All Things Must Pass
by Sciuridae

"Come morning, without warning
The absence of love's embrace
Like winter's light, it creeps on in
And the moon's tears fade"
From "Fade" by Calexico

Ron strolled through the graveyard, his steps light against the grass. The afternoon was grey, and the sky looked like it was on the verge of breaking into rain. Ron's steps slowed even more until hestopped, reaching his destination.

The stone was rather light, and the letters on it were silver. A lily with white, almost transparent petals grew beside the stone, looking fragile to the touch. Still it survived the winters; it always grew back when the spring came. That lily was so much like the person buried beneath it. Even when he seemed lost, he would grow back again. He could seem ready to break any second, to vanish into himself and disappear. He never did. A new spring would come, and he would get new life. And when at last he reached that final winter, it wasn't his own darkness that killed him. It was someone else's.

Ron kneeled and let his finger trace the letters and numbers carved into the stone. They said three simple things. A name and two dates: Date of birth and date of death. They held no poetic sayings or promises of remembrance, but to Ron the simple spelling of that name held more memories that any wise saying could. He let his fingertip trace the letters once again and his thoughts went back.

Ron once hated the sound of those letters. If he spoke them, a curse or at least a cruel remark followed. Still it was a name that followed his growth, and the person who carried it was always a part of his life. It was a part of his life that he dreaded and tried to seek away from. It was a task that seemed impossible. Whatever trouble he got into, the bearer of that name would be present. Whatever happiness Ron received he would be able to interfere. He always seemed unaffected and emotionless.

"Draco Malfoy." Ron whispered the words. The two words the world had thought Draco loved over all. The two words Ron had believed was the thing Draco was most proud of, when in the end it turned out that Draco had despised them. He was driven to the depth of his own soul's darkness because of them; his greatest wish was to be able to be without them, even for a second.

But nobody knew that. Ron would never have known it either if he hadn't been allowed permission.

Draco was the master of disguise. He could feel extreme pain or loneliness and even small fractions of happiness, but even in the middle of intense emotions, if you stared at him, you would be unable to solve the riddle that was Draco.

It wasn't until Ron had got to know Draco that he began to realise some of the secrets the boy was hiding. It was strange that they got to know each other in the first place. It all happened when they had been in one of their fights. This time Dumbledore himself had caught them. He hadn't given them detention or taken any points from either of their houses.

Instead he placed them in an empty classroom with a couple of instructions: "There is only two ways you will get out of here. The first is to talk about your hostility towards each other and find another way to express it than through fighting. The other is to finally kill each other so I'll be forced to open the door when the smell gets too bad."

The later was said with lots of humour and a great deal of sarcasm.

They had chosen the first option. When they were let out of the room a couple of hours later they hadn't become friends, but they shared a mutual understanding, and didn't fight again.

Fate played another trick on them. It happened in their last year at Hogwarts. The wizarding world was in the beginning of the great and final war against "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named". The ministry decided that Harry should be taken out of school, and instead he was going to work as a part of the ministry. It was a rash decision, and many criticised it, but what was done was done. Later it would show that the decision wasn't unwise. Either way it left Ron alone without friends.

Hermione was busy with schoolwork, had little time for friendship, and many other students had been taken out of school.

Ron had felt alone before, but it was special this time. The war was close and he had no one to share his fears with. Until he remembered a talk in a locked room a couple of years ago. Draco was one of few Slytherins who remained at school. Ron had heard discussions about why; everyone had expected Draco to be the first called home to join the dark forces. However, he still remained at school, and in his utter loneliness Ron searched his company. He quickly discovered that he wasn't the only lonely boy at school.

Draco had welcomed him. It came rather unexpected to Ron, but he didn't question it; he just started the new friendship eagerly.

It was the perfect match. The invisible sidekick that nobody noticed and the boy who was very visible, but also very much hated.

They did little but talk for the next few weeks. Then again, to say they talked would be an understatement. Ron talked and Draco listened. He wore the same expression all the time. An empty, but still a little sympathetic mask.

It wasn't until Ron started to ask questions weeks later that some of the well-worn mask slipped. At first he refused to answer them. Then he tried to laugh them away. At last he cracked. And Ron got to know the whole story of Draco's life in a couple of hours. It seemed as though he had built a barrage to hold his emotions in and that Ron had caused a flood to break it.

Ron got to know why he still stayed at school, why he hadn't been home in any vacations since he was in fifth year, why he hated his name, and why he thought of Dumbledore as his nearest family. Later he told Ron why he never cried and why he had a long white scar on his left wrist.

It was as though the flood came out through him. Ron held him and whispered meaningless words until it seemed as though the weather stilled and all that was left was a kind of quiet understanding.

That night was the first time they slept in the same bed. Ron held an exhausted Draco in his arms all night. Ron himself didn't sleep a minute. He simply lied awake and listened to Draco's now steady heartbeats.

But the times were not easy for anybody. Neither for Ron or Draco. Though they were safely hidden inside the thick walls of Hogwarts, it is often the demons in one's own heart that can torment one the most. Sometimes they were happy. It was the times when they just "were" in the company of each other. They cuddled, they talked, and they played. Once, Ron got Draco to laugh so much his stomach hurt. It was something Draco never had experienced before. But sometimes the demons that laid in them both became rampant. They fought, screamed, and cried until they both were worn out.

Sometimes Ron felt like Draco was the answer to all of his questions. Other times he felt he was the cause of all his pain.

It seemed as the advantages were greater than the drawbacks and that the bad days were fewer than the good. And then one day things changed. It was Draco that started it. They had talked about love and loved ones, and that was when Draco said the words that Ron always held close to his heart. He said them quietly, and they were almost impossible to hear, but they were there. "I think I've only loved when I've been with you."

Ron didn't comment on it until he got some time to think for himself. Then he quietly walked through the halls until he reached the now well known red door.

"Red for love," he thought to himself before he went in. Then he walked to Draco's bed and carefully lied himself beside the petit figure. Draco said nothing, but Ron sensed that he was awake so he put his mouth next to Draco's ear and whispered, "I hope you know that I love you too."

When he heard the answer, which was so softly spoken that it was almost like an ordinary breath, he smiled a small smile, and then drifted off to sleep.

They still fought. Draco still made Ron cry sometimes or he made him furiously angry. Still, the love was always beneath, though the words were never again spoken between them. There were stormy star- sprinkled nights of passion and early Sunday mornings in shared tranquillity.

All things have to end eventually, even if they are good, and their time as lovers ended brutally. It was a normal Friday. Ron and Draco were on their way between classes. They laughed at some dumb joke that Ron made, Ron loudly and Draco more silent, but the laughter suddenly stopped when they saw who awaited them in the end of the hallway. Three Death Eaters in black robes, their faces covered by the hoods of the robes. They almost looked like dementors, and for one swift second Ron actually thought that it was three dementors that stood before them.

The war had made the funerals many. Draco was no war hero, but since he was a victim of war, and somewhat important, he got a funeral attended by the minister of magic. But he was a busy man, and because of this the funeral went fast. The priest's speech was short, and the Minister of Magic's was even shorter. Ron felt only numbness.

It wasn't until he visited the grave a week later he realised that Draco was lost forever. All that was left of blonde hair, grey eyes, quick smiles, tender touches, and shared Sunday mornings was a gravestone and a fragile lily.

Ron suddenly remembered something Draco once said. Ron had asked him why he never cried. Draco had turned to him and said, "It has two reasons. The first is that I haven't cried for such a long time, so now I wouldn't know how to do it. The other is that I believe that if you are in pain, and think you deserve it, it hurts more if you keep the tears inside."

Ron had thought that the answer somehow made sense. He nodded a little.

Suddenly Draco's expression had changed."I forgot something," he said. "The last one goes for mourning too."

"What do you mean?" Ron asked.

Draco smiled a strange smile and replied, "I mean that if you mourn someone or something you really miss, you shouldn't cry. It makes the sorrow greater."

It was the opposite of all Ron was ever taught about mourning. He had learned that sorrow should be shared and that crying would help you. That crying didn't make the loss any less. But when Draco said that to him it made some strange kind of sense and Ron had replied, "If I ever have to mourn you I promise not to cry."

Back in present time Ron felt a warm tear trace down his cheek. It wasn't the first time he had failed to keep that promise.


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