Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Summary: A misdirected spell brings Harry Potter much closer to his former rival than he would ever have wished. But it seems Draco Malfoy is not what he used to be… Slash, 8th year, EWE.
Author's Note: This story of mine has originally been written in Czech (and it's complete, so no worries) and I'm working on this English translation myself, therefore all trespasses against the English language fall to my lot and I apologize in advance. Please, feel free to point out any mistakes. Thanks to my best friend Iveta for her unfailing support!
Draco Malfoy was sitting on the stone edge of the fountain, absent-mindedly scowling on his reflection in the water and playing with the long fringe falling over one eye to his lips. Apart from him, there were a few other eighth-years in the yard waiting for the last afternoon lesson to begin, but no Slytherins. Not many of them came back to Hogwarts after the war. A lot of children from Death Eater families moved abroad to live with relatives, several died in the Final Battle.
He didn't have much of a choice. Both his parents were in Azkaban, their manor and assets confiscated by the Ministry. He could have changed his name and started from scratch somewhere, but his Dark Mark branded him forever anyway. So, in an act of sheer hopelessness, he went back to school.
In fact, it wasn't much of a change. He'd never had many friends and for the last two years, he has been left completely on his own. Even now everyone shunned him – not because of fear, though. They probably despised him or simply didn't care. He didn't care either. He enjoyed loneliness, it went well with the vast empty space left after the unceasing fear for his life, for his family's honor and social standing… There was nothing to worry about now.
It gave him a feeling of absolute freedom.
And it shattered him to pieces.
Someone spoke loudly. He looked up. Granger argued with Weasley about something or other, but in a minute they both laughed and kissed. They seemed happy, unlike Potter, who was staring with an empty look somewhere over their heads. The Hero. The Boy Who Lived.
Draco stood up and went to the door. He felt dizzy and his stomach clenched in a sick way. It didn't stop him, though, from suddenly wanting to crash into Potter, trip him or at the very least whisper something rude to him, like in the good old times. An unexpected rush of strength and energy came over him and he realised his lips were forming a smirk of their own volition. He knew it was a seriously bad idea and he was probably going to be sorry afterwards, but it was too tempting. Especially when he noticed the Weaselette running towards Potter over the yard in a terribly silly, clingy fashion.
He didn't stop to wonder why Potter sidestepped her. With exactly the right amount of force he knocked Potter with his shoulder. Potter stumbled, hand darting forward with a lightning fast reflex and caught his arm. Something weird touched Draco's spine, as if someone poured tepid water over his back.
Blinking, he shook Potter's hand off and swerved around. On the other side of the yard stood the loony Ravenclaw girl, mouth hanging open. Her wand was still trained on him. Shaking with anger, he started toward her.
After he'd taken two or three steps, a terrible pain shot through his whole body. It reminded him of the Cruciatus curse, a thousand knives and razors and worst nightmares slithering out of the depths of the night… There came a pained scream and then he collapsed.
Hell, no. Ginny. He should finally tell her the truth. That he feels nothing. For her nor for anybody else. Even the memories of all the dead stopped hurting. He was floating in vacuum. Just like in that moment between life and death while he was talking to Dumbledore and time stood still.
All was well. There was nothing to fight for. Nobody to fight with. For all his life he craved exactly this – and now he had it.
Harry sidestepped Ginny and got a hard shove against his shoulder. Quickly, he reached out and grabbed somebody's robes, regaining balance.
Anger boiled up in his blood along with something like joy. Exactly what he needed – to have someone make him really pissed. Someone like this git with smudges of black stuff all around his eyes who can't see a bleeding thing over his stupid hair. This…
Then he felt something warm sliding over his side, a bit like a tentacle. He threw a quick, surprised look around, but he didn't see anything amiss. Suddenly a strange weakness came over him. Malfoy stepped away from his grasp and all the hell broke loose.
Harry had been in pain quite often in his life and that's how he knew that it was not a thing you ever get used to. It can be suffered through, overcome, forgotten, but the first moments are always terrible. This time it was more terrible than ever. Something ripped the flesh off his bones and burned his insides to ashes. Hermione was saying something in an anxious tone, Ron kept stuttering and there was the loud sound of Ginny's hard breathing. And the screaming, of course.
He rallied all his strength and managed to push the pain to the background. He opened his eyes, but couldn't see a thing through tears. He blinked hard. The faces hovering above him… It was such a tragically familiar situation.
The screams changed into sobbing. Harry himself kept his mouth shut with such determination that he was getting a cramp in his jaw. He let go a little trying to take a proper breath, but the pain sensed an opportunity and renewed the attack in full force.
"Take him to the infirmary!" he heard Hermione say. "Don't use any spells!"
Someone, probably Ron, grabbed him under the arms, but as soon as he moved him an inch the pain doubled. He must have cried out because Ron immediately let him go.
He had no strength of will left, so he gave up and succumbed to the claws ripping his heart out – and suddenly it was getting better. He felt someone coming to the rescue and got half-way up on his elbows to meet them. A wave of warmth crashed over him. Getting on all fours and then on his knees with difficulty, he reached out.
"Merlin's pants!" Ron yelped.
But the wonderful person who made the pain go away held him in their arms already and he laid his head on their shoulder, slipped his hands on their lower back and huddled as close as possible in bliss. The torture dissolved into echoes and aftershocks. He felt momentarily sleepy and it took quite a struggle to open his eyes. He must have lost his glasses at some point, so he narrowed his eyes, focusing, and looked up.
White skin and hair of such a light shade that it almost looked silver.
He'll kill the bastard. Now or never.
Did he really hold Harry Potter in his arms or was it only a weird kind of dream?
Worst thing was that Draco didn't have the strength to let go of him. The pain had receded, a calming warmth seeping through his body instead, but those few moments left him quite powerless. He would faint as soon as he stopped holding tight.
The boy desperately clinging to him suddenly went still and rigid. Apparently, he had just discovered the identity of his unvoluntary companion. Unlike Draco, though, he let go immediately and jerked away.
"What's going on?" he said in a harsh voice laced with unconcealed anger.
"I have no idea," Granger squeaked. Funny, at least there's something she doesn't know, Draco thought. "Luna and Dean were carrying him to the door, when you both, well, you know…"
"It's my fault," said a dreamy voice. "I hit them with a love spell."
„What?" shouted Weasley. Not even the status of a hero cured him of his boorish manners.
Draco pulled the last dregs of his strength together, slid his hands from Potter's back and put them on the other boy's knees. He kept leaning his forehead on Potter's shoulder. That way he didn't have to look anyone in the eye.
"I was aiming at Harry and Ginny, of course. I couldn't have known Draco would push him."
Potter moaned. Draco was busy trying not to laugh. If the situation were not so humiliating, it would be incredibly funny. He was going to kill Lovegood very slowly as soon as he managed to get up and then hang various parts of her dead body on nearby trees.
"I'll end it. Finite incantatem!"
Potter brushed him off like an especially disgusting piece of filth, staggered to his feet and took a step back among his friends. His face was chalk-white and his eyes narrowed into slits. Carefully, he made another step backwards.
Draco was very glad he'd stayed crumpled on the ground. The pain sliced right through his chest. It was clear from the alarmed shouts that Potter was experiencing something fairly similar. Then Lovegood's unperturbed voice broke through the ruckus. "It doesn't work."
The Golden Boy kneeled before him again, clenching his fingers into Draco's shoulders with a grim expression. Draco meekly spread his hands on Potter's knees, staring sideways to the ground determinedly. It was absolutely certain that they were in big trouble, but he couldn't muster the energy to be much worried about it. There was a buzzing in his ears and he felt an overwhelming desire to curl on Potter's lap and sleep it all through. The only thing stopping him were the last remnants of his pride.
"It must work!" snapped the Weaselette out of nowhere. "Or Malfoy must have messed it up somehow. I found the spell in the library with Luna, it's quite a simple one, really. If you cast it on someone who is seriously interested in you, he'll declare his love, nothing more. It shouldn't have been painful. It shouldn't have worked in the first place! It only works on people who are already in love with each other!" Her voice rised in hysterics. "They… They are both boys!"
"Congratulations, Potter," said Draco in a strained whisper. "You've managed to find true innocence."
"Shut the fuck up, ferret."
Draco almost winced. There was such seething hatred in those words it made his hair rise. He looked up. Green eyes burned with anger the likes of which he'd last seen in the red snake-like orbs of the Dark Lord.
His body reacted automatically. He felt his face changing into an expressionless mask, his shoulders straightening and everything except drilled reflexes and cold reason retreating far behind safe walls.
Of all the things his father beat into him, this one seemed to be the most useful in the end.
They were sitting together on the edge of an infirmary bed. Too close to each other. Harry's hands were shaking and sharp pain pulsed rhythmically in his temples, but he didn't really feel it because everything paled in face of the terrible scorching anger coursing through him. He tried to fight it, but all the emotions he kept hidden and under control for months flooded him at once and swept through all the barriers.
And it was Malfoy's fault. The name alone produced such a whirlwind of indescribable emotions that he nearly blacked out whenever it crossed his mind. He grinded his teeth and made himself pay attention to his surroundings.
Ginny had just returned from the library with a dowdy little book in which she and Luna had found the spell. She handed it to the Headmistress and collapsed into Ron's arms in tears. McGonagall, Hermione and Madam Pomfrey leaned over the manuscript eagerly and started reading in silence. Luna stood a bit apart from the others, wand stuck behind her ear, head tilted to the side, watching him and Malfoy with keen interest like a child admiring a dinosaur's skeleton in a museum.
Almost everyone in the room had already tried to end the strange spell with Finite Incantatem. Hermione and McGonagall attempted more sophisticated counterspells, too, but nothing worked and the situation only got progressively worse. The bond protested at the slightest move now.
Harry's headache gained force and was slowly spreading from both sides to his forehead, but then it got better. He realized he was leaning unconciously towards the other boy. His anger flared anew. He gave Malfoy a hateful look, but his face was shielded by the stupid fringe from this side and he sat ramrod straight, hands folded in his lap, totally unmoved like a statue. Harry shifted an inch vindictively. Malfoy didn't even flinch, while he himself contracted a bad case of cold sweat at once.
With great effort, Harry managed to ignore the shadows creeping into his vision and concetrated on the three women studying the book. Hermione pointed out something in the text and shook her head. The Headmistress pursed up her lips and came over.
"Mr. Potter, Mr. Malfoy, may I have your attention?"
Harry nodded, noticing Malfoy doing the same in peripheral vision.
"Unfortunately, we haven't found any solution to your problem yet. Your symptoms do not in the least comply with the spell's effects as described in the book. I trust we will find something very soon though. Now, I have a few questions and it would be in your best interest to answer them truthfully. Do you feel any… mental connection beside the physical bond?"
"Do you count the fact that I hate him?" Harry said before he could have stopped himself.
"My feelings towards him have not changed in any way," said Malfoy in an expressionless tone of voice.
The Headmistress gave them a reproachful look, laced with a bit of sadness for some reason. "Decribe the effects of the spell as you perceive them, Mr. Potter. In as great a detail as you can."
Harry tried hard, but the right words escaped him. How do you desribe pain? And the terrible sense of awkwardness and humiliation? He didn't want to think about it. He should have disappeared after the war, changed his name and started anew among the Muggles.
Apparently, McGonagall wasn't very happy with his incoherent rambling, but he didn't care.
To Harry's immense rage, the blond described their condition in precise words, speaking in the confident tone he used when answering some impossibly difficult question Snape asked him in Potions class. The memory of his former teacher didn't help in dispersing Harry's foul mood, actually, it had quite the opposite effect. His anger mixed with guilt and other emotions promptly followed in its wake.
It seemed McGonagall had been attempting to get his attention for a while now.
"I'm afraid I will have to ask you to stand up. It is absolutely necessary for me and Madam Pomfrey to actually see the symptoms of the spell in full extent."
His heart beat like mad. "No!" He could get over the pain, that was not a problem, but he knew too well how it would end. He had to touch the prat twice already and had no intention to do it for a third time. He'd rather die.
"You know I would not ask it of you unless it were absolutely necessary."
Malfoy turned to him and Harry could finally look into his eyes. They were light grey, eerie and gave away no trace of emotion at all.
We'll see how long before something shows, Harry thought. Until now, he's always lost.
He stood up, not taking his eyes off Malfoy's for even a second. Malfoy didn't try to look away. He simply rose gracefully, like the aristocrat he was, and faced him as if they were going to duel.
"Take a step back, please, gentlemen."
The sense of heaviness and oppression gave way to an uncomfortable itch. Harry's head threatened to explode.
Flames licked Harry's insides and the taste of blood suffused his mouth. He didn't collapse only from sheer strength of will, blinking, still standing straight. Malfoy went horribly pale, his lips becoming nearly blue, but surprisingly, he didn't give up, keeping an indifferent air instead as if his mind were miles away. It made Harry's anger burn white-hot. He took another two steps back.
The fire devoured him. His skin blistered, cracked, oozing pus and blood, and his bones crumbled to dust. He was unconsious before he hit the ground.
Ron and Luna helped them get the two boys to a small room in a corridor behind the infirmary. Afterwards, McGonagall sent them away, no discussions allowed. Nobody had anything against Hermione staying, though. The Headmistress conjured a second hospital bed right next to the one already there. "Help Madam Pomfrey to take the boys' robes off, Miss Granger. We cannot risk using any more spells on them for a few hours at least."
Hermione took Harry's robes off gently, her throat tight and eyes brimming with tears. She was beyond furious. How could Ginny and Luna behave in such an irresponsible manner? Both have gone through the war, they should have been more grown-up than this! Sure, Harry treated Ginny in a horrible way lately…
Lost in thought, she caught a chance glimpse of Malfoy's form and gasped. She'd never seen him dressed in anything but wizarding robes or school uniform – expensive trousers, neatly pressed shirt and a Slytherin tie. Now he was wearing faded ripped jeans and a white T-shirt with a glittering silver emblem on the front. One-hundred-percent Muggle and not the best quality available either. What shocked her even more though was his emaciated state. The school robes were hiding protruding collarbones, unhealthily thin arms and impossibly lean hips. With the sinister mark on his forearm and the fringe overlaying one eye he reminded her of the androgynous creatures she often saw over the holidays while shopping for clothes in London with Ginny.
She was still staring at him in fascination when Harry moved. Before they could stop him, he rolled over to Malfoy who took a loud breath, reached out blindly and grasped Harry's arm, instinctively pulling him close. Harry snuggled to him and with surprising gentleness, Malfoy hugged him, letting Harry burrow his head under his chin contentedly. Then there was only the sound of deep, regular breathing.
Hermione could not stop looking. It was wrong, yet at the same time beautiful. Against all logic, they matched well. There was calmness in Harry's face, something she hadn't seen there for a long time, and Malfoy's sharp features softened in sleep, allowing his almost feminine beauty to shine.
"There's a thin line between love and hate," the Headmistress said.
"Do you think the spell simply couldn't tell those two things apart?"
"Hard to say. The symptoms do not correspond with the spell's description, as you see, but the over-all effect is quite clear. They can't be apart."
"I never understood what makes them dislike each other so violently. I don't care for Malfoy at all and there were times he really made me mad, but with them, it's something more. A kind of obsession. In sixth year I almost started to think…" She left the sentence unfinished and shook her head.
McGonagall sighed. "Let's hope they won't kill each other till morning. Mr. Potter has a tendency to be a bit rash occasionally. Come, Miss Granger, we have lots to do."