Till The Very Last Breath
A Xenocide Production

AN: A thought of how the last battle will take place, and who will remain standing. When Good triumphs over Evil, it's always a good thing, right?

Summary: Only one thing had managed to stay true to form, and that had been the presence of the executioner. Though one person can manage, two is usually the norm for such things.

Disclaimer: I own not Harry Potter and all other things related.

It hadn't turned out exactly the way he had thought it would be.

For one thing, it was a textbook example of a typical summer evening. The sun was in its death throes as it sank into the misty embrace of the encroaching night. A miasma of colors were splayed across the horizon, looking nothing more than a child's muddled plaything.

A cool breeze was wafting across the open ground, toying with his stringy hair and sluggishly lifting the tattered remnants of his robes.

It was silent now, with not a hint of the blistering cacophony of hate and rage that had flown across the field not a scant hour earlier.

A small choir of cicadas were singing, apparently unaware or uncaring of mankind's taste for destruction.

Leaning tiredly against the trunk of a sickly oak, he laughed weakly at the absurdity of it all.

Death was not supposed to be so damn peaceful.

It always happened in the deepest night, or the ominous overcast of a cloudy sky that threatened rain. The sun usually hid its face, unwilling to look upon such self-inflicted misery. Death was always found in barren places, devoid of the promise of life, not blatantly surrounded by it. Who ever heard of death being found in a flower garden, a peaceful forest, or the small meadow beside it?

Only one thing had managed to stay true to form, and that had been the presence of the executioner. Though one person can manage, two is usually the norm for such things.

One Harry Potter was limping silently, painfully, and slowly towards the tree upon which one Draco Malfoy was leaning against. The jagged scar on Harry's face was bleeding, and silky crimson made many trails down his face, only to drip off of the edge of his chin. His clothes, only a plain white t-shirt and a pair of jeans, were torn to pieces and blackened with grime. His skin was like wise covered in cuts and gashes. His right arm was mangled nearly beyond recognition, broken like a twig in a haphazard fashion up to his shoulder.

Draco watched the Boy Who Lived approach with his wand laying at his side. He was in the same, if not worse, wretched condition that his counterpart was. Though both of his arms were intact, his left leg ended just below the knee. He was grateful that his injury was a little less…cruelly inflicted than Potter's had been.

He made no move to reach for his wand, though he noted that Potter was clutching his own in his left hand.

Harry, after several painstakingly short and yet infinite moments, was standing in front of Draco.

Death Eater looked up at Destined Savior.

"Fancy meeting you here, Potter." The tired boy spoke. "Not exactly how--"

"You imagined it, right?" The other weary boy finished slowly. "Same here, Malfoy."

Silence reigned for a for moments, before--

"So…..it's finished then?" Draco queried tentatively.

Harry nodded stiffly, a faraway look in his eyes.

"Oh. That's good then." This seemed like a rather inadequate way to express the crushing relief that suddenly filled his soul, but it would have to do.

Harry was still silent so---

"You gave it to the bastard good, right?"

Harry snorted. "Why should you care, Malfoy? If I recall correctly, you weren't exactly on the right side of the field back there."

The Slytherin grinned mirthlessly. "My father may have been content to bow to the half-blood, but Malfoys bow to no one. I remembered that one important lesson that he taught me, though he seemed to forget it himself in the end."

The Golden Boy also grinned, a grin devoid of any warmth at all. "A Malfoy with a bit of sense and pride about him. Will wonders never cease?"

There was another infinite moment of silence.

"Did the Dark Lord…err…" Draco could not quite find the courage to voice his query, so he merely gestured vaguely at his enemy's mangled arm.

Harry looked down and stared blankly at the torn stump of his appendage. It was quite odd. He couldn't feel a blasted thing. Not even a twinge of discomfort.

"Ah, no." He replied blandly. "The greasy git did that one."

"………" There was a dangerously blank look on the Death Eater's face. "I see."

A beat.

"I suppose that you…" The pale boy said in a soft voice, but trailed off uncertainly. There was really no need to finish that question. Both men knew the answer to it.

Potter nodded at his enemy's missing leg. "Who did that? Bit of powerful spellwork, that."

"What? Oh, you mean…" The blank look hardened somewhat, as if in preparation. "Granger did that. Goyle got her in the back before I could knock her down." He hesitated, then added quietly, "She didn't deserve to go out like that. No one does."

Harry's eye twitched, and his mouth tightened imperceptibly.

"Oh." His remaining hand grasped his wand till the knuckles were white. Draco noted this with a passive detachment.

"Harry…." Draco sighed softly. Harry's eyes widened slightly at the use of his name by his old nemesis, but that was the only reaction he showed. "For what it's worth….I'm sorry."

"It's a little late for 'sorry' and first names, Malfoy." Harry uttered in a tired voice. He was so very, very tired.

The youngest Malfoy shrugged. "I know." He said simply, agreeing wholeheartedly.

Yet another of those millennia long silences. "I've got a request, Potter."

A sooty eyebrow raised in surprise. "A request? I really don't think you can afford that luxury, old boy."

Draco easily brushed off Harry's sad attempt at humor. "Just hear me out, at least. This is the only time that you'll ever hear a Malfoy actually ask for something, so I would enjoy it if I were you." With a grunt of effort and picking his wand up, he jerkily hoisted himself off of the ground, using the tree as support. Panting harshly, he leaned upright against the trunk of the tree. He was far too pale than was healthy and his leg was bleeding freely, torn open by his harsh movements. "As…I...was saying…Potter…" The scion of Slytherin had to take a deep breath, winded by his effort to stand.

Harry waited patiently. He had all the time in the world.

Draco regained his air. "I want you to remember me." His gaze bore intently into Harry's own. "But not like this." And here he made a sweeping motion with his hand, encompassing his tattered and weary self. "Remember me as the boy who hated you for showing him up at school in grades and Quidditch, not as the Death Eater who hated you because he was ordered to do so. Remember me as a friendship lost, because pride and stupidity barred my way."

He blinked and suddenly snarled, "And I don't want your pity, Potter. If you're not going to take me seriously, then fuck off!"

Harry's eyes hardened quickly, shed of whatever budding feelings of pity and sadness he may have held for the man in front of him.

He nodded in hollow satisfaction. "That's better." He bowed his head, closing his eyes. He tried to think back to the last time where he was truly happy. The years flew by, but not one moment could he find that could make him smile in the remembrance of it. He grimaced to himself.

He sighed and opened his eyes, raising his head and letting them spy at the dying sunlight that trickled lazily through gaps in the leaves. He suddenly smiled. Not happy, exactly…..but content. He was content. He could be content in this moment, where it was only himself and the warm sunlight.

His thoughts were interrupted by a gentle query. "Anything else, Malfoy?"

He brought his eyes back down. Misty gray met emerald steel.

"Yeah….." He smirked lazily. "Fuck you, Potter."

Harry snorted, vainly trying to hold back a weak laugh. "Right back at you, ferret boy."

They both smiled for a few moments.

For that brief moment in time, they could pretend. Neither man's vision was colored with the cloudy mist of war or the clear lucidity of hate.

They could pretend that they were merely two old schoolmates, bitter rivals but not quite enemies, laughing over their mutual dislike of the other.

It was the Death Eater who returned to reality first. It was almost as if a mask had been pulled over his true face, replacing warmth with a sheet of icy hostility, gray eyes glittering with cold malice. Harry only caught the transition because he himself was quite practiced in the art of wearing masks, not only for others, but for himself.

And so he followed suit, hiding Harry from view and bringing the Chosen One to the forefront.

The Death Eater went for his wand, already knowing that it was futile. His enemy was much faster and skilled than himself, loath though he was to admit it. But still, he attacked, because it was the only thing to do, the only thing he could do. What else was left for one whose only knowledge in life was death?

The Chosen One also knew that the Death Eater was far slower than himself. The drawing of wands was a forgone conclusion, loath though he was to admit it. But still, he attacked, because it was what he was made for, what he was born for. What else was there for a weapon forged from birth to do?

They both could only marvel at the utter unfairness of it all.

A soft, almost silent green whoosh, and the Death Eater slumped back against the trunk of the tree, eyes gazing lazily at some unknown world beyond the living's knowledge. The wand fell gracelessly from his grasp, clattering on the ground as he slid slowly down to the grass.

Harry could not take off his mask, even when he lowered his wand to his side, and even when he lowered his body to sit across from the Death Eater.

If he did, he knew that he would break down, and be utterly and completely undone.

It was a strange thing, he thought detachedly, to feel so much remorse for an enemy that had none.

Perhaps it was because both men had far more similarities between them than they thought. Both were born for a specific purpose, though one was to serve a Dark Lord, and the other defeat one.

Both were bereft of a family, one by way of a simple spell, and the other by way of promises of power.

And both had been trapped by what fate and circumstance had made them, unable to deviate from the cruel script that had been written for them even as they were taken from the womb.

Yes, he could certainly sympathize. The life of one destined for the Dark is no less painful than one destined for the Light. Probably even more so. His enemy had even shared his own desperation to be remembered as his own person, not as what others had built him up to be. The Death Eater had somehow known that the Chosen One would understand his request. It was not some melodramatic soliloquy, designed to bring tears to his eyes, or even a last plea for mercy.

It was merely a request to be remembered as who had truly been, not what others thought he was.

He sighed and raised his head, soaking in the evening sunlight that trickled lazily through gaps in the clouds. He suddenly smiled. Not happy, exactly…..but content. He was content. He could be content in this moment, where it was only himself, his enemy, and the warm sunlight.

It was a moment that no one could take from him.

"Harry?" A cautious query from behind. It was Ron. Of course it was.

Without a word or acknowledgement of his friend, Harry Potter buried his face in his one remaining hand and became utterly and completely undone.