Author's Note: I wrote the original draft of this fic back in December of 2005. Since then, fewer than a dozen people have read it, but everyone who has has urged me ceaselessly to post it. I've hesitated thus far, because it's so vastly different from anything else I've ever written: gone are the sexy activities, fluffy tones, and happy endings of all my other works; here instead is a decidedly dark and depressing little fic, which I nonetheless consider to be the best piece of writing I've ever produced. My friends have finally convinced me to post it despite my concerns, and I do hope you enjoy the following tale. Please review and let me know what you think; more than any of my other fics, I want to know everyone's reaction to this. Thank you all so much!

Disclaimer: The characters and settings used in this story belong to the illustrious J.K. Rowling. I may have taken slight liberties with their personalities and/or appearances, and I mean no harm whatsoever by doing so. No copyright infringement is intended and absolutely no money is being made by my writing this.

Swallowed by Pain
(by C. Adrien Cummings)

A beautiful blond boy stood alone on the roof of the tallest tower of the castle, looking even paler than usual. This place was his escape from the world — had been throughout his entire school career thus far. This time, however, he intended it to be his true escape . . . in the strictest sense of the word. In his hand he clutched a Muggle weapon: a handgun.

No one knew that he was here. That was how he wanted it, and so that was how it was . . . because a Malfoy always gets what he wants. A bitter laugh escaped him as he thought this, because he certainly hadn't gotten what he had wanted in the recent past. But then his laughter abruptly ceased, for upon further reflection he realized that it did still hold true after all: he just wasn't really a Malfoy anymore. He'd changed . . .

Near the end of the school term in his sixth year (which seemed like an eternity ago . . . could it really have been only four months?), Draco had changed. He'd begun to make his own decisions about his future, rather than letting his father dictate it. Of course, he'd had to follow his father's orders mechanically anyway, to avoid being killed. But he'd made up his mind.

Nobody knew but he, though his father somehow had his suspicions. And when one's as cold-hearted as Lucius Malfoy, suspicion alone is more than enough reason to disown one's son. And so it came to be that Draco found himself more or less on his own as the dark forces grew in power, rather than dwindling as everyone had hoped, as the war between light and dark raged on.

While his being disowned and disinherited was still 'officially unofficial', the fact of it was clear enough to him from the, as yet little known, fact that Narcissa Malfoy was now pregnant again — Lucius had deemed it necessary to produce another heir to the Malfoy name and fortune. So while the rest of the world didn't know it yet, Draco, at least, knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that once it was politically appropriate for Lucius to do so, the man would make it official, with all the paperwork and legalities that entailed.

But it wasn't just that fact that led Draco to steal away to the roof of Hogwarts's tallest tower, gun in hand. If he could have had the one thing that had made him make the changes and decisions he'd made, he would have been fine. But as always seemed to happen to him, he was denied that which he wanted more than anything in the world.

It had taken almost six full years, but Draco Malfoy had finally fallen under the spell of Harry James Potter. He had finally seen for himself what it was in the Gryffindor that everyone else saw and that he had ignored for so long in favor of intense rivalry. Two weeks before the end of their sixth year, Harry had covered for Draco in a potentially disastrous situation in school. Had he been caught, Draco certainly would have been expelled, and most likely would have faced a legal inquiry from the Ministry. Why Harry had covered for him was beyond his comprehension, but regardless of that, it had brought about the end of the most intense rivalry Hogwarts had seen since that of founders Gryffindor and Slytherin themselves — and the two boys may have equaled or even surpassed that one. The only real difference between the two was that Gryffindor and Slytherin had started as friends and ended as rivals while Harry and Draco had switched the order. At least, they were in the process of switching the order.

The rivalry had ceased immediately with Harry's inexplicable act of kindness and compassion, but there hadn't been enough time for a true friendship to develop before summer came and separated the two boys. They'd met up a few times at the beginning of their seventh year, in secret so as not to draw any negative — i.e., Death Eater — attention to Draco's less-than-supportive feelings toward Voldemort and the Dark Arts. Harry alone knew how Draco felt and what he believed on that matter. Draco's father being who he was, no one else from the light side would trust him . . . and if anyone from the dark side found out, he'd be dead within hours. So, they wisely kept it a secret.

And Draco was fine with that. For that month and a half at the start of seventh year, Harry's trust was all that mattered to him. And it always would have been enough, had the unmentionable not happened. A week before Halloween in their seventh school term, as Draco and Harry drew ever closer to each other on the path to love, Hogwarts was attacked. The light side, despite all its spies and lookouts, never saw it coming. And in the attack, Harry James Potter, the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord — the only one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord — was lost in battle. The world would soon belong to Voldemort.

How the world could come to this — how God could allow it — was beyond Draco's capacity to understand. All he knew was that he had to fight to try to avenge Harry . . . but he wasn't allowed to. The light side knew nothing of his budding relationship with Harry, and as such, they didn't trust Draco enough to let him fight alongside them. They were certain he'd just stab them in the back, and while the world was doomed to fall to Voldemort anyway, Dumbledore was determined to take as many evil men out of it as he could before it did. To do so, he couldn't have any turncoats fighting for him, and so, Draco was shunned.

That, and of course Harry's death itself, was what led Draco to the roof on which he now stood. From here, he was able to see the destruction that had been wreaked on the school and its grounds. It was an absurdly fitting last image to grace the eyes of Draco Malfoy as he raised the gun to his head, intent on removing himself from this absolutely absurd world.

Time stood still for a moment — both on that roof and everywhere else on Hogwarts' ample grounds — and every creature froze, utterly puzzled as to what could have been the source of the resounding crack that had just rung through the air. After a moment, however, life went on as usual . . . for all beings at Hogwarts, man and beast . . . save for one.