The Rivalry by Pseudonymous Entity
"...a good love is one that casts you into the wind, sets you ablaze, makes you burn through the skies and ignite the night like a phoenix..."
Rivalry. Noun. Competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field. Synonyms: opposition, antagonism, jealousy.
Main Characters: Draco Malfoy. Harry Potter.
Warnings: Moral Ambiguity.
Got Questions? Put them in your review! If I can I'll answer them.
AN: It took me a minute to get back into the voice and style of this story. I hope the new chapter does not disappoint for anyone still following this story. Please do note that a rewrite has been in progress for a little while now and posting of the chapters for that story will happen in the future if you are interested. As a quick recap: Harry made Draco his blood brother, Dumbledore has a behaviour modifying cuff on Harry, Harry tried to kill himself, Draco discovered the cuff and now comes the fallout.
Ever Yours, Pseu
"The moth don't care when he sees the flame, he might get burned but he's in the game
And once he's in he can't go back, he'll beat his wings 'till he burns them black
No, the moth don't care when he sees the flame, the moth don't care if the flame is real
'cause Flame and Moth got a sweetheart deal
And nothing fuels a good flirtation like Need and Anger and Desperation..."
The Slytherin world of hidden interactions and communication may be too subtle for others outside of the house to understand or fully appreciate. Within that world, however, silent thunderstorms and crashing waves swept through with the smallest of humble actions.
When Rene entered the common room after his only class that night he was struck by the invisible assailing of something. Something happened. He walked through the room content in his ability to be disregarded. A cowardly half-vampire first year...what could possibly be interesting or threatening about him? Now he wadded through the room and over to the right-sided hearth and stood in the shadows cast by its light, listening and watching.
Not for the first time Rene was acutely aware of his unique position within the house. It was hard in the beginning, wit vampires being such tactile and affection creatures with their clans and sires, to be dropped in the middle of a large group of students that were his new clan and yet so apart from them. He never knew quite the right thing to say or do around the human, and the other dark creatures were ambivalent at best. But for Draco of course. And ever since he'd stumbled upon Draco and Harry Potter's hiding place on the seventh floor the Gryffindor twins had taken to greeting him when they passed in the hall. A development which brought no end of lazy speculation from his housemates and even those of other houses who happened to see them. The Weasley Twins were known for being...eccentric, and so it wasn't anything taken seriously or looked at too closely.
It occurred to Rene that was a great deal going on at Hogwarts that the students at large knew nothing about. Things they could never guess. Friendships and alliances and meetings that they would never predict or understand. How easily they all trotted along with the juvenile expectation that the world was what they had been told it would be and that the people around them were what they at face value appeared to be. If Rene had thought that way he never would have allowed Draco to help. He would never have trusted the new Archivist Percy Weasley to chaperone him in the halls from time to time and thus would not have stumbled upon Harry Potter.
A boy who defied all expectations. A Lion with a tongue as silvery as Draco's eyes when wanted it to be, a wide crooked smile and accepting by Vampires, willingly agreeing to illegal potion-making for the good of fellow students he'd never met before, fearlessly walking the halls at night with the Slytherin Prince.
So many things hidden in plain sight.
What could have happened so blatantly as to have everyone so riled up? Or the Slytherin equivalent of riled. Immensely curious and expectant perhaps.
The wall which served as an entrance into the den of the cunning and ambitious slid to the side. The response in the room was immediate. Every ear and eye fixated on the two individuals stepping across the carpeting Attentions warred between the Slytherin prince with his hands casually placed on and directing the student he was with and said student himself, a Gryffindor who carelessly allowed the physical expression of trust and ownership.
No one was bold enough to even murmur their anxiety at such a display, at least in no place louder than the thoughts within their own minds. The unsaid unspoken knowing that the Malfoy heir was dangerous and that there was power in his touch. That he could reveal the most terrifying and miserable feelings in someone else simply looking them in the eyes, nevermind bring them to their knees in crippling melancholy and despair through the barest touch. Then, there, the Boy Who Lived, walking beside their prince, allowing his touch against his bare skin. No fear, no revulsion,n sign of unease. The boy was not stupid enough for anyone to believe he didn't know a need for caution in that regard was warranted.
The both of them covered in scrapes and bruises and seeming as if they'd only just escaped a windstorm.
The Gryffindor was wide-eyed and unfocused, content to allow Draco to manoeuvre him into a seat near tot he right-sided hearth, not far from Rene. With this viewpoint, the small vampire could see the gentleness their prince used with the other boy, how carefully he seated Harry and how intently he studied him afterwards. Silver eyes surveying the Gryffindors entire body. What he looked for Rene didn't have a chance to know.
As Draco turned to walk away Harry's hand shot out and grasped his cloak. Draco stilled and tilted his head to look down at Harry. Two intense moments of silent conversation passed, then Draco gave one slow, reassuring nod. "You are safe."
Silver eyes locked onto Rene, spying him somehow in the shadows. "Stay with him." Waiting just long enough to confirm Rene was moving in Harry's direction, Draco turned and crossed the middle of the room.
Students skittered out of the way, keeping their eyes on him and their backs away from him. No one moved to question him or halt his progress. No one dared. For what could have happened to bring this anomaly about? An inappropriate moment of smug superiority filtered through and out of Rene at the thought, for he, of course, had already known that Harry Potter of Gryffindor and Draco Malfoy of Slytherin found themselves in one another's company more often than not.
None of those interactions had anything to do with house rivalry or loathing.
Rene kneeled beside Harry's feet and watched him. He did not look around the room to see where he was or even whom Draco had entrusted his safety. Whether or not the Gryffindor felt the stares and questions held by the Slytherin students went unconfirmed. He made no motion to speak or acknowledge anyone else. He was exhausted, Rene noted. A terrible scrape was red hot and angry across one of his cheeks. Did someone attack them? Was he cursed? Draco neglected to bring Harry to the hospital wing nor to the Gryffindors or even to their secret place. Something big was going on, something that required an audience of Slytherins and the exposure of their closeness. Something a simple visit to the hospital wing or the help of Gryffindors (if any of them outside the twins would be willing to have something to do with Harry at the moment) or the aide of a fully trained and sympathetic wizard like Percy.
Something requiring cunning and patience.
"Are you okay, Harry?" Rene whispered.
Harry looked at him and Rene lost his breath. Not that was something to be concerned about as a vampire, breathing was hardly a necessary to existence habit, this, however, was an emotional reflex and quite fitting. Harry's eyes were dull and deep and fragile. No answer was forthcoming and none was needed. It was there in his face and in the way he held himself.
Harry Potter was not okay.
So Rene was left to pat his shoulder award and unsure, not knowing how to help and having never tried to comfort a human before. Thoughts raced through his mind but nothing that could explain the events unfolding before the vampire. Something bad happened. But what? Seeing Draco leaving a privacy ward containing Nicolae Rosier and most of the sixth and seventh years, silver eyes already fixed on Harry, Rene knew that whatever had happened Daco would soon take care of it.
Draco reached them a moment later, this time flanked by Blaise Zabini and a fourth-year boy with spiked up hair Rene had seen before but did not know. At the entrance, two large boys stood guard and the stragglers were being herded into the common room from the dorms and showers, carefully arrange not by year but by family tries and affiliations. Something important was going on.
"Rene, I will need to speak with the house will you follow me and stay with Potter in my dorm until I return for him?"
Rene nodded and followed along behind Slytherin and Gryffindor princes, into the dorms leaving the others to whatever announcement awaited them. Someone would tell him what he missed, he knew. Just as he knew the students' minds would be flooded with questions. After all, not everyone had gotten to see the relationship between the two older boys the way Rene had. It may have come as something of a shock. Hopefully, their Slytherin senses would be quickly returned to them and they would remember that not everything you saw in public held true behind closed doors.
They see no one else on their way to Draco's rooms, everyone must have already gone to the common room. Zabini and the other boy stopped just inside the hallway and played guard.
Draco guided Harry through a door and had him sit on the only bed. He glanced over him then turned and bent down to meet Rene's gaze, voice soft and serious. "I don't know how long it will take but I will come back. Until then you are not to open this door for anyone else, no matter who they are or what they say. Can you do that for me, Rene?"
"No one will get in," Rene promised.
Draco was halted from leaving by Harry rising to is feet and putting a hand of Draco's shoulder. More aware in this moment than he had been his entire time in the common room. "Why are you-"
His voice faded away as Draco took the wrist of the hand which held him, brought it down and pushed up the sleeve. There a leather bracelet of some kind was affixed to Harry's arm and around it, the skin was almost blistered in texture. Draco squeezed the wrist he held and brought it up to hold between him and the Gryffindor. They both looked at it and then at each other.
"I don't like other people touching my things." Draco stared into Harry's face. "I can never count on them not to break them."
Harry looked wistful. "Going to add your name to the list of people trying to fix me?"
To Rene's surprised Draco pulled the Gryffindor forward and wrapped an arm around him tightly. "I don't know how to fix things. But I can help you hold your pieces together until you decide what shape you want them in."
He left them then, shutting the door and no doubt sealing them in. Harry stood where he was left for several minutes as if he could see through the door and the stone and follow Draco's progress back to the common room. Rene took that time to wonder whether he'd accidentally been privy to a declaration, then decided against asking. Harry had been through enough that night, whatever it was that had happened. He could be patient and watchful and find out later.
Harry dragged his eyes from the door and sat on the bed, hands folded and gaze on the floor. The brace stood out on his arm and he didn't seem interested in covering it up again. "What do you think he's up to?" Harry asked.
Rene's first instinct was to reassure Harry that Rene didn't know enough to come up with an answer. Then, on second thought, he knew Harry wasn't the sort of wizard who cared if Rene was honest. "I think...he aims to cause such a loathsome and heavy a misery upon the ones causing you pain that none other will dare entertain a similar notion."
Harry looked up at that, a small smile in place. "Isn't that something? Stupid really. My whole life I've been learning how to die. Why should it matter the cause or the moment? Not worth the aggravation."
A fierce protective feeling rose p in him then. An angry coil of unidentified feeling that demanded access to the ones who had the audacity to make Harry, kind and welcoming Harry, feel as if his life hardly mattered seriously regret that decision. How dare they make him feel that he held no worth!
Rene did not tell Harry that he was wrong.
He didn't tell him the look on Draco's face when had held him was nothing but fire and fury, or that Slytherins took oaths of protection and declarations of affection or friendship quite seriously. He didn't tell Harry that whomever or whatever was causing him his distress had no idea of the storm coming their way. That he would soon have the entire Slytherin house at his back or that some creation of vengeance was being planned and put into motion in the common room as they sat there.
Let the Gryffindor be naive in the burning, possessive and consuming loyalty that encompassed Slytherin relationships for a few minutes longer. And let the old Gods have no mercy upon the poor wretch or wretches responsible for the fragile shadows in Harry's eyes.
Draco certainly wouldn't.
Thoughts, Questions, Theories and Limericks always welcomed.
AN: Rene's POV showed us a glimpse of the coming fallout. As for Harry, poor thing really has no idea the lengths a Slytherin will go to protect what they consider theirs. One dares not imagine the fearsome, underhanded and dramatic lengths a Malfoy might go to...
Ever Yours, Pseu