Life Debt

Revealing of Truths

Draco's POV

Somehow, I managed to fall asleep. Even I was disgusted with myself for being able to. No one should be capable of sleep after everything I'd just witnessed. It was just one more testament to my deteriorating humanity. My sleep was riddled with nightmares, though. Perhaps it was some kind of cosmic punishment.

I was in the Forbidden Forest, under the cover of my invisibility cloak, spells blasting around me. That's when I saw her, Granger, running from two of my "comrades." Aunt Bella sent up her spell, illuminating the night, and Granger immediately ducked out of the way, hiding. For a moment I merely watched, then saw as she bolted from her hiding spot and continued to flee. I caught up with her easily, sure that I would capture and kill her. However, when I was faced with it, when I saw the flash of green about to overtake her, I couldn't stop myself from reaching out and pulling her away. I shielded her, protected her. Again, just like in the actual event, I had been unable to stop myself.

Everything replayed as it had that night, except she never got away. My aunt Bella emerged from the shadows, casting her Crucio, against Granger. It was just as it had been that night at the Manor. Again, I couldn't help the thoughts that ran through me. No… she can't die. She's too…innocent. Her screams echoed in the night, and then everything went black. I couldn't see anything anymore, but I could still hear her. Bloodcurdling cries of agony erupted around me. What I saw next horrified me. Nagini was attacking Snape, in a flurry of lashing and writhing, blood everywhere. His body slumped to the floor, his dark eyes staring at me, unwavering. And then I awoke.

Disgust immediately flooded through me at the thought that I had actually slept where, moments before, Snape's bloodied form had been. Cold sweat covered my body, my breath coming in gasps. Why Granger's torture was my nightmare was anyone's guess. It could have been a result of the night's events, and that's what I keep telling myself. It has nothing to do with the strange urge I'd had to save her. It was a one time deal, never to happen again. I couldn't let it.

But I couldn't deny the thoughts that flooded my mind at being faced with the same dilemma. Was it because of her innocence that I couldn't let her die? A part of me reacted to that. She was…different from anyone else involved in the war. Even Potter and Weasley had their bad moments, their violent tendencies. In all the time I'd known her, save the punch in the third year, she had never displayed any tendency to harm anyone. Weasley and Potter lost their tempers time and again, but she always remained calm, never attacked first. She was what I could never hope to be: completely and utterly innocent, the embodiment of peace in the midst of a war.

"What am I doing? This is going to get me killed…" Covering my face in my hands, I let out a deep breath. I couldn't let thoughts like these wander my mind unchecked. No. I could never let myself be impulsive like that again. Last time had been lucky, no one had seen my act of kindness towards the enemy. If it even crossed my mind to do it again, I wouldn't be so lucky the second time.

A soft pop brought me out of my thoughts, nearly causing me to jump. I looked around the room, scanning for any abnormalities, wand already in hand.

"Lumos." Nothing was out of place, but a bundle of cloth lay on the bedside table that had been empty moments before. I reached out to grab it, immediately recognizing it for what it was. My invisibility cloak. Granger had assumed I'd stolen Potter's. Did this mean she would do as I said? She must have told the house elf to bring it back to me. Why, though? Did she think she was paying me back for helping her? Probably. We were far from even, but I could appreciate the effort. No note accompanied the cloak, and I knew she understood the need for secrecy.

Any more sleep wasn't likely, so I got up, shrugging on my black cloak. It was impossible to tell what time it was. Walking out into the dungeons felt surreal, knowing that I was the only "student" left. The Order had managed to get all the students out. A strange urge to explore the castle took me, but I ignored it. I didn't want to see the destruction we had caused.

Regardless, I allowed myself to roam. The halls were empty, and I could only assume Voldemort had taken up residence in the Headmaster's office. I found myself taking a familiar path from the dungeons, up to the seventh floor, towards a corridor I had become painstakingly familiar with. The door appeared without me consciously asking for it, which caught me slightly off guard. It didn't stop me from going inside, though. Maybe this would offer me some insight? I was confused with my own actions, after all.

The Room of Requirement was small, only about the size of a regular bedroom. There was a single chair in the middle, and three of the four walls were bare. The one that wasn't was directly in front of the chair. It displayed a large portrait, obnoxiously large, if you asked me. The ceiling was somewhat low, only hovering above me by about two feet, and the portrait ran straight from the floor to the ceiling. That's not what struck me as odd, however. The portrait was of an office, with a desk and a grand chair behind it. It had an air of familiarity, but I couldn't place it.

Suddenly, I watched as someone emerged into the portrait. My mind momentarily ceased to function, my heart stopping. Dumbledore, smiling as always, with that insufferable twinkle in his eye, decided to sit behind the desk.

"Ah, Mr. Malfoy…I was wondering how long it would take you to find this particular room. Please, have a seat." I could do nothing but obey. Of course, I knew every headmaster had his portrait set up in the office, so it shouldn't surprise me to see the late headmaster in a portrait. No, what surprised me was where this portrait was. Why had the Room of Requirement given me a room with the portrait of Dumbledore?

When I finally sat, he simply looked at me through his half-moon spectacles, smiling knowingly. Crazy old man had a tendency of annoying me sometimes, and this was one of them. My shocks weren't over, however, and I had barely enough time to take in and process my annoyance when a second shock went through me.

Severus Snape was walking into the portrait's frame, nonchalant and aloof as ever. My mentor took a glance at me, then at Dumbledore, and settled himself off to the side of the desk, leaning against it. He was morose, and I didn't blame him. Again, I wasn't really surprised at the fact that he was in a portrait at Hogwarts, seeing as he had been headmaster, however brief. However, his portrait should also be exclusively in the headmaster's office, not here. Not to mention that the sight of him simply brought back the image of his mangled and destroyed body, and the fact that I'd slept in his old bed moments after his corpse had vacated it. I had to suppress a shudder.

"Draco, I assume you do not know why you are here…" Snape's bored voice grated on my already frayed nerves. Was I supposed to?

"Clearly, given by the confusion so blatantly on my face." If they were alive, I would never have been this disrespectful. But, the truth of the matter was, both these men were dead and could do absolutely nothing to me. Keeping that in mind, I allowed myself to take some of my frustrations out on their images. Snape scowled at me, but Dumbledore continued completely unfazed.

"Well, we are here to help you." Even in the portrait, the twinkle in his eye was noticeable as ever.

"Help me? In what, exactly?"

"You tell us, Draco. You are, after all, the one that needs this room…" Snape, again, was being aloof and cryptic, qualities usually reserved for his predecessor. I scowled at them both.

"I don't need any help."

"Then perhaps it's guidance you require? Hence the name of the room…" Dumbledore was smiling, and it was almost as annoying in the portrait as it had been in his life. Did I really need guidance? For what, exactly? I had the sudden urge to tell them about my encounter with Granger, or, better yet, to ask them questions about their involvement in everything, to know for sure what side Snape had been on. I leaned back on the chair, crossing my arms in front of me.

"I'm not quite sure what I need guidance with, but I do know one thing. I have questions, lots of them, mind you. I'd like some answers." Snape's face immediately went from passive to apprehensive. Of course, the man wanted to protect his secrets, even in death. Dumbledore, on the other hand, looked at me with a knowing smile. It unnerved me, to say the least.

"Ask away Mr. Malfoy, and we will do our best to answer." I was taken aback by how easily this would work. Were they really going to answer anything? I decided to test that theory.

"Professor Snape, who's side were you really on? Judging by this portrait, I can guess for myself, but I'd like to hear it from you." My godfather scowled at me, and I simply returned his stare, waiting for confirmation of what I already suspected.

"Clearly, Draco, I am Dumbledore's man." I nodded. Fair enough.

"Were you always a spy?"

"No." He was keeping his answers short, obviously unwilling to share his life story. However, I wasn't about to let it go.

"Why?"

"Voldemort was going to do something I did not agree with, and I couldn't stop him. I came to Albus for help in exchange for my services as a spy." Again with the ambiguity. Snape, of all people, knew I was relentless.

"What was he going to do?" He faltered at my question, clearly reluctant. He looked to Dumbledore, scowling, but the elder man simply nodded and gestured toward me, for Snape to continue.

"He was going to kill Lily Potter. I was the one that told him of the prophecy and he interpreted to be, as you know, Harry Potter. That put his mother directly in danger and I couldn't allow her to die." Now there was an answer I hadn't been expecting. As far as I knew, Lily Potter had been a Mudblood. Why would Snape want to protect her? I tried to keep my own Mudblood issues at bay when I asked my next question.

"Why not? What did you care if the Mudblood died or not?" I'd never seen Snape as angry as he was in that moment. I almost took back what I said. Almost.

"Don't EVER say that word in my presence, understand?" I simply nodded, not bothering to hide my surprised expression. "She and I were childhood friends. We grew apart in school when she befriended James Potter. I…" He trailed off, but I could see by the look on his face where he was going with his story. I wasn't known for being good with emotions, but I can read people, and Snape's face was an open book.

"You loved her." It wasn't a question. He simply looked at me. I could barely contain the next question. "Does Potter know?" How would The Boy Who Lived take the news of his least favorite teacher loving his mother?

"Yes. I made sure he knew when I died." And that seemed to mark the end of my conversation with Snape. He didn't speak again, and I waited for the elaboration that never came. Dumbledore decided to pick up where he left off.

"Severus has been a priceless asset to our cause. If it were not for him, you would have surely been killed by Voldemort, Mr. Malfoy. I ordered Snape to kill me, so you wouldn't have to. The Unbreakable Vow he made with your mother simply fell right into place with our plan." I needed time to take all of this in. How had he kept his spy status secret from Voldemort? The question must have been blatantly obvious on my face. "I'm aware, Mr. Malfoy, that you know what Occlumency is?"

"Yes." I was exceptionally gifted at it. However, no matter how gifted, how could he have kept something this crucial from Voldemort? Sure, I'd managed to keep secret helping Granger, but that was nothing compared to the secret Snape was keeping. Besides, Voldemort was known for being paranoid. He had to have paid special attention to Snape, didn't he? "He must have really trusted you if you were able to get away with such an important task. Is that why he killed you? Did he find out?"

"No." He spat the word, and the vehemence in such a simple word caught me off-guard. Why then? "He killed me because the Elder Wand was not working properly for him. But, judging by the damage he's done to the Headmaster's office, I can see killing me did not produce the effect he'd been expecting." I knew about the Elder Wand from stories my mother told me as a child. Voldemort had the Elder Wand? I knew the legend of it, knew how it worked. He would have to defeat the master of the wand before being able to use it properly. Did that mean Snape had been its master? If that was the case, then Dumbledore had been the master before hand.

"So you were its previous master?"

"No. Albus was. Because we had planned his death, ownership of the wand did not transfer to me. The wand chooses the wizard, remember?"

"Then who did it choose?" Dumbledore decided to take up answering me.

"You." The answer hit me like a bucket of cold water. Why? It annoyed me that that had been the one question roaming my mind for the better part of a day now.

"Why me?"

"It's a mystery, the way a wand chooses its master. I simply know it chose you. However, I believe you were disarmed at some point this summer? That would mean wand ownership transferred again." I thought about that. He was right. Potter had disarmed me. It was his now. That must have been why it hadn't worked properly against him. Potter's damnable luck had saved him. Again.

"Potter is its master now." They both nodded at me. I was getting the answers I wanted, but I didn't know if I was ready for it. Now that I knew all of this, what was I supposed to do with it? Better yet, how in the bloody hell was I supposed to hide it from Voldemort? I'm sure he knew that the wand wasn't working for him properly, hence why he'd inspected Snape's body before. If he found out that ownership had transferred to me, I was as good as dead. He wouldn't care that I'd been disarmed by Potter and that it was now his. "So what am I supposed to do?"

"That, Mr. Malfoy, is for you to decide. We're merely here to provide guidance."

"Won't Voldemort find it suspicious that neither of you are in your portraits?" Dumbledore, for some strange reason, smiled at the mention of his name. It didn't hit me until later that I hadn't realized when I'd made the change from 'Dark Lord' to 'Voldemort.'

"Like I said before, Draco. He did a great deal of damage to the Headmaster's office. All the portraits were destroyed, ours included." That was the only answer they'd given me that hadn't produced a thousand more questions. I nodded, acknowledging what he said. It didn't keep the paranoia away, though. With a sign I bent over in my chair, burying my face in my hands. What was I going to do?

As if reading my mind, Dumbledore said, "You'll know what to do when the time comes, Mr. Malfoy. I have every confidence in you." I left the room without so much as a polite farewell, more confused than I was before. If only I had as much confidence as Dumbledore did.

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