As his fingers clenched around the edge of the porcelain sink, Draco Malfoy stared into his reflection in the cracked mirror. Think, he told himself, just think. There must be something you haven't tried yet.
There was nothing to think of. He was doomed. He had tried, time and time again, to find some way to eliminate Dumbledore, to get Death Eaters into the school to get that damned Order of the Phoenix out of the way, but without that vanishing cabinet….
He had missed the last three days' classes. McGonagall was on him like a bird on a worm every time he ventured outside of the Room of Requirement, threatening him with detentions and visits to the Headmaster's office… stupid woman, thinking he gave a damn about classes anymore, when he had a mission given to him by the Dark Lord himself…. Though if she could get him face to face with Dumbledore, maybe he could find some way of killing him then… no, that would never work, not with McGonagall in the room….
He set his forehead against the broken glass. Come on, Draco, there must be something, something you've overlooked. Something that can save you. Something that can save your parents.
For if he failed –WHEN he failed—his parents would be slaughtered too. He would be forced to watch, most likely, as they would be killed some painful way, for the entertainment of the other Death Eater, before he, too was killed. He leaned back and then slammed his forehead against the mirror. A single shard of the glass fell into the sink.
He picked it up in his right hand. There was some Muggle saying he had heard, something about breaking a mirror caused years of misfortune. He hardly doubted his luck could get any worse, at this point.
He looked back into the mirror, and saw a ghostly figure rising up behind him. Myrtle. She smiled at him, shyly. "You came back. I was sure you wouldn't."
"Where else could I go?" His voice shook. The truth of the words shocked him. There was nowhere he could go. The Slytherin dormitory, once a place he had ruled, a safe haven, was filled with too many prying eyes, eyes that saw how their old prince had fallen, become nothing more than a sick and failing husk. Too many questions. And the thought of returning to the Room just now… his stomach clenched. He thought of the cabinet, the cabinet through which he was now able to successfully Vanish anything…. But through which he had not yet brought back anything. Anything alive, that is.
His hand squeezed the shard of mirror, drawing a thin line of blood across his palm. The pain felt dull, as did most everything these days. Keep thinking. How could he save himself? Save his family?
"You look positively dreadful. You haven't been sleeping, I can see it in your face. And when did you last eat? You look nearly as… as….. as gone as I am." She hovered beside him, meeting his eyes in the reflection.
"Sleep? Food? I've got bigger things to worry about." Draco snapped, his voice cracking as he did. He was so tired, so sore… he could hardly remember the last time he had been to a meal, and even then, Pansy had been remarking on how thin he had gotten since the beginning of term. Now, he was gaunt, and his eyes were so red, with such dark bags below them. His hair was unkempt, and a shadow of stubble covered his jawbone. He barely recognized himself.
"I could help you. I hear things, you know, in this castle, and if you told me what you needed I'm sure I could find something to—"
"YOU CAN'T HELP ME." Draco turned and threw the glass through her, and it shattered against the far wall. Myrtle let out a sob. "I'm sorry. I…. I…." He slumped against the sink once again, a wail building up inside of him. Angrily he rubbed away tears. "I don't know what to do. I just… I don't know what to do!" He hung his head, watch as a thin line of blood oozed from his right hand into the sink. "I'm as good as dead."
"Don't," Myrtle moaned, drawing up near behind him, "Don't! Let me help you."
Her words did not bring anger this time, just more sadness. More hopelessness. "No one can help me. I can't do it, I can't. It won't work." He could feel his body shaking, with the effort of holding himself up. Holding himself together. There has to be something, Draco, there just HAS to be. "And unless I do it soon… he says he'll kill me!"
He heaved a great sob, gasping. Pull yourself together Draco, you'll never save them like this—
And with a jolt, he looked into the mirror again, past the drawn and sunken face now streaming with tears of desperation… and into another face, not Myrtles' ghostly transparent one, but another, firmly solid, full, with messy black hair and bright green eyes… a face Draco would know anywhere, even without that ugly scar.
In that instant, he felt a whirlwind of emotions. Disgust, with himself… how could he ever let Potter see him like this? Rage, at Potter, whose main concern surely must be the upcoming Quidditch match… as if someone could think THAT important, when he, Draco, was on a fine line, with his parents' very LIVES being the cost… and a sudden, unconquerable desire to make Potter pay, for if HE had just handed Lucius the prophecy, Draco's father wouldn't be in prison. He would be at the Dark Lord's side, Potter would be gone, and the Malfoy family would be safe. Safe.
Before he even knew what he doing, Draco had spun, a hex erupting from his wand. Potter dodged it, flicking his own wand as he did so. Draco blocked it, another curse. Another block, another curse. Lamps exploded, and water was spraying across the room from behind him.
Potter is the reason your family will die, Draco. Make him suffer for it. He drew up all his strength. "Cruci—"
"Sectumsempra!" Potter's voice echoed across the bathroom. Before Draco could even blink, his chest split open, left shoulder to right hip. As he fell backwards, he watched the crimson spread across his white shirt, a rose blooming in the snow. He felt his wand leave his hand, could hear Myrtle scream, and saw horror spread across Potter's face. He hit the floor, hard, his hands clawing at his chest.
It was a strange, feeling, dying. He felt almost as though he should be trying to heal the wounds, though he knew, without knowing how he knew, that he had lost too much blood already. As the life spilled from him, his hands grew too weak to even attempt to staunch the heavy blood flow. He could feel his body spasming, but somehow… it did not hurt.
He was cut open, in a pool of his own blood and icy water, and yet… he was peaceful. If he died, he couldn't complete the task. But he wouldn't have failed, and the Dark Lord would not be forced to kill Lucius and Narcissa. They would have a chance.
As this almost "happy" thought spread through him, he felt another pair of hands pressing at his chest. Perfect Potter, trying to save the boy he himself had just maimed. Leave me, Potter, he wanted to say. Do one decent thing in your miserable life and LET ME DIE. But his tongue was too heavy, his lips too slow, and the words would not form. And then, suddenly, Potter's hands were pushed away, and the face of Severus Snape looked down at him.
No, please, don't! Draco pleaded with his eyes. Let me die, let me die, let me die. But Snape did not look at Draco's eyes. Instead, he scoured the wounds across Draco's body, and immediately started waving his wand in a quick pattern and whispering an incantation. With every second, Draco felt his pain melt away… and his anguish build up.
He had lost it. His opportunity to escape Lord Voldemort's plan, to have his parents survive. It had been taken away. Tears welled up in his eyes once again, as Snape finally looked him in the face. His lips were moving. Something about avoiding scarring… but why would Draco care about that? He would be murdered long before this scar started to fade, with or without the aid of dittany.
As Snape hauled his body into his arms, Draco closed his eyes. He was so tired, so weak… and he was still doomed. Think, Draco, think…. His thoughts drifted away as Snape carried him, away from his would-be murderer, drenched in blood on the bathroom floor; away from his death, and off towards a destiny Draco Malfoy so desperately no longer wanted.