The bell had run nearly 5 minutes before and the halls had cleared. Draco was in a foul mood, his stomache roiling, as he headed for his first Potions class of seventh year, late. Everything had conspired against him this moring, from losing one shoe to spilling pumpkin juice on himself at breakfast, to finding there was a button missing on the first shirt he'd chosen. Useless house-elves.
A tall, stoop-shouldered student was ahead of him in the hall. He'd seen this boy from a distance the night before as they were arriving, but hadn't recognized him. Now, as he almost bumped into the other as they both reached for the door handle, the black-haired kid turned to him with a sudden, brilliant smile, saying "At least I won't be walking in alone!" When he realized who he was talking to, however, his face closed up warily, and then Draco recognized him.
"Longbottom," Draco burst out. His voice didn't have it's usual scathing tone, echoing his surprize at not having recognized the Gryffendor, who must have had a growth spurt over the summer. He also felt some of that natural gratitude at not having to enter the classroom alone. And he felt, surprisingly, some small sense of loss and annoyance at the dissappearance of that smile, meant for anyone but himself.
Neville turned from him and muttered, "Have to go in." He hunched his shoulders a little more, lowered his head, and opened the door gingerly.
Snape paused midsentance to glare at them both. All of the other students were paired up by cauldrons. It didn't take a genius to see where that left the two latecomers. A full period of dealing with the squib on a project. Just the prospect of the tribulation nudged Draco's annoyance level two more notches. The sight of Longbottom's expression was amusing, though. He was somehow managing to look paniced and hangdog at the same time. As Draco dropped his books, and Neville his satchel, next to one of the remaining cauldrons, he surprized Draco by whispering, "I'm really sorry. I know nobody wants to work with me. I don't even wish this on _you_. And it must be worse for you, with the Slytherins and all."
Draco was even more surprized to hear himself mutter, "Don't worry, I'm sure we'll manage." Where had that come from? Neville's jaw dropped, for a moment, then he ventured a small, shy smile.
However, the experience of having to work the lesson with him was every bit as painful as Draco had expected. He actually made an attempt to hide his frustration, but it became more and more obvious as the class dragged on and their potion went ever more awry. And as Draco grew more frustrated, Neville grew more fumble-fingered. But when the cauldron eventually went over it was actually Draco's fault, having moved too abruptly in his frustration. As he watched it go over he froze, aware of all the eyes in the room trained on him.
Except they weren't. Snape was glaring at Neville, snapping, "You malcoordinated idiot! You had all summer to learn this! You'll return after classes to re-do the work!" That wasn't at all fair, but Neville said nothing, just turned red and nodded, then grabbed a towel and began wiping up the mess. Draco picked up his books to move, and Neville looked up. "I needed to start over anyway. If you hadn't been paired with me you'd probably have worked the potion correctly."
Draco couldn't take any more nobility, his stomach was spinning. He swept past Neville, toward where Crabbe and Goyle seemed to have completed their potion with some measure of success, attempting a haughty expression. But he realized he HAD been done a favor, and Malfoy honor demanded something of him. "I owe you," he muttered. Neville's jaw dropped for the second time, but as Draco continued on his way he turned back to wiping up the spilled potion. Draco realized that his stomach felt a little better after saying that, and that he hadn't noticed it bothering him while he was concentrating on trying to be nice to Neville.
[Need to rewrite the following - I think Neville should be in the bathroom when they start, as the timing is too coincidental.]
Draco was engaging in the minor amusement of having Goyle flush a second-year's head in the third floor boy's bathroom when Crabbe (who was supposed to have been watching the hall, but was watching the fun, instead) was whacked by the door as it slammed open. ("Longbottom, in too much of a hurry. As always," thought Draco. "Does the little twit have a bladder the size of a walnut?") He couldn't get over the habit of thinking of Neville as small, although Draco was the shorter, now. Neville had shot up over the summer between his fifth and sixth years, but he was lankey and his shoulders were stooped.
Once inside the door, Neville got halfway accross the bathroom, headed for the stall on the far end, before he took in what was happening here, and paused. He looked from Goyle and the weakly struggling second-year boy, and then to Draco, and back. His eyes grew even larger, the whites showing all around. Goyle pulled the second-year's head out of the toilet, and the boy ceased struggling, but didn't open his eyes.
Neville looked at Draco again, and if anything looked even more like a terrified rabbit. Which was why Draco was completely unprepared to find himself pinned against the wall by Longbottom's body, his forearm accross Malfoy's throat. "Make him stop, NOW, Malfoy!"
"He _has_ stopped, Longbottom," Draco managed to gasp out, "hadn't you noticed?" Crabbe plucked Neville off of him and held him easily. But Neville seemed not to notice, completely focussed on Draco.
"Don't you have any idea how dangerous that is?!"
"What, getting his head a little wet? Big deal. What are you going to do, anyway, bash my head in yourself?"
"I won't have to if you manage to kill the kid by accident. You're father will probably do it for me. It'd be a hassle for him to cover up."
Draco hesitated at that. If there was anyone he was honestly afraid of, it was his father. He may as well check to make sure the kid wasn't really experiencing anything more than a wet head. In fact, the kid still hadn't opened his eyes, yet. "Bring him here," he commanded Goyle. Goyle laid the second-year out on the floor where Draco had signaled him to, and the kid did appear to have passed out. His lips were a little blue. Draco turned paler, if that were possible given his normal pallidness. He hesitated, his mind frozen.
"Get Madam Pomfroy," Longbottom commanded, but Goyle and Crabbe, well trained, were looking to Malfory for their orders. Crabbe did, however, let go of Neville, turned to Draco and grabbed his upper arms, shaking him and yelling in his face, "Make them get Madam Pomfroy!"
"Yes," Draco turned his face toward them, the blood rushing in his ears, "Go. Get her."
They made haste now, though Crabbed looked back over his shoulder as they left.
"We need to get the water out of his lungs and make him breath. Move, Malfoy! Don't you kow how to do this?"
Draco was in a sort of trance, it seemed. He could hear Longbottom yelling at him, but it wasn't making sense. He was haken again, and his hands were moved for him. "This is what you need to do, Draco," Neville's voice was strong and commanding, somehow calming, "Do this. _Do_ this. When I tell you, push. _Push_." He pushed when told, repeatedly. Water gushed from the boy's lungs, and then puke spewed out of him. Neville was clearing the boy's mouth with his fingers, and then kissing him. How could he stand to do that, with the puke? And why was he? Draco suddenly felt envious, remembering the feel of Neville's body leaning against him a few moments ago. But there wasn't anything he was going to be able to do about that at the moment. He had to take orders. Neville was in charge, and this was very comforting to him at the moment. Then he realized that what Longbottom was doing was not kissing the boy, but breathing air into his lungs. He was almost disappointed, as he was feeling very fascinated with watching this, but he was caught up in everthing Longbottom was doing at them moment. He'd never imagined this most mousey seeming kid could take charge as he had, and he had to admit to himself that he was impressed.
Madam Pomfroy burst through the door with a gurney, and Neville stood aside. Draco still knelt where he'd been put, watching Longbottom, until Neville came over and helped him to his feet. "Are you okay? I think he'll be alright, now. At any rate, we've done all we can. You don't look so good."
Draco began to come out of it, time speeding up again. "I'm okay. Thank you. Well done, Lonbottom." He cringed inwardly at the formal sound of his words, but knew he needed to use that to regain his composure. Yes, he did feel intensly toward Lonbottom at the moment. He wasn't sure quite what he was feeling, but it was intense. "You were... good. I owe you."
Nevill was watching him closely. He shrugged and muttered, "Don't worry about it. If you're okay, well..." he looked around, watched Madam Pomfroy leave with the boy, who seemed to be breathing again. "I guess I still have to use the stall." Then he was shutting the stall door behind him and Draco was suddenly alone. He stood in the middle of the restroom and wondered what he was supposed to do now.
Draco wandered into History class with Crabbe and Golyle on either side of him, attempting to act like himself, and dreading seeing Neville there. Yes, there he was, right where he always sat, by the window, where he got distracted by anything that caught his eye outside. He looked over at the motion of someone entering the classroom, saw it was Draco, and quickly turned back to watching at the rain falling outside. Draco dropped into his chair gracelessly, distracted by sudden nausea. Yet it was somehow a pleasant nausea. After a moment he realized Crabbe and Goyle were watching him, and he was still staring at Neville. "I don't feel well," he muttered.
They accepted this readily. It was well known that almost anything Draco ate might disagree with him. He mechanically took out his scroll and quill and took notes as Binn lectured, concentrating on not looking at Longbottom. Concentrating hard on not thinking about Neville's body pinning him to the wall, his breath constricted by the arm accross his throat. The passionate and commanding Neville, different from anything he'd known before. He was suddenlty taken with a daydream of walking over to Neville's chair and kneeling next to him, and of Neville just placing one of his calming hands on the back of Draco's neck. Everything would feel alright, then. And he imagined how it would look to all of the others in the class - the shock and disgust on the faces, especially those of the Slytherins, who knew a Malfoy was born to command. His mouth was dry, but his throat was full of saliva. he forced himself to swallow, and came swimming up out of the daydream realizing that he was staring at Neville again, Crabbe and Goyle were staring at him, and that, thankfully, his robe was hiding a very solid hard-on. Neville was completely oblivious, gazing out the window.
Draco managed to wink at Crabbe, then ripped a corner off his scroll. He popped it in his mouth, chewed it until he had a good spitball, then took a straw and, when he had Crabbe and Goyle watching, but Binn wasn't, he launched the sticky wad of paper into Longbottom's hair. Neville jolted, touched the back of his head and came away with the spitball. He looked around, flicking the soggy paper off his fingers disgustedly. Draco felt a thrill run through him at the anger on Neville's face. He grinned. Neville spotted the grin, his eyes widened, he went pink, and turned quickly back to the window, his shoulders stiff. Draco felt a little guilty, which he shoved back as well as he could. He shouldn't be treating someone who'd helped him so much that way. But he was irrationally delighted to have gotten Neville to look at him.
Draco was walking through the darkening halls alone, having shaken Crabbe and Goyle by saying he had one of his stomache aches and needed to go out for a walk. Generally what that actually meant was he had to go throw up. But this time, even though his stomach was full of tension, he actually wasn't headed directly toward the bathroom. He was thinking about Neville, and the tension in his belly felt much more pleasant when he just allowed his thoughts to muse on the curves and angles of Longbottom's face and body. But it felt worse when he thought about having put that spitball in his hair. He really shouldn't have. Only, Neville's anger was ... interesting. An echo of the passion he exhibited when he'd stood up to Draco about the second-year.
He wandered aimlessly, and found himself nearing the Gryffendor wing. When he rounded a corner and came face to face with Neville, his heart lept into his throat, yet somehow it was almost like he'd been anticipating this exact eventuality.
A glower crept slowly over Neville's face. He obviously had been thinking about something else, something much more pleasant. "You. You *owe* me, hm? You said that twice, and now it seems what you meant by it was you owed me a spitball to the back of the head." He advanced on Draco, his normal hesitancy overcome by his anger.
"Are there any bathrooms in this wing? I seem to have gotten turned around on the stairs. Could you show me the way? Please?"
At the word "please," which he'd never expected to hear from any Malfoy, Longbottom was taken aback. "Okay. Sure. I can hit you when we get there."
It seemed like a long time, but it was probably moments until they had navigated the halls (both watching for other people, neither wanting to be seen in the other's company) and arrived at the nearest restroom. Draco entered first, then turned immediately to face Neville as the door swung shut. "Going to hit me, now?"
"You said you were going to hit me. And I certainly deserve it, I've been horrible to you. I always have been horrible to you. You really have the right to just thrash me." As he said this, Draco was aware, again, of feeling powerfully turned-on. He couldn't seem to stop the words tumbling out, though his voice dropped to a whisper; "I've been such a worthless shit to you and your friends. Wouldn't you like to take out your anger on me?"
"You can't be... what... are you suggesting?"
Draco drew nearer to Neville, turning his eyes up to him, doing his best to do big, pleading eyes, though he really wasn't familiar with that mode. "I don't know," but he did know, he was picturing it all too vividly, and getting more turned on by the moment. "Your anger is amazing to watch, impressive. And you have an incredible ability to take charge. I never imagined. Take charge of me. Punish me for what I've done. I deserve it. Maybe you could teach me... how to be a better person. Like yourself." Here he dropped his head, aware he was exposing the back of his neck. He actually did mean the things he said, but he also was very aware that he was putting on a good performance to get the effect he wanted.
And, it worked. Longbottom let out a gutteral noise as he reached down and pinned Draco's arms to his sides and began biting, then kissing, the back of his neck, nudged Draco's head to the side and then back as he worked his way around. He shifted his grip so Draco's wrists were behind his back, both held by one of Neville's hands, so that he could place his other at the back of Draco's neck and hold his head for a hard kiss to his mouth, long and deep.
He broke for a moment to ask, "Was that the sort of thing you meant?"
"Yes!" replied Draco, in an exhalted, hoarse whisper.