It had been a spur of the moment decision, really, watching the man weakly struggle against the blood loss and tortuous curses all at once. He knew the man would be dead in seconds if he didn't do a thing.
"He's alive!" Pettigrew screamed from besides him, eyes hard and touched with a hint of insanity. "He has to die too!"
"Then kill him yourself," he replied, shrugging his shoulders. "The Dark Lord will be done in a few minutes."
Pettigrew shook his head, near hysteria and tried to choke a shriek when the man's honey brown eyes opened faintly to stare at him in accusation.
"W..why…" he hissed, struggling to move a hand. "Why… Peter…"
"D-don't stare at me like that! You know nothing!" Pettigrew snapped then, taking his wand. He really thought, then, that the spineless coward was going to kill their enemy. "You don't know! You can't! Don't look at me with those eyes, Prongs! Stop!"
Of course their enemy, still struggling, refused to comply.
He rolled his eyes as Pettigrew's screams grew frantic.
"STOP! I SAY STOP!" he shrieked. "DON'T LOOK, DON'T REMEMBER THIS! OBLIVIATE!"
Wilkes screamed at Pettigrew, trying to stop him, only to be repelled by the other man. He was hysterical already, and continued to drown their enemy with one obliviate after another. Most likely in his mind he was doing the right thing, forcing him to forget what had happened between them, the hurt in those eyes, the betrayal. He was trying to erase it all.
Wilkes, Rosier and the others moved to stop him, to curse him, most likely and to end the job themselves. James Potter had to die.
None of them managed to move another step, however, as a powerful explosion rocked the house and the second floor collapsed on top of the first one.
It all became darkness.
When he finally woke up, he was under the remains of a sturdy bookcase that had miraculously landed on top of him. Wilkes' head was beside him, in his direct line of sight, the rest of his body laid a few feet away, severed from the neck down. He resisted the urge to vomit and tried to assess his surroundings in order to escape.
He could hear the distinctive crunching of Auror regulatory boots as they captured the others and recovered the corpses, some muttered about the betrayal and how Sirius Black had been apprehended already. He would be shipped to Azkaban in the morning.
He did his best to remain quiet, ignoring the excruciating pain in his right leg as it was crushed under the bookcase and the way his fingers, most probably broken, tried to reach for his wand without much success, he had to wait, he had to stay perfectly still and pray to the goddess herself they didn't find him. He would be charged and shipped with all the others otherwise.
As hours passed and silence finally reined over the small area he realized he would have a shot at apparition the moment the last of the Aurors on duty apparated as well. The noise would be muffled, all eyes would concentrate on Wilkes' head as it would become visible to them all. He had to concentrate and count under his breath, he had to make sure nothing happened or he would be doomed.
Suddenly a small groan cued him, a complain and a few farewells were exchanged.
He gripped his wand as tightly as he could, closed his eyes.
And apparated home.
Narcissa was waiting for him in the cellar, her eyes wide and frantic. As clear an evidence of her worry as the way her hair was pulled in all directions and now fell gently over her shoulders. She stood immediately as he apparated before her, her arms curling almost subconsciously around the precious bundle of silken blankets she had against her chest.
"Lucius!" she cried, falling to her knees by his side and checking him over with her blood-shot eyes. He raised a bloodied hand to her cheek, feeling infinite relief just staring at her face, then his fingers tugged at the blue silk blanket in her arms and his mouth turned into a faint smile.
Silver eyes were staring at him in curiosity, a small, so small, so tender, mouth opened in a soft coo of worry.
"I am home, Narcissa, Draconis," he whispered tiredly. "This nightmare is over at last."
Narcissa shook her head, summoning elves left and right to tend to Master Malfoy's needs and to bring a healer home.
"Master Malfoy and his guest need immediate care," she said, rocking her four month old baby back and forth, trying to make him sleep. Lucius blinked in confusion.
"Guest?" he asked, following her eyes to the huddled figure lying by his side, hand unconsciously clutching at his robes.
"Damned lucky man," he whispered before he lost consciousness once more.
When he opened his eyes he found himself in a room he did not recognize. His whole body ached and the world swam in blurry colors before him. Idly he tried to recall what had happened to him or how he had ended up in such a comfortable bed, in such a luxurious room, but came up blank.
In fact, his whole head was a blank, there was nothing in there to mark him as an individual. He knew he was a man, of course, as his fingers lazily traced his body. But as to the color of his own hair, the color of his eyes, where he had been born, there was nothing.
A small gasp alerted him to the fact that he was not alone. He turned his head slowly, the movement itself painful, only to stare at a small boy, blond, wide eyed, staring back at him in awe.
"You woke up!" he said with a smile. "Just like in the stories!"
"Stories?" he asked, confused. The boy nodded happily.
"You were sleeping for a long time! Since I can remember and now you are awake, like the princesses in the stories mother reads to me!" he told him, wrapping pale arms around his neck. He didn't know what to say.
"Kirry!" the boy called, and was jumping in place when a house elf appeared.
"Young Master called for Kirry?" the elf asked with a bow, the boy nodded.
"Tell father that he is awake, please," he said gently. The elf nodded before he disappeared, leaving them alone once more.
"What's your name?" he asked, not really knowing why he felt safe in the presence of the boy. The boy was young, maybe four years old? He didn't know. But his happy smile and eager face filled him with a sense of tenderness. He must know this boy.
"I'm Draco," the boy replied, climbing into his bed and staring in awe at him. He thought Draco is a curious name, the name of a star, and wasn't it sweet for the boy to be named after a star? He didn't really know why it amused him, yet it did.
A tall blond man entered his room and he felt instant trepidation. Something inside him told him this man was dangerous, this man could crush him with his bare hands and not even flinch as he did so. He knew this man.
"Father!" the boy squealed happily, waving a hand.
The blond man, Draco's father, smiled lightly, eyes moving from him to his young son and all the anger, the oppressing feeling of his magic, disappeared. He realized he was safe as long as young Draco was by his side. The man wouldn't do a thing while the boy was present.
"I see you finally awoke," the man said, taking a seat by his bed. "We were worried about you."
He felt confused, this man, this imposing man knew him? Was he worried about him? It didn't fit in the faint recognition that filled his head.
"Where am I?" he asked. "Who am I?"
The blond man stared at him in surprise before something calculating and cold settled into those disturbingly frigid eyes. A few seconds of silence passed as the man continued to stare and his mouth curled downwards with trepidation.
Finally, the man opened his mouth.
"We don't know your name, as a matter of fact," the man said. "You told us we had to give you a new name."
The man, who identified himself as Lord Lucius Malfoy, told him his life story. He was a man of action, a man used to violence and danger. He was hired by the Malfoy family as a protector, a guide, for their son.
"We are an important family, you see, a family that inspires deep resentment in those around us due to our good fortune," Lucius explained. "My son was kidnapped a year ago, the culprit wrote that it was revenge for something my own father did a long time ago. We hired you to look for our son and you did. Somehow Draconis was given back to us, and a few months later you appeared, deep in a coma, we've been taking care of you since."
No, something inside of him told him that story was not right, Lord Malfoy was hiding something important. He didn't feel like a man of action, or a mercenary for hire. There was someone he wanted to protect, someone with laughing eyes and a sweet embrace. That person was his word, and that person was gone. He knew it.
Young Draco tilted his head, eyes wide.
"Then you are the one that rescued me?" he asked in surprise before wrapping his arms carefully around his chest. "Thank you so much, I was so scared, you are a hero."
All thoughts of discomfort leave him as the boy hugged him. The boy was precious. He felt he might have been trying to protect this boy. This precious little boy that gave warm hugs and tilting laughs.
His head filled with the idea.
"And my name?" he asked, running a hand through the boy's soft hair. Lucius shrugged elegantly.
"You told us you wanted to leave your old life behind," Lucius said. "That we should give you a new name ourselves."
He nodded, it seemed logical that, since he was trying to leave all behind him, he could renounce his own name as well.
"What do you think, little one?" he asked tiredly, eyes slowly fixing on Draco's sweet face. "Want to give me a name? It seems I might spend the rest of my life with you."
Draco stared back happily, feeling honored that his new guardian chose him to give him something as important as a name. Maybe he'd like a code-name, like Papillion, the secret wizard-agent! He could name his butler something practical and self-defining, like Butler! He giggled and the thought of Butler, the butler, but dismissed it immediately. He'd be embarrassed as hell once the funny double name had run off. No, he needed a better code-name for his super hero.
Lucius stared amusedly as his son examined the man by his side. Draco was an intelligent boy and would come up with something fitting.
Part of him felt regret at his actions, of course. His prisoner had been a mistake, a fluke of luck. He thought he could use him as a bargaining chip if he ever was arrested after the end of the war. But as the other man remained unconscious and the ministry deemed him innocent, the need disappeared.
Then his Draconis had disappeared from the Manor's gardens. And all thoughts of their unwilling guest had disappeared from the Malfoy patriarch's mind. The months of search had been terrifying, the sole thought that something could be harming his only son almost drove him mad. Draco was just a little boy, untainted by his parents' mistakes, he didn't have a thing to do with the fact that his father had been a death eater, he didn't have to pay in his stead.
Draco had been found months later, standing in a crowded street in Buenos Aires, alone, hungry, holding a piece of parchment that simply said: "Now you know what it feels to lose a son". And no memory of where he'd been.
Lucius cried as he held his weakened son in his arms and swore no one in the world, be it wizardy or muggle, would ever lay a hand on his precious Draconis again. He would make sure of that.
The fact that his guest had lost his memory was then, a fortunate event. He could keep him around now, use his Auror expertise to take care of his beautiful son. And if the Dark Lord ever returned – and according to what Regulus had told him before he died, he most probably would – Lucius could present him with the man and ear his favor once more. If the side of light won, however, he could claim he had rescued the man from the wreckage, but as he had lost his memory, there was no way to identify him.
Any way his family would be protected from the wrath of the winning side.
Finally, Draco grinned and exclaimed: "Dietrich! Like the dragon tamer in all the legends!"
The man, now Dietrich, smiled lightly before bowing respectfully to his now young master.
"It is a pleasure meeting you, young master," he said with a smile. "I am Dietrich and I will protect you from now on."
"Hi, Dietrich," Draco laughed, snuggling into the man's chest. Lucius smiled, pleased.
"I am entrusting you with my greatest treasure, Dietrich. Please be careful with my son."
Dietrich nodded, eyes glinting amber with determination.
"I swear, Lord Malfoy," he whispered. "No harm will come to young master Draco while I'm here."
"Good," said Lucius. "I'll leave you two alone now. Narcissa will be pleased to hear you have recovered."
Draco beamed as his father left, already liking his new guardian. Many of his friends had guardians as well, but none of them had a human guardian! Most just spent their time with their family's ghost or their nanny elves.
Draco, however, had Dietrich, and that made him all the more special. Especially after the first few months, when his guardian managed to get out of bed and into his duties neatly. Dietrich was stern when he was naughty, but always understanding if Draco reached his limits in the boy's mad race for excellence. He often soothed Draco's insecurities when he got depressed and would wrap his strong arms around the boy's small frame whenever he got scared. Draco soon understood that Dietrich would be by his side at all times, and that it was best to seek him out when troubled than to upset his parents' busy schedule.
Dietrich himself was nothing before Young Master Draco came to his life. He was a blank canvas void of everything and awaiting shape and purpose. He knew nothing, he remembered nothing and it filled him with only the deepest despair, or so he would explain to the healers, years after the war.
Lord Malfoy gave him a purpose, of course, but it was the Young Master, his little owner, that shaped the void that was him with his sunny smiles, gentle hugs and lovingly childish kisses. He was the one that turned nothingness into a guardian and protector, a confident and friend. Sometimes Dietrich would wake up from horrifying nightmares of death and destruction only to find Young Master Draco curling up on his bed, eyes sleepy.
"You looked like you needed some company," he would mumble tiredly, wrapping tender arms around his heaving chest. "I'll stay with you tonight, so the monsters won't get to you."
A few days a year the Young Master's godfather came to the Manor and the boy would squeal in delight and run to glomp the silent man's leg, grinning happily when a skinny, sallow hand caressed his hair gently. Dietrich didn't like Professor Snape, however. A part of him, somewhere hidden in the still lingering void of his memories, hissed that he could not accept the man inside of his little world. Not once in his life should he accept to share his loved one's happiness with one Severus Snape. The Professor had the power and cruelty to take that beloved smile away from him, to twist the very fabric of reality until nothing remained but the void inside of him. He couldn't, wouldn't let the man take the little Master from him.
He was a loyal servant of the house of Malfoy, however, and Professor Snape was a friend of the Master and Mistress, therefore, he could only watch silently, hands clenched until they bled, as the Young Master was raised into the man's arms and cradled gently and carefully. It was the only thing he could do not to curse the man into oblivion, grab the Young Master and run with him to a place far, far away from them, a place where no one could separate them.
Lucius worried, from time to time, by Dietrich's attitude towards Severus. The narrowed eyed spouting nothing but hatred and jealousy, the way he clung to his little son obsessibly after the Potion Master left, disturbed the blond man, but the knowledge that Dietrich would never intentionally hurt Draco – as he had made sure of it himself – kept him from removing him from the household.
Danger still lingered around the house, even to that day, and Dietrich's presence proved a necessity as the man became a fiercely, rabid animal whenever scorn or envy were displayed towards his Young Master. The Malfoy family was always ill thought about and it was ok with Dietrich as long as no one dared to lay a finger on Young Master Draco, then he could ignore the others in the outside word.
If someone did dare, however, Dietrich would go berserk with violence and hatred and blood-lust and nothing would stand on his way until the offender was dead and a wide, though sometimes teary, smile grace Young Master's face.
It was maybe that the reason that made Dietrich feel so helpless the night Young Master Draco graced his bed late at night, curling under his arm and looking at him with a sad frown that made his guardian's chest tighten in heart-break.
"Father has decided I will go to school in Norway," he muttered, acceptance and despair deep in his young voice. "I won't be coming home until summer holidays."
Dietrich frowned as well behind the dark mask Master Malfoy had forced onto him from day one, unsure of the sudden onslaught of desperation that surged inside of him.
"Is Young Master happy?" he asked faintly, tightening his hold on the boy's slim frame. Draco shook his head.
"I don't want to go so far away," he whimpered. "I want to stay close home and to see you and Mother and Father on Christmas and be within owling distance. Plus we could meet on Hogsmade weekends."
Dietrich nodded, running calloused fingers through the silk that was Young Master's hair.
"Is there any way you can make Master change his mind?" he mumbled. Draco shook his head.
"I've tried everything, he just won't listen to me!"
Dietrich smiled gently, laying a fond kiss on top of the blond head.
"Perhaps if you changed your approach onto the matter, Young Master?" he suggested, smiling a little bit wider when the boy eyed him curiously. "In the eyes of your father, you are a foolish child who doesn't know any better. It is not your father, however, who you must convince."
Draco's silver eyes widened.
"You are a genius!" he laughed, kissing his guardian on the cheek before dashing towards his mother's rooms. Dietrich laid in bed wide awake that night, his eyes half open, his hand idly caressing the skin his Young Master had kissed so sweetly. Durmstrang or Hogwarts, how was he going to survive without those kisses for a whole year?
Young Master Draco went to Hogwarts only a month later with a tremulous embrace from his mother, who made his swear he would write every week, a proud pat on the head from his father who told him over and over again he would take the name of Malfoy to the next millennia and a shy wave from Dietrich, who promised to take care of himself and to protect mother and father in his absence. Dietrich only wished he was an animagus, if only to go to school with his Young Master.
The first few letters the Young Master sent were brief, full of happy notations and childish adventures. Dietrich devoured them over and over again.
Apparently Young Master's childhood friends, Mr. Crabbe and Mr. Goyle were with him and Miss Parkinson had, just as Mistress predicted, started her campaign to become the next Mrs. Malfoy by the end of their seventh year. Curiously enough, Young Master wrote, he had the suspicion that Mr. Nott, also a friend of the Young Master, had the same intention. Dietrich had clenched his hands so hard he had almost ripped Draco's letter to shreds.
There was only one bleak spot in Young Master's life now, and that was Harry Potter.
Harry Potter was a famous boy, yes, he had read about him. He had also felt a frown on his face when he saw the too-big clothes hanging off the boy's skinny frame and longing the moment the wide green eyes were captured on camera. Young Master Draco had told him he wished he could be friends with Harry Potter. That he wished he could get close to the mysterious boy and maybe get to know him. There was something about Harry Potter that Young Master Draco found fascinating, something about his hands, his nose, the shape of his ears.
However, Young Master Draco wrote, Harry Potter was fine without his friendship. He'd rather go to Gryffindor with Weasley as his friend. Mistress Malfoy and Master Malfoy shook their heads in disappointment, explaining to Dietrich that it was bound to happen, as Harry Potter would most likely despise Draco for his name only.
Dietrich seemed the only one to read the heart-break in Master Draco's brief mention.
He wrote back immediately.
'His lost, Young Master Draco,' he penned. 'I believe that as the years go by, he will realize his mistake and beg for forgiveness.'
Young Master Draco sent an even briefer note back.
'Thank you, Die. It means a lot to me.'
Dietrich grinned in satisfaction.
Months passed without notice, the days blended into one cold, void moment after another. Silence reigned over Malfoy Manor without Master Draco's laughter to echo in the hallways. The little garden that Young Master Draco had started away from his parent's prying eyes was Dietrich's only consolation. And as Master and Mistress had no use for him, he spent most of his time in there, hidden away with the herbs and flowers his Young Master carefully nurtured, wrapped in the scarf Young Master had left behind. Trying to ignore the painful numbness that was taking over his body.
Just a few more months, just a few more of those endlessly despairing hours.
Young Master would come back.
Christmas came and with it Young Master's cheerful smile. Dietrich had been waiting by the Manor's door anxiously. Unable to sit still as he waited for Master Malfoy's limousine to appear in the horizon. Mistress Malfoy smiled indulgently at him and patted his tense shoulder with her delicate hand. Young Master Draco inherited her hands, he noticed, but his hands were going to grow into things of beauty without the need of any cosmetic aid like hers.
He was sure.
The limousine finally stopped in front of them and Master Malfoy stepped out as dignified and regal as always. His eyes alit with warmth when he helped his young son out.
Young Master Draco was as beautiful as ever, his hair is still the same short blond and his eyes are still full of light and innocence. He gently wrapped his arms around his mother's shoulders and kissed her cheek before letting go, instantly turning to him.
"I'm home," he said happily. Dietrich couldn't help the smile of relief that curled his lips.
"Welcome home, Young Master Draco," he replied, opening his arms. In seconds, Young Master was wrapping his arms tightly around Dietrich's neck and he was enveloping the boy's back tightly, afraid to let go.
The void inside of him disappeared with Draco's happy laughter.
Everything was alright in his world once more.
The routine became something he loathed and loved all at once. Young Master Draco would be shipped off to school and the world would become bleak, dark and colorless. The void would eat at him with that green light and the maniacal laughter of his dreams. Then the Young Master would come back for holidays and everything gained sense once more.
Sometimes, with Master Malfoy's permission, of course, he would sneak into Hogsmade and would intercept Young Master Draco there, if only to receive gleeful laughs and those sweet, so very sweet kisses and hugs that warmed his insides with molten fire.
He saw Harry Potter there as well and he felt torn. He was sure the Potter boy was not that bad, he was sure one day he would stop making Young Master sad, yet he saw the longing looks Young Master sent the other boy's way or the hurt reflected in his Young Master's silver eyes and his heart would clench with hatred.
Damned Harry Potter.
It was the day he met Young Master Draco on Hogsmade during his fifth year that it happened. He hadn't seen the boy in so long, he had spent most of his time locked in the Manor – for his own safety, Master Malfoy had said – and it was driving him insane, that he had to owl a quick note to his Young Master and rush towards the nearest fireplace before the void, the voices and the laughter drowned him completely.
Young Master Draco was waiting for him in their usual, secluded corner. Young Mister Crabbe and Young Mister Goyle were guarding the streets, making sure no one interrupted them. Dietrich was grateful.
"Dietrich," Young Master Draco gasped, wrapping his arms around his waist and hiding his face on the man's shoulder. "Dietrich, I missed you so much!"
"Young Master," Dietrich sighed, taking in the warmth and security his young charge exuded.
"I'm so confused, Die," whimpered Young Master, his whole frame trembling. "I don't know what to think or do anymore."
"What happened, Young Master," he asked gently, running his nose through that soft blond hair. "Whatever it is, this Dietrich will protect you. You can count on me always."
Draco nodded meekly, his face still hidden on his guardian's black cloak.
"Potter," he began. "We had detention together, something terribly stupid… I can't even remember what it was about. We were taunting each other as usual, nothing out of the ordinary. Yet he snapped, he pushed me against the wall, I was sure he was going to pummel me."
"He didn't, did he?" Dietrich asked, feeling a sudden lurch of dread pull at his stomach.
Draco shook his head.
"He looked at me funny, as if he was seeing me for the first time, it felt so weird," he answered, avoiding Dietrich's heavy stare. "He kissed me."
It was the moment the world disappeared from under Dietrich's feet. He knew Young Master Draco held Harry Potter in great regard despite their history of animosity, but he had read the newspapers, he knew Harry Potter had an enormous string of potential lovers… none of them male.
Young Master Draco was safe from his odious attention then.
But the Potter boy had seen something then in his Young Master. Something Dietrich himself had missed during those endless months of separation.
His Young Master was growing up, quickly.
Gone was the tenderly sweet young boy with his rounded cheeks and wide grey eyes and in his stead stood a teenager with no baby-fat in his face not the awkwardness that plagued the young.
Young Master Draco was rapidly turning into a man.
The most beautiful, most enchanting man Dietrich had ever seen.
"Did he…" Dietrich paused. "Did Harry Potter say why he did that?" The thought of the word kiss made him boil with anger and the need to go back to Hogwarts if only to curse the boy into oblivion, to yell and hit and make sure Harry Potter would never, ever take his Young Master Draco away.
Because without Young Master, Dietrich was nothing.
Draco shook his head.
"Not exactly," said Draco. "He said I looked like a right pouf and he wanted to know whether I would kiss him back."
Dietrich narrowed his eyes behind his mask, his hands tense and trembling over Draco's shoulders.
"Do not listen to him, Young Master," he said in a hiss. "That boy is a fool, blinded by his pride. He cannot understand what a treasure he is throwing away."
Draco smiled lightly, his pale cheeks flushed a soft pink. Dietrich had never seen someone so beautiful as the boy he held right then.
"Your opinion is a little biased, Die," he said. "But thank you nonetheless, you make it sound all so simple."
"Everything is simple and clear when you are with me, Young Master."
They spent the rest of the outing in silence, snuggling each other and enjoying the other's company.
Dietrich would treasure that moment in memory forever.
It was a few weeks after the Young Master's birthday that Master Malfoy pulled him aside, eyes haunted and dead.
"You were not meant to be Draco's protector," Master Malfoy told him then, eyes straying to the window. Dietrich felt the air leave his lungs so rapidly. He couldn't really contemplate the fact that his own reason for living, the one thing that made him get up every morning was just a mistake, a lie?
"You were an accident, really, then a safety precaution," Lucius explained. "Looking back, however, I can only be grateful that the goddess has brought you to my son's life."
Dietrich's chest tightened with anxiousness. He was sure he had never seen Master Malfoy so upset, so honest and distressed.
"I am grateful, Master Malfoy," he said with a frown. "Being by Young Master's side, protecting his happiness, brings me infinite joy. I cannot imagine life being any other way."
Lucius let a small, honest smile, curl his lips. Suddenly he understood why people said that the man before him and his Young Master Draco were almost twin images of each other. With honest eyes and that little smile, Master Malfoy finally resembled his son.
"Dark times are coming and I need you to be there for Draco. Even if it means going against our orders, or his own expressed wishes," Dietrich's eyes widened behind his mask and the fear that had filled him just a second ago came back tenfold. The Master had given him his permission to disobey, permission to anger Young Master Draco if it mean protecting him.
Something terrible was coming, then.
"I shall train myself to respond to any eventuality, Master Malfoy," he said firmly, hands clenched behind his back. "To what extent should I prepare?"
Lucius's smile died in his severe lips.
The man told Dietrich then that all thoughts of Harry Potter and his son's petty school rivalry had to be put on hold for the time being. An enemy had risen among the shadows that was far more dangerous than the boy-who-live. The Dark Lord was back among the living and Draco had to be kept safe at all cost.
Dietrich swore he would take care of the Young Master with his life and that nothing would stand in his way. Lucius smiled bitterly at that.
Soon after, Lord Malfoy went to prison. Young Master became Lord Malfoy and Voldemort became a permanent resident in Malfoy Manor. Lady Malfoy cried on a nightly basis, fearing for her beloved son's future and Dietrich, as sworn, had to clench his hands and hide himself from view. Lady Malfoy had warned him of the punishment Draco would face should the Dark Lord or his minions see him.
He laid at night in Master Draco's bed, soothing his cruciatus-traumatized muscles with herbs from their little garden and ointments. He made sure no one actually damaged his precious charge beyond repair. Draco snuggled into his side, tired, aching and afraid, and would whisper how much he wished nothing like this had ever happened, if only to escape the destiny the Dark Lord had in store for them.
"Potter has to win this war," he said, over and over again. "No matter what, Potter has to win."
He felt jealous of the Potter boy once more.
Master Draco left for school looking scared and defeated, There was no possible way to come back alive, he knew. Yet, as he had told Dietrich, he would do it for his family.
Dietrich remained the rest of the year in his room, tortured to insanity with no knowledge of his Master's wellbeing. Sometimes he could swear he heard his Master Draco's sobs at night, alone, empty, so very scared.
Master Draco came back before the end of the school year, broken like a china-doll, held standing only because Professor Snape's arms around his waist. Dietrich quickly pulled his Young Master from the man's arms and into his own. His trembling limbs running over the pale skin of his Master to memorize every curve, every hollow, he needed to make sure Draco was alright.
Lady Malfoy cried by her son's bedside constantly, always making sure no one dared to come too close to him.
"Please stay with him, Dietrich," she begged. "But make sure no one sees you. Draco failed once, if the Dark Lord sees you by his side, he will kill my son. I cannot bear the thought. Please, Dietrich, if you love Draco you must make sure no one sees you. That no one knows you are by our side."
And Dietrich, damned Dietrich, loved Master Draco too much. He hid himself even better than before, clenched his hands and bit his lips so hard they bled, but never interfered when Young Master Draco was tortured.
Dietrich learned how to cry himself to sleep that year.
When Master Draco left for school once more, Dietrich felt torn. He was happy his young charge was away from the Dark Lord's petty anger, but he was not going to the safe have Hogwarts used to be. He was going to a school ruled by evil and fear, to a small pit of hell on earth. Dietrich felt small and helpless as he saw him go on the carriage that year.
"I will take care of him now," Professor Snape – No, Headmaster Snape said, passing him by.
Dietrich cried once more, feeling grateful.
"If he should ever need me," he began uncertainly. He had never spoken directly to Severus Snape. Headmaster Snape seemed to search for something in the little his mask revealed of his face, his mouth curling in an ugly semblance of defeat.
"I swear I will call you immediately," he promised, bowing a little. Dietrich fell to his knees in relief.
Lord and Lady Malfoy didn't trust Headmaster Snape anymore, they called him a traitor and an opportunist. But Dietrich knew deep down that he could trust the man. He had seen that Headmaster Snape saw himself in Draco, and would protect his happiness to the best of his ability.
Lord Malfoy set a separate, hidden room for him. He ordered a house-elf to tend to his needs only and to do so in the most discreet way possible. The Dietrich was ordered to remain in the room with his thoughts as company and the worry that replaced the void inside of his head, the panic that once this war is over Young Master Draco won't be there to smile at him.
He bit his nails until they were gone and his fingers numb. He ran his hands through his hair until bald patches could be seen on his head. His hair went a little silver around the edges and his eyes, he could tell, lost their sparkle.
He took his mask off every day to tend to his personal hygiene. Master Draco didn't like it when Dietrich had a beard, he said it prickled his face and Dietrich would never want to harm his charge's delicate skin.
He wanted to look his best when Master Draco came back for him.
Rumors ran rampant in the Manor halls, some said Harry Potter had died, some said Master Draco and his friends were gone. Dietrich put his hands in his ears and tried to block the lies, because they had to be lies. Master Draco couldn't die, Harry Potter couldn't die.
That night a Patronus entered his secret room – a doe, he saw, and it filled him with unnamed melancholy – The animal stared at him for a moment before opening its mouth.
"The battle is on," it said with Headmaster Snape's unmistakably nasal voice. "You must come at once."
He couldn't care less if someone saw him as he tore out of his room and into the fireplace. He knew exactly where to go, how to proceed. Master Draco must survive the war.
He fought like a madman, cursing left and right to any black-robbed figure he could make out. Death Eaters – Master Draco told him – were their enemies and had to die. He obeyed his Master's words without question.
A young woman with bright pink hair fell dead before him. Her face was slack and peaceful in death and Dietrich thought it might never have been so relaxed – he doesn't stop to question how he knew it, his priorities lie elsewhere -. Another Death Eater wanted to curse an older man with greying honey colored hair. He killed the enemy at once.
The man's honey eyes looked at him, locked with his own hazel eyes and seemed to grow wide in horror and disbelief. He couldn't care less. A powerful blast of green light alerted them both. Death Eaters started to convulse on the ground, clutching their left arms in agony. Aurors and Hogwarts students sighed in relief.
An inhuman screech deafened them all for a moment.
Then silence fell upon them.
"Is it over?" the scarred man he had just saved said in awe, hands trembling.
Dietrich pretended not to hear, eyes searching frantically for any head of platinum blond hair among the crowd, be it a soldier standing or a corpse, he just needed to know whether his world was still turning or had it stopped altogether?
There! Up in a hilltop, head downcast.
Master Draco was kneeling before a corpse, hands checking for vital signs.
He dashed towards him, intent on making sure no harm befell on his master.
"Master Draco!" he called, stopping as the boy – no, young man, his master Draco is a child no longer, - turned to him in obvious distress. One of his arms was severely burnt, his hair fell in sweaty clumps around his forehead, his eyes were bloodshot and tired.
Dietrich had never seen anyone as beautiful as his Master Draco.
"Die, give me a hand, please," he said, opening the corpse's shirt and checking for a pulse. Dietrich stared at the wild black hair, the bruised cheeks, the scar on the boy's forehead.
Master Draco was tending to Harry Potter.
His blood ran cold inside his veins.
"Shall I dispose of him for you, Master?" he asked, raising his wand. It would have been so simple to finally kill the brat, to free him from the scrutiny and the pain, to take him far away where Master Draco would not be tormented by him.
Master Draco's silver eyes locked with his.
"NO!" he cried, covering Potter's body with his own. "You can't!"
"Why?" he asked. "The war is over. The Dark Lord is dead, he is the most prominent enemy you have left."
Master Draco starts to cry.
"You can't, Die, it might kill me but you cannot hurt Potter," he whimpered, wrapping his arms firmly around the unconscious boy – Dietrich could see the way the boy's chest moved, he was alive then, - and hiding his face on Potter's shoulder.
"Why, Master Draco," he said, suddenly angry. Was Master Draco really going to choose Potter and leave him alone in the void? He can't bear the thought.
"Because…" Master Draco hesitated, his hands trembling.
"Do you love him that much, Master?" Dietrich hissed, a cold ball of despair curling inside of him.
"I…" Draco whispered.
"HARRY!" cried that man, the scarred, honey-eyed man from before, running towards them.
"Professor Lupin," greeted Master Draco weakly. "He is alive, but unconscious. He needs a healer."
The man, Lupin, nodded, staring at them.
"Die," sighed Master Draco. "You should go with them."
"What!" Dietrich roared. "Master Draco! I cannot go with them! What about you?"
Master Draco remained silent even when Aurors sized them both, dragging the young man away into prison, no doubt, while immobilizing him and removing his mask. He roared in rage, struggling with all his might and trying to escape the stunning spells fired his way, ignoring everything around him but the defeat in his beloved Young Master's eyes, ignoring even Professor Lupin's shocked gasp of 'James!' as he fell unconscious himself.
When he woke up again Lady Malfoy was sitting at his bedside, her eyes sad and her pose one of utter shame.
"How are you feeling?" she asked softly, her hands gently posed over her lap. Dietrich sat up with difficulty, only to realize he had been strapped into his bed.
"Mistress," he gasped weakly. "Master Draco! Is he ok?"
Lady Malfoy shook her head.
"He will enter trial in a week," she said, placing one of her small hands on his wrist. "The Healers are optimistic on your case. They believe your memories will be restored soon."
Dietrich shook his head, unable to believe her words. Who could possibly care about his memories now? He had lived a perfectly comfortable life without them. He didn't need to know what past he had left behind. His only concern laid with Young Master Draco, who was most probably so scared, so alone, locked for crimes that were not his own.
Lady Malfoy looked at him tenderly.
"They have not told you a thing, have they, Mr. Potter?" she asked. "I cannot express deeper regret for our actions than this, sir. Because we deprived you of a life you might have lived, and yet I selfishly thanked the goddess time and time again for your presence in our lives, in Draco's life."
"Master Malfoy said the same thing," he said slowly, eyeing her warily. "You should be with your son."
She smiled a bitter smile.
"He begged for me to stay by your side, to make sure you are ok," she told him, and Dietrich felt his heart constrict with tenderness. Even while facing such danger, while doubting for his own survival, Master Draco is only looking out for his loyal servant.
He felt unworthy of such adoration.
"I need to know he is going to be fine," he said. "You and I both know he never intended to enter the Dark Lord's service."
"You must know what lays before you now, Mr. Potter," she whispered softly, gently. And suddenly she started a tale so unbelievable and horrible that he cannot breath. She told him about his brilliant career as an Auror, about his beloved wife and the hope the whole wizardy world had for them. Of their loyal friends and the child they were expecting. She told him of the attack and how the Dark Lord had chased after them in anger and fear. How they had been found and supposedly murdered.
How Lucius Malfoy came home one night with him as a guest, how a traitor masking himself as a friend had robbed him of those memories, of the life he had deserved.
"You must understand, Lucius was afraid, had the Aurors known you were with us his involvement would have been out for them to pick up, and there you were, laying so still for years. We thought we needed to care for you, if only to protect ourselves, to protect Draconis," she said, shaking her head. "Our son was so precious to us."
The story felt so unreal to him, so terrible. He finally understood why Harry Potter's eyes made him uncomfortable, why the sole mention of his name made him ache. Harry Potter was his son, the son he had sworn to protect. The one who had his wife's eyes set on an exact copy of his own face.
"Did Master Draco know?" he asked, feeling tired.
She paused, her eyes lowering in shame and regret that was painful to watch. He had never seen Mistress Malfoy so defeated, so scared and spent.
"No," she said finally. "We never had the heart to tell him who you were, especially after his rivalry with Harry Potter started. We feared he might let our secret out because of his naivety."
Dietrich understood, a weight suddenly lifted from his chest.
His Master Draco was innocent.
Mistress Malfoy left then, promising to come back soon.
The honey-eyed man, his friend Remus, appeared often. Told him about their lives, their childhood memories. About Harry and what a wonderful son he had, such a sweet boy, so alike himself.
He felt nothing.
Harry Potter himself approached him with caution, feeling insecure and hurt and maybe a little betrayed.
Dietrich stared at him in between awe and disdain. He needed to let go of his old jealousy. Of the fact that this boy had sullied the lips he had wanted for himself since day one without maybe realizing it.
Harry was his son nonetheless, he didn't deserve his scorn for such petty reasons.
Healers came and went. Potions were trusted down his throat, spells fired at his head. Tests ran and failed. Hope rose and then disappeared.
Harry held his hand all the time and Die… James, tried to forget the phantom feeling of Master Draco's hands in his. Smaller than Harry's, softer, weaker. He needed to focus on the life he had lost and yet could get back. He needed to cling to that second chance he was given.
One day, Harry came into his room wearing a formal robe, his hands shaking.
James tried to sooth him the best he could, but Harry was different from Master Draco, and he found himself clueless.
"I need to ask you something," he said in a whisper, his eyes set on his father's. "Were you ever mistreated while living on Malfoy Manor?"
James didn't know how to answer, he didn't understand.
"Please," Harry begged.
James shook his head.
Harry finally sank into the chair by his bedside, his eyes full of melancholy. James saw the tired edge they held, the way his hands tried to twist the fabric of his robes into an unrecognizable shape, the way his mouth curled with nervousness.
He suddenly thought Lilly must have looked like that when stressed, and was surprised he could not feel any fondness at the idea.
"I spoke on Malfoy's behalf during his trial," Harry sighed, not daring to lift his eyes from his knees. "I want to believe I did it because they took care of you… because Malfoy is important to you."
James remained silent, his own eyes searching for something he couldn't name on his son's face, on his body.
He found nothing.
"They were never cruel to me," he said finally. "Lady Malfoy made sure I was content, Lord Malfoy researched my condition to the best of his ability. They entrusted their son, their precious son to my care."
"Draco adores you," he whispered. "He was looking for you among the crowd during the trial. I can tell he was."
James felt a swell of something warm on his chest, a small smile curling his lips.
"You can be honest with me, Harry," James said gently, wondering whether it would be improper for him to take hold of his son's hand. He wasn't sure the boy would appreciate the contact.
"I don't think you'd like to hear it," Harry replied. "It would hurt us both."
Harry let out a long, suffering sigh, his eyes finally locking with James'.
"I want to believe I did it all for you, that I'm sparing them prison because you would be upset," he said, hands trembling over his knees.
"But it's not the case," James completed for him, feeling a little sparkle of something he couldn't name when his son nodded his head miserably.
"He always made sure I knew he thought nothing special of me," he said. "That he didn't care I was the Boy-who-lived, and in a twisted sort of way, I loved it. He never cared for my fame of my name. Whatever he felt for me, it was because of myself."
"It must have been hard for you, growing up with such expectations."
"It was," Harry admitted. "I didn't even realize when he became something I looked out for. When I missed his sneers or his pranks, when I became upset if he didn't talk to me for a week."
"You loved the sense of normalcy he gave you," James smiled. His master Draco was such a wonder.
"I kissed him, you know?" Harry ventured. James nodded.
"He told me," he admitted. "He was upset."
"I could tell he was," Harry said. "I tried to feel good about it too, that I had managed to shock him so. Yet, I felt awful, I never wanted to see him so sad. I never meant to make him cry."
James suddenly understood something about the boy sitting before him, something no one else would be able to see. Harry Potter had only wanted to be his own person. Not James Potter's son, nor Lilly Potter's legacy. He had wanted to be Harry all his life and Voldemort had robbed him of that chance. And there was Master Draco who detested him for being Harry, who made it his life-duty to remind him he was nothing special.
Just like Harry had always wanted.
He could tell why his son had easily fallen for him, for the security Draco Malfoy provided. Could Harry see it too, he wondered.
"Today I realized something, though," Harry continued. "He was sitting there, looking for something, and then his eyes landed on me and the nervousness seemed to lift from his body, like an enormous weight had been lifted from his body… and then he saw my eyes and the sparkle died on him."
Harry's lips twisted into a broken smile.
"I realized he was not looking for me, he was looking for you, he wanted you to be there with him," he laughed humorlessly. "And I hated you for a moment. Because you took that part of him from me. I would never be just Harry to him again. It would be like when Sirius was drunk and he looked at me, or like when Remus wanted to say something special and all he could see was you and mum in me. I was no longer Harry, I became your son who happens to look like you."
James bit his lips, listening to his heart and putting a comforting hand on top of Harry's trembling one. Harry didn't pull away, but he didn't acknowledge the gesture either.
"I don't know if I'll ever see you as my father," he admitted. "When I was a kid, I used to dream you would come for me, that you would save me and everything would be all right, but now that it happened I… you seem like a stranger to me. It's not like it was with Sirius or how I thought it would be."
Those green eyes, Lilly's eyes fixed on his, full of remorse and despair.
"I don't know if I can love you like my father," he whispered. "And I don't know if I can forgive you for taking Draco from me."
"You don't have to be guilty," he answered, feeling emboldened by his son's bravery. It must have taken a lot from him to finally admit what the two of them had been trying to hide. "My life, the life I lived all those years ago, is an enormous void inside of my head. I'm getting my memories back, yes, but it will take years, and even then you were a baby when I lost you. Now you are a man. Maybe we will never be like your friend Ron and his father."
Harry looked as relieved as he looked heartbroken, James sighed.
"I'd be honored if you consider me into your life as you father, but I can't force you or myself to rush those feelings," he continued. "We can get to know each other, we can build something with time. I wish I could promise you more, but I can't."
"What about Draco?" he asked, feeling foolish and so small when his father's face became cold.
"I don't think I can say a thing about Master Draco that would make you happy," he stated, his own hands clenching over Harry's.
The boy sighed, his eyes going upwards.
"I asked the healers whether you and I could take a walk, go back to Godric's Hollow," he said. "Get dressed, huh?"
James stared at his son in confusion before he recognized the mischievous glint in his eyes. He saw that same glint on the mirror every day, and he finally felt a connection with him.
In seconds they were apparating outside of Saint Mungo's and into the Ministry of Magic.
Harry said nothing to the guard who opened the door for him, nor did he look at the other recluses who screamed at them when they passed the cells. Death Eaters, all of them.
James' heart was pounding in his chest as they neared the solitary cell in the end of the corridor, further away from the dangerous criminals and closer to the younger prisoners. Miss Parkinson was standing close to the bars in her cell, her eyes bloodshot. She saw James and gapped at him with her hands raised, James tried to pretend he didn't hear her babbling recognition.
They stopped by Young Master Nott's cell.
"The last one by the window," Harry said, running a tired hand over his hair. "I'll wait here."
"Thank you," he said, rushing towards the appointed cell. Idly, he heard young Master Nott whispering "you did the right thing" to Harry, and chose to ignore the pang on his chest.
Young Master Draco, his Draco, was sitting by his cell's window, his back straight and his pose regal. Just as he was taught by Lord Malfoy to sit. His hair was cut regulatory short and his thin frame seemed even smaller in his dirty prison robes. James felt himself sag in the relief he hadn't realized he needed. He clutched the bars in front of him in order to prevent himself from falling to his knees. The void, the emptiness, disappeared.
"Master Draco…" he whispered reverently, feeling so happy when his young master turned abruptly, his sweet eyes wide and shocked. Instantly he's out of his seat and clutching his hands desperately, staring frantically at him as if trying to make sure he is uninjured.
"Die," he whimpered, eyes tearing out. "Are you ok?"
"I am," he answered, his fingers running gently over his young Master's hands. "The Healers are taking care of me now… they are optimistic."
Master Draco smiles lightly, his whole body relaxing.
"Thank the goddess, I was worried about you," he said. "I'm glad you found your past, and your family. I think you can be happy from now on."
James nodded, tightening his hold on Master Draco's hands.
"You protected me all this time," he whispered.
"So did you…" replied Draco. "You've been such an important part of my life. You've always been there for me. You taught me things my parents wouldn't even think about. I think my life would have gone so wrong without you there… I guess I just wanted to return the favor."
"I was happy with you, Young Master," James frowned. "You gave meaning to my life. Without you the void would have consumed me. I…"
Draco flushed softly, his unnaturally pale cheeks turning that beautiful shade of crimson that James adored. He should be unnerved by the obsession he had over his young charge. The Healers had told him, yes, that he should see Young Master Draco as the son he had raised, as the replacement for Harry he had lived with.
He saw something different, however.
"Young Master," he whispered, stroking the young man's cheek with his hand. How he had missed his warmth, the silky feeling of his skin.
"I guess I have to stop calling you Dietrich, huh?" Draco mussed. "Not that I'll get to see you all that often. But you've gotten your name back, I guess I have to use it, Mr. Potter."
Master Draco had the power to fill him with distress or to release him from the void with words alone. This time, it was no different.
"I will always be your Dietrich," he said urgently, eyes locking with his young charge's.
"Dietrich…" he said.
James, Dietrich, his name didn't matter anymore. All that mattered was that he was finally whole, and that the person he had dedicated his life to was staring sadly at him, as if this was their goodbye. As if he believed he would leave him for good.
He would not.
Gently, he tilted Draco's face and reached out through the bars to kiss those tantalizing lips he had fantasized about for years. Draco's eyes were wide, his breathing cut short. Harry stared at them from afar, his whole pose one of defeat.
James couldn't care less.
Slowly, Young Master Draco's eyes started to close, his lips relaxed under James' and his small hands came to cup his own. James had dreamed about kissing his Draco, he had thought it would be under the boy's favorite tree in the Manor, right after he had graduated from Hogwarts and his job as guardian had been completed.
The reality, of course, varied quite a lot from his fantasy.
It was heaven nonetheless.
He mapped every inch of those lips with his tongue, committing their shape, their feel, their taste, to his memory. Holding as much as he could without being forceful or violent. Master Draco was his everything, he would not break him.
"I wished for you to do that for so long…" Draco whispered once they parted, his eyes were so clear now, so tearful, and his breathing came in gentle gasps, that James had no heart to let his face go.
"Young Master only had to ask," James said softly, truthfully. Draco shook his head.
"It wouldn't have been fair," he answered. "You had no memory, and Potter needed you, if only to let go of your ghost and start living for himself."
"You knew who I was," he said. "Lady Malfoy said you didn't."
"It didn't take me all that long to figure it out once I met Harry," Draco explained gently, his fingers playing with James' hair. "At first I thought I could just rub it in his face, tell him his beloved father didn't care about him. But I just couldn't."
"You kept my secret," James whispered.
"Until Voldemort was not a threat anymore," Draco admitted. "I couldn't bear the thought of losing you."
James had to laugh at that. His own sinful devotion, the way he had cried and screamed and raved. How he had tortured himself day and night thinking he had sullied his Young Master even in his mind, and yet, here he was, the object of his heart's desire, smiling at him, caressing his face and kissing his fingers.
What had he done to deserve so much happiness?
"Come with me," he said suddenly, anxiously. Afraid that if he let go of his beloved Young Master's hands, the boy would disappear in his dreams as he usually did.
"I can't," Draco said. "You saw what I did…"
"You were forced into that filth!" James roared. "I can't let you stay in here."
Draco shook his head once more, eyes falling downwards.
"Silly, Die," he said.
"I will get you out of here," James promised, his eyes flashing with determination. "I swear I will, even if I have to destroy the Ministry itself, even if I have to kill every opposition I will set you free, Young Master Draco."
A tear slid down Draco's cheek.
"I love you, my Dietrich," he said, covering his mouth with one hand. "I needed you to know that."
"And I love you, my Young Master," he replied, whipping the tear away. "Please wait for me, I will come back."
"I wish I could…"
"Don't!" James interrupted. "You've always believed in me, Young Master Draco, you know I always keep my promises. I will be back."
Draco looked at him, a sudden sparkle returning to his tired eyes.
"I will wait then," he said. "All the time it takes, I will wait for your return. But only if you promise me you won't endanger yourself."
"Master Draco!" James protested.
"Don't worry about it, Malfoy," Harry said, walking to them. "I'll make sure he doesn't do anything stupid."
Draco nodded then, a small smile on his face.
"Thank you, Potter," he whispered. "I'm sorry… for everything."
Harry hesitated, a hand on his father's arm.
"So am I… maybe… we can be friends?" Draco nodded.
"I'd like that."
James shook his head, cupping his Young Master's cheeks once more and giving him a last, deep kiss. It was petty and childish of him, he knew, but he had to make Harry understand that family or not, there were some things that he was not willing to give up for him.
Harry rolled his eyes.
"I'll be back," he whispered, smiling. Draco smiled back.
"I'll be waiting."
Without another word – he wasn't sure he could say another word without breaking down and just kidnapping his Draco, not a good idea if he wanted to prove to the whole wizardy world he was recuperating – he turned around and started running towards the Main Hall. He had mayhem to cause and a Minister to talk to.
Harry shook his head and dashed after him. Hermione would later compare the impulsive father and son and make them both scowl.
Draco sat down by his window once more, his smile still on his face. Hope was blossoming on his chest and fluttering like the wings of a butterfly in his ribcage. Maybe it had taken them all these years to find each other, through blood and tears and so many unsaid words.
But even locked down, awaiting his sentence, sleeping through the screams of his once peers, he felt complete at last.
"Thank you, Dietrich," he said to the empty air.