A/N: This is my first shot at H/D slash. Constructive criticism is always appreciated.

Disclaimer: These characters and other things Potter are property of JK Rowling and publishers. No money is being made, and no copyright infringement or disrespect is intended.

Heart racing, I sat on my bed with the privacy curtains drawn tight. I am not obsessed, I told myself. Lying to my best friends doesn't mean I'm obsessed. Ron was still trapped in the Gryffindor common room with his studiously-minded Hermione. I had barely escaped. Hermione thought I was upstairs in my room studying, away from the obnoxious giggling of a just-kissed third year and her friends. Her many friends. Ron was nowhere close to sold on the study lie; he thought I was wanking. I stared intently at the parchment in my lap, still trying to convince myself that indulging in the pastime was not proof of obsession. I was fending off the arguments of my inner-Hermione when I saw it. Draco Malfoy's tiny, black footprints stalked out of the Slytherin dungeons. I jumped up to grab my invisibility cloak. This time I would beat Draco to the Room of Requirement. I was going to catch Draco and prove to Ron and Hermione that I was right.

Clutching the cloak tightly around me, I snuck past my friends and out the portrait hole. I almost didn't check the Map again, but I wanted to see if my path was clear of Snape and Filch. It was a good thing I looked; though Snape and Filch were on that seventh floor, Draco's footsteps were heading the opposite direction. I hurried along the corridors to catch up to the boy with whom I was definitely not obsessed. I smiled when I found myself facing the door to Moaning Myrtle's lavatory. "Mischief managed," I whispered while tucking the Map into a pocket. Still protected by the cloak I sucked my stomach in and squeezed through the door, opening it as little as possible.

Draco was on his knees (in a lavatory?) facing away from the door. I couldn't see his face, but it was quite evident by the sounds that he was crying. I was torn between spying and the unexpected urge to comfort. Draco rose unsteadily to his feet. I froze, thinking my footsteps had given me away, but the other boy didn't turn around. I watched in a mirror as Draco raised an arm like he was shielding his face and pointed his wand at himself. I was gobsmacked by what happened next.

"Sectumsem-" My seeker-reflexes dropped my cloak and disarmed Draco before the spell was finished. Draco whirled around, screaming unintelligible things. I saw red slashes across Draco's body before he collapsed in a sobbing heap. I briefly wondered how Draco even knew about the sectumsempra curse. Pushing the thought aside I sat and hauled the broken boy into my arms. Draco pushed and squirmed and fought. His frail frame accomplished little and finally leaned into me. I had no idea what to do. I whispered soothing words and idly stroked Draco's platinum hair which surprised me with its softness. Eventually concerned with the blood seeping through the rips of Draco's shirt onto my own, I sat the wounded Slytherin up.

Quietly I asked, "Can I look, please? I want to help."

"Tell me why you wouldn't let me just do this?" Draco choked out.

"It would have killed you," I responded incredulously.

Draco silently averted his eyes. Still wordless, he handed over a handkerchief (who knew he carried one?) and held out his forearm. The injury there looked more like minor cuts than gashes. With a corner of the handkerchief I cleaned up as best I could. I gestured for Draco to unbutton his tattered shirt. The blond balked; he seemed almost shame-faced. I suddenly felt disgusted with myself. How many times have I hoped to see him crumble? There is no joy in this. I reached for the buttons myself. Draco pulled away. He hugged himself. It must have been painful.

"You can't see. You can't see them," he whispered to me.

"I know they're there. I've seen what the cuts on your arm look like. It's okay to let me see." Was I being convincing? I didn't really know. I'd never done anything but argue with him. Well, argue and stare. Fine, argue and stare and follow. Oh, Merlin, I sound creepy.

"It's not that. No one can know what he did to me. You can't know what he did to me. I can't let you see." If I didn't know better, I'd say it sounded like he cared about my opinion of him. Did I know better? Everything was upside down. I wanted to hold and comfort Draco Malfoy of all people. I wanted him to trust me. To like me. I hadn't realized that last part until now, but it was true. I had all these crazy feelings in me. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to run my fingers through his hair. I wanted to make his pain go away. I wanted to trust him. I was starting to trust him.

"I understand. I do." Before I really stopped to think about it, I pulled my shirt over my head. I was going to tell him something I hadn't even told Ron. I pointed to a scar on my shoulder. "My uncle did this," I admitted. "He threw me against an iron fence post."

Draco shyly (shyly?) reached out to touch my arm. "I'm sorry." My heart somersaulted unexpectedly. His fingers shook when he tried to undo his buttons. I wanted to help, to make it easier for him, but I saw panic in his eyes. I sat there and let him take his time. I said nothing when I dabbed at his finally exposed chest with the handkerchief. I left the smattering of old scars that marred his side and snaked to his back alone. I cautiously cleaned him off; the thought of hurting him made me cringe. Draco pointed to a cluster of scars by his navel.

"Aunt Bellatrix expelliarmused me into rose bush when I was five. I didn't know I was holding her wand; I found it on the ground."

"I'm sorry," I said. Then I pointed to faint series of marks on the back of my hand. "Dudley stabbed me with a fork."

Draco ran his fingers along a criss-cross of ropey scars that wound from his side to his back. He looked away from me and whispered, "Whip marks."

I took his hand in mine. We sat in silence. I couldn't believe what we had shared. Tears welled up in my eyes when I thought about how much he was hurting. I had never hated Lucius so much. I hated him more now than I did that night in the Tri-Wizard graveyard or in the Department of Mysteries or when he tried to avada kedavra me for freeing Dobby. My whole body was hot. Where mine and Draco's hands were touching was burning, and not holding him felt wrong. He looked so lost.

"Say something, Potter," he half growled-half whimpered.

"What do you want me to say?"

"Whatever it is you're thinking. I've been waiting for you to stop playing nice and start laughing at me. To tell me that you think I'm pathetic. That I deserve this. That you wished you weren't here to save me."

"I don't think you're pathetic. You don't deserve this. And I'm glad I was here. Do you really want to know what I'm thinking about?" I waited for him to nod, took a breath, and leapt. "I'm wishing that you would come closer so I could hold you and keep you safe." With the same amount of warning that the Weasley twins give before a practical joke (which is to say none at all), he sprang into my lap and threw his arms around my neck. "I'm scared," I kept going. "I have butterflies in my stomach, and I don't know why. I didn't know I'd like the way you smell. I didn't know your skin was soft. I don't know why touching you makes me feel like I'm on fire. What's happening with us? Why are we sharing secrets? Why are you letting me do this?"

"I've wanted this for a long time, but I never thought you'd ever want it, too. Don't you feel connected? Even though we've only ever fought and I've called you names and you celebrated when Granger punched me in the face, it seems like somehow we're tied together. I know you probably think that when I stare at you I'm secretly plotting something evil, but I'm not. I'm curious about you. I want to know you. I want you to forget everything you think you know about me and give me a chance."

"What do you want to know about me?" I asked.

"Really? You'd tell me?" Though his eyes were red from tears, his face lit up.


"Thank you. But first, do you think you could maybe conjure some ointment or something? My chest really hurts." I had never heard him sound more sincere or more sheepish. I conjured up a jar and tried to hand it to him. He shook his head. Then he asked me to do it. He scooted back so I could reach. I tried to be careful, but he winced and shed silent tears anyway. A thick, scarred X marred his left shoulder. I let my fingers ghost across it.

"Draco?" He seemed startled to hear his first name.

"My father," he whispered, "with a branding iron."

Without thinking about it, I leaned over and kissed it. In that moment, everything changed. I started shaking; he stopped breathing. I was sure one of us was going to vomit. I half expected him to punch me. Instead, he buried his face into my neck and rained tears onto my shoulder. What's wrong with me? He was crying and I was thinking about how good he felt in my arms.

"I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to upset you. I wasn't thinking. Please, please don't cry."

I felt his warm lips on my neck. Wait. What? That can't be right. It was the trickle of a tear or my imagination or, oh Merlin, I felt it again. And it felt good. I tilted my head away to give him more room. He moved up. His breathy voice tickled my ear when he spoke.

"What's behind your ear?"

"Another scar. Dudley again. No one's ever noticed it before."

Draco licked it. He licked the faint white line behind my ear. I didn't mean to make noise. I really didn't. It just kind of came out. It seemed to startle him, which is odd considering he's the one who licked me. He sat back.

"Will you really answer my questions?"

"If you answer mine. Ask away."

"When did you find out you're the Boy-Who-Lived?"

"My eleventh birthday when Hagrid came to take me to Hogwarts. That's the day I found out I was a wizard. Did you always hate me and Ron and Hermione?"

"Sort of. Malfoys aren't supposed to like Weasleys. I never gave him a chance. Hermione was the first person who was ever smarter than I am. I was jealous. We were young; I didn't know how to take it in stride. My father always told me that we're better than Muggle-borns. I wasn't supposed to admit that she was better. You, well, I don't know how to explain you. Did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire?"

"No, I didn't. I was actually really upset about it. I didn't want to play. I was scared to play. My best friend wouldn't talk to me, and— and then I watched Cedric die. Are you really good at Potions or is Snape favoring you?"

"I'm actually good at Potions. Are you in love with the Weasley girl?"

"No, I'm not. We weren't," I paused to think of a way to phrase it, "good together. She wanted to throw herself at me, and I couldn't seem to make myself want her like that." I blushed. Why did I have to blush? "Do you have anyone that you actually confide in?"

"Not until now. Not until you. When you're surrounded by people who would sell you out without a second thought, you don't trust anyone. I don't know why I'm trusting you now, except you're the first person in a long time that's treated me like I'm worth something. Did you tell Weasley and Granger about where all your scars came from?"

"No. Hermione's smart. She probably figured it out, but she's never said anything about it. I don't think Ron wants to know. Look at his family, all bundles of sunshine. I don't think he could understand what it's like being from an abusive family." I knew what I wanted to ask next. I didn't know if I had a right to ask. I didn't want to break whatever we had going. It was fragile, but more real than anything I'd felt.

"Ask me. I know you want to. It's okay. Ask me."

"Why did you try to ki—curse yourself?"

"Because I'd rather kill myself now than be tortured to death when I can't do what He wants. Are you sorry you saved me?" He was surprisingly candid and calm despite his tears. I shook my head.

"What does he want you to do?"

"Are you asking me? Or is the Boy-Who-Lived asking me?"

"I'm asking. I don't want to be the hero of the Wizarding world. I'm only the Boy-Who-Lived when I'm surrounded by adults expecting me to save everyone."

"He wants me to kill someone. Someone important. And I can't. I don't think I could ever kill anyone. I don't want His side to win. My family's crazy for getting involved with him. And now we're all in so deep that I can't get out. I don't want to go back to the Manor. It's the new headquarters for the Dark Lord, but I don't have anywhere else to go. There's no one I can trust. I don't want to see my father who would kill me himself if I fail. But I can't do it. I just can't kill Albus Dumbledore."

"Dumbledore?" I gasped. "He wants you to kill Dumbledore?"

"Yes. I'm the one with easiest access, and with how deep my family's in with the Death Eaters, He didn't think I could refuse. Now run along and squeal on me if you must. In ten minutes I'm walking out of this damn castle." He started for the door. I couldn't let him leave.

"If I don't tell, will you stay? We'll fix this somehow. I want you to stay." He nodded. "Promise me you'll stay."

"I promise." With that, he picked up his wand and left. I stood there, dumbstruck, for quite awhile before putting on my cloak and slinking back to the Gryffindor tower.