When Harry's hand lingered longer on Draco's shoulder as he passed by, Draco didn't think much about it. Or- or he did, but he stayed quiet. Silent. He didn't want to ruin this, right? A friendship that could had started since he was eleven- something that he yearned for so badly. Draco tucked questions under his tongue, kept his jaw in clench when he started to get too eager. Draco breathed, quietly, and he didn’t say anything. Not to Harry, not to anyone.
When Harry was the first person he saw in his bed in St. Mungo, Draco had so many questions- because why would the man stay and wait for Draco? He had gone into a coma after a mission went reckless for a week, if Draco wasn’t mistaken- and the first thing he saw was Harry sodding Potter and the first thing the savior did was to hug him. Despite his mind running wild, Draco stayed still for a full minute. Stiff. Until Harry sobbed. Until his body trembled and he whispered sweet nothings like, "Please don't do that again." Draco was taken aback for what seemed to be a long time, because surely Harry didn't mean it, right? Because Draco had been a burden for everyone he knew and Harry couldn't be the first one to admit that he was more than a tool to get rid off later, right?
Draco shut his eyes when he could feel Harry’s breath against his neck and Harry’s hand wrapped around his body and Harry- just Harry.
"Draco," Harry had called him, again. And that wasn't the first time Harry tongue curled into his first name, no. But they were special, you know? Harry only did that several times and every time the man did, Draco wanted to burst because the flutter in his stomach was getting too real and distracting. When Harry spoke again, Draco could feel his mouth, wet, moving on his neck, loud and was so honest, "I'm sorry. I was too stubborn and I should had listened to you and not to my stupid guts and I was-"
Draco gave in and sighed and melted into Harry’s embrace and that's where Harry went quiet, too. They didn't talk after that, nor they talked about it. When it was getting too late and their muscles had gone sore from not moving at all, Harry put off his shoes and moved under the blanket. He didn’t even ask, that stupid man. They woke up in each other's arms and Draco didn’t say anything about it, nor did Harry. But Harry didn’t look like he had questions running in his mind. Harry didn’t look like he was going to run.
Draco swallowed questions, shoved them down his throat. His mind was counting days until Harry would get tired of him. He didn’t ask anything, didn’t say anything. He was quiet, still.
When Harry laughed and said, "I think I love you," Draco stayed quiet, too. But his mind- god, his mind was moving so fast and Draco thought, thank merlin. Over and over again until he thought, when are you going to get tired of me? because that's what people did, right? They got tired of him, every single time. Draco devoured his worries. He didn’t say anything.
When Harry asked Draco to move in to Grimmauld Place No. 12, Draco didn't ask anything further. Instead, he went to the Manor and packed a bag. To think about it, now, it wasn't a big job, you know? Draco's clothes and shampoo and potion and basically his everything was everywhere at Harry's place. It was as if Draco was trying to remind Harry of his existence. As if he didn't trust Harry to remember him on his own. Because- because Harry surely would leave this whole thing behind later, right? Right?
But when Draco stopped kissing Harry back, when the morning was too hasty and when they fucked more often than they made love and there had less cuddle and less banter and less conversation after a meal, Harry wasn't quiet. He asked. A lot. He tried. A lot. He questioned everything.
"Are you okay?"
And Draco wanted to laugh- or cry, he wasn't sure- because of course he was okay! Everything was too okay for him and he was scared shitless. Everything didn't seem temporary and that was new and Draco was so, so scared- Merlin help him. Draco was so scared one day Harry would wake up and think about getting rid of him. Think about someone else. Think about how much he regretted this- a playdate that went too far.
Of course Draco didn't say any of it, because that was silly and a Malfoy did not do 'silly'. So he went still, quiet.
"Did I do something wrong?"
The question came with worry in the green iris.
Draco thought, good god i wish you didn't. But how could this- how could loving Draco Malfoy be not wrong? How could being in love with a war criminal be not wrong? Draco wanted to cry. When Harry carefully put his hand on Draco's, the Slytherin bit his tongue, hard. Then Harry kissed his forehead and turned the light off. The man still hugged him every night. The kisses were always there, never forgotten. Draco shut his eyes, tight. He thought of going through a night without Harry’s steady breath. He counted the days and waited and again, everything was done in silence.
Some time later after the incident, Harry asked him again,
Draco wanted to laugh at that, because nothing had happened. Because Harry didn't leave him after the two fucked, because Harry stayed until the morning, because Harry took care of him when he was sick and kissed him senseless when he cried. Because Harry's hug felt so fucking safe and warm and right when Draco's nightmare came one after another. Because Harry didn't try to hide their relationship. Because Harry smiled at the camera. Because Harry never forget to refer Draco as 'my boyfriend.' Because Harry didn't go anywhere, even after almost a year they were together. Because everything seemed so well, so certain.
Draco was scared. Because it meant it would hurt so much when Harry saw his everything. Thus Draco went quiet. He kissed Harry on his cheek, soft and gentle. And Harry—fuck him for being so good to Draco—closed his eyes and hummed, content with Draco’s presence.
Draco packed his bag the next day, without telling Harry. He put his resignation letter on Robards’ desk. The Head Auror looked at him with confusion. Draco couldn't say anything, so he shook his head, defeated by himself. Robards picked up something in his eyes, Draco didn’t know what, but the man shoved his questions away and didn’t ask.
The day after, Draco moved back to the Manor. He put up protection everywhere and told Mother and Winky to not let Harry in. The two, god bless them, didn't ask.
Draco spent his days in his room, only went out if necessary. He didn't step out of the Manor, not even to the garden. Mother looked at him with sadness in her eyes but Draco felt like it had always been that way. He shrugged it off, yet he didn't dare to look at her in the eyes after realizing it.
The owl wouldn't stop coming. God. May the creature be blessed. Draco made sure that the owl was well fed, because it must be tiring to have such a stubborn owner. He never opened the letters, though. And next howlers were coming. Draco burned all of them because he couldn't bear having any piece of Harry in his room. The letters kept coming and Draco kept lighting fire.
Draco dreamed of Harry. Every night. And his nightmare had somehow shifted, from the war to the loss of a lover. Lover. They were lovers, weren't they? But. Draco realized that Harry deserved better and- what a curse it was to had the world on your shoulder before you were born and be in love with someone so worthless afterwards?
Something in Draco's stomach twisted and Draco stayed silent, still.
Then Granger came. Draco cursed himself because of course Harry would send help, because The-Boy-Who-Lived was so stubborn and was too thick to see what was good for him and what's not. Draco fell to the latter, always, every time.
Granger stormed. She was angry and there was a tear streak on her cheeks. She looked like she hadn't gotten a proper sleep for weeks. Draco wanted to pity her but he wasn't any better, so Draco went quiet. He didn't need to speak, apparently, because next Granger was pointing her wand at him. It looked like the woman would kill him right there if she wasn't The Minister of Magic. Draco licked his chapped lips, waiting for his death sentence, for anything on the table for him.
"What the fuck were you thinking?" Granger said, panting as though she ran all the way down to the Manor. "Where the fuck had you been? Do you think it's funny, disappearing just like that?"
Draco stayed quiet.
Apparently, Granger wasn't expecting answers, too. She spitted questions like she had recited them. "Didn't you think? About Harry? Or about yourself, then, if you were such a selfish prick? Why the fuck did you just- why did you suddenly leave? Your job? Your old life? Harry? For fuck’s sake, Malfoy!"
Granger looked straight into his eyes and Draco was so scared she would strip him open, would trailed the truth out of plain sight, cut through the layers that Draco had built. Draco looked somewhere else, to the walls behind Granger. To anything. Anything except Granger, because after everything he had lost, he couldn't lose his dignity along with them.
Granger seemed desperate with the silence, which was funny, because she seemed so confident at first, with her bold steps and all. "Why won't you say something? Anything?"
Draco breath was steady. His breath was always steady- learnt that from Father who taught him how to lie. ("The breath always give it away. Be quiet. Silent. How many times do I have to tell you?")
Draco searched for something. Something to think about. He searched for his voice, because when was the last time he spoke a full sentence without wanting to cry?
"What do you want me to say?" Draco, not so quiet and still now, replied. He still didn't look Granger in the eyes, though- afraid of what she might discover.
Granger looked amused and disappointed. "God, Harry was right."
That's when Granger had his attention. "About what?" he asked, careful with his tone. He didn't want to seem hasty. Didn't want to look so eager and so pitiful. Didn't want to seem desperate, like he would leap into Harry's arms if an opportunity had come. Dignity, remember?
"You running from questions." Granger tucked her wand in. Her eyes seemed glassy- and wet. Was Granger crying? Why would she be crying? "Oh, Merlin. This is pointless. You wouldn't even care if he was dead by now! Did you even know about anything?"
Draco had stopped reading the news, of course. He had isolated himself, being too afraid of the headlines. He had imagined how they would go, though. The Savior Finally Break Free from A Love Potion Disaster. Harry Potter and His Happy, Single Life. Harry Potter and Merlin Knows Who Going on a Date. Harry--
"He was happy. With you, I mean. And he was doing so much better,” Granger said, quietly.
And Draco didn't know what to focus on: her sudden gone anger turned into distress or what she had just said. "He almost died, you know.”
Draco had known about Harry's depression, sure. Draco had heard his story about how he was dead, about how he was one of the hocruxes. Draco had cradled him when the nightmares came. It was not long until his dream went quiet and no longer abundant. Life was funny that way, Draco thought. When Harry found where to stand, Draco seemed to lose his own feet.
"He's in St. Mungo right now," Granger said. She was already walking away and Draco had questions. "Do what you will with that information. I don't care, I swear."
When Draco stood beside Harry's bed at St. Mungo, Draco had questions. His mind went berserk. And he stayed quiet again this time, because what would a dying man do? Draco conjured a chair and he wished he had the courage to walk away.
(He tried- walking away. He didn't make it past the door.)
Draco didn't dare to touch Harry. He was afraid of waking him up. Draco thought about leaving in the morning. At least he did what Granger must had wanted; him being present. Draco could stay awake until the sun come up. He couldn't sleep since he moved back to the Manor, so not sleeping wouldn't be a problem. Right. But he could smell Harry- that man with god knows what cologne he secretly used. And his smell had always help with Draco's nightmare, an anchor to remind him that he was safe and nothing was real and it was all just a stupid dream. Harry smelled like home and a sanctuary and Draco knew he was stupid for clinging onto Harry, drowning the man with him. Draco knew better than making home out of people, because no one would stay for him. No one, not ever.
But Harry- Harry seemed like he wouldn't be awake until the next week, Draco thought. It wasn't true, of course, because the Healer said that Harry had gained his consciousness and was just sleeping. But. Draco promised himself he would go before the man wake up. He looked at Harry once again, noticing the visible lines on his forehead. Even in his sleep, his brows furrowed. Draco’s breath hitched and everything seemed so heavy right now, so he let his eyes fluttered and he slept, so quiet, for the first time after so long.
(Draco left before dawn.)
Draco's days went on. Per usual, as how he expected them to be. He ate and showered and read some old books left in his room and burned anything that Harry's owl brought. He didn't speak. Didn't ask. He went quiet, still. He cried, sometimes, but he made sure that he had put on a muffliato before hand. And he had his nightmares and sometimes he thought of Harry. Sometimes he woke up after choking on his own tears, expecting Harry would come with a cup and cried even more when he realized those days were long gone.
He was a fool, for letting Harry go, of course- but he wasn't selfish, you see. He knew- he knew that Harry would just suffer more being with him. He knew that Harry could have lived better if things went normal and he knew that normal was not this, was not his romantic relationship with Harry. Normal was not calling Harry 'Harry'. Normal was not finding himself awoke in Harry's neck. Normal was not going home and feeling content with what he had- because certainty was never a thing. Because nothing was permanent and nothing would last forever, you see. Normal was this: him alone in his room, because that was what a war criminal deserved. That was what the bad guy in children books deserved. And Draco was a bad guy in this story while Harry was his victim, too stupid and naïve to see past the truth.
His days were quiet. His mind rumbled every second. But his days were quiet, still.
Hermione came again and Draco cursed himself because he forgot to put up a ward against the woman. Her steps were a lot calmer now, but she was as tired as before- or maybe even more, Draco wasn't sure. Draco didn’t want to know.
"Would you help me?"
There was no anger. She wasn't venting. No frustration. Just. Just helplessness and a handful of shameless truth.
And then, "Please."
Granger pleaded. Draco blinked. He was sure this didn't come from his head.
Draco stayed silent and blinked again. Granger let out a defeated breath.
"Just. Would you come and visit Harry? At Grimmauld Place?"
Draco wanted to laugh because that's all he wanted. Because that is all he had been thinking of. Granger didn't know that, though.
"Why?" was all that Draco could say. The clock in the Manor ticked, suddenly loud between silence.
"I don't think anything could help him now, okay?" Granger admitted. Admitted about what, Draco wasn't sure. Granger moved, shifted her weight to her left. "I mean- he seems sad and I know he is sad. And depressed. And I know he is concealing it and overworking himself just so he couldn't think about you. But he couldn't live like this forever, Malfoy. Draco. Please."
The name felt like a jab in Draco's chest. He didn't know how to respond- didn't know what to respond when Granger was about to cry anytime now.
"He's going to kill himself from overworking. He took multiple cases together, even though Robards had told him it wasn't a wise choice. He no longer went for pub night, no longer came for weekly dinner at The Burrow. Fuck. I don't think I had seen him smile this past weeks. Or months."
Draco was quiet, again. Granger seemed defeated, entirely now. She looked up, searching for something- something, anything.
"I didn't want to ruin his life," Draco found himself talking. "This is for the best."
"What?” Granger snapped. Draco made sure not to take a step backward. “What is this that you are talking about? The state of you two?" Granger's eyebrows furrowed. "Please don't make things harder for yourself, Malfoy."
But that's how he was supposed to live, right? Through the downs and the downs only. He didn't deserve anything easy. Didn't deserve happiness over someone's future going bleak.
"Or at least for Harry."
Granger was gone with a pop. Draco was quiet, again.
When Draco walked into Grimmauld Place No. 12 on a Sunday morning the day after, Tinky looked at him with relief. The house-elf didn't say anything, though, except exhaling hard and loud. Draco looked at her and Tinky said, "Master Harry is in the bedroom."
Draco nodded, didn't say anything next. He went upstairs and knocked on the door- Harry's room. His room. Their room, back then.
"I already ate and showered, Hermione."
Draco felt like he was about to cry. It had been months since the last time he heard that voice. Now something in him ached. He had longed for this- fuck.
Draco knocked again.
"Merlin," Harry sounded exasperated. And then- the door was opened.
Harry was as surprised as Draco. Draco tried to process everything that he saw right now. The room was messy. Papers were covering the floor, and some were on the wall as well. There were at least eight shirts and four robes on the floor, Draco counted. The room was dimmed and the windows were closed, which is weird. Harry had always loved the outdoor air.
Draco noticed that Harry's under eyes were darker now and his eyes looked so tired and swollen, like he hadn't stopped crying for Merlin knows how long. The lines on his forehead were more visible. His lips were chapped and god, his bones were practically poking out of his shirts. Draco had noticed there were new scars just right over his collarbones, and several more on his shoulders.
Harry looked at him with disbelief. Draco was quiet. He had imagined how things would go so he wouldn't be hurt that much. He had thought of finding Harry on the bed with someone else. He had thought of Harry yelling at his face, cursing him endlessly. He had thought of being asked to leave. But he didn't think Harry's eyes would soften and his shoulders would drop, out of relief.
"Draco," Harry had called. And god, no one had called him so gentle. No one but Harry.
"Draco." He said his name like opening a safe.
The man raised his hand, wanting to touch Draco but was busy gathering thoughts. He bit his lips. "Draco, can I-"
Draco took a step forward. They were so close, now. Draco wanted to savor this moment forever, because he didn't know how long this would last. Harry stared, the same longing still linger in his eyes.
The word slipped out and Draco felt like choking. He shouldn't do that. Now his breath went unsteady and he knew how silly he looked like. He knew that his dignity was stripped off now, looking like a lost puppy. He had given it away- all of it.
Harry rested his hands on Draco’s hips, so careful, like he would break anytime. "Draco. Why?"
And Draco couldn't answer him. Not because he didn't want to, but because he didn't know why what. Why he left? Why he came? Why he was such a coward? Why he quitted? Why-
"Please," Harry begged. He pulled Draco closer and Draco didn't try to hold back. They weren't hugging, no. Harry was smart to keep distance. "Please say something. God. Is there anything I could do? Anything to. Anything so you would answer, for once?"
Draco wanted to cry.
"Please," Harry had said again. His eyes were wet now. His lips trembled as he spoke, "Please tell me why you left- were I. Were I not good enough? Or is there anything I did wrong? Just. If you would tell me, I promise I would do anything. Please."
Draco raised his hand, slowly. Harry leaned to his touch, let Draco brushed his fingertips on his cheek. He closed his eyes. Draco could feel his breath on his skin.
The two of them were silent for quite a while. Draco tried to find his voice.
"I'm sorry," was all that he could say. It wasn't much and it sounded stupid, because it felt like the words didn't do justice. Harry Potter deserved more.
Harry sighed in relief, as if he was expecting for a death sentence. He hugged Draco and his embrace felt so safe. Draco hadn't felt safe for months.
"Draco," he said between his sobs, "I was so scared. I thought I- I thought I lost you. Fuck. I- Did I do something wrong? Please. Please please please I couldn't risk losing you again."
He stopped for a beat and looked at Draco, realizing something. He was frightened. "Or- did you come here to gather your things? Because you left your favorite comb and that socks that you bought when-“
Draco finally let a breath out and he cried on the first count. He clung back, holding for Harry. "Harry," he said, voice wavering, "I came back for you."
"Oh, thank god," Harry whispered, half laughing.
"I'm sorry," said Draco again to Harry's neck. It felt kind of pointless and empty now, saying the same thing over and over again. "I fucked up. I'm sorry. I was afraid. I know it sounds stupid, but-"
"What is there to be afraid of?”
Draco went quiet. He couldn't find judgment in Harry's tone. Couldn't find a sense of coldness in his voice. Draco tried to find a reason to go back to where he was- alone in the Manor. Harry didn't give him any.
"Draco," Harry stroked his hair in an assuring rhythm, "do you want to tell me? It's okay if you don't want to. We can- we can sleep or make breakfast. Have you eaten? I could-"
"I owe you an explanation.”
"Draco, darling, you owe me nothing."
Draco closed his eyes. He wanted to shut his mouth, wanted to succumb back in silence. God. He deserved not even an ounce of Harry. Harry harry harry harry harry.
"I was afraid. I mean. You were being so good to me, Harry," Draco said, quiet. He stopped for a while and when Harry didn't reply, he continued, "I didn't know how long it would last and for all I know, nothing lasted long for me. And. And when it was almost a year, I thought things were getting too real. And then I dreamed about you leaving me for someone better-"
"Draco, I won't."
"I know!" Draco replied in frustration. "That's why it became a problem. Because I know you won't leave. But- but you deserve better, alright? And no, don't cut me this time. Harry. Harry, you had spent half your life in agony, carrying a burden too heavy for your own good. I can't let you have another burden in your life- after everything you have gone through. And I knew if I didn't leave, you wouldn't get the chance to meet new people. You wouldn't get the chance to find the love of your life and-"
"But you are the love of my life."
Draco fell silent. He didn't prepare himself for this- for an undying love proclamation.
"What could I do so you would trust me?"
"I thought- at first I thought you asked me to move in because you wanted to fuck."
Harry's eyes widen. "What?"
"I mean- we started off so casual, right? There was- there was no questions and-"
"I called you my boyfriend in front of everyone."
"Merlin, stop cutting me!"
"And stop thinking so low of yourself!"
Draco inhaled. "I never had anything that is entirely mine, you know."
"You never answered my questions."
"I thought it would be better that way."
"And you just- you just resigned and you disappeared and I thought you were dead. I was so hysterical until Robards showed me your letter."
"Again, I thought it would be better that way."
"You weren't so smart, then," Harry concluded. He rested his forehead against Draco's. "I was miserable."
And so was I, Draco wanted to say.
"I thought I was overreacting, you know, asking you questions. I thought that's why you ran off. Because I had become too irritating for you to handle."
"Merlin. Then you weren't so smart yourself, too."
Draco wanted to ask why and what for. He wanted to say, god, you really are too good for me and I don't deserve you. Even after everything, Harry still apologized. Draco was not sure if the man knew what he was apologizing for.
"I thought I had become your safe place."
Harry's laugh were bitter. "I stopped getting nightmares when I slept with you. Your nightmares had only gotten worse after that."
Draco let go of Harry and guided themselves to the bed. Harry didn't protest.
"And they weren't any better when I slept alone, too."
"Oh, thank god." Harry tucked himself under Draco's chin. "I mean. I didn't mean it that way. But."
"Are you- are you going to stay?"
"Yeah, of course."
"For how long?"
"Until you send me away."
Harry hummed. His hand found his way around Draco's waist. Always the small spoon, Draco thought fondly. They stayed silent for a long time.
And then, “Marry me.”
Draco’s eyes snapped open.
“Draco, marry me.”
Draco wanted to cry. “I left you.”
“And you came back.”
Harry’s fingers moved on his back. He took time to answer. “Couldn’t risk losing you again.”
“And you thought I wouldn’t do the same thing again?”
“Merlin, I hope not,” Harry admitted. He laughed, nervously. “I did plan on proposing, though, before you left. Should’ve done it sooner, I think.”
Draco didn’t know what to say. Didn’t know how to respond to a proposal from a man that he had left for months. Draco didn’t know if he deserved this, didn’t know if Harry deserved this, a husband that was fucked in the head.
Harry tugged at his clothes. “Please say something.” His voice quiet now, like he was afraid, too.
That had always been the problem, Draco thought. Harry was always fearless and Draco was always silent.
“Harry,” said Draco, careful with his words, “you are going to regret this.”
“Spending my life with you? I would never.”
Harry was so sincere. Draco searched for a hint of distrust. There wasn’t any.
“What if I run again? What if I was afraid and hurt you again?”
“We can try again, then.”
Draco could feel himself smiling- and then he was laughing, for the first time after months. He pulled Harry closer. “You are a hopeless romantic, do you know that?”
Harry laughed with him. “So what do you think? About us being married?”
“We could do a casual one, you know. In the backyard. No suits needed. I could wear my Weasley sweater, you could borrow mine if you want.”
“Good lord, have mercy on me,” Draco mumbled, already drifting to sleep. He moved his leg between Harry’s. “I can’t wait. For the wedding, obviously. Certainly not wearing that ugly sweater of yours. They are a disgrace.”
“I saw you wore mine once.”
“Because I was cold and you were on a mission.”
“Yeah, okay, love.”
Harry’s breath was quiet and still, and so was Draco’s. He really couldn’t wait; for them to try again, to spend days ahead with Harry. Harry harry harry harry harry.
“I love you,” Harry whispered against his neck. He left kisses there, the movements were sloppy and slow.
And love—Draco had thought about it, so many times. Harry had said it again and again, always absolute with every declaration he made. There was never a hint of hesitation. Harry said it like the word love wasn’t heavy on his chest, like he was so sure; like he had decided with no doubt. Draco never said anything back, though. He usually closed the conversation with a kiss on Harry’s temple, or with a hug going tighter.
But Harry said they could always try again. And that he wanted to marry Draco, let their lives collide for the rest of it.
“Me, too,” Draco said, quietly. He then added in haste, “I love you, too, I mean.”
Draco left a kiss on the top of Harry’s head. Harry left out a giggle and snuggled closer. At that moment Draco couldn’t wait to try again. And again and again and again.