Author's Note: Heh, I got sidetracked again. So I realize that I spend much too much time fretting over Draco's character when I never really go into depth with Harry's. I guess I usually feel that Harry's has already been done by our lovely J.K. Rowling, but I don't see any harm in exploring him further, maybe adding a few things here and there. The point is, I'd like to give it a try. This is in first person Harry's POV, which is different for me, and it's kind of like a diary format. So... here we are.

Disclaimer: Like mentioned, lovely J.K. Rowling is lovely. These characters are her bitches, not mine.

~x~x~x~x~x~x~x~

There is nothing worse than being absolutely alone when you've got nothing to lose.

Someone says this.

Sitting here all by myself in my old dorm, I can't say that I agree. In the midst of war, you are always left to face your rival alone when it comes down to it. I guess I am now. I'm not going to say that it has been the high of my life, but there are much worse things to worry about, like death, agony... love. In my case, which I've been told is a very special case indeed; I am alone because of all of those things. I don't feel special at all. I sort of feel more like an outcast nowadays. Sometimes it makes me wonder whether the people who follow me actually believe that I can win this fight or if they just don't have anybody else to look to... Like perhaps I am their last resort. Sometimes I feel like it's a mix of both, but it's okay. Honest to Merlin, I wouldn't trust me either.

It has been a rough few months for me, and sometimes I don't even know why I'm still going. I'm not even sure if I am still going. I like to pretend that I am but I guess I'm not very good at pretending because I often hear people around me say that I've been too quiet lately, too distant. And now that I think about it, I suppose that I have. But it doesn't seem like something I can control anymore. I can't keep a proper conversation without getting frustrated, or sidetracked, or just plain sad; all that I have are empty words. And maybe because of that it's become what I am. Empty.

I can tell that my old classmates don't know how to deal with me anymore. They only speak softly to me now, mindless promises and encouragements, as it is something of a formality or perhaps just habit. I don't get angry with them for it any longer, there's no use. I know that I'm not much fun to be around at all and they're not much fun either. All I receive are lectures. Do this. Do that. Don't say those things. Don't act like that. You need to stay strong. You need to stay optimistic.

Day after day, it's the same fucking thing.

There are attempts of advice from my old friends though. I listen to them sometimes, but it gets difficult. Seamus says that I have to stop beating myself up everyday; Dean says to appreciate that we have made it this far. Luna says that I should be thankful that the Nargles haven't gotten to me. I try to keep up with them, but nothing that they say will solve my problems. I know that they're trying to help me, that they want me to be happy, but I feel as if all they have are pointless instructions to a manual that I can't even bring myself to read. I feel so fucking incompetent all of the time. Why can't I do anything anymore? Why is everything so blurry and wrong? I can't even make sense of anything anymore because whenever I had lost my way before, Ron had put me back together, or Hermione, or Dumbledore. Now, it is just myself, and I don't know how to be that. Every person, every memory, and every joy has been ripped from my grasp and shredded up into tiny, nonexistent pieces until I might have nothing left.

And I have near to nothing left.

Despite my friends, I am close to no one here. Sure, I have people that I can talk to, but I can't find the will to try. Everyone I used to know has drifted off in some way, into his or her own little world of fear and denial. So have I, anyways. I know that there are still people who have stayed true and supportive of me, who will go out of their ways to interact with me sometimes, but I find it difficult to be around them as well. It just makes me feel sad and anxious and old. Do they know what they're doing? Why put so much trust in some fucked up kid who can't even bring himself to care?

And I don't care. Everyone I used to love is dead.

Ginny is gone. I can remember her so vividly, so vividly that it is almost like she is here with me now. I can imagine her infectious laughter, her brown eyes, and her long hair, even her cranky moods... All of those little things that I'll never get to know again. She's another victim of the war, just like everything else in my life, just like everything else that has been taken from me. I loved her with all that I had. And maybe she didn't understand the way I loved her, and maybe I never had the guts to explain, but I did love her, and it doesn't seem to matter anymore. I wish I could let her know. I'd do anything to see her smile at me, or frown at me, or yell at me. It doesn't matter what she says or does, I just wish that she would.

I hope she is watching me and that she knows that. I hope that she is sitting right next to Fred and Lupin and Tonks and... Ron... and Hermione... and I hope they are all well. I hope to Merlin that my best friends understand why I can't talk about them with anyone anymore, that it hurts too much, and that I am so sorry. I can't even think of Ron and Hermione like I think of Ginny and her hair and her laugh, because with them, I can only think of their deaths. On that night, Voldemort had made me watch him murder them, made me watch until the very moment when the last bit of life left each of their anguished bodies. I remember it too clearly. He left me with what remained of them until my throat ached from screaming and my eyes were swollen shut and I had absolutely no will to live anymore. But gods, Voldemort made sure to spare me, just that once, so I could truly and finally understand how it feels to be so alone. It is my worst fear, being alone, and he had made it come alive in the very worst form that night.

I am so alone without them, all of them, so alone that I don't even think I can explain it properly. I don't want to try it because I think I'll just break again. I hate crying, I hate how it feels; it's this shrill, dry, choking sound, background noise while I am physically tearing my heart out of my chest. I suppose that it wouldn't even make a difference if I had no heart at all. What point is there anyway? My heart is already dead. It died along with my friends, my family, my classmates... and perhaps worst of all, faithful strangers I didn't even have the chance to know. And... My best friends. I think that their deaths had been the last straw. The last time I can ever remember thinking that maybe there was some hope in the world, Ron and Hermione had been holding hands, both smiling at me. To me, they were my last coherent, happy thoughts. I have not had one since. Not one. Voldemort knows this too, and he relishes in it. Because he knows how it feels, and he wants to share every bit of agony by destroying the only ones I was ever sure I had loved unconditionally, the only ones I was ever sure had loved me back just the same. The bastard knew all too well.

What is love, anyways? Is this love that I am fighting for, or war? If I had truly loved everyone so damned much, how could I even think of letting them all sacrifice themselves for this? How could I have let them fight my battle? How could I have let them leave me like that? The irony is so blatant and cruel and unfair I can hardly stand it. I know that the guilt is eating away at me, slowly invading my brain and driving me to madness, but somewhere in my deep, twisted mind I want it to. I know that I deserve every bit of agony that comes with it. This pain of my losses has opened my eyes to the world, a world that is pitiless and harsh and everything that I didn't want to believe it was, but it is. Now I realise that love can't prevent any of that. How could I have forgotten? My parents had died for it. We are all dying for it. It's not worth it anymore. I never want to love again… I vow that I'll never love again.

I feel like a part of me is dead, or maybe all of me is. Maybe I am dead. Maybe I'm better off dead. Actually, I know that I would be. Like I said, I have near to nothing left.

Or perhaps just nothing.

~x~

Nowadays I sit alone at the nearly empty Gryffindor table since there aren't many of us left anymore. The scarcity of students around me is almost suffocating. It's funny, because I used to love coming to meals every day and sitting at this table with my friends. I used to feel so proud to be able to call it all mine. But now, I can't even look at it without remembering something terrible and so I usually don't stay very long. There are always those brave kids who still sit here, not out of a feeling of obligation but because they still believe, and sometimes they try to sit with me. I always evade them. Their admiration is so unimaginable; I just want to scream at them. I killed their friends and family. I killed them. I let them all die because I am selfish and stupid and lost. Why don't they understand that?

The entire school is guarded with extra wards and McGonagall is trying hard to save what remains of us. I don't even know how she manages to run this place by her lonesome with all the havoc going on in the castle on most days. She's brave. I know that Dumbledore would have been so proud of her, just as I am. He would have loved to see her finally get the title she deserves, even if it is in the midst of tumultuous times. I think that McGonagall realises this too, because sometimes she gets this faraway look in her eyes that is both sad and happy, and I know that she coops up in the Headmaster's office for hours because she just likes to sit with the portraits. Even with all of her valiant work, however, we all know that Voldemort's return is inevitable and all there is to do is wait… wait until he gets stronger and comes back for me. Honestly, I wish we wouldn't have to wait any longer. I wish we could get it over with already.

I know that some people think it odd how I'm so calm about it, but I know that it is my destiny to die and that they will all be okay even when I am not. No matter what happens to me, I will make sure that Voldemort is terminated and I will make him pay for every single life that he has taken and every broken heart he has caused. And I'll start with mine. Because my life is the only thing that I am certain I can promise to these people in exchange for all the pain I have inflicted upon them. Nobody will admit it, but we all know that the problem is me. Plus, I don't think I would mind dying at all. A bit like falling asleep, so I have been told.

I look around. It is evident that the Slytherin table is sparser than the rest, but of course, it isn't much of a shock. A lot of Slytherins had left with their families at the end of the last battle and now all that is left are the deflectors: the ones who had stayed to fight for our side. Honestly, I think that these Slytherins are the bravest soldiers of all. I can't help but linger over Draco Malfoy a bit longer than the rest, however. I had been surprised to hear that he had defied his parents at the last battle and remained here with the rest of us, because Malfoy, of all people, I would have expected to run tail with his family. He had always stuck with them. Why leave them now? I had once meant to take him aside and ask him why he had done what he did, but I never really got the chance. Now, with a brutal war raging on and everyone I love dead or hurt, those things just aren't so important. I don't have the strength or will to obsess over Draco Malfoy anymore.

I think of how Ron might react to that. Perhaps he'd slap a hand on my shoulder, grin from ear to ear, and crack a smart-arse joke about Malfoy's pointy chin. Hermione might pinch my arm and shoot Ron dirty looks, albeit with a small smile on her lips. And Ginny would be in the seat next to me, tucking her fiery strands behind one ear and observing everything with a grin. They'd all protect me and ask for nothing in return, as they always had. The list goes on, too. Lavender, Colin, Remus, Tonks, Dumbledore, even Snape… I hadn't appreciated these people when I had the chance. And now I don't even have that.

It reminds me that I don't have anything. I don't have anyone.

I get up to leave the Hall because I suddenly feel the gross, ugly urge to cry again and never stop. I can't take it anymore—any of it. Everything is so fucking wrong and horrible and bleak. I can't sit in this room and look at all of these innocent people who have lost somebody important to them for me. I can't look at their faces and not remember them all twisted up in grief and agony at the hands of a war that is my fault. I can't close my eyes and not feel as if the world is weighing down on my shoulders until I'm at my own breaking point, because I am so fucking alone here imagining my friends are with me again even though they never will be. It's just sad, and I just can't.

I push open the doors to the Great Hall and listen to them slam shut with a loud, final echo. At last, silence. The stone walls of the corridor are smooth and cold as I lay my forehead against the surface and sigh. All I can think about is how I will be forever, eternally, and completely alone. Gods. The idea threatens to swallow me whole and choke me to death. It threatens to drag me down to the brink of insanity, stabbing at my heart with searing, razor-sharp blades. Absently, I wonder how long it would take me to die from it, and whether or not I would care if I did. (No, I decide, I wouldn't.)

Before I have the chance to find out, there is suddenly a warm hand on my shoulder. The hand squeezes once and then twice, in a manner that suggests genuine comfort and support: two things that I have not felt in many months since the supposed last final battle. I have to forcibly push down the feeling of hope bubbling up in my chest, as it has no reason to belong there.

I turn around.

His grey eyes are studying me and he says my name so softly that I could've imagined it. It is my first name. I only study him back. The man standing in front of me has a notorious record of malevolence, manipulation, cowardice, and deceit. He has never given me anything but trouble. He has been my hated rival and enemy for years and he still treats me to a cold gaze when we meet.

Perhaps most confusing of all, he is Draco Malfoy.

It has been almost a minute and he is still gazing at me. I tilt my head and give him a suspicious look because it is only customary, and because the Slytherin I know would never turn down an opportunity to take the bait. But curiously enough, he doesn't do a thing; his probing eyes remaining round, puzzling orbs of ambiguity. I know that I am now gaping at him in the most uncouth manner, but I can't stop because I have no idea why Draco Malfoy would follow me out of the Hall without any threat on his hands. Everyone tells me that he hasn't changed much from before, that he is still rude and bigoted and arrogant as he ever was. They say that I shouldn't speak with him or even look at him. But over the past few months I have learned that we are all prejudiced bastards, and that at least I am trying not to be one anymore.

I have to smile a little. Besides, when have I ever done what I was told?

He takes a step forward and snaps me out of my thoughts.

"Do you want to talk about it?" he asks. His voice is so uncharacteristically quiet.

Part of me wants him to yell at me, smirk at me, insult me and attempt to hex me with his Slytherin cronies tittering in tow. It isn't so strange. If Malfoy was still acting like Malfoy, maybe I could still pretend that everything was the way it had been then. But it isn't. Some things never change... someone says this as well. Obviously, I don't agree with that either.

"You don't have to tell me anything if you don't want to. I understand. I just thought that you could use someone," he tries again. He scuffles his feet on the stone floor nervously and my eyes follow the trail that they make. There I notice that he is wearing ordinary trainers, not much less battered than my own. The ones he used to make fun of. My throat tightens almost painfully.

"Why are you doing this?" I whisper.

He tilts his head. Blond hair falls over fine eyebrows that used to arch indifferently in my presence. "You saved my life," he whispers back. "Let me save yours."

All I can do is stare again. How on earth had he managed to read me like that, like an open book, the way that Ron and Hermione and Sirius and Remus and Dumbledore and even Snape had learned to? Out of everybody else in the Great Hall, how was it that Malfoy had been the only one to realise that there was something wrong with me? Was it a skill? Was it an acquired habit? Or was it just him?

He seems to have more words than I do tonight and he whispers something else, something unintelligible, to himself. Then he looks back up at me and smiles genuinely. It takes me by surprise… surprise, and unwillingly, hope. He starts to walk away towards an unknown destination down the corridor. Right before he disappears, he glances over his shoulder, and I realise that he means for me to follow him.

And despite all of my reservations and fear and scepticism, I do.

Because with him, at least I won't be alone.

~x~

He takes me places. Not literally, because we can't leave the castle, but he takes me places with his words. He describes old wizard folk tales, vacation resorts he's visited, places he's read about in books— they are all completely new to me. I listen and listen and I don't interrupt him, because the sound of his voice reminds me that I am not alone. I like that. He grins at me when I ask for another story, and then another, and then another. Take me with you, I always beg. Take me away from here.

He seems to understand. And he never asks me why, or how, or when. He just knows. And that is what I've discovered I like about him. He is different from everyone else here because he actually spends time with me to spend time with me, not to plot and plan and fawn like the rest. Most people don't have time for me anymore unless it has to do with the war, and I know that they mean well, but they wouldn't sit down and tell me stories like he does. I think that maybe he gets tired of me asking him all the time, but he never complains and he never says no. Perhaps the fragile line between enemies has been broken, I don't know. But I do not call him a friend, I do not call him an acquaintance, I do not call him anything. Because those are the types of people that can be taken from me, and I need him now. He is the only thing that keeps me hanging on.

I have a funny feeling that I am the only thing keeping him hanging on, too.

~x~

We sit together for every meal now and people stare at me when I go to sit down at the Slytherin table with him. I can tell that he is uncomfortable, because almost every day he insists that we can go sit at the Gryffindor table if I'd like, or that I can go ahead and sit there without him. I always tell him no. The truth is, I want to sit with him at the Slytherin table. I like the Slytherin table, because there, nobody is trying to bombard me with anything. And I want to show everybody that there's nothing wrong with that.

Each time I refuse, he gives me that grateful smile that is sweet without the telltale trace of idolisation, and I feel my heart lift, light as air, because he needs me just as much as I need him. I can feel it lifting right now. And that makes me feel better.

~x~

He introduces me to the Slytherin common room, and I show him the Marauder's Map. He teaches me Occulumency, and I help him conjure his Patronus. He shows me how to counter dark spells, and I take him to the Mirror of the Erised. He cries, and I cry. We sneak down secret passageways virtually every night, hidden underneath my invisibility cloak. Not that we ever need it. I just want to be close to him and I think that he wants that too.

Tonight, he takes me down many corridors and up several flights of stairs before I recognise our location. It is the Room of Requirement, standing tall, although the entrance is still charred from our previous adventure. It saddens me for a moment. It seems that nothing has healed completely from the battle, not even the decor.

I look at him. He looks at me. We walk in together, and I'm not sure if he had grabbed for my hand or if I grabbed for his, but as we enter, I feel his nails piercing my flesh. The impact of the memory hits me like a speeding train, because even though the room's magic has morphed the place into a secure little dwelling for the two of us, I hadn't been able to shut out the glimpse of what it had been: the same way we had left it so many months ago.

I glance up at him and he seems to sense the same thing. He doesn't like to look weak, however, so he doesn't say anything to me. His face is as white as a sheet as he sits down on a cushiony couch and I join him.

"Why did you take me here?" I ask.

His mouth twists in a sort of grimace and he laughs bitterly. "I've been this way for so long that I don't even know why I do anything anymore," he retorts. "Merlin, I didn't mean to. I'm fucked up."

I nod, because I understand what he means. I feel like that all of the time. We sit in silence for a while.

"I'm sorry," I blurt out suddenly. I am not sure if he has heard me, because he does not turn.

He does. "Me too."

He glances around the room and I look away, because looking at it too much makes me sick. He follows my gaze and understands. We are quiet again. Soon, he takes my hand and guides me out, and instead of taking me to Gryffindor, he leads me straight to the dungeons. There he peeks at me again, his gaze silent and questioning—he doesn't need to say anything because I understand. I nod, and he smiles and whispers the password. He has his own room, because he is Head Boy. Not that it matters much now since House points and values are rarely enforced anymore, but I am grateful for the privacy all the same. He gives me the bed because he feels sorry for bringing me to the RoR, and I allow him to because I know that he won't let me refuse.

In his bed, I feel alone. Even though I know that he is there in the room with me, I do not feel his presence. The anxiety threatens to overwhelm me again and I feel my heart start to race in panic. So I tug him up from his place on the floor and nestle myself in his arms because there I am not alone. And he allows me to because he knows that I won't let him refuse.

~x~

I sleep in his bed every night now.

~x~

It has been more than a year since there has been any sign of Voldemort near Hogwarts again, and because of this, we are finally allowed to expand our boundaries of exploration to the lake. Draco loves the lake. He insists that we go there whenever we have free time, so we do. He likes to sit on the gravel so close that the water touches his toes when it rolls in.

We sit like that most days and talk: about nothing and everything. Sometimes we reminiscence. Sometimes he teases me about my clothes and sometimes I tease him about his hair. Sometimes he tells me about his parents and sometimes I tell him about mine.

And with him, I am whole again. I am not sure how long it's been since I've felt this way—too long. Maybe never. Because I have certainly not felt it with Cho, not with Ginny, not with anybody else in the entire world. It is just him.

"You are sad," he observes one day. He shivers as the icy water touches his bare toes.

"Yes," I say, and that is all I give him.

~x~

I wake up screaming, clutching my pillow in terror as hot tears blind me from anything but my nightmares. It is all agony. Grief. Nothingness.

I see myself raking across Ron's bloodstained shirt with a thin, silver knife. I hear myself cackle as I inflict Hermione's sickening, tortured screams with the knife, hear her sob uncontrollably when she realises that that same knife had slashed through her best friend's heart. I watch myself hurl the killing curse at Dumbledore as he falls from the Astronomy Tower. I stare into Fred's lifeless eyes when he collapses to the floor before me. I drink in Snape's last words before I send Nagini at his neck.

It was me. It was all me. They're dead.

Because of me.

My fault.

Nothingness.

Draco takes me in his arms and does not say a word as I cry about everyone and everything at once. It hurts so much that I can hardly bear it. What is wrong with me? Why can't I stop this pain? Draco is the only one who can numb it. I can't help but wonder why he is still here with me. He should have run away by now; they all have. He has seen every side of me and he knows that I am a complete wreck. Yet he strokes my hair and wipes away my tears even though they are still coming. He just keeps wiping them away.

"I'm sorry," I whimper. "I'm sorry." And I am. It has become my mantra and I have to tell him that every day. Because maybe he doesn't know. Or maybe he's forgotten.

"Stop being sorry," he commands me. His grey eyes are bright and brimming with wetness. "You can't live life like this anymore, Harry. It's not healthy."

I glare at him, because I don't know what else to do. "But I am sorry! I'm sorry that I didn't want to be your friend in first year, I'm sorry that I laughed when you got turned into a ferret, I'm sorry that I almost killed you in that bathroom, I'm sorry that you had to betray your own family by staying here and," I can feel my breath coming out in short, choked rasps, "I'm sorry that I couldn't save your friends or stop him the last time. I'm sorry that I'm not strong enough to hold it together on my own. I'm just so, so sorry."

He gives me a peculiar look. He gets up from the bed then and places his hands on his hips, glaring at me. For a moment, it reminds me of our school days. "You don't have to save the whole damned world, you know that?" he yells.

"Yes I do!" I yell back. "Who the fuck else is going to do it?"

He's stunned for a moment, and I think that I have won this round. But instead he lunges forward and unexpectedly pulls me into a tight embrace.

"What are you doing?" I yell again, this time in confusion.

"Saving you," he replies simply.

He leans back and his grey eyes study me once more, as they often do when we are close. I take one look into them and I'm lost— so lost that I don't think I'll ever recover again. For some reason it doesn't bother me, because I know that he is there, getting lost with me too. And he understands this, as he always does.

So he kisses me.

And I kiss him back.

And for the first time in forever, I do not feel alone. I'm alive again, I'm alive and free and happy and wild. You know. He's given me that with one simple kiss.

~x~

That is how he comforts me and I comfort him.

He hurts, I hurt, I kiss him, he kisses me, and we are boundless. Forever. Suddenly, I have a best friend again.

And I can't help but feel happy. Is it awful for me to feel happy when there are so many people who are dead? I think it is. Yes, I know it is. I hate myself for feeling that way during such a difficult time, because I should be grieving over my loved ones. I owe them everything. I owe them my life and I don't want to leave them behind. My brain refuses to leave them behind.

I start having dreams at night where I am running at top speed and Ron or Hermione or Sirius or even my parents are chasing me and screaming at me to stop. But I won't, and I can't make myself stop, even though I desperately want to. Don't forget us, they cry. Please, wait!

I never do.

Even when I wake I feel as if I am still running, yearning for air and sanity and relief. But every time it happens Draco takes me in his arms and he holds me and never says a word, and I am okay again. This I am grateful for.

But one night, I have a different dream. I am running and Draco is beside me. We run and we run and he laughs and kisses me and I laugh and kiss him back. Then suddenly, Voldemort is chasing us, and he is screaming. He will die, he cries. He will die because of you!

And to my utter horror, I stop running and Draco holds my hand. I yell at him to keep going but he only grips me tighter. Voldemort catches up then and he kills Draco right there in front of me. Except when he does it, it isn't him who laughs with glee. It's me.

I wake up gasping and bawling again, and Draco is immediately there surrounding me with his ever-present arms. And I cry harder and harder as I realise that I'm leading him to his demise by letting him. I can't let him. I can't have him taken from me too. He is everything.

"You love me?" I sob.

"I love you," he confirms with certainty.

I shake my head no. Gods, is it possible to feel both ecstatic and hopeless at the same time? "Stop," I beg him. "Stop loving me."

He frowns and looks at me as if it's the simplest and most obvious answer in the whole world.

"I can't."

I turn from him and cry for what seems like hours. Because he can't stop himself from loving me and I can't stop myself from loving him back. I remember how I swore that I would never love again and how I had believed it so much… and then Draco came along. He's ruined my promise to myself, just like he's ruined all of my countless schemes and trials in the past. But this time, he didn't mean to.

"I hate you," I blubber, covering my face with my hands because I know that I truly, wholly, and completely don't.

He smiles strangely and hugs me tighter. "I know."

I want to tell him to leave me alone, because he's being stupid and lovely and perfect and it's making me love him even more. But I don't shove him away, and he doesn't let go.

~x~

I have to push him out: there's no other way. I try to be as terrible as I can, pushing and shoving and punching him, but it does nothing to deter him. I then resort to screaming and lunging and throwing every insult I could possibly think of at him but he still refuses to budge. He doesn't, because he can see through my lies. He was always good at that. I end up losing every time. I know this, he knows this, but I still continue to try for him. Voldemort is not gone, this I'm sure of, and I can't have Draco around when he comes back for me. I refuse to think of it. If I lose him, that will be the absolute end, and I will cease to exist no matter what Voldemort does to my body. When I was dead inside, Draco had been the only one to revive me. He will always be the only one. He is all I have left.

"Why are you doing this?" he asks one day, after a particularly nasty fight. He licks his finger and gently wipes a streak of blood from my cheek. I flinch away a bit.

"You saved my life, Draco," I whisper, almost inaudibly. "Let me save yours."

His steely grey eyes harden when he remembers the words. "But you always save me," he argues. "It's my turn now."

"Please. Don't leave me like the others," I plead. "I've lost everything else, I can't lose you too."

He pauses and stares at me for a moment. "Will you still love me, Harry?" he asks. "After I'm gone?"

It hurts. I laugh anyways. "I'll always love you."

He leans forward and kisses me on the mouth softly. His lips are warm and they taste like him, familiar, with a hint of honey. I close my eyes and take it all in. It feels as if I am falling into an endless cavern, I love him so much.

I know that he understands now, because he always understands. And so after he kisses me, he turns around and leaves without another word because he knows that it is what I need of him. By nightfall, Professor McGonagall has sent him off with the Order. When he is gone, my heart breaks over and over, because it is almost as if the part of me that he had slowly been reconstructing is crumbling apart once more. Even though I know that he is doing this for me, I want to blame him and yell at him and hate him for loving me... and I know that's why it hurts; he loves me so much that because of it it's almost as if he never did. That maybe all those years we hated each other wasn't so different from right now.

So here I am, alone again. There is no one to hold me when I wake up weeping in the middle of the night, no one to sneak around the corridors with, no one to sit with at mealtimes, no one to take me to the lake. No one. When I scream and cry and have a fit, nobody cares anymore, nobody gives a shit about what I do. Voldemort has done it again, although he doesn't know it. He has given me loneliness once more.

I guess I've lost my best friend all over again.

The only thing that keeps me going is the fact that somewhere out there… he is fighting for the right to see me again too. I know that we will. I pray that we will.

~x~

It has taken two more years to finally defeat Voldemort, two whole years of my life that I had whittled away at Hogwarts in wait. During this time, I have watched more friends die, more lives sacrificed, more misery and terror in the eyes of the now-deceased. I have had more nightmares, more soundless sobs, and more sleepless nights.

But... I have defeated him.

I have defeated him for the wizarding world. I have defeated him for Ron, for Hermione, for Sirius, my parents, Ginny, Colin, Snape, Dumbledore, and the like. I have defeated him for my own slowly deteriorating sanity.

But for right now, I have defeated him for Draco.

I am aware that a lot can happen in two years. I haven't spoken to or heard from the man I fell in love with in the musty, demolished corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; the last I heard, he was forming battle tactics with the Order. Despite this separation, I am certain that nothing has changed. I can still feel our last kiss on my lips.

I owl him from my lone dorm in Gryffindor Tower the very second I am able to, but I get no immediate reply. I stand there vacantly for a while. For some reason, I do not wish to leave my room, and they don't make me go. Part of me realises that while I am still in this place, I can pretend that nothing has changed… that my dorm mates might come trampling in any second now and ask me if they can copy my Charms essay, that I might sneak over to Ron's trunk and steal one of his chocolate frogs and maybe an extra quill, that I might lie down on my bed and only think about girls and the upcoming match and what I'll eat for breakfast the next morning.

But I know that I have to let it go, sometime.

I look through my old school trunk and find faded Quidditch magazines and miniscule notes with the scraggly handwriting of Ron and me. A strange wave of finality washes over me and I suddenly feel old and tired again, like I don't belong here. I think that it is time to leave now. This is the end of an era, an era that I never thought I'd see the end of. This is the end of rampaging dormmates, of Charms essays, of chocolate frogs and sugar quills, of House Quidditch matches and of schoolboy notes. This isn't who I am anymore and for the first time in a long time, I don't want to be. I am ready to let go.

I stand up from my spot on Ron's bed and carefully place the tiny golden snitch I'd been toying with into a nearby dresser drawer. Maybe one day, a scrawny little boy in oversized clothes and broken glasses will come here and find this snitch and a home in this place that I had loved for so many years. I really hope that he will love it too. As I head towards the door, I take one last glance at my surroundings and try to capture every last memory in my brain and keep it there. I will not be coming back. And that's okay.

I don't know where my legs are taking me and I don't try to control them as they lead me outside. I soon realise that they are indeed taking me towards the lake, towards the very spot Draco and I had loved to occupy so long ago. I haven't been here in a while but the memory doesn't ache anymore. I think I have accepted a lot of things lately. As I arrive by the lakeside, I sit down on the rock that Draco had loved to sit on because it was curiously shaped like an armchair and wade my toes in the water that has since risen to higher levels. I wonder if Draco is finally trying to figure himself out, too. Maybe he's moved on. I know that I never will. The cold water splashes onto my toes and I draw back tetchily, hissing a bit and squirming for warmth. I had almost forgotten how freezing the lake was.

"Practising for the ballet, Potter?"

I have heard that voice so frequently in my dreams that I do not react at first. But as I turn my head, he is standing there, and he's real. The crooked smile is still etched on his face as if he'd never left.

I don't know how, but instantly I am flying into his arms and he is holding me again for the first time in two years. I can't stop the tears from flowing out of my eyes and I cry and cry, but not because I am heartbroken. Because he is here, and not dead. Because I am here, and not dead. Because we are not dead together, at long last.

"You don't have to save the whole damned world, you know that?" he teases. I almost start sobbing again out of sheer relief and joy from hearing his beautiful, familiar voice again, to know that he hasn't moved on and he still loves me and that I still love him back. The desolate feeling of hopeless love isn't haunting me anymore. I remember now. I finally remember why love is worth it. He's given me that too.

"Yes I do," I respond dryly. "Who the fuck else is going to do it?"

He looks at me. I look at him.

We laugh.

And oh, it is glorious to laugh with him again.

"You aren't sad anymore," he observes.

"No," I say, and he kisses me because that is all I give him, and it is perfect.

We have saved each other.

Author's Note: Cheesy fluffiness cheese. Very different, yeah? It's sort of grimmer than anything I have ever written before, which is a bit sad, but hey, there's a first time for everything. And then I couldn't help the fluffy end because I am just a fluff kind of person.

I guess you could say that I sort of based my Harry off of a mix of two other very famous boys in literature, Holden Caulfield and Charlie. I just really like both of those books, okay? And the funny thing is that the whole time I was writing this I had "Asleep" by the Smiths on repeat, because it really is a good song, and it totally amped up my 'Charlie' vibe. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'll be happy to tell you after you review ;)

Huh? Is that me asking for reviews again? Tsk tsk. I'll never learn. Until next time!