Just because I need to ramble before every chapter post, I just want to put it out there that I might be in search of another beta. So... y'know, if you're interested, give me a holler. Please read this fic first, though. It's not exactly a masterpiece, and it's far along enough that nothing you do will turn it into one.
Okay, I can't resist. The first challenge is up at ldws, and hd_worldcup posted the fics for The Hierophant today.
Title: Some Kind of Miracle (19/?)
Author: Annie (_pinkchocolate)
Pairings: HP/DM, HP/GW
Disclaimer: I just take JK Rowling's world and make it slashy.
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: ~4,500
Notes: At long, long last, chapter 19 is here! Sorry for the wait; I've been busy with school and H/D World Cup. Many thanks to Vana for beta'ing.
18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 P
A fool to let you slip away
I chase you just to hear you say
You’re scared and that you think that I’m insane
- Maroon 5, “Better That We Break”
Draco had never realised how much he could miss Harry Potter until his primary purpose in life became to forget about him. January dissolved into February, and still Draco’s resolve to live as normal of a life as possible without Harry remained as unyielding as the bitterly cold weather. Having the same timetable as Harry made this difficult, but despite the fact that he still flushed every time Harry shot him a searching look from across the room, Draco’s bruised dignity refused to buckle.
Pull yourself together, Malfoy, it warned him. You’ve done what you set out to do. Now stand up, dust yourself off, and forget about him.
Despite the appeal of this line of reasoning, however, Draco couldn’t stop thinking about how to get Harry to return his feelings. He told himself that he was just trying to cross off number 23, but his unwillingness to target his efforts at someone else suggested otherwise. He had erred by assuming that everything would fall into place once he told Harry how he felt, Draco finally admitted to himself one night. Now he was stuck pining after someone he hated with no escape in sight.
Afraid that he would drive himself insane if he thought about his situation too much, Draco made sure to stay engaged every waking hour. He mostly alternated his time between working on the Felix Felicis and reading Hogwarts: A History, though he did also begin to derive an odd sort of pleasure from doing his homework, leading him to spend increasingly long hours holed up in the library.
No matter how occupied his days were, however, Draco could not distract himself from two glaringly obvious facts: one, Harry had taken to spending a large portion of his public time showering his redheaded bint with affection; and two, the deadline for him to find the Mist Lily was approaching at an alarming rate.
At first, Draco had observed the former with a disgusted sneer. If Harry thought he was proving something by emphasising his heterosexuality in public, it wasn’t working, at least not in Draco’s opinion. But somewhere along the line, contempt had progressed into a sickening feeling in the pit of Draco’s stomach that made him want to either vomit into the nearest receptacle or rip out the Weasley girl’s pretty red locks with his bare hands every time he saw Harry kissing her on the second floor landing or holding hands with her out on the grounds. Troubled by these urges, Draco buried himself deeper in his work.
If he expected to find solace in potion brewing, however, he was sadly mistaken. He had less than a week now to obtain the Mist Lily before all his efforts went to waste, and he was no closer to finding it than he had been two months ago. The thought of the potion bubbling away in the dungeons gave Draco great anxiety. As the days whittled away, he began stealing nervous glances at Harry during class, wondering if the other boy knew anything about the crucial ingredient. Torn between his determination to prove that he didn’t need Harry in his life and his desire to complete the potion, Draco spent his nights mustering up the courage to approach Harry, only to turn and stiffly walk away in the opposite direction upon seeing Harry the next morning.
Then, one cold Friday morning, the chance to recover his failing efforts arrived in the post.
When Harry found a fist-sized flower with pale, translucent petals sitting on his pillow, his first impulse was to get rid of it. That would teach Draco to think twice about ruining everything by being a delusional prat. Then Harry reminded himself that no matter how hostile his feelings towards Draco at the moment were, tossing an extraordinarily rare Potions ingredient out the window would do nobody any good, and decided instead to carefully tuck it away in his trunk and leave it there while he went to go thank Dobby.
When Harry returned, sockless and weighed down by an armful of snacks and sweets, he glanced at his closed trunk, briefly considered opening it, then shook his head and strode past it. A small part of him insisted that holding back from contacting Draco right away was selfish and cruel, but for the most part, the rest of him ignored this nagging voice, citing Draco’s silent refusal to accept Harry’s post-fight offer of assistance as justification for not immediately sending the Mist Lily over. After all, two could play at the game of not giving in first.
For once, however, the rational part of Harry’s brain triumphed over the stubborn part, leading to his spending much of the following night writing and rewriting a note to Draco, the final version of which said thus:
Meet me in the unused Potions classroom at eight on Sunday night if you want your flower.
Upon signing his initials, Harry double checked the short message to make sure it said everything he needed it to say without revealing anything that wasn’t strictly business-related. He had teetered on the edge of adding more to earlier drafts of the note – about how Draco was a moron who didn’t know the first thing about love, about how he didn’t need Draco anyway because he still had Ginny and at least she didn’t roll her eyes at his limited Potions knowledge, about how he missed Draco’s good qualities and bad qualities and wished he would just forget his damn pride and let Harry help him because for fuck’s sake, Harry’s life was pointless without him – but had wound up scratching out these elaborations and tossing them in the fire.
Harry had worked too hard to prove to Ron that he and Draco were merely acquaintances to risk being seen personally giving the note to Draco, so he tucked it under his Transfiguration book, leaving a corner of it protruding so that he would remember to send it the next morning.
The door to the room slammed open just as Harry was climbing into bed. Ron stalked inside, looking murderous. He looked up, noticed Harry, and immediately exclaimed, “Why the hell is Hermione in the library with that arse, Corner?”
Harry looked around, but Dean wasn’t in the room. Taken aback by the fact that Ron was talking to him, Harry said nothing. He was surprised by this new development; over the course of the past month, Ron had slowly lost most of his hostility towards Harry as he was forced to acknowledge that, yes, Harry had kept his promise to stop being friends with Malfoy, but Harry would hardly consider their friendship mended.
“Those two have been spending too much time together lately… If I didn’t know better… But then again, she has been acting a bit dodgy lately…”
Ron’s tirade continued on in such a fashion, gradually dropping in volume until it was no more than an incoherent mumble. Bewildered, Harry cleared his throat. Ron looked at him.
“Er… sorry,” said Harry. “If it helps, I doubt there’s anything between them. I reckon she’s only spending more time in the library because N.E.W.T.s are coming up.”
Ron scowled. “Whatever,” he said, climbing into bed.
“You and Hermione have been through too much together,” Harry pressed on, wanting to take advantage of Ron’s willingness to talk. “She wouldn’t throw that away. Besides, she doesn’t even like Corner. She said he’s become insufferable since Cho moved away.”
“‘Become’? He already was,” Ron grumbled.
Harry grinned, struck by how normal everything felt at that very moment: the lack of second thoughts about Ginny; Ron complaining about Michael Corner; no Malfoy around to cock things up. It was easy, at times like this when it wasn’t obvious how twisted things had become, to forget the war’s impact on all their lives.
“Good night, then,” said Ron gruffly, snapping Harry out of his thoughts.
Harry’s grin widened as he stared up at the dark ceiling, trying to ignore the nagging voice reminding him that Ron wouldn’t be acting so civil if he knew what Harry had spent most of the night doing. “Yeah. Good night.”
When Draco walked into the unused Potions classroom at half past eight on Sunday night, he was almost disappointed to find Harry leaning against the far wall, his chin resting on his chest. He had been hoping that Harry would have left when he didn’t show up at exactly eight. But apparently Draco’s wish to forget about everything that had happened between them wasn’t mutual.
“Not falling asleep, are you, Potter?” said Draco, closing the door behind him.
Across the room, Harry’s head snapped up. He blinked twice and tousled his hair. “Sorry,” he yawned. “Ginny woke me up early today.”
“Oh, now you’re sleeping together?” Draco snorted, forcing down the fierce jealousy that threatened to rise up and grip him. He cautiously approached Harry, remembering that they had parted on bad terms just in time to stop a safe distance away from him. “I do hope you’ve spared Weasley the trauma of discovering his sister in your bed and put up a Silencing Charm.”
“She’s not sleeping in my bed, you arse. She comes to my room every morning to wake me up for breakfast.”
“Sure,” Draco muttered, relieved nonetheless.
“Not that it’s any of your business,” Harry continued, looking embarrassed. He cleared his throat. “Anyway, you’re late. I thought... I didn’t know if you’d come.”
“I don’t have much of a choice, do I?” said Draco, bracing himself for the inevitable jab at his inability to manage on his own.
Harry merely shrugged. “I thought you’d be too stubborn to come.”
“And let everything I’ve carefully planned go to waste? Not likely, Potter, no matter how much you might wish it.”
Harry looked genuinely surprised. “I don’t wish it.”
“Yeah, whatever. Just... give me the lily, and you can be on your merry way.” Draco extended a hand. He wasn’t even curious as to how Harry had managed to get hold of the Mist Lily. It was clear that he was only here to sever his last tie to Draco, and Draco was fine with that... really.
Slowly, Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out a carefully wrapped bundle. Draco reached for it, but Harry snatched it back. “Hang on, I want you to listen to me first.”
“I wasn’t aware that negotiations would be involved in this matter.”
“They’re not.” Contrary to his word, however, Harry kept the flower close to his chest as he continued. “I just wanted to let you know that my offer still stands.”
“That I’m aware of.” Draco jerked his chin impatiently. “Can I have it now?”
“Why won’t you let me help you?” Harry demanded, his fingers tightening around the bundle. Draco eyed it nervously, hoping Harry knew how delicate the petals of the Mist Lily were.
“Because I don’t need your help,” said Draco, wrestling with the impulse to hex Harry into an unconscious state and take the Mist Lily.
“You do,” Harry insisted. “How’re you going to find a thestral to ride if you’re too scared to go into the Forbidden Forest?”
“I’m not scared!”
“What about learning to swim? Who’ll teach you?”
“If I remember correctly, you can’t swim without the aid of a handful of gillyweed,” Draco sneered.
Harry held Draco’s gaze, his green eyes blazing. Draco forced himself to remain unperturbed on the surface, while praying that Harry couldn’t tell that his knees were weakening under that look.
“I found the perfect tree for you to climb during break this morning,” Harry continued softly. “That was the first thought that crossed my mind when I saw it – that I should tell you about it.”
Draco felt a pang pass through him. “Oh,” he said. No, Malfoy, you won’t let him sway you. Think of how he humiliated you. “That – why should I care? It’s not like there aren’t a thousand other trees on the grounds that I could climb.”
“Don’t be difficult, Malfoy,” said Harry in an anguished tone. “I want you to finish your list.” I miss you.
Draco narrowed his eyes. “You weren’t so keen on helping me the last time I saw you.” Prove it.
Harry flushed. “That was different.”
Draco folded his arms. “Say I accept your offer. What would the terms be this time?”
Draco could tell that Harry had been waiting for this. “We do it in private,” he said. “You can’t tell anyone that we’re seeing each other.”
“Is this an affair or a business agreement?” Draco snorted.
“That’s the other thing,” said Harry, turning redder still. “You can’t bring up what you said about being in love with me.”
“Why not?” Draco ventured a few steps closer to Harry, gleefully noting the way the other boy squirmed in discomfort. He lowered his voice so that it captured what he hoped was a seductive tone. “What’s wrong with me being in love with you?”
Apparently Harry saw through Draco’s act, because he glared at Draco and replied, “It doesn’t mean anything.”
Draco raised his eyebrows. “That depends. If we’re going by your unreasonable standards of meaningfulness, then no, I suppose it doesn’t.” It means something to me, though. “Why should that be a problem?”
“Because you obviously don’t understand love if you don’t think it has to mean anything,” Harry growled, “and you can’t be in love if you don’t understand it.”
Draco looked away, unable to think of a response that wouldn’t embarrass himself. “So why should I respect your wishes to keep this thing private when you didn’t respect mine?” he asked, deftly returning to the original subject.
“I’m sorry, all right? It’s just... I couldn’t see at the time why you were so worked up over it.”
“Obviously not. And now I’m supposed to accept your apology and express my sympathy, having been in the situation before... is that right?”
“I don’t want your sympathy, Malfoy. I just want you to let me help you.”
“And it doesn’t bother you that I’m only agreeing to your demands because you’re manipulating me?”
Smiling thinly, Harry held the Mist Lily out. “Not at all.”
Harry sent Draco a note the next day, asking him if he could meet in the unused Potions classroom next Friday. Draco didn’t send back a reply, but Harry didn’t need one to know what the answer was.
“I hate sneaking around,” Harry complained that Friday as he shut the door behind him and pulled off his Invisibility Cloak.
Draco, who was by the cauldron and carefully measuring out a phial of pale green liquid, didn’t look up from his task. “That’s not my problem, Potter,” he muttered.
“I know, I just... it’s not my style. And I hate lying to Ron and Hermione, especially when Ron’s finally talking to me again.”
“You brought it upon yourself,” Draco snapped, his hand trembling slightly. A tiny droplet of the substance he was measuring spilled out of the phial, slid down its length, and pooled on the part of his thumb supporting the glass. He hissed in pain.
In a flash, Harry was by Draco’s side. “Are you okay?” he said, his brow furrowed in concern.
“Take this,” Draco managed to say through teeth bared in pain, thrusting the phial at Harry, who automatically took it. “I just spilled a corrosive substance on my skin, Potter,” he continued as he deftly healed what had darkened into a clear burn mark with his wand. “Do you think I’m okay?”
“What is this?” Harry asked, eyeing the green liquid apprehensively.
“Grindylow blood. Snape came up with the idea to add it to counteract the side effect of giddiness.”
“He told you that?” said Harry, surprised. The image of Snape and Draco sitting in Snape’s office discussing potion brewing over tea suddenly popped into his head, and he had to bite back a laugh.
“No, he showed me.”
Draco took the phial of Grindylow blood back and resumed filling it.
“When did he –?”
“When else would he be brewing Felix Felicis?” Draco interrupted. He met Harry’s gaze over the top of the phial, and the look in his eyes informed Harry that he was venturing too close to the subject of the war and would do well to back off.
So Harry did. More to put some space between him and Draco than anything else, he walked around to the other side of the cauldron before asking, “So when are you going to be finished?”
“Finished what?” Draco muttered as he dumped the Grindylow blood into the cauldron. A thin tendril of smoke rose from the contents, lingering in the air for a few seconds before fading away.
Harry pointed at the cauldron. “This.”
“Why? Is there somewhere else you’d rather be?”
Harry sighed. “I already told you, I want to do this.”
“There’s no reason why you couldn’t have changed your mind since Sunday.”
“Why are you so hell-bent on getting me to back out of this agreement, Malfoy? You’re not invincible. You can’t do everything on your own. Why can’t you accept some help for once?”
Draco's eyes bore into Harry’s. “Have you ever known you were about to die, Potter?”
“As a matter of fact, yes, I have.”
Draco’s eyes widened just the slightest in surprise. Harry could see him struggling to suppress his curiosity. “Then you’ll understand it’s a personal thing,” he said. “Correspondingly, the things you do leading up to your death are just as personal.”
Harry didn’t even need to consider Draco’s words. In his mind’s eye, he saw himself walking into the Forbidden Forest, the ghosts of the ones who had loved him and died for him leading him through the stifling darkness. He swallowed thickly.
“I understand. But why now? You agreed to accept my help when you showed me your list that time in the Hospital Ward. What made you change your mind?”
With a sinking feeling, Harry realised what Draco was trying to say: he no longer trusted Harry. He had laid his feelings, or what he thought were his feelings, bare for Harry, and Harry had thrown them aside. And now Draco was afraid that if he put his hopes in Harry again, they’d only be crushed like the last time.
“I’m going to stick this out, Malfoy,” said Harry. “This... this is different from that.”
All at once, Draco seemed to recollect himself. “Try not to be too specific with your pronouns, will you?” he sneered as he bent to check the potion. “What was the real reason why you asked me when I’d be finished here if it wasn’t because you had something else to attend to?”
“Oh. I was just wondering when we could go outside and give climbing that tree I told you about a shot.”
“Potter, the grounds are covered in ice. Unless you’re planning to murder me and make it look like an accident, there’s no reason for me to go climb a tree today.”
He looked up at Harry, and the hardness in his eyes melted away, leaving the grey irises unnervingly exposed. Harry’s throat tightened. “Stop that,” he said softly.
“Stop what?” Draco snapped, his usual mask of dislike sliding back into place. It seemed he had been unaware of the change in his expression, and for some reason, this made Harry even uneasier. A Draco who manipulated his feelings at will was a Draco Harry could handle, but one whose whole demeanour softened at the sight of Harry was proof of something that Harry didn’t want to acknowledge as truth.
“Nothing,” said Harry. “So, um, are things all set with the potion now that you’ve got the Mist Lily?”
“Potter, I can’t just dump all the ingredients in the cauldron and expect Felix Felicis to magically appear. The brewing is the hardest part.”
“Too bad. I could use some luck right now.”
“Why?” said Draco as he stirred the potion with slow, calculated movements.
“It’s Friday the thirteenth.”
Draco snorted. “Don’t tell me you believe in that superstitious bullshit.”
“Why shouldn’t I?”
“Have you been particularly unlucky today?”
“Exactly.” Draco stopped stirring. “You shouldn’t believe things just because everyone says they’re true. I did, and look where I am now.”
He held Harry’s gaze for a brief moment, then turned to the low table he had set up for himself, picked up a knife, and began chopping ginger roots. Harry shook his head, bewildered by the sudden absence of Draco’s biting tone. He had long since given up trying to predict what Draco would say next in a conversation, but the other boy’s ability to switch between moods so abruptly never failed to flabbergast Harry.
“So, um, are you planning to take your N.E.W.T.s?” Harry asked after a few seconds of watching Draco cut up ginger roots. He regretted the words the moment they left his mouth.
Draco’s chopping hand stilled. “What do you think, Potter?” he said, staring down at his immaculately cut ginger roots as if determined to stare them out of existence.
“It’s still possible to take them,” said Harry quickly, while his better judgment screamed at him to stop talking. “I mean, they’re all at the end of May, you still have time to – if you want to, that is, though I suppose you don’t have much of a reason to...”
He trailed off, feeling like he was nine years old and fumbling for an excuse after being caught watching Dudley’s television again. If Hermione were here, she’d probably throw a fit over his lack of tact, regardless of the fact that Malfoy was the recipient of said tactlessness.
“No,” Draco finally said, breaking the prickly silence that had settled between them. He picked up his knife again and resumed chopping at a slower pace than before.
Harry took that as a sign that they were done for the day and turned to leave.
“Wait, Potter, before you go.” Harry did an about turn. Draco motioned him over. “Hold this” – he handed Harry another phial – “while I measure out a sample.”
Feeling rather useless, Harry stood and held the phial while Draco scooped up a ladleful of the dark, glutinous subject in the cauldron. Then Draco did something unexpected: instead of taking the phial from Harry, he covered Harry’s hand with his, steadying the phial while he carefully poured the potion into it.
Harry’s breath quickened at the innocent skin-to-skin contact. Draco was squinting in concentration at the substance he was transferring, apparently unaware that he and Harry were close enough now that Harry could clearly see, for the first time, the near-invisible smattering of freckles across his nose. The revelation that Draco’s perfect skin was marred by something as common as freckles felt important for reasons Harry couldn’t bring himself to decipher, or even care about, because right now... right now, it would be so easy to close those few inches separating them, to forget about everything just once...
“I’ve got it.” Draco’s voice brought Harry crashing back down to reality. He leapt back, releasing the phial as if it had bitten him. Draco arched an eyebrow at him, eyes dark with amusement. It was unfair, Harry thought dazedly, that he should be so affected by their closeness when Draco was the one supposedly in love with him.
“I need to go,” Harry blurted out.
Draco held the phial up to the light and examined it. He didn’t even look at Harry as he replied, “Fine. Go.”
Harry told himself that it was their lack of progress with the list and not Draco’s nonchalance that made disappointment well up inside of him. “I’ll see you soon,” he said.
He waited a few more seconds, but Draco continued to ignore him as he focused his attention on squeezing bright pink drops of testing solution into the phial of half-finished potion. Sighing, Harry left the room.
The first thing he saw when he stepped into the dark corridor outside was a head of long red hair bobbing down the hallway. “Ginny!” Harry called up, hurrying to catch up with her.
She stopped and turned at the sound of his voice. Under the flickering light of the torches, the smile she gave him looked strained. “Hi Harry. I’m just heading up to the common room.”
Harry returned the smile, hoping none of the guilt he felt showed on his face. His heart raced at the thought of how close he’d been to getting caught with Draco. Ginny could have been right outside the door at the very moment that Draco had closed his hand around Harry’s. Harry shuddered and made a mental note to put up warding spells the next time they met – if they met again, because after the reaction he’d just had to being close to Draco, Harry wasn’t so sure of himself anymore.
“I’ll walk you up,” he said, pushing the thoughts aside. He took Ginny’s hand and gave it a light squeeze. Nothing. Just the tactile feeling of her hand in his, and an absence of the rush a simple touch of Draco’s could induce.
Unable to bear looking into Ginny’s trusting face any longer, Harry kissed the top of her head and started walking.
Draco smiled as the door shut behind Harry. The solution was so painfully obvious that he was almost angry at himself for not seeing it before. He could have figured it out if he had just considered the rumours about Harry’s past relationships. Harry liked to chase, not be chased. All Draco had to do was let him think he was in control of his feelings – and he wouldn’t have to go out of his way to do it. Thanks to Harry’s guilty conscience, Draco could proceed with his new plan of action without compromising the time he spent working on the items on his list. Harry wouldn’t know what hit him until it was too late.
He can consider it payback for what he did to me.
Draco hummed to himself as he gently shook the phial containing the sample of potion. It turned clear instantly – miraculously, he hadn’t managed to screw up yet. For the first time since the night he fixed the Vanishing Cabinet in Hogwarts, Draco felt dizzy with elation.
If things continued to go well, he’d have no regrets when he walked into the execution room in four months’ time.