It didn't take long for Draco to pack his trunk. It was with a detached sort of regret that he found himself wishing he was a messier person, that collecting his things would mean he'd have to check every room of the house, just to take up more time. He just wanted an excuse to stay a little bit longer. His hands shook and he put the last of his clothes away, realising that he had nothing left to delay him. There was no way he could explain to his mother why he didn't want to leave right away, he could barely explain to himself why he didn't want to go yet.
He knelt on the floor in front of his trunk feeling like something was being taken from him, he didn't feel like he'd finished here yet. He especially didn't want to leave when he was on such bad terms with Harry. Their friendship had become more important to him than he was willing to admit out loud. Even thinking it was embarrassing enough. And Harry would think him the worst kind of coward when he woke in the morning to find that Draco had vanished. Then everything Draco had done to try and give his family a chance to be on the winning side would have been for nothing. He was sure that even though he had helped them Harry would still judge him for running away.
But that was the whole point. Pointed out a stern and somewhat unwelcome little voice in the back of his mind.
He'd helped Harry so that the war would be over more quickly, therefore giving his father a better chance of serving his time and being released legally. That was all. He had always intended on leaving the country, getting as far away from all of it as possible. Was he really going to throw this chance away, just to pursue a friendship with Harry Potter?
No way. Said that same little voice, his Slytherin conscience no doubt.
But he also wouldn't leave without saying good-bye.
He left his trunk where it was in the middle of the room and quietly crept down the short hall to Harry and Ron's bedroom. Ron's loud snores were issuing through the wall and Draco hoped he was a sound enough sleeper not to wake up.
It didn't even occur to him in that moment that both Ron and Harry had slept through the screaming tirade of the portrait downstairs, so his quiet creeping across their carpeted floor was unlikely to wake them.
He reached Harry's bed with his heart thudding erratically against his ribs. What was he to do? He looked down at the boy lying there; the mess of black hair in stark contrast with the white pillow slip, the innocent peaceful face, so much younger in sleep. Once again Draco struggled to reconcile this boy with the person who emerged to battle the Dark Lord in less than two years time. It wasn't just that the older Harry was slightly taller, and rather more filled out than this stringy thing, but the man who had appeared that night, who stood alone before the Dark Lord, who had come flying out of the flames to save Draco when he'd been a moment from death, that Harry had held a sort of furious determination, a sense of purpose that had been almost frightening. It was hard to believe that this soundly sleeping boy would become him. Then, realising that he'd been staring down at Harry for a good few minutes Draco shook his head a little ruefully and reached out a hand to shake Harry's blanketed shoulder, "Potter," he whispered, "Wake up."
Harry jerked awake at once, flinging Draco's hand from him messily, sitting bolt upright in bed.
"Draco?" He croaked in panic, "what's happened?" His hand went immediately to the dresser, his fingers skittering along the surface until they reached his glasses, he shoved them on his nose and looked up at Draco expectantly.
Draco was so taken aback to be addressed by his first name that he couldn't speak for a moment. Harry had been ignoring him for two days, furious at him for things that hadn't even occurred yet, but now he sat peering up at Draco in the dark, the blankets pooled in his lap as he asked worriedly what was wrong? As if Draco's wellbeing was so important to him. Was he not angry with Draco after all?
Draco dithered for a moment, wondering where to begin, and found himself perched on the edge of the bed, his hands clenched nervously upon his knees. Then, before he'd decided what to to say, the words found their own way out of his mouth. Unfiltered and blunt, "My mother is here," he blurted out in a rush, "Dumbledore says she and I are to leave tonight, he is bringing a portkey in less than half an hour."
"Leave?" Harry repeated, nonplussed, still sounding a bit groggy, "Your mother is here? But I thought you were staying 'til next week." he looked at Draco searchingly, not understanding.
"So did I." Draco replied, his voice rather smaller than he expected it to be. It was barely audible over Ron's snores from the other side of the room.
"But you can't go," Harry said, grasping the situation as his brain woke up properly, "we have stuff to do," he flapped an urgent hand, "The horcruxes, Voldemort, I need you - your help... I mean."
"You don't," Draco said, and he meant it, he knew Harry would be fine with his friends and Dumbledore to protect him. "I really have told you everything I know." Draco said seriously, "Weasley and Granger will help you more than I can now."
Harry scowled at this, "So you're just going to run away?"
"It's not like that." Draco said at once, he had expected this argument, and he had his reasoning prepared. "This is the only chance I'm going to get to keep my family safe. I can't let the Dark Lord ruin our lives like last time."
"So help me beat him," Harry pleaded, "then he won't be able to hurt anyone."
"I can't," Draco insisted, knowing he had to make this clear to Harry, "I can't stay, my mother has told the Dark Lord I'm ill but that won't last forever, and he's already told her he wants me to take Father's place." he met Harry's bright eyes in the dark and said plaintively, "Harry, I have to go before it all happens all over again."
Harry just stared at him, Ron continued to snore and Draco felt like something dark and empty was spreading through him, curling around all the ill advised affection he'd let grow for this boy, for Emmeline, even for the house-elf. All of it.
He was an idiot.
"Where will you go?" Harry asked eventually.
"I can't say, I don't know exactly," Draco said automatically, but he folded under Harry's pleading look, "America." he murmured.
Harry gave a tiny nod, "Will you write?"
"Of course." Draco replied at once, even though he knew it was a lie. If he was going to be hiding from the Dark Lord, sending owls to people in Britain would be foolish.
Then suddenly Harry was hugging him, his arms were warm from sleep and full of a fierce emotion that scared Draco. He tentatively returned it, placing his hands gingerly on Harry's back, frightened of the way Harry clung to him.
"I owe you," Harry said, his breath warm on Draco's neck, "I see things differently now. Because of you."
If Draco had been shocked by the use of his first name, it was nothing to how he felt now. Harry thought he owed him?
Harry finally released him, but he didn't move away, his face was so close to Draco's and Draco didn't understand how they had gone from fighting, to saying goodbye, to this, because this was certainly something, Harry had leaned closer again, his intent obvious, and instead of nerves or excitement Draco felt only fear, his heart seemed to have stopped in his chest, he could not even draw a breath, because being kissed by a fifteen-year-old Harry Potter while Ron Weasley snored three feet away was just too strange.
But then Harry's lips pressed briefly against his own and it was over, Harry was pink in the face, but grinning. "I've been wanting to do that for days." he said sheepishly.
"Well," Draco blinked, dazedly, "now you have." He smiled back uncertainty, completely bewildered by what had just happened.
"Good luck." Harry said, after several moments of awkward silence, "in America, I mean."
"You too," Draco returned lamely, his mouth was so dry, he had no idea what to say, "Just don't die, okay?"
"I'll do my best." Harry grinned even wider, but the corner of his lips seemed to tremble. The smile was brittle, something that Draco could understand quite easily in that moment.
Is this really it? Draco thought as he got to his feet, he felt a sense of complete unreality as he quietly left the room.
A/N: Once again, thanks for all the comments and well wishes. You probably all hate me after this chapter! I've been so tempted to change the original plot after all the reader enthusiasm for Draco's mission/redemption, but the
plan was always to keep him in character- and Draco would always choose to save himself.
*Runs and hides*