Chapter 8: Stubborn as a Malfoy

Harry found the blonde sitting up in the Quidditch stands, which were miraculously undamaged considering the ferocity of the battle. He stood there for a few moments, just looking at him. He looked frail, with his knees drawn up to his chest and his chin resting on top of them, his arms seemingly holding him together. Something about Draco's eyes was haunted and again Harry felt the guilt overwhelm him. Harry knew that he had made the right decision in the end, but still he regretted all the hurt he had caused this boy. Draco noticed him then, and Harry moved closer.

'How are you feeling?' Harry asked quietly, sitting down next to him.

'Shouldn't I be the one asking you that?' Draco said and turned his face to look at him. Harry merely shrugged.

'I dunno, I feel relieved mostly. It's weird though,' he said, a hand reaching up to rub against his scar, 'I never realised how much of an influence Voldemort had on my mind and body. My scar doesn't hurt anymore and I guess I feel… lighter, or something.' Draco said nothing, just continuing to look up at him with hooded eyes. 'It's silly,' Harry sighed.

'It's not silly,' Draco said finally, looking away. 'You had a part of his soul inside you and he was completely evil. It makes sense, I guess, that it had such an impact on you.' Harry considered this and followed Draco's eyes out onto the pitch. As he watched the rays of the rising sun glistening against the morning dew that covered the grass below them, he felt a sense of peace rise in his chest.

The silence stretched on as they both wondered what to say next. Eventually it was Harry who summoned up the courage to break the silence.

'Draco,' he said, and the Slytherin boy again turned to regard him, though his face was a blank, unreadable slate. He had always been fairly easy to read before, when they were enemies. Yet now, Harry realised that the more he had come to know about the boy, the less he really knew. He could only hope that the blonde would let him in more now that the danger that had threatened their lives for so long was finally gone.

'Yes, Harry?' He responded.

'I wanted to say… I'm sorry,' Harry said, his hands fidgeting in his lap.

'What's the point?' Draco asked nonchalantly. He looked down at his bedraggled robe and swiped a leaf stubbornly clinging to the front of it. Harry just gaped, taken aback.

'What do you mean, Draco?' He said, feeling small and insignificant under Draco's now fierce glare.

'I mean, what's the point of apologising? I never understood it. It's happened, it's over, I just don't care,' he responded waspishly.

'Don't do this,' Harry pleaded. He was so tired. Why was Draco being so difficult?

'Do what, exactly?' Draco asked, giving him a look of derision. Harry shook his head. The feeling of peace now eluded him. Where had all this aggression come from? He had to make Draco understand, make him forgive Harry for leaving him.

'Stop pretending that you don't care. I know you do. I'm sorry that I hurt your feelings, that I injured your pride, and that I ran away without resolving things between us,' he said as he stood up and grabbed Draco's shoulders. The Slytherin blinked and looked down at his hands, avoiding Harry's eyes.

'I'm so, so sorry, and nothing I can do will ever make up for it, but I don't ever want to go back to what we were before,' Harry continued. He shook his head at the thought of being at odds with Draco again, fighting all the time and exchanging nasty insults. They had gone too far forwards to revert back to that.

'I could never be your enemy,' Harry said softly, finishing his speech. Draco looked up at him, and Harry felt his heart clench in his chest. His silver eyes were narrowed with anger, and he glared at the brunette.

'Harry,' Draco said, 'I don't want to be your friend.' He looked away then; gritting his teeth and trying to put his blank mask back up.

'I understand,' Harry said, smiling because he truly did understand what the blonde boy was saying, or really, what he wasn't saying. He had hurt Draco's feelings when he had rejected him, and the blonde probably still thought that Harry didn't return his feelings.

He pulled out the wad of parchment from his cloak and handed the letters over to Draco, who looked down at them, more than a little confused.

'What are these?' He asked. Harry blushed and looked away, feeling uncomfortable now that the time for his big confession.

'Just… read them,' he begged, and then he whirled around, putting a few metres of distance between them. Harry was too anxious to sit still and watch as Draco read all the letters he had written to him over the past few months. He had poured out all the emotions in his heart, the same ones that now clogged his throat and chest, making it hard to breathe or talk. Everything hinged on Draco finally reading the letters.

He could hear paper rustling, presumably Draco reading letter after letter, and then a flurry of noise which made him whip around to see what had happened.

Stunned, Harry's heart dropped to his feet as the letters he had spent hours on slowly drifted to the ground around Draco. He had thrown them into the air and the look of fury on the other boys face as he crumpled the letter held in his hands made him swallow anxiously. Harry felt the need to explain the letters overwhelm him.

'I wrote to you every day. I felt horrible that I ran off, that I said those things to you. I was always thinking of you-.'

'- I'm not your plaything, Potter,' Draco cut in angrily. Harry blinked, feeling lost. Why were they back to Potter and Malfoy? He didn't understand Draco's sudden anger. Harry had apologised. Everything was supposed to be fine now, right?

'You arrogant bastard,' Draco hissed. 'You can't put me up on a shelf when it's convenient to you, so that you can run off and have your little adventure with your little friends, and then expect to come back and reclaim me like everything is ok. You're so bloody used to getting your way, Harry freaking Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, the Chosen One, the bloody war hero. I'm not your prize, I'm a person. As you so eloquently put it, yes, I do act like I don't care, but I bloody do care and I have feelings.'

Draco's cheeks were flushed and his eyes were glassy as he gasped for breath. Harry's eyes were drawn to his hands, which were at his sides, clenching and unclenching in anger and frustration. The impact of how horribly selfish he had been made his cheeks turn bright red as he flushed in embarrassment. Had he ever really stopped to consider Draco's feelings about all of this?

He stopped and actually thought about it. No, he hadn't. Not really. He'd just wanted to keep him safe.

As Draco made to leave, Harry put up a hand, halting him in his tracks.

'Wait,' Harry said quietly. 'Let me explain, properly this time.' Draco huffed in annoyance but stayed nonetheless.

'The people I… love,' he began, staring out at the pitch with a pained look, 'they tend to die, and… I was just so sick of people getting hurt… because of me.' He looked at Draco then, sincerity shining from his emerald eyes. 'I just wanted to protect you. I know I go sort of overboard, but it's because if anything happened to you… I just don't know what I'd do.'

He walked forward then, catching the other boys arm in his hand. Draco's eyes widened, but still Harry couldn't read his emotions, couldn't tell what he was feeling. Despite this, he decided to lay his heart at Draco's feet.

'What I'm saying is… I love you.'

Draco pulled his arm from Harry's grip violently and then, with a final glare, turned and left. Harry watched his back helplessly as the boy he loved walked away, out of his life.

At the top of the stairs he paused and inclined his head in Harry's direction.

'It's not enough.'

And then he was gone. Harry fell back onto the nearest seat, and put his head in his hands. What had gone so very wrong? Why did Draco walk away when Harry had finally been ready to be with him?

*** Five Years Later ***

Even after all these years, Harry still wasn't used to the constant publicity. Everyone wanted to know everything about him, where he was, what he was doing, hell, even who he was doing. Despite his best intentions, it had been impossible to hide his sexual orientation from the press when he lived so constantly in the public eye.

It had been years now since he had 'come out,' and he still got questions and requests for interviews about it. The Daily Prophet had even created a weekly column devoted to his sex life, filled with rumours of the men he was supposedly seeing. Still, he couldn't complain too much. It did get him a lot of dates. If those dates were often blonde with light blue or grey eyes, well, it was better not to dwell on the reasons why.

As he shut the door behind yet another devastatingly handsome suitor, Harry sighed and rubbed at his eyes. He was growing tired of these meaningless one-night stands, but what else could he do? The thought of possibly drawing them out into relationships made him feel queasy, because it just wouldn't feel right. They weren't right. He hadn't seen Draco in many years, but he was still the only one he could ever even think of truly being with.

Frustrated, he ran a hand through his messy raven locks, making them even more untidy. It was pointless thinking of the other man. No one had heard anything about him in a very long time.

Harry took a quick shower and got dressed before hurrying out of his large house to disapparate. If he was late meeting Hermione for lunch in Diagon Alley just one more time then she'd probably do something drastic. Especially when she would only have to glance at the Potter romance column to know why he was late.

Hands shoved in his pockets, Harry walked through the hidden entry into Diagon Alley, not paying much attention to his surroundings. Naturally, this meant he ran into someone almost immediately. Muttering an apology he continued on, only to be stopped by a hand grabbing his arm in a vice-like grip. Annoyed, he glared up at the stranger, only for him to freeze in shock.

Time seemed to stop as they merely looked at each other. A moment passed, yet it felt like an eternity. Perfect silver stands arranged just so, those long eyelashes that dusted high cheekbones and then there were those eyes, those beautiful grey eyes that never failed to take his breath away.

'Draco?' Harry asked, his eyes greedily drinking in the sight of the other man. He looked much the same, though he had grown his hair a little longer and... Had his eyes always looked so dull and void of life?

His heart ached in his chest and he desperately wanted to bombard Draco with countless questions. Where had he been? What had he been doing? And had he missed Harry as much as he had missed his blonde?

'Harry, you look well,' Draco said in a cool, clipped tone, though his hand shaking where he held Harry's arm gave away his discomposure.

'I missed you,' Harry blurted out, looking directly into Draco's lifeless grey eyes.

'Did you?' The other man queried, raising a single eyebrow in surprise. Harry nodded, and every fibre of his body ached to pull him close, especially when the blonde's lips curved into a faint smirk.

'Can we go somewhere to catch up?' Harry asked anxiously and, surprisingly Draco nodded his agreement. Harry smiled in relief and pulled a piece of paper and pen from his jacket and scrawled a quick message on it. Then, with his wand, he shaped it into a paper airplane and waved it off.

'Am I interrupting something?' Draco asked, and Harry shook his head.

'Nah, Hermione will understand,' Harry said, and then they disapparated back to Harry's home in Godric's Hollow.

They stood in the street, looking up at the house side by side.

'Is this…?' Draco asked, looking at Harry out the corner of his eye.

'Yeah, this was my Mum and Dad's house. I had it rebuilt,' he said quietly. With a quick smile at the other man, he opened the gate and led the way into the house. A few whispered spells got the kettle boiling as they sat opposite each other at the kitchen table.

'It's good to see you,' Harry said quietly. It felt like a dream, to have Draco here in his home, sitting at his table like he belonged. Draco did not seem to feel that same comfort, he looked nervous and his eyes darted around the room, taking everything in as he decidedly did not look at Harry.

'What have you been doing with yourself?' Draco asked, ignoring the comment. Harry allowed this, instead describing how he had been playing Seeker for Puddlemere United and also teaching Quidditch at Hogwarts.

'You should come watch a game sometime,' the black-haired man offered as he poured them tea. Draco smiled tightly and nodded as he added sugar to his cup and stirred before taking a sip.

'I'd like that,' he agreed. A silence fell between them then and stretched on until Harry needed to fill it.

'Where have you been all this time?' He blurted out, blushing slightly. Draco set his cup down on the table and sighed as if he had been expecting the question.

'After the war,' he began, 'they were going to put my mother under trial, and it was likely that they would find her guilty, send her to Azkaban. They needed a scapegoat and who better than the wife of a notorious Death Eater?' He laughed bitterly.

'They told me that the only way to save her was to hand in my father, so I helped to track him down, and put him in Azkaban myself,' he said, looking troubled.

'That must have been hard for you,' Harry said. Draco shrugged.

'What choice was there? My mother would never have survived Azkaban. I would have done anything to keep her out of that place.'

'I understand,' Harry said quietly.

'When the other Death Eaters found out that I'd betrayed my father again, they started targeting me. It made sense to keep helping the Aurors. It took a long time, but nearly all of them are behind bars now,' Draco finished, his voice grim with satisfaction.

'I feel a little foolish now, wasting all my time playing games,' Harry said. Draco said nothing but he didn't need to, the shame overwhelmed him anyway. 'What do you plan on doing now?' Harry asked. Draco shrugged.

'It's safe for me to go back to the Manor now, so I shall start restoring the place I expect, and get all of my father's affairs in order. It all belongs to me now anyway, seeing as how he has a life sentence,' Draco mused. Harry's heart began to race at the thought of being able to see the blonde whenever he wanted.

'Well, it's been nice seeing you again,' Draco said, rising to his feet, 'but I must get back. Mother and Astoria are expecting me.' Harry rose as well, frowning.

'Astoria? Who's that?' He questioned, feeling his heart plummet to his feet.

'Oh yes, I forgot you wouldn't have known. Astoria is my fiancée, Astoria Greengrass,' Draco informed him. All of the blood rushed from Harry's face and he slowly rose to his feet, feeling dizzy, like everything around was unreal and intangible. Draco? Getting married? To a girl?

'Wow… really?' Harry asked, dismayed. 'Well, congratulations, I guess.'

'You guess? Don't sound too enthusiastic,' Draco said sarcastically, his voice vicious and cutting Harry to the bone. His own anger rose in response.

'Well how am I supposed to feel?' Harry asked angrily. 'The last time I saw you I told you I loved you and you walked away from me.'

'I had to,' Draco said dismissively.

'Why?' Harry yelled. "Explain it to me, please, because I still don't understand.'

'Everything is just so easy for you, isn't it? You've never had to work for anything in your life,' Draco said nastily.

'You know better than that, Draco,' Harry said disapprovingly.

'What's it like up there on your high horse, Saint Potter?' Draco taunted.

'I just want to know why,' Harry said, looking distraught. Why wouldn't Draco just tell him what had gone wrong? Couldn't he see that they belonged together?

'I won't be second best to anything or anyone, Potter. I deserved better then and I deserve better now. I moved on. You should do the same,' Draco said. For the second time, the blonde turned and walked away. It didn't hurt any less than the last time, nor did it make him feel any less wretched.

It was all over the newspapers, 'Draco Malfoy returns with new fiancée in tow.' They were going to be married fairly quickly, in just a few weeks. Harry had gripped the Daily Prophet in his hands as he felt his world crash down around him.

When had it all gone so wrong? He had loved Draco, and still did. Hardly a single day had gone by when he hadn't wondered what the Slytherin had been up to, and not a single night went by without reliving their kiss. How he regretted it now that it would be the only one they would ever share.

Hermione was the first to notice his depression. He'd spent the entire week hiding away in his house, wallowing in self-pity. He'd always been rubbish at hiding things from her so when she had come by to check on him, she had immediately pushed her way in and started mothering him.

The first thing she did was to put on the kettle and then start clearing away his kitchen table. Of course, this inevitably lead to her noticing the same article that he had been despondently staring at since it had come out, only two days after Draco had stormed out of his life, again.

'Oh Harry,' she said softly, 'do you still love him?'

'Of course I do, Hermione. He's all I want,' Harry said mournfully. She poured him a cup of tea and he stared down at it, trying to hold back his tears.

'You need to let him go. He's obviously moved on now,' she said kindly. Harry shook his head.

'No, I saw him. He still has feelings for me, I know he does! He won't tell me what I did wrong, what I've done wrong again this time.' Harry buried his face in his hands. 'I don't understand.'

'Harry, all he ever wanted to feel was the he came first in your life. You can understand that, surely? It was the same reason that Ginny drifted away from you. When you love someone, you're supposed to be there for them, put them first, and make them happy. I don't think you've ever done something for like that for him.' Harry looked at her, frowning as his mind raced.

'I guess you're right, but what should I do. He can't marry her!' Harry said desperately. Hermione looked at him sadly.

'Harry, you've got to accept that it's probably too late, no matter what you do,' she said.

'I have to try,' he vowed, and his face was full of the grim determination that she remembered from Hogwarts.

A few days later he had a plan outlined, hopefully fool-proof. Originally he had planned to storm up to Astoria and demand she leave Draco. However, even he had conceded that it was an idiotic plan; she'd laugh in his face and Draco would be furious. Next he had thought he'd do an interview with the Daily Prophet or the Quibbler to declare his love, but again, he didn't think that would impress Draco or convince him that Harry truly loved him.

No, this plan was the best. He approached Draco's house slowly, disillusioned so that he could gauge the situation and see if Astoria was there. He couldn't sense her presence in the house, so he started forward only to pause again almost immediately.

There, hidden behind a tree, another disillusioned person was surveying Draco's house. Harry's instincts kicked in and he eased backwards, being sure not to make any noise. He slipped his wand out of his pocket and trained it on the unidentified person, his mind churning as he tried to decide what to do. Should he just sneak up behind him and stun him?

He decided that this was the best thing to do, and so apparated right behind the man, yelling out 'Stupefy!' It hit the person in between their shoulder blades and they toppled to the ground. Immediately a siren went off, and Harry whirled around, freaking out. He stood on the grass of Draco's front lawn, the stunned intruder at his feet, his head whipping around to find the source of the noise.

The front door opened, with only a pale hand with a wand gripped in its fingers poking out. He recognised the hand, strangely enough, though who else would be cautiously inching out of Draco's front door.

'Draco,' Harry called out. 'It's just me. Oh, and this bloke, but I dealt with him.' He nudged the person with his boot as Draco's head poked out of the front door as well.

'Potter? Is that you?' Draco called out, his eyes scanning the front yard for danger. Harry then remembered that he was still disillusioned, and so took off the spell.

'Here,' he called out, and Draco stared at him, confused.

'Harry, why did you just use offensive magic in my yard?' He asked, his eyes narrowing in distrust. Harry swiped a hand through his ebony locks, looking sheepish.

'You've got an intruder. I was just coming to talk to you and I noticed this guy lurking in your yard,' Harry explained, taking the disillusionment spell off the man at his feet. Draco stared at the unconscious man incredulously, and, ignoring his previous caution he strode forward towards Harry.

'That's my uncle, Rodolphus Lestrange. I thought he'd died years ago,' Draco said, his fists clenched into fists as he looked down at the Death Eater. 'I thought we'd got them all,' he whispered. Harry looked at him sympathetically. Rodolphus had been Bellatrix Lestrange's husband, and by association, was probably a complete creep.

'Lucky I happened along, really. That could have gotten ugly,' Harry said, feeling suddenly intensely relieved that he had decided to come here today. Who knew what might've happened?

'Thanks,' Draco nodded.

'What should we do with him?' Harry asked. They both looked down at Lestrange, hatred evident in both their eyes.

'You go and notify the Auror Office,' Draco said grimly. 'I'll stay here, restrain him properly.' Harry looked at Draco carefully.

'Are you sure?' He asked, raising one eyebrow. It wasn't that he didn't trust Draco's ability; it was just the strange way that blonde was looking at him that made Harry feel wary. Why did this suddenly feel so wrong? All of his instincts were screaming at him to stay.

Draco nodded, 'I can handle him. Go.' Despite his foreboding, Harry complied, and with one last, long look at Draco, he disapparated.

When he returned, Kingsley Shacklebolt and his top Aurors in tow, Draco's front yard was empty. His green eyes narrowed behind his glasses as he took in the sight of the front door open and swinging in the wind. He knew he should never have left Draco alone with his uncle.

Despite his previous experience in defeating Voldemort, Harry drew back and allowed the Aurors to do their job. His hero days were long gone now. However, he waited impatiently as Kingsley and his men searched Draco's large house. He sought out the Head Auror's eyes as he left the house. The tall man shook his head solemnly and walked over to Harry.

'There's no sign of Malfoy or Lestrange anywhere and no sign of any kind of scuffle,' he informed Harry.

'They were both here when I left,' Harry told him. 'That couldn't have been more than fifteen minutes ago.' He ground his teeth, frustrated. Where could they have gone?

'How did Mr Malfoy seem when you left him?' Shacklebolt asked in a low voice.

'Fine, he seemed calm,' Harry shrugged. 'I had a bad feeling though, my instincts were telling me to stay, but Draco wanted me to go and get you.'

'So tell me everything that happened, everything that you can remember.'

Harry ran through what had happened; him arriving and noticing the strange man sneaking towards the house, the spell he had put him under, Draco's surprise at seeing both of them and then his grim countenance as he told Harry to get help.

Kingsley listened and then looked back towards the house, shaking his head. 'What were you thinking, Malfoy?'

If Harry hadn't been here earlier then he wouldn't have even known that anything had happened. Even that feeling of foreboding from earlier had completely vanished. With Rodolphus stunned at his feet, what had caused that strange feeling? Suddenly it struck him.

'I don't think Lestrange was alone,' Harry burst out. Kingsley turned his attention back to Harry immediately.

'What makes you think that?' He asked urgently.

'I had Lestrange bound right in front of me but my instincts were still warning me about danger. The only thing I can think of is that there was another person there as well,' Harry explained, sure that he was right.

'That makes sense,' Shacklebolt nodded. He called his Aurors over and explained the new situation to them.

'What now?' Harry asked.

'We have a few suspects, people who may have been working with the Death Eaters but were never proved to have any involvement,' Kingsley told him. 'Go home Harry, we'll let you know as soon as we find something.'

Harry bit his lip and looked back to Draco's house. He could only hope that the man was alright. After so long with hearing nothing from the blonde, there was no way he would allow him to disappear from his life again.

A/N: As usual I apologise for how bloody long I waited before posting. Hope you enjoyed this long awaited chapter! Let me know your thoughts! See if you can guess who Rodolphus was working with ;)