Characters: Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy
Warning(s): Character death
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 1300 words
Summary: Draco's always been taught that potions suffice where magic cannot.
Note: Originally written for a contest at hogsmeade_elite; first place winner. The challenge was to include the words hellebore, Hippogriff and hiatus and utilise hyperbole and a homonym at least once. The basic idea for this was driven by a scene at the end of the Russian mini-series Brigada.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
The Draught of Peace will calm anxiety and soothe agitation. Stir clockwise until water is boiling, add powdered moonstone, stir three times counter-clockwise, allow to simmer for seven minutes then add two drops of syrup of hellebore. Simmer for six more minutes, bring the heat up until the bubbles on the surface are Galleon-sized, stir seven times clockwise and add the powdered newt eggs. For the next fifteen minutes, allow potion to boil while adding one drop of essence of ragwort per minute. Stir clockwise for the first five minutes and counter-clockwise for the last five minutes, no more than 30 times per minute. Lower the heat and simmer until a light silver vapour rises from the surface. Slowly stir eight times clockwise, then nine counter-clockwise, then six times clockwise again. A thimbleful of powdered valerian stalks must be added as soon as you extinguish the fire; it offsets the poisonous properties of hellebore and completes the potion.
- Eustace Ellerby's Encyclopaedia of Potions, p. 539
Draco watched the silver vapour rise from the cauldron. It filled his vision and made him feel a bit like he was watching a Pensieve memory, but there was nothing beyond the vapour, only the grey wall of the cave. He glanced at the encyclopaedia, which lay open on the table beside his cauldron. Snape had taught him that rhythmical counting in his head would make his timing more precise. The counting did not help with reading comprehension, but it did somewhat dispel the dark thoughts that swirled around his mind.
One, two, three.
Things were beginning to look awfully bleak for their side. Tonight's fight should have been a simple rescue operation; instead, it had turned into carnage. Draco wondered if the stitch in his side would ever go away -- he'd never run so fast in his life. He was lucky to be alive; they all were. Draco shuddered, remembering Fenrir Greyback's yellow eyes shining triumphantly as he sank his teeth into Lupin's shoulder, ripping a chunk of flesh clean off. Right now it felt like Lupin's scream would haunt Draco's nightmares forever.
One, two, three.
It was time.
He extinguished the fire, tipping the valerian stalks into the potion and watched the silver vapour turn faintly green for a moment, then fall down into the cauldron like drops of dew. Draco poured the completed potion into a bottle, stoppered it and carried it through the dank passageway into the next cave.
Potter was slumped in a chair with his back against the heavy oak table, exactly where Draco had left him after the escape.
Potter was holding Weasley's wand between his fingers, staring at it like it had suddenly sprouted leafy branches. He twirled the wand slowly, over and over. One, two, three.
The only light in the cave came from two torches ensconced on the far wall. Potter's face was in shadow; blood shone on his sleeve, and Draco remembered Lupin again, wincing. They had taken Lupin to the Healer tent before coming back to the cave; Augusta Longbottom had said there wasn't much hope.
"I hope you're not contemplating something stupid, like running back for vengeance," said Draco, approaching the table with careful deliberation.
Potter lifted his head slowly and looked at Draco. The torches on the wall dimmed abruptly and began to sputter with bright, violet sparks. Wild magic, Draco realised. Potter was possibly too far gone even for the Draught of Peace to work. He clutched the bottle more tightly and took a tiny step back.
When Potter spoke, his voice was raspy, as though his throat was torn from screaming.
"This was Ron's. He broke his first wand in second year, when we took his father's flying car to Hogwarts after Dobby closed the portal to Platform Nine and Three Quarters. Ron kept having problems with the wand throughout that year. We even laughed about it later. He was my first real friend..." Potter's voice wavered and he put the wand back on the table. He picked up a black notebook, running his thumb along the edge of the cover. "This belonged to Hermione. She was using it for keeping track of days when we were trapped in the Department of Mysteries. I've never known anyone so bright, so talented. Though people like you would deny her the ability to use her talent."
Draco bristled inwardly, but said nothing. Potter knew full well that Draco's views on those not pure of blood changed drastically three years ago, after Justin Finch-Fletchley pulled him out of the dark pit where the Dark Lord had left him to die. Grief made men say and do things they didn't mean.
"They were my best friends in the world. And now my best friends are dead. Voldemort slaughtered them both like pigs," said Potter, his voice dangerously low now, oddly sinister in the dying light. His eyes flashed bright and narrowed as he looked up at Draco again. "AND YOU ARE TELLING ME NOT TO TAKE REVENGE?"
He rose from the chair and stalked towards Draco, his expression stormy. Draco remembered the potion and thrust it at Potter. "I didn't kill them, Potter," he said. "Drink this. You can't afford to take a hiatus, and you're no use to anyone when you're in hysterics."
"Hysterics?" hissed Potter. "You really don't get it, do you, Malfoy? You have no concept of friendship or love or--"
"Fuck you," said Draco, contempt filling him as he narrowed his eyes. "You're not the only one who's lost people in this war--"
"Your parents brought it on themselves--" Potter began to say, then stopped himself, but it was too late.
Slowly, Draco set the Draught of Peace down on the table next to Weasley's torn, bloodied undershirt. The tips of his fingers were itching -- he wanted to take out his wand and hex Potter into a ball of slime. Furious, bubbling anger filled his chest, but Draco forced his hand away from his pocket. He would not give Potter the satisfaction.
One, two, three.
He turned on his heel and left, turning left in the shadowed passageway. There was a clearing near the entrance of the cave, obscured from prying eyes by tall rocky ridges, jagged as points of ice. Witherwings was tethered to a post outside the entrance, and Draco sat down on the wooden stump beside the creature after bowing deeply and receiving a bow in return. Draco stared out at the narrow passage through the cliffs at the other end of the clearing, thinking about what it would be like to just take his things and leave, go somewhere where no one knew him, where no one would tell him that his parents deserved to die...
The Hippogriff made a soft noise and Draco looked up to see Potter standing in front of him.
"Can't leave well enough alone, can you?" muttered Draco, rising to leave.
"I'm sorry," said Potter. "I shouldn't have said that."
"No, you shouldn't have, but you did. Let me through."
"Malfoy, don't do this," said Potter quietly. "Please."
Draco glanced at Potter's ghostly-pale face; there were dark circles under his red-rimmed eyes and a long gash across his cheek was still seeping blood. Something like pity scratched at the pit of Draco's belly, but he couldn't pity Harry Potter. One did not pity those he respected, and despite everything, Draco did respect Potter -- how could anyone not, after seeing what he was capable of?
"Thank Merlin for the Draught of Peace," murmured Draco. "Stay here, I'll bring something to clean up your face, unless you want another ugly scar."
He began to walk back inside, but Potter's voice stopped him.
Draco turned and saw that Potter was almost smirking. "What?"
"I didn't take the Draught of Peace."