All those years

One day changes everything

And gone your life

And the passion fades away

Saving for something that you'll never see in your days

Shutting out everything you need

Beautiful disaster, so much for ever after

-Daughtry


The moment Ginny rounded the corner out of the cell, Draco rushed to him, wand ready and healing spells already spilling over his lips. Harry felt strong arms grip him and hold him up as the chains that bound him disappeared. A soothing blue light filled the room, and Harry felt the pain in his limbs slip away into nothingness. Only the black remained, cold and pressing against the backs of his eyelids. And Draco was still holding him—warm and solid and pressed against him so tightly Harry thought he might suffocate.

"Harry," Draco hissed in his ear, "you stupid, stubborn bastard."

Harry felt his knees give, and together they slid down to the floor. The stone was slick and wet with blood, and Harry could feel it soak through the fabric of his jeans. All of this seemed to be happening from somewhere far away, like he was disconnected from it somehow. He knew that he didn't want Draco touching him, but he couldn't seem to move and his tongue was stuck dryly to the roof of his mouth—the darkness had already settled in too deep. He'd lost too much blood, and the world had dissolved into nothing more than a faint blur of black and grey.

Draco's breath was hot as the sun against his cheek. "What were you thinking, provoking her like that?"

Even as Draco spoke, his wand traveled across Harry's body, magic soothing his flesh and blood. Harry could feel it pulling him from the safe surrounding dark. Already the world was becoming clearer. He could feel the smooth fabric of Draco's robes under his hands.

He fisted the material there, and felt Draco stiffen. "Stop."

"Stop what?"

"Stop healing me." Harry tried to push him away, but Draco was still too strong for him.

"I can't," Draco's heartbeat was like a drum against Harry's chest. "I have my orders."

"Your orders," Harry spat, pushing back harder. "You make me sick."

Suddenly Harry was thrown back. His head slammed against the stone with a painful crack, and he snarled as he felt Draco's hands pin his shoulders to the wall. Draco hovered over him, his face close and every inch of him seething with anger. "How dare you, Potter! How dare you! You don't know anything about it!"

"Don't know anything about it?" Harry yelled, even though it made his vision spin,."What, so I just imagined what just happened? How you just stood there and watched me get tortured? How you helped! Merlin, and you two were in on it this whole fucking time! Ron and Hermione were right and I was too stupid to see!"

"What the hell were you expecting?" Draco flared, "Or did you not notice that when she cut herself, I was cut too? I am bound to her, Potter! I can't do anything to her! If something happens to her, it happens to me too!" Draco's fingers dug painfully into his skin, and his eyes were like two pools reflecting a burning sky. "I tried to save you!"

Harry's scoff was laced with contempt. "And yet here I sit, quite unsaved. Some attempt."

"It's not my fault you were too stupid to smell the shit right beneath your nose! I've been sending you dreams all summer! I've been trying to show you since the beginning! It's your own fault you were too stupid to see!"

"Funny! A normal person would've just said something!"

"It was my father's life or yours!"

"And you chose your father! I GET IT!" Harry screamed so forcefully his vision went black for a lingering moment before finally fading back to normal again. He let his hands fall limply to his sides, too sickened by the mere thought of touching the other boy to put up any pretense of a fight. The chasm in his heart was deep, and black, and hollow—he remembered this feeling. It was like the very floor was about to crumble beneath him and swallow him whole.

Draco's grip on him loosened, and with a shuddering breath he leaned back. Harry looked away, but he could still feel Draco's stare prickling at the side of his face. When he spoke, his voice was soft, almost tender. "I never thought her plan would work. I thought—I thought you hated me too much. And I thought I hated you too much. Every time I saw you, I thought, 'today will be the day…today will be the day he'll realize who I am, and the horrible mistake he's making. And then she won't need me anymore, and everything will be okay'. But you never did. And, Merlin help me, a part of me wanted…" he trailed off. He was still sitting on Harry's legs, and Harry could feel him shaking.

Harry bit his lip, hard, forcing himself to focus on the pain instead of his want to look at Draco. He hissed at his own stupidity. "Wanted what?" he asked through gritted teeth.

"A part of me wanted it to never stop," Draco said it all in one breath, as if it was something he'd been holding in for so long that once one part came, everything else had to come with it. "I don't know when, but somewhere along the way it became real for me. I saw it happening and I tried to stop it because I knew what I would eventually have to do. But I couldn't stop. I told you I was selfish, remember? I told you. I knew I would have to betray you, but I wanted you anyway. Harry, I didn't know how dead I was before you. I—"

"Stop it," Harry interrupted sharply, "Just, stop it." He couldn't take it anymore—these fleeting glimmers of hope that were bubbling in his stomach. "Why should I believe you anyway?"

"Because no matter what you think about me right now, I do love you," Draco replied, without skipping a beat.

Harry's gaze was on him in an instant, wild with an untamed fury. His hands balled into fists at his sides as rage swept through his veins and made his nerves crackle. "Then why did you let all of this happen?" Harry asked with an unearthly dead calm.

Draco held Harry's angry gaze with his own, just like he always had. "I had no choice. I had to—"

"You had to save yourself is what you had to do!" Harry seethed. "Well looks like you've succeeded. Congratulations on your new position of slavery, I hope it makes you happy. Now. Get. Off. Me."

Draco's jaw went tense. He leaned forward but Harry's hands came up to stop him, pushing back with all his might. It was like pressing against a brick wall. "Harry, listen to me, there's still a ch—" his head suddenly whipped to the side, his eyes darting in thought. "We have to go. She's calling." Draco hoisted himself up to his feet, pulling Harry up with him.

Somewhere along the way, Harry's legs gave way. Draco caught him by the waist, steadying Harry against his body. "Don't," Harry growled, pushing the Slytherin away. He fell heavily into the stone wall, and it felt unnaturally cold and hard, as if it were purposefully mocking him for leaving the comfort of Draco's arms. But he didn't care, "If I'm going to walk to my death, I'm going to walk there by myself."

He took a step forward and stumbled, but Draco was right there to catch him again. "Don't be ridiculous," he said, grabbing Harry's right arm and pulling it around his neck. "We don't have much time." Without another word, Draco began walking, not much caring whether or not Harry wanted to be dragged along beside him.

Grimacing, Harry trudged along as best he could, wishing he could ignore the way Draco's hand felt against the skin on his waist. This was really happening. Draco was taking him to Ginny, and she was going to kill him. He was too weak to walk, much less fight, and he was without a wand. This was it. This was where he ended.

And it was worse, with Draco at his side—being the one to carry him there like some sacrificial lamb. To be so close to him, knowing the way his hair smelled after flying through the clouds, knowing the way his lips curved when he smiled, knowing the way it felt to have that body so perfectly melded into his like they were two parts created to make one whole, and knowing…that he would never feel those things again. It was torture, because he hated himself for thinking of those things, and not what he should be thinking. What he should be thinking was how all those years at Hogwarts, he'd been right. He should be thinking about how Draco's touch made him sick, and how he wished he would've never have agreed to talk that day on the train. But he wasn't. He couldn't.

The main hallway through dungeons was long and dark, and smelled faintly of rotted flesh mixed with the coppery tang of blood. For some reason Harry found himself fixated on how his shadow shrank with each candle they passed, only to stretch back out a couple steps later. Our shadows are trying to get away from us, Harry thought benignly.

Suddenly, Draco's arm tightened around his waist. Harry glanced up at him and saw a dark ferocity gleaming in his eyes. "We don't have much time," he whispered, "so you need to listen to me and try your best not to be a stubborn Gryffindor about it."

Harry felt Draco's hand slide down, pushing something into his jeans pocket. Harry's brow furrowed. "What are—"

"When the time comes—and you'll have no doubt when that is—read my instructions and follow them exactly. Exactly. Do you understand?"

"What instructions? What are you talking—"

In one graceful motion, the Slytherin unhooked Harry's arm from around his neck, grabbed Harry's other wrist and bound his hands behind his back. Harry stumbled, but Draco held him steady. Hot breath tickled Harry's ear, sending unwanted jolts down his spine. "I didn't ask you to ask me any questions, I asked if you understood." They were nearing the stairs now—Harry could see the door, tall and looming and too close. Draco's grip tightened, and Harry felt a shock of pain radiate through his shoulders as they mounted the first step. "Do you?"

"Yes!" Harry breathed.

The door opened for them not moments later, and Harry held his breath as he saw George's pale freckled face on the other side. He looked almost unrecognizable without his signature smile stretching his mouth. George stepped aside as Harry and Draco passed through. George's name bubbled up Harry's throat, and his tongue ached to call out to him, but one look at those misted blue eyes silenced him.

Draco kept him moving forward, and together they made their way through the deserted maze of Malfoy Manor. Minutes passed coupled with a harsh silence—the kind that made Harry's ears ring that eerie high pitch that could only be heard when there was nothing else to hear. Idly, he wondered what Draco was thinking, and he wondered what Draco had put in his pocket. Instructions, he had said. About what? How to sneer and exchange witty repartee before you die?

With a firm pull, Draco reined Harry to a stop. They stood before a rather ordinary looking black door. "What," Harry drawled mockingly, "I don't even get to die in a special room? This seems a rather rudimentary place to kill the savior of the wizarding world doesn't it?"

"Stop trying to sound like me," Draco seethed, reaching past him to open the door and pushing Harry through. "Trust me, you're not good at it."

The room they entered was large and round, with a high domed ceiling tapered with dark wooden arches. There was no furniture in the room, just two long red rugs that crossed in the middle. That was were Ginny stood, her silhouette trimmed with the soft light of the moon that shone through the lone bay window. She stood very still, and her eyes were closed, like she was sleeping. And in that moment she almost looked peaceful. Her hair hung down like soft black fringe over her smooth forehead, and her face seemed just as he always remembered it, beautiful and gentle.

"Hello boys," her eyes snapped open, and Harry gasped—it was like someone striking a nail into his skull. "I was beginning to wonder where you were." With a small flick of her wand, Harry felt chains wrap around his wrists and ankles. Draco stepped back and, unable to keep balanced by himself, Harry fell to the ground with a muffled thump.

Ginny cackled, and with another wave of her wand, Harry felt invisible tethers dragging him across the floor. Stone scraped against his face and ripped at the skin on his cheek before the tethers finally hauled him back up. "Oh, Harry," Ginny stepped towards him deliberately, and suddenly Harry was slammed back against the wall, "you can't imagine how much I've been looking forward to this."

Fighting the stars dancing across his vision, Harry spat out a mouthful of blood. "Go fuck yourself."

Ginny shook her head, her mouth stretched in a coquettish grin. "No, I think that will be Draco's job." She turned to the Slytherin. "By the way, Draco, are you staying for the fun?"

Draco smirked, "A Malfoy never misses an opportunity for front row seats to blood and violence. I'm pretty sure it's written in our handbook somewhere."

Ginny wrinkled her nose and frowned, "You have a very odd sense of humor."

"And you have a very odd sense of style. For a girl I mean," Draco replied, disdainfully eyeing her black trousers and shirt. He crossed the room towards her, looking every bit the arrogant Slytherin prat he'd been at fifteen. Harry frowned. What was he up to?

Ginny bristled as he neared. "I am not a girl."

"Oh. Well if that's the look you're going for, then I think you're spot on."

"Be quiet and go stand over there!" Ginny gestured irately, and with a cool smile, Draco went to stand behind her. His smile fell however, as soon as Ginny raised her wand. "Any last words, Harry Potter?"

Harry's bindings gave a sudden jerk as they broke apart and melded themselves into the wall. Slowly his limbs were stretched so that he was suspended several feet above the ground, his legs in a V, and his arms pulled so tight above his head that he was sure his shoulders would dislocate at any moment.

Everything seemed to slow to a meandering lull.

Harry could feel hot blood slithering down his cheek to dip down along the curve of his neck. He could taste the dry grime from the cell on his tongue. He could smell the sharp electric bite of live magic crackling through the air. And he could see a pair of grey eyes, staring back at him, and they were like home. And he was safe, somewhere far away from here, wrapped in Draco's arms so tightly that he couldn't quite breathe but he didn't care. They were together, somewhere in a house that was their own. It all seemed to happen before him—his entire life incased in a final moment. Years passed like moments within moments, and he and Draco grew, and as they grew they only became more intertwined. There were fights and anger, and passion and love, and Harry could feel all of it, so very real and aching inside him like venom being sucked from a wound. Pictures filled the walls as the twilight of their lives dawned, and their faces had long lost the youthful glow of beauty, but love still gleamed in their eyes and it was all that mattered. Harry saw it all, like it could've been his. And it was ok that it all had been a lie…because it had been real to him.

It was ok, that he would die…

Because the love he'd felt had mended everything the years of war had broken. He felt whole and alive, and there was nothing that could strip that away from him now.

Harry breathed in, knowing it would probably be the last breath he ever took. "Draco, I love—"

But Ginny's voice rang above him, "Avada Kedavra!"