Warnings/Summary: After death, all fields are level ground. [Major character death, both Harry & Draco!]
A/N: Didn't think I had the capability to write anything this sad day, but...I cannot but think there is something more, 'after', though I couldn't tell you what it is. This fic is fancy, merely, and a tiny outwelling of hope. Because I needed it. Maybe you do, too.
HD Playing Field
Last time it was King's Cross; this time, it's a great green lawn, far as the eye can see.
Harry remembers pain, and then light (brilliant light) and then not much at all. When he wakes, he's not really Harry.
He's something…someone else. Whatever he is, there's this great green field before and what looks to be blue sky and maybe (perhaps) far in the distance, water.
When Draco wakes (wakes?), it's with a start. He doesn't expect to wake at all—in fact, he knows for a fact he shouldn't be. He'd…fallen. That was it. He'd lost (fingers slipping in the blood on his borrowed wand; one leg crumpling beneath him and hole where half his intestine should've been). He remembers thinking that it was horrid (the mess he'd made of himself) and he remembers wondering about—hoping desperately for—no. Very simply, missing Potter.
It's a ruddy bowling green before him, and looking down, he decides he's not Draco Malfoy. Not anymore. Draco Malfoy had been practically in tatters. This was…something else. He was…something else.
Not knowing what else to do and for want of anything better, each began walking.
Enjoying the zippy breezes and the burn of sunlight on their shoulders. Stopping periodically to view an interesting rocky outcrop or a particularly fascinating plant.
After a bit, he who'd been Harry began to talk to himself, for want of company.
"I wonder if I'm dead?" he muttered. It seemed…probable. He'd been dead before, or nearly, and this seemed very similar. Perhaps more final, though, as the grass was springy under his feet and he was clearly nowhere near St. Mungo's or the dark closed corner he'd been forced into, during that last pitched fight to the death.
Hadn't thought he'd lose, though.
"Huh," he scoffed, kicking idly at a stray round grey pebble with a big toe, "I wonder if the others (there had been others with him; he remembered the feeling of being in company clear as a bell—just not their names (oddly) or their faces (odder still) made it out?"
Out of where, he wondered, and caught himself forgetting. Could feel himself forgetting. There was (and now he was consciously attempting to remember). There was Smith, whom he'd never really liked but the git was competent enough, he supposed. And Dawlish. Couldn't forget Dawlish, even if he tried…and Malfoy.
Potter? Draco (though he wasn't sure if he still was Draco; perhaps he'd become the dream of Draco, instead) wondered very much about Potter. He'd always done so. He quite thought it was inculcated into his bloodstream, after this long, to wonder over Potter.
How it would be, if…
Or, say, if he were to…
But Potter wasn't here, not in this whole wide swath of fragrant green, and not on the water he could sense he was nearing—a far silvery ribbon in the distance.
Harry felt as if he was getting closer, drawing near, and perhaps to something momentous. Something different, at least. The lawn was all very well, and he'd enjoyed his hike, but this was enough now…or so he told whoever was in charge, under his breath.
Last time, there'd been company at least. That old—that old, old man, the one with the beard, who he knew he should know, should remember, at least as well as he recalled…Malfoy.
Malfoy. Always a git, but a very competent…something. They'd done things together—er, Harry blushed, not those things! (He sent a glance down his front, and was curiously pleased to find he was still a man, if not quite the exact man he'd been.) Yes, they'd shared many a…something.
But—and here it was tricky—he didn't know. That was the point of it, that he didn't know (much of anything) and there was no one about to tell him.
But…there was the scent of water, in the closer distance, and perhaps this unexpected walk through hill and dale (mostly lea, actually; the terrain wasn't noticeably variegated) was coming at last to some…end.
Draco, for his part, put on a burst of speed. His feet were bare but the giving green vegetation beneath them didn't prick or hurt. He wasn't quite sprinting, no, but…he might. He could absolutely smell the water now and see (if he peered through the oddly angled sunlight, which seemed to emanate from all directions) and see a small dark speck, moving in the distance.
He very much hoped it was…Potter. Though he very much hoped it wasn't, either. He'd rather wanted Potter to live (he recalled that sensation vividly) and if the speck was Potter, than obviously…
Obviously, he should go find out. In fact, why was he waiting?
Harry, bored to tears (though not actually convinced he could cry, here), wanted this bit done with and over. Grass was well and good, the day (day?) was beautiful, but. He was lonely. He missed someone, very much. Although he likely shouldn't.
Couldn't be right to want to see a person he'd only seen in passing in…life, could it?
Because he wasn't 'in life', not now, and likely not again, at least not as 'Harry'. And Ma…Malfoy, he—him. He wasn't supposed to be dead. Harry rather remembered that he'd done…something—something very foolish and likely life-endangering—to prevent M-Malfoy from being so.
Because it wasn't right, of course. He wasn't sure (now) why exactly it wasn't right that Mal—Draco, Draco, Draco! should be allowed to end up the way he was sure to (and had; fancy that, Harry sneered), but…if he had, Harry wanted to know about it. Before he forgot (as he seemed to be forgetting a great deal, during the course of this pleasant walk) why that was so.
Cogitating over that, Harry fetched up at the edge of what was most definitely water. A bloody great river of it. And on the other side, more grass. Emerald green, spring-nearly-summer green, Harry's own eye-colour green grass.
Draco arrived, in a rush. He'd thought it was unseemly, even as he was running flat out, relishing the feel of clean fresh air pumping through his lungs (apparently he had those, still) and tossing his (remarkably) blood-and-dust-free hair off his brow. He'd run with both a laugh and a frown, loping easily, as he had when he was a youthful fourteen (so long ago, but he remembered it yet) and yet with the weight of…concern dragging at his heels.
Potter. Harry. There was that image, stuck in his brain, in the forefront. He couldn't seem to shake it off. He didn't believe he really wanted to, although it was most apparent that he was alone, here, and thus he wasn't likely to stumble across Harry.
It was only the water that made him think he might…just.
"No boat; bugger!" Draco swore. For there weren't any signs of human habitation (no dwellings, no roads, no signs, no sound but faint warbling birdsong and the freshets) and…and why would there be?
He was alone, right? Just as he thought he'd be. This was Hell. Hades. His…punishment.
"Well, shite!" Harry said, examining his wet toes. He'd dunked them and then searched about for a stick. But the lawn (really, it looked as though invisible gardeners had just mowed it) rolled neatly to the edge of the water of the river and ended, without even any reeds or thicket. He'd stepped in finally, frustrated, and had his legs sink into a sucking, grabby sort of silt, up to the thigh. One he wasn't sure he cared to trust, thanks ever so, that slippery, treacherous bottom.
Had scrambled out, still frustrated, and cursing under his breath.
Wherever he was, it wasn't anything like the countryside he remembered.
Draco, irked, looked about him. He'd been convinced, earlier (or perhaps more correctly before, as the light hadn't changed, so he was willing to assume wherever he was didn't actually lay claim to measurable time, not like good old Earth) that he'd seen movement, far and away. And just now—he'd swear it—he'd heard a noise that wasn't any of what seemed to pass for the usual environmental white noise (not much of that, even. It was eerily quiet, here).
"Now what?" Harry asked the limpid air. "Do I swim it?" But that didn't look a very inviting prospect; it was only more lawn on the other side, same as the side Harry was on. The grass wasn't even any…greener, Harry thought, lifting his lips wryly.
If this was the afterlife, it was rather a waste of a good solid eternity.
"Shite," he murmured, and thought about sitting down, and perhaps putting his feet back into the water.
That, however, put paid to any thought of sitting down or perhaps even napping.
"Oi, Potter! That you?" For there, on the other side of the water, not too far distant, but far enough that he couldn't quite make out the finer details of expression (come to think, where were his spectacles in all this?...oh, yes, he supposed he wouldn't be needing them.) Anyway, there—opposite him—was that chap Ma…Draco. Draco, that was it.
The very chap Harry had been wondering about.
Er, um. Had actually managed to die on behalf of. How very…embarrassing. Obviously, he'd not been successful.
Harry flushed a brilliant red and stepped back a pace from the edge of the water. He even shuffled his bare toes through the blades of grass.
"Look," he called out, "Ma—Draco! It wasn't my fault! It wasn't! I did my best to save your arse, alright?"
"I know that, Potter," the other man replied querulously. "Whatever. We both fucked up, alright? The—the—the whatever it was that we—we were doing. Doesn't matter now, though. What matters now is there's no boa—"
"Oh, no?" Harry was vastly intrigued by that response. For some reason, he'd been quite convinced he'd earned himself a tongue-lashing for whatever it was he'd cocked up back…before. Before now. Earlier, when he was breathing.
And for some strange reason, which went against all logic, he felt as though he was more…'Harry', now that this Draco bloke was here. Yelling his head off over the lack of boats and, erm, suitable water transportation.
"Why don't," Harry asked, having not listened to much more than the gist of it, "you Apparate over?"
"What? What?" Draco exclaimed (and Harry was suddenly visited with the overweening fear that maybe it wasn't Draco at all; it was actually a mirage…or maybe a demon, if this was indeed Hell, as it…just…might...be.) "Oh! Oh…yes. Could do, I s'pose."
He nodded, seeming appeased. Harry waited.
Waited. Tapped his foot. Watched the blush bloom and ebb in the other man's cheeks (nice, high, chiseled ones, too; just as Harry had always secretly thought very handsome).
"Er?" he spoke up finally, growing tired of ennui—and feigning patience. "Is there some sort of…problem?"
Draco coughed; a small, dry one, and Harry had a flash of sense-memory. He could practically taste stale coffee on his tongue, smell the smoke from burnt-out fag ends in the ashtray, see the circle of tired faces poring over—poring over…something.
Not important now, obviously, that. But he did recall that peculiar little bark of a cough. This Draco—he'd always done that, and generally before saying something he didn't necessarily want to say.
Harry remembered. When he looked up to stare across the water that separated them, it seemed his vision was sharp as it ever had been, with spectacles intact and on his nose, where they should be.
"I, ah," Draco called back, flapping a thin white hand, "can't seem to manage." He seemed quite taken aback by that.
Where they should be—oh, yes. Harry's spectacles weren't, in fact, present on his face but he could feel them, the comfortable weight of them like an astral projection. That had been part of 'Harry'…just as the blond hair (very unbelievable shade, that; possibly not natural, but he knew it was, nonetheless) and the cough and even the inscrutable hand wave was this…'Draco's'.
They were, apparently, together, here. Here, in the hereafter, or what passed for it.
Harry was suddenly convinced this was not Hell.
Draco was convinced it was. There, within shouting (or perhaps more correctly within the distance of a carrying tone, if not an outright vulgar shout) was Potter. Harry. Over there. Precisely where Draco couldn't—quite—reach him.
Exactly: Hades. Punishment.
"Look, er, Draco," Harry called over. "This is stupid, yeah? Standing here?"
Draco nodded, agreeable. "Why don't you try then, Potter? See if your extraordinary Wizardly powers can do what I can't?"
Harry looked startled; his brows climbed and his eyes widened. "Oh? Was I? Was I a...Wizard, then?"
"Um…yes, Potter," Draco was certain Harry was joking. Of course he was a Wizard! The Wizard! "Don't faff about, alright? Try it, then. See if it works for you."
He hoped it would. Very much so.
There was a little silence and Harry frowned at the water and then at Draco, standing on the other side of it. Shut his wide green eyes and screwed the lids up tight, as if he were concentrating very hard.
"Hmm," he murmured, after a solid minute (or what could have been one, elsewhere) had ticked past. 'It seems I can't, either."
"Huh," Draco scowled. "Smashing."
"Hmmm…." Harry muttered again, and ruffled a hand through his hair. "Well….that bites."
"Doesn't it, though?" Draco snapped back. Caught himself.
He'd run, hadn't he? Like a fleet-footed deer, like a woodland sylph, for what seemed like miles and leagues, all at a very great pace. Just now, he'd done that. And he was clearly (and again he glanced down the front of him, which seemed now crystal-clear and exactly the shape he should be and then would waver, and confusingly drift into an opaque milky swirl of...something), clearly capable of accomplishing things he'd not been able…before. When he'd been breathing…when he'd been actively attempting to keep Potter in that same state and failing miserably.
But now, he was…altered. If he were, say, to step out onto this glassy smooth surface, this expanse of water, and sink, it wouldn't matter in the slightest. He was already dead and gone, so…so, er, what?
"Hang on," he commanded Potter, and did just that. One foot in front of the other, at first slow and then more quickly, when he found the water repellent and somehow…pliable, beneath his heels.
One-two, one-two; a steady clip, and he was over. And Potter—Harry—was staring at him, mouth open.
"How did you ever manage that?" he gasped. "I sank! I sank—how did you walk right across it, git? It's deep!"
Draco smiled. Not Hades. Maybe not Heaven, but absolutely not Hell. Potter was here, and they were (quite literally) on the same side, standing together.
"Power of positive thinking, Harry," he smirked, "that's all."