Disclaimer: We don't own Harry Potter or anything related to it, unfortunately.
A/N: This was written for the Draco Big Bang to celebrate Draco's 30th birthday. Happy birthday, Draco! Many thanks to our beta, Joanna. And thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed, favorited, etc. our other fics! We hope you'll enjoy this one enough to review/favorite/follow as well. :D
Some hearts, they just get all the right breaks
Some hearts have the stars on their side,
Some hearts, they just have it so easy
Some hearts just get lucky sometimes.
Some Hearts, Carrie Underwood
So this is what it feels like.
The room erupted in cheers as the reality of what had just happened sunk in. Draco Malfoy watched as the Boy Who Lived was engulfed by friends and supporters. Draco himself sagged in relief against the nearest wall.
So this is what it feels like to be free. He had only been in the thick of things for two years, but he had almost forgotten what it felt like to not be in a war. It was as if a great weight had been lifted off his shoulders, as if he could truly relax for the first time since the Dark Lord had returned.
But it only lasted for a few seconds. What was that saying? Out of the frying pan, into the fire. Surely now the only thing that awaited him was a dark cell in Azkaban, maybe one near his parents' cells if he was lucky. Speaking of his parents…there they were, locked in a tight embrace. They had found him moments before Potter's confrontation with the Dark Lord; Lucius had had to persuade his wife to release their son lest Draco die from lack of oxygen.
Draco looked around the Great Hall. The crowd was cheering, and everyone was either jumping up and down or embracing loved ones, both dead and living. Potter was at the center of it all. Draco turned to his parents.
"Let's go," Draco said urgently, breaking them apart, "quick, while no one will notice."
"It's Azkaban for us, Mother! We have to run." He reached for her hand, determined to pull her with him.
"Draco." It was his father who spoke, looking resolute. "We have prepared for this eventuality, we knew it might happen, and we've decided to turn ourselves in."
Draco gawked at them. "But– but Father, if we leave now-"
"They will chase us. Can you honestly see us living on the run? They will eventually find us, and then the consequences will be much worse than if we plead guilty now."
"I don't want to go to Azkaban!" His voice rose with panic.
"With any luck you won't have to, Draco. We shall plead your case, and perhaps the Wizengamot will be considerate."
"Look, no one's looking at us, if we slip away now–"
"There is nowhere to hide that they won't find us. It's time to face the music, as the saying goes. I am hoping that if we cooperate then they will not be so harsh on us in court."
Draco paled even more. "In court? We haven't got a chance."
"With a good lawyer and some key witnesses, then we can perhaps avoid life imprisonment."
"Would any lawyer be willing to defend us? And I doubt witnesses would make much of a difference– what would they say, that at least our dungeons were clean?"
"Draco," Narcissa spoke up, "if we could get Harry Potter, or Hermione Granger–"
"–and maybe that Weasley brat," Lucius added.
Narcissa nodded. "Maybe they would testify on your behalf?"
"Not a chance," Draco retorted. "They hate us– and after Aunt Bella tortured Granger at home, I rather think they'll testify against us instead."
"I think Potter would testify for me," Narcissa said softly.
Draco was silent for a while. "Maybe," he allowed reluctantly, feeling a sudden wave of despair crash through him. "Maybe for you." He closed his eyes, wishing now, more than ever, that Potter had just shaken his bloody hand when they were younger. Things might have been so different.
"Is it really that bad?" his mother asked, and he could hear the hope in her voice. But she didn't know- she didn't know that he had broken Potter's nose, that he regularly taunted Weasley about his family and his fortune (or lack thereof), and that he never missed an opportunity to sneer at Granger for her blood. He had let Death Eaters into the school, and had almost directly been the cause of their beloved Dumbledore's death. There was no way they would forgive him. But then, hadn't they saved him? Just a few scant hours ago, Potter had caught his hand and pulled him away from the Fiendfyre. Potter didn't have to do that, but he had done it anyway. And if he had saved Draco once, maybe he would do it again.
Draco opened his eyes and looked at his mother. "I don't know," he admitted. He looked at the trio, now engulfed, again, in Mrs. Weasley's arms. How had Potter, the orphan, managed to end up with such a big family?
"I'll ask them," Narcissa decided, taking a step towards them.
"Mother!" Draco hissed. "Give them time." They were all crying, he noticed. One of the twins was lying on a table, his brother standing as still as a statue beside him. He looked at his father for support. Lucius shook his head.
"We might not get another chance to talk to them, Draco," he said. "We have to act now."
Draco shook his head and turned around, walking a short distance away to sit against the wall of the Great Hall. He couldn't bear to watch his mother try to get the trio's attention. They would either ignore her or laugh in her face. He leaned his head back against the wall and stared at the enchanted ceiling. A clear, cloudless sky. He wondered what time it was, as the sun was already rising. He found he didn't care.
His eyes wandered to where his parents were. They were standing with Longbottom and Lovegood, who were obviously telling them not to go anywhere near Potter, who was still swamped by admirers. He ignored the sudden urge to go over to Potter and tell him to listen to Lucius and Narcissa. Draco really didn't want to end up in Azkaban.
Azkaban. Wizarding parents used it to scare their children into behaving. Draco had never seriously imagined he'd end up there. He shuddered, picturing the dark, the cold. He imagined rats, cockroaches, spiders and all sorts of filth. He imagined death. He knew that if he entered Azkaban, he wouldn't come out alive. Draco bit his lips to keep them from trembling. He wondered what was worse– living in Azkaban, or having the Dark Lord as a guest in your home.
Were the Dementors still there? He wondered what sort of awful memories would come flooding back. Everything in the past two years, most likely. Draco closed his eyes and tried to imagine what it would feel like. The guilt at having cursed Katie Bell, the terror when pointing his wand at Dumbledore on the tower, the horror of having the Dark Lord turn his childhood home into headquarters. Seeing Granger screaming and writhing on the floor. Realizing that Crabbe had died.
He awoke with a jerk, not even realizing that he had fallen asleep. Draco looked up to see his mother, with Potter, Weasley and Granger in tow, beckoning him towards them. Gritting his teeth, he pulled himself up. He was about to see his parents beg his classmates to save his life. Could the Malfoys have fallen any lower? He walked towards them, hands in his pockets. Weasley seemed to be smirking, slightly. Draco realized his face was still covered in blood from when something had broken his nose.
"Malfoy," Potter nodded.
"Potter. Er... congratulations," Draco added, not sure of what else to say. He knew immediately that it was the wrong thing to do.
"It wasn't a bloody Quidditch match, Malfoy," Potter spat. Granger touched his arm reproachfully and looked almost apologetically at Draco.
"We know what you mean," she said, although her tone was still less than friendly. Draco couldn't blame her for being wary with his father standing not three feet away.
"What did you want to say?" Potter asked Narcissa. He glanced at the Weasleys, who were all, with the exception of the sole surviving twin, watching the group carefully.
Draco stared fixedly at the ground as his mother began her request. This was it, this was rock bottom. He tried not to imagine the smug, triumphant faces that would soon appear on the trio's faces.
"We know that, given our circumstances... I mean, our side in the war, we face Azkaban," Narcissa started. "All of us, including Draco. And I... I ask..." Don't beg, Mother! "–no, I implore you three, if you could– if you would testify for us."
"And say what?" Weasley burst out.
"Mrs. Malfoy lied to Voldemort for me," Draco heard Potter tell his friends. "I haven't had the chance to tell you everything yet, but in the forest, she told him I was dead, but I wasn't. If she hadn't done that, he would have tried to kill me again."
"Why would she do that?"
Draco fisted his hands in his pockets, trying to pretend they weren't talking about his mother like she wasn't there. "She wanted to know if Malfoy was all right," Potter said. He turned to Narcissa. "I'll tell the Wizengamot what you did."
Narcissa smiled, evidently relieved. "Thank you."
Potter nodded and, since he wasn't completely lacking manners, murmured "goodbye" before turning away. Draco waited for his mother to call them back but instead felt a hand on his back, pushing him forward. Crap. "Potter!"
The trio turned around again, staring at Draco expectantly, looking slightly disgusted. Draco cleared his throat and said the first thing that came to his head. "What about me? Will you testify for me, too?" He cringed, realizing how pathetic he sounded.
Potter looked surprised. He looked at Granger, who was frowning. "You mean when we were brought to your house?" she asked. Draco nodded.
"What are you talking about, Hermione?" Weasley turned red with anger. "They locked us in the dungeons! His mad aunt tortured you, while he did nothing to help! And in the Room of Requirement earlier, he and Crabbe and Goyle tried to kill us!"
"He told Crabbe not to kill us!"
Did he? Draco could barely remember that now.
"So he could take us to You Know Who himself!"
"We don't know that! All I know, all I can say on the witness stand is that he tried to stop Crabbe from killing us," Granger insisted. "And he did save Goyle," she added softly. Weasley gaped at her.
"You're going to testify for him?" he yelled. "After everything he's done? He brought bloody Death Eaters into the school last year! It's his fault Bill's scarred! And he poisoned me!"
"I didn't ask Greyback to attack your brother," Draco said defensively. "And Greyback wasn't even supposed to come, I didn't know he'd be there. And the mead wasn't meant for you."
"Oh, but it's fine if other Death Eaters were in school, right?" Weasley said scathingly. "And all those times you've called Hermione a Mudblood, those times you jeered at my family– look who's laughing now, Malfoy."
Draco glanced at his parents, who didn't say a word. Typical. Draco wanted to apologize, wanted to tell the trio that he knew now how pointless things like blood and fortune were. He knew how petty their taunts and insults were, how harmless they were compared to razor-sharp spells. He wanted to say 'please', but couldn't. They'd laugh at him. They'd spit on him. Potter had turned down his handshake once, and he would probably do it again. Shaking his head, Draco muttered, "Forget it," and turned away. His legs were shaking, his heart thudding madly. It was Azkaban for him. He tried to stop the rising panic. He bowed his head, ashamed.
He had only taken a few steps before Potter spoke. "I know you didn't kill Dumbledore," he said. Draco turned around. "I was there, on the tower. I saw you lower your wand. Dumbledore offered you safety, and you were about to take it." Draco nodded slowly, his eyes never leaving Potter's. "You said you had to do it, or Voldemort would kill you. And yet, you didn't."
"I couldn't," Draco found himself saying, letting them know how weak he was. It wasn't his choice not to kill Dumbledore. On the tower, he would have killed the old man if he could.
"That just proves what Dumbledore said, then. You're not a killer."
Draco felt a wave of relief at Potter's logic. He had always wondered what would have happened if he had killed Dumbledore; he had believed it when his aunt called him weak. But weak though he was, he wasn't a killer. "Will you–"
"Yes, I'll speak for you," Potter said, sparing Draco the indignity of having to ask again. Weasley spluttered.
"Harry! It's Malfoy, he tried an Unforgivable on you! He broke your nose!"
"He's our classmate, Ron!" Hermione drew herself up to her full height and stared the taller boy down. "He's our age! You can't send him to Azkaban like that, he's got his life ahead of him. I'll speak for him too, I'll tell the Wizengamot how he didn't name us when Bellatrix and–" she glanced at Lucius "–Mr. Malfoy asked him who we were. I'll tell them too that he spared us in the Room of Requirement." Her gaze softened. "You don't have to, Ron. But I will."
"What, saving his life from the Fiendfyre wasn't enough?"
"What kind of life would it be, if he was in Azkaban?" Potter countered. "Come on. Let's go. The others are waiting." He looked at Narcissa and Draco. "Just... owl us the details of your trials."
"It's not like you never wanted to break his nose, Ron," Hermione said snippily as they turned and walked away. "Besides, what would you have done?"
"I wouldn't have agreed to kill anyone in the first place!"
"Even if your parents were in danger?"
"And you would?" Ron asked incredulously.
"I don't know, let's hope we never find out."
"You've always had a thing for him, haven't you?"
"You're such an idiot, Ron."
Though their voices had faded, Draco stood still, staring at their retreating figures as they were swallowed by the crowd once more, wishing he had found the courage enough to thank them. He looked up at his parents, cowards in their own way. But he couldn't be angry at them. His father hadn't asked for help– he had done nothing to aid the trio– and Draco knew, as did his parents, that it would be a long time before his father would leave Azkaban. His mother pulled him into another family embrace, and Draco wondered why they only started doing this now, now that they were about to be separated.