Title: Chasing the Dragon

Author: Romie

Rating: R

Fandom: HP

Pairing: Harry/Draco

Disclaimer: Not mine, lalalala.  Rowling's.

Warnings: SLASH.  (Same-sex romantic pairing.)  Also, this contains a lot of drug references, although the only actual drug use is the smoking of tobacco cigarettes.  The references are largely metaphorical.

Summary: Harry thinks about the nature of addiction

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Addiction is a tricky thing.  The term itself is a dangerous, ambiguous one: it comes from the Latin /addere/ -- to devote, to deliver over.  When the Romans spoke of addiction, they were talking of debtors and creditors.  Appropriate, perhaps, in a world of deals with junkies, but I have always felt its closer kinship to a-diction - "without speech."  Silent, subtle, unnoticed.  The need that creeps into the mouths of so-called casual users, despite their assurances that they can handle it.  They'll never be caught.

What is the line between enjoyment and dependence?  When does proclivity cross to need?  Often, we are told that an addict is someone who cannot stop himself, but how then do we have recovered addicts, treatment centers, support groups?  We hear than an addict cannot see joy in the world without his drug, and yet many men are just as unhappy having never touched it.  An addict, they say, goes through severe symptoms of withdrawal once his usage is cut off.

Cannabis is not physically addicting.  Nor is LSD.  Nor is alcohol, unless one wants to count the hangover.  And yet we have stoners, acidheads, and alcoholics.

This struggle to define addiction is not a new one.  As early as 6000 BC, opium was derived from the poppy, and it enjoyed widespread use in Ancient Greece.  The appeal of an opiate is readily apparent; it produces an indescribable wave of euphoria.  All pain - mental and physical - disappears, and for two hours you love yourself - really and truly love yourself - just as you are.  The world is rosy, and you are charming.  Confident.  Energized.  Impassioned.  You catch a glimpse of what could be, and never want to return.

It's little wonder that opium became the drug of the literate.  Poe, Wilde, Dodson, Berlioz - all were not only users, but mentioned it in their works.  Dorian Grey, hookah-smoking caterpillars, Synphonie Fantastique. . .  Other authors, like Dickens and Browning, took laudanum, a tincture of opium dissolved in alcohol.  Prescribed for relief of pain and sleeplessness, laudanum was easily found in Victorian medical kits; artists who wished to relieve the "wear and tear of authorship" no longer had to share their vice with strangers.

Eventually, laudanum gave way to morphine as the battlefield painkiller.  Named for Morpheus, the god of dreams, morphine was a cheaper, more stable form of opium that was thought to be less addicting.  By 1930, morphine had lost out to its more powerful variant diamorphine.  A white or brown powder, diamorphine could be injected, or heated and smoked in a process the poets called "chasing the dragon."

Diamorphine is better known as Heroin.

On the street, this is shortened to Harry.

For a year now, I have been seeing Draco Malfoy.  Secretly.  Quietly.  We never speak of it; we never speak at all beside the usual exchange of insults, the verbal dueling for which we are both renowned.  And yet we somehow find ourselves atop the astronomy tower, breath smoking in sinuous trails from mouth and nose.

I am not so foolish to think that no one suspects.  Ron and Hermione must certainly know - they have covered for me enough times.  But there are always convenient explanations, alternatives easier to believe in an emotional if not a rational sense.  We don't talk about it, either.  It stays unspoken, as though statement will make it too real.

Words are powerful magic.

I know that I should stop this; it's getting out of control.  My muscles ache from constant tension; my joints are sore and copper-plated.  It takes me hours to fall asleep because my mind is too full of speculation.  When I will see him again.  What will happen.  Whether I want it to.  The deception makes me nauseous; the stolen moments feel like crimes.  I hate myself so much for giving in that I stop eating, stop washing, stop caring about my classes.

This is dangerous.  If I had to leave Hogwarts, where would I go?  What do I have in the world outside these walls?

Why do I always return?  It's never intentional; it just happens.  One minute, I'm taking a letter to Hedwig; the next I've followed him to an unused classroom, fingers crunching through over-gelled hair and mouth slicked against a razorblade cheekbone.  They say lips have more nerves than any other part of the body; I can well believe it when his teeth close on mine, tongue flickering over chapped ridges.

If it sounds as though I'm avoiding responsibility for my actions, I apologize.  I do not mean to imply that I somehow "accidentally" search out a trysting place and trip into my enemy's arms.  No; I always make the choice.  I simply cannot work out *when*.  It never seems unusual at the time - anymore, it's the only time I feel like myself.  But two hours after seeing him, the rosy glow wears off and the world seems grayer for the contrast.  I cannot remember what made it seem clear, what made it seem right.  And I cannot accept that I want it to happen again.

I do not know how he feels; I haven't asked.

The worst of it has been Divination; Trelawny has moved from death omens to romantic predictions, (a shift which dovetails suspiciously with her engagement to a shopkeeper in Hogsmeade).  Above my head, she saw the green fairy.  Flatly, before the whole class, she instructed me not to be jealous of Ron and, even if I did love Hermione.  How could I disclose the alternate meaning?  The green fairy: the gay boy of Slytherin.  A drink taken with laudanum, hallucinations and missing memory.

Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.

I don't know what I'm doing anymore - what I want, or how to simplify the questions that plague me.  All I can be sure of is that it will not change soon; as horrible as my current craving is, I panic to think of its absence.

These are my thoughts as I watch the smoldering end of Draco's cigarette, post-coital in a dim stone room.  Smoke tongues lazily lick from his lips as though his soul were escaping its confines to conquer the night air.  He looks ghostly enough to justify the metaphor, starkly reflecting the room's dim light; perhaps he really is a wraith.  I don't know whether he minds my staring; it's one of the many things that are never brought up.  It's routine: we fuck, he smokes, I stare, we both put on our clothes and pretend it didn't happen.

This is how it has always been.

It's the most awkward part of our meetings, the buffer between passion and disdain.  Business is finished, but we aren't yet ready to return to the world.  Barriers, though flexible, are resuming; he's never offered a cig, and I've never asked him to stay in bed.  Or whatever doubles for bed that particular time - in this case, it really is one.  Lucky find, though I could do without the tawdry crushed velvet.

Draco sways gently, a weathervane hinged from the hips, dancing with the vapors.  His bracelet has slipped to his forearm - a slim black piece of leather he took up three months ago.  Smoke breathes in and out while he indolently bucks the air -- spine fluid, chin tickling the shadows.  In this fashion, he drains a whole cigarette, then lights another.  In his wand's afterimage, everything looks blue, as though I see through a heavy filter.  It makes the flame more orange, the sheets a deeper fushia.

Taking a long drag, Draco quirks an eyebrow and pads to where I lie, His steps are purposed, but by no means hurried; he knows, as I do, that I will not move until I know his purpose.  He stops next to me, filling my vision with slim white legs.  This is new; he's never done anything like this.  I can't fathom what triggered the change in routine, or what it could mean.  Seconds tick by.

He bends from the waist, face a bare centimeter from mine, and we pause here as well -- a queer sort of tableau, two sculptures that never touch -- and then he exhales, mouth wide and round as a jam jar.  Though I rarely smoke, I open my mouth to catch it, curls flickering into my throat and chest, jaw soft as a melonball.  Why I do this, I cannot say.  It seems autonomic, as though this is the way I have always breathed.  My body is trembling, and my skin is raw.  He smiles and takes another drag, repeating the process.

I can hear my heart battering its sternum, rabbit fast.  Again and again, I swallow his breath, feeding it back to him when I am finished.  We are the only parts of a closed loop; if one were to stop, the essence would be lost.  My head is full of tapwater; my eyes lock on the curve of his shoulder.  This goes on for an infinite span of time, a full life cycle.  When the cigarette has burned down to his fingers, he stubs it against the bedpost, careful to catch every spark.

Without a word of explanation, he tugs on his robes; but there is a new satisfaction in his movements, a smugness, almost.  I daze numbly, heady and drunken.  He starts to leave, but turns back after just one step.  Hand dancing a butterfly wingdrift, he catches my jaw, fingers cradling the hollow of my ear.  Gently, his lips stir the hairs of my forehead.  Before my thoughts find him, he is gone.