- Story Summary:
- Draco had no idea that the repercussions of stealing Potter's journal and shoving it down the back of his trousers would be so extreme. Featuring nefarious plots, the mating rituals of Slytherins, double-crossing spells, Ron/Pansy, and Draco/Harry.
- Chapter Summary:
- Draco had no idea that the repercussions of stealing Potter's journal and shoving it down the back of his trousers would be so extreme. Featuring nefarious plots, the mating rituals of Slytherins, double-crossing spells, Ron/Pansy, and Draco/Harry.
- Author's Note:
- I got all teary while submitting this chapter, since it's the last one. Hope you liked my story, it was certainly the most difficult one that I've written so far.
locked in our arms
roses for weepers
not easy to charm
and I am not a fool.
They smelled the smoke long before they saw it, and when they did, Pansy, Ron, and Hermione fought the urge to panic.
“We’re not too late,” Hermione started to chant under her breath, and no one had the nerve to reply.
The black smudge was a haze over the horizon and they flew as quickly as they could, until Hermione swore savagely under her breath. “Muggles,” she hissed. “The whole place is surrounded by Muggles.” She cast a quick spell to make them invisible as they flew lower, ditching their brooms behind a tree and hurrying towards the cluster of Muggles, staring at the burnt ruins.
“We’re not too late,” Ron said quietly as they ran, unconsciously picking up Hermione’s earlier chant.
“Of course not,” Hermione snapped.
Pansy was silent, pale, her eyes fixed on the smoking ruins.
The Muggles were whispering quietly, and Hermione reached them first. “What happened?” she asked. “Has anyone called the fire department?”
Uncertain around Muggles, Ron and Pansy held back, watching nervously. The man Hermione spoke to said in a monotone, “Fire, happened so fast, we didn’t have time to help… We don’t have a fire department, we called over in the next town, they’re coming, but it’s already too late. The fire’s mostly out.”
“Was there… was there anyone inside?” she whispered.
He looked at her sharply. “We didn’t see anyone. Why? Do you know if anyone was in there?”
She shook her head slowly and backed away. “I don’t,” she said, feeling like she was going to faint. Hurrying back to Pansy and Ron, she said shakily, “They didn’t find anyone, they don’t know if… if there was anyone inside, the rubble’s too hot to search.” She swallowed heavily.
“Maybe… maybe they aren’t here. It could have just been a fire. Let me do the spell again,” Pansy whispered.
Ron glanced at her and nodded solemnly. “Alright. Behind the tree, where the Muggles won’t see.”
This time, the grass and sticks littering the ground rearranged themselves into a small map, more specific now that they were this close. It showed the house, and the shed, and a softly glowing star between them. “They’re in the back,” Pansy whispered.
“Oh fuck,” Ron moaned. If they were back there, wouldn’t they have been found by now? If they were… alright, anyway. It had been too hot to go that near to search there so far, but surely if they were alive, they would have walked away. They wouldn’t still be there.
“Does… does the spell track people who aren’t… aren’t alive?” Hermione asked shakily.
Pansy was very, very pale. “I don’t know.”
“We’ve got to get back there,” Ron hissed.
“But what about the Muggles?” Pansy asked.
“I’ll take care of them,” Hermione growled, stalking towards them with a determined look on her face. Her wand was out of her pocket now and in her hand, and with a few well-aimed Confundus charms and a couple Obliviate spells, the Muggles began wandering back to their homes, a vaguely pleased look on their faces. “C’mon,” she called to Pansy and Ron, running around the smoking pile of rubble.
She saw Harry and Draco almost instantly, curled up together in the grass, though they were so covered in soot and ash that it was nearly impossible to tell them apart. She stumbled to a stop, her hand flying up to her mouth as she stifled a low cry. They were dead, both of them, they wouldn’t be that still if they weren’t. She sunk weakly to her knees, both hands covering her face.
“Oh shit,” Ron whispered weakly, stopping beside her. It was Pansy who, with an irritated glare, hurried past them and knelt beside the two boys, her narrowed eyes running over them critically.
“Help me,” she snapped. “Stop panicking. It might not be too late for Draco at least. I bet Voldemort was inside, he’s probably… probably dead.” She glanced up at Ron. “I’m sorry. Harry’s probably…”
“You stupid boy,” Hermione hissed, crawling the short distance that separated her from the two boys. “When are you going to learn not to go off on things like this without talking to me first? It would have been so much easier on you both…”
Pansy glanced at her sharply. “What are you going on about, Hermione?”
Hermione ignored her. She’d pulled the boys gently apart, using her sleeve to tenderly wipe the blood and soot off Harry’s face. “He’s breathing, only just,” she announced, leaning her head down to Harry’s lips. “Check Draco.”
“Hermione,” Ron said gently, taking her hand. “He can’t be breathing. You-Know-Who was in the fire, he’s dead.”
“You don’t know that! He’s Voldemort, for god’s sake! What if the fire didn’t kill him? And don’t tell me you’re just as thick as Harry is! It’s so fucking obvious, why don’t any of you see it?” she snarled, her eyes blazing.
“See what?” Ron asked, kneeling between the two of them and helping Pansy clear some of the mess of Draco.
“How could Voldemort bind Harry to him if Harry was already bound to someone else?”
Ron’s eyes widened. Before he could ask the thousand questions burning in his eyes, she said quietly, not looking up from Harry, “Blood-bindings can never be broken. The Gobbler’s ink wasn’t a blood-binding but it needed one to activate the second property. Harry wrote that his blood mixed with the ink the first night, when he cut his finger. The blood-bond was intensified even more when they used both of their blood to break the bond formed through the ink. Even that bond-breaking couldn’t touch the blood-bind, however. Nothing can. They can never be broken. Or replaced. Harry hadn’t followed his bond to Voldemort to find them tonight… he followed his bond to Draco.”
“He’s alright?” Ron asked eagerly, bending over Harry.
“He’s not. He’s slashed up and broken,” she whispered. “I’ve done all I can, we’ve got to get him to Hogwarts and Dumbledore.”
She glanced over at Pansy, who had remained unnaturally silent throughout her whole explanation. “Is Malfoy okay?” she asked after a pause, her eyes trained on Pansy’s pale face.
Pansy lifted her dark eyes to Hermione and stammered, “I…I don’t know, I can’t get him to… to breathe.”
Hermione swore and crawled over to him, gently stroking his face in the rain. There were still streaks of black, wet soot there, the rain hadn’t washed it away, had only made it sticky and thick, like a sort of paste. “Draco,” she called softly, as if talking to him would really help. “C’mon, don’t do this.”
She searched for a pulse, bending close to his lips to feel for breath. “He’s cold,” she whispered.
“He’s always cold,” Pansy replied stubbornly. “It doesn’t mean a thing.” She stroked his face a little. “He’s my best friend,” she said in a choked tone. “He’ll be fine.”
Ron wrapped an arm around her and she buried her face in his shoulder.
“Flag down the Knight Bus,” Hermione said briskly, still bent over Draco. “We’ve got to get them to Dumbledore. I don’t know… Draco is… Pansy, he could be alright. I don’t know.”
Ron flagged down the Knight Bus and it arrived in seconds. He carried Harry inside, ignoring the driver’s questions, and Hermione pointed to something a short distance away. “That,” she said to Pansy. “Bring that too. And the brooms.”
She lifted Draco’s heavy body with the aid of a lightening spell while Pansy went to fetch the small chest that was lying in the grass a short distance away and then she went and found the brooms.
Hermione lay Draco on the same bed as Harry, close enough to touch, and then went to explain a bit better to the driver. She didn’t notice Draco’s chest slowly rise in a gentle breath that whispered out between his lips and ruffled Harry’s hair.
“…I don’t understand, I don’t understand, how can you be gone? After all we promised each other and all you said to me, how could you let me go? You told me that everything we had was real, but now it’s gone, and all I’m left with is this. It’s so empty, I never noticed how much I relied on you, even before I loved you, you were everything I measured myself by…It’s a nightmare, Draco, and I’m just waiting to wake up.”
The parchment slipped from shaking fingers, falling to the bed and lying on a pile of others, all similar, their tones ranging from hysterical denial to fury, and sometimes the odd tender letter. He picked up another.
“Potions today, just got out. We were reviewing for exams, it was lovely, Draco. Do you sense my sarcasm? I chopped the roots too coarsely and added them before the wormwood, which for some reason created a weak version of something Snape called ‘Swill’. I tried not to be offended, really. It was even a little funny when the potion splashed a little and splattered on Neville. He instantly started growing rather hairy warts. Amusing, yes, but I fear I’ll fail Potions without you here to make it make sense to me…
And still, another letter. “The sun’s gone down now, night’s always the hardest. That leaf you gave me (you did give it to me, didn’t you? That red one from the hollow?), it’s not red anymore. I didn’t even notice it start to die, and the other day I looked at it and it wasn’t crimson anymore, it was brown. I touched it and it crumbled to dust. I really shouldn’t have been surprised, everything turns to dust. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, that’s what Muggle priests say at funerals. What do wizards say? There is only power, and those too weak to seek it? I suspect it’s something like that, or at least something equally ironic.”
Draco let that one slip away as well, unable to read further. He took a deep, steadying breath, and glanced longingly at Harry, who was lying asleep on the bed that Draco had curled up on.
He hadn’t been awake very long and still wasn’t quite sure what had happened, how they had come to be in the hospital wing at Hogwarts. All Draco knew was that he had woken up on the bed beside Harry’s, aching, disoriented, and panicking, because he hadn’t wanted to wake up at all if Harry wasn’t there to wake up with.
But Harry had been there. Nearby at least. Not near enough to touch, but that was easy enough to counter. Draco had slipped shakily from his bed and climbed into Harry’s, at first not daring to believe it was possible, that Harry was there, and that he was alive, still breathing. He’d traced Harry’s features, his entire body trembling with something too profound even to be called relief. He hadn’t wanted to wake him, however, because Harry’s face still bore healing wounds from Voldemort’s attack on him. He was still pale with exhaustion, dark circles under his eyes, three freshly healed slashes on his cheeks that might leave faint scars. So Draco had let him sleep, resolving to watch over him while he did.
No one had come to check on them, they obviously hadn’t expected him to wake up so soon, but Draco didn’t mind. He was curled up beside Harry, could reach over and touch him whenever he liked, and somehow, they were both still alive.
He had noticed the small chest Harry had given to him on a table nearby and had leaned over Harry to reach it. As Harry had said before, it only opened for the two of them and it opened easily in Draco’s hands.
It was filled with letters, and for the last twenty minutes, Draco had been going through them, reading over them. He understood, of course. Harry wrote to him because he couldn’t stand to let him go, the same way Draco would go on and on for hours about Harry to those sodding stray dogs he had befriended.
There was one letter he hadn’t read, besides skimming the date on it. He’d dropped it as though it had scalded him and avoided it since, and now, hands trembling, he picked it up again.
It was dated the night that Harry had left Hogwarts, determined never to return. It was his good-bye letter, and Draco wasn’t sure he had the strength to read it.
The words pulled him in, however, as soon as he unfolded the parchment.
Before I say another word, I want you to know that everything I’m about to do is because I love you. I know you’ll sneer and mumble something about my ‘hero complex’ or my ‘sodding Gryffindor courage’, but courage is the last thing you could describe this as. It’s fear, simple as that. Terror even. That I could lose you to something you’ve fought against your whole life just because I was too weak to trust you, to have faith in you, even when you pushed me away. I really should have known. Don’t hate me for this, it has nothing to do with Voldemort or your father or Dumbledore, and everything to do with me and you. I don’t care if it kills me, Draco, he will not have you.
I also think it’s a little bit amusing, because I can’t figure out if this is proving fate exists or giving irrefutable proof that it doesn’t. Everything in my life led me up to loving you, taught me how to love you by first teaching me what it is to NOT love you, and all of that then led to this. Had I never loved you, he would never have been able to claim you, we both know it. Yet even with this choice before me, I cannot say I regret everything that came before, even if this were the only possible result. I’d rather die this young having loved you for a little bit than live forever and never have known you as I do now.
“Do you believe in fate, Draco?”
The voice startled him and Draco dropped the letter, glancing up. Dumbledore stood in the doorway.
“No,” Draco replied softly, not wanting to wake Harry. “I never have.”
Smiling, Dumbledore nodded, swept into the room, and said, “Glad to hear it, Mister Malfoy. And glad you have returned to us.”
Still feeling wary, Draco watched him carefully. “How did I get here?” he asked. “I mean, the fire… and Voldemort… I would have thought you wouldn’t want me back here, after what I did.”
“What you did? Oh, you must mean how you gave yourself to Voldemort so Harry would live. Obviously a call for expulsion.” He smiled a little and shook his head. “Any who wish my assistance are always welcome to it, Draco. I could no more have turned you away than I could turn any other of my students away, had they returned to Hogwarts as injured and in need of help as you did.”
Draco was only slightly reassured, and he looked at Harry solemnly for a long moment, gently stroking some of his hair out of his face, momentarily forgetting the Headmaster’s presence.
“He’ll be alright, Draco,” Dumbledore said very quietly. “He’s only resting.”
His eyes were burning when Draco looked up, and he whispered, “Not for long, Voldemort must have survived the fire, and he’ll kill Harry, he can do that, he did a binding and —”
“We aren’t sure if Voldemort survived, but even if he did, Harry is quite beyond his reach now. He can’t harm him, Draco.”
“Full explanations will be given, I promise you, just not quite yet. Harry is waking, and I suspect he won’t be in the mood for a long discussion of exactly why he survived. Though maybe, if the two of you consider it carefully, you’ll figure it out for yourselves.” Dumbledore smiled deviously. “I’ve got three hysterical students pacing the halls panicking over both of your conditions that must be dealt with, lest they storm the hospital wing and send Mister Potter into a nervous fit with the force of their relief. He’s still quite weak, Voldemort took a lot out of him. I’ll expect a full accounting of that battle later, Draco,” he finished sternly, before sweeping from the room, closing the door softly behind him.
Draco stared at the door with narrowed eyes for a long moment, before his attention was jerked from it and back to the bed, because Harry was stirring. His lips parted the tiniest bit and Harry moaned softly through them, turning restlessly and instinctively moving closer to Draco, his hand reaching out in sleep and resting on Draco’s chest. Burying his face in Harry’s hair, Draco breathed deeply and closed his eyes, tightening his arm around Harry’s shoulders, the letters falling to the floor like huge snowflakes.
“Draco?” Harry murmured sleepily.
Draco hadn’t known he was awake. “Yes?”
Snuggling closer and sliding his hand around Draco’s lower back, pulling him closer, Harry smiled, his eyes still closed. “You’re here.”
It was quiet for a long moment, Harry slowly waking up, reluctantly leaving that half-awake stage when the only thing that mattered was that Draco was there, holding him.
His entire body suddenly stiffened and his eyes flew open wide. Draco felt the change and tightened his arm around him, one hand soothingly stroking his back. “Breathe,” he whispered. “It’s alright.”
“Voldemort… the fire… Draco, you were… I… what happened?” Harry said, words spilling out of his mouth without thought, tripping over each other.
“Shh,” Draco replied gently. “Everything’s fine.”
Harry pulled away, reaching for his glasses. Draco had half a second to wonder at the fact that he knew exactly where Madam Pomfrey would have left them, that’s how often he’d woken up disoriented in the hospital wing. Then Harry was searching his face, his eyes bright and worried. “Are you alright? Are you really alright? God, Draco, you’re alright.”
Laughing softly, Draco nodded. “I am. I don’t know… Dumbledore said he’d explain later.
“I don’t care why,” Harry moaned, collapsing against Draco again. “I don’t care, as long as you never leave me again.”
“I had no choice,” Draco cried, though he was smiling almost tenderly, content to lay there with Harry wrapped around him, face buried in his chest.
Harry growled under his breath but didn’t reply, closing his eyes. He was shaking, his entire body trembling, and he pressed closer.
“Harry,” Draco said gently now, tilting his face up so that he could see his eyes. “Calm down, Dumbledore says you’re still weak, and I can even see that you’re not healed yet. Don’t start falling apart, okay? It’s over. Just rest, it’ll be fine, I’ll never leave you again, alright?”
His eyes narrowed and Harry pressed his trembling lips to Draco’s, sliding a little and kissing the line of his jaw. “I’m fine,” he replied, moving a little so he was half on top of Draco, his head once again on his chest. “Just don’t let go.”
Draco wouldn’t have, not for the world. He wrapped his arms around Harry and held him very close, closing his eyes, his own hands shaking, just a little.
The door flew open and Hermione, Ron, and Pansy rushed into the room. “Hurry,” Hermione was panting. “Dumbledore’ll be after us soon.” Her eyes flew to Draco’s and she smiled shakily. “You’re awake.”
Harry’s eyes opened but he didn’t turn to look, only buried his face in Draco’s chest again.
“Is Harry…” Ron started to ask, frowning at the way they were tangled together on the bed. Not because it looked wrong or anything of the sort. Because Malfoy was clinging to Harry just as much as Harry was clinging to him.
“I’m alright,” Harry said quietly.
“Oh, god, Harry,” Hermione moaned, collapsing into a chair beside the bed. Harry finally rolled away from Draco to smile weakly at her, and she took his hand.
Pansy was shaking, a trembling smile on her lips, and she touched Draco’s face with shaking fingertips. “Hey, Draco,” she greeted softly.
He smiled teasingly. “You’re not going to cry, are you? In public? What have I told you about letting people see you cry?”
She laughed even as she fell to her knees on the opposite side of the bed from Hermione, and tears suddenly burst from her eyes. Sobbing and clinging to his hand, she started wailing, even as Draco rolled his eyes indulgently and held her hand tightly. “It’s alright,” he kept saying, laughing a little helplessly.
Ron came up behind Pansy and knelt beside her, one hand on her back as he studied Draco in silence. Finally, he asked, “Did you really do that? Go with Voldemort to save Harry?”
Draco’s eyes turned dark and wary. “Yes.”
“Why?” Ron whispered.
“Because I love him,” was the simple reply, and Draco’s tone dared Ron to find something wrong with that.
He smiled shakily instead. “Oh. Makes sense then.”
Draco surprised them both by laughing suddenly, and Harry turned towards him at the sound, smiling a little.
“I still don’t understand how we got here,” he said sleepily.
“We brought you,” Hermione said with a shrug. “Pansy knew that Draco was with Voldemort but Dumbledore had told her not to tell so that you wouldn’t go after him, Harry.”
“Dumbledore knew?” Harry whispered dangerously, his eyes narrowing. “He knew that Draco was with Voldemort?”
As if on cue, the door flew open and Dumbledore stood there, frowning sternly, though his eyes still sparkled a little. “I believe you’ve had long enough to reassure yourselves that they’re still living,” he said, glancing at Hermione pointedly.
She laughed a little, though her eyes still burned with relieved tears, and got to her feet. “Yes, Professor,” she gave in gracefully, slipping out the door. Pansy and Ron followed, closing the door behind them, and Harry finally sat up, his eyes narrowing dangerously.
“You’re here to yell at me for going after him,” he said coldly.
“Now, Harry,” Dumbledore said very gently. “Don’t jump to conclusions. Though I admit, going after him was very foolish —”
“Someone had to! And you knew! You knew why he left, you knew he was gone against his will, and you didn’t tell me! You didn’t protect him!”
“Harry, there was nothing he could do,” Draco said patiently.
“You’re both wrong,” Dumbledore said solemnly. “I did protect him, as best I could, though the situation was tricky, Harry. Draco was safe for the time being, and we were working on a way to get him out without hurting you. He was protected. If anything changed, he would have been removed from the situation immediately.”
Draco frowned. “How would you have known?”
Smiling faintly, Dumbledore went back to the door and opened it, speaking softly for a moment, before stepping aside.
A large black dog slipped into the room, and both Harry and Draco gasped, though for different reasons. “I know that dog!” Draco cried. The dog looked up at him with patient, sparkling eyes and then walked around the bed to Harry’s side and hopped onto it, licking his face, making him smile reluctantly. “That… that’s one of the stray dogs,” Draco whispered.
Harry had thrown his arms around the dog’s neck and buried his face in its fur. “It’s safe now, I believe, Sirius.”
And then the dog was gone and in its place, Sirius Black sat on the bed, Harry clinging to him.
Draco blinked. “What?” he asked rather slowly. “That’s Sirius Black.”
“It is,” Dumbledore agreed.
“He’s my godfather,” Harry whispered.
“Voldemort went into hiding right after he took you because I told him there was a spy,” Sirius told Draco quietly. “I was the spy, of course, but he didn’t know that, just as he didn’t know I was an unregistered Animagus. No one knew I worked for him, because I was so close to Dumbledore, he didn’t want to risk Dumbledore ever finding out that I was double crossing him, though really, I was double crossing Voldemort. And when he showed up with Malfoy, I knew that I had to keep him safe, so I told Voldemort there was a spy and have been pretending to be working to identify the spy this whole time, so that we could keep both Voldemort and Malfoy under supervision until the curse on Harry could be lifted.” He shrugged and smiled at Draco.
“But why would you care?” Draco asked quietly, glancing at Sirius and then back at Dumbledore. “I mean, I thought everyone would just… let me go.”
“How could I not care?” Sirius replied with another smile. “Harry’s been sending me letters for months now, and all he could talk about was you.”
Draco blinked and glanced at Harry, who looked a little embarrassed. “You told him about me?”
“Who else was I supposed to tell?” Harry asked, though his face was slowly turning pink.
The whole idea that Harry would write to his godfather about him, as if… as if he wasn’t embarrassed about it or trying to hide it was novel and very, very appealing to Draco, who, for the first time in months, slowly smiled, a genuine, perfect, lopsided grin. “Oh god, Harry,” he teased. “That’s so corny.”
Harry glared at him in mock anger and rolled his eyes. “Shut up,” he said, his blush intensifying. Draco just smiled in reply and for a long moment, they were unable to tear their eyes away from each other.
Dumbledore cleared his throat and both boys blinked and looked startled. They’d forgotten anyone else was in the room. “Oh, sorry, Professor,” Harry said breathlessly. Draco just smirked.
Dumbledore left, after implying that it would be beneficial for Draco to get back into his own bed before Pomfrey discovered him in Harry’s (a suggestion that was promptly ignored by both Harry and Draco). As soon as the door closed behind him, Draco dove under the covers and curled up beside Harry, his legs tangling with the other boy’s, his arms locking around Harry’s waist.
Harry was giggling. “What are you doing?” he whispered, as Draco pressed as close to him as he could, so that every inch of their bodies were touching somehow, tangled together some how. So that he could feel the heat of Harry’s body through the itchy starched hospital-wing pajamas they both wore. Draco pulled off Harry’s glasses and set them aside.
“Shh,” Draco scolded. “If anyone comes in here, pretend to be asleep, alright? Then they’ll leave.”
“Who else would come —”
There was a hesitant knock on the door.
“Oh bloody everlasting hell,” Draco hissed, before forcing Harry to close his eyes and closing his own as well.
The door opened and there were cautious footsteps. “Harry? Are you awake? Hermione said –” There was a pause. “Oh, I guess you’re asleep. I didn’t come here to talk to you anyway.”
It was Ginny, and Draco snorted softly, masking the sound for a snore.
And then she touched his face. “I came to talk to Malfoy.”
Only Harry felt the surprise tear through Draco’s body, causing his breath to catch a little. He smiled against the hollow of Draco’s throat and flicked his tongue there, lightly, enjoying Draco’s discomfort.
“I guess he’s asleep too. Doesn’t matter, this’ll be easier to say if he’s not able to hear it.” It was silent for a moment, and then Ginny said in a rush, “When they told me you were gone, Malfoy, I wanted to hunt you down and rip you apart for hurting Harry. I wanted to curse you until your eyes dried up in your skull and I wanted to make you scream. I was so angry that he’d fallen in love with someone who could leave him and hurt him instead of me. But… But Ron told me what happened, why you really left, and… I guess… I wanted to…thank you. Because… you deserve him, Malfoy, if you’re that brave.”
She kissed his cheek lightly.
“And you do a better job of taking care of him than I ever could,” she whispered.
She walked around the bed and brushed Harry’s hair off his forehead, kissing him as well. “And I’ll always love you, Harry.” And then she was gone.
The instant the door closed, Harry’s eyes flew open and he hissed, “If you ever mention that you heard that, Draco, or tease her for it, I’ll —”
Draco cut him off, kissing him lightly. “Why would I ever do that?” he whispered.
Studying his face suspiciously, Harry replied, “Why would you disguise yourself as me and make out with her on Halloween?”
“Because it was fun.”
“And teasing her about this wouldn’t be fun?”
Draco looked appalled. “No, of course not! It would hurt her. Despite what you think of me, Harry, I’m not a monster.”
Slightly convinced, Harry sighed with a smile. “I don’t think you’re a monster,” he said quietly, snuggling back against him.
“I should hope not.”
“It’s just that she’s my friend and I hurt her already and I just don’t want her to be hurt anymore and—”
“Hush. I won’t hurt your precious Ginny.”
Harry smiled a little. “Good.”
It was silent for a long time, and Harry smiled against Draco’s throat.
“Close your eyes,” Draco whispered.
Harry closed his eyes quickly, and Draco smiled as he felt his eyelashes brush against his skin. “They are closed,” Harry said softly. “Have been all this time.”
Kissing the top of his head, Draco smiled a little. “Then go to sleep.”
“I am asleep,” he lied.
Draco laughed quietly and held him even tighter. “I love you,” he said solemnly.
“I love you too,” Harry replied softly, sleepily.
They fell asleep a few moments later, at the same time, their breathing deepening, mingling in the air between them.
Spring had come quickly, bursting on Hogwarts with characteristic suddenness and bringing with it milder winds, melting snow, rains, and flowers. The lake had changed colours, from the cobalt blue of winter to something lighter, the grounds turned greener, and the forest stopped being so skeletal, began to fill out.
By the time Draco and Harry were released from the Hospital wing and given their grounds privileges back, spring was full on them and winter just a memory.
Everyone in the school had heard of Draco and Harry by now, though the story was often obscure and exaggerated, the only fact remaining the same in every telling were that somehow the two boys had fallen in love. The Slytherins told the rest of the tale focusing on how Draco had saved Harry from Voldemort, and the Gryffindors told of how Harry had saved Draco, while the Ravenclaws struggled to work out just how this had all happened without their knowledge and the Hufflepuffs giggled and sighed about how romantic the entire thing was.
Harry and Draco remained immune to the whispers, however. If anyone disapproved, they didn’t notice. If anyone thought that Harry should have left Draco in Voldemort’s clutches or that Draco should have laughed while Voldemort killed Harry, they didn’t hear it, because they were completely wrapped up in each other. For their parts, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Pansy spent a lot of time hotly defending them, but they didn’t notice that either. If Ron suddenly had more bruises and cuts on his face, he blamed it on fights with Crabbe, and if Pansy had more detentions for cursing fellow students in the hall, she didn’t mention it. As for Hermione, never one to sit idly by when she didn’t understand something, she had decided, with much determination, that there must be something about Slytherins that made going to hell and back worth it, and she had decided to do some research to discover what. Blaise, while certainly not unwilling, could hardly be called all that willing, but that had never stopped Hermione before when she was determined to prove a point; what, exactly, her point was this time, she hadn’t deigned to explain.
Harry had been right when he had said that being with Draco was the easiest thing he’d ever done, and now that Ron was accepting and even supporting the relationship, Ginny wasn’t hurt any longer, and Hermione had accepted that Draco didn’t mean to hurt him, being with Draco was the most natural thing in the world. They fit together perfectly, both physically and in every other sense of the word.
Walking together around the lake for the first time since Draco had been taken, Harry refused to let go of his hand, and gazed around in wonder that spring had come while he’d been locked inside for his own protection.
Draco was talking this time, and Harry hadn’t heard a word he had said. It didn’t matter what he said, as long as Harry got to hear his voice, and he smiled a little as he let Draco tug him by the hand, still deep in his narrative that had something to do with Quidditch. Quidditch had stopped being a priority for Harry sometime ago, however.
They ducked under a low-hanging branch that was heavy with apple blossoms and leaves, brushing against it and causing the fragile flowers to fall apart, a pale pink shower of them raining down like snow.
“—And then, fifth year, in that game we played against Hufflepuff, I tried doing that move I saw you do against Ravenclaw in the game before only I totally lost control of it and that’s why I fell! It wasn’t because you suddenly showed up in the stands with that stupid banner Finnegan made about how much I sucked so hard that you—”
Harry smiled indulgently and wondered rather blissfully what Draco was going on about and kissed him lightly. Draco kissed back and then pulled away, continuing with the story.
There was a leaf in his hair and Harry pulled it out, holding it up and studying the way the sunlight painted a gold splash pattern on it. He traced the edges, which were tinged with silver, and twirled the stem between his fingers, glancing up at Draco and watching the way his eyes sparkled as he described some complicated Quidditch maneuver that really no longer interested Harry. He was wearing his Slytherin Quidditch robes, had just come from practice, and Harry studied the way the green of the robes contrasted with his silver eyes. Green and silver.
He laughed suddenly, and Draco glanced over at him, exasperated. “Harry,” he scolded. “Have you not heard a word I’ve said?”
“Every word,” Harry lied sweetly, before tucking the leaf back into Draco’s hair.
Suspicious, Draco pulled it out, glancing at it and then back at Harry. “It’s a leaf.”
Harry wrinkled his nose and grinned. “It’s a gift. In thanks for the red and gold one you gave me.”
He glanced back at the leaf and then at Harry, still skeptical. “But Harry, this is just a regular leaf,” he said, pretending to pout. “The one I gave you was red and gold. What’s so special about this one?”
Harry smiled. “Slytherin colours,” he said brightly, slipping ahead.
Draco was silent for a long moment and then, smiling faintly, he tucked it in his pocket. “Wait for me,” he called, hurrying after Harry.
Harry breathed deeply and the air smelled of clovers. He smiled. Beautiful was not a word Harry Potter used often, but if anything deserved that term, this spring would be it. He’d always loved the spring; Things came to life instead of died. More of a beginning than an ending, and he loved every second of it.
if you want to take the world on now
I will be right there beside you
but if you want to sleep the whole day through
I will be right there beside you.
A/N: This is the last chapter, so my notes will probably be longer than usual. Thanks to Lady Morsmordre for talking me through this and having faith that I could actually write it. Also for betaing it and being so patient. Oh, and that essay on the physics of slash was very useful. Thanks to Ani for reading everything I ever write and only mocking it on occasion, and for betaing as well. And for her reverse psychology whenever I wail that I quit and I’ll never write again. Also Jess, for betaing for me and being so lovely. Thanks to Donna for not whacking me for all the countless emails with huge chunks of this and my other stories, along with panicky notes about how I’ll never write again.
Dedicated to everyone who read it and especially those who reviewed, because I love you best. Those who haven’t reviewed but have read it still have the chance to redeem themselves by reviewing this chapter! Hehe.
The lyrics at the beginning and end of this chapter are from the song "Bus Ride" by Alex Lloyd, which is an absolutely gorgeous song.