Pairings: Harry/Draco, Harry/Ginny
Warning(s): Mild violence. Previous relationship implied.
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 2000 words
Summary: On the night before the Day of the Dead, Harry discovers that he's mourned in vain.
Note: Written for legomymalfoy's A Very Harry Halloween fest (Theme: Pride). The beginning was written as a response to a prompt at queerditch_pub earlier this year. The title is a lyric from Shattered by The Cranberries.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
The annual Ministry Hallowe'en Masked Ball was turning out to be more trouble than it was worth.
Harry's right cheek was itching so badly that he wanted nothing better than to rip off his mask and scratch it, but he couldn't do that here -- it was against the rules. He couldn't leave, either, because they were supposed to announce the winner of the draw and he'd promised Ginny he'd find out if she'd won or not. Right now, he wished that he had been the one to come up with the brilliant idea of having a headache and going home. He tried to rub his face over the mask, but that only made the itching worse.
"Use your wand," said a calm voice on his left.
"Wha--?" Harry looked around and saw a man about his height standing there, dressed in a pirate outfit, complete with a wooden leg and a pure white mask with an eye-patch. The voice seemed vaguely familiar, but it was too distorted by the mask.
The man shifted from foot to stump and sighed. "Your wand. You're a wizard, aren't you? Use your wand to ease the itching."
"Oh!" Harry slapped himself on the forehead mentally and began unscrewing the hilt of his sword to get at his wand.
"How elaborate," remarked the man. "Expecting trouble?"
Harry tensed. No one was supposed to know who he was, and yet somehow everyone seemed to guess that he was in law enforcement. "Dunno what you mean," he mumbled, fishing out his wand and casting a charm to soothe the itching beneath his mask.
"So what's your costume supposed to be?" asked the man after a brief pause.
Harry shot him a look. "A musketeer," he said. "In France--"
"I know what musketeers are," the man interrupted. "Do you want a drink? I'm going to get one."
"Sure," said Harry. Now that the itching was gone, he was feeling much better about being at this damned function. He watched the mysterious pirate depart, noticing something -- again -- vaguely familiar about his swagger; one had to admit that the man was excellent at acting.
Mr Pirate returned a minute later. As he passed Harry the drink, the right sleeve of his ruffled shirt came open and Harry gaped at the familiar scar there, the scar a Hippogriff had left on a petulant boy many years ago.
"Draco," he said quietly. The other man's glass dropped to the floor with enough noise to wake several neighbourhoods. "I thought you were dead," continued Harry, a feeling of surreal detachment filling his mind all of a sudden.
Draco turned around quickly and left the hall without a backwards glance. Harry followed him, his heart beating so wildly he could feel it at his temples. He walked out into the cold October evening and tore off the mask, flinging it into a rosebush. He looked around and spotted Draco walking towards the north end of the mansion.
Harry hurried after him, still disbelieving -- maybe he'd been wrong. Maybe it wasn't really Draco but some stranger who had been spooked by Harry's behaviour and decided to make a quick escape. Deep down, though, he knew. It was Draco. He hadn't died in the fire at Malfoy Manor five years ago. How was it possible? They'd identified the body; there had been no question about it.
"Draco, wait!" he yelled.
Draco stopped abruptly and turned around. "Who the hell do you think you are, following me like that?"
"Draco, I--" Harry broke off. They were standing in a graveyard. The mansion where the ball was being held belonged to the Hemsalls, an old wizarding family. This was the family burial plot, Harry realised. There were five tall tombstones arranged in a neat circle, surrounded by grass and a carpet of dead leaves from the surrounding trees.
"This wasn't supposed to happen," said Draco in a low voice. "You weren't supposed to be at this stupid party."
Harry stopped two feet away from Draco and shook his head. "That's right, I wasn't. Ginny--" he broke off again, a stab of guilt piercing his chest. "I mean--" he began to say lamely, but Draco waved a hand.
"I know about you and the Weasley girl. It doesn't bother me. After all," he said with a shadow of a smirk, "I'm dead."
Harry frowned. "We identified your body," he said. "There was no question--"
Draco waved his hand again, more impatiently this time. "There are ways of changing even the immutable. It's what distinguishes real wizarding talent from mediocre applications of your so-called Ministry-approved rubbish."
Harry opened and closed his mouth several times until he finally managed to say, "Why?"
Draco folded his arms across his chest and sneered. "You're really quite thick, aren't you? I don't think you'll ever change, Potter. It was either resign myself to a life as Harry Potter's newest sidekick or bow out gracefully and make my own way through life, as I saw fit. I made the only sensible choice."
Harry blinked. "I don't understand. What sidekick? What are you talking about, we were--"
"--fucking. We were having it off every night in that godforsaken house of my ancestors while I hid out there and played both sides, at considerable risk to my hide. The way things were going after you defeated the Dark Lord, it didn't look like I'd ever get any sort of recognition for my role in the war, which was considerable. They all latched onto their boy hero, ignoring everyone else in favour of building you a reputation of omnipotence."
"Shut up," snapped Draco. "You don't get it, do you? You never did. It always came so easy to you, you were famous since you were born, you didn't have to lift a single finger to have people pay attention to you -- even when the attention was negative you still got plenty of it."
Harry swallowed past the lump in his throat and frowned. "You were jealous of the attention I got and you decided to fake your own death?"
Draco rolled his eyes and raised his arms skyward. "I see you can still be trusted to take the most simplistic view of a given situation. If you insist, that's the gist of it, yes."
Harry took a deep breath, feeling a little dizzy from the fresh air, tinged just a little with the smell of fallen leaves. The feeling of being disconnected from reality intensified as he stared at Draco, only now registering that he'd got rid of the white mask somewhere along the line. He looked the same as he had five years ago, which was strange because it seemed like several centuries had passed.
Harry sighed and looked down at the grass by his feet. "It took me and Ginny two years to fix things after you--"
Draco gave a little strangled laugh. "I knew you'd go after her sooner or later."
"I wouldn't have, had you been there!" shouted Harry, surprising even himself. He heard a crunching sound and felt stinging pain all over his palm. He had crushed the glass he had been holding this whole time without realising it. Warm blood trickled gently down his wrist and Harry dropped the broken glass, staring straight at Draco.
Draco's gaze cut to Harry's hand and he took a step back, frowning slightly. "Don't lie, Potter. You would have run back to the Weasley girl the moment we stopped getting along -- that is to say, the minute the sex got boring."
"I was in love with you," said Harry in a quiet, almost wistful tone. Draco's eyes widened and he opened his mouth, but Harry held up his hand. "For a year, I wasn't myself. I couldn't eat properly, I couldn't sleep, I kept-- oh, fuck it, why am I even telling you this? You don't care."
"Signs of intelligence at your age? You're a late bloomer, I see."
"You smug bastard, you--"
Harry could feel his blood pulsing near his skin, everywhere; his vision blurred and for a moment he thought he was literally seeing red. He grabbed Draco by the front of his pirate's jacket and slammed him into Eleanor Hemsall's gravestone, heedless of the stabbing pain left by the glass shards in his left hand.
Draco made a surprised noise and reached for his wand with a free hand, but Harry intercepted him and pinned Draco's arms above his head.
He heard voices coming from the direction of the mansion -- the party must have ended. Harry released Draco and took a small step back, never taking his eyes off Draco's face.
"Who knew? Who knew that you were alive?" he asked, fighting desperately to regain his composure.
Draco looked down at his feet. "That doesn't matter."
"It matters to me. Did any of my friends--"
"Oh, please, Potter. Your friends are such goody-two-shoes, they'd have told you. I've been living in Vienna since I left. I'm here to pay respects to my parents on the Day of the Dead. I only came to this ridiculous party because Pansy needed an escort. She and Zabini are threatening each other with divorce again."
Draco was talking very quickly, barely pausing for breath. It was as though he was determined to keep to small talk -- anything to avoid talking about the two of them. He avoided Harry's gaze, looking down at the well-tended grass next to the gravestone. His eyelashes cast long moonlight-shadows on his cheeks and Harry's insides froze at the thought of the last time he saw Draco like this -- eyes downcast, his expression intense yet contrite. That had been in a dark, shadowy bedroom, just before the last kiss.
There was a lump in Harry's throat -- it was as though the past five years hadn't even existed, as though he'd never buried Draco, as though they'd only said goodbye yesterday. He wanted to kiss Draco and feel touch taste but he knew that it was nothing; there was nothing in Draco's eyes but cold emptiness. Harry bowed his head, fighting to remember the past five years, fighting to regain a sense of perspective.
Then Draco's hands were on his face, cool and soothing, Draco's mouth was on Harry's, warm and rough and unfamiliar and just like always. Harry's mind was only capable of Draco want you need you now please God--
Draco broke the kiss and stepped away from the gravestone. "That," he said, took a deep breath, and looked Harry straight in the eye, "was the real last kiss. Goodbye, Harry."
They looked at each other for several long moments, until Draco flashed him a condescending smile. "I don't need you," he said in an easy, casual tone. "I can make it on my own." He turned on his heel and found his way back to the walkway.
Harry stared after Draco until he could no longer see the receding figure in the night's gloom, until he could no longer hear the fake peg leg's rhythmic knocking against the cobblestones. His mind was a haze of confusion, shock, anger and loss. He was sure he must have been dreaming; this couldn't have been real. In every other dream he had about Draco coming back to life, there was always a happy ending.
Harry didn't know how long he stood there, staring into the shadow cast by a stately oak next to the mansion. His whole body had gone numb, and he kept replaying the last half hour in his mind, desperately struggling not to memorise Draco's every movement, the smell of his skin, the faint taste of liquor on his tongue. He'd never really forgotten Draco, and now he had to try and forget him -- again.
Almost automatically, he unscrewed the hilt of his sword and pulled out his wand, then Apparated home. He walked into the bedroom without bothering to take off his shoes -- or the rest of the costume.
Ginny was in bed, under the covers, with a book in her lap. She looked up with a smile as Harry entered; her expression immediately became concerned.
"What's wrong? You look like you've seen a Boggart," she said.
Harry squeezed his hand into a fist, feeling the remaining glass shards digging into his flesh but not really hurting.
"No," he said after a long pause. "No Boggart. Only a ghost."