Draco Malfoy sat alone on the sidelines of the Quidditch Pitch. It was well past midnight and it was an unusually hot and muggy summer night. The stars were up above twinkling merrily while the bright full moon shone its pale light on the dark night. He was oblivious to it all. The stars held no meaning to him, the crickets chirping in the background went unnoticed. He had only one thought in his mind and that was death. His own. The only thing he could feel was the knife that he held in his hand and the only thing that comforted him was the fact that this was the end. No more lies, no more pain, just truth, the ultimate truth of death. He looked at the knife, how it shone in the moonlight, this was the key to his freedom, this was his way to finally be happy. He was tired of being his father's puppet, he had been under his control for so long that he didn't even know who he was, it was all going to end tonight.
He put the knife to his skin and pressed down and as the knife bit into his skin he began to cry. He hated himself for the weakness. Malfoys never cried. He told himself that there was nothing to be sad about, he wasn't leaving anything behind. No one would miss him, quite the opposite, he knew most of the school would be deliriously happy if he died. Well, he was going to give them their dearest wish, he was going to end it. He had just begun to press hard and was about to pull the knife hard from one side of his wrist to the other, when he heard a sound behind him. He spun around and accidentally dropped his knife. Standing there, looking at him, was the last person he had expected, or wanted, to see.
Harry fucking Potter.
Draco put his hands behind his back to keep him from seeing the angry red line he had made with the knife. This had to be about the most humiliating moment in his life.
"What are you doing here?" asked Harry, not moving from where he stood. It looked as if he'd been about to go for a midnight ride around the pitch. Draco used to do that. It use to help. It made him feel free. Used to.
Draco resisted the urge to wipe the tears from his face, hoping that the darkness would hide the fact that he had been crying. The last thing he needed was St. Potter breathing down his neck. He could just imagine what everyone would say if he told them. Not much worse than what they were saying now. Death-eater. Traitor. Snitch. The list went on and on. He had never been anything good in his entire life. Not a good son, not a good student, not a good friend. There was never anything good.
"That's none of your business, Potter," he said ashamed at the fact that his voice was trembling, he just wanted to be left alone so he could get this over with, before he lost the courage to kill himself. It sounded so odd to think of it like that. Kill himself. But there was a certain peace that came with it. He craved that peace. He needed it more than he had ever needed anything in his life.
"You look upset."
He couldn't tell if there was some secret meaning in Potter's voice, if there was a hint of ridicule or scorn. Probably. After all, this was his mortal enemy. If it had been possible Draco would have apparated right there.
"So? What's it to you? What part of 'none of your business' didn't you understand? It's none of your fucking business."
"Actually, I'm a Prefect and you're out after curfew, it is my business," he said mildly. He held his broom and Draco wanted nothing more than to bash his head in with it.
"So are you, now bugger off before I hex you into next weekend," said Draco as he wished that he had actually brought his wand. At the moment it was sitting up in his dormitory on the bedside table. Next to a note. A stupid little note.
"I'm not going anywhere, not until I get an answer."
Draco glared at him. "I'm going to kill myself, now go along on your merry way and let me die in peace, you can all celebrate tomorrow. Dance on my grave and all that." The absurdity of what he just said hit him and it struck him as funny. His life was such a mess. So tangled and knotted that he didn't know what he was doing anymore. He just knew that there was no way to sort it all out. It was so insanely hopeless. He was hopeless.
Harry stood there for a moment as if trying to decide whether he was joking or not and Draco watched as his eyes wandered to the ground where the moonlight was reflecting off of the knife. He put his foot in front of it but it was too late. Damn Potter.
"Go away," Draco said softly, he didn't want Potter's pity of all things, that was just the ultimate humiliation.
"I can't let you do this." The words cut through the darkness and Draco heard something almost like fear in his voice. The great Harry Potter afraid? Was he afraid that everyone would think that he'd been the one to kill him? Was he afraid that for once he couldn't save the day? Good. Let him be. This wasn't something that he could fix with a wave of his magic wand.
"Why not? I thought this would be the answer to your prayers, shouldn't you be dancing in the streets about now?" The words lacked the venom that he had meant them to. He was so tired of fighting, both with Potter and himself.
"I – I can't stand by and let you kill yourself, it's wrong."
"Is it now? St. Potter, now protector of my Immortal soul, give me a break and leave before I make you. I'm so sick of you and Weasel and Mudblood Granger, always trying to save the day. I don't need your pity and I sure as hell don't need you to save me."
"What do you need?" he asked suddenly and Draco stood there not knowing what to say.
He thought about it for a long time and Harry didn't move, he just stood there and finally Draco answered. The answer surprised even himself. He felt his wall crumbling. He had never felt more vulnerable or alone.
"I need – I need to be good at something. I need to be good for something. I'm nothing but a traitor. No one sees anything good in me. There isn't any. Do you know how it feels to grow up being hated by your father? Knowing that he would kill you if someone asked him to? Of course you don't!" he said with a harsh laugh. "Your parents died for you. Who would die for me? No one. I'm not worth it and I never will be. Do you know what I have to look forward to Harry Potter? Becoming a Death Eater to make my father proud. Possibly dying for a cause I don't care about. We can't all save the fucking world!" He was angry, he was angry at Potter for being everything he couldn't. At his father for manipulating him into who he was. Most of all he was angry with himself for becoming that person his father wanted him to be.
"I need... I need... someone to... someone to love me, to give a fuck about me." He couldn't believe that he had just said that but he knew it was true. No one had ever loved him, not his father, not his mother, not his friends, and he had never loved anyone in return either. That was what was missing, what would always be missing in his life, he knew that he would never be able to let anyone close enough to love him, or love them in return, that was why he needed to end it now.
Before he grew to hate himself even more than he already did.
Before everyone else grew to hate him more.
Potter had stood there listening to his tirade unflinchingly. Draco saw something in his eyes. It wasn't amusement, it wasn't malice. If anything it bordered on concern. This infuriated him more than anything.
"What? Nothing to say? Face it Potter. I'll be doing us all a favor. You. Dumbledore. My goddamn father. What's left for me? Hmm... what?" He didn't know where all of this anger had suddenly come from. Years of pent up aggression and hostility. He just wanted to be empty.
"What if someone did love you?" Harry asked taking a step closer to him.
"Then they would be out of their bloody mind so it wouldn't count for much now would it? If you even pull that God bull-"
"Then I'm out of my bloody mind," he said with a roguish smile and Draco wondered what in the hell he was talking about. For the first time Draco noticed that Harry wasn't even wearing his glasses. Draco glared at him wondering what game he was playing.
He felt something warm trickling down his hand and realized that he must have nicked himself with the knife earlier deeper than he's thought. Suddenly he panicked. He wasn't sure anymore what he was doing. He brought his hand out from behind his back and placed his other hand over it, applying pressure to his wrist.
"Let me help," said Harry from beside him and Draco watched suspiciously as Harry tore off a piece of his cloak and then took Draco's hand and wrapped the material around his wrist. Draco looked at Harry to see that he hadn't let go of his hand. Draco had never felt more confused or unsure in his entire life.
"What did you mean... when you said that you were mental?" he asked wondering why he was still standing there, he wanted to go back to his Common Room and pretend that this whole incident hadn't happened. He would pass this off as a bad day. Go up to his rooms, wake up in the morning and start all over. His mind told him to pull away and walk off but something was keeping him rooted to the spot.
"Let's just say sometimes people have a habit of liking something that's bad for them."
"What does that mean?" he didn't like being turned 'round in circles. He wanted a straight forward answer and Potter wasn't giving him one. He was too tired for this.
"If you haven't noticed all ready, which I find hard to believe seeing as how you have the biggest ego of anyone I've ever met, half of Hogwarts is in love with you."
"Yeah, they like what I look like not who I am. Why are we even having this conversation Potter? Does it make you feel better to know I'm miserable? Why rub it in? You can't make me feel worse if that's what you're aiming for. You walk into that school and have no one say a nice word to you and then tell me how I should feel."
"In case you're forgetting there's been many times when everyone has turned their back on me. When I've felt alone. I don't think that I need to point those times out to you as they were mainly your fault."
"You always had your friends."
"Not always. I survived it. You will. It's not that bad. You can make your own choices you know. Not everything has to be about your father. It's your life. You can fix it if you want."
Draco snorted. "Yeah, and have him kill me for it. Blood traitor I'd be. No worse than a mudblood."
Harry shrugged and Draco realized he still hadn't let go of his hand. "So what? You, instead of trying and possibly dying for something important, you're going to stand here and hurt yourself over something that is within your power to change if you really want to? Not many people know this but I was almost sorted into Slytherin. I made a choice not to be. If I hadn't would I have Voldemort trying to kill me? I don't know. But it's worth it to be myself and live my own life and take the consequences for it. That's worth dying for."
Draco stayed silent. He didn't know what to say. What could he say. Was Potter right? No, Potter was never right. But what he said made Draco think. Thinking wasn't what he wanted to do. He wondered why Harry was trying so hard to get him to change his mind. He wasn't sure what he wanted anymore.
"You know, this makes me think you might not be totally hopeless after all. I've known you for seven years now and to be honest you're cruel, sarcastic, and you enjoy other people's pain. That's not all that you are and this proves it, you have a heart buried in their somewhere or else you wouldn't care that you were alone, but you're not alone."
"Are you drunk or something?" asked Draco, Potter was making no sense what so ever and he had no idea what he was getting at. This whole night was starting to feel like some strange dream. He didn't understand Potter's motives. There had to be motives. Everyone had them.
"I never quite thought that I'd ever tell you this but if you're set on killing yourself I guess it doesn't matter, now does it? Everyone says that there's a thin line between love and hate, maybe they're right, as much as I hate you I'm also intrigued by you."
Draco stood there for a moment considering all of this and he was suddenly aware that he had his fingers entwined with Harry's, he didn't know what it meant but he did know that it felt nice, but holding Harry Potter's hand wasn't supposed to feel nice, in fact it should make him feel repulsed. But it didn't. What was happening to him? He felt his heart beating as the full implication of what Harry was saying began to hit him, and stir within him things that he couldn't explain.
"Intrigue?" he whispered.
"Well, first I thought it was pity. Then it became this intense need to... I don't want to say save you... but release you from this. It's your choice Draco. Don't you think I've ever thought about you? Really thought about you? Why you are the way you are? I am under no illusions that your life hasn't been hard and sometimes I wanted nothing more than to fix it for you but I can't. I know somewhere in there, there's a real person and not some illusion created by your father. I think I like that person." He shrugged. "Maybe it's wishful thinking on my part but I've seen something that isn't cruel and vicious and vindictive. I see someone who wants to be wanted and needed and loved and you're so close to having it if you don't push it away."
Draco stood there stunned. What was Harry saying? What was he offering? The heat from Harry's hand on his was making it hard for him to breathe. Something inside of him said pull away and run but the other part had never felt this. It was some odd sort of acceptance. From his worst enemy. Who didn't seem so enemy like at the moment. Was he right? Was he capable of being love? He wanted to hope so. He didn't want to think about these new feelings that were suddenly sneaking up on him from out of nowhere. He looked into Harry's green eyes and wondered where all of the hate between them had gone. He couldn't seem to muster up any.
"This is really strange," Draco said suddenly. It was the only words he could force past his mouth. There was so many things he thought about saying. Or wanted to say but he couldn't.
"Yeah, it is, but strange in a good way right?" Draco watched as Harry brought his hand up to his lips and laid a soft kiss on Draco's palm. It sent shivers through his skin and he wondered once again what was happening to him, why he was enjoying the feeling of Harry's lips on his skin. No one had ever shown him such tender, simple affection. He and Pansy had never been affectionate. It had always been just physical release. This was different. It scared him.
"Is this some kind of way to get back at me for what I've done to you?" he asked suspiciously. He hated to admit it but he wanted this to be anything but a trick. Something inside of him felt like it was breaking and while it was odd and not entirely pleasant it was something that deep down inside he didn't need.
"If I wanted to get back at you I think I would be able to find a much better way," Harry said softly. He planted another kiss, this time on the back of Draco's hand.
Draco closed his eyes savoring the feeling, he was not inexperienced when it came to intimate contact. The fact that one kiss on his hand was making him feel this way suddenly made him feel nervous and excited at the same time. He wanted to stop thinking for once. He just wanted to feel, to let everything go. His father's expectations of him, who he was supposed to be, for just one moment he didn't want to be anyone.
"What do you need?" asked Harry again softly.
Draco looked into his green eyes, but he couldn't find the words to tell him. Instead he leaned forward and pressed his lips against Harry's. it was the most dangerous, impulsive, and insane thing that he had ever done, but he liked it.
In that moment Draco knew exactly what he needed, he needed love, he needed to be himself, he needed someone to save him from himself. Harry Potter, the last person he had ever expected, had just given him all three and it was a freedom that was better than death.