A Shot At Life
I promise you anything for another shot at life…
Draco jerked his head up reluctantly to face his jury. Fifty pinched faces observed his war torn one coldly. Draco sighed, unsure why they were even bothering with this farce of a trial. His conviction was inevitable, as inevitable, he realized now, as was Potter's defeat of the Dark Lord.
Lucius Malfoy had already been convicted of several counts of treason and murder. He was already in his cell as Draco awaited his own fate. Narcissa had barely escaped Azkaban, but since there was little concrete proof that she had actually done anything wrong, other than being married to Lucius, she had slithered away clean from the war, inheriting Lucius' mass fortune after he'd been convicted. The Ministry had attempted to seize the Malfoy estate, but hadn't been able to find the proper legal precedent to do so. Not that it mattered, anyway. If Draco ever saw his home again, it would be through old, deadened eyes. Draco was only grateful that the Dementors had been banished from the land, so he might be able to avoid insanity.
"Has all the evidence and testimony been presented?" Draco was jerked away from his gloomy thoughts as the Chief Witch of the Wizengamot spoke. There were nods from the witches and wizards seated around Draco.
"Mr. Malfoy?" Marcia Marchbanks addressed him, perhaps more kindly than she had his father. She had the look of a woman who simply wanted the war and trials to be over and done with. It was a look most wizards shared, and one the Draco knew he would never be rid of. "Do you have anything else you would like to add?"
Yes. You can all kiss my pureblood arse. Draco pursed his lips, knowing that his one chance for salvation would be to profess his deepest regrets for the "wrongs" he had committed. Yet the last six months of trials had taken their toll. He was sick of apologizing, tired of people looking at him like a maggot in their food. How was he to explain anything to these people? None of them could possibly begin to understand how hard it was to go against everything you'd been raised from birth to believe. Draco had come close, right before killing Dumbledore. If the Death Eaters had just been delayed five minutes….
"Mr. Malfoy?" Marchbanks' tone was beginning to show signs of strain.
Draco cleared his throat. "I apologize for my actions. I didn't…I wasn't raised to know any different. I wish I could change what I've done, but I can't. I just ask that the Wizengamot give me a second chance."
There were a few derisive snorts, and Draco felt a strange air of desperation. He'd tried to avoid any such feeling thus far by reassuring himself that they wouldn't sentence an eighteen year old boy to prison for life. How could they? But he knew now that he'd underestimated the hatred that had grown in their hearts from years of war and uncertainty. It didn't matter that he was eighteen, that he'd been raised to believe what he was doing was right. They didn't see him at all. They just saw the mark on his arm.
Marchbanks raised her eyebrows. "Is that all?" she asked. Draco grit his teeth, and nodded. "Very well. If that is all, then we shall—"
She was abruptly cut off by the double doors swinging open. Draco frowned, craning his neck around and pulling at his chains to see who had entered.
Oh no. Draco jerked back around, horror and humiliation coloring his face. Harry Potter. Harry bleeding Potter. The damned Chosen One had come to see his demise.
Draco hunched down in his seat, for the first time feeling the burn of embarrassment. All his friends, family, teachers, and the bloody Wizengamot could watch his downfall, but the second his childhood nemesis came into the picture, he went from feeling melancholy and doomed to angry and mortified.
"Mr. Potter!" Marcia Marchbanks' voice turned from distant and cold to warm and delighted so fast it was head spinning. Draco's scowl worsened. "To what do we owe this pleasure?"
And damn if the whole room didn't seem happy at Potter's appearance. Draco could feel Scar Head looking at him, but Draco refused to give him the pleasure of seeing Draco as a broken man.
"I'm here to testify on Draco Malfoy's behalf."
Draco's resolve to not look at Potter broke instantly after that statement, and he nearly broke his neck yanking it around to look at him. Potter had a half-smile on his face, but he didn't seem to be joking. One glance at the room told Draco why. Nearly every witch and wizard in the room seemed to have lost control of their jaw and were staring at Potter in mass confusion. Had the situation been less dire, Draco might have laughed. He'd never actually seen someone's jaw drop before, and indeed, had thought it to be simple exaggeration on the part of overzealous writers.
"I hope I'm not too late." This statement seemed to break Ms. Marchbanks out of her haze, and she gave him an awkward smile.
"Nearly, but you arrived just in time. Please, tell us what you have to say."
The whole room, including Draco, listened raptly as Potter began to speak. Had Draco known from the start what Potter was going to say, he might have spoken over him and begged the Wizengamot to just kill him right then.
"When I first met Draco, I thought he was a complete and utter prat." This earned him a few snickers, and Draco glared. "But then I met his father, Lucius." The room sobered instantly. "And I saw how his influence had affected his son. In our sixth year, I suspected that Draco had become a Death Eater, based upon some things I heard him say to friends on the train to school. He seemed happy at first, proud to follow in his father's footsteps. I spent most of the year watching him, following him, trying to catch him in the act. I hoped to stop him from whatever it was he planned to do. But in observing him, I saw him grow worn, and tired. He seemed constantly on the verge of cracking. I walked in on him crying in the bathroom one day. He was so broken, so different from the pompous little boy he'd been mere months before. He saw me, and tried to hex me, of course." Potter allowed himself a small smile, and a few of the witches and wizards followed suit. Draco's glare intensified, and he secretly dared Potter to reveal what happened after. "Then, at the end of the year, he finally achieved his goal. He fixed the Vanishing Cabinet, and allowed Death Eaters into Hogwarts. I didn't know of this, of course. I was with Dumbledore at the time, away from the castle, trying to find a means to stop Voldemort. We came back, and landed on the Astronomy Tower. I went to get help while under my invisibility cloak, but Dumbledore froze me as Draco burst in. I watched as Dumbledore tried to reason with Draco, who revealed that Voldemort had threatened to kill both Draco and his parents if Draco didn't do as he was told. Draco was shaking, and broken, terrified to not obey Voldemort, but unable to bring himself to take another life. I watched as they stood there for several minutes, while Draco did nothing to harm Dumbledore. Dumbledore, meanwhile, attempted to persuade Draco that he and his family would be protected if they came over to our side. Draco was lowering his wand when the Death Eaters burst in. What happened next was beyond Draco's control, as Severus Snape killed Dumbledore by his own request.
"Draco was then sucked back into the Death Eater's world. Voldemort threatened and coerced him into continuing to do as he asked. Still, when I was captured by Death Eaters while in a poor disguise, Draco refused to identify me. He protected me, even though it might have been safer for him not to."
Potter took a breath, and Draco struggled not to leap over the bench and strangle him. "I know he was a Death Eater, and that's not a good thing, but he was brainwashed from birth to believe it was. Draco's a good man, unlike his father. I believe if you give him another chance, he won't waste it." Potter gave the Wizengamot another smile, bowed, and went to stand next to Draco, who clenched his hands. It wouldn't do to kill the Chosen One, particularly after that glowing speech. It might negate its effects.
Ms. Marchbanks cleared her throat. "Well, if that is all, we shall put it to a vote. All in favor of convicting the accused on the charge of allying himself with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, please raise your hand."
Ten or twelve wizards raised their hands. "All in favor of clearing the accused of all charges, please raised your hand." The other forty or so wizards raised their hands. Marcia Marchbanks smiled down at Draco, a genuine, true smile. "Well, Mr. Malfoy. It seems you are free to go."
Draco looked down at his wrists as the chains fell away, and the podium he was locked in vanished. He swallowed, and rubbed his wrists, hardly able to believe he was a free man.
Draco crashed back to earth real fast at the sound of Harry Potter's voice. Draco unwillingly looked into the face of his nemesis, and silver joined green as their eyes met.
"Guess I owe it all to you." The words felt like broken glass as they left his mouth. "How many life debts do I owe you now?"
Potter laughed airily, and Draco struggled not to punch him. "Let's not keep track now, shall we?"
"Right," Draco said, and stepped past him. He walked over to retrieve his wand from the clerk, and felt relief rush through his entire body as his fingers warmed the hawthorn wood for the first time in what felt like years, though in reality was only about six months. He turned to exit the room, and jumped as he saw that Potter was still next to him.
"So what are you planning to do now?" Potter asked, friendly as could be.
Hex you. "Go home and shower," Draco replied shortly. Potter laughed again, and Draco wished that Potter-sized muzzles existed.
"I mean in general. In life. Are you going to go to work, go back to school, what?"
"Why do you care?" Draco asked, genuine curiosity coming out over the anger he felt.
Potter looked taken aback. "Well, I just mean…I thought you might need a friend."
"Really?" Draco's tone turned acerbic. "Is that why you came in there and told everyone what a pathetic crybaby I turned into two years ago? Why you made sure they knew I didn't have the courage of my convictions, the balls?"
Potter's expression was quickly turning cold. "No, I just thought you might enjoy life on the other side of prison bars better. I wanted to help."
"So you decided to come sweeping in at the last thirty seconds of my trial? Because you wanted to help? Couldn't have stopped by four months ago, when my father was on trial?"
"Your father is an evil bastard and he deserves to rot in prison," Potter said in a low voice. "You aren't. You shouldn't have to spend your whole life in jail because of how he raised you."
"Whatever, Potter," Draco said in disgust. "You just did this to feel good about yourself. Same as always, you just wanted to make an entrance, and appear to be the benevolent, all-forgiving god-like figure everyone believes you to be. You probably thought I would prostrate myself before you and beg to be forgiven because I've been oh-so bad. Sorry, doesn't work that way. I'm never going to be one of your drooling fans. Thanks for springing me, I suppose, but I'll be happy enough if I never see you again."
"Fine!" Potter snarled. "I never should have helped you in the first place, you ungrateful shit! I hope you trip down the stairs of your empty mansion and die because no one gives enough of a crap about you to check and see if you're alive!"
"And I hope you drown under the copious amounts of drool produced by all your fan girls and boys!"
"Rot in hell Malfoy!"
"Get eaten by the giant squid, Scar-head!"
They turned and swept away from each other, both noticing but refusing to acknowledge the whole Wizengamot watching as they reduced each other to screaming school children once again.
A/N: Okay, I think that's the first piece of fanfiction I've written in over a year. What do you guys think? Has my writing style improved? I'll try and update this as often as possible, though I am going back to school soon, so it may be hard. Adios!