Title: The Path To Awakening
Summary: When heroes realize that there is no one left to save, they start their downfall, dragging with them everything they once loved.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warnings: Implied mpreg. Flangst.
Word Count: 5456
I've tried to keep in mind everything in your request, but somehow this story has developed a soul of its own and it has grown into something that may be a bit different from what you asked from me. I hope you like it. A big thank you to my beta, K, who edited this in only two days.
A clarification before jumping into the fic...
This kind of writing belongs to an interview set in the future.
This kind of writing belongs to a diary that narrates the story from the beginning.
This kind of writing belongs to the present of the story.
"What would you say of Harry Potter's personality?"
An intake of breath.
"He is not a hero. At least, he is not like we would imagine heroes are. He is a normal person, who has searched his place in the world without actually finding it, with a fate sealed the same day Voldemort murdered his parents."
"Maybe that's a bit bold coming from the lips of a---"
A hand in the air that interrupts the speech.
"The lips of a Death Eater?"
A curt nod. A rustle of clothes.
"Yes, I wear the Mark; yes, I made a mistake; but I learned from it before it ate me from the inside."
A chair that slides, making an almost unbearable noise.
"I didn't mean to offend you."
"But you have. It wasn't me who demanded an interview. It's you who are preparing a special about Harry."
"Please, forgive me. I won't be so... blunt anymore. But, please, please sit down again."
"Harry Potter is not a hero, then. So, who is he for you?"
"Harry is the person who saved us all from insanity."
September 7th, 2010
The house seems shadier now that the suitcases are in the lobby, dumb witnesses of something that should have been done long ago.
There is no movement. Nobody runs. Nobody speaks. They seem salt statues before an infinite horizon. They stopped believing in a future long ago.
The children are sitting on stools in the kitchen, while their aunt fakes some normality by preparing pancakes. Both know that she is not really their aunt, because their parents are both only children, but aunt Pansy has spent so much time in that house that she is already a member of the family.
"Here you go," says Pansy, her short black mane brushing her pale cheeks. "Be careful, they are burning."
"Thanks, auntie Pansy," the children reply at the same time, taking the dishes that are being tended to them and blowing on the pancakes just like their parents have taught them.
"Auntie," Adam says, raising his small hands towards her. "Auntie, how long is Papa going to be away?"
Pansy sighs. She knows that the children have the right to know what is happening, but she wishes that the innocence that still characterizes them wouldn't have to be broken in a thousand pieces.
"We don't know it yet, Adam. But he will be back earlier than we think, honey."
"Why don't you want to tell us where he's going?" Evelyn demands, blinking. The two years difference between the siblings are much more evident when she speaks up – at eight, she is much more intelligent than any other girl her age. Pansy remembers Draco's words whenever he looks at the kid. Magic in her is stronger than in any other child her age, Pans. She inherited that power from Harry. She clears her throat.
"That is something that you will have to ask your parents, Eve."
"Is Papa leaving because he doesn't love us anymore?" Adam stammers, using his fork to play with his pancakes without actually putting any in his mouth.
"No!" Pansy exclaims. "Papa loves you two so much, probably more than he loves anyone else, and that's why he has to go. I know it is difficult to understand now, but it's the best for everybody."
A noise in the threshold calls the attention of the three people in the kitchen, who turn to see who has caused it. Supported against the wood, with arms crossed, stands Draco Malfoy.
It has been years since that fateful night up the Astronomy Tower, since his mad run towards the darkness. He isn't a tainted teenager anymore. His forehead is furrowed with worry lines that have their origin in his frown. The smile that draws his lips does not reflect in his grey eyes, sad and dim as they have ever been before, and the children know that there is something Draco is hiding from them. But they don't ask because it is easier to daydream than to hit against the reality that, they can sense, is not pleasant.
Draco knows that they would not understand.
September 5th, 2000
I can't believe Pansy talked me into going to that club tonight. She says I could use a couple of drinks and new friends, now that everyone but her has been sent to Azkaban. I have to say, the idea of listening to some music while I have a cup of wine sounds appealing at the moment. But I'm only doing it for the music, I swear!
And I still don't know what to wear!
September 6th, 2000
I'm still in awe. Last night was incredible – I mean, really. I would have never believed I'd end up with Potter, of all people.
You see, he was at the club yesterday, with Granger and Weasley. Pansy and Granger have become friends after the war, so we ended up sharing a couch and talking about Merlin knows how many subjects. It was simply amazing. I was babbling about Quidditch and how being a Seeker was not only my hobby but my job as well, and Potter said (literally) "You look so incredibly hot when you talk about Quidditch." Of course, he pledged it to be a consequence of his drunken state, but I knew better. Now I know for sure.
Later last night we both were left alone because everyone had gone to dance in the middle of the club. Potter and I were suddenly silent, and then he lifted his head and aimed his gaze at me. His eyes were searching – I was speechless before such passion and pride. "Don't you think you're staying a bit far away from me?" he asked, leaning forward, and brushing the back of my hand with his rough fingers.
That single touch set my soul on fire. It was like something I'd had been wanting for so long – like water in the desert. And suddenly my world disappeared and there was only light around him, like an aura. It ignited something in me, and I felt so warm that I wished I could look into his eyes my whole life.
When did I become such a sap?
Pansy says that this may be love, but it's too early to know for sure. We barely know each other! But last night, I didn't think so. I felt cherished, and that tingling sensation in the pit of my stomach was definitely something stronger than just attraction.
Honestly, I think I know Harry (hey, don't look at me like Pansy did!) pretty well. All these years of confrontation have made me see sides of Harry nobody else has ever seen. I know how his eyes dart around when he's scared, how he smells when he's got a date, how his mouth twitches in disappointment ('cause I know it is disappointment) whenever I'm around.
That's how I knew last night that what I saw in his gaze was a lot more than infatuation – he didn't want a one-night fling. That is the reason why he Apparated with me to the Manor, "just in case."
And that's why, right before he left, he leaned in and brushed his lips against mine in a sweet caress that was a promise for more.
I really can't wait for whatever we have to start.
"The war was driving us insane little by little, so many battles, so much pain. Death Eaters against Voldemort didn't dare defect – we feared he would find us and torture us to death."
"Why not join Harry Potter's side?"
"Because no one ever left Voldemort and came out alive."
An uncomfortable silence. Sheets being folded.
"What did Harry Potter do during the war, if he wasn't recruiting Death Eaters?"
"There are several History books that can account for that; I don't think it is my place to explain what everyone already knows."
"Not everyone knows about the Saviour of the Wizarding World's activities."
Black gaze nailing in violet eyes. Anger. Hatred.
"I don't know what you are talking about."
"What was Draco Malfoy's part in the victory of the Order of the Phoenix?"
September 7th, 2010
The bedroom light is dim around the figure sitting on the bed. He has his head in his hands, and he is trembling slightly. It seems he is sobbing silently, the way his back shakes every time the trembling runs through his spine.
From the door, Draco takes in every small detail of the sight in front of him – from the way that black hair sticks out everywhere to the shape of the bare feet freezing on the cold floor. He wants to remember Harry, and he doesn't care how the only love of his life looks.
Things shouldn't end up this way, he thinks, but his life has never been what he would have liked it to be. He fights the urge to kneel besides Harry and take him in his arms, to rock the brunet until all his fears – all their fears – wave goodbye from the very edge of their souls.
Instead, he stands still, blocking the only exit the room has, unconsciously trying to keep Harry inside so he doesn't leave them in this huge house, alone and wondering if things would have been different had not Voldemort existed. Draco closes his eyes, tries to close his soul to any sound, but suddenly Harry sobs louder and Draco opens them wide, scanning his lover's face for a signal, anything, but there is nothing except regret and pain in those beautiful pools of green looking back at him.
"Harry," he whispers, fisting the hem of his shirt in an attempt to not give in to his instincts and throw himself at his husband. "Harry, this doesn't have to end like this."
"I... I don't want to hurt you or the kids." Harry's voice is harsh and despaired, coming through his fingers that once again cover those eyes. "I will never forgive myself if I hurt the kids..."
"Eve and Adam know you love them, and I am sure you would not hurt them, not now, not ever. Don't you trust me?"
Another loud repressed sob, and Harry was on his knees. "I am really sorry, Draco!" And Draco's heart does that fluttering thing he refuses to name, because if he names it then it will be real, and he doesn't want that tingle to become more real than the pain he is feeling. That tingle that is telling him that maybe, just maybe, they are doing the right thing, for once.
"I know you are, Harry, and I am sorry too. I don't want you to go, but we've already talked about this. Even the mediwizards at St. Mungo's agreed that some time away from this--- environment would do you some good. It will only be a couple of weeks, a month. Afterwards you'll be back again, and you'll be yourself."
"What if I don't have a 'myself' to go back to? What if I truly am this--- this--- shadow of happiness?" Harry sounds so desperate that it takes everything in Draco to keep his place at the doorway. "What if the Harry you think you love doesn't really exist?"
Draco closes his eyes again. He doesn't have an answer to that – he doesn't even know if he would ever have one. Things are a lot different now from what they were when they both were younger and fighting a battle neither would have lived through. Sometimes, Draco wonders whether it would have been better for them to have just died from the curses, to have entered the afterlife without knowing the darkness they were getting into the day Harry had killed the monster.
He realises that he will never know. That he doesn't want to know.
All he wants is Harry to recover from the hell he has put himself into.
September 9th, 2000
I'm so nervous I can't stop shaking. The quill is trembling in my hand, and the ink is haphazardly dropping on the parchment.
I have my first date with Harry today.
I am trembling. A Malfoy, shaking like a little teen girl! What would Father think if he saw me like this, running through all my clothes and finding nothing to wear tonight? Well, he'd probably have a fit because of who I am going to see more than about what I am going to wear.
Since we saw each other the other day (I strongly refuse to acknowledge that it was, in fact, September 7th at two in the morning when I last saw him), we have been owling back and forth. I love his handwriting. Yes, it may be a bit messed and nearly highly unreadable, but I find it cute that he tries to make it clear for me to read.
... and I'm babbling again like a schoolgirl!
Harry Potter asked me out a couple of days ago! Let me see... It was the 7th, because the night before he had said goodbye at the door of the Manor with a soft kiss that was just a shadow of a kiss, and I was so excited, and then the next morning he owled me to ask me on a date tonight, of all nights, when I feel so gross and ugly because I've had the longest, toughest, impossibly hardest day at work! Where the hell are my new jeans? I bought them just in case Harry asked me! Everyone knows I don't wear Muggle clothes – I'd rather wear a good Wizard robe – but Pansy told me once that Harry loved Muggle clothes, and I bought them... Where did I put them? Where did Glibby put it? I'm going to give a cloth to that elf if she doesn't find the jeans on time!
Enough ranting. I only have two hours left before he gets here!
September 10th, 2000
It seems like an eternity since yesterday that I left my Quick Quotes Quill writing my rant. And it has only been a day. And what a day!
When Harry came to get me yesterday, I was expecting a small smile, something shy, you know?, because it is Harry Potter we are talking about. But it seems that he abandoned his shy self in the closet after the last battle. Because... oh, I'm blushing just thinking about it, me blushing!... he had just seen me walking down the stairs and he was at the bottom, a red shade of blush on his cheeks, and he stood still until I was downstairs, that look in his eyes and suddenly a feral grin...
He stretched out a hand and grabbed me by my arm, pulling me to him and kissing me. It was... I don't know how to express it. It was harsh, and hard, but sweet and loving and sealing and all those things in between.
We didn't go out last night. Not at all. Not that we spent our time doing... nasty things, but we sat down on the couch in the living room, in front of the fireplace, and we talked. We had never talked before, and it was kind of nice to know we have so much in common. Of course, we resumed kissing again. I have never tasted something that soft and sweet – I could almost taste love there.
I think I may have fallen hard this time – maybe I have been falling for ages now.
"Draco Malfoy is not the subject of this interview. Moreover, that question was not even in the list you sent my way before I agreed to talk to you."
"And, nevertheless, he has to be an important person. Otherwise, you would talk about him."
Another rustle of clothes. One of them who stands up.
"This conversation is finished."
"I didn't mean to offend you."
"And you have offended me once again. Draco Malfoy is a good person who, just like me, made some mistakes. But he knew how to come out of that, how to move on. I don't think his affiliation during the war represents who he is today."
"Would you talk about Draco Malfoy in his present, modern and personal side?"
"I can talk about things that are public knowledge. Speaking my mind about something everyone else knows makes me feel less guilty of meddling."
"How would you describe Draco Malfoy as a father?"
A smile that lights up the office with the power of a thousand suns.
"It's incredible, seeing him playing with the kids. When he was younger he wasn't always at ease surrounded by children, but becoming a father has changed him. It has changed all of us. Those kids are the real reason why we are still sane."
September 7th, 2010
The children are waiting at the bottom of the stairs, faces lit up in hopeful smiles that show perfect teeth. Pansy stands by their side, eyes downcast as if the tiled floor was the most important thing in her suddenly darkening world.
Things shouldn't end up like this. Children shouldn't wave goodbye to their father at the bottom of the stairs just before he is admitted to a hospital. Yet she knows that life at the Manor has never been what others would define as normal, so there is no shock in her expression when she finally looks up, right into grey pool of pain. She feels her heart clench.
Draco doesn't deserve to suffer.
"Dad," Eve calls with a soft, small voice. "Dad, where is Papa?"
"He will be coming down in about a minute or so. He wanted some time alone before leaving."
Adam chokes on a sob, his whole little body shaking with the force of his fear running along his spine. "Why is Papa leaving?" he cries, and Draco's heart breaks at the sight in front of his eyes. "I don't understand anything!"
Suddenly, Draco is shedding tears, as he feels the warm and salty touch of the water rolling down his cheeks. He knows they are doing the right thing, making Harry go away to get better before things get tough once again. Draco has had his share of hurting, and he doesn't want his children to suffer what he has been hiding.
"I am leaving because I love you so much, Adam," comes Harry's powerful, booming voice from above them. "I know you don't understand, my love, but someday, you will. Believe me, you will understand." Harry is slowly descending the stairs, hand settled firmly on the handrail, eyes on his little, sobbing son. "C'mere," he commands softly once he has reached the bottom, brushing past Draco and opening his arms wide to hug his children.
Adam and Eve run toward their Papa, tears running freely down their tanned faces, and throw themselves into those welcoming arms, making a puddle of salty mess and trembling hands of the three of them.
Draco sighs and closes his eyes, finding peace and relief in the scene that is unfolding before him.
Because Harry is not that shadow of a wizard, Draco keeps telling himself, over and over again, because Harry is not a single thing of what he has become as of lately. Harry is exactly the same person Draco had gotten to know before the war – he still is kind and warm and brave. He is still that loving brat who had stolen his heart back when they both were seventeen but too scared to ask for anything but a duel.
Harry was the loving father who hugged his children senseless just before going away on a business trip.
"Draco," he hears Pansy's breaking voice in his ear, her soft hand on the small of his back. "Join them. I think Harry could use a hug from you right now."
"Wouldn't he..." Draco breathes deep, trying to regain a little composure before losing it. "Wouldn't he hate me because I've made him leave? I don't... I don't want him to leave!"
"He wouldn't, and you know it," Pansy reassures him. "He loves you more than anything. Well, maybe not more than he loves the kids, but he undoubtedly loves you. And he realized he needed help long ago, so it's not your fault. Now, go on and hug him. You both need it..."
It takes everything Draco has to keep himself from lunging in a very unattractive and not aristocratic way to his husband. Instead, he walks hastily towards the pile of bodies crying on the floor and circles Harry's waist from behind, startling him.
"Love you," he mumbles, feeling Harry's heartbeat fast and pounding in his chest.
"Love you too," Harry whispers back, and Draco feels his heart swell. Maybe, just maybe, they are doing the right thing for once in their lives.
When Harry straightens his back and squares his shoulders, Draco knows that the time has come.
He has to let Harry go.
September 10th, 2001
It's been a year since I last wrote in here, but I've been very busy. First, I didn't have spare time to sit down and actually make my brain function properly enough to write, since I was seeing Harry all hours. After that, well... he started spending the nights at the Manor. And then he moved into the Manor and everything went hectic for a while, what with us erm, christening I think is the word, every room we found.
Time has gone so fast it's nearly unbelievable. Tonight it's our first anniversary, and I have the biggest surprise ever. I don't know how Harry is going to react, but I really hope he says yes. The silver ring is in a box on my left pocket, ready to be delivered, and I have reservations for the best table at the best restaurant in both Muggle and Wizarding London.
Even though this may be the happiest night of my life, I have a strong feeling – I can sense something big is happening to Harry. I still don't know what it is nor do I understand his sudden needs of going to the nearest bathroom, taking with him a black bag that accompanies him wherever he goes. I've peered inside the bag once, and all I've seen is white powder, like... well, I don't know what's the name of the powder Muggles use to decorate their cakes and desserts, but it looked like it. Why would Harry carry a, hum, bag full of decorating powder, is beyond me. I'm intrigued.
However, I'm not going to ask him. At least not yet. I have far more important questions to ask tonight.
I can worry about things I don't know tomorrow, when I wake up in his arms as his fiancé.
September 11th, 2001
I don't understand a single thing that happened last night except that Harry said yes. Anything else is just a blur of pain and confusion.
I have to say it aloud, write it down, speak my mind so I don't hurt anymore. Even I, being the pro-Wizards-against-Muggles prat that I myself am, know exactly what that word he spoke means.
He promised I was the only thing he needed to feel right again. He lied, obviously.
It is such a simple word, yet it implies a hell of meanings, a whole new universe of curses.
I knew something was off with Harry. I knew he had nightmares, he couldn't sleep well, he saw the faces of all the people he had killed during the war – including those of his parents and Cedric Diggory and Sirius Black and Dumbledore. I knew he had gone to St. Mungo's to get mediwizard treatment for all this. What I didn't even start to fathom was that the roots of his own pain came from a much deeper well.
He had stumbled upon a... dealer... sometime last year, during summer, a little before we got together. He had been down, searching for a cure to his desperation, but not finding anything to ease it. And then that dealer talked him into tasting a bit of his newest substance, something that could make him fly. Gods, I thought Harry had lived enough around Muggles to know what that powder could do to him! His addiction started out being esporadic, but grown to become almost a necessity.
Nevertheless, he has promised me he's going to quit it, he can do it. I trust him. I have to. I can't help but feel like I'm not enough for him. How could I be, if he needs this shit to go through the day? Who can assure me Harry wasn't high the first time we made love? Who can tell me he was telling the truth when he tells me he loves me, and it's not the cocaine speaking?
I truly love him, and I wish I could have said something, anything, other than 'Will you marry me, Harry?' I am a real idiot, because no one with a brain would have asked that after such a horrible confession. Yet I wasn't able to dump him when it's obvious he needs help. Why is this happening to us? To him?
He said yes. I'm going to marry Harry, and I have to trust him. But that doesn't mean I don't have my doubts. And him doing as powerful a drug as cocaine is definitely one of my strongest doubts.
"Adam and Evelyn Potter-Malfoy are by far the luckiest children in the Wizarding World. Their parents are Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, war heroes. Has the fame they've grown up with affected them in some way?"
"I can assure you that those children haven't known such a thing as fame in their whole lives. Harry and Draco have made it possible, by keeping them away from any flash of magic cameras. And Colin Creevey too."
"Last question here, and we're done."
"Okay. Fire away."
"Is Harry Potter completely recovered from his stay at St. Mungo's for what was rumoured to be a detoxification process?"
A slight frown. Fingers that search through the lines on a crumpled paper. A sigh and a bright smile.
"Do you want the truth?"
Another curt nod.
"The truth is... Harry will always struggle over his addictions, but he is currently clean. The Saviour was human after all. But he has Draco to take care of him. As long as they're together, they can overcome anything."
"Thank you very much, Miss Parkinson, for your time and for giving The Sunday Prophet the chance to glimpse into Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy's personal life nowadays."
"It's always a pleasure. But please, call me Pansy."
A nod and a hand stretched out. Tanned fingers meet elegant manicured ones. With some steps and a door closing behind an elegant back clad in a silky dress, the world rests at peace again.
December 25th, 2010
It's been three months, two weeks, four days, twenty hours, ten minutes and six – no, seven – no, eight – seconds since Harry walked out that door that is now waiting for him to come back. Draco knows it has been enough.
The kids run restlessly around the corridor while Pansy tries to get everything in order in the kitchen. They have painted a big poster with the words Welcome back home, Papa written in bright red letters that Adam himself had been in charge of drawing; the poster is now hanging magically over the cream couch in the living room.
Draco knows that everything is perfect, yet he has this fear that, when Harry steps back into their lives, nothing will ever be the same. It's been far too much time for their life to remain the same as it was before Harry decided to drown his fears and insecurities in perfectly drawn lines of white powder.
But Draco is determined to make it better – he has to. He still loves Harry, and while he has been following his progress at St. Mungo's Draco has learned to be strong for him. They both survived a war, a madman and the whole Wizarding World gossiping about their relationship. They surely can survive this sick addiction and hex it into next week together. Together as they have been for the last eleven years. Together as they will be for the rest of their lives. Draco is not about to give up. He doesn't believe in throwing in the towel. Harry is a fighter. He is a fighter.
But, more important, both of them are survivors. They can overcome anything, Draco keeps telling himself this as he observes his children – Harry's children, their children – running around, clinging to Pansy and playing cheerfully. He wonders whether their kids will ever find out that –
His thoughts are roughly cut off by the sound of someone outside the house. They decided back when Eve was born that not allowing Apparition inside the Manor was the best security measure. After all those years, it had proved to be so. The children stop dead in their tracks, the soft "crack" of someone Apparating in the garden echoing around the house, and then the same person fumbling. Soft tinkling of keys in a silver key chain, Draco can see them even though the door is closed, because he wants to believe he is back, he wants to believe his Harry is at the other side of that huge door that doesn't even need keys to be opened, but Harry just loves to play with the metallic keys to let the children know he is home.
Draco wants to believe that this is the same Harry he fell in love with at the very beginning of their lives. He needs to believe that Harry is no longer that emaciated shadow of himself who wandered around the house like a ghost three months, two weeks, four days, ten hours, thirty minutes and forty-six – no, forty-seven – no, forty-eight – seconds ago.
The big, wooden doors opens with a loud crack and the shadow of a tall man greets them. Bright, green eyes are looking at them, fear and uncertainty glittering in those pupils. Draco looks straight into the jade shade and finds the answer to each and every of his prayers.
"Hullo," Harry says, voice low but not quavering. "How have my kids been?"
Eve looks gobsmacked. She hasn't seen her father in so long. Adam is just staring at the absence of the luggage Harry took to the hospital. "Papa," the boy asks timidly, "Papa, where are your suitcases?"
Harry smiles and opens his arms widely, invitingly. Draco knows he holds the key that will unlock either the love kept for so many years now or the rejection for the abandon Harry condemned them to when he locked himself up in St. Mungo's. Draco lets a little smile curl his lips up and steps toward his husband.
When he crashes into Harry's arms, the world starts spinning again – he hadn't even noticed his universe had stopped time ago. What Draco wants to know, what he wants to believe, is that everything will revolve around their family once again.
"I love you," they barely whisper to each other, over and over again, touching, slightly kissing, just a nanosecond before Draco rests his head in the crook of Harry's neck.
It is there where he belongs.
January 1st, 2011
This is my last entry in this diary for a long, long time. Harry and I are about to take a plane (A plane? Me? In a Muggle device? Hey, stop staring and close your mouth!) that will take us to our final destination: a second honeymoon to celebrate that, despite everyone, despite all the obstacles, all the problems, we are still in love.
And yes, I don't know where I am going. Harry has planned this on his own, or rather, he had Pansy's help. She is staying with Adam and Eve for the next month or so. I so love her, in a non-romantic, brotherly way.
Harry is waving to me. It seems we can get into the plane now. I will never understand the Muggle way of living, but Harry seems to enjoy it, and I'm not complaining. He is so full of life again; I had my doubts when he went to St. Mungo's for a cure and a spell to forget, a spell way stronger than a simple Obliviate. But now I know.
I know he loves our children enough to overcome his own weakness. I know he loves me enough to fight against himself. And that's more than enough for me.
I am truly happy, for the first time in my whole life.