God help this faith I'm wearin', God help this place
Malfoy's breath was hot in his ear, his teeth sharp enough to break skin, and Harry hadn't ever been one for pain but right now he really didn't care.
He could feel Malfoy's heart beating hard under his hand. It sounded beautiful. Harry wanted to push his ear to it and listen, just listen to it for hours. But that was not how they did this.
That was not how this worked.
Malfoy was tearing at his shirt like all he wanted was to feel hot skin against his own, something Harry could understand. It was a desperate wish and one that was granted far too rarely these days.
Malfoy was a biter, he liked to feel skin between his teeth, Harry had figured that out the first time they fucked.
“Are you some kind of freaking vampire?!”
Malfoy smiled and there was a slight stain of blood on his lips. He wiped it away with the back of his hand, leaving a bright smear. Light red and alive, for now.
Harry kissed him, hard. He didn't want to hear this. He didn't want to hear it now. Malfoy's fingers flexed against Harry's back, his nails digging into Harry's flesh, breaking skin. Maybe Malfoy was a vampire; maybe he was just messed up. It didn't matter. Right now nothing mattered, except the noises Malfoy was making under him, how he clung to Harry as Harry pushed in hard. Too hard. There was a moment of stillness and Harry nearly apologized, but Malfoy – as if sensing that Harry would become gentle with him – pulled him in and hissed:
“Move for Merlin's sake!”
Harry was staring at the ceiling. It was a freaking beautiful ceiling. Everything was just perfect here, like the outside world didn't burn. He heard Malfoy getting up and gathering his clothes. He didn't say a word. He rarely spoke at all, except the moans and demands when they fucked, which had only happened twice before. First on the sofa in the hall, and then against the counter in the kitchen. And now here. Well, Harry thought, third time's the charm. He got up into a sitting position and watched Malfoy. He wanted to say something, but he just didn't know what. They weren't that kind of people.
Sometimes Harry didn't feel like they were people at all. Just puppets on strings, going through the motions.
He watched as Malfoy left the room and closed the ornate door.
And Harry was alone again with his thoughts and memories and the only thing that felt real was that throbbing place where Malfoy bit him.
Days could pass without Harry seeing Draco. He wandered through Malfoy Manor aimlessly, touching random things and getting ignored by the portraits.
He had no idea where Malfoy disappeared to when he left Harry. The Manor was huge and Harry was sure he hadn't seen even a quarter of it. He could feel barriers sometimes. Faint, tingling magic that he couldn't understand or touch. Blood magic, he supposed. A few weeks ago he would've been disgusted by it. Now he was glad it was there.
He looked out of one of the huge French windows over the back garden. It was a maze of bushes and trees, some flowers: bright colours in the distance. He knew there was blood everywhere. A circle of it surrounding the house and part of the property. Malfoy's blood. Mingled with the earth and taking root.
There had been rumours about what Malfoy had been doing these past years, but he has always been too smart to get caught. Harry would bet everything he had, and it wasn't much anymore, that everyone wanted a piece of whatever magic Malfoy could spin right now. Malfoy didn't seem to care about it. He hadn't let anyone in. Not a single soul.
But Harry had found his way here, and Malfoy didn't make him leave.
Malfoy was a right bastard, but now Harry couldn't really blame him for it. Even if he wanted to, he didn't. Hadn't wanted to back in the day either.
He leaned his head against the window and wondered why Draco had let him in.
I'm looking for a sign of life - and I can hear it fading out
Draco looked hard at himself. The mirror wasn't enchanted. It just reflected all the imperfections back at him.
He traced a bruise on his arm and the bigger one on his thigh. His skin looked too pale. There was dried blood in the corner of his lips. He scrubbed at it until it was gone. It didn't taste like anything, really.
Maybe his body just wasn't capable anymore to feel or taste. It should scare him, he thought, but it didn't.
He put his clothes back on and went to look out onto the garden. There was one break in the barrier he watched. It wasn't carelessness, it was calculation. Cold and simple. Every few days someone would stumble upon it. The break wasn't noticeable if you didn't know it was there, at least not from this side. Draco knew that Potter had no idea, because if he'd known he would have probably killed Draco by now.
Draco took a deep breath.
He could hear her. Faint moans and scratches at the door to her bedroom. She never slept, not a single moment. He couldn't ever rest with her so close. But he couldn't get away either. He walked over to the thick solid door and put a hand to the metal. She is so very alone, he thought.
But then he was too. Her moaning became louder. He was sure she could smell him. He let his head rest on the door and didn't try to block her out.
She didn't make any sense, of course. But she was hungry and he was damned anyway.
Besides, some people didn't deserve to live.
In the beginning, no one was really concerned. They were wizards and witches and they grew up with stories about Inferi. Those disgusting things, like puppets on strings made of corpses; decaying flesh and no mind of their own. Brought down with fire and magic or the death of their master.
But Draco didn't care about the world outside the Manor, because the world hated him. Hated his family, hated his blood line.
If the world doesn't care for you, you shouldn't care for the world, his mother had said. It was still true. Potter seemed to be the only crack in his walls, the only flaw in the plan.
Whatever the people who came here thought, who battled the hordes of the undead, who sought refuge, trying to find some hope – it wasn't here. And even if it had been, Draco wouldn't have given it to them.
Potter, well, Potter saved his life, more than once. He was indebted and whatever else you could say about him, his family, his blood (and people didn't hold back on these topics) he had paid his debts.
That's why Potter was here. That's why Draco let him stay.
He had no idea why he did all the other stuff. He had no idea why he let Potter fuck him in his mother's favourite room or on his grandfather's couch. He sat down on the cold marble floor and closed his eyes. The house was too quiet. There was nothing here. No one. Not a single living soul – well, except Potter.
“There is no cure,” Draco said flatly.
“But you're working on something,” Potter answered. He was running his fingers over the backs of the books, not looking at Draco. Draco was glad for it. He didn't want to talk to Potter, except for moans and to tell him how he liked to be fucked. Conversations weren't part of the plan – to be honest, Draco didn't have a real plan, but if he had one, conversations surely wouldn't be a part of it.
Of course he was working on something. Everyone was working on something, but Draco's something wasn't what other wizards were working on. Draco's something, well, was something else.
“There is no cure,” Draco repeated.
Potter turned to him then, straightened out, and looked at him. The piercing green of his eyes reminded Draco of living things. His own made him think of ashes and dead, pale skin.
“There is always something,” Potter said. Potter would believe that, he had cheated death, he won out over the most powerful wizard in generations. Potter's faith crushed him. Potter's faith would crush Potter too. Draco closed his eyes.
“There is no cure,” he answered, and Potter was instantly in his personal space. He grabbed Draco hard and usually this was the moment Draco would yield and let Potter manhandle him onto the next horizontal surface so they could fuck and Draco would feel something. Anything. He pushed Potter hard instead, so Potter stumbled before he caught his balance a few feet away.
“There is nothing,” he said and left.
His feet made faint hollow sounds as he walked the marble floors to her room.
Lost my strength when you lost your fight
In the beginning people were fighting. There were plans and more plans and words of comfort. People always fought first and tried to make things right. It was all about survival. Now people were dying in the hospitals and being eaten alive on the streets, changing, turning, always hungry. Some were holed up in their family homes. Some fled. The Ministry was hiding out until it was over.
“There is no cure,” Malfoy had said. And he sounded matter of fact about it. This, Harry thought, this couldn't be the world he would have to live in. If there was no cure, the concept of hope was pointless. He watched Malfoy leave and didn't try to follow. This wasn't – Harry had no idea what this wasn't. Anything, probably.
Malfoy was wandering the halls of his family home like a ghost. Sometimes Harry would catch a glimpse of him in the large gardens through the big windows, because he couldn't sleep either. The noises were haunting him. Pale skin and hair like an angel's or a death wish becoming flesh and bone.
The thing was, Harry thought, that flesh and bone didn't mean alive nowadays. Maybe it never really did. Flesh and bone could also refer to dead things. And a lot of dead things were out there now. Just behind the barrier that protected them from hordes of the undead. And if Malfoy died? What would Harry do then? Fight?
Because he wasn't fighting now. Now he was here and he was hiding out. Hiding out in Malfoy Manor that was as nearly as cold as a corpse. And he was setting his hopes, his life, in Malfoy of all people. Maybe he was crazy after all. Maybe he was just as damaged as people said.
“Maybe the world deserves to burn,” Malfoy said. He was pushing at Harry's shirt and pants. His fingers long and pale and so damn clever. He slipped his hand down Harry's jeans and began stroking, just the way that got Harry off the fastest. Harry could feel Draco's breath hot against his own skin. He wanted to turn his head and crush their lips together, but Malfoy would probably bite him for it.
“The world doesn't,” Harry panted, he grabbed onto Malfoy's clothes to pull him closer.
Malfoy's hand stilled, but his fingers were still doing something, something that made Harry arch into the fist curled loosely around his dick. Malfoy leaned in so he could whisper into Harry's ear.
“People do.” It was said softly and quietly and with determination. He bit Harry's earlobe and tightened his fingers, stroking just right, and Harry really didn't think this was the right moment to come all over Malfoy's fingers, but it happened anyway.
“People do,” Malfoy repeated, leaning away. Harry looked at him: his lips were bloody again. His hand reached out and Malfoy didn't flinch away.
“No,” Harry said, but his voice was only a whisper.
“Yes,” Malfoy whispered back. His tongue flickered out and caught Harry's finger. He stared into the pale grey eyes and tried not to think of ash and dead things.
If it's love, hold on tight
Draco smelled like dinner and he knew it and he put his hand to the door to let her come to him. Let her scratch at the metal and bang her fists with pale, torn flesh. He listened to her moan and scream, a low kind of scream like a wounded animal's. He had wanted to open that door so many times in the beginning. Now he feared it. His heart began to hammer madly in his chest just thinking about it.
She was hungry again. She was always hungry.
Draco rubbed at his lips and licked the dried blood away from the corners. She banged louder. More insistent. Sometimes he wanted her to break it down.
He imagined how the door would just give under her weight and sheer will. She would blink, maybe – a part of her surprised to be free – and stagger in his direction. He would look at her, and he would be disgusted, he just knew he would, because how could he not? Her skin would be as grey as his eyes, her hands bloody and torn, likely showing bones under her decaying flesh. She would make these noises, noises that no living thing could, would ever make. He would stare at her and he would let her come to him. Slowly, like a child that just learned to walk, like a puppet that he reeled in with invisible strings, she would follow the smell of his blood, the pounding of his heart. She would open her mouth wide and her teeth would be pale too, her mouth dark and rotting and he would close his eyes and -
He took a deep breath.
“Soon,” he said and didn't really know what he meant by it.
“I got lost,” Potter said. He was standing in the door to the small library Draco was currently sitting in. He needed fresh air, but he wasn't sure he should open the windows. The grounds were safe – mostly, but this side was the one with the break in the barrier.
“I can escort you back to your room,” Draco answered. He put the book on ancient blood-spells aside. Nothing in there about the hordes of the undead or how to stop them. He didn't lie to Potter. There was no cure.
“What were you doing?”
“Reading, I am sure you’ve heard of it,” Draco answered, causing Potter to laugh. It startled Draco; he stopped in his tracks and just stared at Potter for a few seconds until Potter realised that he wasn't following him and turned. Potter was always storming ahead, even if he had no idea where the hell he was going.
“Are you okay?” Potter asked.
Draco wasn't. He hadn't heard laugher in way too long. He couldn't remember the last time someone had laughed in the Manor. This mansion that was becoming a mausoleum. He shook his head and then nodded.
“You look pale,” Potter said.
“I am pale,” Draco muttered, and started walking again. He needed to get Potter out of his hair. Away from this part of the house and the gardens.
“Malfoy,” Draco cut in sharply, because there was absolutely no way he would allow Potter that familiarity. There were things Draco simply couldn't afford.
Draco could hear screams and moaning. Delightful, happy moaning. Or at least he thought it was a happy sound, or perhaps happy was not the word: content. Yes, Draco thought, content like a well fed child. She had been starving. He put his head against the cool surface of the door and listened with his eyes closed.
Snapping of bones.
Tearing of flesh.
Slurping of blood.
It's gonna hurt all over
There was a break in the barrier. He could see it shimmering from the window in the corridor where Malfoy's room was. It wasn't easy to spot. Hidden between trees and bushes and shifting.
Somehow Harry didn't think it was a mistake. Malfoy was too good for that, but why would he want someone to breach the barrier? To have an entrance, no matter how small, how hidden? Harry knew that Draco didn't care for the world outside. Hadn't cared for it even before it had been overrun by hordes of rotting, gasping, ever hungry flesh. Harry's mind was running through all kinds of possibilities and none of them were very good. He wanted to hit something. He took a deep breath instead.
“So,” Malfoy said, just behind him. Far enough away that Harry couldn't feel his body heat. So he couldn't grab Malfoy like he wanted to, though his fingers itched to do it. It was a reflex by now, he didn't even need to think about it. Harry turned to look at him. Draco was leaning against the wall, casually.
“Why do you do it?” Harry asked.
Malfoy glanced away from Harry's face and to the gap in the barrier, made of blood and ancient magic taking root all around them. Keeping them safe, keeping them here, keeping them prisoners. Or maybe it was only Harry who felt like that sometimes.
“Because I can't let go,” Malfoy answered.
“There is no cure, but you don't have to kill them,” Malfoy said. Something in his voice made all of Harry's alarm bells ring.
“I am a ghost light. The Manor is, really, but I go out there and I let them enter,” Draco said. This had been stupid from the beginning. Not the need to feed her, never that, but letting Potter stay for so long. Getting involved with Potter – getting involved with Potter never ended well for his sanity. But maybe he didn't have much of that left.
Potter looked like he believed Draco should be tied up in a white, padded cell for his own good. Thing was, he was tied up and his cell was this cold marble mansion.
“What do you do to them?” Potter asked.
“They are entering on their own free will. I tell them that there is no cure, I tell them that there is no hope,” he placed an emphasis on hope and looked Potter in the eyes. Green, like living things. You'll be the death of me, he thought. “They don't get it.”
“I didn't give up,” Potter said.
“You can never give up. That's your problem. You want to save the world, but the world is not yours to save.”
“Whose then?” Potter asked.
Draco shrugged. “Maybe a higher power than us.”
Potter nearly smiled. “We are at the top of the food-chain. Wasn't it that that got you into trouble?”
Draco smiled at him. “But are we, now?”
“At the top of the food-chain.”
Potter looked lost for a minute, biting his lip, and Draco could do nothing but watch as the skin broke and blood spilled.
The moaning started just a second after, and then came the pounding. Torn flesh and bare bone and metal.
Malfoy closed his eyes and he looked so young in that moment it took Harry's breath away. He closed the distance between them and grabbed Draco’s wrist.
“Don't you want to know?” Draco asked.
Harry didn't. The world was going to hell. Probably had already. Most of the people Harry had loved and called family were most likely dead or eating their way steadily through living tissue. But Draco was alive. Harry could feel his warmth and the steady pulse of his beating heart under his fingertips.
“No,” he said.
“I'm not going to give it up,” Draco answered. Harry had no idea what to say to that. No idea at all.
“There is no cure,” he whispered after a while.
“I know,” Draco replied just as softly. He reached out and ran a finger over Harry's lips. It stung where his skin was broken but he didn't care; Draco was leaning in closer.
“She never sleeps,” he said just before his lips closed over Harry's. It was a soft kiss, nothing like Harry had imagined. Nothing like the sex they were having.
It wasn't angry, it wasn't desperate.
It told Harry all about the pointlessness of hope.
“Draco,” Harry began and was cut off.
“I was never one for mercy killings. Not even as a child. I kill for survival, out of anger or pride, but not out of mercy.” His voice was as cold as his eyes. There was no arguing with him and Harry was so very tired of having to save the world.
“You said people deserved to burn.”
“She isn't a person anymore. She doesn't deserve anything, but I can't let go,” Draco answered, leaning away. He looked into Harry's eyes. “I, however, I am a person.”
This house, this thing made to last, this was a safe haven for Harry, but it wasn't that for Draco.
“This is your personal hell,” Harry said. Draco smiled.
“Yes, and I deserve every second of it for what I've done,” Draco answered. He smiled and leaned in to kiss Harry again.