Title: Mighty Have Fallen
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Pairings: Harry/Draco pre-slash
Warnings: Issues of disability, angst, gore, Draco being a bastard
Summary: When he heard Harry Potter had been blinded, Draco knew he had to see him. To gloat, of course.
Author's Notes: This is another one of my Advent fics, written for thrilladdict. She asked for a situation where either Draco or Harry was blinded or otherwise hurt, and the other one visited them to gloat over them. Here you are!
Mighty Have Fallen
Draco paced around his study for a second. Then he stopped and eyed the door, imagining what his father would say if he came in and saw Draco doing something so undignified.
Not that his father was home at the moment to see him and say anything about it, of course. But that wasn't the point.
Draco licked his lips and glanced around, then decided that he might as well take one more look at the picture that had inspired him in the first place. If it was enough inspiration, then he could leave now. If not, he would have to find something else to push him out the door.
He stalked back to the table where the Daily Prophet lay, and stared down at it. He tried to imagine the way he was standing, and whether it would be enough to intimidate Potter if he was here in person.
It wasn't enough to affect the photograph. Then again, the picture showed Potter staring into the distance with silent, glazed eyes. Around him scurried Healers and Aurors, cleaning up the bodies of those former Death Eaters who had tortured Potter. But the Potter in the picture wouldn't ever pay attention to someone as mundane as Draco.
Draco sniffed and examined the headline.
CHOSEN ONE BLINDED IN DARK RITUAL!
Draco didn't need to read the article; he already knew it by heart, although the paper had only come out this morning. The Carrows had escaped custody—and the Minister vowed they would be looking into how that had happened—and had caught Potter. They'd apparently intended to remove everything small about his body, including his tongue, his fingernails, and his teeth. But they'd only got to his eyes before the Aurors caught up with them.
The Healers had apparently given Potter artificial eyes, the glazed orbs that appeared when Potter's eyelids blinked up. His real ones were completely gone. And it had been too long since they were attached to their sockets for the Healers to attach them again. He would be blind for the rest of his life.
Draco closed his eyes and a shiver that was almost sexual coursed through his body, the same one that he'd felt when he heard about all the detentions Umbridge had given Potter.
Photographs and news from a distance weren't enough. He had to see for himself.
It hadn't been too difficult to locate the Apparition coordinates of the small house where Potter was staying now. Draco still had contacts—contacts that were more his than his father's, now, with the amount of time Lucius had spent out of the country—and they had bribed people and sought people out and done numerous other things, under the assurance Draco had given them that this would repay some of the favors they owed the Malfoys.
So this is it.
Draco reached down and absently wiped his palms on his trousers. He couldn't take his eyes from the house—the hovel, really. It was made of stone, sturdy enough, but small enough that Draco couldn't imagine having room to turn around inside. Vines twined about the walls and tree branches leaned on the roof. Draco wondered if that made Potter feel more secure.
Then he snorted. I bet it's empty. Trust Potter to trip over anything in the way, now that he can't see.
The shivers had started up again, curling around his spine. Draco took a step nearer, then another. He cast a spell that would detect wards.
Nothing except the kind that would tell Potter someone was near. Draco marveled at the lack of antagonistic spells, but then he had to pause and think again. The seclusion of the place was probably Potter's best defense. If he did know that someone was there, how could he see them to shoot curses at them?
Unable to stop grinning, a kind of grin that pulled his lips back and almost made them crack and bleed, Draco stepped briskly up and tapped on the door.
There was a long silence, a silence that made Draco aware for the first time that he'd heard shuffles of movement inside. Then there was another kind of complicated shuffling, one that made its way over to the door, and the door jerked back.
Potter stood inside, leaning heavily on the frame.
Draco licked his lips, and found nothing to say. He had wanted to laugh, he had wanted to come up with the perfect taunt, but really, nothing could be more perfect than the depth of the despair in Potter's face.
"Who's there?" Potter whispered at last.
Draco replied. He didn't have any reason not to do it now. "Draco Malfoy."
Potter made a noise like a snake, but didn't reach for the wand he carried at his side. All Draco would have to do would be to step to the side, and Potter would miss him. Maybe some blind wizards might have advantages or senses that compensated for their blindness, but the torture had happened too recently for Potter to have accumulated those kinds of defenses.
Potter folded his arms. His clothes were ragged and torn, Draco noticed, his shirt on inside-out. He shifted, to hold onto his delight.
"Why are you here?" Potter snarled at him.
Draco shoved past him in response. It occurred to him—a new thought—that he could touch Potter, and Potter couldn't move to catch him or avoid it. For now, he had enough to satisfy him with one hand flat on Potter's chest and the other splayed across his hip, full of flesh and bone.
"To gloat, of course," Draco drawled, stepping inside and turning around neatly near the mantle, full of the grace Potter had lost. "Why else?"
Potter just looked at him—
No. Not looked at him. He stood there with his head lowered, and his eyelids fluttered and parted and then closed down again before Draco could get a good sense of the glass orbs the Healers had placed under them. He thought from the photograph in the paper that they were the same deep green as Potter's original eyes, but that didn't help, didn't it? Potter could never use them to see anything.
Draco frowned. There was a slight feeling of dissatisfaction in him, and after a moment, he identified it with the way that Potter just stood there, his head drooping, instead of fighting back.
Well, really. Draco hadn't expected him to give up this easily. He would have stayed away if he'd known. The triumph over an utterly broken enemy wasn't worth coming this far.
"Potter," he said. "What do you have to say to that?"
"You might as well," Potter mumbled. His voice had an odd sound. Smoke without fire, Draco thought, listening. It was as if something that normally hissed and crackled had turned into a flat, ashy mutter. "Why not? The Healers pitied me, and my friends want to do something to help me, but they can't. I shut them all out. You might as well take their place and speak taunting words to me. I've only heard them from the Carrows so far. Why not?"
He turned and began to walk away, and slammed his hip on a small table that leaned against the wall. The grating sound as the table's small legs slid seemed louder than the room could possibly contain.
Draco found that he was holding his breath. He let it out again, annoyed. There was nothing breathtaking about Potter.
Potter reached one hand up and felt at his hip. He prodded, he poked, and he let his hand linger, as if the feeling of the cloth could replace his eyes. Then he shook his head, dropped his hand, and limped carefully towards an arched entrance that led to another room.
Draco followed him, frowning, not knowing what he wanted or how he had expected Potter to react. No, wait, he did know that. It was what he had come here wanting. Taunts, spitting words as Potter tried to defend himself, and Draco could throw it back in his face and remind him that, this time, he had lost his sight. He could never gain it back, the articles in the paper had said. Nothing was left of the structure of his eyes, and even the most advanced Healing magic had to connect with something that was already there.
Potter had lost.
Draco stopped. Of course that was what he had come here for. Of course that was what he wanted.
He stood in the entrance of what turned out to be a kitchen, and watched Potter inching his way around, as wary as though the floor was covered with stones to trip him. Draco hissed a little as Potter tipped water into a kettle and splashed some on the counter. Then Potter groped around until he dipped his fingers in the water, and groped with his other hand until he reached a towel to clean it up.
Draco stared at him, waiting for the impulse to float the towel out of reach, his own familiar need to make Potter's life more difficult. It should have been there. Draco knew how he had changed since school, and how he hadn't. Becoming more gracious wasn't one of those ways.
But he already knew how Potter would react if he floated the towel away. He would sigh, and stagger with fluttering fingers, and never be able to see how Draco kept it draped in the air just out of reach.
What good was teasing him, if he wouldn't respond? If he couldn't?
"The article said that you would never fly again," Draco said abruptly.
"Yeah, that's right." Potter's voice was damp and broken as he slowly drew his wand. He waved it around in the air like a dowsing rod until he located the kettle, and then said a Warming Charm in a pathetic voice. Draco knew eleven-year-olds who could have done it better. The water in the kettle began to heat, and Potter slumped against the counter and stared at it.
No, didn't stare.
"Look at me," Draco said.
Potter didn't react. "I'm not sensitized to those words anymore," he mumbled. "The Healers kept saying things like that the first days, like 'Now you see,' and then apologizing. It doesn't matter, Malfoy. You came too late. The Carrows already did something to me that was worse than what you ever did."
If he had said that in a way that showed he meant to hurt Draco, then Draco could have fought him. He could have laughed and recounted his triumphs, or gloated about the Carrows'. If there had been spirit left to Potter, he could have crushed it.
But the way Potter said it…
Draco had come too late. Circumstances, or the Carrows, or other people, had already stamped flat all the glorious standing wheat of Potter's pride and arrogance. There was a muddy field left now.
A muddy field for a soul…
Draco had never wanted that, although he hadn't known it until now because he had never pictured that happening to Potter. He had wanted to set the crops on fire himself, and burn down everything around Potter's ears, and then have the experience of murderous eyes glaring at him through the cage bars.
Not this. Not this way.
"Look at me anyway," Draco whispered.
Potter turned towards him, stumbling and slow as a buffalo. His head was lowered, but when Draco said something—he could never remember later what it was—in a low voice, he lifted his head, and lifted his eyelids.
The glass balls the Healers had chosen were fastened only to the socket alone, and kept by magic from rolling out. They had no nerves to connect to. The Carrows had burned Potter's eye sockets when they were done with pulling out his eyes, said the newspaper. Potter would never have anything there. Never again.
And the glass balls were expertly made, to give the look of whites and pupils, but the color was wrong. Maybe it always would have been, Draco thought, heart like a slow drum, as he stared. No one had eyes like Potter's. That bright, indignant green, the way it could flame when he looked at Draco as Draco insulted him about his parents.
It was wrong.
"They got the color of your eyes wrong," Draco said abruptly.
Potter snorted a little. There was no amusement in the sound, no more than blowing out a puff of ash would create. "I can't even remember what the color was, Malfoy. I don't think anyone else will notice."
No, Draco thought, they wouldn't. Everyone else around Potter was kinder than he was. Or else they didn't remember the color, either. They would keep silent out of either ignorance or because they didn't want to cause Potter more pain.
They would let it go, and over time, silence would slide into true ignorance. They would think of the way Potter's eyes looked now as the way they were. They would never remember. And Potter had a hundred years or more to live, as a wizard. They wouldn't look at old photographs anymore, by the time he was that age. He might still give interviews to the papers, but they would decide that dull green shade, that glassiness, was the way he had been. No one would remember that it was wrong.
Draco did, though.
And he was going to do something about it.
"The Healers told you that you couldn't get a magical eye?" he asked harshly. "Not like the one that Moody had?"
Potter jerked a little, but just nodded, still not awake in the way that Draco wanted him to be, still not responsive. "That's right," he said, when it must have become obvious from the silence that Draco was waiting for an answer. "They had to fasten that eye to what remained of his old one. I don't have enough left."
His voice whispered. There might have been self-pity in it. In truth, it was so soft that Draco couldn't really discern the emotion.
And that was wrong, too. Potter was fire and wit and the challenge that Draco had always wanted to conquer. Not this broken mess, more broken than if he'd fallen off his broom. Draco hadn't been the one to push him.
And that was wrong.
"There are potions the Healers don't know about," Draco murmured. "They don't teach them, because they're Dark. They require human blood," he added, because maybe he was wrong, but he thought the particular slump of Potter's neck at the moment was one of interest, instead of simple hopelessness. "And in this case, they would require the vitreous liquids of the eye, too, and other ingredients. But they can regrow things."
Potter stood there with his hands locked in fists in front of his knees. Then he said, "You're lying."
Pleasure in Draco opened like a hungry flower. There was his sun.
"I'm not," Draco said mildly. "The potions would require an awful lot of effort, Potter, and there's no way you could help, except by giving your blood. You wouldn't know one way or the other if I was making them right even if you could see, thanks to your miserable background in Potions theory."
He paused, and listened. Yes, he thought Potter had growled. That made him want to fly.
"So I'm going to make them," Draco said. "I'm going to give you your eyes back, because no one else can, the incompetent fools. And I'm going to regrow them the exact same color and shape they were before, and with the same kind of vision."
"Even a little bit of vision would be better than what I have now," Potter whispered.
Draco nodded, realized it was useless, and said, "Exactly. The potions would take at least a few years to complete, so you'll have to get used to this. But not too used to it, because you'll see again by the time I'm done with you."
Silence crowded with breath, and then Potter asked, "Why are you doing this?"
Draco had the answer, spilling out of him with the fluidity that his insults always had when confronted with Potter. "Because I want you to see it coming when I punch you in the jaw."
A soft, croaking noise came out of Potter. Laughter, as if the Carrows had cauterized his vocal chords as well.
Then Potter reached out his hand.
Draco could have avoided it. He could have slapped Potter's hand away. He could have stood there and watched Potter flail.
He could have done all of those things, and because he had a choice, he touched Potter's hand and let Potter's fingers explore his palm, seeing him the only way he could, right now.
Then Potter lifted his head, and while the eyes were wrong, the smile was the way it should be, as bright and as free. As blazing. Still the kind of smile that Draco wanted to punch, but now he could imagine other ways it could be, and he was grateful for this one.
Grateful. Potter did strange things to him, that was certain.
But now, Draco's restlessness was settled, for the first time since he had seen the article announcing Potter's blindness. He was going to get Potter back. He was going to get his challenge back, his rival, the only one that he had ever wanted to conquer personally instead of fighting them because they were enemies of his family.
And now that he thought about it, Draco could imagine other, even more pleasant ways of conquering Potter…
He smiled, and let Potter raise his hand and find the edges of his smile with his fingers.