AN: Lots of internal monologue this chapter. Hope you don't mind. It just felt right. it is rather short again, i promise next chapter will be longer, i just felt like this was a good point to break it off. Sorry that I didn't include the super-angsty spectre stuff some of you were hoping for, but I really like to be realistic (heh) and I just felt that Harry would be able to control himself better than that. I promise that next chapter will be more action (yay)
Anyway, here you go

Chapter 17
The Manor

Harry was sitting next to Hermione, happy now that they were finally doing something. It was taking all of his willpower not to jump up again, but he knew he couldn't make a difference until the Aurors had plotted Draco's location.

Well, that wasn't entirely true. They knew where Draco was. Harry cringed when he thought about his outburst again, I know where he is. And worse, after that he had fainted. He had always believed Draco was the drama queen, but recent circumstances led him to volte-face that.

Still, he had seen those walls, those gates, and he had known. He might've doubted he was actually seeing the cellars of Malfoy Manor, if it weren't for the fact that he could very well remember that room that Draco had been in. That room had been the last in the row of rooms that had held Luna, Dean, Griphook and Ollivander.

But even though he knew, he was having a hard time coming to terms with it. Questions were dancing around in his mind faster than Harry could follow them. Why was Draco being held in the cellar of his own house? Didn't Mrs. Malfoy still live there too? Did Draco not know where he was? How did these men get in there? What did these men want?

Yet, even though he couldn't fathom why Draco was there, the most important thing right now, is that he was. He had told the Aurors as soon as Hermione had calmed him down a bit, and they had since been planning and whispering amongst themselves for Merlin-knew-how-long. He didn't know what the Aurors were doing exactly. If it were up to him, he would just barge in there, get Draco, and get back out. But that had always been Harry's plan of attack, in every situation: not having a plan. Having a plan didn't make any difference, because since when had any of their plans actually worked?

Sadly, the Aurors didn't share this Potter-famous frame of mind. In fact, they looked quite uncomfortable right now, as if even this was stretching it. Obviously, they were used to at least days of planning before attempting a daring rescue such as this. Maybe the thing that they appeared most anxious about, was the fact that they didn't know who they were up against. Harry was most anxious about that as well; he didn't know how dangerous these men were, how far they would go in order to get Draco to do what they wanted him to do.

And Harry had no idea what they wanted him to do. Selfishly, he just hoped these men's real price wasn't him. He would feel the guiltiest if it turned out that Draco was in this situation right now because of the Spectre. But even if he were, why would they keep Draco in his own home? Or maybe… maybe they were trying to lure Harry there, by keeping Draco in a place that they knew he would recognise. But then again, they didn't know Harry had seen through Draco's mind, had they? They didn't even know he could.

Keeping Draco in his own house… It just seemed so strange. So strange that Harry couldn't be exactly sure if what he had seen was the truth. Were these men burglars? If they were, they had a very peculiar way of robbing; keeping the co-owner of the house hostage.

On a different note, Harry was still having a hard time keeping control of his newly-acquired instincts. He knew his hair was probably quite white right now, and he could clearly see the white-blue lines of magic running along the wall, sidling in between the cracks and pouring out of the walls. It seemed this skill only appeared when he was agitated, yet he couldn't bring himself to calm down. He – a Spectre, a creature, Harry Potter – was worrying too much about his former nemesis. But that phrase – former nemesis – hadn't popped into his mind in a long time, while thinking about Draco. Instead, his mind supplied numerous dissimilar kinds of words than enemy when thinking about Draco. Perhaps friend, perhaps companion, perhaps something else. But it pained Harry to think those words, those 'something else' words. Even though Draco had agreed not to let Harry die, he hadn't exactly agreed to become his lover, and even becoming his friend seemed like a long stretch.

But Harry ached deep inside, the Spectre ached, for that companionship. It – he wanted to see Draco daily, he wanted Draco to see him, to ground him, to talk to him. Harry felt this deep-seated twinge, yet another side of him said something totally different. Perhaps the side of him that was still stuck in old Harry's mind: yes, he thought Draco was absolutely gorgeous; the nearly-white hair, the aristocratic features, those cheekbones, but still, he had never expected to feel more than physical attraction towards him, and the fact that he did so freaked Harry out a little. Already he felt like he couldn't live without this boy – this man – and he had only been on slightly friendly term with him for about a week. That was awfully fast. He knew the Spectre-side of him was the culprit of that fact, but still… what if Draco decided he didn't want to anymore? What if Draco didn't like him at all (that was actually not a distinct possibility), what if those men murdered Draco?

Harry startled at his own thoughts, and shook his head. He looked around and saw Hermione looking at him, her brown eyes seemingly wanting to bury into his head. He clenched his jaw and turned back towards the Aurors. If the intention of the kidnappers was to murder Draco, they would've done so already. No, Draco served at least some alternative goal for them, something they needed him to do, wanted him to tell, or needed him to retrieve. But Harry just wished he knew what it was. No scratch that, he wanted Draco to not be there at all. But what was done is done, and now Harry – and Draco – had to deal with the consequences.

He had no idea if Draco was trying to escape, or if he was too hurt to do so. On the one hand, Harry hoped he wouldn't try to escape. If these men were serious, he would only end up in a worse situation than he already was. But these Aurors were taking a dreadfully long time. If they didn't hurry up soon, Harry would either be forced to go by himself again (and now that he knew where Draco was being held, he felt like he had a pretty good chance to actually get him), or Draco would try to escape, with all the consequences that would entail (hopefully that he got out, likely that he got killed trying).

Still, looking at dancing and twirling light blue lines of pure magic could only entertain a guy for so long. His eyes were burning with flickering orbs, when he closed his eyes he almost felt nauseous with how many coiling ribbons his retina was so over-eager to show him. He shook his head again and glanced once again at Hermione. She appeared to realise the invasive staring wasn't Harry's deal, so instead her eyes softened and she smiled a little smile at him. Harry smiled back, tight-lipped.

Sweet Hermione, so smart, so brilliant. Harry wanted to take his time to appreciate her, but he couldn't. He knew she meant well, but in his restless state - wanting to either jump around Slughorn's office or throw open that door and run away – he found her to be too… scrutinising. She made him very itchy. Really, Hermione should become an Auror, Harry thought. She fit right in-between those two men over there, wanting to know every detail, every ounce of knowledge before making decisions. Hermione was the one that always voted for making plans, she was always the brilliant one. Harry just tagged along. No, he and the Spectre knew very well that Auror-traineeship wasn't really an option anymore. The recent developments had engorged that belief, of course, but Harry had known that he didn't really want to become an Auror anymore for quite a while now, just as he had known for some time that he definitely preferred males. Yet, he hadn't told either fact to his friends. Did that make him a terrible friend?

"Harry, what's going on?" The object of his internal monologue asked. "Do they know something yet?"

Harry hadn't told her or Ron about Malfoy Manor yet. He knew Hermione's astute mind would figure it out in one second: male, Harry is reluctant about revealing it, is being kept in Malfoy Manor… even Harry would figure it out if he were Hermione. That didn't mean he didn't feel sad about it. The secrets just kept piling up, and he could see Hermione's hurt piling up in those intense eyes. He didn't want to… but he couldn't tell her. Who knew, maybe she already knew. Or suspected. That sounded selfish, but it that were the case, at least Harry wouldn't be the one to break the news.

He didn't blame Hermione for being hurt by his secrecy. It hurt him too. It hurt Ron too, in all probability. After all, Ron's lifestyle was practically being one happy family, and after all that they'd been through, Hermione and Harry were included in that family. Which made Harry very happy, and very ashamed of his clandestineness. But he didn't want to tell them. Someday he'd have to, probably sooner than later.

Still, it was Draco's decision too. Harry couldn't just barge around telling everyone. Draco had a say too. A rather big say, actually, being 50 percent of their duo. If they even were a duo. They felt very separated, in any case, and not just by distance. But thinking that made Harry just feel all the more driven to get to know that blond-haired young man, which made him even more heated that Draco wasn't here right now, which brought him back full-cycle. Sitting in Slughorn's office, staring at two Aurors and being angry at the world.

"Yes, I told them the location," he told Hermione truthfully. "I saw it before I… well, you were there."

"I certainly was," she said.

Ron looked over – probably hearing Hermione's voice - and removed himself from the window, where he had been staring from for the last half hour, and instead settled on the edge of Slughorn's desk, facing Hermione and Harry, close enough so that they could talk in private.

"And you won't tell us where he is?" Hermione asked.

Harry started a little, the 'he' in the sentence sounding so foreign when in relation to Harry's… well, his relationship. Even so, it sounded right and a part of Harry was delighted that they finally knew the truth.

"Well," he said promptly, but didn't continue, not sure what to say or how to explain.

Ron took that as his cue. "I think you should tell us mate. It won't make much of a difference. As soon as those two knuckleheads have it figured out-" he pointed over his shoulder at the Aurors, "-we will know anyways, because you know we will come with you to get him."

Harry looked at the Aurors who were looking somewhat offended (Ron didn't exactly talk quietly), then focussed on Ron again. He nodded, feeling resigned.

Ron sat back, crossing his arms and looking quite content with himself. "Let's hear it then," he said.

"What?" Harry said. "No, I didn't mean now already…"

Ron deflated. "Why?"

"Well, I don't think I am the only one fit to make that decision," Harry answered, repeating his earlier thoughts. "Er, he gets a say too."

Ron actually looked a bit indignant now. Harry didn't even dare to look at Hermione. "But what does it matter if we'll see him anyway?! I don't understand you Harry."

And that was okay with Harry, because he didn't understand himself either. He just couldn't give himself that final push to just tell them. He wasn't sure what he was afraid of. Of their reactions, of Draco's reaction, or if he was just afraid of the truth. Draco Malfoy is my soul mate, if he doesn't practically live beside me, I die. Even in his mind it sounded stupid.

That thought brought other matters to his mind, though. The insistent nausea that had been building in his gut for the last two hours now. The headache that had been growing behind his eyes. The ache in his bones. He'd been trying not to think about it, but Ron had unknowingly aided in getting it to the forefront of Harry's mind again.

If the Aurors didn't hurry, he would be too ill by the time they would be ready to get Draco out.

Draco stood by the gate, glaring at Bryan who was sitting on the chair at the other side of the iron bars. Coward, Draco thought derisively. It wasn't like he was a real danger. Since he had stood up, his foot that the Bode guy had stomped on had hurt like hell and he was quite sure there was a broken bone in there somewhere.

Still, he felt something else. A little sliver of something in his chest. Was it hope? Draco almost didn't dare to hope, but the fact was that he had caught the ending of a string of words that the oaf Bryan had muttered to open the gate to give him a plate of food, fifteen minutes ago. It wasn't much, but Draco had caught the word porta. He knew it meant 'gate', the only problem was that there was at least one word in front of that one. And he hadn't caught that/those words.

But chance of getting out of this hell had spurred him to stand up and lay his hand the lock, and think with all his might porta, porta. Of course, nothing had happened. He couldn't do wandless magic, wasn't great at wordless magic either. But he didn't want to say it out loud, in fear of Bryan hearing him – he was sitting way too close – and then Bode changing the password. Instead, Draco stared at Bryan as if he was the only thing that gave him life, his hand seemingly only inattentively left on the lock, as a sort of bar to hold him up.

Bryan was well-trained though, and just stared back. Eventually Draco gave up and sank back down on the floor in the middle of the room. He picked up a small stone from the floor and wrote – very small and very illegible, not like him at all – porta on the grey, stone ground of his room.

Then instead of his constant mantra of porta, his tired mind slipped into a chant of Harry, interspersed with Potter. After a few minutes he startled out of his reverie, shocked with himself and his dependency.

He had never relied on people, he had always been the one people were relying on, yet in this hopeless situation, depending on someone else came as easily to him as breathing. Which made Draco feel very, very angry with himself and very afraid. How low had he gone to even think that. How hopeless was this situation right now that he would even consider banking his life on someone else.

He looked at his broken foot and had to fight the urge not to yell.

Back at Hogwarts, Harry Potter doubled over in pain.

Chapter 18 coming soon