during

"Go home," Harry said.

Draco staggered until he reached a wall he could brace himself against. "I think they might have burned it down," he said. He reached up to wipe his face and grimaced at the feel of snake sliming across his skin. He'd never be clean again. "Once they realized I was on your side, I'm pretty sure someone found a way to break that charm and raze the place. It's the kind of pointless destruction they'd like."

Potter grunted, the closest he'd probably come to admitting Draco was right.

"How's the arm?"

Draco looked over at Ron. He thought about making a quip about how it was good to know he cared, but he knew it was more about how dark the Merlin-be-damned thing on his arm was. A push of his sleeve, and a wipe of his hand, and he closed his eyes with relief. It was already fading. Ron saw the sagging shoulders, and caught his breath, but had to look at the Mark for himself. The dull grey lines had been black that morning. Ron rubbed at them and Draco resisted the urge to yank himself away. He didn't need to be pawed at. The man had his confirmation.

"You need to kill me?" Harry asked, as if they body language hadn't already given that away.

"Alas, no," Draco said. "Seems somewhere in one of your endless, miraculous not-quite-deaths someone already took care of your headache problem."

"We did it," Ron said. Then he cackled with an almost hysterical glee, yelled the words so the whole world could hear, then collapsed into a pile of sobbing, overwrought survival. "We did it," he whispered one last time.

"Weasley?" Draco asked. Now he had to feel worry for the man's stability? He wouldn't have thought a day that started off with breaking into his own home, slaughtering people he'd drunk with at parties, and being hailed as a traitor, all so he could get to the snake and end the last horcrux, could have gotten worse. Comforting Ron Weasley would make it worse. There were limits.

"He's fine," Harry said.

"And here I thought the good guys didn't lie," Draco said. None of them were fine. They were all covered in blood, soot, and ash. They'd all gone into the day expecting to die. That the three of them had made it to half-hearted attempts to resume old hostilities was more than he'd hoped for. He looked over at Voldemort's body. It seemed smaller in death. He was just a slumped man, not very old for a wizard, deformed by Dark magic. He seemed more pitiable than terrifying. The battle hadn't even been dramatic. Once the horcruxes were gone, he'd died as easily as any other man. He'd started to posture and declaim and Harry Potter had just struck him with one Unforgivable. One burst of green light and all his years of slavery had been over, the war had been over, everything had been over. "You disappoint me, Potter," he said.

"Maybe this will make up for it." Harry Potter tossed over an old, broken watch.

Draco snatched it from the air and held it up, turning it in the dull light to inspect it. The clasp had fallen off, the hands had stopped moving, and the fake gold had mostly worn away. "You give amazing presents," he said. "That Ginny is a lucky girl.

"Blow me, Malfoy," Ron muttered from where he sat on the floor.

Draco made a show of stepping away. "Your poverty might be contagious," he said. "I'll pass."

"It's a portkey," Potter said.

Draco froze and turned to look at the hero of the hour, the man who'd managed to live yet again, his savior. He wasn't sure how he'd feel about that in the morning. He suspected he'd choke on it. It didn't make it untrue. When all the dust settled and the blood was wiped away, he'd have to go on being grateful to Harry Potter for his whole life. "It's a what?" he asked.

Ron laughed, though the sound rasped through a throat that had had some hard usage that day screaming directions to their team. "You think we'd let Hermione spend one moment longer than she had to worrying about your pathetic arse?" he asked.

"It goes to Italy?" Draco asked. His fingers tightened around the broken bit of cheap jewelry.

"Goes right to your front door," Harry said. His smile was a little too understanding and Draco had to look away. "Zabini sent me the information I needed to get it made. You aren't the only one who's been writing the prat. Go home."

"You might want to get cleaned up first," Ron said. He made a show of sniffing the air, as if he could make out one person's smell in the foul, post-battle air. "You stink."

"Fuck you, Weasley," Draco said. He nodded at Potter, who might have made some noises about how he'd better be invited to the wedding, but Draco couldn't be sure because he'd already activated the Portkey and was gone.


after

Blaise caught his breath when the door opened. He'd known the final battle was imminent, but there had been no way of knowing how it would go. He had tried to prepare himself for the worst because hope was what killed you.

He closed his eyes and opened them again. The light streaming through the door turned Draco into a shadow with an areola of white hair that glowed but the hair let him know who it was. When the figure stepped forward he could see the blood and the dirt. "He's gone," Draco said. Blaise turned away for a moment. Some things were too raw to let anyone, even a beloved partner, see. They'd made it. Somehow, they'd made it.

Then he looked around for Hermione. She had to have heard the door open. For all they called the place a villa it was small, and every sound echoed, and no one ever came to it. She should have come running.

"She's too… is she too angry to even look at me?" Draco asked. The words seemed to be torn out of him. He'd fantasized about this moment. He'd played long scenarios in his head where she covered her mouth with her hands and gasped and then ran to fling herself at him, heedless of his filth, heedless of her own weakness. He'd imagined her throwing her arms around him and sobbing and telling him she'd never forgive him and how had he survived even as she covered his face in kisses.

He'd gotten through a lot thinking of their reunion. Blaise had told him in letters how she'd cried herself to sleep at first, then seemed to recover, though always with an angry, wounded edge to her. "Hermione?" he asked uncertainly, almost afraid to speak loudly. If he yelled, and she didn't come running, he would know she hated him again.

Not, he supposed that he didn't deserve it.

"Hermione?" he asked again, trying to be heard this time.

A familiar head of bushy hair appeared above crossed arms at one of the room's doors. "Draco," she said. She sounded like nothing so much as someone mildly irritated her husband was late. "I hope you plan to wash up before dinner."

Draco felt all his fantasies die as she sized him up and then, when a smile tugged at her mouth, come to live again and he knew he was home. "I will," he said. "I promise."

finis