Chapter Thirteen

Umbridge said nothing, because Harry would not allow her to. He felt a dark twist of satisfaction at controlling her, and the ugly rage in her eyes merely fueled the fire. His hand seemed to throb with remembered hate when he recalled the words she had forced him to carve into his own flesh.

She was lucky he had allowed her to speak at all. Her eyes widened and panic slackened her features. Harry realized his magic had tightened around her—he was unconsciously crushing her. He bared his teeth in a smile.

When Umbridge began to turn red from inability to breathe, Harry released her.

"How are you doing that?" she choked when she could speak again, showing a hint of fear for the first time. Harry leaned close to her. He ignored the sounds of debate in the gallery behind them. He ignored everything except the titillating glint of disquiet in those horrible, protruding eyes.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" Harry taunted quietly. He smiled again, but his wicked glee was curtailed when Umbridge's hand twitched. His fingers were quickly caught in her iron grip. She twisted them savagely until they neared the breaking point. Pain lanced up Harry's arm.

"Not so smug now, are you, Potter?" she snarled. She squeezed, sending another jolt of pain spasming through his digits.

He was about to unleash his magic in fury when she spoke again. "He is going to get you, Potter. You are interfering in things you do not understand. He will make you pay." She cackled.

"Who?" Harry asked, utterly confused.

"The Benefactor, of course. You think I killed Scrimgeour?" Umbridge laughed harshly. The fear in her eyes had turned to malicious delight. "It was the Benefactor. He makes the rules, Potter—all the rules. The Ministry is his. The wizarding world is his."

"What are you talking about?" Harry demanded, ignoring her hand as it ground his knuckles together excruciatingly.

"Don't be thick, Potter. Why do you think nothing has been done about the Dark Magic, or the Floo Network, or Apparition?" Her eyes glittered. "He wants it that way. He wants things to stay the way they are."

"Who does?" Harry asked again. He wondered if she had gone completely mad, after all.

"I don't know. He issues the orders, I follow. We are all his followers, Potter, and if you cross him he will kill you."

Her fingers threatened to crack his knuckles, and Harry suddenly had enough. He sent a burst of heat from his hand into that of Umbridge. She squeezed tighter, until the heat increased. She snatched her hand away and it spasmed against the manacle that held her.

Harry backed away slowly, and healed his hand with a soothing rush of magic. He flexed his fingers and glanced worriedly at Draco. He strode over to Neville abruptly.

"If it please the Wizengamot, I should like to hand over my wand as a gesture of good faith." Harry handed his unneeded wand over to Griselda Marchbanks, who sat forward to take it gingerly. Harry turned and cocked a brow. "Draco?"

Draco shrugged, wondering what game Harry played now, but took his wand out and flicked it to Potter, who caught it and handed it to Marchbanks, as well. She examined them for a moment, and then handed them to Percy Weasley. The redhead examined them even more minutely, as if expecting them to be fake. Harry walked quickly to Draco and bent down, as if simply chatting with him.

"Cover for me for a minute," Harry said. He sent his powers flying back to Umbridge, and tore into her mind in a parody of Legilimency. She screamed, but Harry barely noticed it. He was intent on his search, flitting through her memories in quest of the identity of the mysterious Benefactor, or even seeking validation of his existence.

"Stop him!" Umbridge howled and thrashed in her chair. The sound echoed in the room. "It's Potter! Stop Potter!"

Harry sorted through bits of memory—owled communications, messages relayed through dark-caped strangers, encrypted bits of parchment… Nothing that even hinted at the identity of the puppet-master pulling the Minister's strings.

Umbridge shrieked again. Her defenses beat ineffectually against Harry's intrusion. It was possible the process hurt. Harry did not care. He vaguely heard Neville and others hurry toward Umbridge, and managed to feign a look of concern when he felt Draco turn him around, making it seem as though Harry did it under his own power. He stared through Umbridge.

"What are you doing?" Draco demanded quietly. Harry could not reply.

"Minister?" Neville cried. Umbridge threw her head from side to side.

"Kill Potter!" she snarled. "Kill Harry Potter! Kill him, kill him!"

Harry delved deeper, horrified at the brief flashes of memory he encountered. Umbridge had been a woman of pitiless excess, and everyone that got in her way suffered. He witnessed threats and machinations, from simple sabotage of employee records to the actual murder of a young werewolf child. Harry thought of Lupin, and something seemed to turn over inside him.

Her memories were useless. She did not know the identity of the person controlling her. She did not even care, so long as she was allowed to wield the power obvious to everyone. Harry decided she did not need her memories any longer. Perhaps she would be a better person if she could not recall the horrors she had committed.

Umbridge screamed one last time, while those clustered around her released her shackles in an attempt to help her. They were too late.

Dolores Umbridge sagged in the chair. Harry took a deep breath and leaned back against Draco's warmth, shuddering slightly.

Neville cast Ennervate, trying to rouse Umbridge. The toadlike eyes opened and she launched herself upward to wrap her large hands around Neville's throat. Luna screamed. Susan and Bill grabbed Umbridge and wrestled her away from Neville, who dropped to his knees, gasping. Luna held him tightly and glared at Umbridge.

"Minister, what is the meaning of this?" Griselda Marchbanks demanded angrily.

"Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?" Umbridge sang. "Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full." She tittered.

"What did you do, Potter?" Draco whispered.

"She's gone mad!" Bill Weasley said.

"She's been mad," Harry said loudly. He sounded tired, even to himself. "She's been mad for years."

Umbridge began to giggle insanely and roll on the floor with her arms clasped about her.

"Seventy four, seventy four, seventy four, seventy four," she chanted.

"We need to get her to St. Mungos," Susan said sharply. They quickly Immobilized the ranting Minister, and Apparated away.

Marchbanks spoke up. "Well, Mr. Potter, it appears your allegations may be accurate. Can I trust you and Mr. Malfoy to remain under house arrest until a full investigation can be conducted into this matter?"

"Of course. We will be at number 12, Grimmauld Place. We will await your call."

"Percy, please return their wands."

Percy Weasley approached, looking almost wary. He gingerly handed the wands to Harry, who took them both and passed the hawthorn to Draco.

They Disapparated together and appeared in the parlour of number 12, Grimmauld Place. Harry had barely opened his mouth to speak before he was enveloped in Slytherin. After several breathless moments of kissing, Harry felt Draco's teeth nibble their way down his neck.

"What did you do to Umbridge, Potter?" he asked as his hands clenched around Harry's arse and pulled him forward. Harry's hands gripped Draco's shoulders, and his head tipped back in mindless abandon. Malfoy's tongue lapped at Harry's throat, and it took a moment for the question to sink in.

"Um… no more than she deserved," Harry said breathlessly. One hand slipped up to tangle in Draco's hair.

"I know she deserved more than madness, Harry," Draco said against his collarbone. "I asked what you did to her."

Several pops sounded nearby and Harry peered around dazedly.

"Not in front of the baby," Tonks said dryly. Her arms were full of a blonde bundle. Harry's relief at the sight was tangible. Draco released Harry immediately, and strode forward to snatch up Lyra.

"My angel," he cooed, and pressed kissed into Lyra's cheeks. The baby giggled and grabbed Draco's hair in both fists.

Lupin stood behind Tonks, and wrapped his arms around her waist. They both looked tired. Hermione crossed her arms.

"All right, Harry. What was that all about? I don't believe for a moment that Umbridge went mad in front of the Wizengamot merely by coincidence."

"Of course she did, 'Mione," Fred said as he threw himself onto the couch. George joined Draco in tickling Lyra, and pulled an array of silly faces at her.

"I think she was already mad, Hermione," Ron added and Summoned a bottle of butterbeer from the kitchen. Fred Summoned it from Ron, earning a dirty look before Ron retrieved a second bottle.

Hermione looked unconvinced, and Harry avoided Draco's eyes. He knew the blond would drag it out of him later.

"As much as we would all love to grill Potter," Draco said mildly, "I, for one, am exhausted. No Malfoy is willingly awake at this hour of the morning."

Hermione wanted to protest, Harry could tell. No rain, no sleet, nor ludicrous hour of the morning could deter Hermione Granger (Weasley) from her never-ending quest for knowledge. She scowled, but Ron grabbed her arm.

"Come on, love, you can torture Harry later."

"I do not plan to torture him," she snapped, but she allowed herself to be led out of the room. Their footsteps were heard on the stairs.

"Bloody good idea," Tonks said. "Give over, Draco. Stop hoarding my daughter. I've only just recovered her."

"I thought Gryffindors were taught to share," Malfoy said, but he handed the child back to her mother.

"I'll share once I get used to the idea that she won't be snatched away from me again," she replied. Harry winced. Tonks approached and kissed him on the cheek. "No, Harry, I do not blame you. And if you had anything to do with Umbridge's breakdown, then I'm glad."

She swept out, followed by Remus, who gave Harry a pained smile before departing.

"Should we go home?" George asked his twin.

"Do we have food at home?" Fred countered.

"Leftover takeout from four days ago."

"We'll stay."

The twins Disapparated, obviously popping upstairs to stake out their usual rooms. Harry grinned, thinking it was nice to be home.

"Alone at last," Draco said as he swept Harry into an embrace and Apparated them upstairs. Harry sagged in Draco's embrace and rested his forehead on the Slytherin's shoulder. He was suddenly very, very tired. Draco's breath was warm against his hair. The blond's chest moved over Harry's as he chuckled.

"You win, hero. I'll save the interrogation for later," Draco said. "Let's get some sleep."

Draco undressed Harry and put him to bed before climbing in after him. Harry wrapped himself around Draco. His worries about the Ministry, and strange benefactors, and faceless enemies seemed to fade with every rise and fall of Draco's chest.

Harry woke up hard, which was understandable, because Draco's hand was wrapped around his cock and moving expertly. Harry sighed in contentment and pressed back into Draco's warmth. He felt Draco's lips tease the back of his neck.

"I wondered if you planned to sleep all day."

"Mmm, how could I possibly sleep with you doing that?" Harry murmured.

"You mean this?" Draco asked and twisted his hand slightly, sending a shiver of delight coursing through Harry's body.

"God, yes."

Draco's erection was hot against his arse, and in moments it was better still, buried deep inside of Harry. They moved together in practiced rhythm, with hands and bodies linked and moving in blissful synchronicity.

It's really good to be home, Harry thought when they lay in the afterglow of sweat and labored breathing. The afternoon sun spilled through the half-open curtains, and Harry turned around to run a hand over Draco's cheek while he drank in the warm glow in the grey eyes. Draco grabbed his hand and pressed a kiss into Harry's palm.

"God, I love you," Harry said fervently, feeling he might burst from the force of it.

"I love you, too," Draco said with a smile that shifted slightly as he added, "But your sweet Gryffindor platitudes will not distract me. Spill it, Potter."

Harry sighed, but propped himself on an elbow.

"This is serious, Draco. Umbridge said she was taking orders from someone else, someone unknown." He told the Slytherin about the mysterious Benefactor. Draco's eyes narrowed sharply.

"And you found nothing in her memories?"

Harry shook his head. "Nothing useful. I'll put everything I remember into a Pensieve. Perhaps you or Hermione will see something I missed. Whoever it is, he seems to have covered his tracks quite well. Umbridge had no clue about his ultimate goal. Or her ultimate goal, or their ultimate goal. We really have no idea who or what we're dealing with."

Draco sneered. "If you had a grandiose plan, would you reveal it to that demented creature?"

Harry grinned. "No. Probably not."

"So after you found nothing of use, you destroyed her mind," Draco commented mildly. Harry flushed.

"That's not how it happened. She was fighting too hard—you know she was already ninety percent mad. Something just snapped when I was in there."

"I'm not saying she did not deserve it," Draco said. His calm tone did not appease Harry. For some reason, he sensed disapproval, but perhaps it was merely Harry's own feelings of guilt. Regardless, he left the bed and drew his clothing on, wondering if there had been any news from the Ministry.

"Coming?" he asked Draco, who still lay against the pillows with his arms crossed behind his head.

"Hmmm. I'm sure everyone expects me to cook for them this evening," Draco said.

"It's your own fault for being the culinary genius. Besides, your bloody ego loves the adoration, and you know it."

Draco heaved a great sigh that did not fool Harry for a moment. He laughed and opened the door.


Harry stopped and cocked a brow at the blond.

"Don't get too attached to those buttons."

Harry glanced down at his shirt as a rush of heat nearly consumed him. He groaned and went out with Draco's chuckles trailing after him.


Draco watched Harry leave, and his smiled faded slowly when the soft footfalls on the stairs became inaudible. Draco's unease had grown since Maeve's death. And Harry had lied.

Draco climbed out of bed and padded into the adjoining room, where many of his clothes still resided. He dressed slowly while replaying the scene in Courtroom 10. Harry did not seem to realize how closely they were bonded. Draco could not read Harry's mind, but he could definitely sense Harry's emotions, and those had been blatantly obvious when Harry had been sojourning through the mind of Umbridge. Determination had been there, of course, since the Chosen One's entire backbone was made of determination, but it had evolved into anger.

Understandable, considering the bitch had nearly broken his fingers, Draco thought, although he was likely the only one paying close enough attention to have caught that particular exchange.

Draco dressed and returned to Harry's—their—room to pull on his boots.

What had not been understandable was Potter allowing his rage to turn into something darker. It had not "just happened", as Harry had claimed. Potter had willfully and gleefully, twisted Umbridge's mind inside out.

Draco sat on the edge of the bed and wondered if he was blowing this out of proportion. It had been a long night. Harry had been forced to track Draco, bring his friends to Ireland, take down Umbridge, rescue Draco from Maeve, (murder Maeve), and then go through the courtroom drama in front of the Wizengamot. He should have been exhausted. His powers should have been stretched to the breaking point.

And that was the crux of the matter, Draco knew. Because Harry's powers had not been diminished at all. Harry had healed the damage to his hand without a thought, and then gone after Umbridge—wandless, and from across the room. The facts were incontrovertible.

Harry's powers were growing.

Draco just wasn't sure what to do about it. He made the bed with a flick of his wand, and went down to the kitchen, which was full of Weasleys—the main drawback of living at number 12, Grimmauld Place. For a moment, Draco strongly missed the flat where he and Harry had spent the past couple of days.

Harry wrapped him in an exuberant hug the instant he stepped into the kitchen. Draco patted him on the back with a wry smile. Maybe he was overreacting—Harry was certainly not evil just because he'd given in to a Slytherin impulse or two.

"Wonderful news, Draco! Neville dropped by. The Wizengamot instated Bill Weasley as the Acting Minister of Magic. Bill asked us to join the Auror Department. He wants to us to teach the Aurors how to dispel Dark Magic."

Draco drew back and looked at Harry wryly. The Gryffindor shrugged innocently. They both knew Harry was the only one able to dispel the mutated Magic the Death Eaters had left behind.

"Well, it won't be much different than what we're doing now, right?" Harry said. Draco sighed. He had no intention of joining the Ministry, even under the benevolent rule of the only tolerable Weasley.

Draco surrendered to the pleading looks, and the less-than-subtle begging, from the Weasley twins, and began to prepare dinner.

Granger prattled on, as usual.

"Brigit got off with a rather light sentence, I'd say, considering she nearly killed Harry."

"What sentence?" Harry asked.

"House arrest and a huge fine. Susan Bones witnessed her trying to cast the Killing Curse on Harry. She's lucky not to be in Azkaban. I don't think we'll be hearing much from her in the future. Her husband Bertram was none too pleased to hear she had jeopardized his posh Ministry position by kidnapping and attempted murder."

"She's lucky not to be a pile of ash," Harry muttered into Draco's ear. He chuckled and handed Harry a stack of plates.

"Set the table, Boy Who Avenged."

It was quite late when they escaped the celebratory air that had overtaken the group below. Draco suspected the Weasley twins would be up most of the night, drinking and installing pranks throughout the house. Draco made a mental to allow Harry to wander around and spring them prior to Draco exiting their room tomorrow.

Draco dropped his wand into the silver holder on the bedside table, and threw himself onto the Slytherin green bedspread with a grin. He wondered how long the Chosen One would put up with the emerald color scheme, although it did go quite nicely with Potter's eyes. Those same eyes gazed down at him, and a smile curved his gorgeous lips.

"Oh, I like that," Harry murmured.


"You, lying there, awaiting my pleasure."

Draco smiled lazily. "What makes you think I'm not awaiting my own pleasure?" he asked.

Harry nudged Draco's legs open and slid his knee forward to rest on the bed, pressing his thigh against Draco's groin with the movement.

"Not this time, I think," Harry said enigmatically. Draco raised a curious brow. Harry reached down and wrenched Draco's shirt open with a swift movement, scattering buttons over the bed and onto the floor.

Draco made a moue of disapproval. The button-popping was normally Draco's game, not Potter's. He forgave the Gryffindor as soon as Harry's hot mouth slid over his chest and fastened on one of Draco's nipples. Harry sucked at it eagerly and bit down slightly.

"A bit aggressive tonight are we?" Draco asked with an intake of breath.

"Mmmm," Harry allowed and moved to suckle the other nipple. "Get on the bed."

"I am on the bed, Potter."

Annoyance crossed Harry's fine features. "In the center," he said in an even tone. Draco huffed, but pushed himself up until his head lay upon the pillows. His knuckles brushed against the headboard as he framed his head with his arms.

"Happy now?" Draco asked.

"Perfect," Harry breathed and moved onto the bed to kneel between Draco's legs. Harry cast a spell that made Draco's buttonless shirt disappear. He cast three more spells in succession, and Draco was somewhat alarmed to find his wrists bound to the headboard with magical ropes. His eyes met Harry's in surprise.

"Potter, what the—?"

"Shhhh," Harry hushed and placed a finger on Draco's lips. His hand dropped to Draco's crotch and caressed the bulge there. Draco's words turned into a gurgle, and he decided he could play along with Potter's bondage fantasy… for a bit.

Harry leaned forward until his lips brushed Draco's ear. "You're mine," he breathed and squeezed Draco's cock, rather harder than warranted, Draco thought, even as he held his breath at the pleasure of it. "Tell me you're mine."

"I'm yours," Draco said and meant it. The words seemed to placate the determined Gryffindor, and Harry sat back. He set his wand aside and fumbled with the fastenings on Draco's trousers. The concentration on his face was terribly cute, Draco thought.

All thought of cuteness fled when Harry tugged Draco's trousers and pants off. He tossed them carelessly to the floor. Harry's face transformed into something almost feral as he stared down at Draco's nude body. Draco suddenly found it hard to breathe.

Harry put his hands on Draco's thighs before sliding them upward, trailing over Draco's flanks, ribcage, and chest. The hands continued, past Draco's shoulders to drift over Draco's bound arms. They stopped where the magical ties held Draco in place, and Harry's body stretched over Draco's. He moaned and levered upward slightly, pressing against as much of Harry as he could. He cursed the clothes Harry still wore.

"I need to touch you," Draco whispered and pulled at his bonds.

"Not yet," Harry murmured and then claimed Draco's mouth in a bruising kiss. Harry's hands tightened on Draco's wrists and his kisses became almost painful. Draco could feel Harry's erection straining against the material of his trousers, and used his legs to frot against the Gryffindor, hoping to encourage Harry to remove his fucking clothes.

Harry's hips thrust downward roughly, as if to punish Draco for his impatience. Draco was surprised at Potter's intensity. Normally, he was content to let Draco lead—or at least guide—their lovemaking sessions. Tonight, it seemed he was determined to be in full control.

Harry's mouth left Draco's at long last, and Draco gladly drank in much-needed air. He tasted blood, which was quite unlike Harry, as were the biting kisses Potter placed on Draco's throat. The Gryffindor nipped and drank at Draco's flesh, leaving marks for certain as he worked his way down. Harry's hands left Draco's wrists at last.

Draco thought he might go mad with need. He quivered at every touch of Harry's mouth, and every stroke of Potter's hand against his skin.

Draco yelped as Harry's teeth sank into his thigh. He wrenched at his bonds.

"Fuck, Potter… Harry, stop," he said. Harry's fingers dug into Draco's hip bones, and the dark head rose to glare into Draco's eyes.

"Mine. You are mine and everyone needs to know it," Harry snarled. "No one will ever fucking take you from me again."

Draco swallowed hard, not recognizing the man that stared at him from the familiar green eyes. He felt a sharp tremor of almost-fear, remembering the power Harry now possessed.

"Harry, release my hands," Draco said levelly.

The dark head dropped, and Harry's teeth bit into the tender skin of Draco's groin. Draco tried to move with a hiss of pain, but Harry held him in place. Even through the torment, Draco's erection had not diminished, and the soft brush of Potter's hair against his cock nearly negated the pain of the Gryffindor's bite.

"What the fuck are you doing?" Draco demanded.

"Marking you," Harry said placidly.

"Accio wand," Draco snapped as anger overrode his unease. Harry chuckled, a dark sound Draco had never heard. Draco's wand did not move from its holder, courtesy of Harry, no doubt.

"No you don't," Harry said and pressed a finger into Draco's unprepared opening. Draco nearly cried out from surprise and discomfort. Harry chuckled again. "Like that?" he asked. "How about another?"

A second finger joined the first, and fuck, that one did hurt. Draco tried to edge away, but found himself held tightly by an unseen force.

"Going to fuck you so hard you'll forget your name, Draco," Harry said in a sullen tone.

Normally, those words could nearly cause Draco to spontaneously come, but when they were uttered by this strange, nearly vicious Potter, they had the opposite effect.

"No," Draco said. "No, Harry, please stop."

"Mmmm, begging. That turns me on." Harry rammed in a third finger. Draco began to feel true fear, even as Harry's tongue laved over his cock from base to tip. Shit! He would have bucked mindlessly if he could have moved. Harry's lips curved over the head of Draco's cock for a moment and his tongue dipped into the slit. Draco's breathing sounded like the Hogwarts Express.

"Harry…" he managed.

"One more, baby," Harry said and pressed in a fourth finger. Spell be damned, Draco arched in excruciating pleasure, especially when Harry's mouth returned to his cock and took it in completely. Draco's wrists twisted against his bonds, wishing to fuck he could get his hands free and—

Harry's mouth left its wonderful task and Draco nearly sobbed. Harry's fingers pressed inside hard, and Draco heard a guttural noise tear from his throat. He was going to kill Potter when he was free… if he survived.

Harry's clothes were suddenly gone, although he hadn't spoken a word, and his wand still lay on the bed. Shit, Potter's wand.

"Accio Harry's wand," Draco said raggedly. It snapped upward, but hovered, quivering mere centimeters from Draco's hand. Harry was not amused. His hand departed from Draco and the Gryffindor sat back on his haunches.

"I think I might have to punish you for that," Harry said calmly, but there was a glint in the green eyes that Draco did not like at all. He had to stop this now.

"Harry," he tried, using his most soothing tone.

"We'll start with preventing you from speaking, I think," Harry said and picked up Draco's shirt from the edge of the bed. It fell into strips without a spell being spoken, and Harry leaned forward with a long piece of white cloth. Draco felt a real shard of fear. What the hell had gotten into the Gryffindor?

"Harry, please wait. Listen to me; you're not acting rationally. You have to—"

That was all Draco managed before the wadded cloth was stuffed into his mouth. Harry placed a kiss against Draco's lower lip—and bit into it gently—before tying a longer strip of the shirt over his mouth and tying it behind Draco's head, effectively gagging him.

"Now, where was I?" he asked and smiled wickedly.

Harry turned his attention back to Draco's nether regions and Draco's mind whirled. He had never felt so helpless, and Malfoys did not deal well with helplessness. His palms were sweating with the effort to free himself.

Harry's mouth closed over his cock again, and Draco felt sharp teeth bite into him slightly… no doubt just a small taste of the "punishment" he was about to receive. Damn it, he needed to get Harry back to his senses, but how?

Rational thought deserted him for a bit, because even overcome with the need to torture Draco, Harry had not lost any of his talent for fellatio. His lips and tongue brought Draco to the very brink before a hurtful squeeze on Draco's testicles sent him crashing back to reality, panting brokenly. Draco thought he might actually suffocate with the gag on.

Harry suddenly moved up to cover Draco's body with his own, and even through his nervous rage, Draco shivered slightly, because it was still Harry, somewhere under the inexplicable behavior.

He caught sight of the scar, shimmering slightly on Harry's forehead, and something clicked into place. Draco shut his eyes and tried to concentrate. He took as deep a breath as he could manage, and recalled what he had felt when Harry had found him in Ireland. He had been filled with warmth and heat, and the presence of Harry…

It flooded through him again in a rush, and Draco opened his eyes to see Harry staring down at him with an expression of astonishment. The tattoo that crossed over Harry's forehead and down the side of his face seemed to be etched in molten gold.

The green eyes blinked shut for a moment, and Harry shuddered atop him. When Harry's eyes opened again, Draco read consternation in their emerald depths.

"Draco? What the hell am I doing?"

Harry's hand fumbled with the gag, nearly tearing out Draco's hair in his haste to remove it. When the cloth fell away, Draco dragged in unfiltered air with relief. An instant later, Draco's hands were free. He lowered his arms, wincing at the sharp sensation of leaving their strained position.

Draco wrapped his arms around the stunned Gryffindor and held him tightly, feeling relief and trepidation in equal measure. He hoped the shaking in his limbs was caused by abused muscles.

"I'm sorry," Harry murmured against his lips. "I'm so sorry, I don't know what came over me."

"It's all right, Harry," Draco said. "I'm not going to break. Now, suppose you get back to what you were planning, only… a bit more gently this time?"

Harry smiled at him softly, and Draco was glad to see it was all Potter this time, with no sign of the dark undertones. He held tightly to their Bond, just in case, and the tattoos gleamed against their skin.

Harry made love to him tenderly, taking extra care to press soothing kisses over the bruises already forming on Draco 's flesh, and there was apology in every caress. They came simultaneously, and Harry fell asleep cradled in Draco's arms as the lines of their joining slowly faded back into invisibility.

When Harry's breathing was deep and even, Draco left the bed and went downstairs to pour a stiff drink. He sprawled on the couch in the study and swirled the liquid in the glass absently. Something had to be done about Harry's power. It had come to Harry when the Gryffindor had destroyed the final Horcrux, and now Draco wondered. Had some remnant of the Dark Lord transferred somehow to Harry? If not, what the hell was causing him to act like… well, to act like a Slytherin? Draco didn't mind a hint of it now and again, but he had grown rather fond of Harry the way he was.

Draco cursed softly. The time had come to get in touch with someone he swore he would never contact. Draco pressed two fingers against a growing headache at his temple. It was time to fight Dark with Dark.

Draco wanted his Gryffindor back. By any means necessary.

Author's Note: This is the end of Part Five (don't kill me!) and Part Six will begin as soon as I get around to working on it… Don't worry, I can't leave my Escorts alone for long.