Potter loved Draco Malfoy.
It wasn’t a quiet, soft love. It was fierce and unrelenting and made his knuckles turn white. When he looked at Draco what often burned in his eyes felt like rage and indignation and he had to remind himself sometimes that in spite of everything, in spite of the curses and the threats and the words of hatred being spat from those pale pink lips, he loved Draco. It was in those times that he was more determined than ever to love him.
Whether or not the Slytherin ever knew it wasn’t important. What mattered was that Harry knew it. Loving Draco meant that he couldn’t, surely, be the monster he had always feared, the horror responsible for that recurring flash of green light, onstage every night in his dreams.
He could not possibly be capable of becoming his worst nightmare if he loved Draco Malfoy. Because love was full of hope. Love was sacrifice and optimism and belief and faith. Love was not dirty or impure or dark. Love was what his mother had felt, what his parents had felt for him; not the sense of shame and driving anger he felt when he thought of them.
Love equaled light.
Harry Potter believed in Draco Malfoy. He saw flashes at times, in the wit, the quirk of that finely chiseled mouth, in the sparkle of intelligence and understanding in those silver eyes. He believed in him so implicitly that he was willing to die for him, in his place, because he knew that Draco was worth the sacrifice.
When he told Draco this, the Slytherin laughed, a dark, hollow chuckle that gave Harry goosebumps. He took his wand and illuminated the cup he’d just given Harry to drink. Poison. But you warned me, said Harry, firmly staving off his worry, spurred on by the luminous cast of Draco’s eyes. His gaze was sober, emotionless as he looked at Harry; and at the moment, even with him holding the poison in his hand, Harry wanted to brand him with kisses, wanted to sear him until he burst into flames.
“I will kill you, you know. I will let you kill him—that is your destiny.” He spoke softly and calmly, like an old friend breaking unpleasant news to him, as though the sounds of gentle sympathy could fill in all the gaps between the words themselves. “You will kill him, and then I will kill you—for that is mine.”
“Do you hate me that much, then?” He knew the answer before he asked. He hated himself for asking, and for responding when Draco kissed his lips until they were swollen and constantly parted for more.
“Oh, Harry,” came the reply, murmured an eternity later. “I don’t hate you. I’m doing you a favor. You’re going to kill Voldemort”—it was a whispered command—“and then—”
“—And then what if you can’t kill me?” Harry moved into him, bringing them chest to chest, forehead to forehead, Draco’s breath scalding his skin. “What if you can’t bring yourself to do it?”
“Then you’d better hope, Potter,” spoken into his mouth, eliciting an inaudible moan because no one had ever dared brush sentences against his lips like so many sweet kisses, “that I can.” This time Draco’s moan matched his own. “Because no one—no one, Harry—will ever hurt you as much as I do, as much as I can—while you live.”
In the recesses of his mind Harry realized that he knew Draco was right, and that in spite of this fact, he loved Draco still.
Suddenly, finally, he understood. Love was not pure or light or good. Love was darker than anything. Darker even than Harry himself. His efforts were worthless.
And so he took Draco’s mouth in his and kissed him back, hard, drawing blood from the urgency he felt to have more, as much of him as he could get. The Slytherin responded, then drew back, but eventually gave in, and gave himself to Harry. Harry took him until he was spent, trapped in Harry’s arms with nothing left to give. Harry found that he liked it that way, and though the luminous cast of Draco’s eyes when he pulled away at last had lost a bit of its confident glint, Harry found that he liked the wariness, the fear in them, almost more than he did the assurance.
“I appreciate the favor. Allow me to return it,” he whispered, pulling the Slytherin close into a deep kiss. Draco locked eyes with him for a moment, and then nodded, responding with undue strength; and his kiss was hungry even as Harry murmured the words into his mouth, the most intimate way he knew how.
He felt the magic tingle between their lips for a moment before Draco’s went slack and lifeless. Harry looked into his eyes, mentally cursing the flash of green that for a moment kept them from locking, and when he looked again after the colors had cleared, he was satisfied to see that Draco’s eyes were still bright, almost too bright, and shining. They seemed to Harry full of understanding and warmth.
Perhaps love was light after all.