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The Water Is Warm 'Till You Discover How Deep

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Maddox has been becoming increasingly dangerous with the years, even through the mist of their complicated and often inexplicable relationship Blaine can see that very clearly. He doesn’t believe his is a biased position – sure, like all Gryffindor he’s prone to believe Slytherin to be capable of the worst, if nothing else for traditional reasons, but that’s not all there is. He doesn’t think Maddox is dangerous because he’s a Slytherin, he would be thinking the same of him if he was Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw or Gryffindor too (although it is obvious that the Sorting Hat wouldn’t have been able to sort him into any other house than Slytherin).

The fact is that Maddox hasn’t done anything fully evil, up to now, but he’s already losing control of his curiosity. Whenever an idea for a new spell crosses his mind there is no line he wouldn’t cross to see it come alive – and it’s always a new one, never an ancient one. Blaine’s never seen him scavenge for old, forgotten and forbidden spells in the library, he’s never seen him trying to steal professor Sylvester’s personal books, he’s never seen him trying to spell old magicians to try and extract secret recipes out of their clouded minds.

Maddox is not interested in the past, or in the works of the others. He only wants the future, and to litter the road towards it with his own spells, his own formulas, his own genius.

That is why he’s dangerous. And scary.

But also tremendously fascinating.

“We shouldn’t be doing this,” he says, keeping watch as Maddox finishes mixing the sleeping potion for the Peruvian Vipertooth chained in the basement. Since the beast has been found alone and wounded and lost in the Forbidden Forest, professor Sylvester has been keeping it here, guarded night and day by dragon keepers and waiting for it to heal enough to be transported elsewhere. Naturally, upon request of the teachers, the basement has been granted a forbidden access status for the whole student body to avoid any complication. Not that professor Sylvester cared much about it, since, as she said, it would have been a good trial in brains and wisdom: if a student was stupid enough to get close to one of the most poisonous and dangerous dragons known to the wizard world, no matter how wounded, then that student probably deserved death, or at the very least to be maimed for life. And naturally that hadn’t been a deterrent for Maddox either. After all, he’s not been nicknamed “Mad” Maddox by chance. “Do I have to remind you the motto of this school?”

“Oh, come on, Anderson, don’t be ridiculous,” Maddox answers with a smirk, “We’re not going to tickle the dragon. Just make him fall asleep. And remove one of his fangs.”

Somehow Maddox has become convinced that the last ingredient needed to complete this potion he invented is Peruvian Vipertooth venom. How lucky a dragon of that exact species were to be held right here in Hogwarts.

(Sometimes Blaine suspects Maddox does things not because he thinks them and plans them, but simply because he can. In the same way he’s sure that the original plan of this revolutionary secret potion he’s concocting and doesn’t want to reveal the purpose to Blaine didn’t include Peruvian Vipertooth venom at all, and Maddox simply decided to add some because he suddenly had a specimen close at hand to use.)

“You said you wouldn’t put the dragon keeper in danger either, and yet he’s lying out there, turned to stone.”

“Well, I had to stop him from killing us, somehow.”

“You could’ve used a petrificus totalus! You didn’t have to actually petrify him!”

“Are you even serious, right now, Anderson?” Maddox lifts his eyes from the bowl and turns to look at him, batting him eyelashes in surprise, “That’s an experienced magician out there, and we’re Hogwarts students. I mean, I’m a genius and you’re not half bad in a duel, but we’re still students, and that man battles with dragons on a daily basis for a job. He would’ve wiped his ass with a petrificus totalus.”

“So instead you decided it was better to put his life in danger with a full petrification?” Blaine frowns.

Maddox huffs, going back to the potion. “You’re so dramatic, really. A simple Mandrake roots draught and he’ll be as good as new.”

“Yes, sure, because it’s so easy to come in possession of fully grown Mandrake roots,” Blaine snorts disapprovingly.

“I have some in my room.”

“You have— what?! No, you do not.”

“I sure do.”

“But it’s forbidden!”

Maddox laughs, throwing his head backwards. Blaine looks at the line of his throat and at his Adam’s apple, moving up and down with every bout of laughter, and swallows.

“Blaine,” he says patiently, as if he considered it his job to remind him that, “I don’t care about forbidden.”

That is undeniably true.

At this point, there’s nothing Blaine could tell him to make him change his mind. Even if he told him that if they were found they’d be kicked out of the school or worse, that wouldn’t be enough to make Maddox lose sight of his final goal. That’s all he sees. His goals can vary, and they can be grand and ambitious or stupid and small at different times, but he always wants them with the same intensity. One day, a couple years ago, Blaine had felt stalked the whole day. Maddox had recently turned fifteen and was on edge and agitated, and Blaine had already started sensing him as a threat from time to time, but he hadn’t seen him anywhere, he had just felt this ominous presence constantly at his back, until at the end of the day someone had sneaked into his bedroom and into his bed, and naturally it was Maddox, and naturally he wanted to kiss him. So he did, despite Blaine’s protests and embarrassment he did, and when the kiss was over he rested his forehead against Blaine’s and whispered “I woke up this morning wanting to kiss you and I couldn’t have fallen asleep tonight without kissing you”, and there was a finality, in his voice, the sense of something inescapable that had given Blaine the clear idea that Maddox had chased that kiss as he would’ve chased a prey through the forest.

He had omitted to tell him – you didn’t need to chase me like that.

He had omitted to tell him – you could’ve simply asked.

“It’s ready!” Maddox triumphantly says, distracting him from his thoughts, “Come on, let’s get the dragon ready for a trip to the dentist.”

Maddox advances towards the creature, and Blaine follows him, but he also hesitates a moment right before doing that, and he’s used to self-analyze, he can read something in that hesitation. He knows he’s spent the majority of his life since he met this boy when he was eleven following him wherever he would go, whatever he might do or say. But the more Maddox walks in that frightening direction, the harder it gets to follow him thoughtlessly. That hesitation means the time to stop following him and start opposing him is dangerously close. Their unlikely friendship is soon going to die, as expected from something born between two people belonging to such opposite and different houses.

That time, however, is not now. This is a time for following. This is a time for darkness. And so he chases his own steps in the dark as they disappear behind the traces left by Maddox’s, and soon enough they’re fighting side by side, and the dragon crushes the bowl filled with the sleeping potion under his front paw, and his claws turn the stone to dust dangerously close to Maddox’s feet and all Blaine can think is that he needs to fight, to cast the best spells, the strongest ones, to use his stick as a sword to protect Maddox, even from himself.

They’re running away some fifteen minutes later, both wounded, the dragon too. It’s not dead but it soon might be, and Blaine doesn’t care because even though he’s bleeding at least Maddox is alright. And the danger of this thought hits him hard in his guts, that he’s willing to go such lengths as to kill or almost kill a mighty, innocent creature just to protect this boy, and that he wouldn’t even care for the damage he’s done, that’s almost too much. Almost too much, but not enough yet.

They hide out in Maddox’s bedroom. No one wants to share it with him, and so the two beds that aren’t his own are empty and perfectly tidy, while his is a mess of blankets and sheets. Blaine tries to resist the urge to tidy it up and crouches next to Maddox as he dives under the bed, fetching a box. There’s dehydrated mandrake root in it, and Maddox quickly mixes it up with a few more ingredients and a Latin spell to activate it, and then he sighs, sitting down on the floor with his back against the wooden structure of the bed. He keeps his eyes closed and breathes slowly in and out. There’s blood coming out of a cut on his face, and blood staining his clothes all over his body, but Blaine instinctually knows none of those wounds are fatal. They’re just there, slowing him down on the path towards destruction. Of himself – of the world, Blaine doesn’t know that yet. There’s a world of possibilities ahead of Maddox, and he’s the kind of person who would want to grab them all.

“You should go,” Maddox says in a short breath, “Take the draught with you, by now they’ll have dragged the dragon keeper to the infirmary already.”

“If they find out I’ve been hiding fully grown mandrake roots in my bedroom, they’re going to kill me.”

“Nah,” Maddox smiles, “They’re gonna scold you, and then celebrate you as a hero for curing the keeper’s petrification spell. You’ll see. That’s what always happens to you. That’s— your destiny, I guess. I can’t interfere with that. Doesn’t matter how much I wanna drag you down in the darkness with me, you’re always gonna emerge from mud and filth perfectly untainted…” his voice trickles away to silence, and Blaine finds himself worried by the beating of his own heart, now furious.

“Maddox, what the hell are you talking about?” he says, holding him by his shoulders and shaking him lightly, “Are you— What happened to you? Did the dragon poison you?”

“I’m just tired,” Maddox smiles faintly, “And maybe it bit me too, yeah,” he admits with a little laughter.

“Merlin, you’re a shithead…” Blaine groans, uncovering the box again to take a look at the many ingredients Maddox keeps stored there. Yes, there’s enough for an antidote. Lucky them. “Lie down, I’m going to take care of you.”

“But the dragon keeper,” Maddox whispers, “He needs the draught.”

“They’ll get there soon enough,” Blaine stubbornly insists, “I don’t want to be celebrated for fixing something I took part into breaking. They don’t need me to play hero for them.”

Maddox finally opens his eyes, cloudy and misty, confused and liquid gray, alive like mercury. “You’re right. They don’t. I do.” He swallows, and Blaine thinks he’s never seen him more fragile. “I need you to be the hero…” he goes on with an uncertain voice, “When I… when I mess up too bad, I need you to… forever… I can feel it in my blood like a prophecy, you must be the one to—”

“Sssh,” Blaine presses his forehead hard against Maddox’s, silencing him with light kisses, for lack of a better tool, “The only thing you can feel in your blood right now is poison. Come on. Stand up. Get on the bed. I’ll fix you up.”

“Yes…” weak and docile, Maddox allows him to lead him up on the bed, where he lets himself go, exhausted. He’s starting to sweat. He’s starting to tremble. This is poison. Everything he said was because of the poison. Blaine tries to remember that as he mixes up the antidote for him and gets him to drink it despite the fact that his throat is slowly closing down.

Maddox swallows just in time, and as he lies exhausted next to him, waiting for the potion to have full effect and wake him up, Blaine understands the magnitude of what happened tonight. This was defining more of any other moment in their relationship. This is the night everything changes – he can’t help but think about it.

But he doesn’t say it to Maddox. Not even when he wakes up and all he wants to know is where the fang of the Peruvian Vipertooth has gone.