Losses beyond imagining

Chapter 58

The Jennings’ heads did appear in the papers. The arrest and the confrontation with themselves had rattled them severely. As Harry and Elphaba were swamped in forms, building the case against them, Hermione sat at Draco’s side in St. Mungo’s.

Both she and Narcissa were constantly present, with Andromeda an occasional visitor.

It had been awful… All of it, so awful. Draco wouldn’t wake… He’d stir, but nothing else. Hermione had gotten flashbacks of Harry’s coma, but this was an entirely different cause. There was no solution the healers had informed them. Draco’s body had to fight this battle alone…

Calling Narcissa had been horrendous. Harry had offered to do it, but Hermione felt the task belonged to her. All alone, Hermione had faced his grieving mother, trying to explain as Narcissa had clutched her wand tightly, ready for the kill.

“It… he chose to do so himself…” Hermione had stammered.

“I find that very hard to believe…” Narcissa had sneered. “Despite my warnings?”

Hermione nodded. He truly had stepped into harm’s way himself.

“I told him…” Narcissa said, gnashing her teeth, “to be careful… I told him it wouldn’t be kind to our kind…” Tears were streaming over her face and she lost her grip. Her wand slipped out of her hand onto the floor and Narcissa herself could barely hang on: a nearby chair serving as her support.

“Take me to him…” she finally said.

It was two days later and Draco still hadn’t woken. Hermione left the hospital with a heavy heart that evening. Harry and Elphaba would visit her and Andromeda had taken her place at Draco’s bed.

“Still no sign of any change…” she said, pouring them a cup of tea. “What do the Jennings say happened? Perhaps it can help…”

“We have questioned them…. The interrogations are going rather well.” Harry said. “They readily admitted most of their crimes…”

“She isn’t too keen on performing the counter-curses though…” Elphaba added. “But I’m sure we’ll be able to talk her ‘round..”

“Threatening her with the Kiss will probably do the trick,” Harry agreed. “They said,” he began answering Hermione’s question. “That they saw their deeds in a different light. Themselves in a different light. Jemina saw herself as a sort of Voldemort in reverse: different ideals, but similar methods. It was a huge shock for her…. She still considered herself to be one of the good guys…”

“You’d glimpsed him in the mirror, didn’t you?” Hermione recalled.

“I think Draco did too…” Harry said, pondering. “What was he thinking?”

“I think….” Hermione said, tears forming in her eyes. “He wanted to be… redeemed, cleansed… He… It’s still a heavy burden for him, everything that happened, everything that he did…”

“So his mother was right?” Elphaba wondered. “It was dangerous to him, despite being a heirloom…”

Hermione gritted her teeth. “It makes me so angry!” she spat. “He shouldn’t be punished for doing the right thing!”

Harry grabbed her hand. “You must continue to hope…” he said. “I came back too..”

“It sounds rather like what you said about the Horcruxes,” Elphaba noted. “That the soul may be reunited but it takes great pain…”

“That wasn’t about Draco!”

“I know, ”Elphaba replied. “Still, a confrontation with his dark deeds can’t have been painless…”

“It is odd…” Harry said. “The Jennings have killed before. But you said, Hermione, that Draco hadn’t… Not even during the War… So you’d think that… the effect of the mirror… I don’t get it either.”

“He was a Death-Eater.” Elphaba continued, despite a glaring Hermione…

“I think,” Hermione said, “that it may be so precisely because he regretted his actions more than they did… Not because his actions were worse, but his regrets deeper…”

“That does sound plausible…” Harry agreed. “I guess we’ll find out when he wakes..”

The dreaded ‘if’ wasn’t spoken by any of them.

“Cissy?” Lucius called out, when he heard her footsteps, the following morning. “You haven’t been home for days… What’s going on?”

Narcissa went into the living room and threw a vase at him in answer to his question.

“Are you happy now?!” Narcissa yelled in agony at her husband’s portrait. “Draco is horribly wounded and for all we know… we might never…. I might never see him again…” A moan passed her lips.

“Draco?” he whispered. “What happened to him?”

Narcissa explained about the Bole, the Dark Stones her mother had often mentioned, the book in the library that had burnt her fingers, Draco’s actions despite her warnings…

Lucius had never looked as deflated in life as he now did in death. “My son…. my only son…” he whimpered, a solitary tear running down his cheek. He wiped it away as he left the door behind his chair, craving solitude, unable to face his wife….

How had it come to this? Narcissa felt frightfully lonely. Without her husband and son, how would she survive? Would she even want to?

Facing himself in the mirror had been the most frightening thing Draco had ever done. Yet he had felt so sure of himself when he stepped into the light. Could he really expel his darkness?

Although his body had fallen down, stone-cold, on the ground, Draco’s mind had been whirling with thoughts and memories. He had been a horrible child, a difficult teen…

It wasn’t easy facing his younger self again, yet it was his older self that was the real hurdle. His shameful actions at the Quidditch World Cup, learning and practicing the Unforgivable Curses. He’d killed a fair share of animals with the Avada Kadavra spelland had used the Crutiatus curse several times, even on first years…

Of course, during the War everything had become permissible. Draco had used it to his advantage.

But, despite all his cruel actions during wartime, the worst he had to face were his interactions with Hermione over the years…

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