A/N: No, I am not dead nor have I given up on this story. I do hope I still have some readers left out there. And sorry for the mess-up with the chapters, took me a while to notice it!
Feedback is always nice and much appreciated! Enjoy!
Harry was walking quickly through the streets of London, towards home, the prickly frost of the night forcing him to take more than one shortcuts so he could get inside and warm up as soon as possible. Harry was now watching his step more carefully than he usually did, but as the ice had caused him to slip after taking less than six steps outside the Ministry, Harry had put keeping his tailbone intact as number one on his current list of priorities. The lack of street lighting along his favorite shortcuts made Harry's rushing rather a challenge as he tried to not to fall over again. He internally cursed himself for not connecting his fireplace to the Floo Network yet, as well as starting to regret his decision to walk the whole way back instead of Apparating.
But the truth was, Harry needed to sort out his thoughts. Ever since he had moved into his small and modest apartment, he had taken the habit of walking back home. Nearly every day was still complete circus at the Ministry, it was amazing in how many directions people wanted to split Harry's attention at the same time - and even more amazing was that said people actually thought anything good would come from it. This all came down as somewhat stressful for Harry, who wasn't even working there, but who wanted to focus on his training more than anything. But, as usual, instead of complaining, Harry tried to make the best of a bad situation. Though it was lucky he had got used to working under pressure.
Nevertheless, the situation being what it was, it allowed Harry nearly no break at all, no moment to clear his mind, in what - mind you - he'd never been that good to begin with. It had turned out quite useful to walk back home with no hurry whatsoever, the walk allowing him much needed and highly appreciated time to process the happenings of the day and to leave all the stress behind.
It truly was still full chaos with the whole reconstruction and reforming, but there were a lot of effort by countless directions to build a stronger basis for the wizarding world - which of course meant focusing on the very faults of the Ministry itself - something that had never been exactly focused on before. Even after all that had been going on during the last couple of years, it seemed like people still had the biggest issues to admit and recognize the mistakes of the very authority everyone had once grown to trust. But the truth was, one could never deny the corruption that had occurred inside the Ministry and the disaster it had caused during the war.
Chaos aside, something was accomplished every single day, since Kingsley was going full ahead following the blueprint they had composed in the beginning of the project. A lot of people had started working for a better future, including various fellow students from Hogwarts, bringing on younger and more fresh point of view to the project. Kingsley was keeping busy with all the hearings of ex-Death Eaters, Snatchers and other criminals they'd managed to trace, as well as of people who were looking for reparations of damaged property and other personal matters, so Kingsley needed everyone on whom he could thoroughly rely to cover for him in some situations. Some could think that it was the Order of the Phoenix that had become the very core of the Ministry, though that was a bit too exaggerative thought. Kingsley had set various targets and destinations to work on at a time, one being the relations with the Muggle Prime Minister that needed to become stronger, a work that had previously been neglected. Of course there'd been a few raised voices protesting that the Ministry's policies were becoming way too Muggle/minority centered - which, of course, wasn't the case.
Even though Harry had all this swirling through his mind, he found himself bothered because of no other than Malfoy on his walk back. Truth to be told, Malfoy was the matter that had been worrying him all day. Harry had woken up in the morning, and found that his anger - due to the unpleasant waking up in the middle of the night because of a drunken someone - had dropped. Nevertheless, he'd thought he should wake Malfoy up anyway, just to make sure he understood that Harry wasn't going to put up with stuff like that on daily basis. He had gone knocking on Malfoy's door in the morning with false seriousness, only to find the bed empty. A quick trip downstairs and he saw the couch empty, too. At first, it had taken Harry by surprise since Malfoy had hardly done anything besides idling and sleeping during the past few days - Harry was quite sure he hadn't even left the house once. (He also had the feeling Malfoy had done a great deal of snooping around in the flat, but he didn't really mind.) But as he had gone to his training at a later hour than usual that day, he'd gotten just a bit worried for not knowing where exactly Malfoy had gone off to. Harry had wanted to talk about the whole shenanigan with Ginny the day before, but hadn't gotten the chance, for Malfoy had disappeared after storming out. Malfoy of all people wasn't easy to mentally destabilize, but Harry could tell he'd gotten upset. With every reason of course, but it had been somewhat worrying, since Malfoy hadn't gotten back by the time Harry had. So he had restlessly gone to bed, only to be woken up by the two drunken adventurers. And now Malfoy was gone yet again.
Harry hadn't heard from Ginny, either, after she's left, though he had received what was becoming an annual invitation to the Burrow for Christmas - an unofficial letter from Mrs. Weasley to make sure Harry knew he was heartily welcomed to spend Christmas with them, this time the letter accompanying homemade sweets. Harry did find this endearing, though it was rather obvious that he wanted to go there for the holidays. This time around Harry was even more appreciative of the small tradition, since it told him that Ginny had probably managed to keep her mouth shut - at least Harry doubted he would've received a letter written with such affection had they known about Malfoy. So Harry had scribbled down a quick answer that he was more than happy to accompany them for Christmas, as long as it wouldn't be too much of a trouble. Ron of course had find this hilarious, laughing and apologizing his mother's fussing about when they'd met up during their training.
Since Christmas was right around the corner, only four days to go, they'd decided that Ron and Hermione would come and pick Harry up Saturday the 23rd, because they would be around anyway. Hermione had found out that Ron had done poor job buying proper presents for his family, so she was dragging him along to do some last minute shopping on Saturday morning. Of course Christmas was just another issue to discuss about with Malfoy. Harry knew he'd be shocked if the blond wouldn't want to spend time with his family this time of the year, though it really wasn't his business to worry about. So Harry decided to make Malfoy know he could stay around in his flat for Christmas if he so wished.
As Harry finally turned around the corner that led to his apartment, he was half expecting and half hoping to see lights turned on from the windows, but was left a bit disappointed when there was absolutely no sign of life whatsoever. The next thought of his was that maybe Malfoy had already gone to bed since it was already well past midnight. He really needed to talk to the man. Harry rushed the last few steps to his front door, his fingers and face left numb from the freezing winter air. After stumbling to get the door open, he brushed off the snow on his shoulders and hair, and stepped inside.
The silence and darkness of the flat had an eerie effect on Harry who'd been surrounded by noise and people all day, the atmosphere in the hall itself brooding. One look at the coat rack told that Malfoy hadn't come back yet. With a sigh, Harry placed his own jacket on the rack and took a look at his wristwatch that he'd received from the Weasleys on his seventeenth birthday. Almost one am.He stood there, rubbing his tired eyes and running hands through his hair almost violently. For a moment he pondered whether he should go and try to look for Malfoy, now cursing himself for not having visited the Leaky Cauldron on his way back. Some people there must've seen him. He shrugged these thoughts off, feeling like a fool for being worried about Malfoy of all people, and so he walked through his living room, towards the kitchen. He froze at the doorway.
Malfoy was sitting at the kitchen table, facing Harry, but looking at his hands in the table between them. He had his coat and scarf on, and he looked more stressed out than ever. But somehow he seemed more peaceful than he had in days. Why he hadn't turned on any lights or even lit a fire to the fireplace, but had chosen to just sit down there anyway, was beyond Harry. He didn't give any sign of recognizing Harry's presence, but it was clear he was very much aware of the fact that he was currently being stared at.
Harry shifted on his feet. He had his jumpy tendencies of course, so it was inevitable to feel freaked out by Malfoy, who'd always the most unpredictable person he'd met - ever since they were just eleven-year-olds he'd grown to beware the blond's actions. Harry noticed it was almost as cold inside the apartment as it was outside, and had the feeling that it had something to do with Malfoy's current mood, which made his wonder just how long exactly had the man been sitting there with just his own thoughts.
Harry was still a bit afraid to move. He eyed the kitchen, and was rather sure his breath would form into fog in the air if he wouldn't do something to distract Malfoy. He returned his eyes back to the blond's, and was started for making eye-contact with him. Malfoy blinked a few times, and gave almost an invisible nod before turning his gaze back to his hands. Harry eased a bit, then walked to the kitchen cabinets and started shuffling around. Malfoy began to doze off in his own mind again.
It didn't take more than a few minutes before Harry placed a steaming cup of hot chocolate on the table next to Malfoy's cold hands. Malfoy gave a look to Harry, who sat down across from him.
"No need to go all mother hen on me, Potter," he muttered.
Harry was relieved at least to receive some pissing off from Malfoy.
"Of course not," said Harry with a huff. "Want to tell me what's going on?" he asked, waving at the kitchen.
Malfoy looked at him, and for a moment Harry thought he was about to tell everythingthat had been going on lately, but then saw Malfoy clearly changing his mind. "Nothing, really. I-I just..." he shook his head, "Just felt a bit off, that's all. I'm fine." Malfoy had reached somewhat reassuring tone of voice, but it remained unclear for Harry just who he was trying to reassure.
Harry gave him a nod. "I'm sure you are."
They both relaxed a bit, Draco taking the cup of cocoa in his hands, the warmth of it making him feel more comfortable. He could feel Potter eyeing him with the most curiousness.
"Listen, I needed to talk to you about the other day," Harry started, feeling like he might as well as get started on something.
"No need to apologize in favor of your muse," said Malfoy quickly, "I know she wouldn't."
Harry frowned, knowing now that Malfoy had chosen to block him out, even though Harry wanted to know just how upset Ginny had made him.
"No," Harry muttered. "I guess she wouldn't. But just ignore her. It's not like she knew what she was talking about-"
"Potter, you really don't have to do this," Malfoy interrupted with the smallest hint of a sneer on his face. "It's not like it bothered me or anything."
Well if that wasn't an downright lie, I don't know what is, they both found themselves thinking.
Harry gave the blond a long look. "Right."
Silence fell between them, though it wasn't one of those awkward ones. They sat there, both glaring at each other, Harry most desperately trying to get Malfoy to trust him, Draco trying to get Potter to piss off with most seriousness. Malfoy stood up.
"I'm going to bed," he stated, Harry knowing that he wouldn't be getting any confessions out of him that day. Malfoy turned back to Harry before he went, Harry raising his eyebrows.
"I'm not going to take it as a habit to wake you up in the middle of the night." Malfoy said after a long consideration of words. "And...you didn't get into too much trouble of this...situation we're having, did you?"
Harry took a moment to let it sink in. He tried hard not to laugh at the man's choice of words, immediately realizing that the man was neither directly apologizing nor was he showing whether he was actually sorry or not.
"Well that's- that's good to know," Harry said with the smallest hint of a smirk on his face. "Tell me, even if I was in big trouble, would you actually care?" he asked Malfoy with fake seriousness.
Malfoy pretended to consider the question, then shook his head. "Not at all."
Harry nodded with the smirk still in place. "Of course. Night, Malfoy."
Malfoy turned and left the kitchen, shaking his head. "Right."
I see myself in a mirror. Big, fancy mirror. I look around when I realize it doesn't make any sense. I broke that mirror when I was six. I remember it. Mother got so upset she didn't talk to me for days. I remember it because I was left with no one talking to me besides the house-elves. She was so angry. Out of no reason, of course, it was an ugly mirror. So I broke it.
Even father didn't like that mirror. Why didn't he talk to me? I'm not a six-year-old anymore. I can see myself in that very same mirror. Why isn't it broken? I don't like the reflection in it, so I turn away and see a man on top of a staircase. How did he get here? I certainly wouldn't have let him in. Get out. Now.
No. He's not going anywhere. But where do I fit in this? I'm not supposed to be here. He's watching me. There's even more people that weren't here before. They don't belong here, we all know that. If they're here, I shouldn't.
I turn my back to the people on top of the staircase. They sneer, of course they do. The mirror is still there, and I realize I cannot breath like I'd want to. Not properly. In the mirror there's not only my figure, but my parents' as well. They don't look at me in the eye, why won't they? Mother, look at me. You're supposed to. This mirror is supposed to be broken. I start beating it with my fists, but it won't break down.
Why won't it break down?
Harry was woken up suddenly, by a reason he couldn't immediately detect. He groaned and stretched in his bed, then opening his eyes. It clearly wasn't morning yet, and Harry started to wonder what had caused him to wake up after only what felt like a few hours of sleep. He turned on his back and listened. Then he heard it, the noise that must've been the very same he heard only seconds ago. A muffled scream, coming from a small distance. He then heard what could only be described as heartbreaking crying, and in seconds he was on his feet with his wand in his hand.
Harry rushed to the hall, finding that the sound was coming from Malfoy's room. He hesitated a split second before opening the door without knocking, pointing his with wand to the darkness. After taking in what was happening inside the room, Harry slowly put his wand down and hurriedly approached Malfoy's bed.
Instead of Malfoy being currently attacked and murdered - which had been Harry's first thought concluding from the terrible noise - Malfoy was in the room alone, tossing and turning on his bed, fighting against an invisible enemy, mumbling names and pleas. He was having a nightmare.
"Malfoy?" Harry asked stupidly, not knowing what to do, starling when Malfoy started to actually scream from the top of him lungs into his pillow. "Malfoy!"
Harry hesitated before he reached for Malfoy's violently trembling shoulder in order to shake him awake, only causing the man to put up even a bigger fight against the monster in his dreams. Of course Malfoy managed a straight punch on Harry's nose.
"Fuck!" Harry wailed in pain, but decided not to give up. He grabbed the man's both shoulders and shook him with less compunction, and saw Malfoy starting to wake up. "Malfoy, wake up!"
"NO!" Malfoy screamed, painfully grabbing Harry's arms for the lack of better option, his eyes shooting open. Harry could tell he was confused and deeply upset. When it looked like Malfoy wasn't going to let go of him, Harry sat down on the edge of the bed. He'd just opened his mouth to say something that was meant to be and explanation, but Harry realized in shock that Malfoy had started to sob, even though he was already awake, his eyes tightly shut again.
Harry swallowed air, but before he found any words of comfort, Malfoy had turned his back on the bed and was curling up into a ball, crying into the pillow. Harry's hand was left in the air, and knowing that if Malfoy'd manage words right there and then, he'd tell Harry to sod off - he placed the hand on Malfoy's shoulder nevertheless.
Malfoy made some sort of a strangling noise, but apparently couldn't give a fuck anymore, continuing to cry it out. Harry soothingly rubbed Malfoy's shoulder with one hand, tiredly rubbing his own eyes with the other, mumbling comforting words to the confused and angry man beside him.
"It's ok," Harry muttered, staring at the wall, only causing Malfoy to silently cry harder. "You're ok."
Harry wake up to find himself in a weird position on a bed that was not his own. His feet were on the floor, his upper body resting on the bed, arms tangled in odd angles. He got up and discovered Malfoy in the opposite end of the bed, curled up as a ball, looking like he was about to fall down if he shifted any closer to the edge. Harry could tell his eyes were red and his hair rugged.
Harry got up quickly and stretched, gasping because of the dull pain in his arms and legs. "Shit."
He had the feeling he was going to be late from training, but hesitated before leaving. He took one look at Malfoy, then took the blanket that had apparently been unused the whole night, and quickly placed it over the man. For a moment he studied the sleeping figure, wondering whether he'd be alright if Harry left. Harry decided not to 'go all mother hen' on him, so he turned and left the room to take a quick shower before heading off to the Ministry.
Draco had been sitting on the edge of the bed for a long time now, staring at the wardrobe. Once in a while he would either shake his head or groan in embarrassment. He was ashamed, of course. He couldn't remember the last night he didn't have some sort of a nightmare, which was alright, but it came down rather disgraceful for knowing that Potter had witnessed one. Especially one that had really got to him. Handful of minutes of staring and shaking his head followed again, but then he eventually got up.
Draco decided to stick to the plan of action he had, not allowing Potter or nightmares or any kind of emotional stress affect him. He went downstairs, ate breakfast, took a shower, and packed his belongings.
He'd had the habit of pretty much nicking clothes from Potter's wardrobe in a stealth manner, since he hadn't really been going anywhere for days, but not he had his own clothes back on, the usual black ones.
He organized Potter's guest room as it had been before his visit and tidied it up a bit. Draco then noticed the small bag on a chair. He took out the book he had bought the day before, and placed it on the bed. With one flick of his wand, the book wrapped neatly in silver paper. Another flick, and green and silver ribbon went to hold it together, making an elegant bow on the top of the package. Draco took a small piece of paper, scribbled down one word with his usual neat handwriting, then folded it and placed it on the package. He decided that it would do, and as he went downstairs, he dropped it off on the living room table.
Draco checked one last time he hadn't left a big mess after him before he went outside, walked to the nearest corner and Disapparated.