"So far from being free
Of the past that's haunting me
The future I just can't touch.
And if you take my hand
Please pull me from the dark
And show me hope again."
-So Far (feat. Arnor Dan), by Olafur Arnalds
Horror at what he'd done pierced Harry with every step. That image of Draco lying there…blood blossoming like scarlet water lilies across the bathroom floor…knowing that he had cast the spell…Harry just couldn't seem to wrap his head around it. He didn't know what that spell would do, he couldn't have, he—but it didn't matter. What's done is done, and he would have to live with it.
Moonlight poured through the castle windows, throwing long shadows on walls of the corridor. Harry walked silently down the corridor, wrapped in the invisibility cloak. It was almost midnight, and he was headed to the hospital wing to see Draco. It may have been inconvenient to sneak down in the middle of the night, but you see, people would find it more than odd if a Gryffindor was going to visit a Slytherin. Particularly if that Gryffindor was Harry, and that Slytherin was Draco. Besides, Harry would rather be alone with him anyway.
At last he reached the hospital wing, and tried the doors; they were unlocked. He pushed them open as quietly as he could and stepped into the moonlit room. Draco's was the only bed occupied. Good, that was one less thing to worry about. After scanning the room for Madam Pomfrey, Harry crept inside.
"Muffliato," he muttered, pointing his wand towards Madam Pmfrey's office. Then he looked over at Draco's still form. His eyes were open, staring up at the ceiling. Harry smiled to himself; just like Draco to lie awake at night. He walked towards him, slipping off the invisibility cloak as he did so.
"Draco?" he said tentatively.
Draco didn't look around at the sound of his voice, but Harry saw his fist clench on the bed sheets. He closed the distance between them and sat in the chair by the bed and waited for Draco to say something, but the blonde-haired boy seemed content to lie there in stony silence.
"Draco," Harry repeated.
"If you've come to beg for forgiveness you're wasting your time," Draco said stiffly.
Harry smiled ruefully. "You know me better than that, Draco."
"Then why are you here?" Draco demanded. He still refused to look at the other boy.
"I wanted to see you," Harry said.
Harry frowned at the blonde. True, they'd been in a bad place for most of this year, but did he really believe Harry didn't care about him?
"Why else would I be here?" Harry snapped.
Draco didn't seem to have an answer to this, as he just continued to stare at the opposite wall. Harry sighed.
"Look, I know you don't want an apology. I know you don't want an explanation or an excuse for what I did, and I'm not here to give you one, but—you have to believe that I feel horrible about what happened."
"'Course you do," Draco muttered.
Anger bubbled up in Harry's chest. This was turning out like every other damn time he'd tried to talk to Draco this year. But this time, he wasn't going to stand for it. This time, he wasn't giving up.
"Look, you can avoid me all you want. You can shut me out, use unforgivably curses on me, hold a grudge against me, or whatever else you like. But don't you EVER believe that I don't care, or that I don't regret every wrong I've ever done you! This afternoon, when I found you in the bathroom, I was trying to help. I don't care what—"
"I forgive you," Draco said, so softly that Harry wasn't sure he'd heard him.
"What?" He said.
Draco at last turned to face him, and Harry was surprised to see tears in his eyes.
"I forgive you," he repeated. "And…I know. I know you were trying to help, I just…"
Draco took in a shuddering breath and clapped a hand over his mouth, tears leaking from the corners of his eyes. Harry immediately moved to sit on the bed, gripping Draco's other hand in both of his. In all their six years at Hogwarts, Harry had never seen Draco cry until earlier that day in the bathroom, and now here in the hospital wing. They'd grown close during their fourth and fifth years, in complete secrecy of course, but this year something had changed. Specifically, Draco had changed, until now he was almost a completely different boy. No longer the sneering, cocky, and headstrong Slytherin, he was now a despairing mess of a person. Harry had his suspicions; he'd spied on and tailed Draco trying to prove them right. But it hadn't been out of some malicious desire to destroy him, it had been out of concern. Draco wouldn't tell him what was wrong, so Harry had to find out himself. Ron and Hermione hadn't understood his near-obsession, but luckily they never suspected his true motive.
"Shh, it's okay," Harry said, dabbing at Draco's tears with his sleeve. "Draco, please, you have to tell me what's going on. I want to help, but I can't unless you tell me what's wrong."
Draco pushed himself up into a sitting position, shaking a bit with the effort.
"Don't tell me you haven't guessed it already," he said.
"I have my suspicions," Harry admitted.
Draco laughed humorously. "Well, they're probably right. Never could fool you."
With a shaking hand Draco drew back his sleeve, revealing his left forearm. There, branded onto his white skin, was the scarlet outline of the Dark Mark. Just as Harry had suspected.
"They recruited me," Draco said. "To replace my father. I have to admit I was excited at first. I saw it as a chance to prove myself, be 'the chosen one.' But I quickly saw that He never meant for me to succeed. He m-meant for me t-to…die."
Tears spilled with renewed fervor down Draco's cheeks, and Harry wiped them away, stroking Draco's hair.
"They have meetings, and e-every time I h-haven't made progress I-I'm t-tortured, and I n-never make p-progress!"
"Draco, tell me. What is the plan? What are they making you do?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Draco said. "I have to kill Dumbledore."
Harry sighed; it was all just as he'd suspected. He wished he had been wrong.
"But I can't do it, Harry! I don't want to do it! But if I don't, he'll kill me, I—I wish I'd never joined. I just want to stay here and be with you and…and…"
Draco threw his arms around Harry and wept, sobbing into his shoulder. Harry embraced Draco back, holding him tightly. Anger burned within him once more, but this time it was directed towards the one who had hurt his lovely blonde Slytherin; Voldemort.
"I-I love you, Harry," Draco choked out through his tears.
"I love you too," Harry said.
The Gryffindor pushed Draco back so he could see his face, then leaned in for a kiss. Draco responded eagerly, clinging to Harry for dear life. As Harry held Draco he felt—as he had many times before—the need to protect him from the world. And in some ways, he needed it.
"Will you stay with me tonight?" Draco asked.
"Of course," Harry said, and slipped beneath the covers beside him.
They lay wrapped in each other's arms in silence for a long time, lips occasionally locked in a kiss. Eventually Draco fell asleep, and Harry lay alone with his thoughts.
"No matter what happens," Harry whispered into Draco's hair, "I'll make sure you're okay. I promise."