WARNING: Adult Content

Chapter 6

Two weeks later

Following Morag MacDougal into the Slytherin common room was one of the hardest things Harry had ever done in his life, but he wasn’t going to let common sense talk him out of his plan.

Keeping his father’s cloak clasped tightly around him, he wove through the gossiping Slytherins and settled himself in a corner, curious as to what went on in the dungeon when the House members were out of sight of the rest of Hogwarts. Draco wasn’t here yet, and Harry knew he was taking a risk by doing this, but in the weeks since they had kissed, he’d thought of little else, even in the light of more frequent attacks by Voldemort’s followers.

"Do you think Draco will do it? Defy his mother, I mean. I heard she’s dead set against losing her son too after what our lord did to her husband. "" one fourth year asked, his voice at that awkward cracking stage so he sounded high and skittish one second and low and confident the next.

"He will if he knows what’s good for him," came the immediate retort of an older student.

"Did you hear the row he and Blaise had last night?"

"Hear it? I wouldn’t be surprised if the Gryffindorks heard it! Imagine the nerve of Zabini, questioning Draco as to why he looked well snogged. But I guess that just goes to prove what they’re saying about Draco and Zabini really isn’t true."

"Oh please, Blaise is a trollop, and Draco is a gorgeous sexy man. If it’s offered, why shouldn’t he take it, especially since Zabini was practically begging for it?" One of the Slytherin girls snorted in derision.

The door to Slytherin opened, and Draco sauntered in followed by his bodyguards, looking every inch the cool Slytherin scion. Stopping in front of a huge leather chair, he glared at the second year who had dared to sit in his seat.

Taking the hint, the poor boy quickly scuttled out of the way, and Draco ensconced himself. "So, what are we gossiping about tonight? The weather, my becoming a Death Eater? Or my sexual habits perhaps?" he asked calmly, examining his nails.

"The answer is it’s raining, I will serve he to whom I am loyal in whatever capacity he may request of me, and prolific. Any other questions?"

Harry had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing, feeling a giddy rush of happiness at hearing that Draco had tossed Zabini aside. God, I’m acting like a total git, he sighed to himself as he edged along the wall toward the stairs to the dorms, carefully stepping around Crabbe and Goyle, who stood flanking either side of Draco’s chair.

Once he’d made it up the stairs and to the prefect’s rooms, Harry relaxed somewhat, crossing his fingers that he picked the right door as he walked up to the first and whispered the password Draco had given him.

Doing his proper Slytherin duty, Draco held court for the next half hour, reigning over school and Death Eater gossip and keeping a sharp eye on those who were watching him. There was no room for error in this little game of cat and mouse he was playing.

If Dumbledore thought that just because they were students, they wouldn’t know how or couldn’t get enough power behind an unforgivable, then he was sadly mistaken. Many of them, himself included, had practically been weaned on killing curses and the dark arts. Such was the fate of a child, especially an heir,, of one of the followers of Voldemort.

When his self-allotted time was up, Draco rose languidly from his chair and waved to Crabbe and Goyle. "I’m turning in early; this time I plan on making Potter eat dirt instead of catching the snitch in his mouth," he smirked evilly, referring to the next day’s quidditch match. "Wonder what the Gryffindorks will say when they see my new Firebolt Mach III?"

Having spent the past half hour trying semi-successfully not to snoop around Draco’s room, Harry had finally settled himself on the bed to leaf through an old copy of ‘Quidditch Weekly’. As far as diversions, it didn’t provide much, but it was better than nothing - or doing something totally rash such as looking through Malfoy’s knickers.

"I’m such a bloody pervert," he sighed, hearing the sound of Draco’s voice outside the door. Realizing the other boy might not be alone, Harry dove for his cloak, getting it over himself just before the door opened. Getting caught by one of the other Slytherins would take a lot of explaining, and that he wanted to avoid.

Letting the door swing silently shut behind him, Draco proceeded to put one of the strongest locking spells he knew on it, warded it so that only a real problem that would require the prefect would trigger an alert, and then after that came the layers of anti-spy spells and silencing charms. The last thing he wanted was another night of Zabini trying to crawl into his bed, nauseating little git. How he thought he was anything but a second rate slut Draco didn’t know and really didn’t care to find out.

Hanging his robe up in the closet, Draco yanked down his school tie, undid the first few buttons at the throat, pulled the dress shirt out of his slacks and toed off his shoes, all in the space of seconds. With a grateful sigh he let himself move toward the comfort of his rather large bed. One of the perks of being a Malfoy, no one blinked when you conjured yourself a king-sized bed, claiming it was the only way you could possibly get a good night’s sleep.

Swallowing hard as he watched some of the tension leave Draco’s shoulders after he warded the door, Harry stepped silently forward, shedding the cloak and stopping Malfoy before he could drop to the bed. "Looks like you need some help there," he murmured, un-knotting the silver and green tie and pulling it from around Draco’s neck. His own clothes were much more casual, jeans and a soft, faded t-shirt, but then, he hadn’t been holding court for his lackeys.

"H-Harry?" Draco stuttered, "Bloody hell, you nearly took ten years off of my life. Not that I mind or anything," he continued. "What are you doing here? Again, not a problem but... I guess I just didn’t expect it."

"Because we have a quidditch game tomorrow?" Harry asked, smiling slightly. "Considering we’ll probably both be too sore to do anything the way we bash each other around when we’re playing, what better night than this?"

"Because I thought you’d change your mind," Draco admitted softly. "Once Weasley and the other Gryffindors started in on their Draco bashing, that is," he finished, looking away, a slight blush tinting the pale ivory skin of his cheeks.

"Well, that and the way Zabini’s been carrying on. As if... as if we were lovers."

"Zabini’s an arse," Harry sighed, beginning to work on the buttons that held Draco’s shirt closed. "What my House says about you can’t be any worse than what your House says about me; do you pay it any attention?" As he spoke, Harry pushed the fine cotton shirt off Draco’s shoulders, realizing that the other boy hadn’t known he was here so the spell must only be active when he was concentrating on it.

Filing that bit of information away, Harry slid his hands down Draco’s arms, feeling the clenching of his biceps. "But I didn’t come here to talk about Zabini or Ron or quidditch."

"What did you come here for then?" Draco purred, finally relaxing enough to enjoy having a warm, sexy Harry bent on seduction peeling his clothes off and doing unspeakable things to his person. "Let me guess, you’re here to talk about the potion for the behemoths. No? Then perhaps you’re here to discuss being Draco Malfoy’s love slave for all eternity?"

Harry smiled and leaned in to nip at Draco’s throat. "That last one could be a possibility, though I could be here to interview you for the position as my love slave."

"Draco Malfoy a love slave? HA!" the silvery blond retorted with a completely Lucius-like sneer. "Although I might be willing to negotiate, depending on what you have to offer me. I am expensive."

"Should I have a Gringotts goblin fill you in on my account balance?" Harry asked dryly, now beginning to tug at Draco’s undershirt, baring his stomach.

"For... for starters," Draco breathed, his head falling back on his shoulders at the first touch of Harry’s quidditch-callused hands on his stomach. "Oh Merlyn," he moaned. "I have a confession to make, Harry."

Harry cocked his head to the side, the expression in his eyes hidden by his glasses. "If you tell me Zabini is coming up here for another shag, you’re dead."

"Well, it does have something to do with Zabini," Draco admitted, having the good grace to color and then clear his throat nervously. "The reason why he was so peeved and possessive was because that night, after the quidditch bleachers, he was waiting for me, and I was actually relieved to do my ‘duty’, so to speak, due to a certain emerald-eyed enchanter who left me aching. The problem was it wasn’t Zabini’s name I called out at, well, at a critical moment. It was yours. Had to smudge his memory a bit so that he doesn’t remember what name I called, just that I called one that wasn’t his but..." Draco trailed off, blushing.

Harry blinked, his hands stilling on Draco’s abdomen. "You got Zabini, and I got my hand... Think I got the better end of the bargain there."

"I think you’re right," Draco laughed, wrapping his arms around Harry’s neck and tumbling them both to the bed. "He’s nothing but a little slut intent upon sleeping his way to the top of the pile. I absolutely refused to let his lips so much as touch mine; it was entirely too repulsive a thought. After all I have no idea where they’ve been! Thank Hades for the public blow up he instigated. Now I never have to tolerate him again. But enough about tarts and trollops, what’s the pure-hearted Gryffindor got in mind for me, I want to know?"

"Pure-hearted?" Harry laughed incredulously. "You have to be joking. Do you know this morning, when you were giving your diatribe on the quality of students Hogwarts allowed in this term, all I wanted to do was to lay you out on the table in the Great Hall, cover you in strawberry jam, and lick it off?

"As for what I have in mind... I do believe you listed quite a lot of things you wanted to do last time we spoke. What say we get through those first, then see what’s left."

"I’m allergic to strawberry jam. Now if you said cherry preserves or passion fruit jelly, you’d have a deal," Draco smirked before rolling on top of Harry. "Who’d have thought it? The Gryffindor Golden Boy is a great perv. I’m intrigued, amazed, and incredibly turned on. Harry Potter a deviant, my life just got eminently more interesting!"

"So glad I can provide you with excitement," Harry said dryly.

"Potter, you’ve been my main source of excitement since the day you took my offer of friendship and rammed it back down my throat all those years ago. Well, excitement and hate and dreams of revenge and humiliation and doing depraved things to you and..." Draco trailed off with a smirk before licking a path down Harry’s cheek to nibble at his neck.

Harry was panting softly by this time. "I’m hoping we’re aiming for the last item on that list tonight," he gasped, again pushing Draco’s undershirt out of the way to get to the warm skin of his back.

"Refresh my memory," Draco purred, his own hands busily rucking up Harry’s shirt so he could get at the pebbled nipples that had been taunting him through the thin cotton of the other teen’s shirt. "What was the last thing on the list, again?" he murmured before diving in and capturing one with his mouth.

"D-doing depraved things to me," Harry rasped, arching up into the wet suction of Draco’s lips on his chest. He threaded his fingers through the other boy’s silver-blond hair and held on tight, knowing he was in for a wild ride tonight and reveling in the thought.

"You mean more depraved than this?" Draco smirked before kissing his way down the center of Harry’s torso, taking long moments to explore the Gryffindor’s navel with his tongue.

Harry managed to push up to his elbows so he could watch Draco’s progress, his jeans growing tighter with every inch Malfoy slid lower. "If that’s what a Slytherin calls depraved, I feel sorry for you," he managed to get out.

"You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, Scarhead," Draco chuckled right before doing a bit of wandless magic and sending an icy breeze over the skin he’d just bathed with his tongue. "I was trying to be, what’s the Muggle term - ummm, caramel? For you."

"Caramel?" Harry frowned even as he shivered from the chill against his skin. "I think you mean vanilla, and even I’ve gotten past that stage, Malfoy." Deciding to up the ante himself, Harry flipped them both over so he was the one on top.

"Oh really? well, tell you what, why don’t you demonstrate to me the length and girth of your knowledge," Draco purred, his hand reaching between Harry’s legs to massage the Gryffindor’s erection, "and then I’ll formulate a plan on upping the ante on your level of depravity from there."

That said Draco reached up, tangled his hand in Harry’s hair and pulled him down for a breath-stealing kiss.

Not thinking about the fact that he was certain in this case that Draco knew much more then he did, even considering his experiences with Terry, Harry flattened himself out over Draco’s body, rocking against the hard length beneath him as the two of them passed domination of the kiss back and forth.

After long, breathless moments, Draco finally broke the kiss with a wicked smile. "Well, that was... informative. Don’t worry, little Gryffindor. The big, bad Slytherin will debauch you thoroughly and make sure you leave here reeking of sex and looking ravished, just to give your fellow Gryfs something to speculate about."

Rolling them over so that he was on top of Harry once more, Draco resumed his nibbling path downwards, except this time he didn’t stop. Agile fingers soon had Harry’s jeans undone, and Draco pulled them off as he slithered down from the bed to his knees. Gazing up the length of his lover’s torso, he licked his lips hungrily. "You’re a feast, Harry, an absolute, fucking feast," he sighed appreciatively as he tugged the jeans and boxers off completely.

Tugging the Gryffindor to the edge of the bed, Draco spread Harry’s thighs wide and wedged himself between them. "Did you know, Harry," Draco said pointedly, a silent admonishment for the other boy to use his given name, "that there are some snakes in the world who have the capacity to swallow a man whole? You may think this is a disgusting method of foreplay, but there is a reason why I draw your attention to it," Draco continued in a nonchalant voice.

"And the reason is, I’m one of those snakes." That said the blond Slytherin began to slowly swallow Harry’s cock until he could feel his nose brush against the dark curls at its base. Undulating his throat muscles around the object in his throat, Draco began to bob his head up and down, increasing the length of each stroke until he was almost pulling off of Harry’s cock entirely before sinking back down again.

Biting down on the fist he shoved in his mouth to keep from screaming in pleasure, Harry realized he was out of his depth here, seriously out of his depth. He didn’t care though he probably should have.’

The rhythmic pulse of Draco’s throat around Harry’s shaft as he swallowed was an unrelenting goad, and the Gryffindor whimpered, bucking upward each time the other boy pulled back, needing more, until, frantically, he buried his fingers in Draco’s hair and pulled him down, while at the same time arching up erraticallyinto Malfoy’s mouth.

Raking his teeth lightly across the pulsating flesh in his mouth, Draco simply relaxed his throat more and let Harry fuck his face. He hadn’t known that the Gryffindor would be this desperate from a simple blowjob, and it was an endearing thing to discover. And Harry said he wasn’t vanilla, Draco thought to himself in amusement.

Deciding that if he wanted to have any vocal chords left, he would have to make Harry come soon, Draco cupped the Gryffindor’s glorious arse in his hands and slowly spread his cheeks apart.

Thanking whatever dark gods watched over him that he’d carelessly dropped the lube on this side of the bed that last time with Zabini, Draco scrabbled blindly and found the unbreakable vial of clear liquid. Pouring some into his hand, he quickly slicked up a finger and then began to stroke Harry’s anus, lightly at first and then more firmly, pressing against it a little harder with each pass until his index finger finally began to sink inside the hot channel.

"Fuck... Draco... so damn..." Harry’s voice trailed off to a needy whine as he felt himself penetrated. With Terry it had been more a case of mutual fumbling and groping, but this... this was heaven.

Draco’s finger pressed farther into his body, and Harry bit back a shout of pleasure. He twisted upward, his back arching off the sheets as his whole body tightened, spiraling downward to a place where the only thing that existed was the glorious feeling of Draco’s mouth on him and the gleam in the other boy’s molten silver eyes.

A crook of the finger inside him and Harry exploded, thrusting as far into Draco’s mouth as possible, his fingers tightening cruelly in the fair hair they were knotted in as he came; full of the glorious knowledge that part of himself was now in Draco forever.

Swallowing rapidly so as not to miss a drop, Draco didn’t even wince as his hair was pulled hard. He kept brushing his finger back and forth over Harry’s prostate, wanting to make it last, make the other teen crazy. When at last Harry collapsed bonelessly back onto the bed, Draco slid his finger out reluctantly but still continued to nurse at the other boy’s cock until he was completely soft.

Finally releasing it, Draco climbed onto the bed and crawled up Harry’s body to look down at his lover and former enemy. Harry was beginning to take on that debauched look, but it was nowhere near as obvious as Draco wanted it. He wanted Potter to look owned, even if no one guessed that Draco was the owner. He wanted a public claim on the other boy, a visible reminder that Draco had him and intended to keep him.

With that in mind the silver blond Slytherin dipped his head and took the flesh of Harry’s throat into his mouth and began to suckle. He could feel the blood move under the skin, flow to the area he was nursing on, knew that the skin was turning from golden tan to dusky rose to the color of old blood and finally the vivid red of a crimson black rose. There on Harry’s neck, just above where the collar of a school shirt would sit, was Draco Malfoy’s mark for the entire world to see. Drawing back at last, he spent long moments brushing his finger over it, admiring his artistry. "Mine," he purred in a voice dripping with satisfaction.

Smiling giddily, his mind still a blank from his climax, Harry could only nod and stroke his hands over Draco’s arms. When his brain finally engaged again, he felt the heat of the hickey Malfoy had raised on his throat and shook his head, chuckling. "Your own personal mark, eh?"

Realizing that Draco was still mostly clothed while he was nude except for his socks, Harry began to frown even as he reached for Draco’s undershirt, pulling it up and over his head before beginning to work on the soft leather belt that circled his waist. "And you have way too much on for what we discussed," he mused, stroking the backs of his fingers over the bulge alongside Draco’s fly.

"If I could be assured that the entire population of Gryffindor tower wouldn’t rise up and massacre me, I’d have put a more permanent ‘personal mark’ on you, Potter," Draco growled, grabbing Harry’s hand and holding it still. "If you keep doing that, I won’t be able to do what we discussed. Hellfires, you’re the hottest thing I’ve ever seen, you know that?

"However, since you’ve so obviously offered," Draco’s eyes sparked with silver fire, "why don’t you see about ridding me of what stands in the way? You do know how to take a bloke’s trousers off, don’t you?"

"Considering I am a bloke and I wear trousers, the answer would be yes in that regard," Harry scoffed, sitting up and pushing the other teen to his feet, unable to keep from smirking at the fact that his touch had Draco close to losing control.

Leaning in, Harry mouthed the taut skin over Draco’s stomach, feeling the muscles ripple against his lips as he undid Malfoy’s belt, then the button and zipper holding his trousers closed. Tilting his head upward, Harry met Draco’s gaze as he slowly pushed the gray trousers down over his trim hips and past his thighs and calves to pool over his feet.

Drawing his eyes downward again, Harry licked his lips at the sight of Draco’s erection tenting the fabric of his boxers, leaving a wet spot on the emerald green silk. "So you always coordinate your knickers with your clothes?" he chuckled, blowing on the damp spot, then leaning closer to lick at it, feeling Draco’s cock twitch beneath the cloth.

"Actually," Draco husked, "I coordinated them with your eyessssssoh Merlyn, Harry!" Draco moaned, his hands sliding through the Gryffindor’s hair. "If you want me to fuck you, you really have to stop doing that. Or you can keep doing that and then get me hard again, not that it would be any great difficulty considering how long I’ve wanted you and how much," the Slytherin panted, pulling his lover’s head back and looking down into the bespectacled eyes.

"You’ve still got your glasses on," Draco realized suddenly, his fingers moving to lift the arms of the spectacles up and then whispering a quiet Leviosa to send them soaring over to his night table. "Much better, now I can see your pretty eyes without any interference."

"Pretty eyes?" Harry snickered, shaking his head. "Tell me you did not just say I had pretty eyes."

"Oh but I did," Draco purred, his hand caressing Harry’s cheek and tracing the fullness of his lips. "Beautiful eyes, mesmerizing even. As fatal to me as an Avada Kedavra."

Said eyes rolled heavenward. "Beautiful, mesmerizing, I believe this is on top of calling me an emerald-eyed enchanter on the pitch. Careful, Draco, or I’ll start to think you’re a closet romantic." Quirking a smile up at the other teen, Harry caught Draco’s fingers between his lips, lashing them with his tongue. "I’m a Malfoy, Potter, everything thing I do is over the top, haven’t you figured that out yet?" Draco chuckled, a sound that turned into a moan. "Oh fuck, Harry. You look like... that’s how you’d look if your lips were..." Draco swallowed, his eyes dilating with lust, as he watched Harry give ‘head’ to his fingers.

Letting the now wet fingers fall from his mouth, Harry squinted slightly, trying to focus on Draco’s face. "If I what?" he murmured, moving his hands to the Slytherin’s waist and hooking his thumbs in the boxers before tugging them down, "If I was doing this?"

That said, he leaned over and took the head of Draco’s shaft in his mouth, licking and suckling at it, delighting in the texture and flavor.

Draco swallowed, his throat gone dry as he watched with huge eyes while Harry, Harry, the Boy who Lived, Potter, gave him fellatio. "Oh Salazar," he moaned faintly. "If this is a dream, don’t let me wake up!"

Without stopping what he was doing, Harry shifted a hand to pinch Draco on the arse, telling him it was indeed real.

Yelping slightly, the blond Slytherin glared down at Harry and then smiled wickedly. "Well if I’d known you wanted to get that adventurous, Harry, I’d have transfigured a few things in the room to make it more interesting."

Shaking his head slightly, Harry pulled back enough so that his sigh ghosted over the sensitized flesh of Draco’s shaft. "Malfoy, if you aren’t going to moan or whimper, just shut up," he stated before going back to what he’d been doing.

"Bossy bits, aren’t you?" Draco groaned, feeling Harry begin to work harder on his prick. "For someone who’s only muddled around with a Ravenclaw, you’re bloody talented at this, you know? I always knew parseltongue had to be good for something other than talking to snakes. It’s made your tongue bloody limber too!"

Deciding answering wasn’t as important as his goal of hearing Draco moan, Harry shifted a hand to cup the other youth’s testicles, pulling at them, his fingers brushing the surprisingly silky blond pubic hair around them as he licked and sucked and hummed around the thick shaft in his mouth.

"H-Harry, that, oh there, touch... mmmm you’re bloody clever at this. But you need to stop if you want me too..." Draco choked, feeling his whole body quiver. He was on the edge, desperate to come, to leave a part of himself swimming through Harry’s bloodstream, nourishing the Gryffindor in magical ways. But he was also desperate to be buried balls deep inside Harry, fucking him hard and deep. Oh the dilemma he faced.

"What do you want, Harry? Do you want me to come, do you want me to fuck you now, or do you want to get me hard again so I can fuck you later?"

"Third one," Harry mumbled, pulling back to lick is swollen lips before diving in again, breathing deeply and smelling the unique scent of lust- driven Draco Malfoy.

"Bollocks," Draco moaned, his head falling back on his shoulders and his hands gripping Harry’s head tightly. His control shredded by Gryffindor eagerness, Draco’s hips began to move back and forth slightly, his grip on Harry’s head increasing so that he was holding the other teen still while he fucked himself in and out of the warm, wet heat of Harry’s mouth.

All too soon he felt the telltale signs of orgasm racing through him and with a loud shout he came, sending spurt after spurt of come into Harry’s lush mouth.

Swallowing down the offering, Harry sucked on the pulsing shaft, taking all Draco had to offer and eager for more. Finally, when fine shivers were running through Malfoy’s body, he sat back, pulling Draco to his knees once more so that he could kiss the blond almost tenderly.

"Not too bad for someone who’s only ‘muddled around with a Ravenclaw’, hmm?" Harry asked with a slight grin, scooting back onto the large bed and bringing Draco with him. "And I do say the way you look right now is..." he shook his head and traced a finger over Draco’s still flushed face, "amazing."

Draco tried desperately to form a properly ‘Draco’ answer but his brain wouldn’t engage properly. Instead he found himself fisting his hands through Harry’s deliciously messy hair and kissing him with every ounce of hunger and need he possessed.

Swearing silently to every dark wizard he’d ever heard of that he would do anything to keep Harry alive and whole and, well, his, Draco finally released the other teen’s mouth when the urge to breathe became more urgent. His fingers stroked over the passion mark on Harry’s throat and then his mouth slid down the Gryffindor’s jaw to come to rest over it once more, suckling on it once more and sending the blood racing to the same spot all over again.

The remark he’d been about to make vanished in the sigh that escaped his lips and Harry tilted his head back, allowing Draco full access to his throat. The bite of pain at the bruising mixed with the pleasure still circulating through his veins to give it a richness he’d never felt before, and he dug his hands into Draco’s back, moaning quietly.

Knowing he might possibly be made to live to regret it but feeling in his gut that now was the perfect time, the only time, Draco moved his lips from the bruise, up the strong column of throat to rest just below Harry’s ear. "I never thought I’d get the chance to say this, thought it would always be like it was between us... arch-nemeses sniping and growling and making each other’s life a hell on earth but... I love you Harry James Potter. Never wanted to, mind you, but it kind of happened. I mean you’re sodding gorgeous and you do those bloody courageous things. You were, are, everything I publicly scorned and secretly wanted. It was a pain in the arse, lemme tell you, realizing I was falling for the Gryffindor Golden boy and not able to do a thing about it."

Dazed green eyes slowly cleared, and Harry frowned slightly, unsure of just how to react to that statement. "You don’t need to sweeten things up to get in my pants," he finally said, "especially since you’re already there. I’m not going to run screaming or crying from this room afterward, and I’m not asking for a lifetime - we both bloody well know that could be a very short span."

Draco saw red at Harry’s comment. Bad enough the rejection but Potter seemed helbent on dying and the Slytherin didn’t have a doubt that at the rate Potter was going it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. "You’re not going to fucking well die, do you hear me?" he all but screamed in Harry’s face, hoping that screaming like a banshee would get his point across where reason had failed.

Draco was sick and bloody tired of the Boy who Lived wanting to die. "And for the record, I didn’t offer you a lifetime, you stupid sod. If I had you would have known it." Clambering off the bed and feeling like he’d made the biggest mistake of his life, Draco began to prowl around his quarters like a caged animal that was now very much cornered because of his confession.

"Whoever said confession was good for the soul sure as hell didn’t count on a Death Eater’s brat confessing to the great and glorious Gryffindor savior or they’d have kept their bloody mouth shut. Here I was thinking that it was a miracle I could finally say what I never thought I could and the bloody prat actually tells me not to lie. I was being honest for one of the first times in my fucking life!"

"I’m being fucking realistic!" Harry shouted back, not caring at that point if all of Slytherin heard him and came to investigate. The warm feelings inside him had curdled up and died, leaving a growing anger toward the situation in general and Draco in particular at having caused it.

Oh, Harry couldn’t say he wasn’t at fault, not when he’d shown up here and practically begged for it, but damn Malfoy to hell anyway for making him see what he never had before and for making him feel, feel too damned much. Still glaring at Draco, he shoved off the bed and grabbed for his glasses and clothes, yanking them back on with little regard as to how they looked, wanting some kind of armor from the anger and pain in Draco’s silver gaze.

"I’m - I’m sorry I just can’t accept what you said blindly." Harry gave a cynical laugh. "I’d think you’d be proud of me over that, a Gryffindor not accepting something as fact just because it’s presented as such, it must be bloody amazing."

Draco sucked in a deep breath, closing his eyes at the unbelievable pain that spiked through him at Harry’s words. "Yes, you’re absolutely right, I should have known better," he finally said, eyes opening once again to reveal hard shards of silvered ice as ‘his soul began to freeze over.

And Draco did see, he saw that he was good enough to have a one night stand with, good enough to fool around and fuck with but not good enough to ever be anything important to Harry. He was, in Potter’s eyes,, just a dirty, Death Eating Slytherin, after all. How stupid could he have been? He had opened his heart, his very soul to this beautiful, cruel boy in front of him and now had to suffer the consequences.

"So does this mean your little jaunt to the wrong side of the tracks is over, Potter?" he asked smoothly, forcing himself not to react, not to show an ounce of weakness. Gliding back over to the bed, he lay down non-chalantly and watched Harry struggle into the rest of his clothes. "And here I thought you wanted to be corrupted at least for tonight. My mistake. Consider the offer withdrawn if you like."

Harry froze, his emotions a whirling, painful hurricane. "It wasn’t like that and you know it," he finally stated, his voice low and raspy. "Or maybe you don’t. Bollocks, maybe I don’t even know it." He passed a weary hand over his forehead, pushing his hair out of his eyes.

Raising his eyes, Harry looked at Draco lying on the bed, appearing the soul of ease, even though he was, in reality, slowly shattering apart inside. He knew that, just like he knew what Draco had said earlier was the truth, a truth that terrified him as people who loved him died, horribly. There was only one way to keep Draco safe, and he had to use it, even if it meant the end of what they had been building together.

"Unlock the door," he said quietly but firmly. "I’m sure Zabini’s around if you’re that desperate for a shag."

"But of course," Draco replied smoothly, calling his wand to him with fluid ease. "Far be it from me to stop the Gryffindor Golden boy from leaving now that he’s decided he’s finished slumming with the scum of Slytherin.

"Try and get some rest tonight, Potter. We wouldn’t want the youngest seeker in a century to be too fagged out to play tomorrow, now would we?" and with that Draco quickly muttered the words to release the wards and silencing charms around the room before clambering off the bed and grabbing his robe from the door.

When Harry backed away quickly as Draco approached the door the Slytherin felt something die inside of him. "Don’t worry, Potter, I of all people would never dream of forcing my unwanted attentions on someone. I remember all too clearly how it feels," Draco hissed, eyes narrowing as he fought the spike of pain that slammed through him. Show no weakness, show no pain, he kept chanting to himself over and over like a mantra as he forced the next words out.

"I was merely going to give you an excuse to leave without being seen; after all it would look rather odd if my bedroom door opened by itself while I was still lying on the bed, if that’s all right with you?" the blond queried with a haughty lift of an eyebrow.

With a dignity and grace that Draco didn’t know he had he quickly opened the bedroom door and, leaving the door open behind him, walked out of the room. "Crabbe, Goyle! Find Zabini for me. Tell him I want to talk to him. NOW!" the Slytherin bellowed, not daring to look behind him even though he knew he couldn’t see as Harry slipped out of his room and his life.

Chapter 7

Morning both took forever to arrive and came all too soon. Haunted by the things he’d done and said, Harry hadn’t slept a wink and he’d spent the night arguing with himself that he’d done the right thing; by pushing Draco away, he would keep him safe. Of course the echo of Malfoy’s last command to Crabbe and Goyle rang in his ears for hours after the fact, and when he let his mind wander, it brought up vivid images of what the two Slytherins were probably doing.

He was almost certain that Draco had done that to spite him, to make Harry hurt just as he was hurting, but a tiny bit of doubt remained, enough to be nursed into anger although a good part of it was directed at himself.

"Ready to kick some snake arse today, Harry?"

He looked up from the rasher of bacon he’d been methodically breaking into tiny bits and smiled at Ron. "Always."

"Shite, you look like hell!" the redhead exclaimed, dropping onto the bench alongside Harry as the rest of the Gryffindor team joined them. "What’s eating you?"

Harry bit his lip to keep from bursting into hysterical laughter at the thought of Ron’s expression if he answered that truthfully. ‘Last night it was Draco if you must know, and he’s damn good at it too.’

"Harry was probably up polishing off our strategy to use against Slytherin," Ginny cut in smoothly, earning herself a smile of gratitude from the exhausted Gryffindor seeker.

"We play like we’ve been playing and they don’t stand a chance," Royce Meadows, one of the beaters, announced. "Plus there’s the fact that Malfoy hasn’t gotten a Snitch from Potter yet."

"Doesn’t mean we don’t have to be on our toes," Ginny cautioned. "Snitch or no, Slytherin won’t go down easy."

"Captains, come forward and shake hands," Madame Hooch called, motioning the leaders of the Gryffindor and Slytherin teams forward.

The stands around the pitch were packed with members of all four Houses, Slytherins and Gryffindors already shouting catcalls and insults at each other as the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs predicted outcomes based on what would be best for their House teams.

Moving as if underwater, Harry strode forward, vaguely feeling his teammates clap him on the back as he passed. He avoided looking at Malfoy until the last moment, but when he did, he met the other boy’s cold gaze squarely. Draco’s lips were definitely swollen this morning and he had the sleek, satisfied look of someone who had been well bedded. Zabini had the same look about him in the dining hall, and Harry felt a hot burst of anger slide through his veins.

He nodded politely to Madame Hooch, taking perverse pleasure in the knowledge that the move would show Draco he hadn’t had the hickey charmed off. It would stay there until it faded, both as a lesson and a bittersweet reminder to himself.

"Malfoy." The word was almost inaudible over the noise of the crowd, and Harry extended his hand as if the thought of touching Draco again didn’t make his knees weak.

Draco barely deigned to acknowledge Harry’s presence outwardly but inside he was falling apart.

It was amazing what a memory charm could do, he thought miserably. Zabini thought he’d been royally fucked last night and had spent the morning preening to Slytherin in general and the world at large. Draco, it appeared to the rest of the world, had done the deed, but in fact had used a magical recording of his last conquest of Zabiniwhile said Slytherin slept on, oblivious, thanks to the draught of living death Draco had slipped into his pumpkin juice. For all the world and one Gryffindor in particular he looked like he was back on his game, the Slytherin Prince taking conquests where he willed it, like a medieval lord of old.

The truth, however, was a far cry from what Draco wanted the world to see. He felt broken inside, damaged beyond all reason. The one and only time he’d confessed his closely harbored secret, the first and quite possibly the last time he’d left himself open and vulnerable by revealing the truth about himself he had been put quite firmly in his place. It was a mistake he would not soon repeat. He’d learned his lesson far too well. Trusting someone with your secrets only got you hurt, and quite possibly dead. Never again, he vowed to himself, he’d never trust anyone ever again.

Realizing Madam Hooch was staring at him, Malfoy realized some time had passed since Har... no! Potter had extended his hand. With the condescension worthy of his family name he barely let his fingers slide across the leather covered palm of the Gryffindor’s hand and then turned and stalked back towards his team without even looking at Potter directly. It was a horrid snub and he knew the entire school had just witnessed it but he couldn’t bring himself to care. It hurt too much.

"No mistakes today," he snarled. "I want Gryffindor crushed, do you understand me? And make sure you do it clean. I refuse to give those pathetic mudblood lovers a chance to cry foul so that their equally pathetic patron," Draco shot Dumbledore a dirty look, "can reverse things. No mercy, Slytherins." Mounting his broom he kicked off and hovered, waiting for the signal to take to the skies. Today he would play, as he had never done so before. Today he would channel all his pain, all his fury, everything that had cut him and left him raw and bleeding into his game. Whether he won or lost, he would make sure that everyone knew that he was just as good as that... as him.

Ron’s face was as red as his hair when Harry returned to the group. "That slimy git! He - he..." His indignation clogged his throat and he could only hurl murderous looks at the silver and green clad team.

"Concentrate on the game, Ron," Harry growled, pushing everything from his mind except the upcoming competition. "That goes for all of you too. You know what they’ll do, try to get us pissed so we make mistakes. Remember where you are, remember who you are. Sodding tossers haven’t beaten us while I’ve been on the team and I don’t mean for it to start now."

He looked around the circle, taking strength and comfort from the faces of his friends, the only family he’d known since Sirius died. "For Gryffindor."

"For Gryffindor!" the others echoed loudly, turning as one and mounting their brooms, waiting for Madame Hooch’s signal.

This could well go down as one of the most brutal games of the century, Draco thought to himself as he wiped the sweat off his brow. It was as if each side was playing like it was their last game. For once Slytherin’s tactics were beyond reproach. It had actually been the Gryffindor side that had been hit with various fouls, which had in turn knocked their points down so that Slytherin was ahead by almost 120 points.

Draco saw a flutter of red and gold on a broom pull up next to him and he knew damned well it was Har... Potter. He could see all the other Gryffindor players spread out below him.

"Zabini!" he roared suddenly, "next time you do that I’ll turn you into a slug! I want this beyond reproach!"

The other Slytherin looked up, shamefaced and then his expression darkened into pure malice as he saw who was hovering next to his Draco. "Don’t worry, Drake, we’ll crush them with their own bloody rules. Teach those high and mighty Gryffindors a thing or two."

Unable to keep quiet in the face of that jibe, Harry looked over at Draco. "Amazing how well he came to heel, isn’t it?" He looked away then, purportedly to scan the skies for the Snitch, but in reality because he couldn’t bear looking at Draco without longing to touch him.

Get through this game and you can avoid him all you want, he promised himself.

"Yes, as a matter of fact he did," Draco replied coldly. "At least with him I know where I stand. To him I’m an equal, someone who understands what it is to be scum and unwanted. To him I’ll never be just another misadventure in a long line of misadventures. I’ll never be a pity fuck," Draco snarled, wheeling his broom and heading for the other side of the pitch as far from Harry as he could get even as his eyes still scanned for a speck of gold, too much a seeker not to do so.

In the stands Hermione watched Harry and Draco with growing concern. That night they’d spent in Snape’s rooms while Harry and Ron had run errands, and the few subsequent times they’d gotten together had given her a new insight into the Slytherin and she found that while she still didn’t trust him and wasn’t sure if she’d ever call him a ‘mate’ she did understand him much better than before.

Oh Harry, what have you done? she thought sadly. To the both of you.

Cheering Ginny as she tossed the quaffle behind Slytherin’s keeper and into the middle goal, Harry angled to fly by Ron, pulling up alongside him while still watching the field.

"Don’t worry, easy enough to catch up. Don’t let them get to you, you do that, they’ve won already." He lifted a hand in a half-salute, then darted back toward the middle field, wanting to find the snitch and end this madness.

Draco watched with grim satisfaction as first Zabini, then Parkinson, and finally Davis all scored goals on the Gryffindor side with a certain amount of ease. He could tell his people were tiring and he cursed soundly under his breath. Where was that damned snitch? He needed this game to be over!

The clouds suddenly shifted and there, just below and to the right of him was a sudden glimmer of gold, right in the thick of the worst of the scrimmaging. Grinning like a madman and not caring a whit for his own personal safety, Draco suddenly dove, ducking and winding and weaving. He heard a bludger whistle by his head close enough that he could feel a few of his hairs get clipped but still he dove.

Maybe it was a touch of madness, maybe it was the icy numbness that had invaded since last night but he found he couldn’t work up the nerve to be worried despite the gasps from the stands, the sudden disbelieving silence of yet another prejudiced Gryffindor announcer or the shouts of his team mates.

Cursing, Harry caught sight of the snitch and raced for it, flattening himself out over his broom for every bit of speed he could manage. Slytherin was up by 130 - or was it 140, the last few rounds of scoring had been so fast and furious he’d lost track.

Swerving to avoid Goyle who looked as if he’d rather use his bat on Harry’s head then the bludger, he came up under the crowd and threaded through it. Silver and green robes filled his vision, and a shout went up from the stands, but Harry couldn’t tell who scored. All he could see was Draco’s hand, and his own both reaching for the snitch before the two seekers collided in midair and tumbled to the ground.

Not, this time, please not this time, Draco prayed, his fingers brushing one of the snitch’s wings. He was so close but the ground was coming up so fast. Would he have time to pull up? Could he pull it off?

And then Potter leaned a little closer to his broom and edged up a little further and the game was over. He’d caught the snitch again.

Draco tugged hard at his broom, deciding that suicide really wasn’t the Slytherin way but he’d waited a heartbeat too long. The ground rushed up to meet him and he heard the sickening crack of his broomstick snapping and then... darkness.

Barely pulling up in time to avoid colliding with the ground, Harry collapsed, the breath knocked from his lungs at the force of his landing. He could feel the snitch wriggling in his hand, knew he should feel happy because he’d caught it, but...

Raising his eyes, he looked toward the group of Slytherins already huddled around Draco’s still form and felt his heart clench even as he say Madame Hooch pushing her way through the small crowd to get to the downed player.

"Harry! We did it, Harry!" The shouts and laughter from his teammates fell on deaf ears as Harry got to his feet, staring in shock as Draco was loaded onto a stretcher and whisked back to the castle and the infirmary.

They had won, but it seemed to have been at as much cost as his actions the night before had been.

Draco sighed and glared at the door that led to the outside world. A world he was expressly forbidden to go into until he’d been given a clean bill of health in the morning. He wanted out of the bloody hospital wing so he could go back to his little Slytherin dungeon and lick his wounds in peace.

Actually, he wanted to go to his godfather’s room and hide out for a week or until he died of old age, one of the two. However neither was a viable option at the moment and the only form of good luck he seemed to have had was Madam Pomfrey kicking the Slytherin team out of the infirmary with strict instructions that if they showed their faces again before morning they’d be put to work scrubbing bedpans without the use of magic. Which meant that Zabini couldn’t make a pest of himself, thank Merlyn.

Groaning softly as he turned on to his side, his broken bones still knitting he began to seriously consider that the Fates had decided to totally and completely screw with his life. Or perhaps, as some would say, it was divine justice. Either way it meant that Draco Malfoy had come out the loser yet again in the game of life. Was this how Uncle Sev had felt when faced with Potter, Lupin and Black? He could understand why Uncle Sev had become such a bitter and hardened man if this were the case. There were only so many times you could take a chance before you realized that it was better not to do so when all you got was bum end of the broomstick.

There was the sound of a throat being cleared at the end of the wing and Draco’s head snapped up. "What do you want, Granger?"

"To see if you were all right. Oh, it’s all right, I made sure there weren’t any hangers about before I came and ... Professor Snape helped me with a few spells and charms and such to make sure we weren’t heard."

Narrowing his eyes, Draco took out his wand and did a quick seek spell. Sure enough, there he could detect Snape’s signature in the spells that had been cast. Sagging back onto the bed he didn’t bother to look up when Hermione sat down next to him. "Shouldn’t you be up in Gryffindor celebrating yet another astounding victory over Slytherin?"

"Actually I never did care all that much for Quidditch. I just pretend to in order to pacify Ron and keep him happy. Besides, he has the others to talk to about all that stuff. Are you all right?"

"Never better."

"Draco," Hermione sighed. "What happened?"

"You mean before or after I sucked Potter’s cock?" Draco replied snidely, barking with laughter as Hermione turned bright red.

"He came to his senses," Draco replied suddenly, tired of acting, tired of lying, tired of pretending it didn’t hurt and just wanting to let it out. But who’d have thought he’d be baring his soul to a muggleborn Gryffindor know-it-all?. In a bizarre and mixed up way it made absolute sense.

"He realized I wasn’t good enough for him, that I was just another slimy, lying Slytherin and he decided he was through with slumming. All because... because," Draco’s voice hitched and the first silvery trickle of tears ran down his face. "All because I said I... cared about him.

"Biggest joke of all, don’t you think Granger? For the first time in my miserable life I’m completely and totally honest and I’m accused of lying. Poetic justice and all that."

"Oh, Malfoy, I’m so sorry," Hermione murmured, resting her hand on top of his. "But Harry’s not like that. He wouldn’t... he couldn’t be that cruel. Maybe you just misunderstood."

"He told me to go back to Zabini."

Hermione reached out to take Draco’s hand, checked herself in mid- movement, then continued on, closing her fingers around his. No one could see or hear them right now, so she wouldn’t put him in any danger.

"Considering he looked as if he wanted to skin Zabini this morning at breakfast I don’t think he meant it."

"You weren’t there, Granger, you didn’t hear what Potter said, saw what he did. But be that as it may there’s no cause for concern. Nothing happened between Zabini and I. I refuse to ever sleep with that git again, no matter what, even maintaining my role in Slytherin.

"I made Zabini think that we fucked like minks, and the rest of Slytherin too, but I never laid a hand on him. I invited him back to my room after Harry left and gave him some pumpkin juice that had draught of living death in it and messed with his mind. I couldn’t stomach the thought of actually touching that slut. Spent the night on a conjured air mattress on the floor and left Zabini alone in the bed.

"Anyway, if Potter did seem upset to you it was probably becausehe brassed off that I took him up on his suggestion instead of pining away for him like I was supposed to do.

"Look, I know he’s your friend, Granger and I know, dammit all, I know how wonderful he is. That’s why it hurts so blasted much. Because he is wonderful and brave and kind and a better person than I’ll ever be and I really and truly don’t deserve to have someone like that, even for one bloody night.

"So if you’re going to talk about him could you do us both a favor and leave. I’ve never gotten emotional before, Malfoys don’t do such a thing, and if I did, I’d have to kill you so it’s just best if you let it go. It’s already dead." Just like me, Draco thought morosely. Living on borrowed time until I’m exposed as a traitor and taken and not even one fucking night of happiness to hold on to when I’m tortured to death!

Hermione shook her head sadly, her curly hair sliding over her shoulders to frame her face as she did so. "All right, no talking about H - him. What about discussing N.E.W.T’s? How many are you planning on taking?"

She did know once she got back to Gryffindor she was going to have a very serious talk with a certain Harry Potter!

Draco smiled wanly, knowing full well it had taken a lot of effort for Hermione Granger to change the topic. She was like a three headed dog after a single bone when she got something in her head. However he was grateful for the company. It kept him from thinking and from moping.

"You know," he mused after a lull in the conversation. "You’re the only one who could top me in class, well in some classes, I’m still better in Potions and Arithmancy but... you made me work for my grades, Granger. Thank you for that. You made sure that what I was given I had to earn, not be handed just because my father was on the board of governors and my name was Malfoy. It was one of the few things I can honestly say I’m proud of."

"Aren’t you proud of what you’re doing now?" she asked quietly. "You’re helping people, saving lives."

"At the cost of other people’s lives," Draco replied quietly. "Oh, I know all the facts and what not, but for the past six years Slytherin has been my family, a dysfunctional one that can be rather stuck up, and not above kicking stray puppies if they happen to be muggles, but my family nonetheless. When the world’s against you, you tend to stick to your own kind no matter what. Because they’re yours and you fit in, ‘and they’re the only ones who stand by you when the rest of this bollocksy school has it in for you.

"I’m not justifying what they’re like but when it comes right down to the bottom line, it’s a life for a life, Granger. That’s nothing to be proud of. But it is, unfortunately, a fact of war, and that’s what this is; a dirty, evil little war that’s about to become an ugly, monstrous great war."

She sighed and raised saddened eyes to meet Draco’s. "A great, monstrous war that cold kill a lot of innocent people who won’t even going on," she pointed out, squeezing his fingers gently.

Finally escaping from the celebration in honor of Gryffindor’s victory over Slytherin, Harry wandered the school’s halls, unsettled and unhappy. He had done what was right, so why didn’t he feel better? That question kept pestering him as he trudged along, not knowing or caring where he was going.

"Ah, Harry, not in the mood to celebrate?" Albus Dumbledore asked from the shadows near the infirmary. "I would think that after such a death defying victory you’d be right in the thick of it?"

Looking up to meet the benign gaze, Harry was somewhat shocked to realize that his eyes were on a level with the headmaster’s, that he no longer had to look up at his mentor but had matured enough to meet him eye to eye. "No, I wasn’t really in the mood," he answered truthfully.

"Whyever not, my boy? Sherbet lemon?" Dumbledore asked, extending a fancy candy tin towards the young man. "What could possibly be so horrible that you cannot celebrate an amazingly spectacular victory after a most astounding match?"

"No thank you." Shaking his head at the offered candy, Harry tried to think of how to best explain himself. "It just didn’t feel like much of a victory to me; not when Dra - Malfoy ended up plowing into the ground."

"An unfortunate miscalculation on his part, true, but why should something that happens to a Slytherin effect the Gryffindor celebration? When I made you and Mr. Malfoy work together I did not make you his keeper, so you have nothing to feel guilty about. You’ve done your duty to Mr. Malfoy in regards to that other project; you’ve actually gone above and beyond it by trying to befriend him despite the fact that he’s not the most amenable of people. I’m proud of you thoughtfulness, my boy."

Harry gave a pained laugh as his stomach lurched; thinking about what he’d done the night before. "Professor... Have you ever done something that hurt someone - I mean really hurt them - for their own good?"

"Sometimes we do what we must for the greater good, Harry," Dumbledore said sadly, placing a hand on the Gryffindor’s shoulder. "I hurt you when I left you with your muggle family and each time I sent you back. I had no choice but I could see it in your eyes when you left on the Hogwarts Express every summer how much it hurt you. Yes, we do what we must and pray that we have done it for what is the right reason instead of our own needs and wants and perhaps even our own insecurities.

"The thing to remember is that you must weigh the good against the bad, what you perceive to be the right thing to do against why you are doing it and,if after all that you are still convinced your course of action is the best, you must follow it through. However if what you do causes more harm than good you must ask yourself why is it you feel compelled to do such a thing. Soul searching is never easy, and you sometimes see more ugly things about yourself than you ever thought possible. You must be prepared for what you might discover and you must learn to live with the consequences."

Nodding, a shudder going through his whole body, Harry tried to process Dumbledore’s words as they related to his situation. "And if you’ve hurt someone for a reason you thought was just, how do you make amends?"

"I’m afraid I can’t answer that. This is something you must determine for yourself. But I trust you, Harry, to do the right thing. I trust that above all else. You have proven yourself time and again to be a thoughtful, caring and loyal young man. Have faith in yourself to do what is right, just as I have faith in you," Dumbledore replied quietly.

"Now, I must be going, I’ve asked Professor Snape to come to tea and he does not strike me as a man who likes to be kept waiting for his host. Good night, Harry."

"Good night, sir," Harry echoed, watching Dumbledore stroll down the corridor, his high-heeled shoes clacking quietly on the stone floor.

"Do the right thing... How the hell do you do that when you don’t even know what it is?" Harry asked the silent air around him before trudging toward the infirmary, shoulders slumped in dejection.

Draco laughed quietly, stifling his mirth behind his hands. "Muggles are the silliest creatures! Why anyone would want to ride on a wooden horse that just goes around in circles and up and down and doesn’t neigh or gallop or do anything an enchanted wooden horse should do is beyond me. Now, honestly Hermione, do they really speak into smelly bones just to talk to one another?"

"Smelly..." she laughed quietly, used to this kind of misunderstanding from her time at the Weasleys. "Telephones, Draco, telephones. You really should have taken Muggle studies, you know, if only to have the chance for one more N E W T."

"Father would never have permitted it. I’m a pureblood after all," Draco said with a shrug of his shoulders. "

"Well, once this is over, if you care to know more about muggles, I could take you to visit my parents. One week with them and you’ll know enough to sit for a master’s exam."

Draco’s eyes widened in surprise. "You’d do that? For me? But I’m a Slytherin and you’re dating Weasley!"

"Do tell Ron that if you have a moment," Hermione sighed, before continuing. "So you’re a Slytherin - the prince of the Slytherins if the gossip runs true, but so what? I’d have to be blind and deaf not to notice you’re a person, Draco, and a decent one as well. You’re trying to protect Harry, don’t deny it."

"Well, the bloody stupid Gryffindor wanker, sorry but he is, is bound and determined to get himself killed. He keeps talking about dying and such and I know he’s going to try something... he was bloody suspicious when Snape made him test the tracking potion. He’s going to try and do it alone, Hermione, go after the Dark Lord I mean."

"He wouldn’t!" Seeing the expression of certainty and adding it up to what she knew of Harry, Hermione winced. "He would, because he doesn’t want anyone else hurt because of him."

"Saint Potter strikes again. I must be deranged. That’s the only explanation as to why a Slytherin with a very strong will to survive at all costs would fall in love with someone hell bent on getting himself killed." Draco’s jaw snapped shut and his eyes widened as he realized what he had just said. "Oh bollocks."

"That would seem to sum it up." Still holding Draco’s hand, Hermione leaned in and patted it with her free one. "Are you absolutely sure you didn’t misinterpret what he said?" she asked, hoping that both Harry and Malfoy, being males, completely mucked things up as usual. Draco sighed. "He basically told me I was lying to his face when I said that I cared about him, But as I said before it doesn’t matter now because the minute I said it, it was game over. I was good enough to shag but not for anything else, he made that abundantly clear to me, Granger."

"But it does matter! I’m sure if he knew how you felt..." Seeing the looked of defeat in Draco’s eyes, Hermione sighed in frustration. "Men!"

"I told him how I felt, Granger, and he bolted like a scared first year meeting Professor Snape alone in a corridor. After he told me that I didn’t have to sugar coat it in order to get into his pants," Draco growled. "Now can we drop it? Please?" He should have known that the Gryffindor wouldn’t give up the topic so easily, despite the lull in their initial conversation. She was a member of the brave and stupid house, after all.

Hermione was still tempted to argue the point, but she had a good inclination as to how Draco felt - telling someone you had feelings for them and having them walk away had to hurt, horribly.

"Consider it dropped, for a second and final time" she smiled, hoping he wouldn’t take offense at her words.

"Thanks. For everything, I mean that," Draco replied gruffly after a few moments. "But you’d really better get back to the Gryffindor victory bash, the Weasel will be missing you soon. And then there’s Pomfrey, she’ll have a... chicken? ... if she catches you here."

"A cow." That said, Hermione smiled and stood, then, on impulse, leaned in to kiss Draco’s forehead. "Get some rest, Malfoy, or I’ll come up with a vile tasting potion for you to drink."

She smiled, and stepped away from the blond and, turning to go, looked back over her shoulder at the bed-ridden Slytherin. "Oh, and to give you something to think on, Harry didn’t feel much like celebrating at the victory party either. Knowing him, he slipped out of the tower the first chance he got. It does make you wonder why."

"Stupid prat’s probably out trying to get himself killed in some horribly painful way," Draco muttered under his breath and then smirked at Hermione. "And you can brew all the potions you like, Granger but you can’t make me drink them. I’ve built up a resistance to Imperius thanks to my father and I’m better at a wizard’s duel than you, so there!" On impulse Draco finished the sentence by sticking out his tongue and blowing a raspberry at her.

"And I’ll tell Pomfrey you called her a cow," he said with a very Slytherin smirk.

"I’m terrified," Hermione chuckled. "You’re still healing so I wager I can have Ron sit on you while I pour it down your throat. Now get some rest!" That said, she waved and walked out of the infirmary, scooping Crookshanks up when the cat joined her at the doorway.

"Damned bossy bit of goods. And people wonder why I turned out gay surrounded by women like that?" Draco muttered without heat.

By the time Harry’s slow steps took him to the infirmary (via the owlery, the astronomy tower, and the kitchens), it was late. After checking to see if Madame Pomfrey was around, he walked silently down the rows of mostly empty beds, stopping to stand at the foot of Malfoy’s, thankful he was asleep.

"Scared me to death, you sodding fool," he muttered to himself, devouring the other teen’s sleep relaxed features hungrily. "Thought you weren’t going to pull up, that you meant to... If you had, then I never would have had the chance to say I was sorry." He sighed, closing his eyes for a moment. "Still might not get to, not the way things are now. Probably be for the best; staying far away from me will keep you alive."

Moonlight silvered Draco’s fair hair, and Harry had to clench his hands into fists to keep from reaching out to touch it. "Rest well," he finally said, stepping back away from the bed and striding quickly across the ward and into the hall beyond the door.

Draco’s eyes opened and in their corners moisture glittered like diamonds. "Stupid sodding Gryffindor," he whispered, dashing at his eyes with his fists. "Always have to do things the hard way. Well, if you think I’m going to let you go and die on me before we’ve sorted out whatever this is between us you have another thing coming. Gryffindor courage is no match for Slytherin cunning."

Chapter 8

Christmas break had arrived, and Hogwarts was quiet, as usual. Ron and Hermione both had invited him to come home with them, but Harry had sent them off with promises that he would be fine, that he needed the quiet to catch up on his homework and study for their upcoming N.E.W.T’s.

The courtyard was quiet, only three other students hurrying across it, wanting to get out of the snow. In direct contrast, Harry leaned against the wall in a sheltered spot, holding up his wrist for Hedwig to land on then feeding her a treat while she tugged at his gloves affectionately.

Draco watched from a shadowed courtyard corridor with darkened eyes. Feeling a presence behind him he turned to see his godfather standing there a sad look on his face. "I know, I know, you don’t have to tell me. Nothing will become of it. But he’s had such a hard life, if I can’t be the one to make him happy I just want him to be happy, is that so horrible of me?"

"No, Dragon, it is a very noble thing for you to want," Severus replied quietly, resting his hand on his godson’s shoulder.

"Oi, no need to get all insulting, it is Christmas after all!"

Snape chuckled and awkwardly patted Draco’s shoulder once more. "Come have breakfast with me Christmas day. I have your present waiting."

Snape had reminded Draco of something and as soon as his godfather disappeared the blond took off towards Dumbledore’s office. After a quick ‘peppermint stick’ he found himself in front of the crazy old coot confessing the reason why he was there.

Surprisingly enough Dumbledore agreed so Draco took out the small, carefully wrapped package and handed it to him. "You will make sure it’s there for him, first thing Christmas day, right?"

"Don’t worry my boy, I’ll take care of it personally."

"Thank you, Headmaster."

Christmas morning dawned cold and bright. Harry woke, yawning and scratching at his mussed hair, reaching for his glasses as he pushed the bed curtains aside. There beside the nightstand was a small pile of presents, and he smiled, though it was a bittersweet expression.

The yearly jumper from Arthur and Molly came first - Gryffindor crimson of course, this one with a small golden snitch knitted into the weave. Pulling it over his head on top of his pajamas, Harry moved on to the next presents, opening them slowly so as to make the moment last longer.

A subscription to World-wide Quidditch from Ron who must have borrowed the galleons from Fred or George, a quite decent rendering of Hedwig from Ginny, a box filled with contents of dubious origin from the twins and a book on gems and their meanings from Hermione. He frowned over the last, wondering if there was going to be a section on gems on one of their exams before shrugging it off to mull over later. He smiled to himself over the gifts, then looked quizzically at the last wrapped package, wondering who it was from; aside from his fourth and fifth years when Sirius had given him presents, there never had been any others.

Draco thanked Severus for his first edition copy of Moste Potente Potions as well as the new cauldron and broomstick maintenance kit. He wondered idly if Harry had opened the present it had taken Draco weeks to prepare.

Draco knew he was an idiot for doing it, but he was more certain than ever that Harry was going to try something so he’d decided to add what little help he could these days since the tracking potion had long since worn off and there was no way to get Potter to take anymore short of having the house elves put it in his morning pumpkin juice.

It had started with a conversation he’d had with Hermione a few weeks after his quidditch accident, a discussion on gems and the power they possess.

Draco and the Gryffindor girl had begun to meet in secret, unbeknownst to Harry and Ron or anyone else for that matter. Hermione had wanted to keep an eye on Draco and Draco... had wanted to keep tabs on Potter. In between checking up on one another they’d developed a sort of friendship and had found each other intellectually challenging. So they’d begun to talk, about anything and everything. Including the mystical powers of gemstones.

The conversation stuck with Draco for a long time and finally he began to scour everything he could find on the subject first for his own personal interest and then because a spark of an idea had caught him. A protective talisman for Potter. So he’d researched and had even roped Hermione into helping him.

Finally, when he was ready, he flooed to Diagon Alley and went shopping.

Draco had chosen the gems carefully, each one having attributes that would aid him in his quest to protect and help Potter in any small way he could. He chose roughly two-dozen precious and semi-precious stones and placed them in an unbreakable decorative vial.

Out of whimsy, just before he closed it, he placed two final stones on the very top, two small stones that held all his hopeless wishes and dreams. The first was chrysoprase to undo the damage he may have caused, to soothe Harry’s heartache and to help him find emotional balance, wisdom, and peace. The last was ruby, the symbol of love with the ability to open the heart.

After he’d placed the gems in the vial, sealing them tightly he’d gone to Flitwick and asked a million questions on protective charms. Swearing the little man to total secrecy, he confessed whom it was for and Flitwick, the ever wise head of Ravenclaw house, had lent his considerable might by casting the very charms they’d discussed over the vial and the gems housed within it.

‘Finally, Draco shrank the fairly large bottle to the size of a galleon and had and hung it on an unbreakable golden chain. He had poured everything he was into the present and offered whatever prayers would be heard to whoever watched over the wizarding world that none of those stones would be needed. And then he had asked Dumbledore to give it to Harry before he had lost his nerve.

Now he was hiding in Snape’s quarters, afraid to stick his head outside, afraid that it would be tossed back in his face. How very Slytherin he was beingsneaking away to live and survive another day!

Still studying the beautifully wrapped package before him, Harry reached for his wand and cast a quick identification spell on it. The resulting glow almost blinded him, and once he blinked away the spots from his eyes, he smiled. Whatever was in there, it wasn’t dangerous, in fact, it seemed to be a highly concentrated protective spell.

He probably should have taken it to Dumbledore to let the headmaster have a go at it, but Gryffindor curiosity won out over still developing control, and he placed the package on the bed in front of him, carefully undoing the spellotape that held the elegant white and gold paper in place.

The wrappings fell away, leaving Harry looking at a plain wooden box. He reached for it, sighing at the smooth grain of the wood; it was as if he’d run his hand over velvet, or Draco’s skin. Giving his head a violent shake to dispel that image, Harry opened the box, his eyes widening in wonder at the necklace and pendant it contained.

Who the hell had sent him this? It made no sense at all, he thought as he reached down and lifted the gift from its holder, raising the pendant to eye level to examine the detail work on the vial and the facetted stones it held. He wasn’t sure of what the gems were, but they held power, a power that tingled over his fingertips and down his arms, making the fine hairs there stand up.

Remembering the presents he’d opened earlier, Harry frowned, looking down at the book Hermione had sent. She’d known, but how the hell... Frustrated and intrigued by this mystery, Harry cupped the pendant in one hand and pulled the book into his lap, determined to go through the laborious process of identifying and understanding each stone and what it did.

Draco finally let Snape convince him to join the other students and teachers for the traditional Hogwarts Christmas dinner. Dumbledore had actually outdone himself this time. Instead of the usual house tables and head tables there was one great round table festively decorated with enough room for all those who had remained behind at Hogwarts.

The dinner itself filled the table to over flowing. There was Christmas goose, sausage stuffing, roast potatoes, peas, glazed carrots, mince pies, marzipan cakes, Christmas puddings already aflame with brandy, Christmas cake, candy and sweets galore, mulled cider and pumpkin juice.

On every plate was a Christmas cracker waiting to be pulled, each cracker bearing a specific name, like a place card. Draco found his and groaned. Uncle Sev on the left and... Potter on the right. Dumbledore was a cruel, cruel man.

"Watch where you walk tonight, Dragon," Snape whispered with a roll of his eyes and then looked straight up. The ceiling, still enchanted so that snow fell, was literally covered with mistletoe. Draco fought against the urge to bang his head on the table. If Dumbledore were in the room he’d insist they ‘follow tradition’ which meant Draco wasn’t getting up until after the headmaster left, or if he did he’d hide himself under the table. The man had to have been a Slytherin, no ifs, ands, or buts about it!

"Are you sure I can’t just have a quiet dinner in your rooms, Uncle?" Draco whined pathetically, already knowing it was a lost cause.

"Harry Potter?"

"Hmm? Oh, Dobby. Merry Christmas to you." Harry straightened up and smiled at the house elf, groaning and wondering how long he’d been at identifying what stones were in his gift as his back ached abominably.

"Merry Christmas to you, Harry Potter. Dobby is wondering if you is going to attend the dinner Dobby and the other house elves has made especially for Christmas." The large ears drooped as if in anticipated rejection.

"Dinner?" Harry glanced over at the clock which read ‘much too late for breakfast and lunch’, shocked that he’d missed both meals in his studying. Listening to his stomach rumble, he set the book and vial aside, standing and stretching. "Yes, yes, I will. I’m glad you stopped by, Dobby, otherwise I would’ve ended up starving to death up here."

"Harry Potter should not joke about such things!" Dobby’s thin frame shook with indignation. "There will be no starving! None at all!" Whirling and still muttering to himself, Dobby disappeared with a snap of his fingers and a pop of imploding air.

Amused and confused by the house elf’s reaction to his jest, Harry shrugged and set about getting ready for the banquet. Even though there were few students in residence during the holidays, Christmas called for an occasion and an occasion called for dressing up. That being the case, he quickly showered and shaved before pulling on a pair of good black slacks and a green turtleneck sweater. Black shoes and his dress robe finished the outfit once he’d whisked the wrinkles out of it with a quick charm.

Satisfied he’d pass Dumbledore’s inspection, Harry started for the door, only to pause, looking back at his nightstand and the pendant lying on the book. It was a gift someone had taken quite a bit of time and care in crafting, and it felt wrong to leave it here while he went out.

Walking over to the nightstand, Harry reached for the chain and slipped it over his head, settling the glass vial under his sweater, against his skin. At the first contact of the cool glass with his chest, a feeling of overwhelming well-being coursed through him, and he gasped, awestruck by the power in the tiny container.

Once he could breathe again, Harry made his way from the tower to the Great Hall, smiling at the decorations, his hand coming up to touch the small lump of the pendant every so often. The smile faded away, however, once he saw Draco and Snape sitting together, and, at the empty setting next to the blond, a cracker that was jumping up and down on the table, shooting out sparks to form his name.

Dumbledore was trying to kill him that was for certain.

Groaning to himself, Harry walked around the table, greeting the other students, before taking his seat. Sparing a glance and a nod at Malfoy, Harry pushed down the hurt inside, before he turned to engage Derrick Marks in conversation, not noticing that he was rubbing at his pendant as he did so.

Dumbledore is a sick, cruel, malicious bastard, Draco thought morosely. Why, he’s enough to make me reconsider my stance on opposing Voldiewarts. I may have to join the Death Eaters just to be safe from his machinations. Deciding that the sooner he ate the sooner the meal would be over, Draco reached for the bowl of mashed potatoes... only to have his hand collide with Potter’s.

Gasping, he snatched his hand back as if he’d been burned and looked at Potter with wide, haunted eyes. I can’t do this, I can’t. Classes are bad enough; being in the same room is already verging on a Crucio but to sit next to him. No. Enough!

Pushing his chair back with a violent scraping sound, Draco stood abruptly. "Forgive me, Headmaster, but I’m afraid I just can’t find it in myself to pretend at peace and good will to all men, even Gryffindors," he managed to get out as scathingly as he could, trying to maintain the façade. "I bid you all a good night." And muttering a charm that had the mistletoe withering and dying as he walked under it, Draco fled the great hall with as much dignity and grace as he could. "Good show, Mr. Potter. Would you care for me to conjure a puppy for you to kick next?" Harry whipped around from watching Draco leave to see Snape sneering at him.

Along with active dislike, Harry could see concern in Snape’s expression; a concern he knew wasn’t directed at him, but at Malfoy. But why, if Draco felt the way he’d made abundantly clear, would Snape blame...

Pushing up from his chair, his thoughts awhirl, Harry looked over at Dumbledore. "You’ll have to excuse me as well, sir. I need - there’s something I need to do."

As he passed the headmaster, Harry felt something pressed into his hand. "This might prove useful, Mr. Potter, but take care with it if you try to beard the dragon in his den."

Shoving the item into his pocket without even looking at it, Harry practically ran from the hall, trying to figure out where Draco would have gone to ground. Not Slytherin, with all the members gone for the holidays, it would be too empty, not the library, not the owlery or the broomshed... Snape’s rooms.

Harry let out a pained laugh, pivoting in the middle of the corridor and pelting back the way he had come. Beard the dragon in his den, indeed. He just had to hope Snape didn’t come back and fry him to a crisp before he’d managed to have his say.

Whispering a small prayer that Snape hadn’t re-keyed his wards, Harry pushed on the door, walking into the darkened rooms. Once his eyes adjusted to the gloom, he spotted Draco huddled in a large armchair, staring into the hearth.

"It was you, wasn’t it?" he asked, the pieces of the puzzle that was his mystery gift falling into place.

Draco’s entire body tensed when he heard that voice, that beautifully cruel voice. "What the bloody hell are you going on about, Potter? And what are you doing here, for that matter? I don’t seem to recall Uncle Sev giving you an open ended invitation to enter his quarters at will," he snarled, not looking up from the flames.

"Actually I’ve reconsidered and I don’t want to know what you’re talking about. I just want you to go. Scram, Gryffindork, go back to your noble tower before people think you’re slumming again."

"He didn’t re-ward against me, not quite an invitation, but it works," Harry said mildly, swearing to himself that he wasn’t going to rise to Draco’s baiting. "As for me leaving... No. Not until we’ve had this out.

He paced to stand in front of the fire, blocking Draco’s line of sight. "One of us was lying that night, you know." Harry’s voice dropped with his admission. "It wasn’t you, though, it was me."

"Don’t," came the quiet pain filled plea. "Oh Merlyn,please don’t. You’ve already done the worst you could possibly do to me. Grant me at least a modicum of pride here. I really don’t think I could take another round of your confessions." Draco brought his knees up to his chest and buried his face in the tiny space between. The loneliness of the past months making even that whispered midnight confession he’d overheard in the infirmary seem like nothing more than smoke and vapor.

He huddled in on himself, drawing in tighter and tighter, not wanting to lose the fragile grip on control he had today, of all days. The one day of the year when his father had actually been a father in every sense of the word, the one day he actually missed the lying bastard.

Staring down at the huddled ball of Slytherin in front of him, Harry knew the true meaning of misery in the knowledge that, by trying to protect Draco, he’d brought the other boy to this.

"I’ll go if you tell me the truth," he finally said, squatting down as to be at eye level with Draco. "You gave me this, didn’t you?" As he spoke, he drew the pendant from under his jumper. "Every stone in it is for protection or well-being or... love."

"How did you... bollocks, Granger. I’m gonna hex her into a toadstool when I see her," Draco moaned after peeking up over his legs to see what the blazes Harry was talking about. "Can’t trust a girl to keep a secret anymore. Useless bloody creatures, only good for breeding and even that repulses me."

"If I thought you meant a word of that about Hermione, I’d beat you bloody. Now, are you going to answer me or not?"

"No," Draco sulked, his lower lip coming out in a rather childish pout. "Why’d you want to know anyway? So you can return it?"

"No." Harry shifted so that he was sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of Draco. "So I can thank you - and, maybe, try to explain."

"What’s to explain, you made it perfectly clear that I wasn’t good enough to lick your boots. I got the message, believe me," Draco admitted tiredly, "besides, what’s the point in all this. We’re... I’m a Slytherin and you’re a Gryffindor, I’m the son of a Death Eater and you’re the fucking boy who lived. It wouldn’t have ever worked anyway. You were actually correct for once in your life, it is’ better this way."

Closing his eyes against the pained certainty he heard in Draco’s normally smooth tenor voice, Harry floundered for a way out of this. Words weren’t his strong suit, action was, but now he had to explain the actions he’d taken before any more damage was done.

"Probably," he admitted. "Better to hurt you now then to have you grieving over me before the year’s out. At least that’s what I thought."

"Will you stop fucking saying that?! I’m so sick and tired of all this prattle about you dying. You’re the great bloody boy who lived; you’ve defeated that moldering git how many times now? And you’re, well dammit, you’re HARRY BLOODY POTTER. You’re not going to fucking die!" Draco snarled.

Harry sprang to his feet, going nose to nose with Draco. "If I want Voldemort to die, I HAVE TO!"

"Wh...what?" Draco’s already pale complexion went ghost white. "Says who?"

Losing his aggressive stance, Harry swiped his hand through his hair and sighed. "A prophecy. One I believe."

"From who? That twittering old bird Trelawney? She hasn’t gotten a prediction right since she got here. Hell, probably since she was born already. You can’t actually believe anything she says in her Divinations class, Potter? That’s just ridiculous," Draco growled, beginning to pace. "I don’t believe it. I refuse to believe it!"

Harry sighed again. "You’ve just missed the real predictions. Remember fifth year when there was all the mess going on with the Ministry? That was because Voldemort wanted a copy of the prophecy she made before I was born. She made one in third year too, to me, during exams. They’ve both been spot on, so I have to take the one she channeled this past fall seriously. She doesn’t remember any of them, but I do."

"You have to... she doesn’t..." the blond boy sputtered. "Do you realize how ridiculous you sound? Of all the stupid things I’ve ever heard of, this one tops it. You have to die so Voldemort dies. Just kill the wanker already and be done with it, no need to get all melodramatic about it!"

"You don’t get it, do you? We’re connected, he and I. As long as I’m alive, so is a part of him."

"No. Just, no! I don’t bloody believe it, I won’t believe it!" Draco could hear the beginnings of enraged panic in his voice". If the idiot Gryffindork really believed in Trelawney’s prediction it could very well come true by Potter’s will alone. And knowing Harry he would too. He’d be all noble and forthright and... "You are not gonna bloody off yourself, alright?"

Harry gave a wry smile and dropped into the chair by the fire. "I wasn’t planning on it; that would make things a little too easy for him. Its not one of us dying that matters, its both of us dying, probably together, I haven’t quite figured out the where and how yet, but I’ve got clues to the when."

"Harry, please, listen to me" Draco asked quietly, slipping up and calling Potter by his first name as he dropped on the floor in front of the other boy. "It’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you believe it, it’ll happen. If you don’t believe it, it won’t. Don’t do this, people need you!"

"Draco..." Harry smiled sadly at the other teen. "Do you think I really want to die? The only thing worse then that would be getting people I care about hurt. I don’t want to die, but if it’s a choice between that and the chance that Voldemort comes back again," He sighed. "I hurt you trying not to hurt you, doesn’t it figure?"

"What are you babbling on about now?" Draco was so confused, the twists and turns this conversation was taking was worse than riding a hexed broom. Rubbing his temples as he felt the onset of a migraine begin behind his eyes, Draco shook his head. "I don’t know which way is up with you, Potter, I really don’t. Just, why are you bloody here, already?"

Frowning as he watched Draco rub at his forehead, Harry reached out and turned the other teen around, shifting Malfoy so he was seated between his knees. "Stop fighting, it’ll make it worse," he murmured when Draco struggled to turn around again.

Lifting his hands, Harry began to rub at Draco’s temples, much the same way Draco had helped him earlier in the term. "I’m here to say thank you. And I’m sorry. And I meant what I said about not wanting people I cared about getting hurt. He’s killed my parents and Sirius already; I couldn’t stand to lose Ron, or Hermione, or... or you. I thought it would be better, safer for you if you hated me."

"Not bloody likely," Draco snorted, letting his eyes close and his head fall back on the seat cushion between Potter’s legs. "Can’t hate you, not even after breaking my heart. Guess that’s that nauseatingly romantic streak in me, I’m going to love you forever, no matter what.

"There, I’ve said it out loud. I love you. I’m in love with you. Better just accept the fact and move on. And you can’t go blaming yourself for their deaths. You were a baby and your parents were grown ups, they made their own choices, Black made his own choices. I really hate to be the one to point it out but... not everything is about you, Potter. Sometimes shite just happens."

Continuing to rub at Draco’s temples, Harry shook his head. "Shite, as you say, seems to happen to people around me, more often then not. Look at Cedric."

"Wrong place at the wrong time. Besides, you were set up, your name was put in the Goblet and Pettigrew was there... it was a set up, not your fault at all. Next you’ll be blaming yourself for people getting petrified in our second year and that was definitely my father’s fault."

"No," Harry corrected gently. "It was Voldemort’s fault when you get down to it. It’s just - I didn’t want anything to happen to you and I still don’t. That would kill me faster than Voldemort."

"If it’s meant to happen it will happen," Draco replied philosophically. "And it will have nothing to do with you and everything to do with the role I chose to play in this war. I went into this knowing the possible consequences, and I have no illusions that if I’m caught I’ll be brought before Voldemort somehow, some way. You couldn’t stop it if you tried. So don’t, okay?"

"Now look who’s talking about self-fulfilling prophecies." Harry slid his hands back slightly, feeling the silky glide of Draco’s hair under his palms and clenching his jaw to keep from reaching down to tilt the Slytherin’s head back and kiss him.

"It’s not a self-fulfilling prophecy when dealing with Slytherins, Potter. We have... you know what the sorting hat says, ‘maybe in Slytherin you’ll find your true friends?’ Slytherin has been an isolated house for years. We’ve always known we could depend on nobody but ourselves. Even those who don’t support Voldemort don’t break ranks. You never betray your fellow Slytherins, it’s just not done. I have and I will be found out. Whether it’s before the war is over or after it doesn’t matter, and when it happens there will be repercussions. I’ve accepted that. My penance for the past six years, if you will," Draco said with a shrug of his shoulders.

"Draco..." At this, Harry did tilt the other boy’s head back. "Shut up." Leaning in, he pressed his lips against the blond’s, not sure of what his reception would be, but needing this final taste of sweetness if that was what it was going to be.

Moaning, Draco’s mouth slid open and he sucked Harry’s tongue inside. His hands came up and back, locking behind Potter’s head to hold him in place as he used Quidditch hardened leg muscles to force himself upwards. Never breaking the kiss he turned and straddled Harry’s lap, pinning him to the great chair as he allowed himself to devour the mouth that had taunted and haunted him for what felt like an eternity.

Dragging in a breath when their mouths finally parted Harry pulled his head back and stared up into Draco’s eyes, one hand gripping hard at the Slytherin’s hip and the other at his hair. "Not Zabini’s," he rasped, "mine." Seeing understanding form in Draco’s molten eyes, Harry dove in, raising a passion mark on the fair skin of his neck to rival the one he had been given months before.

Letting his head tilt backwards, Draco’s eyes slid shut and he reveled in the sensations crawling through him. Who would have thought that sweet little Harry Potter could be so bloody dominant? Draco was well and truly impressed. And aroused. And incredibly turned on. "Harry," he moaned at last, "please! You’re killing me here."

"No talk of dying," Harry growled, licking Draco’s throat and raising his head to meet the other boy’s eyes once again. "Not from either of us." He pulled Draco closer, grinding up into his aroused body, feeling the both of them shaking.

"Then whatever will we talk about?" Draco breathed, his eyes finally opening to stare down at Harry. "And do we really want to talk about it here, where my godfather can walk in at any moment and see us snogging on his favorite chair?"

Harry shuddered. "Ugh. Talk about ruining the mood... As for talking, we can discuss whatever we fancy."

"Well," Draco began hesitantly. "There’s no one in Slytherin as they’ve all gone home for Christmas holidays. Or we could just go into my bedroom here and ward the door and put a silencing charm around the room," he offered.

"I’m the one who fucked up here; you tell me what makes you more comfortable."

"I’d say we both contributed to the fact. I didn’t have to go and pretend to fuck Zabini the way I did. I haven’t, you know, fucked him. He just thinks I have. Guess I’m still more dark wizard than not, the way I’ve been playing with his mind," Draco confessed.

Standing reluctantly he held out his hand for Harry. "Here’s probably the safest for both of us. No student would dare try and set a spy spell in Professor Snape’s quarters. I’ll just leave him a note that you’re, um, sleeping over?"

Grasping Draco’s hand, Harry stood as well, shifting his hips to adjust his trousers. "Can’t say its much dark magic considering Zabini doesn’t have much of a mind," he murmured, sliding his free hand around Draco’s waist. "Tell him what you want, Draco. He’s already ready to ki - curse me, hopefully he won’t do it if we’re in the same bed together." He placed a kiss on Malfoy’s temple as he spoke, then frowned. "How’s your head?"

"He’s just worried about me. Don’t take it personally. After all I bet Ron still wants to have my guts for garters despite winning our last match. And my head is still as hard as a rock. It’ll take more than a minor quidditch accident to do me in, honestly, oh, you mean the headache, pretty much gone thanks."

"You," Draco began. "I heard you, you know. The night of the game. I heard you come into the hospital wing. Of course I wanted to string you up by your ears just like those pixies did to Longbottom in second year. You can be such an arse, Potter, I sometimes wonder how I could ever feel about you the way I do."

"You heard?" Harry winced slightly, remembering what he’d said. "I meant it, and I can be an arse, but you can be one too, you know."

As he spoke, he nudged Draco forward until they were walking toward the spare bedroom. "Think we can survive being arses together?"

Draco arched a silvery blond eyebrow. "I’ll have you know I am not an arse, Potter, I am an honest to Merlyn, bona fide, perfect pain in the arse and proud of it!" he teased the other boy. "But I’ve lived with you being an arse for the past six years. I can handle it a bit longer I think."

Harry smiled, careful to hide the expression against Draco’s neck. "Then perhaps you could live with..." He took a deep breath, pushing back his doubts and lingering fears about what would happen to Draco if they became lovers. "With being in my arse as well?"

Draco sucked his breath in quickly. Talk about a whopper of a question. "In the bedroom, if you please, now?" he husked, ushering Harry inside and then locking the door; he warded it and placed one of the strongest silencing spells he knew around the room.

"Now, to answer your question," Draco said serenely before turning and tackling Harry to the bed. "You’ve got three bloody seconds to get your clothes off so I can get to know your arse much better. Does that answer your question?" he grinned.

Feeling as if the weight of a thousand suns had been lifted from his shoulders, Harry laughed aloud while poking Draco in the shoulder. "Unless you want me to use a Leviosa on you, I’d say you’d better get off of me or there’s no way I’ll make your deadline."

"Gryffindors, absolutely no ingenuity and ruddy slow to boot," Draco tutted even as he unclasped his robe and slid out of his black crew neck shirt. Pale ivory skin gleamed in the candlelight and the faint light from the potbelly stove in the corner providing heat to the room. Even as Harry drew in a breath, Draco’s nimble fingers were already unbuttoning his trousers.

Giving in, at last, to necessity, Draco stood and quickly slithered out of the pants and toed off his socks. "Three seconds are up. You owe me a forfeit I think," he smirked.

"Name it," Harry murmured, frozen in awe, staring at Draco’s nude body lit only by the warm glow of the candles. "It’s yours."

"Oh, the power you’ve just handed me, Potter," Draco purred, his fingers trailing down his chest to pinch and pull on his nipples before one hand continued sliding down further, across taut and very visible quidditch hardened stomach muscles, through the white blond nest of curls to wrap around his semi-hard prick so that he could stroke himself to full arousal.

"So many possibilities, so many options. I think I’ll have to mull on it a while, after all I wouldn’t want it to go to waste, now would I?"

"I suppose that gives me time to strip down then." Harry rolled to his feet, eyes still locked on Draco as he shrugged out of his robe. Pausing only to slip the pendant back under his jumper, he tugged the knitted garment over his head, letting it fall to the floor.

Pants were next, and somewhere along the way he got his shoes off before he tripped himself up. Finally as nude as Draco, Harry arched his eyebrows, his breath coming in harsh pants as he watched the other teen play with himself. "Decided yet?"

"It took you much longer than the allotted time with the way you stalled," Draco reconsidered, "I think that’s at least two, possibly three forfeits you owe me. And yes, I have ideas. But those are for another night. In Gryffindor Tower," Draco purred, thinking of what he planned on doing to Harry right on the couch in the Gryffindor common room and then in Harry’s own bed.

Continuing to pull at a nipple and stroke his cock, Draco watched Harry’s reactions with an amused smirk. "See something you like, Potter?" he drawled.

"Three? I don’t think so!" Harry exclaimed before getting distracted by the rise and fall of Draco’s hand on his own body. "You could say so," he rasped, moving closer and covering Draco’s hand with one of his own while playing with the unattended nipple with his other fingers.

"Three forfeits, Harry," Draco purred, leaning in closer to lick at the other seeker’s neck before moving unerringly to the place where his mark had rested for three long weeks. "It nearly broke my heart to watch it fade away little by little each day. I should have cast a never heal hex on it so you’d be forever marked by my mouth," the Slytherin whispered as he nipped at the once again unblemished skin.

"Three, Harry. Two for Gryffindor tower and one for right here," he continued hypnotically before latching onto the too soft skin of Potter’s throat and suckling hard, drawing blood to the surface as quickly as he could.

"Cast it later tonight," Harry whimpered, rocking his hips forward to brush against their hands and Draco’s cock. "And th-three forfeits, fine whatever, just - god - so good."

"But I haven’t even really touched you yet, Harry," Draco whispered against the moist flesh he’d just finished marking before drawing his lips up to rest next to the Gryffindor’s ear. "How can I be doing a good job when all I’ve done is suck on your neck? I haven’t stroked your cock, or licked it, or bitten your nipples, or," Draco grinned. "Oh there’s so much I haven’t done to you yet. Get on the bed, Harry. On your back."

Lust hazed Harry’s mind, making it so one minute he was on his feet and the next, on the bed, watching hungrily as Draco prowled toward him.

"Mmm, you do that so well, follow orders I mean," Draco smirked. "What if I were to order you to say... stroke your cock, for me, Harry. I want to watch you wank."

Harry’s laughter was pained. All this build up, and all Draco wanted to do was watch him have a wank? Oh, the cruel irony of it all.

Groaning, Harry dragged a pillow under his head so that he could watch the Slytherin without straining his neck. "I’d say this is your forfeit." His voice was surprisingly steady, but he sucked in a quick breath as he moved his hand to his erection, circling it and pulling at it.

"This paltry little thing? I don’t think so. Now if I were to ask you to stroke yourself for me and fuck yourself on the toy of my choice, now that would be a forfeit," Draco teased, bending over the bed to lap the tiny drop of precum that appeared at the top of Harry’s cock before it could be wiped away.

Climbing onto the bed next to him, Draco laid his head on Harry’s stomach, so close that the Gryffindor could feel Draco’s hot breath on his cock every time he exhaled. "Show me how you wank."

Harry could feel the heat rising in his face at Draco’s deliberately crude description, a heat that flowed through the rest of his body and threatened to erupt when he felt the teasing lick over the tip of his shaft.

"Jesus," he whispered, knowing Draco could feel his stomach muscles quiver against his cheek. Closing his eyes, Harry tried to relax and let his body fall into the rhythm it did when he did this alone. After a few slow strokes of his hand over his cock, he paused, rubbing his thumb over the now slick head. Moving faster now, enough to add the edge of need to the whole thing, but not enough to bring himself off.

Grinning wickedly, Draco suddenly darted forward and licked along the top of Harry’s shaft like he would have licked an ice-lolly. "Mmmm, delicious," he laughed, reaching the head of Harry’s shaft and sucking on it for long moments before moving back to his original position.

Hooking one arm under Harry’s leg, Draco began to roll and fondle the other boy’s balls, his fingers slipping down further every once in a while, across his perineum and down to his anus, tracing over it lightly before moving back up again. Each time Draco’s fingers touched the tiny pucker, Harry bucked and moaned. Draco couldn’t wait to flip the Gryffindor over and teach him the pleasures of rimming.

Whining in a way that would have had him dying of embarrassment if he had been aware of it, Harry arched upward, his hand moving faster over his cock and his hips twisting as he spread his thighs wider, silently begging Draco for more.

Feeling quite pleased with himself, Draco pulled back a little further and then very calmly said. "Harry, I want you to stop. Right now."

"Stop?" Draco had to be kidding - or perhaps this was some final revenge for his own cruelty... Pushing that thought from his mind, Harry forced himself to stop moving and lie still except for the heaving breaths causing his chest to rise and fall.

"So good," Draco purred, licking at the indent of Harry’s navel before sitting up. "Roll over onto your stomach, Harry, and put a couple of pillows under your hips. Oh and in case you’re wondering, I made you stop because you’re not going to come until I’m buried deep inside of your gorgeously tight arse, fucking you like there’s no tomorrow."

Just those words almost did Harry in, and he shuddered, his cock flushed and hard against his belly. Still amazed that he was following Draco’s commands without even a word of argument, he carefully flipped over, shoving the pillow under his hips and groaning as it rubbed his erection.

Pushing up on his elbows, he looked back at Draco, lust darkening his green eyes. "Like that?"

Draco could only nod his head as his eyes darkened to stormy pewter, his whole body quivering with lust. "You are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Merlyn and Morganna, I want to devour you," Draco murmured as he moved between Harry’s legs. "I am going to devour you," he promised darkly just before he murmured a cleansing charm almost silently, then bent down and licked a path down to Harry’s anus, flicking his tongue back and forth across the tiny opening.

Harry’s whole body spasmed, and he bit down on his lip until it bled to keep from screaming. Draco was, and it felt... Now rocking back and forth, his whole body vibrating in pleasure, Harry begged, not recognizing the voice as his own.

Smirking at the reaction of the youth beneath him, Draco began to slowly lap at the tender flesh, making sure Harry could feel everything before he started making a dart of his tongue and stabbing it inwards, breaching Harry’s hole a little more each time. Tongue fucking the Gryffindor, Draco took a few breathless moments to accio some lubrication before plying his tongue more fiercely.

"God, fuck, Draco please!" Harry begged, his back curving into a deep arch as he all but offered himself to the blond, knowing that there was only one thing that could feel better then this and craving it.

"Soon, Harry, I promise," Draco whispered against the tiny ring of flesh before pulling back. "I won’t let you be hurt which means I need to do this," the Slytherin groaned as he took one well-lubricated finger and slid it slowly inside his lover’s body, stretching Harry little by little.

Working the finger back and forth he was soon able to add a second, which he began to move back and forth, gently tugging at and stretching Harry’s anus as quickly as he could without causing too much pain.

Yes, it hurt, but it was insignificant compared to the aching need building in Harry and he growled with frustration, pushing back against Draco’s fingers fiercely. "Just do it, Draco, before I go off the deep end!" Those marvelously clever fingers hit his prostate, and Harry shuddered.

"Harry," Draco breathed, kissing a tender kiss to the center of his lover’s back before he withdrew his fingers and slid up so that he was in position. "I... you... you know I lov... have feelings for you, right?" Draco asked. Saying it even once had been painful enough, he wasn’t ready to try it a second time, not just yet.

Steadying himself, Draco slowly pushed into the tight, barely stretched channel, stopping when Harry gasped and continuing on when Potter moaned until he was at last buried deep within him. "You’re mine, now, Harry Potter, all mine."

Panting as he became used to the pain that slowly transformed into a fullness that made him ache in another way, Harry nodded, reaching back to catch Malfoy’s hand and grip it tightly. "Means you’re mine too," he rasped, twisting his head to look back at Draco, his dark hair falling to the side to expose his scar. "No one else’s."

"Too bloody right," Draco agreed quickly, pressing hot kisses to Harry’s back. "Wouldn’t want to belong to anyone else anyway. It’s always been you, Harry, even when it was hate, it was always you." Curling his fingers around Harry’s Draco slowly pulled out and then sank back in; feeling the tight body beneath his stretch to accommodate him, fit him perfectly. "I could, I never knew it could be like this Harry."

Nodding wordlessly, Harry gripped Draco’s fingers like a lifeline, feeling as if they were the only things that could keep him from blowing apart into a million bits because of how good, how right this all felt. His cock was trapped between his stomach and the pillow, and was recovering quickly from the first pain of being entered, and he moaned, clenching his arse around Draco’s shaft.

"Love you," he whispered, almost sick with fear, but, much as Draco had felt before, he couldn’t go without saying the words, at least once.

"Oh Merlyn," Draco’s hips slowed and then stilled, his fingers clenched harder at Harry’s, holding on for all he was worth. "Say that again. Please, I need you to say that again," he whispered roughly.

"What?" Harry’s voice was distracted, almost frantic at the loss of sensation, then he calmed, took a deep breath and looked back over his shoulder again.. "I love you, Draco Malfoy," he stated clearly before raising the other teen’s fingers to his lips to kiss them.

"Thank you," he whispered to whatever deities looked after formerly reprehensible people even as his hips began to move once more. It was just what he needed to hear to spur him on. Over and over he thrust, his tempo increasing until he was slapping against Harry’s arse loudly enough to be heard. One hand unthreaded itself from Harry’s and, guiding both Harry and himself up onto their knees, reached underneath the Gryffindor to seek out and grasp his cock, stroking it in time with Draco’s thrusts.

Feeling Draco’s fingers wrap around his erection drove all regrets that the blond hadn’t answered in kind from Harry’s mind, and he lowered his head to his forearms, rocking back against Draco’s increasingly energetic thrusts and trying not to scream.

What emerged from his throat as his orgasm boiled over him was a rough wail that seemed to echo in his ears as he came over Malfoy’s hand and the bed beneath them.

"Yes, Harry, Merlyn yes!" Draco moaned, feeling the other teen clench around him and the hot splash of semen on his hand. It was enough to drive Malfoy over the edge as well and with a few more desperate thrusts he was sending spurt after spurt of his seed into Harry’s body even as he sagged over the Gryffindor, exhausted but happier than he had ever been in his life.

Chapter 9

Harry lay there, eyes closed, listening to the arrhythmic sounds of his heart and Draco’s beating in their chests and their panting gasps for air. As both slowed, he reached back with his free hand to stroke Malfoy’s side, wincing lightly as the move pulled at muscles he hadn’t realized he’d had.

"Oh bugger, I’ve got to be crushing you!" Draco mumbled, rolling off of Harry and onto his side. "I’m sorry, I didn’t hurt you did I?" he asked quietly, searching the other teen’s face for any sign of distress. "Never meant to lose it like that but you were very inspiring, I’ll have you know." Opening his arms in silent invitation, Draco hoped Harry would take him up on it and let Draco hold him tight.

Moving into Draco’s embrace, Harry shifted until his body ached a bit less, then relaxed. "If you think I’m going to complain about that, you’re cracked, Malfoy," he murmured, raising his head from Draco’s shoulder to kiss his jaw. "And for the record, you weren’t crushing me. You’ve still got that skinny seeker’s build. Another year and I’ll probably have to switch off - if I’m playing."

"Potter," Draco growled menacingly even as his arms closed gently around the smaller man. "For the sake of my dubious mental stability and to avoid fights after sex let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that you will be around next year. Despite my reputation, I have never hexed a partner out of bed after a shag session but you’re coming perilously close to being my first!"

Harry shook his head, understanding how Draco could have taken what he said that way. "No need to do that. I meant, after we’re out of school, who knows if there’ll be time for quidditch, that’s all."

Heaving a sigh of relief that they had avoided a rather sticky area of conversation, Draco absently muttered ‘accio wand’ and cast a cleaning charm on them both before pulling the covers up over their sweat covered but cooling bodies. Placing a tender kiss between Harry’s shoulder blades, Draco let the drowsy lethargy of being sated wash over him. "What do you want to do after you graduate, Harry? I gather you don’t want to play professional Quidditch though I’m sure you’d be smashing at it. An auror perhaps? Or a teacher?"

Sliding his hand up over Draco’s where it lay against his chest, Harry closed his fingers around the blond’s. "I always thought I wanted to be an auror like Sirius, you know, fight evil, save people. Now though... I’m honestly not sure. What about you?"

"You mean apart from being my father’s whipping boy, a dark wizard and a good little Voldie supporter?" Draco replied somewhat bitterly. "Honestly, I expected to be dead so I never really gave it a whole lot of thought. Now, I guess potions master or maybe Minister of Magic or an Unspeakable perhaps. That is if the ministry will stop looking at me as a junior Death Eater and son of a deceased dark wizard. That would seem to suit me well," he mused. "I guess I’ll have to think about it. I mean it’s not like I have to do anything after Hogwarts. I just kind of want to."

"Mmm," Harry nodded in agreement as he rubbed his thumb over the back of Draco’s hand to soothe him. "Of course we could both just run away to Bermuda you know, be beach bums and live a life of sin and moral turpitude."

"Bermuda? And have all those silly muggle gits come nosing around simply because there’s one of the world’s only natural port keys to... I forget where it goes, but anyway just because there’s a natural port key there that they keep stumbling on so that we have to keep obliviating them to forget they’ve stumbled upon it? Thank you, no.

"No, if we’re going to run away, Potter, we must do it with style. The south of France would be too close... Monaco? The French Antilles perhaps or maybe our own little island somewhere off of South America, Yes, I think that works best. That way we can have house elves to take care of us. I could live with that," Draco grinned down at the dark head resting on his shoulder. "I think I could live very nicely with that."

Harry chuckled quietly at the thought. "Far be it from me to impinge on Malfoy style," he laughed, "though I think you’d look rather fetching in a bright flowery shirt and shorts even if you knees are a tad knobby."

"Excuse me?" Draco replied indignantly. "I think you have me mistaken for someone else, Potter. My knees are perfect like everything else about me. You obviously need to look in to getting a stronger prescription for your glasses, git," the blond Slytherin finished with an imperious sniff. Imagine, Potter suggesting that anything about him wasn’t perfect, how very common!

And then the comment on wardrobe sank in. Malfoy began to sputter. "Flowery... and bermuda...? Bloody hell, Potter, I’m calling St. Mungo’s first thing in the morning to have you locked up. Of all the insane things I’ve heard in my life to suggest that I would be caught dead in anything so tacky just takes the pudding!"

At the mention of pudding, Harry’s stomach, which hadn’t seen food all day, rumbled loudly enough to be heard over his laughter. "Well, now I know what to call you on when it’s my chance to have you owing me a forfeit. I think you’d look quite the picture in violet and chartreuse, oh and lets not forget the black sandals with knee socks." He dissolved into laughter at the thought of Draco dressed in an outfit Harry had had the misfortune of seeing Uncle Vernon in once when he was allowed to go on holiday.

"And before you wallop me, is there any chance of getting a bite to eat? Since we both missed the evening meal, I’d say we need it."

"A Malfoy would never wear that!" Draco replied, horrified. "Death before making a bad fashion statement and all that!" he proclaimed dramatically even as he placed one last kiss on Harry’s neck before rolling out of bed.

"Right then, seeing as how Dobby loves you and hates me how about you fire talk down the kitchen and order enough food for the both of us and I’ll disappear into the washroom to run us a bath to soak in while we wait. And make sure he brings trifle. And whipped cream... and roast goose and stuffing and cranberries and definitely roasted parsnips, I love roasted parsnips... and rolls, oh and our Christmas crackers from Dumbletwit and...I guess I’d best let you choose a few things too."

"I’m not sure there will be anything left to choose once he puts together that list," Harry laughed, sitting up and swinging his legs over the side of the bed, wincing at the pull of muscles previously unused to the way they had been stretched.

Wondering just how he was going to explain away being in Snape’s rooms, Harry stood, self-consciously pulling on his trousers even though he knew Dobby wouldn’t be able to see him through the fire. Feeling something in his pocket, he frowned and pulled it out, staring down at the bit of greenery in his hand blankly before recalling Dumbledore had given it to him and the words that had accompanied it.

"Draco..." he called, sputtering in laughter and collapsing to the floor, managing to hold the bit of mistletoe up for the other boy to see when he stuck his head out of the washroom.

Draco growled menacingly and with a bit of wandless magic set the horrid green plant on fire before slamming the door behind him while muttering about offensive greenery! Of course once the door had closed a huge smile lit his face. Now if only he could get the pig-headed Gryffindor to stop planning his own death.

There was no way around it this time; Draco was going to need help, which meant a quick letter to Hermione when Harry wasn’t looking with a p.s. for the Gryffindor girl to involve her boyfriend and hopefully keep Draco’s name out of it. Which led Draco to another question. Was Harry going to tell Hermione and the Weasel about them?

After speaking to Dobby and calming the house elf when he realized just where his friend was, Harry recited the list Draco had given him, adding a few of his favorites he’d seen on the tables earlier - if they were still available. Once Dobby had assured him they were and that the food would be there as quickly as he could manage, Harry thanked him and cut off the conversation, standing and stretching again.

"You’ll get your parsnips and your cracker," he called, knowing he was grinning like a loon, but not caring. It was Christmas and he was in love - could anything be better then that?

"Good, now come in here and scrub my back would you?" Draco called out from bathroom where he was ensconced; neck deep, in hot bubble laden water.

"Since when is servant written on my forehead?" Harry laughed, shedding his trousers as he walked into the bathroom and carefully climbing into the clawfoot tub behind Draco, hissing as the move pulled at sore muscles and the hot water hit tender flesh.

Taking one of Harry’s hands in his own, Draco began to suck on the Gryffindor’s fingers, giving each one lavish attention. "Actually, it says ‘Draco Malfoy’s love slave’ on your forehead and ‘Property of DM’ on your arse, if you want to know the truth," the blond chuckled, moving back a little more so that Harry’s cock was pressed between the cheeks of his own arse.

"And it’s my civic duty to keep you out of mischief over Christmas holidays so I’m thinking of ways to distract you that will be beneficial to me."

Harry snorted out a laugh although he was distracted by the feel of Draco’s tongue sliding over his fingers. "Perhaps I should take up a hobby. I’m sure the headmaster will consult with me on growing new strains of mistletoe."

"Potter, the only thing talking about that obnoxious weed will get you is a singed scrotum, do I make myself clear?" Draco retorted as he glared at the other teen over his shoulder, his eyes promising dire things. "You and Dumbletwit, much too scary to contemplate. Really!"

"Burn my balls and that’s the last you’ll get near them," Harry retorted, scooping up a handful of bubbles and dabbing them on Draco’s nose.

"HA!" Draco snorted, batting Harry’s hand away and wiping off the suds. "You like it to much when I suck on them and roll them in my hands and play with them while I deep throat your cock and the way they feel when mine slaps into yours while I’m reaming you out. Now admit it, Potter, you’re addicted to me. Not that I can blame you, I am perfect after all."

Harry cleared his throat. "I repeat; you burn them, you stay away from them."

"My, you really are vanilla, Potter," Draco teased, squirming slightly in the sudsy water. Picking up a cloth he handed it to the Gryffindor and then lay back against Harry’s chest, his head pillowed in the crook between neck and shoulder. "Here, make yourself useful."

"Sod off, Malfoy," Harry sighed, shaking his head and nipping at Draco’s ear as he began to wash the other boy’s chest. "You’re full of yourself enough as it is, I’m not giving you cause to become more conceited."

"It’s confidence, Potter, not conceit. You really need to learn the difference," Draco laughed, his fingers tracing idle patterns over the legs that bracketed him. "Pott, Harry, what are you going to tell Hermione and the Weasel? About us I mean? Are you going to tell them at all?"

"I..." In all truth, Harry hadn’t thought about it, but he did now. If he kept quiet about this relationship, it would be one more stone in the wall they were trying so hard to breech. If he confided in Ron and Hermione, they could comfort Draco if the worst happened and the prophecy was true.

"Yes, I’m going to tell them," he murmured. "I owe it to them, and us."

"So if I find myself on the business end of Weasley’s wand once school commences I’ll know he’s defending your honor from the git with the ‘tricky hands’ then," Draco smirked. "Not that he’d stand a chance. The only person who’s ever beaten me in a Wizard’s Duel is currently doing lovely things to my libido as he services me ever so nicely," Malfoy teased before turning his head to press a tender kiss against Harry’s jaw.

"You want to stay on my good side and keep me interested in your libido, you’ll lay off on the Weasel comments too," Harry answered, sinking lower into the water and pressing himself fully against Draco’s back. "And keep your libido under control, our meal will be here before too long and I intend to eat when it arrives."

"I could offer to let you use me as a plate," Draco purred, turning over so that he was lying on top of Harry. Bringing his arms up around his lover’s neck he sighed. "And I suppose I could attempt to be nice. I’m not sure I know how to but I can try. It’s just more habit than anything else, really. My mother was less than impressed that Molly married someone who hated her husband as much as Arthur hated my father. Of course my father hated him just as much so, the poison dripped down, you know?"

Harry nodded and ran the cloth up and over Draco’s shoulder. "Hard to break habits that are bred into you I suppose, and don’t be nice, he’d think you were going to change him into a bone and give him to Fang or some such rot. Just, shite, I don’t know. I do know he gives as good as he gets so Hermione or I’ll have to sit on him until things settle down some."

He then recalled what Draco had offered. "No jam, so I’ll stick to a real plate this time."

"Oh, I don’t know, there’s custard and whipped cream and raspberries in trifle," Draco smirked. "Right then, I’ll just use you as my plate. I rather fancy the idea of licking custard and cream from your body and watching you moan and try to stay still as I do it."

"And you’re so sure I asked for any of that? You said you wanted parsnips, that’s all you’re getting."

"Potter," Draco growled menacingly. "For the first time in a month I have more than a bird’s appetite. There had better be real food out there or I might just have to gnaw on you, got it?"

"Kinky, Malfoy, I’m impressed." Draco started to growl, and Harry kissed him. "Considering Dobby’s worried about me starving, I daresay we’ll see at least as much food as was on the table earlier."

"Poor, wretched creature. He’s having little luck getting rid of the Malfoys. First my father and then me here at school and now... us. He might not be pleased to see me with you like this. Not that I can blame him. Father used to use house elves for... experiments," Draco shuddered.

"But enough of morbid subjects. I think I smell food!" Draco announced, pushing up out of the tub and grabbing a towel to wrap around his waist. Flinging the door open he caused the house elf in question to let loose a startled shriek and back into a corner.

"Oh for Lucifer’s, Potter, he’s your elf, you deal with it!" Draco demanded, ignoring both his lover and the cowering creature as he walked over to a set of drawers to pull out some clean lounging pajamas for both himself and Harry.

"If Harry Potter wanted a bath, Harry Potter should have told Dobby! Dobby would have run one! Harry Potter didn’t need to share with, with..." Impossibly large eyes widened even further and Dobby pushed himself into the corner, staying as far away from Draco as possible.

"Dobby," When the house elf only whimpered and hunched his shoulders, Harry sighed and crouched down on the floor, grateful he’d followed Draco’s lead and wrapped a towel around himself. "Dobby, Draco isn’t like his father. He won’t hurt you, and he can’t make you hurt yourself."

Getting no response from this, Harry tried another tactic. "Dobby, do you trust me?"

"Harry Potter freed Dobby. Dobby would give his life for Harry Potter."

Harry couldn’t help the wince that answered engendered. "But do you trust me?"

Dobby slowly turned away from the wall, his shoulders still hunched in the festive Christmas sweater he wore as his only garment. "Dobby trusts Harry Potter with his life."

"Good, then trust me when I say Draco is a friend. My friend. Your friend. He - we just can’t let everyone know that right now. Do you understand?"

"Secret friends?"

"Yes, secret friends." Harry glanced over his shoulder at Draco, smiling in relief. "And it’s very important that no one else knows about this or Draco or I might get hurt."

The house elf shook his head violently. "Harry Potter will not get hurt!"

"I won’t if you keep the secret." Harry straightened up, catching his towel before it dropped to the floor. "Thank you, Dobby. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me."

Draco listened to the conversation with half an ear, carrying on as he normally would but staying on his side of the room and not making any moves towards Harry or the house elf. Slipping the towel off, he stepped into the black lounging silks and slid the shirt on but left it unbuttoned.

Looking in the mirror Draco decided to not bother with the slick look but instead just brushed his hair quickly. So, Dobby would do anything to keep Harry safe, hrm? It sounded like Draco had another name to add to his list of ‘Potter spies’. By the time he was done he’d have an army. Let Harry try and get through that, let Voldemort try anything.

Draco wondered if it were possible to contact Lupin and some of the other Weasleys, at least anonymously. Wood too, perhaps, and Hagrid, and maybe even McGonagall. Speaking of...Draco’s eyes darkened in concentration as a rather devious and Slytherin thought came to him. He’d broach the subject with Dumbledore and Uncle Sev tomorrow at the meeting they were to have and see what their opinions were, and if they could be persuaded to help.

Having calmed Dobby and sent him back to his kin after another round of Merry Christmas, Harry turned back toward Draco, his eyebrows raising in appreciation of the fine figure the Slytherin cut. The black silk made his pale skin glow and his white blond hair shine like silver.

"He’ll be all right now, I think. I suppose it was a little disconcerting for him, seeing us like that."

"No doubt, especially considering that as far as I know house elves are exclusively heterosexual. Apparently they haven’t reached the stage where procreation isn’t the driving force in their lives.

"Ugh, breeding. But I suppose if I want to continue the Malfoy line I’ll need to find a suitable witch who will help. Then again, why would I want the Malfoy line to continue, it hasn’t exactly been a good influence on the wizarding world. What about you, Harry, ever thought about building a family dynasty of your own? A world of Gryffindor crazed Potters running amok?"

"Are you saying you want to have my baby?" Harry asked, pulling on the charcoal gray pajamas Draco tossed his way, treating it like a joke because he couldn’t deal with it any other way at this time. "I think we’re a little young, don’t you?"

"What, and ruin my girlish figure?" Draco replied, moving to stand in profile. "Although if I did I’d positively glow with maternal radiance, after all I am," Draco snickered, "perfect."

"And speaking of ruining girlish figures. food!" with that Draco dove across the bed to reach the dinner tray Dobby brought up and, lifting the lid, began to pick at bits of everything in rapid succession.

"Oi, you eat my candied yams and you’re a dead man!" Harry hollered, diving after Draco and scrabbling for his own share before they settled back against the pillows feeding themselves and each other until most of the plates only held scraps.

"You’re going to have to roll me out of here," Harry groaned, rubbing his stomach and belching indelicately. "’Scuse me. So, want to pull our crackers - and be warned, Malfoy, you make a perverted comment about that and I get them both."

Draco quirked an eyebrow haughtily. "Only you would suggest such a thing. I mean please, Potter, one should not think of Dumbledore’s crackers and sex in the same sentence. That’s just so icky!

"And just for that, you can go first. I can’t wait to see what you got."

"To see if you can swipe it you mean," Harry laughed, grasping the ends of the cracker and pulling on them.

Draco watched with undisguised glee as chartreuse top hat decorated with a huge fuchsia rose and matching bow appeared from a cloud of smoke along with a key with wings that kept dive-bombing Potter’s head. Dumbledore did, however, include a very thoughtful present, an enchanted snake made of silver that hissed at Harry, making him start with surprise.

"Would this be a practical demonstration of parseltongue at work?" Draco asked with a quirk of an eyebrow before reaching over and plopping the hat on Harry’s head. "Tradition, Harry, its tradition."

"It’s asking why I’m wearing such a hideous hat," Harry sighed. "And just remember, that tradition holds true for you too." Setting the snake on the nightstand where it curled up around the base of the candlestick, Harry then reached for Draco’s cracker, handing it over with mock formality.

"On second thought," Draco replied, backing away from the thing as if it contained a live boomslang, "maybe I’ll wait to open mine, say forever!"

"Open it, Malfoy," Harry murmured, crawling after Draco until he had him pinned against the headboard. "It’s tradition."

Sighing, Draco gave in not so gracefully and took hold of one end of the cracker, pulling it sharply. "I really hate you sometimes, you know that, right?" he groaned, afraid to look and see what had appeared.

Brilliant sparkles illuminated the bedroom before fading to reveal a rainbow striped top hat with a white daisy growing out of the crown. A verdant sprig of mistletoe buzzed around Draco’s head before attaching itself to the brim of his hat.

"I know you do," Harry smiled, picking up the top hat to plop it on Draco’s head, causing the last present to roll out of it. The tiny gold dragon flipped itself to its feet and struggled up Draco’s leg to his knee where it settled down, puffing smoke from its nostrils.

Draco, who had been adamantly avoiding the top hat, let out a small sound of pleasure as he picked the fierce little fellow up. "Oh," he blinked and his face lit up like a child in a candy store for the first time. "It’s, I can’t remember the last time I received a frivolous gift, it’s beautiful," Draco cooed, stroking the little dragon’s back. "You’re worth the hideous hat with the weed that must die. I think I’m going to have to take you everywhere with me. My very own pocket dragon."

"Think I could shrink you down so I can say the same?" Harry asked, not entirely joking.

Eyeing Harry carefully, Draco reached for his wand and a piece of the paper the Christmas cracker had been wrapped in. With a quick transfiguration spell and another spell to lock the first one into place Draco took one of Harry’s hands and, opening it palm up, place a tiny doll in the palm of his hand.

"It’s the best I can do on short notice, hope it’s good enough," he murmured.

Smiling down at the small, cartoon version of Draco now lying in his hand, Harry leaned over and kissed the blond youth gently. "Thank you. He’s not quite as good as the real thing, but he’ll keep me company when you can’t." He grew sober then, coming to the realization that he’d been given gifts, but had nothing to share in return.

Draco beamed. "I used to think it was a rather useless spell to know until I came to Hogwarts. I’ve used it an awful lot this year, conjuring things for the first years. Being away from home for the first time is rather difficult, especially when you’re sorted Slytherin. Of course they all knew better than to say I did it but..." Draco smiled, "it stopped a lot of them from bawling like the insufferable brats they are and I got my beauty sleep so it was worth it."

Running a finger over the tiny replica of his lover, Harry carefully set it by the candlestick where his silver snake rested. The serpent raised its head, flicking its tongue out to taste the air before coiling downward and rearranging itself around the doll’s waist.

Knowing Draco wouldn’t want to hear him going on about what a good thing it was he’d done, Harry grinned. "You say you’ve had your beauty sleep and you still look like that? Oi, we need to borrow a time turner and let you go unmolested for a year or so."

Draco narrowed his eyes and glanced down at his new toy dragon. "Sic him," he growled and laughed in delight as the golden dragon took to the air and began to blow smoke in Harry’s face. "Don’t you know by now, Potter, it isn’t wise to bait a dragon. What was that silly thing Hermione teased me about once... oh yes, something called a comical strip and in it was a very apropos saying. ‘Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for thou art crunchy and taste good with catsup!’"

Sneezing as some of the sulfur-laden smoke went up his nose, Harry dodged the small dragon to lie in the lap of the larger one. "Funny, I always thought dragons like to eat things with cream..."

"HA! You finally admitted to being a cream puff! Damn, where’s a recording spell when you need one?"

"Another fine example of Slytherin wit! Many more like that and I might crack a smile."

Draco stuck his tongue out at the other teen but refrained from saying anything else. Instead he simply made himself more comfortable, chuckling softly to himself when the toy dragon decided to curl up on the top of Harry’s hair. "Well you have to admit, Potter, it does rather resemble a nest," he smirked.

"If I have to shave my head because he gets stuck in there, I’m going to give you razor burn," Harry threatened, reaching up to move the dragon then yelping when the toy singed his finger with a burst of real flame.

"I don’t think he wants to move. He looks rather comfortable there," Draco replied mildly but nonetheless reached down and plucked the toy out, ignoring the tiny growls it made. "Trust me, you don’t want to sleep in there, he might squash you. Besides, a fine fellow like you needs a bed of silk to sleep on. So..." Draco shrugged out off his shirt and wadded it up on the table next to his side of the bed. "A bed fit for a dragon. Now be a good little fellow and go to sleep so I can convince a certain Gryffindor to let this dragon go to sleep too," Draco yawned.

Harry yawned as well, unable to help himself. "Do I look as if I’m keeping you from your sleep?" he asked, groaning as he sat up and cleared the tray full of empty bowls from the bed. "I’m right knackered myself." Another yawn threatened to dislocate his jaw as he took his glasses off and set them on the nightstand next to his snake and the miniature Draco.

"Think my shoulder can be a bed fit for a dragon too?" he asked, holding out his arms, already anticipating how waking with Draco curled up next to him would feel and realizing it wasn’t anywhere near as good as the real thing when he suddenly had an armful of cuddly, sleepy Draco to contend with.

Harry couldn’t have been happier.

Chapter 10

"What is he doing here?" Ron growled menacingly, looking from Hermione to Draco and back again. His hands clenched into fists and he desperately fought the urge to reach for his own wand because Hermione had her hand on hers and that glint in her eyes that said ‘I’m on to you, you try it and you get hexed’.

Draco, who had been lounging quite comfortably against Professor McGonagall’s desk, simply smirked and held his tongue. He had promised Harry he’d be civil and his mother had always cautioned him that if he couldn’t say anything nice it was prudent to keep his mouth shut, so he wasn’t saying anything at all.

Of course it didn’t hurt him to know that by keeping his mouth shut he was probably enraging the youngest Weasley male to no end but he was still doing what Harry had asked of him.

"I still say he’s bewitched Harry," Ron went on, getting his head of steam, "why else would Harry, sweet, honest, Gryffindor Harry want to have anything to do with the slimy, arrogant bastard Slytherin he’s hated for the past six years? I’m telling you, ‘mione, he’s messed with Harry’s mind he has!"

All the plans Harry had made on how he was going to tell Ron about this flew out the window along with a good portion of his temper. "Hate to tell you, Ron, but I knew I was gay long before I fell in love with Draco, so that’s something he had nothing to do with."

While Ron sputtered, his eyes as wide as saucers, and Hermione gave that self-satisfied nod that he knew so well, Harry stepped over to Draco’s side and slid an arm around his waist, careful to avoid the pocket where his dragon rested

Resting his head on Harry’s shoulder, Draco beamed beatifically. "And here I thought you’d be proud of him Weas...ley. Potter’s tamed the Slytherin prince, not that anyone can know about it."

"And why the bloody hell not, personally I’m all for taking out an ad in the Daily Prophet," Ron snapped, off balance and furious and not able to take it out on the most readily available target

"Because that would get Draco killed, Ron," Hermione sighed, fighting the urge to smack him on the head with her wand.

"Something we’re trying to avoid for all of us," Harry added.

"Get killed? He’s a bloody Slytherin git, a Voldemort follower! If anyone’s going to get killed its Harry!" Ron replied stubbornly, still clinging to the animosity he felt for the other boy, one that had existed between the Weasleys and Malfoys for longer than either boy had been alive and conveniently forgetting that he had actually worked together with Malfoy at the beginning of the year, albeit unwillingly, and that Harry was his summeneo for some reason. Good riddance to bad rubbish as far as he was concerned. After all, Malfoy had called Hermione a mudblood!

Draco’s head shot up and his eyes narrowed to slits. Sliding out of Harry’s embrace he stalked towards the redhead, his hand twitching to grab his wand. Instead he merely grabbed the front of Ron’s robe and shook him hard. "Never ever say that around me, Weasley or you will find out just how much I did learn from my father. Do you understand me? Never again suggest that Harry is going to die because of me. If you do, you’ll go first!"

"Draco," Harry said quietly, placing his hand on the blond’s arm until the Slytherin let go of Ron’s robe.

Ron looked pleased, that is, until Harry turned his attention to him. "Ron, you’re my oldest friend, my best friend, but if you ever say that about Draco again," He trailed off, not knowing what he’d do.

Hermione tried to fill the silence that followed. "Snapping at each other isn’t going to do any of us any good you know. We all want the same thing here, to see Voldemort dead. Can we at least agree on that?"

Draco stared menacingly at Ron for a few seconds longer, making the redhead squirm slightly. He had a very strong suspicion that for once in his annoying life Malfoy meant exactly what he had said; if Ron talked about Harry dying he’d find himself in the infirmary in next to no time, if not in a coffin.

Ron had never actually seen Malfoy look so murderously protective of anyone. The fact that it was Harry did more to convince the redhead that Malfoy was on the up and up than anything he’d heard.

After a few more seconds Draco let out a disgusted snort and wheeled, stalking over to a window to look out. "You deserve better than that, ‘mione, but it’s your life and your choice," he said with an arrogant lift to his chin.

"Right, fine. Then would somebody bloody well explain to me why Malfoy would die, and Harry, tell him to mind his own bloody business about Hermione and me. And don’t call her ’mione!"

Harry opened his mouth to explain, and then shut it. He couldn’t just blurt out Draco’s secret, not without feeling ill, so he canted a sidelong look at the other teen.

Hermione smiled at Draco, and slid her arm through the crook of Ron’s elbow. "Once you two stop nattering on like two dogs after each other you’ll see you’re both quite all right blokes."

Shooting Hermione a grateful look, Draco broke down and confessed, after making sure that the silencing charm was firmly in place and wards were set up to detect anyone trying to eavesdrop and to break the silencing charm.

"The reason I would die, Weasley, is because I’m not actually on Voldemort’s side. I’m doing the same thing my godfather is, except among the students. I’m spying for Dumbledore," Draco informed Ron with cool indifference.

"And the reason I could die is because some of the students are already Death Eaters, they just haven’t received their mark. They follow willingly and blindly and because I am Lucius Malfoy’s son and heir, and my father until his dying mistake was Voldemort’s loyal right hand, they perceive me to be like my father. I am privy to a great deal of information that the Slytherin students have overheard from their families and so called friends. I know things that Snape might not know or consider important unless that knowledge was added to other bits and pieces to form a whole.

"However, if it were discovered that I am a traitor you can rest assured I would be brought before Voldemort by any means necessary and I would probably meet a fate worse than what happened to my father. There are actually worse ways to die then over exposure to Crucio before being ‘Avada Kedavara’d. So there you have it. And now you have my very life in your hands, Weasley, my you must feel quite powerful right now."

Harry and Hermione both remained silent, both of them watching Ron’s expression.

Ron groaned in defeat. At any other time he’d be dancing on the tables now, he finally had something to hold over Malfoy. But if doing so meant losing Harry and quite possibly Hermione... "Bollocks’ ‘ ‘, all right, I’ll keep my mouth shut, not that I have much choice with that silentium spell," he sighed, sulking.

Hermione leaned over and kissed Ron’s cheek. "Thank you," she murmured, squeezing his arm. "You are a good bloke."

"Why don’t I think this came as a surprise to you, Hermione?" Harry asked, tilting his head to look at her closely.

She smiled mysteriously. "Oh, let’s just put it down to a witch’s intuition."

Draco snorted. "Now there’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one," he sniped but without heat. "Shall I start calling you Trelawney now?"

"Do that and I’ll hex you!" Hermione threatened, waving her wand in his direction.

Harry chuckled, feeling himself relax a bit at the banter. "If you do that, kindly remember I have to look at Draco to kiss him so don’t make him too horrid."

Ron made some quiet gagging noises at the thought of Harry and Malfoy snogging. "Too much information, Harry. Way too much information!" he moaned.

Draco, on the other hand, quirked an eyebrow and gave Potter a rather put out look. "After a comment like that, Potter, you can consider any and all offers withdrawn. Besides, you wouldn’t hex me, Hermione, because if you did who would you have to compete with? Not that there’s much of a competition considering I’m still top in two more classes than you are. You’re slowing down, old girl."

"It’s not two more classes, Draco, it’s two. Arithmancy and Potions and your lead in Arithmancy is growing slimmer by the day," she shot back, patting Ron on the back to help him recover from his shock.

"Planning on holding out on me, Malfoy?" Harry asked, amused. "If you do that, want to guess what I’ll start obsessing over again?"

"Blackmail, Potter?" Draco asked with a feigned gasp. "How perfectly Slytherin of you. Next thing I know you’ll start talking dirty to me in parseltongue."

"And my marks are slipping because I’m working on an extracurricular project with Professor McGonagall, I’ll have you know. Never fear, they’ll be back up soon!"

"What extracurricular project?" Hermione asked, even as Harry muttered a few words in parseltongue, knowing they sounded dirty even though he was only telling Draco to suck lemons.

Draco pantomimed sealing his lips and winked at the frizzy haired witch. There was no way he was going to confess, with Harry in the room anyways, that he was taking animagi lessons from the transfigurations professor to aid him in his quest to keep his idiot Gryffindor lover out of danger to the best of his ability.

Watching Ron turn a slightly pale shade of green as the redhead listened to his and Harry’s banter gave Draco an idea, however. "I guess this means we’d best be putting a permanent silencing charm around your bed, Potter. After all, you never know when I might sneak in for a shag or ten."

Ron moaned and buried his face in his arms. "Enough, enough, I surrender. No more, please!" he begged piteously.

Harry honestly wasn’t sure if Ron’s sick look was more from the thought of hearing Draco and him or the idea of a Slytherin in Gryffindor Tower. "It seems that’s solved, then," he said, glancing around at the others.

The look Hermione gave Draco promised that she’d be revisiting that topic with him at a later time. "So, can you tell us anything we haven’t heard through the Order? About Voldemort, I mean."

Draco hated to do this but he had no choice, not with Harry’s life at stake. "Nothing. Apparently Christmas holidays were fairly quiet for once. Which means that Voldemort was probably planning and strategizing." Not to mention making his army grow, Draco thought with a sick twist of his stomach at the way Crabbe and Goyle proudly displayed their new dark marks to him when they had arrived back at Hogwarts, just before they put a concealing charm on the ugly things.

Apparently all those who had received their marks had been ordered to conceal them and now that Draco knew the spell he could detect it on at least half of the Slytherin senior years. He also noticed almost another quarter of them looking longingly at their peers’ arms. It would seem that almost all of the Slytherin senior year was about to go over, not to mention some Ravenclaws and a few Hufflepuffs. "It’s not going to be long now," Harry said with a certainty that had the others looking at him strangely. "I mean," he backpedaled quickly, "it can’t be."

Draco swore under his breath then looked at the others. "He thinks he’s going to die. He’s got it into his head that, he had a fucking vision or something and I can’t talk him out of being a bloody noble hero and he won’t tell me what the fuck he really knows and... FUCK IT!" Draco snarled, wheeling and slamming out of the classroom, furious and pissed off and more terrified than he had ever been in his life, including those few times his father had presented him to Lord Voldemort in person.

"Draco!" Harry shouted wincing at the shattering of the careful wards Malfoy had raised earlier. Turning, he looked back at Ron and Hermione.

"What do you know, Harry?" Hermione said slowly.

"Yeah, if there’s something going on mate, you should tell us. You know bloody well that we work better as a team than solo. We’ve got one hell of a track record to back that up. No going ruining a good thing now," Ron advised. "Besides if you don’t tell us I’ll sit on you and use the bag of tricks Fred and George gave me until you talk."

"All right, go get... No, let me go get Draco and I’ll explain." Without waiting for a reply, Harry was out the door and down the hallway, hoping to catch up to the other boy before he got too far.

Spying a dark robe vanishing around a corner up ahead, Harry broke into a run, finally catching up with Draco just before he got to the main corridor. "Come back," he said quietly. "Please?"

Draco stopped and then turned slowly, his face composed and solemn his eyes, carefully blank. "Of course," he replied, "you know I’d never say no to you, Harry." And he wouldn’t. Even if Harry were to tell him to off himself he’d probably do that too. "Go on ahead, I’ll follow shortly. It’s better not to take too many chances of being seen."

Harry nodded, knowing that Draco was right, but hating the icy look in his eyes. "All right." Stopping himself before he could reach out to stroke the blond’s cheek, Harry stepped back, meeting Draco’s eyes with a look he hoped spoke for him before turning and going back to McGonagall’s classroom.

"I’m the world’s biggest idiot," Draco sighed after watching Harry walk away. His tiny dragon decided at that moment to clamber out of Draco’s pocket and, taking to the air, landed on the blond Slytherin’s shoulder, puffing out a little snort of smoke. "Yes, I know, I’m hopeless but can you blame me? I mean look at him," Draco smiled, remembering the rather pleasant view of Harry’s departing arse. "And it feels better than it looks, believe me!"

After letting enough time pass and watching the corridors carefully, Draco slipped back into McGonagall’s classroom and re-warded it. Slumping into one of the student’s desks, he looked at Harry. "Well, you were going to explain?"

"Yeah. Just don’t mention this to Dumbledore or Remus or anyone, all right?" he asked, looking around at the others. "They’ve got enough on their hands as it is." Unspoken were the words, ‘as do you’.

Pulling his wand from his robe, Harry stared at it for a long moment before continuing. "No matter what we all think of Professor Trelawney, she is a real Seer, at least in regards to Voldemort and me. At the beginning of the school year, she went into a trance while I was taking my first exam with her, and this is what she said."

Murmuring the repetition charm under his breath, Harry watched as a thin swirl of smoke curled out from the end of his wand and the classroom filled with the Divination teacher’s voice.

"When day and night combine as one Serpent’s heir and Lion’s son Shall meet as one in combat dire The world in balance o’er the pyre

For light to conquer, the son must die Reveal the truth amidst the lie Remake the past or all’s undone First one, then two, and then finally none"

"Bloody hell," Ron muttered, his hands shaking. "C’mon, mate, you don’t really believe it, do you?"

Draco, if anything, went paler than he already was. "So we’re just to give up, is that it? Just because some crackpot old woman who’s more squib than witch gets a small burst of magic and predicts a load of rubbish. It’s a bunch of words. I mean for fuck’s sake I could technically be considered the serpent’s heir if you consider I’m my father’s successor and my father was Voldemort’s right hand, his heir. Give me a break, Potter. It’s, I refuse to believe it. That’s all there is too it!"

"Draco’s right, Harry," Hermione out it. "Trelawney is a crackpot, we all know it. She could have been talking about anyone and anything. She’s always predicting your death, you’ve said so yourself."

Harry nodded; having known this was how they were going to react. "I’m not going to argue about it," he said calmly. "Though there is another bit of information amidst all the ‘rubbish’ if you listen closely. ‘When day and night combine as one’ sounds like an eclipse to me. Want to hazard a guess on when the next one is?" Draco paled as he did a quick mental calculation but said nothing. All it meant was that he had until the end of the month to find a way to either follow Harry or...

Or go over to Voldemort and be there when Harry arrived.

"Still so skeptical now?" Harry asked, looking around at the others, his eyebrows raised.

Draco looked at the Gryffindor and shook his head. "But the interpretation is still open ended, and so is the future. I, personally, don’t believe in fate. We make our own, Potter. We are more than just mere muggles, we’re wizards and you’ve got the makings to be by far the strongest of all of us. If you go into any battle with a self-defeatist attitude you will lose. You decide your own destiny, not some crackpot squib high on her own special blend of incense, and Voldemort sure as hell shouldn’t get a say in it either.

"But then what should I expect from a bloody Gryffindor. You lot rush in where even the heavenly host fear to tread, so sure of your courage and your high and bloody mighty ideals. You never think, you never plan; you never explore other methods of achieving your ends. It’s a wonder any of you made it this far, let alone those Gryf’s who go on to die of ripe old age. You’re cracked, the lot of you!"

Now it was Harry’s turn to vent. "This is why I wasn’t telling anyone, especially you. I’m not going into things planning on losing, I’m going in planning on killing Voldemort and making sure he stays dead. By whatever means necessary. If that’s to much for all of you to take, I don’t need the help!"

Feeling a sense of déjà vu, though this time he was the one slamming out the door instead of the one watching, Harry stalked from the room, barreling through the halls, ignoring other students as he headed for the broom shed, wanting only to find his Firebolt and fly as far away from this mess as possible.

"Way to go, Malfoy, that was bloody brilliant," Ron growled, bolting after his friend to try and talk some sense into him. Draco, on the other hand, sat very quietly and very still, his face ashen. "How do you help someone who is intent upon dying, Hermione? How can I stop him from killing himself when he’s determined that this is the only answer, the only way? I’m fighting a losing battle and I’m going to... oh bugger, I’m going to lose him!"

Moving to the tall Slytherin’s side, Hermione hugged him, trying to lend comfort though she needed some herself at that time as well. "No you aren’t. No we aren’t. We just have to find some way around this is all. You keep saying you’re smarter then I am, Malfoy; now its time to prove it."

Hearing the door to the broom shed open, Harry looked up, glaring at the interloper. "What?" he snapped not caring that it was Ron who’d followed him.

"Oi, no need to impersonate Fluffy, you know, I like my head just where it is," Ron replied in a lame attempt at a joke. When Harry didn’t respond he leaned against the door for a few minutes, just watching him.

"So you and Malfoy, hunh? You sure it’s not some sort of a spell?"

"Don’t ask me that again, Ron," Harry growled, his hand tightening around his broomstick.

"Hey, I’m just looking out for my best mate. And even you have to admit, Har, after six years of hating each other’s guts it’s a bit of a shock to the system. You... do you love him?"

Harry’s shoulders slumped, and he leaned against the wall behind him, losing much of his aggressive stance. "I do. The whole thing’s bollocks, but I do, even when I want to throttle him."

"Must make for some right kinky sex then," Ron remarked before realizing what he’d said and clamped his hands over his mouth. "I did not just suggest that you and he had... ewwwww!"

Try as he might, Harry wasn’t able to stay angry, and he clenched his jaws together, trying to stifle the snickers that threatened to leak from between his lips. "You’re a sod, Weasley," he finally managed to get out through his laughter. "A right bloody sod."

"Ha! Made you laugh, and you love me anyway, mate, so don’t try and deny it," Ron crowed before sobering. "And speaking of love, you’ve never run out on the people you love before, no matter how tough it got. Are you sure you want to start now?

"I mean I know he’s an arrogant prick with attitude to spare, but even I could see, and it really irks me to have to admit this, that he was right devastated when you said what you did. You running away ain’t gonna make it any easier on us, on him. If anything it’ll just leave some nasty guilt in its wake too.

"You’ve never been one to give up, Har, even when the world’s been against you. You got on your high horse a couple of times, and were one hell of a snot at the beginning of fifth year, but you’ve never backed down from a fight and have never given in the way I see you doing now. I’d say that if anything you have all the more reason to fight and to keep going.

"He... gawd, if you tell ‘mione or anyone else I ever uttered these words I’ll have to hurt you, but it was bloody obvious to even someone in glasses," Ron looked pointedly at Harry’s spectacles, "the snarky git loves you."

"I’m not backing down and I’m not giving up, why do you all keep telling me that I am?" Harry asked wearily. "I’m going to do whatever it takes to end this and if that means certain things have to happen, so be it. I don’t want to die, especially not now. Fuck! I want to live to be a hundred if only so I can see yours and Hermione’s grandkids and torture Malfoy about his wrinkles. But if I can’t...

"If I can’t, I’ve got to get to a place where I can accept that."

"Fair enough mate, but as Hermione always says, don’t count your kneazles until they’re hatched, okay? There might be a way out of this yet and now you’ve got two of the brainiest people in school working on a solution."

Harry quirked a small grin at that. "True, but what are Draco and Hermione going to do while we solve this?"

"Run errands for us?" Ron laughed. "C’mon, it’s almost dinner time and I’m starving. All these shocks to the system have given me an appetite, and it’s bangers and mash night!"

  since 02-04-07

 

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