All the wrong choices – (Ch22 – To late for words)

Draco felt the familiar tug behind his navel as the world spun around him. He felt sick, like a punch to the stomach, like a riled serpent striking his organs. He felt a wild panic coursing through his brains and he knew he was on the edge of hysteria.  He tried to hold back a number of sobs as he knees landed in the damp grass. He couldn’t bring himself to care that there was dirty water and mud seeping into his trousers. He tried to take deep breaths as he felt the anxiety attack hit home. He wondered whether he would die this time as he tried not to succumb.

He fell over, not caring about the icy water seeping into his green jacket. He screamed wordlessly into the wild open space around him. He felt his body start to shut down, his body starting to shake violently starting from his core, spreading out to his limbs. He sobbed, images of Harry flashing through his mind of the good times they had shared. He tried to concentrate on all the unimportant things in his body.  He tried wiggling his toes. A voice in his head, sounding suspiciously like his father, berated him for being so emotional and unmalfoy-like.  He knew he was being undignified, but he couldn’t bring himself to care.

Slowly the sobs that wracked his body subsided and his breathing returned almost to normal. He’d lost feeling in parts of his body a long time before, lost to the cold. He could feel their numb pain as he tried to get up. He tried not to think about the ruined green jacket, nor the smell that lingered to it. If he thought about it too much he would descend back into the mud again.

He didn’t know how long she’d been standing there, watching as his heart drained out of his eyes, observing as his lungs expelled his pain.  He didn’t know he had company until he heard her move. He turned with a start not expecting anyone. She lowered herself to his side slowly and placed her chubby hand on his shoulder. He stared at her wide-eyed as he tried to gather himself back together. Like gathering knotted, fraying woollen threads. He tried to fill himself back up again, to shield himself surround himself in his blank emotionless exoskeleton. To hide himself away once again, his father’s Malfoy façade realigning with his features.

He raised his grey eyes to hers, trying to appear defiant against the expected smirk. The concern almost brought his hard work unravelling around him. His eyes widened again, the façade falling away as he sat muddy, wet and vulnerable at the sympathetic smile offered by her ruddy face.

“Why are you here?” He asked finally, not knowing whether his voice would betray him further.

Cosima crouched beside him, casting a disgusted eye across the boggy ground. She looked back at him and the disgusted look faded away.

“Rolf sent me, he got a sense that there was something you weren’t telling him” She smiled slightly. Draco looked away, taking in the scenery for the first time.  It was dull and grey and cold, snow still clinging to the hilltops. “You really do love him, don’t you?” Draco was silent for a moment, wondering whether he still was, his heart was breaking into a million pieces but a part of him would always love Harry.

“Doesn’t matter now.” He said gruffly through unshed tears. “We’ve got work to do, haven’t we?” He stood up and offered Cosima a hand up. She hesitated then accepted it, getting to her feet.

He turned around to find a small tent had already been erected.  He stepped in and as expected, it was larger on the inside.

It reminded him of his days back in Romania, hearing the canvas rattle and rustle in the wind.  A wooden double cot sat over to one side covered in sheets and animal furs to keep the cold out. There was a large wooden desk to the other side with an unlit lantern sat next to it. Draco stepped in further, seeing a pile of food and supplies along with cooking equipment and utensils next to the dining table and chairs. Cosima stepped in behind him and looked around open-mouthed.

“I’ve never been camping before” Her voice sounded both nervous and excited. Draco turned back to her and nodded. He raised his wand pointing it at the far side of the tent. The tent split off before their eyes creating another space. Draco thought back to when he was flat hunting. Harry had asked about extension charm. He turned around quickly as if turning his back on the memory.

“There’s you’re room. Take anything you need to transfigure into a bed. Make sure you cast a warming charm on your bed before bedtime as the cold will start to seep in.” Draco repeated flatly as though repeating a checklist. He looked at her for a moment, noticing a suitcase for the first time. “Whatever you do, do not leave food outside” He stood for a second waiting for her to leave, but she remained.  He chanced a glance back at her.  She wore the same sympathetic look on her face she had worn moment ago.

“Do you want to talk?” She asked. He opened his mouth to reply but she stepped forward and interrupted. “Before you decline, I wanted to apologise. I’ve not treated you very well since you joined the team, I heard about your past and made a decision to hate you.”  She paused for a moment. “I visited Hogwarts yesterday, after my little outburst. I visited my sister there. She was at Hogwarts long before you went there. You probably don’t remember her” He smiled slightly

“I remember Myrtle” He nodded “She listened to me when I had no one else,” He said grimly.

“She said she remembered you, asked how you were and gave me a bloody good telling off” Cosima chuckled. “Told me I was being a silly old cow and that I needed to make it right” When I came in this morning, I decided I was going to try and be nicer to you.  When I saw the paper I almost didn’t want to give it to you but I knew you needed to know. You need to know who your true friends are.” She said it firmly making Draco feel as though she was speaking from experience. “I never thought Harry Potter would do that to anyone, I always thought he was kinder than that, everyone says so.” She shook her head in disgust.

“As did I,” Draco said quietly.

“So if you need to talk, the offer stands, I can stand in for myrtle should you need it.”

“Thank you Cosima, I appreciate it.” He nodded as he looked down at his feet. “I just want to be alone for a little while if that’s alright, to get dry and changed” She nodded and smiled as she quietly walked to her room, darting a look back before dropping the canvas over the doorway.

Draco sighed and stood in front of the bed. The bed, he knew Rolf had installed so that Harry could visit. He felt sick to his stomach as he looked at every detail. He raised his hand and transfigured it into a single. He pointed the wand at his clothes and summoned the scouring charm. With a flick of the wrist, his clothes were clean.  He pulled off the green jacket as quickly as he could, not wanting to be in contact with, what he deemed as the traitorous garment. He threw the jacket on the floor roughly as he sat on the bed. He sat and waited for his anger and heartbreak to subside when he heard it.  He could hear someone calling his name. He felt his heart in his throat as he realised who. He stood, not sure whether he was brave enough to face him or not.

“Draco?” Harry called again.  Draco swallowed and walked towards the door. The canvas on Cosima’s room opened and her ruddy face stuck out.

“Is that Harry Potter?” She asked eyes wide “Do you need any help?” She asked. Draco shook his head as he left the tent to face Harry.

The sky was still grey and the scenery, bleak as he stepped out into the cold northern air. He could see Harry in the distance. He seemed to be searching through the valley where they were situated as if searching for them. Slowly Harry got closer His green eyes wide and panicked. Draco felt his stomach churn as Harry closed the distance again.

“Draco!” He called again. Draco couldn’t bring himself to say anything. Even when Harry stood right in front of him. His heart now drowned out the cold Scottish wind as he watched Harry.

Harry stood and ran his fingers through his hair, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he looked around. “Where are you?” He muttered to himself. Draco could see the pulse in his neck throbbing beneath the skin in his neck as Harry spun his neck around to look to his right. Draco sighed and turned his back to him as he re-entered the tent. He silently thanks Rolf for casting the charms around the tent. Harry wouldn’t be able to find them unless one of them let him in.  Draco retreated back to his bed, ignoring Cosima’s questioning gaze.

“Draco?” Draco closed his eyes as he heard Harry calling his name.

“You really should talk to him,” Cosima said quietly “You may want to hear what he’s got to say.”

Draco shook his head. “It’s too late for words” He threw himself on his bed again. He took a deep shaking breath before speaking again “Once he’s gone, we’ll go and look for signs of those Dragons.” She nodded and disappeared again. Draco closed his eyes and willed for it all to go away, he had work to do.

Accio Next Chapter

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