Draco Malfoy had been a prince. He was the heir to the wealthiest, and arguably most powerful, bloodline of the wizarding world. His father’s name alone had caused some to shiver in fear. He had led the superior house of Slytherin; no one had dared to question him. He was respected by all like-minded Purebloods for his family’s favour with the Dark Lord. Merely a year ago, he had believed himself to be above all others.
A year later, he was a pauper.
He was friendless and alone, being led on a leash to follow a path pre-determined for him. A path leading to a life-time of serving a ruthless, power-hungry killer who cared for no one, and disposed of those loyal to him without hesitation. Draco was bred for this, raised for this, conditioned to perfection for this.
And he accepted it. Growing up, his one truth was his superiority to all others. It was his blood-right. He was to succeed his father as the right-hand man to the one individual whose name held more power than his. He was to be a prince. He was taught to mask his emotions before he even held his wand. Propriety was bred into him instead of love or warmth. And he was proud of it.
Draco was his father’s son; he was proud of it. Draco belonged to a name so powerful, it was untouchable; he was proud of it. Draco wanted to be his father; and he was proud of it.
Until that fateful day.
It was the day that Potter and his little friends defeated members of the Inner Circle of Death Eaters who were merciless killers chosen for their ruthlessness by the Dark Lord himself. It was the day when innocent 15 year olds fighting for the light defeated those with years of experience in the Dark Arts. It was the day when Potter’s godfather almost died; the day when the Dark Lord returned to wizarding Britain; the day his father was defeated.
The day his father was sent to Azkaban.
He remembered seeing his father’s picture in the Daily Prophet, capturing the moment when he was herded like a common sheep to the unbreakable prison with the rest of his “friends,” condemned by society. He remembered how his family name, always upheld at the pinnacle of wizarding society, plummeted to the ground, unsalvageable after being dragged so deep in the dirt. He remembered the tears of his mother as she regretted her husband’s decision to follow the power-crazy madman, signing off his and his family’s future to serve rather than lead.
He remembered. He would never forget.
And finally, after years of following blindly, he wondered. For once, he thought for himself.
Every night since that day – every time he lay in bed – he thought. He analysed.
The conclusions he reached shocked him.
Tentatively at first, he questioned his father’s choice to follow a man who gave him no respect, who treated him, a Malfoy, as inferior. Why, if their family name was to be held in pride and respected by all, was he below another man – one who commanded others with fear, torture and contempt.
Hesitant, he wondered why his father would want to follow the orders of any other man rather than lead in his rightful position.
Troubled, he questioned why, his father, a Pureblood, would fall to the knees of the Dark Lord, a Half-blood.
Spurred on by the shame of his family’s fall from grace, he asked why if Purebloods commanded power in their blood, the Dark Lord held more power than the most Pureblooded family in wizarding Britain; why he was stronger than his father; why he was stronger than him.
He thought. He analysed. And he didn’t like the conclusions he came to.
He was confused.
His faith was shaken. His family was not untouchable – as proven by the condemnation from society. His father was not as powerful as he believed – Potter and his friends had defeated him!
He was not a Prince. He was just Draco Malfoy. And Malfoy did not mean the same as it had a week before.
Why was he not more powerful than Potter, the Half-blood, if he was Pureblooded? Why was he not smarter than Granger, the Mudblood? Why did the Weasel, a blood-traitor, have a family with stronger influence in society than his, a revered Pureblood?
It didn’t make sense.
He didn’t like it.
Every day since his father’s arrest, he thought. The more he thought, the more agitated he became with the hypocrisy of his upbringing; the more uncertain he became of his beliefs; the more helpless he felt.
Which is why every day since his father’s arrest, after tossing and turning, he got out of bed after everyone had fallen asleep and went for a walk around Hogwarts. The majestic beauty of the castle at night calmed his thoughts, allowing him some respite from his identity-crisis. The tranquillity of the lake became a haven, the stillness of the water corresponding with the much-needed stillness of his mind. The occasional ripples and waves seemed to represent his state perfectly; the externally emotionless, calm and superior mask of Malfoy was being shaken from the inside.
He sat there for hours, finally peaceful.
He, Draco Malfoy, relished in the opportunity to be a nobody, even for just a few hours.
It was during one of these hours on one of these days that she came to him.
He had been curled up in front of a tree, using its trunk to hold him upright as he stared across the lake to the Forbidden Forest. As he usually did after the first half an hour, he was ready to close his eyes to rest in the soothing atmosphere.
He hadn’t heard her come up to him; her feet hadn’t caused any noise as they treaded across the dew-covered grass. Wordlessly, she had sat next to him. It was only when she had touched his hand with hers that he became aware of her presence.
He had been convinced she was a dream, a phantom of his imagination to ward away the pit of loneliness that had developed since he was cast away by the rest of the Slytherins. As he turned his eyes slowly, he was shocked at the image before him.
Leaning into him, had been the Gryffindor Princess and Mudblood extraordinaire, Hermione Granger herself.
He knew his hand should have recoiled on instinct, burning from the disgusting touch of a Mudblood’s tainted flesh. He knew he should have hurled violent insults at her, taken pleasure in watching her flinch at his hurtful words. He knew, at that moment, that he should have hated her.
But he couldn’t: he was too tired.
Tired of the hypocrisy, the pain, the false promises that he had been fed.
He wasn’t sure – so he didn’t act. He simply closed his eyes and continued to rest, soothed by his haven, as a Mudblood held his hand in comfort.
And for those few moments of peace, he hadn’t cared in the slightest.
Dawn approached. The first ray of sunshine broke free of the clouds and canopy of the forest, bathing the two enemies in its golden hue. What an unusual sight they were, both battered and bruised, one physically, from a recent date with death, another mentally, having the foundation of his entire life shattered.
The warm blanket of the sun encircled them.
The princess had awoken first. Lifting her head from his shoulder – must have landed there when they slept – she disentangled her arm from around his torso. The disruption caused the prince to stir, breaking his mirage of calm dreams.
As he regained his bearings, he watched silently as the Mudblood calmly stretched her muscles. When she turned her head, she met his grey eyes, holding his gaze. He could only assume that she had found what she was looking for, for after a few seconds, with a nod of her head, she simply stood up and with a final squeeze of his hand, walked away towards the castle.
He had come to a decision: he was confused.
Why was it that, in the dark of night, a Mudblood’s touch had been no different to that of any other? Last night, she had been a woman who had comforted him. Her presence hadn’t disgusted him. She had been just another witch.
When his own house had shunned him, a Mudblood had come to his rescue. With the loss of his family’s status came the loss of his reign over the Slytherins - his fall from grace of epic proportions. Those who had previously cowered in fear looked at him with a sneer. Others refused to look at all, choosing to ignore him instead, trying to fool themselves into believing that he didn’t actually exist. When his own had abandoned him, he had let himself be comforted by the mere presence of a Mudblood.
Oh how the mighty had fallen.
What shocked him was that, just like last night, he didn’t care. Even when he was wide awake, he was too tired to give a damn about what she was.
She was a witch. She had helped him. She was a Mudblood.
It was strange when the last sentence didn’t illicit a response from him.
He was truly indifferent.
Yesterday, he had gone from being furious to confused to completely uncertain.
Today, he felt betrayed.
Betrayed by an extremist ideology that had done him no benefit in the long run. Betrayed by the hunger for power that consumed the rest of his “kind.” Betrayed by those he had foolishly believed were his friends.
There were no friends amongst Death Eaters. Similarly, there were no friends amongst their offspring. Crabbe and Goyle had flocked Nott the moment they heard the news. They joined the faces that ignored his existence entirely. Parkinson had found a new man to consume, whoring herself for his power instead.
Only one had acknowledged him: Blaise Zabini. And that was only with a nod of his head as he walked past. Zabini was polite to everyone; it was expected.
He sat alone at the corner of the table at Great Hall for his meals. He worked alone in his lessons, unless forcibly paired with someone. Even then they never spoke, working with quiet co-ordination.
The fact was, he was alone.
The Slytherin Prince had truly fallen from his throne.
Yet, the only thing that mattered was that, for the first time since that fateful day, he felt… content. No, that was the wrong word – normal. Human.
When he had been alienated by his people and house, the presence of a Mudblood – one he had bullied and alienated for years – had made him feel human again. As if he still mattered. As if he was still Draco Malfoy and not a nameless face that had been long forgotten.
And for that he was grateful. To a Mudblood.
Merlin’s Beard, he was confused.
With that, he walked to the castle, returning to the world where he was either a no-one or the scum of the Earth. All the while, he wished to be alone again, looking at the tranquillity of the Lake for guidance.
During the day, in the classes they shared, they acted no different. He still sneered at her and taunted her, insulting her heritage as it was her only flaw. She still bristled and answered back with appropriate malice, remaining true to her feisty character.
No one would have suspected that they had spent the night in each other’s arm, quietly comforting the raging thoughts in both their minds.
And no one could have possibly guessed that they had both returned the next night and the nights after that, gazing at the stillness of the lake, mute, disregarding each other’s presence, except their linked hands that lay between them.
A week later, it was morning again. Giving his hand a customary squeeze, she was about to withdraw back to the Castle when, for the first time, he squeezed back. Slowly, almost cautiously, he opened his eyes. Once cold and cruel, his grey orbs swam with more emotion than she ever remembered. Unable to tear her eyes away from the depths of his, she stared back, looking for any signs of how to proceed.
A few minutes passed.
As if he hadn’t just woken up with a stiff back from sleeping on the forest floor, he rose gracefully, his tall frame towering over hers. She inclined her delicate face to follow his movements.
Not once had his eyes left hers.
They kept darting back and forth between her chocolate circles, looking for answers to questions she couldn’t comprehend. The intensity of his search surprised her but she didn’t cower under his scrutiny, portraying every inch of her confident aura.
After a long moment, he nodded, satisfied.
“What do you want, Granger?” he asked, his voice hoarse with sleep.
Glad to finally hold a conversation with her partner for the past week, she relaxed her stance, smiling slightly.
“Sleep well, Draco?” she replied, ignoring his question entirely.
Her use of his given name had shocked him. She could tell by the way his right eyebrow gave a barely noticeable twitch.
For once, Draco Malfoy was completely unsure how to act around a Mudblood.
He settled for asking the question that had been bugging him throughout the past week.
“Because I wanted to. And you needed it,” was her confident reply.
It seemed as though nothing else needed saying. Although he could think of a fair few answers he would love to demand of her, it just didn’t seem necessary.
So, he simply nodded. Looking down at their linked hands, he gave her hand a final squeeze before releasing it. With a nod and another soft smile back, she turned and walked back to the castle, leaving him standing alone, contemplating what to do next.
He was sure of one thing though. He was no longer confused.
It seemed the Gods above had made the decision for him.
And that had been the start of their friendship.
Neither had known that little over a year later, they would become each other’s lifeline, their shared experiences binding them in an unbreakable bond. They hadn’t known that they would comfort each other in their time of need, much like she had comforted him back then.
It had been the start of a beautiful friendship, so strong that it was often hard to tell that they had been enemies little over a year ago.
If only their friendship had grown over better circumstances. If only their friendship could inspire others to hold onto the better things in life in the time of war.
Although impossibly strong, their friendship that grew became a secret to the majority of people around them. Only in their sanctuary or their chambers, could they be normal – be friends.
To the outside world, they still hated each other. They even gained great amusement from staging mock fights.
Now, in the present, as she walked towards their shared chambers, Hermione – the Head Girl – was afraid they would soon be fighting a real one.
AN: Hope you enjoyed that chapter. Please review and let me know what you thought :) Thank you for reading ~Kay