by Deirdre Riordan
We started out as enemies. I didn't even know what he was doing at my
school, the lone Southerner among five hundred Yankees. No one liked
him, in fact. His father had a plantation in Georgia, doubtless full of
slaves. We all wondered why he was even going to school and not
learning how to farm or something. He kept to himself and spoke to no
one outside class unless absolutely necessary. But he surpassed us all
in every subject possible. Try as they might, the tutors couldn't deny
that. His Greek translations were flawless, his math proofs airtight.
The only time he did speak was in Seminar, to offer some of the most
insightful arguments I've ever heard in my life. No one put him down
there, as Seminar was a sort of sacred neutral ground. Still, we joked
about him, convincing ourselves that he spent all his days and nights
in the library because he didn't have any friends. We didn't want to
think some backward Southerner was smarter than us. I hated him. I was
always the one who led the people teasing him in the corridors, always
the one who delivered the scathing remarks, delighting in the way his
chin trembled before he ran off. We were all sure he was horribly
inbred. No one could be that blonde and that fragile if they were born
out of a normal union. It was just another thing to tease him about, to
throw in his face.
One day I came upon him on the Quad, slumped against a wall, the tar
beaten out of him. My first impulse was to laugh and keep walking.
Instead I leaned down next to him. It was essay-writing time, so I must
not have been in my right mind. "What the hell happened to you,
Malfoy?" I asked, pulling out my handkerchief and dabbing at the blood
on his lip.
"Your little friends happened to me, Potter," he said with a sneer.
I may have jeered at him mercilessly, but verbal abuse was as far as I
ever went. I'd never even considered resorting to physical violence,
and I had honestly thought my friends above that as well.
"What do you care?" he drawled.
"Because if you die my idiot friends will say I put them up to hitting
"You mean you didn't?"
"No, I didn't. I don't agree with violence," I said, wiping away the
last of the blood from his face. "Come on, let's get you to the
infirmary." I helped him up and put my arm around his shoulder. I
thought he would fight me at first, but he leaned against me and
allowed me to help him limp over to Humphreys. 'I must be losing my
mind,' I thought. 'If anyone sees me with him like this I'm dead.' But
no one saw us. I got him to Humphreys and I sat him down to wait for
the nurse. Something caused me to sit down and wait with him. "What are
you doing here anyway, Malfoy? Why aren't you at Emory or something
with the other good Southern boys?"
"Because my father went to school here. Because it's the best."
"And does your father know what they're doing to you here?"
"And if he did?"
"He'd call me a pansy and tell me to fight back."
"Why don't you fight back?"
"Because I don't agree with violence," he said with a twisted
He was mocking me. I didn't like that. "What, you don't beat your
slaves, Malfoy? I've heard about what goes on in those plantations."
He reddened. But not with embarrassment. He clenched his teeth. "Nobody
beats our slaves, Potter. They're practically paid. Do you know why we
have so many? To save them from the people who would beat them. We feed
them, we educate them, we get them a doctor when they're sick, and they
repay us by farming our land."
"I find that hard to believe."
"Of course you do. Your congressmen want you to find that hard to
believe. They want you to think they all live in squalor, that they're
all horribly treated and dying of horrible diseases, beaten within an
inch of their lives every single day. And I'll grant you, some are. But
not all of them. And not ours."
"So why don't you buy up all the slaves in the South and free them?"
"One, we couldn't afford that. We help the ones we can. Two, the people
we buy them from would just find more to mistreat. Three, freedom
isn't what you think. You should know that free Blacks don't have the
greatest life, even up North. Most of them can't get decent jobs or
decent homes. If we 'freed' the people working our lands, they'd likely
be worse off than they are now. We've let a few go, yes. But most of
them would rather stay."
I was somewhat taken aback by this information. I couldn't imagine
people *wanting* to be slaves. But he didn't seem to be lying. I
thought back to his comments on the Rights of Man the week previous.
Yes, perhaps he knew what he was talking about. "What side are you
going to fight on?"
"Who says there's going to be a war?"
"There's going to be one. Maybe not this year, maybe not next, but
there's going to be one."
"If there is one, I'm going to fight on the side that preserves my
family and my way of life. But I don't want to fight."
"Neither do I."
The nurse came in to see him and I went off to meet my so-called
friends for dinner. I stared at them as we ate, wondering how
grossly I might have misjudged them, wondering how I hadn't seen what
barbaric things they were capable of. Malfoy, for all his theoretical
moral objectionability, had never done anything to hurt them or provoke
them. And yet they would have killed him.
The next day I was walking down a corridor in McDowell when someone
pulled me into a corner. "Hey, what's the big idea?" I exclaimed,
shaking off the arm that held mine. I saw Malfoy's face in the shadows.
"Sorry, he said. "I just wanted to.... to thank you. For helping me."
My mouth dropped open. I couldn't find words for a moment. Finally I
just said, "You're welcome."
We didn't exactly become friends then, but we stopped being enemies. I
stopped egging my friends on in teasing him, but I didn't exactly
defend him. I never said anything to them about what they'd done,
knowing it probably just would have earned me a beating of my own. In
some cases having money can't protect you, and this was one of them.
That was proven definitively by Malfoy, who probably had more money
than any of us. Instead I avoided them as much as I could, giving the
excuse of needing to study so as not to be disowned by my father. Some
of the things they said made me sick, so ignorant they seemed to me now.
I spent more and more time in the library. Sometimes Malfoy would be
there. We wouldn't talk, but he would look up from his work and give me
a nod and a small smile, and I would respond with the same. He must
have known why I was there and not out drinking with my friends. He
must have known it had nothing to do with studying.
It was on one of these nights that I was struggling through a
particularly difficult bit of Greek. There was a small section of words
all in the loathed aorist case that I simply couldn't decipher. At last
I threw down my pen in frustration and let my head fall to the table
with a thud.
Malfoy was there, and he looked up from his math book. "Do you want
some help?" he asked softly.
He explained the section to me more clearly than any tutor could have
and got me to the answers without actually giving them to me. And I
couldn't help thinking then that he was beautiful, more beautiful than
Ginny who was waiting for me back home, more beautiful than any
woman I'd ever seen. I'd long tried to keep such unacceptable desires
at bay, and had for the most part succeeded in the past couple of
years. But Malfoy tore my resolve to bits that night. When we left the
library I locked myself in my room and touched myself with his face in
my mind. And then I cried myself to sleep, ashamed.
Shamed though I was by my desire, I did not deny my ever-growing need
to see him at any moment possible. I began to approach him for help
with anything and everything, even subjects I was doing fine in. And he
would help me, and sometimes we would talk. Not about anything
important, we avoided that. We made fun of various tutors or exchanged
stories about the trouble we'd gotten into as children. And somehow,
yes, we did become friends. Not the kind of friends who go everywhere
and do everything together. We couldn't be that kind of friends and we
both knew it. He knew it wasn't because I was ashamed of him, but
because I preferred for the both of us to finish out the term in one
We met nearly every night, always in his room. Gradually there was less
studying and more talking. Sometimes he sat so close to me I could
scarcely stand it, but somehow I did, knowing I couldn't bear to have
him move away. Sometimes when he was telling a particularly vivid or
funny story he would unconsciously lay a hand on my knee. I loved that.
And I hated it too. At some point we started calling one another by our
Christian names. Not by any agreement, it just happened. I couldn't
have said when, not even then. It seemed so natural I didn't notice it
when it happened. But when I did I wondered how I could have missed it.
The way he said 'Harry' nearly melted me everytime. He drew it out
strangely, giving it half a syllable more than it ought to have. It was
like he was caressing it, not wanting to let go of it just yet, almost
Sometimes I would stare into his stormy grey eyes and wonder what he'd
do if I told him how I felt. And then I had to stop thinking about it
because it terrified me so much.
We had two weeks' holiday for Easter. I didn't want to go home. I
didn't want to see Ginny, didn't want to have to look at her and
see how inferior she was to the one I loved now, how not-grey her eyes
were, how not-silvery blonde her hair was, how utterly not Draco she
was. I wanted to keep her as a happy memory, not as someone I was going
to have to either hurt or marry without loving her. But I didn't want
to go home with Ron or Seamus either. They had no idea how close I was
to hating them now. And above all, I didn't want to be away from Draco.
Somehow I was going to have to get an invitation to his house. It came
more easily than I thought.
"What are you doing for Easter holidays?" he asked me one night.
I shrugged. "I don't really know. I guess I'm going to go back to
Philadelphia, but I don't really want to."
"Why don't you come with me?"
"You mean it? Won't your father mind?"
"Of course I mean it. And my father wants to meet you. He's tickled
pink I've finally made a friend here."
"You've told him about me?"
"Sure I have. You haven't told your family about me?"
I shrugged. "I don't write to them very much," I said. This was true.
They generally didn't care a fig about what I was doing. "If you're
sure no one will mind, I'd love to come with you."
"Good, because I've already told them you are."
"Presumptuous, aren't we?" I said, punching him lightly in the arm.
"I presumed I'd be able to convince you, yes," he retorted, punching me
"How are we going? Do I need to get a train ticket?"
"No, my father's sending a coach."
"A coach? Is he mad?"
"Probably. He doesn't want his only son on a train full of common
people, I suppose."
The following week I stepped into the coach with him. Ron and Seamus
saw me, but I didn't care now. I had a whole week with Draco, no
hiding, no pretending. The journey was to take two days. The carriage
had a hamper full of sandwiches and other things to eat, pillows and
blankets, a deck of cards, a chessboard, and several bottles of wine.
"Aren't we going to stop somewhere overnight?" I asked him.
"Oh, of course we are. Usually somewhere around Raleigh. But we can't
be bored and hungry in the meantime, can we?"
And we weren't. He trounced me at poker and chess, and we both got
shamefully inebriated on the fruits of his father's wine cellar. I'd
never had such good stuff in my life. He fell asleep with his head on
my shoulder. I went to sleep too, knowing I'd probably do something
terrible to him if I didn't.
When we woke up a few hours later, we'd shifted around somehow so that
he was practically on top of me. I blushed fiercely, expecting him to
recoil in horror. But he didn't. In fact, he shocked me. He just sat
up, grinned, and kissed me on the forehead. "Good morning, sleeping
I couldn't stop the thoughts that raced through my mind, nor the blood
that raced through my body, even as chaste as this gesture was. I was
very glad I had a blanket over my lap. "Good morning yourself," I
managed at last. "Where are we?"
He pulled the curtains aside and peeked out the window. It was starting
to get dark. "I'm not sure, but I imagine we'll be stopping
soon." He settled back against me, newly setting ablaze the blood
I'd just succeeded in calming. "See, isn't this loads better than some
filthy old train?"
I couldn't question that it was infinitely better. We stopped soon
after, at a small town with an inn. We had arrived too late for them to
continue holding the rooms his father had reserved.
"I'm really terribly sorry about all this," said the innkeeper. "But
the holidays and all, lots of folks travelling. I do have one room
left, if the two of you don't mind sharing. There's only one bed, but
it's more than big enough for two."
Draco looked at me and shrugged. "Sure, we'll take it. Have to sleep
somewhere, after all."
I was terrified. I didn't know what I'd do, sharing a bed with him. I
wasn't sure I'd be able to hide my feelings, and I was positive my body
would betray me as well. I prolonged dinner as long as I could, eating
incredibly slowly, insisting on dessert, and downing glass after glass
of Madeira to calm my nerves. After brandy, cigars, and a game of
chess, it could be put off no longer: it was time for bed.
I tried not to watch as Draco unabashedly stripped down to his skivvies
and climbed into bed. I removed my own clothes as quickly as I could
and jumped under the covers. Draco just laughed at me. "Really, Harry,
you haven't got anything I've never seen before."
I put out the lights, hoping he hadn't seen the blush that crept over
my face. I lay stiffly next to him, desperately wanting to pull him
into my arms. It took all my strength not to. I couldn't sleep. He had
no such problem. I was almost asleep when he shifted and slung his arm
and leg over me. I tried to breathe normally. I couldn't. My breath
came faster and faster. I wanted him, worse than anything. I wanted him
to touch me everywhere. Even as I blushed with shame at my abnormality,
I wanted him. I loved him. I closed my eyes and struggled to control my
breathing. Finally fatigue overtook me and I fell into a troubled sleep.
The next morning we were in the same position, but worse, all tangled
up in one another. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to wake him,
but I didn't want him to know we'd ended up like this. He hadn't minded
in the coach, but beds were different. Before I could decide what to
do, he woke up.
He shocked me again. "We've got to stop meeting like this, Mr. Potter,"
he breathed into my ear, brushing his lips against my cheek. I couldn't
contain a gasp. His body was pressed against me, and every nerve on my
skin was aware of it.
"Draco, stop," I stuttered, trying to struggle out of his grasp.
He held me down. "Don't fight me, Harry," he whispered, his lips
grazing my ear. "I'm not going to hurt you."
I didn't know what he wanted or even exactly what he meant, but I knew
he was trying to tell me there was nothing wrong with how we were right
now, so I stopped squirming and relaxed, putting my arms around him. He
rested his face on my neck and I could feel his hardness pressing into
my thigh. But we didn't move our hands or bodies, we just lay there
like that until it was time to get up.
He watched me shave and buttoned my waistcoat for me. I poured his
coffee and buttered his toast. He caressed my hand gently when I passed
him the milk. As soon as the carriage doors were closed, he moved over
next to me and held my hand. He read me sonnets while stroking my hair.
He fed me strawberries and I licked the juice from his fingertips. He
tickled me until I agreed to sing him a song, and when I was done
he threw his arms around me and buried his face in my hair, murmuring
something about how I smelled like apples. He let me hold him and run
my nails up and down his spine. And I loved him. And I understood that
in some way at least, he wanted me too. But we couldn't go beyond the
permissible, the ambiguous. And we couldn't talk about it. That would
have broken it. That would have made it not an accident. And I wasn't
ready for anything on-purpose.
When we got hungry around noon we consumed more wine than we did food.
The wine made it all right. The wine made it not our fault. He kissed
my neck for what seemed like hours while my hands found their way
underneath his shirt to explore his bare chest. He fell asleep in my
arms and gave me a feathery kiss on the lips when he woke up. I could
have spent an eternity in that carriage with him. Everything was
perfect there, everything was all right, everything was allowed. But
the carriage reached the plantation just before nightfall.
"Welcome to Malfoy Manor," he said with a grin when we stepped out of
On the veranda of the imposing white mansion a tall, smiling black man
shook hands with both of us and took the small valises we'd had with us
in the carriage. Draco introduced him to me as Big George. We entered
the house. I'd always known my uncle's house in Philadelphia was nice
compared to others, but this was downright lavish. Tapestries and
crystal everywhere, with dark cherry and mahogany panelling, too-long
velvet drapes that ended in silky pools on the floor, mirrors and
candles and paintings.... it felt like a palace.
"Papa, nous sommes arrivés!" Draco shouted up the stairs. I
gaped. I'd figured the family had come from France, with a name like
Malfoy, but I'd had no idea that Draco actually spoke French.
A regal-looking man with long hair the same colour as Draco's descended
the stairs. He grinned widely when he saw us. He ushered us into a
sitting room and gave us whiskey. He insisted that I call him Lucius
and asked me if I liked to ride horses. He was a far cry from any
parent I'd ever met. Nothing like my boisterous, red-faced uncle or
Ron's timid, bumbling father. He was refined and charming and seemed
"Where are Mama and Catherine?" Draco asked his father at a slight lull
in the conversation. I'd been wondering about his mother myself. And
apparently he had a sister.
"They went with Severus to visit the Parkinsons. They should be back
for supper." And who was Severus?
"They're not bringing them back, are they?" Draco asked, looking
"No, of course not. But I'm afraid you are going to have to see Pansy.
There's a barbecue there on Saturday."
Draco groaned. "Do we have to?"
"You know we do. Besides, they're all dying to meet this Yankee friend
of yours," Lucius said, chuckling.
I suddenly pictured myself being on display like some sort of circus
animal while hundreds of hoopskirted women walked by and poked at me.
"Don't look so terrified, Harry," Lucius said, apparently sensing my
discomfort. "Draco will take good care of you."
Lucius had us shown upstairs to rest and freshen up for supper. It
turned out I would be staying in a guest suite that adjoined Draco's
"I figured there was no sense in putting you at the other end of the
house," Draco said by way of explanation.
Just that little door between us. It was certainly more than we'd had
the night before, but it still wasn't much.
Draco washed up and changed and sat on my bed talking to me while I did
the same, telling me who was who around the neighbourhood so that I'd
at least understand some of the gossip at the table. He pushed
some hair out of my eyes and embraced me briefly before we went
Narcissa and Catherine Malfoy, Draco's mother and sister, were just as
nice as Lucius, and just as blond. Severus Snape was a bit frightening
at first, but I ended up enjoying his sarcasm. He was visiting from
England. If I'd known Severus before Draco, I might have fallen in love
with him. He was dark and mysterious, but terribly exciting. As it was
though, Draco had my heart already. Severus was apparently meant to
marry Catherine anyway.
When the meal was over Catherine played the piano and I was forced to
sing again, this time for a real audience. They all applauded me and
Draco whispered in my ear that I had a gorgeous voice. At last it
was time for bed and we went upstairs.
I was in my nightshirt combing my hair when Draco knocked softly and
came through the door. He took the comb out of my hand and
started to do it himself, brushing his fingers against my neck and
ears. Eventually I just closed my eyes and leaned my head against his
stomach. He put down the comb and caressed my hair, my neck, my
chest. Then he took my hand and pulled me over to the bed. For a few
minutes I just lay there, staring into his eyes, searching them for
whatever emotions might be there. Then in one swift motion he closed
the small space between us and kissed me, really kissed me. It was
exquisite, burning and freezing and hard and soft all at once.
"Draco..." I rasped out, pulling away.
"Don't say anything," he murmured against my lips. "Just let it be."
And with that he kissed me so deeply I thought he'd tear out my soul if
he stopped. How could this be wrong? How could it be sinful and
unnatural when it felt so perfect? I wanted to kiss him forever. Then
he took his hand off my hip and slid it tentatively to the throbbing
hardness between my legs. I froze at first, but when he pulled up my
nightshirt so that his hand was on my bare skin I couldn't help but
melt into his touch and let him do what I'd imagined him doing to me a
thousand times. I had never known such ecstasy. But I couldn't bring
myself to touch him, not yet. I caressed his hair and neck and
shoulders but that was as far as I could make myself go. And he didn't
ask me to do anything more, because he understood.
When it was over he held me and kissed me for hours and I woke up
wrapped in his arms. And I wasn't afraid. He kissed me good morning and
told me to get ready for breakfast. That afternoon we rode out to the
edge of the fields to the creek that ran there. We lay side by side in
the sun with our feet in the water.
The next few nights were the same as the first. We would kiss and he
would touch me, but I still couldn't touch him. I wanted to, but my
hands wouldn't listen to me. And the days were lovely, filled with sun
and walks and iced tea on the veranda. I got to know Severus a little
better; he was a chemist. He seemed to know everything there was to
know about every substance imaginable. He was a cynical man, but witty
in spite of it, and even I could see the glow of love that came over
him whenever Catherine entered the room. Occasionally visitors came to
call, but I took little notice of them, exchanging no more than the
necessary pleasantries before Draco politely sent them on their way.
"I want to keep you to myself as much as I can," he said one day after
shooing the Crabbe away fifteen minutes right down to the second after
they'd arrived. "You're going to be overwhelmed by them all on Saturday
Saturday came. Draco wore a blue suit. I wore a white one. He spent
ages fussing over my tie before he would allow us to leave. I was
practically mobbed by women the second we reached the Parkinson’s'.
"Is it always like this?" I muttered to Draco as we were trying to
manoeuvre our way through the crowd to greet the hosts.
"No, you're exotic," he whispered back.
At the barbecue I was introduced to Scarlett O'Hara. I was astonished
when I saw her; she could have been my sister. I understood that the
Parkinsons meant for me to "take care of her" for the afternoon. She
was a headstrong, manipulative sort of girl, an interesting contrast to
Pansy, who latched herself onto Draco's arm like a leech. No sooner had
I sat down next to Miss Scarlett than I had not only fetched her
barbecue and punch, but gotten her to promise me some five dances.
"They all think you're the only one who can handle me," she said
between not-so-dainty bites of barbecue. "'Give her to the Yankee,' I
heard them saying."
"Why can't the others handle you?" I asked, genuinely curious.
She shrugged. "Because I won't do what they like. Because they're all
afraid I'll marry their sons or their brothers and they'll have to put
up with me for the rest of their days."
"I'm not going to marry you," I said.
"I wouldn't if you asked."
"So who is it you want to marry?"
"Can you keep a secret?"
"Well, it's no secret anyway, Ashley Wilkes."
"The one who's just announced his engagement?"
"That's the one."
"But you haven't given up?"
"He's only marrying her to please his family. It's me he really wants."
"How do you know?"
"I know men."
"Then what do you know about me?"
"I know you're a Yankee. I know you want to be a teacher and that
you're better at Greek than you'd like to let on."
"Everyone knows that."
"And I know that there's something strange about you. I can't pick it
out, but there's something different about you from the other men."
"Well, I'm a Yankee, we've already established that."
"No, it has nothing to do with that. You don't look at me the way the
rest of them do. You're like Draco."
"Well, he is my best friend."
She squinted at me. "Is that all he is?"
"Yes and no."
"What do you mean?"
"Have you ever read Plato?"
"Well, then, I can't explain it."
"And what secrets are you two telling over here all alone?" said Pansy
Parkinson in her screechy voice, dragging Draco over behind her.
"Nothing important, Pansy dear," said Scarlett. "Just the weather,
books and all that."
"You don't read books, Scarlett," said Pansy.
"What do you know about what I do?" Scarlett shot back.
"I know you threw yourself at Ashley Wilkes not an hour ago and he
rejected you," Pansy said with a smug grin.
"That's a lie!"
"Girls, girls, let's not be catty," said Draco, stepping between them.
"What kind of impression do you want Harry to take back up North?"
That silenced them. Soon all the ladies went up for a nap or something
and Draco and I were herded in with the men. They talked politics. I
kept my mouth shut and tried not to listen. We escaped as soon as we
could. The ladies weren't back yet. Draco and I managed to sneak off to
a gazebo behind some trees.
"Do they all talk like that here?" I asked with a sigh.
"More and more they do." He looked around for a moment and then kissed
me, so lightly I could barely feel it.
"They seem to think war is necessary."
"For some of them it is."
"I don't want a war."
He was silent for a long moment. "Neither do I," he said finally. "I
just want things to keep on the way they have been."
"But they can't, you must know that."
"What I know and what I want are two different things." I had the
feeling he was talking about more than just the war.
We went back soon after. I danced with Scarlett, I danced with Pansy, I
danced with lord-knows-whom. It didn't matter whom I was dancing with.
The parts I truly enjoyed were the occasional reels where Draco and I
got to spin each other around for a second. I wanted to dance with him
and only him. But it just wasn't done.
At last we were allowed to take our leave of the Parkinsons. By this
point it had long ago gotten dark and we were both tipsy from the wine.
Neither of us were terribly interested in dinner, so we just went
straight upstairs. Draco pulled me into his bedroom, which was not
usual. We usually spent our time in my room, because it was less likely
that anyone would bother me. But he wound up a music box and opened it.
It began to tinkle out the notes of a Tchaikovsky waltz.
"May I have this dance?" he asked, bowing.
I let him lead and we waltzed until long after the music had slowed
down and died out. Our dancing slowed too, eventually, until we were
just standing there holding onto each other. Draco led me over to his
bed and kissed me.
That night I was brave. Drunk maybe, but brave. For the first time,
with trembling fingers, I touched him. Just laying my hand on that
hard, velvet warmth was nearly enough to send me over the edge. His
moans made me moan. He kissed me everywhere. His ecstasy drove me to
"I love you, Harry," he murmured over and over again, "I love you."
That brought tears to my eyes. "I love you, too," I managed to whisper.
When we went back to school, Ron and Seamus knew something was
different. I stopped trying to placate them at all. I ignored them.
They left me alone. They were afraid of me. I spent my time with Draco,
in my room or in his. We still studied sometimes, but our need for each
other only seemed to increase with time. I felt lost when I wasn't with
him. He told me something to the same effect. And the words of love
were given freely. There were days when I wished I were Catholic so I
could have had someone to confess to. As it was, I resigned myself to
fire and brimstone in favour of earthly pleasures. I didn't care. I
would have gone through Hell a thousand times for Draco. I still would.
It was raining the day we got the news. Looking back that seems so
appropriate. I was spending a few weeks at Malfoy Manor before
returning to Philadelphia for the rest of the summer. We were sitting
on the porch glider watching the rain when we saw Lucius riding up at
full gallop. My heart sank down to my heels. I knew there was only one
thing it could be. Draco did too because he grabbed my hand and
squeezed it hard.
Lucius broke the news to us gently, kindly not looking at our clasped
hands. Despite the fact that I'd been expecting it, knowing that it was
really true weakened my knees. When Lucius had gone into the house I
threw my arms around Draco, unable to keep the tears from escaping my
"What side are you going to fight on?" I asked him once we'd both
calmed down a little.
"You know the answer to that. I told you a long time ago." I did know.
But I had to ask
"How can you when you're against slavery?" I knew the answer to that
He got angry then. "It's not about slavery, Potter. It's about a way of
life, it's about my family and my home and my heritage, it's about a
government that's right for us and the ability for each state to keep
its identity. It was never about slavery for me, never. I should hate
you for even asking me that."
"Don't hate me, please," I said, nearly choking. "I knew all that, I
just had to be sure."
His scowl softened into an expression I can only describe as pure
sorrow. "I couldn't hate you. Not ever. Even if you have to kill me one
day, I'll never hate you."
"I'll never kill you," I said, my teeth clenched. "Even if it costs my
side everything, I won't kill you. I couldn't."
"I couldn't either," he said, smiling a little through his tears. "I
just hope we both come out of this."
"If we do, I'll never leave you again, so help me God. I don't care
what we have to do or where we have to go, but I want to be with you
when it's all over."
"So we have a deal, then." And he kissed me, neither of us caring who
saw, the rain blowing in on us and tears streaming down our faces.
That night we made love with a fierce desperation that can only be
achieved by two people who know it may well be the last time. When the
morning came, the rain had stopped. We lay holding each other for as
long as we could, whispering sweet nonsense and trying to memorise
every detail of one another. There were no tears now. We had none left.
He came out to see me off. Before I got on my horse I took my watch
from my pocket and pressed it into his hand. "Ransom," I said, and he
laughed. A sad, bitter sort of laugh that came from a sorrow-torn
throat. I kissed him one last time. "Never, ever forget how much I love
you," I whispered, once again finding tears from somewhere.
"And don't forget that I love you more," he said.
And I rode off, looking over my shoulder until even the house was just
a speck in the
The next time I saw him was not until nearly the end of the war, the
night Atlanta burned down. Exploding gunpowder illuminated the night
sky and my eyes fell on an unmistakable figure by a tree. He saw me
too, because we began to run toward each other. There were no words at
first, just sweaty kisses that tasted of earth and burnt wood. Nothing
mattered now, not the war, not the explosions, not Lee or Grant, not
anyone, so overjoyed I was to learn Draco was alive and well.
"I was beginning to think I'd never see you again," he said, grinning
"It's almost over," he said, "You're going to win."
"I don't care who wins, I just want it to be over."
"Do we still have a deal?"
"You bet your sweet Rebel ass we do."
He kissed me again. "I love you, Harry," he said, his voice thick with
"I love you too," I said, raining down tiny kisses all over his face.
He pulled me tight against him. "What do you say we run away now?"
"Right now? Tonight?"
"Why not? It's bedlam here, no one will notice. I think it means
something that after all this time I found you again, tonight of all
nights. I think it's our chance."
And I made a decision. Damn the Union, damn the Confederacy, damn all
and everyone. "All right, let's go." He grabbed my hand and we took off
running in the general direction of the coast.
I heard the shot. I felt him lurch to a stop next to me and fall. I
dropped down next to
"I'm hit," he choked out. He coughed. Blood came out of his mouth. He
didn't have long. I held my hand to his stomach to try to stop the
bleeding, but it just gushed out around my hand. He coughed again. More
blood. "I'm dead, Harry."
"Don't leave me," I sobbed.
"Can't help it," he rasped. "Forgive me?"
I couldn't answer. I just kissed him, his blood staining my lips.
Suddenly his lips stopped moving and I knew he was dead. I sat next to
him for a long time, holding him, resting my head on his shoulder, not
wanting to believe he really was gone. I looked down at him, lying
there like a broken doll, his eyes closed, his beautiful face going
paler by the second, his lips stained with blood, fixed in a
half-smile. And I considered just lying down next to him and dying
myself. But in the end, I picked him up and carried him to the
Confederate camp at the other end of the field. There was no one there
but the Chaplain. He looked terrified for a moment when he saw me,
perhaps because I was the enemy, or perhaps because there were tear
tracks in the blood on my face.
"This," I said to the man, laying Draco down on a cot, "Is my best
friend. Please take care of him." And I kissed Draco on the forehead
and left before the Chaplain could say a word to me. I didn't feel like
I'd won anything.
Into the wards of
the clean white-washed halls
Where the dead slept and the dying lay
Wounded by bayonets, sabres, and balls
Somebody's darling was borne one day.
Somebody's darling, so young and so brave
Wearing still on his sweet yet pale face
Soon to be hid in the dust of the grave
The lingering light of his boyhood's grace
Somebody's darling, somebody's pride
Who'll tell his mother where her boy died?
2004 by Deirdre Riordan. Contact me at deirdre.riordan @ gmail . com