Author's Notes: Warning, this slash fanfic contains plot. This may or may not render it suitable for your slashy needs. For it is a truth universally acknowledged, that occasionally, or perhaps all the time, the keen slash reader must be in want of porn without plot. (Who hasn't scrolled their way through the chapters of a long slash fic thinking, 'Come on, where's the sex?') For your plot-avoiding convenience, I will be marking certain future chapter titles with the word: Shagging! You know what to expect there...

Archiving is fine and reviews are welcome. In fact, they're compulsory. Go on! Click on that review link when you've finished reading, it won't take you a second!

Thank you to Isis for beta reading this chapter.

The Bodyguard is the July 2007 Quill to Parchment Best Trio Era Fanfic Award Winner, Runner Up.

Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all the characters are copyright J.K. Rowling.


The Bodyguard

Chapter 1: The Tiniest Drop of Pity

As he languished, manacled and bruised, in a Death Eater's cell, Harry's only positive thought was that Hermione and Ron were off chasing Hufflepuff's Cup in Cornwall and were thankfully well away from his current predicament.

A lumpy-looking Death Eater sneered lopsidedly through the bars. "Comfortable Potter?"

"Frankly, Amycus, I'm not." Harry's manacles rattled on the dirty, stone floor. Breaking free would have been the work of a moment with his wand, but said item was currently in the hands of Amycus, who shook it and gave a wheezy laugh as he watched Harry struggle.

"Missing your wand, Potter? You'll get it back soon enough, when the Dark Lord arrives. I hear he plans to complete the death duel he started on his rebirth day."

"Ah, yes, the graveyard duel. How could I forget?" Harry's wrists and ankles were bleeding from his futile efforts to get free.

"Sit tight, Potter. It won't take long. In fact, I go to summon the Dark Lord right now," said Amycus. He looked over his shoulder. "Malfoy! Malfoy get here and watch Potter until the Dark Lord arrives."

Startled by the familiar name, Harry sat up, as far as his manacles allowed. Malfoy? Lucius Malfoy was in Azkaban. That only left Draco or Narcissa, his mother. The last time Harry had seen Draco was on the top of the Astronomy Tower at Hogwarts, trying (and failing) to murder Albus Dumbledore.

A figure wearing dark green robes, with slumped shoulders and a bowed, hooded head, appeared at the door and stopped, apparently uncertain or shocked. "Get a move on, Draco," snapped Amycus, and the figure stepped forward and slowly pushed back its hood, revealing a pale, pointed face and dirty, white-blond hair.

Harry stared. It was Draco, all right, but changed almost out of recognition. The last time Harry had seen him, he'd still had the familiar flash of pure-blood arrogance and pride, despite the greying skin and dark shadows under his eyes that months under the threat of death had given him.

The Draco in front of Harry now had no pride, and no hope. He'd lost a lot of weight and his robes flapped around him. His face was greyer than ever, his pale eyes sunken and dull. His face was marked with bruises and he stared at Harry with a blank look of despair and fear. Despite his own predicament, the tiniest drop of pity rose up in Harry. What had Voldemort and the Death Eaters done to Draco to reduce him to this state?

Amycus thumped Draco on the shoulder and the blow shook his thin frame. "Now listen, boy," said Amycus. "You keep watch on Potter here. It's a simple enough task for you and one you must get right. The Dark Lord is getting very tired of you. You failed to kill Dumbledore. You didn't kill a single Muggle on our Inferi making mission last week. Anyone would think you were a weak, Muggle-loving fool, and we know what happens to them, don't we? I said, DON'T WE MALFOY?"

The sudden shout snapped Draco's despairing gaze away from Harry and he looked up at Amycus with reddened eyes. "Yes, sir," he breathed.

"Good," snarled Amycus, striking Draco on the shoulder again. He reached into his robes, pulled out Harry's wand and handed it to Draco. "Take this and keep it until the Dark Lord arrives. This is your last chance, Draco. Fail me and you'll end up like your stinking mother." Cackling horribly, Amycus hobbled from the room.

Draco watched him leave. He ran his fingers up and down Harry's wand, as if fighting an urge to use it on the departing Death Eater.

Harry waited until Amycus's footsteps faded away before he spoke. "Hullo Malfoy," he whispered. It seemed strange to be talking to his old school rival under such circumstances. He expected Draco to gloat.

Draco turned and looked at him. After a moment, he said, "Potter, I can't believe you're here..." There was no sign of gloating on his face. Harry had never seen his rival look so defeated.

"What did they do to your ... I mean, is your mother all right?" asked Harry. He could remember Narcissa Malfoy from the Quidditch World Cup several years ago; a white-blonde woman who'd looked very much like her son.

"She's dead," said Draco simply. "My Aunt Bellatrix murdered her when she refused to kill Muggles last week. Shot her down like a dog. I didn't even get a chance to bury her. She's probably out there now - an Inferius." His voice became unsteady and he bowed his head.

Harry gaped at him. "That's awful! I'm sorry," he burst out without thinking. He straightened up and his manacles pulled tight.

Draco lifted his head and a trace of his old spirit and hatred came back into his eyes. "What do you care, Potter? You said my mother looked like she had dung under her nose, whenever I was around!" He pushed Harry's wand into his robes.

"Malfoy, I really AM sorry," said Harry. "What I said back then was stupid. Kid's stuff. This is serious. I know how you feel. I lost my mother too." He lowered his voice, checking towards the door to make sure no one else was listening. "I didn't want you or any of your family to suffer, Malfoy. Dumbledore wouldn't have wanted it. I saw what happened on the Astronomy Tower."

Draco blinked at him. "You can't have. I was up there alone with Dumbledore," he said with alarm.

"I was there under my invisibility cloak. There were two broomsticks, remember?" said Harry.

Very slowly, Draco nodded.

"Dumbledore froze me so I couldn't intervene. I saw what happened. How you couldn't bring yourself to kill Dumbledore. How he offered to help you, hide you," Harry went on.

Glancing back at the door himself, Draco stepped closer to the bars. "Dumbledore offered my family sanctuary," he said in a soft, bitter voice. "How I wish I'd had time to take it. My mother would still be alive."

Harry said nothing, but looked at Draco with sympathy. The Slytherin cut a lonely figure. Everything in his world had changed beyond recognition. Nobody knew better than Harry what that felt like.

Biting his lip, Draco crouched down. It took him a moment to speak, as if he were trying to pluck up the courage, "Is it true you're the Chosen One?" he whispered.

"Yes, it's true," said Harry. He felt tired and sore. The Death Eater attack had come out of the blue in Godric's Hollow and he had had only hours to recover since then. Now he was faced with certain death within an hour. He doubted Voldemort would let him escape this time.

"The only one who can defeat ... You Know Who?" persisted Draco. His face was paler than ever under his bruises, but his grey eyes glittered.

"Voldemort?" Harry watched Draco flinch. "Yes," Harry went on in a dull voice. "That's supposed to be me. I am the Chosen One."

Draco grasped the bars and pushed his face between them, crouching down further until their heads were level. "Harry," he whispered fiercely. "The death duel will be against the Dark Lord and at least fifty Death Eaters. You won't stand a chance." There was no triumph or gloating in his voice, only concern bordering on panic.

Harry had never heard Draco use his first name before. He took a deep breath and tried to sound braver than he felt. "I had to manage against fifty Death Eaters last time. I'll run away-"

"You won't. The duel will be held underground, with apparition wards. They'll chase you around the room until they kill you, Harry." Draco's voice rose in panic and he squeezed the bars so hard his hands went white.

"The Order will save me."

But Draco shook his head. "They won't. I hear they're mustering an attack, but it will take them time to fight their way underground and by then you'll be dead."

Harry tugged uselessly at his manacles. "I'll manage. I'll have to manage." He ruefully arched an eyebrow at Draco, "It would help if I had my wand right now."

He had meant it as a joke and expected a sneering reply, but he didn't get one. A frozen look came over Draco's face. "They'd kill me."

"I'm sorry," Harry said quietly, looking into frightened grey eyes. "I'm really sorry but haven't you realised they're going to kill you anyway? It's just a matter of time."

Draco shook his head frantically, his eyes reddening. "No, they can't. They mustn't."

"You plan to tell Voldemort he mustn't?" Draco flinched at the name, as though struck, and Harry felt a pang of sympathy. In a much gentler voice, using his rival's name for the first time, Harry said: "Draco, you're not cut out for this. You can talk the talk," He frowned at the memory of Draco calling Hermione a 'Mudblood'. "Oh yes, you can definitely talk the talk. But you can't walk the walk. You're not a killer, Draco. Not a Death Eater."

Draco bit his lip. "That's what Dumbledore said up on the Tower. He was right. I can't do this, Harry. It's nothing like..." He took a deep breath to steady himself. "Nothing like I thought it would be."

"You thought you'd be a part of a group of pure-blood heroes when you're actually part of a group of filthy, murdering thugs!" Harry regretted his outburst immediately, when Draco's eyes flashed anger and he let go of the bars.

"Is that what Perfect Potter thinks?" Draco spat. "The Chosen One who thinks he'll take on the Dark Lord and fifty followers all at once but can't even manage Occlumency? Oh, yes. I heard about you," he said as Harry stirred angrily on the floor. "Trying to fight off Amycus in Godric's Hollow. He knew every spell you were aiming at him, before you'd even fired them off! You were useless, Harry. The Chosen One needs a bodyguard."

Harry bit back the retort he was readying. Since they had been talking, Draco's face had come alive. His eyes were bright, and his straight, white teeth bared. The beginnings of a smile tweaked the corners of Harry's mouth. "All right," he said.

"All right, what?"

Glancing at the door, Harry dropped his voice to a whisper again. "I was going to offer you sanctuary, just like Dumbledore offered you, if you give me my wand. But if you want to volunteer to be my bodyguard, that's even better."

Draco's mouth dropped open and his jaw wagged a few times, as if he'd lost the power of speech. "You're mad," he finally managed. "Why would I risk my life to be your bodyguard?"

"To avenge your mother," whispered Harry, his face solemn. "To make up for some of the wrongs you have done as a Death Eater. To join a group that really ARE heroes and receive the acclaim you've been looking for your whole life." He watched Draco consider. The Slytherin was trembling and held onto the bars to steady himself. Sweat glistened on his forehead and he was breathing fast.

Almost to himself, Draco said softly: " I hate you. I always have-"

"Keep hating me, Draco," whispered Harry. "It's all the same to me. But join me. We can help each other..." He held out a hand, as far as the manacles would allow, and remembered a time, so many years ago, when Draco had extended his hand in friendship and he'd refused. He could see Draco remembered it too. The frightened, wavering look in Draco's eyes slowly hardened, then softened, and finally, he gave a watery smile and a small nod. Glancing back over his shoulder one last time, he reached into his robes, pulled out Harry's wand, and passed it, handle first, through the bars.

Harry grasped it in triumph.