A/N: I think we all know that I don't own Harry Potter, so I don't think I need to say it other than this once!
Also, I did take the summary from the summary of 500 Days of Summer, because I think it fits, but be forewarned that this story is not a crossover. It's not even loosely related to the film. I just dreadfully suck with summaries.
I think that's all… So, enjoy!
Woes of a Coward
It had been against Draco's will that he returned to Hogwarts to complete his final year. Crabbe was dead, and Goyle and his family had fled as soon as the Dark Lord had been destroyed. Draco hadn't heard a word from any of them in the months that had passed. Not that he truly wanted to hear from them, but it would be nice to have contact with someone outside of his family. The only person that he knew would speak to him when he returned to the school was Pansy, which didn't offer him much comfort, as he had been wishing since 6th year that he wouldn't have to talk to her again once Dumbledore was murdered.
Unfortunately, the after effects of the war had really taken its toll upon his family. His father, since he was obviously a Death Eater, had been picked up by members of the Ministry to be taken to Azkaban. The fact that Draco's family had switched sides apparently mattered not, because according to the Minister of Magic - they made their choice to do so far too late. The only thing that kept Lucius out of prison was a hefty sum of money his family paid to help the Ministry rebuild itself, Hogwarts, and to replace the dementors, that had fled Azkaban prior to the Final Battle. However, the amount of money that it had taken to do so had left a giant hole in their pockets, and his family was on the verge of losing their home every passing day. It was a difficult time, as it wasn't easy for a Malfoy to find work. Therefore, it was imperative that Draco return to school. Both for an education, so he could better himself, finish his NEWTS, and hopefully get a good job (all the while rebuilding the Malfoy name). Not to mention that at Hogwarts he was guaranteed a roof over his head and three meals a day.
Being completely honest, Draco was almost glad to be going back. He knew that he wouldn't have any friends, no cronies to back him up this time, but it had to be better than sitting at the Manor with his depressed parents. His fathers' hair, that had always been a silvery color to begin with, was now streaked with patches of grey, he hadn't shaved in quite some time. It also seemed that without their usual flock of house elves his mother wasn't fairing so well in the kitchen, or keeping up with the house work.
They'd sold all of their elves to other Wizarding families for the extra money, too afraid to free theirs, considering what all had happened after they'd done so with Dobby. His parents had been pampered and spoiled their whole lives. They had no idea how to do every day chores without assistance.
As they sat around the table at breakfast one morning, Draco decided to speak. He'd tried his best not to say anything for a few days, since they'd decided he would return to school, mostly to show that he was not happy with the decision. In the past this had always worked to change their mind, but apparently his new, poor parents were actually strict and followed through with their word. "I was thinking I'd rather go to Diagon Alley alone this afternoon," he announced.
His father put down his cup of hot tea and glanced at his mother, who stopped twirling her food around with her fork. Her eggs had been slightly burnt, and everyone was too polite to insult them, they'd instead taken to moving them around on their plates so it looked as though more portions had actually been consumed. Really, Draco had decided to give them the benefit of a doubt, put one in his mouth, and nearly gagged when he bit into an eggshell. That, on top of the egg itself which was completely dry and tasted like just plain burnt wood, had made him decide he would not be enjoying this meal, along with every meal they'd had the past week since their staff had left. "Alone," questioned his mother. "Why do you wish to go alone?"
Draco hadn't anticipated her questioning his reasoning. Usually he said he wanted to be alone and he was left alone. This sudden change in everyone's demeanor was beginning to irritate him. "Because," he had to think for a moment, "I think it would be safer for everyone if I did."
Truthfully, it probably wouldn't be safer if Draco went by himself. Everyone hated them, he was included, but if they'd all stuck together perhaps he wouldn't get hit in the face with a bunch of curses. Although, he reasoned, he could probably grab his father quickly enough so that the curse got him first.
His parents exchanged long glances. Draco had always, in his own way, admired the way that they could know each other so well that a mere glance told the other exactly what they were thinking. Draco himself had never taken the time to honestly get to know anybody so he felt they had to truly be devoted, unconditionally love one another, in order to make that work. "Perhaps you're right," his mother finally answered. "You may go alone, but I don't want you gone past three."
Draco scowled. Three? Really? He wasn't a bloody child, and for that matter he knew seven year olds who could stay out on their own well past that time. But, as it was better than them escorting him there, he had no choice but to agree. "Fine. Three."
When he Apparated into Diagon Alley, the first person he saw was the klutz Neville Longbottom and his grandmother. She was making a fuss about getting Neville a surplus of Herbology books so he would do extraordinarily well on his N.E.W.T.S. With high enough scores he could return to Hogwarts to teach in a few years. Draco hid between two buildings, facing away from their voices, until he saw them disappear into Florish & Blotts. He cursed his luck, he had been hoping he wouldn't run into anymore students in his year returning. Who cared about the younger crowd? He wouldn't recognize any of them anyway.
Across from the book shop was Brilliant Broomsticks, so Draco decided to duck inside there so he could easily watch and wait for Neville to leave Florish & Blotts. The clerk at the Quidditch store, Giovanni, was all too familiar with Draco, remembering the time his father had bought seven brand new Nimbus 2001's. He grinned ear to ear. "Ah, Mr. Malfoy!" he cried, rushing over to Draco and grabbing his hand in a tight grip. "How do you do, sir?"
"Fantastic," Draco spat, snatching his hand away. He'd heard the shop owner was only a half-blood. He didn't want to get his hands dirty.
"Have you seen that we now have a Firebolt II for sale?" Giovanni asked quickly, to cover up how startled he'd been at Draco's impoliteness. His smile flickered before he shook himself out of it and once again putting on the facade of being extremely cheerful. He motioned for Draco to follow him to the display.
Draco hesitated. He knew that his family wouldn't be able to afford such a luxury, but he would definitely be lying to himself if he said that he wasn't interested in at least looking while he was in there.
He swallowed hard as he glanced it over. He'd thought no broom could come close to capturing the perfection that the Firebolt made, but this broom really out-did itself. The handle was such a dark and polished mahogany that he could make out his reflection in it; the ends were bound together with a ribbon that looked like it was made out of sheer gold, and once he read the broom specs he was practically drooling. He wanted that broom.
Giovanni, sensing his customers desire, began throwing facts down his throat. He talked his ear off about how only the best Quidditch teams were using them. How they'd doubled the length of their practices to learn the new techniques of it, and how exactly to stay seated, as the brooms were so fast it almost left their owners behind. He had even gone to the back to get the key out and open the case to let Draco hold it when the young Malfoy glanced across the street to see Longbottom and his grandmother leaving the bookstore.
He handed the broom back to Giovanni muttering rudely how he decided he would purchase it elsewhere, and raced out of the store, wanting to make his trip to Florish & Blotts quick. Giovanni put the broom back in its display in a very foul mood, as he'd been talking up the Firebolt II for nearly 25 minutes only to realize he would not be finalizing the sale.
Draco knew he'd have to buy his books second-hand as though he were nothing but a lowly Weasley. He had to force away the horrible thought of the fact that maybe they actually had more money than his family for once, but it left a bitter taste in the back of his throat. He caught his frown in one of the mirrors in the room and wondered briefly if something would ever happen that would make him smile again. It seemed that it had been over a year since anything had made him happy.
As he picked up the cheapest copy of Standard Book of Spells, Grade 7 his heart dropped. He was certain he'd just heard the laughter of what sounded like Potter.
Sure enough, there the Golden Trio was, rushing into the shop as though they were being followed, and quietly peaking out the windows for awhile before Granger spoke. "Really, Ron, you can't blame your mother for being a bit over protective. Especially after... well...you know." She finished lamely.
"Yeah, but You-Know-Who is dead," Ron had retorted. "She acts as though any moment someone is going to pop out and finish me off. I can't handle her breathing down my neck all the time. It's the only reason I'm even going back to school in the first place. I reckon if I don't finish I'll be confined in my room until I croak. I wouldn't put it past her to lock me away."
Draco had cringed. He hated the sound of the Weasley's voice, and hated it even more because it was getting dangerously close to where he was standing.
Quickly, he hurried down the aisle of shelves and made a quick turn down the section for Arithmancy books. "I'm surprised we managed to give her the slip," Weasley continued. "I bet Ginny's not too pleased we left her. Ah well. The greater good, right?"
The Trio grew silent for awhile, as they browsed the shelves for their books. Draco strained his ears to figure out where exactly they were, his body prepared to run again at any moment, but it was a scent that he picked up first. It smelled innocent - that was the only way he could describe it. Innocent, fresh, and faint, almost like newly grown flowers that you catch when the wind hits them. It was the complete opposite of Pansy, who wore so much "sexy" perfume that it made his nose itch and his own clothes smell like her until he had them washed. This was a tease, it was perfection, it screamed "female" in the best possible way. He loved it.
The smell had been so wonderful, and he'd gotten so caught up in trying to figure out what exactly it was, that when Hermione appeared in front of him it caught him off guard. Fortunately for him, her attention was on books, and she was concentrating on the titles so hard that she hadn't looked to her right to notice him. Draco took the time to examine her profile, as he couldn't remember ever being this close to her. Her bushy hair was pulled back into a tight braid, but as her hair was never truly tamed it still had a few loose locks resting on the sides of her face. She trailed her fingers across the books looking for a specific read. He took note of how long and slender her fingers were, how her nails were completely natural, and a bit dull. He briefly remembered watching her chew on them during an exam once, though he doubted she was aware that she did it.
Her nose came to a severe point upward, which gave her the look that she was always pointing it in the air. Which was slightly true, but maybe he'd over-exaggerated it throughout the years. Her eyebrows were just the proper length and height, and blended in perfectly with her hair. Now they were scrunched up, as she was clearly getting frustrated that she hadn't yet found what she was looking for.
"Ahhh," she said, suddenly, snatching a book too hard from the shelf so that it fell to the ground near Draco's feet.
She turned and saw him for the first time, her excited expression quickly diminishing into one he didn't recognize. Her brown eyes took in his robes, that were clearly old, as they were a duller black from having being worn for over a year now, not to mention a few inches too short. They then traveled to his stack of second-hand books. He cursed himself for not hiding immediately when he'd seen her. His heart beat quickened in his chest. He didn't want to deal with any of them. He just wanted to get his books and leave the shop that seemed suddenly entirely too small to fit all of them.
He was, unfortunately, noticing that he was staring at her too intensely. Something about her was different, and he couldn't figure out what it was. Her skin had always been blemish free, and her ears had always been the perfect size; her lips were voluptuous. That was when he noticed: Make-up.
She'd put on eyeliner and mascara. Not a lot, but just enough to make all of her features stand out. Her eyes popped, her lips looked kissable, he wanted to grab her and lay her down on a bed and watch those big eyes staring up at him filled with lust.
She turned around abruptly, causing his fantasy to suddenly disappear and for him to feel mildly disgusted with himself. It didn't matter if she finally looked like she wasn't a 12 year old prat anymore. She was still a Mudblood. He still didn't want her looking at him.
"Are you ready?" He heard hear ask the other two members of the crew. "We should probably get back to your mother, Ron, before she starts causing a scene...Let's pay for these and just go."
"Alright," Weasley grumbled in reply. "Only two more days of this, at least, and then we'll be free of it. That's all I'll have to keep telling myself."
Once they'd paid and left the shop, Draco let out a breath he hadn't been aware of holding. He was grateful that Granger hadn't given him away, yet it also made him slightly nervous. He didn't like thinking that she had something to hold over his head, although he had to admit she didn't seem like the vindictive type who would purposely set out to ruin someone's reputation like that. He had to remind himself that not all girls were like Pansy.
At the thought of her he quickly headed to the counter to pay for his books. The last thing he wanted was to bump into his pug-faced ex-girlfriend and have to listen to her whine about how she hadn't heard from him in a year.
After he gave the shop-keep his money he left, grumbling. He had practically drained his entire account in just one day, leaving only enough money to buy new quills and his potion supplies. It royally irked him as he had been hoping to have some money for his trips to Hogsmeade, but now it looked like he wouldn't even be able to enjoy a single butterbeer the entire year. He felt a little better as he thought about how easy it would most likely be to steal something off one of the boys he wound up sharing a dormitory with and pin it on someone else.
He ran the scenario through his brain for so long, that by the time he'd finished shopping he was in much better spirits at the thought of being able to purchase things throughout his school year.
When Draco got onto the Hogwarts Express he was in a very foul mood. His mother had grabbed him at the last second and pulled him into a very long and suffocating embrace. He'd pushed against her as hard as he could to shove her away but it was like someone had put a permanent sticking charm on her. She wouldn't budge. He could hear people pointing and laughing at him - he felt humiliated. He wished his family would figure something out with their money so they could return to how they'd always been. He couldn't remember his mother ever hugging him during his life. He didn't appreciate the fact that she was just now starting.
He walked by all the compartments hoping to find one empty where he could sit and not be bothered. Truthfully, it did bother him that he would be sitting alone. He'd been expecting it, but it still wasn't easy to get used to. When he saw that even that psychotic Looney Lovegood was sitting in a compartment surrounded by people he actually started to get slightly depressed. Was he that bad of a person the entire time he'd been in school?
He finally found an empty one and sat down, resting his head against the window and closing his eyes. The laughter he kept hearing from the compartment next to him made him lonely, he longed for company so badly it made his head hurt. All of that went away when he saw Pansy had spotted him and was hurrying over. He inwardly groaned. He'd handle being alone. Maybe he'd even enjoy it. Please don't let her sit with me... He thought, but the plea was ignored. She opened the door to where he sat, smiled at him, and sat down.
Draco took the time to really look at her as she took the spot in front of him, facing him, drinking in his looks. She did look quite different, he realized. She'd lost weight, maybe close to twenty pounds, so her round face wasn't as fat as it usually was. She had also had her hair styled in a way that hid her rather large forehead and ears.
Not to mention the fact that, now that she'd lost weight, he had finally noticed that she had quite an impressive chest. He could have overlooked his dislike for her had she not opened her mouth.
He'd completely forgotten how awful her voice was; so ridiculously squeaky and young sounding.
Draco half chuckled to himself when he remembered that it was because of her voice that he had put off losing his virginity to her for two long years. He had been afraid that if he put it in and she enjoyed it, the noises she would make would sound something like a pig being murdered, and it would cause his libido to immediately end. Unfortunately when they were in sixth year he knew he couldn't put it off any longer. He had grown tired of heavy petting and though her tongue action wasn't half bad it simply wasn't going to do the job forever. He'd been prepared for the occasion by purchasing a pair of ear buds that were so well enchanted that you could listen to whatever you wanted without anybody else being able to hear anything. He had enchanted them to play her moans and dirty words as though coming from someone else's mouth. He'd been a little humiliated when he'd visited a random adult shop on Knockturn Alley the previous summer to purchase them. By keeping his eyes closed and listening to what he imagined was a beautiful woman cumming underneath him - their experiences together hadn't been half bad. In fact, by the time the year was through he could boast that he was actually a rather good lay, and he'd never once had to listen to Pansy's squeals of delight.
"I've missed you," Pansy purred, grabbing onto his arm.
Draco resisted the urge to shake her off of him. He knew what was coming next and prepared to spit out the lie he'd come up with when she finally got around to asking him.
"Why haven't I heard from you all year?"
"Well...I was a Death Eater. I had a lot going on, you know, and with the Dark Lord living in our Manor and controlling all of our means of contacting the outside world - I couldn't exactly send an owl and ask how you'd been doing... And after he was...killed...well. I'm sure you've read the articles the Daily Prophet has posted about our family. It's just been a rather stressful time for me. I knew I could count on your loyalty regardless," he finished, looking into her eyes to see whether or not she believed him.
She grinned. Apparently she was willing to believe that he hadn't had one single moment in nearly fourteen months just to drop a quick owl to say hello. Truthfully, his family had also sold their owls, so realistically speaking he hadn't exactly lied. He probably could have gone to the post office and sent a letter from there, but Pansy wasn't worth the time it took to Apparate there and back. Not to mention the fact that only the poor used the post office. The Daily Prophet had gotten off on writing about how their family had escaped Azkaban yet again due to their money and the little strings they had left, but thankfully it hadn't been leaked into the public yet that they were destitute. Draco hated the fact that he would be in Hogwarts when that did get released, and everyone was going to make his life worse with that knowledge. Money was power, and without money, he was nothing. He had to make a name for himself, he had to do something. It was a good thing that he was actually a good student. His six O.W.L.S. had proven that, and he'd gotten those while under the stress of knowing he was about to begin working for the Dark Lord. Though at the time he had been a little excited about it. He supposed sometimes he could be quite daft.
"Well of course you can. Not a day goes by I don't think about you...or miss you...in different ways," there was a slight twinkle in her eyes that he wished he hadn't noticed. He had hoped she wouldn't talk of a "reunion" of such sorts for a few weeks, let alone on the train. He was so stressed these days he wasn't even sure he'd be able to get excited enough to perform. "I'm sure you've been very frustrated lately...Maybe I can help you with that. Let's say we go to the Room of Requirement after the feast and I'll soothe your nerves."
He wondered if that actually would help him any. It seemed like maybe that would be the best way to relieve stress, although he'd been thinking about taking it out on some kids during Quidditch practice. Well, that was if he managed to make the team without a donation. "We'll see," he replied, and watched her face fall. "I mean, I want to Pans, but the room was...destroyed during the war. I'm not sure that it's even there anymore."
Thinking about Crabbe was something he refrained from doing as often as he could. He'd never taken the time after his death to sit and wonder if he was upset about it or not. The closest he'd come was when he thought about spending the year alone. While Crabbe and Goyle had been the only ones he had really gotten close to, he never really thought of them as friends, more as minions. He didn't know if he'd truly miss the git, or if he would just miss having authority. To be fair, it was probably a little of both...Maybe.
"Alright," Pansy agreed. "Because I've tried it out with a few people and to be honest - nobody was quite like you. I'm rather looking forward to having you in bed again."
Now that was news. He felt as disappointed as she probably had moments before. She'd been with others since being with him? Sure, he was glad to know she thought he was best, but at the same time he did not like knowing he wasn't the only one. He'd been with nobody but her, and considering the fact that they'd had...whatever it was since Fourth year, it was just rude that she had thought it a good idea to just go and bone whoever she came in contact with. It didn't matter that he'd ignored her letters that came once a week for over a year - how dare she.
She seemed to notice she'd struck a nerve. "What?" She asked quickly.
"You couldn't keep your knickers on for a few months?" He spat. He quite enjoyed the way her eyes widened in shock, but didn't like it when they narrowed angrily. Pansy could be dangerous. That was partially why he'd chosen to stay on her good side for so long.
"A few months?" She cried, clearly outraged. "I wasn't aware that nearly a year and a half was equaled to just a few months. And not only that - you never once answered a single letter that I wrote. Busy or not, Draco, nobody's that busy. I was starting to think that you were dead, too! The only way I even found out that you hadn't went and got yourself a grave was because of the bloody newspaper."
"But you never thought to stop by, did you?" Draco was proud of how quickly that thought came to him, so he could turn the argument around. He was the victim here. He wasn't the one who'd gone off and shagged "a few people." He would have if anyone had come knocking, true, but he ignored that thought as quickly as it came. "I've suffered fates that you wouldn't even begin to explain, and even after the war you never thought to even come by and see if I was alright. I mean, you read the bloody articles. Clearly I was in need of some kind of comfort - but I suppose it was more important for you to let a few blokes - what was it? 'Soothe their nerves'?"
She opened her mouth to retort, and then closed it again. Inside he was smiling, smugly. He'd won. "You brought all of your family's misfortune on yourself. You knew what you were getting into when you decided to become a servant to the Dark Lord. I'm not sorry for you realizing what kind of mistake that you made and I doubt that you are either. The only reason you're upset and regret everything now is because of how badly it's affected your pockets. You're going to regret acting as though I'm some slag when you realize how many people just can't stand you." She stalked off then, slamming the compartment door behind her.
Draco blinked furiously. So, she did know that they were broke. This was not good. Pansy never kept a secret for long.