For Michael Serpent
Draco flopped unMalfoyishly into his bed, stretching languidly and yawning. Relaxed, he looked over at the aquarium, sitting in its own table by his bed.
The aquarium was four feet long, two feet deep, and two and a half feet tall. It held a green marble water bowl that filled the far left quarter of the tank, a few small trees that provided shade, and a shelter that covered on corner. A light was set up on one end, and Draco leaned over to check the temperature at each end of the aquarium, and the humidity in the middle.
A range of 19-24°C was acceptable for bedtime, and the humidity was perfect. Draco took the lid off the cage, the attached light coming off with it. He reached in and pulled the shelter away from the corner and taking out the snake that resided within.
He was a charcoal corn snake, almost four and a half feet long. He had been with Draco for the entire five years Draco had been at Hogwarts, and for his entire life, so he knew and trusted Draco’s scent. His name was Draeconis, and he caterpillared up Draco’s arm and around his neck and shoulders, flicking his tongue out over Draco’s neck.
“Hey, Draeco,” Draco whispered. Draeconis was silent, as expected, and Draco laid a hand on his smooth, cool scales. Corns were narrow, but long, as far as pet snakes went, and Draeconis was no exception. He wrapped once and a half around Draco’s shoulders, then slid down to fit himself around Draco’s waist twice.
“Ahh, no, Draeconis. It’s bedtime. We’re not going anywhere tonight. Come on.” Draco ran his hand along Draeconis’ underside, loosening the snake and holding him in both hands, lowering him slowly back into the cage. He stroked the snake’s cool back and fitted the lid back onto the cage, switching the light off and plunging the room into darkness.
He slipped between his satin sheets, cool like Draeconis’ scales, and spoke softly to the snake. “I don’t know, Draeconis. It’s… strange.” He sighed deeply, grey eyes glinting in the dim light. “He was always there, I guess. As long as you’ve been—and you know how I’d feel if I lost you.” He lightly brushed his knuckles against the glass of the aquarium. “But he was never close—in fact, I hated him.
“And then…” Draco swallowed hard. “And then he died. He died saving me—and not just me, either, everyone.” He pressed the back of his palm against the glass. “Just like that.
“The Dark Lord killed him, remember? He wasn’t aiming for him, though. He was aiming for me. A filthy blood traitor, he called me, and so did my—so did Lucius. He was going to kill me, and instead, he killed Potter.
“Because Potter got in the way. The last Horcrux, in his scar… it was gone after that, and he was just a normal man—albeit, a little more powerful than most.
“They call me a hero, Draeconis. They call me the Boy who Triumphed. I don’t want that title—for one thing, because it’s an obvious spoof off the fucking Boy who Lived, and for another, because…
“I killed Voldemort… because he killed Potter. I didn’t care about him before. He was just always there. You know. And then he was just gone—strange the way his body disintegrated. Gone, literally dust in the wind. And suddenly there was something to miss.”
Draco rolled onto his stomach and pressed his hand flat against the glass. “The word Satan is Hebrew, for opposition. And he was—we were each other’s Satan. And without opposition…” He sighed softly. “It was so strange. I always expected to see him with his two flunkies, but I never did. They were always together after that, crying, or whispering, but always together.”
Draco sighed. “I… miss him. I guess I really cared about him, in some weird, twisted way.” He glanced to the side, and saw that Draeconis was climbing the glass wall, directly across from his hand.
“He’s dead, Draeconis,” Draco whispered. “Harry Potter is dead. And I… I never even knew him.”