Title: Life, As Experienced Through Your Fingers

Author: Gold-Snitcher

Chapter 13: Life is a Love Story

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"It's this kind of stuff that gets you thinking," Ron stated as he stuffed a pair of pants into a worn duffel bag.

"About the stupid decision you made not to do laundry until you got home?" Harry teased, picking-up a shirt between his index finger and thumb, holding it at arms length and dropping it on top of the duffel before cringing and deciding it was safer if he just perched on his friend's bed and avoided the questionable clothes altogether.

"No, you massive dolt! About us! About everything! This is it, Harry," Ron stated with conviction. "This is the end-point. We made it. We completed our last year here." He paused and bit his lip. "So now what the hell do we do?"

Harry barked out a laugh before shaking his head fondly and patting the spot beside him on the bed. Ron immediately took it. "What are you really worried about?"

"I don't want us to just go our separate ways!" Ron admitted.

"And why on earth would we do that? We're best friends, Ron," Harry chided.

"Yeah, but you – you know," Ron looked closely at Harry a suspicious look as if Harry were simply playing dumb to aggravate him. "You hear about it all the time. We'll end up in separate places, separate schools. We'll keep in touch at first, letters, phone calls, email. But you'll make other friends. And we'll just sort of – dissolve. I mean, say what you want, but you know I have a point."

"Do you really think that I would let my best friend just dissolve?" Harry asked, a concerned frown on his face.

"I don't think you would do it intentionally, but I think it would happen," Ron admitted, he refused to meet Harry's eyes.

"Listen to me, Ron," Harry said, grasping his friend's shoulders and turning him to face him. "You and Hermione went to different schools this year. Did she just dissolve?"

"No," Ron admitted grudgingly.

"And why was that?" Harry asked, "I'll tell you. Because she meant something. You mean something to me, and I'm assuming that I mean something to you. Best-friends just don't dissolve on each other. We stick. Sorry to disappoint you, but you're not going to get rid of me that easy. I have no intention of pulling a Wicked Westy." Ron laughed at the reference to the Wizard of Oz.

"I won't melt either, then," Ron promised. He crooked his pinky and held it up, a gesture which Harry quickly mimicked and, hooking their pinky-fingers together, they made a pact.

"Speaking of Hermione," Harry said with a wicked grin.

"Stop it, Harry!!" Ron cried as his friend teased him. "I have to finish packing, it's the last day you know!"

"Your own fault for leaving it to the last minute. We finished exams last week." Ron jerked his chin up and returned to his work, ignoring Harry's laughter.

..........................

"Draco!" a familiar voice called, and Draco stopped walking and turned back to the front hall. The group was heading back from the Great Hall. It was a slow walk since it had been the Leaving Feast which meant the food had been beyond excellent and each had consumed more than their usual intake.

"Mum?" Draco asked, startled as he picked out the slender form of his mother waving at him and beckoning him over. "I'll see you when I back," Draco offered as the others nodded and resumed their slow trek.

When he reached his mother's side she embraced him and gave him a peck on the cheek. "Draco, luv, how have you been doing? Exams went well?"

"Not badly. What are you doing here?"

"Oh! I was just so excited to see you, and I have such wonderful news. Besides, graduation is tomorrow! I'm not that early," she smiled and, linking their arms, began to walk through the empty hallways. "I don't know my way around this place. Is there a nice room where we can talk?" she asked.

"Here," Draco gestured to one of the small languages classrooms. Shutting the door behind him, he settled down on a desk facing his mother. "What has happened?"

"Oh nothing to worry about," Narcissa dismissed. "I just wanted to see you. And to tell you that I've found a place for us. It's quite a lovely little home and it's quite close to the centre of London. I've got it all set-up so it will be ready for us. We're off as soon as you officially graduate."

"Wait, we – London? Now? I mean –"Draco bit his tongue. He was overwhelmed with a funny sense of déjà vu.

"Oh, I know you'll miss your friends. But, they can always come to visit us," Narcissa said, a hopeful smile on her face. Draco couldn't possible break her heart. He had been hoping that he could stay relatively close to the school, since, as usual, Harry was going to be alternating between the school and Black Manor. "It's not too horrible, is it?" she asked.

Draco sighed. He was being selfish. Just as his mother had pointed out, Harry could always come to visit, or Draco could venture up here to visit. But then, with work limiting their schedules, that was going to be difficult – but it was worth it, Draco decided. He would make the time because it was worth it. He and Harry had survived worse than distance.

"No, mum, it's not too terrible," he answered.

Narcissa beamed. "Now, tell me about the plans for the ceremony tomorrow. You have your clothes set out? I don't need to take anything in to town to be pressed?"

"No, mum, everything is set-out." It was sort of relief, in a way, to speak about the ceremony. It took his mind off of how he was going to tell Harry. They had never formally spoken about it, but it had always been understood that they wanted to spend as much time together as they could before they had to go their separate ways for university.

Draco sighed as he thought about it all. This was life, he supposed, and it was never simple. Draco supposed that this was a good thing, because it were simple, he was certain he might get bored with it. But still, he couldn't help wishing that he could have his own way on this point. It would be refreshing.

.........................

The ceremony was too long in Draco's opinion but he managed to survive it, running through everything his father had drilled into his head as a little boy about proper conduct and etiquette. So Draco sat, straight-backed, regal in his black robe, and managed to hide his frustration about being seated alphabetically and thus far away from any of his friends.

He sat, straight-backed and silent, as the headmaster spoke, and then as Minerva McGonagall spoke, even though the speeches were long-winded and dull.

He sat, straight-backed, mildly excited as one-by-one students were called forward by name to receive their certificates. He walked, tall and proud, but not openly showing his excitement, up to the front dais, shook hands with Albus Dumbledore and accepted his certificate with a small smile before returning to his seat.

He clapped when he was supposed to clap; he even nodded when a one of the many speakers said something that Draco assumed was meant to be particularly meaningful. But really, Draco just wanted to toss his hat in the air, and cheer and hug his friends and go crazy.

Instead, he sat, straight-backed and silent. Until, finally, the last speaker had spoken, and the last school song had been sung, and the last student had received their certificates.

And then, Draco rose from his seat, ripped the hat from his head, threw it in the air, and screamed, his exuberant voice joining those of his peers.

.........................

"Lucius?" Narcissa asked, stunned, as her progress through the shuffling crowds revealed a familiar figure.

"Hello, Narcissa," Lucius greeted.

"I – I wasn't expecting to see you here," she said, feeling flustered. "How have you been?"

"Fine, thank-you. And you?" he asked.

"Fine," she answered. They shared a moment of awkward silence. "Look at us, reduced to stilted pleasantries," she said, a laugh bubbling up in order to release the pressure. Lucius smiled softly and nodded. "He looked wonderful, didn't he?" she asked.

"Yes. Quite the young gentleman," Lucius agreed, both turning to watch Draco who was near the front of the room.

"I'm so very proud of him," Narcissa admitted. They watched for a moment as Draco laughed and joked with his friends. "He's done very well," she adds and watches closely to see Lucius' reaction.

"He has," Lucius agreed, and though his face was expressionless, his emotions are clear in his eyes. "I apologize, Narcissa," he added, though he does not quite look at her.

"You don't have to be. These things happen." Even if it hurt. Even if the pain felt fresh and she wanted to hold him close, remember why they married in the first place, remember the good times.

"It's for the best," Lucius scoffed.

"Whether it is, or not, it happened, and it was right," she corrected. The silence is not strained when it comes, instead it is oddly comforting. Even through such a strange conversation, Narcissa feels as if something has been returned to her. Maybe the healing had begun? She nearly laughed at the overdramatic thought. "Don't forget about him," she asked after they have stayed silent with each other for a while.

"I don't think I could, Narcissa."

"Good-bye, Lucius." She manages an honest smile.

"Good-bye, Narcissa," he replied and, however faint it was, her smile was returned.

........................

Ginny waited until the attention of most of the gang had been directed towards Blaise and Seamus, who were doing some strange impersonation which she did not care to interpret before she stepped forward, snatched Neville's arm and proceeded to drag him to a more quiet part of the hall.

"Ginny?" Neville asked, when he had gotten his bearings.

"I wanted to talk to you," she a said. "Before things get all chaotic with leaving and all that. I wanted to make sure that we had a moment, just us." Neville nodded, unsure what to say. "Nev ..." she let out a breath. "I know we spoke, earlier, about what would happen after this. I wanted to make sure, though, that we'd still be together. You know? That we'd keep in touch."

"Absolutely," Neville replied. He had no intention of growing apart from Ginny. "I promise to write, religiously," he added. He was rewarded with a bright smile and a chaste kiss.

"I promise too. I promise to write, religiously," she said, just to make it formal. "And you have to brave my siblings at least once and come to visit me."

"A-alright," Neville stammered, remembering the twins and the warning they had given him about hurting their one and only sister. They had used props. Neville had been very afraid.

"I'll miss you lots, and every day," she said.

"We're not separated yet," he said, and, taking her hand, guided her back to where the group had conglomerated. Much to Ginny's relief, Seamus and Blaise had ceased in their bizarre impersonation, and she wondered if she wanted to ask after what they had been doing. She decided she'd rather not know, smiling to herself.

........................

"Mrs. Malfoy," Severus greeted, and Narcissa turned around and smiled at him.

"Please, call me Narcissa," she invited.

"Congratulations are in order. You must be very proud of Draco," Severus commented.

"Yes, I am," Narcissa said, smiling brightly.

"Has he made plans for the upcoming year?"

"He's moving with me to London for the summer. And in September he starts at university. He's pursuing music, naturally."

"I'm glad to hear it. He's preparing for his audition then?" Severus questioned, recalling that the truly good universities always required several auditions. If Draco had been accepted, then he would likely audition to be placed in a certain class.

"Yes he is," Narcissa confirmed.

"If he requires any help in his preparations, I would be glad to offer my services," Severus said, withdrawing a card from his pocket. "This is my number, please feel free to call."

Narcissa accepted the card, glanced at the number and smiled. "I will," she said, feeling oddly like a young school girl.

"When do you plan to return to London?" Severus queried, after an awkward pause.

"Tonight. Draco has packed his things. We have to leave soon if we are to make the train. It doesn't give him much time to say his good-byes but I had difficulties arranging time away from work," Narcissa paused and seeing Severus' curious expression she smiled. "I'm an editor. I have a project I'm working on but I got some time away because I have been with the company for a long time."

"It must be very fascinating work."

"It is. I quite enjoy it. Oh dear," Narcissa exclaimed when she realized the time. "I should likely get Draco or we'll completely miss our train. It's a shame we found each other so late, I would have enjoyed a longer conversation," Narcissa admitted.

"Yes, perhaps we'll meet again," Severus offered.

"Yes," Narcissa agreed.

"Have a safe drive," Severus added. Before she left, he caught her hand and gave it a brief kiss.

........................

Draco wove through the crowds trying to find his way back to Harry and the others. He had spoken with his mother and, though it had taken a good deal of convincing, he had gotten her to agree to him taking a later train. He hadn't yet said good-bye to his friends, and that was something he was loathe to do.

He had just caught sight of his lover when someone grabbed his shoulder. Half-expecting one of his other friends of classmates, Draco turned around ready to make a smart remark, instead he blinked in shock as he came face-to-face with his father.

"Draco," Lucius greeted.

"Father," Draco answered, trying to get his bearings.

"Congratulations," Lucius said. "Your mother told me that you graduated near the top of your class."

"Yes," Draco confirmed. He wasn't sure exactly what he should say. He hadn't seen his father since the spring concert, and even then, no words had been exchanged. Lucius had seen Draco with Harry and had left abruptly. Draco wasn't quite sure how he had felt about that, and he was even more unsure what he felt now.

"I wanted to say that I am very proud of you," Lucius said. Draco was too stunned to reply. "And to give you this." Lucius withdrew a small key from his breast pocket. "You know what this is, of course?"

"Not exactly," Draco admitted, staring at the key.

"I thought certainly you would remember that decrepit instrument," Lucius said, almost to himself.

"The piano?" Draco asked, stunned. He most certainly did remember the white grand piano that his father had played when Draco was still very small.

"Well, I have no use for it, and I thought you might like to have it. When you find a place of your own, you will notify me, and I will have it shipped out to you," Lucius said. Draco stared at the small key which his father had placed into his awaiting hand, unable to formulate words.

When he finally looked up and spoke his thanks, he noticed that his father's eyes were directed elsewhere. When he turned to see what he was watching, Draco noticed Harry, who was laughing along with Deana and Seamus.

"You should really return to your friends," Lucius said. "And I have to go. I'm running quite late as it is," he said flippantly.

Draco nodded. "Thank-you," he said, offering a small smile before turning to head over to where Harry was.

"Draco," Lucius said, and Draco turned back. "One more thing." Lucius withdrew a small box from his inner pocket and held it out to Draco, who accepted it. Draco looked, from the box up to his father's face, and watched as Lucius flicked his eyes from where Harry stood, back to Draco. "Just in case," he offered with a small smile, before he turned around and disappeared into the crowds.

Stunned, Draco carefully opened the small box. Inside was a ring.. An elegant gold wedding band. The Malfoy ring.

......................

"I thought I'd lost you," Hermione said.

"You didn't, I just got bowled over by some bloke," Ron said.

Hermione smiled and interlaced their fingers together. "This way we won't get separated," she explained. Ron grinned. "I'm really nervous," she said.

"You've no reason to be. They'll love you to bits." They walked up to a small mob of people who all had a familiar shade of red-orange hair. "Mum, dad, I want to introduce you to Hermione Granger," Ron said before his mum could crush him in a hug.

"Oh!!" Molly cried. "It's so wonderful to finally meet you!" She scooped Hermione into a tight hug. When Hermione was released, Arthur shook her hand and smiled, sharing an understanding look. "Oh this is lovely!"

"Honestly, Ronnikins, where are your manners? You've nearly talked our ears off about her for months and you wait all this time before you introduce us?" Fred asked as he stepped forwards. He scooped Hermione's hand up and gave it a kiss.

"Ignore him," George said, stepping forward and shaking Hermione's hand. "He's the crazy one."

"I'm the crazy one? I thought you were the crazy one?" Fred asked, sounding genuinely confused.

"You're both nutters as far as I'm concerned. Here - you know Ginny," Ron said, and Hermione beamed and hugged the familiar red-headed girl. "And this is Percy, and Bill and this is Charlie," Ron introduced each of his other brothers who stepped forward and smiled and shook Hermione's hand.

"It's lovely of you to have come down for his graduation," Molly Weasley said.

"It was a promise we made," Ron stepped in. "To make sure we both made it to graduation. So Hermione's come down for mine. And at the end of the week, I'm going to hers."

"You were trying to make sure he did graduate, weren't you?" Ginny asked with a wicked grin. Hermione laughed.

"I'm not that bad!" Ron cried.

"Oh, stop bickering. Hermione, we have so much to talk about," Molly said, bustling over to Hermione and beginning to question her about her studies and how she was enjoying her school. Hermione was surprised to find that she felt right at home.

......................

"Where are your parents?" Pansy asked as she stepped over to Blaise's side. He was standing by himself near the refreshments table.

"They've left. I think the idea of being in the same county as the other got to be too much for them." Pansy frowned and kissed him. Blaise smiled at her attempt to console him and shrugged.

"Does that mean that you're all mine, to do with as I choose?" she asked. Blaise grinned, suddenly seeing the bright side to the situation.

"I guess it does," he said.

"Wonderful, come and meet my parents," she said, as she grabbed his arm and began to tug him through the crowds.

"That wasn't exactly what I was expecting."

"No, I doubt it was. But I can't exactly let them stand all alone over there. And I'm certainly not going to leave you by yourself over here. This is my compromise." She dragged him over to where a tall man clad in a blue suit, and a slender woman in a pale grey dress stood. "Mum, dad, may I introduce Blaise Zabini."

"Ah, Blaise. It's lovely to have a face to put to the name," Mrs. Parkinson said, smirking slightly at her daughter, who rolled her eyes good-naturedly back.

"It's a pleasure to meet you," Blaise said as he shook her hand. "And you, sir," he said as Mr. Parkinson grasped his hand.

"Wonderful to meet a youth with respectable manners," Mr. Parkinson exclaimed.

"Richard!" Mrs. Parkinson said, just as Pansy said "Dad!".

"What are your plans for the summer, young man?" Mr. Parkinson asked, as mother and daughter shared a long-suffering look.

"I'm working this summer, up in Wiltshire, sir," Blaise answered.

"Wiltshire?" Mrs. Parkinson exclaimed. "Well, then you must visit us, we live in Wiltshire. What a lovely coincidence."

"I would enjoy that," Blaise agreed, trying to ignore Pansy's stunned expression.

"Blaise, where are you mother and father? I would love to meet them," Mrs. Parkinson said.

"They had to work," Blaise lied easily.

"What a shame. Well, you must accompany us to dinner, then. We're having a small celebratory feast."

"I would enjoy that," Blaise agreed. Mrs. Parkinson began to speak about the restaurant they were heading to, and they began manoeuvring through the crowd.

"You never told me you were working in Wiltshire!" Pansy whispered furiously.

"It was supposed to be a surprise," Blaise said with an innocent smile. It had nothing to do with coincidence. Blaise knew where Pansy lived. He had decided he was going to move out, and was surprised when both his parents (separately, of course) offered to support him while he 'settled in'. Blaise chose a place and a job that were as close to Pansy as he could get.

"Well, I am surprised. In fact, you never cease surprising me," Pansy said.

"Good," Blaise retorted. "Then I'm happy."

.....................

"This totally bites!" Seamus exclaimed as he entered into the common room where his bags were, and found that the others were already there. "This is the last time we're going to be in here! I'm going to miss this!" he said. "I mean, as much as I complained about life here, I really am going to miss it," he said.

"We're facing similar realizations," Blaise offered dryly. Everyone was lounging on the couches and not making any move to grab their luggage and go.

"Well, we'll all keep in touch," Ron offered, running over the conversation he and Harry had had when they had been packing.

"'Course, but things will still be different," Seamus complained.

"Change is good," Neville offered.

"Bollocks," Seamus replied bitterly.

"Don't be a wanker. Anyway, I've put this off as long as I possibly can. My parents are probably about to set the dogs out after me," Dean said, dragging himself from the couch. "Everyone haul your arses up and lets say good-bye."

Slowly, everyone complied. "This seems a lot more final than it ought to be," Dean noted, as he picked up his bags.

"That's because it is!" Seamus whinged.

"We're not dropping off the other side of the world, Seamus," Harry said.

"I know but – damn, this sucks, is all," Seamus offered. Harry rolled his eyes but embraced the Irish boy. "You staying here?" Seamus asked.

"Yeah. I'm working here over the summer," Harry answered. "See you, Dean," Harry said as the other boy headed towards the door.

"You'd better," Dean responded.

"If you don't keep in touch with me, I will break you legs," Blaise warned Harry.

"Well, that's good incentive, then," Harry mused. It felt strange to be saying good-bye to everyone. It did feel final, even though it certainly wasn't.

"You'll come and visit?" Ron clarified. "My mum's already started planning her meals for it. She's still hell-bent on fattening you up."

"She can try all she likes. If it hasn't worked yet, then I'm doubtful it ever will," Harry joked. Reluctantly, everyone began to exit the room, toting their bags.

It was so quiet and empty in the section.

"Don't think about it," Draco said, as he stepped up behind Harry and embraced him. "It really isn't as final as it seems."

"I really hope you're right," Harry said.

.....................

Draco tossed his bag into the back of Harry's truck and turned back to look at the school. It felt strange. He had spent a bit less than a full school year there, since he had arrived late, but still, it felt more like home than any place Draco had known before it. And now he was leaving it.

He tried to imprint the memory of it in his mind. With a reluctant sigh, Draco turned his back on his old school, opening the door to the passenger seat and then shut the door. It felt like some great feat he had accomplished. He turned and looked at Harry who was watching him with an understanding look. Perhaps Harry was the only one who could understand it so well. After all, the school had literally become Harry's second home. It must hurt him just as much to imagine leaving it come September.

"Ready?" Harry asked in a quiet voice.

"Yes," Draco answered. He watched the side mirror as the pulled down the long driveway. "I never thought I would like any place so much that I'd have such a hard time leaving it," he admitted. Harry smiled at him but didn't say anything.

They drove in silence for a bit, and then distracted themselves from sombre thoughts with loud music and banter. By the time Harry pulled into the train station, both of them felt comfortable with the knowledge that they would see each other again.

The train station, though, brought out their immediate concern, which was being separated. It was a selfish thought, and it was one they had each had before. "I'll come in with you," Harry said as he followed Draco to the trunk where Draco retried his bag.

"Thanks, and thanks for driving me out," Draco said, mentally smacking himself in the head. Harry grinned and rolled his eyes, acknowledging the silliness of this. They walked into the busy train station and found Draco's platform where the train was already being boarded.

They stood for a moment, simply watching the train, neither one wanting to acknowledge that now was the time to part. Finally, realizing that it was rapidly nearing the time for the train to depart, Draco turned to Harry and opened his only to be stopped as the dark-haired boy leaned forward and pressed a heated kiss to his lips.

"Don't say good-bye," Harry requested, when they parted for breath.

After that kiss, Draco would have agreed to anything. "Okay," he answered, and was rewarded with an amused smile from his lover. "Then, I'll see you later," Draco said instead. Harry grinned, and Draco couldn't resist another quick kiss.

The train's whistle blew and Harry broke the kiss, gesturing for Draco to go. With a small smile at his lover, Draco turned and boarded the train.

......................

Harry stood on the platform and searched the windows for a sign of his lover, but he couldn't see him. The whistle sounded again and Harry sighed. He reminded himself that Draco was right; none of this was as final as it seemed.

With another glance at the train, which had begun to creep forward, Harry turned and walked out of the building and back to his car. He drove home in silence, wanting time to think and to let everything sink in. There would undoubtedly be a lot of changes coming, he hoped he was strong enough to face them all, but for the first time in a long time, he actually believed in his own strength. It was a good feeling.

When he arrived back at the school, it was getting late, and the students had all left. Harry thought that he should find Sirius and see if he needed help clearing up and closing his classroom, but he wasn't quite ready to relinquish his solitude. Instead, Harry found himself heading back to the section; he and Sirius had decided to spend one more night at the school before heading back to the Manor.

Without thinking, he picked up Komm Susser Tod's case and headed back out of Hart hall. He followed his feet back to conservatory. He only wanted to play and be lost in sweet lull of the music and not think about anything.

He climbed the stairs to the stage and methodically unpacked his violin and bow from the case. Not bothering with music, Harry played the first song that came into his mind and out through his fingers. Quite fittingly, it was Vivaldi's Largo movement to Winter.

Harry let his eyes close and let emotions float through him. It was bittersweet. Each happy memory was countered by the thought of the unknown which loomed ahead. It didn't matter what anyone said, things were going to change. It was inevitable, and Harry wasn't against it. But still, there were things that he wished could remain the same forever.

At school, he was with his friends, caught somewhere just on the outskirts of the real world, where he didn't have to worry about money or responsibilities. At school, there was only schoolwork, and friendships and love and music. He didn't have to worry about what he was planning to do with himself, it seemed clear. Now, everything was muddled and confused. No matter what he had counselled Ron earlier, he worried that they would each drift apart. It was inevitable. They would have their own experiences with other friends from their universities, and there would be less and less that they had in common with each other, until it just seemed like all they did was sit around and recount their high school days. Which would just be pathetic. And so they wouldn't bother to get together anymore.

He poured out his sadness and his hopes and fears into his violin and listened to her sing. Her voice echoed off the walls of the conservatory and came back to him, wrapped around him like a blanket and he felt safe. Settled. Because, in the end, no matter what happened in the future, or where they ended up or whether they all remained friends or not, what counted was that they had those memories, and no matter what, the memories would always make Harry feel happy again.

He brought the piece to a gentle close, feeling somewhat better, and was surprised when he noticed Sirius standing at the foot of the stage, with an odd expression on his face. Harry didn't say anything, just lowered his bow and violin to his side. Sirius smiled at him in an understanding way. "Lets go home now," Sirius said, and even if they had made plans to stay an extra night, Harry had to agree with his uncle.

He packed Susser away and stepped down off the stage, his uncle fell into step beside him and, as they headed out of the conservatory, Sirius threw an arm around his shoulders. Harry smiled up at his uncle, who simply ruffled his hair. Harry didn't need to say anything. Sirius understood. He always did.

.....................

It was two weeks after graduation and Harry was back in the conservatory. He had a lot to think about, and though Sirius had done his best to keep him occupied with creating lesson plans and arranging the classroom and creating some of the teaching aids which Sirius would need for certain lessons. But he had been distracted and finally Sirius had ordered him to take a break.

Naturally, Harry had grabbed Susser and trekked to the conservatory. Harry always brought her when he returned to the school, there were always times when he would have nothing to do, or one of his professors would ask him to play a piece, or Harry would simply get the urge to play.

Now, as he stood on the stage in the conservatory, Harry imagined that he could hear his mother's piano accompaniment begin, and, feeling wistful, he set into Gluck's Melodie. It felt wonderful to let loose into the notes. Each time he played it was like returning home. Except this was a home that you couldn't really leave, not completely.

Harry remembered his lessons as a child, when he had begun learning more complex pieces on the violin, and his teacher. Trysha Baumer would give almost running-commentary as he played, encouraging him to lean in to an upcoming note, to relax, to trust his fingers. It had frustrated him as a child, but Harry had grown to love it. Miss Baumer was never demanding, never scolded him if he didn't quite make the stretch for a certain note. And even as Harry himself would berate himself for not quite hitting the note, she would remind him that his fingers were still growing, and when this excuse was unsatisfactory to Harry, as it so often was, she would hand him a stress ball and tell him that when he wasn't practicing, he should use it, on both hands, because it would make them stronger, and then he could reach the notes.

Harry still carried a stress ball with him.

As he played, still imagining the accompaniment, he let the piece be what it wanted to be. It was a living thing, wistfully recounting fond memories of people who lost, and radiating love for those who had touched it, in any small way, and helped it grow.

He abruptly cut-off, however, when he realized that sometime between when he had started to play and now, the accompaniment which he had been imagining had become very real.

Harry frowned into the wings of the stage and was immediately confronted by a familiar pair of grey eyes. Hastily, he set his violin into its case before he dropped it. "What are you doing here?" he asked, as Draco grinned and stepped away from the small piano that had been left there after the spring concert.

"I had an epiphany," Draco said. Harry crossed his arms and looked doubtful. "You don't want to know what it was?" Draco teased.

Harry stood quietly for a moment, and then let out a breath, uncrossing his arms and pulling Draco into a tight hug. "No, I don't want to hear it. Not quite yet," Harry said, as he took a deep breath and inhaled Draco's unique scent of old spice and vanilla. He smiled as he felt Draco's arms rap around him.

They stood there for uncounted minutes, until, finally, Harry looked up and smiled a little. "Okay,'' he said softly. "What was your epiphany?" Harry asked. Draco smirked and kissed Harry, a chaste touch of lips that made Harry sigh in perfect contentment.

"I'm not Wendy," Draco stated and, for a moment, Harry was at a loss, before remembering their conversation months ago while choosing a movie to while away the hours.

"And you have no idea how relieved I am to hear that," Harry teased, before he pulled Draco down into a leisurely open-mouth kiss full of promise, and Harry decided he very much liked what it was promising.

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The End

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Sorry about the sap ending. I hope you enjoyed this fic. I still can't believe it's over!! I want to thank everyone who took the time to review, I really appreciate it, especially those of you who wrote long ones, and wrote them faithfully for each chapter!! I wish I could thank each of you separately! Anyway, I hope that some of you will check out the sequel.

Note: Okay. Here's what's going to be happening in the near future. I'm going back and editing this fic up, resposting each chapter with minor changes and such. Expect the first chapter of the sequel out by mid-November.

This chapter, (the final chapter!!) Is dedicated to Angelic Candy for all the wonderful reviews.

AND

Belle, for the long and faithful reviews!

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TEASER FOR THE SEQUEL:

THE ART AND PRACTICE OF ABSOLUTE PITCH

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"You had a fight?" Draco asked ruefully.

Ron handed him the tea and then settled down on the opposite sofa. "I expect I'll be hearing from Harry, next," Ron replied with a resigned sigh.

"Probably," Draco said with a grin.

"How was the concert?" Ron asked.

"Same old crap. Different setting," Draco replied, waving his hand dismissively. He frowned suspiciously when Ron leaned forward with a conspiratorial expression.

"Have you given any thought to what you were mentioning earlier? You know, that thing you mentioned," Ron asked. Draco looked away from the curious redhead and pretended not to have heard. "Oh, come on!" Ron shouted.

"We'll see," Draco answered, cryptically. Ron was opening his mouth to press onward but the front door opened and Harry called out.

"In here, Har!" Ron replied. Draco quirked an eyebrow as the dark-haired man stepped into the living room.

"Draco," Harry said, a smile splitting his face. He checked his watch. "You're early," he scolded.

"Couldn't be helped. I found myself pining away in your absence," Draco teased, flopping back onto the couch and pretending to be pining.

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