Title: Some Kind of Miracle (14/?)
Author: Annie (_pinkchocolate)
Pairings: HP/DM, HP/GW
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to JK Rowling. Well... almost everything.
Summary: Draco is 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: 4,711
Notes: I probably don't need to say this by now, but I will anyway: Christine and Vana are amazing.
13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 P
Then you came around me
The walls just disappeared
Nothing to surround me
Keep me from my fears
See how I’ve opened up
You’ve made me trust
- Avril Lavigne, “Naked”
Harry spent the evening writing a letter to Hermione. In it, he explained the situation with Malfoy and why it was all but impossible to change the plans, and begged her to make up an excuse for his absence to tell Ron. He finished the letter off with the sincerest apology he could muster – though the written words didn’t even come close to expressing the regret he felt over not spending Christmas with his friends – and a promise to join them on Boxing Day. After a minute’s hesitation, he added at the end, P.S. – Tell Ginny that I send my love.
He slept fitfully that night. Though his nightmares were thankfully free of Voldemort’s cold laugh and bloodless face, their new focus was not much better – for Harry dreamt of Draco’s trial for the very first time that night, except that it was not the same trial Harry had attended. In his dream, he was being tried along with Draco, and rather than a row of stern-faced members of the Wizengamot, the jury consisted of Dementors and convicted Death Eaters. Every time Harry shouted that he was innocent, the chains around his arms tightened, rendering him helpless to do anything but watch in horror as two Dementors descended from the benches and hauled a struggling Draco out of the courtroom.
At this point, the dream abruptly ended and Harry slid back into a restless sleep. When he woke up the next morning, he felt strangely cold all over, as if he were already in the presence of the Azkaban guards he had dreamt about and would be seeing later.
Yawning, Harry slid out of bed and tugged on a pair of Dudley’s old jeans – they had once been eight sizes too large for Harry, but Hermione had thankfully shrunk the waistband for him – and a thick pullover. After double-checking to make sure his wand was safely tucked into his back pocket, Harry grabbed the letter he had composed the night before and set off for the Owlery.
After sending his letter with one of the school’s post owls, Harry made his way down to McGonagall’s office. When he arrived, he saw that Draco – who, to Harry’s astonishment, was wearing an unusually Muggle-inspired outfit of jeans and a button-down shirt under his cloak – and McGonagall were already there. Harry mumbled an apology for his late entrance and flopped down onto the seat next to Draco.
“Well then,” said McGonagall crisply, “now that you’ve decided to show up, Mr Potter, let’s get on with it. Here is the Portkey you will take to Azkaban.” She pointed at a cracked bust of Godric Gryffindor sitting at the foot of her desk. “It’s set to activate in four minutes. It will bring you to the visitor check-in area, where a staff member will meet you and escort you to Narcissa Malfoy’s cell.”
“Fine, fine, can we get a move on?” Draco snapped. He was fidgeting in his seat, his fingers nervously twisting the hem of his shirt. “Twitchy little ferret,” Hermione would say – the thought came to Harry out of the blue, but for some reason, he didn’t find it that funny anymore, especially in the current circumstances.
“Very well,” said McGonagall, standing up. “Off you go, then. Mind you two don’t get into any trouble.” She glared pointedly at Harry, who hoisted his best innocent look onto his face. “And you –” her sharp gaze travelled from Harry to Draco, “make sure you stay at Potter’s side at all times. It will not do to have you wandering around Azkaban on your own.”
Draco did not respond to this warning; indeed, he now looked as though he would throw up if he so much as opened his mouth. Harry felt a twinge of sympathy; he knew how difficult it must be to return to Azkaban after being released.
Their four minutes were nearly up, so Harry bid good-bye to McGonagall and reached for the bust. His hand met Draco’s there; for an instant, he felt a jolt in his stomach region that had nothing to do with the Portkey, but before he could linger on the curious sensation, he was being lifted into the air by an invisible hook at his navel; and, in a whirlwind of colours, he and Draco were off.
It wasn’t long before Harry’s feet slammed onto hard ground. He stumbled but regained his footing and looked around. They had arrived on a derelict little island, situated in the midst of an endless expanse of stormy water. Everything around them was grey – the sky, the ground, the water. A pair of ominous wrought-iron gates stood before them, the only sign that life existed on this dreary bump of sand and decomposing organic matter. Behind the gates was a stone wall that seemed to stretch out for miles in both directions. This was Azkaban.
Harry gave an involuntary shiver as he took in the familiar surroundings. He had been here more times than he could remember, and yet the putrid odour of life rotting away, the bitter taste of madness on his lips, and the stifling silence that hung heavy in the air still sent an icy stab of fear straight through his very core. And the memories… the memories of Death lowering its hood, of excruciating pain, of blackness…
“Let’s go,” he whispered, desperate to get the visit over with.
When Draco failed to respond, Harry glanced to his side. What he saw made his breath lodge in his throat.
If the other boy’s fear had been visible when they were in McGonagall’s office, it was nothing compared to how evident it was now. Draco was shaking – not shivering, or even trembling, but shaking so hard that his teeth were literally rattling. Even worse was the look on his face, which was suddenly the same shade of grey as the sky above. Every inch of Draco’s face was contorted into an expression of pure terror. His mouth was agape in a silent scream, as if he could see invisible monsters around him; and his eyes held the same kind of wild, animalistic fear that Harry had once seen in the eyes of a gazelle on the Dursleys’ television, just before the lion chasing it pounced.
“Draco,” said Harry uneasily, touching the other boy’s arm.
Draco turned unseeing eyes on Harry. “Don’t make me go in there,” he whimpered, in a very un-Malfoy-like manner.
The plea wrenched Harry’s heart. He had heard the same thing from every one of the Death Eaters he’d thrown into Azkaban, but never before had he been tempted to acquiesce to it. At the same time, however, he knew that Draco would never forgive him if he caved and took Draco back to Hogwarts, so he gritted his teeth and ploughed ahead.
“It’s only for a few hours,” he said soothingly. “You’re the one who wanted to come, remember? To see your mum?” He drew strength from the way Draco’s grey eyes cleared slightly at the mention of his mother. “C’mon, Malfoy. Do this for her. It won’t be long, all right? I… I promise.”
Draco’s hands clenched into fists, as if he were trying to will his courage to return. Harry was, admittedly, bewildered. His mind flashed back to the trial, when Draco had maintained such enviable composure in the presence of the Dementors flanking him. What had happened between then and now?
At long last, Draco replied, in a voice that was unnervingly feeble, “Yeah, okay.”
Draco had once prided himself on his acquired ability to maintain more than a shred of his composure around the Dementors (“A skill most favoured by our Lord,” Aunt Bella had said), but nothing could have prepared him for facing them after two months of being free from their poisonous company.
They were everywhere. As Draco followed Harry into the inner prison, a blanket of silence enveloped him, pitch-black and bitingly cold, broken only by the Dementors’ rattling breaths and the occasional dry, wracked sob of a dying prisoner. Even though it was a security wizard that greeted them and took them to Narcissa’s cell, Draco could still sense the Dementors’ lurking presence with each step he took, both in mind and body. He didn’t know what had changed since the trial, but suddenly he found himself unable to fight off the despair, hopelessness, and regret spreading through him.
Still too mortified by his earlier reaction to the sight of the Azkaban gates to look Harry in the eye, Draco made a point of walking on the wizard’s other side, though Merlin only knew how much he would have preferred to have Harry as close to him as possible. But no – he refused to turn to Harry for comfort and protection like a useless little Hufflepuff, especially when he himself had scorned the severity of Harry’s response to the Dementors in third year.
The Azkaban guard’s gruff voice broke through Draco’s thoughts and brought him to a standstill. He slowly turned his head to look into the cell they had stopped at, and felt the fog in his head clear at once.
Narcissa Malfoy sat against the far wall of her prison cell, her thin frame huddled against the cold wreaked by the Dementors. Where her features had once bore evidence of fine upbringing, Azkaban had taken its toll. Her white, paper-thin skin was pulled tightly across her skull, giving her the appearance of one nearing death. Above her hollow cheeks, her eyes, two sunken chips of blue in her skeletal face, were lined with heavy black bags, and held a look that Draco, with a thrill of foreboding, instantly recognised as the first stirrings of madness. He had seen it the eyes of many other prisoners during his brief stay in Azkaban, but to see it in his own mother’s eyes, the eyes that were so much like his own…
Abandoning all pretence, Draco lurched forwards and grabbed onto the bars of the cell. “Mother,” he said hoarsely.
Narcissa did not immediately respond. She stared at Draco, as if she would see straight through him, an expression of vague bemusement turning down the corners of her thin lips.
“Mother, it’s me,” Draco said, hysteria making his voice climb an octave. “Your son, Draco. I’ve come to visit you.”
This prompted a slow blink, but no other signs of recognition. Draco nearly burst into tears, but he managed to hold himself together enough to turn and ask the security wizard, with only the slightest tremble in his voice, if he could enter the cell.
The wizard sneered at Draco and replied rudely, “You’re to stay outside. The boss says you ain’t allowed in.”
Draco swore under his breath, wishing he could whip out his wand and curse the fool to hell and back; but alas, McGonagall had confiscated his wand before they left, saying that he wouldn’t need it anyway. Then, to his surprise, Harry stepped in.
“Sir,” he said, his tone low and pleasant, “I know it’s against policy and all, and I know that Malfoy here doesn’t deserve to have the rules bent for him, but he’s really set on seeing his mum one last time, see, and I’d be indebted if you could just let him in for a bit. I really would rather not deal with his temper all the way back to Hogwarts if his wish isn’t granted. I promise I’ll keep watch over him; I know just as well as you do that people like him aren’t to be trusted.”
Draco bristled with indignation at the affected disgust behind his surname, but he kept quiet; he, too, was an expert at playing people to his advantage, and recognised what Harry was trying to do. He tore his eyes away from his poor mother long enough to watch Harry as he expertly used the tools of persuasion to convince the guard to let Draco into the cell.
“Oh, have it your way, then,” the wizard finally said, pretending to look annoyed. Draco could tell, however, that the dolt couldn’t have been more ecstatic about getting the chance to do Harry Potter a favour.
“Thank you,” said Harry, smiling winningly. Only Draco noticed how strained the smile was – it seemed that he, Draco, wasn’t the only one being affected by the Dementors, even if the creatures were nowhere in the immediate vicinity.
The wizard pulled out a set of keys and unlocked the door to the cell. “Wand?” he growled to Draco, holding out his grubby hand.
“Haven’t got it on me,” said Draco icily.
The wizard turned back to Harry. “If this filth causes any trouble, you just let me know, Mr Potter,” he said unctuously, the aggression vanishing instantly from his voice.
With a short nod, Harry said, “Have a good day.”
Draco waited until the security wizard had disappeared down the dark corridor to turn to Harry and nod his thanks.
Harry simply smiled faintly. Now that the two of them were alone, Harry looked much less sure of himself. Under his mop of black hair, his forehead was pale and dotted with beads of sweat. He looked almost as terrible as Draco felt.
Swallowing, Draco turned his attention back to his mother. Pulling the cell door open a bit wider, Draco slipped through the gap and walked up to Narcissa. Trembling uncontrollably, he collapsed to his knees beside her and took her frail hands in his.
“Mother,” he said again.
She finally turned towards the sound of his voice. For one heart stopping moment, Draco thought he saw a flicker of recognition in the depths of her pupils, but then it disappeared. He pressed on.
“I’m sorry, Mother, I tried to write you, but they wouldn’t let me send anything. When I heard that you’d been arrested, I was preparing to go to trial. I told them that I just wanted to see you one last time, because I was so sure they would sentence me to the Kiss. But they said no, the Ministry bastards, they wouldn’t let me come near you, because they didn’t trust us together. Imagine that… they thought that, given five minutes alone, a mother and her son would devise some sort of plot to overthrow the wizarding government!”
The words tumbled out of Draco’s mouth faster than he could form rational thoughts, but he was barely aware that he was rambling. He had so much to say, so much he needed his mother to know before they parted for the final time, that he could hardly be bothered with coherence. Never mind that Narcissa’s gaze had already slid out of focus, or that she was hunched away from Draco like a puppy flinching away from its master. Draco would say what he had come to say.
“Anyway, you’re probably wondering why I’m here if I was going to be sentenced to death – well, I suppose the Dementor’s Kiss isn’t really death, but it’s as good as death.” he said, continuing as though he were having a casual conversation with an old friend and not with his dying mother. “It’s something of a long story, but to cut it short, Harry Potter saved me. His was the vote that delayed the Kiss for another seven months. If only you were there! No doubt you would have laughed at the irony of it all.
“Remember what you used to tell me when I was a child? That, if ever I should find myself facing death, I would die proudly and without any regrets? I always thought that was so silly. If I was going to die, I thought, wouldn’t I be more worried about the pain, about leaving you and father and our fortune behind? Why should I care about regrets if I won’t even remember them when I’m dead?
“Things are different now, though, Mother. I think I understand what you meant. Living has never been so important to me. I don’t want to… I can’t live for others anymore.”
Draco lifted a hand to brush his hair out of his eyes and found that his cheeks were cold and wet with tears. Shuffling over so that Harry, who Draco knew was watching from just outside the cell, couldn’t see his face, Draco gingerly stroked his mother’s ashen cheek. She twisted away from the touch, and Draco had to swallow a sob.
“You know what I did?” he continued, hating the chilly silence that fell whenever he paused to take a breath. “I wrote a list of things I want to do before I die. Twenty-five goals, half of them near-impossible.” He shook his head. “I don’t even know how I’m going to achieve most of them. But it’s comforting, in a way, knowing I have a purpose now. At least I can work towards something in these last few months. At least I won’t die knowing I wasted away the little time I had at my disposal.”
For a moment, Draco thought of telling Narcissa the items on his list. She would want to know, of course. But there really was no point; she wouldn’t even comprehend him, and even if she could, Draco didn’t want to distress her. So instead, he said, as lightly as he could, “Visiting you was one of the things that I thought would be impossible, though, so I suppose there’s still hope, right?”
Narcissa let out a high-pitched keening sound in response, and grabbed onto the sleeve of Draco’s robe, like a reprimanded house-elf. It was all Draco could do to not turn away from the painful sight of his poor, broken mother. Here, in this dark, dank Azkaban cell, he let fear seize him in its icy grip. God, how he wished he had his mother here – truly here – right now. He had never been so desperate for her whispered words of comfort, for her arms holding him close to her, for her slim fingers stroking his hair.
For the first time in his life, it struck him how very alone in the world he was.
As if he could read Draco’s thoughts, Harry chose that moment to speak up. “Draco?” he said quietly; from a great distance, it seemed.
“One moment,” Draco answered tonelessly, “I’m almost done.”
Harry made a soft noise of assent and fell silent again.
“How the mighty have fallen,” Draco mused thickly, blinking back fresh tears, as he gazed around the bare little cell his mother now resided in. “Who would have thought a year ago that the Malfoys could ever sink so low? One murdered by his own Lord’s command, one half-mad and imprisoned for life, and one set to die for treachery in five months’ time. A far cry from the power and prestige our name once entailed, isn’t it, Mother?”
Narcissa stared blankly at him.
Fury stirred in Draco’s blood; fury at the shambles his once-honourable family had become and the people who had taken part in destroying them: the Ministry, the Order of the Phoenix, even the Dark Lord and his minions, Draco’s allies. He resented this, all of this. It was the worst form of suffering, having to watch his life deteriorate around him as the rest of the world rejoiced.
“I have to go now,” Draco said abruptly. He couldn’t stand being here any longer. The clammy coldness that clung to him, a result of being near the Dementors, was making it harder by the minute for him to draw breath; he was sure that if he stayed, he’d drown in it. Slowly, he pushed himself to his feet. Looking down at his mother’s crumpled form, he added in an undertone, “If there’s some way to get you out of here… to save us both… I swear, I’ll find it. But until then…”
Draco couldn’t force the next words out – how was he supposed to say good-bye for the last time to his own mother? – so he wordlessly turned away and strode back to Harry.
Just don’t forget me, he thought sadly, twisting his neck to catch one last glimpse of his mother through the cell bars before shutting the door behind him.
Both Harry and Draco were subdued as they made their way out of the inner prison and back into the waiting room. Along the way, they encountered only one Dementor, but even walking past that one Dementor was enough to make Harry feel as though an invisible hand were clawing at his chest from inside, trying to re-carve the gaping hole that two months in the safety of Hogwarts had nearly mended. He was immensely relieved, therefore, when they finally left the confines of the prison walls, their Portkey – a broken quill – with them.
“What time is it?” Draco asked in a low voice, breaking the silence that had settled between them on their way out.
“Nearly eleven. We’ve still got an hour,” Harry replied, after checking his watch. He hesitated. “Listen, Malfoy… are you all right?”
Draco just looked at him, the distress in his grey eyes speaking volumes.
Sighing, Harry stuffed the Portkey into his pocket and reached for Draco. “Come here,” he said gruffly, before awkwardly wrapping his arms around Draco and pulling the other boy into a clumsy hug.
At first, Draco stiffened in Harry’s arms, and for a fleeting moment, Harry feared that he was going to push him away. Then, after a very tense moment, literally every muscle in Draco’s body relaxed, and he all but melted into a very surprised Harry.
“This is fucking hell,” Draco muttered, his breath tickling Harry’s throat. “I can’t come back to this. I can’t live with this. I can’t take it, Potter.”
“Mmhmm,” Harry hummed, even though he only understood half of what Draco was saying. He was surprised to find that the other boy was warm in his arms, perhaps because he’d always thought that Draco would be as cold as his personality. “It’ll be fine, it’ll be okay, everything will work itself out,” he mindlessly soothed. “You can cross two more things off your list now – she would’ve wanted you to get through it, y’know.”
“You were invisible the other day, remember? When we went to go gather evidence that it was Nott who attacked you?”
There was a pause, and then Draco laughed emptily. “Oh, a fine way to accomplish the first goal on my list,” he muttered. “Hiding under an Invisibility Cloak with you and spying on my housemates. I had hoped for something a bit more glamorous, to tell you the truth…”
“Oh, shut up,” said Harry. He pulled away from Draco, the time for intimacy having passed. To his relief, some of the colour had returned to the other boy’s face. Harry couldn’t help turning a little bit red as it occurred to him that he had just embraced Draco as closely as he might have embraced Ginny, his own girlfriend.
“Let’s go back, then,” said Draco, apparently unaware of Harry’s embarrassment.
“We can’t. The Portkey activates at noon.”
“Then we can Apparate. Are you a seventeen-year-old wizard or not, Potter?”
Harry smiled. “We can’t Apparate into school grounds,” he explained, reciting the words Hermione had exasperatedly repeated at least a hundred times. “I’m surprised you didn’t know that.”
Draco snorted. “Then what the hell are we supposed to do for an hour? We can’t just sit here.” He shuddered, as if to emphasise his point.
“I’ve an idea,” Harry suddenly said. “Come on, let’s go to Diagon Alley.”
“Yes, because that won’t get me thrown back in Azkaban,” said Draco, rolling his eyes.
“They’ll never know.”
“And how do you suggest we get to Diagon Alley, Potter? We very well can’t fly there. Merlin knows where we are…”
“You said it yourself – we can Apparate.”
“They’re tracking me,” said Draco wearily. “If I Apparate, they’ll know.”
“They haven’t got me tagged, though,” Harry pointed out. “I could… y’know.” He made a vague gesture to indicate Side-Along Apparition, which Draco, miraculously, seemed to understand.
He shot Harry a wary look. “Are you sure you’re capable of Side-Along Apparition?”
“Of course I am!” said Harry indignantly. “I did it when…” He faltered, not wanting to bring up Dumbledore or the night Snape had whisked Draco away. “I’ve done it before,” he amended.
“Why Diagon Alley?”
“I want to purchase some stuff,” said Harry mysteriously.
Draco stared at Harry suspiciously for a moment. Then, extending a hand, he said, “Fine.”
Harry took Draco’s proffered hand and used it to pull him closer. He took a brief moment to thank the heavens that Draco was no longer shying away from his touch like a frightened filly, before wrapping an arm around Draco’s waist and Apparating both of them away.
Before they entered Diagon Alley, Draco had insisted on hiding himself with a Disillusionment Charm. Harry had protested at first, but then Draco had pointed out that the Ministry would hardly be pleased if they found out that a criminal under their watch was wandering around Diagon Alley when he was supposed to be in Azkaban, and that had been that.
Harry seemed to know where he was going, Draco thought, as he struggled to keep up with his companion’s quick, long strides. It was difficult work, trying to avoid stepping on toes and knocking against shoulders, and he was glad when they arrived at a dingy little shop near the end of the street.
“Where are we?” Draco muttered, eying the dusty, tinted windows of the store before him. It was one of the few stores that hadn’t been decorated with wreaths and fairy lights for the holidays.
Instead of answering Draco’s question, Harry said, “Wait here,” and then disappeared into the shop without a further word.
It wasn’t long before Harry emerged carrying two large bags, a somewhat shifty air about him. Draco considered for a moment the odds of getting a straight answer if he were to ask what was in the bags. Then, deciding that there was no point in trying, he shrugged his curiosity off and asked instead, “How exactly are you going to hide those from McGonagall?”
“Er… can you put Disillusionment Charms on inanimate objects?” Harry asked hopefully.
Draco shot him a scornful look. “You think that old bat will be fooled by a Disillusionment Charm?”
Harry shrugged sheepishly. “Well, I don’t know what else I –”
“Are you a wizard or not? Give them here,” said Draco impatiently. He took the two bags and held his other hand out for Harry’s wand. Harry gave it to him. Tapping the bags, Draco muttered, “Reducio!” The two bags immediately shrunk to palm-size. Draco handed them and the wand back to Harry.
“Thanks,” said Harry, grinning and tucking his shrunken purchases into his jeans pocket.
Draco rolled his eyes as they set off down the winding, snow-powdered street, and successfully managed to hide his pleased flush.
“We’re leaving already?” Draco asked, surprised, when they stopped at the Apparition area. He had assumed that Harry would want to stay a bit and look around, but then, on second thought, rationalised that he probably wanted to avoid catching too much attention.
“Why, do you have anything you need to do?”
Draco shook his head. “No, never mind. Hurry up, it’s cold.”
Harry glanced at his watch, his forehead creasing. “It’s nearly twelve, anyway. Our Portkey will only depart from Azkaban, so we should be getting back.”
“I know, Potter,” Draco ground out, his bad temper returning at the prospect of going back to the wizard prison, even if just for a few minutes. “Now let’s go.”
Shrugging, Harry offered his arms. Draco cringed and slowly stepped forward. Immediately, he was enfolded in an embrace that may or may not have been tighter than necessary. Draco sighed and closed his eyes, his fear of physical contact gone for the moment, and let Harry Apparate them back to Azkaban.