The Sugar Quill
Author: Chrmisha (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Loose Ends  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

REMUS & DRACO

Loose Ends

By Chrmisha

 

Summary: Based on Thing1's AU The Casting Stone, Draco confronts Remus about the death of his father in the final battle against Voldemort. Draco learns that he is much more than his family’s heritage.

 

 

A/N: This story is based on the characters of J. K. Rowling and Thing1’s alternate universe (AU). It takes place after Thing1’s The Casting Stone (sequel to Veritas, sequel to On Flying, sequel to This Was Falling). The war is over, Peter Pettigrew has been captured, and Sirius Black has been set free. Draco turned against his family earlier in the series and had been covertly helping the Order. His father was killed in the final battle against Voldemort. Although Remus trusts Draco implicitly, other Order members (Sirius, Harry, etc.) are not convinced he’s on the same side (the good side). Please note that this is an AU Draco Malfoy! For those of you not up on Thing1’s series, Katie is Remus’s wife, and Malcolm and Roarke are their two children. Liz is Sirius’s wife.

 

A/N 2: Many thanks to Thing1 for giving me permission to work in her alternate universe and to my beta-reader Zsenya for her awesome comments and critiques of my work.

 

***

 

Draco sat on a grassy knoll on the edge of a forest near Surrey. His mind whirled with dark thoughts––thoughts of his father, thoughts of his past. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know the truth, but he knew that he needed to know to move on. He felt angry and sad and guilty. Angry at how his life had been, sad that his father was the man he was, and guilty that he was happy that the man was dead, all at the same time. He shook his head, trying to clear his mind. He knew his life was his choice now, his life would be what he made of it. But for the life of him, he couldn’t figure out what that should be, what he wanted. He felt stuck. Stuck in a past he had never asked for with a future that seemed just as uncertain.

 

As he waited for Remus, he thought back to the first time they had met. He had gone to pick a fight with Harry and his friends on the Hogwarts Express. Much to his astonishment and dismay, there had been a professor in their compartment. Draco hadn’t managed to get a good look at the man but he had noticed his shabby, patched robes. The next time he had seen Remus Lupin had been on the stairs of the castle. This professor had managed to ruin a perfectly good opportunity to harass Potter. Draco had looked at Professor Lupin with a mixture of disgust and contempt. Where had Dumbledore found this sad excuse for a wizard?

 

Much to Draco’s surprise, he had found Professor Lupin to be a rather good instructor of Defense Against the Dark Arts, although he’d never have admitted that to anyone at the time. However, after one particularly eventful class, Draco had received detention for scaring the wits out of Neville Longbottom.  Had Draco been able to contain his laughter, Professor Lupin may not have suspected he had anything to do with it. He had been sure never to make that mistake again. Draco had looked at Lupin with great loathing; how dare that pauper give Draco Malfoy detention. Certainly Lupin didn’t know that his father was Lucius Malfoy.

 

That evening at detention he had been startled at the odd tasks Professor Lupin had given him. He had expected to have to do menial labor without magic or some other mundane, useless task. Instead, Professor Lupin had given him lines. Not just any lines, though, lines from Shakespeare. After he had finished copying the lines he had to write an essay on what the lines had meant to him. At first, Draco had been furious. What a waste of time! But after Draco had thought about the essay, he had begun to see deeper meaning in what Shakespeare had written. He had begun to see how it applied to his life. When he had finished the essay, he handed it to Professor Lupin. Draco had been careful to write in general terms so as not to give any personal information away. Professor Lupin had nodded without reading it and handed the essay back to him. Draco still remembered Professor Lupin’s words: “Very good. You may keep this. Have a good evening Mr. Malfoy.”

 

Draco had left Lupin’s office quite confused. What had been the sense of that? But a small voice in his head had echoed: He’s trying to get you to look at your life, to think about it in a different way. That man’s no idiot. There’s much more to him than meets the eye.

 

Draco remembered back to the morning in the Slytherin common room when Professor Snape had strutted through the room, his black robes billowing behind him. He had stopped to talk to one of the prefects who happened to be sitting next to Draco. Draco had sensed that Snape was very angry about something. How casually, then, that Snape had let slip that he’d wasted his whole evening preparing the Wolfsbane potion for Professor Lupin who had forgotten to take it. “I’m sure they are searching the Forbidden Forest for that werewolf as we speak.” Draco had been stunned. Professor Lupin a werewolf? It couldn’t be! But he had remembered Professor Lupin’s strange absences, he had remembered that when the boggart had faced Lupin it had transformed into a pale yellow cratered sphere––the moon. And, his anger rising, he had remembered Snape assigning an essay on werewolves during one of Professor Lupin’s absences. He had gotten up abruptly then, slamming the door to his dormitory behind him. His anger had boiled to the surface. Anger at Lupin for deceiving him, anger at Snape for telling everyone, and most of all, anger at himself for caring that Lupin was a werewolf at all. Had Professor Lupin not been the best instructor he’d ever had? Had he not been one of the only adults in his life that had ever shown an ounce of compassion towards him? A werewolf, showing compassion. He had to laugh until he thought of his father. His father would be livid. His father would make sure that no werewolf would be allowed to teach his son. He had clenched his fists in anger. His father would ruin this man. His father hated werewolves, but Draco had suspected that more than anything, his father hated them because they were darker and more powerful creatures than even he, Lucius Malfoy, was. Draco had practically run out of the dormitory, much to the surprise of Snape and his housemates. He had wanted to find Professor Lupin, he had wanted to warn him.

 

“Professor Lupin?” he had said, knocking urgently on the Professor’s office door, but there had been no answer. He had walked anxiously back towards the main doors of the castle. In the distance, he had seen Professor Lupin coming from the direction of the hospital wing. He had hurried his pace to intercept him.

 

“Professor Lupin, do you have a minute?” Draco had been startled at how ill and tired Professor Lupin had looked. His face had been pale, his skin drawn. And, he had been limping.

 

“I’m sorry, Draco, now is not a good time.”

 

“Professor, I can see that you’re not feeling well,” he had said, fully aware that last night had been the full moon, “but this is urgent. It can’t wait. I promise it won’t take long.”

 

Professor Lupin had looked resigned and had nodded towards his office.

 

Draco had felt slightly guilty for cornering him, but better he heard it from Draco than someone else.

 

Professor Lupin had sat down heavily behind his desk and had looked expectantly at Draco.

 

“Sir, I know– I mean, Professor Snape told the Slytherins this morning that you are– that you are a– a werewolf.”

 

After the words left Draco’s mouth, it had occurred to Draco that maybe Snape had made it all up. Maybe Draco had dragged Professor Lupin into his office for nothing. Draco had felt his face turn red as the absurdity of it all started to sink in. But then he had seen Professor Lupin’s shoulders sag as a cloud of sadness settled over Lupin’s face. He’d rarely seen his professor show any emotion at all. He had watched, stunned, as Professor Lupin put his head in his hands. Professor Lupin didn’t speak for a long time. Draco had looked over his shoulder at the door, wondering if he should leave.

 

“Draco.”

 

Draco had waited, but Professor Lupin didn’t say anything else. “It’s true, then, isn’t it?”

 

Professor Lupin had just nodded.

 

“Honestly, Professor, I don’t care. You’re nothing like, well, what I would have expected a– well– you know– to be like.”

 

“Thank you Draco, that’s very kind.” But his expression hadn’t changed. “So what did Professor Snape say?”

 

“He was complaining about you not taking some potion.”

 

“Ah. Yes. Last night was a bit– unexpected– you might say.”

 

“Why’s that?”

 

Professor Lupin had just shook his head. “It doesn’t matter, it’s no excuse. Severus is right, I put the students here at undo risk and that’s not acceptable.”

 

It had suddenly occurred to Draco what was happening. “You’re leaving, aren’t you?” Bitterness had tinged his words.

 

Professor Lupin had been looking down at his desk. “I have no choice, Draco. The whole school will know soon and then what? Do you think parents will really want their children taught by a werewolf?”

 

“But you’re not like what people think of when they think of werewolves,” Draco had argued.

 

At that, Professor Lupin had looked Draco straight in the eyes. “I choose to be different Draco. Just because one is touched with darkness does not mean that one has to choose that darkness.” The determination and strength in Professor Lupin’s voice had caught Draco off guard.

 

“And Draco, I’m sure your father of all people will be most unhappy to hear this news. I’m sure he’d be appalled if he knew you were here with me right now.”

 

At that Draco had looked at the floor. Professor Lupin did know his father. “Sorry,” had been all Draco had managed to say in response.

 

“You have nothing to be sorry for Draco. We can’t choose our family and we can’t always choose our fate. We make the best with what we have, though, don’t we?” Lupin had said with a slight but sad smile on his face.

 

Draco had nodded and had gotten up to leave. “What will you do now?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“I enjoyed having you as my professor.”

 

“As did I enjoy teaching you, Draco.”

***

 

As Draco sat back and replayed that conversation in his mind he had to laugh. Remus Lupin knew more about him even then than he cared to admit. He was trying to point me in the right direction all along.

 

Just then there was a ‘pop!’ across the field and Draco waved to Remus to get his attention. Remus shielded his eyes from the morning sun and walked over to where Draco was sitting.

 

“Thank you for meeting me here, Professor. Remus.” He corrected himself after catching the look on Remus’s face.

 

“Anytime, Draco. Mind if I sit down?”

 

Draco shook his head as feelings of sadness and dread settled over him. How many times had he gone back and forth in his head if he really wanted to have this conversation with Remus? Draco hugged his knees to his body and took a deep breath as Remus sat cross-legged on the soft grass next to him. He hadn’t told Remus why he’d wanted to meet but he was sure Remus had figured it out.

 

Finally Draco looked tentatively over at Remus. “You know, I don’t really want to know. I never did. But I think part of me needs to know.” If anyone will understand, it will be Remus, Draco thought to himself.

 

Sadness and understanding flashed across Remus’s face. “Where would you like me to begin?”

 

“Anywhere, really, I just… I just need to know what really happened that night. To my father.” Draco felt ashamed for even asking. He knew Remus was not the type of person to enjoy killing––unlike his father. Still, he needed to hear what happened from the man who had single-handedly killed his father. He listened intently as Remus began at the point where Draco had arrived at his house to raise the alarm. Remus skimmed most of the details up until his father had entered onto the scene. Draco looked out over the field as he listened, steeling himself against what he knew was coming next.

 

“We were outnumbered four to one. Even as prepared as the Order was, there was no avoiding it. We’d have been quite happy to take as many Death Eaters as possible back to the Ministry and have them sent to Azkaban, but, as you know, they had no intention of being taken alive.” Remus sighed shaking his head at the savageness of war.

 

“Your father went for Kingsley Shacklebolt first. Kingsley saw the spell coming and tried to deflect it, but it was no use; your father’s spells were very powerful.”

 

Draco laughed bitterly, remembering some of the punishment spells his father had used on him as a child. There was no deflecting his father’s spells.

 

“Next, he took down Benjamin Huckston and Simon West with a single flick of his wand while deflecting another curse from Nymphadora Tonks.”

 

Remus took a deep breath before continuing, “Tonks got it next.”

 

From the look on Remus’s face, Draco thought Remus and Tonks must have been friends.

 

Draco gritted his teeth as Remus continued giving details of the fight that had ensued. Remus named the members of the Order that Draco’s father had killed, as if reading from a list in his mind. When Remus paused, Draco looked over to see Remus’s eyes closed, the expression on his face betraying some inner struggle.  

 

Remus slipped off his robe and unbuttoned the shirt he was wearing underneath. He pulled it down over his right shoulder to reveal a large, jagged scar that was deep purple in color.

 

“That’s not– that’s not a bite scar, is it?” Draco asked, looking tentatively at Remus.

 

“That, Draco, is the Killing Curse your father hit me with from across the room. Luckily for me, I moved just in time and it only grazed my shoulder.” Remus’s voice was even and matter-of-fact.

 

Draco felt a shiver run down his spine, stunned and horrified by the images Remus’s words created in his mind.

 

“However, considering that I carry a curse with me always, I am not affected by curses the way most wizards are. As you already know, I tend not to hold up very well under them. Your father missed me once, he had no intention of missing me twice.”  

 

Draco looked at the ground, shaking his head. Not Remus. How could you try and kill Remus? But Draco knew that his father loathed Remus, especially because he was a werewolf. His father would have enjoyed killing Remus, even more than he enjoyed killing all the others.

 

“Since we were so outnumbered, everyone was on their own. There was hardly time for us to help one another. Your father was approaching me now, pointing his wand at my chest. Three other Death Eaters followed his lead, their wands entrained on me as well. I had backed myself into a corner trying to get away because the curse your father had hit me with was making my body and mind go numb. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. I had managed to raise my wand, but they could see that I could barely stand up and was hardly a threat to them.” As if reconsidering the events of that evening, Remus added, “In retrospect, that probably saved my life. Since your father could see that I was weak, he thought he had some time to spare.” Shaking his head, Remus added more quietly, “He thought he’d have some fun with me first, I guess.”

 

Draco cringed. He really didn’t want to know what kind of fun his father had had with Remus. He could only imagine. He clenched his teeth and closed his eyes, his fists in tight balls. That bastard. It took Draco every ounce of will power he had to not scream, to just sit quietly and listen as the blood coursed through his veins, his anger flaring. He wasn’t sure how he’d feel about this conversation. He thought maybe he’d hate Remus for killing his father, maybe he’d feel sorry for his father, for his father’s suffering, but instead, he found himself hating his father more and more by the second.

 

“He put the Cruciatus curse on me. Several times. I was too weak to fight it, but I did manage to hold onto my wand.”

 

Draco didn’t want to hear anymore. He’d heard enough. He turned to Remus to stop him, but Remus just shook his head and looked into his eyes. He could practically hear Remus’s voice: You need to hear this Draco, you need to know the truth. Draco put his head in his hands, tears of rage and hatred and helplessness filling his eyes.

 

“I couldn’t hear what he was saying anymore.” Remus rubbed his forehead as if trying to remember. “I couldn’t make out the words. My head was buzzing. The four of them were leaning over me now. I knew this was it. But then, I heard Katie’s voice, loud and clear.” Draco glanced at Remus momentarily, noticing the pain on his face. “She begged me not to leave her, her and Malcolm. And then I heard Malcolm’s voice asking me when I was coming home and if I’d read him a bedtime story.” Remus shook his head, as if lost in the memories.

 

“It was then that I felt a surge of energy. I knew I’d only have one chance. And there were four of them. If I hadn’t felt so cornered and so weak, I would have tried for a holding spell, something to secure them so they couldn’t hurt anyone else. Draco I swear to you that I did not want to kill your father. If there had been any other way…”

 

Draco nodded his head, not looking at Remus.

 

“I gathered all the strength I could and took one last deep breath. I had one chance and one chance only. If I failed, they’d kill me in an instant. In a sudden movement that even surprised me, I swung my wand in a large arc and cursed them all simultaneously.”

 

When Remus said no more, Draco asked, “Why didn’t the other Death Eaters come for you?”

 

 “They thought I was dead. Everyone thought I was dead. I was unconscious and the four Death Eaters and I all lay in a heap in the corner. It wasn’t until the end, when the remaining members of the Order were sorting through the carnage that they found I was still alive…” his voice trailed off, and Draco swore he heard Remus utter, “Barely alive.”

 

***

 

Draco wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his robe, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. He tensed when he felt Remus’s hand momentarily squeeze his shoulder.

 

“Draco, you needed to hear what happened as much as I needed to tell you.”

 

Draco just nodded, not knowing what to say. He didn’t know exactly what he’d expected to hear, but that wasn’t it. And he certainly didn’t want the last memories of his father being that of cursing Remus to try and make him suffer before killing him. It was more than that they were fighting a war. Remus regretted having to kill his father; his father would have taken great pleasure in killing Remus.

 

As if reading his thoughts, Remus quietly said, “Draco, you are nothing like your father. You chose to be different. I’m very proud of you for that.”

 

The praise sounded hollow to Draco. But he realized that that was probably because he’d never received sincere praise from anyone before, anyone except Remus and Katie. He couldn’t help flashing back to their first encounter. He remembered the disgust he felt for the man dressed in shabby, patched robes. Practically a beggar. Certainly not worthy to teach at Hogwarts, even if, as his parents said at every opportunity, the school had gone downhill since Dumbledore had come on board. Now he laughed in disgust at himself. He’d give up all of the money, the mansion, the power and prestige in the world to be part of the Lupin family. To be loved and cared for. Instead he was an heir. That’s all he ever was to his parents. A name to carry on the family tradition, the dark family tradition.

 

“You know, I don’t think I ever apologized to you for my appalling behavior the first time I met you.” He couldn’t bear to look at Remus as he spoke.

 

Remus just laughed. “Apology accepted. You’ve turned into a fine young man, Draco. I have no doubt you will do well in life. On your own.”

 

Draco knew what he meant––without the help of his family.

 

Just then, Draco felt the hair on the back of his neck prickle while an odd sense of foreboding invaded his consciousness. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Remus straighten, his body becoming rigid, his eyes entrained on the woods nearby. He had sensed it too.

 

“What is…”

 

But Remus had raised his hand towards Draco to silence him. “Stay here.” Remus got up silently, his wand out, and walked towards the edge of the forest.

 

Draco’s heart lurched; he could sense something near, something dark. Instinctively, he followed Remus, his wand drawn, trying to decipher the source of the Dark magic. He swallowed as he felt a shiver run down his spine. Then, out of seemingly nowhere, Draco saw bright orange eyes attached to a huge yellow body lunge at him. “What the–”

 

For a moment, time seemed to slow. It looked like a mountain lion, but there were no mountain lions in England. The orange eyes seemed to burn through him; those weren’t the eyes of a natural animal. He fell backwards, scrambling to get away from the dripping fangs and claws coming at him at lightening speed.

 

Suddenly, a gray mass streaked through his line of vision. Remus had tackled the creature and wrestled it to the ground, losing his wand in the process. Draco was too stunned to move. He’d rarely seen the wolf in Remus but couldn’t help being amazed when it came through in Remus’s heightened senses, his quickness, his strength.

 

“DRACO! GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE! NOW!” Remus shouted as he struggled to contain the beast.

 

“What? I can’t just leave you!”

 

“GO! NOW! Go back to my house. Wait for me there.” Remus grunted as the beast momentarily got the upper hand. Wrestling it back to the ground, Remus shouted, “DRACO IT’LL KILL YOU! Go! Now!”

 

Yes, but it will kill you too. Draco heard Remus growl as he struggled to subdue the animal. Draco couldn’t tell who was winning, but he figured Remus would tire long before it would. He had to do something. He raised his wand and pointed it directly between the animal’s eyes.

 

STUPIFY!

 

To his horror, Remus had rolled with the animal at the precise moment the spell left Draco’s wand. It hit Remus in the back. Remus fell to the ground, motionless. The animal looked up at Draco briefly, his orange eyes flickering fiercely, before it attacked Remus with a vengeance, ripping the robes easily from his body and tearing at his skin.

 

Horrified, Draco screamed, “STUPIFY!” Nothing. “STUPIFY STUPIFY STUPIFY!” The animal paused momentarily before sinking its teeth into Remus’s arm and ripping the flesh away, leaving the bone exposed.

 

Draco’s heart was beating harder than it ever had his entire life. Sweat poured off him and his knees felt weak. He’d never watched someone get killed so savagely––literally torn to pieces––and it was all his fault. If Remus died, he swore he’d let the beast kill him too. He wouldn’t be able to live with himself if Remus died because of his stupidity.

 

Draco was not aware of his voice screaming at the beast to stop. He was not aware of anything coherent until a ray of sun reflected off of Remus’s wand in the grass. He lunged for it. Pointing both wands directly at the beast, he screamed every nasty spell he could think of in succession, including the unforgivable curses. As the stream of curses from both wands converged on the creature, it was thrown away from Remus. The beast wasn’t moving, but neither was Remus.

 

Draco ran to his side, clutching his blood soaked body. Oh my god, he can’t die. He just can’t. It’s all my fault. THINK DRACO, THINK! Holding on tight to Remus, and holding both of their wands, he Apparated them back to Remus’s house. Please don’t let the children be home. They can’t see him like this. He felt the hard floor beneath them and looked around. They were in Remus’s study. “KATIE!” he screamed, running frantically through the house calling her name. But no one answered. He ran back to Remus. “I won’t let you die, I promise,” he said, pushing Remus’s wet hair from his eyes.

 

Katie had to be at work. But where did she work? Mrs. Noyes. He remembered the name. He also remembered that Katie used the fireplace in Remus’s study to travel back and forth to work. “MRS. NOYES’S SHOP” he shouted as he threw floo powder into the fireplace. He fell out into a kitchen. He ran for the door hoping he was in the right place. “KATIE! KATIE!” As the door flung open, he saw an older witch and Katie standing there looking startled. Unbeknownst to him, he was covered in blood.

 

“Draco, are you alright?” Katie said, stepping towards him with a look of concern on her face.

 

“I’m fine Katie, but Remus has been attacked.”

 

Katie froze in her tracks, a stricken look on her face. “Where, where is he Draco?”

 

“Home. In his study.” Draco panted, desperate to get help before it was too late.

 

***

 

Katie gasped at the sight of her husband’s mangled body lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

 

With renewed eyes, Draco realized just how bad off he was. His robes were shredded and drenched with blood and bits of torn flesh hung off of him at odd angles. He could see Remus’s ribs exposed in places and his left arm seemed to be attached only by threads to the rest of his body. He sank to the floor, his head in his hands. He was shaking violently and couldn’t seem to stop.

 

“What was it?” Mrs. Noyes’s voice echoed in the background.

 

Draco just shook his head, “I don’t know, I don’t know.”

 

Draco watched in shock as Katie and Mrs. Noyes worked quickly to remove Remus’s clothes and access the damage. He could hear their muffled voices as the two women cleaned the wounds and managed to stop the bleeding. Katie was lamenting Remus’s blood loss, but Mrs. Noyes reminded her that werewolves have amazing healing capabilities and with some blood replenishing potion and healing salve, he should do just fine. Draco could tell by the look on Katie’s face that she found Mrs. Noyes’s words as unconvincing as he did.

 

After what seemed like only minutes but was closer to an hour, he saw Mrs. Noyes place her hand gently on Katie’s shoulder. Mrs. Noyes nodded towards Draco who was huddled on the floor still shaking. “He’s out of immediate danger now, Katie. Take care of the young man. I’ll keep an eye on Remus.”

 

As Katie approached him, he pulled his knees tighter to his chest. He tensed when she put her arm around his shoulder, feeling unworthy of her comfort. “Let’s go in the kitchen Draco. Come on.” Draco refused the hand she offered and pushed himself to his feet. He looked over as Mrs. Noyes was covering Remus with a blanket. “It’s all my fault, Katie, I’m sorry.”

 

“Shhh…. Just tell me what happened,” Katie said. Draco sat at the kitchen table and watched as Katie prepared a nerve calming tonic for both of them.

 

As Katie sat down next to Draco and handed him his tea, he noticed that she looked very pale and frightened. He closed his eyes and shook his head, “Please don’t let him die, please…”

 

“Draco, we are not going to let him die.”

 

Although her voice held her usual determination, Draco could see the trepidation in her eyes. He knew that she wasn’t entirely sure Remus would live and that possibility terrified them both.

 

“Please, tell me what happened,” she asked again.

 

Draco cringed at the desperation in her voice. Taking a deep breath, he relayed the story as best he could. “My god, Katie, it’s all my fault. I STUNNED him! And then the beast–” his voice broke off as he fought back tears. He would not cry in front of Katie. He had no right to cry in front of the woman whose husband’s life hung in the balance because of him, in front of the woman who’d taken him in and treated him like a son.

 

Katie leaned forward and embraced Draco.

 

“I’m so sorry, Katie. I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to Remus, I–”

 

“Shhh…..” She comforted, as Draco quickly pulled back to regain his composure.

 

Clearing his throat he said, “I’m scared Katie. I’m scared I killed him.”

 

“I’m scared too, Draco, but Remus will be all right.” Tears streamed down her face and her voice dropped to a whisper. “He has to be all right. I can’t live without him. We can’t live without him.”

 

***

 

As Katie left to attend to Remus, Draco dropped his head into his hands. Thoughts of Katie widowed and the children without a father filtered through his mind, followed shortly by thoughts of losing the only father figure he’d ever known. His heart filled with pain beyond anything he’d ever known before. How could he have let this happen? Not only was Remus’s life on the line because of him, but now he’d deprived Katie of the comfort of her children as well. They would have to stay with Liz and Sirius until Remus was better. Draco knew Katie wouldn’t want the children to see Remus in his current condition, especially Malcolm who was old enough to understand. Berating himself for potentially costing Katie a husband, and Malcolm and Roark a father, he jumped when the kitchen door flew open.

 

“WHAT the hell happened MALFOY!” Sirius demanded as he stormed through the kitchen door, stopping abruptly when he caught sight of Draco. He had expected Draco to be here, and he wanted answers. He hadn’t expected a puffy-eyed, red-faced Draco covered in dried blood with tear tracks going down his face.

 

Draco put his head on the table and groaned. Just kill me now, Sirius. I deserve it. Just get it over with. He heard the chair next to him slide out as Black sat next to him.

 

In a much gentler and quieter voice, Sirius asked again. “What happened, Draco?”

 

Draco looked up. He could still see the fear in Sirius’s eyes but the anger had dissipated. Sirius rarely called him by his first name; he always called him Malfoy to his face, and much worse he was sure behind his back. Draco stiffened and shook his head. He couldn’t do this again.

 

Sirius shoulders dropped as he exhaled. “Katie’s told me bits and pieces. Could you show me where the beast is? We need to see what it is, or was. It might matter.”

 

Draco nodded and he and Sirius Apparated to the spot where he and Remus met earlier that day.

 

The beast lay where Draco had cursed it. It was dead.

 

“Well, at least you killed it,” Sirius said flatly.

 

Draco didn’t care about the beast, he only cared about Remus. “Does it matter?”

 

“Of course it matters! You don’t want that thing running around attacking people, do we?” Sirius blurted out incredulously.

 

“I mean, does it effect Remus, and, and how they need to heal him,” Draco said quietly, waiting for Sirius to beat the living daylights out of him. He wouldn’t stop him either. It was his fault Remus’s life hung in the balance. Jesus, he manages to survive my father and I end up killing him. The gods hate me. My father’s probably laughing with glee right now. Bastard.

 

“Oh. I don’t know,” Sirius’s voice was calmer now. “I’m going to take it to Hagrid. He’ll know what it is. I’ve never seen anything like it. Tell Katie I’ll meet her back at the house later to let her know what I find out.”

 

***

 

Draco Apparated in the garden behind Remus’s house. He sat down on the cool stones encasing one of the herb beds. He closed his eyes, wishing it was all a bad dream. Just then he felt a warm hand on his shoulder.

 

“Did you find it?” Katie’s voice was soothing although he could still see the apprehension in her eyes.

 

“Yes, Sirius has it. He’s taking it to Hagrid to see if they can figure out what it was.”

 

“Was? Then its dead?”

 

Draco nodded.

 

Katie knelt down in front of Draco and set down the bunch of healing herbs she had in her hand. She tipped his chin up so that his eyes met hers. “Draco, this is not your fault.” His eyes widened and he opened his mouth to interrupt her, but she raised a hand to silence him. “Enough, Draco. I will hear none of this. You were trying to save Remus, not hurt him. I know you would never intentionally hurt him. I will not hear you blame yourself for this. In fact, if you had left like he’d told you to, he might very well have been killed. Do I make myself clear?”

 

Draco nodded.

 

“Now, why don’t you go wash up. There are towels under the sink and I’ve laid out a fresh set of robes for you.”

 

He startled at the sight of his reflection in the mirror.

 

“My, my, we’ve gotten our self into a bit of a scuffle, haven’t we?”

 

“Shut up!” He looked at the mirror with contempt. His robes were brown with dried blood, his blond hair was matted together with sweat, his face was sunken, his eyes swollen. He shook at the sight. He hadn’t planned on showering, but Katie had asked him to get cleaned up, and he didn’t see how he was going to do that otherwise. As the warm water ran over him he could smell Remus’s scent exuding off his skin––the scent of his blood. He leaned back against the cool tile wall, a fresh wave of panic settling over him as he thought of Katie and the children. Warm tears mingled with the shower spray. Please don’t let him die. Please. Remus just couldn’t die. There were too many people that needed him, too many people that loved him, including himself.

 

He changed into the robes she’d set out for him, and quickly realized that they were Remus’s. Remus was shorter than he was. He decided to wash and dry his own robe instead; he didn’t feel worthy of wearing anything of Remus’s.

 

***

 

“Is he awake yet?”

 

“No, and he might not wake up for a couple of days.”

 

Draco closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Not daring to look at her, he asked in a quiet but determined voice, “Will he wake up Katie?”

 

“Yes, Draco, it looks like he will be just fine.”

 

Draco opened his eyes and was relieved to see the anxiety that had been so prevalent in her eyes before had faded to just a shadow. He suddenly felt very tired as the weight of his fears had been lessened somewhat.

 

“Here, sit down, I’ll bring you some soup. You must be starving.”

 

Actually, the thought of food hadn’t occurred to him, but now that she mentioned it, he was hungry. He ate the soup hastily and thanked Katie.

 

“May I– may I see him?” he asked tentatively.

 

“Certainly, but, Sirius is with him right now, so you might want to wait a bit. He’ll be leaving soon to help Liz with Malcolm and Roarke.”

 

“Katie, I’m so sorry.” He felt miserable for what had happened to Remus and even more so now depriving them of their children while Remus recovered.

 

“Not another word, Draco,” Katie said in her firm but compassionate voice.

 

“Did Sirius and Hagrid figure out what the creature was?”

 

Katie nodded. “Hagrid thinks it was a wild cat that was somehow crossed with a nundu. It looks like the work of Dark Wizards. Now get some rest, I’ll let you know when you can see Remus.”

 

Draco nodded as he lay down on the couch and watched the fire burn in the grate. He’d drifted off to sleep before he’d even had a chance to think about the mixed beast.

 

***

 

He awoke with a start as the morning sun shone brightly through the living room window. Where am I?!? Slowly, the realization of the day before sunk in like a heavy blanket suffocating him. Ugh. He crawled off the couch to the kitchen to see if anyone was awake. As he opened the door, he saw Harry drinking coffee at the table and reading the Daily Prophet. He wasn’t sure who he dreaded speaking with more, Harry or Sirius. He slouched against the door frame as Harry looked up at him.

 

“No one else is up yet.”

 

Draco nodded and went to get a cup of coffee.

 

“How’s Remus?” Draco asked tentatively, slightly afraid of what Harry might say.

 

“I haven’t seen Katie yet, I just got here myself.”

 

Draco sat at the opposite end of the table from Harry, wrapping his hands around the mug, not letting go as the heat singed his flesh. They sat in silence for a long while.

 

Finally Harry spoke, “It’ll probably make you feel worse to know this, but I would have done the same thing.”

 

“What?” asked Draco coldly, not interested in Harry’s opinions.

 

“Well, I wouldn’t have left Remus there with that creature either. And I would have tried to stun it too.”

 

Yeah, but you wouldn’t have missed. Draco grunted, clenching the mug he held in his hands even tighter. He knew Harry was telling him it wasn’t his fault, but Draco wouldn’t allow himself to get off so easy. A fresh wave of anger filtered through him. He couldn’t believe he’d stunned Remus. It was damn lucky that beast didn’t kill Remus on the spot. As he clenched the mug even harder, it shattered, scalding his pale skin with hot liquid. “Dammit,” was all he said, not bothering to clean up the coffee or heal the burns on his hands. Although the pain was intense, he could only imagine what Remus must have went through.

 

Harry got up and sat in the chair next to him. “Katie would be furious you know.”

 

“What, that I broke her mug?”

 

“No, that you’re punishing yourself.”

 

“What are you talking about, Potter?” he spat the words at him, taking some of his anger and frustration out on Harry.

 

Harry just rolled his eyes, “Give me your hands, Malfoy.”

 

Draco looked at him incredulously.

 

Harry leaned forward and firmly grasped Draco’s wrists, spreading his hands on the table. He said a charm to heal the burns as Draco looked at him slightly stunned. “It’s not your fault, Draco, and that’s the end of the discussion. Now, do you want breakfast? I’m rather hungry myself.”

 

***

 

“Good morning. Harry, I wasn’t expecting you.”

 

Harry poured her a cup of coffee and gave her a plate of the food he’d just prepared. “Good morning Katie. How’s Remus?”

 

“He’s still asleep, but he’s doing better. The blood replenishing potion is doing wonders. And with Hagrid’s quick identification of the beast, Mrs. Noyes and I were able to brew some better potions and salves. His wounds are almost healed and it looks like he’ll regain full use of his left arm. I’m always amazed at his healing response. It far exceeds that of a regular wizard.”

 

Draco sat staring into a new mug of coffee. Her enthusiasm for Remus’s improving condition did nothing to ease his guilt. He lookup up when Katie cleared her throat. She gave him that look. That stop being such a miserable prat and get over yourself look. He’d only ever seen her give Sirius that look when he was moping around. He managed half a smile and asked, “How are you doing this morning, Katie?”

 

“Well, thank you. I’m feeling much better now that I know Remus is going to be okay.” Her smile was genuine and Draco relaxed at that. “You are both welcome to see him after we eat. Sound good?” They nodded.

 

***

 

Harry stayed most of the morning and made Katie promise to let him know as soon as Remus woke up.

 

“Yes, yes, you, Sirius, Liz, Albus, Minerva, Hermione, Ron, my children, and Mrs. Noyes have all begged to be first on the list,” she said smiling, as she shooed him out of the house.

 

“I should go too,” Draco said, looking at the floor.

 

“Actually, Draco, if you aren’t busy, I thought I might go into work this afternoon. If, that is, you wouldn’t mind keeping an eye on Remus for me while I’m gone.”

 

Draco’s mood lifted dramatically. “Yes, of course. I’d be honored. Just tell me what I need to do and when.”

 

Katie smiled and led him to the kitchen, pointing out the different potions, bandages, and salves. “Give a shout if he wakes up before I get back.”

 

“Certainly, Katie.” Well, at least Katie still trusts me. Even though I almost killed her husband.

 

Draco sat on the chair next to Remus’s bed. He’s going to be okay. Katie promised. Draco sighed. He’d only seen Remus angry on rare occasion, and it always had to do with someone disobeying direct orders, usually when it came to the wolf, but he didn’t imagine this would be much different. Draco didn’t care if he was angry at him as long as he lived. He stared absently out the window. He really didn’t care about anything at all as long as Remus lived. He put his head in his hands, reliving yesterday’s events. Horrified by how wretched Remus looked as he laid in his study in a pool of blood, flesh and bone dangling from his mangled body. He looked dead. That beast tried to shred him. He shuddered at the thought as fresh tears brewed behind his closed eyes. I will never, ever forgive myself if he dies. I hope Sirius will be merciful enough to kill me if he does, I couldn’t stand to live with myself. I don’t know how my father did it. He killed people everyday for fun. Sick bastard.

 

Draco jumped as he felt fingers touch around his arm. Remus was looking at him with a faint smile on his face.

 

“Remus!”

 

Draco jumped off his chair and grasped Remus’s hand tightly as a tear trickled down his face. “Remus, I’m so sorry, I thought I killed you.” Draco let go of Remus’s hand and nervously wiped his face with his sleeve.

 

Remus just smiled and shook his head. “Almost good as new, I’d say.”

 

“Katie’s going to be very glad you are awake. I should tell her,” he said, looking towards the door.

 

“In a minute,” Remus said softly, watching Draco.

 

“I was so worried about you, everyone was. Do you– do you remember any of it?” Draco asked, slightly afraid of his answer.

 

“Not much. But I’m still here.”

 

“Yeah, no thanks to me,” Draco’s eyes filled with tears again as he looked away from Remus.

 

“Draco, I don’t know what happened, but I do know that you’d never intentionally let anything happen to me. Just as I would do anything I could to protect you.”

 

At that, Draco lost his battle with holding back the tears. He never let himself cry. Ever. It was a sign of weakness, strictly forbidden in the Malfoy mansion. His father had only caught him crying once. He had used the Crutiatus curse on him to give him something to cry about. Yet, he’d cried more in the last two days then he had in his entire life.

 

Draco looked at Remus, “I tried to stun the beast, but– but I stunned you instead. And then– and then that animal tore you to pieces!” Draco buried his head in his hands.

 

“Draco, how did we get out of there, how did we get back here?”

 

Still sobbing, Draco said, “I tried to curse it, but I couldn’t. It didn’t respond. So I grabbed your wand and cursed it with both of our wands with ever single curse I could think of, one right after the other. Finally, I killed it.”

 

Remus rubbed Draco’s shoulder. “Well, Draco, it seems to me then that I should be thanking you for saving my life.”

 

Draco looked up at him incredulously. “You could have died! All because I was being stupid and not listening to you. You told me to get out of there, that you could handle it. But instead I stunned you and let that beast attack you!”

 

“Draco, I thought I could handle it. But, what if you had listened to me and I couldn’t? Then I surely would be dead as there would have been no one there to bring me back.”

 

Draco sighed as Remus pulled him against his chest. “That was also a very courageous and intelligent thing to do, using both wands like that.”

 

Draco grunted in disbelief as Remus held him tighter. When Draco stopped sobbing, he raised himself up, looking a little embarrassed and ashamed.

 

“Feel better?” Remus smile was easy and accepting, as always.

 

Draco wasn’t sure what he felt other then awkward for crying in front of Remus and quite a bit relieved that Remus would live.

 

“Don’t worry, you will. You need to get these things out you know. You can’t keep them bottled up forever. Even you have feelings, Draco.”

 

Draco nervously ran his hands through his hair and managed a laugh. “Yeah, I guess I do. I was just never allowed to express them before,” he looked away, shaking his head at the injustice of it all.

 

“You know, Draco, you can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends. If you choose wisely, they can fill some of the voids your family has left behind.”

 

Draco nodded. “I know,” he said. Smiling back at Remus, he said, “Thank you.”

 

Remus squeezed his shoulder, “You better let Katie know I’m awake.”

 

***

 

Draco took a deep breath and ran a cold, wet towel over his face. He did feel better after getting it all out. And Remus was right. Friends could save you when no one else can. And families weren’t everything. His own father had left a sad hole in his heart. He felt that hole closing, though, as he came to terms with both what he’d had and what he’d lost. The anger was ebbing and acceptance was settling in. He could never change his father, and he wasn’t sure he’d ever even like his father. But that man was still his father and maybe he could find some small bit of goodness to cherish. After all, he himself was not all bad, as Remus constantly reminded him. He had compassion. That had to come from somewhere, even if neither his mother nor father chose to express it.

 

Remus was the closest thing to a father Draco ever had. His parents had never touched him, not since he was a baby and couldn’t function on his own. Touch had been foreign to him. When Remus first put his hand on his shoulder so many years ago, he cringed. And now? Now he sobbed freely in Remus’s arms. Sobbed for the things he never had but always wanted. It still didn’t feel quite comfortable, but he’d let himself be held. He’d let himself have the one thing he was denied all his life––the feeling of being loved for who he was, whoever that was, not someone he was supposed to be, some expectation he was supposed to meet. He smiled. Malcolm and Roarke were very lucky indeed.

 

//
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