Pandora's Box by xErised


Within a writer's repertoire, there will always be one or two pieces that she spends a bit more time on to scour the prose with a fine-toothed comb and to craft the words to make it justthatlittlebitperfect- because she fiercely keeps it close to her heart.

This is one of them, I believe.

Excerpts from Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows belong solely to J.K Rowling.

Pandora's Box is a two-shot, with the next and last chapter being uploaded next Friday. It's rather long, so do get a drink, make yourself comfortable and enjoy.

In Hogwarts, there is one particular place that offers an encompassing panorama of the school. The floorboards might be a little worn, the tiles might be a little old and it might get a little cold there, but the Astronomy Tower has been privy to the endless histories and landmark events of Hogwarts.

At night, shadows, thoughtless, foul, formless and flirty, slither and climb across the walls of the turret, their drowsy breaths mingling and writhing with fronds of glittery moonlight. There are scrapings of spirit scythe to the soul, murder to the mind and hangman to the heart- smeared on the ground, a smattering, a sprinkle of pixie dust scattered here and there. A gossamer aura of perfectly breached secrets lingers, hovers and thrums, vibrant and glowing.

But most of us remember this place as where we might have first fallen in love.

The Tower beckons couples to it with romances of icing sugar white and candy love-heart pink, and this is where prancing lovers trade sighs for kisses and whispers for touches. And if you're lucky enough to be with your special someone when the most beautiful, the most brilliant stars are aligned flawlessly with the mythical prophecies of the planets, it's as though the world has stopped breathing, and there's no one in existence, no one at all but just youandhim youandhim youandhim-

"-always and forever, Draco, don't leave now, please-"

We're so close now.

Don't turn away.

"-fell to his knees beside Malfoy, who was shaking uncontrollably in a pool of his own blood."

Page 489, Half-Blood Prince

The nib of his quill hovered uncertainly above the parchment, a lone, oily globule of ink forming at the tip and it looked as if it was about to fall dripdropticktocksnipsnap- onto the paper, but Harry quickly scrawled his name at the end of the letter, pinpricks of doubt relentlessly burrowing itself all the way to the back of his mind. The brunette swallowed and was about to reach for an envelope, but he paused when his eyes snagged on Draco's name in the letter. He squeezed his hand into a fist, his tongue running jerkily across his dry lips as he remembered what had transpired in the bathroom two days ago.

At the very least, Harry owed the Slytherin an apology.

The Gryffindor's thumb slid and slipped on the corner of the envelope, a single forefinger tucked under the flap, but there was still hesitation, and slowly, very slowly, Harry exerted pressure on the edges of the letter, as though he was about to crumple it all up and pretend that nothing had ever happened-

"Morning, Harry. Wanna go down to the Owlery before breakfast? I've got a letter to send to Mum."

Harry jumped and swiftly shoved the letter in his pocket when Ron poked his head in.

"The Owlery? Yeah… um… sure. Just give me a moment," Harry said shakily, mustering up a half-smile. Ron nodded and retreated, leaving Harry alone with his thoughts once again. Frowning at nothing in particular, Harry decisively folded the wrinkled letter up and slit it in the envelope, determined not to spend another single second thinking apologizing when you've done something wrong is the right thing to do- about it.

With that, both sixteen-year-olds hurried towards the Owlery. While Ron was busy attaching his letter to the leg of his owl, Harry edged a shifty glance towards the redhead and guided Hedwig away from the fray.

He didn't know why, but he wanted no one to know about his correspondence with Malfoy.

Absolutely no one at all.

After fixing the letter to Hedwig's leg, Harry fed her some owl treats and petted her for a while, smiling gently when the delighted owl cooed and nuzzled into his hand. The brunette's mind drifted to Malfoy's reaction when he received the letter, curious as to how the other boy would respond. Would he reply with threats, streams of vituperation or dish up his usual trademark glaze of Malfoy sarcasm?

But it had been none of the above.

Two days had passed and Malfoy didn't even deign to give Harry an answer to his painfully penned letter. But Harry knew that Malfoy had gotten it, he knew it by that tiny telltale hike of his thin lips, that stain of a sneer when the blond regarded Harry over the rim of his goblet during meals. Harry knew it by those disparaging glances that Draco shot towards him during lessons, as though he was privately mocking him. And with each passing hiss of a smirk, each barbed iceberg in arctic grey eyes, boiling contempt mounted in Harry, until one night, he could no longer hold it in anymore.

Armed with his Marauders' Map, Invisibility Cloak and of course, his wand, Harry padded towards the Astronomy Tower. He stealthily climbed up the winding staircase to the summit of the Tower, wondering what he would find Malfoy doing up there.

A dark, filmy smog of a cloud trudged wearily across the cold night sky, and the hostile, harsh ghosts of moonlight streamed and slashed their way into the Tower. A meander of chilly breeze hushed across both boys and caressed their solitary forms, but yet, Draco Malfoy sat silently and so still that it was almost frightening, but Harry noticed the way the Slytherin's hand immediately snapped towards his wand when he realized that he was not alone.

A Potions textbook was laid open on his lap, but it was obvious that Draco was lost in the thistles of his own thoughts. His eyes were contemplative and pensive in the shadows, matching the turbulent, almost dangerous grey of the Hogwarts Lake beyond. Draco was all body, blood, bone and bandage, so pale, so white, so fragile that he looked like he would disintegrate into bits and pieces on the floor with just a single nudge.

"You didn't reply my letter," Harry accused, noxious anger fueling his voice with fire.

And it was only then that Draco angled his head marginally towards the intruder, but still keeping his body facing away from Harry. Harry saw the flint and the secrets woven behind Draco's eyes, saw the bitter parody of a smile playing on the blond's lips. Frostbite, courtesy of Draco's glare, oozed down Harry's face in thin rivulets as the Slytherin let out a derisive snort of laughter.

"How funny, Potter, I didn't get the impression that we were pen-pals," Draco pointed out, a harsh undertone simmering beneath his words.

"Look, Malfoy, I don't know if you actually read it, but I just want to… apologize for what I did to you in the bathroom that day. I didn't mean for it to happen," Harry admitted, his tongue stumbling a bit and his fingers clicking spasmodically while he spoke.

"Reckon that it'll make everything alright just by that single sorry, didn't you? It'll probably make you sleep better at night, probably give you some sort of self-gratification simply by saying that. Leave, Potter, get out and don't you dare come back!" Draco snarled, his voice spiraling upwards at the end.

Harry scowled furiously at the other boy and turned sharply on his heel, ready to leave things I've apologized, that's all- as they were, but froze when Draco's voice rang out again, scarily soft, deathly dull, almost pitying, an echo of a dry little snicker accompanying his creepily cryptic words.

"Don't get lost in heaven. You might not be able to get out."

It took two days for Draco to stop screeching at Harry whenever the stubborn brunette kept turning up at the Astronomy Tower every night.

"What are you doing here, Potter, I told you not to come back-"

"The last time I checked, this place doesn't belong to you. I have a right to sit here too, don't I?"

And it was then that Draco realized that it was no use fighting it, that Harry had dug his heels in. So he had done the next most logical thing; steered clear of the Tower for the next week, hoping that this… fad would have faded and he would have the Tower alone to himself again. Every single night, a wary Draco would hover uselessly at the top of the staircase and peek up the Tower, winding up feeling horrified and scandalized when a dogged Harry was still there. The Gryffindor had brought his schoolwork, books and parchment and the git even had the utter audacity to sit at Draco's favorite spot! A thoroughly incensed Draco had kicked Harry out there and then, plonked his bum right at his usual location, flipped open his books and pretended that the other boy did not exist.

Harry had only directed a wintry smile towards Draco and sat a far distance away from the blond.

Another three days passed before the both of them bothered to engage each other in (relatively) civil conversation.

"So… how was… school today?

"You really were a dimwit today, Potter. I can't believe that you screwed up today's potion. Only a complete idiot could make that sort of mistake-"

"… Piss off, Malfoy."

"No, you piss off."

It was surprising how both boys came to expect each other every night, like some unwritten rule had been translated and splayed out in the open. Harry had made it a habit to bring morsels of food that he had smuggled during dinner up to Draco-

"I didn't see you at dinner tonight. You must be hungry."

And then those daggered green eyes would sparkle dangerously behind the frames of his glasses, as though he knew exactly where Draco had gone. The blond's features would harden, and he had refused Harry's food initially, but as the days went by, he found himself accepting it, but not eating it in front of the brunette, until Draco had thrown caution to the wind and daintily bitten one or two mouthfuls of cupcake, a small part of him waiting for the eventual poison to set in.

Nothing happened.

It was a funny sort of trust, a progressive alleviation of suspicions that made Draco feel that there was no longer a need to safeguard his wand whenever Harry was around.

It was fairly astonishing how Harry's constant presence chilled and thrilled him at the same time. Sometimes Draco would feel that heavy little dip in his heart, that unwelcome vulnerability when Harry didn't turn up during some nights when did it get so quiet here, when did it get so lonely here, I don't know-, be it because of his nightly visits with Dumbledore or because he was having his own hesitations regarding his nightly rendezvous with Draco.

The looming war and their combative sides had been the wordless darkness that they fastidiously avoided, and both boys had kept mum about each other's private operations, but it wasn't long before Harry was done biding his time and had stepped ruthlessly on a landmine-

"I know where you go when you're not here with me, you're away at the Room of Requirement, I know Voldemort's asked you to do some sort of task-"

"That's none of your concern, Potter! You're here to keep an eye on me, aren't you? Probably sending nightly reports back to Dumbledore-"

"It's not like that at all! I want to help-"

"You want to help? Then leave, I don't want to see you-"

"We can protect you, Draco, we'll help you and your family-"

"Get out, Potter! I'm not converting over to your side!"

Draco's words had tasted like fine ashes in his mouth, the wells of shadows under his eyes stretched slick, sallow and sick. It was impossible, completely preposterous is it really, Draco, is it really- for Draco to forsake his family, because just thinking of the light side was like looking at life through the other side of the mirror-

but those who follow the darkness have no idea what the light can do-

They had given each other a wide berth for the next week, averting their gaze and dropping their heads whenever they crossed each other in the hallways of Hogwarts. Draco had successfully reclaimed his lair all to himself; the brunette didn't show up during that week. It was funny how cold, how quiet, how alone he felt when Harry wasn't around. The heat from the Gryffindor's body might not have been much, but it had been something, something-

So when Harry appeared out of the blue one night, his toes wriggling nervously in his shoes, schoolwork paraphernalia bundled in his arms and wavering irritatingly at the threshold of the Tower, as though he was asking Draco for permission to be let in, Draco strange how warm it suddenly was- had only given him a cursory glance and returned his attention to his essay, paying Harry no further heed.

Harry took that as acquiesce.

And it was like nothing had ever happened, not a single word was muttered about the week-long cold war, maybe it was because the both of them knew that it was something that had to be swept under the rug to preserve this cobweb fragility that supported this… dysfunctional relationship-

Was it even a relationship?

Draco didn't know.

But it was those little things, subtle gestures that Draco performed that made Harry stop and think twice-

"Where are you going, Potter?"

"I've run out of ink. I need to go back to the dorms and get more."

Draco had narrowed his eyes at the Gryffindor and let his breath out in an agitated huff. And then, the blond's hand had moved towards his own ink-well, and with his pinky finger extended, Draco inched his ink towards Harry. If the brunette hadn't been looking, he could have missed that single, loaded I don't want you to go- movement.

because there was someone else there with him-

and maybe, just maybe,

that was enough.

Whenever Harry shivered just a bit, Draco would smirk with disdain at the other boy, but not before shoving his own jacket towards Harry-

"Some hero you are, Potter. You can't even tolerate the cold."

"Not all of us are as cold-blooded as you- … What's this-"

"It's a jacket. You see, it's what some of us actually wear. Drape it across your shoulders, and you see those two openings there, yes, that's where you put your arms in-"

"Don't talk to me in that condescending tone! I know what it is, the thing is… why are you giving it to me-"

"Shut up and wear it, Potter. Don't argue with me."

It took another two weeks before Draco would let Harry touch him.

Harry's right hand had skulked towards Draco's left hand, before stretching his pinky finger out and wrapping it snugly around Draco's own pinky finger. Harry had held Draco's gaze throughout, and green and grey melded sweetly. But Draco didn't miss the way Harry's eyes flickered cautiously towards Draco's wand. The brunette's wand hand was occupied with holding Draco's hand, while Draco had free rein to use his right hand, whip his wand out and blast Harry to oblivion.

"Is it… okay?" Harry had whispered tentatively, his voice low and placid. And it seemed as though Draco was about to rebut with some stinging lash of a comeback, until he saw the way the moonlight shone down on their linked hands, gliding over the papery, sketched webs of the skin held between their spread fingers, and Draco's words stilted because there's something more rippling beneath the surface-

Emboldened by Draco's silence, Harry had licked his lips and grabbed Draco's hand fully, interlinking their fingers together. Draco had turned his face away from the Gryffindor, but still kept their hands joined.

you can continue running, but I'll always be there behind you, asking you to let me stop you, turn you round and hold you-

It might have just been a mischievous trick of light and shadow, but Harry might have caught a precious glimpse of rose coloring Draco's pale cheeks before the blond looked away, as though he was blushing-

And so they sit, opposing soldiers from the dark and light side, together yet divided, their backs towards the world, describable by every paradox.

"-the job he wants me to do isn't something that you need to be qualified for," said Malfoy quietly.

-Page 145, Half-Blood Prince

Draco would dream, elusive dreams that pulsated and tore apart whenever he tried to touch it. Sometimes he would wonder how a dream would feel between his fingertips, feel at the very tip of his tongue and the sizzling darkness behind his eyes. Would it sting if it was a nightmare? Would it soothe if it was a daydream, bursting with frills and flounces of rainbow, fairytale love?

But he didn't seem to have many sweet dreams nowadays.

In his dreams, the many faces of death glorious liberation-, signed, sealed and delivered, entertained and danced in his mind, black inky messes of destruction everywhere. He dreamt of fractured coffins suffocating in mounds of freshly dug earth, and dead birds, dead, demented, petrified doves with their wings broken and folded excruciatingly under their limp bodies, those very same birds that he had shipped through the Vanishing Cabinet-

Sometimes, Draco would dream of his parents.

And that's when the crying would begin.

His mother would be dressed in coiling, serpentine spider webs, his father would be clad in shadows that taunted and tempted shhh, broken tongues held hostage- Draco with coaxing melodies, singing lullabies that made Draco weep the apple of my eye, but I'm sorry if I turned you blind- and spelling out bedtime stories that made him bleed. The bleakest gloom would twine around them like how a python would strangle its prey. Their screams would linger in the air like the thickest fog, brutal, barbaric hatred slicing their stomachs, forming filthy fangs and tapered talons. Their lips were like blood strangled from cherries, and their eyes would be studded with crystals, gleaming out from vacant, hollow sockets, like the surface of a pool of still water where nothing could trigger a wave except for a heartbeat of avadakedavra!-

They were shackled to the jails of sick sadistic pleasure in which only Voldemort had the key, acting as pawns in a deadly game of chess where Draco would have to be the one to yell checkmate, if not, if not-

The last thought before Draco juddered awake would be that the blood of his parents was a bit too red for his liking.

His tears, as rare as hand-picked gems, were splashed all over his cheeks like the faintest plague, and a gulping Draco buried his head at the crook of Harry's neck, sobbing they can't die, they can't, please- with winterwickedweariness that threatened to shatter his body into a thousand irreparable aching pieces.

The Slytherin didn't know when exactly his formal demeanor had splintered and slid off his shoulders like an old, discarded cloak, nor did he know when the transition from Potter to Harry because he's strong enough for the both of us- happened.

But he was there, there with him, and that was all that mattered.

"Smile. Smile for me," Harry whispered, a touch of a plea in his murmur. Draco's tears dwindled to a stop, and he viciously swiped at his eyes, angry at himself for breaking down yet again in front of the other boy, but Harry had never minded crying doesn't mean weakness, it means that you're alive-.

With that, Draco grudgingly dredged up an old smile that hung dully on his scarred lips. Harry shushed the blond comfortingly and carefully skimmed the train-tracks of tears off Draco's cheeks, tears that burnt like unfulfilled wishes and spluttered like dead stars on Harry's thumbs-

"Go back to sleep," Harry encouraged softly.

"No," Draco said staunchly, shivering when he could still feel the nightmares crawling on his skin like ants. He didn't want to return the realm where death plied its trade at every corner, where he had to play referee in the wrestling match of dreams versus reality, no, he didn't want to go back to sleep at all, he didn't want to be alone with his thoughtsfearsfeelings, and because I can have time with you alone when everyone else is asleep-

Harry calmly smoothed Draco's messy hair from his forehead, reached up and slid Draco's jacket it smells like him, smells like vanilla and blond- off from his own shoulders and wrapped it around Draco.

we're going to build a castle in the sky and it's only going to be big enough for just me and you-

Harry licked his dry lips, snaked a hand up to Draco's sleeve and pushed it up, exposing the blond's Dark Mark in the pale, howling moonlight. Harry growled and yanked Draco to his lap. With beads of alarm gathering in his chest, Draco recoiled and tried to wrench his arm free from Harry's grip, but the brunette's arms were still encircled protectively around Draco's body.

Harry had flinched when he caught sight of Draco's Dark Mark during the first few times when the blond had accidentally let his sleeve slip, but now, it was as though Harry had been desensitized to it, and he even thought that there was some sort of macabre beauty in the Mark-

With an arm twined around Draco's waist, Harry let his other hand fall to Draco's palm, his calloused fingers tracing the delta of veins that danced and burbled under Draco's wrist, his pulse hissing and humming beneath his skin, and Draco could only watch, his eyes wide as full moons and his heart hammering with consternation as the Gryffindor tip-toed his fingers up, up, all the way up to the Mark-

in this chaos, we found safety-

Harry's fingernails twirled coquettishly around the meandering outline of the snake, scratching lightly on the pattern of the diamante scales, ghosting over the snake's flat head, the slit eyes that were alive with fury, and its forked, undulating tongue-

together we'll dance in the dark-

Next, Harry trailed his touch over the swollen, protuberant skull, over the gaunt, hollowed ridges of its sunken cheekbones, over the inhumane nostrils, snarling over the rows of straight, glinting teeth that adorned the skull's gaping maw of horror-

my skin's soaked with your scent, it refuses to come off no matter how hard I scrub-

And it was only then that Harry dared to meet Draco's horrified gaze-

Draco almost knew what Harry was going to do, but yet, he stayed silent and still, completely and utterly transfixed and entranced by Harry's stare, which was as intense as the glare of a dozen incinerating suns-

Harry dipped his head and touched the very tip of his tongue on the edge of the viper's own tongue.

Draco had to stifle a gasp.

your angel wings are falling apart-

Draco clenched and fisted his hand tightly, the tendons on his arm standing out like cords of rope, but Harry only continued his assault on Draco's Dark Mark, his eyes closed, his head still lowered and his lips brushing, sweeping, dashing against the snake's distorted body, each lick sending Draco squirming in a formidable cocktail of pleasure and agony.

I will hide you when it's too much-

The Slytherin's thighs tensed and squeezed on Harry's robes, crumpling and wrinkling them. In response, Harry only pulled the other boy closer to his chest, his fingers clutching the blond's hip, his head bobbing up and down as his tongue thrusted and sucked alternatively on the Mark. His licks, nibbles and bites had taken on a blaze of urgency, his lips and teeth moving in an almost animalistic frenzy. Draco clamped his other hand on his mouth, his moan of hysteria because this wasn't just touch, this wasn't just kissing, no, this was on a whole new plane altogether- resonating in his cupped palm, his head tipped backwards, exposing his throat in a show of captured vulnerability and his drunken grey eyes rolling backwards into his head. With his other hand, Harry grabbed Draco's hand and interlaced their fingers together in an almost, yes, almost- display of affection-

just don't make me disappear-

His breath was hot and heavy, his lips moist and tingling as Harry gave Draco's Mark one last flicker of his tongue. He lifted his head, surveying Draco's expression. Draco's cheeks had a heavy tinge of scarlet on them and his eyes were muddy puddles of grey that reflected ebbing shock and fluid desire. The blond shakily raised a hand and slid the pads of his fingers from Harry's temple to his chin, and Harry couldn't help but bask hopelessly in his touch.

Flitters of hesitation speckled Draco's eyes, and the boy exhaled ponderously, as though he was of two minds whether or not to-

let me-

Pale fingers shifted higher up, until they hovered in the air away from Harry's scar. Harry closed his eyes and arched his face up, ruthlessly forcing Draco to touch his scar. With his features alight with something akin to awe, Draco bit back a gasp while his fingers wandered and explored the raised surface and the violently sharp angles of the brunette's lightning-shaped scar. Draco ran his tongue inside his mouth and leant in, pressing his lips lightly onto Harry's scar-

corrupt you.

"Go back to sleep. I'll be here. With you," Harry murmured, his voice husky, scratchy and suffused with emotion. Harry reached up and sheathed the both of them in Draco's jacket vanilla vanilla vanilla nothing but vanilla-, and they were so close, so close that Draco could almost feel the beating of Harry's heart against his own-

Draco knew they were living on borrowed warmth, and it wouldn't be long, oh no, it wouldn't be long at all before the tightrope drawn as thin as the wick of a dying candle- that Draco was trembling on would fade into the side of bitter disappointment or to the side of blissful oblivion.

How can you fall in love with someone you barely know?

Was it even love?

Harry didn't know.

It had been nothing like that in the beginning. Harry had only wanted to keep tabs on Draco, delve a bit deeper into the fog of secrets that marooned Draco, but it had mutated into something more, so much more until he no longer knew what was right or wrong anymore, a massacre of common sense do you want to be crucified or crowned-

I didn't come here to hold you-

now I can't stop-

His dalliances with the dark was sinking Harry further into the mire, and with every smile, every touch that Draco bestowed onto Harry, the blond was spooling him deeper and deeper into his skillfully crafted web of feigned deceit is it a trick, is it all a set-up with Voldemort, I don't know, I don't know anymore-

"Why are you here, Potter?"

"So… so we can fall apart together."

Sometimes Harry would count the knobs of spine on Draco's back I wonder how your smile tastes- when the Slytherin was asleep, and sometimes Harry would notice that Draco's smile was just a bit broken, a bit forced, like plastic from a bubble doll I wish I could cradle your smile in my hands, fix it, put it right-

And sometimes, Draco would whisper "the stars are beautiful tonight." in that wistful little voice that tugged on Harry's heartstrings, and Harry would have to bite his tongue, because he might just let slip "just like you."

The Gryffindor found night and day strangely disconnected, as if he had one foot in the daily humdrum of school life and the other on their clandestine visits with nothing in between for support.

The secret looks that Harry and Draco exchanged during meals at the Great Hall bridged the gap. There would be this steep intake of breath when the glimpse shared between them turned into a stare, that crystal-light, split-second connection that tingled of the best-kept secrets that sent Harry's mind in a whirl, that look that belonged to two special people that were meant to be together, but it would always, always, always be Draco who broke the precious, tenuous linking of their eyes-

I wonder if you can hear my eyes blink iloveyouidon'tknow, iloveyouidon'tknow-

The brunette was trapped in Draco's inescapable snare of blizzard grey, and every single time whenever their eyes sought out each other in desperation, Harry would seize the chance to take a harried tour of Draco's head, see his thoughts form do you feel anything at all, tell me, do you feel, do you feel?-, see the things that Draco never said. It was like a loving spell of the sweetest denial, and whenever Draco tore his gaze away, everything would click back into painful regularity and Harry would hear the rise and fall of conversation, hear the utilitarian clinking of utensils, see that they were at the Great Hall and not at the Astronomy Tower living on each other's stolen breaths I don't want it I can't bear it, look at me again, Draco, look at me again, please!

"Harry, mate, your pie's going cold," Ron said warily. He knew that there was something gravely wrong with Harry; his bed was rarely slept in nowadays and Ron would sometimes catch Harry dozing off during classes.

"Just because you have the appetite of a monster, Ronald, doesn't mean Harry has one too," Hermione said, sniffing loftily at the redhead. It wasn't long before Hermione and Ron were sniping at each other again, with Lavender's name thrown in a few times for good measure.

Harry jerked out of his reminisces and speared his fork tartly in his pie, leaving it upright. He downed his juice in one gulp, fighting to keep the discouragement that he felt whenever Ron and Hermione were arguing over matters that were so trivial compared to the impending war that was wedged in between them like a death sentence because no one else understands the gravity of the situation except for me and him-

Harry hotly shoved himself out from his seat, grabbed his bag and stormed out of the Hall.

At the Slytherin table, Draco serenely finished his own goblet of juice and dabbed at his lips with his napkin, his astute eyes still lingering on the bickering Ron and Hermione and the troubled looks that they shot to Harry's retreating back.

Without a single word, the blond got up coolly and left the table, his tread decisive and certain.

Unlike his so-called two best friends, Draco knew exactly where Harry was going.

"… Harry grinned down at Ginny… A long walk in the grounds seemed indicated…"

Page 499, Half-Blood Prince

Draco narrowed his eyes as he caught sight of Harry and Ginny strolling around the Lake. The aura of happiness wafting around the redhead was like ectoplasm, and Draco hissed venomously under his breath, his fingers tensing and gripping the banister of the Astronomy Tower with more pressure than was necessary.

It was at that moment that Harry turned his head disconsolately towards the direction of the Astronomy Tower, and Draco could see that Harry was startled to see a figure clad wholly in black scrutinizing both Gryffindors from his perch.

we'll simply count down to ten-

Harry hesitated and dislodged his hand from Ginny's, and making sure that the girl wasn't noticing, the brunette pinioned Draco's eyes with his own and nodded imperceptibly.

It was funny how the resentment that had been curdling in Draco's heart suddenly evaporated altogether.

let's just continue to play pretend-

Placated, Draco tilted his head and nodded back, his grasp on the banister relaxing almost immediately, the sides of his mouth hiking up in an arrogant smirk.

During the days, you might think you have him.

But when night comes around,

He's mine.

His lips were on his.

Draco found himself slammed and pushed mercilessly up against the wall of the Astronomy Tower one fateful night. The spines of his books crinkled while they fell down to the floor one by one, just like soldiers at the face of defeat. His eyes held as wide as they could go, Draco let out a squeak of protest that Harry swallowed as the brunette mashed their lips together, his breaths shallow and furious.

kiss me until we run out of breath-

Draco shook his head, his hands fastening on Harry's elbows, trying to push him away, but Harry held on, his eyes scrunched tight act like nothing's wrong- and his eyebrows knotting together. Tremors of heat radiated from the Gryffindor, the subtle language of his lips begging Draco to let him in, his kiss trying to keep Draco's dissents from coming out touch like glitter and tongue like candy-

kiss me all night don't ever let me go-

And it was then that Harry opened his eyes, and Draco saw the unquenchable flames of desire drowning in the green that was like the most delectable poison, the thoughts of both boys captured in perfect counterpoint. It wasn't long before Draco's yanks and pushes faltered, his fingers arching and clawing on Harry's forearms, until the blond realized that he was holding on for dear life-

this world is sick so kiss me quick-

After a tick of delirious hesitation, Draco relented and parted his lips slightly, his own breathing and heart-rate speeding up, the force of his hands weakening fractionally, but the blond didn't kiss Harry back-

something that wasn't really legal-

It was as though liquid ice was pressed to his fingertips and diffusing upwards, suffocating every nerve under his skin. Draco let out a small, painful sob and firmly threw Harry off, his head reeling with what had just happened. Instead of the warmth of Harry's lips, Draco's mouth was suddenly throbbing with chords of cold, passionless air. The blond's thoughts were vacillating between What He Couldn't Have and What He Wanted-

if I kiss you back,

will you taste like the dreamiest paradise,

or the broken glass of the accident that never happened-

And there was nothing left except for the thick, eerie silence that pervaded.

can you outrun your desires-

"I can't, we can't, no, no more, Harry, please-" Draco whispered wearily as he stared unseeingly at the lion on Harry's Gryffindor robes and the snake on his own Slytherin robes-

the lion and the snake-

is that little thin line between love and hate-

"I need you, I need you, Draco. What we have, what we have between us, you can't fight it! I'll do everything that I can to protect you-" Harry said beseechingly, his palms facing skywards as he advanced towards the other boy, but the blond shied away, his back pressed towards the wall. Draco choked back a whimper it's a pointless hope in hell- and inched along the length of the wall, his tread shaky and reluctant, like how a suicidal person would shuffle on the ledge of a skyscraper-

your words are rolling off the tip of my tongue-

"You don't understand, no one understands!"

It would be so easy to touch his own lips with Harry's, so easy to propel their relationship to a whole new dimension altogether. Some nights when Harry was asleep, Draco would trace the shape of the brunette's lips tentatively with a finger, his pale cheeks invaded with soft clouds of pink blush, wondering how it would be like to kiss him-

I'm giving too much away-

No matter how much Draco tried to still the tumult raging in his brain, he couldn't. So with the tiny cacophony of the raindrops the soundtrack of his rejection and his feet stumbling clumsily over the jagged shards of a heartbroken Harry scattered all over the floor, Draco turned on his heel and fled.

"After the war, I'll come and find you, Draco. I'll find you and I'll never let go and we'll be together, properly! I'll promise you that, just don't go, Draco! Draco, please!"

don't whisper that it's the end-

It was Harry's last attempt at contact, exactly like how a dying, drowning man would grapple hopelessly towards the heavens for a glimmer of a rescue rope-

your touch keeping me whole-

Draco sat alive, but not living- in the Slytherin dorms. Night brought its shuddering ether of silence along with the darkness that haunted. There was no doubt that Harry was at the Astronomy Tower right now, wishing that Draco was in his arms yet again with the hope of the deranged, but Draco hadn't stepped foot in the Astronomy Tower for the past two weeks.

And he wasn't going to start.

The Slytherin held the crinkled letter from Harry in his hands, his fingers rubbing the edge of the parchment between his fingertips. His troubled, dejected grey eyes had been wavering permanently back and forth, back and forth, as though it was some sort of wild, forsaken dream, because within those four words, a hundred other words were nestled in between-

"Come back to me."

There was no signature.

There was no need for one.

Draco had bottled up this emotion and kept it so meticulously concealed in the attic of his heart, but there was no denying how the brunette had cut and dissected your mouth says another thing, your heart's screaming something else and your head doesn't seem to make much sense it's impossible to think but there's no point fighting it because there's something that makes you keep going back to him, pain and happiness at the same time, himhimhim, something with its own irreversible, undeniable pulse- the blond's façade with an almost heart-stopping precision and skill.

do you promise to-

love me-

until my heart stops?

But Draco had had enough of toeing your heartbeat is like a death knell to me- the line. His plans were being derailed, and he knew that if he ever returned to the Tower, there would be no more turning back.

let's play a game.

can you match the image to the sin?

So with that thought kept locked in his mind, a detached Draco on the surface, ignoring the chaos reigning in his heart- pulled out a fresh piece of parchment and his quill and began to pen his reply of seven words. When he was done, Draco impassively folded it up, making sure the corners met perfectly at the angles. The blond then placed it in an envelope and sealed it, his movements strangely jerky and staccato.

No names were mentioned.

"I was never yours to begin with."

However, embellished amidst those seven words, the tremor in Draco's handwriting was the fingerprint that sold him out.

"'He ought to know Malfoy's celebrating-'(on the Vanishing Cabinets being repaired)."

Page 507, Half-Blood Prince

The stars in the sky no longer seemed to twinkle and shine like they were supposed to; they seemed to droop sadly and emit feeble waves of light against the velvety fields of dark sky. Depressing parcels of night mist drifted and swirled wearily amongst the fallen, yet floating clouds.

But still, there was a figure splayed on the floorboards of the Tower, a silent, unruffled silhouette that looked horrendously ghostly in the spotlight of the pale moonlight. Draco stayed hidden in the shadows until he could hear Harry's steady, almost hypnotic breathing, every rise and fall of his chest. With his lip bitten in wariness, Draco slowly nudged his blond head out from the darkness and took a single step forward, his eyes still glued on the motionless form of the brunette.

He approached the Gryffindor cautiously, alert and careful not to disrupt Harry from slumber. The blond swallowed why are you still waiting for me to come back- and licked his lips discreetly. Draco sank down to his knees and tenderly smoothed the fringes of black locks away from Harry's forehead, revealing the other boy's scar.

Draco paused the day we met was like a hit-and-run- for a long while, his fingers twitching erratically, as though he could still feel the scar whispering its tale of grief and hope beneath his fingertips-

But this time, Draco managed to rein himself in and clasped his hands tightly behind his back. He closed his eyes and breathed in lungfuls of Harry's scent, making sure to keep that heady mixture of soap and that very essence of Harry imprinted in his brain. Grey eyes travelled down Harry's frame and widened when he realized that Harry was still draped in Draco's old jacket. The Slytherin let out a long-suffering sigh and patiently tucked Harry's flung-out arms under his jacket, tutting under his breath about Harry catching a cold.

Harry grunted drowsily and rolled unceremoniously towards the blond.

Draco reared back like a startled pony.

After ascertaining that Harry had dropped off back to uninterrupted sleep, Draco blinked and shifted closer towards the brunette. His hand fumbled under his jacket for Harry's wrists, and the blond let his fingers linger you are my sickness- aimlessly there on the inside of Harry's wrists. It had comforted Draco whenever he felt the soft, constant throbbing of life under Harry's skin because it had meant that there was someone there with him, someone that was alive and not a figment of macabre imagination that had carelessly escaped from the Reaper's domain.

Draco exhaled heavily and suppressed the revolving facets of conflicting emotions you're my borrowed heaven and I don't want to return you back to the gods, I'll learn how to kiss you, I'll try to love you, I'll lick your wounds until they heal- that bombarded him. Draco's eyelids fluttered closed like a trusting child as he tilted his face towards Harry's, his lips hovering I'll pretend that you're kissing me, because it's all I've been thinking about, something that I can't confess- a breath's inch away from Harry's own.

But the Slytherin didn't move let's just call it an almost-kiss- any nearer.

It didn't matter, nothing mattered at all because everything that was between them was going to be over soon. This was going to be the last time that the both of them would be in friendly territory. Draco had had his fist closed tightly around his own heart, but Harry had managed to worm in between the slits of his fingers with alarming accuracy. With a last waning look at Harry, Draco choked back a tiny, painful sob and dislodged himself from the brunette, wrenching his gaze away from the other boy in the process. He straightened up and retreated from the solitary form, his heart walking wounded along with the deniable lurch one step forward, two steps back- of his legs. Unable to take it anymore, Draco covered his mouth with his hand and lunged up to a stumbling run, his feet slapping hard against the ground.

Because with every forlorn, despondent swing of the frosted pendulum of death(eaters), the end was nearing.

And it won't be a happy one.

"Draco is someone 'very capable of compartmentalizing his life and his emotions.'"

-J. K. Rowling

Draco Malfoy had a new persona, and he was donning it like an exquisite, newly-bought mink coat.

Tonight will be all about control.

His stormy grey eyes razor with intent, Draco, with his hands fastened behind his back and his expensive designer shoes beating a steady rhythm on the floor, made his rounds at the summit of the Astronomy Tower, exactly like how an overseer would supervise his invisible slaves.

Tonight was the night that his star will shine brighter than Potter's. Tonight, it will be his name that was uttered in reverent tones Killed Dumbledore, he did-, tonight will be the time when he would redeem honor among thieves- his family name.


That was all that mattered to Draco.

It was in his blue, tainted blood, hissing and sputtering like the most venomous serpents in his veins, swimming across his vision like ghosts of the past, present and the future.

"-to watch over my son, Draco, as he attempts to fulfill the Dark Lord's wishes-"

"Mother didn't like the idea of me going to school so far away-"

"You can't land my father in prison!"

Draco thought of his parents whose caged lives he held in the heart of his palm, he thought of the grotesque display of glee that Aunt Bellatrix, that unhinged woman that was so bent on her own private ritual of revenge, would shower upon Draco when he finally succeeded in his mission.

Suddenly, his foot jarred across his jacket that lay neatly folded on the floor.

Draco only gave it a cursory glance, and his leg twitched, as if he wanted to simply ignore it and continue, but the blond frowned slightly, bent down and retrieved it, a bit of his confident composure crumbling like sand crunched in a fist.

The Slytherin contemplatively turned it over in his slim, cold fingers with a sort of clinical detachment. As though the fabric of the jacket was steadily channeling waves of it into him, Draco could feel nibbles of insecurity you are so fragile and thin, standing trial for your sins- and fear plunging into his chest, and before he could help himself, Draco brought the jacket up to his nose and breathed deeply, his heart quivering like a badly choreographed dance. Harry and he had been like two unfortunate shipwrecks that had crashed during the night, and it had been Draco who had picked himself up and dusted himself off first really, Draco, really?. Draco clenched his eyelids together tightly, remembering how Harry's arms had felt encircled around his body, how Harry's lips had tasted-

I want to run-

but only far enough for you to miss me-

Draco sharply jerked himself out of that fancy love reverie and began to berate himself for being so weak, so useless to actually spill his emotions and feelings all over the place like some lovelorn no, I don't love him, I never have and I never will!- teenage girl. He didn't wear his heart on his sleeve; he had the ability to wring it back fast when he was at risk of losing it, but-

you've already lost it.

Draco snarled hotly and dropped the jacket, letting it fall to the floor in a crumpled, dusty heap. As if to add insult to injury, Draco stamped hard on the jacket and ground the heel of his shoe spitefully into it, his features hardened into an ugly mask of stoicism and dullness.

The blond's blood debt was buried high up in the clouds, the dead, mangled corpses of his imagination deriving their satisfaction from disaster, oh-so-clever in feathering and festooning their nests of horror and song-and-dance. They unfurled and uncoiled like the filthiest, fattest maggots, mocking and rasping in the depths of his ears, saying this is all you need, this is all you need, and with each passing night, the Dark Mark tightened, twirled and twined around his arm like secondhand smoke, smoke in which Draco shared an innate addiction with-

Cold November eyes flickered to Draco's family ring, a thin, sleek strip of unfeeling metal, studded with a single diamond, planted soundly almost cutting blood circulation- on his finger.

It was time to let the Death Eaters in.

"His mouth was open, his wand hand still trembling. Harry thought he saw it drop by a fraction-"

Page 553, Half-Blood Prince

It had been a love that had lit up the whole sky like the Dark Mark.

So it meant that their moonlight liaisons hadn't meant a single thing to Malfoy. Harry felt pathetic, betrayed and used, so downright silly for spending every other night in the Astronomy Tower, hoping beyond hope that he could see Draco again, touch him again, comfort him again. Harry had been holding onto the rippling dreams of the blond so tightly, safeguarding Draco's memory within his cupped hands. Harry wanted to wrap Draco around himself in a warm, lovely little ball, where they would doze off into peaceful slumber. The blond had changed things that no one could change before, from the rhythm of Harry's beating heart to the intensity of his breaths.

To Harry, being with Draco was like dipping a toe into the fiery bastions of hell, but it felt, oh God, it felt like heaven to the brunette. It was a nirvana that only the two of them understood, but both of them were equally and separately lost in the slippery tombs of secrets that they both shielded. It was like butterflies flitting permanently in Harry's system whenever he touched Draco, like liquid, shimmering adrenaline coursing gently in his blood like the most potent toxin, and everything, everything everything's a mess of nerve endings bubbling with molten fire that made Harry feel so alive, and it doesn't matter, it's like there's nothing on the face of the earth justyouandhim youandhim, that's why you stay in your cozy place with him, your body spirals out of control, your legs can't stand upright anymore because the floor's all over the place, you can't sleep anymore because you're analyzing him and his bittersweet subliminal messages, and it's like, it's like two feelings that have been softly dissolved together to make a whole new emotion altogether, an aftertaste that no one can put into words, no one except for youandhim-

But it had meant nothing to the Slytherin.

Draco had pushed Harry away time and time again, deploying a scarecrow in the gritty moors of love to scare Harry off, but the Gryffindor had seen if I had been a bit more persuasive, a bit more forceful, could I have brought him back, could I have saved Dumbledore's life, tell me, could I, could I?- through it.

Harry couldn't come to terms with Dumbledore's death and the sudden, full-stop flight of Draco. If only he had known the true intents of cold-blooded murder that Draco harbored, if only-

drop the dagger and lick the blood on your hands because-

when we bleed we bleed the same.

A devastated Harry slumped against the pillar like a marionette whose strings had been sliced where I held you, where I held you, Draco, or have you forgotten- in the Astronomy Tower, and he cried tears like diamonds-, he wept with sobs that threatened to break his body into aching shards. He cried for the death of Dumbledore, cried for Draco this love, oh this love that kills-

His hand stumbled upon Draco's old jacket and Harry lifted it up, letting out another heartfelt sob when he saw the mashed footprint of Draco's shoe on the material. Squalls of fury and grief welled up in Harry, and without thinking, Harry whipped out his wand and set your smile your saving grace your sin it's all devil in the detail- the jacket on fire.

This love had pushed round bricks and sneaked through solidly locked doors, seeping through the crevices. Harry had gathered up his courage and apprehensively whispered a "did you miss me?" to Draco one fateful night, and Draco had blinked in astonishment at the brunette before tilting his head to one side and nodding shyly at Harry.

Harry had thought you're a beautiful struggle- that that had meant something, thought that if he had waited every night for nothing, something might have happened.

And Harry could only sit mutely and watch, with the whites of his eyes gleaming in the darkness like excavated gold, as the flames, slashes of searing orange, jumped, gulped, belched and hopped amongst the threads and stitches of the jacket. They angrily devoured it, the edges of the sleeves curling in resignation while they crumbled beyond recognition. And Harry felt like he was drowning in the heat too, that he himself was withering you hold the broken pieces of my soul in your hands, I wonder how you'll make me whole again- like a slow-motion accident, along with the dying jacket-

And it was strange, it was funny how Harry didn't know how long he stayed there, all alone in the Astronomy Tower with only night for company, dirty, rusty tears streaming down his tortured face until Ron and Hermione came running to save him from himself.

this is why,

some love stories,

have blood on them.