Draco stepped cautiously under the arch. It was made of something that glittered dully in the light filtering down from high, cobwebbed windows.
"I can't believe this was hidden down here. We don't have anything like this at the manor."
Potter came up to lean on the frame of the arch. "Just insane portrait galleries; you said."
"Mm. How could you not have known it was here?" He ran a hand down the inside of the passage, dust smearing away to reveal darkly shadowed glass.
Potter shrugged. "I don't think Sirius even knew it was here. He wasn't much into the idea of exploring when he inherited this place, and Mrs Weasley was concentrating on making the main areas liveable again. Nobody was trying to open secret doors in trick corridors in the cellars."
Draco turned to look at him. "But Regulus Black knew about it."
"I think so. He was really cryptic in his diary, but I think this is what he meant when he talked about hiding the locket." He frowned at the corridor stretching ahead. "Only, Hermione researched mirror mazes and she says they're not dangerous or highly protected or anything, so I'm not sure why he thought it would be a good place to hide it." He bit his lip. "They're just about reflections and memories, she says."
Draco took a couple of steps forward. A very short distance down the darkened corridor, he ran into a wall of some kind.
"You can only enter if you're with somebody else," Potter said. Draco turned to see him push away from the arch and duck inside. "I don't know why; it's part of the magic."
Draco waited for him to join him. "That's ... sort of sickeningly Hufflepuff, actually. We have to hold hands and work together to solve our problems?"
Potter snickered. "This is the ancestral house of the Blacks. I doubt they were into holding hands."
"Was that why you asked me?" Draco asked in a rush. He'd wanted to know ever since Potter caught up with him in the hallway after Transfiguration and asked, breathlessly, if he'd come to Number Twelve Grimmauld Place with him that weekend. "Because it's a Black artefact and I'm related to them?"
Potter blinked. "No. I just —" He shoved his hands in his pockets, a faint colour in his cheeks. "I just remembered you talking about that If Sieve thing you used to find out about the Ravenclaw Crown back in October. I, um. I thought you might like to see this, that's all."
Draco looked away, running a thumbnail over the dark glass wall. "Oh. I mean, yes." He cleared his throat. "Does this mean we can go in now, since there's two of us?"
Potter shrugged and took a step.
Instantly light flooded the passage, pale and gleaming. The walls became silver mirror glass, reflecting himself and Potter on either side, their expressions identically startled. The glass stretched ahead as far as Draco could see. He turned to find that the archway had disappeared: the mirror corridor continued behind them, into the distance.
"Okay," Potter said. He looked sideways at his reflection, one hand moving as though he wanted to flatten his fringe or adjust his collar. He let it fall back to his side. "That's ... kind of unnerving."
Draco laughed, tilting his head back. "This place is amazing. And yeah, kind of unnerving. I guess we have to find our way to the centre to get out."
He turned on the spot, stretching his fingers out to touch the glass to either side. The corridor wasn't completely straight, which created soft-focus splinters of his reflection far past the immediate image at his fingertips.
Potter watched him with his eyes crinkled in half a smile. He took a breath. "Alright. Keep close. We don't know what traps Regulus might have set. He was a Death Eater, after all."
"Did he mention traps?"
Potter frowned. "No, but it doesn't mean there aren't any."
Draco laughed, falling into step with him and shoving at his shoulder. "I can't believe you're bored already because there aren't any monsters to fight. Your poor little Gryffindor sensibilities can't cope with the lack of danger."
Potter knocked his shoulder back against Draco's, rolling his eyes. "Shove it, Malfoy."
It wasn't just the shape of the mirrors that created the odd disconnected images, Draco realised after a moment. There were shadows and bits of colour at the corners of his vision, flitting high over the walls. He almost thought he saw the jagged silhouette of the Astronomy Tower at Hogwarts at one point, and at another there was something that could have been the swish of a fold of a tall person's robes.
They came to the first corner a few paces further on. The glass walls made it hard to spot corners and directions; the only reason Draco knew there was a turn here was the way that his and Potter's reflections splintered where the walls met and curved. There were actually three directions to choose from, when you looked properly.
Potter looked at him. "Uh. Right?"
Draco shrugged. Potter tightened his grip on his wand and they slipped into the right hand corridor.
It was obvious straight away that something was different. Draco looked sideways to find his reflection swimming in the glass, slipping into Potter's and then sliding away.
"What ...?" Potter trailed off as the colours in the mirror morphed from silver swirls and gleaming refracted light into grey daylight, half obscured by a puff of steam. The steam in the mirror cleared to show the red bulk of the Hogwarts Express, some distance back. Closer to, black-robed and jeans-clad students milled around the platform, chattering and calling out to each other. A boy with dreadlocks lifted the lid off something in his hand and grinned as the three boys craning to peer in jumped back, yelling. After a second Draco realised that it was Lee Jordan, who'd been the Quidditch commentator when he was at school. He was young, though — maybe thirteen or fourteen. Which meant ...
"It's a memory," Potter said. He had to raise his voice over the sounds from the mirror — and wasn't that odd. Draco glanced at him and he lifted his head. "That's what Hermione meant when she said the maze was about reflection and memory, then."
Draco looked back at the platform scene. It was almost like slipping inside the If Sieve again — only with the odd sensation of walking down a corridor while you watched the memory play out, off at a remove from you. They'd slowed, but not stopped entirely, and he realised that the memory was keeping pace with them, sliding seamlessly along the surface of the wall.
"Is it yours or mine, do you think? Or somebody else's?"
"No, it's mine." Draco had just spotted the the small family standing a little apart from the chaos of the platform. Lucius looked around him with pained distaste, his hair an impeccable gleam in the daylight filtering down to the platform. Narcissa's eyes were only for her son.
Draco stood in front of her, holding himself stiffly as Narcissa smoothed his robes and tucked his collar down.
"Don't assume that everyone in Slytherin is from an old family, either. Be careful with your friendships." She patted his hair down again, her fingers lingering.
Mirror Draco nodded. "I know, Mother."
Lucius cast him a look, seeming to notice him again. "You might make friends with the Potter boy too, Draco."
Draco nodded. "I expect he'll be in Slytherin too, though, right? He'll be powerful, so he'll probably be there."
Narcissa pursed her lips, but refrained from making any comment. "Find Vincent and Gregory and remember to keep them close to you."
Draco rolled his eyes. "I know, Mother. But I don't need them to protect me."
"Of course you don't." She smoothed his hair behind his ears once more; Mirror Draco shied his head away, shaking the hair free again.
"Just —" She bit her lip. "Be safe. And do well."
"Oh, I will. I'm going to be at the top of my house." Mirror Draco's polished little eleven-year-old voice was distant, though, his eyes already scanning the platform. "I need to get on the train, I think."
His eyes skated over the huddle of older students around Lee Jordan just as the spider in his box made a bid for freedom, hairy legs waving in the air. Mirror Draco looked impressed for a moment; then he looked away, searching the platform again. "Do you know what he looks like, Father?"
Lucius looked down again, raising his eyebrows. "Harry Potter?" he asked. "How should I know? Terribly common, probably."
In the corridor, Draco shot Potter a look. He'd slowed to a crawl even more pronounced than Draco's, enthralled by the small drama playing out. He grimaced a bit as his name came up, and glanced at Draco.
"I don't remember seeing you on the platform in first year."
Draco shrugged. The mirror wall was beginning to mist over again, the colours blurring and running together as the memory dissipated. For a moment it was nothing but a swirl of silver and sharp-edged light, then their own reflections snapped back, ordinary and seventeen once more.
It was a shock, seeing the difference between himself as an eleven year old and now, so abruptly. For half a second he couldn't recognise the tall, grown up figure with its sharp-edged features and mussed hair. He pushed his fingers though his fringe, smoothing it.
Potter shoved his hands into his pockets, picking his steps up again. "What do you think the point of that was?"
"Do you think there was one?"
Draco found himself unnerved by the fact that apparently a memory could be plucked from his head at any moment and played out in front of Potter. He didn't much like the idea that Potter knew how set on being friends with him Draco had been even before they met on the train. "Let's just get to the centre."
Potter shot him a look, then grinned. "Oh, come on, Malfoy. It's not like it was even an embarrassing memory, particularly. Mrs Weasley was scrubbing Ron's face on the platform; your mum warning you against making friends with the wrong sorts is nothing."
Draco glared. "I'm not embarrassed. Just — come on, alright?"
Potter looked amused, still, but he let himself be hustled along. He was biting his lip against a smile, though, and he kept shooting glances at Draco's hair, as if remembering his mother fussing with it.
Draco glanced at the smile and looked away, his stomach heating uncomfortably.
Potter didn't seem to notice. He was swinging his wand in one hand, loose and relaxed now. Half an inch of wrist showed below his sleeve. The bones looked delicate under his skin, in contrast to the strong brown fingers on the long straight wood of his wand. He pushed his fringe off his face with his other hand, the hair immediately spiking into his eyes again. He blinked it free, shaking his head. Then he glanced at Draco again. His smile was light, questioning, and it made Draco's chest hurt.
"Will we take it?"
Draco tore his eyes away from the soft shape of his mouth, making himself hear the words.
"What? Oh ..." There was an opening on Potter's side of the corridor. It was almost impossible to see, in the confusion of reflections, but Potter had spotted it. It curved away out of sight, rather than continuing straight like the one they were in.
He nodded and they turned into it. Draco's hand momentarily tightened on his own wand.
The light dimmed as they stepped out of the straight corridor, and for a second Draco was sure they'd made a mistake. But the dimness was a new memory.
It was dark — somebody's wandlight cast shadows on walls that seemed to be earth. A tunnel of some kind, with a low ceiling and close walls. Figures shuffled along it, and as Draco's eyes adjusted he realised that the reason the first three were moving so awkwardly was because they were actually shackled together. There was a cat at their feet, too, which kept pausing and nearly tripping them up.
It was recognising Professor Snape, though, unconscious and floating through the air, his head bumping gently against the ceiling, that confirmed for Draco that this was definitely not his memory.
He looked at Potter, who had slowed once more to watch, even though as before the memory in the glass kept pace with them.
"This is third year," he said, realising that Draco was looking at him. He looked fascinated. "In the tunnel to the Shrieking Shack — this is what we were trying to get into when you rescued us from the willow that time."
Draco looked back at Snape's glassy eyes, his hair falling into his eyes as the loose dirt of the ceiling dislodged it. "You Stupefied Snape in third year? How are you still alive?"
He looked at Potter again when he got no reply. The other boy was watching the figure coming behind Snape, holding a wand and keeping him floating. There was something like regret on his face, making it naked in a way that was uncomfortable to watch. Draco looked back at the memory again, trying to identify the man. He looked familiar, but he couldn't think why he would. He was dressed like a tramp, and his face was starved and desperate, grime on his forehead. He looked like somebody from a wanted poster, or like — no. A wanted poster.
"Is that Sirius Black?"
Potter didn't look at him, but he nodded. Draco looked back at the memory. He didn't know why he was shocked — they were in Sirius' house, and Draco knew he'd been Potter's godfather. Still, "Wow. Talk about being a juvenile delinquent, Potter. Hanging out with criminals at thirteen. Criminals from my family, too."
"He wasn't a criminal," Potter said. He didn't say anything else, because Black had just said something. Draco missed it, but whatever it was, saying it made Black look stiff and unsure of himself, his eyes flicking to thirteen year old Potter and then back to Snape.
"You're free," Mirror Potter answered.
Draco mouthed 'free?' at Potter, but he was still fixed on the memory.
"Yes. But I'm also — I don't know whether anyone ever told you — I'm your godfather."
"Why was he free? I thought he was never pardoned?"
Potter grimaced. "He would have been, but Pettigrew got away."
Black was still talking, painfully awkward. "Well ... think about it," he said, still using the excuse of keeping Snape upright to avoid looking directly at Potter in the tunnel just behind him. "Once my name's cleared, if you wanted ... a different home ..."
The Potter in the memory opened and shut his mouth. He looked more vulnerable than Draco thought he'd ever seen him.
"What — live with you?"
"Of course, I thought you wouldn't want to. I understand." Black bit his lip, the dirty convict hair falling down to shade his face as he ducked his head slightly. "I just thought I'd —"
"Are you mad?" Mirror Potter made another attempt at a grin, although it made his voice come out croaky and strange. "Of course I want to leave the Dursleys!" He shook his head. "Have you got a house? When can I move in?"
Black did look at him then. "You want to? You mean it?"
Mirror Potter's whole face was shining. "Yeah, I mean it!"
Black's sudden smile made him look completely different, somehow — the edge of something wild and charming coming through that Draco recognised from the Black end of the family portrait gallery.
The memory was beginning to fade. Draco caught a glimpse of Granger coming behind Potter and Black, her blatantly curious expression making it obvious that she'd been eavesdropping, then the black swam into silver again. It felt almost like stepping back into daylight, although the odd silvery glow of the maze wasn't much like sunshine.
"Somebody really should have had a talk with you about not going home with the first convict you met," Draco said after a moment.
Potter glanced at him, some of the tension draining from his face, and leaned over to knock his shoulder. "Shut up." He rolled his eyes "It was the best moment of my life, if you must know."
Draco turned that comment over in his head.
"That's pathetic," he decided finally.
"Malfoy?" Draco looked at him. "If anybody ever needs you to be sympathetic about something?" Potter grinned, shaking his head. "Try not to talk, would you?"
Draco grinned. "I'm distracting you from your pain. I'm deeply sympathetic. Also, you'll notice I didn't ask about the weird threesome bondage thing going on in that last memory. That's because I was being considerate."
"Weird three... Malfoy, we were thirteen! My god. The handcuffs were because Lupin wanted to kill Ron's rat for betraying him, and Ron was upset because he'd been sleeping in his bed for ..." Potter trailed off. "Actually, never mind."
"Um." Draco examined his fingernails. "I don't want to know. I especially didn't want to know the part where one member of that threesome was a rat. I can't believe your third year was so much kinkier than mine."
The corridor they were in was still curving, the walls distorting their reflections. It gave an abrupt twist just ahead, and opened into what looked like five separate entrances. Potter went to swing into one, and Draco grabbed his arm. "That one's a wall."
Potter blinked and put out a hand, feeling the hard surface of the glass.
"This place is impossible." He twisted to look behind him. "And, um, thanks. So which way?"
Draco tested to make sure the next entrance really was a passage and not a reflection of one, then tugged Potter through it.
There were another two choices immediately afterwards. They picked one at random and found a dead end. Backtracking, they tried the other and stepped into a new memory.
Draco recognised this one immediately. He didn't know why he was shocked — it was a memory like any other.
"Is this some kind of party at Malfoy manor, or something? Because I've never seen so many ..." Potter trailed off. "Malfoy? What the hell?"
Draco knew he'd just spotted the banner pinned along the wall behind the shifting throng, decorated in gleaming gold and orange.
"Anniversary of the ... The what?"
"Defeat of the Dark Lord," Draco said. "This didn't really happen. It's — one of the scenes I saw in the If Sieve."
Potter turned to look at the length of the mirror. "You saw a world where there's no Voldemort?" His voice was trying to be neutral, but there was a painful sort of hope in it.
Draco bit his lip. "It wasn't a real one. I didn't travel to alternate universes or something. It was just a possibility."
"Still ... do you know how he was defeated there?"
"Not really. I think your parents had something to do with it." Draco had just found his own form, completely out of place in black school robes among the splendid robes and towering hats of the celebration. Beyond the Mirror Draco he could see the small group of the Potters and the Malfoys exchanging unpleasant pleasantries. "There," he said, in case Potter hadn't seen. The other boy was staring, though.
"You saw my parents," he said. "You never said ..." Then he noticed the small boys at the adults' feet, sizing each other up, and he choked a bit.
"My god, are we nine or something? I don't remember ever being that titchy."
"My mum and dad are war heroes," little Potter was saying, one hand covering the stain on his collar. "That's why we're here." He lifted his chin. "Why are you here?"
"It's a Ministry gala," little Draco said, as though this explained everything.
"Look at you," the real Potter in the corridor said, a wobbly grin in his voice. "You were actually cute at that age."
Little Malfoy switched his eyes to the stain on Potter's collar again, sneering, and real Potter laughed. "In a completely obnoxious way. My god."
His eyes moved back to his parents — at Mr Potter curt and self-righteous, Mrs Potter with a flush of anger on her cheeks. The Malfoys moved away, Mrs Potter's hand coming down onto Harry's shoulder as she watched them. Her voice was distant as she warned Harry against associating with Draco at school, but the real Potter barely seemed to hear what she was saying. His eyes were fixed on her face, his left hand clenching against his robe as though he were forcing himself not to reach out.
Draco turned back to the mirror, noticing that the Watcher Draco in the memory was staring after the Malfoys too, his face frozen. The memory disintegrated into darkness, and Draco shut his eyes for a second. He heard Potter laugh, shakily.
"Last time I found a mirror that showed me my parents, Dumbledore had to hide it to keep me from getting addicted. I almost didn't want to look that time."
"They seemed nice," Draco said. He was a little bit amazed at himself, but it was true. "Prejudiced as hell, but I can't talk much."
Potter shot him a look. "Um. Thanks."
The maze was beginning to feel endless. Draco no longer had any idea which direction they were going in. They were obviously in Wizard Space - there was no way even a building as sprawling as Number Twelve Grimmauld Place had this much room in its cellar. The silver gleam and swirls of the mirror walls around them and above them were beginning to hurt his eyes.
The next memory swirled into being ahead; it faced them directly, revealing a turn in the corridor Draco hadn't even noticed.
As they got closer, Draco realised that he was looking at Potter and Cho Chang. They were a couple of years younger than they were now; he thought it was probably fifth year. Closer still and he was certain of it, since Chang had tears rolling down her face. As he recalled, she'd spent most of his fifth year crying.
Potter made a desperate sort of noise behind him, and he turned to see him staring at the memory. His face was a picture of terror.
"Oh, no. No, don't do this."
He grabbed Draco's arm and pulled him around the corner, but of course the memory kept pace with them, dancing over the walls ahead, changing the light around them.
Chang was hiccoughing, clenching her hands by her side. Mirror Potter looked as though somebody had been kicking him.
"I know it must be horrible for you," Chang sniffed, her voice watery through her tears. "Me m-mentioning Cedric, when you saw him die." She bit her lip. "I suppose you just want to forget about it?"
Mirror Potter looked as though he wanted mostly to be out of that room, but he just made a sort of hopeless, apologetic movement with his hands.
Chang looked away, scrubbing at her eyes. "You're a r-really good teacher, you know," she said, trying to smile.
Oh. The DA, then. Draco should have noticed that they were in the training room version of the Room of Requirement. He would have, if he'd been able to look away from Chang and Potter.
"Come on," the real Potter said next to him. Draco shook his head, his eyes glued to the memory. Potter groaned, the muffled sound suggesting that he was burying his face in his hands.
Chang and Potter in the mirror were staring at each other, suspended. Potter still looked like something caught in somebody's headlights, but his mouth kept opening, too, as though he were about to say something and kept not being able to.
"Look," Chang said, nodding at the ceiling. "Mistletoe."
"Yeah," Potter said. His voice was gruff. "It's probably full of Nargles, though."
Potter groaned next to him again and Draco shook his head. "Oh, you are smooth."
Chang had moved closer, though; ridiculously close, Draco thought. "I really like you, Harry," she said.
"Please, Malfoy," Potter said next to him. Draco watched her lean forward; watched them kissing for a moment, awkward and fumbling. Chang was sniffing damply, inclining her head into the kiss. Draco thought that this should be funny — Potter was obviously dying of embarrassment beside him — but it felt like watching a train wreck. He couldn't take his eyes off them.
Then the Potter in the memory made a soft noise, one hand coming up to her elbow, and he had to.
He could see the memory swirling into nothing again out of the corner of his eye as he looked back at Potter. He wanted to seem normal about this, and maybe mock a bit, but Potter wasn't looking at him anyway. He was bright red, staring straight ahead as he walked.
After a moment he cleared his throat. "These memories aren't just random."
Draco made a non-committal noise.
"I mean," Potter was blushing harder than ever, "they're significant in some way, all of them. Important."
Draco looked at the ceiling. "That was an important moment, then? Because no offence, but it didn't look like such a brilliant kiss. I think you had a bit of dribble at one —"
"Oh my god! Shut up!"
Draco was still unsettled, but he grinned anyway. "So why was it special? Was it —" He stopped as a possibility occurred to him.
Potter was staring at his own reflection in the curving mirror wall ahead. He was frowning fiercely as though he were willing a new memory to appear.
"Potter," Draco said, "was that your first kiss?"
Potter didn't answer. Draco crowed. "It was!"
"You're a prat. I always knew that. I don't know why I ever decided I liked you."
Draco cricked his neck, admiring the flush still creeping up Potter's neck. "Because I'm fantastic, of course. But I'll stop talking about your woeful technique that makes girls cry if you tell me who told you that Nargles made a good pickup line."
Potter shook his head. "Why did I ask you along? I'm so very, very stupid. You're just going to use this whole thing to collect blackmail material, aren't you?"
Draco laughed. "I'm educating you. You've had heaps of chances to collect material of your own, but you're ignoring them." He reached out a hand without thinking and ruffled the hair on the nape of Potter's neck.
Potter shot him a glance, then ducked his head a bit, one hand going to the back of his neck. There was colour on his cheeks again.
Draco flexed his fingers, feeling the sense memory of soft, messy hair and warm skin. He tried to remember what he'd been saying.
"Which way?" Potter asked after a moment, and Draco realised they'd reached yet another fork. All the corridors looked the same, all of them reflected himself and Potter, splintered and re-reflected in different directions. Draco honestly had no idea whether they were getting any closer to the centre or just doing laps around the edge. Or if the maze even had a normal edge and centre; it could be some variant of wizardspace in which a corridor only existed as long as you were in it or could see it.
"Middle," Draco said. Potter led the way.
The memories began to fade into one another after a while. Most of them stayed nothing more than snatches of colour on the walls and just around corners. Draco saw himself swamped in oversized robes on a stool — he wasn't sure whether that was a real memory or the If. A little later there was a tiny scrap of a scene in which Potter stared, horrified, while another boy dangled somebody in school robes from their ankle. Another time he saw a wild flailing of branches that he thought might have been the time he dived under the Whomping Willow to rescue Potter and Granger and Weasley. Potter darted a glance at him, so obviously he'd thought the same thing.
He rubbed at his eyes as they turned down another corridor. The constant gleam of the glass walls was giving him a headache. They were approaching a corner, and Draco could see the edge of a new memory, half-reflected in the opposite wall. He caught a snatch of dialogue.
"... gets all shrill and squeaky when you're angry." Potter's voice sounded oddly plaintive. "Like a really loud house elf."
Draco froze. Shit. Oh, shit. Oh —
The memory was getting solider, he could see. This was going to be a proper one.
He grabbed Potter's shoulder. "Not this corridor."
Potter let himself be tugged back. "Was that my voice? I don't remember saying that. Was it another one from your If thing?"
"Yes. Come on. We're not watching that one."
Potter snuck a look at him. "I've been in every one of your If memories."
Potter stopped, forcing Draco to face him. "I thought you were using the If Sieve to find out things about Voldemort. That's where you got the information about the Ravenclaw Crown, after all."
Draco looked at the wall, wishing it didn't reflect his own face.
"You weren't, were you?"
"No. Can we not talk about this?"
He tried to walk on but Harry stopped him again. "It was something about me, wasn't it? That you were trying to find out?"
Draco squeezed his eyes shut. "Maybe."
When he opened them again Potter was watching him. His eyes were crinkled in a smile; he looked as though he'd won some kind of prize. Draco sort of wanted to hit him and sort of wanted to store the stupid, smug smile up for later when he could look at it again.
Instead, he distracted him. "You're right: these aren't random memories." He grimaced. "Even my luck isn't that bad."
He stopped, something occurring to him. He turned the idea over, looking for flaw. "Actually ... do you think that's why Regulus Black hid the locket here? Because he thought it might be the one thing the Dark Lord couldn't face?"
Potter looked doubtful. "I'm not sure that Voldemort's really that terrified of his memories."
Draco shook his head. "No; but you have to walk through the maze with somebody else."
He could see the moment that Potter got it. His eyes widened. "Oh wow. He'd have to trust somebody else to see — all sorts of things. About his childhood in the orphanage, and about him making the Horcruxes, and — wow. There's no way he'd trust anybody with that."
Draco grinned. "Or with collecting the Horcrux for him, I bet." He shook his head. "What do you know. Regulus was pretty cunning. He might have been somebody worth being related to after all."
A new memory began gathering in scraps of colour in the walls as soon as they started walking again. This one Draco knew immediately wasn't his. The room was completely alien: smooth white walls with disturbingly still photographs, an ugly shiny table and odd, shiny boxy appliances around the walls. It was all obviously Muggle, and Draco had no idea what any of it was for.
The door opened and a small boy slipped inside. Potter, maybe eight years old. His hair was ruffled with sleep and more all over the place than usual, and he was pushing at it with the hand not holding the door, trying to convince it to sit straight. His face was screwed up and anxious.
Draco glanced at the real Potter beside him. He was pale, his face tight. He actually looked a little bit sick; far worse than anything the memory with Chang had evoked.
Draco looked back at the small boy in the mirror, an unpleasant feeling in his stomach. He was reaching up to a cupboard now, standing on tip toes to fumble with a stack of white bowls. Draco supposed that meant this room was a Muggle kitchen.
The door pushing open again behind him made him spin around, clutching a bowl to his chest.
A narrow faced woman in a nightgown had just come in. She stopped in the middle of yawn when she saw Potter, her eyes widening. Then they went narrow with anger.
"You!" She took three quick steps over to Potter, grabbing him by the ear. "What did you do?"
She was tugging at his hair, grabbing at bunches, almost as though she expected it to come off like a wig. Eight year old Potter squirmed.
"Nothing! Ow, ow, I didn't do anything, I swear!"
"VERNON!" The woman let go of Potter suddenly. He backed all the way to the other side of the kitchen.
"I didn't do anything, I promise. It just grew back!"
The woman's mouth thinned. "You will not lie to me, Harry Potter."
"But I didn't."
There were noises beyond the kitchen, now, heavy footsteps on a flight stairs. A big, pink faced man burst into the room, another boy about Potter's age peering behind his legs.
The woman pointed a shaking finger at Potter. "You saw me cut his hair yesterday, Vernon. You saw it."
The other boy opened his pink, piggy little mouth wide, staring at Potter. Then he looked quickly up at his father, anticipation taking over his face.
The man called Vernon stared at Potter too. His face turned from pink to red, his eyes screwing up with anger.
"That's it. You're too soft on the boy, Petunia." He glared at Potter. "I will not put up with this freakishness in my house!"
He stamped over to Potter and grabbed his arm, dragging him along behind him. The woman — Petunia — grabbed the breakfast bowl out of Potter's hands, examining it for damage.
Outside in the corridor, Vernon marched to the bottom of the staircase and flung open a low door. Draco could see a dim little space beyond, where somebody had set up a camp bed. Vernon pushed Potter inside, making him stumble against the bed, and then put one hand on the frame above the door.
"There'll be no meals for you while you play these kind of freakish tricks," he told Potter. The blond boy chose that moment to follow them out of the kitchen, sucking on an ice lolly on a stick. "Petunia," Vernon added, his eyes still on Potter, "bring the key to the cupboard, will you?" His eyes narrowed. "I don't want to even see his face for the next week."
The memory swam and drained away, leaving the clear surface of the mirrror again. Draco could see Potter's face behind him. There was a dangerous stillness to it.
He turned around, slowly. He flexed his fingers, realising that his hands were shaking.
"You know," he said finally, "I learned some cool things as a Death Eater. There are — are some really imaginative ways to kill people, you'd be surprised. I can teach you some if you'd like."
Potter finally looked at him. He let out a shaky laugh, his shoulders relaxing. "Thanks. I don't actually want to kill my relatives, though."
"They were related to you?"
Potter dropped his chin. "Do I really have to bring up Bellatrix Lestrange?"
Draco hesitated. "Okay, that's a point." They kept walking another few moments. "She never locked me in a cupboard, though."
Potter didn't reply.
"I really didn't like them."
Potter looked at him, his face softening. "I know."
Draco looked away, uncomfortable.
He spent the next few minutes trying to work out whether there was any way he could get Potter's relatives' address without letting on what he wanted it for.
They wouldn't have to actually die.
He turned another corner, just ahead of Potter, and caught sight of the memory forming on the wall ahead. Himself, patrolling a corridor late at night, and just behind him another Draco, blinking away dizziness.
He backtracked again, pulling Potter back around the corner.
Potter went reluctantly.
"Was that the same memory as before? Seriously, Draco, what is it?"
"It doesn't matter."
He turned to walk away, but Potter snagged his arm. He looked apologetic but stubborn, as only Potter could look stubborn.
"Whatever it is, the maze is going to keep throwing it at us until we watch it." He scanned Draco's face, then made a frustrated noise. "Malfoy. I think we need to go through it."
Draco squeezed his eyes shut. "Alright! Just — you asked for it, alright?"
Potter lifted his chin, and Draco remembered how much it didn't work to challenge a Gryffindor. He sighed. Then he set his shoulders and turned the corner.
The light dimmed once more, the memory flowing over the walls. It settled to show a corridor at Hogwarts, a low light coming from the witchlights along the walls. Potter was there now, stepping out of the shadows. Sieve Draco spun to face him, startled. Watcher Draco frowned, his eyes flitting between the two boys.
Mirror Potter looked pleased to see him.
"Potter?" Sieve Draco asked. "I thought Weasley was supposed to tie you to your bed or something."
The real Potter made a choking noise.
"I broke the jinx," Mirror Potter was saying, his eyes fixed on Draco. "I didn't want to stay in the dorm."
"What is this, Malfoy?" Real Potter asked. "Why am I acting so ... weird?"
Draco grimaced. "You're under a kind of hex that removes your inhibitions. I don't know anything about it except that the Sieve version of me used it on you in this memory as a demonstration. It seems to be ... um, quite powerful."
The Potter in the memory had just told Draco about Cho kissing him. "After DA once," he clarified. "Everybody had left. She kissed me, but it was all wet, because she was crying."
"Why am I telling you this?" Real Potter was watching himself in the mirror, horrified. "Seriously, why?"
"She was sniffling and her lips were all shiny and wet," Mirror Potter mumbled. His eyes dropped to Draco's mouth and he added, "Like this."
If he hadn't been squirming so badly, Draco might have enjoyed the sight of Real Potter's face as Mirror Potter leaned forward and licked Draco's bottom lip. His eyes grew comically wide. He glanced at Draco and then quickly back at the memory, his cheeks glowing red.
Sieve Draco's protests were becoming less convincing, in the mirror. Potter leaned into the kiss, pressing closer, and whispered,"Shhh." Draco gave a tiny gasp and gave in to the kiss.
Real Draco cleared his throat after a moment.
"They, ah — they do this for a bit," he said, not looking at Potter.
"Gngh?" Potter said faintly.
Draco chanced a look at him and almost bit his tongue. Potter was flushed and staring, his eyes glued to the two boys in the mirror. Mirror Draco had Potter up against the far wall, now, his hands clenching in the front of his pyjamas, one hand sliding underneath, making Potter gasp and arch. Real Potter's eyes kept flicking to the Watcher Draco standing behind the boys in the memory, though. He was staring as avidly as Potter was, his mouth open and his breathing uneven. One hand opened and shut against his side as though he wanted to reach out.
Real Potter drew in a shuddering breath and looked away.
"Does it ..." He cleared his throat. "I mean, how far did they ... go?"
Draco flicked his eyes to the mirror again. He didn't think he could meet Potter's eyes. "Not far. The hex wears off in a minute or two." He thought for a second of Potter's hand, sure and low against the front of Sieve Draco's robes, and the way it had made him pant and drop his forehead onto Potter's shoulder.
He thought he wouldn't mention it.
The memory was beginning to splinter and fade, now. He thought he heard a faint echo of Potter's horrified "Oh god," as the hex wore off, but the smooth silver of the mirror was back now, and he couldn't be sure.
The departing memory didn't leave the corridor empty, for once. There was a small wooden table at the far end, with something gold resting on it.
Potter cleared his throat. "So ... you're gay, then."
Draco narrowed his eyes. "If you're going to use that memory as some kind of proof, then so are you. You're just more deeply in denial."
Potter's cheeks were red, but he wasn't looking at Draco. "M'not in denial. I've known for ages."
"A couple of months," Potter amended.
They'd reached the table. The locket lay on the plain wooden table top, the chain tangled around itself. An ornate S was scored lightly into the curved side.
Potter hesitated, then reached out a hand and scooped it up.
The maze shivered around them, breaking soundlessly into shards of light; then disintegrated. Draco threw his arms up over his head, but there was no glass; just light that faded away. He opened his eyes, blinking, and lowered his hands. They were in the cellar, just outside the arch of the maze.
Potter shot him a glance, then looked back down at the locket in his hands, smiling a bit.
"That was an important memory for you," Potter said, still turning the locket over in his hands.
Draco shut his eyes.
"And you're gay," Potter's voice continued. "And ... whatever question you asked that sieve of yours was about me."
Something tight and painful had gathered in Draco's chest. He took a couple of steps back so that he could lean against the dusty wall. "Honestly, Potter, are you really this much of an admiration junkie?"
"No!" Draco chanced a look at him. He pushed the locket into his pocket, crossing the room. "No," he said, more quietly. He stepped closer still, a careful arm trapping Draco against the wall. "No, it's not —" His mouth was uncertain and happy. "It's just — I didn't know."
Draco felt his heart rate jump, then speed up. His eyes dipped to Potter's mouth; back to his eyes. He had his head tilted down a little, the always-messy fringe falling into his eyes. "Are you — Um. Do you want —?"
Potter smiled, sudden and blinding. "Yeah," he said. "God, so much."
Draco swallowed, his throat dry. Potter was still staring at him, so he leaned forward, wrapping one arm around his shoulder, and pressed their mouths together. Potter's lips fell open immediately, a hum that was partly a laugh but mostly pleasure falling against Draco's mouth. There was heat low in his belly and a tangle of nerves; he needed to touch, to be closer. Potter's hand moved to rest on his hip, tentative then more sure as he pressed nearer. He made a small noise and Draco shivered.
"I didn't know," Potter said again, his mouth moving from Draco's lips to his cheek, his head tilting to press into Draco's neck. "You never —"
"It was completely obvious," Draco mumbled.
Potter laughed, breathless. "It was not. You're impossible to read." He dipped his head again, rubbing his forehead against Draco's fringe. "And — and I love that maze."