May 31st, 2009
|dracofiend||11:30 pm - Enchantment; Loss (Part 2 of 2)|
Title: Enchantment; Loss (Part 2 of 2)
Pairings: HP/LM, HP/DM
Summary: Harry wishes for one thing only.
Author's Note: Originally written for hd_worldcup 2009, for the prompt of "A snitch in time saves nine hours of Quidditch." The version under the cut includes two additional scenes; the original version posted in hd_worldcup is rated R for implied chan and is available here.
The collapse of Harry's life begins on a Thursday, in his flat, in the first hour of the morning. Lucius is with him, seated at the cherrywood table that had been given to Harry as a housewarming present. It's a bit large for the space and noticeably sumptuous against the backdrop of the other furnishings, thanks to Narcissa's exquisite taste.
"I'm pleased to hear all is progressing well with the Aurors," Lucius says. The head of his walking stick sparkles against his thigh. "I had no doubt they would see your potential early on. Fortunately, one need not possess great talent in order to recognize it in someone else." He smiles and shifts the walking stick from his lap.
Harry had been moving toward the bathroom to start preparing for bed, but when he sees Lucius rising, he alters his direction and opens his mouth to ask. He doesn't, though, because Lucius is adjusting his right glove. Lucius will not stay.
Harry is in the midst of constructing a reason in his mind, a fine reason, to persuade Lucius not to leave when Lucius reaches out an arm. Harry goes to him immediately; the lambskin glove is light against his hair.
"Come to the Manor tomorrow night for dinner," he says, "and dress nicely, please. We're having guests. Oh, and do bring those clever toys the Weasley boys brought you—I think Draco would enjoy them."
Harry nods and murmurs okay while wrapping his arms tightly around Lucius, pressing his cheek to the smooth wool where Lucius' overcloak parts. The fastenings of the robes underneath are just visible to Harry, though the family motto engraved on them is too close to make out. Tibi ipsi dic verum, they say.
"He misses your company," Lucius continues. The weight of the glove is drawn away then, and Harry knows it means good night. His embrace doesn't slacken until Lucius makes it so, easing back a step gently and straightening his cloak.
"Good night," Lucius says, inclining his head. With a twist he is vanished before Harry can utter a word.
That evening Harry arrives at the Manor, appropriately attired and with a big yellow box under his arm. Its bold blue lettering lights up when viewed, flashing Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes with pride. He's ahead of schedule—maybe he can see Lucius before the guests come—but the house elf he asks can only tell him the master is occupied, and he roams the halls fruitlessly for a little while. Draco finds him as he's exiting the empty third-floor study.
"Oh good, you're finally here," Draco greets him. "And looking ravishing tonight—are those for me?" He glances at the box, his wry expression becoming pleased when the letters work their magic. Harry grins at the reaction.
"Nice robes," he replies, presenting Draco the box. "Your dad asked me to bring them…where is he, anyway? I didn't see him downstairs. Or your mum, in fact, but I figured she's still getting ready, right?" he adds for good casual measure.
"Oh, they're with the others in the music room," Draco answers, "but don't worry, we'll be called when we're wanted. What the bloody hell is this? A rubber wand?" He fishes out a wand with a disdainful snort, then gasps and almost drops it when it turns into a relatively fresh sardine.
"Ugh!" He flings it to the floor with a splat as Harry laughs. "That's appalling!" Draco frowns, reaching over to wipe his hand across the front of Harry's sleeve. Harry charms the smears away.
"Great, isn't it?" Harry grins. "It's a trick wand—oh, I'd stay away from those," he warns when Draco pulls out a sweet. "That's a Ton-Tongue Toffee—it turns your tongue into this unbelievable, gruesome, snake-like monstrosity that actually rolls out onto the ground like it's about to take over the world."
"That sounds interesting," Draco says brightly. "All right, let's see." He thrusts the toffee at Harry.
"No!" Harry pushes it away good-humoredly. "You eat it, if you want to see it so badly!"
"I'm not that brave," Draco insists, "not like you. I haven't the nerve! I'm sure you could handle it, however—though I can see a ton-sized tongue creating a problem at the table. What about after dinner?"
Harry is proclaiming his steadfast refusal and Draco's mistaken assumptions regarding the power of flattery when Dobby appears, summoning them to the formal dining room with wide, watery eyes. Draco leaves the Wheezes in Dobby's care and they set off down the spiral stairs.
The dining room is fuller than Harry had expected, and a few of their former classmates from Slytherin are also there. Even more surprising, he is led by the house elf to the front of a long table, draped in cream linen and glistening with a forest of crystal and silver.
"Master Draco is to be sitting with his friends, as my Master wishes," the house elf tells Draco apologetically, when Draco stays alongside Harry. Draco pauses, blinking, then his features ease to blankness.
"I see." He doesn't turn to the far end of the table, though, to where the house elf gestures, and Harry tries, uncomfortably, "Could you make room for Draco wherever I'm supposed to be? Maybe put in an extra chair—I'd really rather we sit together—"
"Ruks is very sorry, Master Harry, very sorry he is," is the tremulous answer. "My Master commands it and Ruks is to obey. Master Draco, your friends is very happy to see you…" He trails off, ears quavering as Draco's face grows blander.
"Of course," Draco says, shrugging. "Father can be particular about such things; it doesn't matter to me," he tells Harry in a dismissive tone. Harry quickly agrees and adds, "Save room for pudding—there are lots of other treats in that box besides toffees." Draco kind of smiles at that and turns away. The house elf brings Harry to his seat, which is at the very end, next to the place at the head, where Lucius usually sits. The chairs around him are unoccupied, and Harry looks down the length of the table. He recognizes some faces—they're parents he's seen on the platform at King's Cross—though he can't name all the names. They're talking to each other in the low tones of polite company; once or twice someone catches Harry's eye and Harry looks away, not wanting to stare. After several minutes of looking around, not talking to anyone, and straining to see Draco all the way at the other end, next to Pansy Parkinson, several people enter at once. The seated guests' voices drop, then become entirely muted.
Harry looks twice as he recognizes Professor Snape, in formal robes and with a woman on his arm whom Harry has never seen. Behind them he glimpses Lucius—his chest catches reflexively—escorting Narcissa in. Harry watches Lucius as long as he can before curiosity compels him to examine the dark figure bringing up the rear. He's a tall man, thin, with an ivory pallor to his face and lean, refined features. The lady with Snape is being seated across from Harry; Snape waits for her to arrange herself before he takes the chair beside her. She has voluminous quantities of black hair and long-lashed, heavy eyelids—before Harry notices anything more, Lucius is stopping beside him, waiting for Narcissa to sit, then taking the chair at Harry's left, brushing his elbow as he does so. Harry dares to dart his eyes sideways, but he knows better than to smile. The final guest approaches; the house elf adjusts the chair for him. He does not sit down, and suddenly everyone around Harry is getting up. Harry quickly does the same.
"My dear friends," the gentleman says slowly, taking peculiar care in his speech, as if his tongue is unaccustomed to the language. "Seventeen years…seventeen years since we last met. Yet you answer my call as though it were yesterday. How gratifying it is to see you here this evening! Ah, it has been too long." Harry watches him discreetly and sees his gaze flickering from one guest to the next, down one side with deliberation, and up the other. Harry can't detect any trace of a foreign accent, and yet—there's something unusual in the form of his words. "It has been far too long. However," the man continues after a beat, "despite the long delay in our reunion, I believe this occasion has been well worth the wait…particularly in light of Lucius' singular, and most worthy, achievements. Please, shall we raise our glasses to Lucius?"
The foreigner lifts his glass of red wine, and each person at the table immediately follows suit. So does Harry, wondering who the man is (perhaps some overseas wizarding government official?), what he's congratulating Lucius for, and why Lucius hadn't mentioned this was to be a celebratory dinner.
"To Lucius," the man says with a slight smile, directing his glass and his gaze over Harry's head. "To Lucius," the table echoes. Harry turns to look at Lucius because everyone else is, but Lucius is looking only at the speaker, lifting his own wine to the air. He is returning the smile with a gracious one of his own, his eyes grave and deeply attentive. Harry sips his wine, wondering, wondering who this man could be to have Lucius thus enraptured.
After the toast the man brushes back his plain robes and sits. Again, everyone else follows, and Harry watches the man give Lucius a nod, after which Lucius half-turns his head and nods to thin air. It produces rolls on their bread plates and shallow dishes of lobster broth; their napkins are fanned upon their laps without a sound. Harry turns his attention to the man at the head of the table and waits for him to begin.
The guest meets Harry's eyes. Harry smiles politely; the next instant his head is exploding in eviscerating pain, the agony a fat blade thrust fast through his skull. Then it's gone, leaving Harry's eyes wet as he re-opens them. The stranger is breaking his roll in half and spreading it with butter; Lucius' bare fingers are resting his shoulder.
"Are you feeling unwell?" he murmurs.
The voice at his ear completes Harry's recovery; he looks over gratefully and gives his head a small shake. "I'm fine," he answers quietly, wishing he could shift nearer. "Just an odd moment of dizziness." Probably because I'm sitting so close you, he thinks but doesn't say, settling for a smile to himself instead. Crystal and cutlery are clinking and tinkling around him—the pleasant cadence of dinner party talk begins to flow. Harry tears off a piece of his roll.
"Harry Potter," the strange voice intones, "I must tell you how eagerly I have longed for this day."
Harry's chewing his bread when the man starts speaking to him. He puts on a smile and swallows, finding the man's fixed gaze somewhat discomforting. Something about the man's posture and demeanor, the gingerness of his movement, suggests great age—his appearance, in contrast, is unlined and untouched.
"Every man, woman and child in our world knows the tragic story of your childhood—very probably it is the story of wizardkind," the stranger says, amusement lifting his lips. "A story poised for transformation into a tale of good and evil, a truly mythic tale. It may even immortalize you, in a manner of speaking."
The stranger's smile widens to reveal beautiful teeth, and he stops to dip his spreading knife into the butter. Harry's somewhat shocked—he isn't sure of the appropriate way to respond, but he's certain that this would be a taboo topic of conversation were it not the guest of honor who was in breach of common etiquette.
The stranger spares him the search for something proper to say. "You may not realize how very closely I hold your story to my heart," the man resumes, "and indeed, you do not; it seems Lucius has abided by my wish to make this a little surprise." He glances at Lucius and positively beams when Lucius replies with a solemn nod. "Ah, wonderful, you have done so wonderfully, my dear Lucius!" the man almost laughs aloud.
Through a sudden dull ache in his head, Harry notices that Snape and the woman beside him have stopped conversing with each other and are now openly observing the stranger as he talks. "In that case, Harry, perhaps you can answer for yourself the question in your mind and guess who I am?" The man gestures vaguely with his buttered bread. "Lucius has told me you are a brilliant boy; intelligent, quite magically gifted, a nimble learner, decisive in your actions—though perhaps a bit impetuous, hm?" He tilts his head and takes a careful bite of his roll, and the gleam of his eye, the emphasis of his last words sets Harry's heart rushing. This man knows about Lucius.
The stranger chokes delicately, his finely-formed face creasing into a closed-mouth grin while his mouth works to finish. He chuckles—a distasteful papery sound—and reaches for his wine. "Harry, no cause for such alarm!" The man drinks, drawing out the swallow, closing his eyes as if he's savoring being alive. "I shan't reveal your secrets, not here at this fine table." He opens his eyes, smiling at Harry, and Harry is seconds from pushing back from the table and excusing himself. "It would be tres gauche! Ah, but you mustn't think of leaving us—have you guessed who I am yet? No?"
The throb in Harry's head is becoming duller but more diffuse—his thoughts fall from their shelves like flying earthenware, crashing in his brain, piling into senseless patterns that make him disangled, horribly winded. It feels like he's spinning, the sounds are spinning around him though he sits stone-still in his plush and tassled chair.
The man polishes off his roll and takes up his spoon. "I am Lord Voldemort. It’s such a pleasure to see you again, Harry." He smiles at Harry, and begins to drink his soup.
Harry cannot move—his chest is held taut by a thousand seizing fists, each of them gloved and tearing out his breath, his sight, his instinct to ask aloud if this is a joke. After a time Harry is cognizant that his head aches, and that Lucius has bent toward him and is talking in a low voice.
"You haven't touched your consomme—is anything wrong with it?"
The question re-animates Harry and he decides to look at Lucius, though he fears—he doesn't know what. Will Lucius bare fangs, sprout horns? Will his eyes glow red? Harry turns his head—Lucius looks no different. His handsome features are unchanged; his eyes remain pale gray. He gazes at Harry with the full expectation of a satisfactory answer, and Harry returns to breathing.
"Oh no, not at all," Harry replies, the gap in his thudding brain bridged by robust manners. "It looks lovely, thank you." He suddenly realizes he may be holding up the next course for the table but still the proper thing to do is to consume a few brief spoonfuls, as a courtesy, so he picks up his shining soup spoon—and it jerks him away.
Grimmauld Place is true to its name, a street both desolate and unhappily tread by time. The secret anomaly is Number Twelve, kept hidden and bustling and lit and clean by magic. The comings and goings and meetings and urgent shoutings and whispers keep Harry afloat in the first several days after he tumbles into being on the bare wooden floor. Draco is dumped down moments after, just as dazed, but as he leaps up toward Harry he is surrounded by bodies and is borne from sight.
Harry's friends are there, his Gryffindor friends—at the first opportunity they take him up to the scrubbed rooms near the attic and show him the transfigured beds, which are lumpy because Neville did them when Hermione was occupied elsewhere and no one has had the time or energy to fix them. They explain what has happened—there's an order of some sort, an order and a phoenix, hurriedly convened (or re-convened?) when word had come that the Dark Lord, yes the very one who murdered Harry's parents and tried to murder Harry—has re-risen. Harry's friends talk over each other, their eyes and mouths like circles, like the circles of the story that repeats itself. It's happening again, they say, like it happened before. Harry understands that the theme is deja-vu, and it's almost—almost deja-vu when he's lying in his lumpy bed one night in his tiny room while the others listen in the hallway to another meeting via Extendible Ears. There's a faint knock at the door, just as he would dream it if he could still dream pleasant dreams, and without hesitation Harry says, "Come in."
He could use a pleasant dream right about now, and it peers in at him from a shadow, beyond his opening door. Harry's bedroom lamp outlines familiar features, long-missed, beloved, light eyes and light hair.
"Hi," he says, joy climbing his throat. By reflex he speaks softly and sits up without a sound. All he hears is the liquid pounding of his chest and he thinks he should've trusted because he knows Lucius better, better than anyone in this whole rotten house.
Except for possibly Draco, who peers in from outside and leans against the door.
"Hi," Draco says, half in and half out. He looks at Harry for a long moment while Harry's dream fades. "They, um. They let me out today," Draco says, almost too quietly. "Of my room. Apparently I've convinced them that I haven't a bloody clue, either. So I thought I'd come and, you know. See if you were all right."
Harry regulates his breathing back into its numb state; Draco steps in hesitantly. "So, are you?" Draco asks, one hand still on the doorknob.
There's only one response to this. "Fuck no," Harry laughs, dry and crackling. "And you?" he asks. Small courtesies sweeten life, Lucius has said.
"Likewise," Draco replies. He pushes the door shut behind him and moves to sit at the edge of the bed.
Harry is sitting in the kitchen with his friends, ostensibly discussing the current state of the war. They're supposed to be scrubbing the pots and pans the lone house elf hasn't managed to clean. He's making better progress than most because he's not listening or saying too much, though Draco's already worked his way through a saucepan and a double-boiler and is currently attending to an overworked fish kettle. As Harry idly contemplates how strange such a scene would've seemed—Draco toiling away intently at house elf's work—a short while ago, Draco raises his head and catches Harry's gaze.
"What're you looking at, Potter?" Draco mutters, glaring back hard for a second before ducking his head. Harry grins, knowing Draco can't keep a straight face.
"You, Malfoy," Harry says under his breath. "Those dishwashing gloves are hot. My god, they’re sizzling. It's utterly distracting."
Draco's rag pauses on a stainless steel handle before continuing to scrub. "Sick fuck," he mutters, and Harry laughs quietly. Draco's trying to convey the impression of lofty anger as he looks at Harry sideways again, but it quickly disintegrates and he turns aside, not quite unsmiling.
This is the extent of their frivolity for the day, and indeed, for many to come, as Mrs. Weasley pushes through the swinging door next, her wan face markedly drawn. A few rags and sponges exhibit renewed efforts at her presence, but Mrs. Weasley doesn't chide. She comes to Draco's side and hovers over him, and because Harry's right there, he can hear what she says.
"Draco, dear. Professor Snape is here—he needs to speak with you. It doesn't need to be now; you can see him whenever you're ready."
Then she envelopes him into a hug, a close one, despite the soap and the gloves and the fish kettle and the rag. Harry feels the kitchen go still, sees her eyes fall shut and her mouth run flat and the back of Draco's shining head tilt alongside her tired cheek. Harry's stomach slants. He wants Draco to return to cleaning, to never leave this room.
Harry doesn't see Draco is in the library until it's too late, and Draco has seen him, is looking him full in the face. Harry can't turn around, pretend he means to go somewhere else, pretend he remembers an urgent other task and fly from the door.
"Would you fucking believe it?" Draco says without preamble, from beside a threadbare tapestry that traces family lineage with long-faded lines. "He got my parents too."
Draco turns around coolly and spies a wooden step-stool, which someone had been using to dust the top shelves. He goes over and picks up the feather duster resting upon it. "Same spell, I believe," he says, quite clearly. "Avada Kedavra? Not innovative at all but I suppose if it isn't broke…" His voice expires when he sits carefully on the stool, as if his heart or his seat might snap in the middle, and he grips the duster in his lap and breathes in once, sharply.
Harry's feet bring him forward; his arms bring their heads together. Draco's pointy chin hooks into the crook of his neck. Harry squeezes his friend's shoulders while Draco squeezes the feather duster, grips it until he's shuddering, breathing fast through his nose which soon begins to sound wet, breathing fast through his mouth until the inhales thicken. Harry grips Draco and feels the backs of his own eyes burn. He keeps them open, wide, and they burn.
"Hey," Draco whispers, when Harry turns onto his side at the sound of the door.
"Hey," Harry whispers back, as if he's been sleeping. He hasn't been, for a time. A timeless time. Draco hasn't been, either.
Draco slips in and closes the door behind him, turning the doorknob soundlessly to no purpose, as the weary timber always creaks. So does the floor, in more timid fashion, as Draco steps barefoot over the worn rugs to the side of Harry's bed. Harry sits up with a rustle of sheets and a faint wheeze of bedsprings, and gives Draco's outline a small tired smile. The only light creeps from beneath lowered blinds that don't quite blind, and it reflects from Draco's eyes, sometimes. Draco seems to smile back—Harry never can actually tell but it feels like it—and lowers himself to the ground and leans his back against the bedframe.
It's quiet for a bit; there's not really even the soft noise of people breathing, but the space has become less tight, more tolerable, which always happens when Draco comes and sits. They're in Harry's room because it's shunted to the corner, sandwiched between the bathroom and a sloping wall, while Draco's is right next to Neville's and one time Harry was going in while Neville was coming out and it was about three in the morning and there were some startled looks exchanged, both at the awful moment itself and the next morning. Neville didn't say anything, but now Draco comes to Harry's room and Harry doesn't go to his.
"Helped Mrs. Weasley with the pantry today," Draco says after awhile. "Do you know, we've got fifteen tins of doxy eggs. In broth."
"Really? That's horrifying," Harry replies, not lifting his head from where it rests on the headboard. He swivels his eyes sideways to the shadowed blur of Draco's shoulder. "What are they doing in the pantry?"
"Awaiting death by toast," Draco says, waspish. "We'll be having them for breakfast for the foreseeable future—was there somewhere else you'd rather they be?"
"You're joking, right? People don't actually eat those? I don't think that's safe—"
"They're guaranteed fresh through November of next year and people eat them all the time—it's typical tinned food fare so naturally you won't have tried it—"
"Then the space under the sofa in the music room would've make a bloody good buffet—"
"They're rather like mushrooms," Draco interrupts, twisting his head around in the dark. "Some you eat. Some you don't." Harry feels him staring and can picture Draco's lordly expression, the one he uses when he allows the moron to be left unsaid, though Harry can't much see it without his glasses or the light.
"Oh," Harry says. "I never cared for mushrooms."
He listens for Draco's impatient intake of breath before his straight face breaks into a ha-ha grin. "Though doxy eggs can be all right," Harry continues, with a laugh in his voice. "Mrs. Weasley's doxy egg salad was actually really good—you must've missed it at lunch the other day."
"As a matter of fact, I did," Draco answers dryly. "As another matter of fact, you're a fucking twat and if anyone else was on the same insomniatic schedule as I am and wouldn't mind me stopping by for a three a.m. chat then I'd have no use for you or your disgraceful rug here."
"And yet, you love me," Harry says with a muted chuckle.
Draco's outline jerks, which causes Harry to sit up. The bed growls metallically.
Draco turns away and resumes his former seat, with his back against the bed and his fuzzy profile to Harry.
"Must you always do that?" Draco asks lightly. "Pretend not to know something so you can make fun of me while I explain it?"
Harry's heart pounds suddenly—it hurts but he feels fine because they are getting to something he's known or almost known for—he can't remember how long, maybe since they've been here but maybe since before—anyway he trusts their friendship, and even if this goes wrong he will still be for Draco.
Unfortunately, this certainty doesn't help him with what he ought to say, so after a moment in which the darkness is frozen about them and Draco is utterly still, Harry does the first thing that comes to mind and wriggles leftwards on the bed, wincing as the springs finish the silence with jarring squeals.
"Sorry about the rug," he says, affecting calm and pulling the blanket aside to make space. "You want to try up here?"
Draco rises with a shrug, sits on the edge of the bed with hardly a bedspring's groan, then folds his legs and torso up. He affects calm too, and might do it a little better than Harry, though Harry figures Draco might have an edge when Harry's not got his glasses on.
Harry wants to find out.
He reaches over and closes his hand on Draco's wrist, where it rests nonchalantly against a warm hillock of blanket.
"What are you doing?" Draco asks mildly, as if out of idle curiosity. Harry finds Draco's pulse, and inwardly concedes that Draco is far superior in this business of affecting calm. The soft dip of Draco's wrist is like the tiny mallet of the world's most industrious fairy. It strikes at Harry's fingertips, astonishingly swift, the rush and flow out of rhythm with the racing beats of Harry's own.
"I'm feeling your pulse," Harry says, steadily enough. He wants to say something else, something funny, or at least normal, but the closeness of Draco's hip has squeezed all chance of that from him.
"Ah," Draco replies eventually. "Is everything in order then, doctor?" He says it with all the brittle sarcasm it deserves, but beneath Harry's fingertips Draco's pulse has quickened, impossibly.
"I'm—not sure," Harry says, or thinks he says—all at once he realizes just how near Draco is, all of him, his hip and his face and his arm and his hair and Harry feels his nerve spilling away in a wave of what the fuck. He lets go of Draco's wrist and would push himself from the bed except it moves under him, abruptly, when Draco's shoulder drops and he's twisting his neck and his mouth is touching Harry's in an off-centered press.
It's nothing at all like the last time Harry kissed—Draco's chin is much smoother and he doesn't push, he doesn't tilt his jaw sideways, he doesn't slide a hand to Harry's neck to draw him in. Despite the shock of the moment Harry can't help but compare—Draco has no vehemence.
Draco's mouth ebbs back. He looks at Harry with dark eyes. Then he mutters lowly, "Is it all right?"
For an odd instant he is wholly unfamiliar—someone Harry's never seen, a random person with blond hair and excessively angular features who happens to be sitting with his lips by Harry's lips. Harry blinks, his lungs aching—and sees Draco again. This is Draco. This is Draco, who has never before looked so unsure. Harry swallows; the bed seems to be swimming all around.
"It was okay," Harry answers, a bit breathlessly, though he's finally got a cocksure grin in place. "But let me show you how it ought to be done." Draco's wrist lies where Harry left it and Harry takes it up for the sake of something to hold—the pain of missing Lucius is firing raw in his gut, unbearable, as if a brand new thing. Harry watches Draco's throat rise quickly and fall, and it eases Harry's own. He leans in until their mouths meet softly, carefully, and when Draco's fingers catch between his, Harry finds himself thinking this is how it ought to be done.
"Well," Harry says, breaking the silence. "Here we are."
The front gate of the Manor is still imposing in its ruin, its decorative finials transformed to bayonets. They stand on crushed gravel, the remnants of a path, and look past the wrought-iron crest to the high eaves beyond.
“You want to go in?” Harry asks. His eyes search and find—there’s the window to his room—to Draco’s—the one that lit the marbled hallway on the second floor. They’re dark and shuttered up; behind the boards the glass is likely broken.
“Do you?” Draco says. His hands hang at his sides with their fingers curled in, but his face and his voice are girded and poised. Harry looks away from him, back through the gate. Tomorrow the Ministry contractors will come and peel back the boards, force open the doors, clear away the shards, and no one will ever go to the Manor again. Harry’s throat tightens as he pictures Lucius’ dismay. He swallows and forces himself to be fine.
“It’s up to you,” he tells Draco. “You’re the heir.” He glances over with a little smile; Draco’s poise has slipped but at this his mouth breaks upward, briefly, and he meets Harry’s eyes.
“It’s good to know you haven’t forgotten,” he replies.
“How could I?” Harry says. “You remind me every day.” He grins at Draco because it’s a joke, though the truth of it flutters in him like a half-remembered dream, anxious and submerged, never to be retrieved. But this unsettlement won’t remain, not forever, Harry knows; the time that has passed, and Draco, have shown him as much. They continue standing for a few moments more, then Harry asks quietly, “Should I open the gate?”
“What was the last thing he said to you?” Draco asks suddenly.
Harry looks over quickly. “What?”
“My father. You looked like you were thinking of him.”
For an instant Harry stops—he’s himself again, as a child who’s been given his heart’s lone desire, and he will never speak of it, to not a soul—to not a soul.
Then his thoughts come unstuck and he laughs with a shrug. “I think he asked if I liked the soup.” He pauses, gazing at the broken ground, breathing down the first faint tricklings of an ache. “What about you?” he asks. “What was the last thing...?” His expression softens when he raises his head. Draco is watching him.
“Look for Harry,” Draco says. Then he steps nearer, turning his torso from the gate, turning Harry to him with a warm and light hand. “Found you.”
Harry smiles; the ache is gone. “Whoa. That was bloody amazing.”
“Yes, I thought so as well,” Draco replies. He takes Harry’s hand and steers them around, over loose rocks and glass and past the condemnation signs, informing Harry of his imminent plans to dine. “I could have a nice pasta—Italian?” he says as they leave the Manor grounds. “Ron likes Italian, doesn’t he? Should we ask if they’d care to join?”
Harry squeezes Draco’s hand in his and tells him okay.