Chapter 1 : September 1, 1999
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It was warmer than usual for the time of year. The Leaky Cauldron was bustling with activity from witches and wizards coming to and from the muggle world. In an upstairs room, the sun was shining through an open window, causing the sleeping young man to stir. He got up out of bed and walked over to the window to look out at Diagon Alley. Things had calmed down since the war and many shops had opened back up.
The young man stepped back from the window and plopped back down on the bed. Today he would be going back to Hogwarts to complete his education. So much had changed. The thought of going to school and facing reality made him sick. Draco had been living in a room at the Leaky Cauldron since the end of the war, only leaving when he needed to. It was a much different lifestyle than he had been accustomed to, but for now, it suited him just fine.
Reluctantly, he dragged himself out of bed, packed his things, and made his way to King’s Cross Station. He had no family to wave goodbye to, and no friends to greet, so he got on the train and found an empty compartment.
The Burrow was unusually quiet. Mrs. Weasley was humming to herself while George sat at the table sipping coffee. Hermione and Ginny were the only ones who would be attending Hogwarts this year. Harry and Ron had joined the Aurors right after the Battle of Hogwarts, and much to Hermione’s displeasure, would not be completing their education. Since they were almost always working now, she had gotten closer with Ginny.
George had closed the joke shop for the day to accompany the girls to the station. Nobody had been the same since Fred’s passing, but George was completely lost without his twin. Hermione hated to leave him on the platform alone. He would now be the only Weasley child living at the Burrow, besides Ron who was never there anyway. She and Ginny both hugged him and waved until the train had pulled out of sight before sitting down at a table with Neville and Luna.
Despite having grown closer with Ginny over the summer, Hermione quickly became aware of the fact that she didn’t fit in. Ginny, Neville, and Luna were very good friends, much like she, Ron, and Harry had been before they left to become Aurors.
“I’m going to go for a walk, I’ll catch up with you guys later.” Hermione said as she got up from the table. Ginny nodded. She understood what Hermione was thinking but didn’t want to make her uncomfortable.
He couldn’t stand waiting anymore. The air on the train felt stuffy. He started to wonder if going back was such a good idea. People were scared of him, and the grotesque tattoo on his forearm didn’t help matters. He decided to go get some air and made his way to the back of the train. He was hardly paying attention to his surroundings when he stepped out onto the platform on the back of the train and slip the door closed, so it came as a surprise to him when he looked up and noticed he was not the only person who had come out for fresh air. Draco didn’t know why he was surprised to see her, of course she would be going back to finish school. Even though it had only been a couple months since their last encounter on the battlefield, she looked... older.
He had to get to the castle. His thoughts were running wild. Up until this point it had been all about survival. Just living, but it had been an empty life. Something snapped inside him. He no longer wanted to live in constant fear of death.
“Shit”, Draco faltered slightly before regaining his confidence and taking in his surroundings. Students were running everywhere and to nowhere in particular. They looked so young. “How could the Dark Lord target children? And why hasn’t anybody put a stop to it?” Draco was more sure now than he ever was. He would not become a man like his father, who let fear lead him to be a part a terrible things. These people, these students who were willing to stand up against such a large and evil force gave him the courage to choose which side of the war to fight with for himself. He would stop at nothing to finally be able to live a day without the fear it might be his last.
Harry Potter. He was the symbol of hope. He was the best shot anybody had at defeating Voldemort. Draco decided he needed to find him. He wasn’t sure why, but it felt like the best thing to do. He would tell Harry everything he knew of the enemy, so that they might be able to win the war. He saw a flash of red hair.
Ginny spun around and cast a curse in his direction, to which Draco managed to dodge.
“Wait!” Draco lifted his hands to show that he was not holding his wand, “I’m not going to hurt you. Please, I want to help. I need to fight the evil that has been controlling me for too long. Please. I need to find Potter. I have information that he needs.”
Ginny made a split decision to trust him, even though a part of her was screaming that it was a bad idea. She lowered her wand. “I don’t know where he is. He could be anywhere. Last I saw him he was searching for something that could help end You Know Who.”
“What is it? The thing he’s looking for?” Draco was getting desperate. Why was she being so vague.
“It might be Ravenclaw’s lost diadem.” Ginny was getting impatient. This conversation was taking longer than she would have liked, and she needed to get to the castle entrance to help with the battle.
“Might be!? What the hell does that mean?”
Ginny raised her wand again. “Look, I’ve told you all I know! You should just be happy that I trusted you rather than hexing you into oblivion! Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a war going on.”
Ginny turned and was lost among the crowd. Draco stood still and thought to himself for a moment. He was smart. If someone was looking for something that has been said to be lost, where would… the Room of Requirement. He took off at a sprint.
The room was quiet. Of course if the diadem was to be anywhere, it would be here. Maybe Potter hadn’t figured that much out yet. Then he heard the cursing. Every instinct told him to run away, hide, but he ignored them and ran towards the sound. He saw them. Potter, Granger, and Weasley, but there were two more people in between them and himself. Even from behind, he could tell who they were. His old Slytherin mates were going up against the trio, and since Draco was standing behind them, he would be seen as being on their side.
He felt trapped. Everything was happening so fast. All of the sudden, everything was on fire. “Just run. Just survive” thought Draco. There was nowhere to go. There was no escape. He climbed a pile of junk, but there was no point. Fire surrounded him. But then he noticed Potter and Weasley. Flying towards him.
“Grab on!” Potter yelled. Draco didn’t hesitate and he was pulled onto the broom behind Harry. He couldn’t believe it. Despite all of the cruel things he had done at the expense of these people, they still rescued him. When safely out of the room and back on the ground, Draco started to try to explain himself.
“I--I’m sorry. I want to help you. I can’t stand on the other side anymore. Please, let me help you.” Draco held eye contact with Harry. He was desperate, but he still had his pride.
“Your help would be appreciated. That would be one less deatheater to deal with out on the field. The best thing you can do is just not die.” Harry was blunt but Draco understood that he would just confuse things on the front line, but what could he do if he couldn’t help in the fight?
Almost as if she could hear his thoughts, Hermione spoke up, “Help within the castle. Protect younger students, heal injuries, those sort of things.”
And then they were gone and Draco was once again alone. But this time, he knew what he needed to do.
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