Title: In This We Lay Our Strife

Pairing: Draco/Harry

Genre: post-war, 8th year, hurt/comfort

Rating: PG-13 for this chapter (M overall)

Summary: He promised his mother something and that's why he's at Hogwarts for his last year, not because he wanted to be there, but because he had to be here.

Note: I am putting my Dumbledore/Grindelwald fic on hold until I can properly finish it. I am posting this fic instead because I have it done. Posting for now will be every Tuesday :)

Disclaimer: All recognizable Harry Potter characters and settings in this fanfiction are the property of J. K. Rowling and her associates. No copyright infringement is intended. No profit was made from this work.

Draco Malfoy sat in the Hogwarts Express with his back to the compartment door. He was cold, empty, tired. He felt older than he was and he knew why.

It was over.

Everything his family has worked for, their name, their esteem. It was all gone. His father was in Azkaban, his mother locked in the Manor, despite her refusal to be looked down on. No one would ever look at them the same. He would be lucky to get a job, even though he was going back to Hogwarts to finish his last year. It was over. His name, the thing he always hid behind, meant nothing now.

He was reduced to sitting in a compartment, next to Blaise Zabini and Pansy, his left arm stinging. It didn't hurt anymore, didn't burn black the way it once did, but he knew the sting would be with him for the rest of his life. It was his reminder of what he'd done.

Draco yanked down the sleeves of his robes. He leaned back into his seat ignoring the pointed look from Pansy and Blaise. He didn't want to be here. There was no point in him being here. He knew there were people who hated him, people who hated his father, his family, people who wanted revenge. Going to school meant that all these people would be in the same place all at once.

And Potter.

Potter was the last person that Draco wanted to see. Potter, the savior, the love of everyone's life. Potter. Potter who had ruined his life.

iHis mother is sitting in front of the fireplace in the Malfoy sitting room. She looks lost, like she's not really here, can't tell where she is. Draco has seen her like this more than once. She's been like that ever since the war ended, sometimes jumping up and hugging him close when he least expects it. He's seen her lost looks, the confusion on her face when she tells him that it's time to sleep.

Draco thinks that maybe he's losing her to whatever corner of her mind she has retreated to. But, he should have known better. She is brilliant, sly, Slytherin.

The day Draco gets the owl inviting him back to Hogwarts to "complete his education" if he so wishes, his mother takes him for a walk on the Manor grounds. It is warm as the sun sets and even though his mother says nothing, Draco knows this is important.

"It's warm tonight." His mother says.

Draco nods, walking next to her. She looks straight ahead, at the sun setting in the horizon. She looks to the left, to the doors protecting the Manor.

"I am sorry Draco."

He doesn't understand. It surprises him and it takes a while for him to open his mouth and answer her. "For what mother?"

Narcissa turns to her son and takes his hand in hers. "I'm sorry for what we did to you Draco. You never wanted to. I could see it in your eyes. You hated everything you did. And you still did it."

Draco flinches. He doesn't need her to elaborate, doesn't want her to. He knows exactly what she's talking about. He still dreams about it at night; the cold, dead eyes, the screams, the death and most of all, the fire.

"I had to." Draco says straightening. "Father expected it of me."

"Exactly." His mother says and looks away as if she can't bear to look at him, "it was always about what we wanted, what Lucius wanted. We never thought that you didn't want the same thing."

"I wanted what was best for the family." Draco says biting down the disgust.

Always what was best for the family.

Narcissa looks at him, her eyes searching his for something. Draco doesn't know what she wants to see. He can't help her find it. He just stands there, under her gaze until she takes his other hand.

"You have to do what is best for the family Draco, but you have to think about what you want too."

"I just want what is best for us."

Narcissa nods. "Go back to school. Make them believe in our name again."

Draco hears it again. The same thing he's always heard and because he's always heard it, it's not hard to say what he does.

"I will. I promise I will."/i

Draco looked out the window as the train rushed past the country side. He promised his mother something and that's why he's here, not because he wanted to be here, but because he had to be here.

"I don't suppose you're going to say something any time soon." Blaise said raking his eyes over Draco. "It's rather dull watching you mope."

"I'm not moping." Draco said dragging his eyes over Blaise and Pansy.

"Where do you suppose they'll put us?" Pansy said ignoring Blaise and turning to Draco now that he seemed like he wanted to talk. "I heard they want to put all the eight year students together since not many of them are coming back. Can you imagine? Putting us with the Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors. My mother would have a fit."

"It's all the same to me." Blaise answered crossing his legs and looking out the compartment door. "I don't care where they put us. I'm only here because mother thinks it would do well to finish this year."

"But still, they have to have some distinction. Slytherins are not in the same class as Gryffindors."

"Some Slytherins aren't even in the same class as others." Blaise countered looking away from Draco.

Draco bit back the urge to tell them both to shut up. He was tired of the same old arguments, the same bloody thing over and over. He was tired of everything really, his patience stretched to the point where it would only take one small thing to break him. Everything was gone. His life turned upside down and there was no one to blame it on, no one but his father and himself.

The petty nonsense, the talk of houses, it was all mundane, past his time. He was someone else now, someone with enemies, people who wanted to see him locked up because he dared to do what his family wanted. No one understood. They didn't get what he had to go through. They didn't understand that he had ino choice/i. It was what he had to do, the way he was raised, what was engraved into him from the moment of his birth. He was a Malfoy. He had to do what the Malfoy men did.

Even now, going back to school, it was all for his family. His father was locked in Azkaban, his mother locked away at the Manor. He had to work his way through life, iall/i his life, bringing back some sort of respect to their name.

It was too much and he had nobody to blame.


Draco looked up at Pansy who was watching him as if waiting for an answer. He shook his head and Pansy reached a hand over.

"Is there something wrong?"

Draco smirked. "Of course not. What could possibly be wrong? I'm just tired."

"Tired?" Blaise asked raising a perfect eyebrow. "What could you possibly be tired of? You're family got away easy from what I heard. Your father is in Azkaban, but they let your mother go and you're invited back to Hogwarts. You should be a bit more grateful."

It was nothing and Draco knew he should handle things better, but he couldn't. He was on edge ever since the end of the bloody war and his trial. He didn't need this.

"Shut up Zabini." He said, voice low, the warning evident.

"Why? No one is afraid of you anymore Malfoy." Blaise said spitting out Malfoy like it's a curse. "Your father is a joke. Your whole family is a joke."

Draco has his wand pressed against Blaise's temple, anger burning through his veins.

"Shut. Up." He whispered. "Keep your mouth closed and do not iever/i mention my father or my family again."

"And what, might I ask," Blaise said, "are you going to do to me if I do?"

Draco leaned forward so that his face was inches away from Blaise. "I will kill you."

"Draco." Pansy gasped. "You can't say things like that."

Draco glared one last time at Blaise and stepped out of the compartment. Pansy followed him, laying a hand on his elbow as she guided him away. He yanked his hand away and stalked off to the other end of the train. He just wanted to get away from Zabini, go anywhere where he could think.

He knew it wasn't the last time he was going to hear something about his family. He knew it wasn't and he knew he was going to get tired of it soon. Not for the first time Draco wondered if coming back to school was the right decision. He knew what he was going to have to go through and the glares from the first years in the corridors just confirmed his thinking.

Draco walked around the train until it stopped. He pulled his things off the train and started off to find a carriage with Pansy. They were climbing in when Draco saw the skeletal, winged horse that was pulling the carriage.

iOnly those that have seen death can see thresthals./i

Draco had seen death. He had seen death more times than he wished for. Draco knew death, had stood alongside it as it tortured his father. He had heard death's laugh, the way it mocked him and his family. Draco knew death and the horses pulling the carriages weren't disgusting like he would have thought long ago.

"Coming Draco?"

"Yes." Draco answered climbing in after Pansy.

Draco sat and listened to Pansy talk about what she was going to do after classes were over and whether Draco would like to come over for the Christmas holidays. He nodded barely aware of the rustling from the things pulling the carriage. He was thinking of home again, of what lay for him in the castle, the people who hated him, blamed him, what he represented. The people at the castle didn't believe in mistakes, only Dumbledore had ever believed in mistakes.

Dumbledore who was dead.

"Draco, are you alright? You look a bit pale?"

"I'm fine Pansy."

She didn't press and Draco helped her out of the carriage. The students closest to them turned, eyes glaring holes into Draco, sneers painted on their faces. Draco didn't mind those. It was the sympathetic eyes hidden in the crowd, the pity that twisted his stomach and made him sick.

"Let them be." Pansy said looping her arm through Draco's. "You have no time for them."

"Of course not." Draco said straightening and pushing his way through the crowd of students. "We have no business here."

"Commoners." Pansy sniffed shying away from the Hufflepuffs near the gate. "I can't believe mother actually made me come back here. It's not as if I have any business getting a job. Zabini is going to marry rich, I might as well."

"Pansy," Draco drawled, "there are few rich men who aren't locked away in Azkaban."

"There's still you."

Draco laughed. "Parkinson, if you are waiting for me then you are wasting your time. It's going to take me my whole life just to get these ihalf-bloods/i to stop looking at me as if I were some kind of slug."

"I can wait."

"Don't hold your breath."

Pansy smiled at him and Draco was feeling better as they walked into the Great Hall. They sat down at the Slytherin table and everything was fine until Potter walked in. Draco watched him as everyone around him stood and clapped. Potter looked tired, but he smiled, ducking his head as he made his way to the Gryffindor table.

"Right bit of a show off." One of the students next to Draco muttered as Potter took his seat.

Draco said nothing. He waited and then Potter looked up and they were looking at each other. Hatred, hatred like nothing he had ever felt before flooded him, rage so strong he was sure he was seconds away from jumping at Potter like some sort of muggle. There, across the tables, was the reason for Draco's misfortune, for his mother's pain, his strife.


It all boiled down to that. If Potter hadn't interfered than Draco's father would have succeeded, the family would have succeeded. Without Potter, Draco wouldn't be in this mess, glaring at those who glared at him, constantly on the edge because there might be someone who wanted to hex him.

It was Potter's fault.

It had to be his fault.