Chapter 17 : Losing Her Again
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So very nervous about posting this one.
Chapter 17-Losing Her Again
This is some kind of crazy dream. Why is he dreaming of her? Maybe he should try opening his eyes again. Using all the strength he possesses, Draco forces his weighty eyelids open. It only takes a moment for the cobwebs to lift, his vision to return. The first thing he notices is the pristine white walls, certainly not in his cell then. His suspicion is cemented when his sense of smell relays the lack of mold and mildew to his brain. With great trepidation he tilts his head to the side, barely suppressing an aggravated growl when he sees her. Her green eyes look concerned, as if she is afraid of what he will do.
His throat feels as if it is being scoured with sand paper as he responds with a hint of his former glibness, “Weaslette.”
A week after waking up in Montrose, the Ministry of Magic’s medical compound for personnel, Draco was still struggling to come to terms with his situation. The existence of this hospital was a closely guarded secret and he had never been sure if it even existed until now. The multi-level building was nestled in a lush green valley surrounded by trees and protected by charms.
After all the time he had spent in Azkaban it was difficult for him to accept the change in his circumstances. Being able to sit up, even if it was in a wheelchair, was a pleasant change from being in the hospital bed he had been confined to before. Seven days later it seemed like a lifetime since he had woken up to see Harry Potter’s wife standing next to his bed. Remembering their conversation still gave him a headache.
“It’s good to see that some things haven’t changed Malfoy,” Ginny replied.
He was certain that he was delusional. How else could he explain lying in a bed, talking to Harry Potter’s wife?
“Although I always thought you were a bit delusional whilst we were at school, I can assure you that you aren’t at the moment,” Ginny affirmed, proving that he had spoken his thoughts aloud.
His eyes must have shown his confusion because her teasing tone quickly turned serious. “I know you must have a loads of questions, and I promise that we’ll get to all of those soon,” she assured him, “but for the time being you need to concentrate on doing what the healers ask of you,”
Shifting to his side, “I assure you,” his unused voice still like gravel, “that I will do whatever is asked of me, after you tell what the hell is going on.” His face contorted with the pain his outburst caused.
“Mr. Malfoy, please try not to move too much. The bones have not completely mended yet,” explained the healer.
“Draco, lie still. Harry will be here soon and we’ll…” Ginny was interrupted by the opening of the door.
“Well, well, well. Look who has decided to join the land of the living again,” Harry said as he strolled into the room.
His former boss, with his unkempt hair and spectacles slightly askew, walked into the room and pulled up a chair next to his bed. His smile not quite reaching his eyes, “how do you feel Draco?” he asked.
He felt an unexpected sense of security with Harry in the room. How long had it been since he had felt safe? He couldn’t even remember. The pain that resided in his body was nothing compared to the looming despair he had been so close to submitting to at Azkaban.
“It feels as if I’ve been through a meat grinder,” he painfully whispered. “There aren’t many parts of my body that don’t ache, but I’m about one thousand percent better off than I was a week ago.”
“That’s not hard to believe,” Harry chuckled. “I hope that you’re willing to behave yourself long enough for your body to mend. There are some things that I’m certain you will want to be made aware of,” he’d continued, “but I have to make sure that you are up to par.”
“Since when do I get the ‘kid glove’ treatment Potter?”
Harry looked a bit put off but answered anyway, “Since your mother threatened to disembowel me if I compromised your recovery.” The look that Harry directed at him indicated that he whole-heartedly believed Narcissa’s warning.
The sound of a door opening and a gentle disturbance of the air around the room signaled the arrival of someone.
“A lady never resorts to physical violence, Mr. Potter. I merely asked that you take care of my son.” With all the grace of Malfoys past, Narcissa walked across the room and went directly to her son’s side.
“Darling, I’m so pleased to see you awake.”
The beautiful woman, the one whose honor he had valiantly fought for was looking at him with concern and adoration. Her soft hands pushed back his hair then wandered down to his scruffy cheeks. She was clearly drinking in the sight of a son she hadn’t seen in too long. In that moment he realized that every blow had been worth it and he would willingly do it again if need be.
Closing his eyes he absorbed the love she was conveying to him, “Mother, its good to see you.”
“Mrs. Malfoy,” Ginny interrupted, “it may have been a bit more than that. My husband came home fairly pale last evening after his conversation with you.”
“Nonsense,” Narcissa had waved off the suggestion. “Now what is this I hear that you are not doing as the healers tell you to?” she gently questioned Draco.
From that point on it had been a flurry of questions and answers between his mother, the Potters and the healer. They all converged around Draco and before he knew it, he had drifted off to sleep with a million unasked questions locked in his head.
Some time later, he awoke to the strangest sight yet. Lucius Malfoy was sitting in a chair next to his bed wearing a pair of spectacles and reading a copy of the Quibbler. The elder Malfoy was quite engrossed in whatever story had captured his attention.
“Draco! Son, you’re awake. Let me call the healer,” Lucius was rolling up the newspaper, ready to go get help, but Draco put his hand on his forearm, stopping his father from leaving, “Don’t go. Stay and talk to me.”
Looking down at his son, Lucius knew that there was nothing that Draco could ask of him that he would not do for him. Sitting back down, he smiled at his heir.
“You look much better than when they brought you in and I must say that you are a sight for these tired old eyes,” Lucius said.
Draco’s smirk was evidence that he was indeed feeling much better. “Bullocks. Sorry father but I hope you are not trying to get me to believe that you believe you’re old,” he laughed.
Lucius’ sheepish grin proved that his attempt at humility had failed miserably, “I never said I was old, just my eyes,” he hedged. Both wizards looked at each other for a few seconds before succumbing to joyous laugher. Father leaned in and embraced the son he had longed for and the son clung to man who had been his safe harbor for most of his life.
In the end, it was his father who told him the tale of how he had come to be in the hospital and the reason that he would, with some stipulations, be a free man again.
It seems that Kingsley was contacted by Edward Drake, the warden of Azkaban. Drake had voiced concern about the integrity of some of those in his command, particularly Marcelo Brigiatto, Lucas Moray, and a new guard by the name of Horatio Moncleve. He had a substantial number of prisoners making complaints against the three half-blood wizards, complaints that ranged from harassment to physical violence. The problem lay in the fact that all three guards denied the allegations, never doing anything in the presence of others. It was their word against the word of known criminals.
Draco’s skin crawled at the mention of the three men who caused him so much pain and anguish. He knew that if he had the means to punish them for the poisonous words they had spewed about his parents, the relentless taunts that they spit out in his presence, he would make them each pay for their bigotry with the same kind of pain that they had inflicted on him when he had finally broken and tried to attack.
After being assigned to the case, a new auror, Marty McMillan, had placed a few simple charms around the cells in Azkaban. Only a couple of hours into the investigation the alarms of the charms were activated, showing the guards beating a female prisoner in her cell. The viciousness of the assault was enough to paralyze Auror McMillan, but once he regained his composure he’d summoned Harry and Seamus. Together they apprehended the guards.
After the three men were arrested, the Ministry began reviewing the numerous files regarding the complaints. This was understandably a time-consuming process, weeding out the most heinous of occurrences from the lesser cases of verbal abuse.
The Department of Magical Law Enforcement was trying to be very thorough, bringing in all the victims for questioning, to get the story straight from their mouths. It was during one such interview that they had learned about the beating and subsequent removal of Draco Malfoy from the general population.
Everyone in the department knew the story behind their former co-worker’s arrest and incarceration. They were all aware of the fact that each one of them could conceivably lose their control one day with the same results as Malfoy, losing their cool and their freedom in one fell swoop.
The story McMillan heard from a small, bony inmate by the name of Calvin Leadman, made him queasy and extremely uneasy. When he heard the way Leadman had been startled awake by a loud ruckus in the cell next to his, the dull thuds he heard, the vicious laughter that came from the guards, the clear sound of bones breaking, agonized moans and the distinct sound of someone being dragged away, the hairs on the back of his head stood on end.
The problem was that no one knew what day that had been. There was no way of knowing how long Draco had been in solitary or how badly he had been hurt. The cell that he had been taken to was heavily protected with charms that the three guards had placed on it. The men refused to tell the aurors where they had taken Draco, denying that they even knew anything about him being taken away. As a last attempt to find him, Harry had approached the Malfoys, asking their help in finding their son.
Lucius’ eyes shone with pride as he explained the way Narcissa had located him.
When Potter arrived at the manor unannounced we were initially surprised at his appearance. He seemed more disheveled than usual. Without any attention to formalities he began to explain the reason for his visit. When he finished his story I turned to look at Cissy and I had never been more grateful to not have her as an enemy. With a fierce determination she turned to Harry and told him that there were no charms strong enough to keep the blood in her veins from finding a son that carried the same blood. We immediately apparated to Azkaban and within twenty minutes you were in her arms. It was she that arranged for you to have the best healers, it was she that kept me from going crazy when I saw the condition you were in, and it was she who made the deal with the ministry to keep you out of prison. She told them that they would set you free and she would not destroy the entire ministry hierarchy for the maltreatment you had received. They agreed. Damn proud of that woman, scared of her, but damn proud.
That had been a week ago and Draco was still trying to wrap his head around the whole thing. All the happiness that he should feel at being released was tempered by the fact that it seemed to be an empty future that he was looking at. He had asked to see Harry today.
The sun was beginning to set. The view from his window was clothed in muted pinks, golds and purples. The light filtering through the trees reminded him of the view he’d had at home. Today he would speak to him about Hermione.
He wanted to know where she was and how she was doing. For more than three years he had forced himself to forget her, fighting endless agony at the thought of her life with someone else. Unfortunately he was also plagued by thoughts of her being alone. The only way he had been able to maintain his sanity was to remember that she had a lot of people who loved and cared for her. She had not been alone to cope with losing him and their child…Their innocent baby who had never gotten the chance to breathe its first breath or to be held by loving parents. How did she cope with that loss? Was she bitter? Did she blame him?
The only contact with the outside world that he’d had in the past few years had been a few visits from Potter, but even then, he had not allowed mention of Hermione. Their conversations had been about his parents and their well-being, Harry’s continuing search for a way to get his conviction overturned and Draco’s day to day life behind bars. He had forbidden his parents to write to him, just as he had forbidden her. That was not a selfless act, he did not do it merely for her sake, the man had a bit of the coward in him that everyone accused him as a boy. Draco was quite certain that he would have gone crazy if he had been kept abreast of Hermione’s goings on.
Draco knew that his body was healing; he could feel the strength seeping back into his bones. His mother had told him the ministry was releasing his wand today. Soon, there would be nothing holding him back from going to her, nothing, but himself.
He was so engrossed in this musings that he didn’t hear the door open.
“Soon you’ll be able to get out of here,” said Harry, walking into the room. “You can go back to your home, back to work, back to your life,” Harry continued, staring out the same window Draco was looking through.
Draco’s lip curled without his volition, and several seconds went by before he said, “Right, my life. Where is my life Potter?” he asked, turning to face Harry. “My life is wrapped up in a small, brown eyed witch that carries my world in her hand. Where is my life? I don’t even know where to begin to look.”
“All you have to do is ask, Malfoy,” Harry replied. “All you’ve ever had to do is ask. You know that. It has been your choice not to know.”
“Don’t you think I know that? I thought that a life with her was out of the question; that I would be in Azkaban forever.” Turning his gaze back to the sunset out his window, he continued, “How was I going to allow her to wait for me? She needed to carry on with her life. I didn’t want to continue to ruin things for her like I’d done in school. Do you believe it‘s been easy for me not to hear her name, to shut her out of my life? I can assure you that it has only added to my hell”
Many minutes passed by as the two men stared out into the quickly darkening forest surrounding the hospital, each caught up in his thoughts, one standing with his hands in his pockets, the other sitting in a wheelchair. The shadows across the lawn were lengthening and before long it became difficult to see anything at all out the window. Harry was the first to speak.
“Draco, she’s in America .”
“America?” Draco’s head fell forward, as if he doesn’t have the strength to hold it up. “Of course, why am I surprised?” he whispered so quietly that Harry almost didn’t hear him.
The sight of the man looking broken shook up Harry, he’d never seen him look quite so beaten.
“You’ve got to understand,” Harry began, “that it was the only way she could trust herself not to go to you.”
“How long has she been there?”
“She left a few weeks after the trial and she’s been there ever since. She lives in a small magical community in California, on the Western coast of the United States.”
Afraid of the answer to his next question, he asked nevertheless. “Alone? Does she live alone?”
Not letting him suffer, “Yes, she lives alone. She got a job in the local library there,” Harry answered quickly. “You know it seems like she finally gets to be the person she was meant to be,” he continued. “She wasn’t supposed to be caught up in all the shit that Voldemort caused. Her biggest love has always been books and she finally gets to do what she loves.”
“Why do I feel as if there is a ‘but’ in there somewhere?” asked Draco.
It was very apparent that there was a big ‘but’ that Harry was trying to hedge around. “She had it tough in the beginning. Moving is never easy and moving to a different country, without friends or family, is worse,” he began.
“I get it Potter,” snapped the blond, “just spit it out!”
“I just want you to know how it was after you left,” snapped Harry right back, “She was all alone, for the second time in her life and it wasn’t easy!”
“Just. Say. It,” demanded Draco through clenched teeth.
“She’s found someone else,” burst out of Harry’s mouth before he could stop himself.
All the bravado Draco had been mustering was wiped away with those four words. The only sound he could hear was the roaring in his head; the only feeling was that of his heart trying to beat itself out of his chest. In the back of his mind he kept telling himself that he wasn’t surprised. Of course she had found someone else. It’s what he asked of her, to go on without him. Then why did it fucking hurt so much to hear it?
The look on his face was enough to make Harry ramble on, “This bloke seems to be a nice guy, but I don’t believe she loves him. She has been communicating with Ginny who doesn’t seem to believe Hermione loves Josh, that’s his name by the way; anyway, Ginny doesn’t think its love either.” Harry’s face was flushed at the end of his bumbling statement, but Draco seemed as if he hadn’t heard a word he had said.
The truth was that even if he tried denying it, he had always dreamt that he would get out one day and claim her as his own once again. He had never allowed himself to envision the way it would play out, but the ending was always the same, her in his arms. Well there was no going back now. She had Josh now, fucking pathetic name, and Draco would do whatever it took to ensure her happiness and something told him that keeping his release from her would be the best thing for her happiness. If it were up to him, she would never know he was a free man again.
With this thought he turned to Harry. “Right. Well, that’s that,” he said. “When can I start work again? You need to make sure I’m sent out of the country and I want you to promise me she won’t find out that I’m out”
“That’s it then? Didn’t you hear me?” asked Harry. “She doesn’t love him. Go to her,” at Draco’s unresponsiveness he continued, “I can’t believe you’re going to forget about her,” an incensed Potter hissed. “I can’t believe it. I thought you were different, but I guess you’ve gone back to being a spineless git!” he spat. “It would take a hell of a lot more than a mere ocean to keep me away from Ginny.”
“Fuck you Potter,” the words were spoken in a deceptively soft voice, “everything I do is for her and none if it is your business.”
“No, Draco, fuck you and all this self-sacrificing bullshit. All it has gotten you and Hermione is heartache,” Harry was still trying to reason with him, “Stop being a martyr and be the man she thinks you are.”
After several minutes with no response from Draco, Harry turned and walked to the door. He stopped as he was opening it and turned to the man in the chair, “As soon as you’re released you can come to the office for your new assignment.”
When Draco indicated he had heard with a small inclination of his head Harry continued, “And don’t believe for one moment that it is none of my business, I’m through with letting her get hurt. She’ll be here, you know,” He mercilessly continued, “In a few weeks George is getting married you know she won’t miss the wedding.” Green eyes bored into gray before he said, “If you make me do this, I you say I have to keep this from her, you better believe that I. Will. Not. Let you waltz back into her life when you realize you’ve made a mistake!” With a last exaperated look, Harry made his exit with a slam of the door.
As Draco stood still as a statue, it took more control than he thought he had, to not rip the room apart. She was lost to him. Again.
A week later, having waited until everyone else had gone home, a much healthier Draco walked into Harry’s office at the Ministry of Magic. The difference in his appearance was dramatic. The simple, but elegant, tailored robes were a testament to the fact that the wizard that had been pulled from the dank cell in Azkaban was gone, replaced by a man that had a slight resemblance to the wizard who had once killed to protect his fiancée. There was a lot of disparity between the old Draco and this new version, upon close inspection there was a chilling aura around him. The once flawless face was marked with several small, but permanent scars, the mouth was set in a grim line and the eyes…the eyes gave the impression that they could see right through a person, eyes that appeared to belong to someone many years older.
Harry didn’t need to say anything at all to him. He simply held out a file with the information he needed for his mission to Kyrgyzstan. Draco took the folder, gave Harry a curt bow and left just as quietly as he had arrived.
Draco’s assignment sent him to the South Western Fergana Valley. After three weeks of temperatures above 104 degrees he was ready to leave the impoverished country in the former Soviet Union. The dilapidated room he had been living in was infested with rodents larger that Hermione’s old cat and there was a suspicious stench that permeated the whole place.
Maybe it was his continued bad luck that the Ministry had paired him with Dominick Kurov. Maybe, but it was more likely Potter’s way of getting back at him. Kurov’s accent was almost impossible to understand, and he talked non-stop. It was a form of torture for the wizard who only wanted to do his job and be left alone.
Three weeks was all it took for him to find and arrest the Henry Lonquist, a death eater who had been on the run since the end of the war. Draco found him at a local market and the man swore he had changed his ways, a claim that was hard to believe given that he was selling cursed pottery to unsuspecting muggles.
Although Kurov was expecting to be the one to transport Lonquist in, Draco made a last minute decision.
He was going back. He would deal with Potter, Josh or whoever stood in his way. She would be here in a week. He was getting his witch back.
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