A/N: Well! The epilogue! I did say it'd be up within a week, so well, I'm using the weekend to work on it. I really should be doing my homework, though. Never mind. This chapter is mainly from Draco's POV, because well, I think Harry's mind could be taken off of things by his friends playing Exploding Snap and all that. Draco, on the other hand, has nothing to distract him. :) His thoughts are really fun to write, too. Heh. Sorry, it still isn't a happy ending... I didn't plan for it to be in the first place. Well, there's always the sequel. Ack! Did I just commit myself to writing one? o_O Well... we'll see.
Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns everything.
I went down to breakfast alone very early, and ate as quickly as I could, not wanting to have to face him from across the Hall. The food didn't seem to have any taste, anyway. But when I was stepping out into the Entrance Hall, I bumped into him, Weasley and Granger as they came from Gryffindor Tower.
''Have a good summer with the Muggles, Potter,'' I spat out, not liking the shaky edge my voice held.
''I...'' he started, but I rushed past him toward the dungeons frantically, not wanting to face him for longer than necessary. I stopped as I turned the corner, breathing hard.
''What's with him?'' I heard Weasley say, sounding stunned. ''Did he just run away from us?''
''Oh, who cares, Ron, let's just get breakfast,'' Granger said bemusedly. Their footsteps faded away into the Great Hall and I slowly walked back to Slytherin Tower, feeling like my legs were lead.
''Mr Malfoy.'' I looked up and saw Professor Snape looking at me oddly. He looked as if he was about to say something, but stopped himself, giving me a calculating look. ''Do ensure that you are ready to board the Hogwarts Express on time,'' he said, sweeping past me toward the Great Hall.
That's all I need, isn't it. Snape giving me love advice.
As the students milled about on the platform, I saw him looking around for something or someone as if he had something important to say. I hid behind Crabbe and to my relief, was completely blocked from view.
As he finally gave up, he sighed and boarded the train in defeat, looking quite miserable. I couldn't even look at him, which was why I found myself choosing a compartment at the other end of the train from his.
I know, it's pathetic.
Amidst the shouts of laughter in our compartment, my thoughts occasionally wandered to Draco. I wanted to talk to him again today, but he suddenly seemed to have developed an extraordinary talent for hiding. I don't quite know what I wanted to tell him, I just only know I wanted to see him, maybe apologise again or something. I just needed to hear his voice.
Last night was... Well, I don't know how to describe it, really. We cleared things up, that's for sure, but somehow I wish we didn't. Perhaps if we had just left things the way they were, maybe, just maybe, by the next school year I could have forgotten everything. But after all those confessions and the memory of us just clinging to each other in the dark classroom, everything was ingrained into my mind, and now, even if I tried to, I know I wouldn't be able forget a single detail.
Was it even possible, like he said, to treat it as a trivial matter... ever?
It felt strange not having him barge into our compartment with that smirk on his face and a malicious remark to match. Was he hiding from me? Maybe it was because Fred and George were in my compartment, I thought. But I knew the real reason...
I just didn't want to think about it.
Nobody brought up the topic of Draco. I guess they weren't too concerned about him, and of course, how could I blame them? Maybe they occasionally wondered where he was, and why he hadn't come to torment us yet. Maybe they just didn't care ¨C but I did.
I tried to follow their example not to care or think about him, and the Exploding Snap and Fred and George's wisecracks did keep my mind off of things, most of the time. But I couldn't help flinching slightly when, as we started pulling into King's Cross Station, Ginny talked about Percy actually being in a relationship.
I just wish I was, too.
I looked out the window, deep in thought. Staying in my compartment the entire journey had been strangely therapeutic. Vaguely, I wondered if he was thinking about yesterday night and what happened.
I wondered if he missed me.
The compartment I was in was strangely quiet compared to the rest of the train, and I liked it that way. For once, I could actually have my own time to think, and not have to put up a front about hating Potter.
A sudden movement opposite me startled me, and I turned to look at Crabbe and Goyle. Did one of them just move?
''Are we going to Potter's compartment yet, Malfoy?'' Goyle grunted.
''No. We're not going in there today at all, Goyle. How many times do I have to tell you that?'' I said irritably, turning to look at the window again. Pest.
''Oh. I thought you were joking,'' I heard him mumble, as he and Crabbe settled into their stony stupor yet again. After a long silence, I could hear the witch with the trolley rattling closer and closer, stopping for a few minutes every few feet or so to check each compartment for hungry students.
''Oh good, I thought she'd never come,'' was Crabbe's first sentence since he got on the train. He nudged Goyle from his sleep, and the both of them got up. ''Do you want anything, Malfoy?'' Crabbe said.
''I don't eat such coarse food unless it's absolutely necessary, Crabbe, you know that.''
They went outside without another word to purchase food to gorge themselves with for the rest of the journey. Just as they were sliding the door closed, there was a high-pitched voice outside. I sighed in frustration as Pansy came in and flounced down on the seat.
''Draco, why haven't you come to talk to me? I've been so worried!'' she said, and promptly started to prattle on about what she was going to do during the summer vacation. Sometimes I wonder why I was put in Slytherin ¨C to teach me endurance, maybe.
Oh, no ¨C they would have put me in Hufflepuff for that.
Crabbe and Goyle re-entered the compartment, their large arms completely filled with sweets and other snacks. They dumped it all on their seats and immediately started unwrapping some Chocolate Frogs. As the seat was almost sagging under the weight of both Crabbe and Goyle and the mountainous pile of sweets, some of the items scattered on the floor beside Pansy's feet. She paid them no heed as her hand rested on my arm cloyingly, her voice filling the compartment. Thank goodness there wasn't much further to go.
I was quite certain Potter was looking for me on the platform today. Who else could it have been? Weasley and Granger were standing right next to him, that oversized oaf Hagrid was grinning stupidly nearby ¨C well, who could miss him?
I was expected to forget Potter, and everything that happened between us last night. But how was I supposed to if he kept looking for me with that innocent and longing expression?
Maybe I couldn't always do what I was expected to.
Finally, we neared King's Cross Station. The train stopped, and Crabbe and Goyle got up, leaving the pile of sweet wrappers on the seat behind them as they left the compartment. I still couldn't believe they had actually managed to finish the entire pile of sweets in that short span of time. But then again, they're Crabbe and Goyle.
I walked out with Pansy toward the exit, stopping at the second door from it as I heard Ginny Weasley speaking. ''You won't tease him, will you?'' As I indicated to Pansy to go ahead first, she gave me a puzzled look but complied.
''Wouldn't dream of it,'' someone said, and then he proceeded to agree with himself. ''Definitely not.'' Funny.
The door slid open and the twins filed out together with their sister, glancing at me curiously as they passed. No wonder then. I started to walk behind them casually, as if I was just on my way to the exit as well.
As they got off the train and walked towards their mother, I lingered near the exit, watching as Potter waited outside the compartment. He was evidently waiting for Weasley and Granger to gather their belongings. From inside the compartment, I could hear them talking and laughing, their voices excited. Potter, however, had a subdued look on his face.
I saw him quickly scribble something on a bit of parchment and tear the parchment in two, handing one piece to each of his friends and giving them what appeared to be instructions.
''...I can't stand another two months with only Dudley to talk to,'' he said, giving them a hopeless sort of smile. His voice...
There was an unfamiliar twinge near the bridge of my nose, and the world suddenly went strangely out of proportion as I looked at him through my tears. I knew then why I had been hiding from him the entire day ¨C I was afraid I'd break down. Feeling weak all of a sudden, I put my hand on the wall to support myself, clenching my fist. Zabini came out from his compartment and came nearer, but stopped in concern when he saw me. I waved him away with my eyes closed, not wanting to see his reaction to me actually crying.
As I tried to regain my composure, he touched my shoulder.
''Go away, Zabini,'' I said angrily, turning around.
But it wasn't Zabini ¨C it was Potter.
He reached out for me awkwardly but I stepped back, not knowing what I would do if I touched him. He immediately drew back his hand, looking slightly hurt.
''Draco? I...'' he said, looking apprehensive. He hesitated, looking down at his feet.
''It's all right. I know,'' I said quietly. Seeing Weasley stepping out of the compartment, I gave Potter a watery smile and turned away, determined not to look back until I was safely away from the train station. I faced the multitude of students milling about platform nine and three-quarters, taking a deep breath.
''Goodbye, Potter,'' I said softly, and walked out the door.
A/N: I thought ending the fic with the same line as the first chapter would be... nice. :) Ah, so the fic's truly done now. Sigh. Never mind, there's the co-authored OBS fic to look forward to writing! I've already started on it, actually. Do read it when it's posted! I would really appreciate it. I might write that sixth-year fic that seems to be in demand, but it definitely won't be anytime soon, sorry!
And here's a general reply to all reviewers: Okay, I admit, I was almost crying when I wrote the ending to chapter 8. Bah. So it's good to know I'm not the only one erm... touched? :) Anyway. Well, I don't think I'll continue to the next book, because there's only so many times you can read that Harry looked at Draco longingly and vice versa, you know. I could, but I don't have the talent to keep readers interested time and again. Heh. So, sorry, Cali! :) To QueenStrata: Really, it's fine that you don't review every chapter. :) Just glad to know that you read the fic!
Thanks to Sabriell Silk, Miss Razberry, Silver Dragon, Lumos and Nox, Cali, QueenStrata, Emma, Tine and Icicle for reviewing!
28 Jan. 03: Oh my gosh. I can't believe I hit over 80 reviews. Thanks, all of you! And OBS actually stands for Outward Bound School. It's kind of weird to get into a whole long explanation here, so I'll just say read the fic to find out what it's all about! :D Thank you, Girl 17, for the feedback about the A/Ns! I've taken off most of it, I think. :)