Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
To Mourn the Living
By Silver Sailor Ganymede
The Dark Lord had fallen. No matter how many times Draco told himself this, it refused to sink in completely. Everything he had been fighting for – no, everything he had been forced to fight for over the past few years, none of it mattered any more.
He found himself in the antechamber just off the Great Hall that morning. He hadn't slept at all during the night, and had thought that a walk around the ruined castle just might help him clear his thoughts. It had little effect though; almost every hallway, every room, everything held a bad memory for him now. He had lost friends and enemies in this war – but which were the friends and which the enemies now?
That was why he found himself looking at the bodies of the fallen Death Eaters, those who had either been killed during the battle or ended their own lives when they heard that the Dark Lord had failed, preferring death to a lifetime of enslavement in Azkaban. He knew every single one of the people who lay in front of him, lined up like cold slabs of meat in a butcher's shop – and he knew with even more certainty that he ought to have been among them.
In front of him lay Thorfinn Rowle, who had been one of the strongest of the Death Eaters physically but one of the weakest magically. Next to him lay the Carrows, as grotesque in death as they had been in life; Nott's father, who had taken his own life when news of the Dark Lord's demise reached him; Zabini's mother, whose seductive charms couldn't save her this time.
And then there were those who had been in school with Draco himself – Marcus Flint, Terrence Higgs and the rest. Crabbe's body was missing, consumed forever by Fiendfyre. The thought of it made him ill. There would inevitably be memorials for the heroes of this battle, but what would anyone do in remembrance of his one-time friend?
He carried on walking along the line of Death Eaters, feeling something akin to guilt as he looked at each and every one of them. It was wrong that he was here and they were not. He should have let the Dark Lord kill him long ago; he was useless in the final battle. He had done nothing. The only reason he had stayed alive was to make sure his mother and father were safe…
Her face jumped out at him as soon as he caught sight of her. He felt nausea growing as he remembered the strength of the curses she cast. Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix Lestrange, whom both he and his mother had at one point thought to be invincible if insane, lay dead in front of him because of some bloodtraitor's curse.
He could still remember hearing news of the Azkaban breakout. His father had told him that the Dark Lord would do something, and then there it was, the pictures of his fellow Death Eaters (though Draco himself was not quite one of them then) glaring at him from the front page of the Daily Prophet. He saw the name Bellatrix Lestrange but didn't quite understand at first; the evidently insane woman leering up at him from the newspaper bore almost no resemblance to the handsome girl in his mother's photographs.
As he looked at his aunt, Draco began to feel terrified; no matter how much the sadism in her eyes had scared him, this emptiness was even worse. He felt a lump growing in his throat and his eyes began to burn, but he didn't understand why. She was a monster, a sadistic inhuman monster – but for all that she was still his aunt, and he still could not stop himself from crying for her.
Most of all, though, Draco was crying for his mother, who had lost both of her sisters now. Bellatrix murdered in a duel, Andromeda dying by her own hand at the young age of seventeen: he only hoped that his mother at least would be granted a peaceful death when her time came.
He was terrified for his family now, perhaps even more so than he had been beforehand. The Dark Lord would have killed them all, but the Aurors were likely to sentence them to live for decades in the inhumane conditions of Azkaban. A single year in there had irreparably damaged his father – what would spending the rest of his life in there do to Draco?
It was all Potter's fault. If the Dark Lord were still here, all he would have to look forward to was death: but now he had to wait for the time when the so-called light side handed him over to the foulest creatures on earth and forced him to suffer a fate even worse than death: ruin.
As he thought that, a most unexpected figure came into the room to join him. It was Potter, who looked about as awful as Draco felt. Evidently at least one thing hadn't changed; Gryffindors would never learn the importance of masking their feelings. No, they would show their weakness to everyone, not that anyone cared about that right now.
Draco wanted to scream at Potter to go away, to get out, to leave him alone with his thoughts and his grief and allow him to mourn. What business had Harry Potter, the boy who had destroyed the Dark Lord, to come in here and sneer at the deaths of his enemies while some, like Draco, truly grieved for their deaths, even when they did not understand why?
Then Potter looked up at Draco as though seeing him for the first time and Draco found whatever he had wanted to say sticking in his throat and refusing to come out. The Boy Who Lived Again seemed to be as shocked by the demise of these former Death Eaters as Draco himself was.
"I don't really believe they were evil, you know," Potter said at last. "They were just misguided. You know, I think even Voldemort could have been good had he had someone to help him make the right choices in life. I feel sorry for them, in a way."
Draco tried not to laugh. Trust Potter-the-saintly to spout out such rubbish as that. He didn't know these Death Eaters in the way that Draco did, and he certainly didn't know the Dark Lord in the way that Draco did.
"Venting your 'sorrow' for the dead so you can feel less guilty about giving the Dementor's Kiss to those of us who are still living, are you?" Draco snarled, the rage that had been bubbling inside him suddenly bursting out. "How does it feel, Potter, to finally be sending me to Azkaban? You've been wanting it for years, haven't you?"
Potter suddenly looked quite put out. "Not everything revolves around you, Malfoy," he replied, sounding completely exasperated. "And for your information I'm going to do everything I possibly can to keep you and your parents out of Azkaban."
Draco laughed. "Why? So you can show everyone how merciful the great Harry Potter is?"
"No, Draco," Potter snapped, the sudden use of his first name catching Draco off guard. "Your mother saved my life. Without her actions during the battle, we wouldn't have won."
The pure honesty in his voice took Draco completely by surprise.
"My mother gave you your life back, so you're going to let me have mine," Draco said. "That's what you're telling yourself, isn't it? Tell me, what place do you think a Death Eater has in the world now – especially one who didn't even reform until the final battle was over?"
Potter looked at him and smiled bitterly. "You're a Slytherin," he said. "You'll find a way to make yourself and your family powerful again – that's what Slytherins do, isn't it?"
With that, Potter left the room and Draco felt himself beginning to cry for the first time since the Dark Lord had risen to power. The Death Eaters had fallen; he had no need for a mask any more.