AN: This story was written for the 2011 HP_Porninthesun fest on livejournal. Lyrics provided by Jason Mraz. There is a moment in this fic inspired by the short film Protect me From What I Want.

Burning Bridges

Harry sat alone in Gryffindor Tower, splayed out on his four poster bed in a dorm room specially made for students wishing to "reevaluate their seventh year education." The school had only been reopened for a few weeks, since just after the rebuilding finished during Christmas Hols, and it still felt infected with ghosts. Harry was assaulted by memories every time he turned a corner. He felt like he was drowning in the past seven years. He stayed in the new dorm, devoid of memories, as much as he could. He found himself alone there most of the time.

Ron and Hermione spent their free time discovering each other in new ways that Harry didn't even want to begin to imagine. Neville came back, but he had lived his own kind of hell the previous year and spent most of his time huddled with Ginny in front of the fire, trying to recover. Dean and Seamus didn't even bother coming back. Seamus couldn't stand being within the castle walls and Dean couldn't stand being without Seamus, so they got a flat in Dublin and decided to go it alone.

Harry knew he wanted to be an auror: he knew without Hermione pestering him that he needed a more technical education. Harry could have gotten into the Ministry on clout alone, but he wanted into his dream job by his own merit. Ron called it 'Bloody Fucking Noble', but followed him and Hermione back to school anyway. The way Ron looked at Hermione, like she was some sort of glorious angel, convinced Harry that Ron was not planning on focusing on his education at all.

The landscape of post-war had left Harry both endlessly famous and ridiculously lonely. He felt silly for feeling so bereft, especially when he got so many accolades and offers of friendship, but none of it felt real. Ron and Hermione still spent a lot of time with him, but the aura they gave off, as though they were in their own universe, just made Harry feel worse. He wrote to Andromeda and subsequently Teddy every other day, and Mrs. Weasley kept him in just as many care packages as Ron and Ginny. However, now that he wasn't desperately fighting for his life, Harry wanted someone to cling to, he wanted to feel safe just for a few moments. That thought alone kept him up at night.

On one such late night, Harry decided to go down to the kitchens for a late snack and chat Kreacher up a bit. He tickled the pear, as instructed, and made his way down the winding stone steps. He heard a high pitched, feminine laugh, but the slow, languid staccato told him it was no elf. He debated turning back around or facing whoever his accidental acquaintance would be that evening.

"Harry, you're welcome to join me, but I assure you I won't be hurt if you need to turn around." Luna Lovegood's ethereal voice echoed in the chambers of the kitchens. Harry breathed out a sigh of relief. Luna had become a remarkable solace since returning to school, though Harry wasn't surprised. She always made him feel at ease.

"How do you always know it's me!" Harry exclaimed.

"You walk like someone twice your size, but I can barely hear your breath," Luna said, like it was the most obvious thing she ever pointed out. "Someone with steps that leaden should really be breathing just as heavily."

"I'll take your word for it and remember to practice my stealth skills," Harry said. He sat down and Kreacher immediately handed him a slice of treacle tart. He was really growing fond of his elf. "What's going on with you, Kreacher?"

"I am currently organizing all of the elves into a more efficient way to serve dinner now that the student population isn't quite as large. I feel I have done The Black Family a great honour by working so diligently at your wishes. However, I would much rather run a household," he answered. He'd been, not so subtly, hinting that he wanted Harry to move back into Grimmauld Place since the end of the war, but Harry just wasn't ready for that. There was a loud bang from a back room, and Kreacher rolled his eyes and shuffled off.

"Goodbye darling!" Luna called to the elf brightly. She smiled at her own dish of chocolate pudding and dug in without another word, closing her eyes like she was meditating over each bite. Harry decided eating was better than talking, and let the flaky, sweet pastry melt in his mouth.

"Luna? Did you make a new charm?" Harry said, looking at the long, silver chain with an opal charm hanging between her pale breasts.

"Oh, it's to help me sleep. I'm not very fond of the dark anymore, but opals are supposed to capture all the best qualities of light. Draco performed a charm on it so that it would retain its powers when the lights went out.

"Oh that's nice," Harry said, suppressing his scepticism for the sake of his friend. "I didn't think opals- said Malfoy made that for you?"

"To be sure. Ever since we all came back he's been asking after my well-being. I am quite positive he feels guilty, and though I've easily forgiven him for his role in my captivity, he's still being rather doting, all things considered. I think he's lonely," Luna said, smiling down at the amulet. "He's remarkably sharp-minded, actually. I would find him very attractive if he weren't…Oh look, a plimpie!"

Luna floated off to stare at nothing in the far corner of the kitchen, drawing the attention of the elves while Harry picked at the remains of his dessert, too immersed in thought to be hungry. He couldn't imagine Draco every doing a single act of penance for anything, but couldn't think of a reason why he would harm Luna. His trial had already occurred, and with Harry's testimony, Mrs. Malfoy and Draco Malfoy were put on probation. Narcissa Malfoy gave Harry something that was likely a warm embrace to her, but Draco wouldn't even look him in the eye.

Luna had nothing to offer Malfoy beyond companionship, and the thought that Draco could find a friend in Luna was almost as unbelievable as Horace Slughorn turning down an autograph. Despite all of this, however, Harry had to draw the conclusion that Draco was doing something nice…something good. Even if it were out of guilt, and out of character, Draco Malfoy had a bone of kindness somewhere deep inside of him, and the thought made Harry's face heat up inexplicably.

"Well, I see you need to be left alone with your thoughts. Would you walk with me to my tower, since it's on the way? You can brood and fizzle afterwards," Luna smiled serenely and held out her hand. Harry took it and they walked in companionable silence all the way up to the towers.

Harry made his way back to his dorm, where Neville was snoring away and Ron was nowhere to be seen. He closed his curtains and opened up The Marauder's Map. He felt more assured knowing that his friends were safe. He saw Ginny in the common room, and Harry knew she was in for another sleepless night avoiding nightmares. He heard a shuffle, and heard someone leave the room. He felt like a terrible voyeur, but he couldn't stop himself from watching Neville's little footprints move down the stairs and find its way next to Ginny in the common room.

Harry wasn't jealous, but he swallowed a lump down in his throat, all the same. He didn't want Ginny back, not really. He just wanted someone. Ginny was a friend he could hold more tightly than his other friends, someone who he could cling to without feeling needy, but they weren't in love with each other and he understood that. Harry rolled his eyes and turned the map, trying to give Neville and Ginny a little privacy.

He didn't want to admit he was looking for Draco's name, but as his eyes wandered fruitlessly over the Slytherin common rooms and dorms, he knew he was a lost cause to his own curiosity. He was further piqued by the fact that he saw no sign of Draco. He frantically searched the map, pausing at the Room of Requirement as flashbacks to his sixth year played in his head. His hunt for Draco wasn't fueled this time by paranoia and suspicion, however, but by a sense of protectiveness he was shocked to find he was feeling for the blonde wizard.

For the next three nights, Harry went through the same routine. He would get out his map and check to see that Ron and Hermione were safe with each other. He would watch Ginny's moniker pace back and forth, and then listen for Neville to shuffle out of his bed and down the stairs. When he was sure he was alone, he would search out Draco Malfoy and watch him flit about through the castle. He knew he really didn't need to wait until he was by himself, but he felt like he was doing something wrong, something no one would approve of him doing, so he wanted to be as inconspicuous as possible.

Harry watched Malfoy's name move back and forth in front of the room of requirement and stop for long moments, never once going in. The room itself was still intact, but had suffered severe damage after the fiendfyre and was volatile and unpredictable. No one was allowed to enter, and Professor Flitwick was working tirelessly to restore the room to its former glory. Every evening, Harry sat on tenterhooks as Malfoy appeared to consider going in, but he never did. Some nights, the Slytherin would go up to the Astronomy tower, other nights he would spend in The Great Hall, but every night he visited the Room of Requirements entrance, and every night he refused to go in.

It eventually occurred to Harry that Malfoy may have been visiting the places which held the worst memories for him, and it shocked Harry how worried and concerned he was for Malfoy when he watched his name move endlessly through the Hogwart's corridors at night. Harry had made it a habit of looking at Malfoy during their shared classes, and the deep bruising shadows
under his eyes and unhealthy pallor of his skin told him that Draco Malfoy wasn't sleeping well if at all. He looked dead on his feet. The realization caused Harry's heart to clench in his chest and he had to tamp down the urge to talk to Malfoy, to see if he was okay.

It disturbed Harry how much he cared, how fascinated he was by Malfoy even when he wasn't suspicious of him, but he couldn't stop watching his name wander the halls night after night.


I know exactly how you feel,
You were this close to closing deals
Now everything fell from out your hands,
You were forced to decide on other plans now,

Draco Malfoy stood on the small dais in the astronomy tower staring up at the vivid stars in the clear sky. He could still hear the old man's words, still feel his hands tremble violently, and he could remember the crushing weight of his failure bearing down on his entire family. Once again he questioned his decision to return to school, where every turn took him by a place the reminded Draco of just how worthless his life was, and just how much his cowardice had fucked everything up.

But Draco didn't want to relent, he wasn't going to give up so easily now that his family had made it out of that hell alive. His father was serving what was considered a lenient sentence of five years in Azkaban, but he and his mother were free. It was Potter's testimony that guaranteed their freedom, and the shame of needing Potter's help twisted in Draco's chest like the curse that Potter used to rip him open 2 years ago. The arrogant son of a bitch couldn't stop at saving all the good side, he had to step a toe over to Draco's side too.

If he was being honest with himself, though, Draco and his mother didn't have a side. They were Slytherins, and they meant to survive. His father's madness and desperate need for glory pushed them toward The Dark Lord, and it was too late before his family realized the danger that they faced. They were at risk of losing more than name and honour, but safety and life as well. Draco may have been visiting the scenes from his memories while at Hogwarts, but he closed his mind to reliving the torture of residing under the same roof as The Dark Lord and the literal torture he experienced when he failed to kill Dumbledore.

Being back behind the castle walls was a fresh hell for Draco, but he lived with it, knowing that he would need a good income to sustain a comfortable lifestyle. The Ministry had chosen to take a large amount of the Malfoy Wealth for reparations and while they could sustain the Manor after it was gutted and investigated, Draco knew he'd need a career. He could survive another year of sleeplessness, fear, and loneliness if it meant he could come out of it successful.

But the sleepless nights wandering the halls broke Draco down piece by piece. He never thought he'd be whole. Once again Draco found himself pacing outside of the Room of Requirement, desperate to go in and desperate not to at the same time. He lost a good friend there. A good friend he should have protected, shouldn't have dragged him along on his mad scheme to regain
favour and certainty of life. Vince shouldn't have died, and Draco wanted desperately to go into that room and scream an apology, to yell out that he would never forget. He just couldn't bring himself to open the door.

"Vince, I'm sorry. I can't…" Draco said, bitter tears forming in his eyes. He slammed his fist against the stone wall and turned around to leave, to move to another part of the castle and leave the Room of Requirement and Vince to rest.

Draco turned around slowly at the sudden feeling of eyes boring into the back of his head. When he saw Potter standing there, a look of concern on his face, Draco could only feel rage. He couldn't stand being pitied, especially not by everyone's hero, by his rival and his schoolyard enemy. He clenched his fists and readied himself for a confrontation that he didn't have the heart to engage in.

"You should be careful," Potter said quietly, with no hint of malice in his voice. "The magic is still all wonky and it's not very safe."

"Oh well thank you for the useful tip," Draco droned. He was seeing red. How dare Potter pretend to care for his well-being! Was his need to always be the hero so profound that he had to follow Draco around at night? "Can I worship my hero a little later, I'm a bit tired tonight."

"I was only trying to help, Malfoy." Potter answered narrowing his eyes.

"Well go rescue a bloody house elf, I don't need any more of your fucking help! " Draco shouted, months of rage and confusion at Potter's action during the trial billowing up. "I mean who the fuck do you think you are? A Happy Little Hufflepuff! You have lived the life of a beloved hero your whole life and now you just traipse around this place like you own it? Well I'm not falling for it."

"You sound like Snape." Potter said, an irritating smirk on his face.

"Don't you fucking talk about him! You don't know what he went through. I get that it was rough for you to defeat The Dark Lord, but we lived under his thumb for so long! You have no right to…to…"

"I don't know what he went through? I don't-"

Suddenly Potter's face twisted in pain and Draco had an urge to check his wand to make sure he didn't accidentally cast a spell. The look of raw grief on Potter's features made Draco want to reach out and touch him. He shook his head minutely and clenched his fists to keep from offering a comforting hand to the other wizard. It was a good thing too, because Potter launched at him, hitting him hard across the face. Draco gripped Potter's hair in return, screaming and kicking him hard in the shins. Just as they both drew their fists back again, two very large hands emerged from the shadows and pulled them apart like they were leafs on a small tree.

"Harry! What do ye think yer doin'?" Hagrid (that great oaf) asked, looking sternly at Potter. "Yer lucky Filch has the night off or you two would be in a world o' trouble."

"'M sorry," Harry mumbled. Draco didn't bother saying anything. He knew he was going to be taking the brunt of any punishment, so he just closed his eyes and tried not to make it worse.

"Go to bed, Harry, and come down an' see me tomorrow." Hagrid grumbled. Potter's eyes went wide. "Hagrid! I threw the first punch, you don't need to-"

"I can fight my own battles!" Draco yelled.

"This ain't a battle. Just go to bed," Hagrid said, his deep voice belying such affection for Potter that Draco didn't know whether to be jealous or to laugh hysterically. Hagrid watched the other wizard go and then turned to Draco.

"I heard you two fightin' before I stepped in," Hagrid said as quietly as his booming voice would allow. "An' what you need to unnerstan is tha' Harry has had a rough time of it."

Draco nearly rolled his eyes. "Yes, I get it. He had to fight for his life. We all did. And I understand that what he did was great. I understand he lost a lot and that he never had parents. I've read the countless articles since there wasn't much else to do while I was in prison awaiting my trial."

"A trial Harry stood up for yeh at," Hagrid said, lifting his eyebrows in a clever way that seemed very out of place with his normal manner. "But tha's not what I'm talkin' about. You an'
him, ye've been at each other's throats since the beginning. You were such a spoiled brat that I didn't even think twice about it. But Dumbledore, he had a heap of faith in yeh and I don' take that lightly."

Draco could almost feel himself flush and loathed himself for it. "He was a fool."

"A fool who cared, though, Malfoy. That's why he sent Harry away when his parents died," Hagrid said, looking down sadly at Draco.

"Sent him away? You mean to live with the muggles?"

"I was the person to tell Harry he was a wizard," Hagrid started, and Draco was truly perplexed. Dumbledore sent him to live wi' his mother's sister. Harry would be safe there, but he was not much else."

"Except the hero of the wizarding world, and the planet's most favourite orphan," Draco said, feigning boredom but so inwardly interested that he could feel his fingers twitching.

"They starved him, Draco. They locked him in a closet an' forced him to be their house servant. When his Hogwart's letters started comin' back, Dumbledore sent me to get him," Hagrid paused, his giant fists clenching. "They told him he was nothin', that his parents died in a car
crash, and they treated him like garbage. When I finally saw him, on his birthday, he was so thin…so scared... Chirst, Malfoy, I just want you to know that yer wrong."

The great hulk of a man left surprisingly quietly, and Draco sat down on the cold stone floor of the hall with his mind buzzing. He pictured the way Potter looked that first day of school. He was very small. All of his clothes seemed too big for him, and he looked around the place like he was dreaming and afraid to wake up. When Draco really thought about it, Potter spent much of that first year looking like he was expecting to get hit at any moment.

For the second time that night, Draco had the urge to reach out to Potter. He was ill-equipped to deal with the revelation.

You figured it best to just ignore it,
Otherwise, oh, you're just living for it,
And if anyone ever wondered why you did it,
you'd swear they'd never know you sold your soul to the burning, burning, burning bridges.

Draco knew he had to focus in Charms. He was surprised to find that when the smoke of Dark Arts and pureblood tradition faded away, he was very good at Charms. At the start of his 'eighth 'year, he experimented with spells he never paid close enough attention to. He managed a light retaining charm that he cast an opal for Luna and his levitation charms could move even the heaviest stone in the castle and hold it in position for hours. However, his focus was thrown completely when Potter walked in.

Most of the returning students trying to make up their Seventh Year all had the same classes, thrown in with the actual seventh year students, so seeing Potter wasn't out of the norm. But now, it was like an opaque film had been peeled from Potter's features, and Draco could make out every twitch of his brow and line in his face. Potter held a story that Draco couldn't let go of, and didn't really want to. He shook his head and tried to turn back to his work.

His focus only lasted for a short time, however. When the class started doing the practical applications of some more complicated cooking charms, the constant smell of burning and rancid food coming from Potter's corner distracted the entire class and even earned the dark-haired wizard baleful gazes from his podium. Weasley, having shockingly mastered his pie-filling charm, was attempting to help Potter and only making him more frustrated and angry. When Potter finally shouted at Weasley to mind his own business, Granger pulled her boyfriend away and they worked on a braising charm in another area of the room. The next explosion from Potter's work station was enough to rival Finnegan's former pyrotechnics, and Draco couldn't help but go over.

"Don't even fucking start, Malfoy! Not right now," Potter answered without even looking back.

He cast another pie-filling charm and his strawberries flew across the room. He clenched his fists and shouted at the wall. Draco took a deep breath and was ready to shout at him, knowing they would be drowned out by the other spells and commotion in the classroom, but he swallowed
down his frustration in favour of that sparking feeling deep inside of him that urged him to at least try with Potter.

"It might help to bend your arm more at the elbow when you flourish your wand," Draco said, with more bite than he had intended.

"Piss off," Potter said, but his words seemed to lose their force as he stared forlornly at his pile of rubbish food. "I just…I just can't cook this way."

"Just try relaxing your arm a little bit more," Draco said, his own voice catching in his throat at the honesty in Potter's eyes.

Potter tried the spell again, but he didn't look anywhere near relaxed enough. He threw the pie plate against the wall, and Draco deflected it to keep it from shattering. For the first time in his life, he could imagine what was going through Potter's head. These spells were complicated, but commonplace. Anyone with wizarding parents would have been exposed to these. Instead, Potter spent his childhood preparing food the Muggle way and never knowing what magic was. Impulse carried Draco closer.

"Just a little more like this," Draco mumbled. He reached out and wrapped is fingers around the bend in Harry's arm. The solid flesh beneath his touch was consuming, and Draco swallowed hard to keep himself from making any other embarrassing sounds. Potter's arms rippled with muscle, more so than Draco would have thought, but he was also overwhelmingly tense. "Lower your wrist."

Draco's thumb grazed the soft skin on the inside of Potter's wrist and he could have sworn he heard the other wizard's breath hitch. "Relax," he whispered, moving Harry's arm in the motion it took to charm the filling. Potter stood frozen for a moment, his head bent forward, but then he echoed Draco's movements, and his strawberries became cut and glazed in a matter of a few simple swishes and words. Draco couldn't help it, he smiled. He could feel his face getting red when Potter beamed back at him.

There was a round of applause, and for a moment Draco thought it was for them, but when they looked up, the class was crowded around Weasley and Granger. Potter craned his neck and smiled ruefully. The pair had managed to braise a roast, fill a pie, bake the crust, and even mash up some potatoes. They laid the food out on their desk, charmed some candles, and were conjuring plates for everyone. They were smiling proudly and laughing at each other like their classroom antics were all part of a private joke. Out of the corner of his eye Draco saw Potter turn his back swiftly.

"Disgust you too?" Draco said, rolling his eyes.

"Kind of the opposite, actually," Potter said, shrugging and avoiding Draco's eyes.

"Turns you on?" Draco said, chuckling to himself.

Potter laughed out loud, a deep, belly laugh that lit up his eyes and echoed through the room. Something warm travelled through Draco, and he found himself smiling widely back. When they got done laughing, the entire class was looking at him…the Weasley-Granger roast completely forgotten.


Draco still couldn't sleep at night, but after his amiable encounter with Potter, he felt just a little bit lighter. He didn't want to consider what that might have meant, so he tried to ignore the niggling voice in the back of his head. He rolled over despondently, resigned to another evening of tossing and turning before deciding to pay his penance to the sites of his cowardice, something he couldn't resist doing on nearly every occasion of heavy-handed guilt.

He wandered by the Room of Requirement, and found himself growing weak in the knees at the thought of returning where his friend burned to death. He made his way toward the kitchens with the intent of finding some sort of tea or sleeping draught, but instead his feet would not allow him to move away from the statue of the One-eyed witch when he approached her. He had been avoiding the secret passageway like Dragon Pox, but knew that the nightmares he held would only get worse if he couldn't face it.

He heard from the returning Slytherins that there were rumours Severus Snape died in The Shrieking shack, though there were no details. His body had been removed and buried next to his mother's in a family plot, but no one seemed to be able to explained who moved his body or commissioned his headstone. Nothing was known about Snape at all except for a brief excerpt in The Daily Prophet heralding him as a hero of the war but feigning ignorance surrounding the details of his heroics. Draco's stomach sank to his knees every time he imagined his former headmaster dying alone in that dusty, run-down shack.

The walk through the dark tunnel passed much more quickly than Draco would have liked, and before he knew it, he was carefully climbing the rickety steps up to the main room of the dilapidated house. With a gust of cold October wind, the door shut hard behind him. Draco tried to cast a 'Lumos' on his wand, but his wand only flickered and went out. He pulled a face, took his sleeve, and wiped the dust from the large front window to let in the moonlight.

The light shone directly onto a dark patch in the centre of the room that made Draco's blood run ice cold. No one had cleaned up the site. He could tell even in dim lighting that he was looking at a blood stain, and he assumed it was Severus' blood. He immediately turned to exit that awful home. Every place he visited was a bad idea, but Draco thought even his foolish night madness had surpassed impracticality and moved into dangerous headspace. He turned the knob and yanked at the door, only to find it would not move. He began frantically pulling at every other door and window he could get to, only to find he was trapped in that room with Severus' blood and his own insurmountable grief.

burning which is nothing more than the longing for being uninvolved.


Harry fought to ignore the warmth he felt from the scene with Malfoy in the Charms classroom, but eventually he just resigned himself to it. He unfolded his map and laid it out across his bed, watching Draco's name wander aimlessly down corridors and chided himself for not finding the bravery again to follow him and approach him. When he saw Draco's name disappear around the statue of the One-eyed witch, Harry tossed the map down and threw on his trainers and jacket without a second though. He tossed his invisibility cloak over his head and rushed out of the portrait.

The Shrieking Shack had not yet been repaired by the restoration crews, in part because of the fear the legend inspired, and partially because the magic in the location had become so volatile it was dangerous. Harry's heart was racing has he jumped through the passage and sprinted all the way down the tunnel. He had not been in that place since the night he met Snape's dying gaze, but the fear that Draco could meet his own horrible fate was enough to quell any other worries or fears he may have had.

Harry made it to the entrance in record time and reached for the doorknob. He burst through into the dark room and the 'Lumos' he had cast on his wand immediately went out. He froze, trying not to let the horrifying memories of the room flood back to him and failing miserably when he saw the large dark stain in the centre of the room. He closed his eyes and clenched his fists.

"I can't believe you just closed the door," a shaky voice came from the shadows in the corner.

"Who's there?" Harry asked, wand drawn.

"That bloody twig won't work in here, anyway. Nothing will, Potter," Malfoy said in a whisper. "I've been waiting for something to happen, and when it finally does, it only proves to be infinitely more horrifying than being locked in this god awful place. Now I'm locked in here with you."

Harry shook his head and tried the door, only to find it didn't work. He tried every window and every doorway out of the room, but there was no way out. He drew his wand and cast every spell he could think of, but his wand only flickered and did nothing. Finally, he flopped down in a dusty old chair and put his head in his hands.

"I could have gotten out if you hadn't barged in and shut the only way out yet again," Malfoy said, his voice echoing across the empty room.

"Well, how was I supposed to know?" Harry asked, exasperated beyond belief.

"What in Merlin's name are you doing here in the first place?"

"Looking for you," Harry answered honestly, thankful that the dark room hid his blush.

"I'll ignore the why and focus on the how for right now," Malfoy said, his tone softening with each word.

Harry was wary of sharing any of his secrets with Malfoy, especially one so close to his heart. He lifted his hand and pressed the map that rested in his pocket. There wasn't any practical reason to hide, but Harry just wanted to keep some of his favourite memories safe. He looked over at Malfoy warily and joined him on the other side of the room, sitting down near him, close enough to smell his clean, but musky scent. Harry breathed in deeply and then caught his breath as he realized what he was doing.

"Oh what the hell, it's not like we're going anywhere anytime soon," Harry muttered, reaching into his pocket and pulling out the map.

"Don't be too resigned about our situation, the prospect of hours alone with you is enough to…"

"Enough to what, Malfoy?" Harry asked angrily.

"Nothing." Malfoy turned his head away from Harry, leaving the other wizard momentarily bewildered. "So how can you stalk me so effectively, Potter?"

"With this," Harry answered, handing him the folded up map. "It activates with a spell, so I can't really show you, But basically I can see everyone's name and where they are in the castle at all times."

Malfoy gasped and ran a long, pale finger down the front of the folded parchment. "You can see where everyone is at any moment?"

"Within the castle, yes."

"How long have you had it?"

"Since third year. Fred and George Weasley gave it to me," Harry explained, a pain in his stomach at yet another fond memory of a friend he'd never see again.

"I am consistently amazed at their cleverness," Malfoy whispered, turning the map over in his hands. "They always make such remarkable things."

"I'm sure George would swell with pride to hear it," Harry said, a little sadly.

"Were you close with them, then?" Malfoy asked, with what sounded like sympathy. Harry got over his shock at hearing that tone of voice and simply nodded.

"They didn't make this map, though. My dad and his friends did. Mssrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs!" Harry smiled proudly.

"And how did you find that out?"

"Malfoy, this is a long story."

"For once, listening to you is the better option," Malfoy said, leaning back against the wall.

For nearly an hour, Harry recounted the events surrounding The Marauder's map, how his father and friends created it, how they used it to torture Snape, and even how Remus used the very house they were in when he was going through his change. Draco listened silently and intently, and as Harry's eyes adjusted to the darkness, he found he rather enjoyed the blonde wizard's piercing gaze. He turned away from the pale whites of his eyes shining in the moonlight when he began to talk about him, Sirius, and the Dementors at the lake.

"Christ, Potter. Every time you're near them you hear…her? I almost feel like a bastard for knocking you off of your broom." Malfoy said, and Harry tried not to notice that he was sitting closer than he was a moment ago. Harry looked away and mumbled something unintelligible in acquiescence. Malfoy's sudden scrutiny was laying heavy on Harry's shoulders.

"So this place was never haunted, it was just Professor Lupin going through the wolf cycles?" Malfoy asked. Harry smiled and nodded. They both looked at the dark spot in the middle of the floor. "I think maybe it's haunted again, though."

"Snape would never have stooped so low as to haunt anything," Harry said, unsure if he was feeling wistful about his former enemy's death or only ironically flippant.

When he looked up at Malfoy though, he suddenly felt like he had said the worst possible thing he could have. Malfoy jumped to his feet and drew his wand. On instinct, Harry did the same. Logic would have told both of them that their wands weren't working, but Harry pressed his wand against Malfoy's chest as Malfoy stuck his hard at Harry's neck. His heart was racing and his hands trembling with adrenaline.

"How dare you even pretend to know Severus? You just have to be everyone's hero don't you? Even the ones you hate!" Malfoy shouted, the tip of his wand creating sparks of pain against the delicate skin of Harry's neck.

"Oh you're just bitter because I saved your ass from Azkaban," Harry growled, curling his fist around Malfoy's wrist to try to force him to lower his wand.

"Severus died alone. The Dark Lord killed him. He had no one. Don't even speak his name like you know him!" Malfoy's eyes were wild and the gray seemed to spark with electricity and light. Harry could feel words and rage explode from his tongue.

"He didn't die alone!"

"His blood is pooled on the floor here and you have the nerve…"

"I was with him!" Harry screamed. Malfoy's wand fell to the floor and he stared confused at Harry. "I fucking met his eyes as he died. I held my hands to the wound Nagini's teeth tore into his neck!" Harry kneeled down next to the stain and pulled his hair hard. He rocked back and forth before shooting back up and pushing Malfoy down.

"He left me memories! I had to watch them while everyone was dying around me. He gave me the keys to destroying Voldemort. He played such a dangerous game to follow Dumbledore's orders, and all for…and all for…" Harry screamed out and started desperately yanking at the doors and windows of the run-down sitting room again. He needed to get out of there. He needed to get out from under Snapes deadly and heavy handed memory, and he needed to turn away from Malfoy's cold gaze. He began to pound on the door, tears falling from his face and sobs wracking his body.

He felt Malfoy's presence behind him but couldn't turn around. He kept pounding on the door even as his knuckles began to burn. "They're all gone. All of them. Snape…he was so brave and no one will ever know. It's just going to fade away."

"Potter…Potter…Harry," Malfoy whispered his name and put a hand on his shoulder. He felt himself being guided to the ground and sat down heavily, putting his hands back up to his hair. Malfoy's hands stopped him and turned Harry's head towards his own. "It won't. It won't fade away. You put that article in the prophet, didn't you? And you got him the headstone?"

Harry shook his head. "I couldn't do very much without exposing memories that were his private thoughts…"

"I noticed. His students noticed. He's not going to fade away. And neither is Sirius Black or Professor Lupin. Neither is Nymphadora or Fred. Neither are your parents," Draco spoke with such an uncharacteristic gentleness that Harry couldn't look at him. They remained sitting there in silence for some time. Suddenly, Draco took his right hand and brought it up to the dusty, silvery light of the front window. He winced in sympathy.

"A healing spell would do good right about now," Harry said, his voice still shaking. He reached up and brushed a drop of blood from Draco's lips. It was the tiniest movement, but Harry could have sworn he leaned into the touch.

"So how did Severus do it?" Draco said, tearing a piece of Harry's trousers off at the hem.


"We can mend them, and yours are a lot more cheaply made than mine," Draco murmured, wrapping the cloth around Harry's battered knuckles.

"I guess. Well Snape basically played on a line between both sides ever since the night my mother was killed. He worked on direct orders of Dumbledore," Harry explained.

"He could have been killed," Draco said, never looking up from his work on Harry's hand.

"He was, but those memories he left, it was the plan that he and Dumbledore worked out. The plan that lead me into the forest to face him," Harry decided not to go into the more personal memories.

"The part where you had to throw yourself on the sword for the rest of us?" Draco asked. His voice was biting, but his eyes held something akin to concern.

Harry spent a long time after that explaining the past year to Draco. It felt good to unburden himself. He went over the horcruxes and the piece by piece destruction of them. He told about the locket and the horrible things it did, especially to Ron. When Harry got to the part that explained Dumbledore's death, Draco's fingers found their way between his own, and Harry was happy for something to hold on to. Harry left out the part about seeing Dumbledore at the station, and wrapped up his tale by explaining to Draco what he already knew: That his mother risked her life for her son by lying to Voldemort. By the time Harry's throat was hoarse with speaking, Draco's entire arm had snaked around his and their sides were pressed warmly against one another in the chilly room.


Suddenly, a door creaked open, but not the one they were hoping for. The doorway led to a narrow stair and Harry rushed forward, keeping his wand drawn just in case. He could hear Draco's shoes clicking on the stair behind him. When he got to the top, that door was shut too. He kicked it hard and nearly fell down the stairs. He could hear Draco chuckling.

"Oh, shove off. We might as well try to sleep a little back down stairs," Harry said, brushing past Draco. Draco grabbed his shoulder.

"I almost don't want to go back down," He whispered, his breath ghosting along the side of Harry's face.

"I know what you mean," Harry said nervously. "But it's so dark in here, I don't know if my eyes can adjust to this place. Maybe I'm developing some sort of-"

Before Harry knew what was going on, Draco's lips were pressed firmly against his. His hands were gripping Harry's shoulders and Draco's mouth stayed slight pressed to his. Harry couldn't move, he was frozen by shock and horror and some indefinable newness that felt so good that it added a whole new layer of shock to the experience. He wanted to kiss back, he wanted to push Draco down the stairs, he wanted to pull Draco close to him and never let go.

As quickly as it happened, Harry felt a void where Draco was. "Shit," He heard Draco murmur as the stairs began to creak and his footsteps started drawing away. Harry's heart was racing and his head was spinning. The urge to throw himself down the stairs was warring with the urge to rush after Draco and kiss him so hard he felt it for days. Harry went for the latter without question.

Harry pressed Draco back against the wall, enjoying the whimper coming from the taller wizards throat. He was shaking, he had never felt so consumed, so raw and exposed before. Harry felt like he was on fire, and ready to take down everything around him. He held Draco down by the shoulders against the wall.

"Did you mean it?" Harry whispered forcefully.

"Wha…I…yes, Harry. I meant it."

Harry grabbed both sides of Draco's face and kissed him, melting when Draco's hands came up to his lower back and pulled them flush together. Draco ran his tongue along Harry's lips while one of his hands came up to the back of his neck. Harry allowed himself to be turned into the kiss, and soon his tongue was dancing hungrily with Draco's. He felt like he could stay locked in that position his entire life, and soon became brave enough to let his hands roam along Draco's torso.

After a while, Harry pulled back to catch his breath. His eyes had adjusted to the lack of light again, and he could make out Draco's features like shadows against a pale backdrop. He could see doubt flit across Draco's face, and Harry kissed him gently, brushing his blonde hair away from his face. Draco fully leaned into his touch this time, and Harry had to close his eyes and gain his bearings. It was unfathomable how quickly something could change, but as Draco's lips ghosted across his jaw, he almost felt like he had been building up to that point for ages.

When Harry shifted his weight slightly, he felt Draco's hardness press against his hip and heard the other wizard let out a quiet moan. Harry swallowed hard; his own cock throbbing at the thought that he was actually turning Draco on. He wrapped his shaking arms around Draco's body and thrust up against Draco's erection. They both groaned loudly and instantly began rutting against each other on the stairs.

"Harry," Draco whispered, after a few blissful moments of thrusting against one another. "Harry, I want…"

"Yes," Harry answered, so close to saying 'anything' that his knees got weak just thinking about what that meant. He barely registered Draco flicking the button of his trousers opened.

Harry cried out and clung to Draco as his cold hands wrapped around Harry's aching cock. Draco was murmuring unintelligible words of want and praise as Harry kept moving with his touch. He felt himself getting close to coming embarrassingly quickly all over Draco's skilful hands. He reached down and began to fiddle with the buttons on Draco's jeans, finally releasing his zipper. Draco was whimpering hungrily, his face buried in Harry's neck as his hand continued to pump lazily up and down Harry's dick.

Draco was longer and thinner than Harry, but his size was impressive and the smooth hardness beneath the palm of Harry's hand made the heat pool at the base of his spine. Harry whispered to
Draco what he hoped was an indication that he was about to come, and suddenly Draco's hand pulled away. Harry let out a soft groan.

"Like this, Harry," Draco spoke gruffly in Harry's ear. Harry couldn't resist the pull of his lips, and resumed kissing Draco with increasing fervour. He felt Draco's erection press against his own and Draco's hand wrap around both of them. It only took a few strokes before Harry and Draco were climaxing, holding on tightly to each other and interspersing their fading thrusts with lazy kisses. Draco slid down the wall and guided Harry down next to him on the lower stair.

"Harry…I…" Draco said, pulling Harry closely to him and breathing deeply.

Harry had no idea what to say. He had a world of promises dancing on his lips, and words that he'd never thought he'd have a chance to utter…let alone at another man. He had no idea where to go, where to move forward from, where they stood. Instead, he looked up at Draco's shadowed features and felt his eyelids getting heavier. Without spending another minute worrying about the next, Harry laid his head tentatively against Draco's lap. Draco straightened his leg across the step and curled a possessive hand around the back of Harry's neck. Harry slipped into a uncomfortable but peaceful sleep.


you know exactly what I want so
I don't have to be so damn up-front
no matter the moment we decide to make our minds up
I know a man who may need a new assignment

Draco's body ached horribly, but when he tried to shift, a hard edge dug into the tender skin of his lower back and made him grunt in pain. When he finally was able to creak his eyes open, he saw light parsing through dust particles in front of him at the top of a decrepit stairwell, and suddenly last night came flooding back to him. He looked down to see Harry Potter laying beside his lap, his head resting on the hard surface. Draco winced in sympathy.

"Harry," Draco whispered, nudging his shoulder. "Harry, we need to wake up and try to find a way out of here. It's light." Draco cleared his throat loudly in hopes of jostling him out of sleep.

Suddenly, Harry leapt up, crashing against the wall painfully before losing his footing. He gripped the railing to keep from falling all the way and Draco was struggling to hold him up. When they stopped, Draco was holding on to Harry tightly and Harry was breathing heavily and not meeting his eyes.

"Bit jumpy?" Draco asked, trying to sound nonchalant but worrying incessantly over the avoidance in Harry's eyes.

"I can be a bit paranoid if I've woken up too suddenly. Did I sleep on a bed of nails?" Harry asked, cracking his neck loudly.

"Just my bony legs I'm afraid," Draco sighed. He felt as though Harry was pulling away from him with nonchalance. He couldn't show he was hurt; it would cut him down far too much in front of someone who held more power over him than he would ever readily admit.

"Oh, um, yeah. I'm sorry about that," Harry said, scratching the back of his head and slowly making his way back down the stairs.

"I really didn't mind," Draco whispered.

He breathed in deeply and straightened his shoulders. He turned his nose up and dusted off his clothing. He followed Harry down the stairs with composure that would make his parents proud, and was eating him apart inside. He felt like an absolute sot for pretending for a few hours that he mattered, that things could change.

"Holy shit!" Harry yelled. Draco rushed down the stairs to see the trap door to the passageway was open. Harry was already gesturing for Draco to follow him as he sunk into the hole. Draco followed in after him, glad it was still dark underground so that he didn't have to wear such a hard mask.

Harry drew his wand and lit some of the torches on the wall, casting ominous shadows through the close space. He began walking quickly ahead of Draco, not once looking back. Draco watched him walk, flexing his fingers at the memory of Harry's flesh under his touch. As they made their way along the path, the tunnel twisted, turned, and then got a little narrower.

Draco and Harry were walking side by side, their arms brushing as the tunnel grew more claustrophobic and dark. He was used to the path, but he wasn't used to having company along it. He looked over at Harry to try to read his expression, but Harry's jaw was clenched and he was staring determinedly forward. However, just as Draco was about to fall back, Harry moved a little closer so that their forearms were brushing.

Draco took a chance and leaned in to the touch slightly. He heard Harry let out a breath, and Draco could feel the weight he was carrying float off of his shoulders slightly. He chuckled under his breath, and Harry let out a louder laugh. They stopped, and despite the dim light, he could see Harry's white teeth reveal a beatific smile.

Harry captured Draco's lips without warning, his tongue immediately invading his mouth. Draco groaned and pulled Harry against him, leaning against the dirty stone wall for support. Harry bit at Draco's neck and Draco cried out, grabbing his shoulder hard and throwing his head back. Harry licked up Draco's long pale neck and around the shell of his ear.

"Fuck," Draco groaned, trying to catch Harry's lips again.

"I can't believe this…I just…" Harry murmured, gasping when Draco's hands found their way up the back of his shirt. Harry regained control and swiftly yanked Draco's shirt over his head, popping a few buttons in the process.

"That shirt is-"

"I don't care if you sold your left kidney for it," Harry growled, pulling at Draco's belt. Draco relented and let Harry take down his pants. He slammed his fists painfully against the wall when he felt Harry's mouth engulf his cock.

Harry wasn't very skilled, he used slightly too much teeth and his pace was uneven, but Draco loved every second of it.

"Am I the first man you ever sucked off?"

Harry nodded and grabbed Draco's arse, pulling him deeper down the dark haired wizard's throat. Draco could feel himself getting close to climaxing and pulled away, sucking in air desperately. Harry looked up at him confused, but Draco reached out to pull Harry back up and kiss him. He moaned at the taste of his salty flesh in Harry's mouth.

"Tell me you're mine," Draco whispered urgently. "Tell me!"

"I'm yours. I'm yours Draco," Harry moaned, thrusting his clothed erection against Draco's sensitive cock. Draco was satisfied that even if it was an act, he could revel in the illusion.

Draco pulled Harry's trousers and pants down, follow them to the ground. He lifted his hands to Harry's leaking cock and smiled fiendishly as Harry emitted a desperate groan. Draco's hands were shaking, but he knew he had to risk it. He didn't think their encounter would ever leave the safety of the tunnel and the shack, and he wanted as much as he could get. He turned Harry around so his firm ass was in full view. He felt Harry tense under his touch.

"You don't have to do any of this, Harry. Just let me know…" Draco trailed off, clasping his hands in his lap. He hoped Harry wouldn't pull away now.

"Please," Harry whispered. "I need you."

Those perfect words reverberated through Draco's chest and he brought his hands up to Harry's arse, gripping the cheeks tightly. Harry gasped in shock when Draco pulled his cheeks apart and felt Harry's body falter when he let his hot breath ghosted over Harry's crevice. Draco drew his wand and cast a quick charm that he was only vaguely familiar with that would clean Harry's entrance. Harry cried out in shock.

Before Harry could protest, Draco stretched his tongue out and let it dance gently over Harry's hole. He pulled his cheeks further apart and thrust his tongue inside of Harry as far as he could get it without straining. Harry nearly fell down the wall, and Draco smiled as he held him up with his hands. He continued, revelling in Harry's moans as he grabbed his own cock in time with Harry's frantic strokes.

"Draco," Harry whimpered, and Draco knew it was now or never.

Draco stood up and pulled Harry's hips against his erection, hanging freely between the open zipper of his trousers. He felt Harry tense up, then he closed his eyes and pressed his forehead against the wall. Draco couldn't help himself, and he leaned against Harry, their naked thighs pressed up against each other. Harry's skin warmed Draco's like dying embers and he buried his face in the strong curve of Harry's shoulders.

"I want you so badly," Draco whispered, wrapping his arms around Harry's torso.

"It's okay. We can- I do too," Harry said, bringing his hands up and gripping Draco's.

"Just, let me know if I need to stop," Draco said, kissing down the side of Harry's neck as he reached between them and ran his fingers down Harry's crevice. It didn't take long for Draco to get two fingers inside of Harry's clenching entrance, as it was already slick and relaxed from his earlier efforts. When he curled his fingers and hit that key spot inside of Harry, the other wizard nearly screamed, banging a fist against the rough wall.

"Draco, please," Harry moaned, and Draco thought he might faint from the sound. He wanted to strip Harry naked and lay him down on the ground to worship every inch of his warm, dark, chiselled body. He wanted Harry to kiss him, suck him, even fuck him until they were so drained they fell asleep in each other's arms. He wanted a morning after…he wanted everything.

But Draco knew what he was getting into. In the harsh light of day, he'd never have Harry Potter. No one would allow it. And what would they think if they could hear his thoughts? What would everyone say if they could know he was carrying on like a lovesick schoolgirl? Draco couldn't stand to lose face, to be taken down so spectacularly far. Still, he had to have Harry, as much as he could.

Draco slowly entered Harry, breathing in and out deeply to keep from thrusting wildly into his magnificent tight heat. He felt Harry's body tense, and Draco pulled his face around to kiss him toward distraction. It worked and soon Draco was fully seated. He thrust in and out slowly until Harry began to push back powerfully, using the wall for leverage.

"Tell me how it feels," Draco whimpered.

"It's good. It's so good, Draco," Harry groaned, his head flopping until his cheek finally rested against the wall.

"I'm close, Harry," Draco said, his voice straining with the effort to hold back his climax. He reached around and wrapped his hand around Harry's and moved in time with Harry's strokes on his cock.

"Draco!" Harry shouted suddenly, hot spurts of cum coating their hands. Harry's shaking orgasm caused Draco to come hard and fast inside of Harry until they were both breathless and panting against the wall.

They stood there, catching their breath and holding tightly to each other for a while, and then Harry turned around and kissed Draco softly, bringing his hands up to Draco's face. Draco leaned into the kiss, his hands gripping Harry's forearms, and he allowed himself a small ray of hope before he shut down again, pulled away, and lifted his pants.

When they finished dressing, they walked the rest of the way to the castle in a silence that was so heavy that Draco felt it like an iron collar around his neck. They climbed the steps toward the entrance back into Hogwarts and Harry lifted the hatch before allowing Draco to go through. When they were both out, Draco busied himself with straightening his clothes as Harry closed the hump on the One-eyed Witch.

Harry looked up at Draco and scratched the back of his head. "Well, it's nearly time for everyone to get up and go down for breakfast. I suppose we should get back before someone starts worrying."

"No one's worried about me," Draco said, crossing his arms.

"Yes, well, still…we don't want to…yeah."

"Ever articulate," Draco drawled lazily, turning himself back to ice as Harry began to cut the thin ties that held them together.

"I'll see you later," Harry whispered. He walked up to Draco and Draco tensed, not knowing what to expect. Suddenly, something changed in Harry, and he turned around and walked briskly away.

Draco watched him walk away like losing a life raft. "Turn around…turn around," he could hear himself begging under his breath. "Please…Harry…just turn around," he cried quietly to himself. The messy-haired man stopped before he turned the corner to Gryffindor tower. Slowly, he turned back around and jumped when he saw Draco was still looking.

A wide, joyful grin spread across Harry's face before he shyly looked at his feet and turned back around and out of sight. Draco clenched his fists and smiled a tiny smile back at Harry's retreating form, letting out a breath in relief.

oh, desire can cause heart attacks. and desire.. it won't bring you back