Chapter 1: Enforced Holiday
Harry tries to settle in for his unwanted holiday. He finds himself in an unexpected and unwelcome predicament.
Chapter 1: Enforced Holiday
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, or Draco Malfoy; much as I would like to.
Pairings: Harry/Draco, Ron/Hermione, other assorted canon pairings, past Sirius/Remus, and Remus/Tonks.
Rating: M, NC-17; though not until much, much later in the story.
Warnings: Slash, sex or implied sex, language, character death (not Harry or Draco), and past canonical child abuse.
Summary: Harry is forced to take a vacation before becoming a full Auror, for his own health. He is less than pleased about that fact. Adding to his displeasure? The fact that in order to ensure he used the allotted vacation time to relax and not continue to work himself to death he was assigned an escort - none other than his Auror partner, Draco Malfoy. Creature fic.
Hear the sound of the falling rain
Coming down like an Armageddon flame
The ones who died without a name
Hear the dogs howling out of key
To a hymn called "Faith and Misery"
And bleed, the company lost the war today
I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
Green Day - Holiday
Harry threw his bag down on the hotel bed and scowled. He glared around the large suite as if offended by the luxury. He wanted to scream in frustration, but that would certainly bring his guard - for that was how he thought of the "escort" who had been assigned to him to make sure he relaxed and made non-productive use of his time off - running. He had locked the door, but he didn't trust that the guard wouldn't hex it down if he thought Harry was in danger.
At that moment, he hated the Minister of Magic. He didn't need a vacation, whatever Kingsley thought about it. Damn him.
And assigning him a guard to make sure he spent his holiday relaxing instead of working! His scowl deepened as Harry thought about his guard.
Fucking damn him to hell.
Harry had not taken any time off after the war. He had thrown himself into studying for his NEWTs, which he passed with flying colours - all except potions, which he passed with just a high enough grade to make it into the Aurors.
From there he threw himself into Auror training, and worked like a man possessed. He spent hours after training in the practice room; firing hex after hex, jinx after jinx, spell after spell. He duelled with anyone who would face him, and won more and more often, until he was nearly unbeatable – even for some of the senior Aurors. Staying until the ministry closed each night, he even came in on his days off.
When he got home to Number 12, Grimmauld Place each night, he threw himself into research; scouring the Black library, borrowing tomes from the ministry, and even venturing into Knockturn Alley in search of reading materials. He read book after book on Dark Arts and the defenses against them, outstripping even Hermione in his passion.
His friends were worried about him. He had no social life; never going on outings with them - not even to the Weasley's - or on dates. When Ginny approached him about picking up where they had left off, he told her kindly but firmly that she needed to move on. Her tears failed to move him.
He flew through Auror training, his dedication rocketing him to the top of the class and speeding him through training faster than was supposed to be possible. Ron was left far behind, along with all their other fellow trainees. His obsession made him untouchable. No one could match him; no one could catch up to him.
No one except Draco Malfoy.
How Malfoy had gotten into Auror training was a mystery to Harry. The slimy git had had a meeting with Kingsley that lasted hours, and no one knew what they'd talked about. Afterwards, Malfoy had joined the ranks of the Auror trainees.
Harry was incensed. Of course, anger was Harry's primary emotion after the war, and few things didn't make him angry these days; but still. He had spoken for Narcissa and Malfoy at their trials. He explained how Narcissa had saved him in the Forbidden Forest. He explained Malfoy's inability to kill Dumbledore, his desire to protect his parents, his reluctance to obey Voldemort and to torture prisoners, and his refusal to identify Harry and his friends at Malfoy Manor. He didn't want to see Malfoy punished for things that had been out of his control. That did not mean he agreed that the Slytherin should be allowed to become an Auror.
What made it even worse was that rather than partnering him with Ron, like they'd both requested, the instructors assigned him to Malfoy.
"You need a partner who's on the same skill level as you are, Harry. Someone who can challenge you. Right now, Draco's the only one," Instructor Fillmore told him calmly, when he burst into her office, outraged.
Malfoy had accepted it calmly, simply smirking at Harry and saying, "Guess we'll be seeing a lot of each other, then, Potter." Harry had walked away to keep from punching him in the face.
Fillmore was right about one thing - he and Malfoy certainly did challenge each other. Everything between them was a competition. It was all Harry could do to stay on top. No matter how hard he tried, no matter what he did, Malfoy was always mere steps behind him. If he slacked for even a moment, Malfoy might overtake him.
He and Malfoy weren't supposed to finish Auror training for another two years, but in one year they had surpassed several of their instructors and the remaining instructors had found there was nothing more they could teach them.
They met with the minister to discuss becoming Aurors now, rather than waiting, and Kingsley eyed Harry with growing concern. Harry's eyes were shadowed with deep purple bruises, and his face was pale. He jumped at small noises. He was thin; his face looked almost gaunt, making his muscled body seem almost disproportionate, though not quite. There was a faint twitch to the muscles of his mouth.
Quite simply, he looked like a man on the edge of a breakdown.
Kingsley met with Harry's instructors, and firecalled Ron and Hermione. The next day he called Harry back into his office and informed him in a tone that brooked no argument that Harry was taking a paid vacation, effective immediately. Harry tried to argue anyway.
That was what got him assigned his guard. That, and the fact that Kingsley was angling for the position of Harry's most-hated-person.
Harry flopped face-down on the bed, shoving the bag aside and barely registering the soft thud as it hit the floor. He rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. He was tired; so tired. Deciding he would try to go to sleep now, he closed his eyes and began his nightly ritual. Raising his wand, he 'Nox'ed the lights, and spoke quietly but clearly into the darkness, slowly and carefully enunciating each word. As he said each name, the faces and memories of his friends flashed behind his eyelids.
"Sirius." Wild hair; an untamed laugh; kind grey eyes; a big black dog.
"Dumbledore." Twinkling blue eyes; a long white beard; a phoenix; lemon drops.
"Dobby." Floppy ears; mismatched socks; "Master Harry Potter, sir!"; a free elf.
"Hedwig." Snow white feathers; soft hoots; letters; a listening ear and constant companionship.
There was a vague knocking sound, but Harry ignored it.
"Moody." "Constant vigilance!"; a swiveling, all-seeing magical blue eye; a stump; a man tied up at the bottom of a trunk.
"Snape." "10 Points from Gryffindor, Mr. Potter!"; potions and the Halfblood Prince; billowing black robes; a hook-nosed sneer.
"Remus." Patronuses and Dementors; chocolate; the full moon; the howl of a wolf.
"Tonks." Clumsiness; pink hair; "Wotcher, Harry!"; a laughing baby.
"Colin." A camera flashing; a high, excited voice calling, "Harry!"; blond hair; adoration and hero-worship.
"Fred." Weasley's Wizard Wheezes; fireworks that defied imagination; a portable swamp; two identical, inseparable freckled redheads forever parted.
"What are you doing, Potter?" His guard spoke quietly, a soft reproach in his voice.
"Remembering," said Harry shortly, without opening his eyes.
"How often do you remember?"
"Every minute of every day. Every night, before I go to bed."
"Merlin, Potter; no wonder you don't sleep!" His guard swore under his breath.
Harry's eyes snapped open, and they glittered dangerously as he swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat up in one swift, fluid motion. He faced the bedroom doorway, where his guard lounged.
"I may have been forced to take this vacation," he hissed. "You may have been assigned to watch me and report about me like some kind of jailer," he raised a hand to stave off the protests as the guard opened his mouth. "And I may be forced to relax. That does not, however, give you the right to analyze me, or judge me, or the way I live my life and the things I choose to do with my time. Unless it's something that's included in your orders and mine, I don't want to hear about it." He glared defiantly. "Are we clear, Malfoy?"
That was the other thing Harry was so upset about. When he had, as part of a last-ditch effort to worm his way out of the vacation by protesting that the time away would give Malfoy an unfair advantage and Harry might lose his number one spot, Kingsley had called Malfoy into his office right then and there, and ordered him, as his first job as a full Auror, to escort Harry on vacation. Harry was informed that unless he wanted to stay in training for the requisite additional two years, that he would go quietly.
He was given enough time to pack his bags, then portkeyed along with Malfoy to a rather posh wizarding resort, which they had arrived at and checked into merely fifteen minutes before he'd entered the room and flung his bag onto the bed.
He shot Malfoy a look that could have turned the blood in his veins to ice, without the aid of a freezing charm. "How the hell did you get in here, anyway?"
"The door, Potter. Obviously." Malfoy rolled his eyes. Harry couldn't see his eyes in the dark, but he knew Malfoy well enough that he could hear the eye roll in his voice. Harry hadn't taken off his glasses yet, and he could see Malfoy's silhouette in the darkness. He was leaning against the door frame with his arms folded over his chest, and his pose was a study in casual, graceful indifference.
"I locked it," Harry ground out.
"The adjoining door, Potter?" He heard rather than saw the raised brow.
They had adjoining rooms. Just when this vacation couldn't get any better, he thought to himself, railing mentally against Kingsley and adjoining doors in general and against Malfoy in particular.
"So there's an adjoining door. What," he bit out. "Gave you the right to use it?"
"I knocked," said Malfoy mildly. "You didn't answer."
"And that gave you the right to waltz in like you owned the place?" snapped Harry.
"As a matter of fact, Potter," the raised eyebrow voice said again. "This establishment happens to be one of the Malfoy holdings, and these rooms the private Malfoy suites. That's how we got such good rooms on such short notice. These rooms are kept available should a Malfoy choose to come on the spur of the moment. So in fact; I do, as you so eloquently put it, own the pl-"
"Shut up!" Harry growled. "You know what I meant, Malfoy."
Malfoy straightened. "I was checking to see if you'd run off," he snapped, a bite of sharpness returning to his tone. "After your behaviour and attitude thus far you can hardly blame me for thinking it."
Harry was tempted to snap back mulishly that, yes, in fact he could; that there were a lot of things he could blame Malfoy for, but he found he had no will to fight. "Well, obviously I haven't," he said tiredly, running his fingers through his hair. "So if you don't mind, Malfoy, I'll thank you to head back the way you came and let me get back to preparing to go to sleep."
"My orders," said Malfoy stiffly. "Were to go with you, see to it you relaxed, and not do anything that would stress you out. And Potter?" He leaned forwards. "Chanting the names of the dead to yourself is a form of stressing yourself out."
Harry gave Malfoy a look that was as good as an Incendio, only far less effective, because Malfoy couldn't see it.
"What do you plan to do about it?" he demanded. "You can't stop me!"
"Yes, Potter," Malfoy said calmly. "I can."
"Soporificus!" he shouted, raising his wand before Harry could react.
Harry fell back, sleep overtaking him at last.
When Harry woke, the sunlight streaming through the window was tinted pink. For a moment he thought it was the sunrise, before remembering the window faced west. He was shocked to realise he had slept for an entire night and day.
He couldn't blame the spell; he recognised it. Rather than an enchanted sleep, it caused the victim to fall into a natural sleep, which would end when the victim was sufficiently rested. It was a healer's spell, used to treat insomnia in patients with potions allergies.
He had to grudgingly admit he'd needed the sleep.
He stared at the ground. Now that he was rested, he could logically admit that Kingsley had had a point about him needing to rest more. He still felt a full vacation was unnecessary, but he resigned himself to it with less bitterness than before.
He looked up and glanced around the room. It was opulent; the furnishings done in gold and light wood, the walls a rich cream colour. Everything in the room was done in those colours; with accents of royal blue woven into curtains and bedding.
There was a hot tub on the left hand side of the room. It bubbled silently; no doubt charmed to be noiseless and run by magical charms rather than electricity.
The room itself was huge; with a king sized canopy bed, a chaise, a fireplace, and several large wing-backed chairs. There was a massive wardrobe beside the bed, and another against the wall near the hot tub.
On the right was a door that led to a study. It was a dark room, rich chocolate browns, royal blue, and forest green being the colour scheme. Harry's eyes gleamed as he examined the rows of books. Perhaps this vacation might not be a total loss. He could study, and learn, and continue to improve. It was with some difficulty that he tore himself from the room to return to the bedroom and continue his exploration.
Straight ahead were two doors. Continuing forward, he discovered the one on the left led to the bathroom; a lovely room done in varying shades of blue, accented with white. There was an enormous shower in the center of the room; like communal showers it had no curtains - it was large enough not to need them. Instead there were walls that curved around in s perfect half circle, with multiple showerheads all aimed at the center of the basin. That was what it looked like - a giant stone basin, with walls curving round one side and open air on the other. It looked decadent. Harry had the sudden desire to try it out, but refrained in favour of continuing his exploration.
The other door led to the entrance to the suite, which he had seen the night before, coming in, thought he hadn't paid attention to it then.
It was a lovely little room, done in pastel green and blue. There was a coat rack, umbrella stand, and a papasan chair on either side. Ahead was the door to the hallway, he remembered. On the left was another door; it must have been the door to Malfoy's room, as it was the only door left.
After a moment's indecision, he opened it. After all, Malfoy hadn't given any thought to his privacy the night before. He stepped inside.
It was an entrance room similar to his, in muted pastels, portraits of landscapes on the walls, vases in alcoves, and comfortable chairs casually arranged. He strode in and opened the door to Malfoy's bedroom. It was again, much the same as Harry's, only the colour scheme was cream, silver, and - to his shock - red. Well, burgundy. But still. He would have thought it too Gryffindor for Malfoy's taste.
He heard the sound of water running and realised that Malfoy must be in the shower. He also heard something else; something that made his breath catch and his feet move unbidden, taking him closer, to hear better.
Malfoy was singing.
His voice was soaring, transporting Harry to another plane of audible delights. It was soothing, healing. Harry felt peace for the first time he could remember.
He didn't recognise the song but he eagerly strained his ears as he wandered closer, intending to listen at the bathroom door.
The door was open. Harry didn't mean to look; he really didn't. He was just so caught up in the song that he moved to stand in the open doorway without thinking.
His jaw dropped. There stood Malfoy in all his glory; pale skin like porcelain with water streaming over it, the contours of his slender, lithe body were well defined, his muscles prominent, hair falling almost to his shoulders, with water running through it and turning the silvery-white strands into spun gold. He was facing Harry. His face was serene, eyes closed, head thrown back. His hands massaged his scalp. The spray danced and glimmered around him as droplets caught the light, making him look ethereal. Fey. Gorgeous.
Harry's mouth went dry, very dry. His groin stirred and he felt a deep-rooted urge to move forward, to seize Malfoy and kiss and bite and suck every part of his gorgeous body until the blond screamed his name in ecstasy.
Harry had never been sexually attracted to anyone before. He'd found Cho attractive, and Ginny, but in a superficial, non-physical way. He'd attributed his lack of sexual interest in girls to the stress of Voldemort and the war and later on to his need to do his duty, to a part of his penance for the deaths he was responsible for. The deaths he could have prevented; should have prevented. The deaths he thought of constantly.
Only he wasn't thinking of them now. What shot through his mind like lightning in that moment were all the things over the years that should have turned him on and didn't, all the little things he couldn't explain - provocatively dressed girls who he didn't notice, except to wonder if they were cold. The wank mags Seamus had showed him and Ron that hadn't appealed to him. The wet dreams and wank fantasies that stared a faceless, shapeless figure who just might have had strong arms, defined abs, and a flat chest. The way he felt so uncomfortable in group showers, carefully avoiding looking at anyone because the toned bodies made him feel so strange. Then there was the beautiful male body on display before him, the perfect Adonis who made him crave things he'd never wanted before.
Against his will his eyes were drawn down from Malfoy's face, down the thin column of Malfoy's throat, across the lines of his wide shoulders and up his strong arms. His mouth watered as he eyes the chiselled chest that stood out above his flat, hard abs; and Harry's gaze swept across them, travelling further south as he took in Malfoy's limp cock which hung proudly between his legs. His legs, which looked a mile long and firm and muscular, were planted about a foot apart. Harry barely noticed them, though; all his attention was riveted between them, at the cock which looked so mouth-watering he found himself wondering how it would taste; how it would feel in his mouth.
Realisation hit him like a thunderclap, and he understood. Gay! his mind shrieked. Gay, so gay; oh so very, very gay!
He was gay.
He felt he should have been more shocked at the revelation, only it made so much sense; and with Malfoy's perfect body before him, it was hard to care. Yes, with Malfoy's unholy beauty and delicious masculinity on display for his viewing pleasure, it was awfully hard for a bloke to wish he was straight; rather than thanking Merlin, God, Buddha, Allah, and every other deity he could think of that he was gay and he was there and Malfoy was there, naked and wet, a few feet away.
His breathing had gone ragged and he struggled to bring it under control while he listened to Malfoy's song.
"Come to me,
Come to me,
My love, my heart,
Will you come to me,
Come to me?
Let us be,
Let us be,
For I am alone,
And I am lonely.
So let us be,
Just let us be."
His voice was haunting, the melody sweet and sad. Abruptly, he stopped singing. With a jolt, Harry realised the blond was going to get out of the shower, and he would find Harry there watching him, noticeably aroused, and he would have a lot of explaining to do.
Malfoy opened his eyes, and Harry fled. He rushed to his room for a furious wank, locking the door behind himself, hoping desperately that his partner hadn't seen him through the steam.
After a wank that resulted in the most intense orgasm of his life thus far, the panic set in. Part of it was that he was gay, part of it was that he had not only wanked over Draco Malfoy but that he had enjoyed it so very much, and part of it was the fear that he might not have made a clean getaway.
Upon some reflection, Harry decided that it must have been some unknown side effect of the Soporificus spell. Yes, that had to be it. He wasn't gay, and he certainly wasn't in lust with Draco Malfoy – no, the spell had simply made him confused, and his confusion had centered on Malfoy in the absence of anyone else – or perhaps because he had been the caster.
Ignoring the little voice inside him that warned him that his explanation was weak, and that he knew it wasn't true, Harry resolved to scour the library in search of anything that might prove his theory. In the absence of such proof, he would find a way to contact Hermione; though that left him with the uncomfortable issue of finding a way to word his request without either revealing the reason for it, or risking a refusal on the grounds that he was meant to be on vacation.
One thing was certain, there was no way he would be getting much relaxing done around Malfoy until whatever it was Malfoy had done to him wore off.
Harry spent the next hour on edge. He was waiting for Malfoy to come in and confront him; demand to know what the hell he was doing, what he was playing at. It was what he would have done. But an hour passed, and no Malfoy. He was just beginning to breathe easier, to believe that Malfoy hadn't seen him, when there came a knock at the adjoining door, and Malfoy Alohamora-ed it and breezed in.
"Morning, Potter," he smirked.
He knows. Harry's heart sank. Oh, Merlin, he knows. He was certain Malfoy intended, if not to rail at him, then to humiliate him. He steeled himself for the blow. It didn't come.
"I say morning, but it's evening now. I'll have to cast Soporificus on you again tonight – and don't you dare say that I won't, because I'll be doing it every night until you give up that ridiculous ritual of yours." Malfoy shot him a warning look, and Harry blinked in bafflement.
"Err, wha-?" he said intelligently. His mind was still on the shower debacle.
"The time, Potter?" Malfoy looked amused. "Soporificus? Your ridiculous self-flagellating?"
"Oh." Harry nodded. "That." He frowned. "It isn't ridiculous, Malfoy. And it isn't self-flagellating." He attempted to glare at the Slytherin, but that required looking at him from more than out of the corner of his eyes and Harry found when he did that all he could picture was the vision from the shower. He looked away quickly, blushing furiously.
"It is, Potter, as anyone you know or even those you don't know would tell you." Malfoy frowned at him. "Until you learn that, you're not going to get any better. And until you get better, you won't be able to become a full Auror."
"Kingsley – the minister – said two weeks," said Harry stiffly.
"He also told me to report on your condition, and make any recommendations I think will help. To start with, I think you need to see a mind-healer about your grief."
Harry opened his mouth to protest that he didn't need help with his grief; there were lots of people who had lost loved ones, and most of them hadn't needed mind-healers, and mind-healers shouldn't have their time taken up by people like Harry when there were so many people who actually needed them, but thought better of it. If Malfoy's recommendations were being taken into account, he needed to change the git's opinion, and quickly.
"I also think you may need more than two weeks to recover from everything you've been doing to yourself," frowned Malfoy. He gave Harry an appraising look. "You really haven't been taking care of yourself. A good night – and day's – sleep has done wonders for you, Potter, but it's also highlighted just how sick you are. Merlin, you look like shite."
Harry glowered. "Well we can't all be bloody gorgeous, can we, Malfoy?"
Malfoy blinked. He looked taken aback. "Merlin, Potter, was that a compliment?"
Harry glared at the carpet and wouldn't meet Malfoy's eyes.
Malfoy whistled. "I think it was. Merlin, Mordred, and Morgana; you really are sick, aren't you?"
Harry chose not to dignify that with a response.
"Well, come along then," said Malfoy brightly.
Harry looked up in confusion, though once again he blushed and looked away quickly. "Where are we going?"
""To the spa, Potter," replied Malfoy as though it was obvious. "Come on, then."
They walked over to a special Apparition point, which Malfoy had explained would allow them to apparate to any other apparition point at any other level inside the resort. There was a special anti-apparition field around the resort that prevented anyone from apparating in or out of it, but allowed for apparition within it, between certain points.
They wanted the third floor, Malfoy had explained, motioning to the picture of the third-floor apparition point on the wall. Judging from the number of pictures on the wall, Harry deduced that there much be twelve floors altogether. He thought that that didn't seem nearly as exclusive as Malfoy had made the resort sound; but then Malfoy had explained that the entire third floor was a spa, and Harry realised that several of the other floors were likely taken up by amenities. He wondered just how many, and just what amenities they contained.
Harry had never been to a spa. He'd never been pampered in his life before and it made him rather uncomfortable. He felt like he was doing something wrong; every time he started to relax and enjoy himself he thought of his friends, the ones he lost, and he was overwhelmed with guilt and self-loathing. Normally, he would just throw himself into work, striving with every bone in his body to make something of himself, to prove that he could somehow earn their sacrifice.
That he could be redeemed for having exacted such a heavy price from them.
Malfoy didn't understand that. He couldn't understand.
And now he was attempting to show Harry the wonders of facials, manicures, pedicures, and steam rooms.
Harry bore it all with as much patience as he could muster, and kept attempting to assuage his guilty conscience by reminding himself that this was necessary to become a full Auror, to make all the work he'd been doing worthwhile. To save others the way he hadn't saved his friends.
It wasn't until they had been exfoliated, scrubbed, plucked, and heated within an inch of their lives that Malfoy allowed him to escape back to his rooms.
Malfoy spoke to the woman at the desk in a flurry of French – Harry had deduced that they were somewhere in France, based on the fact that everyone there except him spoke French – although he was learning; it had seemed an important skill to have as an Auror, multiple languages – and based on the appearances, mannerisms, and language of the other guests they saw, as well as the staff.
"Dites à Jacques et à Philippe de venir jusqu'à notre chambre, dites-leur que c'est la chambre deux mille cinq cents," Malfoy said, and Harry cocked his head. It sounded like Malfoy was asking for two men to come up to his room; although why Malfoy might do that was beyond Harry's ability to guess. In light of Harry's new-found revelation, his brain helpfully supplied a few answers, the thought of which made him blush furiously and shake his head vigorously to clear it.
When they got back to their rooms, Malfoy followed him inside. He still couldn't meet the blond's eyes, so chose not to get confrontational about it. He walked into his bedroom and Malfoy followed him again.
"Gonna follow me into the shower, Malfoy?" he asked bitingly, trying hard not to blush again.
"Not unless you want me to," Malfoy grinned, and Harry's jaw dropped. He stared at the blond in shock. He must have looked as panicked as he felt, because Malfoy burst out laughing.
"Merlin's beard," Malfoy chuckled. "You should see your face! It was a joke, Potter." He rolled his eyes. "Gryffindors."
"Well, I want a shower, Malfoy. In case you hadn't noticed, we were sweating an awful lot in that steam room." In which he not only hadn't been able to look at Malfoy, but not even in his general direction. He had been mercifully grateful that his red face did not look out of place in the heat, though Malfoy had ribbed him good-naturedly about looking like a lobster.
His conscience had been pretty quiet during that part of the pampering, most likely due to being drowned out by hormones. After all, Harry was a nineteen year old maybe-gay-though-it-was-probably-just-spell-damage-ed male; and Malfoy had, he had just discovered, the body of a Greek god. He'd spent the bulk of the time in the steam rooms picturing Delores Umbridge doing a strip tease in order to keep his body under control.
"You could have showered off down there, like I did," pointed out Malfoy.
"I don't like communal showers," Harry said stiffly. "I prefer to take a private shower when it's an option."
"However did you survive at Hogwarts, Potter?" Malfoy shook his head. "Well it probably would have been better than waiting for me and acting all impatient."
Harry's temper flared. "That's because somebody takes a bloody hour to primp after he has a shower, and I didn't know how to get back to my rooms without you!"
Malfoy schooled his features into a mask of contrition, but his eyes twinkled merrily. "Well, Potter, being, as you so eloquently put it, 'bloody gorgeous', takes time."
Harry took off his shoe and threw it at Malfoy's head.
"Out!" he barked.
"The bathroom has a door, Potter. I need to wait for Jacques and Philippe."
Harry debated asking what they were coming up for, then decided it could wait. He needed to get away from Malfoy. And he could definitely use a good wank.
After his shower – during which he had wanked furiously for the second time that evening, picturing Malfoy for the second time and coming harder than he ever remembered doing in his life – he had realised to his dismay that he had forgotten to grab a change of clothes before heading into the bathroom. Supposing it would be too much to ask for Malfoy to be gone when he went back into his bedroom, he dried off, and wrapped one towel around his waist, and, using another to towel off his hair, headed out.
He had expected to see Malfoy in his bedroom. He hadn't expected to open the door and find Malfoy with his back to the door, taking off his clothes.
"Harglph," Harry garbled.
"Oi, Potter," said Malfoy as he laid down his robes and pulled his jumper above his head. "Strip."
"Hrrglugh," Harry gurgled. Don't look at his back, don't look at his bac- oh. OH. Harry stared. He goggled. The pale white back before him caught and held his interest like nothing ever had before. They could have been in the midst of battle; hexes could have been firing left and right – hell, a blasting charm could have been aimed in his face, and Harry doubted he would have noticed.
He thought he'd gotten a good look at Malfoy in the shower. He may have seen more of Malfoy – considerably more – but he hadn't really gotten a good look, thanks to all the steam. He got a good one now.
The slight form of the blond belied his build. His shoulders were narrower than Harry's, but they were still broad and well-muscled. His back tapered into a firm, slender waist, and his hips were perfectly shaped. He was the perfect balance of slender and muscle, curves and pointiness.
Harry tried to look away and found himself nearly cross-eyed with the effort. But he couldn't let Malfoy catch him looking.
He tore his gaze away and pretended to be fascinated by the carpet. He still didn't trust himself to speak, so he didn't ask why the blond was undressing. Maybe this was all a dream. A very surreal, very bad dream from which he would wake up soon and everything would be back to normal. Or maybe a very surreal, very good dream, in which he was about to get laid. In either case he hoped Malfoy would speak soon and let him know which it was so that he didn't make a fool of himself.
"Are you stripping, Potter? Oh- no need to strip, I see."
"Why-" Harry squeaked in a very high pitched voice. "Why?" he tried again, his voice thankfully regaining some semblance of normalcy. If it shook a little, he could try blaming that on having a man stripping in his room and demanding that he do the same. Surely, that was justifiable cause for having one's voice shake?
He ventured a look at the blond, careful to keep his eyes on Malfoy's face and not any other part of him.
"Don't worry, Potter, I'm not going to ravish you." Malfoy grinned lopsidedly at him as he began to unbuckle his trousers. Harry paled.
His mind screamed, yes; yes, please, ravish me! Harry told his mind to go to hell. It went, happily, paving the way with visions of Malfoy ravishing him. Merlin, I need help!
"Up on the table, Potter," said Malfoy. It was then that Harry noticed that there were two long, cloth-covered white tables in the room that hadn't been there before. In fact, there were also two men in the room who hadn't been there before. How Harry had been oblivious to their presence he wasn't sure. Though, you know. Malfoy's back and all.
"Merlin, Potter, you're verbose tonight, aren't you?"
"Go to hell, Malfoy," Harry squeaked threateningly.
Malfoy chuckled. "Go on; up on the table with you. Jacques is going to take care of you."
Harry spoke in a desperate bid to regain the illusion of heterosexuality. "What? No! I don't- I'm not-" He tried to draw in a deep breath, as the hyperventilating he was doing was not making things any easier for him. "Whatever you guys are going to be doing, I'll thank you to do it in your room; not mine!"
"Oh," said Malfoy, a trifle gleefully. "I'm afraid it just wouldn't be the same with you, Potter."
At that, Harry "Eep'ed" and, clinging to the tattered remains of his self-control, fled to the bathroom. Spying his wand lying on top of his pile of sweaty clothing, he snatched it up and cast several powerful locking and warding charms at the door in quick succession. He then flattened himself against the far wall, holding his wand out at the door with trembling fingers, his breath coming in harsh gasps.
There was a knock at the door, followed by the sound of someone attempting to open it.
"Potter, open the door. No one's going to hurt you; I promise."
Harry closed his eyes. That's exactly what I'm afraid of. He heard Malfoy attempting to undo his wards, followed by a frustrated growl that made his cock give an enthusiastic twitch.
"Potter, come on out. Merlin, I was just teasing you; I swear no one is going to do anything untoward."
"Harry." Harry stifled a groan at hearing his name spoken in Malfoy's voice. Especially in that wheedling, coaxing tone of voice.
"Jacques and Philippe are masseuses. They're here to give us each a massage. So you can relax and stop panicking. I'm sorry I teased you. I found your misreading of the situation and subsequent panic amusing; but I should have just told you. I didn't realise you would react so badly." There was a note of hurt in Malfoy's voice, though Harry barely noticed it through his combined anger and embarrassment. His anger was greater than it would have been if not for the note of disappointment that had coloured his relief at knowing no one there had plans to ravish him. Malfoy had done this to him. He was sure of it.
He stalked over to the door, took down his wards and threw it open. Malfoy almost fell into his arms at having the door so suddenly removed, and Harry used his anger as fuel to shove Malfoy away rather than pulling him closer.
"Somehow," he snapped. "I'm really, really not in the mood for a massage. Or to have anyone in my room but me. So, if you don't want me to start hexing, you lot will clear out. Now." He shot Malfoy a glare that could have frozen the Sahara, and brandished his wand threateningly. Malfoy, he noticed now, was attired similarly to how he was himself, and had paled in response to his threat.
Malfoy might be able to defeat him in the duelling chamber on occasion, but Harry won most of the time, and this time he had a good night's sleep, fury, and pent-up sexual frustration on his side. If Malfoy knew what was good for him, he'd get himself and the masseuses out.
It seemed that since their Hogwarts days, Malfoy had learned to pick his battles, because he picked himself up, spoke a few rapid phrases in French, and began gathering up his clothes. The two other men in the room waved their wands and the two long tables and the cloths that had laid on them folded themselves up and shrank, becoming quite portable, and flew overhead towards the waiting wizards. They spoke a few words to Malfoy in French, bowed, and left.
Malfoy finished grabbing his belongings, and turned to Harry. His face was flushed and he looked rather miserable. "I really am sorry, Potter," he said, rather earnestly. "I didn't mean to-"
"Malfoy," Harry cut in. "Just get the hell out."
Malfoy nodded and left quickly, through the adjoining door - which Harry now noticed was on the other side of his hottub.
Harry stalked over to his bag. He suddenly felt very tired and confused. He decided that what he needed to do, more than anything else, was to get dressed, and scour the library to see if he could find anything to help with his situation. But first, he really needed a headache potion, and hoped desperately that there was some way of getting one without speaking to Malfoy again.
Chapter 2: Working Holiday
Harry begins his research in earnest. Draco helps, and the two begin to get to know each other better. Harry writes some letters to his friends.
Chapter Two: Working Holiday
Disclaimer: J. created Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, and the whole wizarding world. As much as I adore them and enjoy creating my own adventures for them, they aren't mine. Yes, it hurts. But I think I'll survive. Somehow.
A/N: Thanks to Yolla Bbl for correcting my French in the last chapter. I had several offers to help, which I'm very grateful for.
And when we get there its strictly VIP
No need for ID, security know me
No waiting in line, no high entry fee
Don't worry about nothing when you're beside me
I'll get you lively and loosen you up
Have a bit of champagne, it'll boost you up
I wanna move you up, I wanna take you away
So have a word, darling, what do you say?
Dizzee Rascal - Holiday
After locating a headache potion in the bedside table, Harry headed into the study to begin his research. He Accio'ed the books on healing spells, and was pleased when several volumes flew off the shelves towards him. He levitated them beside a comfortable looking green arm chair, then settled in to read.
A couple of hours later he set aside the latest volume and massaged his temples, attempting to rid himself of his renewed headache.
"You're supposed to be resting." Malfoy's voice was quiet, subdued. It didn't make Harry any less annoyed to hear it.
"I'm trying to figure out how to fix what you did to me," he growled.
"What I did to you?" The confusion in Malfoy's voice grated on his nerves, and he snapped.
"Yes, from whatever spell you cast on me last night!"
Malfoy blinked. "Potter, I only cast Soporificus on you last night."
"Well, then it had an unintended side effect." Harry glared at him, and Malfoy's expression became concerned.
"Are you alright? What is it? Why didn't you say something earlier?"
"I kept hoping it would go away, but it's not getting any better. I can't stand this. It's awful!" Harry shouted.
Malfoy paled. "How awful?" he asked in a small voice.
"Let's just say you've paid me back for Sectumsempra'ing you in sixth year!"
Malfoy went even paler. "Oh, Merlin," he whispered. He looked like he was going to be sick, or pass out, and Harry felt a stab of guilt. He let out a long breath, leaned back and closed his eyes. Despite his anger at Malfoy, he knew that he was exaggerating. He was also uncomfortably aware that since the war, Malfoy had made an effort to be a decent human being, and had always tried to be a good partner to him; whereas Harry had done quite the opposite with his former rival.
"Malfoy, I'm sorry." He hesitated. "I shouldn't have said that. It was out of line." He cleared his throat. "I'm sorry for casting that spell on you, too. I didn't know what it did when I cast it, but I had no business casting an unknown spell at someone like that. I regretted it the moment I saw what it did to you. I should have apologized to you a long time ago, but I didn't really know what to say, and I didn't think you would listen."
He opened his eyes, and met Malfoy's gaze wearily. "The side effects I'm dealing with aren't anywhere near as bad as that. But they're unpleasant, and I've been struggling with them since I woke up. It's made me very irritable."
Malfoy swallowed. He still looked ill, though not as bad as he had at first. He nodded. "I forgive you, Potter. I forgave you a long time ago." He looked at the floor. "It does mean a lot to me to know that you didn't do that to me on purpose, though. And believe me; I had no idea there was any chance of there being any side effects when I used Soporificus on you last night. I wouldn't have done it if I'd known. All I wanted to do was help you sleep."
Harry nodded. "I know, Malfoy. Trust me; if I thought you'd done it on purpose, I'd probably have used an Unforgivable on you by now."
Malfoy grimaced. "I guess that explains why you've been acting so strangely lately."
Harry laughed humourlessly. "Yeah, you could say that. It's also why I'm not going to let you talk me out of researching until I figure out how to fix this thing."
"I wouldn't do that; not now that you've told me. Though I insist on helping you with your research."
Harry shrugged. "Be my guest."
Malfoy took the seat across from him and Accio'ed one of the books from the pile. "What are your symptoms? It'll help if I know what to look for."
Harry retrieved his own book. "It's embarrassing, Malfoy. Just look for possible side effects and let me know if you find any."
Malfoy stared at him for a moment, biting his lower lip. Harry looked down at his book quickly, hoping that his cheeks didn't flush too obviously. Malfoy's lips looked so soft and full; and the image of him biting them made Harry long to be the one taking that plump bottom lip between his teeth.
"I can do that. I'll do whatever it takes to help you." The earnestness in Malfoy's voice surprised Harry. "I'm so sorry that I did… whatever it is that I did to you."
Harry nodded, still staring at the pages of his book. He didn't trust himself to meet Malfoy's eyes. They were just so grey. And if the earnestness in his voice was reflected in his eyes…
Harry cleared his throat and forced himself to continue reading.
Harry blinked up at Malfoy. He'd almost forgotten the blond was there, not even noticing him when he'd tossed aside the book he was reading to grab another one from the pile.
"I'm not done going through these books yet," he responded.
"Actually, I just finished looking through the last one. Absolutely nothing in here about the Soporificus spell, or in any of the other ones. If it's mentioned at all, it only says the same thing we were taught about it in training; nothing new. Nothing that hints at any possible side effects."
Harry glanced down beside his chair and realised Malfoy was right; though he couldn't help being surprised. He hadn't even heard him summoning the books.
He closed his eyes and massaged his temples again, feeling his headache back full force. "I'll have to try looking it up under a different category, then," he said helplessly. "Though fucked if I know what."
"Maybe if you told me what's happened to you I'd have some ideas of how to help," offered Malfoy, and Harry opened his eyes again to glare at him. "Or not." He shrugged. "Either way, you need to go to bed soon, or you'll be too exhausted to get up on time tomorrow."
Harry stared at the floor. He'd rather die than tell Malfoy about the freakish nature of the side effect. He was at rather a loss for what to do otherwise, though.
"Have you thought about writing to Granger, to see if she can help you? I seem to remember she was always the best in your group at research. If anyone can find the answers, it'll be her."
Harry flushed. "She probably won't want to help me, since I'm meant to be relaxing."
Malfoy stared. "She's your friend, Potter. You're suffering spell damage. Of course she'll help you."
"How would I even send her a message, though?"
"The top floor has an owlry."
"That's one big owlry."
Malfoy snorted. "I said the top floor has an owlry, Potter; not the top floor is an owlry. Most of the top floor is an observation deck for star-gazing at night and sunbathing during the day."
"Ah." Harry stood up and stretched. "I guess I'd better write that letter. There's only so much I can do without Hermione's help. There are only so many books in here."
"Actually, Potter," cut in Malfoy, his cheeks pinking a bit. "I feel rather stupid now; but I was so upset at first when I realised I'd hurt you that I wasn't thinking clearly. There's a library on the fifth floor, and an infirmary on the seventh. I'd recommend we go talk to the mediwitches first, and if they can't help us, we can hit the library afterwards."
Harry stared at him. "That would actually help quite a lot, Malfoy. Thank you."
Malfoy's face lit up with pleasure, and Harry had to avert his eyes again. A pleased Malfoy positively glowed.
He's not beautiful, he reminded himself. He's just a stupid, pointy git, and you do not have a crush on him. Not even a little one.
He was made slightly uneasy by how happy his simple, "Thank you" had made Malfoy. He hadn't realized how rude he normally was to the former Slytherin. And while Malfoy stood up for himself and enjoyed ribbing Harry good naturedly, that was the extent of things from his end. No matter how unpleasant he was to Malfoy, Malfoy had never once resorted to the level of immaturity that had plagued their Hogwarts years.
Harry had enough to feel guilty about without adding the guilt of realising he was a jerk to his partner on top of that.
"Why don't we go down to the Hospital Wing now? We can talk to the healers, and that way you'll know where it is for tomorrow."
"Do you think that they might be able to look into it and know more tomorrow, if they don't have any answers tonight?" Harry asked hopefully. He disliked going to see healers, but he was hopeful that they might have some answers. Although there was no way that he was telling any of them anything about his sudden infatuation with Malfoy.
"Maybe. But you need to go there tomorrow regardless, to see the mind healer. She's flooing over from Britain specifically to meet with you."
Harry felt a surge of anger. "There is no way I'm talking to a mind healer."
Malfoy raised a brow. "You seem to forget that if you want to be a full Auror, you'll need to follow my suggestions. And I believe that you need to see a mind healer."
Harry glared at him, all of his previous good thoughts about his partner dissipating in the face of what felt like a betrayal. "I've learned the hard way that anything I say to a healer is going to end up in the papers. And I really have no interest in being someone's ticket to wealth by providing the material for an expose' on the Saviour of the wizarding world's inner psyche." His voice was bitter and he knew it, but he did hate that Madam Pomfrey was the only person he could see for any medical reason without having the whole thing end up in the press.
Malfoy blinked at him, looking astonished. "But you've been injured plenty of times without it ending up in the papers," he offered.
Harry snorted. "Yeah; I got really good at healing spells. Sometimes Hermione fixes me up. Anything the two of us can't handle, I go to Madam Pomfrey about. It's the only way I can get any privacy."
Malfoy looked outraged. "That's not right!"
"You're telling me," Harry muttered. "But that's the story of my life." He glared at the carpet, still angry because of the associated memories; though he was convinced now that Malfoy wouldn't force him to see the mind healer, now that he knew.
Malfoy touched his arm. "I'm sorry you have to deal with that," he said quietly. "But you should know that the Malfoy and Black family healers take an Unbreakable Vow before treating their patients for the first time, that they will not reveal any details of any conditions or treatments to anyone other than the patients' parents; not unless it is required to save their lives or someone else's. And I've arranged for the Black family's mind healer to see you tomorrow, so she'll be taking that Vow and I'll be serving as your bonder."
Harry stared at the carpet, trying and failing to see a flaw in the plan. If the healer was not capable of betraying his confidence, he would have to see her. And he simply couldn't shake the feeling that it was somehow wrong to do so; to admit to such weakness.
"You're still hesitating." Malfoy's voice was quiet, questioning.
"I don't like being seen as weak," Harry blurted, his cheeks flaming even as he did so, from the seeming arrogance of the statement. But it didn't seem to phase Malfoy.
"Of course you don't. No one does. There's nothing wrong with feeling that way. And if it makes you feel any better, I'm the last person who could fault you for seeing a mind healer, since I've seen her myself."
Harry whipped his head up and looked at Malfoy in astonishment. "You?"
Malfoy gave him a withering look. "The dark lord moved into the Manor after the fiasco at the ministry. He assigned me to get death eaters into the school and kill Dumbledore. He forced me to torture people. I had to watch him kill people and feed them to that horrible snake of his. I still have nightmares. I probably needed a mind healer more than anyone else after the war; except for you."
Harry couldn't even be offended by the "except for you" part of Malfoy's speech, because he was too busy feeling shocked by the admissions the blond had made. He looked wary, defensive with his arms crossed; yet somehow still proud. And somehow that made Harry want him more than ever.
I have got to get rid of this ridiculous infatuation.
He nodded, looking away. "Okay."
"I'll talk to her. Except..." His heart sank as it occurred to him that he couldn't talk to her; not about everything. He closed his eyes, frustration overwhelming him.
"I can't talk to her about everything. I promised Dumbledore I wouldn't tell anyone except for Ron and Hermione."
"He made you take an Unbreakable Vow?"
"No, but... if I ever told anyone, they could use the information to become the next Voldemort. I can't risk it."
"Well, I can assure you that she would never do anything of the kind. She may be a pureblood, and she may have remained neutral during the war, but she's very glad that he's dead now. And if it makes you feel any better, you can add it into the Unbreakable Vow that she will never tell anyone that information; not under any circumstances, and that she will never use it to benefit herself or anyone other than yourself as needed for your healing."
Harry thought long and hard. He couldn't find any fault in Malfoy's plan, and while he didn't really see what harm it would do to leave the Horcruxes out of things, he knew that Hermione had been desperate to get him to agree to see a mind healer on the basis of what had happened in the Forbidden Forest alone. She had been right so often that he figured that since he was seeing a mind healer anyway, it would probably be a good idea to talk about it.
"I suppose I can do that," he said slowly, opening his eyes and meeting Malfoy's gaze. The blond looked relieved.
"Good." Malfoy nodded then motioned to the door. "Why don't we head up to the infirmary now?"
Harry shrugged. "Why not?" He followed his partner out of the study, letting him lead the way to the apparition point. He pretended to himself that he wasn't ogling the blond's arse on the way.
Malfoy spoke to the blonde mediwitch who greeted them in a flurry of French, complete with hand gestures. Harry lounged against the infirmary wall, trying not to feel useless, and trying not to be turned on by Malfoy's smooth baritone rolling out the foreign language. He was only marginally successful at either.
He refused to look at Malfoy, after the first few minutes of gaping at how goddamn attractive Malfoy was when his face and voice were animated like that, his arms making sweeping gestures and his grey eyes alight with enthusiasm. He didn't understand how he could have avoided realising just how incredibly alluring the blond was during the last year that they had been partners. Surely, even when he was straight and not under the influence of a spell gone wrong, he should have noticed that the blond was extremely attractive – from a strictly aesthetic point of view, that is. Not a sexual one.
Harry toyed with the sleeve of his robes and looked around the hospital wing. He had been a little surprised that the resort had its own hospital wing – surely there weren't that many witches and wizards who came here on vacation that fell ill – but Malfoy had explained that the sixth floor below held a series of duelling chambers, and the eighth above was a Quidditch pitch with a high, vaulted ceiling, charmed to mimic the outside sky. Suddenly, a large hospital wing made a lot more sense.
Malfoy had gone over the various amenities with him as they walked back to the apparition point. The fourth floor held an enormous swimming pool – which Harry was simultaneously desperate to use and to avoid; his own desire to go swimming aside, he couldn't squash the burning desire he felt to see Malfoy in swimwear, and just as desperately desired to avoid that situation at any cost. It would doubtless be immensely embarrassing and result in the blond discovering just how Harry's body reacted to his presence.
The third floor was the spa, as he already knew from earlier that day. The ninth was the dining hall, which Malfoy insisted they would visit after talking with the mediwitches. The tenth was a dance floor, which featured live entertainment and elegant, old-fashioned dancing in one of the two rooms, and modern club music in the other. The first floor held the reception area with the floos and check-in counter, and the rest of it was devoted to a series of small shops.
The second floor – theirs – and the eleventh were the only two equipped with suites.
It was one thing to guess that the resort was incredibly huge and posh; it was another thing to be told just how exclusive and luxurious the place actually was. Harry felt completely overwhelmed, uncomfortable, and utterly out of his depth.
The infirmary here looked much the same as the hospital wing at Hogwarts, and that was somewhat comforting. It allowed him the illusion of familiarity in a strange place. He hadn't been here long, and already he was getting annoyed by his inability to communicate with anyone other than Draco. He didn't remember whether the clerk at the check-in had spoken French or English, and while he wondered whether any of the employees there were bilingual, he hadn't had the opportunity so far to find out.
"Monsieur Potter?" A polite, accented voice broke into his reverie, and he looked up, blinking.
"Yes?" He mentally slapped himself. "Uhm, I don't understand French, or speak it. Sorry. At least, not well." Then, giving himself another mental slap, reiterated, "Je suis désolé, mon français n'est pas très bon. Parlez-vous anglais?"
The mediwitch shook her head and smiled. "Zat eez alright, Monsieur Potter. Eef my accent does not bozzer you, we may speak een English."
Harry almost sighed in relief. "It doesn't bother me at all. I'm grateful to be able to talk to someone besides Malfoy. No offense," he added, glancing at his partner.
Malfoy smirked and replied, "None taken. I understand what you mean."
"I just 'ave a few questions for you," the mediwitch continued. "Can you tell me what zees side effects are?"
Harry's jaw tightened. "I'm sorry," he said rather stiffly. "I'm afraid that they're rather embarrassing and personal." Malfoy looked away, feigning disinterest.
The mediwitch raised a brow. "Eef you would like Monsieur Malfoy to leave while we speak-"
"No; I'm very sorry, but I'm not willing to tell you whether he's here or not. Just, if there are any side effects at all that you know of or can discover, that would be very helpful."
The mediwitch frowned disapprovingly. "I cannot 'elp you eef I do not know what to look for, Monsieur Potter."
He forced himself not to glare at her. "If you just look into whether or not there are any side effects, that would be helpful. If you know of anything, or discover anything, then maybe I'll be willing to talk more about it. Until then, I'd prefer to keep it to myself."
"But eef it eez dangerous-"
"It's not dangerous."
Except to my sanity, he added mentally, as the sight of Malfoy rolling his shoulders made his mouth try up and his trousers tighten.
The mediwitch looked unconvinced. "Eef you change your mind..."
"You'll be the first to know," Harry promised her. "Madam...?"
"My name eez 'Ealer Moreau." She fixed him with one last glare that reminded him of Madam Pomfrey. "You 'ad better come 'ere straight away eef anysing changes."
Harry nodded. "I will."
She huffed and, bidding Malfoy farewell, bustled away.
"Good job," Malfoy grinned at him, and Harry's heart almost stopped; because Malfoy leaning against the wall opposite like that in such a casually elegant way, while grinning lopsidedly and displaying a dimple Harry'd never known he had, was wreaking havoc on his composure.
"What?" he asked weakly. He was afraid to step away from the wall. For all he knew, his legs might give out. He wouldn't put it past them to betray him as well; not now that the rest of his body had declared mutiny.
Malfoy jerked his head in Healer Moreau's direction. "Helene is scary when she gets going. You didn't let her intimidate you. I don't know whether to be concerned or impressed." He gave another cheeky grin, and Harry felt his insides turn into a giant puddle of goo.
"Oh. Er, thanks." He flushed deeply, wishing he were more eloquent. His stomach chose that moment to make itself known rather suddenly, insistently, and obviously. He flushed so deeply he almost worried that he was in danger of spontaneous combustion.
Malfoy smothered a laugh. "Let's head to the dining hall, Potter. I can take a hint."
Face burning with shame, Harry followed Malfoy back to the apparition point.
Harry stared at the ceiling in his room. He'd slept well, though he woke early in spite of having a late night – an ingrained habit by now. Between his late wake-up yesterday, the spa, his research, and the subsequent trip to the hospital wing followed by dinner, he and Malfoy had been up into the early hours of the morning.
Despite the fact that Malfoy had (admittedly apologetically) informed him he'd be getting a wake-up call, the blond hadn't showed up yet.
His head swirled with the memories of the night before. They'd chatted over dinner, and Harry was amazed at how comfortable and at ease he felt around Malfoy – when he wasn't feeling overwhelming lust.
Malfoy had changed a lot since their Hogwarts days. He'd grown as a person to an incredible degree. He surprised Harry in many different ways – all of them positive. He was startled to realise he genuinely liked his partner.
Oh, he was still Malfoy – snarky, sarcastic, proud, a little arrogant and sometimes rude. But he was more good natured about it than he'd once been. His sarcastic snark was now more of a biting wit that had Harry in peals of laughter. His pride and arrogance were toned down enough to be bearable – even a little humorous. And he wasn't rude enough to be truly annoying.
Harry had enjoyed Malfoy's company, and had more fun than he'd had in a very, very long time – since before the Battle of Hogwarts. He couldn't remember the last time he'd enjoyed himself so much. It was the best evening he could remember for ages.
They'd talked about everything and nothing, and the evening had ended far too soon for Harry's taste.
None of this boded well for Harry's little crush.
Apparently, his dreams last night had agreed with that sentiment. Harry flushed at the erotic memories and glanced down at himself before casting a wandless cleaning charm.
Great. Just what I needed.
He groaned and turned over to bury his face in the pillow. "Get a grip, Harry," he muttered.
There was a knock at his door, and he remembered his wake-up call, and the impending appointment with the mind healer. He nearly forgot about his problem in the sudden surge of panic that welled up inside of him.
The door opened and he heard Malfoy's voice. "Potter? I'm really sorry about this, but you need to get up now."
Harry peered out from the blankets, eyeing the blond wizard who stood over by his hot tub. Malfoy look gorgeous in black silk pajamas, his hair slightly mussed from sleep. Even though he looked as tired as Harry felt, he was still devastating. As he looked Harry over, his lips twitched.
"You look like a turtle. A turtle with dreadful hair."
Harry scowled and Malfoy laughed.
"A very adorable turtle with dreadful hair," he amended, eyes twinkling.
Harry fought the warring emotions to blush and preen at being called adorable by Malfoy, even in jest, and to flush with the humiliation of being witnessed in such a state by the current object of his fantasies, complete with teasing. He buried his head under the covers again and groaned loudly.
Malfoy cleared his throat. "Much as I would like to let you have a lie in, Potter, Healer Jenkins will be arriving in two hours, and you need to get up, get ready, and eat before you see her. So you'll have to get up now; even if I have to pull the covers off you and drag you out of bed by your horrible hair."
Harry harrumphed and pulled his blankets closer. There was a moment of silence, and Harry hoped it meant that Malfoy had left to take care of his morning abolitions before returning to force Harry to prepare to meet the healer. He should have known that his luck was not that good.
"Can't say I didn't warn you," came Malfoy's voice from disturbingly close.
That was all the warning he got before his covers were unceremoniously yanked aside. Malfoy seized his arm and jerked him into a sitting position. The air was cool on his bare torso and he yelped in surprise.
The two of them glared at one another for a few moments before Malfoy's lips began twitching again, and Harry found himself struggling not to laugh.
The sight of Malfoy with tousled hair and rumpled pajamas was such a departure from his usual state – though if anything it made him look even more attractive than usual, damn him – that Harry couldn't help but find it amusing. The normally frigid glare he possessed looked so adorable on him at the moment – like an angry kitten that believes itself to be a lion cub – that he wanted to laugh out loud.
He and Malfoy began snickering, before giving in and laughing boisterously.
"Oh, Merlin! Malfoy; your hair!"
Malfoy snorted. "My hair? Potter, your hair has not only developed a life of its own; it seems to have reproduced and developed its own climate!"
Harry laughed louder, even as he blushed. He'd been told by Hermione during the Horcrux hunt that his bed-head was a sight to behold. He couldn't deny that what Malfoy said was true.
Malfoy suddenly stopped laughing and his eyes widened. "Wait; my hair?" A look of horror passed over his face and he reached up a hand to touch it. He looked around wildly, as if willing a mirror to appear, panic written all over his face. He made as though to dash to Harry's bathroom, and without thinking Harry's hand darted out to seize his arm.
"Malfoy; it's fine. Trust me; the just-rolled-out-of-bed look suits you."
Malfoy calmed down, looking at Harry hopefully. "You think so?"
Harry cleared his throat, trying not to blush too hard. "Er, yeah. It's very..." He didn't know quite what to say. He didn't want to use any of the adjectives that immediately sprang to mind – attractive, alluring, enticing – because he didn't want Malfoy to think he was gay. And he definitely didn't want his partner knowing that he found him desirable.
"Very...?" Malfoy looked equal parts apprehensive and hopeful, and the look just suited him so well that Harry spoke without thinking, again.
"Sexy." He winced as soon as the words were out of his mouth, while Malfoy gaped in astonishment at him. He rushed to salvage his dignity. "I mean; if any woman saw you, she'd probably be drooling. You lucky sod." He aimed a half-hearted swing at Malfoy's shoulder, which didn't work very well, seeing as he was still too far up on the bed to reach properly.
Malfoy's expression dissolved into one of pleasure. "You think so?" He sounded so hopeful, and he looked so pleased, Harry found himself nodding against his will.
Malfoy beamed at him, and Harry willed his face not to redden with all his might. It seemed that no matter what expression Malfoy wore, it instantly became Harry's favourite. He cleared his throat and released Malfoy's arm.
"Maybe I should wear my hair like this all the time," the blond mused.
"No!" Malfoy's expression morphed into one of confusion, and Harry hastily added, "I don't really think that's such a good idea."
Malfoy tilted his head. "Why not? I thought you said-"
"It suits you; yeah. When you're in your pajamas, that is. But maybe you'll want to keep the just-shagged look for when you have some lovely girl in your bed, yeah?"
Malfoy turned bright red, and his face fell a little. "Oh. Yeah. Right." He looked away. "I just figured since you said it suited me and since the look works so well for you, maybe I could pull it off, too." He seemed embarrassed, and crossed his arms over his chest.
Harry felt a little guilty, since part of his reluctance to have Malfoy wearing his hair that way regularly stemmed from the desire to keep his raging libido under control. He blushed at the hidden compliment Malfoy had just paid him, and wondered if it was intentional. He took pity on his partner, and tried to come up with an explanation.
"Uhm, thank you. But I really can't do anything about my hair; you can. Not only that, but I'm a much more rumpled, casual person than you are. Messy hair goes with who I am and how I dress. You're very put-together. Well-groomed. Uhm, sophisticated? In your pajamas, or if you were in casual clothes, the messy hair is nice. But when you're dressed like usual? It would look out of place."
Harry stared at his legs, well aware that he was blushing furiously. He picked at a non-existent piece of lint on his sheet. "S'what I think, anyway," he mumbled.
"Thank you, Harry."
Harry's head jerked up in shock and he stared at Malfoy, open-mouthed. Malfoy wore a soft smile, and there was an indefinable look in his eyes that made his insides flutter and squirm with pleasure. Harry tore his gaze away and cleared his throat.
"Uhm. You're, er, welcome. I think." He wasn't exactly sure what Malfoy was thanking him for, and he desperately hoped the blond would leave soon and let him get himself under control before he did something they would both regret.
Like kiss Malfoy.
"Well, now that I see you're up, I'll leave you to get dressed. I'll be in my rooms, getting ready. I think I probably take longer than you do – being so sophisticated and all-" There was amusement in Malfoy's voice, and Harry's blush was back with a vengeance. "-So I'll knock when I'm ready. While you wait, why don't you draft that letter to Granger, since we didn't get a chance to go to the owlry last night?"
Harry nodded, still staring at the floor. He didn't look up until he heard the door close behind Malfoy.
"Oh 'Mione," he whispered. "I really need your help."
He dressed hurriedly, then went into the study and rummaged through the desk for parchment and a quill. He sat down and struggled to decide what to say.
I know I'm supposed to be relaxing on this holiday – and believe me, I'm trying – but I really need your help researching something.
See, Malfoy cast Soporificus on me the first night, and ever since I woke up I've been struggling with some very embarrassing and uncomfortable side effects. We're trying to figure out what went wrong, since that's the only spell he cast on me and I hadn't taken any potions or anything before it started, but we have limited resources here and your help would be invaluable.
I really don't want to talk about what the side effects are; so can you just search to see if you can find anything that could possibly go wrong with that spell?
I really, really appreciate it.
I miss you and Ron. I know I haven't been a very good friend lately; I've been keeping myself so busy I haven't had any time for you guys. When I get back, I'll try to change that. You two are too important to me for me to let you fade out of my life.
I think you'll be happy to hear that I'm going to be seeing a mind healer. Malfoy believes that I need to talk to someone. Since I can't come back until he says I'm better, I don't really have much choice. And since you've been at me to see one for ages, I figured that it's probably a good idea.
She's going to take a couple of unbreakable vows that will bind her to complete secrecy and prevent her from using the information about the Horcruxes in any way. I'll be able to tell her everything that way.
I love you. You're my best friend and my sister. I hope you know that.
Harry stared at the parchment before rolling it up and sealing it. He sat back for a moment, then reached back into the desk and pulled out a few more pieces of parchment.
I've been a complete and utter prat. You and your family have gone through so much since the final battle, and I haven't been there for any of you.
Yet you've stayed my friend, no matter how inconsiderate and selfish I've been.
I'm trying to get better. I won't make any promises I can't keep; for all I know as soon as I get back I could slide right back into the way I was before I left, but I promise to try. Both while I'm here and when I come home.
You're the best best mate a guy could ask for, and I hope you know that.
You're my brother, in all but blood.
Harry drafted up a letter to Ginny, apologizing for the way he ended things with her, and explaining that he was too broken to be with anyone, but he would always value her as a sister, and hoped that in time she could see him as another brother.
He wrote to Molly and Arthur, apologizing for not being with them as they struggled to cope with the aftermath of the war, and the loss of part of their family. He told them they were the closest thing to parents he'd ever had, and how much he regretted not being more like a son to them in the hardest time of their lives.
He wrote to George, asking him how he was doing, apologizing for not being around more. He asked about the shop and the new products. He offered his help after he returned to Britain.
He wrote to Percy, telling him how proud he was of the way he'd humbled himself enough to come back to his family and fight with them in the final battle, and for giving up his beloved Ministry job to work with George at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. He told him how much he admired him for giving up his dream to help his brother survive the loss of his twin.
He wrote Neville, Luna, Bill, and Charlie; asking after their lives and offering apologies for being absent. After finishing them and rolling them all up, he took a deep breath and started on his last piece of parchment.
I know you're probably angry with me for not being there for you and Teddy. I'm his godfather, and I've left you all alone to deal with your grief and to care for a baby. It's inexcusable and I'm so very sorry.
I've been so horrible and selfish; I understand if you can't forgive me. But if you're willing to give me another chance, I want to try to be there for both of you. I want to be a part of Teddy's life. I want to be for him what Sirius wanted to be for me but never had the chance to be.
I've been forced to take a holiday for my health, and having the time to think without the distraction of constant work has made me face a few ugly truths about myself.
How are you? You've suffered so much. The last time we spoke – almost a year ago now – you told me you wanted to try to reconcile with Narcissa, since she and her son are the only family you have left besides Teddy. Have you been able to do that?
I don't know if you know or not, but Draco Malfoy – your nephew – is my Auror partner. He's changed a great deal in the aftermath of the war, and he's actually become a good person. Even if you haven't been able to reconcile with Narcissa, I'm sure that he would be happy to get to know you and Teddy.
He's actually in charge of my recovery right now, and he's insisted I see a mind healer. Hopefully it helps me get over the issues that have held me back from being there for the people who matter to me.
You're family to me. You and Teddy both. I can't tell you how sorry I am that I haven't treated you that way, and I hope you're willing to let me make it up to you.
If you're willing, I'll come and see you as soon as I get back to London. I'll visit you two even before Ron and Hermione.
Take care until then,
Harry rolled up and sealed that last letter, then sat in the chair with his head bowed. His heart ached and he felt deeply ashamed and confused. He knew that he shouldn't have been neglecting the people that were important to him, but he also knew that he needed to pour all of his effort into it if he was going to help round up the remaining death eaters and keep his loved ones safe. That if he was going to atone for the lives he hadn't saved, he needed to do everything in his power to take down evil. He had no idea how he was supposed to balance the two.
He closed his eyes and waited for Malfoy's knock, swimming in guilt and helplessness.
Chapter 3: Healing Holiday
Harry meets the Mind-Healer.
Chapter Three: Healing Holiday
Disclaimer: Having written 37 fanfiction stories (36 for HP) with a total of 87 chapters, and a disclaimer in each chapter, I am running out of ways to convince you people that I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, J.K. Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter universe.
Me: For Merlin's sake, I'm not even blonde.
Hermione: Honestly, Ronald.
Ron: *sulkily* Well you'd never know you're not blonde with the way you act...
Me: Shut up. *glares* Why on earth are you two here? I want Harry and Draco!
Hermione: *coughs* Harry and Malfoy are... ah... indisposed... at the moment...
Ron: *morosely* She means they're shagging in my dorm. That's why I'm here, not there. Hermione's just hanging out here in the library cause she's a SWOT.
Hermione: *hits him*
Me: *brightens* Well, in that case... *leans forward and whispers conspiratorially* How do I get to your dorm?
Ron and Hermione: ...
A/N: *coughs* I didn't do one of those "author has an imaginary conversation with the characters" things; what are you talking about... .
I'm bouncing back from a bout of depression/anxiety that really caught me off guard, worsened my writer's block, and has put me behind for finals. Updates will be intermittent until I'm done for the semester.
Healer Jamie Venestus is a shout-out to Venestus Loves James. :) Love ya, girl! Drarry on!
Sometimes life can knock you down
Just gotta pick your ass up off the ground
Probably don't matter anyway
'Cause in the end it's gonna be ok
Because life's a holiday
Don't wanna go and work harder
Just to keep my head above water
And tomorrow's another day
'Cause I know that we'll be ok
'Cause life's a holiday
Unwritten Law - Holiday
Harry's eyes flew open and he jumped, startled. "Malfoy! Merlin; warn a bloke!"
Malfoy was regarding him rather coolly from where he lounged against the doorframe of the study. He was dressed in black slacks and a dove grey jumper that brought out his eyes. Eyes which were currently narrowed in disapproval at Harry.
Harry squirmed uneasily. "What is it?"
Malfoy crossed his arms. "What the hell were you doing in here, Potter?"
Harry glared. "I just wrote to Hermione like you told me to!" He gestured at the pile of scrolls, then flushed as he realised how many of them there were. He coughed and looked away. "I, ah, thought I'd write to a few other people, too. I may have gotten a tad carried away."
Malfoy coughed, sounding suspiciously like he was trying to cover up a laugh. "So I see." His expression became stern again. "And just how did that lead to you looking like you had just returned from a funeral when I walked in?"
Harry toed the carpet, wondering how Malfoy could make him feel like a delinquent toddler. "I just... realised how much I've let everyone down. I haven't been there for anyone. Not even," he paused and swallowed. "Not even Teddy," he finished softly.
He stared at his feet. "That was the hardest letter to write; the one to Andromeda. I only hope she accepts my apology."
"One thing I've learned about my aunt is that she's a very forgiving person, Potter," Malfoy said quietly.
Harry looked up, eyebrows raised. "You've met her, then?"
Malfoy nodded. "Mother and I have a weekly tea date with her and young Edward."
"You never told me!"
"You never asked." Malfoy's gaze softened. "In case you've forgotten, you and I were still on "Hex first, ask later" terms before this trip started."
"You mean I was." Harry looked away again. "I was... a prat to you, I admit. You were far more patient and generous with me than I had any right to expect."
Malfoy let out a disbelieving snort. "Potter, you've been dealing with your issues from the war. We all understand that – and by that I mean everyone in your life, not just me. That doesn't excuse you being a prat, but it does explain it and make everyone more patient. And as for me... I deserve everything you've said and done and more."
Harry's eyes widened. "Malfoy..." he paused. "Why would you say that? You've been a good partner to me, and I've been horrid."
Malfoy looked away, sadness darkening his features. "You know what I've done, Potter," he said quietly. "You know very well what's on my left arm. As much as I want your forgiveness, I understand why you can't give it."
Harry felt terribly guilty. "Malfoy, the only reason I was a prat to you was because I was being a prat to everyone. You didn't deserve it, and I've already forgiven you for the things you did. Will you forgive me for being a rubbish partner?"
Malfoy turned back to him, eyes wide. He stared for a moment. "You're serious." His tone was incredulous, disbelieving.
Harry raised a brow. "Of course! You being an excellent partner aside; you've gone out of your way to help me on this holiday. I owe you, Malfoy."
Malfoy smiled, and the brilliance of it nearly blinded Harry. The contrast with his earlier miserable expression was similar to the sun bursting out from behind dark clouds. It was awe-inspiring, and Harry felt desperately and pathetically drawn to it. It was all he could do not to leap up and snog Malfoy, so he settled for staring dumbly at him.
"If you owe me," Malfoy started to say, then hesitated.
"Yes?" Harry was a trifle breathless.
"You could call me Draco." Malfoy gave him a nervous smile.
"Draco." The name felt foreign on Harry's tongue, but it also felt like something he would love getting used to.
Malfoy gave him another brilliant smile. "Just like that," he murmured.
"I guess you should call me Harry, then, Mal- Draco."
Malfoy beamed. "Harry." His name was spoken with such reverence it made him blush.
Malfoy turned and headed out the door. "Well, Harry, it's time we got moving. If you want to stop at the Owlry before breakfast, we're going to need to hurry," he called over his shoulder.
Harry smiled weakly, before heaving himself out of the comfortable chair where he'd taken up residence and following Malfoy – Draco – out of the study.
"So, why does your family have its own Mind Healer?" Harry couldn't help asking the question as he and Draco strode towards the Apparition point. "It just seems a little unusual."
Draco nodded, biting his lip. "It is." He paused. "You've heard of the madness of the Blacks?"
Harry nodded. He vaguely remembered Sirius mentioning something about it.
"Well, it's not just a rumour. There's been a tendency towards madness in the Black family for generations. It's simply become common practice to employ a Mind Healer for the family as well as a regular Healer. Our Mind Healer doesn't look her age, but she's been with the family since before I was born."
"Oh." Harry took a moment to digest that information. He wondered if Draco would succumb to madness eventually, and found that idea rather painful. He shoved that thought away to deal with later. Or never.
"Aunt Bella went mad, you know. Azkaban worsened it, but she started going mad while she was about our age." Draco paused. "I know all you know of her is horrid – I don't know her any better, myself – but she used to be a rather lovely person, according to mother. She was mother's best friend when they were children, and it broke mother's heart when her mind started to go."
It was hard for Harry to think that Bellatrix Lestrange had ever been anything but a mad, evil woman, but he wondered now if there was any truth to Draco's words. It made him rather sad to think that there might be.
Draco led him into a room that was comfortably furnished like a small sitting room. The decor was chocolate-brown and royal blue. There were some comfortable chairs and a small coffee table, as well as some shelves with ornamental trinkets on them. It looked warm and inviting.
"This is Healer Venestus."
Draco gestured to a petite woman with long brown hair. She was pretty, yet professional in dark navy robes. While she wasn't dressed like a Healer, Harry figured that that was due to being out of the office and in a foreign country. There was an air about her that immediately put Harry at ease. He still felt uncomfortable about opening up to her, however.
Healer Venestus bowed her head. "Mr. Potter," she said with a small smile. "It's a pleasure to meet you."
Harry nodded back. "The same to you, Healer Venestus."
She smiled. "Please; call me Jamie."
"Call me Harry." Harry couldn't help returning her smile. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Draco frowning, but chose to ignore that. He couldn't afford to pay any more attention to Draco than he already was.
"I trust Draco told you how this works?"
Harry nodded. "If you mean the Unbreakable Vow, yes. There's actually a second Unbreakable Vow I'd like you to take, if you're willing. I'll tell you why after you take the first one."
Jamie's eyebrows lifted, but she made no comment. "Shall we get started, then?"
Draco stepped forward and raised his wand. He spoke the words binding the Healer to secrecy, and once she and Harry completed the ritual, he felt marginally better about the idea of talking to her.
"I'd like you to take a second Vow, if you're willing," Harry said, feeling a trifle nervous. "One never to reveal how I was able to defeat Voldemort to anyone, and never to use the information for your own benefit or that of anyone else. To never use or speak of Voldemort's method of gaining immortality for your own sake or anyone else's."
Both she and Draco looked rather startled. "Immortality?" queried Draco.
Harry nodded. "Voldemort was immortal. That's why I had to wait a year to face him; I had to end his method of immortality without him finding out what I was doing."
He looked away. "I'm sure that you wouldn't reveal it anyway; but I promised Dumbledore I'd never tell anyone except Ron and Hermione. Hermione's told me lots of times since I killed Voldemort that she thinks I need to talk about it to someone, because of... what I had to do. She thinks it... damaged me." He flushed. "So I think I should listen to her and tell you. But I have to ask for the Vow, because of my promise to Dumbledore."
"What you had to do?" Draco sounded entirely too curious for his own good, so Harry decided to shut him up. He turned and met Draco's eyes.
"I had to die." The words felt strange on Harry's tongue. He'd only ever said them once before, to Ron and Hermione. For some reason he felt driven to explain, once he'd started. "I didn't survive the killing curse in the Forbidden Forest." Both Draco and Jamie were staring at him wide-eyed. "I was able to come back because of... something I can't explain, without that second Vow. But I didn't know that I'd be able to come back when I went into the Forest. And I went into the Forest to die, because it was the only way to kill him. My soul had to leave my body."
Harry looked away again. "It wasn't horrible, you know," he said quietly. "It was so peaceful. I almost wished I didn't have to come back. But he wasn't dead yet, and I couldn't let myself stay there when I could come back and finish him off. Even though I was given a choice... it really wasn't a choice."
Both Draco and Jamie looked shocked and a little sad. There was compassion in Jamie's eyes as she said, "I understand. I'll take the Vow."
Draco served as their bonder again, and Harry was grateful when it was over. Then he was suddenly nervous, because now Draco was going to leave and he was going to have to talk to the Healer.
"This is where I take my leave." Draco smiled at him, and he gave a weak smile back. He ran his fingers through his hair.
"I guess I'll see you later, then." Harry tried not to sound as miserable as he felt. From the way Draco quirked an eyebrow at him before he left, he had a feeling he hadn't succeeded.
"Do you want to sit down?"
Jamie motioned towards the chairs. Harry shook his head. "I'd rather stand right now, if that's alright."
She smiled warmly. "That's perfectly fine, Harry. We'll go at your pace, and I'll help you as well as I can."
Harry wandered over to the book shelf, eyeing the trinkets. He wondered if he was supposed to start.
"How have you been feeling, Harry?"
Harry jumped. "Er, fine?"
"Since the war," Jamie prodded softly. "How have you been holding up?"
Harry scowled at the shelf. "I've been fine."He huffed. "I'm working as hard as I can to try to make the sacrifices of the people who died worthwhile, is all; people don't seem to understand that!"
"Is that why you've been working so hard?"
Harry turned to look at her, rolling his eyes. "Of course! I have to make up for their sacrifices!"
"Do you really think that, Harry? That you can make up for anyone's sacrifice?"
"Of course not!" Harry shouted. "But I have to try, don't I?"
"Because it's my fault!"
Harry stood facing her, fists clenched at his sides, breathing shallowly. "It's my fault," he whispered.
She reached out and touched his arm. "And why do you believe that, Harry?"
He clenched his jaw. "I should have killed him sooner. I should have been faster, smarter, stronger..." He swallowed around the lump in his throat. "I should have killed him sooner. I failed them." He closed his eyes.
"So why didn't you?"
Harry opened his eyes, blinking at her in confusion. "Why didn't I kill him sooner?"
She nodded. There was no judgement in her eyes, only a desire to understand.
Harry swallowed again. He wasn't used to this. People – that is, Hermione and Ron – who had heard him say that simply rushed to assure him that it wasn't his fault, and that he couldn't have done anything differently, etc.
He had assumed a Mind Healer would do the same. But she wasn't doing that, and Harry found it refreshing, even as it somehow also hurt for some unfathomable reason.
"I had to destroy all his Horcruxes before I could," he said quietly. "And I wasn't smart or strong or fast enough to find them all sooner."
"What's a Horcrux?"
"Very Dark magic." Harry turned away. "A Horcrux is created by storing a piece of your soul in an object using a murder as the catalyst. It's one of the Darkest forms of magic in existence, so Dark that few have ever dared to use it; even though it gives the maker of the Horcrux immortality. Voldemort made seven."
She was silent a few moments. "I see."
He nodded, absently fingering one of the trinkets on the shelf; a little silver Hungarian Horntail. "We had to figure out what the objects he used were, where he'd hidden them, and what protections we'd have to overcome to retrieve them. Then we had to destroy them – which is harder than it sounds, since there are very few ways to destroy a Horcrux. Fiendfyre, Basilisk venom... like I said; it's very difficult to do."
There was silence for a moment. At Harry's touch, the little dragon had woken up, shaking its head and blinking its eyes blearily. Harry couldn't help admiring it, any more than he could help noticing that it was the same colour as Draco's eyes. It yawned, and Harry smiled faintly. The little guy was really cute.
Then it launched itself into the air, flapping its wings and circling around Harry's head. His smile grew as he craned his neck to watch it.
"So, these Horcruxes are what the late Headmaster made you promise never to tell anyone about?"
Harry nodded absently, his attention focused on the little dragon.
"There was his diary, the Gaunt family ring, a locket that belonged to Salazar Slytherin, a cup that belonged to Helga Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw's lost diadem, and his snake, Nagini.
He reached out and stroked the little dragon's scales, and he flew closer and nuzzled Harry's cheek with his tiny snout.
"You said he made seven, but you only mentioned six," Jamie pointed out.
Harry's smile faded, and even the little dragon butting his head against the side of Harry's face couldn't revive it. He wrapped his arms around himself protectively.
"He only made six intentionally. During the Battle of Hogwarts I found out... I found out that when he cast the Killing Curse on me as a baby and it rebounded, he accidentally made me his seventh Horcrux."
Harry stared at the wall without seeing it. He spoke mechanically. "I had to die before he could."
He turned his attention back to the little dragon, wondering absently why it was so hard to talk about this stuff. It wasn't that it hurt, or anything. But it made him feel somehow vulnerable and he didn't like it.
He stroked its back while it sulked at him, clearly not pleased to have been ignored before. He grinned. "I'm gonna call you Little Malfoy."
The little dragon snorted at him and butted his chin again, forgiven.
"So you died to save everyone, then."
Harry stiffened slightly. He nodded, and continued playing with Little Malfoy.
"How did you find out about the Horcruxes, Harry? You said Headmaster Dumbledore told you?"
Harry nodded. "I destroyed the diary at the end of my second year – that was what was behind that whole mess with the Chamber of Secrets. Hearing my account of it was what made Dumbledore suspect Horcruxes, and he began searching for more. He found one the summer after my fifth year, and destroyed it – but there was a curse on it that meant he was dying. I don't know if you heard about my testimony at Malfoy's – Draco's – trial or not, but that was why he was already dying."
He ran a hand through his hair. "He figured out where another one was at the end of sixth year, and we had just come back from trying to retrieve it when he died." Harry shook his head. "Of course, it turned out that what we thought was a Horcrux was a fake; a decoy. The real one had been moved by a Death Eater turned traitor. But Dumbledore figured out what the Horcruxes were. He didn't know what heirloom of Ravenclaw's or of Hufflepuff's would be a Horcrux, only that it was likely some important artifact belonging to one of those Founders."
"So, let me understand this, Harry – over the course of four years, Professor Dumbledore; a powerful, intelligent wizard over a hundred and fifty years old, found out two Horcruxes. You, a seventeen year old wizard who hadn't even written your NEWTs yet, found and destroyed the remaining four Horcruxes in one year."
Harry opened his mouth and closed it again, trying to find something to argue with. Nothing she'd said was technically incorrect, but it sounded wrong.
"I had help," he managed, finally.
"Yes; two other seventeen year olds who hadn't written their NEWTs yet, either."
"Harry," Jamie's tone was kind. "You somehow blame yourself for not being smart enough or strong enough or fast enough to end the war sooner – but if Dumbledore couldn't do it any faster, what makes you think that you should have been able to?"
Harry swallowed. He didn't know how to articulate what he felt.
"You have nothing to feel guilty about, Harry."
"Then why do I feel so ashamed?" He wasn't even conscious of speaking the words aloud.
"What do you feel ashamed of?"
"Surviving," Harry whispered. He stared at the ground again. "Why should I have got to come back, when no one else did?"
She was silent for a while. "Why don't you tell me how you came back? I want to be able to help you, but if I don't understand everything, it'll be hard for me to do that."
Harry shivered involuntarily. So far he'd been speaking more out of the desire for shock value and the sheer liberation of saying things out loud that he'd been sworn to secrecy about for so long, but he was beginning to feel cagey about revealing so much.
"You know about the Deathly Hallows, right?" He glanced at Jamie, and she nodded.
"The children's story?"
Harry absently petted Little Malfoy, reluctant to speak. He'd already shared so much, and didn't really feel any better at all – in fact, he almost felt worse. But he heaved a sigh and forced himself to continue sharing.
"They're not just a story. Ignotius Peverell was my ancestor; he passed the Invisibility Cloak down through the generations, to me. I'm also the Master of the Elder Wand, and the Keeper of the Resurrection Stone. I'm the Master of Death." He made air quotes as he gave himself the title; it made him feel a little less ridiculous.
"Because there were two souls in my body when Voldemort cast that second killing curse on me, and because I'm the Master of Death... I was given the choice to move on or come back." He shrugged. "That's all."
He glanced up, and noticed Jamie was staring at him, wide-eyed. "You do realise what an absolutely astonishing person you are, right, Harry?" she asked.
He flushed. "I'm not; not really. I'm just an ordinary bloke. I just did what I had to do."
She shook her head. "Harry... think about it, for a moment. You and your friends found and destroyed all those Horcruxes in just a year. Then you willingly chose to die to save everyone, and because you somehow became the Master of Death – something most witches and wizards have always believed to be a mere children's story – you chose to come back to life to defeat You-Know-Who. Harry... you're anything but ordinary."
He flushed and scowled. He'd thought she was different; someone who wouldn't fawn over him.
"Harry," she said again, voice gentle. "I don't mean that in a bad way. I don't mean that in the way that you're the Saviour of the wizarding world, either – but that you're an amazing individual, with great strength of character."
"I'm lucky," Harry insisted. "Not smart, or clever, or powerful; or anything really. Just very lucky."
She chuckled. "Even if it is only luck; it's more luck than anyone I've ever met has ever had before – more luck than I've ever heard of anyone having before."
Harry flushed. Little Malfoy head butted him, trying to get his attention again. Harry smiled and returned to his petting and stroking of the little figurine. He was already feeling regretful about the end of the session, when the little dragon would have to be spelled back to sleep again.
Toy or not, Harry was growing fond of him.
Jamie sighed. "Harry, I'm not trying to convince you that you're anything like the hero the Prophet is always trumpeting you as being. I just want you to understand that you have no reason to feel guilty for anything. As a neutral party, not one of your friends or enemies, someone who knows everything you can't tell anyone else... I want you to believe that, if nothing else."
Harry stared at Little Malfoy, stroking the little dragon's head, struggling with the warring emotions within. "I guess I'm just pretty messed up, then," he said softly.
She gave him an encouraging smile. "Admitting you have a problem is the first step towards fixing it, though."
He shot her a grateful look. "You sound like Hermione, sometimes."
She grinned. "I think I'd like your friend Hermione," she declared, and Harry laughed.
"Let's have some tea, Harry," she said, gesturing to the small coffee table, where a tea service appeared when she waved her wand. He felt just a little lighter as he moved to sit down across from her.
"So how was it?"
Harry jumped. He and Jamie had just finished bidding one other goodbye, and she had informed him that she would be coming back every morning to meet with him until she felt comfortable dialing back their appointments somewhat. He was still smiling as he watched her walk away when Draco's voice startled him.
He turned and gave Draco a sheepish smile. "It wasn't too bad. She's quite lovely. I didn't really enjoy opening up very much, but she was very understanding and didn't push me too much. We had tea and I made a new friend." He reached up and stroked his dragon's tiny snout. "Draco, meet Little Malfoy."
Draco's brows shot up and he let out a disbelieving snort. "Little Malfoy?"
Harry grinned at him cheekily. "He's got quite the attitude when he's ignored," he informed his partner, snickering. "Besides," he added, his voice softened as the little dragon nuzzled his cheek. "He's the same colour as your eyes."
Draco's eyes widened and he flushed. He looked away and coughed. "Potter, you do realise it's just a toy, right?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "See what I mean?" he asked Little Malfoy. "The two of you have loads in common. I bet you'll get along famously."
Little Malfoy lit upon his shoulder, curling up and nuzzling into Harry's neck contentedly.
"Except you're cuter," he told the little dragon with an unhealthy degree of fondness in his tone.
He shot Draco a glare. "I'm keeping him, Malfoy." He jutted his chin out stubbornly. "Tell me how much you want for him. But I'm not putting him back to sleep."
Draco looked stunned. Then his lips twitched and he looked like he was trying not to laugh.
"How's this," he bargained. "You put him back – for now –" he cut in when Harry opened his mouth to object. "You can play with him when you and Jamie have your sessions, and when it's time for us to go back to Britain, you can take him with you. Deal?"
Harry pursed his lips. He wanted to object, but he had to acknowledge that he technically didn't have a right to keep the little dragon, anyway. He nodded reluctantly.
Draco grinned. "Good. Now let's get that little guy put away, and we'll go have lunch. I booked the pitch for after, so you'd better eat enough to keep up your energy for a few Seeker's games."
Harry laughed, delighted. The idea of flying with Draco again was cathartic. The images his mind supplied them of Draco sweaty and flushed after a game or two of chasing the snitch made his trousers tighten and he groaned mentally.
"Alright, Draco," he sighed. "You're gonna have to show me how to put this little guy back to sleep."
Little Malfoy shot him a betrayed look and Harry tried not to acknowledge that a knickknack was guilt tripping him.
Draco threw back his head and laughed at the stricken look on his face. Harry stared in fascination at the pale lines of his neck, the way it curved and almost glowed with milky white perfection. He swallowed roughly.
Merlin, I am so fucked.
"Is that the best you can do, Potter?" Draco jeered.
Harry grinned and leaned flat on his broom, putting on a burst of speed and quickly passing the blond. Draco swore and sped up, trying to reclaim his lead.
Harry laughed and flew faster.
"You're all talk, Malfoy!" he called back. "But you haven't beat me yet!"
"That's it, Potter!" Draco snarled. "This means war!"
Harry burst out laughing again and dove sharply, pretending to spot the snitch. Draco was hot on his tail, practically foaming at the mouth in his eagerness to overtake him.
Spotting a little glint in the distance, Harry did an abrupt one-eighty and shot off towards the actual snitch, arm outstretched. He could hear Draco in the distance, swearing a blue streak and he struggled to catch up.
Harry cackled and leaned into the wind, reaching until he felt the soft fluttering wings of the snitch against his hand. He raised his arm, holding the snitch aloft as he crowed in triumph.
Draco glowered at him and he threw back his head and laughed. He felt lighter and freer and happier than he'd felt in so long.
"Who showed who, eh, Malfoy?" He beamed at Draco, then noticed the stunned expression on the blond's face.
Draco was breathing heavily, sweaty and flushed from exertion. His hair was wind-blown and the blond strands were plastered to his face. His eyes glowed dark silver. Harry felt the desire for him uncoil in his gut like a living thing, screaming for release.
He couldn't speak. Couldn't move. It was all he could do not to launch himself at the Slytherin. He felt dizzy from the force of sheer want that coursed through him. All he could do was stare and ache with every fiber of his being for Draco.
He couldn't even remember that he wasn't supposed to want this. That he was cursed and that that was the only reason he felt this way.
All he could think of was Malfoy, Malfoy, Malfoy. Draco. Draco, Draco, Draco.
"Alright there, Harry?"
Harry closed his eyes and forced himself to breathe. He forced a smile onto his face and opened them again.
"Yeah, Draco. Thanks for the game!"
Draco's answering smile lit his world.
So fucked. Oh, Merlin. I am so very, very fucked.
Harry was astonished when Draco didn't make him wait while he showered, but rather led the way back to their rooms where they could shower in privacy.
"Don't you want to shower here?"
Draco paused and arched a brow at him. "Do you want to shower here?"
Harry reddened. "Well, no... I'm er, not good with group showers."
Draco shrugged. "So we can head back to our rooms and shower there."
"You're okay with that?"
"Well, I don't want to make you wait around for me to shower. I can handle waiting till we get back. I'm not interested in making you uncomfortable for something that doesn't even matter to me." Draco gave him a crooked sort of smile, and Harry felt himself glow.
Draco just looked so... edible. His face was flushed from exertion, and his hair hung damp around his face, some of the strands plastered to his forehead and the nape of his neck. They looked more golden than white when they were wet. His shirt clung to him, and his trousers were just snug enough to outline his assets enticingly. The way he stood, looking so elegant, made the desire in Harry's gut flare.
Then there was the talk of showering, and Harry couldn't stop picturing Draco in the shower. Picturing that gorgeous body on display, his handsome face; hearing that incredible voice. He remembered it all vividly – every inch of Draco he'd seen, with water cascading over it – and it was all he could do to keep his knees from buckling.
His throat felt so dry, and he felt such intense need for Draco that he could have cried from sheer frustration. But he didn't. He gritted his teeth and forced it back, using every ounce of control he possessed to turn his head away from Draco and begin moving towards the Apparition point.
"Let's go then!" he snapped. He knew he should be grateful, but the sight of his partner, coupled with how thoughtful and considerate he was being, made it impossible for Harry to be nice to him right now. If he didn't plan on seizing the prat and doing unspeakable things to him, that is.
"Yes, why thank you, Draco. It's so nice of you to think of me!" Draco's sarcastic drawl reached his ears and made his face burn with embarrassment, at the same time as his trousers tightened. Draco started walking alongside him, matching his long stride to Harry's.
Harry cleared his throat, deliberately not looking Draco's way. "Uh, erm, thanks, Draco." He knew it was insufficient, and sighed. "I'm sorry; I just started thinking and got upset." That was true. There was no need to mention what he was thinking.
"About your session?" Draco's voice was both sympathetic and worried.
Harry coughed. "No, I, er..." He searched frantically for a safe topic. Damn this stupid spell! That gave him an idea and he rushed to use it. "I'm just frustrated because of that spell. I hope Hermione's gotten back to me already."
There. Nothing Draco could be suspicious about with that.
Draco stopped walking. "I'm sorry," he said in a small voice. "I wish I could take that spell back. You have no idea how much." He finished in a whisper, and Harry turned to look at him, feeling somewhat guilty that he'd made Draco feel bad after everything the blond had done for him.
"It's alright. You didn't do it on purpose. Please don't feel bad about it." He ached to comfort the blond. The sight of him looking so wretched made his gut twist. Draco shouldn't look like that. He should look as untamed and wild and happy as he'd appeared in the air.
Draco gave him a wan smile. "I can't help that."
Harry reached out without thinking. He trailed his fingers along the side of Draco's face. "Please," he said softly. "I don't want you to be unhappy."
Realising what he was doing as Draco's eyes grew wide, he snatched his hand back as though it had been burned. He whirled around and strode to the Apparition point as quickly as he could.
Because he moved so fast, he didn't see the way Draco's cheeks flushed or how he raised a hand to touch his face where Harry's fingers had been moments before. He missed the wide-eyed look of stunned disbelief and happiness on his partner's face as his lips parted in a small "Oh."
Harry entered the little foyer between his and Draco's rooms, and started towards his door when he noticed a letter sitting on the little table between their doors. His name was scrawled on it in familiar handwriting.
He lifted it curiously, before Draco walked in and glanced at him.
"The staff must've brought it in while we were flying," Draco offered.
Harry nodded, and headed into his room, almost forgetting to say goodbye. He turned. "I'll see you later, Draco. Oh, and, er... thanks for... for everything."
He blushed lightly, and noticed that Draco's cheeks were pink as well. Still flushed from flying. Why does he have to be so fucking beautiful?
"See you, Harry," Draco said softly, and damn if that voice didn't just roll across him like silk and make him shudder. He headed into his room right away, where he slumped across the door as soon as he'd closed it behind himself.
One more minute with him and I'd have lost control. I can barely help myself anymore.
Is it possible to want someone that much without being under the influence of a spell or a potion? I can't believe it is. It's like I'm starving and he's the only meal in existence.
He glanced down at the letter in his hand, where his name stood out in Hermione's flowing script. He opened it.
Of course I'll help you! What kind of friend do you take me for? Honestly.
I've never heard of anything like that, but I'll start researching right away. I have some free time right now, since things have slowed down at work. It would really help if I knew your symptoms. I understand that if it's personal, it might be embarrassing, but if I'm having trouble finding anything, you're going to have to tell me.
You know you can trust me, right?
I love you. You're my brother, and I'll love you no matter what.
I'll do my best to see what I can come up with, but I wanted to let you know that you need to be prepared to give me more information if I need it.
P.S. You have nothing to be sorry for. Understand? Absolutely nothing. I know how hard things have been for you, and I'm so glad you're getting help – because you deserve to be happy, and you haven't been. That's all I want for you, Harry – happiness.
Harry folded the letter and smiled. Even though his gut clenched at the thought of telling anyone about his obsession with Draco, he couldn't help feeling relieved that Hermione was going to help him.
Maybe things weren't so hopeless, after all.
Chapter 4: Hiatus Ending
Thank you all for commenting, subscribing, bookmarking, and leaving kudos!
When I came back to AO3 again and started looking over them it was humbling and overwhelming for me to see how much love my fics have been getting in spite of my absence.
(Seriously; I almost cried. You guys are amazing!)
I'm sorry there haven't been any updates in so long; however I intend to get one posted sometime in January, and continue the story after that.
(If this seems similar to a reply I left to your comment - sorry about that, too; I only just realised after I started copy-paste-posting this to reply to comments that I could just post it as an update and then all of the story subscribers would get it.)
I'm really sorry this story has been abandoned for so long; I had some severe health issues that stopped me from writing for a while. I didn't post anything about a hiatus; partly because it was very low on my list of priorities at the time, and partly because I didn't expect it to go on for so long. It ended up being a several-years-long hiatus without warning; making it seem like my stories were all abandoned.
While I've recently started writing again, I haven't been able to locate the USB that had all of my WIPs saved on it; which means that any scenes/partial chapters/etc. that I wrote out ahead of time have been lost. Which is very frustrating and has subsequently made me drag my feet over coming back to all of my HP WIPs.
That said; I DO remember the plot and basic outline I had of each WIP. I remember all of the important details; if not the exact way I planned each scene/bit of dialogue to go. And I've discovered that while I've been dealing with RL problems; a lot of people have left comments complimenting my WIPs and asking me to continue them, or subscribing/bookmarking/leaving kudos. I also know how disappointing it is when a writer discontinues a story you're enjoying and looking forward to reading more of.
SO I WILL DEFINITELY be continuing this story, along with all of my other WIPs.
Since I can remember all of the plot twists, etc. for each of them it's not a hardship in any way other than that HP is no longer my favourite fandom. I still love it; I still love Drarry; I just love other fandoms more right now. But I'm also still very fond of each of the ideas behind my WIPs. However, even more than that, I really, really hate leaving things unfinished.
(I'm also a bit of a praise-whore; and the more kudos and bookmarks and subscriptions and comments I get, the more motivated I am to write more, and write more often.)
Like I said; I intend to update my HP WIPs again starting in January, after my newer WIPs are finished (Some short(3-4 chapters) MDZS/Untamed stories that got me back into writing again); or at least restarted (A long multi-fandom SI-OC series I started earlier this year before a miscarriage derailed me from getting back into writing again for more than a couple of months).
The update schedule for my HP WIPs is this:
From A Pauper To A Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter Boot Camp Ficlets
What Is Required
Something To Live For
In The Dark
In The Stacks
In The End
Head Canons and HP Boot Camp Ficlets are two of the earliest updates scheduled by virtue of being two of the fics I have the most saved work for written down on paper.
Sorry for the form response; I'm trying to let everyone who was looking forward to reading more of these know what's going on with them at once!