He wakes up.
Had he been asleep? For a moment, he can't quite remember. He flounders in his bed – his bed? He's in a bed – his bed. Not just any bed, his childhood bed, with the jade green comforter and white sheets. And this is his childhood room, complete with Hollyhead Harpies poster and cluttered desk.
There's sunlight streaming through the open window – it's summer, by the sounds and the lush, green Wiltshire vista.
He looks down at himself. He had half-expected himself to be in pajamas, but he's not. He's in a pinstripe vest, white Oxford shirt, and pleated pants, the same outfit he'd put on when he set out for—
—for the mission, the mission to the impossible moon.
Memories come rushing back rapid fire. A moment ago he had been on a moon orbiting a black hole. How had he gotten to his childhood room? Had the gate taken him back in time somehow?
He pushes off the covers and explores the area. It certainly feels like his childhood room. Everything seems fairly solid – the wood of the desk, the cool gray wallpaper. If this is some sort of virtual reality dreamworld, it's a very realistic one.
He turns the knob on the door and exits. He looks to the left, toward his parents' room – nothing. He looks to the right towards the stairs—
"Draco, there you are. Finally awake?"
Draco nearly falls over when he sees Lucius Malfoy coming up the hall, like a ghost of his distant past.
Is it even possible? Could he really be back in time, back to before his father died? Draco is all at once overwhelmed, completely unsure how to feel or what to think or contemplate how it's even possible – but in any case, he does not have the time, because his father – or whatever is passing for his father – is not done speaking.
"You received an owl."
He stops across from Draco, holds the letter up. The envelope is open, starch white printer paper instead of yellowish parchment, and Draco suddenly remembers – that's a Muggle envelope, written on notebook paper.
"It's from Blaise Zabini," his father continues when Draco remains silent.
He remembers this conversation. With brutal clarity, he remembers it. Remembers the strange, thin white paper, remembers the odd blue lines on the paper, but most of all he remembers—
—most of all, he remembers that. This was the day his father told him not to associate himself with the likes of Blaise Zabini.
"What…" Draco begins, but he can't find his voice.
"I must say, Draco, that your choice of cohorts has been slipping. I had thought that we might raise you better than this."
"Father, is that really you?" Draco asks him, but he continues on as though he hadn't heard.
"Perhaps the subtleties of the power dynamics at play here are lost on you, Draco, so I will forgive this minor indiscretion," he says, closing the rest of the distance between them and slapping the letter against his shoulder, "but let me be perfectly clear: a visible, powerful family like ours must not be seen associating with the undesirables."
He knows this speech. It was burned into his memory. And even though Draco had been raised his whole life steeped in the bigoted vitriol out of which it spawned, this was the first time he had been forced to confront the reality of it, instead of the broad, theoretical implications. Muggles were bad. Muggle-Borns were bad. This was the first time that meant anything to him.
"I expect that you will not respond to Mr. Zabini," his father says, and Draco feels that terrible twist of anger and shame and resentment and confusion, like he is still eleven years old and still struggling to contextualize systemic oppression and why it meant he couldn't talk to Blaise.
His father leaves him standing silent in the hallway. The letter flutters to the ground. Draco remembers Blaise asking if he was going to come to London and whether or not he wanted to go to that ice cream shop Blaise mentioned. Draco would never respond.
And then, Draco is somewhere else.
Harry is on the Hogwarts Express, which seems strange, since just a few moments ago he'd been on a moon orbiting a black hole.
Ron is sitting across from him, talking animatedly about Quidditch. And he's small. God, he's small. Half the size in all three directions. Harry stares at him in astonishment and, as he tries to pin down what exactly is going on, the compartment door opens.
"Is it true?"
Harry turns. It's Draco Malfoy, just as small, and just as pale as in his memory, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle on either side."They're saying all down the train that Harry Potter's in this compartment. So it's you, is it?"
Harry suddenly know where he is – or to be more specific, when he is. This is his very first train ride to Hogwarts. Not that Harry isn't used to time travel by now – far from it – but rather, he's not used to time travel quite this personal. After everything that's happened to him, seeing Draco Malfoy so small and fragile-looking is strange.
Harry notices a certain vulnerability on his face that he certainly hadn't seen when he was eleven years old. In the hindsight of a distant past, he remembers venom in every word, but he doesn't hear it now. Draco is looking at him with open curiosity.
"What the hell is going on," Harry says, but Draco responds as if he'd said 'yes.'
"Oh, this is Crabbe and this is Goyle. And my name's Malfoy, Draco Malfoy."
He steps in front of Harry. Harry remembers this moment with picture-perfect clarity. He remembers the immediate, intense dislike. The je ne sais quoi in Malfoy's speech or countenance or affect that had so quickly made Harry decide that he was awful. Harry still feels it, nagging in the back of his throat, even though he's not seeing any of the haughtiness anymore.
Ron sniggers. Draco turns to him, and all at once the hackles raise. And even though logically Harry can't blame him for being a little self-conscious about a weird name like 'Malfoy,' he finds his defensiveness exactly as grating as he did when he was eleven.
"Think my name's funny, do you?" he asks, and Harry sees him sneer. The expression does not look natural on Draco's face. "No need to ask who you are. My father told me all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford."
"What the hell is going on," Harry repeats, since apparently they can't hear him.
Draco turns back to him. "You'll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort."
He holds out his hand. Harry stares at it in silent astonishment.
"I can help you there."
Harry feels tangled, a messy conflict of emotions. Had his intense and kneejerk dislike for Malfoy gone back this far? Had it been something more.
"Then I told you to fuck off," Harry says. "And you said…"
"I'd be careful if I were you, Potter. Unless you're a bit politer you'll go the same way as your parents."
And that was a vicious comment, so at odds with the open curiosity Harry had seen when he first stepped into the compartment. Harry suddenly wonders if the same force making Harry intensely dislike Draco had done the exact same to him.
"They didn't know what was good for them, either. You hang around with riffraff like the Weasleys and that Hagrid, and it'll rub off on you."
Crabbe and Goyle both look at him. They seem surprised. Harry wonders why he never noticed before.
Harry remembers the rest before it happens. Ron's threats, Draco's sneering, the candy theft, the brawl. Watching it as a grown man causes a strange and painful combination of nostalgia and embarrassment and pain. If only his eleven-year-old self knew how very little words would mean later.
And then, Harry is somewhere else.
Draco is in St. Mungo's and if looks could kill he would be bleeding on the marble floor. Every person in the waiting room is glaring at him, as though hoping that the heat of their anger might literally set him on fire.
Beside him, bowed over and weeping softly, is his mother. Her hair is tangled, her dress sagging off one shoulder. She looks frail, like she's close to collapsing.
Draco feels very cold. He knows where he is, and he cannot think of a single place in the universe he would less like to be.
In his pocket, his phone vibrates. At some point he must have put it on silent. He fumbles for it.
"Draco," his mother whispers hoarsely, and it has been so long since he's heard her voice that he nearly weeps at the sound of it. "Draco, how could this have happened…?"
His hands are shaking. Since apparently no one can hear him, he doesn't bother answering. The screen of his phone reads "TARDIS CALLING," and he slides to unlock. "Doctor?"
"Draco! Where are you?"
"I – I'm—"
"How could he have done this to us?"
"I don't know," Draco says, not sure who he's addressing.
"Do you hear anything?" the Doctor asks. "See anything?"
"I see my mother," he answers haltingly. "It looks… it looks like St. Mungo's, when…"
"St. Mungo's?" the Doctor repeats, baffled. "Why would a great bloody gateway on a rock orbiting a black hole take you to St. Mungo's?"
"It didn't – I don't think it's really St. Mungo's, Doctor. I think this is – this must be something else, I think it's making me relive memories."
Right on cue, the double doors leading into the trauma ward open. His mother leaps to her feet and she rushes to the side of the doctor who emerges, but he looks at her like one might eye a crushed bug on the sole of one's shoe. Draco grips his phone a little harder, and he remembers wondering if he would ever be treated civilly in public again.
"Doctor," Draco says.
"Doctor," Narcissa begs, "what news?"
"I'm reliving the day my father killed himself."
"There was nothing we could have done," he says, and Draco watches – he can't not watch – as all the lines on his mother's face fall apart, and she collapses.
And even though it's not real – it must not be real, it can't be real – he dives to catch her, and she feels real in his arms.
"Mother," he says, eyes burning, but she doesn't answer; she's already unconscious, and Draco knows he'll never hear her voice again. "Mother!"
"Nurse," says the attending mediwizard, "let's get Mrs. Malfoy a bed."
And it's stupid, and it's foolish, and it's pointless, but he feels the same betrayal. Ten years of silence, of motionless stupor, ten years of not responding to her only son's voice as he sobbed and begged her for an answer, all knotted up into one terrible moment of anger and heartbreak.
He hears a distant, tinny voice from behind him. He realizes that he dropped his phone. He hears the mediwizard talk about arrangements with a funeral home and the police and he scrambles away, to grab the phone from the floor. "Doctor."
"Draco! What's going on? You're reliving your memories?"
"Yes," he sobs, and he means not to cry, but he does anyway. "Doctor, yes. What's going on? Where am I? Why is the singer doing this to me?"
"I don't know," the Doctor says. "I'm sorry, I – I need to call Harry, I need to see what he's doing. I'll call you back. Hang on!"
The Doctor's call ends. Draco is left staring at his mother as the nurses carry her away, left sitting in the middle of the floor in a room full of hateful whispers and distrustful stares, left with the familiar tangle of self-hatred and emptiness.
And then Harry is in a cellar. Or at least it looks like a cellar. For a moment, he feels like he can't be sure.
But the longer he looks, the more familiar it is. And as he struggles to remember where he's seen this particular color of stone, where he's seen that stairway, there's a groaning of steel that floods light into the dark half of the room behind him.
It's Draco Malfoy again, about sixteen this time, looking scared and unsure, looking past him. Harry turns and—
"Hello again, Draco."
This is the dungeon beneath the Malfoy Manor, Harry suddenly realizes. It had been burned into his memory long ago. Draco is standing at the top of the stairs, walking down, shrouded in shadow.
Luna is – oh, God – Luna is chained to the wall. She looks like she'e been beaten within an inch of her life, and Harry can smell the residue of Dark Magic, now that he's looking for it. He knew that Luna had been held captive in the Manor, but he never imagined – he never wanted to picture—
"I don't suppose you have good news." Luna's voice is high and thin, but weak, almost fading. Harry's chest aches. He wants to go to her and fix it and heal her wounds. He looks to Draco. What's he doing here? Why isn't he helping her?
His phone rings in his pocket and Harry jumps. He fumbles for it – "TARDIS CALLING."
"Harry! Where are you?"
Draco comes down the steps. He looks sixteen and he is wearing a face of cold impassiveness. He stares at Luna like the very concept of her – her, in his cellar, chained to a wall – is uncomfortable. Harry fights down the kneejerk anger.
"I"m not really sure."
"Draco says he's trapped in his own memories, reliving them. Is that what's happening to you?"
"I thought so at first," Harry answers, "but now I'm in something I've never experienced before."
"What is it?"
"You must stop doing this, Draco," Luna says faintly.
"I don't know," Harry answers. "It's during the War. In the cellar of the Malfoy Manor, I think. Draco's here – or a projection of Draco, or something. And Luna is – she's asking for help, but he's not—"
"So it's not a memory," the Doctor says.
"No, I've never seen this before."
He hears the crackle of the Doctor's sigh. Harry turns away, unwilling to watch Luna in such pain, unwilling to look at what Draco will do to her.
"You must stop," Luna says, "or you'll break yourself."
"I think Draco's about to torture her," Harry says softly.
"Why would the singer show you that?" Draco asks.
"I don't know."
"Please, Draco, you'll break."
Luna screams. Harry's entire body shudders, heel to head. It's a scream he's become far too familiar with over the years. It's the scream that the Cruciatus Curse rips out of you.
"Jesus," Harry whispers, "he is, he's fucking torturing her. Did he – Doctor, did he torture Luna?"
"That's really not the most pressing question, Harry," the Doctor says. "Try not to think about it. We don't know what this singer wants from either of you yet."
Trying not to think of one of his dearest friends being tortured while she is screaming behind him seems to be impossible – and it is, apparently, because Harry turns right back around and watches in anger and horror and nausea as Draco, shrouded, stands over her, as she writhes and wails and sobs in agony. Harry never knew. He only had broad strokes and impressions of what Draco had done during the war, but he never knew, he never imagined…
"Doctor," Harry says.
"I need to call you back," the Doctor says, and hangs up.
"All power to forward shields!" Kirk says the moment they come racing onto the bridge.
"Shields up!" Chekov echoes, less than a second before – boom – the entire ship rocks to ones side. Kirk
"What the hell was that?" Uhura demands loudly from the side.
"An army of rock-people," Kirk says, loudly. "It's a long explanation, okay?"
"Shields at 82%, Captain," Chekov says.
"Fire proton cannons on my mark. Spock, run analytics on this army; I want to know what they are."
"And get Scotty to take another pass at that black hole, we need to know what—"
Boom, the ship rocks again.
"They're – they are literally bombarding the ship, Captain," Chekov says. "They're throwing themselves against the side – there are millions!"
"It's primitive, but it works."
"Brace for impact!" Chekov shouts, but no one braces in time.
Draco is in a bathroom at Hogwarts. He is staring into a mirror at his sixteen-year-old self, weak and pale and trembling, who in turn is staring down at the sink. Draco's eyes follow his gaze, even though he knows what is there.
Small and thin and black with a rubber stopper. Nightshade essence. The most potent poison known within the real of magic. One drop, unconsciousness; two drops, coma; three drops, death. He memorized that little warning label, memorized the worn rubber of the stopper, memorized the sickly-sweet smell when he stole it from Professor Snape's store.
"Draco, no," Myrtle says behind him, and Draco shuts his eyes.
Why is the singer doing this. Why this. Why every worst part of his life.
"Wouldn't it – wouldn't it be better this way?"
Draco does not need to look to know that his sixteen-year-old self is sobbing. This was the first time he considered killing himself, and it would not be the last.
"Wouldn't it hurt less – less than whatever he'd do to me?"
"Draco, there's always another way."
He didn't believe Myrtle then, and so many years later he still does not. What would a ghost know about living, anyway? And what would it know about pain?
"You remember what happens next."
Draco looks sharply, but his vision is blurred. He realizes, somewhat belatedly, that he is crying. His reflection is not.
"He comes in," the reflection says, and it is his voice – or his sixteen-year-old voice, at least – with his spiteful, condescending edge, "and he cuts you open, and you are so glad that someone did it for you that you cry."
"Who are you?" Draco asks his reflection.
"What sort of a man asks his own reflection who he is? That man must be the most foolish man alive."
Draco shuts his mouth tightly.
"You almost thanked him," his reflection said. "You almost used your dying breath to thank him. Maybe you would have, if Professor Snape hadn't come in when he did. You hate yourself so much that you'd thank the man who cut you open while you lie bleeding at his feet."
"Stop," Draco says, voice breaking. "Why are you doing this?"
"That is a question wrongly asked," his reflection answers. "The question is not why I am doing this. The question is why you are still doing this to yourself."
Draco's fingers curl around the edge of the sink. He is sixteen and on the verge of suicide. He is seventeen and torturing Muggles with a wand that won't stop shaking. He is twenty and burying his father. He is twenty-four and shouting at a mother who does not hear him. He is all of those things at once, and he is falling apart.
"But then, you know the answer to that question, don't you?" his reflection asks. "You have always known the answer. You do this to yourself because you know that after everything you've done, you deserve it."
The words don't sting so much as they ache – slowly at first, and then with gradually increasing intensity. Draco's breath catches, and his shoulders shake.
"All those trips around the universe," his reflection says callously, "all those planets and people you've helped to save – when will it be enough to make up for it? How many lives do you need to rescue until the scale balances against all those you tortured and let die?"
"Stop," Draco says again, crumbling forward over the sink.
"You struggle and struggle to try to make it better, but it's never better. It will never be better. There is no penance for your atrocities!"
"Stop!" he shouts, and behind him, a lamp shatters.
Draco spins, and Harry is there – goofy, lanky, sixteen-year-old Harry – wand out, and they are dueling. Hexes fly, and Myrtle shrieks.
"No!" she screams. "No! Stop it! Stop! Stop!"
Draco remembers this. He remembers trying to cast the Cruciatus curse, as if it would have worked, as if there was ever enough hatred or anger or anything in him to really use it, but Harry beats him to the punch—
—and he feels that sting, that hot wetness on his chest, and he falls onto the bathroom floor, still grateful. And when he expects to see Harry looming over him, he only sees his sixteen-year-old self, just as bloody as him.
"You want this," his sixteen-year-old self says to him, and he is right. Draco bleeds and burns and pulses and then he is somewhere else.
"Doctor!" Kirk's voice is tinny over the aging TARDIS speakers. "Does that ship of yours have firepower, because we could—"
The speaker fizzles as it tries to cope with the volume of the sound that follows. The Doctor waits for it to settle and spins the crank that drags him closer to the black hole. The TARDIS rocks and wails in protest.
"The TARDIS doesn't have any weapons," the Doctor answers once he can be heard. He spins the monitor around. He has a view right into the bridge of the Enterprise, where he can see the crew scrambling around and struggling to maintain the shields. "Besides the 17th century cannon, of course, but I don't think that will be of much use."
"We can't keep this up, Doctor!" Kirk says. "These are tiny fucking targets, they're only a few meters long each, and they aren't grouped together—"
"Just a little bit longer," the Doctor assures him. "I'm going to try and talk to the black hole."
"You're going to what?"
"Listen, Captain, this is very important. Tell your engineer – the smart one, the quantum physicist – tell him that he needs to calculate the inverse of the gravitational pull from the center of the black hole, or if he can't get readings that close, from the event horizon, and to extrapolate from there. Tell him to get that number as soon as he can; it's very important."
"Can we please fucking talk about how you just said you wanted to speak to a black hole?"
"No time! I'll see you again in a moment, Captain!"
He flips the screen off halfway through Kirk's pained Doctor and returns his attention to steering – such that it is, around a supermassive black hole. Navigating around a black hole is always tricky, not because of the gravity, which the TARDIS is more than capable of handling, but because of the way space-time distorts near the event horizon. Everything goes a bit fuzzy and the controls are never quite right.
He eventually finds the sweet spot, meters from where the singularity should be, and he hurries to the doors. He throws them open and they are very nearly ripped from their hinges.
He is met with a wall of pure and eclipsing blackness His clothes pull forward on his body, and he holds on with both hands to the sides of the door.
"Hullo!" he says, and the sounds are absolutely echoless, swallowed almost immediately by the oppressive dark. "Hullo, am I addressing the Singer?"
For a moment, there's no answer.
"Look, I know this is a long shot," the Doctor says, "but you've showed a nontrivial amount of sentience! If you want to communicate with me, you should be able to!"
Still, no answer. The Doctor wets his lips.
"I don't want to be rude or anything," the Doctor continues, "but I am eating up rather a lot of the TARDIS's processing power trying to shield myself from the massive amounts of anduen energy you're expelling, so I really haven't got all day—"
I KNOW YOUR ESSENCE.
It's not really a voice, not in the proper sense. Which is to say that there's no air moving through vocal chords and bouncing through air molecules to reach the Doctor's ears. The Doctor doesn't even really hear it in the mechanical sense, it just sort of is in a way similar to the way he comprehends spoken language.
"Oh," the Doctor says. "Do you?"
YOU MEAN TO COME FOR THEM.
"Well, yes. Generally speaking. Where are they, if I may ask?"
There's another not-sound. Not laughter, but the implication of laughter.
FAR FROM YOUR REACH, TIME LORD.
"I wouldn't bet on that," the Doctor answers. "My reach is not inconsiderable."
THEY WILL BE CONSUMED.
The Doctor frowns at the wall of black in front of him. "They will be?" he asks. "If that was your goal all along, why wait?"
ALL THEIR LIVES, THEY HAVE WAXED AND WANED, UNKNOWABLE POTENTIAL IN THE FLUCTUATIONS OF THEIR MUTUAL ENERGIES. I WILL BRING OUT THEIR INEVITABLE CLIMAX AND CONSUME IT WHOLE.
The Doctor stares uncomprehendingly into the darkness. "What inevitable climax? How can two people be—?"
THEIRS IS AN IMMEASURABLE ENERGY. ONCE CONSUMED, NO CORNER OF THE UNIVERSE WILL BE BEYOND MY REACH.
But the Doctor isn't really listening anymore. He stares out into the heart of a black hole and struggles to put together the abstract, discreet pieces.
AND MY SONG WILL REACH ALL CORNERS OF EXISTENCE, AND ALL WILL FALL. EVEN YOU, TIME LORD.
The Doctor remains silent. After a moment, he crosses back toward the TARDIS console, ignoring the tug of warping space-time.
IT HAS ALREADY BEGUN.
"This will backfire," the Doctor says. "You're overlooking one very important part, one that will bring down all your plans."
THAT MUST BE A COMFORTING THOUGHT.
The Doctor flips a crank upward and the TARDIS doors snap shut. And even though he knows he should call back the Enterprise, there is suddenly a higher priority.
Draco, torturing Muggles.
Draco, standing by at executions.
Draco, taking the Dark Mark.
Draco, kneeling to him. Kissing his ring.
Harry, burning with growing rage.
Draco, heavy with impossible grief.
Harry does not understand why this is so hard for him to watch. The War was so long ago. Harry had left it all behind him.
But as he is dragged through instance after instance, he feels like the angry, hurting teenager all over again. All the broader questions – why is he here, why is he being shown this – begin to fade away, and there is a buzzing in his head that slowly takes over with questions of its own – why would Draco do this, how many crimes has he committed that Harry never knew about?
And then, at some point when the shaking in his shoulders is at its worst, Harry is in the TARDIS again, in the back room. He watches himself, pinning Draco down to the narrow twin bed, fucking him, and it's so different from everything else Harry's seen that for a moment he is nearly – nearly – startled out of his anger.
"Oh, you remember this."
Harry turns. It's himself talking to him, which is a strange enough experience in itself.
"Who are you?" Harry asks.
"Stupid question, don't you think?"
Draco yelps and arcs his back off the bed, apparently oblivious to their conversation, his fingernails scrabbling at his doppleganger's shoulders. Harry watches, finding arousal very difficult after he'd just watched Draco torture three Muggles in a row.
"You remember this," his doppleganger says, gnashing his teeth along the curve of his jaw. "You remember his responsiveness, the heat of his body. It was good, wasn't it?"
Harry doesn't answer. The rage is building again in his chest.
"You also remember how quickly it went bad."
You should have asked for help, Harry's own voice rings in his ear. I could have pulled some strings and gotten your mother admitted.
I don't need your charity, Potter, Draco's voice snaps back. Not then, not now, not ever.
I'm just trying to—
I'm not interested.
"Moments like that," his dopplenganger says, as Draco gasps and moans and bucks into his thrusts, "it makes you wonder if he's even really changed."
You were ready enough to accept Dr. Lecter's help!
That's because I like Dr. Lecter.
"Still spiteful, still obstinate, still crass. He talks a good game, but when you strip it all away, he is still the person who tortures Muggles and kisses Voldemort's ring."
Talking about it seems redundant at this point. We were both in a vulnerable position emotionally, we were angry, and in the heat of the anger and frustration and emotional catharsis, we had sex. Nothing meaningful has changed, apart from that one time I had your cock inside of me.
"You dreamed about fucking him when you were younger," his doppleganger says. "In equal measure, you dreamed about killing him.
"Well," his doppleganger continues, as Malfoy lets out a particularly loud shout of pleasure, "you've already fucked him, and that didn't work out so great. We both know what that leaves."
Harry's mouth is dry. He can feel his pulse in the tips of his fingers and behind his eyes.
His phone rings in his pocket.
His fingers feel heavy as he gropes for it, pulling it out of the back pocket of his jeans. It's the Doctor. Harry isn't even sure if he can physically make himself answer.
He does anyway.
"Doctor." His voice is hoarse.
"Harry, I know what the Singer wants."
"So do I," Harry says. "She wants me to kill him."
And right at that moment, with an unearthly rage building in him stronger than he has ever felt before, so does Harry.
Each time Draco thinks he cannot be broken down further, and each time he is proven wrong. Each time he thinks the singer must run out of terrible memories, but she does not. Some other victim screams under his Cruciatus. Some other Muggle drops dead to the floor of the Malfoy Manor. Always, again and again, over and over, until Draco hates himself so much that it physically hurts.
And then he is on a bridge, and that ache turns every vein in his body to ice.
His sixteen-year-old self, bleeding from navel to neck, stands beside him. They both stare at the wide iron rail, and far below, Draco hears the screaming river.
"You want this," his sixteen-year-old self tells him, blood running freely down his shirt, diluted by rain.
"Yes," Draco admits to both iterations of himself.
He walks to the edge of the bridge and braces both hands on the wide metal rail.
"No TARDIS to catch you this time," says his sixteen-year-old self.
"Will it kill me?" Draco asks.
"That's like a man lost in a desert asking if a mirage will quench his thirst," his sixteen-year-old self answers. "It won't, but why does it matter to you? You'll run toward it anyway, because that's how desperate you are."
His phone rings in his pocket. He ignores it.
He steps up onto the railing, bracing one hand on the suspension cable. The water far below churns and wails, wind howls, rain stings his face.
His breath is short and ragged, his vision blurred with either tears or rain or both. And even though he knows there is nothing waiting for him at the bottom, he drops anyway.
"Shields at 37% and falling, Captain!"
"Brace for impact!"
One of the screens goes black, and Kirk tumbles out of his chair.
"Goddammit, where is the Doctor?"
"There are even more of them, Captain – coming out of the moon — there are so many we can't even get an estimate!"
"Send an SOS out to the Federation!" Kirk shouts over the wailing of the emergency siren. "I doubt they'll be able to get anyone out here in time, but it's better than—"
"I'm here! I'm here!"
Kirk spins. The Doctor is scrambling into bridge, mobile phone in one hand, a large brass device over the opposite shoulder.
"Where the hell have you been?"
"Brace for impact!"
The Doctor nearly tips over, but manages to catch himself on the arm of the captain's chair.
"Sorry!" the Doctor says. "Very important mass text message. Galactically important, actually. But here, I brought this!"
"Great," Kirk says. "What is it?"
"It's a – well, look, it's a sciencey thing, it's way past your time period, all you need to know is that you can hook it up to the mainframe and increase power to the shield."
"Doctor," Spock says, "these creatures – the ones we saw on the moon – they seem to be multiplying!"
"Yep," the Doctor says, carrying the large brass device over to where he's sitting, shortly before he rips open a panel covering the console.
"By my calculations, the entire mass of the moon is depleting – this army is the moon, which means there could be billions!"
"Yeah, that sounds about right," the Doctor answers, ripping his sonic out of his coat pocket and hooking up several fiberoptic wires to the device.
"How do we defeat them?" Spock demands, anger rising in his voice.
"Not sure yet!" the Doctor says. "Where's Scotty? Did you tell him to determine the inverse of the gravitational—"
"Get Scotty on the comm!" Kirk barks.
"Bridge to engineering!" Uhura says. "Scotty!"
"Engineering!" comes Scotty's voice.
"Brace for impact!"
"Scotty, how's that number I asked for?"
"Expanding rapidly, Doctor!" Scotty says. "The event horizon – the singularity itself – is getting larger."
The Doctor stops what he's doing and goes over this new information in his head.
"I know what your plan is," Scotty says. "I figured it out the moment I heard what you wanted me to calculate. You want to cancel out the gravitational pull of the singularity with some sort of massive inverse pressure. But Doctor, by the figures I'm getting, this black hole could withstand a pressure thirty-thousand times more powerful than the largest supernovas in recorded history!"
"That is a lot," the Doctor says, mostly to himself, mind racing.
"It's fucking well more than a lot, Doctor!" Scotty bellows. "Even if we could somehow tow a supernova of that size to the black hole in time, there's no way it would do more than bruise it!"
The Doctor's mind churns. He stares, transfixed, down that the half-finished jerryrig in front of him and tries his very best not to panic.
"So there's an army of billions coming in unattackable waves trying to destroy the Enterprise," Kirk says, "there's a supermassive black hole on our doorstep that is only get larger, there's some sort of impossibly dangerous energy that is threatening to destroy the universe, and we don't have a viable plan anymore?"
"I…" the Doctor begins.
"Protocol would dictate that we set to warp and exit," Spock says. "We can't defeat this, but we need to warn the Federation—"
"We can't leave!" Kirk says. "Harry and Draco are still in there!"
"Doctor," Spock says, "we need a plan. Fast."
"I'm a little bit short of those at the moment," the Doctor replies miserably. "Unless…"
It's a longshot. The longest shot he's ever likely to take. But maybe, maybe, maybe…
When he lands, of course, he's alive. He should have expected it, but it still eats him up inside. Every second he spends still breathing feels like a betrayal to a universe that is better off without him. He lies shattered on the ground – soil, some part of him notices, dark and loamy – hands clenched, head down.
In the distance, he hears some sort of commotion, and he reluctantly lifts his head.
Far in the distance, visible only in slits through the trees – he is in the Forbidden Forest now, apparently – is some sort of great clash and clamor of spells, light and sound and energy.
"He's coming to kill you," says his sixteen-year-old self, still bloody, his constant companion. "He saw everything you saw. Torturing all those Muggles. Standing by for executions of innocent people and doing nothing."
Draco can't blame him, then. His hands are shaking from the oppressive cold of the night-darkened forest, and he struggles to pull himself upright.
"Maybe you'll get to thank him this time," his sixteen-year-old self says. "He certainly deserves it. Harry Potter, saving the world one more time."
Draco feels as though he does not have the energy to sit upright, and halfway up he collapses back down onto the underbrush. He lies still for a while, breathing hard, trembling from the wet, soaking cold of the Forbidden Forest. He supposes that trying to face it with dignity would be impossible anyway.
Ding, in his pocket. His phone chimes with a text.
Draco doesn't bother.
Draco, torturing a Muggle. Harry casts a violent spell and the illusion fizzles away like water on hot metal.
Draco, bending to kiss Voldemort's ring. Another spell sends him away like smoke in wind.
Draco, watching as Bellatrix tortures Hermione. Yet another spell, and he's gone ink in water.
"Stop it!" Harry bellows into the darkness. "Stop giving me illusions! Take me to him!"
The forest hisses as though it heard him, a sound almost like a giggle.
"Take me to him, Singer!" Harry shouts at the forest.
The ground, the air, the trees all warp, they flex, and Harry is pulled deeper into the darkness and—
—ding, in Draco's pocket, another text.
Harry is standing over him, shaking with rage. His gripping his wand tightly in one hand.
Draco stares up at him Ding, in his pocket.
"No more illusions?" Harry asks.
Draco doesn't answer. Would it be impolitic, he wonders, to demand that Potter just get it over with?
"It's really you?"
Ding. Draco grinds his teeth.
He is sure he looks nightmarish. Tears pouring down his face, half-curled around himself on the ground, shivering and broken. Harry approaches slowly; Draco can hear the sounds of his footsteps rustling and crunching in the brush.
"Do you know what she wants?" Harry asks. There's still tension in his voice, like he's a wire worn down and about to snap. "Have you figured it out?"
Who the hell is texting him this much?
"She's been trying to piss me off," Harry says. "Showing me – all sorts of horrible shit you did. People you tortured—"
"I know," Draco says. He makes a second attempt to struggle to an upright position. Ice cold condensation forms along strands of his hair, and they stick to his forehead as he lifts himself upright.
"Not easy to watch," Harry says.
"No," Draco agrees.
Draco manages to sit upright, but he keeps his head down. He supposes, in the end, the best way to go would be unexpectedly.
"Damn it," Draco croaks, and he's not sure why it makes the tears worse, but it does. He scrapes at his face with the heel of his hand.
"Damn it," he sobs, stuffing a hand into his pocket. His fingers are numb and clumsy, and he just wants him to do it, to just make it end.
"Apparently this has been going on our whole lives," Harry says. "It's why we were never once able to be fucking normal to each other. There's something between us – what did the Doctor call it? Anduen energy, always reacting to us."
Ding. Draco can barely hear him, but he lifts his tear-blurred eyes anyway.
"It's what she feeds on," Harry says. "The energy waxes and wanes every time we fight, every time we fuck. She wants me to kill you, to – to bring it to an apex, so she can devour it."
Draco is in no sort of place to be understanding anything Harry's saying. He stares down at his phone and slides to unlock, just as a new text pops up. It's from Tyrion.
Draco, I've received a rather distressing message from the Doctor. Are you all right?
Draco frowns, goes to the next text. It's from Dean.
Hey blondie, you ok? Don't go dying on me, now, we still have that rain check for no strings sex
Draco would laugh under another circumstance, but he's still too raw, too ragged.
"I mean, she succeed in at least one way – I am fucking pissed right now."
"Then what are you waiting for?" Draco rasps, looking up at him.
Harry frowns at him. "What?"
"Fucking do it. Do it and get it over worth and just – be quick about it, if you have any mercy left in you for me."
Ding. Draco looks down. It's Katniss
Draco, you all right? The Doctor thinks you're in danger.
Ding. A follow-up from Tyrion.
I don't know what sort of hopelessness the Doctor thinks you are in danger of falling into, but you should know that hope is never completely out of reach, and there is always something worth fighting for.
Draco's eyes burn all the harder. He thinks he knows what's going on, but it hurts a little too much to think of it too deeply.
"Why do you think I'm here?" Harry asks. "You think I'm here to kill you?"
Draco lifts his eyes again. "You're angry," he says weakly.
"Of course I'm fucking angry, there's a sentient black hole trying to talk me into killing you."
Harry collapses on the ground in front of him, on his knees like Draco.
Ding, from Dean.
Worried about you, blondie. There are people who care. Txt me back when you can.
Ding, from Sherlock.
Mr. Malfoy, I have seen the strength in you, and it is stronger than any darkness the Doctor warns me of. Do not let yourself surrender to your past. You are worth so much more than the scars you carry.
Draco swallows hard.
"She thinks that it's our destiny," Harry says, "that the natural energy between us can only end with death. Well, this isn't my first time saying fuck destiny. Draco, look at me."
Harry's hands are on his face. Draco has no choice but to look at him.
"I didn't understand it at first," he says, "but now that the Doctor's explained it to me, I think I finally do. All this time I've been so caught up in the irrational anger it's forced on me all my life, both our lives. I've never been really able to see it clearly."
The TARDIS monitor flicks on. It's the Enterprise bridge.
"Doctor!" Spock shouts. The TARDIS engines are wailing as the Doctor steers it around the army still bombarding the ship. "Commander Scott is reporting strange fluctuations from the singularity!"
The Doctor spins the monitor around sharply. "What fluctuations?"
The forest around them starts to warp, or perhaps that's just Draco's fading vision, tunneling until it's just Harry.
He is staring at him desperately, fingernails digging crescents into his jaw, his breath on Draco's mouth. His face is open and vulnerable, frightened in an almost childlike way, and Draco finds himself hanging onto his words.
"I – Draco – I'm in love with you. I think I have been for a while."
There is something warm spreading in his chest – the same energy, but different. "Harry—"
"I love you for your strength and your wit and your courage and your kindness, and I think I have for a while," he says, and the world feels as though it is literally breaking apart under them. "She will never be able to make me hate you for your past sins because seeing how you've overcome them has made me love you even more—"
Draco drops his phone and kisses Harry with such an intensity that reality starts to unravel around them. The energy is thrumming hot in his veins, stronger than Draco has ever felt it before, but warm instead of cold, magnetizing instead of repelling, and it is in him and on him and everywhere around him, and Harry kisses him back as everything around them breaks down—
"Holy fuck!" Kirk says. "Doctor, look!"
The Doctor fumbles out and switches the camera's view. The cold knot of the black hole is laced with white-silver light, escaping its gravity like bursts of steam. The TARDIS begins to rumble.
"Yes," the Doctor says, softly at first, then, "yes!"
"What the hell is it?"
"They did it!" the Doctor says, laughing as the engines wail and the emergency floodlights begin to flash. "The force of a thousand supernovas! Love is stronger than hate, stronger than death, it always has been!
"WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? A BLACK HOLE IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE AND THAT ISN'T EVEN POSSIBLE!"
"Stand by, Captain!" the Doctor says. "I need to pick them up!"
He shuts off the comm link before Kirk can get past his sputtering. He rockets off toward the singularity.
—until the rage and the roar and the breakdown stops, in an instant, and there is cold silence, all-eclipsing but for the warmth that still lingers on Draco's mouth.
He pulls back, breathless and weightless. They are free-floating, clinging to each other in an empty void of space. There is no air, and precious little light, but by the distant glow of a nearby galaxy, Draco can see the features of Harry's face in soft relief.
He does not know where he is. And he is frightened, because for the first time in so many years, he has something worth living for, and he doesn't want to die, not now, not yet—
"Open the door!" the Doctor shouts at the TARDIS as ti tumbles recklessly through space. "Open the door!"
It does, but only at the last minute. With one last great roll forward, the doors slam open, and Harry and Draco come crashing through, landing hard on the grated floor.
"You did it! Boys! My boys, my boys, you did it!"
"Captain, the army—" Spock begins.
"Enterprise to TARDIS! Enterprise to TARDIS! Doctor, all readings have stopped! Do you read?"
Draco coughs and gasps and rolls onto his back. His head is swimming and the energy is still thrumming in his veins.
"What—" Harry chokes, "what happened?"
The Doctor grabs him by both arms, pulls him up, and hugs him tightly, still laughing, before he does the same to Draco.
"You overloaded her!" the Doctor says, hugging them both tightly around the shoulders. "She wanted to absorb the expelled anduen energy when one of you killed the other, but she never could have possibly absorbed the energy created by love!"
"Slow down," Harry says weakly.
"Love," the Doctor answers, pulling back to beam at them. "Always, always, always stronger! Far more than one puny little supermassive black hole could handle! You overinflate a balloon and it breaks apart; you expel too much energy into a black hole, it cancels itself out!"
"That doesn't make any sense," Draco says.
"Not without a doctorate in sciences your planet doesn't have yet it doesn't matter come here!"
The Doctor hugs them again, tightly, and despite everything that's happened, Draco laughs and hugs him back.
"Doctor?" Kirk says. "Doctor, do you read? Enterprise to TARDIS, do you read?"
"Captain," Spock says, "the black hole is gone, and the TARDIS doesn't seem to be responding – it – it seems likely that—"
"TARDIS to Enterprise," comes Draco's voice through the bridge, "it's over."
"He's alive!" Kirk says. "They're alive!"
Chekov is the first to cheer; the rest join in kind.
"TARDIS to Enterprise," Harry chimes in, "do you guys need a lift home for repairs?"
Back on earth — 2200's earth, but still earth, and home enough for Draco – the Enterprise is docked in the largest hangar Draco has ever seen, not that he's seen all that many, but this one still seems quite impressive. Across the way, the Doctor and Spock and Kirk are saying what he can only assume are goodbyes.
Harry appears beside him. "I imagine we'll be going soon," he says. "Said your fond farewells?"
"Please," Draco answers. "I already have both their numbers."
Harry pauses, then grins.
"You know," he says, "I don't find that annoying anymore."
"Do you think the anduen energy is gone, now that it's been – I don't know – actualized?"
"Likely not!" the Doctor says abruptly, walking over and rubbing both hands together. "Anduen energy is a naturally occurring force. I reckon you're stuck with it forever."
"Does that mean we'll keep wanting to punch each other?" Draco asks.
"If I had to guess," Harry says, "probably not."
"It's all a bit theoretical," the Doctor admits. "But now that the energy finally has a permanent outlet, it seems likely that it will be much more stable."
"I think that's a fancy way of saying we're in it for the long haul, Malfoy," Harry says, smiling.
"If you think you're getting a commitment out of me, Potter, before you've even taken me on a proper date," he says, "you've got another thing coming."
Harry grins widely. "Pushy."
"I have a suggestion!" the Doctor says.
"A date suggestion?"
"Bennor-6! It's basically Hawaii wrapped around an entire planet. It's often called Honeymoon. What do you say?"
"Are we sure we want to go to a tropical paradise with our track record?" Draco asks. "Better than decent chance it will get invaded or blown up or hit by a meteorite or something."
"That sort of makes me want to go more," Harry confesses, and when Draco looks sideways at him, he starts to understand what the Doctor means by the energy being stable. It's warm and constant and familiar, and it makes his heart ache pleasantly with the thought of everything they still get to do.
"I've got a feeling I'll be happy anywhere," Harry continues, "so long as it's not too far away from you."
It's a very sweet sentiment, of course, so naturally Draco says, "You're a soppy, sentimental bastard."
Harry kisses him. Not quite as universe-bending as the first one, but still very, very nice. Draco kisses him back.
"Come on, boys," the Doctor says, grinning. "We're only just getting started."
Author's Note: OMG IT'S OVER! Thank you so much for reading! Especially those of you who were here from chapter one, I love you most of all! If you liked it, leave a review! I love me some reviews!