Summary: How could one heart hurt so much? How could one man, one love, hurt as if he had lost all the flesh in his body?
Word count: 6,890
Warnings: Flangst-y. Like, I mean, I had to have a tissue box while writing it. But dont' let that scare you away! Just read it!
Note: This is for my darling vanessawolfie, who always supplies me with creative ideas and loves her angst xD Love ya, sweetheart!
Hot tears clung to his eyelashes and dripped onto his pillow as his whole body clenched tight. His heart ached more than he could possibly imagine as he pushed his nose further into the pillow that still held his scent.
How was it possible? How could one heart hurt so much? How could one man, one love, hurt as if he had lost all the flesh in his body?
The next morning, he woke up as a man once again, flesh and bone. He brushed his teeth and charmed his red, scratchy eyes to look as normal. He drank tea and set his shoulders back as he went to work, to do Minister-like-things, like every other day. He was serious and attentive with the politicians, but charming when it came to the department Heads, who didn't really know what they wanted. He even managed to finish a few magical crossword puzzles in between meetings and during lunch, to keep his mind busy.
That night, straight from work—because honestly, he didn't think he could enter his house yet—he went over to Ron and Hermione's. They had looked surprised that he'd come alone, but they welcomed him in and brought him a glass a wine (which he declined, because if he had one glass, he wouldn't be able to stop and no one wanted an alcoholic Minister of Magic).
He finally told them, and their looks of complete shock almost comforted him in a way—at least he wasn't the only one who hadn't seen it coming. He was surprised that he could remain calm enough to tell them without breaking down in a sobbing heap on their carpet.
"But why?" Hermione stood up and sat next to him on the couch, putting her arms around Harry's shoulders. "Why? This doesn't make any sense… I don't understand! You two have been so happy these last two years!"
"I don't know," Harry said honestly, staring at the patterned rug between his loafers. "He said he had had enough… that he-" Harry's voice broke but he kept talking, husky and unrefined. "—that he didn't want to be with me anymore."
"That doesn't explain anything!" Ron said angrily, coming over to sit on Harry's other side, reminding him of their Hogwarts years. The tough Head Auror clamped a hand on Harry's shoulder, and fuck, Harry's eyes watered with gratitude and the same breath-taking pain he had felt last night. It was nearly enough to bring him to his knees.
But he kept it together, for Ron and Hermione's sake at least. Plus, what if little Rose came down for a drink of water and saw her 'Unca Harry' crying like a baby? No, it just wouldn't do.
"He didn't say much else. He—" Harry took a calm, steady breath. "He had already packed his things and was ready to leave by the time I came home from work."
"Well then, let's just go to St. Mungo's then!" Ron exclaimed and Hermione tightened her grip against Harry's back. "Let's tell Healer Malfoy," Ron spat, "that he has some serious answering to do."
"No," Harry said, his voice sounding weak and broken even to his own ears. "It's not worth it, because he doesn't…want me. Dra—he said he didn't want to be with me, so that's that."
Harry couldn't say his name yet—he couldn't picture being able to say his name ever again, actually.
"This is… this is not okay," Ron muttered adamantly. "He can't do this! I warned him! When I find him, I'm going to-"
"Ron," Harry said, shaking his head. "I'm not ready for anger yet. I just want—oh Merlin, I just want to-"
He broke off and he couldn't help it this time as the tears fell and Hermione and Ron held him as he fell apart in their arms.
Two weeks later, Harry found himself on a beach in the Caribbean's, walking along the shore with the sand squishing under his toes. He had been forced—sorry, politely nudged—into taking a vacation with Luna and Ginny, who had dragged him to the Portkey International Office and thrust a broken teacup into his hands.
Harry didn't see how it would help much, considering the fact that location didn't really stop his heart from feeling as if someone had nailed it to a wall and smashed it repeatedly. However, he appreciated his friends' many attempts to cheer him up, so he relented this one time. Perhaps it was better that he wasn't in London, because every damn day, he simply wanted to Apparate to the hospital and request to see Healer Malfoy in Spell Damage.
Tomorrow was June 5th, Draco's birthday. Harry wouldn't even be able to see him. How was he supposed to deal with this? How was he supposed to be okay?
He knelt down and picked up a seashell, examining the cracks along the outer edge and wondered if he himself was damaged beyond repair, or if maybe, someday, he'd be okay…
A month later, and Harry didn't really think he'd ever be okay. Earlier in the day, he had been walking in Diagon Alley with Rose, holding her tiny hand as she skipped around, jabbering about the shops around her. Suddenly, she stopped and pointed into the distance.
"Unca Draco!" She shouted happily. Harry's head whipped in the direction she was pointing and watched as he stopped in the doorway of Polly's Potions and looked back at them.
Harry's heart stopped as Draco smiled weakly and gave a half-hearted wave. Rose jumped up and down next to him, waving back and Harry exhaled loudly when the blond head disappeared into the shop.
Harry felt a tear threaten to fall and he begged Rose to allow them to go home early. After putting the girl down for a nap in the guest bedroom, Harry walked over to his own room and pushed his head into the pillows, letting out a scream.
Nothing was quite like heartbreak in Harry's opinion—and he didn't quite care for it.
The next day, Harry was sorting through some paperwork when a light knock came at his door. The secretary came in and he smiled slightly.
"Yes, Mia?" Harry asked, looking down at the package in her hands.
"This came for you just now, sir. I did all the necessary spells, so there's nothing wrong with it." She smiled at him and put it down on his desk. "I'm guessing it's for your birthday? Even though it's not for two days still... But, it didn't come with a note."
"Ah," Harry murmered in a distracted tone. He knew that green and silver ribbon that tied around the package. It was the same ribbon he had wrapped around other gifts to Harry.
"Thank you," Harry said quickly, nervous by the train his thoughts were taking. "Can you get me another cup of tea, possibly? I have a headache."
"Of course, sir." She walked out of the room and Harry pulled the package closer to him, his fingers shaking as he opened it.
Removing some of the packaging, Harry let out a soft exhale when he pulled out a leather book. He put it down in front of him and traced the corner, where his name had been engraved, with a snitch underneath it. Flipping the cover, he trailed his fingers across the empty pages and his heart hammered in his chest.
"I can't remember! What time did I say I had that meeting?" Harry asked, biting his lip in worry as he quickly tied his shoelace.
"Harry," Draco laughed, shaking his head. "You know what you need? A journal. You need to write things down! You have horrid memory."
"But you still love me," Harry said cheekily, looking up at his boyfriend.
"I do, don't I?" Draco smiled, leaning down to kiss Harry's forehead.
Harry clenched his teeth and closed his eyes, feeling the page underneath his fingertips. This wasn't fair- he couldn't handle this one. Standing up suddenly, he picked up the book and walked out of his office, looking over at Mia.
"Cancel all my appointments and tell Hermione I can't come to lunch," Harry said, his voice rough. "I have to go take care of something."
"But, sir! Your tea?" Mia was saying, but Harry was already leaving.
Once outside the Ministry, he Apparated to St. Mungo's and entered, causing everyone to drop what they were doing and stare at him.
"Are you hurt?"
"Can we help you?"
The shouts rang clear but Harry merely shook his head and walked up to the desk. "Where is Healer Malfoy?"
The Welcome Witch sitting behind the desk looked up at him with wide eyes and popped her chewing gum. "He-er, he should be in his office, sir. It's his lunch time."
"Thanks," Harry bit out before taking the stairs towards the left and passing several lime-green clad Healers on his way up to the fourth floor. Once on the floor, he made a sharp right and came to a stop in front of the last office on the right, staring at the words Healer Malfoy, Head of the Spell Damage Ward.
Taking a deep breath and knocking on the door before he could actually think it through, Harry heard a soft "Come in" and entered.
"Yes?" The man behind the desk asked before looking up and leaning back. "Oh. Har-Minister Potter."
"Really?" Harry growled, walking into the room and closing the door behind him. "It's Minister Potter now?"
"You..." Draco shook his head and sighed. "I'm sorry. Harry, how are you?"
He seemed to be critically analyzing Harry, as if he wanted to make sure he was all right. Always the Healer, Harry thought, his blood boiling for some reason. He was so bloody angry at this man- for leaving, for not explaining, for asking how Harry was doing. Most of all, for breaking his heart.
"How am I?" Harry repeated, seeing red. "What the fuck do you mean, how am I?"
The man stood, crossing his arms in a defensive posture that Harry knew well by now. "It was a simple question. I was just asking."
"Don't. You have no right to ask me how I am. You fucking left, so you know how I am."
"What is this?" Harry sounded nearly animalistic in his anger, throwing the leather-bound journal onto Draco's desk.
"Ah, they sent it early. I told them the 31st."
"What the bloody hell are you doing, sending me birthday gifts?" Harry walked closer, leaning against the desk and staring at Draco. While he was angry, he also noticed that Draco didn't look too well. His face was paler than usual and the bags underneath his eyes seemed akin to Harry's own.
"I still... I'm sorry, I shouldn't have. I just saw it last week and thought..." Draco sighed once again, running his hand down his lime green Healer's uniform.
They both knew that he wasn't asking about the journal.
"I can't... I can't be with you, Harry." Draco's face flushed pink and he turned away, not looking at Harry.
"Can't?" Harry asked. "You told me that you didn't want to be with me. Now you're saying you can't. What's going on, Draco?"
He turned back and Harry was shocked to see a tear fall down his cheek. Harry hadn't seen Draco cry since... since 6th year, in a secluded bathroom.
"I'm sorry," Draco said again, his voice breaking as more tears fell. "I just... I never meant to hurt you."
Harry felt his heart seize in that familiar breath-taking pain and he moved around the table, coming to a stop in front of Draco. His Draco.
"Why did you leave me then?" Harry couldn't help but ask the next question, not really wanting to hear the answer. "Don't you love me anymore?"
Draco uncrossed his arms then, staring at him before leaning forward, resting his forehead onto Harry's shoulder. Instinctively, Harry wrapped his arms around him, and they both shook as Draco cried.
Closing his eyes and tracing his fingers through Draco's silky hair, Harry didn't know what to feel. He didn't know if he should be worried, sad, happy or a combination of feelings.
"I love you more than anything." He heard Draco whisper through sobs.
"Then why? I don't understand. We were so happy," Harry said, tears clouding his own vision.
"Because... I couldn't put you through it. I just couldn't."
Harry opened his eyes and pulled away slightly, brushing his fingertips against Draco's face. "Couldn't put me through what, Draco?"
He opened his eyes and Harry knew instantly that something was very, very wrong. "I have Black Heart's disease. I'm... I'm dying, Harry. "
That night, Harry wrapped himself around Draco as they sat by the fire. Draco had been shivering the whole day, despite the hot summer temperature. Sipping at his tea before setting it onto the side table, Draco rubbed at his puffy, tired eyes as if trying to hide the fact that he had spent the afternoon crying into Harry's shoulder.
"There has to be someone we can go to. Someone must have come up with a cure," Harry was saying as he tried to wrack his brains for something. There had to be something he could do. Draco- Merlin, his Draco- was too young, too beautiful and intelligent to lose. Dying. The word rang in Harry's ears like a bell.
"Stop," Draco said softly. "This is why I didn't want to tell you in the first place. You're just going to try and save me for the rest of my time here. I've come to terms with it, Harry. This isn't one of those miraculous fairytales- there's nothing you, me or any other Healer can do, love."
Draco pulled the afghan closer around him and snuggled into Harry's side. Harry fell silent for a bit, not wanting to argue while Draco looked so tired.
"How long did the Healers say you have?" Harry asked, his voice shaking slightly. "And what exactly is Black Heart's disease? I just know it's bad..."
"A few months, they told me." Draco shrugged, closing his eyes and dropping his head onto Harry's chest. "Black Heart's disease is... I didn't want you to have to see me go through it. It runs in pureblood families and my great grandfather had it as well. The next few months will be... brutal, Harry. I'm always going to be cold and weak. The disease will continuously pump poisonous, viscous liquid into my bloodstream, causing the heart to slowly turn black, until I... pass away. I've told Healer Hawthorne that I'm going to work until the end of this month, and then I'll have to... get my affairs in order, of course."
Harry swallowed thickly. This had to be the most difficult conversation he'd ever had in his life. "No one... no one has ever survived this?"
"No. And don't try, Harry- don't drag Granger into research and try to find a cure to this. It's useless, and it'll only be worse when it doesn't work and you'll be so upset."
Harry was quiet while he calculated the chances of finding every person who had ever researched Black Heart's disease. He sighed and ran his fingers through Draco's hair, relishing in the soft feel of the blond strands around his fingertips.
"You should've told me earlier, instead of leaving. We lost so much time that we could've spent together."
"Should've, could've, would've," Draco snorted. "I was trying to give you a clean break, Harry. You should've gone and found another man."
"I don't want anyone else," Harry said, his tone as resolute as ever. "But-"
"No buts, Potter." Draco sat up and looked at him, the silver in his eyes gleaming. "Look, I've told you, I've come to terms with it. Now it's your turn."
"I don't think I can! What will I do when you're... gone?"
"You have practice now," Draco said, smiling sadly. "Do what you did when I left you.
"You were still alive, Draco! I knew you were still there, in the same town, breathing the same London air!" Harry shook his head and closed his eyes. "What will I do when I know that I can't just come see you whenever I want, anymore?"
"We still have a few months, Harry," Draco said, speaking softly into Harry's ear and tracing his fingertips against Harry's cheek. "A few more months of fantastic, mind-blowing sex and dinner dates with friends... we'll act normal, and when the time comes, we'll say... goodbye. Now that we've done it once before, we can do it again- just on a larger scale."
Harry opened his eyes and stared into Draco's. "Draco, I can't say goodbye to you, ever again."
"You can do anything, love." Draco leaned in and kissed him on the corner of his lips. "You're Harry Potter, after all. And, if there's only one person I get to spend the rest of my short life with- it's you."
Harry clenched his eyes shut to stop the tears again.
"It's raining," Draco whispered, startling Harry awake.
Harry turned over in bed and sat up, rubbing at his tired eyes. He looked over at Draco, who was sitting in his favourite chair by the window of their bedroom.
"Aren't you tired, love? You should rest."
"I can sleep when I'm dead," Draco said, his voice bitter.
Harry winced and put on his glasses. "Draco, come here."
The man turned away from the window and looked at him. After a long moment of silence, Draco uncurled himself and walked over. With a sigh, he slid in between the sheets and into Harry's waiting embrace. He was shivering and Harry could do no more than hold him tightly.
"Can't sleep?" Harry asked. The potions that the Healers had given Draco to relieve the pain also unfortunately gave him sleepless nights and irritable mood swings, but there was no way around it.
"I don't want to die," Draco said stiffly. "It's so... I'm young-28 only! Why should I have to die now? When I'm finally happy in life?"
"I know," Harry said, because what else could he say? "I wish it was me instead."
"What?" Draco pulled away sharply and stared at him. "What is that supposed to mean?"
Harry shrugged. "Well, I honestly wish I would die first. That way I won't be alone until I die."
"You-" Draco stopped and shook his head, obviously frustrated, but Harry had no idea why he would be. "You won't be alone until you die, Harry."
Harry traced his fingers down Draco's elegant neck. "Of course I will. I could never be with someone else, Draco."
"Don't say that!" Draco's eyes widened and he lightly smacked Harry's knee. "What, you think I want you to be lonely after I'm gone? You should, after a while, whenever you're ready, move on. To another man."
Rolling his eyes, Harry said, "You don't get to dictate what I'll do, Draco. I hardly think I'd ever love someone as much as I love you."
"You're going to have to let me go eventually, Harry."
"Easy for you to say; you're not the one who's being left behind."
I'm always the one being left. It's as if Merlin or some Deity really has something against me. Everyone I love is taken away from me... Harry was thinking sullenly.
"You'll have Ron, Hermione- all of your friends to help you. You'll be okay," Draco said, almost as if he had heard Harry's thoughts. "Everything will be okay."
To this, Harry had no response, so he simply pulled Draco down to lie next to him in bed. They lay there in silence, feeling each other slowly- trying to memorize each other's bodies before fate could come by and pull them apart.
They had conversations like that all the time, and it zapped Harry's energy like no other. He went to work tired, arguing with Draco about something or holding him as he cried. Then, he came back from work tired as well, from the annoying people at the Ministry who constantly asked how Draco was doing and gave him pitying looks. Harry had never found it so tough to be Minister as now, when everyone was constantly bothering him and he could never get any serious work done.
One day, Harry was on a break from meetings and was having tea in his office with Ron and Hermione. They were listening carefully as Harry described the severity of Draco's condition and how he had been researching various Healers around the world in his free time- which he didn't have much of, honestly. His time was split between spending time with Draco and handling the Ministry's affairs.
"Harry, listen to me," Hermione said suddenly, putting her cup down and reaching over the desk to hold his hand softly. "You look so tired and worn-out that you look like the sick one. You tell us that you can't get any work done here because of how everyone is, but I think it's also because you're constantly worried about Draco. Now, I know what I'm about to say sounds odd, but just listen. I think you should take a break from work- don't give me that look. You can step down for a while; ask McLean, who is an excellent Undersecretar, by the way, to take over for a few months?"
Harry sat there, staring at Hermione for a long time as his brain processed what she was saying. A dozen instant protests came to mind, all along the lines of not wanting to give up on the wizarding community and it's my duty to the society and most of all, Draco helped me get to this position in the first place. But then, he looked over at Ron, who was looking at him solemnly, obviously agreeing with his wife.
Harry thought about all the ways he could stay at home in order to spend more time with Draco and continue his research on possible cures- even though Draco had told him not to.
"I think maybe... that makes sense," Harry said slowly. Hermione smiled and nodded, patting his hand in a motherly fashion.
Later that day, Harry had several meetings with McLean, the Wizenmegot and the PR people, so they could organize a press conference, allowing Harry to leave a few hours early.
He smiled as he Floo'd home. Entering the house, he was welcomed by a scrumptious smell. Harry looked over at the door leading to the kitchen and put his cloak and bag down, walking over. Opening the door, his eyes widened as he saw something he'd never believe to see in his own kitchen. The whole room was covered in pans of cakes, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, brownies and other treats.
"Oh, Harry!" Draco gasped, putting a rolling pin down and coming out from behind the granite counter. "You're home early!"
Harry grinned as Draco came closer, taking in his flour-dusted body and the frosting in his hair, all complete with the green apron embedded with the Slytherin crest. Draco gingerly pulled him in, kissing him softly, clearly trying not to get him dirty as well.
"What's going on, Draco?" Harry asked, gesturing towards the various desserts around the room.
"Well," Draco shrugged, smiling. "I was in a really good mood today and there was nothing to do... I was looking through our books and saw the one recipe book we bought a long time ago. To make treacle tart together, remember?"
"Yes, and you just decided today was baking day?" Harry snickered, reaching over for a delicious-looking cookie, but Draco smacked his hand away.
"Those aren't for you! We're going to make little baskets and send them to our friends and family! I want to thank everyone for all they've done for us. And then, whatever is left, we'll send to the War Orphans Home! They'll love them!"
Harry stared strangely at the Slytherin and narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Draco, is this some last ditch attempt to look like a charitable person before-"
"Of course not!" Draco grinned, his face flushing. Harry raised one eyebrow and Draco shrugged. "Okay, maybe a little. I really want a good obituary in the Prophet."
Harry shook his head and pulled Draco closer, hugging him tightly- flour and frosting be damned.
"Wait, how are you home so early?" Draco asked into his shoulder.
"Well, I gave the Minister duties to McLean today. There's a lot more paperwork to do, but I brought it all home with me."
Draco pulled away and stared at him, while Harry tried to gauge his reaction.
"So that I can spend more time with you, love." Harry kissed Draco's forehead, thankful that he wasn't angry. "I have only a limited time with you, and I can take care of you now, when you get really sick..."
"You didn't have to do that, Harry," Draco said, but he smiled slightly, hugging him again.
"I wanted to, baby. I needed to."
A few days later, it finally happened. Harry had just been outside, planting a few flowers in their garden. He came in, looking for a glass of lemonade, when suddenly he heard a crash in their bedroom. Running over, his heart nearly stopped and he remembered things in flashes.
His hand clutching the door frame so hard it snapped slightly, giving him splinters.
Draco doubled over on the floor, his face pink and tears falling down his face.
The broken flower vase beside their bed.
The sound of the Floo roaring around him.
Nurses screaming questions at him as they carried Draco away.
Hermione and Ron holding him as he shook to pieces in the waiting room.
The Healers letting Harry in to see his love lying in agony, asleep after the potions they gave him. But alive. Very much still alive.
And then, he fell asleep in the chair next to Draco's bed, holding his pale, cold hand.
"Unca Draco, are you gonna be okay?" Rose asked, sitting on the edge of Draco's bed a few days later. The Healers had now said that Draco's health was at risk if he left the hospital, so Harry had gotten him a private room.
"Let's hope so, sweetheart." Draco winked at her and Harry's heartbeat thudded low in his ears, from where he was standing, close to the windows. "But if not, can you promise me something?"
"I can't do the unbreakable vow! Daddy said so!" Rose said quickly, shaking her head violently, causing her pigtails to bounce.
Draco laughed. "Not the unbreakable vow, just a regular promise. Will you promise to take care of Uncle Harry?"
Harry gritted his teeth and looked out at the city. He could feel Draco's gaze on him but he refused to look back.
"I guess so. I love Uncle Harry. But- you're gonna be okay. Mommy said so."
"Okay," Draco sighed. "Go ahead, you can pick the story this time."
Rose cheered and pulled the copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard closer to her, flipping open and pointing at various pictures.
"Come on, Harry," Draco said, causing Harry to turn around and stare at him. "Come read with us."
Harry walked over slowly and sat down on the chair, pulling Rose into his lap. "Unca Harry, let's do this one. It's my favouritest."
"Favouritest is not a word, dear," Harry said distractedly as he began to read the story that had caused him so much trouble when he was only seventeen.
He read the story and something, something sparked inside of him. Death was, of course, a part of the fairytale. He remembered distinctly, when Dumbledore had told him his supposed thesis..."I think it more likely that the Peverell brothers were simply gifted, dangerous wizards who succeeded in creating those powerful objects."
But Dumbledore had been wrong before... what if Death was real? What if there was an actual figure... no, no, Harry was going mad. It couldn't be. But what if...
Stopping for a moment, his mind whirled and Rose and Draco both looked up as there was a knock on the door. Ron came in, his eyes flitting from his daughter to his former enemy.
Harry picked Rose up and sat her down on the edge of Draco's bed, standing and handing the book to Ron.
"Will you finish the story? I really need to talk to Hermione," Harry said, making a quick decision.
"Harry?" Draco asked, sitting up slightly. Harry walked over the other side of the bed and gave him a kiss, curling his fingers lightly through Draco's hair before letting go.
"I'll be back soon, get some rest after Rosie and Ron leave, okay?"
"Okay... come back soon."
Harry burst into Hermione's office just moments later. He knew he must've been a sight- wild-eyed, hair even worse than it's usual disaster- and Hermione stared at him.
"Harry! Oh Merlin, is it Draco? Is he okay?" She asked frantically, standing up from her desk.
"He's okay, everything's fine," Harry said, his voice sounding alien even to himself. "But, listen, I need your help with something."
Harry walked over to her bookshelf, running his finger down the book titles until he pulled out the familiar copy of the fairy tales he had just been reading. The version from Dumbledore's will.
"What is it, Harry? And is Rose still at the hospital?
"Yeah, Ron's with her and Draco. Okay, now." Harry flipped open the book but stopped, unable to decipher any of the runes. "Where's the Tale of the Three Brothers?"
Hermione huffed and walked over, opening it to the correct page.
"Not this again," she muttered.
"Hermione," Harry said carefully, staring at the runes still, as if it would give him the answer he was looking for. "Is there any legend, speculation or anything that says where this bridge is? Like, where they met Death?"
"Where the bridge is? Why on earth does that matter?"
"Hermione- focus, please. Are there any rumours, stories, research of where this happened?"
"Harry, this was hundreds of years ago. Mr. Lovegood and I discussed the story in great detail before he passed away last year, but I don't think we talked about where the bridge was."
"Damn it," Harry cursed under his breath then looked up. "Wait, didn't he leave you a copy of it? With his notes or something?"
Hermione stared at him strangely before nodding and going over to her bookshelf. She pulled out a much more tattered, smaller book in plain English with highlighted, annotated parts in cursive.
"Harry, you have to explain what you're getting at here," Hermione insisted as she handed it to him.
He flipped it open to the right page, feeling slightly guilty for ignoring her, but much more focused on what he was reading. He tried to decipher Xenophilius' notes on the side of the story's words, skimming over random notes and looking for locations, addresses, anything...
"Ha!" Harry laughed after a moment. "Here it is!"
Harry read carefully, trying to read all of the messy handwriting. Hermione came closer and they both read the various estimated dates and location at the end of the story. It looked iffy, but Harry thought that perhaps he could go through the Ministry archives and possibly find some of these locations.
"Harry... please tell me what you're talking about?"
Harry looked up and leaned against Hermione desk, gazing at her concerned face. "I'm going to go talk to Death."
She closed her eyes and paused, then opened them and went over to her chair, sitting down carefully. "You... what?"
"Look, I know it's far-fetched and impossible, but I think... Remember when I told you about my, er, death? And King's Cross?"
Hermione nodded, rubbing her temple and staring at him.
"Right. Well, Dumbledore said something to me- he said that he didn't really think they met Death. That they were just three powerful wizards who created the Hallows. But, what if that wasn't true? What if they actually met, you know, Death?"
Hermione made a face, as if he were speaking a different language. "Harry, listen to me. That's part of a children's tale. I know where you're going with this- you want to talk to Death? For Draco?"
"Well, yeah," Harry shrugged. "But I have to find him first. If I can find a bridge... with water underneath, and the Peverell Brothers talked to-"
"No! Harry, it's not real!" Hermione shook her head, a feared look in her eyes. "You can't talk to Death. It was a personification-"
"But you don't that for sure!"
"I do! That's impossible!"
"I'm out of bloody options!" Harry roared.
They stared at each other, hurt and frustration in both of their eyes. With a sigh, Hermione stood up and took the books out of Harry's hands, putting them back on her bookshelf.
"I know," she said quietly. "But looking for Death is not the answer. Looking for Healers, researching the disease... you're scrambling at straws, Harry. You need to spend time with Draco, not look for a way out."
"There has to be a way out, Hermione," Harry said resolutely. He walked over to the door and turned back once. "If I have to talk to Merlin, Death, Fate or whatever the hell is controlling this shit, I'll do it. For him, I'd do anything."
With that, he left, the door closing behind him quietly.
Pacing back and forth in front of the hospital room, Harry grit his teeth as he looked into see them pushing more potions into Draco's mouth. He always felt agitated and shaky when they began Draco's daily treatments. It was near enough to make his heart stop each time Draco turned paler and his face twisted into a grimace.
"Those potions won't make him better."
Harry turned and saw a small girl, standing close to the window, watching Draco. Harry looked at her- it seemed strange to see such an innocent face, with such dark hair and eyes and a pale pink dress on, in the middle of a hospital.
"Well, the Healers say you never know," Harry said, aware that his own voice sounded hopeless. "Where are you parents? You shouldn't be walking alone..."
Harry looked around but saw no one other than Healers and patients walking about.
"I can help."
"Pardon?" Harry stared at the small girl, watching as she turned towards him and smiled slightly, looking angelic.
"I said, I can help. I can make him better. If you would... like me to?"
Harry closed his eyes and shook his head. Great, now I'm going crazy. "I'm sorry, sweetheart, but I'm afraid he's really sick... beyond our help."
She smiled wider, and Harry felt a sense of uneasiness. "You've been looking for me in all the wrong places, Harry Potter."
Blinking rapidly, Harry watched as the girl turned and started to walk towards the end of the hall. She turned back once, waving her hand, looking to all the world like a little girl waiting for someone to help her open the door.
Looking back once at Draco's pale grey eyes through the window, Harry turned and followed the girl out of the hospital.
"Er... where are we? And, who, may I ask, are you?" Harry asked nervously, looking around the square garden behind the hospital that the little girl had brought him to.
"You ask questions that you already know the answer to."
He looked over to where the girl sat on a bench, twirling two daisies in her small hand. Walking over, he sat next to her and took a deep breath.
"I have to admit... I didn't think Death would take the form of some small girl."
She turned towards him and raised an eyebrow. "I'm Death. I can take the form of anything I want."
"Right. Well... why are you here now? I've been looking for you for a month now."
"I know. I told you, you've been looking in the wrong places. No bridges necessary. All you had to do, was, well obvious."
"And what was that?"
She looked at him, a bit sadly. "Be around someone who is about to die."
Harry's brows knitted in confusion. "I wasn't around anyone, I was just with Draco-"
He stopped with a choked word. Someone who is about to die. Draco... Draco is about to die.
"He..." Harry's breath came shallowly and he whispered the last part. "He's about to die?"
Sighing, the little girl nodded and faced the flowers in the garden. "Look at all of these beautiful flowers. They're so full of life, right? So full of ambition to grow taller, look prettier, smell the best. However, with one pluck, you can rid them of everything. Sure, they look good for a bit longer, retaining their beauty, but in only a few days, they will wilt and wither into dust."
Swallowing thickly, he watched as she plucked each petal from one of the daisies in her hand.
"You can't take him from me. Please." Harry's throat clenched around the begging word. "After everything, everyone that you've already taken."
"First off," she said in a suddenly brittle tone. "I did not take them of my own accord! They succumbed to what Fate had in store for them! My only job is to help them cross. And, secondly, everyone has to die eventually, Harry."
She became solemn and looked back at the daisies.
"I know, but-"
"What will you do when Hermione, Ron, Mrs. Weasley or one of the others you are close to are dying? Will you simply go and look around for me and beg me to leave them as well?"
"No, I just-"
"You will. You and everyone else have always wanted one thing for me- for me to leave their loved ones alone." She shook her head. "I'm sorry Harry, but I just can't. It'll upset the balance."
"The balance?" Harry asked, feeling steadily more desolate with each response from Death.
"There is a balance for everything. Between the Living and the Dead, between Magic and Muggle, between Love and Hate. You can't upset the balance."
"What about when you gave the invisibility cloak to my ancestor? That's helped to avoid Death for a lot of people since then!"
The girl bristled and looked over. "I eventually took Ignotus across."
"Yeah, but, I mean- don't you want it back? That way you would never have to worry about people hiding from you..."
She clenched and unclenched the daisy's stems. "I would like it back. The Fates always told me someone would give it back to me."
Harry pulled his silky cloak out from the inside of his cloak, where he always kept it just in case. "I- my father gave it to me. It's the only thing I have from him."
"Well." Death stood up and brushed her hands down her pink, ruffled dress. "No problem. I'll just go fetch Draco then. Shall I give you a few minutes to say goodbye?"
Harry stood up so suddenly that it took her by surprise. "I didn't say I wouldn't make the trade! I do want to!"
"What about later? When one of your other loved ones die? Then you won't have anything left to trade." She stared at him through those dark eyes and a shiver ran down Harry's spine.
"I, er, will just have to let Fate do it's thing then."
"Perfect," she grinned. She plucked the cloak out of Harry's hands. "Go on, your lover should be fine by tomorrow morning."
"Really?" Harry asked eagerly, already heading towards the hospital.
"Oh, and Harry?"
He looked back to see the little girl handing her daisy to him. "Just a reminder- you can't mess with Fate again."
She twirled in her dress and was suddenly gone. Harry looked down to see the daisy wilt and die slowly in his hand until all that was left was dust.
"Harry!" Draco sat up when Harry walked into the door, and had a wide smile on his face. "Guess what? The Healers said that the potions are working! They said I'm getting better- for real!"
With a relieved sigh, Harry walked over in three quick strides and leaned down to kiss Draco's forehead. "That's- that's wonderful."
"I know! I don't know what happened! They said it was like a miracle or something!"
Running his hand down Draco's face, he saw that his skin was slightly less pale and his eyes did not look so pained anymore.
"Miracle or Fate, it doesn't matter," Harry smiled down at him. He felt his vision blur when tears welled in his eyes from happiness. "I will love you until my very last breath."
"Harry are you okay?" Draco asked, leaning his cheek into Harry's hand. "You look like you've seen a banshee."
"Worse," Harry laughed, sitting on the edge of Draco's bed. "But everything is going to be okay now."
Draco smiled at him and leaned in, kissing him within an inch of his life.
A/N: Please review and tell me what you thought about the story!