Title: Fever Dream
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and her associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Word Count: 8000
Warnings: AU; ignores DH. Slavery, D/s relationship, sex, profanity, violence. Non-linear; tense changes.
Summary: Surrender. Dreams. Flowers. Heat. This is Harry's haven, what he's earned and what he chose.
Author's Notes: Happy birthday, lusiology! This was written for the prompt of slavery, specifically unyielding surrender. Hope this fits the bill, as I don't normally write D/s dynamics. Some of the imagery in this fic is inspired by the Decadent poetry of the 1890s in Britain.
Harry wakes slowly, in the midst of a cocoon of heat so thick that the sound of his own breath is a rasping pant. He rolls out of the blankets with weighted movements, but the heat moves with him. He collapses to the floor and lies stretched out on the carpet for long moments, his arm over his eyes. He's naked, of course. Draco's request, if he can call it a request when Draco knows that Harry will never disobey him.
After long moments of lying still, it occurs to Harry to wonder if Draco is actually in the room. He's trained Harry to wake at certain times, listening to the internal clock of his body and their routine, whether or not he's there. Harry lifts himself onto one elbow, licks away the sweat running down from his forehead—it lingers like seawater on his tongue—and looks around. More sweat collects on his eyelashes and makes his vision swim.
When he can see, he realizes Draco isn't present. The spell that makes the room's red walls quiver and bulge and ripple towards him is, though. Harry holds still until he manages to adapt to the hypnotic pulse, then lifts himself to hands and knees. He isn't to stand unless he has explicit permission, and Draco gave him no such orders before he left.
The carpet beneath his fingers is so heavy that it feels like treading clouds, or water. Harry can see nothing but red everywhere he looks. He likes the color, which is a red so brilliant and unvarying that Harry can pretend he's actually within something alive. Cradled in a heart, maybe. Draco's heart, he thinks when he's being daring, but he doesn't often say the words aloud, because silence means more to both of them.
The silence of all they don't say. The silence Harry could break if he chose to. But he does not choose to.
He moves gracefully, quietly, on all fours to the side of the room where Draco normally leaves instructions when he isn't with Harry when he wakes; Draco taught him both grace and quiet. Draco taught him many things. Surrender is perhaps the greatest of them.
A single sheet of parchment lies on the small red velvet shelf that sometimes holds jewelry, sometimes collars, sometimes complicated steel instruments that Harry is usually at a loss to know what to do with. Draco comes in and teaches him that, too, on those nights when there's steel.
But now, the note. Harry raises an eyebrow, intrigued, and picks it up. The handwriting on it blurs before his eyes. He waits until the blurring fades; he long ago became used to reading without his glasses.
We spent the night together in a sheet of mud.
Harry closes his eyes for long moments. The memory returns to him with ease and power—as he stayed with Draco, the memories have lost their ability to hurt him—but he is not sure how to interpret it as an order.
Then he begins to smile. Of course. There is only one place in Malfoy Manor where there's likely to be mud. He will have to reach it crawling on all fours, because he does not break his trust.
That will be a challenge. But since he surrendered to Draco, Harry has learned to relish challenges; there will never be one too great for him to surmount.
"Slow down, Potter!" The words barely had any breath behind them.
Harry refused to pay attention to Malfoy. They were running, and getting away from the enemy was a bit more important than coddling the idiot because he had a stitch in his side. He plunged over a hole that could have caught one of them and broken an ankle, then cursed breathlessly as he heard water running ahead. More water was the last thing they needed when fleeing through the rain across a battlefield transformed into churned and torn mud.
To make matters worse, he and Malfoy were still connected at the wrist by a length of golden magic that they hadn't yet figured out how to break, and Malfoy was stumbling, coughing and hacking. He'd already gone down face-first in the mud once, and nearly dislocated Harry's shoulder with the sudden yank.
For the hundredth time in the last few minutes, Harry damned himself for thinking that it was a good idea to save Malfoy from the Death Eaters when he fled, instead of waiting, finding out some way to cut the bond, and then running. Harry had hidden his wand carefully and surrendered a fake wand to the Death Eaters, the only reason they weren't dead yet. He could have come up with some way to cut the tie eventually.
Malfoy screamed. Harry heard the sizzle of a curse past his face then, and reckoned Malfoy must already have been struck. Wheeling in place, he made out three heavily cloaked figures streaming towards them, wands aimed. Beside them ran a black, four-legged shape, which pulled away from the rest in the next moments and closed the distance between it and Harry in immense bounds. Fenrir Greyback in werewolf form was a nightmare, with fur so dark Harry wouldn't have seen him if it had been an hour later and teeth as long as Harry's index finger.
What Harry did next was born of desperation.
He pointed his wand at Malfoy and yelled, "Commuto!"
Malfoy uttered another cry that became a hissing shriek halfway through. He bent, wriggled, writhed, and changed. Harry heard Greyback howl, as if he understood what they were doing, but the Death Eaters had halted and were watching nervously.
The next moment, Harry was being hauled aloft by a maddened hippogriff, the bond linking his wrist firmly to the creature's eagle-like foreleg.
If his shoulder had hurt after Malfoy fell into the mud, it was nothing compared to this. Harry reached up, gritting his teeth and squinting furiously in an effort not to cry out, and grasped his own arm, winding the chain around more of it, link by link. As he bound himself more closely to Malfoy, the strain eased, but it was still hardly comfortable, swaying about in midair and getting pelted with the rain, Malfoy's new talons opening and closing right beside him, wings driving wind into his face.
Then Harry heard a distinct snap that he suspected was Greyback's teeth closing right beneath his feet, and reminded himself that things could always be worse.
Either hippogriffs had a good instinct for finding their way out of danger, or Malfoy retained enough sense to remember where they'd been going. He flew them over the swollen river—Harry shuddered; if the Death Eaters hadn't done for them, the water would have—and then southwest, the general direction of the Order camp. Harry let his forehead slump onto his arm and panted, trying to adapt himself to the constant pull and the pain.
He was seventeen years old. He'd left his friends, both badly injured in the destruction of Hufflepuff's cup, behind not a month ago to search for the last two Horcruxes, and he'd been promptly captured and placed in a prison cell along with Malfoy, who apparently hadn't pleased his Lord any better in the year since he'd fled into the darkness with Snape. He'd endured several weeks of torture and contact with Voldemort's mind and promises to turn him into a werewolf when the next full moon came.
None of that, he thought, was really enough to explain what he was doing here.
Finally, Malfoy's wingbeats slowed, and they began to drop. Harry looked apprehensively at the ground, and was relieved to see that they'd land on open moor with no sign of human habitation for miles. The last thing he wanted right now was to try and escape inquisitive Muggles right along with enraged Dark wizards.
Malfoy landed with an awkward crash. Either Harry's weight had unbalanced him or he wasn't as good with wings as he was with a broom. Harry bit back a curse as he rolled on the ground and clutched at his wrist. No, wait, the real last thing he wanted to do right now was anger the hippogriff with impolite language.
Malfoy looked down at him and opened his beak, hissing. Harry, battered and weary though he was, managed to aim his wand and mutter, "Finite Incantatem."
Abruptly he was chained to a human shape only a little larger than himself, who spat a mouthful of mud out. Harry shut his eyes. He knew he would have to deal with Malfoy's insults in a moment, and he planned on snatching as much rest as he could whilst he listened.
What he felt instead was a hand shaking his shoulder, and then a quiet voice spoke directly into his ear. "Come on, Potter, we can't stay here."
Harry got to his feet, stumbling on one ankle. He immediately bent down to check it, breathing hard with panic. Had Greyback managed to bite him after all?
But he couldn't find any blood or torn skin, and Malfoy, tugged half-sideways into an awkward posture by Harry's movement, was running a hand lightly over the small of his back, whispering, "It's all right, you're not wounded, I think it's just a sprain."
The words made Harry feel absurdly better. He got to his feet, limping, and Malfoy promptly offered an arm. "Lean on me," he murmured.
Harry would have stared at him in bewilderment if he could have, and demanded to know if the transformation into a hippogriff had somehow damaged Malfoy's brain. But they didn't have time; they should get under shelter, he knew, and out of sight. The rain had continued even here, and he was beginning to shiver as his wet clothes clung to him.
Together, they shuffled and staggered into the middle of a hollow in the moors. Without asking, Malfoy borrowed Harry's wand and banished the water that had collected in the bottom of it, then set up several privacy spells. Harry wasn't sure what came after that; probably charms to soften the ground and start a fire. And somehow, Malfoy figured out how to cut the bloody chain.
He only knew that he found himself lying on mud at some point, which could have been a four-poster bed for all he cared, and staring into flames. Malfoy was curled up behind him, arms wrapped around his chest, and chin resting on top of his head. Harry could see strands of his own bedraggled, dirty hair out of the corners of his eyes.
He didn't want to. He stared straight ahead, and paid attention to the living warmth in front of him and behind.
Malfoy began to murmur to him. It was a long time before Harry understood the words.
Harry pauses and glances around, proud of himself. He's outside in the garden with the pond in the center of it—the pond surrounded with mud for the good of the small magical breed of frogs that make beautiful music and won't breed anywhere else. The pond itself is small and a drowsy green with the weeds that crowd the edges. The mudflat surrounding it is more than twice as big, sprawling in a rough circle and butting up against flowers in various soft shades of yellow. Harry leans against one of the bushes and closes his eyes as the outer petals of laburnum scratch at his naked skin.
Behind him, if he looks, he knows he'll see a trail of odd prints that his knees made, leading through the crushed grass of the garden and the mud itself to the side of the pond. Draco will speak to him later about cleanliness, but his voice will be fond, and Harry knows the house-elves will be assigned to clean it up in any case. Draco doesn't expect him to do chores; that's not part of their relationship.
Harry has lived with enough people who expect him to do chores.
He spends some time with his eyes shut, appreciating the closeness and heat of the garden, before he opens his eyes and looks at the small island of compacted grass in the center of the pond. He doesn't see anything at first, but when he unfocuses his gaze and lets it drift, he makes out the small twist of white parchment projecting up from the weeds.
He leans carefully across the pond to retrieve the paper. The water splashes against his arm, as warm as blood. The hum of the bees from the hive that Draco keeps in one corner is loud in his ears, and the scent of the laburnum heavy in his nostrils.
The letters have blurred a bit with the wetness, but Draco has anticipated that and pressed the quill deeply into the parchment.
Remember the scent of white heliotrope.
This riddle is ridiculously easy to solve. Harry carefully lays the note on the bank, so that if Draco tracks him he will know Harry found this paper and is on the right trail, and then begins to crawl to the far side of the garden.
Harry closed his eyes, wound his arms more tightly around Draco Malfoy, and reflected distinctly that they really did seem to have the worst luck.
He and Malfoy—who for some reason refused to be left behind in the Order camp—had come to the place where Voldemort had evidently placed the locket Horcrux, which he'd taken back from Mundungus Fletcher. But the locket was gone, and Death Eaters were waiting to spring a trap. They had been luckier than they deserved, Harry knew, to have startled Voldemort's minions so much with their sudden appearance that they'd hesitated instead of going for their wands. That had enabled Harry to Stun the two of them and then drag Malfoy to the nearest shelter he could find and cast a Disillusionment Charm.
They were lying beneath a set of thick bushes bearing white heliotrope flowers now, whilst the recovered Death Eaters searched the grassy meadow and snarled at each other. Harry bitterly wished that he'd simply Apparated out instead of attacking. Anti-Apparition wards had snapped up now, and he and Malfoy wouldn't have a chance to escape until they could run beyond them.
And they wouldn't have a chance to run until the Death Eaters had exhausted their patience by searching the immediate area and moved on to others. All that had saved them so far was the seeming lack of space beneath the bushes and the fact that Voldemort didn't exactly choose his servants for their intelligence.
Malfoy shifted in his arms and sighed. Harry looked at him frantically, trying to express with his face alone exactly how bad an idea it was to move right now.
Malfoy was gazing at him. Harry's arms were wound around his chest, and Harry had gathered him as close as he could so they would take up less space and to somewhat protect Malfoy from the scratchy leaves of the bushes. Malfoy lifted a hand now, moving so slowly that the bushes never rustled and Harry had a chance to see the hand coming for minutes at a time.
It felt oddly like doom. And yet, Harry had never been this calm in the face of death. He found his breath slowing, his eyes focusing on the slender curve of Malfoy's palm, his neatly trimmed nails, the slight crookedness to his thumb, as though it were the only thing that mattered in the world. Even the thought that Malfoy meant to make some noise with the movement and signal the Death Eaters couldn't rouse him.
The air was heavy. The scent of white heliotrope swirled around them like smoke. Harry blinked, and blinked again. He didn't feel tears in his eyes, but they stung anyway.
His eyelids drooped shut involuntarily when Malfoy touched his cheek.
He had never felt anything like this. He suspected he never would again. Their enemies stamped around them, making wilder and wilder suggestions as to what Harry and Malfoy could have done to escape. The flowers encircled them in invisible cage bars of fragrance that changed direction with the wind and dizzied and dazzled and confused. Harry lay still, memorizing the smoothness of Malfoy's palm, the calluses on his fingertips where he gripped a wand, the scent of skin that was barely noticeable under the assault of white heliotrope.
The Death Eaters went away at last. Harry opened his eyes and saw Malfoy's eyes holding him like the hand did.
It took long moments for him to react. His limbs were heavy and numb, and his tongue lay motionless in his mouth. He whispered, "We should leave now."
"We should," said Malfoy, but he didn't move, and his smile was as faint and mysterious as a centaur's.
In the end, Harry was the one who got them out from beneath the bushes and to the edge of the anti-Apparition wards. Malfoy was content to move behind him in silence, obeying his instructions adroitly. It was good that Harry didn't have to instruct him to speak, though, because he wasn't sure Malfoy would have obeyed. His eyes maintained that strange, direct, clinging gaze.
Just before they Apparated, Malfoy wrapped his arms around Harry's chest and laid his lips against the side of his neck.
Harry stood still, snatching a sudden moment of relaxation, washed free of the concerns of war.
He didn't understand why he couldn't step away from that hold until Malfoy let him go. And he didn't understand, either, why his hand trembled when he reached out and laid it on Malfoy's arm.
The centerpiece of this garden is a giant bush of white heliotrope, towering so high that Harry has to tilt his head back the moment he enters the garden to encompass all of it in his vision. It grows in a roughly triangular shape, more flowers than is natural crowding it and filling the air with scent. The entire garden, in fact, smells of nothing else, and the scent has mildly narcotic properties; Harry can feel his breath slowing and his head spinning as he crawls through the invisible cloud of fragrance. He is glad that he's already on his hands and knees.
He crawls beneath the bush and falls onto his back. The grass beneath him is flat and smooth, kept that way by house-elf charms. Streaks of violet light dart around the bush. Harry raises one hand, though he knows he has no hope of touching one; they are captive fairies, spelled to fly in circles and stir the air so that the perfume flows everywhere.
The longer Harry stares, the more the scene wavers and loses definition in front of him. At one point he thinks he is ascending up a long trail of stars, the flowers curving to look like the spiral arm of the Milky Way, his mind stretching the violet light of the fairies into rare glimpses of darkness through the endless light. Then he thinks that he's caged by the flowers as he once imagined being caged by the scent; their petals lengthen and grow spears. He arches his back and tilts his head to the side, offering his throat, in a perfect curve of submission, to whatever creature has placed him here.
Sweetness licks up the side of his face like a kiss, and then two snowflakes drift onto his cheek. Harry blinks and sits up. One snowflake is a petal from one of the flowers, silky and content to bend in his hand. Harry plays with it for a time, fascinated by the contrast between its actual softness and the hardness he imagined for it.
Then he picks up the other snowflake and glances at it. Another scrap of parchment, of course.
I am waiting for you in the heart of the heat.
The scent of the flowers has affected him even more strongly than he realized. Harry has climbed back to his hands and knees and started off in the right direction before his conscious mind realizes that there is a right direction.
But he doesn't worry, doesn't question or wonder if he will be able to make it all the way to Draco before collapsing. He trusts Draco as he has never trusted anyone else, enough to give all the choices up to him. Draco did not enchant the scent of the flowers that strongly. He would never do anything to hurt Harry. He is interested, rather, in protecting Harry from the hurts of the outside world.
"Because I know." Harry's throat hurt. It seemed he had been born having this conversation.
"You can't, Harry, not really." Hermione was shaking her head. "You know that Voldemort knows about the connection between your minds, so you can't trust any vision he sends you."
"I know," Harry said, trying to keep his voice under control so he wouldn't scream the words he wanted to scream at her, "that he's keeping the locket in his father's grave." He swayed and caught himself with a hand on the table. He couldn't remember the last time he had eaten something more fulfilling than a cup of tea. He had been up for four nights straight, healing the wounded from a Death Eater sortie, organizing the flight from the Order's training camp to Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, dealing with Kreacher—who was outraged that other people had intruded into the Black home, even if Harry did own it now—and struggling to capture the visions from Voldemort's mind without the bastard noticing. He was sure he had succeeded. And, well, to be told he hadn't when he was so low on food and sleep that he wanted to collapse was more than a little frustrating.
"She's right, mate," Ron said. His voice was gentler than Hermione's, calm and rational. It was the voice he used to speak of chess. It still made Harry want to punch him. "That sounds like V-Voldemort, but he probably has another trap set up, just like last time. There's no way to be sure you can get any concrete information out of his mind—"
"Draco's been teaching me Legilimency," Harry blurted out before he could stop himself. "And Occlumency."
Hermione stopped, blinking. Ron stared at him, then gave a short little laugh. "You can't—I mean, Harry, I'm not saying you couldn't learn it, of course you could, but why in the world would you trust that slimy little git in your mind?"
"Because of all the missions we've been on together in the last few months." Harry was now speaking with emotions in his voice that made them look at him oddly. He didn't care; he couldn't care. He was so close to convincing them that this vision from Voldemort was real. "Because what I suffered when I was a captive, he suffered, too. He knows the worst I've been through and it doesn't make him flinch. I needed that in a teacher. Snape—never could." He stopped. It was still difficult to talk about Snape. Voldemort had crucified him, and Harry hadn't been in time to save his life, because he had been unsure if his dream of the event was real or not.
He still remembered that Draco had been the one to come up behind him as he stood staring at the body, however, and that he'd put an arm around Harry's shoulders and pulled him powerfully in. No reassuring words, no attempts to ask him what he needed. Draco knew what he needed.
Ron looked highly uncomfortable. Hermione laid a hand over his and nodded at Harry. "All right, Harry. We'll go with you." Her voice sharpened. "But we have to go together, and only with several contingency plans. And I want to talk to Malfoy before we do."
Harry was too tired to thank her. He nodded, smiled, and then stumbled upstairs to his room. He had another set of strategies to revise before he sent the owls to the Order's allies hidden inside the Ministry and occupied Hogsmeade.
The moment he stepped inside his bedroom, however, a hand planted itself in the middle of his back and shoved him into the wall. Harry found himself relaxing involuntarily, his head lolling forwards until his brow rested against dirty, peeling paper. His breathing slowed. His eyelids drooped. He didn't understand it, but having Draco touch him forcefully was what he needed. Perhaps it was only the contrast between those kinds of touches and the gentle way in which Draco had entered his mind, cradling his thoughts so carefully that Harry had never felt any pain.
"What were you doing?" Draco whispered into his ear, stepping forwards so that his hands touched the wall, leaving his arms encircling Harry. Harry wriggled back into him without moving his forehead. "We agreed that you were going to bed tonight, so you'll actually feel good in the morning."
Harry yawned and felt a great wave of weariness rush over him. The first time that happened, he'd accused Draco of casting a spell. Draco had raised an eyebrow and looked at him contemptuously, then hadn't spoken to him for a week. Now Harry knew better. He tended to take Draco's suggestions as orders.
Still, in this case, he thought he needed to fight, if only because they were in what he hoped would be the ending stages of the war. "Sod feeling good," he muttered. "I have to have the orders out so that—"
Strong hands gripped and spun him. Harry found himself staring into Draco's eyes, compassionate and unyielding. Draco's fingers rose and feathered along the sides of Harry's face, pausing at the hinges of his jaw.
"I won't tell you what you want to hear," Draco said softly. "I won't tell you that you should rest so you'll have a clear head tomorrow morning and do a better job with the orders. I don't care about that. I care about your resting. Someone has to."
Harry gave him a glare that was far less than half-hearted. Maybe a quarter-hearted, if he was lucky. The thought struck him as funny in his dizzy and desperately sleepless state, and he let out a little giggle.
Draco waited patiently until he was done, then said, "You don't care enough about it. I've taken over the job."
Harry twitched his head in what would have been a full shake from side to side if he could have mustered the energy. "Why do you care?"
"Because I like the way you look when you trust me," Draco said. His fingers worked over Harry's cheeks, gently, in circles. "Now. I'm going to give you a sleeping potion, and I'm going to trust you to drink it. I can leave the room if you make it over to the bed first—"
Harry raised his hands and caught Draco's wrists. "No," he whispered. "No. Please, I—I want you to hold my mouth open and feed it to me." He knew he flushed just a moment later, and wondered absently if Draco would feel the heat beneath his fingers. But he didn't drop his gaze and he didn't move.
Draco didn't, either. However, his eyes grew so intense that Harry felt pinned by them. He said, "You want me to hold your mouth open and feed it to you?"
Distantly, Harry understood that he was being offered an out. If he was too embarrassed to hear the words being spoken aloud by someone else, he could look away and Draco would leave the potion with him and go.
But he didn't want to take the out. He doubted he would ever have the courage for this again if he backed away now. He whispered, "That's right."
Draco nodded and took one hand away to flick his wand and Summon the potion. Harry whimpered in protest, though Draco's eyes never moved, and surely he should be satisfied with that. And then the fingers were back and Harry was shivering, intense full-body shivers that racked him from his marrow to his skin.
He stood passively until Draco pressed on his cheeks and he didn't have any choice but to open his mouth if he didn't want to be hurt. The potion was promptly poured down his throat, and Harry would have gagged at the thickness of the liquid. His eyes were caught and held by Draco's, however. They weren't quite burning; instead, there was an intense low light in the back of them, as if Draco were a predator who had just seen the last kill he would ever have to make.
Draco lifted a hand and massaged Harry's throat, though he didn't have to. Harry felt tears come to his eyes, and he didn't even know why.
Then a delicious limpness and numbness spread throughout his limbs, and he found himself slumping into darkness.
He never hit bottom. Draco fell beside him, cradling Harry in his arms and turning the fall into a controlled descent.
The hothouse covers the center of the gardens and is larger than most of the flats Harry tried to live in after the war, before he came to live with Draco. Harry opens the door slowly, rearing back on his heels to reach the latch, and then again when the scent of the flowers strikes him. After some time, he manages to crawl slowly inside.
Violets flourish everywhere, forced to unnatural size and vividness by the magical heat of the glass house. Hydrangeas rise from hidden pots, peeking and nodding around the violets—white and pink and blue. The center "aisle" of the hothouse is one enormous jade-green pond, so thick with lilies and their pads that no water can be seen. When Harry wades through it, he pauses and floats for long moments, the water deep enough to stir the hair around his cheeks when he bends his knees a little.
The air grows hotter and hotter as he travels further and further. When he looks up, Harry can see only enormous fronds, as red as the room in which he sleeps during the afternoons. They overlay the glass, or grow just beneath, scarlet ferns and flowers that Draco imported from a country whose name Harry doesn't know. Tiny white blossoms cling to their spiky edges. Harry is reminded of his earlier delusion that the flowers on the white heliotrope bush were actually stars. That delusion properly belongs here, though the stars would be shining through a perpetually smoldering sunset.
He climbs out of the water on the far side and sweeps his wet hair from his face as he studies the obstacle course ahead. Trays and pots and banked beds of flowers await him, their feet so close together that he will have to stand up at least a little and be very careful where he steps. He can hear the soft, drowsy song of a bird. Draco has told him multiple times what the bird is. Harry has forgotten each time, content to know that Draco will tell him again and with equal delight to the first moment he explained.
He picks his way through the trays. Blue flowers sway towards him, attracted, it seems, by the motion of his body. More lilies ring like bells when he touches them. Green ferns unroll new fronds suddenly and as suddenly retract them. Harry smiles. These are Draco's magical plants, his experiments, bred not for sale—gardening is no more than a hobby to Draco, not the source of his livelihood—but for his interest in the forms they will take.
Beyond the experiments—
Harry halts and feels the breath leave his lungs suddenly. He has not been in the hothouse for some time, and whilst he knows Draco has been busy here, he has not asked questions. If it's necessary for him to know something, Draco tells him.
In front of him is an enormous rose, so large that five Harrys standing around it with linked arms would not be able to encircle it completely. The color is purest white, such that a drop of blood would stain it like snow. On the highest, heaped part of the blossom lies Draco, his arms folded behind his head, the pale background accenting what color remains to him in his nakedness—the yellowness of his hair, the translucent blue of the veins beneath his skin.
The shadow gray of his eyes, when he opens them.
"Come here," Draco says, no more than a breath, and Harry falls to his knees and goes to him.
Harry swallowed and continued walking down the path of crushed stone that led to the doors of Malfoy Manor. He thought this was the bravest thing he had ever done in his life. Killing Voldemort had been easy; in fact, he was soaring so high with rage at the moment when it happened that he didn't remember it, even in his nightmares. He closed his eyes in one world and opened them in another. Voldemort was dead, and the wizarding world was hailing him as its savior and Chosen One and present and future legend.
There were so many things he could do. Everyone made sure to emphasize possibilities to him, including Ron and Hermione. Hermione seemed concerned that he would be lost without a Dark Lord to defeat and daily sent him pamphlets about some exciting new job opening or the Prophet with an advertisement for classes or training circled.
Harry only knew two things at the moment, for certain.
He wasn't numb, but he wasn't far from it. And he was tired.
He reached the front doors of Malfoy Manor. He hesitated for long moments, then shook his head. He didn't have the words to explain to Draco why he needed this, but he would have to risk it anyway. Because he needed this. He knocked.
He expected a house-elf who would either deny him entrance or offer to escort him to Narcissa Malfoy, the only member of the family who was reliably home these days, with Lucius in Azkaban and Draco out making a name for himself as someone who had helped to destroy magical artifacts important to the Dark Lord. Instead, Draco appeared in the doorway, his eyes holding the same intense light as they had months ago when he fed Harry the sleeping potion.
And suddenly Harry knew words were unnecessary. Hadn't Draco known what he needed without his having to speak it, multiple times?
He knelt on the doorstep.
Draco studied him quietly for long moments. Someone else—Ron, for example—might have taken the lack of expression on his face for coldness. Harry looked into his eyes, and knew better. Then Draco reached down with one finger and traced the lightning bolt scar on Harry's forehead.
"You'll have to ask for what you want, Harry," he murmured, strangely gentle. "I think and hope we both want the same thing, but I won't trick you into anything against your will, and I won't let you deceive yourself."
"You never have," Harry breathed. The block in his throat that had prevented words was easing at last. And so was his numbness. Joy was moving up into him, though distantly as yet, like the first tremors that signaled an earthquake.
He found the words.
"When I'm with you, I'm calm," he said. "I'm relaxed. Even though the war's over, my mind and body are still fighting it. I'm aware and alert of the smallest thing at all times. I get insanely suspicious of the tiniest deviation from any routine. I can't tell you how many times I've drawn my wand on Ron or Hermione, even." He swallowed. One of those times he had drawn his wand on Ginny, and that had been the end of their relationship. She could tolerate many things, but not the distrust implied by that gesture.
"I like it when you touch me forcefully, when you tell me to do something—"
"Why?" Draco interrupted. He shifted his left leg, crossing it over the right, and for the first time Harry understood that he might not be the only nervous one. "If you just want calm and relaxation, there are plenty of other solutions for you. Certain potions, a structured routine set by a Mind-Healer—"
"No," Harry whispered. "I don't trust any of them enough, Mind-Healers or apothecaries or anyone else. I trust you. I want to choose to stop making choices. To put the power in your hands. To do what you tell me." He was shivering now the way he shivered when Draco pressed the potion down his throat. "I think I've been looking for someone to surrender to all my life. I had plenty of people to fight with and against and for, and most of them looked up to me and accepted me as their champion, or looked down on me and accepted me as their enemy. So that lack of someone who would accept my surrender and not make me suffer for it stood out." He shivered again, and drew a deep breath. "And now, I want to be the one doing the accepting."
Draco's hand moved from his cheek down to his throat, lightly encircling it. "Name it," he whispered back. "Speak aloud what you want it to be. We'll go by the name you give it."
"Slavery chosen and earned," Harry said. He wasn't entirely sure that his breath was leaving his mouth; perhaps only his lips were moving to form the words. "Confinement in chains that I draped over myself and to which you have the key." He paused again, and then said, as the truth struck like lightning into his brain, "Unyielding surrender."
He drew his wand from his pocket and laid it at Draco's feet, then bowed his head and folded his hands into his lap.
There was a long moment when Harry thought Draco might not accept. Then his hand came into view, picking up Harry's wand and tucking it away.
"Very well," he said. He waited some moments before speaking again. His voice was shaking. "You cannot know how happy you've made me."
And he kissed Harry, lightning bolt scar and cheek and lips, maneuvering Harry's head to find the best angle to do as he liked, whilst Harry breathed and trembled and thrilled, as the joy arrived and filled him with refining fire.
"Lie back. Hands above your head. Spread your fingers. Don't grip anything. Spread your legs."
Someone else, Harry knows, would probably find Draco's voice cold as he delivers the commands, too crisp, too much the voice of the master dominating his slave, taking pleasure from that and that alone. It's Harry who can hear the slight hitch in Draco's voice as he obeys the instructions one by one, who can feel the trembling of the fingers as Draco's hand slides up his inner thigh, who knows what it means that Draco uses his voice alone to make Harry obey.
Draco never uses bonds, chains, ropes, or cuffs. He doesn't need to. He trusts Harry to honor the instructions, and Harry in turn trusts Draco to honor his original surrender, asking nothing of him that he cannot give. Sometimes they have used the instruments of steel and thin hissing whips and other toys Draco is briefly fascinated by, but most of the time they make love like this: Draco asks and Harry gives.
Harry keeps his hands in place and spreads his legs because he wants to.
He watches now as Draco bends close, trailing the ends of his hair up Harry's chest. Harry feels the muscles tremble, but he doesn't move, no matter how badly it tickles—and it does tickle like being taunted with fiery gauze along his ribs. He waits until Draco looks him in the eye and murmurs, "Tell me how it feels."
"Almost too good to bear," Harry says, and at Draco's nod, he wriggles and squirms the way he desires, though he keeps his arms and legs still.
"Time to cross the line," Draco tells him, and his hands descend, skating along Harry's ribs whilst he dips his head to let his hair caress Harry's erection.
Harry sobs with joy and permits his head to fall back so that his eyes are staring at the nodding edges of the white rose, trusting Draco to do whatever he wants. It makes the sensations more intense when he can't see what's coming. A breath here, a pinch there, a lick to the inside of his groin. Harry falls into a maelstrom flashing gold and white around him, gold for the pleasure and white for the rose.
He comes back to himself when Draco alters his position, but the joy does not diminish as Draco shifts up beside him and murmurs, "Suck me. But don't move your head."
Harry laps carefully at Draco's erection, which lies on his cheek. The heavy warmth weighs down his tongue like a melting sweet. Harry makes a small sound, because Draco has not ordered him to silence, and lets his tongue twine carefully along the edge of Draco's head, then the shaft. His mouth is watering; by stretching his chin and not lifting his head, he manages to just wrap the tip of Draco's cock in his lips. He laps again and again, pausing on every third lick to permit his tongue to rest and Draco to enjoy simply being enclosed in willing wet warmth.
Draco is breathing as deeply as though he's gone into meditation. Harry knows it's a means of restraining his passion. He grins and makes his small sound again, this time directly onto Draco's flesh. Draco's hips rise and he cries out, and Harry has as much of a weight as he wants in his mouth at last. He clamps his lips down and sucks suddenly, his fingers twitching as he imagines what it would be like to roll Draco's balls. But Draco didn't ask for that this time, and so Harry doesn't want it, either.
Draco pulls his hips back and rolls on top of Harry. Harry's eyes fall shut at once, in what is a reflex response by now. He sleeps best when Draco is resting on him like this, restricting his range of movement even if he has not been ordered to stay still. He grows entirely calm. Like a trapped animal who senses the end is near, Draco teased him once.
Like someone who's surrendered, Harry answered back.
Draco lies like that for long moments, rubbing his cheek against Harry's like a cat, nuzzling into his neck, spreading his own legs enough to rub his erection against Harry's. Harry was told to stay in position, so he does. The pleasure when he's like this does not last as long, but is more concentrated and sharp.
Draco sighs at last and sits up. He reaches down into the center of the rose and lifts his fingers, gleaming and dripping with golden lubricant. Harry blinks and lets his eyes ask the question.
"The pollen of the flower has—interesting properties," Draco says.
Harry laughs and lets Draco maneuver his arse into position, on top of a larger petal that supports him the way a pillow might. Draco slides one finger into him, and Harry welcomes it with a groan. A second finger follows, fast. Harry likes his pleasure just on the edge of rough, as he likes an embrace that's just on the edge of confinement.
Draco enters him with his usual triumphant huff of breath. Harry opens his eyes and stares up at him, dazed with pleasure. Small scarlet butterflies are flapping around Draco's head. Harry isn't sure if that's a hallucination left over from the white heliotrope fragrance, a new spell Draco added to the hothouse, or just an extension of the red spots that flash behind his eyes when he closes them tightly.
"I love being inside you," Draco whispers. He is beginning to rock, languidly, with a lack of force Harry knows will make their climaxes take longer. That's all right; the very fact that Draco chose this and not him makes Harry both that much harder and that much more willing to wait.
"I love having you inside me," Harry replies. Draco looks pleased, a soft shine in his eyes and a softer smile curving his mouth. They don't do a duet of responses all the time—among other things, Harry is silent sometimes—but now he clearly desires it.
"I love knowing that you'll do anything I tell you," Draco says. "Come on command, stay still, attend to my pleasure before your own." He briefly shudders and arches his spine, driving into Harry fiercely for a moment. Talking about the part he plays in his relationship with Harry always excites him.
"I love doing it," Harry whispers.
He gets lost in the motion then, the rocking, the fullness that never for a moment lets him ignore where he is or what he's doing or who he's with. The scarlet butterflies fall like leaves and coat his cheeks with dewy wings. More are about now, soaring around Draco's head in lazy patterns. A haze of heat drifts between them, and burns away in the further heat of Draco's eyes. The white rose shifts beneath them and tears, innocence stained.
The world dances. Harry can see yellow and violet patterns bursting around him, bright as laburnum flowers, bright as the fairies circling the white heliotrope bush. The rose is as soft as mud. His back arches now and then; Draco still hasn't told him to keep his torso motionless. His legs ache with their extension, his fingers spread further as though invisible leaves have been inserted between them, and the ache feeds into his desire. He is carried away from the hothouse and into a world where there is Draco. Draco's desire and Draco's will flow over him and replace his body.
When Draco orders him to come, it seems almost redundant, Harry feels so good. But he does so anyway, and shudders with satisfaction when Draco leans forwards, hands braced on either side of his head, and gasps his pleasure.
One day, he will be able to explain why it was Draco, of all people, he chose to surrender control to. One day, his visits with Ron and Hermione will be less tense and awkward. They have long since accepted his relationship with Draco, but they would be more comfortable if he had the words to make it make sense. At the moment, Harry knows, it only means something to them because it means something to him.
One day, Harry will find those words, and discover the complicated psychological reasons behind his weariness—the weariness that melted when he moved into Malfoy Manor with Draco and first woke naked in his arms. One day, he will be able to say that his refusal of responsibility for the outside world wasn't selfishness or laziness but simple good sense, the thing that works for him, and say it without stammering and blushing and looking at the floor, which somewhat ruins the conviction of his argument.
One day, he will, perhaps, want to confront that outside world on a more regular basis.
For now, he basks in a life as hot as fever and glorious as a dream. For now, he lies with his face in Draco's lap, still on top of the white rose, whilst Draco strokes his hair, parting the messy strands and then letting them fall back into place, petting his cheeks, letting his breath rustle over the lightning bolt scar.
White rose petals drift down around them like falling snow when Harry opens his eyes. He closes them again and shudders when one of Draco's hands wanders onto his back.
"Roll over," Draco whispers.
Harry complies without hesitation and lifts his head for Draco's kiss, which lingers long enough to suck most of the breath from his lungs. Harry hardly cares. It's happiness that's making him dizzy.
He came to Draco for that which he couldn't learn anywhere else.
And Draco taught him many things.
The greatest of them is peace.