Disclaimer: So not mine.
Warnings: Slash, melodrama
Rights of Passage
At the time I was lonely. So lonely that I let it justify everything for me. My actions, my words, my feelings. It doesn't matter, I'd tell myself, it's just because I'm alone. And that's when he said those words.
"Hey Harry," he said as we perched on the edge of the Astronomy Tower at sunset in our tattered school uniforms. Lovers had long since given up using the decimated building for their trysts, death hung thick in the air around the tower, memories of the past and happier times were overshadowed by its looming presence. "Harry, do you want to die together?"
I was taken aback by his forwardness. We both knew the other had entertained ideas of what it might be like to not have to worry about the world falling apart around us – maybe with a family, maybe dead, but away from Hogwarts. Far away.
"You're not scared," I said flatly, sounding far calmer then I felt.
"That's right," he agreed, silver gray eyes fixed on the horizon. "What about you, are you scared?"
I stood in silence and waited for him to continue, Malfoy never knew when to shut up.
His eyes – mesmerizing eyes – had a far away look in them and he smiled sadly to himself. "I'll be alright," he murmured. "I'll just… become lighter then usual and float away."
Away was a promise. Every one at this new, harsher Hogwarts prayed for away, worshiping the ideal as our God – we had to or we'd give up hope, succumb to the siege that had held us prisoner for two long years.
"I'm right here," he said, walking to me and tangling my fingers with his own. "I'm here and you're here… for me. If you're here I'll be okay, right?" Draco looked into my eyes and I realized what he was asking. What he wanted from me.
I wasn't sure I was prepared to give that, even to my best and only friend.
A week later the conversation on the Astronomy Tower roof was the farthest thing from my mind as I moaned and sat down on a chair in the Hospital Wing. "Madame Pomfrey, my head hurts!" I groaned.
Madame Pomfrey was had been a student at Hogwarts, like the rest of us, and even though she was a nice person she was what we all dreaded becoming. She was trapped within the walls of Hogwarts, hadn't left the building since her seventh year. She might not have seen it that way – the war she'd experienced had been over without her being trapped in any building for years – but we saw a woman who'd lived in the same place for forty- three years of her life and now, now there was no escape in sight. Her life was my worst nightmare; worse then Voldemort, worse then the Dementors that patrolled the borders of the schools wards, worse then death.
She had no idea of my opinions though, and smiled gently at my Malfoy-esque theatrics. "Just grin and bear it," she advised cheerfully.
"I don't want to," I said petulantly. "Why am I the only one who gets ones this bad anyway? And they come so suddenly."
Madame Pomfrey rolled her eyes and offered me some pain killers. Muggle medicine had been conjured to help with small injuries since the… loss… of Snape. "It's a shame though," she sighed. "Today's an activity day, I know you miss flying. I hear some of the girls in the younger years are sending you love letters." She laughed, not mentioning that the youngest students at Hogwarts were now turning thirteen and the oldest nineteen.
I rolled my eyes. "I don't want to talk about it."
"Well," she said with a carefree shrug, "that's how things are."
"But why me?"
"Isn't it nice to have a crush?" she asked airily. "You needn't worry; none of them are serious about it."
"Crushes are just a pain in the arse," I hissed, shocking her a bit with my vehemence. "I do things my own way."
She smiled indulgently at me and was about to say something else – probably something asinine about love – when the door creaked open.
It was him. Pale gray eyes, silver blond hair, and the uniforms we were still required to wear.
Madame Pomfrey knew what was wrong right away. "Oh dear, Anemia again?"
"Yes ma'am," Draco answered quietly.
"Well, I guess it can't be helped. Go rest in one of the beds for awhile." Madame Pomfrey said, sounding as if it was a strain on her to have Draco lying there silently.
"Yes ma'am," he said again before making his way towards one of the many metal framed beds that lined the walls of the infirmary. Madame Pomfrey gestured for me to follow him to a bed and I made my way over to the one beside Draco's.
He greeted me with a small smile and I sat down facing away from him before bending down to untie my ratty shoes.
"Harry, do you have a headache?" he asked.
I nodded and continued to take off my shoes, trying to convey my quest for privacy through my body language, but he came over and ruffled my hair.
"Poor thing," he said, "but I guess it's a good thing too."
I turned to face him, puzzled. "How do you mean?" I asked. "Everyone gets the headaches; it's because of the Dementors."
"I don't," Draco replied blandly. "I guess it's because of this." He held up a heavily scarred arm for me to view before continuing, "I've never had a headache before. At least, not one that I've noticed."
I couldn't figure out the logistics of his confession – he cut his wrists and, therefore, didn't get the headaches? Staring at his arm I became hypnotized by the lacerations. They were beautiful in their own way, some new and vibrantly red and some so old they barely showed. When I realized and I was staring – and even worse, he knew I was staring – I forced myself to look away.
"Harry," he said, sitting down beside me on the thin bed, "have you given any thought to what I said? About dying together?"
"Merlin!" I exclaimed, turning away from him, "Cut it out! I've given you my answer, people need me here."
"Shh! Not so loud!" he cautioned.
I shook my head in protest. "Let's not talk about this. It'll never happen Malfoy, get over it."
"Harry," he murmured softly, hugging me from behind.
Suddenly, I was taken back to the evening on the Astronomy Tower and everything he had said to me.
"Harry, I want to die. I don't fear death," he explained. "But you know what? When I'm cutting myself… when I'm cutting myself and I think about how I'm going to die alone… somehow I can't do it. I tried finding a suicide partner among the Slytherins." He laughed bitterly. "There were plenty of girls who would have joined me, but no one felt… right. It's the person I'm going to spend my last moments with, I don't want to settle." "So," I managed to stammer out through the shock, "you… you chose me?" He nodded and smiled brightly. I was… reeling. I felt compelled to go along with his scheme, if only because he was my friend, but another part of me was aghast at the idea. That part must have shown on my face as he stroked the scars on his wrist because he began to explain himself to me again. Here was Draco Malfoy, blood traitor and the oldest Slytherin left alive at Hogwarts being more honest with me then anyone had ever been my entire life. "The cutting…" he glanced at his wrist momentarily, eyes sad. "It calms me, but I'm not a cutter. I'm cutting myself to commit suicide, not to relieve tensions. And… if I'm going to die anyway I'd rather do it with someone and on my own terms." The sentiment hit close to home. "But why?" I asked, starting when I realized that the words had left my mouth, "Why do you want to die so badly? Voldemort is dead. Eventually…" I stared out at the airily floating forms of the Dementors that kept us locked in the castle. Voldemort was dead, yes, and his Death Eaters with him, but that still left us trapped here with no discernable escape route. The Dementors were following the last command of their true master and the wards that once protected Hogwarts now kept us prisoner. Draco paused for a moment, thinking. "No reason really," he answered finally. "But we don't have a reason to live either, do we?" And there was nothing I could say to that, because I knew it was true.
"So," I managed to stammer out through the shock, "you… you chose me?"
He nodded and smiled brightly.
I was… reeling. I felt compelled to go along with his scheme, if only because he was my friend, but another part of me was aghast at the idea. That part must have shown on my face as he stroked the scars on his wrist because he began to explain himself to me again.
Here was Draco Malfoy, blood traitor and the oldest Slytherin left alive at Hogwarts being more honest with me then anyone had ever been my entire life.
"The cutting…" he glanced at his wrist momentarily, eyes sad. "It calms me, but I'm not a cutter. I'm cutting myself to commit suicide, not to relieve tensions. And… if I'm going to die anyway I'd rather do it with someone and on my own terms."
The sentiment hit close to home.If I'm going to die anyway…
"But why?" I asked, starting when I realized that the words had left my mouth, "Why do you want to die so badly? Voldemort is dead. Eventually…" I stared out at the airily floating forms of the Dementors that kept us locked in the castle. Voldemort was dead, yes, and his Death Eaters with him, but that still left us trapped here with no discernable escape route. The Dementors were following the last command of their true master and the wards that once protected Hogwarts now kept us prisoner.
Draco paused for a moment, thinking. "No reason really," he answered finally. "But we don't have a reason to live either, do we?"
And there was nothing I could say to that, because I knew it was true.
The next day I sat in Post-NEWTS Transfiguration with my head cradled in my head and stayed like that until Terry, the Ravenclaw who sat next to me, noticed.
"Harry, is something wrong," he asked, mildly concerned.
I waved a hand, dismissing the notion. "No, it's just… a headache – the Dementors, you know?" I lied. Yes, I did have a headache, but I knew that the Dementors weren't the reason behind my fierce headache. Glancing out of the corner of my eye I caught Draco staring at me.
I was happy that Draco thought of me as a friend, and a part of me was even happy that he'd chosen me. I'd had few true friends in my life and choosing someone to spend my last moments with…
What is this crap? I thought, shaking the thoughts out of my head and wouldn't come out. It felt strange to be so caught up in someone else's life like this after so long. Will things be different when I'm an adult? I wondered, shifting my gaze to the ceiling as Professor McGonagall droned on. Or rather, what is an adult? When does a person become and adult? Legally speaking I am one, but what does that mean?
I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn't notice class had ended until he waved at me from the door and said: "Harry, want to meet me after school?"
I nodded my acquiescence and packed my beat-up supplies into my rucksack.
That evening, after school, as I stood on the roof of the abandoned tower I was reminded strangely of the day Draco had asked me to die with him. He was someone who liked to take risks and, though the realization surprised me, I found that I liked that side of him – his 'Gryffindor side'. He was what I was now afraid to be.
He walked to the edge of the roof and whirled around, robes and hair flying around him like a banner. "Wow," he said, smiling slightly, "even though it's nearly night time it's still windy out."
We stood there for a moment in comforting silence, enjoying the feel of the wind blowing around us. He broke the calm first. "Harry," he said, "have you ever felt like this?"
He proceeded to explain what 'this' was.
"Your heart beats, and it hurts. You breath in, and become sad. You want to erase yourself from the world. You want to destroy it, the root of that breath," he turned slightly and I saw an old, but still sharp knife clenched in his hand. It was from a potions set, even two years after my last potions class I could still recognize it. Looking closely I could see blood dried on the handle of the knife. "It's proof that your body is still working, still betraying you. And when I…" his narrative slipped into first person. "When I sense my body's betrayal I think, 'What is my body becoming? What is the point of living?'"
He raised the razor to his wrist and I lunged, grabbing both his arms and pulling them apart.
"What are you doing?" I hissed angrily.
He stopped struggling and sagged in my arms. After a moment he began speaking again.
"Even now," he began, voice barely a whisper, "even now time is passing for me and I really don't want that to happen. What should I do? Isn't dying the only thing I can do?" Draco was getting desperate now. He spun in my arms and clutched at my shoulders, the volume of his voice rising. "Harry… Harry, can't I be the one? The one you spend your last moments with? Because it feels right, you have to be the one! I haven't felt this with anyone else! It has to be you! If you're not the one…" Biting his lip he trailed off and clung to me desperately.
It's strange, but in that moment I felt it, something that seemed so terribly difficult, and somehow painful, but I didn't really under stand it, and yet… It was something that I'd never felt with anyone else, and it excited me.
"Do you love me?" I asked quietly.
"Do you love me in that way?" I asked.
"Do you love me?" he asked in return.
I opened my mouth to give him my answer just as the trap door leading to the tower opened.
"Hey!" Filch shouted, "Get off the roof! Do you two idiots have a death wish?"
I snickered and grabbed Draco's hand. "Let's go," I said.
He shook his head but started walking towards Filch anyway. "I'm sorry, Harry," he said. "I'm unclean." I opened my mouth to speak but he stopped me by repeating himself, "I'm unclean, I'm unclean."
I stopped him from saying it a fourth time by saying: "It's okay you know. It's alright for me to be the one."
We walked past Filch and ran down the crumbling stairs of the Astronomy Tower. As soon as we were out of sight I pulled Draco into an empty classroom. "It's alright," I repeated, "so let's do this. If being with me feels right, than let's do it together, just like this."
The orange light of the sunset outside shone down through the windows and illuminated the room, Draco stared at me reverently and his words from that day filled my head.
"If you had to choose someone to spend your last moments with, who would you choose?"
And in my head I answered the question in that dirty, unused classroom. For me, if you're here I'll be all right. And in that moment, our lips pressed together for the first time and I wondered if it would hurt, and how much it would hurt. I was sure a lot of blood would come out, and that gradually I would become cold and that that would be it.
But, when the moment came, he only cut his own wrist. Still unhurt I was surprised by Draco's blood, it stained our robes and I felt like I was about to faint.
It was then that I realized it – that by doing this, cutting his wrists, he wasn't really trying to kill himself.
That's right. Even me, if you think about it, I wasn't trying to end my life when I told him I would in that classroom. It was something far deeper.
I sat beside him in the Hospital Wing, his arm was covered with gauze and bandages.
"Harry" he asked with a small smile, "Harry, what are you sulking about?"
I shook my head mutely.
"I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't mean to deceive you, but something like that… it's not really love, is it? I was happy you were willing to die with me and I thought to myself, 'I could die happy now.' So I tried." He looked down at something in his hands and chuckled.
"What are you looking at?" I asked, genuinely curious.
He held up the knife and I couldn't help but wonder why Madame Pomfrey hadn't taken it away. "This knife," he said, "it's sneaky. Having it I know I can cut myself anytime I want and I feel relieved."
I glared resentfully at the offending object and he chuckled again.
"It's possible," I said after a moment, running a hand through my unruly hair, "that I might follow you after this. I liked that feeling, and I didn't know I could feel like that. What I felt before… and… well… having just realized it I think I'm okay with it. I…" I stopped, suddenly becoming aware of his wide eyed shock. "I'm sorry," I murmured, looking away, "I said something weird, didn't I?"
"No," he said, smiling the first true smile I'd ever seen on his face, "thank you."
Choosing someone to spend your last moments with is difficult, but choosing someone to spend your every moment with is even harder.
After Sirius was killed I thought I'd be alone. After Ron and Hermione were killed I thought I'd be alone. After the war ended I thought I'd be alone.
I was wrong.
Say, if you had to choose the person who would be with you in your last moments, who would you choose?