Author's Notes: I have no idea if this idea has ever been done before. If it has, I'm sorry. I did not steal any plot from anybody. This was a spur-of-the-moment idea. I hope you guys like it!
Disclaimer: Nope, not mine. Darn it!
It was coming for him.
The wind whispered it as it caressed his face, its touch cold, its voice a melody of dreams unfulfilled and shattered lives.
The trees echoed it as he ran, and ran, his feet fuelled by adrenaline that fear lent to mortals like him. He was afraid, that he could admit. In the deepest, darkest, most secret corners of his heart, his fear lurked, snapping and clawing at anything that came close. But he would die before he showed that he was afraid.
Because a Malfoy is never afraid.
He stumbled once, and cursed the large root protruding from the ground that he had not seen. He staggered back to his feet, and hissed under his breath as almost unbearable pain lanced up from his foot to his thigh. An ordinary person would have fallen from the pain, an ordinary person would have cried.
He was a Malfoy.
Cry, and he would damn himself.
Fall, and he would rise again, stronger, fiercer.
He gazed dispassionately at his mangled leg; Apparently, the tree's root had done more damage to it that he had previously thought, and it now failed to support him. Without missing a beat, he reached up blindly in the inky darkness, and, taking a hold of the rather sturdy overhanging branch above him and pulled himself upright.
And then he felt it.
The unnatural cold, foul and clammy, reaching towards him with its skeletal hands, enveloping him in a dark caress. The air suddenly held a chill that seemed to penetrate his skin and his bones, and against his will, a shudder escaped him.
They had come.
Idly, he took out his wand from his pocket and drew his cloak tighter around his shoulders. His heart was pounding, but there was no evidence of it in the dispassionate, impassive, almost bored set of his face as he studied the foul creatures that had been sent after him.
"Dementors as usual," he said with a slight grin curving his pale lips. He shrugged easily, and spoke again, not caring that conversation really wasn't apt in situations such as the one where he was in currently, "Really now. Can't the Dark Lord ever send me some of his Inner Circle Death Eaters?" He pushed himself away from the tree where he leaned on, determined to stand as he faced against the Voldemort's assassins. "He can't say that I'm not worth it, after all, I'm a bloody traitor, aren't I?" he whispered savagely, a snarl contorting his face.
But, as expected, the Dementors didn't respond. They simply advanced on him, an exact dozen, all with outstretched scaly, skeletal hands and dark shadows under their hoods. The breeze that had been blowing just a minute ago through the clearing had stilled, and the stars that had been burning brightly before in the dark sky had vanished, leaving nothing but a chill that could freeze the heart.
The blow hit him when they came within five feet of him; it wasn't physical, no, it was worse than that. In that one, agonizingly painful second when the Dementors raised their hooded faces to him and stared, he was bombarded by the memories that he for so long tried to forget, tried to bury within his mind: The first attack against Hogwarts, on his graduation, where, for the first time, he had clearly seen the heartlessness of the Dark Lord he had for so long worshipped; his own father's attempt to kill him, when word of his transfer to the Good Side had exploded; Malfoy Manor, and his mother inside it, burning to the ground…
He surprised the Dementors when he looked up, eyes gleaming with silver fire, flashing in the moonlight. He had fought against the memories, and he had won. He raised his wand triumphantly, aiming it at his silent assailants. He savored the moment, knowing he had beaten them, but a nagging part of his mind refused to quiet, shouting at him to get it over and done with, for the worst was just to come…
And it did. As one, the Dementors glided closer and his vision darkened. Nausea and bile rose up in his throat, and he barely suppressed the urge to vomit, but it was when one skeletal hand clutched at his shoulder that he was brought to his knees, brought to his knees when he saw her face in his mind's eye.
No, no, a small voice protested within him. Ginevra Weasley Malfoy, the voice whispered, and he mouthed it, and it felt so right against his lips that he wanted to smile.
But the memory wasn't a happy one; Vaguely, he could feel his elbows scraping against the rough rocks on which he knelt as the memory assaulted him: Ginny, in flowing robes of perfect, perfect white as she walked past her furiously shocked family to stand by his side; Ginny, innocence and love shining in her eyes reaching out to take his hand in hers; Ginny, falling down, shielding him from the curse that had been sent his way by a wayward wand, slumping down on top of him, her robes stained a deep, dark red as she blocked another curse meant for him, her long, wine-red locks swirling around her face and his like a shield as all around them, pandemonium erupted at the surprise attack of the Dark Lord's followers.
He saw her clearly, his eyes only for her, as she supported her body with trembling arms, raising her torso carefully so that her body was perfectly parallel with his, and even as his widened at the river of red trickling from her back to her chest, she was lowering herself down, lowering herself to him, and it was when the memory of the last, dying kiss that she had given him erupted that he screamed, screamed, for once not afraid to let the world hear what he felt.
The Dementors drew away from him, and had he been more lucid, he would have been surprised at the fear that dogged their heels as they backed away a fair couple of steps away from him. Still he screamed, his body trembling, hands clenched and shaking, tears pouring from his eyes freely… It was a scream of pain, of longing, of anger, such violent anger that the whole forest shook with it, and quieted, respecting the obvious agony of the mortal that they solemnly watched.
His throat was hoarse when he stopped screaming, though the sound still echoed again and again, bouncing from tree to tree and rock to rock in the forest, and as he raised his eyes, the light in them gleamed even more brightly than before, two flickering flames against a face so beautiful it would have made the angels weep.
Raising his wand, his arm outstretched and rock-steady, he closed his eyes, ignoring the alarm bells that rang in his mind and the prickling of his senses that signified the nearing of the Dementors. They would give him the Kiss this time, sucking his soul out without remorse, without conscience; still, he ignored them, drawing, reaching into his soul to find the peace that only she had given him, and forcibly dragging it to the surface of his mind.
And he saw her.
She stood by the Great Lake of Hogwarts, her long, beautiful hair blowing insanely with the wind, floating around her face, a cloud of luxurious red that lent a warmth to his heart that he never known. Her eyes, the warm, comforting brown of dark chocolate, twinkled at him, her nose crinkling delightfully as she called out a laughing remark that was lost to the wind.
It was when she reached out both hands to him, and smiled that beckoning, engaging smile that he could never get enough of that he snapped, and ignoring the deadly cold that was dragging at him, he returned her smile in his mind. Soon, he whispered to her. Soon.
And he was back in the clearing, and the Dementors were no more than two steps away from him. His eyes were clear, and they hardened into steel as, keeping the memory of her smile, her smile in his mind and his heart, he roared out for the whole forest to hear…
A blinding silver light erupted from the tip of his wand, rushing towards the Dementors, chasing away the lingering darkness that lurked in the secret corners of the forest. They rushed away, silent as ever, and yet, he could imagine their inhuman shrieks of fury as they glided away from him. But the Dragon, his Dragon, was relentless, and with a silent roar of glorious, magnificent fury, it rushed at the soul-stealers.
He staggered backwards, allowing his Patronus to do the trick, falling bonelessly in a heap against the trunk of the tree that he had tripped over earlier. Looking up at the stars, breathing hard at the strain that casting the Patronus Charm had given him, as well as the fatigue of several days fighting, he recalled Ginny's excited face the first time he had successfully cast his Patronus. A dragon, the largest, Remus Lupin informed him, since the whale that the legendary Merlin could produce.
He allowed himself a few more seconds to remember her face and her love, and the smile that had saved him once again. He allowed himself to gaze for a few more seconds at the stars she had so loved, and a few more seconds to remain inside the heart of the forest, with the trees and earth that she had so treasured.
But then an explosion rocked the ground, and when he stood up, gingerly, cursing himself for the Healing Charm that he had forgotten and Hogwarts for its Anti-Apparition Spells, and then hardened his features once more to set out for the castle.
Out there, he knew the War raged on. The War that would be remembered for all time. And he was proud to say that for the first time, a Malfoy was fighting on the side that was right.
Just before he ducked back under the cover of the trees, he glanced at the twinkling stars, and kissed the small, silver cross that Ginny had given him.
"Soon, Ginny," he vowed, a promise that she herself had given to him.
And he allowed himself to sink once more into the darkness.
He never did hear the loving whisper of the wind as it blew gently, softly through the clearing. I love you.
I love you.