by Faith Unbreakable

Maybe we were bent and broken,
We want more than this world's got to offer,
We want more than the wars of our fathers,
And everything inside screams for a second life,
We were meant to live,
We were meant to live for so much more.
-after Switchfoot, Meant To Live

I. Meant to Live

There is no way to tell when it all started.

It was a slow change, creeping and crawling unnoticed until it was too late. Not unlike cancer really.

And one day the Wizarding World woke up and Harry Potter had fallen from grace.

In hindsight everyone saw the signs and everyone noticed before anyone else, of course. Public temper tantrums, his dependence on Weasley and Granger, his dropping grades. He only wore black and he was thinner and paler than ever. He barely spoke and laughed at odd moments.

There were rumors about drugs and attempted suicides.

Draco listened to all this with a snort and moved on. Had to happen sometime, after all.

He sits high up on the Astronomy Tower now, watching the stars above, reveling in the fact that people will get a heart attack when they find him up here. He allows himself a wry grin. He's twenty bloody years old and still haunts the halls of Hogwarts like he did as a kid. Oh, the things the war makes people do.

Stuck in the same building with Merlin knows how many saints and not a single Slytherin beside Snape to back him up. That's what you get for betraying your family.

Life at Hogwarts is no fun these days. Not even the Golden Trio is here to annoy. The only drop by once every three months or so, looking nothing like they once did, all color and black, piercing and rebellion.

They got thrown out after Potter's fall from grace, because they don't play well with others these days.

That's what Dumbledore says.

Draco thinks that they are just afraid. The former Golden Trio has the power to severely damage their little play pretend army of the Light and their leader is severely unhinged.

So there.

There's a sound behind the blonde suddenly, a creaking of old wood and then a voice, "You got one of those fags to spare?"

Draco sits up, turning to look at Potter, who sits down beside him as if it's the most natural thing in the world. His eyes are so bright in the dark they look like Avada Kedavra captured and frozen. He is thin and pale, his leather pants hanging low in his hips. The only thing that keeps his long sleeves from slipping back past his elbows as he rests them on his knees are his thumbs, sticking out of the thin black material where no holes should be. That's Potter in a nutshell for you, always doing things differently, no matter how much easier the other route would be.

He even paves his own way to hell by the looks of it.

Silver glints all the way up his right ear and on his lower lip, rivaling the stars above. Draco pulls out a fag and watches as Potter lights it wandlessly with merely a thought.

Death walking.

"So? What brings you up here, oh Great One?" His sarcasm is sharper than ever, with countless helpless victims around to practice on daily and no-one to take points from him. It's lives they take now, not points.

"Maybe it just looks like a good place to jump down from?"

Draco snorts, "Don't tell me there's something to those rumors after all."

Harry shrugs, then shakes his head. Then nods, "Ron and Mione made me promise not to. I keep my promises."

Maybe Draco never gave the two of them enough credit. They seem to be all that keeps this shell going.


"Because I love them. Because they love me?"

Funny answer that, but then Potter always was a few elves short of a household.

"Then why'd you drag them down with you in the first place?"

He shrugs, taking a deep drag, inhaling the smoke and poison as deeply as he can. Suddenly he grins gleefully, studying the grounds below, before rounding on Draco, grin still in place.

"You see", he whispers conspiratorially, "I never had a choice."

Draco thinks he must look very stunned indeed, because Potter cackles and explains, "You see, even before I was born, everyone already had those great expectations of me. Savior, Enemy, Golden Boy, Voldemort's ruin. They made me their idol, their hero, their fucking god.

"And what can a god do, but fall? I had to fall you see, because I could only be two things, Saint or Sinner. Hero or Antihero. And we both know that all beauty withers and all good dies, don't we?

"I may be a little suicidal, but I'm not going to die for someone else's cause. And the only way out is down."

He shakes his head, as if to stop more words from flowing but he fails. He goes on, with a gleam in his eyes, that speaks of insanity and something else.

I never had a choice.

Did any of them? Did Weasley and Granger seal their fate as the keepers of an insane force of nature when they took this child/man's hand in friendship? Did they choose to become as they are, the only thing this broken creature loves? Did they choose to bear this burden? Did Draco have a choice when he turned on everything he knew? Did he choose to kill his former friends?

Did even a single one of them ever have a fucking choice?

Suddenly he doesn't think so.

Reading his thoughts Potter goes on, "And you know what, Drake? It's beautiful down there. Darkness is pure in a way that Light never is and power tastes better than any good deed ever will. The three of us, we're playing our own game now. We're free."

He throws his cigarette into the night, watching the orange gleam fade toward the ground below, watching its descent with a childlike fascination.

Suddenly he stands, stretching, showing off a complete set of ribs. He's perfect, Draco thinks. Like glass, shattered and then put back together in a whole new way. A better way, with sharp edges and angles all over. It cuts deep, this new sculpture of human failure.

We're free.

Harry throws him another of those maniacal grins, flashing his teeth in the dark, "You're invited to our playground anytime you choose, Drake."

Draco shakes his head, for the first time noticing the use of a nickname, "I'm not one of your bloody groupies Potter. And I'm not like you either."

"Not yet."

With that Potter takes a step forward, walking straight off the edge of the roof into empty air. Draco scrambles forward to watch, horror blooming in his chest like a delicate flower.

All he sees in the dark is Potter's face, turned up toward him, eyes glinting in the dark.

He's laughing.

And then he suddenly disappears mid-air with a loud crack, anti- apparition wards and all and Draco falls back against the roof, his heart still hammering in his ribcage, like something wild.

I never had a choice.

The words echo in his head, endlessly it seems until they finally fade out, leaving Draco alone in the dark.

I never had a choice.

There is no way to tell when it all started.

And there's even less of a chance to predict how it's going to end, now, because Potter was their Hero, their Savior, Their Golden Boy and he never had a fucking choice.


II. Act of Defiance

He limps and he hurts and he hates himself for his own weakness. Still, there is no way in hell that he is going to spend the night in the infirmary.

Sighing Draco pushes off the doorframe and slowly starts the too long walk to his room, where some alcohol and a vial of dreamless sleep potion are waiting.

Severus says he's going to kill himself with that mixture one day. Draco always laughs hysterically at that and offers his former teacher a glass of brandy himself. The man usually accepts with a tired smile of his own and he never stops giving Draco the potion.

He rounds a corner and stops at the sight before him. Weasley and Granger, each with an arm around the other, whispering. Their faces look serious, despite their comfortable positions.

A couple of years ago Draco would have tried sneaking closer to hear what was being said, but not now. Now there's war and sneaking up on someone can be a death sentence.

Especially with those two.

So he stays where he is and uses the chance to really look at them for the first time since graduation. Where they took their diplomas and apparated out of the Great Hall, leaving the whole Wizarding World shocked to the core. For weeks everyone tried to read meaning into the disappearing act, but it seemed no-one but the Malfoy heir really appreciated the gesture for what it was.

A simple act of defiance.

If Potter was going to die to save the world, then he would, but he would do it playing by his own rules.

Rebel without a cause and hero without a choice.

Sometimes Draco wishes he had the power to do it. He, the outcast, the Death Eater child, the forever-mistrusted and always-despised. He doesn't even carry the Mark, but again, this is war and in war no childhood sin is ever forgotten.

Or forgiven.

Granger seems to have finally realized that the only way to tame her hair is to keep it short and so it ends just below her ears, a frizzy but semi-ordered mass of purple that would clash horribly with Weasley's red hair, if he still had any. He is bald as a bludger, except for a small strip of hair, running from his forehead down to the nape of his neck, dyed a glaring green.

There are studs in Granger's nose, lip and ears, glinting in the torch light like diamonds. The Weasel is no better, with his ear and eyebrow pierced. Draco also thinks he sees a tattoo in Weasely's neck. A black spider, crawling towards the patch of green, as if it were grass, salvation.

Funny, the whole school always knew that the boy was scared shitless of spiders. Well, Draco thinks, we all have to grow up some time, don't we? And a tattoo certainly is cheaper than getting killed on the battlefield because you got distracted by a bloody instect.

They both wear black, like Potter, but at least they look like they eat from time to time. Actually Weasley looks more like a bully than ever. Granger is dwarfed by him.

Finally getting tired of watching, Draco moves forward, shuffling his feet loudly, in the hopes of not getting killed by a stray curse.

Both of his former enemies turn to him almost immediately, but not alarmed. Bastards knew he was there the whole time.

He nods in recognition, receiving a muted glare and a bleak smile in return.

"You're early."

Getting only confused looks he explains, "Usually you take exactly three months to come back. This time you're two weeks early."

Weasley glares again, but it's obvious that it's more out of habit now than actual intent. Draco thinks the other man's glares are a lot like his own sarcasm. An automatic reaction to everything, which shows in that split second, it takes his brain to catch up to unknown situations.

Draco also thinks that his sarcasm is probably better than Weasley's glares, because words distract the enemy, while glares do not. Might save your life one day.

Funny how it all comes down to this now.

Life was never as important as it is in times like these. Times when death reigns supreme and a person is merely a number somewhere on one of the billions and billions of reports getting stacked on Dumbledore's desk.

"Have you seen Harry?"

"No, not tonight."

The two of them exchange a look before Granger turns back to him, serious again, "If you see him, tell him to come back to our room, please."

It sounds like something she repeated a thousand times already. And Draco's mouth works faster than his brain, again. Old habits die hard in times of peace, but they are immortalized by war, death and bitter grief.

"Sounds like you lose your Golden Boy a lot."

It's the Weasel who answers, and there's no venom in his voice. He sounds like a machine, built to fight this war, not to talk. Draco misses the impulsive asshole from his school days suddenly. This... man, he's as dead as most of his family already and the only thing that still remains of the boy he once was is the automatic glare. It's a flicker of a dead soul inside a dead body and it's moments like these that the Malfoy heir realizes that even if they win this war, things will never, ever be the same again.

There's no way back from this edge they are all standing on.

They can only lose.

"He comes and goes as he pleases. We try to keep him with us, he's gone within the hour. He'll come back at some point. It's useless to try and hunt him down. He'll turn up again. He always does. Sometimes we have to put him back together from scratch, but he always comes back."

They can only lose.

What did you do, Potter, he suddenly wonders. What did you do by loving those two creatures? Do you even know how badly you broke them? Do you know that their love for you is what keeps them coherent now? Do you?

It's a complicated question. Three months ago he would have said, no, of course Potter doesn't know. He never would let anyone hurt because of him, but now? After their talk on the roof weeks ago, he's not so sure.

Potter's life was written for him before he took his first step, somewhere in a quiet suburb, surrounded by hatred and disgust. So why should any of them be any different? Granger, Weasley, even Draco himself, they are all chained to Potter in a way that can never be broken. Their whole world is. Does that mean that their path too is written with blood on ancient walls?

Again, there's that question.

Did any of them ever have a choice?

He believes it a little less every moment.

He nods, "I will", and limps past them, towards his room on the fifth floor. It would be an interesting change from the dungeons he spent all of his school days in, if he ever had the time to enjoy the view. Even now, all he wants is his bed.


III. Illusion and Reflection

Of course the next person to cross his limping path is no other than the Great Savior himself and again Draco just stands there and watches.

Potter stands in the middle of the hallway, like a statue, staring at nothing, nothing at all. But that's not the first thing Draco notices. Neither is it how pale and thin and beautiful the other man is. Because he is beautiful, now more than ever.

A vision of all the suffering and injustice of this world, crammed together in five feet eight. He's a piece of art that is neither eternal nor easy on the eye. He's complicated, a torn canvas with bits and pieces floating in the air.

You have to look real close, but when you do you can still see flickers and burnt remains of the watercolor picture that once decorated the canvas. They flash and dance and in the right light, sometimes, Potter looks almost like that picture again.

But he's not.

And that's where the tragic beauty lies. It's all smoke and mirrors, illusion and reflection. Potter is whatever you need him to be, nothing more. But nothing less, either.

He's Trelawney's crystal ball that always showed dead and rotting girls whoever they were in love with at the moment. It's probably a good thing that Trelawney's been one of the first to fall in this war.

But all that is not what Draco notices first. No, the thought shooting through his head is the realization that he never did find out why the glorious three are two weeks early.

They kept the pattern for years and now they break it. They've all been fighting too long to be able to ignore such details.

"You're fans are looking for you."

"I know."

"Shouldn't you be running along then?"

"Where's your room?"

Slowly, ever so slowly, Draco gets annoyed at not having his questions answered. But then he's not had a decent conversation since before all his friends started trying to kill him. He might just have missed a new trend.

He is about to speak when a whirlwind of red and blonde shoots around the nearest corner and jumps the Boy-who-lived-to-kill with a squeal. Weaslette and Loony, of course. No one else still laughs and dances through the hallways. No one else roams the castle like happy phantoms, turning up when you least expect them to, or need them. Those two, clinging to Potter like love sick puppies might just be all that's left of the spirit of freedom and bravery and justice in these old rotting walls.

Weasley drops her legs from around Potter's waist and he sets her down, a ghost of something sunny and warm grazing his features for a moment.

"Hey Harry..."

"...we've been..."

"...looking for you!..."

Draco wonders when those two started finishing each others' sentences like they twins used to. The twins who laughed and lived and laughed and laughed and lived and died too horribly. At least that's what the others said, horribly. Draco doesn't use words like that anymore. It's better not to.

"How come...."

"'re early?"

Well, at least the blonde is not the only one who noticed. Potter shrugs artfully, "We found something."


It's a chorus now. Lively and bright and wonderfully sunny and it makes Draco sick to see all that energy gone to waste.

"Mione can tell you."

They nod and just like that they're gone again, two girls who grew up too fast yet never grew up at all. The sad remains of hope and joy, and the one thing that still rubs Draco the wrong way when even gruesome bloody deaths leave him cold and untouched.

And then again that question, "Your room?"

Instead of answering he limps past his one time enemy toward a portrait at the end of the hallway. He mutters the password - five words long and freaking complicated - and climbs inside, ignoring Potter completely.

He does, however, leave the door wide open behind him.

Two glasses, a bottle of something acid and burning to silence his rampant thoughts and a tired sigh later, Draco drops dead on his couch, maneuvering his injured leg up on the coffee table. Then he watches his once-enemy wander around his room.

He walks slowly, looking at pictures, little trinkets and childhood memories, his face a screen of unreadable emotions. Small smiles, bright eyes, childish chuckles, they all bleed into each other, leaving the Boy-who-lived the perfect picture of borderline sanity.

Finally, after several long minutes, he sits down across from the blonde, not touching his glass. Now more than ever, he looks like a spirit to Draco. He touches nothing, he drinks nothing, just floats through the damp castle like a half forgotten memory, untouched by the torrent of emotion that drags everyone else down every minute of every day. And always is he smiling his damned semi-grin, like a man gone mad.

No matter that he is.

"What did you mean when you told the Loony Two that you found something?"

"A lead, maybe. Mione found it. We need books from the Restricted Section to find out more."

There's a trace of amused bitterness in his voice and it doesn't take Granger's brains to put two and two together.

"Dumbledore won't give you the books, right?"

Harry laughs and shakes his head and lights a cigarette without asking for permission. Then he watches the smoke dance toward the high ceiling, as if he's watching his soul rise.

Maybe he is.

With him, Draco is never sure of anything anymore.

A man gone mad.

"Of course not. You see, he made a weapon. And then the weapon realized that the power lies not in the one who wields it, but in the weapon itself and it freed itself from its wielder. The wielder, of course, has been trying to either regain control of his weapon or destroy it so it can not be turned against him ever since."

"And the weapon?"

"Don't you read the newspapers? The weapon is a crazy Dark Wizard who aims to be the next Dark Lord. It's a loose cannon that needs to be stopped, a freak, a junkie, a whore."

A sculpture of glass whose shards turned against its creator, Draco muses.

"It's a threat to society and yet no one dares touch this weapon, because without it....A peculiar situation, don't you think?"

He trails off, looking half sad, half elated.

Peculiar indeed. Everyone knows that Potter needs to be brought down, yet everyone fears what will happen once he is out of the picture. And so they let him roam the world, let him dance and sway and trample all their traditions and rules, without doing anything.

And he knows.

Knows that the second Voldemort is dead, the whole world will come down upon him like vultures, tearing him to pieces.

And one day, when the vulture's children have children the history books will say, Harry James Potter killed the evil Lord Voldemort at the age of X.

And all this will mean nothing. Potter will be forgotten and so will the rest of the Golden Trio and everyone else. Potter will be a name without meaning and no one will remember this creature sitting across from Draco Malfoy now. Perfect, twisted, broken, resigned and yet so, so full of hope, always.

It's moments like these Draco regrets not being able to cry anymore.


IV. Not Me

They sit in silence for a long time, watching the smoke of an endless row of cigarettes escape through Potter's nostrils and float towards nothing.

It's almost peaceful until he asks, "Have you decided yet?"

"Decided what?"

"If you're coming with us."

Draco laughs, his head thrown back, picture of innocence and joy that lasts a total of three seconds.

"I knew there was a reason you're here."


"Sure. You need more soldiers, don't you?"

Shrug. Headshake. Nod. Another headshake.

"It's ending, Drake. One way or another, it's ending."


"Why what?"

"Why do you want me to come with you?"

Potter ignores him, dumping the butt of his fag into his still filled glass and climbing to his feet with boneless grace.


He walks over to the window, pulling the heavy drapes aside to flood the room with moonlight. Draco never noticed how fragile, how small Potter really looks. Even thinking of him as a spirit he still had that word in the back of his mind. Weapon.

That's what this black haired man/child is supposed to be, isn't it? A strong and powerful weapon. Not this tiny figure bathed in moonlight that paints his cheekbones too sharp and his eyes too dark and deep.

Potter was always small, always thin and pale but now he's a shadow, white as death, with too many angles and hollow places, inside and out.

Draco can't help thinking that kissing Potter now would hurt. His collarbone would stick out under the palms of his one hand, while the other would carefully count his ribs with skilled fingers. His hipbones would dig into Draco's thighs and afterward those cheekbones would lie painfully on his own shoulder, resting for just a second.

Just one short, harsh second.

There are dark bruises under his eyes in the silver light whispering he doesn't sleep.

It's no secret that he doesn't eat either.

Slowly, Draco gets to his feet, swallowing a pain filled hiss on the way. He limps over to where Harry, he doesn't know when Potter turned into Harry, probably when he realized that the other man is far too fragile, stands.

He comes to a halt right beside the other, looking out at Hogwarts in the moonlight and not feeling a thing for the sight before him. He lost his eye for beauty around the time his father killed his mother. Narcissa was the only beautiful thing in his life that he thought would never go away. And even she left him alone at the age of 17.

Again there is silence. Almost too much until Harry takes half a step closer and leans his head on Draco's shoulder.

The blonde tenses for half a second, but neither of them pulls away and after a while Draco's hand starts moving slowly, blindly reaching for something, anything to hold on to. Harry's hand meets him halfway and their fingers weave around each other.

Comfort, hold, warmth, life, someone's here.

"It's your choice."

Draco snorts halfheartedly, looking down at the mess of black hair against his shoulder, small, so small and whispers, "You said there is no choice."

"For me," Harry answers, still staring out into the night, "You're not me."

Isn't he? Isn't he just as fucked and caught between two sides of all this? Aren't they both fighting their fathers' wars? Aren't all of them? Granger, Weasley, the Loony Two, Harry, Draco?

They were children when this started and most of them have never known what it means to live outside the ever-looming shadow of doom and death. And now, now they never will because Draco knows, even if it all ends today, it will never be over. They will alwaysalwaysalways carry everything they saw, did, felt, lived inside of them and it will never, ever be over.

Draco thinks and wonders and questions his own sanity, but in the end the answer is clear. So this is what it all boils down to, he muses and he says, "I'm with you."

Finally Harry looks up and with a hint of the smartass Gyffindor he once was he whispers, "I know."

And then he smiles one of the most beautiful smiles Draco has ever seen.

"Get what you need, we leave tonight."

"With the books you need, I assume."

Harry grins and then skips back over to the coffee table, picking up his half empty pack of cigarettes and lighting another one with a careless flick of his wrist. Draco smiles as he limps into his bedroom, thinking that right now, Harry looks almost young again.

He comes back ten minutes later, a shrunken bag in his pocket, to find Harry sitting in the middle of his living room, surrounded by heavy tombs, most of which are dark magic books, spelled for secrecy.

"How did you break through those wards without me noticing?"

Harry, with his back to him, doesn't answer, because he never does. Of course. He takes another ten minutes to look through the books, ignoring Draco all the time. It's like he forgets the world around him even exists and the blonde suddenly understands why the Boy-who- lived needs keepers.

He protects the world and they protect him from the world.

Oh, the irony, the bitter stale irony in it all.

Harry climbs to his feet, burnt down cigarette butt dangling from the corner of his mouth, long forgotten and shrinks about a dozen books before stashing them away in his pockets. Then he turns back to Draco, his smile returning and his eyes filling with false cheer and barely contained madness again and for the first time the Malfoy heir realized that what he just saw was Harry. The other one, the one who smokes and laughs and floats through a world of war like a spirit, that's the Boy-who-lived.

The order says Potter is insane. They have only ever scratched the surface of him.

Suddenly he stands beside Draco, a hand on his arm and with a crack they disappear and reappear in another living room. Immediately, moving too fast again Harry skips through a door at the far end of the room, like he doesn't have a care in the world.

Looking around Draco finds himself in the middle of two Weasleys, one Granger and one Lovegood. He snorts, "How the hell does he get through the wards?"

Weasel glares, the Loony Two giggle and Hermione shrugs, "Hogwarts will always allow her children to come and go as they please. It's the only reason Dumbledore still allows us in, because he can't keep us out."


"You're going to help us get what we need?"

His mind is made up and he remembers Harry's words all too clearly.

The only way out is down.

It's ending.

He nods.

"Good. There's five of us then."

"Five? What about...?"

Granger shakes her head, but it's the Weasel who explains, "He left. He probably found something of more interest than getting those books."

Draco frowns, "So what, he loses interest and that's it? You're on your own? What if he loses interest in fighting Voldemort one day?"

He looks at them and they avoid his eyes, glancing at the walls, shrugging, helpless.

"We try, Malfoy. We try."

Granger's words are barely above a whisper, but her eyes say something else entirely.

It's not enough, and she knows it.

They all do.


V. Dream of Silence

The books don't help.

They have rooms of them, stacked from floor to ceiling, along the walls and in heaps on the furniture and they all live off of Pepper- up potions and determination.

All, except Harry, who comes and goes like a ghost, haunting their sleepless nights and gray days, always laughing, always happy.

On the outside.

One time Draco finds him on the front steps of the house they're hiding out in, wet and shivering, drugged out of his mind and for once he's crying instead of smiling.

It gives Draco a strange sense of satisfaction, to know that something finally tore through those walls. That something out there still touches the Boy-who-lived in some way.

And then Hermione and Ron come rushing and they whisk him away, worry lines so deep in their young faces and Draco feels sick to his stomach, because suddenly he understands.

He understands the core of this war with a clarity that is blinding: They depend on Harry.

Insane, laughing, broken, fucked up and put back together all wrong, Harry is the only one who can end the blood and the grime and the death. It doesn't matter if he knows how to cope, how to take care of himself. It doesn't matter if he laughs or cries.

They need him.

And he sees it in Hermione's and the others' eyes as he steps into Harry's bedroom, that they aren't trying to keep their friend whole.

No, it's far too late for that.

What they are trying to do, desperately, is keep all those little pieces together long enough to end this all.

And after?

The answer is in the way Ron pats Harry's back, like a father pats his sick child.

There is no after.

They live now and there will never again be a tomorrow.

They leave, one two three four, until there's only Harry and Draco and the blonde sits down at the foot end of the bed, staring at the other man, who stares back, tired and dazed from all the potions they fed him with practiced ease.

"Do you hate them?" Draco asks suddenly, because he knows that Harry knows what it is they are all doing. It's bad to be insane. It's worse to be insane and as sharply intelligent as the Boy-who-lived is. He sees every single look thrown his way.


Immediately he shakes his head, "Never. We don't have a choice, remember?"

And Draco, tired of arguing the subject yet again nods tiredly and undresses. Then he climbs into the bed beside the small figure of their savior and kisses him slowly.

It's just like he imagined and a little worse, because sometimes Harry flinches suddenly and Draco wonders who hurt him. The list of possible names flowing through his mind is endless.

They kiss and they touch and they fuck and never say a single word, because this is not about love. They don't use that word anymore. It has been banned from this house a long time ago.

It's not about forgetting either, because not for one second can they forget and they are tired of pretending.

So what is this about? Draco muses afterwards, lying in bed, curled around another living breathing being. Never before was he this aware of the fragility of human nature. Is it about feeling? About comfort? About choices they never had? Did some god write down that this would happen when one turned down the other's hand, a lifetime ago? Or even before that? Before they were born, or their parents?

He waits and listens for an answer that never comes. And then Harry has a nightmare and there is no more time to think, because suddenly everyone is standing in the doorway, looking worried and afraid.

Draco sneers at the thought that there are six of them, and they all live through the same boy.

Six souls, one body.

Or is it one soul, six bodies?

They don't move as they watch the nightmare unfold, having seen it all before and knowing that there is nothing they can do. It's a feeling of helplessness like no other. Not a single glance is thrown in Draco's direction and there is no shame in being found naked in bed. And why should there be? It doesn't matter.

Nothing does, except Harry, who opens his eyes with a last silent scream and stares straight ahead, like a corpse. It's so easy to imagine him rotting already. All of them.

Finally they move again, Hermione and Ron slipping into the bed on Harry's side, Luna and Ginny on Draco's side and they all curl up around each other, holding on so tight.

They need him.

Ginny breathes down his neck, Luna stares sightlessly at the ceiling, Hermione makes whispered promises she can never keep and Ron and Harry hold onto each other in silence, their eyes never meeting, all the while clutching at the girl that was once all they knew.

They're sinking.

And Draco's right there in the middle, naked and defenseless and too tired to sleep. They do this, he suddenly realizes, because they don't want to think.

It makes him laugh.

It starts as a bitter sneer crossing his face and turns into heartless chuckles until he's laughing so hard it hurts and Luna swats his chest, because he's upsetting her where she lies. He laughs even harder and for a minute they listen to him. At least until Hermione lifts her head from one of the boy's chest and stares at him, a glimpse of the old thirst for knowledge in her eyes.

Draco's laughter slowly subsides and he pecks both girls cuddling up to him on the forehead, before pulling Harry close and kissing him like he wants to breathe him in.

"I finally get it."

"Get what?"

"Why you're always laughing."

"Do tell", Luna demands, in her airy voice, a dreamy smile on her face. She's the only one of them who never does drugs. She doesn't need them.

"Because", Draco says, "If you don't you go insane." He draws out the last word, like something new and tasty and there is something coloring his voice that's not quite humor. They all laugh. Every last one of them, loud and long, because this is insane.

They are insane. But suddenly it's all of them, six and not one. One soul in six bodies and not the other way round.

They lapse back into silence and it's like a blanket thrown over them, a little suffocating and dark and so warm. Six beings, one soul, all in the same house in the same room and the same bed, breathing the same air and having the same dreams of silence, even while they scream.

It's alright.

Six hours later they get up and some of them have breakfast and others don't and they walk back into the living room turned library and sit down, wordlessly as they always do.

The only change is that Harry sits with them today, at least for now and he stays close to Draco.

He might skip off in a moment, like he always does. Draco watches, waiting for the other man to move, to go from complete and utter stillness to action like he always does.

Suddenly Ginny jumps to her feet, "I found it" and the look on her face tells them all they need to know and Harry runs off to the kitchen and Draco gulps because if she really found a ways to end all this, then it will and he's scared of what's going to come after.

They all are.


VI. Never Grow Old

Draco fetches Harry himself, allowing the smaller man to wrap his legs around his waist and lean his head against his shoulder, sighing contentedly. He puts the Boy-who-lived down between his childhood friends, too weary and too tired to be jealous anymore.

Hermione tells Harry to hold still in a voice used for demented and insane people and Harry nods, before turning his head skywards, eyes unblinkingly fixed on the ceiling.

For a second there are tears in Granger's eyes but then she swallows, like they all do when it comes to Harry, and pulls his head down into her lap, running her hands through his hair. Draco isn't sure who she's trying to soothe and he's afraid to ask.

Ginny watches the display for a second before turning her eyes away.

"The reason we can't kill Voldemort is because he put a piece of his soul into something or someone else. That's what keeps him bound in this plane."

There's a long and tense silence as they all absorb what has been said. Voldemort split his soul. Draco suspected something like this, but he didn't want it to be real. Of course not, because that sets them back to zero.

They have nothing now.


Sure, they'll keep looking and researching, but what chance do they have? How do you find a soul?

Suddenly Harry is on his feet again and moving toward the only door that's not stacked closed with books. No-one looks up, too used to this, too scared, too shocked, too damn bloody helpless.

It's only out of the corner of his eye that Draco sees Harry's face before he disappears. It's pure coincidence that he sees that funny little smile. Crooked and filled with a lifetime worth of pain, but there's something else there.

Something that makes the blonde climb to his feet and follow the Boy- who-lived.

He finds the other man, just like he did so long ago, standing in front of a window, staring sightlessly out into the dull grey morning sunshine. It seems forever that either of them walked out in the sunlight. It's strange, knowing that they haven't even been here a month.

And yet, it's like they've always been here. Like they'll grow old inside these rooms, living day after day as they do now. Draco knows that they barely hold together, cracked at the seams and about to fall apart.

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

But he also knows that whatever may come after, it can only be worse than this. Here, they are at least all alive still, and they don't hurt too much.

Or: Harry doesn't hurt too much.

And that's all that matters these days, isn't it?

HarryHarryHarry.Ashes, ashes...

And that's why Draco is standing here right now, watching as Harry half turns, that strange smile still in place and he reaches out to the other man. And he takes the offered hand, knowing that something is wrong, so terribly wrong and feeling that he might never get the chance to take that hand again.

They'll never grow old.

One closes the distance to the other and they stand, back to chest, staring out into the world. This world they protect, yet it feels alien to them.

The sunshine, the sunshine... Draco barely remembers it. Harry might, since he spends so much time outside and away from them, but then they have no idea what he does when he's gone. For all they know, he might walk the sewers, an insomniac boy, lost and alone.

The Boy-who-lived leans his head against the other's shoulder and for once he looks completely sane. It's a little horrible to see him like this. They'll never grow old, because they already are old. So very far beyond their years.

"You know what the missing piece is, don't you?"

Harry smiles, "If this war would end today, what would you do?"

The blonde swallows. What would you do if you could go back in time? What would you do if you were God for a day? What would you do if you were immortal? What would you do if you still believed you ever had a choice?

What the fuck does it matter now?

"I'd go someplace warm. I'd lie in the sun and I'd relearn how it feels on my skin. I'd swim in the ocean. I'd snog you senseless. Then I'd shag you stupid. And then we'd fall asleep right there in the sand and get out asses sun burnt."

He chuckles at that, turning fully to kiss Draco and he feels almost soft for a second there.


Then he pulls away with a giggle and Draco feels like he always does when Harry pulls away, empty. He feels like the life got sucked out of him and nothing is worth living anymore. He sometimes thinks that what he feels right then might be the L-word, but then they all feel the same.

Every time their raven haired savior skips out of a room it's like someone switched off the light and filled the air with snow. They feel cold without him. On his better days Draco can almost see the humor in it.


Now he just wonders if Harry knows what he does to them, and if he knows, does he care? Is there enough left of the old Gryffindor to still care about others? Or has Tom Riddle successfully burned all that away? He looks at the other man, as if trying to find an answer and like a switch being flipped he sees the sanity drain away again.

It makes him feel like crying.

"Do you reckon it's possible to kill someone with a bombarda?"

Insane question form an insane hero, making his heart break just a little.

"Shouldn't you ask Granger that?"

He shrugs and twirls on the spot for a second, before coming to a halt, "So, do you think it's possible?"

Draco's eye narrow, "Why do you want to know?"

"Are we going to take anyone with us to that beach?"

He twirls again and Draco sighs and repeats, "Why do you want to know Harry?"

"Will the sun shine a lot there?"

Draco grasps his upper arms, forcing him to stop his dance and he shakes him hard. Never before has he ever used violence. He knows why when he looks into Harry's face and sees the tears there.

So fragile, so broken so stongharshweak and oh, how he hates Harry for it.

"Can you?" It's a whisper and Draco answers because what else is there? What, besides those big green eyes and the endless plains of wasteland behind them?

"Yes. If you aim for the right organs, it's possible. But you're not going to do anything stupid, are you?"

Harry smiles sadly and jerks away so suddenly that the blonde has no chance of holding him and starts waving his hands in patterns I front of his face, a gleam in his eyes that Draco has never before seen.

The moving hands look like a dance and slowly a deep rumble spreads throughout Draco's body and it grows and stretches until it engulfs the whole room and still it grows. It grows until the others come running and only when Hermione shrieks in pure terror does Draco smell the magic coming from Harry and his eyes widen.

Harry smiles an there might be a lone tear running down his face and suddenly they all realize that Harry knew all along how to kill Voldemort.

And then the wards crash around them, inviting the Death Eaters and their Puppet Master in.

We all fall down.


VII. So Much More

It takes the whole Wizarding World maybe a minute to realize that the magical shock they feel is their savior come out of hiding. Some of them stop whatever it was they were doing when the blast washes over them and they screw their eyes shut with hope and silent prayers.

Dumbledore puts down his quill, hands shaking, and he waits.

Neville and Dean look at each other for a moment and then go back to their work. They believe in Harry.

Snape watches a fifth year mess up his potion with glassy eyes, never blinking. He doesn't even yell.

Somewhere, hidden in the depths of his stronghold, the Dark Lord smiles.

It's begun.

They still stand where they stood when the wards fell, too shocked, too scared to move and they watch silently as the first black robed figures flood the room, tearing the house apart as they go.

Draco flinches and almost yells, "Hey, I wanted to grow old here, stop that", but he doesn't.

The Death Eaters have their wands drawn, but neither of the five almostchildrenstill moves, because Harry doesn't.

And it's all about Harry. Now, then, always. Has been from their first train ride up until this very moment. They, all five of them, live, breathe, eat, laugh for him. Through him.

Did they choose this? Draco looks around, ignoring the Death Eaters as he searches the faces of the others.

Did they?

The world goes cold as the Dark Lord enters the room and it spins just a little faster and there's nothing Draco can do now, except hold on for the ride.

Voldemort stops in front of Harry, who stands with his head cocked to one side, a little grin on his face. Draco once asked what would happen if Harry lost interest in fighting Voldemort. He realizes now how stupid that question was. Harry is interested in nothing. He does what he does because of whims and pleas, but never, never because he wants to.

He's the perfect weapon with no one left to wield him.

"Can you take me home, Tom?"

The Dark Lord growls for a moment, but then he sees his chance and his face contorts into a smile, "Would you like to come with me, Po... Harry?"

The Boy-who-lived looks like he considers the offer for a moment, and Draco wants to laugh out loud, because he knows, knows that Harry's mind is empty. A haunted ruin, nothing more now.


Ginny gasps and Luna scowls for a second, but Hermione just squeezes Ron's hand, never once doubting their hero. They can't. Not after all these years. Not when the alternative is too horrible to consider.

Draco just watches, very silent now as Harry's grin turns into a laugh and he twirls, just like he did minutes before, like a carefree child. Beautiful, beautiful broken doll.

He never had a choice.

And then he slows and stops and takes half a step forward and one back, half dancing still, and he whimpers, "But I want a kiss first."

The whole world stops.

The Death Eaters hold their breath in anticipation, waiting for their lord to explode, but he doesn't.

He smiles.

"You want a kiss?"

Harry nods eagerly.

"Well, come here then, Little One."

The Boy-who-lived steps smilingly into the arms of the man who killed his parents and slowly he lifts a hand to rest on the Dark Lord's chest. Above his heart. His other hand mirrors his actions and Draco's kness feel very weak suddenly.

Because he understands, even without seeing the small movement of the other man's lips, what this is about.

He put a piece of his soul into something or someone else.

Do you reckon it's possible to kill someone with a bombarda?

There is no warning and no time for goodbyes. Harry looks no one in the eye and he doesn't shed a tear. Too late now, too latelatelate.

He's going home.

And then they're both gone.

Two of the greatest wizards, two of the most tragic figures, the Boy- who-lived and the Man-who-betrayed, killed with a first year spell and there is nothing left of them.

Voldemort's missing piece was Harry and bombarda can kill someone and no, they never had a fucking choice.

And then the ceiling crumbles where the explosion blackened it and the Death Eater's start to fall, holding their forearms.

The Boy-Who-Won

Ginny's eyes are too wide and she cries and she kneels on the floor, shaking and whimpering. She never had time to grow up after all.


Luna holds on tight to her girlfriend, soothing her silently, but her eyes are through the window across the room and on the sky. She smiles, crookedly and brokenly, like she understands what no one else does and maybe it's the truth. But it's pointless now.

Boy-Who-Laughed and Boy-Who-Cried

Ron clutches Hermione's hand, eyes on the writhing Death Eaters. He is filled with hate, blind hate and now that Harry is gone, it's aimless and just as pointless as Luna's knowledge. He's a watchdog with nothing to watch now, Draco thinks.


Hermione's eyes are glassy and red, but she doesn't cry. She laughed when Harry burnt his floating feather in first year and she fought when he needed her in third year and she cried when he buried Sirius and she watched as he ran off, time and time again to come back bruised and broken. She has no tears left now.


Draco simply stands there, watching as the first Aurors burst into the room, taking in the damage, shouting orders, making prisoners, trampling on pieces.

He stands and watches Harry Potter's keepers and he finally knows the answer to the question that haunted him since that first night up on the Astronomy Tower.

He watches that tropical beach erupt in flames and burnburnburn sky high and he forgets how sunlight feels and the arch of Harry's hips and the edge of his jaw line. He breaks as he watches four people realize that their center just got torn out, messily, bloodily and so very painfully.


He watches himself grow old within these four walls in the space of seconds and he feel the tug of a hundred smiles and a thousand words that will now never be born.

Harry never had a choice.

Draco never had a choice.

None of them did.

Their destinies were written in stone before they were born and not once in their life have they done a single thing that has not led them to this single moment.

The moment when not one life, but all their lives, end.

They never had a choice.

And the house crumbles, tears fall, the beach burns, Draco's hands become fists and his finger nails draw blood.

Dripping, red, warm, salty, alive.

They never had a choice.

He can feel his wand, long forgotten, crack under the pressure of his hand.

They never had a choice.

Slowly, very slowly he unclenches his fist and the pieces of his wand fallfallfall and hit the ground soundlessly in the storm that's raging around him.

They never had a choice.

Someone is tugging on his sleeve, trying to pull him away.

They never had a choice.

Doesn't matter now.

Doesn't matter at all.


We were meant to live for so much more.


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