He didn’t know who had conjured back the four House tables but he did realise that no one sat where they usually sat. The Slytherin table was no more, a few students from different Houses were huddled together, and leaning on each other while tears fell down their faces.
A bit farther down the end, where he had sat the previous year surrounded with all his friends, some older people he did not recognize were talking rapidly and heatedly. They fell silent when they saw him staring, he wondered if this would happen more often now that Voldemort had been defeated.
At the other side of the table, where he had first sat down after the Sorting Hat had sorted him into his House, his mother and father sat so close and so quietly that it seemed they wanted to blend into the wall behind them. He knew why they felt this way, he did not feel at home here anymore and he knew they were only waiting for him before they could decide if they’d be going home.
Draco whispered before realising he could not go home; his childhood home had been the headquarters of Voldemort and his Death Eaters. They would not be allowed to go in, not for several weeks at least. Would they even be allowed to go anywhere freely anymore? It came as a shock to realise that he would probably be in Azkaban very soon. He had always thought the Malfoy name to be invincible. However Potter had proved that not even Voldemort was, how could he still believe that his family was.
‘Dra-co, dear. Sit down please.’
His mothers voice cracked around the last syllable of his name and then betrayed her, she sounded afraid.
Sitting down Draco felt the familiarity of sliding his legs over the bench underneath the table, squished in between his parents, a protective cocoon of the two people who loved him most. He had never received such public affection and it made him feel weak and strong at the same time, his mind and heart tugging at different ends of a cord.
‘Draco, we have to tell you something.’
His fathers voice had always been strong and confident when he was younger, before he had gone to Azkaban and before he fell from grace. After Voldemort had demanded he join the Death Eaters ranks he had hoped to hear his fathers strong and confident voice telling him that he was doing the right thing. That everything would be okay because he was a Malfoy and he’d get everything he needed and wanted because of that.
After the burn from the Death Mark had long gone and his father had broken out of Azkaban he had known he finally had made him proud. Instead of a strong and confident voice only a whisper had remained, it was the same whisper that escaped his father’s lips now.
His thoughts were so far away it took moments before he realised his mother’s cheeks were stained with tear tracks, they mapped out roads to nowhere on her dirtied face. Immediately panic spread from his heart to the tips of his toes and fingers, different scenarios of curses and hexes hitting one of his parents came to mind.
‘Why are you crying, Mother?’
‘Oh Draco, it’s so terrible.’
Those were the only words his mother could muster to speak before the tears came back in tenfold and rendered her speechless.
‘Draco, last night before the Dark Lord asked Potter to join him in the Forbidden Forest he had a meeting with Severus.’
He had never heard his father choke on words before, he had heard him stuttering when Voldemort demanded he relinquish his wand so that he could duel Potter, but now he choked on Professor Snape’s name as if it caused him great pain to speak of him.
‘I know you didn’t hear Potter’s speech to the Dark Lord, but it seems that because you Disarmed Dumbledore before Severus killed him that you were the rightful owner of the Elder Wand and not Severus. Also because Potter forcefully took your wand away at the Manor he became then the next owner of the Elder Wand. However the Dark Lord did not know this, so he…’
‘Why are you telling me all this, Voldemort is dead. I don’t care about an Elder Wand, aren’t you afraid of being thrown into Azkaban again?’
He didn’t understand all this talk about wands and ownerships, it only reminded him of his mother’s wand in his sleeve and that Potter still had his. He wondered if it would still work if he ever got it back, Potter had said something along the same thing his father just did. That wand could switch owners but he wondered how that magic worked if it did at all, it seemed pretty ridiculous that wands had minds of their own.
Tears’ still streaming over her cheeks his mother reaches towards his hair, tucking it behind an ear and stroking his cheek with a thumb. A habit formed to console his tears away, when he had been a little boy crying because he had fell from his first toy broom and had scabbed his knee. When he was older sobbing when his grandfather had died from Dragon Pox in the privacy of his bedroom so his father wouldn’t see.
His mother always knew how to comfort him, how to make him stop crying without him feeling like a failure afterwards, his mother had always been able to take away any pain that filtered through the cracks of the walls that held up his Malfoy pride.
His mother chocked out the name of his favourite Professor, Draco didn’t know if he would have survived the last year in the Manor without the visits of his former Head of House. Professor Snape had been protecting him last school year even when he didn’t want any protection at all, even after yelling at Snape and blaming him for his father’s capture.
‘Draco, we have been debating on how to tell you this. This is hard to hear for you as well for us, Severus was a dear friend of the family. He …’
‘Wait. Was. What do you mean was? He’s not…’
That is the moment where all the puzzle pieces fall into place and an iron cold fist squeezes Draco’s heart so tight he might die from the sheer force of the emotions that grip him so unexpectedly.
‘Love, calm down.’
Draco had not realised that he started squeezing his mother’s hand, it seemed the force around his heart had lead him strength for his mother was wincing at his painful grip. Trying to loosen his fingers he looked at his father for an explanation, a good reason as to why Professor Snape had died when it seemed that he could outsmart even Dumbledore.
‘The Dark Lord killed Severus, he had reason to believe that it would make him the true owner of the Elder Wand. It seems that He was not satisfied with how the wand worked or he would have not killed Severus.’
He feels numb for a second, it’s not just because Severus Snape is death, his mentor gone but realisation that it would have been him if Voldemort had known the entire truth.
Grief hits him next, he would describe it as being hit by a Bludger, your muscles tensing up for impact and the wind getting knocked out of you, and it doesn’t hurt for a few seconds then your body catches up with your head and it hurts so much more than you thought it would.
He thinks back to the summer before his first year at Hogwarts, Severus Snape saying goodbye after dinner telling him he’ll be Sorted into Slytherin without a doubt and that it is the noblest House of all.
Another memory follows that one; he’s in the Great Hall and sees Severus Snape, Professor Snape sitting at the High Table. Then he hears Professor McGonagall calling his name and he wondered where everyone else before him has gone, walking towards the stool and the Sorting Hat hasn’t even touched his head before he hears the words he’s been dreaming of since he was six years old.
It’s not hard to feel smug and walk towards the Slytherin table, when he sits down however he sneaks a glance at Professor Snape. Their eyes meet and he knows Professor Snape is pleased, he is as well and can’t wait to write home, so he can please his father as well.
Another one plays out in front of him, he’s standing in front of his cauldron the instructions are written on the board and his textbook is propped against a big jar, open on the requested page. He’s not sure in what year they were asked to brew a Shrinking Solution but he’s doing well it seems as Professor Snape is praising his potion to the whole class.
When everyone else is again hunched over his or her textbooks or steering in their cauldron he looks up and their eyes meet. He knows this praise is real and Professor Snape is actually proud of him, it almost means as much as when his father tells him he is proud.
In the summer before his fifth year a letter arrives that seems to be Hogwarts-related much earlier than the official letters should arrive, it’s Professor Snape writing him to congratulate him on making Prefect. He is secretly thrilled that his Head of House writes him personally, even more so when the official letter arrives and the signature isn’t Severus Snape’s but Deputy Headmistress McGonagall’s.
He remembers standing on the stone floor of the Astronomy Tower, underneath him a fight going on he started but certainly can’t finish. Albus Dumbledore’s wand lays forgotten on the floor and his owner is shivering and unsteady on his legs, talking away about how Draco shouldn’t do this, that he can fix this.
As if the old man can fix everything, this is something unfixable, the Dark Mark is there and it will always be, he’s seen too much to not finish this task. He blinks and he’s not sure if it was just seconds or minutes but Professor Snape is standing behind him and he feels sort of relieved.
He blinks a second time and it’s over, Professor Dumbledore is falling backwards leaving his eyesight and he’s being dragged down the stairs, through the castle, over the grounds and he wishes he had said goodbye to his home away from the Manor. Wondering if he ever can come back and what about Professor Snape, he had been protecting him all this time. He should have known better than to listen to his aunt Bellatrix, Professor Snape had always been looking over him.
It takes a few seconds before he realises he’s sitting in between his parents, they are almost protecting him from the outside world, except the hurt isn’t coming from there but from inside. Another few seconds pass and he feels his mother’s thumb on his cheek and tears dripping on his hand. His father’s features seem blurry and it are his tears that are dripping down from his cheeks to his hands.
Quickly his hands take away most of them, he tries to hide the fact that Professor Snape’s dead has affected him so much, more than he thought it would.
His voice catches on too late and it seems forced but it’s better than showing more weakness. They are after all in public and the Malfoy pride takes precedence, always.
It’s a word he’s never heard in this affiliation before, not from his father at least. It turns his world upside down again, like his mother trying to save him even if it means defying Voldemort, and his father letting him mourn in public. Everything seems wrong in his world but it had never felt more right, more just.
‘Can I see him?’
He had not thought of it, only while he spoke the words he realised that he needed to see Professor Snape again.
To make sure that it was true, the world he lived in is filled with magic, seeing something with your own eyes doesn’t always mean it is real, the same can be said for words and even memories.
He wonders if he needs to see him because it would make it real, he thinks it doesn’t matter. His mother’s tears and his father’s words make it real. He needs to say goodbye, from his parents’ friend, from his favourite Professor, from his Head of House, from his fellow Slytherin, from his protector and most importantly from his mentor. That’s why he needs to see him, to make sure Professor Snape gets a proper goodbye from him.
He didn’t realise how much Severus Snape had influenced his life until it had been to late, he had still been alive but the Dark Mark had already found it’s place on his left arm. His mission had been delivered and he had been desperate to redeem his family’s name, trying to find a way out so his father could come back to the Manor. Mostly he wanted his father to take his rightful place again, he did not want to be a Death Eater but appearances are everything.
He does not know what would have become of him if Severus Snape had not killed Professor Dumbledore and helped him back to the Manor. For some reason it had not backfired as much as he had thought it would when Severus first tried to offer his help. He had been petrified and angry, mostly angry that his father was imprisoned in Azkaban and that Severus Snape was still walking around Hogwarts as if it did not matter, as if his father deserved the imprisonment.
Draco’s world had crumbled down when it had happened and he had been certain Professor Snape would come by the Manor and explain what the Death Eaters would do to free his father and the others. When he didn’t, he resolved on doing this on his own. He would become the Malfoy patriarch until his father returned and care for his mother, makes sure he’d have enough N.E.W.T.’s so he could follow in his father’s footsteps. So that he could become successful like his father and his grandfather before that.
His plan was thwarted when Voldemort requested Draco would take his father’s place in his close Death Eater circle. He had been terrified and cried in the privacy of his room the night before his initiation, that morning he felt like his future would not hold studying for N.E.W.T.’s or anything else of the sort.
The hardest part of replacing his father had been the cries of his mother deep in the night after his aunt Bellatrix had spoken to quickly about his task. He had tried to conceal it from her, hide it away in his mind so he wouldn’t have to think of it until he was on his way to Hogwarts.
Later after the Astronomy Tower he would learn about the Unbreakable Vow and realise that Professor Snape’s offer to help had also meant keeping himself alive. He wasn’t sure how much of it was protecting his student and how much of it was self-preservation. Slytherin trades came up in times of dire need and it was hard not to let them protect you and you alone.
After that it became too dangerous to write to Professor Snape or even try to have a meeting with the new Headmaster of Hogwarts. He found it difficult not to confide in him now that it was clear Professor Snape was protecting him, and it became clear that Snape had not just tried to save his own life.
Draco wondered how his life had turned out this way a lot in the days before the Final Battle would occur. He had been so proud of his father’s and his own views on Blood Purity and proper conduct for wizards and witches of certain ancestry when he had been eleven.
The taller he grew and the world around him changed and grew as well, Potter thwarted with Voldemort’s plans as much as he could and it seemed inconceivable that someone his own age could be more powerful.
Of course the views in Slytherin House did not change, his parents friends were still those who had also escaped Azkaban the first time around and they would still laugh and joke about a better world in the safety of the Manor’s parlour.
It was not until a few hours after the Dark Mark was burned into his skin that he realised he had underestimated the actions that would now have to accompany the words he had been hearing and speaking since he was a mere toddler. The gravity of it all weighed on his shoulders and soon he could see it in his mother’s eyes, they were duller and seemed empty when aunt Bellatrix would speak of the plans the Dark Lord had laid out for him.
When his father returned, a hollow shell of the man he used to be, the weight did not lift and more just seem to add to it. His father had not been up to standard and he didn’t want to be, so the only thing to do was to try and blend in. Severus Snape seemed to be able to handle the actions that accompanied Voldemort’s words but Snape also seemed to see right through Draco’s mask.
Something was waiting for him on his nightstand when he came back to his room. Voldemort had just left the Manor after using the Killing Curse on Professor Burbage, Nagini had slithered on the table and that was when Draco had finally given up and closed his eyes. He didn’t know which were worse, the sounds the snake made while trying to devour the body in it’s whole or the jeers and laughing from his fellow Death Eaters around the table.
A Calming Draught and a Sleeping Draught stood like presents in the candle light, ready for him to use. Relief flooded over him and he was pleased his mother had thought about them, he didn’t know if he could survive a night like this one without them. A note lay next to the phials, as if they were not connected to each other but after reading he knew his mother had not thought to prevent a restless night.
We can resume your private potion lessons when I am back in a week. We shall work on the work you would be learning in your seventh year at Hogwarts until the 30th of August. During the year I expect you to study by yourself and I will review your work and progress during the holidays.
Weeks after the final battle, days after Serverus Snape had been laid to rest; Draco was reading the letter he had received from a Ministry official. He would be inheriting Severus Snape’s books about potions and brewing them; everything else was going to Hogwarts. A small smile formed when he thought back to the last potion he had brew for Snape to review, his Draught of Peace had earned him an O.