What You Wish For.

Archiving: just ask.
Rating: A for Angst.
Pairing: Draco (and Harry, but mostly Draco), 1500 words.
Date Written: June 8, 2005
Disclaimer: Not mine.

Notes: Draco's birthday inspired everyone, it seems. Me included. And so, fic! I wrote this fic the night of Malfoy's birthday while away from a computer. When I got a chance to consult the Lexicon timeline of events on June 5, I wound up rewriting most of the fic. I am extremely grateful to those on my writing filter who read this and gave feedback for helping me iron out the resulting kinks: especially [info]cercaluna, [info]sistermagpie, and [info]reenka for crucial comments, [info]zionsstarfish for crucial comments + the new ending, which I shamelessly stole from her and Stephen Sondheim, and [info]delirieuse for the all-crucial beta-read!

This fic is dedicated to [info]zionsstarfish for constantly inspiring me, and to [info]spaggel for constantly delighting me. ♥♥


Draco celebrates his eleventh birthday by reading the invitation from Hogwarts over and over again, running his fingers over the embossed seal and rough parchment. I made it, he thinks to himself, and knows in some part of his mind, quietly tucked away, that he has completed the first leg of a long and steady journey to somewhere. He is excited about what will come next.

Draco spends his twelfth birthday drowning in humiliation, surrounded by stories of Harry Potter defeating the madman Quirrel, and whispers of something even greater. He receives a brand-new Nimbus 2001 from his father, fresh from the craft line and not even in stores yet, with instructions to put it to good use, but he is too busy griping about Potter and his blatant rule-breaking to enjoy it properly. When his friends bring out his cake at midnight, he sees Potter lying in the infirmary unconscious and blows the candles out with relish. A few days later, Potter is alive and well and walking around like the golden boy everyone thinks he is. Draco swallows his disappointment and looks on the bright side. At least, he thinks, Slytherin still has the House Cup.

Draco spends the week before his thirteenth birthday watching that giant oaf Hagrid lumber around as though he owns the place. His house is still reeling from the loss of the House Cup to Gryffindor for the second straight year. They walk with drooping shoulders and murderous glances, and no one wants to look at anyone else for too long, so great is their collective mortification. Draco himself is still reeling from his father’s visit to Hogwarts, where Harry Potter somehow managed to defeat the Dark Lord, get his father sacked and in trouble with the Ministry, and free their stupid house elf, all in one day. Everyone thinks Potter is some sort of all-powerful mage because he caught the person who opened the Chamber of Secrets, and the irritation of not knowing who opened it to begin with makes Draco long to wipe the smug self-satisfied smirk off Potter’s face whenever he sees him. Exams have been cancelled, the injured mudbloods have been un-petrified, and the Gryffindors are still walking around practically hoisting Harry Potter on their shoulders wherever they go.

The long week between the feast and the night Draco turns a year older drags interminably, as if to spite him on purpose.

When the midnight of his birthday arrives, his friends enter the dorm with a lit cake. “Make a wish,” says Pansy, and Draco blows the candles out.

Later, after everyone leaves, Draco relights them, and makes an entirely new wish.

On his fourteenth birthday, Draco is another year older. The Quidditch Cup is six weeks behind him; it seems like six minutes. The sting is constant and the remaining weeks of school stretch out before him like a gauntlet, full of daily slaps in the face every time he sees Potter, every time he catches a recriminating glance from one of his housemates, saying, You lost the Cup. Not Slytherin. You.

There is a dry, taut feeling in his stomach when he thinks about being fourteen. Three years have passed: another leg of the journey done. Another leg, and he is already tired.

At midnight he blows the candles out on his cake, and hopes that when that hippogriff gets the axe tomorrow, it screams loud enough so that Potter, wherever he is, can hear.

On Draco’s fifteenth birthday, Rita Skeeter is interviewing Draco about Harry Potter. Finally, Draco thinks, Potter will get what’s coming. He holds her very carefully in the palm of his hand, and talks for hours before he realizes that even in her animagus form she looks amused. He ends the interview in a fit by throwing her out into the courtyard, her beetle wings shimmering as she struggles to remember how to fly.

At midnight that night, Pansy gives him his first kiss. “Do you think he’ll win?” she says while Draco is holding her. He does not have to ask who she means.

On Draco’s sixteenth birthday, his father sends him a new, top-of-the-line Firebolt that looks sickeningly like Harry Potter’s, and someone with a superb sense of humor sticks a copy of that edition of The Quibbler in his Quidditch locker. ‘For your wet dreams,’ reads the note stuck to the dog-eared, larger-than-life photo of Potter. Malfoy suspects Millicent, although it could just as easily have been anyone, Potter included. Except Draco doubts Potter even knows when his birthday is.

There are OWLS in a few days, and Pansy sends him nervous glances at mealtimes, as if she knows what he feels—that they are riding out the eye of some unseen and terrible storm. Draco can feel the tremor deep in his bones, as if something dark and destructive has hold of him already, and is awaiting the moment to reach out and tip him upside down. When it comes, and it will, it will be end over end over end.

Umbridge singles him out during Defense Against the Dark Arts to wish him a happy birthday. He cannot help looking at Potter, who doesn’t glance up. Not once.

Draco is glad he has passed the age where people tell him to make wishes.

On Draco’s seventeenth birthday he corners Potter and shoves his wand against Potter’s Adam’s apple. He has been rehearsing for months—he is ready for this. They are alone because sacrifice is a private thing, and so is revenge.

Two words, and they are on the tip of his tongue the way Potter’s wandlight eyes are on the edge of his vision. He looks up at Potter’s face to watch him draw the last breath he will ever take.

“For your birthday, right?” Potter says, and his voice is still, no edges anywhere.

Draco’s eyes widen and his grip on his wand slackens a bit, just a fraction, for only a moment—but enough so that the next thing he feels is Potter’s weight against him, Potter twisting his arm painfully behind his back, Potter shoving him hard up against the wall, breath hot and steady against his neck.

“You planned this for your birthday, didn’t you,” says Potter. “Somebody up there must really hate you.”

Draco struggles and Potter wrenches his arm behind him even further. “Don’t turn your back on me, Potter,” Draco hisses, partly to ignore the pain and partly to conquer the terror that Potter will wrest his wand away and put an end to this right there and then.

“I did that ages ago,” Harry says coolly, still against his ear. “You’re the one who wants this war.”

With all his strength Malfoy shoves himself backwards; his wand flies out of his hand from the force, but Draco whirls around and thinks for a livid instant that he can send magic flying from his fingertips into Potter’s green eyes. He doesn’t realize his cheeks are wet until Potter’s expression changes.

Potter steps back, holds Draco’s gaze. His eyes are alert, watchful, unafraid. Draco wants to wring his neck, wants his hands and his will to be strong enough.

They never are, he realizes suddenly. They never will be.

“You want it too,” he gasps against the roaring in his ears. “It just doesn’t mean anything to you.”

Potter blinks. “No,” he says after a moment. “What does it mean to you?”

Draco opens his mouth, and the word there is a hopeless cross between “nothing” and “everything.” He feels his cheeks color (fabulous, now they are wet, hot, and red) and moves to pick up his wand. He looks at it, looks at Potter, and says, “Crucio.”

He has been practicing for months, and there aren’t even sparks.

He expects Potter to mock him, ask him if he’s sure he’s doing it right, or if maybe he’d like Potter to give him a few tips. Instead Potter is just looking at him.

“It only works if you want it enough,” he says. The words are redundant but they hang in the air as if they are somehow important. Draco looks down at his wand, suspended between nothing and everything and the look on Potter’s face.

“I’m sorry,” Potter says, and how he manages not to sound full of pity is a miracle Draco can’t bear to contemplate.

“Go to hell,” Draco replies bitterly.

For half an instant a smile threatens the corner of Potter’s mouth. “I think we’re already there,” he says, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Happy birthday, Malfoy.”

Then he turns his back.

Late that night Draco returns to his room to find the other 6th years have lit a cake for him and charmed it to burn without losing wax. He stares at the flame until Crabbe wakes up and sees him through a haze of sleep. "Make a wish, Draco," he murmers.

Maybe next year, Draco thinks, and blows the candles out.

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