Valebis

Never will a Lover's body, be found buried in the earth. To Love is to be God.

(Draco's POV)

Since the day, I knew for certain what exactly I would have to do to save Lily Potter's life, I had expected it to be the most difficult thing I will ever have to do.

I guess, if I am honest, I knew what I had to do when I got that letter.

It was an undeniable prompt pushing down on my Healer's instinct.

And I had wondered as I stood before the mirror if I would actually be able to do what it required of me.

Until the moment the skies opened to my pleading I was in doubt.

But the sky did open, if only it is I that will ever be witness to that miracle.

The sky did open. And it gave life to one and death to the other.

As always has been the case in my life.

Realizations come too late.

And when they come, they come at me like a sharp, unyielding sword, that would have its share of blood and pain.

The deal is made saltier with how unchangeable and permanent the decisions I end up making are. I wonder if everyone makes as many of them as I have in my life. Short as it will be. I will never witness the opening of the sky again. I will never be able to share it with any other soul.

Seven days. Just seven more days.

The symptoms won't start showing until the second day.

Will lose consciousness, hopefully, by the fifth day.

Last moments, dying in a coma.

It's the best deal I could hope to get.

At least I get two whole days to crow my victory to myself.

And what a flawless victory it's been!

The girl safe and perfect, like any daughter of Harry Potter, the saviour of the Wizarding world, is supposed to be.

The whole big family of red-heads happy and safe, still in time to make new year's resolutions and not feel awkward about it.

And a smiling, grateful and humbled Potter looking at me as if I am a living miracle.

I am a miracle. That part is correct. But not a living one, not for long.

If you can define me as anything, it is dying.

"Do you need anything?" asks junior Potter for the sixth time I think.

I look away from the day that has dawned. I need to remember everything of this day, and then save the memory of it in a vial. I will bequeath it to Aali, to use in a time of despair, to see how rewarding self-sacrifice can be.

"I am fine, just a little rest I suppose, and make sure your father gets some too, the sooner the better. He is barely keeping himself sitting up. Give him a muscle-relaxant too, but in a spoon coated with honey, it regulates the potion." I murmur at him as if it is a thing just between him and I. In as many days, I have come to learn how to operate this boy which is exactly like operating Aali.

He looks impressed and a little bit more awed if that is even possible at this point. It should irritate me, but it doesn't.

I smile at him.

"I have a whole journal of such little tips that make the usual healing potions infinitely much better, I'll make you a copy."

The smile on his face is priceless, before he hurriedly turns away with a purpose and makes his way to where Potter is still sitting with his daughter who is undergoing every possible diagnostic spell Rose Weasley can think of. And I realize, all of a sudden, that it is going to be so much harder to leave than I thought.

Without realizing I have fell in love with Potter's spawn too.

This boy, this brilliant boy, so much like his father yet so different for the circumstances that have shaped him.

The lump in my throat and the tingling behind my eyeballs makes me look away, only to find a pair of older warm brown eyes watching me.

She crosses the few yards of distance between us her expression unreadable, and takes the empty glass from my hand before spelling it full again from the tip of her wand and handing me back.

I take a sip without looking away from her.

She keeps looking at me searchingly for a few seconds before she speaks.

"I don't know what your arrangement is with Harry, or even if there was any arrangement for services rendered. I know him enough to know that he would not see this situation that way, nonetheless, I want you to know, that if ever in your life you need my help, with anything, you have it, I offer you my favour upon the honour of my magic Draco Malfoy, do you accept?"

For a split-second I wonder if she actually knows what she is offering me, but then I remember who it is in front of me and of course she knows what she is offering me. I am surprised. But then I should not be. Offering a favour upon the honour of one's magic is the ultimate vow one magical person may make to the other. It is like offering one's life and magic to another. Much like a life debt.

And she is not offering me A favour, which would limit the times I can call on her for aid just once, she is offering me the favour, which means that I could call on her whenever I please and she will come to my aid even if it is a life-threatening situation.

It is an ultimate sort of gift of gratitude. And to have it from one of the brightest witches of her age is no small deal.

Bloody Gryffindor nobility.

"I will accept 'A' favour Granger, if it's so important to you, though no one here owes me anything, I was just doing my job."

She nods at me solemnly. Before she turns to look at Lily who is being coaxed into letting her father go and rest by Rose and Albus. The girl reluctantly lets go of Potter's arm that she was curled around and turns to look at me for some reason pleadingly. No one has noticed the change in her yet. No one has noticed her eyes. Where they were a brilliant but dark Sea-green naturally, they have changed now, into a more vivid and clearer grey-green, a mix of her father's and mine. Though, in the light from this angle they seem greyer with just a hint of green.

My heart clenches in my chest.

And another realization hits me.

She is now mine too.

Just as much as she is Potter's.

Or Ginny Weasley's.

She is mine too now.

Always has been. By some strange obscure magical anomaly, she has always had a part of me. Or was missing a part of me that was always meant to be hers. She has it now, and she is so perfect. The most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

And then my vision of Lily is obstructed by long red hair and a white silk sleeping robe.

Ginny Weasley.

She is wrapping her arms around her child and husband.

All hostility forgotten, all doubts ignored.

Such propriety, such claim.

A child now safe in the arms of her mother and father.

Who am I?

And I did not realize that I still had enough heart left in my chest to break a little more.

Cut a little more.

Bleed a little more.

A part of me understands the obstruction. Understands that she may be mine now too, but it is only for myself to know. I have no rights to her, no space.

She has her father and mother. Who will love her dearly and ceaselessly until the end of their days.

A life-time of love, trust and protection she will have with them.

What could I possibly give her now? I have given the very last thing that I had. And all of the rest, she will have plenty for the rest of her life.

I have no right to feel slighted, no right to feel desolate and no right to feel as I am being replaced because I never really had a place.

I thought I had that reasoned out inside my mind. But apparently hurt knows and stands by no reasoning. It circulates and congeals in the crevices of one's psyche, before it poisons everything.

I remember all of a sudden that I have had an audience all along as I tried to cope with this final blow.

I glance up to find startled brown eyes staring down at me.

"Now, if you'd excuse me, Granger, I need to rest… As you can imagine, it's been a very long night."

"Draco...I…"she starts to say something, and I for the life left in me will not acknowledge the exposing of my emotion which she might have just now noticed. So I stand up, it is unbearable to stay in the room, especially when my joints are starting to ache with lethargy.

"Save it for later, Granger…" I stand waving my hand at her in dismissal. As I start to make my way out of the room.

She follows me out to my chagrin.

"But, Draco… the unbreakable vow…?"

I had forgotten about that, but it's redundant anyway. I do not have my magic anymore, and an unbreakable vow is made on magic, not flesh.

"You can do the ritual on Lily's hand, she has a part of my magic now, I think it will work by proxy too until she fully assimilates. I am too sensitive to come into direct magic right now and might be for a few days yet."

"Oh… I see. And she isn't sensitive?" she inquires quietly, following me down the stairs. I know she is being watchful. It irritates me beyond description. Bloody Gryffindors!

"No, she is going to be perfectly comfortable, in fact I encourage doing as much magic as possible on her and around her. The more she comes into contact with it, the faster she will assimilate. If it can be arranged, get her the consent from the ministry, so that she can start casting small spells at home until she goes back to Hogwarts."

"Which should be when?"

"Oh as soon as possible, a week at most."

She grimaces for some reason at that, which I can see in a gold plated mirror that adorns the wall of the first platform. I do not know its purpose, or the aesthetic value of it hanging there, apart from making me notice for the first time how I actually look.

Yes, like death warmed over.

It is as if in a split-second, the long 20 years have vanished, and in front of me stands the same reflection that had confronted me the day this death sentence was written.

Only difference, I was crying then. Lamenting at my misfortune and chances lost.

Now I stand here as the sole conqueror in a war no one knew was being fought all the while. All the chances left, taken superbly and executed flawlessly.

It's strange that I still look exactly the same.

There should be some difference between the loser and the victor.

But I realize, I was only ever me.

Victor or loser, I am me. And there is no fighting with fate.

"Are you okay?" her voice breaks through my revelation and I am all of a sudden back in place.

"I'm swell." I answer before I turn away from my reflection.

She's following me still when I reach the door to my room.

I turn to face her, feeling defensive. But the expression on her face stops me short.

"Harry regrets it, you know."

I don't have the faintest idea what she is talking about, but I can tell from her face that it's important.

"I am not advocating for my best friend…" she pauses "Okay, yes I am, but I just want you to know, that he regrets with all his heart what happened at the Wizengamot the day you were pardoned. There had been a faction of wizards and witches at the ministry who were really lobbying against you and Harry speaking in your favour at the trials. He was taking a lot of rubbish from a lot of people, including some of our very close friends, and he knew what such hatred was capable of, how easy people find it to harm those who they think have betrayed them. Harry was exhausted that day, and then you came up to him, and what happened, happened, and…"

I am frozen.

"He was so worried when you went missing, did not sleep for days, looking, asking around. He was afraid that one of those against you had done you some harm… That was until common sense kicked in, and I made him realize that if the protection of the manor was still intact then you were alive. Only then his search changed and he started looking for you, tracked all Malfoy properties around Europe which as you know is one of the most difficult things to do. It went on for years. And he would only ever tell me about it. How he regretted letting his temper get the best of him at that moment. How he felt like he failed you just like everyone else in your life. I think, after Sirius' death, he regretted what happened with you the most. It changed his whole perspective, I am only saying all this because… Because I want you to give him a chance. An honest chance Draco….

I can't hear it anymore. My insides are boiling and I have no idea where the anger is coming from. But it is there inside my chest like a beast. My veins hurt and my vision is red.

"A chance? Do not talk to me of chance, Granger! I never got any chances in my life! My life did not come together once the battle between evil and good was over like yours did, that was when my life started tearing into irreparable shreds. I never had chances, or choices, I have had enough! I have done enough! I have nothing left to give. No chances, Granger. Not even a space of a breath have I to give! Not to you! Not to him! Not to any bloody creature in this whole wide universe. I have done my part, a hundred times over. No one has any right to ask anything of me anymore, not after…"

I realize what I am about to say and by some miracle I stop.

Or perhaps my body has run out of its rage as quickly as it had come.

Her face is full of concern. And she is brilliant.

And I am breaking.

It reduces the slot of my escape considerably.

"Just… Just give me some space, Granger, let me breathe, I am so tired…."

I open the door to the room, my flimsy sanctuary and enter quickly shutting the door behind me with enough firmness to get the concept across.

It comes to me, the irony of the situation then, and I cannot help but laugh at the sick melodramatic tragedy that is my existence.

I don't stop laughing. Even when the tears come.

All I can think of is the hilarity.

One look, just one look from him had done what twenty long years of yearning and longing had not done to me.

Even if that was the moment when I started dying for good, I lived.

And then he killed me again.

What cost I have had to pay for taking that hand so many years ago to save myself from the raging fire…

Twenty three years of slow burning.

I am ablaze now. Like a candle that flickers with passion before going out at the break of dawn.

Its time to go.

I stand in the middle of the room. Taking in every minute detail. Remembering the laughter that echoed in these sacred walls just a few days ago.

I wish I could bottle the essence of this room and keep it with me until life leaves my husk.

The note is ready on the desk. And the gifts too. I missed Christmas, but it's still not too late.

The case full of vials of the special nourishing potion Lily would need to take for the next week or so.

And just by the case lays my Olive wand. Which now rightfully belongs to Lily Luna Potter. I have left the instructions in the note. It will work for her even better than her own chosen wand ever did.

A copy of my life's work, my Healer's journal lies next to the potion case for Albus Potter. The original will of course go to Aali.

The wand though, might give away some of the secrets. But I will be too far by then.

I want to see him one last time. Without 'her' blocking my sight of him.

I want to see Lily and Albus and Rose one last time.

But one wish is too much to come true in one day for the likes of me.

I hear the Floo ping downstairs with a rush.

"Luna!" someone says loudly.

And I know that my chance is gone.

I cannot face her. I reach for my cloak and my small bag. Fishing out the printed silk handkerchief that belonged to my mother. It's warm with Portkey magic. I am thankful that my Veela magic is still going to be functional for the next 48 hours and will enable me to Portkey, before of course, it starts tearing me apart.

I hear the sound of someone climbing the stairs fast just as I say the activation password. The last thing I see is the shadow under my door, before I am squeezed away from it all.

Out of breath and away from life.


(Harry's POV)

"No! No! No!"

Luna looks paler and more distraught than I have ever seen her in our entire acquaintance.

I wonder where she got back from.

She did not look like this even when she had been rescued from the dungeons of Malfoy Manor. After days of torture and starvation.

Hermione is holding her close to stop her from shaking.

I look at Rolfe who looks as if he has not slept in weeks.

"What is going on?" I ask from the door of the small powder room where they are all gathered.

Everyone in the room stiffens as if I am a Dementor standing at the door way. Or a boggart.

Luna looks up at me, her luminous eyes red. And just shakes her head before pressing her hands to her eyes and curling into herself.

"Harry," Rolfe comes towards me

The grim look on Hermione's face is enough to send my mind reeling and before I know I am running towards the stairs. My mind showing me one devastating possibility after the other.

I fly upstairs, but it's not fast enough.

Leo and Albus are standing in the corridor. Just outside my bedroom.

That was where I had made Lily go to sleep.

Before any of them could say a word I open the door wide and rush inside.

Only to see Lily sleeping peacefully, and looking absolutely fine.

At the commotion though, her brilliant eyes open. And I am so close now. And she is fine…Absolutely fine.

Only I notice for the first time.

Her eyes have changed in colour.

A striking silvery green.

Ginny and Rose also startle awake from their places on the couch.

"Her eyes have changed colour…"

I say to no one, hoping the one I am really asking for would answer the door to his room is open.

There does not seem to be anything wrong with her other than that though and I know he must have an answer. He does to everything.

"It's a catalogued reaction to replacing of Magical cores."

It's not the voice that I was expecting, which makes me turn around.

Leo, stands in the doorway with a strange expression I cannot quite understand.

I look behind him waiting for a flash of spurned platinum.

"He is gone Harry."

It does not make sense.

I look back towards my daughter. She looks healthy. Perfect. Different.

"Sorry I startled you poppet." I correct the blanket around her unnecessarily just to gather my wits so that I can understand what chaos is happening around me. I had been asleep for not more than 3 hours and it seems the world has suddenly changed shape.

She lies back down without saying a word, her startling silver green eyes, watching me closely. Solid silver mixed with green and the words suddenly echo in my mind again.

"Catalogued reaction to replacing of Magical cores."

"Replacing of magical core."

"Replacing…"

I turn around and stare at Leo and Albus.

Albus looks as if his face is made of ash. A dark green leather bound note-book is clutched to his chest and the other hand is squeezed between Leo's strong fingers.

I quickly step out of the room, grabbing Leo's arm on the way out.

Once the door is closed I flick my wand towards the door with a muffliato.

"Did I hear you correct, Leo? Did you just say 'Replacing' of magical core." I don't know why but my head turns towards the open door to Draco's room. And my legs move on their own accord.

I haven't waited for Leo's answer.

There is too much going on.

I don't know what is going on.

The room is empty.

The bed is made, all the papers are gone from the night stand.

I enter, my heart beating in my chest like a drum, head spinning.

The desk is empty. Except for a brown leather potion case and…

Draco's wand.

Not the one that moved to my will.

The other one.

The strange-coloured one, a greenish grey and smooth as if dipped in oil.

My mind registers that he is gone.

The feeling is sinking in.

It should be betrayal.

But it's not.

I close my eyes and inhale deeply.

It's not betrayal that I feel. Betrayal is hot, angry and fierce.

No, this is not betrayal.

This is lost, cold, terrifying and miserable.

This is abandonment.

Being left behind.

He said…

I turn around to the crowd that is now gathered outside the door. Leo, Albus, Hermione, Ron, Rolfe and Luna.

I feel so lost. So desolate.

"Is someone going to explain what in the bloody hell is going on?"

It's Hermione who steps forward towards me to speak. She has been speaking to me the longest of all those present. Her words have always penetrated the deepest into me.

"Come with us downstairs, we'll sit down and talk."

Like a lost child that is taken home by a kind stranger she takes my arm and I follow her.

I don't know how long has past since I sat down in this spot and a hot cup of coffee was handed to me. It feels like centuries of waiting, but when I look at the cup filled with the milky Coffee, it is still steaming, so it's not been long.

Hermione sits next to me on the blue lounger while Luna sits with Rolfe on the love seat facing the lounger.

Albus and Leo sit on the rug. Albus' head leaned against my thigh. He looks so exhausted and worried, I can't help but bury my hand in his messy black hair that looks like mine but are much softer, like his mother's. Leo is still holding his other hand though. He is not alone. He has the one that loves him next to him. He is not abandoned.

A silent communication passes between Hermione and Luna and Hermione starts speaking.

"It seems that Draco lied about the ritual he was going to perform on Lily." She pauses.

"No actually, it doesn't seem that way, it is that way. Draco deliberately lied to us all about the ritual he was going to perform on Lily. It seems that instead of a transfusion or a donation of a piece of his magical core, he actually went ahead and replaced Lily's magical core with his own. Taking into him Lily's diseased core and in result…"

"Her ailment." I complete the sentence. Feeling the blank and cold dread inside me increase in size.

"Yes… I think he did it…" I cut her off mid sentence.

"Because there was no other way for Lily to survive…"

"Harry he performed perhaps the most extraordinary magic I have encountered or even read about in my whole life…"

"I know, I was there, it wasn't magic at all, it was transcendence… I might have caught a glimpse of God or something, because that is what it looked like…"

The startled faces of them all would be comical if the situation was not so…

I don't even have a word. I am too shocked, as if I am totally detached from it all.

"So you are telling me that Draco has sacrificed his life force for Lily…" I continue for them.

The nod Hermione gives me feels like a punch in the gut. Not so detached after all.

"That is going a bit far for a life-debt… Why would he even? He could have told me, I would have done this for Lily...I am her father…" something is squeezing my chest,

"Because he was the only one who could do it for Lily…Harry you don't understand, Only Draco could do this for Lily, because he is the reason this happened to Lily in the first place." Luna speaks for the first time.

What?

Even for Luna, that is a far-fetched allegation.

She sees the vitriol that is about to explode out of me. And puts a stop to it …

"Listen to me, Harry. I know you will probably hate me for the rest of our lives when I tell you this, but it is necessary that you know this… I have just come back from the Chitchuk Magicia Province. I have been to the Herald Island the only colony of the Drakenoids. I took Lily's blood with me because Drakenoids are gifted with the power of prognosis. It's impossible to get to them, but it took Rolfe and I weeks, and I was successful. Their leader took one sniff of Lily's blood and told me that she had a faulty magical core because one of her parents was effected by an incomplete Veela bond when she was conceived. It was time specific. It is an extremely rare case, but it has happened before with creature-inheritence. There is only a single recorded case in their knowledge and it is a stuff of legend even for them."

"I have no idea what you are saying…it makes no sense… Is it to do with Ginny?"

"NO, Harry! It's to do with you… You are the one who has an incomplete bond with a Veela. It was not a total rejection, because…"

Her pause is like a shard of glass hitting an embedded nail in the skin of my psyche.

"Because you took the wand, Harry…"

Took the wand?

Hermione interrupts.

"That book I gave you for Christmas, Harry. Of all the wand lore it contains, it also contains the wand lore related to Veela. When a male Veela chooses a mate, he offers his wand to the mate, the mate has to accept the wand into their possession perform magic from it and offer a blood ceremony in return. Which forms a Veela bond. It is a very specific and intimate ritual. In order to refuse the bond, the chosen mate has to refuse the wand. The Veela can then move on and find another mate. But, if a chosen mate takes the wand from the Veela but does not offer back the blood ceremony, the Veela's magic is broken, the Veela becomes a Detruit, and eventually dies, because of the destruction it causes to the magic. This is not common knowledge Harry, because male Veelas are extremely rare. And what is even rarer is a full-male Veela."

I shoot a look at Luna. Something is surfacing in my mind.

"Yes, I think you remember, how Rolfe and I went on a hunt for a full-male Veela with the boys around 10 years ago…"

"But you…"

"I did find the full-male Veela, Harry. Our search led us to Turkey, word of mouth was that he was a wandering Healer, and I found him in a café in Istanbul. But it turned out I knew who he was. He was my saviour, and he was a Veela, and he was Detruit. And it was Draco. I saw Draco in Istanbul. And I recognized he was the Veela, I had started to suspect about his triggered Veela inheritance when I was in the Malfoy Dungeon. He was under psychic torture constantly because of his failure with Dumbledore. I figured that was what triggered his creature inheritance as a natural defense. But I never even suspected that he could be a full-male Veela."

"So I never approached him in Istanbul, because I did not want to despair him. I thought I was doing the noble thing, because my inquiry would only bring him pain. And perhaps hurt his pride. He was hiding, obviously he did not want any people from his old life to know about his situation, or so I assumed. So I kept quiet, and I hate myself now, but I did not know Harry… I did not know then. I did not know about the wand lore, I did not know that it was possible for me to help him."

"I only started to suspect last year. I read it in a scroll in the Chitchuk Library. But then when I got back Lily got sick and it all got buried underneath that…"

It starts to fall together finally.

"Because you took the wand, Harry…"

I took the wand from Draco at the Manor. That is how I gained mastery.

I thought I had won it.

All these years I thought I had won it from him, which is why it obeyed me.

Veela has to choose a mate, offer the wand.

"Wait… I took the wand…"

Luna's wide eyes are staring at me. Blood-shot, tired…

"Are you saying that… I…"

"Who else could it be? According to what little information we have, full-male Veelas are the leaders of the flock they do not mate for reproduction, they mate for compatibility, power and magic, they are extremely powerful mages, proud, over-possessive and volatile, which is why their mates hold such power over them, even word commands in some cases, The most kind-hearted and powerful witch or wizard would be the best bet for the full-male Veela. In Draco's case, he was always a bit obsessed with you, fixated some would say, and you were and are the most powerful wizard of our time, so it was only natural for the Veela to…"

"And I took the wand… And I took the wand…. But I took the wand… I won it…"

"Even so. You were his chosen mate. We do not know the specifics, only that you took the wand and you used it. Cast some very serious and heavy magic with it. It responded to you perfectly, in some cases exceptionally. It won you the war."

"And then I threw it back in his face. I threw it back, and I told him to get lost, I told him to make sure that I never even heard of him again… You said word-command just now didn't you, Luna? Which means, I had that power over him. And I… He wasn't hiding Luna… He was banished…"

My breath catches in my chest. I feel as if my soul is ripping apart. Luna is now fully crying. But I can't blame her. No, only I am to blame in this. Only I.

I did not even listen to him. I did not even let him say his part. How much more am I going to regret that day?

"That is why he insisted on the phone call." Albus speaks for the first time.

His brilliant eyes stare up into mine.

"He specifically wanted you to call him and invite him over…because…"

I don't think I can complete this sentence for him. I don't think he wants to either.

I had banished someone from their home for twenty long years. Just because of something so stupid and petty. I deserve to burn in the seventh circle of hell.

And he could have abandoned me. He could have simply ignored Albus' letter. We did not know who he was, but he had known all along who we were. He came. He took care of my daughter, gave her all of his magic and life and then left without even saying goodbye, to die alone and helpless and in pain.

Just because of few careless words I said to him in a fit of anger and frustration.

This can't be the end of him, the end of me…

It can't.

I need to do something.

He could have told me somehow.

Could have written me a bloody letter explaining the situation.

He could have…

But then I realize.

He had been under house-arrest for three years.

All his correspondences were monitored.

His mother had been killed whilst under the so-called 'Ministry Protection'.

I imagine living in that kind of fear and despair all alone for three years. Waiting, wondering if he would be thrown into Azkaban, killed, or allowed to walk free.

All the while waiting hopefully and dreadfully for the chosen mate to accept the bond.

Chosen mate with a grudge against you the size of Canada.

Seeing the said mate, frolicking across the newspapers with someone else.

My sole existence has been nothing but pain for him. I did not know, had I known. Had I seen the heart of gold that was housed under all that prickliness, I would have done something.

Twenty fucking years!

'I saved your arse only because I owed it to your dead mother! I would have gladly let you die as you are as much of a useless evil git and Death Eater scum as your bloody father was! Hear THIS! And remember it! And follow it! If you know what is good for you, you will leave this country and you will never show your face around here! If you know what is good for you, I will never hear Draco Malfoy's name. I will never see your ugly ferret-face again! If you know what is good for you, Malfoy, you will stay out of trouble and die a nameless death in an obscure part of the world, Malfoy! Do you understand?'

It hurts under my skin, as if something is ripping me apart from the inside. As I watch the memory. Watch the hate in my eyes, the vitriol spilling out of mouth. Of all the people, I was unkind to the one who was beaten down already. I do not even remember why I was so angry at him. I'd not defended him because of his mother, I'd defended him because he was powerless and just a child like myself, just on the other side of the rope. Why did I not listen? Why did I not see? He looked so weak and strained as if made out of plastic. Folded into himself. I was supposed to be kind. I was supposed to…

I can't even think, I can't even imagine the breadth of his heart, that after all of it, and twenty years of suffering he still sacrificed his magic like this for my child.

How can I possibly live with that? It is already killing me. But no, it's killing him. This was my punishment, not his, but he has taken it on himself. How will I live with that?

I can't. I can't live with that.

As I review the memory, I see the pain as clear as day in every moment. Despair and hopelessness as I had never seen before, but, it's not over yet, no it isn't. No my ignorant sins are far too great.

'I ASKED IF YOU UNDERSTOOD, MALFOY?' Asks my younger self with such disgust and hatred that I cannot even fathom. I never hated him that much. And now, oh dear God Almighty.

'Yes.' He answers. I can see the tremors in his body, why did I not see them before?

'Good!' I say and fish inside my robe, pull out a wand and throw it in his face. It's Draco's wand. The wand hits the side of Draco's cheek, he does not even move his face in defence, and then falls down clanging against the marble floor. He looks at it as if it's an oncoming green–tinted spell. I see it all now, but I did not pay attention then.

I have always been ashamed of this memory. But never knew the depth of my fault. The consequence of it. Now I do.

'Now get lost and remain lost, Malfoy!'

And he did, he did just that word to word.

He got lost, lost his name, his identity, I never heard of him again, I never saw him again. I never saw Draco Malfoy again. What I did see and meet after twenty years was Ustad Beyazlamak.

I did not deserve even a flicker of the kindness he has shown me. Why did he? He was under no obligation. He…

Because he loved me. I was his chosen one.

And losing Lily would have broken me.

He came to save me, because I was still the one.

Someone out there loved me that much.

It was not just nature, was it? It was commitment.

I am pulled out of the memory.

And I can't breathe.

The pressure in my chest is too much.

I look up to see both Albus and Leo staring at me.

"I….What happens now? What happens now, Albus?"

"I don't know, Dad… But you need to hold yourself together… For us… please…"

His face is so tired and drawn.

I can't stand any longer, so I fall. As whacking sobs leave me panting. I can see in the shadows reflected in the light from the fire place in front of me that Albus moves towards me but Leo stops him.

I don't know how long I sob. But eventually the hiccups subside.

Something kicks open inside me as despair simmers down.

I have fought against so many impossibilities in my life. I will fight this too.

I look up at my son who is watching me, as if recognizing what is going on inside me.

And he nods at me, as if in agreement. My little snake.

"What was the situation of Lily's magical core when the Gegirgen was last cast on her? How much time did she approximately have?"

Albus frowns and wets his lips before shooting a look at Leo.

"Seven to nine days at most…"

Seven to nine days…. It will have to work…

Leo interrupts. Always so blunt, always so brave. "But… Draco has Detruit Veela magic, that will put even more strain on Lily's core… Because that is how the Detruit Veela dies, the Veela magic puts a strain on the life-force magic, making the wizard weak over time and that strain and sort of poisoning eventually kills them, I don't think he has as many days as Lily had…"

I can't help the sick feeling in my chest. The shattering beats of my heart.

But no, I can't give up now. I shake my head.

I have to find him. Even if I can't save him. I at least have to be there.

I have to be there at the end. Tell him that I love him before he is gone. Tell him that I love him for him.

This will be my punishment.

To know and feel the pain of abandonment.

Only he will be killed by it.

And I will have to live with it.

I have no doubt that his is the easy way out.

I have to track him down. And fast.

This will only end with him in my arms. I won't allow it any other way.

And I know just who to ask for help.



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