Forearms. What did that mean? In his mind, Harry pictured Draco sitting in a hospital bed. He heard his voice. "Don't be stupid, Potter. You've seen my arms."
He took out the drawing. Forearms. Bare, blank, unblemished. Harry could remember the pale colour of their undersides, the softness of the skin.
Malfoy was trying to tell him something.
"I don't have the Mark," the remembered voice said.
Surely Voldemort would have branded Malfoy when he set him the task of killing Dumbledore. But he hadn't. Why not?
The question troubled Harry until another thought crept into his brain.
What if Malfoy hadn't accepted?
Harry looked for Malfoy at breakfast, but he was absent. It wasn't until supper that he showed up at a meal.
When he did, Harry shot furtive glances at him. He seemed far more tired and ragged than he had two days previous. He had dark rings around his eyes and twitched at sudden movements. Whatever he was up to, it was exhausting him utterly.
Harry decided he needed to talk to him. He watched Malfoy carefully and slipped out of the Great Hall when he appeared ready to leave. He followed the Slytherin until they were in an unoccupied hallway. Then he called, "Malfoy."
He started violently and spun around. He seemed unsteady on his feet and leaned against a wall. "Ha–Potter?"
"Are... are you okay?"
Malfoy waved a hand dismissively, but nearly tipped himself over. "Fine," he whispered.
Harry stepped closer in case he needed to catch the other boy. "Can we talk?"
"I did it, you know."
"Did what?" Harry asked, confused.
"Sent you that drawing."
"Oh." He blinked several times and tried to wave away something that was invisible to Harry's eyes. Harry took a quick step forward and pinned Malfoy's arms above his head against the wall.
"What are you doing?" he whispered, eyes flicking to Harry's lips.
Harry glanced upward. It only took a second–he had already pushed the sleeves down to Malfoy's elbows.
"Just checking." When he released the arms, however, Malfoy was unprepared and fell face-first to the ground.
"Shit. Are you okay?" Malfoy moaned something into the ground; he seemed unharmed but too tired to get up.
Harry sighed. "D'you need help getting back to your room?"
He interpreted the silence and lack of uprightness as a yes. "Come on, then. Up you go."
Harry supported a good portion of Malfoy's weight on his shoulders and lead him down to the dungeons and into the Slytherin quarters. "Why are you so fucking tired, anyways?"
Malfoy stopped in front of his door. "I don't want them to curse me again."
"Whoever cast the Imperius on me."
"If they haven't since then, I don't think they will now," Harry pointed out, but Malfoy was beyond logic.
"Please, Harry. Don't let them."
Harry eased Malfoy into the bed. "Okay."
Malfoy grabbed Harry's hand. "Don't leave."
Harry looked down at the pitiful state Malfoy was in. The least he could do was give him one night's rest. "I'll stay until you wake up."
Malfoy relaxed into the bed. "Thank you," he whispered as he fell asleep.
Harry found a chair in the corner and began his watch. Alone in the quiet room, thoughts drifted in and out of focus in his mind.
Harry, this is ridiculous. You're aiding the enemy!
What if he really has been trying to kill Dumbledore all along?
He's so innocent in his sleep.
Hermione's not going to be happy with my latest disappearance.
Who designed this room? The colour scheme is wretchedly depressing.
Look at the way the moonlight falls in his hair, on the soft skin of his neck...
When Draco finally awoke, Harry decided to stay just a moment longer. He needed to know.
"Erm... Thanks. For staying," Malfoy said, clearly lucid enough to be feeling some of his old restraint.
"I could hardly have just left you lying in the hallway," Harry said, crossing the room to stand by the bed..
Malfoy was silent. Then, hesitantly, softly, even–vulnerably, "I'd like it if you stayed a little longer..."
Harry clenched his teeth at the unexpected welling of tears in his eyes. He sat next to Draco and stared at the wall. "Just tell me one thing."
He nodded his blond head and sought eye contact; Harry's eyes remained on the wall. Harry closed his eyes and dropped his voice to a murmur.
"What did you tell him?"
Malfoy took a sudden, deep breath. He whispered, "Do you know how long I waited for you to ask me that?"
"Just..." Harry tore his gaze from the stone and peered into Malfoy's earnest eyes. "Tell me what you told Voldemort."
Draco stared back at him, tears forming in his own eyes. He shook his head.
"I told him no."
Then they were kissing.
Kissing like they never planned to let go.
They both knew they would have to, someday. They accepted it.
And they kept holding on anyways.