hd_hols (hd_hols) wrote in hd_holidays,
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Happy H/D Holidays, mizbean!

Author: paragraphs
Recipient: mizbean
Title: Haven
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco
Summary: Draco Malfoy has been tried and convicted for his war crimes; only the question of his punishment remains.
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): None
Deathly Hallows compliant? Everything except for the fate of one of the Malfoys (not Draco)
Word Count: 8,375
Author's Notes: None.

Sentence


Guilty.

The Wizard Court had made its decision. Draco Malfoy had been tried before his peers and found guilty of conspiring with the enemy. The decision was no surprise to Harry, nor to Hermione and anyone else involved in those final days before the greatest Wizard battle of all time.

No one expected it to be any different for the younger Malfoy despite his heroics in the end. Harry had hoped that when it came to light that Draco had had no choice but to follow through on the role forced on him, that the Court would be lenient, but the hard set of those six faces now peering angrily down at Draco pretty much doused that hope.

Harry mentally shook his head at himself. He, of all people, hoped for leniency? For Draco Malfoy?

The anger and hatred he'd held as recently as five weeks ago for Malfoy seemed an impossible memory. How he couldn't have seen what Draco was going through...but there were lots of things he didn't see. Or, understand. About either of them.

He studied the young blond man who stood straight and resolute, his expression unreadable, as he awaited the final punishment for his crimes. Harry sat to Draco's right, in the front row, where he knew the heavily chained young man had to see him. Everyone else looked at him also, so for once, Harry let his gaze travel freely over the other's features, drinking in the sight of him, so beautiful, so proud...so untouchable.

The memory of that night after the battle four weeks before, when the two of them were alone, separated from the others--tired, filthy, hungry, exhausted and yet exhilarated--burned in his mind, heart...and groin. As if Draco knew his thoughts, he turned his head slightly toward Harry, and Harry couldn't help himself, he leaned forward, his whole body tingling for want of Draco's touch. Only Hermione's hand clasping his arm as the head wizard cleared his throat stopped him from doing something foolish.

He settled back in his seat. There was nothing he could do. The chasm between himself and Draco would only ever widen, never to be breached again. What would they give him? Harry wondered. Twenty years in Azkaban? Thirty? Harry shuddered at the thought, remembered well his reaction the few times Sirius would speak of the horrors there. Once, Harry would've been ecstatic to think of Draco stuck in the wizard prison for the rest of his life, but now...

The memories of that last night were too tender for him to willingly accept such a sentence for his friend now. Friend.

More than just a friend. That night, Draco had taken his heart.

"I hope they send him up for fifty years," Neville muttered angrily beside Harry. "What's taking them so long?" Hermione glared at Neville but Harry said nothing, just clasped Hermione's hand. Only she knew the truth of Harry's ricocheting feelings. "Right Harry?" Neville said, his sharp words drilling hard into Harry's cloaked mind.

He flinched, but shrugged at Neville. "Um, yeah, sure." He turned his gaze back to Draco.

"When we find his father, I hope they make sure he rots in there too."

"Neville," Hermione murmured. "Quiet," she added at Neville's suspicious look. "They're about to start again."

She squeezed Harry's hand and he smiled briefly at her, grateful for her being there. He hadn't wanted her to leave Ron, but his friend had insisted all he wanted to do was sleep for the next three months. Preferably sedated, so he wouldn't have to deal with the pain of his burns' slow healing. Burns bestowed on him by Lucius Malfoy. That Ron survived the almost direct blast was a miracle. That he had survived, and hadn't held Draco's father's actions against Draco, another.

That Ron had proposed marriage to Hermione and she'd accepted even though they were both only eighteen was the biggest miracle of all. Harry supposed surviving a near-death experience had given Ron some crazy fearlessness...or else, as Neville had suggested, the drugs did. In any case, he was happy for them both. More than happy. He was ecstatic for them, and pretty amused. Hermione had popped him on the arm for that.

Harry shuddered now, though; the elder Malfoy was still on the loose, had disappeared without a trace along with four other Death Eaters. Draco had been both angry and terrified when Harry had told him during his last visit to the interim prison that had been Draco's home since turning himself in.

Draco had sat on his stool on the other side of the bars separating them, a look of utter defeat on his face. "He'll kill me, Harry. If I don't die in Azkaban first."

Draco was right, Harry knew. Lucius might be gone, untraceable, for now...but someday he would come back again. Exact his revenge on his son for turning traitor, and for the death of his wife. Not if Harry could help it. They hadn't spoken further about that one night of explosive, desperate passion. But Harry had come back often before the trial, visiting Draco as discreetly as possible so the two could try to figure out where Lucius Malfoy had gone. Harry had then looked everywhere for the man, all the places Draco had told him that the senior Malfoy might be found. Nothing.

Despite his best efforts, and Hermione's help, Harry had been unsuccessful. The trial against Draco had pushed onward, each day seeing Draco pull more and more away from Harry so that even the memory of their time together seemed but a dream.

There was nothing Harry could do to help Draco. At least not now. He sat back in his hard seat, his side still aching from his injury, and his heart still aching at Draco's angry words the last time they'd talked. Hermione had told him Draco hadn't meant the cruel things he'd said to Harry in those final moments...they were born of desperation, of despair and fear.

"Maybe, even out of love," she said thoughtfully, tapping her finger on her chin.

"Out of... Hermione," Harry said, shaking his head, not wanting to believe that, yet wanting to believe that. Very badly.

"Yes. He's probably convinced himself the only way to keep you safe--"

"I can take care of myself--"

She huffed in exasperation. "Of course you can," she said, patting him on the shoulder. "But I think it's understandable. That he'd try and ruin things between you, because of...well...where he's going. And his father being out there, and what he might do." She'd tilted her head at him and smiled. "Work?"

"No," he said, his voice rough as he stared at his still-healing hands. "No."

The loud crack of a gavel on wood startled Harry out of his daydreaming. He straightened in his chair as Sigmund Fitzhollow, the Presiding Wizard, stood.

"The accused will rise," he said, his gravelly voice quieting the persistent murmuring in the room.

Harry snorted softly. Draco hadn't been exactly sitting. But the blond young man straightened, raised his chin proudly, shoulders back. Harry rubbed his palms on his pants, fought to calm his racing heart.

"Draco Malfoy, you have been accused of many crimes against your fellow Wizards. Accepting the mark of the Death Eaters, and joining in that society in its support of...Voldemort." Gasps rippled through the assembled audience. Some of the older wizards would never get used to hearing that name, even though Voldemort would never rise again. He'd made sure of that.

"You stand accused of the murder of three of your fellow wizards. Francie Slipwiggens, Marcus Finley, and Sherman Hornblossom. You have been found guilty of conspiracy to undermine the Ministry of Magic and bring about its demise, you caused injury to two students and in addition allowed the entry of Death Eaters into Hogwarts, and, due to your negligence, caused the death of your own mother." The gathering murmured again as Draco finally broke, dropping his chin to his chest. His shoulders shook and Harry was damn glad Hermione had long nails as that was all that kept him from leaping over the short wall dividing them and pulling Draco into a protective embrace.

He'd already held Draco once as the other young man had sobbed out his horror and sorrow over the death of his mother. Not at his own hands--no, no matter what Fitzhollow intimated. But, her death had, yes, been his fault.

"All of these crimes individually would sentence you to many years in Azkaban. However, that will not be your destination."

The crowd broke out in protest at that, Neville leaping to his feet. Shouts rang over the hall and Harry stared at Hermione, as she stared at him. They seemed to be the only two struck speechless.

The gavel came down hard once again. Fitzhollow glared at the assembly until, as if the ingrained memory of their days at Hogwarts beneath a teacher's baleful eye was the only thing that settled them, the crowd grew quiet again. Harry sat on the edge of his seat. Draco stood ramrod straight.

Fitzhollow smiled down at Draco. To Harry's shock, it was...sympathetic.

"Son. Your counselor has pleaded his case well, as have the numerous witnesses to your heroic deeds at the Final Battle. Especially," he nodded toward Harry, "Harry Potter's testimony." Harry stiffened.

"The Court believes you, that you were in effect blackmailed to perform the duties you carried out. We believe that you have shown remorse for those deaths you caused, especially your mother. We are aware of your father's...ahem...gift of persuasion, and do accept that in effect, you had no choice but to carry out the tasks set before you, lest you yourself be killed."

Harry easily predicted the quick gasp from the crowd.

"Nonetheless, it is this Court's duty to punish you for the crimes for which you have been found guilty. It is this Court's responsibility to see to it that you pay for your crimes so that, someday, you will be able to put your terrible deeds behind you and become a productive member of the Wizarding community."

Harry straightened at that. Could it be? They really weren't going to send Draco to Azkaban? He glanced at the crowd watching, at the faces that now ranged (except for Neville's) from confused interest to outright compassion for Draco. It had come to a surprise to many--to most--that Draco had been forced to follow his father's footsteps.

Fitzhollow nodded down at Draco, then clasped his hands. "Albus Dumbledore told me once, 'that boy's no killer, Fitzy.' I had questioned his sanity then..." He chuckled. "I often did, but that's no matter now. I remember challenging him on that point. Insisting that any son of Lucius Malfoy had to be. But Albus said no." He leaned forward, mere feet from Draco now. "Time proved Albus wrong, true, as you did take the lives of others. However, we of this Court believe based on the evidence presented to us, that you will not do so again. That you will not be, once rehabilitated, a threat to society. Therefore, this Court has decided, Draco Malfoy, to sentence you to ten years supervised probation."

The crowd erupted. Harry stared, dumbfounded, at Draco's shocked face. Probation? He wasn't going to Azkaban? Draco dropped his head back, eyes closed, before dropping his face in his hands. Harry wondered what emotions were racing through Draco now...and if, maybe, his own had flickered to Draco. Only Neville's sputtering anger next to him kept Harry from jumping up and shouting in joy. Hermione latched onto his arm, squeezing hard and, unseen (fortunately) by Neville, kissed him on the cheek.

The gavel came down again. "Order!" Fitzhollow boomed, instantly quieting the crowd. He smiled, but this time, Harry saw a glint of something in the man's eyes that made Harry suddenly feel uncomfortable. Hermione too saw it; she clenched his hand again, glancing up at him. He shook his head once, then as did everyone else in the hall, turned his attention back to Fitzhollow.

"Draco Malfoy. This Court has sentenced you, as I said, to ten years probation. The duration of your sentence will be carried out in a location that will be determined at a later time. Not in this public arena. You will, during this time period, not leave your assigned location for any reason, no matter how imperative. Your wand will remain in this Court's possession." Draco, for the first time, made a startled sound. Fitzhollow's gaze hardened. "For ten years, commencing from this moment, you are hereby stripped of all your magic. You are banned from the Wizard community. You will not correspond with, associate with, acknowledge, or speak about any wizard, any magic, or magical creatures, until ten years from this date except for your probation Wizard. You are, from henceforth until that date, a Muggle, in every sense of the word."

Now Harry did let out an angry shout--but it was drowned in the crowds' cheers of approval, and Neville's triumphant "YES!"

This time Fitzhollow's gavel rang down but was followed with a triumphant "dismissed!"

The din in the hall only rose as Harry tried frantically to shout after Draco, but as he sprang from his seat, slipping from Hermione's frantic grasp, he ran into body after body of excited wizards and witches excitedly talking about the case...no one noticed as the guards reached Draco and unshackled him from his bonds. No one watched the young blond man, shoulders back, chin high and proud, as he was led by the two guards, out of the courtroom and toward the new life being forced on him by the High Wizard Court.

No one, that is, except for Harry. As the guards and Draco reached the door that led back to the jail, Harry called out Draco's name one last time. The blond man stopped, half-turned, and not looking at Harry, shook his head once before turning away and allowing the guards to push him through the door.

A hand rested on his shoulder. Hermoine leaned against him, sighing. "Somehow, for Draco, this is probably worse than twenty years in Azkaban."

Harry could only nod.


Cell


The effect of the sentence was immediate, though release was not.

Draco reluctantly followed his escort, a burly, shuffling man with squinty pig eyes and ham-sized hands the strength of which Draco could attest to. The path between courtroom and cell was a familiar one, of course. He'd walked it many times the last few weeks. However, this was the first time he'd been permitted to make the journey following his keeper, not in front of him--and without being bound by shackle and chain.

There was, after all, no longer any reason to fear him. He, Draco Malfoy, was--for all intents and purposes--a Muggle. No better than a Squib, and thus totally harmless. He was nothing. Nothing.

He'd never been more scared.

The magic that had always run through his veins--pure blood--was gone. The comforting deep thrum he'd felt inside since he was a little boy had, with that last gavel's fall, disappeared.

Nothing.

He closed his eyes against the realization as they reached the elevator. Not only had they taken his wand away, but somehow had stripped away his ability to do magic. The wards they'd shackled him with to keep his magic contained had been taken away as well. They were no longer needed.

Draco grimaced to himself. His last night in the wizarding world, and he would be spending it in his cell, even more of a prisoner than he'd been when he'd left it that morning. A Muggle. He still reeled from the sentence, still veered away from its implications. Ostracized and banned from his kind...and magicless. He had no idea how he would cope. He knew nothing, absolutely nothing about the world he'd ridiculed all his life.

"Get on with you," his keeper said, shoving him onto the elevator. Draco clenched his fists but said nothing. He wouldn't put it past the man to cuff him on the head one last time, simply for the fun of it.

The cramped elevator's descent was slow and creaky. His keeper grunted as it jerked downward, his feet spread wide to keep his balance. Draco stood as far away from him as he could though it was difficult not to be thrown against the man with each lurch. Each time he did, his keeper leered at him. Draco had no wish to analyze the glint in the man's eye. At last the elevator groaned to a stop and the doors flung open and Draco emerged for the last time into the room that had been his home these last weeks. Six cells filled the space, though all but one of the cells had stayed unoccupied. His. They'd kept him sequestered, his keeper his only company.

Except for Harry. But then his visits had been awkward, and too few.

Mostly, he'd been left alone. That had hurt though it really didn't surprise Draco that no one would see him. Snape would've, he supposed, if he'd been alive. Draco really wasn't sure what he would've said to the man anyway. It still amazed him. All that time, and Snape's loyalties really had been elsewhere, on the other side..." Draco shook his head at that. He had to admire the man--Snape had even fooled his father. Lucius would've killed Snape well before he had actually died, had he known Snape was Dumbledore's man.

As Lucius would no doubt kill him, when he got the chance. Even if Draco was his son.

We will meet again, Draco...and next time, the outcome shall be different.

Draco's heart raced, remembering his father's words.

A promise, not a warning.

"Hold on," his keeper said, startling Draco from that uneasy line of thought. "Stand back now." He unlocked the cell that had been assigned to Draco and stood back for him to enter. Draco hesitated. "Get in," the man said, and as Draco finally entered his cell, the man muttered, "Mudblood."

Draco whirled on him but the man was too fast. He jerked the door shut with a loud clang and Draco found himself smacked against the bars. He pulled back. To his shock the keeper's fist seized him through the bars and slammed him forward, making Draco yelp with pain and embarrassing fear.

The man's face pressed close to his. He smelled sour, his teeth stained with the tobacco he favored. Draco pushed hard against the bars but was held fast. "Not so high and mighty now, are you, Prince," his captor said with a sneer.

"Let me go," Draco said, trying to find the self-righteous anger he was used to, not this numbing fear. "You have no right to do this."

"No? You have no rights here. You're just a Muggle, after all."

His keeper laughed, then released him so abruptly Draco fell onto his backside. The keeper pushed his face against the bars and looked down on Draco. "How the mighty have fallen." He locked the door, jangled it once, laughed at Draco then walked away, whistling.

Draco lay back on the floor, his heart racing. His backside stung from the impact; he touched his nose, wincing at the tenderness. He dropped his hand, and turning his head to the side realized something...everything in his cell was gone, except his bed. He sat up, staring about him. The books he'd been allowed to read, his table and single chair and the mug and tin of tea were gone. As was the chess set Harry had given him, the parchment and quills, the thick blanket Hermione had insisted he take. All gone.

Dropping his chin to his chest, Draco closed his eyes. A deep-seated chill descended on him, reaching deep into his veins where once magic ran, and took hold of him with such a fierceness he would've cried out if not for the man sitting outside the cell, watching him. He shivered. Nothing. He had nothing, except the clothes on his back and the shoes on his feet.

Misery cascaded through him. Slowly, feeling like an ancient crone and not the 19-year-old he was, Draco pulled himself onto the meager cot. He fell onto its stiff sheets, hugging the scratchy coverlet to his face, sorely missing Hermione's blanket which she'd proudly told him had been knitted by her mother. A Muggle, he'd thought on taking it, he remembered. He was glad he'd quelled the sneer that had threatened, glad he'd remembered he no longer had to pretend, and had held it close, overwhelmed momentarily by Hermione's compassion. Compassion he did not deserve. Harry must've told her...

He pushed thoughts of Harry aside, forced away the anguish of loss. He would not think of Harry, of that magical, wondrous, agonizing night when he'd poured his soul out to the boy who hated him, and watched that hate turn to something he never thought anyone would give him--understanding.

And now, that too, was gone. Harry was gone. Everything...gone.


Proposition


Sleep was, not unexpectedly, elusive that last night. The minutes dragged into hours, and the hours bled into morning. Draco remained on the cot as he heard the first stirrings of the day overhead. He flung one arm over his eyes, the other fell limp to the side. He'd kicked the meager coverings over sometime in the night, but had lacked the energy to pull them back over himself again.

Cold. No blanket could warm him. Nothing could.

He'd tried to turn off the churnings in his mind as the night ticked away, but had found it impossible. Every breath he took left him shuddering in fear of the unknown, every exhale that left his body was carried out on a wave of disbelief. His heart raced despite his best efforts, and his throat clogged so fully that he found himself gasping for breath.

Ten years. Ten years of exile from his own kind. From magic. From the only world he'd ever known. Ever wanted to know.

A world that didn't want him. No one gave a damn what happened to him now. He was as good as dead to them, to all the others.

Others? He snorted to himself at that. You are no longer one of them. But was he, ever? He never felt a part of those he was forced to call friends, or to be deferential to, and he certainly wouldn't ever have been welcome with Potter and his friends. How he envied them--Harry, Ron, Hermione. All of them, really. Even Neville, strange as he was, had friends who would be there in a moment's notice for him. All that last year, longer even, of watching from afar. An outcast, observing with a face full of distaste for appearance's sake, but with a heart bursting with envy and bitter sorrow over what he knew he would never be allowed to have. He was a Malfoy, a pureblood, a Slytherin through and through, and as such his life was not his own to decide. His friends were not his own to make. He was told what to do, what to think, who to associate with, and to do otherwise was unthinkable. But in the end, despite his father's best efforts, even his command, Draco wouldn't hate Harry Potter and his friends anymore. Couldn't hate them, though he had every reason to. And that, of course, was the root of his downfall in his father's eyes.

A tear escaped, rolled hotly down the side of his face. It had not been the first.

Draco swallowed. Shifted in the cot. His groin ached; he needed to piss. His throat hurt, nausea curled in his stomach but he knew there was nothing inside to get sick on. He'd barely eaten in days. Every muscle ached and creaked as if he were an old man. And worse…worst of all, that deep hum that had always almost been like a secret companion to him, all those lonely, frightening years, had been stripped of him completely. A dark emptiness ran through him, nothing more.

No more magic. You are nothing, nothing but…a Muggle!

How would he live? How would he cope? They hadn't said where he'd be sent but it had to be someplace terrible and cruel. Worse than Azkaban could ever be. He'd surely starve, he'd die on the streets, homeless, with naught but rags on his body, unable to take care of himself-- Hated.

Somehow, that was the worst thing of all. He was tired, so fucking tired of being the one people looked at with coldness, with distaste. When he'd been younger--and stupid--he hadn't minded so much. He'd been proud of who he was, proud of his father's hidden connection to Voldemort.

Such a little fool.

Or was he the fool now? For having turned his back on Voldemort, on his father, when he had? For though Voldemort was dead, his father certainly wasn't. Maybe it would be a good thing, to die on the streets, starving, scrounging with the rats for sustenance. Far better that, he thought, than encountering his father again, and finding himself at the mercy of his father's hatred.

Draco took a deep, shuddering breath. Forced his father's cold eyes from his mind, but there was nothing to comfort him. Nothing but the few good memories he would take from this place. Memories centered around one person.

He turned his head as if he could escape the teasing thoughts but it was impossible.

Harry.

He'd never have the chance to feel Harry's touch again, look into those eyes. There'd never be the chance to learn if there could've been more between them, if that one night had been a fluke. He screwed his eyes shut, remembering the way Harry, though smaller than he, had taken Draco into his arms. Had carefully peeled the blood-stained shirt from Draco's body, helped him off with the rest of his tattered clothes. Had gently tended his wounds. Taken care of him. Held him. He remembered the feel of Harry's rough hands on his bare skin. Remembered the gentle sureness of his touch. Harry had known.

Draco had closed his eyes, disbelief and the remnants of habitual hate warring with the sharp, piercing desire to open himself to his lover. By then, all the words had been said between them, the explanations made. Harry had been adamant that Draco had been used worse than he had.

"At least," Harry had told him, "I wasn't alone."

Draco had been alone. Oh sure, there'd been those like Crabbe and Goyle, and the others who purported to be his friends, there to support him, but they were little more than hired henchmen. They hadn't cared. All his life Draco had just wanted someone, besides his mother, to care. No one had.

Until Harry.

For the first time in his life, Draco had felt truly safe--and it had been in Harry Potter's arms he'd found his haven. Had found the first glimmerings of the possibility of love. That Harry had been able to convince Draco he deserved that love, that there could be a future for him, a good future, now seemed like the most faded memory of all. But that night, for a little while, Draco had believed. He'd looked up, his soul as stripped as his body was, into Harry's eyes, and found hope. He'd reached out his hand to touch Harry's face in wonder, and then had opened himself to Harry. Literally and figuratively, he'd given himself to Harry Potter that night.

With fire in his eyes, Harry had taken him.

Another tear escaped, and another. The flat shape meant to pass as a pillow had grown soaked. Draco turned his face, squeezing his eyes shut, wanting the tears to stop, yet wishing he could drown in them.

"I do hope you are finished feeling sorry for yourself," a voice, acidic and yet somehow familiar said.

Draco stilled. Fought the urge to wipe the tears from his face. Who...

The cell door opened and clanged shut. "Sit up, Draco. We haven't much time."

He turned over, blinking into the light and the tall, thin shape hovering over him. Mr. Weasley?

"I said you must get up. We have much to discuss. Now."

He let his arm drop. Sat slowly up, shame ripping through him for his disheveled state, for his magicless state. He pushed himself up on his hands, swung his legs off the cot. The little cell's bars swam before him, making his head hurt. He groaned, dropping his head in his hands. He hunched over, his body shaking but not from the room's chill.

"What are you doing here," Draco spit out.

Mr. Weasley stared at him, as if not seeing him for a moment, then his eyes focused on Draco. He grimaced. "Against my better judgment, I'm here to help you."

Draco turned back over. "I don't need your help. Leave me alone."

Something thumped beside him. He startled, looking at the brown pack beside him, then at Mr. Weasley. He looked haggard, weary even. He did not wear robes, hadn't, he'd heard, since burying Fred. He sat down at Draco's little table, eased back in the mean little chair, one leg crossed over the other, fingers drumming. In his other hand he suddenly held a steaming teacup. Draco couldn't help his look of longing. Mr. Weasley ignored him, took a sip of the tea and sat down the teacup, its delicate elegance startling against the table's scarred surface.

"Why are you here?" Draco said, sitting up again, fighting against his curiosity. He refused to ask about the pack beside him. Its alienness made him uneasy. He glanced at it. It smacked of Muggle. "I don't need your help, I said."

Mr. Weasley's cold look made Draco angry. He clenched his fists, but looked away. "Where's all your bravado now, Mr. Malfoy?" the older man said softly. Draco said nothing. Stared down at his feet. "You should be grateful."

"Grateful?" Draco said bitterly, finally looking up. "They've made me into a Muggle! How can I be grateful for that?"

"You're alive. You will live to see another day. You will have, after all," Mr. Weasley said, his tone terse, "the opportunity to make something of yourself. To pay for your crimes not behind bars. Or by your death. Others have not been so lucky," he finished. His eyes glittered dangerously.

Draco flinched, remembering Fred, but said, "I'd rather be in Azkaban for twenty, than spend ten years out there. Alone." He tried to look away but Mr. Weasley's eyes held him. The look in the dark depths sent a chill of fear through Draco. Does he know? Draco raised his chin, refusing to be cowed by this man even though he could leave this cell freely and Draco could not.

"You'd rather be in Azkaban, would you?"

"At least there I'd be with my own kind!" Draco meant for that to come out brave, angry, but instead, the words sounded pitiable to his ears.

"You foolish boy," Mr. Weasley said, getting to his feet. He towered over Draco, pulled him to his feet. "I would expect better than this from you. You're mother would be ashamed of you."

As the words escaped Mr. Weasley's mouth, even he looked startled, as if he'd forgotten that the last person Draco could turn to was his own mum.

Draco yanked away from him. "Go away! Just fucking leave me alone!" he yelled.

His guard hurried up to the cell. "What's going on 'ere?"

Mr. Weasley raised his hand to the guard, motioning him away. "It's all right. Please, leave us."

The guard glared at Draco. "Right then, just be o'er 'ere." With one last glare at Draco, the guard left.

Draco took a deep breath, sat on the edge of his cot and buried his face in his hands. He wanted to run away from Mr. Weasley, from all he represented. Who he was…and what Draco no longer was. "Just let me die. I just…want to die." His words ended in a whisper of despair so keen, so acute and hopeless, he didn't care what Mr. Weasley thought of him. He raised his head, staring blindly at the cell's ceiling. "I am nothing. I won't survive this. My mother is dead. My father wants me dead. He'll kill me, and I welcome it. I welcome it. Better death than…" he gestured to the pack, sitting so innocuously on his cot yet to him it was represented nothing less than the ultimate evil, "…than that."

Mr. Weasley looked at him appraisingly for a long moment, then sighed. "I'm sorry what I said. I am a man in grief, but forget that you are also. I don't think you want to die. I think you fear it. You will not die, Draco. I will see to that."

"How?" he said, sarcasm creeping back in. "They're going to throw me out in some forsaken place. They don't care."

"You will not die, and you will not be without assistance, Draco." He hesitated. "I promise you." Mr. Weasley reached for the pack, shoved it at Draco. The material felt foreign and distasteful to him. It was heavier than Draco had thought. "Your days of fancy silks and linens are over, but inside you'll find good sturdy Muggle clothes, shoes, a wallet with a goodly amount of money in it, and a guidebook. My favorite, one I've had in my collection for a couple of years." A flicker of a smile crossed his face. "Used it myself, a time or two, as did George and... George and Fred. They marked some interesting pages you might consider reading."

Draco snorted. "I don't plan on going sightseeing."

Mr. Weasley ignored him. "You'll need to change, and then you'll be taken to your destination."

"Where exactly am I going?"

"I'll not say here. Once there, you'll have enough money to support you for a few weeks." Draco winced at that. "You'll be provided all the necessary papers and identification. A place for you to live has been arranged, but finding a job will be up to you."

Draco's shoulders sagged. A job. He had no skills--other than a raw talent for killing. Not a marketable skill, unless perhaps they sent him to America.

The thought made him sick. He flicked his hand out--a hand visibly barren, in want of its wand. He looked up at Mr. Weasley. Dropped his hand, which now seared with its emptiness. His wand, gone. Destroyed. He curled his fingers around nothing. "I can't do this."

"You must," Mr. Weasley said, not unkindly.

He shook his head. "No. No. Why should I, after all?" He laughed bitterly. "He won. Voldemort won. He's destroyed my family. Destroyed me. Do you know what he told me once?"

Mr. Weasley's dark yes snapped. "You spoke with him?"

Draco nodded. "Yes. Oh yes. He used to…summon me," he said.

"He did what?"

"Please. Don't."

The look on Mr. Weasley's face shocked him. It was positively thunderous. So unlike his own father's, when he'd returned home, aching and sore and scared, from that first summons--his father had celebrated, well into the night, triumphant that Voldemort had bed his only son.

"A victim, just as much as Harry," Mr. Weasley murmured. "Molly was right."

Draco said nothing. He swallowed, his throat aching for something, anything to drink. He glanced at the table. Even lukewarm tea would do, though he'd like something stronger. Mr. Weasley flicked his hand, and another cup appeared. Hot and steamy. He handed it to Draco. He took a sip, closing his eyes at the tea's unmistakable blend. He'd had it before, many times, with his mother, in Diagon Alley. At Esmerelda's Tea Room.

The Tea Room's namesake was now amongst the dead.

"Thank you," he said.

"Voldemort," Mr. Weasley prodded gently. He leaned forward, concern on his face. It was weird to Draco, used to seeing only distaste.

Draco took another sip, letting the hot liquid soothe his throat, slightly burning, but welcome regardless. "He told me that I would not live to see twenty. That was my destiny, to die before I turned twenty. He told me that for the first time when I was twelve." He'd gone home and cried for hours after that, pushing his mum aside. Refusing to tell her. Protecting her from the horrid truth, though he'd hated having to be cruel to her, so she would just leave him alone. "After the first time he summoned me, my father would always be there, waiting for him to be done," Draco said. His father. Lucius. Watching. Eyes narrowed, challenging his son not to blunder. Draco never had. "Voldemort would then talk to me. Ask me questions about my school. About…Harry Potter," he finished. This time, he successfully schooled his reaction to thinking about Harry. He hoped. "Once he took corporeal form again, he would stand so close. Look at me, look into my eyes, like he was hypnotizing me."

"Perhaps he did."

"Maybe. I don't know. It didn't matter, he knew I would obey him. He would tell me to do things. Little things, cruel things, to the others. At school and in the summer. To Muggles mostly then, but to others, like Neville, at school." Neville's hate for him was well-founded. He, for certain, would never understand what had happened between Harry and himself. He didn't blame Neville, either.

"Go on."

Draco stood, unable to sit still any longer. He began to pace in the small cell, the words tumbling out of him. "The things I had to do got worse and worse. More and more cruel. I didn't dare protest. My father was watching. I had to do it. If I didn't, Voldemort would kill my mother. My father never said anything to that," Draco said, feeling anger start to surge in him. "He didn't love her, he just used her. He told me so, he told me. 'She's served her purpose. She had you.' That's what he told me. He wanted her to die! He made me kill her! I killed her!'"

"Did you tell your counselor these things?"

Draco whirled away from Mr. Weasley as the darkness of his self-hatred took root. "No. Of course not. I--I deserve to die, don't you see? Send me out there, it doesn't matter. He'll find me. He wanted me to kill her, but he hates me because I did!" He sat on the cot, barely feeling the dig of metal into his thighs.

Draco struggled to compose himself. After a moment, he tore off his shirt, yanked open the bag and pulled out the hateful cotton Muggle t-shirt. He pulled it on, then stood and kicked off his shoes, tearing his pants off. He then yanked a pair of jeans out--at least he had had a pair of those once--and pulled them on. He next pulled on some socks, and put on the shoes he found inside the bag. There was also a jacket, brown crackled leather. He shoved the brown wallet into his pocket without looking inside. Then, he pulled the guidebook out without looking at it, and shoved it into the other pocket of his jacket and stared now, defiantly, into Mr. Weasley's still face.

"Send me now," he said harshly. "Just send me. Then you're free of me."

Mr. Weasley sighed. "I told you, as you've apparently already forgotten, you will not be entirely alone. I'll be keeping an eye on you. There will be no possible way for your father to find you. Not where you are going." Some comfort his words were. "You will not be going out naked into the Muggle world. I suggest you read the guidebook as soon as possible." He eyed Draco then. "It is true you will find it difficult. Without magic, you will be helpless, almost completely so. But you have no choice, Draco. This is your sentence."

"I'm not stupid," he bit out.

Mr. Weasley's jaw clenched. "You will have no contact with any wizards."

"That was made clear to me yesterday," Draco said.

"You will be completely on your own, otherwise."

He closed his eyes, clenching his fists. "I know."

"You do, however, have one last choice to make."

Draco looked up at that. "Choice?" He laughed bitterly. "I have no choice in any of this."

"You do. In one thing only."

Mr. Weasley leaned against the table, his presence in the tiny cell suddenly expanding. Draco looked at the man, reminded once again how much power it turned out Mr. Weasley truly wielded. And how clever, how intelligent. He really wasn't the buffoon Draco had always thought. It irked him to realize that.

But then, the man was a pureblood. And right now, Mr. Weasley was Draco's only tether to his past--a past that was slipping away with frightening speed.

"I'm waiting," Draco said, folding his arms across his chest.

"Just as your magic was taken away from you, I can take your memories. You would wake up tomorrow in a Muggle world, having known no other."

Draco stared at him, somewhat confused. "Take away my memories? I would never have known I'm a…was a wizard?"

Mr. Weasley nodded. "Temporary, of course. A suitable history would be provided for you, and that is what you would remember. Once your sentence is up, you would be permitted to remember your past."

All his memories would be erased. All the despair, and darkness, and hurt. Gone. The fear, gone. Memories of Voldemort--his nightmares--gone.

All his precious moments with Harry. Gone.

"Just one thing you've forgotten," Draco spat out. "You keep saying I would be safe. How?"

"You will be befriended by an Auror, who will keep watch over you. A Squib will be your housekeeper, for you and the Auror as well. Both will watch over you. Once you are done with your requirement, you will be returned to your home, your memories returned to you again."

Draco frowned. "But--" Then it dawned on him. "Whose idea was this? This isn't part of my sentence, is it?"

Mr. Weasley hesitated, then shook his head. "No. I bring this to you as an option at the request of someone else."

"Who?"

Mr. Weasley hesitated, then shrugged. "In a way, Severus Snape."

"Snape?" he said, laughing. "He's a bit dead."

"Yes, but Harry remembered something he learned in Severus's final moments, and believes, however misguidedly, that he was meant to continue what Severus could not." He took a deep breath. "Making sure no harm ever came to you."

"That's ridiculous," he said, sneering to hide his surprise. "He did no such thing."

"Yes, he did Draco. He gave your mother an Unbreakable Vow, to protect you always."

Draco looked away, stared at the wall. Snape had protected him. More than once. And now Harry believed… Believed that he should carry the promise on?

"I don't need Potter's so-called help," he spit out. "You can tell him that, too." He only hoped Mr. Weasley didn't notice his true reaction. Harry's idea then. Draco's heart fluttered, but he quelled it, hard. He and Harry could never have anything, had already head all that they could.

Yet Harry did care, was still trying to help him, even though they'd probably never see each other again. A stab of painful longing coursed through him, so sharp it near stole his breath away.

Mr. Weasley smiled, spreading his hands. "I don't disagree. But I do agree with Harry, I'm surprised to realize. Enough so to offer you this, if you choose it."

Draco walked slowly over to the bars that served as his door. He jiggled them lightly as he had done thousands of times. "When my memories are restored, will I forget the new ones?"

"If you wish, though you might not want to forget them. In ten years, you can build a remarkable life."

He shook his head, pressing his face against the coolness of the bars and closing his eyes. He'd be free to live out a life that he was in no way prepared to live. Blissfully unaware of that which he truly was. He snorted softly to himself. Being magicless was something he'd gladly forget. This was surely madness, a crazy idea. But he would be safe, watched over, and oblivious.

Madness.

Draco stared down at the floor. Then, slowly, but feeling more sure of himself than he had since the day he'd turned himself in, he looked at Mr. Weasley. "Do it."


Home


The young man stepped off the bus. He paused, looking at his surroundings, smiling to himself as he breathed in the fresh winter mountain air. It had snowed hard overnight but now the skies had at last cleared, and a clean white blanket covered everything. The sun had emerged making everything glisten. The town's residents were out in force, cleaning off cars, children laughing and throwing snow at each other, dogs barking happily at their freedom from confinement.

He'd like to get a dog, he thought. That would be good. He hadn't had one before, he was fairly certain. Maybe not.

"Excuse me, young man. The rest of us would like off."

He startled, looking over his shoulder and up to the bus's first step. He grinned sheepishly. "Sorry, Mrs. Ferguson. Let me help you." He hoisted his own bag over his shoulder, and offered his hand up to the older woman. She'd been his companion for the last four hours as the bus wound its slow way from Seattle toward their destination, Twin Peaks.

She took his hand, her gnarled fingers clasping his tightly. Before disembarking, she plunked a red knit cap on her hand, flashing him a smile. It looked quite jaunty, especially with the garish plaid wool pants and oversized sweater. "How do I look?" she asked as she got off the bus. She patted her hair into place, and looked around at the empty station yard. Worry etched her face.

"Don't worry, he'll be here. He'll think you're beautiful, I promise you," he said, squeezing her hand.

She stared at him as if disbelieving him, then grinned and winked. "Well, at least like I'd be a bit of fun." She laughed, and he joined her, stopping only when an older gentleman with, to his amusement, a matching red knit cap approached with merry blue eyes twinkling.

"I think I see him," he whispered to her.

"Where? Oh where--" She turned, and saw the man approach, saw his eyes light up.

With a grin, and a pang of loneliness that had been his sole company until Mrs. Finch had sat next to him, he slipped away, watching the two lovebirds meet in person for the first time. He watched as all the others in the bus were greeted by friends or loved ones, or pulled keys from pockets and purses and headed toward the row of parked snow-covered cars.

Everyone had somebody, had someplace to go. Except himself. He had seven hundred dollars in his wallet, the clothes on his back, and his computer and the odds and ends from his life in London in his bag. There wasn't much, only from the short time in hospital there. He had nothing from his life before, but that didn't bother him. He had no memories of before his accident anyway. Once released from hospital, he'd had a world of destinations to choose from, and had chosen here, Twin Peaks, Washington, after watching one of the nurse's DVD collection and finding it in the guidebook he always carried.

He set down the street to find a hotel to stay in for the night, and looked at his surroundings--the mountains, the tall evergreens, the cold crisp air that filled his lungs, he knew he'd come to the right place. At least he hoped so. How he hoped so.

"Excuse me," a voice called out from behind him. He paused, looked over his shoulder to see someone running toward him. A man about his own age. "Sorry, I'm late," the newcomer said as he came to a stop before him, panting slightly. "Out of shape, this altitude. Not used to it yet." The stranger grinned, pushing his glasses up his nose. He wore a brown plaid coat and jeans with boots, his head bare. His brown hair was an unruly mess.

"Late? I'm sorry-- Who are you?" he said, curious. He shook his head, slowly. "I wasn't expecting to meet anyone. You have the wrong bloke."

A flash of what he could only describe as pain flashed in the young man's eyes. "No, no, I don't. You're exactly who I'm looking for. You're Drake Malford, right?" He held out his hand.

Drake paused, looking down at the extended hand, and back at the young man's face, the hopeful look in his eyes. Warmth passed through him, and relief as well. The hospital must've told someone to meet him. And they'd sent this fellow. This… Beautiful. He felt his face heat, heart skip a beat.

He took the stranger's hand. "Yes, I'm-- "

The two stared at each other, a strange flicker of recognition passing through him. Not of the other's face, but the touch… It disappeared again in a flash, as if it had never been. He pulled his hand away, embarrassed. "Sorry. I'm Drake, yes, and you're…" he faltered.

His new companion looked up at him, then smiled, lifting Drake's backpack onto his shoulder. Which, for some reason, Drake thought not at all an odd thing for the stranger to do. "Potter. Harry Potter. Come on. I've got a place for you to stay. Mrs. Finch has supper waiting. I promise you'll like it." He clapped Drake on the back, gesturing with his head toward town, then began to walk away. "You coming?"

He paused, then nodded, following after Harry. "Yes, I am."
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