Anyway, I'm about halfway through chapter 19. I have no definite plans to finish it any time before winter break, though it's very likely that I will. For the moment, though, consider chapter 18 the last one you'll be getting for a while.
Title: Some Kind of Miracle (16/?)
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: 6,187
Notes: Today is this fic's one year anniversary! :) On November 10, 2006, I came up with the plot, wrote the summary, changed the name from Miraculous to Some Kind of Miracle, and started writing it. Here's to our boys finally getting together in the year to come!
As always, thanks to my lovely betas Christine and Vana :)
15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 P
It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance
It’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance
It’s the one who won’t be taken who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live
- Bette Midler, “The Rose”
“Five months,” Draco murmured, staring into the fire. “Five months before my soul gets sucked out of me. It’s funny how we never think these things will happen to us until we have no choice but to face them, isn’t it, Potter?”
Harry raised his eyebrows, unsure as to how to receive this remark. “I suppose…”
Draco seemed to be satisfied with this answer, because he took another swig of beer and fell silent. Harry observed him. It had been a few hours (a glance at his watch told Harry that it was now nearing ten o’clock) since Draco took his first sip of drink, and he had been drinking steadily since. It came as a surprise to Harry, then, that aside from two bright pink spots in his cheeks, the other boy showed no signs of drunkenness yet. His tone was steady, if not slightly more pleasant than usual, and he seemed to be retaining full control over his motor functions.
“Why d’you want to get drunk?” Harry asked, pushing concerns about Draco’s alcohol tolerance out of his mind. He left out the other part of his question: Why would you want to purposely make a fool out of yourself?
“Dunno,” said Draco. He sighed and shifted so that he was lying on his stomach on the couch. “Never done it before… Wanted to see what it was like, I guess.”
“Well?” Harry prompted. “What does it feel like?”
“So far, not much,” said Draco grumpily. “My head feels a bit funny, but that’s it, really.”
Harry snorted, picked up Hogwarts: A History from the table, and began flipping through it. “At least you’re not spilling your deepest, darkest secrets yet.”
He looked up to smirk at Draco, and was surprised to find that the other boy’s light grey irises had darkened to the colour of slate, making his pupils barely noticeable. Slightly unnerved, Harry looked back down at the book.
“How come you’re not having any?” Draco demanded. Harry unwillingly looked up again. Draco looked frustrated. “You bought it, why not indulge yourself?”
“I don’t drink for the sole purpose of getting pissed,” said Harry blandly. He gestured at the bottle of butterbeer sitting on his side of the table. “Butterbeer cuts it for me.”
Draco’s frown deepened. “What if you knew you were going to die tomorrow? Would that change your mind?”
This question startled Harry so much that he accidentally slammed the book on his lap closed. “What?”
“I said, if I told you that you were going to get eaten by the giant squid tomorrow afternoon, would you drink this beer right now?” The query was posed so directly that Harry had a faint suspicion that Draco had been waiting to voice it.
Slowly, Harry sat up a little straighter on his chair. “If I knew I was going to get eaten by the giant squid tomorrow” – he suppressed a laugh – “I wouldn’t be here having this discussion with you.”
“I’d be with Ron and Hermione. And Ginny. And everyone else. I’d want to spend my last moments with the people I love most.”
Draco regarded him blankly. “Lucky you. Wish I had people I love to spend my last moments with…”
A strong feeling of pity rose in Harry. “Oh,” he said quietly. He knew now for sure that Draco was on his way to drunkenness, because he was quite sure a sober Draco would never admit such a thing out loud.
Several more minutes passed in silence, but Harry didn’t feel compelled to do anything about it. Instead, he too stared into the fire, as though the answer to the emotions swirling inside of him lay in the crackling flames.
“I hate my life,” said Draco after a while.
“I hate your life, too,” Harry agreed automatically, and the pity intensified, making it almost unbearable. To his horror, he felt the insides of his eyelids prickle and an odd lump rise in his throat.
Draco swallowed another gulp of beer and flipped around so that he was on his side and facing Harry. “What else would you do if you were going to die tomorrow?”
Harry quickly blinked away his unseen tears. “Dunno,” he said. “Maybe fly around on my Firebolt. Anything that makes me happy, really.” He laced his fingers behind his head. “I wouldn’t make a list, though. I wouldn’t want to plan my last few hours alive.”
“I reckon most people wouldn’t,” said Draco, his tone contemplative. He took another sip of beer; Harry resisted the urge to tell him to stop. “I wouldn’t want to die a virgin.”
“A vir– what?!” Harry spluttered, almost spitting out the butterbeer he’d just swallowed.
“You know what I mean, Potter.”
“No, it’s just that – I thought – you’ve never shagged anyone?” Harry finally managed to stammer.
Draco drew himself up slightly. “Of course not,” he said indignantly, though the effect was rather ruined by the beer he spilt down his sleeve as he pushed himself onto his elbows, “Malfoys don’t make a habit of shagging girls, at least not in school. It’s a useless and, quite frankly, disgusting practice.”
“Then why do you want to do it?” Harry asked matter-of-factly.
“Because… just because.” Draco looked away, as if embarrassed, and then said quietly, “So are you…?”
Confused, Harry furrowed his brows. Then it hit him what Draco was trying to ask. I’m discussing my sex life with Draco Malfoy, he thought, awed at this bizarre realisation.
“Yeah,” he said automatically, wincing at the lie. Well, technically he wasn’t, but… that time with Ginny, he hadn’t exactly been in his right mind…
Draco seemed to read his thoughts. “You’re not, are you?” he said in an almost accusatory tone. When Harry, blushing, shook his head, his eyes widened. “Please don’t tell me it was the female Weasel.”
Harry quickly steered the conversation to safer waters. “But you’ve had a girlfriend, haven’t you? Pansy Parkinson?”
“Yeah, in a way,” said Draco vaguely. He tossed his now-empty bottle of beer away and reached for another one. “We never did anything, though. Mostly talked. It wasn’t so much a relationship as a… I dunno. Partnership. The boys followed me, the girls followed her. Seemed like a good idea at the time for us to be together.”
“Are you having me on?” said Harry, surprised. He had always seen Draco and Pansy as the type of couple who’d be attached at the lips, rather like Ron and Lavender had been. “So you haven’t… you’ve never snogged anyone?”
“No,” said Draco unabashedly. He rolled his eyes at Harry’s shocked expression. “Sorry, but I was too busy fulfilling my duty to the Dark Lord to waste time satisfying my sex drive.”
“I never said anything about a sex drive!” said Harry hotly. He cleared his throat awkwardly. “But, um, you kissed me. At the beginning of the year.”
“Yeah.” Now it was Draco’s turn to blush. “That was… the first time for me.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “Really?” He paused, a grin slowly spreading across his face. “No wonder you were so terrible at it.”
Draco scowled and took another swallow of beer. Coughing, he said, “You should be honoured, you ungrateful bastard.”
Leaning forward, Harry rested his elbows on his knees, bringing his face almost level with Draco’s. Thoughtfully, he asked, “Why’d you choose me? It doesn’t make much sense for your first kiss to be with someone you hate.”
“Didn’t think of it as anything special,” Draco replied, shrugging. “’S just a kiss. You said yourself that your first kiss with Chang didn’t mean anything.”
“How’d you know that?” Harry demanded indignantly.
“Word travels fast.”
Harry gazed at Draco, slowly absorbing this information. “But… I’m not a girl.”
“Finally realised, have you?” said Draco, smirking sloppily.
Harry chewed on his lower lip. “But wouldn’t that mean you’re –?”
“I didn’t think of you as one at the time, okay?” Draco suddenly exploded. “You’re just Harry Potter to me. So no, before you ask, I’m not queer.”
“Okay, okay,” said Harry, holding up his hands, though he still couldn’t decipher Draco’s line of thinking. “Just… never mind.”
Draco hmphed and turned his back to Harry. With a sigh, Harry ran a hand through his hair, adjusted his glasses, and returned to reading Hogwarts: A History, his brain abuzz with other thoughts.
Half an hour slipped by, during which the only sounds that penetrated the silence were those of Draco downing his fifth drink. Finally, he set the bottle down on the table with a loud clunk and announced, rather unsteadily, “I think I’m drunk enough.”
Harry looked up, and Draco caught a flicker of amusement in his green eyes. “Do you?”
“Yeah,” said Draco, squinting. His vision was starting to blur very slightly along the edges, and there was now a vague sense of disconnect between his mind and body. Even as he spoke, his lips had trouble forming the words he wanted to say. “Potty – I mean, Potter, can you hand me my list?”
Harry smirked in a very infuriating manner. “You know,” he said conversationally, as he bent over to pick up the crumpled and stained sheet of parchment from the floor, “most people would take being smashed as an opportunity to go out and do… different things.”
“Oh?” said Draco distractedly. He took the list from Harry (it took him two tries; the first time, he accidentally grabbed Harry’s sleeve), spread it out on the table before him, and pulled out a quill from his pocket. “I’d say spending a night in the Shrieking Shack is different.”
“But it’s not exciting if you’re just sitting there,” Harry pointed out, watching as Draco clumsily tried to cross out each of the items he’d accomplished in the past few days. “Give it here, I’ll do it.”
Draco grudgingly handed the list over and watched as Harry made five even strikes. When Harry gave the parchment back, Draco held it out in front of him and examined the changes made to it.
2. Climb a tree all the way to the top.
3. Ride a Thestral.
5. Hold a civil conversation with a member of each house.
7. Read Hogwarts: A History.
8. Sleep under the stars.
9. Brew Felix Felicis.
10. Conquer my worst fear.
13. Save someone’s life.
14. Skip classes for one day with no excuse.
15. Learn to swim.
17. Watch a sunset and the next morning’s sunrise.
18. Get my ears pierced.
20. Avenge Father’s death.
21. Be a Secret Keeper.
22. Fall in love.
23. Be loved in return.
24. Beat Harry Potter.
25. Witness a miracle.
“I haven’t finished eleven and nineteen, though,” said Draco logically.
Harry laughed. “You’re in the process of doing them.”
“I’m also in the process of doing seven, nine, and twenty-two, but that doesn’t mean I can cross them off, too,” Draco argued.
Harry went very still. “What was that?” he asked, his voice so low that Draco almost didn’t hear him above the pleasant buzzing that now filled his head.
Eyebrows knitted together, Draco mentally rewinded and replayed his last sentence in his head. I’m also in the process of finishing seven, nine, and… Oh, bugger.
“Let me see the list, Malfoy.”
“No,” said Draco quickly, feeling his cheeks heat up. Had he really just admitted that he was falling in love? He hadn’t meant to say that! Where had that even come from? Loudly, with just a bite of hysteria in his voice, he told Harry this.
Harry arched an eyebrow. The expression on his face was inscrutable. “Twenty-two is ‘fall in love’, right?” he said very calmly.
“No,” said Draco again, his pulse quickening. Oh, no, he thought despairingly. This wasn’t good. If Harry found out… But there was no way he’d know, it wasn’t as though he was expecting it… He didn’t have any reason to suspect it, really… And what was “it”, anyway? There was nothing to find out! Draco had no secrets; his tongue had just stumbled on the words… yes, that was it…
“Yes it is, I’m sure of it,” said Harry stubbornly. “Give me the list.”
“No!” said Draco a third time, clenching the list in his palm. “It’s nothing, Potter… really. I’m plastered right now, dunno what I’m saying…”
Harry frowned very severely at him. “Well… okay. Only, I figured you’d tell me if you were in love. It’s not Pansy, is it?”
“It’s no one,” said Draco, in what he hoped was a convincing tone. He wasn’t sure if it was convincing enough; he could hardly tell if what he was speaking was English at all. “Seriously, stop, it’s no big deal. I saw the number and I said it out loud without meaning to…”
Harry shrugged. Apparently the fact that Draco was undeniably inebriated was good enough of an explanation for him. It was true enough – Draco knew he would never have said what he had said under normal circumstances, and was therefore convinced that it meant nothing.
“Don’t think I like being drunk,” Draco muttered.
Harry laughed, and all the awkwardness between them instantly melted away. “You can’t be that drunk if you’re still stringing together coherent sentences. A little tipsy, maybe.”
“I s’pose,” said Draco. The haze in his head was starting to annoy him, and he couldn’t help wishing that he’d never decided to get drunk. “Hey,” he suddenly said, struck by inspiration, “you said earlier that you didn’t want what you bought to go to waste. But if they’re just drinks, why didn’t you take them back with you and share them with Weasel and his girlfriend?”
“Because…” Harry began, looking distinctly uncomfortable. He opened and closed his mouth several times, as if there was a large object lodged in his throat and he was having trouble getting the words he wanted to say past it. At last he said quietly, “Because they would have gone to waste if they didn’t make you happy.”
Harry winced the moment the words left his mouth. He’d done it. Now Draco would probably freak out and accuse him of getting clingy. First his fit over the idea of Draco falling in love with someone, and now this.
It was as he had said: He wanted Draco to be happy. He was quite sure that he now understood why Dumbledore had acted the way he did, except that what he felt for Draco wasn’t love… more like a strange sense of protectiveness. But there was also a dash of pity and obligation in it, and that part bothered Harry. Was Draco right? Was Harry really just doing this because he felt sorry for Draco?
He ventured a look at Draco. The other boy looked mildly confused. When he noticed Harry’s eyes on him, he said, “It’s getting late. Let’s open the presents.” He paused, as if remembering something, and added, “Shit, sorry, I didn’t get you anything.”
Harry sighed in relief. “Yeah, okay, that’s fine.”
He stood up and walked over to the Christmas tree, Draco stumbling after him. They both sat down near the fireplace, where the rough wooden floor was slightly warmer.
“Here,” said Harry almost shyly, as he handed the wrapped parcel he’d brought with him to Draco.
Draco hesitated before taking it. “If I’d known, I would’ve… gotten you something,” he said quietly.
“Somehow I doubt that,” said Harry, chuckling to cover up his nervousness. “It’s all right… go on, open it. You can’t complete number nineteen if you only have the Christmas tree, remember?”
“True,” said Draco, his voice dropping so low that he was almost whispering. To Harry’s dismay, he looked miserable. Torn between asking him what was wrong and not wanting to set off his temper, Harry said nothing.
Draco’s fingers flitted over the wrapping paper, unwrapping it neatly and quickly. When he pulled out the gift – a leather-bound copy of Hogwarts: A History – his eyes widened.
“I inscribed your name on the binding,” said Harry, feeling rather silly now. He turned the book over and pointed at the small, uneven inscription. “Did it earlier today, after we came back. I, er, figured you didn’t want to keep going up to the library to borrow their version… it’s a bit torn up, so I thought… yeah.”
Draco’s mouth twisted into an odd half smirk, half smile. “It’s lovely,” he said.
Harry opened his mouth to reply, but at that very moment, he felt it: something had shifted between them. Without a word, Draco leaned closer to Harry, so close that…
“Malfoy, you’re invading my personal space,” Harry feebly joked.
He lifted a hand, intending to use it to push Draco away. But, perhaps because it was well past midnight and the lack of sleep was beginning to affect Harry’s brain, what happened instead was something entirely different: Rather than stopping at Draco’s shoulder, Harry’s hand wandered higher and tentatively brushed Draco’s white-blond hair. Before he could stop himself, Harry was running his fingers through the soft strands, revelling in the way they slid between his fingers like ribbons of cool water.
Harry was snapped out of his reverie when, in one impressively swift movement for someone who had downed five bottles of beer, Draco caught his wrist and wrenched it away. The air around them suddenly grew heavy and tense. Even the flickering light issuing from the fireplace seemed to dim as Harry raised his eyes to meet Draco’s. He knew, without doubt, that the palpable uncertainty that greeted him there was reflected in his own eyes.
“What is this really, Harry?” Draco asked, his voice low, serious, and entirely slur-free.
The question hung in the air. Without having to be told, Harry knew that by “this”, Draco wasn’t referring to his unexpected gesture, but to everything he hadn’t meant to start when he tipped the vote in McGonagall’s favour. It wasn’t normal, Harry realised, the undercurrent of indefinable feelings that charged this unforeseen bond between them.
Harry closed his eyes and felt Draco’s slow exhalation of breath flutter his lashes. He wracked his mind for a solid answer. Something about obligations and responsibilities, something that would satisfy Draco’s craving for reason.
“I don’t know,” he finally said. He opened his eyes and regarded Draco solemnly. “What do you want it to be?”
Draco’s grip on Harry’s wrist loosened. “Something I can remember,” he half-whispered. “Something I can believe in. And not just because you’re bound to it by your stupid Gryffindor honour.”
“No, not anymore,” said Harry, and it was the truth.
Draco nodded. Harry waited for him to release his wrist, but it never happened. Instead, Draco’s grasp slid down to his hand, so that they were all but holding hands. “I don’t understand,” he said.
“Don’t understand what?” said Harry automatically, gazing down at their joined hands with some perplexity.
“Why this scares me almost as much the future,” he said softly, and before Harry could say a word, Draco tightened his hold on Harry’s hand, leaned forward, and kissed him.
Harry sat, frozen and uncomprehending, as Draco’s lips descended upon his. What felt like an eternity of silence crawled by, during which Harry’s sluggish conscious mind struggled to register the astonishing fact that the mouth pressed against his once again belonged to Draco Malfoy. It wasn’t until Draco’s hands came up to cradle his face that Harry finally came to his senses and forcibly pushed Draco away.
His head swimming for reasons unrelated to the unpleasant taste of alcohol that now lingered on his lips, Harry whispered the first thing that came to mind: “You said you weren’t in love with anyone.”
Draco’s smile was small and forced. “Who said I was in love with you?” he said, his voice breaking. “This doesn’t mean anything, Potter. I don’t want you.”
And then, as if determined to defy his own words, he pushed Harry against the unused sofa and kissed him again.
This time, Harry parted his lips, though it was more out of surprise than anything else. Draco made a soft noise of approval and deepened the kiss, his hands coming up to clutch shakily at Harry’s hair. It was just as awkward as, and yet as different as possible from, their first kiss on the grounds, and Harry thought, with a jolt, He’s never done this before. He’s never kissed anyone like this.
“Stop it, Malfoy,” Harry pleaded, pulling away with great difficulty. He was trembling from nerves, a storm of feelings he wasn’t ready to face, and stirrings of what could have been arousal, but he managed to push Malfoy away for the second time that night. “You’re not thinking straight right now. It’s late and you’ve had a long day. Besides, you’re drunk… you said you weren’t gay –”
“I know what I’m doing,” Draco interrupted, his eyes gleaming bright silver in the dim light. He ran a hand down Harry’s chest and tugged at his jumper, making Harry’s breath catch in his throat. “I’m doing something different and exciting.”
Harry jumped slightly when he felt Draco’s hands lightly caress the skin just under the hem of his shirt. This is it, a voice in the back of his numb mind informed him helpfully, this is what all that tension between us was about… this is why…
But why what he never found out, because at that moment, Draco pulled him forward by the collar of his shirt, bringing their faces within an inch of each other.
“So,” said Draco, his voice a gentle hiss as he brought his free hand down to Harry’s belt buckle, “what do you say?”
He’s using you, Harry, warned the voice, he said it himself… he doesn’t care about you. Tomorrow morning he’s going to wake up and pretend this never happened.
But the feel of Draco’s hands on his skin obliterated any effect these thoughts might have had on Harry. With a lurch somewhere in his stomach region, Harry realised that he had wanted this, had wanted it for so long, though out of desperation or pity or true desire remained unknown to him. His barriers collapsing, Harry reached out to pull Draco closer when, all of a sudden and without warning, the little voice in the back of his mind played its last ace: Ginny.
Harry froze, his hand hovering midway between him and Draco. “Ginny,” he repeated out loud, letting the name slide off his tongue like melting butter. It seemed to reverberate in the air for several long seconds before finally dying away.
Draco’s eyes flickered back and forth between each of Harry’s, as if searching them for a glimpse of the thoughts that were currently making Harry’s head reel. “You don’t want her,” he said, so frankly that Harry almost believed him for an instant.
“I love her,” said Harry, but his voice sounded weak and desperate, even to himself, “and she loves me. I would never betray her… not like this.”
The corners of Draco’s mouth twitched. “How, then?”
“How would you choose to betray her?”
“I wouldn’t!” said Harry fiercely. “Look, I already said –”
“She’s a dirty whore, Potter,” Draco interrupted coldly, the dull pink flush in his cheeks deepening to red. “Have you even got an idea of how many blokes she fucked before you? Let’s see… Hopkins, Corner, Thomas, maybe even Longbottom… Oh, and I know Blaise said he’d never touch a blood traitor like her, but who knows… Always suspected he wouldn’t’ve passed up the chance to shag her up against the nearest –”
“Shut it, Malfoy,” said Harry, his voice shaking from rage.
“What’re you going to do if I don’t?” mocked Draco, the faintest trace of a slur sliding back behind his words. “Gonna curse me? Yeah, you’d like that, wouldn’t you, Potter… No one would ever know… And you could go back to your slut of a girlfriend, tell her that Draco Malfoy tried –”
“SHUT UP!” Harry roared. Two of the empty bottles lying on the floor exploded with considerable force, but Harry paid them no heed. “Don’t talk about Ginny that way!”
Draco sneered, and Harry couldn’t help remembering that those lips had been doing something entirely different just a few minutes ago. He shuddered violently, trying to push the thought out of his head.
“Fine,” Draco said, his grey eyes glittering, “fine, I won’t say any more about her. But remember… by the time you’ve realised that you’re only going out with her because you’ll do anything to worm your way into the Weasley brood, someone else will have fallen in love with me and I won’t need you anymore.”
Harry gaped at Draco, grappling to wrap his mind around these bold words. Never mind the jab at Harry’s intentions behind dating Ginny; what did Draco mean by “someone else will have fallen in love with me”?
At once, Harry felt a sickening stab of jealousy. Jealousy. And not the protective kind this time… the kind that made him resolve to dismember anyone who dared fall in love with Draco, because the job of helping Draco go through his list belonged to Harry, and Harry only.
So he had been wrong earlier. Maybe, just maybe, he did feel some twisted form of affection for Draco… just a little bit. But it was nothing more than an exaggeration of their strange little friendship, a result of spending too much time with one single person. It certainly wasn’t love, like Draco was implying; Harry would never cheat on Ginny. Besides, he was quite positive that he liked girls – though, upon further reflection, he was surprised to find that he was not at all uncomfortable with the idea of being gay, despite having been raised in a homophobic household. It had just never occurred to him as a possibility.
Harry inhaled deeply and counted to five in his head. “Why – why don’t we just go to sleep?” he suggested, his tone one of forced calm, though he was still seething over Draco’s cruel comments and wracked with confusion over everything else. “It’s nearly midnight, and I’ve got to leave early tomorrow morning.”
Draco shrugged noncommittally. All of his earlier malice seemed to have drained out of him as quickly as it had come. Harry vaguely recalled Tonks saying something about how drinking either brought out the best or the worst in a person. He couldn’t help but feel that in Draco’s case, it brought out both the best and the worst. In a way, it was frightening, how quickly the other boy’s moods had switched.
“Er – so do you want to sleep here?” asked Harry tentatively. “Or… I suppose we could use the beds, but I reckon no one’s used those for a while, so they must be –”
“Here,” Draco interrupted, “I’ll sleep here, by the fire.”
He nodded at the heap of blankets lying near the secret entranceway, and Harry flicked his wand in their direction, causing them to zoom over and land on his lap. He tossed one to Draco.
Harry watched distractedly as Draco got to his feet, rather unsteadily, and walked over to the sofa. Angry though he was with Draco, he did not remark on the fact that Draco had selfishly left him to sleep on one of the chairs.
“You can go sleep on one of the beds or whatever,” muttered Draco, once he had stretched himself out on the sofa and tugged the blanket up to his chin, so that he looked like a drowsy child. “Just… do me a favour and stay here for a while longer, will you? Zabini used to say that Dementors haunted this place… and seeing as you’re the one with the wand…”
Draco trailed off, his face now visibly sheet-white beneath the rosy glow cast by the dying firelight; it was as if the thought alone of Dementors was enough to drain him of happiness. For a fleeting moment, Harry contemplated purposely leaving the room just to teach Draco a lesson about badmouthing Ginny, but this idea was chased away by feelings of guilt almost instantly. Draco, for all his spite, had willingly given up his wand and let Harry lead him away from the safety of the school; how could Harry betray his trust now, when he looked so terrified? Sure, Harry knew that Dementors were no more likely to show up here at the Shrieking Shack than at the Ministry now that the war was over, but all the same…
“Yeah, okay,” Harry sighed, not bothering to correct Draco’s irrational fear. He got up and moved over to the comfier looking of the two chairs, Vanishing the empty bottles and broken glass littering the floor with a sweep of his wand as he went. Settling down under the warm blanket, Harry said quietly, “Happy Christmas, Malfoy.”
Draco’s eyes shone silver again as they blearily fixed themselves on Harry’s face. “It’s past midnight,” he said softly.
Harry looked away and said nothing.
The night stretched on as the sound of Draco’s slowly deepening breaths, underscored by the faint howling of the wind outside, filled the room. Harry sighed and pulled his blanket tighter around him. As he stared unseeingly into the flickering flames in the grate, it occurred to him how strangely disconnected he felt from the life that lay outside the shuddering walls around him at the moment. Locked up in this little shack, it seemed incomprehensible to Harry that there was another world out there… a world in which Sirius, Dumbledore, the Weasleys, and so many of his close friends no longer existed; a world in which Draco Malfoy was not a regular teenage boy like Harry, but a convicted Death Eater sentenced to the Dementor’s Kiss. It felt like several days, rather than mere hours, had passed since their visit to Azkaban…
Harry sighed again. His mind wandered, as usual, to thoughts of Draco; or, more specifically, their earlier conversation, out of which he had emerged not entirely convinced. He was sure that Draco had lied when he had said that he wasn’t in love with anyone, and… well, it wasn’t as though he was on friendly terms with anyone other than Harry at the moment… Could it be that Draco was in love with him after all? Harry’s heart gave a traitorous little flutter at the thought, driving him to throw his glasses on the table before him in frustration and bury his face in his hands.
Harry searched his mind for a memory, any memory, which might give him a clue as to why he suddenly felt this way about Draco. When had Draco ever done anything to warrant Harry’s attraction to him? He had never been anything but cold and sarcastic to Harry. But then again, since their return to Hogwarts, he had showed a kind of vulnerability that Harry would never have expected from him… And there was no doubt that there was intelligence and wit under all his petty insults… And then there was the air of stubborn independence around him that intrigued Harry and reminded him, in many ways, of Ginny…
Ginny. Ginny was his girlfriend; surely thinking this way about Draco constituted cheating on her. Miserably, Harry rested his chin on his knees and tried to think about Ginny: the way the sunlight glinted off her long curtain of red hair whenever she turned her head, the way her warm brown eyes lit up fervently at the mention of Quidditch, the way her laugh seemed to bring life and excitement to the very air around her…
But it was no use; red morphed into white-blond and brown into light grey, so that Draco’s pale, sharp features once again occupied Harry’s mind. It was like an infuriating circle of thoughts that Harry couldn’t break out of.
Biting his lip to stifle a groan of aggravation, Harry finally allowed himself to look at Draco. Against his will, a small sigh escaped his lips at the sight of the other boy’s peaceful slumbering form. It seemed almost absurd that someone whose cheeks flushed so delicately in sleep could have committed murder and dabbled in the Dark Arts.
Would things have been different, wondered Harry silently, if Draco had been born into a family like the Weasleys? Would it have been okay to… feel this way about him?
With great difficulty, Harry pulled himself out of these thoughts. It would not do to linger over could-have-beens. The Draco that was sleeping serenely a few feet away from Harry would rather slit his throat than be raised by Ron’s parents. Besides, even if Draco had never entered Voldemort’s service, there was still the very undeniable fact that Harry was attracted to the opposite sex.
With a great yawn, Harry burrowed deeper into the blanket wrapped around him and rested his head on his shoulder. Within moments, he had fallen asleep.
He was walking down a narrow forest path, his eyes fixed on the shining silver doe leading him deeper into the dark wilderness before him. Something just off the path rustled, but Harry didn’t start; he knew nothing would harm him while he was in the company of Snape’s Patronus. He trusted it completely, but even so… they had been walking for a long time now, and Harry was beginning to wonder where the creature was leading him…
Just when Harry was about to ask the doe where they were going, she halted and turned around, fixing her beautiful, luminous eyes on him. For several long seconds, they gazed at each other solemnly. And then, without warning, she blinked and transformed into her master.
Harry instinctively reached for his wand, but it was not there. Panicking, he groped around in his pocket, but it was gone. Trepidation replaced his earlier serenity, and he said loudly to Severus Snape, “What’re you doing here?”
“Peace, Potter, I’m not here to harm you,” Snape sneered, holding up a hand. He was glowing just as brightly as his Patronus had done moments ago. “I came to tell you to watch over him… Don’t let him push you away; he needs you, now more than ever… I made the mistake of letting prejudices get in the way –”
“Who’s ‘he’?” Harry demanded, cutting Snape off.
Snape’s thin lips curled. “I loved your mother…” he whispered.
And then his cold, black pupils contracted into red, snake-like slits, and Voldemort’s voice hissed, “Did you hear that, Potter? He loved your mother… your worthless, Muggle-born mother… your mother…”
Harry jolted awake, Voldemort’s voice still echoing in his ears, refusing to fade away – and then, with a shock as jarring as being doused with ice water, Harry realised that it Draco’s voice, not Voldemort’s, that was calling out for his mother.
Scrambling into a sitting position, Harry peered over at Draco’s sleeping form. His heart twisted unpleasantly when he saw that there were tear drops glistening at the corners of Draco’s eyes. Even as Harry watched, they slid down Draco’s pale cheeks, leaving thin, winding rivulets that glistened in the flickering firelight in their wake. He was reminded quite vividly of the instance in sixth year, when he had accidentally caught Draco crying in the boys’ bathroom.
Harry gripped the armrests of his seat, his fingers digging into the soft material. There was an uncomfortable crick in his neck, a result of the awkward position in which he had fallen asleep, but he hardly noticed it as he debated whether or not to wake Draco up.
“Mother…” whispered Draco again, his lips barely moving as silent tears slid down his face, “no, please don’t tell her… Mother, forgive me…”
Then, just when Harry had decided that he couldn’t bear to watch Draco suffer any longer – for it was clear that whatever he was dreaming of was causing him considerable pain – Draco gave a great, shuddering gasp, rolled over so that his back was to Harry, and fell back to his deep, even breathing.
It took several stunned minutes for Harry to realise that he was trembling. Why, he wasn’t quite sure – he had seen many people caught in the throes of worse forms of torture than a nightmare. Exhaling shakily, he settled back into a semi-comfortable position in his chair. Try as he might, though, he couldn’t fall asleep. He remained wide awake for several more hours, staring blankly into the dying fire and wondering if Draco was suffering on levels that he, Harry, couldn’t even begin to fathom…
A/N: The “I hate my life / I hate your life, too” line is from one of my favourite movies, Boys Don’t Cry.