Author's Note:

Greetings, and welcome to the story. A few quick words before you begin reading.

First and foremost, this story is SLASH. That means a male, homosexual relationship. If you don't like, don't read. It is also contains lots of colorful language, violence and some well-placed sensuality. This story is also based on the Harry Potter novels, which I unfortunately did not have the good fortune to contrive- they, and all their characters, are the property of JKR.

Second, this story is still in progress at the moment. The main arc of the story is complete and posted here. However, the epilogue is still in progress. I am also doing a massive re-write, some of which is already posted and some of which is not. As of August 21, 2009 chapters 1-22 have been rewritten, with the rest to follow. So basically, please pardon the dust. If you've read this story before, lots has changed. So far I have already added over 10,000 words of additional text, and keep an eye out for even more.

And finally, to my ongoing readers: I am SO sorry that this is not done yet. I made the mistake of completing the epilogue and half the revisions without backing them up online or externally, and my hard drive fried, of course. I am now working on this story every day, but considering how bad I've been about keeping deadlines so far I will simply say it will be done VERY SOON.

Thank you, I hope you enjoy, and please don't hesitate to tell me what you think!

~*~

The overwhelming din of the Great Hall was dying to a low murmur as students wandered off in rowdy groups and small, satiated clusters. Dinner was slowly coming to an end at Hogwarts, and only a few rapidly cooling trays of food and a handful of stray students hinted at the vibrant assault of smells and raucous laughter that had previously marked the evening. At least, those were the sort of thoughts playing in the back of Harry's mind as he surreptitiously made his way through the massive double-doors, glancing around nervously before darting in to fill a napkin with rolls and pastries, hastily shoving a hunk of bread in his mouth as he scanned the room for any other food he might easily stow in his bag. The tray in front of him suddenly disappeared, followed by two more from the Slytherin table. Harry cursed his hesitation, but reminded himself that it had, after all, been the Slytherin table, and he certainly wasn't that hungry. Another student stood to leave the Great Hall, revealing a final tray. There, on the Hufflepuff table- was that... a sandwich?

"Harry!"

No...

He froze, the half-chewed bread wedging in his throat as he tried to swallow.

That voice...

Harry could feel the blood drain from his face and the tiny hairs along the back of his neck begin to quiver. One simple word, his own name called from a distance, and his mouth was dry, knees trembling beneath him. No, no, he had been so careful. Harry knew he should make a run for it while he still had the chance, but had not the slightest idea where to go, or how to get there inconspicuously now he had been spotted. He cursed colorfully under his breath for not having planned an escape route, frustrated, but mostly confused, at how things were so rapidly managing to deteriorate. Hesitation again caused Harry to miss his chance, though this time he feared the result might be worse than a growling stomach. Cornered, he merely squeezed his eyes shut tight as he felt something brush up behind him; he couldn't completely suppress the shudder, though, as hot, stale breath whispered against his throat:

"Fancy seeing you here, Harry. I was beginning to wonder if you ever eat."

Harry hated the way his name sounded from the other boy's lips, a low breathy purr like it was something secret and explicit. Like even his own name was something he should be ashamed. A heavy arm slung itself around his shoulders, nearly forcing his already weak knees to give out completely. The napkin and its precious contents were quickly forgotten as the other boy's arm tightened painfully around Harry, firmly guiding him back out of the Great Hall and into the empty entryway. Harry was so absorbed by the terrible turn of events his hunt for food was leading to that he did not notice the pair of eyes tracking their progress. The other boy was not so oblivious to their audience, but dismissed it for the time being- he was having a hard enough time stifling the grin threatening to give him away.

"In fact, come to think of it, Harry, I haven't seen you for, oh... two days. If I didn't know better, I might even think you were... avoiding me?"

"Again with my name," Harry thought with a wince.

The light, friendly voice held an unmistakable edge, and though it lilted up as if in question there was no doubt in Harry's mind what that tone really was- trouble. The entryway was perhaps even quieter now, he realized with a start, and the lights there had already been dimmed for the evening. Long shadows played along the walls, throwing the intricately carved arches towering above them into intense highlights and deep shadows. Harry spared a brief, longing glance down each of the several paths he could escape by, seriously considering taking a chance on the nearby maze of corridors in the dungeons when Professor Snape emerged from the Great Hall. He paused a moment to glance between the two boys before leveling a cold, disdainful glare at Harry. For the first time in his life, Harry desperately hoped that the surly man scrutinizing him would intervene: Detention, perhaps? House points deducted? Sent to the Headmaster's office? Anything to allow him a moment to escape. Instead, Snape stayed true to form and did the exact opposite of what Harry wanted- in this case, he turned and walked away.

"Lousy git," Harry mentally cursed. "Not my fault the Master of Occlumency couldn't keep his own bloody mental shields in place."

Harry hadn't realized the other boy was still gripping his arm until the fingers tightened painfully, nails digging into flesh through the thin layer of his jumper- with a rush of fear Harry realized in his distracted state he had failed to respond to the other boy's implication. If possible, Harry paled even further.

"Sorry! I...sorry! No, no, I would never.. do that. You know I wouldn't, ever. I've just been so busy. I have a Potion's test on Monday, and a Charm's essay due next week, and... Quidditch. Practice, I mean, Quidditch practice. The first game is in a few weeks and after the ban and everything last year-"

"Great!" The other boy cut in, silencing Harry with an unnerving smile. The arm around Harry's shoulders was really beginning to take its toll, and when icy fingers possessively caressed up the side of his throat Harry made the mistake of jerking away. The other boy laughed, grabbing a fistful of Harry's hair in retaliation and jerking his head roughly to the side.

"I may not know much about Potions or be particularly good at Charms, but why don't you come down to the Pitch in, oh, an hour, and we'll get you back in proper shape in no time."

Harry shuddered as his tormentor, flush behind and towering over him, drew down his jumper collar, exposing what Harry knew to be a meandering expanse of mottled bruises and bite marks. Harry could feel the moist breath against his ear coming faster and rougher now, and it made his skin crawl. His grip in Harry's hair tightened, anticipating the struggle and holding the smaller boy in place as he ran his tongue along one particularly vicious bite, sucking until the barely-healed flesh reopened. Harry winced, tightly gritting his teeth, but his silence only drew a new bout of laughter from his captor.

"Mmm... two days is a long, long time, Harry. Too long. In fact, why don't we move that meeting to a half hour from now- just long enough to run up and get your broom, if I'm not mistaken.

The cold, cruel fingers in his hair slowly relaxed, but Harry's relief was short lived as they trailed down his throat and chest, drawing a sudden and severe wave of nausea. The bread he had managed to eat seemed to be lodged partway down his esophagus, apparently uncertain which direction it wanted to go.

"But- tonight? It's already after outdoor curfew, I can't leave the castle..."

Harry abruptly found himself shoved against the wall, his head knocking against the stone so hard his vision went dark for a moment and he bit his tongue in surprise. He tasted blood, but managed to nod in response.

"Yes... a half hour. I'll be there."

A dark smile stretched thin, pale lips.

"Good boy, Harry. I knew you wouldn't disappoint me."

If not for the wall's support Harry feared he might have collapsed when he was quite abruptly released- instead, he merely staggered for a moment before regaining his feet. By the time the dizziness abated enough that he was able to look around it was with little surprise that Harry found he was alone once more. The nearby stairs seemed to glitter beckoningly out of the growing shadows, welcoming Harry up to the safety of Gryffindor Tower. He stumbled forward numbly, staggering through the first few steps before his body shifted to autopilot and began the long ascent in earnest. He desperately craved the sanctuary of the Tower and the safety of his own bed, but each clock he passed on the seven flights up to his dormitory reminded him in increasingly urgent increments that he still had a long evening ahead of him. The memory of cold hands, that cruel smile.... those eyes. There was something in those eyes that hadn't been there before, something that made the deepest, darkest parts of Harry's soul quiver with real fear. However, he couldn't figure out what it was- something was pulling desperately at his consciousness through the fog that had gathered in his mind over the months since the night in the Department of Mysteries. Since Sirius's death. Since-

The memories of that night returned in a barrage of snips and flashes: He could feel the prophecy in his hand again, warm and thrumming and slippery from his sweaty palms. He could hear Ginny cry out in the distance and Ron screaming as the brain grabbed him. He could see the looks of betrayal on all their faces when they found out Harry had led them into a trap, the pleading desperation when they'd been captured. But then Sirius had been at his side, warm and solid and fighting- they had fought together, and Sirius had praised him (even if he had called Harry "James"). And then... he was gone. Just, gone. He just fell through a stupid arch and his eyes went wide and he looked so young and scared and then he was gone. Who the bloody hell made an arch of death? But it didn't matter because Sirius was gone and it was Harry's fault and he hadn't even been able to avenge his godfather's death. He had just sat by and watched as Voldemort and Dumbledore fought, weak and powerless, but worst of all Snape had been right. His mind was weak, Voldemort had... penetrated it, that was the only word. It had been a dirty, slimy feeling, like something slithering under his skin and into his bones. When he thought about it too long, it was like he could feel it all over again. Cold and anger ripping him apart, spreading him open...

Harry's stomach at last lost patience with him, bile burning the back of his throat and unshed tears blinding him as he sprinted the rest of the way to Gryffindor Tower. He barely made it to the bathroom before his stomach got the better of him, and Harry spent several long minutes choking and gagging before he was able to indulge in a brief respite of shallow, shuddering gulps of air. He swiped bitterly at his wet, puffy face and sniffled miserably, blaming these too on his traitorous stomach. Guilt, shame and fear had Harry's blood running hot despite the chills wracking his shoulders and chasing down into his trembling fingers, but he knew there was no time for this. Harry didn't need a clock to know he was going to be late- a half hour to climb all the way up to the Tower, grab his broom and make it down to the pitch would have been tight under the best of conditions. At the moment, Harry was simply proud that he was able to push aside the nauseating plague of thought and feeling long enough to stand, rinse out his mouth and splash his face with cold water. He didn't bother looking in the mirror- there was nothing there he had any desire to see at the moment.

Locating his broom gave Harry a slightly harder time, due to the extent of movement required and the way his head was beginning to throb from its intimate moment with the wall downstairs, but eventually that task was accomplished as well. Throwing his new winter cloak haphazardly around his shoulders, Harry took off down towards the common room and, ultimately, the stairs, at a near sprint. As he sped through the warmth of the common room Harry thought he heard Ron call after him, but merely muttered a quick "Quidditch practice," before barreling out through the portrait hole and taking off at a run down the stairs. Ron, and the equally surprised Hermione sitting beside him, wondered silently when Harry had started breaking curfew for practice he didn't need. However, both had learned since start of term to stop pressing Harry for the details of his solitary excursions, and eventually Hermione resumed her weak attempts to tutor Ron in Potions.

The glow of the rising moon was just beginning to make itself useful when Harry caught his first glimpse of the Quidditch pitch in the distance. As he ran, Harry mused how not so long ago that sight had made his heart soar, silencing the niggling voices of guilt and regret in the back of his mind and allowing him to briefly forget the responsibilities he knew his future held- he'd hoped to find that excitement and release again this year since his Quidditch ban had been lifted. It was more than that, though. Quidditch was the one skill Harry possessed that he felt genuinely proud of. Unlike the fame he acquired from his scar, Harry felt he was at least worthy of his Quidditch reputation and took great pride in it. However, dizzy and nauseous as he was, heart stuttering in his chest at the thought of what, or more accurately whom, awaited him, the only word that came to mind as the Quidditch pitch slowly drew closer was 'dread.' The distant tolling of the clock back at the school began to sound, slicing through Harry's thoughts. Eight o'clock. He was late. Weak, quivering legs broke into a run, carrying him as quickly as he could towards the slowly-approaching pitch. It felt as if he were running in slow motion, as if the darkness was tangibly thickening all around him. At last he fought his way through the night and passed into the circle of the stands, tiny and insignificant on the huge expanse of field. He looked around frantically, peering through the moon-glow darkness at the empty expanse of grass all around him and what little he could see of the uninhabited bleachers. The pitch was silent but for the soft fluttering of the house banners and the occasional call of night birds from the Forbidden Forest- in fact, the whole scene seemed eerie, uncanny taken so far from its usual context. Harry's tense shoulders relaxed slightly, though, and he took a deep breath, letting out a heavy sigh. The exhaled breath caught in his throat as there was a loud pop behind him and something hard and blunt came into contact with the back of his skull, sending him to his knees in pain and further distorting his already hazy vision. Harry looked up to see a tall form looming above him, barely a few shades darker than the night around them- the hazy shape of what appeared to be Harry's own broom was gripped tightly in his hand. Harry blinked, uncertain whether his pain addled brain, darkness dulled eyes or rapidly rising fear (likely a combination of the three) were to blame for the way the shadows seemed to be swirling and shifting around them, almost... almost breathing.

"You know, Harry, it's very rude to be late."

The handle of the broom came down like a blunt spear and Harry curled up, bracing his head and rolling into a ball. The broom stabbed into Harry's side, not quite breaking skin but forcing the breath from him in a violent wheeze. Before Harry was even able to process the overwhelming flood of pain the blow caused it was followed by a succession of swift, sharp kicks that pushed an involuntary groan out between his tightly clenched teeth. Harry's ribs protested, aching and burning sharply as he tried to breathe, and he spared a moment to pray nothing had been punctured. Dimly, Harry became aware of laughter, though the sound was distorted through the ringing in his ears- it sounded inhuman, unnatural, and it shook Harry to his core. He had little time to waste being afraid, though, for he found himself hoisted up by the front of his shirt and a fist connected hard with his left eye. The blow easily snapped his glasses in the middle, leaving a deep, jagged gash down the side of his nose and under the curve of his eye. Harry was so shocked he could not suppress the whimper of pain that accompanied the thick, hot trail of what he knew to be blood oozing down his cheek; he had never hit Harry in the face before. He must be exceptionally angry tonight. Harry's heart beat faster, beads of sweat breaking out on his forehead and slowly trickling down his cheeks despite the cold. This... this was getting out of hand. The sweat caused the freely-bleeding cuts to sting terribly, but Harry bit his lip to keep from making any further sounds, unwilling to provoke his tormentor further, or give him the satisfaction. Harry was having a hard time processing as hands seemed to emerge from the blackness, stroking his face and beckoning him into unconsciousness. The figure knelt down beside Harry's prone form, admiring the rapidly swelling black eye and the way the air was rattling sickly in the smaller boy's chest. A rough thumb explored the gash under Harry's eye, smearing the clotting blood and drawing another low whimper.

"Oh, sorry about that, Harry. That one's certainly going to sting tomorrow. I assume I've made my point, though? For future reference, I really, really don't like to be kept waiting."

Harry managed to pry his good eye open, but without light or glasses it did him no good. For a moment, he thought he saw a flash of red out of the corner of his eye, but the sudden shock of cold as his cloak and jumper were ripped away distracted him, and the staggering pain of nails clawing down his bruised and most likely broken ribs chased the thought from his mind completely.

"Now, as promised, a little help getting you back in shape for the big game. Why don't we start by getting you reacquainted with your broom? After that Quidditch ban last year, I'm sure a little..."

He paused, absently plucking at Harry's belt buckle before unfastening it in a long, slow slide that made Harry cringe.

"intimacy..."

Harry's eyes were still useless in the dark, but he didn't need them to see the wide, maniacal grin splitting the other boy's face. It burned in his mind like neon, so bright he could feel it in his skin.

"... would vastly improve your performance."

With the belt open and useless the cold hands met no resistance in dragging Harry's too-big trousers down to tangle around his knees, painfully twisting the strip of leather back around to pin his thrashing legs together. The fog of pain clouding Harry's mind was quickly beginning to dissipate, replaced instead by a spiking sense of panic. He lashed out at his captor with what remained of his strength, clawing and snarling wildly despite the fresh wave of pain the struggle caused.

"Stop.." Harry hissed, clenching his teeth as the other boy's full weight came down on him, pinning Harry's wrists to the ground so violently he could feel the fragile bones shifting beneath his skin. "Just... just stop, okay? I don't... I don't care anymore. I don't care, I don't care" Harry wheezed dazedly. "Sirius is already dead and the others-" His voice broke and he faltered. "I... I don't care." Harry could feel his pinned hands going numb and the cold grass was making him painfully aware of every inch of bare skin, but despite his confession the other boy showed no intent of moving. Panic was surging in Harry's chest, his growing desperation making him wild. "Didn't you hear me!? I said I don't care! Just get off me!"

The words burned pure shame into Harry's soul, pricking hot tears behind his closed eyes. Defeat was not something he was accustomed to and flat out surrender a concept he had never even imagined. He couldn't help it, though. Cuts and bruises and even broken bones were familiar pains to Harry, small discomforts he was willing to endure in exchange for some semblance of peace in the rest of his life. But this... this he hadn't signed up for. He felt weak and pathetic, disgusting, dirty even- there was, in fact, only one thing that could have made Harry's humiliation more complete, and he quickly discovered what it was. To his absolute horror the other boy merely gave an insane bark of a laugh, sending a light mist of spit over Harry.

"Oh, oh Harry, you're precious. Of course you care. You always care. And that's what makes this so fun."

Harry's shock made him pliant, and the other boy took the opportunity to grip the elastic waistband of Harry's pants and forcibly rip them off. The soft cotton stung horribly as it burned across his skin in stretched, tattered strips, drifting off a little at a time to join the remnants of his jumper on the field. All that remained were his trousers, still belted around his knees, and when cold, greedy hands began pressing fresh bruises into his bare thighs Harry resigned the last of his dignity.

"Help!!"

His voice cracked pathetically, and the other boy was laughing again, but Harry was beyond caring.

"Help! Please, help! HEL-"

A mouthful of dirt and grass muffled any further cries, choking Harry into silence. He assumed that the myriad of slaps and punches that followed were simply for good measure- they both knew Harry was not going anywhere. However, it was not until he was bordering on unconscious that the other boy stopped to roughly flip him over onto his stomach. For a moment, Harry felt relieved as he was able to spit out the last of the dirt and grass in his mouth, coughing violently until he threw up across the grass. Although he still couldn't see, the amount of liquid he felt forcing its way up his throat and the distinct metallic taste of it had Harry concerned. A bigger problem quickly caught Harry's attention, though, as he was roughly dragged to his pinioned knees, face forced into the grass he'd just thrown up on by a heavy hand in his hair. There was little fight left in him, but he struggled as best he could, managing to tilt his head to the side long enough to make a final cry for help. The sound had barely escaped when another blow caught him in the temple. Harry thought he might have blacked out for a moment, but he wasn't entirely sure. The darkness seemed to be glowing and the grass poking his nose and eyes looked so vividly green, sharp tipped and perfectly defined, that he found his attention wavering.

"... deserve this. It's all your fault, Harry...."

"No..." he sobbed, shoulders trembling as he spit out another small mouthful of what he was certain was blood.

"If they knew what really happened...."

"No..."

"... hate you."

Harry sobbed again.

"...deserve this."

When the pain came, it was worse than Harry could have ever imagined. It was blinding as it shot up his back, through his stomach and down his thighs, but it was more than just the pain. It just felt wrong- sick and dirty and wrong. His ribs protested as the other boy's weight came down on him fully, and Harry threw up again. Numbness was slow to creep in, but eventually it began in Harry's toes and spread up his bound lower legs. His fingers were beginning to go numb again as well, and all over his system seemed to be shutting down; he was vaguely aware of sharp pinpoints of sensation dragging down his back, and of the constant, pounding force ripping through his insides, but it was as if they belonged to someone else. The last thing Harry was aware of before analgesia gave way to unconsciousness was laughter- cold, pitiless, cruel laughter, and it chased something inside Harry away to a place where he hoped no one would ever find it again.