Possible Spoilers/Warnings: up to HP7
Summary: A friendship that grows out of darkness.
His dreams were black, all black - black as the capes of his cohorts, the shadows he slinks through - blacker than the bags of regret growing beneath his eyes. As black as the marks on his soul.
He could see nothing, but he felt slimy tendrils wrapping around him, caressing like an unwanted lover, tightening around his wrists and ankles. He couldn't pull himself free - couldn't struggle at all - and he was suffocating, his mute gasps for air swallowed by the darkness. He tried to flail but all he encountered was bedsheets, and as the world came into focus he collapsed back onto his sweat-soaked pillows.
"Ought to know better than to try to sleep," Draco murmured, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed and slipping through the crack in his bed hangings.
A quick scan of the dormitory told him he was late for breakfast, at least - not that he could eat anyway, the gnawing pain in his stomach so acute he'd be about worried heaving if he had anything in him to expel. Pushing the pain aside, Draco emerged out into a common room empty but for a couple of Pansy's hangers-on: sixth and seventh year girls who'd rather gossip than attend class. They pouted as he strode past without acknowledgment; though he knew his bedraggled appearance would be the focus of their mindless chatter for the remainder of the day, he couldn’t find the energy to care.
As Draco stepped out into the drafty corridor, he could hear a muffled voice over the sounds of a scuffle. He rounded the corner to find the Weasley girl in a headlock, Amycus Carrow leering at her in a way that made Draco's stomach turn.
"What's a little lion cub doing down in the den of snakes, hmm?" Amycus chortled to himself, yanking her hair back to peer into her face.
"Gerroffame!" she gasps, pulling back despite the pain.
"She'd be better able to answer if she could breathe." Draco leaned casually against the wall, buffing his nails in a show of carelessness.
Amicus narrowed his eyes at the younger man. "Get to class, Malfoy." His tone carried a threat that Draco didn't have faith in, but he resisted the urge to smirk.
"Free period. I'm just looking out for you, Carrow. The other side would be very upset to lose their precious princess, and your grip appears to be a little tight."
The princess at hand scowled, but Amycus did loosen his hold. "Potions is my next class," she spat out bitterly. "This is where I'm supposed to be."
"Close to the dormitory," Carrow pointed out, nodding past Draco.
"Close to the Potions room," she countered, nodding in the opposite direction.
"I'll escort her to Potions. If Slughorn doesn't know why she'd be down here, I'll take care of her myself." Menacing white sparks emerged from his wand, scattering through the air.
Weasley's eyes widened slightly. Was she more afraid of him than Carrow? Draco wondered. But no - this little Gryffindor shows no fear.
Carrow looked from one student to the other, his eyes narrowed as he tried to guess Malfoy's game. "I do have to teach," he finally capitulates. "Bring her to Slughorn. When he has no use of her, you take care of this one, eh?" That predatory look was back in his eyes, and he chuckled darkly, but finally retreated. Both students were tense until they could no longer hear the dull thud of Carrow's boots.
"Leave me alone, Malfoy. I'm really not doing anything this time," she sighed bitterly, collapsing back against the stone wall and crossing her arms over her chest.
He shrugged, not meeting her arms. "I don't care," he said simply, spinning on one heel in an attempt to make a smooth escape. She grabbed the back of his robes.
"What are you playing at?" Her tone was rough, confused. Why didn’t she have the sense to leave?
"Just get out of here," he said shortly, shrugging her off and sauntering down the hall as if he hadn't just helped one of his mortal enemies against one of his Lord's followers.
Her eyes burned a hole into his back as he retreated.
Brown were the mudstreaks on her chin proving she's been out of the castle past curfew again, been caught again, subject to Alecto's special brand of education again -
Draco was on rounds when he encountered them in another tutoring session, Weasley gritting her teeth to refrain from screaming out, refusing to give that boar of a woman the satisfaction.
Alecto wasn't cackling, which was a bad sign: they must've been at it for a while already. "Just gimme a scream, girlie, and you can go right up to bed. Crucio!" Weasley's body contorted, her elbow smacking the stone wall audibly. "A nice, long holler," Carrow continued. "Just roar for me, little lioness."
Weasley lifted her head, looked Carrow dead in her eyes, and hissed like a snake.
Alecto squealed, her piggish face reddening, and sparks flew from the end of her wand. "Crucio! Crucio! Crucio!"
“Graaaaaghhh!” Weasley finally broke, slamming into the wall with the force of the spell. Alecto stood over her panting, a look of vicious satisfaction lighting up her face.
“Now that wasn’t so bad, was it, ickle Gryffie?” the Professor asked rhetorically, giggling a little as she walked off.
The girl didn’t move at all, and it might have been something resembling compassion that pushed Draco forward. But as he leaned over her, she shifted, cradling one arm in the other. Looking up at him through her fringe, she only sighed. “Leave me alone, please, Malfoy.”
It’s the plea that got to him. “I’m going to help you,” he informed her, hefting her into his arms.
Weasley struggled. “I’m fine!” she insisted, but her voice was weak.
“How long were you two at that for?” he wondered aloud, ignoring her protests as he navigated into the nearest empty classroom.
She shrugged half-heartedly. “Since I followed you in from the grounds.” She won’t meet his eyes. He mentally evaluates – he’d come in, gone through the Great Hall and then all the way around the ground floor until he was back at the entrance.
“Why were you following me?”
“I want to know what you’re up to.”
“I was on rounds. I’m not up to anything.”
“That’s what you said last year, and you were trying to kill Dumbledore.” Draco scowled at her accusatory tone. Draco tapped her arm with his wand and she winced, trying to pull it free from his hand.
“Don’t be daft and move while it’s setting in place, Weasley.”
“Stop helping me. It’s weird.”
“Stop getting into trouble on my shifts.”
“It wasn’t your shift last time,” she pointed out.
He muttered incantations, jabbing her arm a little more forcefully than was necessary.
“Bloody hell, you beast! Are you sure you’re not trying to kill me?” But the relief showed on her face immediately. He was surprised by how gratifying it was, helping her.
“Just go straight back to your common room and start following the rules.”
She looked like she wanted to protest, but instead left with but a wary glance behind her.
Green was her favorite colour – not the bright emerald of Harry’s eyes, but the moist, lush, deep green in the shadows of the Forbidden Forest.
It was there that they quietly studied, ignoring the Quidditch players zooming overhead and the poor calls by the refs: Slytherin was slaughtering Gryffindor, but it wasn’t even a match worth watching. Voldemort’s minions ensured Slytherin won and the opposing team was as injured as possible by the end of the game.
Like before, Draco had stumbled upon her quite by accident; unlike the other times, he decided to stay. For once, she asked no questions, and both sat in relative peace, relishing the break from the gloominess of the castle halls, where Death Eaters lurked at every corner to teach creative new lessons.
“It’s got to end soon, right?” Draco was the one to break the silence.
She sighed, shaking her head, but after a moment said, “I have faith.”
“Potter’s going to come save us all, isn’t he?” For once, the prospect almost appealed to him.
“I don’t know.” The whisper is almost carried away by the wind. “Maybe we have to save ourselves.”
“I’ve never been much of a hero.”
Blue was all he saw in the aftermath of the battle – his mother’s sapphire eyes, peering into his own with concern, ignoring the heated looks of the families around them.
Narcissa grabbed her son and pulled him into an embrace he had doubted he’d ever feel again, and Draco couldn’t help but collapse against her, clutching her desperately. “I love you, Mother,” he whispers raggedly, a sentiment rarely vocalized in his family.
“And I you, my son,” Narcissa murmurs, rubbing his back soothingly. Over her shoulder, he could see Ginny in her own mother’s arms, Ginny’s face red and splotchy and her hair in complete disarray. Her dead brother lay just beyond the family, and his stomach turned. He knew this was one of her only fears, and as he stood in his mother’s embrace he prayed to an unknown god for her relief.
A crowd of plum-colored robes filed out of the private courtroom and finally Draco could breathe, the mustiness of the dungeon air permeating his nostrils. His mother, the traitor, he marveled as he waited for the chains to release her. She was stronger than he had ever known – stronger even than his father, who would be spending months in Azkaban for his war crimes. In the end it was Narcissa who had saved them, by helping that prat Potter – the same prat who sat in the front row now, who spoke for those who had hated him, publicly denounced him, tirelessly worked against him from the first moment he had poked his bespectacled head into Diagon Alley.
The thought was surprisingly lacking in rancor. Draco was tired – too tired to pick through the shades of grey, too tired to determine what was right and wrong. Too tired to do anything but take his mother by the hand and lead her past the reporters crowding the exit, down the hall and toward the fireplaces.
“Dra-Malfoy!” he heard a high voice yell, and saw a head of orange hair bob toward him through the crowd.
His mother raised a delicate eyebrow at him, and he hesitated. “She’s insane,” he confided to the older woman.
“She’d have to be, to love someone like you,” his mother replied with a small smile.
Draco shook his head. “She doesn’t love me. She hardly even knows me.”
“The strangest of situations can bond two people. Just wait.”
The Weasley girl made her way through the crowd, ignoring the judgmental looks of the people around them, and threw her arms around the blond man. His mother smirked over his shoulder at him.
“I didn’t know we were this close,” Draco said to Ginny. She rolled her eyes at him.
“All those late nights in dark hallways?” Ginny smiled, and Narcissa nodded knowingly behind her head. “You’re stuck with me, Draco.”
“Come, children,” said the tall blonde. “Malfoy Manor!” As Draco and Ginny grasped hands, they melted into the orange flames, spinning into oblivion.
Briefly describe what you'd like to receive in your fic:
The tone/mood of the fic: A slow ascend from an abyss of darkness.
An element/line of dialogue/object you would specifically like in your fic: A friendship that grows into something more through passage of time.
Preferred rating of the fic you want: Lower than M
Canon or AU? More canon, but AU is ok too if it's a good one.
Deal Breakers (anything you don't want?): Any Harry bashing, smut, a story that occurs entirely in Hogwarts years.
Art prompt: N/A