Ghosts of Christmas: Spirits Lend a Helping Hand

Ghosts of Christmas: Spirits Lend a Helping Hand
Posted originally on the  Archive of Our Own  at http://archiveofourown.org/works/8210482.

Rating:  Mature 
Category: M/M 
Fandom: Harry Potter – J. K. Rowling 
Relationship:  Draco Malfoy/Harry Potter,  Hermione Granger/Ron Weasley 
Characters:  Draco Malfoy,  Harry Potter,  Hermione Granger,  Ron Weasley 
Additional Tags:  Christmas,  Ghosts,  curse,  True Love,  soul-bonding 
Stats: Published: 2006-12-30
Words: 7249

Summary:

The Three Spirits of Christmas lend Harry and Draco a helping hand.

Challenge: This is a Challenge Response for Cipher’s Ghost of Christmas Challenge from 2005. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Beta: The wonderful Trilling Star, who even though she had finals and everything else on her plate, she edited this for me. I don’t know what I would do without her.

Copyright: This plot/story is ©2005 – 2007 by Dream Howler. This story is the sole property of its author, and may not be copied, in whole or in part, or posted on any other website without the written permission of the author. As for the characters that are in this story, they are the property of J. K. Rowling(Harry Potter characters), and Charles Dickens (The ghosts and basic storyline) and are only being borrowed for my enjoyment. I am not receiving money for writing this story, and have no money for any lawyers to take should they decide to sue me.

*~*~*~*

‘Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the Manor,
The house-elves were stirring,
Making a small Christmas dinner.

Though this year, sadly,
There wasn’t much cause for celebration,
For the Lady of the Manor was lost with much tribulation,
And left the sole heir miserable and alone.

*~*~*~*

Draco Malfoy, the young Lord of the Manor, sat quietly at what used to be his father’s desk, contemplating the sad facts of his life. In all his years on Earth, Draco had never once told his parents that he was gay. His mother had been understandably upset when Ms. Pansy Parkinson died during the war, though Draco had not been. No matter what he had to face in his lonely life, he had never wanted to be married to the pug-faced young woman. Although he hadn’t ever wanted to see her dead, at least he hadn’t been forced to marry her.

So here he was, several years older, alone, and unloved. Sure, he had a few dalliances over the years, but he never really found anyone that made him feel complete. Not having much to do with his life, Draco threw himself into his father’s investments, even improving upon them. In fact, he was now one of the richest young bachelors in the Wizarding world; unfortunately, his world was full of regret. There was always that one “what if” in his life that he regretted. However, as always, he pushed that thought aside to see if he could get some of his most pressing paperwork done. It did no good to think of him. He didn’t need Draco, never had.

*~*~*~*

At bedtime that night, Draco was understandably depressed. Walking to the window, he silently wished for some sign of where he should be going with his life. Instead of a sign, Draco Malfoy got something even better, three ghosts that had helped a number of people in the world: the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

Draco had been asleep for barely an hour when the ghost of his father visited him. Draco was stunned as his father hadn’t been a very nice man, and had been dead for a number of years. But what shocked Draco most was the haggard appearance of the once handsome aristocrat. His hair was all matted, his robes torn, and it looked like the older Malfoy had suffered through a tremendous amount of scorn. The man Draco had known as his father was covered in thick, heavy chains, and a large, heavy metal ball rolled behind him as he walked. With his back propped up against the pillows, Draco sat quietly. He stared at the man who had once ruled his life, but Draco felt only pity, and not one ounce of fear.

“Father, have you decided to haunt me after all of these years? If you have, you might as well save your breath; I was not the cause of your death.”

Lucius Malfoy shook his head. “No, my son, I did not come to haunt you, only to warn you. Tonight, you will be visited by three spirits that by nature are designed to help you see clearly what you should do differently with your life. You are causing pain to the one who cares about you most , and the spirits are here to warn you what will happen to both you and the others if you continue along this path.”

Draco looked stunned. His father cared that he was causing someone else pain… impossible. “Father, why would you care about the pain of others? You never have before. You served the Dark Lord for years, killing and hurting many innocent people. Why is it that I am being haunted? I haven’t caused anyone’s death.”

Lucius Malfoy frowned. “No, that’s true, but you may yet. Listen to them, my son. Do not condemn yourself to the place of banishment that I have been sent to after my death. Expect the first ghost at the stroke of one.”

With that, Lucius Malfoy turned on his heels and started to fade out of the room, chains rattling in his wake. A few ghostly words floated back through the air towards Draco’s ears. “There is nothing wrong with being gay, my son. In fact, most Malfoys have been either bisexual or gay. Son, do not be frightened of the spirits. Just accept who you are, and be proud of your heritage.”

Draco couldn’t believe his ears – his father knew that he was gay and approved? Draco shook his head and snuggled down into his bed, drifting off into a fitful sleep.

*~*~*~*

An hour later, Draco was awoken by a loud bang. His wand flew into his hand, and thinking someone was about to attack him, he quickly climbed out of bed, only to find a ghostly child-like creature, yet not a child, that was no taller than five foot three inches tall. Though its hair was of the purest white, its face did not show the wrinkles of old age. It was clothed in a sheath of purest white, and around its waist was a beautiful belt that shone in lustrous tones. Clutched in its hand was a branch of green holly, and its tunic was trimmed in summer flowers.

“Young Mr. Malfoy, I am the Ghost of Christmas Past. I am here to show you how your past errors have ruined two lives,” said the Ghost.

Draco looked up at the ghost, confused once again. “Two lives? How could my actions have ruined two lives?”

“You obviously don’t understand, but I am the past, not the present, or future.” The Ghost smiled grimly. “All I know is that he has been waiting for many years alone, waiting for you to realize how much you mean to him.”

Draco scoffed. “I should have known that this was about Potter. He doesn’t need me; he doesn’t need anyone. He killed the Dark Lord, what would he need some Death Eater’s son for? He moved on a long time ago. I see it in the Prophet every day.”

The Ghost glared at the young man seated before him. “That rag has spread nothing true about Mr. Potter in years. Even you must remember the mess it spread about Harry Potter during his fifth year in school.”

Draco shrugged. “I’ve seen him with some of his boyfriends, so it’s not all lies. It doesn’t matter. He never needed me, and he never will.”

The Ghost sighed. “Mr. Malfoy, I am here to show you just how wrong you are about Mr. Potter. Please take hold of my hand; we are going to take a trip into the past.”

Draco rolled his eyes and gave a long-suffering sigh, but finally reached out to grasp the Ghost’s silvery hand against his better judgment.

*~*~*~*

A few moments later, Draco was standing by a bright shiny tree, with an enormous mound of presents underneath it. It didn’t take very long for Draco to guess that this had been Harry’s home when he was younger. A few moments later, Draco saw several large people come into the living room, along with a thin, horse-faced woman who settled onto the couch. The young boy, who could kindly be described as a young whale, tore into every single gift, until there wasn’t even one left under the tree. Of course, the spoiled child then began to complain that there weren’t enough presents under the tree. In fact, the brat ranted on for several minutes until his parents promised that they would get him some more presents later that day.

After the promise by Harry’s Muggle relatives, Draco was distracted by a small whimper coming from under the stairs. He looked up at the Ghost, who motioned for him to go towards the cupboard. Inside, he could see a young Harry Potter, his emerald colored eyes shining with unshed tears as he had watched every present go to the greedy little child.

Draco turned from the sight when he heard a movement behind him, and looked toward the Muggles. The older Muggle brought out a used shirt that was five sizes too large for any young boy, and began walking towards the stairs. A moment later, the lock on the cupboard door was opened, and the large shirt pushed inside. “Here, dress in your new shirt, boy, and go make our breakfast. Don’t forget that we want lunch promptly at noon. No later or you’ll not be getting any food for a week.”

Draco gasped, glaring at the Muggles as he exclaimed loudly, “How dare he treat Harry that way!”

The Ghost nodded. “This is not the only time that this has happened, young Malfoy. Harry spent all of his Christmases like this until he turned eleven. The presents were always previously used or meaningless. One time he received a pair of holey socks, once a clothes hanger. Harry’s first real presents were from his friend Ron and the Weasley family.”

Draco swallowed hard. “No wonder he never went home for Christmas. How can this be true, though? Everyone always said he was adored by his Muggle family.”

The ghost shrugged. “That was your father who spread that rot, along with the other Death Eaters. They were wrong. In fact, Harry didn’t even know he was a wizard until he turned eleven. His first friend was a half-giant named Hagrid, who you offended the moment that you met him.”

Draco cringed. He remembered all too well what had happened when he made fun of the half-giant upon first meeting Harry. Years later, he finally realized that it was one of the reasons Harry hated him so much. He had never been one to take in the different and embrace it like Harry.

“Harry’s Muggle relatives were going to send him to Stonewall High, the state school for Muggles, while their son went off to a private school. The clothes he got from his Muggle family were castoffs that were dyed gray in order for them to not have to buy him new ones. That was how he got such big, baggy clothes. Harry’s first pair of new clothes were his school robes.”

Draco gasped, not even able to comprehend not having new clothes every couple of months. ‘How had Harry survived?’ Draco thought. A moment later, he realized the answer. ‘Harry didn’t know any better. All he had were these ugly hand-me-downs, so of course, he survived with what he was given.’

The Ghost continued. “He didn’t have any clothes that fit him really well until he came back to school for his seventh year, when he was convinced by Hermione to do some shopping in a Muggle store and ask Madam Malkin for some formal and casual wizarding clothes. Hermione reasoned that since Harry didn’t have to go back to the Muggles anymore he could buy some nice clothes. Harry was always afraid that if his aunt and uncle found out about his inheritance that they would try and take it all away from him.”

Draco turned back toward the young Harry, who was struggling to get into the over-sized shirt. It was so large it could have passed for a nightshirt. Frowning, Draco looked up sadly at the Ghost. “I didn’t make this any easier, did I? I always made fun of him for staying at school every Christmas. Why didn’t he ever tell me off for it?”

The Ghost smiled. “I don’t know. Perhaps he felt it was nothing to get upset about. He hadn’t ever had a real Christmas, so what would he have to compare it to?”

Draco nodded mournfully and sighed. “Can we go now? Or is there more here to see? I don’t know how much more of this sadness I can take. I was already miserable enough before this little adventure.”

The Ghost nodded. “Then let’s skip ahead a few hours. There is something else here that you need to see.”

In what seemed like just a few moments, the scene changed to the Dursleys’ kitchen. A large meal was set on the table and Harry stood near the door of the kitchen, staring longingly at the food as though he hadn’t eaten in several days. He was painfully thin and looked like he got just enough food to survive. A few moments later, the two whales and the thin woman dug into the food, not even inviting young Harry to the table. Even though the food looked perfect, the elder Dursley complained the whole time, everything from the seasoning Harry used to the bread being too warm spewed forth from between his fat lips. He left a few meager crumbs on his plate as he thrust it at his nephew to clean up.

Out of what was left of the large meal, Harry received only a pitiably small piece of meat and some half-eaten bread. The three of them had eaten all of his hard work. Disgusted, Draco stood and watched the scene before him. He realized that the Muggle was a pig and that the food couldn’t have been as bad as he let on. If the food was truly tasteless as the Muggle complained, then he would have refused to eat it.

Several minutes later, the three left the room for Harry to clean. The young boy quickly ate the leftovers before his uncle had a chance to change his mind and then set about tidying up the kitchen. Draco felt a tear slide down his cheek. The lone tear was the first he had shed in many years, and it was a testament to how what he had just witnessed affected him.

*~*~*~*

Suddenly, Draco found himself back at Hogwarts, in what appeared to be Gryffindor Tower. The room looked much cozier than the stark, cold dungeons where Draco had grown up for seven years. In the corner of the room, Draco could barely make out the forms of Granger, Weasley, and Potter. Potter was curled up on the chair, looking like he was about to cry. It was then that Draco remembered the outfit that Harry had on; it was the one that had made Harry look so tempting and hot. This was the day he told Potter to never bother him again, that he wasn’t interested in the “Golden Boy.”

“I just don’t understand! I mean the signs were all there! Why did he reject me, I need him…” Harry said as he tried to suppress his sobs.

Hermione looked sadly at her friend. “Well, you did what you could, Harry. It’s not that you could tell him the truth. I doubt he would listen or understand.”

Harry shrugged as he continued to sob. “Why did it have to be him? He doesn’t need me, he’ll never need me. How can you tell someone that you will never be complete without them?”

Hermione sighed softly. “I guess you don’t, Harry. Maybe one day, he will realize what he just lost. Maybe it won’t be too late when he finally realizes it.”

Harry nodded. “I guess I should have realized that I would never be happy. It’s not like I have ever had a happy childhood. I guess all I can do is attempt to find some peace with myself, and just exist. It’s all I can do, I suppose.”

The scene faded out, leaving Draco confused. Soon questions were flying out of his mouth as fast as he could speak them. “Why can’t Harry be complete? Is something wrong with him? What does this have to do with me?”

The Ghost smiled. “I am sorry, Mr. Malfoy, but you will have to figure that one out yourself. It’s time we get back now. The next Ghost will be arriving shortly.”

Draco frowned and nodded his head, again grasping the Ghost’s hand only to reappear in Draco’s bedroom, the sheets still rumpled from his tossing around after his father’s visit. “Goodnight, Mr. Malfoy, try to get some sleep, and good luck in the future.”

Draco nodded but knew he would have problems getting any more sleep tonight. Harry’s conversation with his two friends was too unsettling. The only reason he could think of that involved Harry needing him was for a play toy. However, one doesn’t cry over a play toy. If Draco hadn’t known better, he would have said that Harry was in love with him that day Harry asked him out on a date. No, that wasn’t possible, Harry couldn’t love him. It was absurd.

Eventually, Draco started to nod off, jolting awake several times. His eyes felt heavy, yet his mind was troubled. Thoughts tumbled through his mind, and eventually he fell into a restless sleep.

*~*~*~*

A little over an hour later, the Ghost of Christmas Present appeared, dressed like Father Christmas. However, instead of the crisp red of the man himself, he was clothed in elaborate green robes trimmed in soft white fur. His stature could only be described as gigantic, almost as tall as the half-giant Hagrid. He wore a crown of leaves and holly that circled his head like a wreath. He shook the young Lord to awaken him, and stood silently waiting for Draco to wake up from his slumber.

“Well, it seems that Ghost of Christmas Past left you confused, didn’t he? He tends to do that. Once we all leave, you will probably have more questions than answers. However, that is mainly why we are here. You asked for a sign, and we are it, showing you what could have been, and what will happen if you don’t change things now. ”

Draco nodded submissively. “Looks like this night will be even more depressing, but carry on, Spirit. I know you’re just doing your job.”

The Ghost nodded. “Take a hold of my robes, Mr. Malfoy. We have many places to visit and a short time to do it in.”

A moment later, Draco and the Ghost of Christmas Present arrived in front of a small cottage. The place smelled of animals, and Draco almost mistook it for a farm. Though there was a barn on the property, it didn’t look like any farm that Draco had ever seen before. Cats and dogs were chasing their way around the property, not noticing the pair of intruders. A moment later, Draco noticed a young man beyond a large fence, petting a massive creature. The Ghost motioned for him to walk in that direction, so Draco did. What he saw shocked him to the core. It was Harry Potter, looking worse than Draco had ever seen him. He was overly thin and looked to be slowly wasting away. ‘Is Potter sick?’ Draco thought. ‘He didn’t look like that when I saw him in the Prophet last week.’

“Spirit, what is wrong with Potter? Is he dying?” Draco asked, hesitantly.

“I would venture that you could say that, Mr. Malfoy. He has looked like this for a number of years. His image to the Wizarding world is much different. He uses complex Glamour Charms in order to fool people. When he is at home, he lets the Glamours fade. While you may not have felt the effects of your actions, Harry has felt them all.”

Draco looked up, once again perplexed by the Spirit’s words. “He isn’t eating, is he? He looks like he hasn’t had a good meal in years. It’s almost as if he’s living with his Muggle relatives again.”

The Ghost nodded. “It’s true, Mr. Potter doesn’t eat a lot. He has lost the will to live. He is barely hanging onto this world, and the thread that holds him here is fraying.”

“What about his friends? Why have they let him get this way? Surely they know!” Draco exclaimed.

“No, Mr. Malfoy. Even his friends are fooled by his charms. His mother was the best at Charms, better than anyone in her generation, and his father was the best at Transfiguration. Do you really think they could stop Mr. Potter from dying if that is what he wanted?” replied the Spirit.

Draco sighed. “No, I suppose not. I assume I’m supposed to do something about this before he dies.”

The Spirit nodded again. “Yes, Mr. Malfoy. He needs you. Perhaps once we spirits leave you for the evening, you will understand why.”

*~*~*~*

The scene before them changed again to inside the Weasley household. Several children were running around outside in the yard and a very tired looking set of parents were collapsing on the couch.

“Harry was supposed to come over today, I Flooed his house and the office. He hasn’t been in all day. I’m worried, Ron,” whispered Hermione.

Ron patted his wife on the knee. “I’m sure Harry is okay, Hermione. He doesn’t need us to baby him. He’s a man now, and he can take care of himself.”

Hermione shook her head again. “No, I mean it. I’m really worried about him. I cast a spell the last time he was here; he’s wearing some sort of complex Glamour Charm! He has to be hiding something… something big. Do you think maybe he has finally given up waiting on him?”

Ron’s face flushed hot with anger. “It’s just like that git not to realize that he’s ruining Harry’s life. I just wish we could tell him to wise up and help Harry before he dies. If he… if Harry… I don’t know what I would do. Harry’s my brother, ‘Mione. I want him back to the way he was before.”

Hermione rolled her eyes, sighed, and cleared her throat. “Well, he doesn’t know what he’s doing to Harry, and Harry can’t tell him why he needs him, now, can he? It was in the conditions.” Hermione paused and looked thoughtful. “Luckily, Harry doesn’t seem to have suffered as much as those before him have. I still can’t believe that he did it. I guess he just wanted to be happy, with someone who didn’t care he was ‘Harry Potter – The Boy Who Lived.’ “

“‘Mione, I… don’t know… but I have this feeling that we won’t have to wait much longer to find out what he is hiding. I have heard that he has been calling out of work frequently, lately and giving all sorts of strange excuses not to come in,” replied Ron sadly.

*~*~*~*

The scene before them faded out and Draco almost screamed in protest. “What are they talking about? Why won’t anyone give me a straight answer?”

The Ghost of Christmas Present looked sadly down at the young Malfoy. “I don’t have those answers, Mr. Malfoy. I can only show you what is presently going on. I cannot show you the past.”

“Well, that certainly isn’t going to help me out. Show me Potter again! He isn’t trying to kill himself, is he?” Draco demanded.

The Ghost’s eyes sparkled brightly. Finally, the young Mr. Malfoy was catching on. He was needed more than he would ever know. He only needed one more push, and he would finally claim what was rightfully his to possess.

“I am sorry, Mr. Malfoy, but I cannot tell you that. He isn’t dead in the present. If he died a minute from now, that would be the Ghost of Future’s department,” the ghost said with a sigh. “We should go, you have one more Ghost to visit with tonight.”

Draco’s eyes fell to the ground as he took the Spirit’s robes in hand and arrived back at his now cold rooms. After the ghost left, Draco called out for a house-elf to bring more wood and fix the fire before walking over to the bed and sitting on his coverlet, which instantly began to warm his cold body due to its permanent Warming Spell. ‘Harry’s dying… because of me? What could he have possibly cast that would ban him from telling me about it?’ Draco thought. ‘Or maybe he was going to tell you the day you shoved him away, and told him to leave you alone,’ whispered a voice in his head.

Draco shuddered, the heat of the fire doing nothing for the feeling of dread creeping closer as the clock suddenly struck the new hour and an ethereal figure dressed in black appeared. It bore an uncanny resemblance to the Dementors, who had been practically annihilated in the war.

Before he could move, a long skeletal hand appeared from the apparition’s robe and crooked its finger at Draco, directing him to come closer. The figure didn’t speak, though this spirit frightened the most. He was sure that he would see Harry dead, maybe by some Muggle means, and no one would be there for him.

A bright light suddenly blinded Draco’s eyes and it took several minutes for them to adjust to the light. As his vision cleared, he realized that he was in a graveyard. The Spirit led the way through the tombs and graves until he came upon the graves of Lily and James Potter. Nearby, a freshly dug grave was carved out of the earth. What Draco had been dreading had come to pass. He tried to take a glimpse at the date, but it was clouded and he couldn’t get a clear look as the mysterious light continued to blind him.

“Spirit, please… he can’t be dead already! He was fine just a little bit ago. Please tell me this isn’t Potter’s grave!” Draco pleaded.

The Spirit still didn’t speak. He just pointed to the headstone. All Draco could make out was the name of Harry James Potter, and the epitaph. ‘Died of a Broken Heart. May they be re-united in death.’ Suddenly a bolt of lightning tore across the sky, striking the grave of Harry Potter, illuminating a grave next to it. Draco’s breath caught in his throat, causing him to choke. Upon the stone was the Malfoy crest. Suddenly the Spirit laughed, the noise sounded hollow and empty, devoid of life. Draco stood looking at his grave; he was buried next to Potter. The inscription suddenly glowed brilliantly. ‘He never gave True Love a chance. Died a Lost Soul.’

Draco fell to the ground before his grave, and for the first time in many years, he cried whole-heartedly. He wept as the words on the epitaphs echoed in his mind and heart. ‘I don’t understand, even if we never got together, there was no reason that it would cause my death! Unless… unless the spell that he cast bound us in life and death. He condemned me to death! How could he take my life away from me?’ Draco looked down at the grave with renewed anger.

“I want to go home,” Draco demanded. The solemn Spirit nodded his head and they returned to Draco’s home. During the nearly instantaneous journey, the Ghost of Future received information from Draco’s trip through time to determine his future. The specter found himself troubled. In all his years of helping humans determine their paths in life, the Spirit now felt saddened by his role. Perhaps the Ghosts’ combined visits had only made the situation worse.

*~*~*~*

Draco paced back and forth in his immense library the following Christmas morning. He was determined to find out what spell Potter had cast and end it before Potter took his own life away. He didn’t know how much longer Potter would be alive. ‘Perhaps the quickest solution is to visit Potter, and demand that he take the spell off of me. Yes, that is what I’ll do. Potter owes me that much.’

Draco dressed to the nines, as he decided that he needed to look his best. He stubbornly shoved aside all thoughts that he was really doing it for Potter’s benefit. When he arrived at the cottage he visited with his second ghostly visitor, there were no happy dogs playing in the yard, in fact all the animals seemed to be missing. It was rather early in the morning, but Draco figured he had to arrive early or he might not catch Potter at home.

Suddenly, Draco felt a moment of dread pass through his body, and his heartbeat stuttered. He ran to the cottage’s door, determined to stop Potter from doing whatever he had planned. He pounded furiously on the wooden door, but he received no answer. Quickly, he whipped out his wand and unlocked the door with a flourish. He darted inside, looking around frantically. Scattered around the main room were boxes, lots of boxes. Each was labeled by name, and Draco was surprised that his name was on the largest of them all. Opening the box, he saw photos and clippings; every achievement of Draco’s was documented with care in a large scrapbook. Draco gasped, it was if the ice his father had cultivated around his son’s heart chose that moment to melt. Harry had loved him so much that he kept meticulous track of Draco’s life.

Dropping the photo album back in the box, he cast a Point-Me-Spell and begged his wand to find Harry. It took several seconds before it glowed towards the stairs, which Draco scaled two and three at a time, running as fast as he could given the nature of the spell. Finally Draco found Harry standing near the window of what was the master bedroom. He was looking out the window, tears running down his face. Obviously Harry hadn’t heard Draco come in, and he continued to sob, his face contorted with grief. Draco stood there stunned; he had never comforted anyone while they were sad or depressed.

Going on pure instinct, he quietly walked up behind Harry and wrapped his arms around his waist, pulling Harry towards him. The figure in his arms shuddered and tried to pull away, but Draco wouldn’t let him. “Why, Harry? What did you do to us?”

Harry let out another sob. “Nothing! I just wanted to know who my soul mate was! Is that so horrible? I wanted someone to want me just for me… someone who didn’t care about the fame that I never wanted. Now you’ve probably come to kill me. I should’ve known you would find out someday. I don’t care now, get it over with; I have nothing to live for anyway! Once I’m gone you can find someone else.”

Draco groaned. “You don’t know what you are talking about, Potter! Once you die, I die too! You have condemned me to death! I have seen the future!”

Suddenly Harry wrenched out of Draco’s arms and turned to face him. “No! That’s impossible. If it’s true then why am I dying while you stand there perfectly healthy! The spell said it would only affect me! I wouldn’t have cast it if it would hurt you!” Harry yelled ferociously.

Draco shrugged, and then let out a strangled sigh. “I don’t know what you expect from me! All I know is that I saw us, buried together with the most horrible of epitaphs. I guess — after I saw mine, all I thought about was that you were going to be the death of me. I guess I didn’t realize that you would be the life of me as well. Po…Harry… don’t die.”

“I’ve been a fool for so long. I don’t even deserve your forgiveness. I thought you just wanted another notch on your belt, that you needed some new play toy. When you asked me out that day, all I could think of was why would the great Harry Potter would want to sully himself with the likes of a Death Eater’s son. I pushed you away for your own safety!” Draco said as he stared into Harry’s gorgeous green eyes.

Harry shook his head sadly, trying to hide something in his hand. Draco caught sight of a vial and recognized it to be poison. He quickly grabbed it away from Harry. “No, don’t even think of it. You’re no coward, and that is the coward’s way out!”

“It’s better than suffering through a life without you, Draco! I tried as long as I could, but this spell eats away at me… it’s been slowly killing me for years. As long as we remain apart, as long as you’re not mine, it’ll make me so cold and soulless that I’ll eventually become something like a Dementor. Fitting end really, but I am tired of waiting for death,” Harry whispered, another sob finding its way out of his weakened body.

Draco was stunned, suddenly he knew what spell he had cast, and felt guilty. “You cast the Verus Amare spell, didn’t you Harry?”

Harry nodded numbly. “Of course, it didn’t show me anything new. I already knew I was destined to love you, and it only confirmed what I felt. Sadly, being the Gryffindor that I am, I didn’t read the fine print. It said that if I couldn’t persuade my true love to love me in return, that I would die a painful death. Being that I had more power than the normal wizard, it has taken me a lot longer to die,” Harry said as his voice trembled. “Hermione even thought that I broke the curse on the spell. I didn’t tell her that it had robbed me of everything that I had ever wanted. A family, love, a future… everything. I’ve never had love. No one has ever loved me, and no one will start now. It’s hopeless. You hate me, just like you always have, and I’ll die anyway. Why are you even here, Malfoy? Come to watch me kill myself?” Harry spat out angrily.

Draco blinked. “Where did you get all that rubbish from? Didn’t you hear a word I just said? I said that I pushed you away for your own good! Doesn’t that mean that I would have to care about your feelings, you idiot?”

Draco grabbed Harry and yanked him close, taking him in his arms and holding him tight, not allowing Harry to struggle. “I am not going to let you die on me now, Harry. I won’t let you, because I have loved you since we were eleven!”

Harry groaned. Being so close to Draco like this warmed Harry’s tortured soul, though he suddenly felt like Draco had dashed him with ice water. “L-lo– loved me? How could you treat me like that for seven years and turn me away if you loved me!” Harry tried to wrench out of Draco’s grasp, but being weak from the curse, he didn’t have much strength left to resist.

Draco leaned down and kissed Harry’s cheek softly, whispering into his ear. “Sometimes, you have to do things in your life that you aren’t proud of, Harry. While I was growing up, my father insisted that the Dark Lord would return, and that he would want to kill you for robbing him of his life. I did honestly want to be your friend the day I offered you my friendship. It wasn’t until later I realized that the only way to keep you safe was to not be around you. I figured it would be harder for my father to grab you and take you to his Master. He expected me to be the perfect pureblood wizard, Harry.” Draco sighed, and clutched Harry closer.

“I couldn’t be anything other than what he wanted me to be until you helped put him away, I had too many spies watching me. It was the best day of my life, and still the saddest part was when he was received the Dementor’s Kiss. I was heartbroken that I lost a parent, but I was happy, too, that I didn’t have to be mean or cruel towards you anymore. Then, of all things, you suddenly asked me out the second I started trying to figure out who I was! What was I supposed to say, Harry? I can’t go with you; I’m not good enough for you? That would have gone over well. The Slytherins would have either murdered me in my sleep, or laughed me right out of the house.” Draco let out a soft groan as he felt himself harden against Harry’s body; being so close to Harry was intoxicating.

Harry shuddered in Draco’s grasp, too tired to run any more. “It’s too late now anyway… my time is up. I didn’t care about what your father was, Draco, I only cared about you. I was more worried that I wasn’t good enough for you, being a half-blood and all.”

Draco shook his head. “I stopped believing in that crap years ago. Snape helped me accept the truth, believe it or not. He convinced me that if we didn’t allow Muggle-borns and half-bloods into our society, then in several generations, all wizards would be gone, and all the people remaining would be Squibs or Muggles.”

Draco slowly and carefully picked Harry up and carried him toward the bed, laying him down. Harry tried to get up and leave, but Draco wouldn’t let him. He leaned down and gave Harry a long, passionate kiss that astounded him. When Draco pulled away, Harry grabbed him suddenly, pulling Draco on top of him, kissing him again. With the flick of his wand, Draco divested them of their clothing, gasping at the sight of Harry’s underfed body that was wasting away as his heart broke under the curse. Draco swore to himself that he would bring Harry back to life. He kissed down over the sharp angles of Harry’s body, his hand tracing along the soft skin of the other man’s thighs as he caressed closer to Harry’s awakening erection.

Harry choked out a breath loudly, fearfully hoping that this wasn’t just another one of his dreams, which were often littered with Draco coming to save his life only moments before Harry’s death. Shoving those thoughts away, Harry attacked Draco’s mouth with a sudden burst of energy. He had no idea where it came from, but he welcomed the surge of passion, devouring Draco with years of pent up love and lust. Just as suddenly as he was on top, Harry was on the bottom again; Draco settled between his thighs, begging with his eyes to let him make love to him. Harry blinked back tears as he nodded, letting out a soft sniff as he was patiently and slowly prepared. Draco seemed to know instinctively that it had been a long time for Harry, and if he had ever been with anyone in that way, Draco didn’t think it was a good time to ask.

It was after several long moments that Draco finally pushed his way inside Harry, and Draco suddenly knew he was home. He gave Harry a moment to adjust, then he began to slowly move in and out of Harry, trembling with the feeling of finally being inside the one man he had ever loved.

Harry’s thoughts were whirling as he was taken so lovingly. He felt unexpectedly better than he had in years, and he knew that the curse was lifting. His body was quickly repairing the damage from the curse as it was finally allowed to heal itself. Harry trembled with the overwhelming sensations of both being made love to and regaining his strength – it was almost enough to make him pass out. As Draco cried out his release, and Harry followed, a bright light blinded them both, and when it cleared, Harry looked the way he had when his Glamour was on. This time, Draco knew it wasn’t a charm. No, this was his real Harry. The man he had always loved.

“I love you, Harry…” whispered Draco.

“I love you too, Draco…” he whispered back. “I feel so whole again, I feel better than I have in years.”

Draco smiled. “You look like it too.” Draco conjured a mirror to show Harry, who breathed heavily.

“I… I… can’t believe it. It’s really me, no charm or anything,” Harry whispered as he touched his own face.

Harry was healed. The curse was broken, and as long as Harry and Draco loved each other, they would live a long and healthy life.

*~*~*~*

Harry and Draco were married shortly after their bonding of souls. Hermione and Ron were ecstatic that their friend was alive and well. Of course, Ron grumbled that Harry had to marry a Malfoy and was now Harry Malfoy. For the sake of peace, Draco apologized to Ron and Hermione, and after many years, he even won their love and friendship. It took a lot of work on Ron’s part, but when he saw how happy Harry was, he couldn’t let the family feud last any longer.

Harry and Draco added three children to their family over the next several years, and Ginny carried each of them. It was shocking to the pair of wizards that they had two young boys that looked just like each of them. Their third child was a lovely, delicate little girl who had Draco’s pale coloring, and Harry’s black hair, which luckily for her, fell in soft ringlets to her shoulders. The doctors at St. Mungo’s were only too happy to help the defeater of the Dark Lord to join each of the fathers’ sperm to fertilize an egg, and stripping Ginny’s genetic coding allowed each child to be a combination of Harry and Draco. Harry and Draco often suspected that the creator of the procedure had altered the formula somewhat to get that exact combination of genes, but neither would ever complain. They loved their children dearly.

Several months after the birth of their last child, both men were shocked to discover the inventor of the procedure was Severus Snape, who had wanted to have children of his own with his long-time husband, lover, and companion, Remus Lupin.

The children grew up and had their own children, always having known tremendous love from both their parents and grandparents. When Draco thought back to that fateful Christmas, he imagined that his epitaph would now read: “Almost lost his true love. Luckily he was reunited with his other half.”

*~*~*~*

Author’s Notes: Well, I hope you liked this. It seemed to be what came and bit me when I first saw the challenge. I know it was a bit sad, and angsty in several places, and I know that the sex scene was mostly a fade-out, but I didn’t think that the whole scene would benefit the story. I hope you will forgive me for that.

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