Disclaimer: I'm not JK Rowling, wish I was.

This is a response to The Quick Quill Challenge on the Hideaway – a great HP site.

Rules: 400-800 words regarding a difficult choice an HP character must make.

Out of the Dark

He stood irresolute, watching the setting sun highlight the grand home before him with shades of gold; it appeared haloed, though if the attitudes of every occupant who had resided in that house were any indication, heavenly would be the last description the mansion would ever earn. He watched an eagle owl released from the upper window. It took flight, majestically winging its way to the Dark Lord, no doubt – sealing his fate. There could be no turning back; once the message arrived, his life would consist of fear and hiding. Self-doubt swarmed him again – had he done the right thing? Right or wrong hardly mattered any more, if the outcome was the same. Draco spun on the spot and apparated to the corner of a muggle street – the last place he'd ever imagined himself.

His thoughts were a flurry of questions: Will I be accepted or distrusted? How do I explain this decision to those who I berated for choosing the side they did? Is it possible that everything I've ever been taught is wrong? Will I ever sleep again without seeing Professor Dumbledore's plunge from the top of the tower?

Unaware that he had actually walked forward, Draco realized he now stood before a pristine home with an expertly tended garden. It was much smaller than the house he'd grown up in and doubtlessly just as miniscule on the inside as the outside. His eyes traveled over the white stucco to the second floor, where a window was slightly opened. The light breeze was playing against the curtains and a large ginger cat sat watching, tilting its head the way that curious felines so often do. There was light behind it, as if the occupant needed more than the setting sun to continue pursuits of an unknown nature.

Draco raised a shaking hand and knocked so lightly at first that he doubted if anyone would hear. Perhaps that's what he wanted. If no one came to the door, then he hadn't completely changed sides. He imagined the look of shame on his father's face over his actions, and the saucy retort of his mother if she knew he'd gone to a muggle house to beg the mercy of a mudblood. Even as he thought this he realized he'd been raised with prejudices so strong, he might never escape them completely. Simply walking away from his life could not achieve that.

He took his wand out of his pocket and laid it neatly on the threshold, and raised his hand once more to knock, forcing himself to rap boldly. "Just a minute!" a musical female voice called. He almost fled and again chastised himself for his fear. Draco Malfoy had never been hesitant in the presence of muggles. Perhaps he no longer knew himself.

The door opened and a woman with thick brown hair stood there with several large lilies and a pair of scissors clutched in her left hand; she must have been arranging flowers. "May I help you?" she asked.

Draco mouthed soundlessly – a fish out of water – suddenly so unsure of himself that he couldn't make his voice work at all. He glanced down at the wand lying on the threshold at her feet and she followed his gaze. "Ahhh, you must be one of Hermoine's friends, though I can't remember her saying she was expecting you. Oh well." She smiled politely, though she had spoken in a somewhat flustered way; maybe wizards made her nervous. "Hermoine!" she turned and yelled toward the stairs. "You have a visitor!" Draco took a reflexive step backward, part of him longing to reach for his wand to defend himself. What if she blasted him on sight?

He heard her descend the stairs, each step bringing him closer to a reckoning. When she saw him, she halted, taking a loud breath and staring with her mouth still open. She produced her wand from what he assumed was the back pocket of her jeans, and leveled it at him.

"What do you want!" she growled, eyes narrowing. Her mother instantly backed out of the line of fire, looking frightened. It was then that Hermoine spied the wand on the threshold. Draco muttered his answer, knowing full well that Hermoine couldn't hear him. "What did you say?" she demanded.

"F -- forgiveness," he answered more loudly. "I want – I need forgiveness."