Everything belongs to J.K. Rowling. I own nothing.
For those who haven't noticed, this story is SLASH. If you don't like it, don't read it!
Thanks to Christa and June for Beta-reading.
Draco woke with a start, the dream still vivid in his mind. He sat up and tried desperately to analyse what had just happened. Could that really have been Harry, using the Somnio Salvus potion? Or was it just an ordinary dream? He'd only ever been the user of the potion before, never the recipient, so he had no idea what it would feel like if someone invaded his dreams.
He lay back down, facing the window, and stared at the stars glittering above the silhouette of a jagged hill. It had certainly seemed like the real Harry, and everything he had said indicated that he'd been using the potion. But even if that were the case, Draco hadn't had time to respond properly. Would Harry be able to work out where he was from one blurted word, if he had even heard it?
The flicker of hope was quickly extinguished as Draco remembered that the building was magically concealed. He wasn't at all sure that one word, shouted incoherently in a dream, would count as an invitation. Even if that had been the real Harry, it was unlikely that he would find him.
He sighed and turned on to his side. There were muffled cries coming from the other bedroom. Evidently, Bellatrix was receiving her punishment for the failed abduction. He pulled a pillow over his head to block the sound, then closed his eyes and thought about Harry. The remnants of the sleeping potion in his blood relaxed him, and he soon dozed off again.
Harry was mystified. Draco had only had time to say one word before he woke up, but instead of saying the name of a town or even a country, he had shouted the name of an astronomer who had been dead for hundreds of years.
Harry clambered out of bed and wondered what to do next. He caught sight of a pile of books on one of the large tables near the fireplace. Most of the boys had taken to working on their essays in the dorm because there was less noise than in the common room.
On top of the pile was Hermione's Muggle text book, 'How to be an Astronomer.' Harry picked it up and flicked through it by wand light until he found a chapter on the early astronomers, but the section about Copernicus told him nothing he didn't already know. He had known since his first year Astronomy classes what Copernicus had discovered. Until his work was published, everyone had thought that the Earth stood still, while the Sun, stars and planets revolved around it.
Harry slammed the book shut and sat down on his bed. What was Draco trying to tell him? Okay…so Copernicus revolutionised the way we look at our own position in the universe simply by changing perspective. He grabbed a quill and searched for something to write on.
He found a scrap of parchment in the pocket of a discarded robe and scrawled notes on it as he began to construct a theory.
Draco was trying to give me a clue; I just need to think laterally. Maybe I shouldn't be thinking "Where is Draco?" but "Where am I in relation to Draco?"He hastily scribbled down the query and stared at it. I need a formula…
He rummaged through the pile of books again until he found 'Applied Arithmancy, Level One.' He flicked through it with one hand, absently stroking his chin with the quill. It was the swan feather that Draco had given him, and somehow it made him feel closer to Draco as he searched.
Finding an equation that looked promising, he turned his parchment over to write on the other side. He made an exasperated sound as he noticed that there was already something written on it, but then he blinked twice, and dropped his quill with a short giggle of disbelief. It was the flier that Hermione had forced on him at dinner, weeks ago. He had stuffed it into his pocket and forgotten all about it. Now he read it for the first time, mentally thanking Hermione for being such a swot.
The International Standards Committee for Magical Education is Proud to present
You are cordially invited to attend the primary event in the Academic Wizarding Calendar.
Special guests include Prof. Emeric Switch, with his presentation, "Pop goes the Weasel! – Advances in Animal Transfiguration."
Also a series of lectures by the Hon. Newton Scamander, entitled "Great Balls of Fire! – Memoirs of a Dragon Researcher."
Plus our world famous Poster Exhibition (Abstracts to be submitted no later than November 15th)
Monday 18th December and Tuesday 19th December at the Copernicus Hotel, Derbyshire. Please owl Madam Jocasta Jewell for an application pack. Accommodation and Portkey transport by arrangement.
(***We also do Weddings!***)
Harry seized his cloak, his Firebolt and the compass from his broomstick servicing kit. He pocketed the flier - it had a handy map at the bottom for the benefit of those who preferred to make their own way. He tried not to think about where he might have ended up if he had continued with his Arithmancy theory.
Without a backward glance he launched himself from the window ledge, and soared away into the chilly night.
When Draco woke, a thin halo of half-hearted light was beginning to seep into the sky behind the bleak hills. He sat bolt upright and instinctively reached for his wand to perform a Tempus spell. When it didn't work, he sighed with frustration and got to his feet. He paced the room fretfully, pausing now and then to look out of the window: He didn't need to determine the exact time to know that sunrise was approaching, and with it, his trial by truth potion.
He had slept for longer than he had intended – the combination of terror and emotional stress with his father's sleeping potion must have made him more tired than he thought. This, of course, meant that he was running out of time to concoct an escape plan.
He could no longer hear screams from the other room. Whatever Voldemort had done to Bellatrix, he had evidently finished. As soon as the Wormtail creature returned, it would be his turn.
He couldn't keep images of the red-eyed, serpent-like face out of his head. He kept imagining the fiery glare that would inevitably appear when he disclosed his rejection of the Dark Arts. Then there would be a shriek of rage when he announced his support of Dumbledore's campaign for peace between Muggles and Wizards. As for the moment when he would inevitably reveal his devotion to Harry Potter…for some reason Draco saw the pale, spectral face break into an insane smile, and a high, mad cackle echoed in his head.
Draco sank back onto the bed as dread hit him, like a Bludger to the stomach. Voldemort would be only too pleased to learn about the dreams, the Somnio Salvus potion, and Draco's real-life feelings for Harry. If there was a chance that Harry returned his feelings, then he, Draco, could be used as bait.
He dropped his face into his hands, mentally kicking himself for telling Harry the name of the hotel. If that really was Harry, and if he heard him shout it before the dream ended, then no doubt the stupid, crazy, reckless…and ludicrously gutsy Gryffindor would already be on his way. There was no guarantee he would find the place, but if he did, Voldemort would be expecting him.
Draco wasn't having that.
No way. No way am I going to be the means for Voldemort to get his hands on Harry. I'll die first…
The significance of that thought weighed heavily on his mind. If Voldemort were to arrive at dawn and find him dead…he would not be able to interrogate him. Then he would not find out about him and Harry, and he would have no reason to suppose that Harry would come looking for him. If Harry did turn up, with any luck Voldemort would be long gone.
Draco fumbled in the faint light for the bottle of sleeping potion and toyed with it nervously. It would be painless; he had no qualms about that. And that was more than could be said for what Voldemort would do to him. But at least he could ensure Harry's safety.
In the absence of a plan to save his own life, Draco prepared to save Harry's. He lay back on the bed and uncorked the potion. Then he filled his head with thoughts of Harry as he brought the vial to his lips.
Harry had been flying for hours. The damp night air penetrated his hair and clothes, chilling him to the bone. He encountered several patches of icy fog, which stung his face and numbed his fingers where they gripped the broom handle. He was beginning to suffer from the combination of intense cold and the effort of clinging to his broom for so long; he was as stiff as a plank of wood. Each time he changed direction or adjusted his altitude, every muscle screamed in protest.
He ignored his growing discomfort and tried to get his bearings. He had followed the map carefully, and he was sure he was now flying over Derbyshire. The landscape seemed to be acquiring more hills as he headed south, although it was hard to tell. The ground was a long way down, and in the absence of any nearby towns he had only the moon to light his way.
He fumbled for the map again, and squinted at it in the moonlight.
Okay, 'Follow the Pennines south, and turn left at Manchester'…yep…'right at the lake shaped like a wishbone'…done …and now I just need to find this pointy hill…where is it?He squinted into the misty darkness ahead as he raced on.
Suddenly a huge, dark shape loomed out of the thick fog right ahead of him, and it was only his swift Seekers' instincts that prevented him from slamming face first into a rocky expanse of hillside. He veered left with a grunt of effort, slowing his broom as he circled the peak.
He landed on a ridge, on the south side of the hill. He then dismounted from his broom, feeling distinctly saddle-sore, and studied the map again. According to the directions, he should be able to see the hotel from here. He turned to the West, trying to make out the shapes of the hills against the starlit sky.
Two jagged peaks stood close together, one much taller than the other. In the narrow valley between them, Harry could have sworn he saw a tiny glimmer of light. His heart leapt. That must be it!
Forcing his tired, aching limbs to co-operate, he swung himself back onto his broom and took off, heading for the source of the light.
As he got closer, he realised that the light was coming from a single room on the top floor of a large building. The faint blue glow of the Western sky was still not bright enough to see properly, but he was certain he had found the Copernicus.
Slowing down as he approached, he spotted an ornate balcony outside the illuminated room. He landed on it silently and flattened himself against the wall next to the French windows. He kept perfectly still and listened hard, but apart from the tentative twittering of the very early birds, and the gentle flapping of the flags over the entrance hall, there was not a sound to be heard.
He turned his head and gingerly peered through the window. The luxurious penthouse suite appeared to be deserted.
Holding his breath and walking on tiptoe, Harry approached the floor-to-ceiling windows and tried the handles. They opened with a faint click. He froze for a moment, and when no Death Eaters came running to apprehend him, he stepped inside.
Now that he was in, he found that he could hear faint voices coming from a room to his right, the door of which stood slightly ajar. He ducked behind a velvet-covered chesterfield and tried to hear what they were saying. There were at least two people in there, one male and one female, but they were too quiet to make out. The woman – probably Bellatrix Lestrange, thought Harry with a stab of loathing – wasn't saying much anyway. Her voice only seemed to be making faint whimpers. The man's voice sounded like Lucius Malfoy to Harry. He was doing most of the talking…or was he chanting?
Harry didn't wait to find out. He was more interested in finding Draco and getting as far away from the Peak District as possible.
Looking to his left he saw another door, but this one was closed. Hiding his broomstick under the chesterfield, he inched his way towards it, his heart hammering in his chest. If he were caught now, then everything would have been for nothing. Draco's sacrifice, Dumbledore's warnings…in a way, it would have been better if the abduction had succeeded in the first place. At least then Draco would be safe…
Praying that he wouldn't find himself faced with an army of Death Eaters, he slowly opened the door a crack and slipped silently into the room, pushing it shut behind him. It was dark – he could only see shadows of furniture in the dim hint of early dawn. He gripped his wand and whispered, 'Lumos,' but nothing happened. He didn't have time to wonder why, because at that moment he realised that he was not alone. A familiar voice spoke from the shadows on the other side of the room.
All traces of panic and fear were lost in a moment of pure relief.
'Draco!' Harry lunged towards him, reaching out blindly and stumbling as he caught his foot under the edge of a rug. He pitched forward but was saved from falling as a shadowy silhouette emerged from the gloom and seized him in a hug that knocked the breath out of him. He flung his arms around Draco with a choked cry, registering the familiar feeling of fine, soft hair brushing against his neck. He was so caught up in it that it took him a moment to realise that Draco was saying something, murmuring softly into his hair.
'You're here! That was really you…the dream…you're really here…'
'Mmmm…' confirmed Harry, smiling and sighing contentedly as he savoured every moment of the first real embrace they had ever shared.
'But how did you…I mean this building…it's unplottable or something. How did you find it?'
Harry pulled away, grinning happily and waving the flier at Draco. 'As luck would have it, I was invited. Well, sort of!'
Draco laughed in disbelief, then remembered how their situation had come about. His face fell. 'I'm so sorry…It's my fault…If I hadn't deceived you about the potion…'
'Ssh…no. It's my fault. I seem to have a knack for putting myself and everyone around me in danger. I should have listened to you…I'm sorry…'
'But nothing,' interrupted Harry. 'We could go on like this until Christmas, but I think we should just get out of here and discuss whose fault it was later. How does that sound?'
Draco nodded in agreement, then pulled away abruptly, staring over Harry's shoulder. 'Oh, hell…Tell me you didn't close the door?'
'Of course I did. There was someone in the room opposite this one, I didn't want them knowing I was here, did I?'
Draco groaned. Harry's elation at having found him began to give way to a creeping sense of foreboding.
'The door is cursed,' announced Draco abruptly. 'It can't be opened from inside…and the whole room is magic proof – that's why your Lumos charm didn't work.'
'Ah.' Harry gulped. 'So what you're saying is…now we're both trapped?'
Harry's eyes were beginning to grow accustomed to the gloom, and he looked around. 'What about the window?' he suggested brightly.
'Yes, that opens. Did you bring your broomstick?'
'Of course! It's…'
'…In the other room.' Draco finished for him.
Harry bit his lip. 'I really could have thought this rescue through a bit better, couldn't I?' he added sheepishly.
Draco put an arm around him, giving him a squeeze. 'Don't worry, I'm sure we'll laugh about it one day. We'll just have to think of another plan. I vote that we start by finding a way to get some light in here. There's a lamp there somewhere but I couldn't work out how to light it without magic.'
Harry felt around on the bedside table. Sometimes wizarding establishments kept some basic non-magical equipment around for the benefit of visiting squibs. Sure enough, a brief search of the drawers turned up an elderly box of matches, which he used to light the oil lamp. A cheery glow filled the room, illuminating Draco's face as he gave Harry one of his shy half-smiles.
Harry couldn't help feeling elated, despite their predicament. He smiled back, returning the matches to the drawer. As he did so, his hand knocked against a small glass bottle and he dived to catch it before it fell.
'What's this?' he asked, inspecting the bottle curiously. It looked familiar – he was sure Madam Pomfrey used this type of potion, whatever it was.
'Oh, uhh…sleeping potion. I couldn't sleep. I was just going to take some when you came in.'
'Where'd you get it?' asked Harry, frowning. 'And…hang on! It's nearly daybreak! Why would you be taking a sleeping potion now of all times?'
Draco didn't reply. Harry looked at the nearly full bottle, then at Draco's carefully blank expression. Then he put two and two together.
'Oh no. No, no, no! Whatever happens, not that. Do you understand me?'
Draco sighed. 'I couldn't think what else to do. In the morning I'm going to be interrogated under Veritaserum. When they find out about…well…you know…' He faltered. Sitting disconsolately on the bed he looked up at Harry with a pleading expression. 'I just couldn't bear it if he used me to get to you. I would have done anything to avoid that – I still would.'
Harry gazed at him in disbelief. A few weeks ago, he would have bet his boxers that Draco Malfoy would deliver him to Voldemort as soon as look at him. Now, here he was, offering to give his own life to save him.
He had to shake his head slightly to clear it. After all the peculiar dreams he'd been having, it was hard to believe that real life could be even weirder.
He opened his mouth to speak but no sound came out. His throat felt tight and very dry. After a moment of heavy silence, he coughed nervously and stammered, 'I…oh. Draco…look, it won't come to that. I won't let it, ok? We'll get through this.' He sat down next to Draco and nervously placed a hand over his. 'You won't be needing this,' he added firmly, tucking the bottle of sleeping potion into his own pocket.
Draco gave him a sideways smile. 'I hope not. I'd hate to have to fight you for it.' He nudged Harry playfully.
Harry grinned and gave him a gentle jab in the side with his elbow. Then he squeezed his hand and said, 'Much as I'd love a re-match, I think we'd better start thinking about how we're going to get out of here.'
'Yeah. I hope you have better luck than I did. I've searched the place from top to bottom and I can't see any way out,' said Draco, shaking his head in defeat.
'That's because you're not thinking like a Muggle,' said Harry, getting up and inspecting the door closely.
Draco made a face. 'Why would I want to do that?' he said distastefully.
Harry laughed. 'Don't be such a snob!' he scolded. 'Believe it or not, Mister I'm-so-superior, most Muggles are actually quite intelligent, and perfectly capable of coming up with quite ingenious solutions to problems. Anyway, without magic what choice do we have? We may as well be Muggles, for all the use our wands are in here.'
Draco didn't look convinced but he watched curiously as Harry picked up a Hotel business card and started poking it into the narrow gap between the door and its frame. He jiggled it around for about a minute, muttering impatiently under his breath. Then he swore quietly and kicked the door, throwing the crumpled remains of the card onto the bed.
Draco eyed it, looking unimpressed. 'Was that one of those ingenious Muggle solutions?' he asked politely.
'Shut up,' said Harry.
He walked into the bathroom, surveyed the tiny air vent in the ceiling, and walked out again.
'You mean, Muggles don't know how to get through six-inch gaps?' teased Draco.
Harry scowled and headed for the window. He opened it and leaned out.
'I already thought of that,' said Draco proudly. 'But we're too high up, we can't jump. So unless you happened to bring a levitating potion, I don't see what we can do.'
Harry frowned for a moment, then a thoughtful smile appeared on his face. 'I think there's one thing we can do,' he said with quiet excitement. He took off his cloak, dropping it on the floor where he stood. Then he pulled back the quilt on the four-poster bed.
Draco's eyebrows shot up into his hair. 'What? Now?' he asked in astonishment. 'I mean I'd love to, but…how's that going to help, exactly?'
Harry looked at him blankly. 'What?' he asked, bewildered. 'Oh! No…umm…' He blushed furiously. 'We have to, uh…oh, just help me get these sheets off.' He busied himself with stripping the bed, heart hammering after Draco's insinuation. As he freed one of the white sheets, he gripped one edge firmly and ripped it along its length.
Draco winced. 'That's Irish linen! Have you no respect?' he cried indignantly.
'Oh, stop your moaning and help me,' said Harry. He began tying lengths of linen together, end to end. Draco's expression lifted as realisation dawned.
'Ohhhh! Ok, I get it now. I saw this in a Martin Miggs comic once,' he said, enthusiastically joining in the mutilation of the bedclothes.
When they had tied all the pieces of sheet together, Harry frowned, muttered, '…not long enough…' and looked around for something else to shred. He picked up his cloak, ripped it in half and added it to the makeshift rope.
'Where's your cloak?' he asked as he tied the last knot.
'In the wardrobe,' said Draco. Then he gaped at Harry in horror. 'My cloak is from Étienne's of Paris. You're not ripping that up!'
Harry was silent with amazement for a moment, then spluttered, 'Do you want to get out of here or not?'
'Of course I do. But you're not having my cloak. I'll give you the rest of my clothes first!'
'Maybe later…' replied Harry, quick as a flash. This time Draco blushed. 'It doesn't matter anyway – I think it's long enough, now.'
Draco looked doubtful, but he helped Harry tie one end to a leg of the heavy four-poster bed, then leaned out of the window as Harry threw down the rope.
'Oh no! It's nowhere near long enough,' moaned Draco. 'Even if we tore up my cloak, the curtains and the bathrobes, it would never reach the ground.'
Harry turned to look at him with an expression that was half scorn, half sympathy.
'Look, you have to know when to stop thinking like a Muggle,' he sighed. 'We don't need it to reach the ground. It just has to reach the window of the room below this one.'
Draco's face broke into a wide grin. 'Oh, yeah! Because once we're outside the room…'
'Exactly,' said Harry, in the tone that a teacher might use when a dim-witted student finally manages to complete a simple sum.
'So, now we just…?' Draco gestured to the knotted rope hanging from the window ledge.
'Yep,' smiled Harry.
'After you,' said Draco.
'Why? You're not scared of heights.'
'No, but I'm scared of this Muggle ingenuity you keep on about. Are you sure it's safe?'
'About as safe as dangling from a fifty-foot high broomstick with one hand like you did in that match against Hufflepuff.'
Draco smiled, flushing with pleasure. 'You noticed that?'
'Of course. Now get out there, you poof.'
Draco made a show of looking affronted. 'If that isn't the pot calling the cauldron black!' he said in a piqued tone.
Harry's face fell as he realised what he'd said. 'Oh, uh…no. I didn't mean…I mean I'm not…'
Draco silenced him by grabbing him by the back of his neck and administering a brief but firm kiss on the lips. 'Sure you're not,' he murmured, pulling away and grinning into Harry's shell-shocked face.
He turned towards the window, leaving Harry to recompose himself.
'Get a move on, then. The sun's almost up!' said Harry, hiding his discomfiture with annoyance.
Draco climbed onto the window ledge. He managed to get one leg outside before stopping and turning to come back in.
'What now?' said Harry impatiently.
'I forgot my cloak.'
'Stay there, I'll get it.' Harry sighed and crossed the room. He opened the wardrobe and retrieved Draco's cloak.
Suddenly he froze with panic, as he heard the bewitched door open with a faint creak. Then he heard something that made his heart stop with fear: A cold, high voice taunted, 'Going somewhere, Master Malfoy?'