Roses and Thorns

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Chapter 9 – Retrospect

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Hermione was the first one to hear of Harry and Draco's break up.

She Flooed from the Ministry of Magic to his house upon hearing the news, leaving her assistant shocked and appalled at her sudden, not to mention early, departure.

Hermione, on the other hand, couldn't care less. All she could think of was Harry's condition. The last time he'd been in a break up, it took her forever to help Harry pick up the pieces. Of course, Charles didn't know this. No one did, but Hermione was clever, and she knew Harry better than the man probably knew himself.

Which was why she was here.

As Hermione suspected, when she stepped out of the fireplace, she noticed the horrendous state the living room was in. There were books and CDs and movies scattered all over the carpet, along with kitchenware and other household materials strewn all over the place. Hermione gingerly made her way out of the mess, grimly noting the duster and the vacuum lying on the floor. Apparently Harry had attempted to clean, but it seemed he had failed miserably.

Harry was in his room, lying on his bed, face vacant. Hermione felt a pang of pain seeing him looking so vague and hollow. It reminded her too much of how he looked after the war, making her frown. Did Draco really affect Harry that much?

"Harry," Hermione said gently, walking into the room and trying not to step onto his clothes.

Harry jerked in surprise and turned to her, looking bewildered at her presence. "Hermione? What are you doing here?" he asked, confused.

Hermione sat down on the bed. "I heard about you and Draco," she said simply, observing Harry's puzzled expression as it changed into one of misery. "What happened?"

Harry tried to look nonchalant, but failed. "I -" he began, and stopped. "I don't know."

Hermione touched his arm. "Why don't you start from the beginning?"

Harry sat up from his position, running a hand through his mess of hair. "There is no beginning, Hermione. That's the thing." He sighed in frustration. "We jumped into the middle and tried to walk forward and backward at the same time just so we could make sense of everything. And -" his voice tightened, "it didn't work."

Hermione was silent. There wasn't much sense in what he'd just said, but somehow, she felt like a picture was beginning to take shape. "How did you two meet, again?" she asked abruptly. It was true she had spoken with Harry after his birthday surprise, and Harry had somehow wormed his way through it, but there were loopholes, and she wasn't exactly stupid.

Harry shrugged. "I told you, at a Quidditch game."

"I thought you said you met him at Caramel Cauldron."

Harry flushed red, reflexively avoiding Hermione's eyes. "Y-yeah, afterward, we went drinking at Caramel Cauldron -"

Hermione smiled patiently. "You're a terrible liar."

Harry stared at her. "But I -"

"There's no such place in Britain that's called Caramel Caudron," Hermione said. "Now tell me the real story."

Harry didn't speak. Hermione could see the various emotions fleeting across his face, and felt slightly sorry for bringing it up.

"I'm not stupid, Harry," Hermione said eventually. "You never even mentioned the name Draco Malfoy before your birthday party. You were excited about the dance I threw, I could tell. It was so obvious you were single, and then all of the sudden you announced to the world that Draco Malfoy is your boyfriend. You can imagine where I might have problems in believing you."

When he looked at her, his expression was so miserable that it hurt her to see it. "I'm sorry, Hermione, but I can't. I can't tell you why." He buried his face in his hands. "I'm sorry."

Hermione didn't want to push him, even if she was very curious. But her curiosity wasn't going to help Harry. Right now, he needed her support. "It's alright," she said understandingly, taking Harry's hands away from his face and watching him smile at her meekly. "You can tell me whenever you're ready, Harry." She brushed some hair out of his face. "I love you, you know, and I won't think less of you, no matter what happens."

Harry looked at her, his lips pressed tightly together. She could tell he was trying to keep a hold on his emotions. "I know, 'Mione, thanks." He buried face in her hair as he hugged her, and she smiled and stroked his hair gently. Sometimes, Harry was just like a child, easy to hurt, easy to manipulate.

Which was why Hermione was not going to sit back and watch him crumble like she did five years ago.

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

Tuesday, October 8…

The Baron Bar was empty tonight. It was rarely busy on weekdays.

As Draco sat and drank his fourth pint of alcohol, he felt glad for the quiet. It'd been a week since he moved out of Harry's house, and things still seemed as bleak as ever. For one, Harry refused to talk to him. This really didn't take much effort, since they were both busy with work, and with Harry starting his new album and Draco finishing his own, there was barely time for them to think of each other.

Or at least, that was what Draco expected of Harry, to move on blithely with that bastard Klaus, quickly forgetting about Draco. He, however, couldn't stop thinking about Harry. The betrayal he felt, the hurt and anger, emotions he never expected to feel again in his life.

Emotions that had led him to seek Harry out in the first place.

It had been barely four months since he first approached Harry at his birthday party. Draco had gotten word of it the day before. Hell, everybody did. It was Harry Potter's coming of age's party, who wouldn't know?

Draco downed his glass and waved the bartender for another one. He had come to Harry that night, angry at the world and hiding his broken heart, bitter and spiteful, and had wanted to tease the man. He was prepared to vent his anger onto Harry, ready to turn loose all of his pent up emotions onto the Boy Who Lived. The Boy Who Had a Fucking Perfect Life.

Something completely different occurred that night, however.

Until this day Draco couldn't explain for the life of him why he had been so moved upon seeing Harry looking down at him from the window above. He had been able to successfully sneak into the garden, which was, surprisingly, the least secured place in the whole vicinity of the restaurant, and had somehow, miraculously, saw Harry Potter.

He had been a bit lost, wondering how he was going to be able to get inside to meet Harry, when all of the sudden, a very bright light and loud music caught his attention. He turned his head toward the balcony and saw those brilliant green eyes.

Despite the mask, Draco could tell it was Harry right away. Draco would never forget those eyes, so intensely green, nor would he ever miss that black mess of hair. Immediately Draco knew exactly what to do.

Seducing Harry had been easier than he'd thought, considering the boy was immune to veela's charm, or so it was rumored. Either way, with just a few sultry smiles and some sensuous looks, he'd managed to reduce Harry into an incoherent, love struck being. Everything after that ─ the media, the lies, the story ─ was simple. In just a few hours he had had the whole wizarding world firmly believed that he was Harry Potter's boyfriend.

The only unexpected thing Draco didn't count on was Harry's willingness to go along with him. Originally he hadn't planned to blackmail Harry into helping him. After all, he had only tricked Harry to tease him and to cause trouble, but then Harry had gotten so angry that it had made him defensive and vicious.

Draco hiccupped, eyes wandering around the bar. There was a young man playing the guitar on the small stage. The song sounded familiar.

Every rose has its thorn
Just like every night has its dawn
Just like every cowboy sings his sad, sad song
Every rose has its thorn

Yeah it does…

The murmurs in the place were deafening. Draco sat up straighter and tried not to sway as he stared up at the man singing. He was dark skinned, with long black hair and dark eyes. His voice reminded Draco of Harry, rough, but warm…

I know I could have saved our love that night
If I'd known what to say
Instead of makin' love

We both made our separate ways
But now I hear you found somebody new
and that I never meant that much to you
To hear that tears me up inside
And to see you cuts me like a knife…

Everything reminded him of Harry now, Draco thought bitterly. He hated how it was so easy for Harry to get under his skin, to get him thinking constantly of nothing but Harry, Harry, Harry.

Was there even a particular reason why he should be upset, Draco wondered? After all, he had gotten what he wanted. He was now famous. His debut album was hitting the market in a week. He was asked from at least four different modeling companies to be their model. Hell, he was even invited to random parties from pop stars, all of whom he'd never before bothered to look at twice.

But why did it matter so much that he had to spend whatever free time he had with Harry? Why was it that every time he went shopping, he would look at a shirt and imagine how it would look on Harry? Was it normal to think of Harry when he helped writing the lyrics to his songs? And why, oh why, did it feel like his heart was shredding to pieces to see Harry with that good for nothing Klaus?

Draco gulped down his drink and stood up. The world moved under his feet.

"Shit," Draco said, holding onto the chair for balance. At this moment Draco decided that he was, in fact, very drunk.

Shaking his head, Draco tried to walk, and nearly toppled over somebody.

"Steady there," a voice spoke into his ear as arms circled around his waist, holding him up.

"Wha─" Draco said, looking up at the person who'd helped him. It was the singing guy that was on stage a moment ago.

"I didn't know you drink, Draco," the man said in an amused tone. Draco squinted his eyes up at him.

"You…" Draco said. The man looked awfully familiar.

"You don't remember me?" The man asked, and shook his head. "Never mind, let's get you somewhere and sober up, yeah?"

Draco tried to protest, but his mind was all hazy and he really felt no need to protest. After all, this guy was nice enough to offer help, and he definitely sounded like Harry when he sang…

Draco snuggled into the man's chest and closed his eyes. He was so tired…

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

It was dark when Matt went to open his door.

"Hi, Matt."

Matt's eyes widened to see the man standing in front of his door.

"Seamus? What are you doing here, so late at night?" And actually using the main door instead of Apparating, to boot.

Seamus grinned. "Thought you needed company," he said easily, slipping inside the house.

Matt shook his head and shut the door. "At this hour?"

Seamus shrugged, giving Matt his coat. "I don't know, maybe you'd like a bed partner?"

Matt dropped Seamus' coat on the floor, appalled. "Wha─ what on earth are you on!" he said, picking up the jacket and hanging it up.

Seamus winked at him and purposely marched into the bedroom. Matt, confused, followed him. Seamus was known for being a tease, but there was something off about him today, Matt thought.

He didn't have time to think much when Seamus assaulted him once he stepped inside his bedroom.

"Seamus!" he managed to get out before his mouth was covered by Seamus'. Matt lost his balance and fell onto the floor. Seamus took it as a cue to climb on top of Matt and began kissing him in earnest.

Matt, dumbfounded and even more confused than before, took a full minute to regain his thought. "Seamus!" he cried, wrenching his mouth away. "You're going too far!"

Seamus grinned and took both of Matt's wrists, pinning them to the floor.

"Seamus?" Matt panted, staring at him in disbelief.

"Matt, I'm going to give you two choices. You can either lie here in silence and let me take bodily advantage of you," Matt could not believe what he'd just heard, "or," Seamus continued, smiling very sweetly, "you can tell me what the hell is going on between you and Draco before I get impatient and ravish you up anyway."

Matt guffawed. Did Seamus justthreaten me?

Seamus leaned closer to his face. "Well, my handsome prince, will you, or must I?"

The glint in Seamus' eyes, and the hardness that pushed against his stomach, told Matt that the Irish man was, indeed, not kidding.

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Wednesday, October 9…

"Harry, stop, stop, stop!"

Harry glanced at his manager and the music stopped. "Marie, what's up?"

"Is this a funeral service?"

Harry was puzzled. "No."

"Then why the hell do you sound like you're singing at one?" Marie snapped. She did soften her tone, however, when she saw that Harry was looking very miserable. "I know you're upset, but work is work. You can't lose focus like that."

"Sorry," Harry said meekly and walked out of the recording room, Marie in tow. "I think I need to go home for today."

Marie frowned. "But you have two interviews today after this…"

Harry turned his head to Marie. She was just appalled at how terrible he looked. Even if she was ruthless when it came to his work, she wasn't heartless enough to force him to socialize when he clearly was in no condition to do so. "Never mind, I'll reschedule them for another time," Marie sighed. "Pulling stunts like this is just asking for trouble. Aren't you lucky you're famous?"

"Thanks Marie, I really owe you one," Harry said, grabbing his jacket.

"Never mind that, just go home and get some rest," Marie said, ruffling his hair affectionately. "And for god's sake, please promise me you'll come back tomorrow ready to work your ass off."

"Promise," Harry said. "Bye."

Marie sighed and looked around. The other workers in the studio returned her look and shrugged, as if saying He's your charge.

"Agh," she said, pulling at her hair. "Damn it, Draco."

Harry, meanwhile, stepped out of the recording studio and came to the realization that he didn't want to go home. The thought of coming back to an empty house made him feel sick.

Harry tried to recall the reason why he had said goodbye to Draco, and for the life of him he couldn't remember. He was just so angry, and hurt, and he had felt so betrayed when Klaus told him everything. Of course, he knew Draco didn't come to him out of love. Who would blackmail someone they loved? But to find out that he was just a tool, used for revenge, it just hurt too much.

The wind picked up. Harry hugged his jacket closer to his body and kept on walking. He couldn't stay with Draco any longer, not when he knew Draco was just using him. Besides, Harry thought, Draco got what he originally wanted, so there was no reason for them to keep on pretending.

Harry stopped moving. There was a strange feeling bubbling in his chest. There was a pain he thought he'd gotten rid of a long time ago, thought he would never have to feel again. The cruel flame burned his heart so terribly, like the repetitive thought of a man who could never be his… they filled his vision and nagged at his mind. This was why he had to leave Draco. Their relationship was built on a lie, a negotiation. Draco might've been able to carry on living a façade, but he couldn't.

He just couldn't keep on pretending that he didn't love Draco anymore.

"Fuck," Harry whispered. "Fuck, what have you done to me, Draco?"

Harry's cell phone rang, startling him out of his reverie. Clumsily Harry answered it. "Hello, Harry's here… Seamus? Seamus, what…? What about him…"

The phone fell out of Harry's hand, clattering to the ground. The noises around him ceased to exist. The world crumbled into the blackness.

Draco's missing.

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Meanwhile, Draco is…

The sun shone down on his face. Draco groaned and winced as the conscious world pulled him back with a splitting headache as a present.

Draco sat up and the world spun around him. "Shit," he mumbled before leaning over the bed and emptied his stomach.

"Bugger." Draco wiped his mouth and felt for his wand. He found it sitting next to his pillow and cleaned up the mess he made with it.

"Good afternoon, sunshine."

Draco started, turning to the voice. Now that he thought about it, this was not his room, and that person was definitely…

Draco's eyes widened. He speechlessly stared at an amused and familiar face for about two minutes before he managed to say,

"Blaise?"

Blaise grinned as he came closer to the bed, handing Draco a warm towel. He looked just as beautiful as he did years ago, with long, luscious hair and alluring, pouting lips, but he was taller, with a smile as dangerous as his obscured intention.

"Hey Draco, long time no see."

Draco didn't know what to say. The image of a burning house flashed before his eyes, and finally Draco croaked out, "But Blaise, you're… dead."

Blaise's grin became wider.

"I was," he said lightly, sitting down next to Draco. "But I'm back from the dead."

Blaise leaned closer, until his mouth was pressed against Draco's cheek.

"And Draco, my old friend, you must grant me a favor."

Their eyes locked. Blaise smiled sweetly.

"As a gift, in exchange for forgiveness."

A chill spread down from Draco's temples to his neck. The memories came rushing back.

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

That night…

Richard took a sip of red wine before setting his glass down. The living room was broad and dimmed, creating a rather suggestive atmosphere. He smiled and loosened the sash around his waist, allowing the bathrobe to slip a little so that his muscular and hairy chest was exposed.

In all honesty, he hadn't expected to see Draco again after their last deadly encounter. He was shocked when Draco reacted so violently. It was as if he was clueless as to how the entertainment world worked. Richard shook his head. It didn't matter. Draco was a lost cause in the department of physical pleasure. He was just glad that Draco decided to let it all go and returned for their musical lessons together.

After all, his decision would help Richard tremendously in executing his plan.

"Oh the naïve and innocent…" Richard sang. His words turned into a low chuckle when he caught sight of a man walking out of his bathroom.

"What are you singing about?" the man asked, swaying over to Richard and finding himself a seat on the older man's lap.

"Nothing," Richard said, his voice thick with lust as he ran a hand down the man's bare chest. "I'm just so pleased that everything is going along so perfectly."

"Ah, yes, little Draco has no idea, does he?"

Richard fastened his mouth on the other party's neck and murmured, "None, and neither does his little boyfriend."

"You mean ex-boyfriend…" the man moaned softly. "I must… ah… admit, Klaus does have his uses sometimes."

"He is my nephew, after all," Richard pulled the man's dark hair down and kissed him hard.

"And you, my little angel, are a perfect actor," Richard said when he pulled away.

His angel grinned, almost viciously. "It's what I do for a living, after all."

Richard wound his hands through the man's hair and kissed him again. They continued their ministration for a few minutes before Richard bodily lifted him up, bridal style, and grinned lustily. "Let's move onto the bed, shall we?"

The man threw his head back and laughed throatily and kissed Richard in reply.

The pair grinned and proceeded to the bedroom.

The night only got darker…

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To be continued…

A/N: First of all and always, thank you thank you thank you my lovely beta Dreamweaver :) You are an absolute angel.

Thank you all my readers who have not given up on me. I have no excuses for the delay so go ahead and throw stuff at me (but please don't :)

The song in this chapter is called Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Gun 'N Roses.

Despite the lateness, hopefully you enjoyed the chapter.

Review!