Previous Entry Share Next Entry
You Can't Win the Battle and the War - Chapter 12/12
Illyria, AtS
Chapter 12 - Draco: Clear

Ten minutes later found Harry sitting on a bench in the great hall, his back to the table, his head buried in his hands. He found it easy to ignore the people around him, easier than he would have expected; he had not for a moment considered returning to the bathroom. There was also the factor that very few people were in the Great Hall; most were grouped in the entrance hall.

He did not look up when a voice above him spoke, but his eyes, hidden by his hands, flew open.

“It must be bad for you to sit at the Slytherin table,” Draco Malfoy’s familiar voice drawled. Harry felt the bench sink as Malfoy – Draco – sat beside him.

“The tables aren’t separated into houses anymore,” Harry reminded him.

“Of course they are,” he replied curtly. Even as he tried to sound annoyed, Harry could hear the lazy smile in his voice. When Harry didn’t reply, Draco dropped a hand to his shoulder.

“Po – er, Harry…” His voice sounded uncertain for a moment, but when he continued any uncertainty was gone. “Why are you in here when people are looking to worship you out in the entrance hall?”

Harry looked up at him, expecting to see the usual sneer, but was surprised to see a face devoid of malice, just like his voice. He found that Draco was surprisingly handsome when he was so unguarded, so open. As he saw Harry’s face, his expression was flooded with mingled concern and surprise. Both emotions were gone as soon as they had appeared.

“I can’t be out there with all of them, knowing that – that I’ve let them down,” Harry answered bitterly.

“You didn’t let anyone down,” Draco responded without a moment’s hesitation. “You killed the Dark Lord yesterday, you think anyone cares that people died in the process? If it weren’t for you, people would still be dying.” He concluded with a tone of finality, letting Harry know that it would be no use arguing.

“I just don’t know what to do anymore. Nothing seems real. I don’t know anything now,” Harry confessed.

“Of course you don’t,” Draco replied, his voice softer than Harry had expected, softer than he had ever heard it. “You were the heart of this; the heart of everything. You were as caught up in this war as anyone.” Harry heard the “me” included in the word “anyone,” and suddenly Draco looked a little different.

“But what about now?” Harry asked.

“Don’t be stupid, Harry. The war is over.” Draco looked him straight in the eye before continuing, the piercing grey sending a chill down Harry’s spine. “You’re more than the war, Harry. You’re more than the Chosen One, or the Boy Who Lived. You always were. It just got covered up.”

“How do you know?” Harry pleaded, trying to understand what Draco seemed to see so plainly.

A smile played on Draco’s lips, good-natured unlike all those he had cast Harry’s way in the years previous. “You think I couldn’t see past all your pleas for attention?” he said, a laugh in his voice. Harry smiled in return, a real, genuine smile; something like warmth passed between them.

“But so many people died. I may as well have killed them,” Harry said, his eyes searching Draco’s face.

“Harry, do you realize how many people you’ve saved? If you blame yourself for every life lost, you won’t make it through a single day. If you can forgive me, I think you need to take a look at yourself,” Draco asserted. “You deserve forgiveness much more than me,” he added more quietly, his eyes bright and dancing with grey fire.

Harry straightened, not taking his eyes off Draco’s face. “Everything’s different now,” he said, his dull voice beginning to gain an edge, some sort of feeling sneaking its way in. Again, that crooked smile lit Draco’s lips.

“You can’t expect to kill a dark wizard without things changing,” he agreed. “Now you’re the savior of the world, now you’re the true wonder boy. Now people can sleep at night.”

“Now I don’t have to torture people,” he added, his voice growing strained.

Harry looked at him intently, seeing the relaxed face of his worst enemy through a window of dirt, mud, and blood that still smeared his glasses. The grime didn’t seem to permeate the image before him the way it did everything else; Draco’s face was clear. He looked different from how Harry had seen him before, as if he had changed overnight; or perhaps Harry had changed.

“Did you ever want to be there?” Harry asked him quietly, and a cloud passed over Draco’s face.

“When I was younger, yes. I believed it was the right place to be. It was everything you thought was wrong, so it had to be. But then I got older, and I realized – that’s not how the world works.” His voice was dark, covered by the same shadow as his face. He turned to Harry, a curious expression on his face, chasing away the darkness. “Did you ever wonder if you were right?” he inquired.

“Yes,” Harry admitted. “Sometimes – when I talked to you.”

A grin flitted across Draco’s face. “I see we’re on the same page, then. But then, we always were.”

Warmth spread through him at the sight of Draco’s easy grin. Harry felt a smile light his own features in spite of himself.

“As I recall, you were an evil git,” he said, the smile seeping into his voice.

“Yes, but so were you,” Draco countered. They smiled at each other for a moment, before the smile slid off Harry’s face.

“I don’t…everyone is acting different. Like I’m some big hero,” Harry said.

“Well, they’re idiots,” Draco explained. “I never fell for your hero act, of course. But…I guess I can understand why people might,” he granted. “You did just save the world. Give it time…” he reassured. “They might start celebrating your birthday,” he added.

Harry chuckled, jostling the shoulder of the pale boy beside him.

“You’ve put up with this you’re entire life. You’ve been in the papers, people stare at your scar; why would it start to both you now?” Draco reasoned.

Harry considered this. “I suppose…I don’t deserve it.”

The other boy gave a small, exasperated laugh. “Are you completely determined to be modest at all times? You are so Gryffindor. You just saved the wizarding world. How could you not deserve it?” he exclaimed.

Harry looked at him incredulously. “I thought you didn’t fall for my hero act,” he said.

“Well…I do find it hard to worship someone who’s as much of an idiot as you. The rest of the world doesn’t seem to find it an issue, though,” Draco said grudgingly. Harry felt the wide smile force its way back onto his face as they locked eyes again, and he cursed himself for grinning like an idiot. Draco’s face, however, lit with a similar smile, plain and open.

As warmth coursed through Harry, he saw Draco’s hand reach out, straight toward his face. Before he could react, his glasses were removed from his face and the world grew blurry.

“Wha -” he began, startled.

“Your glasses are filthy, Harry,” Draco informed him, his voice filled with something Harry had never heard before – was it fondness?

Harry watched as the blurry form he knew was Draco moved about, supposedly cleaning his glasses. He heard the clink of his glasses being set on the table, and before he could take them, Draco’s blurry figure stood and stooped forward.

Harry felt a chilled hand cup the back of his neck, sending both chills and warmth rushing through him from the point of contact. As his head was tipped upward, he felt soft lips brush his forehead, pressing against it. He closed his eyes, leaning into the push of Draco’s kiss. Finally, the hand and mouth were removed, slowly, as if reluctant to let go. Harry reached toward the table, snatched up his glasses, and replaced them back on his face. The dirt and grime were gone.

As he watched Draco walked away, warmth unfurled in his stomach and he saw the world clearer than before.

Harry knew everything would be okay.

Tags: , ,


Log in

No account? Create an account