A/N: I don't know why you were all clamouring at me for making it sad! No-one initially requested the fluffy ending!!! So it's all your fault the sad one came first!!! ^^ Set in the same universe as Lost moment, shattered dreams ( http://mizzy.topcities.com/lmsd.htm )
Anyway, I have set up an archive for my fics, where the new fics from now on will go first (before ffn.) http://mizzy.topcities.com
But, for the exclusive fic news… To ask nosy questions about the fics and have them answered, for requests, name-drops, shout-outs, cookies or the latest fic then drop on down to my new Yahoo! discussion group / mailing list. I'd be grateful if you could join ^^
Dedicated: To Anna. Who has been subjecting the h/d strand at forums4fans.com to some of my more… dodgy stuff and who refuses to be an Arthur/Lucius shipper like me. Grrrr. :)
Disclaimer: Harry Potter doesn't belong to me.
It was so, so quiet.
The silence was deafening. Despite how many times he willed it; prayed to whatever deities were listening; wept and cried and swore until he was out of breath it was still so, so hushed. He'd always thought that death was a pretty quiet business and accordingly had always, in his most vulnerable moments, surrounded himself with boisterous people and raucous sound. It was a small flaw, but a flaw none-the-less.
The quiet scared him.
It wasn't completely silent. His breath hung raggedly in the air; his heart pounded against his rib cage like a trapped animal just trying to break free. Every tiny little sound brought a quiet squeak of hope as he gingerly moved forwards to check if he was awake…
A dripping sound crashed through the silence; shattering the still air. Malfoy looked up quickly; eyes haggard from the continued surveillance and he sighed; disappointed. The dripping sound increased in density and volume until it was a continual hammering sound and the sky turned black.
It was raining. Fitting for the sombre mood of the painfully white infirmary. The whole room stunk of complete sterility – as if nothing existed inside it. Scowling he checked the clock on the wall; noticing the sharp red hands were pointing upwards…. Midnight… He'd been there… how long? Since McGonagall had returned his scrap of parchment and said he could watch. The Transfiguration professor knew that if anything happened, Malfoy would be able to alert Madame Pomfrey who was in the next room. The way she'd looked at him had completely caught his attention and struck a nerve in his senses. The way she'd looked at him… Like Harry was already dead.
No. He wasn't… Somewhere deep in his being, something told him that the frail crumpled body lying stilly in the bed in front of him was alive…He refused to believe Harry would die. That refusal was the only thing keeping him alive. Ron, Hermione, Ginny, McGonagall… They all acted like Harry was dead…
A traitorous thought ran rampant in Malfoy's mind – what if Harry died? What would he do? The answer came swiftly; thudding into his chest and leaving him breathless. If the pale creature of his dreams lying so forlornly in front of him must die, then so would he. There were no complications about it. Malfoy could not – would not – should not – live without him.
Malfoy almost laughed then. It was a complete turnaround from his previous feelings of rivalry and the desire only to better his opponent. Now, the same man that had captured his emotions - his soul – was the one deciding (albeit unintentionally) whether he should live or die.
Contrary to his strong decision, Malfoy didn't want to die. He wanted to live; wanted to experience all of the joys in the world. The only problem was he knew he couldn't experience them properly without Harry. Nothing seemed right without him Everything seemed so hollow - like the world was shattered into a million pieces and all he could do was kneel in the debris for eternity.
The rain continued to beat ruthlessly against the window; shaking the thin panels of glass with a furious passion. It seemed to reflect Malfoy's own mood. How could he do something like this? He knew all of the reasons that ploughed through Harry's mind non-stop…. That plagued him from morning to night until all he could do was cry or scream or laugh with the futility of it all. He'd watched him for nine weeks, each day dying a little more… He'd wanted to say to Harry how much… he meant to him. He wanted to tell Harry that he didn't have to face his demons alone. He wanted to, but something stopped him.
He'd never even had the correct aspects or traits to be a Gryffindor. Malfoy had been a coward from birth; holding onto his reputation as a lifeline. When he'd realised the foundations of that reputation were warped.. That his father was ready to betray his own kind for evil… That was when his world had shattered. Somewhere in the whole scheme of things, though, his karma must have been worth something… Someone sent an angel into his life for a brief nine weeks… And now, now some demon called regret was trying to take his life-force away.
He'd be damned if he was going to let that happen.
Without even realising what he was doing, he dropped off the seat. Kneeling before the deathly pale figure lying in the bed he reached out his hand and winced at the coolness of the ashen skin. Dark hair tumbled across the pallid forehead; a stark contrast. Moonlight bathed Harry's face; the still mask a mixture of black and white shadows and highlights. Brushing the black shock of hair away from the forehead Malfoy stared down at the sleeping young man as he had unconsciously done a lot during the holiday. This was a lot different to watching Harry sleep normally, because he wasn't moving… He wasn't breathing as loud…
Hitching the chair closer with his ankle, Malfoy gingerly lowered himself onto it again and took hold of Harry's hand. Swallowing, he turned the limp hand over and traced his fingers gently over the silver lines criss-crossing the thin wrist. Here magic had been some good, knitting together the skin, the shimmering silver lines the only sign of the brutal event. The cuts were obviously done by a desperate man… One searching some kind of release… They weren't correct either. Someone seriously wanting death and not just some kind of release would have done them vertically, not horizontally… Malfoy closed his eyes; his soft breath ruffling Harry's hair again. Harry must not have intended on killing himself, surely… No-one could be that desperate, could they?
Malfoy's mind decided to remind him rather sharply that Harry's way of release from everything was the very option he'd decided to mimic depending on the outcome and knew then, painfully, that sometimes you can be desperate enough to do it.
He sat there just holding Harry's limp hand for… what was it? His vision was slightly blurry from being constantly on the verge of tears - made more so by the extreme fatigue… What was it? Seven hours? Eight? An eternity? Any of these options seemed completely viable. The rain was still falling; but it was gentler now. More peaceful. None of the same hard hitting water shards from earlier.
That had something that had been a part of Malfoy since he was very small. Harry had picked up on it in the short few weeks of the summer holidays. Anytime he was passionate about something, whenever all of the emotional turmoil got too much then he'd stop using any kind of emotion. He'd shut off his heart and get clinical, technical about everything. Harry had disapproved; saying it was usually your head that got you into a lot of trouble in the first place – following your heart seems harder at the beginning but it's easier at the end.
Malfoy tightened his nervous clutch on the lifeless hand and absent-mindedly reached out to push Harry's hair back again; deciding in that moment to listen to his heart. But what was his heart telling him? At the moment it was still thudding painfully into his chest. He felt dizzy, sick, winded… Vulnerable… Yet it was still so quiet. Harry's presence made it unnecessary for Malfoy to surround himself with sound. Harry was the one who made his head spin; made him feel safe. Made him feel as if finally he meant something in the whole damn world. His heart was clamouring for attention; it had something to say but he wasn't listening to it. He never listened to it. He should listen to it. Swallowing, Malfoy used his spare hand to fish out the tattered scrap of parchment that McGonagall had returned to him.
I love you, goodbye.
Harry… loved him. And yet he still tried to… To kill himself. Something struck at Malfoy's heart and he frowned in contemplation. Cedric's death bore heavily on Harry's soul as did the return of Voldemort and the recurring nightmares of the murder of his parents at Godric's Hollow. Maybe this was all his fault. Perhaps the idea of rejection from Malfoy had been the icing on the cake… The tip of the iceberg… The straw that broke the camel's back… Unconsciously squeezing Harry's hand harder he scowled at himself. All those stupid muggle clichés… Even those weren't stupid or virulent enough to hide the truth.
He loved Harry. Everything inside of him knew this… Every fibre of his being, every nuance of his soul. Yet he denied it. Denied it because of some throw away comments by someone who thought themselves worthy to be known as his father. Through all of this denial, though, the truth was he loved Harry and his refusal to admit this to himself earlier had probably contributed to the circumstances that led to this entire situation.
Admitting he was in love was a hard and bitter thing, but once it was all over Malfoy felt… better. Light-headed. Dizzy. Full of the joys of spring. A spring tainted with the unforgettable frost of winter, but a spring none-the-less. Now all that it needed was the warmth of the sun to melt his vituperative and slanderous nature and all would be perfect… Perfect, except the sun wouldn't wake up from the nightmare.
Unconscious of what he was doing, Malfoy slid forwards; brushing his lips gently over Harry's forehead before pulling back and abruptly walking away. Folding his arms he just stared at Harry and finally… The tears began to fall. They clouded his vision; choked up his throat; burned at his eyes from the inside out and all he could do was stand there shaking like a leaf, with the only thought running through his mind: why?
His knees buckling, he barely registered the fact that someone else was there and that they'd just grabbed hold of him. Throwing all caution to the wind; Malfoy just grabbed onto the person and cried; his whole body shaking from the force of the racking tears.
The tears stopped soon enough. Pulling abruptly away from the fatherly arms he shuddered and looked up to see a warm brown-eyed man looking at him softly; the little hair still on his head a shocking shade of red. A Weasley… Malfoy blinked up in confusion. This was a Weasley. Arthur Weasley.
Suddenly embarassed at his actions, Arthur pulled back, looking uneasy.
"I promised your father once that if he ever had any kids that I was to treat them as my own," Arthur said softly; his tone wavering and gentle as the redhead tried not to look at the still man lying in the bed or the defeated silvery-blonde haired young man looking at him; perplexed. "It was part of an agreement we had long ago… You never knew we were close, your father and I?"
Malfoy shook his head. What in the world?
"Yes," Arthur said softly; his gaze finally resting on Harry. "I can't say I've ever been in this precise situation, but I know what you're feeling."
"How?" Malfoy's voice was guttural; his pain imprinted into his vicious tone. "How can you know what I'm going through?"
Arthur looked saddened. He folded his hands nervously. "I've sat there and watched the person I loved slipping away from you and all you can do is sit there futilely letting it slip away! I know how useless you feel, how inappropriate, how all you can think is that no-one else is worried at all, or that anyone apart from you cares what happens to them. I know the pain, how you blame yourself even though you know it's crazy. I know."
Malfoy stared at Arthur; his gaze uncomprehending. "It is my fault," he muttered distractedly. "If I'd just…"
"What if, what if, what if," Arthur said dismissively. "It doesn't help. Harry will be fine, Draco, you know it, I know it. Whether he remains fine afterwards is entirely up to you." He gently wrenched his gaze from Harry and settled it on Malfoy. The Slytherin reeled back from the warmth in the brown depths; it was more than he had ever deserved. The sudden realisation struck Malfoy like a lightning bolt; leaving him shaken and trembling.
"You were the one my father loved before he married mum…" Malfoy stared at Arthur; amazement flooding his drained features. He turned away; eyes skimming over Harry's prone body. "No wonder he's always taught us to hate the Weasleys."
"Not one of his most spectacular plans I must say," Arthur said wryly before his tone became serious. "Look, Draco. I let someone incredibly special to me slip out of my life because I let my pride and insecurities get in the way. Please don't do that. Don't lose Harry, because I can tell you… You'll never stop regretting it. And you'll never stop loving him."
Malfoy was too shaken to say a word.
"Make sure you tell him before it's too late," Arthur said; getting to his feet. Malfoy looked at him impassively before suddenly, impetuously, launching himself around the redhead's neck; just letting himself cry again as the older man soothed him. "There, there, it's all going to be fine," Arthur soothed gently. He pulled away apologetically. "I'll leave you on your own again now, but if you need me, I'll be with Professor Dumbledore. Talk to him. I know it might not look like he can hear you, but he will."
Malfoy disentangled himself and nodded curtly. "I…" Arthur looked at him strangely from the doorway. "Thank you."
Arthur just smiled once and disappeared; softly closing the door behind him.
Nervously, Malfoy padded across the floor; gingerly lowering himself onto the bed next to Harry. Taking up his hand again he sighed softly; starting to talk. His words were rushed and tone low. "I… I feel stupid frankly, but he's right… I have to tell you… I…" he swallowed; the words catching in his throat. "Please don't leave us, Harry, you can't leave us you can't…" He almost choked on the words but he squeezed the hand desperately. "You can't leave me," he said softly. "I love you Harry. From the day we met, even with all the arguing and the fights, I love you. Even though you tried to take away the one thing special in my life – you! – I love you even for that!" His voice increased. A faint worry niggled at the back of his mind that perhaps people were listening at the door but he didn't care. There was no response from the still softly breathing Harry. Malfoy stared at him, perplexed… Everything, everything, everything was so damn unfair! "I need you," he added quietly. No effect. Finally, Malfoy gave up and just, simply, lay down next to Harry and fell asleep; still clutching onto Harry's arm.
Something about darkness. There was something about darkness in his dream, pain… Pain from finally knowing before it was too late that it was all a mistake and then the stupor in which he'd realised it was all too late… There was no release at all.
Burning… He still burned; a steady dull throb in his temple. Fire burned his eyelids and he immediately moved to snap them open. His gaze was fuzzy; the place was light… White… The infirmary…
Harry realised with a shock that it hadn't worked. He hadn't got the release he'd sorely craved or the self actualisation and his limbs felt heavy. The side of his nose tickled and he couldn't move. Struggling slightly he realised he didn't have much energy left and sighed; twisting to the right and immediately saw the reason why he couldn't move.
There was an angel. On his arm. Harry's ragged breath caught in his throat as the words hit him… He thought he'd dreamed them…
Even though you tried to take away the one thing special in my life – you! – I love you even for that. I need you.
It wasn't a dream. That hazy thought sparked something deep within and his mouth involuntarily dropped open. The emotion that suddenly flooded through him baffled him; confounded him as he had before. His gaze drifted over the distorted figure lying on his arm; noticing with dismay the haggard look of the other. Tugging, he tried to move his hand but the brief movement startled the blonde into movement. One silver-grey eye snapped open and one moment later there was a thud as Malfoy literally fell off the bed in shock. Moments later a dishevelled head appeared staring at Harry in bewilderment.
"I… I… Harry!"
Harry attempted to smile weakly and winced. "Draco," he whispered softly; his throat dry and swollen. "Would you ever… forgive me?"
Malfoy's sudden gasp and instantaneous reaction of throwing his long, pale arms around Harry's neck in a fervent hug shocked Harry and Malfoy felt his eyes burning again. "There's nothing to forgive, Harry," he said; his voice gruff. "As long as you're all right and you won't do it again…" He pulled back tentatively; waiting for Harry's reaction. Harry tried to push himself up and managed to get into a semi sitting position; his back propping him up as he rested awkwardly on the headboard.
"Never," Harry said; his tone frank and direct. "I couldn't… I know I couldn't leave you again."
The sudden change in Malfoy's expression was incredible. His mouth dropped open and his eyes shone. He seemed like he was trying to say something, but it appeared he was almost having trouble saying it. Then the pointy faced boy's jaw set in determination. "I love you Harry," he said softly; almost defiantly. "And if you ever try to do anything like that again I will kick your butt all the way from here to you-know-who's secret hideout and back again."
Harry was about to protest weakly that he wouldn't when two firm lips decisively claimed his. Malfoy's lips were insistent and Harry felt himself softly responding as the other pried open his lips with his own. Harry felt dizzy and he was sure it wasn't from the loss of blood – more from the dizzying sensations of the long-waited for and longed-for kiss. Surrendering softly to the overwhelming emotions he clung uncertainly onto Malfoy as the Slytherin claimed him for his own. Malfoy pulled away eventually looking flushed; leaving Harry feeling almost bereft but incredibly tired.
"I love you too," Harry admitted. Malfoy threw him a charming smirk.
"I know, everyone loves me." The blonde sighed theatrically. "The problem of being a hot, to-die-for Slytherin, eh?"
Harry stifled a small groan and closed his eyes; wincing at the wave of fatigue that washed over him. "You're just as obnoxious as always, Malfoy," he said; his tone free of the normal spite that lanced his voice whenever he'd talked to Malfoy in the previous four years of school.
"And you're just as dumb," Malfoy said airily; turning to leave.
"Where are you going?" Harry asked quickly; alarmed.
"To go get Madame Pomfrey, jeez the lack of blood to your brain really does make a difference." Malfoy crossed the floor again; catching Harry's lips in a gentle but dizzying kiss. "Look, Harry, if it's the last thing I ever do, you will never leave my side again. Deal?"
Eyes shining with pure emotion Harry nodded. The whole room was awash with bright sunshine; melting all the animosity and all signs of winter and Harry's smile was the final ray that made Malfoy feel alive again. Harry smiled impishly. "Deal," he agreed.
As he watched Malfoy literally bounce out of the room he allowed himself a small smile of relief. He had been stupid to think that killing himself could have been an option out of it, but now he knew it was a stupid error, he knew that until his last breath, he would love Draco.
There was no doubt about it.
Loving Draco Malfoy was his first act, final act, and all the acts between until the curtains finally came tumbling down. Period.