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And if I had a clue,

I'd know exactly what to do,

If I were the wiser of the two.

And if I saw it all so clear,

I'd write it down and bend your ear,

If I were the clearer of the two.

Pansy had always been of the impression that Draco was infallible, that he was stronger than any of them. And, for seventeen years he had proven her right. Draco had always been a shoulder to cry on. He could always be counted on to wrap his arms around you, one strong hand rubbing circles on your back and his smooth voice murmuring soothing nonsense into your ears.

Over their years at Hogwarts, Draco had been the one to put their group of friends back together, again and again. Whenever Vince or Greg had failed an exam, he was there with his clever rhymes and associations to help them to remember. If Theo felt lonesome, Draco would be the one to pull a chair up to the chessboard, and debate ideologies of the greatest chess grand masters. When Blaise’s mother remarried, time and time again, Draco was the other page boy next to Blaise, keeping him strong.

And he had been good to the girls as well. When Daphne’s latest budding relationship invariably faltered, Draco was there to hold her tightly, and swear to curse the unfortunate beau. Millicent had never been sure of her looks, but when she had gone into a dark funk Draco had been the only one able to get through to her, speaking soft words about her kind heart and captivating eyes. And of course, Draco had always been good to her. He had long been the only person she could go to with any kind of problem.

But that, in itself was the problem. Everybody went to Draco. When they had been younger, there had always been elder students who would pick up the younger years, and help them through, but now that they were in their last year of school, there was nobody else to turn to, other than Draco. Nearly all of the younger Slytherins sought out Draco when they were upset, and true to himself, Draco never turned down anyone in need.

Pansy sighed to herself dejectedly. She had a problem, one that she couldn’t go to Draco about. You see, the problem was Draco. He had been running himself ragged the entire term. Most of the Slytherin’s current problems lay in the Dark Lord. Despite what the rest of the school believed, the vast majority, if not all of the house was anxious to avoid being marked. Draco had been working on a way for them to escape the pressure from their parents and Voldemort to join him, and from the other students, and the professors to fight against him.

Draco would sort things out, Pansy knew that much, but what she didn’t know is how much of Draco would be left. Lately, he had barely slept, so consumed was he with finding the answers to all of their problems. Pansy wasn’t na├»ve enough to think it was all for their sake, Draco had seen more than most what the Dark Lord was capable of.

It was fairly well known what Death Eaters were like, cruel and callous and vicious and evil. And it was fairly well known that Draco’s father was a Death Eater.

Surprisingly few people had put the two together.

Pansy had picked up, from glimpses into the Malfoy home throughout her childhood, and from veiled comments Draco made, that Draco’s life hadn’t been easy. His mother had loved his father wholly, but Lucius had never loved anyone as much as he loved himself.

Draco had nightmares about his mother, sometimes. The Slytherin boys tended to get Pansy to sit with him while he slept if he was having nightmares. He clung onto her, and held her tightly while he dreamed, crying softly. But it wasn’t the tears that had torn Pansy’s heart to shreds. No, it was what he said. It’s okay, Mommy. He whispered gently. It’s okay. I won’t let him get you anymore, Mommy. You’re safe now, you’re with me. It’s okay, Mommy. I’ll protect you.

Those nights Pansy never slept. She stayed frozen still next to Draco until he either calmed, or until morning came. Then, she snuck out of his bed, with him none the wiser that she had ever been there. And when he woke up, he got on with things the way he always did, taking everything in his stride.

Except that recently, his stride had been shortening, and Pansy thought she knew why. Draco had problems of his own too, and there was no longer anybody he could turn to. His family were entrenched in the Dark, how could he voice his misgivings to them? His Godfather, a man to whom he had always previously been open was on the side of the Dark Lord too. All of his friends, Pansy included, had no idea of how to help him. After all, he had excluded the need for another of them to comfort each other. The other Professors at Hogwarts simply weren’t that interested in Slytherins. Their House was collectively regarded as a lost cause. And the students in the other Houses hated, and ostracised them.

Pansy, despite appearances, had never been a fool. Over the past few days, she had been carefully working through her options. The only person left to Draco was her. She knew, that right at that moment, Draco was sitting in the far courtyard. It was his favourite place to think, and to brood, as the younger years were banned from the area.

Pansy sighed once more, before setting off for the courtyard. With any luck, the whole comforting-people thing would come naturally, and she would be able to help Draco as easily as he had helped the rest of them.

She paused at an open window in the corridor next to the courtyard. Draco sat alone on a stone bench in the middle of the garden-like area. His blonde hair was tousled from the wind, and his shoulders were slumped. Pansy’s lower lip began to tremble at the sight of their saviour’s real feelings. She made to walk on, but paused as another woman entered the courtyard. Granger.

The bushy-haired menace looked at Draco once, obviously dismissing him, before looking back again, more slowly this time. She stopped when she reached the bench, and sat down next to him tentatively.

“Malfoy?” She asked. Pansy could hear the hesitancy in her voice from the other side of the courtyard. “Malfoy? Are you alright?” And Pansy watched in abject horror as her best friend shook his head.

“No.” He said softly. “No, Granger, I’m not alright. I don’t know if I’ll ever be alright.” And to Pansy’s amazement, Granger didn’t laugh, or walk away. As if it were the most natural thing in the world, as if she had done it a thousand times before, her arms came around Draco’s body, a hand rubbed circles into his back, and she began to speak to him in a low voice that Pansy strained to hear.

“It’s okay,” Draco’s body crumpled into her, his entire being shaking, and Pansy thought he might even be crying. “It’s okay, Draco. I’m here now, everything’s going to be just fine. Don’t worry, it’s okay.”

And Pansy thought that she might just believe her.

And if I heard the angels sing,

I'd sing it back to you and bring,

Sounds of heaven ringing just for you.

And if I saw the sun fall down,

I'd pick it up and make a crown,

One that was a perfect fit for you.

We could take a walk,

Into the apple orchard by the school,

We could make a little residue.

We could find a place to stay,

A secret little hide away,

Spend a little time inside of you.