Terms of Surrender
Part Three: The Betrayal
Author's Notes: It's finished! The last part has been split up to accommodate both Harry and Draco's POV although with the formatting issues I've been having, I'm not sure if the lines will pop up.
The Background: Wizard duels have different rules in this world, but still hold similar rituals to the duels described in the Harry Potter-verse. The main difference is that introduction of weapons, encourages close quarter combat, forcing the two opponents to switch back and forth between long and short-range attacks.
Disclaimer: The not owning prevents the suing.
Summary: AU As a gesture of good-will, the Champion of Gryffindor is sent to negotiate the terms of surrender with Voldemort's heir-apparent. A peace treaty won't be the only thing on the table. HD.
As the Gryffindor Champion, wizard's duels were second nature to Harry. They were battles which pit two opponents against each other in a test of magical and physical endurance. First both contenders acknowledged each other by bowing and then they tried very hard to force their opponent to yield in a series of magical and physical blitzes. Incapacitating one's challenger was the equivalent of a yield and kept mortality to a minimum.
Largely used as a method of solving disputes, wizard's duels were popular among those who sought to make a name for themselves as warriors. Every five years, an intra-House competition took place to select the Four Champions, who embodied the strength of each Noble House. Harry had been chosen earlier that year, having beaten twelve other contenders for the title. He had been an unusual case, having strengths in both magic and weaponry.
Malfoy, on the other hand, did not hold the title of Slytherin Champion, having chosen to forgo the selection process. Dumbledore had suspected the lack of title was another tactical ploy designed to make Malfoy's enemies underestimate him and had warned Harry to be extra cautious if he ever confronted the blonde in combat.
A few days ago, Harry would've agreed, but having met the Slytherin Prince face-to-face, he was now likely to disagree with Dumbledore's warning. The blonde's smooth, aristocratic hands showed no signs of strenuous physical training, nor did his complexion show he spent time outside practicing. Confronted with Malfoy's slim build and shorter stature, Harry was of the opinion that the intelligence Dumbledore had received had been bad.
Furthermore, Malfoy showed his ignorance of wizard's duels by dismissing Harry's generous offer to allow him his weapon of choice after the dark haired man announced his intention to use a sword. Interestingly enough, none of the spectators which surrounded the battle area seemed too concerned either.
"Daggers?" Harry looked skeptical as he selected a light sword from the array of weapons that had been offered to him. He swung it experimentally and was satisfied with the weight. He had shed his layers, and was now wearing a wrap much like Malfoy's, albeit scarlet in color. Harry was pleased to discover that his legs had more freedom of movement, no longer constrained by robes. "Are you sure you wouldn't be better off with a sword? Or a spear, perhaps?"
"I'm quite satisfied with my choice," Malfoy said airily, taking his place on one side of the field.
As was common in wizard's duels, neither man held a shield, with the expectation of using his free hand for magical attacks. The blonde licked his lips and smirked before crouching in a defensive position. "Scared, Potter?"
At the feral look in the serpent prince's mercury eyes, Harry couldn't help but grin. "You wish."
Without warning, Malfoy took off running and launched himself, towards Harry. The twin blades of his serpentine daggers flashed in the sunlight, momentarily blinding the dark haired boy. Harry cursed and threw his weight to the right, clumsily dodging the first attack. As he pivoted to regain his balance, Harry stifled a grunt of pain when he realized that Malfoy had managed to score a wicked looking cut on his calf, which was now bleeding freely.
Growling, the dark-haired warrior trained his sword on the blonde haired prince as Malfoy weaved back and forth, eyes dancing in anticipation.
"Is this the legendary skill which defeated Voldemort?" Malfoy jeered. "I was rather hoping that you would put up more of a fight, Potter."
"And have your Inferi descend on me like a pack of wolves after I kill you?" Harry shot back as he watched Draco crouch, preparing for another attack. "You'd like that, wouldn't you?"
The blonde bared his teeth. "And who's to say I won't be the one to kill you if you don't start taking me seriously, Potter?" Silver eyes flashed and Harry tensed, anticipating another flying tackle, but instead of launching himself, Malfoy stabbed the ground beneath him, embedding a dagger into the sand before raising his hand.
The dark haired warrior had only a brief moment to register the greenish glow emanating from Malfoy's palm and raise his arms in defense before he was struck viciously with a blast of magic. Harry's neck whipped back upon impact as his entire body was lifted from the ground and flung backward into a tent, which promptly collapsed under his weight. The damage was minimal compared to what it could have been, which meant that the Slytherin had used less than half of his power. Cursing himself for being so careless, Harry groped for his sword, which he had luckily managed to hang on to. "Is that all you've got, Malfoy?" he fought to hide a grimace of pain. "I barely felt it."
A bark of laughter was his only warning before another blast of magic ripped through the air and exploded in the very spot Harry had landed only a few moments before.
Except, he was no longer there.
Flinging himself out of the path of Malfoy's magical blast, Harry had avoided the brunt of the blow and had cast a few shots of his own towards the source of the attack. The Slytherin leapt backwards, nimbly avoiding them. His speed was remarkable and made Harry feel ten times slower than usual. The dark haired boy frowned. If individual bursts wouldn't be able to touch him, perhaps a large one would.
Grunting, Harry adopted a similar crouch and buried his hands in the sand, ignoring the pain in his leg. He gathered his magic and sent a large blast towards Malfoy. The ground shook and suddenly, a huge wave of sand sprung up, rolling towards the blonde. Malfoy looked surprised at the amount of magic Harry was able to summon and promptly began to spin in place.
The wall of sand, instead of crushing the Slytherin, was sucked into his vortex and became a threatening cyclone of sand, which began to make it's way to Harry, with Draco at the center to direct it.
Harry soon discovered that his magic was unable to penetrate the sand to reach Malfoy. Once he blast a hole on one side, more sand would rush in to fill in the gap, quickly obscuring the blonde from sight again. Harry was forced to duck and dodge the onslaught of the cyclone with all the acrobatic ability he could muster, hampered as he was with his earlier wounds. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to escape every attack, and received more than a few cuts from Malfoy's dagger when he was particularly slow to move.
Cursing his leg, Harry was struck with an idea. Concentrating his magic on the very tip of the cyclone, he unleashed a blast of energy at the weakest point of Malfoy's defense—his legs.
At once, the cyclone collapsed as the Slytherin Prince lost his footing and the sand scattering to the winds, blinding the spectators. Harry, on the other hand, was prepared and hand shielded his eyes with his robes. He took advantage of Malfoy's momentary disorientation and pounced.
For such a slender man, Malfoy was quite capable of handling himself in close quarter skirmishes. He punched, bit and clawed his way on top of Harry, using any underhanded techniques he could to gain the advantage. Harry, who was used to more formalized wrestling, was taken by surprise as Malfoy's knee caught him in the abdomen, while the blonde simultaneously bit the juncture between his neck and shoulder.
Gasping in pain, Harry couldn't help but be keenly aware of Malfoy's squirming form on top of his, their bare chests pressed closely against each other, while the blonde's leg was hooked firmly to his own, bringing their hips in alignment. The Slytherin also seemed to be aware of their unorthodox position and smirked at Harry. "Enjoying yourself down there?"
The dark haired boy snarled in frustration. This wasn't how a wizard's duel was supposed to be fought. Malfoy was intentionally disregarding every rule of ritual combat. Harry began to realize that he would need to fight unconventionally if he had any chance of winning. So far, all of Malfoy's surprise attacks had made him flustered and lose focus. He would need that same element of shock if he wanted to gain the upper hand.
So, contrary to all his instincts as a warrior, Harry stopped trying to shove Malfoy away and instead, pulled him closer.
If asked, Harry would be unable to say who was more surprised by the kiss: him, Malfoy or the gaggle of spectators who had gathered, but it served its purpose of off-balancing the blonde enough, so that Harry could free his legs and shove the Slytherin away from him in one fluid motion.
Malfoy was thrown backwards, but landed in a defensive crouch, while Harry rolled and grabbed the hilt of his long-forgotten sword, before training his blade on the Slytherin.
They were now back to where they had originally started, though both were panting with exertion. Sand had gotten in Harry's cuts and stung sharply each time he moved, the dark haired man gritted his teeth. This was no time for distractions. Likely, they had only enough energy to launch one final attack before collapsing of exhaustion.
Malfoy seemed to be of the same mindset, for he slowly straightened, unsheathing his daggers from their hidden holsters in his boots. Hefting one of the daggers thoughtfully, Malfoy smirked. "Catch."
Emerald eyes widened in surprise as Malfoy's arm whipped forward, propelling the dagger straight toward his chest. There was no time to dodge, so Harry did the only thing he could. Sluggishly, the Gryffindor Champion pulled back his sword, which now felt ten times heavier than usual, and swung wildly, in an attempt to deflect the oncoming weapon. The edge of his blade connected, but the pommels of Slytherin Prince's daggers must have been weighted with lead because upon impact, it sent Harry's lighter sword flying.
The Gryffindor Champion watched as his blade spun twice in the air, before landing uselessly on the sand. At the same time, from the corner of his eye, Harry noticed another flash of green. The next thing he knew, he lay flat on his back, staring up at the amused face of one Draconis Malfoy.
"I'm impressed," the blonde said above the wild cheers of his men. Draco gestured impatiently to someone on the side to bring him refreshment. Colin hurriedly rushed forward.
"Why?" Harry mumbled dizzily, the edges of his vision flickering. "I lost."
He found it was getting harder to concentrate on the blonde prince standing over him as his vision began to swim and was vaguely aware that he had lost all sensation in his left leg. In fact, each breath was harder to hold than the last. Harry tried to tell this to Malfoy, but all that issued from his lips was a labored breath.
"That was inevitable," The blonde shrugged, seemingly unaffected by the sight of Harry sprawled beneath him. "I cheated."
Smirking, Malfoy held up one of his curved daggers and in the dying rays of the setting sun, Harry could see a slick sheen which coated the entire blade. Poison.
Harry tried to muster up feelings of righteous anger, but all he felt was the weary knowledge that all had been lost. Everything he and the Order had worked to achieve was now going to die with him and Malfoy would become the undisputed Dark Tyrant of the Four Noble Houses. He closed his eyes. At least now he could finally take a long deserved rest.
Cool fingers traced his jaw, tilting his chin up, and Harry felt a pair of soft lips touch his own.
Then, sweet blessed relief.
Draco supervised as the Inferi he summoned carried Potter's unconscious body back to his tent. The Gryffindor's face looked terribly pale and only the fact that he was breathing shallowly attested to his tenuous grip on this world.
It had taken the blonde haired man longer than expected to subdue Potter, and as a result the poison had more time to work into his system, slowly paralyzing the dark haired man's limbs and lungs. It would have eventually moved on to his heart had Draco not administered the antidote directly and even now it looked as if Potter may not survive after all.
Blasted Gryffindors and their obstinacy. He watched with no small amount of irritation as the fan boy followed Potter's body anxiously, arms full of salve and bandages to dress the Gryffindor's many cuts.
When they finally arrived back to his apartments, Draco had the satisfaction of dismissing the over-eager slave and his minions, leaving him alone with an unconscious Harry Potter. Creevey had cast one fearful glance at the two of them before retiring.
Laying on the bed, the Gryffindor Champion looked younger and very vulnerable. The color was slowly returning to his face as his heart began beating normally. Potter's hair was mussed, no doubt by the sand storm earlier, and fell across his face in messy clumps.
Draco reached down and brushed it away. His fingers came across the lightning bolt scar in the middle of Potter's forehead, which seemed more distinct than before. He gently traced the scar tissue in its zig-zag pattern, moving down Harry's nose until his finger rested on Harry's lips.
He had been given a brief taste not once, but twice, and yet both of those times had not been enough. He had been caught off-guard the first, and preoccupied with saving the Gryffindor's life the second time, and so here he was, standing over Potter, while his body thrummed with desire.
Draco quickly climbed onto the bed, throwing one leg over Potter until he was comfortably straddled on the Gryffindor's hips. Slowly, he lowered himself until he was face to face with the unconscious man, his lips inches away from Harry.
As if he realized the position he had been placed in, Harry moaned, and turned his head away.
Draco scowled. Even in his sleep Potter still found ways to thwart his plans.
Potter's eyes fluttered open. He looked momentarily confused by his surroundings, but quickly ascertained the situation. "You tipped your daggers in poison," Harry rasped. It was a statement, not a question. The dark haired man looked more surprised than upset, as if he simply could not comprehend such a blatant disregard of fair play.
"Did you honestly believe I would've done any differently given the chance?" Draco asked bluntly. "I had to take every precaution to ensure the duel was in my favor, but I admit you made it easier than I thought. Had you examined the contents of the wine that was offered earlier, you might have picked up on the mild sedative which was slipped in your drink. Given that, you might have dodged my first attack and escaped the worst of the poison's effects.
"Do grow up, Potter," Draco said exasperatedly, applying liberal amounts of healing cream on Harry's arms. "You're alone in enemy territory, in the midst of a very delicate peace negotiation that will decide the fate of the Four Houses and ultimately the lands beyond. You can't afford to be so naïve."
Harry coughed, smiling weakly. "Constant vigilance."
"Precisely," Draco said. He began treating the cuts on Potter's face. The Gryffindor flushed an attractive shade of red as he was forced to patiently submit to Draco's ministrations. He was taking his time tending to Harry, deliberately smearing liberal amounts of cream and wrapping bandages around the worst of the cuts. His hands lingered over Potter's body, stroking the tanned skin absently as he worked.
The dark haired boy shifted restlessly, looking uncomfortable at the intimate contact.
"Although, perhaps my company has taught you something after all," Draco smirked, "That was quite a stunt you pulled at the end."
"I'm not proud of what I did," Harry said softly. He closed his eyes as if reminiscing. "I knew you weren't expecting it, so I thought it would give me a momentary advantage—enough so that I could throw you off. I just wanted to win. Forgive me."
"Should I punish you, Harry?" Draco whispered in Potter's ear. "Maybe that will teach you not to be such a tease."
At this, Harry's emerald eyes snapped open. "I never--"
"Shut-up," Draco growled before capturing Harry's lips in a soul searing kiss, fingers gripping painfully on Harry's raven locks. The effect was immediate as both of their magics reacted simultaneously, causing everything within a five-foot radius to be blown back by the very force of their joining.
The effect intensified as Potter was finally able to ground himself and struggled weakly in Draco's grip, trying to push the blonde away. The magnetic pull which had drawn both men inexorably closer refused to be parted, lashing tighter. Draco did nothing to help, pouring the remainder his magic into maintaining the bond, his body crying out in pleasure at the dual magical currents that were running between him and Harry.
Potter gasped, and Draco took the opportunity to delve deeper into the brunette's mouth, mercilessly tasting and claiming. His hands inched downward, undoing the clasps on the Gryffindor's clothes and would have continued happily had it not been for the sudden pain in his chest. The blonde blinked, still disoriented from the magical connection and felt as a second dagger plunged into his back, puncturing his left lung.
Draco coughed, the taste of blood now in his mouth, and turned to see the pale face of Colin Creevey, slowly backing away from the dying prince. Draco snarled and tried to summon the Inferi, but found his magic refused to obey, still tightly intertwined with Harry's own. The Gryffindor looked grim, as it was now he who was pouring magic into the bond, neutralizing the Slytherin Prince.
The two daggers were the same ones he had used in his duel with Potter, the poison still fresh on the blade. With the entry wound so close to his heart, he knew he only had a matter of minutes to live. "How?" Draco asked, struggling to control his breathing.
"Colin," Harry said simply, looking at Draco with sympathy. The serpent prince fought to stifle a hiss of frustration. "Your men picked him up during a raid a few months ago. He was a plant—a newly inducted member of the Order in disguise. After he was in place, it was only a matter of time before we would meet face-to-face. Luckily, Colin was with you when we did. It made it easier to slip him instructions.
"Soon, you will be dead, and the bulk of your Inferi forces will disintegrate. The three regiments you sent off have been taken care of by a hidden contingent which has been lying in wait for the better part of a week. Your army will be leaderless and confused. They will be easily routed and what remains of your troops will scatter and be picked off one by one until they have all been wiped out." The dark haired man sounded less triumphant than Draco thought he would. In fact, if the blonde didn't know better, the Gryffindor Champion looked almost guilty.
"I just wanted to win," Potter said softly, reaching up to gently touch Draco's cheek. "Forgive me."
The irony was not lost on Draco. He smiled, an expression that was so unlike his previous ones that Potter seemed surprised. "Well played, Potter."
The edges of his vision flickered, and the blonde found that he could not stop looking at the Gryffindor's impossibly emerald eyes. They watched him with a mixture of sadness and regret. Draco had never been afraid of death, knowing ever since a young age that it would inevitably come for him. It wouldn't be long now. He could feel as each breath grew shorter and as each heartbeat grew fainter.
Perhaps it was only his imagination, when he felt a familiar pair of lips touch his own.