title: Where is the Hand for Me to Reach
Timeline (past, future, au): past
Characters: Draco, Willow, Andromeda, Astoria
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine. They belong to JK Rowling and Joss Whedon.
AN: This is a prequel to a writing series that will begin at the livejournal community Scriptificus
starting on February 1st.
*late June 2002
It was nothing more than curiosity.
Draco visited the ladies in the Stone Circle Coven often. The Ministry liked to monitor them. They weren't your conventional witches. They had a witch from the small village of Stygian with them - the gathering place for Seers. From what Draco understood, Cassandra Trelawney had lived in Stygian at one time when she was younger. That had forever labeled it as a Seers' haven.
"I knew you would be here."
Draco stopped and sighed. Astoria Greengrass got on his nerves. He'd been in the same school year with her older sister Daphne. Both the Greengrass sisters were a little crazy. Daphne more so, but Astoria was creepier. He’d been in more contact with her lately because of her connection to his Aunt Andromeda.
Draco had known the Greengrasses since he was born. Their mother Queenie had been in his mother's inner circle back in the day. Just like Blaise's mother Calanthe. It was often that Draco and Blaise found themselves thrown in with Daphne and Astoria. In fact, when their mothers had all insisted they learn how to dance properly, he had more often than not been paired with Astoria. He knew it had been her mother's wish that he show more of an interest, but she was just so weird.
Draco turned to look at her. She did not look like what one expected of a Seer. Her dress was something out of another era, complete with white kid gloves. Her hair was rolled into a careful bun, her make-up flawless. Not a bangle, bead or scarf in sight. She was no gypsy sitting around a crystal ball.
"She's in the solarium. She's having a bad day."
"Aunt Andi is?"
"You aren't here to see Andromeda, Draco," Astoria said with slight exasperation in her tone as she brushed past him.
Draco frowned. This was his Aunt's home. She used it for a meeting place for her coven. It was mostly composed of witches who'd lost loved ones in the wars with Voldemort.
He headed toward the solarium. He stopped when he saw a woman sitting in a chair with a blanket on her. She was looking out the large glass windows and onto the garden. His aunt kept a very lovely garden.
He didn’t think he had ever seen her before, and for one moment he thought she was Ginny Weasley because of her hair.
"It's not polite to stare."
He jumped at the sound of her voice. Definitely not Weasley with that accent. She was an American if he was hearing properly.
Willow allowed herself to smile slightly. This was Andromeda's nephew - the one that had been bad. She'd heard whispers about him, even when people weren't talking aloud. She was curious, had been since first hearing of him. With a name like Draco Malfoy, how could he be anything but interesting?
Draco moved further into the room. He walked around to sit gingerly in the wicker chair next to the one she was curled up in.
"Malfoy. I know. Andromeda is your aunt on your mother's side."
Draco blinked. "You're not a Seer like Greengrass is as well, are you?"
"Poor Tori. No. You have a tone when you talk about her. It's not nice. You have a shared history. You could be a bit nicer about her. She's a bit nicer about you."
He wanted to deny he had a tone, but he did. There was underlying irritation. Willow reached out a bit, even though she was not supposed to.
"Oh. She tells you things you aren’t ready to know. She's all cryptic-girl. I see. That can be a little creepy."
Draco swallowed nervously. This right here was pretty damn creepy itself. Had she? He immediately put his defenses up to keep her from his mind. That was no place for someone who seemed as fragile as she did.
"Oh. How did you..."
He watched a felt her checking for chinks in the armor he'd put up within him. Draco tensed until she stopped. He had the oddest feeling she could have invaded had she truly wanted to.
"I'm Willow Rosenberg. I come here to visit your aunt and her friends so they can help me."
He frowned. For the first time, Draco noticed she looked a bit ill. Not terminal, but definitely not healthy. Her skin appeared to be naturally pale, but currently it was almost sallow. Her lips were chaffed and her eyes were sunken in. The dark circles under them did nothing to help that. Her hair, though vibrantly red, was looking flat and unkempt. She just seemed very fragile.
Against his better judgment, Draco reached out and put a hand on her knee. "They'll help you."
Willow looked at him sharply. She wanted to ask him how he did it. She could feel the darkness under his surface, but he kept it at bay. He'd done bad things too. Not like her, but bad enough. She pulled a hand from under the safety of her blanket and put it over the inside of his left arm, just below his elbow.
Willow gasped and arched in the chair.
Draco shouted and tried to get her hand off of his arm. It was resting over his Dark Mark. The only thing separating her skin and his ugly tattoo was a shirtsleeve. He always wore long sleeves to hide it. Her sudden movement had startled him. Also, he did not like people touching his Dark Mark. It reminded him how foolish he had once been.
Funny thing, for looking so frail, he could not loosen her grip.
"Miss Rosenberg... Willow... please... do let go of me."
She let go and looked at him, eyes watering. "You understand. You did badly once too. They spoke of it, and I didn't understand. Not then. Now... how did you make it stop?"
"I let it take me. I nearly ended the world."
Suddenly Draco knew exactly with whom he was sitting with. It took all his self-control not to bolt from the chair and put as much distance between them as possible. This was what they were calling the Dark One, the American witch that had nearly ended the world in California.
She didn't look so scary right now, though. In fact, she looked broken, and something about it called to Draco. He knew what it was like to be that lost, that hurt.
Then again, it could be the fact that she had touched real evil that was drawing him in. He had a weakness for wickedness.
"Well, you made a mistake," he offered in a shaking voice. "Could happen to anyone."
Willow looked at him. He was terrified to be near her, but he still stayed. Something within her, something about her broken and hopeless state spoke to him. That was rare, and in that instant she was inclined to like him. Just because he did not run.
Then again, there was something dark still squatting inside him. It had stirred at the idea that she had darkness within her.
"I wouldn't hurt you," she said. "I don't do that anymore."
Draco nodded. "Good to know."
"After he was gone, after everyone was dead or in jail, when you realized... how did you go on being a person?"
Draco didn't question it - her knowing things. If she were as powerful as the rumors said she was, she could crack his skull open with a thought then put it back together and make him think he was a ten year old girl who liked to play tea party.
"I didn't at first. Spent a great deal of time drinking. Spent an extraordinary amount of time feeling sorry for myself as well. Now I work a thankless job and go from monogamous relationship to monogamous relationship because no woman can put up with me for more than a few months. The person I should be with, well, it’s not meant to be. We both like girls."
Willow smiled at that. It was nice to have someone talking to her as if she were a person again.
Draco frowned. "And I don't know why I am telling you all of this."
Willow's smile widened. And obviously she had not smiled in too long because it made her face hurt.
“Maybe I have an honest face,” Willow replied. “No, that’s not it. I know from personal experience that honest faces are usually attached to liars.”
Draco laughed at that. She was absolutely not what he expected.
“Willow, Rupert is here for you,” Andromeda said from the doorway. “Why, Draco, I did not expect you today. I see you’ve met Willow.”
She had this look on her face that suggested she was looking at a can of petrol sitting next to a roaring fire. Draco smirked.
“I did. We were just having a delightful conversation on why I felt the need to share details of my personal life with her.”
“Well, that’s nice. It’s good of you to make friends, Draco.”
Willow leaned over and whispered loudly. “Why doesn’t she trust us together?”
Draco smiled expectantly at his aunt, waiting for her to reply. He was curious himself.
Andromeda raised a brow. It was a Black family characteristic. He called it the ‘oh really’ eyebrow. Draco knew it well. His mother was very good at it. He was surprised Narcissa Malfoy’s eyebrow was not permanently arched higher than the other one as many times as he had given her cause to look at him so.
“To be perfectly honest, you’re fragile, Willow, and Draco isn’t exactly stable even at the best of times. It’s not his fault, really. It’s the bloodlines. I can’t claim sanity all the time myself.”
“Draco and I won’t be bad for one another. It’s good. He understands.”
Draco noticed his aunt’s face changed a bit. As if something dawned on her.
“We meet with Willow once a week, Draco. Perhaps you could join us immediately after for some time with Willow? I think she would like the company.”
“Under your adult supervision, of course,” he added slyly. “I see how it is.” He looked at Willow. "She doesn't let me alone with her grandson either. He's impressionable, you know."
Andromeda glared at him.
But he would come back. Perhaps he could discuss things with her and not be judged. Everyone else judged him on his past acts. Oh they said they did not, but knew they did. It might be nice to have someone not do so because she had no right to.
Willow watched the young man leave. He was her age and still so lost. Perhaps even as lost as she was.
"You think I can help him," she said to Andromeda.
It was not a question.
"I had long despaired of anyone being able to help Draco, but yes, I think perhaps you can. I have never seen him warm to anyone that quickly. Not even myself and I'm family. Oh we've come a long way, but there's always a careful distance. I suspect no one knows the real Draco anymore. Perhaps not even his mother. There have been too many... things. I think there are parts of him that will always b broken. Of course that just proves he's more Black than Malfoy."
Willow considered that.
Andromeda had a bitter look on her face. "Toujours pur." Always pure
. Willow frowned. Then she yawned. She'd be curious about that later when she was not so very tired.
is echo, Riverchic, Jo Anne Storm, Camperx and BrendanM. Please visit us on February 1 to start a journey.