Chapter 1 : The Fate of the Malfoys
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Hermione Granger apparated from Azkaban prison for the very last time.
She tried to prepare herself for the day that she knew was coming. She tried to hold back her tears, but they fell like a river and continued while in her office at the Daily Prophet Headquarters.
On his twentieth birthday, after serving a three-year prison sentence in Azkaban, Draco Malfoy was to be Obliviated of his time spent there.
It had been the judge’s idea of being merciful because of his age and his circumstances during the war. He would do the time for his crime and would suffer, but not recall any of it.
Some would say that justice wasn’t fully served if the young Malfoy wasn’t able to remember it. But Hermione Granger had made it a point in her news article that three years of his life had indeed, been taken from him… years that he will never get back.
She also wrote in her article that she wished the young Death Eater would not be Obliviated, but it wasn’t so that he would remember how horrible prison life was. She had only noted the reason as “personal.”
Much had changed in the last few months... weeks... days. So much that now, on the very hour that Draco was to be Obliviated and freed, she no longer had the heart to continue working for the magical newspaper, so she began packing her things.
In the hopes of not being noticed, the door was kept closed and the lights remained off, while the tiny shaded window cast a melancholy sepia. And like a mournful ghost, memories hovered about the room as she unpinned her former articles and headliners from the walls of her small space.
They gave details on raids, arrests, and trials of a small army of Death Eaters being caught and brought to justice over the last three years.
She had written on the court proceedings and the lives of convicted Death Eaters. It was something that she had obsessed over, seeing justice done and being in the thick of it.
But there were other articles she'd penned as well… on the deplorable prison conditions. From her harshly-toned letters reaching out to the community, the prisoners received much needed heat and... strange as it sounds... apples. And unexpectedly, she began receiving thank you letters from people whose loved ones were imprisoned.
She thought back all those years ago when she had gone to the Daily Prophet with a mission on her mind… to watch the trials, verdicts, and sentences of all the Malfoys.
Members of the media were the only ones allowed in some courtroom proceedings and sometimes, they were permitted to be witnesses to the Death Penalty actually being carried out.
And so Hermione was persistent in her efforts to land a job in the media to get her in.
Harry and Ron were both concerned that it was an unhealthy obsession for her to want to be involved so closely as Ministry officials did their jobs; thoroughly presenting evidence at the trials and watching as judges ruled and passed their sentences.
She told them that it was not some sick obsession with justice, but rather part of healing and dealing with the tragedies and losses of the war.
She wanted to see justice be done and going to work for the Daily Prophet was her ticket to a front row seat. She got paid to do it and it became her job to report the legal happenings to the wizarding world.
If she was obsessed with anything, it was one prisoner in particular. It was someone that she knew all too well.
She sat and watched him sit in quiet silence, as if he were drugged, as his over-paid lawyers went back and forth proclaiming his innocence.
“Underage...” they would point out over and over again.
“Under extreme duress and under the very real threat of death...” they would remind everyone by repeating it every so often.
“How does one distinguish right from wrong when they’ve been brainwashed from birth?" one of them asked the court.
“Victim of grave circumstances. It’s a wonder he survived it at all,” the other would say.
“Don’t blame the son for sins of the father,” they said haughtily, as if any kind of conviction at all would be absurd and unfounded.
She watched him stand as still as a stone statue as his charges were announced with the verdicts being read aloud... hard and resounding.
“Attempted Murder of Albus Dumbledore… NOT GUILTY.”
“Accessory to the Murder of Albus Dumbledore… GUILTY.”
His lawyers had done their job well in striking a deal. The Ministry would silence the Attempted Murder charge, so long as they got a guilty verdict for being an Accessory to Murder. He did, after all, take months to mend the Vanishing Cabinet without saying anything to anyone of the plot to kill Dumbledore.
Some days later, Hermione sat at his sentencing and watched him again stand at the reading of the sentence without so much as flinching… or wincing… or any movement at all.
“Draco Malfoy, you have been found guilty for the crime of ‘Accessory to the Murder of Albus Dumbledore’ and are hereby sentenced to Azkaban until your 20th birthday. And… as an act of mercy deemed appropriate by the court, you will be Obliviated of your time spent there and then released. The people have spoken. This court is adjourned.”
Even though Hermione knew the gavel was about to slam down, it still made her jump when she heard it.
The sentence was shocking and highly controversial.
Just three years and then Merciful Obliviation?
There would be outrage.
But Malfoy stood as if he didn’t hear any of it. His lawyers shook his hand, wishing their client luck and feeling as though they had won his case with a fairly light conviction and considered the unexpected sentence of Obliviation to be a bonus.
Draco would still be young when he got out and wouldn’t remember a minute of prison time.
It was a victory to be celebrated in their eyes. And the prosecution was just as happy that they got him behind bars for three years, instead of being released on some sort of technicality.
After shaking hands with his lawyers, the Aurors bound his hands together magically. And just before he went with them willfully, he turned and looked directly at Hermione as if knowing she had been there the entire time.
Hermione was surprised by this. She thought he wouldn’t be aware that she was there at all and certainly not care.
His grey eyes bore into hers.
She tried her best to read his expression quickly, as there was no time.
He wasn’t angry or hateful. There appeared to be sadness, but then it changed… as if pleading for her to do something.
But what could she possibly do for him now?
He held his purposeful gaze until the last possible second as he walked through the threshold of the door that would take him to Azkaban.
Their silent exchange had been all too brief for her satisfaction. She had questions. Like… Why had he singled her out as he left the courtroom? And why did it look like he wanted something from her?
Did he know that she was there to write of his sentencing for the Daily Prophet? It was very early in her new found career, as it had only just begun.
There was only one way to find out.
She would have to get special permission from the Daily Prophet to obtain an Azkaban media pass.
They didn’t give those out to just anyone. But Hermione was persistent and resourceful in her ways, not to mention convincing. It took an entire frustrating month. But basically, she wouldn’t stop asking, questioning, and nagging until her boss practically threw it at her so that she would stop bothering him about it.
She followed instructions carefully.
She was to go to the Ministry Headquarters and speak to the Chief of Security as well as the Director of Prisoner Transport and the Azkaban Warden.
The Warden was a half-giant that reminded Hermione of Hagrid, only his eyes were not as kind. He was quite intimidating and questioned her motives. And he was rough, tough, and mean-looking as if he too were a prisoner of some kind... the effects of working at a prison so long, she figured.
They would brief her on the dangers of her quest and force her to sign release papers acknowledging that she would be carefully watched to be sure she wasn’t trying to break a prisoner free. They could not guarantee her safe return or her health. And they could not promise she would not be raped, maimed, killed, or otherwise violated. She was a high risk in willingly walking into a lair of incarcerated wizards whose wandless magic could do sick and twisted things to her just by walking past them.
They made it clear that she was putting her life in her own hands and that her wand would be confiscated and held by the Ministry before going to Azkaban. And if there was ever an emergency lockdown, she herself would in effect become a prisoner there until someone could safely escort her back.
It was a lot to take in, but she figured she’d been born a brave soul and did not back down.
She verbally agreed, signed the paperwork, and made her magical mark on the document to prove that she discussed and agreed to accept the terms and consequences of her actions.
Hermione came across Draco's arrest folder while cleaning out her office. She opened it and looked at his arrest photo. He looked so different now, just three years later. His hair was now passed his shoulders and down his back. But his arrest photo reminded her of the way he looked at Hogwarts.
She recalled the first time she saw him in his cell.
It had only been a month since she’d seen him at the trial and she could see from his appearance that prison life had already affected him.
His hair had begun to grow out a bit and she could now see hair on his jaw line from being unshaven.
He had always had a well groomed, clean-shaven, baby face that could hold a look of puppy-dog innocence when he wanted it to, but no more.
That innocent looking layer had been abrasively scraped away which served to reveal a now very pissed off bad boy who had lost his former saint-like patience to the windstorms that punished the prison.
There was shock on his face at seeing her petite form through prison bars for the first time. He was surprised that she actually showed up and she looked... pretty.
“What the bloody hell took you so long, Granger?” he asked her spitefully. “I was beginning to think that you didn’t read my plea for help a full month ago,” he growled.
“Well apparently, they only allow people into Azkaban if they don’t want to go. For those of us willing, we must jump through hoops of fire, literally sign our lives away, and get everyone’s approval and signature but Merlin’s. So forgive me if my appearance before you isn’t timely. Not to mention, I didn’t have to come here at all.”
He didn’t want to argue with her as he felt his time was running out. Not for him, but for his parents.
“How much time did they give you today?” he asked.
“Seeing as how I’m technically here on official Daily Prophet business, they’ve given me a whole ten minutes,” she replied with sarcasm. “But now that I have approval, I can come back as many times as I want.”
“That’s good, because that is what I need,” he commented, thinking into the future.
“Enlighten me as to what you want from me and I’ll consider coming back to this deplorable hell hole. The stench alone is beginning to make me ill.”
He paused to think of what he wanted to say and how to say it. He wanted a connection to the outside world strictly for information on his parents.
“I know that you write for the paper on trials of Death Eaters and such. I read every one of them before I came here. And well… I’d like word on my parents’ cases. Being in here, I have no idea what is going on in the outside world. My lawyers won’t set foot in this filthy rock. And since it is your job to attend such things and write about them… well, I was wondering if you would be willing to help with such a thing. And not just what you can write in a paper. I want to know how the really are. Does my mother look scared? Has she been crying? Does she look like she’s been eating, as she's had trouble with that in the past? With their trials and subsequent convictions and sentencing… even if they were brought here, I may never see them again.”
Knowing they were not friends, he didn’t expect her to do it for nothing. “I would pay you, of course. Name your price.”
“Malfoy assets are frozen until your release.”
“Then I’ll pay you when I get out then.”
“You won’t even remember that you owe me, considering your Obliviation orders.”
“Then I’ll sign a Gringott’s IOU, postdated with a witness or something. I’ll be good for it!” he practically yelled at her in frustration.
“Look. I don’t have to do a single thing for you. So for once in your life, you should at least make the attempt at being nice to me.”
“Granger… Please, do this for me. They might give my father the death penalty and never tell me. There is no communication to the outside world here. None. No owl post because of the treacherous winds outside these walls. I just want news of my parents. That’s all. I’ll be driven mad not knowing their fate for three years.”
She knew what he was saying was true.
Nothing could get passed the winds of Azkaban.
“I cannot promise that I’ll come back here. But if I do, I’ll have to write about it or they won’t let me back. So be thinking about something to say that I can actually write about or my time here will cease as they’ll revoke my media pass.”
“Drag it out then. Tell them that you didn’t have enough time to get anything out of me today and that you’ll have to come back and try again. Then we’ll discuss my opinion on Merciful Obliviation.”
“You give me information on my parents and I’ll give you material to write in the paper. It’s a good trade. I promise to make it worth your trouble.”
“I risk my life in coming here!” she replied, as if almost protesting.
“You’d better go then,” he said as two guards appeared behind her.
“Time’s up, Miss,” she heard one of them say.
She returned a week later.
“Your father doesn’t look the same as he did before… before the war, I guess,” she told him. “He looks broken and tired and exhausted, really.”
“They’re probably torturing him for information, those bastards,” Draco accused. “Which means time is running out for him, I suppose. They’ll search his mind with the masters of Legilemens to find out all that they can. He doesn’t have near the strength of Occlumency that I have to keep them out.”
“The hearing isn’t over yet. You don’t know what he’ll get, especially with your family lawyers working tirelessly.”
“They will give him death. I’m sure of it,” he said rather sadly. “To be honest, they will drag the trial out, extracting as many memories as possible. And then when they can’t seem to get anymore, that’s when the trial will end.”
“That’s barbaric. They don’t actually do that, do they? People have rights and protections under the law.”
“Don’t be so naïve as to think it doesn’t happen. It does. And given the person on trial, no one cares but family. And what are we to do about it, being incarcerated ourselves? Malfoys have never been so powerless. It’s sickening.”
Hermione didn’t want to believe it, but there was an undeniable truth to his words. And she knew that what he said did happen behind closed doors and that many would say that it was justified by the very acts of the criminal on trial.
She found it sickening to actually feel sorry for Lucius. Maybe something was wrong with her. Was Draco corrupting her thoughts?
“What of my Mother? Have you seen her?”
“I actually got the chance to speak with her.”
Draco looked up at her with hope in his eyes.
“And? What did she say?”
“Well, at first she wouldn’t speak to me at all. She just sort of sat there like a statue and staring off into space as if I wasn’t there. But then I told her that I had access to see you and that if there was anything that she wanted to say to you, that I’d relay the message.”
“What’s her message?”
“Go to hell, you Mudblood filth.”
This made Draco smirk. “Never one to hold her tongue when she has an opinion to share.”
“Apparently you really were doomed at birth, inheriting your cruelty from both sides.”
“Doomed at birth, indeed,” he said turning away from her briefly. “What else about her? Did she look weak or okay, considering where she is?”
“She seems okay, but it appears as though she hates her prison attire. And just before I left, she said, 'Ask him what is hidden underneath the waterfall. If you return with the correct answer, I’ll believe you.'”
It made him smile as he recalled a memory from his youth.
“A pirate’s treasure… a handful of gold scraps and an amethyst ring that I stole from her jewelry cabinet when I was seven years old.” His smile faded then. “If you get the chance, tell her that I love her and that I’m fine. I’m content with my sentence and that it should’ve been worse.”
“She won’t believe that you said that.”
“Yes she will. She knows me. It is you that can’t believe that I said that.”
“Alright. Let’s talk of your end of the bargain… something I can write about. What do you think of your sentence? Especially, the end of it.”
“Obliviation is not something that I ever expected or asked for. My lawyers had never heard of such a thing and thought it a wonderful bonus of mercy on the judge’s part. But I think the judge did it to make himself famous. Not only is he the judge that brought the highest Death Eaters to justice, but he wanted to add in a controversial and shocking measure to it so that instead of people talking about us, they would talk about him and his sentencing. It wasn’t for mercy. It was his own selfish ambition for infamous popularity.”
“You didn’t have anything to do with it? People say that the judge must have been bribed into doing it and that it is sick and twisted that you won’t remember a day of suffering. That it is not justice at all. That you will learn nothing. And that you should have it much worse.”
“Speaking of your own feelings, aren’t you?”
“Then we have something in common. I couldn’t agree with you more. Except he wasn’t bribed. And I certainly didn’t ask to be Obliviated.”
His eyes were heated in talking about it. He cast a glare at her that took her breath.
It was then that she truly believed him. Obliviation was certainly not his idea.
Eventually, Hermione was able to stay longer and longer as her trust built with the Warden and the prison guards. They would still watch her carefully, but it was more out of protection than any distrust.
And in each and every visit, Draco spilled information to her that sometimes shocked her and left her in tears.
He spoke of how he wanted to be a Death Eater, but hadn’t realized what that would really mean. When he was young, he looked up to his father and wanted to be just like him. But all of that went horribly wrong when Voldemort returned.
It was then when Draco began speaking of all the murders committed by the Dark Lord, including when the professor was killed on his dining room table and then eaten by Nagini, while everyone watched.
“You don’t know what that does to a person," he said as if reliving the haunting scene in his mind. His eyes grew distant and dark.
"As soon as I get out, I’m burning that table in the back yard and then burying the ashes. As if I hadn’t known before, it was then that I understood just how evil he truly was. When I found out that he had split his soul into seven pieces, I figured that the only part he held onto had to be the worst and darkest of the human conscience. The part in all of us that can do the most heinous and unspeakable things…. That was the only thing that remained. Not that it’s an excuse… it’s more of an explanation as to his evil of the purest type. Uncorrupted by anything good or decent.”
For as much as he was silent at school their 6th year, he was the opposite to Hermione in his cell. His words came easily as if she were reading from a book. He wasn’t even sure why he was doing it, except that he trusted her with the truth. Trusted that she wouldn’t twist it. And there was something else… He began wanting her to be there, feeling sad when she left and looking forward to her return.
At times, these stories and feelings he portrayed brought tears to her eyes, thinking maybe Obliviation was the right thing and that he didn’t deserve a single minute in prison.
“I survived it, Granger. I survived it by doing what I was told and keeping my mouth shut. I think the only reason why I lived was because I was collateral in the sick head-games with my parents. Why Voldemort didn’t kill me, I have no idea.”
The conversation about Snape was quite lengthy.
Day after day of nothing but talk of Snape and how he had fooled everyone, the Unbreakable Vow, and how even though he had no children of his own, he acted the part of a father for both Draco and Harry, even though neither of them ever realized it.
Snape had in fact, saved both of their lives on multiple occasions.
The students of Hogwarts were his children.
"It's amazing, really," Hermione reflected. "How someone can literally live three separate lives. Professor, Death Eater... and whatever it was on the inside that no one really knew."
"I think you've hit on something," Draco replied. "I think every single person on the planet has things that they keep for themselves. Things that no one knows about... secrets, feelings, beliefs, crushes, dreams... Things that would surprise and shock even those closest to them. Things that quite possibly could go to the grave without a single word uttered about it."
He looked at her and wondered if she understood what he really meant... that there were things he had been feeling concerning her that might not ever be spoken.
"Oh, yes. I know exactly what you mean."
Did she? He wondered.
Hermione was Draco's only visitor. And so he spoke his heart and deepest thoughts to her, partly feeling as though if he didn’t, she wouldn't come back. The other part being the slow-growing comfort that surrounded him at her very presence.
His hair had grown out surprisingly fast, long and blond, and he began looking like his father. She didn’t want to say that, but had a feeling that he already knew. They wouldn’t allow it to be cut. Just having a blade of any kind at Azkaban was deemed too dangerous for magical prisoners.
This day, she had terrible news of his father that she didn’t want to relay. She wasn’t sure how to say it or what kind of reaction would come from him.
How do you tell someone that their father would be dead soon?
“I have news.”
He looked up at her through long hair that hung in front of his gray eyes. He pushed it out of the way and gave her a look of dread as if he already knew what she was going to say.
“Your mother received fifteen years in Azkaban. Your father…” she swallowed. “The Death Penalty.”
Draco felt lightning strike through him and almost went to his knees. He doubled over and fought the sickness that threatened to come out. He fought it because she was there and he didn't want her to see him do it.
Still doubled over, his body shook. He braced himself so that he wouldn't lose his balance and fall to the floor.
“Tomorrow at sundown.”
He turned away from her, but he still wasn't able to stand fully.
He wasn’t crying yet, but he couldn’t look at her for fear of an emotional meltdown.
“And Draco… I had to sign up as a witness just so that I could know when it was to happen. They are keeping it extremely tightlipped for security purposes. They fear that someone will try to rescue him at the last minute somehow.”
She saw him shake his head slowly.
“No one will come, Granger,” he said solemnly. “No one will come for Lucius Malfoy.”
The truth seemed to sadden him further.
“What of Mother? Does she know?”
“She was there. She… broke down in sobs and rent her clothes and then began pulling her hair out in clumps. It was only the threat of sedation that calmed her down. She didn’t want to be drugged and so she was able to pull herself together and sit quietly crying while rocking back and forth. I’m sorry, Draco."
Draco pictured his mother as Hermione described her... undoubtedly engulfed in debilitating grief at the news of her husband's impending death.
He wondered if his mother would survive it. Surely her will to live would die with his father.
“Arrange a penseive. I want to see what you are going to see tomorrow at sundown.”
She nodded her head, but she didn’t even know if he saw her. It seemed he was looking through her into a distant memory… or perhaps a thousand memories.
The conversation was over quickly and she had to try and prepare herself to be a witness of the killing of Lucius Malfoy. She loathed the thought of watching someone die, even if they were the enemy.
The morning after the deed was done, Hermione was there with a penseive. It would’ve taken a normal person weeks to get approval for something like that. But the Warden was getting used to Hermione’s requests and demands and he liked her for her bravery in speaking her mind. And he figured that under the circumstances, they could expedite her request as urgent.
They wouldn’t allow it in his cell, but she managed to secure an interrogation room to give them the illusion of privacy.
She had it all set up for him and waited patiently for the guards to bring him in.
She had pulled the memory and placed it into a vial before she left the Ministry since no wands were permitted.
Something terrible had happened the night before. It would be horrible news for Draco and Hermione wasn’t even sure she would be able to tell him without breaking down into sobs.
It was unfathomable. No one saw it coming.
Her thoughts were interrupted as the door opened to reveal a young prisoner that clearly had not slept, but they had allowed him to shower as he was still wet, his long hair dripping.
His hands were shackled in front of him and as soon as he sat down, his feet were shackled to the table.
She sat quietly and directly across from him and waited for the guards to leave.
They left, but were watching and listening behind mirrored glass.
He could tell that she too had not slept. Her eyes held sadness and pity for him.
“Draco, before you watch this, there is something I need to tell you.”
“My mother is dead, isn’t she?”
Hermione felt shock that he knew.
“How… How did you know?”
“I felt it. And you just confirmed it,” he commented as Hermione’s words became agonizing confirmation that sliced at his insides.
He swallowed hard and his face became pained.
“Let me see it,” Draco finally urged after a long pause. "I want to see what happened last night."
Hermione looked down at the vial in her hand, her memory of it bottled for him.
“Apparently, your mother requested to be there to see your father one last time and the court permitted it. I’m so sorry, Draco,” she said as the memory escaped from the vial and into the watery penseive.
He bowed his head and dove into the memory and watched the scene play out before him.
“Lucius Malfoy, you have been found guilty of Murder and have been sentenced to Death. When you are ready, step into the veil and meet your end. If it is deemed that you will not go willingly, you will be forced. You have one minute to say any last words.”
Draco watched as his father’s eyes moved to his mother, Narcissa. And watched as he spoke as if they were the only two in the room.
Lucius’s cold gray eyes turned soft and then watery.
“I’m so sorry my love. You know my dreams were bigger than this. I wanted to give you everything but instead, I destroyed everything.”
Lucius broke his gaze because of shame, but it was only for a second.
“In a way, dying like this is somewhat of a victory in that I didn’t die at the hand of the Dark Lord. We did survive the war, my darling, but..." he paused. "To be honest, I shouldn’t live for what I did to you and to our son. I destroyed that which was most dear to me. For that, I most certainly deserve death. I love you so much, my Narcissa… my flower.”
His hands were shackled, but he brought them to his face to wipe the tears that had escaped.
“Tell Draco… our son that never asked to be born to us, that I’m sorry for everything and that his father’s last dying wish is that he not make the same mistakes I made… that seeking power will only leave him powerless. And I hope that when he finds love that he has the wisdom to never do anything that would have her taken away from him. Oh, Narcissa, I will miss you forever.”
His body shook for a few seconds, but he fought it. He couldn’t bear to see Narcissa’s tears.
He looked away and then became like stone… like the prideful man that all would recognize.
“I am ready,” he announced to the henchman.
And just before he stepped into the vapory curtain that would end his life, Narcissa broke free from her keepers and screamed and ran to him.
With her hands still bound, she reached over his head to embrace her husband one last time.
“Kiss me my love,” she pleaded.
And as his lips met hers, the two embraced and then the most unexpected thing happened.
Narcissa looked at her husband.
He whispered, “I’m scared, love.”
“Then I shall go with you,” she gasped with wide eyes and fear for them both.
Before Lucius could protest, Narcissa lurched forward and pushed them both through the veil. And like a mist, they evaporated to their deaths, still clinging to each other.
Draco stood watching in shock and horror, but then his eyes moved to Hermione in her witness seat.
She was crying in disbelief and sadness with her head bowed down at the final act of love that she had just witnessed.
“Justice has been served,” the henchman bellowed.
Draco pushed himself up and out of the pensieve.
At first he seemed unaffected, but he was taking in the memory and allowing himself to accept what had happened.
Both his parents were now dead and the manner in whey they went, loving each other until the end was almost beautiful and certainly painful to watch... at least to him anyway.
"You should know that I spoke with your mother in a holding cell earlier yesterday. She had a message for you," Hermione added with sorrow and tears as she recalled the short conversation.
She explained to him what happened, but didn't want to show him the memory. Because Narcissa said something to her that she didn't want Draco to see.
Instead, she told him everything else, practically word for word as well as she could recall.
"Mrs. Malfoy," Hermione started gently. But Draco's mother did not acknowledge her or act as if she noticed she was there at all.
"A pirate's treasure," she remarked, hoping to get her attention. "A handful of gold scraps and an amethyst ring that he stole from your jewelry cabinet. That's what is behind the waterfall," Hermione said in a softened voice.
Narcissa turned to finally face her, recognizing the answer to her question from months ago.
"He told me to tell you that he loves you. He's fine and content. And he said that he believes that his sentence should've been worse."
"I'm glad he won't remember it," his mother finally answered in a voice that had the unmistakable sound of someone who'd been crying for a very long time.
Hermione didn't expect to have a conversation with the woman. As a reporter, she thought she was failing miserably at asking questions. But she realized that at the hour of someone's grief, it wasn't exactly the proper time to be asking such things. And so, she didn't.
"I remember you now. I didn't before. I saved your friend," Narcissa acknowledged finally. "Did you know this? I told Voldemort he was dead."
"Yes. I know. I hope you don't mind me asking, but why? Why would you do such a thing?"
"One day, when you have a child of your own... it is only then when you will be able to comprehend the bond between a mother and her son. Nothing... no creature, no magic, no Dark Lord will ever be able to take away a mother's love for her son," she paused for a moment and took a deep breath.
Hermione couldn't help but think of Lily and Harry... how a mother's love had saved a son.
"If you knew the way my son was a prisoner in our own home for years, then you could understand that the only way for him to be free was to have Voldemort's reign end. I did it for Draco in the hopes that one day he could have a life of freedom... Freedom from obligation, freedom from demons telling him what to do... Freedom from the dark clouds hovering over us. I am content now... in knowing that in a thousand day's time, he will know what freedom truly tastes like. He will breathe the free air and it will be sweet to him."
Hermione understood then and thought it strange that opinions about someone could be swayed with such a short conversation.
She also understood that she hadn't known the Malfoys at all.
She didn't have much time.
"Do you have a message that you would like me to relay to him?"
"Tell Draco that... that he was right all along and that I was wrong. The answer is most definitely 'Love.' He'll know what I mean."
Hermione stopped there. She would not tell Draco what his mother said after that.
Draco soaked up every word. His mother was dead and it was like a message from the grave... the last thing she would say to him.
He knew exactly what his mother was talking about. For they would have lengthy philosophical conversations between them. It was a way for her to teach him life lessons deemed worthy of passing along. That particular conversation touched on the most important things in life... a long list.
Draco had guessed 'Love' as the greatest, most important thing of all. But Narcissa had corrected him in his youth.
She told him the most important thing was 'Family Loyalty,' arguing that when all else is taken away... money, possessions, power... that the only thing you have left is family.
And now, knowing her husband was about to die, she had changed her mind.
Draco was right. The most important thing of all was Love.
Hermione wanted to hug him, but knew that it would abruptly end her visit and have the guards flying into the room and taking Draco away. She would have her pass revoked and would never be permitted to see him again.
She would not risk it.
So instead she reached into her coat pocket where she smuggled in something that she hoped wouldn’t be too terrible.
“Will you let me do something for you?”
He sat there unmoving as if he hadn’t heard her. His mind was scanning a thousand memories of his past as if his entire life was spinning in an uncontrollable dream… memories good and bad flashing as his eyes went staring blankly watching like a movie in front of him.
His eyes went watery as he tried to hold back the ocean waiting to spill out behind them.
She didn’t need an answer. She thought that she was the last person on his mind, but she wasn’t entirely correct.
She got up and moved around the table so that she could stand behind him.
And with careful fingers and a brave heart, she revealed what she had been hiding and began gently brushing out his long hair.
He leaned back into the chair and with his head bowed he closed his eyes and let his quiet tears fall like rain trickling down the windows of his soul.
She swallowed hard, hoping that the guards wouldn’t storm in and take the brush from her and ruin the moment… the moment that showed him just how much she truly cared for him.
She couldn’t hug him, but she could try to comfort him. And right then, it was the only thing that she could do to get close to him.
It was such a simple gesture really, but the enormity of the meaning of it was overwhelming.
Prison life had taken away his ability to do the simplest of things that a free person took for granted... like groom himself. His pride and dignity seemed non-existent.
It seemed she was taking care of him when he couldn't do so much as to take care of himself.
Why was she being so good to him, especially in the hour of great personal grief and sorrow? She didn't have to do any of it.
She took her time in slow deliberate movements; over and over again she brushed the length of the long blond strands.
And as she did this, Draco Malfoy cried silent tears for the loss of his parents, but also for the wonderfully kind and caring person standing behind him whose delicate touch made him melt into his seat.
It had been a very long time since he’d been touched by a woman, but this… this was different.
Different because it went beyond the sexual realm to a place where a soul was comforted and given peace that surpasses understanding.
Tears were shed for her because his heart was full of sorrow at what he had done to her for so many years and here she was doing the kindest thing that anyone had ever done.
And the worst part of it all was that at the end of his three year prison sentence, he wouldn’t remember it. The memory of it would be taken from him, just as his freedom had been taken away.
Obliviation of his memory of her would be the worst of the sentence… far worse than doing the time.
She noticed his tears, but continued her brushing, looking down at the newly made orphan with feelings of sorrow and love.
Her continued brushing had caused his hair to almost dry completely.
“If I could hug you, I would," she admitted quietly, hoping that he would find the sincerity that she felt in her heart.
“If I could kiss you, I would,” he returned without thinking that it might come as a shock to her.
He became aware when she abruptly paused her brushing for a few seconds. And when she came back to her senses, she began again.
But just as she paused, sudden thoughts of his parents shot through him.
She was a... a Mudlbood.
Apparently, old ways died hard.
He leaned forward then and she took that as her signal to stop her brushing.
She tucked the brush back into her coat.
“I no longer need your services. Thank you for all that you’ve done. You don’t know how sorry I am that I will not remember your undeserved kindness. You need not return to this wretched place,” he told her, wiping at his tear-streaked face.
This hurt her feelings a bit, but she understood.
They had started a business relationship and so it would end. His parents were dead and so that meant he no longer needed her for information on them.
“Okay,” she whispered quietly, nodding her head, about to cry for fear of not seeing him again.
She stood for a moment hoping that she would have some final words to say to him, but they wouldn’t come.
And so she picked up the pensieve and simply called out, “Guards.”
The door was opened to her and she walked out, never intending to return again.
She thanked them for the time they allowed and for not interrupting when she knew they could have. They weren’t normally gracious. The guards of Azkaban did not pity prisoners under any circumstances.
They did it for her.
Draco would learn many things in prison.
He learned how long he could go without speaking. He learned that the best way to escape prison life was to sleep or daydream. He learned how to alter memories by reliving them in his mind and then changing them to how he wished things would’ve played out. He learned the best way to deal with other prisoners was to avoid eye contact so he wouldn’t really see them.
He didn’t expect to learn of how much he could miss someone.
He didn’t expect to learn that when he tried to empty his mind of everything... his past, his present, who he was, and why he was there, that the only thing that remained was the feeling of Hermione Granger slowly brushing through his hair.
But what did it matter? He had a thousand more days... and at the end of it all, he wouldn't remember a single minute.
Which meant, he wouldn't remember what she did for him. And the feelings that he had for her that had grown immensely over the last several months would be completely wiped out.
Hermione had thought her conversation with Narcissa was over, but just before leaving the holding cell, his mother said something that stopped her in her tracks.
"You have feelings for him, don't you?" Narcissa asked suddenly.
Hermione didn't answer.
"I'd be cautious if I were you," Narcissa warned with eyebrow raised. "He won't remember a single thing of your visits. Nothing. He will think of you as the same filthy Mudblood that he knew from school. He'll only break your heart."
Her words inflicted the intended damage and Hermione knew what Draco's mother was playing at. She wished her son love and happiness and freedom eventually... just not with her.
Hermione Granger would never be good enough for Draco Malfoy.
"I know," she acknowledged just above a whisper before walking out.
Written for RingFelton97's Dramione Challenge ~ to write a Dramione story based on a specific spell. The spell that chose me was "Obliviate." Hope you enjoy it.
Please, please review. Good, bad, or indifferent. Let me know. I'd love to hear from you.
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