"Serpensortia!", Draco shouted, his wand well-aimed in his raised arm; and suddenly I was so proud of him, this pale angel of the dark side, the son of power and arrogance. And indeed he has learned a lot, and grown a lot too, so lean and dignified -every day a bit more alike his father-, so very different from the child of two years ago. But then his eyes met mine, just like that first day in my class, and, with a glance as anxious and helpless as nobody will know but me, he was a child again, frightened before his teacher. And he was craving for my approbation -his eyes begged for it.

I can´t smile to him, for the same reason that I can't call him Draco. I didn´t smile to him; I never do. But I held his glance, like I had done back then, and he knew. It hurted a little when his eyes parted. He beamed at the sight of what he had done.

There was a snake facing Potter: a perfect, gleaming snake hissing at Gryffindor's golden boy, an image like a picture in a blazon. It seemed the golden boy in question had been taken off guard by this. He wasn´t moving, while I could almost hear that nasty girl Granger thinking of ten different, convenient spells he could be casting right now. He wasn´t. All ruffled hair and huge eyes, his body tense as if about to flee as an animal in the wild -not that that's his style, of course. But time felt like pooled in a still puddle as Harry kept doing nothing, standing there with those previously mentioned ruffled hair and wide eyes and slighty parted lips that I was unable to stop looking at.

It took me all that time to realize that he could actually get attacked and injured.

"Don't move, Potter", I said. "I'll get rid of it". And he turned his head up and looked at me, more scared that I had though.

That eyes of his. Stop looking at him. I raised my wand, cue Mr. Perpetually-Attention-Craving Lockhart to enter the scene. "Allow me!", he yelped, and casted a preposterous spell that made the snake jump several feet into the air and land back in as healthy a state as before. Only now it was furious and ready to strike. It moved towards the students that crowded around the duelling stage.

I sensed Draco by my side, but I searched for Potter. He was not looking at me. Those eyes of his. Those huge, scared, angry eyes of his. And then those eyes narrowed, fixed on the snake, and he hissed, "Leave him".

But not in English. In Parseltongue.

He was not scared anymore, nor was his body conveying that attitude, as though willing to hide. He stood there as tall as he was, those hisses and whooshing sounds coming from him as commands of a king in the battlefield, and a stern look on his face.

"Don´t do that... Back away, leave him", he said again, all his attention on the snake, and through the thick veil of awe that surrounded me I heard the muttering. All wizard-born students knew what was going on. The heir of Slytherin. The gift of the snake, that Salazar had and He Who Must Not Be Named had before this kid came up with the ultimate surprise.

But I though nothing of the kind as he stood on the edge of the stage and broke the snake in to his power. What I though, utterly, desperately trapped, drinking of the sight of him, was: Hell, I´m damned. I´m damned, damned, damned and that face of his will kill me, that face of his and that body towering over us like a king and a God-sent storm and a thirteen-year-old kid all at once. And he hissed and he reigned and my own body was moving beyond my control, and among the waves of sensation I was vaguely aware and thankful that my robe would cover it as it had done a thousand times, when I stared at him in the classroom, that face, those eyes and those lips as he took notes of every single word my voice dropped for him, just for him, and talked to his Weasley friend in a whisper whose sound I would take to bed with me that night, and there was that smile, brighter than daylight, and his hand, busy with roots and fungi, measuring the exact amount of something, dancing around the cauldron, and I would though of love filters and would watch and watch up to the edge of the biten nails those hands that made me bristle with pure desire.

The realization that I was still in the dueling club struck me as hard as the sudden silence. At my right, Draco was gasping, almost inaudibly. He looked at me, his brow frowned in the same gesture that his father sports so often, a kind of questioning anger. I shouldn't have thought of Lucius at that moment, because Lucius is said to have a neat little wooden cupboard by his bed (a bed he doesn´t share with Narcissa) and in that cupboard a nifty collection of handcuffs and snake-engraved steel blades that, according to his infamous fame, he likes to use on young boys with an impunity assured by his wealth, his power and his cynism. And so I looked at Harry once more and thought: I´m damned and I´ll rot in this love beyond all interdictions, and I´ll never have you, and I´ll never have you, but you should be by my side, young master of the snake.

One of the boys in the crowd, right opposite him, was looking from his face to mine and back, pale as death. The snake had crowled back and was only a few steps from us, quite far from the students. That boy facing Harry -a Hufflepuff, I think he was- let out a sort of terrified whimpering, then cried, "What do you think you're playing at!".

Harry blinked, thunderstruck as well, it seemed, by the impossible reality of it all. He bit his lower lip and licked it quickly. He raised his hand to his throat, as though in pain after having payed his visit to the dark land of coldness and poison and open-eyed sleep and fascination -all the things a snake is. His lips were red and glistening now, and he was but a confounded teenager -with a strange aura of might about him, for all of us were still seeing him as he had just been, a master of all slithering creatures hissing his will in a tongue more ancient that the human race.

And I knew that I was damned when he looked at me and I looked back into his eyes, unbearably wide and scared and large and green and unable to read in mine what I was thinking.

I'm so damned. I'm dying and damned with the need of you. And I shall never have you, never have you, and I am not giving up on this damned love.

This you couldn't hear, love. And I came forward, a step closer to you, and took care of the snake you had talked to. Weasley was tugging at your sleeve, your eyes left me. You left me, slipped from me in the company of your friends who never parted from you, and I so envied them, and I so envied Lucius Malfoy, and all was black smoke and the students´ low mumbling and Draco´s hard grey gaze by my side.

I put my wand back inside my robes, like one who has been defeated, and rushed out the room. I could still hear your hiss demanding me to serve you, and everybody know all things cold and poisonous obey Parseltongue.