Title: Some Kind of Miracle (15/?)
Author: Annie (_pinkchocolate)
Pairings: HP/DM, HP/GW
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to JK Rowling. Well... almost everything.
Summary: Draco is determined to live the last nine months of his life with no regrets. But when a series of unfortunate events exposes a list of his innermost wishes, ambitions, and desires to Harry Potter’s eyes, he might find that facing his imminent death is not so easy after all.
Word Count: 4,738
Notes: My awesome betas Christine and Vana are responsible for the quick update. Bow down to them.
14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 P
“What’s in the bags?”
Harry smiled mysteriously, but didn’t answer Draco’s question. Ever since they had returned to Hogwarts and left McGonagall’s office, Draco had been badgering him about the items he’d purchased at Diagon Alley. Harry had, of course, kept his lips tightly sealed; he wanted to keep the contents of the bags a secret until the time to reveal them arose.
They stopped at the portrait of the Fat Lady. Draco was looking sour again. When Harry pointed this out, Draco’s eyes flashed angrily.
“Well, you’re leaving to spend the rest of the day with your friends, so why do you care?” he snapped.
Harry’s eyebrows skyrocketed. It hadn’t even occurred to him that he could still join his friends for Christmas supper; he had simply assumed that he would spend the entire day with Draco. Then a grin slowly spread across his face. So that was why Draco had gone back to sulking.
“Don’t tell me you’re jealous, Malfoy.”
“Jealous that you’re going to spend Christmas in a dump? Hardly,” Draco snorted – quite unconvincingly, if truth be told.
Sighing, Harry regarded Draco thoughtfully. He did want to go back to Headquarters – he missed not only Ron, Hermione, and Ginny, but the rest of the surviving Order, too. He wanted to open presents in front of a warm fireplace with his friends, wanted to see Remus and Tonks in their well-deserved post-engagement happiness. But at the same time, he also wanted to do something else, something which he could only do with Draco Malfoy…
“I’m not going.”
“I said, I’m not –”
“I know, but why?”
Harry held up the two bags he’d brought back from Diagon Alley. “I didn’t buy all of this just to let it go to waste.”
For a moment, there was silence, and Harry was afraid that Draco would tell him to go to Headquarters anyway, but then, with the slightest hint of gratitude beneath his sullen tone, he muttered, “Whatever.”
A grin broke across Harry’s face. “Good. Because you’re going to like this.”
Draco shot him a wary look, but there was no mistrust behind it, which pleased Harry and made an unidentifiable warmth rise in his chest.
“You remember number eleven on your list? ‘Spend a night in the Shrieking Shack’?”
Draco nodded, once again looking surprised that Harry had remembered.
“I was wondering if… maybe, y’know, you wanted to do that. Tonight.”
“What?” said Draco blankly, as if Harry were speaking to him in a foreign language.
“I know how to get there,” Harry clarified. For some reason, he was starting to feel nervous, so he scuffed at the ground with his feet and twirled his wand between his fingers, wondering why Draco was taking so damn long to say yes.
“I can’t leave the grounds,” said Draco unhelpfully, “my wand’s being tracked.”
“Didn’t you temporarily block the tracking charm when we went to Hogsmeade?” Harry pointed out. He was quickly growing frustrated with Draco’s lack of cooperation. He had thought it was a brilliant idea when he came up with it.
Draco snorted. “I never said that, Potter. Some dim-witted first year left her wand lying around in the library, so I stole it.”
“You – what? You returned it, though, right?”
Draco made a noncommittal noise, which Harry took for a “yes”. However, that didn’t help their current predicament.
“You’re just going to have to leave your wand behind, then,” said Harry matter-of-factly.
“Leave my wand behind?” Draco repeated incredulously, staring at Harry as if he had grown an extra head. “Are you mad? You want me to willingly spend a night in a haunted dwelling without even my wand to protect me?”
“I’ll be there.”
Draco fell silent. It was clear that he hadn’t been expecting Harry to accompany him.
“What, you thought I was going to let you go alone?” said Harry lightly. He forced a smile. “Can’t have you escaping, remember?”
The surprise on Draco’s face vanished with an exhale of breath, and his eyes narrowed to slits. “Yes, of course,” he said tersely.
Guilt prickled at Harry’s insides; he had not intended to lie about his reason for going with Draco. But he just couldn’t bring himself to say that he wanted to spend time with the other boy. It was one thing to acknowledge it, but quite another to admit it.
“D’you want to go soon, then?” said Harry lamely, in an attempt to break the awkward silence. “I mean, because I told Ron and Hermione I’d spend the rest of break with them, starting tomorrow…”
This was clearly the wrong thing to say. The silence returned, thicker than ever and accompanied by a murderous expression on Draco’s face.
“I could nick some food from the kitchens and we could take it with us. I have some blankets that – oh for Merlin’s sake, Malfoy, stop it! I’m doing you a favour, okay?”
“Because you ‘can’t have me escaping’, right?” Draco mocked, his lip curling. Harry could tell that he had been waiting to say this for a long time. “Stop deluding yourself, Potter, you’re only doing the Ministry favours.”
Harry jumped to defend himself. “That’s not true!” he said furiously. Draco had no right to twist his intentions around like that, not when he was doing everything in his power to make sure Draco got what he wanted.
“Oh? Is that why everything you’ve done so far is only to keep me checked? ‘I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing this for Tonks, because I’m sure she has better things to do than waste her time with filth like you.’ That’s all it is, remember?”
Draco spat the words out, and each one hit Harry like a slap across the face. It was true – he had said that. But that didn’t mean that…
“That’s not the way things are anymore!” Harry exclaimed, flustered and stumbling over his words. “When I said that, I didn’t… the circumstances have changed since then. What I said in the library, that’s the truth, that’s what –”
“And how have they changed?” Draco’s raised voice rang across the empty corridor and drowned out Harry’s protests. “I’m still going to get Kissed, you’re still watching every move I make, the wizarding world still hates me, you’ve still got Weasley –”
“What’s Ron got to do with anything?” Harry asked, nonplussed.
“Not him, his filthy little sister –”
“Ginny?” Harry interrupted again, still confused. “She hasn’t done anything to you.”
But Draco’s eyes were wide and fearful above the hand he had slapped over his mouth; apparently he had uttered something he shouldn’t have. Bewildered, Harry watched as Draco slowly lowered his hand and averted his eyes.
“Never mind,” he mumbled, his temper deflating quicker than a punctured balloon.
Taken aback, Harry protested, “But you said –”
“Never mind,” Draco snarled. “I’m going to get some sleep. Meet me in the Entrance Hall at five.”
And without waiting for Harry’s reply, he stomped down the hallway, leaving Harry stock-still and gaping in his wake. Not until the sound of approaching footsteps startled him into moving did it occur to Harry that Draco’s trust in him had reached a level such that he was willing to walk, wandless, into a supposedly haunted hovel with only Harry to protect him.
Draco, however, didn’t get his much-needed rest. Instead, he lay wide awake on his bed, staring blankly at his ceiling and listening to the sounds of the other Slytherins enjoying their Christmas presents.
He wasn’t evading sleep out of fear that he’d dream of Dementors and scabby hands pulling him towards a dark, shadowed hood, though it was true that these dreams were becoming more frequent and that they would have been a sensible excuse for Draco’s sleeplessness. It wasn’t even his visit to his mother that had scared the sleep out of him, though Merlin knew how much the image of her in her cell tormented him. The truth was, he couldn’t stop thinking about Harry.
For the past few nights, all he had done was think about Harry. As he lay awake, unwilling to leave his dormitory for fear of coming across Nott or one of the other less forgiving Slytherins (though, thankfully, the former was no longer an issue), Draco thought about all the things he had done with Harry that day and filed them away in specific compartments of his memory. Most of the time, he didn’t have much to think about. On those nights, he would fall asleep quickly. But some nights, he could stay up for hours, just recalling every little word, gesture, and smile Harry had directed at him that day and wondering if he would still remember them a day, a week, a month from then.
What bothered Draco the most was that, somewhere along the line, he had memorised Harry’s face. He had memorised the mop of unruly black hair that surrounded it, the straight nose, the stubborn jaw, the thin lips, the startling green eyes that never seemed to miss a thing. And then he had memorised the way that hair stuck out ungracefully in every which way, regardless of how many times it was self-consciously flattened; the way those lips parted slightly with each exhale and inhale of breath (Draco had never noticed before how Harry rarely breathed through his nose); the way those eyes lit up with eager expectancy whenever someone was about to answer a pressing question of his. Hell, Draco had even memorised the shape of Harry’s hideous glasses.
But even though he had taken the time to take note of all these small details, Draco was only half-way through to realising one thing: that the only difference between this troubling fixation on Harry’s appearance and the bout of similar fascination he had experienced on the Hogwarts Express was that the panic he had felt then over his imminent death was no longer the source of his mysterious feelings, and that now it was something else, something far less comprehensible and far more unsettling, that drove him to give a damn about the curve of Harry’s neck.
Now, Draco wasn’t a fool. He knew perfectly well that he was becoming slightly obsessed with Harry. He also knew that said obsession could not bring about good things for anyone, himself especially; so, firmly pushing Harry out of his mind, he swung his legs over the side of his bed and got up. He’d go take a stroll to pass the remaining time before five o’clock, and maybe take in sights prettier than Harry’s face.
By half past five, Draco and Harry were striding down the Entrance Hall, the brittle silence between them the only evidence of their earlier row. Harry carried the two bags he’d brought back from Diagon Alley and his Invisibility Cloak, while Draco had two blankets and Hogwarts: A History tucked under his arm.
As they walked past the Great Hall, which was already beginning to fill with students, Harry muttered something under his breath. Draco automatically turned to look at him.
“I said, it doesn’t look like they put as much effort into these decorations as they used to,” Harry repeated, in a louder voice.
Draco craned his neck to catch a glimpse of the interior of the Great Hall. Harry was right. The Great Hall was always the most heavily decorated part of the castle, yet the garlands of holly and mistletoe, glittering icicles, and twelve Christmas trees weren’t nearly as extravagant as they had once been. The sparkling, multi-coloured clouds of live fairies were absent, as were the large flakes of snow that fell from the enchanted ceiling.
Shrugging, Draco replied, “I doubt anyone cares.”
It was true – the holiday spirit was all but absent from Hogwarts this year. Most of the students they passed wore expressions ranging from glum to outright miserable. Draco had a feeling they were remembering the war and the family members with whom they could have been enjoying their breaks this very moment it had never happened. For the first time, he felt like he could empathise with all of them, regardless of their houses.
Harry had opened his mouth to answer, but before he could get a word out, a hand grabbed Draco’s arm and stopped him mid-stride.
“Let go,” he said angrily, then stopped when he saw that the hand on his arm belonged to Pansy Parkinson.
“Hi, Draco,” she said, beaming at him.
Draco looked round; Harry had stopped, and was watching them curiously. “Hi,” he said stiffly. “Sorry, Pansy, but I’ve got to –”
“I know you’re probably busy, but I just wanted to say Happy Christmas,” she said. Her round eyes travelled over Draco’s shoulder and widened when they landed on Harry. “Draco,” she hissed, her voice dropping so that Draco had to lean in to hear her, “what’re you doing with him?”
Draco felt a flash of annoyance. “Nothing,” he said bracingly.
Pansy gave him a worried look. “You know, you really should stop being seen with riff-raff like him. Our lot aren’t very happy with you, Drake, you know that. They were positively furious when they found out that Theodore and Malcolm had been expelled. They said that they were going to get you and Potter back for it. I told them that it wasn’t your fault because Potter had you bewitched, but I can’t keep helping you… you’ve got to apologise and tell them yourself!”
“Tell them what?” said Draco blankly. “The truth? That Nott attacked me and left me to die?”
“That’s not – you didn’t have to –” Pansy stammered, her fingers nervously twisting the hem of her shirt.
“It’s what happened, and you know it, Pansy. I have nothing to apologise for.”
Draco glared at Pansy, daring her to continue. Any person with half a mind would have balked at that glare, but Pansy, being less intelligent than the average person, pressed on.
“Tracey reckons you should’ve blamed the attack on Potter,” she whispered. “That way you could’ve proven your true loyalty.”
Indignation at the very thought of blaming Harry for something he would never do bubbled up inside of Draco. Shaking his head, he said coldly, “My true loyalty was to the Dark Lord and my father, not to you or the rest of our house, though I may have believed it at one point in my life. Now that they’re gone, it belongs to no one but myself.”
Relief swept across Pansy’s hard features. “Then you’re not on Potter’s side? You still hate him?”
The prickling on the back of Draco’s neck informed him that Harry’s eyes were on him. Setting his jaw, he said shortly, “I’m on no one’s side.”
“Happy Christmas, Pansy,” he said, cutting her off. “You can tell the rest of them that I look forward to seeing them follow their new ringleader around like ugly, pathetic dogs as soon as they appoint one.”
And, turning his back on her, he grabbed Harry’s wrist and towed him down the Entrance Hall to the front doors.
“That was brilliant!” Harry insisted ten minutes later as he and Draco traipsed through a thick blanket of snow towards the Whomping Willow, their cloaks clutched tightly around them. It was already starting to get dark, and the cold winter wind beating against them was ruthless.
“No, it wasn’t,” Draco fumed. “I just lost the only person speaking to the Slytherins on my behalf.”
“Oh, come off it,” said Harry consolingly, “Pansy will come running back to you first thing next morning, trust me. She’s obsessed with you.”
“You don’t understand, Potter,” said Draco, and even though it was dark, Harry could tell that he was gritting his teeth. “She hasn’t got any sympathy for me if I’m not loyal to our housemates.”
“You don’t need her, then,” said Harry easily, stopping just beyond reach of the Whomping Willow’s thrashing branches. He searched the ground, and found a long stick a few feet away.
“Tell me if it looks like it’s about to get me, will you?” said Harry. He edged forwards, stretching his arms as far as they would go, reaching for the knot in the trunk, and – there. The tree immediately froze, the silhouettes of its gnarled branches looking almost comical against the rapidly darkening sky.
Draco cleared his throat after Harry had dropped the stick. “How… how do you know about this passageway?” he asked, sounding both nervous and curious.
For a moment, Harry considered telling Draco about the Marauder’s Map. But something stopped him – he had already told Draco quite a bit, really, and the Marauder’s Map was dear to him, a relic of his dad’s days. “I have my ways,” he said simply. “C’mon, let’s go.”
Harry lit his wand with a whispered “Lumos!” as he squeezed through the gap in the tree’s roots. It was cold in the tunnel; the earth around him was frozen solid. Once he was sure that Draco had followed, Harry began to crawl through the cramped space, the icy ground numbing his hands and knees.
“Are you sure this is going to work?” Draco hissed from behind him.
“Yeah, I’ve used it before,” said Harry bracingly.
“It’s fucking freezing down here…”
“Well, there’s not much I can do about it, is there?” said Harry testily. “Now stop whinging, this won’t take long.”
Sure enough, the ground soon began to slope upwards, and within a matter of minutes, Harry emerged into a small, disorganised room. He slithered out of the tunnel and flexed his shoulders, glad to be out of the low passageway. Crouching down, he offered his hand to Draco. Rather than accepting it, Draco shot Harry a withering glare and eased himself smoothly out of the hole.
“This is the inside of the Shrieking Shack?” Draco muttered, his nose wrinkling as his eyes scanned the dust-covered floor and furniture (or remnants thereof). Harry detected a note of fear in the other boy’s voice, and remembered that Draco still thought the place was haunted.
Laughing, Harry said teasingly, “Well, the evil spirits in here haven’t much need for housekeeping.”
Draco scowled at Harry. “Shut up.”
Harry shrugged good-naturedly and turned to survey the room. It appeared to have once been a drawing room, because there was a boarded-up fireplace set into the far wall and a sagging sofa with chunks torn out of its seat cushions near the door leading into the hallway. All the other furniture had been made of wood and thus destroyed by Lupin during his transformations.
“Well… I guess we’ll just have to…” Harry gave a hopeful sweep of his wand. A few broken chair legs and most of the dust vanished. Pointing at the fireplace, he said, “Reducto!” The boards sealing the fireplace shattered, sending splinters of wood flying in every which way. Wincing, Harry waved his wand a second time to clear the debris.
An exasperated sigh made him turn around. “What?” he said irritably.
“Honestly, you’re hopeless, Potter.” Draco swept past Harry, taking Harry’s wand as he passed, and began Transfiguring the spare chunks of wood Harry had missed into simple but comfy-looking furniture: two chairs, another sofa, and a low table.
“Wow,” said Harry, genuinely impressed, “how did you do that?”
“I paid attention in Fourth-Year Transfiguration,” said Draco, smirking as he handed Harry’s wand back to him. “Anyway, this dump is still hardly fit for residence, not to mention rather hard on the eyes, but it’ll have to do.”
“I’m sure you’ve seen much worse,” said Harry without thinking.
There was a very pregnant pause, during which Harry realised that his statement must have been interpreted as a reference to the war – a subject, he had learned since their conversation on the stairway, which ought to be avoided at all costs. Cringing, he quickly amended, “Not that… y’know, it matters.”
But it was too late; the damage had been done. The smug expression slid off of Draco’s face, and his eyes immediately adopted their familiar haunted look. “Yeah, I’ve stayed in worse,” said Draco quietly.
Harry avoided Draco’s eyes as he hurried over to the dusty fireplace. “Why don’t we get the fire started?” he suggested, his tone falsely cheerful. “Um… what was the incantation… oh, yeah. Incendio!”
Flames burst into life on the grate, instantly chasing away the chill in the desolate little room. Harry’s exhaustion, which he had been putting off all day, came rushing back to him, and he collapsed onto the sofa Draco had conjured with a grateful sigh.
“These aren’t bad,” he said approvingly.
“Yeah, well,” said Draco, as he sank into one of the armchairs, “when you spend months sleeping on hard ground, you learn to do this sort of stuff.”
And then, without a further word, Draco balanced Hogwarts: A History on his lap, opened it to his bookmarked page, and began reading, as if he were back in the Hogwarts library and not miles away from the castle against the Ministry’s orders.
Several minutes passed. Draco seemed to have forgotten that Harry was there, because he had curled up like a contented cat, eyes fixed intently on his book, looking uncharacteristically relaxed. His pale face was bathed in the soft, reddish orange glow radiating from the hearth, its normally sharp lines softened by the dancing shadows. Each time he exhaled, his white-blond fringe fluttered gently into his eyes, but he made no attempt to brush the locks of hair away. Eyelashes dark and lowered, Draco looked so peaceful that he could have been sleeping.
As the silence stretched on, Harry became uncomfortably aware of something great swelling inside his chest, a strange, powerful emotion which pressed against his ribcage and made it difficult to breathe. He squirmed in his seat and tried to ignore it, but the longer he gazed at Draco, the more unbearable it became, until he was forced to stand up and say loudly, “Be right back.”
Draco grunted, but didn’t look away from his reading. As quietly as he could, Harry picked up his bags, left the sitting room, and found his way to the nearest room. It was a derelict place, covered in a layer of dust so thick that it stifled Harry’s footsteps as he entered. A rusty stove and cracked counter indicated that the room had once been a kitchen.
He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. What was wrong with him? For he now recognised the earlier sensation in his chest: it was the same thing he’d felt when he gazed down upon Ginny’s sleeping form every morning in the week before they left for Hogwarts. It was affection.
But how could he feel affection for Draco? He didn’t even like Draco very much. He felt nothing like the fire which burned every time he laid eyes on Ginny. Or used to burn, at least, because lately the fire had dulled to something more along the lines of a pleasant warmth. Of course, that was just because he rarely got to see Ginny outside of classes… wasn’t it?
Clearing these puzzling thoughts with a shake of his head, Harry set to work on one of the surprises he had planned for Draco. He wasn’t very good at conjuring large objects out of thin air, so he had picked up a fallen evergreen branch on the way to the Whomping Willow earlier. Now, he took this out of his pocket and placed it on the floor. Pointing his wand at it, he screwed up his face in concentration and whispered, “Augmenta!”
With a shower of sparks, the branch jumped a few inches into the air and began rapidly dividing into two, three, ten, twenty branches, each of which continued to split into more. The common branch connecting these dividing branches thickened and lengthened, growing into a trunk. Finally, with a muffled thump, the stubby Christmas tree fell onto the dust-covered floor.
Harry frowned at it. Not quite what he had hoped for, but it’d have to suffice. Waving his wand so that the tree was hovering upright an inch or so above the floor, Harry made quick work of the decorations. Within a matter of seconds, the tree was decked with glowing holly berries, a light dusting of snow, glittering, lifelike icicles, and shimmering fairy lights. For good measure, Harry added a few candy canes to the branches and a magnificent silver star to the very top of the tree.
Pleased with his handiwork, Harry gave his wand a little twirl so that the Christmas tree preceded him out of the kitchen as he levitated it into the sitting room.
Draco didn’t look up when Harry re-entered the room. He seemed to be as absorbed in his reading as ever. He did, however, notice Harry’s cough. “What is it?” he asked impatiently, glancing up.
Immediately, the cross look on his face vanished.
Draco’s mouth fell open as he took in the sight of the sparkling Christmas tree and Harry standing next to it, wearing a broad, self-satisfied smirk. At first, his mind refused to comprehend the scene. Surely Potter couldn’t have hidden a bloody Christmas tree under his cloak, it reminded him.
But then Harry sent the blasted thing over to the clear area next to the hearth, and the sight of the firelight glinting off the icicles that decorated the branches confirmed it: this was a real Christmas tree, and Harry was responsible for it.
Abruptly, Draco placed Hogwarts: A History on the table and stood up.
“I Transfigured it,” said Potter amusedly, noticing Draco’s shock. “You said you wanted to – oh, wait.” He pointed his wand at the doorway opening into the hallway and said loudly, “Accio bags!”
The two shopping bags he’d brought with him zoomed into the room and landed at Harry’s feet. Flashing a grin at Draco, he leaned down, rummaged around inside one of the bags, and extracted a square, wrapped parcel, which he placed under the Christmas tree.
“There,” he said happily, stepping back to admire his work.
Draco’s voice finally returned to him. “What in the name of Merlin?” he croaked.
Harry’s grin widened; he now looked positively gleeful. “There’s more.”
Before Draco could start wondering what else Harry could possibly have done, Harry bent over and pulled two large bottles out of the bags at his feet. Draco moved closer and saw that they were bottles of beer.
“How did you get that?” Draco spluttered, gaping. “They don’t sell alcohol –”
“– to regular Hogwarts students. I’m not your average student, though.” Harry waggled his eyebrows. Then, as if he could tell that this bit of information was opening new possibilities to Draco, he added firmly, “But this is just a one-time thing. It’s never happening again. I just bought these so that you could get number four over with.”
“You went all the way to Diagon Alley to buy alcohol, and you couldn’t have gotten something better?” said Draco dubiously. “Beer is for people like Weasley, isn’t it? I would’ve preferred wine or mead – Ogden’s is fine, too, although –”
“Beer,” said Harry bracingly, cutting him off, “is all you’re going to get. I didn’t have enough on me for anything better, and besides, I don’t trust you with anything stronger.”
Draco sighed with resignation. “Then I suppose champagne is out of the question? Even for the holidays?”
Harry frowned severely at him. “Don’t push your luck, Malfoy.”
“But I don’t want to –”
Draco broke off there and bit his lip. He had been about to say that he didn’t want to do it in front of Harry, because Merlin knew what sorts of humiliating things he’d do and say, but he couldn’t think of a way to say it without making things more awkward. So, instead, he mumbled, “You did this for me?”
Harry looked disconcerted by the way Draco had phrased the obvious fact. “Well – yeah. A simple thanks would do, y’know.”
But rather than thanking Harry, Draco reached into the pocket of his robes and pulled out his list. He crouched down next to the table and spread it out flat. Slowly, with his bottom lip between his teeth, he examined it. Then, standing up, he nodded, ignoring the nervous squirming of his insides.
“Okay, let’s get to it, then.”