Title: Deplorably Enough
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco (mention of Draco/OMC, Pansy/Blaise and Granger/Weasel)
Summary: He could hear footsteps behind him and this time Draco didn't care - let them come and see - he was surrounded by ghosts of his own making, it was obvious that there would be no escape and Draco had been running for far too long now.
Rating: PG-13 maybe? Sorry - they didn't want to get nakie for me! Selfish bastards...
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Massive run-on sentences, rampant cursing, random injections/tangents and the abuse of the dash key (Draco's fault, I swear). Stylistic of writing Draco. Soooo not my betas' fault - honest. One is an online editor and yet still managed to read this without killing me.
Word Count: 5682 words
Author's Notes: I started with the idea of a small beginning that devoured three pages before I whimpered and gave in as it took over. Back to Hogwarts with elements of (I hope) humor, but more serious than originally intended. I hope you still like it.
He copes, like everybody else, as well as he can, that's all.
And it's usually deplorably enough.
- Carl G. Jung
Draco eyed the castle - it seemed unbelievably larger and more daunting to him now than it had even as a runty first year, which he knew was impossible - but had that turret always been there? - with a none too small amount of inner trepidation. He would swear they had expanded it since he had last seen it, although over the shoulder while dodging curses and fleeing for your life to what you were fairly certain would be your death really wasn't the best mindset for architectural appreciation and vague measurements, but there it was.
But he would have heard if they had. The Prophet, now that it was running again, reported every last little happening, up to and including the mysterious and yet persistent nesting of birds that had hindered the rebuilding of a section of Diagon Alley (what with the constant clearing-out) in the hyper-awareness (occurring between rounds of altered consciousness due to an increasing flow of alcohol and other less benign substances) that was a post-war world. Everything was viewed with a suspicious eye and as a possible threat to the hard won peace, Draco as well - hell, Draco and others like him that had been caught in the middle especially-
What the fuck am I doing here?
Not for the first time he considered saying to hell with it and flouncing off to enjoy his massive fortune and numerous estates, bugger them all and what they thought, he had been acquitted, the information he had passed on had helped win the bloody war and - but he had done that already, hadn't he? Forget that he had been awarded an Order of Merlin (the fact that it hadn't been a first class medal still rankled, he had done a hell of a lot more and at a far greater risk to harm than most of the recipients), forget that he had been cleared due to his actions as an informant, forget what he had gone through to - well, fuck, he'd really rather forget it all. They wouldn't let him though.
No, Draco Malfoy had once borne the Dark Mark - the only part people had no trouble recalling it seemed - as had his father and that was enough for them. Dinner reservations were inexplicably canceled, invitations "lost" or even in one instance rescinded (in that case, Draco had at least the satisfaction of seeing the host's wife rake him through the mud and clean him out once the "anonymous" tip of his infidelities had been followed and admitted as evidence in the divorce proceedings) and his rather large contributions to charitable organizations became footnotes below what some society cow who had spent the entirety of the war holed up in a neutral country had been wearing.
It was infuriating.
Oh, not all of his actions escaped the public eye, oh no, of course not. Aside from the initial call for blood and then the speculations of everything from bribery to threats of murder - and hello, he hadn't been able to kill a defenseless old man, what the buggery was he going to do to Aurors and the like? - upon the conclusion of his trial, there had been... well, other coverage.
Why, with the new found indulgence most had for hedonistic exploits, his usually naked - and usually drunken - arse had become the favored fodder for less reputable publications over their heroic darlings, Draco had no idea. Besides that fact that it was an absolutely fabulous arse of course. The best. Perhaps that's why?
Foiled by my own perfection!
Nevertheless, the point was that aside from him pulling some delectable and eager male into bed - or a closet or a washroom and that one time there had even been that rather full bush... Draco shook his head lightly and regrettably to dispel it of happy memories and concentrated on the issue at hand. The point was, aside from his bed hopping (only there hadn't always been beds so perhaps "cock" was the more appropriate term? But then "cock hopping" either sounded like an intriguing and possibly painful new sport or something that would take a slew of potions to clear up) or other assorted "bad" behavior (oh puh-lease, like half the world didn't want to moon Skeeter - which Draco felt he had more than paid for fuck-you-very-much, the woman was all hands and it had taken a restraining order for her to get the hint) the press, and thus Wizarding World at large, was more than content to pretend he didn't exist. Until they read one of those less-than-reputable publications that they'd deny ever touching and gossiped about what they had "heard about that Malfoy boy, absolutely scandalous, let me tell you..." over tea and petite fours.
What he wanted in the limelight was shuffled aside and what should have been private was pasted up for the world to see in black and white, seven sickles a copy, have a nice day sir.
And Draco was so very tired of it all.
The last straw, the crushing last, had come from the worst possible source.
Draco had been visiting his mother in France, where she had decided to remain after the war, when he had met Pierre. Pierre was someone that had filled up some of those empty spaces that Draco had denied to himself were there, someone that made him feel not-so-fucking-alone and it hadn't been love, not yet, but Draco felt that it could have been, had thought that maybe it would be forever... and then he had gone to join his mother for lunch and they had unknowingly ended up at the same restaurant and he had heard - Draco's jaw clenched at the reminder. He had heard his lover's voice in the next curtained private dining area over - one of the few restaurants that didn't tend to lose his reservations - and been pleasantly surprised, he'd sworn Pierre had said he'd be in rehearsals all day (fucking actors, he should have known) and excused himself to invite the other man to join them. He'd gotten no closer than the closed curtain though, had stood there and listened in growing shock and horror as intimate details of their life were taken out and dissected, giggled at and... he was mocked. Draco was shaking with rage and his eyes were blurry with wetness and the sounds had changed to all too familiar groans and pants interspersed with commentary on how much they could get from which reporter for an exclusive.
After the curtain had been ripped back and all the screaming and curses had cleared the air, Draco had left France alone and the story had run the next day. He'd heard Pierre's play had closed to due to overwhelming bad reviews and the man unable to find other work had needed to move back in with his ancient (and very vocal about his distaste of Pierre's lifestyle) father. Merlin, Draco loved his mother sometimes.
Draco had needed a place to hide, to lick his wounds in peace, and when the invitation to take part in an accelerated course of study for those who had missed taking their NEWTs at Hogwarts had come, Draco had responded in the affirmative without thinking of the last time he had been there. It was hardly a spa or retreat but here at least he didn't need to worry about things gone missing from his room or the staff being undercover reporters. It was a small bit of normalcy, schooling, in what had become the chaotic mess of his life. A chance to regroup and figure out his next moves in a familiar environment. Plus he figured at some point he should take his NEWTs even if he didn't need them really, but no need to give anyone cause to cast doubt upon his intellect when it was patently uncalled for.
Well, and if he was entirely honest with himself, he had rather, sort of, maybe, just a little bit, mind you, missed a few people. Not that, that had anything to do with why he came back here, Draco hastened to assure himself. No, he was definitely here for the sole purpose of finishing up his education - he was a Malfoy still, and no matter what others seemed to think, the Malfoy family was an intelligent one of extremely high standing - and not to interact with people that he had formed some sort of tentative... not friendship obviously since none of them had bothered trying to contact him in the past almost year now (not that he was counting or anything). Truce? Truce was an official sounding word and it made him think of old men glaring across a table kilometres long and agreeing not to kill each other for the sake of their own skin - and that thought was depressing as hell but likely the most accurate given the circumstances. So that was it then; there had been a war and they had been pressed into the same side by a common enemy and now they were free to live their lives unfettered.
By each other.
And now Draco was standing on a lawn he had last torn across in desperation and fear, staring at a tower were everything had gone to hell and flipped upside down which was attached to a building where most of the people he had grown up with were long gone from - long gone from anything actually and damn it all to hell, if there were new ghosts he certainly hoped they were more attached to places other than here because he really couldn't face running into Greg or even that younger creepy Creevey brother and seeing them trapped in a visage of their youth for the rest of time. Draco shivered and realised it wasn't only because of his thoughts - the sun started its descent as he had stood here, frozen in doubt and he could hear other voices coming up the path. Damn it, he had tried to get here early enough to avoid running into anyone until he had settled into where ever it was he was to settle and had composed himself a bit more - but he had gotten lost in his thoughts and now they were getting closer and he couldn't make himself take those few steps forward that would put him into the castle and out of sight.
Draco looked down at his reluctant feet, the traitors, compelling them forward even as they ignored him. Move, blast you! Or - or no pedicures for a month! Okay, a week. I'll - I'll wear those Italian shoes that I love and you hate to dinner instead of the ones I had planned! The threat of toe pinching seemed to work and Draco sighed as he took the first step - but it was already too late.
"Malfoy!" came from behind him in a tone that was entirely too fucking cheery after all this time and he scowled at his feet once more as they paused and turned. I'm buying cheap socks next time I go shopping. Oh, and there they were and wasn't that perfect. Saint Potter and his eye-offending messy shock of hair, eternally trailed by Granger and the Weasel - and gah - they were still holding hands and looking disgustingly happy to be here. Seriously, what god of fate had Draco screwed to deserve this and had he at least enjoyed himself?
He was somewhat surprised to see the "happy couple" still so. Sure, judging by the pants squeals and moans - and those were just from the Weasel - he had heard coming from various rooms at Order Headquarters (when he had been fortunate enough to stay there instead of whatever hole he was stuck in with Severus and the twitchy Rat freak with the even freakier hand) had been rather telling in having at least something to work with, but that was then and this was now and what the hell did they find to talk about now that the war was over? Weasel's overwhelming urge to learn words of more than two syllables? Unlikely. Granger's eagerness to straddle a broomstick and...
Oh dear gods, he had just thrown up in his mouth a little.
So Draco stood there - again - like a moron and uttered a breath freshening charm while nodding coolly to the three, waiting until they were closer to offer an even toned, "Potter," in response to the pseudo-greeting rather than bellowing across the expanse like certain classless cretins he could name. Weasel and Granger at least looked just as thrilled to see him as he did them - she at least had the wherewithal to elbow her muttering boy toy in the ribs. There was still plenty of time before the rest of the students arrived (they had obviously decided that as adults now there was no need to spend all day on a train to get here, just as he had) and Draco turned and strode in the direction of the lake. He couldn't face entering now - not with them standing there and watching and wondering what his problem was. Draco snorted at that and wondered how much time they had if he for some inconceivable reason decide to tell them. And really, which to start with? He could hear them talking again - this time in loud whispers that he obviously wasn't meant to hear but how could anyone help it when they were so obnoxiously loud? He sped his steps to take him out of the range of their conversation - more than likely about him - and watched for the lake to come into view.
He could see the smallest gleam of the weak light left reflecting from the water's surface through the trees, and he smiled for the first time since his arrival as he rounded the wretched little cottage set against the Forest of Death. There were other memories at this school, good ones, and Draco couldn't let himself forget that. Picnics by the lake that Pansy had nagged them into until they
And he was snapped out of reminiscing once again by the reality of the now, a giant white gleaming tribute of it in fact. He hadn't been paying attention to the ground beyond his inner musings, and now he was nearly on top of the tomb that he had until now only seen in frantically grabbed copies of whatever he could get his hands on in order to find out what was going on with the world outside of where he had been hidden until it was safe to emerge without the immediate threat of death.
More of a delayed threat, really.
Certainly not an assurance of safety.
He could hear footsteps behind him and this time Draco didn't care - let them come and see - he was surrounded by ghosts of his own making, it was obvious that there would be no escape and Draco had been running for far too long now. Some how it was rather fitting that it should end here, at this school, before the tomb of the man he had been ordered to kill - it had been with that order that he had started running after all. Run, Draco, he could hear it whisper through his mind and wondered for how long after it was all over he had been heeding Snape's frantic call.
Although he had been expecting it, Draco nearly jumped as a voice came from behind him. "I haven't been down here since the funeral." Why couldn't it have been the Weasel or Granger that followed? At least then Draco would have had some idea of what to expect.
"Yes, well, I found myself unable to attend. I would have sent flowers..." Draco trailed off airily, one hand waving in a flippant gesture even as his heart was pounding in his chest.
The rest of that sentence went unsaid and unneeded; they had had this conversation many times before.
Why do you always do that, Draco? Make some casual remark when I'm trying to talk to you? Cut the bullshit. Is it really that scary to be honest?
Honesty made you vulnerable on a whole other level and Potter had never seemed able to grasp that very simple concept. "What do you want, Potter?" Draco asked wearily, moving a hand up to push his hair back from his face in a nervous gesture he had never been able to break.
"I want to talk to you."
Draco sneered at that and couldn't stop the bitter sounding, "Could have fooled me," that fell from his lips unbidden.
Suddenly there were footsteps behind him again and a hand on his shoulder being used to whirl him around to face the boy - no, not boy, man, very much a man - he was talking to. "Damn it, Draco. Don't. You were the one that said he never wanted to talk to any of us again and ran off. Screamed it, actually." There was another hand touching him, cupping his chin and lifting his face and Draco didn't want to look at - and there they were, green eyes set in a face so... So something that he couldn't look away.
Oh, gods. He had never realised until this moment how very much Pierre resembled Harry. Physically, at least. Now, standing before the real thing, Pierre was the world's most flawed imitation. His face began to redden at the thought of Harry - Harry - reading what he had been up to since the last time they had stood toe-to-toe made him feel about two centimeters high.
"I say a lot of things," Draco finally offered hoarsely and Harry grinned.
"Yes, I know."
"Doesn't mean that I mean them."
"Luckily I think I'm becoming fluent in Draco-speak."
"Then you're insane."
"So I've heard."
Draco snorted out the laugh that came at that wry statement and took a moment to study Harry's face. He shook his head slowly and stepped back from those hands, already missing their warmth. "Harry..." But they were back and this time it seemed they weren't going to let him flee. "What are you doing?" What are you doing to me? I can't think this is anything more than it is. Again.
"Translating," Harry said roughly, and he was coming closer and the hand that had been on his chin was sliding around to the back of his neck, the one from his arm going to the small of his back, and Draco was trapped, he couldn't back up, his traitorous feet weren't listening again.
And ohhh, screw the cheap socks, he was buying cashmere ones.
He was being held and it didn't feel restricting, it felt safe and warm. Protective but not stifling. And then screw the arms - there were lips involved. Slightly chafed, dry lips - but not too rough, never too rough - moving against his, persuading unlike the demand that had been implied. Draco whimpered in his throat before giving up all pretense of aloofness and threw himself into the kiss. Oh yes, that was lovely, there were tongues now and why had he discarded the importance of arms when they were attached to such clever hands and fingers?
He was being moved backwards and couldn't think - not with that mouth on his and those hands making him shiver, his own finding warm, toned flesh under Harry's horrid shirt - but he knew they should stop, there was a reason they couldn't do this, not here and not now. It came to him with the press of stone to his thigh and he broke the kiss and into slightly hysterical laughter. "You are not shagging me on top of Dumbledore's sarcophagus."
"Oh fuck," Harry sprang away and looked so agitated, Draco had to
So he wanted them to do that elsewhere then? "What did you come for then?"
Harry pulled a face and took his hand, pulling him away and Draco let himself be led. "I told you, to talk."
"Never our strong suite," Draco countered, becoming nervous all over again.
"And pretty much the problem," Harry retorted with such conviction that Draco knew he wasn't going to get out of it this time. And he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to, anyhow.
Someone had thoughtfully provided a bench out there and they moved toward it now, sitting separately but close together with their hands still clasped. Draco pushed his hair back with his free hand and looked out over the water and his eye was once more drawn down to the white stone. Why would they put a bench here? Draco had never understood that, benches at memorials, if you wanted to talk to the dead you could always go find a ghost. And if they weren't a ghost, then what good did it do when they were who knows where, doing who knows what? The presence of ghosts in the first place because of their inability to let go seemed to indicate that there would be something rather than nothing, and if the dead you sought had let go.. Well then they weren't likely to be sitting around waiting for people to talk to the stone encasement of their remains, were they? Unless you were waiting for them to spring out of the coffin like some sort of inferi or vampire, but in that case Draco was fairly certain that the correct course of action called for running and not sitting down for a chat.
He was pulled from his ruminations by a tug on his hand and exchanged a sheepish grin for Harry's knowing one. Granger had hit him once with a jinx that had made him say whatever he was thinking aloud and Harry had spent half a day being very amused by the tangents his mind wandered off on before she had relented and preformed the counter for it.
"I see," Harry chuckled while looking over to lake and back again. "I do actually. Should I be scared by that?"
"I told you, you're insane," Draco replied loftily while inspecting the fingernails of his free hand, feeling the blush rise in his cheeks.
"I think I caught it from you."
Oh - and that was low. Just because his aunt had... Okay, and his Great-Uncle and his grandmother... And probably that Great-Aunt as well... Come to think of it, there were a fairly high number of unstable people on either side of his family tree. Draco blinked again before huffing. "I am not insane, I'm merely... interesting."
"And I'm interested." There was no jesting in that tone, oh no, it was decidedly serious.
"We both thought we could fool around and not have it mean anything. We were wrong." Harry was moving in front of him now, kneeling on the grass in front of him and capturing his other hand. "I know I was. Were you?"
The look of hope on his face was too much and Draco's breath caught on a sob. He had wanted to hear this long ago, but now... Now, Draco realised, it was just as true as it had been then. Maybe more so for all the time spent apart and the empty encounters he had attempted to lose himself in. He could recall the day when he had left Grimmauld place for what he had thought would be the last time, feeling broken and worn out after another confrontation. Weasel had been wearing on his last nerve all day with pithy little remarks, he of course had returned the favor and he couldn't even remember how it had all started now. The tension they had been living under had been too much in cramped quarters and it had found its outlet. After storming away he had come back for his book and heard Ron and Harry, Ron making some snide comment about the two of them, and Harry had responded in kind. They hadn't actually discussed it, but Draco had always thought that actions spoke louder than words, and the actions between Harry and Draco had spoken of - and had for some time, at least Draco thought it had - something much more meaningful than the convenient release it had begun as. Something Draco had begun to put his faith and hopes into and... Harry had laughed and made light of something that Draco had felt - very much not-light about - and it had hurt more than he thought it should.
Oh, and this was deja fucking vu all over again.
No wonder he had been so furious at Pierre. After the fact he had wondered - he had felt too raw for the lack of real feelings he had for the man, he had thought it had just been the strain of everything.
That was the past, and he needed to concentrate on the present where Harry was still waiting for an answer. Could he do this, could he make himself this vulnerable? On purpose? Draco faintly imagined he could hear generations of Malfoys rolling over in their own graves at the very idea. Well, screw them, Gryffindors were the brave ones but Slytherins were the ones with the ambition to go after what they wanted. Draco may like a cock in his bum, but the mere fact that he was gay didn't make him a eunuch; he still had balls. Pep talk thus delivered, Draco nodded to himself and raised his head to look in Harry's eyes.
"Of all the things I've been wrong about, that was one of the biggest," he was leaping into Harry's arms and into his future with those words and it was alright that it was scary because Harry was there to catch him, to fall with him.
"I missed you, missed you so much..." and they were both talking now and it was alright because they were saying the same things, murmured reassurances and hands touching faces, soft kisses and not even under the threat of death would Draco admit to the tears.
After a few moments, they looked at each other, red-faced and intertwined and broke into nervous laughter. "Are we really going to do this?"
"Damn straight we are."
Draco snorted, breaking into a mischievous grin. "Hardly." Harry rolled his eyes and Draco sobered a bit. "What about your friends? Weasel isn't going to like this."
"Good thing it's not him then. He'll adjust. He doesn't like it, but he knows and he knows that I'm not going to give you up for him."
"If it was him trying to stick his hand down my pants, he wouldn't get it back. Awfully sure of yourself, weren't you Scarhead?"
"I killed Voldemort," Harry replied with a grin, reaching over to muss Draco's already disheveled hair, "how much of a challenge could a twitchy little ferret be?" Draco scowled even as he inwardly preened at the assurance and made a vain attempt to smooth his hair. "What about yours?"
"What's left you mean?" Draco asked with no small amount of cynicism before shrugging. "They don't like it, they're fired." Last he had seen of Pansy she had told him to get over himself and just go back to Potter, accusing him of being no fun anymore. Vince - well, Vince was Vince and didn't care so long as Draco was happy and gave him half his dessert. Blaise would do whatever Pansy told him to, so there was no need to worry on that score.
Draco stood and brushed his trousers off, holding out a hand to help Harry up. Harry took it and stood. They were face to face, and Draco smirked. "Took you long enough, Potter."
Harry grinned, the double meaning not lost on him, and placed a kiss on Draco's nose as it wrinkled underneath his lips. "Give a guy a break. I had a lot to sort through and another language to learn. Come on, Hermione called me tens kinds of an idiot and bet you'd drown me."
"I always suspected she had brains," Draco drew out, a teasing note in his voice as the turned to walk back toward Hogwarts.
This time it was Draco who pulled Harry close as they walked together, and he could see a smile on Harry's face as the other man laid his head on Draco's shoulder. "Pretty sure I love you, you know."
Draco nearly stumbled, but didn't and tilted his head against Harry's for a moment as they continued moving forward. "Good. I won't have to go brewing any illegal love potions then." Harry chuckled and Draco knew his meaning was clear, but he needed to say it anyway. "I - I love you, too. I think. I don't really know, I've never been in love before."
"We'll figure it out."
"Yeah," Draco agreed softly. There was something else that needed to be said and he hoped it wouldn't wreck this newfound happiness already. "Harry - I - in the papers... they didn't mean-"
He was silenced with the press of a finger to his lips and Harry's hands moved to cradle his face. "I know. It's - well, it's not okay, but that's past I assume?" Draco's head couldn't move fast enough to say yes and Harry kissed him lightly. "'Sides, Hermione stole 'em from me. Why they're not dead."
"Be hard to kiss me from Azkaban."
"Nah, I'd say it was post-war trauma and they'd let me go." Harry smiled and took his hand to tug him forward again. "We've both made mistakes Draco, it's not like we were together. We'll work it out."
They were getting closer now, to where he had stood frozen before, unable to go in. The castle - didn't seem so daunting anymore, and Draco had to wonder if it had been his own imagination or the interference of some other magic that had made it seem so in the first place. The structure was magical in and of itself, once more the question of the presence of a sentient being inside it all arose in Draco's mind. The thought was reassuring in a way, it had withstood the test of time and all the opposition it had faced, keeping it's charges safe and warm. But-
Well, he got naked in there.
The idea of a giant stone eyeball perving on a room full of changing first years was more than a little disturbing, and Draco's feet faltered momentarily as his eyes darted about, looking for any evidence of such an appendage. Suddenly sliding down the banisters had taken an entirely new twist, not unlike the time he had been seven and gone abroad with his mother to visit a distant relative and been told that, oh yes, Great-Uncle Cloaca, twice removed, is a very - interesting - man, but dear if you find yourself alone with him and he asks you to sit in his lap, decline politely, come find Great-Aunt Parous and myself and tell me immediately.
He had and Draco had done as his mother bade - and he hadn't thought of it in that light until now. No wonder she hadn't seemed surprised or upset when the man had been found, mysteriously drowned in the loo of all places. No matter how drunk you were, that was still odd.
Hmm. Two thoughts so far on how very much he loved his mother since arriving and Draco had better send her something sparkly soon. He was snapped out of his thoughts by a gentle squeezing of the hand that held his and Draco looked over to be greeted with a small, semi-worried smile.
Very sparkly. He still had to break the news of this. Although he suspected she already knew.
Draco squeezed the hand back and used his grasp to pull Harry closer and kiss him. Right there in front of whatever eyeballs were watching, stone or otherwise, Draco was committing himself to this, this chance. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. He wasn't alone, as Potter's hands on his back and tongue pushing against his reminded him quite pleasantly, he rather thought he was in love and-
Well, he had hopes of forever. They still had a long way to go and time to work things out - it wasn't perfect and that's what made it perfect for them.
Draco pulled back from the kiss and laughed (yes, laughed, Malfoys do not giggle and you certainly heard no such thing!) at the dazed expression on Harry's face. He tugged at their joined hands again and pulled him, unresisting, to the now welcoming door. "I'm better than alright. Let's go inside."
Draco let out a small shriek (even he knew there was no denying that one) as he was suddenly scooped up and lifted into Harry's strong embrace. Harry looked at him, wriggled his eyebrows and pinched Draco's bum as he somehow still managed to carry him inside.
"Yeah. There's beds in there."
...for now at least.