draco, his rapt attention to every movement, word, look; his lingering gazes and dazed, dreamy expression told her many things that she has misplaced before, where it was buried within the pits of hatred.

How could she have been so stupid - so blind not to see the intense sparks that burst from their eyes whenever they looked at each other? How could she not see the way their actions spoke clearly than what the eyes see? Why didn't she see it?

Then what? What would she do if she had realized it before? Try to prevent what has been sleeping at depths of their hearts from happening? Letting Harry know about his feelings? Or go and tell other people? What good would it do if she were to comprehend it?

Nothing.

It was best to leave things the way they are, because they will naturally come to place and result in a final, blissful ending.

Hermione looked at Harry's sleeping face, the hollow of his cheeks and the dark marks under his eyes.

Was this the deserved ending for them both?

Or was this just the beginning of a hopeless love in the darkest hours of night?

P.a.R.t.T.h.I.r.T.y.S.i.X.d.O.n.E

The wind bit his skin mercilessly as he listened to the howls of mysterious creatures outside the castle, mixed with the dreadful silence of the infirmary.

It was cold, yes, to the point where one would have frozen to death, but with the burning heat of anger and deep, agonizing emotions running high in his veins, it was hard to feel anything physically at all.

The Forbidden Forest faced him, a stretch of black and green hunched together, and spurt from within it were many terrible echoes that corrupted the minds of innocence.

Ron used to be really afraid of the Forbidden Forest, with its frightful darkness and unknown enemies, hiding, waiting for the moment when his vulnerability was exposed and open for their dark, ruthless attacks.

Now, the thing that he was afraid the most was losing Harry.

Harry has always been like a little brother to Ron, despite the fact that he'd never expressed his feelings. He has known the brave green-eyed boy for such a long time now that it would be so very excruciating and unbelievable if he was gone from the world.

No, Ron thought grimly and stubbornly, Harry would be alright. That Malfoy would come back with the cure, otherwise I'll kill him with my own hands.

The thought was weak without conviction, and Ron sighed, leaning towards the sky above. He'd never felt more helpless and angry in his life. Watching his best friend, the one that had held everyone's spirit up and smiled encouragingly in the darkest hour, now wilting away like the last leave of autumn about to fall, crumbling onto the brown earth and letting go of its forever remembered beauty.

There was once, in their sixth year, when Harry was badly injured after a Quidditch game against the Slytherins, and had to stay in the infirmary for a week. Ron had visited Harry, and saw the state his best friend was in. Madame Pomfrey informed them that Harry had three ribs broken, his arm dislocated, a deep bruise that was cut almost to the bone on his right thigh, and a bad hit on the head because of the fall.

At that time, Harry looked very broken, like a doll, and Ron wanted to cry for his friend, but he couldn't, because Hermione was already very distraught, and he had to be strong for both of them.

They had stayed overnight, since Madame Pomfrey couldn't remove them from their spots, so Professor Dumbledore decided to bend the rule a little. Hermione was long asleep, her head resting on his shoulder, but Ron had stayed awake, looking at Harry. He had thought that Harry wouldn't wake up, but Harry did.

Harry had opened his eyes and smiled at Ron in that tired, determined, Harry-ish way, and said, "I bet you were worrying about me, aren't you? Well, don't you worry, there's no way I'm going to die a virgin."

Ron could only stare at Harry then, wondering in disbelief how Harry could just laugh at death like that, and he realized...

He realized that Harry was fighting, and even though hope seemed very thin and far, it didn't matter. All that mattered was that he must fight until his last breath was drawn.

But now Harry didn't wake up. He didn't open his eyes. He didn't smile and he didn't move. He couldn't reassure Ron that he would be okay. He didn't... he couldn't...

Ron's shoulders shook violently, and his shaky hand raised to press against his face. He truly didn't know what he could do. He didn't even know if that Malfoy would really going to save Harry, or would he leave Harry here to die. Malfoy wasn't trustworthy... yet he was the one who could prevent Harry's death, so Ron had to leave the matter in that... that... snake's hands.

There was no other choice.

Ron closed his eyes, and hoped for the best.

P.a.R.t.T.h.I.r.T.y.S.e.V.e.N.d.O.n.E

Shadows crept across the walls, gently watching the Malfoy heir in their own, silent way. Draco moved about like a cat, graceful and quiet as he scanned each shelf, looking for the one that labeled Poisonous Insects and Plants. It didn't take long, and soon Draco was gathering whichever books that seemed the most likely to have a color chart in it and made way over to the window. There, under the sickly colored moonlight, Draco flipped open the book and scanned the index. The bottle of blood held in one hand, he checked for the color. None matched, and Draco moved on to the next one. It wasn't long until Draco finished shifting through his chosen books, and to his frustration, not one of the colors in all the charts corresponded to the blood in the vial.

Determined and unfazed, Draco continued to search the bookshelf, his heart pounding in his ear so loud that he nearly missed the short, whispered words snaking through the air.

"Welcome home, Draco."

The blood ran cold in his body, and Draco stood there for a long moment, paralyzed by fear.

Eventually Draco's mouth began to work, and he managed to croak out, "Hello, father," before turning around to face the dark figure of Lucius Malfoy.

----*** I wanted to stop right here, but then that would be too cruel, wouldn't it?;) ***----

Lucius looked just like the last time Draco saw him: pale figure against stark darkness, giving him an ethereal glow. Long, tidy blond hair flowing about his shoulders, and the hard, frosted silver eyes that pierced through his soul. This was his father, Lucius Malfoy.

Draco held his ground, all kinds of thoughts and ideas came to his mind. Should he run? Should he say something to cover up the real reason why he was here? But before he could say anything, Lucius had spoken.

"This is quite a pleasant surprise, Draco, I wasn't expecting you."

Draco felt a moment of hesitation taking hold of him. Could it be that his father did not know of his intention? But no, Draco argued with himself, there was no way he couldn't know. Blaise must have told him everything. Anger surged in him. The traitor.

With a rush of courage that burst in him so suddenly that he was surprised, Draco answered his father with the complete truth, "I'm here to get the cure for the poison."

Lucius looked mildly surprised, but his expression did not darken, nor did he show any sign of anger. "The cure for the poison?" he wondered mockingly. "Now, what poison could you be talking about?"

Draco clenched his fists, willing down his rising anger. His father was ridiculing him, and he hated it. "You know exactly what I'm talking about, father," he grounded out, his gray eyes now a shade of silver under the moonlight. "I know you used Blaise to poison Harry."

The amusement in Lucius' eyes was lost as quick as a flame flickering out of life. A numbed chill spread in Draco's heart unexpectedly, and he watched as his father took a step closer. "Harry," Lucius repeated, the word rolling off his tongue slowly, as if he couldn't believe what his son was saying. "You called him Harry." Lucius stared down at Draco, and in the dim like, he looked like a creature of the dark, powerful and frightening.

Panic took over him, and Draco wondered briefly how he could even think about defying his father, of all people. Then, self-hatred replaced his fear, and Draco questioned himself, again, why he kept making his decision just to be inundated over by fear.

That was cowardice. That was him, and Draco hated it, hated it so much. He hated it to be a part of him, and he was determined to get rid of it. Even if this killed him, even if he was to die here and never see Harry again, he at least knew that he has a purpose, and that purpose was not chosen by anyone else but himself.

"Yes, I called him Harry," Draco replied calmly, mind and heart as blank as a sheet of paper, "because I love him."

Lucius' eyes flashed, and without time to think Draco found his father's staff pressed against his throat, the open mouth of the serpent digging deeply into his tender skin. Then, Lucius dragged the head of the serpent up to Draco's neck, the sharp fangs pierced his skin apart and left a trail of blood to flow down to his dark cloak. Lucius tilted Draco's head up, and the blond stared at his father squarely in the eyes, his own held no fear nor submission. No, he was looking at his father with defiance and will.

Lucius held eyes with his son for a long time, but Draco refused to turn away, and the older man's patience broke.

With a cry Draco fell back, his head colliding with the leg of the table, shaking it and flinging the books on the table to fly down to the floor. A stabbing pain blurred his vision momentarily, and Draco shook it away, ignoring the warm blood streaming down his face. Pulling himself together, Draco made to stand up, but another blow across his shoulder sent him sprawling on the cold floor.

Draco whipped his head round, glaring at the man he called father.

"If you were not the Malfoy's only heir, I will not hesitate to kill you right now," Lucius said perniciously.

Malfoy's only heir...

Deafness washed over him for a little while, and with much effort Draco croaked out, "Is that all I am to you?" Why was his voice so shaky? Why was there a blurring pain behind his eyes? "Just someone who will carry on the family's name?"

Lucius sneered disgustedly. "It looks a bit doubtful now, as you're in love with Harry."

The words rolled in his mind as if anaesthesia had taken hold of him. All this time, his father only saw him as a tool, someone who would produce a heir and bring forth the next generation of the Malfoys'. Draco suddenly felt exposed and alone, and an urge to laugh rose in his throat.

How ironic. Ever since he was little he had looked up to his father, wanting to be everything like him, believing his words and actions were for Draco's own goods, never doubting for one minute his father cared for him.

Draco'd never felt more stupid in his life, or more angry.

Coolly he stood up, dusting his robes as if he had all the time in the world, then looked directly at his father. "You're right, I won't carry on the family's name. I'm going to live with Harry until I die."

Lucius smirked. "Don't count on it, boy, because you won't be leaving this place any time soon. At least, not until I make sure Potter is dead."

Draco's eyes turned black. "Then go ahead and try."

P.a.R.t.T.h.I.r.T.y.E.i.G.h.T.d.O.n.E

The dungeon was cold, as always, and dark. The empty hallway was robbed of all lights, and even though it was daytime, not even the largest window could bring some ray of sunlight down to this dungeon, not that the place has any window.

On the right, third corridor down, a door to a small room was left slight ajar, revealing a dim lit interior.

Next to the door, a large shelf was placed, holding all kinds of jars and vials of different species' limbs, or, for great displeasure to the eyes, interior organs.

On the other side of the door, two bookshelves stood against each other, complete of books about potions and healing plants, as well as some other books on dangerous ingredients and their uses. A large portion of books on the second shelf was missing, and they were found on the wooden desk, opened and scattered messily over the surface.

A glowing light hung on the air as if by magic, and peering over the books under it was a man clad in black robes, dark hair falling over his face as he flipped through the book and rereading everything he'd memorized from many years of Potions study.

This was Severus Snape, the Potions Master.

Another book was cast aside and he continued with, once again, his next book, but that proved to be useless, and so did the next one and the one after that. Soon, Severus grew frustrated, and with a growl he pushed his texts away, letting them fall to the floor heedlessly. He had spent all his time researching all the books he'd read countless times before to see if he had misplaced something and if it would help to cure Potter, but his effort seemed, so far, to be in vain. He was tired, stretched to the point he couldn't even close his eyes even though his mind was screaming in demand for some sleep. Severus could take this, after all, it wasn't his first time staying awake for three days straight.

Draco had left yesterday afternoon, and it was nearly lunch time now, yet the blond was no where to be seen. Severus' troubled mind was now coming up with possible threats of what'd happened his favorite student as well as godson, and the greater possibility of what would occur if Draco did not come back.

There wasn't just two lives they were dealing with here, it was lives of thousands people over the world hanging in the balance if Potter died. It was another worry altogether, one which none of whom that knew about the Prophecy could forget. This was Potter's final year at Hogwarts. 'The year that will decide all,' as Severus used to sarcastically commented. Now he couldn't think of a more fitting description.

Only one will come out of this year victorious, and Severus' hope on Potter grew dim as time seemed to fly by quicker than he could have imagined. Voldemort was gaining more followers and his power was growing powerful as days passed. The throbbing of the Dark Mark would never let him forget that, a bitter memory of his rash choice, decided out of anger, hatred, and pain, all of which that brought him to his many rues in his later days.

He could only hope those blasted emotions wouldn't bring Draco down like they did to him.

Severus knew the boy well. He knew Draco was capable of achieving something greater than what his father had laid out for him, and he also knew that Draco loved his father more than anyone in this world, his main weakness. Severus couldn't tell Draco the truth about Lucius, because the boy would not listen, and it may caused an awkwardness between them, something Severus would not risk. Draco was the closest he had to a family, and not even death could tear him away from the blond. He vowed to protect his godson until he'd drawn his last breath, and he would live up to that promise.

And yet, even now, he was stupid enough to allow Draco to step into the lion's den himself, without protection or trustworthy companion.

What, exactly, had driven him to let Draco go like that? Severus wondered heatedly. There was no way Draco could make out of the Malfoy Manor alive. Artemis Lovegood was not someone to trust, despite her innocent, carefree appearance.

Severus knew her ever since she was a little girl. Even though coming from a family of Gryffindors, Artemis was sorted into Slytherin and associated with the Malfoys when she was at least eight years old. It wasn't clear as to how she came to be friends with Draco, or how she was even permitted in the Malfoy Manor in the first place, but ever since she was little, she was as quiet and cunning as any Slytherin should be. Although that was the case, she had never joined with the other housemates in their scheming against the Gryffindors. There was something about her, the dangerous air and dark gaze she possessed that deceived and lured all into her trap. Artemis was a girl of destruction, and Severus had let Draco walk into his destruction himself.

Even so, he knew the real reason why he let Draco go. It was apparent that the boy wanted to save Potter, like he did once, months ago. He wasn't sure why Draco was so set on doing just that, but Draco was not someone who acted rashly for no good reason.

And what was Draco's definition of a good reason for walking right into death and defying his father? It couldn't be that he suddenly decided to renounce his loyalty and join the Orders, because Draco was under his father's power of manipulation for years, so the other reason, once again, was Potter.

He couldn't think of a good explanation as to why Draco would want to save the boy. They had been bitter rivals for years, Severus knew, and Draco hated Potter with a passion beyond their comprehension. Why the change? Why now? What could Draco achieve by saving Potter? Was this another ingenious plot by Lucius Malfoy? But no, it couldn't be, for all that Draco was, he couldn't lie to Severus if his life depended on it. Then, it must be the matter of the heart. Something in his mind clicked into place, and Severus cursed.

Of course, it was so apparent. Severus saw the change in Draco's look, ever since last year, even though the boy didn't realize it yet. The slight glance he would give Potter whenever they were in the same room, the mistaken hatred in his voice during one of their verbal fights. It was impossible, unimaginable that the son of Lucius Malfoy has fallen for his family's enemy, the enemy of Voldemort, and now he was risking his life for it.

Severus found himself, once again, wishing that his cover had not been blown and he was still one of Voldemort's so-called faithful servant. At least then he would have a good reason to visit the Malfoy Manor and somehow help Draco into getting what he wanted.

A shudder breath escaped his lips, and Severus, for the first time in ages, felt a sting behind his eyes. It took him a while to realize what it was, and when he did, anger replaced confusion. Shutting his eyes tight he told himself over and over that this was not the time to despair. There was hope left. If he went to Dumbledore now, perhaps something could be gain through all these foolish acts.

Determined and grim, Severus stood up and made way to the door. He had delayed too long, now was the time to take action.

It was at that very moment that the air shifted, and a soundly 'thud' was heard.

Spinning around at the direction of the sound Severus' hand grabbed his wand, lying under his robes. But when his eyes fell on the other figure in the room, he dropped his wand, and all coherent thought was gone.

Draco, broken and bleeding, lay there under the fading light, his dull, lifeless eyes staring up at him. Severus watched, unable to move, as Draco's cracked and dry lips opened, and his mouth formed the raspy words "I failed."

P.a.R.t.T.h.I.r.T.y.N.i.n.E.D.o.N.e

c h a p t e r . S I X . e n d...

* to be continued in chapter 7 - the regret *

* * *

A/N: Finally! After a really long and hard work of getting rid of my writer's block, I am finished with this chapter! This, I must say, is probably the hardest chapter I've written so far. I spent numerous of time mulling over what to write about Hermione and Ron's thoughts, and also what Lucius is plotting. Unfortunately, this story is going to fall into the Angst Pit. Yes, the most horrifying thing ever is about to happen! Although, once again, it will have a happy ending, with Draco and Harry living happily ever after with lots of kids like angels... er... maybe not the last part, but don't you just wish it will turn out like that, though?

Anyway, many apologies and flowers to Blaise-lovers, but it was relevant, because his death plays an important part into saving Harry. Sorry!

Sadly to say, there are about three chapters left until the end, and I thank all of you who's been supporting MoM. I am terribly sorry if there's any mistake in the information or grammar or spelling. I hope you enjoy this chapter and do leave me a comment, criticism, or a yelling (for whatever thing that you don't like about this fic.) A writer do love to know if her work is appreciated or not. Love to all *hugs*