gift for: i_l0ve_my_az
summary: Draco runs, but he never runs too far.
notes: thank you to redbrunja for the encouragement, and for the beta and a very happy holidays to i_l0ve_my_az.
Draco leans out of the kitchen window, elbows digging into the ledge, and his shoulders hunched over the dirty dishes in the sink. It’s raining, a steady murmur now, and he holds out his hand. He hates the smell of rain, but the air inside the flat is suffocating, dry and musty. He takes a few deep, slow breaths and water drips down the cracked gutters.
The front door is unlocked (more a lack of concern than a lack of fear) and he thinks how easy it would be to walk out of the kitchen, turn the handle, and just run.
He will not leave, but he still stares out the window and looks as if he wants to.
Snape says little, after. Draco says even less. He supposes that there really is not a lot to say. There is no disappointment in Snape’s eyes, but there is no relief, either. He offers silence, and secrecy, but it is temporary. He allows Draco to stay at Spinner’s End for a few days, and Draco spends the time staring at the ceiling and his shaking hands.
He pauses at the door when he leaves, and turns to meet Snape’s eyes. He thinks, I will never see you again and knows it is not far from the truth.
Draco runs, but he never runs too far.
His instincts tell him to leave the country, run as far from this as possible, but he has not lost everything yet. There is so little that he can do, now, but he still can’t bring himself to leave. He is not sure he trusts his instincts, anyway.
He remembers his father leaning over his shoulder and pointing to a dot on a map years and years ago, saying, this is where the Dark Lord was destroyed, this is where the Potters died. The thought will not go away, and he thinks, at least no one will look for me there.
He pays for the flat with Transfigured notes and coins. He thinks that if he were anyone else, he might feel some sort of guilt, but desperation allows him to justify almost everything. The flat is small (it would be, for the price of rent) with a bath, bedroom and kitchenette. The wallpaper is ripped, and stained, the table in the kitchen wobbles, the light doesn’t work and the bed creaks. It seems fitting, somehow.
There is an empty lot across the street (overgrown with weeds and wildflowers) in a haze of old magic and for some reason he can’t stop looking at it.
The bathroom mirror is cracked. He finds it oddly fascinating, because it adds another split down his face. When the glass starts to fog, he writes this is not me on both sides of the mirror.
He turns his wrist, splays his fingers and exposes the veins. He rubs the pad of his right thumb from the inside of his wrist to his elbow, searching for something that isn’t there (the mark of his failure, he thinks). There is anger, regret, hatred and still, still he is shaking with it.
And it’s just this: there is nothing he can do.
He reads The Times and a copy of the Daily Mail (stolen from his neighbor’s mailbox) over breakfast. He doesn’t know what he is expecting to find, something out of the ordinary, though he does not know what the ordinary might be. He tells himself that he is not looking for the worst, and sometimes he believes it. He cuts out bits and pieces of articles, circles and underlines words and sentences and leaves them with on the table with all of the letters that he will never send.
He’s pulling the front door of his building open with one hand and balancing a bag of groceries in the other when there is a crack, and a ripple of magic across the street (Potter, he knows). He glances back only once before slipping inside. He leans against the door frame and breathes, his fingers tearing a hole in the paper bag.
He spends the next week watching Potter come and go from the window in his bathroom. He tries to find some order, some pattern but Potter is not predictable here, not like he might have been at school.
He stares at his reflection in the mirror, tracing scars with his fingertips. He thinks, you tried to kill me and then I am still alive.
Draco is sort of surprised when Potter shows up on his doorstep. He does not look any different, although his face looks pale and there are bruises underneath his eyes. Potter holds open the door with his foot, and gives him a thin smile.
To be honest, I thought you might say something first, Potter says.
Draco says nothing, and slams the door.
There’s a snowy owl perched on the windowsill the next day. Draco waits twenty minutes before opening the window slightly. There’s a parcel attached to the owl’s leg with no note. He unties the string with trembling fingers and unrolls copies of the Daily Prophet. He slumps down into the chair, his eyes scanning the dates and the headlines, searching for any familiar names or places.
Why are you trying to help me, he wants to ask, scream across the street but he bits his lip and tosses the newspapers onto the table.
There’s another knock on his door a few days later, and this time Draco holds the door open and listens.
I don’t make promises, Potter says, because I can’t keep them. But he makes them, anyway. He promises loyalty (weighed and measured) and Draco wants to scoff, sneer and refuse. He doesn’t believe it. There’s nothing to believe, except this boy, who tells lies with honesty and bargains lives with dreams.
I’m doing this for me, he says.
Potter smiles (thin and ironic) and says, I know.
Draco has nothing to gamble with, but he spits, shakes, deals and for just a moment, he hopes.