House : Slytherin
Category : Themed
Prompt : " If you think for one second that I'm going to back down"
Word count : 1202
War has a funny way of breaking things. One of the countless things the Second Wizarding War broke was Draco Malfoy.
Once upon a time, he had been a proud and arrogant boy. Now he was a shadow of a man, a man who, as a child, had grown up too fast, a man who, as a child, had lost everything.
After the War, he had been given a choice. He could return to Hogwarts or go to Azkaban. The choice was obvious. His father, however, was never given one. Draco hadn't been allowed to see him since the trial, and was certain he had long since abandoned his sanity to the cold walls of the prison.
His mother may have been spared a sentence, but was haunted, alone in a house that had witnessed indescribable horrors, and unable to cope, grew more withdrawn with each day that passed.
Hogwarts was certainly better than Azkaban, but that didn't mean it was good either. Draco pretended he didn't notice the look of hatred and fear in people's eyes as they watched him pass, always stumbling out of the way as he went by them. He pretended not to hear how they often said in loud whispers, "Death Eater!" or "Murderer!" when they saw him. He pretended not to care.
But he did.
He wanted people to know that he had never wanted to be a Death Eater. He wanted them to know that he never had a choice, that it had been a matter of life and death. His father had failed the Dark Lord, and if Draco had turned his back on Voldemort, the latter may have decided that the entire Malfoy family was disposable. Every time people sneered at him, Draco wanted to scream from the rooftops how even as he took the mark, he had been so, so terribly aware that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named could have read his every thought if he had so desired, yet Draco had only thought of how little he had wanted it.
But no one would have listened.
Desperate for any distraction, Draco tried to immerse himself in school work. But he couldn't focus. After all, he hadn't slept in months. How could he, when everytime he closed his eyes, he could see the nameless faces of the people he had tortured?
Instead, he would sit in his room, staring blankly at the wall, trying to forget. Of course, his attempts were as futile as trying to stop the sun from rising in the east. One cannot forget war. War lives on forever, in the hearts and souls of those who fought in it.
Pansy used to bring him food, given he could never face the Great Hall. She had long since gotten tired of taking plates of cold food back to the kitchen. Sometimes, she checked on him, but she couldn't always bear it. After all, she had lived through the same war. She had problems of her own.
One day, however, she couldn't take it any longer. She burst into his room, a determined expression upon her face.
"Draco Lucius Malfoy, I cannot bear to see you waste another day of your life locked in this room. I will not permit it."
Draco looked up, fatigue and pain clear in his eyes. "I can't do it, Pans'. Leave me alone."
Pansy, however, was not to be deterred. "No, Draco. You can't live like this," she said, rummaging through his drawers for clean clothes.
"Don't bother, Pansy. I'm a lost cause."
"STOP!" she screeched,turning around to reveal a furious look in her eyes. "Stop saying things like that and stop protesting. If you think for one second that I'm going to back down, you are most severely mistaken..."
"Pans-" he began wearily.
"No!" she interrupted angrily. "You have to stop this, Draco. You have to stop doing this to me. You have to stop being so selfish! I care about you, I really do, but you make it so difficult to be around you. Don't you realise we all lived through that war? Don't you realise I wake up screaming most nights? War destroys things, but it's up to us to fix them. You need to start fixing yourself."
"No, Draco. As I said, if you think for one second that I'm going to back down, you have never been more wrong. Now, have a shower, put some clothes on, and go for a walk. Trust me, you don't want to find out what'll happen if you don't."
With that, she turned on her heel and left, slamming the door behind her. For a few seconds, Draco sat in shock, staring at the spot where she had stood. Then, slowly, he stood up and made his way to the bathroom.
Before long, the sound of running water could be heard. A little later, Draco emerged from his room, wearing a clean shirt and looking a little confused. Pansy, who was sitting in the common room, looked up from her magazine and raised an eyebrow.
"Now, go get some fresh air, darling. Go on."
"Pansy… I mean - isn't this enough for now? I - uh - baby steps, right?"
Pansy glared at him. "Wrong."
Sighing, Draco walked out of the common room and made his way onto the grounds. Night was falling, but at least he could avoid the whispers and stares of his schoolmates, who were probably at dinner. Once he was a fair distance from the castle, he looked around and, observing he was alone, let out a sigh of relief he didn't know he had been holding in.
However, as he made his way further from the school, he noticed he wasn't, in fact, alone. A few steps away from him, at the edge of the water, sat none other than Hermione Granger. Normally, Draco would have walked away and thought nothing of it. That day however, with Pansy's words still ringing in his head, something was different. Instead of leaving, he walked towards her and sat down.
They sat in silence for a while, Draco stealing covert glances at her when he thought she wouldn't see, taking in the details of her appearance. She had never let him get this close. It didn't take him long to notice the ugly scar on her arm. Mudblood.
It reminded him of years of insults he had never realised were that harmful. It reminded him of painfully wrong ideals he believed in because of his father. It reminded him of his own passivity as he stood and watched his aunt carve the word into her forearm. He felt sick.
Finally, he couldn't take it anymore. "I'm sorry," he blurted out.
Surprised, Hermione turned to look at the boy sat next to her. She wanted to tell him that it was okay, that he had been a mere child, that he hadn't understood. She wanted to tell him that he wasn't like Bellatrix, or any other Death-Eater for that matter. However, seeing the pain in his eyes, she didn't feel it was the right thing to say.
Instead, she merely rested her head on his shoulder, slipping her hand into his, and whispered: "I know."