I don't own Harry Potter.

This is my last fanfiction before I go offline for about two or three months. I hope it is appreciated. Thank you. This is an EIGHTH YEAR fic.

He was always proficient at hiding his emotions from his friends.

He will not show his disgust at Parkinson. He will not reveal the utmost contempt he holds for Crabbe and Goyle. He will not display the grudging respect he holds for Theodore Nott; neither will he show the pain and longing filled in him because of Potter, nor the jealousy because of Potter's friends.

But he will openly sneer at those in the school corridors, those he considers below him. He will laugh about the weaknesses and shortcomings of Gryffindors; blood traitors, half-bloods and Mudbloods holed up in one house. He will only be explicitly cruel to others—but what he holds inside, no one knows.

Coldness unrivalled; because to show your true emotions is to show your weaknesses. A sharp tongue, insulting everything and everyone; because to be polite and kind and relenting is to allow the other person control over the exchange of words. Narrow eyes; because eyes are the windows to the soul.

He promises himself he will remain calm and unresponsive around everyone. That promise is broken countless times, because the corridors somehow always bring him into direct contact with the one he never wants to see.

Pansy has gone to a faraway place. She is never coming back to Hogwarts, and Draco is glad.

Crabbe is dead. Goyle will not return. Draco is glad, once more.

Loneliness is a constant in Draco's life. He has gotten used to it; the pain of never having someone from whom he can draw honest support and comfort, and the agony of never having someone who will draw it all from him.

He has a room to himself now, in school. He doesn't even bother to personalize it. Less than twelve months to spend here; he will not go home for Christmas or any other holiday. Malfoy Manor reminds him painfully of things he would rather forget. He has already decided to purchase another home, only for himself, once he leaves Hogwarts.

Draco goes to sleep reluctantly. Dreams, not good ones, not at all—haunt him all during the day, only to return, clearer and clearer every night. This night is no different.

Flashes of green light

Nothing felt

CRUCIO, the cold, hard, merciless hiss

Pain, pain, pain, all the pain in the world and then some

Trying not to scream as the skull and the snake burned on his skin

Trying not to just grab his wand and cut away EVERYTHING

Draco's eyes open, and he is drowning in his tears.

He quietly makes his way along, exiting the dungeons. People don't stare at him. His stormy grey eyes somehow deflect all gazes away from him. His first class is Charms. He doesn't know who he will pair up with for today's class; everyone is reluctant to approach him with a three-metre ruler. He silently worries over this insubstantial matter; then he feels fingers brushing against his own, slightly locking into his own, before breaking contact. Draco looks up in surprise and turns around.

A small smile greets him.

Draco's surprised expression breaks into utmost pain—a breach of the rules he works so hard to follow; his promise is shattered—and he turns back and walks on.

He knows the wearer of that beautiful smile is gazing after him with puzzlement and a bit of pain themselves; but love is pain, and sometimes he thinks Harry Potter hasn't known pain like his. He wouldn't smile like that if he did.

He thinks wrongly, and knows it.


Draco increases his pace. But the caller is faster; he has caught up, and now Draco breaks into a run. He is frantically dashing away from him. Their footsteps are just out of sync enough for Draco to know he is being followed.

Running all the way from the second floor to the seventh, even if he was taking short cuts and whatnot, is bound to slow Draco down a bit. The school isn't empty.

Draco is finally cornered in the empty corridor. 'Don't,' his follower gasps, 'avoid me, Malfoy.'

'I have no choice, Potter.' Draco is silently trying to work his expression into one of impassive coldness.

Harry Potter frowns. 'What d'you mean by that? As if not avoiding me would kill you.'

Draco snaps. His appearance is one of vexation. 'As a matter of fact, it would, emotionally.' He is right about that. Harry Potter draws out strange reactions from him; responses he would rather not elicit. Hurt and craving, because he has always wanted Potter's friendship but was refused it; disgust because he hangs out with a blood traitor and a Mudblood; desire because Potter is untouchable. Not even the Weaslette could keep him for longer than a few months. And most oddly, love.

'Huh?' Not the smartest of replies, but it would have to suffice. Harry hadn't understood a thing. Draco feels condescending.

'Just leave me alone, Potter.' Draco turns to walk away; silently hoping Potter won't run after him, but at the same time willing him to. He is torn.

'Want to go to Hogsmeade with me?' The question shocks Draco to the point that he whirls around and gives an answer without thinking. 'Of course.'

The smile Harry gives is blinding. 'I like you. A lot. I even think I love you. I've loved you since we were eleven. But I didn't know what it was, and interpreted it as hate. Didn't take your hand. So sorry.'

Draco can't reply. He is drowning in joy. He doesn't even care to keep his face blank as he runs back to Harry and stops in front of him. 'I love you too,' Draco chokes out, and he is smiling like a fool. So much for rules and promises. Harry's smile softens and he leans in to kiss Draco. Draco wraps his arms around Harry and kisses him back. He will have good dreams that night.

He was never proficient at hiding his emotions from Harry Potter.