I promised myself that I would wait until another of my stories was finished before I started posting one of my new ones, but technically I have finished all of HRI, it's in Beta now and to be posted soon, AND I've nearly finished MME, so as a reward to myself I'm posting my first chapter of this story - Becoming.
Authors Note: This story was written in response to a challenge from my friend and beta, Laurel. She was watching an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Becoming... hence the title) and loved the opening and closing monologue and wanted me to apply it to an H/D story. So here it goes.
This story will span over several years in the boy's lives and each chapter will be a major event for one or both of them that will slowly (but surely, because Laurel stipulated that there would have to be a happy ending) bring them together. This fic is not going to be the light fluff of some of mine, in fact, it's panning out to be my most emotionally charged yet, in fact, I actually cried while writing chapter 3, and that NEVER happens to me. lol.
Thanks to my beta for this story, Robert, who is always VERY helpful in my creative process.
Here's the thing, there's moments in your life that make you, that set the course of who you're gonna be. Sometimes they're little, subtle moments. Sometimes they're not…
Bottom line is, even if you see 'em coming, you're never ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are."
May 2nd 1998
I couldn't be in there anymore. That room in the castle lined with bodies could not possibly be my Hogwarts Great Hall; the place where I had eaten nearly every meal for the past seven years, the place where I read my first wizarding news article, received my first broom, the place where I told countless jokes and stories to my friends as we chatted and studied.
It was impossible that the same room where I was sorted into Gryffindor now contained the bodies of dozens of my friends and people I considered family.
I just couldn't take it.
But even if it had been some other nondescript room, like a dank classroom in the dungeon that I wasn't familiar with, there were also the stares and the whispering to contend with.
"Did he really kill him with a disarming curse?"
"Is it true that he died in the forest?"
"Do you think he'll go power mad now?"
"I heard he has the Elder Wand!"
It was always both alarming and humorous how quickly news traversed these hallowed halls, especially when one considers that the Houses rarely, if ever, exchange information with people outside of their own group.
Pick whatever excuse you like; I had to get away.
I didn't venture far though. Merlin only knew the kind of havoc the sudden disappearance of Harry Potter might cause. So instead of making Prophet headlines I opted to pick my way through the debris and the limp robed figures to my favorite tree.
There was something about that tree; ever since my first year there I craved the company of its wild gnarled limbs and its silent silvery bark. It never had any leaves, not even in spring. I kept meaning to ask Neville if it was even alive, because if anyone would know it would be him – master Herbologist – but I never wanted to draw anyone else's attention to it.
It felt as though it was my tree, overlooking the vast mirror polished lake, all twisted and potentially dead inside. Just like me.
That's why when I heard the approaching footsteps it felt like far more of a betrayal than it would have in any other place. It didn't surprise me that people didn't know better than to leave me alone after I killed a Dark Lord and watched people I love die right in front of my eyes, but I was angry about it nonetheless.
My hands clenched into fists at my side, hidden for the most part by my robes, as I waited for the tentative comforting from Hermione or the firm clap on the back from Ron, or possibly even the insistent plea from Molly for me to come back inside.
None of those were the voice that reached my ears, however, and the one that did made me reach for my wand. The feel of the holly in my hand after so long without it made me feel more secure in the presence of this current annoyance.
"I thought that was you," Malfoy noted at he made his way closer to where I stood. I neither backed away nor got closer, I merely brandished my wand so that he would know I was not in the mood for his games.
Though, when I thought about it, the gesture was rather unnecessary as I carried three wands with me at that moment, the Deathstick, Malfoy's hawthorn wand and my holly one. The three very different magical woods reverberated through my skin, leaving a sharp tingling sensation akin to a limb falling to sleep.
"Well spotted," I replied sarcastically. "Now what is it you want?"
Malfoy sighed, all the air billowing from his lungs in a sharp hiss, but he didn't reply with a snide comment or a well place stab to the ego, as he normally would have. Instead he took a step forward and bowed his head so that I could no longer see his sharp features or his turbulent eyes.
It always seemed as though a storm was brewing inside of Malfoy's body, and his eyes always reflected the dark gray clouds and biting lightning strikes. I had always found Malfoy's eyes intriguing, as I feel eyes are the windows into a person's soul, and Malfoy's soul seemed perpetually troubled. But then who was I to judge, I just had a bit of Voldemort's soul ripped out of me when I died a mere four hours ago.
"You saved my life," he whispered, as if that explained his sudden presence.
"And?" I asked, hoping he might elaborate on his statement or question or whatever it was he wanted so that I could tell him to bugger off and get back to my brooding.
His head whipped up then, and those stormy eyes met mine. They seemed like tornados threatening to swallow him up. "Why, why would you save me when I was trying to kill you?" he asked, his voice breaking with an emotion I had never heard from Malfoy. Was it regret, remorse or just the pain of not having an answer?
I thought about it though. It was the first time I had gotten the chance to think at all about my reasoning for such a valiant act of foolishness and the answer I came up with was simple, yet not simple at all.
"It was the right thing to do."
Malfoy's face twisted in agony and he bowed his head once more. When he raised it again it was as calm and composed as when he had first approached me. "How did you know it was right?" he asked, a question that surprised me more than his very presence there in the first place.
I merely shrugged. For that question I had no answer, nor did I feel like contemplating the query. Voldemort's soul was still inside me when I rescued Malfoy from the Fiendfyre in the Room of Hidden Things. Perhaps it was that part of me that saved the Malfoy heir or maybe it was something else inside me, but either way I wasn't up to debating wrong versus right with the price of darkness.
"I try to do what's right, what is needed to protect my family, to keep us all safe, but I always choose the wrong path," he muttered, stumbling forward slightly as he moved closer to me.
"Yes, you do," I replied. If he was looking for an argument he wasn't going to find one here.
His eyes flicked up to mine then, that storm had receded slightly and I could see a hint of blue within their depths. "Maybe you could help me choose correctly?" he asked, his eyelids dropping slightly, almost… seductively.
"I think I've done my good deed by you, Malfoy," I told him, turning away and giving him my back instead of my attention.
He huffed, but his words were not harried or rude. "I know. I shouldn't have… it's not why I'm here."
I let my shoulders sag and exhaled heavily as I ran a hand through my still filthy hair. I was so tired, I really didn't need to play Malfoy games at this juncture. "Please Malfoy, just tell me what you came to tell me and be off. I really just want to be alone."
I could both feel and hear him stepping up closer behind me and when I turned around we were almost nose-to-nose.
"I wanted to thank you," he said, and if I could believe that Malfoy could look shy I would have said so then. "I wanted to thank you for saving my life and to tell you that if you ever need me… for anything at all, I'm here for you."
My face must have betrayed how ludicrous I thought his statement was because the first signs of what might have eventually become a smile creased his face when he looked up at me. "You realize how impossible this is, right?" I asked, trying to conceal a laugh.
All mirth drained away and Malfoy took a step back and shook his head. "I owe you a blood debt, Potter, and Malfoy's do not take debts of any kind lightly, least of all something like this."
"Just… how about I call us even? Your mum saved me in the forest after all," I offered. I really wasn't in the mood for pureblood proselytizing and the rules of what a Malfoy would and wouldn't do.
"It doesn't work like that," he rebuked, stepping back into my personal space. I wanted to step away and it took all of my self-control not to.
"In case you didn't notice, Malfoy," I began, hissing the name like the poison it was, "I don't subscribe to your cult of Death Eaters or their rules on blood debts. You owe me nothing. I saved your life because it was the right thing to do. I would have saved your friend too if I could have. It means nothing. Just drop it, okay?"
His cheeks and forehead took on a hue of red that I typically only saw on a Weasley, but before he let himself haul off and slug me, he took a deep breath and nodded. I was relieved at first, thinking he was going to drop it, but I should have known better.
"It doesn't escape me that you weren't brought up the same way as I was, Harry," he whispered. His voice was soft and gentle, and he took me off guard with his use of my given name. "It doesn't change the way things are. You saved me, and now my life is yours. Take it or leave it, it doesn't make it any less true. The magic that flows through my veins is there because you will it so."
My eyes blinked over a dozen times trying to comprehend his words, and the meaning behind them, but when I thought I might have stumbled on it, I wish I hadn't. "What happens if you don't repay the debt?" I asked, wishing he had never come out here to see me in the first place.
"Unless I repay the debt, if something happens to you and I could have in any way prevented it, then my life is forfeit," he answered honestly.
"So when I die, you die?" I asked, not completely understanding what kind of responsibility was being laid in my incapable hands.
"If you don't allow me to repay the dept, then yes. When you die, I die," he confirmed.
"What if I die of natural causes and never have anyone else threaten my life?" It seemed like a fairly plausible question since I just killed the big bad of my prophecy and I wasn't aware of any others that my name was attached to.
Draco, however, seemed to think it far less plausible than I did. "Really, so you'll become a reclusive hermit now?" he scoffed. "I think you're far too blustery for that lifestyle.
"Blustery?" I asked, not even sure what in Merlin's name he meant by that comment and rolled my eyes. "I'll take good care of myself, don't you worry your pretty little head over it, Malfoy," I mocked.
His eyes glistened like an ice storm at my words, though I couldn't understand the thoughts behind them.
"So you're not going to give me the option of repaying the debt? I just get to sit around and twiddle my thumbs waiting to see if you drop dead? You are planning to be an Auror, yes?" he asked, a deep crease to his eyes that I had never seen before.
Those were my plans, but Malfoy's point was sharp, I would be putting my life in danger every day if I took that route, but what was I supposed to do, bring him along? "You might try pretending that your concern isn't only for yourself," I huffed, poking a sharp finger into his chest.
Malfoy only sighed and crossed his arms over his ribs. "It wouldn't matter to you what my concern was over. It apparently means nothing to you that my life hangs in balance with your decisions."
"It always has," I muttered, not really meaning to say so out loud.
"What?" Malfoy asked, staring at me incredulously.
"It was my job alone to kill Voldemort. If I ever made the wrong decision it would have meant your death and thousands of others. I thought my responsibility to the wizarding population was over and done, and you come over and thrust a new task upon me," I growled. Sure my problems didn't stem entirely from the shrewd Slytherin in front of me, but he didn't leave when I warned him off and so taking it all out on him was just as good as anybody. Maybe even better.
He simply gritted his teeth and closed his eyes in response to my words. No argument, no biting remark, nothing, just his pale eyelashes fluttering closed against his still flushed face.
"I don't have to save your life to repay the debt," he blurted when I didn't say any more.
"What?" I asked, still confused as to why he was still there at all.
"It can be something else, something equally important to you as your life," he adjusted.
"For instance?" I asked, knowing that there was plenty I valued more than my life. I just gave it up for the greater good a mere few hours ago and it left me feeling hollow.
"If, for instance, you were a person who valued fortune above all else, I could simply help you reach your goal and be released from my debt," he explained.
"I have more than enough money to spend in multiple lifetimes, but thanks," I muttered.
"Well then what do you value?" he asked, looking genuinely curious.
All I could do is shrug. Nothing seemed terribly important to me right then. He certainly couldn't bring my dead friends and family back, and he couldn't help me with my relationship with Gin, or with having a family. "I might need to get back to you, Malfoy," I muttered.
He sighed and nodded, but there was an edge of a smile to his lips. He took a silver band from his index finger and held it out to me.
"Are you proposing?" I teased, lifting a dark eyebrow into the fringe of my hair. "Because if you are, I'm going to have to decline," I added, grinning at his grimace.
"No, Potter. I am most certainly not proposing," he huffed and grabbed my right hand gently, slipping the band onto my ring finger. "If you need me, or think of something I can do for you, just twist it three times and say my name. I'll be there," he whispered, and it sounded like a promise he would never break.
I nodded, feeling suddenly dumbfounded by his close proximity and his hand clutching mine. The air around us seemed to be screaming for something to happen, and I thought for a moment that we might… but then it was over and he was walking away, leaving me standing beneath my tree and wondering what in Merlin's name had just happened.
Getting all of three minutes to myself, I was startled once again by a sharp clap on the back.
"What did the ferret want?" Ron asked, far less hostilely than I would have imagined possible with those particular words in his throat, but one look at his face told me why.
Ron stood there beside me, his flaming hair potentially more disheveled than mine. His face was streaked with dried tear track and his eyes were red and swollen. He looked as empty as I felt and I threw my arm around his shoulders and we walked along the lake's edge, kicking away branches and stones that fell in our path.
"I don't know what he wanted. I'm still not sure," I told him as I looked down at the ring on my finger, and it was the partial truth at least.
"Did he tell you about the blood debt?" Ron asked, looking out over the lake instead of at me.
I sighed and tried not to push him away. "Not you too," I muttered. "I can't take any more pureblood nonsense today."
He stopped so abruptly that I almost fell. "It's not nonsense, Harry. It's old magic and whether you like or not, you're stuck with him now."
A simple groan wouldn't have expressed the feeling of desolation I felt at his words. "He said I just have to give him a way to repay the debt and then I can be rid of him."
"He wishes," Ron huffed, unhappy laughter tainting his words.
"What is that supposed to mean?" I asked, feeling completely bombarded by information.
Ron took one look at my face and whatever he was going to say died on his lips and he shrugged instead. "Look, maybe he knows more about it than I do, he is a Malfoy after all," he replied bitterly. "But the way I always understood it, if you save someone's life, they belong to you forever, to do with as you see fit."
"I don't see fit to do anything to Malfoy, so we can just drop it, alright?" I pleaded. I couldn't take anymore of this mess tonight; I already had too many other things to clean up.
"Right. Sorry," he muttered and we went back to walking.
"How are you?" I asked, after the silence stretched between us for too long. I didn't mind the quiet, but it felt forced on Ron's end, as if he came out here to talk to me and I was ignoring his needs.
"Lousy, you?" he replied.
"The same," I muttered. "Where's Hermione and Gin?" I asked, curious that Ron would leave Hermione's side so soon.
"They're busying themselves working in the Hospital wing with Madame Pomfrey and trying to help as much as they can," he muttered. "I just couldn't watch any more people die," he admitted, looking rather sick over it.
"And how about your mum?" I asked, knowing she had taken a pretty heavy hit with the loss of Fred.
He winced slightly at my question but answered it just the same. "She's a wreck, Harry. I've never seen her so… broken," he said, stopping and turning to face me. "And George? He's like the walking dead; I don't know if he'll ever be the same again."
"I don't think any of us will be," I whispered, my eyes training down to the ring on my finger as I turned it over and over.
Authors Note: As always I'm eager to hear what you all think of the new stuff, so please review. this story isn't on a regular rotation yet, so if you'd like updates please subscribe or join my Yahoo group. You can see the newest headers either on the Group or my LJ or my website (I really like the one for this chapter, so check it out)