Now that the Big Reveal is over and done with at hdholidays at LJ I can finally post this.
Title: E R I S E D
Summary: Caught in the throes of war and revenge, Harry Potter desperately races to find Severus Snape. His chase leads him to his only clue: Draco Malfoy.
Rating: NC-17 for graphic violence, language and sex
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Post-HBP. Dark themes.
Word Count: 7,832
Beta: the wonderful Emmalificent
Special Thanks: to the lovely Kit who served as a cheerleader throughout all of this!
E R I S E D
fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a
And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you."
-Friedrich Nietzsche. Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 146
It seems fitting that a thunderous blast follows Harry Potter's dramatic entrance; accompanied, of course, by a shower of dust and falling stone. Frantic magic surrounds him like a shroud as his fevered green eyes settle in triumph on the small trembling form of his prize. Barely able to contain his shout of joy, he smiles darkly at the person he has been searching for since June. There is no escape now. Not this time. Not again. He'll make sure of that.
He flicks his wand and immediately incapacitates his captive, fully intent on taking him back.
The ground shakes violently then, reminding them both of the destabilizing effect Harry's blast had on the ancient catacombs. With quick, careful movements, he summons the boy's paltry belongings and gets ready to leave. He turns to him urgently, only to find himself caught by the gaze of grey eyes trained upon him. He watches with sick satisfaction as the frenzied hope that had lit itself the moment the cave wall crumbled drains slowly from those eyes.
He doesn't blink or look away. Instead, he stares intently as a broken boy shatters that little bit more. He shakes his head ruefully. He always considered the Slytherin to be a fool, and how gratifying it is to be proven right.
For if Draco Malfoy had honestly expected a saviour to step through the crumbling hole and rescue him, pull him to safety amidst the ruins of sliding stone, he had really set himself up for a great disappointment. Harry hasn't been a hero since he was a year old. Hadn't Malfoy been paying attention?
Oddly enough, Malfoy doesn't speak. Not even a single word escapes his chapped lips. He merely drops his eyes and looks everywhere except at Harry. The slump of his shoulders is evidence of a defeat that took place long before today, and the impassiveness of his face, without a smirk or any indication of defiance or anything else, paints him the picture of a living ghost.
But Harry doesn't care; couldn't care; has never cared. He leads him away in chains, making it painstakingly clear to the boy that he is only trading one prison for another.
Draco stares at the peeling paint and the cracks he sees in the ceiling. He smiles when he thinks of his punishment; of the righteous fury that lined Potter's face when he banished him to this room after hours upon hours of interrogation under Veritaserum. It was a pointless effort on Potter's behalf, a complete waste of his time, because Draco never revealed a single thing.
Haven't they realized the sheer brilliance of Severus Snape by now? Draco wonders. Did they really think the man would seal him up in the Malfoy catacombs and not cover his own arse too?
Leave nothing to contingency was always the main rule of their house. Snape had been prepared for this event, as well as countless others. Do Potter and his troop really think that his freedom is the only thing Draco lost down there?
Ignoring the rumbling in his stomach, he sighs as he turns on his side. It's no use dwelling on this. He knows that much. It was the only way to ensure he wouldn't wind up dead on either side. Snape didn't betray him, at least not nearly as much as he has already betrayed himself.
If only he had done it. It would have been so easy. Just a few whispered words and a touch of green light, and his life would have been so much different and he wouldn't currently have the echoing silence of empty stone and the stench of rotting flesh imprinted in his mind. It should have been so easy. But yet…it wasn't. And even after all these months, he still doesn't know why.
His stomach growls even more violently and without warning, he feels the sudden rush of bile making its way up his throat once again. He rushes to the small bin in the corner of his room. The bitter stench from his previous trips has already permeated the air so much so that he feels he can't breathe and it grows even worse as he vomits into the container so hard he can taste blood.
Sweat drips from his forehead. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and he collapses. He doesn't even make it back to the bed.
As the room starts to spin around him, he considers the irony of having hidden like a desert rat inside those tombs for all those endless months, only to end up dying here and now, at the incapable hands of the Wizarding World's most beloved Idiot.
Harry remembers the blind panic that seized him when he forced Malfoy's door open the next morning.
His heart was squeezed painfully when he scrambled over to where the pale boy was lying. With shaking hands, he checked for a pulse and was relieved beyond words when his fingertips detected a weak heartbeat. He scooped the boy up easily in his arms and laid him out on the bed with a gentleness that he didn't know he was capable of. He then conjured a cool cloth and placed it on the boy's fevered forehead. His anger had made him careless and he had introduced too much Veritaserum in the blonde's system. He promised himself he wouldn't make that same mistake again.
Harry knows he has to be patient. Malfoy is the key to finding the slimy bastard and he cannot and will not rest until he has Snape firmly in his clutches.
When he leaves later that day, he makes sure that the boy's breathing is regular, and that his temperature is normal. Malfoy slept away what could have been a whole day of fruitful interrogations, but at least his colouring is better.
"Tomorrow," Harry silently vows to himself. "I'll try again tomorrow. Malfoy can rest today, but tomorrow, his break ends."
Besides, they've only just begun and Harry still needs answers. If it should take a handful of tomorrows to obtain the information he needs, he supposes he can live with that.
He can wait.
A lion can't hunt its prey if it's in a hurry.
"Tell me!" Harry snarls as he backhands him again, ignoring the chastising voice in his head that points out that he healed the boy only to beat him again. But it's too late for threats and lies. Action is what's needed now. Too many people have already suffered due to his wariness and soft heartedness. Dumbledore. Sirius. Cedric. They all fell because of his mistakes. He won't let that happen again.
He growls when he doesn't receive anything in response, no matter how vicious or heavy his blows become. Soon enough, Malfoy's face is mottled with purple bruises and caked blood. The sight sickens Harry to his stomach and that fuels his anger even more. He shouldn't feel pity for Malfoy! After all, the nasty git deserves this torment, doesn't he? Letting those monsters into the school and helping Snape escape!
His fingers shake as he curls them into tight fists. Blinded by his anger, he quickly summons the bag he has steadfastly ignored ever since he first received it. Moody had directed him to Mundungus when he had asked about them and Mundungus had been more than happy to provide him with the weapons. They cost him a pretty penny and the time has now come to see if they're worth their price.
Draco doesn't flinch when he catches sight of the whip. He doesn't scramble away in fear. He doesn't even blink. How could he, when he's completely petrified with fear? Even his father, ruthless Death Eater that he is, has never laid a hand on him and Draco is now filled with a hysterical sort of disbelief to find that his first taste of real torture will be at the hands of the Wizarding World's supposed saviour.
He closes his eyes and waits for the chains to bite into his skin, for the scent of blood to fill the air, for the blinding pain to assault his senses. He waits and waits and waits. He waits for so long that he nearly opens his eyes in confusion. A sharp bang causes them to snap open quickly and he stares at the closed door. The only sound that can still be heard is that of hurried footsteps.
Draco smirks smugly as he collapses against his bed in relief. It appears that Potter isn't quite ready yet to give up being the good guy after all.
Days go by, all of them exactly like the one before, and for a few precious hours, Draco can almost close his eyes and forget there is even a war raging on outside these walls.
It's just the two of them, just like before, just like the way it's always been. Two schoolboy rivals locked in an endless battle.
And while Potter refuses to use chains, whips or hexes after that very first try; he has no qualms about hurling insults. And like his curses, they come fast, bold and deadly. He mocks Draco's father, his devotion to a madman, his house, his friends, his face, his name.
Everything about him is fair play and Potter seizes any opportunity greedily and holds every aspect of Draco's life up to the harsh burning light of day, revelling in each glaring flaw. Lucius is a sadistic murderer. Voldemort is an insane megalomaniac. Slytherin is a House of Traitors. Malfoy's friends are merely stupid minions. The list goes on and on.
Potter never runs out of words and Draco cannot help but be impressed, despite himself, at the sheer amount of insults Potter knows. But then again, Potter is acquainted with blood-treacherous filth like the Weasleys, so it probably stands to reason that he can swear like an uncouth commoner. Little thoughts like these make Draco laugh inwardly and it fuels his only response to the storm of Potter's furious words.
He smiles in genuine amusement which only angers Potter more and therefore makes Draco's grin all the wider.
Draco smiles because Potter believes himself to be more cunning than a Slytherin. Draco smiles because Potter assumes that hours of shouted words are worse than endless days of silence. And above all, Draco smiles because Potter has apparently forgotten a crucial fact of life.
You can't break what has already shattered beyond repair.
Draco knows that there will come a day when this stalemate of theirs will break. He is no fool and he fully realizes that no matter how much he lets Potter's fevered words wash over him, some day, somehow, Potter will manage to choose the wrong ones to say and his defences will crumble.
Draco knows this well; he expects it; but he's still unable to stop himself when the time comes.
It's an idle Tuesday when it happens, or at least he thinks it's Tuesday. Draco doesn't know what day it is, hasn't known for what seems like forever, and his warden never bothers to tell him and of course he couldn't ask.
All it takes are the words "Your mother" and already Draco's eyes are narrowing. "Got what she deserved" is what makes him curl his fingers inward and the next thing he knows, he is pummelling Potter's snarling face into the floor.
He wants to cry, but he won't. He mustn't. He wants to scream and demand what exactly it is that she got, but he can't, so instead he hits him and hits him until his knuckles are sore and wet.
And because Potter is Potter, he seizes the opportunity and smirks around his bloodied mouth. "Oh, I forgot. You don't actually know what happened to your mother, do you?"
Draco feels the urge to shriek in anger so badly it hurts. But instead he forces himself to focus on the boy beneath him and goes back to pummelling. He closes his eyes and just relishes in the feeling of flesh hitting flesh and blood splattering all over his clothes, as he desperately, hopelessly tries to ignore the maddening fact that their roles have now been switched.
Because he knows the moment he opens his eyes, he'll see that Potter is the one who's smiling, while he's the one who's screaming on the inside.
Harry laughs as Malfoy plows into him. He chuckles as he feels punch after punch burrow deep into his sides. He doesn't stop even as he hears the crushing of bone and experiences the exploding pain that accompanies a particularly brutal blow.
His laughter echoes mockingly, frantic and gratingly loud, like broken glass shattering on cold, hard cement.
His glee overrides the pain so much so that even when Malfoy's punches finally waver due to the boy's sheer exhaustion, Harry is still laughing.
Completely enraptured and enthralled that he got what he wanted.
After weeks of useless shouting and one-sided interrogations, he finally got a reaction.
Harry groans as he tries to sidestep Hermione, but she is persistent. She follows him as he walks away, her voice shrill and her questions relentless.
"What's wrong with you, Harry?"
"Nothing, Hermione." He starts to shrug her off, only to have her pull him back by his sleeve.
"Don't give me that, Harry James Potter! I saw what happened just now! You completely snubbed Ginny and she did nothing to deserve that! She's been waiting for you for weeks, after you took off on your mad goose chase to find Malfoy! Which was sheer recklessness on your part! Ron and I were waiting on pins and needles for you to come back!"
"Are you mad about Ginny or because I went off on my own? Make up your mind, Hermione."
"Both! Good heavens, Harry! I thought you were captured for sure! The only good thing about your disappearance is that you've finally given up on Malfoy!"
"Yeah sure," Harry answers vaguely with a shrug. "Look, I can take care of myself and I'm sorry I upset you. I didn't mean to leave you, or to ignore Ginny. It's just- Now that Dumbledore's gone, I have a lot on my plate, alright? I just needed a few days to clear my head. I swear that's all there was to it and you know Moody kept an eye on me when I was away. Nothing dramatic or terribly exciting went on."
The smile Harry offers her is crooked because the lies roll off his tongue easily and he knows they shouldn't. He knows it's not right, but he can't muster up the energy to care. Neither can Hermione, it seems, for all she does is smile at him tiredly as she pulls him into one of her bone crushing hugs.
"I'm just worried about you, Harry. We all are."
"You're always worried," Harry protests, but she stops him.
"Not like this. Something's changed and what scares me the most, Harry, is that I don't know what it is," she whispers sadly as she lets him go.
"I don't know what you mean," Harry replies as he turns away, refusing to answer the question that still lingers in her eyes.
As soon as he steps into his room, Harry releases the sigh he's been holding. This won't do. He hates lying to his friends and it's unsettling to realize how easy it has become to do so. He must end this soon, before they catch on and knowing Hermione, his time is limited.
He growls as he tugs at his hair. What is he supposed to do? He can't torture the git. Not after that first time. Hell, the whip never even landed! Bile had risen fast and hard from the back of his throat and the tears had come even faster.
He shakes his head. No. He has to find some other way.
Realization dawns on him and he quickly grabs a quill. With haste, he scribbles down a letter to the only person who has been willing to help him with this.
I can't break him. I've used everything and he still won't give me the information I need. Do you have any other methods I can try? Something Aurors use in the field when interrogating people maybe? I need to break him and it has to be soon.
He almost gives a shout of joy when he sees a huge tawny owl land on his windowsill. Eagerly, he opens the window to let the bird through and he reaches for the offered letter with zeal. Tearing it open, he reads it and as he does, a brilliant smile lights up his face.
Are you daft? For the love of Merlin, next time don't write to me in such a reckless fashion! Use the Warding spells I taught you and communicate in code. Haven't I taught you well enough? CONSTANT VIGILANCE, boy! I don't care how safe you feel in that house, the last thing we need is anyone inquiring about who it is you want to break! Anyway, I can't give you new spells to try. Only a licensed Auror is permitted to have access to such knowledge and you are far from one yet! But, I do have this to tell you.
The outside is easy to pierce, but the inside is where you want to be. Use an object which can manipulate this and you will get what you want. You know which item I speak of. You've used it before.
Remember, boy. The devil would lose his power if the damned couldn't long for heaven.
Harry continues to smile as the parchment catches fire and he watches until all that is left of it is a trail of winding smoke. He turns away and readies his things, already anticipating his brief return to Hogwarts.
The very next day, Draco's room has a new addition. The shimmering of its reflective surface is hard to miss and he is awed at the sight, much as it confuses him.
What is he supposed to do with a mirror? It's not as if he doesn't have plenty of other things to worry about. He has long abandoned the frivolities of old. Trapped in a catacomb for months will do that to a person. He sneers. Perhaps, Potter meant to play on his vanity, mock him through the thinness of his physique and the gauntness of his face? Draco shakes his head. How very childish! Surely, the Gryffindor could have come up with something better than this, but maybe he should have known that-
Blood drains from his face when he notices the ornate carving that decorates the top of the mirror as the cold light of realization hits him.
He was wrong.
So very wrong.
Potter is far crueller than he ever thought.
He shakes as he steps closer to the mirror. His mind screams at him to run away. His breath comes out in short hard pants and every instinct he's ever had is telling him to turn around, flee, escape.
But alas, he finds he can't...again. He can't turn away and his heart sinks, for this is a familiar feeling. He doesn't doubt that Potter, bloody bastard that he is, has put a charm on the Mirror to ensure it caught his attention; caught it and held it as well.
"Draco, darling, what's the matter?"
A sweet voice shatters his thoughts like a jackhammer, and the vision that he sees before him brings him to his knees. His mother. His sweet, innocent, loving mother is standing right in front of him with a concerned frown.
Draco shakes his head and forces himself to blink. It's not real. He reminds himself. It's the mirror. It's not real. Remember that!
He struggles to regain his composure, but his attempts are as futile as trying to chase feathers in the wind. Tears gather in his eyes as he stares at the sight that has beheld all his dreams. He's desired this for far too long and he can't stop himself from reaching out to her.
"Yes, dear?" she asks him tenderly. "Why are you crying? I'm here, darling. There's no need for tears. Tell me what's wrong and whatever it is, I'll make it better," she urges him with an outstretched hand.
He gazes at her with wide eyes. She looks so sincere and loving that his mind is instantly transported back to how life used to be, before all this. He remembers the days where he would seek her out, in a snit about one trivial injustice or another. The moment he'd cross her foyer, she would immediately sit him down and make him the same promise every single time.
Tell me what's wrong and whatever it is, I'll make it better.
And she did. Whatever was troubling him, whatever it was that caused a frown to mar his face, she would make it better. Be it by words, by actions or by touch. She was always willing to provide him with whatever it was that he needed. She held the world at bay when the days were dark and the tears were hard to stop. And amid the sprawling splendour of their manor and the endless vastness of their land, it was only in her arms that he truly felt at home.
"Come, Draco. Take my hand," she whispers gently, her hand still outstretched. "Let's go home."
Draco smiles in response, truly smiles, because he finally feels the terrors that have haunted him for months fall away.
I'd like that. He thinks happily as he nods eagerly. He's going home! Oh, how he has missed it! His bed, his room, his things! He has even missed that horrid statue of Slytherin in the main foyer! By gods, he might even kiss the wretched thing when he sees it again! His eyes dance as he steps closer to his mother, his hand reaching out to grasp hers. His hearts soars as he sees her smiling in approval and his thoughts are filled with the many things he'd like to say to her once they get home.
His eyes snap open. He didn't even realize he'd closed them. His heart plunges to the bottom of his shoes as he sinks slowly to the floor, his hand sliding down the solid surface of the mirror. Fresh tears fall on his face as he shakes his head frantically, trying to deny what he has known all along.
He closes his eyes against the continuous pleas of his mother, who is urging him sweetly, time after time, to come with her, to go home, to be free.
He covers his ears with shaking hands in an attempt to escape her cries. But it's no use. The mere sound of her sweet voice is enough to shatter him over and over again.
In his mind, he viciously curses Potter once more. The git apparently possesses the foolishness of a Gryffindor coupled with the ingenuity of a Slytherin, for he has found the perfect weapon of Light.
After all, there is nothing worse in the world than a solid prison cell that has a window with a view.
"I think you want to tell me something, Malfoy," Potter announces smugly as he saunters in the next day.
He feels he has left the blonde alone with the mirror long enough and he is quite sure that Malfoy must already be itching to get away from the sensation of wanting something he can never have.
Serves the git right! I bet he's never had to feel that way ever! Merlin knows his parents spoiled him rotten. Harry thinks viciously as he smiles in triumph at the shaking form huddled against the mirror.
"How pathetic! Did you spend all night cuddling the mirror? Do you miss your gold so much?" Harry laughs cruelly and it surprises him when, at his barb, the boy comes to life instantly, already lunging at him, kicking, snarling and biting.
Harry is caught off guard and they both tumble onto the ground.
Harry's reflexes are sharp, however, and he easily subdues the thinner boy. "What's wrong with you?" Harry roars, taken aback by the fierceness of Malfoy's attack and the ferociousness in his eyes. He grits his teeth when again he receives no answer. Only a soundless snarl escapes past chapped lips as Malfoy continues to struggle out of Harry's grip, suddenly desperate to get back to his vigil beside the mirror.
Harry frowns as he lets go, taking in the desperate way Malfoy runs back to his post. His heart constricts in his chest as he continues to watch the boy press one shaking hand against its surface.
He swallows down the lump in his throat, his mind filling with terrible insight.
Perhaps it's not gold he desires after all.
This isn't working! All he does is stare at it all day long! Your plan has failed. He won't even acknowledge me anymore when I step into the room. It's downright annoying! Bloody hell! I came to you for advice on how to make this situation better, not worse! He still hasn't said a bloody word!
You insufferable twit! Did you ever think to take off the Notice Me Charm you insisted on casting? I tried to tell you that no one should be subjected to prolonged exposure to the Mirror of Erised or else they'd quickly go mad! But like a brash idiot, you didn't listen! Now where has that gotten you? And you have the gall to blame this one on me? Fix your own damn mess, boy. I am washing my hands of all this. So far as I know, the kid is still missing and wanted. Don't contact me again. I won't answer. You're mistaken if you think I will coddle you like Dumbledore did every time you found yourself up crap creek without a paddle.
I mean it, boy. Do not Owl me again.
Look, I'm sorry if I was rude in my last letter, but I'm getting bloody desperate here! And you still haven't answered any of my Owls! Bugger it all, Moody! I've taken off the charm like you said! Hell, I even cast a Notice Me Not Charm on it and he still barely reacts. All he does is stare at the mirror. I tried taking it away from him too, but when I did, I found him the next day, almost dying in a pool of his own blood. I think he tried to do himself in. I can't ask anyone else for help, since no one knows about him being here. Only you do. Answer me, damn it! He won't react to anything else at all. I tried going back to how it was before that blasted mirror. I've taunted him and mocked him. Hell, I even kicked his arse, but all he does is sit there and take it. I've even insulted his sodding mother and all he did was smile! I really think he's gone off the deep end.
Owl me back.
I-I don't know what to do.
Are you completely off your trolley? First you go against my orders and bombard my office with Owls, and what's worse, unwarded Owls at that! Then you mean to tell me that your brilliant plan of undoing your mistake consists of heaping more torture on the kid's head? I didn't think there was even a way for you to get any dafter than you already were, but apparently you're intent on proving me wrong. Healers don't hit their mental patients over the head, boy! Why do you? If you want to bring some sense into him, you must treat him well. Give him kindness. Give him safety. Give him a reason to retreat from what he desires. Didn't you listen last time? Like the damned, he dreams of heaven. Make his dream a reality and only then will he return. I don't want to hear your bellyaching about this, either. It was your fault he got this bad in the first place. You wanted to break him, boy. Looks like you succeeded. Now face the consequences.
Kindness?! That's the rat-arsed advice the experienced Auror has to offer him? Harry stares blankly at the parchment for many long minutes. He doesn't even blink as the letter catches fire and disintegrates in his hands. He is too flummoxed by the task set before him.
He has to be kind to Malfoy.
He groans as he cradles his aching head in his hands.
Why couldn't he have been one of the bad guys? He could have gone his merry way and just left Malfoy to stare at the mirror to his heart's content.
Instead, he is stuck here, in a trap of his own making, blinded by his anger and ensnared by his guilt. He sighs deeply. He has to do this. No matter how distasteful. He still needs to find Snape and Malfoy is his only lead.
It takes another two days of endless silence before Harry finally tries out Moody's damnable advice. He starts with something small. It's barely cordial, but still he winces when the words have left his lips.
"Hey. Alright there, Malfoy?"
Malfoy's head snaps up to face him for the first time in days, and Harry is taken aback by the clarity he sees in those grey eyes. Heartened by the sight, Harry continues, his tongue tripping over the friendly words as he forces them out of his mouth.
"I've brought you some roast beef from last night. It's probably not as fancy as what you're used to, but it's still very good. Mrs. Weasley, that's Ron's mum, cooked it last night."
Harry doesn't wait for Malfoy's familiar insult. He has already provoked him plenty of times, given him many other opportunities for ridicule, and not once has Malfoy taken the bait. Instead, Harry puts the plate down beside him and a smile tugs on the corners of his lips when Malfoy eyes the plate on the floor for a minute before picking it up and starting to eat.
Relief melts the tenseness in Harry's shoulders as he watches him eat ravenously. It's the first time in many days that Malfoy eats everything on the plate and Harry is glad. At least he won't have to worry about his prisoner dying of starvation any time soon.
"I'll bring some fish and chips too. I don't know about you, but that's always been my favourite dish." Harry babbles on, trying to fill the awkward silence that echoes in the dark room. "Pumpkin juice too. I'm sure you miss it. I thought it was odd, at first. Juice from a pumpkin. I mean, who would've thought that it could taste so good, yeah?"
Malfoy has finished his meal, and Harry is pleasantly surprised to see that he doesn't immediately turn back to the mirror. Instead, he is staring at him curiously with an arched eyebrow and the look on his face is so familiarly infuriatingly Malfoy that Harry does allow the smile on his lips to escape. It's almost as if Malfoy is asking him silently and imperiously, "Why the hell won't you shut up?"
"Because someone has to talk you out of your madness," Harry replies dryly and the very moment he says it, he already knows he's made another mistake.
Grey eyes lose their focus as Malfoy turns away to face the mirror once more.
Cursing darkly, Harry leaves, knowing that he won't get through to the Slytherin today. He slides the door shut and Wards it the way Moody taught him to. He was close! So close! For a minute there, he saw him, exactly as he'd been before: a cold, sneering son of a bitch.
Harry's heart sinks even further as he realizes that this is not the first time he misses the Malfoy he once knew.
"Oi! There you are! I've been searching for you for hours!"
Ron's voice startles him out of his stupor and without even realizing it, he moves to stand in front of the Warded door. "Ron, what are you doing here?" he asks urgently, his voice lined with a sharp edge.
"I came looking for you, but I think the better question would be, what are you doing here? I thought you went on a scouting trip with Moody? Don't tell me you've been brooding in this wing all along?"
"Of course not! Don't be daft. I just got in, actually, and took a wrong turn since I was distracted after everything we learned today," Harry lies easily. He grasps the redhead's elbow urgently, steering him away from the decrepit hallway.
"Well? What is it, then? What have you learned that is so important that it's got you wandering around aimlessly in abandoned corridors?"
"Moody thinks we have a lead to finding Malfoy," Harry answers him quickly.
"Good." Ron nods in satisfaction. "The sooner we bag that bloody ferret, the better. If anyone deserves Azkaban, it's him."
The anger that rises in his chest at this statement catches Harry off guard. He struggles not to clench his fists and use them on Ron's freckled face.
He turns away quickly, bidding his good byes. His mind is in turmoil, more conflicted than it has ever been before.
Oddly enough, it soon becomes a kind of routine for him to come here.
In the mid-afternoon, he makes his excuses to his friends and escapes to this room. It has grown easier for him to do so as well, certainly now that Ginny is back at the Burrow with her mother.
He comes in, sits down on the rickety chair opposite from Malfoy's position on the floor and then he starts talking. He babbles on for hours on end.
At first he was extremely wary of doing so and limited himself to talks about the weather and other trivial things, but those quickly ran out. It wasn't long before he found himself mentioning more personal matters too. Nothing concerning the war, of course; the boy was still Malfoy, after all, but anything else was fair game. He'd talk about what occurred during the day and pour out his frustrations. How helpless he felt, how trapped he was and how weary he was of it all.
For far too long, he hasn't had the opportunity to voice these dark thoughts without alarming anyone, and he is thankful for the chance to express them now.
It also helps that during these short few hours, Malfoy's eyes are clear and focused solely on him and each extra hour he holds that attention is a triumph of the greatest kind.
Draco sneers as the door closes, barely able to contain his glee. He notes that Potter stayed an extra hour today. He knows it was that long, because he counted it.
Keeping track of time is the only thing that keeps him from going as mad as Potter seems to think he is. He counts the time, the cracks on his ceiling and the stripes on his wall. He counts anything and everything, and he does so regularly, for he has discovered that if he stays focused on this and only this, it's much easier to ignore his Mother's calls from the other side of the mirror.
He hasn't seen her in days.
Draco smiles as he continues the task at hand. He will get to Potter. Very soon. He can already see it. The moment he woke up from that foolish, embarrassing bout of self-pity, he realized he unwittingly held power over his jailer. A litany of pleas had awoken him from unconsciousness:
Wake up! Please wake up! This can't be happening. So much blood! There's so much blood! Just like last year; please oh please wake up!
Potter was frantic and it showed. He cared about his welfare.
Whether this was out of spite or misguided heroism, Draco didn't know nor cared. Either way, it proved that already the incurably naïve Gryffindor had grown attached to him so much so that he's actually starting to whisper secrets into Draco's ear.
How delightfully stupid of him!
And now, the longer Draco can get the boy to stay every day, the stronger his hold over the bastard will become.
Soon Draco will be released from this prison.
He only has to wait.
Wait and count.
One two three four five six seven eight nine ten.
The mood changes in the following days. The war has once again reared its ugly head and the escalating attacks weigh heavily on Harry's mind.
Growling, he stalks into the room and slams the door shut behind him. Anger pumps through his veins, hot and heavy, and the adrenalin rush from the explosive row he just had with his friends still buzzes in his ears.
Worry gnaws at his chest, making it difficult for him to breathe. The rising panic that Remus' capture has triggered is steady and unabated. Helplessness soon sets in and it's all Harry can do not to go mad. Wild magic starts to vibrate in the air as he feels himself slowly begin to lose control over the precarious hold he still has on his temper. But when those dull grey eyes meet his, he snaps.
"You!" he roars, spittle flying and teeth bared. He quickly stalks over to the motionless boy and suddenly he is sick of Malfoy's stillness.
It's the same damn thing every single day. He sits there silent and still, unmoved by anything Harry ever says or does. Harry has even gone so far as to share his secrets with the boy; reveal his past hurts and his dreams for the future.
Like a sentinel, Malfoy always listens. Like a statue, Malfoy never reacts. And for a while, that served Harry's purpose perfectly well… up until now. For it seems so very unfair for anyone to be so bloody cold and impassive when Harry's own world is on the verge of collapse.
Shrieking like a banshee, he hauls him up by the front of his robes, twisting the fabric and shaking the boy like a rag doll. "Where is he? Where's Snape?" he growls.
The worn question is met with the silence Harry expected and it's the only thing Harry is waiting for as he unleashes his fury.
He pounds into the pale flesh with utter abandon, gleefully cackling when he hears the crush of bones.
He rejoices in the feel of having an enemy to be pitted against once more. He has been fighting ghosts and chasing after shadows for so long that he is infinitely glad to have a solid figure to lash out at for a change.
Most likely, he would have continued, lost himself to the rush of adrenalin in his ears and the sound of pounding flesh, if he hadn't suddenly received a powerful blow to the head.
Blinking against the sharp pain, Harry stares up incredulously to see Malfoy standing before him, bloody, shaking and looking more alive than he's seen him in weeks. His grey eyes are clear and filled with such familiar hatred that Harry can't help the bark of laughter that escapes his split lips.
This only serves to infuriate Malfoy even more and soon enough, they are both thrashing on the floor. Harry rises to the challenge eagerly. A flurry of punches, kicks and bites are exchanged between them until they are both panting, exhausted, and splattered with blood.
Breathing heavily, Harry smiles down at Malfoy, who is pinned underneath him, but his smile quickly turns into a frown as he notices grey eyes losing their clarity as the body beneath his own begins to fight against his hold.
The mirror must be calling. Harry thinks grimly as he struggles to maintain his grasp on the boy, but Malfoy's movements quickly grow frantic.
"I won't let you go!" Harry snarls, longing to prolong the moment and forget all else. Desperation and frustration bubble up inside him as Malfoy continues to struggle with renewed vigor and before Harry knows it, he is seizing him forcefully by the back of the neck and pressing his lips against the Slytherin's. He tears into the boy's mouth, nips at his bottom lip with his teeth before sucking it into his mouth. His tongue demands entrance and when it is granted, he plunders Malfoy's mouth. He kisses Malfoy in the same way he punches him, with enough force to hurt and enough passion to make the whole world spin.
The kiss escalates and soon Harry realizes that this is so because Malfoy has started kissing him back, twice as hard and twice as passionately. Harry smiles crookedly before he closes his eyes and loses himself to it once more.
It seems they've now found a better way of fighting.
Draco smiles around his bruised mouth, revelling in the strange mix of blood and Potter once more. His plan is going perfectly. Not only is the idiot attached to him by guilt, but apparently Draco has also managed to ensnare Potter with his charms.
Draco laughs, thinking of the Chang girl and the Weaselette. Potter did always crave what he couldn't have. Perhaps this is why he is seemingly indifferent towards the mirror. He doesn't need it.
Draco sneers wryly. Still, his plan does have some advantages and he is not foolish enough to deny the pleasure he derives from them.
He smiles as he makes to lie down on the bed. Only, his eyes catch an unfamiliar movement in the mirror and he freezes.
He blinks once. He blinks twice, and still the vision does not abate. It can't be! He thinks, aghast as he scrambles to the mirror. He stands in front of it and presses his hands against the cool surface.
His mother is gone and in her place stands someone he never expected.
He turns away from the mirror in disgust and from then on, he takes extra care not to look into it again.
The days that Harry visits Malfoy increase in frequency, as the war outsides these walls hurtle towards its crescendo. The Death Eaters are becoming bolder and St. Mungo's lies under constant siege. Harry feels more and more people look upon him for their salvation and the stress this causes him is enormous. He escapes their expectant eyes as soon as he steps into this room. There is no one to judge him here and Malfoy's lips are always warm and welcoming and eager. Harry has lost himself so many times under the strokes of sliding tongue and the heat of soft lips that he's lost count.
He reaches for him as soon as he has crossed the room. Today has been particularly harrowing and he needs to forget. His mouth slides easily over Malfoy's and he is gratified by the ardent response he gets. He nips, bites and sucks as he makes his way down the boy's pale body, mechanically removing their clothes as he does so. He feels a tug on his hair when he reaches the boy's pants, but he refuses to look up.
He needs this. He does. Maybe then he'll be able to forget today. Maybe then he'll feel some measure of respite. Maybe then he won't remember the gruesome sight of Remus' dead mutilated body.
"Please," he whispers weakly as he lays his cheek against the bulge in Malfoy's pants and a whimper is the only response he gets.
Deciding that's the only permission he needs, Harry seizes the moment and like always, he grabs it with the ferocity and single-minded determination that's placed him in Gryffindor.
He moves quickly, almost frantically, as he positions himself above the boy, making sure to lubricate himself crudely with spit. He takes a moment to notice the hungry gaze that's trained upon him before he pushes himself inside.
So tight. So good. He thinks as he shudders and he is so lost to the sensation of delicious heat that it takes him a minute to realize that Malfoy doesn't share his pleasure.
"Shhh," he whispers gently as he grasps Malfoy's flailing arms and cradles his struggling form. "It gets better. I promise."
Harry watches him closely as he thrusts shallowly, and it isn't long before Malfoy's face twists with impatience rather than pain. Harry fucks him faster now, his thrusts growing steadily sloppy and wild as Malfoy moves with him, meeting him thrust for thrust. The slow burn of climax coils at the pit of Harry's belly and he works his hand between their bodies, determined to take the other boy with him when his own climax hits, needing to see him as strongly affected by this frenzied coupling as he, himself, is.
Malfoy comes shortly after that, a mess of shaking limbs and sensitive flesh, and Harry is right there following after him.
He sighs contentedly as he gingerly rolls Malfoy onto his side. Already the lazy tendrils of sleep ensnare his exhausted body and soon enough, his eyes close in slumber, too comfortable and content to think of anything but sleep.
Draco smiles gently. His body is sated and his mind is at peace. Tiredly, he burrows deeper into the warm body that's pressed against his back, and he sighs happily. He is about to follow Potter into slumber when his eyes inadvertently fall upon the mirror once again.
It's the first time he as much as glances at it since the day the image changed, and what he sees sickens him and makes him bolt upright.
It's still the same. The image hasn't wavered. He is horrified to find that no matter how many precautions he has taken these past few days, it remains unchanged. And he knows, just knows, with a terrible certainty that is making it quite difficult for him to breathe, that this vision, this desire might very well be the thing that ends up breaking him.
He's shaking again, more violently than ever before, and he scrambles to get away. He presses himself against a corner in the room, and once again, he relies on the only thing within these four walls that has kept him from going mad.
Meanwhile, in the middle of the room, the Mirror of Erised stands tall. It shimmers with magic as two boys appear on its surface. Writhing pleasurably and moaning in wanton delight, they both seek their release as they gaze lovingly into each other's eyes. Whispers of "Harry, Harry, Harry" and chants of "Draco, Draco, Draco" resound in the air around them.
From his corner, Draco clamps his hands over his ears once more, and closes his eyes against the sting of tears he refuses to shed.
AN: I hope you enjoyed it. I started writing this out in a whole different POV and style but the blasted thing fought me and wouldn't let itself be written any other way than this. sighs I admit I had a lot of fun in the fest. The anonymity of it all made it possible for me to try a new writing style and play around with some ideas. I'm also quite pleased with the reaction the fic has gotten. It helps that Lilithium loved it smiles but a lot of people found it "haunting" and "disturbing" and being the twisted fuck that I am, you know I love that. :)