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If You've Fallen in a Forest

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Hogwarts never felt like home to me. While I had my friends and my classes, even when I was at the top, I still felt like someone staring in. Towards the end at least, I didn’t care. But still. Hogwarts wasn’t home. To be honest I didn’t really know what home was at this point any more. During the war, with the Dark Lord staying in my home, the manor, was no longer home. I could still feel the Lord’s magic creeping in every room and hallway. It was suffocating and just made me regret everything a little more.


Not just the house though. It feels much more empty. My mother still walks its halls, but my father is still locked away. I have… Complicated feelings at the very least about my father. While I really did love and care for my father, I also despised him. I despised his choices. I despised how it was Father that landed the family where they are now. But. No matter…
I continue on my path and step onto the train. Hopefully, at the very least this year will be quick. I had been invited for an ‘8th year.’ It was meant to be a repeat of the 7th year. For those who didn’t complete it.


“Draco, darling. We found a compartment,” Pansy smiles. She was at the very least dependable. I won’t be alone at the very least.


I allow myself to be pulled into the compartment. Pansy was comfort. Blaise, who had also been pulled into the compartment, was also comfort. They helped through all of the most difficult times I had to face. I sit down, leaning onto Blaise, and Pansy sits across from us.


“Do you know of any others from our year coming?” I ask. I don’t really care for those outside our house.


“Theo went to France I know, and Greg already got a job. He said he couldn’t come back. Not after Vince…” Pansy looks out the window at the station. Students alike are wandering around outside, waving goodbye to their family, and getting onto the train.


“Can you really blame him though? I wouldn’t be here unless you and Draco were here,” I continue staring out the window. 

 

“Well no. I don’t really blame him at all. He’s at least kept in contact,”

 

They continue speaking, and the train starts, towards Hogwarts.

 

~~~~

 

Professor McGonagall had found her element at the very least. She was great at giving speeches, and she demanded all the attention she deserved. Thankfully, she wasn’t that fool Dumbledore.


“And lastly, to those who have returned to repeat their seventh year, I welcome you all back. We will speak more after the feast. Now, please tuck in, and once again welcome to Hogwarts,” She was eloquent as ever, and at least didn’t seem too different.

 

Though, I knew better. The war changed everyone. I’m sure that she could see the ghosts of all her students who perished, and all that were lost. I knew that I could at the very least. It makes me sick. I survived, when so many didn’t. I continue to pick at my food, avoiding the stares of everyone else. The Golden Boy and all his friends returned. A few others returned, but it was mostly Gryffindors.


“Draco, love, you need to eat a bit more than just picking at it,” Pansy smiles and runs her hands across my shoulders. She’s trying at the very least, to keep me comfortable. 

 

“I know, I’m just… not hungry…” I continue to poke out my food with a grimace. 

 

“She’s right you know. You’ll have to keep our strength up to survive this year at least,”

 

“Blaise! That isn’t helpful!” Blaise laughs slightly.

 

“If I was here to be helpful, I wouldn’t be here,” 

 

They continue arguing, at least some things never change. I finally look up from my food and lock eyes with Potter. His face scrunches up and he sharply turns away with a glare. At least some things never change.

 

Chapter Text

     Room assignments didn’t go over well. Most of the people who had returned, were friends and in the same house. Naturally, they wanted to be in the same room, but the new ‘house’ we all belonged to had shuffled all of the previous rooming arrangements.
     “God I can’t believe it. I’m stuck in a room with Granger and Abbot,” Pansy lounges on the chair next to me as the crowd around the list disperses.  
     “It could be worse. You could still be stuck in a room with Millicent,” Blaise, ever the optimist, is trying to find a positive in the situation.
     “Yeah I suppose. Abbot isn’t that bad. But Granger? She’s already driving me mental and I haven’t had a conversation with her.” 

     “Pansy, you're being overdramatic. Just ignore her and you’ll be fine. Right Draco?”
      I tune back into the conversation. The rooming arrangements I was used to had completely changed. I wouldn’t be spending my nights with Theo and Blaise. Instead I would be stuck with Potter and Thomas. A pair of Gryffindors who most likely didn’t care there would be a Death Eater in their room.
     “Blaise is right. We won’t be spending much time in our rooms probably so why worry about it?”
     “Both of you are so mean, at least let me complain,” Pansy sits up and I lay my head on her lap. She reaches down and runs her fingers through my hair, “Don’t worry darling. We won’t let you get eaten by the Golden Boy.”

~~~~~~

     I couldn’t sleep. It’s fairly normal, for me at least, especially after the year. Normally I would seek out Blaise and try to talk to him about it. But Blaise was unavailable. I had to deal with this myself. 

     I enter the common room and fight through my shaking hands to light a small fire in the fireplace, and wrap a blanket around my shoulders. Why is it always so damn cold?
     At least now I was alone with my thoughts. I wouldn’t have to catch myself and make sure none of my new roommates heard me. I didn’t think that coming back to Hogwarts would be so bad. Everytime I turned the corner, I can remember everything in the war that happened. I remember everything I’ve done.

~~~~~~~

     My father leans over my shoulder. I know what this means, if this is Harry… Everything would be forgiven. Mother would be safe and happy again. 

    “Well Draco?” My father leans closer staring right at Harry, “Is it? Is it him?”

    “I can’t. I can’t be sure,” Harry seems so scared. Both of my father, and Greyback, but more of me. I could end this all. The Dark Lord could end this war right here and right now. 

    “But look at him closely. Come closer!” My father pulls me close standing right by Harry. I kneel down staring right into his eyes. I knew those eyes. “Draco look very closely. There, maybe the scar stretched tight?”

     “I… I don’t know,” Please Harry, you have to get out of here.

    Aunt Bella enters. “Cissy, what’s all this then?” 

    “Potter! Potter and his friends,” My father interjects.

   “Are you certain? We need to be certain before summoning the Dark Lord. Take all the prisoners to the basement. Leave the Mudblood,”

    Weasley screams in the background. I couldn’t think anymore. They were caught. Harry was finally caught, and he was the only person that could end this hell. Aunt Bella wouldn’t let them escape, and my father wouldn’t let them either. 

    Granger’s screams fill the room. I can’t leave, and appear weak. I want nothing more than to vomit. She doesn’t deserve this. No one deserves this. I’m too weak to do anything, and mother would be so very disappointed if I did. 

~~~~~~

     “What are you doing down here then?” I am pulled out of my thoughts with Potter staring at me from the stairs.
     “What’s it matter to you, Potter?” I look towards him, and stare him down. This is the last person I want here.

     “Not much to be honest. Figured you were up to something if you left in the middle of the night,”

      “Oh right naturally, be suspicious of the Death Eater,” My voice is laced with venom. This comes easy. It's so much easier to be hated, especially by Potter.

      “Whatever twat. Why are you really down here then?”

      “I… I couldn’t sleep,” His eyes soften just a bit. He walks closer and sits next to the fire as well.
      “I get that. Nightmares?” I look away and stare deep into the fire.

      “I.. yeah… Piss off Potter. I don’t need to be saved by the Golden Boy,”

      “No, you really don’t. But no one else is going to help you so I might as well. You can talk about them if you want, I’ll listen,” 

      “I don't want to talk about it,” He shrugs and stares into the fire with me.

      “Whatever Malfoy. You stay here then. I’m going back to bed,” He stands and leaves up the stairs once more, but pauses, “You aren’t the only one who’s hurting. All of us are,” 

       Some people deserve to hurt Potter, and I definitely don’t. Not when I caused so much of it.

Chapter Text

Potions didn’t feel the same without Snape. While I didn’t always like his class, it was at the very least a constant reminder that I had some form of worth. I had a future. Slughorn had replaced Snape, and in all honesty I hated him. He felt incompetent. While Snape actually taught, most of what Slughorn gave was bookwork and theoretical potion making. And I didn’t have to partner up. Pansy and Blaise, already paired themselves up. I was late, naturally, and couldn’t catch one of them to be mine. I had to pick someone I didn’t know well enough. From those that had gathered, I didn’t have much of a choice, between Potter and whoever remained.
“Longbottom, have a partner?” He would be better than most here, and he was gullible. I could easily put my mask on for him and he wouldn’t suspect anything.
“Oh. Uh No I don’t have one Malfoy,”
“Good,” I set my things next to him pulling out a notebook and staring at the board for instructions. It’s awkward. I can feel people staring at me, but I don’t particularly care.
Longbottom is absolute rubbish at potions. I’ve known this since my very first class with him, and so did Snape. At least I can help undo all of his blundering. As much as I said it in previous years. Longbottom has some potential. Especially with herbology, something I’m not the best at. He could pursue that later in life if he really wanted.
“Malfoy? Should we add the powdered asphodel petals now?” He looks towards me. The potion of dreamless sleep is finicky at the best of times. I really didn’t want to have to deal with a failing grade. But, at least he got the timing right.
“Go ahead,” I turn back to my notebook, mostly filled with doodles now, and nothing productive.
Thankfully at least, despite the glares and apprehension, Longbottom wasn’t the worst partner I could have chosen. At least he was too scared to say anything. It was blissful silence. By the time class is over, I'm confident that at the very least, the potion is passable. Longbottom gathers his things, and I sling my bag over my shoulder.
“Thanks Malfoy,” He looks away before leaving his classroom with his friends.
How odd.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The rest of my classes for the day were easy, and I could at the very least fade into the background. Pansy and Blaise stood by me throughout it, and I was able to have a somewhat decent day. Come the free period, we had managed to find a relatively quiet spot to ourselves. We lay under a tree, working at the very least on homework, or attempting to.
“Draco dear, I am sorry about potions today. You were running late,”
I lay in her lap, Blaise lounging on my stomach. “It's alright Pansy,” She runs her finger through my hair, “Longbottom was at the very least tolerable.”
Pansy and I had a strange relationship. She and Blaise knew about my predicament, and my relationship with my father. She had at one point a silly crush on me, but now we had a decent relationship. One that was mutuality beneficial at the very least. I could go to her and get comfort. Same with Blaise. Though Blaise and I had gotten a little too close at one point. He and I were each other's first kiss. At least I was the first boy that he kissed. We had grown from this though, and at the very least we were still friends. Unlike Theo and I. We still had a tense relationship. One that still needed time to heal.
“Draco, Potter and his gang are approaching,” He and I immediately sit up. Being in Slytherin meant we had a certain appearance to keep. We had to seem detached and private, especially in pureblood families.
Potter walks past us with his friends. He and I lock eyes. Somehow I know that he’s thinking about what happened last night. I would need to be more careful now.