It was a chilly November morning. The sky overhead was dark and gloomy, full of large thunderclouds coloured an angry shade of grey. The sky grumbled and a streak of lightning flashed across the sky - a storm was coming. Despite of the dreadful weather, Diagon Alley was full of customers. They laughed, they chatted and they went about their daily lives in a way they hadn’t been able to do in a long time. Mingled with the claps of thunder were the ringing of bells and peals of laughter, sounds that Diagon Alley hadn’t heard in the past year.
Concealed by the crowd, a lone figure was prowling the streets, oblivious to the tiny flecks of rain pelting down on his platinum blonde hair. Draco Malfoy walked slowly, his head hung low, trying to blend in with the crowd. He didn’t know where he was going; all he wanted to do was escape the prison that was his own home.
“That’s him, isn’t it? The Death Eater who tried to kill Dumbledore?”
“Nasty family if you ask me.”
“Entire family were Death Eaters I hear. I’m disappointed they were not chucked into Azkaban where they belong.”
Wherever he went, people tried to stay as far away as possible from him. Whenever they realized who he was, they veered away. Some of them pointed and stared, while others whispered to one another, throwing dirty glares in his direction. However, whenever he looked up to tell them something, they scurried away as fast as they could, as if he would spurt poison at them any moment.
Stupid, saint Potter, he thought, kicking a small rock with all his might. The stone went and hit a dustbin which toppled over, clanging loudly, spewing its contents all over the floor. The witches who had been whispering moments ago all yelped and rushed away, shaking their heads. It was all Potter’s fault that he was treated like this. The almighty Harry Potter just had to play the hero, once again. Had Potter expected that by telling the Wizengamot to spare them his family would be allowed to live with their heads held high like before? Well, he was wrong, then. The Malfoy name was mud and Draco and his parents were treated like filth by the rest of the wizarding society.
Rain started to pour down. People squealed and headed for cover, whereas those who had enough sense to bring their umbrellas immediately opened them. Draco, who was among the former, cursed and quickly thrust open the door of the shop he was standing beside. The bell overhead chimed as Draco stepped inside, shaking his head to get rid of the water.
He immediately crinkled his nose. The shop was small and musty, smelling strongly of wood polish. Dusty shelves on every wall were stacked with photo frames of all shapes and sizes, all of which contained moving pictures of people and animals. There was no one around.
i>Tap. Tap. Tap. Rain hammered against the glass windows, the noise echoing around the small room. He decided to Apparate back to the manor. Staying in Diagon Alley would be useless; he couldn’t go outside anymore due to the heavy downpour. As Draco looked over at the window in annoyance, his eyes fell upon a small object. At first glance it seemed innocent, sitting quietly on the windowsill. But as Draco stared at it, it let out a wisp of purple smoke.
Draco’s eyes widened. It was a magical camera. His mind reeled backwards to the small Muggleborn boy, always following Potter around like a little puppy behind his master, a camera clutched in his hands.
Draco staggered backwards. Without a warning, he felt himself being tugged back to the past, back to the Battle of Hogwarts.
May 2nd, 1998
His muscles ached as he ran as fast as he could, away from the battle and the Death Eaters. He wondered where Goyle was - somehow he had managed to lose him in all the ruckus.One second he had been running behind Draco and the next moment he was gone.
Sensing a battle ensuing up ahead, Draco screeched to a halt and ran back the way he came from. He needed to head to safety. Raising his hand to his forehead, he wiped away the sweat. His face was clammy and full of grime and debris from the episode in the Room of Hidden Things. Memories of Crabbe burning in the Fiendfyre rushed back into his head and he felt a pang of sorrow.
He didn’t care who would win or lose; all he wanted to do was get out of this place alive so that he could go back to living peacefully again.
“Come out, come out, children, so many throats left to rip...”
Draco froze. He knew that raspy voice: it was Fenrir Greyback, and it sounded like he was right around the corner. Surely, Greyback wouldn’t care who was on his side or not as long as he could bite into someone’s neck. Draco’s stomach lurched at the thought. As quietly as he could, he slipped through one of the secret passages that led him up one floor, determined to stay as far away from Greyback as possible.
He started to run again. He met no one except Rookwood, whom he’d managed to convince that he was on their side by showing him the Dark Mark burned into his flesh. Instructing Draco to kill any Mudblood he could get his hands on, Rookwood dashed away with a sickening smirk on his grubby face. Draco wondered how many children Rookwood had killed in his path.
Sweating, Draco ran up one flight of stairs and paused, trying to catch his breath. He looked out of the window; the courtyard was ablaze with jets of multicoloured light. Streaks of light flew haphazardly in every direction. Every now and then, he’d see a flash of green light, sometimes missing its intended target, sometimes hitting them. It looked like some strangely choreographed show to him. As he watched, there was a loud grumbling noise followed by an explosion that blew apart one side of the courtyard, leaving a huge miasma of smoke in its wake. He wondered where his parents were, whether they were still alive or not. Hoping that they were somewhere safe, Draco started running again.
Suddenly, he felt the ground being yanked away from his feet and he landed roughly on the ground, knocking his chin on the hard stone floor, causing his teeth to clank against each other. Looking back to see what he’d tripped on, he noticed that it was a body.
A chill ran through Draco’s veins as he noticed the amount of blood covering the body. It was tiny; Draco guessed that he must still be a Hogwarts student. Slowly, he stood up and walked back to see if the person was still alive. He crouched down near the person’s face and saw, to his relief, that he was still alive.
The boy, who didn’t look much younger than Draco, looked up at him pleadingly, his brown eyes looking straight into Draco’s grey ones. Draco recognised the boy; it was Creevey, the boy who always used to follow Potter everywhere with a camera. He had been petrified back in Draco’s first year - which meant the boy was a Muggleborn. Draco tried to stand back up, deciding to leave the boy behind. He didn’t deserve to go to Hogwarts, anyway.
Draco was shocked to hear his voice so weak that he actually stopped walking.
“Please, Malfoy. Get... help. Or... st-stay here... ”
“What makes you think I’m gonna stay with a - a -” He couldn’t bring himself to say the word. He was astounded to see how frail the boy had become. His leg was bent in an odd angle, and his face was full of dark gashes. Thick, red blood covered almost every inch of his robes.
“Malfoy, You’ll still... still diff-differenc...iate between us? Can’t you see, ev-even now?” He spoke with so much pain in his voice that Draco was forced to listen. Creevey drew in long, laboured breaths, wheezing through his words. “We’re both human, Malfoy...”
“No, you’re a Muggleborn,” Draco heard himself say.
Creevey shook his head. “No, Malfoy... please, listen to me. Look at... look at what this... prejudice has le-led to. This war... it’s not worth it, M-Malfoy. So many... so many are dying. Purebloods, Half-bloods, all... all are dying. Is it worth it?” Creevey stopped as a coughing fit washed over him. Wiping his mouth with his grimy sleeve, he continued, “Its no-not about Wizards and Muggles. They.... they’re both human. We both have... the same flesh, same b-bones. Most of all, we... we both have a heart. A heart that keeps us... alive.”
Draco listened. He didn’t know how Creevey talked so wisely, despite of being so much younger than him. He paused, gasping for breath. Draco stared at him, frowning, wondering why Creevey was here, why he was fighting though he knew he’d lose.
“We’re the same, Malfoy,” he gasped, his chest heaving. Draco felt like he was being stabbed. “Look at me: what dif-differenced do you see? Look... at these scars...” he motioned to his body, to his broken leg, to the gashes on his face. “I bleed, just like you. I feel... pain, like you. Then what is it, Malfoy, th-that sets... sets us apart?”
“You are a Mu-Muggleborn,” Draco repeated, though deep inside he knew those were empty words.
Creevey laughed humourlessly, wincing as pain seared through his body. “Blood? Tell me... is yo-your blood any darker than... mine? Do you... do you have more blood that I do?”
Draco looked away. He had no answer.
“Then Why, Malfoy, do you... do you diff-differenciate us by b-blood? We are wizards, Mal...foy. And mo-most import...antly, we’re both human. Please, Malfoy... I kn-know that you don’t believe it either... You’d h-have killed me long ago if you... if you did.”
Creevey smiled at him weakly, and Draco couldn’t help but look at him in pity. The boy had spoken well, and Draco couldn’t help but think that, however corny it might have sounded, he was right. He stood up and, against his will, reached out his hand towards the boy. For the first time in his life, Draco felt that he was doing something right. Creevey broke into a bloody grin and stretched out his hand towards Draco...
For a split second, Draco had a feeling that something was horribly wrong.
“NO!” Draco yelled. It was no use; the jet of green light enveloped Creevey. As soon as it came, it had gone. Creevey was lying on the ground, facing upwards, a look of horror etched on his young face. His wide, blank eyes stared at a point somewhere behind Draco.
Shaking, Draco turned his neck backwards to see who it was.
“Sorry to take away your moment, Draco,” sneered Yaxley, twirling his wand in his fingers. “You did a good job, cornering him like that. Come on now, the Dark Lord wants all his Death Eaters fighting.” Throwing a disgusted look at Creevey’s direction, Yaxley turned his back towards Draco and started to walk away.
For a moment, Draco wanted so badly to say something, to stun Yaxley, to hurt him for murdering someone like that. Whatever Draco was, he could never kill someone. He couldn’t kill Dumbledore that night, and he certainly wasn’t capable of murdering a child. He wanted so badly to do something.
But that moment had passed. Yaxley had turned a corner and vanished, and Draco was left alone with Creevey’s body. Draco was disgusted at himself. He was a coward, a good-for-nothing person capable of doing nothing but cowering behind someone’s back. All his life, he could only bully those younger than him, and even now he couldn’t stand up for himself or anyone else. He was a coward.
Draco looked at the broken body lying on the floor, staring blankly up at the ceiling. Slowly, Draco reached for Creevey’s eyes and shut them. It was the least he could do. Resisting the urge to vomit, he stood up and ran away from there as fast as he could, gasping for breath, not once looking back.
“Excuse me, may I help you?”
Draco felt himself being dragged back to the present. He was still standing there in that musty old shop. The rain had stopped.
He looked at the man who had spoken; it was the shop keeper. When Draco made eye contact, the man looked away, his eyes wide.
“No, I was... I was just going.” Taking one last look at the camera, which was innocently giving off wisps of purple smoke, he ran out of the shop as fast as he could.
A few days later, Draco found himself in front of a tombstone.
devoted son, beloved brother, caring friend and brave hero.
Their toils are past, their work is done and they are fully blessed.
They fought the fight and victory won and entered into rest.
Those who fight for freedom are warriors. Those who die for freedom are heroes.
He had been thinking of coming here for a while, but now that he was here, Draco didn't know what to say. He stood there for a long time, pondering over what to say. Many a times, he opened his mouth to speak, but he couldn't find the right words.
In the end he conjured a wreath of white poinsettia and laid it on top of the grave.
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
As a warm breeze started to blow, rustling through the leaves, Draco thought he heard the softest of whispers. Looking up at the sky, Draco suddenly felt that a huge burden had been lifted off his chest. Taking one last look at the grave, he closed his eyes and Disapparated.