Summary: HP/DM slash with a side of SB/RL, RW/HG A story about music that touches the soul, friends that refuse to go away, enemies that refuse to let you starve yourself, and lovers that never wanted to love and never want to let go now that they do.

Disclaimer: I do not own or remotely have any relation to Harry Potter or J.K. Rowling, though I do have the HP books. I do not have any permission to write this, and I do so solely for my own pleasure and am not making any profit from it.

Pairings: HP/DM, SB/RL, RW/HG and others

Timeline: Fourth book onwards and the fifth never existed in my happy imaginary world.

Chapter Seven

"I wonder why they're all staring at Potter?" Blaise eyed the Gryffindor table suspiciously. "And they've gone silent, too."

"I don't really care, Blaise," Pansy mumbled through a mouthful of food. Swallowing, she continued, "And speaking of Potter, how was working with him like?"

"It was okay, surprisingly. He's smart, knows what he's doing, and does his fair share of work. I don't have to tell him anything, and the level of conversation was almost non-existent." He grinned. "Just the way I like it. How 'bout you, Draco? I see you were the only other pair that managed to finish their potion."

"Draco?" Pansy waved a hand in front of his face when their friend didn't reply. "Hello?"

"What?" Draco batted the hand away, annoyed. "I was thinking."

"You're thinking of something happy, aren't you? I know you. Your eyes went all sort of misty and your face was all peaceful and everything. What is it?"

Memories of the previous night spent with the Flutist surfaced again, all too clear in his mind, and Draco couldn't help it – he smiled. It was a smile that made his normally holier-than-thou expression soften into something beautiful. Then he realized what he was doing, and stopped abruptly; but too late. Everyone in Slytherin was gaping at the supposedly cold-as-ice Malfoy, and quite a few of them had lovesick looks on their faces.

Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, puzzled at the sudden silence, looked around them and blinked at all the open mouths. Then wincing in pain, they simultaneously clapped their hands over their ears as a roar of noise shook the Great Hall, creating a chaos of cheering and clapping and yelling and jumping up and down.

At the Slytherin table, Pansy was fending off girls and even some guys fawning over Draco, shrilling insisting he was her boyfriend and would you crazy hormonal apes get off him? Blaise, Crabbe and Goyle were trying to shove back the mass of people all declaring their undying love for Draco.

At the Gryffindor table, Seamus was drowning in baked beans and mashed potatoes as everyone tried to pat him on the back or give him a friendly punch. And Harry was surrounded by well-wishers all blabbering about how glad they were that he had finally come to his senses and how they knew that the brave Boy-Who-Lived would pull through, while Hermione and Ron were trying to shoo them away and having no luck.

Just as suddenly as it all started, it ended with a loud roar of "SHUT UP AND GET LOST!" from two voices at the opposite ends of the hall. The voices harmonized perfectly, two tenors that rang in the sudden silence. Their owners locked eyes. Green and silver conveyed identical frustrated anger. Harry and Draco had shoved themselves from their seats and stood, finally unable to take it anymore, causing the people around them to shrink away and stare.

"What is the meaning of –" Professor McGonagall began from her seat at the teachers' table, but then flinched almost imperceptibly as furious gazes of green and silver bored into her. Dumbledore rested a hand on her arm, and she sat down in a huff, trying to regain her composure. The entire hall watched in stunned silence as the two boys stormed out, and they could not have made a more contrasting yet complementing picture. Draco's pale skin and carefully slicked back silvery strands, the opposite of Harry's brown tan and messy shock of black hair, somehow seemed to unite in their fury.

Once outside the hall, they strode in the direction of their Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, still fuming and at the same time deeply regretting showing so much emotion in front of the entire school. It took them a while to realize exactly who they were walking alongside with, and when they did, they sprang apart with cries of horror.

Mentally, anyway.

On the surface Draco merely narrowed his eyes and drew himself up coldly. "Potter," he acknowledged icily.

Harry was equally impassive. "That's my name, yes. Glad you're able to figure that out."

Draco, always ready for a fight with the precious Boy-Who-Lived, sneered. "Why, two whole sentences. Words of more than one syllable, even. That's quite some improvement, Potter, but then again, I shouldn't expect too much from someone whose parents didn't teach him much… oh, my bad. Didn't teach him anything."

Every cell in his body was telling him to just drop it like he'd been doing these last two years, but Harry, deafened to those voices by a slow anger – originally at himself, but it was quickly being directed to the Slytherin before him – took a menacing step forward. "You're not fit to talk about my parents," he snarled.

"Your parents?" The Slytherin smirked. "Oh, you mean that worthless mudblood who's now past even rotting –"


Draco's eyes widened as a beam of light so intense that it burned shot toward him. How the hell does Potter know such an advanced spell? was the first thought that came to his mind; the second was: With that kind of spell, he's actually trying to kill me! He automatically whipped his own wand out. "Umbre!" he shouted, holding the wand above his head, the tip pointing to the ceiling. A shadow fell shield-like around him and absorbed the light, both spells ending. In mute fury he brought his wand to point at the seething Gryffindor and hissed, "Fimitermino."

The dirt and dust on the ground rose, and those in the air condensed, to encase him in a cocoon, immobilizing and trapping Harry. In the dark of the small, airless prison, Harry's fury was now unstoppable. He touched his wand point to the cocoon and snapped, "Absturgio." The cocoon dissolved and fell back into its particles on the ground; Harry was already in motion. "Turbonis!"

Draco blocked the spell, and sent a new one, but Harry had already thrown yet another curse at him. The two continued to duel, so fast that the gathering crowd was absolutely lost, and half-blinded by the ricocheting jets of light. What they didn't realize was that the spells were getting more and more powerful, so that the two were now dueling with spells that stumped quite a number of adults. The crowd soon learnt to move well back, since the corridors were littered with people who had gotten too close and were hit with stray spells.

Remus pushed his way to the front of the crowd and was shocked into immobility for a moment at the sight. A Ravenclaw was fast fading from view, screaming, and Remus hurriedly cast a spell to stop her from totally dissolving into the air. A small but powerful whirlwind of glowing air had caught two Slytherins in a funnel, and was on the verge of dumping them out of the window – six floors down to the ground. Remus snapped out a spell that made it vanish, leaving the boys hanging onto the windowsill. Someone was burning in a shaft of light that stabbed through the window, and he quickly doused the flames and stopped that spell.

There were other victims, of course, but those weren't life-threatening, such as the Hufflepuff boy wailing with terror, staring at the two extra heads and one arm growing out of his stomach. It looked weird, but it didn't hurt, and it didn't kill. Remus tried a Stupefy on the boys, knowing that it wouldn't work, and sure enough it didn't. The red light just rebounded, and hit someone behind Remus when he ducked. There was no other choice. He had to do it.

"Quantum in me est, pessum ire, fiat," he murmured, bracing himself. Pain shattered his entire body, and he fell to his knees, feeling all his energy leave him. Through a red haze of pain, he saw that his incantation had done the trick. All the spells had stopped, and the two boys were staring at their wands in surprise. Then Harry saw Remus on the ground.

"Professor Lupin!" he gasped, kneeling down beside the werewolf. He tried a healing spell, but his wand didn't work, like it hadn't ever since the Professor had uttered that strange spell. "Professor –"

"I'm fine," Remus gasped. He slowly sat up. "My body can take it, I've felt worse before." He eyed Harry, who had fallen silent. "Harry, you and Mr. Malfoy help me into the classroom. And tell someone to call Madam Pomfrey. Oh, yes, and don't forget the two boys still clinging onto that windowsill over there. Everyone else get back to class."

As a pair of eager third-year Hufflepuffs dashed toward the infirmary while others swarmed toward the window, Draco came forward and helped Harry support Remus as he hobbled into the DADA classroom. Behind them came the rest of the class. They silently found their seats as Remus looked at the two boys in front of them gravely.

"Harry Potter. Draco Malfoy." The fact that Remus had used their full names, especially for Harry, showed the gravity of the situation. "I must impress upon both of you the seriousness of what you have done. Both of you could have died; as it is, other innocent people almost did. Did you see the girl that was burning to death? Did you know that we are six stories high right now and that those two boys could have fallen and died? There are many other victims of the spells you used. Have some consideration for others' lives, even if you don't have any for your own!"

Harry had retreated back into his barricade, and Draco had put on his mask of cold arrogance again, but there was an air of guilt around them. Remus shook his head. He hoped like hell that Dumbledore's plan would work, and soon. He was starting to think Snape had the right of it all along, if Harry and Draco were any example.

"Think about what I said. I shall speak with you after class about this incident and your detentions. And before I forget, fifty points off both Gryffindor and Slytherin. Go back to your seats now." As Harry and Draco sullenly turned to go, and gasps of protest at the point deduction rose all over, Remus saw Hermione's hand shoot up. "Yes, Hermione?"

"Professor Lupin, what was the spell you used? It didn't sound like a spell, it was too long," Hermione asked curiously, albeit slightly tentatively.

Remus sighed. "It wasn't a spell, it was an incantation, to stop all magic going on at the moment, and render any currently working wand useless. The intensity of the duel that was going on rejected normal spells like Stupefy, and I had to resort to desperate measures. Incantations like that take a lot out of one's body and magical reserves. It's only because I'm used to this kind of pain, being what I am, that I'm still standing. Others would have been bedridden for at least half a day."

A knock interrupted Hermione's next question, and she fell silent as Professor McGonagall appeared in the doorway. The deputy Headmistress had her lips pressed into such a thin line that they almost disappeared. "Remus. I trust you know what I'm here for?" she said, her voice like brittle ice.

"Ten minutes, Minerva, just ten. I'll take them to Dumbledore. We'll talk then. For now, I just want to start my lesson. Please, Minerva." McGonagall, about to protest, saw the weary, bone-tired look on Remus's face and sighed. "Very well." She left and shut the door smartly behind her.

Hermione's hand instantly shot up again, and Remus, feeling like just going to sleep there and then, gestured for her to speak. "How could Harry and Malfoy's duel be so powerful, Professor Lupin?"

"Because of reasons that I find it rather taxing to explain. Please leave it at that, Miss Granger." Hearing Remus call her by her surname rather than her name, Hermione knew it was time to stop, and she quietly folded her hands in her lap. Harry and Draco, who had chosen to sit at opposite ends of the otherwise empty back row, heaved inner sighs of relief.

"As you know, we're promoting inter-house friendships. We had the pairings pre-arranged, but in light of present circumstances, I am going to change them. Now, Goyle, Crabbe, Seamus, Davis, and Parvati will be in one group, while Lavender, Jordan, Neville, Rhimes, and Bulstrode in the second. I originally intended for the remaining six of you to be in one group, but after that display – Harry and Malfoy, you'll be paired. Put that energy to good use." Remus had realized that if they could master those advanced spells, the project he had originally intended to give them would have been a piece of cake.

The two boys merely nodded, inwardly groaning, but they figured they had used up their amount of Public Emotional Displays for the day, and so they had to act extra cold and uncaring for the rest of it, so as to discourage any interaction following their actions.

Lupin gave out instructions for each group. Seamus's group had to research on ways of curbing dangerous dark creatures, and also demonstrate with at least one live subject. He wanted full-length essays on at least ten creatures that they had not covered so far, including their habitats, their weaknesses, their strengths; and the more rare, the better. Neville's group had to research on at least twenty defensive dark curses and their effects, origins, and counter-spells, and find examples of them being used. Hermione's group would research on at least twenty aggressive dark curses, their effects, origins, and counter-spells, plus cures to those curses that actually hit. They had to present it all at the end of term.

Remus then turned to his last pair. The two had moved so that they had only two seats between them, not one row. It was an improvement, he supposed. It would do for now. He thought for a while. What else could he give them?

Ah, yes, there was that, but… was it too hard for them? No, they had an entire term, and he knew that their intelligence ran deep. Besides, it would give them something time-consuming to do, which hopefully would occupy them enough. Remus eyed them critically. "Both of you have been doing research in secret, and practicing spells, haven't you?" They looked back at him silently. "Yes, I thought so. I realized that there was no use giving you those projects since you've already studied them on your own. So I'm going to give you one that you might find very taxing, but you brought it upon yourself."

He hesitated. Could he trust Malfoy, even though Dumbledore had vouched for the boy? No, he was still wary of anyone in the Malfoy line. But… even if he couldn't trust Malfoy, he could trust Harry. No matter how withdrawn he was, Harry was still Harry, deep down. He would always do the right thing, and had proved it time and again, which was why the world trusted him to save it. Him and no one else, because saving the world once had matured him far beyond his age… in some aspects. In others, like matters of the heart, he was still a confused child.

"I've been researching ancient texts on dark potions and spells. It's slow going, since everything is coded and impossible to read unless you have the key to the code. There are a few texts that I have puzzled over for very long but am still unable to decode, and have no time to do so." He did not add that the information inside could save many people and help the Light to victory, but if in the wrong hands, would be a deadly power for the Dark. If Malfoy betrayed them…

Just remember – trust Harry, Remus told himself.

"You're both learning Ancient Runes, and the knowledge will help you, added to the fact that you're both smart and your ways of thinking haven't been set yet, which means you might see something in these texts that I did not. However, this is very important and thus top secret, and so I would like you both to keep anything you find from the rest of your peers. Report to me on your progress constantly; and immediately if there is any breakthrough. Do not let anything slip, and tell me anything personally – no letters, no messages, nothing. I trust you boys to keep this secret."

He paused, as a thought occurred to him. "Oh, yes, you won't be researching here – I shall arrange for you to have a private room to use, only accessible to you both, myself and the Headmaster. I'll send you a note, tomorrow, perhaps. The books will be placed there, and may not be removed at any time, so if you need them, you have to stay in the room. Any questions?"

Draco and Harry glared at each other, then turned to look sullenly at their teacher, who was looking tired and had the beginnings of what looked like annoyance on his normally kind face. "No, sir." They felt like they had caused the professor enough trouble for one day. Even though the Slytherins acted cool and disdainful of their DADA professor, they respected him most after Professor Snape and before even McGonagall, and it showed in the way they behaved when he was around. It didn't have anything to do with the fact he was a werewolf – that was widely known and accepted with ease by the students, though not most of the parents.

"Good. Wait here while I brief the rest of the class, and then we'll visit the Headmaster's office." He walked off to the front of the room, and told the class in his clear, authoritative voice to continue on with their work and when the bell rang, he would come back to let them off. And when he did, he didn't want to see any trace of there having been a fight, or it was detention for every single person – for the entire term. That, more than anything else, told the class how thin Professor Lupin's patience was stretched.

Silently, as the class got down to work, Harry and Draco followed Professor Lupin out with their books clutched tightly in their arms. Withering glances were exchanged every step of the way until they arrived at a stone gargoyle, glaring at them menacingly from its perch.

"Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans," Remus said crisply.

The statue did not move.

"Oh dear, he must have changed the password since the last time I used it," Remus sighed. "Well then. Give it a try, boys. I never was one for too many sweets, except Sugar Quills."

Harry and Draco put aside their grievances for the moment to tackle this daunting task. They suggested out all sorts of names they could think of, from Chocolate Frogs to Pepper Imps to Blood-flavoured Lollipops. But still the gargoyle sat there, seeming to gloat over their frustration.

"Perhaps we should wait for Professor McGonagall or someone else to come by," muttered Remus, glaring balefully at the statue. Dammit, he did not need another headache!

Draco looked thoughtfully at the statue and shrugged. Worth a try, and it'd be just like the old bat. "Wonder Wheezes? Clown Chews?"

Harry stared at Draco, forgetting his enmity toward the blond in his surprise. "But those are invented by the Weasley twins!" he blurted. He'd tried it once, and his nose had swollen and turned a bright red, his hair had fizzed out in all colours imaginable, his skin had sprouted feathers, and his feet had enlarged to a ridiculous size. Since the Slytherin disliked the Weasleys (dislike being a rather bland word), and hated loosing his composure and dignity, Harry couldn't imagine him trying the sweet.

Draco looked at Harry coolly. "Yes, I'm not an idiot. I find it amusing. It makes fools out of the idiots while letting me have a laugh at their expense," he sneered at Harry; not mentioning that, he, Blaise and Pansy, in one of their more silly moments, ate the sweets and tried to compare who looked the stupidest though they could hardly focus for the tears of laughter in their eyes. The memory brought warmth to his heart, though his expression continued to be as icy as ever.

The grating of stone broke the beginning of another confrontation, as the gargoyle hopped to the side the stairs began to spiral their way up. Lupin was already on the moving stone, one eyebrow raised. "Coming?" he asked mildly. "You wouldn't want to keep the professors waiting." Harry suppressed a shudder, as he got on with Draco right behind. Apprehension filled him as they rose higher with every second, nearing what Harry dreaded would be his doom.

He would soon prove himself right.

Well, in Harry's point of view he'd be right, anyway. Doom. But in the interest of HPDM development… then it's aaaaall good. Heh.

Any comments or critique are very welcome – constructive critique in particular. Thanks for reading so far! It gets fun after this.

I edited this chap a lot, a lot a lot a lot. Changed the entire fight scene, for one. Hope it sounds better now… Thanks to all those who reviewed! Yes, Sirius might have been rather OOC in the last chapter, sorry.

Next Chap: Harry gets a pie in his face. Moo ha ha ha.

Ashen Skies
"Mentally, anyway."