Disclaimer: Plot belongs to me, characters and names belong to the marvellous JK Rowling... etc etc...
Author's notes: I can't believe this is finally done: a whole year (or is it more?) since I first published 'Winning' on this site, the sequel is here!
Apologies for the delay, firstly – studying for a degree is eating into my time, as are my attempts at writing a first novel.
I was asked by several of the reviewers of my first Drarry fic, 'Winning' (endless thanks for those kind words!) to write a sequel – I left the ending inconclusive quite intentionally, but hadn't really thought about continuing the plot. Nevertheless, the idea of developing this story was too tempting to resist!
However, this meant some serious thought: after the events of 'Winning', did I want Harry and Draco's relationship to reach new heights? Of course. Did I want them to go down the route of 'enemies to lovers', as many other fics have? Not particularly – even though I do enjoy reading a good bit of fluff ^-^. I always wanted my fics to be able to slot comfortably into JK's narrative: no long-term romantic commitments or suchlike – much as that deeply upsets me... (Ginny and Astoria who?)
As a result, this sequel does explore some of the issues/conflicts raised in 'Winning', and of course, steps up the passion between these two confused young wizards. But there are many things still left unresolved: things that I have deliberately left up for interpretation. Will there be more? Perhaps, if the inspiration takes me.
For now, I'm quite happy to leave the story where it ends: 'A Subtle Shift' in the relationship between Draco and Harry, in which neither of them is particularly 'Winning' anymore...Enjoy! And please feel free to review/comment/critique.
Draco Malfoy detested most forms of physical violence. In spite of this, he was beginning to think that he wouldn't really object to punching Harry Potter in the face. Hard. Several times. If he ignored his usual principles, the mental images were rather incredibly pleasing.
These thoughts had begun to materialise once Potter's voice, habits and general presence had become so unbearably irritating that the Slytherin felt a simple hex would no longer be sufficient. No – it would be nowhere near enough to give him the satisfaction, the retribution, which he was craving. Not that he hadn't been sorely tempted to punch Harry before, mind you; it's just that, recently, it was becoming harder and harder to be respectable about the whole business.
You see, Draco was used to commanding a certain amount of respect from others. He had an esteemed reputation; one that he was willing to uphold at any cost. And when others started to undermine that reputation, well, it pissed him off a great deal. Especially in this case, where the particular 'other' concerned was his arch enemy.
It was beginning to look like he couldn't rely on his trademark icy glare or malicious sneer to shut Potter up any more; not even Crabbe and Goyle's most intimidating knuckle-cracking was having the desired effect. The Boy Who Lived had simply grown complacent. The only explanation was that he was stupid enough to think that it mattered one tiny iota to Draco that they had reached third base together just a few days ago, and that, as a result, Draco hated him one iota less. Wrong: on both accounts. The dynamics of good and evil – nay, the entire foundations of his most basic philosophy – were not about to change because of some meaningless fumble in an empty classroom; the Slytherin was assured about that.
Unfortunately, this confident assurance did little to prevent Draco from landing himself in detention.
Consternation, shock, repulsion and disappointment were just a brief assortment of the emotions that the two boys felt on sitting down at one of the rounded tables in the Divination classroom earlier that day. Entirely by catastrophe, they had found themselves sitting directly opposite each other. Draco blamed Crabbe and Goyle for insisting on sitting as far away from Trelawney's desk as they could, and Harry simply mourned the fact that his, Ron's and Hermione's usual seats had been the victims of a rather nasty incident involving 'Puking Pastilles'. The two opposing trios cast quite an amusing spectacle – on one side: the pale, elegant, and rather pointed Draco Malfoy, flanked by his thick-bodied – and even thicker-headed – companions, and on the other: the dark, uncombed, and rather lop-sided Harry Potter, flanked by his closest friends and fellow misfits. Crabbe and Goyle glowered through narrowed eyes, bunching their muscled shoulders and clenching their fists. Ron and Hermione, whilst visibly rankled by the sudden invasion of privacy by their worst enemies, made their best combined effort to appear as impervious as possible, rolling their eyes and shrugging their shoulders in a respectable display of nonchalance.
But in the midst of this, no one seemed to notice a rather peculiar exchange start to unfold.
Potter, upon setting eyes on Draco, looked him square in the face and gave him the most sickening, condescending grin possible. This alone was enough to make the hairs on the back of Draco's neck bristle, and he practically snarled in the face of such obvious impudence. His violent urges were beginning to take a hold once more, and he had to concentrate very hard on controlling his breathing just to stop himself from lunging at Potter that very moment. Every single inch of the Gryffindor irritated him to the point of distraction: from the way his glasses sat crooked on the bridge of his nose, to the way his hair had been inexpertly parted, leaving an unnecessary tuft sticking up at the back. Even the contours of the muscles in his upper arms, and the protruding curve of his lower lip; Draco felt every nerve ending in his body tremble – with fury.
"Potter, you look an absolute disgrace." He observed in a passive tone.
"That's ok with me." Came the equally monotone reply. Potter rested his chin on one hand, turning his head to Granger in an attempt to continue their previous conversation.
"I mean it. You don't even look fit to sleep in Weaselby's pig pen."
The redhead boy grunted in annoyance, but Potter laid a hand on his arm, and leant a little way across the desk, raising his chin ever-so-slightly. Draco didn't like the fiendish glint in his green eyes.
"Oh don't worry Draco; I've no doubt that you mean it." There was a weighty pause, before the Gryffindor spoke again. "...After all, why would you pretend to insult me?"
Draco felt a lump rise in his throat. He gritted his teeth, feeling his jaw grind with the effort of biting back his malice. 'Don't you dare...' His expression threatened. But it was inevitable that Potter would continue to flaunt his new-found advantage over his adversary; his apparent lack of discomfort awarded him the upper hand. The Gryffindor smiled dangerously,
"Clearly, you wouldn't be saying all these obnoxious things if you actually felt the opposite way."
The Slytherin's gaze was so piercing, so penetrating, that he thought he might be able to burn a hole right through Potter's head. As it was, the Boy Who Lived simply continued,
"Otherwise, people may start to think that you like me. Which is completely untrue, isn't it, Draco?"
From an outsider perspective, this exchange would seem no different from any of the other petty squabbles that these two had on a regular basis. Besides their subtle body language, neither of the two young wizards showed any sign of the intensity of their present conversation. They simply stared at each other wordlessly for what seemed an infinite period of time, the tiniest hint of enjoyment and challenge in Potter's eyes, and the tiniest hint of mortification and hatred in Draco's. When Professor Trelawney finally arrived, no one would have even noticed that Draco had silently mouthed to Potter, 'One more word, and you're dead.'
"Mr Malfoy, would you care to give a reading?"
Unsurprisingly, Draco had not been paying the slightest bit of attention. In fact, were it not for the fact that his mind was whirring at an unnatural pace, he could have been mistaken in thinking that he had fallen asleep at his desk. Grimacing awkwardly in an attempt to straighten out his stiff muscles, the Slytherin aimed his cold glare towards the Divination professor, hoping that she would at least have the decency to remind him what he was supposed to me giving a reading of. Tea leaves? Hedgehog spines? Her latest novel?
"The crystal ball, Mr Malfoy..."
Draco slumped noticeably, his eyes darting to the small globe in the centre of the table. 'Oh, bollocks.' How he hated this blasted lesson. Staring at the crystal ball for several seconds, he frowned contemptuously, folding his arms across his chest and thrusting his chin into the air.
"I'm afraid that won't be possible, Professor. You see: my father has expressly forbidden me from making psychic predictions of any kind. Apparently, it can stunt your mental development. And I would hate to have to hold you responsible for a lapse in my abilities. Need I remind you that my father is on the Board of Gov-?"
"-I'll do it, Professor."
Draco frowned incredulously at the unexpected interruption, his brow furrowing. But when he realised it was Potter who had spoken, the expression of disbelief became that of blind loathing. 'What now?'
Trelawney quirked an eyebrow, clearly as perplexed as everyone else in the room as to why Harry of all people was volunteering in a lesson he frequently showed contempt for. She swapped her usual pair of spectacles for some rose-tinted ones, as if this would help her methods of logic, and swayed over to their table.
"Well – well, alright, Mr Potter, go ahead." She interlaced her fingertips, owl-like eyes scanning the six students at the table before she seemed to hit upon an idea. The briefest of smiles crossed her misty expression as she added, "Perhaps you would care to give us Mr Malfoy's reading, as he is unable to do it himself?"
Draco's stomach plummeted. "Oh – no - really, Professor, I think it would be better if I-"
"-Nonsense, Mr Malfoy, I will not hear of it. I would hate to be the cause of a lapse in your abilities." Draco was aghast with speechless fury. Smiling cheerfully, Trelawney ignored his obvious aggravation, and gave a small sweep of her hand, "Boys, assume the correct position, if you please. Mr Potter, go ahead."
All Draco could do was watch, stricken, as he and Potter both placed their hands over the top of the crystal ball. The Gryffindor stared at Draco through hooded eyelids, muttered an incantation under his breath, and slowly let his eyes slip to the visions before him as he became illuminated in a dull, green glow.
Imagine the worst possible thing that could ever happen to you. Multiply it by a thousand. Then imagine that moment played back to you, in slow motion, with your entire social circle there to witness it.
Perhaps Draco's ultimate nightmare was not unfolding in slow motion, but to be honest, he would have preferred his total humiliation to have occurred just a little bit faster, please. And really, of all the people he would have chosen to look into his future, it would certainly not have been Harry bloody Potter. What good was years of plotting, honing, studying and practising if his enemy was to see his triumph before he did? And if he were to witness such a success, would he not try to prevent it before it occurred? '...Damn that moral centre of his.'
Of course, no one would be able to tell if what Potter was seeing in the crystal ball was the truth or not. No one would even know if he had seen anything at all. And that's what terrified Draco most of all: just how good were Potter's improvisation skills? Would he take the moral high ground, be 'The Better Man' as he so often boasted himself to be – or would he, just this once, use such an opportunity to his benefit, and reveal the secret that would bring Draco's life crashing down around him? Fraternising with the enemy was certainly an offence punishable by family estrangement.
More to the point...Shagging the enemy was an offence punishable by estrangement of a certain body part which was much dearer to Draco than his family.
Matters weren't being helped much by the fact that, throughout the unfurling of Draco's future in the crystal ball, Potter's expression was one of excruciating pain and torment. It really was most unsettling. Was Draco's future life to be so ethically abject? Of course, it could all have been acting. But Draco had never had Potter down as that good an actor. At least, he hoped not.
After several agonising moments of peering with disgust into the crystal ball, Harry lowered his hands from its surface - leading Draco to follow suit - and peered at the faces around him almost warily. Everyone, that is, except the Slytherin himself. Rather refreshingly, he seemed unable to meet the Draco's eye. Granger and Weasley stared at him expectantly, as did the rest of the class, apart from Crabbe and Goyle, who were shouldering up to Draco in some form of moral support. He supposed that they would dispute any of Potter's claims with their fists, should the need arise. Not if he got there first.
Trelawney used the collar of her turtleneck sweater to wipe her glasses, and then gave a long, flowery sigh which caused the whole class to jolt most uncomfortably from their intense staring. She clapped her hands together in obvious excitement and bid Harry to share what he had seen.
"Now, bear in mind, Mr Potter, you only need share those visions which were the clearest. And please try to be, ah, economical in what you reveal to us. Mr Malfoy's future is his own and we are not here to pry."
Draco snorted loudly at this, to which Trelawney looked a little perturbed and Harry fixed him with what seemed to be a very calculating look. The blond boy leaned back a little in his chair, his gaze locked onto Potter's, his every fibre seeming to communicate the impending doom that would face the Gryffindor should he try to disgrace him in any way. Potter glanced at Trelawney briefly – Draco could sense his hesitancy – before clearing his throat and trying very hard to look Draco fully in the eye in the knowledge of whatever information he was about to reveal. 'Go on Potter, lie. I would expect nothing less.'
"Well – I – I saw a lot of... darkness, in Mal- in Draco's future."
Draco narrowed his eyes and shot the Gryffindor a razor-sharp grin. 'Good start. Very creative.' He began to feel a little less apprehensive. Clearly, Potter was bluffing. He hadn't seen a damn thing in that crystal ball. And he hadn't the guts to say anything remotely spiteful. For once, the reliability of Gryffindors had come good for Draco.
"I see," Trelawney droned, surveying Draco over the tops of her pink spectacles, "and, tell me Mr Potter, as far as you can say, were there any specific images which conveyed this darkness to you?"
At this, Harry paused, running a hand through his chaotic hairdo before pursing his lips, as if trying to remember. Draco raised his eyebrows, 'This should be good...'
"I saw... hooded figures. And- and a large house – it seemed to be completely covered by shadow. And there was – something – seated at a huge throne." Draco was surprised to see that the Gryffindor actually shuddered. "...Its eyes were blood red."
Murmurs arose all around, and all eyes seemed to be on Draco. Rather than be disconcerted, however, he was in his element. It was all so dramatic. And instead of coming off worse for his predictions, Draco couldn't have hoped for a better result. If that was Potter trying to damage his reputation, he was doing an appalling job. Whilst the entire room waited for his reaction, Draco kept his expression very stony. Then, slowly, very slowly, he began to laugh. Though it wasn't a loud, indulgent sort of laugh, but more of a subdued, sardonic noise that was barely audible and yet echoed pointedly around the circular room. Revelling in the shocked looks that confronted him, he leant very close to Potter's face, his expression suddenly very serpent-like:
"A good effort, Potter. Well tried. But really, I'd have hoped you might have come up with some new material. It was all very Chamber-of-Secrets-era, Heir-of-Slytherin sort of stuff." Potter looked confused. But that confusion was quickly to become another emotion altogether, "I think perhaps you should have asked Mudblood Granger to do it for you. At least she would have been able to ad-lib better..."
Crabbe and Goyle, along with rest of the Slytherin consortium, erupted appreciatively at his completely undisguised insult. Trelawney was too taken aback to intervene, and would have been unable to anyway, as Potter fixed Draco with a look of sheer repulsion and spoke, in a clear voice,
"Now you mention it, Draco, I did see something else..."
The Slytherin was too buoyant with pride to notice the warning in the Gryffindor's voice. He leant even closer, his eyes narrowed dangerously, and sneered,
"Oh, do go on, Potter! Let's hear some more of your amazing skills of prediction!"
"I saw something that happened to you very recently, that is soon to have repercussions in your future."
"...And what might that be? Something to do with those 'hooded figures', no doubt!"
"Well, it was a little too blurry to tell for certain. But really Draco, I had no idea that empty classrooms had so many uses."
The Slytherins were still laughing and murmuring in amusement, but the Gryffindors in the room were also smirking with intrigue. And Draco felt an ice-cold fist turning his stomach into knots as he suddenly realised that he had pushed Potter into doing the one thing he had feared most of all.
"I'm sure they do. But what it's got to do with my future, I don't know." He gave his best display of indifference, but he knew for certain that Potter would pick up on the hidden desperation in his eyes, "I think you've proven your ineptitude in Divination well enough now, Potter." He added, his enthusiasm quickly diminishing.
The dark-haired boy stood, slowly, rolling the crystal ball between the palms of each hand with a dexterity that caught Draco's attention. The worst was coming.
"Aren't you curious to know?" Potter asked, unable to mask his enjoyment of Draco's anguish.
Even as the Slytherin shook his head, quickly, and quite emphatically, he knew there was nothing he could have done to change Potter's mind. Gryffindors began to murmur increasing interest, whilst Slytherins also began to substitute their humour for curiosity. A captive audience. How could the fame-hungry Boy Wonder resist?
However, Draco had the sudden presentiment that if Potter even tried to speak the words that would ruin his reputation forever, the Gryffindor would not live long enough to take his next breath.
Potter slowly raised one eyebrow, and continued to speak, in a slightly-altered tone:
"Then again, perhaps it would be best not to reveal such a secret – otherwise, everyone will be using vacant classrooms to seduce–"
Dark red sparks flashed behind his eyes, and in a blind rage, Draco knocked over the desk with a forceful sweep of his arm and threw his full weight at his enemy. The crystal ball plummeted from Potter's hands with a high-pitched shattering of glass. Draco felt a rough grip on his left wrist as Weasley prevented the punch that he had aimed at the bridge of Potter's nose. And with a shriek, Trelawney flew behind her desk, rose-coloured spectacles skidding across the polished floor.
"Please, boys! No fisticuffs!" Was the last anyone heard of her (she was found, still cowering in the recess below her desk, some three hours later).
In the face of a physical attack, Potter rose to the challenge. He squared up to the taller boy, pressing his chest against his. His lucid green eyes were determinedly focused on Draco's, and whilst the Slytherin found himself temporarily unable to move, his arms pinned behind him by the meddlesome Weaselby, he watched with unrestrained malice as the Gryffindor's mouth curled into a satisfied smile.
"Don't pretend you're not enjoying this..." Potter whispered, his lips pouted almost seductively.
A burst of adrenaline saw Draco break free from Weasley's grip with a force that sent the stockier boy hurtling backwards. Before Potter could take a step back, Draco's wand was pointed between his eyes. Draco was too infuriated to be aware that Potter's own wand was also pointed between his ribs.
"I'll never enjoy anything as much as the chance to watch you die." Draco hissed back, the words barely audible, and as Potter's face contorted with anger and shock, he pushed his enemy away, the space between them just enough to fire a suitably potent hex.
The entire classroom of heads turned in the direction of an irate Professor McGonagall. Her own wand was poised at the space in-between the two duelling boys, and her expression was one that struck a note of apprehension in the mind of every student, such as they rarely experienced.
Subsequently, the two enemies found themselves receiving one of the longest, most convoluted lectures on punishment they had ever received. McGonagall, though not completely surprised, berated them both for such a lack of concern over the safety of others (the importance of their own safety, at this moment, was less crucial). Banishing them both to one of the Herbology greenhouses for the foreseeable remainder of the day, she gave strict instructions to the both of them to limit the use of their wands solely to the purpose of watering plants. If either of them tried to re-enact the events of Divination that afternoon, any punishment they would consequently receive would be considerably worse than the injuries they could sustain from a duel (the name 'Filch' was mentioned, after which both boys silently conceded their fate).
Situated as far away from each other as was physically possible in the long, narrow greenhouse, the two boys were set to work.
A lengthy silence passed, filled only with the occasional rattling of plant pots and the gentle, rhythmic patter of water on leaves. As they made their way along the rows and rows of plants, both boys were suitably engaged enough in their tasks for their minds to be distracted from thoughts of each other, even when they passed opposite each other – thoughts which, on both sides, were largely focused on different forms of violence.
Draco couldn't remember having ever been so pissed off in his life.
Besides the complete and utter humiliation of having been given the role of gardener – let's face it, a job only fit for House Elves – he was also struggling with the level of self-restraint needed to stop himself from completely obliterating Harry Potter. The Gryffindor had come closer than anyone ever had to completely humiliating him, and he couldn't quite think straight whilst the memory of it swam vividly across his mind.
His movements were erratic, petulant. He showered each plant in water to the point of drowning; enjoying the small screams the Mandrakes made as he slowly submerged them. He knocked several smaller plants over, crushed trailing vines and snapped off leaves, in a display that said quite a lot about his level of maturity – after all, he was taking out his anger on plants. Better than taking it out on Harry, but still...
With a mighty clatter, and a muffled cry of disgust, the silence was suddenly (and rudely) broken. Draco had been so absorbed in his own sullen behaviour that he had knocked against one of the many wooden shelves lining the greenhouse. As a result, a rather large plant pot had toppled over, covering the unsuspecting Slytherin in a coating of thick soil.
"Ugh! Ah! Get! Off! Me!" Draco exclaimed, flailing his hands wildly in an attempt to knock the dirt from his clothing and hair.
A small bundle of roots trailed down in front of his eyes, and a leaf had found its way behind his ear. He made a low sort of whimper and thrust out his lower lip, a deep frown creasing the space between his eyebrows. 'Well, isn't this just wonderful. Forced to spend detention alone with Potter, for something that wasn't even my fault – and I look like some fucking Troll!' He fumed silently, examining the dirt under his fingernails with great revulsion.
It was only several moments later that Draco suddenly winced, muttering the word 'Shit' over and over again under his breath. From the row of plants opposite him, he could hear the faintest of sounds, echoing off against the glass panels. Laughter. Potter was laughing at him. Draco had forgotten: not only was he confined with his enemy, but that enemy was close enough to witness the entire plant pot fiasco. 'Oh, I bet he's getting a real kick out of this... Filthy Half-blood...Worthless...Orphaned...Muggle-loving...'
He turned reluctantly, shoulders bunched as if to prepare himself for physical attack. As it was, Potter would have been incapable of attacking him, even if he had wanted to. The Gryffindor had one hand clasped to his face, stifling his laughter, and the other tightly gripping the worktop behind him to help him keep his balance. The sight of Draco's leaf-strewn hair as he turned to face him seemed to be the final straw; his knees buckled slightly, and he seemed barely able to stand.
Draco gritted his jaw firmly, determined not to rise to the bait. He tensed the muscles in his limbs as forcefully as he could, and turned away, his mind decisively blank. Once he had his back to Potter, he barked over his shoulder, trying his utmost to keep his voice steady,
"Shut your bloody mouth, Potter. That is not helpful."
More rapidly than he could have hoped, the laughter stopped. Draco was surprised to find himself smiling superciliously. 'Finally – he has realised I am to be feared. Perhaps he'll think twice before crossing me–'
But he didn't finish his thought. For just as he was congratulating himself, he was jolted forward by an ice-cold jet of water. The shock numbed him completely; his eyes were wide, his mouth gaping. Several seconds passed before he could actually force the words, "What the fuuuck?!" from between his chattering teeth. Staggering around as much as he could with the water pushing against him, he turned on the spot, to see that Potter, standing only a few metres away, had turned his wand on him, and was in the process of soaking him to the bone with water that was meant to be solely for the plants. A succession of indiscernible (but most definitely enraged) noises erupted from the blond boy, until Potter muttered under his breath and the stream of water stopped.
It was only in the stillness that followed that Draco realised Potter had washed all the dirt off of him.
He stared at his sopping wet shirt in disbelief for several minutes, before peeling the clinging fabric from his pale skin, his fingers trembling uncontrollably.
Still stupefied, but capable of movement, he looked up slowly, eyes narrowed. His confusion spanned many levels of thought.
Potter had long since returned to his work, but even from his perspective, Draco could see the broad grin that had spread across his face. It made Draco's freezing skin burn up quickly, as his blood surged anew.
The next thing Potter would have been aware of was an acute silence, followed by the quietest of murmurs, and then a sudden submersion in ice-cold water.
Draco had levitated a large metal watering can, and had then proceeded to cause it to empty entirely over Potter's head.
The thrill of revenge came sweet.
But not that sweet.
Potter turned, very slowly, showing no awareness of the piercing cold that had shot through Draco during his own soaking. In fact, Draco was infuriated to see that he was still smiling. And he continued to smile, as, in one slow, fluid motion, he peeled his wet shirt from his body, tossing it aside to squelch into a heap on the floor.
Draco's eyes raked across the Gryffindor's bare chest, fully visible from just a metre or so away and less blurred by sweat than the first time he had seen it. Like being doused in a jet of icy water all over again, the memory of their last 'meeting' shot through Draco's mind, causing him to jolt uncomfortably. Short, sharp bursts of breath. Swift, hot spasms of pleasure. The livid red welts on Potter's shoulders and back where Draco had scratched again and again...
"What the hellare you doing?" He asked, his voice forcibly deadened. He curled his upper lip in disgust, crossing his arms over his own chest as if he were preserving his own modesty at the sight of the semi-naked Potter.
The Gryffindor frowned slightly – nevertheless, Draco couldn't help but think that, when he spoke, he stillsounded pretty amused:
"What – regretting soaking me now? Did you expectme to be keen on the idea of getting pneumonia?"
"It would certainly help."
Potter scoffed, wrapping his arms around himself and chafing his skin in an effort to keep warm. His green eyes flashed for a split-second, before he gave a small chuckle and spoke, with an ironic smile,
"Well – there you have it, Draco: the closest thing to a conversation we've had...since you threatened to kill me."
The Slytherin grimaced, his frosty-grey eyes becoming dull and heavy at the thought of Potter's torture – and the regret he felt at not having gone through with it. 'Damn McGonagall...'
"Hmm." he responded, not looking Potter in the eye in case the boy's expression reignited his fury, "Riveting as it was, I'm quite sure I preferred it when you weren'ttalking. It would certainly make it easier for me not to kill you." He searched Potter's face for signs of fear, and on finding none, added, "I'll be going back to drowning the plants now."
"Fine by me." The other boy responded, removing his glasses and wiping them on his trouser leg before turning back to his own row of plants.
"You're doing that all wrong."
Draco was watching Potter watering some long, thick vines, which they had studied in Herbology some time ago. They had small openings in their leaves, which served as a form of mouth to swallow any water (or insects) that were given to them. Potter hadn't remembered this. He was splashing water all over the vines, oblivious to their green 'mouths' snapping expectantly all around him. Draco sighed in annoyance, having watched him fail miserably for several minutes before his arrogant nature meant that he could no longer hold his silence.
"I thought you didn't want to talk to me." Potter replied, without turning around. He did, however, stop drowning the poor vines.
"I don't..." Draco snapped back, before adding, after a short pause, "...I think my actual words were that I didn't want you to talk. I can still inform you about how severely misguided your knowledge of Herbology is without you having to say a word."
Potter shrugged – in that same way that continued to infuriate Draco – and shot the Slytherin a disdainful look before going back to his watering.
"Hm – maybe I missed the part of the conversation where I got to make any decisions." He muttered, loud enough for Draco to hear.
The blond boy bit off his reply, satisfied enough with watching Potter's every mistake and informing him of it with a haughtiness in tone that couldn't easily be matched. Once he had reprimanded Potter over the snapping vines, there were many more criticisms to come:
"You can't just shoot water at that thing, Potter. You have to feed it a drop at a time – unless you want it to grow to the size of the North Tower..."
"Wrong, all wrong. If you don't peel open the flower heads, that orchid will burn to cinders. Honestly, Potter, I didn't think that massacre was your style..."
"Don't you remember anything from the Second Year? You can't just water that cactus whenever you feel like it: only when its spines are yellow... remember?..."
"I hadn't realised you wanted to earn another detention, Potter. Sprout will go ballistic if you drown those Singing Roses..."
"I've never seen such a pathetic excuse for a –"
"– Merlin's beard, Draco!"
After almost half an hour of constant lecturing, the Gryffindor finally snapped. Draco was surprised it hadn't happened sooner. Potter slammed his wand down onto the wooden worktop, and wheeled round to face his adversary. The look on his face was of complete and utter annoyance. Draco was thoroughly proud of himself.
"You have to stop this, now." Potter continued, his voice levelling. His posture, however, remained rigid and defensive.
"I didn't know you were such a sore loser, Potter. You can't be a Wonder Boy at everything: I was only giving you a nudge in the right direction." Draco replied, thoroughly enjoying the conflict he had been waiting for.
"You know what I mean." Harry snapped back, his face flushing slightly – from rage, or something else entirely, Draco couldn't be sure. "...I can understand your frustration. I could even understand the bloodthirstiness. But you've been dragging this on for too long now. I tried to warn you in Divination, but..."
"Warn me?" Draco interrupted, his expression changing now, "Is that what you were doing? I thought you were trying to ruin me in front of our entire class..."
Harry sighed and shook his head, and Draco felt his ribs tightening around his lungs. He should have sensed the subtle shift in Potter's tone of voice, but now, before he had even had chance to see it coming, the atmosphere between them was about to change. Potter averted his gaze, and spoke in the softest, soberest voice that Draco had ever heard from him.
"I don't want it, Draco. I never wanted it...never wanted you." He began, the words scratching in his throat slightly. His eyes flitted back to meet Draco's, and the steeliness of his glare prevented Draco from missing a single word, "You have to start leaving me alone. Otherwise I will have no choice... but to tell everyone what you did. You had every right to want to hit back at me today, but I could think of no other way to get through to you."
His words stunned the Slytherin. It was the last thing he had expected, the last thing he wanted to hear. He couldn't bear the way Harry was speaking to him like an equal. Like he had the measure of him. Like nothing Draco could ever say would affect him anymore.
"You think I wanted it?" He hissed, the words so repulsive to him that they left a churning stone in his stomach, "You think it hasn't made me sick every day...since...to see you sitting in the same room as me, with that stupid fucking grin on your face? Don't tell me you weren't enjoying every second of my misery. And today – of course I had every right to want to knock the life out of you. You pretended to look into my soul, and tried to reveal, to anyone who cared to listen, the most mortifying thing that has ever happened to me." His hands curled into fists by his sides, and his eyes narrowed until his pupils were razor-sharp, "And now you preach to me... as if it is all my fault? As if I deserve to have my name sullied – but you are blame-free?"
"Well, someone has to take responsibility for what happened." Harry eventually replied, incapable once again of meeting Draco's eye.
Now that the words they had longed to say were hanging between them like dagger-points, the boys seemed to have completely forgotten where they were, what they were supposed to be doing, or even what time of day it was. The gap between them had closed significantly, and they continued to speak well above a whisper, as if the plants surrounding them were a rapt audience. Draco's confidence flourished in the new, barbed silence, and he found himself capable of saying things that he normally would have been repulsed to contemplate.
"Well, let's see: what did actually happen that day, Potter?" He asked, the familiar sneer tainting his words.
"You followed me into an empty classroom, pinned me to the wall, and..." Harry had started confidently, but seemed incapable of finishing the sentence.
Draco scoffed loudly, his metallic eyes glinting, "And what? I didn't catch the last part. I think you meant to say that you were the one taunting me, insulting me, desperate for me to follow you so that you could have your first taste of another boy's mouth..."
"You're always taunting me!" Potter exclaimed, "You delight in making my life Hell! If anything, I was giving you as good as you give to me, and...I don't know, you thought I was trying to seduce you or something – maybe a long, gritty argument is your idea of foreplay..." Draco's lips formed a vicious snarl, "...Don't forget, Malfoy, I saw what had happened to you in Snape's classroom that day – and you hadn't even tasted the Love Potion..."
"Neither had you!" Draco growled back, the brief memory of his erection causing him to respond erratically, "But it didn't stop you from sticking your tongue down my throat!"
"Maybe I felt as if I had no choice," Potter replied, his tone lacking conviction, "You were so insistent – Merlin knows what you might have done to me if I hadn't–"
"–Oh, come off it Potter! You're trying to say that I would have tried to murder you if you hadn't given me a hand job?"
Draco's last words rang in the still air for several seconds. It was the first time the act had been spoken aloud, and both boys coloured crimson at the mention of it. For both of them to have shared such intimacy, they hardly seemed to know how to behave towards each other once that vivid memory had come surging back to life.
Draco sighed deeply, pushing his damp fringe from his face. The cold water had frozen into his stiff clothes, and he felt numb at most of his extremities. He risked a quick glance-over of Potter, and saw that he was shivering slightly, the skin of his abdominal muscles peppered with tiny goosebumps. Odd to think that, for one insane moment of his life, he had found that wretched excuse for a wizard sexually attractive. He couldn't even remember having decided on such a thing – in actual fact, his penis had decided it for him. Now, he could barely think of anything worse than interlocking his body with Potter's in another carnal embrace.
The air in the greenhouse was too close now, too stifling. Any further speech or movement would mean drawing Potter's attention, and all Draco wished for was a means to become invisible, to slink away and forget any of this had happened. At least Potter had come clean about the reason for his despicable behaviour – and if Draco left him alone, as he had asked, maybe neither of them would ever have to remember that sorry incident again. His steely, grey eyes darted to Potter's face, and he could see that the Gryffindor was giving him an awkward half-smile – submitting to their silent truce, yet unsure of his next move. 'Maybe we'll both just stay like this... They'll find us, centuries from now, set into stone: the plaque will read 'Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter: Superior Pureblood Genius and Exceptionally Scruffy-looking Arsehole, too bloody pitiful to recover from post-sex guilt...'
"You look cold."
Draco's inner ramblings were disrupted by the sound of Harry's voice.
"And whose fault might that be?" He replied, in a deadpan voice, glancing down at his semi-transparent shirt. "Good grief, Potter – it's a wonder you haven't surpassed Granger with those keen powers of deduction."
Harry just raised his eyebrows with a small smile, conceding the point. Draco added, "...But I'm not the one standing around with half-undressed, am I? What on earth possessed you?"
"I'm not sure... maybe the same thing that possessed you to tip a pot of soil over yourself?"
Draco gave his best 'Oh, very funny' sneer, and began to rub his hands up and down his arms to circulate some warmth. "Much as I find your observations extremely helpful, Potter, I'd like to know what your point is."
"I don't know... I guess... I brought a cloak with me." The Gryffindor replied, shuffling one foot in the most infuriating manner.
"How wonderful for you." Draco replied, rolling his eyes. "...Well – are you going to get it, or stand around waiting for it to grow limbs and walk to you?" He urged, placing his hands on his hips and cocking his head to one side.
Harry tutted under his breath, and sauntered off down the row of greenery until he was once more at his side of the building. Draco's shoulders heaved a sigh of relief, and he rested against the edge of the worktop behind him, grateful that the rest of the evening would be passed in peace.
As it was, Potter soon returned, black woollen cloak draped around his shoulders, his eyes downcast and his footfalls heavy. He sidled up beside Draco again, ignoring the obvious contempt in the Slytherin's expression, and stood silently for several, long moments.
After a pause of what seemed an eternity – by which Draco tried his best to close his eyes, and keep them closed, until he could be sure that his lengthy silence had given Potter the message to get lost – he heard a soft rustling. Before he could open his eyelids even a fraction, he felt the rasping of wool round his neck, and a warmth that caused the nerve endings in his arms to tingle. His eyes snapped open suddenly, and he found himself enclosed in the folds of half of Potter's cloak, the Gryffindor himself wrapped in the other half, only a few inches away, his arms draped over Draco's shoulders. Harry's expression on being seen was similar to that of a rabbit caught in a snare. His face was close enough for Draco to see every detail; the sand-coloured complexion of his skin, the soft, warm tone of his lips and cheekbones, the tiny red crease his glasses left on the bridge of his nose, the vibrant green glare of his irises, surrounding those deep, black pupils.
Before Draco could swallow his distress long enough to speak, Potter interrupted his thoughts:
"I meant that you should borrow it - your eyes were closed, I thought you were sleeping..."
Draco found that any words of anger or protest on his tongue refused to leave his lips; his mind was completely overpowered by sensation. The warmth of the wool around his shoulders, and the cool press of Harry's stomach against his. The hot tickle of Harry's breath against his right cheek. And the rigid curves that Draco knew were Harry's hip bones, shifting subtly into place just below his own. Draco tried to swallow, but there was a tight knot in his throat.
"You want me to leave you alone, Potter." He rasped, the hoarse words only just audible in the tiny void between them, "But what about you – will you ever leave me alone?"
Only one thing could have happened from there, as the Gryffindor and the Slytherin stood bound together, their slow, laboured breaths forming a hot mist between them. Both of them wanted it, as much as they tried to convince themselves otherwise; both of them knew that if they submitted to it, there was no going back. But most of all, they both knew that, whilst they were enemies, both sworn to thwart each other at every turn, both determined to win the battle between them at any cost, they would never be able to leave one another alone.
The territory seemed so familiar that, for a split-second, neither of them realised that their lips had crashed together. Draco explored Harry's mouth with his tongue as if he were reading a map to an old rendezvous, each ridge and hollow igniting old memories. The warm slick of Harry's tongue against his was a sensation re-evoked, past the point of being shocking for the fact that the both of them had already established a suitable rhythm. The groans churning at the backs of their throats were as recognizable as old songs, and so the passion of their kiss was more about stirring old sensations than exploring new ones.
After the heady wave of heat and adrenaline had subsided, Draco's initially passive observations became active. If he had committed himself to this, he wanted it to be better than the first time. He wanted Harry's groans to be deeper, their kisses to be harder. He wanted a rapture that he had never felt before, the sense of longing for their final destination to be greater than he had ever felt with any previous lover. As their bodies writhed against each other, the tightness of their remaining clothing too much to bear, he also decided that he wanted the friction between them to be more painful.
Yes, most of all, he wanted the pain. He was angry, above all other emotions.
Potter had tricked him, lured him into submitting to something he would have been quite happy never to have to contemplate again – and Draco wanted him to suffer for allowing him to give in to his lust. He enjoyed the taste of Potter's blood as he bit down, hard, on the other boy's lip, and the strangled cry which was somewhere between shock and amazement. He enjoyed bruising Potter's arms as he gripped them too tight, enjoyed the red chafing around Potter's mouth where his kisses had pressed like iron. He enjoyed the frantic jerking of Potter's erection against his own through the stretched fabric of their trousers. And he enjoyed the pleading in Potter's eyes as his fly eased open with a satisfying slide of metal.
When his cool hand closed around Harry's hot, hardened flesh, he breathed in the Gryffindor's sigh of ecstasy like an elixir. The tip of Harry's cock was already damp, sticky, and Draco wondered how sweet his enemy would taste. A few swift jerks of his hand and Potter was already breathless, his knees jutting hard into Draco's for fear that they might buckle underneath him completely. Draco watched him through heavily-lidded eyes, his breathing matching the Gryffindor's in pace and raggedness. He dragged his tongue up the rough underside of Harry's jaw, tasting his sweat, and bit down on the soft flesh beneath his ear, jamming his own erection up against Harry's inner thigh.
When it seemed that Potter could take no more without ruining his fun, Draco eased his grip, slipped the cloak from both their shoulders, and switched his position so that Harry was pinned to the wooden tabletop in one swift movement, whilst Draco moved behind him, arcing his body just-so, allowing the curve of his stomach to fit perfectly around the grooves of Harry's spine.
He wasn't sure how this would work; whether Potter was too inexperienced to welcome Draco inside him, whether the sensation of entering him would drive Draco over the edge. As it was, he eased off his own trousers with a deep growl of suppressed longing, wrapped one arm around Potter's stomach, and used the other to gently but forcefully prise his thighs open, fingertips just brushing against his balls. Potter's legs tensed, his cock jerked in anticipation and his knuckles grew white as his grip on the worktop intensified.
Draco had to screw his eyes tight shut, take several slow, deliberate breaths to steady himself, and sink his teeth into Harry's shoulder for concentration, as he positioned himself at the right spot and firmly plunged his entire, throbbing length inside his most hated adversary.
The cry of pained anguish that bubbled up in Potter's throat was muffled a great deal by Draco's hand; he clasped it firmly to the boy's mouth with his first thrust. A blinding, searing sensation shot through the core of Draco's being, and a ragged moan ripped itself from his throat, sending a deep tremor through his hip bones. He rested his brow bone against the back of Potter's neck, his hair damp with perspiration, and waited for his body to accustom to its union with another. It was difficult to ignore the way that Potter's tongue darted out to taste the stickiness on his fingers.
It seemed Potter had been quite aware of what would happen, and had quickly relaxed into the position; the tightness of his muscles was not completely unbearable to Draco during those first, tentative thrusts. And after a while, their movements became less erratic and unruly, as they sank into a steady, yet purposeful rhythm. The sliding of flesh against flesh was barely audible over the roaring in Draco's ears, but each thrust drew a loud, collective groan from their raw throats that was impossible to ignore. With each tensing of Potter's body, Draco's muscles answered in kind.
Once he had wrapped a hand around Potter's weeping cock and began to slide forcefully up and down, it became difficult for either of them to maintain any sort of presence of mind.
Time passed in a humid, whirling, blood-red blur, and the crescendo of orgasm swept over the two boys more quickly than they could have anticipated. Draco almost stood on tiptoes as he reached his climax with a deep, shuddering thrust, biting so hard on the inside of his mouth that he tasted salty blood. Harry, in turn, came with a jerk and a grating moan into Draco's palm, the cloudy residue pattering onto the cold, stone floor from Draco's fingertips. Muscles aching and burning, Draco withdrew with a sharp intake of breath, allowing Potter to fall free of his grip and prop himself up against the wooden work surface. He too chose to use the tabletop as support, and for a long while, the two boys stood beside each other, panting heavily, their hot breath forming small clouds of mist on the glass above their heads.
Draco drew his fingers to his lips, darted out his tongue to taste Harry's come, and closed his eyes – the cold twist of regret was too faint to notice, overpowered by a deep, pulsating, enduring satisfaction.
"So, what did you really see?"
Cleaned up and re-clothed, Draco and Harry were sitting opposite each other on the wooden tabletops. Their post-coital relationship was easier than before; neither of them was riddled with doubt, or confusion – this time, both of them had known exactly what they were doing. No excuses. No point passing blame. A subtle shift, but one that made conversation between them a hell of a lot easier. And at a point in time where any considerable pause would leave them contemplating things they would have been terrified to think of, conversation was crucial.
It didn't even bother Draco to see the marks that he had made. Harry's bottom lip was bloody, he had two dark bruises on the inside of each wrist, and a deep, circular welt had formed on the side of his neck. Still sore from Draco's intrusion, he was having trouble sitting comfortably. Draco felt no remorse.
He had asked Harry a question: one that had been plaguing him all day. He continued to enjoy surveying his marks of passion while the Gryffindor looked up at him, his head tilted in confusion.
"In the crystal ball: what did you actually see?" Draco repeated, the slightest edge to his voice. He was curious, he was insistent on knowing the truth – and he still hated Potter for trying to humiliate him. Nothing would ever change that.
Harry thought for a long while; his eyes were fixed on Draco, but he could see that the Gryffindor's mind was working at a considerable pace, trying to formulate a suitable response. He began to feel perturbed when he realised the pause had been far too long for his answer simply to be 'Nothing'.
"I remember the expression on your face, Potter – you saw something. I have the right to know what it was."
"...I think – I believe – that I saw into your soul."
Draco felt his heart skip a beat. He could see that Harry wasn't lying; that he had, in fact, peered into Draco's innermost self, seen further and witnessed more than anyone else around him had. It was truly mortifying – but not as mortifying as allowing Harry to keep his vision a secret.
"Yes, Potter." He answered, unable to mask the unease in his voice, "I do believe that was the point of the exercise."
He rolled his eyes skyward for a moment, before adding, "To be more specific: the point was to see into my soul's future."
After this, he gave a wide, self-satisfied smirk, indulging himself in awaiting the many possible answers to his next question, "And the most important thing to ask, in such an instance, is this: did you like what you saw?"
Harry closed his eyes, and lowered his head. Draco did not feel good about this. He had meant to ease the tension, not add to it. And now it seemed that Potter was at conflict with himself, struggling to find the best way to tell Draco something truly dreadful. For once, Draco could comfortably admit that he preferred it when they were shagging.
"Draco.... The centre of the crystal ball turned black. I saw crushing darkness, emptiness – an unending void."
Draco's throat became very dry, very quickly. It was not the revelation that startled him most – but the unbearable note of pity in Harry's voice. Darkness and emptiness were already an established truth in his existence, and he had come to treat them as life-long companions. An unending void seemed only realistic: after all, he could not expect golden sunsets and freshly-mown grass once he set out on the treacherous path laid down for him.
Harry was frowning deeply. He had his cloak around his shoulders, and pulled it more tightly about him once he had answered Draco's enquiry; obviously, speaking of such things made him uncomfortable. But Draco couldn't give a damn. He was too curious to let Potter's feelings stand in the way of finding out what he wanted to know.
"So...what did you think of that?" He asked, examining his fingernails as if he had better things to be doing, and was continuing the conversation purely for Potter's benefit.
The Gryffindor narrowed his eyes and leaned back slightly, as if unable to accept Draco's nonchalance. Perhaps he had hoped for a more dramatic reaction – but Draco saved his dramatics for only the most crucial moments.
"I wasn't entirely surprised." Potter answered, shrugging his shoulders. Draco sensed the slightest hint of a smile, "But neither do I believe that it was a definite premonition of your future."
"What?" Draco wasn't sure he had heard the last part correctly, "Perhaps I'm mistaken, Potter, but I'm sure you just implied that my future isn't going to be empty and dark..."
"I am implying that, yes." The Gryffindor replied, his posture closing up as he quickly became self-conscious. "I believe that perhaps I know you well enough to predict that the future you have paved out for you might not be the one you eventually end up with."
Draco laughed aloud at this; he couldn't resist the temptation to bite back: "You think you know me now, Potter – why? Because we fucked?"
Harry glared at him for a long while, his jaw firmly set. Draco knew he was fighting to hold his resolve. "No. You asked me for my opinion: I'm giving it." He answered, teeth slightly gritted. The severity of his voice caused the smile to disappear from Draco's face. "All I'm trying to say is: I don't think your future is particularly set in stone."
Draco raised his eyebrows sceptically, opening his mouth as if to say something, but Harry cut him off. No more interruptions.
"It is quite obvious that, if you continue to travel the path set for you, the future I saw – the hollow, bleak future, the future of nothing – will be your future." He paused, waiting to see if Draco had taken it all in, and then continued, "Perhaps there is nothing in that future because..." And at this point, the tone of his voice was uncharacteristically blunt, "...you will have no future."
Draco was listening against his better judgement; he no longer saw any profit in teasing Potter for this information, and the atmosphere was becoming too heavy for his liking. It would soon be curfew; their detention would be over, and whilst the sex was strangely thrilling and unbelievably bewildering, this psycho-analysis was slowly saturating his mood. He regretted not killing Potter when he had him pinned to the tabletop; orgasm or no orgasm.
"But you have a chance to change things. You can have a different future, a different way of life – all you have to do is accept that you are not the same as your parents."
Draco narrowed his eyes and frowned at Potter. 'Is he really saying these things? Does he think I won't blast him into oblivion if he dares say one word against my family?' He felt his hackles raise and his fingernails dig into his palms.
"Now – just stop right there." He ordered, standing up from the desk (rather stiffly) and pointing a long, pale finger at Harry, "I didn't ask for your goodie-goodie philosophies, Potter. I only asked what you saw in that crystal ball. Don't – don't think that, just because of what happened here, you can start preaching to me all over again. I don't want to hear it. You need to know that nothing has changed. I still hate you. Always will. And if you ever cross the line: ever speak to me in public, ever try to use your Boy-Who-Lived shite to try and convert me, ever talk about myself and empty classrooms or greenhouses, ever speak out against my family again – I will not hesitate to conjure you a new orifice."
In the weighty silence that followed, the bells in the clock tower rang a string of low, sombre notes: curfew. End of detention. Draco tossed up his chin at Potter in a silent note of defiance and, with a dull swish of fabric, hastened his way towards the greenhouse exit.
"Someday, you will have the chance to prove you are better than them." Harry called after him, his words bouncing off the sheets of glass surrounding Draco's retreating form, "And when you come to accept the kind of person you're capable of being, you'll realise- that the only thing you resent me for is being everything you wish were allowed to be..." He paused for a brief moment, and as Draco swung the door open, he was just close enough to hear Potter's final words, "- and that you're not really attracted to me at all – just the way of life that I represent..."
Draco's breath hitched in his chest as he closed the door to with a shrill clang of metal.