Only One Defining Moment Please
Disclaimer: I own nothing, including the wonderful works of Harry Potter.
A/N: This is different from what I usually do and I'd love any feedback possible.
Summary: Harry stumbles upon a dying Draco Malfoy during the final battle and he gives Harry some rather interesting information.
War does not determine who is right - only who is left. Bertrand Russell
He couldn't find them.
Harry stumbled through the decimated Forbidden Forest, sweat caking his bloodied skin and clammy hair like a second winter cloak. He just couldn't find them. He had been searching for hours now, ever since the end of the battle. Shivering, Harry lurched over a fallen tree truck, ignoring its attempt to weakly flail its branches and called out his friend's names with increasing desperation.
The Forest had its moods of course. No one could predict whether it would be welcoming to its invaders or hostile, but today was dreadful. The trees seemed to close in on themselves, offering no comfort beneath their rickety branches. The moss and grass has shriveled up, swaying gently away when someone touched it. Even worse, the forest had draped itself in fog and drizzling rain like a long overcoat since the beginning of the battle and even now when all was silent, small tendrils of fog crept from behind rotting, leering trees and drooping flower heads threatening to entangle other mindless, staggering people.
Damn it, where the hell were they?
This had been a bad idea, Harry thought morosely, huddling closer to his tattered cloak. After Death Eaters had attacked Hogwarts, the students of Hogwarts had tried to fight back, launching a major offensive to regain control of their grounds. Looking around the forest now, Harry could see that the plan had ended in complete failure.
Everyone was dead. Well, Harry could see shadowy shapes filtering through the trees, grim traces of fog and darkness following, but he was too tried to see whether they were the enemy, much less muster up the energy to bluster around waving his wand. They could do whatever they wanted- kill each other, sign a peace treaty, dance the polka –Harry didn't care. It didn't matter anymore if they were Death Eaters or not, nothing mattered except Hermione and Ron.
They were what was important. Harry was willing to give up a lot for this war. This mindless, bloody excuse for revenge, but Harry wouldn't- couldn't give up his friends. He'd give all of himself- had given all of himself, from the very marrow in his bones to the hair on his head, but his friends? How could anyone ask that of him? How could they?
Harry felt flat surface beneath his hands and mud in his nose. Blinking, Harry realized that he had fallen to the ground. Shaking himself, Harry lifted himself to his forearms and awkwardly swiped at the dark fungus-ridden mud on his face. Then he made to stand up, but he couldn't. Slowly comprehending, Harry looked down at his feet, or rather foot which was being held onto by a shaky, pale-white hand, tendons and blue blue veins sticking out from the effort.
Turning around so he was sitting on his back, Harry tried to pry the leg free. The arm wouldn't let go, holding tediously onto Harry's right leg. Harry grabbed the arm itself and followed it up the fine, silk robe and up to its face on which a broken Death Eater mask lay. Reverently, Harry lifted the two jagged pieces of the mask off the broken Death Eater and looked at his face,
Of course it would be Malfoy. The stupid prick was the only one crazy enough to try and trip him up when he was that hurt, Harry thought furiously. The stupid, stupid idiot. The bastard. Then in one swift movement Harry grabbed a serrated piece of the mask and in a quick slashing motion towards Malfoy's throat, Harry lunged downward. He halted an inch from Malfoy's neck.
It was the look on his face that stopped him.
Most people, when their faces were pinched with pain and fear, looked older- old and worn. Malfoy looked younger. Much younger- like a child. He looked helpless, with half-open grey eyes and pallid, child-like open hands, fingers curled inward, twitching minutely. His veins looked soft now. Soft and touchable like an infant's. There was blood dribbling out of his mouth, Harry noted distantly, and why did people always say dribbling with blood? Blood never dribbled. It poured or it leaked or it flooded. Right now it was leaking, but lower, near Malfoy abdomen Harry could see a growing dark spot, like Malfoy was five and had just done an oopsie during class. But…this was somehow worse and so much less funny.
There was the look again. The look that said: please, please, kill me.
Leaning down, Harry reached one hand forward as if running his hand through water – Harry had a vivid image of washing dishes at the Dursley's under Aunt Petunia's strict eye; it was funny what stuck with you – and trailed it through Draco's blood-streaked cheek and chin.
Surprisingly, Malfoy coughed suddenly and spit out blood, gargling something incoherently. Even more surprisingly, Harry put his hands on his chest gently and stage whispered as if they were acting, "Don't. You'll hurt yourself."
"Harry…" Malfoy started, only to interrupt himself with another bout of coughing. Harry felt like shaking him. He had told the prick not to talk, but his frustration bled away as the next splat of blood landed on his arm. Harry looked at it curiously; sure, he had injuries of his own, but this was probably one of the final disgusting things Malfoy would ever do to him. Harry supposed he should be angry or even in an ironic way, perversely sad that this horrible, pathetic, little boy was going to die here today at the young-old age of sixteen, but who know how many others had died today in this faceless black shit-hole. Malfoy would be only one of many. A number.
"Har…" With surprising strength Malfoy dragged Harry closer until his ear brushed Malfoy's lips. Then he coughed again, coating Harry's ear with warm blood. Another memento, Harry thought wistfully. Finally, Malfoy's heaving chest stilled and Harry thought that he passed until he felt a soft reassuring breath cooling the blood splattering on the left side of his face.
Then Malfoy's lips moved, mouthing out the words: you look young.
Harry laughed hysterically at the sentiment. "So you do." He said, pressing his forehead against Malfoy's.
I don't want to cry.
Harry stayed still after feeling the assertion. "Don't then."
This time Malfoy laughed, his a weak snorting noise muffled by the growing liquid in his lungs. "I…" This time the words were spoken aloud though they were wavering and Harry sat back to look into Malfoy's face as he said them. "I want to go home." There were tears running down Malfoy's face and Harry was surprised to find them trailing down his down as well. "I miss my mother and- and-" His voice hitched. "I don't want to die here, in this…this place in the dirt and moss and blood. I don't want to die with-" he gasped, reaching for breath. "with no one to remember me and no one to love me. I don't want to. I was supposed to live and love and break hearts and become a Death Eater and make money. I was supposed- supposed to die a bed at an old ripe age. That's honorable. There's nothing honorable in this- it's just blood, all blood and death."
Harry leaned forward again. "I'll remember you." he vowed breathily.
Malfoy laughed, his eyes bright and feverish. "Let me tell you the secret Potter."
"Yes, yes. The one everyone wants to know. The secret about everything. I know it now. I know everything." Malfoy said heatedly…intensely.
"The secret- there isn't any secret Malfoy. This is all there is." Harry gestured to the landscape around him.
Malfoy laughed again, this time it was as brittle and clear as the icicles hanging off the Whipping Willow before it woke and shook them off. "Oh, Potter, you're wrong. There's-"
Harry's head shot up. It was Ron. He stood in the clearing, wand dangling loosely in his left arm. There was a confused expression on his face. "Ron!" Harry cried, the world shifting into focus. Why was he sitting in the mud with Malfoy? He should have been out looking for his friend.
"You all right, mate?" Ron asked.
Harry nodded, getting to his feet before he was dragged back down to Malfoy. "Harry-" Malfoy hissed, ignoring Harry's yelp and instead whispering something into his ear. Then he laughed loudly, again ignoring or perhaps unable to see Harry's shocked look. "Too late Potter. I guess I can't tell you the secret after all."
"Wha-" Harry whispered.
Malfoy smiled, gritty and child-like. "It's all dead Potter, it's all dead."
Then his body went limp, his features slack and his face finally, finally looked as it should- his age.
Harry leaped at the dead boy, shaking him. "NO!" he screamed, "No! You can't do this Malfoy! You can't. You can't! YOU CAN"T! YOU OWE ME A SECRET MALFOY. YOU BASTARD! I'M NOT LETTING YOU GET AWAY WITH THAT. COME THE BLOODY HELL BACK!"
Distantly, Harry felt strong arms wrap around his torso and remembered trying to fight it, but his frenzied screaming couldn't stop until Ron had dragged him from Malfoy's body and towards the shelter of a lone tree.
"What the hell was that!" Ron yelled, raking a hand through his muddied red hair.
"Malfoy was trying to tell me something." Harry said, once again calm and distracted. "And I didn't understand it. But now I do. Now I do." Harry stopped pacing, staring at the moon, a slice of light in the dark velvet sky.
Harry hummed under his breath. "The world's shit; did you know that, Ron? It's all shit- a dead, rotting, invested place. I think…I think," Harry gave Ron a sick smile. "I think I want to die."
"Harry…did Malfoy tell you that?" Ron asked nervously, moving closer.
"No." Harry said blatantly, "He told me that you weren't Ron. He told me that you were Voldemort. Funny huh?"
"Avada Kevadra." Harry murmured blankly, the green stream of light shooting out of his wand to hit the pale redhead straight on. Then he walked forward and caught the boy as he fell to the ground, kneeling with Ron's head in his lap.
He didn't know if this was Voldemort polyjuiced as Ron or Ron himself he was holding in his arms and truth be told, he didn't care anymore.
Either way he had lost something important: his innocence or his best friend.