Chapter Sixteen: Nothing But Good Times Ahead
"No!" Harry yelled, shooting upright in bed, shaking violently. "No..." he whispered again in a broken voice. He looked around, not recognizing his surroundings in the dark, and his panic increased.
"Shh, Harry, love. It's alright." a comfortingly familiar voice whispered, and Harry felt his bed shift as someone sat down next to him.
"Draco?" he asked, reaching his hand out, desperately seeking his lover's body. Draco's slim fingers wrapped around his own and Harry relaxed.
"I'm here, Harry. He's gone, remember? He's gone."
Harry slammed his free hand down on the mattress in frustration. "Why is he still in my dreams then?" he demanded, a few silver tears escaping to leave a dark trail down his pillow-creased cheek. Draco reached out and wiped them away.
"I don't know, love," he whispered helplessly. "I really wish I did."
Harry let his head fall back to the pillow, still exhausted. "Stay with me?" he asked quietly.
Draco glanced apprehensively at the closed door of Madam Pomfrey's quarters and made up his mind. "Of course." He wriggled under the covers and wrapped his arms as tightly around Harry's body as he could without hurting him. Once they were settled he buried his face into the hollow of the other boy's shoulder and they both slipped into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Madam Pomfrey ducked around the curtains that separated Harry's bed from the rest of the ward, and nearly dropped the armload of clean linens she was carrying. She studied the sleeping duo for a moment, a small smile playing around her lips.
"Where's a camera when I need one?" she murmured to herself as she pulled the drapes tight and charmed a "Do Not Disturb" sign to stick to the cloth. She would worry about Harry's linens later.
Harry decided that waking up in Draco's arms had to be the most magical thing he had ever felt. He stretched like a cat and was pleased to find that, other than some minor aches and pains, he felt nearly as good as new. Glancing at his watch, he saw that it was a little past noon, but what day was it? How long had he been recovering?
He ran callused fingers through Draco's silky blond hair, and was delighted to see gray eyes blinking at him. Draco yawned, and then smiled at Harry.
It was amazing how easily Draco smiled now. At the beginning of their relationship, his true smiles were rare and a little rusty-looking. Now a grin flashed across his lips every time he even thought about Harry. If he wasn't careful, he would get smile lines in the corner of his mouth. That would be most un-Malfoyish.
"Good morning," Draco mumbled sleepily.
"It's actually afternoon," Harry told him. He watched as Draco stretched, turned onto his side, and then froze.
"What is it?" Harry asked, sliding his arms protectively around his boyfriend. Draco didn't answer, but after a quick glance around the room, Harry saw immediately what was the matter.
Seated on the left side of the bed were Dumbledore, Fawkes, and McGonagall, with an ever-busy Madam Pomfrey bustling around the room, all of them smiling.
Fighting a blush, Harry calmly greeted them.
"Hello, Harry!" the Headmaster exclaimed happily, "how are you feeling?"
"Much better," he said truthfully. "Um... why are you all here?"
"We were just checking up on you, Mr. Potter," Professor McGonagall said matter-of-factly, though a faint blush on her cheeks revealed that she, too, thought the boys looked adorable together.
"The other students have already been informed, of course," Dumbledore told him, "but we would like to hold a feast in your honor tonight, if you feel up to it."
Harry's stomach growled at the mention of food, reminding him that he hadn't had anything to eat since the battle, however long ago that was. "I think I feel good enough to go."
"I shall be the judge of that," Madam Pomfrey reminded them as she approached the bed. "Mr. Malfoy, if you please, I need to be able to get to Mr. Potter." Draco slid out of the bed and stood in just his pajama bottoms as Madam Pomfrey checked over Harry. "I'd say you're fine. Just make sure you take it easy the next couple of days and try to avoid life-or-death confrontations, alright?"
"Yes, ma'am," Harry said with a smile as he got out of bed as well. When nobody moved, he added, "I should probably get dressed now."
"Of course," Dumbledore said, and he, Fawkes, and McGongall left.
Madam Pomfrey, however, lingered long enough to say, "Mr. Malfoy," in a warning tone.
"Awww," Draco whined and ducked out through the curtains, shortly followed by a satisfied nurse, and Harry was alone. After a moment, Harry realized that the only clothes he had in here were the bloody, dirty, torn robes he had come here in. He looked around and didn't see them anywhere. Madam Pomfrey had probably burned them. He didn't even want to think about how his old clothes had gotten off of him and how his pajama pants had gotten on. He poked his head out of the curtains and his eyes met a pair of familiar smirking gray ones.
"Looking for something?" Draco asked, holding out a pile of clothes.
"Yes, thank you," Harry said, relieved. A light blinked on in Harry's head as he realized that the other teachers had left the infirmary, and he grinned hungrily.
Draco felt a shiver of excitement at Harry's expression, but only raised a cool eyebrow.
"Could you bring them in here for me?" Harry asked innocently.
"I'd love to," Draco said in a seductive murmur. He slipped back into Harry's room and set the clothes on one of the chairs. It hit them then that they were both half-naked, alone, and that they hadn't had sex in way too long. Harry growled deep in his throat and Draco jumped him. Literally.
Draco flung himself on Harry, causing him to lose his balance and half-fall, half-sit on the bed. Draco lips fastened heatedly across Harry's mouth, his hands seeking as much of Harry's bare skin as they could find.
Then, from across the room, they heard someone delicately clearing their throat.
Draco raised his head, looked around, turned a brilliant shade of red, and slid off Harry's lap and onto the floor with a muffled "eep."
Harry was shocked. Draco, the epitome of grace and dignity, had just fallen onto the floor. And said "eep." The apocalypse must surely be coming.
Then he saw her, and blushed even deeper than Draco.
From his position on the floor, Draco stared up at his mother, his bottom jaw hanging open. She stood there with her head held high, her golden locks flowing loose and windblown down her shoulders as she smoothed down the front of her neon green-and-pink suit.
To Draco, she was the most beautiful thing in the world.
Well, maybe the second most beautiful, he amended, stealing a glance at his mortified boyfriend.
His father had never allowed her to wear her hair down in public, or to dress in undignified colors. The sight of her rebelling against everything Lucius had felt was important made him prouder than he had ever felt. She was no longer an abused, downtrodden wife.
Draco stood up, as though in a trance, and approached this woman who had tried her best to raise him well, despite the circumstances. He touched his fingers gently to her cheek and noticed that you could now see the creases in the corners of her eyes and the wrinkles across her forehead, as well as a few strands of gray in her hair. Lucius had forbidden her from showing any signs of aging, so she had kept a spell—a sort of glamour—over herself at all times. Now she stood before him: spell-less, happy, and free.
He wrapped his arms around her, smelling the scent that had comforted him since childhood, and tears slipped freely from the corners of his eyes.
She hugged him back for a moment, then stepped away, her eyes taking in her shirtless son and the equally shirtless boy on the bed. She raised an eyebrow at Draco, a small smile playing on her lips.
"I see that you're enjoying your father's imprisonment as much as I am," she said finally. "It too bad he'll never know—I would have loved to see his face."
Draco grimaced. "Oh, he knew. Harry and I... told him...whenever he paid the school a nice little visit." Then he grinned. "The look on his face was pretty funny, now that you mention it."
Harry stood but stayed back by the bed, not wanting to intrude on the Malfoys' little reunion.
Draco looked back and smiled widely at him. "Come on, Harry, I want you to meet my mother." Nervous, Harry came to stand beside him. Draco slid his arm around Harry's waist and gave him a quick, reassuring squeeze. Harry returned the gesture, and smiled when Draco's other arm wrapped around his front, enclosing him in Dracos' warmth as he made his introductions. "Harry, this is my mother, Narcissa Malfoy. Mother, this is Harry Potter, my boyfriend."
"It's nice to meet you, ma'am," Harry said, leaning out of Draco's embrace for a moment to shake her hand.
Narcissa's pale blue eyes studied him for a moment, the Malfoy mask concealing her emotions as she watched her Draco lean his head against the Potter boy's shoulder with a contented smile on his face. Potter's eyes shifted from returning Narcissa's stare to the top of his boyfriend's head and the look in his eyes was so warm, Nacissa couldn't doubt that Potter shared her son's feelings.
The almost-healed marks and scars across Potter's bare torso reminded her of why she was there in the first place.
Only a few days ago, Bellatrix Lestrange had come to Malfoy Manor, wailing and sobbing about the murder of her Dark Lord. Narcissa hadn't been sure whether to believe her or not: it seemed too good to be true. She had known about her husband's imprisonment of course—the Ministry had informed her of the date of his trial. She hadn't gone. When she got the notification of his life sentence in Azkaban, she had decided not to do anything differently for fear that the Dark Lord would become suspicious about her loyalty. Sure enough, Bella had "visited" the next day, armed with subtle questions about why she hadn't attended the trial and what her opinion of the Dark Lord was.
Then, not long after, Bellatrix had flooed to the Manor in a panic: the Dark Lord was dead and the remaining Death Eaters were being captured one by one.
Still she waited, afraid that it might be a ruse to get her to prove that she felt no love for He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
She probably would be waiting still, if Dumbledore hadn't owled her. That letter changed her life.
Hogwarts' headmaster had explained to her everything that had happened, from the Death Eaters' attack on the school to the end of the Dark Lord, assuring her that the rumors were indeed true.
She had immediately packed everything from her past life that she wished to keep—which wasn't much, sold the house, and withdrew all of the money from Lucius' bank account. Then she had bought a cute little house in the middle of a bustling city and flew to see her son and, if her pride didn't stop her, thank Potter for everything he had done.
Now, she had found out that not only is he responsible for the imprisonment of her sadistic husband and the demise of his deranged master, but for the happiness of her lonely son as well.
In her opinion, the boy was heaven-sent.
"So how long have you two been together?" Narcissa asked.
"Since about the first week of school," Draco replied, his smile growing wider.
"And you never told me?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Well, I couldn't trust that any letter addressed to you wouldn't end up in Father's hands. You know he had a penchant for opening your mail." Narcissa grimaced. "And if that had happened, he probably would have come to kill us. Though he eventually tried to kill us anyway, so I suppose it wouldn't have mattered."
"If you wouldn't mind, ma'am," Harry said quietly, his free arm pressed against his empty, grumbling stomach. "I would really like to get some food. And a shower."
"Oh, of course, how rude of me," Narcissa said, feeling genuinely sorry. The school's nurse had told her that Potter had just woken up for the first time since the battle, so the boy must be ravenous. And dirty.
But dirty or not, Draco's mother surprised everyone—including herself—by stepping forward and hugging Harry as he attempted to walk past her and leave the room. "Thank you," she whispered in his ear. "For everything." She stepped away and held him at arm's length, surveying him one more time. "Now, you better not hurt my son, or you will regret it. As the wife of a Death Eater, I know how to do quite a few unpleasant things to you."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Mother!" he complained, but she only smiled.
Two days later Harry happily breathed in the fresh air as he and his friends headed towards Hogsmeade for a last trip into town before the school year ended. The year had seemed to go by so quickly to Harry, but yet he felt so much older. He was especially relieved to get away from the castle and the ever-present awe and gratitude—and sometimes fear—that his fellow classmates insisted on displaying towards him since he had rejoined the student body.
Harry was with just Ron and Hermione today. He had told Draco that he didn't feel like he was spending enough time with them anymore—which was true—but the main reason was he had gone to town without him was that he had something he wanted to do that Draco couldn't know about. Not yet.
Hermione was thrilled. She skipped along happily as they headed toward the store, ignoring the fact that her boyfriend was less than excited.
Ron was happy for Harry, but he just couldn't get his mind around the idea. He had been shocked when Harry had taken him aside to tell him his plan.
"Are you sure?" he had asked, concerned. "Hermione and I have been together just as long, and I feel nowhere close to ready for something like that."
"I'm sure," Harry had told him firmly. "This is what I want."
Once his errand was complete, Harry's nervousness doubled. As soon as it grew dark he sent Hedwig to Draco's room with a note. Draco had a small window high on his wall, right above the ground, which was just big enough for her to fit through.
Then he went up to the Astronomy tower to wait.
It didn't take long for him to hear quiet footsteps coming up the stairs. Soon Draco Malfoy appeared in the doorway, smiling quizzically at Harry.
"Hey, what's going on?" he asked, sitting in the windowsill next to his boyfriend.
Harry ignored the question. "Aren't the stars gorgeous tonight?" he asked softly.
Draco raised an eyebrow at him, then looked at the sky. "Yes, they are. Though they couldn't hope to compare to you," he said. Harry could just barely see his rakish smile in the dark.
"This is where I was headed that night when you found me. The night that started all of this."
"Really?" Draco asked, trying to figure out where their conversation was going and failing. "So was I."
"That was lucky, wasn't it? If you hadn't come across me, we might never have gotten together."
"And you might have died," Draco pointed out.
Harry shrugged and waved away the comment. "I was coming here to think. Why were you headed here?"
"I was coming to jump out one of the windows." He caught Harry's look and laughed. "I was coming for some peace and quiet, and for a place to think, too. Though the windows did cross my mind," he said more seriously. "Life was really tough for me before you barged in. Finding you in that hallway might have saved my life as much as it did yours."
Harry leaned over and gave Draco a one-armed hug, then leaned back, not knowing what to stay to that. They stared out at the stars for awhile more before Harry spoke up again.
"What if I want you to stay in my life?" he asked quietly. Draco turned to look at him, then realized that Harry wasn't sitting next to him anymore. He had slipped silently off the sill and was now down on one knee in front of Draco, a little black box in his hands. "Draco Malfoy, what would you say if I told you that I wanted you to marry me, that I wanted to live with you always and laugh with you always and fight with you always?"
Draco covered his face and started laughing. Taken aback, Harry watched him, his cheeks burning with embarrassment and his stomach twisting in fear. It wasn't until Draco moved his hands that he could see he was crying, too.
"Damn your Gryffindor courage," Draco finally muttered. He dug something out of his pocket and slid out of the window to kneel in front of Harry. "I've had this ever since you were laying unconscious in that infirmary bed, and I still haven't found the guts to ask you." He opened a small black box of his own. "Fine then, Harry Potter. If you agree to marry me, then I'll agree to marry you."
Shocked, Harry hugged Draco, causing them both to fall over, since they had both been precariously balanced on one knee. He found that he was laughing and crying as well. Draco firmly took his hand and slid his ring onto Harry's finger. Harry did the same to Draco before getting out his wand and muttering Lumos so he could see more clearly. Settled perfectly on his ring finger was a gold band with tiny emerald stones spelling out the words Through the darkness and the light, true love holds strong.
"Oh, Draco," he whispered, awed by the gentle, sweet message. "It's beautiful."
Draco was busy studying his own ring. His was platinum, with letters in dark blue that read the simple, but true, words Love Everlasting on the underside. He pulled Harry towards him and kissed him hard.
"I love you," he whispered, his voice rough with emotion as he cradled Harry's cheek in his hand.
"I love you, too," Harry told him, before burying his face in Draco's shoulder. It was so wonderful to know that he actually had a future now, to be able to live as he wished with whom he wished. It was so wonderful to give someone all of his love, and have it returned, full-force.
Life in general was just wonderful.
And, he realized, as he pulled back to smile his fiancée, it was only going to get better.
A/N: Ack! It's over! I'm so sad! I'd like to thank:
Dark Angel's Blue Fire
Fear of Apathy
for reviewing my story thus far and giving me encouragement as well as for pointing out the things I missed so I could fix them. You guys pushed me past 100 reviews! That's a record for me!
I have another Harry/Draco in the wings, but this one I'm going to write at least a few chapters before starting to post it. I love you all!