Author's Note: Well, this is the end. In all honesty I never thought I would finish this story. Amazing what the end of a series can do to you and what inspiration it can, well, inspire! I seriously also wouldn't have gotten it done this summer without my friend. She knows who she is, but likes to go unnamed. But she lit the fire of Harry Potter beneath me until it burned! Also, as this is the last chapter I would love if you could review to tell me what you thought of the story, in the end. This may not be the end of Harry Potter fanfiction for me, but come this Friday the world as we know it shall change. Let us meet this finale bravely and with heart!
The party was being held in the newly renovated Ministry of Magic. Given the erratic nature of the war, the building had sadly fallen into disrepair--paint peeling, windows (despite its underground location) needing replacing, as well as hoards of other problems. Therefore, with the onset of peace, the Wizarding community at last had time to devote to revitalizing the Ministry--as well as Diagon Alley, which had sadly seen better days.
For the evening, the main atrium was glittering and sparkling--not just from the fairies floating about, but also from the fresh paint, glass, and flooring. Although true spring was still a month away, the Ministry had chosen to decorate with heaps of flowers, from small snow drops, to lilies and tulips.
"A rebirth, after all," Mr. Weasley had pointed out as their procession arrived, "No better time to celebrate like the present."
Everyone beamed at this thought, even Harry--who normally would have found this floral display a little over the top. Tugging at the black turtle neck under his blazer, he looked around the room a little anxiously, as though he was looking for someone.
Casually, Hermione whispered in Ron's ear, "Promise me our wedding won't look like this."
Ron burst out laughing, his voice echoing off the high ceilings.
Harry grinned as well. He hoped that their wedding--which was a little over a month away, wouldn't look much like this either. Still, the decorating effect was rather nice…invigorating and hospitable, rather than formal and domineering (something Harry usually associated with the Ministry anyways.) He had been here on and off during the war, but it still held memories of his trial during fifth year and the events that followed in the Department of Mysteries.
"How are you feeling?" Ron asked when Hermione had gone off to say hello to some friends.
"I'm alright," Harry grinned warily, "And I have been for a month now--,"
"I know, but, you know…" Ron trailed off, unbuttoning his shirt a bit, "You went through a lot."
"That wasn't the tune you were singing when you forced me to play Quidditch with you last week."
"Yeah, well, when was the last time we played?"
That was true. When was the last time they had played? Sixth year, really…that seemed so long ago.
"Still." Harry continued pressing the point with a small shrug, "I wouldn't have gone to that salsa club last week if I wasn't feeling alright, would I?"
Ron snorted. For some reason he still found the idea of a salsa club rather ridiculous. Harry just ignored him as he privately knew Ron was jealous for his superior dancing abilities. Or at least, that was what he liked to believe.
"You are stubborn though, you know."
Harry just snorted. Ron, calling him stubborn?
Hermione arrived back then, cutting off further talks of stubbornness and health. Hermione, unlike her fiancé, believed Harry to be fine. After all, she had made friends with many of the Medi-Witches who visited Hogwarts over the years, and was able to hear the "truth" about Harry's condition.
And fully recovered was just that.
"Stop arguing you two."
"How did you know we were arguing?"
"Because you always furrow your eyebrows together." Hermione said with a knowing smile, sipping some punch.
"Yes, Ron. You do." Harry nodded, fighting back a snicker.
"Rather cute, really." Hermione said, pecking him on the cheek.
Harry, finding his throat was rather dry after having eaten some of the salty snacks they had lying about asked, "Where'd you get the drink, 'Mione?"
"Oh. Over there." She pointed across the room to where the punch bowl was obstructed by a few witches and wizards milling about.
"Want anything, Ron?"
"Just punch, I guess." Ron answered.
Harry left the two and walked across the room. Once he was out of earshot, Hermione asked Ron, "Do you think he knows Draco is coming?"
Ron shrugged, "I guess so. I mean, why wouldn't he? I'm sure he's thought about it. Harry always thinks about him."
Hermione said nothing. This was, after all, quite true.
Ron looked grumpy, "Rather annoying really."
Hermione patted him on the shoulder, but asked nonetheless, "You sure you are okay with it, then?"
"What? Him and Draco?" The name of his once-rival still stuck on his tongue awkwardly.
"I guess so." He answered, shrugging again, "I mean… if anything I just want them to get together, damn it."
Hermione opened her mouth to say something, but Ron cut her off.
"Or, at least see each other again so we can move onto the next phase. Harry's really boring to be around when he is mopey."
This seemed more appropriate, and Hermione just sipped her drink for a bit. Hermione didn't know the half of it--having been posted at Hogwarts much of the time. Being cooped up inside, combating with a sexually frustrated life had left both boys rather tense. At least, Ron supposed, he had Hermione--that was to say, they were engaged. Where as Harry locked himself away in his mind, torturing himself with what ifs.
"He's not a bad guy, really--," Hermione chided, continuing the subject of Draco.
"I know, it's just--,"
"History. It's in the past, Ron. He's different now."
Memories of all those scuffles and insults in the hall were slowly fading for Ron, but still it was hard to write off someone you had formerly loathed.
"Still…" Ron sulked. He didn't like talking about Harry and Draco's not-so elicit affair. After Hermione and he had pieced it together during the second year of the war, when Ron had found a stack of letters addressed to Malfoy and Hermione had "talked" to Draco about it, the two were anxious for them to meet again.
"At least so we can be friends." Hermione said primly.
Ron just snorted. "He's okay, I guess…if you like rich, upper-class Purebloods."
"Well, I'm sure he feels the same about you." Hermione retorted, rolling her eyes.
Music had begun to tinkle from somewhere and people bustled around the couple.
"If only he hadn't gone to France…" Hermione continued, with her "muddled" look on her face she usually only reserved for particularly difficult spells.
"I know!" Ron spat rather annoyed, "When we had finally convinced Harry to come visit you at Hogwarts and everything…"
Ron was sure Draco had known that Harry was to be visiting soon, and that was why he had decided on the offered position so quickly.
"Well, all we can do is wait." Hermione said, smoothing out her dress and hooking her arms with Ron, "Come on, let's dance."
"But what about the punch? He'll be back in a mo'."
"We'll still be here."
Ron would have preferred punch-drinking to dancing, but he decided to keep his mouth shut. The two stepped out onto the floor, and holding each other gently, began to dance.
After a while, Ron decided it wasn't so bad after all.
It had taken Harry a lot longer to get over to the punch bowl than he had planned. Literally everyone in the Wizarding world seemed to be there, so that meant saying hello and chatting with quite a few of them. It took twenty minutes to cross the span of five meters, and when he finally arrived he thought he had well deserved his punch.
But he wasn't going to go out there again so soon. He didn't want to face the countless strangers who insisted on talking to him--just so they could say they talked to the Boy-Who-Lived-and-Killed-Voldemort. Grabbing his cup, Harry ducked out of sight and into a nearby room that seemed to have been converted into a small café. It was empty and dark now, but the tables and chairs were still out.
Sitting himself at one, Harry sipped at the punch, allowing the cold beverage to trickle down his throat.
"Couldn't stand them either?" a subdue voice asked from behind him.
Harry turned about, realizing for the first time he wasn't alone in the room. Someone else was seated in the shadow where the magiced moonlight did not fall.
If the stranger could have seen Harry properly, he would have seen his smile as he answered, "I suppose not."
The voice did not reply at this for a few moments. Harry heard the tinkle of ice cubes and presumed the person was drinking their own beverage. He had just turned back around when the voice asked again.
"Mind if I join you?"
Harry supposed that he didn't. The person seemed sensitive enough to the fact that large crowds did not agree with him. Then again, being alone didn't either.
The man stood up and walked across the short distance that separated them, each footstep echoing in the empty room. Harry counted about eleven footsteps in total.
The person rounded on him now, taking the seat opposite. As he did so, he murmured, "Lumos."
His face burst into light.
The two looked at each other, both their eyes widening. Yet neither said anything. Instead, Draco pulled out the chair and seated himself gracefully.
"Doesn't surprise me."
Harry relaxed for a moment, letting him listen to Draco's voice. It had grown pleasantly deeper since they last had seen each other. It was still the same in essentials, yet something had changed--it was more mature and inevitably more refined. At length, as though waking himself up, he asked.
Draco smirked, his smirk still the same though his face had also grown up in the years they had been apart.
"The famous Harry Potter doesn't like to be around crowds."
Harry shrugged, sipping the punch.
"I never thought you were big on them either."
Draco lifted his glass.
"Cheers to that."
The two were silent a moment longer, each of them stealing glances at the other--seeing how each had changed over the five plus odd years they had been apart. Each had grown taller, although when standing Draco was a good three centimeters higher than Harry. Both had grown out their hair to a more fashionable and not-so-school boy-ish look. They had trimmed up in their own way, although constant physical exercises as training had expedited the progress, to be sure. Yet both also had a slight pinched look, like someone who had just recovered after a serious illness.
At this point, Harry was unaware that Draco had even been injured.
At length, Draco asked, "Hermione and Wea-Ron here too?"
"When did you start calling her by her first name?"
Draco rolled his eyes, still smirking, "Have you forgotten we worked in Hogwarts for two years?"
"Oh. Yeah. Right." Harry said, feeling rather dumb, "But still, it doesn't seem very like you, you know…"
"Yes, well, people change…you're not Potter, or scar-face any more, are you?"
"And you're not Malfoy."
Each were grinning at each other. It seemed like old times, these banters.
"Listen." Harry started, rising from his seat a bit and leaning over the table--the wand-light glowing on his features, "Why didn't you write me?"
"Your bluntness hasn't changed." He said, softly. He didn't look amused by it now.
"No." Harry managed.
Draco flushed and looked away from the wand-light, "I can ask you the same question."
Harry sank back into the seat.
"Truthfully," Harry began slowly, as though saying this was quite painful, "I was embarrassed…and unsure."
Draco's eyes narrowed and he looked up meeting Harry's green. "Why?"
"Why?" Harry laughed anxiously at that, "Because we were only seventeen! And I didn't know if what we had was real or not."
Draco opened his mouth, but Harry cut in, continuing: "I mean, it was real to me…but I didn't know about you. You had after all, had so much more experience then me. I didn't know if I was that important--or if I would be important after the war was over. Plus, we never went out or anything like that…if I had written those letters it would be like fanning a spark that might not catch…"
Harry paused, sipped his drink, and, "I couldn't meet with you face to face. Not then."
"Yes, everything had hit the fan, so to speak." Draco commented, his eyes downcast.
That bloody war.
"I…I just didn't know…how you felt about it. In the end, that is."
Draco remained silent, looking at Harry across the table.
"I've got a whole box full of letters, if you want to see them." Harry flushed, turning pink, "You never got my letters but I wrote them."
Draco laughed allowed at this.
"Brilliant. Sometimes you are brilliant, Harry!"
"What?!" He seethed.
"You tell me this long, dramatic story--making me feel like shit, mind you--and then you tell me you have written me unsent letters!"
"Well, I did."
Draco continued to laugh. "No. I know you did. That is something you would do."
Harry just looked mildly annoyed and embarrassed.
"What about you then?" he sneered. "What's your excuse?"
Draco's laughing calmed.
"None so honorable. At least you had a moderately decent reason--hell, I don't know if I would have trusted my seventeen year old self. I don't despise you for that."
"Then what then? Why didn't you write? It's not like there was a lack of time there. 'Mione's told me how boring it got there, sometimes."
"Yeah, well," Draco shrugged nonchalantly, "It did get boring. A lot. One can only train so much. I'm sure it was worse for her too, as she seems to learn spells instantaneously."
Harry snorted. That was true.
"But, in all honesty…" Draco began, somewhat hesitant. His voice had lost its characteristic edge. "I was ashamed."
"Of what?" Harry asked. Then, a horrid thought occurred to him, "Of us?"
"No. Not us. I got over the whole being gay bit a while ago. I also got over the initial embarrassment that I liked my arch-enemy back at the end of fifth year."
"Well, then, what?" Harry pressed, trying to not let the things Draco was saying go to his heart.
"Harry, you don't understand. You come from a family who was loved, in general, by most people. Your family was popular and everyone was sad to see them die. But my family? My family? Merlin! The Prophet threw a field day when my dad was thrown in jail! And, granted, they weren't having parades in the street when my mum killed herself--but you have no idea how hard it is, being, well, me."
"But I do--,"
"No. You don't. Even when everyone hated you, thought you were crazy, you were still The-Boy-Who-Lived. Not me. I'll always be Draco Malfoy, the son of a Death Eater."
"Dumbledore trusted you."
"Yeah, well he's dead."
He had died at the end of the fourth year of the war, very oddly, of natural causes.
"And I trust you. I still do, despite the fact we haven't talked to each other."
"Well," Draco said, sniffing (it was rather cold in the room) "I'm okay now--now that I have proven I'm not going to go betray any of the Order. But I wasn't okay back than. You see why I had to get away, don't you?"
Harry supposed he could see it. Still, he would have preferred to have received letters from Draco nonetheless.
"I could have helped you, you know…"
Draco smiled softly, "I know. But I wanted to do it on my own."
Harry was sure he did. Slytherin's were never ones to ask for help.
"Well. Now what?" Harry asked. His drink was gone and lay abandoned on the table.
Draco stood up as well, mumbling Nox under his breath.
"There's only one thing left to do." He replied, his form highlighted in familiar moonlight.
He looked down at Harry, his features soft--like the night they had been at the New Years party. There was something gentle and hesitant about them.
Harry took this as a good sign.
"Make up for the past five odd years."
Harry laughed at that, but at once was immensely relieved. It was as though someone was shouting, You're not insane for hoping! You're not insane!
"You mean…" Harry faltered, still sitting--looking up incredulously at the person standing above him.
"I mean, Potter, that if you're interested, so am I."
Interested was certainly an understatement. Harry could have laughed himself silly.
"You mean that?" Harry asked, hoisting himself to his feet--and realizing his was a bit shorter than Draco.
His formal rival looked Harry up and down, and at last their eyes met.
"'Course I do. Malfoy's may be proud…but we also know what we want, and go after it."
Harry leaned forward, the fabric of their clothes just touching. Draco's eyes flitted from Harry's face, down to his lips, back to his eyes, then down to his lips…
Whispering in Draco's ear, "Let's pick up where we left off, then…"
An eyebrow rose. That certainly sounded like an intriguing offer.
"Where was that?"
"That was when you had at last decided to let me lead." Harry said, rather smugly as he leaned in, slowly unbuttoning Draco's grey collared shirt.
Draco seemed rather intrigued, although he really would have to get this idea out of Harry's head--this whole "leading" business seemed absurd, sometimes.
"I've got no objections to that." Draco replied amiably, enjoying the warmth that radiated off of Harry.
"Though…" he continued, "I think we should test our skills. Our dance skills, that is."
Harry tried to hide his annoyance. And Draco called him dense? Obviously he had not been talking about dancing.
Of course, Draco knew that, but he always liked to poke fun at Potter. It used to be one of his favorite pastimes.
From out in the atrium, the music had changed from a cheesy-slow waltz (which Ron and Hermione had just finished dancing, looking quite the young, love-sick couple) to a more upbeat salsa.
Draco laughed at this, "You were never good at Latin dances."
"Hey, I've improved though!" Harry countered, thinking back to the salsa club last week. He had been quite popular with all those ladies.
"I'll be the judge of that." Draco winked as he linked arms with Harry and walked towards the chunk of light spattering on the floor. The next moment the dark quiet of the café faded away and once again they were back amongst the crowd, milling together, chatting, snacking, and in some cases on their way to getting sloshed.
Harry remained silent. They were going to dance. Together. He felt sick in a terribly wonderful way--as though some switch had been flicked on inside of him. He had been dark, those five years. He had been black and white, and now he was moving into Technicolor again.
Harry laughed aloud, a relieved, happy, and sad laugh. He was still laughing when they stepped out onto the dance floor. Magiced flowers literally bloomed beneath their feet.
"Some decorations," Draco murmured in Harry's ear. "Looks like they got advice from Umbridge."
The music continued to blare from the goblin band, which were decked out in cheerful red robes this evening. The music was bright, loud and vibrant just as salsa should be.
"You're going to dance salsa then?" Draco questioned, almost like a taunt the two used to reserve for the Quidditch pitch.
"Yeah, I am," Harry smirked. Draco smirked in turn.
"And," Harry added, "I'm going to lead you like never before."
With that, Harry quickly wrapped his arms around Draco--indicating that he was the lead. Draco did not resist, though with his spare hand he tucked a piece of Harry's hair behind his ears. Unlike the times before where Harry could have sworn he saw a trace of affection surface briefly in his eyes, this time it seemed to pool and gather.
Draco's smirk turned into a grin, "You're on then, Potter."
The music picked up, a fast-paced blend of drums, trumpet and Latin beats blending together as one into something spicy, exciting, and ultimately seductive. Salsa was different from what the two had previously danced--neither grand like the Viennese, nor dark and seductive like the Tango--it represented a freedom, and sense of carefree the two had lacked.
Instead of focusing intently on the moves, or trying to capture lust the two were simply smiling, and laughing at each other and dancing in whatever way they desired, free form and loose. It was as though they had jumped back in time, as though the war had never happened, as though they had never been enemies.
Needless to say, their superior dancing attracted quite a bit of attention. The dance floor was sparsely populated, but it seemed like it was only them dancing, alone again in the moonlit Room of Requirement.
"My word," Cornelius Fudge choked as he sipped his Firewhiskey, "Is that Harry Potter? When did he learn to dance?"
"And with Draco Malfoy?" an incredulous Romelda Vane asked from behind.
The crowd looked on, rather awestruck as the two twirled faster and faster, weaving in and out of each other, hugging at one moment then the next breaking away. Some people were amused, two boys dancing? Others were shocked--Harry Potter? Then some were disgusted--that damn Draco Malfoy, after all. Finally, though, there were those like Ron and Hermione and a few others who were merely happy to see their best friend smiling so sincerely.
And Harry was not only dancing, but dancing extraordinarily well. With Draco Malfoy, no doubt!
"Wow, I guess I shouldn't tease Harry about going to that salsa club." Ron chortled, sipping Hermione's punch.
Turning on her fiancé, she questioned, "What? You teased him? Why? I think it's brilliant!"
Ron just silently rolled his eyes.
"In fact!" She continued airily, "I've signed us up for some Muggle lessons starting next week. I won't have you stepping on my feet at our wedding!"
At that, Ron promptly began to argue--a feat which caused the two of them to miss the very exciting finale which caused the crowd to burst into applause. The two boys, sweaty, but smiling, bowed slightly.
"I guess this is our dancing debut, eh, Harry?" Draco said sarcastically as he lead him quickly off the dance floor and out of the prying eyes and the people who were about to ambush them with compliments and questions. Romelda Vane in particular, who still carried a little flame for Harry. She had completely decided to ignore the rumors of his "questionable sexuality."
But the crowd eventually caught up with them, even though they had retreated as far as they could back into the café--hoping that people would take a hint that they wanted some privacy. They had many compliments ("Such superb form!") and questions ("Are you two dance partners?") and the like.
At last, a half an hour later, the two had managed to shoo off the remaining herd of people--convincing them that there were tasty snacks and beverages they were surely missing out on if they talked to them.
The second they were alone, Draco turned towards Harry.
"At last," he growled, stepping close, "I can do what I've been wanting to do for the last hour."
Harry stepped forward as well. He could have forgone dancing--even though it had been brilliant--all he wanted to do was what Draco was about to do to him.
Kiss him, of course.
The last kiss they had shared had been brief and bitter, framed by the afterglow of the fireworks off in the distance. Now, wrapped in the grey light of the café, the two held each other close, passionately and tenderly. Their lips met, hesitant, almost shy at first. Draco nibbled the edges of the lower lip tentatively--remembering the flavor of Harry. For his part, Harry wrapped his fingers about Draco's face, pulling him closer and deeper into his mouth. They broke away when Draco let out an uncharacteristic moan, murmuring Harry's name.
They looked, studying their faces in the dim light, remembering the series of events that had brought them together.
Suddenly, Draco wrapped his arms quickly through Harry's and said, "Enough of this."
"Wha--?" Harry questioned, slightly confused. He thought they had been getting on quite well.
Draco said nothing, put pushed him forward back toward the atrium. A few moments later, he asked,
"Which will it be? My place or yours?"
Harry paused, staring at Draco. He was now backlit by the brilliant light pouring in, and although his features were somewhat unclear and blurred his eyes glowed like black garnets in the light.
Draco smirked, and continued to lead Harry on, "Well then, let's get going. I've waited for you long enough."
Harry, for his part, couldn't agree more.
The two left, not even bothering to grab their coats or wish their friends good bye.
It was only chance that Ron and Hermione saw the two of them, practically sprinting towards the elevator--Draco once again in the lead, Harry following close behind...