Chapter 13: The Ring
As the gentle soothing sound of early morning birds twittering into the morning air reached Harry's ears, he groaned in annoyance and squeezed his eyes tighter away from the seeping light.
"Go 'way." He mumbled to the sun, for it had just interrupted one of his best Draco-related dreams to date.
The images were still fresh behind his eyelids, but as he tried to cling to them, the brightening sun was making its best attempt to wake him up, and with a growl of frustration Harry threw the covers away from him and slowly opened his eyes, blinking and glaring up at the wooden rafters of the ceiling. He felt hot, and it had nothing to do with the temperature of the room.
He closed his eyes again and rested the back of his hand over his eyelids. A very naked Draco still smiled at him from behind them, and he smiled to himself when he realised he had yet again awoken to a little "problem" down below. In noticing that problem he also realised he was still wearing his clothes from last night. He reached across to grab his glasses from his bedside table, but turned when he found they weren't there. He peered over the edge of his bed to find them sitting on the floor, and that's when the memory hit him.
Slowly he looked across at his swivel chair, that was still at the other side of the room, and blinked at it, a small frown to his eyes.
"Didn't I dream that?" he asked himself, as memories of sitting here in bed talking to a ghost Draco filled his mind.
Harry jumped slightly when Seamus's voice rang out with him hammering on his bedroom door, "I know it's a Sunday mate, but we've got homework to do!"
"Can't a guy have a lie in?" Harry inquired back, yawning into his hand, his brain having decided everything was a dream and he must have pushed his chair away last night by accident, same with his glasses.
"Lie in? It's nearly 1 in the afternoon! Come on, I need to copy your work for Professor Lupin, you did say you were going to do it yesterday and I've totally forgotten everything about the last class and I could…"
But Harry wasn't listening to Seamus. As he'd yawned into his hand, he'd brushed his fingers against his lips, and another memory of him kissing that ghost Draco came to mind, and remembered the cool tingling on his lips as he'd done it.
As Seamus continued to waffle on behind his door, Harry shook his head and removed his fingers from his lips, "It's got to be a dream." He dismissed, and reached down and picked up his glasses, ignoring the other memory that told him Draco had once picked up his glasses too.
Sunday passed with nothing out of the ordinary, though Harry found himself more than once looking around the room he was in checking if Draco was there. Monday morning also came as usual, and Harry had now completely dismissed his so-called "memories" of his ghost Draco. Seamus had asked why he had called him Draco outside their rooms, and Harry had simply explained he really had been over tired, and even joked about thinking he had seen Draco around the castle. Seamus raised a concerned eyebrow at this news, but let it slid as Harry said everything was fine after he had slept, and as he had slept for nearly half the day Seamus suspected Harry had needed that and accepted this explanation. They'd spent the rest of their free moments talking about Zach Smith, who still hadn't returned from hospital.
Things were back to normal again, and it was back to Professor Lupin's class, a double lesson this time. Professor Lupin and Professor Snape technically worked together, though rarely actually worked to-gether. Snape was the one down in the labs, cleaning and restoring the artefacts that were brought back to the castle, which were then passed on to Lupin, who would show the class and teach them about their history. The first past of their lesson had been focused on a statue that had been un-earthed in what they believed was an old Roman farming site down in Dorset. They'd discussed it, drawn parts of it for notes, asked questions and received their answers, and the second part of the lesson had everyone with their heads in their books, researching the suggested period. Professor Lupin usually let them get a head start in their homework, letting them do what could be researched in class with the small bookcase in the classroom, and doing the rest for their actual homework with research from the library.
This is where Harry sat now, sitting at the side of the class by the high window, running his fingers down the text of page 49 searching for a date he knew was in here but couldn't remember where it was. Although there was still snow outside, the sunlight itself was comfortably warm, and shone on Harry as he furrowed his brow in annoyance that he couldn't find this date.
Harry's finger paused on the book, and he stared at its pages, not reading a word.
"Harry?" came the whispered voice again, but it wasn't Seamus's voice, or Dean's. Just to make sure he glanced to his right, and just as he thought his two friends were like him, heads in their books, reading or writing.
"Why am I whispering no one can here me. Harry!"
Harry looked up in alarm towards the voice, and stared at his Prince sitting on Professor Lupin's desk, Lupin having no idea there was someone there, and had in fact reached for a biro sitting on the part of the desk where Draco was sitting. Draco frowned at the intrusion through his hip, and hopped off the desk, smiling at Harry.
"I'm sorry I didn't see you yesterday like I said." He said, walking towards him, "The twins thought perhaps it was best to give you a day and not come running back again. Just to make sure you were calm and ready to see me again." Draco sat at the edge of Seamus's desk, and grinned at Harry beside him, who hadn't once removed his wide eyes from him.
This…was not happening. Harry's heart seemed to have stopped beating, too much shock for it to take. Draco was here…again…oh god…
When Draco noticed the wary and worried expression in Harry's eyes, he glared. Not at Harry, but at thoughts of the twins. "Oh I knew it." He sighed, crossing his arms and looking away, "I TOLD them I thought leaving it another day would just make you dismiss me as a dream or something." He turned back to Harry, who was still staring at him, everyone else in the class un-aware of both Draco, and Harry apparently staring into the air at nothing.
"I'm not a dream." Draco said softly, "You remember everything I said to you right?"
Harry nodded dumbly. Oh he remembered alright, he just thought he'd dreamt it all. Slowly Harry looked back down at his desk, eyes still wide, and rested his hand on his forehead to shield his eyesight from Draco. He stared back down at his book, trying to pretend Draco wasn't there, and trying to pretend he was now concentrating back on his work.
Draco glared again. 'You don't wanna scare him' they said, 'Give him another day' they said, 'He'll listen more' they said. Draco had lost count on how many times in his after life he'd wanted to kill Fred and George for a second time. This was another one of those times.
"I'm not going away Harry." Draco said sternly, getting off the desk and walking in front of Harry between his desk and the seat of the boy in front of him.
"Go away." Harry whispered, his eyes betraying him and flickering up to look at Draco standing before him, before hunching his shoulders more and pressing further towards his book. He really didn't need to be having hallucinations in the middle of class. If he hadn't dreamt this ghost Draco, then he would have thought after all that sleep he had yesterday that any reason for him hallucinating from tiredness would have gone, so to see Draco still standing here was a little disconcerting.
"No," Draco said firmly, before crouching down so his eyeline was level with Harry's desk, and peered up at him as he tried to glare at his own history book.
Harry's eyes flicked towards him again, his glare now on Draco, "Go. Away." He repeated through clenched teeth as quietly as possible, and risked a glance at Seamus who was still busily writing.
"We kissed each other remember? Sort of." Draco said, and Harry's eyes unwillingly softened. Not only because he did indeed remember that, but because of the way Draco was looking at him reminded him all too well of his dreams about him, including another one last night, and felt a sudden tightening in his throat and a warmth that pooled into his groin.
He coughed awkwardly and stared back down at his book.
Draco grinned slyly to himself. He was well aware Harry couldn't say or do anything in class, which was part of the reason he came. Harry wouldn't be able to run away if he thought he had dreamt him, which thanks to twins, again, seemed to have been the case.
"I'm not going anywhere Harry. I'm not a dream and I'm not a hallucination."
Harry continued to pretend he wasn't there, and grabbed his biro and started writing, something, anything. Draco smirked to himself, and folding his arms on Harry's desk, resting his head on his hands, he peered up at him again, Harry trying to ignore how close he was.
"Did you dream about me again last night?" Draco purred.
Harry's biro slid slightly on the paper, and Draco bit his bottom lip grinning as a faint pinkness rose to Harry's cheeks. Harry continued to ignore him.
"I thought so." Draco continued, as Harry swallowed hard and pretended to look for something in his history book again.
"You dream about me all the time don't you?" Draco said again, in his best come-hither voice, "Every night you dream about me. I can only imagine what you're doing to me in those dreams, especially with the way you groan out my name…"
Harry's breathing became shallower. He wished this hallucination or whatever this was would shut up. He was bringing back images he could really do without in class.
"I watch you, you know…when you think of me. When you run your hands all over yourself thinking they're mine…" He didn't of course, he always left just in time, but then Harry didn't know that, and with the almightily blush that spread across Harry's cheeks at that comment, Draco knew he was right.
He grinned again. This was becoming quite fun.
"But of course I remember what you used to do to me, and what I used to do to you. You loved to kiss my neck, and then you'd run your tongue, slowly,"Draco emphasized, and Harry seemed to shift uncomfortably in his chair "all the way down. Over my collar bone, across my chest, you'd always linger at my nipples…" Harry's eyes darkened, his eyes no longer reading any text in the book though still staring relentlessly at it, "…down further and further, and then you'd look at me, and your eyes would be so dark…just like they are now…" he teased, "and then you'd smile, and you'd hold down my hips gently because you knew I'd only try and buck into your month when your lips would finally close around-"
But Draco didn't get to finish his sentence because Harry suddenly shot up from his chair, the chair flying backwards into the desk behind him, and every face in the room looking up in shock at the sudden noise.
"P-professor!" Harry stumbled, his face beet red and holding one of his books at a suspicious groin level, "I-I have a bit of headache, is it ok i-if I get some aspirin from the Nurse?"
Professor Lupin took one look at Harry's red and seemingly flustered face, and frowned in concern, "Yes of course. Actually you look a bit flushed Harry, take your time."
"Thank you!" and with that he legged it out the room, leaving his other books, biros and rulers behind on his desk. Draco watched him go, smiling rather smugly to himself as Seamus and Dean exchanged shrugs.
Even after 900 years, he still had the ability to drive Harry wild.
But now for further action. He'd been planning this yesterday, and now he'd made contact again, he needed to do something to try and jog a memory out of Harry, something to perhaps help him believe Draco was telling the truth. He needed to take him somewhere that had already inspired some reaction out of him, and Draco knew just the place, for both happy, and sad memories.
After taking a de-tour to actually get some aspirin from the Hospital Wing just in case Professor Lupin checked, Harry didn't stop running till he got back to his bedroom. He had no intention of returning to class, and had indeed hid for a short while before heading into the Hospital Wing willing his forming erection to go away!
He was too confused and turned on to think about what the hell was really going on. All he knew was that one way or another Draco was here, and teasing him like that in class was not helping the situation.
He flopped down in his swivel chair and took his glasses off, before dropping his head to his desk, his laptop whirring away to one side as it downloaded a movie that Seamus wanted to watch that for whatever reason his own laptop wasn't co-operating with.
"I've officially gone mad." He said to himself, his voice slightly muffled as he spoke to the wood. If Draco was a hallucination, he really was mad, but if Draco really was a ghost, that still made him mad because it seemed no one else could see him, so even if he told someone there was a ghost here they'd think he was mad. He wouldn't win.
Was Draco really a ghost rather then just someone he'd made up? He picked his head up from his desk and looked down at his hands. He remembered Draco running his hand through his own, and through his hair, and feeling that tingling and the small gush of comforting air. He'd almost believed Draco that night that he was a ghost, but after not seeing him again, he'd dismissed it. But again, the dreams felt so real, as if he'd lived them out one day, and now that Draco was here, was talking to him, it made his heart flutter in ways it had never done before.
Seamus would have taken the right mick out of him if he could hear him talking like this, like a love-struck teenager, but it was still how he felt. Draco had been with him his whole life in his dreams, and had, apparently, been with him in another life as well.
Harry didn't believe in reincarnation, it was a ridiculous idea, but the more he thought of Draco, the more he started to believe. He didn't know why, but every time he thought of believing Draco, his scar would itch, as if it was trying to tell him, "Yes! Yes he is a ghost! Yes you are a reincarnation of the Princes lover 900 years ago! Yes I know it sounds stupid but you're stupid to be taking this long to realise it!" He didn't know why his scar would itch at all, but when it did it just seem to coincide with him thinking about Draco, and as he'd been thinking about Draco a lot, he'd got used to the slight ache now and it didn't bother him too much anymore.
Harry reluctantly blushed as the things Draco was saying to him in class came back to mind, and he got out of his chair, slightly flustered and not really knowing what to do with himself. Everything Draco was saying was exactly what his dreams usual were, and hearing him saying them out loud in that obviously deliberately seductive voice, peering up at him through those mesmerizing silver eyes, Harry had totally lost his mind to those images. No one else could hear what he was saying (thank God!), and all he could do was sit there and get more and more turned on as his dream Prince described what he had been doing in his dreams, and just before he had got up from his chair, what he had wanted to do to Draco right there and then across any desk available!
If Draco really was here, it was maddening because he couldn't touch him. He'd wanted to grab him sitting there, grab him and snog him senseless just to shut him up, but if he'd reached across and lunged forward for him all he would have done was given the boy in front of him a rather unwanted hug from behind.
Harry found his breath quickening again as his memories of his dream happily carried on from where Draco had left off, and he groaned to himself, in both annoyance and pleasure, and rolled over on his front burying his head in his pillow.
"I'm back again."
Harry flinched slightly in surprise before groaning yet again into his pillow, "Oh please go away." He pleaded to the familiar voice coming from the end of his bed, but Draco was not backing down.
He walked over to Harry and sat down on his chair, and reaching out, gently brushed his fingers through Harry's hair, making it ruffle slightly with the breeze. Harry looked up from his pillow, his eyes looking lost and so adorable Draco paused and blinked as his heart leapt to his throat.
"I really want you to remember me," Draco eventually said, aware of the pinkness on his own cheeks as Harry looked at him, "There's a tree, down by the Lake, where we used to sit together. It was near where you collapsed that day. I was thinking that maybe…maybe you might remember something if you go down there with me?"
Harry continued to stare at him, eyes still worried at what he was seeing and hearing, but the part of him that was still wanting to pin Draco to the nearest flat surface was still bubbling away inside him, and at looking at Draco now, sitting there in his ruffled shirt and his green cloak, looking back at him like he was the most precious thing in the world, Harry found himself having trouble forming sentences.
"Okay." He sighed in defeat, and tried to squash the I-want-to-pounce-on-Draco feeling when Draco smiled back at him brightly.
28th February 1099
Draco stood bundled up in his white fur cloak, pressing himself against Harry's chest as they stood together under the weeping willow tree by the lake. It was freezing outside, the young tree only giving very slight shelter to the wind howling around the grounds, throwing snow in every direction, but at the moment it was difficult to be alone together.
Holly had been spending more and more time with Draco, now she was being taught the ways of the royals and what was to be expected of her when she became Queen. They did not share a room thank goodness, as they were not yet wed, and Draco was trying not to think about what would happen about bedding arrangements after they were. A part of him knew that was one thing he would not be able to get away from.
He would have to share his bed with Holly, meaning Harry wouldn't be able to spontaneously come up their secret passageway in case they wouldn't be alone. But at the same time he knew his mother had her own chambers too, for when the King had wished privacy, and was to leave with no questioning, so he'd be able to get away with it sometimes. Holly had also been given her own royal chambers now. Most likely he'd have to be the one to go down to Harry now, in case Holly would walk in to his bedroom unannounced one day, but that didn't bother Draco at all. It was Harry he wanted to see, he didn't care which bedroom they were in.
He also realized, though he had been trying to ignore this too, what would happen when his mother brought up the subject of producing an heir to the throne. Draco could easily refuse casual sex, that was not a Queen's job, as his deluded father had unknowingly told him in an outburst a few weeks ago, "I never let your mother come anywhere near me when we were married. I'm sure she was seeing someone else, didn't want her to touch me. Not a Queen's job! They're women to be there when wanted, nothing more. Had the same problem with a ferret once…" Draco had tried to make a look of surprise pass on his features at the mention of his mother seeing someone else. She had been seeing Sirius after all before the wedding. But at some point Draco knew he would have to have a son with Holly, but thinking of that at the moment just made his brain hurt. He didn't want to think about touching Holly like that. Besides, that wouldn't have to happen for a long while yet.
Speaking of Sirius, neither of them had mentioned anything about Draco over hearing him talking with Harry. Draco had only mentioned it to Harry once, who looked away embarrassed that he'd been overheard saying such things, but Draco had loved him even more for it. Sirius either didn't mind or hadn't dared speak to him about it. He continued his bodyguard duties as usual, and now knowing Sirius was in fact wishing for he and Harry to be together, felt no more worry of kissing Harry in front of him. Not that he'd cared in the first place, but that wasn't the point. Sirius had actually been very handy to have around now Holly was around more often. He'd warned them quite a few times that Holly was near, just in time for when she walked in the door.
Harry meanwhile had been doting on his sister a lot. Draco didn't mind, it was after all his own way of apologising for something she knew nothing about, and as long as it kept him wanting to stay with Draco, Draco practically encouraged it. Harry had insisted on making his sister's wedding dress, to which she was of course overly delighted. Draco had been overwhelmed with jealously when Harry had told him, but before he could even ask if Harry would make his too, Harry had kissed the question away and told him he'd spoken to his father and said he wanted to make Draco's too.
The date for the wedding had now been set. Draco was to be wed to Holly on the 21st April. Harry had been surprisingly calm about it, and the only sign that he had indeed heard about the wedding date was when Draco had suddenly found himself pulled into a random empty room one day when walking down an equally empty corridor, and had had Harry's tongue in his mouth so quickly and for such a happily long time, that Draco needed to hold onto the corridor wall for support when he'd headed off afterwards, trying to re-arrange his shirt into some orderly fashion and re-flatten his hair. Sirius had of course seen all this, but followed along behind his Highness as usual, his face impassive.
For now though, on a day where either Holly or Draco's mother seemed to be around them constantly, Harry and Draco had managed to sneak away down to the only place they knew they wouldn't be disturbed, Draco's private area along the lake under the willow tree. They stood together in the snow, Draco's long fur cloak wrapped around Harry's shoulders too, as they stood there snuggled together away from the prying eyes of the castle.
"Harry, I've been thinking." Draco said, his hands nice and warm between his cloak and Harry's body, "When you make my wedding attire, can you do something with oak leaves? A pattern or something?"
Harry frowned, and leaned back a little so he could see Draco's face, "Why oak leaves?"
Draco looked at him fondly as Harry brushed a stray snowflake out of Draco's hair, Harry's own dotted with snowflakes that had got past the protective cover of the tree.
"Because it'll remind me even more of you. Your hair colour," he said, suggesting with a nod of his head, "for the oak, and the green leaves for your eyes."
Harry stared at him disbelievingly for a moment, before the honesty in Draco's eyes made him chuckle and he held the blond tighter, nuzzling his neck, "Alright, I'll think of something."
Draco smiled in success and melted into Harry's embrace, closing his eyes, their warmth together keeping the chill at bay. They had so many secrets together from the world. To everyone else, they would think his wedding attire would be a simple pattern, to coincide with the newly forming leaves of the spring perhaps, but only Draco would know that it reminded him not of spring, but of the brother of the woman he was marrying.
"Y-you know," Harry suddenly said, seeming nervous, "You're not the only one who's been thinking, and…and I want to give you something and…to ask you something."
Draco opened his eyes, peering over the fluttering fur of his cloak on Harry's shoulder, "And what might that be?" he asked, feeling so sleepily happy just standing here like this.
But annoyingly Harry felt it necessary to move at this point, and his embrace relaxed around him, moving back a little. The cloak fell from Harry's shoulders back down behind Draco again, but he was still wrapped up in his own warm clothing, and Draco watched curiously as Harry, again seemingly nervous, reached into his pocket and brought out something held securely in his fist. He stared at it for a moment, Draco waiting, before he looked up at him.
"I've been saving up my money so I could buy this for you. I-It's not much, it's quite plain actually, but…" he sighed, apparently trying to calm his nerves. Draco hadn't a clue what he was trying to say. "I know I didn't really say anything when I found out about the wedding date," he began again, and Draco couldn't help but grin and agree he certainly hadn't 'said' much at all. "But…I-I guess I've kind of become…jealous…now that I know for sure it's going ahead and…and don't laugh," he asked, flickering his eyes up to Draco's, "but I-I just wanted to be the one to give you this first."
With that he took Draco's hand and placed his fist on the palm, opening his hand and letting the small object fall onto Draco's hand.
Draco stared at the small silver ring now sitting in his palm. It was a plain ring, no markings of any kind, no jewels, just plain and ordinary silver. It sparkled with the falling snowflakes, the reflecting white making the small ring shimmer and glistening just like the snow itself.
Draco had lost any breath to speak with.
"I know it's silly, but I guess I wanted to…to marry you before anyone else did. I-I mean I know we can't, but I thought maybe the ring could…could at least mean that I would have done i-if I could and…" he trailed off when Draco had still done nothing but stare at the ring. "I love you Draco." Harry said more confidently, and Draco finally looked up at him, his eyes wide with shock as he held this tiny little ring. "If I could have done I would have married you months ago. As it happens I can't, but that doesn't mean I don't want to spend forever with you because….'cause I do…" he trailed off again, glancing away bashfully.
Draco's mind had gone completely blank, save for one phrase; In one way or another, Harry was asking him to marry him. Draco clasped the ring in his hand, biting his bottom lip as he tried to force his grin back, and instead flicked his hair away from his eyes and studied the bashful Harry, Harry glancing back at him when he still didn't say anything.
"You know that technically we'd need a Priest and witnesses to be officially married, legal or not?"
Harry looked at the show on the ground again, "I know, it's a stupid ide-"
"-So I'm pretty sure there's a priest somewhere in the castle, that's near enough, and as for witnesses, well I'm sure Sirius just heard all of that," Draco said, indicating the darker shadow of Sirius standing behind the curtain of willow leaves behind him, "And personally, that's legal enough for me." Draco smiled at him knowingly.
Harry looked up at him, that look of shocked disbelief on his face again, before his face split into the biggest grin Draco had ever seen, and he swept Draco into his arms, making flurries of snow as they turned on the spot in each others arms. Harry pressed his lips to Draco's, his hands not knowing where to hold him, wanting to hold everything all at once, and grinned against his lips before kissing them once again.
Draco felt light headed with happiness. Even though he had to marry Holly, it really didn't matter anymore, because for him, he was already now married to Harry, so a second marriage wouldn't count. He belonged to Harry, he always would, always had, nothing would take him away from him.
He clung to Harry tightly, the few snowflakes that managed to fall through the canopy of leaves twirling around them softly, sheltered in their own little world where nothing mattered but the two of them together.
"Oh!" Harry suddenly exclaimed, and pulled back, rummaging in his pocket again, "I've just remembered." And he pulled out a thin metal chain and held it up to him, "I know you won't be able to wear it on your finger, so I thought you could wear it around your neck, keep it hidden."
Indeed Draco couldn't wear it, he could only wear rings with the family seal on them, and even if he could his mother would soon question as to why he was wearing such a plain and boring ring. Plain it may be, but it had instantly become the best ring out of all the ones he owned.
Harry took the ring from Draco's hand and hooked it through the chain, before leaning around his neck and fastening it at the back, the ring resting on Draco's cloak clasp.
Immediately Draco cupped Harry's neck to keep him from pulling back, and leant in to kiss him, running his tongue softly over Harry's lip before delving inside the mouth he would never grow tired of kissing. This had gone beyond perfect, this was beyond a dream, everything was going right, and at that moment Draco wanted to scream out to the world that he loved Harry, not caring who heard, just so the world could know how happy he was, how in love he was.
If there had been any doubt in his mind about Harry wanting to stay with him, any worry that he was still wondering if he was doing the right thing by doing this to his sister, it disappeared in that moment. He'd never take this ring off, even when asleep he'd where it, and if Holly ever wondered about it? Well, it wasn't her place to ask.
30th January 2006
Harry felt very strange, walking through the corridors of Hogwarts and being the only one to see Draco walking beside him. It felt even stranger, when people walked straight through Draco, Draco for once not caring as he was just happy to be going anywhere with Harry that didn't involve him running away from him in terror.
After grabbing his long coat, wrapping his scarf loosely around his neck, and shoving his gloves in his coat pocket, Harry had reluctantly followed Draco out his room and down towards the entrance hall, keeping his hands in his pockets at all times, still wary of the spirit walking beside him
But that certain spirit had never been happier before in his afterlife. Here he was, walking with Harry down his old home corridors, after 906 years of waiting to see him again. Even his anger at the twins telling him to lay off for a day had subsided. Harry may be giving him strange looks as they walked, but that didn't matter. Right now Harry was following him, was with him, and that was all that counted.
They headed out the front door, Harry pausing slightly as Draco simply vanished straight through the part way open door he was pushing aside, before shaking aside that troubling image and following the happy Prince out into the courtyard. They headed down the steps and out onto the grass, Harry walking behind Draco as he led the way, watching with raised and curious eyebrows at the fact Draco's feet simply disappeared through the snow where he walked leaving no footprints behind. The sky itself was clear of snow, and they walked in silence, Draco noting how Harry seemed to want to be left in peace. He didn't seem to want to talk, and Draco didn't want to scare him away again, so let him follow him lost in his own thoughts.
Eventually they came down to the old Whomping Willow tree, and this is where Draco stopped.
"Here." He said, looking up the gnarled old branches of the tree that was once at the Lake's shores, though further back now as time had shrunk the Lake and changed the landscape.
Harry stopped, his hands still in his pockets, and stared up at the tree, "What about it?" he asked.
Draco stared at it for a moment longer before looking back at him, "I don't know. I just thought it might, bring back memories or something. Of your life here before." He looked back up at the tree again, "I know it doesn't look much like the tree we knew before. It was young back then, actually had strings of leaves falling into the waters edge, now it's just old."
Harry looked at the huge crooked and knotted trunk of the tree, strips of bark missing from its twisted old branches, and as nothing continued to happen, was feeling more and more sceptical yet again that this was really just an hallucination. It didn't explain the breeze he could feel when Draco touched him, but there must be a logical explanation for that somehow.
But, at least humour him, Harry sighed and walked closer to the tree, "Well maybe if you tell me what actually happen here I might-" but at that moment he tripped over one of the raised old roots hidden under the snow, and he reached out to steady himself against the tree.
But the moment his bare hand touched the trunk, an image flashed brightly and quickly before his eyes. The ghost Draco who had a flash of concern over his face when Harry had tripped, suddenly had a backdrop of green, a green curtain of weeping willow leaves that rustled in the wind letting a few sneaky snowflakes fly through. The look of concern was replaced by a look of curiosity, that soon changed to a look of mild shock as a hand that Harry knew was his own, yet wasn't "his", reached forward and dropped a silver ring onto Draco's hand.
Harry yanked his hand away from the tree trunk as it if it had been burning hot, and the image disappeared instantly. He stumbled backwards, holding his wrist and staring at the tree wildly. "What the hell was that?"
"Did you remember something?" the now ghost Draco asked excitedly, coming up in front of him.
Harry's breath was quick, and he walked backwards a few steps, still staring at the tree, before turning and walking swiftly away from it, heading towards the lake, Draco following curiously behind him. He still held his hand to his chest, and stopped at the frozen waters edge, the snow stomped on where people had been walking, and stared down to the ground as confusing images and feelings swept over his mind like a tidal wave, eyes wide and blinking rapidly.
"Are you okay?" Draco asked cautiously, but Harry continued to stare down, stare anywhere but back at that tree.
"I…I…" Harry tried to say, but his mind felt overwhelmed.
That wasn't a hallucination, that felt far too real to be something his mind had just made up. For that split moment, giving that ring to Draco felt like the most important thing he'd ever done in his life, which was stupid because he'd never given Draco anything! He didn't exist! The hand that had dropped the ring onto Draco's hands was his, same shape, same feel, but he'd never done that, never stood under that tree with Draco, never done anything with Draco except dream about him! It didn't make sense! He didn't understand! His mind was racing! It was worrying and confusing and…
…and it felt so right. So…nice.
He felt like he knew other small things that had happened after that giving of the ring, things that this little flash of memory hadn't actually shown him. Like Draco saying something about a man called Sirius standing behind them, and…and a kiss…a really ecstatically happy kiss, and…
Harry finally looked up at Draco, who was looking at him with concern, and looked towards the metal clasp of his cloak around his neck.
"Where's the ring I gave you?" he asked quietly, finding it strange to hear himself asking such a question.
Draco blinked in surprise, and his hand automatically went up to the clasp at his neck. Harry remembered the ring? His eyes suddenly widened in joy.
"You remember that?" he asked happily.
Harry nodded slowly, still un-sure of himself, but knowing what he was apparently 'remembering' certainly felt real enough. "I put it on a chain didn't I? So you could wear it around your neck?"
Draco grinned, "You did yes," before his grin fell, "But…I lost it."
Harry felt a stab of sorrow hit his stomach, but he didn't quite understand why, "How did you lose it?" he asked.
Draco looked away, his eyes falling on the Lake, odd spots of it frozen. He remembered all too well how he lost it, but it was still one of the last things he had seen before he died. "When I died it…it fell off."
Harry remembered at the weekend Draco telling him he had killed himself, and that stab of sorrow inside him seemed to grow, and the question popped forward before he even thought, "How did you die?" he asked softly.
Draco continued to stare out at the Lake, the snowflakes caught in the gentle breeze floating slowly through his form. "I drowned myself." He said quietly, and Harry's breath caught in his throat, his eyes widening. "Right here," Draco continued, before turning to back at Harry and looking at him right in the eyes, his own silver ones tinged with a memory of sorrow, "Holding you."
As silence fell around them, it was at that moment Harry decided Draco was not a hallucination. He couldn't describe why, but he knew, right there, looking back into the eyes of the young man he had dreamt about for so long, the man who had filled his every waking and sleeping moment, he knew with the love he felt for this Prince, that he was real. The ache in his chest at hearing how he died was a feeling so powerful, one he had never experienced, that only knowing how much he had once loved this Prince could possibly have brought forth such a pain.
"I don't remember…" Harry said, finding his throat constricted. He loved this Draco, he may not really remember, but he loved him. He wanted to hold him, wanted to kiss him, wanted to do anything that would wipe away that sadness in Draco's eyes.
Instinctively he raised his hand, knowing he wouldn't be able to touch him, but needing to do something, and gently brushed the back of his fingers over what would have been Draco's cheek. Draco just stood there looking back at him, and as Harry tried to touch him, he just smiled. A sad smile, but a thankful smile too, one that was grateful Harry could see him, even if touching each other was impossible.
"I wanted to stay with you forever that day, when I gave you the ring." Harry said, frowning at these remembered feelings "I don't…really remember images, but I remember what I was feeling, what I felt for you."
Draco's bottom lip seemed to quiver as he smiled again, and before Harry could see him cry, quickly stepped back and raised his own hand to wipe at the tears forming in his eyes. As he did a short sharp and very cold wind blew around them, and for Draco's sake to pretend he hadn't seen the emotion swelling in his eyes, Harry reached into his pockets and brought out his gloves, subtly wiping at his own eyes before putting them on and keeping his hands away from the cold.
Draco felt so happy and so sad at the same time. He'd been alone for so long, yeah the twins were there, but they only contributed the occasional amusement. After 900 years of doing nothing but waiting and remembering his times with Harry, every day that passes getting less and less likely he'd find him, his memories becoming fainter and fainter, to see him finally standing here, looking at him just like his old Harry did, it felt too much. From feeling nothing for so many years, to having Harry back like this was…was just overwhelming. He'd been worth every second of time, every moment of loneliness, just to see him here like this.
This was the beginning of a lot more memories, Draco hoped. Maybe if he told him stories of when they were together, and show him the part of the castle where they had been, it would help him remember. He'd never felt so alive, metaphorically speaking of course.
"Harry," Draco began softly, "That day you gave me that ring…we both felt like nothing would ever go wrong." He paused, "Well, it did go wrong. Horribly wrong," he added quietly, "But that's why I'm here. When I died I was told your soul had been reincarnated. I refused to go to Heaven without you, and chose to stay here on earth as a ghost until I found you again." He watched Harry take all this in, his green eyes bright and clear as he listened, "That was 906 years ago, and I've been waiting ever since. You were everything to me." He looked back down at the frozen waters edge again, "You still are."
"Draco." Harry said quietly, his eyes soft and caring, before he scratched the back of his head awkwardly, and sighed, "Look, I don't really get what's going on but…I believe you." Draco looked up at him, and Harry checked with himself once more before continuing, "I believe you and…and I think I want to find out more. I think." He added cautiously, but he couldn't help but smile back when Draco smiled at him warmly.
If he really was a reincarnation, Harry wanted to know everything about his old self. This would certainty take some getting used to, and when the realization would hit him that he really was a reincarnation and was in fact the lover of the once Prince of England, who he was now taking to the ghost of said prince, he suspected he would either laugh or burst into worried tears. But either way, Harry honestly found himself believing Draco, and now suddenly had so many questions for him he wasn't sure where to begin.
He decided to start things off simply. How did they first meet? He stepped towards Draco, intent on asking him, but stopped when something crunched loudly under his foot.
Both Harry and Draco looked down, and saw what looked like a small, dirty piece of pottery, about the size and length of a finger, sticking out from a well-trodden footprint of snow. Harry crouched down curiously to pick it up with his gloved hand.
"What is it?" Draco asked casually, bending down too, but as Harry brushed away the snow and dirt and pulled it out…something else was attached to it.
Harry paused in shock, his heart racing a mile a minute in his chest. Draco stared, wide eyed and unbelieving at what Harry now held in his hand, and couldn't help but take a few steps back away from it.
"Is that…?" Draco began, for it couldn't be what it looked like.
Harry just crouched there, his alarmed eyes staring not at a dirty broken piece of pottery, but the bone of a real finger, muddy and aged, the joint of a second finger hanging precariously off the end of it.
Harry didn't need to look at Draco to know the exact same thought had entered their minds. But that was impossible…
To Be Continued…