Author: dm_pTitle: Just Short of PeacePairing(s):
There were places that Harry hated to go, even after the hours of work put into trying to clean up the carnage left behind after the war.
Warnings (if any): It’s sort of dark, but otherwise, none.Total word count:
~6000Original prompt request number: 88Second prompt at link Disclaimer: This story/artwork is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoat Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.Author's notes:
This was so much fun to write and I was inspired so much by the prompt. I hope you enjoy!Beta(s): shultzie42Just Short of Peace
There were places that Harry hated to go, even after the hours of work put into trying to clean up the carnage left behind after the war. He hated the Great Hall the most. He hated looking up at the Head Table and not seeing Dumbledore. He hated the fact that Snape wasn’t there to hate anymore. No matter how loud the chatter between the long tables got, which could never compare to the chatter between the students before the war had worn everyone thin, Harry could never forget the suffocating silence of devastation. Harry could still remember the huddled groups of people, some crying, some wailing and others, like the Malfoys, just sitting in stunned, trembling silence.
Before Harry realized it he found his eyes drawn to Malfoy’s shock of slightly unkempt blond hair at the Slytherin table. All at once he remembered the same blond hair plastered to Malfoy’s forehead with sweat as Harry reached out for him. Most days Harry could still feel the flames licking at his feet. Sometimes, when Malfoy’s worn gaze would slide across the students sitting around him like he wasn’t seeing them at all, Harry would wonder if Malfoy could still feel them too.
The Gryffindor common room was always terribly overcrowded. It seemed that the students weren’t quite comfortable with going back to normal. The hallways were deserted and everyone had silently decided to quarantine themselves to their common rooms any time between classes and meals. Harry tried to adhere to this self-inflicted imprisonment for a while but there was only so much quality time he could stand with his housemates.
Hermione had thrown herself into being Head Girl, making up for Ron’s lack of enthusiasm about his position. Ron never said it, but Harry knew he was bored. Every once in a while Harry would catch Ron looking at him like he was expecting Harry to suggest they start out on a quest to hunt down and kill every remaining Death Eater, when in all reality Harry could go the rest of his life and never face another battle.
He gave it two weeks. Those two weeks crawled by so slowly that Harry was sure he had gone insane. At three-fourteen on the fourteenth day Harry stood up, drawing the attention of everyone around him.
“I’m going for a walk,” he said, his voice sounding too-loud to his ears. Gazes started shifting away from him, accepting the explanation he didn’t owe anyone. Hermione told him to be careful and he almost laughed.
Harry left, more willing to go places he’d rather avoid than sit in the common room and make a feeble attempt at normalcy. He wandered the hallways for hours until he was convinced he was being followed. A few hours more and Harry decided he wasn’t being followed; Instead, he was following someone. He could hear the echoes of footsteps just ahead of him and a number of times he thought he saw robes whip around the corner. If he quickened his pace so did the person in front of him. He followed the path of the person he wasn’t even sure was there until his stomach growled and he finally gave up in favour of dinner in spite of his building frustration.
All through dinner he couldn’t stop thinking about the slip of robes around a darkened corner or the resounding click of footsteps just beyond his reach.
Harry never thought he would be grateful for Divination, but he was. The new professor, a soft-spoken woman who reminded him a bit of Luna Lovegood and insisted they call her by her first name, Celeste, seemed to have a different method for Divination. She would wave them into the tower, passing out pillows to each of the students with a cheery smile and a reminder to remove their shoes.
Harry would take his place in the back of the room, toss his pillow to the ground and settle down onto it, letting out a deep breath as he tensed and released each muscle in his body one by one.
“Okay everyone,” Celeste toned, her voice light and pleasant. “Remember your breathing exercises. Breathe in deeply and breathe out everything outside this room.”
Divination had unofficially become therapy for war survivors and Harry couldn’t have been happier. The class size had grown to twice its original size in a matter of days. Harry had noted the new students with relaxed neutrality until Draco Malfoy slipped in on a Wednesday with minimal fanfare. Harry watched him retreat to a corner and sit hesitantly, his eyes never stopping their curious movement around the still students, trying to find out what they were doing. After a few moments it seemed Malfoy didn’t understand so he raised his hand. Celeste spotted him quickly and weaved through the students in varying states of meditation, kneeling down beside him.
“Professor Haven, I don’t…” Malfoy whispered so softly Harry had to strain to hear him.
“Please Draco, call me Celeste,” she corrected gently, her flowing skirt settling around her as she sat down beside him. “First off, you need to remove your shoes.” Malfoy hesitated but did as he was told. “The main goal with my class is relaxation,” Celeste whispered, apparently immune to the incredulous look Malfoy was favouring her with. “I have found that the only way to truly have the prophetic eye is to enter a state of meditation. Of course, the ability to reach that state takes years to master, so I’m just teaching everyone the basics. Release everything and just focus on breathing. Just breathe.”
Malfoy still looked suspicious but he didn’t argue. He waited until she left, taking his shoes with her, to close his eyes and let out a rather forced sigh. Harry could still see the tension in Malfoy’s shoulders but he forced that thought away, instead focusing on what Celeste had called ‘finding your centre’. He tried to quell the frustration of somehow being just short of peace; Sometimes he could feel a familiar breeze on the back of his neck or hear the echo of voices he should recognize but can’t.
Class ended like it always did. The students climbed to their feet, put their shoes back on, and went back into the real world. Usually people were hesitant to leave, but Malfoy was out the door before Harry had even stood up.
Harry couldn’t help but wonder if Malfoy was having as much trouble finding his centre as he was.
He wasn’t quite sure how long he had been staring at the blank wall. He had nearly passed it by but something made him stop. He supposed it was the tapestry with the trolls. He had lost track of what direction he was wandering and a rush of forgotten memories all assaulted him at once. There were no visible signs of the fire but Harry could only guess the devastation that was left behind.
Harry stared at the time-darkened stones until his eyes blurred. He felt his stomach seize and his throat tightened and he had to close his eyes. He felt like his lungs were shrinking too quickly to catch a breath so he had to leave. He went back the way he came, trying his best to catch a breath, any breath. He was sure he could hear footsteps behind him, the footsteps of the person he wasn’t conscious of following through the castle but apparently was, but he couldn’t turn around.
Instead he went to face a lesser evil: The Great Hall. The contained chatter of dinner couldn’t rid Harry’s mind of the memory of Malfoy’s screams as fire consumed everything around them, but it helped him forget for a moment.
This was the first time Harry noticed Malfoy’s absence from dinner. It used to be a habit of his: Sit down for dinner, spot Malfoy at the Slytherin table and spoon a bit of whatever was on the platter closest to him onto his plate and push it around as he pretended to listen to what Ron and Hermione were talking about.
It was a habit that was broken when he had decided to separate from the pack. While the rest of the school still moved in all-too-familiar patterns, Harry found himself constantly a few steps behind. By the time Harry made it to the Great Hall most nights the rest of the Hogwarts machine was well into their meals. Hermione’s disapproving look was only half-disapproving; the other half was pity. Ron would offer him a faint smile and pass him the pumpkin juice. Harry wanted to scream Stop looking at me like I’m dying in front of your eyes!
but couldn’t muster the energy. Instead he took the pumpkin juice and allowed Hermione to fill his plate for him.
Only after his fork fell from his hands and clattered to the floor did he seek out Malfoy, like he was the cause of the fall of Harry’s fork. Malfoy was not there, nor was there an empty space where Malfoy should have been. The Slytherin table had enveloped and consumed the places left vacant after the war, making it seem that those who had died had never existed at all. It seemed that Malfoy, along with Crabbe, had been listed among the lost.
Harry hadn’t realized his fork had been returned to his hands until Ron nudged him. “Come on mate, Hermione got your fork. Go ahead and eat.”
“You really should,” Hermione added gently. He didn’t want to disappoint them so he did, trying not to think about survival and adaptation or any of the other coping mechanisms Hermione had harped on and on about as she tried to prepare them for their return to a changed Hogwarts. Apparently the Slytherins had adapted to a life without Malfoy.
His thoughts drifted to how long the Gryffindors would take to adapt to a life without Harry Potter.
Harry’s life changed when Celeste suggested he find a place where he could be alone with his thoughts.
“I can’t have you coming to my office all the time,” she said one afternoon when Harry accepted his offered shoes. “I do have other places to be.”
Harry tied his laces, listening to the tinkling sound of her delicate ankle bracelet as she walked away. “Can I tell the whole of Gryffindor to leave me alone because you told me they had to?”
“I’ll write a note and pass it on to your Head of House,” she replied offhandedly, not picking up on his sarcasm. She began kicking the cushions into a haphazard pile. “You’re just in a different place mentally than your housemates. You deal with what happened differently but you are
dealing, and that’s the important part. I’m sure your friends can respect your efforts.”
Harry didn’t answer her; he was too busy trying to decide what he would tell Ron and Hermione about his extended self-isolation. He was climbing to his feet when a knock sounded at the door.
“Come in,” Celeste called, not looking up from her sporadic tidying as Draco Malfoy slipped into the room, his eyes widening then quickly narrowing when he saw Harry. “Take off your shoes Draco. Harry, we’ll see you next week. Work on finding a place to be alone with your thoughts, yeah?”
Harry froze for a second before he forced himself to brush past Malfoy to leave. He loitered around the door, trying to hear what Malfoy and Celeste were talking about. He could only hear faint muttering so he finally gave up, deciding his time would probably be better spent working on homework.
On his walk to the library, he noted the feeling of being followed, or rather of following someone, was absent. He was truly alone, and the weight of that moment hit him like a stunning spell.
Harry paced three times, thinking I need a place to be alone with my thoughts
. He didn’t want to go in the Room of Requirement, but it would be the only place he could be alone for any length of time and not be asked if he was okay.
He had been prepared for the worst. He had prepared for a sudden, feverish interest in his well-being from his classmates and had, through a letter to George Weasley, replenished his supply of Puking Pasties and Flu Floss just in case he needed an excuse. Instead of this, however, he made to leave the common room and no one noticed. They were either too caught up in their own problems to notice Harry anymore or they had finally decided he was too boring to watch. Harry had proven that they were no longer gawking at an inevitable train wreck; they were simply staring at a boy who didn’t know what to do with himself.
Harry stared at the wall, waiting for the door to appear. When it didn’t he started over, reminded of the well-worn path he walked when trying to figure out what Draco Malfoy was doing two years earlier. I need a place to face my demons
he thought and before he had walked past the second time the door appeared and swung open, emitting a gust of smoke-scented air.
“Potter,” Malfoy gasped and Harry couldn’t help but see he looked frightened.
“Malfoy,” Harry replied, burying his hands in his pockets. “I was just having a walk.”
Malfoy turned to shut the door but it had already disappeared. Harry noticed Malfoy’s hands were shaking the same moment that Malfoy himself did and defensively crossed his arms over his chest. “You don’t have to explain yourself to me, Potter.” Harry nodded absently as he watched Malfoy shift from one foot to the other, looking everywhere but at Harry.
“Did Celeste tell you to find a place to be alone?” Harry asked before he could stop himself. He couldn’t help but feel relieved when he saw all too-familiar anger flood Malfoy’s face.
“What Professor Haven says to me is none of your concern, Potter, and I suggest you deal with your own expanse of emotional and psychological problems before venturing to tackle anyone else’s,” Malfoy hissed very quickly, locking eyes with Harry for the first time. “Are we understood?”
Harry simply rolled his eyes and decided the library might work as a place to be alone with his thoughts. He couldn’t think of any response to Malfoy that wasn’t simply agreement, so he decided leaving was his safest option. He ventured one look back, but Malfoy was gone, more than likely back into the Room of Requirement.
Harry wondered as he wandered the deserted corridors leading to the library what Malfoy asked for when he paced in front of the entrance to the Room.
Harry waited two days before going back. Malfoy was nowhere to be seen, although the same nagging feeling of being followed ate away at him the closer he got to the entrance.
He asked for the same thing as before, and this time a door appeared the first time he tried it. He was quickly overwhelmed by the smell of smoke as he stepped inside, even though the room was empty of the burned contents. The stony walls were scorched, and a haze clouded the air. His eyes burned and his footsteps echoed as he walked deeper into the skeletal room he had conjured. Memories of the agonizing screams reverberating around him and in
him started to overwhelm him and he found his legs becoming heavier and heavier the more steps he took into the dimly-lit room.
It was then that he saw the mirror. He thought and had resigned himself to the fact that he would never see it again and his throat seized for reasons entirely different than the soot in the air and the memories of war flooding his brain.
Against the far wall stood the Mirror of Erised, an elaborate rug stretched at its feet. Harry didn’t realize he was being drawn to it until he had already stepped onto the rug and the sounds of his footfalls were muted by the thick fabric.
He didn’t recognize the man he saw in the mirror for the briefest of seconds. He stared into his own face, waiting for the mirror to change and his family to appear behind him. When they didn’t he began to panic, feeling more alone in that moment in the Mirror of Erised than he ever had. His eyes began to burn and he furiously fisted away his tears. He wanted to leave. More than anything he wanted to leave and forget he had no desires anymore. He shifted his weight to his heels the same moment he saw unfamiliar hands rest lightly on the hips of the Harry in the reflection. The hands slowly slid up his sides and Harry strained to try to catch a glimpse of their owner, but nothing other than the pale, slender arms and languidly-gripping fingers were visible.
He drew a shaking breath as the arms crossed over his chest, one hand pressed over his heart while the other gripped a handful of his shirt. His eyes didn’t leave the mirror as he raised his own and to cover the ones he could see but not feel.
Just seeing himself wrapped in a tight embrace was enough for Harry to feel tension he hadn’t known he was holding fall from his shoulders.
Harry exhaled and all at once found his centre.
Harry dreamed of the Mirror of Erised for two nights in a row. He dreamed he was drawn into a loving embrace that he couldn’t feel, no matter how tightly the arms appeared to hold him. He would wake up cold and frustrated, but never any closer to solving the mystery of who was giving him the hug he desired so much.
His newfound desire made it much easier to relax in Divination. He would breathe out the memories of cold, spell-scorched corridors and breathe in an all-encompassing sense of warmth and peace he had started to associate with that first glimpse in the Mirror. Instead of the burning scent of smoke he smelled a cool breeze as it blew past the back of his neck and made the tip of his nose tingle as he breathed in the fresh, crisp air. He could hear the rustle of new leaves on the trees surrounding him as the breeze drifted on, and somewhere distant he could hear the flow of water. With the sun warming his cheeks he would let out a content sigh that was echoed by the person holding him against their body, and all Harry could think was this is home
The thought made him ache if he focused on it for too long, so he took it by spells. He would immerse himself into the fantasy so deeply at times he was convinced he could smell freshly-tilled earth beneath his feet, while other times he focused on thinking about nothing at all.
Class was over before he knew it, and he was so relaxed it took him longer than usual to work up enough want to stand and leave. Celeste had disappeared into her office and the rest of the students talked softly as they gathered their things to leave. The last of the students were exiting the classroom by the time Harry stood and made his way over to the lone pair of shoes left. At least, he thought they were the only pair left until he saw a pair of well-maintained black loafers with a solitary scuff across the toe of the left shoe. He looked around the classroom for their owner, who he didn’t spot right away.
In the far corner, sitting on the bare floor, was Draco Malfoy, asleep against the wall with his tattered pillow wedged behind his head. He was breathing slowly and his arms were folded neatly in his lap, fingers curled around something Harry couldn’t see. His lips were pressed thin and the delicate skin around his eyes was purple and crinkled slightly in concern even in sleep.
Harry knelt down, his hand hesitating over Malfoy’s. After a second he tapped one of the other boy’s wrists with two fingers, and he awoke with a jolt. “Class is over Malfoy, you can leave,” Harry said, a small grin on his face.
Malfoy frowned, the skin around his eyes crinkling even more. His eyes shifted restlessly from Harry’s gaze to his grin and Malfoy climbed to his feet, letting his pillow fall to the ground. “I really don’t think it’s possible for you to mind your own bloody business,” Draco fumed as he took two long strides toward his shoes, snatching them up and not bothering to put them on.
“Excuse me for trying to be friendly,” Harry muttered, picking up Malfoy’s pillow and returning it to the pile with the others. Harry heard Malfoy sigh in annoyance.
“And for future reference, try not to grin at me like you’re watching a small child sleep or something equally as nauseating,” Malfoy snapped before leaving the classroom, barefoot and red-faced.
Harry couldn’t help the small chuckle that escaped him as he stared after Malfoy.
The tension had slowly worked its way back into Harry’s shoulders over the course of the next two weeks. Harry had remembered what Dumbledore had told him about men wasting away in front of the Mirror, choosing their deepest desires over the life they were really living. Harry didn’t want to fall into that trap so he tried to stay away from the mirror as long as possible. The longer he stayed away, however, the harder and harder it was to focus on everyday activities. The feeling that he had once known so well and had calmed him had faded away until he couldn’t remember that warm, heavy feeling he got when concentrating on finding his centre.
He waited to go back until he couldn’t wait anymore. He was at the entrance to the Room before he had even registered that it was his destination, and he thought I need to see the Mirror of Erised
as he paced until the door appeared.
He hesitated for a moment before pulling open the door, fighting back a cough as he breathed in the thick air from inside. He had nearly ducked inside the room when he heard a gasp echo from deeper inside. He froze and narrowed his eyes, squinting through the dark to see who he had startled.
He heard another gasp, this one a little softer than before. Harry didn’t dare try to get any closer without his Invisibility Cloak but his eyes had adjusted to the darkness and the bright head of Draco Malfoy came into focus. Malfoy was kneeling in front of the Mirror, his left hand braced against the mirror’s face while his right hand…
Malfoy was masturbating. His hair hung loose over his eyes as he stared intently into the Mirror, his mouth slightly agape. Even from behind him Harry could tell Malfoy’s pace was quick and another gasp escaped his lips. Even from his generous distance Harry could see a faint sheen of sweat across Malfoy’s brow and a bright flush of pink across his cheeks. Harry could feel arousal pooling in his groin and he left quickly, the blood in his ears pounding. He didn’t know if he had made any noise during his hasty exit and he couldn’t care. After he shut the door he ran until he found a dark alcove, trying to catch his breath, one of his hands pressed over his hard erection through his trousers.
He gave up trying to will it away and quickly unfastened his trousers, pulling himself off to thoughts of Malfoy gasping and coming on his knees in front of Harry.
Thoughts of seeing the Mirror were banished from his mind and his new focus was Malfoy.
He found it harder to concentrate in Divination the next class period. He was very aware of Malfoy’s presence and every time he would close his eyes it wouldn’t be long until they were open again, watching Malfoy. Malfoy would let out a frustrated breath and shift a bit in his seated position and Harry would watch. Malfoy would tighten one of his hands into a fist and release it and Harry would note the tendons slide under his skin.
It wasn’t until Malfoy leaned against the wall and crossed his hands over his chest that Harry noticed his arms. Or rather, Harry noticed that Malfoy’s arms were the ones wrapping around him in the Mirror to embrace him. Harry’s throat dried as he watched Malfoy hug himself, his eyes closed.
Harry’s eyes drifted to Malfoy’s groin and he nearly groaned, closing his eyes as he tried to force himself to stop thinking about Malfoy. Malfoy’s arms. Malfoy’s cock. Malfoy’s tired eyes. Harry allowed his knees to fall apart and he felt a wand stab into his right thigh. Harry had brought Malfoy’s wand from its hiding place at the bottom of his trunk to give back to him, but really for an excuse to talk to the other boy. He would give Malfoy’s wand back to him, apologize for keeping it for so long, and hopefully they could…
Harry wasn’t sure what he was expecting to happen. Malfoy would probably hex him and walk off. Malfoy might break his nose again. Malfoy might refuse to take it. Harry realized with an annoyed sigh that his efforts at not thinking about Malfoy weren’t working.
Class dragged on far longer than Harry thought absolutely necessary. Harry finally gave up and allowed himself to stare at Malfoy. Malfoy appeared more relaxed than Harry could ever remember him appearing. Perhaps he had found his centre as well. Perhaps he had found it in the Mirror. Harry’s skin burned at that thought and to avoid an embarrassing erection he turned his thoughts back to his plan to possibly befriend Malfoy. Celeste released the students back into the world and they all started gathering their things and returning their pillows to the pile. Harry forgot to look away from Malfoy and he found their gazes locked for a long second. Malfoy flushed and quickly looked away, scrambling to his feet and slipping discreetly into the throng of students. Harry clambered to his feet and chased after him, forgetting his shoes. He shouldered his back as he ran down the corridor, listening for Malfoy’s footsteps but finally deciding Malfoy must be barefoot as well. Déjà vu overtook him as Harry saw an edge of black school robes whip around the corner and he sped up, the heavy slapping of his feet on the stone floor causing pain.
“Malfoy, stop,” Harry panted, finally catching up to Malfoy’s fast walk.
“Fuck off, Potter,” Malfoy called over his shoulder.
Harry laid a hand on Malfoy’s shoulder and he whipped around, shrugging off the light touch. “I wanted to give you your wand back,” Harry said, rifling around in his bag for it. He pulled the rather scuffed wand out and held it out for Malfoy to take, panting a bit from the brief sprint.
Malfoy hesitated but took it from him. “It’s as useless to me as it is to you, Potter,” he said, all malice from his tone gone. “I’ve a new one. This one is rubbish.”
“But it’s yours,” Harry replied with a shrug. “It served me well when I needed it and I…well, I thought you might like it back.”
Malfoy hesitated again, staring at the wand he held in his hand like it might break at any moment. Softly, he said, “Thank you,” and tucked it into his robes. His head was bowed for a moment and Harry shifted uncomfortably, not sure what to say. Malfoy cleared his throat after a few seconds, lifting his chin a bit but not meeting Harry’s gaze. “I feel as though I must thank you for what you did for me. You didn’t have to save me in the Room of Requirement that day, especially after everything I had done, but you did. You saved me. I’ll forever be in your debt for that.”
“You don’t have to thank me,” Harry said quickly, feeling his ears burn. “It was nothing. I couldn’t just leave you there.”
Malfoy looked like he was about to argue but he didn’t. Instead he nodded. “Yes, well, now you can stop following me around the castle like a lost dog.”
Harry laughed, and noticed an amused twitch on Malfoy’s lips.
Harry watched Malfoy’s arms slide around his chest, his delicate hands gripping at his shirt and pressing over Harry’s speeding heartbeat. Harry didn’t move, he just watched his reflection be drawn into the embrace. This time he saw the top of Malfoy’s head appear behind him, then one grey eye. Malfoy shook an errant lock of blond hair out of his eye, an amused crinkle to his gaze that suggested he was grinning, and his head disappeared behind Harry again.
Harry watched with a familiar ache in his stomach. Once Malfoy lowered his arms to wrap around Harry’s waist for a moment and Harry saw Malfoy’s knee for a brief second, pressing against Harry’s before disappearing again. Malfoy was taunting him almost playfully, and this fresh taunt on top of everything else was almost too much to bear.
Harry wanted to reach down and take Malfoy’s hand into his but he didn’t, knowing he couldn’t handle reaching down and feeling nothing there beneath his palm. He just watched, finding it easier and easier to understand why someone would be content to stay there forever.
“It seems the tables have turned,” a voice he wasn’t expecting said from behind him, but Harry couldn’t look away, even as he felt his face heating up. “I suppose I’m the one following you around the castle now.”
Harry looked away from the mirror and turned, terribly glad that Malfoy couldn’t see what he had seen. “I suppose so,” Harry said a bit breathlessly, his eyes instantly falling to Malfoy’s arms. “You shouldn’t sneak up on people like that, especially me.”
“I suppose not,” Malfoy said, circling the edge of the rug. “Although I do think you were rather distracted. How intriguing, I wonder what the great Harry Potter desires over everything? A family, perhaps? Privacy? Glory?”
“Shove off, Malfoy,” Harry snapped, already feeling tension building in his shoulders. “What is it you said about dealing with your own problems before trying to tackle someone else’s?”
“I am dealing, that’s why I’m here,” Malfoy replied, quick as lightning. “But someone seems to have taken my place to be alone.”
Harry crossed his arms. “You took mine first.”
Malfoy stared at him for a long moment, his nostrils flaring. “Potter, I am trying my best to be accommodating and tolerant of you when I don’t have to be. I suggest you don’t push it.”
Harry didn’t move and neither did Malfoy. They glared at each other until Malfoy rolled his eyes and made to leave. Before Harry could stop himself he said, “I saw you. I saw you in here wanking to whatever you saw in the mirror. Place to be alone? You want a place to dream about what you want but can never have. What is it, Draco
Malfoy stopped cold and Harry realized he had done something terribly wrong. This wasn’t what he wanted. Malfoy’s head turned a fraction toward him and he balled his hands into fists, but he didn’t turn. After three excruciating seconds Malfoy left Harry alone.
Harry couldn’t face the Mirror after that.
Harry couldn’t take the castle anymore. The weather was starting to warm a bit as spring approached, so he decided to go on a walk outdoors. The wind was brisk, chapping his cheeks and lips as he started towards the edge of the Forbidden Forest.
The forest was the last place on his list. He hadn’t been there since the night he died and was reborn, and just the sight of the newly green trees made him wish longingly for one more day with his parents, Sirius, and Remus. He had thought his centre would look suspiciously like that light, soft moment he had with them, but it hadn’t.
His centre was with Malfoy.
Harry bypassed Hagrid’s Hut and instead stepped just inside the forest, staying just inside the tree line as he weaved his way through the soggy undergrowth. He was wearing an old pair of trainers; he hadn’t been back to the Divination tower to get his other pair of shoes. He imagined they were sitting there with Malfoy’s, his own looking far worse for the wear.
Harry heard muttering ahead of him, just outside of the forest. He sped up, the sound of his footsteps quelled slightly by the squelching earth. Someone was on their hands and knees digging furiously with their hands, two wands laying by their side on the grass. Harry stepped out of the trees and saw it was Malfoy, a thick swipe of dirt on his cheek. His eyes were red.
“What are you doing?” Harry asked, and Malfoy stiffened.
“Leave me alone.”
Harry sighed and couldn’t help but remember their first time in the forest their first year, when Malfoy had ran away and left Harry alone with Fang and Lord Voldemort. Harry looked up at the sky the same moment the sun appeared from behind the clouds, warming his cold face a bit. “I’m sorry about…”
Malfoy hissed, and Harry was shocked enough to fall silent. He watched Malfoy pick up his old hawthorn wand and throw it into the hole he had just dug with his hands. “Help me bury this,” Malfoy said, grabbing two big handfuls of wet dirt and throwing them back over the wand.
Harry knelt down to help him and they made quick work of the hole. Malfoy climbed back to his feet first, wiping his hands on his trousers and appearing to all the world to not care about the mess. Harry climbed to his feet more slowly, watching Malfoy with caution.
“It’s been killing you, I can tell,” Malfoy finally said after a long moment, taking a few steps back towards the forest. “It was you. In the Mirror.”
Harry didn’t know what to say. Apparently neither did Malfoy. They were both silent save for the rustling of leaves and the faint sound of running water. Harry turned away, facing the castle. He lifted his face to the sun again, closing his eyes against its bright rays.
Then he felt it. Draco’s arms slipping around his waist for a moment before sliding up, fisting his shirt and pulling Harry against his chest. Draco pressed his forehead between Harry’s shoulder blades and stretched his left hand over Harry’s rapidly beating heart. It was everything Harry had dreamed and more.
The cool breeze brought the smell of fresh dirt to his nose and he smiled, letting out a content sigh that was echoed behind him. This is home~fin