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peace of mind

Chapter Text

Draco didn’t cry. He didn’t cry when the swinging doors to the Med Bay closed. He didn’t cry when the two Healers approached him with a mix of dread, anxiety, and pity on their faces. He just stood there stiffly, against the wall, listening to their shoes squeak on the freshly-mopped linoleum floor. He watched as the two pairs of feet stopped in front of him.

“Hi, Mr. Malfoy, I’m Healer Beatrice. Please, let’s all sit down.”

“I’ll stand.”

The head Healer smoothed down the front of her green robes, fingers trembling just the slightest bit. “Will...will your father be joining us-?”

“No.”

The two Healers exchanged a glance.

“Mr Malfoy, I’m sorry to bring you this news. Usually Draughts of Peace are innocuous, but this case differed from the usual. We weren’t able to get the antidote to her in time, as overdoses on it are quite rare,” the head Healer began. “I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but she died--passed away--at approximately 2:22AM.”

“We’re sorry,” the junior healer repeated, a hint of pity in his dark eyes. “We tried our best.”

The only indication that Draco was listening at all was the way that his lips pinched together tighter and tighter, until it was a thin, white line.

“We’ll send a social worker to help you with preparing the documents and the upcoming process.” Healer Beatrice held out a small business card.

Wordlessly, Draco let it float up and slip into his breast pocket.

“Sorry,” the younger healer said again, head bowed as he followed his senior down the hallway and back into the swinging open doors. The head Healer murmured something and the sound was soon lost to the empty, ringing silence.

Draco felt bile rising, bitter and acrid in his throat. Suddenly, he turned around and leaned forward, dry-heaving as his arm pressed against the cold tile of the wall.

No one else came through the hallway until morning.

***

The social worker had little to say. She looked terribly agitated, one hand on her wand and the other on her purse. All she asked him was if he wanted to donate anything from Narcissa’s will, since everything had been left to him. Draco turned down the suggestion and asked Gringotts to freeze her private account. Gringotts obliged, but reluctantly. The Ministry had drained much of the Malfoy savings for reparations already, and the goblins knew that before long, they would be coming for the other savings too.

Then, when the time came, Draco attended the funeral and watched the ceremony. He did not greet anyone or give any moving speeches. There was no point. The one person that he would have liked to give a speech of this sort to wasn’t here.

And Lucius Malfoy was in Azkaban.

So Draco went home, to the big, hollow Manor. He sealed up the West Wing and went to bed and tried not to wake up but could never sleep. So though the days were getting longer and longer, Draco didn’t do much. The house-elves nagged at him to eat, but more often than not, the trays they left for him remained untouched. Most days, he sat on the cream carpet, back against the wall, a silver blade in his hands.

Sometimes, the blade showed him a glimpse of fine, blonde hair, or the delicate curve of a hand touching a basin, or a potion bubbling in a cauldron. When it showed him these brief moments, Draco would hold very still, a breath held between his lips until the ghostly image vanished and the blade became blank once more. Occasionally, the edge of the knife slipped, carving a dash of red against the pale white of his skin. But the knife never stained. It remained mesmerizing and cold no matter how long he held it, like clutching at a sliver of moonlight. Draco liked the feeling of it.

One morning, Draco heard voices spill in from the crack in his window. He idly watched the light from the blade glint against the ceiling, and thought about going to sleep.

From the gap in the curtains he saw that it was bright out, the sun beaming down upon the Manor. There wasn’t a cloud in sight. The fields were brilliantly green despite the dry summer and wildflowers filled the unweeded gardens. Blood-red roses poked out stubbornly between dandelions, like drops of blood against a sea of gold. At the ornate, wrought-iron gate, a small trio was gathered, heads close together in furious conversation.

Draco flicked a finger and the window slammed shut, the curtains swirling together and drenching the room in darkness. He leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes.

***

“There’s no point,” Pansy hissed, black eyes flicking rapidly between the two Slytherins who stood before her. “There’s no point. He won’t see you. He won’t even see me.”

“Then why are you here, Parkinson? Why did you tell us to come?” Blaise demanded, a scowl pulling at his lips.

“Well someone has to make sure he hasn’t done anything to himself,” Pansy snapped.

“He wouldn’t. Probably.” Blaise didn’t look too confident. “I mean, he’s court-ordered to return to Hogwarts this fall, isn’t he?”

“You think a court order will do anything to persuade a Malfoy?” Theo gaped at Blaise, who had resumed peering through the iron spirals in the gate.

“And Pansy thought some wards were going to stop me,” Blaise replied, already pulling his wand out from his back pocket.

Theo yanked him back from the gate. “Are you quite mad? Have you gone insane?”

“We very well can’t stand here forever.” Blaise shrugged. “It’s this or call St. Mungos.”

“I, for one, don’t want to be crippled permanently by one of Draco’s wards,” Theo said. “Let’s call St. Mungo’s.”

“Would the two of you stop and actually figure something out?” Pansy burst out. She scrubbed at her face with her palms. “He hasn’t answered my owls in weeks. I haven’t heard a word since the funeral. I’m not even sure if he attended his own hearing.”

Theo slung an arm around Pansy, wordlessly pulling her closer as Blaise’s face grew somber. The War hadn’t taken much of a toll on Blaise, as he’d fled to France with his mother before the worst of it. But he’d seen the aftermath. The endless hearings, trials, witness examinations, Veritaserum doses--to miss any of the orders was essentially an admission of guilt, especially if you were associated in any way with the wrong sort during the War. If Draco had missed a hearing, it wouldn’t be long before a warrant would be out for his arrest. If a warrant wasn’t out already.

“It’ll be alright, Pans. We’ll sort it out.”

Chapter Text

Draco Malfoy, as a matter of fact, did not miss a single hearing or court order. Nobody needed to sort him out. No persuading needed. 

Photographs on the front page of The Prophet showed Draco’s gaunt face, face ashen and lips bloodless as he swore the binding oaths before each hearing. With each passing month, the trials only increased in length and number, somehow forcing Draco’s testimony not only for each captured Death Eater, but also for any and all associates of Voldemort who had at one point or another, been sighted at Malfoy Manor. Though his wand was (in a shocking and horrific turn of events, The Prophet reported) returned to him after a series of successful Death Eater takedowns due to Malfoy’s testimonies, Draco Malfoy’s probation had such a long list of conditions that there was quite literally no purpose or chance in him attempting to leave England. He still allowed no visitors and spoke to no one, unless the Wizengamot summoned.

Occasionally, the Death Eaters that Draco testified against were not cooperative. They swore and spat and threatened from the bars of their cage, emboldened by their proximity to Draco, who seemed to be free and unchained at the stand. 

The nicer ones called him blood traitor, boot-licker, spineless, weak. The crueler ones preferred to speak at great length, in lurid detail, of the nightmarish crimes that they’d committed or forced Draco to commit.

“We once made him lap the blood from his mother’s hands,” Montague crowed gleefully, wiggling his fingers at the crowd as if telling a delightful fairy tale. The Wizengamot did not intervene often when these stories began, rather they muttered and gasped amongst themselves, letting the self-writing quill simply add another note to the growing number of crimes.

Draco, who had been bracing himself on the wooden railing ever since Montague was dragged into the courtroom, resisted the urge to vomit. As soon as recess was called, he hurled himself out of the stands, banging through the doors until he found a relatively empty hallway. 

He sank down to the floor and put his head in his hands. His fingers ached to wrap around his ornate little blade, but his pockets were empty and the folds of his robes only fabric.

When he finally looked up, he was no longer alone. A few feet away, a familiar woman in brown braids and pitch robes was staring at him unabashedly. 

Too exhausted to speak, Draco raised an eyebrow in irritation.

“Sorry,” Granger started, face turning scarlet. “I didn’t mean to stare.”

“Well, stop.”  Draco got to his feet and pointedly headed in the opposite direction, toward the dreaded court room though the recess wouldn’t end for another hour and a half.

“I talked to your mother a few weeks ago,” Granger blurted out from behind him. 

Draco felt the blood, not that he had much left running through his veins, drain from his head as he came to a stop. He took a shaky breath and ran a hand down his face.

“I’m not trying to intrude or be rude or--” A horrified note had woven its way into Granger’s voice. “It’s just, she wanted to say something and she asked me not to tell you but you look ill and I--”

“Why,” Draco spat as he spun around. “Why would my mother ever speak to you.”

Granger’s expression transformed into an ugly mix of pity and fury. 

“I thought you’d be different, you know,” she said viciously. “I thought you were finally choosing to do right.”

“Don’t make me ask again.” Draco said, an irrational haze of anger clouding his vision. His own mother had barely said anything to him--to anyone--too trapped in her fog of Dreamless Sleep and Elixirs of Placidity to be coherent during the last few months.

Granger bit her lip nervously, eyes darting past him as if to check if anyone was hiding nearby.

“She asked me to keep an eye on you. And she said to get rid of the knife.”

Taken aback at the mention of the blade, Draco gaped, momentarily forgetting his rage.

“What knife?” He asked reflexively.

Granger blinked at him.

“And more importantly, why should I believe you?” Draco sneered, unconsciously tugging at the sleeves of his robes.

“I don’t know, believe what you want. For some reason, that’s just what she said to me when I ran into her at Flourish and Blotts.”

“My mother, she did not leave the Manor during her last--the last few weeks.”

“I saw her.”

“Why in hell would she go to Flourish and Blotts?”

Granger crossed her arms and glared at him. “It felt like she was waiting for me, I don’t know.”

“Merlin’s sake, if you have no proof, leave me alone.” Draco stormed away, a pit of black, angry despair sinking in his stomach.

When the court finally adjourned at half-past three that afternoon, Draco all but scrambled out of the building, apparating as soon as both feet left the wards of the area. 

He spent the rest of the day pacing the carpet in his room. Every few minutes, he glanced at the blade that he was clutching tightly in his hands, hoping to catch a glimpse of something .

Frustrated when no flickering images appeared, Draco finally threw the blade aside. It landed with a metallic thud on the bed. Draco thought about going to Flourish and Blotts. He thought about going to find Granger and demanding her to tell him more. He thought about bringing the blade into the potions lab and pouring a few Draughts of Revelation over it. He thought and thought and climbed into his covers and flicked off the lights and clutched the knife in his hands again, drifting into a fitful sleep.

***

The next morning, Draco reluctantly went out to collect his post for the first time in days. Ulysses was sitting on the perch, looking regal and more than a little miffed at the lack of mice he’d been receiving for his fine work. Draco passed Ulysses a piece of bacon leftover from the breakfast that the house elves had made for him (a breakfast that Draco spent more than an hour picking at) and hurried back into the safety of his room.

Shuffling through the various letters, threats, and summons that he had received, an official looking envelope caught his eye. He peeled off the red wax seal and skimmed through the notice.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will not be receiving any students this year, on account of repairs and re-evaluations that will be ongoing throughout the year. Any students of the previous academic year who were not able to successfully complete their education will be welcome back next Fall. Please contact Headmistress McGonagall by owl or appointment with any questions or concerns. 

Draco let the parchment drift onto the floor, where it then burst into a small cloud of ashes. The room suddenly seemed to be expanding and shrinking at the same time. 

What am I going to do? Draco crushed his palms against his eyes. 

How could everything go so wrong and be so utterly miserable all the time? He didn’t even know what he wanted, but it felt that every bit of news that came his way wasn’t what he wanted to hear. Reaching into his pocket and rubbing his thumb along the dull side of the blade, he contemplated his options. The weight in his chest only seemed to get heavier and heavier with each passing day.

“Henley,” Draco called out, as a feeling of finality settled in his bones.

A house elf appeared before him, its long, drooping ears twitching as it glanced at the pile of ash that was still sitting on the floor.

“Yes, Master Malfoy?”

“Prepare the potions lab for me. I’ll need Ashwinder egg, Murtlap, and Belladonna.”

Henley said nothing, instead choosing to bow very low before vanishing without a crack.

As soon as the elf disappeared, Draco pulled out a plain sheet of parchment and sat down at the heavy, mahogany desk. The writing desk had been enchanted with curling dragons in his childhood, but over time, the beautifully carved creatures had become sluggish and dull, the vibrant paint flaking away bit by bit. Draco conjured a quill, stared blankly at the page for a moment, and began writing in neat, elegant script, just like the way his mother had taught him.