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My Hands Never Knew The Time

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Along the quay something stirred,

small and white.

It fractured the floe;

rivers too long stilled by

winter's dark,

and left us skipping stones;

small suggestions of light

in slow moving water.

My Hands Never Knew the Time - Seanchai

 

 


 

 

 

   Petunia Dursley is a sensible, if at times overanxious, woman. She has a sensible husband, sensible friends, and a sensible home which is situated on a sensible street. There is nothing connected to her, for instance an estranged sister, which could be classified as anything but completely and utterly sensible.

   The squalling infant that shows up in the middle of the night on her front doorstep the winter of 1981 changes that entirely.

   The note attached to the tiny sniveling thing says it had once belonged to Petunia's odd sister and her equally odd husband. Before their lives were simultaneously and unceremoniously expunged.

   Petunia can’t claim she is particularly moved by the news of her sister's untimely death. Actually her first instinct is to toss the brat into an orphanage just to be rid of it. She knows trouble when she sees it, blinking limpid, innocent green eyes up at her.

   But, reasons a small voice in the back of her mind, he is family. And it isn’t his fault his parents got themselves killed.

   “Perhaps he can be taught to be sensible.” Petunia reasons, stares down at her own sweet baby who merely gurgles in reply and drools on her dress.

   And so Harry Potter goes on to stay at the Dursley house. And though not all of Petunia’s efforts to ‘normalize’ him prove 100% effective, he becomes a decent sort of houseboy by the time he's 8 years, with only occasional bursts of odd, ‘magical’ behavior.

   There is a bit of an incident one morning, which becomes something of a turning point, a few weeks before the start of term the boy's tenth year. An owl flutters into the house through the mail slot, quite on its own, and plops an envelope onto the table.

   It's a rather unnecessarily large envelope, if you were to ask Petunia, upon which the name: ‘Harry Potter’ is spelled in bold looping letters. It lays inert upon the table, so deceptively innocuous, but Petunia recognizes the format and method of delivery almost at once. It's hard to forget the letter that changed your entire perception of reality.

   From the kitchen, Harry, who is in the middle of cooking breakfast, leans back to peer wide-eyed at the ill-mannered bird who is currently pecking a shrieking Duddley's toast to bits.

   Petunia snatches up the envelope at once and tells the Harry to mind the eggs and for Duddley to: 'For heaven's sake, stop screeching.' before she bustles off to the bedroom, a concerned looking Vernon right on her heels.

   It’s the matter of a moment before she locates her letter-opener and then she is pulling out a thick piece of parchment paper. On it, in the same looping scrawl, are the words which explain exactly how Harry Potter will, despite all of Petunia's best efforts, never, ever be normal.

   She can feel Vernon clenching and unclenching his hands beside her. He’s heaving heavy, frustrated breaths. She can tell he wants to snatch the paper away from her, tear it up, throw it into the fire. He hates odd things as much as she does.

   ‘…We await your reply by owlpost…’ She rereads and gets an idea.

   “Vernon.” She says sharply. “Go back to the kitchen. Make sure that dreadful bird doesn’t leave."

   Her husband gives her a questioning look, but goes.

   If Petunia were another woman, a lesser woman, she might panic. She might flail and burn the letter and cry and hit her sister’s stupid boy for not being normal. But Petunia Dursley is a sensible woman.

   She goes to her writing desk and carefully pens a reply...

 


 

 

 

Eight Years Later...

 

   When Draco aparates into the Dursley’s home, his wand is drawn.

   He expects screams, the crashing of china. Dramatic, climactic, a reaction worthy of the heady anxiety running quicksilver in his veins.

   He finds only silence and an empty house.

   It’s only a few tense seconds before doubts begin to circle him like carrion birds. Had he missed them? Had someone warned them he was coming? What if this wasn’t the house? What if they'd moved, left no forwarding address? What if it's already too late for him?

   Draco makes his way through the tiny living room, panic climbing in his throat, clawing at his windpipe.

   Tonight was a calculated risk, disappearing whilst he ‘picked up the last of his supplies for school’. He isn’t going to have another chance like this for years, years he and his mother do not have.

   He explores the dark kitchen, notices the dishes in the sink, dirty. Which means the family hasn't entirely quit the house, just left for the evening, perhaps?

   Draco hears a soft creaking of floorboards overhead. He pauses, ears perked, straining for the slightest trace of sound.

   “Salazar, please…please…” He begs in barely audible exhalations.

   It comes again as he listens, just a few minute creaks, like someone is tip-toeing across the floor upstairs.

   Draco hurries to the staircase, silences the groaning steps and the dry tapping of his feet as he climbs. He’s met with a locked door at the top, chained and padlocked until the wood of the door itself is barely visible.

   Draco frowns. He’s seen chambers meant to contain transformed werewolves less secure.

   Whatever that Muggle family locked up here, they were afraid of it…

   …or him.

   Draco's pulse beats thick in his throat at the thought.

   A tiny sliding metal panel has been installed into the door itself. A portal for viewing whatever's being kept inside. Draco eases it open to peer into the darkness beyond.

   He notices the boy first, his gangly silhouette stark against the spare light from the window. The boy is frantically jimmying the sill, trying to work it loose.

   A series of ominous creaks split the air, the boy grunts out a word Draco’s only heard from the Mudblood’s at school and the sill jerks upward with a sharp crack and a flurry of splinters and wood fragments.

   Draco sees the nails jutting out from the frame like the teeth of some monster.

   Boards had been placed over the window too, a secondary deterrent against escape, not that it seems to be doing much deterring tonight. The boy immediately begins pushing at them with an almost frenzied desperation.

   Draco mind works quickly. This wasn’t what he’d expected when he’d come here, certainly, not a boy locked away. But he can make it work to his advantage. When he takes the boy, provided this is in fact the Harry Potter, the family will likely believe he’s run away. And if they care as little for him as Draco is beginning to suspect, they won’t bother looking. Even in the unlikely event they do file a report with their puny Muggle authorities, they won't ever find him, not where Draco intends to take him.

   Draco closes the panel and aparates into the room with a sharp ‘crack’.

   The boy jerks as though he’s been hit with a Stinging Hex and whirls on Draco. His eyes are wide and frighted, a cornered animal, the heavy frame of his brow touched with guilt. He spots Draco and his terror becomes marbled bemused confusion.

   “You…who are you...” He starts, retreating towards the window, pressing his back to the groaning planks. “How did you get in here…?”

   Draco raises his wand at the gaping figure and commands. “Show me your scar.”

   “What?” The boy’s hand comes to his fringe, which is, like rest of his hair, flyaway and horrifying. It’s all of it thick and tangled and uncut in a way that says unkempt rather than stylishly disheveled. It must have been a week or more his last bath. His clothes are at least two sizes too big for him; they're dirty and threadbare and hang off the boy's thin bones in baggy, unattractive folds. The collar frames the protruding wings of his clavicle. Draco recognizes the look of a starved body, he's seen plenty in the last few years, sorry sacks of bone held together by skin and desperation. This is not what he expected of the Chosen One.

   The boy continues to gape at Draco, glancing down at the wand in Draco’s hand before casting up again into his eyes. He looks positively mystified, like…

   ...Like he’s never seen a wand before.

   The boy's brow furrows. “You’re a loon-”

   “Stupify.” Draco interrupts, he doesn't have time for this, and watches as the spell wraps itself around and into flesh. The boy's whole body seizes once, twice, before he topples bonelessly to the floor, eyes shut, limbs akimbo.

   Draco stalks quickly over and sweeps aside the thick mess of grimy hair, revealing a livid red scar in the shape of a bolt of lightening emblazoned on the wide forehead. The sign that this scrawny, squalid creature is in fact the one Draco's been searching for.

   Triumph and disappointment make a strange and sickening cocktail in Draco's chest as he pulls Harry Potter into his arms and aparates them both away.

 


 

 

   His mother is waiting for him when he appears in Borgin and Burkes’ dusty stockroom, Harry Potter's unconscious weight tucked close to his side.

   The crease in her brow tells him he is much later than she’d like. But she wastes no time or breath on lectures. She turns and leads him through the aisles of cursed artifacts, towards the very back of the cluttered space.

   “This is he?” Her large, intelligent eyes flicker to the rather unimpressive specimen in Draco’s arms.

   “It is.” Draco confirms.

   His mother nods and carries on. If she’s as disappointed as Draco is, she doesn’t let it show on her face.

   The shop is quiet, closed for hours now. His mother’s part in the plan had been to break into the shop, disable the wards and alarms. They couldn’t risk even paying the owners to leave them alone here. There would be too many questions, clues which someone, a Dark Lord for instance, could use to piece together the Malfoy’s betrayal.

   The cabinet is tucked into a corner, inert and forgotten since the repair of its mate last year and the bloody chaos that followed. That night of brutal, if short-lived, carnage was one of Draco’s more marked successes for his Lord. It had earned him accolades and favor enough, even the offer of a boon. Draco had declined. It was ‘his pleasure to serve his Lord.’ Not a complete lie, but what wanted, the Dark Lord could never give him. Voldemort deals in death, not the returning of people back from the dead. His father, and their lives before the Dark Lord's return, were gone.

   By then Draco was already searching for a way to get out, to escape from the Dark Lord's crushing grasp before it extinguished the sputtering flame that was his family.

   He'd seized upon the first threads of his grandly woven scheme two years ago. The seams of which were the Vanishing Cabinets. The fabric, the realization of a legend.

   Thankfully, Voldemort was not the sort to try the same sort of scheme twice, no matter the degree of success. It was likely he believed the, now former, Headmistress of Hogwarts had already discovered a means to keep the Cabinet in Knockturn Alley from connecting to the other, the one locked in Hogwart’s mysterious Room of Requirement.

   It had pleased Draco not to correct that assumption. A dangerous lie of omission, but it was paying hefty dividends now. The truth of it was the professors hadn’t any idea how Death Eaters had gotten into the castle and past the wards to work their deadly magicks. No one suspected a student, let alone Draco Malfoy, proctor and star seeker of the Slytherin quiddich team, had anything to do with that deadly night. So the Vanishing Cabinets remained a completely functional backdoor into the school, bar a tiny bit of sabotage. Just in case the Dark Lord ever decided to test their functionality. And Draco's honesty.

   Narcissa opens the door and takes the unconscious Potter from Draco's arms. She lays him into the cabinet while Draco reverses the sabotage with a few deft flicks of his wand, before climbing in beside Potter.

   “Five minutes to settle him and then I’ll be back.” He promises. He hopes he isn’t lying to her.

   Narcissa nods and shuts the door.

   Traveling from cabinet to cabinet is not unalike in sensation to Apparation, but with the added unpleasantness of a tingling numbness that feels as though it's passing through ones whole body. It's over in an instant, but the chill lingers at the back of his teeth even after Draco's cast a wordless warming charm over himself.

   He kicks open the door and is pleased to find himself in the room of hidden things. He pulls Potter's still inert body out after him and toward the door he wills into existence.

   This is the riskiest part of his plan. He isn’t supposed to be at school yet. The train doesn’t leave until tomorrow morning and if one of the staff happens to see him…

   He takes a deep breath and pushes open the door, peering carefully around the jamb.

   Fortune, it seems, is still on his side. The hall is empty of persons and the portraits pay him little attention. They became used to his strange comings and goings last year, when he was desperately trying to repair the cabinets. One of the elephants, who calls herself Clementine, even offers Draco a drowsy wave before she goes back to the very serious business of kicking disinterestedly at her unicycle.

   Draco drops Potter to the ground next to the wall.

   He lets the door to the Room of Hidden Things vanish and begins pacing furiously, thinking: A place to keep someone secret. A place to keep someone hidden. A place to keep someone secure.

   Another door appears on his third pass, a simple single door made of smooth cherry, a brass knob bright against the dark wood.

   Acutely aware of how much time he’s spent in the open already, Draco manhandles Potter inside as quickly as he can. He spares only a cursory glance at the room’s décor, enough to decide there’s nothing in the place which Potter could use to harm himself when he wakes.

   He tosses the Golden Boy onto the considerably large bed and leaves.

   In another minute he’s stepping out of the Vanishing Cabinet and into Borgin and Burke’s.

   “It’s done.” Draco reports, levering the door closed behind himself, already taking out his wand and reversing the repairs he’d only just made.

   As soon as his wand has stopped moving, Narcissa takes his arm.

   And in the next instant they are gone.

 


 

   That night Draco lays awake, listening to the muted murmurs of various Death Eaters as they walk the manor’s halls, the fluttering patter of their heels against the polished floors. Every time one begins to draw close, he feels the sick dregs of anxiety curdling in his stomach.

   It’s foolish, he knows. If the Dark Lord...if...Voldem..if he suspected Draco of duplicity, he would have had he and his mother executed immediately upon their return to the manor. Brought to his throne room and gleefully tortured to death as an example.

   They took every precaution they could, he reminds himself. No one knows what he’s done, knows he’s taken his first steps along a path that he hopes will lead to the downfall of their master. No one suspects.

   But Draco also knows people usually feel safest just before they die.

   He doesn’t even try to sleep.

   The memories of Harry Potter are too fresh, too prevalent. He cannot force them down like he planned, sleep and wait for the train to take him away to relative safety tomorrow. He cannot risk the Dark Lord rifling through his mind while he’s unconscious, not while he is so affected.

   So he waits, silent and scared, staring at the up intricate molding laid into his ceiling, tracing the same Rococo lines over and over, willing his thoughts not to wander.

   By the time Dobby pops into his room wringing his hands and informing him breakfast is ready, Draco is already dressed.

   He’s a bit bleary-eyed when he seats himself at the table and across their table al fresco on the back patio, his mother’s eyebrow arches in silent reproach. She’s worried this subterfuge will take a toll on him, not an unreasonable fear. But Draco knows it’s far too late to turn back from this path even if he wanted to.

   Which he does not.

   He will not.

   It is their only hope.

   The Dark Lord does not interrupt their meal, which is a small relief, but not altogether unexpected. He doesn’t care much about Draco’s schooling or Hogwarts much these days. With Dumbledore dead and resistance in Hogwarts all but destroyed, there’s no reason for him to cast his attention in that direction. His singular focus of late has been the ferreting out and utter decimation of the last of the resistance in Wizarding Britain.

   Narcissa rushes them through breakfast as quickly as she can without drawing attention to herself or Draco. It seems she is as nervous as Draco is. But the instant they step outside of the mansion’s wards and aparate to the platform, Draco can feel the tension draining out of her. The clamp of his mother's fingers around his elbow slackens to a gentle press and the gentle line of her smile loses its firmness, becomes more genuine.

   She kisses his brow when he goes to board the train. He has to bend a little to let her. The warmth lingers on his skin even after they’ve left King’s Cross far behind, along with her parting words.

   “You will succeed, Draco.”

 


 

   Albus Dumbledore is the first man Draco watches die.

   It’s brutal and inglorious; as death, he comes to learn in the brutal years which follow, so often is.

   Still, the old headmaster retains his dignity, as much as anyone can while staked to one of the graveyard’s moldering statues, his robes torn, his beard burned away. He’s been beaten, eyes inflamed and blackened, his lips cracked and caked in dried blood. But he stares around the circle of assembled Death Eaters through the swollen slits of his eyes, unafraid. There’s no doubt the headmaster of Hogwarts understands he will not survive the night, but he seems unconcerned with the danger, even a bit amused.

   “Severus, where are you, my friend?” He calls jovially, voice ringing clear across the tombstones. “I can’t imagine you’ll have wanted to miss being rewarded by your old Master.”

   No one steps forward, of course. No one even acknowledges his good-humored blustering. All eyes are turned to the center of their congregation, to Wormtail as he uncovers his precious burden and settles it gently into the softly steaming cauldron. 

   Draco himself stands, comfortably hidden behind his own mask. He has been allowed here, his father cowing all other protests. Draco is a Death Eater in all but mark; he has earned his place amidst his comrades when he delivered up Dumbledor into their hands. He is cold, impatient, excited; wants to bounce on the balls of his feet. He has been waiting for this moment for ages: the resurrection of the Dark Lord. But he curbs the impulse, keeps himself rigidly at attention as Wormtail draws a short, cruel looking knife from his robes and turns to face the old headmaster.

   For all it took years of planning to capture the headmaster of Hogwarts, his part in the ritual is almost disappointingly brief.

   A flick of a knife, a drop of red into a smoking black cauldron, gouts of flame and thick sulfuric fog belching up from the mouth of the cauldron. A pop, a hiss, a shape wrapped in shadow rises from the pit and lightening splits the night sky.

   Their Lord is risen.

   Terror and a giddy sort of euphoria enshroud Draco as he watches miles of ghostly white skin emerge, stretched taut over tightly coiled muscles. Naked and primitively commanding. He is helpless to do more than watch, his mouth agape, as he finally grasps what true power looks like.

   Slit pupils open and a large, sallow-skinned hand reaches out, grasping, empty until Wormtail places his Lord’s wand into the long, spindly fingers. Voldemort sighs, as if another, unseen measure of himself has been restored along with his wand. And then his attention turns to Dumbledore.

   “Old…man…” The first words Voldemort speaks in nearly fifteen years emerge husky from his throat. The crunching of old, dry bones.

   Draco watches his Lord slither from the cauldron, naked pale skin gleaming as he steps to the helplessly pinioned wizard. His enemy.

   “You are finished.” Voldemort cackles, tangling a hand in what scraggy, chard bits are left of the old man’s beard. “And I am…victorious.”

   Dumbledore stares at the Dark Lord, eyes steely, serious. Unafraid.

   “You are quite mistaken, Tom.” Gasps ripple along the gathered Death Eaters at the sound of their Lord’s name spoken aloud. Albus smiles at their reaction, or his own private joke, Draco cannot tell. It deepened the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, spreads his broken lips around bloodied teeth.

   “There is another who will defeat you...” His words are thick, a little slurred, but still somehow masterful. “I believe he has once already.”

   It feels to Draco as though everyone in the clearing is holding their breath. The air is thin with silence, fragile, breakable with the words no one is brave enough to say.

   Harry Potter is a myth. Everyone knows he doesn’t exist.

   Draco’s eyes trace up to watches his Lord. The dark one is trembling with rage.

   “A pity...” He hisses and raises his wand. “...you’ve chosen to waste your last words on lies.”

 


 


   Draco takes his time unpacking and settling in. He managed to nap a little on the train ride which has taken the edge off his exhaustion, but he’s still tired and anxious and all he really wants to do is crawl into bed and not emerge until the term is done. But he has work to do.

   He declines an invitation from Blaise to head down to the lower dungeons. Apparently the Hogwarts ghosts are having a bit of a get together, very hush, hush.

   Blaise says he overheard the Bloody Baron talking to Nearly Headless Nick and mentioned they invited a couple of vampires and a ghoul. Draco can’t imagine the headmistress would ever approve such a gathering. Umbridge, is notoriously squeamish about and around magical creatures. But even if it doesn’t turn out to be a rumor, Draco has other, more pressing concerns on his mind.

   He needs to go up to the seventh floor tonight to check on his captive. Harry Potter has been locked in his room with no food or water since last night. Draco has no delusions that he any sort of a good person. He's not. But he has no intention of letting a perfectly good resource starve to death. That would be irresponsible.

   Blaise makes some token threat about dragging Draco along to the next one, but when Pansy knocks at the door, he’s quick enough to leave with a wink and a smile.

   Draco gives them a quarter of an hour before he leaves and makes sure to spell the curtains on his bed closed after him. Just in case.

 


 

   Draco is prepared for his captive’s ill-conceived bid for freedom when he opens the door. Which is why Harry Potter doesn’t get more than halfway across the room before Draco’s put him in a full body-bind.

   He watches dispassionately as the skinny thing slides to a stop at his feet, struggling fruitlessly at the magic bonds wrapped around his arms and legs and spitting Mudblood curses.

   Draco steps over him, feeling a bit spiteful. The Boy Who Lived can't even curse like a proper Wizard. Somehow that's even more backward than the fact that Harry Potter, Golden Boy, Chosen of the Wizarding World, had never seen a wand before yesterday.

   Draco tosses the plate on the boy’s bed, a bit petulant, and doesn't mind the food which slops over to stain the duvet. Behind him, Harry Potter is still yelling abuse and threats. And about as intimidating as a wet Krup.

   Draco rolls his eyes and eases onto his haunches next to the furious boy. He sticks his wand in Harry’s face and a small part of him enjoys the way all the boy’s venom dries up at once and his eyes grow a little wider. He’ll learn to fear Draco’s power at least, even if he may never properly fear Draco himself.

   “I am going to release you.” He says evenly. “I assume you need to piss, unless you’ve gone in the corner like a proper savage.”

   Potter’s eyes narrow and his lips clamp together in a mulish pout that could almost be described as attractive if it didn’t belong to a puny, unwashed Squib. Or maybe just this puny, unwashed Squib in particular.

   “I’ll take your silence to mean you’re not completely uncouth.” Draco jabs easily. “Once you’re done washing up you can come back out and eat. Do not. Attempt to escape again.” He taps his wand lightly on the boy’s cheek for emphasis. 

   “Do we have an understanding?”

   Potter doesn’t speak for a moment, but Draco can practically see the cogs spinning behind his eyes. Draco wants to snort. This boy’s no Slytherin; he’s got absolutely no subtlety. But evidently, the immediate needs of stomach and bladder must win over the desire to be childish, because Harry Potter’s gaze flickers to Draco and he nods. Just once. His eyes are still blazing hot with anger.

   “Yes.” He spits. “We have an understanding.”

   Draco can’t help the sarcastic little smile that spreads across his lips. He doesn’t believe Potter for an instant.

   He stands up and takes a few steps back. The charm comes off and Potter eases himself up, uncertain until Draco points to a door that hadn’t been there until Draco came in tonight. He hadn’t had time to think of essentials last night. But the Room was more than able to accommodate the few changes Draco had requested: a lavatory specifically. It was just practical. Draco knows there will be stretches of time he’ll have to stay away from this place; times he won’t be able to find an excuse sneak away and to come to this floor. And he would not force anyone to sleep in the same room as their own excrement. They they are wizards, not beasts.

   Harry Potter’s steps falter when they approach the door.

   “This wasn’t here before.”

   Draco huffs out a sigh through his nose. This boy really is thick.

   “It's magic, Potter. Can you get with the program, please?” Draco replies automatically, and is a little sarcastic for it. He’s busy keeping track of the minutes in his head. He knows he has at least an hour before Pansy starts complaining about being bored and her feet hurting. And it'll be another half an hour, an hour if Draco's lucky, before she convinces Blaise to head back to the dorms. He's still got most of an hour left, but Draco would really rather not spend all of that time getting Potter to take a fucking dump.

   Harry Potter darts a glance over his shoulder, his brows furrowed. His eyes fix on Draco’s wand, like he’s imagining what he’d do if he got a hold of it. Draco has a private little smirk over that. If Potter ever did manage to get his hands on Draco's wand, he wouldn’t even know which end to hold, let alone cast any spells out of it.

   Potter likely comes to this conclusion as well, or at least decides that fantasizing about it is useless at this point. He presses his lips together and ducks into the bathroom. Draco contemplates making him piss with the door open, but decides there wouldn’t be much point to it. He added the lavatory so he wouldn’t have to stand babysit Potter’s…potty breaks.

   Draco snickers a little because maybe a small part of him is still eleven. It feels strange in his throat, an anomalous interloper he hasn’t seen in years.

   He’s missed it.

   “You have ten more seconds before I come in after you.” He calls just to hear the indignant squawk from inside and snickers again when, eight seconds later, the door burst open. Potter glares at him and Draco can’t help himself.

   “Did you remember to wash your hands?”

   Potter doesn’t answer. Instead he turns and stalks over to the bed before plopping himself face down on it. He doesn't touch the food.

   Salazar, what a drama queen.

   Draco’s amusement slides a little sideways into annoyance.

   “Food’s there beside you.” He says.

   “I’m not hungry.” Potter replies mulishly.

   “Merlin’s balls.” Draco curses under his breath. To the boy he says. “Fine, go ahead and be a child. It’ll be there when you figure out you can’t eat your pride.” He turns and heads for the exit. He’s just about had enough of the ‘Chosen One’ for one day.

   He reaches for the knob and Harry Potter calls out.

   “Who are you? Did my Aunt and Uncle hire you?”

   Draco glances back at the boy on the bed. He’s frowning, confused. Still simmering with anger.

   “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

   Potter opens his mouth, like he’s about to explain, but he seems to change his mind. His scowl worsens.

   “Well then, why did you kidnap me? What are you going to do to me?”

   And that’s the real question, isn’t it? Before he knew Harry Potter was all but ignorant of his magical heritage, Draco had intended to use him; either to fulfill his prophesied purpose or to hand over to the Dark Lord. In light of his recent revelations, mostly the ones where Potter doesn't know about said prophesied purpose or even about magic in general, Draco has absolutely no idea what he’s going to do. He feels, a bit like a child who’s begged his parents for a pet, swears he’ll feed and walk it and, once he finally gets the fucking thing, he discovers actually having it is nothing like he’d imagined.

   The easiest and quickest solution to this conundrum would be to arrange for his mother to ‘uncover Potter’s true whereabouts’ and hand him over to Voldemort for whatever gruesome fate awaited him. The Malfoy's would be heroes, their loyalty beyond reproach.

   But for how long? How long would it take Voldemort to grow suspicious once more, seeing enemies behind every corner? How long would it take him to make Draco the scape goat? How long before his mother was found harboring treasonous thoughts?

   No, turning Potter over to the Dark Lord's diabolical appetites is not the way forward.

   But the alternative…

   Draco looks once again at his captive.

   He is pale, he'd probably spent the majority of his time locked in that room. In proper light, boy’s clothes are almost comically large. The collar sags almost to his sternum, but not chic or fashionably. Potter is skinny; skinny in the way that suggests he’s been intimately acquainted with hunger for years.

   This is Harry Potter. This scrawny, pasty, untrained child is the Savior of the Wizarding world.

   For this Draco risked everything.

   Draco wants, for one long moment, to cry.

   He has no answer for Potter.

   And so he says. “I’ll be back tomorrow.” And slams the door behind him.

 


 

   The first day passes as one long blur of faces and facts Draco doesn’t remember. He blesses his mother for the package of self-annotating quills she tucked into his trunk when he looks over that days notes. It wouldn’t do for his grades to dip in his last year. He does have to keep up appearances.

   He didn't sleep again that night, marking the second in two days with no rest. Draco has too many thoughts and plots flying around his brain, but he’s confident he can prioritize. Though the way his nights are trending, it might take a few Dreamless Sleep potions. He's going to do this. He has to do this.

   It starts that night: he begins by stuffing his face at dinner, laughing at Millicent’s recounting of a practical joke that had left two Ravenclaw girls sneezing ants all day. He titters with Pansy about the unflattering cut of so and so’s robes and which of the Sixth Year Hufflepuff boys look the most edible.

   His friends don’t say it, but the way Blaise bumps his shoulder when they’re on their way to the dungeons afterwards says he’s glad Draco’s ‘back to normal’.

   Draco rolls his eyes and shoves Blaise away. He wishes he didn’t have to pretend.

   He enter's the common room and is set upon almost immediately by Nott, who drags him into a game of Wizarding chess and by the time Draco wanders up to bed, he’s forgotten completely about his problem.

   The one named Harry Potter.

   He remembers it the instant he opens his eyes the next morning.

   The next several minutes are a flurry of muttered curses, hurried dressing and silencing charms. Draco jams his feet into his shoes and practically sprints out of the common room.

   The Tempus he casts says it’s about a quarter past six. Which means Potter hasn’t been fed since the day before yesterday. Draco feels a small pang of guilt and pushes open the door to the common room. He’s barely been in charge of Potter for three days and he hasn’t even been able to feed him consistently.

   The elves are confused when he arrives in the kitchens, asking for food since breakfast is going to be served in another hour. But they've been instructed not to talk back, especially not to a Pureblood wizard and soon enough Draco is pacing the seventh floor hall with a hot and heavy-laden plate in his hands.

   Guilt and urgency make him careless. He speeds past the blank stretch of hall, one, two, three…Potter’s prison, Potter’s prison…Potter’s prison…

   The door appears and he pulls it open, steps inside the dark room, eyes roving for Potter.

   Harry almost manages to snag the wand from his pocket.

   Almost.

   Draco sees the boy out of the corners of his eyes, feels his grasping hand at the corner of his robes. It's panic that makes him act, instinct telling him to keep his wand safe, has him jumping to one side. It doesn't occur to him that Potter doesn't know magic and Draco probably weighs half again what he does until he's already moving out of the way.

   Potter stumbles forward, his momentum carrying him a couple of half steps forward, bent double and for an instant they stand, deadlocked, staring at one another. They realize the same instant:

   The door’s still open.

   Draco drops the plate, claws for his pocket as Potter starts to turn.

   He’s leaning into a sprint when Draco’s fingers wrap around the polished wood, draws it out. He’s already spitting the incantation.

   The spell catches Potter in the back, flattening him. He lands with half of his body out in the hallway. His legs are splayed awkwardly, his arms tucked uncomfortably under him. But Potter doesn't move, he can't move. He's been Petrified.

   Draco can feel his pulse in his throat when he scrambles to drag Potter back into the room and slams the door closed. Adrenaline makes his head fuzzy, his reproach sharp.

   “You can’t go out there you fool.” He shouts. Potter is looking up at him, still frozen, loathing in his eyes.

   He doesn't understand, Draco thinks. Potter doesn't know that to go outside would be a death sentence. There is no place he can go in the world of magic that Vol...Voldemort couldn't find him. It was a small miracle Potter had evaded detection for as long as he did. Maybe it would’ve been kinder to have left him with his Muggle Aunt and Uncle, in ignorance of his birthright. Draco pushes those thoughts aside, it’s far too late for them now. Even if he thought the Muggles would take Potter back, there’s no way he can arrange to move him.

   No. There is no turning back. For either of them.

   Calm slowly begins to replace the stampeding terror in Draco's chest and the beginnings of an idea fill the silence in its wake. There is...perhaps another way forward. It's ridiculous and foolish and...Draco must be utterly mad to even consider it. Or desperate. And those tend to look similar from the outside and they tend to produce eerily similar results.

   Draco takes a deep breath, puts on an air of defeat and flicks his wand. Potter snaps instantly into motion. He scrambles backward on his hands until his progress is halted by the side of the bed. He stays there, motionless except for his harsh panting, panic, not exertion. He likely remembers Draco’s previous threat and is wondering what Draco plans to do to him.

   Draco extends his wand, but only to vanish the plate of food. When Potter’s face goes slack with remorse Draco clears his throat.

   “I’ll make sure someone brings you food every day.” He says.

   “Don’t do me any favors.” Potter spits back, his eyes averted.

   Draco tamps down on the urge to hex the ill-mannered wretch. He has the perfect one in mind too, wonders how Potter would enjoy burping slugs for a few hours.

   Instead he crosses his arms, makes his voice soft. “This is my fault. I...owe you an explanation.” The deferential words taste sour and dishonest in Draco's mouth, but he keeps it from his face.

   Potter’s focus snaps on to him, confusion mars the anger and fear. Better than rejection. Draco continues.

   “I can’t tell you, not…everything, not right now.” He runs through the script in his head between manufactured pauses. It had been a while since he’s had to ad-lib like this. He has to give Potter enough to get him thinking, but not so much he can’t spin a proper story later.

   “They’re expecting me soon. But I promise, I’ll explain everything when I come back. For now, just please believe me when I say this is probably the safest place you can be.”

   Potter snorts, but doesn't move when Draco leaves.

   It's not a positive sign exactly, but right now Draco will take every victory he can get.

 


 

   The elves are doubly confused when he shows up a second time that morning. He orders one, a flighty, biddable creature, to bring Potter food three times a day and to maintain the room.

   He strides into the great hall feeling immensely pleased with himself. He doesn’t know why he hadn’t considered using the elves before. It took the pressure off him for Potter’s upkeep and the creature, now properly instructed and sworn to secrecy, would never be able to tell a soul. Draco had, of course, also made the shivery thing swear he would not apparate Potter anywhere for any reason and, if such a request were ever made, to tell Draco at once.

   It would give him time for important things; like schoolwork. And figuring out just what mixture of truth and lies he was going to feed Potter when the time was right.

   Draco seats himself at the table and makes himself a tea.

   Such delicate matters, after all, could hardly be considered on an empty stomach.

 


 

   He takes his time, allows Potter some good food, maybe generate a little goodwill, while he carefully spins his tale.

   In the meantime there are certain nuances to taking care of a captive, things Draco never considered until he had one of his own. Things like washing and feeding and taking it out for walks in the park. He’s figured out feeding. He checks on Potter semi-regularly, as gaps in his effusive pile of homework and the observance of his ever-wary roommate's allow, just to make sure the elf is still doing its job. Which it is. House Elves are good for some things after all.

   He’s got facilities covered, or...well, mostly covered.

   The third visit he realizes the bathroom needs a shower, mostly because he’s starting to smell unwashed human every time he walks into Potter’s room; and really, one can only tolerate that stench for so long. Potter seems to feel the same since he’s freshly washed the next time Draco visits. But he’s slopped himself back in his wrinkled, smelly, too big Muggle clothing. Probably since he has nothing else to wear. Potter wasn’t exactly given time to pack a trunk, not that Draco feels bad about it. But he does resolve to procure Potter another few sets of clothing as soon as possible.

   He doesn't approach Potter about his lie, or the promised explanation, not right away, and both to his surprise and delight, Potter doesn't press either. Draco decides it would be better if they grow more comfortable with one another. Or at least, comfortable enough for Potter to consider the possibility that Draco might have his best interests at heart. He's not exactly holding his breath, but time does work wonders.

   So he does take his time, makes sure to keep Potter fed and clothed and, when he finally thinks about it, entertained.

   Draco’s days are filled with schoolwork and friends and scheming and books and chess matches and anything else he wants; more or less, when he wants it: a perk of being the Slytherin Prince of Hogwarts. It takes him wondering what Potter does when he isn’t around before Draco even considers he might be bored.

   That next morning Draco piles a handful of books onto the desk opposite Potter’s bed while Potter blinks blearily at him from under the covers. When he returns that night, Potter doesn’t even bother to look up from his reading.

   All in all, a positive step forward.

 


 

   Potter freezes mid-chew when Draco steps inside. It's been nearly three weeks since the term started. He’s holding a drumstick, which Draco knows from his own recently finished dinner was quite delicious. Potter had been inhaling his food with obvious relish, as if he'd never tasted chicken in his life. Now he looks guilty, a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

   “Dinner’s to your satisfaction, then?” Draco asks. A small chuckle surprises him as it bubbles up from his chest. Surprising because it feels genuine.

   Potter doesn’t move for a long second, seems to be considering whether he should keep eating or spit out the mouthful, just to be spiteful. At length he probably decides it isn’t worth wasting good food because he pulls a face and makes a show of tearing another bite of meat from the bone. He eyes Draco, eyebrows raised as if daring Draco to say something about it.

He looks better, now that he's wearing clothes that fit and is bathing regularly at least. He may have also gained some weight, what with all of the good food he's been getting, but Draco wouldn't necessarily swear to that. His hair is still as much of a nightmare as ever.

   “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.” Draco smirks before turning back to the door.

   “Well, I only came to make sure you’d gotten your meals.” He makes sure his tone is apologetic as he thumbs through the pile of books scattered on the desk. He'll have to get new ones tomorrow. He smirks privately to himself, imagines Potter having to slog his way, bleary eyed, through 'Hogwarts, a History'. “Have a good night.”

   “Hey!” Potter yells around the chicken in his mouth.

   “Hm?” Draco feigns innocence when he turns to look over his shoulder. He knows exactly what Potter’s about to ask for as soon as he sees the resolve on the boy's face.

   “You said you were going to explain everything the next time you came back.” He strips off the last of the flesh from the leg and begins worrying at the bone. Like an ill-bred dog.Draco represses a sneer of disgust. Obviously this one wasn’t taught proper table manners at any point in his life.

   “I…” He pauses for effect. “Yes, I did.” He purses his lips, pretends to be considering and then sighs. He goes to the desk, pulls out the chair and seats himself facing the foot of the bed. Potter’s staring at him, all suspicion. But he’s no longer openly hostile. Baby steps.

   Draco sits, his elbows on his spread knees, hands clasped between them. He’s certain his mother would keel over dead if she ever saw him sitting this way, but he needs to seem open, approachable. Honest.

He takes a deep breath. He’s had days to spin his story. He's memorized every syllable.

“The legend says 17 years ago, a great darkness spread across Europe. A wizard of great and terrible power brought the whole of Britain to its knees. He called himself Lord Voldemort.”

Draco can not help the shudder that runs down the length of his body as he utters the name. He’d practiced, said it over and over again in his mind, afraid every second the Dark Lord would appear beside him like a summoned demon. Ready to drag him into Hell.

Harry shoots him an odd look. Once more Draco is reminded how little Potter understands, how he will likely never understand the power that comes with that name. He has not experienced the dread and terror that comes with knowing the Dark Lord. And for a moment, Draco actually envy’s him his simple, Muggle understanding of the world.

“It was foretold that a child would be born, a child who would rise up and defeat the Dark Lord.”

Potter still looks confounded.

“Voldemort, determined to prove this prophecy wrong and reckless in his power, confronted the child while he was still in his crib. He murdered the child’s parents, but when he attempted to do the same to the boy…” Draco reached up to his own forehead, traced his index finger in a jagged line down his own brow.

“They say the Dark Lord vanished that night, leaving behind only a scar in the shape of a lightning bolt on the infant’s head.”

Potter’s mouth is agape.

“Many believed him to be dead...” Draco continues. “...along with the child. But the Dark Lord has since returned and has once again plunged the world into chaos. He rules, and kills at his pleasure. Yet hope remains. There is one thing that can still defeat him. One person.” Draco amends, but doesn’t clarify. The meaning is obvious. He stares in silence at the boy sitting on the bed.

Potter lets out a shaky laugh.

“You are absolutely stark raving mad.”

When Draco doesn’t answer, Potter looks at him, his eyes searching for any hint of deception in Draco’s face. When he finds none, his assertive denial gives way to doubt and then slowly, to consternation.

“You’re serious.”

He gets up, pacing, scrubbing hands through scraggly hair.

“I’m not a ‘savior’.” He says, whirling around to face Draco. His arms and face emote wildly.

“I’m not anybody at all. I’m just an orphan whose parents died in an auto accident. That’s how I got the bloody scar.” He pushes back his bangs to reveal the jagged pink line on his forehead. He really has no idea just how special that scar makes him. It’s pathetic. It's infuriating.

“Your aunt and uncle really didn’t tell you anything.” Draco asks. He doesn’t have to fake the disbelief in his voice. He cannot fathom how anyone could be so short-sighted. So ignorant.

He doesn’t give Potter the chance to answer. It’s obvious enough what his stupid Muggle family told him.

“But surely you’ve had some idea you weren’t like them.” He gestures to Potter. “Even infants have magical outbursts. Shattering windows or levitating chairs, surely something odd has happened to or around you in the last 18 years.”

Potter’s face grows distant. “Not often. Sometimes my uncle would shave my head and the hair would grow back overnight. Or if I got really mad, sometime the dinner table would start shaking...” Potter trails off.

“My aunt and uncle preferred I kept my…’oddness’ to a minimum.”

Draco makes a rude noise.

Potter frowns over at him. “They weren’t as awful as all that. They fed and clothed me when they didn’t have to, took care of me.”

“Is that why were you trying to escape when I arrived?”

Potter visibly deflates. His eyes cast about the room, as if the walls will sprout the answer.

Draco stands and stalks over to Potter. He arranges his expression into one of reasonability.

“I won’t say that I did you any favors taking you from that house. I won’t say it was for your own good, or tell you that you ought to thank me, because it would all be a load of bollocks.”

Potter frowns warily up at Draco.

“You may not believe this now, or ever. But what I did, I did to protect you.”

“Protect me.” Potter repeats, not...unkindly. “From that Voldemort guy?”

Draco cannot help the horrified laugh that bubbles up from this throat. He can’t imagine what his face looks like right now.

It's strange how freely Potter uses the name. Like he has no respect, no awe of the impressive power and evil attached to it. Draco wonders how Potter might've spoken it if he'd ever met the Dark Lord. Would it be any different? Would there be fear in his eyes as he muttered the name under his breath. Probably there would be no change, or perhaps only disdain, the Chosen One, vanquisher of Voldemort withholding even the least of the Dark Lord's accolades, his own respect.

Potter is watching him, bemused, considering, when Draco composes himself.

“What?”

The look vanishes. Potter’s eyes dart away again.

“Nothing.” The tossle-headed teen folds his arms across his chest.

“So, do I have to stay here forever?”

Draco swallows, shakes his head.

“Leaving...isn't a good idea. So long as the Dark Lord is alive, he will continue to search for you.”

“As long as he’s alive…” Draco can see the wheels in the boy’s head turning. He might as well be writing it out on parchment it’s so obvious. He’s connecting the rather obvious dots Draco’s laid out.

“Why don’t you stop beating around the bush?” He snaps, his face darkening. “You expect me to do it.”

“If there were anyone else…” Draco starts to say. Potter makes a sound that’s part disgust, part frustration.

“You really are absolutely mad. I’m not going to kill someone, anyone, just on your say so. How do I even know you’re not just feeding me a load of bullshit?”

“You don’t.” Draco admits, surprising them both. “But...I think there’s a way I can show you, if you give me some time.”

Potter rolls his eyes and turns back to the bedside table. Hogwarts: A History is bookmarked at the halfway point.

“Do whatever you want. It’s not like I’m going anywhere.”

“My pensive?” Narcissa frowns. “Of course, Draco. I’ll have one of the elves bring it directly.” She doesn’t ask what he needs it for. She’ll have her suspicions, but she can’t risk asking, not even across a private floo call.

“How are your studies?” She asks instead.

He tells her. Mentions his work in Advanced Arithmancy, Transfiguration, Charms. He is, of course, practically assured an ‘E’ in Potions. It’s by far his best subject, though Arithmancy and Ancient Runes are close seconds. It's almost a pity there's no class in advanced jinxes and hexes. Draco would lay odds most Slytherins felt the same way.

“The castle’s dreadful though.” He throws in casually. “I noticed the seventh floor’s been drafty lately, cold and it’s in a horrible state.”

“Do you expect it will be repaired soon?” His mother asks sharply. She understands.

“Oh yes.” Draco assures her. “The project is already underway. It should be finished before the weather turns too poorly.”

“That’s a relief.”

Narcissa Malfoy’s face disappears for a moment. In another few seconds she’s back. She looks apologetic.

“I’m sorry, I have to go. I’ve been summoned. I can’t keep him waiting.”

Draco feels a chill shiver across his skin. “It’s not-” He cuts himself off.

His mother’s face pinches in warning. “I’ll make sure Dobby delivers the pensive to you shortly.”

She breaks the connection and Draco is left to stare into the flames and curse himself. He can’t allow himself those sorts of rookie mistakes. He might’ve given them up if there was anyone listening to their conversation.

Even if he hadn’t, the thought of his mother being summoned to an audience with the Dark Lord is enough to freeze the blood in his veins.

She’ll be flawless, will give up nothing. Of that Draco is certain. But one day it won’t be enough and then there won’t be anything Draco can do, but watch as his mother is taken from him, just like his father.

Either way he is operating on borrowed time.

 

The fidgety, flop-eared creature called Dobby delivers the pensive that night. It is all stuttering words and deep bows and is so aggravatingly servile, Draco sends it back to the manor with an annoyed kick.

He doesn’t have the opportunity to sneak away to Potter’s room until that weekend though. Blaise is being frustratingly attentive to his comings and goings of late, questioning Draco incessantly if he feels Draco has been away for too long. It's maddening.

He manages to slip away Saturday, the pensive shrunk and concealed in a pocket of his robes.

When he opens the door to Potter’s room, the other boy is waiting for him just on the other side.

“Where have you been?” He sounds annoyed. “I’ve been going out of my mind for days.”

Draco ignores him in favor of pulling out the pensive and returning it to its original size.

“Maybe this will help entertain you.” He says wryly.

Potter eyes the bowl warily. “What is it?”

“It’s called a pensive.” Draco supplies, setting it down on a patch of empty floor and settling himself cross-legged in front of it. “We use it to explore memories.”

“You can do that?” Potter is seating himself next to Draco, his tone a little incredulous, a little awed.

“Magic, Potter.” Draco drawls and reaches for his wand. He presses the tip to his temple and pulls out a long silvery strand which he collects in a vial.

Potter is goggling at him.

“The fuck is…”

“The memory I’m going to show you.” Draco replies, tipping the vial into the pensive. They watch the surface ripple once before becoming smooth and placid.

“So, does it play like a movie, or what?” Potter glances at Draco.

“A what?”

“A movie.” Potter stares at him like Draco’s the one suddenly spewing nonsense words.

“Just...follow my lead.” Draco says wearily and leans forward.

 

She was a pretty woman once. Older, but with hazel eyes which danced when she laughed and a head of chestnut hair that was constantly escaping the braid in which she kept it.

Today it hangs in dirty clumps around her face, falling in front and then away from her face as she slowly spins above the long polished banquet table. One eye is caked shut by the blood on her face, oozing from numerous scabrous wounds. Her good eye rolls around the room, frantic and terrified. Every breath is hoarse, shallow.

The one seated at the head of the table speaks. His voice is loud and condescending. He points his wand at the unfortunate woman as he addresses the room.

"Wizards, she says, must accept these thieves of their knowledge and magic.” No one speaks. The table, the very air seems to be holding its breath.

“The dwindling of the pure-bloods is, says Professor Burbage, a most desirable circumstance... She would have us all...mate with Muggles.”

Voldemort says this as though it is the most amusing and ludicrous thing he has ever heard in his life. The Death Eaters at the table hiss and murmur their own dissent. One, a woman with wild dark curls, begins retching.

“Severus.” The woman whispers, begging. “Severus, Severus, please.”

The Dark Lord’s face twists into something cruel and he reaches out with his wand.

“Avada Kedavra.”

There is a single flash of green light that catches and folds itself into the woman named Charity Burbage. There is no fanfare, no sound, no swelling music or cries of shock and dismay.

She is simply dead.

Voldemort allows her corpse to collapse onto the table, limbs askew, eye wide. He stares back dispassionately, as one would a piece of trash on the sidewalk.

“Negini.” He calls softly.

 

Draco emerges from the memory shaken. He’d forgotten the raw, unbridled dread that had settled over him that night. Four months before his father died.

He notices Potter beside him. His face is flushed, he’s shaking and blinking back tears.

“That’s…” His voice breaks. He pushes up, staggers away from Draco, the pensive. “That really happened?”

“A bit ago, yeah.” Draco confirms.

“He just…killed that poor woman.” Potter pushes up from the floor, starts pacing, running fingers through his hair.

Draco rises to join him. He keeps his voice gentle, he can sense Potter is at a fragile tipping point.

“And he’ll keep killing, anyone who gets in his way, until he’s stopped.”

Potter freezes. Like he didn’t realize until that moment, everything Draco’s been telling him up until that point, that it’s got to be him. Harry Potter is the one who’s supposed to defeat the Dark Lord.

“How could I even…?” He starts to ask. His voice trails off and he has to try a second time.

“I don’t even know how to do magic.”

Draco reaches out, touches the tips of his fingers to Potter’s shoulder. He doesn’t dare do more than that. He isn’t sure the depth of their fledgling bond.

“I could teach you.”

He expects to be rebuffed. This is only the first stage in his plan, his intricate design to trick and trap Harry Potter into acquiescence.

He’s not expecting the gentle fingers which wrap around his wrist, or the bold stare behind old glasses.

“Okay.” Potter says simply, passion dripping from every syllable.

Merlin. Draco thinks, a swirl of delight curling in his belly.

The Boy Who Lived is a bloody Gryffindor.

 

The thing about Gryffindor’s (about any of the non-Slytherin Hogwarts houses really), but specifically Gryffindor’s; is that they’re almost pathetically easy to manipulate. All their talk about bravery and courage and boldness; it’s all shorthand for stubborn, short-sighted stupidity. They combine the Hufflepuff's over-excitable weakness to pathos (provided one appealed directly to their sense of duty and honor). They exhibit none of the Ravenclaw’s tendency to over-analyze a fact or situation. They tended to charge in, no holds barred once their mind's been made. No matter how ill-conceived or dangerous the resolution.

Draco is a little ashamed he didn’t see it earlier.

A Hufflepuff would have sat themselves in the corner and cowered whenever Draco entered the room, or at least a little more cowed by his show of force. A Ravenclaw would likely have been more preoccupied with sussing out every last aspect of their magical prison. A Slytherin...well they wouldn't have found themselves in this sort of situation in the first place.

But Potter...Potter had immediately attempted to bludgeon his way to the front door through Draco, a vastly superior foe; not just once, but twice.

There's no doubt. Harry Potter is as Gryffindor as it's possible to be.

Draco felt like Christmas and his birthday had all rolled in on the same day.

He’d be able to intimidate a Hufflepuff, but he’d never convince one to stand against the Dark Lord. A Ravenclaw might have the necessary knowledge or drive, but they’d lack a fundamental disregard for self. Which, in this particular set of circumstances, is vital.

It’s almost as though Harry Potter's been destined to do this. Draco chuckles at his own joke. Across the room, Blaise glances up, arching an eyebrow.

“I didn’t realize Charms was so funny.”

Draco ignores him and goes back to his essay.

 

The first order of business is to obtain a wand for Potter. Which is a great deal more easily said than done.

There are wands everywhere of course, but lifting one is extremely delicate. There's always someone watching these days. And even if Draco is one of Umbridge’s favorites, he's almost certain she wouldn't punish him even if he were caught; such actions would certainly draw unwanted attention.

He’s enjoyed mostly unrestricted access to Potter. He doesn’t want that to change.

So he takes is time, studies the mark, a mousy, second year Ravenclaw girl. He studies her schedule, the pattern of her trips to class, which routes she takes and with which friends; waiting for the right opportunity.

It turns out to be much simpler than he thought it would.

The third day, dinner in the Great Hall. The Ravenclaw is chatting animatedly with her friends. Her wand is hanging from her pocket, slipping further and further out as she leans in to giggle.

With one hand Draco forks chicken salad into his mouth, with the other hidden under the table he flicks his wand, just brushing the girl’s wand. Softly, so no one would notice. He tugs and it slips out of her pocket, rolling under the table.

The rest of the meal, Draco waits, hoping the girl will not notice her empty pocket.

She doesn’t.

It’s still there when Draco returns that night and he makes sure he's alone before he scoops it up. The girl probably hasn’t thought to look for it in the Great Hall yet. Or, if Draco is very, very lucky, she hasn’t even missed it.

Draco hurries off to the seventh floor with his prize tucked safely away.

 

Potter’s in bed when Draco steps inside his room. He looks up from his book, surprised.

“What’s up?”

Draco pulls out the wand.

Thirteen inches, Willow wood. Draco can’t tell what the core is. Probably Unicorn hair, the wand feels disgustingly positive and practically sparkles when he channels his own magic through it.

Potter’s face lights up and he rips off the covers. He’s already reaching for the wand before he’s gotten to Draco. Draco pulls it just out of reach.

“I’m trusting you, Potter.” Draco adds a subtle gravity to his tone he hopes more than he believes Potter will pick up.

But Potter nods like he understands. He keeps his hand out.

So Draco hold the wand out again, allows Draco to slip it from his fingers. He stares at it, his face lighting up before drawing back into a ready stance.

“Teach me a spell.” He demands eagerly.

“Now? Potter it’s nearly eleven at night. I have classes tomorrow.” It slips out. Draco cringes inwardly as soon as he’s said it, but it’s too late. Potter frowns.

“You’re a student?”

Draco ops for nonchalance. He folds his arms across his chest and tosses his hair back.

“Yes.” He admits. The: ‘What’s wrong with that?’ is implied.

“No, I mean you just never mentioned it.” Potter’s eyes are ablaze with excitement. “You’re in magical school?”

“It's called Hogwarts.”

Harry continues as though Draco hadn't spoken. “Where they teach you magical things?”

Draco sighs. “It's all just an unnecessary amount of essay writing really.”

“With all sorts of other magical people.”

“Witches and Wizards.” Draco corrects mildly.

Potter’s smile is a bit wistful. “It must be brilliant.”

Draco has to look away. He thinks that he used to look like that. He used to smile and be excited about going to school, learning a new algorithm in Arithmancy or sussing out a complex glyph in Ancient Runes.

Time and age have stolen that excitement from him, the innocent untainted view of the world.

“It used to be.” He says finally.

For a while no one speaks. Draco curses himself a second time for letting too much honest emotion into this dialogue. There’s no telling how Potter will respond to it; their truce is too new.

“Why...what happened?” Potter asks. He looks as surprised as Draco.

“I mean, when did it stop being fun?”

About the same time his father died. But Draco doesn’t say that. That’s no one’s burden but his own. Instead he offers an apologetic smile.

“We’ll start lessons this weekend. There’s a Quidditch game going, so I think I’ll be able to slip off for a couple of hours.”

Potter frowns and cocks his head to one side.

“What’s Quidditch?”

 

There is a search of course. The girl kicks up a fit and demands whomever stole her wand return it. Head Boy and Girl, the members of the faculty, prefects and the like all scour Hogwarts from top to bottom.

And find nothing.

It's a mystery to which no one has an explanation, but everyone has a theory; which they whisper to one other when they think no one is listening. Draco's current favorites are 'illegal wand smuggling' and 'Taken by whatever lives in the Shrieking Shack.'

Needless to say: Draco's very confident no one suspects he had anything to do with the missing wand.

If Draco had ever considered teaching as a possible career, (after all Professor Snape had managed it for the last few decades without major incident,) those notions were completely expunged during those first few painful hours of lessons with Potter.

Draco learns that ‘because I said so’ is not a phrase that will convince Potter to do or 'not do' anything. The fool insisted on charging ahead, repeating the same ‘failed’ spell over and over again instead of, Merlin forbid, correcting his wand movement, or his annunciation. Because of course the magic's at fault here, not Potter.

After the first weekend, Draco leaves with a splitting headache and the resolution to buy Snape an incredible Christmas present this year.

 

“So what courses are you taking?” Potter asks as Draco picks another grape off his plate. They’re taking a break from lessons for lunch. Or until Draco no longer feels the urge to petrify Potter for the betterment of Wizarding society…whichever comes first.

“Potions, Charms, Ancient Runes…” Draco replies. “Arithmancy, Transfiguration…”

He stops, but Potter keeps pestering him for details about everything from teachers to the House Cup. Until Draco realizes it’s nearly midnight and he needs to go back to his dorms before Pansy raises a stink. If she hasn’t already.

“It all sounds incredible.” Potter says. He sounds genuinely awestruck and jealous.

“Why didn’t you attend?” Draco finds himself asking. “Didn’t you receive your letter of invitation?”

Potter just shrugs. “I must’ve gotten lost in the post.”

Draco snorts and rolls his eyes. “It would’ve been delivered by owl if it was sent. Wizards don't use the Muggle post.”

“Owl.” Potter seems to be considering something. His nose wrinkles as his gaze goes distant, searching. “I think, there was an owl that came to the house once. At least...I remember one flew into the kitchen with an envelope. But my Aunt took it, the letter I mean, and sent a reply with the owl when it left. It...never came back that I ever saw.”

Draco doesn’t reply. He has no idea what to say, what would be appropriate in light of this revelation. ‘I’m sorry’ doesn’t seem like quite right.

“I think it might be better this way.” Potter mutters before Draco can come up with a response. He sounds like he's trying to convince himself.

“If I had gone to school here, Voldemort would have known exactly where to find me, right?”

“Or you might actually be prepared to face him.” Draco puts in.

Potter huffs out a laugh.

“You’re a fine teacher.” He’s lying and they both know it. The worry in his eyes says he wonders if he’s ever going to be ready enough to depose an insane and magically powerful tyrant.

But how ready is anyone, really?

Draco feels a pang of guilt in his chest, even though it’s foolish. He is the one who brought Potter into this life. It’s not necessarily one Potter could have escaped indefinitely, but the fact remains: it was Draco. And if he faces Voldemort and dies...that will be on Draco's head as well...

“Here.” He takes out his wand. “Let’s go over that defensive spell again.”

He wakes up early the next morning in Potter’s bed, his shoes off and Potter tucked safely on his side of the mattress. There's space between them, but Draco imagines he can almost feel the heat of Potter's skin through his robes. It's a foolish thought, but one that sends an odd flutter through his chest.

That's when he hears Potter. He's shifting, murmuring in his sleep. Draco might've dismissed it as the mumbling of a restless sleeper, but he hears: "no," and then, softly "Don't...please." and rolls over.

Harry's on his back, a hand stretched out as if trying to ward off some unseen foe. He's shaking his head, still begging someone to "Leave him alone...please..."

A nightmare.

"Potter." Draco reaches over and jostles him gently. "Wake up."

"No, please don't..." The volume of Harry's cries increases and he shakes his head, brow furrowing. "No more, please stop."

"Potter!"

Potter's eyes snap open and the next second he's bolted upright, chest heaving. He darts glances around the room until his eyes fall on Draco. He freezes.

"Nightmare?" Draco asks. Potter nods, runs a hand over his face. It comes away damp with perspiration.

"They're not usually...that bad." He huffs out a breath. "Sorry, did I wake you?"

Draco retrieves his hand from where it had settled against Potter's hip. His fingertips are pleasantly warm and Draco tries not to think about that too much. He isn't entirely successful.

"I was getting up anyway." Draco says. He rolls out of bed, casts about for his shoes. Behind him, he can hear Potter shifting.

"Right, wouldn't want them to miss you." Potter sounds a bit odd, but his face is carefully blank when Draco glances back at him.

Draco slips on his shoes and heads for the door.

"I'll see you later tonight." He says and closes up after himself.

 

 

“Where the bloody Hell were you?” Blaise whispers at breakfast. “Pansy was about ready to tell Umbridge you’d been kidnapped.”

“Kind of you to care.” Draco feigns nonchalance and reaching for the toast.

"Well?" It seems Blaise is unwilling to be put off. He stares intently at Draco, waiting for an account of Draco's whereabouts.

Draco heaves a rather put upon sigh. “If you really must know I spent the night with a rather insatiable young man.”

“Oh?” Pansy immediately perks up and leans in to hear better.

“Oh yes.” Draco yawns. “Kept me up into the morning; on and on. He just couldn’t get enough.”

Pansy smirks and goes back to her breakfast. Blaise frowns.

“Is he just a pull? Or is that where you’ve been disappearing lately?”

“Not that it's any of your business...” Draco sniffs. “...but yes, he’s been my ‘project’ for the last few months. It took him a little time to come around, but I think he’s coming along nicely.”

Pansy giggles.

Frustratingly, Blaise keeps frowning.

“What’s his name?”

“So you can seduce him away from me, please. How long have we known one another, Blaise? You can hardly expect me to be forthcoming about every detail.” Draco arches an eyebrow before occupying himself with buttering his toast.

“Besides, a gentleman never kisses and tells.”

Blaise looks unconvinced, but does drop the subject.

"So that's the magical text book you use?" Potter asks from his place on the floor next to Draco. He'd plopped himself down there when Draco first spread out to do his homework. He claimed it was so he could get a better look when Draco corrected his wandwork, even though he's spending more time studying Draco's Transfiguration homework than his own.

Mostly he'd just waving his wand around whilst plying Draco with questions.

"So you don't use regular paper and pencil, you use parchment rolls and quills?

How do you keep the ink from running out?

What subject is this?

"Is it difficult? Do you like it?"

At last Draco just sighs and pushes away his essay. He props up his head in one hand and turns to look at Potter.

"Merlin's beard, Potter. It's school. No one likes school."

"Not even 'magic school'?" Potter asks, but the smirk on his face says he's joking. He looks...nice when he isn't scowling and yelling. And...his eyes are green. Draco realizes he's never noticed before. But he's noticing now. They snap and spark with snarky humor, attractive.

It's been a long time since Draco's flirted with anyone. It's been even longer since he's wanted to. But right here, right now, Draco finds that he actually wants to. So he lets the moment linger, smiles back, a little teasing, a little coy.

"Not even magic can fix school, Potter."

Potter laughs and it rings strangely sweet in Draco's ears.

He's not even surprised when he wakes up in Potter's bed that morning, sleep warm and smiling.

 

“Why do you do that?” Potter asks. Draco pauses mid demonstration of ‘Stupify’ and turns to frown at Potter.

“Do what?”

Harry shrugs.

“You keep calling me ‘Potter’. I just was wondering why you never use my first name?”

Draco’s never thought about it in truth. Potter always just came easily to his mind and mouth, natural. But now the subject’s been broached, he’s not exactly sure why himself.

Potter shakes his head and sticks out his hand when Draco is slow to reply.

“Hey, I think we started off on the wrong foot.” He says, a slight smile on his face.

“My name’s Harry.”

Draco stares down at Potter's hand for long seconds. And then he's reaching out, joining his hand to Potter's. It feels odd when he clasps his fingers around a rough palm, squeezes. It feels like...magic.

“Draco Malfoy.” His voice is strangely quiet.

Harry laughs. “Good to meet you, Draco.”

Draco’s chest is tight when he returns Harry’s smile and says.

“It’s good to meet you too, Harry.”

 

School breaks for the holidays and Draco stays at Hogwarts for the first time since he started attending Hogwarts.

His friends comment of course and Draco makes his excuses, but really this is the best time for he and Harry to work together without the imminent threat of discovery looming over their heads. He’s got to make the most of the limited time they have.

The school year is already half finished and Potter is only just becoming comfortable with the most basic of charms and spells.

Draco rushes up the the seventh floor as soon as the Express is out of sight. Harry’s face lights up and he turns from where he’s been trying to transfigure one of his pillows. It’s gotten stuck halfway though, has sprouted a pair of wings which it's currently flapping whilst madly clucking.

“Hey, do you want to give me a hand?” Harry calls through his laughter. “It won’t go back.”

Draco shuts the door. He isn’t sure whether it would be more appropriate to laugh or cry.

 

“Do you want something for Christmas?” Draco asks one night. The question’s been nagging at him for weeks. It shouldn't be. Potter isn't his friend or his lover. He's Draco's prisoner.

Admittedly, their relationship has been less...antagonistic recently, but Potter hardly deserves any special treatment because he's figured out not to piss off his captor. Except Draco keeps wondering if Potter had ever gotten a Christmas present before, if that awful Muggle family had bothered giving him anything.

Harry looks surprised and a bit pleased at the question. Draco hates how his stomach churns pleasantly when Harry's eyelashes flutter as he glances away and shakes his head.

“No. Well, I mean it’s not like I can really get you anything back.” He smiles. “And the Dursley's didn’t really celebrate the holidays, so you don’t have to worry about it.”

He goes back to attempting to cast a shield charm, content it seems, with the resolution of their conversation.

The shield he produces is spotty. It shivers before fracturing into a cascade of fragmented light almost immediately. It’s still progress. Harry used to not be able to manifest one at all.

"Not like that." Draco sighs. "You need to flick your wrist a little more."

"For which part?" Harry glances over his shoulder. He goes over the wand motion again, emphasizing the wrist snap at the end. He arches an eyebrow.

"There?"

"No, the first part." Draco frowns when Harry performs the spell again, attempting to put a little extra twist to the motion. Predictably, his spell fizzles completely.

"Here." Draco gets up and goes over to where Harry's standing, a look of consternation on his face. Draco takes Harry's wand arm and curls his fingers around the back of the hand, slowly pantomiming the correct motion.

"A little extra flick...here." He says. "There, does that make sense?"

Harry takes a moment before answering and when he speaks his voice is oddly strained. "Yeah, I got it."

They're close. Draco can smell the soap Harry must've used to bath that morning. It's a subtle scent, musky, masculine, but with a tang of spice that warms Draco's blood.

Draco steps away as though he's been burned and clears his throat. It sounds harsh in the silence that's descended on the room.

But Draco tamps down the desire to flush and stammer like a first-year. He's no stranger to physical attraction and he's man enough to admit that Harry, cleaned up, is attractive. He's also adult enough to know it doesn't have to go any further than that. Admiring someone physically is far different than declaring your undying love for that someone after all.

"Okay, let me see it again." Draco prompts.

He's more than a little relieved when Harry chooses to nod silently and begins casting again.

Draco's distracted when he leaves Harry's room that night. He keeps reemerging himself in a sort of sense-memory where he can smell Harry and feel the warmth of his hand under his palm, burning a line down the center of his chest. Except this time Harry turns to look back at Draco, his smile coy and saucy and knowing.

Draco gets to the corner of the third floor and hears murmuring voices. He identifies them almost at once as Umbridge and Snape.

Draco doesn't have time to consider how odd it is those two are interacting with one another as they are walking down the adjacent hall, and in his direction. He likely only has a few seconds before they round the corner, not enough time to run in the other direction, even if he muffled his footsteps.

Draco acts with speed born of panic, presses himself against the wall, casts as precise an illusion charm he knows and holds his breath as the head mistress and the potions master come into view.

"He should be careful." Umbridge was saying, working herself into something of a small state.

"The Dark Lord." Snape says coolly. "Is beyond 'caution'. He is beyond all mortal understanding, as you well know."

"But they took the locket." Umbridge hisses. "And the tiara. And there's a good chance they know about the others. And who knows how many that fool Dumbledore managed to destroy before he died."

Snape comes to an abrupt halt...almost directly in front of where Draco is standing, hidden. His face and voice are sharp, severe.

"It would be best not to speak of such things, headmistress. These walls have ears."

Draco's blood runs cold and then he hears a portrait gasp to his right and the scurrying shuffle that means they've exited that particular painting. The relief which floods him is immediate and immense. Draco hasn't been detected. Yet...

"I cannot believe you aren't concerned about this, Severus." Umbridge plows on as if Snape hadn't spoken. "This could spell the end of You Know Wh-..."

Snape reaches out and claps his hand across Umbridge's jaw, drags her in close to his greasy face. Close enough for his breath to flutter the curls framing her pudgy face.

"I suggest..." His voice is so low Draco has to strain to hear it. "...you be very careful with whom you share that opinion. You wouldn't want it to reach the Dark Lord's ears. He might begin to think of you as a...traitor. That would be rather unfortunate, don't you think?"

Umbridge's lips puff and quiver. Her eyes are wide, afraid. She ndos her head as best she can given Snape's iron grip on her jaw and clamps her tiny sausage fingers around Snape's wrist.

Snape sneers in disgust and releases his hold on the headmistress. He begins his slow amble down the corridor. After taking a moment to collect herself, Umbridge follows.

Draco slips away once they disappear around the far corner. His heart and his thoughts are racing as he climbs into his bed, stares sightless up at the canopy.

He wonders who 'they' are. The last free wizards in the UK most likely. But what was so special about the locket and tiara Umbridge mentioned? And how would they defeat Voldemort?

He would probably never find out. Draco has no resources, no way to find these nameless witches and wizards in the resistance, if it even is them. But it's still a bit energizing to know he and his mother are not the only one opposing the Dark Lord. They would serve as a distraction at the very least, especially if these items were as important to Voldemort as they seemed to be.

But this was all conjecture. Draco has his own plans the require his attention.

He turns over, lets his eyes slip closed and wonders sleepily what Harry might want as a Christmas present.

He finds inspiration a few days later when Harry, working his way through a Wingardium Leviosa' laughs about "getting to fly'.

"You're awfully pleased with yourself." Draco mutters over a Transfigurations essay. He hears Harry snort.

"Don't tell me Wizards never dream of flying." He says it with such censure Draco finds himself defending automatically.

"Of course not. If we want to fly, we just do it."

When silence meets his assertion, Draco looks up from his parchment, a teasing quip on his tongue. The jealousy in Harry's eyes stops him short.

"Teach me?" It's not so much a demand as a request, but it's the eager desire in Harry's face that sparks Draco's mind.

"We'd need...more room..." He trails off and casts Tempus. It's well after 10 at night. They might... Could they really? They might be caught. But...if they're careful...

Draco curses silently before casting a warming charm over them both. He reaches out and takes Harry’s arm before he has time to second guess himself. He pulls them towards the door.

“What are you doing?” Harry tries to tug his arm away.

“I’m giving you a Christmas present.” Draco opens the door and peers out. Its empty but for a few snoring portraits.

This is likely the stupidest thing he has ever done.

But he glances back into Harry’s wide, excited and somewhat fearful eyes and Draco feels that same tightness in his chest again. The one that feels like he's had too much 'pepper-up' potion.

He tugs until Harry is standing out in the hall with him, blinking all around at the tapestries and the long corridor.

The windows at either end of the hall are dark, so most of the professors and students will be abed. Even the prefects will be gone home for the hols, and patrolling professors are a great deal more lax during these weeks.

Draco takes them through the window, a levitation spell before dashing through the snow towards the Quidditch pitch, Harry in tow.

Draco’s laughing. It's hard to remember what a monumentally bad idea this is when he feels like he’s a third-year again, sneaking out with Goyle or Pansy. Life was giddy excitement and short-sighted schemes then. He misses it.

Beside him, Harry’s staring in wonder at the grounds and Draco has to remind himself that Harry’s never seen them before.

They make it to the pitch and Draco leads Harry to the shed. It’s the matter of a quick flick and a spell Blaise taught him in second-year and they’re inside. Draco hurriedly picks out a broom from amongst the stock and heads back outside.

Harry’s looking at him oddly when he mounts the broom.

“Come on.” Draco jerks his head.

“What is it?” Harry asks uncertainly.

“It’s your Christmas present.” Draco tries not to sound condescending. This is after all, the second time he's told Harry this. Harry shakes his head like Draco's a bit mad, but he does climb up behind him.

“You’re going to want to hold on.” Draco advises before he kicks off the ground.

There was a time when Draco was considered one of the best Quidditch players in Hogwarts. He'd been given special permission to play as a first year and as a Seeker he was unbeatable. No one in Hogwarts could rival him for speed or technique.

He'd stopped the year before last, right after his father was murdered. And then he was too busy with the Vanishing Cabinets and after that the search for Harry Potter consumed all of his free energy. Draco realizes the instant they shoot up into the night sky that it’s been almost two years since he’d last been on a broom.

Time hasn't dulled his skill in the least, however. Draco soars up and then dives, forgetting his passenger until he feels Harry’s arms tightening around his stomach, almost painfully tight.

He slows and hears Harry yell.

“Don’t slow down.” Harry's laughing, delight in every breath. It soars into the sky.

And Draco’s heart rushes up to meet it.

 

Harry’s still laughing, shallow and adrenaline filled gasps when Draco finally touches down in the soft snow.

They’re both shivering and Draco quickly refreshes the Warming charm.

“Sorry.” He says while he closes and locks the shed.

“Why are you apologizing?” Harry asks, rubbing his arms. “That was amazing, the best Christmas present I’ve ever gotten in my life.” He lets out a ‘whoosh’ of air.

“Do you think I could ever learn how to fly?”

Draco shrugs and starts back towards the castle.

“I don’t see why not. Any Squib can do it.”

“Squib?”

Draco shakes his head. “Don’t worry about it. You aren’t one.”

Harry smiles. Draco feels it caress its way down his spine in tingling shivers. He looks away.

“I’d like you to teach me. Maybe…” Harry trails off. “Maybe once this whole Voldemort business is done, we could have a go?”

“That sounds a bit like a date.” Draco says, flat, joking. But Harry just shrugs and smiles to himself.

“I suppose it does.”

Draco stares up into his canopy that night and contemplates the swelling sense of euphoria that’s joined the knot in his chest until the sun comes up the next morning.

 

The holidays end and the students return and Harry’s lessons are once more confined to nights and weekends.

Harry’s progress is slow but steady and there are times Draco can almost convince himself this insane plan of his is going to work.

They don’t talk about that night, the implications of Harry’s words or whether Draco might reciprocate. But Draco starts noticing Harry a little more, the way he’s filling out with good food, less skinny and more lanky. The way his green eyes snap and sparkle whenever he smiles; which is often during lessons. Especially when he can goad Draco into a furious exchange of wits and words.

He’s also notices that they seems to do a lot more talking then they used to. They don’t neglect Harry's lessons, Draco refuses to let that lapse and as a result, Draco finds himself leaving Harry’s room later and later, sometimes the next morning, crawling out of his side of Harry’s bed.

Blaise doesn’t bother asking anymore, just rolls his eyes and makes snide comments about Draco making sure to use protection spells.

Pansy’s actually the one who presses for details now. Details Draco is more than happy to vaguely fabricate.

The rest of his time is spent in preparation for his NEWTS, even though Draco has no idea what he’s going to do once he’s graduated. Or whether he’ll still be alive then.

He has considered worst case scenarios. If Harry happens to be killed by Voldemort during their eventual confrontation it’s not a great leap to think Draco and his mother will be killed soon after their plot’s been exposed. But then, Draco doesn’t even suppose it’ll matter.

He looks over at the Gryffindor table. A sullen looking first year stares dull-eyed into her bowl as she eats.

The way things are, living isn’t really living at all.

 

Draco receives a call from his mother in the evening. He is relieved to see she's still alive. He'd received no word from her, other than a few owls bearing his Christmas gifts, since the night he asked to use her pensive. A small part of him wondered if he'd betrayed her with his parting words. But it seems all is as well as can be in the Malfoy estate.

"Did you receive the presents I sent?" She asks. Draco nods and thanks her for her graciousness this year and asks if she enjoyed her own gift. A new pair of dragon skin gloves, enchanted for softness and warmth.

"Yes, Draco." His mother inclines her head. "They have been useful of late. The manor has become quite cold."

"Oh?" Draco keep his tone light. His stomach clenches unpleasantly.

"It's a small crack in the foundations. Something I believe will be remedied soon." Narcissa raises one elegant hand and makes a slight, dismissive gesture.

Draco nods his understanding. The rest of the conversation is free of subtext and in another quarter of an hour, Draco is bidding his mother a good night.

Her words hang on him however, the message read clearly.

She is falling out of favor.

They are running out of time.

The weeks slowly slip by and Winter turns inevitably into Spring. The snow melts and a carpet of thick grass and wildflowers dot the lawns. The Whomping Willow revives to terrorize the student population once more and even the giant squid deigns to make a cameo every now and again, much to the delight of the younger children.

Harry doesn’t say anything, but Draco can tell he’s going stir crazy inside his room. He has no window, but it’s almost as though he can sense the onset of Spring.

“Expelliarmus. Once more.” Draco prompts and Harry nods. He blinks his focus back and makes a ready stance.

He doesn’t have to say anything. Draco can read the longing and wistfulness in his expression.

It shouldn't matter to him.

But it does.

Draco wonders when that happened.

 

“I’m a fool. I’m a fool. I’m a bloody, buggering fool.” Draco chants to himself as he makes his way to the seventh floor. He’s got his broom tucked under his arm, told Blaise and Goyle he was going out to the pitch to think.

“It’s your funeral if Umbridge catches you.” Goyle says dismissively and goes back to his parchment. Blaise gives him a hard look, but doesn’t make any comment.

Draco paces the hall, his ears perked for any sound other than his own breathing and the staccato hammering of his heart.

He should not be doing this. This is such an unacceptable risk and he can’t think of any reason why he’s going ahead with it other than he thinks Harry will appreciate it.

But then the door appears and Harry’s opening it before he can reach the knob. His face is pleased and when he spots the broom under Draco’s arm he positively beams.

“Are we...?”

Draco grabs his arm in answer and they’re off.

 

“That’s amazing.” Harry’s panting when they finally come back down. “Is it always like that?”

“It is with me.” Draco replies. He can’t stop smiling. He thinks it has something to do with the fact that Harry hasn’t let go of his waist yet.

He glances back over his shoulder to look at Harry. The other boy is flushed, his eyes dancing and he’s wearing a grin of his own.

“Then I guess I should thank you for taking me with you.” Harry’s voice is quiet, intentionally deep. Draco feels a flush of heat in his veins that has nothing to do with the ride they just took. He could almost swear Harry is flirting with him.

He knows taking Harry out to fly was a horrible idea and this is exactly why. He shouldn’t be encouraging...whatever they’re doing right now. Another part of him knows it's already far too late to evade entanglement.

Draco clears his throat and tugs on Harry’s hands until they part and he can dismount the broom.

They’re both silent until they make it back to the Room of Requirement. And then Draco, stupidly, thinks that this must be what walking a date home must feel like. Because he hasn’t mind fucked himself enough yet, obviously. And he needs one more way to tie himself up in knots over Harry and the fact that's he's using him and growing ever so slightly fond of him as well.

“Goodnight.” He says primly and turns to head back to the dungeons.

Harry catches his arm.

“Thanks, Draco.” He says. “I really appreciate the risk you took. You didn’t have to and I...had a good time.”

Draco should’ve walked away. He could have said ‘good’ and it would have been done. But he chooses to turn, to look back at Harry.

It’s his undoing.

He feels Harry’s fingers climb up his neck and tug him forward, but Draco’s already stepping around, crowding into Harry’s space.

Their mouths meet and it's ignition, instant and searing. It blazes up like an inferno and the rushing in Draco’s ears is his blood. Sensation and awareness narrows to the boy in his arms and the lips he bites and tests with his own mouth and tongue.

Hands scrabble at his back, bunch the fine material of his robes, one around the back of his neck, keeping him close, trapped where he is. His own hands are moving, roving. One circling a hip, one tangling in messy curls. One slipping around to press into the small of Harry’s back, pressing them close just to feel Harry moan into his mouth. One reaching around, combing back the thick shock of hair and tracing Harry’s scar with his thumb, feeling Harry tremble and shiver.

His blood is quickening, thruming and pulsing hot. He can feel Harry against his hip, evidence that he feels the same.

He breaks his mouth away from Harry’s to catch his breath, pants in their shared gasping.

“Harry.” He whispers into the silence. This is a bad idea. This is the worst thing he could possibly do.

But Harry presses his moth back to Draco's and starts walking backwards, into the room and Draco is helpless to do anything but follow.

They are a flurry of motion and magic, tumbling onto the bed, discarding clothes to explore skin with curious fingers, bold mouths.

Harry trembles under Draco's lips, the easy expertise of his tongue as it coaxes out gasps and groans from slick shined lips. Fingers brush gently, reverently through Draco's hair, not grasping, just combing, just for the sensation of it.

Draco hums his approval against the sharp jut of Harry's hip and nips at the bone.

Harry's gasp is startled, but colored with pleasure and he arches into the caress. His hands wander mindlessly, one slipping down to hold Draco's neck, the other tangling in the sheets.

Draco breaths out a sound of amusement and starts to nose downwards.

Harry whines when Draco takes him into his mouth, high and reedy and he's flushed red in embarrassment when Draco peers through his eyelashes to check if Harry's okay. He's flung one arm over his face, but the blush is working its way down his chest to shade his stomach. Draco never thought blushes could be sexy until that moment. He dives in and redoubles his efforts to...erm...blow Harry's mind.

He wonders how many times Harry has done this, had men, or anyone in his bed.

It's only the matter of a minute before Harry is pushing at Draco's forehead until he leaves off Harry's cock. He's panting, sweaty and shaking.

"Hold on, Draco. Wait...just a..." He gulps for breath. Draco leans up as if drawn, kisses Harry's flushed face, licks the sweat from his neck, his jaw, sucks marks into his skin.

Harry's arms wrap around his back and shoulders and they're rolling across the bed, writhing against one another, desperately seeking any kind of friction.

Draco is ready to cum, but once again it's Harry who stop them.

"Wait." He pants. "Wait. I need...I want..." He trails off, but the intent is clear. He gazes at Draco, all headstrong and forceful certainty, even if he isn't used to actually saying what he wants in bed yet. Instead he grabs Draco's hand, guides it to the apex of his thighs and then lower until Draco's fingers brush against his taint. He's blushing so hard, Draco wonders a little how he's actually still hard.

It might be funny, except Draco is too much in awe right now. The Savior of the Wizarding World is asking Draco Malfoy to fuck him. He almost cannot fathom how this came to be.

"Are you sure?" Draco asks, touching Harry's cheek. He has to be sure this isn't a hallucination, a fever dream.

Harry smiles and turns his head enough to kiss Draco's palm.

"Yeah."

The next few minutes are a pleasant haze. Draco has enough experience to know what he's doing, the right spells to cast and how to properly prepare Harry and he takes his time. Sex before was always rushed, frantic, a necessity when one lives in a dorm room with three other boys. But here, with Harry spread out, slowly rolling his hips back onto Draco's slender fingers, Draco cannot help but feel transported. There is no time here, not for the two of them, this night, this moment will last for eternity if they want.

It is the Room of Requirement after all.

Harry gasps and moans, first in pain and then in pleasure shaded deep and dark. He arches his back when Draco finds the place inside, trembles when Draco spends long minutes touching just around it, flirting with the inferno. Finally he has enough, grasps Draco's wrist again and grits through his teeth.

"I'm fucking ready!"

Draco smiles and crawls up Harry's body, kissing freckles and taking a small detour when he reaches the sweeping dive of Harry's collarbone. But Harry will have none of it. He tugs on Draco's hair, pulling him up until their lips meet.

Draco reaches back, fits himself between Harry's thighs. It would be easier for Harry to take him if they turned, but Draco doesn't want to sacrifice the connection of mouth and eyes. He is selfish, but he promises himself he will make it up to Harry.

He pulls one of Harry's legs up to fit over his shoulder. Harry grunts breaks the kiss. He cranes his head to look down, like he wants to see what Draco will do next, like he can't wait.

Draco swallows and trails kisses along Harry's jaw, a distraction he doesn't need...yet. Draco lines himself up, feels the slickness just at the tip and begins to push inside.

Immediately, Harry's breath hitches and fingers dig unconsciously, mercilessly into Draco's unprotected back.

Draco shushes him gently, croons nonsense and encouragement into the shell of one ear while he continues the agonizingly slow push into Harry.

They're both panting when Draco finally stops. Harry's eyes are squeezed shut and Draco can't decide if its in pain or pleasure, though his past tells him it's not pleasure at this stage. He reaches over the comb fingers through Harry's curls, tangle in the thickest ones at the base of Harry's neck. He rubs Harry's scalp, frantically repressing the urge not to draw back and begin thrusting in earnest. Harry is remarkably tight, despite the preparation and Draco wants to surrender to the suffocating pleasure that is Harry's body. But something that feels like concern holds him back.

"Harry..." He whispers, kisses lips parted on quick shallow breaths. "Are you all right?"

Wordlessly Harry nods, his eyes still closed, brow furrowed.

"Do you need me to...?"

"No...just...give me a minute." Harry husks. He cracks his eyes open and tries to smile. It's still a little weak, but at least he's not kicking Draco out of bed.

"You're not exactly small."

"What a master of compliments, you are." Draco huffs. Harry rolls his eyes.

"That wasn't what I-"

Draco rolls his hips, grinding into Harry's ass gently and Harry turns his head to the side, moaning with closed lips, closed eyes.

It's a blur of motion after that, a slowly building tempo. Draco teaches Harry the motion, guides his hips in the wave and rhythm old as time itself. And then he is sitting up, holding Harry's thigh against his chest, the knee locked over his shoulder as he fucks into Harry, stares down at the wide eyes, the flushed cheeks and watery eyes.

Harry Potter is beautiful.

Draco reaches out to touch Harry's cock, barely strokes once and the man is crying out, long and loudly, his pleasure. Harry arches, clenching involuntarily around Draco, pulling him under the surface.

And together they drown.

Draco wakes up the next morning in Harry Potter's bed. More importantly, Draco wakes up in Harry Potter's bed with a very naked Harry Potter splayed across his chest.

Harry stirs and blinks at him before groaning and flopping his head back down on Draco's shoulder.

"Good morning." Draco chuckles. Harry groans again and turns over to burrow into the blankets.

Not a morning person then.

Draco casts a quick Tempus. It's a quarter to six. Early yet. Though he should probably leave soon. It wouldn't do for him to be seen coming to breakfast from the upper floors.

Draco rolls out of bed as gently as he can to avoid jostling Harry and pulls on his robes. they are a bit wrinkled from the floor, but are serviceable enough after he spells them clean. He'll need to change when he gets back to the dorms.

The mattress rustles and Harry sits up. His hair is somehow even more scattered than usual and it's so oddly endearing that Draco has to go back to kiss Harry.

Harry doesn't seem to mind.

"Leaving?" He yawns.

"I have to."

"You could stay here. I'm sure we could find...something to do..." Harry leans back on his elbows, tries to look seductive. The effect is somewhat ruined by another yawn and Draco heads over to the door.

"A day of lounging about and fucking, how decadent. We'll make a proper Slytherin of you yet."

Harry pads out of bed, grabs his pants and shirt, pulls them on quickly to meet Draco at the open door.

"A what?"

“What the fuck, Draco?”

Blaise is standing a few feet away. He’s got his wand out and he’s pointing it at the two of them.

"So this is him?" Blaise asks. "Your little 'fuck' buddy?"

Draco steps in front of Harry, blocking him from Blaise's view.

"Get back inside, Harry." He murmurs. "Shut the door and don't come out until I come for you."

Blaise snorts. "Don't bother trying to protect him, Draco. I already know who he is. I wanted to believe you weren’t stupid enough to betray the Dark Lord, but he knew. He told me you were planning something, but Harry Potter? I mean, I couldn't believe it when he told me.”

“This isn’t…” Draco tries to lie, but Blaise cuts him off with a sniff.

“...what it looks like?” He shakes his head, his expression spiteful.

“You know you’re not as clever as you think you are, Draco. You're too much of a bloody Hufflepuff. You let your feelings muck you up, get in the way of reason.” Blaise look at him, almost pityingly.

“The Dark Lord told me to watch you this year. He knew you’d try something.”

Draco can’t hear past the ringing in his ears.

“Mother.” He swallows. “Is she…?”

“He didn't tell me. But it doesn't matter, does it. You're still going to go back for her, aren't you?”

Blaise is right. Voldemort was right. Draco seethes. He’s been played, perhaps from the very beginning, before Father's corpse was cold. All of his effort has been for naught.

“Are you going to take me to him?” Draco steps away from Harry, still keeping himself between Harry and Blaise.

“Yeah.”

“And you’ll let him go if I come quietly?” Draco gestures to Harry.

Blaise frowns.

“You know I’d be a fool to let him go, Draco. I can't. Now give me your wand.”

Draco feels his heart sink into the pit of his stomach. He reaches for his wand and a noise to the right draws his attention just as he hears Potter shout:

“Expelliarmus!”

Blaise’s wand is ripped from his grip and Draco pulls out his own. In an instant, Blaise is standing, petrified, his expression frozen in surprise and rage.

"Quick, get him inside." Draco whispers to Harry as he steps around to grab Blaise under the arms.

They get him into Harry’s room and close the door. They both stand silently in the hall and watch the door dissappears as if it had never been.

“Are you going to get your mother?” Harry asks after a minute.

Draco swallows. “Yes.”

“I’m coming with you.”

Draco shakes his head.

Harry grabs him and turns him until they’re staring each other in the eyes.

“I’m coming with you.” Harry repeats. He is entirely serious, entirely ready to face Voldemort. But Draco knows he isn’t ready. If he goes with Draco now he’ll die.

And then nothing will be able to stop the Dark Lord.

He takes Harry’s hand. Harry, obviously misunderstanding the gesture, twines their fingers together.

Draco feels a profound sadness as he lets them out through the window and into the cool night. They set down on the dewy grass and together run to the edge of the sprawling Hogwart’s campus, at the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Draco pulls his hand out of Harry’s.

“There are...so many things I want to tell you right now, things I'm ashamed to tell you. Because I know you'll hate me if I do.” He can’t look Harry in the eye. He stares out into the dimness, the sky just starting to color with dawn. In any other circumstance Draco might've called it hopeful.

He continues.

“I suppose it doesn’t matter anymore, what I planned, since...I'm going to die."

He rushes on before Potter can say anything mindlessly sappy about not letting Draco die. Draco knows there's nothing Harry can do to stop it, Draco isn't going to take him to Voldemort. Draco doesn't want...to watch Harry die. Somehow, the thought of it is worse then the thought of his own impending demise.

"I can't let you come with me. If you try to confront him now you’ll just be throwing your life away.”

Harry opens his mouth, probably to argue and Draco leans in to seal his mouth with a kiss.

Their second kiss in the last ten minutes, but it feels like lifetimes have passed in that time. Suddenly everything is different.

Draco breaths against Harry’s lips. His eyes are closed. He doesn’t think he can bear to see the expression on Harry’s face. “You've got to live, Harry. You've got to live so later, when you are ready, you can take that bastard down. Please...don't..."

Draco chokes, swallows. He has to force the words out of himself and they taste like bile as they come.

" Don't make me watch you die."

"Draco..." Harry sounds almost disappointed. Draco's heart breaks a little.

"Please." He begs. His father would have been ashamed.

“I...understand.” Harry hesitantly whispers back.

Draco pulls away, holds out his wand to apparate.

“I’ll send someone for you.” He promises. “They’ll be able to get you away from here.”

He apparates before Harry has a chance to reply.

 

The entry hall of Malfoy Manor is empty when Draco appears.

“Dobby.” He calls and the elf pops next to him, bowing and babbling. Draco shushes him and kneels down in front of the diminutive creature.

“I have a task for you.” He takes one of his cuff links and presses it into the Elf’s hand. Dobby goggles at the item, at the implications of receiving such an item from his...now former master.

“Please, go to the East end of the Hogwarts grounds. There will be a boy there with curly hair and a lightening bolt shaped scar on his forehead. Take him away, far away from here. Will you do this for me?”

Dobby, who has already pinned the cufflink to his pitiful loincloth snaps his head back up to Draco. He nods and begins babbling again about ‘gracious master, kind master’ before popping out of existence.

It is perhaps a little pathetic that when Draco straightens he feels almost euphoric. It is a strangely freeing sensation, to know that he has just set the wheels in motion, a chain reaction Voldemort will never be able to stop.

One day Harry will face the Dark Lord. And on that day, Harry Potter will tear the Dark Lord asunder.

It will be magnificent.

A pity Draco will not live to see that day.

He straightens the hang of his cuffs before striding confidently down the corridors of his childhood home.

They’re assembled and waiting for him in the conference room, the same one in which Charity Burbage met her own inglorious end.

Voldemort, Bellatrix and his mother are the only three in attendance. Draco feels only a fleeting sense of relief that his mother is still alive. It means the Dark Lord has something special in mind for the two of them later.

His next thought is that apparently neither Draco nor Narcissa are important enough to warrant a grand execution. He feels mildly offended at that and then immediately smirks, because it's such a ridiculous thing to be offended over.

“Ah, Draco.” Voldemort smiles when Draco enters to room. “So pleased you could join us. Your dear Aunt didn’t believe you would come.”

Bellatrix is glaring at Draco and pipes up.

“May I kill the little shit, my Lord? It would be an honor to tear his treacherous eyes out myself.”

“Everything in due time, my dear.” The Dark Lord chides her softly before addressing Draco again.

“Your mother would not tell me what scheme you've been hatching these past years, Draco. I would enjoy hearing what machinations you've put in place to weave my undoing.”

Draco starts laughing. It bubbles up from his chest, manic and insane. He feels light-headed and empowered. He knows he’s going to die. He and his mother. And that's a bit sad, but he’s going to deal a body blow to the Dark Lord before they're done.

That knowledge makes him bold.

“I found him, Tom.” He uses the name Dumbledor had used in the graveyard all those years ago and he grins into the startled faces of his mother, Bellatrix and Tom Riddle himself.

“I found Harry Potter. He's going to defeat you, Tom, just like he did 18 years ago. And there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it because he's gone. He escaped and even I don't know where to. So he's coming for you, Tom. He's coming and when he gets here, he'll tear you apart.”

Draco has enough time to register pride in his mother's eyes before Voldemort bellows in rage and raises his wand. But Draco is already pulling out his own wand, ducking behind one of the highback chairs around the table.

Lights begin flashing, curses spat from the raised voices of his aunt and mother, faster than Draco thought was possible.

A bolt of green shaves off the top of the chair, an inch from the top of Draco’s head. He ducks his head away to shield his eyes from the stinging shards of wood that rain down on his unprotected face.

It's that motion that saves him.

He spots Negini, her head drawn back to strike and Draco acts without thinking. He looses a jet of vivid purple which severs the snake's head from its body.

Draco turns back and leans down to look under the table, his pulse ringing in his ears. He can hear the beheaded snake over the sound of thrumming blood, still writhing out the last of its death throes behind him. He sees his Aunt’s feet dancing around the length of the table to his right, his mother's own elegant shoes a few meters away. Even, measured steps towards her sister. Narcissa is gaining ground.

Movement to his right draws him short. Voldemort’s long black robes are making their way slowly around the table as shudder after shudder rocks the long table. Likely as not the Dark Lord has no idea his snake pet he sent to kill Draco is dead.

In another few seconds Voldemort will be around the table. And Draco will have to go toe to toe with the Dark Lord himself.

Draco emerges from around the chair and the next seconds are a blur of words and motion and flashing light.

Draco snaps off a couple of hexes in quick succession, but they are all absorbed or batted aside like so much fluff.

He has an instant to think that his Aunt and mother are both incredible duelists. And then he sees Voldemort in the far end of the table, his face still twisted in rage, mouthing the dreadful words.

“Avada Kedavra.”

Draco knows in a distant, abstract part of his mind, that he won’t be able to move in time. That’s all the time he has though and then he’s being pushed aside and for a second he thinks Bellatrix just saved his life.

He looks up in time to watch Harry collapse into a lifeless heap.

Draco is screaming. He knows that. Like he knows something's been turned off in his mind. He feels distant, almost disassociated with reality.

He’s scrambling over to Harry’s body, pulling him up to cradle against his chest.

“Harry.” He keeps repeating over again over again, staring at a patch of floor just ahead. He cannot fathom what has just happened. He registers his stupid former fucking house elf standing near the ruined table, twisting the towel loincloth, his face the picture of misery.

Dobby did this, Dobby must have aparated them here. Harry must have convinced him to...

"Harry..." Draco doubles up again as the pain in his chest intensifies, pressing the slack face into his shoulder, rocking the lifeless body.

A black robe comes into view and Voldemort’s hissing voice floats down mockingly.

“This, was your great hope, Draco?” He chuckles and Draco can hear the fabric rustling, knows The Dark Lord is raising his wand for the killing blow.

“Such a pity..legends aren’t what they used to be.”

That’s when Draco feels it. A puff of air against his neck.

He feels another and he shifts his hold on Harry, feels the flutter of a heartbeat under his fingers.

His mind is racing. Harry is alive. How? Didn’t he take the full impact of the Killing Curse? Voldemort is going to kill them.

Harry still has hold of his wand.

Draco looks up and two things happen at once.

Voldemort sneers and spits out. “Avada Kedavra.”

Harry’s arm stretches out, flicks and Voldemort’s wand is torn from his hand.

The curse ricochets off the ceiling. Voldemort bellows and Bellatrix is shrieking. But Draco is acting, instinct pulling up his own wand, bringing the words to his lips.

He has no regrets when he utters the unforgivable.

 

 

Eight Years Later…

 

Harry Potter was nothing like Draco Malfoy imagined him to be.

When Draco was five and six, Harry Potter was a legend. But Draco’s simple, childish mind turned him into a boy, a playmate with whom he ran down the manor’s empty echoing halls and terrorized the elves when Pansy and Blaise were away in France for the summer.

That Harry was forgotten for a time, set aside for the trappings of maturity, when faith and youthful idealism were stripped away and the baleful cynicism of reality took their place.

And then the second incarnation of Harry Potter came to be. The reality. It was painful at first, the sheer imperfection of him.

But Draco has come to terms with the humanity of this once legend turned flesh and blood. Like he's come to terms with how lucky he was to kill Voldemort when he did, that the Order of the Phoenix had finished off the rest of the Horcruxes just a few months before Draco's final confrontation. Harry likes to call it fate. Draco doesn't say he doesn't believe in fate anymore. He's starting to believe in a lot of things hasn't since he was a child.

He does not wish for a time that used to be, or what was, not even to recapture the legend that was 'Harry Potter'. He knows now was a fool he was all those years ago, when innocence was entwined with ignorance.

Now. Now he appreciates waking up with his Harry in the morning, the man, not the myth. The one who still forgets how to cast a proper 'Scourgify' sometimes, who only just passed his NEWTS two years ago. The Harry who hates bacon and loves treacle tart. Draco loves arguing with this Harry over the morning paper because he knows they'll make it up come dinner.

Draco takes his reality, the good and the bad, can appreciate it all the more knowing what his Harry has suffered for it.

Because he knows what could have been.