When Draco woke up that morning, he knew. He didn’t need to check Harry’s vitals to know. He didn’t even need to open his eyes and look at him to know.
Sometime during the night Draco had woken because Harry had taken his hand. They were light sleepers both of them, these days, and Draco had given Harry a curious look.
“Are you all right?” he’d asked and Harry had given him a smile.
“I’m all right,” Harry’d answered. “I love you.”
Draco had smiled at him then. “I love you too.” And Harry had squeezed his hand and brought it to his lips and they’d gone back to sleep.
Now Draco squeezed Harry’s still warm hand and brought it to his lips. He still hadn’t opened his eyes. He didn’t want to and he didn’t need to.
He was normally an early riser, much to Harry’s chagrin, Harry who thought getting up before nine am was a crime. This morning Draco stayed in bed well past nine, well past ten and well past eleven, clutching Harry’s hand and keeping his eyes closed, thinking that maybe if he kept them closed long enough –
There was a little excited voice running up the stairs, followed by an older, stricter voice, and then they were standing in the door.
“Grand – oh – shh!” the older voice shushed the little one. “Go back downstairs!”
“But mum –”
Little feet shuffled. Draco could almost hear the pout, and then the little girl left.
“Grandpa Draco? Harry?” the woman asked tentatively. Draco knew exactly who it was – Scorpius’ eldest.
“Bastard went and died without me,” Draco said in a low voice. He still didn’t open his eyes.
“Oh...” She sat down carefully. The edge of the bed dipped behind him. “I’m going to have to summon some people,” she said quietly. “Will you let me take care of it?”
Now Draco opened his eyes. Harry looked like he was sleeping, except that he was very pale. His hand was still warm. Draco closed his eyes again, squeezing his hand hard. “Please don’t – don’t take him.”
“I’m so sorry,” she said. Draco could hear she was trying not to cry. All of a sudden he was too. “We have to.”
No matter how much Draco put his foot down he couldn’t prevent the funeral from being a Big Thing. Harry wouldn’t have wanted the fuss and Draco didn’t want to share this with the entire world. He had, however, stubbornly and perhaps childishly, dressed Harry in his favourite pullover.
And now he was sitting in a row of people and staring at a coffin that was entirely too shiny, and there was a sea of people behind him and in front of him and on every side of him. He had never felt as lost as he did right then and there.
He stood mechanically when he was supposed to, he threw the earth as was expected of him and turned to leave.
“Don’t you want to say something to him?”
Draco stopped and turned to look at the coffin. “He knows,” he said brusquely and went to his seat. He saw the looks of sympathy he didn’t want but he couldn’t muster the energy to glare at them.
A hand snaked into his, the hand of a young woman. Then the tears came. A shaky old hand came up to cover his mouth, his eyes squeezed shut and he tried to hold back the pain. His granddaughter rubbed his back as he sobbed, and Draco vaguely thought he was too old to cry. He remembered Harry telling him that one could never be too old for anything and then he cried more.
He was a miserable old man these days and much as he wanted to blame Harry, he couldn’t. They’d made silly promises to each other, silly promises they both knew they couldn’t keep, because no one was in control of life and death. But the promises had made them feel better, at the time, but now the promises were just making Draco’s chest feel hollow.
“Dad,” someone said and Draco looked up from the mug of tea he’d been nursing. The house was swarming with people and Draco had wanted nothing more than creep up to bed and go to sleep and never wake up again. Instead he’d sought out a far corner of the living room
“Dad,” Scorpius said again, laying his hand on his shoulder, and Draco forced himself to look at him. Only twenty-five years his junior, his son was also getting old. His hair was thinning and whitening, much in the same manner Draco’s own did – and was still doing. “We love him too, you know.”
And Draco looked beyond him and he saw his son’s children and their children, and Harry’s sons and daughter and godson and their children and grandchild, in one case, and he saw the entire massive Weasley branch of the family and their children and grandchildren and...everyone was here. And everyone had tears in their eyes but also warm smiles on their faces and Draco realised this wasn’t sympathy or pity; this was love.
“He died without me,” was all he could say before his voice broke. His hands were shaking so badly that his tea was spilling everywhere.
“He’ll come back for you,” said Scorpius and sat down next to him, gingerly taking the mug out of his father’s hands. “He always does, doesn’t he?”
“Yes.” Draco nodded, burying his face in his hands, hands that were spotted and dry with old age, hands that Harry had loved all the same, like he’d loved everything else about him. “But this time, he –”
“Dad,” Scorpius said softly. There were tears in his eyes. “How long did you wait for him?”
“Long,” Draco choked. “So long.”
“You have to wait for him now, all right, and I’m sure he’s not going to let you wait so long this time.” He hesitated. “You want to go, don’t you?”
Draco didn’t answer. “I don’t want to say it,” he eventually said, his voice more fragile than ever. “I love you, don’t you know?” He looked at his son and he remembered his birth and comforting him after falling off his first broom and making him tea and taking him to school and all those things that fathers did for their sons, and he felt horrible for wanting to leave him behind, for wanting to leave behind his entire family – even the Weasley branch – but he couldn’t help it.
“I know, Dad. I love you too.” He squeezed his father’s shoulder one more time. “Let’s get you a fresh tea.”
“I want to be put next to him,” Draco said when Scorpius returned with the tea.
“But of course. No one –”
“And I want – he wanted...” Draco put the mug down on his knee. “A rose tree and vines. Like Tristan and Isolde.”
Scorpius smiled. “I didn’t know you knew that story.”
“Harry’s favourite. I indulged him.” He’d meant to sound overbearing, but all that came out was a wistful sob. When had become a crying sissy? That’s right, when Harry decided to die without him. “I –”
“It’s all right, Dad,” Scorpius murmured as he held his father. It scared him how old and frail he was.
“I’m going to kill him if he doesn’t come for me soon,” Draco choked through the sobs and Scorpius laughed.
Harry didn’t come. First, days passed. Then weeks. Then the weeks became months. With every day, the wait became harder. Draco often cried himself to sleep. He often found himself staring at some trinket or other, unable to move, carry on.
He dreamed about him most nights. Sometimes they were teenagers, bullying each other, sometimes they were young, silent and insecure, sometimes they were older, happy at last and sometimes they were old, sitting quietly in their arm chairs, holding hands across the gap. He relived their entire life together – and apart – in his dreams, those nights. Every time he woke up from a dream, he refused to open his eyes, to acknowledge the fact that he was still alone.
Draco’s family visited him every day. They didn’t all fifty-seven come by every day, but someone would come. Most days it was Scorpius’ eldest and her little girl, but sometimes James would visit with his grandson. He looked so much like Harry – more than Albus, these days, as James was aging in the same way Harry had done – that it was both painful and wonderful, and Draco never knew whether he wanted him to leave or stay.
He knew they all feared for him, that he would do something stupid – by their standards, not his – but Draco knew he couldn’t. Scorpius knew too, and Draco could see both the relief and the sadness in his eyes every time he visited.
It was spring again and Draco didn’t know what had happened to summer, autumn and winter. Spring had used to be his favourite time of year, but since Harry had gone and died without him last spring, he didn’t like it much anymore. He recalled that spring hadn’t always been Harry’s favourite time of year and that it hadn’t been until his children had been born in spring that he’d started liking the season.
He dreamed of Harry, more than ever before. He dreamed that Harry had come to him, young, wearing that awfully ugly Muggle t-shirt he had so loved when he was forty-three before Draco had hid it from him, and beaming excitedly.
“You don’t have to wait long, now,” Harry told him. “I’ve been preparing everything for you.”
“Preparing everything,” Draco said and shook his head. “You’re lucky I didn’t ruin your preparations by dying of a broken heart.”
“Impossible,” Harry said, touching his chest. “Your heart isn’t broken.”
And Draco knew, in that moment, that it was true.
He cried harder that morning than he’d done in a long time.
Spring passed before Harry came back. He was grinning beatifically, the first thing Draco noticed before he noticed that Harry wasn’t only young, he was in his prime; better looking than ever, stronger than ever.
“It’s time now,” Harry said and Draco protested, looking at himself. He then noticed that he had been restored to his prime, his hands were no longer thin and spotty and his hair was strong and shiny.
“What took you so long, Potter?” Draco then asked, a delightful smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.
“Everything!” Harry exclaimed. “Everything had to be perfect for you, of course. That took some time to sort out.”
“You idiot,” Draco said softly. “Don’t you know that I couldn’t care less, as long as you’d be there?”
“I know.” Harry took his hand. “But I wanted to do it for you anyway.”
His hand felt warm and dry and strong. Draco squeezed it and brought it to his lips. “You’re forgiven. But if you ever let me wait that long again –”
Harry laughed and Draco’s insides churned. He hadn’t heard that laughter in too long. “You’ll kill me, I know.” He gave Draco a fond look. “Come on then.”
He squeezed Draco’s hand and brought it to his lips.
Scorpius made sure his father was put to rest next to Harry. No one objected, in fact, there were just as many people in attendance for this ceremony as there had been for Harry’s. He hadn’t been able to provide a rose tree and vines but as he looked at the graves a week later, he realised it was okay. Two little buds had burst free of the ground, eagerly growing up.
The following spring the buds had grown into two small trees, stretching towards each other. It made Scorpius smile, and somehow he thought it was more fitting than a tree and vines; his father and Harry had always been on the same level. Vines were so...smothering.
He liked to imagine them in the shape of their trees. As the trees grew larger and closer, and eventually touched and started curling around each other, he thought he saw two tentative boys, then brash teenagers, then the sweetness and confidence of lovers.
He was sure he wasn’t the only one.