Inspired by: Linkin Park "Leave Out All The Rest"
There was an indissoluble darkness surrounding him, and he could see nothing around him. Something was there, he knew. It was stalking him in the dark and rising up around him; he just couldn't see it. No matter which way he turned, it felt as if he were being suffocated.
A swath of gold flashed before his eyes.
Faint images of a mouth, open and screaming, saying words he couldn't decipher, floated before his dim vision. He wanted to yell for them to come closer, to slow down.
"Help me!" He reached towards the flash of gold.
He tried to reach for the sonorous tone, he really did, but something held him back. Something always held him back. He wanted that voice. It was so warm and felt safe.
Another flash of gold flitted before his eyes, followed by a rare peaceful warmth filling his soul. He wanted to envelop himself in its and never let go.
The mysterious mouth flickered before him again, this time smiling. There was a luminosity to it that he couldn't describe, and it flared with a bright radiance as he stretched out his hand to touch it. Almost there…
The blond man flew upright in his bed, wand in hand, gazing blindly around the room for a few minutes, his chest heaving.
"Put your wand down Draco," someone whispered.
Doing as ordered, Draco dropped the hawthorn stick on the duvet and put his hand to his forehead, as he closed his eyes again. Grimacing, he noticed that he was covered in sweat. Unacceptable.
He sighed and opened his eyes again. "Mother," he whispered.
The click of her heels resounded in the stifling air of his room. "Still having those dreams?"
Standing on legs that felt like they would collapse at any moment, he nodded and gripped the bedpost to remain upright, watching her stir something into a glass of water. He noticed that she still had her morning gown on, so it must have been earlier than usual as she never ventured from her bedroom unless she was immaculately dressed. When she motioned him over to the settee, he reluctantly shuffled to her side and sat next to her.
Patting his arm, his mother handed him the cloudy liquid. "Drink this."
Staring resolutely off to her left, his lips thinned into a hard line. "No."
"Draco, I highly suggest a healer—"
"No draughts to help calm my so-called nerves, Mother!"
"This has got to stop! These dreams do not bode well for you," Narcissa urged.
"I'll treat it on my own." His gaze hadn't wavered until the moment when he turned his stare on his mother. "End of discussion."
She flinched somewhat at his glare, so she dropped her gaze to her lap, idly inspecting her manicured nails while trying to hide the shaking of her hands.
"Should I go to the vaults and collect the family books?" she asked quietly. "Maybe they can help."
Draco sneered as he took in her frown. "Don't worry yourself, Mother," he bit out. "Beauty is the first gift of nature... and the first it takes away. Scowl any harder and you'll have lines that look like steps on your forehead."
"How dare you!" she hissed, her eyes glinting with anger. Rising stiffly, she adjusted her gown and crossed her arms as she stared down her nose at her son. "You had best watch your tone, Draco Malfoy." She snorted, knowing her next words would rile him. "Gods forbid, you'll turn out like your father if you're not careful." She approached the bedroom door, opened it and exited, slamming it shut, never seeing the hateful expression etched on his face.
You'll turn out like your father. The words echoed in his head as he groaned and rubbed his gritty eyes. His father was the last person he wanted to emulate.
Lucius Malfoy was, at present, a soulless husk sitting in Azkaban, though he was better off now than he was two years before. It all seemed like a nightmare long past. His father had been captured after the Dark Lord had fallen and awaited his sentence within the vermin-infested walls of the Wizarding gaol. Although many people had protested, no formal charges had been brought against Draco or Narcissa. Apparently, the sins of the father could not fall to the entire family.
Believing he'd been blackmailed, the Wizengamot exonerated Draco concerning his involvement with Dumbledore's death. When the verdict was handed down, he felt both overwhelmed with relief and the slightest prickle of guilt that Snape had finished what he could not. He was not, however, going to take their decision for granted, and was appropriately grateful.
As for Narcissa, she was nothing more than a witness to the entire Dark Lord's reign; a person forced to bear the Death Eaters and Voldemort's presence with no chance to protest. Though Draco hated admitting it, Harry Potter's testimony regarding her was the only thing that saved her life. Where the Ministry was concerned, anything Potter uttered concerning Death Eaters was pure gold. It was insufferable really.
He'd never formally thanked the git, not that it would help his current situation.
Squeezing his eyes shut to banish the memories, he clenched his jaw and inhaled deeply to empty his mind. For the past two months, he'd been constantly beset by dreams of darkness and very little else, and in short order, they were driving him insane. At first, Draco had thought that he was experiencing a dreamless sleep, brought on by exhaustion, so he adapted. Slowly, though, they'd begun to evolve into something altogether not unpleasant. He would see a mouth or a flicker of colour. Warmth and sometimes, a scent or two would accompany the sights. It was confusing, but not exactly something that he nothing would've worried about, , so he wasn't bothered by them. Until recently.
When the presence showed up, , it was formless, like a spectre that one only witnessed if they looked askance in their peripheral vision. There, but gone the moment you turned to look for it. At times, he could feel it stalking him, studying him. Sometimes he felt the anticipation in it to spring or, leap, only to have it disappear in the next instance. Recently he'd noticed that it's attention was drawn away from him, and instead focusing on what he was seeing. The lips...the gold. Draco couldn't help it, he was protective of the entity. Sometimes he drew it away, but at other times...it got a little too near for comfort.
Sighing, wiped his face and grabbed his wand that rested on the duvet. Contemplating his day, Draco mused that since taking over his father's business, the Malfoy holdings had flourished. People had returned to work for the Malfoy heir, and through trust and hard work, they were able to see that he was not Lucius. He wouldn't work them into the ground and spit on them while doing it. Unexpectedly, he honoured his promises, and he took care of his workers-all of them;- from the highest paid executive to the littlest house elf. The war had changed many things about Draco Malfoy, responsibility being one of them.
As for this day, he had a meeting at nine, followed by a meeting at the Ministry, followed by a progress meeting of the many Malfoy estates, ordering supplies, signing wage slips, the list went on and on. He almost wished he could crawl back in bed.
Draco was interrupted from his musings by a light tinkling knock at the door. "Come in," he called.
"Tink has coffee and paper for Master," came a high-pitched, though soft, voice.
Jumping up, Draco rounded the end of the bed. Tink, the small female house elf, had a tray of coffee balanced above her head. She was so small it seemed to be floating. Picking the large, and most likely hot, tray out of her hands he placed it on the bedside table. "Thank you Tink."
Tink smiled up at him and bowed her head. Her ears almost touched the floor. "Of course Master. Would Master needs anything more?" she asked, her bulbous eyes shining bright.
Draco smiled back and placed his hand on her head. Like most house elves, she was dressed in a toga-like towel and nothing else. "No thank you Tink. Go about your duties."
Tinks brown eyes shined with happiness as she disappeared from the room.
Grabbing his first cup of coffee, Draco snapped the paper open and sat down in the chair adjoining the table. His drink abruptly halted halfway to his mouth. Coffee sloshed over the lip of the cup but he didn't notice. "What the bleeding hell?"
"Hermione! You're going to be late!" This announcement was followed by a loud crash and several curse words.
Hermione shot up straight in bed, gasping. Looking around her small, cosy room she pinched her mouth shut. She had to calm down and the abrupt awakening was not helping.
"Hermione!" Ron yelled again. This time it sounded as if it were down the hall.
"I'm up! I'm up Ronald!" Throwing her blankets away, she scurried to the door and opened it. There were boxes strewn up and down the hall. One of them, towards the top of the stairs, was knocked over. It's contents were littered at the top of the stairs and apparently down it as well.
"Ron, are you okay?" she called.
Ron's dishevelled head popped up a few steps down. "I'm fine. Bleeding hell, cleaning this place out is going to kill one of us." He groaned and climbed the last few steps to the top. Leaning against the wall, Ron slightly bumped on of the remaining photographs hanging on the wall.
Ron's face paled and he jumped almost a foot in the air. Stiffly, he turned around and glared at the photograph. "Shut up! I've had enough out of you already this morning!"
"MUDBLOOD LOVER! DISGRACE!"
"I said shut it!" Ron yelled, his face turning red. Grabbing the screeching portrait's drapes, he pulled them tightly closed. Then out of spite, he punched the frame. Glaring at the frame, his chest continued to heave.
Hermione frowned. "Ron, are you okay?"
Ron's eyes slowly drifted over to her and his mouth pinched. "Sorry Mione. I honestly don't know how you sleep with her outside your door." He threw the frame a dirty look. As if the pureblood witch knew it, the frame started to shake but her voice continued to stay muffled. Ron's dirty look turned into a sneer and he reared back his fist again.
"Ron, stop it. This is Harry's house. He'll take her down soon enough. Just ignore her." Hermione reached out to him, placating him to put his fist down.
"Guys, we're going to be late!" called Harry. "Hurry up! Kreacher made pancakes!"
Distantly in the kitchens, Kreacher's bass voice called out, "Pancakes for the missus!"
"We'll be right down," called Hermione. Throwing Ron a smile, she turned back to her room. "I'll be right down." She shook her head as Ron threw one last nasty look at the frame and went carefully down the stairs.
For the past two years, off and on the trio had lived at Grimmauld place. Harry, who was now an Auror, had finally decided to clean the place out. Not just of cobwebs and dirt, but also of the Black's nasty reminders. For the past few months, Ron and Hermione had pitched in a helping hand. Although it horrified Kreacher, they began boxing up things they didn't want around. Placating the elf, Harry let him keep his cupboard stocked with whatever mementos he wanted then let him lug the boxes to the attic. Hermoine had protested all the work but Harry had finally convinced her to let it go.
A happy Kreacher was a happy Harry was a happy Ron. Kreacher controlled the house to a certain point and Harry let him. In turn, Kreacher happily served up dishes that rivaled Mrs. Weasley's cooking, ergo a happy Ron. Harry and Kreacher now lived more amicably now that they understood and consulted each other. Which in turn, pleased Hermione because Kreacher was now shown more respect. Sometimes, Kreacher even backed off and let her carry her own laundry.
Seeing as how they were now living together for an extended period of time, Hermione and Ron had set up rooms. Harry, using his inheritance, had began to fix the house up upon leaving Hogwarts. After Voldemort had fallen, school had been suspended indefinitely for almost six months. Many students became home-schooled or went to neighboring boarding schools. Many muggle students, like Hermione, had opted to go overseas to America, where Voldemort's power hadn't reached. Harry, Hermione, and Ron, on the other hand, had stayed and finished their seventh year. In a whirlwind, they'd wrapped up their year within six months. Upon that time, Harry and Hermione went for Ministry training. Harry had become an Auror and Hermione had went into the Department of Curses and Prophecies. Ron, on the other hand, had joined in with George to keep the brother's shop open. Even now, a smiling and winking picture of Fred hung in every shop.
Sighing, Hermione went through her morning routine. Absentmindedly putting on her new charcoal pantsuit and low-heeled shoes, Hermione's thoughts returned to her dream.
The instant scent of evergreen and maple entered her mind. For the life of her, she couldn't understand it. For the past couple of weeks, her dreams had consisted of a flash of blond hair and that smell. Now, this morning, she'd felt something watching her. She hadn't felt threatened but she'd been wary. The dream had quickly turned though, when she'd felt fear directed towards her. She had tried to communicate, to ask what was wrong but she'd suddenly felt suffocated. The fear had intensified but it wasn't her own. Hermione was convinced that someone had been there with her but the dream was so muddled, she couldn't figure out if it had been real or just her imagination.
"Missus," Kreacher droned beyond her door.
Hermione sighed. She would have to worry about the dreams later. "Coming!" she called. Picking up her suitcase and over-robes, she opened the door to a smirking Kreacher. Hermione figured that smirking was the closest he came to smiling.
Kreacher held that morning's Daily Prophet out to her. Smiling down at him, she watched as he turned away and began shoving boxes out of her way. "This way missus. Careful of the boxes."
Following him down the stairs, Hermione shook the paper out, snapping it taunt. "Thank you Kreacher." Slowly, she followed him into the kitchen and sat down next to Ron. Pulling the Quidditch section out, she handed it to him while she put fruit on her pancakes.
Spearing a strawberry, she scanned the front of the paper and froze. Her fork clattered to the table as she stared at the bold letters that practically jumped from the headline. Harry and Ron looked at her, frowning.
"What's wrong?" Ron continued to stuff a sausage in his mouth.
Harry's gaze jumped from Hermione's shocked face to the paper and back again. Slowly, Hermione turned the paper around and held it up for them to see.
"Bloody hell!" yelled Harry.
"Somemitch," cried Ron, chocking on his sausage. His face slowly turned redder until Kreacher slugged him on the back. Ron's eyes watered as he nodded his head to the elf.
Hermione's face remained pale, her eyebrows to her hairline, and her lips trembling in worry as the front line practically shouted:
MUGGLEBORN/PUREBLOOD MARRIAGE LAW PASSED!