It hadn't been hard at all to slip back into being a couple. Draco had almost been scared at how easy it had been. He was used to depending only on himself, and to be so tied into another person was something he wasn't used to. At least it was Harry. Harry understood, and he was very good about giving Draco space. Draco didn't know how to tell him how grateful he really was, but he knew that Harry knew.
He did his best not to think of the upcoming summer. He had always hated summers, though this year was worse than usual. The promise of what his father would do to him was enough to quash any happiness that classes were over. He would rather take exams every day than spend any more time than he had to with his father.
Harry either didn't understand that, or he understood it all too well. Judging from what Draco knew about Harry's own home life, he suspected the former. Either way, they didn't talk abut the upcoming summer at all. Instead, they spoke of innocent things and did their best to pretend that nothing would ever change.
Draco knew that it couldn't last, but he didn't care. When had anything he ever cared about lasted? He'd learned to take what was offered while it was offered and move on when they left. Unfortunately, this was proving much harder to leave behind than anything else. He'd tried before, and it had almost destroyed him from the inside. He wasn't sure that he would be strong enough to last a second time.
Even so, he couldn't bring himself to actually say anything to Harry about it. Harry would think him weak and why did Harry need a weak partner? Frankly, Draco was amazed that Harry was still with him. He would have expected Harry just to leave the first time he caught Draco crying.
In the end, it was Harry who brought the subject up. Draco wasn't sure whether to thank him or to shake him, but he couldn't help being grateful that it was out in the open at last.
Harry seemed as uncomfortable with the subject as Draco himself, but he was brave enough to say it out loud. "What are you… I mean… have you thought about this summer?"
Draco stiffened at the question, knowing that he had to answer and hating the answer he had to give. "Why do you ask?" It was nothing more than a time wasting question, nothing more than a way to buy enough time to think of a better answer.
Harry took a deep breath before answering. Draco was slightly relieved to realize that Harry was as uncomfortable with the subject as he was. "I… you know that I'll have to go back to my aunt and uncle's house, and you…"
"And I'll go to my father," Draco finished. "Yes, I know that quite well."
"Then… um… have you thought about… well, us?"
Draco sighed. He would have to tell the truth, and he grimaced at the answer he would have to give. "Yes. Yes I have. And… and I don't know. That's all I have to tell you."
Draco could see Harry looking at him oddly, and fought a rising blush. It wasn't his fault that he didn't know! If Harry wanted to blame anyone he could blame Draco's father! Finally, Harry spoke, his voice low and intense, his green eyes boring into Draco's gray ones.
"I don't want it to be over. I wasn't lying to you when I said that I would give anything for you. I'll do whatever I have to do to keep you safe."
Draco smiled, his expression sad and slightly patronizing. Harry really didn't know anything, did he? "You'll try," he corrected. "But I doubt there's much you could do."
"What do you mean?"
Draco sighed in exasperated irritation. They were back to this, were they? Why did he need everything explained to him? "Harry, what do you think you could do against my father? He's three times as old as you are, a powerful wizard, and he has allies who are as powerful as he is."
"I'm not powerless," Harry objected. Draco thought he could detect the hurt pride in Harry's voice and grimaced. Harry really was naïve, wasn't he?
"You're not. But you still don't stand a chance."
Harry sighed again, and Draco realized that he'd finally accepted that Draco was right about this. For some reason, that didn't make him as happy as he'd thought it would. Maybe it was the fact that, in hearing someone else accept that they couldn't fight his father, it made Lucius Malfoy into an even greater demon. Draco, who had lived with the man his entire life, knew exactly what his father was capable of and had stopped underestimating him years ago. Still, hearing Harry insist that he could take Draco's father on had kept Draco's fear of his father slightly in check. Now that Harry had admitted defeat, much of Draco's terror returned. He had to fight to keep himself from shivering, and concentrated instead on listening to Harry's words.
"There must be something that we can do."
Draco sighed. When would he give up? "Harry," he said wearily. "Please, just drop it. I… you know that I love you. I don't want anything to happen to you."
"Then why don't you accept that if anything happens to you it happens to me?" Harry demanded.
"It's not the same," Draco said. "You need to be alive and safe, Harry. Don't you realize just how important you are in the scheme of things? You're the only one who can defeat the Dark Lord."
"Voldemort," Harry cut in firmly. Draco winced at the name, remembering the one time he'd been foolish enough to utter it out loud. He still wasn't comfortable with hearing Harry say it so easily.
Harry shook his head. "If you don't call him by his name, then he gets more power over you. Call him Voldemort."
Stubbornly, Draco shook his head. "I can't," he whispered. His father would kill him!
Harry took his hand, holding it firmly. "You can," he said fiercely. "Just close your eyes and say it."
Draco took a deep breath. For Harry, he would try. Hesitantly, he closed his eyes, fighting to get over his instinctive urge to run away. For along moment, nothing moved. Then, he opened his mouth and whispered, "V… Voldemort."
Harry grinned. "There you go," he said proudly. "It wasn't that hard, was it?"
Draco opened his eyes again, elation filling him. He'd done it! It was nothing but a small act of rebellion, something unimportant done with no other witnesses, but it was a beginning. "No," he said. More firmly, "No it wasn't." He grinned back at Harry. Then, his expression smoothed back into a look of concern as he remembered the point of this conversation. "But it doesn't change things, you know. You're still the only one who can defeat him."
Harry sighed. "I can't do it by myself," he argued. Draco frowned. Of course he couldn't do it himself! But he was the only one who could actually kill the Dark… no. He was the only one who could actually kill Voldemort. That was why Voldemort had worked so hard to kill Harry first. The thought send chills up Draco's spine, and he focused instead on Harry's words.
"Do you know why I went to the ministry in June?"
Draco looked at him in surprise. "No," he admitted. "I always assumed it had to do with the… with Voldemort, but I don't know the real reason."
Harry hesitated for a long moment, so long that Draco thought he wasn't going to say anything. Finally, though, Harry began to explain. "It's actually kind of complicated. Remember in the third year, when there was all the fuss about Sirius Black?"
Draco nodded. Of course he remembered Sirius Black! Who didn't, after all? But what did it have to do with Harry's story?
"At the end of that year, we met. He was innocent, Draco! He didn't do it!"
Draco could tell that Harry desperately wanted him to believe this. Even so, he had to ask. "Then who did?"
"A man named Peter Pettigrew," Harry said, his voice full of loathing. "Otherwise known as Wormtail."
Draco's eyes widened. "Him?" he demanded. The ratty man with the silver hand? He was the fabled Pettigrew?
Harry nodded. "Anyway, Hermione and I helped Sirius escape, and he went… somewhere safe. Then, last year, I started getting visions of the Department of Mysteries."
Draco frowned. "What do you mean?"
"From Voldemort," he clarified. He touched his scar "Through this." Draco opened his mouth to ask another question, but Harry shook his head. "I don't know how. It just happens. Anyway, during the History of Magic OWL, I had a vision of Voldemort torturing Sirius. I rushed off to save him, only to find that he wasn't there. It was a trap." Draco could hear the bitter, naked pain in his voice and ached to comfort him. He couldn't move, though. He just had to listen to the rest. "They came and asked for a prophecy. One about Voldemort and me. Sirius and… and others, came to rescue us, and Sirius was killed."
"I had no idea," Draco whispered, eyes widening as he took in what Harry was telling him. Harry was still holding his hand, and now Draco squeezed Harry's, trying to comfort the other boy. Harry smiled slightly at him.
"It gets worse," Harry said grimly, the smile vanishing. "Dumbledore told me what the prophecy said. It got smashed, by the way. Anyway, basically, it says that I have to kill Voldemort or he has to kill me. And then it goes on to talk about my having a power that Voldemort doesn't."
Draco looked at him in horror. Kill or be killed? What kind of a fate was that? And a weapon that Harry had and Voldemort didn't? "What?"
Harry shrugged. "Dumbledore says that it's love," he said.
"How will that help?"
Harry sighed. "I don't know," he admitted.
Draco frowned suddenly, thinking of something that should have been obvious. "Harry," he asked, a little hesitantly. "Why are you telling me this?"
"Because I love you," Harry said. Draco could hear the slight patronizing tone in his voice as he said the words.
"If Dumbledore's right, then presumably you'll help me defeat Voldemort," Harry interrupted. "I don't know how, but, if he's right, that has to be it."
"Who else?" Harry paused, looking at him. "Will you?"
"I…" Him? What could he do to help Harry defeat Voldemort? There was only one thing to say to that, though. "Yes."
Instead of responding, Harry hugged him fiercely. Draco hugged him back, and the two stayed there, unmoving and silent, for a very long time.
The days after that seemed to pass even more quickly. Draco couldn't help counting, and the two weeks seemed like mere days. Almost before he knew it, he was stepping off the Hogwarts Express for the last time that year, resisting the urge to cling to Harry. His father would be coming, and Draco knew that he would be dead very fast if his father saw him with Harry.
Harry was scanning the platform for his relatives, obviously as reluctant to leave as Draco himself. Finally, he made eye contact with them. Turning to look at Draco one last time, he stepped away and followed them out of the station. Draco himself drifted off towards where his father usually was. Sure enough, Lucius Malfoy was waiting for him. Draco closed his eyes, fixing Harry's face in his mind's eye. Then, he took a deep breath and opened them again, looking into his father's face and stealing himself for the summer to come.
Disclaimer: I own nothing created by the excellent J. K. Rowling. Both Harry and Draco are, unfortunately, hers, and I'm just messing with their heads. Please review and tell what you think. I'm not too happy with this, so I might take it down for a bit of editing. I wanted to get it up now so that you can all read it, though. This is the end of Like a Spring Flower. Expect the sequel, Every Rose has its Thorn, in a little while. Thank you all so much for reading this!
Other note: several people have asked me for PMs when the sequel is out. Here's the deal: you review chapter fourteen, I send you a PM. That way, I don't have to search through the list and send one to everyone, whether they like it or not, and you get a message from me. Deal?