Title: Stone of Hope
Pairing(s): H/D (eventually), hints of Harry/Ginny.
Summary: Draco Malfoy, a prisoner in Azkaban, has been accused of kidnapping and murdering Pansy Parkinson. Auror Harry Potter fights to prove his innocence.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Plotty, angsty, and sad. Hurt/Comfort, but with a hopeful ending.
Epilogue compliant? In places. Loosely.
Word Count: 5,530
Author's Notes: This story had a mind of its own, as did this Harry and this Draco. These poor boys both need hugs. War is hell.
The holding cells were marginally more comfortable than the cells in Azkaban proper, but only marginally. They were still cold, still filthy, and still unbearably oppressive. The main difference was the relative quiet: the halls did not echo with the screams, shouts, and hysterical crying that made the air in Azkaban heavy and hard to breathe.
Draco pressed his back against the wall, whispering spell after useless spell to the wall across from him. His thin mattress was falling apart, but it didn’t stop him from pulling at the loose seams keeping it together. His body ached from misuse, but he resisted the urge to stretch his muscles. He would rather ache than admit he was uncomfortable. He pressed his cracked lips together, tried to ignore the stench of stale urine coming from the toilet in the corner.
He started reciting the Unforgivables. He heard the resounding clink of the lock being disarmed.
The door slid open then back closed. Heavy, brisk footsteps coming toward his cell.
Harry Potter, looking uncomfortable in his Auror uniform, appeared on the other side of the bars.
“Stand up, hands behind your back.”
Draco did as he was told soundlessly, and he felt his wrists bound by an Incarcerous. His cell door slid open and Draco looked up at Potter, whose face was stone.
“Exit the cell.”
Draco hesitated briefly before complying. He was flanked by two guards and escorted to an interrogation room, Potter leading the way. Potter stood behind his chair, his face still impassive. Draco knew he was trying to intimidate him, but it was lost on Draco. He couldn’t be intimidated anymore.
He was pushed down in the chair opposite Potter, and the guards exited without instruction.
Draco felt his wrists fall apart and he folded his hands in his lap before clearing his throat. “To what do I owe the pleasure?” Draco asked, any sarcasm he may have had exhausted.
Potter watched him for a moment – a long moment – before he sat down. He leaned back in his chair, his gaze intense. “New information has arisen connecting you to the disappearance of Pansy Parkinson. It has been alleged that you orchestrated a plot to extort money from the Parkinson family in exchange for Pansy’s life when she disappeared two years ago. It can only be surmised that she was murdered, as she was never recovered. We have been told you know where her body may be found.”
Draco could taste bile in the back of his throat. He suppressed a retch. “May I have some water?”
Potter conjured a full glass with a wave of his hand. Draco drained it in three long gulps. Potter didn’t refill the glass. “I don’t think you had anything to do with it.”
Draco throat burned. “Then why am I here? I was perfectly content to serve out the very small portion of my term in Azkaban. I’m supposed to be released at the end of the month.”
“That won’t be happening.” Potter studied him. Draco felt decidedly uncomfortable. And he felt like he was going to be sick. He wanted more water, but he didn’t want to ask. In a flash Potter stood, crossed to the door and rapped sharply. “The guards will return you to your holding cell pending further investigation. If indeed these allegations are true, it could mean The Kiss.”
Draco retched – he could feel the water, still cool, in the back of his scorching throat. His hands were shaking in his lap.
The door sprung open and Potter hesitated, his hand hovering over the handle. When he finally spoke, his voice was low. “I’m going to help you.”
Draco was dizzy.
They had moved him again – this time to a cell that was much colder but cleaner. The threadbare blankets did little to stave off the chill radiating from the damp stones, and he spent most of his long days pacing the floor, trying to get warm. His feet were often numb, his teeth chattering from cold, his throat dry from whispering useless heating charms like a litany. When he would run out of energy or a muscle would seize he would collapse on his bunk, too weak to shiver.
By his count, his condition began to deteriorate after his fifth day in the new cell. He felt feverish, his neck ached, and it felt like the room was spinning wildly around him. He often awoke to puss oozing from his left ear, staining his pillow yellow and pink. He simply wiped it away, ignoring the slow crawl of the stinking liquid down his neck as he staggered about his cell, trying fruitlessly to generate heat.
He tried not to think of Pansy, tried to forget her tear-stained face. Her pleading.
He hadn’t seen anyone for over a week. He had done his very best to not put too much hope in Potter’s rather vague proclamation. Soon, he only had the will to sleep, his days and night filled with sweat-drenched nightmares consisting of nothing.
He awoke, drenched and shivering, to Potter. He sat up too quickly and his head spun so violently his vision went black for a long, terrifying moment. Potter was speaking to him, but Draco couldn’t understand the language he was speaking, his grip on reality slipping.
His head was throbbing, burning and he could focus on nothing. His stomach heaved. The last thing he remembered was the cloying smell of vomit and the harsh grip of hands on his shoulders that kept him from hitting the floor.
The coarse, stiff sheets were somehow still cold against his body, even through his too-large hospital gown. His ear held a dull ache, his throat was dry and sticky, and his feet were strangely warm. He lifted his head slightly and slid a foot out from under the blankets. Thick, woolly socks. He slipped it back under the blankets and gingerly stretched his stiff muscles before reaching for the mouth-watering glass of water on the bedside table. He drank it quickly, returned it to the table, and licked his cracked lips.
He was very nearly back to sleep when Potter slipped in his warded room, his pressed shirt wrinkled and the first hints of a beard showing on his face and neck. Draco watched Potter with languid eyes – watched as Potter mindlessly refilled his glass, his hand steady, before crossing to stand at the foot of his bed. Potter folded his arms and stared at the lump that was Draco’s feet. Draco wiggled his toes experimentally and Potter’s jaw tightened.
“Why didn’t you inform anyone that you were sick? The Healer said that you had blood poisoning and the infection was very nearly in your brain.”
Draco felt feverish, and the words “I’m sorry” slipped from his lips before he had a chance to stop himself. Perhaps he really was dying – maybe that one apology was meant to atone for all of his wrongs. Perhaps the fever had fried his brain. In any case, he felt ambivalent and tired. He had given up. Perhaps a part of him had died, whether it was from the sickness or the imprisonment.
Potter, too, seemed thrown by the apology. He studied Draco much like a Potions Master studies a simmering cauldron. Draco didn’t have the energy to feel uncomfortable. Or even angry. He didn’t have the energy to feel anything.
Potter went from baffled to angry in a flash, barely contained fire setting his eyes alight. “If you have it in your mind you’d rather die than fight, I’m sure there are plenty of people in Azkaban – or the Ministry for that matter – who would be more than willing to oblige in a manner much faster and must less painful than an ear infection. Something that became much more severe than it had to be, thanks to your stubbornness. You may be a prisoner, but you are not a victim, do you understand?”
Draco drained his second glass of water and settled back into his pillows, prodding at his bottom lip. It began to bleed. Potter frowned thoughtfully, poured Draco another glass of water, and made his way to the door, the only sound being that of his shoes squeaking. He hesitated. “You are being discharged tomorrow and are to be held in protective custody within the Ministry until you are no longer required to take daily medication – you have to for at least two weeks to ensure the infection is truly gone and to stave off surgery, so you have that long at least.” Potter tilted his head to the side and sneered uncharacteristically. “You are planning on actually taking your medicine, right? Surely you aren’t relying on us leaving you alone long enough for your brain to rot, are you?” At Draco’s slight shake of the head, Potter’s shoulders relaxed minutely. “I’ve made little progress on your case. The barrister presenting the Parkinson family wishes to provide questions for us to interview you. I told them where they could shove that particular idea, but…”
“Let them do it,” Draco finally croaked, closing his eyes. “There is nothing they can ask that will surprise me or that I can’t answer.”
Potter looked like he was going to argue but he didn’t. He offered a curt nod before scrubbing his face with his hands. In a matter of seconds Potter’s overwhelming exhaustion settled over his body like a blanket, and for a moment Draco feared he may collapse.
Draco’s mouth betrayed him once again. “Why are you helping me? Why are you so convinced I am worth your trouble?”
Potter had reassembled himself, save his crumpled shirt and scruffy beard; he appeared no worse for the wear. Draco was very near reminding Potter that he was a wizard and didn’t have to appear to the entire world like he’s been sleeping beneath his desk for a week when Potter said, “What makes you so convinced that you aren’t?”
Draco wanted to do something – to argue, to vomit, to scream – but Potter didn’t give him the opportunity. He was gone.
Very quickly Draco began to miss the relative solitude of his holding cell. True, the tiny room he currently resided in was comfortable and warm, with a real mattress and a plush pillow, but he very rarely had time to himself. He was interrupted once a day for a fresh bandage, twice for antibiotic potions, and four times for examination by a Healer who was generally unremarkable. All he really wanted to do was sleep, and it never failed that he would just have fallen asleep when someone would come, poke him, ask him questions, feed him potions, or examine his still-swollen ear. He was frequently sick as a child – much of his formative years were spend sick or recovering from an illness, and apparently he had quite a lot of scar tissue thickening his ear drums. The Healers were hesitant to use magic in such a delicate area, so they were banking on the infection draining away on its own, with the help of the potions.
Draco had little faith in the potion. Severus hadn’t brewed them, so they couldn’t possibly be correct. Still, he took them and his pain and dizziness dissipated.
And he slept. He was haunted by nightmares – of werewolves and raw tendons and faces frozen in fear. He couldn’t escape his terror – choking him; he was drowning in it, even as he felt the frantic grasping hands at his shoulders, neck, hair, and face, coating his cold, damp skin with blood. Pansy’s blood. Pansy’s hands. Pansy’s screams mingling with is own, choking on tears and bile and blood and fear and darkness.
It was after one of these nightmares that Potter arrived. Draco was remaking his bed after a night of thrashing, replacing the blankets and pillow. Draco straightened, enjoying the fact that his head no longer spun out of control every time he moved. Small victories. “Potter, do come in. I apologize for not having any tea to offer you.”
Once again, Potter dove in without preamble. “The barrister for the Parkinson family is here. He wishes to observe our interview. The questions he has presented – Malfoy, if I were a barrister, which I’m not…”
Draco snorted. “Could have fooled me.”
Potter continued. “I would advise against answering. Some of them…” Potter paled slightly. Draco wouldn’t have noticed had he not observed Potter religiously for seven years of his life.
Draco waved a dismissive hand. “If I have nothing to hide, why shouldn’t I answer? I’m already a criminal, why should I fear incriminating myself? Other people have done a well-enough job of incriminating me. Why else would I be here? I’m being punished for all sorts of things; most I had nothing to do with. The closest I got was sharing a surname with a megalomaniac.” Draco’s heart was beating hard and his breaths were difficult to come by. He felt anger, the sort of anger that always made him feel a little bit more alive. He could feel the flush high on his cheeks, and he finally turned his eyes back to Potter, who looked pleasantly stunned. “And I would prefer it if you bathed, shaved, and wore something that looks less like it is the only shirt you own. We really must do this interview right. I know I am in no position to make demands, but I must insist. Politely.”
Potter let out an incredulous chuckle and scratched his scraggly beard. “If I would have known all it would take to get the old Malfoy back was give you an extremely high dose of antibiotics and a pillow, I would have pressed to have it done much sooner.”
Draco didn’t hesitate. “The old Malfoy no longer exists. The old Malfoy was forcibly expelled from my body like so much pus. An infection. The old Malfoy is moldering on a bandage somewhere, rotten and small.” Potter began to look uncomfortable, his hand wrapping around the sturdy handle of the door. All at once it dawned on Draco what was happening, and his mouth had no problem keeping up with his mind. “I’m sure your superiors will be pleased to note that the very large dose of Veritaserum that was administered along with the very large dose of antibiotics has taken full effect. As if I would have lied about anything, but I do suppose I can never again be trusted, except by you, for some odd reason, the only person here who knows enough about me to have reason to not trust me, and you are the one fighting so bloody hard to prove my innocence.”
“Malfoy, perhaps you should stop talking before you say something you’ll regret,” Potter said, his tone a sharp warning. This conversation had gone wrong the second Potter had stepped into the room.
“Something I’ll regret? I don’t have any more room for regret. If anything, you are scared I’ll say something you’ll regret. Are you scared, Potter?”
Potter, to his credit, did not take the bait. He left Draco alone, every muscle in his body tense. Draco couldn’t help the little feeling of triumph that filled his gut. The feeling was short-lived. Potter was his interviewer. Potter had warned him that the questions were not going to be anything he wanted to hear. To think about. He never thought he would wish for his quiet days in Azkaban, where he could simmer in his guilt alone rather than share it with the world. He would rather take the anonymous blame than share what really happened – what had really happened to Pansy. That was something he had never wanted to think about again, even when he couldn’t stop thinking about. What he really dreaded was talking about it again. With Potter. And the barrister.
The thought made him sick with fear, as sick as he had been when Potter had told him he was being investigated in connection with Pansy’s disappearance.
He was filled with unavoidable dread and inevitable resignation only Veritaserum can supply. He sat back down on his bed, hugging his pillow to his chest.
It was quiet.
For some reason, his questioning was taking place in Potter’s office, not the interrogation room. He wondered how many strings Potter had to pull to work that, but he had enough control not to ask, even though his Veritaserum-loosened tongue ached to do so.
His chair was plush and comfortable and he couldn’t help settling in. Potter’s desk was sparsely-furnished, save for a towering stack of files and a singular Muggle photograph of three children who resembled Potter to varying degrees. The other desk in the office was markedly messier. Draco didn’t know who it belonged to. It was empty.
“I don’t know you at all,” Draco said, surprised that he cared to know. Potter had a life – a family, a house, a job, love. Why did he care so much about Draco, who had mercilessly hounded him throughout school for not having the very things that Draco had lost along the way and Potter had created for himself? Potter was living life, and Draco didn’t have one anymore.
Potter sighed as he set up his Quick Quotes Quill, his tongue caught between his teeth for the briefest of moments. “Believe me Malfoy, you know me better than most people. Maybe better than I know myself, sometimes. You have this way of sort of…”
“Pushing your buttons?”
Potter shook his head with a poorly concealed grin. “I was going to say calling my bluff.”
Draco crossed his legs and folded his hands in his lap. “Same thing, really.”
Potter cleared his throat and placed a sheet of parchment under the quill. “Questioning of Draco Malfoy, Azkaban prisoner number DM3110, on the behest of Mr Blaise Zabini, Esquire, Barrister representing the family of Pansy Parkinson, on this day, the 21st of December 2004. Auror Harry Potter performing the interview in the presence of Mr Zabini.”
Draco’s head was swimming – Blaise was the one who requested the questioning. Blaise was trying to have Draco put away for the rest of his life – maybe even given the Kiss. Blaise had always been a pompous shithead, but he never thought he wanted Draco to die. Or suffer. So much for Slytherin loyalty. As if on cue, the door to Potter’s office opened and Blaise entered, impeccably dressed and looking smug as fuck. He winked at Draco, inclined his head at Potter, and sat at the spare desk, pulling out a roll of parchment and a quill silently. Draco thought through every spell he knew that could cause bodily harm.
“Do continue,” Blaise drawled, and Draco couldn’t look at him.
Draco caught his breath and whispered, “Christmas is almost here.” The Quick Quotes Quill jumped to life. His general cluelessness was on the record. He wondered vaguely if Potter had finished his shopping.
Potter straightened his paper and leaned back in his chair. “For what charge are you currently serving a sentence?”
“I’m a convicted Death Eater. They could not positively implicate me in any specific crime, but I was sentenced for aiding and abetting. I was set to be released in October, but I suppose with this new accusation and my illness, I’ve served a bit more than that.”
Potter nodded once and drew a thick, sloppy line through the question. “What of your relationship with Pansy Parkinson? Were you romantically involved?”
Draco couldn’t help but scoff. “Of course not. I wasn’t her type. She likes her men a little more heterosexual. Pansy – Pansy was my best friend. I loved her. I would have done anything for her. I can’t remember my life before her. I can’t imagine life without her.” His voice was thick, but he refused to cry. He could feel Blaise’s eyes on him, could feel his disdain.
Potter hesitated before crossing out that question. He didn’t look up as he asked the next question. “And what of your relationship with Fenrir Greyback? It is common knowledge that he stayed at Malfoy Manor during pivotal time during the war.”
Draco’s stomach sank, and for a second he could smell the rancid stench of Greyback, who had always smelled of decaying flesh. He swallowed thickly, suppressed a gag, and plowed on. “I had no relationship with Greyback. I was terrified of him. He made it perfectly clear that he would like nothing more than to rip my throat out. The only thing that stopped him was Voldemort – he liked having that threat to lord over my father. Greyback liked children. He liked it when they cried.”
Potter violently scratched out the question. “What led to Pansy’s attack?”
“Voldemort was unhappy with the Parkinsons, thought they weren’t being quite useful enough. So he made them useful. He thought he would give Pansy to Greyback – a werewolf Parkinson is a punishment for their reluctance. Pansy nearly died- Greyback had bitten her numerous times – her thighs were scarred severely. He raped her over and over and over – she told me she cried so much she thought her tears turned to blood. She didn’t tell her parents the severity of what had happened to her. She couldn’t walk for weeks; I had to take care of her, clean her wounds. She wouldn’t let anyone heal her, and those sorts of wounds take a long time to heal. I stayed with her, even though the Pansy I had known was gone. She was a shell. A wounded shell.
“The Parkinsons thought I had turned on her, like they thought I could somehow have stopped Greyback. Or sacrificed myself. I couldn’t do anything. I was walking on a razor’s edge.”
The words hung heavy in the air between them. Draco hadn’t heard Potter cross off the question. He could no longer control his tears – he couldn’t see, could barely breathe.
“How did she disappear?” Potter’s voice was low. Disturbingly calm.
“I helped her. She begged me to get her out of there, so I did. I don’t know where we went – she took me to a cottage she visited as a child. She said she had loved it there. We- we stayed a couple of nights. She was silent, as was I. We knew that something was about to break. Shatter.”
“Is she alive?”
A sob escaped Draco’s lips. He wouldn’t look away from Potter, couldn’t stop shaking his head. “She begged me. Begged me to kill her. I refused. I…I couldn’t do it. She begged me. Gave me her wand. Pressed it to her chest. She wouldn’t stop, she wouldn’t…she wanted to die, didn’t want to live as a monster. I couldn’t watch her suffer anymore.”
Zabini’s voice was loud and angry. “So you murdered her? You fucking murdered her!”
“Zabini, it was part of the agreement that you would not be permitted to talk,” Potter snapped, setting his quill aside.
Zabini’s hands clenched the edge of the desk he occupied. “You can’t believe this, Potter.”
Potter didn’t hesitate. “Mr. Zabini, I am going to have to ask you to leave.”
Blaise stood briskly, packing his things in a fury. “The Parkinsons will hear of this, and charges will be filed. Malfoy will be Kissed and spend the rest of his life a drooling, dumb animal.”
Blaise slammed the door as he left, and the room was silent. Potter crumpled the list of questions, pinched the bridge of his nose, and scratched his razor-burned chin. Draco only then noticed Potter had shaved away his beard. Another sob tickled his throat.
Potter’s voice was gentle. “Did you leave her there?”
Draco nodded, blinking out a fresh wave of tears. “I tucked her in and held her hand. She…she didn’t know if Avada Kedavra would work if she cast it herself. She made me promise that if it didn’t, that I would do it. But it worked. I held her hand as she killed herself.”
Potter paled, his hands flat on his desk. He looked sick and devastated. His jaw worked and he stood. Potter’s whole body was shaking. “I’ll take you back to your room. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“Take me back to Azkaban, I can’t stand being here anymore,” Draco said, his tears dry. “I want to fucking die.”
“I’m not taking you back to Azkaban,” Potter sighed, packing away the Quill and rolling up the parchment. “If anything, you’ll be released soon. There’s no way they can charge you, especially if they find her wand. You’ll be fine, Malfoy. You’ll be fine.”
“I will never be fine,” Draco hissed, clenching the arms of the chair. “I didn’t save her. I was just as cowardly as she was. I still am. I’m scared to leave. I’m scared to stay. I’m scared to die, but I’m more scared to live. Fuck you Potter, I’ll never be fine.”
“Come with me,” Potter snapped, grabbing hold of Draco’s wrist too tightly. Draco allowed himself to be led back to his room. Potter steered him to the bed, forced him to lie down, and tucked him in. He knelt at the side of Draco’s bed, looking like he really wanted to say something but didn’t know what to say. He held out his hand, and Draco didn’t hesitate to take it. Potter didn’t have to say anything, but Draco knew exactly what he meant.
They found her. She was right where you said she would be. The Parkinsons have quietly interred her remains in their plot. Her wand proved your story true, and the Parkinsons have agreed to not press charges as long as what really happened stays between the Ministry, you, and them. You are to be released with a generous settlement to cover extra time that you served. You should be free before the end of the year.
Potter’s Christmas tree was sparkling with red and gold lights. The only ornaments were handmade. There were about a dozen gifts under the tree. The fireplace was crackling and the smell of cinnamon made Draco’s nose tingle. Potter had rather unceremoniously dropped him off and left, claiming he had more work to do before he was done for Christmas holiday. Draco silently made his way through Potter’s flat, feeling like an intruder. Potter had laid out a towel and fresh clothes for him as he rambled on and on about no one being alone at Christmas.
Draco didn’t reply. He was scared that he may break the spell. Wake up from the dream. He took his shower too hot, used too much soap and too much shampoo, and stayed under the water for too long. His skin was hot and red, but it was better than being cold. He dressed in the jumper Potter had supplied for him, pulled on the ugly but comfortable flannel trousers, and thick woolly socks. He still felt like he was going to wake up at any moment and still be in his cell. Still be holed up with Pansy in a secluded cottage. Still be locked away in Malfoy Manor.
Potter’s flat was filled with photographs. Of the same children that adorned his desk, various Weasleys, Granger, and Potter. None appeared too terribly recent; the current Potter hardly resembled the one in the photographs.
Draco was filled with questions that he didn’t dare ask. Instead he went back to the living room and sat in front of the fire, watching the flames reflect off the threadbare tinsel twisting around Potter’s tree.
He must have fallen asleep, because when he opened his eyes the windows were dark and he was no longer alone. Potter was asleep on the sofa, his face softly lit by dying firelight. If Draco had his wand he would have stoked the fire back to life, but he didn’t know how to do it manually. Draco’s right cheek was warm from the fire, and he noticed that there were more presents under the tree.
Draco stood up and stretched, nearly every bone in his body cracking or groaning in protest. He smoothed his hair- it really needed a cut- and tried to remember the spell to stoke a fireplace. He couldn’t remember ever having heard it cast.
“Happy Christmas Malfoy,” Potter said, his voice hoarse.
Noiselessly, Draco crossed to Potter’s kitchen, poured him a glass of cool water, and took it to him. Potter took it from him, but didn’t drink. “You too,” Draco replied.
“I hope you found everything alright, I’m sorry I had to leave so quickly, I had to pick things up from the Ministry, then I had to go pick up some gifts from the Burrow to bring back here for tomorrow. The kids are coming for Boxing Day to open their gifts since I couldn’t make it to them this year.” Potter was rambling, holding the glass of water tight. “Not that I think it matters too much to them if I am there or not, as long as they get their gifts.”
Draco sat down beside Potter, his head bowed. “It matters to them.”
Potter closed his eyes and took a drink of his water. He set the glass aside and walked over to the tree, grabbing a nondescript paper bag from under it. He brought it to Draco and placed it in his lap. “I didn’t have time to get you a real gift, what with trying to get you out in time for Christmas, but…” he trailed off, waving a vague hand through the air. Draco noticed his beard was already growing back.
He opened the sack, and saw his personal effects. He slipped his signet ring back on his middle finger before he lifted out a long, delicate silver chain that held a heavy emerald. “It was her birthstone,” was all Draco said before slipping the necklace over his head. He couldn’t take his wand. Could hardly bear to look at it. He folded the bag and set it aside. He couldn’t say thank you, but Potter didn’t seem to mind. He still stood in front of Draco.
“I don’t have to stay here,” Draco said, staring at the fire. “I can find somewhere else. I’m sure you would much rather be spending your time with family than with me. You’ve already put so much time intro trying to help me. You have. You can stop now.”
Potter shook his head and sat down. “I don’t have family, not really. They were never mine. My only family is my children, and I hardly know them. They are busy and I am busy and life won’t stop moving on without me.” He leaned his head back and sighed. “This must seem so petty to you. God, I’m sorry. I’ll stop now. Are you hungry, do you want something proper to eat? I bet you haven’t had anything good in a while. I do have to warn you, I’m not the best cook, but…”
“Potter…” Draco frowned, touching him very gently on the shoulder. “Harry.”
Potter was breathing through his nose, and he forced himself to look at Draco. Draco. Who for a reason lost on Harry, was the only person in the world who was on stable ground. The rest of the world blurred from the speed of time, but Draco remained in focus. Left behind with him.
“How can I be surrounded by people and still be so alone?” Harry asked, not really wanting an answer. Draco didn’t know what to say, so he took his hand. Harry squeezed it with all of his strength.
Draco closed his eyes, the smell of cinnamon and the dying fire and the Christmas tree and Harry surrounding him. There was so much sensation that it hurt, but in a way so beautiful he would never complain. Lips touched his and he instinctively kissed back, falling into a rhythm that had beat in his heart for years. Harry’s beard was scratchy against his face but Draco only kissed him harder, holding on to Harry like he would disappear.
Draco felt something that had been shattered knit itself back together. He knew that nothing would be easy, that accusations and rumours and hate-filled faces would rule the rest of his life, but he no longer cared. He had a life to build, and Harry was giving him the pieces. Had been giving him the pieces for months. For the first time in so many years, Draco had faith, faith more precious than the emerald resting over his heart.
“With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.