drarry prompted by avengersgirl17

prompt: hurt/comfort fic in which Draco finds out Harry is abused during a routine visit to his godfather Severus' house. He already knew loved Harry, but Harry has never known real love before and now Draco must prove that he will never hurt Harry and that his love for him is genuine.

Author's Note: Yet another prompted one-shot. The prompt gave me a lot of wiggle room for details and fluff, so I didn't shy from any of those things, be warned! Call this a New Years gift from me to you. Seriously though, take it. I don't want it.

Disclaimer: These characters are not mine. Had they been, Drarry would be canon and everything would hurt.

Love Like This

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

"Potter, come down here!"

Draco watched as his godfather shook his head and grumbled incoherently to himself after shouting at the boy for the third time, with no response. "He hasn't come out of his quarters for hours," Snape murmured, his thick brow furrowed with apparent worry. "The difference is slight, however; he eats and speaks very little. I highly doubt he will join us this evening."

Draco bit his lip and looked up towards the high stairs again, waiting for the aforementioned Boy-Who-Lived to appear from his room. Of course, he didn't have great expectations from what Snape had told him upon arrival, but he could still hope. Ideally, Draco would have liked to go up there immediately; the reason he had come here for the hols in the first place was to check up on Harry.

Thus saying, this particular visit had stemmed from the fact that Draco had only just learned a few weeks ago that Harry was staying with his godfather. Draco had no idea why, of course, but he hoped to find out during his stay. See, Harry had not come back to Hogwarts this year, even though it was supposed to be their last. And Draco wouldn't admit it to anybody out loud, but Harry was the main reason why he tolerated school. Hell, Harry was the main reason why Draco tolerated anything, and now that Harry wasn't there, Draco felt as though he couldn't function properly. He snorted to himself. Maybe it was the fact that he'd been madly in love with Harry for as long as he could remember. But hey. Perhaps not.

"Let us go to the sitting room for a drink," Snape announced suddenly, causing Draco to jump a little. After a nod of consent, the two men walked through a few hallways and doors to reach their destination; Draco planted himself on a small burgundy couch and Snape remained standing by the beverages. The older man offered Draco a drink, but he refused.

"Tell me why Potter is here," Draco demanded immediately, catching the professor off guard.

Snape poured himself a drink and sat down on an opposite couch. "He is staying with me until he can find a place of his own," the man said very slowly, carefully, while taking a delicate sip.

"Why?"

"Of course, there are," Snape put down his glass dramatically, "certain circumstances which restrict Potter from remaining at his own home and he had strongly refused to return to Hogwarts, or anywhere else, for that matter. He hardly likes it here, I should say. But the decision had not been in question."

Draco frowned. "But why here?"

Snape pursed his lips. "Professor Dumbledore requested it. He saw the conditions fitting, seeing as I am his most loyal and trusted employee," he answered stiffly. "Potter stays here with a few guardians while I am at Hogwarts during the school year. I come back and check on him periodically, of course."

Why wouldn't Harry want to come back to Hogwarts? What had gone wrong since last year? Why was Draco so worried? "When you said circumstances…" Draco started slowly.

"We shan't discuss it now," Snape interrupted abruptly. "I suggest that you put away your things in your room before supper. You have approximately one hour until then."

The man got up then, swiftly directing Draco out of the sitting room and up the winding stairs to his bedroom before whirling away to who-knows-where. Draco sighed and put his bags down near a familiar four-poster bed. The room had an almost uncanny resemblance to the Slytherin boys' dorm room back at Hogwarts. Draco could only deduct that it had been his godfather's own room at one time in his boyhood.

Well, he might as well do as Snape had instructed. Draco unlatched his trunk and began stacking his belongings on his bed into neatly folded piles, ready to be placed in the mahogany dresser in the corner of the room. A few minutes into his work, however, he heard a small crash coming from the hallway. In a flash, Draco remembered that Harry's room was only a few doors to the left of his, and without another thought, he shot out of his room and into the hallway.

And there, crouching over a little pile of broken glass, was Harry himself. He was scrawnier than Draco remembered; his normally tanned, expressive face was pale and gaunt. At least Harry's hair was scattered all over the place like Draco recalled, and his eyes were ever just as green behind those owl-rimmed glasses. Well, from what Draco could see.

Harry looked up then and, upon seeing Draco, began to straight up to flee. Draco held up his hands to stop him. "Wait," he exclaimed. "Don't go."

Although still appearing as if he wanted to run, Harry paused anyways, and furrowed his brow suspiciously. "What are you doing here, Malfoy?" he asked.

Draco bristled defensively in response; it was only customary between them. "I'm staying with my godfather for the hols," he said. "What are you doing here?"

Harry pursed his lips. "Cleaning up my plate," he muttered. He turned away to leave again, but Draco cleared his throat.

"Why didn't you come back to Hogwarts?" he inquired.

Harry frowned. "I didn't want to."

"Why?"

"It's none of your goddamned business, Malfoy."

Draco felt his heart fall, if only for a second, and he immediately straightened up. The blatant reminder of Harry's actual feelings for him rang in his ears like a blaring siren. He hated that it bothered him so much. He hated that Harry still hated him. But most of all, he hated that he didn't hate Harry back. Not in the slightest. The already ice-cold temperature of Draco's tone dropped significantly. "Excuse me for caring," he snapped, gathering up all the fury and fire that he could muster.

Harry sighed, and then glanced around. "I'm sorry," he said quietly, his eyes downcast towards the floor.

Draco stopped. Harry had never apologised to him before. Harry had never backed down from a fight. What was up with that?

"You want to come help me put my stuff away?" Draco asked suddenly, causing the other boy to look up in surprise. He probably hadn't suspected Draco to back down, too. But then again, he probably didn't know of Draco's true feelings for him, either.

"Sure," Harry murmured, leaning back down to brush up the broken glass from his plate with his hands.

"Here, let me," Draco piped up, coming closer and reaching out towards Harry to help gather up the broken pieces. Harry immediately drew back to hide his hands, but not before Draco saw the large purple scars that covered them. He gazed up straight into Harry's impossibly green eyes for answers, but for once, they were dull and shuttered.

"We can just leave this for the elves to clean up," Harry muttered.

Draco knit his brows together. "I thought they weren't in today?"

Harry ignored him, straightening up and brushing past his shoulder. "Is your room this way?" he asked.

Draco got up too, frowning a bit. "It's right there." He pointed to the nearby door. "Are you sure you don't want to…?"

"It's fine," Harry said quickly, his hands still hidden. "Let's get your stuff put away before Snape throws a tantrum."

At that, Draco didn't ask any more questions. Instead, he followed Harry into his own room, and then watched as the other boy began to fold items into piles next to the ones that were already there. He noticed that Harry was shaking a little, as if he were struggling to contain it, causing the clothes to fold unevenly. "It'd be a lot faster with magic," Draco remarked, pulling his wand from his pocket. "Why don't you just…"

Harry whirled around immediately and grabbed Draco's wand from his hand, throwing it off to the side. "No magic," he blurted out, his eyes wide with what Draco could only describe as fear.

Draco frowned deeply; he was really worried now. Harry Potter, denying magic? From what he had known, magic had always been Harry's favourite thing. It was the sole saviour of his life and his friends. Whom, by the way, Harry had not mentioned even once.

"What's going on?" he demanded.

Harry's lips were pursed into a thin line. "Nothing," he answered tersely.

"Potter!"

Draco felt his heart blaze; surely his eyes were the same. If there was anything he hated more than that Harry hated him, it was the fact that there was something he didn't know about Harry. He had always prided himself in knowing Harry inside out, but this—this strange business was a mystery. And he couldn't stand it.

"Just let it go, Malfoy," Harry muttered through clenched teeth, turning away.

"No!" Draco grabbed Harry's arm and the other boy yelped loudly at the contact before blushing and scowling at the floor. "Tell me why you won't use magic! And what are those horrible marks on your hands? And why are you here, for Merlin's sake!"

"Shove off!" Harry grumbled.

"No, I will not shove off!" Draco yelled indignantly.

"Well, I'm not going to answer you so you might as well just go away!" Harry countered stubbornly.

Draco scoffed. "This is my room, Potter!" he pointed out.

Harry looked confused for a moment. Then angry again. "Why didn't you stay at the Manor like you do every year?" he asked, the question sounding more like an accusation. "Why did you decide to come here instead?"

"What, I can't visit my own godfather now?"

"You haven't answered the question!"

"You haven't answered any of mine!"

Harry frowned at that; his only response was to fold his arms across his chest defensively. Draco made a loud noise of exasperation.

"Fine! You caught me!" He threw his hands up. "I knew you were here, all right? I was curious, and I wanted to know how you were and what you were up to. Are you happy now?"

Harry looked baffled, as if that had not been the response he had believed that he would receive. "Why do you care?" he shouted back, after a few moments of deliberation. His voice cracked and his eyes seemed to flood with unshed tears as he glared angrily at the ground. The sight of him hurt Draco so badly that he couldn't even control his own thoughts. Suddenly, everything was a blur and nothing made sense anymore. Why did he care? No, the real question was, why hadn't he made it clear that he cared before?

"Because I'm in love with you!" Draco screamed. The words seemed to echo sickeningly throughout the room. He slapped his hand over his mouth and groaned. Aw, fuck, that wasn't supposed to come out. "I didn't mean it," he tried to explain, but his hand was still covering his mouth. The intended statement came out as a bunch of jumble, which was exactly what it was.

"What the fuck are you trying to say?" Harry demanded warily. He was now wide-eyed and staring at Draco, backing up as if he were about to run away.

Draco flushed deeply; after years of hiding his feelings, he had accidentally revealed himself in a fit of uncontrolled frenzy. It was all too bittersweet. He sighed. Honestly, he might as well come clean now. And with that raw, confused look on Harry's face… well, there was little chance that Draco could conceal it any longer.

"I love you," he repeated quietly. "I've loved you since we were kids."

Harry was still staring at him, awestruck, trembling like a leaf. Tears were flowing freely from his eyes now as he stumbled backwards and hung onto the bedspread as if clinging to dear life. Draco held his breath and came closer, but Harry shivered and whimpered a little, shaking his head no.

"I didn't mean to say anything," Draco muttered gruffly. "But fuck it. I think you have the right to know."

He began to come closer again, but to his shock, Harry jerked away and began sobbing and gasping loudly. "No! Don't!" he screamed, crouching into a corner.

Draco backed away in horror, his heart breaking for both himself and the terrified boy in front of him. He hadn't known that Harry would react like this. He'd thought a 'shut the fuck up, Malfoy' or a simple punch in the nose would have sufficed, but this was entirely shocking. This reaction felt as though Harry had kicked him in the heart and then ripped it open for good measure.

"Come on," Draco urged. He hated the uncharacteristically whingy, vulnerable sound of his own voice, but he couldn't help it. "I'm… I'm not playing around with you, I really do feel like... that. But I'm not going to hurt you. Please, just… just let me explain."

Harry was still shaking his head, crying. "Don't love me," he murmured.

Draco stopped. "What?"

"Don't," Harry repeated. "Please, don't…"

His sobs became so loud that his words were lost and incoherent. Draco reached forward again tentatively, and Harry didn't stop him this time. Draco laid a hand gingerly on Harry's cheek, and the boy flinched.

"I can't stop," Draco whispered truthfully. He couldn't.

Harry seemed to gasp for air. Hot tears streamed down his cheek and fell onto Draco's hand, as though a hateful and burning reminder of their source.

"No. They loved me…" Harry shouted. "They loved me and they did this!"

Draco jumped back as Harry ripped open his own shirt, revealing shockingly pale skin marked with angry red scars and purpled, shallow, caved in bits of flesh and skin, as if the wounds had been produced over a number of years and instances. The awful patterns skated from the tips of Harry's collarbones and trailed down further and further until they disappeared beneath his trousers, and Draco could only imagine what had been done there. It was sickening. Draco couldn't stop staring at a spot right in the middle of Harry's chest where there was a series of messy, painful looking marks that appeared as though they had been recently carved with a small, razor sharp blade. With a heavy heart, Draco realised that it read:

Freak.

Draco couldn't believe his eyes. What kind of twisted bastards could do this to such a young boy? How could anybody inflict this pain on a human being? It just wasn't right. It was terrible. Draco was going to be sick. Now he knew why Harry had been so tetchy earlier when Draco had tried to touch him, or why he had backed down so quickly; it had been submission. Gods. What had these people done to the Harry Potter that Draco knew and loved? He felt a few warm tears fall from his eyes, and he angrily wiped them away. There was no way that he would let Harry see him cry.

"Who did this to you?" he growled after a while, his voice scarily low.

Harry only shook his head, crying harder now, covering his face with his hands. Draco stood up and slammed his hand down on the bed. "Who did this to you?" he shouted again, causing Harry to flinch. "I swear to fucking Merlin, I will murder them with my own bare hands!"

Suddenly, the door to his room flung open, and Snape stood there, looking shocked and aggravated as ever. "Potter! Draco! What in Merlin's name is going on in here?"

"Look at him!" Draco screamed, gesturing at Harry's maimed chest. "Did you know about this?"

Snape sighed, rubbing his forehead tiredly. "He will not return back to his home," he murmured. "After the most recent wound…" Draco could only guess it was the fresh, raw phrase he had seen. Snape paused and Summoned a blanket from a hall closet; the soft fleece automatically covered Harry's chest and shoulders. "We discovered the domestic abuse and had him brought here immediately. Prior to that, I had no knowledge of the injuries."

Draco glowered. He had been aware that Harry's Muggle family had been horrible to him, but he hadn't known that it had been to this extent. He'd always just figured that Harry had brushed them off each time. "How could you let this happen?" he snapped unfairly. "You should've discovered it sooner!"

Snape pursed his lips. "He kept it well hidden until this year," he countered in defence. "Not even Potter's friends had been aware of the severity his condition. It had become known solely when the boy had come stumbling into Professor Dumbledore's office. But he has yet to talk to anyone about it... not even Granger or Weasley. And mind you, they've both been going out of their minds trying to contact the boy, but he doesn't want to see anyone."

Draco scowled and turned back to Harry, who was still cowering on the floor, and inched towards him carefully. "Harry…" he tried.

Harry seemed to have calmed down and was now glaring defiantly at his covered lap, most likely angry at himself for losing it in front of both Draco and Snape. "Don't," he whispered.

"I'm not like them, I promise," Draco said, now sitting down next to Harry. Behind him, he could hear Snape backing out slowly and closing the door with a soft click. The man had obviously sensed the need for privacy. No matter how the Potions professor might deny it, Draco knew that Snape cared for Harry, at least, worried for his safety. He would have never Summoned that blanket for anybody else.

"Why should I believe you?" Harry muttered. "You've always wanted to hurt me, and now you say that you love me…. Well, they said they loved me too. My aunt, my uncle, my cousin. Every time they hit me, touched me… they told me—" Harry paused, then opened the blanket a little to reveal his wounds again. He stared at them for a long while. "This," he whispered, scaling his fingers over the bright red letters covering his chest. "This is how they loved me."

Draco frowned. "That is not love," he whispered.

Harry wrapped his blanket around himself again and closed his eyes. "Then I don't know what love is," he confessed.

Draco felt like a lead rock. He was heavy with horror, anger, and regret at his own stupidity. He had thought he had known everything about Harry, but how could he have missed the fact that Harry had been so unloved and abused all of his life, by his own fucking family? How could he have been so blind? He had thought that he had loved Harry since First Year, but how could he love Harry when he didn't even know him? Draco bit his lip. He wanted to love Harry completely. He wanted to show Harry that he was worth something; he was worth everything in Draco's eyes. And hopefully, that would be enough.

He inched forward some more, tugging on the blanket a little to get Harry's attention, and in response, Harry opened his eyes and looked back at Draco curiously. Draco gave him a tiny, rare smile to reassure him.

"Love is being honest," Draco started, taking the front of the blanket in both hands firmly to keep Harry steady and focused on him. "Like telling you when your hairstyle is atrocious or how terrible your eyesight is… by the way, your hair looks positively horrid, Four Eyes."

Harry grinned a little at that. Draco smirked, and then kept going. "Love is opinionated and testy," he declared. "Love is that moment when you've got me pinned to the floor with your fist in my face while I'm screaming 'I'm going to fucking tear you apart' and flinging my legs around like a wheel. Love is when I call you 'potty' and you call me 'ferret' and we're yelling insults at each other but we don't really mean it. Love is the way your eyes flash and your jaw tightens whenever you see me pass in the corridor, but also the way your eyes sparkle and your mouth spreads into that godforsaken grin whenever you beat me at Quidditch yet again... bastard. Love is the reason that all of that matters."

Harry's hand laid spread out on his lap, and Draco took it brazenly. To his surprise, Harry's grip tightened and he squeezed Draco's hand back, silently, as if allowing him to go on. Draco did.

"Love is not entirely gentle, but it always has good intentions," he uttered softly, his heart lifting when Harry's eyes sparkled as he looked straight into Draco's gaze. "And love is the ability to say that I'm sorry. It is knowing that I've been wrong to let you believe that love was completely unkind, because it isn't. If I had only known... There are aspects of love that are mind-blowing and beautiful and a lot of other things that I've yet to discover, but I hope to discover with you."

He took a deep breath and shrugged. "And that's what it is, Harry," he admitted. "Love is not made up of your mistakes, or your failures, or your scars. Love is the ability to overcome those things. Love is the ability to overcome anything. Love is you and me, it always has been."

There was a long silence. Draco felt as though he might wait for a thousand years, although, he couldn't say that he wanted Harry to speed up. Needless to say, he was admittedly afraid of another rejection. He had felt like a complete and utter sap reciting that speech… but it had needed to be said, and besides, maybe it was time to tell Harry the truth. The boy was a Gryffindor at heart, so he ought to appreciate that, at least.

"Do you really love me like that, Draco?" Harry said finally, causing Draco to glance up at him. His ears rang from the use of his own first name and he couldn't help but feel a tiny twinge of hope.

"I do," Draco admitted.

"I think… if that's love..." Harry's mouth quirked up into a small, secretive smile. "I think I've always loved you like that too."

Draco brightened. "Really?"

"Yes, especially the part when I beat you up," Harry quipped. Then he let out a loud, beautiful laugh, something that Draco hadn't heard in months. In fact, he hadn't heard a laugh like that especially for him since, well, ever. The thought gave him a warm feeling in his chest.

"Sometimes I beat you up too," Draco protested, and Harry laughed again.

"But I always won," Harry reminded him.

"Stop reminding me," Draco complained.

Harry grinned beatifically, and for a moment, all time and space around them seemed to still. Then almost as if in slow motion, Harry leaned forward and laid a single, gentle, thank-you kiss upon Draco's lips. And just as strangely as it had begun, it ended, and time sped up again as Harry jumped back, looking frightened and unsure.

"I'm sorry," he stuttered. "I don't know why I did that."

Draco touched his lips where Harry had kissed him softly, awestruck by how light and free he felt. How beautiful the world seemed to become as Harry sat there, worrying his lip with wide, glowing green eyes. It was surreal. It was fantastic.

"I do," Draco said, before tilting his head and kissing Harry back, fully, his desire unleashing itself for the first time in six years. He felt the blanket slip from Harry's shoulders and the bare, warm, battered skin brushing against his jumper as Harry's lips moved against his eagerly. Draco didn't care about the ugly scars or the bruises or the words, not one bit. Harry was perfect just the way he was.