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From a Different Light

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His shoulders sat on him like a heavy tomb, an unshakable weight stretching out across his collarbone. The howls of frigid wind against the panes of hard glass echoed in the corridor as the windows fought against the weather vigilantly. Their efforts, however, did not extend to the moon's reflecting, glowing light that shone down on top of his stiff shoulders, creating the looming shadow in front of him. A great big pillar blocked the light from extending out to the door he had requested. His shadow and the darkness encompassing the wall mingled on the ground.

The Room of Requirement only took seconds to supply for him. After checking the surrounding area for witnesses and finding what he wanted, or lack thereof, he stepped inside. The draft of the cold air floating in the corridor left behind trailed after his movements. He paused only briefly. It was enough to remind him of why he was going there, what the consequences would be if he did not succeed. It was more than enough, truthfully, to propel him forward even further into the room full of junk and the one object that might save his life in the future.

The apple he'd brought with him taunted him with the idea of eating it while knowing that he could not. His stomach would be all too eager to show him how much it appreciated the nourishment and the result always led him to believe it did not appreciate it at all. The lack of food had taken its toll on him in the last few days.

Another moment was taken as he collected himself.

The Vanishing Cabinet had given him back another bad result and his emotions were getting the better of him. He blanked out his mind in order to try and block out the pressure of daunting failure. It seemed closer each time he stepped out of the Room of Requirement, always with a new, yet imperfect result. He had been feeling better since he'd convinced Madame Pomphrey to give him some dreamless sleep potion and could actually sleep through over four hours without waking up in a sweat. The dreams dug holes in his brain and planted themselves there. He could not evade what was inside his own mind. He could not sleep without dreaming, and dreaming was worse than being awake. It was as if his life had been ground up and put on repeat.

He rubbed his eyes a bit too hard when he remembered that e was almost out of the small amount of the potion he was given.

A faint buzz of music had lulled his primary senses into a false sense of security and he jumped when, all of a sudden, a weight fell down on his shoulders roughly. He spun and caught a glimpse of his attacker; Mr. Filch's slimy appearance came into view too close for comfort. His struggle to escape was renewed with a new sense of vigour.

"What're you doin' out here, eh? Out of bed after dark?" his drawl was nothing short of gleeful.

"No- I." Filch's hand grabbed a firm grip on his jacket and started yanking him. Luckily he noticed the direction in which they were heading. "I was just taking some air, from the party, you see. I was invited, of course, to Professor Slughorn's Christmas party." But it was too late and the caretaker had already dragged him, unwillingly, before the entire attendance of Slughorn's Slug Club and alumni. "Don't you know who I am?"

"Yes, well, we'll see about that." The next yank pulled the collar of his jumper so fiercely that he had to hunch over to avoid getting choked. His palms grew cold yet clammy. "Get your hands off me, you filthy squib!" and he desperately hoped that he did not sound as fearful as he felt. The thought surfaced to mind before he could stop it and he wondered if getting sent to Azkaban for using an Unforgivable would be enough protection to stop him from being tortured for being sent to Azkaban before he could complete his mission. Filch started speaking over his deranged musings and he finally snapped back to the present moment. "-in an upstairs corridor. He claims to have been invited." Draco's heart rate sky-rocketed. Panic set in and he had no control over how he acted in the foolish rush of adrenaline.

"Okay, okay! I was gatecrashing! Happy?!"

Potter's hardened glare made him want to flee. He couldn't risk garnering the suspicious attention of the Boy-Who-Just-Couldn't-Mind-His-Own-Business. The personal vendetta was an issue, too. Slughorn's scandalised facial expression was triggering a warning in the back of his mind but he barely paid it any attention. Other, more pressing, matters had attracted his attention. He succeeded in shrugging Filch off him but it wasn't due to his efforts but because Snape had appeared, almost as if by magic.

"I'll escort him out." He purposefully ignored the look Snape was giving him.

A metallic taste spread throughout his mouth as forced himself to use a title that felt so wrong he could barely bring himself to use. "Of course, Professor," he spat. The title meant for addressing for someone held in respect was now being disgraced by the mere use of it on Snape. How could he ever respect a man that stood by and watched him as he screamed and got branded? An inescapable brand that forever deemed him a pawn. Because that's all he was to them. The Dark Lord, Dumbledore, even Snape. Saint Potter and his unwavering belief that you're either a good guy or one of the bad guys.

By excusing him from Slughorn's public scolding, he only sparked people's interest, didn't he see? How was he supposed to succeed? How was he even supposed to live with himself? Draco suddenly wanted to cry.

"I made the unbreakable vow." He shivered at the thought. It didn't help that now he had another person he needed to protect. Nothing Snape did, could protect him or his mother. Snape was a Death Eater too. How was he supposed to help anyone? In reality, he noted desparingly, nothing could save him. He was just a pawn and this was the rest of his life. He couldn't help but think that it wasn't much of a life. At least, if he did it himself, he couldn't be tortured... at least, his mother couldn't be used as something to hold over his head either. Thoughts raced by. It might be easier. It would quick and painless. He couldn't have to sit in his room, waiting in agony for the day he does something wrong and has to be Crucio'd on his living room floor. Yes... it might be nice.

The morsel of food he had eaten at dinner was resurfacing. The hand Snape lay on his arm was the most comforting touch he had experienced since his father was sent to Azkaban and the Dark Lord had entered him home. That was months ago. If he ever wanted to be held by the only person who'd ever hugged him -his mother- then he'd need to succeed. He needed too. He had no choice. Rapidly, the lines from a long-forgotten letter from his father floated back into his conscience. He was chosen for this. It was his moment to get his family out of the Dark Lord's path of fire.

"I was chosen for this. Out of all others. Me."

He remembered his mother's grave expression.

He remembered his father's words.

He remembered it all to well as his forearm burned for the first time and red eyes stared right at him. "Don't fail me, Draco."

"You're afraid, Draco," Snape's voice wasn't as venomous as it usually was in class. The bite lacked and he almost believed Snape's sincerity. Then those awful, dreadful memories came rushing back again. His eyes itched him. He shook his head, begging tears away. He couldn't fail. He couldn't.

"No!" he refuted once more.

"I was chosen. This is my moment!"

He couldn't fail. He just couldn't. He couldn't. He couldn'thecouldn'thecouldn't-he

Chapter Text

The Astronomy Tower was still as bitingly cold as ever but this time it was not his own life he was contemplating ending.

"Draco, years ago, I knew a boy who made all the wrong choices." His wand lowered.

"Please let me help you." He forgot was he was there to do. Hope sparked, but he should have known better than to hope so foolishly. He couldn't do this. He couldn't do it. He couldn'thecouldn'thecouldn't he could not do

His aunt Bellatrix appeared silently at the top of the stairs. He flung his wand at his Headmaster but did not cast the spell he knew he should. He had to do this.

He couldn't.