Take a hike to Start
Braid the whips of the Willow, the last most recent ingredient.
Stroll slowly to next, Platinum; there's no real hurry.
"Stupid brat, Potter. Open your stupid mouth, twat! Here--do drink what Granger's offering you! Do you a wonder of good, stoopid!"
That was Snape's voice, whiplash of old, and Draco came to, blinking, only to take in the sights of Poppy Pomfrey and Hermone Granger stationed protectively on either side of the cot situated next to his. Why Severus had been reduced to using the word 'stupid' repeatedly, when his vocabulary of insult was both rich and vast, Draco couldn't fathom.
Something must be terribly wrong.
And he...he was lying prone in a bed in the old Infirmary, and 'stupid' Harry was hacking away next to him like a bloody TB victim, and the surprise of it all--the discontinuity--had Draco choking and gasping in reaction as he sat bolt upright, hands flailing at the mattress for balance.
Weren't they dead? Last time he'd looked they were dead. Nearly so, at least, and with no end in sight. No help for it.
"What—what the fuck?" he asked querulously of the antiseptic air. "Potter?"
"Oh! Harry!" Hermione squealed, turning to stare at Draco with a huge smile scrolling across her weary face. As if he were a sight for sore eyes or something like. "Look who's back with us again!" The goblet jerked in her hand and Draco, peering, could just make out Harry's eyes go wide in shock as spilt liquid slopped down his gown.
"About time, I'd say," Snape grumbled nastily from his station over the mantle. "Stupid recalcitrant little twat. Go on with you then, Potter. Take your potion and be grateful for it, you obnoxiously hardheaded prick!"
Draco parted his lips; he'd questions, many of them, but they were doomed to be dammed up in his swallowing throat by mere circumstance. Everyone began to speak at once. And Weasel tumbled abruptly through the room's tiny hearth on a gust of sparks and came up tousled and ruddy-cheeked.
"Oi! Harry! Malfoy!" he exclaimed, wiping ginger hair from his eyelashes distractedly. "They just Owled me—you alright, then? Where's the fire, mate? What's going on?"
"Now, Mr. Malfoy, you, too," Pomfrey bustled over, ably ignoring the hubbub, a goblet in hand. "Drink this right up; your throat's likely still raw." She thrust a matching potion at him but Draco had had enough, thanks.
"Enough!" He shoved it away, batting her hand back from his frowning face and muscling--in a wobbly sort of manner--his way out of bed. "Enough, I say. Take yourselves off, you lot—Madame Pomfrey, you too! I'm sorry but I require a word with stupid Potter, here. Now!"
"Oh-ho, now the other brat twigs it," Snape sneered. "Took you long enough, stupid godson."
"You too, Severus!" Draco snarled, wild-eyed, his hair tossing as he sent a wicked glare to the mantle. "Or I'll hex your painted nose with painted warts like you wouldn't believe! Out! All of you—out!"
There must've been something rather dangerous to him--the lingering streaks of oily smoke, the red glint to his grey eyes, the wildness of his uncombed hair, mayhap--that produced results. They all shut it abruptly, at least, even Weasley. And stared at him owlishly, as if he were a starving Nundu, suddenly let loose on the lawns of Hyde Park of an innocent Sunday afternoon.
He stalked—best as he could, garbed in a hospital gown and with knees like aging elastic bands—over to the bedside of the miscreant and glared down at him, scowling masterfully. A dirtied blond brow was lifted; just one jerk upwards but it spoke volumes.
"Um," Harry said, quietly enough, smiling up at him hopefully. "Hiya?"
Everyone else, even Snape, scuttled off. Vaguely, Draco heard the door slamming shut behind them as they hopped it and the swish of painted robes regally exiting the plain dark frame Severus preferred when in residence at Hogwarts. Someone must've shifted the frame to the Infirmary; Snape normally dwelt with Headmistress in the fastnesses of her office, where they no doubt spent their hours discussing the vagaries of students. But...that wasn't of the slighest importance at the moment, no.
Draco stuck an accusing forefinger out, waving it directly under Potter's nose. It shook a tad, yes, but he ably ignored that tiny show of weakness entirely in favour of beetling his brows in a stern no-nonsense way and squinting his uncommonly dry eyeballs at Potter. 'Stoopid' Potter!
"Explain yourself, imbecile! Why the fuck did we nearly die? What were you thinking?" he demanded, almost shrieking, his teeth so tight together they nearly cracked. "Tell me! Tell me now, you prat, and don't try to fudge anything, either!"
Harry blinked up at him, no specs perched on the brdge of his nose to hide his guileless gaze, not a wisp of an idiot grin in sight. All gone, like magic.
"Oh, brilliant," he remarked instead. "Your hair's alright. I admit I was just a little worried about that."
"Fuck my hair, Harry!" Draco roared. "Explain yourself!"
He sat on the bed (or collapsed there, really) and grabbed both of Harry's shoulders, hard and biting, and proceeded to smile down at him in a very nasty way.
"Explain yourself, you fucking annoying headstrong little fuck-for-brains, or I'll skin you this time, truly and well—flay you, Potter, and then shag your contrary arse into this stupid cot when I'm done with murdering you!"
Harry grinned at him. The smile was duly returned, in all its saucy glory. "I...could do that," he allowed sweetly. "Be shagged now." Blinked innocently as a bleeding cherry pie and nodded happily, as if Draco had stopped by for tea and a friendly chat and wasn't breathing fire and brimstone down the front of his flimsy, potion-soaked robe. "It'll be sticky, though, after."
"Your hair, Draco. If I come in it, it'll be sticky."
"Oh-my-bloody-gods, Harry!" Draco didn't even bother to raise his hands to gain a better hold; he merely shoved them behind Harry's back and lifted the whole of him bodily off the massed lump of pillows, gathering as much as he could manage close and then closer yet. "My gods, Harry! I thought I'd really lost you, finally—I thought we'd die!"
"Oh, no," Harry's voice was muffled by Draco's shaking shoulder. "Not that. A little hotter than I expected, that whole experience, but I believe it did the trick. Hermione was just telling me. She thinks so, too."
"What trick?" Draco howled. "What in blazes are you getting at, Harry? Where was this stupid trick you speak of?"
His voice cracked--he really was raw-throated, as if he'd swallowed a whole cauldron of Floo powder, but he shunted that aside in favour of giving Harry a little shake, one that rocked that stupid smoke-scented empty noggin upon its thyme-basted stem. Gods, but Potter smelt so sodding delicious, even singed 'round the edges! Draco was forced to shut his burning eyes for a tedious moment to regain his precariorus composure.
"It was trust, Draco," Harry replied easily enough and snuggled instantly into Draco's neck, shifting his jaw sideways so his still-chapped lips brushed gently across Draco's damp Adam's apple. Slicked from stupid teardops, because the little git was all at once sobbing away barmily; great wracking heaves he couldn't seem to control. "Just…trust," he sniffed, eventually. Though a mystified Draco carried on with rubbing away at Harry's crumpled together person even after the wee storm was ended. "...We'd forgotten, you know."
Draco blinked his confusion, momentarily speechless...and then blinked faster when Harry's silly hair brushed at his eyelids. Which were also somewhat damp, oddly.
He'd not thought of anything like—been horribly, excruciatingly afraid instead, busily being terrified in place of any reasonable thinking—and worse even than the Fiendfyre. Worse even than Harry walking away from him, down that goddamned bleak Ministry corridor—he'd believed only that it was truly ended. Extinguished, as they would surely be.
Had surely been. Perhaps, somewhere, somewhen, they were.
"Explain!" he gasped, wrestling with far too many thoughts, all clamouring absurdly inside his spinning grey matter, and fought nobly, too, against the girly tears that wouldn't stop and the snot that had arrived out of nowhere to clog his flaring nostrils. "How can you even say? Harry!" He panted, breathless, and tightened his many-fingered grip on Harry to the point of pain. The hum of blood in his ears, it rang along every nerve ending, jangling. He needed--so needed--it to cease. For the world to make even a modicum of sense again. "Please, oh please, Harry—explain yourself! What happened to us? Why aren't we goners, Potter?"
"All that time, y'see, we forgot something," his lover mumbled into Draco's collarbone obligingly. "The most important something, Draco," Harry repeated, ever so softly. "In the beginning, luv." He pressed a little kiss under Draco's earlobe and made himself fully at home within Draco's steely unforgiving grasp. "Way back when, y'see. Why it ever happened in the first place—we'd forgot."
"What?" Draco demanded, not comprehending. "What was that, you stupid arse? What was so sodding important we had to nearly die to achieve it, Harry?"
Because he couldn't get himself over it, not by crook nor stile, how close they had come to losing it all. All the scraps of precious memory, all the shards of deserved pain, all his lovely life—their lives—they'd constructed, piecemeal and patchwork, in between times and around and behind times. His real life—the one he had with Harry.
"Just, just—why?" He couldn't get close enough; would never be close enough. "Why fire, Harry?"
"Trust," Harry whispered again, as if that one small word was sufficient.
"Trust?" Draco couldn't quite believe it—did Harry think he was a fool? To be put off so easily? Complex magic; tricksy stuff, fiddling about with time, and Snape staring disapprovingly over their shoulders every time they went about it. Carping at them; advising them. "Trust!"
Every time they were forced to, because it turned out Harry hadn't been able to live either, not in a world that didn't have Draco in it.
"Trust," he growled darkly. "As if that were ever a question for me, pinhead! Of course I trust you! I've always trusted you! I've wanted to trust you, you cad, you gormless git, and I did!"
Harry shifted enough to peep up at him, gaze glimmering warmly, and grinned like a loony-bird. The fool.
"And me you too, Draco. But…we had to prove it. No one gets 'round the Goddess without a little bloodshed—or worse. And…and, well, we did. We did." Harry's reedy whisper—all that noxious smoke and heat must've damaged his lungs a bit, which only had Draco holding him all the more closely—was triumphant. Gleeful. Satisfied.
"So. We did," he echoed flatly. "By being burnt to a crisp, Harry? That's what it took?" He pulled a flatly disbelieving face at his captive idiot, curling a sour lip. "Bah. Thestral feathers, Potter."
"We weren't burnt, Draco," Harry chided immediately, yanking feebly at him, so that Draco found himself sliding and elbowing his way onto Harry's narrow cot mattress--and Harry, too, naturally. Harry shifted amiably to allow it, wrapping his bared arms 'round Draco's middle in the process. "And we didn't die—obviously. Dummy. But we did manage to reset the clock. The right way, finally. The way we should've done, from the start."
"The children? Harry, the children!" Wrenching his person up and away, Draco almost bolted for the Floo right then and there. Scorpius! His son! And his son's child, on its way, carried in the surrogate belly of Amethyst Zabini-Malfoy--ohgodsohgodsohgods--Merlin! "They're—they're?"
He could not bear to hear--not to learn--not this way. Please no, Merlin!
"Harry!" Draco was hyperventilating; yes, really, he was, and Harry, that toothsome little prick of plebian get, was only patting away ineffectually at his too-taut spinal cord and rigid nape, as if he were all of three years of age and suffering from the aftereffects of a nightmare and Harry was playing at being Mumsy and—and—
"No. It's fine." Harry was firm; Draco sagged to hear it. "All's well, Draco—everyone's here, every single one of us as we should be. We didn't lose anything at all, not this time. And—and this is the best thing, Draco!—we won't. We won't. It's done."
"Done?" Draco blinked away tears of relief, rubbed his drippy nose against Harry's comforting shoulder. He'd slumped there, swamped by huge relief. "All...over, then?" Grateful as all get out. It was never so good as to be safely home. Never. "How d'you mean, done? We--you--Snape!"
"You never let me go, did you? And I didn't let you go, either?" Harry asked of him, and it must be rhetorically, because how could he have? Couldn't even imagine it, leaving Harry go. "No, of course not, right? Draco?"
"Idiot," he snorted, snuffily, wishing most heartily for a convenient handkerchief, and then wordlessly Charming one into existence as a muzzy afterthought. "Stupid-head." He blew his nose, somewhat awkwardly, and Harry then snatched the kerchief and mopped the remainders up before Vanishing it, snot, charred smears and all. "As if I would ever!"
Harry grinned at him. He'd not stopped with that, not really, not since Draco had come to his side, drawn like iron filings to a magnet. Even when he'd been sobbing his brains out into Draco's ash-laden hair, he'd been stupidly grinning. Draco smiled in return, because he simply had to. Didn't bother berating himself for it, either, as it felt so very nice. Now.
"Go on, then. Spill, Potter," he requested, indulgent.
"That was it, you get it?" Harry shugged a casual shoulder, exposing it as the weedy hospital gown slipped mostly off. "The key. The missing ingredient—the one even Severus didn't realize existed. Intangible, yeah? But. Trust."
"Bullshit, Harry!" That almost had Draco upright again, but then again, his position of sprawl was far too comfortable. Still, he felt he could object safely enough from within the warmth of Harry's embrace. He huffed a sigh, nipping Harry's smooth bicep in passing retaliation. "Can't be that easy--that stupidly obvious. I've trusted you all along, Harry. Don't dare say I haven't!"
"No, you didn't, Draco." Harry was very blunt about it. "And neither did I, not for the longest while," he continued, matter-of-factly. "There was no reason we should've, really—and you. You're mixing things up now, you know. Gotta keep the threads straight, Draco. S'important."
"I am not!" Draco bit Harry again—well, just a nibble, really, but Harry's neck was delightfully salty and he craved the salt. He was parched of it. He must be quite dehydrated, still. "Not I, git!" he squawked, licking Harry's skn with a tongue dry as a weathered bone. "I've always kept all the strands of this stupid tangle clear in my mind, Harry. I was the one who sorted it all out in the first place, wasn't I? I made charts, damn it all! Granger was only bloody incidental--and much later in on the game, Potter. You know that."
"Not saying you weren't, prat, " Harry replied comfortable, "or that you didn't, either. Only that we both forgot—and we were both influenced by everything that should've happened—and what did actually happen to us and what didn't. Couldn't help ourselves, likely. Nature of it. But, no—trust was still the key to it. It's really very simple when you think. yeah? Obvious, like. Even Snape said."
"How?" Draco demanded, and let himself slide into an even cosier heap. He was horny, as he was growing to realize, but he was also immensely tired. Shagging, lovely as it would be, could wait just a bit longer. "How so, berk? Explain yourself, as I keep asking you to."
...and Harry did. Or rather, he began to, but they both drifted into exhausted sleep before he reached anywhere near the end of it. Which was no matter, really, Draco decided after. Assuredly Granger-Weasley (she was always 'Granger-Weasley' now, right?) had it all noted down somewhere. And, as for him, he couldn't bring himself to bother all that much over the finer details of what amounted to a Potion mixup...and ruddy foul note-taking efforts on the part of a long-deceased Professor--not now.