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mayachain in draconeville

Fic: [Sanctuary]

Title: [Sanctuary]
Author: mayachain
Pairing: Draco and Neville, so much pre-slash it's almost gen
Rating: PG
Warnings: mention of deceased Death Eaters, hints at severe war injuries, angst
Word Count: 1456
Summary: Upon being released from prison, Draco dreads facing the world on his own.
Note: a huge thanks to phantomdove for beta-reading this for me!



[Sanctuary]


*

He dreamed of his grandmother's herb garden tonight. Wide beds of nettle, fluxweed, hellebore, and other plants he never learned the names of, interspersed with cherry trees and Fanged Geraniums. A proud woman's sanctuary, a well-warded circle no-one has been able to enter since her death. A sanctuary into which she had only once allowed her nine year old grandson. Over there, they consume you, she'd said to him, pointing towards the Manor while stroking the tendrils of a nearly tame Devil's Snare, her greatest pride. This, my boy, this, no-one can touch.

His mother had claimed it an accident when she found her strangled body, a week after the second war began. Only fifteen years old, maybe he even believed it at the time. Now, when the memories of that one afternoon have been his only firm anchor to sanity for three years, he is pretty certain it was suicide.

---

Why did I come here? And, more importantly, why can I never not bollix up a heating charm?

---

His pride forbids him to ask the attending Auror for a comb, but he refuses to approach her before surreptitiously using the only window in her office as a makeshift mirror. Nothing she has to say can be more important than wearing his proper clothes again. Straightening his celadon-coloured robe and smoothing his hair back with his hand, he valiantly tries to ignore the voice in his head saying there is no point, there is no-one left besides you who might care. When he finally deigns to turn toward the Auror, his looks are as impeccable as can be, and he eyes her as arrogantly as he possibly can.

---

I thought this mist would have dissolved already, once the Dementors were gone.
… Gran might never speak to me again.


---

The warden, clad in the colourless robe of an Azkaban guard, returns his hauteur with a cold, green-eyed stare. In the admittedly few months he's known her, she hasn't bothered to introduce herself, and it is clear from her demeanour that if not for her job, she couldn't care less about who he is, and she certainly won't comment on what this day means to him. Maybe she was born without emotions, maybe she lost all interest in others along with friends and relatives during the war. She is not affected in the slightest by the fact that he gets to leave today because eventually, even the unobliging bureaucracy of the Ministry of sodding 'Trial? What Trial?' has had to acknowledge what he's done. Even if they just sent a letter, as if what happened to him was nothing more than an embarrassment.

---

What idiot goes to Azkaban with only one bottle of Butterbeer? I can't open it, even if it's chocolate-flavoured.

---

The Auror wordlessly hands him the package that holds his personal belongings. He takes a moment to rifle through them and manages to keep his face impassive when he notes that most of the jewellery is missing. It's not as if he expected to ever see his father's ring again; his 'pardon' states quite clearly he isn't allowed contact with certain people or potentially cursed items.

---

Especially since it's chocolate-flavoured, what was I thinking?
It's cold, so cold, I should've made an appointment, I hope I don't have to wait long.


---

They leave the office once he's pocketed the package, and walk side by side through a deserted corridor. With each step closer to the gate, his legs feel heavier. After weeks and weeks of grey eyes encountering guards every few feet, the sudden emptiness of the cell-free area leaves him chilled. He's supposed to feel elated today, he promised himself that yesterday, clutching the letter before going to sleep. He recalls his grandmother mentioning his bright new future in his dream, and upon waking in the morning, he convinced his reflections in the charmed brass bars he deserves this. They wanted to keep him inside this place for ten years; instead, he gets to leave after barely four months. It's not even his money buying him out of prison, which would not have been unheard of, not to mention perfectly sensible to the Ministry. No, he's being released on account of his own actions. He's supposed to feel elated. Instead, he just feels numb.

---

How can you feel cold in a wooden leg?
Oh God, oh God, no-one will understand.


---

There are noisy clanging sounds while the witch opens the iron gate with a heavy key sizzling with magic. He gets flashes of his dream again, of trees and a tame Devil's Snare and wide herb beds, and he feels panicked. Sanctuary. For a moment after the woman has pushed the gate open and turned toward him none too expectantly, he just stands there, feeling quite helpless while clutching at the returned remains of his wand. He has no idea what to do now. Before his pardon was presented to him in such an unceremonious way, his future was set in stone, literally - months and months of eventlessness, for the next ten years, give or take. The war is over, and there is no Voldemort on whose orders his life depends anymore. No more orders; his self-respect and sanity no longer depend on thinking up ways to get around them. He was a saboteur, not a spy, and he knows there will be no-one waiting for him outside, because while he is Draco Malfoy, one and true Malfoy heir, being Draco Malfoy means he's got no-one.

---

Tough luck for them, then. They don't know the first thing about it.

---

Once, he had dozens of people he believed would back him up forever, who'd been willing to do anything for the privilege of being his friends. These people, or those of them that are still alive, will remain on the other side of this gate for a very long time. His mother is dead, so is his father. His uncle, said uncle's brother, his aunt, all gone. The people whose side his refusal to execute orders at the right moment helped win, or those of them who might feel obligated to greet him, will not do so; they'd never leave each other's side and even though it's been four months, some of them still can't eat on their own. Or walk properly; he'll never forget he's responsible for at least one lost limb. And the man whose wandless wrath - in the letter, it says 'testimony' - Draco suspects caused his pardon is not, by a heavily underlined clause of said pardon, allowed to see him.

---

Sod all the others, what if he doesn't…

---

The unsympathetic warden behind him makes an impatient sound, and with as much dignity as his suddenly trembling body can muster, he takes the necessary step through the gate. As soon as he's outside, the gate slams closed. Eyes squeezed tightly shut, he tries to hold on to the peaceful image of his dream, but in the eternal mist surrounding Azkaban, it evades him. He has no purpose in life, he is on his own, and he's alone. If it weren't for all the times his father drilled what is and what isn't becoming of a Malfoy into his very bones, he'd dissolve into a whimpering, curled-up ball on the muddy ground.

---

Here goes nothing.

---

With all his might, he tries to summon up the courage for another step toward the visitor's apparition point. Between his anxiety and his broken wand, splinching himself is a likely outcome, but right now, the thought is not exactly troubling. Even though no Dementor will ever set foot into Azkaban again, the mist still weighs heavily on the island, and it is creeping through his robe. He's freezing, but it's the last robe his mother ever bought for him, and he won't risk a heating charm that would almost certainly go wrong. He's grateful he was thrown out by such an uncaring and non-nosy Auror; there's no-one to see him shivering and breathing hard

- and turning his head at the sound of a twig snapping.

"I brought you a Butterbeer."

An arm is there to catch him when his legs give out on him. A lukewarm bottle is placed into his shaking hand. A warm, solid body moves closer and holds him upright, another arm supporting both their bodies on a wooden cane. He hasn't felt this defenceless since he was nine years old. The full extent of his relief, he'll never come close to explaining in years to come.

Looking up into Neville Longbottom's searching brown eyes, he can see his grandmother's sanctuary in them.


*

Comments

A very well written story, at first you don't understand who's talking between Draco's speech, but, then you connect everything and the puzzle just fits into the good picture.

The idea of this sanctuary was good and allows us to understand why he is drawn to Neville Longbottom.

Thank you for the story.
lovely, thank you^^
Very beautifully written! Your Draco is a gem - bless *squee*

Sanctuary

That. Was. FABULOUS. So much love for this.