Title: The Wonder Of You
Disclaimer: Characters and HP universe belong to J.K. Rowling and associated publishers.
Warnings: ooc, some language
Summary: Draco can't keep it bottled up anymore and one night, he breaks.
A/N: Bloody hell, I'm proud of this! I've never really been proud of a fic but I've worked hard with this one and I've persevered with it so yes. Please review if you do read because it lets me know that you're as proud of it as I am.
A golden bird flew graciously from the branches of the Whomping Willow as it shook the lingering leaves away, it's roots threatening to rip from the ground with every brutal swing. A few dead but crisp leaves twirled from the autumn haunted branches and came to rest among the others, trodden and crushed by the hoards of students who foolishly believed they could brave the bitter air. The lake with its thick layer of ice shimmering in the cold sun occasionally cracked with the force of the giant squid swimming towards the surface.
Harry found the grounds to be very picturesque in the early winter months - the castle was cast with a permanent but light layer of snow that would undoubtedly become heavier as the new year dawned. Students found that the cold bitter air bit mercilessly at their noses and fingertips so cast heating charms on their bodies in vain attempts to defy the vicious winds.
Whenever Harry announced to Ron and Hermione, still as loyal as their first year selves, that he wished to take a walk through the grounds, winter cloaks and Gryffindor scarves were thrown at him to keep him warm on his venture outside - Harry knew just as well as the others that he'd sit watching the grounds grind to a halt until curfew arrived. He'd watch the sun set and students in a mad hurry to get back to dorms before a unforgiving prefect caught them. His glasses would mist from his warm breath, a big contrast to the air outside, and occasionally he'd wipe them clean with the cuff of Ron's heavy cloak but mostly he'd struggle to see through the condensation. Harry still sat with the burden of Voldemort and saving the wizarding world hanging heavy on his shoulders so the peace and quiet of nature was vital to him. In the silence he was just Harry, just had he'd been when he was eleven, without the fear of being murdered by a near senile old wizard who nowadays largely resembled a snake leaning on his mind. Although not entirely, his cares flew away with the wind as Harry sat against one of the old oak trees.
Often he'd contemplate just running away to Muggle London and leaving magic behind but this thought frightened him; he'd lived in a magical world now for nigh on 5 years and Harry didn't think he could live knowing there was such a thing as magic, and knowing that such a thing was coursing through his veins. Additional to that, his hero complex was far too big to leave the wizarding world in such jeopardy - it was barely conceivable to Harry and even though it was just a thought passing through his busy mind, Harry felt guilty as he relaxed.
Draco Malfoy stormed unhappily across the lawns with his hastily thrown on Slytherin scarf blowing behind him. He could feel his blood coagulating with rage. He too had a winter cloak fastened just under his Adams apple, although his was made from the finest wool and silk, custom and fitting to his body. Draco sat with his back leaning on tree trunks sometimes and dared to get the backs of his trousers dirty - of course he knew this wasn't the Malfoy way but the Slytherin common room had proved to be terribly nosy and if he was honest, Draco didn't want his business spread around Hogwarts and although he didn't like to admit it in fear of his carefully constructed Malfoy mask slipping, he founds the grounds to be beautiful at this time of year. Summer, he conceded, was just as nice but this was Draco's favourite time of year; where the temperature dipped dramatically and the grass was covered in a soft littering of frozen dew every morning that was guaranteed not to melt until late afternoon. He loved seeing his breath turn to harsh smoke in front of his face because his childhood came rushing back to him and that was something he savoured. His father would pick him up and call him his little dragon, swinging him around and producing giggles from his toddler self.
His father was a changed man nowadays. His eyes were no longer soft silver but a cold steel and Draco hardly saw him without his wand securely in his cane. Although Lucius never lay a finger on Draco or Narcissa they both knew of the dark magic he'd taught himself over the years, years where he'd gradually lost his sanity. It was difficult for Draco to watch his father lose his mind, and dignity, to such a powerful wizard, but he could see why he would do so. As mighty as Lucius was, Draco found he craved authority and Voldemort gave it him - he was allowed to torture muggles just for the sake of torturing muggles and it was assumed that the power made him drunk after a while. It angered Draco that his father would be so foolish but then again, what could he do about it? He kicked a stone out of his way angrily when he found his eyes to be welling up. He scoffed at himself and sat heavily on one of the benches on the border of Forbidden Forest, trying desperately not to cry.
Harry clasped his hands together and dragged himself up from the grass. The soil was damp and staining the cloak he was wearing, it's wetness seeping through the thick material and eating it's way into his jeans. He groaned as he stretched his lazy muscles out that were screaming for warmth. Not noticing the other person slumped on the seat, Harry sat and yawned loudly, surveying the grounds when his eyes became less blurry. It was a cold night but not too cold, a wet night but not too wet. The air was close but moist and it was just perfect, Harry thought.
"What the bloody hell do you think you're doing, Potter?" a voice said irritably. Harry jumped slightly and turned his head to the side of him. The body that he didn't notice earlier was staring at him as if he just announced that he'd murdered his dog, his lip curling into an unsightly sneer.
Harry was about to retort, about to say something horrible about Draco's father but stopped himself when he spotted his watery eyes. he thought for a moment, about what he should say or do, and decided on something simple.
"Er, you okay Malfoy?" he said meekly. Even though Draco was supposedly one of Harry's enemies the thought of leaving someone to cry on their own seemed foreign to him.
"No I'm bloody well not but I neither want or need your sympathy. Haven't you got something heroic to do?" Draco said. He turned away defiantly and crossed his arms. Malfoy's weren't weak. They didn't show weakness.
"No actually I haven't. And I know you don't want sympathy." Harry reassured him. "do you come out here every ni-"
Draco scoffed, cutting him off. "Spare me the small talk Potter. We both know you haven't an intelligent bone in your body so stop talking to people who have."
Harry gaped at Malfoy and abruptly stood up.
"Oh please, don't give me the innocent puppy dog look you pull on your leeches. Do tell me Potter, how's your little girlfriend? It's just I thought I spied trouble in paradise at breakfast this morning, or were you just realizing she was another hanger on? I mean," Draco said with a sneer. "It's not as if anyone actually likes you Pot-"
He was silenced by a fist being driven into his mouth. He was thrown off the bench by the sheer force of the punch and he lay, astonished, on the floor.
"What the fuck was that for?!" he spat.
"What the fuck was that for? What the fuck was that for Malfoy?" Harry finally found his voice. "Honestly Malfoy and you wonder why no-one likes you! Your manners are appalling and perhaps if you got just an OUNCE of common decency you'd realise that insults aren't what win you friends! Merlin Malfoy, you're turning out like your fucking father."
Malfoy stared at Harry. He wasn't turning into his father was he? A feeling of guilt pulsed through his body, something that had never happened to him before, and it frightened him. Just moments ago he was thinking about the kind of person his father had become and willing himself not to morph into him but here he was. It scared him.
He scrambled to his feet and cleared his throat, pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes. "Sorry," he muttered. "I'm sorry Potter. Can you stay?"
Harry froze, stunned.
"Did you just ask me to...stay, Malfoy? You actually want to talk to me?" he asked. The request couldn't quite function in his head and although Harry thought it'd be quite nice to have someone to speak with while the sun was setting, it was foreign to him that Malfoy would want to do the same thing.
Draco sat down and patted the seat sarcastically. "Don't sound so bloody shocked. And shut your mouth, you'll get all sorts in there this time of night."
The boy sat down slowly, expecting Slytherins to pop out from behind the trees and point at him, laughing and mocking him. "Are you going to tell me why you were crying now?" he asked softly.
"I wasn't crying!" Malfoy said, blushing. "I was merely caught out by the winds Potter. Yeah, that's what happened." He started to fiddle with the cuff of his cloak, his long pale fingers catching loose threads and wrapping them around his nails.
Harry laughed and that startled Draco and suddenly he wondered exactly he was doing. He was sitting on a bench, dusk fast approaching, with Harry bloody Potter and about to tell him why he was crying. All he wanted was for the ground to open up and swallow him so he could escape everything. Everything was changing and Draco wasn't one for change. He liked everything to be cemented for him and this was breaking from the mould. He didn't like change. He sat with glazed over eyes, his skin crawling. He wanted to go back to his bed and sleep everything off, whatever everything was. All Draco could remember was that his childhood had come flooding back to him and these memories seemed to sadden him rather than make him smile nowadays.
"You don't have to tell me, you know that? I just know that it doesn't help to keep it all bottled up 'cause it'll all come bursting out one day somewhere you don't want it to," Harry said, giving a casual shrug.
This was all very new to Harry. They'd barely said a civil word to each other during their five years at Hogwarts and they were spending time together without throwing hexes and cruses at each other. It was strange, but a good strange, Harry thought.
Draco sighed defeated and leaned back on the bench, his ankle meeting the knee of his other leg. his eyes were closed and his face was somewhat contorted with a hidden pain.
"It's my father," he whispered. "I miss my old dad." The blonde sat up suddenly and wrapped his arms around himself, willing himself not to cry in front of Harry. Malfoys, he repeated in a monotonous mantra in his head, weren't allowed to cry.
Harry fell silent. He'd blindly assumed it was something to do with Pansy or another one of Draco's love interests not something as intricate and...personal as this.
He cleared his throat awkwardly. "I can't really pass any comment on the father front Malfoy, but I know what it feels like to lose someone. It's the same concept really and I know your father isn't dead," Harry said slowly before licking his lips and continuing. "But do you mourn the dad he used to be before Voldemort?"
Draco gasped and brought his knees up to his chest, his face burying between his kneecaps. He felt his nose tingle like it always did when he tried to hold in an almighty sob and Draco could feel himself not breathing. he felt like he couldn't let anything build up anyway and he gave in, something he'd never done before.
Draco cried because he couldn't go to his father if he was confused and he cried for the adoring dad he'd once had, and all the time his face was hidden, he could vaguely feel a hand rubbing his back and lips muttering comforting words in his ear. He lifted his head and sniffed, wiping his nose with his sleeve despite the tears still running down his face.
"He used to be so bloody fantastic Harry," Draco cried. "He used to be the father everyone wanted because he just loved me so much. Fuck he wasn't even a father then, he was a Dad and I need a Dad right now, more than I can ever tell you."
"I can't be a daddy to you really but I can listen to you. Sure I'm not Snape or Pansy but I'm not someone to hide from either." Harry reassured him.
Draco looked up at him and he brought his hand up to brush his fingertips over where he'd punched him. A small bruise was starting to blossom on Draco's top lip and it was tender to the touch.
"I'm so sorry Draco," he whispered sorrowfully. "I'm so sorry."
He looked at Harry, confused and questioning.
"Everything. Just everything," he said in the same voice before whispering again. "Just everything."
Harry tucked a stray piece of hair behind Draco's ear and froze, mortified at what he'd done and shocked that he'd done it. He was even more amazed when Draco clasped their hands together, clinging to him as if Harry was his last hope.
And Harry thought as much. Although Draco had friends at Hogwarts, none of them, Harry suspected, were willing to listen to what Draco had to say. He probably felt suffocated from the heartache he was keeping bottled up and if it meant it relieved him, Harry was more than happy to listen to Draco. it didn't matter to him if Draco still loathed him afterwards.
"D-do you trust me?" Harry asked, the warmth of Draco's hand making him shiver.
Draco frowned. his tears were beginning to dry up a bit, his skin blotchy and sore and Draco could hardly believe himself. he was vulnerable, sitting here on a bench, holding hands with Harry Potter and he found he'd never been this vulnerable before. It mollified Draco slightly and he was frightened by the fact he felt comfortable around his school-yard enemy.
"I think I've always trusted you," he said quietly. "I've just never had the guts to admit it."
Draco trailed off and thought for a minute about what he was about to say.
"Thank you for listening to me tonight. Moaning about my father I mean. It must be hard for you." he said, bringing his other hand up to trace Harry's scar.
Harry shrugged. "Salt on closed wounds. Yeah, I miss them but I never really knew them enough to mourn them, y'know? And besides I've gone five years with your taunts about my parents being dead, what's changed?"
This shocked Draco because he had no idea what had changed. It wasn't like the Earth had stopped spinning or something had fused within his mind but he wanted to be nice to Potter, just as he was doing to Draco and he couldn't quite place why.
Draco stared at Harry with wide eyes and everything dawned on him. He was too busy whinging about himself and crying that he didn't realise that Harry wanted to comfort him. He actually wanted to sit there and be the shoulder that Draco cried on, he wanted to listen to everything Draco had to say and he'd never had that before. There were actually so many things he hadn't experienced personally since he was a toddler and he wondered whether Harry could help him encounter those things.
Harry found himself gazing at Draco's face wistfully, drinking in features he never knew Draco had such as the very faint freckles dusted lightly across his ski-slope nose and although his skin looked sore from crying, Harry thought Draco looked beautiful. He thought back to the last time he'd even considered someone as beautiful and was bemused to find this was the first time. It was a word, Harry felt, that could only be used if you actually really meant it and Harry was astonished to find he actually really meant it.
He could feel Draco nudging at his shoulder with his head and automatically lifted his arm so he could hold Draco close as dusk set around them. The students that were hurrying to their dormitories seemed to stop in time and so did the birds tweeting and the wind stopped blowing. Harry didn't realise what he was doing really but he liked it and he was sure that Draco did as well and that, for once, didn't scare the teenagers one bit.