It was the muggle streets Harry escaped to, the place where half his brutish, non-magic blood had its origins.

For two days he wandered further from Diagon Alley, further from the hot, magical centre of existence and into the half-life that was the mundane world, the place without colour, without meaning, and without the memory of Lucius Malfoy.

Yet with his senses attuned to enchantment like raw nerves to pain, he saw the remnants in all things. The sideways glance from the man in the corner, covered by newspapers, the fanged hex from the old lady pushing a shopping trolley full of rubbish, the wand that slipped out of a child's pencil-case and rolled at his feet.

Holly-wood, like his own. The quicksilver splash of a few unicorn hairs softened the end. Harry picked it up and the instrument squirmed under his grip, knowing that Harry was not its master.

"Ta mate," said the boy, snatching it off Harry, then dashing across the road, narrowly missing a double-decker coming from the other side.

A terrible numbness filled him. The boy was his own kind, yet had not recognized Harry as such. Then Harry slowly understood why, as he saw the boy emerge again, this time battling with a huge trunk case from the rear of a taxi. Today was the first day of school term, and Harry was going to miss the train.

Yet he felt nothing at all. No regret, no sadness, nothing.

Harry turned away from the scene of the boy and the trunk as if it were rarely a mirage. Let the Express run without him, let the world just crumble and burn without him, let anything happen, for he cared no more than a stone cared if it is in the sun or the shade. He wanted no more then find someplace dark, somewhere to huddle and ossify into bone, to never ever be struck down by this desolation again.

He wondered on his aimless journey, the grey morning fading into a blur, like a film of grease over his awareness, a film threaded the wrong way. In the centre of it was loss, and heartbreak and silver-blond hair the same shade as a unicorn's tail or a knife blade. He had no reason any more, not if all those he loved -- Sirius with his soul -- Lucius with his body -- were taken from him.

His world closed in on him. He stumbled on...not searching anymore, or fleeing, just moving, the way dead things still shake and quiver even with their heads cut from them.

Blinks of encroaching horror insinuated their way into his mind.

Something sharp.

A tin-lid, rusted and serrated like sharks teeth.

A vision. Of pain, and blood.

"Avada..." he whispered. "Avada Kedavra..."

No wand, only this scrap of metal, but enough to wield the oldest magic of all, the taking of life...

Then blessed darkness without dream.

Wake up child. Oh wake up.

He woke, and smelt disinfectant.

"Awake then, honey?"

The blurry, white figure at the end of the bed came to his side and gently slid Harry's glasses back on his face. She stood back and smiled at him. A nurse. She reminded him a little of what Hermoine might look like in five years time, curly-headed and studious, with just the right amount of devilment to make her fun.

"Water," he croaked.

The nurse helped him with a tumbler of dull-tasting water. His hands had no strength. She knew this. She stroked his bandaged wrists and the sticking-plaster on his fingers where he had cut himself trying to hold the blood-slippery circle of tin. Ointment had been applied to the wound on his palm where the portkey had burnt him.

"Something must have caused you some grief for you to do this for yourself."

Harry nodded, weary.

"So then, Mister Male Unknown, would you like to tell me where you're from? We looked in your pocket for I.D. and if you don't mind the necessary intrusion, all we got is your odd coin collection."

Then Harry remembered what had occurred preceding him coming here, and he closed in on himself, turning his head away from the friendly nurse.

"I'm nobody."

"Suit yourself sweetie. But you know, if you're in any sort of trouble it's here that the police look first."

The hospital was of the old public kind, everything painted in faded shades of industrial grey. A muggle hospital. Clearly no-one had noticed his disappearance yet, or if they had, they'd not been able to find him.

He wiggled his fingers gingerly, and felt the answering pain in his wrists. He had failed, and there was still pain, the greater pain inside him...

"And you've walked your feet into stumps. Honey, where were you trying to go?"

Why did she have to be so kind to him? He didn't want kindness. He wanted to be left alone with his agony.

Harry looked into the nurse's warm, brown eyes and saw in them a mother's caring. He couldn't deny her an answer.

"I was in love. He was taken from me."

"Ah," she said, nodding with understanding. "That is the oldest of all sorrows, to lose the one you love. Where is he now?"

"Gone," groaned Harry. He's gone."

"Did he die? I'm so sorry."

Harry blinked. "No, he's gone...home." How could he explain that with Lucius gone from his cell, that Harry was as cut off from him as life was to death?

"Home, then why wander about town so? Why don't you go to him?"

"Go to him?"

"You do know where he lives? I could call him if you want..."

"No, no," said Harry, even though his brain screamed, Oh god, oh god, you know where he lives...

He took the nurse's hand, even though there was no grip in his fingers. "Please, I need to make a phone call."

"And not tell me who you are? The charge nurse won't be very happy with me."


She winked, and left the room. A few seconds later she returned with an old dial-phone, which she plugged in.

"I'll leave you alone for a few minutes, love. You do what you need to do."

"Thank you."

She smiled, her eyes bright and knowing. As she made to leave the ward she paused and said, "You know, when I was five, an owl once came to my brother."

Before Harry could speak, the nurse was gone.

He panted into the telephone. "What's the most magical place in Wiltshire?"

"What?" screamed Mrs Figg down the crackling line. "When all everyone's been doing is looking for you? When they've even turned up on your aunt and uncle's doorstep? What do you want to know that for?"

"I need to know," he said. "If you don't tell me I'm never coming back, and if you tell anyone I asked I'll never forgive you. Where is it?"

"Oh, I'm going to regret this, but Wiltshire's got the most magical places anywhere." She paused, gathering her breath. "Of those there's the place Merlin made."

"What place is that?" he demanded.


Luckily his clothes were still under his bed, folded up and placed into a plastic bag. He dressed quickly. Tucking his sleeves over his bandaged wrists, he left the hospital in the company of a large, raucous family who had come to visit a sick relative. Once out on the street he bolted for the nearest major road.

The rain was falling steadily. Without thinking on how he would pay for his journey, Harry flagged down the first taxi that came his way.

The interior was warm and dry, smelling of air-freshener and stale beer. The driver, an old man with a beard in a net and this bright blue turban on his head, peered at Harry in the back seat.

"Running away lad?"

"What makes you think that?" asked Harry defensively.

"The hospital. People run away from it every day. Of course, you still have your patient tag on your wrist."

Blushing, Harry tore off the tag with its Male Unknown, DOB approximately 18 years. So they had thought him older.

"Where to?"

"Wiltshire. Amesbury, I think."

"That's a bit of a journey. Two hour trip. Are you sure you don't want to take the bus?"

Harry dug in his pocket for the few remaining galleons he had with his lint.

"I, gold."

The driver winked, and took two of the galleons from Harry's palm, and giving him a sickle in change.

Harry stared at the driver's sickle, open-mouthed. A muggle driver had just given him wizarding change.

The driver smiled into the rear mirror and pulled away from the curb. "Understand this. There is not a secret in this whole wide world that is not known to a taxi driver. Amesbury it is."

Harry lay back in the seat, suddenly aware that there was so much more to his life that he did not know.

The taxi driver dropped him off not at town, but at Stonehenge itself, the crooked, incomplete ring of stones in a field, barely a minute's walk from the road. He knew what Harry was, where folk like him really wanted to go.

"The town's just a few miles that way. It'll be dark soon. You'll want to find yourself some shelter before then."

I will," said Harry, climbing out of the cab. He waved the driver on, before following the path to the ancient structure.

The sun was dipping low on the horizon, making the stones loom and cast long shades. A couple of tourists murmured about the cold and left the circle, leaving Harry alone with the massive sarsens. Their power seemed to thrum with a low basso energy, leaving his sinuses aching and his insides queasy.

The surrounding fields were empty. He had been so sure...

When the sun finally disappeared, and the lights came in the distant houses, Harry felt his breath catch. For ever so slowly his magic-senses were peering through the mists of reality that had been thrown up to confound and mislead the muggles who passed through here in such a number. A house was in one of the fields, but a house like he had never seem before, a structure not unlike a abbey, with squat, rough columns and twisted, feral arches, heavy with leering, carved stone faces.

Harry walked in the drizzling mist to the crooked steps that led to the landing, feeling the age of this place through the soles of his shoes, a span of time so incomprehensibly long that just to think of it hurt him.

One of the two stone doors were ajar, as if in welcome - or entrapment.

He stepped into the mansion, the cold breeze from the door whickering against his skin. He shut the door, felt the slight pressure in his ears as the doors closed in on this immense, self contained space. And yet there was still a breeze coming from somewhere. A movement in the impossibly high columns.

The mansion's interiors were built on a huge scale, the sepulchral architecture belying much older and different purposes from that of a house. The tall stones set in a ring around the immense foyer were of the same blue-grey mineral as the Stonehenge sarsen stones, inlayed with slices of a foreign green obsidian at such an exact, seamless join that no non-magic technology of present or past could have cut so fine.

The gloomy light caught and dispersed along the columns, and in the dark high places things moves and breathed, their eyes no more than sparks and glints like stars in a foreboding sky.

Throughout the mansion was the stink, of dark magic, of the heady soporific miasma creeping from gaps in the floor, a formless thing with hackles and fangs and claws, rubbing against Harry lasciviously, smearing his clothes with reek and damp.

What do you want?

"Lucius," he whispered, the sound lost to the immeasurable darkness. The stones were listening, those thirsty monoliths that had once been washed in sacrificial blood. Lucius said the echo in return. There was a scrabble of claws against stone, like the sound of bottle caps clinking against glass. Did house elves have claws? Did they really communicate in such high squeaks, like rodents, verminous and filthy?

Then came the earthier sounds of stone grinding against stone, ancient mechanica moving within the impenetrable walls, ancient iron cogs turning gravity-driven chains, sending counterweights falling into bottomless wells, displacing cold air from underground strata that had never seen sunlight except at the very beginning of time.

His awareness skittered over the machinery in the walls and the dark magic rising from the floor and the strange servants like a stone might skip over the flat surface of a pond before being swallowed into its depths.

A fear gripped him, fear that had a flavour, a shape, a discernable weight and pressure beyond Azkaban's amorphous despair. Just by standing here Harry knew that Lucius Malfoy's sophistication, his effete nobility, his arrogance were all just smoke and mirrors, misdirection from a darker core.

This house was proof of the ancestral evil that had so attracted Voldemort, this abyssal stone almost-castle. How could an orphan half-blood like Tom Riddle not have been drawn to this place, how could he not have been maddened by envy coursing through his veins as twenty years ago he had stood here, in the dark, amongst these blood hungry stones?

"How dare you defile my home."

Harry's breath expelled from him in a cloud of steam. The temperature had plummeted several degrees in seconds, the stones responding to the master of the house.

He could not turn around. Wanted to turn. But was immobilized...from fear, from the threat of pain...and because the magic of this place had seeped into him, the same scent that Lucius Malfoy exuded always, from his sweat and his skin and his breath.

Harry's desperate arousal was evident. But there were no guards here, no ropes, no chains, nothing but his helpless, wandless self.

But Harry had chosen this. To face him. Else he could not face living.

"I said, how dare you come here and defile my home? Is it enough that I was subjugated before you that you should take this disgrace here?"

"I can't..." Harry gasped to the dark and listening, awful stones. "I can't bear..." His voce was like gravel and glass, gargled with wormwood and ichor.

I can't bear your hatred when I need you so.

How could anyone bear the pain that he bore? Harry coughed out what he had to say, else the words would fester in his body and wound him.

"I can't bear to be without you. I had to come here."

Malfoy did not speak, and when he did, the reply dripped with venom.

"You think your fancies concern me? There are so many more prisoners for you to spill your perversions into."

Malfoy's hatred seemed to strike Harry and flay him open. The house felt his pain, and the magic smell deepened with anticipation. How often in the long, brutal history of this place had the killing blow been wielded by the most beloved of the victim? How often had the blood spill been preceded by a cry of betrayal?

Harry forced himself to turn, and his breath caught in his throat and if the very air was full of barbs and razors. Malfoy might have been intimidating in Azkaban, but this was his home, his element. His silver-blond hair echoed the colour of the mica particles glinting in the stone, the pale skin was the rippled quartz inclusions in the granite columns, his eyes were the blue-grey of the sarsens.

Harry's heart fisted against his ribs, as if an animal was in his chest, biting and clawing against the muscle and bone hurting him.

"It was foolish of you to come here."

"I don't care any more." Harry held out his wrists and his knife-burnt palm as if they were evidence of his agony, of how far he had fallen, of how much further he was prepared to go. He undid the bandages, let them fall. The cuts inflicted during from his desperate attempt to escape his pain had been so frenzied and violent, his inner arms were blue-black from bruise. The stitches were like black insects crowding on the tracks of the wounds.

Malfoy's eyes slitted as he peered at Harry's sliced arms. "No magic has touched those. The wounds will scar."

"I don't care. Perhaps I should have written your name into my arms, because if you cut me open now the name would be written on every part of me."

Malfoy began to move -- not towards him, but around him, as if ascribing a circle about Harry's wretched body, an invisible barrier beyond which he was unable to pass.

"You are aware of what I told you I would do if you came to me, did I not?"

Harry swallowed and nodded. His erection was forcing up against the waistband of his trousers. A lingering discomfort made him all the more conscious of his prick, the organ still chafed and sore from previous, arduous moments of self-pleasure. In the last week Harry had needed to approach mutilation to tear the climax from his body, because of late nothing less than absolute torture could break through his anguish.

When his speech came from him it was as if his body was being torn from the inside to force the words out. "Can't you see what you've done to me Lucius? Can't you see what my life is without you? Can't you see I'd rather be dead then not have you, always?"

Malfoy strode forward, covering the distance in a few strides, and before Harry knew what was happening he swung a backhand against Harry, sending him sprawling. His glasses fell from his face, and the chime of breaking glass sounded throughout the awful silence.

Before Harry could hunt for his glasses, Malfoy had seized him by his shoulders and dragged him upright. With a physical strength one rarely saw in the wizarding kind he was thrown upon an altar stone, a block of dolomite as big as the Weasley's kitchen table. Harry struggled to sit up, but another powerful slap had him swooning against the rough surface.

Malfoy dragged Harry up by the lapels of his jacket and snarled in his ear, "You raped me there, you humiliated me, you took away what pride I had left in myself and still you come to me sniveling for affection?"

Dazed, Harry could only murmur in protest when Malfoy hit him again, a stinging slap to the side of his face that shocked him awake.

Harry grappled for Malfoy's hand and began to suckle both Malfoy's first and second finger the way he would have his cock, if he could. Malfoy grabbed Harry's wrist and ran his tongue over the knotted stitches, tasting Harry's emotional enslavement to him. The hatred on Malfoy's face was replaced with confusion, that emotion that always threatened to surface during their forced lovemaking. Harry knew what Malfoy could taste in Harry's wounds. The desolation of love, the sacrament to agony in that desecrated skin, the unbearable quickening towards death rather than existence within this caged longing.

All these feelings were transubstiated by magic into a potent sensation, harsh and uncontrollable.

Harry submitted to Malfoy yanking his jacket and t-shirt over his head, before leaning forward to trace with his tongue the old scar on Harry's skin left behind by his teeth, to place a new one on the other nipple, cement his ownership in the way only the darkest magic demands, tasting Harry's blood, letting it run over his trembling, sweating body into the thirsty stone.

Harry writhed and wept. With his hurting, injured hands he clawed and Malfoy's arms, Malfoy's face, Malfoy's shoulders, wanting to hold on, possess and never let go. He tore open the black silk shirt and dug his fingers into the muscular span of Malfoy's chest, bringing the fingers back to his mouth and sucking the heady salt of Malfoy's sweat from them.

Malfoy grabbed Harry's shoes and pulled them off, before unbuckling the belt of Harry's trousers and tugging them off his legs in one stroke. Harry's stiffened prick fell against his stomach, swollen and sticky with sweat, pre-come and the unguent he had used in obtaining his last climax. Malfoy grabbed Harry's ankles and dragged him down the altar-stone, making sure that Harry's buttocks were grazed against the sharp quartz nodules. When his rear was hanging over the end Malfoy pulled his organ from his strides, dark purple and huge before impaling Harry in one vicious movement that both of them sounded in pain, Malfoy's groan lost to Harry's scream.

Malfoy punished him, throwing his weight into each thrust, making Harry's back grind and rasp against the stone, tearing his unprepared ring, bruising Harry's thighs with clenching, brutal fingers and yet Harry's erection did not falter, and his gasps of pain were altering in their timbre, deepening into long, harsh moans.

"Lucius," he gasped, "Lucius, Lucius."

Malfoy's sudden roar of climax frightened Harry, not so much as the way the seed seemed to steam and burn its way inside him, soaking into his membranes, his organs and his blood, but the way his own peak burst from him along with his scream. Harry writhed and contorted, impaled upon Malfoy's prick as the orgasm tore through his body, racing from nerve to cell to brain and making the whole world explode in white with edges of crimson.

As the colours subsided with his sobs, Malfoy's tongue and lips were on his chest again, nuzzling through the pearlescent spill, the bite on his nipple stinging from the salt. The kiss was unexpected, furious and violent, his come and his blood mingling with the taste of Malfoy's mouth, that mouth that had taunted him, that had filled him with jealousy and rage and lust. Harry suckled and bit and ravished that angry mouth, excited beyond measure at his own taste on Malfoy's lips and tongue. Already he was growing hard again.

Malfoy's pupils were huge and dark with yearning, with only a rim of silver showing, his breath steaming through him with such tidal force that he was unable to talk, his mind clearly fired-over with madness and indignant arousal.

"You are a disease boy...your face haunts me, your skin burns me when I touch it, even now the touch of a lover is spoilt by this foul craving you've caused in me. You've ruined me and I hate you for it and I would kill you if it did not mean my losing the change of fucking you again...and again..."

Harry realized that that it was not his voice speaking those words, it was Malfoy's voice. He submitted with gasps of relief when he was pulled upright and the head of Malfoy's prick slid between his teeth -- magic-cleaned but he would have taken it anyway, regardless of muck or mutilation. Malfoy's hands were tight in his hair, holding him, controlling the movement, but he had no need. Harry tongued and swallowed Malfoy's penis with desperate abandon, clasping his lover's buttocks tight to him. The stitches on his wrist-wounds pulled and jagged, they streamed burgundy blood down Malfoy's hips and thighs.

The power of the stones flowed through Malfoy and the older man gave a shout -- animalistic and bestial -- and the hot semen filled Harry's mouth with musk and salt and darkness.

Malfoy dragged Harry away from his still-swollen maleness by his hair, stood him upright for long enough to meet Harry's eyes, to possess Harry's swollen, come-damp lips with his own, penetrate that mouth that tasted of spunk and blood and saliva with a course, violent tongue, before he struck the boy across the face again, sending him sprawling face first on the stone. Harry groaned as fingers penetrated him, jagged his ring wide, wide enough for a probing tongue to caress and titillate his entry.

Harry ground his aching prick into the rough stone, moaning, letting the sounds of his pain and arousal escape him. Malfoy turned him over with such violence Harry felt his shoulders graze and bleed, yet his prick strained upwards, wanting...needing...

When Malfoy's mouth enclosed him, Harry let out as shriek of triumph and surrender. No pleasure, no pain, no feeling in the world was equal to this molten orifice that surrounded his chafed prick. He screamed Lucius' name again and again, and when he climaxed one last time he knew with all his being what it was to be on the precipice of death and not fall. His fingers scraped the stone until blood-bruises welled up from underneath his nails.

"More," he gasped, "More Lucius, kill me, kill me..." His last syllables rose to a scream as the last shudders of his orgasm tore him apart. His arse was a void of emptiness wanting only to be filled.

The older man stepped back, his prick not yet limp, but his cruel Malfoy mind exerting control.

"Oh, but you would infect me with that longing of yours," Malfoy said. "You would convince me that no other man shared such an obsession with my flesh as you."

Harry sat up, trembling, not yet sated. "None do."

"But you would be wrong," Malfoy continued, "For there was one who loved me with such fierceness it was as if the world would be torn asunder were I to deny him."

Who else, but a creature of such malignant darkness that even Lucius Malfoy felt he had met his match?

"Voldemort," said Harry, and from his mouth the word lost all power, sounding only like an accusation.

"You shall not speak his name," hissed Malfoy. "He was more than you."

"He was not. It was only your blood and your power he wanted, when I want your very flesh, and soul."

"You will take care in what you ask for boy," grated Malfoy, his thick, veined organ becoming erect again. I will give you your death and your pain, and oh yes, you will have my flesh too."

Harry stared at Malfoy's erection with such covetousness, his breath wheezing and his tongue moistening his mouth, the magic as thick as mucus about him.

His whisper was almost imperceptible, but the whole house, from the high eves and catwalks, to the measureless depths of the wells resounded in his word. Please.

To his surprise and despair he saw Malfoy button himself up behind his strides, and in one fluid motion throw Harry's clothes at him.

"I have just received visitors. To the fireplace upstairs. I'm sure they would not want to see you in your condition."

"I'm not getting dressed," said Harry firmly. "I'm staying here."

Malfoy bared his teeth and strode towards Harry, and Harry readied himself for another blow, prepared to endure any physical pain if only he did not have to be separated from his lover.

Instead, Malfoy grabbed Harry's jaw and held hard, his fingers digging into his flesh. "You will get dressed boy, and you will be in a fit condition to be seen when they come down."

With that Malfoy kissed Harry, hard, biting Harry's tongue and lips with cruel passion, suggesting brutality far and beyond what he'd been shown tonight.

Harry moaned, tried to hold Malfoy to him with his weak hands. Malfoy thrust him away. "You do not want what I have to give you. Get dressed."

Kingsley, Tonks and Charlie glances at each other nervously. To be here was to be in the dragon's lair itself.

Kingsley was old enough to remember how much time Voldemort had spent in the Malfoy house, in the days before his grab for power. The coiling, destructive forces of Valdemort's dark magic still existed in this mansion. He could smell it, feel it, and fear it, all at once. The younger Tom Riddle had been drawn to this place like water to its lowest level, and it was whispered in dark circles that the dark wizard had developed an attachment to the much younger Lucius that was more perversion than passion.

Was it any wonder that Harry, heir apparent to Voldemort's power, should be as infatuated as his forebear to this pale creature?

Perhaps, thought Kingsley as he looked around at the distorted, evil crafts that filled the study -- the icons and reliquaries to old gods, the thumbscrews, the devices of inquisition and torture, the phials and apothecarial instruments, the dried heads and the evidence of foreign fetish-magic -- they had been wrong to try and tear Harry away from this man. The attraction was too great. If Harry was to go, he would need to go willingly or keep coming back like a migratory creature, a being enslaved by his own internal rhythms.

Malfoy arrived a few minutes after their arrival to the study, long enough to keep them waiting uneasily, but short enough time for them not to be curious and start looking through all the books in the library alcove.

The master of the house entered the room as silent as the breeze sighing throughout the passages. Only Charlie caught the scent of Harry on Malfoy's skin.

"Where is he?" Charlie demanded. "I swear Malfoy, if I find you've done anything to him."

Malfoy did not deign to reply, and this concerned Kingsley all the more. "This way." Malfoy said. "The boy has not left the foyer."

On traversing the wide stone stairway and seeing the boy sitting on one of the sarsens, Kingsley let out a sigh of relief. He was prepared for anything -- even the boy's corpse spread out cold and lifeless on the floor.

"Harry?" he said, mustering as much tenderness as he could into his normally authoritarian voice. "It's good to find you again, lad."

Harry looked at Kingsley with a hurt, abject stare, and the tall wizard recoiled. All of a sudden he realized how premature he had been in thinking Harry safe. Harry was damaged, utterly damaged, from the skin and all the way in, from the ragged, bleeding scars at his wrists, the swollen jaw and the magenta bites at his neck, to the crust of blood, saliva and semen across his cheek.

And yet the flash of hatred was not towards the perpetrator of this obvious rape but towards Kingsley and Tonks and Charlie. For coming here. For interrupting a ritual that clearly had only one denouement.

Charlie ran towards Harry and took the boy's limp hands, caressed the blank face and wrapped a protective arm over Harry's slouching shoulder.

"You MONSTER," He shouted at the pale figure that stood at the top of the stairwell. "What have you done to him?"

Charlie reached for his wand. Both Kingsley and Tonks shouted out at once - "No!"

The elder Weasley brother clenched his hands and stood still, although from the rage on his face a person would be hard pressed if it was his own will or another's that stayed his hand. "Monster," he hissed under his breath. "Monster, oh Merlin, I will kill him for what he's done."

"Harry," urged Tonks. "What happened? You can tell us. You're safe -- nothing can happen to you."

Harry turned his head from her, but not before a stranger glared back at her through those green eyes, an adult whose opinions and convictions would not be altered.

"Potter says that he is ready to go back to school, and that is where you are going to take him," said Malfoy from the top of the stairway.

Only now did Harry startle out of his torpor.

"No," he said, standing up, not quite flinching but certainly avoiding Charlie's fretful touch. "I'm not going to school. I'm staying here."

"Harry," moaned Charlie. "He's enchanted you, put some kind of spell on you. You don't know what you're saying."

Kingsley laid a hand on Charlie's arm to silence the dragon handler. "Lucius is right Harry. You need to go back to school."

Harry's eyes were bright with alarm. If he was sent back to Hogwarts he could not leave, he would be trapped for a whole year...

"No, Lucius, tell them," groaned Harry, making a dash for the stairs. Kingsley caught the young wizard's gashed wrist and held on, feeling the bones move under the blood slippery skin.

"Kingsley let me go...Lucius." Harry's pleas were frantic. He pulled against Kingsley's grip without heed to the wounds tearing against the stitches and opening up again. "Let me go to him!"

"Tonks, the blasted portkey!" cried Kingsley, for despite his injuries, Harry's exertions were powerful with grief. Tonks withdrew Charlie's knife from her boot and ran to the struggling pair, collecting a dazed Charlie on the way.

"Oh Merlin," she gasped, "anywhere but here! Hogsmeade!"

The hooks grabbed them and pulled.

The last thing Harry saw, as he was surrounded by a whirling darkness was Malfoy's face contorted with an unreadable emotion, his shoulders stooped as if taking up an insurmountable weight, before burying his head into his two hands.

It was at that moment Harry knew with a certainty as solemn as a prayer that he had not lost Malfoy at all. Not at all. Lucius had done just as he said he was, been infected by Harry, was scarred and haunted by him.

Maybe even in love with him.

Whatever the outcome, their painful, remarkable relationship had only just begun.