Zinnia says: This is the last chapter and the story ends here although some questions remain unanswered after this. I have an additional chapter eleven written but I won't publish it. Check out my profile if you want information about what are my plans after this.
A big thanks for my new beta keria1123, who was kind enough to correct my errors on this chapter.
Chapter 10 Frozen
Harry waited and waited, for what felt like an eternity.
Several times he was wondering whether he should simply go and find some help but he wanted to stay here and be the first one to see Malfoy whenever it was the wall would disappear.
Because it would disappear eventually, he thought, it had to.
Finally the wall disappeared making Harry fall on the floor on his side because he had leaning on it. He quickly jumped up and ran into the pool room.
"Oh my God, Malfoy!"
He breathed; his lungs got filled with sudden freezing coldness that made him cough before he threw his wand on the tiled floor and jumped head first into the water.
The water was freezing cold, ice was forming on the surface and the temperature of the room was incredibly low.
It was snowing from the sky like ceiling.
The whole room seemed to wear the ice grey colour of Malfoy's eyes.
Draco Malfoy was floating, eyes closed, on some sort of a small ferry, which looked like it was made of soft, flexible plastic.
It reminded Harry somewhat of some muggle toys he'd seen Dudley have.
He reached the floating plastic thing quickly and regretted not staying out of the pool, he should've simply levitated Malfoy away from the water but it was too late for that now.
He grabbed Malfoy's wrist, the blond Slytherin had his arms wrapped around his waist, almost like in determination or almost like trying to warm himself up.
"Malfoy!" Harry's voice was breathless.
"Malfoy!" The wrist was freezing cold in Harry's fingers.
He concentrated and saw a small amount of white mist erupting from Malfoy's nose in the coldness. He's breathing.
Harry grabbed the blond boy's arm and pulled with both hands until his whole body gave in and fell into the cold water.
Harry wrapped an arm around his torso and swam furiously, dragging the boy along and with effort managed to get him out of the pool and on to the tiled floor.
He immediately grabbed his wand and levitated the unconscious Slytherin into their main room and gently lowered him on the couch.
He lit the fireplace with a quick spell and then began stripping the boy manually out of his wet clothing.
It took a while, Malfoy's skin was so cold it made Harry's fingers numb.
When Malfoy was finally stark naked, he stripped himself naked too and levitated the boy once more. Harry settled on the couch on his back and levitated the boy right on top of him.
Malfoy's cold body was heavy on him when he ended the levitation spell just to begin it again to levitate his blanket from the bed and pulled it over them both.
Then he threw his glasses and the wand to the floor.
Harry's teeth were chattering and he wrapped his arms around Malfoy.
He knew he should get help. He should've taken Malfoy to hospital wing but he couldn't.
The need to just hold him was just too overwhelming.
He looked at the blond head on his chest and then tilted the boy's head a bit to see his face.
There were trails of frozen tears on the cheeks, now they were melting and Harry brushed them with his thumb:
"I'm sorry. I'm so blind, I had no idea…"
The he surprised himself by starting to weep: "Draco, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."
He wrapped his arms tighter around the blond boy and hid his face in the cold blond hair and cried and couldn't stop. He bit his lip, trying to fight back the tears but his body was trembling with the desperate sobs.
He cried until he was emotionally drained and warm, the fire crackling in the fireplace was heating the skin on his cheek.
Malfoy's body seemed warmer too and eventually he fell asleep while still stroking Malfoy's hair.
He knew he was dreaming. It was cold and the water was slowing his movements.
"Harry, help me" Malfoy called him somewhere but the sun was setting and the water was too dark, no blond head anywhere, only the desperate voice calling for him.
He woke up startled and quickly recalled where he was.
Malfoy was making small movements in his embrace and Harry heard his voice whispering,
Another nightmare, Harry tightened his hold of the boy and said, "Draco…"
Malfoy was making small whiny noises and his words were slurred, like it was difficult to speak, but still the words formed a small whispered sentence, "Help me."
"Draco!" Harry stroked the boy's back with his hands.
"Hhhha-" Malfoy's body gave a twitch and then he was all still and stiff.
"Draco…" Harry spoke quietly, assuming the boy had just woken up.
Malfoy took a loud breath and raised his head a bit to look at Harry.
Then he blinked, grey eyes wide and asked with a hoarse voice:
"How did I end up here?"
Harry suddenly grinned out of relief but the tears were back, running down his face and he said,
"Don't ever try that again! Ever! Do you understand me?"
Draco stared at him in confusion, "What did I do this time?"
"You were bloody trying to freeze yourself to death! Half of your face was covered in ice by the time the wall spell broke and I got you out of that freezing pool!"
Harry wasn't mad but he had been so worried, it came out with loud voice, which probably wasn't a new tone to Malfoy anyway.
"What? I wasn't trying to freeze myself to death! Do you honestly think I would do something like that?"
Draco was frowning and Harry's cheeks felt hot, he was starting to get embarrassed,
"What were you doing then? You were unconscious when I reached you!"
Draco looked Harry deep in the eyes, apparently still confused about a crying Harry Potter,
"I wanted it to be cold, it felt good… it made me forget everything else."
Harry managed to roll his eyes before saying, "You could've died, you idiot."
Draco didn't say anything although Harry waited for a retort.
He stared a long time before he finally whispered the exact words Harry had been waiting for but the tone was totally different. It was quiet and sad:
"What do you care, Potter?"
Harry stared right back for a moment before saying,
"Draco Malfoy, that's a bloody stupid question and you know that. I do care. I care a lot. And you know it too."
They looked each other in the eyes in silence, finally Draco's lips curved a bit upwards.
Then he said in a low, seductive voice, "I think Harry Potter has a crush on a Slytherin."
He licked Harry's chest with his tongue but Harry didn't let him get distracted, he took a hold of the boy's chin and forced him to look back in his eyes,
"I mean it. I do care."
Draco sighed and dropped his head on Harry's chest, relaxing, pressing his ear right on top of Harry's heart.
"Draco…" Harry said.
"What?" Came the mutter.
"The people who… the… shit I'm sorry to bring this up right now but I have to say this, alright?"
"Just say it, Potter."
Harry took a deep breath and said, "The people who… might've done something to your… father. If they ever try to come after you, I'll send them to Azkaban before they so much as take a look in your direction."
Draco got all tense and Harry tightened his grip, "Don't run away now, I need to say this.
I'll do anything to keep you safe from them. I mean anything. "
Draco lifted his head to look at Harry and asked,
"Do you know what you're saying? They might be after me for the rest of my life. What could you possibly to do stop that? I don't think you can protect me 24/7, plus you have no idea how many of them there are. Besides they're after you as well, so…"
"I had time to think while you were in the Room of Requirement. I'm not afraid of them. I'm not going to let them ruin my life and I'm going to do my best to get rid of them.
The Ministry and the Aurors are willing to do anything I ask for nowadays. The Aurors have been trying to catch the Death Eaters ever since the war ended anyway. I've even had hopes maybe if we're lucky most of the bad guys will be in Azkaban before we graduate from here next spring."
Draco sighed, "I'm cold and tired. Can we continue this conversation later?"
Harry answered, "We could but you have a habit of avoiding talking and today proved me we should've been talking more."
Draco narrowed his eyes a bit, "You have no idea how much the war has changed me. I can hardly try to suddenly change into a talkative person just to please you, Potter."
Harry sighed, "Fine."
Then he closed his eyes in irritation. Draco settled back on his chest and took a deep breath.
Harry was about to fall asleep when Draco whispered, "Potter."
"What?" He frowned a bit, not bothering to open his eyes. He was still a bit disappointed because trying to talk with Draco seemed to be extremely difficult.
"I'd like that." The boy was intently listening to Harry's heartbeats.
"You'd like what?" Harry asked.
"To uhm… To talk about the possibility of you sending Death Eaters to Azkaban if they ever came after me. There's one more thing you need to know though."
"Okay, what's that?"
Draco sighed and lifted his head to look at Harry who had to open his eyes to see the blond,
"I said that I've changed." Draco's expression was calm.
"Yeah? Go on." Harry encouraged.
Draco looked at the fire for a moment before shifting his gaze back into Harry's eyes,
"The changes in me… It's… they're huge."
Harry frowned a bit, "What do you mean? Tell me. Tell me everything."
Draco shook his head a bit, "No, Potter, you'd laugh at me, you'd –"
Harry lifted a finger on Draco's lips, "No, I wouldn't. I really want to know. And I won't laugh whatever it is. I promise."
Draco narrowed his eyes a bit and kept a meaningful pause before saying,
"Quite soon after the war I noticed that something had happened to me. No, not a curse, don't look so frightened!"
Harry smiled a bit, trying to banish whatever worried face he must've made and Draco went on,
"One day I realised I was becoming paranoid.
I had started to fear the most ordinary things, like going outside or…well, especially flying.
Then the nightmares started and haven't stopped ever since.
It's not a curse, I went to a Curse Tracer but he said it might be that… during the war, and before that, my life has been quite… stressful.
Together with all the changes the war bought… well… apparently a piece of me went broken."
Harry kept looking him in the eyes but Malfoy turned his head away for a moment before turning back and saying, "Go on, start laughing. I can't even fly!"
Harry shook his head and brushed Draco's cheek with his thumb,
"Why would you think I'd laugh, there's nothing funny about it. Tell me more."
Draco lifted his eyebrows just an inch before looking back at the fire, apparently embarrassed,
"One day during the summer, after the trials and after the nightmares had started, I was walking along one of our corridors upstairs in the evening.
I suddenly started thinking someone might be following me.
So I glanced over my shoulder and thought I saw something, a shadow following me.
I got so scared I ran downstairs and yelled at my mother, saying there's someone behind be.
She shook her head and when I turned around I realised it actually indeed was a shadow – it was my own shadow! Can you believe that?"
Draco started suddenly laughing. Harry frowned, "That's not funny."
Draco stopped laughing and grinned, "Yes, it is. That is funny, Potter. But you know what isn't?"
Harry merely raised his eyebrows and Draco said with a more serious voice,
"Ever since that shadow incident it got even worse. If I got frightened, and I did, a lot actually, then I suddenly started to panic and get rigid. The same way I did when we went to the Forbidden Forest... anyway, it's a long story and my point was: there are a lot of things I used to enjoy doing and which I can't even bare to think of doing anymore."
Harry absorbed Malfoy's facial features, he thought the boy was beautiful and almost felt like saying so. Malfoy simply stared back, apparently not minding Harry's gaze at all.
"I understand it's hard for you to tell about that stuff but you could've told me. From now on I need you to tell me about things. Do you hear me?"
"You promise?" Harry asked him.
"Alright. I do promise. Now it's your turn to tell me something." Malfoy's eyes seemed to glitter when the fire reflected from them. Harry suddenly felt a little more naked and became more aware of the fact they were naked under the blanket and he was getting hot.
"What do you want to know?" He asked.
"What's going on between you and me? What do you call this?" Malfoy's voice was low.
Harry stared him in the eyes and hoped he wasn't blushing, "Uhm… I've been meaning to ask about that too. I think… I have to tell you something. Don't freak out, okay?"
Malfoy muttered, "I won't, go ahead."
Harry said, "I have no idea how you feel about me but I'm willing to take the risk you crush me completely. I realize your life is complicated and you probably refuse my help if I offer it. All I want is to have you in my life. I… I need you. I honestly do. I can't explain it better than that. I need to have you with me. If you accept my help, I'll help you with everything. I just need you to tell me what you want and need from me and I'll do my best to give it to you."
Malfoy smiled suddenly and glanced at the fire before returning his gaze in Harry's eyes and asked,
"So you like me?"
Harry rolled his eyes, "I thought that at least was obvious. I just said a minute ago I do care. I meant I care for you, a lot. I need you."
They looked at each other a long time, Harry's heart was beating fast, and he was beginning to feel nervous when it took so long before Malfoy finally answered,
"Are you suggesting we would be lovers?"
Harry blinked, "I sort of thought we might be that already. But yes, I want that if that's what you want. Or… what do you want?"
Malfoy shrugged and gave a small mischievous smile,
"I never go out on dates, so don't ask me out. I've never been in a real relationship so I don't think you should hope for that either… not right now at least. You do realize I'm not a very easy person to be with, right?"
Harry nodded, "I like you the way you are. I'm not going to give up easily. And I hope you won't either."
Malfoy dropped his gaze and stared at Harry chest, then muttered,
"And we wouldn't be with other people?"
Harry shook his head, "Of course we wouldn't. No, you are the only one I want to be with. I know it for a fact."
Malfoy looked up and said, "Alright."
Harry asked, "Alright? So we have a deal?"
Malfoy nodded and then gave a curt smile, "Yes. It's going to be difficult and extremely intense."
Harry smiled, "Yeah, and extremely interesting."
Draco smiled and suddenly dropped his head back on Harry's chest.
Harry blinked and begged for his heart to slow down a bit as Draco wrapped an arm under Harry's back and stroked Harry's lower back.
"Your heart sounds good," Draco muttered just before he fell asleep.