Christmas day dawned and rather than sitting at the kitchen table reading, Harry perched himself on a bench and watched the snow fall through the window. A white Christmas, how very Charles Dickens. Draco came up and stood beside Harry's knee. Both boys were sombre. Harry was thinking about Sirius and Draco was dreading the day without his mother. No words were needed, both content to just exist.
When Remus eventually made his way down, they had a very simple breakfast, very aware of the extravagant meal Molly was preparing. Harry and Draco were playing chess and reading, whittling away the time. Draco was curled into his favourite armchair and Harry was lying on the floor, legs on the lounge and a book propped up on his knees. He was so engrossed in his book that he didn't notice when Hermione and the Weasleys walked in, not until a very heavy weight was dropped unceremoniously onto his stomach.
"Ah fuck!" Harry yelled rolling over. He shot a glare up at the twins who were grinning down at him. "I hate you both."
"Merry Christmas to you too Harry." George said
"That wasn't very nice." Fred said
"After all of the effort we went into finding the perfect gift." George moaned in mock disdain.
"You'll want to open it here though," Fred said conspiratorially. "Mummy might die, she'd be ever so mortified."
Harry eyed the package that had fallen next to him with apprehension. He liked the twins quite a lot, but you'd have to be an idiot to trust them. "What is it?"
"It's just a book, nothing overly scary." Said George
"You're not Ron." Fred shrugged.
Harry glanced around the room. Hermione and Ginny were playing with Crookshanks by the fire and Ron was sitting on the lounge where his feet were moments earlier. The twins were still grinning down at him, standing next to his head. Tentatively Harry tore open the paper and when he saw the title he burst into uncontrollable laughter.
"What is it?" Hermione asked. "They wouldn't say."
"Charming Young Wizards." Fred looked like the cat who caught the mouse.
"A Young Man's Complete Guide to Homosexual Relationships and Sex." George explained.
Hermione and Ginny both giggled and Ron looked horrified. Draco sat up dead straight. "Potter! You're gay?"
"Oh Malfoy." George said with a sweet smile walking over to sit on one arm of Draco's chair.
"Our little blonde nemesis." Fred took the other arm.
"Our boy hero isn't gay."
"That's far too normal for the likes of him."
"Our dear Harry can't make up his mind." Fred explained
"Really I think he's just confused." George said seriously.
"Wankers." Harry muttered. "No Malfoy I'm not gay. I just don't see why everyone needs to label everything we do. Love's Love. Restricting yourself to one sex really limits your options."
"In other words." George said. "To Harry,"
"Any hole's a goal." Fred finished.
"Fred!" Hermione yelled, doing a rather good impersonation of Mrs Weasley.
"Very elegant Weasley." Draco rolled his eyes.
"Imagine the headlines though." George did not even try to hide his glee. "The Chosen One – Fence Sitting or Kidding Himself?"
"Harry Potter – Sexual Deviant." Fred added
"The Boy Who Lived to Ride Them All." Ron said.
"Oh Potter Witch Weekly would go mad!" Draco looked like it was his birthday as well as Christmas. "With the rumours already going around! They'll say Potter, Weasley and Granger – life long friends, love triangle or polygamy?"
"Fuck you all. Seriously." Harry said.
"Sorry Harry you have too much equipment for little old me to handle." Fred said with a grin. The boys laughed loudly.
Harry left the room mumbling about traitors. He made a point to stop by his room first before going downstairs.
Walking into the kitchen he found Mr and Mrs Weasley, Remus, Tonks, Bill and Fleur. They were all chatting around the table which looked like it would buckle under the sheer weight of presents.
"Harry dear." Mrs Weasley said with a warm smile, pulling him into a tight hug. "Merry Christmas. We held off on gifts until we got here, some things have to be done with family."
When everyone was together, the room became a multi coloured paper massacre. Harry got a box of Honeydukes Deluxe selection from Ron, a wand holster from Lupin, 2 books on defensive and offensive magic from Hermione, the hardest toffee Harry had ever touched from Hagrid, a pair of socks with Dobby's face on them from the elf and a brand new Weasley jumper hand made by Molly.
The best moment of the day was watching Malfoy, who wasn't expecting anything at all receive his very own sweater from Mrs Weasley. Green with a silver 'M' emblazoned. The twins promptly forced Draco into it and demanded he wear it all day, after all, he wanted to fit in. Draco shot Harry a look that plainly said, 'say anything and die'.
All in all it was a rather splendid day. Harry spent most of his time getting throttled by Ron at chess and talking to Tonks about the state the ministry was in. Even Malfoy had enjoyed himself, Bill had a made a point to try and make him feel included. The two ended up in a lively debate about the Goblin rebellion. Towards the afternoon Fleur had discovered Draco's ability to speak broken French and they had been chatting ever since.
By the time Mrs Weasley had finished with dinner, everyone was getting along surprisingly well. Even Ron had managed to keep his remarks to himself. Conversation was sporadic at best while everyone ate, all too focussed on roast beef and vegetables to bring themselves to say too much. When they were all full to bursting, the table cleared, and small conversations had begun to crop up Mr Weasley suggested the pudding. As Harry was grabbing bowls, they heard the front door open and slam close again, hurried footsteps made their way towards them.
Snape and Dumbledore both walked into the kitchen looking dishevelled and devastated. Harry's heart dropped to his foot. "Draco." Snape said, eyes wide.
Malfoy's face fell, and he stood up. "What's happened?" The room was deadly silent as Draco walked towards their professor.
Snape did something then that Harry never thought he'd be capable of doing, he hugged Draco and just kept saying 'I'm sorry' over and over.
Draco pulled himself free. "What's happened?" His voice was urgent looking between Snape and Dumbledore.
"Draco, I'm sorry." Dumbledore said with heartache. "But your mother, I'm sorry, she's,"
"No!" Draco shouted. "Don't say it! Don't you fucking dare say it!" Draco faced Snape. "Tell me it's not true."
"I can't." Snape stood tall staring Draco head on.
"She's not dead!" Draco screamed, not caring who was in the room. "She can't be!" When he started to shake, Harry put a hand on his shoulder. "Don't fucking touch me Potter!" With that he ran out of the room and up the stairs.
"I'll go." Snape said, following Draco out.
Dumbledore collapsed into the closest free chair. Everyone else watched on in silence, too stunned to make a sound.
Eventually it was Arthur who spoke first. "Molly you need to take everyone home. Bill and I will stay. Harry will as well." He added giving his wife a stern look. "You know you can't fight this."
Molly gave an indignant huff but reluctantly accepted. She ushered Hermione, Fleur and the rest of her children through the fire place home. Christmas pudding and presents lay forgotten.
"He won't let me in." Snape said from the doorway.
"No, I imagine he would rather be alone right now." Dumbledore sighed.
"What happened Albus?" Bill urged.
"Lucius." Snape spat. "The spineless scum of the earth, he killed her. Didn't even use his wand. He beat his wife, she was too weak to even try and defend herself."
"Fuck." Harry wanted to be sick.
"It appears that Lucius discovered Narcissa's role in Draco's escape earlier this morning." Dumbledore sighed. "In his fury he tortured her for information, it seems he had her for hours. But she refused to betray her son, so he murdered her. Severus arrived at the scene too late to help."
"He was laughing," Snape said with disgust. "Him and Bellatrix were laughing at her. She was dead, and they were laughing. By that point they saw her nothing more than a traitor, therefore she was less than human."
Harry stood and walked to the window, the same one he was at earlier in the morning. It all came back to Voldemort, another life was lost because Harry wasn't ready to take him down. Every drop of blood was on his hands until he could work out how he could do it.
The last week of break was very different to the first. There was no early morning reading sessions, no debates on spell casting and no lazy afternoons playing chess. Snape was turning up daily to try and get Draco to open his door. Finally Harry had to order Kreacher to take him food and ensure he was still alive in there. When He returned to school he still hadn't seen Draco since Christmas day.
They were back at school for two weeks and from what he could gather from Remus' letters and the worry etched into Dumbledore's face Malfoy was still locking himself away. This is something that Harry of all people could understand. When you lose someone so close to you, what is normally second nature in life, becomes impossibly difficult. You lose the will to sleep, to eat, to laugh.
The Prophet had announced Narcissa Malfoy's death in a morning edition. It had been reported that her body was found mangled and bloody in an empty field, Dark Mark floating overhead. He had overheard a Ravenclaw fifth year saying that she probably deserved it, many people agreed with him.
That was the last straw for Harry. He pushed himself away, breakfast forgotten, and marched out of the hall. Ignoring Hermione's calls of 'we have potions in 10 minutes!' and made his way through the castle. He didn't stop to talk to anyone or slow down at any point. When he got to the stone Gargoyle he said, 'Chocolate Frog' and marched up the stairs. Dumbledore was sitting at his desk going through his morning mail.
"Good morning Professor." Harry said with a nod. "May I use your Floo?"
There must have been a look in Harry's eyes that told the Headmaster that he really didn't have a choice. He simply smiled and said, "Of course."
He stepped through and called out 'Grimmauld Place'. Stepping out of the fire, he saw Tonks sitting with a rather forlorn Remus, the full moon was approaching.
"Wotcher Harry." Tonks said with a grin. "What brings you by?"
"Where is he?" Harry asked, in no mood to chat.
"In his room." Remus replied giving Tonks a confused look.
Harry nodded once and left the kitchen. He went up to the second floor and kicked open the third door to the left. Malfoy was sitting at the top of his bed, knees to his chest looking stunned. Harry had never seen a more broken shell of a man. Malfoy's eyes were red and had to look of someone who needed to sleep for days.
"Potter! What the hell? You almost broke me door! Get out!"
"No." Harry said calmly. He went over to Draco's dresser and picked up the wand and cloak which were sitting on top. "Get up."
"Malfoy, here's your options." Harry said putting the wand and cloak inside his pocket. "You either get up and come with me or I drag you away kicking and screaming."
"Fine." Harry grabbed Draco's arm and pulled him hard, knowing that there would be bruises there.
"Potter you brute!" Draco stumbled out of the door with Harry. "I can walk you know!"
"I gave you a choice." Harry said continuing to pull Draco down the stairs. "You chose the hard way." They made their way through the kitchen, past Tonks and Lupin who were looking rather amused and walked to the Floo. Harry shouted, 'Dumbledore's office' and they were off.
"Draco, how wonderful to see you." Dumbledore said with a smile. "It appears that Mr Potter was rather keen to see you."
"This is kidnapping." Draco spat.
"Put it on." Harry handed over his dad's cloak.
"Why?" Malfoy demanded with as much venom as he could muster.
"Because you can't exactly go walking around the castle without it can you?" Harry said still holding the cloak.
Malfoy scowled at him but put it on. "What's to stop me walking right back out now that you can't see me?"
Harry shrugged. "I have your wand. Professor, I think I'm feeling a touch under the weather today."
Dumbledore chuckled slightly. "I will let your teachers know."
Harry smiled and made his way out, he made sure he could still hear Draco's footsteps as they made their way to the seventh-floor corridor. Pacing back and forward three times, he opened the door that appeared. Inside was a couple of couches, book shelves lined with books and vases and a few of the mannequins that he had used as practice dummy's the year before.
"Where are we?" Malfoy asked, taking off the cloak.
"It doesn't matter." Harry pointed at one of the couches and sat on the other. "Sit."
Malfoy glowered at him but begrudgingly sat down. "Are you going to explain your rather unpleasant removal of me? Or were you just desperate for my company?"
Harry leaned forwards, putting his elbow on his knees. "I get that you're upset about your mum." Malfoy looked away and crossed his arms. "You're allowed to be upset, no one is judging you or blaming you for that."
"Then let me be upset." Malfoy still wasn't looking at Harry. "I just want to be alone."
"Not until we're done." Harry inched forward in his seat. "Tell me something, whose fault is it?"
"Excuse me?" That brought Draco's attention back to Harry.
"Whose fault is it that your mother was murdered and left forgotten in a field?" Harry was very calm.
Malfoy stood angrily. "How dare you?"
Harry did not move. "Whose?"
Draco turned away, he was shaking visibly. Eventually he hung his head and whispered, "It was mine. If I had just stayed and took the mark she would still be alive."
"No." Harry said firmly. "Whose fault is it really? Focus Malfoy, whose fault was it?"
"I told you it was mine!" Draco yelled.
"Draco." Harry was still calm, his voice even. "Were you the one who beat her? Who was she trying to save you from? Who killed her?"
Draco's eyes were wide and brimming with unshed tears. "Lucius?"
"Yes." Harry stood and walked towards him. "She had to get you away before he could do the same to you." Harry held out Draco's wand. "How does that make you feel?"
Draco slowly took his wand and stared at it, he turned away from Harry tense. Just when Harry started to think that his plan wasn't going to work, Draco let out a violent scream and sent a hex at one of the bookshelves. Paper exploded around the room, Malfoy was manic now, he sent curse after curse, forcing Harry to cast a shield around them. Eventually not a single item was left whole. Growling, he grabbed Harry's throat and rammed him into a wall. Staring at Harry with nothing but hate, he squeezed.
Harry tried not to move, tried to remain calm. Draco released the pressure but still held firm. Harry could understand this too, the need to release the rage was overpowering, all consuming. Eventually just when Harry thought they may die there, Draco let go and collapsed to the floor. Grabbing his hair, he started to cry. Harry dropped down behind him and pulled him close.
"He killed her." Draco said between sobs. "He killed her and left her like she was nothing."
"I know." Harry had no idea how long they sat there but eventually Draco pulled away and sat on one of the now repaired sofas.
"What do I do now?" Draco's voice was barely audible, and his eyes were pleading for answers.
"That's for you to figure out." Harry said, standing up. "You can either keep going the way you were, continue wallowing and do nothing. Or, you can learn how to fight. Here's your choice, you cower like the coward I thought I knew or you pick a side and you fight for what's right like the brave person I know you can be."
When Draco looked up, his jaw was set, and the tears were gone. He saw Harry standing in front of him hand outstretched. They had come full circle. Draco sat staring at the hand for a long time, something inside Harry told him not to lower it no matter how much his shoulder protested. Draco took a deep breath and shook Harry's hand. Speaking as clearly as possible he said, "You have my wand on the condition I'm the one that takes down Lucius."
Harry gave him a half smile. "I wouldn't have it any other way."
Draco held on tighter when Harry went to pull away. "Harry. You have my wand. Not the Order."
Harry was confused. "What's the difference?"
"If I join the Order I have to make promises I know I can't keep." Draco said with a fire in his eyes. "They don't kill unless it is absolutely necessary. I know you won't make me do the same. When the time comes, you won't stand in my way."
"You realise," Harry said carefully. "That if you mean what you say, when push comes to shove you'll have to come with me don't you? By not joining the Order, by refusing their protection once you've finished school, there won't be anywhere else for you."
"I understand." Draco said.
"Think about it." Harry finally dropped his hand. "We still have this year and next to get through, you have time. When I do go after him, it won't be pleasant. When and if you agree to fight beside me you need to be without a shadow of doubt about where you stand. I can't have you hesitating. Please just think about it."
Draco looked like he would argue, instead he gave a brief, stiff nod. Harry knew to never believe what someone in grief said, they didn't think properly.
"Stay here." Harry said moving to the door. "I'm going to go get Remus. You may as well start on that practical work."
"Thank you." Harry heard Draco say just before he closed the door. Despite what he said, Harry did hope that he had found a new ally.
Three weeks later, Hedwig flew down as he was eating breakfast. The note was short, but it brought him a genuine smile.