Title: Thoughts of others

Author: Aristide Cauquemaire

Pairing: HP/DM

Rating: M for grown-up language and a teensy bit of violence

Warning: Called epilogue because it doesn't even have 700 words and therefore doesn't deserve to be called "chapter". Also, because this is the end of the journey.

Have you read chapter 12? I posted it today as well.

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-/Chapter 13 - Epilogue/-

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Dear Draco,

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Dear

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Draco,

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Malfoy,
I am sorry. I was

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Malfoy,
I was stupid. I am sor

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Malfoy,
I am stupid. I should have

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Malfoy,
This is not an apology. There is nothing I need to apol

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Malfoy,
I am angry.

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Malfoy,
I'm not good with words. So why the hell am I writing this fucking letter

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Malfoy,
If things weren't difficult and I weren't a mess – if I asked, would you let me

Harry Potter was not normally one to throw hexes at animals. Especially not at young owls in training whose intentions were pure and good. But seeing that letter – it wasn't really a letter, it wasn't even a note, it was an assembly of almost meaningless, crabbed words on paper that wasn't meant for anyone's eyes – that "letter" fly away into a rainy London morning made him curse the overzealous little fucker like he never had before. But it was young and fast and agile, and finally it was gone and beyond his reach.

He kicked at things until it felt like he had broken or at least badly bruised his toe and threw the glass carafe of his coffee machine across the kitchen which he regretted instantly. The carafe had been half full.

The rage subsided and cold dread set in.

He spent the day trying to tell himself that the young barn owl was such a scrawny little thing and that she might as well have lost the slip of paper in the weather – the weather reports informed him that there were strong winds and rain all across Britain, and the English Channel, and France. And anyhow, maybe the stupid animal hadn't even made it across the water at all. It was a long way to Bordeaux. Inexperienced birds had been known to just die from exhaustion halfway.

Days went by. Eventually the morning of the owl incident was a whole week ago. The kitchen stopped smelling of old coffee. Harry stopped losing sleep over the inadvertently sent message, although it wasn't clear if that was because the worry lost his edge, or because he was simply bodily tired.

Another week later he came home from a three-day mission. His head was so comfortably numb and empty that he didn't even notice the animal sitting perched on the back rest of his kitchen chair at first. Plus, it was sooty all over from obviously having entered the house via the chimney, and its white and creamy feathers were grey and black.

The obscure silhouette screeched at him as he passed it by which almost have him a heart attack.

The sight of the little message, rolled up and tied tidily to her leg, finished him. He reached out to steady himself on the wall.

Then he went and all but ripped the note off of her – she nipped at his fingers for that, indignant about his roughness – and unrolled it. It was dirty and smeared and soaked on the edges.

His heart skipped two beats when he read it.

Malfoy,
If things weren't difficult and I weren't a mess – if I asked, would you let me

It was his own letter.

"You only brought it back," he whispered at the owl and choked on his words.

And then choked again when he spotted an addition to what he had written.

In very neat, small script, Draco Malfoy had written a response right at the bottom of the tattered slip, as if to leave room for all the words he hadn't managed to get onto the paper when his overeager trainee had abducted it.

Harry breathed, and smiled despite himself, and read it again.

.

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In a heartbeat, Potter.

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/FIN

(Thank you all so much.)