Title: Some Kind of Miracle (2/?)
Author: Annie (_pinkchocolate)
Warnings: Everything up to ch 14 disregards DH
Disclaimer: I just take JK Rowling's world and make it slashy.
Summary: Draco was determined to live the last nine months of his life with no regrets. But when a series of unfortunate events exposes a list of his innermost wishes, ambitions, and desires to Harry Potter’s eyes, he might find that facing his imminent death is not so easy after all.
Word Count: 4363
Notes: Beta'd by the lovely Emily, Christine, and Sharon.
What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.
- T.S. Eliot
Harry eventually returned to the Leaky Cauldron. When he walked in, he immediately located Ginny sitting at one of the tables at the back of the pub and made his way over to her. For several minutes after he sat down, neither of them said anything to the other. Harry had no intention of telling Ginny where he had been or what he had done, and she, in turn, did not ask.
After a while, Harry spoke up. “Ginny…”
She looked up. Her eyes were a dull, washed-out shade of brown. “I’m sorry, Harry. But you were hurting and I had to do something.”
Harry looked away. He couldn’t tell her it was okay; it wasn’t. “Did we… y’know… last night…?”
“Yes,” she replied without hesitation. “It was my fault. I shouldn’t have slipped the potion into your drink. I’m so sorry, Harry. I wasn’t thinking straight; you were in an awful condition, and all I could focus on was making you feel better. I know this probably doesn’t mean anything to you, but if it’s any consolation, I won’t hold you to anything. We don’t have to do it again, I promise.”
Harry flinched. “Right.”
He stared at the faded rings in the wooden surface of the table, at a complete loss for words. What could he say? “About last night… sorry, I don’t remember any of it, but that’s your fault for slipping that Forgetfulness Potion into my drink, so let’s pretend it never happened”? As inadequate as Harry was when it came to romance, even he knew better than to say something so frank.
When he felt Ginny lay a hand on his arm, Harry looked up. She was watching him with concern in her eyes. “You know you have to go back to Hogwarts on Sunday, right?”
Harry’s mind flashed back to the trial. Malfoy would be at Hogwarts, too.
“Yeah,” he said listlessly. “Yeah, I know.”
“Good. I was worried I’d have to drag you along with me. McGonagall is right. It’s what Dumbledore would have wanted.”
“Dumbledore would have wanted all of us to be happy and alive right now,” said Harry, his anger roused by the mention of his former mentor. “Dumbledore would have wanted your mum and dad and Neville and – and Seamus and everyone else to be sitting here with us right now, not lying dead under some mound of dirt. Not everything can end up the way Dumbledore would have wanted it to!”
Ginny sighed wearily. “I know, Harry, I know. Those things can’t be changed, though. This can.”
Harry shook his head incredulously. “Ginny, how can you be so calm about this? What are we going to do now? We have nowhere left to go! The Burrow and Grimmauld Place are gone, and we sure as hell can’t sit here at the Leaky Cauldron for the rest of our lives.”
Ginny’s eyes were sparkling with what looked suspiciously like tears now, but her voice was steady when she answered. “We have each other. We have Ron and my other brothers and Hermione and Luna. We have Hogwarts. Don’t you see, Harry? We won. We’re lucky we came out of the war with everything we do have.”
Harry clenched his fists under the table. She doesn’t understand anything, he thought furiously. She has no idea what it’s like to live through each day feeling like you’ve lost a part of yourself.
He took a deep, steadying breath. “About Ron and Hermione… where are they?”
“They’re with the Order right now.” Ginny seemed frazzled by the effort of trying to talk sense into Harry.
“You mean they just left us here?”
“You were ill, Harry,” Ginny said firmly, immediately picking up on Harry’s indignation. “The Order needed their help in sorting some things out, and you needed rest, so they left me to take care of you.”
Harry jumped to his feet. “I’m perfectly fine! Where are they right now? I’ll go help them!”
Glaring, Ginny grabbed his wrist and forced him to sit back down. “No you won’t. You’re going to sit down and stop torturing yourself about the war. For Merlin’s sake, Harry, you were unconscious for three days after it ended! And in case you don’t remember, after you finally woke up, you nearly killed yourself – twice.”
Harry scowled. “The first time was an accident.”
“Oh, that’s comforting,” Ginny said sarcastically. “At least I know now that you only intended to die once!”
Harry decided there was no point in explaining to Ginny that the second time had only been a test to see if he was as insubstantial as he had felt (and still felt, to some extent, although he had to grudgingly admit that he was feeling significantly more stable than he had been feeling a week ago).
“D’you… d’you suppose Malfoy will be there?” he asked. “And all the Slytherins?”
Ginny looked relieved by the change of subject. “I expect the ones who didn’t run to You-Know-Who will come back. They have no choice but to. But… I don’t know about the Death Eaters.”
“There weren’t many of them.”
“Malfoy was one.”
Harry felt a mysterious flash of annoyance. “I know.”
“He’s probably been caught by now,” Ginny said absently. She was staring at the busy bar, her eyes unfocused. “His dad was a big Death Eater; they’ll know of his connections.”
“He was caught already,” Harry repeated in a louder voice. “I saw… I mean, I read it. In the Daily Prophet. He had his trial today.”
“Oh,” said Ginny, not looking interested at all. There was a glimmer of sadness in her eyes, and for a moment, Harry felt guilty about snapping at her. It wasn’t her fault, everything that had happened to him. But, unfortunately for her, she was the only one he could take his anger out on at the moment.
Harry stood up abruptly. “Let’s go.”
“Where?” Ginny asked, following suit.
“Somewhere. Anywhere. I don’t want to be around all these people.”
They exited the pub through the back, ignoring the curious looks that followed them out.
“We need to buy our school books, so… Diagon Alley?” Ginny suggested as they shut the door behind them. “By the way, Harry, where are your robes? You ought to purchase a set if you lost them; it’s cold outside.”
“I’m sure people will fall over their feet to give the Boy Who Lived their robes once they realise he’s in need of a set.”
“Very funny,” Ginny said humourlessly.
Harry was not surprised to find that Diagon Alley bore signs of the recent war. It was, after all, one of the first places Voldemort’s followers had attacked. Now, scores of witches and wizards were working together to rebuild the shops that had crumbled to the ground. Harry’s mouth twisted into a sour smile at this display of collaboration. Of course; they were just happy to see the fighting end. They thought that with cooperation, they could restore everything that had been lost during those last few months.
Not everything, he thought bitterly. They can’t fix everything.
“Don’t worry about Ron and Hermione,” said Ginny as they passed a group of young children carrying ice cream cones and chatting excitedly. “They’re coming back tomorrow, so they can buy their things then. Let’s go buy you a set of robes first.”
“I haven’t got any money on me.”
“Don’t be silly. Gringotts is still standing.”
Taking a firm hold of Harry’s arm, Ginny tugged him towards the tall, snowy white wizarding bank. Throughout the war, it had been the one place Voldemort couldn’t destroy; this was, according to rumour, due to the centuries-old, impenetrable protective spells its builders had cast around it.
The two security goblins standing on guard in the entrance chamber when Harry and Ginny entered bowed deeply before opening the silver doors that led into the main hall. Harry remembered all the times he had been here with Hagrid and the Weasleys, and his throat tightened.
Once inside, Harry and Ginny made their way over to the counter. They got in line behind a tall, stern-looking witch and waited until a free goblin was available.
“We’re here to withdraw money from Harry Potter’s vault,” Ginny said once they were motioned to the front.
“Key?” growled the goblin.
Ginny looked questioningly at Harry.
Harry blushed. “I, er, don’t have it with me.”
In truth, he didn’t even know where the key was. Other than his wand and a few scraps of clothing, the only possessions from the pre-war days he had kept with him were his father’s Invisibility Cloak, the Marauder’s Map (not because he had thought he would need it, but because it was one of the few relics of his parents’ days he owned), and his broomstick.
The goblin peered at Harry over his pince-nez in a very McGonagall-like manner. “Harry Potter, yes?”
“Yeah,” Harry said uncomfortably.
“If you would hold out your hand, sir...”
Bemused, Harry did so. The goblin leaned over the countertop and studied Harry’s palm closely. Then, without a word, he bent down behind the counter and began fumbling around for something. When he straightened up again, he was clutching a tiny silver key.
“Your key, sir,” the goblin said, presenting it to Harry.
“It’s the replica the bank keeps,” Ginny explained. “Go on, take it.”
Harry reached out and took the key. “Thanks.”
“Anything for you, madam?” the goblin asked, turning his piercing gaze to Ginny.
“Yes, hold on…” Ginny reached into one of her robe pockets, extracted a golden key the same size as Harry’s, and placed it on the countertop. “Here you are.”
The goblin picked it up and examined it before handing it back to Ginny. “Very well. Kongar will take you to your vaults. Kongar!”
The goblin named Kongar appeared almost instantly. “Follow me,” he grunted to Harry and Ginny.
As they trailed after Kongar, Harry looked around surreptitiously. The visitors to the bank were all gawking at him. Up until this moment, Harry could have cared less about his rumpled appearance, but now he couldn’t help feeling somewhat self-conscious.
They reached a heavy iron door at the end of the hall. Kongar opened it and led Harry and Ginny into a dark chamber. On cue, a small cart sped into sight and screeched to a halt in front of them. They clambered into it and, with a loud rumble, hurtled off into the labyrinth of stone caverns.
Half an hour later, Harry and Ginny emerged from the underground vaults, both somewhat shaken by the heart-stopping cart rides that had taken them there and back. Distracted witches and wizards jostled Harry and Ginny around as they tried to make their way to the exit.
“You’d think they’d have better things to do than hang around waiting to withdraw money,” Ginny grumbled as she ducked to avoid a large handbag that had seemingly materialised out of nowhere.
Harry paid no attention to Ginny’s complaints, because at that instant, his gaze landed on the person he had least expected to see: Draco Malfoy.
Malfoy was standing by the counter next to – and Harry had to blink several times to convince himself of this – McGonagall, staring listlessly into space as she dealt with a goblin. Harry noted that he looked considerably better than he had earlier that morning. He’d washed and slicked back his hair and exchanged his rags for a modest set of grey robes. Even the worst of the cuts and bruises on his face had been healed. Harry would never have guessed just from looking at Malfoy at that moment that he was a former Death Eater, condemned to receive the Dementor’s Kiss in nine months’ time.
“Hang on,” Harry said tersely, holding out a hand. He had stopped in his tracks to stare at Malfoy.
Ginny halted as well. “Harry, what are you –?”
She never finished her sentence, for she had followed Harry’s gaze to Malfoy. Her eyes narrowed. “What’s he doing here?”
Harry started at the coldness in Ginny’s voice. For a moment, he wondered what had elicited her sudden anger. Then he remembered that Malfoy had been there the night of her parents’ murders. Of course. How could he have forgotten?
The rest of the sentence died on Harry’s lips when Malfoy’s gaze unexpectedly shifted over to him. The moment their eyes met, he drew in a sharp breath.
Despite the distance between them, Harry could see the hatred in Malfoy’s spiteful grey eyes. A chill ran down Harry’s spine. For a long moment, the two stayed locked in their heated but wordless exchange, neither willing to look away first. Harry was aware of his own heartbeat in his ears, drowning out the sound of the people around him, trapping him in a world where only he, Malfoy, and their loathing for one another existed. It was as though they had been brought back to that night, when their eyes had met and Malfoy had looked away almost instantly, except this time he didn’t look away.
Ginny’s insistent tugging on his arm pulled Harry out of his reverie. Dazed, he blinked and turned to her.
“Let’s go,” she said quietly.
It was more of an order than a suggestion, so Harry followed Ginny towards the main doors, only faintly conscious of his sudden heavy breathing. Even after they walked out into the bright afternoon sunlight, he still couldn’t shake off the sensation of Malfoy’s eyes boring into his own.
There had been something frightening, something almost inhuman in those glittering grey orbs. It was not, as Harry had initially thought, the revulsion he had seen there that bothered him the most. What truly disturbed Harry about that fleeting moment when time and space had stopped around him and Malfoy was the fear: the fear that had lain hidden, but not completely so, beneath that cold, grey cover of abhorrence.
Draco watched with narrowed eyes as Potter and Weasley left the bank together. Even when they disappeared, his gaze lingered for several minutes on the silver doors through which they had walked out.
What the hell was Potter playing at? Three hours after the end of the trial, Draco still couldn’t figure it out. It had been Potter, after all, who’d saved him from receiving the Dementor’s Kiss immediately. But why?
Bitter fury bubbled up inside Draco as a disturbing possibility occurred to him. Could Potter have done it to mock him? Had he chosen to delay Draco’s death because he knew how agonising, how unbearable it would be for Draco to wake up every morning for the next nine months, knowing he was one day closer to his death? And then there was the fact that he was now indebted to Potter, a punishment far beyond what he deserved.
Draco gritted his teeth as a stocky wizard bumped into him. He wanted to lash out at the man, at everyone like him. Draco wasn’t blind; he could see people’s eyes brimming with dislike, disgust, and, worst of all, derision when they looked at him. They knew who he was, but they could laugh now because they were no longer scared. They had the upper hand. It was, in a word, humiliating.
Draco trembled with suppressed rage. He didn’t want to be here. Even Azkaban’s holding cells were preferable to this. At least when the Dementors were around, he could be alone, wrapped up in a blanket of despair. Numb. That was his ideal state of existence. He wanted to be like ice, so cold that he wouldn’t have to feel at all.
But now Draco was back in the world of the living, preparing to return to Hogwarts for one final school year. He had been given a second chance at life. It was a sick, twisted blessing. You have nine months to do what you’ve never had the chance to do, but none of it really matters, since you’re dead after that, anyway.
“Come along, Mr Malfoy.” McGonagall’s sharp voice pulled Draco from his thoughts. “You’ll need a wand before we begin shopping for your other school materials.”
My wand. Oh yes, they snapped it, Draco remembered faintly.
Without a word, Draco followed McGonagall out of the bank. Once on the white marble steps, she handed him the large bag of coins they had extracted from Draco’s vault.
“Take this, and mind you don’t lose it.”
“I don’t need you to come with me,” Draco snapped. “I can buy my own things.”
McGonagall frowned severely at him. “And be seen wandering around on your own by Ministry workers? I’m afraid I can’t let that happen.”
Draco scowled. “Doesn’t the headmistress have anything better to do than escort a juvenile delinquent around?”
She smiled grimly at him as they approached Ollivander’s, which had reopened just a day ago. “Not unless you can provide a valid reason as to why I should let a convicted Death Eater run rampant about Diagon Alley.”
Draco clenched his fists, but said no more.
“Harry, are you all right?”
Harry jumped. “Yeah,” he said, hastily putting down the book he’d been staring absently at for the past five minutes.
“You sure?” Ginny asked, bending over to peer at cover of the book. “I never knew you were into 101 Ways to Catch a Garden Gnome.”
“Secret passion of mine,” Harry said dully, turning around. “We ready to go?”
Ginny sighed. “Is it really okay for me to take your money like this? I really would use my own, but we didn’t have much left…”
“Don’t worry about it. I don’t even know what to do with all the gold I have, especially considering the decrease in Christmas presents I’ll be buying this year.”
Ginny was silent for a moment, and Harry knew she was struggling to control her exasperation. “I’ll pay you back as soon as I can,” she finally said.
“Don’t bother. Where are we going now?”
“Wherever you want to go. We’re done shopping.”
“Let’s go back to the Leaky Cauldron, then,” Harry said, relieved that he would no longer have to endure the agony of being stared at from every direction.
“Okay.” Ginny handed a bag full of books to Harry. “Here, these are yours.”
Harry reached down and took Ginny’s hand in his own as they left Flourish and Blotts and began making their way down the street. She looked up at him in surprise, and he in turn gave her hand a reassuring squeeze.
“Sorry for being a nuisance.”
She smiled. “You’re not, Harry. I know you’ve gone through a lot. I just want to help you.”
As they passed Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, Harry hesitated. He felt strangely compelled to go into the shop again.
“What is it?”
“Mind if I take a look around again?” Harry asked, gesturing at the window display. “I reckon I ought to buy a cloak, too.”
“You didn’t buy one earlier?”
Harry shook his head.
“All right then.”
“Thanks. I’ll be right out. Go check out the other stores while you’re waiting. Meet me back here when you’re done.”
Leaving Ginny on the pavement, Harry turned and entered the store. Inside, a lively tune played from invisible speakers and several clusters of shoppers chatted casually as they waited for store assistants to take their measurements.
Harry got in line, trying to stay as inconspicuous as possible. Less than a minute, his attention was drawn to the sound of McGonagall’s voice coming up from behind him.
“…very irresponsible of you!” she was saying, her voice tight with anger. “If I hadn’t already gone to the trouble of freeing you from the Ministry so you could finish your education, rest assured that you certainly would not be returning to Hogwarts this year!
Unable to stop himself, Harry turned around. “Hello, Professor McGonagall,” he said, not altogether surprised to see that she was accompanied by Malfoy.
“Why, Mr Potter!” McGonagall said, as if the last person she had expected to see there was Harry. “You’re here alone?”
“No, I’m here with Ginny Weasley.” Harry shot a furtive look at Malfoy, but the other boy was looking determinedly in the opposite direction.
McGonagall’s gaze softened. “Where is she right now?”
“She’s waiting for me outside. Er, Professor, about…”
“Thank you very much,” McGonagall said, picking up on what Harry was trying to say. “It was kind of you to intervene.”
“Yeah,” Harry said, slightly embarrassed. He looked at Malfoy again. “So… er… is he taking the train with us on Sunday?”
“Yes. I’ve arranged for Nymphadora Tonks to escort him there and watch over him during the course of the train ride.”
Harry perked up at the mention of Tonks, whom he hadn’t seen in the week since the end of the war. “How is she?”
“Delighted, of course, that Mr Lupin is alive and in one piece.”
Harry cracked a smile. “I’m glad they’re both all right.” Then he frowned, for his brain had just processed the full extent of McGonagall’s earlier words. “Wait… you said she’s going to be taking Malfoy all the way to Hogwarts?”
“I can do it,” Harry said without thinking. “I’ll take him there.”
McGonagall looked surprised. “Are you sure, Mr Potter? You needn’t feel obligated to; after all, Mr Malfoy is already indebted to you for your interference at the trial.”
At this point, Malfoy finally spoke up. “I’m still here,” he snarled. He glared at Harry, and Harry couldn’t help staring back, equally defiant but still somewhat put off. Those eyes again – fear and loathing frozen into two chips of ice.
“Watch your tone, Mr Malfoy,” McGonagall reprimanded, oblivious to the death glares her two students were sending each other. “You’ve already caused enough trouble today by running away.”
“You ran off?” said Harry, addressing Malfoy. “Where’d you go?”
“To the Apothecary, of all places,” McGonagall responded. “He’d already purchased half the store by the time I found him!” She clucked her tongue. “Well, I have a few questions for Meredith, so if you two would wait here…”
“Potions, huh?” Harry said quietly once McGonagall was gone. “Still trying to smarm up to Slughorn?”
Malfoy narrowed his eyes. “Unlike you, I don’t need to smarm up to anyone to get what I want, Potter.” He spat Harry’s name out as if it were something supremely filthy and repulsive.
“Looks like a bit of brownnosing would’ve done you some good at the trial this morning,” Harry retorted.
“Fuck you. I’d rather die than beg.”
Harry stepped back, shocked by the underlying honesty beneath Malfoy’s declaration.
“You don’t mean that, right?”
“What’s it to you if I do? Either way, you and your bloody valour already took care of it.”
Harry exhaled. He didn’t know what to make of Malfoy’s sudden and unprecedented self-pity, so he turned back around. Thankfully, one of the sales witches was free, so he walked over to her, leaving Malfoy behind.
Unfortunately, as it turned out, the sales witch next to Harry was also free. Thus, when he looked around, he found that he had not successfully escaped Malfoy after all.
As Harry watched the witch helping Malfoy drape a long black robe around him and begin pinning it to the right length, he was reminded of the day seven years ago when he and Malfoy had met each other for the very first time in this very store. Apparently the same thought had jumped into Malfoy’s mind, because when he looked over at Harry, his eyes widened slightly.
Harry sighed as the witch helping him asked him what sort of fabric he wanted. What sort of fabric did he want? To be honest, he didn’t care.
“Sorry, I don’t think I need a cloak after all,” he said, hopping off the stool. “Thanks for your time, ma’am.”
As Harry weaved around bulky racks of robes and cloaks, he looked around for McGonagall. She was standing at the counter, talking rapidly to Madam Malkin.
“Professor?” he said, walking over to her.
McGonagall turned around. “Yes, Potter?”
“D’you still want me to stick with Malfoy on the Hogwarts Express on Sunday?”
“Certainly, if you have no objections.” She paused. “I can’t say I’m not surprised to find you have none, considering the… history the two of you share.”
Harry shrugged. In truth, he didn’t really care either way. He would have liked to spend the time talking with Ron and Hermione, but he also felt a sense of responsibility for Malfoy’s actions. After all, Harry had been the one who freed Malfoy, and it was up to him to follow through with what he had done, mistake or not. Malfoy will be entertaining at least, he thought dully.
“Very well. I will inform Nymphadora that she’s been discharged of the task. If you would please, Potter, meet Mr Malfoy at the entrance to Platform 9 ¾ at ten thirty on Sunday morning. I’ll wait there with him until your arrival.”
“Sure. See you, Professor.”
Waving good-bye to the headmistress, Harry left her and exited the store.
Ginny was waiting for him outside. She smiled gratefully when he walked up to her. “That was quicker than I expected.”
Harry gave her a forced smile. “Yeah, I decided not to get the cloak after all. I can always order one by owl post if I end up needing one at school. C’mon, let’s go back.”
Harry took Ginny’s hand. As they headed for the archway connecting the Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley, Harry couldn’t help casting one last glance over his shoulder at Madam Malkin’s.
In a bizarre way, he felt his encounter with Malfoy wouldn’t be the last of its kind. Indeed, as the small apparel store disappeared around the bend, he found himself thinking, I guess this is a new beginning for both of us.