Title: Roses, Made By Hands
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this for fun and not profit.
Pairing: Harry/Draco preslash.
Warnings: Language, flangst. EWE.
Summary: Draco was trying to find one place where he could go to be by himself, and of course who should come after him there, but Harry Bloody Potter.
Author's Notes: First in Made by Hands, a series of deliberately fluffy little fics about Harry and Draco getting closer and then getting together. Set in the eighth year, and unconnected to anything else I've done. I don't know yet how many there will be.
Roses, Made by Hands
The roses around Draco weren't real.
He thought he liked them all the better for that.
He leaned his head against the cool mosaic of the wall and closed his eyes. The roses still swam in front of them, however. He'd spent too long looking at them for it to be otherwise. The mosaic showed rosebushes with unnaturally vivid colors, pink and white and red and yellow, climbing on green vines across a white and black background, aiming for a sun that was suggested more than seen. It was the sole decoration-so far-in a large, empty room that was someday going to be the centerpiece of the Museum of the War.
Draco wondered when they would have to change the name. One day a generation would come along who didn't necessarily know what war they were talking about. Draco hoped he lived long enough to see it.
Sometimes he didn't know if he would, despite the conclusion of his own trial and his ability to go on living. There were the imprisonment of his father, the taking away of his family's Manor, and his mother's quiet stoicism to make him feel ashamed of complaining or weeping.
But what should he do, if complaining and weeping were the only things that seemed to matter?
A footstep sounded behind him. Draco hastily stood up and turned around. The last thing he wanted was for anyone to see him and imagine him in mourning, even for a single moment. He was stronger than that. He was better than that. He knew he must be, because his mother told him so.
"Pure-bloods are never so pure as when their enemies try to destroy them," she had said that morning, rocking in a beam of sunlight that made her pale hair shine. She was the only beautiful thing in the small flat they had rented, Draco thought. "Then we rise from the ashes, shining like phoenixes."
She was capable of doing that. Draco didn't think he could. But he tried, because not to would disappoint her and dim that beauty.
His facade cracked when he saw the man who had invaded the room behind him, though. He knew it did. Because the man was Harry Bloody Potter, carelessly elegant in Muggle jeans and shoes and a cloak draped over everything despite the fact that it wasn't Muggle.
Potter had grown in the three summer months since the war, or maybe that was Draco's imagination. But he was tired of thinking that things were his imagination, or that obstacles only existed in his mind, the way his mother was always telling him, so he chose to think it was reality this time. His eyes were brighter, his hair was more mussed, and all in all he seemed to have decided that standards were for other people and he was going to enjoy himself.
He nodded at Draco as if he'd expected to find him here and leaned forwards to examine the mosaic of the roses, although he didn't move from his spot. Draco sneered. Potter's pretense was pathetic. Draco knew he couldn't see anything from where he stood, which must mean that he had come here to speak to Draco, and for no other reason.
"What do you want?" To Draco's shock and horror, his voice had a smudge of tears in it. He swiped hastily at his eyes and nose and hoped that Potter wouldn't know his mother's dictum, that all pure-bloods carried handkerchiefs at all times.
Potter looked as if he'd expected to hear the emotion, too, and honestly, did nothing ever fucking surprise him anymore? "To talk to you," he said. "I wanted to ask you a question, but all my owls got turned away after the one I sent with your wand."
Draco let his hand drift towards the hawthorn wand for a second, then decided that was too vulnerable a gesture in front of Potter and sneered instead. "What value could you be to me, after that?" he asked. "We know that you can't get my father out of prison." His mother had forbidden him to send Potter a begging letter, but Draco had cornered him just after his father's trial anyway, and asked. Potter had given Draco a pitying look and a single shake of his head, no more than that. Which meant Draco was never going to put himself in the position of asking anything from Potter again.
"I wanted to know whether you were going back to Hogwarts in the autumn," Potter said, as casually as though that was a real question, or he didn't know the answer already.
"Shove off," Draco hissed, stalking a step nearer despite all the silent admonitions in his head from his mother to stay still and on his dignity. "Why would I ever go back there again?"
"Because your life didn't end with the war," Potter said, so simply and straightforwardly it took Draco a minute to realize what he'd said.
Rage splintered the careful mask he'd been trying to develop for his mother's sake, and he leaped in, pinning Potter against the wall opposite the one with the mosaic. Or trying, anyway. Potter somehow turned them around, and Draco found he was the one held there, gasping, with his collar in one of Potter's hands and his arm in the other.
"It didn't," Potter said, eyes drilling into him. "I thought you didn't realize that, and I was right." He paused and shook his head. "I didn't want to be."
Draco laughed in his face then, because the thought of the precious Savior ever not wanting to be right was beyond stupid. "What do you care? What does it matter? McGonagall won't ever have me as a student there again, no matter what. And I refuse to be a beggar."
I already am.
The traitorous thought flashed through his mind before he could stop it, and he turned his eyes away from Potter. But Potter's hands gentled on him, which meant he'd seen.
How Draco hated that.
"I won't ask for special favors for you," Potter said steadily, which made Draco wonder where his pity had gone. That wasn't the sort of thing one was supposed to say after witnessing a pure-blood show his weakness. "But you deserve the same chance as everyone else. The same as me."
Draco managed a snort. Just when he thought that Potter's ridiculous martyr complex had the chance of wrecking him, along came one of those stupid pronouncements to rescue him. "If you really think that anyone's going to agree to see me as a fucking war hero, then you understand nothing about the wizarding world. Or how to manipulate your fame," he had to add. He'd thought Potter could use some advice on that long ago.
"I'm not going to be drawing on my reputation, either," Potter said, as if that was his decision alone. "I want to be a normal person, and treated like one. And I'll assure that you are, too."
Draco jerked his head up. This was too much. "What did you say to me after my father's trial?" he jeered. "That you didn't make promises that you couldn't keep?"
"I didn't say that," Potter corrected him, still with that infuriating gentleness. "I implied it. But this time, I can make and keep the promise." He smiled, and abruptly Draco found a fire in his eyes, a meanness in the curl of his lip, that made him wonder if he was dealing with the same soft-hearted Potter he'd known before the war after all. "They think I can't," he continued, almost dreamily, turning away from Draco to look at the mosaic of roses again. "And this is the summer of celebration, the summer everyone needs after the end of the war. I haven't needed to exercise any power yet, because they haven't made me. When they do..." He glanced back at Draco, and his smile deepened. "Watch out."
Draco stared at him. Potter looked back as calmly as if they'd always been friends, as if this wasn't a complete departure from his previous behavior.
"Why?" Draco couldn't help asking, although he knew his mother would glare at him for both the question and the tone he used to ask it.
"Because you deserve the chance and the choice," Potter said. "The same as everyone else." He raised an eyebrow, and his face cooled. "I can't do anything about it if you decide to do something stupid, like try to kill me or hurt my friends. Then I'll go after you with all the force at my command. But unless that happens, I'll protect you the same way as I would Lavender, or Neville, or Hannah."
Draco didn't recognize the first or the last name, which meant they were probably some of Potter's stupid little followers. But the second name he did know, and he felt a surge of sharp anxiety run through him.
"I didn't do something heroic," he snapped, "like Longbottom did." There was a simultaneous squirm of shame and rage behind the words. Who would have thought he'd ever need to compare himself unfavorably to Longbottom? On the other hand, who would have known that he'd ever care about Potter's ideal of heroism, or wish that he had lived up to it more during the war?
"You refused to identify me to the Snatchers," Potter said. "Your mother saved my life in the Forbidden Forest. Call this my gift to you for that, if you want. Call it paying off the life-debt. And remember, it's not going to get you anything special. Just the same chance everyone has."
Which is more than I thought I would have, Draco completed silently.
Potter watched his face, then gave him a smile like a photographic flash and held out a letter. "McGonagall's invited you back," he said quietly. "I didn't show it to you at first because I thought you'd reject it and think of it as pity," he added, correctly anticipating Draco's next question. "But now you've at least listened. It's still your choice to come back to Hogwarts. But you have the choice."
Draco stared from the letter up to Potter's face. "Did you persuade her?" he asked.
Potter smiled. "No. There are still fairer people in the world than I am. I got the idea from her." He nodded to Draco. "See you around, Malfoy, if you want to." He paused one more time to look at the mosaic, then turned away.
Draco called after him, because he had to. "Why did you come here? Were you following me?"
"I saw you come in here, and I thought it would be a convenient place to talk to you." Potter's eyes were on the roses again. "But mainly, I'm here for them. Something beautiful that people made with their own labor. I want to do that. I'm going to do that."
His voice was quietly confident. Draco shook his head, not knowing what to say, not knowing if he should say something, if his mother would approve.
You have more choices than what she wants for you, said a voice in his head. It sounded suspiciously like Potter's.
When Draco looked up again, Potter was gone, and he-he was left to look at the roses.
Draco did for a time, and then went on his way, the letter from McGonagall firmly tucked into one pocket. Now and then, he reached down, to feel the parchment bend.