The Darkness and the Light
Draco Malfoy found himself confused. One moment ago, he was picking on that insipid Pureblood Weaselby and now he had disappeared. Just like that. In the blink of an eye. He turned his back, walking away from the place Ron had sat, on a quest for something to do. It wasn’t any fun without Weaselby around. Then he heard it:
“Draco!” a familiar voice roared.
He spun around to see what he always thought to be the man that he was expected to become: Rich, powerful, condescending of anyone who didn’t share the same bloodlines as he did. His father.
“Father! Father, please, don’t be angry with me,” Draco pleaded. “Weasley was just here and he vanished. I-I let him g-get away,” he paused. He found that he was more confused than he realized. He wildly searched for an excuse that might pacify his father and found none. “I think I did. I don’t know what happened, exactly.” He was talking more to himself than to his father who had crossed his arms over his chest and was staring down at his son with a look of absolute hatred on his face. Finally, Draco turned to him. “I must have because he isn’t here anymore, Father. I’m so sorry. Please, forgive me. I’ll make it up to you, Father!” Draco’s voice had become a little louder with each plea. He was unable to control himself; fear wasn’t the word he used when he knew his father was upset with him.
“Shut up, boy! You and your insipid pleading!” He paused for a moment, reflecting on the pitiful mess that was his offspring and then continued on, mocking him. “’Father, please! Please, Father!’ Really! When are you going to grow up?”
Draco’s first instinct was to turn his back, but he knew that he didn’t dare. He was crying on the inside and couldn’t bear the thought of what would come to pass if he shed a tear on the outside. He felt the sadness lift away from him when his mother came into view over Lucius’ shoulder.
“Mother!” Draco took one last look at his father. He pitied him, actually, how could he be such a horrible person when his mother was so wonderful? She was always there for him and if he would always remember her for that. His brain wouldn’t allow his feet to stop as he ran past his father and to the parent who loved him. “Mother, I don’t understand it. One minute he was here and the next he was gone. I don’t know what happened…”
“Draco, it’s ok,” Narcissa soothed her son as she held him close and cradled the back of his head with her hand. She always put her hands in his hair when he was anxious, when he knew he had upset his father. It was something that he had kept from his childhood. A way that she touched him that made him feel at ease.
“Mother, I’ve upset him,” Draco whispered in her ear. His voice broke ever so slightly.
“Sssh, Draco, calm down,” she whispered. “It’s ok, I promise.”
“Mother, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to upset him…” His arms were suddenly wrapped tightly around Narcissa’s waist, as though he were literally holding on for dear life. “I don’t know what happened. Weasley was here, I swear. It was like I blinked and he was gone. I don’t know what happened to him and now Father is mad at me because of it. I didn’t mean to let him go…”
“Draco…” Narcissa said in between her son’s confessions. He sounded so panicked, she had to get through to him, but he didn’t seem to hear her because he kept talking.
“Mother, you know what he’s like when he’s mad. He’ll take it out on you, Mother!” Draco drew in a sharp breath and jerked away from Narcissa, holding her in a firm grip at arms length. “You have to get out of here and save yourself...,” his voice trailed off and he looked around at the darkness that surrounded them. “Except, I don’t know where ‘here’ is!” He exclaimed and this time the tears that he had been fighting spilled down his cheeks. “Mother, I’m so confused! I don’t know where I am and I’m so scared!” He pulled her to him in a fierce hug and sobbed uncontrollably into her shoulder.
“Draco, listen to me,” Narcissa said softly. “It’s okay. I won’t let anything happen to you. You know that, don’t you?”
Draco couldn’t speak so he just nodded, the tears still flowing freely.
“Good. Don’t be frightened, Draco. I’m here now. Mommy will take care of it all.”
“W-what about him?” Draco stammered, finally able to manage some words. He was slowly beginning to calm down as he wiped his face with the back of his sleeve.
“H-him. Didn’t you see…?” He pulled away from her to show her that he was talking about his father, but the odd thing was, he was no longer there.
“Ron, this isn’t funny! What if Malfoy dies? You’ll go to Azkaban for murder and then what?” Hermione was screaming at Ron as he walked from the fireplace and up the steps to the boy’s dormitory. “Don’t walk away from me!”
Ron didn’t say anything to her, he just kept his back turned and continued to walk on with her storming behind them, Harry bringing up the rear. Ron stopped suddenly outside the door to his dormitory, causing Hermione and Harry to collide into his back; Ron’s chest met the door with a loud thump!.
“Do you mind?” He said to Hermione irritably. “I have to use the bathroom!”
He opened the door and made straight for the bathroom while Harry and Hermione made themselves comfortable on Ron’s bed. Once he was finished, he stood in the doorway and dried his hands on a towel as he spoke: “I know that what I did was wrong, Hermione. But what do you want me to do? He deserved it.”
He looked at Harry, expecting him to look at Hermione and nod as though he agreed with him and when he didn’t, Ron stared blankly at him.
“Harry, he did,” he said flatly. “After what he did to Hermione, he deserved what he got.”
Harry looked at Hermione who was looking expectantly at him, waiting to see who he would side with. He could tell by the look in her eyes that she knew he was going to agree with her. He looked at Ron, sighed, and said: “Mate, I’m sorry. I don’t agree with you. Malfoy is awful, but he didn’t deserve what you did.”
“Not even after what he did to me,” Hermione muttered softly.
“So, what do you want me to do? I can’t change it!” Ron stated as he threw his towel across the room.
“Yes, you can, Ron.” Hermione told him as she got off the bed and crossed to him, taking his hands in hers. “You can go to St. Mungos and tell them what you’ve done. If they know, they’ll be able to save him.”
“No,” he said bitterly. “After what he did to you, he deserves to die.”
Hermione let out a great sigh and threw her hands in the air. She saw that there was no reasoning with him and decided to give up. If she stayed here and kept trying to reason with him, it would just end up with her saying things that she didn’t mean. She needed to get away.
“Ron, I love you, but sometimes you are so thick!”
She threw him an exasperated look and walked out the door, her long brown hair flying behind her. Just because Hermione had thrown in the towel, it didn’t mean that Harry had.
“Ron, if he dies, you’ll be a murderer,” Harry reminded him. “Is that what you want?”
“What I want is peace of mind, Harry. What I want is to know that he will never hurt Hermione again.” He walked over to the window and looked out over the school grounds.
“He won’t,” Harry said, although he wasn’t really sure how he knew this or how he could confirm it to Ron.
Late hours were upon St. Mungos and Narcissa had fallen asleep in the chair that she occupied by Draco’s bed. As usual, her sleep was a dreamless one and these days she was easily awakened whereas before she was normally a sound sleeper. She had somehow trained herself to sleep and listen for the footsteps of Healers and Mediwizards when they entered Draco’s room.
She was hearing faint footsteps now, she realized as she began to awaken, but they were none that she had come to recognize. Rather, they were ones that she had somehow forgotten. She felt a warm, heavy hand on her shoulder and gave a start. Not so much at the sudden appearance of a hand, but who it belonged to.
“Lucius?” Narcissa whispered, unable to believe her eyes.
He gave a small nod of hello to his wife and then quietly crept over to the opposite side of Draco’s bed. The boy that lie there was not his son. He couldn’t be. This boy looked nothing like him. No, Draco was built in the shoulders and chest from four years of Quiddich. The young man that was in that bed was looking nearly skeletal.
“Narcissa, please tell me that isn’t…” His eyes met with hers, begging her not to confirm what he didn’t want to believe. She nodded gravely and Lucius suddenly felt as though his knees were going to give out from under him. “It can’t be,” he said under his breath.
“It is, Lucius,” Narcissa said, her voice breaking. She was having a hard time keeping her voice steady with each passing day. “That’s our son,” she paused and waited for some kind, any kind of reaction from her husband. She had taken notice that he had become pale in just a matter of seconds. She knew that somewhere deep down he cared for his son, but he didn’t dare confirm it in front of her.
“I-I couldn’t see him from where I was looking into the room,” he stammered, offering an explanation of his reaction when he saw Draco. “All I saw was Healers, the occasional Mediwizard, and you.”
Lucius turned his head and attempted a covert longing look at Narcissa. At different times in the last two and a half weeks, he had watched her sit at Draco’s bedside and talk to him while holding his hand and placing motherly kisses on his cheeks and forehead. He had watched her while she read to him and even bathed him.
Much to his chagrin, she had seen the manner in which he was staring at her and looked back at him, her face full of questions. He knew that despite what differences they may have on Draco’s upbringing, Narcissa was for the most part a good mother. That had especially been proven by what he had observed during Draco’s hospital stay.
He wanted to thank her, to let her know that she was a stronger woman than he gave her credit for, and that she was to be admired for that; that was what he felt for her at this moment as a parent. A deep admiration. She needed to know these things, but there were no words in his vocabulary to tell her.
“Yes, Lucius?” Narcissa asked gently. It had been ages since Lucius looked at her that way. As she waited for a reply, she tried to remember the last time he looked at her like that and could not.
“Nothing,” he said quickly adverting his eyes and clearing his throat. This caused a moment of uncomfortable silence between them,
“Please tell me that you’re here to tell the Healers that you know what he was hit with,” Narcissa pleaded after a moment.
A storm began to brew inside her. With everything she was, she fought not to stand up and begin shouting at Lucius.
What the hell do you mean ‘no’, Lucius? Her mind raged. If you haven’t found those kids to ask them what magic they used, then WHY ARE YOU HERE? You don’t love your son as I do, Lucius! You have not been there for him as I have! WHY ARE YOU HERE? You’re wasting time! He’s dying , Lucius! You’re wasting time being here! WHY ARE YOU HERE?
She wanted nothing more than to pound her fists in his chest. To take her anger, frustration and fear out on him as he had done to her so many times in the past. If she were allowed a moment of revenge at any time in her life, then this should be it. To hit him as he had hit her. Hit their son that he was anything but a father and a friend to.
“What do you mean, ‘no’?” She struggled to keep her voice calm.
He had been looking out the window that overlooked the gardens that were on St. Mungos property that were now bathed in moonlight. His back had been turned and now he was facing her, amazed that she had the gall to speak to him with such a tone in her voice.
“What have you been doing since I last saw you, Lucius?” She demanded, not sure where she was finding the strength to speak to him as he often spoke to her. Her grasp on Draco’s hand tightened a little as though touching him was what was giving her strength.
“Thinking,” Lucius sat down in a chair that was opposite Draco’s bed, tossed his staff onto the extra bed that Narcissa had been using as a place to put her coat; and leaned forward with his elbows resting on his knees as he stared at Draco.
“Thinking will get you nowhere, Lucius,” she told him bitterly. “You need to be doing. You need to be out there looking for those kids! They could save his life!”
The question that had been repeated in her mind finally found its way upon her lips: “Then why are you here?”
“To see my son,” he said.
“Lucius, if you won’t go looking for those kids, then I will.” Narcissa said lowly. “You can’t waste time like this. There is no telling how much longer he has.”
What came from Lucius next was rather odd: “He has plenty of time, Narcissa. He doesn’t need me or you to see him through this. He’ll get himself out. He always does.”
Narcissa narrowed her eyes at him, not able to decipher exactly what it was that was going through the man’s head.
“What do you mean?” She asked.
“When he was twelve, I cursed him with an Unforgivable Curse,” Lucius said as he leaned back in his chair and titled his head back ever so slightly. He reminded Narcissa of a man who was about to recall a very fond memory. “He walked right into the duck pond on the grounds and nearly drowned.”
A small gasp escaped Narcissa’s lips. She remembered that she had been walking past Draco’s room one day and saw him changing into some dry clothes because the pile which he had thrown on the floor were sopping wet. She asked him what happened and he had brushed her off, saying that he was taking a nap and assumed that he had sleepwalked into his shower and turned it on.
Maternal instinct told her not to believe him and she didn’t understand why. However, when she had spoken to the house-elf that had cleaned his room later that day, she learned that the sopping mess had been covered in sludge and weeds that were growing in the bottom of the pond.
“Why would you do that to him?”
“He stood up to me and he had to be put in his place,” he told her simpily.
“Bit of a harsh punishment for a twelve year old boy, Lucius. How did he get out of that?” She couldn’t believe that she never though of how odd Draco’s wet clothes seemed until now.
“How should I know? I walked away.”
“Lucius, he could have died! What if he had?”
Lucius removed his dragon skin gloves from his hands as a sick smile spread across his face.
“The point is that he didn’t, Narcissa. How is that any different from where we are now? He didn’t need you or me to help him then and he doesn’t need you now.” He laced his fingers under his chin and leaned back a little more, getting comfortable. “He’ll get himself out,” he repeated. Whether he was trying to assure himself or her, Narcissa didn’t know.
She glared at him, unable to believe what he was saying. She knew that she was married to a cruel and abusive man, but she had to admit that a line had to be drawn somewhere. Draco was not deserving of any of this and while he was in no shape to defend himself, she would. She was his mother, after all.
“Lucius, what the hell is wrong with you?” She countered, her eyes wide. “Get out, find those kids and-“
You do whatever you feel you have to do, Lucius. Her own words echoed in her head as she realized that he felt he had to sit here and watch his son suffer. That had to be it; there was no other explanation for his quiet refusal to leave.
Hermione was on her way back from the library, she had been so aggravated with Ron that she needed to find solace in a good book before she went back to Gryffindor tower to settle in for the night.
Upon arriving at the picture of the Fat Lady and giving the password to enter into the common room, she noticed Ron sitting all alone at a table that sat along a far wall, pouring over his homework. Rather, pretending to. It was obvious when she realized that his eyes were not on the pages of the book in front of him, they were staring down at the floor.
“Ron?” Hermione asked softly as she approached him.
He looked up at her, his blue eyes clouded over with a mix of worry and fear. Hermione pulled up a nearby chair and sat beside him, pulled on the legs of his chair, turning him to face her.
“Talk to me,” she ordered.
“I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing, Hermione. I was just so mad…”
“I know. But, Ron, that doesn’t…”
He took her hands in his and looked her deep in the eyes as his glazed over. Hermione could feel his hands trembling around hers and she could only imagine what was causing that. Fear of what would happen if Draco died, anger at his own actions.
“All I could think of was you,” he murmured as he touched her cheek. “Everything that he did to you, what he must have put you through and what if must have been like when he first…”
The words that he didn’t want to say-‘raped you’-hung in the air. Hermione didn’t have to hear them; she knew what he was trying to say.
His hand still on her cheek, he fiercely drew her to him for a deep and lingering kiss. There was something about the way he was kissing her that made her want to break into tears. She broke away from him and studied his face for a moment.
“Ron,” she said gently. “Look at me. I’m here with you and I’m fine now.” She rolled up her sleeves to show him that the bruises that had once blackened her arm had long since been gone. “It’s over. It’s just you and me, but you need to go to St. Mungos and-“
“No,” Ron said firmly with a shake of his head. “He hurt you, Hermione. If he lives, he’ll be back and it will happen all over again. I can’t take that chance. I can’t loose you twice.”
“Ron, if he dies, you’ll go to Azkaban! I don’t want that for you! You can’t want that for yourself!”
He said nothing in reply but appeared to be thinking about her words. These were basically the same words that Harry had said to him before. Hermione waited a few moments more, wanting him to say something, but he didn’t.
“Love, it can’t be worth it,” she said finally.
Again, she waited for Ron to say something and when he remained quiet; she stood up and headed towards the steps leading to her dormitory. Before she began her ascension, she stopped.
“I love you, Ron,” she paused, “goodnight.” She was so scared of what he might be thinking at this particular moment and she didn’t really want to leave him alone. However, she knew that it might be best. Ron was more capable of thinking for himself and making his own decisions than he gave himself credit for and she trusted him to come to a conclusion and do the right thing...
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