A/N: A couple of things about this fic first. It's based on Jesse McCartney's song, "Invincible", so the lyrics at the beginning and end belong to him. And I wrote this while I was very sick and delirious, so a lot of things might not make sense (such as Harry's climbing up the Gryffindor tower...from the outside). Also, this is the first time I've really written Harry/Draco, so I'm not sure how it turned out...but yeah, enjoy.
I said don't do it babe
Said it ain't worth it babe
But you did it anyway
Four or five drinks and you were on your way
Everything was cool on the straight away
But you took that turn doing eighty-five in a thirty-five
Over the summer of 1997, the second wizarding war, which had been slowly building up over the course of the past year, finally exploded with a vengeance.
The Dark Lord's followers had an advantage, for the other side had fallen into a state of confusion following the death of Dumbledore. Lost in a battle-torn world without the Dumbledore's guiding light, they had surrendered the small edge they had held over the enemy. Muggle-borns were brutally murdered, while others under Scrimgeour's rule began disappearing at alarming rates. Death Eaters and dark creatures ran loose; still, the Aurors fought on with hopeless determination. Under black skies riddled with serpent-tongued skulls, witches and wizards of all ages cried for help.
They believed in him: the Chosen One, the Boy Who Lived, the one fate had selected to lead them through the war. For the past few years he had been living under Hogwarts's protection, but the time had arrived for him to emerge from hiding and fight.
"He'll come," parents promised tearfully as they cradled their frightened children in their arms. "He'll come, and when he does, it will all be over, because he's the only one who has the power to kill You-Know-Who. When he comes, the world will be saved."
On the evening of September 1, 1997, Harry Potter climbed up to the roof of the Gryffindor tower. He stumbled once or twice as he scrambled upwards, but regained his footing quickly; many years of Quidditch had, after all, endowed him with swifter-than-average reflexes.
Upon reaching the peak, a shudder passed through him — not because he was cold; indeed, the night was unusually warm and humid; but because the sensation of being so high above the rest of the world was both thrilling and terrifying at once.
As he sat down, he tried not to look over the edge. Even though he flew frequently, he still felt a twinge of fear. Then again, it was one thing to soar hundreds of metres above the ground on a broomstick but quite another to be sitting on an equally-high rooftop where he had absolutely no control over external forces that might cause him to lose his balance.
A gentle breeze drifted by, teasing his unruly black hair and ruffling his thin robes playfully. He sighed and sat back, trying to relax.
The summer had been hard for him. After leaving Godric's Hollow, he had spent much of the time searching for Voldemort's Horcruxes with Ron and Hermione to no avail. All the while, the wizarding world's dependence on him had been an unrelenting weight on his shoulders.
He wasn't quite sure why he had decided to return to Hogwarts for the day. Perhaps it was to say good-bye to the school in case something happened to him. McGonagall still didn't have a clue what he was planning, but he had felt it would only be proper to let her know that he wouldn't be returning to school.
Harry stared listlessly into the distance. The soft luminescence of the moon spilled over the grounds, causing everything to emit an almost ethereal glow. Even the treetops of the Forbidden Forest, which were usually dark even during the day, seemed to reflect the moon's pale light. Harry couldn't help but marvel at the curious serenity of the scene. It was like an illusion, one that was even more unreal and intangible than a dream, yet dreamlike all the same.
"Never would've figured you'd be one to enjoy the moon," said a sudden quiet voice from behind him.
Harry didn't even bother turning around, for he knew already who it was, as is common in dreams. Instead, he said thoughtfully, "I never thought you'd turn up in one of my dreams, Malfoy."
Draco nimbly slid down to Harry and seated himself beside him. "You don't sound surprised, Potter."
"I'm not," Harry admitted. His eyes flicked over to Draco, but the other boy's hair was in his face, preventing Harry from catching his expression. "What're you doing here?"
"I thought you said this was a dream," Draco said, contempt laced into his cool voice. "If this was a dream, you wouldn't need to ask."
"Well, I still want to know," Harry snapped. "Why aren't you with Snape?"
Harry exhaled loudly. "I see. Why?"
"Why does it matter?" Draco demanded.
"Because I want to know," Harry said bluntly. He was starting to feel annoyed. Why couldn't he have dreamt up a more compliant Draco?
Draco ran a hand through his hair. His fingers appeared white under the light of the moon. "What goes on amongst us is none of your business, Potter, so do me a favour and shut up. Besides, I didn't come up here to talk to you."
Against his will, Harry was curious. "Why did you come up, then?"
"It's my last night."
Harry blinked, confused. "Last night? What do you mean, last night? Last night of what?"
"You ask too many questions," Draco said with a hint of exasperation. "If you want to talk so badly, tell me how to kill you."
Harry was more than a little taken aback this time. This dream was getting very weird. Cautiously, he said, "Are you going to kill me?"
"Don't be stupid," Draco said irritably. He slipped a little; Harry tensed up, but then he realised that Draco had only been adjusting his position. "If I had been here to kill you, I would have done it before I let you know that I was here."
"Then why do you want to know?" Harry asked, puzzled.
"In case you haven't noticed, I work for your mortal enemy," Draco said sarcastically. "Honestly, Potter, if you were any slower, you'd be going backwards."
Harry raised his eyebrows slightly. "You said that to Goyle in second year."
"How'd you know?" Draco asked, sounding mildly surprised that Harry had retained this bit of knowledge.
"Ron and I snuck into your common room as Crabbe and Goyle in second year," Harry explained. No point in hiding it from him if this is just a dream, he reasoned.
"Why the hell would you do that?" It was more of a bemused question than an angry one.
Harry frowned. Now that he thought about it, he didn't really remember why they had decided to go through with such a dangerous plan. "We wanted to find out more about the Chamber of Secrets," he said finally with a shrug.
Draco rolled his eyes. "Potter, I'd already told you that I didn't know any more than you did about the Chamber."
Harry let out a snort of incredulous laughter. "You expected us to trust you?"
Draco finally turned around to look at Harry. Harry blinked as their eyes met, grey to green, Slytherin colours. Draco's eyes seemed to melt into two shining pools of silver, grey, and slate under the moonlight, and as Harry stared into them, an overwhelming sense of inexplicable sadness rose up inside of him.
"Do you trust me now?" Draco inquired quietly, leaning forward slightly. His eyes bore into Harry's in a very intimidating manner.
Harry shifted uncomfortably. "Um…" he stammered awkwardly.
Draco arched a blond eyebrow and smirked. "Is that a no?"
"Of course it's a no," Harry shot back defensively, regaining his ability to think straight. He glared at Draco. "You joined Voldemort's side and betrayed Dumbledore. I'd be crazy if I did trust you."
Draco leaned back, and Harry breathed a sigh of relief. "But Dumbledore trusted me, didn't he? He offered me another chance."
"Well, Dumbledore was wrong about Snape," Harry said angrily, his chest tightening painfully as he said the words. Wrong. Dumbledore had been wrong all along.
"Do you really think he was?"
"Of course I do!" Harry exclaimed. The sadness he had felt just moments ago trickled away, leaving an empty, aching sort of bitterness behind. "If Dumbledore had seen through Snape, he'd still be here and I wouldn't…I wouldn't have to…"
"'The Chosen One'," said Draco thoughtfully, cutting into Harry's tirade. "That's what they call you now, is it? I can't say I agree, though."
"Well, it's not like I'm chuffed about it either," Harry retorted, perturbed by the dream Draco's calm character.
Draco shook his head. "No, I meant that I don't think you deserve it. You whine too much about people's expectations of you. It's very immature of you, Potter, especially when the entire world is depending on your abilities."
"You're one to talk about being immature," Harry scoffed. He was beginning to regret this dream. "How have you been getting along without Snape anyway? I thought Voldemort would've killed you for sure when he found out you failed."
A cloud drifted over the moon, partially masking Draco's scowl. "I'm not completely incompetent," he said stiffly. "The Dark Lord had other uses for me, and I couldn't be happier fulfilling them."
"Yeah, only because it kept you from dying at his hands," Harry pointed out.
When Draco didn't reply, Harry smiled smugly and leaned back so that he was lying across the roof, his hands gripping the tiles beneath him tightly. It was an awkward position, but Harry somehow liked it better this way.
"Why didn't you accept Dumbledore's offer?" Harry asked after a few minutes of silence.
Draco glanced fleetingly at him. "I think…" he said in a low voice, "I think I would have. If Snape hadn't burst in, I might have given in."
"Oh." Harry had suspected this, but it was still odd to hear Draco himself say it. "There's still time, you know. You don't have to do this — work for Voldemort, that is. I could find you and bring you back."
"Why would you do that for me?"
"Because Dumbledore would've wanted it," Harry said softly. He gazed up at the sparse stars twinkling in the sky, wondering vaguely if any of them were part of constellations. Astronomy had never been one of his strong subjects.
What sounded like a sigh escaped from Draco. "You define your life according to what that old man told you. Don't you think that's a little ridiculous?"
"No," Harry replied immediately. "Dumbledore knows — knew — everything."
Draco laughed. His laugh was cold, melting through the balmy night air like ice in lukewarm water. "You really are pathetic."
"Yeah, and how do you define your life?" Harry replied bitingly. The rough surface of the tiles dug into his palms as his grip tightened. "By what your father says? By what Snape says? By what Voldemort says? Because that's not pathetic at all…"
"My father is in Azkaban and Snape is dead," Draco said impassively. "The Dark Lord's word is everything, though."
Dream or not, Harry had never hated Draco as much as he did at that moment. "I'm sure you won't be thinking that when he's torturing you," he said icily.
"We all think we're right, don't we?" Draco said as a way of response.
"You're never right, Malfoy," Harry said in spite of the smile that curled the corners of his lips. "You never will be if you keep on trusting Voldemort."
"I don't trust him," Draco replied coolly. "I follow him. There's a difference."
"But don't you ever wish you didn't have to?" Harry asked curiously. "Aren't you ever scared? Don't you ever wish you could switch over to our side and do whatever you want?"
"I already do whatever I want, Potter," Draco drawled. "I want to serve the Dark Lord. And it's not as if I could be free if I joined up with your lot anyway."
"Look at you."
Harry bristled indignantly. "What do you mean, look at me? I'm completely free. I'm not controlled by anyone."
"There's the war," Draco pointed out. "You feel like you're bearing the weight of everyone's hopes, don't you? Even you know you're chained down by their expectations, by the prophecy, by your notion of 'right'. You're being screwed over, Potter."
Harry opened his mouth to protest, but he couldn't think of anything appropriate to say. Draco was right, in a way. "I wouldn't say 'screwed over'," he said weakly.
"But you agree," Draco commented. He cocked his head, a movement Harry caught out of the corner of his eye. "That's the difference between you and me. I live without a care; you live with all the cares in the world."
"Or so you'd like to think," said Harry, tilting his head to the side so that he could look at Draco. "No one lives without a care, not even spoiled sods like you."
"You think the fact that I'm here right now doesn't prove that I don't give a damn?" Draco asked, glancing at Harry with a crooked smile. "Do you know what would happen if I was found?"
"Well, it doesn't matter, does it?" said Harry mildly, only slightly aware of the flush that rose in his cheeks in response to Draco's unguarded smile. "If someone finds you and decides to kill you for not turning me in, I'll just wake up and you'll be back in the real world doing favours for Voldemort."
"How considerate of you," Draco said, his smile twisting into a sneer. "It would be nice if you could control the world like that, wouldn't it? You'd be invincible."
Harry was confused. "You mean this isn't a dream?"
Draco simply laughed. "It's amazing how naïve you are, Potter. I find it hard to believe that you're the only one who can kill the Dark Lord."
"Me too." The words left Harry's lips before he could even think about them. He inhaled shakily and continued. "I don't know if I can do it. I want to but…I dunno. A lot of things aren't going well right now."
"Shame," Draco remarked coldly. He smiled again when he took in Harry's affronted expression. "Sorry, Potter, you're not going to find any sympathy here."
"Whatever," Harry muttered. His eyelids fluttered closed; he suddenly felt tired. This dream was getting to be tiresome. Wake up already, he urged himself.
There was a soft rustling sound followed by Draco saying lightly, "You might fall."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked nervously, his eyes flying open. He swallowed when he noticed that Draco had moved closer to him. "Why would I fall now?"
"You let your guard down," Draco said with a shrug. "If I were you, I'd never let my guard down."
"Well, you're not me," Harry said wearily, covering his eyes with one of his arms. The hard rim of his glasses dug into his skin. "Besides, it's okay for me to let my guard down in a dream, isn't it? Nothing can happen to me here."
"You never know." Draco glanced at Harry from beneath lowered eyelashes. Harry wondered why he was noticing Draco's eyelashes in the first place.
A gust of wind blew by, and Harry automatically dropped his hand and clutched at the rooftop. His heart beat furiously against his ribcage even after the momentary terror passed. "I guess you're right," he said through gritted teeth.
Harry expected Draco to say something arrogant in response, but instead, Draco carefully lowered his body so that he was lying next to Harry. "It's sort of exhilarating, lying on the roof like this, isn't it?" he observed.
Harry's heart was suddenly pounding faster, and not for reasons related to falling. "Y-yes," he stammered.
Unwittingly, his eyes took in Draco's profile. The sharp lines of the other boy's face were softened by the pale glow of the moon, and wisps of his white-blond hair fluttered gently as he exhaled. Harry's breath caught in his throat as he fought the urge to reach out and touch Draco, just to see if he was real, just to see if maybe this wasn't a dream after all.
"You know, I never understood why you refused my friendship on the first day of school," Draco said, apparently oblivious to Harry's fluttered nerves. "I don't think I would have hated you as much as I did if you hadn't turned me down."
"Well, as much as I would like to continue hating you, Potter, things are different now." Draco flipped over onto his side so that he could gaze at Harry. "Hating you requires too much energy and time. I have other things to do."
"Yeah," Harry said, his voice nearly inaudible. "Malfoy, if this is a dream, why —?"
"Shut up, Potter," Draco interrupted. His eyes gleamed, silver and grey and slate and every shade in between, as he propped himself up on one hand and reached up with the other to take Harry's glasses off. "You ask too many questions."
And with that, he leaned down and pressed his lips against Harry's. Harry let out a small gasp of surprise as Draco buried his fingers in Harry's hair and forced him to lean back, deepening the kiss. For a split second, he froze; then, before he could understand what he was doing or why he was doing it, he was kissing Draco back.
Harry tasted bitterness and anger on the Draco's lips, and it scared him and gave him a strange, twisted sense of pleasure all at once, because it was then that it hit him that it was real — Draco's tongue forcing him to part his lips, Draco's fingers entwined with his, Draco's body pressed against his — and that they were really on the roof of the Gryffindor tower under the star-dotted sky…
Draco pulled away then, but only enough so that Harry could breathe again. He was bent over Harry, strands of his hair falling around Harry's face like a glowing curtain, his eyes shining in the darkness like the incandescent moon above them. The sound of their ragged breathing intermingled in the silent night, and their chests rose and fell in flawless synchrony — an illusion of perfection, more than just a dream, because suddenly it was reality.
"Don't —" Harry choked out, but Draco silenced him by leaning down and capturing his lips in his own again. The kiss was slower and softer this time, a sort of leisurely exploration of each other's mouths for both of them. Draco's hands slid along Harry's shoulders, pushing his robes aside gently before returning to Harry's face.
They broke apart again. As Harry struggled to catch his breath, Draco licked his earlobe, eliciting a quiet moan from him. "S-stop," he gasped as Draco began placing burning kisses down the side of his neck. "I — ahhh…"
"Still worried about falling?" Draco breathed, looking up with raised eyebrows.
"No!" Harry protested in a strangled voice. "It's just that" — Draco's hands slithering up his shirt — "this is" — cold palms against his burning skin — "we're not" — on the rooftop —
"There's always a first time for everything," Draco murmured silkily into Harry's ear as his fingers teased with Harry's belt buckle.
Draco smirked and pulled his hands out from under Harry's shirt. "I didn't mean that, Potter."
Harry gulped and closed his eyes tightly. His cheeks burned as he choked out, "We're on the bloody roof!"
Draco laughed softly. "Exactly. Your first time doing something reckless."
"It's not my first time!" he exclaimed. He stared up at Draco, noting how oddly blurred the lines of the other boy's face were. "Malfoy, give me my glasses back."
"Not a chance," Draco said, grinning wickedly. He moved over so that he was sitting beside Harry again.
Harry frowned. "Is this a dream or not?" he asked, almost afraid to hear the answer.
With a shrug, Draco replied, "Is it to you?"
"I don't know," Harry said, sitting up as well. He glanced over at Draco. "That — this — it can't be real, can it?" He hesitated. "But…but if it isn't, then this war — is it part of the dream too?"
Draco shook his head in amazement. "You're still asking questions."
"You just kissed me!" Harry accused, lunging at Draco in an attempt to get his glasses back. Draco dodged his efforts. "I think I deserve to ask questions in circumstances like these."
"Let me pose one first then," said Draco, leaning towards Harry until their foreheads touched and their bangs mixed together, black and white like the stars against the night sky. "Why did you kiss me back?"
Helpless to pull back, Harry said softly, "I don't know."
Draco's eyes gleamed triumphantly. "There you have it. Without a care."
Then, before Harry could think of a response, Draco stiffened and jerked away. He looked over his shoulder wildly, as though trying to spot an invisible intruder. Confused, Harry looked in the same direction but saw nothing.
"Malfoy?" he said warily.
"Shit," Draco muttered, ignoring Harry. He stood up abruptly and teetered dangerously before regaining his balance. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out Harry's glasses. "Here," he said tersely, tossing them to Harry.
Harry caught them, surprised. "Where are you going?" he demanded.
Draco looked over his shoulder at Harry as he turned around. There was something in his eyes that made the mysterious sadness Harry had felt earlier surface again.
"I told you this was my last night, didn't I?" he said hollowly.
And with that, Draco slid off the edge of the roof.
Harry's eyes widened, and he scrambled quickly downwards until he was peering over the edge. "Malfoy, what the —?"
But there was nothing. No sign of Draco, not even a yell of pain or anything of the sort; nothing but blackness. Harry sat back, shocked and confused all at once. Where in the world had Draco disappeared to?
Harry touched a hand to his lips, wondering if he was going insane. Had he just imagined the whole encounter with Draco? It couldn't be true…when they had kissed, Harry had been positive that it was all real…but now he was no longer sure. After all, people didn't disappear off rooftops in real life.
If this really was a dream, then, what had been the point of it?
"I live without a care; you live with all the cares in the world."
Incomplete understanding dawned upon Harry. Of course. That was it. Draco had been sent by whichever higher power was in charge of dreams to preach to Harry about living his life out to the fullest. Harry almost laughed at the absurdity of it all.
Still, as he began to climb back down towards the ground, he couldn't chase away the nagging feeling that his encounter with Draco had been more than just a delusion woven by his mind.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione left Hogwarts early the next morning. On their way out they stopped to say good-bye to no one, hoping that their absence would not be missed by the students and staff until it was too late to do anything.
"So where do we go now?" Harry asked wearily, yawning and scratching the back of his head. Against his will, recollections of the night before still preoccupied his mind. The details of it stood vivid and clear in his thoughts, and Harry couldn't help but replay them over and over again, wondering desperately if it had been real or imaginary.
"…mountains, according to her," Hermione was saying. She paused and looked at Harry with concern. "Are you okay, Harry? You seem a little distracted."
"Fine," Harry said shortly. "I'm just a little worried. Because we can't really do anything until we find those Horcruxes, right?"
Hermione nodded reluctantly.
"Hey, Harry, I've got something that might cheer you up," Ron suddenly said. He fumbled around in one of his pockets, pulled out a crumpled newspaper clipping, and offered it to Harry. "Here. The story's a bit old and you've probably heard it already, but I think it'll interest you. Dad's quoted in it."
Harry took the article and unfolded it. He stifled a gasp when he saw a black-and-white photograph of Draco's face scowling up at him. Underneath the picture were the words:
August 26, 1997 — Draco Malfoy, 17, was discovered dead by Aurors in a remote area of the Forbidden Forest yesterday evening. The exact cause of the Death Eater's death is not known, but Ministry officials speculate that it involved treachery.
"The word 'TRAITOR' was carved deeply into his chest," Auror Frank Dawlish explains with a grimace. "Considering how nasty those Death Eaters are, it's likely that they left him to die from those wounds. This is, of course, good news for us, but the story's still a bit sad, don't you think? The boy was only seventeen; he hadn't even finished school yet…"
Adds Arthur Weasley, Head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office, "Malfoy was a classmate of Harry Potter's. It's possible that they came into some sort of contact and Malfoy failed to seize the chance and kill Harry. Rumour even has it that spectacles resembling Harry's were found on the body, but that hasn't been confirmed yet."
Here the article had been ripped off. Stunned, Harry didn't even seem to notice when it fell out of his grip and fluttered to the ground. Instead, he removed his glasses and stared at them, wide-eyed with realisation.
"You all right, Harry?"
But their words didn't reach him. All Harry could hear was the echo of Draco's words the night before:
"You'd be invincible."
Harry's lips curled upwards.
"Yeah," he whispered softly, and Hermione and Ron exchanged alarmed looks.
"Harry?" Hermione ventured again.
But Harry was already walking away, his head ducked slightly, his glasses still clutched in one hand. The article lay on the grass behind him — grey against green, Slytherin colours.
Who ever said that life was fair
When you live without a care
When you're invincible
When you're invincible
When you're invincible
Who thinks about leaving when you're living?