"Come on, Harry!"
Groaning and slumping his shoulders, Harry trudged along behind his friends as they walked to the lake, always a few yards behind them. How could Hermione still be excited about studying after all they'd been through the year before? The three of them were headed toward their usual spot under the beech tree, which they knew would provide adequate shade from the bright spring sun. Yet as they came closer, Harry noticed that someone else had beaten them there.
It was Draco Malfoy. He was leaning against the trunk of the tree, legs bent at the knees and looking at something in his hand. "Er... guys? " Harry said. "Malfoy's in our spot."
"We'll sit somewhere else," Hermione called cheerfully over her shoulder.
But they didn't need to sit anywhere else because as they approached, Malfoy packed up his things and made off back toward the castle, taking the long way so as to avoid the Trio.
As Harry dropped his pack in the shade under the beech tree, he noticed something lying in the grass. Curious, he bent down and picked up the flat, rectangular object. It was a translucent stone, its edges uneven but smooth, as if it had split off from a larger piece and lain in a running creek for hundreds of years. There was writing engraved in a strange script all around the sides, and as Harry held the stone in the palm of his hand, a lambent glow began to swirl inside it.
Harry heard a gasp and looked up to see Hermione staring wide-eyed at the stone, mouth hanging open.
"What is this?" he asked.
Hermione came closer to inspect the curious object, but didn't take it from Harry. "It looks like a Stone of Abandoned Destinies," she said. "It shows you what would be happening at this very moment had you made different choices in the past. They're very rare."
Harry examined the stone again with furrowed brows. He ran his thumb across the smooth surface. Was this what Draco had been holding before he left? From the distance, Harry had thought the Slytherin had been looking at a small, framed picture.
"Do you reckon Malfoy left it?" Harry asked.
"It's likely," Ron said. "Can't think of anyone else who's got more money and regrets. Probably didn't like what he saw, though."
"It's an expensive item to just leave behind," Hermione said. "Even for Malfoy."
Harry continued to stare at the swirling light, drawn to its secrets. "Maybe it fell out of his bag," he said. "I'll take it and give it to him later." He noticed Ron and Hermione exchange a worried glance as he dropped it into his own bag.
"Harry, you're not thinking about using it, are you?" Hermione asked. "There's no use dwelling on what could have been."
Harry avoided her searching gaze. "I won't look into it." His tone settled the matter. Hermione and Ron looked at each other again, but neither of them said anything.
Harry sat down on the grass next to Ron and stared at the lake while Hermione read and Ron flipped absentmindedly through his books. The Stone of Abandoned Destinies seemed to be calling to him from his bag. Hermione was right—he'd do better not to use it. Just like the Mirror of Erised, it would show him things that can't be and keep him from enjoying life.
With a sigh, Harry slid into a reclining position and took his D.A.D.A. book out of his pack. It was insane that even after defeating Voldemort, he was still required to pass his N.E.W.T.s before being accepted into the Auror training program. Damn the Ministry and their stringent rules. There was nothing Harry could do, though, so he resigned himself to studying.
By the end of the day, Harry couldn't remember a single word of what he'd reviewed. He had flipped through his books and scanned his notes, but curiosity had kept him unable to focus on anything. After all of his dorm mates had finally gone to sleep, Harry took the Stone of Abandoned Destinies out of his pack and pulled shut the curtains around his bed. It fit comfortably in the palm of his hand and began to glow as soon as he curled his fingertips around the edges.
Watching the light swirl slowly counterclockwise, Harry thought about which of his past actions or choices he wanted to inquire about. The one that came to mind immediately was too painful, but there was something else that had weighed on his mind since his first year at Hogwarts.
Harry refocused his gaze on the translucent screen. "What if I hadn't asked the Sorting Hat not to place me in Slytherin?"
The swirling light slowed and faded, and in its place appeared an illuminated image, almost like a miniscule television screen. At first, he only saw a room. The silver and green color scheme lead him to assume that it was a Slytherin dormitory. The picture then slowly moved to the other side of the room until Harry could see a single bed. It must have been the Head Boy or Head Girl's room. Harry's jaw dropped open when he realized that someone was having sex on the bed.
The image zoomed in and Harry recognized himself as one of the two people. He was lying on his back, beneath another bloke. A blond.
Since the picture seemed to move and change angles according to his wishes, Harry concentrated on wanting to see his partner's face. He gasped sharply when the other boy's face came into view.
Obviously the stone wasn't working. Harry felt like throwing it against a wall and smashing it to pieces. But instead, he looked at the image again. Harry's eyes were closed and his lips parted. Draco had his face buried in Harry's shoulder. His thrusts were slow and gentle. Harry noticed that their fingers were interlaced, too. All the signs pointed toward not only a consensual, but a romantic union.
But with Draco Malfoy? Harry had disliked the prat as soon as he'd met him at Madam Malkin's. Draco's behavior on the Hogwarts Express had sealed it. None of those things would have been different because they had taken place before the sorting ceremony. Would having been sorted into the same house really have made the difference between love and enmity?
Harry should have been disturbed by what he was seeing play out on the screen, yet he couldn't tear his eyes away. His cock began to swell as he watched. On the magical screen, Draco was nipping and sucking the outer edge of Harry's ear, whispering something that made Harry arch beneath him.
Unconsciously, the real Harry reached inside his pajamas and curled his fingers around his erection. He stroked himself to the rhythm of his and Draco's lovemaking on the screen. It wasn't until he felt his balls start tightening that he became critically aware of the fact that he was rubbing one off while watching himself and Draco Malfoy have sex in an alternate present. But fuck, it felt too good to stop.
In the image, Draco raised himself up on his arms as he pounded into Harry harder and faster. For the first time, Harry noticed the snake tattoo circling the blond's bicep. He wondered if the real Draco had one. The thought made Harry's cock twitch in his hand. That telltale tingling began to spread through his groin.
Harry released his dick to reach under his shirt and play with his nipple ring. The metal was warm, heated up by his skin. He tugged it lightly, and a jolt of pleasure traveled from the hard nipple to his cock. His eyes never left the Stone, though.
Draco's skin was glistening with a thin sheet of perspiration. Damp strands of silver-blond hair stuck to his forehead. Harry had never pictured Draco like this in his life, and apparently, he had been missing out on a good treat.
Seeing that Draco's movements were becoming frenzied, Harry reached for his cock again, stroking it roughly until he came. By the time he recovered and looked at the Stone again, the lovers on its screen had also finished and were lying face to face on the bed.
Suddenly, an overwhelming feeling of loneliness overcame Harry. Determined to ignore it, Harry pushed the stone under his pillow and cast a cleaning spell on himself. But doing that only took a few seconds, and by the time he curled up in a fetal position, he was painfully aware of the hollowness in his chest. Wondering if Draco felt it too, he eventually drifted off to sleep.
Harry spent the following day staring at Draco whenever possible. He'd hoped to exchange a look with the Slytherin, but Draco had gone about his business during breakfast and in D.A.D.A., unaware of the attention. The stone had been a cumbersome weight in his pack—not literally, but Harry had been constantly aware of its presence there. Even now that it was back in his dorm, he still felt it weighing on his mind. Harry didn't want to return the stone to Draco— he wanted to see the two of them making love again.
At supper, Harry picked absentmindedly at his food. His throat felt too tight to eat, and the sight of Ron wolfing down his steak and kidney pie was a tad nauseating. Harry looked away.
"Did you give ferret-boy his stupid stone back?" Ron asked.
The answer seemed to satisfy Ron, but Harry noticed that Hermione's eyes rose from her book and her eyebrows came together over her nose. Thankfully, though, she didn't say anything.
Harry glanced back over at the Slytherin table and was greeted by a pair of pale grey eyes. Draco held Harry's gaze for about three seconds before he looked away, but it was enough to make Harry glow for the rest of the evening.
Almost a week had passed since Harry had found the Stone of Abandoned Destinies under the beech tree by the lake. He planned on returning it to its rightful owner, he really did, but first he wanted to see what he wanted to see. That was easier said than done, though. Harry had looked into the stone at various points throughout the past few days and nights, always asking the same question. The tricky part was that the stone could only show him would be happening at this very moment in time. Harry decided that he and Draco did not have enough sex in their alternate destiny. Still, it was better than no sex at all.
While Harry waited until he looked into the stone at the right moment, he found himself increasingly preoccupied with Draco. Things that had annoyed him about the Slytherin before—like how crisp and white the collar of his shirt was, or the signet with the Malfoy crest that he wore on his little finger— suddenly seemed sexy. Harry even began paying more attention to his own appearance; for the first time in months, he used that icky stuff called pomade that Luna had talked him into buying. It allegedly made his hair look like it was supposed to be messy. As if it made any difference to Draco.
Finally, one day, just as he was about to give up and return the stone to Draco, Harry looked into it one last time and saw what he had been waiting for. He and Draco were in the same room again. Harry was shirtless and pressed against the wall while Draco nipped at the nape of Harry's neck and caressed his buttocks. At one point, Harry turned his head around and said something. Draco froze for a moment, and then he smiled, a genuine smile that became him so well. Nuzzling the crook of Harry's shoulder, Draco brought his hand around and placed it gingerly on the slight bump of Harry's abdomen, which the real Harry hadn't noticed before. The thought of what his alternate self had told Draco was too much for Harry to process at the moment, so he pushed the thought aside.
When the couple on the stone screen kissed, it was slow and tender, unlike anything Harry had experienced in his life. The picture was too painful to watch. It reminded Harry of how lonely he was and made him wonder if he'd ever be so happy in this life. Sighing, he put the stone back in his pack and headed off to Potions, to which he would obviously have been late in his alternate destiny.
For once, Harry was early to class, and the only other person already in the room was Draco. Harry's steps were hesitant as he passed his usual seat and walked toward Draco. His hands were clammy and his heart was hammering in his chest.
"You can keep it," Draco said softly before Harry even finished traveling distance between them.
"W-what?" Harry asked.
Draco looked up at him and their eyes met. Harry's mouth felt dry.
"The Stone of Abandoned Destinies," Draco said. "You can keep it, if you want."
Harry stared. "How did you know I had it?"
"I left it under the tree for you to find. And now you're coming over here, so I assumed you have it and want to return it."
Admiring how gorgeous Draco was from up close, Harry found it difficult to think fast enough to formulate a coherent sentence. "So you've— I mean— have you seen things ending up…different between us?"
Draco watched him for a moment before he responded, as if searching for something in Harry's expression. Then he nodded once. "I have."
Harry suddenly realized how complicated the business of alternate destinies was. He'd seen himself and Draco in a relationship that would have developed if he'd ended up in Slytherin, but Draco could not have asked the same question. Apparently a different choice or action on Draco's part would have brought about the same result. In that case, Harry wondered if maybe there was still potential for the two of them.
Draco looked away and so did Harry.
"Do you, erm…" Harry rubbed a scuff mark off the floor with his shoe, "think it's too late— for us?"
Their eyes met again, and Draco's next words made Harry's heart leap.
"It's never too late, Potter."
While Harry was thinking of what to say in response, the door slammed shut as Professor Fang strode into the classroom. Reluctantly, Harry moved to return to his seat, but he couldn't help glancing back and sending Draco his best smile.