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06 January 2007 @ 05:37 am
Before and After - Harry Potter - PG-13  
Title: Before and After
Rating: PG-13
Fandom: Harry Potter
Time Line: Post-War
Summary: Draco lives, unlike those before and after the war. ‘They were a generation sacrificed for the war, sacrificed for Voldemort’s quest for power and Dumbledore’s quest to stop him.’
Pairing: Implied Draco/Harry
Warnings: Character death, implied slash
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Before and After

“From all the rest I single out you, having a message for you,
You are to die-- let others tell you what they please, I cannot prevaricate,
I am exact and merciless, but I love you-- there is no escape for you.”

– Walt Whitman, “To One Shortly To Die”

The war was how the students had measured their lives; all they talked about was before the war, after the war, during the war. They were a generation bred for war, born with their allegiance assigned to them the moment they took their first steps. They were a generation sacrificed for the war, sacrificed for Voldemort’s quest for power and Dumbledore’s quest to stop him.

Some of them were still students when they died, executed in the name of something that they had no control over. All they had known was war, so how could they know any better? It was a bitter pill in the mouth of those that survived to know that they themselves hadn’t been lost out there in those fields, because they had instead buried those friends, and schoolmates, and family members who had fallen.

After the war was over, many people didn’t know what to do. Those who hadn’t lost family members counted their blessings and moved on. Those who had lost family members mourned them and moved forward. Those who had only known war, the generation born as nothing more than future lifeless bodies, didn’t know how to move on and remained the silent shadows of the wizarding world.

It was the Ronald Weasleys, the Susan Boneses, the Neville Longbottoms, the children who never had childhoods. It was the Hermione Grangers, the Justin Finch-Fletchleys, the unknowing outsiders swept willingly into a world they could not fight. It was the Harry Potters, the martyrs for an entire people.

Draco Malfoy sniffed irritably and refolded his morning issue of The Daily Prophet, distinctly avoiding the story on page five that had the headline ‘War Stories Never Told!’. When he thought back to the war, to the memories he tried to pretend weren’t his own, he got angry, and it wouldn’t do to be upset before breakfast and cry over spilt milk, to use a Muggle proverb.

Or something completely unlike spilt milk, and instead like the massacre of thousands of innocent lives.

The silence in the manor was heavy; he lived alone, here, stalking up and down the hallways and in and out of rooms at his leisure, careful to mind the imaginary ghosts of the real people he once knew, still lingering in the shadows. It was too big for one person, but he hadn’t had the heart to sell it off after the Ministry of Magic let him come home, years of dust coating the floors and years of absence bouncing of the walls.

His father died in Azkaban before the war, hanging from the bars in desperation and depravity. His mother died after the war, hiding with her sister Bellatrix in some hovel in Switzerland.

Before and after.

Vita pulchra est, indeed.

He was tired. A life fully lived at twenty-five. The laughs he laughed over that fact were nothing but acrimonious.

His poached eggs tasted like ashes in his mouth, and he pushed the plate away with a mournful sigh; once he started on the war, nothing could take his mind off it. It would be useless to try to ignore the faces he saw when his eyes fluttered shut, the shouts of the living and the silence of the dead out in the fields that rang in his ears. Like a veteran with a phantom limb, Draco felt something that just wasn’t there anymore.

His involvement with the Order of the Phoenix in the war was surprising to everyone, most of all himself, but in war, you had to choose sides and his choice to side against the Death Eaters was smart in the end. Many members of the Order didn’t trust him for the longest time, and some still didn’t, but he did his job and he did it well and he had lived.

He got to celebrate living among the few survivors briefly, and then went about the task of clearing graves for those more fortunate than themselves.

“Bugger this, then.” And he Apparated out of the manor and to a grassy hillside in Devon, a few kilometers out of Newton Abbot. To the north lay the tiny Muggle village of Godric’s Hollow, peaceful now under early morning sunlight. To the south lay the empty, dead lands that had been the battlefield for the final confrontation.

This hill had thirty-two grave markers to mark thirty-two fallen soldiers.

Draco took a moment to absently look over the names; some of them were people he knew, some of them were people he had heard of, all of them should not have been there in those early graves. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger were next to each other, in death as in life, Ginny Weasley and Nymphadora Tonks flanking their sides. Hestia Jones, Neville Longbottom, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Luna Lovegood, Charlie Weasley. The list was unbearably long, but Draco had been here enough times to know where each was buried. To those he knew, he gave a small nod, to those he didn’t he did the same, because he had fought among these people and knew just how brave they had all been.

Remus Lupin, who Draco still found himself calling ‘professor’ sometimes, had been among those helping dig the graves and identifying the bodies. The look in his eyes had been hard and he hadn’t spoken to anyone, but Draco hadn’t needed to hear a word to know what was going through the older man’s head; he had lived a hard life, more worn than most, and he thought it should have been himself in these graves instead of one the others. He had seen death before, and was now seeing death after.

Before and after.

Remus’ grave was on the far right, the last in the row because his had been the last dug, two years after the rest after he was found dead and alone in number twelve Grimmauld Place, drowned in a bathtub with clawed feet two days before a full moon. Draco had made sure he was brought up here, along with all the other war heroes, because it was where the man had wanted to be all along.

Here, between Molly Weasley and Remus Lupin, was where Draco stopped. The grave was no more ornate than the rest, but with the name Harry Potter on it, it didn’t need to be.

For six years, Draco and Harry had been schoolboy rivals, their heads filled with insults for the other and their actions bordering on malicious; then for one, they hadn’t seen each other, fighting own their own sides in the war, doing everything they were told to do by those around them, not realizing that everyone was wrong. After Draco joined the Order, it was Harry who first trusted him, believed him, confided in him, and it Draco thought it was because they were the only two in the whole bloody war that knew the truth.

There was no before and after, just a stretched out loss of innocence.

Draco muttered, “Orchideous.” The bouquet of tulips that he conjured was a bold red, a Gryffindor red. Against the white of the gravestone they were glorious. When he traced the name and date with his thumb, a smile crept onto his face. “Happy birthday, Harry.”

Draco Apparated away with his hands in his pockets and his heart three years in the ground.
Jessicaenamoredrose on January 6th, 2007 04:59 pm (UTC)
Ohmygawd. That was tremendously sad. I loved it. Poor Draco. Poor Harry! It's wonderful.
silver_osirissilver_osiris on January 7th, 2007 04:56 pm (UTC)
So sad, yet so pretty.
alexandra - maybe in another universe.: james deanisilme_ on January 7th, 2007 05:53 pm (UTC)
that was utterly beautiful in a very very sad way.
you made me cry!
missmerrow on January 7th, 2007 06:58 pm (UTC)
I wish I could adequately tell you how powerful this was.

Just beautiful and so well-paced, really. The Whitman bit at the beginning is perfect. Nicely done.
Sam: Cut You Car Keyiz_alicious on January 8th, 2007 01:31 am (UTC)
Wow, nice tearjerker. Especially when Remus drowns himself in the bathtub. It seems like everyone died... is there anyone left?
acook on January 8th, 2007 04:55 am (UTC)
love love love love

very good my dear, I applaude you muchly!
Heather: Lights Will Guide You Homeinsatiable_jrt on January 8th, 2007 05:42 am (UTC)
Wow that was so breathtakingly beautiful. Very eloquent and heart wrenching. I love the concept of before and after. Good work!