Chapter Note: I did a lot of research for this chapter, so all places and pop culture references (movies, games, concerts, musicals, etc.) are true to the time of the story (June-August 1998).
The next few days, after working at Hogwarts each day, Harry worked on fixing up the Potions lab at Grimmauld Place. Draco and Hermione helped, going through all the jars of potions ingredients and getting rid of everything that wasn't viable. Most of the ingredients and ready-made potions ended up being thrown out, and Hermione made a list of what needed to be restocked. On Wednesday, list in hand, Harry went to The Apothecary and placed a huge order, setting up an account for himself in the process, and Kreacher picked everything up the next day while Harry was at Hogwarts. On Thursday, the Potions lab was officially up and running. During the week, Harry also worked on a big secret project that was to be a surprise for Draco's birthday (but also a gift to everyone in the house).
On Friday, Harry finished up at Hogwarts early so he could go buy tickets at the cinema for later that night and get the last bit of shopping done for his secret project. Afterwards, he went home and had a shower, then got ready for the evening. At half five he Apparated to Andromeda's. He had made a six o'clock reservation for Draco's birthday dinner at a posh, but cosy restaurant a few villages over from Andromeda's house. Andromeda had arranged for a car; and after Harry arrived, they set off.
The dinner was nice, though Harry couldn't help but be glad when it was over. Narcissa's constant watchfulness made him uncomfortable.
"She doesn't approve of me," he said to Draco afterwards, when they got to Grimmauld Place.
"It's not that," said Draco, grimacing. "She worries about me. She thinks I should be spending my time preparing for my N.E.W.T.s ... which is annoying, because she knows I've studied all year and I'm ready to take them. Not that it matters," he said quietly, looking dejected. "No matter how well I do on my N.E.W.T.s , it won't get me anywhere. My being a Death Eater ruined any opportunities I might have had. And she knows that - that's the real reason why she's so worried."
"You were pardoned," said Harry. "It might take a little time, but people will come to see that you weren't a real Death Eater." He took Draco's hand. "You'll show them," he said.
Draco shrugged, looking unconvinced.
"Come on," said Harry, "we better get downstairs. We have to be going soon." They went down to the drawing room, and a moment later, Ron and Hermione came out of Hermione's bedroom and joined them.
"Happy Birthday, Draco!" said Hermione.
"Happy Birthday, Malfoy," said Ron.
They both had presents, which seemed to really surprise Draco.
"Thank you," he said softly, looking pleased and a little shy.
"We'll have to do the presents after the movie," said Harry, after looking at his watch. "It's starting in fifteen minutes, so we should leave now."
They Apparated to the alley behind the cinema and quickly made their way to the lobby.
"I brought drinks," whispered Hermione once they got inside.
Harry grinned. "Excellent."
They headed to the auditorium and found their seats, sitting in the same order they had done for the previous film: Draco on one end, Harry next to him, Hermione next to Harry, and Ron next to Hermione on the other end. Harry cast a Notice-Me-Not Spell, then Hermione opened her bag and pulled out the small, half-full bottle of chocolate liqueur from the last time and four shot glasses, distributing them, then pouring out the shots.
"To Draco's birthday!" she toasted cheerily, and Harry and Ron echoed her words, raising their glasses to Draco, who ducked his head a little, blushing, then all four of them drank. They did a second shot, finishing the bottle, then Hermione gathered the shot glasses and returned them to her bag. The lights went down and when the trailers began, Hermione reached into her bag again and took out four bottles of cider then passed them out.
Finally the movie started. It was called Sliding Doors, and Harry liked it immediately. It was an interesting idea: what would happen if a split second difference in circumstance changed everything? It made Harry think about his own life - how might things have gone if he'd sat with someone else on that first train to Hogwarts ... or if he'd let the Hat put him in Slytherin?
When the movie was over, they waited for the auditorium to empty and discussed the film. Everyone had liked it, even though one of the endings had been quite sad.
After they left the cinema, they returned to Grimmauld Place so Draco could open his presents. Harry had arranged for Kreacher to have a cake ready; when they arrived in the drawing room, Kreacher brought the cake up and a chorus of Happy Birthday was sung, then Draco blew out the candles.
"Come on then, open your presents," said Harry, a bit impatiently, after Kreacher had served everyone and they'd all had a few bites. He couldn't wait to give Draco his present.
Draco opened Hermione's first: a set of science books. She and Draco had talked quite a bit about their favourite subjects in school while working on the Potions lab, and Hermione had learned that Draco was interested in Alchemy, which had led to a discussion about Muggle Chemistry and other Muggle Sciences - so Hermione got him a basic Chemistry book, complete with workbook exercises and experiments, and a book about Biology. Flipping through the two books, Draco looked thrilled. "These are great!" he said. "It's really opening my eyes - that there are so many branches of study that wizards don't know about, yet are relevant to us too. I'm going to enjoy learning about them."
Hermione smiled, happy that he seemed so excited. "I've been doing my own independent study of all the subjects Muggles learn about in school, parallel to my Hogwarts education, and I can say without a doubt, most subjects are extremely relevant to wizards - they're just not taught. The wizarding education is quite limited in its scope, honestly."
"Yes, I'm starting to see that," said Draco. "It makes me angry, to know we've been denied knowledge just because it comes from Muggles. I've been to the theatre in Paris and saw Muggle plays and operas and concerts with my grandmother, and it was wonderful. Yet, my grandfather sneered at it all, as if it was beneath us. And my father was the same. But the truth is, we're lucky, because we, as wizards and witches, have two worlds open to us - the magical world and the Muggle world - while the Muggles only have one. But magic aside, the Muggles seem to have more knowledge in general than wizards, and more innovation. And from what I'm seeing they are constantly growing and advancing, while the wizarding world stays stuck in the past."
Ron stared at Draco. "Blimey, Malfoy, you really have changed," he said. "It's really cool to see. And I get what you're saying. My dad is fascinated by Muggle things but even we've never really learned much about the Muggle world. We've never gone to Muggle museums or done Muggle tours or anything like that. We never went to the cinema or to any Muggle shops or restaurants."
Draco opened Ron's gift next. It was a box of assorted Muggle sweets: Mars bars, Chomps, Maltesers, Crunchies, Skittles, Starburst Fruity Chews, Licorice Allsorts, and Snickers, Twix, and Curly Wurly bars. "I've never had any of these," said Draco, looking quite pleased with his box of treats. "Thanks, Weasley, this is great. I can't wait to try them all."
Finally, it was Harry's turn. He grinned. "Okay, my present is upstairs," he said. "Everyone, follow me." He led the way upstairs to the third floor and stopped in front of the door to what used to be the master bedroom. "I've been working on this in secret all week," he said. Then he opened the door and gestured for them all to go in.
The reaction - exclamations of surprise and wonder - was exactly what Harry had been hoping for. Thanks to the help and advice from Seamus, Dean Thomas, Professor McGonagall, Kreacher, a few shops in Diagon Alley, and a few Muggle shops, Harry had been able to convert the old master bedroom into a lounge and entertainment room, complete with comfortable sofas and squashy chairs, a huge rear-projection telly with a VCR (and a new thing called a DVD player), a Playstation gaming system, and a stereo system. In one corner was a round table with four chairs (to play chess and board games), and in another corner he'd set up a desk with a computer.
"Blimey!" said Ron, wide-eyed.
Draco, looking around and trying to take it all in, was wide-eyed as well.
"Wow, Harry! This is amazing!" said Hermione. "But how are you able to get all the electronics to work in a magical house?" she asked.
"Seamus and Dean are Half-bloods so they helped me figure it out and McGonagall gave me some advice. There's a shop in Diagon Alley that sells a gadget that converts magic to electricity, so I got a few of them and plugged the electronics into them," said Harry. He led Hermione over to the telly setup and pointed out the gadget that the television, VCR, DVD player, and Playstation console was plugged into.
"I had no idea anything like this existed!" said Hermione, looking fascinated as she examined the converter gadget more closely.
Harry turned to Draco and Ron. "This is a telly," he told them. "You can watch films on it and television programmes." He picked up the remote control and turned on the telly to demonstrate, and both Draco's and Ron's eyes lit up with astonished delight at the sight of the screen coming to life. They'd seen televisions in the movies they'd watched at the cinema but seeing one in person was different. "I bought a couple of movies for us to watch but there's also this thing called Blockbuster, where you go and rent videos to watch at home and then return them when you're done - it's brilliant."
He turned on the Playstation console. "It will be great to watch films here but I think you're really going to love this too," he said as the game he'd inserted in preparation earlier turned on and loaded. It was the sequel to a game Dudley had owned (which Harry had played a few times when the Dursleys were out of the house his last summer there), called Crash Bandicoot. The new game was called Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and Harry was excited to play it and to watch his friends enjoy it. "This is called a video game," he said to them, picking up the controller and starting a new game, then demonstrating the gameplay.
"Merlin!" exclaimed Draco, looking gobsmacked.
"Wicked!" cried Ron.
Hermione shared a smile with Harry. "This is really great," she said.
Harry grinned back at her then handed the game controller to Ron so he could give it a try. "This is for all of us to enjoy," he said. "Draco, I'll give you your presents in a minute, but I still have stuff to show you." He turned on the stereo and inserted a cd in the cd player. "This is a stereo," he said. "You play music on it." Harry found the song he wanted to play - Wonderwall by Oasis - and pushed play, and the music started.
"Wow," said Draco, listening to the track. "I like this song."
"Yeah, it's cool!" said Ron distractedly, now sitting on one of the sofas as he continued trying out the game.
Next, Harry showed Draco the computer, and the internet, blowing Draco's mind. "My god!" cried Draco. "It's beyond magic. How in Merlin's name does this all work?" He looked stunned. "It's incredible!"
"Wait, I want to see," said Ron. "Hermione, come here and play this so I can look at the computer." Hermione went and took the controller from Ron, then Ron came over and joined Harry and Draco. "Whoa," he said, watching Draco browse the Yahoo page Harry had opened a few minutes before.
"Weasley, look at what Muggles have created," Draco breathed. "Look what they can do, without magic!"
"It's mental!" said Ron.
Harry grinned, happy that Draco and Ron were so bowled over. "Are you ready for your presents, Draco?" he asked after watching them check out the internet for a few minutes more.
Draco turned to look at Harry and smiled. "Yes," he said.
Harry went to the cabinet where he'd put Draco's stack of presents; he took them out and went over to the other sofa and sat down, patting the seat next to him. Draco sat down next to him, and Ron joined them, sitting on the other sofa next to Hermione (who, to Harry's amusement, was still playing the game and didn't look like she wanted to stop any time soon). "Okay, open this one first," said Harry, handing him the present on top.
Draco carefully opened the present. Inside was a Game Boy, together with a pack of batteries, and the game Castlevania Legends.
"It's a portable hand-held game console," said Harry. "The graphics aren't as good as what you get on the Playstation but I thought you'd like it, to play at home."
"Wow!" said Draco. "This is amazing!"
"Open these now," said Harry, grinning, handing him the other gifts.
Draco opened them in the order he received them: first, tickets to see The Phantom of the Opera the following night at the Queen's Theatre in the West End (Harry had got four tickets, so Hermione and Ron could join them, which they were quite excited about); second, a portable cd player with headphones (plus batteries); and third, a bunch of cds by Oasis, Pulp, and Radiohead. After Draco took the cd player out of its box, Harry opened the batteries and showed Draco how to insert them, then Draco opened one of the cds (Radiohead's OK Computer) and Harry showed him how to insert it into the cd player. Putting the headphones on, Draco pushed play and took a few minutes to listen. "This is fantastic!" he said. "Here, Weasley, listen to this," he said, handing the cd player and headphones to Ron.
Ron put the headphones on and started listening. "Whoa, this is wicked!" said Ron after a couple of minutes.
Draco turned to Harry. "Thank you so much - it's all amazing. I love all my presents. This is the best birthday I've ever had."
Harry beamed, thrilled that he was able to make it happen. He got up and went to the entertainment wall unit, making sure to keep out of Hermione's line of sight, and opened the bottom drawer, pulling out the Playstation games he'd bought. "These are the other games we can play later," he said, handing half to Draco and the other half to Ron. He'd bought the original Crash Bandicoot and a similar type game called Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, some sport-themed games that Seamus and Dean had recommended (Cool Boarders 2 - a snowboarding game; NHL 98 - a hockey game; and FIFA: Road to the World Cup 98 - a football game), plus a game called Riven that he thought Hermione would like.
Draco and Ron checked out the games Harry handed them, then traded.
"Mate, this is brilliant!" said Ron enthusiastically.
"Seriously, Potter, it really is," said Draco. "These all look great."
"Hermione, let Draco have a turn," said Ron. (It was the first time he'd called him Draco rather than Malfoy, and Draco noticed, smiling.)
"Just let me finish this run," said Hermione, frowning in concentration.
Harry chuckled. He hadn't expected her to like it so much, but he was glad she did.
Once Hermione finished the run, she handed the controller to Draco, then quickly explained how to play.
They watched Draco play for a few minutes. Then Harry turned to Hermione, and asked, "Do you have a Blockbuster card?"
"Not personally," said Hermione. "My parents have a membership though."
"We'll have to figure out a way to get a card," said Harry. "I went in and tried to get one but you have to have a Muggle address for one thing, and a credit card, and you have to be at least eighteen."
"I think I should be able to get one, using my parents' address. We can try tomorrow, before we go to the theatre," said Hermione. She looked over at the computer and then around the room. "This is really impressive, Harry," she said. "To make a lounge like this, and get all the electronics to work, and find such cosy furniture - it reminds me of the Gryffindor Common Room a bit." Her eyes went to the wall behind the sofa. "And you made it look so nice; that painting makes the whole room look very put-together. You did a great job!"
Harry tried not to flush at the mention of the painting. When he was out shopping for furniture for the room, he'd bought a magical landscape painting on a whim, for Tom to have another place to spend time in, and he decided to put the painting in the lounge across from the telly so Tom could watch movies too if he wanted. Harry hadn't seen Tom since Saturday, and while he was kind of trying to avoid him, to try to get past his feelings for him, he wanted Tom to be as happy as he could possibly be in the circumstances. In addition to the painting, Harry had also bought some audiobook cds for Tom to listen to during the day when Harry, Hermione, and Ron would be out of the house working at Hogwarts (he'd bought a mix of Muggle literary classics that a clerk had recommended and some contemporary fiction and history books he thought Tom might enjoy).
After Draco played a couple of runs of Crash Bandicoot, Harry brought out the second controller and put in the NHL game (Seamus and Dean had said it was a little closer to Quidditch than the FIFA game, due to the pace and flow of the gameplay... plus there was fighting in the NHL game, which Harry thought would be fun). Then he gave the second controller to Ron so he could play with Draco. While they started the game's tutorial, Hermione asked if she could have a go on the computer.
"Of course," said Harry. "You don't have to ask, you can use it whenever you want. It's for all of us. Everything in here is for all of us to enjoy."
He sat back happily and watched Draco and Ron play the game, delighted that his surprise was such a success. Draco's birthday had gone exactly as he'd hoped.
Later, after he'd taken Draco home and Hermione and Ron went to bed, Harry went into the bedroom where Tom's painting was. Tom wasn't there, or at least he wasn't visible; after casting his usual privacy spells, Harry called out, "Tom?"
A few moments later, Tom appeared. He didn't speak; he just looked at Harry, silent, waiting for Harry to say something.
"I bought you a new painting," said Harry. "I put it in the lounge. I thought maybe I could turn the telly on for you during the day while we're at Hogwarts. There's a channel called the History Channel that you might like. I also bought you some audiobooks to listen to - they're books read aloud and recorded onto cds which are played on a stereo or cd player. I got you some classic literature and other stuff. If you tell me what you'd like I can get it for you."
Tom stared at him, still not speaking. "Thank you," he finally said, curtly.
Harry hated that things were so strained between them. It felt terrible, after how close they'd been, for them to be so far apart like this. "Please don't be mad at me," he blurted out.
"Why would I be mad at you?" said Tom coolly, crossing his arms over his chest.
Harry sighed. Tom was so closed off; there would be no productive conversation forthcoming, Harry could tell, at least not this evening. "I don't know what you want me to say," said Harry quietly.
Tom didn't reply. He just looked at Harry, arms crossed, his expression cold.
Harry stared back at him unhappily, wishing things were different. When Tom continued to not say anything, Harry gave up and turned to go. "Okay then. I hope you like the painting," he said softly. He went to the door, then looked back at the painting, but Tom was already gone.
The next few weeks seemed to pass in a flash. On the weekdays Harry, Hermione, and Ron worked at Hogwarts during the day, then afterwards Harry would pick up Draco and they'd have dinner at Grimmauld Place with Ron and Hermione, then they'd all go to Blockbuster and pick out a movie (alternating each night who got to pick the movie). Harry, Draco, and Ron tended to pick action or adventure movies: Jurassic Park (and the new sequel, The Lost World), Batman and Batman Returns, the Indiana Jones movies, Mission Impossible, Twister, Speed, Donnie Brasco, Apollo 13, Independence Day, Men In Black, and Top Gun. Hermione picked more girly movies (though the boys didn't mind and actually liked them too): Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Far and Away, Strictly Ballroom, A Room With a View, and Dead Poets Society. Sometimes Myrtle would come out of hiding and watch the movies with them, then promptly disappear afterwards. Harry hadn't seen Tom since the night of Draco's birthday, but he suspected Tom had been watching many of the movies with them under a Disillusionment Charm. Draco and Ron were constantly amazed by the things they saw in films - in awe of all the Muggle inventions they were seeing - and Harry wondered if Tom was too. Besides watching a movie each night, Harry, Draco, Ron, and Hermione would also play video games and listen to music on the stereo, and take turns on the computer. Sometimes Draco and Ron played chess, while Harry and Hermione played backgammon, and sometimes the four of them would play board games like Cluedo, Monopoly, Game of Life, and Scrabble. On weekends, they did museum tours and went on other sightseeing adventures during the day, then they'd have dinner and watch a movie, then go to the pub. Outside of Harry's daily visits to Voldemort's portrait, it was a wonderful and happy time.
The last weekend of June, they went to the Glastonbury festival, which was an amazing experience. Hermione stayed for certain bands then Apparated back to Grimmauld Place when it got a bit much, but the boys, wanting to experience it fully, stayed mostly for the whole thing, only Apparating back each day for a shower (and for Harry to sneak upstairs and pay Voldemort's portrait his required visit).
On the first of July, the summer session began at Hogwarts, but not for Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Hermione had convinced Ron and Harry to do the full year starting in September, rather than the summer session, since they'd been out of school so long and had a whole year to catch up on.
That first weekend in July, Draco went to Montreal with Narcissa, and Harry went to the Weasleys' for Sunday dinner. George, for the first time since Fred died, joined them. After grieving by himself for two months, he came out of his room with a single-minded focus: to get Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes back up and running. "It's what Fred would have wanted," he said. "He'd be furious that I've left it this long." He asked Ron if he'd help him, by working in the shop. "You can do it as a summer job, make some money. Hermione, you too, if you're interested." Both Ron and Hermione agreed. Hermione had reconciled with her parents, who had sorted things out and reopened their dental practice, and they were giving her an allowance, but she wanted to make some money on her own so it was perfect for her.
Ron and Hermione started work at the shop the next day, and Harry got busy working on fixing up Grimmauld Place in earnest. After putting the lounge together, he now knew where to get furniture and things for the house so he went shopping, getting new sofas for the drawing room that were nicer and more to his taste, and a king-sized four-poster bed for his bedroom (getting rid of the two single beds that had been in there). He bought some cool, magically-enchanted "windows" to hang in all the rooms that had no natural light; they were enchanted to look like real windows and show outdoor scenery lit with daylight or moonlight, depending on the time of day. He bought Kreacher a magical trunk - like the one Moody had been kept prisoner in, but this one had stairs that led down to the room inside; and the room itself was cosy and had carpet and wallpaper and a soft bed. Harry had offered the house-elf a bedroom on the second floor, but Kreacher refused it, so Harry got him the trunk to put in Kreacher's den underneath the boiler so that he could have a larger, nicer space.
While Draco was in Montreal, he and Harry sent messages to each other through the Franc. Draco was only supposed to go for a week but after a few days of being there, he sent Harry a message that his mother was making him stay an extra week. He sounded a little off in his messages after that.
Is everything okay? Are you okay? Harry sent.
Draco replied: I'm okay. But my mother is being...difficult. It's too much to try to explain on the Franc. I'll tell you more about it when I get back.
Harry couldn't help but worry about what that meant. It sounded ominous. In what way was Narcissa being difficult? Was she telling Draco to stop seeing Harry?
When Draco got back and Harry went to pick him up, as soon as he saw Draco, Harry could tell something was wrong. Draco hugged him tightly and clung to him for a long time. Harry held him and rubbed his back, feeling very uneasy. Finally, Draco said, "Let's go. I'll tell you everything when we get to your house."
Harry Apparated them to Grimmauld Place, to his bedroom, so they'd have privacy. Once they landed, Draco went and sat on the bed. He looked miserable. Harry sat down next to him, and said, "What happened? What's wrong?"
Draco let out a breath. "I don't know where to start," he said grimly. "But to get straight to the point, I'm going back to Montreal in two weeks."
Harry nodded, frowning. "Right, okay," he said slowly. "How long will you be gone?"
Draco's face crumpled. "A long time," he said, sounding like he was trying not to cry. "I'm moving there, Potter."
"Unbeknownst to me, through some connections, my mother arranged for me to meet with a Master Alchemist there," said Draco. "And, long story short, the Master had me take a bunch of tests, and he was impressed by my results enough to offer me an Apprenticeship."
Harry stared at Draco, too shocked to speak.
"I wish it could be different," said Draco miserably, "I wish that I could stay here in Britain and do an Apprenticeship here, and we could be together and everything would be perfect. But that's not the reality. The reality is, here, I'm a Death Eater, and I won't have those kinds of opportunities. Even so, I want to stay here anyway," he said emotionally. "But my mother is insisting that I take the opportunity offered. She wants me out of Britain."
"Is part of the reason she wants you out of Britain because of me?" asked Harry numbly when he could finally speak.
"No. I don't think so, not exactly," said Draco. "I mean, I'll admit she's been worried because ... well, truthfully, she thinks you're too powerful - "
"But I'm not!" protested Harry. "I'm really not!" He should never have done wandless magic in front of her, Harry thought bitterly.
"You are very powerful," Draco said softly. "I don't know why you keep insisting otherwise. But I'm not put off by it. I swear. But my mother - well - she's been scared that I'm ... being swept away, that I'm under your spell, like how my father was with the Dark Lord, but romantically, which she thinks is worse in a way."
"Jesus!" Harry burst out. "Seriously? She thinks I'm like Voldemort?"
"No. But she thinks you're powerful like him. And that scares her. But her wanting me out of Britain - it's nothing to do with that."
"Do you feel like you're being swept away or under my spell?"
Draco smiled sadly. "Yes. But not like how my mother thinks," he said. "I've liked you for so long, and we've only just got together, and it's been amazing. Of course I'm being swept away, by our being together ... but I mean, you've been too, a bit, haven't you?"
"Yes!" said Harry.
"And we've been having so much fun - you, me, Granger, and Weasley ... I feel like I've had a whole new world open up to me ... " Draco's face crumpled and he let out a choked sob. "I don't want it to end!" he said emotionally.
"I don't want it to end either," said Harry, swallowing thickly. He felt gutted. Blindsided. He had been expecting something - a bit of difficulty and resistance from Narcissa regarding their relationship, but not this.
Draco quietly started crying. "Can we lay down?" he asked tearfully.
Harry nodded. They kicked off their shoes then got fully on the bed and lay down face to face, putting their arms around each other. Harry held Draco tightly as Draco cried, and tried not to cry himself.
Draco ended up spending the night. The following morning, they had breakfast with Hermione and Ron, and of course Hermione immediately noticed that something was wrong.
"How was your trip?" she asked, frowning and looking back and forth between Draco and Harry. "What's wrong? Did something happen?"
Draco and Harry exchanged a look, then Draco let out a heavy sigh and told them what was going on.
"Wow. I'm sorry you're going to be leaving," said Hermione when Draco finished telling them. "But I'm happy for you that you're getting the opportunity to study with a Master. We're going to miss you though."
Ron nodded his agreement. "We are," he said, frowning. He and Draco had become friends over the past month and a half, bonding over chess games and concerts, and their shared amazement at the Muggle world and its offerings.
Draco looked sad. "Yeah. I'm going to miss you all too."
Hermione and Ron went to Blockbuster after breakfast to rent some movies for them to watch. They spent the day watching them, a triple feature of James Bond films, meant to take Draco's and Harry's minds off things. It didn't quite work; Draco and Harry watched half-heartedly, cuddled woefully together on the sofa, both depressed, feeling shell-shocked.
At half five, Harry and Draco Apparated to Andromeda's for Sunday dinner. They were both quiet and downcast during the meal, and afterwards, when Draco excused himself to go to the loo, Narcissa asked to speak to Harry privately. She took him outside to the back garden, and once they sat down, Narcissa said, "I can see you're both very unhappy, Harry. But you must understand, this opportunity is not something Draco can pass up. He won't find opportunities like that here, not as a former Death Eater."
"I know," said Harry quietly.
"But the bigger concern is, it's dangerous for him here in Britain," Narcissa continued. "There are too many people who will want revenge for things that happened during the war. He's an easy target. I know it hurts to have to part, but I know you want the best for Draco, don't you?"
"Yes," said Harry. "Of course I do."
"So surely you can see that staying here in Britain, avoiding the wizarding world - a wizarding world that sees him as the enemy and will see him as such for a very long time, isn't something that can go on indefinitely," said Narcissa. She was quiet for a moment. Then she said softly, "Draco is not as strong as you are, Harry. He's been having trouble coping with everything that happened. He has nightmares every night. It was too much, what happened, and he's not going to just get over it. He's haunted by what he saw, what he had to do, and what he experienced at the Dark Lord's hand ... and it's going to take him a long time to heal from that. He needs a clean break and a fresh start. You understand that, don't you?"
Harry nodded, swallowing thickly. "Yes," he said sadly. "I understand."
Narcissa's expression softened. Unexpectedly, she reached out and gently patted his arm, in a way that was surprisingly maternal. "You're a good boy, Harry - a good young man," she amended. "I am sorry that you have to part. I know how much you care for each other. But realistically, there isn't any other option but for Draco to take the opportunity offered and start over in Montreal."
"I know," Harry whispered. And he did. It just really hurt, knowing they couldn't be together. Harry couldn't blame Narcissa. He could see that she was just a mother who loved her son and wanted what was best for him.
Narcissa looked at him, still patting his arm; then, to Harry's shock, he saw a tear trailing down her cheek. "It's going to be hard for me as well," she said. "I'm not going with him, so I have to let him go too."
"You're not going with him?" asked Harry in surprise.
"He's an adult now, and he needs space to grow on his own. And my sister and Teddy need me, so I'm staying here."
"Oh," said Harry quietly.
They sat in silence for a minute, wordlessly commiserating with one another. There was no need to say more than what had been said. They would both be losing Draco. Somehow, knowing Narcissa was making a sacrifice too made Harry feel ... not better, exactly, but ... less put upon. He had thought Narcissa mainly just wanted to get Draco away from Harry, but that really wasn't the case.
"Well," said Narcissa finally, "I suppose we should get back inside. I'm sure you and Draco have plans tonight." She gave Harry a look he could only describe as kind. "I understand that you two will want to spend as much time together as you can before Draco leaves. And I won't get in the way of that."
Harry gave her a pained smile and softly thanked her.
She patted him on the arm again, then stood up. "Shall we?" she asked.
Harry nodded, getting to his feet, then followed her back inside.
Draco was sitting on the sofa with Andromeda, frowning and looking tense. He got up when Harry came in and said, "Is everything okay?"
"Are you ready to go then?"
"Yes," said Harry. He turned to Andromeda and thanked her for dinner, then turned to Narcissa and thanked her too. Then they took their leave.
Once they arrived at Grimmauld Place, Draco said, "What did my mother say to you?"
Harry told him. Then he said, "We have two weeks left - less than, now, since you're leaving on the Saturday ... so, thirteen days. It's going to be miserable if all we do the whole time is think about you leaving. So, I think we should try to live in the moment and not think about the future. If this is all we have, we have to make the most of it."
Draco agreed. "I mean, it's going to be really hard to not think about it, but I get what you're saying. I don't want the time we have left together to be sad and depressing."
Harry pulled him close and kissed him. "We'll just have to live in the present, it's the only way."
They went downstairs and met up with Ron and Hermione, who had just returned from Sunday dinner at the Weasleys', then the four of them went to the pub. Later, when they got back to Grimmauld Place, Draco ended up spending the night again.
After getting into bed, Harry and Draco talked about whether or not to go further than snogging. They had planned to take things to another level when Draco got back from Montreal, but now, since Draco was leaving, they both agreed it would only make it more difficult when it was time to part. So they just kissed for a little while, then cuddled, then held each other until they fell asleep.
The next week, they spent as much time together as possible. During the days they went to the park with Teddy every morning and had lunch with Andromeda and Narcissa, then they did fun, touristy things like go to the London Zoo and The Sea Life London Aquarium, and tour Windsor Castle and Holland Park (where they particularly enjoyed the Kyoto Garden). One memorable afternoon, they went to Wiltshire and did a tour of the Longleat Safari park, then explored the Longleat Hedge Maze, where they got lost for nearly half an hour until Harry finally cast a Point Me spell to find the exit.
Every night that week they had dinner at Grimmauld Place with Hermione and Ron, then the four of them watched a movie or played a game or two, then afterwards they went to the pub to listen to that night's band. On Friday night, the two couples went to see Les Misérables at the Palace Theatre on the West End. They all loved it, especially Draco and Hermione. On Saturday they all went to the concert Pulp In The Park at Finsbury Park to see the band Pulp, who they had taken a great liking to after seeing them headline at Glastonbury. It was a fantastic show - Pulp was brilliant, and the support bands were great too. The concert was an all day event, which Hermione wasn't as into, so she joined them just before Pulp came on stage, after Harry sent her a message that they were about to come on.
And then it was the final week. Harry and Draco spent it much as they had the week before, going to the park with Teddy and having lunch with Andromeda and Narcissa every day, then doing something fun and touristy in the afternoons, and spending the evenings with Hermione and Ron, watching movies, playing games, and going to the pub.
On Friday, Harry's birthday, Ron and Hermione took the day off from working at Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes (Lee Jordon had agreed to help George in their stead). The two couples enjoyed a day of fun at the theme park, Alton Towers, and afterwards, Draco took them all to Paris for Harry's birthday dinner. It was bittersweet - wonderful, because Paris was magical as always, but sad, because it was Draco's last night. After dinner they had a couple of drinks at La Sirène Heureuse, then they returned to London for one last round at the pub. Draco spent the night at Grimmauld Place, and he and Harry stayed up all night talking, kissing, and cuddling, getting more sombre and woeful as each hour passed.
The next morning they had breakfast, a sumptuous spread that Kreacher had thoughtfully prepared, and Ron and Hermione joined them. They had both come to really like Draco and enjoy his company and were truly sad he was leaving, so despite the excellent food, breakfast was quite a gloomy affair.
Hermione had set up Yahoo email addresses for everyone so they could all keep in touch, and she reminded Draco to send them emails whenever he could. "There might be internet cafes where you can use their computers to browse the internet and send emails, or maybe you can get your own computer and set it up like how Harry did," she said.
Draco nodded. "I got a few of those magic-to-electricity converter gadgets from that shop in Diagon Alley so that I can use Muggle technology in Montreal, though I think they might use a different kind of electricity in Canada than here. If what I have doesn't work, I'm sure there must be a shop in the wizarding part of Montreal that sells something similar. I definitely want a tv, Playstation, stereo, and computer."
All too soon, it was time to go to Andromeda's. Hermione gave Draco a big hug and said a little tearfully, "I'm going to miss you. Take care of yourself and keep in touch!"
Ron shook his hand then clapped him on the shoulder. "I'm glad I got to know you these past two months," he said gruffly. "We had some great times. I hope your Apprenticeship is everything you want it to be."
Draco was a little emotional, but managed to keep himself from crying. "I'm sure I'll see you guys again. I won't be gone forever. Thanks for everything," he said solemnly, his voice wobbling a bit.
Then he and Harry Apparated to Andromeda's.
As soon as they got there, Draco went to his bedroom to gather his bags (he'd mostly packed before the weekend, but he had a few more things to put into his trunk) and then went to the bathroom to take a quick shower. While he was doing that, Harry sat with Andromeda and Narcissa and played with Teddy.
Narcissa looked quite emotional and Andromeda tried to soothe her.
"He'll be fine, Cissy," she said as Narcissa blotted tears from her eyes with a handkerchief. "Master Leroux will make sure of it."
Narcissa nodded. "I know," she said quietly. "He'll be safe in Montreal. I can take comfort in that."
Draco came out and asked Harry to come to his bedroom, and once they were inside the room, Draco shut the door and pulled Harry close. "I don't want to go," he said miserably, his voice muffled by Harry's shoulder.
"I know," said Harry, just as miserably. Draco pulled back then grabbed something on the bedside table and held it out to Harry.
It was his old wand.
"I want you to have this," said Draco. "To remember me by." He placed it in Harry's hand. And then he started crying.
And Harry, who hated crying, especially in front of anyone, broke down and started crying too. He pulled Draco back to him and held him tightly. "I wish things could be different," he said mournfully. "I wish you could stay ... or that I could go with you..."
"I will always regret this, that the decisions I made - to be a Death Eater - led to this," whispered Draco brokenly. "There's nothing more I want than to stay, or for you to come with me. But I know it can't be. This is the cost of the choices I made."
"Don't look at it like that," said Harry pleadingly.
"To lose you just when I finally had you ... my heart is fucking broken," said Draco wretchedly. "I will always look back on this and regret that I had to leave. This is the last thing I fucking want!" He let out a sob and clung to Harry, crying into his shoulder, and Harry cried too, feeling absolutely gutted.
They held on to each other, desperately, neither wanting to let go.
But then there was a knock on the door, and Narcissa was calling, saying it was time.
"We're coming!" yelled Draco. He pulled back and angrily Shrunk his bags and threw them in the trunk, then closed it and Shrunk the trunk. He picked it up and put it in his messenger bag, then let out a shuddering breath and took Harry's hand.
They went out to the sitting room, where Narcissa and Andromeda were waiting with Teddy. Draco said goodbye to Andromeda first, then Teddy, then he hugged Narcissa. She handed him the Portkey. "I love you, Dragon," she said softly, tears falling freely from her eyes.
"I love you too, Mother," he said quietly. Then he looked at Harry. He opened his mouth to say something, and Harry knew, Draco wanted to say the same words to Harry, but then Draco closed his mouth, sagging dejectedly. He took a step closer to Harry, as Andromeda began counting down, "Ten ... nine ... eight ... seven ..."
"Goodbye, Potter ... Harry," whispered Draco, and a second later, the Portkey whisked him away.
Harry let out an embarrassing noise that sounded like a choked sob. Feeling anguished, desperate to get away, he swallowed thickly and said in a rush, "I'm sorry, I have to go," and he Apparated straight home to his bedroom before Narcissa or Andromeda could say anything. And then he lay on his bed and cried, thinking about Draco's face when he said Harry's name, feeling his heart constrict with pain. His heart actually hurt, and he suddenly understood what people meant when they said they were heartbroken. And so Harry wept, for himself and for Draco, and for the circumstances that had forced them apart.
Later, he went up to the fourth floor to pay Voldemort's portrait his required visit.
"What in Circe's name is the matter with you?" demanded Voldemort. "I have been feeling your feelings all day. Your emotions are disgusting."
"Draco left for Canada today," said Harry numbly, unthinkingly. "For good. Or at least, for a long time."
"Ah," said Voldemort. "So it is over between you then?"
"No thanks to you," said Harry dispiritedly. "Because of you, because he had been a Death Eater, he had to leave. Narcissa wanted him out of Britain and found an opportunity for him in Canada."
"My dear, he was never worthy of you," said Voldemort. "Such dramatics for someone so weak, who chose his mother over you."
"Fuck off! That's not what happened at all."
"When you resurrect me, I will show you what a real man is."
"You're not a man, you're a monster," said Harry hollowly. "And I will never resurrect you." And with that said, he left, Apparating back to his bedroom.
He spent the rest of the day holed up in his room, not wanting to talk to anyone, not wanting to eat, ignoring the food Kreacher brought up to him.
"Is Master Harry ill?" asked the house-elf worriedly.
"In a way," said Harry quietly. "Can you bring me up a Sleeping Draught?" He just wanted to sleep and not think or feel anymore.
Kreacher went and got it, then returned, giving it to Harry.
Harry got into bed and under the covers. "Can you tell Ron and Hermione I'm not feeling well, and that I'll see them tomorrow?" he said.
"Thanks," said Harry. Then he uncorked the potion and downed it, feeling the effects come on almost immediately, making him woozy. He lay back, and a second later, fell into a deep sleep.
The next day, Harry felt no better. He paid a silent visit to Voldemort's portrait then went back to bed, feeling just as despondent as he had the day before. When Kreacher brought him lunch, he forced himself to eat half a sandwich, only to keep Kreacher from fussing over him. Then he went to the lounge and logged onto the computer to see if Draco had sent him an email (they had agreed beforehand to send emails instead of messages on the Francs). Draco had sent him one; it said:
Leaving and saying goodbye to you was crushing. It will haunt me for the rest of my life. I miss you, more than I can say. I don't know how I'm going to get over this. It hurts so much.
I feel the same way. I miss you. I'm gutted.
Later, when Harry checked his email that evening, he found Draco had replied again:
You deserve better than me. But I'm glad I got to have you if only for a little while.
What the fuck? I don't deserve better than you. I don't want it to be over, Draco. It doesn't have to be. We could try to do the long distance thing. I can visit you in Montreal.
A few minutes later, Harry felt Hermione's Galleon burning in his pocket. He took it out and read her message:
Are you okay?
Harry sent back:
I don't know.
She sent back:
Can I come up? Where are you?
Yes. I'm in the lounge.
Hermione came up immediately. She took one look at him then sat down next to him and said, "You look ... not so good."
Harry shrugged. Then he told her about the emails he and Draco had sent each other, then told her what he had just sent to Draco.
"I've heard that long distance relationships can be very difficult," said Hermione tentatively.
"I would do it anyway," said Harry. He looked at the computer screen, then logged off. "I'll wait and see what he says at least."
Hermione nodded, but she looked worried.
They played a game of backgammon, then Ron came up and joined them, and he and Hermione began a competition round of Cool Boarders 2 while Harry logged back onto the computer to check if he had a new email. He did.
Draco had replied:
I wish we could do the long distance thing but it's not feasible. Being an Apprentice to Master Leroux is going to keep me very busy. He's very demanding. Even if you visited I wouldn't have much free time to spend with you. (I wish more than anything things could have been different. I miss you terribly, more than I can say.)
Harry immediately replied:
I miss you too. So much. My pillows still smell of you.
A few minutes later, Draco replied again:
My most cherished and adored Gryffindor, out of self-preservation, I have come to the decision that we should stop emailing each other for a while. It hurts too much.
Harry stared at the email reply, feeling heartbroken. He logged off the computer and stood up.
"Are you okay?" asked Hermione, seeing his expression.
Harry shook his head. "Not really. But I don't want to talk about it right now. I'm going to go to bed." He excused himself and left before Hermione or Ron could say anything, though he heard Ron say to Hermione, as Harry closed the door behind him, "Leave it, Hermione, let him deal with it the way he needs to."
Back in his bedroom, Harry lay down on his bed, and cuddling the pillow that Draco had slept on, let the tears come.
The following week, Harry was a mess. Hermione and Ron returned to work at Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes and Harry just stayed in his room mostly, too depressed to do much else. Another week passed, and nothing had changed. Harry felt sad and listless. Paying his daily visits to Voldemort's portrait was the only constant. Voldemort tried to talk to him, but Harry always left quickly, never replying. A couple of times in the lounge, when Harry was in there by himself, Tom tried to speak to him too, but Harry told him to leave him alone, grimly ignoring the hurt he could feel from Tom through the link.
On the last Friday of August, Harry went with Ron and Hermione to Diagon Alley to pick up the schoolbooks they would need for their last year at Hogwarts. Harry was quite resistant at first, telling Hermione that he wasn't sure he wanted to go back to school yet, if at all, but she convinced him that going back to school would help him move forward.
The next day, Saturday, Hermione and Ron went out for the afternoon with Hermione's parents. Harry went to the Heir's Study to do some reading. He spent a few hours in there, reading and catching up on the paperwork he was supposed to have completed for the Black accounts earlier in the month, then he left the room, intending to grab a sandwich then work on some of the Potter paperwork.
Suddenly, without any warning, he felt a horrible wave of pain through the link. It hit him like a physical force, making him stagger. The pain was excruciating, worse than the Cruciatus Curse. Another agonising wave came blasting through the link, knocking Harry off his feet. On the floor, gasping for breath, panicking, wondering what was happening to Tom, Harry felt the pain increase sharply. It was unbearable, worse than any pain he'd ever felt before.
It ramped up, swallowing him whole and blurring the edges of his vision ...
... and then Harry knew no more.
Author's Note: Ok, so that's the end of the Drarry portion of the story. Next chapter will be a doozy - it will be Tom's POV from the beginning of the story until now.
On a sad note, I was so sorry to hear that Helen McCrory, the actress who played Narcissa Malfoy (amongst other stellar roles) passed away yesterday. May she rest in peace.