A/N: The little song in this chapter goes along with the melody (With a few similar lyrics/meanings) from 'Safe and Sound' by Taylor Swift and 'Shake it Out' by Florence + The Machine. If you're curious to know how it sounds, it's based off the beginning tune of the second song mentioned. I recommend it to those who don't have much of an ear for music but want to know the tune of it. Anyhow, read on.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to concerns of whether or not lyrics straight from a song are permitted, they have newly and properly been omitted in one way or another. No lyric is word-for-word of the original works used. Update made: April 29, 2012.
Many days had passed, but all that inhabited Malfoy Manor always felt rather disquiet and continually kept on the alert. Voldemort knew by this point that Harry wasn't dead yet. He could feel his living presence. According to Lucius Malfoy, the Dark Lord was searching for Harry like a madman, destroying nearly everything in his path while his followers terrorised and seized more and more of the Wizarding World.
It was strange for Harry however, to see the man, Lucius Malfoy, who he always thought to be obdurate and heartless, risking his family's life by housing him within his home. They spoke scarcely to each other over the passing time period. Lucius would occasionally go down to the cellar and inform Harry of the Dark Lord's current movements. The more details with which Lucius spoke of the murders and unforgivable crimes Voldemort committed, the more Harry boiled. Guilt gnawed at him like a savage beast and never once did it back away from his mind. He could only put the blame on himself. After all, if he had been able to stop the Dark Lord sooner, none of this would have happened.
Eventually, the agony had overwhelmed Harry. It drove him to the point where he attempted to sneak out of the manor to confront his enemy himself. Of course, he was aware the odds were against him. It was very possible that he wouldn't make it back alive; but anything was better than just sitting there and doing nothing.
It was late at night, almost nearing dawn. Harry had not caught a wink of sleep that night and finally decided to make an escape. All was well up until the point he opened the door leading out of the drawing room and into the hall. Draco had also been up the entire time. He was also kept awake by the consumption of his own contrition. The creak of the door and sound of footsteps had alerted him that someone was awake. It could have been no one other than Harry. Draco had appeared at the entrance right before Harry could stretch his hand towards the knob.
"Don't even try!" Draco had said to Harry, grabbing him by the arm and pulling him away from the door. "It would be plain foolish of you to go out there in your condition! You would be dead after taking no more than a step out this door! My parents have gone through a great deal to keep you hidden here, and you would be wrong to let their efforts go to waste!"
"WE CAN'T JUST SIT HERE AND DO NOTHING!" Harry barked at him. "He's going around freely killing people! He needs to be stopped!"
"YOU THINK I DON'T KNOW THAT?" Draco yelled back, tightening his grip on Harry's arm. The regret in his blue eyes was as clear as daylight. From the dark circles under his eyes, Harry also assumed that this wasn't his first sleepless night. After a short silence, Draco took a deep breath and continued in a controlled voice. "There's nothing you can do. You're not ready to face him yet." He stated, collecting his thoughts in a pause. "But I'm going to help you win. The people he killed were my classmates as much as they were yours."
"You were on his side! You're as much at fault as the rest of those bloody Death Eaters!"
I've done them wrong! I've done... wrong things, I know. But I'm going to fix it."
"It's too late for that. Do you not know they're dead, Draco?" Harry said with a venomous edge to his voice.
"But it's not too late to change myself." Draco said, careful to keep his voice even. "If I die, I'm going to die doing what's right." They had stared one another down for a while, neither willing to break eye contact. Then, Harry released a heated breath, pushed past Draco and grudgingly returned to his cellar where he stayed for more days to come.
As he was to stay undercover, Harry was advised to rarely leave his new 'room'. It wasn't a very difficult task, but he could feel himself maddening more and more with each hour that passed within that dark, cold confinement. Every passing moment he found more reasons to blame himself for everything wrong that was happening. Eventually, it was as though the weight of the world rested upon Harry's shoulders and it kept pushing him down, deeper and deeper into the abyss of depression.
Each night a new nightmare, as brutal and terrible as the last, appeared every time he closed his eyes. He would either awake a million times throughout the night, sweaty and panicked, or wouldn't get a wink of sleep. But he kept quiet about it and told no one about these night time terrors. In fact, Harry never said much. It was as though he was a ghost, haunting and wandering aimlessly around the manor, a ghastly expression on his face. Those handsome green eyes, now hollow and desolate, held behind them tormenting images of dearly departed companions and family lost at the hands of the war. His mind couldn't completely comprehend that he would never see any of them ever again. It all felt too surreal to him.
Other than informing him of Voldemort's advancements and calling him to dinners which he never attended, the Malfoys generally let Harry keep to himself. But worry festered within Narcissa Malfoy. She feared that Harry may have gone mad by now or there may not be much of a mind left to work with. At this rate, it could be assumed that he would soon be nothing but an empty, soulless shell at which point he would be incapable of fighting anything. Narcissa couldn't even fathom what it would be like to lose everyone and everything you have ever known and loved and not be capable of doing anything about it. After such an event, anyone would be in Harry's condition, if not worse. But things would become much worse if he wasn't healed soon. So in due time Narcissa finally approached him.
"Harry," She called down into his cellar, peeking into the dark, depressing place that the boy had long been enclosed in. "Are you here?" She asked. Of course, she knew that he would be. The boy had not sought daylight since he recovered nearly three weeks ago so it was highly likely that he would be nowhere else. Soon enough, he responded a bit late an emotionless, 'yes' from deep within the room. Following the voice, Narcissa found him lying on his bed, turned away and facing the wall. When she approached his bedside, he didn't turn back to look at her so she sighed and placed a hand on his shoulder. "You need to eat, dear. I haven't seen you eat a single thing this entire time. You're starting to turn back into that scrawny ten-year old boy from his first year."
"I'm not hungry." He said easily.
In turn, Narcissa tightened her hold on his shoulder in a way that comforted Harry and whispered to him, "They're not coming back. You and I both know that. Living like this won't help anything."
"Living like what?"
"Don't play dumb with me, Harry. I mean living the way you are- you don't eat, you barely sleep, you wander aimlessly, and don't speak a word to another soul. You may as well be a dead man yourself. It's not healthy and it's not going to benefit anyone."
"Please, just return to your dinner. Don't let me spoil it." It was an obvious attempt to evade the problem at hand, but Narcissa was much too coy for that to faze her.
"Look at me, Harry." He continued to stare ahead at nothing in particular. She called his name once more but it was like speaking to a brick wall. The chances of hearing something in return were slim to none. It took one more holler of his name followed by a tight squeeze on his shoulder for him to finally turn and face her.
The sight before Narcissa simply left her breathless and she was forced to hold in a gasp. What she had said was right; he truly did resemble a dead man. As she had never spotted him around the mansion, her first glance at him after so long took her by surprise. In the natural light of day leaking in from a small cellar window, she was given the chance to see how greatly Harry had changed – certainly not for the better.
His green eyes, so much like Lilly Evans, showed a never ending void, as though he had lost his very soul. They looked tired as well, bags under them and dry from shedding tears. Harry's face was even gaunt and paler than usual, almost ghostly. Truly one could say he resembled a corpse. Before speaking again she had to take a deep breath from the consternation his appearance had given her.
"Do you not want to avenge your friends, all those who loved you and died fighting to save you?"
"What good would it do?"
"What good would it do to do nothing? Draco told me how you wanted to fight and tried to run away not too long ago. Where did that determination go?" Harry didn't say a word so Narcissa continued. "Would you rather die starving yourself, or would you die valiantly like they did? You're the only one who can stop the Dark Lord!" Yet again he was silent but she knew she had hit a soft nerve.
In a less argumentative way he said, "I'll never be able to take the Death Eaters and Voldemort all alone."
"You won't have to." There was a split second of shock on his features but it was quickly shielded by his usual mortifying complexion
"If you're saying that your family is going to help me, it still won't be enough to do anything. We'll all die."
"Then we'll die fighting."
"What would that achieve?"
"It would be better than dying knowing you didn't do a thing when you had the chance. At the very least, you would die feeling accomplished. I'm sure that's what everyone would have wanted." Narcissa could see the resistance draining from Harry's face. She could have been wrong, but there was even the smallest sparkle of hope in his eyes. Giving him a small, encouraging smile, she slowly helped him up. "Come. Let's get some food into you."
An incredible change, a miracle actually had taken place. The boy who was merely a lifeless corpse a few days ago began to show signs of life. Bit by bit, he was retrieved from among the dead.
The first step was to get him to eat. It started with nothing but small bites at a time but soon he began to eat normally, reverting into his strong and healthy self, growing even. Then he proceeded to talk just a little, giving small responses here and there but eventually those turned into long conversations, snide comments, and jokes every now and again. But the greatest change was that he had formed new bonds.
All on his own, Harry became closer with each member of the Malfoy family, something he had never even dreamed of. Draco and Harry talked, joked, and laughed together. All past disputes had flown out the window, leaving space for a newfound friendship to develop. They weren't as close as Ron and Harry were but there weren't quarrels of any kind. They gave each other company when necessary and that was enough to keep them both on good terms. Lucius's distaste for Harry also seemed to have subsided for the most part.
When he wasn't out playing one of Voldemort's devoted followers he spent time with Draco and Harry, training them for the moment when they'll have to fight side by side. Lucius quickly learned that Harry was already a very capable wizard. Though his arsenal of spells was in small amount, the common ones which Harry did know were extremely powerful. He also learned new spells easily and with a bit of practice, mastered them as though he had been using them all his life. Lucius couldn't help but feel proud of him though he never visibly expressed it. The congratulations were tacit by the nods of approval Lucius gave when Harry perfected a spell. They were just enough to create a solid courage in Harry. He began to believe in himself, an aspect he required given the situation. However, among these growing relationships Harry and Narcissa's was the one that strengthened and grew the most.
While the Malfoy men were out, dutifully portraying their roles as Death Eaters, Harry and Narcissa were left alone. Once Harry had somewhat overcome his gloomy stage, he willingly helped Narcissa with errands and housework while the house-elves were busy with other chores. Harry helped her decorate the garden, occasionally prepare dinner, and even go out for groceries or new clothes. It was pure luck that the Malfoys had Polyjuice Potion so Harry could leave the house now and then as either Draco or Lucius. The fresh air did him good and proved to bring some sanity back into his system.
In the process of spending so much time together, Narcissa and Harry gave each other good company. They often shared jokes and had long, mind-opening conversations. They soon even became each other's confidents. Some of Narcissa's past troubles and fears came to light as did Harry's. Narcissa spoke of how she would do anything to change the fate of her husband, about becoming a Death Eater, and about how she failed at keeping her son away from that same fate. But the talks about Bellatrix Lestrange were what intrigued Harry the most. It was hard, of course, for Harry to see that dark, sinister woman in a good light but Narcissa always spoke so fondly of her when she brought her up.
She mentioned how they had shared a special, unbreakable bond. They were always together, inseparable. Narcissa had always looked up to her older sister. She also admitted that Bellatrix was always a sort of lunatic, though in an admirable and entertaining way; whereas now she was completely off her nut. However, each time Harry asked how it was that Bellatrix had changed, Narcissa stayed silent for a while before proceeding to say, "The evil consumed her." There was never any other response. Eventually, Harry had left the question unanswered though the curiosity remained in the back of his mind.
All in all though, everything seemed to be looking up for Harry. He could smile again, he could laugh, and he could cherish happy moments. There wasn't a worry in sight as Voldemort had seemingly lost his pursue of Harry and focused on his takeover. And of course Harry knew outside this almost perfect home, a war was going on, but he chose to ignore it for the time being. The time would come when he had to face it. For now, he wanted nothing but to spend every joyful occasion as though they were his last which they might as well have been. But this fantasy happy-ending concluded all too soon.
The same setting from the day he had escaped his death enveloped Harry as he was once more running for his life. But one thing was different. This time, everyone was with him, and by that, he meant everyone- Remus, Tonks, Hermione, the Weasleys, the Order, his professors, the Malfoys, his parents, and more. Dead or alive, all those he had loved were present with him. It set an ease inside of him; but it vanished once a horrendous snake-like cackle pierced his ears. With it, colourful arrays of thousands of spells were cast among his ranks and his friends and allies went down like flies. Harry couldn't even bring himself to look away from the gruesome sight. Screams of pain followed by the silence of death filled the air.
When he had gained the courage to look ahead again, there were only two people remaining with him- his parents James and Lilly Potter. Each one held his hand on either side and smiled at him. Harry felt as giddy as a child and couldn't help but smile despite being in a dreadful situation. His parents were tangible. For once, he could touch them, feel their warmth. It was sensational; but suddenly, the hands in his went cold and limp. Immediately, he stopped and their dead bodies fell to the ground beside him. Suddenly vulnerable, Harry fell to his knees and let tears freely flow down his face. They were the first people he had lost in his life, and here they were the last to go.
When a sharp searing pain stung his lightning scar, he too fell to the dirt. His vision was blurred by the sheer intensity of the pain but he could make out a figure over him- Voldemort with a cynical grin on his face.
"The Boy- Who-Lived... your time has come." The pain spread through his entire body, sending him into a series of violent spasms and convulsions.
"WAKE UP, HARRY! WAKE UP!" His eyes fluttered open and he bolted upright, finding Narcissa Malfoy sitting next to his bed. Harry was drenched in sweat, tangled in his sheets, taking fast, ragged breaths, and his throat was sore; indicating that he had been screaming in his sleep again. This time he had been heard. Seeing that his eyes had opened at last, Narcissa pulled him into a hug. "Thank Merlin, you're awake." She pulled away from the embrace and pushed his damp hair from his forehead. "These nightmares have been recurring, haven't they?" She inquired. Slowly, Harry nodded.
"What are they about? Voldemort?"
"They involve him very often." Harry said honestly in a whisper.
"You see your friends in the nightmares?" He nodded forlornly. "Do you see them... die in front of you?"
"Most times, yes."
"Are these nightmares why you haven't been able to sleep? The reason why you always look so tired?" A single nod was given again. "And you never told any of us because?"
"I... I never thought it was important." Narcissa shook her head and gently laid Harry back onto his bed.
"Of course it's important, Harry. Had you told any of us earlier, we could think of a way for you to get some rest." Then they sat in silence together for a while as she soothingly combed her fingers through Harry's hair as a mother may do to console her own child. She really had no idea what to say in this situation but she wished she did. Personally, she never knew anyone who had gone through so many hardships. Except for... "I know the perfect remedy. This always helped me get back to sleep after a bad dream." She tapped her finger on her chin for a bit, trying to remember what the words were as she had not heard them herself for what could be ages now. Finally, the words just as she had heard them so long ago dawned on her. Though she could only remember part of the song, Narcissa knew it would be enough to soothe him. She lightly cleared her throat, continued stroking Harry's hair, and in a voice as smooth and sweet as honey she sang.
I'm here to relieve your darkest moments
Close your eyes and soon the sun will rise
Don't let anything put you down
All may seem bleak and grey right now
But keep your head up high, and soon you will fly
It will be dark before the dawn
Just leave the past behind
With morning light, you'll be alright
I'll be by your side when the day arrives
Bury your fears into the ground
No one can hurt you now, I will make that vow
Just close your eyes and all will be fine
I have been fool and I have been blind
But I'll always be with you and we will pull through
I will keep you safe all by myself
I'm here to relieve your darkest moments
Know this lullaby and you'll never cry
It's will be dark before the dawn
As though the lyrics were a spell, Harry instantly found himself in a serene, sedative slumber. But as he slipped away into the peaceful hands of sleep, Harry made certain to cling to and remember each word. It was a remarkably melodious, harmonious, and tranquil little tune. He wished to always treasure the song. In a sense, it had warmed Harry to his very core. It had easily created a sense of complete placidity over him. He couldn't even remember the last time he was so at ease with himself. The short yet sweet lullaby was so beautiful, so hypnotising that it could likely tame even the most savage of beasts. It was the first time he was greeted by an undisturbed slumber.
However, this rest was short lived. A series of a large amount of thundering footsteps followed by countless, rowdy shouts and yells from a group of people had instantaneously awoken him. Again, Harry shot up like a bullet from his bed and was slapped by the searing burn of his scar.
"Oh no." He thought as he pushed back the pain as best as he could and snatched his glasses, pushing them up his nose while his mind desperately tried to overcome its groggy and hazy state so he could reclaim his senses. "He can't be here! Not yet!" He screamed internally, not wanting to believe that his enemies had finally discovered him. It would have been idiotic to think this new happier life would last forever. He was very much aware that it had to end but... not now. It was too early. He wanted more time. It all passed too quickly. More time to be happy, more time to enhance his magic, more time to live... But no matter how much he wished for it, fate had made up its mind. The long-awaited battle was underway.
Harry quickly changed into blue pants and a plain white t-shirt then scurried to the gate of his little cell and looked through the bars. As soon as he reached it Draco was a few steps above, looking down at Harry. The blond boy tried to keep his complexion controlled but the fear and alarm was clear as daylight in his eyes. Draco didn't say a single word, but merely put a finger to his lips and mouthed the words, 'He's here' then hurried back up the stairs.