Chapter 4 : Through the Laughter and Tears
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Snape was jolted awake by a noise. He looked around his office, trying to locate the source of the rasping noise that woke him. He mentally slapped himself as he realized it was his own snoring. Stretching, he checked the time and realized he was late to check on the students again.
“Oh why bother,” he asked the quill and inkpot that was on his desk. He raised his feet onto the desk and drifted off once more.
Neville watched Draco and Ginny. Harry and Hermoine were chatting about something, but Neville wasn’t paying attention. He just noticed that Draco was leaning in a little too close to Ginny. He had stopped writing to her when his parents got worse because there wasn’t anything he wanted to talk about; but that didn’t mean he didn’t care for her anymore. He was just angry. Angry at the Death Eaters, angry at Voldemort. Angry at just about everything these days. But now he was angry at himself for ignoring Ginny for so long. Thoughts of Ginny and Draco walking down the hall together caused his face to flush.
“Are you alright Neville?” Hermoine brought him back to the detention room.
“Fine, just hot,” Neville loosened his collar. Harry turned and looked at Ginny and Draco. They seemed to be deep in conversation. He suddenly began to feel sorry for Malfoy. He had just been given a peek into his life, realizing that it was not what he expected it to be. Harry took off his robe, leaving it draped over the chair. Before he made his way over to the two in the corner, he took the last chocolate frog from his pocket. He slowly made his way over to Draco and Ginny, weaving around the chairs and tables between them. He held the chocolate frog out to Draco as he took a seat near him. Draco shook his head at the offer.
“No thanks. Never been fond of chocolate,” Draco suddenly remembered the beans he had in his robe. “Hold on.” Draco walked over to his robe and retrieved the beans from the inside pocket. Sitting back down, he took a few beans out and popped one into his mouth.
“Mmm, honey,” he commented. The sound of candy beans hitting the table echoed through the room as he poured some out to share.
“Draco, I had no idea your father was like that. I mean, I knew how he was to others, I’ve told you my thoughts on him already. I just didn’t know he was the same to you,” Harry started, not looking up at Draco’s face. Draco nodded, not looking at Harry either. He thoughtfully chewed on another bean. This one was green bean flavored.
“Are those Bernie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans?” Hermoine asked as she and Neville approached the group. Ginny glanced nervously at Neville as he sat down beside her. Draco poured out some more beans.
“Draco, sorry we’ve all been so mean,” Hermoine started.
“It’s alright,” Draco replied, glancing over to Neville. “Sorry about what Goyle said,” he apologized. Neville smirked.
“I’m sure he is too,” Neville and Draco shared a grin. The rest of the group chuckled as well. Everyone at Hogwarts knew that Neville was spending a Saturday in detention, and they all knew why as well. To some, Neville was a hero. To others, he was one more reason why they sided with Malfoy and his goons. Before the rest of the Gryffindor students left for Hogsmead that morning, they threw Neville a tiny “going away” party. They promised to honor him with their every step and bring him lots of goodies from Honeyduke’s.
“So Harry, we know why I’m here. We know why Miss Know It All is here,” Hermione rolled her eyes at Draco sarcastically. “And we all certainly know why Neville is here. The only people we don’t know about is you and Weaselette,” Draco’s head shifted from left to right, looking at the two how had not shared their story yet. Harry looked over at Ginny. Her silence told Harry it was his turn.
“I uh, I’m here for behavior unbecoming of a Hogwarts student.”
“What? You?” Draco couldn’t believe him.
“I’m here because this school has been honoring a murderer for several years. I wanted to do something about it. I was tired of it,” Hermoine thought Dumbledore had finally rubbed off on Harry as she couldn’t understand what Harry was saying.
“That’s interesting. Now why don’t you tell us why you’re here,” Neville asked, folding his arms. Harry ran a hand through his hair. There was no mistaking the serious look he had on his face. Hermoine recognized it from when he thought Sirius had betrayed his parents.
“You know that trophy case? They’ve got all these rewards and medals for students that have done special things for the school. In 1944, Tom Riddle was given a medal for special services to Hogwarts. I’m sure you all know who Tom Riddle turned out to be. Well, I was walking past it one day when I noticed it in the trophy case. I couldn’t believe that they still had it in there,” Harry paused as his features clouded over. “All I could think about was my parents,” His voice cracked and his eyes flicked up to Neville,” Neville’s parents; everyone that had been touched by him.” Harry sniffed as tears welled up in his eyes. “Then I started thinking about me. How I was supposed to be the one to kill him. Either kill or be killed. I thought, I’m so young! How can all that has been happening be because of me? Who am I?” he asked the others. He looked up at them, tears falling from his eyes now. He searched their faces for an answer. A tear fell from Neville’s eye as their gazes met.
“Sometimes I wish that I wasn’t Harry Potter. I wish that someone else had the task of destroying him. I wish that he had never been born, or that I had never been born,” he took a deep breath, collecting himself. “Sometimes I wish that he had accomplished what he set out to do that night he killed my parents,” he added softly.
“Harry, you don’t mean that,” Hermoine grasped his hand, shocked that her friend would consider even for a moment that life would be better if he was not in it. Harry took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes.
“So what did you do?” Ginny asked. Harry looked back at her.
“I smashed that case. When I got my hands on the medal I started trying to destroy it too. By then, a crowd of first years had formed, watching me. I took out my wand and eventually was able to destroy it. It took a while for me to find the right spell to use. Then I noticed McGonagall had been behind me. As she pulled me away to the Headmaster’s office, I was yelling something at the first years. I can’t remember what I said exactly. Something about going home and staying safe,” Harry returned his glasses to his nose.
“That was you?” Draco asked. Harry nodded.
“Yeah, you heard about it?”
“No, but I saw Filch cleaning up the glass.” Nobody else spoke as Harry dried his eyes. Neville sniffed as he wiped away another tear.
“It’s like with my parents. Sometimes when I come back from visiting them, I wish that the Death Eaters had just killed them. Sometimes I think death would be better than what they are going through right now. I miss them,” he said quietly. Tears ran down Ginny’s cheeks freely. Draco kept his head down, not letting the others see the tears that flowed from his eyes as well. Although his tears were not tears of sadness. They were tears of guilt. Guilt from not being able to stand up to his father when he would hear about all the things his father had done as a Death Eater. Hermoine glanced at Draco apprehensively.
“Draco,” she waited until he looked up at her, “Do you think you’ll end up like your father?” Everyone knew what she was referring to. It was an unstated fact that Lucius Malfoy followed Voldemort. It was because of people like him that Neville’s parents were now locked in rooms at St. Mungos, separated from each other for their own safety. Draco thought for a moment.
“I don’t know,” he finally stated.
“What do you mean you don’t know?” Ginny asked. Four sets of eyes looked at her once again in surprise. “You’ve heard from Harry what Voldemort has done to his life. You’ve also heard a few times today what he did to Neville’s parents,” Ginny glanced at Neville. He looked towards the window, tears staining his cheeks. “Then there’s Cedric. How can you sit there and say you don’t know if you’ll turn out like your father?”
“I think it’s just inevitable. I mean, we all are gonna be like our parents sooner or later right? Doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. Sure we try to learn from their mistakes, but at one point I think we will just fall back on what we know. What we’ve seen and learned from them,” Draco rambled in a moment of self clarity. He thought the words coming from his mouth had to be the most original thought he had ever had. A thought untainted by his father. Neville’s face burned from anger. He couldn’t stand Draco’s honesty. How he seemed so passive and uncaring.
“You are a prick!” Neville spat the words out. Draco was surprised by his outburst, but he hid it well.
“Why? Because I’m telling the truth? Would you prefer it if I sugar coated it? If i told you everything was going to be all rosy? That good would always win over evil and at the end of the day everyone will go home to their loving, complete families?”
“No, I understand there has to be some evil for there to be good, what I can’t understand is your acceptance of it. If you do end up like your father, wouldn’t you feel the slightest bit of remorse? You would have to know that what you’re doing is bad and that it isn’t right. How could you live with yourself?” Draco’s face grimaced as he held back his tears in vain. They spilled out over his cheeks as he knew what Neville was saying. He couldn’t live with a life like his fathers. He couldn’t live with himself if he became like his father. But he knew how hard it would be to not. It was near impossible. Not with a father as powerful as his. He shook his head at Neville, his chin trembling.
“You all think it’s so easy to just do the right thing. You don’t know what it’s like; the kind of pressure that he puts on me,” Draco shifted in his seat, sniffing loudly. “The ideas and,” he hesitantly glanced at Hermoine,”. . . and the names that he puts in my head. I can remember being told from a very young age about how purebloods are better than muggleborns and how all the mudbloods are just dirtying everything up, and that’s just the way it is,” he looked at Hermoine, his eyes filled with regret and apology. Her own eyes were red from crying. “I know it’s wrong,” he added softly.
“Then why do you do what you do?” Hermoine asked him, anger rising in her voice.
“I don’t know,” he wiped his eyes, “I don’t know. My whole life, all my so called friends are based on this false identity that my father has brainwashed me into having. If I abandon that now, I have nothing,” Draco took a deep breath as he was about to reveal something he had never revealed to anyone. “I’m afraid,” the words slipped softly from his mouth. Draco lowered his head, still attempting to hide his emotional display. Harry noticed his shoulders shaking slightly. Slowly he reached up and placed a hand on one, squeezing it in an attempt to comfort his enemy at one time. Draco turned to Harry, avoiding his eyes.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. He glanced at everyone at the table. “I’m sorry,” he whispered again. Hermione’s chin trembled as more fresh tears fell. Draco slowly raised his eyes to Hermoine’s. She wiped away some tears as they shared silent apologies. Nobody spoke a word as they attempted to collect themselves. Ginny picked up a candy bean from the small pile she had collected for herself. Placing it in her mouth, she began to chew. Her face tightened up into a grimace as she spat the bean out on the floor. Everyone looked up at her in surprise.
“Tripe,” she said, still grimacing from the flavor lingering on her tongue. Neville smiled. Draco began to chuckle. Harry then laughed out loud. Soon everyone was laughing, the atmosphere in the room instantly lightened. Hermoine checked her watch.
“My! We only have two hours left already,” she mentioned. Everyone sat taking turns looking at each other. This time the looks weren’t averted or met with hostility. Everyone smiled at one another. Not a nervous, socially courteous smile. A genuine smile as if to say “I’m glad I’m here with you.” Neville’s eyes landed on Draco.
“I wanna see Draco dance some more,” he said suddenly. Draco’s eyes widened as his cheeks reddened,” I think we could all use a few more laughs.”
“Wait!” Hermoine stopped him. She looked over at Ginny. “Ginny you haven’t told us why you’re here!” Ginny blushed as all eyes were on her
“No, it’s not important,” she started.
“Oh come on! Everyone else has told their story. Why are you here?” Draco popped an orange flavored bean in his mouth. After many other disturbing attempts, he was able to distinguish between the orange flavored beans and the habanero pepper flavored beans.
“Nothing. I didn’t do anything,” a small smile began to creep onto her features. “I didn’t have anything else to do today and I didn’t want to go to Hogsmead.” Neville threw his head back and laughed loudly. The hardest he had laughed in months. Ginny giggled.
“Stop laughing at me!” she said, laughing as well. Everyone then broke out laughing.
“Oh my cheeks hurt!” Hermoine cried out, holding her cheeks from laughing so hard. Draco and Harry both doubled over in laughter, both having to support each other so they wouldn’t fall out of their chairs. Ginny laughed as she watched the hysterics around her.
“C’mon Draco! Show us a dance!” Neville attempted to maintain the joyful ambience. They needed it after their soul-baring, emotionally draining day.
“Oh get off it Longbottom! I’m not going to dance for you. I know you think I’m sexy and all but,” he trailed off, Ginny laughing loudly this time.
“Oh, don’t give yourself that much credit! Do you really not like dancing that much?” Neville asked him. Harry looked at the two. He couldn’t believe they were actually holding a civilized conversation.
“Not really. I had so much trouble when McGonagall was teaching us those dance steps!” Draco admitted.
“It’s easy! Here,” he got up and moved a couple chairs out of the way. He began the slow waltz. “One two three, one two three,” he counted the steps off to himself to show Draco how easy it was. Draco watched his feet. He got up and stood next to Neville, still watching his feet. The two began moving together, Draco stumbled a few times, but then he got the hang of it. Neville began waltzing in circles around Draco as he inched his way closer to Ginny.
“I remember I stayed up for hours every night before the ball, making sure I had the steps right,” he paused in front of Ginny. He deeply bowed, then took her hand. “My lady?” Ginny smiled and rose from her seat. Soon they were waltzing around the room, not caring that the others were watching them.
Draco continued the steps on his own, happy that he finally understood it. His eyes trailed over to Hermoine, who had been watching him for some time now. He stopped and looked away, his cheeks getting hot with embarrassment. Hermoine got up and stood in front of him.
“Let’s see how you do with a partner, Malfoy,” she said in a challenging tone. She grabbed his hand and placed her other on his shoulder. He didn’t move, he just looked at her, then his feet nervously.
“Unless you don’t think you can do it?” she commented, raising an eyebrow. Draco’s eyes shot up into hers. Fueled by the desire to show her up, he placed his hand on her waist. He could feel the heat from her body through the shirt she was wearing. Slowly they began the structured steps of the waltz. More slowly then Neville and Ginny, but still a moderate pace. Then, Draco began to lead her onto a turn, circling them around the small area Neville had made earlier. Hermoine smiled as she saw Draco grow more confident in his dancing abilities. He returned her smile as he watched her hair flow in the breeze when they turned. He dropped his eyes to his feet, realizing what was happening. There is no way you are falling for her, Draco Malfoy. She’s Hermoine Granger, for the past four years we have hated each other’s existence. His father’s voice repeated the phrase in his head a few more times. But your hatred for her was really your father’s hatred. A tiny voice in the back of his head reminded him. The tiny voice was his.
“Eyes up here Draco!” Hermoine reminded him softly as she grabbed his chin, pushing it up. Feeling her soft fingertips on his chin made him think his knees were going to give away. This day had been the happiest he had ever had in his life. It was also the most emotionally stressful. Despite that, he couldn’t remember a time when he felt more comfortable around anyone. He could be his own person. A person with his own thoughts and ideas.
“I’m sorry I didn't write to you this summer Ginny,” Neville started. Ginny’s deep green eyes smiled.
“I just was going through a lot with my parents,” he looked away from her gaze. Ginny put her hand on his cheek, bringing his face to hers.
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