Disclaimer: Only the plot and the little crazy quirks are mine. No copyright infringement intended.
Category: Romance, adventure
Notes: THIS IS IT! It's been a great adventure, filled with challenges to my writing prowess and your reading and reviewing powers. The proper Author's Note is at the end. This chapter is dedicated to my high school batch, Batch 2001, St. Bridget School, QC. Our 10th year since graduation is fast approaching… Love you guys!
Harry never knew anymore how he survived the week after accosting Draco in the hallway leading to the Slytherin common room. He just exerted herculean efforts to focus on schoolwork that even Hermione got suspicious at one point, thinking that Harry must have been hexed. He made sure there was always a smile on his face or that he was attentive to his friends and dedicated to schoolwork, just so others wouldn't notice the emptiness that was surely still etched in his green eyes. When he was in the presence of his friends and housemates, he was only too happy to interact with them. But there was still the ache in his chest whenever he was alone, like there was an itch that no amount of scratching could ease.
Stealing glances at the Slytherin table and one of its occupants in particular had become commonplace whenever Harry could risk it. But instead of making him feel better regarding the choice he had made, seeing Draco back in the groove of things in his own house made a mockery of his pain. Harry, to relieve himself of the impulse to talk to Draco again, became a social flower of sorts. He would discuss schoolwork with anyone indiscriminately, going out of his way to befriend people from all houses, participating in study groups with Ravenclaws, researching with Hufflepuffs and even sharing a library table with Slytherins from lower years.
If only Harry could continue the deception after the lights were out and he was alone in bed, thinking about Draco. He slept less and less as nights went by. But he made sure Ron and Hermione didn't know anything about his continuous lack of sleep. The last thing Harry wanted was for his best friends to try to help him again. The last time they tried didn't exactly make Harry's life any easier.
So after five solid days of barely thirty minutes of sleep a night, Harry took to wandering around the Hogwarts castle in his Invisibility Cloak. That first night, he went to the hallway where he last talked to Draco. He, of course, didn't expect to find the Slytherin there. It was a good thing Harry didn't for the corridor was as lonely and unforgiving as the last time he was there.
On the second night, he found himself in the grounds, throwing pebbles by the lakeshore. It was breathtaking, too. The stars were out in full force, and the mountains were dark blue and majestic in the moonlight. Harry had ended up nearly in tears.
The third night saw him in the Astronomy Tower—Harry's favorite place in the entire castle. The deck opened to a 360-degree awe-inspiring view of the grounds around the castle. It was like flying, only the scenery was below his feet instead of flashing past him. His arms were wrapped around his legs, which were folded in front of him. While he had terrible memories of Professor Dumbledore's death in this place, it couldn't be denied that there was no place more beautiful then here.
The Gryffindor was immersed in his thoughts that he didn't hear the door open and someone come in. Someone cleared his throat, breaking the silence and Harry turned his head to see who the intruder was.
"I didn't expect someone to be here." It was Draco Malfoy. He was in black silk pajamas, covered by a green Slytherin sweatshirt. His blonde hair was hidden underneath the sweatshirt's hood. "I should go," Draco said, turning to leave.
Harry rose to his feet, taking the hem of his Invisibility Cloak. "No, I should be the one leaving. I've been here for hours already." Harry got ready to throw the Cloak over his body to disappear into the night. He just wasn't ready to deal with Draco now.
Draco closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Strictly no statements, only questions," Draco said squarely, yanking the hood off his blonde head.
Harry looked up, startled and met Draco's eyes. It was their game! There was no way Draco could've known it if not for the dream that they shared. So Draco remembered! Had he known and remembered all this time?
Draco raised his eyebrows as if in question: Come on, Harry, do you want to play or not? "Did you mean it?" The Slytherin asked.
Harry turned to face the view outside and sat down on the deck again. "Meant what?" Harry fought to keep his voice steady. He wanted to scream his fucking head off at Draco. Harry had been beating and beating himself up, and it was possible that all this time, Draco had always remembered!
"Did you mean what you said that took us out of the dream?"
"What is it to you if I did or didn't mean it?" Harry stole a glance at Draco, who was already standing beside him.
"Why did you even have to say it, if you didn't mean it?"
"Do you always mean what you say?" Harry challenged. Draco, with narrowed eyes, plopped down beside the Gryffindor.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Draco asked, anger seeping into his voice.
"Why didn't you tell me that you could remember the dream?"
Draco groaned and made a show of rolling his eyes in consternation. "Why the bloody hell does that promise mean so much to you anyway?" He got it that Harry was so angry because in spite of having promised not to forget, Draco still made the Gryffindor believe that he didn't have a single memory of the dream.
Harry's hand closed into a tight fist, fighting to rein in his emotion. "Would I have made you promise if it was just going to be meaningless, you think?"
"But wouldn't it be so much simpler for us to just go back to how we used to be before we were thrown into the dream?" Draco stuffed his hands in the pockets of his sweatshirt and shrugged.
"Why would I make you promise you'd remember if I had intended to go back to how things were before?" Harry turned his head to look at his companion. He couldn't help but imagine that they were back in the dream again and it was just the two of them, alone in the world—there were no complications, no expectations, no reputations to uphold.
Draco's tongue darted out his mouth and absent-mindedly licked his lips. "Is there even another reason, apart from infliction of cruel and unusual punishment, why you made me promise to remember what happened to us?"
Harry chuckled in spite of himself. "Why is it so difficult for you to believe that it's not impossible for me to see you differently compared to how I used to see you?"
"And how is that, Harry? How do you see me?"
"Do I really have to spell it out for you, Draco?" Harry shook his head. He didn't know if Draco was just being a tease or he was really that stupid as to not know how Harry felt about him.
Draco exhaled through his mouth and tsked. "Why do you have to always speak in riddles, confusing the shit out of me? Why can't you say it to me straight?"
"Do you think we would've been able to get out of the dream if I didn't mean what I said?" Harry murmured. He had meant it—every syllable. It wasn't just because it had finally dawned on him what needed to be done because he had really, really wanted to do it regardless of the consequences—and he didn't mean getting out of the dream either. In fact, they could've remained stuck there and he'd have loved it more.
Draco was internally fighting the urge to stand up and start dancing around the room. Harry meant it! He loves me! He loves me! But the feeling of elation soon dissipated. Their situation wasn't exactly less difficult now that Harry had sort of confessed his feelings. If anything, their situation had now become a thousand times more complicated. They have so much more things to consider now that they were back in the real world. Draco couldn't even begin to make a mental list of all of them without developing some kind of aneurysm. "So what's going to happen now?" Draco wasn't really expecting an answer. He just blurted it out, thinking aloud.
"How brave are you?" Harry met Draco's eyes in the slight silvery illumination of the Astronomy Tower. Draco unabashedly looked back at him.
"Why do you think I even initiated this stupid game if I weren't brave enough?"
"Can I ask you something really important?" Harry leaned towards him, conspiratorially.
"What?" Draco asked, leaning forward too, half-intrigued.
Harry closed the gap before he could lose his nerve and captured Draco's lips with his. Draco momentarily forgot to breathe as Harry's soft lips pressed against his. It was a chaste kiss with none of the animal force in the fiery kisses they had shared before they were rudely hauled back to reality. And yet, it was so much better because this time, Draco knew it was not a dream he could very well wake up from the next minute. He was really kissing Harry Potter.
The Gryffindor broke the kiss with a wistful smile and a chuckle. "You do know that you just lost, don't you?" Draco asked, recovering quickly from being stunned by Harry's kiss.
"I didn't lose," Harry confidently declared, smirking. He went back to his position of hugging his folded legs close to his chest.
Draco scoffed. "That last one wasn't a bloody question!"
"Course it is!"
"What did it ask then?"
"'Isn't the real thing so much better than the fantasies?'" Harry smiled, brilliantly at his companion. He bit his lower lip as if he was suddenly ashamed of what he's done.
Draco smiled in the way that Harry remembered from the dream. Then, he shook his head. "Uh-uh. I don't buy it. I still say you lost," he said.
There was companionable silence that followed. It was as if they recovered their groove when they were in the dream that they didn't need to talk to be comfortable in each other's company. It was a while before Harry broke the silence. "Seriously though, I asked you if you were brave because what's ahead of us isn't going to be easy. If you even want us to go there," said Harry. "Because I think I don't need to tell you my decision. You asked where we can go from here, and I know in my heart where I want us to go. But if you tell me you don't want that path, I will completely understand." And Harry knew he would. He just knew Draco meant so much to him that if Draco wanted him to, Harry would let go.
"I know it's not going to be easy," Draco began. "Nothing ever is. We… could've just been locked in a cool, fully-furnished room with a month's worth of supplies to give us a chance for some serious getting-to-know-you. Instead, we had to trek through Merlin-could-only-guess-where, half-starved most of the time, dead on our feet, getting injured nearly every fucking time. No, nothing is ever easy for both of us." Draco realized he was tired. He was tired of trying to tell himself that life would be better if Harry Potter weren't a part of it. He was sick of denying what he really felt just to maintain status quo. He made a decision. "I've been staying away from you for so long and I hated every second of that time. I can't stay away from you anymore, Harry. I'm willing to try if you are."
Harry unclasped his hands and reached out for Draco. The latter took the proffered hand and entwined their fingers together. They just stayed like that. Wordlessly. They didn't need words, exchange of promises or plans for the future. They just needed each other—the touch of each other—and everything else would follow.
"Argentine," Draco exclaimed. "Her name was Argentine."
Harry looked at the blonde, curiously.
"My nanny, remember? The one who told me to wish on falling stars. It just occurred to me a couple of days ago. I wanted so much to talk to you then, to tell you that I remembered. But I didn't think it was a good idea." Draco hung his head, squeezing Harry's hand. "I've always remembered, Harry—everything that happened to us, every talk we ever had in the dream. The moment I woke up I could recall everything, but I didn't tell you because I didn't know what could come out of it. That time we talked, I wanted to tell you that I kept my promise, but I was scared. I told myself, you deserved someone better. Someone who'd fight for you, someone brave enough to always be beside you, to always tell you the truth. And I wasn't that person," Draco explained.
"And then I remembered what I was like when I was with you. I was a better man then. I was someone who could be brave enough, who could be selfless, who could be loving and kind and witty. I could be someone… worthy of you. It was you who made me realize I could be someone other than who I've always thought I was." Draco brought their clasped hands on his lap and sandwiched Harry's within both of his.
"I think you should look for her—Argentine. She would want to see the young man you've become. And I know she will tell you that you actually turned out to be quite… amazing," Harry said, he brought his other hand to Draco's chin and pinched.
Draco breathed a contented sigh and deigned to look around. "I never noticed before, but it really is nice up here. Didn't you promise you'd take me here?"
Harry fingered a strand of Draco's hair off his eyes and chortled. "I did, didn't I? I went here tonight, thinking about that promise I made you. I thought I'd never be able to make good on that one." It seemed like they had finally come full circle. After everything that happened, they were there together, fulfilling promises and fantasies they once thought had no place in the real world.
"I remembered what you said. I wanted to see for myself, the one place that you find beautiful, the one place that might come close to the one in our dream. And it is beautiful. No offense meant, I know you're a big fan of this place, but… I think our summit is still a thousand times more beautiful," Draco commented. "I know it's not a real place. It's just a figment of our imagination, but it was fucking breathtaking there." Draco stared off into space as if imagining himself back in the summit.
The Tower filled with Harry's good-natured laughter. "You know what—I think I have to agree with you! I kind of miss the summit—and Pegasus and eating berries for breakfast and riding bareback…"
"Holy Merlin, yeah—Pegasus," Draco paused, a smile playing on his lips, remembering their noble steed. "Listen to us, huh? Reminiscing things that technically didn't really happen."
Scattered tittering filled the Tower as they recalled their little misadventures. All the time, their hands were entwined. "Hey—since we're comparing the Astronomy Tower with our summit, I just remembered that you didn't quite answer my last question," Harry spoke with a playful grin.
"Is the real thing better?" Harry brought his forehead and pressed it against Draco's own.
"I don't know. Maybe you need to convince me more," Draco replied, raising his eyebrows in invitation. Their lips met again in a less chaste and more certain manner. Draco could remember kissing like this, but he didn't feel this kind of passion and devouring need last time. Harry's lips were soft and warm, and his hand on Draco's jaw felt like velvet. Harry's other hand sandwiched between both of Draco's on the latter's lap fit so perfectly in Draco's hold as if it had never belonged anywhere else.
Draco tore his lips away from Harry's and asked, suddenly, "there's just something I've been wondering about ever since I found out about it."
"What's that?" Harry asked, bringing their clasped hands from Draco's lap to his and adding his other hand in the tangle of fingers.
"Why have you been having dreams about me? I mean, I know why I've been having dreams about you, but you didn't buy the Dreamcatcher for those Draco-infested dreams, did you? I remember you telling me you bought one because of your Dark Lord-filled nightmares. So when did dreams about me enter the picture, really?" Draco bent his head to the side like a curious cat and scooted even closer to Harry.
"You know what—I really don't know! I just suddenly had them. Thrice in a row! It freaked me out big time. But Hermione did say something about dreams and nightmares before. She said that dreams are manifestations of our worst fears or our greatest desires—fears or desires that we may not always be aware of that we have. The Dreamcatcher was a device to filter our fears out of our subconscious so we won't have terrible nightmares," Harry patiently explained and Draco patiently listened. "When the Dreamcatcher malfunctioned—mind you, I don't know exactly when that happened—it somehow stopped filtering things from my deeper subconscious to keep it from manifesting themselves in my dreams. Maybe that's when I started dreaming about you. You've always been there; it's just that—I never consciously thought it."
"And the fact that we have similar dreams? That stumps me until now," Draco wondered.
"Maybe my Dreamcatcher just became more attuned to the dreams your Banisher threw around and since I had a similar thought in my unconscious, the Dreamcatcher just caught your own banished dreams and melded it with my own muddled unconscious thoughts and assumed your dreams' form.
I'm just making wild guesses, though, because when it comes right down to it—I really don't care anymore why or when I started dreaming about you. I'm just glad I did. Otherwise, we never would have been thrown into the same dream and well—this never happened," Harry said, stealing a quick peck on the side of Draco's neck.
"Hmmm," Draco murmured in agreement as they shared a searing kiss again. They couldn't get enough of it. The kiss slowly evolved to a more possessive, more feverish pace. They had the Astronomy Tower to themselves. Of course, they were thinking it…
Harry, quick as lightning, straddled Draco and attacked the latter's neck with teasing kisses. "Was it any good?"
"Was what any good?" Draco asked. He let Harry take his sweatshirt off over his blonde head.
"You know," Harry murmured, combing his fingers through Draco's hair, which was thankfully not sporting its usual gelled 'do. The Gryffindor started trailing kisses on the side of Draco's face, on his jaw, on the nape of his neck.
Draco felt the beginnings of a blush creeping up his neck. Was it any good, he asks. I came didn't I? Quite loudly, too! "I don't think that counts. We didn't even leave our beds that night. Nothing physical happened," Draco baited. "We have never done this before, strictly speaking."
Harry snuck his hands under Draco's pajama top and tickled the blonde's sides. "I was under the impression that since both of us could remember what we did then something happened," he said, nuzzling Draco hair. "Oh well, it's probably for the better. You do have a lot to make up for after all."
Draco was nipping at Harry's earlobe, when he stopped and retorted, "what? What for? What did I do?"
"You only made me believe that you couldn't remember anything that happened. You should know, I was devastated, Draco. I haven't slept for more than one hour for the past week! Don't think I've already forgiven you for that," Harry said, sneering at the pout blooming on Draco's lips.
The Slytherin wrapped his arms around Harry and, with his quick reflexes, rolled over to the left, so that instead of Harry straddling him, their positions were reversed. Draco was on top of Harry and sprawled between the Gryffindor's legs. "I thought I already explained that I only did that because I thought I was doing both of us a favor," Draco defended.
"Maybe what you need to do is to start making up for your blunder right now," Harry dared. He craned his neck and met Draco's lips in another kiss. It looked as if Harry was hell bent on proving to Draco that the real thing was indeed without compare.
While they were busy kissing, Draco took to frantically unbuttoning Harry's pajama top and Harry languidly grazed Draco's back from the waistline upwards, bringing the hem of Draco's pajama top close to the shoulders so it could easily be slipped off through the head. Draco licked from the dip in Harry's collar to his throat before whispering. "If we get caught, it's going to be interesting enough to see you explain your way out of it."
Harry yanked Draco's hair and brought his lips close to the shell of Draco's ear. "I'm just going to tell them to fuck off while I show this hot blonde I'm with, that nothing beats the real thing," he murmured in reply.
"Git." Draco tugged Harry's top off and threw it aside.
"Wanker." Harry got Draco's pajama top off through the head.
"Tosser." Draco pushed Harry flat against the viewing deck floor.
"Prick." Harry pulled Draco by the back of the latter's neck for a kiss.
"Are we going to put the Astronomy Tower to good use or what?" Draco throatily mumbled in between devouring Harry's lips and tongue. Tomorrow was going to be the greatest test of the rest of their lives. But before tomorrow, there was tonight.
A/N: As promised, the proper Author's Note begins here. First up, huge, and I mean, HUGE thanks to VesperAgain for the amazing and insightful beta work! Thanks for sticking around, putting up with my crap. Next up, profuse thanks go to the devoted reviewers of this piece: ceres51892, cardfreak, trooperx, NinjaoftheDarkness, Enigmus, trillium248, Misstress of the Flames, moriah93ohio, SwarmOfFanGirls, CountryPersonel, and all others who have left their mark in this story and in my life as a fanfiction writer. Most of the monumental things in my life happened whilst writing this story: graduating from law school, reviewing for the Bar, taking the Bar and recovering from the Bar. And I love and appreciate all of you who saw me through all of that. I am sorry for not finishing this story quickly enough. I tried your patience, I did. But thanks for putting up with me.
Special Thanks go to hpssfan and kaith for being my greatest friends and critics. Beyond this archive site and in life, you guys are the best buddies this dysfunctional sociopath can ask for! Hugs!
To all my friends from law school, high school, college and what-not who have sought out my stories here to read them, thank you. There is more where this came from. And since I have no intentions of looking for a paying job yet because I thought I'd do what I like to do first just for the fun of doing it, this is not the last you will hear of me.
I hope that all of you will keep an eye out for stories I will be writing in the future (I do hope I didn't get you running for the hills, or something…).
Thanks again, guys! Mabuhay!