Lancashire was green. Somehow, Draco had always thought that the stony moors would be grey and forbidding, but even through the rain, it was green. Then again, this was where he lived. Things would be green for him.
He walked up to the front door, broom over his shoulder and drew his wand to signal his presence. Then he put his wand away and got back on his broom, wincing in advance. *He* wouldn't be sitting in some study or drawing room. Not him. Draco flew off to the rear of the great house, hoping to find...he didn't know what.
There was a kitchen door, propped open, and a very neat vegetable garden, with a familiar looking toad hoping around in the black mud. Even Neville would...yes. Greenhouse just past the garden, and there was someone inside. Draco dropped down onto the stone pathway and shouldered the broom again. He was about to knock on the door when he caught sight of himself, dirty and wet and worn out from the long flight. He thought for a moment about fixing his appearance, but he didn't have the energy to care. Especially since it was likely he'd be on that broom and gone.
Neville was only a few feet from the door, pruning a plant that twined lovingly around him. At Draco's knock, he turned, and his eyes widened. He then took off his dragonhide gloves and for a moment, Draco thought he was going to go for his wand. That's certainly what Draco would have done in his case.
Instead, Draco found himself dragged into the greenhouse. "What are you doing here? Everyone's looking for you! And where's Snape?" Now Neville took out his wand - all shiny and dark red - and touched Draco's robes with it. It had been so long since Draco was dry.
"We...Snape said it was safest if we split up. I don't know where he is. I didn't know where else to go." Now that he was dry and, maybe, for a moment, safe, he started to shake with nerves and exhaustion.
"Come. Sit here." Draco let himself be guided to a bench and covered with an old cloak before Neville sat beside him and wrapped him in his arms. "It's..." Neville bit back any words he would have said, and just stroked Draco's back. "Why?"
Draco had to compose himself for a moment - he couldn't let Neville hear his voice break. "It was the safest place. No one would ever suspect, and I hoped...I hoped you were right. When you said that you would never hate me." That awful day when he failed at the one task he'd been asked to do, and everything ended.
He felt a pair of lips press against his neck. "I couldn't. Because you didn't kill him, and you couldn't kill him. You're too strong for that."
"You mean weak, don't you? Weak and cowardly - a 'true' Slytherin, just like the Prophet, right?"
Neville pulled back and looked Draco in the eyes. His own were ringed with red. "I never believe the Prophet. My gran taught me better." He bit his lip, and his face grew melancholy.
"I read about her there, though. Some birthday gift. Right that night?" That's one reason he thought he'd could find haven there.
"It was like - she'd done her job. I was seventeen. She could. Quit." He shook his head. "It's...safer for you, though. There's only a couple of house elves and me. And Trevor." And then he leaned forward and kissed Draco's mouth. "Rain's slackened off and I'm done in here. Let's go to the house, shall we?"
"I'll...just stay the night, then?" He couldn't hope for more, but he did.
"You idiot." Neville drew him to his feet. "As if I'd let you go." He smiled. "You've come home, Draco."
And Draco looked into those eyes that had never lied to anyone and believed.