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Title: Veritas

Email: tirel@pcnuthut.com

Site: http://www.angelfire.com/tv2/firebird_ascending/

Author: Veritas

Disclaimer: JK Rowling is God. I own nothing.

Distribution: Sure. Just lemme know where my baby’s going.

Spoilers: SS/PS, CoS, PoA, GoF…then on to AU

Summary: Gryffs and Slyths having a cozy get-together wherein the alcohol abounds and veritaserum changes the rules to a standard party game.

 

 

The group of Gryffindors watched wide-eyed as Pansy dumped a whole vial of veritaserum into the half dozen bottles of mead in the center of the carpet. The Slytherins just grinned. Pansy stood up and began directing them into their ‘places.’

 

“Alright, now. Listen up,” she called. “In the spirit of united houses, I want to mix us up. Draco…you sit there.” She pointed to a spot on the plush carpet. Draco lowered himself in graceful cooperation. “Neville, you next to him and Blaise next to Neville.” Neville shuffled over and plopped, gazing at Draco’s shoes, not quite able to look the blonde in the eye. Blaise sat as well, narrowing his eyes warningly at Draco.

 

“Okay, next to Blaise is Dean, then Seamus…cause they are the only established couple.” The boys shot a grin at her and settled down, holding hands. “Next to Seamus is Vin, then Mione, then Greg.” The Slytherin boys flopped comfortably onto the floor, looking at each other over the more diminutive Hermione’s head as she eased in-between them with a blush.

 

“Next to Greg is Ron. I’ll sit next to Ron and Harry will sit next to me and Draco, completing the circle.” She waited for the Gryffindors to be seated and then daintily knelt in her place.” “Hermione, would you like to explain the rules of the game we’re going to play?” she asked with an innocent smile. Hermione returned with a wicked grin.

 

“I’d love to, Pansy. We are going to play a muggle drinking game called ‘I Never.’” The wizards looked confused, but Harry and Dean groaned. When everyone’s gaze returned to Hermione, they looked a bit more wary. “We will each start with a drink of the spiked mead, just to make sure the veritaserum is working,” she smirked. “Then each one of us will take a turn coming up with a statement beginning with the words ‘I Never.’

 

“Let me give you an example,” she twined her fingers primly in her lap. “I could say, ‘I’ve never read a book.’” She ignored Ron and Harry’s snorts. “Now, everyone who has read a book must drink a shot. Those who actually haven’t read a book wouldn’t have to drink.” She looked up from under her lashes at the others watching her. “Of course, to make it really interesting, we might have to say which book we’ve read.”

 

“Oh, yeah, Mione…that’s just breathtaking with excitement,” Ron jeered good-naturedly.

 

Hermione raised an eyebrow. “For example, I could say that the book I read was the Gay and Lesbian Guide to Kinky Wizard Sex.” Ron choked and the circle erupted in titters.

 

“Thank you, Mione,” Pansy nodded graciously. “Please take a bottle and fill your glass. Drink the shot and then fill the glass again in preparation for the first question.” She waited a moment as everyone complied. “Lovely. Now, just to get the ball rolling…I will start. And I will start with something easy,” she winked at Hermione. “Please don’t think you have to stay in any sort of proper mode.”

 

“Now…I’ve never cheated on a test,” she pronounced and then pointedly drained the shot. Blinking, she set the glass down and refilled it. She gestured to Harry, still unable to speak for the fire in her throat. Harry grinned…and downed his as well. Draco followed suit but Neville just hunched over and shook his head sadly.

 

“Sorry, guys. I’ve never cheated. I’ve always been too afraid of the professors or too worried about how I’d screw it up.” Draco sniggered and Blaise glared at him. Holding up his hands in surrender, Draco shot one last smirk at Neville before moving on to Blaise. Blaise drank as well, followed by Dean, Seamus, and Vin. Then to everyone’s surprise…Hermione gulped hers as well.

 

She grinned evilly at the shocked looks on Ron and Harry’s faces. “What? I’m not always a stick in the mud,” she laughed. Greg snickered and drained his glass and the circle finished off with Ron drinking and refilling his shot glass.

 

“My turn,” Vin held up his shot glass. He and Goyle had long given up their pretense of stupidity. Now that Voldemort was dead and the prospect of Death-by-Cruciatus-Wielding-Death-Eater-Fathers was over, they had no reason to hide behind the safety of idiocy. “I never…” he smirked and looked appraisingly around the circle, “…kissed a member of the same sex.”

 

With a wink at Goyle, he drank. All eyes turned to Greg, automatically skipping Hermione. Which is why it was such a great surprise when she boldly drained her own glass. Ron physically gaped at her while Pansy snickered quietly. “M-Mione?” he gasped. “Who? When? How?”

 

Hermione snorted. “Who? Ginny.” Ron clutched his chest in shock. “When? Practically every night this summer.” Ron looked at Harry in horror. “How?” She studied her nails. “Well, there was the gentle peck on the lips. There was the long, passionate, tongue-filled kiss. There was the exploration of skin kiss. There was the face-buried-in-Ginny’s-cr---“

 

“No more!” Ron shrieked. He’d been getting redder and redder, his breath coming faster with each statement. At the last sentence, his eyes nearly bulged out of his head. “I don’t want to hear anything you and my sister did. No matter how much I ask. Please, please, please…never tell me.” He shuddered and the tinkling of Hermione’s laughter filled the circle.

 

With a shrug, she nodded. She turned to look at the next person, Greg, to find him watching her with a thoughtful expression. She felt a slight blush fill her own cheeks. Quietly, he too drank, continuing to watch Hermione.

 

Ron waved them on to Pansy, as he was still softly keening under his breath. Sniggering, Pansy passed as well. Harry, however, did not. Ron’s keening rose to a wail. “Nononononono Harry! Not you too!”

 

Harry reached over to pat Ron on the knee. “If it makes you feel any better, Ron. I’ve never kissed your sister.” Ron glared at him causing Harry to burst into laughter.

 

“Who was it then, Potter?” Draco drawled, a lilt in his voice that Harry couldn’t quite place.

 

Harry shrugged. “Seamus. It was about a month before he got together with Dean.” He shared a secret smile with Seamus. “Let me just say that Dean is one lucky bastard.” Dean nodded and leaned over to place a kiss on Seamus’s cheek. Seamus wrapped his fingers up with his boyfriend’s.

 

Draco eyed Harry once more before drinking himself. Harry raised an eyebrow. Draco smirked. “Blaise.” Neville looked a bit disconcerted about sitting in-between the former lovers and timidly passed. Blaise, Dean and Seamus drained their glasses in succession.

 

Seamus practically wiggled in his seat. “My turn!” He sang out. “I’ve never wanked myself.” He batted long, thick eyelashes innocently as his dorm mates exploded into laughter. With a practiced look of offended confusion, he delicately sipped at the spiked mead. Dean managed to stop gasping long enough to swallow his as well.

 

“It’s a good thing you don’t have to drink once for every time you’ve done it, Seam,” Harry snorted. “You’d be so pissed you’d pass out.” Seamus just grinned.

 

Everyone turned to the next in line, Greg, who rolled his eyes as he drank. Then, to Ron’s horror, Hermione drank. “God, Mione!’ he moaned. “I didn’t know this much about you when we were dating and screwing like bunnies!” Hermione gaped at Ron. Realizing what he’d just said, Ron turned a brilliant hue of red and held up his hands protectively.

 

“Oh, shit, I’m sorry, Mione.” Hermione glared while Ron continued to gibber incoherently.

 

“Well, Ronniekins,” She said sweetly, glare still in place, “Since you feel so free about sharing our sex life with others, perhaps you won’t mind if I mention that the first time I got myself off was after we had sex for the first time. Considering that you forgot about me and fell asleep right after you came!” Ron snapped his mouth shut and pouted.

 

“That was only the one time, Mione. And I apologized. And I more than made it up to you,” he said reproachfully while the others tried to muffle snickers.

 

Hermione relented and smiled. “I know. I’m sorry too, Ron.” In the wake of the fluffy moment, Vin drank. Still sharing a smile with Hermione, so did Ron. Pansy followed, winking at Draco.

 

Harry slammed his back and carefully set the glass on the carpet, the green plush swimming before his eyes. “I was told it was a sin,” he pronounced. “Vernon and Petunia told me they’d cut it off if they caught me doing it.” He sniggered. “So, of course, I did it every chance I got. I even did it in Dudley’s room all over his bed.” He burst into giggles, setting off the rest of the circle.

 

Draco clapped him on the back companionably and drank as well. Neville blushed. “Grandma told me it was a sin, too,” he murmured. “I only did it once, cause I was really mad at her.” Draco opened his mouth to say something scathing, but Blaise glared him into silence before drinking his glass.

 

Hermione cleared her throat. “My turn. And I’m not going to ask about books,” she smiled evilly. “I’ve never…fantasized about shagging a professor.” And she drank.

 

Ron shuddered. “Something tells me, I don’t want to know.”

 

“Probably not, but I’m telling anyway,” Hermione laughed. “It was Snape.”

 

Ron buried his head in his hands. ”Whywhywhywhwy?”

 

Hermione shrugged. “The man is damn sexy, Ron. All dark and mysterious, brooding and angry.”

 

Vin looked at Hermione with a new respect, though he passed. Pansy drank and blushed. “Lupin.” Draco snorted.

 

Ron uncovered his face to drink. “Hooch,” he grinned. “The woman knows how to ride a broomstick.” Groans were heard from nearly everyone.

 

Harry drank and looked apologetically at Ron’s hopeful stare. “Sorry, Ron. Mine was Snape.” Hermione crawled halfway across the circle to high five Harry, not noticing when Vin and Greg looked thoughtfully at her ass and then at each other.

 

“Wait a second, Mione.” Draco drank and held out his hand as well. “Snape,” he grinned. With a giggle, Hermione slapped his hand too.

 

Neville passed, shaking his head. Blaise smiled and drank. “Trelawney. I always wondered if she ‘saw’ the rather pornographic dreams I had of her,” he grinned, wiggling his brows. Surprisingly enough, Seamus, Dean and Greg passed. “Okay, Ron. How about you go next?” Blaise prodded.

 

Ron looked like a deer in headlights. “Err…I’ve never…um…had sex?” He shrugged and drank. Shaking her head fondly, Pansy drank, followed by Harry and Draco. Neville however, passed, shrinking further into a ball and minutely edging away from Draco, who rolled his eyes and snorted.

 

Blaise patted Neville’s leg and snarled at Draco. “I think it’s very sweet and honorable to want to wait to lose your virginity,” he said defiantly to Draco.

 

Neville blushed. “A-actually, I’m a v-virgin because n-no one has wanted t-to have sex with m-me.” He hung his head in mortification. Silence met his statement.

 

“That’s not true,” Harry broke it gently. “I’ve thought about asking you, but I didn’t want to freak you out with the whole gay thing.”

 

Neville looked up hopefully. “Really?” he choked out. “You’re not just saying that to make me feel better?”

 

Harry smiled softly. “No, Nev. I’m not just saying that. I think you’re very shaggable. You make me want to hug you, and kiss you and teach you everything I know.” Neville blushed, but smiled back.

 

“Thanks, Harry,” he whispered.

 

Blaise smiled at Harry, gratitude in his every pore, and inched closer to Neville. “Harry’s not the only one, either, Neville.” And he drank, letting his comment simmer. The circle completed, everyone else drinking in a subdued manner.

 

Dean cleared his throat. “Here’s one,” he ventured. “I never want to have kids.” He carefully placed his still full glass onto the carpet and looked expectantly at Greg. Greg lifted his hands and shook his head. Hermione stared at her glass for a long moment and then sighed, placing it down. Vin passed and Ron gulped his.

 

He smiled warmly around the circle. “I couldn’t imagine not having kids.”

 

Draco opened his mouth, a snide comment on the tip of his tongue, when Harry’s elbow caught him in the ribs. He glanced astonished at the dark-haired boy and then rolled his eyes. “No one lets me say anything fun,” he pouted.

 

Pansy looked up shyly at Ron and drank as well. “I never had brothers or sisters. I’ve always envied you and your family, Ron.”

 

Ron stared at her. “I thought we were a bunch of poor, Mudblood-loving disgraces to wizarding society,” he narrowed his eyes.

 

Pansy flushed and ducked her head. “Mione has taught me a lot in the last year,” she said quietly. “I’m sorry I said those things about you and your family, Ron. I guess I only recently realized that there was more to having an opinion that being able to spout off what your parents said.”

 

Ron sat in silence for long moments, watching Pansy fidget with her glass and her fingers. Finally, she couldn’t stand it any longer and looked up at him. He smiled wryly. “Yeah, there’s also the part where you know you’re wrong about a person and having the balls to change your opinion. Even when it flies in the face of everything you’ve ever done.” He chucked a finger under her chin. “I’m sorry, Pansy. I was wrong about you as well.”

 

Pansy’s face lit up like a Christmas tree and she blushed again. “Thank you, Ron.”

 

Harry bumped shoulders with her and grinned at her expression. She stuck her tongue out at him and waved him on to his turn. He drank, wondering how much more alcohol it would take before he totally humiliated himself. “I want kids,” he declared, blinking owlishly. “Dunno why. Probably to live vicariously through their normal, sane and peaceful lives.” He snorted and turned to Draco. “What about you, Blondie?”

 

Draco quirked an eyebrow at the pet name and drank. “I, too, would like children.” He glared at the cough from Ron. “I would like a chance to redeem the Malfoy name from the damage my father did to it. But even more…” he dropped his eyes and cleared his throat, “I’d like a chance to be a real dad. Not just a figurehead, or the patriarch of a family, but a guy that plays quidditch with his son; a dad that reads bedtime stories to his little girl. I want to be the dad that my father never was. I want to raise my kids in love, not in hate and fear.”

 

He pulled his legs up, protectively wrapping his arms around them and glared belligerently at the others. To his amazement, not a one was looking at him in disgust. Pansy and Hermione even looked as though they might cry. And Harry…Harry was looking at him with pride. That look more than made up for the humiliation of baring his soul.

 

Neville ventured a tiny smile at him and nodded. “I’d like to be there for my kids too.” He drank and carefully set the glass down before him. “I never really knew my folks. All I saw were these burned out husks that looked like me. Being raised by Grams was fine and all, but sometimes…a boy just needs his dad.” Draco returned the boy’s nod and freed a hand to clap on his back.

 

Blaise drank, surprising the Slytherins in the circle. “What?” he grinned. “So I’ve always wanted a kid. Big deal.”

 

“But…we never knew,” Pansy murmured.

 

Blaise rolled his eyes. “Oh, cause we Slytherins always share ideas and play nicely, hmmm?” Pansy stuck her tongue out.

 

Greg filled his glass up again, as well as Blaise’s and held it up. “In honor of this topic…I never wished I’d been born into another family,” he saluted the other Slytherins. “Fuck the Death Eaters,” he gulped his shot.

 

“Hear, Hear!” called out Pansy and Blaise, swigging their mead.

 

“Fuck the Death Eaters!” chorused Vin and Draco, drinking as well.

 

Seamus grinned and passed, as did Dean, Neville, Hermione and Ron. Once again, Harry was the only Gryffindor to drink. He shrugged. “I gotta agree with ‘Fuck the Death Eaters,’” he smirked. “But I gotta go one further and say fuck the Boy Who Lived. I wish I’d been born into any other family than the Potters.”

 

Draco reached over and grasped Harry’s knee. “I don’t,” he whispered. Harry turned those impossibly green eyes on Draco, pain surging though them though he managed to keep it off of his face. Draco smiled. “I’m very, very glad you were born a Potter. And, though I wish you’d not been through so much pain, I have to say, I couldn’t imagine what my life…what all of our lives would be like, if you weren’t who you are.”

 

Harry let his eyes drop from Draco’s down to the pale, delicate hand resting on his knee. Carefully, he placed his own, thicker, tanned hand over it and squeezed. “Thanks, Dray.”

 

Draco refilled his glass and Harry’s one handed. “And now for something completely inappropriate!” he snorted. “Because I am totally pissed and can’t seem to focus on anything more than a foot away from me. I never…have been buggered against my will.” Intakes of breath and small gasps were heard from around the circle. Draco drank, filled his glass, grinned wickedly and pronounced, “Double if it was family,” then drank again.

 

“Oh, Draco,” Hermione whispered softly, “Please say he didn’t.”

 

Draco snorted. “Please, Granger? I learned that didn’t work. Neither did ‘I’ll tell’, or ‘it hurts’ or my very favorite ‘but I’m your son’.”

 

Neville looked as though he wanted to crawl under the couch. Shrinking into himself again, he waved a pass. Blaise waved it on as well, solemnly gazing at Draco, currently three sheets to the wind and looking as though he wished he’d never said anything. Greg passed, as did Mione and Vin. Ron passed but Pansy burst into tears, trying to drink past hiccupping sobs.

 

Ron gingerly put his arm around her and looked in confusion to Draco. The blonde looked pityingly at the weeping girl. “I’m sorry, Pansy-luv,” he whispered. “I tried.” Pansy shook her head vigorously and wiped her nose on her sleeve.

 

“I know, Drake,” she gulped air. “I know you tried. And I know what he did to you for it, even though you tried to hide it,” her shoulders shook again, in silent sobs. Draco set his glass aside and crawled forward into the center of the circle. Pansy met him halfway and they wrapped arms around each other in shared misery.

 

“He’ll never hurt you again, pretty,” Draco whispered into her hair.

 

She pulled away to brush a lock of hair from his forehead. “Nor you, Drake. Thank you.” She gently pressed her lips to his, a tender thank you that held nothing sexual at all in it, and they crawled back to their spots.

 

Harry looked hesitantly at his glass. Then at Ron. Then Hermione. Then back at his glass. He sighed and closed his eyes briefly. Straightening his back, he opened his eyes again and drained the glass. Then he pointedly plucked Draco’s glass from in front of him and drank it too. Blinking rapidly against the burn of the alcohol, he leaned over and plucked Neville’s glass out of his fingers and disposed of that liquid as well.

 

Smacking his lips, he looked around the circle. “I had to drink once for each of them,” he shrugged. Hermione looked as though she might throw up. A tear escaped Ron’s anguished blue eyes.

 

“That’s why you stopped coming to the Burrow,” he stated, not even bothering to phrase it as a question.

 

Harry nodded fuzzily. “They’d do it every time I asked. Every time I said your or Hermione’s name. Every time I mentioned the ‘M’ word,” he chuckled a bit, that he laughed over it, somehow more horrifying than the fact that it had been done. “I have it on good authority, though, that I have a really nice ass.”

 

Seamus dropped his drink, spilling the amber liquid across the carpet. “H-Harry…did we…before or…was I…?” His voice shook as badly as his hands.

 

Harry bit his lip. “Why? Wanna know if you got spoiled goods?” he demanded, a bit of anger showing through.

 

Seamus looked mortified. “Dear God, no, Harry! I was just hoping that…that your first time was…was…” he fluttered his hands, looking to Dean for help.

 

Dean took hold of his hands and squeezed. “I think Seamus is trying to say that he hopes he was your first so that you lost your virginity to someone who cared about you and who was gentle with you.”

 

Harry looked embarrassed. “Oh. Sorry, Seam,” he whispered, tracing patterns into the carpet. “Actually, no. Dudley was the first. And second, and I think third. Then Vernon and he took turns for a while,” He looked up at the low moan from Seamus. “When I came to you, Seam, I think I was looking for proof that I wasn’t a freak. I remember we talked about sex, gay sex, for a while but I think we were on different levels.”

 

He cleared his throat. “I wanted to know if it was somehow my fault; if I somehow sent off signals that would make them want to do that to me.”

 

Seamus’ eyes widened again. “Bloody fucking hell, Harry. I thought you were coming on to me.”

 

Harry managed a tiny smile. “I know. I didn’t realize that was what I sounded like until you started responding to me. I was absolutely terrified, and positive that I was just one big walking fuck-me advertisement.” Seamus began to cry. “Then you kissed me.” Harry’s voice took on a dreamy quality. “And it was the most amazing thing.”

 

Seamus covered his mouth to hold in a sob. Harry didn’t even seem to notice. “I couldn’t believe that you were so gentle. That you could stand to touch me in a way that didn’t involve kicks or punches.” His eyes gleamed as he locked gazes with Seamus. “And when we finally shagged, I cried. I know you thought that you’d hurt me, and I’m sorry for letting you think that,” he shook his head apologetically, “I cried because I felt loved and cherished. I felt like I was worth something to you. I’d never felt that before and it scared me.”

 

He sighed. “I kept thinking I was lying to you by not telling you about Vernon and Dudley. That I was tainting you, somehow. I felt like I’d failed you as a friend when you’d given me so bloody much. That’s why I pushed you at Dean,” he gazed solemnly at Seamus, who was biting one fist while clutching Dean’s with the other. “You gave me my dignity back, Seam. You gave me hope. You gave me strength to go back the next summer and endure, knowing that it wasn’t my fault. Thank you.”

 

Seamus sat, his whole body shaking like a leaf, tears streaming down his face. I-I…H-Harry…” he cut himself off, choking on what he wanted to say. Harry just shook his head.

 

“It’s okay, Seam,” he said gently. “Let it go.” Sighing, he turned to Ron and Hermione, prepared to ask them to help Seamus. Unfortunately, they weren’t any better. Ron looked nearly ready to explode; he was bright red and trembling in anger. Hermione had her eyes narrowed and her jaw clenched and everything in the path of her gaze seemed to drop several degrees.

 

“Please,” Harry begged. “It’s over. I’m never going back. I’m never going to have to deal with them again. I survived…mostly,” he attempted a grin which failed utterly and he threw his hands up as the glaring and weeping continued full force. He glanced over at Draco to commiserate and was floored. The calculating look in the blonde’s eyes was focused on him.

 

The gray stare carved a path into his body as it searched him from the top of his head to the bottoms of his shoes. Harry could have sworn that Draco could see beneath his clothes. “What?” he finally snapped. Draco raised an eyebrow.

 

“I have the question for your turn, Potter,” he said silkily.

 

Harry froze. “That’s not part of the rules. I get to choose my own question,” he said defiantly.

 

Draco just smirked. “No, love. Actually, you don’t.” He filled their glasses and raised his own in a salute. “I’ve never wanted to kill myself.” The tone was sleek and smooth, though the words sent shivers down Harry’s spine. “Double if you actually tried.” Draco drank, picked up Harry’s glass and drank again, never letting his eyes leave Harry’s green ones.

 

He picked up the glasses and held them out to Pansy, who filled them up again with shaking hands. Still watching Harry’s panicked face, Draco proffered the glasses to Harry. The dark haired boy shook his head. Silently begging Draco not to do this. Draco’s response was to shift the glasses to one hand and pull the sleeve of his left arm up around his bicep.

 

Harry’s eyes followed the motion unwillingly. The first and most visible scar was circular shaped and looked as though someone had sliced all of the meat off of the inside of Draco’s forearm. Leading away in both directions from the gouge were two straight lines, tracking the faint blue of veins. Draco smiled in amusement at the wide-eyed horror on Harry’s face.

 

“My father had me marked,” he whispered. “It was my 16th birthday present. Voldemort branded me, and it hurt so bloody bad I thought I’d pass out. Funny how carving the fucking thing off of my arm didn’t hurt at all. Of course, I was working on pure adrenalin at the time,” he conceded. “I guess I was desperate to get it off of me, to make my flesh my own again,” he chuckled.

 

“Halfway through it, I realized that there was really no point in hacking it off. The next time I saw my father, I’d either get it again or he’d kill me. Suddenly, that sounded like a really fucking great idea, hence the other cuts,” he nodded to the lines. “I figured I’d just take care of that nasty little problem for him.”

 

Harry looked sadly at the blonde. “I’m sorry, Draco. I didn’t know.”

 

Draco shrugged. “No one did, except for Blaise. He found me bleeding to death and was right bastardly enough to carry me to our room and patch me up. He knew I wouldn’t want Pomfrey to know and so he tried to heal me himself.”

 

Blaise nodded. “That’s why there’s a scar,” he said sadly. “I didn’t know what I was doing and I guess I botched it.” He couldn’t seem to tear his gaze away from Draco’s arm. “Pretty skin. Such pretty, pretty skin…marked forever.”

 

Draco leaned over Neville, beckoning Blaise to him. Gently, their lips met…then their eyes, Blaise’s begging forgiveness and Draco’s granting it. Draco sat back up. “I showed you mine, Harry. Now you show me yours,” he commanded, holding out the glasses.

 

Staring at the mead as though it were death itself, Harry none-the-less accepted the shots. He swirled them around briefly before sighing in resignation. One after the other, he drank. After placing them on the rug, he rolled up both sleeves and presented his arms to Draco amidst the gasps of the circle.

 

A three inch long slice right over the veins in his wrist was the most prominent. Draco gently turned Harry’s hand over and witnessed that the scar was duplicated on the other side. He turned the arm back over and followed the crossroads of white tracery up and down the forearm. He noted similar, yet more ragged cuts on Harry’s right arm.

 

“I was really angry on the first swing,” Harry murmured. “I just stabbed myself and drug the knife up until it hit bone. After that, I just hacked and hacked. The knife was really slippery by the time I got to my right hand, that’s why it’s so messy.”

 

“Who?” Draco demanded.

 

Harry smiled past him, knowing what he meant. “Neville.” Everyone but Draco turned eyes on the shy boy, now meeting Harry’s eyes with dignity and without regret. “He found me and bandaged me. He lied for me and covered for my absence. Then he chewed my arse up one side and down the other. He yelled until he lost his voice,” he chuckled in remembrance.

 

“He threatened me. He guilted me. He begged me. As I recall, he even offered to let me cut him instead.” Neville blushed, but still held his head up high. “He convinced me to live, though at the time, I was just more afraid of what he’d do to me that I was of dying.”

 

Bewildered eyes locked on Neville, trying to see the shy, chubby boy as scarier than death. Calmly, Neville picked up his drink and swallowed it. “I wanted to die on more occasions than you could possibly imagine,” he announced. “But I always remembered my parents sacrifice and talked myself down, or into putting the knife away, or into flushing the pills. I just thought I’d share with Harry some of the tricks I learned to cope.”

 

“Nev, why would you want to kill yourself?” Ron whispered.

 

Neville snorted. “Why wouldn’t I? I grew up alone, no friends. I know I’m not the brightest berry on the bush. I’m a klutz. If something crappy happens, it generally happens to me. Everyone either thinks I’m a loser or they feel sorry for me. The only thing I’ve ever done of note, was getting 10 points for us in first year.”

 

“Stop it.” Neville turned wide-eyed to his right. Blaise sat, fists clenched, jaw working in anger. “Stop it right now.” Blaise settled furious eyes on the smaller boy. “Stop putting yourself down. You are not a loser. You aren’t stupid. You have friends. There are people who would do anything for you. You just have to open your eyes and see them.”

 

Neville blinked.

 

Blaise flushed and glared at his hands.

 

Neville blinked again.

 

Cleared his throat.

 

Filled his glass.

 

Stared for long moments at the swirling liquid in it and those watching him saw a tiny smile creep onto his lips.

 

“My turn, I suppose,” he murmured. “At this moment, I don’t want to kiss someone in this room.” An adorable smirk crawled across his face as he drank. Blaise sucked in a breath of air as the glass cleared Neville’s lips.

 

Draco rolled his eyes and grinned. “Is that so, Longbottom?” Neville nodded, still smiling into his glass. “Well, why don’t you show us who it is that you have a burning desire to kiss?”

 

Blaise nearly whimpered and shot an evil glare at his best friend.

 

“Okay,” Neville whispered. He rose to his knees and turned to face Blaise. The Slytherin boy looked confused as Neville swung a leg over him and settled into his lap. However, the confusion melted away at the first hesitant brush of Neville’s lips on his own.

 

A low moan rolled out of Blaise’s throat and he wrapped his arms around the smaller boy’s waist, tugging him even closer. Neville buried his hands in Blaise’s hair and drove them backwards to the ground. Breathy whimpers and wet smacking sounds were heard from the pile on the ground.

 

Seamus laughed. “Way to go, Nev!”

 

Dean nudged him and eyed him slyly. “You know, Seam…I think I might have to drink to this one as well.”

 

Seamus cocked an eyebrow. “Really? How coincidental! Me too!”

 

“What do you say to just skipping the drinking part and getting right to the snogging?” Dean questioned.

 

“I thought you’d never ask, Mr. Thomas,” Seamus tackled him and they rolled backwards giggling, exchanging sloppy kisses, until they came to rest against the back of the leather couch. At that point, the rest of the room ceased to exist for them.

 

Pansy giggled and shot Hermione a glance. The Gryffindor gave a brief nod and Pansy leaned sideways into Ron. He shifted, thinking that Pansy was just the victim of way too much mead, so that she would have a comfy place to nestle. With a start, he realized that wasn’t the case. She nuzzled his neck and gave a tiny lick to the back of his earlobe.

 

Shivers raced across his skin and he turned wide eyes on the Slytherin. She grinned cheekily. “Really?” He asked, astonished. She nodded, gazing up from underneath her lashes. He broke into a huge smile. “Brilliant!” Somehow, he got to his feet, dragging Pansy with him. Weaving slightly, he led her to the leather chair in the corner and pulled her down into his lap.

 

Amidst the giggles, faint moans could be heard. Hermione exchanged pleased looks with Harry. “She’s had a major crush on him since fourth year,” she whispered.

 

“He has a pair of her panties under his pillow from the last time you two played dress-up with Pansy’s clothes,” Harry whispered back. Hermione gaped in shock.

 

The remainder of the circle snickered at her flabbergasted expression. Vin reached over and gently pushed her mouth closed with one finger. “Much as I’m enjoying watching you like that, Hermione, you’ll catch flies,” he murmured. Hermione blushed.

 

Draco leaned back onto his arms and crossed his legs in front of him. “So, Mione, anyone here that makes you moist?” Harry smacked him, though snickered first.

 

“Oh, Draco,” Hermione drawled, “you’re just way too pretty for me.” Draco fluttered his eyelashes. “ I prefer my men to be more manly than me.”

 

Harry’s eyes widened, but Draco just snorted and clutched his stomach. “Oh, Mione…” he chortled, “you wound me.”

 

“What about you two?” Harry redirected quickly to the two larger boys flanking the tiny female.

 

They looked at each other and Harry was once again taken aback as their gazes softened and their faces melted into smiles. “We’ve been together since third year,” Greg stated.

 

Vin nodded. “Everyone in Slytherin knew, but no one would have said anything to any other house. And now, we’re old hat, anyway. Not a lot of new and exciting stuff going on with seeing us together anymore.”

 

“I don’t know about that,” Hermione smirked. “I mean, I haven’t seen you together at all. How am I supposed to know if it’s new and exciting?”

 

The boys shared a silent moment, strange in that Harry could almost see the thoughts passing from eye to eye. As one, they turned to Hermione. “We’d be delighted to show you anytime you’re interested, Mione,” Greg said slyly.

 

Hermione stood gracefully and looked down at the boys beside her. “I’m interested now,” she stated. Vin and Greg stood as well and each held out an arm to her. With a wink at Harry, she allowed the Slytherins to lead her out of the room.

 

“Wow,” Harry said flatly into the silence. “Didn’t see that coming.”

 

Draco stood and snagged a bottle between two fingers. “They’ve been eyeing her all night.” He held out a hand to Harry. “C’mon. Let’s go for a walk. I need to get a bit of fresh air.” Harry shrugged and let Draco close his warm hand over his own chilly one, pulling him to his feet.

 

“Where you wanna go?” Harry asked, snagging a bottle himself.

 

“The lake?” Draco suggested. Harry nodded.

 

Ten minutes later, they were sprawled out in the gazebo lounge chairs, facing the lake.

 

“Once again, it comes down to the two of us,” Draco sighed.

 

“I think it was meant to be,” Harry agreed.

 

Draco cocked an eyebrow. “What was meant to be?”

 

“The two of us, together, in some form or fashion.” Harry took another swig from his bottle. “We complement each other. Light, dark. Gryffindor, Slytherin. Death Eater heir, Dumbledore’s Golden Boy. In the end, it was meant to be the two of us.”

 

Draco gazed at him thoughtfully. “I suppose that makes sense. Though you make it sound like we had no choice in the matter.”

 

Harry lolled his head back and smiled. “Don’t believe in fate, eh? Figures…’a Malfoy makes his own fate’ and all.”

 

Draco nodded emphatically. “Absolutely. So do Potters.”

 

Harry chuckled. “What the hell makes you say that? I’ve followed everyone else’s path since birth.”

 

Draco sat up. “Bollocks. You’ve never done one single thing the way anyone has wanted you to do since I’ve known you!”

 

Harry rolled his eyes. “Defiant rebelliousness aside, the effect was still the same. I was born. I destroyed Voldemort’s body. I learned to be a wizard. I destroyed Voldemort’s spirit. End of story.”

 

Draco stared in amazement. “The scary part is that you are under veritaserum and you still believe that drivel.”

 

Harry sat up as well. “No, the scary part is that you are under it too, and you don’t believe it. Even though you’ve been spouting it for years,” he poked at Draco.

 

Draco lowered his eyes. “I’m sorry, Harry. I’ve been a royal arse over the years.” Harry grinned and nodded. Draco stuck his tongue out. “That was a rhetorical statement.”

 

“Oh,” Harry giggled, “but it just begged to be agreed with.” He leaned closer. “And unless you want that tongue sucked out of your mouth, you’d better keep it under wraps.”

 

Draco stared at Harry in astonishment. “Really?” he asked hesitantly. “You’d kiss me?”

 

Harry rolled his eyes. “Draco, I’d kiss you, I’d lick you, I’d bite you…I’d turn you into an all day buffet if you’d let me.”

 

Draco continued to stare openmouthed.

 

Harry snorted. “Are you trying to tell me you’ve not noticed you’re the most edible thing at Hogwarts?”

 

Draco snapped his mouth shut. “I’ve heard that from a lot of people, Harry, but I never expected to hear it from you.”

 

“Why not?”

 

Draco shrugged. “You’re Harry Potter. I’m Draco Malfoy. Lack of faith in fate aside, we were made to hate each other.”

 

Harry frowned and then eased himself out of the chair. He staggered to Draco’s chaise lounge and straddled it, plopping down on Draco’s thighs. “Or you could look at it as we were just made for each other and it took us till now to realize that it wasn’t hate we were feeling,” he whispered.

 

Draco looked intently into Harry’s green eyes. “Are you trying to tell me you feel something for me?”

 

Harry nodded.

 

“Friendship?” Draco questioned.

 

Harry nodded.

 

“Fondness?” he continued warily.

 

Harry nodded.

 

“Lust?” he demanded.

 

Harry smiled and nodded, leaning forward to brush his lips across Draco’s forehead. “Friendship, fondness, lust…yes,” he whispered. “But also, want, need, desire, attraction to both mind and body…and maybe more.”

 

Draco sucked in a sharp breath at the feel of Harry’s lips on his skin. He looked up into the fathomless depths of Harry’s eyes and tried not to lose himself. “Do you love me, Harry?” the barest whisper of breath.

 

Harry tenderly captured Draco’s lips, a gentle, innocent kiss that shook Draco to the depths of his soul. “I’ve been fighting it for years,” he returned quietly, “and I think that all it would take to fall in love with you would be the knowledge that you feel something for me too.”

 

Draco bit his lip and focused his internal hearing away from the little voice that sounded suspiciously like his father, shouting ‘No! You’ll be hurt! Malfoy’s need no one! Tell him to piss off!’ He listened to his breathing, felt his heartbeat…and then realized that they were in total synch with Harry’s.

 

He smiled softly. “Start falling, luv.”

 

Harry grinned and ducked his head for another kiss.

 

“Too late, Dray,” he murmured against the delicate lips. “I’ve already fallen.”