'To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven.' – Karen Sunde

The Rose Garden – Chapter One: That Strange Night

It was a strange night. It was the kind of night when the entire world seemed much smaller. There was a sense of expectation in the air, something that made it seem to sparkle all around you. The world was close. Intimate. Special.

On this strange night, at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the sunny day had long before bowed to the darkest night. The walls of the castle were shadowed, as there were no torches to shoot light from the many windows.

The seemingly endless floors and corridors within were completely deserted, and silent as a tomb. All of the students were in their dorms, fast asleep, as they should have been. It was approaching 3 o' clock in the morning, so it was no wonder everyone was asleep.

Everyone, that is, except Harry Potter.

He couldn't sleep.

Surprisingly, this was a rare occurrence for him. Considering who he was and what he had been through in his six years at the school, sleep had never been an issue. He would always go to bed, lie down, and be asleep within half an hour, guaranteed, every night. But this night, this strange, warm night in late May, he had been lying in bed for hours, and nothing yet.

His friends' rasping snores filled the dorm room. Loudest of all came from the bed to the left of his – Ron's bed.

Harry sat upright in his bed, arms wrapped tightly around his knees. His chin rested on top of his kneecaps as he stared unseeingly into the shadows floating over the sheets.

He closed his eyes, willing the overwhelming oblivion of sleep to take over his senses. Finding his body unwilling to obey the need, he opened his eyes and reached for his wand on the darkly wooded bedside table.

He raised it and murmured, "Tempus."

A clock appeared before his eyes, hovering slightly, numbers and hands on the face glowing green in a way that was eerie in the darkness. They told him the time was exactly 3am.

"Tempus Evanesco." He sighed, pointing his wand at the clock and watching as it disappeared from view.

The sudden absence of the glow from the clock rendered the shadows around him denser, somehow, than before. He felt restless. The dorm, filled with its beds and trunks and scattered belongings, seemed too confining. He needed to get out.

Resolute, he spelled the hangings around his four-poster open and swung his legs over the side. A swift rummage through his trunk rewarded him with his Invisibility Cloak. He knew it was not strictly necessary – at 3am, no-one would be awake to catch him out of bed, a prime reason as to why he wasn't bothering with the Marauder's Map as well – but he wanted the cloak anyway, just in case.

Besides, ever since he had received the cloak, way back in First Year, he'd taken any opportunity he could to use it. He liked the sensation of being invisible, of no one knowing where he was. It was the only time that ever happened, as during his days he was generally surrounded, and watched, by people, even his friends.

He loved his friends, he really did, but having at least one of them by his side at all times got wearisome after six years.

Harry dressed himself as quickly as he could, keeping quiet so as not to wake the others. The cloak lay on his bed, waiting patiently for him, as it always did.

Once he was decent, he reached for the cloak and fastened the long flow of silver over his shoulders. He paused for a moment, revelling in the comforting sensation of smooth, cool material, fitting snugly over his body. He looked down, seeing nothing but the floor where his body had been a moment ago. This never got old.

He slipped his wand into his pocket, and in moments had slipped from the room as smoothly as the cloak fastened around him.

HPDM

The long corridors were deserted, as he thought they would be. His faded joggers barely made a sound on the thick rugs littering the floor as he passed over them. A simple 'Lumos' upon leaving the common room meant he now held his wand aloft, the faint golden light guiding him as well as throwing into relief the paintings and portraits on the walls, giving them an oddly distorted appearance in the murky light.

He wandered aimlessly for a time, letting the light and the shadows and the endless corridors lull him into almost a trance, until his wand light revealed the smooth marble curve of the Grand Staircase banisters. He made his way down them slowly, taking his time, listening to the dull thud of his shoes on the marble. He never got to move through the castle like this. Usually it was rush, rush, rush, moving from one classroom to the next to the Great Hall and back again, smothered in warmth and light and noise…

But now, the room seemed prepared to let him take his time. It was strange, being alone in that dark, silent hall.

Harry reached the bottom of the staircase, watching the rays from his wand dance enticingly towards the huge double doors ahead of him.

Why not, Harry figured. He directed his steps straight ahead, pushing open the colossal oak doors slowly.

He breathed in the night air, relishing it. It was pleasant outside, a perfect temperature. A slight breeze flittered in from the Forest, cooling his face just the right amount. The moon, for the moment, was hidden with cloud, leaving everything in sight with a dull glow. Harry sighed in satisfaction as he set off down the stone steps to the great path below.

I might go to the rose gardens. He thought, turning to the right onto the darkened emerald grass as he did so. Two years ago, the gardens outside during the Yule Ball had been a huge hit. So much so, in fact, that Dumbledore had decided last year to make them a permanent fixture. Now, in a secluded section of the grounds, vast rose gardens could be found. There were fountains, benches, small patches of grass, all surrounded by fragrant, beautiful rose bushes.

It had become a popular alternative to the Astronomy Tower for the older students, with many a 5th, 6th or 7th year receiving detentions and losing house points since the inception of the gardens for practising unacceptable behaviour beyond curfew.

Harry knew he was safe, though. All the potential lovebirds would have fluttered off to bed by now, and the ever-prowling teachers with them. It was perfectly secluded, and perfectly safe.

He passed under the beautiful stone arc that stood as the entrance to the gardens, extinguishing the light from his wand as he did so. He did not need that intrusive light to appreciate the roses.

He wandered along the cobblestone path, pausing every now and then to admire a particularly lovely rose. He sensed that there was something about this night, this strange night. He felt calm, serene, light, patient. Wandering along, waiting for something. Waiting for what?

His answer came beyond a smaller arc, a fair way along from the larger entrance arc. Here, the roses were both blood red and purest white, contrasting each other magnificently against their background of inky green leaves.

The neat bushes ran around each other, colliding into the shape of a circle. The diameter of the cobblestone between the bushes at any given point was about four metres.

Closest to the top curve of the circle was a stone bench, which followed the curve of the bushes behind it. It was small; perhaps two metres end to end. It was made of a pale stone, though not as pale as the lily-white roses that framed it. The legs were intricately carved with swirls and loops in a pattern that reminded Harry of vines.

It was here, in this space, on this bench, Harry found him.

At first he thought it was a statue, that figure seated on the bench, for he sat so completely still he might have been a statue. He was seated, feet planted firmly on the stones, elbows resting on his knees, head buried into his hands. There was no sound, no movement, no nothing – just Harry, invisible on the other side of the circle, and the statue on the bench.

The clouds in the velvet sky above lazily began a sideways roll, allowing the silver moon to peek cautiously out from behind them.

This light slid over the scene slyly, like it had a plan for exactly how to do this. It revealed first the bushes. They looked lovelier than ever in the moonlight. Next came the bench, seeming to shine dully under the madam of the sky's rays. Finally, came him.

There was the skin, pale, alabaster skin. There were the robes; midnight-black and contrasting the skin, making it glow. There were the soft, icy blonde strands that Harry knew well.

The rose garden statue was none other than Draco Malfoy.

Before Harry had even had enough time to wonder just what, exactly, Draco Malfoy was doing in the rose gardens at 3am, he moved. The head rose from the hands, the arms moved to the sides, the head came up completely.

Harry very nearly gasped out loud, smothering the urge just in time.

Draco Malfoy had always been handsome. Harry knew this, as it took would take someone who was completely blind not to. His pale skin, silky hair and handsome features had made him the object of many girls' affections for years now.

But now, with sheets of moonlight spilling over him, Malfoy looked almost ethereal. His alabaster skin was glowing white, and the blonde hair on his head framed his face like a strange golden halo. It was his eyes, though, that caused Harry to feel unable to look away.

By day, Malfoy's eyes were a cool, steady grey, the colour of the lake just before a storm. But here, in this garden, his eyes were glowing pure silver, and they were not cool or steady at all. No, they were warm, and filled with tears.

This simple fact startled Harry more than he thought possible. Harry had known and fought with Malfoy for six long years, and not once in all that time had he ever seen Malfoy cry. Smirk, sneer, laughing with malice, yes. But crying? Never.

During the last year, their rivalry had been flourishing as well as ever. Malfoy still found opportunities to insult Harry and his friends, and to try and cause social humiliation for Harry. They'd even had several fist-fights in the corridors because of this, which usually ended with them, bruised and bleeding, being dragged to the hospital wing by a Professor and being given detentions and losing house points.

The interesting thing about these fights, Harry noted, was that whenever Malfoy had him pinned against the floor or the wall and was punching the living daylights out of him, there was a fire in his eyes beyond his normal appearance. A burning, an emotion Harry couldn't identify. It was far more powerful than hate, far more deep than loathing. Whatever it was, it was dangerous, and it was causing Malfoy to act far more rashly than he ever had before.

But this boy, sitting on the bench before him, was a far cry from the Malfoy he knew. Gone was the fire. Gone was the burning. All Harry could see was pale skin, soft hair, and eyes flowing like rain in the moonlight. And he was spellbound.

As he was standing there, staring at the rival he'd had for so long, Malfoy emitted a low, deep vibration from his throat. It took a moment to register in Harry's muddled brain that Malfoy was humming.

He hummed quietly, tunelessly it seemed, his eyes fixed on the roses vaguely to Harry's left. Harry watched, feeling a little like he was watching something he shouldn't be, but unable to look away.

"Oh." Malfoy sighed, his voice barely more than whisper on the breeze, but Harry heard him for the silence of the gardens.

He tilted his head back, glassy eyes reflecting the silvery stars in the skies above.

Harry watched, a sense of expectation filling him from head to toe. This new Malfoy was something he'd never experienced before. He wanted to know what he would do next.

Malfoy hummed again, low in his throat but with a tune this time. Harry listened, spellbound. The tune spoke of misery, of gut-deep misery, of pain, of confusion, of…love.

Malfoy suddenly straightened up, ceasing his humming. His eyes fixed back on to the roses, and Harry got the shock of his life when Malfoy began to sing.

"I can live during the day

Like nothing's going on

But I can't escape this tonight.

I can't escape this tonight."

He sang quietly, pain dripping from every word so obviously it was nearly visible. He had a good voice, harmonic, yet melancholy.

"My demons catching up with me

Dancing around my head

Reminding me of you.

And there's nothing I can do."

Malfoy's voice shook every now and then as he sang, crystal tears falling from pools of silver to splash on the cobblestone below.

"The dawn seems far away

and I call to the sky,

'Why is this happening to me?'

But no-one answers."

Harry found himself fighting the mad urge to move forward and comfort his rival, sitting broken on the bench, completely vulnerable and alone.

"So I'm sitting here, alone

I hate myself for this

Coz I'm in love, I'm in love

With you, tonight

And forever."

Harry sucked in a breath. He felt frozen to the spot, even though the air around him remained pleasantly warm.

Malfoy sucked in a breath as well now, shoulders shaking in silent sobs. He sat like that for a time, sobbing, broken on the beautiful stone bench, with Harry merely metres away, and yet too far away.

"Night brings my salvation

My haven, my safe place

But it helps me to remember

You don't love me."

His pale, slender hands were clutching the stone sides of the bench as though they were anchoring him, stopping him from letting go and floating away into oblivion.

"And it hurts so bad, love

Why does it hurt?

Love is meant to heal

Not carve into your heart."

Harry was crying now, tears sliding freely down his face, as he watched Malfoy – no, Draco – sing his pain to the gardens.

"Your eyes burn me

Your smile stabs me

Your laughter drowns me

You're killing me, my dear."

He was actually stepping forward now, hesitant, shaky steps on unstable legs, but stopped abruptly when Draco moved, eyes trailing upwards to the heavens. Harry could now see perfectly the stars mirrored in the silver orbs, could see the sheen of tears covering them.

"I want to throw myself to the sky

Offer myself to the heavens

So they can cluck their tongue and say,

'He's too far gone to save."

Draco moved his feet up to rest on the bench now, arms wrapping tight around his knees and chin resting on top of that in a gesture similar to how Harry had been positioned before, in the dorms.

"And I'm sitting here, alone

I hate myself for this

Coz I'm in love, I'm in love

With you, tonight

And forever."

There was a sense of finality to these words, and Harry knew Draco was finished. He no longer felt serene or light at all, and the sense of expectation he'd experienced earlier was completely gone, leaving him feeling confused, unsettled.

He knew no one was meant to have witnessed what had just happened, and by some bizarre coincidence, somehow, he just had. He knew Draco would absolutely pummel him if he knew Harry had been here, a witness to Draco's lament of unrequited love.

As much as he disliked Draco, because he did, the scene had left him feeling…odd. Even now, just looking at Draco, still huddled on the bench, a statue once more under the moonlight but for the occasionally shudder of his shoulders, gave him a strange feeling in his stomach. This strange night had ensured things had changed within him.

He cursed it silently, still watching Draco. He had just decided, albeit uncomfortably, that perhaps he should leave, when Draco spoke. Once more, the words were quiet; barely a whisper, and once more they were audible only due to the silent gardens surrounding the pair.

"Damn you, Potter." He whispered, eyes fixated on the roses. "Damn you for doing this to me."

He drew a deep, shaky breath.

"Damn you for making me love you."

That strange, warm late-May night. Harry hadn't been able to sleep. Something had brought him outside, made him see something he'd rather not see.

That strange, strange night.

It wasn't difficult to sense its repercussions would echo through their lives forever.

TBC

AN: Well, what do you think? Just a little idea I thought up. Probably won't be any longer than 3, maybe 4 chapters.

The lyrics to the song Draco sung were written by me. Technically, it's more of a poem, but you can still sing it, anyway.

So, thanks for reading this, and please review and let me know if you liked it or not. I don't know if I'll bother continuing it if no one likes it. Bye!

bleedingxheart