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Innocence by Mell8
Chapter 1 by Mell8
Innocence. Draco sighed. He missed his innocence. He wanted to go back to the days when he felt safe in his own home, in his own skin. He wanted those days when he didn’t know what he did now.
He had seen people raped. Women screaming, men gasping in pained shock, and children…people not much older than he was now… he had seen them too. Draco shuddered at the thought.
And he had seen death. The final moments before the green light of the Killing Curse were never as bad to watch as someone who had been suffering for days when their final moments came. But he had seen them all.
Draco wondered if he ought to blame his father. Lucius had brought Voldemort into the Malfoy household, had exposed Draco to the evil that was the Dark Lord, and had therefore been the one to deprive Draco of his innocence.
Lucius had never been the best of fathers. Draco loved his father, and he knew his father loved his son, but some of the things Lucius had done did not sit well with Draco’s conscience.
He couldn’t really blame Voldemort much more than he already did. True, the monster was the reason the atrocities Draco had seen were occurring, but Voldemort would be nothing without the support of people like his father. Voldemort was the enabler; Draco’s father was the culprit.
Draco stepped off the Hogwarts Express and looked out at the forest that kept him from seeing the castle. For the first time he was actually glad to be at Hogwarts, rather than at home. In previous years home was safety with his mother and father; home was luxuries and love, all things he would not receive at school. Yet this past summer had proved that his home was no longer a place of safety and love. No, he was glad to have escaped from the worst of it to the castle he had never loved.
The truly sad thing was, Draco hadn’t thought he had any innocence to lose after his previous year of trying and failing to kill Dumbledore, only to have the old Headmaster killed right in front of him by Professor Snape. Draco didn’t like learning that he had more to lose only after he had lost it.
Draco walked along the platform among the much-depleted group of his peers as he headed towards the carriages. He stopped short as soon as they came into view.
“You’ve never seen them before, have you?” a voice said quietly into his back. Draco didn’t turn around; he was too transfixed by the horse-like skeletons, ghostly creatures, which were harnessed to the carriages.
“Must be nice,” the girl’s voice continued, “to have lasted this long in our crazy world before you were forced to see death.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Draco replied stiffly.
“Don’t you?” the girl laughed. “Well, the Thestrals never lie, Draco Malfoy. It’s too bad you’re the cause of your own loss of innocence.”
Draco whipped his head around to glare at the girl who would dare accuse him of such a thing, but all he saw was the back of a retreating cloak as the girl walked away.
Two weeks into the term and Draco had found that school wasn’t the refuge he had wanted it to be. He hadn’t lost anything more of himself, but he was instrumental in forcing others to lose what they never should have had to.
Muggle Studies was now a mandatory class that taught about the filth that was every single Muggle in existence. Professor Carrow had kindly asked Draco to step in for detention duties for those failing that particular class.
Draco couldn’t say no to someone as powerful and influential as Carrow, not without suffering severe consequences, so he promptly arrived in the dungeons every evening right after dinner, wand in hand.
“It’s good practice, Malfoy,” Carrow had explained the first night. “Maybe this way you can become something useful for the Dark Lord.” Carrow had left, leaving Draco with thirty kids, all of whom he was supposed to punish with the Cruciatus Curse before sending them off to bed.
His job was to take the innocence from others, like his had been forced from him. He hated it.
Carrow always left the room, so Draco improvised. He hit the kids with stinging hexes, hard enough to make them cry out, but not hard enough to cause permanent damage. Carrow was fooled, the kids were mentally scarred, and Draco went to sleep every night feeling horrible with himself.
Then, two weeks into detention duty, she showed up. Draco recognized her voice when she replied scornfully to something Carrow had said to her. Her red hair wasn’t as vibrant as the Weasley red should have been, but he had heard of what Gryffindors and Blood Traitors like her were going through at school this year and could understand that she was suffering.
“This is it, Malfoy. The real fun begins now that you get to punish a Blood Traitor,” Carrow said gleefully. She watched as Draco coldly surveyed Weasley and the rest of the detention class before nodding to Malfoy and striding away, a happy bounce in her step.
“Well, what are you waiting for, Malfoy?” Weasley snarled as soon as Carrow was gone. “Aren’t you going to make me cry? Isn’t it your job to hurt helpless innocents?”
Draco ignored her, instead turning to the rest of the waiting kids. He would make Weasley watch; Carrow would like hearing about that when she asked for details later.
He flicked his wand and the first kid fell to the ground with a scream and a whimper. Draco waited for the kid to come back to his senses before curtly nodding towards the door. The kid fled, holding his stomach where the Stinging Hex still throbbed.
Draco went on down the line of kids, ignoring the pleading and stopping all attempts to run away until after he had hurt them all.
“They’re just children,” Weasley whispered as the last one fled and Draco turned to her. “How could you torture eleven year olds?”
“The Cruciatus,” Draco explained coldly, “is a lot more painful than a Stinging Hex. This isn’t torture. You have no idea what real torture is.” His eyes looked haunted. He knew what an actual Cruciatus curse felt like; it wasn’t something he could share with his fellow students.
He looked at Weasley and saw that her eyes looked haunted too. When had she ever experienced the Pain Curse. What did she know about losing one’s innocence?
She must have read the question on Draco’s face because her next words answered his questions.
“I could see the Thestrals by the end of my first year. Tom Riddle is a cruel master, even when he was sixteen and a memory and Lord Voldemort was just an idea he was playing with.” Her eyes closed as she fought away her memories. When she opened them again she caught Draco with her sharp gaze. “Just because you’ve experienced pain doesn’t give you the right to hurt everyone else.”
“Then what do you suggest I do, Weasley? Let those idiots go so that Carrow can have the pleasure of torturing me instead? I’m not that selfless.”
“I never expected you to be,” she replied dryly. “But if you have enough of a heart to refuse to torture those kids with anything more than a Stinging Hex, then you could do more.”
“I’m saving my own skin, Weasley,” Draco retorted. “As long as Carrow believes that I’m hurting those kids, my hide stays attached to my body.”
She laughed. “Your hide would stay attached regardless of whether you used the Cruciatus Curse or a Stinging Hex. Somewhere underneath your Slytherin exterior is someone who cares. Now hurry up and hurt me so I can get back to my homework. I have a killer Transfiguration essay due first thing tomorrow.”
Draco just looked at her in shock. She looked beaten, her red hair was limp and her skin looked grey, yet she was asking for him to hurt her more than she had already been this year. He expected some sort of Gryffindor/Weasley obstinacy, but not this. No, he had never heard anyone ask to be hurt before.
This girl was something special. Draco knew that because he could see the set to her chin that let him know that she was playing off her fear in order to make him feel better about his horrible circumstances. Her life was as difficult as his right now, but she still had the strength to help him out. It was certainly a different mindset than Draco was used to.
He raised his wand and bit out a curse that tickled Weasley mercilessly. Now he could truthfully tell Carrow that he had her writhing on the ground clutching at her stomach before he had allowed her to leave.
“Was there any blood?” Carrow asked after she had returned to get the post-detention report from Draco. “Did she cry for her mommy?” The woman laughed coldly, tears of joy coming to her eyes as she imagined all the horrible things Draco could have done to Ginny Weasley.
Draco smirked at Carrow. “Weasley and I had fun,” he said slowly with all the implications Carrow would expect to hear coloring his voice. “Well, maybe not Weasley, but I did.” The thought of her pleading with him to stop, hanging off his robes, before she peed her pants was certainly a memory Draco would fondly remember for a long time.
“Well done, Malfoy!” Carrow said gleefully. “I’ll pass on your accomplishments to your father at the next meeting.”
Draco pretended to preen, as he would have done two years ago for receiving the sort of praise that would have been passed on to his father with pride. His insides were roiling, however. Draco wasn’t sure if he wanted his father to be proud of Draco’s ability to torture helpless little girls like Weasley. Instead he just wanted to get to his own Transfiguration essay and to the nightmares that would no doubt plague his sleep that night.
Another two weeks passed before he ran into Weasley again, this time in the library.
“Did you know,” Weasley said softly as they browsed through the near-empty shelves, “that about two thirds of the missing books are at my house? McGonagall and the other Professors worked together to save as much as they could before the Dark Lord took over.”
Draco scoffed. He understood what she was asking and didn’t want to have anything to do with it. His goal was to stay alive. He didn’t want to work together with Weasley for any reason.
“We could help so many people!” she said, correctly interpreting his negative expression.
“Why should I care?” he snapped. “What can I do, anyway? Leave me alone, Weasley. This year is almost over. The Dark Lord will win, the world will get even worse, and I’m running for the hills as soon as I’m free of this damned school.”
She looked horribly disappointed in his refusal and left. Draco didn’t see her again, but her words echoed through his head. Helping people…she was nutters if she thought a Malfoy could do anything to help others; if she thought he could do anything to help others when he was barely able to help himself.
Still, that didn’t explain why he allowed Potter to steal his wand during winter break, nor why he hadn’t helped his father or any of the other Death Eaters in his house stop Potter from escaping. He had endured his punishments, bought another wand, and went back to school feeling like a fool.
Yet for once he also felt good about himself. It was odd, in these times, to feel good about the world, but he did and he wanted to pass on his good deed to Weasley. He wanted to tell her that he had helped out. He had risked his skin, which had nearly been torn off by the Dark Lord for his failure, and had possibly kept Potter alive long enough to do what he needed to in order to defeat the Dark Lord.
He, Draco Malfoy, Slytherin and self-acclaimed narcissist, had done something heroic.
“Your brother, Potter, and Granger are still alive,” he whispered into her red hair as they inadvertently walked together towards the Great Hall among all the other students left in the school. “I saw them running to safety myself two days ago.”
He saw her shoulders shake as her hands came up to cover her eyes. “Thank you, Malfoy,” she whispered in a voice thick with tears. “Thank you.”
She escaped amid the crowd and Draco went on to his dinner, a slight bounce in his step for the first time in months. He was a hero and he had made a girl so happy that she had thanked him. It was different being the good person. Draco knew he wouldn’t ever make a habit of it, but for her and her sharp words and cold reprimands, he could be good.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.