Something Past Survival Part I – The Battle Chapter 1: In the Room of Requirement – Draco
May 1, 1998, shortly before midnight
The Dark Lord was winning. There was no way Potter and his band of incompetents could recover from this massacre. Which meant, before the final victory, Draco had to find a way back into the Dark Lord's good graces, such as they were. Draco had failed too many times. He had failed to kill Dumbledore, had not identified Potter and the Mudblood when they were brought to Malfoy Manor—captured by someone other than the Malfoys—and then the Malfoys had failed to keep Potter imprisoned. Draco had not been putting his will and attention into the Dark Lord's assignments, and it showed, but he could not fail this time. The only thing he could think of that would mitigate the wrath the Malfoy family had earned was to deliver Potter to the Dark Lord personally. So he, Crabbe and Goyle hid in the corridors, disillusioned, looking for Potter.
None of it was as he expected. None of it was glorious, and the Dark Lord's whim decided who could lord over the others, instead of inherent superiority. It was not based on skill or bloodlines or breeding. Draco despised his aunt's lack of self-control, Pettigrew's cringing, and the Dark Lord's rants. His father had taught him better than that; he knew it was necessary to keep a cool head, to show that he had control of himself and could control others—that he was superior.
Draco had become good at presenting a calm, cool exterior, showing to the world that he was in control. Except with Potter. He hated that about Potter. How is it that the dratted "Boy Who Lived" always broke through Draco's mask, causing Draco to lash out with no more control than a hippogriff? He was pure-blood, in control, destined to be on the winning side.
All of them—all of the Dark Lord's chosen—had bowed before him, had kissed the hem of his robe, had done his bidding. He was going to create a world for them based on the values Draco believed in: that pure-bloods were better than others. That pure-blood wizards needed to keep themselves apart from the mudbloods and half-bloods, to hold to their history and heritage and traditions. Draco was proud of those traditions. He was proud to be a Malfoy.
He was starting to question whether the Dark Lord would value those traditions. He had been shocked this past year to discover that the Dark Lord was a half-blood. How could he value the pure-blood traditions if he was not one himself? But, for good or ill, the Dark Lord was winning. And the Malfoys had to find their way back to the winning side.
It was necessary to be the winner.
Suddenly, as if summoned by Draco's thoughts, there he was: Potter, with Weasel and the Mudblood. Right near the entrance to the Room of Hidden Things. They were intent on something, not noticing as Draco grabbed the door before it closed. He waited until they got inside a bit, and then peered inside. He knew this room. It was the room where he had fixed the vanishing cabinet that had allowed him to let in the Death Eaters at the end of last year, in the failed attempt to take over Hogwarts. As soon as the trio had passed the first shelving stuffed with forgotten keepsakes, Draco, Crabbe and Goyle followed them in.
Draco gestured for Crabbe and Goyle to remain silent, and, surprisingly, they did. They had both been acting rebellious, of late, as the Malfoy star waned. That would soon be righted. But for now, he wanted to know what Potter was up to. There was a reason Potter had returned to Hogwarts, after running away and hiding for weeks on end, and as much as Draco would have liked to think it was just to be in charge of the battle, garnering attention and glory, Draco was no longer sure that was who Harry Potter was.
"Accio diadem," Granger said. Draco looked to see if anything came flying toward her. Nothing did. He was not surprised; this room had its own ideas. Over the past months he had encountered the room's unique sensibilities, sometimes to his benefit, and occasionally preventing him from progressing on his project. That one had succeeded. Not that the Dark Lord had recognized him for it, not after he had failed with Dumbledore.
"Let's split up." Potter said. "Look for a stone bust of an old man wearing a wig and a tiara. It's standing on a cupboard and it's definitely somewhere around here."
What would Potter and his flunkies be doing searching for a bloody tiara, when the Dark Lord was about to invade Hogwarts?
He followed the sound of Potter's voice, always keeping one of the towering shelvings of detritus between them. When Potter got far enough away from his friends, Draco gestured Crabbe and Goyle forward. Potter was scanning the walls of items, muttering to himself. Draco followed him, quietly, stepping carefully around the junk on the floor, keeping just enough distance. Potter reached out toward something. Now that Draco knew what Potter was after, he stepped forward, Crabbe and Goyle stepped in front of him, protecting. At least they still had those habits ingrained. "Hold it, Potter."
Potter spun, wand out. Draco felt a surge of hate.
"That's my wand you're holding."
Draco pointed his wand, his mother's wand, at Potter.
"Not anymore!" Potter panted, grasping it still tighter. "Winners keepers, Malfoy." Draco raised an eyebrow at the schoolyard taunt. Potter always seemed to live as if he believed those childish maxims. No wonder the Dark Lord was winning.
"Who's lent you theirs?" Potter said.
"My mother," Draco admitted, and as expected, Potter laughed. Idiot. It took a skilled wizard to use another's wand successfully. He had worked with it for weeks, and had mastered the wand. Mostly. He had hated being so out of control of his magic.
"So, how come you three aren't with Voldemort?" Potter asked, saying the name in that way of his, as if the Dark Lord were something distasteful.
"We're gonna be rewarded," Crabbe said. Draco could have kicked him, but he dare not take his attention off of Potter. "We've decided to bring you to Him." Crabbe continued. Why did minions always feel it necessary to discuss their plans with the enemy?
"Good plan," Potter mocked, and Draco seethed.
"So, how did you get in here?" Potter asked. As if Potter knew better about this room than he did.
"I virtually lived in the Room of Hidden Things all last year. I know how to get in."
"We was hiding in the corridor outside," Goyle added, uselessly. "We can do Diss-lusion charms now." Way to go, Goyle, reveal your strengths, such as they are, to the enemy, Draco sneered to himself as Goyle continued. "And then, you turned up, right in front of us, and said you were looking for a die-dum. What's a die-dum?" Goyle's face had an appalling look of confusion on it. Draco shuddered. Idiot.
"Harry." The Weasel's voice came from across one of the towering rows of bric-a-brac. "Are you talking to someone?" What a bloody genius.
Crabbe spun, pointed his wand at the 50-foot mountain of random things between them and the Weasel, and shouted "Descendo." The top of the towering pile of books, robes, broomsticks, treasures from decades of students and not a few teachers, tottered, then started to tumble, thankfully away from them, into the aisle where the Weasel stood.
Potter shouted the Weasel's name, and Granger screamed from a distance. Potter raised his wand and shouted, "Finite!" The wall stabilized.
Crabbe lifted his wand to repeat the spell, but Draco grabbed his arm, and pushed it back down. "No!" Draco said. "If you wreck the room, you might bury this diadem thing."
"What's that matter?" asked Crabbe. "It's Potter the Dark Lord wants. Who cares about the die-dum?"
Draco spoke in his most patient voice, his "I am surrounded by idiots" voice. "Potter came in here to get it. So that must mean— "Draco prompted.
"Must mean? Who cares what you think?" Crabbe turned on Draco. "I don't take your orders no more, Draco. You and your dad are finished!" That was it. Draco ignored the feeling of loss, fighting to hide the hurt those words caused him. He kept his face cold, superior. That was why they had to deliver Potter to the Dark Lord. If even Crabbe, who had stood by him since they were children, was turning against him, distaining him, Draco needed to do something drastic to regain position. He needed to do this.
"Harry! What's going on?" Weasley's voice came across the tower. Unburied. Pity, that.
"Harry?" mimicked Crabbe. Harry lunged for the tiara on the bust of an old wizard. Crabbe brought up his wand. "Potter! Crucio!" The curse missed Potter, but hit the bust, and the bust, wig, and tiara all went flying. The tiara dropped out of sight.
"Stop!" Draco cried, hoping the tiara was not lost amidst the detritus, annoyed that Crabbe risked both Potter and the tiara. "The Dark Lord wants him alive!"
"So? I'm not killing him, am I?" Crabbe yelled. "But if I can, I will. The Dark Lord wants him dead, anyway. What's the diff?" Crabbe tugged his arm away from Draco's restraining hand. Draco would now have to fight Crabbe and Goyle to bring Potter to the Dark Lord. Draco would not let anyone get in the way of his goal.
A red stunning spell burst from behind Potter, and Draco pulled Crabbe out of the way. "It's that Mudblood! Avada Kedavra!" Crabbe aimed at Granger. Granger ducked, and the curse passed her harmlessly. Potter fired a stunning spell back at Crabbe, face contorted with fury. Crabbe ducked, knocking the wand out of Draco's hand. The wand rolled out of sight. Draco felt its absence as curse after curse flew between Potter, the Weasel and Granger, and Crabbe and Goyle.
"Don't kill him! Don't kill him!" Draco yelled at Crabbe and Goyle." Those idiots were ruining it; they were going to take this away from Draco. He scanned the floor for his wand. If he had it in hand, he would have stunned them all, Crabbe and Goyle included.
Crabbe and Goyle paused for a second, and Potter's "Expelliarmus" whipped Goyle's wand away into the debris around them. Goyle leapt toward where it went, tripping over some forgotten treasure. A second stunning spell came from Granger's wand, and Draco ducked out of the way, Weasel missed Crabbe with a body bind, and Crabbe retorted with an AK, missing the Weasel. Those two needed to learn to take the moment to aim, or they'd never succeed in duelling.
Draco ducked behind a wardrobe, feeling the loss of his wand more strongly than ever. Granger stormed toward them, stunning Goyle, who collapsed on top of a pile of books.
Potter ignored Draco and Crabbe, searching a pile of junk. "It's somewhere here! He glanced to Granger. "Look for it, while I go help Ron." But Granger screamed, and Weasley and Crabbe were running toward them full tilt. Fire bloomed behind them. What had that idiot done?
"Like it hot, scum?" Crabbe yelled at Potter, as if he did not realize the fire was behind him as well. The walls of junk were catching fire, even stone, even metal. Draco recognized the curse with horror. Who in their right mind would cast Fiendfyre in a room full of junk, while they were still inside?
Potter shouted "Aguamenti," as if that could stop Fiendfyre. The jet of water billowed into steam.
Draco grabbed Goyle, his stunned body heavy and awkward, but he shouldered him and ran. Crabbe passed them, not carrying anyone, and the two trios ran toward where Draco hoped he remembered the door to be, or at least away from the fire.
The fire blossomed into the fiends from which it got its name, serpents and chimeras, dragons and all sorts of beasts. They rose and fell, jaws of flame snapping at their heels. Potter and his friends had disappeared, but at this point, Draco didn't care, scanning the walls, trying to peer through the aisles between the walls of burning junk, trying to find the grey square on the wall that was the door out of here.
The fire encircled them, and Draco adjusted Goyle on his shoulder, climbed an uncertain pile of debris, up and away from the flames at their feet. The air scorched his lungs; the fire blistered the skin of his legs under his robes. He pulled them up and gathered Goyle into his lap. He searched for a path out of there, a path not already engulfed by flames searing the air. He gulped air, feeling his lungs burn with the heat. The fire was all around him. He would not be the winner here. The fire came closer, burning, and Draco screamed.
Draco Malfoy was going to die.
But above him, he saw movement, someone on a broom, skin blackened with soot, except for twin circles around his eyes. Potter. What was Potter doing? Was he so intent on that tiara that he would fly into this inferno? But Potter fastened his gaze on Draco, and turned his broom toward him. He flew close, hand outstretched, and Draco, unbelieving, raised a hand for his enemy to grasp. The slick sweat on his hand caused Potters grip to slide away, and Draco knew Potter could not lift both his and Goyle's weight. But Draco could not make himself let go of Goyle's stupefied form.
Another broomstick flew into view. It was Weasley and Granger, riding double on the broom. Somehow, Weasley's fiery hair did not succumb to the soot that covered the rest of them, it still shone out to rival the fire around them.
"If we die for them," Weasley shouted, "I'll kill you, Harry." But they two of them flew toward Draco and Goyle, and between them grabbed Goyle and hoisted them onto the broomstick, then lurched drunkenly toward the door.
Draco wiped his hands on his robe, ignoring the pain of blisters breaking open, and reached once again upward, scarcely daring to hope that Potter would come back. But he did, grasping Draco's arm and helping him climb behind him on the broom. Draco fastened his arms instinctively around Potters waist, holding tighter than he ever had to anything. Why had Potter come back? Draco would not have, had the roles been reversed. Draco needed Potter, needed the Dark Lord's reward, but Potter did not need Draco Malfoy. Why had Potter come back for the ones who would turn him over to his enemy to be killed? Draco shuddered, held tighter still to the black haired body in front of him.
He saw the door, a grey rectangle in the wall. "The door, get to the door," Draco pleaded. Potter aimed for it. But incredibly, Potter veered away.
"What are you doing, what are you doing? The door's that way!" Panic made Draco's voice pitch high in an undignified scream, but for once, he did not care. But Potter flew toward a piece of jewellery flung high into the air by the fire monsters, Potter reached out toward the cursed diadem for which he had come into the room, and with the seeker skills that had always outstripped Draco's by just that much, reached out and caught the diadem away from the open jaws of a fiery serpent, and then turned to aim back toward the now open door.
They flew out of the door, too fast to stop before crashing into the wall opposite the door in the corridor. The broom splintered, dropping both Draco and Potter onto the floor.
Draco tried to breathe in the fresh air, tried to ease the burning in his lungs, but his attempt was interrupted by a burst of coughing. The others were also coughing and panting. Everything hurt.
He grabbed something to help him sit up, only realizing afterward that it was Potter's hand. It felt warm. Draco dropped it suddenly, looking around. The Gryffindor Trio surrounded him, and Goyle lay to the side, unconscious.
"Crabbe?" It was all he could choke out, already knowing the answer "Crabbe?"
"He's dead." Weasley spat, as if it were a victory.
Draco subsided into silence, shaken. He had known Crabbe since he could remember, since they were children. Vince and Greg had always been there, brought by their parents to Malfoy Manor for social events and later, meetings with the Dark Lord. Draco shuddered. It was all falling apart.
He was too stunned to feel grief, too shaken to feel much of anything.
A loud bang shook the walls and floor of the corridor. The ghostly shapes of the headless hunt charged through, screaming. Draco started at the sound, the movement, and became dimly aware of the din of the battle surrounding them. Screams, yells, the buzz and whine and explosions of spells hitting and missing. It was happening, right now, it was happening.
Draco slumped. He had no wand, no way to redeem himself in anyone's eyes. He saw the same defeat in Goyle's face, but avoided his gaze. Goyle was also wandless. Neither of them could make a difference now. It was over.
He was vaguely aware of the Trio making plans, checking in with each other, babbling nonsense, but he could not bring himself to care. The thing Potter had gone back for, the diadem, dangling from Potter's wrist, smouldered into a dark flame and broke apart. Served him right, Draco thought out of habit. He tried to make himself focus on what they were saying. The Mudblood was prattling on about Fiendfyre, and Weasley took a pot-shot at Crabbe for casting it, but Draco could not gather the energy to respond.
The corridor suddenly became crowded, with Death Eaters and Weasleys casting curses and hexes at each other. Draco felt decidedly unsafe. With the Death Eaters near, it was not safe to be anywhere near Potter. A hole erupted in the side of the castle, proving Draco's point. He watched as giant spiders crawled in through the hole. Numbly crawling over to where Goyle lay, Draco grabbed him, lifted him over his shoulder with a grunt that his father would have disapproved of. Malfoys do not grunt. Half carrying, half dragging his friend, Malfoy left the hole, the spiders, the Trio, the Weasleys, the fight.
But he could not escape it. Death Eaters, students and teachers were on all sides, furniture galloped around, blocking his way like a herd of sheep. Goyle was too heavy. Draco could not carry him and escape, so he tucked his unconscious friend in an unused room, hoping that the battle would not intrude there. He needed to get out of there. He made his way to the entrance hall, dodging curses, ducking spells, climbing the stairs toward escape. Just when he believed he would make it, he found himself jerked backward by his robes, lifted into the air like a child. The man who had grabbed him wore the mask of a Death Eater and a sneer.
I'm Draco Malfoy!" He pleaded. I'm Draco! I'm on your side!"
"Draco Malfoy. How lovely."
Draco's eyes widened as he recognised the voice. The Death Eater was not from the Inner Circle, and Draco did not remember his name, but he did remember the man screaming and pleading as Lucius cast Cruciatus. He could not remember what the man had done to warrant the Dark Lord's displeasure… Draco knew too well how easily one might garner such treatment. A wrong word or glance. A failed mission.
The Death Eater firmed his grip on Draco's robes with one hand, and raised his wand to Draco's neck with the other. "You are no longer protected." The man's deep voice snarled. Draco turned cold.
Suddenly, the red light of a stunning spell came from nowhere, and the Death Eater collapsed. Draco fell on top of the Death Eater, turning to look this way and that, his face glowing with relief, looking for the one who had saved him. Just as suddenly, a fist impacted with his face, and the Weasel's voice grated, "That's the second time we've saved your life tonight, you two faced bastard!"
Draco collapsed onto the stunned Death Eater, his lip split and leaking blood, his head aching from smoke, from the noise, from all that was going on, from Weasley's fist. He crawled off the Death Eater, and scuttled away, out the main entrance door and down the stairs leading away from the castle, out into the grounds. He darted toward Hogsmeade, away from the battle.
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Disclaimer: Harry Potter, his friends, his enemies, and the lovely world they live in all belong to JK Rowling. The first chapter or two has some direct quotes from Chapters 31 through 36 of book seven peppered throughout, but we get Draco's reaction to the events we have already seen from Harry's. After the final battle, we'll be branching off.