Draco forever stands on the edge of the forest. In the rain, in the sun, in the snow. Harry tries to save him, because in the end he just can't help himself. HPDM, Post-War
Chapter Seven - Dark
'You know, I never even – I didn't want to think about it again,' Harry offered conversationally, even as his eyes spoke darkness and unreachable chasms to a Hermione who didn't know which way to turn, or whether it was alright to want to run away and never look back.
She fidgeted with a distressed moan at the hem of the robe that she had passed him, and he had thrown back in her face. 'It's disrespectful to Cedric, but. I don't want to remember. It. Him like that.'
Hermione gaped, mouthed words in the air and came up with nothing. Placating didn't work; she'd tried a hundred times before now. 'I'm sorry,' she tried again, and winced as his face twisted and fell in painful silence.
His head slumped forward, like the will had simply gone from his body to keep it upright. His dark hair hid his eyes from hers, but the irregular rhythm of droplets on paper was all the indication she needed, and more than she'd ever want. 'There's nothing to be sorry for.' A deep breath in, and his torso shook like a tree in a gale. 'It's – this is actually good.' A barking laugh irrupted, alien to his static posture. 'You realise – I can get him back.'
Hermione shivered, and not from the cold. 'Harry – this spell, you know 'dark' doesn't even begin to describe... This cost. It's about cost, and I -'
'You don't think I should take it?' His head swung up, horribly akin to an animated corpse in her imagination, and his green eyes were on fire. 'It's just a fucking arm. I think I can spare an arm.'
She fought with gentle prodding and sad smiles, easing him into his robes even as he ranted and gesticulated wildly around his small quarters.
'We need to start – stop, no, I don't want the tie – we need to start working on the spell,' he hissed at her, flapping swathes of black around them both like the bat-like Snape of their childhoods. 'I – fuck this, 'Mione. I don't have to be there.'
'You do,' she needled, repeating her part in the well-worn exchange, voice robotic and expression heavy. 'The Headmistress needs you there. You've made a commitment -'
'Yes I've made a bloody commitment,' Harry snapped back, ripping at itching sleeve cuffs with stubby fingernails. 'He's out there, isn't he. I just need to tell him -'
'Sorting. Feast. Then tell him.' She sighed out like she was losing her youth in the breath. 'I'll – we'll look at the spell,' she added, and his head jerked, eyes hopeful.
'God – thanks. Thank you. I need help,' he closed his eyes, face drawn, and she studied the lines and creases the expression made in his face and cursed herself for feeling regret.
He waited until the children were in bed, like he'd promised, then he bolted out of the castle like he was escaping from the gates of hell.
The line on his hand re-opened easily under the sharp focus of the tip of his wand, even as it jumped about in his unsteady hand. As he lay the bleeding palm against the cold stone of Malfoy's face he tried to send every feeling of relief and gladness in his heart through each pulsing droplet of blood from the wound.
I like the robes, he heard, and the laughter bubbled up from his toes until he struggled to stand upright, even though the voice was quiet and as dry as all of the pages he'd nicked his fingertips on for hours the night before.
'I found it,' he whispered, and laughed again, self-conscious of the manic edge that seeped in.
...Oh. Merlin. Fuck. Really?
'Really. Honestly. Right where you said – after I went to the Manor, I just kept reading and reading – some of those bloody books had anti-charm wards. Took me fucking ages,' he smiled as he cried into white stone.
Potter. Malfoy was crying too. He could hear it in little hitches of breath that fluttered into his ear from nowhere, and he wished beyond anything he could see it, and feel it. I take it – this is good news, isn't it?
'Of course it is, you dick,' Harry grinned into the night. 'Yeah, yes. It is. I can get you out. Get you back.'
His head tipped down to rest his temple on the stone, in a pose that grew more familiar, more natural, with every visit. He tried to reign in the tears, and tried to avoid letting himself imagine Malfoy – an alive, human Draco with yielding flesh and moving limbs – and failed on both counts.
This seems too simple.
So quietly spoken, and Harry nearly punched the statue, to stop him thinking. To punish him for making them confront the hard truth. He pulled back, and his fallen face must have acted as the confirmation he never intended to give. Tell me what you're not telling me.
Harry's eyes squeezed shut, and his chin hit his chest. 'It's not -' he tried, before the sentence was aborted early by a sharp sob, and he breathed heavily through his nose. 'I can get you back. There's a spell. I've even -' Breathe in, out, in. He laughed, and it was humourless and sore in his throat. 'I've even seen it performed before.'
'Ah – in fourth year – I.' It's good news, Harry thought. He can come back. 'It's the spell – potion, I guess - that allowed Voldemort to return.'
He expected silence, he told himself. He pressed his palm harder against the stone anyway.
Then the soft hiss of a deep breath, one that Harry echoed, drawing in the cold September air. I – I don't know. You saw it?
Harry nodded, jerking the whole upper half of his body. 'The Triwizard – when we – Cedric. When he and I were portkeyed out of the maze. We were taken to a graveyard.' More breathing, big calming gulps that didn't quite take and escaped out of his chest too soon. 'They killed him. Then – then they used a potion – this spell, this spell I found – to re-create Voldemort's body.'
I'm no dark lord, Potter, Malfoy laughed in his skull, high and bitter. I'm a fucking statue, do you really think -
'Yes. Yes I really think.' Harry smeared the dampness of tears across his face with the hem of his new teaching robes, voice resolute. 'I even understand the magic. Your soul – you're in there,' he tapped on the marble, 'and the spell will reform your body. We - I just need to stick some stuff in it first,' Harry added, like he was discussing a first year Potions test, perusing the store-cupboard with a wrinkle-nosed Ron in tow. 'Easy.' He snorted through his tears.
Easy, Malfoy echoed, like he was tasting the word. It's not easy at all, is it. Potter...
Harry laughed again, heart pounding and high on the adrenaline. 'No - definitely not - but you know I'll do it. I will do it.'
I – yes. I know. But...
Harry shook his head, preempting what he didn't want to hear.
What if I don't want you to?
'No. Sorry. I'll still do it – you don't even know what it is. You don't have to know.'
Potter – tell me. Tell me what you have to do.
'Why?' Harry asked incredulously, hand slipping on the wet stone. 'It doesn't matter! It'll happen, it's going to happen, Hermione's even going to help me with it – we'll get Slughorn on it if we need to...'
Harry's forehead thunked against Malfoy's, the jar of the contact shuddering through his skull and down his spine, and quoted from memory. Not from the book – a much more staying memory than that.
'Bone of the father, unknowingly given, you will renew your son. Flesh of the servant, willingly given, you will revive your master. Blood of the enemy, forcibly taken, you will resurrect your foe. '
He shivered, drawing inwards against the cold in his chest.
Bone of the father... Malfoy whispered across his ear, the gentle sibilants sliding through his head.
Silence rang again between Harry and Not-Malfoy, and the sound of his raspy breath mingled with the gentle breeze.
I have no servant. I can't call you my enemy. It won't work. He sounded definitive. Final.
'Hermione says anyone who ever attacked you would do. So I'd count. As an enemy,' Harry murmured. 'But that wasn't what I had in mind for myself.'
No. Angry now, as well as sad. Flesh – what does that even mean?
'Pettigrew cut off a hand,' Harry offered, pressing his damp cheek against the back of his own hand, cupped tenderly still over Malfoy's stone jaw. 'I'd need to take an oath to you, before, I think, anyway...' he trailed off, eyes closing. 'It's not that bad. It could be much worse, actually.'
Not that bad – it's your hand. Your fucking hand.
'Probably an arm, actually. Since I'm not your Death Eater or anything,' Harry added, and winced against the bellow in his head.
Harry fidgeted restlessly as he watched the last class of the day filter in through the open door to his classroom. Second years, and should be easy enough. He'd a while ago made a relatively relaxing lesson plan for this one – something simple to ease them into the rigor of a new school year - and if only he knew how grateful he'd be to himself in the future.
He set them off on simple essays – 'Describe the one spell you wish to learn about before the end of term, and why.' Hermione had advised a gentle, boring approach to shock them out of hero worship, and lo and behold adoring looks had quickly soured to disappointed ones not long after they'd taken their seats.
Harry was fine with that. His mind was elsewhere.
Elsewhere was currently situated in the grounds below the classroom window, and his eyes barely looked away. Dutiful prowling of the classroom had to be abandoned when he caught himself once too often staring forlornly out of a glass pane earlier that morning, illiciting confused and interested whispers from behind him.
The first one he'd heard – a hiss that quickly melded the words 'Malfoy' and 'Death Eater'- had bought the student in question a quick pass to exit the classroom and not return.
He was turning into Snape already, and it was only the first day.
He didn't care.
'It's complicated,' Hermione sighed at him, and Harry resisted the urge to introduce his forehead violently to the table. He'd been expecting that. You didn't resurrect the unnameable nightmare of your former enemy on an afternoon's worth of stirring, and the odd ingredient or two from the Herbology greenhouses.
'How long?' He scraped his chair back in her kitchen and slumped against it, rubbing his eyes.
'I don't know – maybe a month,' she rushed out, and tried to ignore the look in his eyes as his hand impacted with the worn work surface with a thud. 'We'll have to source some things illegally. To be honest, the whole thing will be illegal – Harry, I don't even know where to start about the seriousness of cutting off your own arm.'
'It'll be fine,' he grunted, staring at the low ceiling. 'It doesn't specify which one, so I can still keep my right hand for writing and spells.'
Hermione's eyes sharpened then, and she sat more confidently in her seat. 'It's not the practicality of it I'm worried about,' she snapped back. 'You can't even be certain you'll survive it!'
Harry clicked forward in his chair, and glared at her. 'Are we really going to argue about whether my life is worth his? Because you know what I think.'
'He was a Death Eater.'
'He as much choice as I've ever had in this.'
'How are you going to explain a missing arm to the Headmistress? And the students?'
'Same way I'll explain a living Malfoy. Magic.'
She hissed at him, gripping at the table edge. 'Harry Potter. Don't you dare.'
'I don't even see what the problem is,' he countered, setting both feet firmly on the floor. 'I can't just leave him. You know that.' He closed his eyes. 'What if it was Ron?'
He breathed heavily through his nose. 'What if it was? If it was Ron, out on the grounds, made of rock. You'd cut off my arm yourself.'
'Harry,' she warned. The tone of her voice caught in his ear and when he opened his eyes, he realised she was crying.
'You know I have to,' he whispered.
'Yes,' she nodded, tears dripping from her chin. 'I do.'
Many apologies for the hiatus, but now it's over, and we can get onto the real fun of it all. And by real fun I mean hardcore angstiness. Sorry. :)
Thanks for reading x