Disclaimer: Of course, I don't own anything related to Harry Potter.
Many families, muggle and wizarding alike, had been destroyed in the Great Wizarding War, the final showdown between the infamous Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter. Cities were rent asunder by every magical means imaginable. In the battle that waged in a tight dome of impenetrable magic, Voldemort fell under Harry's onslaught of relentless magic. Many Hogwarts students and teachers were lost to the war, a fact that had the school - or what remained of it - in a state of solemnity and grief for many months afterwards, even in the midst of great celebrating for the end of Voldemort's terrifying presence.
He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Defeated At Last
In a brilliant show of wit and magical prowess, as prophesised by Sybil Trelawney, Harry Potter, The Saviour of the Wizarding World, has triumphed. Those bearing witness to his victory over the Dark Lord have described it as 'an unwavering beacon of hope for those of us that fought around him, with him, for him' – Remus Lupin, ex-Hogwarts teacher and surrogate family member to Mr. Potter. The Battle, fought in Salazar Slytherin's very own 'Chamber of Secrets', devastated the building of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Nevertheless, Hogwarts, like the rest of Britain, has been active in rebuilding and re-establishing itself, and remains open to the magical community...
Harry Potter: Missing?
Months after the defeat of the Dark Lord, contact with Harry Potter has dwindled, remaining only between close school friends and people he called family...
Wizarding Community, Whole Again
Five years after the defeat of Voldemort, the wizarding community has restored buildings and land devastated by the Great Wizarding War. Voldemort's followers, executed or jailed for several lifetime sentences, no longer walk among us. Hogwarts, the key building involved in The War, has been restored to its previous glory, thanks to many volunteers and magical creatures willing to put amazing amounts of time and effort into such a noble cause. Older students have welcomed new students with pride, and several ex-students involved in the war have taken up positions as teachers, although many have chosen to make a career deep in the heart of the Ministry.
However, many years after his spectacular victory, Harry Potter has yet to respond to the wizarding community's insistence upon his position of Minister for Magic. Although he has not been seen for over three years, reliable sources from within the Ministry, and indeed, his inner circle, have stated that Mr. Potter had been working as an Auror before his mysterious disappearance...
Draco Malfoy snorted to himself, turning the pages of the Daily Prophet with enough force that several pages ripped under his hand. There had been nothing 'spectacular' about the ridiculously glorified war. Those who had actively fought – no doubt this Rita Skeeter woman had spent the war hiding under a rock – remembered it as nothing less than a gory, nightmarish stand-off between psychopathic dark wizards and those brave enough – or foolish enough – to face them, most of whom had been a handful of inexperienced students. Most of those students had died, too.
Draco tapped the end of his chin with his quill thoughtfully. Where had the famous Harry Potter disappeared to? Come Voldemort's return, he had been forced to reveal his disdain for the Dark Lord, much to the chagrin of his dearest father. It was not so much a moral stance, though Draco himself had never entirely developed his father's obvious bloodlust. It was not the idea of a disgusting tattoo which would forever mark him as Voldemort's bitch, either, no matter what anyone said about it.
It was more the idea that, demented as Voldemort's followers were, combined, they still looked twice as sane as he did. When the truth had emerged about his use of 'Horcruxes', well. Draco was more than happy to turn himself over to the Order of the Phoenix at the advice of Severus, the only teacher he had ever liked at Hogwarts, and his godfather to boot. He had not appreciated being played as a pawn in Severus' and Dumbledore's stint at the tower, but even that had been preferable to the months he had spent being tortured by Harry and his stupid friends, who, at times, seemed more concerned about his involvement with Voldemort than getting over it and actually dealing with the problem at hand.
The name left a bitter taste on Draco's tongue. He had first laid eyes upon him at Madam Malkin's, and, having already developed an interest in him, had attempted to relate to him the only way he knew how – insulting those beneath him. He soon regretted this, catching on quickly that however Potter had been raised was evidently insanely different from his own. Attempting to reconcile in the presence of a Weasley had simply landed him, in Potter's eyes, in the 'Enemy' book.
Granted, the years to follow hadn't exactly seen willingness to compromise on his behalf, but being rejected had never been something Draco had taken very well. Having said that, his strange obsession with making Potter regret having ever rejected him had turned more into an even stranger obsession with making Potter riled up around him. There was something about Potter, when he had a face flushed with anger, muscles tense – almost like on the Quidditch pitch, Draco thought with a smirk – that...
Enough of that.
Draco stared out the window of his study in Malfoy Manor. It too, had been destroyed in the war, and afterwards he'd had half of it – the only parts of the Manor he ever used – moved closer to London, rebuilt to his liking. His mother remained in the other half, and was doing quite well despite her husband's death – apparently Severus had been harbouring affection towards her, a fact which both amused and somewhat disturbed Draco to no end.
It had been five years since The War, two years since Draco had exchanged words with Potter. They had, along with Potter's friends, reached a very tense truce, and had even worked together on occasion before Potter finally confronted Voldemort. Since then, Draco had caught glimpses of him that eventually winked out of existence. The last time he'd seen Potter had been at a conference at the Ministry – his involvement with the good side had apparently granted him a pardon, though he suspected it had more to do with the lack of skull with a protruding snake on his forearm. Potter had been half-hidden in the shadows, flanked by Gran-Weasley and the Weasel. He had been ushered out rather quickly after the main points of the meeting had been made and Draco, not thinking, had followed them. He had expressed mild amusement at the sight of Granger several months along in pregnancy, and had endured a simmering glare from her husband, but Potter...
Draco shivered. He did not wish to think about what he'd seen any more than he had to, although he had chased after them and tried a semi-friendly attempt at a greeting. Potter's voice, strained and quiet, had replied meekly, and GrangerWeasley and the Weasel had given him twin looks that were both scathing and grateful. Draco had been quite taken aback, considering he was used to seeing a Golden Boy who was both lively and irritatingly cheerful.
And gorgeous, but that was something that would remain unspoken. Years of being someone's arch rival gave you insights into their life, mostly because you ended up paying much more attention to them than you realised.
Draco snapped his quill in half. From your deepest hate springs your greatest love, isn't that the way it goes?
Not that Draco would ever admit to love. Intense fondness, perhaps. Desire. Never love.
His thoughts were interrupted by a light tapping at the window, and he recognised the small owl that belonged to the Weasel. Briefly the thought crossed his mind that, at some point, he might need to start referring to them by their first names, as there were at least ten Weasley family members still alive that he knew about. Head of the Auror's eyes-and-ears department – a spy, to put it bluntly - knowing as many contacts as possible was useful, and heaven forbid he ever admit this to anyone, the Weasley family was actually quite reliable.
He swore as the tiny owl bit his finger while he stared into space, and he swatted it away after grabbing the parchment that it had managed to carry.
You're the only one we can think of now that could help us. As mortifying as the thought of lending us a hand may be to you, right now you're the only option left. We'll explain it to you once you get here because this way you have to come to find out what we want. As soon as you can, you're welcome to Floo to 12 Grimmauld Place. Don't reveal the location to anyone, it's under Fidelius and is quite unplottable.
Sorry to bother you in this fashion,
Draco stared at the letter like it had grown horns, frowning. What could they possibly want from him? He smirked at the use of 'mortifying' – really, did they think he was that ungrateful? – but it faded once he realised they had entrusted to him a location under the protection of a Fidelius Charm.
"Better to get this over with," he muttered to himself, "lest I find myself spending time with them out of my own free will..."
He pulled a pinch of powder from the box over his study's fireplace and with a flurry of green flames, he was on his way.
"He's not going to come, Hermione, and even if he does, he's not going to help us."
"You don't know that, Ron, you really don't." Came the reply.
"Well okay, let's just say he's gone barmy and actually agrees to it? What can he do?"
The voices drifted over from the other room and dimly Draco rolled his eyes.
"As incompetent as you believe me to be, Weasley, I would appreciate a little more faith in my abilities." He drawled, making Ron stumble backwards and Hermione almost drop the infant she was nursing. He murmured an apology to her that she acknowledged with a nod. A toddler stood at her feet, eyeing him nervously.
"Uh, Malfoy, what the blo-...I mean, what the he-...What are you doing here?" the Weasel – Ron, then – managed to stammer. Hermione nodded approvingly at his lack of cursing, and chose a more polite approach.
"Good evening, Malfoy. You'll have to excuse us, we weren't sure when you'd turn up." If you'd turn up, was unspoken at the end.
He raised an eyebrow at her, then stiffened as the toddler made her way over to him and proceeded to prod at his very expensive shoes. He cleared his throat, and Ron hastily went over to snatch the thing into his arms.
"Uh, our daughter, Rose," he tried awkwardly, "and that's Hugo."
Hugo? Draco's eyebrow rose more, and Ron coughed.
"Lost...lost a bet with George." He muttered.
"Indeed." Draco replied dryly.
"Won't you sit down, please?" Hermione offered as Ron sat next to her. Draco took a seat in the armchair opposite them – casting his eyes around, he found that the living room was quite well-furnished.
Hermione seemed to read his mind, for she began, "I suppose you're wondering why we've contacted you out of the blue."
Hermione cleared her throat, taking shaky breath. "It's...it's about Harry."
"I...I haven't a clue where to begin. Would you...just join us for dinner now? We can get right down to business there so that everyone else can...discuss...it."
Draco twitched visibly. A childhood grudge seemed petty now, but it was common knowledge that even after the war Draco had distanced himself from anything that reminded him of Hogwarts. The idea of seeing the Weasley family, no matter how tolerable they'd become during the months leading up to the war, was not on his list of favourite things to do. However, he was here now, he was curious, and he was a trifle annoyed at how she kept dancing around the subject.
"I suppose the great hero needs minions?" Draco asked sarcastically. He stood, noting the winces the other two gave, and sighed. "I might as well, but don't think I'm happy about it."
He glided after them into the dining room. On the way, Hermione explained that the Black family Manor had been handed down to Harry, and over the past five years, in the midst of rebuilding the damage done by the war, they had also given the whole place a makeover. He had to admit, it wasn't bad at all.
The dining room was decorated in greens and browns, a tasteful mix which lent a classic taste to the room. He gave a start when he saw the table. Present were George, Bill, Charlie, Molly, Arthur, and Ginny Weasley, with assorted spouses and offspring. Another young child he assumed to be the son of Remus Lupin and his distant cousin Nymphadora, mainly due to the fact that his hair kept shifting colours, was talking animatedly to another young boy. They fell silent when he entered, and he stared right back at them. Potter, he saw, was missing, and he felt a stab of annoyance – if he needed help, the least he could do was actually address Draco himself.
"Um, yes. So, as you can see, Malfoy's...here." Ron finished lamely. Introductions were made, mostly for the childrens' names – as if he would remember them – and he sat. The dinner was quite good, though he preferred his own cooking, and halfway through, Hermione and Ginny disappeared.
When they came back, the table fell silent again, and Draco turned to see who they were avoiding looking at this time. His jaw dropped. Potter – it would always be Potter – was being half-supported by both girls, making his way uncertainly to the table. He looked gaunt, as though his skin was all that separated the air and his bones, and his eyes were grey, not green, a dull colour that made Draco's own light-grey eyes look almost bright silver.
"Now, sit here, Harry." Ginny was saying gently. He blinked, apparently not seeing her, and sat down awkwardly and roughly, hard enough that Draco was afraid he might break himself. The table was still silent, looking at him nervously.
This was far from the ex-Gryffindor that Draco remembered. This was a shell of a person, a ghost in flesh. The old Potter would have been talking and laughing and stuffing his face in a highly undignified manner, all the while sending Draco glares or snarky remarks, though without venom, given their standing after the war.
"So...thanks for saving my neck out there."
"I would thank you for the same but I can't bring myself to do it."
Potter's face flushed, and he glared, but it was in good humour.
"Where do we stand now?"
"Grow up, Potter. We're not in school anymore."
Potter had stared at him, those too-bright eyes full of naive confusion, and Draco had sighed in spite of himself. Reaching forward, he clasped Potter's shoulder, ignoring the way his long-time rival looked dishevelled, reminding himself it was because of the fighting, nothing else.
"We're not quite friends, Potter." He had stated simply, and Potter had nodded, understanding.
"But we could be."
Draco had been rather taken aback by Potter's statement, but he had let it slide. Nothing remained of that boy in the figure sitting across the table from him.
"What happened?" he asked finally, the words filling the room. Potter looked up, starting at an unfamiliar voice. Upon seeing Draco, he froze momentarily, mumbling under his breath to himself. His voice was cracked, barely more than a whisper. He then stopped abruptly and returned to his silent, expressionless state.
The table, as one, looked shocked.
"That's the first time he's said anything in a year, Malfoy." Hermione whispered.
He met her gaze coolly. "It seems we have much more to discuss than you let on, Granger."
Hermione, Ginny and Ron, being the three closest to Harry, met with Draco later during the week when his schedule was clear.
"So. You owe me an explanation." Draco said, crossing his arms.
"We owe you-? Now just a minute, Malfoy, we don't-"
Hermione cut off her husband's tirade. "You have every right to back out of helping us once it's all been explained, but once you've agreed, you're committed, is that clear?"
Draco nodded, a tight movement that was barely visible, and Ginny sniffed loudly at him. He turned to look at her and she held his stare defiantly, beginning the tale of Harry's detrimental state of both mind and body.
"After the war, Harry was obviously physically, mentally and magically drained. He slipped into a coma for two months, and when he finally woke up, he was unable to move or perform simple magic. It took him another year to get both his physical and magical health back, all the while suffering from debilitating nightmares and negative feelings." Ginny said.
Hermione nodded. "He has – had – a hero complex, as I'm sure you know, stemming from expectations of the wizarding community and his childhood. That's not something I can explain to you, it's his story, not mine. Anyway, he blamed himself for every death suffered at the hands of Voldemort and his followers, and he hated himself for every life he took as well. When he finally destroyed Voldemort his body shut down, but his mind was conscious, and it's possible that during his coma he pushed himself into a state of madness."
"As it was," Ron cut in, "when he did finally wake up it took seventeen fully trained mediwizards to control the outburst of uncontrolled magic he pulled – it was only after his initial...explosion...that he was unable to use magic very much at all. He shattered wards all around the hospital and almost took out all four walls of the room he was in. We managed to calm him down, and for a while, despite his physical and magical cripples, he was relatively normal, though the nightmares couldn't have helped."
"We think," Hermione began again, "that after years of having no one to rely on but himself, after having friends in Hogwarts, the shock of the battle and the death toll...well it was like a bomb, Malfoy. But this one imploded. He's withdrawn completely into himself. He doesn't sleep – if he does, he has nightmares."
"He used to nod off for ten minutes and wake up screaming – that night you came over, he was muttering, something like a whisper, but we're pretty sure he's screamed himself hoarse and just never bothered making a sound afterwards. He barely eats, his magic is up to full strength but he never uses it unless he gets really frustrated or terrified, and then we have to literally throw him into a room that's specially warded to contain his magical fits." Ginny looked like she was about to cry now; certainly her voice was getting higher and more neurotic.
"And where do I fit in with all of this? I'm no Healer."
"No," Ron agreed, "but you're a right foul git, and you know exactly what to say and do to provoke a reaction out of him. Any reaction."
"As well as that," Hermione said, a little more timidly, and then trailed off. She shared an awkward, shameful look at Ron and Ginny, and Malfoy sneered.
"You want me to not only attempt to fix him, because of your futile attempts at keeping him sane, but you want me to babysit him as well, don't you? You want to live your own lives so you pawn him off on me, is that it?"
They did not, to his surprise, rise to the bait. "In a sense, yes," Ginny replied quietly. "But we don't want to remove him from the Manor, not after all the hospitality he showed us in his years of lucidity. We don't want to cut off contact with him entirely, but we've tried everything, and unfortunately," her mouth twisted, "you're the only one left. We've tried half the bloody wizarding community, Malfoy."
"What do I get out of it?"
They gaped at him, and he shrugged.
"I don't do something for nothing, particularly when it involves constant contact with the lot of you, and I'm assuming I'm going to have to move in with the bloody heroic prat. With all of you. Why should I?"
"I suppose 'out of the goodness of your heart' isn't a phrase that can be used with you, is it, you git?" Ron snapped.
"We can pay you." That was Ginny.
"We'll supply you with information." Ron suggested.
"I work for the Auror's eyes-and-ears, you don't think I have that already?"
"You've always carried a certain fondness for making him suffer. So draw him out of his shell then torment him."
"Hermione!" Ginny gasped, "What a horrible thing to suggest!"
Hermione shrugged, her gaze tearful but determined. "Well, getting tormented by Malfoy could hardly push Harry into this extreme a withdrawal, since he's used to it."
Draco felt highly insulted, but seethed inwardly. "And you think I'm heartless enough that, after working with him during the war, I would just ignore everything he did for me and my family and-" he trailed off, seeing where Hermione had been heading.
"You bitch." He muttered. He owed – owed! – Harry his mother's life and his estate, not to mention the trial where he had been cleared of all charges where someone else might have left him to rot in Azkaban.
Hermione only smiled weakly at him, and he grudgingly agreed to – ugh – take care of Harry whenever he could.
"Just talk to him, rile him up, just don't hit him." Ron muttered.
"Fine, fine," Draco had snapped back, "but damned if I have to stay in the Manor though."
"He's got a little safety spot in his own room, you can pull him out of it if you feel it's necessary. Check his breathing, if he starts hyperventilating you need to calm him down. If you need help send a Patronus or shout out or something", Ginny added as she and Ron Apparated. Hermione gave him a sharp look before she left.
And with that, he was left to mope in a most undignified, un-Malfoy-like manner in the privacy of his own home.
The next day, after stacks of paperwork, instead of Apparating home, Draco went to the Black family Manor. Or was it simply Potter's Manor now? He appeared with a 'pop!' in the hallway of the manor and made his way upstairs, like he had been told to.
Potter's room was at the very end of the hallway on the third floor, and he knocked several times before Potter's shuffling feet made their way to the door and opened it hesitantly, just a crack. Downcast eyes and a hunched stance met Malfoy's gaze, and he flinched inwardly.
"Good afternoon, Potter," he said dryly, "could you perhaps let me into your room so I can get this over and done with?"
Draco's only response was the door closing in his face. He gritted his teeth – apparently it sometimes took up to twenty attempts to get Potter out of his bloody room, and he kicked the door open. Potter whirled around and had Draco bound in the air without a word, a silent snarl on his lips. His eyes widened only fractionally before his face returned to its blank expression and Draco dropped to the ground. Potter spun on his heel and retreated into a small, door-less cubbyhole near the bed that must have been added specifically for moments such as these, a cosy space filled with cushions and blankets and reassuring pictures – many of them his parents, judging by their resemblance to Potter – plastered on the three walls.
Draco rubbed his arms where the bonds had been the strongest, and disdainfully sat at the foot of Potter's bed. He glanced around while he waited impatiently. The furniture in Potter's room was dark mahogany, the carpet a rich cream-and-scarlet weave. The bedsheets, coverlet and hangings were also cream, with a more subdued red, tasselled and worked in gold embroidery. His curtains were cream and gold as well. It was, overall, a richly decorated room; even the small hole in the wall, just big enough for 2 or 3 people, was furnished, in a sense, with creams and reds.
Draco muttered under his breath, keeping an eye on Potter, who still had yet to move.
"Talk to him, eh?" he murmured wryly. He stood up, walking over to the wall with the indentation. He sat down cross-legged in front of Potter, who did not turn his head at the sound of Draco's footsteps.
"Hey, Scarhead. Taken to hiding in holes, have you?" Draco winced in spite of himself. He was already reverting to childish taunts.
Potter's head turned a little, but only to peer up at a photo of his parents. Draco tilted his head, staying silent. Potter's breathing was very faint, and very shallow. Draco sighed. This Potter was completely useless!
He reached out a hand hesitantly – while he didn't particularly want Potter to die, he didn't really want to be here right now. He was no nurse. Potter didn't even blink when a hand was laid on his shoulder, though he did finally turn to stare – not look – at Draco. His eyes were uncannily like stone, and Draco shook his head even as Potter's breathing became even more erratic.
"This is fucked, Potter." He said dryly, and Potter, for some reason, blinked at him, though his breathing remained unsteady. Draco pulled out a set of vials from the air – his own special supply, for his profession often called for quick thinking and handy potions, and selected one which would calm Potter's nerves and regulate oxygen flow. Being good at Potions in school was actually one hundred percent his doing, contrary to popular belief.
He uncorked it and held it to Potter's mouth, receiving a small headshake in response.
"If you don't drink the bloody thing I'll knock you out and make you drink it myself." Draco finally snapped after several minutes of struggling. It didn't work, not that it came as a surprise, and Draco rolled his eyes, cast a sleeping spell on the tight-lipped ex-Gryffindor, and managed to get the potion down his throat. It worked, Potter's breath becoming even, but even as Potter's lips opened in a silent scream, Draco was remembering too late the warning about nightmares.
Ron came running up the stairs, making Draco wonder whether he'd been waiting for a chance to blame Draco for something, but all he did was shout, "What the bloody hell did you do?"
Draco told him, amidst colourful language, exactly what he had done, and Ron winced. Obviously he'd made the same mistake himself, because all he did was fling himself at Potter and hug him.
Stunned, Draco watched as Potter's silent scream turned into silent sobs, and his stone-grey eyes turned towards his safe-zone. Ron released him without hesitation and he scrambled into it, turning over so he could watch both Ron and Draco. He blinked – a sign that he was startled, Draco though, because he barely blinked otherwise – at the sight of Ron standing next to Draco, and he frowned.
Ron shook his head. "We're getting facial expressions out of him a lot when you're around," he murmured, "and right now he's stunned and confused, probably because we're standing together."
"Really, Weasley, because I couldn't have guessed that for myself?" came the reply, to which Ron grumbled to himself.
Potter was blinking rapidly now, and he must have taken the sight in front of him as a sign he really was going crazy, because he started tugging at his hair violently.
Ron winced, moving forward, but Potter shook his head roughly, no doubt pulling loose some clumps of hair in the process, and Ron teetered, obviously torn.
"Potter." Draco said, taking a step towards him. "For God's sake, you're a twenty-two year old man, get a grip."
Potter's eyes narrowed momentarily, and Ron made a noise of amazement – or perhaps he was choking, Draco didn't particularly care. Eyes kept on Potter's eerie stare, he produced the potion vials once more, so that Potter could see them.
"You know I was good at Potions in school, Potter, so I'll say this once, and once only. I have here a sleeping potion which will give you a dreamless sleep for about eight hours. You need it. Drink it, or I'll force it down your bloody throat again."
Potter closed his eyes. The bags under his eyes could have passed for separate entities. He swallowed, looking at Ron.
"As much as I hate to say this, mate, I'd let him. Glad to see some responses from you though."
Potter nodded weakly and opened his mouth, clearly wanting Draco to give him the potion. Draco grimaced, kneeling down in front of Potter. He uncorked the vial and tipped it down Potter's throat. He immediately fell forward, fast asleep. Draco caught him automatically, and shuddered. Potter's weight was insubstantial.
"You, uh, need some help?" Ron said awkwardly, and Draco's mouth twisted in a grimace.
"He probably weighs less than your daughter, you idiot." Draco shot back, and Ron winced, though his ears had turned pink from anger. Draco carried the sleeping skeleton back to his bed and deposited him there without a second glance.
Hermione appeared suddenly, and she took one look at Potter and freaked out. "What is he doing sleeping?!"
"S'okay Hermione, Malfoy gave him some potion that'll make him sleep without dreaming."
"Ron," she whispered, clearly terrified, "don't you remember what happened the first time we tried that?"
"Uh, I wasn't aware you had. Was that when I had to go away for a few months for that job in Greece?"
Hermione was wringing her hands now, and all but ran around the room activating extra wards.
"Could you perhaps give me some sort of explanation? Or better yet, have you actually recorded everything that's wrong with the bloody fool?" Draco snapped, tired of their incompetence.
Hermione looked over at him, conjured a book and threw it at him. Draco caught it, but dropped it immediately – it was as thick as his waist.
"He's that messed up?"
"There are that many incidents from different points of view. Plus medical reports, trial medications, treatments. Malfoy. We. Have. Tried. Everything." She replied. "How long has it been since you gave him the potion?"
"Not even two minutes."
Hermione nodded, weaving an elaborate shield around Potter's bed and a smaller one around herself, Ron and Draco.
"What's going on?" Ron asked, confused. Hermione shut the door and warded that as well.
"You'll find out in...seven minutes."
Seven minutes later, Draco was ducking every imaginable spell ever thought of by wizardkind. Potter was livid, in a strange state. He was still asleep, but he was apparently reliving the fighting of the war.
"And this is going to go on for as long as he's asleep?" Draco shouted as he barely ducked a Stunner.
"I'm afraid so!" Hermione yelled back, a gash on her arm caused by a Sectumsempra spell she'd been brushed by.
"Bloody hell, for eight hours?" Ron shouted.
"This could have been avoided had you warned me about this!" Draco yelled as an Avada Kedavra almost hit him square in the eye.
"We said no sleep!"
"You said he had nightmares!"
"You think we would've have tried a simple dreamless sleeping potion?" Hermione screeched at him. She looked ready to start cursing him as well.
Draco groaned, then turned his attention on Potter.
"You listen to me, you great bloody moron!" he screamed at the irate Potter, who snarled at someone invisible and tried to tackle them. "You're in your bloody bedroom, not Hogwarts! Would you kindly wake the fuck up and desist attempting to kill your friends and myself!"
Potter suddenly froze, apparently staring into an oncoming spell with nowhere to go. Draco recognised the scene immediately – this was the point where he'd tackled the idiot to the ground. Standing, he launched himself at Potter, who had broken through the shield on his bed long ago, smashing into the ground.
Ron and Hermione stared at them, flabbergasted, as Potter's mouth worked without sound. Draco filled it in for them.
"Shit, Malfoy. Uh...wow, I can't believe you just did that..."
"I'm not about to die because you can't survive long enough to off MouldyWart." Draco muttered.
Potter laughed weakly, but silently.
"Fair enough. Look..."
"Get on with it, Potter."
Potter suddenly jolted, as though doused with cold water, and apparently time skipped forward to just after the war. Draco recognised his stance, leaning against the wall, looking exhausted and much older than he really was.
"So...thanks for saving my neck out there."
Draco swallowed. "I would thank you for the same but I can't bring myself to do it."
Potter's face flushed, and he glared.
"Where do we stand now?"
"Grow up, Potter. We're not in school anymore."
Potter stared at him with dark eyes, and Draco didn't hesitate to clasp his shoulder this time.
"We're not quite friends, Potter."
Potter nodded and opened his mouth, but this time Draco spoke as well.
"But we could be."
"If you get better, you can treat me to dinner for all the shit you just put me through." He said, smirking.
Potter gasped, taking a step back, and his eyes flickered – literally flickered – between grey and green. Then he slumped to the ground, taking what Draco suspected to be his first real sleep in a long time.
Ron was making real choking noises now, but Hermione ignored him and walked towards Draco as he placed Potter back on the bed.
"You..." her voice broke. Clearing her throat, she tried again, but he was already stalking off.
"I really don't have time for this crap, Granger," he snapped. He was doing a lot of snapping here. "This is a totally useless, brainless shadow of the Potter I remember and I don't enjoy wasting my time on him."
"But he remembers you. He doesn't remember any of us." Hermione's bottom lip quivered, and Draco rolled his eyes.
"Well hooray for me. It's just what I've always wanted." Draco replied coldly, and with that, he Apparated home.
Every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday afternoon at precisely five o'clock, Draco would Apparate into the Black Manor hallway and make his way over to Potter's bedroom. Part of the agreement for Draco's miserable task of Pottersitter was that he show up several times a week. It was during these visits that Potter got any sleep, but Draco was getting extremely tired of having to play a part in Potter's bloody nightmare.
One Friday afternoon, while Potter was re-enacting his war day, Draco, fed up with repeating himself over and over, remained silent. Potter's eyes, which normally faded in and out of their normal colouring, remained their usual grey and to Draco's chagrin, Potter had then sunk to the floor, whispering to himself. He even began rocking back and forth like some kind of demented madman, and Draco, having resigned himself to the unlikely role of Potter's sitter, was by his side without really thinking about what he was doing.
Potter, to his horror, had seized his sleeve and buried his head into the crook of Draco's arm - having read through several reports in the massive book Hermione had flung at him, he understood this to be quite a normal reaction in the face of uncertainty.
Draco had therefore allowed Potter to mutter into his rather expensive cloak, all the while trying not to think about how close Potter actually was. It wasn't difficult to pretend he wasn't attracted in any way to Potter, considering that the snivelling freak he had attached to his arm was certainly not the person he had developed feelings for during the last year of school and the months leading up to the war.
When Potter had finally stopped shaking, Draco stood up brusquely and left without a word.
Christmas, Draco thought, was a ridiculously sentimental holiday. Never mind that the food was to die for, the music was cheerful and there were presents to go around. It was a time to celebrate family and love and Draco hadn't had either of those for several years. The mood at his office in the Ministry was far too happy for his liking, and for once he actually sighed with relief when the time came for him to Apparate to Potter.
When he got there, he nodded at the absence of sound, although a Christmas tree and some decorations were strung around the Manor. The Weasleys waved and nodded and murmured hellos while their children yelled in delight at the appearance of 'Uncle Malfoy', something which had him shooting death glares at everyone he could.
"Put an end to this!" he snapped as one of the girls - he thought it might be Roxanne, George's daughter - tugged on his cloak. George - he'd been right, apparently - came in and swooped upon his 'precious girl', carrying her away from Draco, much to his relief.
Draco shuddered dramatically, and was about to make his way upstairs before Hermione stopped him. Shortly afterwards, Potter appeared in the doorway, guided by Fleur Delacour-Weasley and Bill.
"We only really drag him out of his room for occasions like Christmas, and birthdays." Hermione explained quietly, "We thought you might want to stay down here with us."
Draco stared at her in disbelief. "You've got to be joking."
"Have anywhere better to be?" Ron's question was a challenge if Draco had ever heard one.
Draco paused. "A...really shit office party or...alone with house elves." he admitted, ignoring Hermione's indignation at the use of house elves.
He took a seat with as much grace as he could muster, and said nothing for most of the night, only watching the huge family talk and laugh as though nothing was unusual about a Malfoy sitting on their couch or Harry looking as though he was dead. Halfway through the night, presents were passed around. To Draco's surprise, he received a few himself, mostly generic items, because after all, he wasn't exactly a close family friend. He did get a rather nice jacket from Ron and Hermione, but he refrained from telling them that he liked it.
Throughout the whole exchange, Potter sat still and silent, until a pile of presents that were his sat untouched by his feet.
"Do you want to open them, Harry?" Ginny said quietly. Her husband, Blaise - Draco had almost suffered a heart attack at their wedding, and an even bigger one when he found out Blaise had agreed to live in the Manor - squeezed her hand reassuringly.
Potter only turned his head towards the sound, but gave no reply.
Draco tutted, and forced Potter to look at him, drawing gasps through the room. "Potter," he said firmly, "I think that's rather ungrateful. Open the bloody presents the bloody Weasleys have gotten for you."
Potter's eyes bore into his, and when they flickered to green for longer than a split second, Draco's breath hitched. Potter turned towards the Weasleys and opened his mouth to say something, but apparently seeing them properly for the first time in years scared the living daylights out of him because his eyes were back to grey in a flash and he was sprinting up the stairs to his room.
Draco sighed, ready to face an onslaught of insults and anger, but instead, Molly Weasley actually had the nerve to wrap him into a hug, the likes of which rivalled his mother's choking, bone-crushing squeezes, and Draco smiled in spite of himself.
Come the new year, Draco found himself buried in paperwork, and he also found Potter sitting at the window, crying.
January had been the month of Voldemort's defeat, so it wasn't hard to guess the reason behind Potter's emotional state. He had started sleeping of his own volition, however, and although sometimes he would wake up in the middle of the night and freak out enough to shatter the windows with magic, it was an improvement.
Draco, privately pleased with the progress, brought himself to ruffle Potter's hair in an un-Malfoy-like show of affection, and that night, Potter had eaten an entire breadroll without throwing up. Draco had, in spite of himself, left the Manor in a cheerful mood, even going so far as to pat Teddy Lupin on the head on his way out.
The rest of that month had seen a definite increase in Potter's appetite, and Draco even went so far as to unwrap a box of Honeyduke's chocolate and watch as Potter stuffed his face with a whole three pieces.
Come February, Draco was bitterly disappointed to find Potter back in his version of a badly skipping record. Night after night Draco was forced to relive tiny sections of the past with Potter, and his annoyance often led to Potter crawling into his lap and quietly murmuring nonsense to himself. Often Draco had to rock Potter back to sleep, and usually Potter stayed asleep in his lap for much longer than Draco felt comfortable with. Draco was beginning to really want his old rival back. He missed Potter, and that scared him.
He couldn't help snapping at Potter from time to time, irritated by his self-piteous, deranged behaviour. He was still eating as much as he had in January, and was even starting to fill out a little bit, but nevertheless he was so bloody pitiful that sometimes Draco wanted to throw him out the window.
One day, Draco threatened to do just that after a particularly bad day at work. Potter, to his surprise, had glared - glared! - straight at him and told him, green eyes ablaze with fury, that agreeing to help someone out did not involve threatening to kill them.
Draco had been so stunned that even as Potter's eyes widened comically and he spluttered out an actual apology, he did absolutely nothing. Potter then proceeded to live in the cubbyhole for a full three days before finally emerging with apparently no recollection of his brief moment of sanity.
March was the worst month of them all. Apparently Potter's already twisted mind had decided to torture him for breaking free and directly addressing another human being. Draco tried everything; joking, talking, prodding, insulting, even allowing himself to be the subject of torture when he asked the Weasleys to bring their children in so that Potter could watch them climb and drool all over the long-suffering 'Uncle Malfoy'.
Draco seethed, gritted his teeth, stamped around in a fury and threatened Potter with increasingly more ridiculous ways to kill him.
Draco almost cried right then and there, because he was getting frustrated and he just wanted a Harry Potter he wanted to kiss, not murder ten thousand times over. And throughout the entire thing, Potter just stood there and recited the lines Draco was very tired of hearing.
Six months after Potter's friends had approached him, he decided he'd had enough. In the presence of Ron, Hermione and George, he had lost his Malfoy loftiness.
"No, we could not be friends, you stupid, gormless imbecile! Do you know why? It's because, unlike you, I have moved on from my losses and the crimes I committed during the war. Do you think your friends came through the war without lives lost because of them? Without deaths caused by them? Grow up, you self-centred idiot. I don't make it my life's ambition to attempt reconciling with people who I don't even bloody recognise. I don't know who you are! You're not Harry Potter, you're some sad sap who gave up!" He screeched.
Panting slightly, he glared as hard as he could into Potter's flickering eyes. He was exhausted, and he just wanted the stupid Saviour to get over it so that Draco could have his life back.
Potter started shaking, and the walls began to rattle with suppressed magical rage. Draco swore, wanting nothing more than to punch Potter in the face, if it would help. Potter collapsed, and without thinking, without remembering the Weasleys were standing in the room, Draco was at his side, cradling the black-haired boy and shushing him as he rocked him.
Suddenly, Potter's stone-grey eyes flashed bright green, and Draco was greeted by a fist in the face.
"Would you just shut up, you spoilt nancy-boy?!" Potter roared.
Draco fell backwards, stared into beautifully green eyes and lost it. Throwing himself at Potter, he punched him in the stomach.
"You shut up, you damned orphaned git!"
The insults and punches and kicks flew backwards and forwards until both boys were bruised, bleeding and irate. The other three had run to get the rest of the Weasleys old enough to intervene and all of them were poised to do so if things got fatally violent.
"You don't know what it's like to have my memories." Potter all but wailed.
"You don't know what it's like to have mine. You're not alone in this, you wanker. Now, will you please, for Christ's sake, for their sake," Draco indicated the crowd of people behind him, "and for my sake, forgive yourself. Because by condemning yourself for all the crimes you committed during the war, you condemn everyone else who supported you and fought for your cause. And because I don't like having to stand here talking to you like some kind of...of..."
"Friend?" Potter said quietly.
"I'm not your friend, Potter." Draco said impatiently, "because I don't know you."
"And if you did?"
"You're a sneaky, self-centred and violently disturbed person. Of course I'd be your friend."
"You know what really got me after the war?" Potter said, turning to his friends.
"What, Harry?" Hermione said hoarsely.
"That I couldn't even help myself for your sake. Because I wouldn't like to do what you did."
All the women in the room broke out into suppressed sobs. Draco noticed with alarm that Potter's eyes were flickering again, and he cuffed the idiot over the head.
"Stop that." He snapped as Potter rubbed his new bruise.
"For your sake, too?" Potter murmured.
Draco stared at him. "I meant for...I don't want to be here right now, I didn't appreciate all the effort I had to put into this. If I'd known hitting you would have helped I would've-"
Potter cut him off with a sly look.
"Well, perhaps more for my sake." He amended, taking a step towards Draco.
"If you come any closer to my person, Potter, I'll hex you so badly you'll wish you were a bloody zombie again."
Potter shook his head. "I should've told you after the war. I didn't tell you before in case you accepted because I don't think I could've gone to fight Voldemort knowing you'd said yes."
"What are you talking about, Potter? Potter!" Draco began to panic as Potter came to stand right in front of him.
"Malfoy, you wouldn't have done what you did for...um..."
"Six months." Ron supplied.
"Six months. Six months?! Well. Right. You wouldn't have put up with that for six months unless you at least liked me a little."
A little? Draco was ready to strangle him.
"Potter, what are you getting at?" Draco praised his upbringing for the fact he did not stammer.
Potter shrugged a little awkwardly. "Still up for dinner?"
Draco cast his mind back to the first day of Pottersitting, and shook his head slightly.
"Potter, there's people here." He murmured. He heard stifled giggles and turned to glare at the gaggle of Weasleys.
Hermione cleared her throat and ushered everyone out without paying attention to the strangled noise Draco made.
"Don't leave me in here with him!" Draco yelled as the door closed. He turned back to tell Potter goodbye and good riddance, and found said boy right in front of him, much closer than he'd been before.
Draco glared, pushing him away slightly. But isn't this what you wanted? Harry as your boyfriend? Haven't you wanted this for years?
Potter stiffened, and Draco winced inwardly.
"Look, Potter, I don't think...you should really get some rest, maybe eat nonstop for a week. I should go now."
"No, I don't think so." Potter replied, grabbing Draco's sleeve.
Draco sighed. "You're serious, aren't you? You actually want to date me."
Potter nodded, though he was blushing, and Draco smirked in spite of himself.
"Have you ever dated anyone before, Potter?"
"Of course I have!" Potter snapped. His eyes flickered again and he hissed, obviously trying not to let his past bother him.
"Stop blaming yourself." Draco murmured, and then raised an eyebrow.
"What?" Potter said, suddenly suspicious.
"If you have indeed dated before, I assume you're...experienced in certain things?" Draco said slyly. He was always ready to take a chance with whatever good circumstances came his way, and he certainly felt no qualms about the situation anymore.
Potter flushed, and Draco chuckled lightly. "Is that a 'no', then, Potter?"
"No, it's not...I've kissed...people before. And...my name's Harry, Draco."
Draco raised an eyebrow. Potter was as innocent as a kitten. Taking a step towards his prey, Draco established his control over the situation.
"Have you, now?" he murmured against Potter's throat. He felt Potter swallow, his Adam's apple moving against Draco's lips, and he gave an experimental lick. Potter whined, then, and Draco pulled away, victorious.
"That wasn't a kiss, Draco." Potter said defiantly.
"Very true." He agreed, nodding. "But this is."
He swooped in without any further warning and captured Potter's lips in a kiss. It was chaste, to begin with, a simple closed-mouth kiss with light pressure.
Potter started to pull away, no doubt to inform Draco that he was unaffected, but Draco had none of that.
Opening his mouth, he ran his tongue over Potter's bottom lip, nibbling on it slightly. Potter's mouth opened voluntarily, and Draco swept his tongue across Potter's teeth, coming to lick Potter's upper lip even as Potter began to kiss back. This went on for some time until Potter finally whimpered in defeat and Draco pulled back, smirking evilly.
Potter sat down on his bed, motioning for Draco to join him. He then bit his lip nervously.
"Where do we stand now?"
"We've never been friends, Harry."
Harry blinked at the use of his first name, and then broke out into a smile."But we could be."
"No," Draco shook his head, grinning, "I think we're far past that by now."
On Harry's twenty-third birthday, three months after his unusual recovery, Draco's present had been a night of sex that had him walking like a duck for the next two days, much to the horror of Ron and the amusement of everyone old enough to appreciate it.
On Draco's twenty-third birthday, Harry's present had been a return favour, something which had Draco's workmates laughing uncontrollably.
On Harry's twenty-fourth birthday, Draco had chained him to the bed and covered him in chocolate.
On Draco's twenty-fourth birthday, Harry had chained him to the wall and covered him in love bites.
On Harry's twenty-fifth birthday, Draco had organised a photo album of Harry's parents and friends, as well as many photos - some which made Harry blush and Ron retch - of the couple.
On Draco's twenty-fifth birthday, Harry proposed and Draco said yes.
Author's Note: I have, for IrinaWithAnI, edited this one-shot so that Harry's recovery is seen with more detail.
Thank you to everyone who reviewed, particularly IrinaWithAnI and RogueAndPeasantSlave because they went and read some of my other fics.
Happy reading, Ferayne.