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This is the last chapter of For Their Unconquerable Souls. I hope you've all enjoyed coming along on this ride as much as I have.
Chapter Thirty-Two—Loving and Fierce
"I was the one who thought that he should come to Malfoy Manor."
Narcissa watched with well-hidden amusement whilst her husband fashioned a new reality in his head, a reality in which he was the one to determine that Harry belonged with their family and even the one to realize what the cost of Harry's healing him might be. He was sitting up in his bed now, studying his face in a mirror to make sure the scars had faded but with his mind galloping so fast that Narcissa knew he could not be considering that solely. Already, he had broken off twice and stared into the distance in absorbed silence.
He was making up the story that would allow him to live with the loss of vengeance on his enemies. Narcissa was far from wanting to discourage that; she thought that Lucius was considerably easier to love when he thought he was winning.
But it was amusing to watch him go through the process.
Lucius caught her eye just then and demanded, "Don't you remember that? It was my idea first. You were the one who distrusted Harry and wanted to find some other method of dealing with him."
Yes, I distrusted him, but more because I thought he would not fit into the family. Once I saw that he would, I accepted him.
But Narcissa didn't intend to disrupt the small incipient reality when it was in the process of forming. She stood up, kissed him on the forehead, and murmured, "Yes, I remember that. And now I am going to call Rogers and give him detailed instructions about your dinner. What would you like to eat?"
"Veal," Lucius said at once. "And a stew of quail. And fresh-baked bread with honey dripping over it. And—"
Wait until Draco is sick, Narcissa thought, as she turned and found Rogers already waiting behind her, his ears twitching as he listened raptly to the menu. Then Harry will find out how strongly certain traits are inherited.
"Mr. Malfoy. Hello." The woman Draco had been told was named Healer Pontiff nodded to him as she sat down on a chair in the ground floor room that the Malfoys kept for visitors they did not want to see the rest of the house. The walls and the furnishings were intentionally bland, to fool anyone who might think to estimate their wealth from a few glances and carry reports of the Malfoy fortune back to their enemies. But Healer Pontiff didn't seem concerned about that.
Draco didn't know what to think about Pontiff. The woman had gray hair and faraway eyes. She didn't look like someone who would have been a conspirator with the people in the hospital administration who had hurt Lucius, and Draco had read the letter that she sent Harry saying she was not and volunteering to be tested under Veritaserum.
But Draco had seen already that Harry's strong love could blind him to the faults of the people he loved. He had chosen the Weasel, as one example.
"Hello," he forced himself to say. Politeness costs me nothing, even if I must kill her later.
Healer Pontiff didn't seem to notice or care about Draco's expression. She smiled and held out her hand to Harry. He went to her, though he looked carefully at her palm first. Draco could almost see him rolling his eyes as he did so.
Draco stiffened, but said nothing, because he had agreed to let Harry handle the confrontation as far as that was possible. He was not being overly cautious. There was a possibility that the Healer could have smeared her palm with a rare nerve poison, and it was no bad training to have Harry learn to recognize the potions that could hurt him
"Thank you for coming," Harry murmured. He took her hand, all the while smiling into her eyes with an easy camaraderie that made Draco bite his lip to stave off the jealousy. At the very least, he was certain Harry did not want Pontiff.
I think. He had female lovers at one time, too, didn't he.
"Anything to free myself from suspicion in the eyes of my favorite student." Healer Pontiff sat down in a chair exactly as if she'd been invited for some normal purpose. "Have you finished putting the Veritaserum in the tea? I like a dash of sugar, no more than that."
Draco gave her a steady annoyed stare as he tipped three drops of Veritaserum into the cup of tea standing ready, following it with sugar he had to summon Rogers to fetch. He didn't appreciate her attitude.
From her serene expression, he had no idea if she absorbed the insult. And Harry was hiding a grin, badly, as he sat down in a chair across from Pontiff. Of course she would have no reason to think she was in danger if her "favorite student" was carrying on like some sort of clown.
Pontiff sipped the tea and gave a satisfied sigh. "Some amazing changes in the hierarchy of the hospital," she remarked to Harry. "Burne-Jones and Neverlong have been arrested. And Foxe. Really, I wouldn't have thought it of him. He seemed content to condone the minor forms of corruption whilst driving out the major ones."
"He lost a relative to Lucius, as he thought," Harry said quietly. "The conspiracy involved a wide range of people, both former Death Eaters, or their relatives, and those who thought it permissible to strike back because they believed the Wizengamot was wrong."
"Harry," Draco hissed, coming up behind him. He couldn't believe Harry would simply speak all those details in front of Healer Pontiff and possibly contaminate what she knew like that. Was Draco the only one who took any reasonable precautions at all?
"I intend to ask her to make a Healer's Oath to me," Harry said, "so that she can't speak to anyone about what we say in this room without our permission. It's used all the time when a patient has only one Healer and wants to keep the condition secret."
Pontiff nodded. "Very good," she said. She drank a little more tea, with a long sip that made Draco suspect she guzzled sugar in private.
"The Veritaserum should have had time enough to take effect." The Healer set her cup on the table beside the chair, with what Draco had to admit was at least a proper respect for the cup's delicacy, and smiled again. "Ask me what you will."
At last."Were you involved in the conspiracy against Harry?" Draco demanded.
Draco frowned, then smiled. Sometimes the proper use of Veritaserum simply relies on the way one asks the questions. "Were you involved in the conspiracy against my father?"
Draco clenched his jaw. For the moment, he had nothing more to say, and he hated to know that his suspicions might have been wrong. Harry coughed and spoke instead, however, so at least it looked like a planned trade-off of questions and not a loss of speech on Draco's part. "Why did you never mention the headache curse that Emptyweed put on me?"
"He put a headache curse on you?" Healer Pontiff blinked.
Honestly, woman, you're a Healer, and he spent a lot of time around you, and he trusted you. How could you not tell? Draco's suspicions acquired a living heartbeat once more.
Harry nodded. "You never noticed?" There was a slight cast of wonder and pity to his face. Draco could only hope he was rethinking his decision to take Pontiff as a role model.
"No." Pontiff sounded disturbed. "I knew you had headaches, but I had no reason to look closely at you for anything but immediate wounds." She gave Harry an earnest look that seemed meant as some sort of apology. Draco sighed in disgust, knowing that Harry would, of course, take it that way and let her off the hook for anything she had done. "I was often thinking of my next patient already when I treated you, since I knew you had the knowledge of Healing magic to help yourself even if I missed something. I was more worried about your keeping your wounds secret out of misguided stoicism for so long that you would collapse. Therefore, I wished to treat the obvious ones. Your headaches were not life-threatening."
"No," Draco said between gritted teeth, "only livelihood-threatening." And that's all you care about, isn't it? That Harry be a Healer the way you are. You didn't care about him as a person; you only saw him as a source of talent and publicity, the way everyone else in that damned place did.
Pontiff shook her head at him. "It is understandable that you would wish to blame me," she said, with a gentleness that set Draco's teeth on edge, "but I had nothing to do with this."
"And I know that now." Harry squeezed her hand with his. Pontiff turned to him, leaving Draco in something like peace. "Tell me, how do you think these changes will affect St. Mungo's?"
"For the better, in the long run. We will have new administrators, and whilst they might also be corrupt, they will notice what happened to the last who dared to be too open in their evil and temper their actions." Pontiff sounded as if she knew what she was talking about, and Draco saw Harry slump against the back of his chair, as if he had been carrying a burden that someone had finally unstrapped from his shoulders. I can't believe that he's still concerned about the people there—but of course he is. He wouldn't be Harry otherwise. "In the short term, the publicity from the trials and from reporters trying to find out why Harry Potter left the hospital so abruptly will cause some trouble."
Harry grimaced. "Would it help if I gave an interview saying I left the hospital to treat a patient, not because I was disgusted with what happened there?"
The Healer squeezed his hand. "Will you ever come back?" she asked.
"If he does, it'll be a long time in the future." Draco stepped up beside Harry and draped his arm over his shoulder again. He thought both Harry and Pontiff could use a small reminder of where Harry belonged. "I'm tutoring him in Potions, and he'll become a full Healer. And then he can have a private practice if he wants it, or work part-time for private patients and part-time for St. Mungo's. But he'll still belong here."
Pontiff went on staring at Harry. Draco thought he would gnaw either his tongue or his lips off in a moment.
"Yes, I think so," Harry said. "Eventually."
"And the Malfoys' gifts have not been too heavy for you?"
"I've learned to carry them."
"Why would you say such a thing in the first place?" Draco knew he was hissing, but he couldn't help it. It wasn't every day that he met someone who had tried to poison Harry against his family before they had even thought of offering Harry sanctuary. Harry reached up and clasped his wrist, the backs of his knuckles pressed against Draco's pulse. Draco didn't look at him, because he didn't want Harry to think that gestures like that could melt him—even if they came dangerously close.
"Because I have treated Malfoys, and seen them try to recruit Healers before, when they had reason to trust someone," said Healer Pontiff. "Other families with much the same heritage and laws do the same thing. In almost every case, bringing the Healer into the family did not work. The Malfoys, or the other pure-bloods, expected miracles and perfect conformation to their way of life. The Healers, even when they were part of the same culture, had chosen other paths for reasons that often conflicted directly with that way of life. They either broke from their new families quickly or sank and lost their principles and their ambition, being content to live in luxury." She stared at Harry again. "I did not want either to happen to one of the most talented mediwizards I have known."
"It's a good thing your family doesn't always manage to follow its own rules," Harry said gravely to Draco.
Draco cuffed him on the back of the head, because that was practically required, but he had just lost his own burden. She understands us better than I expected. She warned Harry against us using the truth. And he still chose to trust us above the words of a woman he considered his mentor.
"I have some hope, since you have managed to fit in," Healer Pontiff continued, "that you will cease to neglect your own health so severely, Harry. I imagine the Malfoys would not care to have their pet Healer die."
How dare she. "He's far more than a pet Healer," Draco said stiffly.
Harry cleared his throat. "Draco's already pulled me up short when he thought I was going too far," he said. "And he has a better memory than I do for such things. I thought for sure I'd told you about being hit with the Breath-Stealing Charm when you treated my wounds after the attack in hospital. That you hadn't given me a potion for my lungs was one reason I suspected your involvement with the conspiracy."
Pontiff looked at Harry in a way that Draco would have liked to learn to imitate, because it made Harry wince. He still does not pay enough attention to my admonitions.
"You said you had been cursed," she said. "You gave me no details beyond the obvious and a few nods when I asked you questions. But you were weary to the bone by then, and needed sleep more than you needed an interrogation."
Harry sighed and almost hung his head. It was the first time Draco had ever envied a St. Mungo's Healer her power. "I'll try not to do that in the future."
"I hope not," said Healer Pontiff. "A Breath-Stealing Curse is nothing to let lie, Harry."
"That's what I told him," said Draco, and let his arm bear down hard again on Harry's shoulders. "He'll listen to me, at least."
Harry relaxed and half-beamed up at him. Draco felt his envy sliding away. Pontiff would never taste the pleasures of Harry's body—or of his allegiances, now that that was bound to the Malfoys—and Draco had his own means of influencing Harry.
"Good." Pontiff stood and smiled at them. "Bless you both," she said. "You have found something as brilliant as blood, Harry, something as brilliant as love. I would hate to see you squander it. Either of you." She looked at Draco. Draco lifted his chin and evenly, coolly, returned the gaze. Come closer to me and say that again.
"Thank you," Harry said, and then began to take the Healer's Oath, with a diplomatic tact Draco would not have suspected him of. It meant Draco did not have to say anything, and it kept Healer Pontiff from looking at him the entire time before she left.
"It's fine," Harry growled, and swatted a hand through his hair. As usual, that nearly ruined the effort that the house-elves had put into tending it. But Narcissa was careful to let no sigh pass her lips. Harry was under enough stress at the moment.
"Fine is not the same as perfect," Narcissa said, "and Malfoys are always perfect when they appear in public." She took a step away from him, cocking her head and pursing her lips. Yes, there was something that could be done, and she had only to ignore Harry's wince. Besides, he had his wand up his sleeve and out of sight and easy reach; Narcissa had insisted that he keep it there so that his audience would not find him overtly threatening, despite the fact that his words today would upset some powerful people.
Carefully and nonverbally reciting the incantation that her mother had used on Andromeda's hair when it grew in untamed directions, Narcissa watched as the magic gathered over Harry's head, tingling across her skin like the stroke of a hand and actually causing small flashes of lightning as it did so. Harry winced again, but the spell was done with too quickly for him to feel actual pain, and then she was satisfied. She nodded. "Yes. Now go out."
Harry gave her a single betrayed look, and then ducked past the green curtain that hung in front of the door of Grimmauld Place. Outside, the crowd gathered in the wizardspace that extended the front lawn went mad. Narcissa ignored them and peered past the curtain to focus on Harry. If the publicity dismayed him too greatly, then he probably would not manage to perform the speech satisfactorily.
But Harry did well. He spoke the words that Narcissa and Lucius had both coached him in (Narcissa could have come up with the speech on her own, easily, but Lucius obviously gained back some of his sense of control by helping to compose the words, and so Narcissa had allowed it). Harry revealed the essential facts that the reporters could put in the newspapers, but none of the deeper secrets behind those facts—the names, but not the motivations. It was all that Narcissa thought the society that had betrayed and abused their hero when convenient, and honored him when it was equally convenient, deserved of someone like Harry.
Harry even spoke the part about his becoming part of the family—which Lucius had insisted on—without much more than a grimace of resigned distaste. He did add that he wouldn't change his name from Potter to Malfoy, and that he would probably go back to St. Mungo's at some point. Narcissa could understand his necessity to do so. And really, Lucius should not be angry. He had given up dreams of convincing Harry to change his name after the tirade Harry began on merely hearing of the matter.
Overall, Narcissa was pleased.
And then, as Harry stepped down from the podium muttering imprecations to himself, she saw a familiar figure move out of the crowd and rush over to embrace Harry. It was the Auror, Adoranar, who had tried his best to flirt with Harry rather than give Lucius information on the case.
Narcissa raised her eyebrow and leaned back against the wall. This should be interesting, she thought, her eyes instinctively seeking her son.
Adoranar hugged Harry. He touched him as if he had a right to be there. And of course the cameras chose that moment to click, before Harry could push Adoranar's arms away.
"Julius, what the fuck are you doing?"
Draco was able to muster a faint smile as he began to push his way through the crowd towards the pair, ignoring the looks that got him (most of the people who gave him those looks sidled away in the next moment, as they saw his face). At least Harry had acquired the wherewithal to defend himself.
He could not reliably see the conversation that followed, thanks to his head bobbing and ducking behind other heads, but he could hear it.
"I wanted to congratulate you on solving the Malfoy case," Adoranar said, as if he thought Harry were an Auror, too. "And I wanted to give you some information you probably won't learn unless you follow the course of every trial, because the Wizengamot would consider it minor. I know you wouldn't, though."
"Tell me, then."
Draco cheered silently. Harry sounded like him, and that was wonderful. It was like giving Draco a place in the conversation even though he couldn't physically be present.
Yet, he added to himself, and shoved an elbow out of his face whilst listening for Adoranar's response.
"Well," the Auror said, "I found out that those people approached Xavier after he made that disgraceful scene in hospital. They thought they could use someone with a grudge against you and who knew you well, because he might be able to get past your wards. They weren't able to convince him to use more than a Beetle's Bite Curse, but still. It might have got nastier if you hadn't moved to Malfoy Manor when you did, since they had an expert in wards speaking to Xavier. Aren't you glad he was caught with the rest of them?"
Harry was right, then. And now that the Aurors have him, I reckon I really will have to give up vengeance against him. Draco sighed a martyred sigh, and stepped around a large woman who was staring straight ahead as avidly as though Harry and Adoranar were about to kiss for her entertainment.
"And was he also the one who removed the stabilization fields on Lucius?" Harry asked
Too much silence. Too thick, too deep, too rich…
Draco moved faster.
"You incredible bastard," Harry said, and his voice was rising in a way that made Draco wonder if he should pity Adoranar. But no, not with the conclusion that Harry announced in the next moment. "It was you, wasn't it? What in the world did you think you were doing?"
"I thought—well, I wanted to give you a chance to show off your Healer's skills, and that seemed the best way to do it." Adoranar cleared his throat. "And if he'd died, then you could have paid more attention to me. I didn't like you choosing him over me, Harry, when I was just trying to tap you on the shoulder."
Harry was silent.
Surely Harry cannot deny me this vengeance, Draco thought, and began to barrel ahead, not caring whom he offended. He would not dare deny me.
"I knew you would come back to me if you left the hospital," Adoranar explained. "And you always said you would leave if one of your patients died. Besides, didn't Malfoy deserve it? He might have been the victim of that curse, but he did some horribly evil things."
The strikes at Harry and at his father both left Draco breathless, and the need for vengeance was a physical pain within him now, nearly as bad as the lust he'd felt when Harry still wouldn't let Draco stay in the bed.
"I'm not sure what's worse," Harry said slowly, his voice muffled. "Your faith I would come back to you if I gave up Healing, or your attempt to kill—no, wait, that was definitely worse."
Draco came around a crowd of panting, grinning spectators and was able to see clearly, at last. Adoranar hadn't spotted him, although he was the one facing towards Draco. For a moment, sweetness surged through Draco.
"But you must miss me." Adoranar reached out as if to pet Harry's elbow, but Harry jerked his arm back. Adoranar stared at him, and it was all too clear to Draco that the idiot had not the slightest idea that he had offended Harry, or why. "Don't you? I was the best lover you ever had, and your objection to me couldn't have been serious. You would have told me to sod off it was."
A perfect moment for an entrance.
"He would have told you to sod off if he wasn't too polite for his own good and in too much pain at the time," Draco said. He wrapped his arms around Harry's waist and tugged him back until Harry rested against his chest. Harry went with the maneuver willingly, which gratified Draco to an extent he couldn't articulate. "And now, he's my lover, claimed and mine, and you've just admitted to trying to kill my father. I think Minister Shacklebolt will be extremely interested to know one of his Aurors endangered the life of a man the Wizengamot pardoned simply because of jealousy." His hand was on his wand already.
Adoranar lifted his wand.
Draco spoke a complicated charm, hissing the words with violent pleasure. Boils opened on every inch of Adoranar, including his tongue and the insides of his ears. There would be some on his groin, too, Draco knew.
Adoranar howled like a wounded jackal and staggered away a few steps, then managed to right himself and Apparate. A number of reporters followed him. Draco lowered his wand and laughed. He had finally taken some of the vengeance that Harry had denied him. Nothing had ever felt so good.
Well, except being inside Harry for the first time, and earning his love and trust, Draco amended conscientiously as Harry whirled towards him, eyes flashing.
"Must you do that?" he demanded, frowning at Draco as if the frown alone could push him away.
"He was lifting his wand," Draco said. "It was self-defense." He judged the angle and number of the gazes on them for a moment, and then lowered his head to lick Harry's ear. "And you're mine."
"That, at least, is well-established," Harry said dryly. "But what you did—"
"Was the smallest thing it is possible to do and still retain the honor due you as a Malfoy."
Lucius had had quite enough of his newest son acting always in accordance with the ideals that he had learned at Dumbledore's knee and not adopting any of the ones that his new family had tried to teach him. He would interrupt in public if he must, so that those who listened in would realize the debts that Harry owed in various directions.
He looked around, collected the eyes of several reporters he knew well, and then turned back to Harry. "And you are a Malfoy now. Permanently." He gave Harry a soothing smile that did not appear to impress either of his sons.
"You had me make that announcement because you wanted everyone to see the Boy-Who-Lived as part of your family," Harry said. He sounded as if he would hang his head in resignation at any moment, which was not the reaction Lucius would have expected to figuring out the truth behind a Malfoy plan.
Lucius inclined his head.
"You're enjoying the notoriety we'll get out of this."
Why must he sound so disbelieving? Harry's doubt pained Lucius, really it did.
"As I told you once," Lucius said, and smiled precisely as a camera flashed at him, "motives can be double without hurting anyone involved. I can value you for yourself, as part of the family, and still be smug that we will earn public favor and glory from your allying yourself with us."
"I wish I could just give you the fame," Harry muttered, leaning back into Draco. His mouth twitched for a moment. Lucius suspected he was fighting off satisfaction from Draco's boil spell. He made a private vow that he would try to help Harry relax and admit the truth, even when that truth made him look bad in Gryffindor eyes. It would only stress their son if he was forever being forced to apologize for his natural inclinations.
"That would be best," Lucius agreed. "It would rid you of an unwanted burden and give a precious possession into the custody of one who would value it as it deserves. Alas, we do not live in an ideal world."
But, my son, he thought, as he watched Harry roll his eyes a moment later with ill-concealed disgust, I will teach you to recognize why giving your fame away would be disastrous yet.
Lucius turned to answer the further questions of reporters then, mostly ones who were anxious to know whether Adoranar's claims or Harry's accusations held the greater amount of truth. He was content with the way things had fallen out. His enemies had tried to kill him, but he was still alive, and now publically under the protection of the Boy-Who-Lived. His son had claimed his partner, and rivals for Harry's affections would now be fewer. Harry had realized the truth behind a Malfoy plot and not immediately marched away declaring that he was quit of them, which was progress.
And his wife looked at him with approval from behind the green curtain stretched across the front of Harry's house, which Lucius knew meant he would be—call it well tended to—tonight.
Draco walked softly across the lawn, though with the rain all about him and the long grass underfoot—oh, yes, and the inhabitants' lack of magic—it was unlikely that they would hear him anyway. When he reached the door, he touched his wand to it and cast a few careful spells. The most important of those would shield his magical signature and keep the Ministry from realizing that he was using his power openly in front of Muggles.
Then he opened the door, which swung unlocked to his touch, and gazed into the hellhole where Harry had spent most of his childhood.
It was a Muggle home in bad taste. Draco looked at the lurid colors of the furniture, the countless photographs of a slowly maturing blond boy on the walls, and the patterns of flowers on the wallpaper, and wrinkled his nose in distaste.
This seemed a bland prison. But Draco knew how necessary it was for him, as a child, to have a space to exercise his magic and converse with the living or half-living things of the wizarding world—the portraits, the house-elves, the enchanted mirrors. He could imagine a wizarding child, especially one who did not know about his magic and believed himself a freak, slowly going mad here.
He cast a spell that created a ball of silver light hovering above his head, in the moments before it split apart and sent forks of itself darting away to the corners of the room. One fork climbed the stairs; one darted into the kitchen. Draco leaned against the wall, resigned to this taking a moment. The spell would reveal the remnants of Harry's magical signature, and thus where he had spent the most time during his childhood.
He was not really going to do anything permanent to the Dursleys, Draco silently reassured the specter of Harry that hovered in the back of his mind and glared at him whenever Draco thought about revenge. He didn't even want to see them, because he was afraid they would look too ordinary; he preferred the monsters of his mind. Instead, he wanted to understand Harry's childhood here better. If they—
And then he stopped, and leaned forwards, because a large part of the silver glow was coming from right in front of him. He couldn't understand that. Harry had spent his childhood under the stairs?
His hand brushed the door of a cupboard. He had to stop and take a deep breath when he realized that, and for long moments, he didn't have the strength to force himself to turn the knob.
It opened into a tangle of brooms, buckets, cleaning supplies, and rags. But Draco could not be fooled, not even by the darkness obscuring the cupboard at the moment. He watched the silver glow gathering like a drift of moondust around the floor and the low, slanted roof, and he understood. He could even make out the edges of where a mattress had been, if he squinted enough.
Harry had lived here. The glow was brilliant in the way that it only was when highlighting a place where someone had lain still, slept, dreamed, meditated, and allowed himself to wander in daydreams. This was the kind of silver glow that surrounded Draco's bedroom in the Manor and the balcony where he had liked to sit, overlooking the gardens, when he was a child.
Harry had lived here.
And Draco discovered, then, that he could feel both the immense anger that usually drove him into vengeance and an utter impotence to do much about it.
He grasped his wand and tried to think of a curse that would repay the monsters—they were monsters, no matter what they looked like—for the pain they had caused Harry for years. For at least ten years, anyway, Draco thought, disregarding the fact that he didn't have any proof of that. They probably wouldn't have kept him here after he started going to Hogwarts and carried a wand on him, but before that—the light was more than thick enough for it to have been ten years.
But there was no curse that would answer.
This was a depth of pain, of scarring, that Draco had no answer for.
And Harry had somehow carried that mass of scar tissue within his soul and not bowed under it. In fact, he had grown up gracefully, and if he was irascible and disinclined to give second chances to Slytherins, the wonder was that he had managed to give a second chance to people like Lucius and Draco at all.
Maybe he doesn't feel their treatment that way, Draco thought.
But Draco had no choice but to feel it that way.
He could envision what was lost. He had been treated so differently. He always had Malfoy Manor to ramble around in. He could go outside and look up at the sky if the ceiling was ever too confining, and of course he had plenty of indoor rooms, with their changing ceilings and walls like the ones in the Great Hall at Hogwarts, too. He had been raised with magic and beauty and the expectation of nothing but good treatment.
Imagine all that gone from your life.
There was no way Draco could give Harry back the childhood he had lost by tormenting his childhood tormentors.
But he could try to heal Harry. He could show him that he was loved. He could combat the consequences of the trauma he had suffered that Harry didn't even know he was carrying, such as his tendency to think himself less important than he really was or invest too much of his strength in Healing.
Yes. You can do that if the Ministry doesn't catch you in the middle of a Muggle house, using magic on Muggle property.
Draco took a deep breath and then turned around and walked to the door. At a flick of his wand, the silver lights glowing through the house flew back to him, coalesced into the sphere again, and then dissipated. The rest of the magic was already set to vanish when Draco Apparated.
You have to keep yourself safe for Harry's sake, if not your own.
Draco stood a moment on the lawn in the rain, looking back. He tried again to think of a curse.
And still there was nothing evil enough to reply to this evil.
And this was evil past and done, visible mostly in its marks on Harry's soul.
The last thing Draco thought before he bowed his head and Apparated back to the Manor was how unlike himself this was, or at least unlike the man he had been before Harry arrived, that he would consider another's welfare important enough to override his desires. He would, of course, do anything for his parents, but he wouldn't be happy about it if it took over from something he wanted to do.
Here, he did not resent it.
Draco stepped into Harry's bedroom and stood by his pillow for a long time, gazing down at him.
Harry rested on the bed without complaints now, though Draco suspected changing something to make the room more comfortable would result in some. His mouth was slightly parted, his nostrils fluttering with the force of his breath, his hair tumbled around his forehead, and his eyes so tightly shut that he seemed to be trying to keep dreams out. Draco could see the scar in the Lumos light from his wand only by squinting.
The way he had squinted to look around the cupboard.
Draco sat down next to Harry and reached out a helpless hand, smoothing it over his forehead. Harry turned towards him, murmuring, but didn't wake up.
"Why do you affect me so much?" Draco whispered. Harry smacked his lips in his sleep, which was not an answer, no matter how adorable Draco found it. "Why did you change me without my even noticing, when I was working so hard to change you to fit with the Malfoy ideals?"
Harry didn't answer. Draco wondered idly if he would even understand the question, if he was awake enough to hear Draco ask it.
Maybe the point isn't that he understands the change. Maybe the point is that I do.
And Draco decided that he could live with that, if he needed to. Maybe Harry wouldn't ever react just the way Draco wanted him to, but why should Draco desire that? His dreams of a compliant Harry were daydreams only. His visions were of a future where Harry argued with him and challenged him all the time, the way he had when they made love.
Draco lay down next to Harry and hooked his arms around his waist. He thought, with a faint smile, of what Harry would say when he woke in the morning and found Draco dressed already.
Lying there in the bed, motionless though they were, Draco thought he could feel the motion of the planet beneath them, turning them towards the sunrise and the years that lay beyond that.
Years they would spend together.
And in emotions more precious than vengeance.
Draco closed his eyes slowly, listening to Harry's equally slow breathing. In a few moments, his own had joined it.