It wasn't really dark, as there were no clouds to cower the half moon's eerie glow. He guessed there was a magnificent starlit sky above him. He didn't check. Silly, as his reasons were, he just couldn't get himself to look at them. The stars. They would frown down at him.
He shuddered. Not from the cold, mind. It wasn't cold. A bit cool, perhaps, but definitely not cold enough for Draco too feel any need to take on the jumper he'd picked up before exiting the Common Room. Instead, he'd folded it and was now sitting on it, knees to his chest, his head resting on them, his gaze traveling over the lake, not really seeing anything.
He couldn't sleep, so he had come out here, to the lake. To escape the enclosed dungeons. To taste a bit of freedom.
Only it didn't taste like freedom at all. All the space that was supposed to represent freedom, tasted empty instead.
He, himself, felt empty. Numb. Like nothing could touch him. Not lonely, exactly ... just alone.
He found it hard to concentrate on a single train of thought, so he just sat there, thinking of nothing and everything, and simply not giving a slightest damn.
Even the night was somewhat calmer than normally. There was no wind to swish through the leaves of the Forbidden Forest or to cripple the lake's glassy surface. The dark water was so black, it reminded him of Mother's black silk dresses. Not the everyday black dresses she wore, but the ones she had custom made for the balls. She had liked balls, Mother. And dancing. She would twirl around in gracious loops, her husband's pale hand a stark contrast to the black material, and the pitch black dress would whirl around their feet.
They had the same shine. The lake and the dress. And the forest behind the lake, that almost blended in with the lake, itself.
The Night Shine.
That's how he liked to call it. He felt that, in the night, it's not only the light of a candle or wand that defines the world, but also the night, the dark. The lake, before him now, wasn't illuminated by anything, yet you knew it was there, because the darkness was somehow thicker over it. It was so dark it shone as if it was alight.
He sighed, sharply, suddenly agitated over the calm that surrounded him. Just weeks ago, everything that seemed so innocently peaceful now, had been in a state of chaos. Didn't the water know this? Didn't the trees? How could they be so calm and normal now, when they had been ... Everything was just so ... skin deep. Fake ...
And then, there were the stars ... The silent witnesses to everything ... Fucking bastards, the lot of them ...!
During his internal rage, he had unknowingly dug up a pebble.
It lay in his hand.
It should be bloody red!
He threw it at the blank water surface. Half expected the stone to bounce off. It didn't, of course.
He watched the slow rings, the disturbance had made, spread. A silvery shred of moon light got caught in them, and as he watched them slowly approach, he let his thoughts withdraw again.
What was he doing here anyway? He wasn't moping around. Not really. I mean, he had lost a lot in the war (a piece of his sanity, at the very least), but he wasn't devastated by it.
Okay ... he was. A bit.
Malfoys don't mope around.
Hah. Why did he even care?
He told himself he didn't.
He hadn't sat long like that when his roaming thoughts were interrupted by the soft, but under the circumstances terribly annoying, sound of footsteps.
He cursed mentally.
For a moment he even considered leaving ... but then he decided he didn't care about that either. Whoever it was, was surely smart enough to stay away from him. Really, there was enough space. There was no need to be close.
Some distance behind him the footsteps stopped. Obviously their owner had spotted the company. And recognized it, if the abrupt inhalation was anything to go by. He could almost feel the person's hesitation tickling his skin.
Then, to his annoyance, he heard the person walking towards him, instead of away. Joy. He kept himself still as a statue, and didn't bother to as much as glance at the newcomer.
The person in question, seemed to have a problem with sensing the hostility Draco was sure should be just short of palpable (he felt it seeping through his very pores, radiating from his stiff posture), because they came even closer, until they stood right next to him.
Right. And the next thing'll be something in the style of: "Moping around Malfoy?" or "My, the mighty have fallen."
Well, if that was the case he wasn't even bo-...
What the - ?
The person had flopped down beside him. Clumsily, he might ad; as if they wanted to do it, before they changed their mind.
This time he couldn't help it. He shot a look at his unwanted companion, and had to force himself not to react, when he recognized the person sitting next to him, as no other but the one and only Harry fucking Potter; in the flesh. The boy wasn't looking at him, instead focusing on a spot out over the water. A bottle of Firewhiskey was held prisoner in a too tight hold, the paler knuckles the only indication of any unease the savior might, or might not, be feeling.
Draco took the liberty of studying him for a moment. He had the same old wild pitch black hair, and he knew, even though he couldn't quite make them out in the darkness, his eyes would be of the same stunning emerald color as always.
Emerald. Like the Avada curse.
He hadn't noted the resemblance until last week, when Harry had finally got a mediwitch to fix his vision. To help him with the cleaning. Funny, the glasses hadn't seemed to bother him, when he was fighting a certain Dark Lord, but come the day of clearing up the mess The Battle'd left behind, and Harry Potter sheds his glasses. (What? Wanted to see the gore more clearly?)
And then, the same day, he goes and tells Draco to call him by his name. So, Harry it was.
Not that that made them friends.
No. Definitely not.
But not exactly enemies, either.
The saviors face was blank, now ... expressionless.
It was weird how much The Battle had changed the raven. He would've said the war, but he knew for a fact, the other had been the same ol' Potter, before the whole Great Hall Massacre, as the final battle was nicknamed by the survivors. No, it wasn't the war, that had changed Harry, it was The Battle of Hogwarts.
Maybe it was seeing friends die, maybe it was committing murder, maybe the actual dying, but the fact remained, Harry Potter was a changed man. "A man, touched by Death", as The Prophet mockingly put it. Draco figured they had no idea how close to the truth they were.
Oh, the savior tried to hide it, plastering false expressions on his face, and saying "I'm fine" so many times, people were already starting to believe it. But most people didn't have Draco's practice of searching below the surface for hidden, barely there, threats or small sparks of dangerous frustration. Or rather, those who did, were either in Azkaban, on the run or dead, and definitely not interested in what was going on beneath the emotional surface of the Sodding-Boy-Who-Won't-Die.
It seemed not many were, these days. His two cronies were too ... let's say consumed, by each other to notice anything was awry, and the rest of the world had their own personal image of their hero and were not eager to compare it with the original.
In this past two weeks Draco had seen older, responsible, more experienced, wiser people turning to the teenager for council, he had seen self proclaimed 'followers' throwing themselves at his feet, some thanking him endlessly, some hugging him as if they were his best buddies, he had seen people who cried on his shoulder, he had seen others, blaming him for this or that, poking their fingers at his chest, their airborne spit flying all over him, while they screamed out their very lungs and an acidly burning sorrow. He had heard the accusing and not so quiet whispers of: "He could have done more...".
And it made even him sick.
He guessed the whole thing was still recent, just a few days old. Things would calm down after a while.
But then again, it was none of his business, and as he looked at the stone carved face of the young savior beside him, he felt as if nothing really touched him. As if he really didn't give a damn about what happened around him.
And he didn't even know if the 'he' in his thoughts referred to himself or Harry.
Shuggering mentally, Draco decided to ignore both the company and his stray thoughts.
After some time of slowly getting more comfortable silence, Harry gave a sigh and opened his bottle with a soft 'plop'. Then with an answering 'glunk' he took a sip out of it.
Then he offered it to Draco.
Startled, Draco didn't know how to react, at first. Harry still wasn't looking at him. He was just holding out the bottle.
Slowly he took it, subconsciously expecting a trap.
Cautious, he took a sip out of it, all the while peering at the savior, checking for any sudden changes in his demeanor.
Sure, but paranoid was good. Paranoid was safe. Even when dealing with saviors.
Nothing happened, though. And the warm liquid felt good, burning down his throat.
He gave back the bottle and then they just sat there.
Like old friends. Snort. Sharing a bottle of Firewhiskey. Snort.
Draco's thoughts were wandering again. They were trying to comprehend his hesitation over excepting the drink. I mean, sure, it could've been poisoned, and no Slytherin ever excepted a drink offered by an enemy, even if the enemy wasn't really an enemy anymore. But the question was, why did he care? Why did he care about being poisoned or not?
Maybe he was suicidal.
But then his thoughts painted out the picture of his Mother's last moments ...
Her silky hair, still white, still somewhat neat ... the green, green grass beneath her ... the stain on her black dressing robe getting darker and darker until red drops pooled underneath her ... and ... and ...
And he knew he would never do it. For her sake.
No. No, he wouldn't do that to her.
He pretended that was why he was still being careful to stay alive and yes, even paranoid.
Even though "The Icon Of Everything Honorable And Good" wasn't exactly his first choice at company, Draco couldn't help but take comfort from his presence. It was nice. Just sitting there with someone. Just sitting ...
"I still see it." Harry's voice had been soft, but the suddenness of it still made Draco stiffen. "I can't walk through a single corridor without seeing it. The bloodstains and ... everything. Every time I go down the steps to the Great Hall I remember them, no, I see them crumbled. I see each step jagged and ruined. Sometimes I feel sure I'm going to fall, because there is no way they could possibly hold my weight ... And ... And then there's the fucking Great Hall itself -"
His voice broke at the end. And Draco didn't have the heart to taunt him. Hell, he didn't have the strength to answer at all. Not when he himself knew exactly what the other was talking about. He too couldn't shake off the images of Hogwarts after The Battle.
So much death ... Bodies laying scattered along the walls, some gruesomely mutilated, other seeming almost alive and well, if not for the dead, far away look in their eyes, that told the Avada Kedavra's green tale.
So much blood ... Everywhere. On the walls, even on the ceiling. On the floor. In some places it had gathered into wet pools , that splashed sickeningly if you unknowingly walked into them.
So much fear. The very walls stank of it.
Too much of everything.
"And I don't even know why I'm telling you, of all people," Harry continued with a soft snort. "It's not as if you care." When he still got no answer, he chuckled grimly and then added in a mutter, so quiet, he probably didn't mean for Draco to hear it: "Seems madness has finally caught up with me."
Madness is a silly notion, Draco thought quietly. He had once read somewhere, it's like gravity; all it takes is a little push. But gravity was inevitable. The war had thought him that. Sure, if you had a wand or a broom, then you could somewhat reverse it, but if you didn't ... if you had, say, lost it in a fight ... then a fall from a cliff, or maybe a tower was just as deadly as an Avada. (Dead is dead.)
Silly, how he'd always thought Wizards were superior to the laws of nature.
Anyway, did gravity being inevitable make madness inevitable too? In the crazy world he currently lived in, madness really did seem inevitable. A constant threat, that bore no question of if, but rather when.
He wondered if he should respond to his (now) silent companion. Decided it was a bit late now.
But as the silence again descended upon them, the calm again threatened to take over, the emptiness to consume him, he felt the urging need to break it ... to ... to do something, to ... I dunno, throw a pebble, no a fucking mountain! into that calm, calm, calm, CALM! lake, and just ... break it!
"It's too calm ...!" he spluttered, through the pressure that seemed to coil around his chest like The Lord's gruesome snake! Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Harry give him a startled look that only gave him more vigor. "How can it be so fucking calm? It's not ... normal! It shouldn't be! ... What," a breathless, slightly insane chuckle, that sounded more like a sob, escaped him, but he ignored it, "now all the corpses are buried, all the blood cleaned up, everyone can go their merry fuckin' way? It doesn't work like that!"
His hand had gripped a fistload of sand and he felt the small particles press into his palm and he wished they would break skin, so he could focus on the real, physical pain. His body was shaking, and through it he still seemed to hear Father's cold, disappointed (always disappointed) voice chastising him: "Malfoys don't loose control!"...
And that's when he really lost it.
The sand sprayed over the water surface, and he would've screamed, only there seemed to be no voice inside his throat.
Everything caught up with him. Everything he had suppressed. Everything.
All the cold dead eyes he'd met.
All the cold, dead looks he'd caused.
All the burningly hot, hateful glares, that he couldn't deny he deserved.
His breath was coming in short gasps. Sobs.
He was crying.
But, no. He was furious! Why would he be crying?
He felt arms embrace him, and he fought to shake them off.
"Hey ... Shss ..."
Harry. Comforting him.
He tried again, tears streaming down his face, blurring his vision, broken sobs shaking his already shuddering body. He fought madly, but somehow Harry didn't seem to give in, whispering quiet nonsense into his ear all the while.
Finally he gave up.
All the fight poured out of his body.
He slumped against the body of his captor, and just let go.
And he cried, like he hadn't cried since ... ever.
He cried for all the horrors he had seen, for all the horrors he had done, for everything.
For his mother, who he never dared call mum, for a Father, who he couldn't really call his own, for Severus, his never quite there godfather, for Theodore, who wasn't really a friend but who didn't deserve to die, for Crabbe, for Goyle, who he both despised, but who he missed at his side, nonetheless, for the six year old muggle boy, he'd been forced to torture and who's cries and pleads still haunted his every thought, for all the ones he'd had to punish during the school year, for every one of the poor souls who had had their blood splattered over the walls of the school he'd never feel at home in again.
And he cried for himself. For being the coward he was. For not fighting against the bastards sooner. For bending to their will for so long. For being born at all!
And all the while Harry held him close and whispered comforting nonsense.
When he calmed down he didn't move away. Neither did Harry. They stayed like that, curled together on the bank of the still glassy, still calm, lake, hands tightly around each other.
Please, please review? I don't care if you write just one word (good, or bad, anything!). But please write something?