AN: Hey, just taking a break from my two WIPs at the mo to pen this little one-shot that had been spinning round in my head and just had to be written! Hope you all enjoy, let me know what you think, I'd love to hear any comments you have. Big huge thanks to my BETA XxRoGuExHeArTxX, who gave this a once-over for me. Hope you enjoy.
Harry landed on the ground awkwardly as the rain continued to lash about his face. In all his time at Hogwarts he'd never known a quidditch match to be called off half-way through; but these conditions were perilous and he was certain there would be at least one fatality if they continued their endeavours. He raked his hair back from his eyes and scanned the pitch as he watched the other members of the Gryffindor and Slytherin teams touched down, all completely drenched; even the ever-pristine Malfoy was looking thoroughly dishevelled.
"The match will be re-scheduled for some time next week," Madame Hooch informed them, striding over to join the two teams.
"I wouldn't be surprised if one of them conjured this storm, we were kicking their arses so badly and it didn't look as if Wonder Boy here was planning on catching the snitch any time soon," came Draco's lazy drawl over the incessant pounding of the rain.
"You didn't look as if you were planning on stirring yourself to action either Malfoy," Harry retorted. "Last time I looked your way, you were having trouble staying on your broom," he said, enjoying the look that took up residence on the blond boy's features.
"Potter, the number of times I've lost my balance during a quidditch match is precisely zero, I can't even begin to count the number of times you have," he replied. Both seemed to have momentarily forgotten that they were practically being drowned in the storm that was becoming more violent by the second.
"Well I always knew you were a bit challenged, I suppose it would be cruel to ask you to count," Harry replied, a glint appearing in his eyes as the two boys stepped closer to each other, heat radiating off the both of them despite the bitter cold.
"Now then boys, we've managed to avoid any injuries so far, let's not tempt fate. Off to the locker rooms, go on!" said Madame Hooch, stepping between the two boys and separating them, giving them nudges to follow their team-mates.
"What a prat," said Ron as Harry fell into step beside him. "Why his father didn't send him to Durmstrang is beyond me, I would have been eternally grateful to the bastard!"
Harry simply laughed in reply, throwing one last glance over his shoulder at the blond, whom he found was looking back. He raised an eyebrow and Malfoy smirked; after years of practice and oh-so-careful study, they had each perfected the art of getting under the other's skin.
He peeled his quidditch robes off when he entered the locker room, casting them aside, glad to be free of the weight. Stepping into the shower stall, he removed the rest of his clothing, throwing it haphazardly away; he'd find it later. He yanked the cog counter-clockwise and exhaled deeply as he felt the scalding water flow over his now aching body. Whilst he always enjoyed every quidditch match, every time he was granted the freedom of riding the wind, it always left him slightly sore and tense. The shower was a welcome relief. His shoulders relaxed as the gloriously hot water seeped into his bones and gently removed the chill that had settled there for the painful hour of the match.
"Hey mate, I'll see you back up in the common room. I promised Hermione I'd get back," said Ron with a wink. He knew his friend's penchant for ridiculously long showers and that there would be ample time to have some 'quality time' with his girlfriend before Harry returned.
"Ok," said Harry with a laugh, as Ron left, a hand raised above his head in goodbye.
After spending a good solid twenty minutes under the soothing caress of the water, he turned off the tap and stepped out, wrapping a towel round his waist. He collected his discarded clothing, growling in frustration when he failed to find his tie; he really had to stop throwing his belongings in unknown directions.
"Problem Potter?" he looked up and found Draco leaning against the doorframe, arms folded, the familiar smirk on her face.
"Nothing that you can help me with, I'm sure," Harry replied, becoming incredibly aware that he was clothed only a towel, and not the biggest one at that.
"Aw, I'm hurt, right here," Draco said, placing a hand over the left side of his chest. "Not usually my most vulnerable spot," he added, stepping forward, glancing down at the towel around Harry's waist with a raised eyebrow. "Do you really think that's appropriate attire for confrontation with the enemy?" he asked.
"Well I wasn't expecting a confrontation now was I? And might I remind you that this is the Gryffindor locker room, you have no business being here," Harry said, locking eyes with the Slytherin.
"Au contraire, Potter; I have every business being here," he said, his voice a low whisper, and without warning he grabbed Harry round the neck and pulled him into a rough kiss, bruising the brunette's full lips. Harry found himself pushed up against the lockers, Draco's fingers suddenly working their way through his soaking hair, teasing every single pressure point of his scalp. He couldn't help but let a soft moan escape him as Draco's tongue sought out his own, a wonderful bitter-sweetness invading his senses as he probed and explored, sending uncontrollable shivers down Harry's spine. Draco finally pulled away, his breathing harsh and ragged, a feral grin on his lips.
"You took your time," said Harry, his grin matching the blond's.
"I know how you like your long showers," Draco replied with a shrug.
"You know how I like to share them too," returned Harry, leaning in for another kiss, his arms snaking around Draco's waist, tugging him closer, Draco's arms settling in their familiar place round Harry's neck. "I love it when it rains," he whispered against Draco's cheek.
"Brings back memories does it?" the blond asked with a smirk, his hands idly playing with Harry's raven locks.
"Mmm," Harry murmured, the feel of Draco's hands and body sending him back to another day when it had rained so hard no one dared set foot outside, well, almost no one.
The oppressive thrum of the common room was slowly sending Harry insane. With the weather being so awful, everyone had piled inside, leaving no room for the Gryffindor to simply sit in peace, mulling over his thoughts. Ron and Hermione had taken up residence in a secluded corner; at least, Harry thought gratefully, he wasn't forced to sit and watch them. Deciding he could no longer bear to be imprisoned in a room full of people next to whom a nuclear explosion would seem faint, he grabbed his outer cloak and shot out of the portrait before anyone could accost him and force him into an unwanted conversation.
Not really having a destination in mind, he simply strode through the icy corridors of Hogwarts, letting out a sigh of relief at the freedom of being away from everything. He paused at one of the windows, closing his eyes with a smile as the wind whipped sheets of rain across his face, making him feel refreshed and alive. When he looked down a frown spread across his features as he saw there was a figure standing alone on the quidditch pitch, head hung, hardly seeming to notice the torrential weather that was currently lashing him.
Forgetting that he had specifically left the common to avoid company, he decided to investigate, his boyish curiosity once again getting the better of him. Upon nearing the pitch, his heart sank as he realised exactly who it was that was standing there, hands shoved into trouser pockets, shirt soaked through and blond hair matted to his skull. Draco Malfoy; the one person he had been avoiding since the start of term.
Upon arriving back for his 7th year, Harry had noticed a change in the blond. He was withdrawn and quiet, hardly ever insulting Harry and the others, hardly ever saying a word to anyone for that matter. Against his better judgement, Harry had begun to pay more and more attention to his somewhat deflated 'enemy'; that had been a very serious mistake on Harry's part. As he studied the other boy more intently, he reluctantly admitted that there was a strange beauty to him, the kind of beauty that existed in a piece of exquisite art. It couldn't be named or described, couldn't be replicated; it just was. He was ethereal, distant, mystifying and Harry felt himself drawn to him, unable to resist the unexplainable attraction.
"Malfoy?" he ventured tentatively, not even sure if the other boy was aware of his presence. He thought he saw Draco's head tilt slightly, but he couldn't be sure. "Malfoy?" he said again, a little louder. "What are you doing out here? You must be freezing."
Harry frowned, unsure of what to do or say. He was about to make another attempt when Draco took a deep breath and said, "It doesn't make sense does it?"
"What doesn't?" Harry asked, confused.
"Any of it," he expanded. "You think it does, everything has its own neat little box with its little label and everything's fine, perfect. But then your eyes are opened just that little bit wider and suddenly it all falls apart. Nothing fits anywhere anymore, and nothing's right. It's all so….messed up," he finished, his steel-grey eyes focused on a far-away point that Harry wasn't even sure existed.
"What's wrong? Has something happened?" he asked, hoping that maybe he'd be allowed to learn the secret behind Draco's unusual behaviour, the mystery behind the tragic beauty would be unlocked.
Draco turned to face him, his hair dripping across his forehead, plastered down by the sweeping sheets of rain. In his eyes there was a look so unreadable, so intense that Harry almost moved back a step or two in shock and wonder. But he was still beautiful, he always would be. "We're pawns you and I," he said softly. "I never realised it before, I always thought I was my own master, in charge of my own destiny. I should have realised what a stupid idea that was sooner. I would have saved myself a lot of trouble. It's much easier to bear when you realise you don't have a choice," he whispered, and Harry could have sworn those eyes were boring into his very soul, seeking out all that lay buried there.
The pieces of the puzzle slowly started to click into place in Harry's mind and he realised that if he were to act then, at that moment, he might just be able to help the boy, he might be able to preserve that beauty. "You're wrong, Draco," he said softly, biting back a smile at how right it felt to say that name. "We all have choices, they're not easy sometimes, but we have them nevertheless. There's always another way, there's always another path that we can take, although sometimes it's hard to see that. Sometimes you have to really want to find it. You can fight back, Draco, stop being a pawn and make your own decisions. Acceptance is a coward's game," he finished, hoping to ignite a spark of anger in the other boy with that sentence, hoping to see a sign that at least a fragment of the old Draco still existed.
"Then maybe I'm a coward," he replied quietly, turning away from Harry. But he wasn't in Gryffindor for nothing, he didn't give up that easily.
"I can't believe you're going to give up just like that!" he said, grabbing the blond's shoulder and turning him round to face him. "You're stronger than that. What happened to the pride and the arrogance? What happened to the sneers and smirks? How can you possibly let someone walk all over you like this? I thought you were better than that, I thought you had a mind of your own, that you could think and act for yourself," he said, his voice rising.
"Oh it's so easy for you isn't it Potter?" Draco asked, and Harry could have leapt at the sight of something behind those eyes, the smallest flares of anger. That was more like it. "You go around giving little speeches to people, telling them how they can be all they can be, all they need to do is listen to their hearts and they can do anything. Well it's bullshit, Potter, you know it as well as I do. Life isn't perfect and happy with fluffy white clouds and hearts and sentimentality…"
"No it bloody well isn't!" Harry cut him off. "It's hard and it's painful, but you grit your teeth and you keep on going because in the end, that's all you possibly can do. You can't give up, I won't let you give up."
"Why do you even care?" Draco asked in exasperation.
"I don't know!" Harry yelled back, hardly aware anymore of the rain or the wind or the huge clap of thunder that had just sounded overhead. "Ever since the start of term I've watched you and for some unknown reason I can't stop! You've pulled me in and try as I might I can't pull myself back out and…I don't even know if I want to anymore. I'm in too deep now, you can't expect me to just walk away, and if you do, you really don't know me very well," he said fiercely, not caring that he seemed to be pouring out his innermost thoughts to the most unlikely of people. "You can fight this, Draco, you don't have to be a carbon copy of your father, you can make your own choices, live your own life. Don't you think it's about time you stepped out of his shadow?"
"It's not that easy," the blond replied, his eyes going to the ground, battling with the various pieces of information he had just received that had sent his mind reeling.
"Of course it isn't, nothing ever is. I'm not saying that you'll wake up tomorrow and everything will have gone away, your troubles will be over and you'll never have to go through the hardships. Of course you will. I'm not saying that life after that will be easy either, you'll have people to convince, obstacles to overcome, and it will all be difficult. What I am saying is that you don't have to do it alone," he finished quietly, his eyes also going to the floor, trying to figure out why on earth he was doing this.
"I'm scared," Draco murmured after a long silence. Harry rested a tentative hand on his shoulder, trying, and failing, to ignore the surge of electricity the contact had sent through his body.
"Of course you are," he said gently, causing Draco to look up and meet his eyes, something that Harry realised was actually a rather rare thing. Never in all his seven years at Hogwarts had he made and maintained such intense and focused eye contact as he was doing at the moment. It was a somewhat heady experience. As nothing that evening was making sense, and as he'd been acting on impulse the entire time, he decided to do so again; he leant forward and crushed Draco's lips with his own. He was about to pull back when he felt the blond respond against him and suddenly he was standing in the middle of the quidditch pitch with Draco's arms around his neck and his own arms round Draco's waist, kissing him for all he was worth. It was a kiss full of pain, full of promise, an outlet for every emotion that had been coursing through them and hadn't been granted release. Harry revelled in the bitter-sweet taste that invaded his senses as his tongue met Draco's in urgency and passion all mingled together with anger and hurt and fear. It was almost too much to bear. When they finally broke apart, they were breathless and dizzy, overwhelmed by the torrent of sensations that threatened to overpower them.
"It's raining," Draco whispered, his arms still around Harry's neck, his fingers lacing themselves through the sleeky black locks at the nape of Harry's neck.
"I know," Harry replied with a faint laugh. "That's why I came out here; to see what kind of moron would stand alone in the middle of a god-awful storm, getting drenched from head to foot."
"Oh," Draco responded softly, his eyes fluttering closed for a moment with the feel of Harry's hands on his back. "I always wish for the rain, it washes everything clean, it always brings answers,"
"Of course it did, it brought me," he said with a smile, leaning in once again to experience the taste he found he now couldn't live without.
"Are you planning on returning the land of consciousness any time soon, Potter?" came Draco's voice, breaking through Harry's delicious memories.
"Sorry," he laughed, returning his attention to the pouting blond before him. "Just remembering that time," he said, knowing no further explanation was needed.
"Make sure you never forget it," Draco said with a smirk. "I'll always wish for the rain, so it can always remind you that it brought you to me,"
"Drake, I don't need any reminders, I promise you, I'll never forget it," he said, pressing his lips against Draco's shivering in delight at the familiar bitter-sweet taste he had come to love with a passion that was undeterred. It was his, he had claimed it, just as he had claimed everything of Draco's; the way he tasted, the way he smelt, the way he moved, the way he spoke. Everything was his and he treasured it. "I love you," he whispered as Draco's lips left his, moving to the sensitive spot on his neck that Draco always favoured.
"And I love you," Draco murmured against the soft flesh. "My saviour," he added with a laugh. "Now," he said, his voice becoming husky. "If you'd care to remove that towel, I can prove to you just how much."