"This changes nothing."
Draco glanced up at Harry and ran his eyes over his body. Harry was sprawled very prettily on top of his sleeping bag, his gold skin glazed and gleaming with sweat, his hair in a ragged, but quite sexy tangle from Draco's fingers, with his belly spotted with Draco's come. It was erotic as hell, and it made Draco's eyes go dark and his lips curve. It was a look that Harry knew well. It said, I know you, but not just that. Or else, nothing quite so simple as that. It meant, I have seen you naked. I have touched you. I have kissed you. I have been inside you. I have heard you scream in pain and I have made you scream in pleasure, and I have seen what happens to you when the two of them combine… I know you.
"This changes nothing," Harry said again.
Draco chuckled softly and shook his head. "You keep saying that, Potter. Don't you think by now I know that this changes nothing? It's just a nasty little fuck every once in a while. It means nothing."
"Exactly," Harry said, rolling over and propping himself up on his elbows.
Draco fastened the last button on his shirt and grabbed his cloak from the floor beside Harry. Before he stood up, he caught Harry's chin in his hand, tilted his face up, and kissed him, slow and deep. When he felt Harry tremble under his fingers, he let go and stood up. Draco fastened his cloak around his shoulders and looked down at him.
"Keep telling yourself that, Potter."
"It means… nothing," Harry panted. He narrowed his eyes at Draco.
"Fine," Draco snapped with a wave of his hand. He paused with his other hand on the tent flap and looked back at Harry over his shoulder. "Next time, you come to me."
Harry stared at him. "I can't do that! If they catch me, they'll kill me. You know that!"
Draco lifted a shoulder in a negligent half shrug. "I've been risking my skin for months to come to you. Did it never occur to you that your little friends would do the same to me if I were caught?"
"They… I wouldn't let them do anything to you."
"Oh, yes? And how would you stop them? What reason would you give them to spare my life? Do you honestly think they would listen?"
"I…"Harry hesitated and cast his eyes to the ground thoughtfully. "I don't know."
Draco waited for him to say something more, but Harry was silent. "If this means nothing," Draco said after a moment. "If I mean nothing, then it should be easy enough for you to stay here, to stay away from me."
Harry lifted his head. "What do you mean?"
"I mean… I will not be back," Draco murmured. "I will not come crawling back here like some beaten cur seeking your attention, Potter. I have more pride than that. If you want me, then we are equals, and you will come to me next time."
Harry opened his mouth to respond, but Draco didn't wait to hear it, and before Harry could utter a word, he was gone.
Two weeks later, Draco killed Ginny Weasley on the battlefield, and, facing him over Ginny's cold body, Harry met Draco's eyes and knew that the hex that killed her had been meant for him.
"You bastard," Harry hissed in his face.
Draco grinned and mockingly saluted Harry with his wand. "I mean something to you now, don't I, Wonder Boy?"
"You're a murdering Death Eater," Harry snarled, pointing his wand at Draco like it was a dagger.
Draco lifted a brow at him, his smile not faltering at all. All around them, Death Eaters and Order members fought on, but the two of them might as well have been standing alone on that field for all the attention either of them paid to it.
"Did you ever doubt it?" Draco asked softly. He lifted his hand, and the sleeve of his tunic fell back to reveal the mark on his arm. "Just because I've fucked you and made you like it doesn't make me a good person, Potter. You said it yourself, it means nothing."
"I'll kill you, you traitorous fuck!" Harry shouted. He launched himself at Draco, who merely twisted to one side, out of his way, and danced beyond his reach.
"Perhaps," Draco said, amused. "Perhaps not. You're doing a bang-up job of it so far though, aren't you?"
Harry swiped his hair out of his face and glared at Draco like he expected the other man to spontaneously combust under the heat of his rage. Draco just smirked and inclined his head toward the wand in Harry's right hand.
"Forgotten how to use that, have you?"
Harry looked down at his wand, then brought it up to point it at Draco, a killing curse trembling on the end of his tongue. But, before he could say it, Draco had Disapparated with a pop of white noise.
The Order alternately mourned the death of Ginny Weasley and cursed the name Draco Malfoy, and Harry's voice was just as loud and vehement as the rest of them.
Still, midnight found him on his knees and elbows in Draco's tent, his cries muffled by the flesh of his own forearm as Draco held him down and fucked him.
"I hate you," Harry muttered into the dark.
"I know you do," Draco said. He tangled his fingers in Harry's hair and jerked his head back sharply. "I killed your sweet little girlfriend," he whispered into Harry's ear as he thrust into his body. "I killed her… and I liked it."
Harry pushed back against him and moaned. "W—Why?"
Draco made a sound between a hiss and a breathless laugh. "Why not?"
"She never—oh, god, do that again…"
Draco thrust, stroking over the spot again. "Like that?"
Harry whimpered. "Yes…"
"She never did anything to you," Harry said, some time later. "Why did you hate her?"
"I didn't hate her, Potter," Draco said. "I don't hate anyone anymore. I'm too tired to hate."
"But… but you said that when you killed her…"
"That I liked it?" Draco finished for him. "I did. I always have. That's why I'm a Death Eater and you're shining Saint Potter. I like the taste of blood on my tongue. I find the fading beat of a heart under my hands very close to erotic, and my favorite color is green. I'm not a good person, Harry. I don't know what I could have ever done to make you think I was."
Harry sighed and rolled over on his back to stare up at the ceiling of the tent. "I don't really hate you."
Draco made a chuffing sound of amusement. "Maybe not. But you want to hate me. That's almost the same thing."
Harry rolled over, pressed his face into the curve of Draco's neck, and inhaled the familiar sharp musk scent of him. "I'll still try to kill you in the morning."
Draco smiled faintly and trailed his fingers down Harry's spine. "I know."
"Do you remember when we were kids in school? How we thought then that we hated each other?
"We had no idea…"
"We were young."
"I wish… I wish I had known then…"
"Do you honestly think it would have made any difference?"
"…I don't know."
"Go to sleep, Potter. You'll want to be feeling your best when you try to kill me tomorrow."
"Touch me. I don't want to sleep."
Harry sat on a scorched log with his head bent and his hands between his knees staring down at the broken remains of George Weasley.
Harry twitched and lifted his head to stare at Hermione with glazed eyes.
"Harry, they have to take the body now," she said sadly.
Harry took a deep breath and nodded, then slowly got to his feet. "It's better this way," he said after a moment. Hermione looked like he'd said something particularly foul, but he didn't notice. "It's what he wanted. After Fred…"
"That doesn't make it right," Hermione said angrily.
Harry sighed. "No. But I don't think anything else would have made it better."
He started to walk away, but Hermione called him back.
"They caught some of the Death Eaters," she said.
Harry lifted a brow. It was an unconscious gesture that he had picked up from Draco, but no one knew that and it served him well.
"Er… Crabbe, McNair, Malfoy—"
Hermione hesitated at the sharp tone of his voice. Harry gave her a hard look and she stammered, "Dr—Draco. Draco Malfoy. He… Moody hit him with a stunning spell, he—"
But Harry wasn't listening anymore. "I want to see him."
Hermione nervously wrung her hands. "Why?"
He glared at her fiercely. "Do I need a reason?"
"No. No, of course not, I just… I just wondered."
"I want to see him," Harry repeated. "Now. Take me to him."
Hermione looked away from him and when she looked back, her eyes were as cold as he'd ever seen them. "They're going to execute him."
Harry felt the world disappear beneath his feet. "When?"
"Tomorrow." Hermione nibbled on her bottom lip. "It's no better than he deserves. I'm going to watch. I hope it hurts. I hope he screams. I hope—"
"Shut the fuck up, Hermione," Harry snarled, cutting off her words as effectively as a slap to the face. "Take me to him. Now."
When Harry entered the tent, his eyes immediately searched out and found Draco kneeling on the dirt floor, his arms bound in thick manacles, his head slightly bent, resting in the crook of his arm.
"Hello, Harry," Draco said, without lifting his head. "You shouldn't be here."
"Because I don't want you here, you fool," Draco hissed, finally lifting his head to look at him.
"Ron tells me they gave you a choice," Harry said, moving closer to him.
Draco made a short, raspy sound in the back of his throat that might have been a laugh. "If you can call it a choice."
"You chose death," Harry said flatly.
Draco's eyes narrowed. "Don't give me that shit, Potter. You know as well as I do that if it had been a real choice, a choice between life and death, I would have chosen life."
"The Kiss…" Harry ran a hand through his hair and looked at him helplessly. "You'd still be alive."
Draco snorted. "I don't want to live that badly."
"Some of them are saying that it wouldn't make any difference," Harry said. "That you're too evil to have a soul and it wouldn't do anything to you."
Draco looked at him, just looked, and said nothing. It was that I know you look that he had, only, for the first time, Harry realized that it worked both ways. It could also mean, You know me. You know better than that.
Harry nodded and put his face in his hands.
Draco tilted his head to one side and regarded him curiously. "Are you going to cry?" he asked.
"I might," Harry said, a little defiantly.
Draco shook his head. "Let me tell you a little something about good and evil, Harry… There is no such thing. There is no such thing as good and evil and right and wrong. There are losers and there are winners. That's all. You win, I lose, and you can tell the world that your side was right, that you were noble, and honest, and true. That I, and everyone like me, was wrong and evil, and black to the core. If you win, you can tell that to the world, and the world will believe it."
"I don't believe that," Harry said, but his voice shook just a little.
Draco shrugged. "You will. What do you think we fight for? Do you think we do it just to fulfill the role of villain? Do you think we don't believe in our cause as much as you believe in yours? Your people aren't the only ones dying out there, you know. I've lost friends, too. You've killed just as many as I have, Potter. Don't go trying to pretend that your hands are clean. Not to me."
Shaking, Harry knelt in front of Draco. He lifted a hand as though to touch his face, and then let it fall back into his lap. "There's nothing I can do," he whispered in a tight, anguished voice. "They're going to burn you tomorrow, and there's nothing I can do. I can't stop it, and I can't… I can't watch."
Harry looked up, met Draco's cool grey eyes, and felt the sting of tears gathering behind his own. "What?"
"I'm afraid of fire," Draco said tonelessly.
"Oh, god," Harry whispered. He pulled Draco to him and kissed him on the eyes, the cheeks, nose, mouth, forehead, neck, everywhere he could touch, trying to map and memorize his lovely, delicate features. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I can't… I tried… they won't listen…"
"Shhh," Draco soothed. There were tears caught in the corners of Harry's eyes and Draco touched them with his fingertips. "I think… I will miss you most of all," he murmured.
"If… Draco, if things had been different…"
"Things could never have been different," Draco said.
Harry's bottom lip trembled and his breath shook when he let it out. "Why not? You know what's going to happen… what they… what they're going to do to you. How can you…?"
Draco sighed and bent his head to rest it on Harry's shoulder. "If this is the price I have to pay, know this: I would do it again. All of it. I would kill, betray, maim—and I would love you, anyway."
"Don't," Harry said in a small voice. "Don't say that to me. Not now. You can't have both."
Draco's lips curved in a knowing smile, and he sat back to look Harry in the eye. "Oh, but don't you see? I did."
"I can't bear this," Harry said. "I can't. I can't watch them kill you. I know you're going to ask me to be there, but I can't do it."
"Please," Draco said. He reached out and cupped Harry's face in one hand. "Everyone who loves me is dead. There is no one else."
"I can't," Harry said roughly. "I can't. Please don't ask me."
"I already have," Draco said, sitting back. He tried to look indifferent, but only succeeded in looking tired and sad.
They were both quiet for a long while: Harry watching Draco like he meant to etch his figure into his memory; Draco watching the tiny glowing dust motes dancing in the canvas filtered pre-dusk light.
"Fire," Draco said, breaking the silence at last. "Why did it have to be fire?"
In the end, Draco extracted a promise from Harry. All he wanted, he said, was for Harry to stand there and not hate him. Harry knew what he really wanted and could not bring himself to say. Draco wanted him to stand there and watch him die and want, with every part of his being capable of wanting anything, for Draco to live. He needed someone there who knew more than the blood on his hands and the stains on his soul. Someone who would cry out in anguish at his passing, not triumph.
"It is cruel of me to ask you for this," he said, brushing the tears from the corners of Harry's eyes. "I know that it's cruel. Still… I ask it. I need it."
And Harry nodded his head in silent agreement. "I can't save you," he whispered. "Fucking hell, I should be able to save you!"
Draco said nothing, merely pulled Harry close and kissed him. He kissed him slowly, like he had all the time in the world to spend doing just that. It was Harry who changed that calm, knowing kiss, to something more, something a little more needy, with a sharp edge of desperation. It was Harry who kissed Draco like it was the last kiss he would ever have.
Which was as it should be.
Draco was led out of the tent on the end of a heavy iron chain.
It was morning, though the only sign of it was the soft lightening of the darkness along the eastern horizon.
"Wait," Harry said, stepping forward and placing a restraining hand on the arm of Draco's guard. "A moment, please?"
The guard nodded and moved a little away. No doubt everyone watching them now thought the same thing they had been thinking a few hours earlier when Harry finally left the tent where Draco was being held prisoner. That he was saying something witty and scathing. Something hateful and angry. That he hated Draco and wanted him to know it before they killed him.
"The sun is coming up," Draco said, his gaze far away, but almost serene in a strange and disturbing way. "I can't remember the last time I watched the sun rise."
Draco looked at him and his lips twitched in a small smile that was almost natural. Save for the swirl of fear behind his eyes, Harry might have mistaken it for such. "Will you do something for me, Harry?"
Harry swallowed and closed his eyes. He would not cry, not here. He would not. "What?"
"Watch the sun rise when I'm gone," Draco said. "And Harry?"
"Don't let them see you cry. It's weak."
"Mr. Potter," the guard said, stepping forward again, the chain to Draco's manacles still clutched tightly in his fist. "I have to take him now. They're waiting."
Harry looked around at all the expectant faces watching him and Draco, their eyes gleaming in the torchlight like the gimlet eyes of carrion birds. "Yes, I can see that," Harry said wryly. He took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. Draco had said not to cry, and for his sake, he would not cry. "Very well. Take him."
"Thank you, sir," the guard said, then gave Draco's chain a fierce jerk, making him stumble forward. "Come on. You've got a date to keep. Wouldn't want to be late, now, would we?"
"No, we wouldn't want that," Draco said under his breath, his voice dripping with sarcasm. As he was led away, Draco gave Harry one last, lingering look, then, of all things, winked at him.
Harry watched him as he was led up the steps to the pyre that had been erected in the night. A circle of woven sticks, set atop a raised platform to make it easier for the onlookers to watch the flesh melt from his bones and see the screams burn in his throat. He watched in a kind of numb silence as Draco was bound to the pillar at the center of the pyre with more chains. Thick chains and small, iron, steel, and bronze, all flashing cheerfully in the light from a thousand torches.
Draco held his head high and kept his eyes on the eastern horizon. Perhaps the sun would rise over the mountains before it was over. Perhaps… perhaps he would see it.
The thick clunk, clunk, clunk of Alastor Moody's wood leg on the platform drew his attention away from the sky for a moment.
Moody halted right in front of him, his one beetle brown eye boring into Draco's cool grey ones, the other eye, the false magical one, swirling crazily in his skull. "Malfoy," he said in his gruff voice. "I'm supposed to ask if you have anything to say."
Draco lifted a brow at him and waited.
"So, you got anything to say?"
"Yeah," Draco said, curling his lip contemptuously. "Fuck you."
Moody nodded and stepped back to face the crowd. "Draco Malfoy, you are guilty of the deaths of Fred Weasley, Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Minerva McGonagall, Luna Lovegood, Rubeus Hagrid, Seamus Finnegan, and Lavender Brown."
Draco smirked. "Among others," he said quietly. He had the satisfaction of watching Moody's jaw clench in anger.
"Given the choice between taking the Kiss and death, you chose death," Moody continued.
There was a low murmuring from the crowd of onlookers, interspersed with a few shouts.
Moody turned his face away from the crowd to speak for Draco's ears only. "Hear that, boy? It's your blood they're crying out for. How does it feel to know that your death is a cause for joy?"
Draco met the old man's eyes directly. He was afraid. He was so very afraid, but he concealed it well and Moody saw nothing but arrogance and anger. "How does it feel to know that it doesn't matter? You can kill me… But you've still lost."
Moody glared at him. "You'll still be dead."
Draco laughed. "Yes, I will be. But do you want me to tell you a little secret, Mad-Eye?"
"Why not? It's your breath you're wasting."
Draco smirked. "You might have won. But there is one person out there watching this who will mourn for me. One person. And because of that, you have already lost this war. You're already dead, you crazy old fuck, you just don't know it yet."
Moody stepped back with a wordless snarl of rage. He turned and gestured with one scarred and twisted hand to a man standing close by with a torch. "Burn him."
Moody descended the dais and Draco turned his gaze back to the skyline.
Harry stood toward the front of the crowd between Ron and Hermione and watched as the first torch was shoved into the base of the pyre of sticks. Draco was not looking at the fire as it caught and began climbing toward him, but Harry was watching closely and saw him tremble.
"He's afraid of fire," Harry said hollowly.
"Good," Ron said savagely. "I hope he's fucking terrified."
Harry closed his eyes briefly, holding back the tears and screams of anguish and denial that wanted to escape. Searching inside himself for reserves of strength he was not certain he possessed. "He is," Harry said to Ron. "If it comforts you to know… he is."
Ron and Hermione both gave him a strange look, but Harry didn't notice. He was watching Draco. He was watching as the loved ones of the dead went forward and placed their torches at the base of the pyre. Ginny's husband, Fred's wife, Luna's father… so many.
Harry drew his wand out of the sleeve of his tunic and held it lightly in his right hand. He watched Draco's face, his lovely, cold, aristocratic face, and willed him to look down.
"Look at me," Harry whispered under his breath. "Look at me, Draco."
The fire had reached him, and, as it licked at his clothes and singed the tips of his pale hair, Draco finally broke and cried out. His wide, frightened eyes met Harry's through the flames.
Harry pointed his wand at him and the tip flared green. Draco saw it and an understanding passed between them. He nodded.
"I'm sorry," Harry said softly. "I'm so sorry."
The flames reached out for him and Draco's clothes caught fire. He threw his head back and screamed in mingled pain and terror, and Harry finally found the courage to say the words.
The pyre and everything on it had been reduced to nothing but ash and glowing embers when the sun topped the horizon.
Harry sat alone, trailing the fingers of one hand through the hot ashes, caressing them almost. In his other hand, he held his wand.
He had promised Draco that he would watch the sun come up for him, and he did, but he didn't really see it. He was alone now, and there was no one to see, so he let himself cry. He wept silently and watched the sun turn the sky pink and orange and purple, and finally, clear blue.
He wept and contemplated the tip of his wand as it slowly began to glow green.
…Struck down in the best, the brightest of days, when so much depends on one soul and the world trembles as though it cannot go on…