Author's Note: For Al Riddle. I may have the wrong reasons. But you have all the right ones and deserve a happy ending or, more appropriately, a wonderful beginning. Thanks to Diadeloro for the wonderful beta work.
It was always the same wherever he went.
Draco scratched at the window, his blunt fingernails barely leaving a mark on the glass that served to separate him from the storm outside.
Water rained down in a fury, the drops creating puddles that ran together over the thirsty ground. There were thousands—no, millions—of them that somehow united into one grey haze. Draco watched the drops fall, wishing that he could be there, outside, catching them all in the palm of his outstretched hand. He couldn't help but wonder if they were sharp. If they would hurt.
He lifted his arm, resting his palm on the pane and closed his eyes, imagining that he could feel the wetness—and let the cold seep through the barrier into his skin. His mind wandered outside, and suddenly, he was no longer here in this castle that could somehow never house the enormity of his pain.
Waking from the dream was difficult. But he managed to resist the desire to stay, and slowly opened his eyes to reality. Of course, he would be there. Draco didn't even bother to turn around.
Reflected on the glass, Harry Potter was a mere sketch of black and white, the colors blurred by the water that raged behind the dust. He seemed barely human, so faint with just the splash of red and gold on his neck. Draco suddenly felt the urge to laugh but quelled the impulse as the other would probably not take it so well. Harry Potter was, ironically, looking quite tragic as he stood behind Draco.
"I'm sorry," Harry started.
"Potter," Draco sighed, interrupting the other. "Keep it. I'm not really in the mood."
Harry's eyes widened. A hint of green behind round mirrors. In that instant, he didn't seem so dull anymore. "But I—"
"It's late," Draco finished. He turned and walked past Harry briskly, his steps echoing inside his head as he headed to his dorm. And, no, he didn't look back.
And what about the pain that hands could not touch?
He didn't even learn through her.
How kind, Mother, he thought bitterly. You thought you could save me from despair for even a short time. But it didn't matter. He was now the Lord of the Manor, and his father's lawyers were judicious enough to kindly inform him of his family's latest situation.
He died a day ago. They said he didn't suffer long, and that the ending was swift. It was only five months since he his incarceration...
Incarceration. It sounded so civilized, even to him who knew what it meant. He thought about all the words invented to somehow lessen the blow of truth. That his father died in prison was not even the issue. That he suffered—and their simple act of trying to disregard it hurt more than the knowledge of his death.
What was five month in their hands? A year? Five years? Was Lucius even aware of the days as he sat in his bare cell in the company of soulless beings that sucked what faint stirrings of joy his mind could produce?
But Draco would never know. He was not here to answer his questions like he had always been before.
The letter from Potter lay on the table, unopened.
And what is a day?
When moments seem to whisper
that they would never end.
When war broke, Draco didn't even notice. For him, it had started far earlier—even before the people on the streets started disappearing as they left to places unknown where they hoped death could not find them. At school, the awareness had risen suddenly like a silent wave. Students walked the halls to their classes, listening to lectures when hushed news of what was going on circulated behind closed doors. It seemed that it wasn't fashionable to panic, not even when Aurors and Dark wizards alike started dying, one by one.
Of course, it all happened beyond the seemingly impenetrable walls of the school they called home. Even Draco was lulled by the false sense of security it provided as he lived through his duties everyday—laughing when it was appropriate, eating, reading, studying... but never smiling. That last took too much strength he could not afford to give.
He didn't bother counting the days, for they stretched longer than he would have liked, and he wasn't one to dwell on unimportant details such as time. What was important was now. And it all started on the day he decided to read what he had ignored.
He had never thrown the letter away, but managed to keep it on his desk for weeks without touching it, letting it gather dust among his papers. He wondered now if he would've touched it if it were not for the fact that he had just lost another game to Potter and was feeling quite bored with his consistency. He had expected the usual apology. Even sympathy. After all, he had received hundreds. What was one among many insignificant notes that now littered the space of his wastebasket?
It was my fault.
Somehow that didn't read right. Those simple words of admission angered him more than his mother's deceit. And he couldn't stop the surge of resentment that drove him to grab his parchment and a quill and write a response to what he deemed as an unnecessary show of righteousness. Who was Harry Potter to claim responsibility over the death of his father? Did he think that he was great, no, magnanimously heroic enough to voluntarily rest the blame on his shoulders?
It didn't take many words:
Your heroism appalls me. Did you even know him enough to say such a thing? Or do you even know what it feels to lose him and have you say that? Don't bother trying to be kind. He was responsible for everything he did, and had he lived, would not even try to deny the truth as you do.
Harry acted surprisingly polite and immediately dispatched an answer. He had explained his own loss, and his own loneliness over the death of his godfather. It took more than one exchange, and even more words of anger and spilled ink before their conversation (if it could be called that) calmed down somewhat. Draco had thought it would end with his stiff acceptance of their strange truce.
But it had not. Instead, he found himself writing often—not everyday—but often enough for him to be used to seeing Harry Potter's messy scrawl among the sheets of parchment that he pressed between his books on rainy Saturday nights:
It would never end, this trouble. They watch me now even more than ever. I think they are quite afraid that I shall suddenly run away and attempt to kill the creature that caused all this in the first place. Yes, I know they merely worry. But I don't feel pleasure in the loss of my freedom—or even just the pretend liberty that they allowed me during my brief life that I feel was stolen from me.
I can't even send an owl to you without having to inform someone where I'll be going. You are lucky to not have such constraints.
Yes, he was right. The past weeks had seen an upsurge of death rates in the countryside, and some students were now missing—called by their families or drafted into the duty of saving what was left of their world. Too many Aurors were now dead or missing, and the Ministry needed all the talent and bravery that they could get from the population. The younger ones were kept in Hogwarts, but those older ones who could help were strongly encouraged to participate in the fight that became inevitable the moment Voldemort was resurrected.
Draco remained quite detached, and his Head of House somehow sensed his lack of desire to involve himself in the war. Snape never bothered to ask him if he wanted to join the Order. They just left him alone in his dorm, which was what he really wanted. Or was it?
His lethargic existence was only broken by the occasional tapping of an owl on his window. His roommates weren't curious. Letters for Draco weren't unusual occurrences. His father's—well, he supposed they were his now—lawyers were faithful with their correspondence. However, after the initial flurry of letters informing him of his father's will and their distribution of the property according to it (everything went to him and his mother, except for a small plot in Wales that went to his Uncle Harvey), it had now trickled down to a bi-monthly note of his affairs.
He found himself unable to stop responding to Harry's letters. They fed him—his thoughts and the occasional humorous bits of his day. It was amusing that they had managed to achieve a certain level of affinity in their letters that they had never shared in person. Draco never attempted to advance it to a more personal level, and Harry respected that space, leaving him alone. To him, the written words were more real than their barely tangible lives in which they rarely saw each other except in classes that were postponed more often than held.
He imagined sometimes how Harry looked as he wrote them. Does he stick his tongue out a little the way he always does when writing notes in class? Does he try to hide the letters from his friends? But he would never know, would he? He was never there to watch. But he could always read.
And perhaps, although he never admitted this to himself, he preferred to maintain his illusion that the letters would never end.
Does it live forever,
or die in a corner,
He remembered that instant. He was sitting on his bed, imagining the places where forgotten dreams were kept when they ceased to matter. The door was open, but aside from him, the room was empty.
He heard the flurry of footsteps on the stairs just outside his door and the sudden silence in the common room that was just as swiftly broken by a storm of chatter. It sounded like something important just happened.
Draco cocked his head, listening to the barely audible conversations that traveled from below.
He's gone. Who? Harry Potter... fight against You-Know-Who. Missing in action. ...they think he's dead...
So that was why the letters had stopped. He had thought it was due to a lack of interest on Harry's part, and had strived to forget about it. He had not even acknowledged the hurt that crept unwanted into his thoughts. Indifference was his last defense, or so he thought.
It had taken him several nights and days of indecision before he finally found the courage to walk to Snape's door, knock, and say that yes, he wanted to join the fight.
And suddenly, he didn't feel so weighed down anymore.
Only fools rush in.
One year and two days.
Twelve months and two days from the day he saw him on the window, reflected on the dusty glass he used to view as his prison.
Only now, it wasn't raining.
The grass swayed gently over his feet, tickling the leather surface of his boots. He could even hear the birds singing. This was truly a wonderful place to stay.
He knelt in front of Harry and smiled faintly. His brave hero. Bending slightly, he brushed the dust off Harry's glasses. They gleamed like mirrors, reflecting the sun.
"You were wrong. It wasn't your fault." Draco paused. "But you did a lot, and I can never thank you enough for that."
He pressed a hand to his face and felt the tears burn behind his lids. But he refused to cry in front of him. Not now. His fingers traced the grooves on the white marble stone that lay so nobly on the green, green land where he lay.
"Maybe someday..." he whispered, his voice cracking slightly. "Maybe someday your letters will reach me. And I can write to you once more."
His hand touched an arm where he felt the lump of bandages beneath the clothes. Harry had not just given him words.
He had given him a life.
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