A/N: This is AU. Harry is back in his Seventh Year at Hogwarts to fight Voldemort. This is also rather long, if you've noticed, and it's a one-shot. Um, and it's is also M-rated, so don't be surprised to stumble into some…action. And swearing. Because that's what I do :) Sorry!
Draco signed his letter with a scrawl of his name and flung it into a cream-colored envelope. Almost mechanically, his hand reached out for the wax stamp and soon, the envelope was sealed with his family representative crest. He set his quill aside, its tip dripping with ink, and leaned back. This document would push the sway of his inherited power even further within his clique, especially after his Father's imprisonment and mother's sudden decease. He supposed now that Potter had quit the League, the leadership had tumbled entirely onto his head too. It was particularly worrisome now that its position wobbled between the opposing sides in the war – it was neither, in actual fact. And yet Potter had entangled their activities so profoundly into the webs of pro-Order movements, that it could hardly claim neutrality. Of course, no honorable Gryffindor would allow himself to pay respect to some secret Dark League association and perhaps that was why their position on the Order's side was far from permanent.
No Gryffindor, except Potter, because, damn him, he had always been the exception.
The blond closed his eyes and allowed himself a moment of tactlessness. Harry's eyes were what he pictured – directed at him. His perfectly shaped lips curved into a gentle smile and his hair tousled – sprayed across Draco's silken pillows. He would purr with delight as Draco knelt at his abdomen, praising every inch of his body. Then he'd kneel lower and Harry's perfect hands would entangle in his locks, tugging, pleading – just like in the old days, calling his name in musical whimpers…
Draco growled and ripped his eyes open, destroying the tantalizing images. He hated that, even though away, Harry could still make him shiver with want. He hated that the feeling never wore off and he was left unfulfilled when they parted. Their union had been magical, every moment breathtaking – and for that he damned himself. He damned him most of all. He damned the damn world for collapsing the moment Potter had closed the door on him.
"What are you thinking about?"
Draco's head snapped out of his reveries to look at Blaise, who leant against his doorframe. He managed a shrug and dragged his attention back to the piles of documents on his desk.
"What about him?"
Blaise hummed an impassive chuckle. "You were thinking about him."
"It's none of your business," the blond replied smoothly.
"That's why I bother."
The blond laid his head onto the rim of his chair and regarded the boy from an upside down perspective. "Then don't, Blaise."
Instead of complying, the brunet took an elegant step closer. "I'm only good with chicks, Draco, but let me tell you something anyway. The faster you get a grip over yourself, the faster the wound will heal."
Draco laughed in response. "There is no wound."
Blaise raised his brows, but refrained from commenting. His eyes were glinting with pity, and it only served to annoy Draco. He hated pity.
"I don't need your advice," he snapped. "My mother has just died – I'd rather have you crooning over that."
"It's not what you're mourning over."
Draco grunted moodily. "Fuck off, will you?"
That forced Blaise out of the room, who stepped out with one last meaningful stare. The blond pushed two trembling hands into his hair and yanked forcefully. Resorting to creative masochism wasn't an option, of course, but it worked to pull his head out of his wistful meditations. For a minute, anyway.
The members of the League are delighted to invite you to the League Anniversary Celebration, on the 23rd April, 1996. The gathering will be held at Wilton Club, Hogsmeade.
For further information, view the enclosed voucher.
Harry snorted at the crest rune that slithered in curls down the rest of the page, and buried the letter into the folds of his cloak. He made sure to toss the additional envelope into his bag as well, just to avoid rousing Hermione's attention so early in the morning. The girl had an unhealthy appetite for anything secretive, really, one could never be too sure. Unfortunately, he had learnt the hard way.
As he spelled his bag closed absent-mindedly, his thoughts reeled back to Zabini's invitation and all the ridiculous pompousness of it. If he hadn't known how outrageous the League's parties really were, he would have assumed it to be an incitement to some elite social gathering – and not the usual drunken revelry of teenage scalawags. He could only presume their Spring Bash would be something overly exaggerated – with French champagne and Veela Dust stirred into every flute to have you three bloody sheets to the wind before you even finished your first drink. Harry would know, he was there last year. And, if he remembered correctly, he had also woken up in Parkinson's dorm the next morning with a thunderous hangover and a bucket at hand.
Why in Merlin's name did Zabini still sent him invitations, he didn't possess the slightest idea. He knew that those letters couldn't be signed without Malfoy's consent and it was very much unlike Malfoy to disrespect his bureaucratic duties. The blond would rather swallow his tongue than disregard the chance to show off his power in an association so outrageous. And anyway, if Draco was as indifferent to Harry as he claimed, he wouldn't enlist his name on the League's official register without the deadly necessity. But on the other hand, it was too uncharacteristic of Malfoy to show any signs of longing after anyone.
He glanced into the envelope again, at the familiar handwriting. It seemed the wheel rolled ceaselessly. Grand parties every month, feasts overflowing with treasures to flash riches at the entire Wizarding world. Malfoy was still all pompous airs and wayward sinning. Rebelling against all conventional protocols at the expense of a worldly reputation. At the expense of genuine love.
It was even reassuring to learn that some things never changed.
"Read the Quibbler recently, Harry?"
The raven-haired craned his head over his shoulder to see Luna standing with a copy of her father's magazine in hand. Her hair was a tangle of yellow strands, spiraling up something resembling a giant shell. On her lids sat two identical splotches of green eyeshade, making her already watery eyes seem translucent as she stared him down.
He offered her a shrug. "Er – not yet, Luna."
"All the better," she chanted in her wistful voice. Her eyes blinked and it seemed like eternity before they reopened again. "After Daddy's departure, they've completely altered its mood. Not a word of the blasted Hornshaks anymore, imagine."
"I – well, I can imagine," Harry muttered. His eyes searched for Hermione and Ron in the upcoming crowd of students from the marble staircase. Instead, endless swarms of younger years filed into the Entrance Hall, their conversations submerged into a sea of voices. His perusal glided towards Luna's funny hairdo again and a smile tugged at his lips. He cleared his throat. "So why has your father departed?"
"He's been arrested, haven't you heard? There's that awfully tall man in his place now. The one who wrote that disastrous pamphlet on Swabbers in South America, haven't you heard of him, Harry?"
"I – no, Luna, I haven't – but where's your father now?"
"Oh, don't you worry about him, he's off to the West. He'll be alright. But Quibbler's a laughing stock with all that politics now."
Harry regarded her with curious eyes for a moment. He supposed Luna wasn't one of those overly dramatic axels of ancient prose who worried their pretty heads over social problems. Her father was most probably arrested for treason and betrayal of governmental censures, by publishing defiant articles against Voldemort – just like a number of other Order enthusiasts. The chief editor of The Prophet had been substituted just last week for much the same reason, and a pacifist journalist from The Wizard Herald, who published a brochure against Death Eater extremism, had been murdered at his house several days prior. The stories got worse as weeks passed without counteraction; gradually the Ministry became infiltrated with Death Eaters.
Quelling the demons of guilt in his chest, Harry sighed and leaned against the wall opposing Luna. As if on cue, Hermione scuttled down the staircase, a newspaper clasped in her palm. Ron, with his hand pushing through the knots of his auburn hair, followed closely behind, obviously trying to keep up. His face was an expression of indignation, and his glare was directed unswervingly at Hermione's frizzy nape. Rolling his eyes, Harry could only assume they've had one of their legendary rows yet again.
"Hey, Luna. How are you?" And completely discounting Luna's retorting babble, Hermione grabbed his arm. "Harry, we need to talk. Now."
Ron shot Luna an anxious look as he approached, which she mirrored questioningly. Then her eyes rounded and she lifted her chin in realization. Picking up her bag from the stone floor, she waved feebly and rushed away, up the marble stairs.
"I suppose it's pretty confidential, if even Luna couldn't listen," Harry murmured cynically, as the pair in front of him stubbornly refused to meet each other's eyes. If they came with complaints about their splintering friendship, he'd just have to run away screaming. Never mind the fact that he'd look plain ridiculous.
"It's about this," Hermione snapped, as if reading his thoughts.
"What is it?"
Hermione had thrust a letter in front of his nose, its pages littered with curvy script. Harry scanned it quickly and lifted his gaze to meet hers. Ron's brows quirked in question. "Another explosion?"
"Harry, it's – oh, for God's sake, Ron, will you stop breathing down my neck?"
"I'm not – I'm not breathing down your bloody back!"
"I said neck," she mimicked his furious hiss.
Harry sighed heavily, dropping his hands in frustration. "What the hell's going on?"
Hermione's hands flew akimbo. "They've changed the date of our clout, Harry. It's too soon for the DA to prepare."
It was Ron's turn to frown, "What on Earth are you worried about? We've got over twenty people, all in good shape. We've been preparing for a year!"
"You'rein good shape? You can't even do your own homework, Ron! Nor your shoelaces, evidently!"
"It's not my fault you're too bloody smart-"
"So, we're not ready," Harry interrupted brusquely, scowling. "We've never been, Hermione. We've never prepared for what's happened in our lives before. We've been the world's brash adventurers since first year, with no special skill but teamwork."
"Exactly!" Ron exclaimed, holding his hands up in triumph.
"Teamwork won't save us from a patch of Dark Wizards," Hermione reasoned.
Harry ran a hand through his hair. He knew perfectly well how unprepared Dumbledore's Army really was and the knowledge left his stomach squirming with fear. Their level was a petty, absurd parody of a real magical militia, and the power demonstrated by the Death Eaters roused ideas of surrender amongst several of them. In contrast to their cowardice, he could never grant himself the clemency of surrender. The sole option was to fight.
"Well, then we'll teach them Dark Magic," Harry concluded scathingly.
Hermione's brows knitted at her front, and seconds later she was delivering her sanctimonious speech, "You're not really serious, are you? Dark Magic is illegal, not to mention extremely dangerous, Harry."
Not to mention useful and undeniably arousing, Harry mused amusedly.
"Of course I'm not serious," he muttered aloud. "When's the Order's next meeting?"
"The day after tomorrow."
"And the strike?"
Ron scratched his nape in discomfort. "In ten days."
"Well…" Harry heaved out a bitter sigh. His mind was lurching rampantly, but no ideas came to mind. He had only one logical conclusion. "We're fucked."
Seconds ticked by, transforming into minutes. Footsteps echoed from the floors above; voices and whispers were left behind. And yet, there he stood, staring at the door of his past – the door he'd been avoiding like a plague for the last several months. The door, behind which, a hateful rivalry had blossomed into a whirlwind affair. The door behind which he had been happiest. And at the same time, the place that had rendered him orphan of his own heart.
No matter how long he stared at it, the doorknob remained still. Deciding to battle his indecision, Harry finally lifted a hand and knocked. Almost instantly, the door was flung open and Pansy Parkinson, all kohl rimmed eyes and black locks, with a dramatic touch of white powder draining color off her face, stood at the threshold.
Her mouth fell open at the sight. "Potter?"
He shot her a crooked grin. "Hey."
"I – I – hey," stuttering was evidently not her specialty, for all her natural subtlety left without a trace at Harry's appearance. "Do – do you want to come in?"
Harry's gaze flickered to the secret inner sanctum of the League, where lounged several of its members. They turned to stare at the intruder, who was, ironically, their former associate, with unrestrained curiosity. Harry averted his eyes awkwardly, trying to tame the sorrow that had risen up his throat. Pansy followed his track of sight and, understanding, stepped out of the room, leaving it slightly ajar behind her.
"I didn't expect you to come round so late."
Harry frowned. "What do you mean?"
Pansy folded her arms across her chest, her eyes narrowing. "It's about bloody time you came back."
Harry shook his head slowly, "I'm not coming back. I just wanted to give you back the voucher."
"The one for the party. I'm not attending."
She huffed and fixed her arms tighter around herself. Her lips pursed. "You're a fucking prat for leaving."
"We've been over this, Parkinson."
She promptly ignored him. "Just walked out like none of it mattered. Apart from Draco, of course."
"Oh, for Merlin's sake, we've been over this!"
"Then why didn't you come visit once?"
"Because! Because it's not like I mattered to any of it! The parties are still there, the association still alive. Because you're coping just fine by yourselves!"
"Who gives a shit about parties? You know why they're organized, Potter! And as for us – yeah we're fine! Except all radical activity's been frozen because nobody's willing to risk it without your support to back us up, and," her voice dropped to a whisper, "Draco's become a bitchy, cranky arsehole again."
"What's that got to do with me!"
The pale girl's face was a mask of enragement. "You left him."
"He left me."
"No, Harry, you left all of us!"
"What's going on here?"
Both his and Pansy's gazes snapped up, and suddenly Harry's heart tumbled into the pit of his stomach - like a ten-pound sandbag crushing through a paper stage. Draco Malfoy, with his emblematic scowl in place, crossed the doorstep. His blond hair had fallen out of its gelled form, tickling the pinnacles of his lashes. His smoky eyes were still the same, and so was the characteristic pout of his lips, that beckoned with coral softness from a plateau of creamy skin. His face remained composed as he noticed Harry, but a spark of surprise flashed in the depths of his grey eyes.
Harry cleared his throat, his acidic retort dying at the tip of his tongue. Pansy glared at the stone walls, pointedly ignoring his unease. Draco looked like he regretted ever opening the blasted door of doom.
And so did Harry, unfortunately.
"Nothing's going on. Parkinson, I'll see you later." He nodded politely, looking into a pair of all-too familiar eyes. "Malfoy."
With that Harry retreated back into the dungeon corridor. He didn't turn back to see Draco's longing glare, or Pansy's exasperated frown. He headed upstairs, out of the shadows of his past, bluntly ignoring his battering heart. His soul requested a passport to his past, and it wept in his chest, but it was merely a trick – and one he preferred to forego. Such thoughts never led to anything, but frustration. And at times of war, when concentrated action was the essence of success, Harry could waste no time dreaming.
The portrait swung open and Harry was greeted with the warmth of Gryffindor common room. Several lower years lay against the silken carpet, building a cards tower from an explosive snap package, with small clusters of diligent scholars surrounding them – their noses buried in dusty tomes. He spotted Ron and Seamus sitting by the fireplace with a Quidditch catalogue, while Hermione shot them irritated glances from her armchair. Her notepad was blank, and her fingers tapped against its pages restlessly.
He flashed her a smile. "Hey."
"Where've you been?"
"Out," Harry muttered, tucking the League's parcel away from her sight. He had no clue why he didn't insist on Pansy's taking it, and now realized that it was still within his clutch.
"Out where?" Her eyes were fixated at his.
"Just out, Hermione. I needed to think."
"Oh…" she lowered her stare. "Sorry."
Gladly, she had no idea what he needed to 'think' about in reality. She probably suspected he was still mourning about Sirius. It was only appropriate to do so, even one and a half years after his murder, only somehow, he couldn't find the time to think about that. Harry had realized half way through fifth year that if he pretended well enough – things would fade with time. He remembered Cedric's death like a passage from a book, written by someone else. Sirius – it was as though he was still out there, signing letters with a scrawl saying 'Padfoot'. The less he thought about it, the less he had to admit the bitter truth. He never had, and never would, either. He found it easier to shelter himself from pain that way – even when his relationship with Draco fell to pieces, he found a way to ignore the pain. He just refused to acknowledge their break-up. And, as absurd as it sounded, he always found refuge in the only destiny he believed was set for him – to fight Voldemort – and to hell with everything else. After all, it was evident to a fool that Harry Potter was facing a tragic fate.
At least he'll die trying to save lives, and not obsessing over his own.
"Are you alright?"
He was dragged out of his musings by Hermione's concerned voice; he nodded his head. "Of course. Are you?"
Her face scrunched into a grimace, and her eyes flicked towards Ron's armchair. "I guess. Ron's been such a git lately, though. It's like we're not friends at all, anymore."
"Well, I hope you'll figure it out. I told you what I think, and my opinion remains unaltered."
Hermione looked at him with a glint of desperation. "I'm sure he doesn't…fancy me, Harry."
"Well, think twice. With my experience in that department, that's all the advice I can offer," he shrugged. After a moment of silence, and under her thoughtful scrutiny, he began his way to his dorm. Ron and Hermione's daily taunting and pigtail pulling was becoming shoddier by the minute. But, worse yet, both were completely ignorant of their feelings. It was such a tremendous turnoff, that Harry couldn't help but glory in the maturity of his own relationships – even if they had screwed his life into some parody of a Muggle soap opera.
He sighed and fell onto his bed with his clothes on, plastering his body flush against the mattress. Only now did he feel the gravity of the day on his shoulders, and his legs moaned from the fifty thousand stairs he had climbed from the dungeons. There was nothing he could or wanted to do but close his eyes and dream away until dawn cracked his eyes open. Only, there was no time to waste. Not on dreaming. He had an Order meeting to prepare for, and there was no way he was dismissing that duty.
Draco watched as Blaise dropped into an armchair, and, unhurriedly, turned to answer Pansy's question. Just as unhurriedly, he lit his cigarette and drew a deep breath from its tip. "They've got a leak in their system."
"How would you know?"
This time it was Mary-Anne who asked, with her brows creased into a frown. It was not the fact that she distrusted him – no, rather, it was the Slytherin calculating wariness that spoke up within her. At times, it was only this precariousness that saved their association from crumbling into the hands of Death Eaters, or the Order.
"They're planning to strike on the 30th and the Dark Lord knows."
Theodore licked his lips thoughtfully. "What if it's a false lead?"
"If only that, Theo," Blaise continued nonchalantly. "They have the details of their complete arsenal enlisted, as well as their plan of action. It's undeniably neat. And definitely something they wouldn't release into a rumor to lead everyone on."
"Well, well," Draco chuckled quietly. "Seems like Saint Order has a fault after all."
Pansy bit into her nails anxiously, obviously not liking the sinister tone of his remark. "We have to warn Potter."
At that, the entire room glanced towards the blond, who shook his head in response. "Why? We're not part of his war. He left to fight alongside the Order – well, let them fight."
"That's stupid. We're part of everyone's war, whether you want it or not."
"Panse, don't jump into selflessness. He made it clear we're not on the same side of the battlefield when he left."
"He's abandoned the League. We have no obligation of helping him," added Blaise.
"He's still one of us," she persisted, her voice rising in anger. "We share knowledge and power for a lifetime, because we're bonded through the League. His leaving doesn't break the link. In fact, because he's one of our strongest, his magical potential contributes to ours, which makes us stronger as a group. Are you going to deny that?"
"If he could, then why can't we," Draco shrugged elegantly.
"Because he's being tricked and we can help."
Mary-Anne nodded approvingly, and so did Theodore, Constantin and Neil. Bullstrode looked doubtful.
"We can't help someone who doesn't want help."
"He needs it, just as much as everyone needs to win this war - Dark or Light, Slytherin or Gryffindor. We've got one aim!"
"What is this, a motivation speech?" the blond scoffed.
Pansy flung him an angry glare. "If you weren't as cynical, Draco, you would be able help him."
"That will drag us back into the war," Draco remarked darkly.
"It's about time we acted, though, Draco," Blaise murmured quietly. "We can't simply sit around and watch as the war destroys everything that is rightfully ours. Having you and Potter in the League untied our hands, because we finally had enough influence to make a point. Think of how many supporters we have throughout Britain now – Dark wizards and witches, young purebloods, potions masters and writers – people who refuse to join more extremist groups, but who believe in our independence."
Draco huffed disapprovingly. "Then we'll act by ourselves. Without Potter."
"You're just stubborn!" cried Pansy "If we were all together, our movement might have been the most effective in Wizarding Britain!"
Draco faked a laugh in response. "Yeah, blame it on me! I didn't keep him satisfied and now he's gone! We've failed!"
"I didn't say that, I merely said you're not willing to cooperate with him because of personal issues!"
Draco snorted. "Damn right I'm not!"
"Well, it's not a reason to keep ourselves at bay, caught up in the flow – just like those Hogwarts' morons who are scared shitless of standing up to the Dark Lord!" Pansy let her fist fall onto the sofa, exasperated. "We should swallow everything that's unfortunately happened and go on fighting, and winning!"
Draco crossed his arms. "We can win without Potter."
"Damn it, Draco! Just accept the truth! We need to act!"
"You want me to accept the truth? Fine. Potter is a heartless, devious little twat who turned his back on us. Happy?"
Pansy scowled in reply. "You're just mad that he walked out on you, when, it truth, you were the one who ended-"
"That's none of you fucking business!" Draco stood up, enraged. "We may share our strengths, Pansy, but don't forget that private lives are personal! And now if you'll fucking excuse me, I have a gathering to organize, to keep our supporters content – if you want to win so fucking much! Good night!" he barked, and not granting them the chance to answer, walked towards his dorm, slamming the door shut.
He hated the fact that Pansy and Blaise were right. He hated that gut-wrenching stubborn feeling that was eating him up from the inside, making him act so foolishly in front of his friends. It was all because of Potter.
Like always. Always.
"We're not ready," said Harry. The rest of the room fell silent, turning to him curiously.
Shacklebolt cleared his throat as some of the members exchanged frowns, and focused his dark eyes onto the raven-haired. "Harry…the strike is happening. There's no choice."
"There is always a choice."
"We're at war, Harry. Rapidity is vital."
"So is promptness," the raven-haired defied the older man's stare. "The Order can fight, I can fight – but the DA will not."
"There's no sense in cutting down our chances, when we're on the brink of success!" one of the Aurors backed his boss in the argument.
Harry turned to him incredulously, "And there's no sense in risking students' lives when the chances of victory are as miniscule. Do you not see it?"
"Mr. Potter might be right - there is no necessity in attacking if we have no muscle behind the threat," remarked McGonagall.
"The threat will have no muscle when the Ministry deserts us in its entirety," persisted Shacklebolt. "We will attack on the 30th. The date is set, the plan is inflexible. The rest is bureaucracy."
"You plan to bring down Voldemort with a gang of Aurors?" Harry demanded, ignoring their obvious flinches.
"This is the first attack in the series," explained Mr. Weasley, who sat all the way across the conference table. "The following will depend on the nature of this attack, whether its success is enough to prolong the entire plan."
"So instead of preparing ourselves, we're plunging head-in into oblivion? That's sounds like a reasonable plan."
Shacklebolt leant against the table to look Harry in the eye. "If you have a better one, Harry, please inform us."
The raven-haired refrained from mimicking his voice in mockery, as childish as it was, and, instead, turned to the rest of the room. "To prepare the rest of Wizarding communities for war – to get all possible factors on our sides. To get the Minister's approval to use all Ministry resources to stop Voldemort. And most of all, prepare our main battalion for battle."
"That will give Death Eaters too much time to prepare for their own launch. As for the preparation, the Ministry is doing the best at the moment – but it is heavily penetrated by the enemy. The only counter-attack in internal affairs would involve serious Dark magic, and we will not stoop to that level."
"To what level, Mr. Shacklebolt? Dark Magic is an Art some of the Death Eaters have mastered and now they have the upper hand in the situation – I don't think it's so lowly of us to try to win too."
For several heavy moments, silence reigned in the room. Some wizards shuffled in their seats, craning their necks over their neighbors', to stare at the infamous boy. Tonks and Mr. Weasley actually gaped, with eyes rounded in horror. Remus's palm rose to cover his front in quiet disbelief and his head shook slightly.
Seconds ticked by. Rapidly, a hushed, albeit horrified whisper spiraled into a general murmur of disapproval.
"What!" Harry burst, his temper cracking his patience in two. "Are you going to accuse me of irrationality? Ludicrousness?"
"No, but," Kingsley replied with a hint of authority, "there's no such thing as Dark Magic in the Order, Harry. You do not realize, perhaps, what Dark Wizards are capable of doing: they may skin you alive with a spell and bind your nerves together in your own body, and freeze your blood into salt and poison when you're helpless. They kill for the thrill of murder and not for a unified purpose. We are not murderers, because if we kill, we kill for the sake of the Better." He stepped towards his map, with his wand drawn up. By averting his attention, he completely ignored Harry's indignant glare and his proposed arrangement. "We're attacking on the 30th and launching the planned program. As I said, there's no room for reconsideration."
At that he knew he had lost this argument. The pity in Shacklebolt's voice, the gaping mouths of his associates, his unfounded anger in contrast to Shacklebolt's coolness – it only served to lower his opinion within the union, especially when he had declared his outrageous secret to the whole Order. There was no point voicing his thoughts anymore – they would be unappreciated, if not stumped upon. And as much as it pained him, he would probably have to trudge along with Shacklebolt's damned plan.
He refrained from further comment for the rest of the meeting, but walked out with his chin held high. For some reason, that gesture reminded him of Draco – the blond always walked with a superior look, his chin raised and back straight. Elegant and regal. Just like his unique, rare smiles, with eyes twinkling at the corners and pearly teeth bared. His beauty couldn't be mastered even by the most talented artisan, and no skillful artist could ever capture that smile on paper, because those gestures fluttered away, like mischievous butterflies, the moment you looked. But the sight would sit in your memory for the rest of your days, sparkling with splendor.
He tried to smile to himself, but the memories were bitter on his tongue. He decided it best if he ignored it – ignored everything that has happened lately. The last trace of optimism destroyed, he decided to head up to Gryffindor tower and, ignoring Hermione's persistent questions, Harry excused himself and raced up to the boys' dorms. The moment he collapsed onto his bed and his cheek touched the pillow, he was fast asleep.
There was no fight. With a few flicks of their wands and Latin incantations, Kingsley Shacklebolt and Auror Crott were seized, blinded and murdered, in the Ministry Magical Defense Department. Auror Tonks and the Head of the Magical Law Department, Reno Harris, managed to escape without notice.
It was a good day, Draco thought lazily as he swirled an empty crystal flute in his hand. His fellow colleagues were shaping the place into a veritable haven for tonight's party. If he looked to his right, there was the string of shimmering glass tables and neat chairs, aligned in circles. From his loveseat he could already picture the pairs twirling around the dancefloor in the traditional rhythm of wizarding waltz and the political and strategic conversations humming gently at its sides. In the sole adjoining room to his left stood the bar in all its intoxicating magnificence – raging from Fire Whiskey and Champagne to Muggle Martini.
It will be another success.
His self-satisfied smile was interrupted by the opening of the main doors to the club, with the afternoon sunbeams pouring in. He squinted to distinguish the figure against the glare of light and to his surprise, found Potter standing at the entrance. His was wearing a pair of beige trousers and a red polo - which suited him quite deliciously, noted Draco's mind without delay.
And then, too suddenly, he was in front of Draco, calling his name.
"Potter," Draco echoed suspiciously.
Harry looked around once more, confronting the gawks of some of the League's members. "Can we talk?"
Draco lifted a brow. "Depends on what you want."
"Why, you're getting repetitive, Potter. Next thing you know, you'll want to return to the League," Draco mentioned mockingly.
Harry regarded him calculatingly for a moment before talking. "Fine. I want your help."
"How sweet," Draco smiled cannily. "I suspect Pansy has told you everything then."
"Told me what?"
"Oh, hasn't she blurted everything the moment she saw you? How uncharacteristic."
Harry's brows were furrowed. "Blurted out what?"
The blond suddenly realized the Gryffindor really had no idea, and Pansy had indeed kept her mouth shut. Poor, oblivious Harry – tricked and yet so terribly uninformed… Draco's heart gave a guilty lurch in his chest. But, fortunately, it would take more than that to break his skeptical façade.
"Why are you here?"
"I said I need your help."
"You said you wanted help."
Harry's eyes narrowed. "It doesn't matter. Well? Are you going to accept or decline?"
With his index, the blond traced his lips thoughtfully. "And why do you need help?"
"Because I cannot cope by myself with this problem," Harry snapped impatiently, damning Draco's sly prying.
But the blond merely smirked. "The Order kicked our Golden Boy out after all?"
"Fuck that," Harry muttered angrily and spun on his heel. He was half-way towards the exit when Draco's voice beckoned him back.
"The Order's cracked, Potter! That's why you're here!"
Slowly, Draco watched as the raven-haired turned and looked at him with his usual guardedness. He twisted around to face him when he spoke. "What do you mean?"
"It's got a leak. The Dark Lord knows what your crew is up to. Including the 30th of April."
"You… How…? What?"
Draco leaned back into his seat and watched as Harry stared – simply stared. Gradually, a hand came to run through his raven forelocks, but was hung midway in the air, mindless of its trajectory. His expression was the icon of confusion.
Draco feigned a smile. "Surprised?"
"I…how – how do you know? You're not a-"
"A Death Eater?" the blond replied smoothly. "I figured you'd stop thinking that after the first time we fucked."
"What are you – there's – there's got to be some sort of-"
"No joke, Potter. Shacklebolt was murdered last night at the Ministry, along with some feeble imitation of an Auror."
Harry looked torn between believing his words and forgetting he'd ever said it. The only factor that marred his mind was the fact that Draco never joked on such topics as war, or Harry's provenance and past, or anything particularly private and emotional. It was a trait Harry much admired… in the old days.
"It's Blaise isn't it? He told you?"
"That's none of your business – you're not part of our league anymore."
Harry snarled heatedly, "If you're fucking with me-"
"Harry, dear, we haven't fucked for over five months."
"Will you fucking stop this nonsense!"
Draco raised his hands in mock innocence, the same scornful smile adorning his features. "Christ, don't get so worked up! You remind me of your old self after our break-up."
"Why do you keep…!" Harry breathed, but stopped himself before he started to lose his temper again. He closed his eyes. "Stop this."
Draco smirked on the inside, reveling in his power. "Stop what?"
"All your implications. The past is the past – our relationship didn't work out and now-"
"Haha!" He was interrupted by the blonde's sharp laughter. "Didn't work out? You ran away before it could, Potter."
"I did no such thing!" Harry snarled and stepped closer, instinctual anger twisting in his gut. "You told me to leave – or don't you remember anymore?"
"I recall," Draco sneered. He shifted in his loveseat, its comfort deserting its form. "After you began ignoring me and refusing to sleep together, thinking it would put me off."
"Well, it did, didn't it?" Harry snapped in response.
The blonde laughed again. "I'm not fucking Candid, Potter, to think that you lost interest in me. If you thought your stupid scheme to shelter me from pain in the future would work – you should have stayed. And for God's sake, you'd think you'd have some self-preservation sense in that thick head of yours. You're just as likely to survive as any of us."
"What?" the raven-haired blinked confusedly. "What are you talking about?"
Draco gritted his teeth. The conversation was turning one-sided.
"Nothing, apparently. Leave, Potter. There's nothing I can help you with."
Harry looked torn between two conflicting yearns. And decided to voice it after a moment's wavering. "You know, I… never wanted to lose you."
"Well, you did. And not by dying on a battlefield, like you thought you would. But by simply walking out of the door."
Potter's gaze looked desperate as he said, "It's better that way."
"Really?" the blond snarled. "Who told you that? Merlin?"
"We were never good for each other," Harry murmured, with the same, desperate yet doubting glint in his gaze.
Draco recalled all the times they have quarreled – all the glass smashed to shards in fits of blind rage. How many tears spent on futile fights and suspicions. How many arguments, terminated in magical duels. But somehow, the confession that always followed, the softly murmured words of gentleness, the make-up sex - always made up for it, no matter the intensity of their dispute. The memory made his stomach burn with arousal and the blond cursed his wayward mind for wandering into the forbidden sector again.
"Then I'm sorry I ever wasted your time."
Harry opened his mouth to say something – and it seemed so easy to form the three words that hung between them, like a rigid coil. But they choked in his throat, refusing to come out right. The most he could do was to silence his nervous panting.
And then Blaise had to interrupt – being the eloquent person he was. He stepped closer to the pair, faintly aware of their awkward dialogue. He didn't seem affronted by the tension wired between the two, as he shoved his hands into his pockets and stared.
"And I'm sorry too," Harry said, finally, his voice barely a whisper. He nodded to Zabini and slowly walked towards the exit. But before he even crossed the threshold, he found his arm pulled at the elbow.
Blaise led him out of the club and towards the edge of the building. Sensing his yearn for secrecy, Harry wordlessly cast a protective bubble around their circumference.
"What is it?" demanded Harry, after a minute of hesitant silence.
"Harry, I…uh… found something about the Order that you should know. The information is quite reliable – I was representing my ailing father at the last Death Eaters' reunion, after all. I heard him talking." He seemed to be cautiously soft-footing about the topic, but not fearful. Simply uncertain of how to reveal it in the most careful manner. Harry narrowed his eyes instinctively. "The Order will fall if it proceeds with its plan of attack on the 30th."
"Is Voldemort aware of it?"
Blaise glanced around the bubble at the name, a bit anxiously, and rubbed his hands together. "Yes, he knows about the whole procedure, as well as the arsenal you're stocking for the attack."
Harry nodded, thoughts swirling. Draco's voice still rang in his head, announcing Shacklebolt's death. He blinked at the asphalt, rather stupidly.
"Listen, Harry." Blaise looked at him, evenly. "You know we'll help you if you want us to. Don't rely fully on Draco's words, he's willing to help too – it's just that he's been…uh…how to call it-"
Harry's heart sank a little lower. "What? Is he ill?"
Zabini only chuckled. "Maybe that would have been better. As it stands, Harry – well, I'm not the one to tell you that he's a right arsehole when he's hurt."
"I can recall." A smile forced itself on Harry's face, involuntarily. The moment he realized what it was, Harry instantly assumed a serious expression. Forgetting about mirth, he spoke again, "Yes, Blaise, I will need all the help the League can provide. I will appear tonight and we will have to get as many volunteers on this mission."
A visible shiver ran across Blaise's skin. "Freaking hell, Harry. You're finally back."
Harry didn't waste time, pausing only to crack a slight smile. "Get everyone as alert as possible. Target potions masters in particular, and get them on the assignment straight off. We need as many useful potions as our bodies can bear."
"An attack?" Blaise asked, eyes glittering. "How soon?"
If Harry was good at anything, it was reacting. He felt a shiver of his own race down his spine as he thought about the new plan. His plan. "I'm thinking the 3rd of May. We'll catch them off-guard best this way. They will still be awaiting an attack and would be shaken when it wouldn't come. Just as shaken when they find our tactic has changed."
Blaise looked astonished, despite himself. "In ten days."
"Yes, in ten days. It will not be the only attack, or the final one. Far from it," Harry reasoned, thinking fast. "It will be the initial – the storm on their most sensitive spots. But before any of that, I will need you to bring together the Hogwarts members of the League and former students who were part of it as well, for a quick meeting."
"It will be done."
As Blaise nodded and walked out of the bubble – with his shoulders rolled back and head held high, eyes directed forward, towards the invisible task of the mission ahead – Harry felt a deep feeling of affection pour over him. He missed these few people, his former family – people who were ready to help in a moment of hopelessness and to act for the sake of the Light, despite their own, rather unique principles of Darkness. People who looked up to him as to an associate and fellow fighter, and not a God, or, on the other hand, some petty boy with no experience or wisdom.
After all, he had experience, and damn him if he still wasn't prepared to use it.
When Potter descended the bar stand at the very centre of the hall, as though he had descended the throne stand with the crown still poised on the top of his raven mane, Draco could only grab another champagne flute from the passing elf and gulp. He knew he wasn't supposed to touch a drop of alcohol tonight, unless it was transfigured discretely into water, and thus he knew he was acting against the orders given by Potter himself. It distressed him to no end that the raven-haired could still command, as if he had never left the League – and all of them would scamper off to satisfy his orders. But deep down, he knew it was inevitable. Harry was a natural leader; a blind man was able to tell, from the sheer intensity of his magic that whirled and lashed about his aura.
There was something that annoyed Draco even more than the way Potter took for granted the cooperation of the League, or the way he spoke, his voice authoritative and unassailable. It was the fact that while doing so, he looked utterly gorgeous. As though he had never experienced a moment of doubt in his seventeen years of scrabble life – as though he had never broken up with someone he loved. He looked healthy and strong, and had that look of a lion - a true warrior. The fire that shone in his eyes wouldn't fool the most perceptive critic. That occasional curling of his fingers into a fist when he talked of the hurt and assaulted. That growl he assumed when he responded to some of the offending questions he received from the floor below. The way he climbed onto the bar stand in the first place, knowing every pair of eyes in the party would be glued to his form as he announced his message.
The way he played the role of the leader of a victorious coalition, and the way his confidence never seemed to waver. Even when the Order was about to crumble and even as Voldemort threatened to kill them all, for disobedience and disloyalty to his regime.
Did he mention his was also annoyed because Granger and Weasley were present? Well, they were – huddled in a corner, staring, as if afraid of touching anything or anyone even remotely associated with Dark Magic. It was a good thing they were obligated by a Secrecy Bound, or Merlin knows what they could blurt out outside the boundaries of the party.
Draco scowled at them from his place beside the dancefloor. The next moment he had to dodge a pair who had almost waltzed into him in their dance. He scowled again. To hell with democracy – he was too drunk for that anyway. In addition, he had persuaded enough Potion Masters and even several Dark authors to comply with the League's new mission, to satisfy Potter.
Potter, Potter, Potter. Always about Potter. He was sick of it. He was prepared to hex the next wizard that crossed his path to get his mind off his obsession for a second. And if it was Weasley or the Mudblood, or that irritatingly handsome young pureblood Harry was now conversing with on the other side of the dance floor – well, it wouldn't be Draco's fault.
He thought himself almost genius when he walked over to Granger and her dumb-headed boyfriend; mostly because of the Whisky in his hand, but, really, that was hardly the point. When he finally approached them, Granger nearly spat out her drink from surprise, which, of course, had Draco sneering in disgust.
"I see you still haven't learnt the basics of etiquette, Granger," he drawled. The fact that he was astonished at the smoothness of his own speech hopefully didn't show. "Much like your boyfriend. Sweet couple, aren't you two?"
"You?" she inquired, ignoring his remark. Weasley, on the contrary, looked ready to burst from anger. Draco idly wondered which part of his insult infuriated the red-head most – his nickname of a boyfriend, or the lack of manner? Surely not the manners, for he had never been as intelligent as so actually possess any.
"Why, yes, it's me," he smirked. "Perhaps you are delusionary too, Mudblood?"
"Don't fucking hell her that, you snake!" muttered Weasley.
Again, Granger ignored his comment, as she stared. "You would never work for the Light! Harry must be crazy for trusting you."
"Your Harry is crazy alright," Draco retorted. "For bringing you around. Youcould never appreciate the beauty of the Dark Arts."
"Because it is something only your kind does – malicious and dirty." Granger looked relieved that she finally could voice her thoughts about the event. Even smug, he thought with disdain.
"Are you implying Harry is proprietor of such traits, then?"
Wealsey opened his mouth. "Harry would never-"
"Harry is different. He uses the tactics to fight for a good cause. You have an agenda of your own."
The blond snorted. "Harry does keep his secrets from you, I suppose. Misguided, that's what you are, Mudblood."
Draco barely had time to finish his phrase, before Weasley pounced. First, it was a hit to his jaw that rattled Draco's teeth with the sheer force of his fist. Then Draco pushed him away, to smash into a couple of chairs with a clatter and slipped his wand out. Both Granger and the red-head drew theirs, instantly. They stood there – two against one, breathing ragged, watchful, before the object of their conversation interfered. Parkinson was on his heel, frowning. Harry ushered her away, most probably wanting to avoid a fuss.
Granger lowered her wand first and, flinging a disbelieving look at both Draco and Harry, marched away, the hem of her jade robes flying to match her pace. After a moment of dithering, Weasley charged after her – but with an apologetic look on his face, that had Harry slightly reassured of his support. And like that, they were on their own again, surrounded by the soft hum of the party. Harry turned to him.
"What did you tell them?"
"None of your business," Draco drawled, sliding his wand into his front pocket and thus avoiding the searching glint in Harry's green eyes.
For a minute the raven-haired was silent. Draco actually thought that perhaps Harry would back off without a fight this time, but, of course, he was wronged. Harry ogled him as though he had just confessed falling in love with a hippogriff.
"Did you drink?"
His stomach chose the best moment to clench and cause a hick-up. The thought of an alcoholic made the blond stifle a laugh. "So what if I did, Potter? Are you going to punish me?"
Harry flushed faintly and looked away. "I never said I would. I just thought it wasn't the best idea to drink tonight."
"It wasn't a good idea to invite your friends either. They're surely good at scuttling off from parties."
"Aren't they?" Harry echoed wistfully, looking at the doorway they had disappeared through. Draco fought the urge to wipe off that regretful expression from his tan face. He had to mentally slap himself before he mastered to properly voice his thoughts.
"Though through the hardest way, but at least they learned that you cannot be stopped once you set your mind on something. Not even by those who love you."
Harry's expression soured even further. He looked at Draco as though he was the portrait of someone he had killed, and was now gazing at it…as though he couldn't do anything about its death. As though he couldn't return him no matter what he did. Draco recognized the expression – he had seen it too many times on his own face.
"I'm sorry, Draco," his eyes slowly sought out Draco's. With a reserve to match his honesty. "I – didn't…no, I guess I did want to cause you pain back then. But we would have never broken up otherwise."
"Who said I'm talking about our break-up?" the blond asked coldly.
Harry shook his head and huffed a chuckle. "You always did talk riddles."
Draco had to blink to reassure himself that both his ears and eyesight weren't bluntly lying. Harry's tone was laced with a tint of nostalgia, and his gaze was regretful.
"You used to hint with those puzzles too," Harry chuckled. "I never got them…and just as well, probably. Innuendo never was your talent."
Draco sucked in a breath. "You talk of me as though I'm dead."
And then Draco had to blink yet again, but this time, because he would surely be overwhelmed by his sudden realization if he didn't.
"I'm right here, Harry, still pretty much alive. And I'm not dying anytime soon, not if you kill me yourself." He gulped, despite himself, because his voice had broken. "And you already have, by leaving."
Harry shook his head, a little too desperately, Draco thought. "You can die at the hands of Death Eaters-"
"And so? And so?" By some grace and a little scoop of will left from the onslaught of alcohol, Draco refrained from shaking Harry until his brains fell the right way up. "I am still alive now! Just as you are! And you deserve to live while you are, because there's absolutely no one else in this universe who could live it for you! And who in the hell knowsabout what happens tomorrow? No one, Harry, nobody knows. Maybe we'll die, maybe we'll survive."
"There's more of a probability-"
Draco growled aloud, this time. "Fuck probability!"
Now Harry was getting angry as well, a dark scowl coloring his features. "It's alright for you to say so! The entire British Wizarding society doesn't depend on you and your decisions! It doesn't blame you for the deaths of so many people, whom you've never even known!"
"And it makes it easier for me to say so, you're right," Draco reasoned. "But if you surrender to the pleas of every wounded person, and to the insulting claims of all others, you'll become their slave. You'll lose your life – if you haven't already."
Harry shook his head again. "Don't – Draco, don't do this. You were never like this when we-"
"For Merlin's sake," Draco hissed and actually seized Harry's shoulders for a little shake. "Harry, it's not about us – it's about you. You're beautiful, you're strong and you're able to lead so many people to victory – but you have forsaken your life because of a madman."
Harry snarled, as his palms folded into fists. He turned on his heel and headed towards the exit, panting with anger.
Draco followed suit, barely restraining from hurling a hex at Harry's retreating back. His business was not over, not for the moment. So he grabbed his hand and hauled him around, so that they were facing each other. Harry stood proud, perhaps a lock of hair shorter than Draco – or taller, really, it was hard to tell. His breath ghosted in frustrated puffs against Draco's face.
"I don't want you to think that all I've said was aimed to hurt you. I cannot watch you hurt."
Harry stared at him, and for once, he looked like a small animal, cornered with the tip of a sharp stick. "I only feared for your life, and the lives of Ginny and Hermione and Ron-"
"I know. But you don't have to drive them away because of that. They are still with you, and willingly too. Yes, they're in danger, but that's what they chose over anything else."
"I drove you away-"
Harry shook his head, almost hysterically, "Shut up, Draco, you know I did. I wanted to hurt you and – and it hurt me just as bad-"
"Shush, you, idiot," Draco chided gently, his hands caressing the rough spikes of short hair on Harry's nape.
"I love you, Draco, I love you, I love you," Harry whispered, face close to the blonde's and breath even shallower than before, hot and sweet from some consumed drink. His hands were drawing circles on Draco's pale cheeks.
Draco reeled back to stare. Alright, he had hoped for something like this – but it seemed a little too surreal for his liking. Harry looked as though he was grasping at straws, desperately. Draco suddenly felt more sober than the man facing him.
"Don't jump to conclusions," whispered Draco, avoiding looking at Harry's tantalizing lips. "Harry – don't…" he sighed. "Don't rush. Please. Just think over what I've told you tonight."
After a few moments of simple gazing, Draco pried himself out of Harry's soft grasp. He damned himself for feeling guilty for leaving the man there, alone. But he didn't want to seem thoughtless, or worse, desperate. Or so helpless without Harry that he would take anything offered, spoonfed with apologies. He had been hurt. And he still had his pride.
He dearly hoped Harry wouldn't collapse when he left. He still needed the man for himself.
It had been almost three days after the party, and still Draco hadn't approached him with a word. Three days of endless thinking and perhaps mindless longing too, although Harry would never admit to it. He had dreamt of Draco, more than once, and the dreams were mostly a recollection of their relationship, with scattered bits and pieces left to observe. It drove him insane to spend his time thinking about Draco on the eve of war, but he could do nothing about it.
Several times, Harry had found himself stealing covert glances at Draco, and averting his eyes when he was caught. Frankly, he was confused, and Draco was playing at something beyond his comprehension. It was as though their conversation at the party had never occurred and the days of mutual hatred and ignorance had persisted.
One thing for sure was that these past few days, Harry had been truly impressed by the intensity with which Draco fought. He had always been impressed, to be honest, with anything Draco did. There was always a degree of grace that couldn't be feigned by anybody else Harry knew. But lately, with their hurried practices with the League, in between classes, meals and thorough planning with both the League and the Order, both of which were now led by Harry – Draco had showed extraordinary performance. His knowledge of Dark Curses has extended beyond Harry's horizon of acquaintance with the Dark Arts and each time one was uttered under his breath, Harry had to admire the beauty of Draco's magic. It was elegant and yet most painful and altogether quite dark, and very much unlike the forcefulness and raw power of Harry's.
The third night after the party, pressured by the frenzied countdown of days and hours before their strike, the League had gathered on the Quidditch pitch for a meeting. The closer they were to the date of their attack, the more frequent those meetings became. Of course, they always had to be alert and respect the law of constant vigilance, because no one was sure how Voldemort would react to the lack of the assault on the 29th. There was a general prayer that Voldemort would send more spies from his clique of Death Eaters, to gather information and some of their members – scouts of their own – would find exactly who those spies were and feed them with false leads. It seemed like the only available option for the moment, despite the fact that it was based on pure hypotheses.
Harry sighed as he sat on the damp grass of the Quidditch pitch, surrounded by several League members. They were surrounded by a large protective bubble, which made them practically invisible to the eye of an outsider and completely inaudible from the exterior. Blaise sat next to him, twisting his wand between his fingers. On his face played a small, determined smile. Mary-Anne, who sat beside him, assumed a similar pose, but with her wand poised neatly at her waist. Draco sat on the other side of Harry, further away than strictly necessary, and with a slight frown adorning his pale features.
Theodore spoke up his place, his hands clutching a collection of potions. "These are Contributor and Potential strengthening potions. I obtained them from a group of Potion Masters working on the new mission in the very North of Scotland. The effect is quite reliable."
"Have they been tested?" demanded Constantin, eyeing them with evident suspicion.
"Approved by both Snape and myself," drawled Draco, keeping his gaze stubbornly on the other side of the pitch. "They will work, provided they are taken separately and their doses are not exceeded."
Pansy shot everyone a small smile. "Well, there is hardly a point of exceeding the dose. Unless these potions contain alcohol," at this she winked at Draco.
The blond shot her a glare, which disappeared too quickly and was too mild. He had to turn away to conceal a grin.
Harry chuckled and leaned in to grab their attention. "If Draco says there is a limit, do not whatsoever exceed it." Now his voice lowered into a murmur. "We need all the strength it provides. We need to share our magic amongst us. We need to become a unit, a single body of destructive power."
Identical shivers flowed like a wave through the group. Neil, who was seated opposing Harry in their irregular circle, closed his eyes and let their ambition consume him for several moments. Mary-Anne reached for Theodore's and Millicent's hands, linking them together. The rest of the group attached their holds on each other's hands and held, silently.
Gingerly, Harry took hold of Draco's palm and interlinked their fingers. Draco's lashes, dark against his pale façade, fluttered and concealed his eyes. Harry closed his too.
They sat like this for minutes, in the silence of the night, isolated from the rest of the universe by a faint crust of their bubble. Mary-Anne began chanting the ritual song in an ancient Slav language, her voice varying from soft mewls to a clear, ringing melody. Their magic sizzled from hand to hand.
And then Draco did something with his thumb – a mere brush of his skin against Harry's wrist – and the raven-haired felt the hair on his nape stand up. A spark of electricity raced up and then down his spine in a fraction of a second. His heart battered twice as fast, if not faster, threatening to break free from the cage of his ribs.
For the second time, Draco brushed his thumb over the inside of his palm, and Harry felt his silent gasps quicken. His head spun from the intensity of the emotions churning inside of him, like a nest of young, fiery dragons. And then Mary-Anne was finished with the chant and Harry could wait no longer – with the last syllable, he pried his hands away and covered Draco's cheeks with his palms, bringing them closer. He planted his mouth squarely onto Draco's.
There was a moment of mutual shock, but, quickly, it melted into a frenzied battle of tongues and clicking teeth and grasping hands, that neither could quite control. They barely registered the cheerful laughs of their group and their hushed comments and quiet murmurs around them. The rest was white noise, as Harry plunged into Draco mouth to lick his teeth and suck on the sweetness of his tongue. The blond slithered a hand into Harry's black hair and kept his head in place, all the while guiding them down to the grass. As his back hit the ground and his yawned wider to accept Harry's lips, he rolled them over.
Harry's eyes snapped open and he regarded Draco with a breathless fascination. He looked surreal: his face flushed and his eyes shining brighter than the distant lights of the Hogwarts castle. Sly and strong and so beautiful, and he was kissing Harry like there was no other man on this planet. And there was no one other than Draco this moment either, nobody and nothing else as breathtaking to look at, or tantalizing to watch, or suddenly so full of life that his magic flooded them both.
Harry slid his ankle above Draco's and twisted them again, so that he was on top. Slowly, he lowered his lips onto the blonde's and teased them with his tongue. He did not expect the hungry growl or the hands that pushed him away and rolled them over yet again, causing their teeth to clash painfully. And then Draco was on top of him, domineering, ravenous, and pushing his tongue in. They fought for dominance still, arms struggling and hands roaming – until Draco aligned them in perfect unison: chest to chest, groin to groin.
Harry gasped and then moaned into Draco's mouth, as their erections touched. Hastily, he fastened his legs around the blonde's waist and pushed up. Draco met him with a thrust of his own, and pushed him further into the grass, groaning. His half-jerks and thrusts were the most arresting dance he had ever witnessed in his life – not to mention the most pleasant.
They rubbed against each other, impatient and too eager to make it elegant; but it was heavenly, even with the awkward thrusts and little hitches in their breath - some evolving into moans, some into croaky gasps of utter bliss. It built up to a point where Harry lost track of rational thought and the only question on his mind was why he hadn't come yet – for, surely, his human body could take no more of the offered pleasure. As he asked himself, he felt the first shudders of his orgasm overpower him, paralyzing him, curling his toes. He gasped out in abandon, loudly and for the whole world to hear.
"Come, Harry," whispered Draco, praising his neck and ears with burning kisses. "Tell me-"
"Yes, yes, Draco, yes," he gasped it in one breath, digging his nails into Draco's shoulders.
At that the blond marked Harry's neck with his teeth; he trembled in his hold, burying his face in the crook of Harry's shoulder and panting – panting until he came in unison with Harry's husky moans.
They fell limp against the ground, their breathing ragged and too hot against the chill of the night. But it felt better than any haven humanity has ever built, because of the warmth in Draco's eyes and the magic that purred lazily between their bodies. Harry smiled and opened his eyes to look onto the starry sky above. He hadn't felt as sated since his last time with Draco – and that had been months ago. It felt like an eternity.
Draco lifted his head and kissed Harry on the lips, gently. "It's a magical night, in all its aspects."
Harry let his smile widen, too tired to conceal the lazy content that filled him up. He slid his hands tenderly along the firmness of Draco's back.
"Promise to never leave like this again," whispered Draco, his eyes serious, but revealing a glint of vulnerability that Harry never thought he could witness in the eyes of a talented Dark wizard. His blond locks, disheveled from before, tickled the pinnacles of his lashes. He looked unusually out of his aloof, perfectly composed disguise.
Harry had to think before replying; he couldn't lie – even though Draco's beauty was intoxicating and made him want to promise the world. He sighed. "I cannot promise you to never leave – because the war is coming, and, like you've said, who in the world knows what will happen tomorrow? Maybe we'll die-"
Draco's hand enclosed around his and he squeezed, almost painfully. "Don't…say this…"
"And I cannot promise you will want me around forever," Harry whispered, disregarding the huff he received in response. "And the promise of forever seems to ruin things deeper than its absence. But one thing I do promise, Draco, is that I will never find anyone as beautiful and strong, and odd, and inexplicable – and crazy-"
At that Draco laughed, with a sound as clear as the pebbles on the bed of a crystal stream. When Harry looked at him the next instant, the smile had vanished, but his eyes were still shining.
Harry ran his fingers through the silky strands. "I can promise you that it will take more than war, more than magic, and a force stronger than life, to take away the feelings I have for you."
And apparently this was enough, because he was being kissed again, with a mixture of gentleness and passion. And, as Harry lay back onto the grass, feeling its dampness with his nape and the weight of Draco's body with his chest, he knew that nothing would feel as good as this felt.
Perhaps not even winning a war.