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Twenty Years, Standing Tall

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June 5th, 2000

"So. This is not going how we - you - pictured it," Draco told the headstone.

It was five weeks after Vincent would have received a large amount of money from his great-grandmother, having made it through life and the world and his first three years as an adult.

"I suppose if you can hear anything I say at all, you already know. But, just to make sure. In case you were occupied.“ Looking in on Mrs Crabbe in Azkaban, or something. “Greg and I are going."

The first time Vincent had mentioned it, the year before they all went to Hogwarts, Draco had laughed at him and Gregory had followed suit. Vincent had let the subsequent change of subject slide, as he always had and as had, in Draco's eyes, been appropriate. But he'd brought it up again the next year, and the next. By the time Vince had turned seventeen their world had been sufficiently bleak that a trip to see the Northern Lights had no longer seemed to be the silliest dream to have.

Leaving Britain and indulging a ten-year-old's long-lasting whim would have meant they'd survived.

"We'll all of us go, first week of November." Not that her age really mattered to anyone but old Lady Ernestine, but Astoria Greengrass would have turned twenty by then. Daphne wouldn't come without Astoria, according to Millicent. "Our former Headmaster approves."

Not that he could ever divulge this to any Slytherin other than Vincent. Two years after the war, and lives still depended on his keeping secrets.

"Speaking of secrets," Draco said and stopped picking at the dried flowers someone - maybe Greg, possibly Winky - had left at the grave. "Neville and I are going to a Muggle club tonight, if you can believe it."

The headstone was silent, as accommodating as Vincent to a Malfoy subject change.

"It's a place somewhere in London where the 'Heroes of Hogwarts' go when they want a night out without being gawked at by random wizards. Today's a Monday, so who knows, but there's a high chance that Potter and his friends are going to be there."

Thinking of Potter and Vince in the same breath was -- but what Draco wanted to say wasn't really about back then.

"He's never lied to them about our relationship. If they've paid any attention to him since the War ended - and they have - they at the very least have an abstract knowledge of our friendship." But even though it would merely be in Muggle-public, this would mark the first time they would truly appear in public together-together.

They'd wear nice - if strange and Muggle - clothes. They'd dance together. Maybe even kiss. There would be no misunderstanding what was between them. And Neville's friends would see.

“I’m terrified,” he admitted as he never could have had his friend been alive. “Lovegood has forgiven me, Ginny Weasley tolerates me, Finnigan has proven that he’ll follow Neville’s lead and I’ve never trusted anyone like I trust Neville, and he believes we’ll be alright, and I’ll go, for him and for me, I want to go,” it hadn’t even taken Neville the better part of a decade to convince him, “but I am terrified.”

Unbidden, he recalled Lady Ernestine's words as she had agreed to allocate he and Millicent Vincent's would-have-been inheritance. Making it to twenty is a feat in any day and age, it deserves a reward.

The headstone offered no judgment. Draco felt calmer for having let it all out. “Yes,” he said. “And should it go poorly, I shall simply remind myself that I’ve already won Augusta Longbottom’s support.” There would be no need to imitate his parents and relocate to France.

If it went well... If it went well, he might entertain the possibility of maybe, at some point in the future, reintroducing Neville to Greg.