Notes: If you're disturbed by the thought of boys kissing boys, maybe you'd better go someplace else. The boys in this case happen to be Draco and Ron. Cigarettes by the shores of the black lake.

* * * * *

Deep Water

I thought I had fallen into deep water.
(Lord of the Rings)

I remember the first time that I truly saw you.

Autumn was dying. Dried leaves skittered along the gravel path, crunching beneath my feet as I walked out into the grounds. Over the browning grass and to the edge of the woods, to the lake that lay nearly as flat and shining as a sheet of metal. And then I heard you crying.

You were crouched by the lakeshore, collar high around your neck and eyes red with tears. There were stones in your hand; one by one, you were skimming them across the water. At least, you were trying to, because as I recall they sank with barely a splash. Swallowed.

It startled me to see you there because I wasn't used to seeing you at all. You were a shadow, a nothing, a no one. Second best since the day you were born.

But on that day I saw you for the first time, and found that you were beautiful.

When you saw me approaching you practically spat with disgust, scrambling to your feet and wiping your face hastily. "Who gave you the right to spy on me, Malfoy?"

I smiled at you sweetly, real emotions buried, hoping to needle you into a rage. "The world doesn't revolve around you, Weasley." My smile curved a little brighter. "Ah, but I believe you already knew that..." Your eyes narrowed; I shrugged airily. "I went for a walk And catching you here, snivelling pathetically - well, that's just a bonus."

You glared. Lips trembling and eyes so near to weeping. But you wouldn't actually do it, break down, not in front of me. I could never make you cry.

You folded your arms, so I folded mine. You stepped forward with your fists clenched, so I stepped forward too.

Face to face. Breath to breath.

I think I wanted to kiss you. I think you wanted me to. But then you shoved me away, and the next thing I knew I was sprawled on the ground with the sound of your running footsteps fading into the autumn dusk.

* * * * *

The next time he made you cry, you were the one who came to me. It was winter by this time and again I was by the black lake, trying to warm my insides by smoking cigarette after cigarette (stolen from my mother's bag, though I suspect she knew).

I think I heard you coming. Footsteps crunching in the snow. But maybe I just added in the sound of your boots afterwards, going back and forth over the memory till I rubbed it smooth and bright. I can't really recall. These days I only remember the important things...

Like the fact that you came to me. You came right up and tapped me on the shoulder.

I make it a point never to be caught off balance. "Crying again," I observed casually as I turned, cigarette hanging from my lips and hands in my pockets. "It's him, isn't it?"

You jerked your head in assent. "He doesn't even know I exist," you said bitterly.

"Yes, he does," I replied calmly. "Just not the way you want him to. Best friends and all that."

Angry shake of your head. "God, I hate you," you said. "You know too goddamn much." You took the cigarette from my mouth like a mourner picking a rose. "So I guess you must know why I'm here."

"I know."

I put my mouth over yours. I remember you tasted like innocence.

Later, you told me I tasted of ashes.

* * * * *

So it began. With a breath. With a kiss.

But I would not touch you for the rest of the long winter. You ignored me, passed me by in the corridors and turned your shoulder in the hall. Not so much as a spiteful glance, a sarcastic remark - things I had come to expect from you.

No, you were too busy with him. Your golden boy. Seven years of loving him and you loved him still. You pretended I didn't exist because you were too busy staring into the eyes of someone who didn't even know what they were looking at. Too busy trying to forget that you had come to me with frost on your lashes and desire in your lips.

But I did not forget.

Winter passed. The snow thawed. The rivers ran loud and bright and strong.

And you came to me again. I knew you would.

* * * * *

I remember that spring so clearly. The new grass crushed easily and left sap-stains on bare legs and arms, on white pale bodies newly emerged from winter cocoons. I loved to just watch you, all lanky limbs and a height to match my own, skin so fair it never tanned and hair as red as morning. Loved to watch you and watch you, until you blushed and snapped at me irritably. And sometimes you smiled as well... These memories are good.

We found a stream in the hills above Hogsmeade in our search for somewhere private. Long afternoons spent swimming there, piles of discarded clothing on the bank and blue sky overhead. Coming up splashing and your arm around my waist. Then your lips against my neck. I closed my eyes and held you.

I think we may have been happy. Yes, I'm fairly sure we must have been happy.

But not for long, never for long. Because for you happiness meant guilt. And guilt meant waiting - days or weeks before you would agree to meet me again.

But I always waited; you were always the one who called the shots. No fear of me losing interest, for I knew I would have waited forever to touch you just one more time. I think you knew it too.

* * * * *

I was the deep dark pool you used to drown your sorrows. You were the clear bright water with which I washed away my sins.

But you only came to me because you loved him, couldn't have him, never would. You came to me because I was everything he was not.

How I hated him. Because he could make you cry so easily and I never could. Because you wanted him so badly that it hurt you. Because even though I was the only one who saw who you truly were, you still wanted him more than me.

Every time we were together, he was between us. Sometimes you even said the wrong name. Afterwards I would smooth back the hair from your forehead, lay my ear against your heartbeat, and pretend I hadn't heard. But we both knew the truth.

And if it wasn't his name, it was 'Malfoy'. Malfoy, never Draco. I called you by your first name. Why couldn't you do the same?

I hate you. I love you.

* * * * *

It had to end. Everything I touch turns to ashes, sooner or later.

But did it have to end like this?

There are no answers. I stand here now by the black lake in the autumn dusk, collar turned up and hat pulled down, pale cigarette hanging from my lip. Asking questions to the wind.

You're gone now. Taken by the lake. The boy who lived is living still, thanks to you, yet even for that I can't bring myself to hate him anymore. All I can think of is you, resting cold and pale on the lake's stony bed, bleak and alone and so very very dead.

You wouldn't have done it for me...

But did you know that I'd do it for you?

Oh, yes. I'd do it. I am doing it now.

Just this one last cigarette, Ron, and then I'll see you on the other side.


Disclaimer: all belongs to J.K. Rowling. I do but tread lightly on her territory.