Ginny doesn’t let go of Draco for a long, long time. He feels too skinny in her arms, lighter than he used to be, and it’s all wrong. It feels all wrong.
She’ll take wrong over missing any day though.
“I was so worried.” She keeps murmuring, whether to herself or to Draco she’s not sure. “So worried. I thought you were dead.”
Draco cracks a smile against her shoulder, and though she doesn’t see it, she feels it. “Honestly I thought you’d know better by now. No matter how many stupid shit I do, I don’t die.”
She doesn’t like the sound of that, but there are too many things to do, too many worries and too much relief to really worry about it.
“ Never ,” She vows, taking a step back. “I am never losing sight of you again.”
She does see Draco’s smile then. It’s dry and lacking any sort of humor. “That might get complicated in the next few hours.”
“No, it won’t.” Ron says. “Because you’re both leaving with the rest of the students.”
“Unlikely.” Ginny scoffs, hand tightening around Draco’s. Draco doesn’t say anything; he’s tense beside her, unsteady. He seems to be trembling every few minutes, and Ginny can’t see one thing about him that doesn’t scream ‘not alright’ but she can’t think about it. Her mind seems to be rusty-geared, slow and screeching every time she comes close to thinking about what might’ve been happening to her brother while he was away from her.
“Mum and dad are going to be here soon,” Ron tells her, oblivious to Ginny’s mental turmoil. It’s alright; he loves both Draco and Ginny – they all do – but none of them understand them like they do each other. “Fred, George, Bill, Charlie, Fleur. The Order of the Phoenix. This isn’t your responsibility.”
This is everyone’s responsibility, Ginny thinks. It’s bigger than all of us, none of us can afford to be uninvolved. She doesn’t say it; it’s not her priority. Instead, she says, “You guys should go tell everyone.”
“What?” Harry says. He hasn’t stopped looking at Draco since they arrived, and though Ginny can pity the anxious state he’s evidently in, she doesn’t give a fuck; this is her brother , and she wants to talk to him, everyone else be damned.
“You need to tell everyone.” She repeats. “We’ll argue about the rest later. Draco can stay here with me.”
Ron, Hermione, and Harry all seem reluctant to leave, but they all know that there are things that must be done. Ginny wishes there weren’t.
When everyone leaves – Luna presses a kiss to her cheek before she parts, and Ginny wants, desperately , to hug her closer – Draco lets himself drop onto Ginny’s bed, exhausted.
Draco rubs at his eyes furiously with the edge of his sleeve; he thought he’d be able to hold it together longer, but not with Ginny, not with his sister. It feels impossible to lie to her.
“You don’t have to stay here,” She says cautiously. She’s trying not to make his breakdown worse; Draco doesn’t think there is worse.
“I can’t leave either,” Draco says. He feels somehow hollow and incredibly furious at the same time. The anger and the pain that are sitting in his chest like a rock is something he doesn’t know how to deal with, not like this.
“No one would judge you.” She says.
“That’s not what this is about.” He says.
And it isn’t; the fiery desire of justice is something they have in common, and Draco never believed it could be a bad thing. He won’t leave because he doesn’t think it fair that there’re people fighting a war when he’s not , won’t leave because he doesn’t want to leave. He wants justice.
He wants payback. He wants to be obliviated, wants all of this not to be happening, wants to be so fucking far away from all of what’s happening and hates himself for it because he knows it’s cowardly.
He wants revenge, he wants to Crucio Dolohov, or Bellatrix, or fucking Greyback . He has no doubt that he could cast it. He wants to cast it. He wants both not to feel like this and to never stop feeling like this because if he’s angry at least he’s doing something, and not simply waiting for death, like at the manor.
He’s furious about that, about how long it was that he was simply waiting for death, that it felt like the only option. That it still does somehow, even if he’s gotten out. He hates the fact that his body isn’t in that place, but his mind seems unable to leave it.
“You’ve done enough,” Ginny says, quietly, but there is no enough , not here, not in the middle of a war. Nothing short of stopping it is enough, because Draco’s seen the horrors that the death eaters do, first hand, and nothing that he’s done has stopped them; it feels like nothing he can do will stop them, like the only option left is some holy miracle that isn’t coming.
“I haven’t.” He says. He wouldn’t forgive himself if his family died, and he wasn’t here. Wouldn’t forgive himself even if he were here, knowing his presence hadn’t changed a damn thing. “No one else would leave, anyway.”
If he could guarantee his family’s safety – and Harry’s, and Hermione’s, and all of his friends’ - he’d leave in a heartbeat. He wonders if that makes him selfish, if it means something’s changed in him and he’s not a selfless Hufflepuff. That he’d leave England burning, if no one he cared about was in it.
“They don’t want us here anyway.” Ginny says. “We have a choice.”
And fuck , how does one make a choice like that? Stay, fight for what’s right, lose not only yourself, but your loved ones in the process – because no one who’s faught in a war has come out the same and Draco isn’t ready to rebuild himself from nothing – or leave. Spend the rest of your life running, from one bad guy or another, from the past, from yourself. Lose yourself in the process, anyway.
“There’s no choice,” He shrugs. “We stay.”
Ginny knows there’s no changing his mind, knows what could happen. That they might not see each other again, if anything happens to either of them, so she does what she can. She sits next to him and hugs him.
They stay like that for as long as they can.
When the death eaters arrive at Hogwarts, Harry is ready. He’s shaking all over, pent up energy, and righteousness, and anger , at everything they’ve taken from him, from all the people he loves. His parents, first, then his last year at Hogwarts, his boyfriend; all the months he and Ron fought over it, the ways he knows he was unfair to Hermione. How he knows he changed, how Draco has.
And he knows Draco has, because no matter how he tries to hide it, Harry sees it in his eyes; he sees the bleakness, the panic, the desire to flee. The fear. No one deserves to live scared, and Draco’s terrified.
He’s staying, though.
Harry isn’t stupid enough to think he can convince him otherwise. They sit together in the stairs, hands linked together, fingers intertwined.
The locket, the diary, and the ring have been destroyed. The diadem, too. Hermione and Ron have gone to look for the Basilisk venom, and Harry wants to go with them. He should go with them, it’s his fight, after all.
He can’t bring himself to let go of Draco’s hand.
They’ll have to kill Nagini, they’ve already talked about it, but they haven’t talked about killing Harry.
He knows it’s necessary, by now. He’s accepted that it has to happen. The months he spent alone with Ron and Hermione in the woods, half convinced Draco was dead, he’d been resigned to dying. Yearned for it, even, felt as though it could finally give him peace. Here, sitting next to Draco, he never wants to have to go.
“I love you,” He says, and presses a kiss to his hair.
Draco turns to him. He’s dirty, still, face ashen and haunted.
“I love you, too.” He says. Harry can’t look away from his eyes, everything he’s ever wanted mirrored in them; to grow up, to be happy, to have a job, to get married, to be happy, to have children, to raise a family, to love his husband, to be happy, to grow old with someone, to be happy, to do something with his life that wasn’t defined by his birth and the murder of his parents, to be happy.
He’d let all that go for a day, an hour, a minute, a second more together where neither of them are hurting.
“I love you,” Draco repeats, and squeezes his hand firmly. “And we’ll make it through this.”
Harry wants him to believe that more than anything.
“Potter,” McGongall is at the end of the hall, looking out the window at the shields she’s put up. “They’re here.”
“It’s here!” Hermione says, lifting the phial of Basilisk Venom triumphantly. Ron rushes over and fishes the cup out of the bag he’s carrying, unwrapping it from the handkerchief they’d placed around it. He places it on the floor.
“Ready?” He asks. Hermione nods, and uses magic to pour the venom over the cup.
Draco loses track of things, during the battle. He sees the Dark Mark, he fires spells. He sees Hogwarts’ Crests, he doesn’t. He sees Lupin, at some point. Sirius Black, too, fighting back to back in a way that can only mean they’ve done this before, and Draco can’t imagine how they’ve managed. He doesn’t think he could ever do this again.
As it is, he doesn’t know how he’s getting through it. He feels as though there’s nothing real.
He fires spells without thinking, and when the first Death Eater that falls dead – dead – before him, Draco has to look down at his wand. He doesn’t think he fired a killing curse, but there’s no one else who could’ve, and the green light came from his direction.
Things feel a lot more real after that.
He fires the killing curse knowingly, at everyone who tortured him those long months at the manor. He sees his classmates – classmates, fuck – fighting beside him, dying, or wounded, or dead, or killing , and he thinks maybe they’re all different people than they thought they were.
He certainly never thought he could do this.
When he encounters Greyback – leaning over Lavender Brown, whose face is scratched badly, but she’s alive – Greyback flashes bloodied teeth at him. He’d been drawn to the empty hall by the screams.
“I told you, you would become my dinner, blondie.” He says, and begins stalking closer.
He must’ve forgotten something, Draco thinks, because he’s not cowering and hurting in front of Greyback anymore. They’re not surrounded by a dozen death eaters whose entire attention is on Draco.
Draco’s not defenseless, and he’s not weak.
He’s not wishing for death.
“ Crucio !” And it’s an unforgivable, of course, what comes out of his mouth. He watches Greyback howl, writhe in pain, and, all of a sudden, he’s hit by the desperate thirst for revenge. He never wants to stop this, never wants Greyback to stop feeling like this, to feel even a little bit of what he’s done to dozens of other people, to pay for the harm that he’s caused.
He’ll do it, drive Greyback insane with it; he’ll do it to the rest of the death eaters, too, all of them, death too merciful.
There’s a touch on his arm, and Draco rips around, anger like a wave at being interrupted, ready to kill whoever’s broken his concentration.
“This is not you.” Neville is entirely white faced, but his mouth is set grimly.
His parents were driven crazy by the curse. Bellatrix drew his parents crazy with the curse, and they didn’t deserve it. Draco’s shaking, unable to breathe, suddenly.
“I-” He feels dazed.
“Kill him.” Neville tells him. “If you want. I understand . But this does nothing .”
Draco looks back at Greyback, still in pain, curled on the floor.
“ Avada Kedavra ,”
Harry doesn’t see Voldemort between his death eaters; he expected it. The bastard’s too much of a coward to show up. He’s eager to see Draco, because he hasn’t seen him since the beginning. He assumes Hermione and Ron are still struggling with the cup, and the rest of the students are blending together in his mind.
He catches sight of white blonde hair once, and thinks it’s Draco, but it’s only Luna. As relieved as Harry is to see her – and surprised, considering that she’s putting death eaters on the ground like flowers.
He catches sight of Ginny, too, even though she and Draco were told to go home by their parents. It confirms his suspicions that her and Draco soundly ignored that order, and he doesn’t know why it makes him smile, however briefly.
The battle is quick, and it’s brutal. There are more bodies on the floor than Harry cares to count, and he has to step over them on his way to the Great Hall, where they’re gathering. Some of them are death eaters, yes, but others are Hogwarts students, or professors, or parents who came to fight with their children, and Harry can’t think about it, any of it.
So he doesn’t.
Before he gets to the Great Hall, he catches sight of Draco, and they look at each other and make a detour; Harry can’t quite breathe, sitting in the middle of a half-destroyed staircase in what used to be his second childhood home and now is nothing more than war ground, but it’s better with Draco sitting with him, holding onto his hand.
They don’t talk; Fred is hurt – he's going to make it, he has to – but Tonks saved him just in time, and they’re alive. Not in any shape to fight any longer, either of them, but alive .
When the announcement happens – Voldemort, telling Harry to give himself up – it's Draco who breaks the silence.
“You can’t,” he says.
“I can’t not,” Harry says. He's looking at him, at his own private little miracle, and he doesn’t understand how any of this happened. How they’re together, after all of this, why this is how it ends.
Harry doesn’t want it to end.
A second. That’s all he wants, a second where everything is well. That would give him the strength to walk to his death, knowingly, willingly. He could do it, he just needs – he just needs time .
“I won’t let you.”
“I’m not asking.”
And Draco’s looking back at him, earnestly, loving and sincere and there, always there, and Harry can’t imagine a time when they’re not together, but he doesn’t have a choice.
“I’m coming with you,” Draco says, finally, as though he knows there’s no changing Harry’s mind.
He’s crying. Harry thinks he might be crying, too, but he’s not feeling anything at the moment.
“There’s no point in the two of us dying,” Harry tells him. “We knew this could be the end, love. The horcrux-”
“There’s no point in either of us dying,” Draco says, and his voice breaks. “I can find a way to destroy the Horcrux, I can, Harry, I know I can-”
“It’s alright,” Harry cups his face, and Draco’s sob is enough to break his heart, enough to make him want to stay. He’d be selfish for this; he’d stay, he’d run away, he’d doom the rest of the world if only he and Draco could have a different fate.
But that’s not going to happen, and if Harry has a chance – even the smallest chance – to give Draco a few more minutes to live, hours, days, years , even if it’s not with him, even if he’ll never get to see him grow old like he wanted, if they won’t ever have kids -
It’ll be alright.
Harry knows it’ll be alright.
“I have to go.”
He doesn’t trust Draco not to follow him, of course he doesn’t. He takes him to the Great Hall with his family, where they're all kneeling over Fred, who’s still cracking jokes. No one will look at him, but Harry’s alright with that; Draco won’t look away, and that’s really all he needs.
He walks to the forest without hesitating.
Dying is easy. Too easy, almost; it’s warm, and light, and peaceful , and Harry wants so badly to stay there. He thinks of Sirius and Remus, thinks of Ron, and Hermione, and Ginny, and knows he can’t, even if he wants to.
He thinks of Draco, and he wants to go back, wants to either live to see the rest of their lives together or die knowing his love is alright, knowing he knows he loves him. Harry feels as though he hasn’t told him he loves him in so long. Draco needs to know it.
He comes back, wakes up in Hagrid’s arms, and he can see Draco, standing there, and they’re in the middle of the Hogwarts grounds, and of course Draco sees him, he always does, he always has, and he does the last thing he can.
He tosses Harry his wand.
And the fighting begins again.
Five years later
“ It’s alright, love,” Harry says, soothingly moving a hand up and down Draco’s back. Draco makes a small, choked noise, and Harry hushes him gently, pressing a kiss to the side of his neck. “Draco, love, wake up. It’s alright. It’s just a nightmare.”
Slowly, Draco comes into consciousness; Harry can feel his heart pounding through his skin, sees the way he’s taking frantic breaths.
“It’s alright,” he says again. He hadn’t been sleeping – Draco had fallen asleep in the middle of their muggle telly marathon – so he’d caught the nightmare early. “It’s alright. It was just a nightmare.”
Draco nods, exhaling harshly, and Harry drops a kiss to his temple, followed by three more.
“Alright?” He asks.
“Alright,” Draco says softly. He turns on their bed, facing Harry, and presses a slow kiss to his lips. “Everything’s alright.”
“Everything’s alright,” Harry echoes, nodding; they both still need reassurance, sometimes.
“I love you,” Draco says, burying his face in Harry’s chest.
Harry smiles; five years, four graduations, a new flat, three pets, and hundreds of hours of therapy later, but they’re here. They’re finally here, and it’s not perfect, but it’s as close as Harry’s ever gotten, and he doesn’t think he could wish for anything more.
“I love you, too.”