Disclaimer: All characters and locales are based on and/or inspired by the works of J.K. Rowling. I do not own any of the above. But you already knew that. No profit or remuneration is sought or earned in this venture, only idle amusement. I thank you.


CHAPTER 4

Outside of the castle, night was falling, and a thick cloud cover blocked most of the remaining sunlight. Harry reflected sadly that there would be no stars that night, as he had always appreciated the simple beauty of the night sky. But for the moment, the pressing issue was finding Malfoy, and trying to make sense of everything that had happened in the past few days.

Fortunately, his search didn't take him long. Following Seamus's advice, Harry headed straight for the lake, where he almost immediately spotted a familiar head of white-blond hair on a lonely bench near the shore. He approached quietly.

"Imagine running into you," he said.

Malfoy looked up and smiled wanly. "I hoped you'd find me."

"Oh," Harry said. "You did?"

"Yeah. I have something for you."

"You do?"

"Yes. Here." Malfoy reached into his robes and pulled out a small glass jar, handing it to Harry. Harry looked at the tiny parchment label, written in Snape's untidy scrawl. Veritaserum.

He looked up at Malfoy. "What the—? You took it? And now you're giving it to me? What's this about?"

"Yesterday, you said that you couldn't trust me… and I don't blame you. So, I thought, maybe I could find a way to prove that I was telling the truth… If you want, I'll drink the potion, and you can ask me whatever you want. That way, you'll know I'm not lying. You see?" Harry couldn't believe his ears.

"I know Snape thinks you took it," Malfoy continued. "And it only takes a few drops for the potion to work. So, after I take a little bit, you can keep the rest, and return it to Snape tomorrow. You can let him question you—under the potion—and tell him what really happened."

At this, Harry was utterly dumbstruck. He attempted to speak, but only managed: "You— I—" and then shook his head. A sudden thought occurred to him.

He gave me the control, Harry thought, staring at Malfoy. He gave it to me willingly. I have the potion. I could just walk away right now, give it to Snape, tell him what happened… There's nothing he could do…

Harry looked Malfoy in the eyes, and his decision came easily. Silently, he held out the vial of Veritaserum, uncorked it, and very deliberately turned it over and poured its entire contents into the grass at his feet.

Malfoy panicked. "Wait! What are you doing? That was the only way for you to know if I was telling the truth!"

Harry smiled. "No, Malfoy. You're wrong. I already know."

"But…" Malfoy protested, looking extremely confused. "What about Snape? You don't want to tell him what really happened?"

Harry looked at Malfoy with intense curiosity. "I think I've seriously misjudged you, Malfoy." He smiled again. "I never thought I'd see this side of you."

Malfoy seemed to collect himself. "I told you, it was the Draught of Clarity. If you'd tried it yourself, you'd understand. You just can't ignore the truths you learn. And I can't live the rest of my life lying to myself about… myself. I'd go crazy."

"And you discovered that you didn't hate me," Harry said.

"Yes."

"But you discovered other things, too, surely. About other people, about yourself, your friends…"

Malfoy nodded.

"So why tell me?" Harry asked. "Why not one of them?"

Malfoy snorted a short laugh. "My friends?" he said. "You probably mean Crabbe, or Goyle? Or maybe Parkinson or Zabini?" He lifted a sarcastic grin. "Would you have told them?"

Harry laughed. "Well, no. I guess not."

"Exactly."

"Even so," Harry pressed, "why me?"

Malfoy sighed. "Because… you're the only one who'd care."

"Oh." After a moment's contemplation, Harry smirked and said: "You know, you really take this 'confession' thing seriously, don't you?"

It was Malfoy's turn to smile. "That's right, Potter. We Malfoys never do anything halfway."

"Well," said Harry, "I'm flattered to have been promoted from your worst rival to your closest confidante so rapidly."

"Yeah, well… Don't let it go to your head."

"I wouldn't dream of it."

"That's good. Any more of that ego and you'll go floating off into space."

"Hey!"

Malfoy shrugged. "Deny it if you want." Harry frowned, but said nothing, and Malfoy laughed.

After a moment of peaceable silence, Harry said: "Do you mind if I ask you something personal, Malfoy?"

"Why stop now?"

"Well, I was just wondering… Did the Draught of Clarity change your feelings at all towards… Voldemort?"

Malfoy's expression darkened slightly. "I wondered when you'd bring that up. And technically, the answer is 'no,' but that doesn't probably mean what you think…

"See, I've always thought the Dark Lord sounded a little crazy. More than a little, as a matter of fact. I also always resented the way my father idolized him, like some pathetic sycophant—and somewhere, way in the back of my brain, I knew that they were both… crazy. Fanatic.

"That's where the Draught of Clarity comes in, of course. Because, as you know, the potion doesn't change your feelings, or give you new ones… it only forces you to face your true feelings, which have been there all along—even if you didn't know it. That's both the beauty and the danger of the potion, as I found out the hard way."

"And, if you had it to do over," Harry asked, "would you take the potion again?"

Malfoy seemed to consider the question for several moments. "I don't really know," he said finally, looking at Harry. "I haven't decided yet."

"That makes sense, I guess," Harry said. And then, laughing suddenly: "You know something? This has got to be the weirdest conversation of my life. I mean, who would ever have pictured this? You and me, here. Talking about… well talking at all. Can you imagine what people would think if they saw?"

"Yeah. I can see it now," he said, smiling. "The Gryffindors would try to kill me. The Slytherins would try to kill both of us. Snape and McGonagall would both faint from shock, and that old coot Dumbledore would stand there with a twinkle in his eyes, looking for all the world like the whole thing had been his idea to begin with."

Harry laughed again. "That sounds about right."

"It's probably worthy of a headline in the Daily Prophet. 'Hogwarts Arch-Nemeses Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy on Speaking Terms!—Part of a dark plot to take over the school?—Or the last hope for the wizarding world? Rita Skeeter reports.'"

Harry had doubled over with laughter, but Malfoy wasn't done.

"The Quibbler would be even better. 'Knob-Fisted Beazleworm Invasion Causes Mass Insanity at Hogwarts—Boy-Who-Lived goes off the deep end and joins Quibbler editorial staff.'"

"No—stop!" Harry gasped, clutching his side. "It hurts!" It took him a full minute to calm down his fit of laugher enough to say: "Since when did you have such a sense of humor?"

"I always have," Malfoy said with a smirk. "You just didn't appreciate it as much when you were the butt of the jokes."

"Oh," said Harry, wiping his eyes. "Touché."

Malfoy smiled. "You know, I don't think I've ever seen you laugh that hard, Harry."

At the sound of his name, Harry looked up. "You did it again."

"Yeah, well. That time, on purpose," Malfoy said.

"You have no idea how weird my name sounds, coming from you."

Malfoy raised an eyebrow. "Oh yeah? Try me."

Harry returned the expression. "Fine then. Draco."

Draco laughed. "Wow, you're right. That does sound weird."

"I suppose we should get used to it?"

"Well, I guess so. If we're gonna be…"

"Friends?" Harry ventured. Malfoy smiled. Then Harry furrowed his brow.

"Can I ask you just one more thing?" he said.

"Only if you stop asking whether you can ask me," Draco replied.

"Fine," Harry agreed. "I was wondering… on the night you took the potion, why did you keep telling me that your new favorite color was green?"

The smile instantly vanished from Draco's face, and he suddenly looked… almost afraid.

"Oh, no… please, Harry. Don't ask me that, not now…" His eyes were fearful and pleading. "I don't think I could take it, if…"

This intense reaction was the last thing Harry had expected. "I'm sorry, Draco," he said instinctively. "I didn't realize it was a big deal. Forget I asked."

Draco seemed to recover himself ever so slightly at Harry's words, but was still visibly upset. With great effort, he brought himself to say: "Ask me again tomorrow. I might be ready then. But let me keep tonight… please. I need to have tonight."

Harry considered the meaning behind the words. "Are you saying that you think I'll hate you again if you tell me?" he asked. "Is it really so terrible?"

"No," Draco said. "It's nothing like that… I mean, I hope not." He sighed. "I don't think you'd understand."

Harry found himself fighting the urge to reach out and touch the other boy—to offer him some comfort. For some reason, it was tearing at his heart to see Draco's eyes so close to tears. And then, suddenly, something in his mind clicked.

Draco's eyes. His beautiful, silver eyes. My favorite… And all at once, Harry understood what Seamus had somehow known all along.

Oh my God, Harry thought. This can't be happening. Not Malfoy. No! But the pieces all fell into place in his head, just as surely as if he'd taken a Draught of Clarity himself. He groaned as the full weight of his personal revelation fell about him from all sides.

"Harry?" Draco's voice sounded worried, and Harry, in spite of himself, looked up to meet Draco's eyes again.

Those eyes, he thought. Those haunting eyes, I've been dreaming about them since… I don't even know when, and I never thought it meant that I—

The other piece of the puzzle clicked into place in his mind.

Green. Green eyes. My eyes. Oh my God, that can't possibly mean…

But looking into Draco's eyes, Harry could see the truth written there, as plainly as he could see the few stray strands of platinum hair falling across that flawless face… and as Harry's stomach fell, his heart soared.

"Draco…" he whispered, savoring the feel of the cool evening breeze under the dark sky. He leaned forward slowly, gently, and before the moment could pass, he planted a soft and sweet kiss on Draco's trembling lips… and suddenly the night was full of stars.

The kiss may not have lasted long, but to Harry, it felt like an eternity of bliss. Yes. This is what I've been waiting for… The world around them fell away, and there was nothing but Draco; beautiful, perfect Draco: the smell of his hair and the touch of his lips… If only this moment would never end.

Reluctantly, Harry leaned away from Draco, and the world came back into focus. There, looking back at him, were those stormy eyes that he would never see in the same way again. They were wide… pleading, hopeful…

"Harry," Draco said, his voice trembling. "Please tell me that was for real… that you're not just toying with me, because…"

"Very real," Harry replied softly.

"You… you kissed me." Draco's fingers ran across his lips, as if to test that it had really happened.

"Evidently I'm full of surprises," Harry said.

Draco gave a tentative smile. Now that Harry's mind was clear, he was much more willing to admit that Draco's smile was in fact… very cute.

"So, I guess you figured out what the 'green' thing was all about, then?" Draco said.

"Yeah, I guess I did." Harry smiled back.

"Until I took the potion, I never realized how I felt," Draco said. "I don't even know when it started. But as soon as I looked into your eyes that night in the corridor… They were all I could think about."

"And then you asked me what my favorite color was," Harry said.

Draco laughed lightly. "I almost died when you said 'silver.' I hardly dared to hope that it could mean… but I was right, wasn't I?"

Harry grinned. "Apparently."

"At that point, I was so high on the cheering charm, I wasn't thinking very clearly. I almost just blurted out that—well, you know…"

"I'm really glad you didn't," Harry said. "I mean, I definitely would have freaked out. I needed time to work it out on my own." On an impulse, Harry reached out and ran his fingers through Draco's blond hair, gently massaging his head.

Draco released a contented sigh and let his head come to rest on Harry's shoulder. "It almost seems impossible, doesn't it? I feel like I'm in a dream."

"If you are," Harry said, "then it's my dream. And it's been waiting a very long time for its chance, even though I never realized it."

Draco smiled, relishing the feeling of Harry's fingers in his hair. "So… what happens now?"

"Well… For one thing, those Daily Prophet and Quibbler headlines you mentioned are going to be a lot more sensational."

Draco laughed again. "Oh, Merlin help us if they do catch word…"

"I suppose we shouldn't tell anyone?" Harry asked.

"The way I feel right now, I wouldn't care if it was written across the sky," Draco said.

"Although that wouldn't be very wise," Harry said.

"No," Draco admitted. "It wouldn't. I can think of at least two people who would try to kill me if they found out."

Harry sat back, forcing Draco to sit up straight again and face him. "What?" Harry asked. "Who would try to kill you?"

"Well, first of all, the Dark Lord," Draco said. "To try to get to you or make you suffer."

"That's nothing new," Harry said, trying to sound unconcerned.

"Secondly…" Draco hesitated. "My father. I think he'd be pretty upset to find out his son… fancies a boy. Whether it was you or anyone else, it wouldn't matter to him."

"Oh," Harry said.

"Don't worry, Harry," Draco said. "I'm not afraid of them. Not that I want them to find out, mind. But I'm not afraid."

"I don't know, Draco. Maybe this isn't such a good idea…"

"No, Harry. Don't you dare. I know what you're thinking: that you'll be putting me at too much risk if we're together… and that's very noble, Harry, and apparently I love that about you… But we've gotten this close, and I'm not letting you go that easily. I won't." There was fire in his eyes.

"So passionate," Harry said. "Although I don't think I require much persuasion, in the end. I'm really not prepared to let you go either."

Harry drew Draco close, holding him tightly in his arms as they sat in peaceful silence beside the lake. In that perfect moment, Harry felt invincible. He would have fought an entire legion of Death Eaters single-handed if it meant that the moment could last forever. As he leaned in closer and allowed himself to get lost in the silver-blond hair of his once-hated rival, Harry made a silent promise.

I'll never let you go.


Yay! That's Chapter 4. I hope you liked it. Right now, I am thinking that this is the end... But...

If enough people comment and tell me they want more of this story, I'll try to keep going. Otherwise, it's just gonna end here with the happy, sappy, lovey-dovey ending. So if you want more, you must tell me! So far, most of the comments say to keep going... I'm almost convinced.

BTW please please review even if you think this is a good place to end the story... I crave feedback since this is my first try!

And thanks to my loyal readers/reviewers. You've made my day(s)!

Finally, Re: Beta... I worked without a beta for this (self-edited), but I would be interested in having someone beta for me in the future. If you liked my story, and are interested, let me know. Also, I have signed up to be a beta reader for others, so if you want to try me out as a beta, also let me know. :-)

That's all. :-)

Elf