A\N: Welcome to the party. I hope you're strapped in, cuz it's gonna be a bumpy ride...
Warnings: This fic will be slash, aka boy on boy action, aka dudes doin other dudes. If that's not your jam, then you probably won't be happy here. This story will also contain graphic depictions of drug use, drinking, and violence. There will also be graphic depictions of sexy times, cuddling, and boys feeling emotions that they may or may not want to feel. You have been warned!
Hello, it's me
I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet
To go over everything
They say that time's supposed to heal ya, but I ain't done much healing
I'd forgotten how it felt before the world fell at our feet
There's such a difference between us, and a million miles
Hello from the other side
I must have called a thousand times
To tell you I'm sorry for everything that I've done
But when I call you never seem to be home
Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I tried
To tell you I'm sorry for breaking your heart
But it don't matter, it clearly doesn't tear you apart anymore
Leaving that hospital room was the hardest thing Draco had ever done.
Disconnecting himself from the comfort of Harry's embrace had been like peeling the flesh from his bones. With it had come an unimaginable pain—warmth rushing out of his body, and a deep cold settling into the very fabric of his being. Standing up had somehow felt like sinking, and walking like falling. In a single moment, he'd been completely unraveled.
The hall had been empty when he'd entered it, the white walls gleaming and alarmingly bright. He was still standing just outside Harry's door, his feet rooted to the spot and refusing to move. Over and over he told himself that he'd done the right thing. Over and over he told himself that the pain he was feeling was only temporary—that the feelings he'd developed over the past months would wither as quickly as they'd grown.
He'd always been an exceptional liar.
"Draco," Pansy whined next to him, her voice overly loud in the reverberant Great Hall, "why did you cut your hair? It looks so much better when it's long." As if to make a point, she carded her fingers through his hair, letting out a soft, reverent breath that pooled against the nape of his neck.
Draco's hackles stood on end, but he managed to twist his mouth into a smirk before he turned towards her. He watched her pupils dilate as their eyes met. "Pansy, darling, I don't need you distracted by my hair when there are much better things you could be pulling on."
Draco could hear the responding swallow that traveled down her throat, but it gave him little satisfaction. Once upon a time, making Pansy melt in the palm of his hand had made him feel powerful. In control. Now, all he felt was a dark absence.
"Draco…do you think you'd be interested in—"
Draco flinched as the doors of the Great Hall opened. He felt Harry's presence before he even saw him, like a prickling pull in his chest. Then Harry's eyes were on him, and Draco felt time go still. It was startlingly painful to see those emerald eyes ignite with an age-old hatred. Long months had passed since Draco had last seen that look, and it rocked him to the very core. It made him feel sick—unbearably stripped apart by the sheer callousness in Harry's face.
Draco looked away, unable to hold the torturous connection any longer. The three made their way to their usual seats at the Gryffindor table, while Draco tried to smother the trembling in his hands.
Next to him, Pansy hissed. "Merlin, the prodigal ponces have returned. You can practically smell all that self-righteousness from here. I mean, look at that idiotic grin on Weasley's face. Goyle, you should definitely punch a few of his teeth out this year."
"That can be arranged," Goyle replied, looking giddy at the prospect of hitting something.
Pansy giggled shrilly, her hand moving back up to Draco's shoulder.
"No it can not," Draco snapped. "The both of you will leave those three alone this year, understood?" He glared at them each in turn, unsurprised to find them looking back at him matching expressions of bewilderment. "Do I need to repeat myself?"
Both of them shook their heads.
"Good. Spread that word to the rest of—" Draco's words fell off his tongue as he saw Granger stand and begin walking towards the head table. Heat curdled in his blood as he watched her walk forward, that arrogant, calculated look plastered on her face like a vendetta. She stopped right in front of McGonagall, pulling the headmistress from her conversation with Professor Flitwick. Smartest witch of her age indeed. Draco could practically taste the trouble she was brewing. If she dared—
Pansy's hand tightened on his shoulder. "Draco?"
He saw the moment McGonagall's face changed, and like a knee-jerk reaction, Draco felt his body go stiff. He didn't know whether he wanted to jump up and throttle Granger with his hands, or hex her from a distance. Both sounded like perfectly viable options.
"Go sit down, Miss Granger!" McGonagall said, her shrill voice ringing throughout the hall. Within the next second, her piercing gaze met his own. "Mr. Malfoy, see me in my office after breakfast."
Great. Draco snarled as he watched Granger retreat back to her seat. Just great.
"Is it true, then?" McGonagall asked. "What Miss Granger told me this morning?"
Draco rolled his shoulders back and crossed his arms over his chest. He decidedly did not want to be having this conversation. "Depends on what she told you."
McGonagall's lips thinned. "She told me that you obliviated Mr. Potter."
"Oh. Well then yes, she was telling the truth."
"Mind explaining why you did such a thing?"
Draco wrinkled his nose and shrugged.
"Mr. Malfoy," McGonagall said, leveling him with one of her more intimidating stares, "you're not doing yourself any favors here." She was staring at him over the expanse of her desk, her tall-backed chair looming behind her like a tower. Unlike Dumbledore, she kept very little on her desk to distract from the weight of her boring gaze, and Draco couldn't help but feel uneasy under it. "Now, the last time I saw you and Potter, you appeared to be getting on. Has that changed?"
Again, Draco shrugged. "A lot changed this summer, Professor."
"Look," Draco snapped, "I obliviated Potter for his own good. But there's no way you'd ever believe that so what's the point in explaining. So either punish me or don't. I really don't care which."
McGonagall's brows lowered. "You will mind your tone with me."
"Sorry." He wasn't.
"And I'm afraid you're right; I doubt I could believe there was any acceptable reason to use an obliviation spell on Mr. Potter," McGonagall said tersely. "But beyond that, mind-altering magic, of any form, is remarkably dangerous—for both the subject and the caster! Suppose you had taken more memories than you meant to? Suppose the spell had backfired and—Merlin forbid—you had given Mr. Potter permanent brain damage?"
Anger bloomed in Draco's chest like a flame, burning through him and scorching his veins. Draco's nails dug into the upholstery of his chair, scraping against the embroidered canvas. "No offense, Professor, but I'm not much for speaking in hypotheticals. Potter, as you may have noticed, is perfectly fine." He refrained from mentioning that he was sure any brain damage Harry currently suffered from had happened well before his Obliviation spell.
"That does not change the fact that it was not your place to invade the privacy of his mind. You're aware that what you did to him was illegal, and if the Ministry ever found out, you're of age to face the full penalty for it?"
Draco tore his gaze away from hers, picking a spot just below her right ear and zeroing in on it. "I've always taken you for a well read person, Professor. As such, I believe you're aware that invasion of privacy is the least worrying allegation I could receive from the Ministry at this point."
The surprise on McGonagall's face was sharp and poignant. She settled back into her chair, folding her hands in front of her. "I am…aware of the accusations the Ministry has lain against you, and—unfounded though I believe them to be—it is most certainly not in your best interest to give them another reason to pursue the case. Mr. Malfoy, I implore you—"
Unable to hear another word, Draco stood abruptly, nearly toppling his chair. He stared down at McGonagall, every cord of muscle in his body tight with a barely restrained emotion. What he had done for Harry wasn't wrong. It wasn't. And there was no way he was going to sit here and let someone tell him that it was. She didn't understand. She hadn't been there. She hadn't seen the look on Harry's face when Draco's spell had torn through him, ripping through flesh and bone alike and drawing out screams like water from a well.
"There's no need to worry, Professor," Draco said tersely. "I can take care of myself. I just need you to promise me that you won't tell him."
McGonagall looked at him, her green eyes splintering. "I cannot promise you that—not if telling him becomes a necessity."
"Then I'll make sure it never will."
It was just Draco's luck that he and Harry had nearly every class together. Most likely it was McGonagall's design, seeing as—technically—they had planned these weekend sessions together.
At least their joke of a Potion's professor hadn't paired them together. Getting Padma as a partner was the biggest relief he'd felt in months, which he later realized was a depressing testament to how awful his life had gotten.
Their first lesson together took off better than he expected. Padma was surprisingly bright, and they were able to converse easily as they worked through the potion. She laughed at his jokes, nodded approvingly at his suggestions, and over the course of the hour Draco found himself feeling a little lighter than before.
"Keep it down over there will you?" Harry hissed, and Draco felt reality jerk around him. Padma's startled eyes met his over the cauldron when she saw him fumble his cicada shell. Her smile fell as something just short of pity flashed across her face.
Not saying a word, Padma took the remainder of shells and finished cutting.
It wasn't long before Draco decided that he needed a distraction.
Seeing Harry every weekend was proving much harder than he'd initially anticipated. Harry's presence was like a constant thorn in his side. No matter how he tried, he couldn't seem to keep his eyes off of that dark tumble of hair, or the curve of that tanned cheek, or the long line of that throat.
It wasn't until the third week of classes, when Draco had caught himself staring during the Potion's lecture yet again, that he realized who Harry was sitting next to. Terry Boot.
An idea rolled over in Draco's mind.
Terry Boot…with his dark tumble of hair, and his tan cheeks, and his long neck. A small smile curled at the edges of Draco's mouth. Terry Boot would do.
Draco stepped onto the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch for the first time in over a year and felt an unfamiliar twist of nausea in his stomach. For some reason he hadn't expected to see Harry among the contenders. It was stupid of him. Of course Harry would try out for a Quidditch team. Why wouldn't he? He was a natural flier and a prodigy seeker—it would have been crazy for him not to be there.
Fidgeting amongst the group of keepers, Draco tried to keep his mind on the task at hand instead of calculating the odds that he and Harry would end up on the same team. Of course, Weasley, who was looking particularly stupid amongst the keepers in his hideous leather helmet, was being his usual unhelpful self.
"Hey, Malfoy," Weasley whispered out of the side of his mouth. The buffoon probably thought he was being covert. "Malfoy!"
"What?" Draco favored him with a cool glare.
Weasley looked towards the group of seekers, making sure that Harry wasn't watching them before turning fully towards Draco. "How are you?"
Huffing, Draco rolled his eyes. "Weasley, I'm not sure I can stomach you pretending to care about my wellbeing right now."
Weasley frowned, and a bit of that familiar fire flickered in his blue eyes. "Don't be an arse—I'm making an effort to be nice here."
"Well don't. You're obviously bollocks at it."
Weasley started forward and stopped, his fists balling at his sides. "Merlin, you really are a nasty prick aren't you. How Harry ever liked you is beyond me."
The mentioning of Harry's name was like the strike of a whip. For a moment, all Draco could see was red, and the next thing he knew he was inches away from Weasley, his teeth clenched and his chest tight. Weasley blinked owlishly at him, looking startled upon finding Draco so close.
Draco had been itching for a fight for weeks now, and Weasley's ugly face was practically begging to be punched, but Draco somehow managed to rein himself in. He knew that Harry would throw a fit if he caught Draco duking it out with his favorite lackey, and the goal for this year was to interact with Harry as little as possible. With no small amount of difficulty, Draco forced himself to step back.
"Go be nice to someone else, if you're so keen," he sneered. "Just so long as you stay away from me." Draco mounted his broom and took off into the air, ready to give the next quaffle thrown at him the pummeling of its life.
"Draco Malfoy! First string keeper for the Dragons." Madam Hooch announced.
Of course. Of bloody fucking course. How could he have possibly thought he could have this thing—just this one little thing—for himself? Merlin he was an idiot.
Training his face into a placid smirk, Draco called back, "No thanks, Madam Hooch!" He threw his broom over his shoulder, the wood pressing painfully against his collarbone. Somehow he welcomed the pain—it grounded him in a moment that he was quite sure he was crumbling. He could practically feel Harry's gaze on him, seeking a look that Draco couldn't afford to give. "I've changed my mind."
Madam Hooch glanced up from her list, her brow scrunched. "Mr. Malfoy? You're turning down a first string position?" She sounded like she didn't quite believe him. Perhaps she'd never heard of anyone turning down a first string position before.
"That's the general idea," he replied, thankful that his voice held steady. "I'll just enjoy Quidditch from the stands this year. Great team names, though. I'll certainly have trouble figuring out who to root for this year."
Heart pounding, Draco turned and walked away from the crowd — away from Harry. He couldn't take those eyes on him a moment longer — he wasn't strong enough to withstand it. He wasn't strong enough to stand there and act like he was made of stone. When that had changed, he didn't know. A couple of years ago, something like this would never have phased him. How had one summer changed so much?
Draco's entire body jerked to a stop so suddenly that he nearly tripped over his own feet. The sound of Harry's voice yelling his name sent a rush of adrenaline through his blood, causing his heart to crash against his ribcage before it stuttered to a halt. Slowly, Draco turned, all of the heat draining out of his face. Harry stood not ten feet away, his body a cacophony of wiry rage. It was the closest they had been in nearly a month, and Draco's nerves were alive with the need to close the final distance that separated them.
"What is it, Potter?" Draco asked, nearly wincing at how timid the question sounded.
"I—" Harry paused, seeming to struggle with something. "Why did you turn down the position?"
The next breath Draco took stuck in his lungs. He could see what Harry was trying to do. The ponce was less predictable than a broken clock. But he wasn't going to fight with Harry. He wasn't going to allow them to fall back into this pattern. He didn't trust himself enough to let himself get that close to the other boy again.
Draco shifted on his feet. "It's none of your business."
Harry was obviously surprised by the lack of bite in Draco's response; he'd never been any good at hiding his emotions. But instead of placating him, Draco's only seemed to make him angrier. "You really couldn't stomach the idea of being on the same team as me, could you? The idea really repulses you so much that you'd give up Quidditch?"
The reactive fire that sparked in Draco was pure instinct. Whenever he was attacked, his first instinct was to attack back, viciously and without remorse. Several venomous words skittered through Draco's mind, and it was an effort to keep them from flying off of his tongue. Gritting his teeth, he replied, "Those are your words, Potter, not mine. Don't act like they came from my mouth."
"But that's why, isn't it?" Nails digging into his palms, Harry stepped forward. He looked like a lion stalking a wounded gazelle.
Harry was obviously starving for a fight just as much as he was. It was understandable, Draco supposed—Harry's mind was probably subconsciously seeking out the things that it had lost. When it came down to it, the brain was an incredibly resourceful organ, and it rebelled against magic with fervency, becoming all the more tangled as it tried to unravel itself. Draco stared down at Harry's clenched fists as an ache cemented itself in his heart. "If you want me to be specific then I will. You're right, I don't want to be on the same team as you."
Draco watched Harry deflate like punctured balloon, and a cold stone dropped in his stomach. "Now, if your curiosity is sated," he turned on his heel, "I have a date to get ready for."
As soon as he was sure he was out of sight, Draco collapsed to his knees, struggling to pull air into his lungs.
Draco shoved Terry up against the bookshelf in the Malfoy Manor library, crashing their lips together in a messy impression of a kiss. He tasted of bergamot and cinnamon and other flavors that were nothing like Harry, but Draco had enough alcohol in his system not to care. With his eyes closed, Draco's imagination was enough to make do. He pushed his finger's into Terry's hair, tangling them there even as he pulled Terry's bottom lip into his mouth and sucked headily on it.
"Draco," Terry breathed, rutting against him. They were both painfully hard, and had far too many layers separating them to do much about it. "Not here. Let's go to your bed."
"No," Draco growled, pressing Terry harder into the bookshelf. He slotted his thigh between Terry's legs, earning him a groan that was pointedly different than the high-pitched gasp Harry would've given him. It was enough to make Draco pull back sharply. Large eyes stared at him, bright and painfully blue.
Draco's hands tightened their hold on Terry's hair. "I want you to understand one thing," he said, tipping Terry's head back and pressing his lips into the newly exposed flesh, unable to stand the sight of the other boy's face a moment longer, "what we're doing here isn't going to be romantic, and it most certainly isn't going to involve beds. This is just sex. Got it?"
"Yes," Terry purred, arching up into him. "Merlin, yes."
Narcissa tore her eyes away from the fire to look at Draco, a hefty glass of brandy clutched in her thin hand. They were both seated in the drawing room, Lucius' empty chair like a cavern between them. Dark shadows shaded the angular lines of her face, making her cheeks gaunt and sallow. Draco stared at her, wishing he couldn't remember what she'd looked like before the war—so sharp and full of life. It was his father's death that had finally sent her over the edge. Draco hardly saw her anymore, but when he did he couldn't help but notice how skeletal her frame had gotten; how hazed her eyes had grown.
He'd started brewing potions to help her sleep, but nothing he did could soften the screams that her nightmares brought. They'd finally had to turn to Dreamless Draughts, despite its addictive qualities. The manor had seen silent nights after that, but never peaceful ones. As it turned out, silence was as potent a poison as any other.
Idly, Draco swirled the amber liquid in his own glass, overly aware of the weight of it in his hand as he spoke. "Did you know about the diary?" It had been a question that had been weighing on his mind for a while now, and he no longer held the discipline or the sobriety to keep it in.
Recognition flashed across his mother's gaze for a moment before it was lost to the hearth. "It doesn't make a difference now if I knew or not." She took a long drink from her glass of brandy. "Nothing could've saved your father."
Draco set his glass of scotch down on the coffee table in front of him. "You still could've told me. I could have…I could have helped."
"He's dead, Draco," Narcissa replied bitterly.
"I don't want to hear another word about it."
Draco's mouth snapped shut. He leaned forward to reclaim his glass of scotch, and downed it in one swig. It barely even burned as it traveled down his throat. He was going to need to get something stronger.
The first day Draco saw Harry and Ginny holding hands in the hallway, he had to run to the bathroom to be sick. Bile had surged up his throat over and over again as his stomach turned itself inside out. He'd distantly heard Terry follow him into the stall, bending down at his side and stroking his back in a way that Draco was sure was meant to be soothing, but somehow had only made him more sick.
This was what he had wanted, wasn't it? For Harry to be happy? So why did seeing it hurt so much? Why was there still this void in his chest that nothing could fill?
It had been months since Harry had saved his soul. Months. There was no reason he should still be feeling this way. No reason at all.
Draco had always believed that tragedies came in threes. So when he'd received the letter from the Ministry informing him of the date of his trial, he'd thought that that was the end of it. He'd lost his father, he'd lost Harry, and now he would lose his freedom. Those were his three tragedies. Clean cut and simple.
Draco should have known that he was always the exception to the rule.
From the moment he'd entered the house, a feeling of trepidation had warped into an incessant shiver down the length of his spine. A stark and stinging cold had permeated the air, and an overly quiet stillness had pressed in on him like a weight, making his bones heavy and his mouth dry. Dark magic had touched him so often throughout his life that the feeling of it had become second nature to him, but this had been different. The stench of it had filled the manor, as pungent and sickeningly sweet as an overripe peach.
It hadn't taken him long to find her. Her body lay draped across his father's favorite chair, stiff and pale with dark strips of blood staining her wrists and the floor below. He didn't know how long he stood there staring at her, unable to comprehend anything except for complete and absolute cold. It wasn't until the house elves arrived that he saw the basilisk fang knife on the ground, a folded piece of parchment speared through by the blood-soaked blade.
Draco swept down and grabbed the knife, fleeing the stifling room for the moonlit hall. His breath sounded overly loud in his ears as he pulled the note from the knife and unfolded it.
My dearest son,
I know that this won't be an easy thing for you to bear. I know that, in doing this, I've failed you, and that you will probably never forgive me. But you must understand, that I feel certain I am going mad. Whatever hope for life was left in me after the war was destroyed when your father died, and I fear I shan't recover. The idea of you being sentenced to Azkaban haunts me like a spectre. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. You see, I cannot even write this properly. So I am doing what seems to be the best thing to do.
I want you to know that you have given my life the greatest possible happiness. You have been, in every way, all that a son could be, and I know that in doing this, I am spoiling your life. So in my final moments, I want to say that I owe all the happiness in my life to you. If anybody could have saved me, it would have been you. Everything is gone from me but the certainty of your goodness.
I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been.
Tears fell before Draco had realized they'd even formed, blotting the parchment and making the ink run in streaks of mottled black. A furious scream tearing through him, Draco ripped the letter apart and threw it to the ground, falling to his knees and burying his face in his hands.
Pansy's voice was a distant hum in his ear and Draco inclined his head towards her, giving the impression that he was listening. But his attention was fixed across the Great Hall on two figures basking in the morning light. Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley sat, all smiles and soft touches, their bodies curled into each other in an expression of intimacy that had Draco's nails digging into the wood of his seat.
"Draco," Pansy continued gently, "about your mum…if—if you want to talk about it…"
Had Draco really known that sort of happiness once? He hardly knew. It seemed so far away now.
Goyle placed a large hand on his shoulder, and Draco felt himself sag under the weight of it. "We're so sorry, Draco."
Somewhere deep inside of him, he knew that this feeling of hopelessness would pass. Eventually, time would heal these wounds, just like it healed everything else. He just wished it didn't have to hurt so damn much in the meantime. It was odd, how little he felt besides pain these days. It was as if he'd become numb to every other emotion, and all that was left of him was a miserable husk.
Harry burst out laughing, and the sound of it carried across the hall and pierced through Draco's heart.
Without a word, Draco stood up from his seat and left the Great Hall.
Draco left his last final in Arithmancy feeling deflated, his head pounding and his brain fried. He had to hand it to the lecturers that Harry and McGonagall had pulled together—they certainly knew how to give brutal tests.
Goyle and Pansy met him in the third floor eastern corridor, both of them smiling and talking excitedly about the upcoming holiday break. Draco remained silent while they talked, enjoying the upbeat timbre of their voices. It was a nice change from the somber mood that had hung over them since his mother's funeral. Pansy and Goyle both had gotten off of their trials with only a slap on the wrist and a few hours of community service to perform, which had done a considerable amount to brighten their spirits. It was the first bit of good news they'd had in months, and something about it felt like a breath of fresh air after being held underwater for far too long.
"Shove it you serpentine brat!"
And just like that, the bubble burst. Draco found himself growing stiff as he turned to find a livid Seamus Finnigan towering over a young boy. Several students stopped around them, pulled by curiosity and a lack of anywhere else to go now that finals were over. Draco recognized the boy—he'd seen him often enough, studying in the lamplit corners of the Slytherin common room.
Finnigan reared his foot back, and Draco found himself springing forward so violently that his muscles stung in the aftershock of the movement. "Finnigan!" Draco snarled, and the entire hall seemed to go still. "You touch that boy and I'll rip out your throat!"
Finnigan spun on him, his pale face going red. "Well, well if it isn't the ferret. I haven't heard a squeak out of you all year. I thought they locked you up and threw away the key."
"Sorry to disappoint. They were going to throw away the key, but then they realized that my family practically funds half the Ministry. Funny how money changes opinions so much faster than bullying, but I guess you wouldn't know much about that."
Finnigan scoffed, but Draco could see the tips of his ears growing red. "No amount of money is going to save you from what you did."
"And no cell they throw me in is going to make your brother any less dead, nor is it going to make my wand the one that cast the spell that did it."
Draco saw the moment Finnigan's temper boiled over. His lips grew tight, and his nostrils flared as a tepid rage took hold. He stormed forward in a rush, and Draco felt Goyle go tense behind him. "I hope you get what you deserve!" Finnigan yelled. "I hope they send you straight to Azkaban!"
"Well your wish may very well come true, Finnigan. But don't get your knickers in a twist if it doesn't. I've hired lawyers who could probably convince you that you're a toad, though now that I look at you," Draco eyed him up and down, one of his brows flicking up, "the resemblance is so close that even Goyle could probably do that much."
"They shouldn't even allow Death Eaters to have lawyers! That mark on your arm should be enough to put you away for life! Dead parents or no!"
Red flashed across Draco's vision as he felt his entire body go hot. At his side, Goyle's entire body bowed, and Draco felt the ground quiver beneath is feet. "Don't you dare—Goyle, back!" With a jerk of Draco's arm, Goyle stilled, but Draco could feel him itching to leap forward. As much as Draco would like to see Goyle's fist sink into Finnigan's ugly face, he wasn't going to let his friend break his probation for something so menial. "Insult me however you like, Finnigan, but don't you dare bring my parents up ever again! If you do, I'm more than happy to go to Azkaban with your murder on my list of transgressions!"
Finnigan bared his teeth in a cruel imitation of a smile. "Did your mother kill herself before or after she found out about the trial? It was before, wasn't it."
Whatever control that had existed inside of Draco snapped. In a blind fury, he sprung forward, his fist raised and ready to strike, but in the next instant a blur of green and black appeared in front of him, and long fingers wound themselves firmly around his wrist. Air rushed from Draco's lungs as his eyes met Harry's, and his heart slammed so hard against his sternum it made him dizzy with pain.
Harry's touch was like black fire, searing his flesh and sinking into his bones. The entire world seemed to rock around him, tilting on its axis. Draco couldn't do this. He couldn't stand here with Harry's hand on him and not burst apart. "Let go of me, Potter," Draco snarled desperately. Somewhere in his peripheral, he saw another movement. "Goyle, back off!"
The air around them crackled and snapped as Draco and Goyle's tempers seeped out.
"Everyone get out of here!" Harry yelled. "Now!"
"Hey," Finnigan said from somewhere behind Harry. "Harry, thanks for—"
Harry's head turned, his green eyes flashing. His grip on Draco's wrist tightened to the point where Draco felt his bones creak. "Get the hell out of here, Seamus! And I better not see you anywhere near Malfoy again, is that clear?"
"GO!" Harry thundered, and everyone around them jumped at the sharpness in his voice. The surrounding circle of students scattered like roaches, retreating back into their holes.
Attempting to take advantage of Harry's distraction, Draco gave his arm another hard pull. Unfortunately, Harry's grip held firm. "Let go of me!" Draco hissed. "If you think I won't hex you into the other side of oblivion then you—"
And then Harry's eyes were on him, and all coherent thought flew from his mind. It was the first time in nearly four months that Draco had seen those eyes from this close, and that bright celadon pierced straight through him, making his breath catch in his lungs and his veins fill with electricity. Every nerve ending was alight with Harry's closeness, effervescent and bubbling like his blood had turned into champagne.
"He shouldn't have said those things to you."
The sound of Harry's voice jolted Draco back into reality. He blinked at Harry, his mouth overly dry as he replied, "No…he shouldn't have."
Harry exhaled, and Draco felt it like a warm breeze against his face. "And you shouldn't have baited him."
"I didn't—!" Draco bit his tongue against the retort that had nearly spilled over his tongue. He'd almost forgotten how easy this was—how easy it was to let his control slip. He forced the tenseness out of his muscles, settling himself into the cold mask he'd been wearing all year. "Fine. Whatever. Are we done here?"
With an odd look, Harry released him. "Yes."
Tenderly, Draco rubbed at his wrist, finding it incredibly difficult to hold still under the sharpened tip of Harry's stare. It was odd—the last time Harry had looked at him, his eyes had been filled with the same restless anger that had perpetuated their fights for six long years, but now there was something softer there; a gentle glow where fire had once lived. That look nettled at Draco's nerves, drudging up emotions he'd thought he'd long since buried.
Harry must have heard what Finnigan had said about his parents. Pity was the only thing Harry was feeling…nothing else. It couldn't be anything else.
Draco's entire body jolted as he turned to see Terry racing down the hall towards him. Terry stopped in front of him, panting and red-faced, and cupped his hands around Draco's jaw. Draco nearly jerked away as the icy fingers slid over his skin—they were so different from the blazing warmth that had emanated from the hand that had just been on his wrist.
"Merlin, are you alright?" Terry raised himself on his toes to place a kiss on Draco's cheek. "Are you hurt?"
Stomach churning, Draco removed Terry's hands from his face, and wished he wasn't so intensely aware of Harry's presence at his side. He hated the idea of Harry seeing him with someone else—of him seeing how fake it all was. "I'm fine."
Without another word, Harry turned on his heel and left.
The old witch nodded, her heavily lined face folding into her smile. "Top of the line stuff, sir, rest assured. One dose of this and all of life's troubles will seem another world away."
Draco looked at the small bag of brown powder thoughtfully. Pursing his lips, he nodded. "I'll take all that you have."
Draco sighed and leaned back in his chair, smoke uncurling from his mouth and floating weightlessly through the air. A soft tingling settled over his limbs, and Draco closed his eyes as he sank into it. Warmth enveloped him like a blanket, and Draco couldn't help but imagine Harry's arms wrapping around him and gripping him tight.
One week. He only had one week left before his freedom would be stolen from him. One week before he would spend the rest of his life in a cage.
The thought didn't make his throat close up with fear like it usually did. The opium helped with that. He didn't want to spend his last days in fear—he didn't want that to be the way people remembered him in the end.
Draco felt the lazy pull of his consciousness turn his head. A figure stood in the doorway, his dark silhouette fringed with yellow from the candlelight in the hall. All it took was the sight of black curls and soft skin and Draco's heart was stuck in his throat. Then the figure stepped into the room, lighting up his features, and Draco felt a wave of cold drop over him. Terry grinned at him, his blue eyes bright with excitement.
"The ball is already in full swing I think," Terry said, sounding a little breathless. "Are you ready to go up? You look fabulous by the way."
Brows flicking up, Draco glanced down at himself, his eyes traveling over the freshly starched silver robes down to the hand cradling the smoking blunt in his lap. A little bit of ash fell from the tip, staining the fabric with a smudge of black. He looked back up at Terry, smirking. "Thanks."
Terry closed the distance between them, his lips curled in a predatory smile. He carded his fingers through Draco's hair as he took another long drag, allowing the warm tingle of smoke to settle the bile stirring in his stomach. "We don't have to go you know." Terry leaned down, his breath overly sweet. "I can think of plenty of other ways we could spend the night."
"No." Draco pulled away from Terry's touch and stood. "I want to go."
Terry's hands retreated back to his sides where they fidgeted unsurely. "Alright," he said. "Then let's go."
They made their way up to the Great Hall in silence, Draco taking his time finishing his blunt and enjoying how light his limbs were starting to feel. Once he'd burned the opium down to the nub, he flicked it off to the side and breathed out a final puff of smoke.
Terry looked up at him, his nose scrunching. "That doesn't smell like a cigarette."
"That's because it's not."
"What is it then?" Terry asked.
The low thrum of music grew in the air, the bass vibrating in Draco's chest with a slow, steady beat. He knew Terry was waiting for a response, but there wasn't one Draco could think to give that wouldn't ruffle the other boy's easily incensed feathers. So instead he led Terry into the Great Hall, and hoped that the general hoopla would be enough to distract him.
Luckily, Terry had a very short attention span.
"Oh wow!" Terry's jaw dropped in awe. "Fantastic!"
The Great Hall was dusted in layers of snow and ice, luxurious crystalline chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and sparkling in blue candlelight. Large Christmas trees towered along the outer rim of the hall, draped in red and silver garland, with long tables practically overflowing with treats nestled between each of them. Draco smirked when he saw them—Crabbe would've been in heaven. Smaller round tables and chairs were scattered around the front of the room, but most of them were unoccupied in favor of the dance floor at the far end of the hall.
"I'm going to go get some punch," Terry said excitedly. "Do you want any?"
Draco's eyes continued scanning the room, his chest still bubbling warmly, and with a soft, electric pulse, they fell on a familiar head of dark, untamable curls. His heart stirred behind his ribs, and his blood grew hot beneath his skin.
"No," he replied. "I'm going to look around for a bit."
Terry scampered off, leaving Draco with nothing but empty space filled with possibilities.
One week. He only had one week left, and then he would never see Harry again. He would never have another chance to look into those green eyes and feel like he was, at last, home.
Taking a deep breath, Draco walked towards the table where Harry sat.
Draco closed his eyes, pressing his spine against the rigid wooden back of the chair. It was the first time he'd ever been in a court room, and he had to admit, thus far it hadn't been the most comfortable of experiences.
Hours upon hours they had questioned him—pulling details from his mind he hadn't even realized were there. He felt like his brain had turned to liquid, and that if he tipped his head it might spill out of his ears. All he wanted was for it to be done. They'd seen his mark, they'd heard his opinions concerning muggles—the other questions were just a pointless torture, dangling the prospect of hope in front of him like a string in front of a cat, wanting him to pounce just so they could pull it away at the very last second.
The deep rumble of Shacklebolt's voice was enough to pull Draco back to the room. Draco stared at him, cold and completely numb.
"There has been one last piece of evidence submitted in your defense."
Draco's brow furrowed, and he cast a furtive glance at his lawyers. They looked just as confused as he was, their foreheads creasing as they shuffled anxiously through their notes.
"A letter," continued Shacklebolt, "from Harry Potter."
The lurch of Draco's stomach was so violent he was nearly sick. He straightened up in his chair, his pulse suddenly pounding. Questions rose up his throat and dried up in his mouth before they could escape.
"A letter like this is…unprecedented in this courtroom and among this administration, but nevertheless I am letting it stand. And, having taken all of the facts into consideration, this letter defending your character has tipped the scales of my opinion." Shacklebolt paused, holding up a single piece of parchment. A faint smile grew on his lips. "I am inclined, Mr. Malfoy, as is the rest of the court, to find you not guilty of the charges brought against you." He set the piece of parchment down, the ghost of the smile still shining in his eyes long after his expression had returned to stone. "I hereby deem you a free man, Mr. Malfoy. You are free to go."
It was a long time before Draco found the strength to move from his seat.
Freedom rang in Draco's bones like a mantra. He was mad with it—sick with it. It was like a poison in his blood that he needed to pour out.
Terry moaned his name as Draco pressed into him, their bodies trembling against the swath of silk sheets on Draco's bed. His hands gripped Terry's hips, pinning them down as Draco pounded into him. Whatever concoction he'd injected into his arm just minutes before Terry had arrived was burning through him now, searing through the tangled web of lies he'd so carefully constructed around himself.
It was hard now, to separate reality from the imaginings inside his head, and somehow the differences and the similarities were all starting to blend together. His world had become one huge mess of static and color, where paradoxes prevailed and he walked free because of a letter that never should have been written. There was little he wouldn't have given to see what folly Harry had transcribed—to have held the letter in his hands and slid his fingers over the words, feeling the soft ridges of ink and parchment and lies.
Why did Harry have screw with his life even now? They'd had their final moment of peace at the Christmas Ball and that was supposed to have been the end of it. That was supposed to have been the end of everything.
Draco buried his face into the warm neck beneath him, his hand gripping a head of soft curls. A honey-thick heat was starting to curl at the base of his spine, radiating out into the tips of his fingers and toes.
A soft moan vibrated the vocal cords under Draco's lips. "Draco!"
Draco sighed. "Harry…"
Beneath him, Terry jerked as if he'd just been slapped. Then, everything went very still. "What…what did you just say?" Terry whispered.
Draco froze, sucking in a guilty breath.
Suddenly, hands were shoving Draco to the side, and Draco found himself falling to the floor, his tailbone hitting hard stone. Whatever warmth had been simmering beneath his skin was abruptly replaced with ice. He saw Terry scrambling off the bed, and Draco felt his stomach leap up into his throat as the realization hit him.
"Terry." Draco tried to block Terry's path to his clothes, but he pushed Draco aside with an icy clarity.
"Don't touch me!" Terry hissed, grabbing his pants and pulling them on.
Before Terry could grab his shirt, Draco plucked it off the ground and held it out of reach. Terry glared at him, rage practically emanating from his trembling form. "Terry, stop. Let me explain."
"Explain?" Terry shouted. "Draco, how can you possibly think you can explain something like that? You just said someone else's name while we were having sex! I mean what the actual fuck!"
"Terry, calm down. You're overreacting."
Apparently this was not the right thing to say. Untethered rage erupted from Terry like a bursting flame. He threw his elbow into Draco's ribs, knocking the air out of him, and tore the shirt from his hands. "How long have you fucking him behind my back?"
Draco gulped, doubling over as he tried to pull oxygen into his lungs. He turned his head to look up at Terry, a hint of mirth flickering just behind his snarl. "Who?"
"Don't play dumb with me, Draco!"
Draco stared at him. "You're accusing me of fucking Potter?"
Vaguely, Draco toyed with the idea of obliviating this whole mess from Terry's mind. What was one more lost memory after all? Then he wouldn't have to worry about Terry spreading rumors about him, and he could keep a warm body in his bed for a little while longer. Until he screwed it all up again…just like he always did.
"Aren't you?" Terry snarled, but Draco saw doubt flash across his face like a beacon.
Draco gave a humorless, barking laugh and it echoed through the empty room like the squeal from an out-of-tune violin. This was what his life had dwindled down to; standing naked in his own room and defending himself to someone whose opinion he valued little more than a house elf's earwax. Merlin, he'd grown so weary of it all. "Are you out of your bloody mind? Surely even the Ravenclaws noticed the amount of havoc Potter and I wreaked on each other's lives over the last seven years. I can't stomach the sight of that bastard, let alone think about fucking him."
Terry's blue eyes narrowed. "You're not as good of a liar as you think you are, Draco. Tell me you're not fucking him. I want to hear those words exactly."
"I'm not fucking him," Draco seethed through gritted teeth. "Not that it would matter if I was. You're not my sodding boyfriend."
For some reason, those words seemed to hit Terry harder than anything else had. He seemed to shatter where he stood, all trembling limbs and pieces about to fall apart. "No," Terry said slowly. "No…I don't suppose I am."
Expression alarmingly blank, Terry brushed past Draco towards the door.
Draco turned, watching him leave and feeling absolutely nothing.
"You know what, Harry?" The sound of Terry's voice was like a burning coal pressing against Draco's nerves. Padma glanced up at him as he stopped peeling his half of the frog legs. "If you two want to keep pretending, that's fine, but I don't want to be dragged in the middle of it, alright? It's sick. What you're doing with him is—"
"Terry!" Draco snapped, cutting through the silence of the room like the clang of a bell.
Draco straightened, his fists clenching at his sides. He should have obliviated the fool when he'd had the chance. How could he have been so stupid?
Terry whirled on him, his blue eyes shining with tears that Draco couldn't find it in himself to feel. The person standing in front of him might as well have been a ghost.
The Professor's attention broke from his work for only a moment. "Boys? If there's a problem, please take it out of my classroom."
Draco turned and stalked out of the classroom, unsurprised to hear Terry follow him. He could feel Terry's glare on his back like the hot burn of the sun.
As soon as the door to the classroom shut behind them, Terry's hand was on his shoulder, spinning him around. Draco jerked back, snarling, "Don't touch me!"
Terry flinched back, tears spilling over his cheeks. For some reason, the sight of it only made Draco more angry. "Just tell me one thing, Draco; why are the two of you still keeping it a secret?"
"There is nothing going on between me and Potter."
"Like hell there isn't! I saw you that night with him at the Christmas Ball—the way you looked at him, like you've never once looked at me! The way you whispered his name in my ear like you've never once said mine! You think I'm an idiot? You don't have to lie to me about it, Draco! I just want you to admit it to me! Merlin, instead you've made me look like a bloody idiot! Do you know what it's like to go through what I'm going through now? To be with someone and think that they're with you to only to find out—"
Draco's temper finally boiled over. "That's enough! Whatever you think you're going to get from me out of this little tirade, it's not going to happen. I told you that first night what this was. If you let yourself think it was more then that's nobody's fault but your own."
Terry's face seemed to crumple in on itself. He looked as if he wanted the ground to open up and swallow him whole, and Draco found himself thinking that he'd never seen anyone more spineless. It was revolting, watching this boy fall to pieces over him. And in that moment, Draco couldn't help but hate Terry—he hated that he saw in Terry all the things he hated in himself.
Terry's resolve broke like a crashing wave. "God, Draco! Fuck you! How can you be so damn cruel?"
Then, a subtle breath of movement flickered over Terry's shoulder. Draco's eyes moved towards it, and he felt every muscle in his body go still. Terry, too, turned, the veins in his neck quivering. The cup of Terry's emotion finally tipped, and he took off in a run down the corridor, leaving Draco and Harry alone in the silence of his wake.
Harry watched him go, but Draco found he couldn't be bothered. He didn't understand what was happening—why Harry kept injecting himself into Draco's life like he still belonged there. "You shouldn't have followed us out here," Draco said crisply. "It was between me and him."
Harry didn't move. "You…you guys broke up?"
The question rattled the cage of Draco's temper. "It's not any of your business, Potter." And it wasn't. Nothing in his life was Harry's business anymore. "Go back inside."
And then Harry's eyes were back on him, hitting Draco like a punch in the gut. He didn't know what it was about those eyes that transfixed him so—made him forget all the rage and the anger and the pain in the space of an instant. And Draco hated him for it.
"He was going off on me about it—I say that makes it my business."
"He was stupid and got himself hurt. That's all."
Harry's brows drew together, the line between them growing deep. "Then why was he acting like it was my fault?"
"Leave it alone, Potter!" Draco snarled. He could feel his control wearing thin—a needle poised and about to pierce through.
"Did he find out that you did drugs? Is that it? Did he find out that I knew about it or—"
Draco launched forward, his fist slamming into Harry's nose.
Harry reeled back, but Draco was back upon him in an instant, grabbing him by the shoulders and shoving him back. They fell to the ground together, Draco's fists slamming into every bit of flesh they could find. Heat flared through his veins as Harry's breath whooshed out of his mouth and his body writhed.
And then, something inside of Harry seemed to break. Draco felt it, curling under the cords of strong muscle and bone. With a surge, Harry retaliated, fists flailing and feet kicking at anything they could hit.
Draco remembered this—remembered it like he remembered breathing. The mad scramble of limbs. The fierce need to dominate, to control, to move. He felt himself come alive beneath the warmth of Harry's blows, and Merlin, all he could think was, finally.
He wanted more…more of whatever this was. More rage. More heat. More release from the numb anger that had held him captive all the months since he'd made Harry forget.
Somewhere along the way Draco lost himself in the warm slide of their bodies, his hands uncurling and trading punches for scratches along tender skin, and snarls for heady bites where teeth sought bone. The sound of Harry's gasp jarred Draco back to reality. He went still, the weight of his body heavy and tense on top of Harry's.
Draco pulled back, the urge to lick Harry's neck so overwhelming it was making him dizzy. "I hate you, Potter." Draco moved his hand up to Harry's throat, as if he could suffocate the emotion tearing through him if only he squeezed hard enough. "I hate you so much that I can't stand it. Why can't you just leave me alone?"
He couldn't take it anymore. He couldn't stand living in a world where nothing except this felt real.
"Merlin…you can't even fathom how much I hate you." To make matters worse, he knew Harry could feel it too. Knew it, like he knew his own name. Harry was once again looking in all of the wrong places for the thing that would fill that void of darkness inside of him. He was reverting back to the misplaced rage that their fights had always allowed them to dispel, but…something about it was different now. And Draco wasn't strong like Harry was—he didn't know how much longer he could refuse the temptation.
Draco pushed out a heady breath, and his ears rang with the sound of Harry's responding whine.
The sound was like being doused with a bucket of ice water. Draco jerked back, leaping to his feet and sprinting away down the hall. He was too close to losing control—too close to undoing all of the mistakes he'd rectified. This wasn't supposed to happen. Losing Harry wasn't supposed to unravel him like this; rip him apart at the seams and leave him hopelessly broken.
What if…what if making Harry forget had been the wrong thing to do?
Draco shook his head, slowing to a walk and collapsing against a wall. His lungs burned as he pulled oxygen into them, and the rough stone bricks scraped painfully against the skin on his forehead. There was no point in letting his thoughts wander into that territory. No matter how talented he was at mind-altering magic, there was no undoing an obliviation spell. There was no undoing all of the things that he'd done.
Draco took in a deep, rattling breath, his hand curling into a fist against the wall.
Thunder boomed and lightning flashed across the midnight sky, slicing clean through the dark clouds that had settled themselves directly over Malfoy Manor. Rain poured down in heavy sheets, turning the grassy fields to mud and causing the trees to bend and moan under the strain of the roaring wind. Draco trudged across the grounds, mud clinging to his boots and tugging against each step.
This was insane. Draco knew this was insane, but he didn't care. The Prophet headline had said that Harry and Ginny were engaged to be married and he didn't care.
Draco's grip tightened on the basilisk fang knife as he made his way over to the manor graveyard. An expansive stone archway, covered in vines and moss, marked the graveyard's entrance, and Draco felt a wave of cold settle over him as he stepped through the threshold. Marble headstones lay in scattered plots, sheltered from the worst of the storm by the large willow trees that towered overhead. Draco pushed his way through the draping vines, ripping away the branches that caught on his robes as he made his way over to his parents' graves.
Their headstones were tall and unabashedly ornate, the marble etched with snakes intertwined with birds-of-paradise and baby's breath. Draco stopped just shy of the mounds, his breath catching in his throat.
He had to do it. He had to. Because there was no way he could go on living like this. There was no way he could continue living this hollow shell of an existence—not when he knew what it felt like to have the very depths of his soul infected with life. And that was what Harry had done to him, wasn't it? He'd infected him—spread this disease throughout Draco's mind and body and made it impossible to exist without the parasite of his love.
He couldn't move forward like this. He wasn't strong enough.
He'd never been the selfless hero.
Lightning ripped through the clouds, a blinding white flashing over the graveyard for a brilliant moment before darkness reclaimed its throne. With a shuddering breath, Draco raised the knife and pressed the blade to his wrist. His skin prickled where the thin edge of bone sat, perched against a pulsing vein.
"Harry," Draco whispered the name softly, letting his eyes fall shut as magic rippled around him. "I love you."