Hey guys! Firstly, I want to apologize for the entire month you had to wait – I'm sorry! But I literally couldn't write. I've been reading it, and hating it, and I'm quite literally burnt out. Uni, work, no free time means no stories. I finished this one, instead of an assignment, so please feel free to be loved. :)

I don't know when the next chapter will be out, but hopefully soon. Also, I just want you guys to know that I'm not abandoning this story, no matter how long it takes between chapters. I couldn't leave it half completed, not when I'm so mean with the cliffhangers :) haha.

So, Happy Birthday to Claire-Ann! I know it's a little late, but better late than never.

Thank you to all my lovely reviewers, and the people who emailed me for an update – it got me writing again, so a big round of applause for you people.

An AMAZING thankyou to the wonderful, brilliant malpensante, who translated 'The List' into Italian! Go check it out, and cheer for this wonderful person!

And lastly, I'm sorry for the cliffhanger. I'm sorry for the lack of happiness I promised – it got too long, so it'll have to be in the next chapter.

Please don't kill me.

Chapter Twenty Nine - Evicted

"Just fix him!"

"Fix him! Fix him! Not everything is fixable, Malfoy!"

"DO YOUR JOB, AND FIX HIM!"

"Turn him over! Hold him down!"

Blaise gaped at the scene before him, hands trembling. Blood coated Potter's robes, smeared across his face, pooled around him across the floor. It was a fucking scene from a nightmare. And there was Draco, in the midst of it, holding Boy Wonder down, crimson staining his hands. He was brushing Potter's sweaty forehead, trying to calm him as he held the convulsing boy to the floor. They had reverted back to the previous year. All they needed was Goyle to appear brandishing his wand, and the picture would be complete.

Pomfrey had almost apparated when Blaise had told her. All he had managed to say, through gasps, was "Potter…blood-" And she had been gathering every potion she could carry, throwing more at Blaise so his arms were almost overflowing, and hurrying him through the floo. Technically, the floo wasn't supposed to be opened at Hogwarts anymore. It didn't seem like Pomfrey gave two shits about it, though.

"Hold him still, for Merlin's sake!"

"I am, you daft bat!"

Blaise stood uselessly towards the side, eyes wide. Pomfrey flicked her wand almost violently, slicing Potter's robe right off; bruises littered his chest and stomach, blues and purples. Why hadn't he said anything about them? They must have been paining him.

She felt numerous places, face deathly white, swishing her wand so quickly that it was a miracle she could even see the results. "Internal Healer, now!" It took him a moment before he realised she was speaking to him, and even then he couldn't move. It took Theo to hurry over, fumbling through the potions before he found the correct one, passing it quickly to Pomfrey. "Magic Stabilizer!"

"It's a bit fucking late for that, isn't it?" Draco snarled, "Why haven't you been checking on him!?"

""I had an entire house in my hospital today! And you demand me to tail the stupid, foolish boy!?" She yelled back, frantic. She had tears in her eyes, dribbling down her cheeks. Draco didn't seem amused by this, growling instead.

"IT'S YOUR JOB!"

She continued to work though, vanishing the blood with a flick of her wand, pressing it to the centre of Potter's chest a moment later, muttering spells under her breath.

Draco looked…broken.

He was practically clinging to Potter, rubbing his shoulders, wiping the hair from his eyes. It…oh, fucking Salazar…Potter was still conscious. His frantic eyes blinked heavily, locking onto Draco's face. Where they didn't leave. Holy shit…Blaise had to get out of here. He couldn't take it anymore. But he had the potions in his arms. Fuck. Fuck.

Pansy caught his gaze.

And before a second could pass, she was removing the potions cluttered in his arms, placing them on the nearest bed instead. She arranged them quickly, alphabetically. So when Pomfrey shouted "Bloody Congealer!" Pansy was already halfway across the room, unstoppering the potion if only to help slightly.

"Damage control." She stated, taking the last two potions. "Go do your thing."

Fucking hell, he felt weak as he hurried from the room, legs trembling. Potter was trembling on the ground, losing a fuck load of blood. Pomfrey looked hysteric; Draco wasn't too far behind her. And it was him that had to leave the room. Some Slytherin he was turning into; no wonder he had never joined the Death Eaters; they wouldn't have taken him.

Blaise counted in his head, trying to still his breathing. He was going to be in need of a bathroom soon. Instead, he shoved his mask into place, scowling as he hurried to the Common Room.

As expected, curious faces littered it. Third years pretending to finish homework, when they had been given leave of work today due to the incident earlier. A few first years, playing chess when it was obvious they hadn't seen a chessboard before. A seventh year, feigning sleep on the couch to overhear something important.

Blaise slashed his wand at the entrance, sealing it off. "Meeting. Now."

There was a flurry of movement as he grabbed a parchment, Slytherins shoving themselves into the room. They had heard the yells; they knew something was happening. Even now, Draco's voice echoed up the stairs. "Don't you fucking dare, Harry!"

Blaise stared around the room silently, meeting every curious eye. "Oaths. Now."

.

.

.

"Draco, you need your sleep."

Theo sighed inwardly, throwing a glance at Blaise. This was going to be a disaster. Pansy had decided asking was out of the question, and in its stead, she would be insistent. Demanding. Because everyone knew a Malfoyenjoyed being told what to do.

Draco barely blinked at the request, however; his eyes didn't waver from Potter's still face. He wasn't going to sleep, not until Potter had woken and assured him he wasn't about to choke to death on his own blood again. Any fool could see that.

They had all been mistaken; they had thought they were friends, sure, but...enforced. Not…Theo had never expected to see Draco looking at someone like that. It wasn't in the Malfoy nature; Draco looked lost. Even when he was forced into the Dark Lord's work, he hadn't seemed as afraid as he did now, watching Potter's eyelids flicker with dream.

Fuck, this was screwed. It was shit.

They had been laughing. Talking. Enjoying themselves.

Who the hell expected Potter to suddenly attempt to cease?

The blood was gone, thankfully. The convulsing had stopped. Potter was breathing again.

Draco refused to speak. As soon as a sobbing Pomfrey had fled the dormitory, it was as if a silencing charm had been placed on him. There wasn't, of course; they had checked. No coaxing could get him to speak; silence answered their questions.

Something was going on; people didn't just choke on their blood.

It had to do with the fact Draco had Potter's wand, that much was certain. It had to do with Potter's lack of magic. It had to do with the fact Draco was currently looking as if his world was crumbling around him.

Potter and Draco had been keeping secrets.

"Draco, Potty isn't going anywhere. You can sleep."

Oh. Shit.

Blaise made a choking noise from his bed, safely under the covers and the furthest away from the now livid blonde. Theo would have mimicked him, if he wasn't closer.

The fool. The utter idiot. She should know by now not to call Potter by that nickname. When he was alone, sure, free reign. When Draco was in the room? The stupid girl.

Draco finally flicked his eyes away from the sleeping boy, instead turning his murderous glare on Pansy. She stood her ground, eyebrows raised. Like some stupid Gryffindork would. It wouldn't help the situation in the slightest.

Draco's voice was low, dangerous. "Pansy, if you value yourself as much as I know you do, you had better get the fuck out, before I do something I'm really not going to regret."

"Christ, Draco, it's just a nickname!"

"It's my name."

"Well, now you're being ridiculous."

"Get out."

"Draco-" His wand appeared in his hand, as if summoned, silencing Pansy immediately. She eyed it off, deciding on her chances. It was Draco she should have been watching; his eyes were cold, dark.

Draco had been turning softer since he had begun hanging around Potter; no one would disregard that. At the moment, however, he was capable of just about anything; once you were subjected to this cold Draco, no, Malfoy, you didn't question why he controlled Slytherin on a whim. Theo would openly admit he was terrified of this Draco.

He was really tempted to curl around and pretend he was deaf right about now; he didn't in case the motion caught Draco's attention. He was perfectly happy with him being distracted by Pansy.

Theo glanced back at the still brunette; what was it about him that could transform Draco? What was it about him that bloody brought out the trusting side in the Slytherins? Definitely not his...

Green eyes blinked at him.

"Draco." Theo had to fight to keep his face calm and indifferent as the murderous glare was directed at him. How long had the pretender been awake? His face was unfocused still, eyes blearily taking in his surroundings, trying to figure out what had happened. The perfect substitute for Pansy. "Potter's awake."

Theo almost felt sorry for Potter as Draco spun around, eyes narrowing dangerously. Almost.

"I take your bloody wand so you can't maim yourself…and you decide to do wandless magic, you fucking twat!"

Potter, for his credit, took a moment to focus on Draco before speaking, wincing as his eyes found their mark. He swallowed difficulty, struggling to sit up. "Sor-"

"So help me Salazar, if you're trying to apologise, I'm going to maim you."

Potter blinked again, head furrowing in confusion. Poor Potter; no one could reason with Draco when he was in a mood like that. Hypocrisies weren't noticed, and best not to point out. Theo spared a glance at Pansy, as she dashed to Blaise's bed, seeking shelter beneath the quilt. Well. That was something he hadn't picked up on.

"A-are…you alright?" Potter managed to croak out, holding out a hand as if to gesture Draco over. Christ, who would invite him over in a mood like that? It was just asking for a curse!

"You bloody fool." Theo watched in astonishment as Draco crossed to his bed, voice weak. He sunk onto the mattress, falling forwards so his head was resting on his shoulder. "Don't do that again."

Three words, and the beast was tamed.

Bloody hell, they had to be in love.

.

.

.

Harry barely glanced at the mass of bruises that littered his chest, shrugging on his shirt quickly, if just to stop Pansy gawking at him as if he was an exhibit in a show. Pomfrey had fixed him, again, but he still didn't feel a hundred percent; his breathing didn't feel too right, as if it was stagged, or he was unused to doing it. He had to concentrate on every breath, and then try not to wince at the pain that radiated through his chest, clinging to his lungs. His gut was aching too, as was his head, and his heart. Everything was hurting.

But he was alive. That had to count for something, right?

He had been awake for an hour before rising; it had taken that long to summon the effort to move. It had been a while since he had felt this drained, this exhausted. And yet, he was still getting ready for class.

He didn't have the time to be tired. To 'heal'. It would never completely heal, so why waste the time? It wasn't as if he was able to do anything about it; his body was failing. Surprise surprise.

He pulled on his robe, straightening the collar of his shirt and raising his eyebrows at Theo, who was similarly slowly getting dressed opposite him. He seemed blasé about the whole debacle the night previous, indifferent. He would have passed it off, too, if Harry didn't catch him staring at him with confusion every few seconds.

The silence was almost malleable; Harry was sure the tension had been given a corporeal form. All they needed now was for something awkward, to tie the knot.

He turned back to the mirror, frowning at his mess of hair. No point in even trying to fix it, but he did wish it didn't look so…well, like he had just been shagging, for one. Why couldn't he have short, normal hair? It looked lanky, unhealthy. Why did everything about him look sick? Even his skin was pale. His eyes were dulled, with purple rings beginning to grow under them. Why couldn't he look normal as he ceased to exist?

He caught Zabini's gaze in the mirror, rolling his eyes when he glanced away quickly. Great. The Slytherins pitied him. That, or they wanted nothing to do with him anymore. Either way, his chest was aching with a pain that had nothing to do with his lung trying to drown him last night.

Harry sighed, running a hand through his hair as he turned to glance at them all, wincing as they all glanced away as his eyes caught theirs. This was exactly what he had wanted to avoid; the awkwardness that hung around someone that wouldn't live to his next birthday.

"…I'll give you a minute of free reign answers." Harry sighed, blinking in surprise as they snapped their eyes back to his immediately. Ron and Hermione would have shrugged that off with a 'you don't have to tell us if you're not up to it' speech, or simply be happy he had offered. The Slytherins were already honing in for the kill.

"Five." Theo shot at him, frowning as Harry had to bite back a nervous laugh. They were haggling over the answers of a dead-man-walking's lies? Really?

"One." Harry shrugged back.

"Three."

"One."

"Three." A different tone immediately made Harry want to change his mind.

"One."

"…Fine." Theo conceded, shrugging. The action wasn't missed by Harry; it was a threat in itself. "What's the name of the disease?"

Harry blinked in shock, mouth dropping over. Really? First question? No asking if he had some disease, but the name of it? Clever little pricks, aren't they? He glanced at the others, but they were both watching intently, eyes drilling into Harry's skull. He really didn't want to answer this; any other question, fine, but he could hardly utter it aloud himself! How did they expect him to just blurt it out?

"…Succorbentis…" Harry whispered, turning away so he couldn't gauge their reactions. Wow. He had told three other students now; he had uttered the evil, horrible word. The prophet would know by sundown. Harry was glad he didn't see their reactions, if just so he didn't see the gallon symbols roll into their eyes.

"…How long have you had it?" Blaise asked, edging around his bed and coming forwards. Harry threw him a glance, but at his blank, mask covered face, turned away again.

"A few weeks after the war ended."

"How long has Draco known?" Pansy threw in, frowning slightly. Harry frowned too, trying to think back.

"Uh… a few weeks into the school year. Prat stalked me."

"Bastard." Parkinson muttered, biting her thumb. Harry just stared at her blankly, turning back to Nott as he fired another one. Merciful, that boy.

"The Gryffindors don't know, do they?"

Harry grit his teeth, mumbling an answer. Merlin, he felt pathetic. "No."

"So why does Draco have your wand?" Was he trying to be as callous as he could? He shrugged at the stare, not giving a shit. "I have a minute where you can't dodge. Answer."

Slytherins.

"He took it from me, when I had a bad reaction one time."

"From using magic?" He clarified, still frowning as Harry nodded. God, he could hear the next words forming in their heads. 'So, you know you're practically a squib, or a muggle now, right?' Or, 'Can we have the tie back'? The pitying was about to begin, if it hadn't already. The distancing. The awkward conversations. The loneliness.

"So, how far have you gone with Draco?" Harry turned back to Parkinson, spluttering. No.

"I am not answering that." He snapped, rolling his eyes as his face turned bright red. A smirk flittered across her face.

"A minute of free reign, right?" She cooed, grinning evilly. Literally; evil sprouted from her lips, to infect the room. Ugh, fangirls. "You've done something, if you refuse that quickly."

"Wait, but if you're at school, how do you get treatment?" Blaise threw in, frowning himself. Damn him for being clever, bless him for diverting the conversation.

"I don't." Harry shrugged again, cutting the next question off by answering before it was asked. "I get a check up weekly, to check how much my fantastic body is failing. Pomfrey fixes it; I go on my merry way. No treatment. It doesn't exist."

"So no one's doing anything?"

"What can they do?" Harry sighed, ignoring the hollow ache in his chest. "I have the plague."

Silence descended on the room, the Slytherins thinking. Harry ran a hand through his hair again, steadying himself. Here it came. Everything he had fought so hard to keep from happening.

"Nope. I don't get it." Zabini was the first to speak, shaking his head with a frown. Harry chanced a glance at him, feeling quite inadequate at his displeased expression.

"Get what?" He replied warily, heart clenching. They didn't get that he had let them get to know him, to die soon after? That he had practically attached himself to Draco, when it could only end in pain? That he should be in the hospital, out of harm, away from possibly injuring the students?

"All due respect, Potter, however…why the fuck would you come back to Hogwarts?"

And there it was.

They think I have the plague. They sure act like it."

"He came home to die." Draco's voice flittered over to them, making all four jump in surprise. He had been in the shower, and everyone knew he took at least a bloody hour in there. They hadn't expected him in quite some time; but alas, there he was, leaning on the doorframe, his favourite habit. Harry blinked at his voice, swallowing with difficulty. Yes, yes he had. "It's a shame I'm such a selfish prick and won't let him. The Boy Who Lived simply cannot die." He crossed the room easily, as if nothing substantial had happened last night. His eyes narrowed as he took in Harry, dressed ready for class. "And don't you forget it."

"Of course, dear." It would have sounded better if Harry's voice wasn't weak; similarly to the Slytherins making eye contact at him, he couldn't quite meet Draco's eyes. He had been foolish yesterday, hadn't thought before casting a spell. He had brought it on himself; how could he possible look at Draco, and not feel like he had deserved it?

A hand came up to his chin, lifting his head until their eyes met. "You're not going anywhere on my watch, understand?"

"I don't think it will consult you."Harry replied weakly, all too aware of the stares they were getting. This seemed…more affectionate than anything they had done in front of the others. And Merlin, they had snogged in front of the others! His face was beet red, he was sure.

"I'm a Malfoy. Of course it will." He spoke as if he believed it, too. "And you vulture's minute is up. I hope you've sated your morbid curiosity."

"He offered." Nott shrugged, turning back to continue getting ready for the day. Harry watched with a gloomy amusement; nothing could faze him, could it?

"Because he's a Gryffindor, with his ridiculous sense of remorse or guilt; something you self-preservation Slytherins shouldn't take advantage of." Draco snarled, holding Theo's eye contact until the other boy turned away. Christ, overprotective much. "And I shouldn't have to tell you that you don't have the obligation to tell them anything." He threw towards Harry, crossing his arms angrily as Harry replied.

"That's right; you shouldn't tell me of my own obligations, or lack of. I'm quite capable of figuring them out for myself, thanks."

"They didn't have to know."

"They did, if my body is going to continue to try to rip me apart at the most inopportune moments."

Draco narrowed his eyes, wordlessly snarling. "And it wouldn't be doing that, if you weren't a stupid Gryffindork, that continued to use magic. Tell me what Thomas did that was so bad to have you risk your own selfish life."

Harry sighed, glancing at the others and finding no hope there. Nott was dressed, and quickly grabbing his bags; he wanted out of the room as soon as possible, evidently. Parkinson looked sick, her face pale. Great. And Zabini was just staring straight back at him, eyes wide, the slightest of frowns on his face. "I don't know."

"Yes, you do." Draco snapped, eyes blazing. "There was an entire hall full of students, and you hexed the shit out of that one. Why? What could he have possibly done, that you thought deserved your life?"

He wasn't getting out of this. "…He was high-fiving people. It pissed me off."

"Thomas doesn't have the brains to pull off a stunt like that. Though you act it, you're not stupid. You know it wasn't him, so try again."

"I was pissed, that's the end of it!" Harry snapped back. "Do we really have to speculate?"

"If it pissed you off enough to attempt suic-"

"-I didn't mean to-!"

"Then yes, I dare say, we have to speculate."

Harry sighed, glaring at those bloody silver orbs demanding information. Last night had been…traumatic. And Draco hadn't left his bloody side for a moment. Damn him. "…He melted your face." Harry said coolly, turning back to the mirror to continue getting ready. "And he was high-fiving people at your distress. There really is no speculation needed; I was pissed, and he melted your face."

Harry flicked his eyes to watch Draco in the mirror, as he picked something off of the bed and came closer. "You're a tosser." He said seriously, though there was no anger in his eyes anymore. "You're not thinking of going to class today." Statement, not a question.

"There'll be rumours, if I don't."

"There are rumours already."

"I can squash them, if I go. I have a cold. Nothing more."

"No one is going to believe that."

"They don't have to."

Draco was standing directly behind him now; Harry could feel his breath, hot against his neck. It sent warm tingles down his spine. "Pomfrey'll have your balls in a clamp, if you go to class today."

"It's a…" Harry stopped himself short, swallowing. A risk he was going to take. Not when he had almost lost Draco the night previously. No more risks.

Draco reached around to fasten the Slytherin tie around his throat.

It felt no different from his red one.

His heart clenched painfully.

.

.

.

Sure enough, as soon as Harry entered the room, whispers echoed around the room. Rumours certainly had escalated last night, by the numerous frowning students staring at him, rolling their eyes or rounding on their friends. Harry Potter, sick? Liar, he's standing right there, fit as a fiddle!

If only.

Harry crossed to the Slytherin table, glancing at the quiet Nott. He wasn't eating, just stared at his empty plate, frown across his face. Parkinson sat near him, similarly glaring at her food, instead sipping on water. They were the centre of attention; if they seemed suspicious, the rumours would start up again.

So, even though it was the last thing he wanted in the world, Harry slumped down opposite them, piling food onto his plate. He was sticking with the lumpy looking porridge today; something different. Draco copied him, piling his plate high with food, looking bored. As did…Zabini?

The tanned boy pulled bacon and eggs over, tucking in quickly. As if he hadn't seen someone choking on blood the night pervious. It was capable of removing anyone's appetite, really.

The rest of the house didn't seem perturbed; they ate, chatted amongst themselves, threw filthy glares at the rest of the school, and at the…that was odd. Why were they all glaring at McGonagall?

The headmistress didn't seem interested in her food either; she nibbled here and there, and looked anywhere other than Slytherin. What was going on?

"What did McGonagall do?" Harry asked the table, grateful that Zabini actually replied. He expected to be ostracised, after it came out. Zabini was being himself, like the brilliant person he was.

"None of the younger kids'll tell me. They just say she was being too inattentive, whatever that means." He shrugged, turning back to his plate, hesitating before taking another bite. He still wasn't able to look Harry in the eyes.

Harry glanced at Nott, and Parkinson. Neither had lifted their eyes from their uneaten breakfasts, yet. They moved various bits of food around the plate, looking distinctively ill. Not even attempting to eat.

Because of him.

Harry sighed, ignoring the tightness of the throat. He spoke quietly, knowing full well half the table was eavesdropping on him. "I'll move my stuff back out, this weekend." He muttered, glaring at the ugly porridge. Damn it, he wasn't supposed to care! What the hell happened to numb-!

"What the hell do you mean by that?" Nott snapped immediately, finally looking at him. Glaring at him. Same thing. "All because you…" He stopped, gritting his teeth angrily, snarling at the third years watching the conversation with interest. "All because of circumstance does not give you the right to fuck off."

"We're not that shallow, really." Parkinson added, frowning herself.

"I didn't imply you were." Harry replied quietly, blatantly not glancing at the glaring blonde besides him. He wasn't speaking, thank Merlin, but that in itself was a reason to fear. "But it's your dorm. You're uncomfortable, and-"

"Potter, if we wanted you to fuck off, we would just tell you to fuck off." Nott snapped again, turning back to his full plate of food. Because that made him feel so much better. "We haven't, so take your self-righteous shit elsewhere."

"But you…"

"But I'm what, Potter?" Nott growled, eyes blazing. He reached over the table, snatching up Harry's tie. "Did you think this was nothing?"

Harry growled himself, ignoring the others when they looked at him in surprise. He yanked his tie back roughly. "I'm trying to be the bigger man here, you prick."

And does this situation demand a 'bigger man'? Nothing's changed, Potter, except your conceited belief that anything anyone does must surround you."

"Nothing's changed?" Harry laughed mirthlessly, eyebrows raised. "You're not even looking at me."

The group went silent, blinking in shock as they realised, yes, none of them, bar Draco, was maintaining eye contact with Harry. None of them had the guts to look at someone who wouldn't exist in a few months. The conversations were already jolted, fuelled by anger.

This was why no one was allowed to know.

Harry had been naive to believe the Slytherins would be different.

He had taken a leap of faith, and fallen considerably short.

"We just need to take it in, Potter." Zabini said quietly, almost as if he didn't want to draw attention to himself. He met Harry's gaze, eye to eye. As if to prove he could. "It's a lot to digest."

"No, no taking it in." Harry injected; he hated how weak his voice sounded right now. "No digesting. No understanding. No curiosity. It is what it is."

Zabini blinked back at him, dark eyes oddly perceptive. Harry didn't like his eyes. They weren't pitying, they weren't angry…he couldn't read the emotions, the thoughts. Which was terrifying. What the hell was the Slytherin going to do?

They sat in silence, picking at their meals.

Harry sighed, glancing around the hall. It was very loud in here, noisier than usual. Anyone eavesdropping that conversation wouldn't have a clue what they were talking about, so it couldn't be rumours circulating. And yet, everywhere he looked, furious students face him.

The Gryffindors looked ready to murder.

Oh.

Very surprisingly, Harry chocked out a laugh, shaking his head. This was probably the worse morning he had had in months; he hadn't felt this exhausted, or upset in a while. However, the fact everyone had realised he was donning the Slytherin colours had him amused. Bloody mixed emotions.

"Gryffindor feels betrayed. The irony." Harry attempted at a grin, glancing at Draco. The strangely quiet blonde had his bloody indifferent mask on again, eyes flicking to his friends and back to Harry, narrowing slightly. He didn't look amused.

"Blaise, give me the list." He said quietly, either not noticing the panicked look Harry threw him, or not bothering to care. The mask wouldn't let him, you see. Harry growled under his breath, tapping his fingers. That mask had to be destroyed.

Zabini glanced at him, frowning. "I don't think this is the right moment for-"

"It's the perfect time. We've all had a horrible night. You've made Potty doubt himself, you bunch of irresponsible pricks, and I don't want Potty's first day in Slytherin as terrible as it currently is. Give me the list." Ouch. Winces all around.

Zabini sighed, reaching into his bag and searching. Harry was torn between curiosity, and the feeling that his stomach was currently attempting to digest itself. The former won out, as a fairly large list of paper was passed to Draco, who in turn, handed it to Harry.

Harry frowned, opening it and reading what it was.

Hogwarts…wow.

Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; a Guide of Rules.

He was holding the list of school rules.

He could have kissed Draco then and there, and not give a flying arse that the entire school was watching.

"I think this might work." Harry said quietly, scanning through the rules. Oh, yes, this was going to be brilliant.

"Hmm, let's see." Draco ignored the others, and their glances, shifting so he could read over Harry's shoulder. Odd, because Harry would have sworn that would have considered to be rude, by Pureblood etiquette. The blonde smirked, shifting even closer. Prick. His body was pressed up against Harry's side now; he was certain his face was already flaming. "Here's a good one; proper uniform is to be maintained during meals. Mufti or lack of a main article of clothing is prohibited. Well, strip, Potty."

"I'm not stripping." Harry stated, already shrugging from his robes. He couldn't strip; the hall would have a full view of the plethora of bruises that covered his chest. And knowing this school, it would only be a small matter of time before someone queried why he had those bruises.

Draco tutted at him. "Lack of enthusiasm."

Harry jumped as he shoes and socks were vanished, his bare feet touching to cold tiles. Prick. He only had a single pair of shoes.

"Check. Next, tardiness is not permitted. One must arrive on time to class, and may only be absent with a note. Easy. We'll rock up late to one lesson, and skip another. Next."

The others were watching now, curiously.

"Dangerous items are prohibited." Draco smirked, turning to face the rest of the Slytherin table. "Banned items, front and centre." And suddenly, there was a flurry of movement. Fanged-Frisbees were passed over, screaming yo-yo's, love potions, an assortment of lollies from the Weasley Skiving Snackboxes range, an interesting pair of glasses that had purple frames…and no one seemed to mind that the teachers were watching as they released the horror.

Harry chuckled as he threw the Fanged-Frisbee and several people had to dive out of its way haphazardly. No wonder it was banned; it had tried to grab a chunk of hand as he threw it. He could only imagine what it would do if it hit someone. He pretended he didn't hear the yelp as it landed.

Harry picked up the screaming yo-yo, letting it roll down the string, and wincing as it shrieked through the hall. It was quickly replaced on the table, the glasses quickly traded with them.

"Put them on." Draco smirked, chuckling to himself as Harry did so, then blanched, tossing them away.

"Argh! My eyes! Why would you…argh!" He really didn't want to have seen that. Everyone in the hall had suddenly been void of clothing…and he had been facing Slughorn…and…just no. He erased the memory.

"You're breaking the school rules?" Zabini asked curiously, frowning as Harry shrugged, placing the glasses gingerly on the table, picking up a copy of porn instead, lips twitching.

"Well, that's why they're made." Harry shrugged, snorting at the magazine. He returned it to the blasé Slytherin, scanning the page for the next rule. They hadn't been pulled up by a professor yet; as long as that continued, Harry could enjoy his day. "Tattoo's are not permitted, under any circumstances." He glanced at Draco, grinning. "Check."

"You have a tattoo?" Zabini asked, raising his eyebrows with disbelief. "Bullshit."

"Draco, do I have a tattoo?" Harry asked, scanning the page for another school rule. He wasn't about to show it to them, Merlin no, but he wasn't about to lie about it either. He loved his dragon; it huffed at him at night, pranced along his forearm during the day. It made him wonder if Dragons were allowed as pets. Maybe if just for a babysitting job, for a few months. Surely Norbert wasn't as bad as his eleven year old mind thought?

"You have a stunning tattoo." Draco replied easily enough, casually scanning the list too, shifting so he was closer to Harry on the bench. The butterflies acted up immediately as his leg brushed against Harry's. It wasn't fair for another to have such control over his body. "That no one here has permission to view."

Harry shifted his leg, closer, ignoring the Blonde's glance. Last night, he had though he wasn't going to wake. To hell with being embarrassed; if he wasn't bold now, he might never have the chance.

"Here we are; some good ones. Swimming in the lake is forbidden." Draco grinned, rising to his feet. "Coming, Potter?"

Harry laughed at the other's expressions, scrambling for the door with Draco, the others on their heels. They may not be able to meet his eyes, but they weren't about to miss out on this, either. A small Slytherin jumped in his way, however, holding out some parchment. It was the kid Harry had taken to the hospital wing yesterday…Braxton, was it?

He didn't look amused as he stared at Harry, eyes narrowing into almost a glare. Instead, he thrust the note to him, folding his arms angrily. What the hell had he done to deserve that glare? "McGonagall wants to see you after breakfast." He informed Harry, watching as Harry read the note, which said just that.

"Alright." The boy didn't move. "…Anything else?"

Braxton narrowed his eyes more, but didn't move. He huffed, tapping his foot angrily as Harry edged around him, perplexed. Not everyone was pleased with Harry's new colours, perhaps?

"What did you do to piss him off?" Parkinson asked, frowning. She shrugged at Harry's stare, embarrassed. "He's usually cute."

"I haven't done anything."

"He was mad yesterday. Yelled at me." Zabini threw in, shrugging as they turned to him. "I demanded oaths, and just as they were about to, he got up in a tantrum. Convinced everyone else not to do it either, little shit."

"Braxton, was it?" Draco didn't ask, as much confirm the name. His eyes darkened slightly, furious. Harry had to flick his hand to get his attention.

"I like the kid; no maiming, please."

"What if someone goes to the prophet now, because of him? Still going to be fond?" Zabini added, shaking his head angrily. Harry didn't think that was going to be a problem; yesterday, the Slytherins showed unity when waiting for everyone poisoned to be cured. They didn't turn on their own, and when they did, like with Goyle, it was for a reason. Yesterday, they had given Harry a green tie. No, it wouldn't come from Slytherin, despite how they were acting oddly. He felt like he had betrayed them by suspecting them in the first place.

"And tell them what, that I threw up? Oh no, Golden Boy has the flu?" Harry trotted along the grounds of the school, hurrying to the lake. It was going to be freezing.

"Everyone's reaction was a little bit more pronounced than that."

"Well, I have a weak immune system. It was distressing. Bad flu, bad." Harry grinned at the snort from Draco, glad his eyes were glinting with amusement again. He had seemed so…down, last night. And then again, this morning. Harry was glad he wasn't too upset. It might take a bit, but Draco would survive him leaving. It helped with his guilt.

The others blinked in surprise, exchanging glances at his blasé attitude. What did they expect, kicking and screaming and hating life? No, he kept that locked up for when he was alone. He could pretend, out here.

"Go on, dive in." Draco nudged him towards the lake, smirking at the murky green water. It was probably prohibited because it was diseased. Well, nothing to worry about then.

Harry sighed, staring at the water. "It looks...clean."

They edged closer.

"Not in the slightest." Draco said cheerfully, nudging him again. "Perfect."

Closer. Just a little closer.

"It's probably minus degrees." Draco continued, smirking. "Let's hope the giant squid isn't near. Or is. Either or." Harry grinned, keeping his face to the front. A little more. A few more steps. They were right near the edge, now. "You know, I've heard leeches are active this time of year-"

Harry snapped his hand out, grabbing hold of Draco's arm. "Let's find out."

He managed to get him a few steps, before the blonde bulked, heels digging uselessly into the gravel. "Potter, let me go." Draco warned, throwing his infamous 'I'm a Death-Eater' glare. Harry shrugged it off, struggling to drag the unwilling blonde closer to the water. "Oi, don't even think about it, Scarhead!"

"I'm sure he's thought about it." Blaise helpfully added, a grin working its way back onto his face. He watched Harry struggling to drag the blonde closer, shaking his head at the woeful attempt.

Harry groaned, taking another step, almost letting Draco go as cold water sloshed over his feet. Jesus Christ, it was freezing! He yelped instead, both hands around one of Draco's, using his entire weight into leaning backwards, trying to drag him closer. "Come on, my fluffy little ferret," Harry laughed, panting, at Draco's affronted face. "Don't you want to swim with the giant squid?"

"No one with half a fucking brain wants to swim with that monster, you bloody retard!" Draco snarled, "I swear, if you take another step, I'll call the engagement-Salazar's fucking balls!" Harry laughed as the first of the water seeped into his shoes, at his swearing. This was the Draco Malfoy he bloody adored. "Stop it, you bloody Gryffindor reject!"

Harry took another step, wincing at the icy water that crept up his calves. They were going to get frostbite. And it was totally worth it.

Draco had stopped trying to jerk his hand free, and stopped clawing at Harry's hands; instead, he took a step closer, trying to be intimidating. Harry grinned, grabbing him around his torso instead, struggling to lift him.

"Put me down, you bloody ox!" He managed to yell, before Harry tripped on a log. There was a moment of realisation as they both stared at each other, a moment of utter incredulous loathing radiating from Draco.

Harry splashed under the water, Draco landing on him.

It wasn't romantic in the slightest.

Rocks dug into Harry's back, one of Draco's elbows hit him in his ribs. There was confusion as they tried to get their bearing right, before shoving to the surface.

Harry splutter out water, laughing. He couldn't feel most of his limbs, but Draco's expression! He was standing waist deep in the lake, arms outstretched to stare at his sodden uniform. A bit of kelp hung from his shoulder.

"I'm going to fucking kill you, Potty!" But he was smiling, disbelievingly, his lips twitching as if he was trying to scowl, but physically couldn't. He shoved his limp hair from his face, cocky smile in full view as he shook his head at Harry. "Come here, darling."

Harry smiled, backing away. The water was steadily rising; a step brought it an inch higher; the lake descended quickly. He didn't trust Draco as far as he could throw him; which they had just proven, wasn't very far.

Draco lunged through the water, Harry yelping as he tried to get away. There was a moment of struggle, in which both tried to dunk the other underwater unsuccessfully.

Harry glanced at the water, now at his throat. It was a tad high for his liking; Merlin, he hadn't been to swimming lessons in his life. And the gillyweed had made swimming a natural instinct. It wasn't that he couldn't swim, it just made him uncomfortable.

Draco had him surrounded; literally. One arm was surrounding Harry's shoulder, holding him to his own body. The other had Harry's right hand curled to his chest, holding it there. No more dunking or splashing. He was enforcing a ceasefire.

Both were shivering at this point.

"You utter tosspot." Draco chuckled, leaning forwards for a soft kiss on Harry's neck.

Warmth radiated from his icy lips.

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They ran, laughing.

Into the forbidden forest, just bounding around the first few trees before making a tactical retreat.

Into Hogsmead, on a school day. They bought firewhiskey, and laughed as Harry yelped as a piercing attached itself to his ear.

They drank alcohol on the school grounds, sprinting away as Filch shuffled into view. Into empty classrooms, without permission. House-elves gave them lunch, despite it being nearer to ten than to twelve.

They forgot about being uncomfortable, that Harry was sick.

They snarled at a second year that had the courage to roll her eyes at them, uncaring when she burst into tears. They ran through the Charms corridors, bellowing swears and turning Flitwick into a stuttering mess as he saw who exactly it was uttering such profanity. They mocked a fist fight, giggling in between punches. They silenced themselves to stop the giggling as they snuck into the teacher's lounge, listening to them complain about the 'hoodlums' running amuck the school.

They burst into Herbology class, five minutes before the bell, unable to hear the berating over their chocked laughter.

Blaise began snatching at the list, declaring the next one.

Pansy began smiling, laughing her loud, horrendously high-pitched shriek as they completed each one.

Theo allowed himself a small smile, running along with them.

Draco smirked to himself as he pointed out the next rule, ignoring the embarrassed coughs and glances as he pulled Harry into the closest cupboard.

They broke every rule.

And Harry couldn't have been happier.

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34. Break every school rule

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Harry sat before McGonagall's mahogany desk, tapping his fingers together anxiously. They had been stealing a bottle of veritiserum for that night's game of Wizard and Mudblood, sprinting from the potion storage facilities to round a bend…and almost run their Headmistress right over.

She had blinked coolly, eyebrows raised; staring at them all with the greatest disappointment she could muster. For a moment, no one had spoken. No one had dared to.

"Mister Potter, there are regulations against piercings at Hogwarts. Remove it at once." She had said quietly, not in the slightest angrily. That in itself was a reason to worry. Not for Slytherins, apparently.

"Don't worry, Harry, your tattoo's safe though." Did Draco actually believe he was helping in situations like this?

The Slytherins had been dismissed with a wave of an irritated hand; Harry had been told to follow her.

To sit awkwardly in her office, staring at him with unreadable eyes. They were waiting for Pomfrey. Brilliant.

"…Am I expelled?" Harry asked quietly, wishing some emotion was leaking through her face. At the moment, she looked about ready to attend an execution.

As it was, she waited another moment, regarding him coolly before responding. "Not expelled, no." She spoke equally as quiet. "Despite the fact you've broken nearly fifty school rules."

Don't say it, Harry. Let it slide. No one likes a boaster.

"…All of them." Traitorous mouth.

She blinked at him, raising her eyebrows further. "What was that?"

"…I broke all the school rules."

"…The rule that prohibits duelling?" She asked, voice still quiet, emotionless. Harry would rather her be furious; it was an emotion he was used to, could easily read. This quiet, numbness…it was terrifying.

"It was a technicality. My hand was on the wand, but Draco was the one who cast. Still counts."

She sighed heavily, but didn't respond. Harry continued tapping.

"I see you've discarded your usual red." She noted, not really a question. Small talk. Whatever was coming, it was going to be big.

Harry shrugged, playing with the tip of his tie. "It made them happy."

Silence fell again, neither willing to break it. If he wasn't in trouble for the countless, well, the entirety of the rules broken, why was he summoned? Was it about Dudley visiting? Had they changed their minds?

It was almost a relief when Pomfrey entered the room, hurrying to stand behind McGonagall.

Almost.

Her eyes were puffy and red, downcast. Her lips were thinned into a tiny line, as if she didn't dare speak. She didn't look at Harry, instead opted to stare at the biscuit tin.

Unease ran through Harry's stomach as he stared at the two of them; they didn't look impressed. Pomfrey had been crying. He wasn't getting expelled. Smalltalk. The only thing that would have the two of them…oh. No.

"…please, don't." He didn't need to clarify.

McGonagall spoke, strengthened her resolve first, confirming his fears. "Mister Potter, there have been numerous occasions over the past few months, wherein you've put yourself in a dangerous situation. Therefore, I believe…we both believe, that for your own health-"

"Don't do this, please."

"And safety, that it would be for the best if you returned to St. Mungo's for the remainder of…so they can keep a proper eye on you."

"No." He shook his head almost frantically, pretending his throat wasn't closing up. "I don't want to go back there. What's…wrong with staying here? It's been fine so far, right? I mean, I'm still here."

McGonagall gave him a look, ignoring the indignant noise that managed to escape Pomfrey. "It's not fair to use magic, knowing of the consequences, and just expect Madam Pomfrey to set it right. It's taxing on her, Mister Potter. It's not fair."

"Forgive me for thinking that she was used to dealing with injured or sick kids."

"Injured, or sick. Not dying." Harry snapped his mouth shut at the retort, staring at her with amazement. He was amazed she could be so heartless. "Not children repeatedly having no regard for their lives. Not boys that just expect her to be there, no consequences to their actions."

"It's not as if I was doing it on purpose!"

"What happened last night?"

"My magic is more unstable now. It's not my-"

"What happened last night?" She asked louder, voice clipped. Shit, she really didn't care. But this couldn't happen; Harry wouldn't let it.

He stopped his tirade, staring at her hopelessly. "…My magic reacted." He muttered weakly, blinking back the hotness in his eyes emotionless stare. She wasn't even upset!

"To what?"

"…I don't-"

"To you hexing a housemate with multiple spells, without a single regard to your own health."

"It wasn't my health that needed regarding; it was the Slytherins! They needed someone to do something."

"So you took it upon yourself to dish out punishment? Knowingly? Understanding the consequences?" She shook her head, frowning. "You've attacked the Womping Willow, and then persuaded a fellow student to do the same. You've been found looking as if you were attacked in a bathroom; you've lost control of you limbs; you've been blinded. Isn't that enough? Frankly, we've had enough, Harry."

"I…I'm sorry, alright? I won't do it again, purposely or accidental; I promise. I won't use it again." Harry had to stop as his voice broke, clamping his teeth together. He couldn't be sent away. Not now.

"I'm afraid I won't change my mind." She replied evenly, still no emotion. Really? "St. Mungo's really is better suited to catering to your needs; you'll find yourself more comfortable."

"I DON'T WANT TO BE COMFORTABLE!" Harry couldn't find the effort to care that she had summoned up some emotion now. Too little, too late. It really was difficult to speak quieter. "I want to stay here!"

"That's no longer an option."

"You…you said I could come back! What was the point, if you just send me away when it gets too hard? You knew what I have! You knew what was going to happen!" Why was it hard to catch his breath? He was panting, without really knowing why.

"Opinions are liable to change, Mister Potter." McGonagall snapped, anger flitting through her tone. "The diagnostics are not the nicest of treatments to witness, and-"

"She doesn't witness them anyway!" Harry snapped back, voice shaking. "She leaves me alone in the bloody room!"

"You're subjecting her to have to watch as you kill yourself with your own idiocy!"

Pomfrey stood behind her chair, staring balefully at the biscuit tin, as if they weren't shouting about her. Harry doubted she was listening to the conversation in the first place; he knew he certainly didn't want to!

"I won't do it again; they were mainly accidents, anyway. Please, I'll be more careful-"

"Harry," Her voice was tired, as if she had any right to be. She was done. "My thoughts on this matter aren't about to change. I'm sorry." But she wasn't. How could she be? She was throwing him to fucking St. Mungo's again; isolated, and alone. No one meeting his eyes.

So, not that different to here, really. There was one irritating difference; Draco wasn't at Mungo's.

"Please don't do this." Harry begged, wondering briefly when the traitorous tears had escaped. He didn't really care, at the moment. "This is my home. I want to spend the last few months of my life at home. Why can't you people get that?"

Pomfrey burst into tears, holding a hand to her mouth.

Harry wasn't soon behind.

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Blaise trotted to his dormitory, sniggering to himself. He was going to steal that weird little cube Potter played with, and dare Draco to either play it, or to admit his feelings for the Boy Wonder. Draco loathed that cube; this was going to be hilarious.

Potter.

What an interesting topic, at the moment.

Most of the house was whispering about him, wondering what the hell had happened last night, and the others were in awe that he had broken every school rule that day. Neither group seemed to care that Potter disliked the attention; he was quickly gaining the respect of the other students; the majority opinion was that he wore the green well.

Potter didn't want the respect, though. He didn't seem to really want anything, other than blending in with the background. Ignoring the blatant attention seeking he acted out today; who knew a Gryffindork knew how to have so much fun? Especially when…

Blaise hesitated, frowning. Potter was sick.

He wouldn't be around in a few months; well, technically, any week now. Blaise had done the math; he was at the five month mark. Dangerous territory, for people with…

God damn it!

It wasn't fucking fair! They had finally realised that Potter wasn't the git they had always assumed of him, and to know it was for a limited time was ridiculous! Something had to be done about it; otherwise he was going to put in a fucking complaint! Draco would join him, and Merlin knows that Draco gets exactly what he wants, no questions asked.

Blaise sighed, crossing into the dormitory. They hadn't reacted as blasé as they should have; some Slytherins they were. Act aloof, and research every waking moment later until they found some miraculous cure. That was how Slytherins were supposed to work; not pout, wishing things were different.

They had let Potter down, this morning. First people who knew, and they hadn't reacted well.

Well, seriously, who would, after finding out that a friend was sick?

That caused him to stop.

A friend?

When the hell had that happened?

And how the hell had Potter snuck in here, without anyone noticing? They were situated by the fire, right near the entrance. They sure as hell didn't see him enter the common room; and yet, here he was, standing near Draco's bed, staring at his trunk.

No wonder he had seemed upset, recently. It would be a strain on anyone.

"You snuck in here pretty quietly." Blaise said, grin faltering as Potter jumped, turning slightly to stare at him. He didn't fully face him, nor look above his throat. Hmm. Potter must have felt so bloody angry, with everyone doing that to him today. "Got a stash of firewhiskey hidden away?"

"…I wish."

Blaise continued to grin, seemingly amused by the answer. Potter's voice was soft, however, weak. Something had happened.

"…So, Succorbentis, huh?" He said easily, shrugging as Potter turned slightly more to give him a flat stare. "…There are worse things to have. My great-great uncle caught the Dragon Pox. Nasty, that one. Swelled up until he looked like a fat monkey in a suit. Still, gave his fortune to my mother, so I can't be too judgemental, can I? There's also memory loss; no, don't judge. Can you imagine your entire life just vanished? Zip, gone? Christ, it's my worst nightmare, that one."

"…What are you doing?"

Blaise just shrugged, not quite knowing himself. No one else would have babbled like he just did. "Just trying unorthodox methods to cheer up a friend." It was best to be blunt with Gryffindors; they didn't understand, otherwise.

"…We're not friends."

Ouch. Blaise kept the grin on his face, the twinkle in his eyes. It wouldn't do, to frown and show just how that one stung. Yeah, he was a Slytherin. It didn't mean he was void of feelings.

"But we've bonded. Surely that-"

"I can't have friends, Zabini. It doesn't work like that."

"I'm sure if you put your mind to it-"

"You put your mind to it; we are not friends, alright?" His voice caught again, barely. Enough to be noticeable. "I'm supposed to be alone; friends aren't in the plan at all; I. Can't. Have. Them; it's just going to hurt, later on."

Blaise couldn't keep the grin on anymore; this wasn't funny in the slightest, not even in pretend. Potter had some serious mental issue going on, if he thought making a friend of two was out of his league. "No one is supposed to be alone, Potter."

He laughed, mirthlessly. "I beg to differ." His voice broke, again. Had he been…crying?

"Explain it to me, then, because I'm not following."

Potter grit his teeth, growling. "I'm going to be dead in a month or two; get it through your bloody skull. I can't have friends, because I won't exist soon. So, just take this bloody tie, and get the hell away from me!"

Blaise blinked at that, swallowing the ball in his throat. "Have a little trust, Potter. We're not up and running, like you expect. We're Slytherins, for fuck's sake. A little disease or two won't get rid of us."

Potter opened his mouth to respond, surely something cruel like 'It'll get rid of me', but stopped himself, a hand quickly wiping at his eye. Yup, definitely crying. Where the hell was Pansy when Blaise needed her? He wasn't good at these emotional confrontations. Confrontations in Slytherin was a part of routine; the emotional aspect? He was a bloody foreigner, in a strange land.

Potter didn't respond, and it hit Blaise like a metaphorical ton of cliché bricks.

"…You don't really believe that, do you?"

"My relatives didn't care; why should anyone else?" He barked another mirthless laugh, sighing, slumping on the bed. He looked bloody exhausted; Blaise didn't blame him. Who's relatives didn't care that a family member was sick?

"Even the plague had a cure." Blaise said quietly, trying to ignore how Potter seemed to crumple into himself. "And besides, you heard Draco; we're parasites. Can't get rid of us. And at the moment, you're doing a magnificently horrendous attempt. Definitely amateur material."

"Don't worry, I don't expect you to do the running." The way he said it had Blaise's stomach clench uncomfortably; was it just him, or was there a double meaning behind that phrase? Either way, he was not amused.

"Potter…what happened?"

There was a moment of silence, neither moving, or daring to breathe. Then, miraculously, Potter turned to shrug at Blaise. His eyes were red, glassy. Exhausted. "I'm being evicted."

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Twenty minutes later, a furious Malfoy kicked in the Headmistresses office door.

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