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A New Path

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~~~

The stone glowed a bright amber luminescence and Draco’s fingers tightened as the swirling cloud gave way to an image and he leaned forward to see it better.

The doors to the Great Hall came into view and Draco saw himself standing next to the doors, his wand impatiently tapping against his leg. He pulled away from the stone, disappointed. This other Draco was obviously just waiting for someone, likely Pansy since she refused to be on time for anything.

About to set down the stone he stopped as the small version of himself in the stone suddenly straightened, a smile on his face as he looked down the corridor. Draco squinted to see who this other Draco was seeing. Harry Potter walked into view and Draco’s breath caught in his throat as he saw, instead of the expected confrontation, Harry Potter, The Chosen One, walk up to this other Draco Malfoy and start to kiss him. He watched as his own arms wrapped around Potter and his fingers dug into the riot of dark hair and pulled Potter closer. He could scarcely breathe for fear they in some way would see him watching. Not until they reluctantly pulled apart and walked into the Great Hall did he draw a shaky breath, set down the stone and watched the image of what could have been slowly fade away.

 

~~~

Seven months later...

The beech tree was perfectly situated to catch a bit of breeze coming off the lake and still provide sufficient shade from the April sunshine, which seemed determined to force the last dregs of winter away. Draco had been leaning against the tree for an hour, waiting. He’d almost chickened out three times, but the weight of the stone kept him there.

Voices carried in the wind from the castle and Draco didn’t need to turn to know who was coming down the hill. He shut the Runes textbook that he’d been pretending to read and shoved it into his bag. On the ground at his feet was the stone. It wasn’t too late, he could pick it up, slip it in his pocket and no one would be any the wiser.

Nothing changes unless you take a chance and make the change happen, Snape said in his head. Draco slung the strap of his book bag over his shoulder and took off down the path, away from the castle, away from the trio.

A weight lifted off his shoulders as he followed the path around the lake. Draco risked one glance over his shoulder. Potter was standing with the Weasel and Granger, his hand holding out something for them to see. It was done. What happened next was out of his hands.

 

~~~

He’d used the stone. Draco knew it. Knew it from the way Harry’s eyes followed him around the room as they worked with their partners on counter curses. Draco had to force himself to face away from Potter lest he give himself away. It was all in Potter’s hands now.

The question remained: What had Potter asked the stone? What alternate destiny had he seen?

 

~~~

At supper, Potter sat facing the Slytherin table. The Weasel was talking to Harry, and Draco watched them as he sipped his butterbeer. Harry turned and looked directly at him. Draco couldn’t look away as he noted the pinkening flush on Harry’s cheeks. Only when Blaise bumped his arm and handed him the plate of steak and kidney pie did Draco force himself to break eye-contact.

For the next week, he lived on edge. What if Harry had seen another future? One with Draco not in it? Draco didn’t think so though, he was keenly aware of Harry’s every move in class. Harry was watching him. The day before when they were both studying in the library, Harry had stood up and walked towards him. Draco was sure Harry was coming over to talk to him but at the last minute Granger had walked into the library and Harry had disappeared down an aisle.

The next morning Draco spilt his tea when Harry had walked into the Great Hall for breakfast with his hair actually styled attractively. Draco couldn’t not stare at Harry as he made his way to the Gryffindor table. Others had noticed the change also and there were a few wolf-whistles as he sat down. Harry’s hair was still a mad riot, but he’d used some styling potion and now it fell in intentional tousled curls that drew attention to his green eyes and cheekbones.

Draco paid little heed to the excited chatter about the change in Harry’s appearance - who Harry Potter would hook up with this year was a never-ending source of gossip - instead Draco mulled what could have motivated Harry Potter to suddenly start caring what his hair looked like, something he’d never done in the eight years Draco had known him. It had to be a coincidence. Draco couldn’t let his hopes get up. He determinedly didn’t give any indication of how on edge he was; by this time in their eighth year he was an expert at not letting his emotions show.

Having skipped lunch, Draco was the first one in the Defence against the Dark Arts classroom. He pulled out his parchment and lined up his quill and ink. When the classroom door opened and Harry walked in, Draco was surprised when the other two of the trio didn’t follow in his wake. He straightened with alarm when Harry didn’t stop at his usual seat but instead came towards Draco.

The high flush on Harry’s cheeks told him more than anything. This was it, Draco knew. He gripped his quill tighter to keep his hand from shaking. What if Harry was mad about the stone? About what he might have seen.

“You can keep it.” Draco said not wanting a confrontation.

“W-what?” Harry stammered, coming to a stop.

"The Stone of Abandoned Destinies," Draco motioned towards Harry’s hand. "You can keep it, if you want." He tried to keep his voice even, There was no guarantee that Harry had seen anything like Draco had seen, he wasn’t about to say anything that would betray his secret unless Harry gave him a hint.

Harry stared. "How did you know I had it?"

"I left it under the tree for you to find. And now you're coming over here, so I assumed you have it and want to return it."

"So you've – I mean – Have you seen things ending up…different between us?"

The quill snapped in Draco’s fist. "I have." He couldn’t look at Harry, fixing his gaze instead on the lesson written on chalkboard at the front of the room.

"Oh."

"Do you think, erm…" Harry’s voice caught and Draco looked his way, holding his breath as Harry stammered, "Do you think it's too late for us?"

"It's never too late, Potter," Draco said before he could stop himself, and was rewarded by the widening of Harry’s eyes.

The door flung open and Professor Fang strode in, a stream of parchment scrolls trailing behind her as she strode towards the desk. With a flick of her wrist she sent the scrolls to the desks. Harry grinned as he backed away from Draco and went to his desk, his hand shooting out and catching his returned essay as it flew towards him.

What had the stone shown Harry to make him grin that way? Draco wondered as he sat down in his chair. There would be no time to talk, the rest of the class was filing into the room, among them Granger and Weasley. Draco watched out of the corner as they took their seats next to Harry.

He wondered if Harry’s best friends knew anything about the stone. Unlikely, for they were ignoring him completely, like they had since the school had reopened. If Harry had told them anything they’d be glaring at him. Instead, Harry caught Draco looking and gave him another grin and Draco couldn’t help but smile back. That, Granger saw and she whipped her head around to look at Harry.

There was no more chances for stolen looks as Professor Fang started talking, drilling them on the proper use of charms to isolate cases of dragon pox.

As soon as the class was over, Harry motioned with his head to Draco towards the exit. Draco nodded and swooped up his things. He was the first one at the door, with Harry right behind him.

“Harry! Where are you going? I want to talk to you,” Granger called after them but they were already gone.

Draco hesitated in the corridor, uncertain where to go but Harry tugged on his arm.

“This way,” he said, leading Draco down the corridor to a doorway nearby. With a quick Alohomora he opened the door and they slipped inside. Looking around Draco realized it had been the classroom where the centaur Firenze had taught Divination. The trees were gone but a thick green layer of moss still covered the floor and walls and his feet sank into the spongy surface. A pungent earthy smell reminded Draco disconcertingly of the Forbidden Forest as he walked a few steps into the room and then turned to face Harry.

“So…” Harry said, a blush rising on his cheeks. “The stone.”

“What did it show you? What did you see in the stone?” Draco knew that Harry Potter would never have pulled him into an empty classroom for a chat if he hadn’t seen something in the stone. Just what he’d seen though...that was the thousand Galleon question.

“What did you see?” Harry shot back at Draco. “You said it was never too late. Too late for what?”

Draco dropped his book bag it fell with a dull thud on earthen ground. “What did you ask the stone?”

“I asked it what would have happened if I’d chosen to go into Slytherin.” Harry said, lifting his chin. “What did you-¬”

“What do you mean if you’d chosen Slytherin? The Sorting Hat decides the house you go sorted into. You’ve just been pulling my wand, haven’t you?” Draco grabbed his bag and headed for the door.”

“What? No!” Harry stopped him with a hand on his elbow. “I chose to be in Gryffindor. The Hat said I’d be a good Slytherin. I told it I didn’t want to be in Slytherin and so it put me in Gryffindor.”

Draco had never heard of the Sorting Hat giving anyone a choice. The hat had shouted out Slytherin as soon as it had been sat on his own head. But he recalled how the entire student body had been silent as they’d all waited for the hat to sort Harry Potter. At the time Draco had thought that Potter was just trying to draw attention to himself. When the hat had shouted out Gryffindor there had been a collective gasp as everyone finally exhaled; that had been quickly followed by the shouts of joy from the Gryffindor table. And it was easy to remember his own disappointment and resentment that Potter wouldn’t be in his own house.

“What was wrong with Slytherin?” Draco pointed at the badge on his robes. “Too good for it?”

Harry opened his mouth and closed it. “I…”

“It was because of me, wasn’t it?” Draco said with a rush of realisation. “You didn’t want to be in the same house as me? So why did you ask the stone what would’ve happened if you’d ended up in Slytherin?”

“I... I don’t know. I just have always wondered. I didn’t really think the stone would work.” Harry shrugged. “I definitely didn’t expect…” his voice trailed off as a flush of colour rose in his cheeks again.

“What did you see?” Draco had to know.

“Not yet. What did you ask the stone?”

“I asked it what would’ve happened our first year, if I’d ignored all the things my father had taught me and had just tried to be your friend.”

“And what did it show you?” Harry’s voice had dropped an octave and Draco felt it vibrating in his gut.

“I saw us as friends,” Draco said stiffly, unwilling to admit anything more until Harry had revealed what he’d seen. “What did you see?”

“I saw us as more than friends,” Harry shot back and Draco heard him mutter under his breath, “a hell of a lot more.”

“Oh.” Draco’s eyes flickered to Harry’s robe pocket where he knew he had put the stone during class. But Draco didn’t need to hold the stone again to remember the vision of what he’d seen himself doing with Harry.

“Yeah. So... what are we going to do?” Harry motioned between them. “You said back there that you didn’t think it was too late.”

“It is what Professor Snape told me, when he gave me the stone. That it is never too late,” Draco said.

“Snape gave you the stone?” Harry’s eyes went wide and he pulled out the stone to look at it. “We thought you must’ve bought it.” The translucent stone glowed warmly in his palm.

We? You showed the others?” Draco said, horrified at the thought of Weasley and Granger watching him and Harry.

“No. No. They were with me when I found it, you know that. I didn’t know what it was and Hermione told me. They don’t know I used it…” Harry said. “Why did Snape give it to you?”

“Because... sixth year. I was trapped. Couldn’t see a way out... And then after our fight in the bathroom and I thought I was going to die.” Draco tugged nervously at the cuff of his left sleeve, he hated thinking about that night. Remembering the feeling of lying in bed, the wound on his chest bright pink and still throbbing from Harry’s curse.

“Merlin...Malfoy– Draco. I’m sorry.” Harry took a step towards him but Draco stepped away. He hadn’t mentioned it to force Harry into apologizing.

“Snape brought me the stone that night.” Draco could still remember the flap of Snape’s cloak as he’d swept into the room. Snape had waited, glowering, for Pomfrey to leave. Only after she’d walked away had Snape sit down in the chair next to Draco’s bed. He’d pulled out the stone from his pocket and handed it to Draco. You might feel like everything is lost but it is not too late. Learn from the stone.

“And did you use it? What did you see then?”

“I asked it what would happen if I didn’t fixed the vanishing cabinet.” Draco shuddered. “And it showed me Voldemort killing my family. I didn’t touch it again, not until seventh year. Then I decided to keep asking it questions until I could find one that didn’t show me anything but darkness.” He’d known the darkness was his own death. And even now his stomach roiled at the vision of the stone going black, losing all of its natural luminescence.

“What was that?”

“I asked it what would happen if I helped you win.” Draco choked back a laugh at the memory. “I didn’t know how I could possibly do so, then...”

“When we got captured, and you lied for us.”

“Yes. And that was the beginning of the end.”

“Or the start of a new beginning.” Harry held out the stone to Draco. “Here.”

“I told you, you can keep it.”

“I don’t want it.” Harry took a step closer. “Dumbledore told me that it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. I don’t think we should be asking the stone what we should do next.”

Draco licked his lips nervously under Harry’s steady gaze. “You don’t?”

“Unh, uh.” Harry stopped a few inches from Draco. “Do you know what I haven’t been able to stop thinking about ever since I looked into the stone?”

“Uhm…”

“How much I want to do this...” Harry closed the distance between them and Draco instinctively leaned back but Harry slipped his hand behind Draco’s neck and pulled him close. They stood there, centimetres apart as they held each other’s gaze. Draco could see flecks of gold in the green of Harry’s eyes that he’d never known were there. His heart was pounding so hard that Harry had to be able to feel it. Draco had a wild impulse to ask the stone if he should kiss Harry. What would happen? If they kissed it would change everything. How were they supposed to get past what they’d done and said to each other?

Harry’s fingers were warm against Draco’s skin and Draco realised that there was no need to ask the stone anything. Kissing Harry was as inevitable as their fighting had been first year. He leaned in and Harry met him half-way. Their lips met. Tentative. Testing. Draco pulled back to see what Harry thought, half afraid to see regret, or worse, horror on his face. Instead Harry’s lips were curved in a smile and Draco dared to look up to meet his eyes.

“We should have tried this years ago. Might have saved us all those years of fighting,” Harry said and Draco reached up, gripping the back of Harry’s head, finally able to sink his fingers into Harry’s hair, the curls soft and thick as he pulled Harry to him.

There was nothing gentle about this kiss. Harry’s arm went around Draco, pulling their bodies tight against one another. And the want that Draco had hardly let himself ever fantasize about flooded through him. Harry groaned as Draco’s tongue flicked and fought against Harry’s. Tasting. Testing. Draco felt the tension ease in Harry’s shoulder as the kiss deepened. It couldn’t last forever, however, and Draco reluctantly pulled away with a last slow kiss. He felt the loss when Harry lowered his arms.

“So what did you see in the stone?” he asked Draco again.

“I saw us. Like this,” Draco said. “What did you see?”

“Us in bed.” Harry grinned at him.

“What?” Draco pulled away as his mouth fell open. “What?

Harry tilted his head as he lifted an eyebrow. “You didn’t see anything like that?”

Draco knew he was flushing bright pink. “Were we sleeping?”

A smile stretched across Harry’s face and Draco knew they hadn’t been. “No, we were really, really awake.” His gaze slid slowly down Draco’s body and Draco knew exactly what it was like to be mentally undressed. He straightened uncomfortably as he tried to imagine how they’d looked together. Maybe he should have looked at the stone more often but he hadn’t had the courage to find out if their destiny had changed again.

“Oh,” he said at last, swallowing hard. “And you still trusted the stone enough to come and talk to me?”

“At first I was sure it was a trick. Another one of your Slytherin traps... But the thing is, we looked really happy. Like we both wanted it and I wanted that. I wanted what I saw in the stone.”

“You do?” Draco didn’t believe it. “Why? And what…”

“Why? Maybe because you have been the most constant thing in my life for the past eight years. No one can get under my skin like you. You never backed down. You never treated me like Harry Potter--”

“We hated each other. How is that any different now?”

“Do you still hate me?” Harry challenged him. “Are you saying that this was all a trick?”

“No, I don’t. I haven’t for a long time,” Draco admitted. Everything had changed. He had changed. How could he have not after what he’d seen?

“I don’t either. Hate you, I mean,” Harry said. “Even before I saw what I did in the stone, I’d been...feeling different about you. I used to always to watch you to see what you were up to and this year it was because I couldn’t not watch you.”

“You did always seem to be where I was,” Draco said, folding his arms across his chest.

“Ron and Hermione used to say I was obsessed with you.”

“Pansy said the same thing to me about you.”

“Then maybe we should explore this thing more.”

“What about Weasley and Granger?” Draco said with a sudden crash of reality. “You know they hate me.”

“I don’t know what they’ll say, but I don’t really care.” Harry closed the distance between them. “What I do think is that we should explore this kissing thing some more. Make sure it wasn’t just a fluke.”