"If you want to know how to cope with frightening burdens, I can help you. I can tell you exactly how to do it." A Draco character sketch, set during and immediately after his sixth year
A/N: This is my first fic in a long time, and my first Harry Potter fic in even longer. It's a simple character sketch of Draco, during and post "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince." I would like to thank my beta, Alex, who was super fast and wonderful. I'll admit to loving reviews, including concrit.
Warning: This does have Half Blood Prince spoilers!
If you want to know how to cope with frightening burdens, I can help you. I can tell you exactly how to do it.
At night, with your bed curtains drawn tight so you're in your own world, your own little cave with walls of drapery, you lay curled up until your knees touch your chin and your own body heat consumes you. You clench your teeth together so that they hurt, and you press the heels of your hands into your eyes; press so hard you can see light spots dancing for you. You whisper to yourself. It will be fine. It will be fine. It will be fine. You whisper and you press and press and press so that the tears don't come so fast and the world is just fairies dancing in front of your eyes.
And sometimes, when Goyle starts moaning in his sleep, you bury your head in the top quality goose down pillows your mother ordered for you from France, before she had to live with death on her doorstep because every day you continue to fail. You push a pillow against your mouth and breathe in the fabric. Green silk for all your Slytherin pride. You wonder what it would feel like to suffocate. Your eyes are closed to keep the lights dancing and you're breathing, breathing, breathing in green silk and telling yourself /it will be fine, it will be fine, it will be fine/, and partially hoping that you won't wake up tomorrow.
This is how to cope. Or, it is the best I could come up with. A nightly departure into desperation and in the morning, I was ready to stab away at my task again, if not fully reinvigorated then at least fully prepared to do the best I could.
The first time I curled myself into that hot ball, saw the lights and felt the crush of teeth grinding together was the day Katie Bell almost died.
The day I almost killed her.
Despite Pansy's pouting when I told her I couldn't go to Hogsmeade, despite the chorus of "tough luck" that left me in an empty dorm as everyone else poured out of the castle, the day seemed perfect to me. I wanted to believe so badly that everything would work out, that my mother would be safe, and that I would be safe, safe and revered, that I ignored the feeling that maybe my plan was not as certain as it ought to be.
And then I almost killed her.
When an impudent third year bustled through the commons, rattling the news off again and again and again, Crabbe and Goyle guffawed because they thought that was what I'd want. They spread their lips in twisted smiles so that their teeth, Goyle's shining white and Crabbe's already yellowing, stood out. That's when I began to clench my own teeth. I stared at the ceiling, feeling the harsh line that must have looked like anger form along my jaw. Pansy grabbed my arm.
"How horrible," she whispered, and she meant it. Goyle shook his head at her, like she was being a silly girl again. He knew what to say.
"It doesn't matter, she's a Gryffindor."
"It'll be good for Quidditch," Crabbe added, still smirking dimly at me. "I hope she's out all year."
I just stared at the ceiling, tracing the years of stains with my eyes.
"How can you think of Quidditch?" Pansy almost shrieked. "I don't care what she is; it's just too horrible. Why would anyone attack /her/? No one's safe!" She turned to me, her red trembling lips stark against her white face. Her eyes widened and glistening, she looked like she was wearing a grotesque sickened mask, and I wanted to tell her it was all right. Don't worry, I wanted to say, Crabbe and Goyle are right. She doesn't matter. She doesn't matter at all. I wanted to say there was a reason it was Katie Bell lying in the hospital, that it wasn't all giant mistake. I wanted to say it wasn't random, there was no way Pansy could have just as easily ended up almost dead.
All I could manage was one sentence.
"I'll keep you safe."
Except, that was a promise I wasn't sure I could make anymore.
That night, as I inhaled silk and saw lights and whispered /it will be fine, it will be fine it will be fine/, I couldn't stop the tears. I tried and tried and tried. I told myself I was better than hot tears stinging my cheeks and creating dark, wet spots on my pillow and sheets. I told myself over and over and over that I couldn't be crying over a stupid bloody Gryffindor girl. She meant nothing. One Gryffindor down was good. I told myself and told myself and told myself, but I was still crying. Still wondering what it would be like to suffocate on my pillow.
And then, I couldn't stop. Every day was the same, failing and failing and failing. Failing to fix the cabinet. Failing to kill Dumbledore. Failing to protect my mother. To protect myself. So every night became the same, pressing into my eyes, clenching my jaw, trying to drown in tears and silk.
Until near the end, when the days were finally starting to look like success, the only nights I rested free from tears and gasps of breath and whispers were the nights in the hospital wing, in the days after Potter almost killed me. It was the first thing he did that I may have been grateful for, and of course he failed. He left me with a scar but still breathing and capable to carry on curling myself in my drapery cave every night. But he did give me a few nights of peace.
Now I shouldn't need to cope anymore. I've done what I've done, and it was enough. The Dark Lord was not pleased with my failure, but his delight in our success allowed me to live. Allowed my mother to live. I'm not revered, perhaps, but I'm not hated. And I'm not dead.
It was all fine.
But, lying on a dirty mattress in an unnamed hotel where Snape assures me we'll be safe, my face is still buried in a pile of pillows. I see familiar lights, feel the familiar grinding of tooth against tooth. Through my mind runs a chain of words, pressing into me like my hands are pressing into my eyes. Draco, Draco, you are not a killer...let us discuss your options, Draco...come over to the right side, Draco, and we can hide you completely. Come over to the right side Draco...you are not a killer... I can feel my wand lowering like it's still in my hand, and the tears are stinging my cheeks and soaking into the sheets. And I'm whispering into the stained pillows. Whispering I wish. I wish. I wish.
If you want to know how to cope with regret, I can help you. I can tell you exactly how to do it.