Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters, classes, items, and past experiences belong solely to the wonderful J.K. Rowling.
Author's Notes: This is a ONE-SHOT, so please don't ask for another chapter. I honestly can't say really where the idea came from. I was sitting in band class, playing a part in 'Variations on a Korean Folksong' when it popped into my head. So, without further ado, please read and enjoy! Oh, and reviews are very much appreciated and cherished.
You used to be my idol. My hero. The person I could always look up to and be proud of. Often, I'd curl up in bed, dreaming that I was you; powerful and confident. That I would someday be you, take over your place as the head of the family and make you proud. That's what I always wanted.
I always placed you in the highest place in my heart, the most cherished part of me. You were everything to me. I lived for you, I lived because of you. The only thing I ever wanted to do was make you proud of me; to hear those four words I've been waiting all my life for you to say. 'I'm proud of you.'
It isn't difficult. It's just four little words. For you to say them to me would finally give me the missing part in my heart. I want to know that I mean something to you; I'm not some pawn in your little game. That one day, you'll be pleased to call me your son, and smile at me, with love in your eyes.
But just a few days ago. You shattered those ideals I'd had about you, my heart breaking into pieces, my world flipping around. I had always assumed that when it came time for me to take my place among our Lord, I would decide exactly when that date would be, and what would happen. I was wrong.
Flashback, August 30th
I was lying on my bed, furiously doing the Charms homework I hadn't bothered to do over summer break. The holidays had just flown by, my days dedicated to quidditch, pouring over Dark Arts books for my coming initiation, and of course practicing some of the spells I'd found.
Father had told me that when I turned seventeen, which would be in December, I was eligible to become a Death Eater and join the honored ranks of our Lord's followers. Excited was an understatement when I learned. I was thrilled beyond imagination. To finally be one of them…it was as if my life was almost complete.
I began planning, knowing I wanted to get the Dark Mark after I graduated in my seventh year, which would be about two years from now. And because I was planning, that's why I'm currently racing through my homework, which I should have done earlier.
A few seconds later, just after I'd started on my third roll of parchment, a knock sounded at the door and one of the house elves poked his head in. "Excuse me, Master Draco," he squeaked, bowing several times. "Dipo does not mean to intrude on Master Draco, but Master Lucius requests your presence immediately."
I smirked, knowing he probably wanted to talk to me about my plans for my initiation. "I'll be right down." Nodding his large, green head, the house elf vanished with a pop and I closed my textbook. Humming beneath my breath, I descended downstairs to Father's office, hoping that maybe, just maybe, he might say he was proud of me.
Pausing outside the mahogany doors, I knocked sharply before entering, looking expectantly at Father. People often comment on how much we look alike, and I can't help but feeling the smallest sense of satisfaction, having others recognize me by my Father.
We both had a silvery blond hair, his currently tied back in a ponytail at the nape of his neck, mine hanging short with the bangs slightly over my eyes. Our skin was the same pale white, our lips the palest of pinks. But the one thing we had in common, though they differed at times were our eyes. His were a deep gray, that always seemed to bore into me like ice chips. Mine, on the other hand, were more of a bright silver that grew darker when I was angry.
"Ah, there you are Draco," he smiled, looking up from the papers on his desk. "I had something I needed to discuss with you." My heart sped up and it took all my self-control not to jump from the chair I'd seated myself in and demand the answer. "I've been in discussion with our Lord, and we both agree that your initiation ceremony will take place in two weeks, just after term."
"Don't I get to pick the date?" I asked, slightly confused.
He looked at me like I belonged in St. Mungo's. "No," he said icily. "You have no choice in when you are brought into our Lord's service. You will simply do as you are told to."
It was at that moment, I felt a small spark flame up inside me, before I squashed it so the anger wouldn't reflect in my eyes. I'm a very proud person, and don't necessarily like to take orders. I know that when I go into our Lord's service, I will be under his command, but to be listening to him before I'm even initiated?
"You will also be asked to prove your loyalty," he continued, eyes boring deep into mine before I was forced to look at my clasped hands. "Nirav Zabani has kindly offered his son for the task. Blaise, unfortunately, made the wrong decision in choosing not to come to our side, and will suffer the consequences."
Instead of feeling angry, a chill spread over me and I resisted the urge to shiver. "What exactly am I going to do to Blaise?" I queried, voice even, though inside I was beginning to feel afraid for my friend. He had been the first person to ever hold out his hand to me, and we had become friends, allies, through our five years at Hogwarts.
"Torture him first," Father sneered, eyes glimmering in pleasure. "And then you'll kill him. Nirav has assured me he doesn't care what happens. Having that boy as a son is a disgrace to the family name."
"You want me to…kill Blaise?" I whispered. Father nodded. "I can't," I said softly, raising my eyes to meet his. "I can't kill him."
"What do you mean?" Father growled, slamming his hands down on the desk.
"I can't kill Blaise," I repeated, voice growing softer. "He's my friend…"
"Being friends means nothing," Father said, leaning back in his chair. "When you are accepted into our Lord's ranks, you will not have friends, you will not have an ally. You can trust yourself and only yourself. In the real world, Draco, friendship is lower then anything possible, even worse then Mudbloods and muggles. Why? Because in friendship, it shows you have a heart, and Death Eaters do not have a heart. Are we clear?"
"No…we're not," I murmured, looking once more back down at my hands. "All I've ever wanted to do was make you proud. But having to kill my best friend for it? I…I don't know if I can."
"Don't you want to make me proud?" he said quietly, voice as smooth as silk. "Don't you want to earn my respect?"
"Yes, but I-"
"Then do it," he hissed, eyes flashing dangerously. "Kill Zabani and join me. Join me in power."
I looked up, my heart tearing in two as I uttered the words I'd probably forever regret. "I will…I'll kill Blaise Zabani."
And he smiled. He just smiled.
It's now the second day of my sixth year, and I've been avoiding Blaise since I arrived. I can't stand to look at him, knowing that in two weeks he'll be dead…and it'll be my fault. All my fault. But…I want to make Father proud. Is that such a bad thing?
Currently, I was sitting on the edge of the lake, staring into the dark blue depths, my reflection staring back up at me. The wind blew my cloak around me and my hair over my eyes, rippling the water at times and making my mirror image waver. It was Saturday, so I wasn't missing any classes, and I just felt the burning need to be alone.
Seconds later though, something thumped into my back on the breeze before trying to blow past me. Reaching out, I managed to grab onto the cloak, noticing that the Gryffindor lion was stitched on the front. Pounding footsteps sounded behind me and then slowed.
"Can I have my cloak back, Malfoy? Please?"
I recognized that voice. Perfect Mudblood Granger. Goody two-shoes, damn know-it-all. One of Dumbledore's little pets. Normally, this would have been a perfect time to taunt her, not hand her back her precious cloak. But…today I'm really not in the mood to hold an argument. I just want to be alone.
Wordlessly, I handed the garment to her, all the while staring at the lake. Her bushy, brown hair revolted me; the smile she always seemed to wear made me feel sick. And right now, I can't even stand to look at her. I felt her still standing there, eyes boring into my back, before she turned on her heel and ran back across the grounds.
I stayed by the lake until darkness began to spread from the shadows, the whole place being covered by the blackness. Rising to my feet, I quietly entered the castle and began to trek towards the Slytherin dungeons, not quite in the mood for dinner.
"Crystal serpent," I whispered, the hidden passage emerging from the stone wall. Entering, the common room, my goal was to just slip up into my dormitory unnoticed and go to sleep. I safely entered my room, miraculously avoiding everyone, and flopped onto my bed, a sigh of relief heaving through me. I'm not even quite sure how I managed to shake Crabbe and Goyle from me…they're literally stuck to my hip most of the time. I can only guess Pansy took them for the day.
"Draco?" I jerked, startled, and sat up, eyeing the person I'd been avoiding all day. Blaise was sitting on his bed, directly opposite of mine, his deep brown eyes filled with concern, his brow crinkled. "Is something wrong?"
"No, why would you think that?" I lied, easing myself into a more comfortable position against my pillows.
"You've been staying away from me all day. Every time you even see me coming, you go in the opposite direction. Did I do something?"
"Why didn't you join?" I asked softly.
"Join? Join what?"
"The Death Eaters. Why don't you want to become one?"
"I know I'm a Slytherin," he said slowly. "And I know I should join. But I can't."
"But why?" I persisted. I needed to know. Maybe I could convince him to change his mind so I wouldn't have to kill him.
"I don't want to be a murderer."
I blinked. That was it? "Killing someone isn't really that bad," I tried to explain. "We'd only be killing those who deserve to go, like all the Mudbloods." 'And you,' my mind added silently.
"But why do they deserve to die? Because of their blood, we're going to go out and kill them. Think, they're all innocent. They've never done anything but try and fit into our world. But as soon as Death Eaters decided it's time for them to die, it isn't going to just be a quick Avada Kedavra. There'll be torturing, raping, anything they can come up with. And then, maybe, just maybe, they'll give them the killing curse. But maybe they'll kill them with knives, by strangling. Why would I ever want to become a part of that?"
"But Blaise," I whispered.
"I am joining," I said, voice firm, ignoring his startled gasp. "And for my initiation I'm supposed to kill you. Please, can you change your mind?"
His expression, so strong as it had been, suddenly fell to a look of such misery before going into a mask of deadly calm. "Then kill me. Torture me. Do whatever you want. At least I won't have any blood on my hands." With that, he turned his back on me and closed his bed curtains.
"Blaise, please," I begged, going over to his bed and letting out a yelp as I touched the soft folds of cloth. "You put a bloody charm on it?" I muttered, glaring at the green curtains. "I don't want to hurt you," I whispered, being careful not to touch the cloth. "You're my friend."
"I don't want to hear anything from you, Malfoy," he spat from his bed. "If you're so insistent on saving me, why don't you instead try to save all the others you're bound to kill? Just go," he said softer, "just go, Malfoy."
I crawled back into my own bed, a sense of helplessness tearing at my heart. Mudbloods deserved to die. But Blaise…Blaise didn't. Needing to get away again, I slipped from the chamber and made my way into the darkened halls of Hogwarts, and slid down the length of one of the walls, allowing the coldness to seep into my robes.
Footsteps echoed hollowly and I realized they were approaching me. Praying it wasn't a teacher who would make me go back to my room, I sat where I was, fixing a glare for anyone about to round the corner. And out stepped Granger. This time, I couldn't help but look at her, thinking of what Blaise had said.
"You should really be in your room," she said, glaring at me. "I'll have to take ten points off of Slytherin."
"And what makes it alright for you to be out?" I asked, rising to my feet and staring down at her, happy to see her take a step backward.
"I," she said, "am currently on Prefect duty and am making sure everyone is in their common room. And don't try to take points from Gryffindor," she smirked, as if seeing the thought running in my head. "I have permission to dock points for breaking the rules, and you are currently breaking number seventy-two. I on the other hand, am breaking none."
"And what's rule seventy-two?" I sneered.
"All students are to be in their common room at the respective hour of eight p.m. unless they are either currently serving a detention, on Prefect duty, have a pass, or have had special permission to be out," she quoted, as if looking at an invisible textbook hanging in the air. "And you, Malfoy, seem to not be doing any of them."
"Then I guess I'll be going," I announced, going in the direction of the Slytherin common room.
I pivoted slowly, looking at Granger, who suddenly appeared to be nervous. "Yes?" I drawled. "I thought you wanted me to go back to my common room."
"I do…I just wanted to ask you something." I raised an eyebrow. "I…I was just wondering if you were feeling okay."
"Is the Mudblood worried about me?" I snickered, watching in satisfaction as she bristled.
"Not anymore," she snapped, turning on her heel and stalking off down the corridor. A smile playing over my lips, I went back to my dorm, my slight victory fading in glory as I looked at Blaise's bed, the curtains still drawn. Crawling into my own bed, I tried to fall asleep, though sleep wasn't easy in coming.
The next morning, I awoke feeling like I'd slept for only a minute. 'Which is probably true,' I mused, changing into a fresh set or robes. The entire night, I'd been kept wide-awake by the thoughts Blaise had planted in my head. Exiting the common room and heading down for breakfast, I took a seat between Crabbe and Goyle. Blaise, who was several feet down, ignored me and I remained strangely quiet for the meal.
As soon as I'd finished picking at my oatmeal, I excused myself and went back out to the lake. I was sitting there when I felt someone sit down next to me, and I turned, seeing Blaise. "Look," he said softly, pointing at a small group of people several yards away. "You'll be killing innocents like her."
Turning in the direction Blaise was pointing, I recognized the three figures as my worst enemies: Mudblood, Scarhead, and Weasel. Granger was walking between the two boys, her cheeks bright pink from the cold and a large smile on her face as she laughed at something one of them had said.
"Do you want to kill her?"
"Yes," I said vehemently, surprised when I felt my heart tighten at my own words.
"She's a Mudblood. They all deserve to die."
"Then go do it now."
I gave him a blank stare. "Are you mad? With Potter and Weasley there? And Dumbledore here somewhere?"
"I really don't see the big problem," he said, twirling his wand between his fingers. "When you become a Death Eater, you'll be asked to kill. You already were," he said, and I felt a wave of guilt wash over me. "What's wrong with killing Granger now? It'll only be a quick Avada Kedavra. She won't feel a thing."
"But in broad daylight?"
"What's wrong with killing in the day? It's all the same. You kill, someone dies. There'll be mourning and sadness, from that person's family, before you kill them too. It's a cycle of violence that can never be stopped. Why don't you go start it now?"
I gripped my wand tightly in my fingers, my knuckles turning white. "But I-"
"I'll make it easy for you," Blaise said, his face dead serious. "I'll just let them know you're going to kill her now, so maybe she'll have some time to actually protect herself." Jumping up to his feet, Blaise crossed the grounds to the Gryffindor trio, and I sat there, shocked, before reacting and going after him.
"You three," said Blaise, stepping in front of Granger and the others. Potter and Weasley went automatically for their wands. You never can tell what a Slytherin wants to do. "I have something to tell you."
"Blaise! Wait," I called, stepping up next to him. "Don't," I whispered threateningly, the Gryffindors now all giving us rather puzzled looks.
Ignoring me completely, Blaise continued. "I just wanted to tell Granger, that Malfoy is going to kill her. Just want to give you a heads up."
I glared at him, before turning and stalking away, anger flowing through every vein in my body. How dare he go and tell them that. I halted suddenly in my tracks as I entered the castle, the realization of what had just happened, what could have happened if I had killed her, dawning on me.
For one, I'd be a killer. Not only that, but I'd be thrown in Azkaban if I was ever caught. I'd have to live my life as a fugitive, always hiding with only my Lord to turn to. But even he wouldn't spare me a second glance. I'd just rot away in prison, wishing I'd done something different.
Two, Granger would be dead. It shouldn't bother me; after all, she is a Mudblood. But just not seeing her, everything would be different. No more of her smart-ass remarks, her always correct answers. No more of her bushy hair blocking my view in classes, no more Golden Trio. But…did I really want that?
It was just as Blaise had said. She was innocent. She had never hurt anything or anyone with the intention of hurting them. She was one of those nice people, quite hard to find but easy to like. But did that mean I wasn't going to kill her? How could I possibly hold her life in higher regard then Blaise's? Blaise was my friend while she's just an enemy.
Losing the control I'd always kept, I slammed my fist into the wall, growing angrier when I didn't even make a dent. But pulling my hand away, I saw that it was red with blood, my skin having split on the impact. Blood. That's what I was going to be seeing a lot of shortly. Blood of all the people I killed. I'd always see blood on my hands, the blood I put there. But Blaise wouldn't. Because Blaise made the choice not to.
"Malfoy?" I turned, holding my bloodied hand in the folds of my robe and came face to face with Granger, her entire body trembling. "I…I don't know why Zabani gave me a warning," she whispered, honey brown eyes staring into my own piercing silver. "But I'm glad he did. Though it won't mean much."
"What do you want?" I snarled, my entire being urging me to curse her right then and there.
"I want you to kill me."
Kill her? She actually wanted me to kill her? The whole world must have gone mad!
"I won't move," she said, casting her eyes to the floor. "I'm not going to scream or run away. I won't attack. I'm just going to stand right here and wait for you to kill me." When I made no move, she sighed and handed me her wand, wrapping my fingers, which were suddenly ice cold, around the wood and pointed it at herself.
This was my chance. She was willingly giving herself up, waiting for the two deadly words that would end her life. I had the power, I had the motivation…but I couldn't do it. The wand fell from my fingers and clattered to the floor, the only sound in the hall. "I can't." Leaving a very stunned Gryffindor behind me, I fled down the corridor, surprised to feel tears pricking at my eyes.
"I knew you wouldn't do it." I jumped, and spun around to see Blaise emerging from the shadows of a statue. "You aren't meant to be a Death Eater," he said softly, placing a gentle hand on my shoulder. "You care, Draco. You may say some things, but your heart doesn't agree. You don't want to kill anyone. So don't."
"But…I want him to be proud of me," I whispered brokenly, feeling the first tear slide down my cheek. "That's all I've ever wanted."
"If killing someone makes you proud of yourself, then do it," Blaise murmured. "But if you're only doing it for your father, then don't. I want you to be happy, Draco, not your father. It's your life…you get to make the choice." I nodded numbly, and Blaise gave me a smile. "Do the right thing," he whispered, before disappearing back into the shadows.
The right choice? What was the right choice? My entire life I'd been trying to earn Father's respect, make him proud of me. But…don't I want myself to be happy? Don't I want to enjoy life? My life? Going back outside, I sat down in a secluded part of the lake, hidden by several large boulders.
"I thought you'd come here." Granger slipped down the steep bank and sat down next to me, the wind whipping her brown hair wildly around her face. "I wanted to say thank you," she continued, staring out at the lake.
"Thank me for what?" I asked bitterly. "Maybe I still want to kill you."
"No…you don't. If you did, you would have done it back there. But you didn't. And that," she said, now turning to look at me, tears shining in her eyes, "is what makes you a person. People have feelings, Malfoy. You've always hidden yours, except hate. You hated all of us for so long. But what you just did…it shows you care, if only a little."
I said nothing, staring down at my hands, one of which was still bleeding, though the pain had gone. "Let's start over," she said, holding out her hand. "My name is Hermione Granger."
Should I take her hand? That would be willingly touching a Mudblood. I'd be going against every single thing I've ever been taught about them. But…is everything I learned, maybe wrong? Taking a chance, I lightly grasped her hand and shook it. "Draco Malfoy."
She smiled, tears pouring over. At that moment, even with her hair a knotty mess, her cheeks bright pink and tears pouring down her face, she was the most beautiful person I'd ever set eyes on.
"Let's go get your hand looked at," she said, rising to her feet and pulling me up. "And then we'll talk to Dumbledore. He'll know what to do." I allowed her to lead me to the Hospital wing, where Pomfrey bandaged me up and sent us on our way.
The next few hours passed in a blur as Blaise, Hermione, Potter, Weasley, and myself all talked to Dumbledore, the headmaster promising both Blaise and I that we would be safe at Hogwarts and he forbade us to return home over the school year, that being perfectly fine with both of us. As soon as we'd left, Hermione had thrown her arms around me in a hug, tears streaming once more down her face. "You made the right choice," said Blaise softly, watching the scene with amusement. I smiled back at him, even Potter and Weasley, both of who looked ready to strangle me at the moment for hugging Hermione back, before bursting into laughter, Hermione joining me a second later. It was by far, the happiest day of my life, because I was proud of myself.
Weeks passed into the school year, myself ignoring all the letters Father sent me, except once to write back and tell him of my decision. His reply was as I expected. He threatened to disown me from the family, promised that as soon as I left the confines of the school he wouldn't hesitate to kill me. But I didn't worry. Nothing he said made me care or grow upset.
All those times I thought I was helping him; I really was just a piece of his plan, someone who he could afford to spare. In his eyes, I was still nothing, and now I'm even lower. But the hurt that normally would have filled me knowing that didn't. It was gone, my newfound joy and pride being in the form of an energetic brown haired Gryffindor girl, who always had time for me and let me know what I'd done was right.
Right now, we're both sitting by the lake where we had first become friends, though now it seemed as though we were more. I had my arm wrapped about her waist, chin resting on the bushy brown hair, which now didn't seem quite so hideous, with my free hand intertwined with hers.
It was quiet, save the sound of the water lapping against the bank and the grasses blowing in the breeze. "You know," she said softly, head resting on my shoulder. "We're both breaking rule seventy-two right now…and three hundred and four."
"What's that rule?" I asked, looking down at the girl.
"A Gryffindor falling in love with a Slytherin," she whispered, cupping my chin in her hand.
"I don't quite see anything wrong with that." As our lips met in a gentle kiss, I couldn't help but reflect about the girl in my arms.
She was the person who had saved me from forever regretting a path I would have chosen, the girl who showed me what it meant to care. The girl who made me love and forgive. The girl who saved me from myself.
She was my hero.