Disclaimer: Well, I can't afford to pay for the rights to this amazing series. So... not mine to own, people.
Authours Note: Un'beta'd
Title: Until Eternity
Summary: Draco Malfoy knows the way things are supposed to be. But a certain Gryffindor is making it almost impossible to remember the rules. HPDM slash
He approaches me in the hallway, and I stifle a sigh. When Harry Potter deliberately makes for Draco Malfoy in a crowded place, things are bound to get interesting. So, naturally, everyone turns to watch. I just glimpse the resigned expressions on his minions faces as they follow before my attention is completely captured by Potter.
I could never ignore him, and he knows that. Hence- all of our fights. We revolve around each other, and yet we can never admit our need for the other. He stops in front of me, just staring at me.
It is uncomfortable, being held by those emerald eyes, and I can never stand it for long.
"What, Potter? Tired of your loyal Gryffindors already? Tsk, tsk, and the school year has just begun, as well." I plaster a smirk on my face, and cock my head to the side. Potters eyes ignite, and I ready myself for a fight. "I wonder what the Headmaster would say if he knew you preferred Slytherins over his precious House."
And in an instant, he is there. No words, no warning. Just as I knew he respond. We work in patterns, and they work well for us.
His large hand is warm as it presses against my throat, but I don't fight back. In a moment there will be teachers, and I will not be in trouble for starting this fight, provoke the Boy Hero though I may. But Potter goes no further, and just stares at me.
I smirk again. "What's this, Potter? Cat got your tongue? Or, shall I say, snake?" I laugh, and he growls deep in his throat. It vibrates through me, and in that instant I know that I will be the one to carry on this charade. This has happened before, when he was too enraged to speak.
The crowd grows ever thicker, as the other students are drawn by the prospect of a fight. I try not to preen in their attention, but I cannot help it. Being the center of attention is my cocaine, and Potter provides me with this.
Abruptly Potters eyes widen, then narrow. I wonder what stray thought has crossed his mind, but before I can mock him for the action he yanks me from the wall. He breath caresses my ear, and I cannot hide the shiver.
"Malfoy," he breathes, and I freeze, "meet me at the Astronomy Tower tonight."
And with that, he lets me go. And walks away. And the crowd watches, astonished, as I straighten my clothing, and take my bag from Blaise, and ignore Pansy. I go to class, my mind in a daze.
But by the end of the lesson, I've discovered only one thing. That I will never, ever understand Harry James Potter.
The Astronomy Tower is cold, for though it is still September the wind is frigid with the promise of the winter to come. My hair whips about my face, and I curse myself for not restraining it before arriving. And then I curse myself for arriving. Why have I done this?
I could only be here to be set up for humiliation, but yet…
The break from our routine unsettles me more than I care to admit, and I would like to know why.
Even if I end up being humiliated beyond all reason.
Potters voice sounds from behind me, and I start. "I'm glad to see you came."
I recover from the surprise quickly, though something in the gleam of Potter's eye suggests that he had seen it, and knew I was trying to hide it. No matter.
"Of course I came, Potter. Your invitation was most… persuasive."
I narrow my eyes at the Gryffindor as he grins. That was not the reaction I had been waiting for. What is his game?
"Sorry about that, Malfoy." The apology was easy, and I arch a brow in surprise. Apologizing? Potter? He must be ill. "I wanted to get your attention, and that was the easiest way to do it."
"I'll say," I mutter, and Potter laughs. My brow raises even higher. Now I have no idea what is going on. Had someone been feeding the precious Boy Wonder illegal substances? Was he mad?
"Do I need to summon Madame Pomfrey, Potter?" I ask warily, as if he will come and try to shove me over the turret.
"No, Malfoy, of course not." He moves closer, and I curse myself for placing my back to the wall. "I am extraordinarily happy, but not deranged."
"Oh, big word," I drawl, unimpressed. "Are you sure you know what it means?" My sarcasm is- as ever- a cover for my uncertainty. Why is he this close? What does he want?
But all I get is a distracted chuckle as he moves even closer. Now a bare meter separates the two of us. "Malfoy, Malfoy. Always with a witty comeback." He comes a step closer. "It's one of the things I admire about you."
Admire? About me? What in Merlin's holy name and Salazar's despicable one was going on here? If this was anyone else, I'd be suspecting a declaration of love to come.
I was not so far off.
"You see, Malfoy, I've been watching you." Stalker-ish, much? I shuddered. "And I've noticed things about you that I doubt you'd want anyone to know." What the hell was he getting at, here?
I kept my mouth shut, and let him dig his own hole. He didn't seem to mind.
"You thrive on attention-" I snorted. Everyone knows that. He continued on, ignoring me. "You thrive on attention, but yet you hide so much of yourself away from your friends and enemies. You help the younger years, you give them a friendly smile, or hug, when no one watches and they need one."
He was right, I think vaguely. He has noticed the things I hide. It's not very Malfoy-ish to help the small ones, is it? And that's why I do it. That's why I hide it. He goes on.
"You adore Pansy, and you keep her company because she has no other friends, and looks to you to protect her from the world." How does he see these things? "Blaise knows he can always come to you with his problems, and receive a fair answer. Crabbe and Goyle are your bodyguards because you stand up for them and help them where no one else would."
I was beginning to feel faint- this vocal description of all I have hidden for my whole life was unnerving and frightening. What will he do with this information? I had not imagined my humiliation to be so complete.
I close my eyes as he comes closer yet again, and I can feel his breath on my cheek as he speaks.
"Snape allows you to control your House because he knows you will be fair," he whispers, and I swallow. Hard. "He trusts you to keep them from disgrace and harm. He knows that when all else fails they will look to you for guidance. That when the time comes they will listen to your words, and not Voldemort's." The name shocks me from my fear, and my eyes fly open.
His are inches from my own.
"Everything I have said is true, is it not?" He barely waits for me to nod shakily before continuing. "That's what I thought."
He presses his lips to mine quickly, softly, and pulls back. The kiss was almost nothing, but it burned me to my soul. "Thank you." he whispers, and backs away.
I'm disoriented, from the revelations and the kiss and the sudden lack of warmth protecting me from the wicked wind, but I manage to speak. "For what?"
"For being you."
He turns and leaves, and I am alone on the Tower. It might all have been a dream. It is starting to feel like one. And I decide to treat it as a thought I cannot remember.
But my lips still feel his, and my thoughts still reel from his words.
The weeks passed quickly. And quietly. I know that my House was confused by the sudden and uneasy truce with the Gryffindors but, as Potter said they would, they followed my lead. As I knew they would.
The Professors watched us carefully, wondering what had prompted the peace, but not willing to disturb it, and the Headmaster watched me with a twinkle in his eye.
Potter and his cronies stayed well clear of my House, and I never passed within two meters of him. Blaise and Pansy realized that he must have done something- no matter that there was no evidence- and kept us well apart. Crabbe and Goyle took it upon themselves to glare menacingly at the Golden Trio, and keep everyone not a Ravenclaw or Slytherin from my sight.
But nothing happened. It was as though a true peace had settled upon the school. Hufflepuffs struggled with their studies and gazed dreamily at Potter whenever he walked past. Ravenclaws studied even harder as Mid-Winter exams came up and helped their Slytherin comrades with the work. Gryffindors were still a rowdy, obnoxious bunch that beat every team but Slytherin in Quidditch, and the Slytherins still plotted the downfall of all who crossed them.
Relative peace in Hogwarts. It was never meant to last.
The fight was loud, as such fights are, and violent. I don't know who started it, nor do I care. All I know is that as I read my mother's letter, my peace was disrupted by shouts and curses and the sounds of bodies slamming together.
With a muffled sigh, I replace my letter within my locker and go to break up the fight. Though who it could be was beyond me. Why the Slytherin team would have a fight within itself after our victory was a mystery.
But as I saw the combatants, my temper- long locked away and rarely used- emerged from its hiding place. The swirl of silver and green and red and gold locked in a pitched battle was more than enough to spark my anger.
My Housemates scattered before me, but I barely noticed. My anger was guiding me, and I would be damned if I lost the chance to use it.
The Slytherin was Nott, I saw, and the Gryffindor Thomas. I paused at the edge of the circle where they fought for long enough to notice that there were now no sounds from the watchers and that Potter wasn't present before I waded in.
Nott flew back from Thomas as my magic added strength to my arm, and Thomas chin met my fist as he tried to fight me instead. Foolish boy. I fight only Potters.
"What is the meaning of this?" My voice was a low hiss, and Nott flinched as Blaise handed him a damp cloth. The blood from his nose stained it immediately. Thomas was holding his chin, dazed from my magically enhanced fist, and collapsed to the floor. The locker room was silent as those who had been cheering on the fight looked at me cautiously.
I was seething- that the peace I had begun was broken by one of my Housemates was almost too much for me to bear. And by the look on his face, Nott was realizing that he had unleashed my infamous temper.
I struggled to hold back in front of the Gryffindors- they did not need to see how I disciplined my own House- and gazed around the quiet room instead. There was no differentiation between the lockers other than House colors, as all four Houses shared one Locker room. But only two used it at a time, the way the Quidditch classes and games were scheduled. So there was usually no problem.
But- obviously- today was the day where someone pushed someone, or made a comment about the unfairness of the game, or deliberately began something. And I knew what Nott had done.
"Theo-" and my voice was an icy hiss. His head jerked up, and he froze in place. "Go wait for me in the Common Room." Without a word he turned to go, Blaise nodding to me once before following. As my… Lieutenant… Blaise would chew his ear off before I even got there. Good.
The other Slytherins filed out before I could say anything, and I turned back to the Gryffindors. A dripping Harry Potter clad only in trousers shoved his way through the silent crowd, and stopped in front of me. Obviously he was right from the showers, and had come as soon as he could. But I did not allow myself to become affected by his appearance, and leveled an expressionless glare at him.
"This is neutral territory, Potter, if I may remind you of that fact." He flinched at my cold, cold voice, and even as part of me reveled in that, another was saddened. "We have never fought in the locker rooms, and if your people insist on starting fights, then we will bring this incident before the Headmaster." Immediately, Potter's teammates protested, knowing as well as I did that Theo had started the fight, but Potter merely nodded.
"I'll talk to them." His decisive tone assured me he was not merely humoring me, and I nodded sharply before turning and beginning to make my way to the dungeons. As the door shut behind me, I could hear Potters voice berating his Team, and I smiled.
Theodore Nott would wish he was a Gryffindor by the time I was through with him.
Potter was watching me again. I had noticed it at breakfast, then again at lunch, but now- at dinner- I acknowledged it. What did he want with me? Why must he always be watching me? I scowled at my plate, and Nott shifted nervously next to me. As part of his… punishment… I had decreed that he was to sit by me at all meals for a week.
A grim smile twisted my lips. While some would just love to be in his shoes right now, he knew better. From here, I could do anything I wanted to him, and he was right to be terrified. But, he only had two days left of his torture, so I was making the most of it.
Crabbe and Goyle were having fun proving that terror could be sustained for long intervals at a time, and Blaise was always ready with the morbid jokes and hints of threats. I was merely content to watch, and smile, and remind the boy that fighting in a neutral zone incited all sorts of punishments. Though nothing Severus would disapprove of, naturally.
I turned to Nott. "Are you quite done with your meal?" My voice was polite, but oh so icy. He nodded. "Then leave."
As much as I liked to torment him, his hyper-awareness of my moods was beginning to pall. He scrambled from his seat, racing to leave before the grace period was repealed. But I had no intention of doing that- and as long as I was in a good mood later on tonight, I would declare his punishment served in full, and everyone would view me as a merciful man.
I snorted into my drink at the thought. I did not want to be merciful. I wanted to hit someone. But Theo just wasn't an appropriate choice. No one was, really. It was a conundrum.
Blaise caught my eye, and smirked. Draining his glass, he took Pansy's hand and they began to make their way to the dungeons. I smiled in response, and shook my head. Blaise knew me well enough to predict my actions tonight, and he was setting the stage for me. And getting in his last minute torture, as well.
I glanced up absently, the smile still on my face, and met Harry Potter's startled gaze. The smile slid away instantly. He was watching. Again. But I felt more intrigued than displeased. What made his eyes constantly wander to me over and over again? The Kiss came to mind with startling clarity, but I blinked that thought away. No. That was not the reason.
When you wander the halls at night, after curfew, there is always a tingle of excitement that races up and down your spine. Professors could catch you, the Head Boy or Girl, the Prefects for each House. But yet I was wandering again, perhaps hoping to be caught.
An odd thought, I realize as it comes to me- hoping to be caught. But there is no other reason to wander, really. I have no one to meet for an illicit tryst, there are no family members to sneak into the school, and I have no need to send a letter out at this hour. So I was wandering just to wander, it seemed.
For a moment I hesitated in my path, wondering where to go. The Astronomy Tower? I rejected that immediately. Too many lovers, too attractive for Teachers. The Dungeons? No- I knew them too well for anything to interest me.
So I picked a path at random and began to walk.
My thoughts consumed me, but not so much that I couldn't hear the tread of steps ahead of me. Quickly, I stepped into an alcove off of the main hall and waited for whoever it was to pass. But when I saw the person, my mischievous spirit came to life.
Stepping out into the hall before they noticed, and assuming a casual pose, I called out, "What? Is Potter actually roaming the halls after curfew?" And Merlin help me, he jumped in shock.
"Malfoy? What are you doing up at this hour?" His voice was steady, which disappointed me, but I smiled.
"I was asking you the same thing, Potter. Wouldn't Dumbledore love to know his little Hero was breaking school rules?"
"Speak for yourself, Malfoy. You're out late, too." His voice was a growl, and I chuckled.
"Ah, but I am a bad, no-good Slytherin, and if I am caught, no one will care." He stared at me in astonishment, most likely at my self-mocking words. But it was late, and I had let my impish nature slip its leash for the moment. I began walking, and he kept staring as I passed him, before catching up.
"So why are you up, Malfoy?" His question was almost startling after his long silence, but I smirked.
Glancing sideways at him, I made my voice light and innocent. "I merely needed some fresh air. The Slytherin dorm is not so well ventilated as the Gryffindors, you know." Again, the shocked face. It took a moment for him to realize I was joking, and an unnamable expression passed over his face. It unsettled me.
"I see." His voice was low, and he stopped suddenly. I stopped as well, but ended up a few feet in front of him. He stared at me, and I let him, the back of my mind shouting that The Kiss was about to be repeated and to run but I stood firm.
"And so I learn more and more about you, Malfoy." he mused, voice as dark and sinful as chocolate. "The hidden things, the honorable things, the carefree things." He shook his head in wonder, and his lips curved into a smile. "I knew I was right to watch you."
He turns, and leaves, and I stand there, bemused. All that I thought I knew was crumbling, and yet my feet were firmly planted somewhere my mind would not go.
The fifth time we met in the halls after midnight, an exasperated sigh slipped from between my lips. "We have to stop meeting like this, Potter. It's beneath me."
He chuckled silently, and shrugged. "Tonight it is not my fault," he defended himself, adding, "Filch changed his route on me, and I had to change mine."
A grimace marred my lips. Filch. My entire body shuddered at the thought of the Caretaker, my Malfoy sensibilities offended by everything about the Squib.
Potter chuckled again at the disdain clear in my voice, but froze. His head tilted to the side, his expression listening, so I listened as well. But even concentrating as hard as I could, I could hear nothing. Frowning, I turned to the Gryffindor.
"Potter, what are you play-" but his hand was over my mouth, and he was literally dragging me down the hall. I struggled- of course- as Potter fit us both inside a crevice in the wall that had once housed a statue.
Keeping his hand over my mouth, he gestured for me to keep quiet with his other. I glared back, but apparently he took that as encouragement and let go. I pouted immediately. Potter pointed down the hall and I saw the glow of a lantern turn the corner. I shifted farther back into the crevice, and Potter grinned at me. I glared back, and his body convulsed with silent laughter.
Something about this situation obviously struck him as funny, and when we were free he was going to get the speech of his life. Me, Draco Malfoy, caught in an alcove in the middle of the night with Harry Potter of all people, was not something I wanted the world to know. And depending on who caught us, it would take five minutes or an hour, tops.
And I was deliberately not thinking about how close our bodies were, or the warmth of Potter, or his hands resting lightly on my shoulders. The light came closer and I froze. I watched the light grow as whoever it was neared us, and by the time we saw who was holding the lantern my heart was racing.
And none other than Dumbledore was holding the light, and he had stopped outside of our alcove, and was talking to himself. Not that I could hear the words- or want to- but he was. A shiver ran through my body. Our school was protected by a madman. Potter began shaking with laughter again, and I glared at him, but he couldn't stop.
Dumbledore continued on his way, oblivious, and we waited another ten minutes before emerging from the alcove.
"What were you thinking?" I demanded, hands fisted at my sides. "If we had been caught, I would have been disgraced!" But he was still chuckling, and I hissed in frustration. Why wouldn't he calm down and listen to reason? But then I made out words in the laughter, and my anger grew.
He thought he could play me like that? Well, he had another think coming.
As I strode away, my face set in a mask of anger, Potter calmed down. His face cleared, and became confused and he tried to follow me, but I cast the same charm he had mocked me with and hid from him.
It began in the hallway, before Potions. I wanted this to be visible to everyone. I wanted my House to see. I wanted Potter to pay.
I leaned against the doorway of the Potions classroom, waiting for my Godfather to let us in. But I was really waiting for Potter to arrive, and when he did, he came towards me. His face held an apology but I refused to see it, refused to be swayed by it. When he was a few feet away from me, I nudged Pansy with my elbow.
"Look," I drawled, "here comes Potter. Perhaps he thinks he can learn something today, yes?" Potter stopped, a confused look on his face. For once I held his gaze, and wouldn't let him free. "Good morning, Potter. Come to pretend to be smart again, have we?"
His face descended into something I recognized from months long past, and a little bit of my anger and humiliation fled. But I held onto enough of it to continue.
"Well, I'm sorry. But your kind are not allowed join the ranks of those who can think and reason."
The Gryffindors face turned red in his rage, and he could barely articulate his response. "Malfoy, get the fuck out of my way." I shrank back at his tone- but had he used that word on me? My anger returned.
"What? What was that, Potter? I couldn't hear anything past your stupidity." Pansy gripped my elbow in fear as Potter stepped up to me, his nose mere inched from mine. But he wouldn't do anything here, not with Severus delayed.
"I think you heard what I said, Malfoy, now move." His voice was again a growl, but I delighted in the sound. It meant that I had gotten his goat good.
I pretended to think. "Hmmm. No. I do not think so."
In the blink of an eyes, his hands were in my shirt and the classroom door was opening, and Severus came out just as Potter was about to toss me to the side.
"What is going on here?" My Godfathers silky voice cut through the confusion like a knife through butter, and Potter dropped his hands.
"Nothing." His voice was surly, and disrespectful, and Severus' eyes gleamed.
"Ten points for disrespecting a teacher, ten for placing your hands on another student with intent to cause bodily harm, and ten for inciting a riot." Severus folded his arms inside his robes. The Gryffindors looked stunned- thirty points gone before classes had even begun? Potter looked ready to commit murder- namely, mine.
"Do you wish to lose another ten points for tardiness, Potter?" My Godfather is my hero, I decided, as Potter turned a shade of red heretofore found only in nature. He stalked past us into the classroom, and the Slytherins waited until Severus had walked back in before they surrounded me.
Their deadly grins and smirks reassured me that they understood.
The war was back on.
The Slytherin Common Room was silent. Even my House went to sleep at a reasonable hour on schooldays. In the weeks since my House had begun attacking Gryffindors, there had been so many injuries Madame Pomfrey had threatened to quit. The Professors had been as confused as they could possibly be at the resumption of hostilities, and the gleam in Dumbledore's eye whenever he saw me had faded completely away.
But I was not happy. I myself had been in five fights with Potter since that day before Potions, but the electrifying sensation of pitting my strength against his had faded to nothing. I don't know what's wrong with me- he had humiliated me, and I had responded appropriately.
Nothing I had done was wrong. I had followed my training to the letter. I could quote my father on this issue- and I had often enough, these past weeks. "Never does a Malfoy let an insult or attempted humiliation pass by without adequate action. A Malfoy does not allow a another Witch or Wizard to besmirch their honor. Malfoy's will always come out on top."
Those things- and more- my father had taught me as I grew and matured. I held his sayings to heart and learned from them. They guided me when I didn't know what to do.
So why did I feel like I had done something irrevocable?
I was in the library when I overheard the conversation. How could I not eavesdrop, when I had heard my name mentioned? So I moved to the other side of the stacks, and waited until whoever it was began speaking again.
And to my astonishment, it was Potter and Granger.
"Now, Harry, try to calm down." Granger- as ever- being the reasonable one, though she had something of a temper on her. I secretly thought she would have made a fine Slytherin. "He's not worth getting this upset over."
I stilled at that. Why had she said that?
Potter responded. "I can't, 'Mione. I can't stop thinking about it. I meant it as a practical joke, and maybe it wasn't that funny- but I didn't think he'd react so badly." I could just imagine him clenching his fists. "I want to know why he reacted so strongly."
There was a thud, presumably one of them had put a book on the table. "Have you ever thought of how he was raised, Har?" Har, I thought. What an ugly nickname. "He's a Pureblood. Perhaps when someone does something like that, and laughs like you did afterward, they meant to harm and hurt the butt of their joke."
"But, Hermione, we were concealed. Dumbledore wasn't going to see us anyway. And I just added the Charm for safety. Just to be sure."
"Then why did you laugh at him, Harry?" The Witch's voice was soft, but I heard the steel under it. Yes- a good Slytherin.
"I- I don't know." He paused, before adding hesitantly, "It seemed like a good idea at the time?"
Granger's voice became a sharper. "Why did you wait so long to tell someone all of this anyway? Who knows? We could have resealed this breech a long time ago."
Potter sighed. "I don't know. I feel… stupid… for doing it."
"Then you know what to do, Harry James Potter. Now go and fix it." Grangers voice carried a tone of command that made me glad I was not Potter.
"Yes, Mother," Potter muttered, but with a chuckle under his voice. There was a rush of movement, and Granger squeaked, and there was the smack of lips against skin.
"Go away, you silly male." The words were Grangers, and Potter laughed this time.
"Of course." His footsteps faded into the distance as Granger laughed at him, and I stayed where I was.
I did not necessarily make myself easy to find, but after overhearing their conversation I did not make it difficult. An icy anger crashed through my chest, growing with every thought I had. Whatever Potter might say tonight, I would not stop the war. It was too far gone, now. My Slytherins would complain, anyway, if I did so. They needed an outlet for their energy.
The wind was much colder tonight than it had been the last time I had been here, which was fitting. The Christmas Holiday was a mere twelve days away, and the weather tonight had changed to suit. Snow drifted in puffy white flakes to lay atop the Tower, and the treetops, and the already thick layer of snow on the ground below. I marveled at it for a moment, forgetting my rage for as long as it took to catch a snowflake on my gloved palm.
And that was when Potter showed up, seeing me holding a snowflake with the greatest care in the world. My anger surged as I turned to face him fully.
"What do you want?" I made no effort to reign in my hostility, and Potter's face clouded for a moment before he visibly cleared it.
"I came to apologize." His words were stiff, as though spoken through clenched teeth.
"Too late." I said simply. "I don't care anymore." I didn't play coy about what he came to apologize about- he was here and I was here for only one reason, and we both knew it.
"Bullshit," he exclaimed, coming over to me and grabbing my shoulder. I wrenched free, but he grabbed both my shoulders and stared into my eyes. "You care, Malfoy, you still care. Otherwise, our Houses would not still be fighting."
"That's absurd," I replied, anger giving me the strength to resist his eyes, "I don't care because you humiliated me and laughed at me and now you want me to forgive you." I looked away. "Well, it's not going to happen."
His hands dropped from my shoulders. They slid down my arms and gripped my hands, and Harry James Potter knelt in front of me.
"I need you to forgive me, Draco Malfoy. What I did was wrong, though I did it as a joke." His eyes were intense as he stared at me and I tried not to fall in. "I want your friendship again. I want to see your smiles again. I want to hear you laugh again. I don't want our Houses to fight each other merely because we don't get on." He paused, and brought my hands together before him.
"Will you forgive me?"
I had to hide the smile that was about to split my face in two. Blaise kept glancing at me in curiosity, and Pansy had her arm wrapped around my waist, but I could only seem to concentrate on making my feet walk me to the Great Hall. Pansy was keeping me from floating away, and I gripped her hand hard in appreciation. She smiled up at me, her pixyish face bright with happiness.
I'd told her about the newest truce with Potter, but no one else, and she was proud of me. I basked in her approval for a moment, before Blaise dropped back to walk at my side. I looked up, concerned. He only did that when Potter walked by, and I didn't see him.
But then I saw the ginger head floating above the crowds, and the bushy brunette pushing her way to breakfast, and finally I saw the black hair I was searching for. The crowds quieted a moment later, as they realized Potter and Malfoy were in the same hallway on a collision course, and everyone held their breath.
Except for me, and Pansy, and Potter.
But the expectation of a fight dwindled and died as Potter and I approached each other, and did nothing other than nod in greeting. We turned into the Great Hall together, the six of us causing a knot of confusion for the other students as they waited for the fight that was not going to happen.
The Professors tensed up at their Table, but were as surprised as the students as we merely went our separate ways.
With a happy smirk on my face, I sat. The Slytherins- depending on their nature- glanced about the Great Hall in relief or disappointment as they realized a new truce had been enacted. Slowly the Slytherins began to talk, and as they did so the Professors began to understand the new nature of the school.
I stared at the letter in my hand. How could my mother do this to me? Stay here for Christmas? Not go home for my favorite holiday? Did she want me to go insane?
But the wording made it clear that I was to stay, and that there would be no disputing this decision. I threw the letter across the room in a fit of pique, and flopped onto my bed. This was humiliating beyond reason. Did they not want me anymore?
But I would have to deal with it. I may occasionally disobey my father, but not my mother.
The pout stayed on my face all day.
"What's wrong, Malfoy?" The soft question didn't even startle me, as used as I was to Potters presence these days. I grunted, and continued staring out the window. He came and stood beside me, and I ignored him.
"It's a beautiful day, Malfoy. Why aren't you at Hogsmeade?" I turned to glare at him- didn't he recognize a plea for peace and quiet when he saw it? Apparently not. But it's not like there was anyone else around to talk to. It was a Hogsmeade weekend, and everyone was leaving on Monday to go home for the Holiday, except me. My glare deepened.
I placed my crossed arms on the window sill and rested my head on them. We were the only ones in the Castle, and Potter didn't count as anyone. So no one saw me in such a vulnerable position.
"Malfoy?" His voice was alarmed, and I looked at him out of the corner of my eye. "What's wrong?"
"Well, since you're obviously not going to leave me alone, though I don't see why you're not at Hogsmeade…" I reached in my pocket and handed him the much-read letter.
He read it quickly, and glanced up at me in sympathy. "Do not look at me like that, Potter." I warned, backing away from the window and walking away. "I don't need your pity."
"I am not pitying you," he said quickly, and I snorted. He was very quick to apologize these days. Ever since we'd reestablished our truce.
He hesitated for a moment before he spoke, and that made me curious. "Do you want to go to Hogsmeade with me?"
I stopped completely at that, and stared. He met my eyes evenly.
"What? Like, a date?" I couldn't help it- I laughed a little. But Potter smiled, and shook his head, and offered me his arm like a perfect gentleman.
"Anything for Mister Malfoy," he intoned, and as hilarious as it was I just smiled and walked away. But I walked towards Hogsmeade, and he followed me, his longer legs catching up to mine easily and then matching my pace.
Christmas Eve, I reflected, was really the heart and soul of the Holiday. That was when family and friends got together for real, and not just for the presents. On Christmas Eve, you shared spiced cider and sugar cookies and gave the gifts that meant the most. You sat in the dark in the light of the fireplace and shared laughter and jokes and the happiest moments of the holiday.
I was alone. The fireplace burned with green and silver flames, as benefited the Slytherin Common Room, and there was no cider, and no laughter for I was the only one of my House to stay for the Holiday.
Slytherins valued family, but I had been told to stay away. So as my Housemates left, I let them believe Lucius and Narcissa were coming for me later on. So I was alone, here in the Common Room, too prideful to go to the Great Hall where the others were.
They didn't understand the true meaning of Christmas Eve, anyway. I would rather be alone.
A knock at the door pulled me out of my thoughts, and I stared at it in confusion. Who would know where the Slytherin Common Room is? Severus would have just walked in, but the other's were gone.
I got up to open the door anyway, the melancholy mood I was in demanding that I know who had disturbed me.
Harry Potter met my eyes, arms laden with food and drink. "Can I come in?" His voice was slightly strained as I just stood there, staring, but I backed away from the door and he entered.
He placed it all down on one of the tables, and turned to face me. I was still in shock.
"Shut your mouth, Malfoy," he said gently, "and come sit down. I'm not quite sure how long the heating charms are going to last." I obeyed automatically, and sat on the chair I had been in previously. Potter sat across from me, and began to uncover the food.
"Right. We have apple cider, apple pie, cherry pie, cheesecake, and brownies." Reaching into a bag I hadn't noticed before, Potter pulled out a bottle I knew well- having seen it in Severus' study often enough.
"Where did you get Ogden's?" I asked, astonished. His eyes gleamed with amusement, and he made a hand motion across his face.
"My lips are sealed, Malfoy, so don't go trying to get it out of me." A quick smile lit his features as he cut off a slice of cherry pie and handed it to me. I took it absently as I watched him spike our cider, and shook my head in bemusement. Who knew?
"Why are you doing this… Harry?" I didn't want him to notice me using his first name, and he obliged me by not reacting. I relaxed- it was Christmas Eve, after all.
"Because I noticed you weren't in the Great Hall, and I know you don't prefer to hang out with people you don't know, so I came to you instead." He flashed another quick grin in my direction. "I thought you might not mind."
"No," I replied, slowly, wonderingly, "No, I don't mind."
Perhaps waking up with a hangover was not the first Christmas gift I had wished to receive, but it was. I groaned and pressed my hand to my forehead, urging the pressure to go away. It was not bad, as hangovers went- and I'd had my share- but it was the first one I'd had in a while and I was not used to it.
A groan identical to mine sounded from the other end of the couch, and I turned to stare as Harry sat up, cradling his head.
"Don't drink much, Harry?" I rasped, cringing at the sound of my voice. Merlin, this was why I had stopped drinking.
"No, not really." His eyes clenched in pain, and I lurched to my feet, earning a reproachful groan as Harry shifted. I stumbled towards my room, thankful that there were no stairs, and grabbed two hangover potions out of my cabinet. Making my careful way back to Harry and the comfortable couch, I tripped over something and fell on top of him.
He grunted, but didn't seem to mind, and I was in too much pain to care.
"Drink this," I muttered, pulling the stopper on mine and downing it. Harry followed my lead, and grimaced at the taste. But it was kicking in, and now I could go back to sleep without the pain stabbing me in my head, and I did so.
When I woke up, two things caught my attention- one, I was not in my bed, and two- there was a body under me. I looked down and gasped in shock at the sight of Harry Potter pretending to be my mattress, and the night rushed back into my head. I sagged against him in relief, and sighed. At least I hadn't done anything I regretted.
When my eyes opened again, they looked straight into emerald. Harry studied me, his arms coming up to wrap around my waist. I was immediately aware of everywhere our bodies touched- from collarbone to knees- and I flushed.
Harry's eyes darkened.
"Draco," he whispered, and I shivered in reaction. His hand traced patterns up and down my spine, and the thrill of him touching me raced throughout my body. His other hand released my waist and traveled up my back, coming to my neck and cupping my cheek. I leaned into the touch, and watched his eyes darken, until they were so dark a green they might have been black.
It was almost my decision to lean down, almost my decision to kiss him. His hand guided me to the right place, and held me there, and when our lips touched it slid into my hair and caressed the silky strands.
I cannot describe the sensation- this was a real kiss- not the barest brushing of lips that he had given me before. There was warmth and contentment and safety in this kiss- there was passion and bliss and hope. He nibbled on my lips, kissed my bottom lip and licked my top one.
His tongue darted between my lips as I sighed against his, and I melted. I don't know what he was doing, or how, but whatever it was felt so good that my heart ceased to beat for a moment and my mind blanked on me.
But he pulled back, and I whimpered at the loss before I caught myself. Harry's lips curved at the sound, and he placed one more kiss on my all-too-willing lips before backing away completely.
Severus glaring at me was a sight I was not used to. But, under the circumstances, I supposed he had the right of it. Harry sat next to me, not looking the least bit concerned. But then, I suppose he had a lot more practice with Severus' glares than I.
"What do you have to say for yourself, Potter?" Of course Severus would blame Harry first. Habit and all. But while that silky and sharp voice made me flinch, Harry just sat there.
"Well, that's none of your business, sir." Even I gaped at that, before remembering I had… forgotten… to tell him that Snape was my guardian while I was at school, him being my Godfather and all. Whoops.
"I must disagree, Mr. Potter." Again with that oh so silky and polished voice. It made me shudder. "You see, Mr. Malfoy is my Godson, and I am his legal Guardian while he attends Hogwarts." Harry glanced at me in shock, and I squirmed. I am in so much trouble…
"I see," Harry replied slowly, and then gave me a wicked look. "Well, then I think Draco should explain."
What? No way is Harry making me explain to my Godfather that I was caught by said Godfather making out with the Boy Wonder in the hallway!
But Harry stared at me, eyebrow raised, and I stared back. Severus watched the showdown impatiently, waiting for someone to tell him outright what his eyes had already seen, but my mind wanders when it comes to Harry.
School starts tomorrow, anyway, and you've got to make the most of the time you have… my mind traveled back to when Severus had caught us.
Harry had me hitched up against the wall, one leg wrapped around his waist and the other between his legs. I had never realized how strong the Gryffindor was before this moment, when he was supporting all of my body weight. Not that I weighed much.
But those thoughts were far too complicated for what Harry was doing to me, and I gasped as the hands cupped around my arse squeezed hard. I jolted forward, into Harry, and he broke off the kiss long enough to stare at me with lust and need in his eyes. I grabbed him impatiently and pulled him back to me, needing to taste more of him now.
Harry surrendered with a small chuckle- one that I could never have been able to produce under the circumstances. He loves it when I make him do things, like kiss me. But I surrendered to him in the next moment, letting him control the kiss and moaning deep in my throat at the feelings he could birth inside me.
"What the hell is going on here?" The irate and astonished voice belonged to no one other than my Godfather, and he dragged Harry off of me.
My mind snapped to the present at Severus shifted in his chair. Harry was looking at me precisely as if Severus had never interrupted us, and I'm afraid I know what my expression revealed, if my Godfathers face was any indication.
Well, it was all or nothing.
I went with all.
"I think that went well…" My voice was hesitant, unsure of Harry's response, but he grinned, and glanced around the hallway, and slung his arm around my shoulder to drag me close.
"No. No it didn't go well, but that's okay. Now he knows, and that's all that matters." I smiled at his reassurance, and slipped out from underneath his arm.
"Good. Now, we have one day left of freedom." Harry smiled at me, and my pulse began to race. "What should we do?"
Harry stopped us, and pointed to a door. "That's what." I raised a brow at him. We're going to do a door? That made no sense. But he began pacing back and forth, a frown on his face, and after the third time he reached a hand out to me- which I took, of course- and opened the door.
"Welcome to the Room of Requirement," Harry said, his voice proud- and slightly nervous. My eyes couldn't stay away from the interior, and Harry shut the door behind us. Tall, arched ceilings cast in shadow drew the eye, and huge stained glass windows filled the room with multicolored light.
There was a huge black marble fireplace, accented with a large soft looking couch, two armchairs, and a table in the center. There was a chessboard where the squares and pieces were made of diamonds and emeralds, atop a study mahogany table with two matching chairs. And in the corner, curtained off from the rest of the room, was a gigantic bed draped in green and gold.
Harry was watching me, anxiously I imagined, though I could not tell, and I turned back to him, my amazement clear on my face.
"This room is amazing! How did you find it?" Harry chuckled, and shook his head.
"That's for me to know, and maybe you can find out later. But this room will always be here for when you need it, all you have to do it what I did. Pace in front of the door three times, thinking about what you need." He smiled, and pulled me close to him. I went willingly, and gave into the kiss with a sigh of contentment.
I loved being with Harry, I realized as the kiss began to deepen. It's easy to be with him. He doesn't expect me to be anyone I'm not, and he already knows most of what there is to know about me, and he still accepts me for who I am. Not even my parents can do that.
Perhaps sensing my mental distance, Harry breaks off the kiss and pulls me to the couch, tugging until I fall into his lap, laughing all the while. One of his hands goes to my hair, and begins to play with it. Merlin above but Harry knows exactly what to do to turn me into a puddle of Draco.
Normally I cannot abide the feel of others touching my hair, but with Harry- as with everything else- this is different. When his fingers massage my scalp my eyes close with bliss. For a long, long time, his hand in my hair and his hand on my back lull me into a light doze.
But when they still and I feel his eyes on me, I glance up from his chest to see what's wrong. But he's just looking at me with an expression of wonder on his face, and I duck away, embarrassed.
But he doesn't let me look away for long before his hand reaches my chin and turns me to face him again. I present my lips for a kiss, and he bends to me eagerly. The sense of power that gives me, even more so than being the Prince of Slytherin, makes me giddy.
I surrender to him with a sigh, and his arms tighten around me. I turn in his arms to straddle his lap, sitting on my knees on either side of him. One of his hands pulls my shirt from the waist band of my trousers, and I whimper against his lips as his rough hand slides under the shirt to caress my back.
The kiss breaks off, and he stares at me. Then he begins to turn, lifting my body and rearranging us. I'm laying on my back now, and he is between my legs. They wrap around his body and bring him closer to me, and I kiss him as hard as I can. For once it is Harry who is breathing hard in reaction, and not me, and I smirk.
His hands go back to caressing my body, and I lie still, letting him explore me. Even as my shirt goes over my head and Harry begins to kiss my collarbone and chest, the smirk remains in place. I think I deserve to wear it, right now.
We separate with noticeable longing on both parts, but go our own ways. The rest of the student population is due to arrive within the hour, and we must go and make ready for their arrival.
By the time Blaise and Pansy and Crabbe and Goyle have returned and filled me in on their Holiday, it is long past time to sleep. Luckily, tomorrow is Sunday, so we do not need to go to bed quite as early as we would need to normally, but I complain of being tired and they defer to my suggestion of sleeping off the travel.
But when I am curled up in my own bed in my own room, I can think of nothing other than Harry. How are Granger and the Weasel treating him? Did he have to bear their silliness for too long? My body aches for him, as does my heart, and I can only curse myself for a fool.
We had gotten so close in that strange Room, but reason had overcome the rest. There was no time to do such a thing properly, not with the entire school arriving shortly, but I still regretted saying no. Perhaps he will forget me, now that his friends are back, and I was just a Winter fling.
Those things have been known to happen.
I was, perhaps, a bit colder to him the next morning than I should have been, but after last night's doubts, I could not help it. We saw each other at breakfast, and I got a small smile, but that was all. It felt like my world had collapsed around me.
Pansy noticed, and dragged me out of the Great Hall, and sat me on the steps and planted her hands on her hips.
"What's wrong, Draco? What happened over the Holiday that you haven't told us?" It was then I realized that Blaise had followed her.
I stood, and led them to a more deserted area of the Castle. And then I told them everything. All of it. Even the part with Severus.
"Draco," Pansy whispered, and pulled me into a hug. Blaise clasped my shoulder with his hand and squeezed, hard. Their compassion was almost unbearable, but it helped.
"I don't even know if he's going to want me back now that his friends are here." It was a horrible thing to say, and a horrible thing to whisper to the people who always believed me confident in everything I did, but I had to say it.
Blaise sat down across from me and propped his chin in his hand. "Take it day by day, Draco. That's all you can ask for. And when he comes around- and he'd better- he'll see what he's been missing."
Pansy chimed in. "But that doesn't mean jump right back into his arms, Draco. Make him wait for what he put you through." They nodded, perfectly serious, and I once again realized why I loved them as much as I do.
Harry came up to me, but I ignored him. I was so angry inside. I didn't want to lash out and say something that I wouldn't be able to take back. He stood beside me, like nothing was wrong, and took my hand in his own.
That did it.
"Don't touch me!" I hissed, and snatched my hand away. His shocked face was all I saw before I turned and left, but he followed me anyway. I knew he would.
"Draco! Draco, what's wrong?" His voice was concerned, like he still cared about me, but I laughed. I didn't like the way it sounded.
"What's wrong, Potter? What's wrong? You ignore my existence the moment your dear friends get back, and a week later you ask me what's wrong?" My anger was mounting with each step I took, till the Quidditch pitch was long gone and the Forbidden Forest was closer.
"I did not ignore you- the way you were acting made it quite clear that you wanted me to stay away!" His defensive words only enraged me even more, and I snapped at him with the truth.
"I did not! I never wanted you to stay away! But you ran right to your silly friends and attached yourself to them like nothing had ever happened between us! I am not a Holiday fling! I am not a toy, to be used and discarded at your leisure! You dropped me like I had the plague the moment Granger and Weasley came back, and this is the first time you've come to me since." My voice rose with each word, until I was yelling as loudly as I could. "Well, fuck you, Potter. Fuck. You. You had me, and you used me, and now you've lost me."
I began to walk back to the school, my rage gone, fighting tears. Harry's hand on my arm made me stumble, and I turned back to him, eyes blurred by the tears.
"What is it this time, Potter?" I asked, astonished by how weary my voice was. He stared at me in shock, and moved his hand down to meet mine.
"Why didn't you say anything?" He whispered, "Why didn't you let me know that you needed more from me?"
I stared. He was going to blame this on me? Over my dead body.
"Oh, yes Potter," my voice as hard as steel, "that would have worked well. 'Hello, Harry, good day to you. Please kiss me now'… because your friends would have loved that." I was shaking again, and moved towards him in my anger. He backed up. "Why couldn't you come to me, hmm? How come I must come to you? Shouldn't it be taken for granted that in a relationship the partners need to be together for it to work?"
"How was I supposed to know?" he responded, his voice as hard as mine, "You never said anything, and I thought you wanted me to stay away. You certainly never smiled in my direction, your minions kept me away from you, and whenever we were together you ignored me! How am I supposed to know what you want when I am being ignored!"
He ended on a shout, and my own anger shifted to a new emotion.
"I want to be chased!" I shouted at him, gesturing with my hands. I was letting go my deepest desires in the hopes that he would catch something. "I want to be cherished and loved and told that! I want you to want me, and I want to know it!" I was breathing hard, and the tears were coming back, but I had to finish this. "I want gifts and dinners and surprises and- and random kisses in places we might be discovered, okay? Did you understand any of that?"
I turned to walk away, again, but again Harry wouldn't let me leave. He studied me, his eyes searching for something within mine, and I let him. Because, deep down I knew that I wanted him back, on my terms, and I wanted it right. Now.
He took me in his arms, and I stood there. Not encouraging, not rejecting.
"Draco Malfoy, I love you." My knees shook. "I want to cherish you, and give you the world. I want you. I'll want you until the sun rises in the west. I will never leave you. I will deny my friends for you, I will lie and cheat and steal for you. I will treat you like a precious gem, because you are my treasure and I love you. Now until eternity. I promise."
The world was spinning with the force of his promises, and his voice reached all the way down to my toes and to the depths of my soul. I pressed my face against his shoulder and held onto him. He dragged me closer to him, and I could feel the wild pounding of his heart beneath my cheek.
Pansy was the first to notice, of course. When I got back to the dungeons and entered the Common Room she came to me, and wrapped her arms around my waist. I squeezed her close and gave her as small as smile as I could manage, trying to hide the depths of the feelings whirling inside of me.
With another tight squeeze, she let me go, and I wandered to my room in a slight daze. Harry had left me at the stairs to my dormitory with a deep, hungry kiss, uncaring of the fact that literally anyone could walk past and see us. My mind still reeled from that, and that he had so blatantly not cared.
The smile that was tugging at my lips bloomed as I entered my room and shut the door, blocking out the rest of the world.
Breakfast was a dull affair, and I rested my chin on my fist as I surveyed my Slytherins. Most looked refreshed from their weekend, though one or two were obviously still hung-over. But my House was laughing, and joking, and smiling, and that was good enough for me. The Professors were looking resigned to the fact that they must once again ride herd on all of their students, though the twinkle in Dumbledore's eye as he glanced at me twisted my insides with anxiety.
The Ravenclaws looked fairly bored with the morning already- most had their course books out and studying for the pop quizzes that most of the Professors had probably planned. Hufflepuff chatted and laughed among itself, seemingly ignorant of the fact that classes were about to begin again. And Gryffindor- well. I always knew what Gryffindor was up to, these days.
The Weasel and Granger were having a strong… discussion… about Severus' class, so 'strong' that I could clearly hear the words used in their conversation. But they could not hold my interest, especially when Harry was sitting next to them and smiling into his plate. I wondered what had made him smile, and if it had anything to do with me, or if it was from listening to his minions fight one another.
The owls came swooping down, and for the moment Harry was not the center of my attention. My mother's black eagle-owl Thorn glided towards me silently, and dropped the letter beside my plate before setting down on the back of my chair. The Parkinson's Horned Owl had alighted my friends shoulder, and was preening Pansy's silky black hair with single-minded determination.
I chuckled at Herne, the Horned Owl, but as I turned to open my letter something caught my eye.
Blaise's black Thunder had settled on the table. Goyle's Harpy was resting on his fist. Crabbe's Hercules was stealing the bacon from his plate. And all down the Slytherin Table, their owls had stayed.
All awaiting a reply.
My hand shook as I unsealed my letter.
My mother's familiar script was exactly as I recalled it, though the words were not. Phrases jumped out at me- 'we are currently entertaining important visitors', 'we regret not seeing you this past Holiday, but business needs had to be placed before Family', 'keep up with your studies and do us proud'.
Nothing to warrant the silence that had settled on the Slytherins. Nothing in the letters that meant anything to anyone. I knew that, as instinctively as I knew that my mother had not written this letter. Nothing to be frightened of. No reason for Pansy's eyes to fill with tears.
No reason for Dumbledore to be ordering the other Houses out. No reason for Harry to be fighting his way to me, eyes as worried as Severus'.
No reason for the tears staining the paper in my shaking hand.
No reason for my Housemates to be crying, no reason for the younger years to be held by the older ones. No reason for the cursing, and the fighting, and the screaming.
No reason for Harry's arms to bring me close to his chest. No reason for me to press my face into his neck. No reason for me to huddle into him, trying to hide from the world. No reason he was rocking me back and forth, crooning unheard words into my ear.
I don't remember anything else.
When I woke, I was still in the Great Hall. Harry's arms were still around me. Before I had even moved, his hands began smoothing over my back and my arms and my sides. I lifted my head from the shelter of his body, and turned to survey the Hall. Professors moved among my House, their whispered reassurances doing nothing to calm the Slytherins. Severus was whispering frantically at Dumbledore, gesturing wildly, but the old man didn't seem to see him.
I looked away- the old fool wouldn't be able to help any of us.
Harry was quiet as he held me, and though I couldn't look up at him I knew his eyes were watching all I did. Aside from the Professors, he was the only non-Slytherin here. I wondered briefly what my House would think of that when they could think again, but I pushed it from my mind.
I pushed away from Harry chest, but I let him keep his arm wrapped around me. His free hand gripped one of mine for a moment, and I could feel the overwhelming tide of grief ebb, for just that second. But my House had noticed me stir, and they came to me. They walked away from their conversations with their Professors and each other, and ignored the summons from their teachers and came to me.
Their eyes flicked to Harry, and I felt my Gryffindor tense, but their attention returned to me. All else could wait, and they knew that, even as they began to come to a few realizations about the past few months.
But before I even knew it, I was speaking.
"Well we've known for some time that this might happen." My House- my friends- didn't acknowledge the statement. It was truth, after all. I was vaguely surprised by how steady my voice had turned out to be. Merlin forbid I become a public speaker, though. That was Harry's job. I shifted in his grasp, and went on.
"Though why the old snake thought that doing it might help his cause- now he's just cut down his army." The Professors were watching, mouths wide open in horror, as I spoke. But what else should I have said to my House? They had all been expecting something like this since long before Voldemort had returned, and their parents had prepared them for the eventuality. There would be time to mourn properly later.
"We all know what this means." -and indeed, we did. We had all been soldiers in this fight for much longer than the Professors- or even Dumbledore- may have suspected. We knew the rules, and the plays, and the proper responses. Though I had a feeling that some of those reactions may have to change, and soon. "And we were all taught the correct way to respond. But that will have to change- our parents are not here for us anymore, and it is time for us to begin making our own decisions."
They watched me, my Slytherins, watched me holding onto Harry's hand for courage, watched me hold my crumpled letter to my chest, watched me fight for an icy mask to hide my emotions behind. The Professors watched me, watched Harry, watched all of us, not understanding. But my Slytherins did. They understood this War much better than their older teachers. For we knew personally that in War there were casualties, and though those casualties were their mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles, we must fight for our Families honor.
And fight we would. Behind Harry.
"And I know what my decision is."
I did. I knew that I hated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. I knew that he must pay. And I knew who could make him pay.
For everything there is a price. Family comes first. These are the fundamental laws of the Pureblood. I knew who could extract the full price from that murdering, thieving, misbegotten bastard. I knew the one person who could understand what me and my Slytherins were going through right now. The one person who had also lost everything to the Dark Lord.
And my House knew it as well. They turned to look at my Harry, and my Harry looked at them. They weighed each other, weighed the need versus the action, the thought versus the deed, the past versus the future.
And Harry, my beloved, wonderful Harry, nodded. He accepted the burden of his destiny from those who had made his life hell for years. He accepted from his one-time enemies what he had rejected time and time again from his mentor. He had always know his fate- everyone had known it- but, for the first time, he accepted it.
I had never been more proud. Or scared.
We had been in Dumbledore's office for hours, but still nothing had been done. Severus, McGonagall, Harry and I had been here for long enough for the official reports to come in from the Headmaster's spies, but the only thing anyone could find out was that the Dark Lord had called a meeting, and no one had left. The letters had been written as a last act of deception by the Dark Lord before he had murdered our families, but no one could tell us anything we didn't already know.
Oh, they had determined the cause of death as a rapid and fatal drain of their magic from an outside influence. Which, once Harry had explained it to me, actually made perfect sense. If you were a deranged, unstable Dark Lord. Take all the magic from your followers, condense it inside yourself, accept the losses as casualties of War, and continue on with whatever 'Master Plan' you might have in place.
I hated him! I wanted to be the one to cause life to flee his body, but Harry was the only one who could. The thought made me angry- but the calming hand to the small of my back brought me from the rage and centered me. Harry's face came into view as the adults ignored us for the moment, and I smiled slightly at the worry I saw in their depths.
"I'll be fine," I mouthed, but his tight smile did not look reassured. I wasn't reassured, come to that, but it would have to do for now.
Abruptly, McGonagall's eyes swung towards us. We watched her, caught in a private moment that she had intruded on, and waited. Severus and Dumbledore still argued- we could hear them, though we chose not to pay attention- while we studied each other. The Deputy Headmistress had had the hardest time accepting our relationship- apparently our continued charade after the Holiday had fooled her. But I think, in the end, it was Severus who convinced her. Or rather, Severus' lack of reaction. For other than tightening his scowl and glaring, he ignored us.
"Mr. Potter," McGonagall began, her accent all the thicker for the current situation, and frowned. "I could not hear all that happened in the Hall, and there was one part that piqued my interest." Harry nodded for her to go on, where I would have chopped this line of questioning off at the knees. The other two still ignored us, and McGonagall went on. "Before we were able to convince the students to go to their Dormitory's, there was a moment where you nodded to the students. Do you mind telling me what that was all about?"
Harry hesitated, and I began to respond. But he tapped my hand, and I held my tongue as he thought. And he thought for a few minutes, long enough where the older woman began to fidget. But finally he spoke.
"They needed to know something about me, and I answered their question." A simple answer, and I almost laughed at McGonagall expression. But Dumbledore made a gesture that included all of us, and we turned to give him our attention.
"Well, I think we've done all we can here. Mr. Potter, Mr. Malfoy, you can go back to your Common Rooms- your separate Common Rooms-" I smothered my reaction. Yeah, right. "We will inform you as soon as we know more of what has happened."
Harry had me up and out of the office before I could explode at the Headmaster- we know what happened, you stupid old fool!- and halfway down the stairs before he stopped. The stone gargoyle looked at us for a moment before turning back to its guard duties, and Harry completely ignored it.
"Draco, calmly." It's a good thing his voice sounds like rum coated in sugar, I thought vaguely as he wrapped an arm around my shoulder and led me away, because otherwise I would be spitting mad at him for saying that. But he led me to the Slytherin Common Room, and I said the password, and we went in.
I had no fear that Harry would be unwelcome- and indeed, the ones who saw us enter merely nodded in greeting. I led him over to our couch, and the ones sitting on it already slid over and made room. Harry sat me between him and the arm of the couch, and I was about to tell him he was overreacting when I realized why he had done it.
This way, he could shield me from sight, but I would still be able to see all that went on around us. My heart warmed a little more, and Harry hands fit themselves around me. I watched Pansy cling to Blaise as she held her mother's favorite necklace, and I looked away.
But my own tears were not long in coming- now that I could think about it, I couldn't stop. My Mother and Father gone- forever? Lucerne Parkinson, whom I loved as an Aunt? Gone?
There were too many others for me to name- Marco and Celeste Zabini, Gregory Goyle, Sr., Madeline Nott. The parents of the First Years, most of whom I had never met. The parents and older siblings of those who had fought against my rule of Slytherin, though that had been long and long ago.
Too many. Too many.
Harry held me as the Slytherins wept. I think his tears mixed with mine, at one point.
Morning came in a haze of uncertainty and confusion. News came to the dorms that classes had been cancelled for the day, and where there may normally have been celebration, my Slytherins accepted the reprieve as their right. Harry never left my side- it seemed that wherever I turned he was with me, and I could not be angry with him.
To know that he would be there with me through whatever might happen was more of a balm on my soul than anything else could have been. My House had not protested his presence either, for which I was grateful. I do not think I would have been capable of separating Harry from me, and I am thankful that I didn't have to try.
Harry had stayed the night, leaving my side only when I retreated into my room. He slept on the couch- or so I suppose. But when I emerged from my room in the morning he was awake and speaking quietly to those who would talk to him.
Blaise and Pansy stayed by my side as well, and when Severus came to fetch me to the Headmaster after breakfast Harry and Blaise and Pansy accompanied me. For once, Severus didn't argue. As we walked, I began to be able to think about what had happened without tears. Harry and Severus were able to hold a civil conversation, and I smiled shakily as Pansy pointed the two of them out to me with a nudge and a gesture.
The walk seemed to take too long, though I know that it was only from my fear of what Dumbledore might tell me. Harry finished his conversation with Severus and dropped back to me, nodding at Blaise as my friend let Harry take his place.
"Snape says that Dumbledore probably doesn't know anything other than what they found out yesterday," Harry murmured, and I nodded to show that I had heard.
It was nothing other than I had expected, after all, but that they knew nothing new? Disappointment flooded through me. "Then why does he want to speak with us?" I asked, and Harry chuckled softly.
"They want to talk to you," he corrected, "we just happened to follow when we heard that Fudge was going to be present as well." I snorted, and Harry bit his lips to keep from laughing. "Shh, Draco," Harry said as he threw his arm around my shoulders and drew me close to him, "that's why I'm here." His face grew grim, and for a moment as I looked at him I saw someone to be frightened of. But the instant passed, and he looked back down at me. "I know how to handle Fudge." He pressed a kiss to my forehead as we neared the Gargoyle, and dropped his arm from my shoulders.
"I dare the bastard to try anything…"
I don't think I was meant to hear him, but his words warmed my heart. It was not a small thing to have Harry Potter firmly on your side of a war.
If holding onto one's temper was a virtue, I was the worst sinner. Every bone in my body demanded that I hex, jinx, or curse the horrible little power hungry gremlin out the window. Dumbledore was not helping, and between the two of them my soul deep ache for my family faded beneath the wave of anger that washed through me.
"…I'm terribly sorry for your loss, of course, but there is simply nothing we can do at the moment." Fudge's wobbly face frowned in pretend-commiseration, and my stomach tightened as my rage began to best me. "The public is frightened by the attacks, and launching a full-scale attack on He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would only inflame the public even more."
His small, greedy hands clenched together, and he shook his head. "No, I'm quite sorry."
Even as I knew that I would regret what was about to come from my throat, Harry stood. My attention was captured by him, as it always was, and for a brief moment I lost what I was going to say. And by then Harry had begun speaking.
"Excuse me, Minister." He began, his voice as distant and polite as mine could never have been. "Let me see if I understand you correctly." He waited until Fudge had nodded before going on, and came to stand next to me.
"You realize that this is the largest attack Voldemort-" he ignored the flinches and the glare from Severus with practiced ease- "has ever perpetrated." Fudge nodded, pleased that Harry seemed to be on his side. "And you understand that the final death toll equaled 67 dead adults and 14 dead minors." Fudge nodded again, but warily, as if Harry was a dog that may or may not be rabid.
"And in the course of the investigation, the Aurors have discovered the tortured and mutilated bodies of over two hundred Muggles." Fudge just watched Harry, eyes narrowed as he waited to see the point my love was trying to make. Merlin, I was waiting to see his point.
"Do you realize that the Daily Prophet and the Quibbler have already printed multiple articles concerning the attacks and the reason behind them?" Fudge nodded once, and I began to see where Harry was going with his points.
"And you still persist in believing that the public is largely uninformed about the attacks? Or the reason behind them?" Harry voice sank into a cold tone that he had never used before. "You, Minister, are a fool if you believe that. The public is enraged- even those who have been enemies with the deceased have sent letters of condolence and sympathy. The witches and wizards you think are helpless and stupid are about to rise up and hunt Voldemort themselves, you self-absorbed fool."
Dumbledore began to make placating gestures, but Harry sliced icy eyes over to his mentor and the Headmaster froze, then lowered his hands. The display of power was impossible to ignore, and my eyes glanced over to Blaise and Pansy by their own will. I was gratified to see that both of them were as shocked by it as I was. We exchanged wide-eyed glances, and turned as one to watch Harry as he tore through the balance of power in the Wizarding world.
"You will have Aurors interview the surviving families, Mr. Minister, and you will assign Aurors to patrol Hogwarts." Harry glared at Dumbledore once more, and the old man swallowed whatever he had been about to say. "Voldemort will more than likely try to follow through with his plan, and you will see to it that the rest of the Purebloods remain safe or I will know why." His voice was as hard as a diamond, and he watched Fudge with a Basilisk's stare.
The Minister could not move- indeed, no one in the room was moving as my Harry rewrote the rules of the game. For a moment I thought I saw approval in my Godfathers eyes, but it vanished too quickly for me to be sure.
"There have been too many deaths already, Mr. Minister," Harry said, and rested his hand on my shoulder. Fudge's eyes followed the motion, and ugly understanding lit in them. Harry's voice hardened at the sight, and with clipped words he added, "and there will be more unless you do something about it." I don't think I was the only one to realize the threat that lurked beneath those words.
Certainly Fudge heard them, and paled, his pasty skin shaking with ill-concealed fear. Harry smirked at the sight, and looked down at me for the first time since he had begun speaking. It was only for a moment, but he searched through me and somehow saw my approval of his actions. Without a word, Blaise and Pansy and I stood and followed as Harry made his way out of the office.
As the door closed behind us, Fudge's voice was clearly heard- "…that boy is a menace to civilized society, Albus! I demand that you exert some control over him!"
Harry's feral smile as Dumbledore began to placate the Minister was a balm to my soul.
The weeks passed slowly- Slytherins receiving letters of inheritance from lawyers and working on the plans for the funerals and the other Houses unsure of how to show their sympathy. When Friday came, I was more than happy for the weekend.
Classes had resumed that Wednesday, though my Slytherins were unprepared for the start of them. But where Hufflepuff and Gryffindor had a close relationship, Ravenclaw and Slytherin had a closer one, and no Slytherin lacked for any work in their classes. Though nothing could be proven, of course.
Harry stayed by my side as often as was possible- we did not share every class, though by now the school- indeed the world- knew that we were together.
A sigh shuddered through my body, and Harry's arm around my shoulders tightened in response. We were seated on one of the benches bordering the Great Lake, snuggled close to ward off the chill of the breeze. To his credit, he didn't ask what was wrong, but merely snuggled me closer to his side and slipped a hand into my hair.
"It will work out in the end, Draco."
I just huffed and continued watching the small ripples on the surface of the Lake, wondering if mermaids were the cause, or something different.
Harry shifted uncomfortably, and my attention snapped back to him. He never shifted. Aware of my gaze, he flushed.
"Listen, Draco. I need to go out of the country for a day or two, and I was planning on going this weekend." His voice was as gentle and unassuming as he could make it, but even so the thought of him leaving me was enough to rip my layer of calm.
"Why?" I asked, and my voice sounded distant. I wanted to force some warmth back into it, but at the moment there was nothing I could do. Harry flinched, and even as he responded I knew it was a lie.
"I- there's something… I have to do something for my family, okay?" He didn't wait for me to say that it was okay, and went on. "It might take a day or it might take two, but either way I'll be back by Monday."
"When are you leaving?"
"Um… in an hour," he whispered, and my body went rigid. I began to remove myself from his grasp, uncaring of the fact that he was trying to hold onto me, and stood in front of him.
"I appreciate your concern for me these past weeks, Potter," he stood at my use of his last name, but I backed away, "but obviously the loss of my entire family is no reason for you to stay with me through this hardship-" and my voice warmed with spite- "and even though you hate your family, they mean more to you than me." Harry came to me, but I turned and walked away, adding over my shoulder, "Have fun, Potter. I'll see you Monday."
I left him standing on the edge of the Great Lake, face agonized, but when I turned back to him he had turned away, staring across the Lake with an unreadable expression on his face. So I continued walking back to the Slytherin Common Room, alone.
At that moment, I wanted nothing to do with him.
By Sunday night I was worried enough to admit that I want him back, and I want him back now. Even if he doesn't explain what he did or why he left.
This morning Severus had approached me asking to speak to Harry. I think I surprised the man when I not only had no idea where he was, but that I also snapped at my Godfather. But Severus was not one to take offense when I was hurting, and let me be.
At lunch, however, Severus returned to me and pulled me to the side. Concerned, I searched his face for anything that might let me know what was going on. Slowly, the older man's nervous expression began to work on me and I knew, without a doubt I knew, that something was wrong. And that it had to do with Harry.
"Draco, do you know where... Harry... is?"
If I hadn't known something was wrong before he spoke, I damn well knew now. Severus never, but never, called Harry by his first name.
"He told me yesterday morning that he had to leave the country for a day or so to take care of something for his family…. I don't know what, or where." My voice shook, and Severus placed his hand on my shoulder to steady me.
"Easy, Draco." Severus paused, and pursed his lips, and I knew he was debating how much to tell me. But his lips tightened and he spoke again. "He is not with his Muggle relations, and he is not in England." Another pause. "Draco," he said heavily, "no one has heard from him since he left."
It was probably selfish of me to pull free from my Godfather and walk away, not saying a word to the man that had practically raised me, but at the time I couldn't think.
And now, in the Great Hall trying to eat dinner and watching the storm faithfully broadcast from the ceiling, my mind once again turned to Harry. Had I made it worse by my refusal to speak to him before he left? But he had lied to me- I was Slytherin enough to be able to tell when someone I loved lied to my face.
But why? That was what I wanted to know. Why had he run?
The storm was raging outside, and the enchanted ceiling blazed with lightning and shook from the thunder. But I realized that I could hear the thunder, and the building was shaking from the force, and that had never happened before.
More and more of the students raised their heads to watch the storm, and even though most of the Professors remained oblivious, Severus was also watching the ceiling, hand clasped against his left forearm.
But dinner finished quickly after that, and I escaped to my hideaway. Of course, Harry knew about it, so I was quite sure others also knew, but no one bothered me here. Maybe that was part of what made the room so enticing. No one could get to me.
The fire was still blazing, and I settled myself into the chair closest to the fire. Lightning flashed outside, the remnants of the storm fighting to the last, and summoned a book from my room. But I could not concentrate- Harry, as always, preoccupied my mind.
He could force the Minister of Magic to obey his will- and Fudge had assigned Aurors to Hogwarts- but I could make him flush with nervousness or… something else. There was something about Harry that just drew me to him, and even though he had left me so abruptly part of me craved his presence and demanded that I go and find him.
But I knew better than to try. At Defense Against the Dark Arts, I was very nearly useless. My informal training had been in rather the… opposite… direction, after all, and relearning old skills in new ways was harder than just learning new things altogether.
But Harry had always been patient with me- he had been tutoring me in his favorite subject just before he had left. My hand clenched on my knee, and I stared unseeing into the fire. Why had I pushed him away? My thoughts blew in circles around my skull, changing with my mood, and with a sneer I threw the tome across the room.
It landed with a satisfying thunk, and I smiled in approval.
As I turned back to the fire, it flared emerald green, and I stiffened in shock. There was a Floo connection to this room? But surely Harry would have said…
A figure tumbled out of the flames, and lay sprawled on the hearth rug. I reached for my wand, staring, as the fames returned to their natural color and lit the body on the floor. For a long second, neither I nor the body moved, but then a misbegotten sense of curiosity took hold of me. I slid out of my chair cautiously, and knelt next to the still body. With a gentle hand, I rolled it- him- onto his side, and froze.
For a moment, all was still.
"Harry?" I whispered, shocked, but then the state he was in registered and I grew frantic. "Harry! Harry!" I shook his shoulder, casting the only Healing Spell I knew dozens of times at his small and various wounds, hoping that Episky would work on the larger ones that I aimed my wand at.
"Draco?" a faint voice asked, and I nearly died of fright before realizing that it was Harry… that he was alive enough to speak.
"Shhh, Harry, shhh," I answered, almost sobbing in my relief that he could still speak, "I'm going to take you to Pomfrey, and she's going to fix you up." I think I babbled some more, but Harry's tiny smile killed whatever I was saying.
"What did you do, Harry? Where did you go? What happened to you?" The questions tumbled from my throat, and his tiny smile widened a little as he opened his eyes enough to watch me. His hand reached up, and cupped my cheek, his thumb wiping away the trail of tears I hadn't even known I was shedding.
"It had been long enough, Draco," Harry whispered, and I looked at him in confusion. He struggled for words, and I almost panicked as I thought he was struggling for air. But his next words made me still. "Voldemort had gone free for long enough… I had to do something. Watching you… was painful… and I realized that it was only when he was gone that you would go back to the Draco I fell in love with…" he trailed off, watching me, and I nodded stupidly as I scrubbed at my face.
"So I searched him out… told you I was going to visit family-" Harry chuckled, at some joke he had made that I didn't get, and went on. "He was surprised to see me- he wanted to chat… like what he had done was a novelty." Harry paused for air. "So I went along with it for a bit… pretending… and he believed me… It was easy after that…"
I let my right hand rest lightly on his chest, and he paused in his story. I couldn't think, could barely breathe, as the magnitude of what he was telling me began to sink in. Harry struggled to sit up, and I helped him, absentmindedly.
"He's dead?" I whispered as Harry sat in front of me, staring into his eyes, "the bastard is really dead?" Harry nodded, and I sat back on my heels in shock. After all this time, after all these deaths, Harry had done it. It had taken two days, and he was not far from the brink of death, but he had done it.
My Harry had killed off the greatest threat to the world since before we had been born, and he was still alive to tell the tale.
"Oh, Harry," I murmured, and he took my face in both of his hands and made me look at him. I think my tears were freely falling down my face by now, but I couldn't feel them. All I could feel was an exhilaration that couldn't b described, and I think Harry saw that in my eyes.
"I love you, Draco Malfoy." Harry said, his voice hoarse from shouting Merlin only knew spells, "and I killed Voldemort for you." His eyes bore into mine, the magnitude of his statement fading before the emotions I saw swirling in his eyes. He kissed my forehead, my cheeks, the tip of my nose and my eyes, and pressed a soft kiss to my lips.
I sighed against him, and his hands slipped down my back to tug me closer to him. I kissed him- he was filthy and covered in blood and ash and things I can't think about, and he was bleeding from a dozen small and large cuts, bruised almost past recognition, but I kissed him.
He had very nearly given everything for me… the only thing I could give him in return was all of me. But that would have to wait, I knew, and I pulled away from him, from my love.
He would have to go to Dumbledore and Pomfrey, and he would tell his tale thousands of times, and he would be lauded- rightly- as the Hero of our World, but in the end, he belonged to me. The world would think that they owned him, because they called him 'Hero' and heaped praise upon praise on him, but that would be a lie. He had done this for me, by his own admission, and I would be damned if I let him leave me again.
Harry looked into my eyes, searching, and I smiled. Let the world think what they would, because no matter what they said, the Savior of the Wizarding World belonged to Draco Malfoy, now until eternity.
EDITED: 13 Jan 2012