Harry shifted from one foot to the other as the lift made its way to Level 9.
An advancement in Dark Arts security. Some spell. The way they’re talking, the development’s a real game changer. Meeting at 2 p.m., Potter. Find out what they know.
He hadn’t wanted to go. Didn’t much like the Department of Mysteries or the ones who went about their business there, but Robards had given him a look.
Wasn’t right, Harry thought, running his hand over his hair to flatten it. Too many secrets on 9.
He huffed. Might as well get it over with.
The lift dinged politely as it screeched to a halt.
Squaring his shoulders, Harry brushed a hand down the front of his uniform and stepped out.
The snap of his boots against the stone floor hung in the air as he made his way down the hall and into the department proper.
“Yes, I’m here to see… ” he said upon entering. “Here to see… well, I suppose I’m not sure exact—“
“Right this way, Auror Potter.” A young man with short hair and dark skin placed a parchment into a file and stood from behind a desk that was identical to the ones at the entryway to other Ministry departments. He wore the black ensemble common to the department. “Unspeakable Assistant 3,” according to the name placard on the desk. Harry didn’t bother asking for the man’s name; personal questions always made the Unspeakables uncomfortable.
The assistant didn’t spare him a glance as he navigated the department with Harry trailing behind.
“Are you showing me the spell?” Harry finally asked.
Harry waited, but no information seemed to be forthcoming. “All right, then,” he muttered to himself and allowed the Unspeakable to lead him along.
When Unspeakable Assistant 3 came to a stop, a nondescript door was before them, one which seemingly required a magical fingerprint to unlock. Once he had provided the necessary identification to gain entry, he gestured Harry inside.
Harry entered the large, dimly lit room. He barely heard the door snick shut behind him; an Unspeakable at the far end, also wearing the standard black, immediately captured his full attention. The man was turned away from him, keeping his wand trained steadily on a vase that sat atop an otherwise empty worktable. The vase was elegant, but Harry immediately sensed a strange and powerful darkness radiating from it. Fascinating, he thought, already eager to take a closer look.
The vase didn't hold his attention, though, because the Unspeakable shifted then and the movement caught Harry's eyes. The uniform had never looked as appealing as it did on the man currently wearing it. Harry had always felt the look a bit pretentious, with its sharp cuts and precise angles, black on black on black and just this side of formal. But those unforgiving lines fell perfectly into place on this particular individual. The look nearly stole Harry's breath.
Only nearly, though, as in the next moment, recognition hit. He should have known that hair.
Harry scowled. “You.”
Malfoy turned to him. “Evidently.”
Malfoy apparently didn’t understand that his presence was a problem, which was bloody typical. “Look. Can’t you get someone else to show me the spell? Easier on both of us.”
“I cannot,” Malfoy said calmly, “as I’m the only one who can execute it.”
Harry's eyes flicked to the vase. “You’re releasing a spell to the Aurors when the Unspeakables haven’t even mastered it themselves yet?”
“Not exactly.” Malfoy hesitated. “The magic requires… an intimate knowledge of the Dark Arts and the Defence thereof.”
Harry stared at him.
“I rather suspect the average Auror will have even less luck replicating the magic than my Unspeakable colleagues. You, however. Well.” Malfoy cleared his throat.
“Right.” It was common knowledge now that Harry once had Voldemort inside of him. Intimate indeed. Still, this was Malfoy, and Malfoy was a problem. Harry was in no way going to take pointers from a—
“You’ll need to come closer than that.” Malfoy sounded bored. His wand was still aimed at the urn, the likely source of the unpleasant vibration Harry was now feeling in the back of his head.
Harry narrowed his eyes. He couldn’t throw a fit and leave, and they both knew that. Last time they’d had a row, they’d been reduced to a physical tussle in the far corridor of 4, and they’d each been suspended for three days. Had almost been worth it to see Malfoy’s nose gush. Almost.
Harry opened his mouth to protest.
“Seriously, Potter? Get over here so we can get this over with.”
“Fine.” Harry stomped over to the complete and utter wanker.
“Must you behave like a bloody Erumpent? If this vase falls and smashes, I'll not be held responsible for whatever happens next.”
Harry lightened his step, but only slightly. He wanted nothing to do with freeing the evil that obviously ran through the urn, though he hated the idea of giving in to Malfoy. Harry hated even being in the same room as him; Malfoy made him crazy, as though Malfoy’s presence irritated his flesh several layers deep, right up against his bones. Just like the vase, Malfoy grated at the back of his neck, perhaps now more than ever since he’d become all… handsome. Harry couldn’t help but notice that—any bloke would. Harry especially hated how devastating Malfoy looked in his stupid uniform and how, judging by the assured way Malfoy held himself, the git knew it entirely too well. Look at those hems. Malfoy probably got off on ironing those perfect creases. No, got off on having his elves do it for him, more like. It all made Harry want to kick the leg of the desk as he passed, but then that would give reason for Malfoy to talk down to him again. He sighed heavily.
“Fine. Tell me about the vase,” he said, shoving Malfoy out of his head and turning his attention to the piece. He could feel its malevolence a half of a room away, but not until he was close did he sense the true darkness it possessed. The urn was practically oozing evil. It hummed with it.
Malfoy glanced at him before turning back to the vase. “Dark magic—”
A look of long-suffering settled across Malfoy’s features. He closed his eyes and breathed out slowly before opening them once more. “As I was saying. Dark magic lies within, an ancient, powerful curse—of a type the Unspeakables haven’t yet determined how to break.”
Harry observed the urn more carefully. The curse seemed almost… hungry. Eager to consume whatever fell into its reach. Harry went to step forwards, but progressed no further after Malfoy winced at his proximity. The magic was pitch black and churning, certainly dangerous. The vase itself was approximately 12 or 14 inches tall, thin but balanced, and seemingly fashioned of dark green glass with silver overlay. A silver serpent, almost lost amid the decorative elements, coiled along the base. Its eyes glittered. Slytherin—had to be.
“What are you using to control it?” Harry asked, realizing now that Malfoy was putting significant continual effort into containing the dark magic. Even still, the vibration Harry had felt earlier had become more intense as he’d approached, and it made his skin crawl. Pure evil lived in that vase.
“A Deprimo Maxima interwoven with Fianto Duri.”
That made sense; the combination was a standard, though especially strong, spell in their repertoire. Brows furrowed, Harry further examined the vase. While it certainly looked Slytherin at first glance, Harry could feel there was something more to the urn—it felt… almost familiar. In a way that most Slytherin artefacts did not.
“Voldemort touched this,” Harry said, recognition dawning on him.
“Yes,” said Malfoy.
“He used it.”
“If you mean that he used it to hold my mother’s last living rose, which he watered with my father’s blood, a combination through which he magically manipulated my own well-being, then, yes. One might say that he used it.”
“Yes,” Malfoy agreed, his face inscrutable.
“What will it do if it’s not contained?”
“The details are fuzzy, but Unspeakable Z’s kidneys began to process the removal of her soul after she got too close to a matching platter. She’s still at St Mungo’s. Foul business, trying not to expel your humanity through your own urethra.”
Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out again slowly. “Where’d you find it?”
Malfoy held his gaze. “Unspeakables discovered several pieces hidden in a vault. Unfortunately, the usual methods of breaking the hold of the dark magic have failed on this particular collection, and no Death Eaters with the relevant knowledge remain available for questioning by Veritaserum. It may be that the blood required to break the curse no longer runs through any living wizard. Another method was needed.”
“And you developed the answer.”
“This is the last of these cursed objects. I’ve already handled the others. Department leadership believed it necessary to share the spell work—at least on a theoretical basis—with the Aurors. Again, I doubt that many Aurors could execute it, but I do not have the safest profession, so I agree—reluctantly, mind—that someone else capable of understanding the intricacies should know it exists. For some reason, they chose you.”
“Fuck off. You know why they chose me. So, go on, then. How does it work if you’re not breaking the spells?”
“Instead of destroying the existing magic in the object, I’ve determined that transforming the magic is possible so as to neutralize and make it benevolent instead.”
“You’re going to turn that good?” Harry had rarely encountered magic so nefarious before. He felt it growling at him, low, in the back of his head by his neck.
“It seems even that which the Dark Lord filled to the brim with evil may be redeemed,” Malfoy said stiffly.
“I didn’t… “ Because even if Malfoy was still the actual worst who drove Harry completely mad and made him want to hex the git repeatedly until he dropped that maddening smirk (and that was only when they passed in the lobby), Malfoy had managed to become an Unspeakable—possibly a very good one—so he probably wasn’t entirely awful anymore. Just… mostly awful.
“Ground rules,” Malfoy interrupted his thoughts. “You’ll need to stay back at least four feet. Do not distract me, interrupt me, or question me. Use no magic. And do pay attention; I can only show you once.”
“Fuck off. I’m not a first year. I know not to—“
“Four feet, Four-Eyes. I will not begin until you back up.”
Gritting his teeth, Harry stepped away. He wished Malfoy weren’t so infuriating with that mouth of his and that perfect hair and that ridiculous jawline and that impeccable posture. No one normal stood like that. Malfoy was an utter prick, and Harry wanted to punch him. Or maybe back him up against a wall and—
“Yes.” Harry rolled his eyes. “Start already.”
Malfoy turned to the vase and appeared to centre himself, focusing intently on his task, his face tense.
Malfoy’s other fist clenched and Harry thought Draco was about to begin, but then Malfoy hesitated and turned to him, face softening. “I mean it, Potter. You’re going to want to—only don’t. Just watch. All right? Do nothing else. The entire process will take nearly twenty minutes, but I need you to not move. No matter what.”
Startled by Malfoy’s change of demeanour, Harry found himself agreeing. He pulled up an old chair and settled in to watch.
Malfoy’s first action was to reduce his dampening of the dark magic. As he did so, the snarling and hissing in the back of Harry’s head grew louder. The vase seemed to shiver where it sat, the curse visibly angry at being restrained and searching for any vulnerability in Malfoy’s magic.
Malfoy continued to weaken his own spells. The vase was nearly able to overpower him now, a thread away from breaking through the barriers barely containing it. Harry twitched; his reflex was to grab his wand and intervene. He could—but Malfoy’s controlled weakening was too intentional. Malfoy was definitely doing it on purpose. Then Harry understood. For some reason Malfoy was letting himself become vulnerable, or at least he was making it appear that way to the dark magic coursing through the vase.
It was impressive, actually, and the dark magic was taking the bait, gathering itself to go on the offensive and becoming more susceptible in the process.
The curse abruptly rose up and attacked, the quick strike of a snake, but Malfoy countered flawlessly, exposing its soft underside. Traditional curse-breaking methods would use this weakness to break the magic entirely, and even though Malfoy had warned him against it, Harry again itched to get involved. He shifted impatiently in his chair. Malfoy could keep the curse vulnerable, holding it open as he currently was, and Harry could move right in there and—
Malfoy backed down and the dark magic recoiled into itself.
What the bloody hell was Malfoy thinking? He stared, frowning, as Malfoy strengthened his initial containment spells once more and the darkness licked its wounded ego.
Harry slid forwards in his seat, leaning closer to watch. Seemingly waiting for some unknown sign, Malfoy continued to study the vase intently as he maintained his magical barrier, and Harry found himself observing Malfoy instead. His back was straight and his calf-length boots were spread a shoulder-width apart to allow him to physically brace himself for his casting. His face was serious, which did nothing to soften the lines of his jaw and high cheekbones, but the intensity written in his features was… appealing. The determination even more so. His sharp black uniform contrasted with the rest of him, which ranged from pale to paler still. Only his eyes fell somewhere in between the dichotomy of dark and light.
Harry nearly missed it when, without warning, the curse struck out again at Malfoy.
Harry jumped out of his chair and reached for his wand before he could stop himself, but just as fast as the curse lashed out, Malfoy reacted. With a precision that Harry envied, Malfoy again splayed the dark magic open and exposed it to the light.
Harry forcibly held himself back, but only barely. After all, if Malfoy would only let him help, Harry could cast a—
Malfoy released the curse again. Immediately it folded back into itself in the vase. But even though Malfoy hadn’t broken the curse or attempted to dismantle it, Harry could tell it had weakened anyway. The magic seemed almost… uncertain. Definitely highly agitated. Even more volatile and still exceedingly dangerous.
The more confused the curse became, the more impulsive it grew. The way the dark magic clung to the evil it had known made Harry doubt that what Malfoy was attempting was even possible. Not with this vase. Not with this curse.
Malfoy kept at it anyway, and Harry really hoped Malfoy knew what he was doing.
Adrenaline running through his blood, Harry felt his heart thump as the dark magic screeched in his head. The worktable began to vibrate beneath the urn. The dark magic attempted another attack, but Malfoy simply repeated his prior actions and controlled the encounter. This time, when the curse was at its most vulnerable, Malfoy cast another spell to layer upon the first.
“Obscuritas Sanentur,” Malfoy said.
Harry gasped; Malfoy was fucking off his nut. That was a healing spell! Malfoy was giving the dark magic its strength back.
The dark magic obviously didn’t know how to respond either. The table was shaking more violently now as the dark magic surged recklessly through the glass vase. The curse’s yowling became unpredictable.
Another minor healing spell left the curse shuddering but calmer. It still streamed through the vase though less wildly.
Then Malfoy shocked Harry again. Though Malfoy never took his attention away from the curse for an instant, he unexpectedly dropped all of his containment and shield spells entirely. Harry physically cringed out of the way when Malfoy did so, but to his surprise, both of their souls remained entirely intact.
The vase was emitting almost no dark magic at all.
Taking a deep breath, Harry tried to calm his racing heart.
After a few moments, Malfoy cast again, a gentle, beautiful spell Harry had never seen before but had no trouble following.
The spell didn’t stick; the dark magic wouldn’t accept it. Harry wasn’t surprised, but Malfoy didn’t seem to be either. He had to have known that the magic wouldn’t simply choose to—
And then Harry understood. Malfoy was showing the magic. Teaching the magic. He was showing it how not to kill. How not to injure. Demonstrating mercy. Showing it how to heal, and… giving it choices. It left the dark magic in shambles. Malfoy couldn’t break the evil, so he was going to convince it to be—
Harry swallowed. Malfoy was trying to persuade the magic to turn away from everything it knew, from the evil in its past, and make the choice to turn itself into something good again.
Harry felt his cheeks growing hot, but dared not move away and distract Malfoy, still absorbed in his complex magic. Everything else seemed to blur as he focused on the incantations that fell from Malfoy’s lips.
Casting again, Malfoy incanted a spell that gave the curse direction, presumably to judge its willingness to work with him instead of against him. The curse faltered, but didn’t reject Malfoy outright, and Malfoy continued to work with it. Malfoy was clever, wasn’t he? And his magic was exquisite; Harry had never realized that before, but it was. Malfoy’s control was impeccable, and his spellwork was beautiful to watch. Pinpoint sharp but not fragile in the least. Malfoy’s magic was liquid silver and sharp as diamonds.
The line of Malfoy’s thin wrist emerging from the black cuff seemed delicate but Harry now knew better than to underestimate its strength. Malfoy’s other hand hung at his side where his index finger rubbed against the pad of his thumb, the nervous habit his only tell of any stress.
Another spell Harry recognized meant Malfoy was strengthening the vase itself this time. The dark magic oozed through the silver overlay, absorbing the changes.
Malfoy tried the critical spell again, but while the curse again rejected him, it did so less immediately. He soothed it with a gentle caress of magic that made Harry's toes curl.
How had Harry never noticed Malfoy’s mouth before? When Malfoy wasn’t using it to be total arse, the curl of his pink lips seemed sexy. And the way Malfoy acted and reacted to the magic—a sensual dance in a dangerous game.
A surge of warmth began to spread through Harry’s pelvis, the tell-tale rush of blood that meant he was about to be in a bit of glorious trouble. He held his breath, wondering whether he could stop it. Whether he wanted to.
Spell after spell, Malfoy cast. Shimmers of light and colour and energy cut through the air. Perhaps Malfoy’s technique was part of his Unspeakable training, but Harry rather suspected it was simply Malfoy. Harry had often thought seeing another’s magic was intimate, and this display was like none he’d witnessed before. This wasn’t just a glimpse, a bared ankle or a jumper that lifted when a man stretched. This was an extended and intensely erotic display. By showing his magic to Harry, sharing his secrets, Malfoy was allowing himself to become vulnerable.
Time slowed as Harry’s focus narrowed and heat began to build in his cock. He forgot about the hundred other matters that had been in his head—nothing remained but Draco Malfoy, the flick of his pale wrist, the curve of his pink mouth, and the stream of warm, compassionate magic flowing from wand.
Malfoy kept casting, working with the curse, and Harry couldn’t have torn his eyes away if he tried. The moans of the dark magic faded entirely as a soft buzzing in his ears emerged. Draco Malfoy intent on his magic, on this magic, was unbearably sexy.
Time slowed further, and the rest of the world became a distant blur. Harry definitely couldn’t stop his body now; his balls tightened, and he could feel his cock filling quite quickly. There was no way Malfoy could tell, could he?
That spell again.
Harry shuddered as Malfoy once more offered the curse a choice, though ultimately it still turned away. Malfoy only bit his lip and went to work again, more determined than ever. A slight sheen coated Malfoy’s forehead and the back of his neck, and Harry imagined the same was true of Malfoy’s back. He felt a sudden urge to lick that damp pale skin. He’d drag his mouth over that lean flesh, run his lips along Malfoy’s spine.
A wave of heat ran over Harry’s skin and left goose bumps in its wake.
He wanted to taste Malfoy.
Harry wanted Draco Malfoy.
He wanted those hands to touch him, wanted those long, perfect fingers to grasp him and hold him and turn him inside out. He’d beg, if it would help. He wanted Malfoy to play him like he was playing the curse, to remind him about goodness and choices, and to weave a magic web over him so deep that Harry would scream…
The familiar tightening in his gut left him breathless. He felt lightheaded. Nothing else mattered.
Malfoy incanted a new spell that would give the magic peace, and Harry’s cock throbbed in response. He was so hard. He bit his lip trying to contain himself as he watched Malfoy work over the curse.
Perhaps he was crazy, but Harry had the thought that he wanted to be that dark magic just so Malfoy would focus on him like that. He could… he could be bad. He could, if Malfoy would… point his… use his… Fuck.
His cock throbbed again, and Harry tried not to squirm. This was beyond reckless, but he wanted—no, he needed Malfoy’s magic to splay him open and leave him vulnerable and gasping. Needed it. Needed it now.
What if Malfoy did it? What if he turned his magic on Harry after he was through with the vase? Harry imagined Malfoy directing a light spell to tickle over his bare skin, making him tremble. Envisioned a stronger spell caressing him, teasing him, eliciting desire like Harry had never known.
He was hard. So, so hard. Leaking, probably. Right in his pants like a fifth year. Malfoy was just there, all of his attention on that fragile, broken vase that was going to be so beautiful and strong again when Malfoy was done with it. Fuck.
Maybe instead of working on Harry with magic, Malfoy would drop his wand entirely—Harry envisioned it rolling away on the floor, forgotten—and use those glorious hands on Harry instead. Merlin and Morgana, both. Malfoy would stare as Harry undressed for him, that infuriating smirk on his lips as he watched Harry shove his uniform trousers down to his knees. Then he might simply take over when Harry couldn’t disrobe quickly enough. He’d step right up to Harry, take Harry’s prick out of his pants with that elegant hand and stroke it as he kissed Harry, his other hand cupped to the back of Harry’s head. Harry bet he would be able to feel the traces of Malfoy’s magic that lingered in Malfoy’s fingertips when they wrapped around his cock. Malfoy’s smart mouth would be hot and wet—Harry could imagine Malfoy’s taste and the heady scent of him filling his lungs. He’d kiss Malfoy desperately, wouldn’t he? And Malfoy would spit in his hand and then pull at Harry’s cock slowly but firmly, and rub the pad of his abused thumb over the head of Harry’s cock. Then after he’d jerk him furiously until Harry wouldn’t be able to hold back, except that maybe Malfoy would grasp the base of his prick at the last moment to keep Harry from coming or even use his magic to do it instead. Bloody hell. Harry shuddered.
Maybe Malfoy would bring him off like that; Harry bet he would. Malfoy would stand there coolly, confidently manipulating Harry’s cock with those long fingers as Harry went right to pieces. Harry would suck on any of Malfoy’s smooth skin that he could reach, lapping at his neck, right along his collar and then by his ear. And Harry would be mewling and coming apart under the work of those expert hands on him.
Harry ached. He needed… Fuck it all. He couldn’t… He had to…
He went to press his hand up against his crotch—
The incantation, uttered a fourth time, pulled Harry from himself as a soft white light briefly filled the room. Harry yanked his hand back, breathing heavily.
When the light faded back to normal, Malfoy was still intent on the vase, but the vase—the vase had changed. Perfectly calm now, it shone ever so slightly. The clean magic filling the vessel was palpable; the redemptive spell had taken. The magic was still a little unsteady, and Malfoy was still casting a few gentle supportive spells, but Harry could tell even the leftover instability was subsiding.
Finally, Malfoy stopped and dropped his wand to his side, his expression softening. He was pleased. He gazed at the vase for a moment, appearing both exhausted and satisfied with his work. Harry noticed he stopped unconsciously rubbing his fingers together. Malfoy tucked his wand away in his pocket.
Unbelievable. Malfoy had bloody well done it. The danger was gone, the evil cast aside by the curse itself, and a beautiful enchanted vase sat in its place. Magic, still strong but now all crystal and light, occupied it instead.
“What will the good magic do?” Harry croaked, the apparent side effect of a still-raging hard-on.
Malfoy’s face went blank as he turned to Harry. His mouth became a thin narrow line, his expression indecipherable. He stared at Harry, then, without a word, strode out of the room and shut the door behind him.
Harry dropped his head to his hands. He exhaled roughly; he was still so, so hard.
Finally, he convinced himself to think of Potions class so he wouldn’t be mortified when he left the room. Several long minutes later, when he finally got up and made his way to the door, he found Unspeakable Assistant 3 standing outside waiting for him. His cheeks reddening more than he would have preferred, Harry followed the Unspeakable towards the exit corridor.
“Thanks,” Harry said when they reached the lifts.
Before turning away, the Unspeakable retrieved a thick envelope from his pocket and handed it to Harry as the lift dinged to indicate its arrival. Potter was written on the front.
Once inside the lift, he opened the envelope and found a slip of parchment and a small vial with a silver memory thread inside. He unfolded the parchment.
Pay better attention this time.
You may return this to me Friday evening, 8 p.m., at The Dragonfly. Should you need additional tutoring, my Pensieve may be available after.
Harry crumpled the parchment in his fist and swallowed hard. Closing his eyes, he leaned back into the corner of the lift.
When the lift dinged, Harry scrubbed a hand over his face and gathered himself. He straightened and exhaled sharply. Once the doors slid open, he stepped out, tucking the parchment and vial into his pocket.
He headed down the corridor, his pace quickening as he made his way to his office. Slowly, one side of his mouth curled into a smile.