They had found her. For five months, she had lived in fear that the Snatcher squads would find her, take her wand, and charge her with stealing magic. That day had come.
She was huddled in her wardrobe with a Disillusionment Charm cast on herself, but she knew they were using Human Detection Charms, which she had no way to combat. It was only a matter of time.
Through the wood of the door, Katie heard her bedroom door crash open and a muffled voice bark, “Revelio!”
Tears streamed down her cheeks as she saw her hands succumb to the spell and become visible once again. The sounds of searching seeped through the wardrobe and echoed in her ears, and the squeak of the door hinges caused her to bury her face in her knees.
Whoever it was stared at her; she could feel it. He could see her, so there was no point in not peeking to see if she knew who it was.
She looked up at him, her face still scrunched and red from crying. What she was looking for, she had no idea, but what was there was unexpected. It was remorse.
Draco backed away from the wardrobe and toward the hallway. He stuck his head out, but as Katie anticipated the call to his comrades that would seal her fate, it never came. Instead, he said, “This room’s clear!” and left.
He sat under a tree on the bank of the lake while the victory celebration was going on. He probably felt out of place, considering nearly everyone in the school was sure what side he was on, and it wasn’t theirs.
But Katie knew different.
She looked for him when she heard that he was there. After scanning the Morning After breakfast in vain, she had set out for the grounds. From there, he was pretty easy to spot, a blotch of silver-blond on the vividly green grass.
If he’d noticed her approach, he gave no sign, and his face remained stoic when she sat on the lawn next to him, trying to see that grain of something on the horizon he was looking for.
“I never got to say thank you,” she said.
“Don’t thank me. I almost killed you.”
“I know, but this was different. Nothing compelled you to walk away from me. In fact, it was probably more dangerous for you to do it.”
Somehow, Katie almost didn’t want to know. She’d had her theories, such as making amends for her brush with death to some wild fantasy about him truly caring about her as person. She preferred to think the best of him, because he had given her a chance at freedom. He deserved the benefit of the doubt. But when he answered, she was gobsmacked.
“You were so scared.” Draco finally faced her, and Katie could see the tortured soul that screamed out from behind those haunted eyes. “You were scared that you were going to lose everything, and I know what that's like. I was a monster to you, like…like them
. I don’t want to be a monster.”
And, at last, it all made sense. Why he had let her stay hidden, why he had led the Snatchers astray—it had been because he saw what he was, what he was becoming, and it scared the hell out of him. If anything, it proved one thing, and it was that underneath his haughty exterior, Draco Malfoy was a decent human being.
Katie spied his pale hand in the grass and covered it with her own. He looked at her strangely, but he didn’t seem repulsed by the contact, despite the fact that she was what he had been taught to hate from the cradle.
“Thank you,” she said again. With a daring peck on the cheek, she stood and walked away, but just before she was out of earshot, she could have sworn she heard something.
Sure enough, it came again. “Bell! Wait!”
Stopping in her tracks, Katie listened for it again, but this time, the call was, “Katie!”
Whatever possessed her to return to the shade of that tree, Katie knew not, but when she did, the emotion in Draco’s eyes told her that it was the right thing.