Title: All Desire in a Day
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Warnings: AU of a sort. Established relationship, implied sex, violence, angst.
Summary: Draco wants to know what would have happened if Harry had been Sorted into Slytherin. He wants to know more than might be quite good for him.
Author's Notes: This is a way of writing one of those Slytherin!Harry fics without entirely writing one. Read it, and you'll see what I mean. This will be nine parts, with shorter chapters than my usual. The title comes from Ray Bradbury's story "All Summer in a Day."
All Desire in a Day
Chapter One—Rites of Desire
"Harry, you bastard!"
Draco clutched his broom to bring the spinning under control and glared in the general direction of his boyfriend, whose laughter rang in his ears. Harry swooped up and turned around to show Draco that he'd caught the Snitch, flourishing his fist so Draco could see from every angle.
"You were just saying?" Harry asked, flying closer. His black hair hung in matted curls over his forehead, and Draco stifled an urge to lean forwards and bring their lips together. It would give Harry entirely the wrong idea.
And Draco was irritated.
"About how you were destined to win the match?" Harry prompted him, hovering near him and gazing at him with such innocence that Draco felt another urge, this one to bite that smug mouth and see what Harry would do next.
"I would have caught it, too, if you hadn't pulled on my broom," Draco said darkly, checking his balance with care and keeping a cautious eye on Harry's hands, although one was on his broom and one was busy with the Snitch. "Honestly, what possessed you to do that? I'm the one who's supposed to cheat."
"Because that's the only way you'd win otherwise?" Harry flew closer. Draco could see the way his eyelashes curled, and stared for a second. Then Harry laughed, and he shook his head furiously and came back to the conversation.
"No, you prat," Draco snapped. "Because Slytherins cheat to win. Everyone knows that Gryffindors are honorable wankers who would die before they break a single rule. They're always fair, even if it's sneaky fair." He tapped the back of his broom, and looked back at the bristles Harry's tug had dislodged from the tail. "There's no way you could claim that falls inside the rules, no matter what you said."
"Maybe not," Harry said, giving Draco a deep, enigmatic look that caused Draco to roll his eyes. Harry was simply no good at those, whatever he thought. "But we're not in Hogwarts anymore. We can't be defined by just our Houses. I've told you that before." He paused, then added, as Draco was about to argue that the Sorting Hat saw inside all their heads and even had a better idea of what they would become than they did themselves, "Besides, if we could be defined that way, I think I might surprise you."
Draco snorted. "Is this about the streak of Hufflepuff that I always suspected you had? Don't worry, I'll forgive you if it is."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Bastard," he said in turn, but without much heat behind his voice. "No. The Sorting Hat wanted to put me in Slytherin. The only reason it didn't was because I begged it to put me somewhere else, and Gryffindor was the best second choice." He shrugged with one shoulder, then darted down, past Draco, towards their back-garden pitch.
Draco stared at nothing, then spluttered and flew after Harry. "What the fuck do you mean?" he demanded, as he landed beside him and watched Harry pull off his gloves. "Is this some kind of joke?"
"Why?" Harry looked at him, but there was a darkness in the back of his eyes, the way there often was when they spoke about Hogwarts and the war. "That proud of your ability to spot a Slytherin at a hundred paces?"
"That has nothing to do with it," Draco said, folding his arms, though he had to admit he was miffed that he had never thought Harry might have Slytherin qualities. Then again, perhaps that was the reason they got along as well as they did. "I just want to know why this happened, and if you're kidding, and why you never told me if it's true, and why you refused."
"I refused because you were a prat," Harry said, shaking off the Quidditch leathers before he folded them. Draco's mouth dried out when he saw the thin shirt and trousers that were all Harry wore under the leather in summer weather, but he told himself sternly to pay attention. "And that hasn't changed."
"Because you met me on the train?" Draco said. "That was enough to convince you?"
His voice was soft, and Harry seemed to hear it and the reason for it, because he paused and smiled temperately at Draco. "Yeah," he said, with his voice softer as well. "It was. But I didn't know much about the Houses or anything then. You know why."
The tale of Harry's childhood with the Dursleys had been gone over enough times between them. Draco acknowledged it with a nod. "But you never told me about this," he said.
"Because I thought it would hurt your feelings, knowing why I didn't choose Slytherin," Harry said. He leaned forwards and kissed Draco's cheek, then clapped him on the shoulder. "I know that you were young and stupid. So was I. You didn't need to be reminded of it. And because I knew you would put a lot more importance on it than it deserves," he added, his voice edged with disapproval. "I can see you doing that already."
Draco lifted his chin. "I'm not putting any importance on it. You're right, we were young and stupid. You would have been in Slytherin with me if you were smart."
Harry rolled his eyes, but seemed relieved to let the subject drop, and he talked mostly about how George Weasley was handling the joke shop these days as they went in to eat. Draco had made the lunch earlier, a salad that could be kept under Preservation and Cooling Charms until their match finished. Harry got dressing on the walls when he waved his fork around in excitement, as he tended to do, but otherwise it passed peacefully. Draco got to watch the changing emotions on Harry's face and be contented, as he so often did. It hadn't been long ago that he had assumed he couldn't, wouldn't, have this.
But this time, at least for Draco, there was another, unspoken presence at the table: the shadow of the Slytherin Harry could have been, and the friend he would have been to Draco, and the lover he would have been far sooner than was the case in reality.
Maybe Harry had put it behind him; maybe it didn't occur to him that anyone would think it was important, since he had lived with the knowledge for so long. He didn't mention it again from lunch to the time that he kissed Draco and fell asleep in the bed, curled up with a perfect place for Draco to rest his head in the crook of his arm.
Instead of taking up the invitation, Draco turned away and went to his lab, in the cellar under the house, which Harry knew about and didn't know about at the same time.
Oh, Harry knew the dimensions of the cellar, how wide it was, how it got dirt and iron polish smeared all in during the summer when Draco used it as a storage space for Potions ingredients and was in and out all day. He knew there were steps down to it, and he knew Draco had asked him for the loan of the cellar when he first moved in, and that he had granted it without hesitation. The space didn't matter to him, and that was one reason Draco had been certain he would get it.
He hadn't been certain, during those days, that he mattered enough to Harry to ask to take over anything important.
Harry didn't know about the ritual circle set into the floor, or the experimental potions that came out of the cellar each month in small and neatly-packed boxes, or the owls that flew in through the windows in the dead of night and left their cryptic, coded orders in rows on the table for Draco to discover the next morning. He didn't know about the rites that Draco sometimes performed here, when he had had the time to build up a good supply of fresh blood in his own veins, or catch a small animal that he could prepare and drain in the right way.
Draco had never stopped being a Dark wizard, though he had stopped being so many other things: a Slytherin, a Death Eater, someone who was too afraid of his parents to go after what he really wanted. He wondered if Harry would hate him for it, but he had never proposed the question and Harry had never asked. They were content to leave some answers in the shadows.
Like the fact that Harry should have been in Slytherin. With him.
Draco's hands shook as he lit the candles at the compass points of the circle, so much so that he fumbled the charm to light the northernmost candle and nearly sent the flame roaring up towards the ceiling. He made himself sit down and bury his head in his arms, exhaling and inhaling as he chanted the list of ingredients of the Draught of Living Death in his head.
He knew better than this. He knew better than to take the potion he wanted to take, or enter the circle, when he was in such an unsettled emotional state.
But why did it matter to him that he hadn't known about Harry almost being Sorted into Slytherin until this evening? Harry hadn't kept the secret from him out of evil motives, but because he didn't want to hurt Draco and—Draco sensed this much—it genuinely wasn't important to him. It was a small thing that had happened a long time ago.
Draco closed his eyes, and this time chanted the ingredients list for the Draught of Peace until the words buzzed in his ears.
It mattered because everything could have been different. He could have had Harry with him, as a friend, long before. The knotted, tangled friendship that Harry had with Weasley, something so thick that Draco still didn't understand it and so resilient that it had survived Harry starting to date Draco instead of the ginger menace's little sister, would have been cut off at the root. Perhaps Harry would have tried to reach out to Weasley, but Weasley's prejudices at that age would have taken over.
Draco could have had Harry for himself, for years longer than he had had him.
He opened his eyes at last, and rose. The desire in him burned with a clear, steady flame now, outshining the candles. This was what he had needed, the shaking out of his jumbled thoughts. The most important things to complete this ritual and use this potion were desire and will, but one needed to understand the desire. Why it mattered. Why one was going to pour that will into being, and make it reality, and, from the reality, make it magic.
He finished lighting the candles, and spent a moment checking the state of the potion in its case of separate vials. Then he paused, and lightly shook his head. The potion was an inert base, not truly a mixture. It would activate only when Draco broke the seal on the first vial and spoke his wish.
He had put this off long enough.
He gathered the vials in one hand and swept towards the circle, which gleamed dully, copper threaded with silver, in the candlelight. He closed his eyes and spent a moment clearing and ordering his mind, this time with the memories of Professor Snape's speech on the first day of Potions class, before he crossed the circle of light and shadow the candles cast on the floor.
As he moved across it, he whispered an incantation, an old one, a half-song, like the incantation that he still sometimes remembered Professor Snape using over him as he lay on the floor suffering from Harry's Sectumsempra. The song made the circle of shadow and light snap into being around him, suddenly solid, a barrier that would hold off influences from outside the ring until the rite was done.
Draco's throat felt dry when he stopped singing. He licked his lips and wished for a moment that he had taken a drink before he came into the circle.
But he couldn't take a step outside either circle until the ritual was done. Might as well get comfortable. He sank down inside the silver and copper and closed his eyes, tilting his head back.
"Darkness to bring dreams into being," he said. "Shadows to keep them ambiguous. Candles to light the way." He reached out to the first vial and let his hand rest on the red wax seal that closed the mouth, breathing lightly as he thought about what he wanted.
He sat there for long enough that his arm seemed to grow heavy and numb with desire, and his mind echoed and reechoed with the words Harry had spoken.
"I want to see what the world would have been like if Harry had been Sorted into Slytherin," he whispered, and broke the seal.
The vial shuddered in his hand. The mixture inside stirred, and Draco heard a voice like whispering sand-grains, speaking from a distance, but moving closer and closer to him as he let it come. They would speak the future, the alternate past. They would speak the vision.
He spat into that vial, and set it aside. Then he broke the seal on the second one, already alive with whispers, because opening the first one had set this chain to uncoiling. Into this one, he shed a drop of blood he obtained by pricking his thumb, and like the first, he set it aside. Into the third, he squeezed a tear.
The other sealed vials, he mixed with the contents of a second set of patient, waiting glass tubes, sealed with Preservation Charms rather than wax. Urine and semen and sweat and mucus, once collected, retained their potency under magical containment better than the first three body fluids he had used. Draco mixed them with the dust vials one by one, and, finally, arranged the vials in a fan pattern around him, blood closest to his body, semen furthest away.
All around him, the rustling was a speaking windstorm. Chattering letters and enchanted mirrors had nothing on it.
Draco braced his hands in front of him and bent down to tear off a fragment of skin and nail with his teeth. He laid it in front of him, and the whispering stopped.
"I seek the truth," he said. "I seek the past as it would have been, with the altering of one decision." The words were flowing from his lips easily now, although they weren't a set part of the ritual, unlike the initial incantation or the ordering of the vials. They couldn't be known until he spoke his wish, which would be different each time. But now he knew, and he spoke back to them, these instruments of his delight, spoke with his body and the flesh he had sacrificed. "I seek the man I join myself with and the boy he would have been."
There was a sense of tremendous pressure gripping his temples now, the kind of sensation Draco had sometimes felt in the air before a rising storm. He bit his tongue and continued to speak, dropping his words like honey into the sea.
"I seek to see him as he would have been, if he had chosen Slytherin. If he had not opposed the wisdom of a Hat who could see his soul, a Hat who belonged to one of the Founders himself. Give me the picture of a Hogwarts as it would have been, the war and the world and the wills of all involved." His teeth were pressing down on his tongue, and he could taste the blood in his spit. He didn't know if he should be doing that, given that he had enough blood in the vial nearest him already, but he knew it was happening. "Give it to me."
The pressure clamped him like an iron coronet. The air held its breath.
"I will pay any price."
Gold and green light sprang up in front of him, rising from the flames of the candles, a silent lightning strike without thunder, and the pressure broke and spilled down Draco's face like water, like the blood from his chin. Like tears. Like light, and the rising tide of it that crept towards him—
Which ate the flesh on the floor and turned silver and green in the last moments before Draco began to lose consciousness, and wrapped around him like the curtains around his bed in the Slytherin boys' rooms.
Which turned to darkness.
And the sensation of stillness yielding to motion, and time yielding to vision.