Protective Bonds, parts 1-3

Title: Protective Bonds
By: Sadie DragonFire (sadie@dragonsgate.every1.net)
Parts: 1-3/?
Rating for these parts: PG13
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all plots and characters portrayed therein are not mine. Good thing too. The honor goes to JK Rowling.
Warning: I'm strange. May be a few spoilers and some wrong information or misspelled names. Just keep telling yourself it's a fanfic and I am trying. Also, some suggestions of Ron/Hermione, but nothing major. Standard spelling and grammar warnings.
Summary: Harry and Co. discover a book with an interesting protection spell.
Pairing: Harry/Draco eventually

Second Warning: Be aware, the following story contains supjects of a slashy nature. That means, boys being intersted in other boys and wanting to 'get it on' with said boys. The slash is mild, but it is there. If you:
1) Enjoy slash, please read on.
2) Hate it, then please go back now.
3) Find this subject matter to be perverted and sick and would be reading my work for the sole purpose of telling me that you find this subject matter perverted and sick, then hey, go ahead and read! Who am I to stop you, ne?

Feedback always welcome

____________________________

The book landed on the table with a force that caused its contents and those sitting at it to jump. Ron let out an indignant yelp as his quills tumbled to floor and Harry just managed to save the inkbottle before it doused their homework beyond recognition. Both frowned up at Hermione who stood before them, panting triumphantly.

"Here, look what I found!" she dropped into one of the chairs and opened the heavy book, flipping rapidly through the yellowed pages. "Its very old and handwritten to boot! Half the pages aren't even readable anymore. They were moving that suit of armor---You know the one just round the corner from Charms class? ----And this was stuck under the foot. Must have been used to balance it, since the right leg is about three inches shorter than the left. Anyway, I snagged it before anyone else noticed and I looked through it and found *this*…."

Having tuned out halfway through Hermione's ramble, Harry was shocked anew when the book landed in the middle of his parchment, sending a few loose paper drifting. Baffled at what could have excited Herimone enough to interrupt their work, he leaned over the book and squinted at the scrawled writing.

Most of the title was badly smeared, leaving only 'Protection B-' set toward the left of page. Only the top of the following paragraph was legible, the rest blurred as though splattered with water.

'This spell protects you against your worst enemy by making that enemy unable to bring harm to you. It is the most powerful and effective protection spell of this nature. It wor---' that was it. The spell itself was completely intact, if a little hard on the eyes. Harry frowned and read through the first paragraph again, squinting harder the see if he could pick any words out of the blurred ink.

"Hmm, figure you'd get all excited over some stupid old book." Ron scowled, dropping his rescued quills back on the table. Hermione looked like she wanted to stick her tongue out at him but it was beneath her to do so. Ron had a similar look; only he would have added a raspberry noise for effect. Hermione narrowed her eyes and mentally made a rude gesture in his general direction. Harry interrupted this unusual staring contest by nudging Ron.

"Here, read this." He slid the book toward his friend. Ron leaned over it, forehead lightly brushing Harry's. Hermione fidgeted slightly in her seat as Ron scanned the page. After a while, his reddish eyebrows jumped in surprise.

"Huh."

"Oh, is *that* all you have to say?"

"Huh." He announced again, challenging Hermione through his bangs. Harry sighed helplessly. The two had been picking at each other since just a few months after summer vacation. There wasn't anything nasty about it, more like playful teasing, but it got annoying after a while.

"It looks interesting…." Harry offered, "But what would we use it for?"

Ron rolled his eyes. "For you, nit! Just imagine if You-Know-Who couldn't bring harm to you?"

"I already *had* a protection spell like that…" Harry muttered, uncomfortable with the memory. "He found away around that."

Ron looked startled and ashamed at his comment. "Well, well…another one can't hurt!"

"I wasn't suggesting actually using it." Hermione emphasized, "I thought we should show it to the teachers first."

"Why bother with that? We could get all this stuff," he waved at the page, "ourselves. The Professors would just dither about it 'til there's no point anymore!"

"But we don't know exactly how it works or what the dangers are!" Hermione raged back, "For all we know, it could turn Harry into a wart on You-Know-Who's neck! Can't hurt him there for sure, and wouldn't that be a lovely thing to explain to Professor Dumbledore later?"

Harry raised an eyebrow at the mention of his becoming a wart, but otherwise kept to himself. He glanced over the page again, noticing that Ron was right---they could get all of the ingredients on their own. Hmm…have to wait a couple weeks until the stars were the right alignment, but that would give them time to collect everything. He frowned. Did he really want to try this? Of course, any extra protection against the Dark Lord would be worth the effort. But Hermione was right, maybe…

"Maybe if we tried it with someone else." Harry interrupted whatever comeback Ron was working on. His friends turned to blink at him. "I mean, someone not super important and do it here at Hogwarts. If something goes wrong, well then, the Professors could fix it."

They watched him for moment, then looked at each other, eyes communicating in a way that had begun to make Harry feel horribly left out. Apparently, they reached some kind of an agreement, because Hermione nodded and Ron asked;

"Who?"

Harry frowned. "Um…someone who hates me, but not enough to kill me if something goes wrong."

"Snape?" Ron suggested.

"Oh heavens, no!" said Hermione, affronted at the very idea. "He may be a jerk, but he's still a teacher. Besides, even if it did work, we'd be *years* paying for it"

"Hermione's right," Harry admitted, "It has to be a student."

Suddenly, Ron's eyes light up. "Malfoy." He grinned. "No, just think about it! He hates Harry, but he's a student and if the spell works, then he won't let his dad touch Harry."

"And if the spell doesn't work?"

"We hope for the best."

"Ruddy good plan there."

"Shut up. So, Harry?"

Harry frowned, turning it over in his head a few times. It would be nice to get Draco off his back and since his Dad's buddies with Voldemort---well, that would be an added bonus. He thought for a breath longer then decided.

"All right, I'll do it."

__________________________

Draco Malfoy prided himself on many things. His good looks, wealth, magical talent, but most of all, he prided his ability to cause suffering and annoyance to one Harry Potter. The fact that Potter seemed to have an equal talent in regard to Draco himself only worked to goad him. For after all, he was a Malfoy and Malfoy's were nothing if not vindictive.

Of course most of his attempts at revenge tended to backfire rather spectacularly, but that was beside the point.

Now, an essential part of Potter-torture meant being keenly aware of what he and his reject friends were up to. The sudden absence of leaves on several of Professor Sprout's rare plants; the now-half-empty bottle of powdered Centaur's hoof from Potions class; and the muttering insistence of Flich that *someone* was prowling the halls at night again, had not gone unnoticed by Draco. It all added up quickly in his mind and had Potter stamped all over it. He wondered whether to get involved or not.

After doing some quick mental calculations, Draco decided that after that incident with the frogs and cherry pie, he and Harry were on the same level in the humiliation department. Therefore, Potter was due for the next plunge into shame. As long as he didn't take Draco with him.

Ignoring a vague feeling of foreboding, Draco began planning his day to include eavesdropping.

_______________________________

"Now we just have to get Malfoy in the right spot…"

"Actually, that's the easy part." When the two boys stared at her with identically blank expressions, Hermione rolled her eyes. "*Really* you two. After all this time I would have thought you learned something." Enlightenment refused to dawn. With the sigh of one forced to dwell amidst shocking stupidity, she motioned the two to follow her.

The teens continued to remain clueless as Hermione lead them through one hallway into the next. Around this corner, past that portrait, dodging a Hufflepuff here and a ghost there. Harry and Ron were just beginning to wonder if she'd lost whatever sense she had; when Hermione suddenly grabbed them, hauled them behind a half-open door, and announced in an overly loud dramatic 'whisper':

"SO! We'll do it in the south tower on the second floor where there's an old classroom in the back. Two o'clock should be the perfect time. Right?"

Using her death glare as incentive, the boys made appropriate agreeing noises. Somewhere down to their left came a faint noise, almost like a barely stifled "Ha!" and then rapidly scurrying footsteps heading away. They waited until the footsteps vanished before going back into the hall.

"Wha-how did you-where-?" Ron demanded, eyes wide. Hermione smiled.

"Come on, did you really think Draco Malfoy hasn't noticed what we've been doing? The boy is obsessed! Of course he'd be looking for a chance to foil our plans," She flipped her hair, "One must simply find the right mouse to catch the snake."

"How did you know that was Malfoy?" wondered Harry, slightly miffed that he hadn't thought of it.

"Saw his reflection in the window."

"Sheer brilliance."

"I'd like to think so." Hermione smiled benignly, purposefully ignoring any sarcasm.

"And if he tells a Professor instead of showing up himself…?"

"Well, we'll just have to hope for the best then, won't we?"

_________________________

The old classroom was filled with dust and broken desks, and the occasional spider for decoration. They weren't quite sure why the room unused, though it may be because it had the odd habit of vanishing on rainy Thursdays. However, since it was neither raining nor Thursday, it was the perfect place for a little unprecedented spell casting.

Hermione had made Harry practice the spell to a fare-thee-well, since it was so complicated. He could confidently say he could repeat the spell in his sleep. She was currently coating the end of Harry's wand with the formula they had made. Harry listened at the door and Ron measured the exact area where he would have to stand. Since the spell required he be in direct starlight when reciting the incantation, they had to make sure he got the full advantage of the room's one window.

"Okay, got it," Ron announced, finishing up his smiley face on the floor, "Now we just have to wait for our star." He tossed his chalk into a convenient corner and joined Hermione behind a half circle of upturned desks. Harry had left the Invisibility Cloak with them, despite Hermione's teasing instance that they could cower out of sight just fine.

Right now, he was beginning to wish he had the cloak himself. [I can't believe I'm really going through with this.] He winced, [Lovely Potter, we spend weeks planning for this and *now* you get cold feet.] He could vaguely hear Ron and Hermione nattering about something. Suddenly, his mind registered the sound of footsteps outside the door.

With a sharp hiss at his friends, Harry rushed silently to a spot just in the shadows. There, he could see whoever was coming up the stairs before they could see him. After a few minutes of tense silence, the door opened.

Draco Malfoy, present and accounted for.

Harry tensed, muscles clenching in anticipation of movement. The few seconds it took Draco to step further into the room, eyes scanning the darkness for any sign of life, stretched endlessly. Then suddenly they were over and Harry was moving forward. He barely registered the surprise on Draco's face as he came to stand over the smiley face, wand rising automatically. His-albeit underdeveloped---survival instinct took that instant to start blaring alarms, but the words were already tumbling out his mouth.

The words hung in the air, given form by the starlight before converging on his wand in glowing sliver radiance. Draco really had no time to react to this 'attack' as threads of light spun out from the end of Harry's wand, lashing outward like intelligent snakes. The threads looped around Draco's body.

"Hey!" he yelped in protest, hands batting at the threads. He didn't get very far and shortly he was entwined in them. Draco froze, eyes wide and glazed. Harry could hear Ron's cheerful shout behind him and felt a sickening drop in his stomach at the blank look on his archrivals face. It was all happening so fast.

There was no time to move as the threads changed to bright red and doubled back, heading to Harry. Shimmering red brilliance danced across his vision and he only had time for one thought before darkness swept over his mind:

Oops.

________________________

Words hovered on the edges of his awareness.

"…can't believe you, not even fully understanding how it worked!"

"We were only trying to help!

"Well help or not, you've caused a great deal of trouble."

"Is he…is he going to be okay?"

"Yes, *they* will both be fine, but there is a reason this type of spell was banned."

Softly. "We didn't know…"

Something wrong. Something missing. Where was…?

A gasp. "Oh! He's moving! Harry!"

Hands touching, grabbing. Not what I want, leave me alone!

"Wait Harry, what's wrong? You should stay in bed!"

"Don't fight us!"

"Back off you two I thought this might…well, lets just step back and see."

The obstacles were gone now. Body not working quite right…there it goes. Have to find the missing part, so close, it's near. A few steps, three, two, there! Warm skin under his hands, the other one moving to allow him space. So tired, but all here, all parts together. Settling down next to the other one, arms wrapping securely around him.

"I think I'm going to be sick."

"Ron!"

Silence.

__________________

The first thing Harry noticed was how warm and comfortable he was. His head and the right side of his body were resting on something solid, warm, and moving. Moving? Yeah, that's right, a slow, soothing, up and down motion. Rapidly, his other senses began sending him reports. A faintly musky odor spiced with pine filled his nose. The sound of even breathing just above him and puffs of air stirring his bangs. And damned if that weren't a hand resting on his shoulder blades.

[Oh, okay, I'm in bed with someone.] Normally this would have set off the warning signs, but in his muddled state, all he felt was pride at his leap of brilliance. [I should know who it is. Rather silly to be in bed with someone and not know who it is.]

Pleased with this idea, he shifted around to bring his companion's face into better view. He opened his eyes to find the world terribly out of focus. [Ooh, right. Glasses.] Harry pushed himself up further, right arm casting about what looked vaguely like a bedside table in hopes of finding his glasses. The chest under him heaved with a deep breath and the arm around him tightened in response to his movement. Finally, his hands closed around cool mental and glass. With a little 'aha!' of triumph, he fitted them in place and peered up at his bedmate.

A pale, slender face surrounded by ash blonde hair rested against the pillow, dark lashes setting lightly on soft cheeks, twitching with the movement of the eyes beneath. The thin lips were partly open, tinted with only the faintest hint of color. Skin the color of eggshells, smooth and annoying flawless, stretched over high cheekbones, along the pointed jaw line, and up to the tip of the narrow nose that was christened with a spot of sunburn.

[Nice.] Harry thought distantly. He really didn't know why he was in bed with Draco, but at that moment, it didn't really matter. It just felt right. Suddenly, Draco's ice gray eyes opened to meet his own vivid green ones. Reality took that instant to perk-up and say 'hi!'

"Ack!" Harry jerked upright, nearly throwing himself from the bed in his haste, scrambling to the foot of the bed. Draco for his part scooted backwards against the headboard. Almost instantly, Harry felt a vague tugging sensation somewhere in his chest. It stopped him from moving any further away, though he had the strongest urge to start running and never stop.

"You!" Draco spat, words dripping with venom. "What the hell did you think you're doing?!"

"It was a protection spell!" snapped Harry.

Draco gave him a dirty look. "I meant now, you twit."

"What, in bed with you? Sleeping." He scowled, "Do you honestly think I would be doing anything *else*?"

"How should I know? You were the one the sprawled all over me!"

"Like I'd be there by choice! I'd rather go curl up with Fang, at least I'd be in better company." While they argued, an increasingly persistent pain burrowed its way into Harry's temples, like ice picks being driven into his skull.

"And you'd be round your own kind too," sneered Draco. He winced slightly, eyebrows drawn together as if he suffered a headache.

"Better dogs than ferrets!" returned Harry hotly. Draco's face turned red with anger.

"You're as worthless as your Mudblood mother…"

Hurt and anger flared up in Harry, his fists clenching automatically. "Shut up! You know nothing about my mother!"

"I know enough, I've had to deal with her *mistake* for years…"

The pain in his temples increased just as Draco gasped suddenly and hunched over, bringing his hand up to his head. Harry's anger floated away before concern. He started to reach out to the other boy.

[What am I *doing*?!?] It was an effort to force his hand back to his side; an effort that was painful, as the tugging in his chest grew stronger and the pain in his head became lancing agony. The ice picks had become jackhammers. [What is this…?] He realized that Draco was reaching for him and he just reacted, lashing his hand out and wrapping his fingers around Draco's. Instantly the pain faded, replaced by a warm fuzzy feeling reminiscent of how he felt when he woke up.

For a moment, Harry just enjoyed the feeling, allowing himself to shift closer to Draco as the source of his comfort. Unfortunately, the warm-fuzzies didn't last very long before fading and Harry and Draco were left glaring at each other over their joined hands. They reached a mutual unspoken agreement that this was the start of something very bad.

"This is your fault." Draco announced sullenly, tugging Harry's hand but making no attempt to disengage the hold. Harry frowned and forego responding.

In the following five minutes, Harry strongly considered letting go of Draco's hand, both on general principles and the fact that he *really* had to go pee, but he never got past the thinking part. Draco just glared at the wall and muttered dire threats under his breath. Eventually, the door opened and the teens looked up to see Madam Pomfrey enter the ward. She deposited a pile of cloth bandages on a counter and turned to face them.

"Well, you're awake. And quite a bit of a spot you've gotten yourselves into."

"It's not my fault! I demand that something be done about this!" Draco announced imperiously, lifting his and Harry's joined hands for emphasis. Madam Pomfrey eyed him thoughtfully.

"Sadly, there is nothing for me *to* do," she dusted off her hands, "I suppose you're hungry. Go wash up and I'll bring you something to eat. After that, I'll explain something of what happened."

"WHAT!" Draco jumped up, yanking Harry face down on the bed. "You can't just leave us like this! I'll going to tell my father about this!" Harry quietly informed the bed sheets of his opinion of that venture. "This is intolerable! My father will see you all fired if you don't reverse whatever it is this *idiot* did…ow."

Draco swayed and sat back down on the bed, looking startled and dismayed. Harry scooted closer to the other boy until he was pressed against Draco's lower back, feeling irrationally bothered by Draco's discomfort. [This is starting to get strange.] Madam Pomfrey was nodding wisely, as though Draco had just said something profound.

"I'll explain all in my own time. Right now it's more important that you eat and relax some. Now go wash up." She stated again, pointing the way to the hospital wing bathroom. "I'll be back soon." With that, she left them.

Draco craned his neck around and frowned at Harry's closeness. "I hate you." He informed Harry clearly.

"Likewise." Harry directed his frown at the bedding, uncomfortably aware Draco's warmth against his body. What was even more bothering was that a part of him enjoyed it. And wanted more. Blushing suddenly, he sat up. "Come on." Harry slid his legs off the bed, shifting his grip from Draco's hand to his wrist.

"Ordering me around now, Potter?" Draco said, lacking some of his usual rancor.

"Yes, next I'm going to make you lick my boots. C'mon, I have to use the privy." He stood and began pulling Draco. The other wasn't helping any. "Malfoy, this isn't easy for me either---"

"Like I'm supposed care about that." Said Draco sulkily, lower lip pushed out in a pout. Harry thought he looked amazingly childish.

"Maybe not, but you don't have to make any harder." He applied more pressure. Finally, Draco gave in and stood. Still pouting, the blonde boy took the lead, practically dragging Harry after him.

[Well, quite a frustrating turn of events. This has to be because of that spell. Why else the headaches? And how come care what Draco Malfoy feels? Draco suffering usually means a good day for me. But…I don't understand what went wrong with that spell.] He shook his head to clear it as Draco yanked him in the general direction of the toilet.

"Go on then."

"Um…I need my hand." He meant that Draco should transfer his touch to another body part, but Draco instead jerked his wrist free of Harry's grip and…

Pain, searing through his head, pounding in his chest, driving away all thought.

Harry cried out, all but jumping towards Draco. Their bodies collided and they clung to each other as the pain ebbed away. It appeared that now that the spell had them together, it wasn't about to let them separate again. Once the happy-tingly feeling left, Harry had to face the fact that he was snuggling his archrival. They jerked apart, Harry blushing faintly through his glare and Draco looking ready to hit someone.

The day was just getting better and better.

After taking turns relieving themselves, and washing their hands and faces (somehow managing to keep in physical contact the entire time), they returned to the ward. Madam Pomfrey was back with sandwiches, flagons of pumpkin juice, and chocolate pudding. She hustled out before they had a chance to question her. With a bit of shifting around, the pair settled to eat, bare feet touching to free their hands.

"The thing about you Potter," Draco spoke around his bread, breaking an otherwise pleasant silence, "Is that you just can't stand to have other people think badly of you. No, no everyone *has* to love the Great Harry Potter."

"Did I ever tell you that you're daft?" Harry inquired rather politely. "I grew up around people who would held cockroaches in higher esteem than they did me. I honestly don't give a bloody damn either way." Not entirely true, since such disregard always hurt some and made life difficult, but he wasn't about to admit that to Malfoy.

"Right, like I believe that." Snorted Draco. He paused, evidently thinking of something worse to say. Harry cast out the improbable hope that the other boy would keep his mouth shut.

[I really wish Hermione hadn't found that book…]

"After all, the way you and your friends prance around here like you own the place…"

"Oh, like *you're* to talk…"

"That's different." Draco grinned nastily, "Far as you're concerned, Potter, I *do* own the place."

"Can you get anymore conceited?"

"You know what they say; 'It's not bragging if it's true'." Draco was smirking now, moving around so that his back was resting against the headboard, Harry's ankle balanced on top of his. He appeared far more comfortable in his natural element of teasing Harry. "You can believe all you want about being the 'greatest wizard ever', but deep down, you *know* you're nothing."

The comment was so close to what Harry often thought about himself that he was caught momentarily without reply. He was more bothered by Draco's insight than his attempt at an insult. The blonde boy was looking very pleased with himself, cleaning his spoon of pudding with an agile tongue.

Harry said the first thought that came to mind; "Well, puts us on the same level, don't it?"

Draco froze in the act of licking his fingers, pale and startled. "What do you know?" He snarled harshly.

"Only what I see." Returned Harry softly. Any further words were stopped when Ron Weasley burst in the room, all windblown red hair and freckles.

"Harry!" Ron stopped, eyes riveted to their overlapping feet. "I am so sorry." He stated fervently, looking like he had just signed his best friend's death warrant.

"You should be." Draco replied, reverting to being sulky and annoyed. "You're the first one I'm going after when this mess is fixed."

Ron favored Draco with a look normally reserved that really icky something found on the bottom of your shoe after walking through a swamp. "Go ahead and try."

"Believe me, I intend to."

Harry sighed deeply and buried his head in his hands. Maybe he could just throw himself from the top of a tower, surely they could find away to defeat Voldemort on their own, and he could just end his suffering in peace…

"Oh Harry! I'm so sorry!" Hermione burst into the room, nearly bowling over Ron in the process. Harry freed one hand from his face and waved it reassuringly.

"I know, I know. Its okay." Draco's foot was moving, sliding out from under his and sliding further up along his leg, digging under the cuff of his pajama pants and teasing the skin of his calf. Startled, Harry peeked at him through his fingers. The other teen was scowling distastefully at Ron and Hermione, seemingly oblivious that he was a tickle away from playing footsy.

[Okay…] He arched his foot back and tapped Draco's foot with his toes. Draco jerked his head around, frowning. Harry tapped his foot again. Draco glanced down and his cheeks went pink when he realized what his foot had been up to.

"Good, you're all here." Madam Pomfrey nudged aside Hermione and placed the book with the offending spell on a table. "Now listen up cause I'm only going to explain this once! Now, the spell you found has been banned for the past one hundred and seventy years, with good reason. It was actually designed from an old love spell. It works by binding your life force and emotions with that of your enemy's. So, when you are hurt or injured, your enemy experiences the same pain. It's doubled when they cause the pain themselves and if you get killed, they die too."

[That makes sense…]

"When done right, its completely one-sided. However, spells involving emotions and life energy are extremely tricky things. Especially when another emotion has been mistaken for hate. Because the original design was for the spell to be two-sided, it automatically tries to double back and bond both enemy and caster together. That's why it requires a third person to cast the counter spell-"

"But I looked through the whole book!" Hermione interrupted. "I didn't find anything remotely like a counter spell!"

Pomfrey's lips pressed together in annoyance. Silently she flipped open the book to exact page with the spell, turned it over, and pointed to the jagged edge of a torn page nestled between the pages. "Evidently, you didn't look hard enough."

Hermione turned red.

"So there is no counter spell?" Draco demanded uneasily.

"No, I can locate it later in the restricted section. But it's useless until after the spell has been completed. Sorry dears, but all you can do is wait for it to fade until. And don't worry, it will fade to almost nothing; just give it time."

Harry let out a sigh of relief. Okay, so it wasn't the best situation, but it was certainly better than being stuck with Malfoy for the rest of his life. Ron appeared to agree and grinned broadly.

"So, when can we toss the ferret?"

Draco sat up, face darkening with anger, but Madam Pomfrey was speaking.

"Hmm, the need for constant physical contact should be gone in a week, you'll still be fairly touchy though. In a few months you'll be able to go for hours at time without seeing each other-"

[Months?] Harry thought, his stomach sinking. Beside him Draco let out a murmur of dismay.

"---I'd say about a year or so before you can live normally and separately. That is, not unless something *else* happens between now and then…"

______________________

For an endless moment, all Harry could comprehend was that he was going to be spending the next year exclusively in Draco Malfoy's company. A whole entire year with Draco's leer, his teasing, his attitude, his…everything! No escape, no time outs, no please-leave-before-I-hurt-you, and worse yet, he'd want it that way. If his current condition were any indication, he'd probably make every effort to keep Draco near him. God, that was a scary thought. With a feeling of perfect calm, Harry turned to look at where Ron and Hermione stood.

"You understand that I hate you both now. Nothing personal, really." He intoned almost cheerfully. "I just wanted to warn you now so you're not surprised when I snub you in the halls and spread nasty rumors about you."

Hermione frowned in a 'its not my fault and I find it insulting that you would suggest otherwise' kind of way, but Ron was nodding. "Under the circumstances, I don't blame you."

"I would like to note that I hate all three of you very much and it is indeed personal." Draco spoke, more a grasp at attention than any real contribution to the conversation. He looked like a ruffled, annoyed cat that'd gotten a rather nasty shock at some point and wanted to claw to death the person responsible for it. Harry glanced at him, trying to come to terms with the fact that he was going to be looking at that face for a long time.

[We're going to have to shower together.] A panicky feeling twisted his stomach and his face heated up. [Whoa! Bad thought., don't need that image. Maybe I can wash with my eyes closed.] But the idea of Draco seeing *him* naked was even more disturbing. To stand there knowing that those cold gray eyes were watching his every move, sliding over his bare skin...

Okay, he was officially blushing now. Not to mention the other reactions his body was threatening, which he currently lacked the mental capacity to evaluate. [Snape in a tutu, Snape in a tutu.] He closed his eyes and thought strongly of that particular picture until he calmed down. Draco's foot was pushing at his with unnecessary force.

"You're really going to get it when my father finds out about this. Your dad will be out of a job before you can blink twice!" Harry forced himself out of his internal panic-fit to see Draco flick his fingers dismissively. Ron was getting that look in his eye, the one that meant he was about to pounce and the consequences be damned.

Harry straightened up and poked Draco in the arm. "Malfoy, leave Ron alone. This is not the time to be trading insults."

"On the contrary, I think this is the perfect time to be trading insults." Draco drawled.

"I think you're all being utterly childish." Hermione noted with a bit of force, "Blaming each other-and me-isn't going to help anyone."

"You're the one who found the book and pointed out that spell!" Ron protested Hermione's attempt to 'escape' blame.

"So? *I* wanted to take to the Professors, *you* were the one who actually wanted to use it."

"Just like a girl to avoid taking the blame."

"I'm going to tell your sister you said that."

Ron paled. "You wouldn't!"

"Watch me."

Harry sighed and fell back on the bed, rather irked at the fact that his entire life had taken a drastic right turn, and all his two best friends could do was argue like five-year-olds. Beside him, Draco moved until their hips were pressed together. He pulled up his right leg, rested his elbow on his knee, and watched the bickering duo with raised eyebrows.

"Have I complimented you on your choice of friends recently, Potter?" Draco wondered.

"No, and I'd thank you not to start." Pressure was building at the base of his skull. [Lovely, another headache.] He closed his eyes tight, but that only made him more aware of Draco's closeness. The other boy's warmth was soaking into his side and his left arm had come to rest on Harry's chest. Harry focused his eyes downward, his vision blurred were it reached under the rim of his glasses, and glared resentfully at Draco's elbow.

[He's going to be touching me for the next year…we'll probably have to share a bed…I'll have to put up with his friends…his family…and what about Sirius and-and--] Oh my, what nice dizzy feeling. If only his stomach weren't so queasy.

Draco shifted and turned his head to look down at Harry. The expression on his face was caught somewhere between horrified and disgusted. [Hmm, looks like the news just sunk in.] Draco's mouth twisted unpleasantly.

"Just you watch Potter," he hissed, "I'm going to find away to break this thing and *then* I'll really make you regret it." Their eyes meet, cold steel clashing with bright jade, fierce and challenging.

Threat was clear, so was helpless panic and biting rage, in eyes that were less like ice than they were distant storm clouds. Storm clouds promising soul saving rain or heart crushing torrents in a single gust of wind.

Harry forced his eyes away and the world snapped back into alignment. An uneasy, confused expression covered Draco's face before he jerked his head away. Harry breathed in deeply and stared fixedly at the ceiling. He could hear Ron and Hermione still arguing the same subject, so his space out hadn't been that long.

"…and if you'd only stopped to think…"

"That's enough." Madam Pomfrey stopped Hermione mid sentence. "I think it would be best if you two left for the time being. They need a chance to get used to things. You can visit tomorrow."

"But we can't just leave him here with Malfoy!" Ron blurted unthinkingly, "Um…I mean-I…" He backtracked, casting his best friend an uncertain look. Harry wasn't paying attention anymore; he'd decided that he was better off just lying there and not making contributions to the conversation.

"That is hardly your concern," Pomfrey commented dryly. "Now, off with you both."

"All right." Ron sighed.

"Yes, Madam Pomfrey." Hermione said softly. "Bye, Harry."

"Yeah, bye. But don't worry! We'll be back first thing tomorrow!"

"After classes."

"Uh…right. After class." Ron amended carefully. Harry forced himself up enough to nod goodbye, ignoring Draco's arm slipping down his chest.

"I'll see you later." He watched his friends leave a bit mournfully. Now it would be just him and Draco. Ugh. The door closed behind Hermione with a dismal click. Draco shifted slightly.

"Hey, don't I get to see *my* friends today?" He demanded petulantly. Madam Pomfrey frowned thoughtfully.

"I'd rather not. I think it would be best if the two of you got better…acquainted with your new situation." She gathered up the dishes from their lunch with quick, practical movements.

"But what-"

"Ron and Hermione were directly involved in the incident," She interrupted smoothly, "I wanted them present. Your friends, Mr. Malfoy, were not needed. You can see them tomorrow."

Draco frowned, obviously annoyed that Harry's friends were rated higher than his, "What about my father?" He bounced the foot that was hooked under Harry's ankle.

"Yes?" Madam Pomfrey needlessly rearranged the stacking order of the dishes.

"Well, aren't you going to inform him of this?" Draco pressed, the tone of his voice becoming sharp. Harry sat up further.

"That is for Headmaster Dumbledore to do." She stated firmly. "Now, I'll bring you something fresh to change into, but you're not to leave the hospital wing today."

"I want to know *directly* when my father has been informed of this…incident."

"Oh, come off it." Harry snorted in response to Draco's tone. The blonde boy favored him with a disapproving expression and drummed his fingers on Harry's chest.

"At least *I* have someone who cares about what happens to me."

"Frankly, I think I prefer the muggles to your dad, and that is saying a lot."

Draco's eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared unbecomingly. "You'd compare *my father* to-"

"Before I forget," Madam Pomfrey interjected calmly, "When you cast the spell Harry, what color was it?"

"Color? Oh, um…gray or silver I think." Harry returned Draco's glare force for force. He wanted to stick out his tongue, but there was that whole maturity issue.

"Silver? Are you sure it wasn't green?"

"No, it wasn't green." [He is such an ass. Even after all these years, every time he opens his mouth, I start looking for something to throw. I should be used to it by now, but no, it just keeps getting worse…Oh look, his eye is twitching. He must really be annoyed.]

"Maybe black with white swirls?"

"What? No." Harry blinked, his interest in the conversation recaptured.

"It was silver." Draco verified, "I should know, it was coming right for me."

"Hmm. Well, then." Madam Pomfrey blinked rapidly, "And when it came back at Harry it was-yellow?" She offered hopefully.

"No, red."

"Red?"

"Red."

"Not pink or maybe mauve?"

"It was RED!" Both boys shouted in mutual frustration.

"Hmm. Really. That, well." Her gaze flicked rapidly between the boys. "I wouldn't have…hmm. I'll go get your robes." Looking mildly bemused, she gathered the dishes and headed out the door.

"Hey, wait! What in Hogwarts was that all about?!" Harry demanded of her departing back. He leapt to his feet…or at least made the attempt to, as such a movement would have disrupted Draco's contact with his foot and the other strongly disapproved of such a venture. When Harry leapt-or started to-Draco grabbed his lower arm below the sleeve and pulled. Harry responded by jerking back in the opposite direction, mainly out of surprise, and resulted in a messy and somewhat indecent sprawl on the floor.

Harry yelped as his head lightly struck the ground. Draco's shoulder pressed uncomfortably against his nose, his glasses partially shoved off his face with one earpiece jabbed into his cheek. He could feel the other boy's slender, but surprisingly heavy, body through the thin pajamas. A bony hip was jammed into his stomach and skinny legs twisted around his own. The pale line of Draco's throat was mostly blurred but otherwise discernable.

[I wonder what he would do it I licked him…] It took a heartbeat or two, but the rest of his brain finally caught up with that thought and roughly demanded to know what he had been doing while it was away. He let out an entirely undignified noise and franticly tried to get Draco *off* him.

[What is WRONG with my head?!? I can't believe-its impossible-I'm going crazy, it's that simple. Voldemort doesn't need to work hard to kill me, I'll just go stark raving bonkers on my own and he can pick me off whenever.]

"Malfoy, get off!"

"Don't yell at me, you're the one who started it." Draco pushed himself up and scooted back, but didn't pull away completely. He shook his head, sliver-blonde hair tickling the end of Harry's nose. "Are you okay?" Another head shake, "Bleh, I can't believe I just said that."

"I'm *fine*! Get off!" Harry pushed at Draco's slim shoulders, feeling warmth radiating into his palms. [He looks cold, but he's so warm, like a furnace.]

"I will, I will." The smaller boy shifted his weight to his knees, hands braced on either side of Harry's head. "Well," he smirked, longish hair draping around his face, "Its this interesting."

If Harry wasn't blushing before…

"Arrgh!" Griping Draco's shoulders, Harry pushed hard, up and over, rolling his whole body until Draco was under *him*. He sat up and scooted back, moving as far away as possible and still leaving their bare feet in contact. "You are an evil, wicked person." He announced, setting his glasses back into their proper position.

Draco widened his eyes innocently. "Am I now?"

"No, that's giving you to much credit." Harry leaned back until his head rested against the edge of the bed, wincing when it touched the sore spot. "Malfoy?"

"Hmm?"

"Accepting that I hate you and you hate me, is there any chance we could just not talk for the next few hours?"

"And do what instead?" Draco suddenly sounded as tired as he felt.

"Ignore each other."

Draco gave him a sardonic grin. "Right. Ignore each other."

"Just make the effort." Harry closed his eyes tightly, watching the swirling light and shadow patterns behind his eyes with fascination. Across from him Draco sighed deeply. He cracked an eye to see the other teen fall back onto the floor, arms spread in offering to the ceiling.

They stayed that way in silence, which was just fine.

TBC…

_______________________

--Sadie
DragonFire