Disclaimer: I don't own, nor do I profit from, Harry Potter. This is just for fun, dearies.
Dedication: This idea for this fic was originally posed to me by a gifted writer named Tsuki Kurai. She wanted me to write a fic where Draco saw himself and Harry in the Mirror of Erised. Now, due to the dreaded and abhorred things called "school finals," as well as my (almost legendary! or not…)laziness, this girl's had to wait a pretty damn long time for this fic…so let's all giver her a hand, shall we? #People cheer and hoot and clap in background# So, as a side note to Tsuki, I'd just like to say that I'm sorry I took so long with this; I hope you like it, at least…it's not exactly, er…how shall I say this?…nice. I don't think it's really what you had in mind, but my angst muse was being a bitch and urging me to do things her way, so here you go. =^.^=
"Mirror, Mirror / On the wall, / No one's there / To catch my fall. / I wish I may, / I wish I might, / Tell someone / About my plight. / The gentle breeze / Blows me away / Into another place. / The only one / Who sees me thus is you, / My mirror, mirror / On the wall." --Miranda M
There was a sickness inside of him, so he was weak.
It was the thing that clawed through his flesh to make him scream in pain when no one was around; it was the thing that devoured his spirit, and left him pale and gaunt-faced; it was the thing that took away the sparkle in his eyes and left them dull and uncaring, with shadows for company.
He wasn't sure why exactly it was him afflicted with such a thing; he supposed he deserved it.
He wished he didn't.
He remembered a time when the world seemed so simple, so straightforward, but now that the days were shorter he found everything to be so…different.
Incredibly, ironically, irrevocably different, and he wished he was a child again.
But childhood was long past for this boy; he was young, only just seventeen, but days of innocence were, for him, long past.
He wasn't sure when the transition of changing from a child to something more occurred; he only knew that it had.
Perhaps there was an instant, a single second in the span of time, where this had happened, and he simply never noticed.
Or maybe it was more gradual.
He wasn't sure, and found he had no time for such speculations anymore, anyway.
No; no thoughts like those came to Draco Malfoy these days; he was too busy being consumed by his secrets.
Perhaps you already guessed one of them; Draco Malfoy was ill. Deathly, damnably unwell with an ailment that crawled through his body and gnawed on his bones and made him shut himself inside the comfort of his room—a small privilege of being Head Boy—where he would lie down and sweat and scream and rage at the unfairness of it all while his hands clenched into useless fists and he bit so harshly at his lower lip that he drew blood.
Draco Malfoy had cancer.
Yes, that's right—Draco Malfoy, darling prince of his pureblooded heritage, pretty boy, rich kid, and all-around snob—was dying.
He'd found out in sixth year. Lucius and Narcissa had, of course, taken him to every Witch, every Wizard, every fake and half-baked wanna-be with some claim to Medical expertise in the Magical World, but to no avail.
There was simply nothing to be done, no chance at recovery.
His only hope for survival, they'd been informed, was in Muggle medicine.
That was just not an option; not if you were a Malfoy.
"You understand, don't you, dear? We can't subject you to that. They'd only kill you faster, sully our reputation, ruin our community's memory of you! Please, Draco, darling, tell me you understand," his mother had said.
"Of course I understand, Mother," he'd replied, shell-shocked.
But he didn't understand—he didn't see why his parents didn't love him enough, their own child, to make sure that he would live, even at the expense of having to associate with--rely upon--the lowly Muggles.
But he said he understood.
He'd remained at Hogwarts, despite his parents' protests that he should live out his last years (months? weeks? days?) comfortably; he had to keep some semblance of pride.
He didn't think any of the people at Hogwarts knew—none of his classmates, at least. The teachers surely did, and it had been a source of mild interest to some of the people in his year to know why exactly Draco Malfoy was given more "special treatment" than anyone else.
They resented the fact that he was singled out—protected—given more slack and consideration than anyone else could expect.
Oh, if they only knew.
They never seemed to notice the way he'd changed. He was quieter now, less steady on his feet…so incredibly fragile. And that fact, that frailty, was what Draco hated most.
There was still one thing, one person, that Draco loathed more than anything or anybody else.
Harold James Potter.
Those three little words, that one noble boy, had so long been the center of Draco's existence…it seemed to Draco that the only thing that could rock the foundation of his concrete world more that the news of his impending demise would be if he woke up one day in a time and a place with no Harry Potter in it.
It was absolutely…unthinkable.
And that leads us to secret number two.
Draco Malfoy was infatuated with Harry Potter.
It was obvious, really, to anyone with eyes, but no one had ever tried…had ever dared…to look at what was right in front of them.
It wasn't love, exactly; at least, Draco would never admit to that.
It was more like a kind of--purpose. A belief that, yes, it was really worth it to get up in the morning and pretend to give a damn about flobber worms and transforming teakettles and whatnot, if only to get a glimpse of flashing, taped-up spectacles with blazing jade beneath, or hear a hint of a mellow, soothing sound in the air, drifting from the scarred boy's sweet mouth onto the wind to brush his cheeks like imaginary kisses.
But it wasn't love—it was just… fixation. An addiction, if you will.
On a good day (if there ever was such a thing in the life of the fading Malfoy), Draco might even admit that he had a very strange, very twisted sort of—of—attraction to the other boy.
It was a fucked-up fascination for someone he'd never be; a thing he'd never have.
But it wasn't love.
Draco Malfoy couldn't afford to love anyone, nowadays.
"Move out of the way, nitwits," he sneered.
"Why don't you make us?" Ron responded, turning around and halting deliberately.
"Oh, you Weasleys; always trying to prolong a brush with greatness. I suppose you'll be wanting to kiss the hem of my robes next, isn't that right?" said Draco, tone absolutely liquid with condescension.
"Why, you little--" began the redhead, stepping forward for physical retaliation.
"Ron! No, we'll only get into trouble!" began Hermione.
"Yeah, come on, Ron. Just leave it. He's not worth it," said Harry.
He's not worth it…isn't that what his parents thought, too? He's not worth it. He's nothing.
The words did far more damage than anyone would have thought; more than Draco was willing to show.
It seemed the short-tempered hothead was actually listening, for once, for he reluctantly began to turn around again, continuing his interrupted journey to class.
Draco let out a long, slow chuckle, loud in the sudden silence of the hall.
"And so they make their hasty retreat, tails between their legs like naughty dogs. Oh, but wait—that's an insult to the dogs," he said, sneer spreading smoothly into place.
The reaction was instant; a freckled fist came flying at his face, slamming into the right side of his jaw with the stark impact of a sledgehammer crashing through a pillow.
Draco was knocked against the wall, his head making a loud "thump!" against the stone.
He slid limply down and didn't rise.
"Fight! Fight! Fight!" chanted the crowd.
"Not so tough without your two goons, are you?!" shouted Ron, loyal friends flanking his side, holding him back.
Draco, with great difficulty, raised his head and…smiled.
He didn't care anymore; couldn't anyone see that he just didn't care anymore?
"Can't you see, you stupid git? You're not even real to me."
His statement was met with uncomprehending faces from the captivated audience, but he didn't care; he forced a weak chuckle from his injured mouth, seeming not to notice how the blood dribbled out over his lips and down his chin.
"Hermione, walk Ron to class, will you?" said Harry, seriously concerned about the mental state of the pale boy on the floor in front of him.
"But Harry--" she began.
"Just do it," he said, cutting off her protest and ignoring Ron's objections.
"And the rest of you, go on to class. You're all going to be late if you don't," he continued.
His classmates, after some deliberation amongst themselves, grudgingly complied.
"Now for you, Malfoy. We've got to get you to the Infirmary. Malfoy? Malfoy?! Draco, come on, stay awake, please, stay awake!"
But the blonde was tired…so, so tired.
"Upsie daisy, Mr. Malfoy. You need to drink this; then you can rest."
Draco groggily opened his eyes, only to be greeted with the less-than-welcome face of Madame Pomfrey, the school nurse.
"There you go!" she said, shoving a spoonful of some unknown substance into his mouth before he'd even had a chance to blink.
He swallowed, under duress, letting the bitter liquid slide down his tongue down to his toes.
"There, that should help with the pain. I've already done what I can for your jaw; it will be a bit sore for the next few days. Now, your food will be along shortly; then you can rest a bit more. With any luck, you'll be able to be released tomorrow morning."
"Doesn't that seem a bit excessive?" Draco wanted to ask, but the esteemed nurse had already disappeared in a flurry of movement mere moments before.
Draco sighed, then winced as he realized that it hurt to sigh.
It seemed like everything hurt, these days.
He laid there in silence for a minute and almost drifted off until he heard a few faint sounds in the distance.
It sounded like an intense discussion; Draco strained to hear what was going on.
This renewed concentration proved to be futile, so the Syltherin grabbed his wand from the bedside table and muttered a quick spell.
Within moments, he clearly heard the tense conversation between his eccentric Headmaster and the one-and-only Harry Potter.
"So that's what happened, is it?" asked Dumbledore.
"Yes sir. That's what happened," replied Harry, sounding ashamed.
"I just can't imagine what would posses you to strike young Mr. Malfoy like that. Surely you know that violence won't solve anything."
What? What was going on there? Potter didn't hit him; Weasley did.
"Yes, Headmaster. I know that. I was just…angry."
Blasted Gryffindor. The dummy was trying to take the wrap for his friend! Idiot. Damn idiot.
"If that is the case, then I'm very disappointed in you, Harry."
"I understand, Headmaster. I'm sorry."
"I see, my boy. You just need to learn that there's more to a situation than meets the eye. Try to be a bit more…understanding of Mr. Malfoy's attitude in the future, alright?"
"What do you mean, sir?"
"I'm afraid I can't tell you anything beyond this: he's ill. Extremely ill. Myself and the rest of the staff have know about it for a while now, but the family would rather keep the whole affair quiet, as is their right. I trust you won't break my faith in you by divulging this information to anyone else, correct, Harry?"
"Yes sir. I won't. But…what's wrong with him, sir? Can't it be cured?"
"Not here, Harry. Not here. So far only the Muggles have been able to make any progress in finding a cure for the sort of disease he's got."
"What is it?"
"Chronic Leukaemia, I believe it's called. Very sad thing."
Draco stopped his eavesdropping spell in disgust, hurriedly changing and making his exit to the Syltherin dungeons through the side of the Infirmary furthest away from the wretched conversation.
He hated Hogwarts, he hated Dumbledore, and, oh, how he hated that damn Harry Potter!
Hours later found the school day to be over, with most of the students settled down in bed.
But Draco Malfoy had never been a typical student; he was currently making his nightly rounds as Head Boy, making sure no one was out roaming the grounds without permission after curfew.
Luck was not with him, however, as he soon--quite literally--ran into the object of his tumultuous emotions.
A strong arm wrapped around his waist before he fell, and he was hard-pressed to regain his bearing as quickly as he usually would.
"Let go of me, Potter, before I make your House's Point Total go into the negatives."
"Okay, Malfoy, no need to bite my head off," was the reply, and the warmth of his arm was cautiously removed.
"What are you doing down here, anyway? Come to make a pitiful apology for this afternoon?" asked Draco.
This was, in fact, the reason Harry had stayed up so late and snuck out of his dorm—always the valiant Gryffindor—but he was a bit miffed at the way the other boy had said it.
"Hey, we weren't the ones who started the fight, Malfoy," he began angrily.
"Yes, yes, I'm aware of that. So what the Hell are you down here for, hmm? Did you want me to say 'thank you' for making sure I got medical attention? Do you want to let me know just how sorry you are that I'm dying of Leukaemia?"
"That's not what I—what?"
"Oh, yes, I heard your lovely little conversation with Dumbledore. I know what he told you. Don't look so shocked, Potter."
Confusion and pity were apparent in Harry's eyes, along with compassion and other such things neither boy was willing to think about.
Draco had never felt so shitty as he did then in his entire life.
"Just go away, Potter."
"But I just wanted to apolog--"
"I'm not worth it, okay? Just go away, Harry. Forget about this conversation. Nothing's changed."
"Walk away, Wonderboy. Just this once. Just go."
So Harry Potter left.
He wasn't really sure how'd he'd gotten there, later.
He'd tried to forget the way Harry had looked; the way all that unmanageable hair had framed those wide eyes and accentuated the flash of hurt he'd seen so briefly in the jungle green depths.
He'd tried to push away his thoughts of how secure he'd felt, being supported by the unbreakable Boy Who Lived; how he'd felt a strange tugging on his chest that sent a fierce surge of security and contentment tingling all through his nerves while Harry was there, keeping him anchored in reality and protected from the things outside their own little world.
He'd tried, and failed.
And so it was with a heavy heart and great discontent that he found himself wandering aimlessly through the southern corridors, not so much patrolling now—just drifting through the Halls as he tried to escape unwanted thoughts.
It was a great surprise to him when he found himself in an old storage room a little while later, stirring up layers of dust and ancient spider webs while he wondered where he was.
And that's when he saw it; tall; lonely; partially obscured by an old cloth covering.
His interest was roused, and, for lack of anything better to do at the moment, he removed the moth-eaten covering and revealed something he'd only ever read about in history books: The Mirror of Erised.
An ancient engraving, indecipherable to the boy, was sprawled most magnificently across the top; the glass was intact and clear, and Draco saw his own face staring back at him quite plainly, gaping like a landed fish inside the darkened room, before the image clouded and something else entirely was revealed.
There were—clouds. Clouds beyond a bedroom window, and a large white bed, untidy, with the linen sheets ruffled—and there he was. Dewy-eyed and ruddy-cheeked with health, and smiling so broadly it was almost painful to watch.
And then Draco saw what it was that was making the mirror version of himself smile so merrily—Harry Potter, fresh-faced and as messily exquisite as he always was, came romping into the scene, unadorned and unabashed, and the Draco in the mirror laughed as they embraced happily under the sheets--long, lingering kisses and loving, whispered sentiments, craved like candy, completing the picture of forbidden bliss.
It was too much to bear—too much to even think about.
And so Draco Malfoy turned away and cried—cried long and hard that until he couldn't think; till his hands got tangled in the tears and he couldn't breathe.
He wept until he couldn't anymore, and the shaking subsided.
He wept because the thing he wanted most was the thing he'd never have, and what he saw he couldn't even hope for.
He wept because true love can make one weep; it was too late for "hello" and "goodbye" and "I love you;" too late to even dream.
And the only one that saw him was the mirror.
Author's Note: I actually did some research for this fic, as it deals with a very serious illness and should be depicted accurately. You can find more information about Chronic Leukaemia and other illnesses at the Arrow Foundation, available online at http://www.arrow.org.au/diseases.html. There, it explains that "Chronic Leukaemia progresses more slowly than acute leukaemia. Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) occurs most frequently in males aged between 25 and 60. The symptoms can include malaise, fatigue, sweating, pallor, weight loss and bone pain. The condition can be present in the chronic stage for approximately three years before developing into a sometimes treatment-resistant accelerated stage. Diagnosis of leukaemia is made by examination of the blood and bone marrow. Treatments for leukaemia include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and bone marrow / stem cell transplant."
Author's Note: I'm a real bitch, aren't I? So, should I leave it here, or not? We'll see, I suppose. Hope you enjoyed! =^_^=