A/N: I wrote this little piece back in March of 2006. Posted in multiple places, but not here. I decided to put it up now that I'm back in the writing world. Written before Deathly Hallows. A fic inspired for a song and written for a challenge. I used Breaking Benjamin's "So Cold". Slight OOC-ness. Fixed up some things and tweaked some of the wording. My style of writing has changed and matured since I wrote this, but this fic will always have a soft spot in my heart.

Disclaimer: J.K. personally called me up after reading my work and told me I should get it published *snort*

I. Crowded Streets are cleared away, one by one

"Weasley, get down!" Draco shouted as a stream of fire shot out from the end of a Death Eater's wand. He launched himself forward and knocked the redhead to the ground, using his body to protect the other man. The spell narrowly missed his head and instead hit another death eater behind them, engulfing him in flames. The Slytherin looked down at Ron and managed to conjure a trademark sneer.

"Bloody fantastic, Weasel," he exclaimed exasperatedly. "Not only do I have to keep myself alive, but I have to go around saving your arse, too." Ron answered by shoving Draco's head to the side with his left hand and firing an Avada Kedavrawith his other over the blonde's shoulder. Another body dropped to the ground with a sickeningly familiar thud. Rolling himself out from underneath Draco, he stood and shouted another series of spells. Draco moved so that his back was against the redhead's and joined him in hexing the masked men coming towards them. After what felt like an eternity of fighting, they both fell to the ground in exhausted relief. The Slytherin turned to face the Gryffindor, giving him a once over to make sure he wasn't terribly injured.

"Looks like they took a huge piece of your arm," he said, unable to keep the concern out of his voice. Ron looked down at his wound and let out a pained groan.

"Never look at an injury," he grunted. "Seeing it makes it hurt so much worse."

"Big baby," Draco scoffed without any real malice before leaning over and using the appropriate healing spells on the deep cut. Giving the repaired arm a gentle pat, he pulled away and relaxed into his previous position.

"Thanks, Malfoy," he said softly, nudging the other man's knee with his own. Draco simply nodded in response and looked up at the sky, trying his best to ignore the carnage surrounding him. At the start of this battle, there had been hundreds of people in the streets. Now, he could not see another living soul except for the man sitting beside him. For the first time in a long time, everything was quiet; he wanted this moment to last as long as possible. The two men sat in companionable silence, occasionally bumping each other with an elbow or a leg.

"What do we do now?" Ron finally asked, disrupting the calm. "It looks like we're the only people here and I'd very much like to get away from the blood and decaying bodies." Before Draco could respond, a soft pop was heard some distance behind them, indicating an Apparation. Both had turned with their wands out within a second of hearing the noise. Seeing a head of unruly black hair that could only belong to one person, Ron let out a whoop of excitement and ran to meet his best mate.

"Oy, Harry," he called, "we were just wondering where everybody was." Leaning in to embrace his fellow Gryffindor, he immediately sensed something was wrong when the hug was not returned with as much enthusiasm. Pulling back to look into his eyes, he gave Harry's arm a squeeze. "What's wrong?"

"I tried, Ron," he said softly, unable to look the redhead in the eyes. "It was too late."

"You're going to have to give me a little bit more information, mate," the slightly taller man said with a nervous laugh. "I've no idea what you're on about."

"It's Fred, Ron." Harry finally met his eyes and let out a shuddering sigh. "I'm sorry." For a moment, the redhead merely stood there, seemingly unemotional.

"Thank you for telling me," he said eventually, walking over to what used to be Honeydukes and sitting against the wall. Draco, who'd been standing further away as to not intrude on the conversation, made his way to the dark-haired man.

"Who was it?" he inquired.


Draco nodded in understanding. "Perhaps you should head back to Order Headquarters," the blonde suggested, "I'll stay with Weasley." After some back and forth bickering, Harry finally relented and Apparated. Draco turned back towards Ron and gently
pulled him up.

"Are you okay?" he asked, turning the Gryffindor's head to face him. His face was flushed red, as though he was endeavoring not to cry.

"I always used to complain about what an annoying prat he was," he whispered, "but I didn't mean it."

"Of course you didn't mean it."

He wrenched out of Draco's grasp suddenly and walked into the middle of the street. Unsure of what Ron was going to do, the blonde carefully made his way towards him. He stopped dead when Ron let out a gut wrenching scream. The ground shook slightly and Draco yelped in surprise when the windows of the surrounding shops began to shatter. Lanterns and signs around them swung wildly and exploded with deafening sounds. He ran to the redhead and threw his arms around him from behind. The power emitting from his body threatened to knock Draco back, but he held on fiercely.

"Weasley, stop it!" he shouted over the clatter. "Calm down. Ron, stop it!"

Upon hearing his name, Ron seemed to break out of his haze as the chaos around them slowed and ultimately stopped altogether. Draco buried his nose into Ron's hair and tightened his hold around his torso. The redhead's breathing was erratic as he fought to calm his emotions. Slowly turning him around, the blonde pulled Weasley to him and held him closely, running a comforting hand through his hair. Little by little, he felt arms move forward until they were completely wrapped around him. Draco could tell he was crying; although the man was silent, Ron's shaking body and Draco's own increasingly damp shoulder gave it away.

"It'll be okay," he said soothingly, trying to offer his strength. "It'll be okay."

II. Lay your hand on me, one last time

The Order meetings were growing increasingly monotonous and Draco was finding it extremely hard to keep his attention on Potter, who was spewing out assignments and destinations. He stared down at his hands and began to pick at the dirt underneath his fingernails, finding it much more interesting than what Potter was saying. It wasn't as though he was sharing anything especially important. He'd be paired with Weasley anyway; he always was. It wasn't until he heard his name that he finally snapped out of his daze.

"What?" he questioned dumbly, taking in the group of people that was now staring at him. Harry rolled his eyes and tossed a stack of scrolls in the blonde's direction.

"Death Eater attacks in Manchester," he said, pointing at the pile now in front of Draco. "They've taken to destroying Muggle towns. We need you to lead a reconnaissance. We're almost sure that they're still lurking around there."

Draco shrugged noncommittally, but was secretly pleased with the news. They were finally seeing him as the valuable asset that he was.

"All right, if nobody has anything to add," Harry concluded, "then it'd be best if we set out now before they find out what we know." He picked up the mess laid out in front of him and went over to where Ron was sitting. Whispering something in his ear, Harry gave the redhead a gentle pat on the shoulder and left with a puff of smoke through the floo. Draco waited around for Ron, hoping to leave with him, but noticed something was wrong when all the members had left and he was still sitting in the same position.

"Why are we still here, Weasel?" he drawled, setting himself on the edge of the table and leering at Ron. "Upset that I've got the leadership title this time and you're stuck being my minion?"

"Were you paying attention at all during the meeting, you git?" Ron snapped, standing up to his full height and staring the blonde down.

"Of course not," Draco exclaimed, looking aghast. "Why would I do something like that? Potter was talking." He stopped and narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Why, what did he say?"

"I'm not going with you, Malfoy," Ron said softly, falling back into his chair. "They've sent me on a separate mission."

"Of course you're going with me. We're always sent out together. Those idiots should know better by now." Draco clicked his tongue in irritation and went over to the floo. "I'll fire-call Potty and have the Boy-Who-Won't-Do-Us-All-A-Favor-And-Die fix this arrangement."

"I'm being sent to Hogwarts," Ron said wearily, ignoring Draco's derisive attitude toward Harry; he'd come to realize a while ago that the Slytherin didn't really mean it anymore.

Draco turned quickly from the fireplace to face the redhead. "Hogwarts?" he asked slowly, feeling something akin to fear building up inside of him.

"Tomorrow morning," Ron said flatly, going back to staring at a spot on the floor.

"What is running through that idiot's head?" Draco shouted, exploding into rage. "Doesn't he know how dangerous Hogwarts is right now? The whole fucking place is teeming with Death Eaters. It's practically a suicide mission. What could he possibly be thinking, sending you there?"

"I'm hardly incompetent." The redhead seemed irritated that Draco was apparently underestimating his skill as a wizard.

Draco sat down in a chair across from Ron and leaned forward to grab his attention. "I didn't mean it like that," he snapped.

"I meant what was he thinking sending you without me?" he amended, softening his tone.

Ron managed a chuckle and reached out to grab Draco's hand. "Can't bear to be apart from me?"

"Hardly," Draco said dryly. "I'd hate to live with the guilt of knowing I wasn't there to rescue you should you…" He trailed off, unable to finish the sentence.

"I'll be fine," the Gryffindor said softly. "Besides, you're needed in Manchester."

"I'd rather be at Hogwarts. There'll be far more action there," he added, realizing that the things he'd just said made him seem soft.

Ron tugged at Draco's hand, urging him to look at him. "You're a git, did you know? Stop worrying, Malfoy. Tomorrow I'll go to Hogwarts and you'll go to Manchester. After everything's done, I'll come and hex you for ever doubting me. I'm going to be fine." He stood up and pulled Draco up with him. "Now, come on. Let's go to your flat for the make up shag. Mine's an absolute mess."

"Make up shag?" Draco questioned, raising an eyebrow. "We weren't exactly fighting."

"Do you want sex or not?" the redhead asked, rolling his eyes. Instead of answering, Draco leaned forward and captured Ron's lips, licking and biting to drive him insane.

Pushing him backwards towards the floo, Draco grabbed a handful of powder and, without detaching his mouth from Ron's, muffled out, "Dragon's Lair." With a whirl of smoke, they were deposited inside Draco's immaculate apartment, decorated, predictably, with green and white.

"Still can't believe you named your flat that," Ron chuckled between kisses.

"Less talk, less clothes," Draco growled, having already chucked his robe, now working on the clasp of Ron's. He led them aimlessly through the flat, not caring where they would end up and focusing on the freckled skin that was slowly being revealed with each removed item of clothing. Their momentum was stopped when Ron's back hit a wall and Draco's body crashed against his. Undeterred, he used the closeness to his advantage and ground his hips against Ron's, relishing the moan that emitted from his lips. Draco quickly discarded the remainder of his clothing and pulled away from Ron long enough to drag him into his bedroom. He pushed the Gryffindor towards the bed, who fell unceremoniously onto the sheets. Looking at his reddened lips and tousled hair, Draco felt a twitch in his burgeoning erection. The thought of the next day calmed Draco somewhat, as he wanted this to last.

He advanced towards the man on his bed and bent down to give him a languid kiss. Ron pulled back and focused on Draco's erection. Grey eyes locked with blue as Ron took the head into his mouth. He created tight suction, moving his lips slowly, all the while without breaking the eye contact. Draco found this to be a highly erotic experience. Hands gripped at his slender hips to slow his erratic thrusting. Ron kept a leisurely pace, taking time to kiss and lick every inch of him, worshipful, and leaving Draco desperate.

"Stop," he panted when he felt the familiar fire forming in his belly. "Weasley, not like this." Ron stopped his ministrations and sidled up until he was face-to-face with Draco.

"How do you want to?" he asked, nipping teasingly at the Draco's earlobe. His grin was feral as he placed his hands on Ron's hips and shoved him onto the bed. Kneeling so that he was hovering over the prone man, he placed a hand between them and ran his fingers over Ron's length.

"How do you think?" he growled, giving a firm tug. Ron moaned in pleasure and dropped his head back against the bed. As he used his fingers to prepare him, Draco took in the man lying below him. Thinking again to the next day, he scanned every inch of Ron's face, etching it into his memory: his thick, ginger hair; his long, pale lashes; every freckle on his face. Draco never wanted to forget.

"Get on with it," Ron cried, pulling him out of his daze. "If you make me wait any longer, I'll hex you from here to the next fucking century." Complying, Draco coated himself before pushing himself inside. Going at a painfully slow pace, he pushed in little by little, letting Ron get used to him. With a silent urging from Ron, he gradually began to move, the tightness overwhelming him. He kept at the slow pace, all the while caressing every inch of skin he could with his tongue. He had to remember how Ron tasted. Leaning upward, he buried his nose into the redhead's hair and inhaled. He had to remember how he smelled.

"Malfoy," Ron said softly, bringing Draco's head level to his. "Stop it."

"Stop what?" he asked, trailing his right hand over Ron's arm.

"Stop memorizing me," he replied, shifting to place a reassuring kiss on Draco's lips. "I told you, everything will be fine." Draco hesitated for a moment before nodding, reluctant to agree. He hummed in approval when Ron clenched and squeezed him, causing an exquisite heat. He started moving again, rocking slowly against the redhead.

"Fuck," Ron hissed, thrusting against Draco. "Draco." Hearing his name whispered so sensually, Draco lost his control and snapped his hips forward, pistoning into him with reckless abandon. With each push, the blonde could feel his impending release building. Leaning forward, he locked eyes with Ron and grasped him, eager to for him to reach his peak. After several more hard thrusts, the redhead convulsed and finished, sighing loudly in pleasure. Feeling Ron spasm around him, Draco groaned noisily and emptied himself into Ron. Spent, he collapsed on top of the other man and reveled in the afterglow.

"Mmmpph, gerroff!" Ron grumbled, pushing Draco off to the side.

"Way to ruin the mood, Weasel."

"You were suffocating me!"

Draco merely smirked and waved his hand in the air, mumbling a quick scourgify. Once they were clean, Ron pulled Draco against his chest and spooned him from behind. Draco lay there silently, listening to the other man's breathing as it slowed and evened out. He traced imaginary patterns over a freckled arm and willed himself to believe that everything would be all right. Still, he couldn't ignore the sinking feeling that this night would be their last together.

III. Show me how it ends…

"Can you finish up here?" Draco asked Seamus, who was his second-in-command. "Just take the remaining Death Eaters to Azkaban and make sure you get a count of how many we lost on our side."

"Sure thing, mate," Seamus grinned before turning to bark commands at the remaining Order members. Draco quickly Apparated to the edge of Hogwarts and hoped that he'd be able to find Ron among the disarray.

The sight that greeted him was a horrific one: smoke clouded the horizon, making it difficult for him to see, let alone find someone. Bodies were strewn everywhere, some already gone, others nearing death. The remaining people were fighting a tumultuous battle, hexes flying in all directions. Draco scanned the area as best he could to locate any familiar face that could help him find Weasley. His eyes finally landed on a head of bushy, brown hair. Taking a deep breath, he broke into a run and sprinted towards Hermione, occasionally throwing out hexes to protect himself. When he finally reached her, he grabbed her hand and pulled her behind a wall.

"Malfoy?" Hermione gasped, breathing heavily. "What are you doing here?"

"What do you think, Granger?" Draco snapped, putting up a temporary shielding spell that he'd learned. "Looking for Weasley. Have you seen him?" The last part was said with a softer tone as the blonde gave an apologetic look. He hadn't meant to lose his temper, but after seeing all the bloodshed, he'd become increasingly apprehensive with each passing second.

"The last time I saw him, he was up there," she remarked, tilting her head towards what used to be the Astronomy Tower."He told me to come out here while he stayed behind to fend off the remaining forces."

"You haven't seen him since?" Draco asked, trying to keep the worry out of his voice. "I should get up there to see if he needs any help." Making sure that there were no surrounding dangers, he made his way towards the tower. Before he got within a hundred feet of the castle, however, there was a loud explosion overhead that shook the ground. Instinctively diving to the ground, he felt pieces of debris fall on him, but none caused any serious damage.

"Oh, no," he heard Hermione whisper behind him. He turned to look at her and followed her gaze upward; the tower had been completely obliterated. Draco jerked to his feet and ran as fast as he could towards the rubble, hoping to see a trace of red hair. When he reached the entrance, people were rushing out, all in various stages of injury.

He stopped one of the people who had escaped and pulled them aside. "Have you seen Weasley?" The young wizard shook his head emphatically and broke from Draco's grasp, eager to get as far away from Hogwarts as possible. The Slytherin continued to ask each person that came out and became frustrated when all of them said that they hadn't seen him. Finally, he saw Dean Thomas emerge from the ruins and roughly grabbed him by the arm.

"Thomas, tell me you've seen Weasley," he pleaded. His heart dropped when Dean looked back worriedly and shook his head.

"He was right behind me," Dean panted, bending over to press a hand on the wound on his leg. "But there was too much confusion, I lost him." He looked back up at Draco ruefully. "I don't think he made it out." He didn't spare Dean another look, and ran up the steps with Hermione following close behind. Of course Ron made it out; there was no way he couldn't have. He ran blindly towards the demolished tower and was on his way up the final level when Hermione pulled his robes, causing him to almost tumble backwards.

"What the fuck, Granger?" he shouted, grabbing at the railing for support.

"Look, Malfoy," Hermione said, ignoring his outburst. She pointed towards the top of the stairs at a transparent green wall that seemed to encompass the remains. "The explosion created an excess of magic. You'll die if try to go through."

"Does that mean…?" Draco whispered, unable to finish his sentence.

"It means," she began, voice wavering and tears forming in her eyes, "that even if anybody managed to survive that blast, they couldn't have survived the magical surge."

"No! I don't believe it," he said firmly. "Weasley!" he yelled frantically. He ran as close as he could towards the field without touching it and thoroughly scanned the area. "Weasley!" Pulling him away from the force field, Hermione turned him to face her.

"He's gone, Draco," she sobbed sadly.

"And how are you so sure?" he growled. "How do you know?"

Hermione let go of Draco and gestured emphatically towards the tower. "Do you see that? Do you see him in there? He's not in there, Malfoy." He could only stare at her, unable to answer. The silence tore at her defenses and her anger slowly began to crack. Surprising him, she lurched forward and threw her arms around him, crying into his shoulder. He stood there, rigid and unsure of what to do, but he didn't pull away. His mind was elsewhere. Gazing through the translucent green veil, he continued to search for any sign of Weasley. He knew that the odds were impossible, but maybe, just maybe…

Draco felt an unfamiliar pang spreading through his chest. It worsened as the seconds passed until the dull throb became a wrenching pain . Tears spilled down his cheeks, falling one by one into Hermione's hair. As he stood there, with Granger leaning on him for support, he came to understand what he was feeling.

Draco Malfoy's heart was breaking.

It was the single most excruciating thing he'd ever experienced.

IV. …empty inside…

Long after the sounds of battle had died down, Draco could still be found sitting on the crumbling steps of the Astronomy Tower. Hermione had left hours ago to inform the Weasley family and Harry of what had happened. He knew he should have gone home also, but the thought of entering his flat made his stomach churn. There were too many things there that reminded him of Weasley, and he just couldn't bear to look at them. Instead, he stayed in what he considered to be his living hell, letting the guilt and the "what if's" consume him. If he had come several minutes earlier, Weasley would still be alive. If he had just gone to Hogwarts instead of Manchester, Weasley would still be alive.

When his body was numb from the cold, Draco finally pulled himself up and trudged to the edge of the destroyed grounds. Taking one last look at the destruction the battle caused, he Apparated back to his home. Once he'd taken down the wards and stepped inside, he immediately wished that he hadn't. There were dozens of items strewn about the flat, painful testimonies of a man who would never again step foot inside: his cloak thrown carelessly over an armrest; his broom standing next to Draco's in the corner; his old Chudley Cannons sweater that had been left behind after a night of passion; even his scent seemed to linger in the air. Taking a deep breath, Draco built up his resolve and collected all of Ron's things that he could see. He set himself down onto the green carpeted floor and began to burn the items he had found.

"Incendio," he whispered, and watched the cloak flare up between his fingertips. One by one, he burned the items until there was nothing left but a pile of ashes on the floor. Picking up some of the dust, he rubbed it between his fingertips before letting it fall back to the ground.

"I don't want to feel this way," he said aloud, his voice echoing off the walls, "because it hurts too much, Weasley. I can't be weak." He picked up his wand and uttered a cleaning spell, making the ashes disappear. He'd hoped that with the physical aspects of Ron gone, this dull ache in his chest would go away, but it was still there.

Living without him was going to be a difficult feat.

But he would do it...he had to.

V. Show me how defenseless you really are

"Malfoy?" A voice calling his name woke Draco abruptly from his nap. Sitting up on the couch, he squinted at the fireplace and, in his sleep-induced haze, managed to make out the head of Hermione Granger.

"Merlin's beard, Granger," he grumbled, "what is it now? I already told you I wasn't going to the Ministry."

"No, no, it's not that." Draco's ears managed to pick up on the happiness in Hermione's voice. He willed himself to wake up and give the head in the fireplace his attention. He tilted his chin in a silent indication for her to continue. "We finally managed to infiltrate the last remaining Death Eater Headquarters."

The Slytherin frowned at Hermione's head in the fireplace. Why would this news be of any interest to him? "And?"

"We found several prisoners in their dungeons," she continued, a grin forming on her pretty face. "One of them was Ron. We found him, Malfoy. He's alive."

For a moment, Draco was dumbstruck. That name brought back painful memories and emotions that he had been suppressing for the last eight months. "What?"

"He was found this morning," she explained. "He wasn't in the tower when the explosion happened, Malfoy. Your father used a Portkey and kidnapped him."

"Why would he do that?" Malfoy questioned calmly, repressing the hope that flooded through his heart.

"Leverage," Hermione continued. "Voldermort was hoping to use him against Harry in the final battle."

"Why didn't we know about this until now?" he asked suspiciously.

"Because Voldermort didn't want us knowing they had him. Whatever his plan for Ron was, he made sure that nobody but he and his most trusted Death Eaters knew. When our forces raided the headquarters today, they almost missed him because he was hidden so far below." Draco stayed silent and tried to digest what he had just been told.

"Is he okay?" he asked quietly.

"He's weak," she replied, her smile becoming a bit sad, "but they didn't do any permanent physical damage. Thank goodness. He seems to be in good spirits."

"He'll want to see you," Hermione continued softly. "He's at St. Mungos."

"Thank you, Granger," Draco responded, his demeanor turning cold. "But I don't think that's a good idea. Good day."

"Malfoy!" she whispered, stunned. "Surely you don't mean that."

"Don't be so presumptuous as to assume you know what I mean, Granger. Good day." With that, he pulled out his wand and extinguished the fire. To ensure that he wouldn't be visited by her head again, he quickly deactivated the Floo on his fireplace.

Punching the pillow on the couch to make it more comfortable, Draco laid back down and curled up against it. He couldn't see Ron again. After all this time, he just couldn't deal with it.

The doorbell was a sound that Draco had never gotten used to, considering the fact that nobody ever visited him. So, several weeks later, when the sound of it rang throughout the flat, Draco almost fell out of bed in surprise. Throwing off his covers and walking to the door without bothering to put on a shirt, he vowed to hex whoever was standing behind it. He blearily opened the door and, for an instant, thought what he saw was a dream. A bit paler and much thinner than when Draco last saw him, there, on his doorstep, was Ronald Weasley.

"Weasley." Draco found himself unable to come up with any coherent sentences.

"Honestly, Malfoy, it's past noon," Ron said, a small smile creeping upon his face. "You should have been up ages ago." Seeing that the blonde was unresponsive, his smile began to waver. After standing awkwardly on the doorstep for a minute, he cleared his throat and sighed. "You don't know how hard it was for me to come here, Malfoy. Please, let me in."

Draco looked at him warily and stepped aside, allowing him into flat. Ron made his way towards the drawing room before turning to face the Slytherin.

"H-how are you?" Draco managed to finally choke out.

"I'm not sure how I'm supposed to answer that," Ron responded slowly. "How do you think I've been, Draco?" There's an edge in his voice when he spoke again.

"Weasley…" Draco started, but was interrupted.

"When a man comes back after being missing for so long, you would think he'd deserve a visit from somebody who claimed to care about him." Now that the initial discomfort had worn off, Ron seemed to rediscover his Weasley temper.

"Shove off, Weasel," Draco snapped, not one to take an attack lying down. "You're supposed to be dead."

Ron seemed affronted by the statement as his ears became red with rage. "What's that supposed to mean?" he shouted, hurt lacing the anger. "Did you wish they hadn't found me?"

"No," Draco hollered, throwing the glass, that he'd just picked up, against the wall. "I would never wish that, but for the longest time you were dead. You were gone, Weasley, and just when I was starting to accept it, you came prancing back. You can't possibly assume that I'll just pretend the last eight months didn't happen." He stopped a moment to catch his breath. "Have you any idea what losing you did to me? It completely shattered me, Weasley. It took a lot of time for me to pick up the pieces and move on. I was trying to forget you." He stared at the redhead, who was now standing several feet from him, head bowed and shoulders heaving. "I can't let you back in, Weasley. I couldn't handle it if I ever lost you again." Ron remained still, attempting to calm himself before he spoke.

"What do you think it was like for me?" he began softly. "I spent every day in that cell thinking it was my last. Every sound I heard was like a death sentence. I lived in constant fear, but do you know what helped me hold on?" Draco shook his head, refusing to look the redhead in the eyes. "You, Malfoy. My friends, my family, and you." He stepped forward and ran his hands up both arms. "When I was finally rescued, I was so sure you'd come find me. It hurt, knowing that you didn't want to see me."

Draco wrenched out of his grasp and turned away, walking to the opposite side of the room. "I know, and I'm sorry. But..."

"You were dead," he continued, his voice rising with every word. "I-I couldn't handle it, so I blocked out the pain. I let you go." He was shouting now, stoking his anger and ignoring his returning heartache. "I can't feel like that again, Weasley, I can't."

"Malfoy," Ron scoffed with disdain. "You're honestly going to let me leave?"

"It'd be for the best," Draco said resolutely.

"Have you gone completely off your rocker?" the redhead asked, the frownlines prominent on his face. "Those bludgers to your head when you used to play Quidditch must have done permanent damage."

"What?" Draco asked dumbly.

"You're being an absolute prat." He made his way towards Draco and moved to embrace him, but Draco backed up against the wall.

"No," he said, shaking his head. "Don't touch me."

"You're being completely irrational," Ron shouted, grabbing onto his arm to keep him from getting away. "This is our second chance and you're ruining it, you ponce."

"And if this happens again, then what?" Draco retorted, staring at the redhead. "I cannot survive you a second time, Weasley."

"It could just as easily be you next time, Malfoy," Ron said, lowering his voice. He inched towards the blonde and placed his arms around Draco's waist, who didn't move away. "These are the chances we take when we want to be with somebody. Get over all this anger you have inside of you." Ron leaned in to kiss his temple. "You've felt it for much too long and you need to let it go. I'm here in the flesh and instead of ravishing me, you're brooding." Draco laughed at this, but they quickly turned to choked sobs. He stiffened and closed his eyes, trying to will away the impending emotional outburst. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't stop the few stray tears that managed to escape.

Eventually, he cleared his throat and wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt. "I should be comforting you," he said, feeling a bit embarrassed to have been crying like a child.

"S'okay," Ron shrugged. "I've always been the more emotionally stable one." He paused and grinned openly. "Okay, that's not really true, but I have definitely matured more than you." Draco snorted mockingly and threaded a hand through Ron's hair to pull him in for a kiss. It was slow, with both men savoring what they'd thought was lost. Draco was the first to pull away and pressed his forehead against Ron's.

"If you ever leave me again, Weasel," he growled snarkily, "I swear you won't have to worry about the people who took you. I'll kill you myself."

Ron laughed and punched Draco playfully in the chest. They kissed again. "I'll try my best not to."