'Love is rain.' – Susie
'I love you; not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.' - Roy Croft
'Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.' - I Corinthians 13:4-8
The Rose Garden – Chapter Five: Rain in the Garden
Hermione squeezed Harry's arm gently, showing support as they made their way down the long marble staircase.
"I know you said you wanted to stay in the dorm." She said consolingly, "but I really think it's important you try and eat normally."
"Ngh." Came Harry's response, causing Hermione to chuckle in quiet amusement.
"Come on, nearly there."
They reached the double doors of the Great Hall. With another reassuring squeeze of his arm, Hermione opened the doors and led him through into the warmth and noise of the hall.
Harry did his best not to look towards the Slytherin table as he followed Hermione to the opposite side of the room, where Ron and the others hailed them cheerfully.
"Feeling better, Harry?" Ron questioned, grinning as Harry took a seat beside him. "You look much better now."
"Yeah, thanks Ron." Harry said. "You know what they say, you always feel worse in the mornings."
"Do they?" Ron frowned, puzzled by this. He shrugged unconcernedly. "Oh well. Glad you're feeling better anyway, mate."
"What was wrong with you anyway, Harry?" Seamus asked from across the table.
"Oh, you know, just a headache, and I felt kind of dizzy." Harry said nonchalantly. "It's fine now."
There wasn't much else to say, so normal conversation resumed. Ron happily returned to his bacon, while Seamus turned back to Neville and Dean. Harry poured himself some pumpkin juice and took a long gulp.
After he'd set the goblet down, Hermione leaned over. "Holding up alright?" she murmured.
"Yeah." He replied quietly. "I'm just scared to meet his eyes. I know what I'll see there."
Hermione hummed in sympathy. "I guess if all goes to plan though, you're going to be seeing it a lot more often."
"I know, which is scary in itself." Harry said. "I bet he's looking at me right now, isn't he?"
Hermione casually glanced up and then back down again. "Yes, he is. Very obviously, as well."
"I don't know how I didn't notice this before." Harry murmured to himself.
Hermione shrugged. "You had your own life, I guess." She said. "Maybe you've realised all along but never really acknowledged it."
"No, it definitely wasn't that." Harry said firmly. "I had no idea."
"How long do you think he's loved you?" Hermione mused contemplatively.
Harry shrugged as well. "I don't know. I guess I'll find out tonight, won't I?" he said.
"Yeah, I guess you will."
"What are you guys talking about?" Ron questioned through a mouthful of bacon.
"Ronald, really." Hermione said, disgusted. "And nothing. Are you going to do your History of Magic essay today? You really should, you know."
Ron swallowed thickly. "But 'Mione, it's not due until Friday!" he protested.
Harry felt distantly grateful for Hermione's expert distraction skills, as they bickered back and forth beside him. He felt guilty for not telling Ron, but Harry needed to keep his sanity intact for that night.
If that was even possible, anyway.
There was something infinitely hopeless, Draco mused, in watching your unrequited love from afar. Draco was beyond caring now that it was stalkerish, or even how unlike him it was to be so invested in another human being. His father had always taught him that to care about another person was to allow that person complete control over you. He'd drilled it into Draco the importance of never allowing this to happen.
'Sorry, Father.' Draco thought silently, as across the room, Harry smiled at something Granger said to him and Draco's heart lurched. 'I guess I failed that lesson.'
To his surprise and amazement, at that moment Harry turned and looked straight at him, with a swirl of blazing emerald. He felt in mortification the way his cheeks warmed and his heart sped up.
Harry held his gaze for a moment, before he looked away again, an unreadable expression on his face. Draco wished yet again he had the ability to read minds.
Merlin, it was only eye contact, and yet Draco was shaking, his heart hammering, his face on fire. What kind of sick being was it that enabled people to become like this through merely looking at someone?
Draco was aware he'd been behind on homework lately. It was an endless cycle – he'd have homework due, he wouldn't do it, he'd go to the rose garden, stumble back at ridiculous times like 2 or 3 or sometimes even 4 in the morning, in which case he'd collapse into bed. The next day would produce more homework, which he didn't do, and so the cycle went.
Several teachers had been enquiring after him, and more than once Draco had had to attend a personal meeting with a teacher. It was interesting, the way they all approached him differently.
McGonagall had been stern, uncompromising. He was, after all, a Slytherin, one of the hated enemies of her precious lions, so no sympathy there.
"Malfoy, if this continues it is very likely you will ultimately fail your examinations, which I needn't remind you are only in a few weeks time, so if you do not pick your act up soon you will find yourself seeing a 'D' as your Transfiguration mark when your results come back" she'd snapped. "Am I making myself clear?"
And yes, it was clear to Draco. The thing was, schoolwork problems had just seemed to have faded into nothing more than background noise in comparison to the all consuming pain that had encompassed him that seemed to be part and parcel of being in unrequited love with Harry Potter.
Which reminded him, he was meant to go and see Professor Snape after breakfast for yet another 'private meeting regarding his current performance.'
Draco hummed absently under his breath, eyes on the wood of the table, determinedly not looking at Harry. He lasted about 30 or so seconds before he was once again compelled to look up and search out that dark head of hair.
'Please kill me.' He silently begged whoever was listening as the sight of Harry smiling yet again caused his heart to skip a beat.
Draco descended the stone steps slowly, absently sensing the hypnotic way the flames flickered and danced on either side of him. Their warm light only pierced the cool air enough to illuminate the next few steps in front of him.
He moved down the long, narrow corridor, not noticing how his shoulders relaxed and movement became smoother as he did so. The dungeons were his natural environment, and even being in love with Harry Potter couldn't take away his ease within them.
Approaching the darkly wooded door of Snape's office, he knocked twice.
"Enter." Came the sneering voice of the Potions master, and Draco opened the door and went inside.
The high shelves were lined with glass jars filled with all manner of unpleasant looking objects. Resolutely ignoring them, Draco crossed the room and took a seat opposite where Snape was seated behind his desk.
"Mr Malfoy." He greeted.
"Professor." Draco nodded in return.
"You know why you're here, of course."
Draco said nothing, because this was obvious.
Snape leaned forward and steepled his long, pale fingers, twin curtains of dark and unwashed hair sweeping forward to frame his sallow face. He observed Draco for a moment, black eyes glittering calculatingly.
Draco sensed he was being judged, and sat a little straighter, wishing he'd at least had the sense not to have gone to the rose garden last night and thus deepen the shadows beneath his eyes. Too late now, though.
Apparently finished, Snape leaned back in his chair again and continued to eye him. "Your behaviour of late has been most unsatisfactory." He stated.
Draco said nothing.
"I have heard reports from the vast majority of your teachers…Flitwick, McGonagall, Sprout. They all tell me your academic record is lagging. In addition to this, they all expressed a concern in regards to your overall demeanour during class."
Draco remained silent, keeping his face as neutral as possible.
"I understand, naturally, that in light of recent events exemptions much be made on your behalf." Snape paused before continuing. "However, I do not think these events are excuse enough to miss nearly every single homework assignment consistently in nearly all of your subjects for the last month."
Draco inwardly winced. Now it was put that way, it really did sound terrible.
"I have refrained from contacting your mother. Naturally, she has other things to concern herself with at this time." Snape sneered. "However, as your Head of House it is my duty to ensure that all my students are performing to their optimum level. Therefore, I have decided to grant you a period of a week. In this coming week I am expecting you to do your homework for all of your subjects. End of year examinations are soon. I expect nothing but success from you in this regard.
He paused, looking at Draco severely. "If you have not picked up your grades, I will have no choice but to take this matter to the Headmaster, and to inform your mother. Am I making myself clear?"
"Yes, sir." Draco said quietly.
"Good. Now." Snape eyed him calculatingly again for a moment. "That should take care of your grades. I want to ask you now, Draco, as it is not only your other teachers who have noticed your demeanour recently. Is there anything…troubling you, that you wish to talk about?"
"No sir, nothing." Draco said blandly.
Impatience flickered across Snape's face, danced in those black eyes. "Anything which has caused you concern in recent weeks?"
"No sir, nothing."
"Have you been getting enough sleep?"
"Yes sir, enough." Draco lied, picturing in his head what his bags must look like from Snape's point of view.
Snape raised an eyebrow. "Enough sleep, you say?"
"Then you can tell me why you have those hideous bags underneath your eyes, I presume?"
"Yes, sir." Draco wavered for a moment. "Admittedly the sleep I have been getting is less than the required amount, but I find it sufficient for me."
"Naturally." Snape said mildly. "Well, Draco, your friends may be willing to endure such pathetic excuses, but I am not. I will let it go this time, but unless your grades and behaviour improves this week, we will be having another little chat."
Draco swallowed. "Yes, sir."
"Is that all clear to you?"
"Good. You are dismissed."
Snape picked up a long, black quill, dipped it in ink and began writing. Draco rose from his seat and left Snape's office in silence, closing the heavy door behind him and setting out along the corridor.
It was all very well and good for Snape to expect him to open up, just like that, about his grievances. The problem was, his grievance was simply too…well, to be honest, bizarre, for anyone to believe him, let alone help him with it.
This trial period was a novel concept, but Draco was certain he would not be able to complete it. He had no doubt that if his ardour were returned, he would be able to summon energy to do his work, and his appearance would improve accordingly.
As it was, that wasn't going to happen.
'And never will.' He reminded himself, sighing as he traced his steps back up the dungeon staircase, heading for the library to 'do some homework,' which in reality would be 'daydreaming about Harry.'
The fire crackled loudly in its grate. For several hours it had been indiscernible above the noise of the common room. Now, however, its sound was loud enough that it seemed to echo around the room.
Harry sat with Hermione in their usual seats. The common room was empty. Everyone was in bed, it being a Sunday night. Harry's watch read 12:58am.
"Thanks for staying up with me, 'Mione." Harry said, gratitude clear in his voice. "You didn't need to."
"Don't mention it." She smiled back at him. "And of course I needed to, I couldn't have just let you stay down here by yourself, waiting."
Harry had decided at some point that afternoon, after much deliberation, to wait until at least 1:00am before leaving for the rose garden. So now he sat in the common room, Hermione with him, and invisibility cloak neatly folded beside him, waiting.
He checked again. 12:59am.
"Do you think you're ready?" she asked him.
He looked at her, a slightly wild expression in his eyes. "Ready? To tell my arch rival how I feel about him? Yep. Fine. Ready as I'll ever be."
She smiled gently. "Harry, come on, be serious."
He shrugged anxiously. "I don't know. I guess I'll find out when I get there."
His watched beeped once, cheerfully informing him it was now 1:00am.
Harry and Hermione merely looked at each other.
"Well." Hermione cleared her throat and stood. Harry stood as well.
"Good luck." She said simply. "I hope all goes well." She leaned over and hugged him tightly.
He hugged her back, feeling once again the sheer enormity of the events weigh down on him. "Thank you." He said sincerely. "Now go to bed, you at least should get some sleep."
They pulled apart, and she smiled at him as he picked up his Cloak and secured it around him, disappearing from sight.
"Good luck." She said again, listening to his footsteps fade and then watching the portrait swing open and then closed. She turned and headed for bed, silently hoping that whatever Harry was in for that evening, it would have the result he wanted.
It was a strange night. It was the kind of night that could change your life, the rare kind of night where everything aligned itself to comply with your wishes.
The corridors were deserted – not a sign from Mrs Norris nor Filch nor any other human being. The world was keeping them away, guiding his steps leading towards the Entrance Hall. It had been waiting for this.
The faint golden light from his wand distorted the paintings he passed, reminding him of that first night. That strange night, only a few days ago. It seemed a lifetime ago now.
He reached the smooth marble of the staircase and thudded down it, not even bothering to stop and appreciate the rarely heard, almost indiscernible sound of his joggers on the stairs. He had no time for such small matters. His focus was on the greater world now.
Harry crossed the Hall quickly, and pushed lightly on the massive oak doors, pleased to feel the ease with which they yielded. No barriers tonight.
He extinguished his wand and then moved down the stone steps before turning directly right onto the velvety expanse of lawn. The air felt warm, moist. Overhead, ominous looking clouds were rolling in from the south, taking over the seemingly endless dark blue stretch of sky above him.
He walked across the grass, not stopping, not looking around, heading for his target destination.
The beautiful stone arc loomed out of the faint moonlight. He passed under it, along the cobblestone path, no eyes for the endless rose bushes. No eyes for anything, except for that – the smaller stone arc, which marked the spot he was looking for. He passed underneath that too.
There was the circle of rose bushes, there was the bench.
There was Draco.
Harry softened his footsteps as he approached. The clouds overheard were rolling in surprisingly quickly. The light from the moon dimmed slightly as the first wisps of cloud obscured its pure light.
The air was still warm and moist on his skin. Harry came to a stop on the opposite side of the garden from Draco, and stood, uncertain how to proceed. Now he was here, the original plan of whipping off his invisibility cloak with a flourish seemed foolish. What had he been thinking?
Somewhere over the distant hills, a low rumble sounded. A few sputters of rain fell from the sky, big, fat drops of water which were contrastingly cold against the air.
Harry watched, spellbound, as the rain spattered onto Draco's hair, hands, face. The droplets sat perfectly on the pale skin, giving him the appearance of being covered in drops of dew.
Draco was perfectly still on the bench, apparently barely even noticing the arrival of rain. The faraway look in his silver eyes suggested to Harry that he was clearly not altogether mentally present.
Draco hummed lightly now, another tune that spoke to Harry of painful love, of deep sadness.
Harry knew what happened next, and sure enough, Draco stopped humming and began to sing, his clear, miserable voice resonating through the garden.
"The winter here's cold
It's chilled us to the bone
I haven't seen the sun for weeks
Too long, too far from home."
Harry took a step forward, feeling beyond the control of his body at the sight of the beautiful boy before him. He froze, however, when Draco began to sing again.
"I feel just like I'm sinking
And I claw for solid ground
I'm pulled down by the undertow
I never thought I could feel so low
Oh darkness, I feel like letting go."
To Harry's amazement, Draco now stood up and began wandering aimlessly around the small space, apparently so filled with emotion he couldn't sit still. It was all Harry could do to keep out of his way as Draco continued singing.
"If all of the strength and all of the courage
Come and lift me from this place
I know I could love you much better than this
Full of grace, full of grace
Harry swerved as quickly as he could as Draco moved closer to his location. His heart was hammering wildly, partly in anticipation for what was going to happen, partly because of what was now the third reminder of how real this whole thing really was.
Draco stopped for a moment, lightly touching a particularly beautiful blood-red rose, which was dappled with water. He stroked a long, pale finger slowly along the velvety petals, and took up the song again.
"So it's better this way, I said
Having seen this place before
Where everything we say and do
Hurts us all the more."
Harry absently brushed the water from his face. It was merely a spring shower, but still the rain was sufficient that it was soaking through his hair, sliding behind his glasses into his eyes.
He saw a droplet of water slide down the back of Draco's pale, elegant neck and resisted the urge to reach out and wipe it from that perfect skin. Draco moved again now, back over to near the bench, still singing.
"It's just that we stayed, too long
In the same old sickly skin
I'm pulled down by the undertow
I never thought I could feel so low
Oh darkness, I feel like letting go."
Harry moved closer to him, desperate, needing to do something, anything, but Draco's words wouldn't allow it.
"If all of the strength and all of the courage
Come and lift me from this place
I know I could love you much better than this
Full of grace."
Draco moved to stand in the centre of the space, startling Harry and causing him to flee to the side. Draco tilted his head up against the slowing rain, staring at the clouded sky, eyes bright and miserable.
"I know I could love you much better than this
It's better this way."
The rain, already easing off, died down completely now, leaving the garden refreshed and the air cool and light.
Draco lowered his head, tears staining his eyelashes and cheeks. Harry stepped forward once more, beyond even trying to control himself.
Unfortunately, at that moment Draco turned and started to move back to the bench. The result of this was that they ran directly into each other, and Harry was knocked over, the cloak partially sliding off him as he went down.
"What the…" Draco shook himself, confused, and looked down.
The sight of Harry, only partially visible and partially soaked at that, lying on the grass, made his mouth go dry, for more reasons than one.
"Potter?" he gasped, staggering backwards, the blood receding rapidly from his face. 'Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. Shit, shit, shit.'
Harry hurriedly got to his feet, unfastening his cloak and flinging it on the bench as he did so.
"Hey, Malfoy." He said, as though it were a completely normal occurrence to be caught in the rose garden listening to your arch rival singing by said arch rival.
"How…how long have you been here?" Draco whispered, mortified, blushing a deep scarlet as he stared in shock and horror at Harry.
Harry's heart was beating wildly, his hands were shaking and he felt like he was going to throw up, but he stepped forward nonetheless. Go, the world urged. Now.
"Long enough." Harry said simply, taking another step forward.
"Oh, Merlin." Draco breathed, almost to himself. "Oh, this is not good. Not good."
"Draco." Harry said gently, and Draco started, staring incredulously at Harry. "Look, I know, OK? I know. It's OK now."
"What?" Draco said, bewildered, backing away fast now. "What are you…why are you…"
"Draco." Harry said patiently. "It's OK. I know that you're in love with me."
Draco whimpered, backing up enough that he ended up collapsing on the bench.
"Where did you get that from, I don't love you, crazy Potter, such nonsense…" Draco gabbled.
Harry came right up close to him until he was only a metre or so away, and then began to sing.
"Say you'll stay, don't come and go, like you do." He smiled at Draco. "Sway my way, I need to know all about you."
"How did you…" Draco whispered, stunned.
"A few nights ago, I couldn't sleep." Harry explained quickly. "I got the crazy idea to come out here, and you were here, and you were singing, and it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen."
"You saw…" Draco repeated, beyond mortified now.
"Yes, I did. And I clearly heard you say you loved me."
"Oh, shit." Draco breathed.
"No, no, calm down." Harry chuckled. "I'm not done yet. Obviously I was freaked out at first, I mean, who wouldn't be? I tortured myself the entirety of the next day about what I should do, even if I should do anything."
Draco was quiet now, listening intently.
"In the end I explained the situation to Hermione. Without mentioning names!" he added hastily, for alarm had flashed in Draco's eyes. "She asked me if I loved you back…and I said no."
Draco's face fell.
Summoning as much Gryffindor courage as he could, Harry leaned over and tilted Draco's chin back upwards. "But," he said gently, "She then asked me if I thought I could love you."
Draco looked at him, earlier tears still sitting on his skin. Harry soothed them away with a thumb. "I didn't answer her, because I was scared I already knew the answer."
Draco exhaled slowly, his breath ghosting over Harry's hand, causing the latter to shiver. "And…what was the answer?"
"It took me another day, and another conversation with Hermione, to realise." Harry reached down and took Draco's hands, pulling him to his feet so they were facing each other. Draco blinked at him, eyes gleaming silver under the strengthening light of the moon. It was a perfect vision – silver eyes, icy hair, and pale skin framed by the dark greens and reds and crystal whites of the rose bushes behind him. Harry allowed himself a moment to admire this view.
He entwined their fingers, amazed at how smooth the skin there was. Draco's eyes widened comically at the simple gesture.
"I realised that yes, I could love you." Harry murmured, letting go briefly of one perfect hand to wipe more tears away from a perfect cheek. "And strangely enough, since the idea was planted in my head I can't imagine continuing my life without testing that little theory."
Draco stared at him, bug eyed. "You…what are you actually saying?" he whispered.
"I'm saying that I'm not in love with you this instant, but I think it'll only be a matter of time before I will be. I'm saying that I know you're in love with me, and that although that terrifies me, I can't imagine anything more exciting in the world. I'm saying that I never, ever thought this could happen, in a million years, but now it's happened I don't think I'd want things any other way. I'm saying, in short, Draco," and here Harry leaned in close until they were practically nose-to-nose, "There's nowhere else I'd rather be now than here in the rose garden, at 1:30 in the morning, holding your hand."
Draco eyes nearly shot out of his head as he started in amazement, shock and hope at Harry.
"You…you mean it?" he whispered. "You truly mean it?"
"Every word." Harry replied simply.
Draco exhaled softly. A blush was creeping onto his cheeks. He looked completely beautiful.
"Then…then I want to tell you, Harry…" he paused, looking like he still didn't believe any of it was actually happening, "…that I…I love you."
Harry grinned wide at this, his heart skipping a beat at the words. "And I couldn't be happier to hear it." He smiled back.
"But…" and now Draco tried to pull away, looking distraught, "What about my friends, what about my mother, what about your friends? How the hell are we going to…"
"Shhhhh." Harry soothed. "That will come in time. We don't need to worry about that now."
He reached out and lightly touched Draco's smooth skin again, trailing his fingers over the forehead, the pointed nose, and the trembling lips.
Harry leaned forward and lightly pressed his lips to Draco's trembling ones, going slowly, hands moving to rest on the narrow hips, tangle in the soft hair.
It was only brief before Harry pulled away, opening his eyes slowly. Draco gazed back at him, looking thunderstruck.
"I never thought this would happen." He whispered.
"It's happening now, though." Harry murmured back.
"So…what do we do now?"
Harry smiled, tracing Draco's lips lightly with a finger once more. "Whatever we want." He whispered. "We've got the rest of the morning."
"I know I could love you much better than this." Draco sang softly, smiling despite himself.
Harry smiled back. "My love."
As they kissed again on that note, Harry remembered back to the first night, and the shock he'd experienced in this very spot. There was no doubt on that strange night the world had created a plan for him, and there was no doubt everything had come together to allow him to follow that plan.
He couldn't help but feel, as Draco's hands slid cautiously into his hair, like he now owed the world a favour for setting this up for him.
"I love you." Draco breathed against his mouth.
Then again, the world could wait. For now, it was just them.
And the rose garden, as always.
AN: First of all, the 'love is rain' quote comes from my friend Susie. We were in English class and trying to write a romantic poem and looking around going 'love is… love is…' and then it started raining, so she said 'love is rain.' I felt it was an appropriate quote to use here hahaha.
Secondly, I would like to now register my amazement and gratitude for the overwhelming response I received for this fic. I never thought so many people would like it, so thank you so much for that
Thirdly, the third and final song of this fic is called 'Full of Grace' by Sarah McLachlan. Full credit to her for the lyrics. Also kudos once again to Bic Runga, coz I used some lyrics from 'Sway' again. Speaking of which, I highly recommend listening to 'Full of Grace' during that scene. It's an absolutely beautiful, beautiful song.
I will more than likely be posting a separate story as a follow up to this, in a few weeks or so, so keep an eye out for that if you want to read it.
Until then, please review and let me know what you thought of the ending, or the story in general. I like feedback. And thank you very much for taking the time to read my little fic about two crazy boys and an even crazier rose garden. I appreciate it.
Until whenever, dear readers!