Gliding on silent wings, the owl balanced on the wind. The countryside below glowed as if lit by a torch, snow capturing the light of the waning moon. The windows of the owlery – dark to human eyes but secrets bared to an owl's – offered sanctuary from the cold. The owl beat its wings, slowing its rapid descent and then flew through the largest of the windows.
He settled on a cold stone perch trailed with droppings, next to a large white owl.
He heard the other owls' interest in him, the sounds of feathers ruffled as a challenge, the click of beaks sharp with suspicion. The owl next to him sat tense and alert. Yet none attacked him.
He fluffed his feathers against the cold and turned to the snowy owl.
Nearly an hour passed before the owl finally shook out her wings and flew from the owlery. He waited, shifting from one foot to the other. A few minutes later, she flew back in, alighting next to him.
But he'd already heard the crunch of boots on snow. He flew down to the floor of the owlery and transformed. A quick hand through his hair to settle white locks into place and a tug at his cloak, and he was ready. A man loomed in the doorway.
"Potter," Draco Malfoy said.
The meeting was not going well, not that his expectations had been high when he'd agreed to come. Draco was poised to transform in a heartbeat.
"Don't trust him, Harry," Weasley repeated, yet again. As if Potter didn't already know it. Draco rolled his eyes.
"He'd be an idiot if he did," he said, carefully curling his lip into the sneer that he knew Weasley hated the most. "I'm not here because you need to trust me. I'm here because Snape needed a message sent and I was the only one he could trust. It has nothing to do with you."
"He managed to convince Hedwig to come get me," Potter said. "I trust her. But I don't trust any message from Snape."
"I told him you'd say that." Draco smiled, pleased to be proven correct. "So he told me to tell you this: he'll tell you where the Horcruxes are, as well as when they can be gathered and how to destroy them. In return, he wants safe passage from England for us if you actually manage to overthrow the Dark Lord."
"And if I don't?"
Draco let his contempt show. "We're not free, but we're alive and on the winning side, in that case."
"Playing both sides of the fence," Weasley said, his voice disgusted.
Idiot. He'd likely turn out to be wand-fodder at some point. Draco snorted. "I prefer freedom, as does the professor. We're willing to gamble to get it. Besides," he noted with narrowed eyes, "you need us. It would take you years to do what we can help you do in months."
"What if He-Who – Voldemort – finds out what you're doing?"
Trust the Mudblood to ask the question that froze his heart each time he thought it. "We have that taken care of, thanks." He was almost sure that he'd managed to sound as haughty as ever. "You just do what you're told."
"So how do we know that we can trust you?" Potter asked.
"Took you long enough to ask." Draco pulled the parchment Snape had given him from his pocket. "Everything you need to know is written here. Read it quickly – Snape spelled it to turn to ash within five minutes of the time I give it to you."
Potter took the parchment and gave it to Granger, who immediately began to pore over it. "Is that it?"
Draco nodded. "I'll be waiting in the Forbidden Forest for the next three nights. Send your owl with your reply." Without waiting for an answer, he transformed and launched himself from the ground.
A few beats of his wings and he was out of the owlery and high above Hogwarts. The last thing he saw before he lost himself amongst the trees was the flash of moonlight off Potter's glasses.
Snape was waiting for him, a column of darkness deeper than the shadows. Draco landed in front of him and transformed, brushing his clothing clean.
"Did Potter take the note?"
Draco straightened. "Did you think he'd pass up an opportunity to play the hero?"
Snape shook his head. "Inside."
Draco followed Snape into the ramshackle pit he called home. He wrinkled his nose at the pervasive smell of coal smoke, dust and mildew. Why Snape didn't cast some kind of cleaning charms, he'd never understand – the man's quarters at Hogwarts had always seemed, if not pristine, at least respectably clean.
Draco sat in a wingback chair next to the sullen fire. He watched as Snape stood in front of one of the overcrowded bookcases, selecting books and rejecting them until he chose a slim volume bound in delicate leather. He turned and gave the book to Draco.
"I expect that you read the note before you gave it to Potter." Snape sat in a threadbare chair opposite Draco.
Draco nodded. "I saw that you'd spelled it to destruct after a second reading, so I presumed you wanted me to know what was in it."
"Are you familiar with the spell I described?"
"No." He lifted the slim book. "Is it in here?"
"That holds many ancient spells. All of them bind a soul in one way or another, some to death and beyond, others for shorter periods of time. Sigillum Secreti is one of the latter. I'll give you a few moments to read it."
Draco looked at the book he held and opened it. The binding felt cold yet supple against his hands. He skimmed past spells that made him shiver, pausing finally at the one that Snape had indicated. He read.
"'A spell to bind enemies to truth.'" He frowned. "So, you and Potter?"
"And someone to act as the Seal. It looks like it's usually a woman – makes sense, since it looks like the enemies have to fuck her at the same time."
"Don't be crude." Snape stood and snatched the book from his hands. "Yes, when it's been implemented in the past, the Seal was always a woman, usually the daughter of one of the men betrothed to the other as a political alliance. That way, both parties had a vested interest in keeping her alive."
Draco wrinkled his nose in disgust. "But why would you want to bind yourself to Potter so you could tell each other the truth. Unless…" he thought quickly and shook his head. "No. I can't see any way that could benefit the Dark Lord. But," he shrugged, "I'm sure you'll tell me."
"When you need to know," Snape agreed.
"So who's going to be the Seal? Not McGonagall!" Draco's eyes widened. "You asked for her to be there. Are you and Potter going to –?"
"No, you idiot. We'll need her to cast the binding incantation."
"Granger?" Draco grimaced. "She's not much better as a choice, is she?"
Snape shook his head. "It has to be someone that they believe that I won't allow to be harmed."
"But that's just…oh." Apprehension flooded him. Surely Snape didn't mean– "You aren't serious?"
Panic welled. "I won't!"
"You have to. McGonagall will ensure that Potter protects you."
"You can't make me," Draco snarled. "You're not my professor any more."
Snape studied him as he would an interesting potions ingredient. "Nor are you a student. You're a man, now, as much as it pains me to acknowledge that. A man, with a man's obligations."
"I swore an Unbreakable Vow to your mother, to protect your life."
"You–why would you do that? You thought I'd fail, didn't you!" Draco leapt to his feet. "You bastard! I knew it. Following me around all last year, trying to get me to tell you what I was doing. You just wanted all of the glory for yourself."
"Glory! You little fool. Do you think killing Dumbledore was glorious?" Spittle flew from Snape's lips.
"You've got the Dark Lord's favour, not I." Bitterness filled his heart. "Father is still in Azkaban."
Snape's eyes flickered away, just an instant, but long enough.
"What? What aren't you telling me?" Draco clenched his hands into fists.
Snape looked at him and then looked into the fire. "Your parents…"
"No." Draco collapsed into the chair again. "I don't want to hear this. Just shut up." He pulled his legs to his chest and hugged himself.
Snape sat again, silent.
Tears threatened, but since Potter had cursed him in the girl's lavatory, Draco refused to be that weak ever again. To cope, he shied away from accepting the depth of his loss. Instead, thoughts chased one after the other, trying to make sense out of something that made no sense at all.
Except. Part of him had known this would happen, had known it at some visceral level ever since his father had been sentenced to Azkaban. Malfoys didn't go to Azkaban, hadn't gone to Azkaban for centuries. Malfoys sent others to Azkaban.
He hugged himself tighter.
Nothing would be the same. His father, the most powerful wizard he'd known, killed at the whim of his Master, who would also kill Draco if he ever found him.
He needed to know.
"Was it…?" He swallowed and ignored the burning in his nose and throat and chest. "Quick?"
Snape said nothing. Inside Draco keened, his grief almost too much to bear at that moment. He wished he knew a spell that could make it all go away, make the past right, bring back his fierce, cold father and his lovely, cold mother, whole and unmarked, looking at him with the approval they would never speak, because Malfoys never spoke of such things.
But unspoken or not, the feelings had been there, and they had been real. Had been his.
Had. Because he was the only Malfoy left.
"Why did He wait so long? It's been months since I…" Since he'd failed. Since he'd signed his parents' death warrants.
"The Dark Lord took Azkaban last night. His plans are nearly complete."
"And me? Does He want me dead, too?" Because if He did, what was he still doing alive? Why hadn't Snape killed him?
"He has spared you thus far," Snape said quietly. "He wants you to know the extent of your failure. He may give you another chance."
Draco glared; it was better than crying. "Don't patronize me. He wants me dead, too." The Dark Lord would destroy the Malfoys, if only to prove that it was in His power to do so. An example for the other purebloods.
Snape again said nothing, his silence confirmation enough. Draco looked away.
The fire burned down to grey embers laced with red hearts pumping below the surface of the coals.
He finally found the courage to whisper, "Why haven't you turned me over to Him?"
Snape sighed. "I don't want you to die."
"You'll give me over to Him quick enough if it's your arse on the line."
Snape stared into the fire. "You're right," he said, eventually. "But not for the reasons you think."
"And what do you think I think your reasons are?" Draco knew he was being petulant, but it was better than feeling completely helpless. A small measure of dignity could still be his.
"Cowardice. Loyalty to Our Lord. Eagerness to be in his good favour."
"You're right." Draco stared at Snape. "So why haven't you handed me over to him?"
Snape met his eyes. "Because. I need to survive, and to survive, I need to have hope. Perhaps, just perhaps, I may be able to get you through this alive."
"And what would that accomplish?"
"Maybe nothing. But you're intelligent. If you get through this alive, you'll have connections, resources to fall back on. Something may come out of it."
Draco sat, silent. "You're not telling me everything." he finally said. "Your little speech about hope is pitiful. I'm insulted you thought I'd buy it for even a moment."
"Ah." Snape stared into the fire. "Well, perhaps it was the Vow I made to your mother."
"You fulfilled that Vow."
"I have an investment in you, boy. You owe me a life debt."
"So you'd keep me alive to be Potter's fuck toy."
"To be Potter's salvation." Snape's eyes glinted in the dark room. "He's a fool. He won't survive without someone who understands the world as it is, not as he wants to see it."
"That's –" Draco glanced around and hissed at Snape. "You'll get us both killed if you say things like that."
"I told you what to tell Potter – we want our freedom. Did you think that was a lie?"
"I thought you just wanted him to think you're going to help him! I didn't know you meant it." Draco felt like unseen eyes were watching him; the hair at the back of his neck stood up.
"Use your head. Under the Dark Lord, we live by His grace, nothing else. We walk under constant threat of torture and death. If Potter should win, we may have a chance to live a life – if not free of fear, at least knowing that our fate is one that may be avoided, with luck and planning."
"I could take this to His Lordship," Draco whispered.
"Not without dying yourself," Snape replied. "You owe me a life debt, Draco. If you cause my death, through action or inaction, you'll share my fate."
Draco chewed his knuckles, weighing his options.
They were non-existent.
"If I betray you, I die. If I stay here, I'll die. If we get caught, we'll die."
"If the Dark Lord falls, we have a chance to live."
Not much of one, especially if they had to rely on Potter. Yet…. "I'm the last Malfoy."
"Then make it count."
Draco met Snape's blazing eyes. "Right." Swallowing and taking a deep breath, he straightened his shoulders. "So, Severus – what's your plan?"
Severus' lip twitched. "To make sure Potter wins, Draco."
The flush that Draco felt didn't seem to be entirely caused by grief and fear. He dropped his eyes and wondered when he had begun to think of Severus Snape as a friend, not just another adult controlling his life.
Draco glanced outside. A splinter of moon sliced a sky rotten with stars. A night for hunting. Or being hunted.
Severus had better be right.
He scratched his stomach, the slide of feathers only a spell away beneath his skin.
A Malfoy never looks down, his father's voice whispered.
He met Severus' eyes with his chin in the air.
"It's time," Severus said.
Draco's mouth went dry. He nodded.
"Draco," Severus seemed to hesitate. "Drink this." He held out a goblet.
The liquid within seemed to reflect the night with a shimmer as from the moon.
Draco frowned. He'd never seen the potion before and though he wracked his mind, he could find no memory of black swirled with silver. He eyed the goblet.
"It's a potion to help you relax," Severus said. "I don't want you fighting with Potter. We can't afford it."
"I won't fight."
"You will." He seemed surer of himself. "This will cause you no discomfort."
"I'm not worried about an upset stomach." Draco searched Severus' eyes, but as always, they gave away no secrets. "What about what you always told us in class? 'Never drink a potion you don't know?'"
Severus' lips twisted. He looked approving. "It's called 'Occultus'. We don't have time for you to research it at the moment, but I assure you it's harmless. Its effects last less than three hours. If we're still with Potter by then, it will be because we're in chains."
Damn. He'd deliberately tried not to think about the possibility of being taken prisoner. He glared at his professor.
Severus sighed. "You must decide. I pledge to you that I will allow no harm to come to you as far as it's in my power to protect us. Will you trust me?"
And that was the crux of the matter. Did he trust Snape? The man had killed Dumbledore for him, true, but he would have died from the Unbreakable Vow if he hadn't, so altruism certainly wasn't his primary motive. No Unbreakable Vow held him now.
But Draco owed him his life. The last thing a wizard should ever allow to happen to him. 'Die first,' his father had told him. 'Malfoys serve no one.'
He gritted his teeth. Lucius should have followed his own advice and stayed away from the Dark Lord.
"Give it to me."
The potion seemed to caress his mouth, silky and sharp with spice and lemon, smoky like the Barolo the house-elves served with steak. He felt his skin tighten; his nipples hardened in response and he shivered as he set the empty goblet on the table.
Severus was right; he did feel more relaxed, yet his mind still seemed sharp and aware. The room focused as it did when he changed into his Animagus form. Shadows hid nothing, their edges vague as spider webs; he could smell the potion and himself and Severus' stale sweat.
He smiled. The meeting with Potter promised to be interesting. He imagined himself cool and calm as Potter raged. Yes, maybe the potion had been a good idea.
Severus' eyes were strangely gentle. "Come," he said. "It's time."
The owlery gleamed in the moonlight, illuminating the area around it. Potter, Granger, Weasley and Professor McGonagall stood waiting for them.
Severus put his hand on Draco's arm and they halted.
Potter spoke. "Your note was pretty cryptic. You're lucky we figured out that you meant to meet us here, tonight."
"You have Granger," Severus said. "I had little doubt you'd be here." He nodded to Professor McGonagall. "Minerva."
Draco shivered. Severus' voice had always been deep, but somehow here, in the night with their enemies near, it caressed his spine like velvet.
A wave of arousal flooded him.
"Tell me why I shouldn't call the Ministry immediately," McGonagall said.
"Albus told me to turn to you when I needed it," Severus said quietly.
McGonagall and Severus looked at each other for a moment and then she shook her head. "This spell – is there no other way?"
"Would you trust me without it?"
She sighed. "Probably not."
Draco felt Severus relax the slightest bit and leaned into him. Severus' hand on the small of his back felt good. Very good. He shifted uncomfortably and felt himself being to harden. He flushed.
Severus' hand moved a bit, sliding closer to the curve of his bum.
In an instant, he was hard. He fought it, but heat flared through his body. He tried to ignore it, to focus on the conversation.
Potter was frowning. "I won't risk Hermione as the Seal."
"She was never intended to be."
"Then who –? Not Ron!"
Draco moaned. Everyone looked at him. He leant against Severus, his professor's body hard and tense beneath the soft cushion of his robes.
"What's wrong with him?" Potter sounded almost Slytherin, suspicion sharp in his voice.
Draco tried to muster a glare. "None of your business."
Granger looked worried. "You've given him something, haven't you? Draco's going to be the Seal."
Of course. He bit his lip; the sharp pain only seemed to fuel his impatient lust. The potion. It had to be. How fucking humiliating. "Professor –"
Potter was staring at him in disgust. The prude. "I won't do it."
"I expected as much," Severus sneered. He pulled Draco close to him. "Fine. But you won't find them without my help."
His deep voice entered Draco's body not through his ears, but through his back where they pressed together. He squirmed, but Severus held him tight. He realised the others were looking at him again.
He'd be damned if he'd let Potter think he couldn't handle this.
He stopped struggling; instead, he dropped one hand to direct Severus' increasingly erotic touches and reached back to grab his arse with the other. "I know what I'm getting into," Draco said. "Do you, Potter?"
"I reckon you better do it, Harry." Weasley's voice had deepened since they'd left school just a few months ago.
"No, really. It's Malfoy. Who cares? As long as it's not one of us."
"But," Potter's gaze flickered down Draco's body and rested on his groin. "I've never –"
Draco knew his aching cock tented his robes. He sneered and arched to show its size. Let Potter deal with it.
"Spare us your virgin blushes, Potter," Severus said. "Will you do it or not?"
"All right then!"
Potter was so predictable. He'd heard the professor use that voice on Potter a million times in Potions; it always made the stupid Gryffindor spark like a Catherine's wheel.
Potter began to take off his clothing. He paused as he unzipped his trousers. "Hermione…"
Granger flushed. "C'mon, Ron," she mumbled.
"Ron." Potter was begging.
"Right." Glaring, Weasley allowed Granger to pull him out of the owlery.
Potter glanced at McGonagall and then slowly pushed down his trousers.
Draco had been so engrossed in the little scene playing out in front of him that he hadn't noticed Severus' actions. A wash of cold air made him gasp. He looked down.
His clothes were gone. Behind him, he felt the heat of Severus' naked body pressed along the length of his own. Severus' hand slid down to cup his aching cock.
"Severus," he moaned. Around him, he felt the slice of hundreds of eyes – the owls, watching.
"Shhh. This won't take long," Severus whispered.
Draco pressed against him. "Cold."
A tent materialized around them even as Severus finally allowed him to turn into his warmth. Sweet incense replaced the harsh acidic smell of droppings. Draco nuzzled into Severus' neck, brushing his nose and lips over bristle-rough skin. Sound, movement – he found himself lowered onto a soft surface and looked up to see McGonagall's dismayed face. His eyes slid away before their gazes could meet.
"This is wrong," he heard McGonagall say. "The boy is drugged. I can't –"
"Fine," Severus snarled. He knelt by Draco's side. "I'll take Draco and go back to His Lordship. See you in hell." He clutched Draco's arm and raised his wand.
"No! No," she said. "But isn't there some other way?"
Severus turned to him, black eyes glittering with anger and lust.
"You read the spell. Do you consent to be the Seal?"
He was out of options. He'd simply have to brazen it out. "Just get on with it!"
Severus turned to McGonagall. "I think that's answer enough."
"It isn't and you know it," she said.
Potter was naked; he stood and silently watched them. Draco was gratified to see that his half-hard cock was only average. Stupid uptight wanker. Sex magic wasn't common, but it wasn't unheard of, either. He rubbed his own hard cock against Severus' thigh and reached for Severus' prick. Severus batted his hand away. He bit Severus' neck in retaliation and then licked the impressions his teeth left.
McGonagall shook her head again, but stopped as Potter spoke. "He's right. Let's do it."
"Let's do it," he repeated firmly and began to stroke his cock. "It's everyone's best chance to get through this damned war alive. He can hate us all he likes for the rest of his life if we get through this." He knelt at Draco's other side, close enough that Draco felt the heat from his body, and glared at Severus. "What do we do?"
"We'll both need to penetrate him simultaneously." Severus looked at McGonagall. "You'll have to do the binding incantation and wand work. I'll prompt Draco at the proper moment. Potter, do you know your part of the incantation?"
Potter nodded. "Do we have to," he waved his hand, "you know – at the same time?"
"The spell will make sure we ejaculate at the proper moment."
Potter's flush turned deeper.
Draco relaxed as Severus stroked his leg, coaxing it up. He abandoned himself entirely to the drug now, eager for Severus' touch.
"Draco." Severus' voice sounded husky.
"Once Minerva begins casting the spell, you must listen to me." He waved his wand and Draco felt an emptiness in his bowels, followed by a tingle in his arsehole. "When she has completed the incantation, you must repeat these words: Clavsa secreta tego."
"Clavsa secreta tego," Draco whispered.
"Yes. I'll remind you, but remember the words."
Clavsa secreta tego. He rolled the words over in his mind, but then he felt Severus' fingers stretching him and words fled. So glorious, the long fingers stroking, the big hand holding his leg still, poised between pleasure and restraint. He tried to move, but Severus held him firm.
"Potter, lie down." Draco felt Potter lie down next to him. "Stop looking at me like that. You'll need to penetrate Draco first."
"What d'you mean, 'first'? You don't mean that we're both – No!" Potter scrambled away. "We'll split him in two!"
"Get back here." Severus' voice was harsh, though his hands remained gentle in Draco's body. He pressed something inside and Draco involuntarily arched, eager for more touches – just – there. Yes. Fire flared.
So brilliant. Why hadn't he tried this before?
"Get down here, Potter."
"We don't have much time," McGonagall said. "This is a moon-phase spell. We need to complete the spell at midnight exactly, or we'll have to wait for the next new moon."
"Look, we'll hurt him!"
Severus pressed again and Draco's eyes rolled back in his head. He needed more. Dimly, he heard Severus say, "If we do this right, he'll feel nothing but great pleasure. Lie down, now!"
Potter sank back down by Draco's side. Severus nodded and lowered Draco's leg.
"Draco, you need to straddle Potter."
Draco rolled over and onto Potter. He rubbed against him, rutting into the crease between Potter's thigh and hip. Potter looked up at him, his face flushed with apprehension and lust; behind him, he could feel Severus' hands part the cheeks of his arse. He found himself face to face with Potter, the idiot's damned glasses nearly poking him in the eye.
"Take them off," he ordered.
Potter took off his glasses and tossed them aside. He squinted up at Draco.
"Green," he breathed. "I never noticed." He raised an eyebrow and leaned forward. "Very pretty, Potter." He drew his tongue up Potter's bristled throat and over his chin. Potter's eyes widened. Draco's mouth curled into a smirk as he dove for Potter's lips.
Something more substantial than Severus' fingers pierced him. He swallowed Potter's moans with his own. Beneath him, Potter's hips began to move – push, slide – each stroke deeper than the one before. He seemed to gain confidence as he sank into Draco's body. His pace quickened; Draco groaned with pleasure.
He lost himself in the rhythm of the fucking. Potter's chest was sharp and warm beneath his hands. Sweat dripped from his face to Potter's, mixed and ran in small crooked paths, prompting him to lean forward again and lick along the trails, following them down to a small pool of sweat in the hollow of Potter's throat.
A pink nipple beckoned. He covered it with his mouth, nipping and licking. Potter gasped and thrust harder.
Then slippery fingers entered him again, stretching him even more. A heavy weight settled over him. The fingers rolled and scissored exquisitely, pressing against Potter's cock before they withdrew. A hand grasped his hip; he felt another warm, slippery bluntness pushing slowly against his arsehole.
Whimpering, he felt himself stretch impossibly wide to allow the second invasion. "Hurts."
"Just a bit more, you're doing well," Severus panted in his ear. Draco could feel sweat dripping on his back and bit his lip.
"Oh God, oh God," Potter chanted below him. "So tight."
Severus continued to guide his prick in against Potter's. Finally, with a grunt, his hips met Draco's arse.
He was in.
Draco thought he was going to split open. "Wait. Please."
"Angle your hips up, Potter." Severus' voice rasped, his breath hot against Draco's neck. Draco felt a hand on his cock. "More."
The pressure suddenly didn't feel like it was pulling him apart; now it was focused, centred. Severus pushed against him, and Draco gasped, Potter echoing the sound.
"Potter, say it."
"You first," Potter said, his face contorted.
"Fine." Severus thrust again and Draco tried to arch his back to feel the hot length of his body. Severus pushed him down until he was chest to chest with Potter.
"Tibi verum dicam."
Draco moaned as heat built through him. Magic flowed from Severus' prick into his arse and through his blood. His heart raced, but the rush wasn't just physical – something was changing inside him, something much deeper.
"Tibi verum dicam," Potter gasped.
Dimly, Draco could hear McGonagall chanting, and then the second flood of magic overwhelmed him, spreading through his lungs and through his heart and guts. He keened. Magic roared through him, demanded he submit willingly. His prick ached, and he could barely feel Severus' hand pumping him. His balls gathered tight to his body.
"Move!" he ordered, and Severus and Potter obeyed. He rocked forward and back, jarred by the force of their thrusts. He needed more –
"Now, Draco. Say it."
As the words formed in Draco's mind, the magic within him spun together, a maelstrom of power choking him as it gathered in his mouth and prick.
"Clavsa secreta tego!"
He was blind, blind and coming, harder than he remembered ever coming before, his ears full of Severus' moans and his chest vibrating with Potter's choked cries. Power poured out of him and enveloped them all and poured back into him, a firestorm, until he felt each man in his soul, Potter blazing green, Severus burning black, himself a bright white light binding them together. Draco collapsed.
The magic slowly subsided, releasing him bit by bit until his mind and body were his own again.
"No," he choked.
But it was done. Only McGonagall could release him.
His head dropped forward to thump against Potter's heaving chest; he was crushed under Severus' limp form. He felt one prick, then the other, soften and slip out of his aching, abraded arsehole. Severus rolled off him and then Potter pushed him away. He sprawled across the soft pallet and stared at the ceiling of the tent, lost and damned and struggling not to cry.
Potter stared at him. "Malfoy, are you okay?"
"What do you think?" Draco couldn't stop a sob from escaping him. He threw an arm across his eyes. "Fuck."
A robe was draped over him. "Mr Malfoy – I'm…I'm impressed." And sorry, her tone implied, though McGonagall didn't say the words. A small favour, but one Draco appreciated.
Severus murmured a cleaning spell that tingled across Draco's skin. Careful hands tucked the robe around him. "Rest now. Potter and I will talk."
Draco remained silent. He really didn't give a fuck.
Bound. His life debt to Severus had bound him, but he'd never felt the ties, would never feel the ties unless through his actions, Severus lost his life. But this binding – this binding was different.
He could feel the other two men burn inside him. They crowded him out, stealing his magic, enslaving it to their needs.
His soul was no longer his own. It belonged to the other two men. He grieved silently. His life depended on honesty now. Severus' honesty. And Potter's.
He wondered just how long he had to live.
When they returned to Spinner's End, Severus insisted on examining Draco. Lying face-down on his bed, he shivered as Severus massaged ointment into his arsehole, healing tears that he hadn't felt.
But he could still feel Severus and Potter inside himself. Severus smouldered in him, an ember that flared and faded but held the heat of a furnace in its core. Potter burned, a clear flame, never flickering, never fading.
He felt like he couldn't breathe, his own spark smothered by their ashes.
"Draco, are you all right?"
He rolled over and sat up, pulling down his robes and not meeting Severus' eyes. "I'm fine."
Draco barely heard the apology, the words were spoken so quietly. But he felt Severus' burn inside him. "Can you or Potter lie to me?"
"No. Not if we want –"
"Want me to stay alive," Draco finished. "I get it."
"If there was any other way…"
"Would you have done anything differently?" There were probably dozens of other ways to bind Severus and Potter to be truthful with each other, he thought. This one just had the best potential to fuck up his life.
Severus didn't answer, which was answer enough, he supposed.
"The only person you ever remotely heeded was your father," Severus finally said. He unbuttoned his robes and sat in a chair by Draco's bed. "Left alone, without his guidance – you wouldn't survive even your first encounter with the Dark Lord."
"And tell me, Severus," Draco said, "just exactly how is this – spell – supposed to save me from His Lordship?" He glared at the other man.
Severus narrowed his eyes. Draco felt his mind being probed and threw up his Occlumency shields, but Snape slipped past them with ease. With a wrench, he turned his face away and broke eye contact before Severus could examine his memories about the spell.
"You won't be able to do that with His Lordship," Severus said. "He's too powerful a Legilimens. If we don't take precautions, He'll discover our duplicity."
"I'll be able to block Him. It's you I can't –" Too late, Draco tried to stop his words.
"You can't block me." Snape sat back in the chair and stroked his chin. "You've always been able to defend yourself from me to some extent, but you can't now. Perhaps it's because you're now essentially a vessel of truth." He dropped his hand and looked at Draco. "You've never had enough skill to oppose Him. Now He'll rip through your defences as if they're parchment."
Draco tried to swallow, but couldn't. "So you're saying I can't go to Him."
"We've known that all along, Draco." Severus sounded almost gentle. "He hasn't summoned you yet – you and your family haven't been His primary focus."
"He waited for my father and the other Death Eaters to be freed from Azkaban before punishing him and my mother," Draco whispered.
Severus nodded. "He'll want you to suffer that knowledge for a little while longer. But when He does summon you –"
"He'll kill me."
"I think it's a distinct possibility. Which is why binding you to Potter in some manner was necessary. However, it's also a vulnerability – you can't be allowed to be brought before the Dark Lord, because He'll find out about our plan."
"So what precautions do you want me to take?"
"I believe that you need to go to Potter and beg for sanctuary from Him."
Draco scrambled backwards until he pressed against the headboard. "No! I'm not going to Potter!"
"It's insane. We'll end up killing each other. Besides, if that's what you planned to do all along, why didn't you just leave me with him?"
"He needs time to adjust. Potter isn't the most flexible thinker in the world. Now he should have the proof he needs to assure him of our sincerity. The next step is to allow him to realise the extent of his responsibilities to the bond."
"He's an idiot."
"Granger will bring him around. I've no doubt that she's interrogating him in depth about the ritual and its effects. She'll point out the responsibilities to him. He listens to her."
"Severus." He struggled to cast his words in Slytherin allusions. "I want to stay with you."
His shoulders drooped in defeat. He hadn’t wanted to say it so bluntly. It seemed the bond wouldn't allow him to lie, even obliquely.
He'd have no secrets left by the time McGonagall dissolved the spell. It wasn't fair.
Severus sighed. "Tell me, do you think that's wise?"
"Please don't leave me alone with Potter," he whispered.
"I'll see you when next I meet with Potter."
Draco shook his head. "It's my risk. I want to stay with you."
"No!" Draco jumped off the bed and began to pace. "I've lost everything! Do you understand? Not just my father and mother, but my life, my freedom and now – this! I don't have anything else to lose, and I'm damned if I stay with Potter when –" he choked, "– when I don't have long. You're the last thing I've got. I want to spend that time with you."
Severus shook his head. "You're upset. I'm not really what you want, or what you need, for that matter. I'm just the most familiar –"
"You're the only one I've ever wanted!" Horrified, Draco collapsed on the bed and buried his face in his hands. "No," he moaned. He turned away as Severus came closer. A hand caressed his hair; he knocked it away and glared. "Don't you fucking pity me!"
"I don't pity you."
"But you don't feel the same way."
Severus shook his head. Draco didn't die, so he knew Severus wasn't lying.
He almost wished he'd died.
"Look," he said, struggling to recover some sort of dignity, "it doesn't matter. It never did. It's this fucking spell – it won't let me act normally."
"Like hiding secrets?" Severus' lip twitched.
"As if you don't," he snapped back. "This isn't normal. This whole situation. Just – just let me stay here. If I have to choose between the Dark Lord killing me here or at Potter's, I'd rather it were here."
Severus looked at him for a moment and then nodded. "All right. You can stay."
Draco raised his chin. "Thank you." He started to unbutton his robes. "It's nearly dawn. I'm going to bed."
He waited for Severus to leave the room.
Severus stood and paused. Draco stopped undressing and looked at him.
Severus' face was guarded. "If you would be willing, I would like to ask to share your bed."
Draco rolled his eyes. "I told you, don't pity me. I'm fine – other than I'm a walking dead man."
"You're not dead yet, idiot boy," Severus said. "And it's not pity. I may not feel the same thing you feel, but I do care for you. We could –" he paused and frowned, "offer comfort to each other."
"Offer comfort? Do you mean fuck like weasels?"
"Must you be so vulgar?"
"Will being vulgar stop you from sleeping with me?"
"Then yes, I must be so vulgar." He slid to the edge of the bed and stood, grasping Severus' face and devouring his mouth. Severus opened to him immediately.
Kissing him was like falling into a fire that gave no light. Snape's mouth was so deliciously dark, his hands wicked and taunting as he ran them down Draco's body to cup his arse tight. Draco rubbed his hardening prick against Severus', rewarded by an answering hardness rising to his own. They fell to Draco's bed. Clothing fell to the floor until hot, slick skin rubbed together in delicious, wicked ways.
As he lost himself in Severus' kiss, he gradually became aware of a fire growing inside. Not just the sexual burn he'd known since he'd first discovered the joys of sex with others, but something deeper. Foreign.
It was Severus. Inside his soul, in the place where he and Potter had lodged since they'd performed Sigillum Secreti.
He must have hesitated, because Severus paused. "We can wait," he murmured. "You must be sore."
A Malfoy always maintains control of a given situation. Lucius' words suddenly echoed in his mind.
He could feel Severus' desire burning inside him. There seemed to be no demarcation between those feelings and his own. Was he even feeling desire or was it all Severus'?
With a sinking heart, he realised that he needed to know the difference. He was a Malfoy. He'd be damned if the spell took any more from him than it already had.
"I can't do this."
Severus withdrew and studied him for a moment, then slipped out of the bed. Panic seized Draco.
"No, wait!" As Severus paused, Draco tried to make sense of his conflicting emotions. "Stay."
Severus looked at him for a moment, then lay back down, pulling the bed coverings over them. Tense and unhappy, Draco lay quietly beside him.
"This is ridiculous," Severus finally said. Rolling over, he pulled Draco close. "Shut up and go to sleep."
"I didn't say anything!"
Severus' disapproving silence spoke volumes. Draco sighed and tried to relax.
Eventually, he began to feel sleepy. Severus seemed to be dozing as well.
"Do you feel different? You know, after the spell?" he whispered, hoping not to be heard.
After a moment, Severus said, "No. Do you?"
Draco closed his eyes, defeated. He wished he could say 'no.'
Silence spoke for him, too.
He reread the passage yet again, though he knew it by heart.
Sigillum Secreti muste be performed between Lyte and Dark; Ayr and Earthe; the heartbeate of the Olde Moon dying and the Newe Moon's birthe. Midnight, as Goode and Evil laye themselves Equal wythin the Eagle's Aerye or the Cave's Depths, else Truth shalle not be helde Captyve, and All Will Be Lost in Lyes. Whyle One performs the…
Only a fool would allow himself to be bound by a spell like this, his father's voice told him.
…yntricacyes of Protectiones upon the Enemys to be Bounde, those to be Unyted muste enter the Seale togethere and recite thees fewe wordes: Tibi Verum Dicam – I wille tell you truthe. To whiche the Seal replies: Clavsa secreta tego – I enclose the secretes.
"'I cover the enclosed secrets'," Draco translated to himself. Severus and Potter, secret allies, their honesty to each other tied through him.
He agreed with his father. Only a fool would have submitted to this spell.
Sighing, he put the book down and began to chew his knuckle.
Severus was gone again, called by the Dark Lord. He'd begun to spend much of his time there, wherever 'there' was. Draco wondered if Potter's success with the destruction of the last Horcrux worried the Dark Lord, or for that matter, if He even knew of it.
According to Potter, the locket had been the third Horcrux destroyed to date, leaving three more to be destroyed before Potter could face the Dark Lord. Severus said that there was a prophecy about that, about Potter and the Dark Lord facing each other and one of them dying.
The damned spell didn't say what would happen to him if one or both of the people bound died.
The sharp crack of Apparition brought him to his feet, wand in hand.
Severus burst into the room. He paused, hand gripping the door so tightly that his knuckles were white.
"The Dark Lord wants you; I'm taking you to Potter's now."
"I'll get my…"
"No! There's no time, Draco." He crossed the room in two strides and gripped Draco's arm. "Now."
Severus Apparated them both.
They materialised in the hallway of what was obviously an old, very poorly maintained manor. Draco stumbled forward as Severus pushed him. He caught himself in time to see Potter, Weasley and Granger tumble out of a nearby room, wands drawn.
"Protect him!" Screams drowned the sound of Severus' Disapparation and Draco was left alone, covering his ears and staring at the three people he hated the most in the world.
"Malfoy!" Potter gestured with his wand. "Drop it."
Bewildered by the screaming, Draco realised that he still had his wand in his hand. He frowned and lowered his hands. "Don't be ridiculous, Potter. And what's that hideous screeching?"
Potter gestured and Weasley and Granger lowered their wands. While Potter watched him, they tugged at heavy curtains surrounding the picture of a woman he vaguely recognised from portraits at Malfoy Manor.
"Great-Aunt Walburga?" Draco crossed over to the portrait and blocked Weasley's attempt to pull the curtain closed. He tucked his wand in his waistband. "Is that you? Where am I?"
The screams abruptly stopped. "Who are you? And what are you doing with these Muggle-lovers and half-bloods, if you have Black blood in you?"
"I'm Draco. The son of your niece, Narcissa Mal – Black. Severus brought me here," he said. The old harpy looked half-mad, but he felt an absurd sense of relief knowing he had family in the house, even if it was only a portrait.
"Narcissa's boy? Snape brought you, you said? That traitor! You're just another one of them, aren't you? You're just another blood traitor!" She began screaming again, obscenities laced with the worst sort of derogatory names, ones that cut him to the heart.
He tried to deny her accusations, but couldn't. Horrified, he realised the spell prevented him from doing so. Because if he did, he'd be telling a lie.
He was a blood traitor.
Someone elbowed him aside and the heavy curtains were finally pulled shut, muffling her accusations. He was dragged into a sitting room and pushed down into a chair. A hot mug of tea was thrust at him. He accepted it and stared into its depths, watching the steam roil and dissipate just like every carefully-nurtured belief about himself he'd ever held dear.
He realised Potter had been trying to get his attention. He gathered himself. At least he had enough pride not to allow them to pity him. He looked up, a glare on his face. "What do you want?"
"What the hell are you doing here?"
Draco forced himself to sit, back straight, and put the mug on the table beside him. "You heard Severus. I need protection."
"Pissed off your Death Eater buddies?" Weasley asked. "Don't blame 'em if they want to kill you. No loss to anyone."
"Ron." Granger's voice chastised but held no real censure.
"Is Ron right?"
Draco met Potter's eyes with his chin in the air. "What do you think?"
Potter's eyes narrowed. "I think you're a coward and a liar. How do I know that Snape was telling the truth? What if he put you here to report back to him about our Horcrux hunt?"
"I don't believe you!" Draco shook with rage. The stupid idiot – what did he think Draco was risking his life for, anyway? "What the hell do you think we went through that damned ritual for? He can't lie to you. You can't lie to him. I –" he swallowed the truth that tried to pass his lips and substituted another, "– I'm stuck in the middle."
"He's right, Harry. If Snape lies to you, Draco will die."
Even though he knew they were true, Granger's words – so baldly stated – shocked him. "That's right, Mudblood," he sneered in retaliation.
He felt a flash of triumph at the pain that crossed her face. Then he was sprawled on the floor, Weasley pounding his face. He managed to ward off the worst of the blows, but by the time Potter and Granger had pulled the red-headed menace off him, he could feel an eye swelling shut. His lower lip stung; he wiped it with the back of his hand and wasn't surprised to see blood.
"Quit it, both of you," Potter said, completely ignoring the fact that Weasley was the only homicidal maniac in the room and he'd just been defending himself. Draco pulled himself upright, wiping more blood away from his mouth.
"Just show me a bedroom," he said, his lip curled. "I don't bother you, you don't bother me."
Potter stared at him for a moment, the green eyes that Draco remembered from the spell hidden behind light reflecting off the stupid glasses. Finally he gave a sharp nod. "Fine. Follow me."
He waited expectantly. Draco shot one last look of hatred at Weasley and the Mudblood and then followed. He fumed as he climbed the stairs after Potter. There had to be safer places for Severus to hide him than here. These three fools couldn't protect themselves, much less him.
Potter paused outside a room on the second floor and gestured. "In here."
Draco elbowed past him and looked. "You've got to be kidding."
The room was filthy. Dust covered every surface. The bedding looked as if it would disintegrate at a touch and the musty curtains covering the window moved ominously. Draco suspected they were infested with doxies. A mirror with blackened silvering hung in a dark corner. He eyed the wardrobe suspiciously – it seemed like the perfect place for a boggart to hide.
He turned to Potter. "I'm not staying in there. It's not fit for a dog."
"It's fit for you," Potter said. "If you don't go in voluntarily, I'm more than happy to throw you in and lock the door behind you."
Draco glared again. "Fine," he spat and stalked into the room. Potter shut the door and the room plunged into darkness.
"Lumos." Now that Potter wasn't there, the room felt even more forbidding. He lit the wall sconces; the flames stuttered and gave very little light.
Dredging half-remembered Household Charms learned in Flitwick's useless class, he dealt with the worst of the dirt and transfigured the rotten bedclothes into a semblance of clean coverings. He placed a number of protective spells, warding the door from intruders and the bed from any unpleasant surprises.
When the room was as secure as he could make it, he tried to use the mirror to heal the worst of the damage that Weasley had done to his face.
"Not so pretty now, are you my dear?" the mirror said.
"Mind I don't take a swing at you," he retorted. "I doubt you'd fare any better."
The mirror snorted but remained silent after that.
After healing his wounds, he Evanesco'ed the blood from his clothes and climbed into the bed. He undressed down to his pants and piled his clothes across the foot of the bed. Shivering, he crawled under the blankets.
He pulled a pillow over his head, but he still heard the words.
Blood traitor. Muggle lover. Filth. Consorting with Mudbloods.
Whispered, not in his great-aunt's voice, but in his father's.
During the next few weeks, he avoided the other three as much as possible, listening at his door until the house was quiet before setting out to find food and use the lavatory. Relieved to find a functioning bath on his floor, he fell into the habit of soaking in a warm tub of water late at night, ducking his head under and holding his breath to drown out all of the groans and murmurs haunting the old house.
Potter brought him a pile of oversized Muggle garments; with judicious spell work, Draco managed to shrink them to a wearable size. They smelled of broom polish and chocolate frogs. Potter's own, he surmised.
He avoided the front hall as much as possible.
But even though he didn't see much of Potter and his sycophants, their tension and grim determination pervaded the house.
The atmosphere echoed what he felt inside. He hadn't seen Severus since he'd been abandoned here. Draco would have wondered if he were even still alive, but he could still feel the warmth of Severus' presence in his soul, so he clung to the assumption that meant something.
Late one night he heard whooping from downstairs. Putting aside the book he'd taken from the library the previous night, he decided to investigate. He put on his shoes and robe and slipped out of his bedroom.
He winced as he recognized Great-Aunt Walburga's voice shrieking above the rest, but the noise drew him down the stairs and towards the library. He peered around the corner of the door.
Weasley was whooping and pounding Potter on the back. Potter had a daft grin on his face and Granger looked both relieved and elated.
All three of them were staring at a small wooden box lying on the table in front of them.
Weasley must have heard his derisive snort, because he whirled. His glee disappeared in a second, replaced by an ugly frown. "Malfoy! What are you doing here?"
"Finally lost it, have you, Weasley?" Draco drawled, determined not to back down now that he had been discovered. "I understand that worship of common household objects is an indication of mental instability."
Potter stood, shielding the table from view. "Just get out of here, Malfoy. It's none of your business."
A wooden box. Could it be…? "I think it's my business when it's my life on the line that got you Ravenclaw's reliquary," he said. Potter's flush confirmed it – the box on the table was one of the missing Horcruxes. He stepped forward. "Can I see it?"
Potter hesitated and then stepped aside. "Don't touch it," he said. "We haven't neutralised the curses on it yet."
Draco nodded, familiar with how to handle cursed objects from a lifetime of living amongst them. He looked closely at the box. "Have you tried the Desarmez class of curse breakers? The French have a real flare for it."
Granger frowned. "I'm not familiar with those."
"I'm not surprised. They're a pretty jealously guarded class of spells," he said. "They're also tricky to cast. Father always had a house-elf nearby just in case."
"Why would he do that?" Granger asked. "House-elves can't neutralise curses."
Draco snorted. "Of course they can't. But a curse can't tell them apart from a human."
"You mean that you let the house-elf be cursed if the neutralising spell didn't work?" Granger looked like she was going to be sick.
"Of course," he said. "You wouldn't expect that Father would take a curse himself, would you?"
"Who are you calling barbaric?" Draco straightened to his full height. "You didn't even know house-elves existed until you came to Hogwarts, I bet. Stupid, ignorant, Mud–"
"Shut it, Malfoy." Potter glared, his hands curled into fists. "You've seen it, now get out of here."
"Fine." Malfoy shrugged. "Don't blame me when it blows up in your face, though." He left.
He'd reached the first floor landing when an explosion rocked the house. He dropped into a crouch, wand drawn, frantically looking for the Death Eaters that he was sure had found them.
Silence, smoke and the smell of burnt hair and flesh met him.
Shaking, he crept down the stairs, following the smoke to the library. There was no sound from inside.
Draco closed his eyes. He could feel Potter inside him, so he was pretty sure that Potter, at least, was still alive. He opened his eyes and walked into the room.
Weasley was obviously dead. Very little of his face and upper body appeared to be intact; he must have taken the full force of what must have been a wicked Blasting Curse. Draco swallowed back bile and walked further into the room.
First priority, his father's voice whispered in his mind. Make sure the artefact is secured.
He approached the splintered library table cautiously. As he got closer he could see the intact reliquary lying amongst the wreckage.
"Contenez. Indiquez." The box glowed red and he bit his lip. The Blasting Curse was still active, as was a writhing black…something.
It must be the piece of the Dark Lord's soul contained inside the Horcrux. Hoping he remembered the correct motions, he waved his wand, said "Emprisonnez" and cringed.
Nothing exploded. The glow faded. The box looked normal.
Reluctant to push his luck, he left the Horcrux in the wreckage and made his way across the floor to Granger, who was face down just beyond the table. He reached down, pushing her bushy hair back so he could press his fingers against her throat. A feeble pulse greeted him. He murmured a general healing spell, hoped it helped and then looked around to find Potter.
It took a moment for him to realise that Potter was lying underneath Weasley's body. Fighting nausea, he rolled Weasley off Potter and bent over him.
Potter's glasses were shattered and he was soaked in blood, but he was breathing. How much of the blood was his and how much of it was Weasley's, Draco couldn't tell. He tried to examine Potter for wounds but didn't see anything obvious. After quickly casting a few general healing spells on Potter, he sat on the floor and tried to figure out what to do next.
Only Severus and McGonagall knew about Sigillum Secreti and of the two of them, he thought Severus would be less likely to assume that he had anything to do with Potter's injuries. McGonagall would likely bring Pomfrey or some Ministry Healer with her, while Severus would know more about treating Dark curse injuries than any idiot at St Mungo's or Hogwarts.
On the other hand, contacting Severus might be tantamount to signing his own death warrant if another Death Eater was nearby.
He chewed on the side of his thumb and stared at Potter's still face.
Finally he stood and walked over to the fireplace. Taking a handful of Floo Powder, he started a fire and threw the powder into the flames.
The fire flared green. Draco took a deep breath and plunged his head into it. He closed his eyes to avoid the sickening sight of watching hearth after hearth hurtle past him until the sensation of rapid movement disappeared.
He opened his eyes to find himself face to face with a furious Snape. "Are you alone?"
Snape knelt and snapped, "Yes, though it doesn't matter. I don't care how annoying Potter is, you can't return –"
Draco blurted, "There's been an accident – a Horcrux had a Blasting Curse protecting it. Weasley's dead and Granger and Potter are hurt pretty badly. I need help."
Severus looked around furtively and cursed. "Stand back," he said.
Draco scrambled out of the fire as Severus stepped through.
"The fools," he muttered as he surveyed the damage. "They should have known better than to try to disarm a Horcrux in a house so steeped in Dark magic." He looked down at Weasley's body with distaste before kneeling next to Potter.
Draco crouched next to him. "I tried to warn them."
Severus shot a glance at him. "And just where were you when this happened?" He cast a spell that made Potter's body glow pink.
"They'd just kicked me out of the library. I was halfway to my room when I heard the explosion."
Severus nodded and sat back. "Potter may have internal injuries, but he looks all right otherwise. I imagine Weasley took the brunt of the explosion."
"His body was on top of Potter's," Draco said. Now that Severus was here to take care of things, he felt sick again. Saliva flooded his mouth and he gagged.
In a flash, Severus pushed him onto his arse and shoved his head down. "I'm not dealing with you vomiting or fainting on top of everything else. Keep your head between your knees and take deep breaths."
Draco obeyed, though the smell of blood and burnt flesh didn't help. Beyond him, he heard the flare of the Floo and Severus issuing instructions.
"Minerva. Bring Poppy through immediately. Potter and Granger need medical attention."
"And Ron?" Draco heard McGonagall ask.
"Just get Poppy here now if you want your precious Gryffindors to live," Severus replied.
Within moments, McGonagall and Pomfrey were in the library. Draco cautiously lifted his head to watch them frantically working over first Potter, then Granger. They managed to rouse Potter, who was trying to sit up while McGonagall held him down and blocked his view of Weasley's body.
He looked up as Severus knelt beside him. "Is any of that blood yours?" Snape asked.
He looked down at his hands and clothes. He was covered in blood and other disgusting things; it had begun to dry and was flaking off his hands, leaving behind ugly brown stains on his skin. He shook his head.
Severus cast a Cleansing Charm on him. It helped, but Draco suspected that he'd need quite a few baths before he truly felt clean again. He'd simply burn the robes.
Pomfrey stood, levitating Granger's still form and guiding it to the fireplace. "Minerva, I need to take Miss Granger to St Mungo's immediately. They may be able to save her eyes if they act quickly. Could you take Potter to the infirmary? I'll be there shortly." She threw in a handful of Floo Powder and vanished, taking Granger with her.
"Where's Ron?" Draco heard Potter ask.
Draco watched as both Severus and McGonagall eventually had to stun Potter in order to restrain him in his rage and grief.
A week later and Potter was back.
The atmosphere in the house fairly crackled with tension. Draco had helped Severus destroy the Ravenclaw Horcrux, but there was still Hufflepuff's cup and Nagini left to dispose of before Potter could face the Dark Lord.
When Draco met Potter in the halls or the kitchen, Potter radiated hatred. Inside him, Draco could feel Potter's flame burning like a wildfire, no longer the clear blaze he'd come to know. It felt like Potter could explode at any moment.
Awkward and inexperienced at apologies, one day Draco tried to offer Potter mumbled condolences.
"Shut it, Malfoy. You're pathetic. Your father was an evil git and so are you. No one would miss either of you if you were gone."
Draco winced, waiting for the spell to kill him.
It didn't. Obviously, Potter spoke the truth as he saw it.
Draco tried to sneer, but the spell wouldn't let him.
He left the room instead.
Potter's flame turned from inferno to ice over the following three weeks. He seemed to look straight through either Draco or Severus each time he met them.
With the last Horcrux but one in front of him, Potter looked cold and competent.
He'd just brought Hufflepuff's cup to the mansion, even though Severus had ranted at him about his stupidity in doing so with Ravenclaw's reliquary. Exhausted and frightened, Draco watched Severus and Potter work.
Severus threw up a containment shield around Potter and the Horcrux, chanting a very Dark spell Draco had heard his father use once when he was opening the vault in the deepest part of Malfoy Manor, the one that only people with Malfoy blood could open.
Giving all his attention to Potter's actions, Draco watched as he began a complex incantation. Soon a wisp of smoky substance rose out of the cup. Potter cast a spell that destroyed the cup, but the wisp of smoke seemed to solidify a bit when he did.
Fuck. Potter was going to screw this up. Draco froze.
Suddenly, Potter drew his wand and pointed it at the wisp.
Severus' containment field exploded with green light. Draco caught a glimpse of the smoke crackling with green flame and ash falling to the floor before he shut his eyes to block out the glare of the spell.
When he opened them a few moments later, Potter was staring at the floor in disgust. He turned and walked past Severus, who had been knocked off his feet by the blast.
"It's your turn, Snape. Kill the snake so we can get this bloody war finished." He didn't look at Draco as he stalked out of the room.
Something felt wrong.
Severus and Potter were in the midst of yet another argument about Severus' lack of progress in killing Nagini.
Draco sneered at Potter automatically, but his mind was more occupied with watching their argument. He could swear that Potter was the source of the danger, though he didn't understand why or how. Potter was trapped in the house with him all the time these days.
"You're working for Him, aren't you?"
"Potter, how many times do I have to tell you? No! I'm doing my best to make sure that you succeed so I can get out of this country and leave all this behind."
"How do I know you're not lying?"
Severus rolled his eyes. "Because Draco would be dead if I were. You seem to keep forgetting about the spell."
"How do I even know the spell works? I don't feel any different, and neither of you are acting any different."
"Not acting different!" Draco was shocked. "Potter, I haven't been able to lie to you in months."
"So you say. But you're still the same stuck-up little coward you've always been, so why should I believe you?"
"Because," Draco sputtered, trying to come up with a reason that wouldn't betray him completely, "– ask McGonagall!" he ended triumphantly, and glared. "She knows the spell works."
"Snape's fooled her like you've tried to fool me. Well, it's not going to work. Because of your stupid tricks, Ron's dead and Hermione's in a coma."
Draco's mouth fell open. Potter's ravings made no sense whatsoever. "What stupid tricks?"
"Stop it, both of you," Severus said. He turned to Potter. "This arguing is pointless. The spell is working, whether you acknowledge it or not."
"Fine," Potter said, his face mottled red. "I'll play along for now. But if you haven't killed that damned snake in a week's time, all bets are off. I'm turning you both in to the Aurors."
"I can't kill Nagini until the time is right, you idiot. If I had killed her earlier, the Dark Lord would still have been able to survive to kill you. He's surrounded by Death Eaters – Bellatrix rarely leaves his side except to carry out his orders. Macnair has spies everywhere."
"I heard you," Potter said. "I still don't believe you." He paused. "I've talked to McGonagall about it. She wants to talk to you."
Draco coughed. His throat seemed to close; he swallowed to clear it.
"Where?" Severus asked.
"At the Shrieking Shack," Potter said sullenly. "Tonight."
Draco coughed again as his throat seemed to constrict even more.
Potter glared at him. "What's the matter with you?"
Draco shook his head. "Water?"
Severus conjured a glass of water and handed it to Draco. He frowned.
Draco nodded his thanks. He sipped, but had trouble swallowing.
"What did McGonagall want to see me about?" demanded Severus.
"I have no idea."
Draco froze. The glass of water slipped from his fingers and fell to the floor. Glass and water was everywhere. He grabbed the back of a chair to steady himself and put a hand to his throat.
"You –" He choked as his airway closed completely. He struck out when Potter came near, panicking, trying to breath, then felt Severus' arms around him, lowering him to the floor and cradling him in his lap.
"What's going on?" Potter looked annoyed.
"Draco, relax! Stop struggling." Draco could feel Severus trying to hold him still; he struggled harder. "Potter! Tell me what you're lying about."
"What are you talking about?"
"The spell! It knows you're lying about something."
"He's dying! Tell me, now!"
Potter eyes were wide behind his stupid glasses. "You mean the spell really works?"
"Answer me, damn you!"
"Scrimgeour will be there. He's got a squad of Aurors. Oh, God, I didn't know the spell was real – I thought you'd faked it!"
"You fool!" Draco heard, but his head swam. It was getting hard to move; his limbs felt like lead.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Potter said. "Why isn't he getting better?"
"You betrayed me, Potter."
"But I told you the truth. I told you everything! He should be getting better now."
Severus muttered healing spells. Draco felt the constriction in his throat and chest lift a bit, and he gulped in air. Severus leaned forward and brushed the hair from his forehead.
"Draco," he whispered. He cradled Draco's cheek with his hand.
Potter's anxious face swam into view. "Come on, Malfoy. You're too stubborn to die."
Draco closed his eyes and managed to choke out a word. "Why?"
Severus' voice was quiet. "I need you."
"F'r stupid spell."
"No. For you." Draco opened his eyes. Severus brushed the hair from Draco's forehead. "I need you."
A trickle of warmth ran through his body. He began to shiver.
"That's right, Malfoy." Potter sounded eager. "You can do it."
"Idiot boy," he said softly.
"I don't want to die."
"You're not. Potter told us the truth. You're going to be fine."
"No." Draco hurt so badly, so deep inside. It felt like something had been snuffed out, extinguished and it hurt so very, very much. He turned away, apathetic and disbelieving.
Severus seemed to come to some conclusion, because he lowered Draco back down to the floor and began to take off his clothing. "Potter, help me here."
"What? What can I do?"
"This spell is based on trust. That trust has been broken. We need to do something to try to rebuild it."
"And taking off your clothes will help?"
"Strip and get down here!"
Amazingly, Potter did. Severus transformed his robe into a soft mattress and lifted Draco onto it before he started taking Draco's clothing off, too.
By the time Potter joined them, Severus had stretched out next to Draco. Draco tried to ignore him, but found it difficult to do when he craved the warmth radiating from Severus' body. He closed his eyes.
"Touch him. Make him feel good. Feel safe. Like he can trust you." Severus captured Draco's chin. Soft kisses brushed his eyes, his cheeks, his lips.
When Severus licked his lips, Draco hesitantly opened his mouth. Severus' kisses were sweet, warm without burning.
Clumsy hands ghosted over his flanks. A butterfly touch of lips pressed at the point of his hipbone, soft enough that it tickled. He squirmed in protest and the caresses became more confident and soothing. He relaxed.
"I'm sorry," he heard, a quiet whisper that warmed the crease between his thigh and groin. "I didn't know." Something wet and smooth probed there; Draco opened his legs hoping for more of the lovely feeling.
Severus stopped kissing him. He opened his eyes.
Severus was watching Potter nuzzle around Draco's groin. Potter's mouth opened and he breathed against Draco's half-hard cock. He gripped the base to steady it and began to use gentle flicks of tongue to probe delicately under Draco's foreskin. Draco caught his breath as Potter cupped his arse and pulled him closer, taking him into his mouth.
Severus grabbed Potter by the hair and began to direct his head, urging him to start a gentle bobbing rhythm that felt like nothing Draco had ever experienced. He whimpered in pleasure.
Severus released Potter's head and turned back to Draco. "We'll take care of you." He stroked Draco's body, as gentle and warm as Potter's mouth. He kissed down Draco's neck and suckled his nipples until Draco arched with pleasure and need.
"Please," he begged, but he wasn't sure what for.
Severus rolled him toward Potter and spooned his body behind Draco's. Draco could feel Severus' cock, hot and hard in the small of his back. Severus began to thrust smoothly against him, taking his earlobe into his mouth and sucking at the same time.
Between the warm, wet tongue in his ear, the hard length rubbing firm and smooth against his back and the warm wet mouth surrounding his prick, Draco began to moan, desperate for release. Severus' balls slapped against his arse, right between Potter's clutching hands.
"You're safe now," Severus whispered into his ear and Draco arched, coming deep into Potter's mouth.
Dizzy, his eyes closed and he fell into darkness.
He woke later, wrapped in two warm bodies.
"Don't leave me," he whispered. "Never leave me."
Neither Potter nor Severus replied. They may have been asleep, but he didn't think so.
Draco finally fell asleep again. His dreams were full of Weasley's mutilated corpse and his father's cold silence.
Things seemed to have changed drastically since Draco had nearly died.
For one thing, Potter seemed to have turned into a sex fiend, particularly as far as sucking Draco's cock was concerned.
Not that he was complaining.
He'd wake up to silky warmth encircling his cock in the morning and spend down Potter's throat before he'd even woken up properly. He'd be reading in the sitting room – they all avoided the library these days, summoning books instead – when Potter would enter, walk over to him, drop to his knees, push Draco's clothes out of the way and dive down to take him in his mouth.
Once, he was making tea in the kitchen when Potter spun him around, slid under his robe and swallowed down his flaccid cock, which hardened quickly under Potter's increasingly talented ministration.
Draco found fucking Potter's mouth to be very pleasing.
He never accepted Draco's mute offer to return the favour, seeming to prefer to wank himself while devouring Draco's eager cock. And every time, after cleaning himself and Draco, Potter would stand, wipe a hand across his mouth and stare for a moment before bolting out of the room.
Severus tried to spend more time with Draco as well, stopping by for an hour or two and taking Draco to bed properly, complete with foreplay, fucks that ranged from brutal to exquisitely teasing and quiet time to bask before Severus went back to the Dark Lord.
Draco didn't allow himself to think of the danger that Severus courted with his actions; he accepted them as his due and demanded more. And Severus gave and gave, each time his hips snapping in an endless rhythm that made Draco fly and sob and wish that it would never end.
One day Potter had him sprawled over the sofa, naked and panting while Potter sucked furiously and ground against Draco's leg. He heard a noise and looked up.
Severus stood in the doorway of the sitting room, staring at them with angry, hungry eyes.
Draco gasped. Inside, he felt Severus' spark flame as high as Potter's.
Helplessly, Draco pumped into Potter's mouth, caught between the man watching him from the doorway and the man pressing him into the sofa.
Draco groaned as Potter slowly released his cock and sat up, blushing furiously and glaring at Severus. "What? Jealous?"
"Hardly." Severus stalked over to the couch and knelt by Draco's side. "Just taking what's mine."
Without warning, Draco found himself suffocated, his mouth covered and bruised by sharp bites and teeth grinding against his. He could feel a rash bloom on his face where Severus' coarse bristles rubbed.
"I don't belong to you," Draco said, wrenching his mouth away and gasping.
"Wrong," Severus said. "You belong to us. To Potter and me."
"He doesn't," Potter started to say, but Snape interrupted him.
"Look at him, Potter. Look at generations of breeding, of beauty and privilege. Lying there, debauched and demanding. Don't tell me that you don't want that."
Draco sat up, intrigued, although determined not to show it. "Of course you want it. You just can't have it. Not unless I decide you should."
Potter looked back and forth between them. "Look, I—"
"You don't see him running away, do you?" Severus shed his robe and unbuttoned the placket of his trousers.
Potter shook his head. "It's one thing when it's a spell, or when we needed to save his life. It's entirely different now."
"How so?" Severus took out his cock. The head was already purple and emerging from the foreskin. Draco watched as he slowly began to stroke it. A drop of moisture formed, to be wiped away by a lazy swipe of Severus' thumb.
"Er," Potter said. Draco glanced over at him and saw that he was staring at Severus' cock, too.
"There is none, is there?" Severus stopped stroking his cock. "Stretch him."
Potter looked panicked. "What?"
"Stretch him. Stick your fingers in his arsehole and move them around." Severus stood and slid his trousers and pants off, staring at Potter, his cock poking out stiffly from under his white shirt. "Use a lubricating charm."
Potter looked over at Draco. Smirking, Draco lifted a leg and rested his ankle on Potter's shoulder. "You heard him."
After a moment, Potter cast a charm. Draco moaned as a slick finger entered his arsehole. Then his view of Potter was blocked by a cock and heavy balls descending towards his mouth. Severus' knees pressed against either side of his head as he carefully lowered himself over Draco.
"Pull him closer to you."
Potter's hands gripped Draco's hips. He felt the rough nap of the sofa's cloth burn his back and bum as Potter dragged him closer.
Draco obediently opened his mouth and promptly gagged as Severus' big cock pushed in. He pushed Severus away, but suddenly his hands were caught and pinned to the sofa on either side with a softly spoken binding charm.
Completely vulnerable, Potter's fingers stretching and stroking his arsehole while Severus settled over him, Draco felt a rush of lust and power flood through him. He groaned around Severus' cock and heard a harsh gasp sound above him. The cock in his mouth throbbed.
Draco's legs were pulled up and over Potter's shoulders. He grunted as Potter entered him. A moment later, he cried out as a mouth engulfed his cock.
He heard Potter's voice – so hot – felt the burn in his arse and back as Potter's thrusts gain strength and rhythm, felt Severus' wicked tongue probe under his foreskin and across his slit, felt the damp fabric of the sofa stick to his skin, breathed the musk of Severus' balls, felt their weight slap against his nose and oh god, how could one person feel so much and never never stop he screamed in his head even as he choked on Severus' fat cock…
With a rush, he cried out and came, spurting down Severus' throat.
He closed his eyes, mouth slack as Severus fucked it, internal muscles still throbbing uncontrollably around Potter's pistoning cock. "Suck me," he heard and obediently closed his lips around Severus, flicked his tongue against the head of his cock, took deep breaths through his nose until he had enough air in his lungs, then sucked hard, rewarded by a deep groan and Severus burying himself root deep in his throat, balls pressed tight to Draco's eyes, coming so hard that Draco had difficulty swallowing it all down. He could feel semen oozing out of his mouth and dripping down his chin and cheek, into his hair.
Severus collapsed, rolling to the side, his softening cock slipping from Draco's lips.
Potter leaned forward and braced himself above Draco, pounding into him. Then Potter reached out to Severus, grabbed his hair and pulled him close until he could attack him with his mouth. Draco watched in fascination as the two men kissed until Potter froze, his hips moving in a series of short, hard thrusts as he came deep inside Draco. Severus continued to suck on Potter's lips until Potter's arm gave out and he collapsed on top of Draco.
Draco closed his eyes again, listening to their heavy breaths and savouring the power he held over them.
When he opened them again, Severus was gone and Potter was on his feet, wiping his mouth and staring down at him.
"I don't want this," he whispered. "I don't want to want you like this."
Potter whirled and disappeared out the door.
Draco remained on the sofa, feeling debauched and empty and needing so much more.
That night, he prayed that the Dark Lord would be destroyed quickly, so McGonagall could lift this damned curse. A moment later, he prayed even harder that it was never lifted and that he'd have Severus and Potter as his, forever caught in their flames.
He tried to ignore the voice in his head that sounded like his father and used words like whore and traitor.
Severus walked in while they were having tea.
Potter's eyes widened. Draco could see him shiver.
"Right," Potter said. "I'm ready."
The meal cooled, ignored as they all leaned forward to make their final plans.
"Potter, tell Minerva to gather together the rest of the Order and as many Aurors as can be trusted. They'll need to go to Azkaban."
"But Azkaban's a fortress," Draco said. "You'll need armies of witches and wizards to take it."
Severus shook his head. "That's the other detail that I've been working on these past few weeks. I've identified the prison's weakest points and made arrangements that should allow them to be breached. Minerva needs to come up from the sea on the west side at half eight tonight. There's a set of double doors there, a service area for shipments of Muggle goods into the prison. They're warded; the password is 'immortality'. Their only backup is a pair of Death Eaters who patrol the area. I'll make sure that they're occupied elsewhere. Give her this," he pushed a map across the table to Potter. "It will guide them to the main hall, where the Dark Lord has set up His Court."
"Right. How am I supposed to get in?" Potter asked.
"Through this window." Severus pointed to a window overlooking the sheer drop to the sea. "Bring your broom and your invisibility cloak. I have a map for you, too, but for all our sakes, Potter, don't do anything until Minerva has the hall secured. I'll meet you and take you to His Lordship when He's at His most vulnerable."
Potter's face was white, but he nodded firmly. "Right. What will you be doing?"
"Playing dead." Draco's eyebrows shot up. "No, not for real. But tonight I'll poison the evening meal. The only people who usually forego eating in the hall are the patrols and Bellatrix. The poison is quick-acting, but timing is crucial."
"What about me?" Draco really didn't want to be involved, but he preferred that his non-participation was official. If it wasn't, he needed time to argue for a change in plans.
"You stay here."
Perfect. He relaxed.
"What time should I be there?" Potter looked grim but determined.
"Meet me here," Severus pointed to a spot on the map. "Be in place by quarter of nine."
Severus shook his head. They all stared at one another.
"I'd say this calls for a drink," Draco said.
Potter fetched a bottle and poured.
They didn't raise a toast, but instead sat sipping quietly. After Severus and Potter left, Draco looked at their nearly-full glasses and wondered if he'd survive their deaths.
Suddenly, his heart ran cold. Deaths. McGonagall. She was going to be at the prison, too. If anything happened to her….
Maybe he could catch her before she left Hogwarts.
He raced to his room to find a heavy dark cloak and then Disapparated.
He'd missed McGonagall at Hogwarts. He only had one more chance.
Crouched behind a misshapen bush, he watched as McGonagall's group silently filed through the double doors of Azkaban. He recognised some of them – the insane Weasley twins, Professor Lupin, Professor Moody – as well as some Gryffindors and a Ravenclaw or two who had been in his year at Hogwarts.
Too late. He wasn't fool enough to think he could make a difference inside the prison. All he could do was to wait. He cast a Disillusionment Charm on himself and then settled in, huddled in his cloak.
Nothing would happen to McGonagall. Severus' plan would work. Potter would kill the Dark Lord. He'd be free of this damned curse tonight.
Draco closed his eyes, but all he could see was his father's sneering face, mocking him.
He cried out as a heavy hand suddenly landed on his shoulder and pulled him around. Sprawled on the ground, he felt the prick of a knife at his throat. He looked up at his captor and froze, his blood running cold.
"Well, well, well," Fenrir Greyback said. "The Malfoy brat. I wonder what brings you to His Lordship. He's put a price on your head, you know. I suspect He'd like a plaything for His afters."
"How did you—?" Draco gasped.
"Find you? You smell, boy. Like money. Like your sweet mum and dad did," Greyback jeered. He dragged Draco to his feet and marched him towards the prison.
When they reached the door, Draco stopped, panicking. Pushed from behind, he stumbled through the doorway and froze. Blood seemed to coat the walls, the floor, the ceiling. His eyes darted from one horrific sight to another. A redheaded man cut in two. One of the Weasley twins, eyes wide and fixed and a smoking hole in his chest. Professor Moody, though the only reason Draco could tell his identity was because his false leg hadn't burned with the rest of his body.
Greyback pushed him again and he skidded, falling to one knee. His hand slipped in gore as he tried to push himself to his feet. Laughing, Greyback kicked him.
Pain exploding through his ribs, Draco sprawled to the floor and came face to face with Professor McGonagall.
"Professor," he whispered.
She continued to sleep, her eyes closed, her expression strangely peaceful amidst the carnage. Except, she must be holding her breath.
"Professor, please," he breathed. "Please wake up."
Raucous laughter boomed through the entry hall. "She's not waking up, you fool. She's dead. Provided a bit of sport, though not as much as your parents did. I can't wait to see what the Dark Lord has in store for you." Rough hands once again pulled him to his feet and pushed him forward, deeper into Azkaban.
By the time they reached the main hall, Draco was shaking uncontrollably. Greyback snorted and flung him at the Dark Lord's feet. "Look what I found just outside the gates, My Lord."
Draco ducked his head.
"Young Malfoy?" The Dark Lord sounded amused.
Greyback grabbed a handful of Draco's hair and yanked his head back. Draco shut his eyes tightly.
"My Lord," he moaned. "Please –"
"What? Spare you? I didn't spare either of your parents and they were of a great deal more value to me. You failed, Draco. It's time to pay the price for that failure."
"I tried," he sobbed.
The hall erupted in laughter.
"Look at me, boy, or I'll have Greyback slice your eyelids off!"
Terrified, he shook his head. "Please, My Lord."
"Pathetic. Your knife, Grey–" A commotion behind Draco interrupted the Dark Lord. Draco sobbed once in relief as Greyback pushed him to the floor.
Someone else landed on the floor next to him.
"Harry." The Dark Lord's voice sounded like a welcoming caress.
No. It couldn't be Potter. Even Potter wasn't stupid enough to get caught that quickly. He ignored the memory of his own swift capture, of the bloodbath he'd witnessed at the entrance.
Draco opened his eyes and looked.
Macnair held Potter down, a hand on his neck. Potter glanced over at Draco. "Are you okay?"
Draco dropped his eyes again. Potter was captured. He was captured. McGonagall's party had been slaughtered. Nothing was going right. Though he knew it was selfish, he was glad Potter was there with him, at least. But where was Severus?
He shuddered. Severus couldn't be dead, he couldn't.
"I wonder how you managed to get through my wards," the Dark Lord said. "It seems we might have a traitor in our midst, my friends." He seemed to be enjoying himself, like the situation was a play in which they all performed for his benefit.
Draco froze as a familiar voice said, "I let them in, My Lord."
Severus. Oh dear Merlin, the Dark Lord had captured Severus, too.
"So you did. It appears that my conclusion about a possible traitor was – incorrect." The Dark Lord sounded almost gleeful. "You did well, my friend. Thank you, Severus. You followed my plan exactly."
Draco looked up, startled, and saw Potter do the same.
Severus – Snape, Draco corrected himself, furious – knelt in front of the Dark Lord and bowed his head. He saw blood on the hem of Snape's robes and wondered whose it was.
Traitor's blood, his father whispered. Like yours.
The Dark Lord smiled and laid a hand on Snape's head. "Yes, very well done indeed. Would you like to claim a reward for bringing me the great Harry Potter and all of his little friends?"
"My Lord, your pleasure is my greatest reward."
"Well spoken, Severus. You may stand."
Snape stood, his face respectful, his eyes lowered.
The Dark Lord glanced at Draco. A smile crossed his face. "Perhaps you'd like young Malfoy for your own."
A flicker of lust lit Snape's eyes. He remained silent, however.
"Yes, I can see you'd like that. Very well. You may have him."
"My Lord." Snape fell to his kneels again and leaned forward to kiss the Dark Lord's boot. "Thank you." He crawled backwards and stood, bowing once more before turning to look at Draco. "Get up."
He waved his wand and Draco's clothing disappeared, to be replaced by a collar and shackles.
Blushing furiously, Draco slowly stood. He glanced at Potter and their eyes locked. He wondered if his face was as white as Potter's was.
Then Snape gave him a vicious shove. He stumbled forward, directed by Snape to a dark corner where he pushed Draco down into a chair and stood beside him.
From here, Draco could see the entire hall. Everyone ignored him now, their focus on Potter and the Dark Lord.
"A toast!" Bellatrix raised a glass filled with wine high above her head. "To Our Lordship. May He triumph over all of His enemies as easily as He has triumphed over these!"
"His Lordship!" echoed through the hall. Snape raised a glass of wine with the rest.
But when the others drank, he dropped his to the floor. Glass shattered and wine splattered across Draco's bare feet.
He pulled away from the mess just in time to avoid being crushed by the man next to him as he toppled to the floor.
All around the hall, Death Eaters dropped.
"The wine," Draco whispered. "Severus."
Potter turned. Severus threw something at him.
Potter snatched it out of the air as if it were a snitch. He raised it, and Draco realised that Severus had thrown Potter a wand.
Green light flared, burning Draco's eyes. Dimly, he saw the Dark Lord fall. Around the hall, torches wavered, and then flared.
"Never again," Severus muttered. He pointed his wand at the Dark Lord's corpse. "Incendio!"
The corpse burst into flames and turned to ash in an instant. Draco watched as Potter stared at the small pile of dust marking the former Dark Lord's presence.
"I thought you'd betrayed us," Draco said.
Snape glanced at him. "It was necessary to deceive you long enough to destroy the Dark Lord." He waved his wand and Draco's clothing was restored. "I should think that would be obvious." Slipping his hand under Draco's elbow, he guided him to Potter's side.
"But you can't lie to us."
"Omitting to say something isn't the same as lying. You should know," Severus said, looking at him sharply. "You've been doing it all along, too."
Draco ignored his accusation and reached out to touch Harry's arm. "Potter? Did you know about this?"
Potter shook his head. He looked as dazed as Draco felt. "I don't understand. Is that it?"
"Yes, Potter, that's it."
Potter turned to look at Severus and Draco. "It's done?"
Severus gestured impatiently. "Get it through your thick head. It's finished. You're through."
Potter stared at him. "Good," he said, and crumpled. Snape leapt forward and caught him, falling awkwardly to the floor with Potter cradled in his arms. Draco knelt beside them.
"He'll be fine," Snape said, even as Potter frowned and said, "I'm okay."
"You're not okay," Draco retorted. "You just fainted." Feeling suddenly faint himself, he sat and leaned into Severus' side. "There's blood on your robe, you know," he added conversationally. Severus' body was solid and warm, and Draco dropped his head against Severus' shoulder. "Whose is it?"
"The snake's. I killed her earlier this evening." Severus' eyes narrowed. "I thought you were going to stay at the house."
"I – had a change of mind." The spell allowed the partial truth and he breathed a sigh of relief.
Severus frowned, but seemed to accept the answer. He waved his wand and a map of the prison formed in the air. "They put the Order survivors in the cells on this level," he pointed. "The spell to open the cell doors is 'Patefaci'. Go, now. I'll contact St Mungo's and warn them they have casualties coming in."
Draco, who had no intention to wander around Azkaban in search of Potter's friends, stayed still.
Potter didn't move, either. "Casualties? You mean the Death Eaters knew? The Order walked into an ambush?"
"Yes. They did." Severus looked grim, but wouldn't meet Potter's eyes. "Occlumency only works so far. The Dark Lord knew that I still had access to you. The only way I could deceive him was to carry out his plan and sabotage it at the last possible moment. I had no choice if you were to get the opportunity to destroy him."
"Anyone I know?"
Severus nodded and pinched the bridge of his nose. "More than I hoped. The fools chose to fight, some of them to the death. I tried to warn Minerva, but either she didn't heed the warning or the others wouldn't listen to her when she told them to surrender."
They fell silent, none of them moving to act on Severus' instructions. With a sigh, Potter finally pushed himself out of Snape's arms and stood. Draco and Severus followed him.
"Let's go," Potter said. He and Severus started walking.
Draco trailed behind them, miserable.
Draco couldn't believe it. McGonagall was dead.
He'd never be free.
He held his head in his hands as he sat in the kitchen in the Black mansion, his tea cooling, ignored. Severus sat next to him, watching Potter pace, his face blank but his eyes sharp and calculating.
Potter looked as if he'd aged fifty years in the past few hours, deep lines etched in his face and fatigue weighing his movements. He rubbed his face. He didn't meet their eyes. "I've got to get to St Mungo's," he said. "Thanks for your help. If you go now, you'll get a head start on the Aurors. I'll do what I can to help you from this end, but honestly, I hope I never see either of you again."
Draco's heart plunged. What the fuck – did Potter just think that everything was going to be fine now that the Dark Lord was dead? Anger flared. "We can't leave, not unless you come with us," he said.
Both Severus and Potter looked at him. Potter frowned. "What do you mean? Look, thanks for the help, but it's done. Voldemort's dead. We aren't forced to work together anymore."
"You're presuming that you and I are leaving together?" Severus asked.
"Of course!" Draco looked from one to the other, his anger quickly turning to fear when he saw the frowns on their faces. "McGonagall's dead. The spell can't be lifted. We're all still bound together."
"But I don't see that means we have to stay together," Potter said. "After all, wizards are bound by life debts fairly often. I don't see them trailing around after each other just because of that."
"That's entirely different!" Belatedly, Draco realised that he really didn't want to tell them how different, so he added, "Those aren't deliberate bondings, they're accidental. There's nothing accidental about us."
Potter shook his head. "I don't see why that makes a difference."
Severus crossed his arms. "It seems you're hiding something from us. I suggest you explain yourself."
Draco exploded. All of his pent-up fear poured out of him.
"Just think about it! Can you imagine living my life? Waiting for one of you to slip up, meet each other on the street and tell one of those little polite 'yeah-I'm-fine-just-made-millions-investing-in-gold-futures' lies, just one time when I'm not around and you can't see me so that you feel guilty and take it back? I'm going to die, choking and writhing in pain – I might be in the loo, walking down the street, writing a letter to – I don't know, someone! – and I'll just fall down and die and it'll take forever and it hurts and neither of you bastards can ever leave my sight again, do you hear me?" He knew tears were streaming down his face and that Lucius would be furious with him, but he didn't care because Lucius was dead and he didn't want to be dead, too.
"I can't live like that, Malfoy," Potter said desperately. "I want a life, too, and I don't want it hanging around you and Snape just so that I can make sure that I don't tell a lie."
Severus watched them both. "You can't ask us to do that, Draco," he said.
"I don't want to die." Draco fought to control his voice and dashed the tears from his face.
Potter dropped into a chair and buried his face in his hands. "What you're asking is impossible. I can't be trapped like that."
"But it's okay for me to be trapped?" Draco said. "We all went into this together. I owed Severus, so I paid up when he asked me to. Since then, I can't get away from you, from either of you," he said, glancing at Snape.
"What do you mean?" Potter asked, looking up.
Draco watched Snape. "Since the spell it's like – it's like both of you are inside me." Snape paled and Draco's heart dropped. He'd hoped – but it didn't matter, did it. He sank into a chair and looked at the floor. No more secrets. If they were going to leave him, they'd leave him knowing exactly what they were doing.
"I feel both of you in me, all the time. Sometimes, when you're angry or – or when we're having, you know," he felt himself go red, "it's like I'm being pushed down, like you're so much bigger than I am you take up all the room in me."
"Why didn't you tell us that before?"
Draco looked at Potter incredulously.
Snape snorted. "What difference would it have made, Potter? He couldn't change anything by that point, and you knowing would only give you one more hold over him. No, Draco did the right thing by not telling us." He turned to Draco. "Though don't think I don't know how you're trying to manipulate us now, you little fool."
Potter looked confused – not that he often looked anything else, Draco thought. "What do you mean?"
"Didn't you pay attention in Defence Against the Dark Arts, Potter?" Snape glared. "Don't you remember about the transfer of power between wizards? Sigillum Secreti is an adaptation – it binds power with intent inside another person. Once the situation has passed, however, the intent can be changed and the power returned."
"If the Binder reverses it," Draco snapped. "But you sent our Binder off to get killed."
"You're saying he's like a Horcrux? Part of each of us is in him?"
"Yes. A piece of our power," Snape said.
"It's more, you know." Now that McGonagall wasn't around to reverse it, when Draco died, so would a part of both Snape and Potter. He took vindictive pleasure in the thought. He didn't feel quite so hopeless now – he had a bargaining tool and Snape was right, he was going to use it. "It's not just a piece of your power. If I die, you don't just get weaker. It's your magic itself. You lose some of it."
"Lie to either of us and find out, Potter," Draco said.
"Fine." Potter stood up and walked to the fireplace. He leaned his forehead against the mantel. "Look, I'm willing to compromise. I'll stay with you until we can figure out how to reverse this. But that's all the longer," he warned, turning to glare at them.
"That'll be long enough," Draco said. He looked at Severus, who wouldn't meet his eyes.
He wasn't surprised. While Potter was stupid enough to think they'd find a way to reverse the spell, Severus knew better.
Finally, Snape looked up. He met Draco's eyes. "I'll stay with you."
Draco closed his eyes. His gamble had paid off – he'd hoped he'd read Severus right, and it appeared that he had. Severus cared more than he'd admit. Draco heard him cross the room. He opened his eyes.
Severus crouched beside him. An outstretched hand stroked his hair as Severus' eyes softened. The touch released something inside him. He slumped in his chair and turned his head into the soft petting.
Beyond, Draco could see Potter watching them, a strange mixture of resignation and arousal crossing his face.
Relief swept over him; Draco's limbs shook so badly he couldn't stand if he tried. It had worked – at least, it had worked for now, but that was long enough. He'd have time to work on them. He'd make them see his way.
He was a Malfoy, after all. That's what Malfoys did. They changed the world to suit their needs.
He imagined he felt Lucius' reluctant approval.