Left of Me
A songfic to "What's Left of Me" by Nick Lachey
life pass me by
In the rearview mirror
Pictures frozen in time
Are becoming clearer
I don't wanna waste another day
Stuck in the shadow of my mistakes
The rain had started up again.
As the dark, ominous prison of Azkaban was situated at the very centre of the most turbulent waters in the world, it normally wasn't unusual for water to pelt the cramped windows of the cells and corridors. The weather, however, had been acting particularly odd that day. As dawn broke, a thick, impenetrable layer of fog had settled around the building, shielding it from outside observers -- not that unknowing passersby could see it to begin with; the powerful charms and spells that protected the prison walls prevented those strangers unfortunate enough to happen upon the area from seeing anything but a rotting pile of rubbish.
By noon, the fog had miraculously lifted, and the cloudless, periwinkle skies had smiled joyously upon the world below them. Even the Dementors' unmatched power to force light, hope, and warmth to dissipate had not been strong enough to hold back the sun's determination, and so the creatures had been forced to retreat, rasping and rattling, into the dankest, darkest corner of the prison.
The sunlight had persisted throughout the day, and only now, as night began to creep in, did it dim to make way for the usual roiling storm clouds and blustery winds.
In contrast to the restless storm brewing above him, the occupant of cell 6580 showed so few signs of life that casual observers might've thought him to be dead. This was not true. As corpselike as his appearance was, Draco Malfoy was very much alive, if not uncommonly motionless.
Sitting on his stiff, narrow cot with his arms wrapped limply around himself for warmth, Draco watched the extremes of the weather roll by. His eyes, blank and void of human emotion, stared listlessly out the minuscule grimy -- and now rain-streaked -- glass pane separating him from the outside world. Sometimes a muscle in his jaw twitched; other times a few fingers flexed slightly, only to still again moments later. All the while, his grey eyes remained unfailingly fixed on the small square of sky straight above him.
He was reliving old memories. Unearthing them from the depths of his past; laying them out on the surface of his mind; examining them; turning them over; searching for scratches, dents, and grooves along their edges. Each recollection was carefully, almost tenderly, smoothed out and scrutinised. It was a meticulous process, but one he had tirelessly run through every day for the past year. After all, it was the only method of passing time he had. Locked in his cell -- locked in his mind by now -- Draco had nothing else to do but to thumb through the scrapbook stored in his head, the only part of him the Dementors hadn't managed to steal.
Draco's eyes followed raindrops the size of his thumbnails as they splattered onto the window above him and slowly slid towards the edges of the square of glass until they were out sight, but in his mind, he did not process these images. Instead, he was imagining the scene at the top of the Astronomy Tower in his sixth year when he had been offered the chance to live by Dumbledore. The only chance for a future he had ever been given, and he had delayed accepting it until it was too late and Dumbledore was dead.
As if watching from an outside standpoint, Draco saw Severus Snape take him by the forearm and rush him out the door, down the stairs, through the Hogwarts corridors that had once been so familiar but suddenly seemed so foreign and foreboding, until they burst into the stifling evening air. He saw himself trip over his own feet and almost lose his footing, only to be righted again by Snape's strong grip. He saw Snape urge him to run faster, to not hold out his wand like that, to stop looking back. He saw a girl's shocked face surrounded by brown hair appear in a window high up near the Astronomy Tower, saw his own face look desperately backwards one last time, saw his eyes meet with the girl's...and then he was snapped out of his reverie by the rattling sound of a nearby Dementor.
For the first time that day, Draco turned around.
A tall, hooded figure hovered just outside the bars of his cell. A rush of iciness flooded Draco's veins, numbed only by his body's adaptation to the sensation over time. A heavy sense of dread -- one that had grown over the past few days -- followed the chill. The full force of it attacked him and clawed at his insides. His fingers clenched into fists, causing his fingernails to dig painfully into his palms and draw blood.
It was nearly time.
Draco's gaze darted back to the window, a desperate attempt to prolong whatever number of minutes remained. His eyes bore into the rain-splattered surface with an intensity that did not match the calm, empty expression masking the rest of his facial features.
Faint footsteps from somewhere far away grew louder, their echoes resounding eerily off the stone walls of the prison. Against his will, Draco turned around again, a small part of his mind wondering vaguely what could be causing the sound of footsteps, as Dementors -- for the most part, the only living, breathing creatures that willingly moved around Azkaban -- glided silently above the ground.
At long last, a thin man walked into view and stopped a foot or so away from the Dementor. Draco absorbed the man's appearance silently, processing the wide eyes that shifted from side to side fearfully, the thin sheen of sweat covering every inch of skin, the large ears that twitched as he shot Draco a nervous look.
'Mr Malfoy,' he said in a trembling voice that seemed to reflect a toned-down fraction of the storm of sudden emotion brewing beneath Draco's blank exterior, 'your execution commences in fifteen minutes.'
I've been dying inside
Little by little
Nowhere to go
I'm going out of my mind
In endless circles
Running from myself until
You gave me a reason for standing still
The weight of the chains attached to the shackles on Draco's wrists and ankles slowed him down and made it feel as though each step he took was being done under water. Or perhaps, as Draco felt his insides instinctively shrink away from the presence of the Dementors around him, the weight came from his own feelings, compressed so much that he couldn't even make sense of them anymore. Faint signals in his mind urged him to struggle, pull away, do anything to get himself as far away as possible from his destination, but he couldn't bring his muscles to move. Helplessly, he trailed after the two cloaked figures gliding on ahead of him, every once in a while shrinking away from the cold, slimy hands behind him urging him to walk faster.
The thin, nervous man at Draco's side hurried to keep in stride with the sombre procession. In a few valiant but failed efforts to lighten the mood, he tried to make small talk with Draco; however, Draco found that he could not -- and felt no desire to -- make an attempt to return the words. His upbringing had taught him that he was superior to men like this; and, even reduced to his current state, pride stopped him from joining the one-sided conversation.
As Draco moved down the corridor, his eyes wandered upwards. More tiny windows formed neat rows along the ceiling here, and as Draco passed underneath each of them, he caught flashes of the storm that disturbed the dark sky overhead. He remembered a time when he had lounged in the sitting room with his mother, the day's newspaper propped up against a bottle of wine on the glass coffee table. It had been years after he left Hogwarts, years since his father died in Azkaban. Draco had been a powerful man, living off the riches with which the Dark Lord had rewarded him for his services. His mother had commented on his life in solitude and how she felt it was her duty to find a suitable wife for him. In his mind's eye, Draco saw himself shake his head slightly as he turned the page of his newspaper, only to find a photo of a familiar face on the front page. A woman's face by then, but a face surrounded by the same wild, brown hair, the same large, shocked eyes. The headlines above the photo had blared the words 'Auror-In-Training Promoted After the Capture of Six Death Eaters'. Fleetingly, Draco had thought that perhaps his mother's idea had not been so ludicrous, but then he had reread the words above her picture, and the thought passed.
Those moments of peace were the last Draco could recall. The next day, the temporary lull in fighting had ended and the war had erupted once again, more ferocious and merciless than ever. Draco had jumped to his Lord's defence, and thoughts of the brown-haired girl had become buried beneath everything else clouding his mind.
A dip in the stone floor caused Draco to trip and momentarily part from his memories. He regained his footing almost immediately, but the stumble had jolted him back to reality. He felt panic rise within him, a tsunami of emotion about to crash and overwhelm his senses, but he had never been one to let his true feelings show, so he forcibly suppressed the wave, relaxing only when he felt it entirely subside.
The unrelenting fog of cold despair hovering around Draco seemed to grow thicker as he anxiously buried deeper into the folds of his past. The Dementors were excited -- they sensed a change; they knew death was about to be handed to them on a silver platter. Draco forced his eyes to stay fixed on the ceiling, even as he felt the weight of a Dementor's clawed hand on his shoulder.
He extracted another memory, this one more recent than the others. He pictured himself chained to a chair, staring coldly up at the rows of silent witches and wizards who had come to see him sentenced to life in Azkaban. He heard a deep voice speak; the words, "If any witnesses have further accusations to put on the table, do so now," resonated within the circular room. Among the blurred faces of the crowd, only one jumped out, agonisingly clear and sharp against the others surrounding it. A face imprinted with lines of worry and unsmiling lips, the brown hair that usually surrounded it pulled into a severe knot. In his mind, Draco saw the woman stand up, grip the railing before her, and lean forward. He saw, for a split second, her eyes meet his own, before she spoke in a voice laced with pure, untouched hatred: "He murdered my husband."
The sentence was changed to the administration of the Dementor's Kiss.
At that moment, the sound of a heavy wooden door scraping against cement reached Draco's ears. Frantically, he clung to his memory. At the same time, he felt the firm pull of the Dementors around him trying to drag it away from his mind's clutches. For a few seconds, the mental tug-of-war raged on. Then Draco's strength faltered, and the last thing he saw before he lowered his gaze was the flickering image of a woman's face adorned with despair.
Because I want you
And I feel you
Crawling underneath my skin
Like a hunger
Like a burning
To find the place I've never been
Now I'm broken
And I'm fading
I'm half the man I thought I would be
But you can have what's left of me
The execution room is cold and much smaller than the room in which my trial was held. A solitary chair sits in the little circle they've cleared in the centre of the room, and there's just enough space around it for me to extend my hands out on either side of me.
The rest of the room is filled with people. Old men, young Aurors, other Ministry workers, prisoners granted permission to come here -- they're all here to watch me die. I'm just an entertaining show to them.
Anger wells up inside me. I want to curse them, kill them all for standing there so silently. I want to shatter their calm exteriors and reveal the anxiety and fear hidden beneath, because I know it's there. None of them are here to die, but I can see in their eyes that they're terrified. They have no idea what terror is; they never will until they're standing here in my shoes, looking out through my eyes.
Tensely, I let the Dementors guide me over to the chair. They don't come into contact with me. It's almost as if they're paying me some sort of sick respect by allowing me the most comfort I can have in my last few living moments.
I sit down on the chair. It's cold, colder than the Dementors' touch. I want to lay my hands on my lap, but the chains weighing them down are too heavy to lift. Instead, I settle for pushing myself up against the back of the chair and sitting as upright as possible -- my final attempt to gather the two or three shreds of dignity I still possess.
Inside, I want to cry, scream, sob, yell. Inside, I'm petrified. This isn't right. I'm twenty-eight; I'm too young to die. I have a future; I have goals, dreams, wants, needs, and I can't fulfill them if I die right now. God, this isn't right.
To the witnesses, I'm someone else. They see a pale young man, emaciated and sheet-white after a year of neglect, isolation, and insanity. They see someone with empty grey eyes and malicious intentions, someone who believes he's dying for the right cause. I don't care. No one knows me, and that's the way I'd like to keep it until my dying breath -- and hopefully after that as well.
I let my eyes wander around the crowd, mentally searching for a memory to hold onto and draw comfort from. I wonder what this moment might feel like if I were leaving behind a mother, a father, a wife, a child. I suppose it's a good thing I never married, because now I have nothing to despair being torn from.
I finally secure a suitable recollection. I smooth it out in my mind, then take a mental step back to examine it. There I am, eleven years old and boarding the Hogwarts Express for the very first time. I see myself tear myself away from my father's grip on my shoulder. He doesn't help me with my heavy trunk. Instead, he turns my mother around to make sure no one sees her crying -- Malfoys shouldn't cry; that's what he told me. I watch as I look over my shoulder, but by then, Mother and Father have been swallowed up by the crowd. I drag my trunk onto the train, looking around for the people my father called 'appropriate'. As I walk past one compartment, I peer into the window. A girl's sitting there -- a girl with a mass of frizzy brown hair surrounding her round, pink-cheeked face. She's reading a book. I see myself stop momentarily to gaze at the girl, and at that moment, she looks up. She has big eyes that fill with surprise as they absorb the sight of me standing there staring at her, pale-faced and haughty. For a second, neither of us moves; then, I turn and walk away, having decided that this girl is not 'appropriate' enough.
As the flashback trickles away, my sight focuses on a pair of eyes identical to the ones I just envisioned. I can't help it -- my jaw drops open in surprise.
Hermione Granger is standing in the front row, her arms crossed over her chest and tears streaming down her cheeks. Harry Potter stands beside her. He's talking to someone behind him, apparently oblivious to Hermione's distress. She doesn't seem to mind, though. She watches me, her expression inscrutable. Her brown hair is loose around her shoulders; it frames her face, just like it did seventeen years ago.
Our eyes meet, and when they do, hers widen slightly. Desperately, I move my lips, trying to tell her not to look away. My voice must've died after months of disuse, because no sound escapes. However, she gets the gist -- she doesn't turn away like I expected she would.
My head spins dangerously. What's she doing here? Why would she want to come watch my execution? She should want nothing to do with me, Ron Weasley's murderer, after receiving the satisfaction of watching them drag me off to Azkaban.
My skin prickles and burns as her gaze continues to bore into me. I can almost see her etch the lines of my face into her memory. She wants to remember this moment, I realise. She wants to treasure forever the day the man she always hated was put to death.
Suddenly, I'm furious. She shouldn't be here. I've endured enough; even I don't deserve to be tortured by the sight of her in my last minutes. This is the most unfair punishment of all. How dare they let her through? How could they, when she was the one who sent me to my death without a trace of regret? Haven't they inflicted enough abuse on me already?
Isn't it enough that that I'm going to have my soul sucked out of me without the girl I've always loved standing an arm's length away?
Give me something
To believe in
Tell me it's not all in my head
Take what's left of this man
Make me whole once again
You can have all that's left
What's left of me
A cold, clammy hand clamps over my mouth before I can make one last attempt to scream to Hermione. The long fingers forces my head back so that it dangles over the back of the chair. I'm looking skyward now, and I notice that there is another window right above me. It's the same size as the one I used to stare out of in my cell.
It's stopped raining, but it's too late for the sun to return, so I see only blackness. I close my eyes, willing the terror coursing through me to still, but I've lost all control this time. Wildly, I struggle away from the hand and pin Hermione with a desperate look.
She's sobbing into one hand, her eyes still fixed on me. Harry has an arm wrapped around her shoulders, but she doesn't seem to be aware of his presence. She shakes her head as I wordlessly beg her for mercy.
The Dementors gather around me. They're hissing angrily now. Two of them cover my eyes with their hands, and I know it's coming, but I can't give up yet. Not while she's here.
I feel now as if I'm hovering in the midst of a vast expanse of icy darkness. I try to struggle away, but it's impossible to move when the air around me is so insubstantial that I have nothing to push against. An immense weight is pressing down on my chest, forcing the breaths I try to take from entering my lungs.
I struggle to yell, but my voice is unheard. I can hear the Dementors' rattling breaths drawing nearer. Gathering my last ounce of strength, I try to form pictures, images, memories in my mind from the mist clouding my consciousness. It's hopeless; all that's left of me is regret, hate, fear, despair...but then I manage to construct the faint outline of her face, and suddenly it's enough. Tearing my head away of the hands holding it back, I open my mouth, tasting my own tears, and whisper hoarsely, 'For fuck's sake, Hermione, I still love you...'
I want to say more -- that I'm sorry for killing her husband -- but I would be lying. Even so, I'm not rewarded with the chance to. A face shadowed by a dark hood descends upon me; I close my eyes tightly before I see the Dementor's hideous disfigurements. My mind goes blank and coherent thought shudders out of existence, leaving me to choke on the remainders of my regrets: pools of blood soaking into cracks in the earth, the tortured cries of Muggles, flashes of green light, Hermione...and then darkness as empty as the night, my greatest regret of all.
you take what's left
Will you take what's left
Will you take what's left of me?
Take what's left of me...
The execution notes reported that, as the prisoner struggled to remain conscious against the Dementors' powers, he managed to fight them away briefly to whisper a few words. They were unheard over the mutterings of the restless crowd, but witnesses near enough to read his lips -- two young Aurors, an apparel store owner, an old man and his wife, and another former Death Eater prisoner -- understood the message quite clearly. All six, however, refused to comment on the subject.
In the days following the execution, rumours that the prisoner had spoken his last few words to the woman he loved swirled around the wizarding world. No one, however, claimed to be this woman, and to Ministry knowledge, the prisoner had no lover at the time of the Kiss, so it is doubtful that such a person ever existed. Healers believe the prisoner was so delusional he imagined a lover into existence. Thus, his supposed last words have long since been dismissed as a mark of insanity.
Years after the Kiss was performed on Draco Malfoy, Azkaban officials transferred another prisoner to his vacated cell. However, they moved him out less than a week later after he complained about the sound of sobbing disturbing his sleep. Furthermore, he claimed, the walls of the cell were so covered with proclamations of love that he could not glance at them without getting a headache. Azkaban officials examined his complaints and concluded that they were entirely unfounded, as the walls were untouched and the neighbouring cells were empty. The prisoner was shortly afterwards pronounced mad, but after the incident, cell 6580 was never put to use again.
A/N: And yes, I'm aware that people don't really 'die' after receiving the Kiss. Just...pretend they do, k?