*Author's Note: I was in the mood for a slightly more serious Harry/Draco story, so I wrote this. It takes place one year after the 7th book, although it ignores the epilogue (as I think all fanfics should haha). I hope you like it! Please review at the end with any feedback you may have! Thank you!*
Draco hasn't been able to sleep recently. Every time he closes his eyes he's brought back there, surrounded by a sea of flames surging in on him from all sides, reaching out with burning tendrils to snatch at his robes, to caress his flesh until it's as hot and red as the fire itself. He sees Crabbe's pale, terrified face floating amongst the flames before him just out of reach, just beyond saving, and then Crabbe's gone, swallowed by the fire, flesh instantly blackened. It's at this point that Draco's grey eyes always snap open. He can't see anymore. He can't handle it. He goes out on the terrace for a cigarette.
He rarely dreams of Harry saving him, of the mixture of relief and horror as strong hands pull him from the grasping flames and away from Crabbe's burning body. He doesn't usually get to remember the comfort of Harry's arms around him as he flies to safety. He's usually just left to relive the panic and guilt of the fire and Crabbe's face, stuck in a dream world where he is never saved, where help doesn't come in the nick of time. Not even the nicotine and soothing silence of a cigarette can calm Draco after those dreams. It does take the edge off, though.
It's only on those rare nights when a dream Harry does save him that Draco doesn't need to smoke. His ashtray is long since overflowing.
Draco crosses his ankles on the ottoman in front of him as he sits in a chair in the garden, a cigarette clasped tenderly between two fingers. It isn't night and he hasn't just woken from a memory turned nightmare, but he's past the point now where just one cigarette a night can soothe his craving for nicotine. Draco holds the stuffed curl of white paper to his lips and inhales, feeling the smoke slide down his throat before exhaling a stream of smoke into the crisp, evening air.
"Those things'll kill you, you know," says a voice from behind him. Draco turns, peering over his shoulder towards the source of the chiding words. Harry hasn't changed much at all in the year since that final battle. His hair is still a mess, and he's still a little shorter than he would probably like, but his emerald eyes look heavier, weighed down by the knowledge of all of the people who had died for him over the years. The war had ended, but not without a price. Draco knows that all too well.
"Wizard, Potter, remember?" drawls Draco as if Harry showing up on his doorstep is a natural occurrence despite the thrill of surprise running through him. "There's a magical filter on here. As if I'd give myself lung cancer."
"Oh, right," says Harry sheepishly. Even after all these years, he isn't quite used to being in the wizarding world.
"So, as fun as this conversation is, Potter, why are you here?" comments Draco as he takes another drag on his cigarette. Draco watches Harry out of the corner of his eye as he waits for a reply, noting the way Harry shifts awkwardly from foot to foot and drums his fingers anxiously against his thigh. He's gearing himself up for something. Part of Draco is curious. Part of Draco is afraid.
"I've been hearing things, Malfoy, things about you," Harry explains, taking a tentative step closer to Draco.
"If you're hearing voices, you should really get that checked out, Potter," quips Draco, trying to derail this line of talk. He doesn't want to have this conversation. He can guess the kinds of things Harry has been hearing. Harry frowns but otherwise ignores Draco's taunt.
"I've heard that you never go out anymore, that you're not your usual self. Your friends are worried about you. They must be if they bothered to come to me about it." Draco scoffs. Friends? What friends? Slytherin house had been all about appearances: you appeared to have friends, and you appeared to be ok. If you had a problem, you hid it. You couldn't show weakness in a house where having power was everything. Unfortunately, not showing weakness meant never really connecting with anyone. All of the people who had hung out with Draco at Hogwarts had just aligned themselves with him because of his family, because he had power. They weren't really his friends. Draco doesn't say any of this, though. That would be showing weakness, and he's learned by now not to do that.
"I don't know why they'd come to you of all people, Potter," Draco says disinterestedly, as if this whole thing is no big deal. Harry shrugs.
"I can't say I know either," he admits, "but I want to help if I can." Draco's eyes narrow in suspicion.
"And why would you want to do that? We've never exactly been friends. In fact, I'd say we were quite the opposite," Draco asks. Harry just shrugs awkwardly again, looking a little embarrassed.
"Not really sure about that myself," Harry replies, "but what I do know is that we both went through that war together, even if we were on opposite sides. We both saw people we knew and cared about killed or hurt. Besides, I don't think you really even wanted to be there or for Voldemort to win." Draco winces at the sound of the name. That name represents more to him now than it ever has in the past. "I think you were just scared," Harry continues.
"And why would you think that?" asks Draco, body tensing in anger. Harry has no right to assume he knows Draco, knows how he felt, how he feels now.
"I was there that night," Harry says quietly. "The night Dumbledore died. I saw you lower your wand. You're no killer. You aren't one of them." Draco stubs out his cigarette, crushing the smoking tip into his already overflowing ashtray and stands up to face Harry, fury at his own humiliation wracking his frame.
"So what, Potter? You figured you'd just come up here and get to play the hero one more time? Thought you'd come fix poor, harmless Draco, did you? Well I don't need your help, Potter! I can bloody well look after myself, and I sure as hell don't need your pity!" Draco shouts, fists clenched at his sides, muscles tense. Harry takes a deep breath, forcing himself not to retaliate against Draco's outburst.
"I think you do need me. You need help, Malfoy," he says, forcing himself to stay calm despite his natural temper. "Do you honestly think you're ok? 'Cause I sure as hell don't."
"You don't know anything, Potter!" Draco screams, and a muscle spasms in Harry's jaw as he holds himself back.
"I know more than you think. I went through that final battle too. I know what it was like for you then, and I know what it's like now. I was there too, Malfoy." Draco's body is still tensed in anger, but his voice is quiet when he replies, no longer yelling.
"I see his face every night. I'm back there every bloody night watching him die over and over again," he says so softly that Harry has to lean in to make out Draco's words.
"I know," Harry says flatly, and it is this straightforwardness, this understanding rather than pity that finally causes Draco's shoulders to slump and his anger and embarrassment to dissipate.
"I can't do it anymore," Draco whispers and suddenly Harry is by his side, a hand resting on Draco's shoulder.
"I know," Harry says again. "I know." And then Draco is bawling into Harry's chest, his thin frame shaking with huge shuddering sobs he has never let out until now. He cries for everything he did during the war and everything he didn't. He cries for himself and for his friends. He cries for everything that's happened to him until he doesn't even know why he's crying anymore and it feels like the whole world is nothing but tears and huge, shuddering breaths. Harry just continues to hold him, not saying a word, just holding Draco until the other boy has no more tears left to cry.
Draco blinks blearily up at Harry. He knows he must look puffy and red and snotty, but he doesn't care as he leans up and presses a desperate kiss to Harry's lips.
"Don't leave me alone tonight," he murmurs. Harry nods.
"I'm not going anywhere, Draco." Draco's first name feels foreign on his tongue, but he doesn't care. That night Harry fucks Draco tenderly, as though he's something delicate, something special, and Draco falls asleep wrapped up tight in Harry's arms, the same arms that dragged him to safety a year earlier. That night Draco is finally allowed a blissfully dreamless sleep, and for the first time in many months, Draco doesn't need to smoke.
The next morning when Harry makes a face and empties Draco's overused ashtray, it doesn't fill back up again. Instead it just sits there, a reminder of what used to be, but no longer plaguing Draco's thoughts.
Now when Draco dreams of that night he is always saved.
*Author's Note: Well, there you have it. I gave you guys a nice little happy ending to make up for all the angst. I hope you liked it! Please review with any feedback be it good or bad (although, I'll admit that like any other author I rather prefer good). Thank you so much for reading and I hope you'll check out my other Draco/Harry fanfics as well, some of which are like this and some of which are much more lighthearted and funny.*