Another pointless one-shot but I like them. Sort of linked to Scars but not in any important way.
He was doing it again. Draco Malfoy greatly annoyed himself when he got in this mood, but he couldn't seem to help himself.
Over the last several months, he'd found refuge in many things. Drink was the top of the list. He'd lost count over how many times he'd stumbled home in the early hours of the morning, the world around him blurry, his thoughts no more complicated than he imagined a two-year-old's would be. His recollections of entering the house – struggling to open the door until his mother finally pulled it open, looking both worried and annoyed – had all merged together, until they formed just one memory. He felt only the mildest stab of guilt at knowing how worried his mother was, every time he went out and came home late, drunk and stupid.
And only a slightly stronger stab of guilt at knowing how worried she was when he didn't come home at all. Sometimes, he'd wake in the gutter, the muggles around him looking nervously at him, or asking if they should call him an ambulance, his head agony and his stomach twisting and jumping. Sometimes, he'd wake up in someone else's bed. Often, the girls he woke up beside were unconcerned, pointing him towards their shower, offering him coffee. Sometimes, they seemed more embarrassed than he was. He had no particular preference between them, and didn't care if they were blonde, brunette, redheaded; didn't care if they were white, black, tall, short, fat, thin, muggle or witch. The provided some distraction, if only briefly.
He wouldn't be waking in someone's bed tomorrow. He never did when his was in this mood. This was when he brooded, drinking and drinking, until he'd miserably find his way home. This was when he let depression drag him down.
He stared down into the pint, revolted by the taste, yet craving it. The muggle drink – lager – was one of the most disgusting things he'd ever tasted. But it did the job well enough.
He raised the glass, swallowed some of the liquid, and lowered it again. For the briefest moment, the scars on his wrist were visible. Appalled, he tugged at his sleeve. The self-harming jag wasn't his biggest shame – God, no, not by far – but he didn't want people to know about it. It was his punishment, his cleansing, and nothing to do with anyone. It was annoying that Potter had found out, all those months ago, but to his credit, he'd not said a word about it.
Besides, he was almost done with that now, he was almost certain of it. The sight of his own blood, glistening on his pale, pale wrist, was starting to sicken him. The feel of the blade, dragging against his skin, splitting it open, was starting to bring more pain than release. So he'd stop soon, when he figured out how.
He sat in the pub for another hour, before he drained his glass and rose, disgusted. He hated it. The place smelled of smoke and beer and sweat, and he suddenly had to get away.
He forced his way through the crowd, unconcerned by the annoyed mutters, the threats, the swearing, that came his way. Finally outside, he breathed in, deep.
"Dirty, polluted air, Draco. It's all you deserve." He started to walk, not caring where, or noticing the direction, lost in his thoughts, his self-hate and self-pity.
He walked straight into her. Or staggered, may have been a better term.
"Watch where you're going, for God's sake!" An angry voice snapped at him, as small hands firmly pushed him away from the body he'd fallen into. Draco fell back, against a wall, unhurt but slightly disorientated. He knew that voice.
She recognised him the second the back of his head connected with the wall. Not too hard, she assumed, since it didn't make too loud a noise, so she wasn't concerned about possible head injuries.
But she saw the pale – paler than she remembered – face, the pointed features – enhanced, far too much, by the hollowness of his cheeks – and the silver eyes, which were shadowed in purple.
"Draco Malfoy." Ginny murmured, shocked, horrified, and yet with some kind of twisted pleasure. She knew she shouldn't be glad to see him in this state, but he'd been one of them and that made him as guilty as the rest, for everything. "You look like hell."
"Feel it, too." He muttered. He slid, maybe an inch, to one side, and blinked at her. "Weasley." He mumbled, cast around him memory for her first name. "Ginny." He managed finally.
"Yeah. I won't say it's good to see you." She shrugged. "You've had better days, Malfoy."
"Uhm. That stuff the muggles drink messes you up some." He slid another inch to the side.
Ginny titled her head. "Muggles? You've been drinking with muggles?" She laughed humourlessly. "Well, I've seen it all now. Draco Malfoy, drinking with muggles."
"In a pub. A muggle one." Draco confirmed. "You should try it some time. Place saps your will to live."
She didn't know exactly what he meant by that – was it some kind of complex way of saying she should die? – but she didn't care either.
"Yeah, I can tell. You look like you're begging for a killing curse."
He sniggered, slid another inch to the side. "A muggle last week told me I looked like I was begging for a bullet. Muggles are strange, Weasley."
"Yeah, I heard that somewhere." She looked at him, felt the first stirrings of pity. "If only your father could see you know, huh? Wouldn't be so proud of his golden boy."
"Never a golden boy. Never good enough." He murmured it, slid a little further. "Even he knew it. Just thought it was fun to torture me. Why di'n'e just kill me when he could, huh?"
He finally fell, sliding all the way to the floor, landing heavily on his side. She swore, and fleetingly considered just leaving him. Then she crouched beside him.
"Still alive there, Malfoy?"
"Think so." He muttered. "Just my luck, eh? You'd think fate'd take pity on me now and just let me die."
The little pity she'd held for him vanished instantly.
"Die? That's what you want? You were lucky enough to live that night, when you didn't deserve it, you worthless little – how can you lay here, in this mess and ask to die? You stupid, pathetic little boy! Do you know how many people died that night, or how many would give everything to have someone they love right here?"
"Your brother." He muttered. "One of those twins. He died."
It clawed at her, briefly. She hadn't felt the pain that bad in months. She'd learned to handle it, started to move past it. But the stark words, from someone who didn't care, clawed at her.
"Yes." She hissed. "He did. And I'd much, much rather it was you, buried in that damn grave, Malfoy. But it isn't. You're alive, and you managed to keep out of Azkaban – they even let you back into Hogwarts!"
"You're not there." He muttered it, feeling sick now. "They said you couldn't face it."
"No, no I couldn't. And I'm not ashamed of it." She whispered truthfully. "You got a good deal here, Malfoy. Life, family, freedom, even money. And you drown your pathetic sorrows in some muggle pub, collapsing in the street? Nice to know you're not wasting your life."
Disgusted she rocked back on her heels. "You stupid son of a bitch. Let me tell you what you're going to do, Malfoy. In the morning – after you shower, that is – you're going to eat. Real food, because you look like you haven't in weeks. Then you're going to sleep, because you look like you haven't done enough of that, either. You're going to sort yourself out. When the holidays are over, you'll go back to Hogwarts, finish your last term. Then you'll get yourself a job. You'll get a place to live. You'll do no more drinking in muggle pubs. If you were smart, you'd stop altogether, but I know you're not. You'll never get in this state again. You'll marry yourself a nice, pure-blood girl like your parents want you to, and have a nice, well-bred son like you always planned. You'll fucking live, Draco, because you're lucky enough to have your life."
"Don't want it." He muttered. "You take it. You live it."
She glared at him, and then slowly her anger faded. It was in his eyes, the same look she sometimes saw in the mirror, in her family, in her friends and boyfriend. It didn't have a name, she was sure of that, but she knew what it showed.
Draco Malfoy was broken. Every bit as much as she was, as Harry was, as Ron and Hermione were. Not as much as George (George, who was finally getting himself together but would never be exactly the same again) but he was definitely broken.
It had never occurred to her that anyone on the other side would be suffering, too. Never occurred to her that they might have issues and nightmares and scars.
He was looking at her, just watching.
"I'm sorry." He whispered finally. "About your brother. And the rest of it. I really am."
"I know." She murmured, and closed her eyes. "I don't know what that says about me, but I know." She opened her eyes again. "You remember what I just said, Draco? About what you're doing tomorrow?"
"Shower. Eat. Sleep. Go to Hogwarts, get a job, get a house. No more drinking in pubs. Not like this again. Marry. Son. Live." He sounded, now, tired, impossibly so.
"Exactly. Think you'll remember in the morning?"
"Yeah. I always remember."And wasn't that the problem, really?
"Do you keep your promises, Draco?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I do." He mumbled.
"You promise me you'll do everything I told you to?"
"Yeah. I promise."
"OK. I'm going to take you home now, Draco. To your home, I mean." She struggled to pull him into a sitting position. "Remember how lucky you are to still be alive. Remember how annoyed I'll be if you keep wasting your life. You got the chance that so many of them didn't." The chance Fred didn't.
"Don't wanna annoy you. I remember the hex in Umbridge's office."
She smiled at the memory. The beginning of the war, and one of the worst nights of her life. Yet things had been so much simpler then.
"OK. Good. C'mon."
She helped him up. "You need to give me your address, Draco. I can get us there if you do."
He recited it, gripping her tightly to stay upright. "Why? Why help me?" He mumbled.
"Someone needs to." She shrugged. "Looks like that twisted fate of yours decided it was me."
"Why you even out here? It's late, Weasley, you should be safe in bed."
"It's not that late. I guess you started the night early. Hold on tight, 'k? I lose you on the way I'm not tracking you down."
Seconds later, they appeared outside his front gate. The light in one window assured her someone would be there to meet him. She helped him up the path to the front door, and let him sit on the doorstep, then leaned heavily on the bell.
"You remember your promise." She whispered.
"I will. G'night, Ginny."
"Night." She murmured, then walked away. She heard the front door open, heard Narcissa Malfoy sigh and murmur something as she helped her son inside. When the front door closed, Ginny broke into a run, and as soon as she was out of the gate, she span, and vanished.
Neither of them told anyone what had happened, not even the briefest mention. There was no talk of help or promises.
But they both remembered. And three weeks later, a bunch of flowers appeared on the doorstep of the Burrow, the card attached simply bearing her name.
There was no romance in the gesture; it was a thank you. There was no love, on either side. But, as Ginny realised as she reluctantly displayed the flowers in her room – they were pretty flowers, why waste them? – and as Draco had understood as he'd set the flowers on the doorstep – they now shared some kind of bond, the kind that meant very little but lasted a lifetime.
Only theirs was twisted, would never – could never – be a normal kind of bond. But it existed, all the same.