Chapter 44 : Bearing All
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Chapter Forty-Four: Bearing All
Sirius paced around the room in a small line, his eyes glued to Draco. He seemed to be calmer now that Remus was gone, although why he would want to be alone with Sirius there was no telling.
“I assume by your drunken stupidity that she told you she’s with child?”
Draco glared angrily at him but sipped his water calmly, Sirius’ recent attack still fresh on his mind.
“Do you think it’s yours or mine?” he mused.
“Do you think,” Sirius asked softly, “hating her vindicates any of your actions?”
He watched Draco for a moment, a curiously odd feeling of pity for him catching him unaware. He moved to the sidebar and poured himself a glass of water. He took a long drink and then tipped the pitcher towards Draco. When he nodded, Sirius stepped toward him and re-filled his glass.
“So she was honest with you?” He turned a penetrating stare Draco’s direction. “Tell me, Draco, did you bare your soul to her as well?”
“I don’t know-"
But the stricken look on his face told Sirius he knew exactly what he was talking about.
“Would you prefer to be sober for this?” he asked casually, his voice as calming as possible.
Draco glared at him for a moment then nodded. Sirius placed a hand on his head as he walked past the sofa, Draco’s head clearing immediately.
“I could’ve used that in school,” he murmured in thanks.
“Came in handy for me as well. But, yes, Lucius wasn’t much of a drinker. Narcissa, on the other hand-" Sirius chuckled, “I’m surprised she didn’t pass that one along to you.”
“Funny how the adult you would most readily identify with is the one you never really take the time to listen to.”
Sirius didn’t miss the double meaning in his words. “Ah, Draco,” he said, exhaling slowly, “we were destined to be enemies from the beginning.”
“Probably some damn prophecy somewhere with our initials on it,” he mumbled and Sirius couldn’t help but laugh.
“Touche,” he said nodding as he sank down opposite Draco. He waited a few moments to let the shock on Draco’s face to settle. “Do you intend on telling her?”
“To be honest, Sirius, with the things I’ve done in my lifetime you are going to have to be a hell of a lot more specific with me here.”
Draco lifted his eyes and rather than the look of fear he had expected, Sirius saw nothing but tired, miserable regret. He exhaled heavily, placing his glass on the table and letting his head drop into his hands.
“For a decade,” Sirius couldn’t keep the anger out of his voice, “you have allowed her to believe that Ginny going to Voldemort was her fault. She stopped doing magic, put herself in some horrible self imposed exile, stopped living her life, all under the belief she had caused not only Ginny’s but Ron and Harry’s death as well.”
“The potion was complicated, we don’t know-"
“I know,” Sirius’ voice was low and accusatory, “you know.”
“Yes, okay, yes!” Draco was out of his seat and pacing the floor. “Of course the potion was perfect. It’s Hermione for goodness sakes. Has the woman ever gotten a spell wrong in her life? But, I didn’t plan it! I swear to God, Sirius, I had no idea-" he dropped back onto the sofa in exasperation. “I’d left Voldemort, I was finally free of him, and I would never have done it on purpose. You have to believe me.”
“I do believe you,” Sirius whispered. “The bonding charm went wrong, didn’t it? You somehow bonded her to Voldemort rather than Harry.”
Draco raised his eyes, fighting off the tears he felt coming. “We were stupid and arrogant and thought we had it all figured out. I was alone with Ginny when I cast the charm and she just went –" his voice caught as the memories flooded over him. “She started talking about Riddle and how he knew her better than anyone. That no one else had ever really understood her. She was making no sense but, looking back, she was making perfect sense.”
“Riddle’s diary,” Sirius offered with a sad nod. They had been mere children trying to save the world, trying to save Harry. They had thought they were doing the right thing and it turned out the worst thing imaginable. Much as his forcing the secret keeper on Peter had destroyed so many lives a generation before. If he’d only been here to counsel them, to convince them that fate wasn’t something you could undo so easily.
“Bonded to the one whom your bare your soul,” Draco whispered miserably. “She never talked to anyone but Harry. They’d spend hours locked away just talking. Had we not been so stupid—"
“When did you realize?” Sirius cut him off. “How long have you known it was you?”
“Juliette,” he admitted, his voice a mixture of pain and remorse. “No one has ever talked to me so openly, shared so many things with me. She’d share the deepest darkest parts of her soul with me.”
“A child that has no reason to fear,” Sirius explained, “will always be more honest than the rest of us.”
Draco dropped his head back against the sofa, his hands running through his hair as he focused on the ceiling above. “Ginny was so young. My father gave her that damned diary her first year at Hogwarts. She told it everything, told him everything.” He sat up, facing Sirius directly. “But she grew up, learned to hide her emotions, learned to keep thoughts from Harry.”
“We all hide things to protect those we love,” Sirius mumbled, his eyes never wavering. He dropped his voice a notch and tightened the grip on his glass before speaking. “Again I ask, Draco, do you love her?”
“I wouldn’t know how to love her,” Draco murmured, his voice barely audible. He dropped his face into his hands, unwilling to face Sirius.
Sirius watched him silently for a moment, visions of his own youth mirrored in Draco. He clasped his glass tighter in his hand, wanting desperately to tell the boy off but knowing this was perhaps his last chance to do something right. Since his return, he had done everything in his power to keep Draco safe. To keep harm from him...to keep him alive so Hermione wouldn’t loose yet another person in her life. But for all his effort at saving Draco, he’d failed miserably to take into account the boy’s soul.
“I know,” he nodded, his eyes meeting Draco’s briefly. “It’s not her, you know. It’s anyone. The Blacks, the Malfoys…we were raised the same, Draco. Love is a weakness not meant to be learned. Why would anyone willingly allow themselves to become weak at the expense of someone else?”
Sirius couldn’t help the emotions that filled him. Draco was nothing more than a copy of himself…an echo of his own destructive soul before Juliette had brought him back. How could he never have seen it before?
Draco sank back on to the sofa, his desire to throttle Sirius suddenly evaporating. It wasn’t as if this was his fault…it wasn’t either of their fault. They had both made their mistakes and the only bright spot was that Juliette had been sheltered from them all. “Harry told me,” he said, “on the night he forgave me that it wasn’t his forgiveness that mattered. I had to forgive myself. I haven’t been able to do that and I don’t ever expect to. I can never make up for all of those things I’ve done to everyone. I destroyed Hermione’s life, Sirius,” his voice broke slightly. “And it took you to save her. For that, I’m forever grateful.”
“I didn’t intend-"
“No,” Draco shook his head. “Of course you didn’t. I imagine you did your damnedest to push her away at every turn. I suppose that it was inevitable, really. I’ll always remind her of what she lost, you remind her of what is possible.”
“Draco,” he leaned forward, his voice solemn, “that has to change. You have to change that. The locket—"
“Yes, that damned cursed locket,” he sighed heavily. “Bane of my existence and my freedom as well.”
Sirius hesitated. His eyes drifted to meet Draco’s, who now had a smile playing lightly across his face. He pulled the locket out of his pocket, wrapping the long chain around his fingers. He opened it gingerly, stared briefly at the picture, then tugged it out and handed it to Sirius. “You won’t mind if I leave that with you, then?”
He held tight to the picture of he and Hermione….the silly idiotic picture from Christmas when they’d all gone to see Santa Claus. He knew better than to ask where Draco had gotten it. Juliette would not have given it to him willingly…he had to have stolen it while she slept. It had crossed Sirius’ own mind several times – how exactly to get the locket away from her without her questioning him. That Draco had been planning this...that he was methodical and organized, told Sirius his decision had been made long before tonight’s drunken confrontation had ever occurred.
“Draco—" Sirius stood up to move toward him but Draco raised his hands and the exasperation in his voice made Sirius stop.
“For once in my damned forsaken life, Sirius, let me do the right thing,” his voice was almost pleading. “Please. She loves you, Juliette needs you. I, have nothing to offer them except by some bizarre twist of fate, I can give them you.”
“There will be another way-"
“Really?” Draco laughed—not a condescending laugh but the warm and almost brotherly laugh Sirius received from Remus. “See any other willing purebloods about, do you? Surely, you didn’t overlook the inscription. It’s a Black family heirloom, after all.”
“Not hardly,” Sirius shook his head. “Volo purus…a pure wish. What Juliette gave.”
“Volo purus…a willing pureblood. What it wants in return.” Draco nodded. “Bloody irritating how wizards never just mean one thing, isn’t it? Two tiny words two different meanings. I’m surprised actually that Hermione never figured it out,” he glanced at Sirius. “But, I suppose you never let her see it, did you?”
Sirius shook his head and turned away. He shoved his hands deep in his pockets, his mind teeming with reasons to convince Draco his plan was absurd.
“You did the right thing, Sirius,” he murmured, “and now it’s my turn. I must admit, I don’t envy you having to explain this to everyone when I’m gone.” He gave a tight, tension filled laugh that Sirius couldn’t join in on.
“Your decision is made then?”
Draco nodded. “You’ll take care of them, Sirius? Both of them?”
“You won’t stop loving her when she’s obstinate? And Juliette, you know how special she is, don’t you? The things she can do—the magical abilities she possesses at six- you understand her future in the wizarding world?”
Sirius nodded, unable to equate the hatred he had once felt for Draco with the noble gesture he was now witnessing. But the smile on Draco’s face sought neither approval nor pride from Sirius, just reassurance and a promise of no interference.
“I don’t relish being in debt to you, Draco,” he offered.
Draco laughed and, this time, Sirius was able to join in. “Funny, that’s the part I’m particularly fond of.”
“Draco,” Sirius moved to stand closer to him, his voice wavering with uncertainty, “I disappoint everyone. I fail at everything.”
Draco placed a comforting hand on his arm. “You’ll succeed here, Sirius. I’ve given you no other choice.”
Sirius nodded and watched as Draco grasped the locket tightly and, with a solemn nod, headed toward the door.
“Draco, for what it’s worth,” he called, making him turn, “the sorting hat was wrong about you.”
“Gryffindor?” he asked with a smile. He nodded his heartfelt thanks for the meaning behind Sirius’ words. “Tell it off for me, will you, then? Damned thing has cost me half my life.”
Sirius offered him the tiniest bow. “It would be my pleasure.”
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