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Run, Devil, Run

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Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

A/N: For Not Hardly, whose candid reviews made me laugh and who gave me the fantastic prompt for this story. I kind of merged the two that she gave me, but I won’t give anything else away! A bit angstier and darker than Grasser, but it’ll definitely have some humor in it as well. Named for a Ke$ha song that a South Korean girl group has re-recorded that I can't get out of my head, I'm ashamed to say... Enjoy! Readers and reviews are, as always, greatly loved and appreciated.

~*~

It was a terrible day for anyone who happened across the likes of Draco Malfoy. The sun was shining, a light summer breeze swept through the castle, the students of Hogwarts were fast approaching exams, and Draco Malfoy was in a blind rage that left even his closest friends terrified for their safety. It had been gaining steam for some time now; first he’d taken a ridiculous number of points from Gryffindors for things like “being ginger” or “breathing,” then he’d turned on the other Houses, hexing indiscriminately to the point where even Slytherins refused to join his crusade. When Draco Malfoy was happy, everyone was happy (the Slytherins were, at any rate). But when Draco Malfoy was in a foul mood, everyone knew it.

“Blimey, the fuck’s his problem?” Seamus exclaimed as he and the rest of the fifth-year Gryffindors left the Charms classroom to find an irate Malfoy terrorizing a first-year girl into hysterics. Apparently she’d dropped an ink bottle that had smashed and soiled the hem of his robes. Catching sight of Harry glaring at him across the hall, Malfoy snarled.

“All right there, Scarhead?” he growled, clenching his wand so hard that his knuckles whitened.

“As a matter of fact, Malfoy, I’m not,” Harry shot back, glowering. Hermione rushed over to console the weeping girl, whom Malfoy had apparently entirely forgotten about as soon as he’d caught sight of Harry. “Whatever your problem is, you need to get it sorted. You can’t just go around traumatizing whoever you feel like just because someone shoved your Nimbus up your arse.” Mutterings around them grew in the hallway until they were surrounded by a dull buzz and Professor Flitwick came out of the classroom, possibly to see what was causing the commotion.

“Mr. Potter? Mr. Malfoy? Is there a problem?” he blustered, looking so thoroughly uncomfortable about mediating an argument that his face burned crimson.

“No, Professor,” Harry replied shortly, watching Malfoy turn and walk away in a swirl of robes. He wasn’t fool enough to pick a fight in front of a professor, but Harry got the feeling that whatever was going on, it wasn’t about him personally. He, Ron, and Hermione set off for Gryffindor Tower, where they had a free period scheduled for studying.

“Gone completely mental, hasn’t he?” Ron asked, looking incredulous. “I thought that first-year would have to be shipped off to St. Mungo’s, she was in a right state!”

Hermione looked uncomfortable. “Even for Malfoy that was nasty; do you suppose it was more than just the stress of exams?”

“I don’t know, and I don’t care,” Harry said flatly, stopping in front of the portrait of the Fat Lady, whose mouth was full even as she engaged in a conversation with her friend Violet. She was gesturing wildly, knocking her wineglass from the table, and fell beneath the painting’s frame in a fit of giggles with her feet in the air, surrounded by voluminous skirts. “Pumpernickel pasty.” The portrait swung forward to admit him as she toasted him, the rest of her body still hidden from view as Violet cackled.

The common room was full of students muttering to themselves and grimly poring over reference books. There were small plates of food everywhere from students who hadn’t even left the room for meals, and a small first-year girl was muttering to herself with wide eyes, swishing and flicking her wand as though her life depended on it.

“Oi, Hermione, can I get those notes from Binns’ lecture on the Mermaid Massacres from you again?” Ron asked, giving her what he must have thought was a jaunty, winning smile.

No, Ronald, when are you going to learn to pay attention?” Hermione asked looking quite exasperated, though they each knew she’d end up giving in.

“It’s not my fault I’m not as clever as you, and you’re so much better at summarizing things than I am, and I’ve got the penmanship of a troll, and—”

“Oh, save it,” Hermione said sharply, though she couldn’t hide a small smile as she rummaged through her bag for the necessary pages. Ron thanked her profusely the entire time until a seventh-year from a nearby table told him that she’d shove the notes somewhere he’d never be able to read them if he didn’t shut his face, at which point he went silent, his face burning.

Harry left them and hurried up the staircase to his dormitory to take a quick nap, though he knew he’d regret not studying for his Potions essay later ("the Elixir of Morality is effective yet still highly dangerous under certain conditions—discuss"). He opened his curtains to slide into bed and yelled in surprise when he landed on top of something that was already sitting in it.

“Harry Potter must not be angry with Draco Malfoy,” Dobby whispered anxiously, clutching what Harry recognized as the filthy black sock with which he’d been set free from the Malfoy family. Memories returned to him; memories of Dobby lamenting how the Malfoy family ordered him to carry out extra punishments or had otherwise treated him horribly.

Harry blinked. It took him a moment to register what Dobby was talking about, since Malfoy was more often a bastard than not, but he remembered their exchange earlier that day with renewed annoyance. “What do you mean, I shouldn’t be angry with him? He’s been a prick to me for nearly five years, now he’s gone round the bend terrifying anyone he can get his hands on. I’ll say whatever I like to him, thanks.”

“Dobby is knowing things about Draco Malfoy,” the house-elf said mournfully, bowing his head. The tone of his voice was hushed, as though afraid he’d be overheard, and his eyes kept darting back and forth across the room while he wrung the sock ever tighter. “Bad things. Draco Malfoy is… Is wanting to stay at Hogwarts.

Blinking again and trying to understand how this was in any way his problem, Harry rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. Apparently he wasn’t going to get a nap after all. Bollocks. “Is that supposed to mean something to me?”

Dobby’s mouth fell open as though Harry had committed some grievous personal wrong, his bulbous eyes filling with tears. “But Harry Potter is the most brave, the most noble! Dobby’s old masters are bad Dark wizards, Draco Malfoy is not a bad Dark wizard, and he is not wanting his family now, sir! And Master Draco is liking—” Dobby stopped dead in the middle of the sentence, looking horrified as his eyes searched the room. It was unclear whether he was more upset over his usage of Malfoy’s old title or whatever he’d been about to say, but he went wild. Without warning he grabbed the lamp from Harry’s bedside table and began beating himself over the head with it, yelling, “BAD DOBBY! BAD DOBBY!

“Stop it, Dobby!” Harry shouted, wrestling the lamp away from him. Dobby bowed in a lop-sided fashion, his eyes going cross-eyed.

“Dobby thanks Harry Potter, sir, for his great kindness. Dobby almost told Draco Malfoy’s secrets, sir,” Dobby said dazedly, and Harry’s eyebrows drew together.

“What secrets? What’s he hiding? Is it about Vol—” One of Dobby’s eyes twitched violently. “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, then?” Harry asked, rolling his eyes. Dobby craned his neck as the sound of footsteps began beating their way up the stairs and disappeared with a CRACK! when Seamus entered the room before Harry could ask anything else. It was quite possibly the most bewildering exchange he’d experienced with Dobby yet, and that was saying something.

“Talkin’ to yerself, Harry?” he asked good-naturedly, dumping his books on his bed before shrugging off his robes in preparation for the nap that it looked as though Harry had to deny himself. “Careful now, or yeh’ll end up in a wing in St. Mungo’s wit' Malfoy!”

Perhaps, Harry thought to himself, mulling over his next course of action, that wasn’t entirely out of the question. It was times like these when his “saving-people-thing,” as Hermione had once called it, was downright maddening.

~*~

The next day found Malfoy in a much better mood; indeed, he was back to laughing with his clearly relieved friends at the table the next morning at breakfast, and Harry snuck glances at him in-between bites of egg. There was no obvious explanation for this switch in demeanor, and the one time he managed to catch Malfoy’s eye he was treated to a display of one of Malfoy’s more prominent fingers. Malfoy’s expression soon turned to one of inexplicable fear as an owl emblazoned with the Malfoy crest flew to his table carrying a thin letter and dropped it at his plate before swooping off.

With trembling fingers Malfoy slit open the envelope, oblivious to his happily chattering housemates, and read the letter enclosed within it. With each passing second his face lost color and only Pansy Parkinson seemed to have noticed; she whispered to him in undertones but he shook his head and got up from the table, waving her off.

“Harry, it’s none of your business,” Hermione murmured, casting a knowing glance at him. She sighed when he excused himself from the table to follow Malfoy; he couldn’t have gone far, he’d only just left, but Harry didn’t see him in the Entrance Hall. Echoing footsteps from a nearby corridor told him that Malfoy had decided to return to the dungeons; he pulled his Invisibility Cloak over his head—he’d taken to carrying it everywhere since Malfoy had begun acting oddly—and followed him in quick pursuit.

Basilisk fangs,” Malfoy hissed at the wall Harry recognized from his second year, and the wall opened to form the passage to the Slytherin common room. The wall began closing as Malfoy’s footsteps died away and he hurried to slip inside before it closed. The Invisibility Cloak didn’t catch in the wall but it was a near miss, and he fell over whilst trying to regain his balance. Once in the common room he made the familiar trek once more to the Slytherin boys’ dormitory, where Malfoy was sitting at the edge of his bed with his head in his hands.

Without saying anything, Harry tried to creep towards one of the other beds, but a high-pitched whistling noise filled the air as a Secrecy Sensor on Malfoy’s nightstand began vibrating wildly. Malfoy immediately jumped up, wand in hand, and shouted, “Who’s there?” Harry attempted to stay silent but jumped and swore when Malfoy cast a curse that shattered one of the lamps near him. “Potter? How the fuck did you get in here? I could have you expelled, you arsehole!”

Harry cautiously removed the cloak and faced Malfoy, his wand out at well. Malfoy’s eyes widened when Harry stowed the cloak under his robes, as though mentally piecing together how exactly Harry had gotten away with half of the things he’d gotten away with. “Listen, Malfoy, I just—”

“You just what? You just followed me like a tit and invaded my privacy, not to mention your infiltration of my dormitory? Wait until I tell Professor Snape—”

“Go on and tell him then, there’s fuck all he can do,” Harry shot back, trying to hide how unnerved he felt. In truth Malfoy was absolutely right, he was bang out of order and could very well be expelled for it. He didn’t even have any evidence of wrongdoing; Malfoy had just left breakfast… Could’ve been going to use the toilet, for all he knew… Merlin, he really hadn’t thought this one out. But Harry had never been one to back down, and this was no exception.

“Oh yes, I forgot, you’ve got your precious Dumbledore lapping at your arsehole. That Mudblood-lover was the worst thing to ever happen to this school, and now he’s fighting all of the famous Potter’s battles for him. Prince Potter, Ponce Potter, Perfect fucking Potter, can’t even tie his fucking shoes without ten wizards bending over to do it for him,” Malfoy snarled, spitting out parodies of Harry’s name with a vengeful spite he hadn’t yet encountered from Malfoy. In fact, Malfoy seemed to have forgotten all about telling Professor Snape anything, so intent was he on insulting the object of his scorn. “Even your fucking parents—”

“You shut your fat mouth about my parents!” Harry roared, pulling his wand hand back in preparation to cast a curse. “You’ve got no idea what it’s like—”

I have no idea? Your problems are nothing more than the superficial moans of a teenage girl compared to what I’m facing this summer! At least you’ve got somewhere to go home to, I can’t go back! I can’t even—” Malfoy shouted, and stopped suddenly, his face going white. “Just… Just leave me alone, Potter!”

“Why can’t you go home, then? Have your house-elves gone on strike? Hermione would love to hear that,” Harry said, laughing mirthlessly. If he’d been paying closer attention he might have noticed the wet sheen to Malfoy’s eyes but at this point he didn’t care, not after the attitude Malfoy had been subjecting everyone to for weeks. “You’re spoiled, you’re nothing but an arrogant, rich—”

“Shut up!” Malfoy cried, his typically composed face tight and pink with fury. “Just shut your mouth! You think it’s so easy being me? Do you?

Harry was stunned for a moment by this argument. How could it not be easy being Malfoy? He had the best of everything, he had both of his parents—granted, his father was a bastard, but his mother didn’t seem so terrible—Snape didn’t live to see him unhappy, he had friends… What could possibly be so difficult about Malfoy’s life? “Yeah, yeah I do!”

“Why don’t you find out then, with all that Gryffindor bravery of yours?” Malfoy spat, his eyes glittering dangerously. He turned his back on Harry to walk quickly to his wardrobe. A murmured series of Unlocking Charms opened the doors which revealed a cavernous inner compartment, housing three large cauldrons which stood perched inside, their contents bubbling and giving off wisps of steam.

“What—… What are those?” Harry asked nervously, and Malfoy shot him a feral grin.

“You only need to worry about this one,” he said softly, gesturing to the largest of the three. It sat in the middle with contents like mud, bubbling gently, and Harry knew it on sight.

“That’s Polyjuice Potion,” he said in a strangled voice. Suddenly he felt very unsure of his footing. What exactly was Malfoy suggesting? That they trade places? Certainly not.

“Take ten points for Gyffindor,” Malfoy said softly, smirking. “Go on, then. Haven’t you ever wondered what it’s like to be me? If it’s really so easy, it shouldn’t be a hardship on you. There’s about a month's worth here for both of us.”

Harry decided he didn’t want to know what Malfoy was doing with two months worth of Polyjuice Potion; truthfully, a small corner at the back of his head had always wondered what it would be like to be Malfoy. Brilliant at Potions, doted on by his House and his parents… He didn’t see the harm in it.

“Why not?” Harry said, displaying an outward show of bravery that he didn’t remotely feel. Something didn’t feel right, but he didn’t dare show any weakness in front of Malfoy.

“Brilliant,” Malfoy said quietly, and the predatory look on his face gave Harry the awful sinking feeling that he’d just made a deal with the devil. The analogy wasn’t far from the truth, he thought, as Malfoy conjured two glasses and filled them each with a small measure of potion. Malfoy pulled one of his hairs from his head and dropped it into one of the glasses where it fizzled shortly, turning the potion a metallic silver. He crossed the room to yank a hair from Harry’s head and dropped it into the other glass; in seconds the potion shone a clear, bright gold. “Go on, then.”

“But Malfoy—” Harry said desperately, a deep lurching in his stomach telling him that this was a horrible idea.

“What?” Malfoy barked, his face livid, though there was a brief flash of desperation in his eyes as he shoved Harry’s glass forward. “Do you want me to go to Professor Snape? He hates you more than I do, he’ll see you’re expelled for this! Is a month as me really worse than that?”

Harry set his jaw in grim determination, raising his glass to toast Malfoy. Malfoy’s lips thinned in a triumphant smile as he raised his own and tilted it back, swallowing with a pained grimace. Instantly upon swallowing the potion Harry felt his skin begin to melt and stretch; his arms and legs shot outward by a few centimeters, his nose lengthened, and his robes were suddenly far too roomy for his slim frame. The glasses perched on his nose suddenly made his vision fuzzier, more distorted, and he took them off with a pale hand whose slender fingers were manicured to perfection.

Malfoy groaned from across the room as his own body shortened and thickened, his hands covering his face as he leaned against the wardrobe for support. The platinum hair he prided himself on became a shaggy brown mess and he groped blindly for what Harry suspected were his glasses, which he got close enough to Malfoy to hand over.

Being Malfoy was the oddest sensation; even as he looked in the full-length mirror across from Malfoy’s bed he didn’t believe it. Malfoy stood next to him in his body inspecting Harry’s build and stripping with impunity when he discovered that his robes were too tight.

“Hand over your robes, Potter,” Malfoy said in that defiant tone of his that sounded entirely wrong coming from Harry’s mouth, holding out one of Harry’s hands. He stood with a lack of any form of self-consciousness in silk jocks, and Harry was irritated to see his face looking at him in a way that suggested he was stupid and only barely suffering his presence.

“I’m not that rude; ask me nicely and I’ll consider it,” Harry said, grinning when Malfoy scowled.

“Please-may-I-have-your-robes-Potter,” Malfoy bit out, grumbling when Harry shrugged off his robes and stood before him in jeans and a t-shirt. It was odd to see his own face dimly register surprise. “You wear Muggle clothes under your robes?”

“Not all of us enjoy going around practically naked, Malfoy,” Harry replied blandly, smirking. He glanced at the mirror—yes, now he looked more like Malfoy. “Are you just constantly optimistic that new conquests are going to pull you into broom cupboards all over the castle? Horny little ferret, aren’t you?”

“I suppose you’ll find out soon enough,” Malfoy shot back, and the grin on his face was enough to make Harry’s falter. Was he serious? He couldn’t be serious. “By the way, Potter, we’ll have to cross paths again in a week.”

“Why?” Harry asked, taking off the jeans that were now too short for him and the shirt that was a bit too tight across the chest and handing them over before pulling Malfoy’s robes on. He felt naked without his clothes on; something about just wearing robes didn’t feel… Right. It was awkward; what if they gaped? But Malfoy’s robes had inner clasps that fastened all the way down. Oh. Well, that was that sorted, then.

“The potion only lasts about that long, I’ve found certain ingredients that alter the composition of the potion which not only make it fast-acting but also longer lasting. Certainly makes it less of a bother to have to remember to take it on time every hour… So aside from giving you three weeks’ worth of potion, I’ll need to give you the password to the wards that allow entrance to my room. Not to mention the Manor. Or did you forget that the summer holidays are nearly upon us?” Malfoy asked, raising an eyebrow as his lips turned up at the corners in a way that suggested he knew perfectly well the significance of the length of time they’d agreed to.

Harry’s jaw dropped; he couldn’t believe he’d forgotten that the summer holidays were so soon. But maybe he could just not take the potion at the end of the week, maybe—

“Don’t even think about going back on this, Potter,” Malfoy said with a grim smile, shutting his wardrobe and performing a complicated series of Locking Charms that Harry didn’t catch. “The potion won’t wear off until three hours after the Hogwarts Express has left King’s Cross; you’ll already be at the Manor by that point.”

Harry’s stomach sank and his eyebrows creased; he noted dimly how odd it was to see Malfoy perplexed about anything. “You want to be me so badly that you’d spend three weeks with Muggles unable to do magic?”

“I don’t want to be you,” Malfoy snarled, though the animosity didn’t appear to be directed at him. “I just want to be anyone but myself, and you were the only one stupid enough to take me up on it.” With that obscure parting phrase Malfoy turned and walked back towards the common room in a swish of robes, and Harry couldn’t help but grin.

“Hey, Mal—Er, Potter!” Harry called, and Malfoy turned back around with one eyebrow raised, not responding. Harry caught up to him and held out his Invisibility Cloak, against his better judgment. With a hushed exhale Malfoy took it reverently, inspecting the shimmering cloth. “If anything happens to it I’ll kill you, but Ron likes to borrow it to go down to the kitchens and nick food. He might get suspicious if you don’t have it.” Malfoy raked over it with his eyes, nodding, though it didn’t appear as though he was actually taking in anything Harry said. “Also,” he began shortly, and Malfoy finally tore his eyes from the cloak as he tucked it into Harry’s robes, “try not to walk like you’ve got your wand shoved up your arse.”

“Pardon me for having proper posture,” Malfoy muttered, though he couldn’t hide a grin. “And take care of Crabbe and Goyle, will you? They’re decent blokes really. Dumb as a bag of bezoars, but they’ll do whatever you tell them.”

“Cheers,” Harry said, and they stood there awkwardly for a moment before Malfoy shoved past him and disappeared down the corridor from the common room. Harry noticed the time on one of the clocks on the wall and panicked as he rushed to his Potions exam, which he was currently fifteen minutes late for. They had double Potions exams with the Sly—… Er… Gryffindors today, and he didn’t even want to imagine what Snape would do to him for it. Come to that… What was Malfoy’s exam schedule? He’d just have to get it in Potions.

It dawned on him with cruel irony that he was more worried right now about Snape’s reaction to his lateness than he was about three weeks at Malfoy Manor. Forgetting Dobby’s warning, forgetting his looming exams, forgetting everything but what the first three weeks of summer would hold, he rushed to Potions like his life depended on it.

If only his parents could see him now…

Chapter Text


Author's notes: Harry and Malfoy see whether they can fool each others' mates into believing they're... Well, each other. Can they do it?


Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

A/N: For Not Hardly. Also, a few WARNINGS for this chapter. While Harry and Draco ARE the main ship, they will each have one homosexual experience on the way to finding each other. It is related to plot, it’s not just gratuitous, and will crop up later. So be prepared for that; in this one there is a scene at the end of the second part where Draco has a sexual encounter with someone who IS NOT Harry.

Second, this chapter may get confusing. The first part is Harry’s perspective, the second is Draco’s. I despise the choice they made in the films with a passion, so for the intents of this fic when they’re Polyjuiced they sound like each other. Harry has Draco’s voice and vice versa. Also, the manner in which I refer to the characters and even in which they refer to themselves or each other changes depending on whose perspective it is, so be prepared for that as well! Sorry, I’m just trying to anticipate any confusion and clear it up first!

That said, enjoy! Readers and reviews are, as always, greatly loved and appreciated.

~*~

When Harry entered the Potions classroom for his O.W.L.s at almost half past in a breathless rush, the entire room turned to face him. Ron looked over his shoulder to give him what was undoubtedly the foulest look he’d ever received from his best mate, besting even the looks he’d been given after being named the fourth Triwizard Champion the year prior. Hermione was focused intently on her exam, but Pansy Parkinson was glancing pointedly at him from across the room. Students from each House were gathered in scattered groupings so that the wizards and witches of the Wizarding Examinations Authority could better observe them. Peeves had apparently set loose a massive horde of furious pixies in the Great Hall at the end of breakfast, and rather than upset testing conditions they had decided to move the examination to the dungeons.

“Mr. Malfoy,” Professor Snape said silkily, rising from marking final papers at his chair as Harry entered the room. It took great effort not to instinctively look around for Malfoy as he realized just in time to whom Snape was speaking, but he stood his ground to face his punishment. No student was ever late to one of Snape’s exams unless they wished to face an extremely undesirable detention—he’d probably hand the student to Filch for torture, and sign the Approval for Whipping Forms himself with a spring in his step. And this wasn’t even an exam; it was an O.W.L, meaning that any measure of ineptitude would reflect poorly on Snape. This could be disastrous.

“My apologies, sir,” Harry began, trying not to appear nervous as he aped Malfoy’s stilted manner of speaking, “I just—”

“Instructions are on the board, Mr. Malfoy. I suggest you set up your cauldron next to Miss Parkinson’s, and mind that you remember the time of your next exam more accurately, for I cannot assure you that the examiners will be so lenient again,” Snape said, the barest sharp edge gracing his tone. A nearby wizard nodded his approval, marked something on a clipboard, and wandered across the room.

Suddenly Snape’s expression twisted and Harry knew that Malfoy was in for a rude shock as he hissed loud enough for Malfoy to hear from a few cauldrons away. “Mr. Potter, however, apparently feels himself above such petty engagements for mere mortals as exams, and felt it appropriate that he should arrive late, inconveniencing his fellow students!”

It was odd to see such an expression of naked shock on his own face as Snape sneered down at Malfoy with such hatred that a herd of hippogriffs would have surely been stunned in its tracks. With a mild feeling of triumph he watched as the back of his own neck burned while Malfoy busied himself with preparing the Milk of Human Kindness, a disastrously tricky potion typically distributed at Christmastime to promote peace and goodwill towards men. Unfortunately the mood-controlling properties of the potion lead it to be categorized as a controlled substance, since too much could result in reckless optimism and brewed incorrectly could lead the drinker into a suicidal depression. Harry misread the directions at one point and nearly added the wrong amount of crushed holly leaves at the wrong time, which lead to Pansy “accidentally” stepping on his toe with a loud cough so that he’d pay attention before it was too late.

After the allotted time was up the examiners collected vials of each potion and sealed them with wax, affixing to each a tiny scroll which bore the test-taker’s name and locking them in a magically secured trunk. Harry remembered with a happy jolt that he’d only have to take half of Malfoy’s exams, as they’d each taken at least four the week prior. Malfoy was speaking in hushed tones with Hermione, and for some reason it twisted something in Harry’s stomach to see them getting on.

“I’d like a word with you, Potter!” Harry spat, feeling an absurd rush in the way his last name felt through Malfoy’s lips.

“Get stuffed, Malfoy,” Malfoy shot back, though he motioned Hermione to go ahead and hung back as the rest of the fifth-years passed them with varying expressions of nausea or relief. “What do you want, then?”

“I don’t know your schedule, so I don’t know which exams you’ve got,” Harry said, rolling his eyes. It suddenly occurred to him that Malfoy might be taking a class that he wasn’t and felt a brief rush of panic. The same thought seemed to have occurred to Malfoy, whose face had blanched—Harry would have laughed at seeing his own face so pale if he hadn’t been so worried.

“I have an Astronomy O.W.L. on Wednesday and History of Magic on Friday; aside from that I’m finished, since I was excused from my Care of Magical Creatures exam. My father didn’t feel it wise for me to continue with such a pointless exercise after having learned nothing all year from that useless oaf. What about you?” Malfoy asked snidely, and Harry suppressed his urge to punch Malfoy in the face.

“Divination and Astronomy on Wednesday,” he said tightly, and Malfoy snorted.

“Divination? That shouldn’t be too difficult. What a load of bollocks,” Malfoy muttered to himself, grinning. “Fair enough, then. I’ll see you at the end of the week, P—Malfoy.”

“Not if I don’t see you first, Potter,” Harry snarled, watching grimly as Malfoy whipped around the corner and out of sight. Dimly he thought that Malfoy seriously needed to stop walking like such a ponce or they’d be found out for certain, but this thought was suppressed by a grumbling in his stomach.

By the time he reached the Great Hall the professors had apparently succeeded in ridding the castle of its poltergeist-induced infestation, and Pansy Parkinson was beckoning him urgently to the Slytherin table. Crabbe and Goyle were stuffing their faces—no surprise there—and Blaise Zabini was having a spirited discussion with a fifth-year that Harry thought he’d heard mentioned as Theodore Nott at one point. After briefly debating what to call each of them, he settled for calling Blaise and Pansy by their first names since Malfoy seemed to know them best, and the rest by their surnames.

“Back so soon from your liaison with that Gryffindor pissworm, darling? One might think you were one of them, the way you carried on,” Pansy said shrewdly, and there was a note of speculation to her voice that told Harry that out of all of them, she would likely prove the most troublesome. He would definitely have to tread carefully around her.

“That brainless tosser? I wouldn’t call it a liaison so much as an unfortunate encounter with an attention-seeking prick,” Harry sneered, and found it easier to think of this conversation like insulting Malfoy, but in reverse. Pansy appeared to be satisfied as she dug into her Cornish pasty, at any rate, and Zabini tapped him on the shoulder with his fork.

“Theo reckons he’s found one of the secret passages out of the castle, it’s behind this mirror—”

“On the fourth floor, yeah, it’s been caved in since third year,” Harry said without thinking, and mentally kicked himself when Zabini’s face registered thinly veiled shock. He quickly attempted to mask this blunder, smirking with haughty contempt and raising an eyebrow. “Don’t be stupid, Blaise, do you really think my father would have sent me to Hogwarts without any knowledge of the secret passages? Really, if you’re going to think like a Mudblood, you might as well snap your wand in half and go join them.”

Zabini glared down at his plate with dark cheeks though he appeared to have been satisfied with the answer as Crabbe and Goyle grunted their amusement; they seemed to believe that he was Malfoy, anyway. Did Malfoy really treat his mates this badly, that they expected him to be such a bastard to them? He really hoped that Malfoy wasn’t abusing his mates, but then upon looking across the hall he saw Malfoy as himself say something that made Ron laugh uproariously and Hermione smile slyly behind a copy of Witch Weekly. Something deep in his stomach twisted horribly, and it took a second time of Pansy repeating herself before he heard what she’d said.

“—Hospital Wing, Draco? You look dreadful; is the stress of exams turning your stomach? Perhaps Madam Pomfrey can give you a Calming Draught or something,” Pansy said, her eyebrows knitted in concern as she reached across to feel his forehead. Harry felt a sharp stab of satisfaction when he saw Malfoy’s face falter at the Gryffindor table when he caught sight of Harry interacting with his mates, but it only lasted a moment before he went back to his conversation. Harry scowled.

“I’m fine, Pansy. Thanks.”

“Are you sure?” she asked worriedly, grabbing her wand presumably to perform some basic diagnostic spells to make sure he wasn’t ill.

“I said I’m fine! You know Father, if I went to the Hospital Wing over something as small as exams he’d think I was losing my nerve,” Harry snarled, improvising and hoping that this would indeed be the case. If the previous times he’d met Lucius were any indication, masked or unmasked, he certainly could imagine Lucius’s displeasure at Malfoy displaying any sign of weakness. Pansy bit her lip and looked to the side before she continued nibbling at her pasty, darting anxious looks at Harry. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to snap. I’m just under a lot of pressure at home.”

“I’ll bet you are. You’ve decided that you're doing it, then?” Theodore Nott said grimly, and the mood of their portion of the table suddenly turned very dark indeed. Crabbe and Goyle stopped eating, Zabini choked on a bite of his sandwich, and Pansy went very white. They all looked to Harry as though expecting to see something significant in his face, and Harry—thoroughly bewildered—chose to school his face into a neutral expression of arrogant indifference.

Harry took a sip of pumpkin juice to give himself time to mull over Nott’s words. Clearly something significant was going on, something he had no idea about. How to respond, then, without giving away that he had no clue what they were talking about? Was it something regarding Voldemort? The more time he took to respond the worse it appeared for him, so finally he looked Nott in the eyes with a glower, his upper lip curling. “Well if I have, I’m not likely to go shouting about it in the Great Hall for everyone to hear, am I, you wanker? Really, Nott, what’s gotten into you? You’re as bad as Blaise with your stupid questions.”

Nott looked supremely shocked, though entirely unsurprised to be so thoroughly dressed down, and quickly nodded his submission. “Of course, Draco, I didn’t mean—I only thought, something so important—”

“That’s why you should leave the thinking to me,” Harry said scornfully, almost shocked by how easy it was to slip into such a cruel façade. Pansy laid what appeared to be a comforting hand on his shoulder which Harry briefly covered with one of his, and an odd flash went through Zabini’s eyes that he couldn’t identify. Trying not to worry himself over such a cryptic conversation, Harry hoped that Malfoy was faring better at the Gryffindor table, for both of their sakes.

~*~

“But really, Harry, what d’you think Ferret-face is up to? I can’t believe that slimy git didn’t even get detention for being the latest of all of us, and Snape gave you a bollocking in front of everyone! I’ll bet he’s trying to find some way to cheat on his O.W.L.s,” Ron said nastily, shoveling a forkful of steak and kidney pie into his mouth. “Ffnnhcin chhnt.”

“Ronald Weasley, if you ever say that again without food in your mouth I’m going to hex your lips shut,” Hermione said primly, looking warningly over the top of her magazine at him. “Not to mention I’ll write to your mother. Such language!”

“You don’t think Malfoy deserves it, G—Hermione?” Malfoy asked, giving himself an internal kick for nearly slipping so badly. That would never do; he’d have to work much harder to remember to use their first names from now on or they’d definitely get suspicious. Luckily each of them seemed too absorbed in their respective tasks to pay the mistake much attention.

“Oh certainly he deserves it, especially for all he’s put you through! Not to mention his racist leanings; all that “pure-blood” nonsense he’s been force-fed from infancy by his father. I almost feel sorry for him, I mean, he never really had a chance to turn out decently, did he?” Hermione asked, though she didn’t appear entirely sympathetic. Malfoy fought to control his temper as his lips pressed into a thin line and busied himself with a tray of biscuits that appeared as the lunch course vanished. “It’s only a matter of time, really.”

“A matter of time before what?” Malfoy asked irritably, nibbling on the corner of a biscuit as he enviously eyed Harry with his mates across the room. Smarmy bastard, that git could never fool Pansy into believing that he was Malfoy… Could he? She had certainly cozied up to him, and the stupid ponce didn’t appear to be putting up much of a fight. Hopefully Blaise didn’t get too—Oh, fuck. Blaise. And the way their schedules had worked out, he probably wouldn’t even see Potter until the end of the week. He took a long sip of pumpkin juice to calm his nerves.

“Before Lucius or V-Voldemort—shut up, Ron—demand that it’s time for Malfoy to be Marked,” Hermione said in a low whisper, and Malfoy immediately spat his pumpkin juice across the table.

“Nice one, Harry, that must’ve been three feet at least!” Seamus crowed, laughing as Neville Longbottom wiped a fine mist of pumpkin juice from his face, flushing.

“Sorry, N…Neville,” Malfoy said, stumbling over the name. Neville was a pure-blood, so naturally he’d grown up knowing his family’s history, but the Longbottoms were a pack of blood-traitors so he’d hardly needed to remember to call him anything remotely familiar for a very long time. Neville shrugged and grinned good-naturedly.

“No problem, Harry. Hey, did you maybe want to go over our Astronomy notes? I keep mixing up the names of Jupiter’s moons, and Professor Sinistra intimidates me,” Neville said nervously, smiling in an embarrassed sort of way. Malfoy chewed his lip and grudgingly nodded, though he attempted to smile and imagined it came out as sort of a pained grimace.

He must have been right because Ron leaned over and muttered, “Blimey, good luck with that one, mate. Three Knuts says he drives you mad in an hour.”

Malfoy grinned and came back suddenly to what they’d been discussing before his rather embarrassing outburst. Granger certainly deserved her reputation as the brightest witch in the year, but if she had any information to support her theory she could soon find her life in peril. Not that he cared, of course, or that it wouldn’t be already when the Dark Lord came back to power, but he was admittedly shocked that she’d pieced together the situation so quickly.

He was silent on the way up to Gryffindor Tower, and felt both a distinct apprehension and a gnawing curiosity at the thought of what it would be like to finally enter the inner sanctum of his sworn enemies, the House of bleeding hearts and Mudbloods alike. For some odd reason he got the feeling that Potter had been in the Slytherin common room before; he certainly seemed to know his way around. But it was still strange to be following Potter’s best mates up staircases and down corridors to a portrait of a massive woman in a grotesque pink swath of fabric that wasn’t a dress so much as a curtain with sleeves.

Pumpernickel pasty,” Ron said casually, and the portrait swung open. Malfoy stood in front of the portrait hole for a moment, debating whether he actually wanted to go inside.

“Are you going in or not?” a woman’s voice barked from the other side of the portrait, and he realized that it must be the giant in the pink curtain. “I’m not going to stay open all day, you know!”

“Keep your knickers on,” Malfoy muttered, and he only barely got through before it shut quickly on him, nearly catching the toes of his shoes in the edge. He grumbled as Ron roared with laughter, leading him upstairs to what he assumed was the fifth-year boys’ dormitory. As they passed through the common room he noticed that it was similar to his own, only much brighter with higher ceilings and with a great deal more—ugh—red. The armchairs looked the same, though—hang on, these twats got a fireplace at the top of the sodding castle, and Salazar couldn’t be bothered to put one in a dorm that he’d fashioned under a bloody lake? Draco scowled at the injustice, though Ron, who was prattling on about something or other, didn’t appear to have noticed anything out of the ordinary with his best mate. So far, so good.

“And then she goes, ’I wish I could, Ron, but I have a boyfriend’—like I don’t know she’s been snogging Michael Corner for three weeks, the little slag, but her mate kept eyeing me so I thought I might try for her,” Ron said, apparently completely oblivious to the fact that Malfoy wasn’t paying attention at all. He just said things like, “oh, yeah,” and “that’s right,” and “what a bitch,” at regular intervals and Weasley appeared to be satisfied. How self-absorbed were Potter and his mates, that they didn’t even listen to each other when they had conversations?

What was he supposed to be studying, again? Astronomy? Fuck that, he’d just use Potter’s cloak to sneak down to his dormitory and grab his moving model of the galaxy in a glass ball; that O.W.L. would be simple. He might even get a better mark for Potter than Potter would for him! And Divination? Merlin, Potter had it easy. He might’ve taken softer classes himself if Father had allowed it, but his nose had been rubbed so hard against the grindstone since he could read (at age three, no less) that he was surprised there was anything still on his face.

Malfoy collapsed back onto Potter’s bed and drew the hangings shut for a nap when Weasley finally left him in peace, and moments later it looked as though someone was shuffling for the entrance. Two freckled hands finally pulled the curtains apart and Seamus Finnigan popped his head in with a grin.

“All right, Harry?” he asked, climbing into the bed without pretense. Almost as though… Almost as though he’d just climbed in many times before. Malfoy suddenly felt extremely uncomfortable, especially when Finnigan leaned over him without a word and began snogging him within an inch of his life. Malfoy pushed him back instinctively and sat up, nearly knocking his head against Finnigan’s in the process.

“What the fuck d’you think you’re doing?” Malfoy gasped, touching his lips and not altogether displeased by the sensation. Finnigan looked supremely puzzled and then grinned, nudging Malfoy’s legs apart with his knees. Malfoy was shocked to see himself—in Harry’s body—hardening as Seamus ground their hips together, biting Malfoy’s neck in a manner that he wasn’t accustomed to but certainly didn’t mind.

“Tryin’ to play hard to get, Harry? C’mon, y’know it’s just a bit of a stress reliever, nothin’ serious, like. No need to be such a girl about it, it’s not like we’ve never done this before,” Finnigan murmured, and Malfoy gasped when Finnigan reached into his robes and fumbled with the button on Harry’s jeans to stroke his painfully stiff cock, grunting as he attempted to simultaneously shove his trousers off with his other hand. “Go on, then, give it a bat.”

Malfoy was entirely shocked by how casual this seemed to be—that Potter, of all people, was not only gay, but had informal encounters with his housemates! Unless Finnigan was the only one… And then Finnigan leaned forward to take Malfoy’s… Well, Harry’s cock into his mouth, but it was entirely Malfoy who got the feel of it, all exploring hands and firm lips, his head tipping back as Finnigan’s tongue made long, gentle licks over his bollocks, and he forgot to think about anything. Finnigan rolled his tongue around the head of Malfoy’s cock as he stroked the length of him and Malfoy climaxed with a groan, spilling shamelessly into Finnigan’s mouth. To his credit, Finnigan rather sportingly swallowed and wiped his lips with the back of his hand, grinning.

“Not gonna pretend that wasn’t quicker than usual, mate! Been holding out for me, have you?” Finnigan asked with a laugh, and Malfoy came back to himself with a jolt. What if Potter had someone, and he’d just bollocked it up for him? Then again, what did he care? Finnigan’s mouth was legendary, and he wouldn’t trade the experience he’d just had for all the Galleons in the Malfoy vault. For his first blowjob, it was one to remember, that was certain. He and Blaise had tried to mess around, but it had never gotten far. Blaise had always balked before anything of significance happened.

“Or you’re just that skilled,” Malfoy replied, and Finnigan smirked in a way that made him feel nearly ready for another go. In a way that he’d almost prefer seeing on the face of the person he was pretending to be… Malfoy banished the thought with a shake of his head; he was being incredibly stupid. A blowjob from the Golden Boy? Saint Potter? Surely not. How vile. And yet…

“Oi, Harry, I can see you’re a bit preoccupied,” Finnigan said quietly, pressing two fingers softly to Malfoy’s forehead. “Forget it this time, alright? Consider it an O.W.L. gift from one of your mates.”

“Thanks, F… Seamus,” Malfoy replied awkwardly, fighting the blush that was attempting to spread across his cheeks. Him, blushing? Surely not. Finnigan left without another word and Malfoy was left alone to his thoughts, tossing back and forth in the bed.

What other secrets was Potter hiding?

In trying to save himself, had he inadvertently made the stupidest decision of his life?

If only his parents could see him now…

Chapter Text


Author's notes: Harry finds out why exactly Malfoy was so keen to switch places, to disastrous results.


Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

A/N: For Not Hardly. WARNING; another NON H/D sexual encounter. They WILL BE the main ship, but are not quite yet. Readers and reviews are, as always, greatly loved and appreciated.

~*~

For the most part, the week passed fairly uneventfully. Malfoy’s final O.W.L.s came and went, and luckily Pansy helped Harry cram for History of Magic; she, like Hermione, appeared to be one that took notes for her mates while they took naps or gazed listlessly out the window. Harry had just slid into Malfoy’s bed—which had satin sheets, of all things—when the curtains opened and Blaise Zabini peeked inside.

“Mind if I have a word?” Blaise asked, and something was off about the way he said it. Like it meant something beyond the surface of the words. Harry shrugged noncommittally and quirked one eyebrow in the way Malfoy was so fond of doing, shoving over so there was room for Blaise. “Have you thought any more about what we discussed last week?”

Immediately Harry racked his brain for anything to which Blaise might be referring, and his lips twisted as he tried not to appear nervous. “I can’t recall. I’m exhausted, those O.W.L.s were brutal. Was it important?”

Blaise laughed, though it seemed forced. He bit his lip and scratched the back of his neck with one hand, looking away. “Maybe. I suppose. A bit. I mean, I was just asking your advice about blokes, and being… Well, you know, bent, and what it’s like. You must have noticed I haven’t had a girlfriend since we started school.”

Harry had to work hard to conceal his immediate shock, but it was nearly a losing battle. Malfoy was queer? Malfoy? They were talking about the same Malfoy, right? He’d never have guessed the way Malfoy carried on, and this certainly wouldn’t have been the time he’d picked to find out. “Oh! Oh, of course. Well, what did you want to know?” he asked awkwardly, staring fixedly at his bed hangings and refusing to look at Blaise. Not that Blaise wasn’t fit, he certainly was—he had a very strong face, with high cheekbones and thick lashes, and his body was naturally slim. But… He was Malfoy’s mate.

“Well, I guess… I just wanted to know what it was like. To… To, to mess around with a bloke,” Blaise mumbled.

In any other circumstance he would’ve jumped on it, but it just seemed… Wrong, to deceive Blaise like this. “Listen—”

“Just a bit of snogging, Draco, I just… I feel so torn apart. Mum’s after me to produce an heir and every time I think about kissing girls I feel sick to my stomach, and not in a nervous way, but I feel legitimately ill at the thought of it. I have to know—please, Draco, please help me,” Blaise implored, and when Harry allowed himself to look over Blaise looked truly miserable. Harry sighed.

“Just… Close your eyes, then,” he said gruffly, and Blaise complied. He sat up on his knees facing Blaise and put one hand on Blaise’s cheek, tilting his head down as he gently pressed their lips together. Blaise gave a strangled moan and threaded his fingers through Harry’s hair, crushing their lips against each others’ and lifting Harry’s night shirt with his other hand, digging his fingernails into Harry’s side. Attempting to get a breath in before he suffocated Harry leaned back and Blaise straddled his legs as he traced Harry’s hipbone with his thumb, digging in, and it was all Harry could do not to grind their hips together. It was almost too much, Malfoy was far more sensitive around his hips than he was, and something about having enough hair for Blaise to pull was just this side of pleasure before it became painful, but it felt so deliciously hot. Seamus was never this forceful.

“Fuck, Draco,” Blaise moaned, licking a path along Harry’s lower lip as Harry’s tongue darted out to meet it, swiftly exploring and tangling and Blaise tasted like chocolate and that mouth of his was just fucking incredible. In a corner of his mind Harry wondered how Malfoy would actually kiss—not that he ever planned on kissing him, of course, not that he wasn’t fit, but he might not say no to a—

“Fuck!” Harry gasped as Blaise’s hand found its way into his trousers, and it was with a feverish urgency that Blaise stroked him, as though desperate to find himself while his hand was down someone’s trousers, desperate to prove to himself that nothing was wrong with him. He was clearly confused; Harry remembered how it had been before he’d figured out he was bent, bemused by the fact that he wasn’t turned on by tits, stunned when he enjoyed Seamus rutting into him after Quidditch until he’d screamed his name in the showers.

He was jolted from his reverie by Blaise yanking particularly hard at his cock, their mouths still locked together, and Harry chuckled darkly as he reached into Blaise’s trousers to return the favor. Harry grabbed Blaise’s wrist and tore it away, wrenching their mouths apart as he lowered his mouth to the achingly hard length before him. If he hadn’t been so practiced at it he might’ve been choked when Blaise thrust his hips forward with a sharp cry, but he wrapped one hand around the base and proceeded to swallow every inch he could manage, his tongue sliding against the underside and lapping at the head as it swirled back down. He smiled as Blaise murmured unintelligibly, moving his hips against Harry’s mouth with desperate cries, and Harry stroked Blaise’s cock as he wet his middle finger and returned with his attentions while circling Blaise’s entrance, questing and pressing about until finally—

“FUCKING HELL!” Blaise shouted, and Harry felt Blaise clench around his finger as he came, his jaw slack, and he fell back against the headboard with a soft groan.

“So, definitely a poof, then, would you say?” Harry asked, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. Blaise gave a weak laugh and swatted his arm, still breathing raggedly.

“Fucking hell, mate,” he repeated softly, his chest rising and falling rapidly. “No wonder you Beat for the other team if that’s the payoff.”

Harry laughed and pulled his trousers back up. That had been far more pleasant than he'd been expecting, and fuck if he knew how Malfoy had resisted him for all this time. It seemed like they hadn't shagged yet, the way Blaise had carried on. “Glad I could help.”

Blaise grinned and looked at the bedspread before he put one hand on Harry’s shoulder and bit his lip. Without a glance behind him he parted the curtains and left, and Harry shook his head and smiled, casting a Cleaning Charm on his hands and lying back down in bed. Suddenly the curtains parted again and this time Pansy came in without warning, casting a quick Silencing Charm around them as the curtains fluttered shut.

“You know, I’ve been worried about you lately, Draco. What with everything that’s happening this summer,” Pansy said heavily, though something in her eyes didn’t seem right. They were flat and cold, and something speculative gleamed from them. He knew he couldn't afford to underestimate her, and she was downright unnerving at the moment. “I thought I might visit you at the Manor just to make sure you’re alright. What were the passwords to the wards again?”

Fighting not to show his panic, Harry tried to appear thoughtful. What would the passwords be? Were they genetically activated? Well obviously he was fucked if they were, hopefully it was just a regular password. He'd paused for too long, though, and the corners of Pansy's eyes twitched. “You know, they were just changed, I’ll have to owl Father and ask him.”

“Oh, of course. I forgot that he changes them each summer. What are they usually? Quidditch teams, or something?” Pansy asked, beaming at him with a smile that didn’t reach her eyes.

“Yeah, I think so,” Harry said uncertainly, scratching his right arm as he tried not to show any signs of his nervousness. What had he done wrong? How had she figured it out? He didn’t know how, but somehow she knew he wasn’t Malfoy, and things were about to get ugly.

With the coldest expression he’d ever seen she pointed her wand at him with a snarl.

“Who are you, and where is Draco Malfoy?”

Harry reached for his own wand, trying not to hyperventilate, but she pressed the tip of hers against his chest where it burned a hole in his nightshirt. He was absolutely fucked, even if he’d managed to Stun her he’d have to face the rest of Slytherin House, and he had no idea who was in the dorm that might have seen the red light from the Stunner. Of course they’d recognize it, the entire House had practically been taught the Dark Arts from infancy.

“I said,” she growled, forcing the wand harder against him, “who are you, and what have you done with Draco Malfoy?

“Pansy, it’s me,” Harry pleaded, and she bared her teeth as she opened her mouth to cast something. “Stop! Stop, I’ll explain!” he shouted, and she shut her mouth, though the glare remained. “I’m Harry Potter, Malfoy and I switched places earlier this week.”

“Bollocks are you, Draco hates Potter! I’m not some fucking Hufflepuff, don’t lie to me!” Pansy shouted, and the slightest edge of fear shone in her eyes.

“I’m not lying! I’m Harry Potter! The password to Gryffindor Tower is ‘pumpernickel pasty’, I ride a Firebolt, for… For fuck’s sake, my Patronus is a stag!” Harry yelled. What could he say to convince her? What would she know that he could use to prove that it was actually him? He was beginning to fear for his safety and possibly his life if she didn't believe him.

“Everyone was in the Great Hall during your Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L., tell me something the whole year doesn’t know!” Pansy shot back, looking murderous.

“I’ve been shagging Seamus Finnigan for the entire term, no one else knows!” Harry replied frantically, sweat collecting at the small of his back as he tried desperately not to rouse her anger further. Pansy’s lips twisted at this remark and she lowered her wand with a thin-lipped smile.

“You’re wrong. Peeves heard you ages ago and told me about it the next morning after I paid him with a few trinkets. You can never have too much blackmail on your enemies, right?” Pansy said grimly, stowing her wand. Harry's eyes widened in shock; when the hell had Peeves been eavesdropping on them? Briefly he wondered if it was possible to Modify a ghost's memory. “But it does raise the question, why would Draco pick you of all people to take his place? Are you really just that stupid?”

“What do you mean, stupid? You haven’t cornered the market on blackmail, he had something on me as well,” Harry said sourly, and suddenly Pansy’s expression changed entirely. It looked almost as though… Almost as though she pitied him.

“You mean… You don’t know?” Pansy whispered, her gaze softening. “He didn’t tell you? How long are you supposed to be like… This?” she asked, gesturing vaguely at his person. Harry’s brow furrowed.

“About three and a half weeks, why?” he asked, and she swore as she looked to the side. What had gone wrong? Was it really that bad at the Manor? Was there something he hadn't been prepared for? From the looks of it he'd walked into far more than he bargained for, and he dreaded learning exactly what.

“That fucking arsehole, how could he? Not even you deserve to… Well, you might as well see it, then,” she said, and she ducked out of the curtains to rummage through Malfoy’s wardrobe. A few moments later she returned with the envelope Harry had watched Malfoy open at breakfast a few days ago and handed it to him without a word. He lifted the flap at the back of the envelope where the wax of the seal had peeled away and skimmed the page, his stomach turning violently in his expectation of the contents.

Draco,

Your presence is required by the Dark Lord immediately upon your return from Hogwarts on the 15th of July. It is with pride that I inform you that he has chosen you to be Marked, and that you are to carry out a mission of his choosing in the coming year. I trust that your diligence in your studies will be reflected in your O.W.L.s and we await your safe arrival at the Manor. Your mother sends her love.

Lord L. Malfoy

With trembling hands Harry allowed the letter to fall to the bed and when he looked up Pansy looked almost sympathetic, which was quite a trick for someone who hated him so much. He supposed there were some things one wouldn’t even wish upon their enemies.

“He really didn’t tell you?” Pansy asked softly, reaching over to touch his arm. Harry flinched and she moved to take her hand away but he held it there, wishing more than anything that it was his thick fingers and not Malfoy’s pale, slender ones that covered it. This was just not fucking on, this was... He'd call it evil if it weren't so melodramatic. He could understand why Malfoy had wanted to be anyone but himself, but to use him? It wasn't just cowardly, it was cruel.

“No,” Harry said shortly, feeling as though he might vomit. So this was why Malfoy had been so keen to switch places. He was trying to escape. But wouldn’t Lucius figure out what had happened as soon as the real Draco was back, Markless? Or was Malfoy planning on defecting? What was going on? “But I’m going to have to—” And without warning he pitched forward and vomited loudly on his bed, his stomach heaving as stars burst behind his eyes. Pansy Vanished the wet pool and cast a quick Cleaning Charm on the bedspread, her eyes misty.

“Don’t get me wrong, Potter. I despise the way you refused Draco in the beginning, and I hate the way you bend over for Dumbledore and the rest of those fools, and I think you’re a brainless tosser who doesn’t deserve the hero worship he gets from the entire wizarding world, but I don’t want you dead, or Marked. Merlin, what was he thinking? No, I know exactly what he was thinking, but you? Lucius will see through it in a second! Not to mention the Dark Lord! Oh, how could he?” Pansy asked, looking quite torn. “I mean if it’s between him and you then obviously I’d rather it not be him, but… You don’t deserve this,” she whispered, her head falling forward into her hands.

The curtain was suddenly snagged aside again as Blaise greeted Harry with a grin, but his face fell when he caught sight of Pansy. “Oh. I’ll just leave you…” he said awkwardly, though he brightened slightly when Harry looked pointedly at Pansy and shook his head. The curtains fell shut again.

Pansy looked up with a start. “You did not shag Blaise,” she said angrily, her eyes narrowing.

“Not… Not exactly,” Harry said weakly, and she slapped him across the face. He moved his jaw slowly, attempting to lessen the sting.

“You absolute twat! What is wrong with the two of you? I swear, I… What did you say the password to Gryffindor Tower was? ‘Pumpernickel pasty?’ Oh, I am going to rip his—that is to say, your—hair out, I swear to Merlin,” Pansy said with a snarl, and without another word she flung the curtains apart and left. Objects outside of the dormitory shattered and crashed against the walls and after a moment everything was silent again.

“Fuck,” Harry said softly, unable to find any other words to vent his shock, his fury.

Fuck indeed. The next time he saw Malfoy, he’d kill him.

He didn’t know what kind of sentence he’d get for murdering himself if he happened to get caught in the act. Furthermore, would it be considered murder or suicide?

He decided he didn’t care.

Chapter Text


Author's notes: Malfoy's plot and motives finally come to light, and he doesn't exactly receive the response he was hoping for...


Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

A/N: For Not Hardly. I’m SO sorry this has taken forever, but it’s up now! Hopefully you all will enjoy it. Again, Uni has completely eaten my life, so I apologize profusely for how long this has taken. Readers and reviews are, as always, greatly loved and appreciated.

~*~

A loud commotion outside of the common room told Malfoy that something was amiss; he’d been studying for Potter’s Astronomy O.W.L. in bed when crashing objects and voices raised in alarm piqued his interest. With a furrowed brow he shut the book he’d been skimming through and walked out to the top of the stairs that lead down to the common room. The moment he entered and Pansy caught sight of him, he knew that she knew.

You,” Pansy said menacingly, pointing her wand at him. Immediately half of Gryffindor House drew their own wands, most looking nervous or spiteful or some mixture of the two. Suddenly everyone jumped when a blast like a cannon rang through the air and they turned to find Hermione at the top of the stairs opposite Malfoy.

“Return to what you were doing, everyone. Parkinson, did you need something?” Hermione asked calmly, as though Slytherins frequently showed up unannounced in the Gryffindor common room and destroyed their classmates’ possessions. A quiet hum filtered through the room as students watched the events taking place out of the corners of their eyes, but Pansy only nodded stiffly, gave Malfoy a meaningful look, and tilted her head to signal that he should join her. Hermione gave him an odd look and followed him down the stairs, keeping her eyes on him as they left the portrait hole. It shut behind them. They followed Pansy down one of the corridors to an unused classroom and Malfoy’s trepidation grew as they entered.

“Well, have you told Granger yet, Draco?” Pansy said without pretense, and Hermione’s jaw fell with a soft ‘oh’ of disbelief and confusion. Pansy rolled her eyes. “Don’t tell me you didn’t have any idea; I’d hate to think that your reputation as the brightest witch in the year is undeserved, especially with the way you’ve been besting us all in exams for years.”

“I knew it wasn’t Harry, if that’s what you mean,” Hermione said stiffly, her pride obviously bruised. She was taking in Malfoy’s appearance as Harry as if she’d never quite seen him before, shaking her head. “But I didn’t know who it was. I was actually planning on confronting him as soon as I could get him alone. You mean to say that this—is Malfoy?”

“He nearly got away with it, too,” Pansy said softly, and Malfoy knew that she was speaking more to him and to herself than Hermione. Whatever he was expecting from her, it certainly wasn’t this. How had she known? How had Potter gone and fucked it up? “I didn’t suspect anything until I caught him eating a pear tart at breakfast; Draco is allergic to pears, he breaks out in hives if he so much as touches one. I decided to make sure by asking him later how Malfoy Manor was warded; he couldn’t tell me. He folded more quickly than Nott in a game of Exploding Snap, didn’t even take ten minutes to break him.”

When Malfoy looked back at Hermione her hands were covering her mouth, and she reached out to touch him—but Pansy got there first. Her hand snapped across his face with a resounding SMACK! and he could practically feel the handprint forming where she’d struck him.

“You daft, daft twat!” Pansy shouted, her cheeks splotchy with fury. While she was typically catty with other witches her age and quick to snap in annoyance or derision, she was formidable in her ferocity. He couldn’t recall ever seeing her so angry, not even when they were seven and he’d thrown mud all over her pristine white frock while her parents were entertaining company. They’d both been beaten severely; it was a lesson neither of them had ever forgotten. But her anger then paled in comparison to what she was exhibiting now. “How could you?

“What’s going on?” Hermione asked slowly, looking from one of them to the other, her expression laced with confusion and growing alarm. “How could he what? And where is Harry?”

“Potter’s fine,” Malfoy said stiffly, eyeing Pansy as one might keep watch on a dragon that was pacing back and forth in a murderous rage. “I assume he’s back in the Slytherin common room reveling in how the other half lives. And I assume Pansy is referring to—”

“Your date this summer with the Dark Lord,” Pansy hissed sardonically, and Hermione gave a small scream. “Or did it slip your mind? I imagine between studying for your O.W.L.s and brewing Polyjuice Potion there were some details that slipped through the cracks.”

“Date? With Lord Voldemort? You mean—Malfoy’s getting Marked?!” Hermione gasped, and Malfoy might have laughed at the expression on her face if the moment hadn’t been so serious. He was in a very bad situation and he knew it; if nothing else, Slytherins were all about self-preservation, and this particular turn of events did not swing any odds in his favor. If only Potter had waited another week to go and ruin everything…

“Get your knickers out of a twist, Granger, nobody’s getting Marked,” Malfoy said with a disdainful cockiness he didn’t feel, his stomach sinking with every passing moment. Pansy was looking at him like she’d never seen him before, and Hermione looked ready to faint. At that moment his own likeness burst into the room holding a piece of old parchment and folded it quickly before stowing it into his robes. Without warning Harry launched himself at Malfoy and began hitting every inch of him that he could reach before an invisible barrier wrenched them apart to opposite sides of the room. Pansy and Hermione each had their wands out.

“Now, now, let’s just talk this out, everyone,” Pansy said calmly, as though moments before she hadn’t been ready to beat the piss out of Malfoy herself. Harry was breathing heavily and glaring at him with a hatred that Malfoy had only ever seen on his father’s face. For a few moments there was a very charged, awkward pause.

“Nobody was supposed to be Marked,” Malfoy finally said shortly, refusing to meet anyone’s eyes. “But I didn’t have any other options. I couldn’t go back, Pansy. Father would have cast the Imperius Curse on me and compelled me to get the Mark. I’m not even of age; I couldn’t go back,” he finished miserably, and with some small measure of surprise he noted that he was holding back tears that threatened to fall from his eyes at the slightest prompting. It was desperation, pure desperation that had driven him to this point. There were simply no other options.

“So you shafted me instead of facing your own problems? Did you even think of what it would mean for me? Did you think Voldemort would get some perverse kick out of Marking his mortal enemy?” Harry shouted, and for once in his life Malfoy was honestly out of things to say. “Well, did you?”

“It’s my neck I was thinking of, not yours!” Malfoy replied sharply, his cheeks going pink with emotion. “Do you have any idea what it’s like growing up a Malfoy? Never making decisions of your own volition? Never taking the classes you want, or picking your own mates, or doing anything just because you want to? I tried to chart my own course once and you told me to fuck off, so don’t you try to pin this all on me!”

“So now it’s my fault that your father’s a nutter?” Harry asked incredulously, ignoring either by choice or by personality defect the fact that Malfoy had once actually genuinely tried to be his mate.

Malfoy stifled a shout of exasperation. “Trust you to miss the point of everything I just said.” But it was clear that Pansy and Hermione at the very least hadn’t missed anything; Pansy was nodding as though her personal suspicions had been confirmed, and Hermione’s face was one of pity. Harry’s arms were crossed over his chest in defiance and he refused to meet Malfoy’s eyes. “Don’t you get it, you stupid sod? I don’t want to be my father. I don’t want to be a Death Eater. And once, a very long time ago, I wanted to be your friend. And now I’m fucked on all counts, and I was desperate, and yes, I fucked you over in the process. And I’d do it again because I can’t go back, I just can’t.” It took him a moment to realize that the wet trails on his cheeks were tears, and he touched one of them in disbelief. He hadn’t cried since he was very small; Father would have punished him for it. Tears were a sign of weakness.

Harry was silent for a moment, his jaw set in the grim determination Malfoy had seen before when he was being forced to undertake some task that was going to take all of his strength and cunning to accomplish. It was at that moment that he knew that Harry would agree, and for the smallest sliver of time he envied Harry’s force of will, his strength to confront the things he feared, when Malfoy preferred to run from them. “Fine. But if we’re going to do this, no more tricks. No more lies. I need to know how I can fool your father and Voldemort into thinking I’m you or they’ll likely kill us both.”

“I can help you with that,” Pansy said softly, looking quietly impressed by Harry’s strength of character. “We’ve known each other since we were in nappies.”

“Oh, but Harry, are you sure? This will be so dangerous! I could go to the library and try to find an antidote to the Polyjuice Potion,” Hermione said anxiously, wringing her hands in fright.

“Don’t be daft, Granger, any antidote is going to take more than a week to prepare,” Pansy said snidely, rolling her eyes. “How long does your augmented version last, Draco?”

“A week,” Malfoy said shortly.

“Well then you and Harry can just switch back at the end of the week!” Hermione said brightly, looking relieved. “He’ll only need to spend a few hours as you at Malfoy Manor, won’t he?”

Malfoy and Pansy shared a look and Hermione faltered, looking from one of them to the other. Harry frowned and stared down at the ground.

“I’m afraid it’s not that simple,” Malfoy said shortly. “Once I’m there—or rather, once Potter’s there—my father will alter the wards so that I’m not permitted to leave until after the ceremony. Our best bet would be switching Potter and I directly beforehand when the wards are down so that the Death Eaters can come to bear witness, because at that point the wards will be re-activated to allow anyone of the Malfoy bloodline to enter. Security will be more lax. Unfortunately, that’s—”

“Incredibly dangerous!” Hermione said with a gasp, and what little color was left in her face immediately left it. “Harry, are you sure that you—”

“There’s no other way,” Harry said bitterly, balefully looking up at Malfoy with thinly concealed wrath. It was an expression that looked at home on his own face but seemed strange to have reflected back at him. “We’re stuck this way for roughly the next month. I’ll just have to deal with it. You said you could help me, Pansy?” Pansy nodded her assent. Harry turned to leave and stopped, turning his head to almost look over his shoulder. “I don’t want you telling him a damn thing about the Dursleys, Hermione. He can find out on his own. He’s earned that.”

And he left, leaving the rest of them in varying states of anxiousness in his wake. Pansy cleared her throat and followed him in silence, leaving Malfoy and Hermione alone.

“I hate you,” Hermione said softly, and Malfoy was honestly shocked by the cold fury in her voice. “Harry has had enough to deal with his entire life, and now you’ve gone and put him in more danger than he’s ever managed to put himself in. I’ve never once hated you, Malfoy, not for calling me a Mudblood, or insulting Harry or Ron’s families, or abusing your privileges as a Prefect. But I can’t forgive you for this. I can appreciate your situation, but I can’t forgive you.”

It was this more than anything else that rendered him melancholic, though he waited until she’d left to truly break. When she did leave, he collapsed against the wall and sobbed quietly into his arms. He didn’t have any other choice; couldn’t they see that he didn’t have any other options? If he refused the Mark his father or the Dark Lord would kill him, he didn’t think that even his mother would stand in their way. He didn’t even know how she felt. He was trapped, trapped by his circumstances, and it killed him inside. His entire life he’d been waited on hand and foot, groomed for this moment, and now that it had finally arrived he was balking. Finally he was making his own decisions. But he’d damned someone else in the process. Even if that someone was Potter, Potter didn’t deserve this.

It was well after midnight when he finally made it back to the Gryffindor common room, padded quietly up the stairs, and collapsed into bed. He didn’t have any other options, so he’d chosen the only way he could figure to free himself.

But if he was truly free, then why did he feel so trapped?

Chapter Text


Author's notes: Harry and Malfoy make last-minute preparations for their swap, and Malfoy arrives at the Dursley's'.


Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

A/N: For Not Hardly. More apologies for how long this has taken, but midterms are upon me and my time is just being completely consumed right now… Hopefully you’ll enjoy it! I tried to make it a bit longer to compensate. Readers and reviews are, as always, greatly loved and appreciated.

~*~

“Well, that should do it,” Pansy said heavily, pulling her wand away from Harry’s and Malfoy’s clasped hands where rivulets of blood were still delicately streaming in droplets to the floor. She stowed the wand in her robes and dusted off her hands, her lips set in a thin line. “He should be able to get past the wards at Malfoy Manor now. Now, one more time, Potter—”

“Is this really necessary?” Malfoy sighed, casting his eyes skyward. He quailed at a scathing look from Pansy and knew he’d overstepped himself when she placed her hands on her hips and twisted her lips into a snarl. They all were on edge today, he didn’t know why he was being such an arse; probably nervousness. Not that he’d ever admit it.

“I do not want to hear a single word from you, Draco Malfoy. It’s your fault he’s in this mess in the first place, and if he ends up dead because you were too much of a coward to face your father, so help me—” Pansy growled, but Hermione raised a hand to silence her, shooting her a meaningful look.

“We have six hours until we have to catch the train,” Hermione said quietly, and it was clear by the pale cast to her face and the tightness around her lips that she was trying very hard to keep herself composed. Tears glistened in her eyes that she kept trying to explain away as dust, and every time she did so Harry would wince down at the floor. Malfoy looked away, setting his jaw with grim resolve. “One more time, Harry.”

“My name is Draco Lucius Malfoy. My primary house-elf’s name is Pippin. My birthday is 5th June. Father Lucius, mother Narcissa. My bedroom is on the third floor of the Manor, the fourth door to the left on the right side of the hallway. Dinner is promptly at seven every evening; I am allergic to pears and green beans, and I prefer Cabernets and Rieslings. I am not to speak unless spoken to. Should I find myself in mortal peril, I am to send my Patronus to Dumbledore’s office and try not to get myself killed before reinforcements arrive,” Harry parroted mechanically, adding in a few more details, and Pansy nodded every so often.

“Who is this? What do you call him?” Pansy asked, gesturing to a sneering, scowling photograph of Lucius Malfoy.

“Why, that’s Father, of course,” Harry said, with a sneer so authentic that Malfoy felt himself nearly take a step back.

“Now there’s only one thing left,” Hermione said nervously, stepping forward. “I’ve been reading about this for days, and I think I’ve been through just about everything there is to say on wand lore… Harry, Malfoy, your wands, please?”

With a mild sense of nervousness Malfoy handed his over and Harry followed suit; Hermione placed them on a desk in the unused classroom and waved her wand over them as she crooned a gentle melody. Slowly the notes blended and overlapped and the wands began to change; Malfoy’s lengthened and Harry’s whittled down, the colors subtly darkened or lightened, and when she was finished he picked up his own wand, it just looked… Exactly like Potter’s. Harry did the same with his new hawthorn wand, swishing it through the air and nodding approvingly at the puffs of blue smoke it trailed into the air.

“You’re bloody brilliant, Hermione,” Harry said softly, inspecting his wand with enthusiasm.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” Hermione said modestly, her cheeks flushing a delicate pink. “Wand Transfiguration is a highly experimental branch of magic, so I’m just glad it worked correctly. I mean, the worst case scenario would have been nothing happening, but that would have meant so much more trouble in case you both actually had to switch wands…”

“No, it’s very good work, Granger,” Malfoy said quietly, running his fingers along the wand. He tapped it against one of the desks and it sparked lazily. “Thank you.”

“And you, Draco?” Pansy asked, raising her eyebrows as she watched them scrutinize Hermione’s work.

“Me? Oh… Harry James Potter, parents deceased. I live with my Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and their son Dudley. My cousin. Not allergic to anything. I live in the second bedroom at the top of the stairs on Privet Drive in Little Whinging. I am not allowed to perform any magic whatsoever, even minor magic, because I will be expelled from Hogwarts and expose us all,” Malfoy recited, and stopped, frowning as he bit his lip. “That’s all I know.”

“Damn right, that’s all you know,” Harry growled, and when Malfoy looked over abashedly Harry was staring at his wand with disgust that Malfoy suspected was directed at him. But really, how bad could Harry’s home life be? Surely he was waited on hand and foot like a prince, like… Well, like he was at home with the house-elves. I mean, they were Muggles so of course they wouldn’t have house-elves, but his aunt and uncle must dote on him.

“Which one is related to your parents?” Malfoy asked suddenly, realizing this hadn’t yet occurred to him. “Your aunt or your uncle, I mean.”

Harry looked mildly taken aback for a moment, possibly by the fact that Malfoy cared or had thought to ask. “My aunt,” he muttered. “Aunt Petunia. She’s my mother’s sister. I wouldn’t advise bringing it up though.”

“I wasn’t planning on it,” Malfoy shot back quietly, beginning to be rather annoyed by everyone. Had they all forgotten that he had chosen this path so that he wouldn’t have to be branded with the Dark Mark? And it wasn’t as though Harry hadn’t gotten out of worse scrapes in the past. Really, they were making a rather big deal of it all. “Well, shall we pack?”

Pansy shot him a warning look but Harry nodded gruffly. “Might as well,” Harry said sourly, and shoved away from one of the desks.

“Wait, Potter—” Malfoy said, fishing into his robes for three flasks of the Polyjuice Potion. Harry turned and he walked over to hand them to him, unable for some reason to bring himself to meet Harry’s eyes. “Any final questions?”

“How do you sleep at night?” Harry asked, shaking his head as he took the flasks and cradled them under one arm.

“Naked, on a feather bed,” Malfoy replied without thinking, and Harry’s cheeks flushed considerably. Pansy hastily turned a laugh into a cough and left the room with Harry, and he watched his own white-blond hair whip out of sight. It was only after Hermione waited a few moments to burst into hysterical giggles that he realized that he may not exactly have answered the question that Harry had been asking.

~*~

It was silent on the train journey back to London. Ron, who was completely oblivious to anything out of the ordinary, busied himself with stuffing his face with sweets and reading up on the latest Cannons statistics in the wizarding magazine, Quality Quidditch. Hermione had buried her nose in a book, though she kept shooting furtive glances toward Malfoy that were slowly driving him mad.

’Would you stop?’ Malfoy scrawled on a scrap of parchment, taking a break from writing in his journal. He tore it from the page he was writing on and passed it over, scowling.

’I’m just worried!' Hermione wrote back hastily, biting her lip. ’So much has the potential to go wrong, I just hope we’ve prepared the both of you enough!’ A bump in the train caused Malfoy to hit the back of his head on the wall behind him and he grimaced, rubbing the spot where he’d hit. The trolley witch opened the compartment door at that moment and smiled merrily.

“Anything from the trolley, dears?” she asked brightly, gesturing towards a large array of sweets and cakes. Malfoy, who had changed into awkwardly loose-fitting Muggle clothes even for someone who was used to robes, dug around in his pockets for a few loose Galleons.

“Some Sugar Quills, please? And three Cauldron Cakes,” Malfoy said, his mouth watering as she handed them over. If this was to be his last wizarding meal for who knew how long, he wanted to make it good. Hermione bought a substantial number of sweets herself and he wondered how she would eat them all until she passed a few over to Ron, who ate them gratefully.

“Don’t worry, mate, we’ll send you loads of sweets like last summer. Mum’s bound to make more of those mince pies you like anyway, just send Hedwig over and we’ll put you right,” Ron said through a mouthful of sweets, his cheeks bulging. Malfoy frowned; why would he need to send Potter’s owl anywhere for food? He’d almost forgotten the owl until Hermione shrieked at the last minute and ran off somewhere, only to return ten minutes later with the bird in tow. Hedwig, apparently, was now resting peacefully beside him in her cage.

“But why—” Malfoy began, but Hermione cut him off.

“So, Ron, how are the Cannons doing?” Hermione asked over him, handing Malfoy a sandwich which he bit into resentfully.

“Getting slaughtered, bottom of the league,” Ron said brightly, turning one of the pages. “They’ll get them next time, just you wait.”

“Why do you like the Cannons? They’re a rubbish team,” Malfoy said, frowning at the cover of the magazine where Viktor Krum was frowning and waving at an assault of flashing lights.

“They’re not a rubbish team, they’re just a bit… Well…” Ron said, his voice tapering off as he stared out the window. After a moment he picked back up again, and his voice had the tone of reciting a treasured memory. “On my eighth birthday, Dad told me we were going out, just the two of us. To do something special. Usually every year birthdays are a big family event with everyone, but sometimes they’d get so busy that they’d just kind of… Forget me, or Fred and George would pull something and Mum would be so busy shouting at them that she’d ruin my cake, or they’d go off on holiday to visit Bill or something. Everyone else’s birthday went fine, it’s just mine that would get overlooked sometimes.

“But on my eighth birthday Dad woke me up at the crack of dawn and told me to get dressed, and that he had a surprise for me. We took two brooms over to Wimbourne and watched the Cannons play the Wasps in a league game; Dad bought me sweets and a set of Cannons robes. It ended up being the only match the Cannons have won in the past ten years. I’ve supported them ever since,” Ron said quietly, his thumb gently tracing over the players in their blazing orange robes that were jostling one another good naturedly on the page.

Malfoy bit his lip and looked out of the window, feeling as though he’d intruded on something private. This was something that Potter should have heard, not him. It felt almost as though he’d walked in on Weasley naked, he felt so awkward. Hermione elbowed him gently and he jumped, startled. “That’s great, mate, I can see why you support them,” he replied, forcing a genuine smile onto his face. He tugged on the shirt he was wearing, which probably could have easily fit Ron and Hermione as well as a troll, and wondered why it was so massive on him. Surely Potter was never this large, he looked practically malnourished sometimes.

“We’re nearly there,” Hermione said, jolting him and Ron from their reverie, both lost in separate streams of consciousness. “Be sure to write, will you, Harry?” she added pointedly, and Malfoy nodded, dragging one hand through his shaggy, unkempt brown locks.

The train hissed to a gradual stop and steam billowed outside of the windows as the doors sprang open. Chattering students hugged their friends and wished them good holidays, grabbing their trunks and departing onto Platform 9 ¾ to greet their families. Malfoy briefly watched his signature blond hair disappear as Harry left the train. Taking a deep breath, he grabbed Harry’s—his—battered trunk and went with Hermione through the wall to the Muggle world and onto the platform, his eyes scanning the crowd for this Uncle Vernon character.

“Over there, by the pillars,” Hermione whispered out of the corner of her mouth, and Malfoy’s eyes widened when he caught sight of him. What a massive blob of a man! Surely he tried to dress well enough for his size, but really, he was half the size of an Erumpent for certain! Hermione rubbed his back and gave him one final tight hug that was strangely comforting considering he couldn’t really stand her under normal circumstances. She wasn’t entirely useless after all, then, was she?

Ron clapped him on the back and said something over the roar of noise that he couldn’t decipher before rushing off to meet a clan of gingers, all of whom waved in his and Hermione’s direction. He waved back awkwardly, smiling, and Hermione rushed off to speak to them. Malfoy pointed at Uncle Vernon and Ron’s mother’s expression briefly soured when she glimpsed him through the crowd, though she covered it quickly with a warm smile. What was going on?

Malfoy made his way over to Uncle Vernon carrying Hedwig’s cage under one arm and his trunk in the other, his wand stowed in the back pocket of his jeans.

“Took you long enough, boy,” Uncle Vernon said scathingly, turning towards a strange pair of moving black stairs and climbing onto them. They brought him up to another level, and Malfoy was afraid for a moment to step onto them. “Get a move on! We don’t have all day!” Uncle Vernon barked, and Malfoy jumped.

“C-coming, Uncle Vernon,” he said, taking a chance and stepping onto one of the moving stairs. It carried him upward and the trunk pulled on his arm until he was forced to take it along for the ride; they both arrived safely at the top. After he looked around and took in his surroundings he felt mildly impressed with himself. This Muggle business was no trouble at all!

“Get your ticket out, boy! We need to get out of the gate,” Uncle Vernon growled. What ticket? And why was he in such a bad mood? Malfoy rummaged through his jeans but couldn’t find anything resembling a ticket. Harry certainly hadn’t given him anything. “Nevermind! We’ll just have to use my Oyster card… You’ll be cutting the grass in the back garden every day for the next two weeks to pay it off, mind! Not to mention painting the trim on the house,” Uncle Vernon said, chucking darkly. He touched something on a machine, gave Malfoy a plastic card, and walked through. Malfoy followed suit, though it took him a few times before he pressed it the right way.

Finally they made it to the car and Uncle Vernon opened the boot for Malfoy’s trunk, scowling when Malfoy put Hedwig into the back seat of the car. It was really quite cramped; did Muggles actually regularly travel this way? Immediately Uncle Vernon turned to a radio station and turned it up when Malfoy climbed inside, which suited him fine. He didn’t feel like talking to this rude Muggle anyway. Hedwig made a soft cooing noise from the back seat and Malfoy reached in to stroke her beak. The way back was long, and he was physically and mentally exhausted when he climbed the stairs to Potter’s room, after being hissed at by a skinny woman who told him to take off his shoes and hadn’t offered him anything to eat.

His eyes closing as soon as his head hit the pillow, Malfoy realized suddenly that he’d never felt so alone.

Chapter Text


Author's notes: Harry arrives at Malfoy Manor, and explores everything at his disposal...


Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

A/N: For Not Hardly.

~*~

Trying as best as he could to slow his rapidly beating heart, Harry stood at the entrance to Malfoy Manor clutching a designer trunk that, when opened, expanded into a magical traveling wardrobe wherein all of Malfoy’s—his—possessions were currently stored. Lucius Malfoy raised one eyebrow from beside him and idly ran his thumb over the top of his walking stick, pursing his lips before rapping smartly on the heavy wooden door. The door opened seemingly of its own volition with an ominous thud as it swung wide against the wall, and Harry watched as an old house-elf genuflected deeply beside it.

“Welcome home, Masters,” it squeaked deferentially, bowing its head. Lucius shrugged off the cape he was wearing and carelessly tossed it on the elf’s head, strolling into the house with an air of entitlement so thick that Harry nearly felt claustrophobic. It took only a single step into the house before three house-elves hurried forward to take his trunk, divest him of his traveling cloak (why he’d needed one he hadn’t understood), and offer a tray of ripe strawberries and sparkling white wine. The wine he sipped briefly before making a face and deciding he’d rather stick to Butterbeer, though he did take a strawberry as he entered the foyer.

The ceiling appeared to stretch upward for miles, and the chandelier that hung high above them was ornate and glittered with the luster of thousands of sparkling diamonds. A marble fireplace was set into one of the walls, looking opposite a massive staircase whose wrought-iron handrails were some of the most intricate he’d ever seen. Above the fireplace hung a portrait of Malfoy and his parents that had to have been the size of the screen in a movie theatre, flanked by a line of gilt mirrors that stretched to the floor. The stone floors were covered in a rich, dense carpet of interwoven patterns in deep reds and purples.

“Dinner is promptly at seven. Your mother is thrilled to see you,” Lucius said shortly, rolling up the cuffs of his dress shirt as a house-elf crouched to shine his already impeccable shoes. “I trust your O.W.L. performance was exemplary?”

Realizing he’d actually have to speak now, and unsure he wanted to trust his voice in the company of a man for whom he felt such bitter loathing, Harry nodded. “Yes, Father.”

“Excellent. Go wash up for dinner,” Lucius said, waving one hand as he conjured a copy of the Daily Prophet and walked leisurely into the next room, sipping a steaming cup of tea. Harry didn’t know whether to feel annoyed or relieved that he was practically being ignored. Lucius didn’t appear to pay any more attention to him than was expected by civility. Deciding to ignore this, Harry walked up the stairs to his new room, a distinct feeling of unease settling over his shoulders as one of the house-elves peeked around the corner and vanished out of sight with a squeak. Where had these new house-elves come from? Weren’t house-elves supposed to be difficult to employ, even for wealthy wizarding families?

When Harry arrived at Malfoy’s room he took a deep breath before whispering the unlocking incantations and tracing the protective charms on the door. It opened with a “click,” and Harry let out an audible sigh of relief before he walked inside. Surprisingly, it looked like the average bedroom any teenage boy would have—if that boy were absolutely, disgustingly wealthy. The room itself was probably the size of the entire first floor of the Dursleys’ house on Privet Drive, but it wasn’t the size that struck him—priceless Quidditch memorabilia hung decoratively on the walls in shining glass cases. Harry felt his jaw drop as he took in the uniforms of Jacques Dubois (the Seeker who held the current world record for fastest time ever catching a Snitch), Florin Tomescu (whose undefeated Seeking record of over four hundred consecutive caught Snitches had launched his career into the Hall of Fame), and Gareth O’Donnell (the youngest Seeker ever to play for an international team, at fifteen years of age), along with moving pictures beside each case of a genuinely smiling Malfoy shaking hands with or throwing his arm around the shoulder of each of Harry’s Quidditch idols. Malfoy had a rather nice smile, Harry noted idly, tracing over Tomescu’s signature with awe.

The rest of the room was equally extravagant; Malfoy’s wardrobe extended inward at least the length of a Quidditch pitch with separate rooms for formal wear and Muggle clothing branching from the main section, and each wall was covered in mirrors. Malfoy hadn’t been joking about the feather bed either; it was massive, encompassing a decent amount of one corner of the room, and the bedding was so soft that he felt he could sink into it and be lost for days.

“M-Master Draco is finding the room to his liking?” a timid voice asked from the doorway, and Harry spun to find a cowering elf clutching the bed sheet wrapped around its frame with shaking hands.

“Don’t you knock, Pippin?” Harry asked angrily, terrified for a moment at what might have occurred had he been caught drinking the Polyjuice potion or engaging in some other suspicious activity that was un-Malfoyish enough to risk giving him away. Pippin flinched as though he’d been struck, prostrating himself before Harry in a manner that was clearly in response to sheer terror.

“Pippin is sorry, Master Draco! Pippin is just being of help if Pippin is needed, sir! Is sir wishing for Pippin to iron his hands, sir?” Pippin squeaked, shaking in his position on the floor. Harry felt a stab of anger and for a brief moment wholly appreciated Hermione’s S.P.E.W. cause as he watched Pippin grovel desperately on the floor.

“Get up, Pippin. Go pick out something for me to wear to dinner from my wardrobe; I’m tired from my journey,” Harry said heavily, waving one hand in the direction of the cavern that held what was surely worth more than the Hogwarts professors’ annual salaries combined. Pippin nodded and quickly trotted over to the wardrobe, returning minutes later with floor-skimming bottle-green robes that reminded Harry of his own dress robes. With a bow, Pippin vanished from the room and left Harry to dress himself for dinner.

~*~

When he arrived in the dining room the first sight that greeted him was a heavy mahogany table that would easily seat thirty encircled by high-backed chairs; sterling silver place settings lay at one end surrounding steaming platters of venison, turkey, potatoes, bread, soup, and all manner of vegetable. Lucius and Narcissa were already seated in silence before candlelight, house elves obediently standing behind them should they require assistance. Upon Harry’s entrance Narcissa lit up and rose joyously from her seat, a wide smile on her face.

“Draco, darling!” she cried, rushing forward to hug him. “How was the end of term? You must tell me everything, I feel like we haven’t spoken in months!”

“Term was fine, Mother,” Harry said nervously, wrapping her arms around her thin frame and hugging her quickly. “My exams went well, I’m confident that I’ll be at the top of my class. Unless that Granger girl gets the top spot again,” Harry said, scowling. Narcissa licked her thumb and rubbed it against what he suspected must have been a smudge on his cheek while Lucius sneered in the background.

“What is the world coming to when a Mudblood can take higher marks in an exam than a Malfoy? Clearly you aren’t studying hard enough. Disgraceful,” Lucius remarked scathingly, carefully cutting a slice of meat and taking a bite. Narcissa frowned, gesturing for Harry to sit beside her at the table.

“Don’t be so hard on him, dear; it’s his first night home. Salad, poppet?” Narcissa asked buoyantly, clearly delighted that she wasn’t alone with her husband in the house anymore. Harry imagined that after a while it would be lonely living in such a massive manor, especially if the only other person inhabiting it who wasn’t scared to breathe in your presence was a callous prick. “I can’t imagine the state of that school food, you look positively frail!”

“I’m fine, Mother,” Harry said, feeling quite odd to have someone who wasn’t Hermione or Mrs. Weasley fussing over him; a mother—his mother, for the next few weeks. How ironic that the wife of a Death Eater was caring for the boy whom Voldemort was most anxious to see killed. The entire situation felt very surreal.

“Yes, leave the boy alone, Narcissa. He’ll eat what he likes,” Lucius said, taking a sip of wine from the crystal glass beside his plate. “You need to be in top shape for this summer, Draco. The Dark Lord has great plans for you.”

Harry nearly choked on the bite of mash he’d just put into his mouth. He took a sip of wine to clear his throat and grimaced apologetically at the odd look Narcissa was giving him. “I’m looking forward to meeting the challenge, Father,” Harry said in a strained tone, nodding. “Have you any idea what the plans might entail?”

“I’m sure the Dark Lord will reveal his plans in due time,” Lucius said in a tone that suggested the matter was closed, and Narcissa took a sip of her wine from beside him. They ate in silence for another hour, broken periodically by bouts of Narcissa asking Harry about Malfoy’s mates and school gossip. Finally the conversation wound down and Lucius excused himself to his study; Narcissa gave Harry one last kiss on the cheek before departing to her chambers.

By the time Harry climbed the staircase and opened the door to his room, Pippin had already turned down his comforter and left a plate of biscuits and a pot of tea on his desk in the corner. With trembling hands he poured himself a cup of tea as the realization that his first one-on-one interaction with the Malfoys had gone as smoothly as he could have hoped washed over him. They hadn’t detected anything out of the ordinary—granted, they had no reason to expect anything unusual.

Rubbing sleep from his eyes, Harry yawned and walked into the wardrobe where images of Malfoy surrounded him. With a mild and quickly growing interest, he unfastened the clasps on his robes and let them fall to the floor in a whisper of fabric. Malfoy’s pale eyes blinked back at him in the mirrors as he allowed his hands to roam over Malfoy’s frame, taking in the contours of his jutting hipbones and firm stomach. It felt… Dirty, almost, to be caressing the body he’d been given by chance, but strangely exciting as well. The silk boxers were the last to go, and he shoved them to the floor before he could convince himself otherwise.

The excitement had certainly traveled the length of his body, Harry noted wryly, gently running one finger along Malfoy’s cock and hissing at the sensation. It was longer than his by an inch or so, though the thickness was similar, and the base was buried in a thatch of pale curls from which the hard length jutted proudly outward. Malfoy’s bollocks were more sensitive than his were, he noted as he tugged gently on them, and sat back onto a luxurious raised, cushioned platform in the middle of the floor.

He watched as the barest hint of pink crept its way across Malfoy’s cheeks reflected in the mirror and his breath hitched when he grasped Malfoy’s cock with Malfoy’s pale, perfect hand and began stroking himself wantonly. It felt so wrong, so utterly filthy, and he absolutely loved it. The faster he stroked the more he felt a familiar coiling sensation in his stomach, his eyelids fluttering shut as a thin sheen of sweat began lining the small of his back, and in the darkest corner of his mind he wished it were actually Malfoy there that he was stroking and not a pale imitation of the shell in which he was housed.

But wait, where the fuck did that come from? He didn’t want Malfoy, he just needed a bit of release and he happened to be in Malfoy’s body. Besides, Malfoy had landed him in a situation that could very well kill him, and—oh, fuck, Malfoy could do anything he fucking liked if he’d stroke him the way he was stroking himself now, circling his thumb over the head of Malfoy’s cock and thrusting against his hand. This was without a doubt the most depraved thing he’d ever done, using someone else’s body for his own pleasure, but damn if it didn’t feel better than anything he’d ever done to himself before.

With a muffled shout and curled toes Harry collapsed back against the platform when his arm strength gave out, come shooting in spurts beside him from the rosy head of Malfoy’s spent cock. What a fucking adventure that had been! If he’d been told two months ago that in two months’ time he’d be wanking himself unconscious at Malfoy Manor in Malfoy’s body he’d probably have broken something laughing. Now as he lay in a dreamy, self-satisfied haze he wondered with a chuckle what Malfoy was currently doing with his body back in Little Whinging…

Chapter Text


Author's notes: After a shocking discovery, Hermione briefly visits Privet Drive to address Malfoy's concerns.


Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

A/N: Happy Thanksgiving, to those of you reading this in the States! For Not Hardly. Readers and reviews are, as always, greatly loved and appreciated.

~*~

Dawn had barely broken in golden streaks over the horizon when a swift rapping came upon Malfoy’s door, and as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes he tried to remember his dream, which was slipping from his memory like sand through an hourglass. Something about wanking in his wardrobe, though he certainly couldn’t remember ever having tossed himself off in there. What was the point, when he had a perfectly good feather bed? Still, something felt a bit off…

“Up, you lazy lay-about!” Petunia hissed from the other side of the door, knocking her knuckles against the door again for good measure. “It’s nearly half seven and if you ruin Diddy’s breakfast I’ll have you hoovering the sitting room until there’s no carpet left!” The school nurse had finally retracted Dudley’s diet; they had been informed the night prior in a letter, to Dudley’s smug delight. Why, Malfoy wasn’t quite sure, but he suspected money had to have changed hands somewhere since no dietician in the country would have denied that Potter’s cousin could stand to lose enough weight to make up another person. Perhaps if he just closed his eyes and pretended he were anywhere but in this miniscule, odd-smelling cupboard that these Muggles had the nerve to call a bedroom… Seconds later, a fist pounded on the door.

“Boy! If your aunt has to ask you again to get your ungrateful arse out of bed, I’ll knock the stuffing out of you!” Vernon roared from the other side of the door, and from down the hall Malfoy heard a simpering Petunia telling a sleepy Dudley to go back to bed, and that all was well. If only he could use magic… His fingers itched toward the wand he’d stowed beneath a conveniently loose floorboard but he shook his head and curled his hand into a fist, glowering.

“I’m up, keep your knickers on,” Malfoy called back sourly, grinning at the noise Petunia made, like a strangled cat. What was with these Muggles anyway? Why did Potter bow to their every command? Not being able to do magic was certainly something of a handicap, but it didn’t mean he was entirely powerless. It was all in the attitude. And attitude was something that Malfoy had no shortage of.

As soon as he entered the hallway, however, a thick hand closed itself over his neck and forced him back against the wall. Vernon’s very foul breath reached his nostrils before the sight of his face, which was now much closer than it should have been. “I’m warning you, boy—you may think that freaky school of yours makes you better than us, and God knows we tried to sort you out when you were younger and stamp out that nonsense, but you are sorely mistaken if you think you can cheek your aunt and me in this house. I suggest you toe the line unless you want to end up on the streets again, like you did after the incident with Marge. Understood?” Vernon snarled, and it was all Malfoy could do to nod, his breath coming in short gasps.

When Malfoy was released he rubbed his throat, grimacing. Perhaps this wouldn’t be quite as easy as he’d thought… Was this what Potter had endured all this time? Had he perhaps done something when he was younger to incur this kind of wrath? Drowned a family pet maybe? But none of the pictures on the mantle showed any pets… Nor any of Potter at all, come to that. And when had Potter been thrown out? It was an uncomfortable feeling, knowing all of this; for years he’d assumed that Potter had been raised a pampered little prince, like… Well, like he had been.

When he got down to the kitchen, thankfully no one was there. Hadn’t Petunia said something about making breakfast? He’d never even cooked soup, much less breakfast. There were house-elves for that sort of thing! Just in time he stopped himself from calling one of them from the Manor, swearing at his carelessness. Well, it couldn’t be too terribly difficult…

After rummaging around in various cupboards Malfoy was able to procure a skillet, which he placed on the stove. “What do Muggles have for breakfast?” Malfoy muttered absently, chewing his lower lip. “Eggs, I suppose…” There was a carton of them in a large white chilled box, and with a gentleness he reserved for making the trickiest potions ingredients behave he cracked one into the skillet. He stepped back, waiting… And nothing happened. But what could have gone wrong? He’d cracked the egg in the damn thing, put it on the stove…

Something burned in the pocket of his trousers. Malfoy reached in to find a small pad of paper and flipped it open to reveal a line of text.

How’s it going so far? –HG

If he were absolutely sure that no one would ever see or speak of it, he’d kiss that wonderful, pain-in-the-arse Mudblood straight on the mouth right now. After fumbling about to find a pen and hearing the noises of gentle stirring from upstairs, he scribbled back,

Making breakfast. Eggs won’t cook. Skillet on stove. HELP!

After a few moments, text magically appeared under the line he’d written, and he scowled at what he was sure was the laughter which would have accompanied it had she been standing in the kitchen beside him.

Is the stove turned on?

As sure as he was a pure-blood, the knobs and buttons on the face of the stove were all pointing in the same direction, so it was a safe bet that they were all off. But how to turn them on…? He matched up the picture over one of the knobs with the burner that he was trying to use and turned it to what looked about midway, though still nothing appeared. After a moment, however, the range glowed red, and it burned when he touched it, accompanied by more swearing. The egg began to bubble and sizzle. Which begged the question…

The notepad burned again.

Flip it using a spatula, it’s got a handle with a flat rubber extension at the end.

Sure enough, there was a utensil matching that description in a vase sort of thing beside the stove with a bunch of other odd-looking devices that Malfoy had never seen. Tentatively he scooped up the egg and flipped it over, feeling exceedingly proud of himself when it began sizzling again with vigor. After a few more tries there was a respectable looking stack of eggs on a plate on the counter, and Malfoy felt quite accomplished. But something was missing…

So… What does this lot typically have with eggs?

Swiftly, and again with a barely concealed tone of amusement, text flowed in response.

Bacon. Strips of meat in a package in the fridge. Fry it on both sides until crisp. Also, toast. Sliced bread goes in the toaster, butter it and serve.

With a modicum of disgust Malfoy found and separated the slimy strips of meat onto the skillet where they crackled and splattered grease into the air, burning his arm twice as he swore again. Soon the bread was toasted and buttered, the bacon was finished, and he’d just finished setting the table (as per Granger’s instructions) when Dudley stormed into the kitchen.

“I don’t want him to come!” Dudley shouted, shooting a vicious glare in Malfoy’s direction as he sat down in a chair that groaned under his weight. “I don’t care if that old bat’s in a coma, he can play Scrabble with her cats or something! He’s not coming!”

“But Diddykins,” Petunia crooned, glowering darkly in Malfoy’s direction as she followed her son to the table, “he can wait in the car! He doesn’t have to spoil your day!”

“Like hell he can, Petunia, I don’t trust him not to blow it up while we’re gone,” Vernon said gruffly, his nose buried in the paper as he sat down after her. Malfoy got the feeling that this was not the first time this particular argument had occurred. If only he could stay home and get some peace from this loud, smelly, overweight collection of human waste…

“Can’t you just keep him here? Lock him in his room or something?” Dudley whinged, as he heartily tucked into a stack of bacon the size of Malfoy’s forearm.

“Certainly not—” Vernon began, but Petunia held up one hand as her nostrils went white in a manner that reminded Malfoy oddly of Professor McGonagall.

“Just once I’d like to not have this argument. He’ll finish his breakfast and you’ll lock him in his room until we get home, Vernon,” Petunia said, cutting into her eggs with ferocity as she refused to look at any of them. Vernon sputtered in protest for a moment but fell silent at a glare from Petunia. They finished their meal in silence, after which Malfoy marched up to Potter’s room and threw himself down on the bed as Vernon shut and locked the door behind him.

“If this house isn’t standing when we get back, boy…” Vernon snarled menacingly, and his footsteps retreated down the hallway. Within minutes the car had left the driveway with Potter’s horrid relatives inside it—hopefully to burst into a flaming inferno along the motorway and kill them all at some point—and Malfoy had retrieved his wand from its hiding place under the bed. There were certain tricks all young wizards learned to get around the Trace; runes, for example. With careful finesse he traced an Unlocking Rune beside the lock on the door and it clicked open immediately as he smirked, stowing his wand in his trousers.

Over the next hour Malfoy meticulously explored the house for clues about Potter’s life, and his relatives, and anything that might help him play his role more convincingly. After all, he really didn’t have anything better to do. On his way back to Potter’s room, he passed a door that lead under the stairs which he hadn’t yet tried. Though it was locked at first, he traced the same Unlocking Rune beside the handle and it opened as the other door had, though when it did he sorely wished he’d never unlocked it at all.

The cupboard beneath the stairs was not only full of Potter’s trunk with all of his textbooks, his Firebolt, and any other magical paraphernalia the Dursleys had confiscated immediately upon his entrance into the house—it also had the unmistakable appearance of a once-used dwelling. Dusty shelves hung on the walls with small handmade toys on them, the swinging light above flickered sadly when Malfoy switched it on, and it was a small bed that took up most of the room on which the confiscated magical possessions sat. Had a young Potter once lived in this dingy, depressing cupboard? Surely not. That sort of treatment was just this side of inhuman… Sure, when he was younger his father would punish him by shutting him into enclosed spaces to rid him of his fear of the dark or teach him some lesson, but that was hardly the same as being forced to live in it for an extended period of time!

Malfoy felt sick when he shut and locked the door behind him after turning out the light, and he clutched the magical notepad in his pocket. With shaking hands he pulled it out, entirely unaccustomed to losing his nerve with such intensity.

Cupboard.

It was all he was able to write with such unsteady hands, and instantly the notepad filled with Hermione’s script.

Oh, dear. Where are the Dursleys?

Out.

Within moments there came a knock at the front door and Malfoy walked forward, still faintly nauseous, and listened with his ear pressed to the wood.

“Harry?” Hermione called softly. “I’m responding to your message, may I come in?”

“What year in school did you hit me in the face, and why?” Malfoy asked shakily, drawing his wand. He wasn’t about to forget years of breeding just because he’d gotten a bit of a shock.

“Third year, you insulted Hagrid,” Hermione replied, her voice tinged with a hint of amusement. “I don’t recall that handprint leaving your face until after dinner, either.”

Malfoy opened the door and had to work to contain his revulsion when she hugged him, though clearly she meant no harm in doing so. It was easier to imagine that she was Pansy, and he allowed himself to relax just as she let go.

“I won’t answer anything too personal, but if you have any questions, now is the time to ask,” Hermione said, taking a seat on a sofa in the sitting room as he closed the front door.

Struggling to find the words, Malfoy finally shook his head and pointed at the cupboard. “What the hell is that?”

“It’s a cupboard,” Hermione said, and smiled in a sad sort of way when his expression told her that her response clearly wasn’t answer enough. “Harry slept there until he was eleven, when he got his Hogwarts letter and the Dursleys were frightened by the way it was addressed. He was moved to the bedroom you’re staying in now, and he’s slept there when he’s here during the summer ever since.”

“They made Potter sleep in that… In that place for eleven years?” Malfoy asked, bile burning his throat. To be honest he was shocked at how strongly this was affecting him, since for all intents and purposes he and Potter were mortal enemies, but this was beyond a schoolboy grudge. This was even beyond the bitter abhorrence and hostility that accompanied enmity; there were times that Father would punish him for misbehaving, but nothing was worse than the neglect he felt when it seemed that not only did his father not care, he didn’t even remember his existence until it benefitted him or affected his plans for the future somehow. This was the willful act of Potter’s relatives to forget that he was alive; the room itself reeked of misery and solitude.

“That’s not even the worst of it,” Hermione said gently, again with that pained smile of hers. “You know how they made you cook breakfast? Harry’s been doing that since before he came to Hogwarts. They make him do all of their housework, all the cleaning, all the maintenance, everything. They barely feed him. It wasn’t until he went off to Hogwarts that his cousin was scared into not beating him anymore. He never even had friends growing up; they were all too scared of Dudley.”

But why didn’t anyone know this side of Potter? Why did he always seem to bask in the limelight and the glory of fame all the time? Why was he always getting himself into headline-worthy scrapes and just barely escaping from them with even more notoriety?

He wasn’t even aware that he’d asked any of this aloud until Hermione laughed. “He doesn’t ask for any of it! Most of it he just stumbles into; when Sirius told him to be careful before he died during... Well, you know... Anyway, he said that it’s like we think he just goes around with his eyes shut, banging off the walls… And sometimes it seems like it. But he doesn’t go seeking it out. Usually it’s just people trying to kill him, or he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time, or his suspicions get the better of him and he follows wild hunches straight from the skillet into the fire… Much like the situation he’s in now,” she said shrewdly, and Malfoy flushed, looking away. “It’s really thanks to Dumbledore that he’s so humble, Dumbledore’s the one who sent him to live with the Dursleys in the first place.”

“Didn’t he know what these people are like?” Malfoy asked incredulously, his eyes scanning the pictures spread in frames over the mantle.

“Of course he did. But he has his reasons. Or so we all keep telling ourselves,” Hermione murmured, tugging on the hem of her shirt as she stood up. “Do you have any other questions before I leave? I can lock you in so they don’t suspect anything, they should be back in the next hour or two.”

“No. And that would be fine,” Malfoy replied, and she followed him up the stairs to Potter’s bedroom. “Well, just one, actually. Is Potter… He’s… Is he bent?”

Hermione’s cheeks went rosy and his very quickly followed suit, so he went further into the room and pretended to straighten some books on shelves in lieu of having to face her again. In any other circumstance he would have been amused at the prospect of having stunned one of Hogwarts’ brightest students into silence, but he couldn’t for the life of him fathom what had inspired him to ask such a pointless question. “Um… We haven’t really discussed it, but yes. Yes, I’m fairly certain. And you’re welcome, Malfoy.”

The door shut and locked behind him and after a few moments the front door downstairs did the same, leaving him alone with his thoughts. There were so many of them swirling through his mind, each vying for his attention—cooking breakfast, Seamus sucking his prick, his O.W.Ls, Potter as a first-year living in that tiny cupboard, wanking in his wardrobe, Potter’s face, his room at the Manor, Polyjuice Potion… So many thoughts. If only he had a Pensieve…

When the Dursleys returned hours later it was to a silent house; Malfoy was fast asleep in bed, and rather than wake their nephew and provoke another argument the Dursleys decided to leave well enough alone and go about their business without him underfoot. After all, while they had left dishes in the sink and a back garden that needed grass cut and plants repotted and gutters that needed cleaning, the house they returned to was absolutely, inexplicably spotless…

Chapter Text


Author's notes: After an intense dream involving... Himself?... Harry finds himself in the middle of a rather problematic situation with Narcissa.


Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

A/N: Thanks so much for your patience and kind reviews, everyone! I’m sorry this has taken forever, I tried to write a slightly longer, slightly smutty chapter to compensate. =) Ten points and a cookie to anyone who can spot the reference to one of my favourite films...

For Not Hardly. Readers and reviews are, as always, greatly loved and appreciated.

~*~

Despite the circumstances, Harry could honestly say that he was currently enjoying the best summer holiday he’d ever had. While Narcissa doted on him, constantly sending sweets and cakes to his room and finding excuses to be near him fairly often, Lucius seemed content to never have to lay eyes on him unless he wished to coach him on something related to the following month’s impending ceremonies.

By day he amused himself in the Quidditch parlor, which was called such because it was far too grand to be considered a “shed” of any sort. In it were Quaffles, Bludgers, and Snitches, all magically altered to allow an individual to play a realistic solo match, along with a collection of brooms that ranged from old favorites from the Nimbus series to prototypes that weren’t even on the market yet. The first time he’d entered its walls to find a league-standard pitch with all of the trimmings his heart nearly stopped in awe, right before he grabbed a broom without a second thought and raced through the air in euphoria.

The first time Narcissa found him playing, Harry sent out a silent prayer of thanks that he and Malfoy were both Seekers. Surely Malfoy would be well-versed in each position, but individuals tended to specialize. He was slowly growing more paranoid with each passing day that he’d be found out, but it had been a week so far without any alarming developments. Well, aside from the fact that the house-elves were preparing for the arrival of some of the Darkest wizards in history. Every day he could feel the wards closing in like an ominous weight settling more and more heavily onto his shoulders, and try as he might to banish the dark thoughts circling in his mind like a vulture, a great bloody serpent protruding from the mouth of a skull kept fighting its way to the forefront of his mind…

“Draco, darling?” Narcissa called, her voice sounding as though it were coming from the end of a long tunnel. Harry looked down to find her a few hundred feet below him, waving merrily. Immediately he took off for the ground, his breath escaping in a soft ‘whoosh’ as his feet hit the grass and he disembarked from the broomstick. From far away she looked her usual immaculate self, not a wrinkle in her robes or a hair out of place.

“Yes, Mother?” Harry asked, unconsciously ruffling his hair. It was far too early to be tea time, but she tried to be in his presence constantly, so her arrival wasn’t entirely unexpected.

“I just wanted to have a bit of a chat with you, dear. About the fifteenth,” Narcissa said, and if Harry didn’t know any better he would have sworn that her eyes were glittering with the ghosts of unshed tears. “You’re not even of age. Are you sure you don’t want to hold off for another year, until you’re out of school? No one would be angry with you, poppet, perhaps a touch disappointed, but—”

“I know you mean well, Mother, but it’s something I have to do,” Harry said awkwardly, wishing that he could tell Lucius exactly where to shove his bloody Dark Mark, hating that Malfoy had put him in this position. This wasn’t the first time Narcissa had raised this subject either, though she was careful never to mention it where her husband could hear. “Father is depending on me. The Dark Lord is depending on me. I can’t just—”

“You’re only a child, darling!” Narcissa whispered, wringing her hands in front of her chest as the color slowly drained from her face. Imperfections were becoming clearer now; subtle wrinkles on her forehead, lines around her mouth from being sick with worry. For some reason Harry almost felt… Guilty. “We can take you somewhere safe, somewhere the Dark Lord will never—”

“Narcissa!” Lucius called sharply from the door to the parlor, and Narcissa jumped as though she’d been caught doing something unseemly. He looked suspicious, but not as though he’d overheard anything that his wife had been whispering. Which was just as well; Harry was anxious to hear the end of her train of thought. Had Narcissa defected? And if so, with whom was she working? If only Lucius had waited another fifteen seconds… “The house-elves need your opinion on the flatware for the ceremony, or some such nonsense. Will you get that sorted? Winnie has been thrashing herself with a ladle for the better part of an hour and the ghastly noise is affecting the productivity of my research.”

“Right away, dear,” Narcissa said pleasantly, though Harry couldn’t help but notice the shadows that lingered in the barely visible bags beneath her eyes. “Do come find me later, darling,” she said, pointedly addressing this command to Harry. “We must finish our discussion about the maintenance of your Firebolt… Or whichever broom it is you’re having trouble with; I can never keep them straight. Perhaps we can donate a few of them to charity?”

Narcissa’s gaze hardened briefly before she left, and Lucius quickly swept away in her wake. Harry couldn’t help but get the feeling that she was trying very desperately to tell him something, something that she couldn’t say in front of her husband.

It wasn’t until he’d locked the Qudditch parlor and made his way back to Malfoy’s room that he was struck by a frantic, blind panic that gripped his heart in his chest and crushed it without mercy. Narcissa Malfoy could be accused of many things, but inattention to detail was not among them. Especially since she was almost certainly the one in charge of the Malfoy finances, as far as major purchases for the Malfoy heir were concerned.

For Malfoy, to his credit, owned the most extensive, costly collection of brooms Harry had ever seen in his life. All save one.

Because he refused point blank to own anything that Potter considered “good.”

~*~

To say that dinner that night was a tense affair would have been comparable to calling Harry’s pain during his encounter with Skele-Gro an instance of “mild discomfort.” It seemed as though Narcissa was going out of her way to avoid his gaze, though Lucius tucked into his dragon steak with little acknowledgment of either of them. Halfway through the meal he sent one of the house-elves—Trinket, he’d called her—to boil her feet in a pot because she was too slow in fetching the asparagus he’d asked for. Slowly Harry found himself steaming, though he was determined not to allow his fury to show in his face.

“May I be excused? I think I may have eaten something earlier that disagreed with me,” he asked with as much politeness as he could manage, clutching his stomach and wincing—though careful not to overdo it. Lucius raised his eyebrows and looked up from his meal, which was currently oozing a thick greenish liquid onto his plate.

“Are you sure you aren’t training too hard? Perhaps I should restrict your access to that parlor you spend so much time in; you should be developing your study habits and refreshing the course material you learned last year. I should hardly think you deserve a reward for being beaten in every exam by a Mudblood. Have you looked through the Manor library for titles that might be of use to your future?” Lucius asked, carving a manageable bite of meat and popping it into his mouth before taking a sip of wine. Something about the way he mentioned the library made it seem as though he wasn’t talking about practicing Cheering Charms.

“Not yet, Father,” Harry said, dabbing his lips with a napkin as his mind raced to think of what Malfoy might say in this situation. He had hardly processed Lucius’s implication that he would take away Quidditch privileges if he didn’t begin studying. It was the summer holidays! Was he mad? He needed something to do in this massive place to avoid insanity. “I might start on some Potions work, though. I’m sure one of the books will contain something of interest.”

“Excellent. Research what you can on poisons as well; you never know what your service under the Dark Lord will entail,” Lucius replied, motioning with his fork that Harry was excused. Harry nodded and pushed his seat away from the table, attempting to lock eyes with Narcissa as he left, though she pointedly ignored his stare. Figuring that he should at least appear to have followed Lucius’s advice, he pulled a few books from the library and pored over them for the next hour.

~~

He was sitting on his bed in Little Whinging, tossing a Muggle baseball high into the air and catching it with surprising dexterity. The sun had been swallowed by the horizon in a cascade of blues and purples, and long shadows crept closer and closer to the house as the second hand on his watch ticked slowly by. After a moment he stopped as though listening for something and then lazily allowed his hand to trail along the hem of his shirt.

“You dirty bastard,” he whispered, his fingertips ghosting between the waist of his trousers and the sensitive flesh underneath. Deftly he unbuttoned and unzipped them, biting his lip with a feverish urgency as he kicked them aside and brought one hand to his chest to roll one nipple between his fingers; a strangled hiss escaped from his lips and he thrust his hips against air. “You filthy buggering prick.”

The swearing only seemed to arouse him further, and he grabbed a fistful of his own untidy black hair and yanked his head back until his neck was exposed like a pale offering, his legs spread wide like some wanton animal. Unintelligible moans spilled from his lips like prayers as he pulled his shirt over his head and threw it in the general direction of a chair in the corner, his nails raking thin red trails across his chest.

“I want you to suck me off, you dirty slag,” he groaned, reaching one hand inside the confines of the fabric against which a thick cock was straining, shoving the offending article of clothing down his hips as he arched his back against the bed. “Yeah, just like that. Fuck, I wish you were here to swallow me whole. Your fucking throat must be quality; what I wouldn’t fucking give to have you on your knees in front of me, begging to gag on my prick...” Muscles honed from years of Quidditch practice shone with sweat in the dim glow of the street lights outside, his calloused hand gripping his cock with a desperation that came from weeks without sexual release. It had been ages since he’d been bollocks-deep in Finnigan’s mouth, and between the horrid attitude of the Muggles and his inability to use magic he was ready to scream if he didn’t have some way to burn off his excess energy.

It was completely mental, wanking in this sad excuse of a bed, but fuck if the head of this cock weren’t more sensitive than the rest of it put together. With a flick of his thumb he circled it anxiously, his hips pumping against the hand that was torturing him, teasing him, barely promising release as he grabbed himself by the base and began stroking himself within an inch of his life, his breath coming in ragged gasps. Within minutes he could feel a familiar sensation in the pit of his stomach, his bollocks tightening as he gave a few final tugs and spilled on his abdomen, attempting to hush the rattling breaths that he was embarrassed to admit were coming from him.

‘Your move, Potter,’ he whispered into the night, not even bothering to clean himself off as he drifted to sleep.

~~

When Harry awoke, a rather embarrassing stain had appeared on the front of his trousers underneath his robes. Apparently he’d dozed off while studying, but for how long he wasn’t sure—it was dark outside, so a few hours had passed at the very least. What had just happened, exactly? It felt similar to how he felt when he shared visions with Voldemort, but he couldn’t remember Malfoy failing to use the Killing Curse against him in the recent past, so he didn’t quite know how to explain the events that had just taken place.

Or had they? Was it a vision of something real, or a dream? It certainly felt real enough… But what did Malfoy mean—for who else could it be?—at the end of whatever it was? ‘Your move, Potter’? It was a good thing he hadn’t been cryptic or anything; that would have been really annoying…

“Draco, dear? I just—oh, sweet Merlin!” Narcissa cried, shutting the door quickly after she failed to knock and managed to catch a glimpse of Harry’s rather embarrassing state. “I’ll just leave you to tidy up and be back in a moment,” she called, and it must have been good breeding that allowed her to sound so calm when Harry’s heart was pounding in his throat and threatening to explode from within it at any moment.

It took him moments to Summon a small hand towel and clean himself off, and a few more to change into robes that weren’t soiled with Malfoy’s spunk. What a horribly embarrassing encounter…

“Draco?” Narcissa asked from outside of the room, knocking three times on the door which she left closed until she received a response. “Draco, are you in there?”

“Yes, Mother,” Harry called back, his cheeks a vibrant shade of pink. Narcissa entered as well, her face dusted with a rosy flush. Without ceremony she sat on the edge of Malfoy’s bed, her eyes narrowed shrewdly. Harry warily noticed her wand protruding from her robes, though it remained there.

“Where do you suppose your Firebolt should be sent for maintenance, darling? You know I’m simply hopeless when it comes to Quidditch and brooms and all of that rubbish,” Narcissa said airily, though a steely flint in her eyes belied the lightness in her words.

“There’s a place in Surrey I’ve taken it to during the summer holidays before; horrid place, I don’t fancy going back, but I don’t know if I’ll have much of a choice. They’re specialists, you see,” Harry said carefully, shifting his weight so that his wand was more easily accessible should he need it in a pinch. He willed her to understand the meaning beneath the surface, inwardly attempting not to hyperventilate. How had she known? And if she knew, did Lucius? Bloody buggering fuck, he hoped he hadn’t gone and fucked himself, especially not in Malfoy fucking Manor.

“Oh? And they’ve taken good care of your brooms before, have they? You’ve gotten them back in one piece? I must insist that you choose a quality facility, we wouldn’t want it falling into the wrong hands,” Narcissa replied quietly, staring him straight in the face. She knew, she definitely knew. Fuck, he hoped she hadn’t told anyone. Why wasn’t she killing him? Why wasn’t she dipping him in yoghurt, covering him with chocolate buttons, and popping him in a gift-wrapped box for Voldemort?

“Oh, sometimes they’re a bit worse for the wear, but they always come back in one piece. Good as new. It costs an arm and a leg, though,” Harry said in an offhand tone, and Narcissa closed her eyes and nodded her understanding. This was quite possibly one of the most bizarre exchanges he’d ever had in his life. Did she truly understand him? She appeared to be more intelligent than she let on…

“Well, if it isn’t returned in perfect working order, we shall see to it that whoever so much as touched your broom will be most severely dealt with. It wouldn’t do to mistreat the property of a Malfoy,” Narcissa remarked lightly, raising her eyebrows in an uncanny imitation of Lucius as she stood to take her leave. It was clear that for the time being, they understood each other—fuck if he knew how, or why she was allowing him to live, but for now he was safe.

The question was, until when?

Chapter Text


Author's notes: Draco is forced to rethink his position on a few things, and has to deal with an unexpected circumstance...


Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

A/N: For Not Hardly. Healthy dose of angst in this one, folks. I just finished watching Never Let Me Go, it took me ages to stop crying after the end. Gorgeous film, but really horrible. I always write better when I’m a bit angsty though, I think, so hopefully that’s reflected here. Bit of a cliffhanger too, sorry about that! And if you love mood music, I’d suggest “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You" by Cary Brothers. Readers and reviews are, as always, greatly loved and appreciated.

~*~

The days at Number Four, Privet Drive passed like waves on the shore of the ocean; one rolled into another, into another, with very little fuss or notable occurrences to mark any one in particular. A routine seemed to have woven its way into his life that had existed before, but in a different capacity.

As a Malfoy he went through the motions of fulfilling his duty as a pure-blood heir; pre-betrothal ceremonies, genealogy seminars, ever observant of proper etiquette and decorum, constantly in a spotlight that followed him with the heat of an inferno. There was no privacy, no freedom to be his genuine self. He wasn’t Draco; he was Draco Malfoy, The Malfoy Heir. And three weeks ago, he would have given anything to be rid of it.

As Harry Potter, he woke every day to a loud banging on his door by a vile woman who was far too nosy and far too bony. After being threatened with physical harm or malnourishment if he didn’t perform his daily chores, he made himself scarce and carried out manual labor, the likes of which he’d only ever seen servants perform. She knew when he tried to sneak food; the first time he tried he’d been locked in his bedroom for three days with only bread to eat. Was this really what Potter had lived with for the past sixteen years?

It was scarcely dawn when a soft tapping came on the window. When Malfoy’s eyes fluttered open, it was to a tawny owl that had nudged the sill open and perched itself on his chest. It carried the Prophet in its talons; Draco pried open the loose floorboard he kept certain wizarding items in and popped a few Knuts into the pouch hanging from the owl’s neck. It hooted softly and took off into the hazy morning wind.

Nothing of note today, though the date printed in black bolded ink was a concrete reminder that he would be switching back with Potter the following week. It took him a few hours to comb through the paper, though he badly wished he had a decent cup of tea to sip as he did so. The sun rose slowly higher into the sky but the house remained silent… Had those horrid Muggles left for some reason?

Hardly daring to hope, he tried his doorknob and found it unlocked. He took care not to step on the floorboards that creaked as he made his way down the stairs, and when he came to the kitchen a hastily scrawled note sat on the table next to a plate of cold, runny eggs and a soggy slice of toast.


Boy,

We’ve gone to Marge’s on holiday. She specifically demanded that we not bring you for obvious reasons (Malfoy smiled at the snarl he could practically hear from the page; Hermione had stopped by the week prior and recounted the blowing-up incident after his confusion, clearly fighting a laugh as she did so), so if the house isn’t standing when we get back, we’ll see whether or not a solid beating can cure you of your freaky rubbish. Breakfast is on the table. Make it last; if we find you’ve nicked any food, you’ll be in your room for the rest of the summer.

How this was different from what he was experiencing now he wasn’t sure; honestly it sounded more like a reward, since it meant he’d spend less time with the Muggles. Regardless of the flaw in Vernon’s logic, he had to admit he was sorely hungry. Within minutes he wolfed down the eggs and toast—trying not to retch, they were truly foul—and decided he’d check out Potter’s old cupboard again. He’d tried his best to avoid it after his talk with Granger, but it was worth another look. He had nothing better to do.

After retrieving his wand from upstairs he broke in again, feeling no less uncomfortable this time than he had the last. The desolation clung to the walls like cobwebs that could never be swept away; he could only take a step or two in before he couldn’t go any further. He hadn’t yet unlocked Potter’s trunk, and after a moment it lay open before him. It felt slightly voyeuristic, snooping through the possessions of his bitter rival. Rival? … Well, Potter wasn’t really an enemy anymore, to be sure… Was he?

It was filled with most of the usual magical things. Some potions ingredients, a pair of Omnioculars, some stray socks, magical textbooks… Near the bottom was something that looked like a photo album and Malfoy pulled it out with shaking hands. There weren’t any photos of Potter in this house, that was certain. So what were these?

Fingers trembling, he turned page after page to find Potter’s parents smiling and waving up at him. Laughing. Holding a gurgling, fat little Potter with untidy black hair. Standing at their wedding ceremony with a young Sirius Black in the background, holding hands. Standing with witches and wizards he’d only seen in old Ministry records when he’d had to research family genealogy, witches and wizards who had fought against the Dark Lord. Dead… Dead… Dead… All of them smiling and laughing in photos with Potter’s dead mum and dad, no idea that their lives would be snuffed out like candles within a few months, a few years… Followed closely by the only family Potter had ever known, however briefly, who stared up at him from each page with a joy he’d never seen in his own mother’s face…

Tears streamed down his face in a wash of shame and misery, falling to the pages in droplets as he clenched it in his hands. He wasn’t a child, and he wasn’t naïve; he knew that wars cost lives. He knew the names of the people his father and the Death Eaters had killed. But it was one thing to read about them in old records, they were just names on black and white pages. Names didn’t have families. Names didn’t attend their friends’ weddings. Names didn’t have children. Names didn’t love, and weren’t loved.

“Shit!” Malfoy swore, and he hadn’t even realized he’d grabbed onto one of the small bedposts until a splinter lodged itself into his palm. With care he plucked it out and watched as a droplet of blood welled at the surface, a small circle against the tan of his flesh. He licked it, tasted the coppery tang that met his tongue. It didn’t taste any different from the blood that flowed through his veins, his Malfoy veins.

For the past sixteen years he had been raised to be a Malfoy, and all that entailed. It was easy to blind himself to the fact that the Malfoy name had come at a price, and that price had been paid in blood. Pure blood, half blood, Muggle blood… So much blood spilled by the hands and wands of his father and the Death Eaters.

But why? What was the purpose of it all? Were they all truly so different? Look at Granger; she was an annoying little scab to be sure, but damn if she weren’t just as clever as he was. Possibly more so, he was loathe to admit. And surely the Dursleys were horrid excuses for human beings, but certainly that didn’t mean they should die.

For a moment he tried to picture his mother on these pages, tried to picture her dead. To have grown up never having known her. To have made his way through life without having a father to buy him his first broomstick, without a mother to coddle him and send him packages of sweets at school. To see him off at the train every year. His father never came, but his mother took him every year without fail, ignoring the stares and whispers, ignoring his protests that he was old enough to see himself off.

The tears showed no signs of stopping as he stretched on his stomach over the small bed and wept into the threadbare covers. Before that moment with Pansy and Potter and Granger in the empty classroom, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d cried. So many years of never being good enough for his father. So many hexes cast behind his back, even on his first day at Hogwarts, for reasons and traditions that predated his existence. So many whispers of jealous students in Slytherin that speculated the day he’d fall from his pedestal so that they could take his place. He knew more defensive spells than Dark ones; how ironic that the loathed, adored, perfect, horrid Malfoy heir should need to know how to defend himself.

The softest creak came from the doorjamb and he whipped around, his eyes wild, wand held aloft. Hermione stood in the doorway with her hands held skyward, eyes wide. For a moment they stared at each other in silence before Malfoy lowered his wand, attempting to control his breathing.

“What in God’s name is wrong, Malfoy?” Hermione asked in shock, her voice hushed. Her eyes flicked to the photo album on the bed and softened when they returned to him; he hated more than anything the naked pity in them. At the back of his mind it registered that she'd done away with the pretense of calling him by Potter's name, but at this particular point in time he didn't much care. It was even a bit nice to be called by his own name for once, surname or not.

“I’m fine,” Malfoy muttered, his lips twisting at the lie. There was no way either of them believed it but he was relieved that he didn’t call him on it. He cast his eyes to the floor and glared as though the floorboards had personally wronged him, his frown deepening when he felt the bed sink beside him.

“You can see it every day in his eyes,” Hermione said quietly, and Malfoy refused to look at her. “When people get owl post from their parents. It’s worse at the start and end of term; the Weasleys are lovely, of course, but it’s torture watching all of his friends go home to their loved ones when he has to come… Here.”

“It wasn’t my fault!” Malfoy snarled, tears welling in his eyes for reasons he couldn’t explain. “I didn’t cast the bloody curse—”

“Of course you didn’t! You’re not responsible for your parents’ choices, Malfoy, but oh, can’t you see how yours have affected him? You have the life he should have had! His parents left him a small fortune, and now with Sirius gone he has the Black vaults—”

“Potter has the Black vaults?” Malfoy asked incredulously, his breath dying in his throat.

“Yes, but that’s beside the point,” Hermione said patiently, waving one hand. “If they hadn’t died, Harry would have been fussed over by loving parents. He never would have wanted for anything. And he doesn’t now as far as gold is concerned, but he’d give all of it away in a heartbeat to have them back. Don’t you see how ludicrous this is? This war over blood? Your mother is raising him in her household right now; you think she knows the difference?”

“I’m sure she’s figured it out by now,” Malfoy said quietly, smiling despite himself through his tears. He wiped his face with the back of his wrist, grateful that Hermione pretended not to notice. “She’s clever, my mother. Revealing Potions and Veritaserum into soups and things. Blaise was having a row with his mum one year and I wasn’t getting on with mine so we decided to swap lives; Mother had it sorted in two days.” When he looked over, Hermione seemed incredibly perturbed by this information.

“Shit,” she said, with feeling. Malfoy laughed, and Hermione’s gaze flicked over to him.

“I think that’s the first time I’ve heard you swear,” Malfoy said, and Hermione began giggling as well; it grew until they fell back on the small bed clutching their sides, each in throes of mirth for their own reasons. Malfoy, for his part, felt that he had to keep laughing or he’d start crying again. Or hexing things. He didn’t know why she’d joined in the hilarity, but madness did love company. Or was that misery? He had plenty of both, he supposed...

Finally the laughter died down and they lay there in silence, punctuated only by the sound of their breaths.

“I hate you, Malfoy,” Hermione remarked quietly.

“I know,” Malfoy replied, staring up at the ceiling. He shifted, placing one arm behind his head, and closed his eyes.

“But I think I’m starting to hate you less now,” Hermione continued in the same even tone, as though she were commenting on the weather, and Malfoy shut his eyes more tightly in the darkness to keep fresh tears at bay. The last thing he needed was the pity of a Mudblood. He certainly wouldn't cry in front of her.

“Was there a reason you came over?” Malfoy asked tightly, sitting up as the bedsprings creaked loudly in protest. “I’m afraid I’m not much for entertaining; usually the house-elves fetch tea and biscuits, but I’m a bit short on all three at the moment.”

“There was, actually,” Hermione replied, getting up from the bed. She had to stoop to keep from hitting her head on the ceiling and turned to look in his eyes. “The date of your Marking has moved to tomorrow. The Order have been notified and are currently devising a plan to not only switch you and Harry back but also to rescue you from the ceremony. That is, if you wish to be rescued.”

Malfoy’s mouth went dry as he processed this information, his breath coming in quick gasps. Tomorrow? What in Merlin’s name had happened that they’d moved the ceremony up a week? Rescue?

“Mother,” he said, his eyes darting in all directions, thoughts flying through his head and leaving as soon as they’d entered.

“Your mother as well, if she wishes to petition for asylum from the Order,” Hermione agreed, nodding. “Harry has apparently discovered some evidence for the fact that your mother may not be sympathetic to Voldemort’s aims.”

Malfoy flinched at the name, but his eyes widened. This certainly came as a shock. His mother, a traitor to Dumbledore’s side? It couldn’t be. And why was he still thinking in this ‘us versus them’ mentality?

“I—I don’t—…I need time to—” Malfoy stuttered, and Hermione smiled kindly.

“I’m afraid you have about two hours to decide,” she said quietly, stepping into the hallway. “The Order will be here to collect you then. They’ve already taken care of the Dursleys, they’re on holiday with family for the next week. I suggest you take the last of your Polyjuice Potion to be safe.”

Malfoy frowned, thinking of the last of it stored under the loose floorboard upstairs. Probably a good idea, that. But how did she benefit from any of this? Certainly she was a textbook Gryffindor so she may not have thought of personal gain the same way someone in Slytherin would, but still...

"Granger?" Malfoy asked suddenly as Hermione turned to leave, and she looked back over her shoulder. "Why are you being so decent to me? I've been a proper twat the entire time we've known each other. Potter and I have always been at odds. What's in this for you?"

A look of surprise washed over Hermione's face, which quickly faded into a gentle smile. "I was raised well, for one thing," she remarked, a mischievous glint flitting through her gaze. Malfoy narrowed his eyes, biting his tongue as he gestured for her to get on with it. Anything he could say right now wouldn't be charitable, and certainly wouldn't contribute to prolonging her goodwill. "When someone's in a horrid situation you don't just leave them to rot, even if it's their own doing. Odds are they're torturing themselves more than you ever could... And to be honest, as foolish as it may be, perhaps I'm just hoping that you'll think the next time before you call me a Mudblood or make some smart remark about Harry's parents. You didn't know the truth about how he lived or what he had to go through before. Can you honestly say you see him the same way now as you did at the start of the year?"

Malfoy said nothing, his gaze fixed at a point above her right shoulder, attempting to keep the multitude of thoughts that were passing through his head from showing on his face. Luckily he'd had years of training at that, courtesy of his father... But that was more out of necessity. Finally he nodded to affirm that he'd gotten her point, looking away.

She returned his nod, and after one last long, searching look at him, she was gone.

Chapter Text


Author's notes: Harry comes downstairs to find an unusual assortment of guests for breakfast...


Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

A/N: For Not Hardly. WARNINGS for this chapter include a scene of brief violence. This one's a bit darker than the rest. Readers and reviews are, as always, greatly loved and appreciated.

UPDATE: I have not forgotten about this story! Uni has just absolutely dominated my life with a vengeance, and I'm vastly over-committed to a number of campus organizations. Furthermore, midterms are coming up and I haven't been eating or sleeping properly... So I will post an update at some point, it's just a matter of when. I apologize, and thank you all for reading!

~*~

When Harry woke the next morning, he didn’t feel well-rested—he felt restless. His dreams had been plagued by Malfoy for some reason; Malfoy pacing around his room back at Privet Drive. Malfoy paging through textbook after textbook, muttering unintelligibly to himself in the night. Malfoy staring aimlessly out of a window at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, squinting into the darkness as though willing the sun to rise. But why would Malfoy be at Grimmauld Place? Had something happened? The lack of news was starting to drive him mad; nobody in the house had spoken to him recently with the exception of the house-elves, and even then it was little more than nervous whimpers. Narcissa hadn’t reached out to him since their brief conversation in his bedroom the day before, from which he was still reeling.

With a heavy yawn, Harry walked over to his wardrobe, checking furtively around the room to make sure he was truly alone before he grabbed a flask from beneath a false panel lining the bottom of one of the drawers. Deftly he dropped in a single hair of Malfoy’s that he’d found on one of the many cloaks hanging in the wardrobe and pinched his nose as he swallowed the lot of it, grimacing as it flooded through his body in a rush. It wasn’t painful since he was still in Malfoy’s form, only slightly uncomfortable, but it wasn’t a feeling he had become accustomed to.

Still blinking sleep from his eyes, Harry took a quick shower and changed into one of Malfoy’s nicer robes before hurrying downstairs to breakfast. The sun had barely broken over the horizon, and he stopped briefly on the stairs to watch streaks of gold thread through the dusky purples and blues that were slowly leaving with the night sky.

When he approached the landing, a number of soft voices wafted through the air from the dining room. Were Lucius and Narcissa expecting company and had forgotten to mention it? It didn’t surprise him, he was little more than an afterthought to Lucius on the best of days, but it seemed a bit early for visitors. Winnie sprinted across the floor while tripping over what appeared to be her finest pillowcase, looking absolutely paralyzed with fright.

“Winnie?” Harry asked, his eyes narrowing in confusion. Winnie looked up with a small shriek, her eyes wide. “What’s wrong?”

“Is that him, Lucius?” a soft, hoarse voice asked from the next room, and Harry felt his blood freeze in his veins.

Winnie’s eyes widened further, which gave her a rather comical appearance despite how clearly terrified she was. She hastily picked up her pillowcase and positively ran for what looked like a solid wall, into which she promptly vanished. Unfortunately, her expression was something in which Harry could not find amusement, since he was quite sure his own face exhibited something similar. It couldn’t be… Certainly not. It wasn’t supposed to be for another week at least…

“Draco? Are you out there, darling?” Narcissa’s voice called with the barest hint of anxiety, and a twittering of noise broke out from within the room. “Breakfast is ready.”

Feeling as though his feet were filled with lead, Harry somehow forced himself to walk into the dining room with an odd veneer of calm. No fewer than ten Death Eaters surrounded the table, at the head of which sat his mortal enemy, who was sipping from a china cup with delicate floral patterns while reading the Daily Prophet looking quite indifferent to the chatter around him.

Harry waited for the blinding flash of pain that usually accompanied Voldemort’s presence, but Pansy appeared to have performed her Masking Spells with expert skill; he felt nothing. The way she and Hermione had explained it, they had not eradicated the blood with his mother’s protection from his body—they had buried the protection, rather, like a repressed memory that was locked deep within his subconscious. Tricking his body into believing it didn’t exist, as it were. It would hardly do for the Malfoy Heir to be thrashing about on the carpet before an entire room of people intent on killing the one person who was actually housed within his body. Especially since it wouldn’t take long after the first spasm for them to correctly guess his identity.

“There he is! My son,” Lucius announced as Harry walked into the room, with a weak strain of pride in his voice that Harry had never heard before. The Death Eaters looked from their breakfasts and one another from Harry—who was determining where exactly he should sit now that Peter Pettigrew had taken his place at the table—to Voldemort, who was skimming the morning paper as he absently twirled one finger over a cup of tea. A silver spoon was stirring the liquid in small circles, steam rising from the cup in wispy tendrils. It was bizarre to say the least, walking in on the most powerful Dark wizards of the age feasting on sausage, eggs, and toast, speaking with their mouths full and joking with one another under their breaths as they cast surreptitious glances at Voldemort.

“My Lord,” Harry said calmly, bowing at the waist. He came forward and knelt to kiss the hem of Voldemort’s robes, but Voldemort waved him off with one hand.

“The pleasantries are appreciated but unnecessary, Draco,” Voldemort remarked in his cold, dry whisper, flicking upward with his hand and continuing to read the paper as the teacup levitated on its own into the air. “You must eat and prepare for what awaits you. I’m sure that your father has informed you of the day’s festivities.”

Harry’s eyes snapped to Lucius, whose face had suddenly drained of what little color was left in it. One of his fists was currently strangling a napkin as he fought to maintain his composure, his eyes glued to the table and the rapidly cooling meal on his plate.

“I’m afraid I’ve been studying too hard in the library,” Harry said slowly, keenly aware that every person in the room aside from Voldemort was hanging onto his every word, despite how much they pretended otherwise. “Father hasn’t seen me in days; I take all of my meals there while I research the Dark Arts. Is something of significance taking place today?”

From across the table, Lucius let out the most silent of breaths, a hint of color returning to his cheeks. Voldemort gave a small smile, plucking the cup from the air and taking a sip of tea before dabbing at his mouth with a napkin. The entire affair seemed far too proper for a man without a nose. Or any of them, for that matter, but he supposed that even Dark wizards needed sustenance…

“Something of significance…” Voldemort said slowly, as though savoring the words as they fell from his lips. “Would you consider it significant, were I to present you with the opportunity to join me in my crusade to rid this fallen, broken world of Mudbloods and blood-traitors? Were I to ask it of you, would you take up your wand for the Cause and do what is necessary to accept your birthright and join the ranks of my devoted followers?”

A ringing silence met the room at the end of his speech, and Harry could feel his heart rapidly working to slow its beat and hide any trace of fear. Forget frightened, he was panicking while attempting to hide this panic as though his life depended on it. The Marking wasn’t supposed to be for another week at least; it had been moved to today? Why had the date changed? Did the Order know? Thousands of questions flew through his head, each more desperate and damning than the last, and Harry fought to keep his hands from shaking as he smiled, dropping to one knee with his head facing downward to hide his expression.

“It would be an honor above all others,” Harry said quietly, and he could barely hear the explosion of applause and cheering as his eardrums rang with the rush of adrenaline flowing through his veins. He snuck a glance up at Narcissa, who was staring at him intensely as though trying to tell him something, but when Voldemort glanced over she assumed the persona of an airy, pleasant hostess with nothing to hide. Voldemort lifted one hand into the air and immediately the celebration stopped as though halted by a guillotine.

“Very well. You may finish breakfast and retire to your room to ready for the ceremony. Narcissa, I trust you’ll be able to help the boy prepare—Lucius will be assisting me with the arrangements,” Voldemort said quietly, and returned to the Prophet with another sip of tea. Narcissa nodded shortly and gave a strained, vacant smile.

It was without a doubt the most anxiety-ridden, awkward meal of Harry’s life—and that was including the dinner at the Weasleys’ after he and Ginny had been caught snogging behind the broom shed, when he’d been genuinely terrified that Ron and the twins were going to hex his bollocks off. Luckily Ginny had cast her Bat-Bogey Hex right as they cornered him in Ron’s room and insisted that she’d been the instigator—which was just as well, he hadn’t really felt anything from it—and they’d left him alone thereafter. Regardless, he finished his meal in silence and attempted to ignore the queasiness threatening to bring his eggs back up before excusing himself from the table. A few nearby Death Eaters clapped him on the back as he passed and he gave a hollow sort of grin in return.

When he entered the foyer, a soft knocking came at the door and conversation in the next room ceased.

“Draco, can you get that, darling? I’m afraid the house-elves are busy de-gnoming the grounds at the moment,” Narcissa called from the next room, and slowly the soft buzz of chatter picked up again. Harry squared his shoulders and grabbed the bronze doorknob, his heartbeat already picking up at what he might find on the other side. He hadn’t seen Nagini yet, but then, massive snakes weren’t typically known to knock…

“Wotcher. Delivery for one Draco Malfoy?” a voice asked from the other side of the door, and Harry opened it to reveal a very pretty witch with a rather piglike nose and violently purple hair. She was holding a package beneath one arm and chewing on a piece of gum in boredom, and he could have sworn she gave him a very small wink when she handed over a clipboard for him to sign. It was uncanny, really, how much she looked like a female Dudley… Before his brain could even register this information she shut the door, and it wasn’t until she’d Apparated away that he even realized the obvious. Malfoy had said that once the ceremony was near, the wards surrounding the Manor would be released to allow anyone of the Malfoy bloodline to enter.

Harry's skull was suddenly attacked by an onslaught of blinding pain, and he was able to drag himself to the top of the stairs before he collapsed on the landing with a migraine unlike any he’d ever experienced. He blacked out, only for a moment, but for that moment he could have sworn he heard Malfoy’s voice whisper, “Open the package alone. It leaves at noon sharp; if you can, bring my mother.”

“Poppet? Are you all right? Who was at the door?” Narcissa asked from downstairs, and the gentle hum of conversation faltered.

“Just Pansy, Mum. She wanted to say goodbye before she left with her parents on holiday,” Harry lied rapidly, still feeling as though someone had shoved a handful of Knarl quills through his skull. He’d surmised somehow that he and Malfoy shared some connection while they were asleep or otherwise able to access their subconscious, but did they have to choose such a horribly painful way to make him black out? Bastards, the lot of them…

“Oh, that’s lovely, dear! I’ll be up to help you get ready in a moment,” Narcissa called back cheerfully, and the sound of clinking china came from the dining room as the house-elves cleared dishes from the table. Her voice sounded slightly strained, but given the circumstances and the way that all of the Death Eaters were walking on eggshells, this was hardly out of the ordinary.

When he entered his room, he placed the package on his bed and sat next to it, staring as though he could see through it. He really wished he could; surely the Order wouldn’t give him anything dangerous, would they? Well, he supposed “dangerous” was in the eye of the beholder, if Fred, George, and Hagrid were any example, but hopefully this would get him out of this place without risking Malfoy’s neck. Mulling it over, he was surprised to find that he cared whether Malfoy came out of this. He had a few questions for that prat…

“Draco?” a feminine voice asked, as a few successive knocks sounded on his door. “Are you in there?”

“Yes, Mother,” he called back, and his heart sank horribly as the door slowly creaked open. Bile burned the back of his throat when he watched Narcissa enter with Bellatrix directly behind her, holding a wand to Narcissa’s back in one hand and a letter that was too far for him to read in the other. If Bellatrix’s expression was any indication, the letter said nothing good.

“The rituals for branding one with the Dark Mark and very particular, Draco,” Bellatrix said quietly, a manic gleam in her eyes. She dangled the letter between her thumb and index finger, shaking it slightly and tilting her head as she gazed at him from across the room. “Do you know what this is?”

“Bella,” Narcissa gasped, tears springing to her eyes as she slowly lost her composure. “Bella, please, you’re my sister—”

Quiet, Cissy!” Bellatrix hissed, unceremoniously shoving Narcissa into the room and onto the floor. Her chest heaved as her face took on a wild, unbridled expression, though her lips twisted with some emotion that Harry couldn’t fathom. “You’re a filthy, loathsome little blood-traitor, just like Andromeda. Sneaking about like a rat and scurrying back to your hole,” she whispered, crouching to walk two of her fingers up the length of Narcissa’s spine, punctuating her words with each step. She licked her lips, snarling, and grabbed the back of Narcissa’s robes as she yanked her to her feet. “I trusted you!”

“Bella, please,” Narcissa whispered, repeating the words like a string of prayers, and Harry was utterly paralyzed on the bed. What was going on? He could hardly ask, could he? Should he defend Narcissa, or would that just hammer the final nails in his own coffin? “Please!”

Your fil-thy mo-ther wrote the Or-der,” Bellatrix said in a singtong cadence, gently running one hand through Narcissa’s hair as she brought the letter up to eye level. “’Dear Professor Dumbledore,’” Bellatrix began, her lips tightening over the words as though they burned as they passed her lips. She looked at Harry. “Yes, pleasantries must always be observed, mustn’t they? Regardless. ‘Dear Professor Dumbledore, I am writing to petition the Order of the Phoenix for asylum—’” Bellatrix growled, and yanked Narcissa’s head back by her hair until Narcissa cried out. Where were the rest of the Death Eaters? Why had they been left alone? Not that he was counting on reinforcements, but wasn’t it a bit odd that Bellatrix was handling this situation on her own, trusted lieutenant or not? He foolishly, desperately wished that Tonks would come back… “’—from the Dark Lord, in the interests of my son’s and my welfare. The date on which he is to be branded with the Dark Mark has changed to’… Drivel drivel drivel, useless useless, bloody FUCKING useless!” Bellatrix bellowed, crumpling the letter in her fist and throwing it to the floor. “Did you think me incompetent, Narcissa?”

“No, Bella, never,” Narcissa whimpered from the floor, and Bellatrix grabbed one of her arms and twisted it back into what looked like a horribly painful position; Narcissa screamed. “NEVER!

“The only reason that I didn’t tell the Dark Lord—” Bellatrix began in a snarl, but Harry was suddenly distracted. The bed had suddenly gotten incredibly hot; the package burned at his side. Confident in his suspicions, Harry ripped the package open—it contained a clock, which was now shaking in his hands and displaying a current time of 11:59 am. “—was that you’re blood, and I’d rather not spill yours if I can find another way to punish you for your stupidity!”

Without thinking, Harry pointed his wand at Bellatrix and shouted, “STUPEFY!” A jet of red light hit her squarely in the chest and she crumpled to the floor on Narcissa’s back. Narcissa scurried from underneath her and glanced at over to where the clock was now glowing.

“Take my hand!” Harry shouted, and Narcissa smiled through her tears and shook her head.

“It will look far too suspicious when he returns if I’m gone,” she whispered, “and he has to come back. Go. I’ll have this sorted by the time he gets here.”

“But—” Harry protested stubbornly, as the clock began to ring at the stroke of noon.

“GO!” Narcissa cried desperately, as Bellatrix began to stir.

Harry cradled the clock to his chest and looked into Narcissa’s eyes with a firm set to his jaw, holding on for dear life as he endured the familiar feeling of having a hook inserted through his navel, which promptly whirled him upward through the air and into darkness.

Chapter Text


Author's notes: Harry and Malfoy finally switch back.


Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

A/N: For Not Hardly. YES, I have FINALLY put aside my looming finals to update this story. I am VERY sorry it's taken so long, but I've had a few nervous breakdowns from all of the commitments I've taken upon myself. Rest assured, spring break is coming soon and I'll have another update for you then. Until then, enjoy. Readers and reviews are, as always, greatly loved and appreciated.

~*~

When Harry landed on the ground it was with a resounding ‘THUD’ that knocked him squarely onto his arse. Instantly he was yanked to his feet by two freckled pairs of arms and clapped on the shoulders by a swarm of hands accompanied by faceless shouts of elation. The room spun around him and it took a moment to regain his balance, but finally the delighted faces of the Weasley clan and the Order of the Phoenix swam into focus. In the corner with a face shrouded in shadow stood the one person Harry was most anxious to speak with, but his attention swiftly turned to the massive group surrounding him and chattering to him and amongst one another. Many gasped when he appeared before them, clearly not expecting to see Draco Malfoy in their midst even though they must have been briefed on the situation prior to his arrival. Mrs. Weasley was fussing over him, something about looking like he hadn’t eaten in months, and Mr. Weasley looked anxious to question him about illegal objects hidden away in Malfoy Manor.

“D’you mind giving me some room to breathe?” Harry asked, and the majority of the crowd left with well-wishes—including a sullen Mr. Weasley, whom Mrs. Weasley fixed with a pointed glare before smiling comfortingly at Harry—leaving only him, Ron, Hermione, and Malfoy in the room. And with Malfoy there, as much as he loved them, Ron and Hermione could have buggered off and he’d never have noticed.

“Oh, Harry, I’m so glad you’re safe!” Hermione exclaimed with a gasp, leaping forward to hug him within an inch of his life. Harry hugged her back quickly and she held on for a few moments more before realizing that he hadn’t returned the embrace. With a quick look at his face and a glance back at Malfoy she coughed, hiding a smile, and turned to join the festivities downstairs.

“How was it, mate? Did you ride any of the peacocks that lot has roaming the grounds? I’d lasso one if it was me, take it for a bit of a spin,” Ron said, grinning, and flinched when Hermione cuffed him on the shoulder. “Ouch!”

“You can’t ‘take a peacock for a bit of a spin,’ Ron, they’re not hippogriffs,” Hermione said with an exasperated sigh, rolling her eyes. "We'll catch up later, Harry, Ron's mum said she needed our help downstairs with dinner.”

“Bollocks did she, she’s got it sorted with the rest of that lot—” Ron began, belligerently, pointing toward the stairs. An explosion of laughter rang from the kitchen and he raised his eyebrows as if to say, ‘See?

Now, Ronald,” Hermione said firmly, glaring until Ron looked at each of them in turn and promptly left with a scowl, stomping down the stairs and muttering something that sounded dangerously like, 'mardy twat'. Hermione followed him with an irritated frown, stopping in the doorway to give Harry and Malfoy a sobering glance before she left the room. “Behave, you two.” The door closed behind her, leaving them both uncomfortably aware of the fact that they were quite alone. The few weeks they’d been apart had seemed to Harry like a lifetime, and he found himself struggling with what to say. Malfoy seemed to be caught in the same dilemma.

“How long have I got?” Malfoy finally asked, refusing to meet Harry’s eyes as he sank against the wall and subconsciously tried to make himself smaller, less threatening. With a jolt Harry remembered the state in which he’d left Malfoy Manner; Narcissa’s desperate command, Bellatrix slowly stirring from her unconscious state on the floor.

“A few minutes, I reckon, if your mum’s fair at creating diversions,” Harry replied quietly, taking in his own appearance as it chewed its lip across the room. He fidgeted awkwardly before nodding in Malfoy’s direction. “Bad habit, that—you’ll chap them.”

“What do you care? I’ll be myself again soon enough, it’s my own lips I’m chapping,” Malfoy snarled, and Harry took a step back at the intensity of his words.

“What do you mean, you’ll be back to yourself? The potion lasts a week—”

“I didn’t take the last of mine,” Malfoy said shortly, glancing somewhere to the right of where Harry was standing and refusing to make eye contact. Harry almost wanted to deliberately step into his line of sight, but that would have been petty, and Malfoy clearly had enough to be getting on with at the moment. “Granger told me to, and I was about to swallow the last of it when the Order showed up and brought me to this rubbish heap.”

“Oh,” Harry said, and for some reason he found himself lost for words. What could he say? Nothing eloquent or articulate, that was certain.

“Oh? Oh? Well said, Potter,” Malfoy spat, and it was only after two weeks of meticulously studying Malfoy’s few and muted expressions that Harry was able to identify the veiled fear—an expression that was wholly Malfoy’s—reflected on his own face. “Are you not even going to tell me what I’m about to walk about into? Or have you still got your knickers in a twist over the whole Polyjuice bollocks?”

“Your mum petitioned the Order for asylum. Bellatrix found the letter she’d written and was about to torture her for it when the Portkey activated. I tried to bring your mum with me but she told me that she had to be there when you got back or it’d look suspicious,” Harry replied tonelessly, taking no pleasure at the way Malfoy flinched periodically during his stoic recollection.

“Well you’re just fucking useless, aren’t you?” Malfoy snapped with a sneer, crossing his arms over his chest as his features drew together in an effort to conceal his misery. "It never occurred to you somewhere in that embarrassingly feeble mind of yours to try and convince her to come with you? Or are you just incapable of any thought whatsoever, you complete mong?”

Harry watched with burning cheeks, forcing himself to choke back the biting retort on the edge of his lips as Malfoy stopped speaking with an anguished groan. His face contorted in pain as his nose lengthened, his dark hair melting into a wave of platinum that spilled forward from the nape of his neck and fanned outward as his eyes flashed grey. With a soft cry he turned to face the wall, his limbs stretching and thinning until he was once again the lanky, graceful pure-blood wizard that Harry had grown to hate increasingly less over the past few weeks. When Malfoy finally turned around Harry could have sworn he glimpsed a flash of regret in his face and something else he couldn’t identify, both of which disappeared as quickly as they had surfaced. Malfoy looked down at his hands, flexing and curling his fingers in front of his face as though greeting a long forgotten friend before reaching up to touch his cheeks.

“How do you plan on getting back, then?” Harry asked hesitantly, and his breath caught in his throat when Malfoy’s eyes snapped up to meet his gaze. Slowly, with the finesse of a tiger stalking its prey, Malfoy crossed the room and reached forward to pry the Portkey—which Harry hadn’t realized he was still holding until this moment—from his hands. It was another moment before Harry remembered to exhale, and simultaneously they both seemed to realize exactly how close in proximity they were to one another.

A flood of memories crashed to the front of his mind: himself, as Malfoy, wanking in Malfoy’s wardrobe; Malfoy tossing off in his bed, moaning all of the dirty things he wanted Harry to do to him; dream after agonizing dream of sucking Malfoy off, fucking him raw, all of the dirty little kinks he’d never admit to anywhere but in the dead of night while Malfoy rose and fell above him in rhythmic waves.

“The Portkey is set to leave any minute,” Malfoy murmured inscrutably, absently stroking the face of the clock with his thumb. His eyes never left Harry’s face and his own was more guarded than ever. Was Malfoy going to hit him? It might have been for the best, considering Harry was desperately attempting to banish the images swimming through his head before his hormones betrayed him… Merlin, what he wouldn’t give to have Malfoy writhing underneath him just once before the end of the world as they knew it.

A calculating expression flickered across Malfoy’s face, who seemed to have been following the same train of thought, and without warning Malfoy’s lips met his in a tentative, exploring rush, and instinctively he swept his tongue across Malfoy’s lower lip.

It was as though they’d finally reached the culmination of weeks of foreplay; there was something desperate and feral in the way Malfoy shamelessly ground their hips together, dragging his fingers through Harry’s blond locks and yanking in a way that made Harry cry out against his mouth. Briefly Harry thought of how odd it would be if anyone were to walk in on them in this moment, and out of the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of two Malfoys rutting against each other in a mirror across the room, cheeks flushed, eyes heavy-lidded with lust. It was nearly enough to get him off right then and it didn’t help matters when Malfoy thrust against Harry with a muffled groan, coaxing Harry’s tongue further into his mouth, and in a frenzied, desperate tangle of limbs and tongues and mouths Malfoy finally came to himself and shoved Harry away, breathing heavily.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Malfoy asked numbly, dragging the back of his hand against his mouth. Harry touched his own lips in bemusement, deciding not to point out that Malfoy had kissed him first. “Fuck me, what the buggering fuck am I doing?” Malfoy stared at the clock in his hands with something akin to fear when it began to glow in preparation for its departure. With what Harry could have sworn was the barest flash of disappointment, Malfoy's lips curled into a grim smile as he held up two fingers in Harry’s direction. “Not much to say now, is there? Try not to get yourself blown up, Scarhead.”

“Piss off, you narcissistic wanker,” Harry shot back, and as though responding to his retort the Portkey began vibrating wildly. Malfoy’s lips drew back in a bitter smile when the door crashed open and half of the Order spilled into the room, wands out. They looked from one Malfoy to the other as though searching for some sign as to which was the “real” one when Hermione shoved past them, glanced at Harry, and immediately looked to where Malfoy himself was holding the Portkey.

“Stop, you can’t go back yet! It isn’t safe!” Hermione shouted frantically, but Malfoy had gone before she’d opened her mouth. Furious tears swam to the corners of her eyes and she knocked an ugly vase to the floor in frustration, making a noise like an angry cat when it smashed into jagged pieces. “God damnit!”

“Don’t feel too bad, I doubt Harry’s gutted; that thing was horrid. What was he supposed to do, stuff it with dandelions and bang it on the table?” Ron asked, surveying the damage with raised eyebrows. He quailed when Hermione fixed him with a fierce stare and shoved her way out of the room, muttering to herself about books and bloodline enchantments.

“Blimey, think all this Malfoy business made her a bit mental, mate?” Ron asked, scratching his head as he watched her go. Privately Harry thought that he might have an idea about what had Hermione so upset, but it was beyond mad to consider that Hermione and Malfoy had forged anything more than a truce over the time he’d spent at the Dursley’s. How much time could they have spent together, really? It wasn’t as though the Dursleys left him alone all that often. Did she know something he didn’t?

Ignoring Ron’s protests and the murmurings of the witches and wizards that were slowly filing out of the room, Harry left to find Hermione. After a few minutes of fruitless searching he discovered her in the drawing room with her nose buried so far into a book that he thought she might disappear into it, muttering quietly to herself.

“That was dramatic,” Harry said quietly, taking a seat beside her and skimming the titles of the books she’d strewn across the desk. Each had to do with wizarding genealogy or bloodlines, and each was heavily dog-eared or underlined with tiny, meticulous notes scribbled into the margins in looping script.

“He’s going to get himself killed,” Hermione shot back, pushing a lock of frizzy waves behind her ear. “He has absolutely no idea what he’s doing. For all we know, he could be dead right now! Or worse!”

“There isn't much that's worse than death,” Harry began mildly, thinking of Sirius and attempting to ignore the painful churning in his stomach.

“Have you not heard a single thing that Dumbledore has said for the past five years?” Hermione asked, looking up from her book with an expression of incredulity that would have been funny if the situation weren’t so grave. “A part of Malfoy is already dead inside, he could care less if he’s Marked! But it would destroy a larger part of him if it happened, I just know it would! Can’t you see how desperate he is for your approval?”

“My approval?” Harry asked, taken slightly aback. “Why would he need—”

“I love you, I really do, but sometimes you’re even more daft than Ron,” Hermione said, sighing, “and that’s saying quite a lot.” Feeling it was better to remain silent than open his mouth and prove her point, Harry contented himself with a glare of annoyance. Hermione smiled, shaking her head. “Do you honestly not see it, you complete arse? He’s in love with you.”

Harry’s stomach dropped violently and he scarcely heard anything but the blood rushing in his ears, his mind replaying his recent interactions with Malfoy like a film that was stuck on an endless loop. “He’s not.”

“He is, I promise, and we have to—”

“He is NOT!” Harry shouted far louder than he'd intended, and the dull murmur of voices in the next room fell silent abruptly. “Malfoy hates me! He tricked me into switching places, he nearly got me killed, he’s a massive git—”

“And if you’d pull your head out of your arse for two seconds, Harry James Potter, you’d see that he’s been punishing himself for everything since you first met and it’s tearing him apart because he’s had to choose between the people he’s known all his life and the person he wants more than anything, even if they clearly don’t return his feelings!” Hermione cried, her hands balled so tightly into fists that her knuckles had turned white with strain. Harry abruptly fell silent in shock at this unprecedented defense of Malfoy, wondering vaguely if she and Pansy had decided to take a leaf out of Malfoy's book and Polyjuice themselves for a laugh. “Forget that he’s an entitled prick, forget that his parents are foul, forget that he was arbitrarily Sorted into a different House! It took me ages to get past his blatant classism and abhorrent racism and forgive him for the way he’s always treated us, but I finally got to see the real Malfoy at the Dursleys’ and he’s not the person we always thought he was. And even if he were, he clearly doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps with Voldemort, and how dare you condemn anyone to a sentence like that if they’re obviously willing to go to such extraordinary lengths to escape?”

As he mulled over her words, Harry grudgingly admitted that she had a point. After all, the Malfoy that he had known for the past five years certainly would never have kissed him like that. What else had he been hiding all this time? But then, did that actually mean that Malfoy was in love with him? The world had gone completely and utterly mad, and he had no idea how to put it right.

“What do we do now?” Harry asked quietly, refusing to look Hermione in the eyes.

“Now we fight,” she said simply, as though it were merely a matter of marching to Malfoy Manor, casting a few hexes, and making it back home in time for tea. Harry frowned at the carpet, nudging at the leg of the desk with his foot as he chewed his lip in thought. He released it, reminded painfully of Malfoy and their exchange only minutes before.

“Now we fight,” he agreed.

Chapter Text


Author's notes: The Order attempts to find a way to save Malfoy and Narcissa and embark on a journey to save them.


Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

A/N: For Not Hardly. Sorry this has taken so long!! I hoped it would be a nice surprise for those of you who are still following it… Enjoy!

UPDATE 7/21/12: I'm currently working on Chapter Thirteen, and an update should be posted within the next couple days. Keep checking back, I promise I haven't abandoned this! I have a page so far... Thank you to everyone who's stuck with me over the hiatus!

~*~

“What do we do now?” Harry asked quietly, refusing to look Hermione in the eyes.

“Now we fight,” she said simply, as though it were merely a matter of marching to Malfoy Manor, casting a few hexes, and making it back home in time for tea. Harry frowned at the carpet, nudging at the leg of the desk with his foot as he chewed his lip in thought. He released it, reminded painfully of Malfoy and their exchange only minutes before.

“Now we fight,” he agreed.

~*~

Once again the noise that had previously bordered on chaotic died in the kitchen as Harry and Hermione entered, their faces grim. Ron’s distinctive guffaw faltered around the chicken wing he’d been gnawing on and he swallowed the bite in his mouth as his lips fell into a hard line. Harry caught sight of himself in a mirror across the room and inwardly lamented how worn his expression had become over the past few weeks; how tense his muscles had coiled with the strain of constantly keeping himself in rigid lockstep with the Malfoy persona. The past few weeks had seemed to pass in the blink of an eye while simultaneously managing to stretch on forever and he could tell that he wasn’t the only one who thought so. After a moment of surveying the room and its occupants, Harry cleared his throat.

“I have to go to Malfoy Manor,” he began, and immediately the room was engulfed in a flurry of whispered chatter. Suddenly the room was silent again and Harry turned to find Hermione glaring from behind him with her arms crossed. Her lips twitched with the vaguest hint of a smile when she noticed him looking and subtly nodded her chin toward the small crowd. He looked back to find a collection of pallid faces set with grim determination staring back at him. “I’m not asking any of you to go with me—”

“Yeah, right, like we’d let you bollock this up on yer own,” Seamus called from the back, and the room erupted with laughter.

“Bollocking aside,” Harry said pointedly over the snickering, “we need to have some sort of plan fleshed out. I know I typically run into these things head-on and leave the rest to chance, but I can’t do that when I’m asking others to risk their lives for me—which is what you lot would be doing. Well, not even for me. Draco Malfoy and his mum have defected and we’ve got to get him back, it’s the only way—”

“Only way what, to give him another shot at risking your neck for his sorry arse again?” Ron asked sourly, his eyes narrowed. “Don’t get me wrong, mate, I’m behind you on this, full stop, but is Malfoy worth this much of a gamble?”

“Yes.” Hermione said from behind him before he’d had a chance to respond and Harry didn’t dare turn around, Ron’s expression was so hilariously stricken. “Malfoy may have put Harry’s life in danger initially but he is a valuable resource both in terms of information and strategy; he knows the workings of Voldemort’s inner circle, their weaknesses, and what they might be planning. He’s been stuck in the Muggle world for a few weeks but as a defected wizard seeking asylum we’re honor-bound as members of the Order to rescue him and his mum from Malfoy Manor and provide them with protection as only we can,” she declared firmly, and faint murmurs greeted the end of her speech. “Are there any lingering objections?”

“Do you reckon that Malfoy would do the same for any of us?” Neville asked quietly from the back, looking as surprised himself for speaking out as others around him appeared to be.

“He already has, for me,” Harry said quietly, his gaze flicking back to the spot where Malfoy had stood only moments prior. “I’d still be at Malfoy Manor if not for him and everyone else here. His mum risked her skin sending that letter to Dumbledore; it may have been intercepted but he clearly had his ways of receiving it and passing on the message to you lot, didn’t he? Yes, they buggered up joining the wrong side and yes, Malfoy put my life in danger trying to save himself but in the end he tried to put it right, which is all I’d ever ask from any of you.”

“Fair enough,” Luna said dreamily from the corner of the room as she wove a spider web back and forth through her fingers. She pushed her fringe from her eyes with the back of her wrist and stared at the ceiling as she chewed her lower lip, her head tilted to one side. “I’m not the fondest of Draco Malfoy, certainly, but I trust you, and if you trust him then I suppose it’s only logical that I should trust your judgment. Does this mean you have a plan, then? Are we using Thestrals? I do love Thestrals.”

Harry shot a quick glance back at Hermione, who seemed to be considering something.

“They would be a rather unusual form of transportation,” she said slowly, pursing her lips as she stared into space. “As such, he might not be expecting them. We could only have pure-bloods or half-bloods riding them, however, considering the strength of the Malfoy wards... Everyone else—”

“Wotcher, Hermione,” Tonks said from within the throng, two fingers held aloft to signal an interjection. “I may be dead clumsy but I am an Auror, a Metamorphmagus, and related to the Malfoys through pureblood inbreeding to boot… Might I suggest we try pulling another bait-and-switch?”

“Absolutely not,” Lupin said quickly, cottoning on to her train of thought long before Harry or most anyone else besides Hermione had done. “It’s far too dangerous—”

“What would you call sending this lot in to risk their lives, then? A garden party?” Tonks shot back, the roots of her hair turning fiercely ginger with annoyance. “It’s the only plan on the table so far.”

“And it’s about as fleshed out as a potted Mandrake; it’s suicide! How Lord Voldemort didn’t discover Harry and Malfoy’s deception is a mystery that continues to baffle me, but I’m not about to stand by and watch you sacrifice your life just because we didn’t want to think of any alternatives!” Lupin shouted, and Harry was taken aback to see his former professor lose his composure in a manner that was so unlike himself.

“That’s all brilliant for you outside-the-box thinkers, but if you wouldn’t mind catching the rest of us up…” Ron began impatiently, looking quite annoyed at the current derailed train of conversation.

“Tonks wants to disguise herself as Narcissa and take her place for long enough that the real Narcissa can escape before somehow escaping herself with Malfoy before he’s branded with the Dark Mark,” Hermione said quietly, the defeated hunch in her shoulders speaking plainly for her.

“It’s not happening; I can’t even afford to be this animated so close to the full moon, but I can tell you it’s not happening,” Lupin remarked emphatically, slamming the palms of his hands down on the table with enough force to send a crack from their point of impact to the center before Hermione repaired the damage with a casual flick of her wand.

“You think of something then, Remus, every second we spend arguing is another second that my aunt and cousin might be killed! They’re my family, I can’t just stand by and bicker while they’re in mortal peril!” Tonks cried, her hair now fully a vibrant shade of red as her hands balled into fists and shook at her sides.

“How would we get you out once Narcissa and Malfoy are safe?” Hermione asked, boring holes into the table with her gaze as she appeared to mentally weigh their options. Tonks opened and closed her mouth to reply and stopped, looking defeated.

“I suppose you couldn’t just Apparate in, wands blazing?” she said weakly, shrugging as she looked to one side.

“You can’t Apparate while the wards are in place,” Kingsley said sharply, his booming voice cutting through the silence as he surveyed Tonks’s face.

“I already said we could use Thestrals,” Luna said brightly again, gazing longingly out the window at a bare patch of grass that was rippling on its own in the back garden. “They can get through wards that wizards can’t. If we could Bind each person who wished to enter Malfoy Manor’s wards to a Thestral and Disillusion them both, they would each stand a chance of making it through to rescue Tonks before she was killed by the Death Eaters.”

“Don’t be a prat, Luna, half of us can’t see Thestrals to begin with,” Seamus snapped, looking outside as though half-expecting to catch a glimpse of one of them gnawing on a gnome.

“Visible or not, they’re our best shot at the moment,” Hermione said quietly, her brows creasing.

“And what happens when this thing kicks off, then? Do we set the Thestrals on the Death Eaters and make a run for it? I mean, V-V-Voldemort must’ve been able to see them since he was in nappies,” Ron demanded, subconsciously holding his wand to his chest in a protective manner. He wasn’t the only one who looked frightened at the prospect of confronting the Dark wizards head-on in a hostage situation; Neville’s face bore a strong resemblance to Nearly Headless Nick’s with all the color he’d lost, and Dean Thomas had been chewing on the end of a firework for the duration of the conversation. Apparently it had been one of Dr. Filibuster’s Fabulous Wet-Start, No-Heat Fireworks because with a blast like a cannon it rocketed out into the sky and burst into a shower of brilliant pink and blue flowers that grew in midair and spiraled into oblivion. Seamus was on the floor laughing, banging the ground with his fist while a silently amused Hermione healed a grumbling Dean with her wand.

“All distractions aside,” Harry said loudly, and the laughter hastily quieted to muffled giggles, “is anyone willing to join me in this rescue mission at Malfoy Manor? I’m not going to lie, some of you may die in the process. It certainly won’t be as easy as walking in, snatching Malfoy out of a tea party, and strolling back out unnoticed. The Death Eaters won’t want to let him go, and as such they’re likely to put up a boggart of a fight. That said, who’s willing to come with me?”

“I will,” Tonks said immediately, and Lupin’s face immediately closed down. “I’m still willing to disguise myself if necessary to give you lot time to grab Draco and my aunt and get out.”

“We might need to take you up on that,” Hermione replied softly, and Tonks nodded.

“I’m going too,” Seamus said, setting his shoulders with a grim expression. “Someone needs to keep an eye out, and I probably know more destructive spells than the lot of you combined. I’ll run demolition crew if this goes arse over tits.”

Slowly a chorus of volunteers made themselves known and next thing he knew Harry found himself on a patch of grass and weeds outside in the back garden, holding a slab of raw steak and feeling rather foolish as he waited for the grazing Thestral to amble over. After a moment it snorted and trotted across the lawn, fanning its wings as it came closer.

“Well done, mate!” Ron exclaimed as the steak lifted into the air seemingly of its own accord, though Harry watched as the black jaw snatched the rest of the steak and swallowed it whole. Docile, the Thestral sank to the ground and made a high-pitched clicking noise that sounded almost like contentment. It snatched a bite of Dean’s bacon sandwich from his hand as he walked by and he promptly dropped the rest with a shout of surprise as everyone laughed.

“Here we go,” Hermione said, and Harry felt his hair ruffle as a flurry of beating wings materialized with the appearance of six Thestrals who landed next to the pile of meat that Ron had just brought from the kitchen and thrown unceremoniously onto the ground. They kicked the ground and gave a haunting cry as they snatched up the meat and stared in a silent challenge at the assembled witches and wizards. “Everyone take care to approach them slowly! Mind your fingers, especially if you carried out the bait.”

“You bloody well better believe I’m washing my hands before I touch one of those things,” Ron muttered, his eyes searching wildly for the beings that were pounding the ground with their hooves. A Thestral standing directly behind him snorted and he jumped with a small shout.

“Does everyone have a Thestral, then? Brilliant. All right—Adherous,” Hermione cried, and magical ropes burst from the end of her wand which scooped each rider onto their Thestral and held them tightly against it. After a moment the ropes shimmered and disappeared, though Harry felt the odd sensation of having his hands and legs fastened to the creature’s sides. “Wands at the ready, everyone!”

Harry didn’t need to be told twice; in an instant his wand appeared in his hand and he nervously pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose before flattening his hair, which had been tossed and turned by the wind from the Thestrals’ beating wings. Anxiously he clenched each side of the Thestral’s long neck and relaxed slightly when Luna patted his shoulder in a comforting manner.

“It’ll all turn out all right, Harry, you’ll see,” she said serenely, a gentle smile tugging at the corners of her lips. “We’ll get him back.”

“You reckon?” Harry asked, shutting his eyes as the Thestral began its ascent along with its fellows, rocking with the awkward motion of the Thestral’s bones under its skin. Draco’s face flashed briefly into his mind and Harry shook his head to banish it, his stomach coiling uncomfortably.

“I’m certain. You love him too much to fail,” Luna said, her tone unchanged as she leaned forward and rested her cheek against his shoulder blade. Harry opened his mouth to respond and shut it when he couldn’t decide what to say; anything would have sounded defensive or angry, neither of which was his intention. He resolved instead to prepare himself for the fight and started with a jolt as Narcissa Malfoy rode past him in midair on a Thestral. He relaxed when he saw that she was clutching the waist of a very perturbed Lupin, who had forced his lips into a line thin enough to rival McGonagall’s. Kingsley was eyeing the pair of them with an expression bordering on disapproval as McGonagall herself grabbed him around the middle, flanked by Seamus and Dean on one Thestral and Molly and Arthur on another. Ron and Ginny quickly caught up from the rear and pulled into the sky beside them, their faces set with grim expressions. Fred and George took their place in the back, their usual cheer all but gone as though Banished by their imminent task.

“Shouldn’t be long now, Harry!” Kingsley called from beside him, and he nodded in response. Luna tightened her arms around his waist and within minutes they approached Wiltshire, Malfoy Manor looming in the distance like a menacing challenge.

Getting to the manor wasn’t difficult, it would be staying alive once they got there and actually accomplishing the switch and rescue that would be the problem. He only hoped that they would be able to come out of this better than Cedric had the last time that he and Voldemort had met.

Gathering every inch of his resolve, Harry sped towards the manor. He only hoped that they’d get there in time.

Chapter Text


Author's notes: The Order storms the Manor.


Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

A/N: For Not Hardly. I know this has taken an EMBARRASSINGLY long time to update, but now that I'm in graduate school I don't have nearly the spare time that I used to. For those of you who are still following, you have my undying gratitude and I hope your patience was rewarded with this update. My apologies in advance for the cliffhanger.

NOTE: This story's warnings have been UPDATED to include a character death--NOT Harry or Draco.

Enjoy!

~*~

When they finally reached the grounds of Malfoy Manor, an ominous sunset had stained the horizon in various shades of red and orange that slowly filtered up into the dusk like a ghostly echo of the sunrise that had enveloped the sky at daybreak. There had been a surprising lack of any disturbances as the Order crossed through the wards, and Harry felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand upright when his Thestral finally touched down on the rippling grass. It flapped its leathery wings on either side of him and trotted anxiously in place—completely departing from the usual stoicism for which Thestrals were generally known—as Harry surveyed the grounds with hawk-like precision.

“I don’t like this,” Ron said in a low voice from beside him, his face a mirror of the terror and adrenaline that Harry wished he could express without inspiring panic in his companions. “I don’t like it one bit. Where are the bloody peacocks?”

“Perhaps You-Know-Who got tired o’ walking ‘round and decided to try that bit with the lasso you were so keen on,” Seamus said sarcastically, and Dean snorted before falling silent at Hermione’s murderous glare.

“Will you two shut it?” she hissed, her eyes never leaving the Manor. “We’re all terrified, but that doesn’t mean you need to have a laugh while the rest of us are trying to figure out why exactly we were able to breach the wards so easily.”

“You heard Luna,” Ron said, his voice brimming with false bravado. “Thestrals can get through wards. We made it here safe, so why are you having a go at me for stating the obvious? Do we even have a plan for getting the git and his mum back? I don’t fancy walking up to the front door and asking You-Know-Who to toss them out onto the lawn, but I haven’t heard any brilliant ideas from the rest of this lot, and as far as I can see we’re no closer to getting Malfoy back than we were at Gri—”

Hermione made a flinching motion towards Ron but Kingsley got there first, clapping a hand over Ron’s mouth before it could utter the full name of Sirius’s former residence. Kingsley’s outward appearance was calm, but his eyes blazed with warning as he scanned the grounds with the wand in his opposite hand.

Through gritted teeth, Hermione said softly, “Use your head, Ron. Regardless of whether we were able to get through the wards, Voldemort and Lucius are not stupid. They’ll have set up alarms that will already have notified them to our entrance—and subsequent presence—on the grounds. The Thestrals are losing their heads, we have no idea where Draco and Narcissa are—if they’re still alive—and if the Death Eaters know we’re here in the first place, they’re very likely to have cast Surveillance Charms over the area. Whether or not this is actually the case, do you really want to chance it by ruining the protection of the Fidelius Charm as soon as we set foot on the property?”

Managing to look both surly and abashed as his ears burned pink, Ron shook his head and pushed Kingsley’s arm away a split second after Kingsley moved it.

The grounds, indeed, were quiet—gravely so. The barest exhalation of a whispering breeze was absent, as though the Manor itself were holding its breath in the wake of the impending darkness. Not a leaf twitched in any of the carefully manicured topiaries, not a blade of grass flinched at the Order’s arrival, not a vine strayed from the Manor’s meticulous trellis, beyond which the back garden had been bedecked for a formal ceremony. Harry almost wanted to jump out and shout “Boo!” to disturb the unnatural peace and see whether any of the trees would spontaneously divest themselves of their leaves.

“Do we have a plan for getting inside the Manor?” Luna asked, smiling serenely and toying with a lock of her hair as she gazed above the towering roof. “I do hope we don’t disturb the Nargles, they’re resting ever so quietly in the mistletoe.”

Seamus and Dean shot each other bemused looks while Hermione hid a laugh behind her hand by turning it quickly into a cough. “Seamus, are you prepared?” she asked, regaining her composure at the threat that was soon to await them within the Manor’s walls.

“As a Scout,” Seamus shot back with a roguish wink, patting a small leather case that bulged ominously at his side. There was a muffled exclamation from inside the case, which began moving of its own accord, and Seamus elbowed a rather odd-shaped lump that instantly hissed and fell silent. Ginny’s gaze sharpened at the noise and she subconsciously took a step forward, her hand tenuously outstretched.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Gin,” Dean said evenly, and Ginny’s hand dropped to her side, though Harry was certain that the ghosts behind her eyes masked a self-loathing fear bred from her secretive exploits during her first year at Hogwarts. Seamus shared a sidelong glance with Dean and within moments they vanished into thin air. Everyone but Hermione, Ginny, Harry, and Ron shared bemused glances; moments before they had left Grimmauld Place, Harry had entrusted his father’s Invisibility Cloak to the pair of them once they’d shared their plans with him. It was their best shot of getting into the Manor undetected.

Tonks, however, was another story.

“Are you sure there’s no other way?” Lupin asked quietly, a note of desperation permeating his voice.

“I’m afraid not,” Harry replied, refusing to meet Lupin’s eyes. They were sequestered to the lawn until Seamus and Dean’s plan came to fruition, which wouldn’t take long considering how adept they typically were when it came to engineering absolute havoc. They had long since taken up Fred and George’s mantle of mayhem, even going so far as to propose a business partnership with the twins that was currently under consideration. Fred and George were thus watching their actions closely in spite of the inherently dangerous climate, whispering to one another when one of the very top windows of the manner opened seemingly of its own accord—nudged by an errant breeze, no doubt—and fluttered closed moments later. “Shouldn’t be long now,” he murmured to himself.

For ten minutes, the party watched and waited, their breaths collectively held in suspense. Finally, Hermione nudged Harry as the grass sank towards them in the even indentations that signified footprints. It was truly a mark of Seamus and Dean’s skill that they had managed to enter and leave the building with such surreptitious skullduggery, though it was equally possible that the Death Eaters were so busy with preparations for the Marking Ceremony that they had simply neglected to pay attention to something as minor as a stealthy intrusion. Perhaps. But quite unlikely, especially considering the excitement that had just occurred between Bellatrix and Narcissa and the Dark Lord’s meticulous planning. Unless Narcissa had somehow managed to deflect their attention with some cleverly engineered diversion… But where was Malfoy?

As if he’d been privy to Harry’s thoughts, Seamus shrugged off the Invisibility Cloak and muttered, “No sign of Malfoy. No sign of You-Know-Who, either. All the Death Eaters are in the dining room talking bollocks, though a few are in the back garden preparing for the ceremony. We—Well, about Narcissa—” Seamus said awkwardly, scratching the back of his head as he looked away. “She—”

“She what?” demanded Hermione, casting a backwards glance at Tonks, who was still clad in Narcissa’s disguise.

“Let us say that the rumours of my capture were greatly exaggerated,” a voice murmured from behind them, and the Order turned swiftly to find Narcissa Malfoy flanked by no fewer than thirteen Death Eaters, all of whom had trained their wands on a corresponding member of the Order. “Dear, dear. We are so easily outsmarted, aren’t we?”

“Harry, what’s she talking about?” Ginny whispered, her voice laced with fear. Her hand tightly gripped her wand, but she was prevented from taking action by a sinister-looking bearded man in a tattered black cloak whose wand was trained on her face with careful precision. There was a crazed look in his eyes that seemed indicative of some sort of mental instability, for he appeared to be mumbling to himself in low undertones as an arrogant smirk stole across his lips. Ginny’s lip curled as she watched him, her brows narrowing in defensive derision.

“Yes, Harry, what is she talking about?” Bellatrix repeated mockingly, stepping from behind Narcissa with a manic grin. At that moment, Harry realized they’d been duped. The only question was whether Draco himself had been complicit, and to what extent. It was entirely possible that he hadn’t been aware of his mother’s plot; in fact, any suggestion to the contrary bordered on ludicrous. Why would he have gone to the extent of switching lives with Harry via a Polyjuice prank that bordered on suicidal? Or was it all just an elaborate plan to gain the Order’s sympathy and then lead them like lambs to their own slaughter at the last moment? “I must say, your likeness to my nephew is uncanny. Polyjuice? Naughty, naughty, widdle Hawwy… Does the big bad Ministry know you’re playing with potions they’ve so carefully tried to control?”

“Mother!” Malfoy shouted, running from the Manor in a full sprint. Everyone’s eyes snapped to his direction, and for a moment the Death Eaters and Order alike were stunned to the point of distraction. “Mother, stop!” His cheeks, normally so pallid, were now flushed in a wild, rare show of emotion, robes billowing as he ran. He arrived at the circle, panting, and laid a hand on Harry’s shoulder for support. Harry felt an odd thrill rush through him, a spark that he never thought he’d feel again in Malfoy’s presence.

“Mother!” came another voice from the woods, and again a multiplicity of heads turned in unison. “Mother, stop!” An identical Draco Malfoy, arriving in triplicate, burst into their gathering with equal fervor and unceremoniously shoved both Harry and Malfoy to the ground in a tangle of limbs and voices. Three Draco Malfoys now lay in a graceless heap on the ground, scuffling and protesting in unison, and both the Order and the Death Eaters stood frozen around them in utter confusion. The Death Eaters looked to Narcissa and Bellatrix for orders, but each woman seemed to be fighting some combination of amusement, disgust, fury, and fear. The Order looked to Kingsley and Hermione, who were just as befuddled and didn’t seem to have the faintest idea how to proceed.

Harry watched as Hermione’s brows knit in concentration. He, of course, had devised a plan immediately before they’d left for the sole purpose of confusing the opposition in hopes of gaining the upper hand. It was essential that he and one other Order member be the only two aware of the plan in case one of his fellows—though he trusted each of them implicitly—were spies, or unwitting accomplices for the other side. Finally the cogs appeared to click in Hermione’s brain as she counted the members who were still a part of the circle and correctly deduced the missing person. Her lips mouthed a single syllable and as soon as her eyes met Harry’s, he could tell she’d cottoned on to the plan. Lupin looked positively scandalized; he seemed to have just arrived at the same conclusion and appeared to be fighting a hysterical episode with great difficulty.

“You think you’re so bloody clever, don’t you?” Bellatrix growled, baring her teeth in a feral grin. The end of her wand erupted in an overeager shower of sparks that seemed to mirror her furious consternation.

“It would be a shame if Voldemort were to Mark the wrong Malfoy, wouldn’t it?” Hermione asked innocently, and Bellatrix snarled in response. Harry hoped dearly that the real Malfoy would get his expression bloody well in order before their trick was discovered, because he looked fairly shell-shocked at the moment. Luckily it seemed that Tonks had come to a similar realization; within moments her face was a similar pale mask of bemusement that Harry was quick to copy. Admittedly, he had to try not to laugh; watching not one but two other Malfoys bearing an expression worthy of Goyle was almost too much to bear.

“Stun them, Yaxley!” Bellatrix shrieked, and Yaxley trained his wand on each of the Malfoys in turn, his brow furrowing.

“All—all of ‘em, ma’am?” he asked gruffly.

“No, just the actual sodding Draco Malfoy—oh, wait! We can’t seem to figure out which one IS the actual sodding Draco Malfoy and we’re running a bit short on time, so yes, Yaxley, all of them!” Bellatrix spat sarcastically, looking murderous. “There are enough of you here to form a Quidditch team; might you at least make some use of yourselves instead of standing here like walking insults to the Dark Lord’s name?”

“Over my dead body, Lestrange,” Neville growled, training his wand on her face.

“It would be my greatest pleasure, Longbottom,” Bellatrix purred, her face a mask of scornful rage. “I do so hate loose ends… Your mummy screamed for us to spare you, did you know that? She screamed and screamed and screamed… I only wanted her to stop screaming, but the bitch just wouldn’t bloody take orders; no wonder your Order lot are such an embarrassment—”

Don’t you dare call my mother a bitch!” Neville shouted. “Crucio!

As Bellatrix fell to the ground, screaming in the throes of agony, spells erupted from the wands of Death Eaters and members of the Order alike until the sky was awash with rebounded curses, hexes, and jinxes. Harry immediately cast a Shield Charm and made his way towards Seamus, who was gravely battling a Death Eater whose face bore an ugly scar.

“How much longer, Seamus?” Harry murmured, trying to look terrified for his life while striving for the appearance that he was trying to find Narcissa. “Mum!” he screamed for effect, casting a Full Body-Bind over his shoulder, thrilled when it seemed that his curse had found a target by the resounding thud that signified a body unceremoniously hitting the ground.

“Can’t be more’n ten minutes, you lot took up the better part of’n hour. Great craic, mate,” Seamus said approvingly, carelessly tossing a handful of Dr. Filibuster’s Fabulous No-Heat, Wet-Start fireworks into the scuffle, which immediately flared to life and rocketed into the thick of battle in a shower of golden pinwheels and shimmering lightning bolts.

“Dr. Filibuster’s fireworks in our presence, Finnigan? Certainly not!” Fred roared over the din, taking his eyes off of his opponent for less than a second. Seamus blocked the curse that Fred’s attacker had thrown, looking sheepish and admittedly somewhat abashed.

“I haven’t been able to make it in lately, mate! You haven’t got a shop in Ireland yet; I keep waiting for you to expand! I can’t make it to Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade as often as I’d like! STUPEFY!” Seamus yelled, and a jet of red light hit Fred’s attacker square in the face. Seamus crowed in delight as the Death Eater fell, and Fred gave a short wave in thanks. Fred sprinted to where Ginny and Kingsley were battling Narcissa and a Death Eater that Harry had heard Bellatrix call “Carrow,” whose faces were pulled in dual expressions of rage and concentration.

“I suppose we’ll forgive you just this once, you pikey git,” Fred called in passing, and he’d almost reached Ginny when a solid stretch of green light grazed his shoulder and blazed past him to hit Malfoy squarely in the chest.

Malfoy fell to the ground in a heap and lay there silently as the battle raged on around him, and no one else seemed to notice. In that moment, in spite of the din that surrounded them, the entire battlefield went silent for Harry. It was as though he were the only hearing audience member in a silent movie and no one had told him that the sound was gone. A dull ringing buzzed in his ears and someone was screaming and he realized that it was him, it was him and he couldn’t stop, he couldn’t stop screaming and running and screaming and—

Harry!” Hermione shrieked, and her Shield Charm hit Harry with enough force that he was blown back on the ground as an orange bolt of lightning scattered in ricochet across the grounds. She ran towards him and he looked down at his own hands—his own hands–callused and scarred as they were from hours of relentless Quidditch practice and battle preparations, no longer the thin, elegant Malfoy hands that he’d been accustomed to for weeks now, and he howled as he began firing off hexes and curses at random in the Death Eaters’ general direction.

He didn’t even have time to process this realization because at that moment a massive section of Malfoy Manor burst violently into a forest of flames. They engulfed the roof in a torrent of fury and ate their way down the walls with a vengeance, heedless of the screams that erupted from inside. At that moment the battle stopped as over twenty heads turned in unison to witness the carnage as wizards and witches alike attempted to extinguish the flames, flames that were carving their way into each wing of the house as though they’d been charged to enact a vicious death sentence upon every inhabitant and guest in the dwelling. The Death Eaters at the battlefield Disapparated in unison, and Harry thought he caught a glimpse of the Dark Mark burned black on one of their forearms before the lot of them vanished.

Seamus and Dean were alone in their twin expressions of stoicism, and when he caught Harry’s eye, Seamus merely gave a tired wink and a nod. Fred and George watched the scene with mouths slightly agape and came to stand near Seamus and Dean, where they spoke in hushed whispers. Seamus's leather case was now gone, and Harry thought he saw a pale gray snake poke its head from one of Dean’s pockets before burrowing back in with a single hiss and a flash of red that glinted from its eyes.

And then Harry broke.

“You filthy bastards!” Harry shouted, now not even caring where he aimed his hexes in the growing, festering darkness, a darkness which appeared to breathe and writhe with a life of its own as his anguish was enveloped in darkness. He didn’t care that there were no opponents to fight, didn’t care that he was screaming fruitlessly into the night, didn’t care about anything but the body on the ground in a pale imitation of Cedric, the Boy He Couldn’t Save, and a fresh wave of guilt coursed through his veins like so much scalding ice. He had almost reached Malfoy, almost reached the cold, lifeless body that lay twisted on the ground in angles that no limbs should possibly be, when he realized two things at the same time.

The first was that in spite of a fairly large battle that had erupted semi-spontaneously on the grounds in front of Malfoy Manor, Lord Voldemort had until this point been suspiciously—and noticeably—absent.

The second was that the body on the ground—while a stunning likeness of his former childhood rival—was not, in fact, Draco Malfoy.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

A/N: For Not Hardly. Also, WARNING for this chapter--some grisly (albeit not gratuitous) violence.

“You filthy bastards!” Harry shouted, now not even caring where he aimed his hexes in the growing, festering darkness, a darkness which appeared to breathe and writhe with a life of its own as his anguish was enveloped in darkness. He didn’t care that there were no opponents to fight, didn’t care that he was screaming fruitlessly into the night, didn’t care about anything but the body on the ground in a pale imitation of Cedric, the Boy He Couldn’t Save, and a fresh wave of guilt coursed through his veins like so much scalding ice. He had almost reached Malfoy, almost reached the cold, lifeless body that lay twisted on the ground in angles that no limbs should possibly be, when he realized two things at the same time.

The first was that in spite of a fairly large battle that had erupted semi-spontaneously on the grounds in front of Malfoy Manor, Lord Voldemort had until this point been suspiciously—and noticeably—absent.

The second was that the body on the ground—while a stunning likeness of his former childhood rival—was not, in fact, Draco Malfoy.

~*~

“Harry, mate,” Ron said urgently, his eyes darting around the garden in frantic search of foes, “we’ve got to scarper before You-Know-Who shows up. There’s fuck-all we can do for her now.”

As Harry’s eyes adjusted to the grounds while flames licked at the sky in a fierce, brilliant inferno, he became vaguely aware that Ginny was tugging insistently at his arm and bloody well nearly pulling it out of its socket in the process. He yanked it away, desperately willing Tonks to rise from her eternal slumber and screw up her face until a dopey, entitled expression shone back at him in a pale imitation of his rotund cousin. Lupin seemed finally to have realized who had taken Malfoy’s place in their macabre masquerade, and the naked shock and anguish that cloaked his features soon morphed into a mottled, terrible rage that intensified as his nose elongated into a snout and his limbs stretched torturously, sprouting tufts of coarse fur in patches that soon covered the length of his frame. A despairing, agonized howl rippled through the air as his jaw spread wide enough to swallow the stars, and before Harry could fully process what was happening, Lupin had reared back on his hind legs to tower over the lot of them, snarling like a feral beast.

“Oh, no,” Hermione whispered, staring in horror at the sky where a fat, bulbous, iridescent moon hung in muted splendor from behind a curtain of wispy clouds that shimmered like candy floss. “I haven’t been able to perfect the Wolfsbane Potion, and he’s had no one to make it for him since before the summer holidays. He isn’t safe! RUN!

The members of the Order scattered, taking off haphazardly in groups of two or three that sprinted in staggered chaos towards the bounds of the wards that shielded the Manor. Ron and Malfoy had taken off with Harry, and after they’d run for what felt like hundreds of metres, they finally stopped near the edge of a labyrinth fashioned from topiaries that stretched as far as the eye could see. It reminded Harry nauseatingly of the Triwizard Tournament, and for a moment he found himself assaulted by memories of Cedric that jostled for prominence at the forefront of his mind with images of Tonks’s broken, mangled corpse.

“Just a bit farther, mate,” Ron panted, shoving Harry forwards into the maze. “If anyone’s able to figure out how to navigate a maze grown by a nutter like Lucius Malfoy, it’s the Malfoy heir, here, so in you get before those mad Death Eaters and the Dark Lord catch up to us.”

Feeling as though his trainers were moving forward on autopilot, Harry trudged forward and finally broke into a swift jog as fog coalesced from beneath the topiaries and wound its way up the sides of the maze in tendrils of sinister subterfuge. Something nagged at the corner of his mind, some detail that he knew he should have cottoned onto, and as though they shared one brain, Malfoy suddenly stopped dead in his tracks and raised his wand at Ron. For some reason, without even thinking consciously about it, Harry followed suit. He finally realized what had been bothering him since the explosion, and the confirmation of his fears wound itself into a tangled knot in his stomach that both nauseated and infuriated him.

“Since when have you called the Heir of Slytherin ‘the Dark Lord,’ Weasley?” Malfoy snarled softly, training his wand in the direction of Ron’s heart.

“Since when have you turned your back on your magical brethren to join the likes of blood traitors and Mudbloods, Malfoy?” Ron breathed menacingly, and a serpentine gleam flashed behind his eyes as his lips twisted into a cold, cruel sneer that had haunted Harry since their first encounter his first year at Hogwarts. “Or do you even deserve to bear that surname still, given the ignominy you have cast upon one of the noblest pure blood houses to serve the greatest wizard the world has ever known?”

It took Harry a moment to recover from the shock of hearing a word like “ignominy” come from Ron’s mouth, the feeling of which was akin to having met a vegetarian Thestral idly roaming the grounds of Hogwarts, but he set his jaw in grim determination as Ron’s skin slowly sallowed in the moonlight and his eyes cut cruel slits against his face. A taunting smirk played about his lips, and Harry felt terror and revulsion rising in him like a wave.

“What’s wrong, Potter?” Ron whispered in a raspy, villainous hiss as his eyes danced in wicked amusement. “Knarl got your tongue?”

“Where is Ron?” Harry asked, fighting to keep his tone even as he inwardly longed to strangle Voldemort with his bare hands, magic be damned.

“I imagine he’ll soon be joining Bellatrix and Narcissa’s dearly departed niece--if he hasn’t already,” Voldemort replied from Ron’s lips, training his wand almost lazily at Harry’s chest. “Though if I were you, the fate of that blood traitor would be the least of my concerns.”

A chill wind blasted past Harry in a cyclone, and when he touched his cheek to investigate the source of the wetness that had already begun to congeal, he found his fingers sticky with tacky blood. Voldemort/Ron looked mildly surprised, though with a swift downward slash of his wand, he had managed to block the brunt of the damage.

“Now, now, Draco,” Voldemort chided in a calm, even tone that clearly belied his naked fury, “didn’t Lucius even bother to teach you that it’s bad form to ambush an opponent who hasn’t yet chosen a second?”

“That lesson must have gotten lost somewhere between his penchant for house-elf caning and his obvious desire to bury his tongue deep in your arse, sir,” Malfoy shot back balefully, readying his wand for a second attack. Voldemort/Ron’s eyes widened almost imperceptibly, perhaps at the sheer cheek and vulgarity of Malfoy’s pronouncement, but he wasted no time in brandishing his wand like a whip and catching Malfoy’s neck in its invisible lash. Without a word, the noose tugged itself aloft until Malfoy’s heels lifted from the ground and his face sagged as he fruitlessly attempted to draw breath in keening rattles.

“Let him go!” Harry cried, as panic and adrenaline soared through his veins with an icy roar. “You can have me instead--just let Malfoy go!”

“Harry, no!” Hermione shrieked as she emerged into the clearing where the three of them were caught in a rancorous stalemate. Her eyes shifted briskly between them and she deduced what had taken place in what seemed like mere milliseconds. “STUPEFY!”

A jet of red light bounced off of what appeared to be an invisible shield surrounding Voldemort, and Ron’s lips curved in grim satisfaction. “The Boy Who Lived dares take shelter behind a filthy Mudblood? Dear me, how are the mighty fallen…”

Rage boiled through Harry until his wand almost seemed to point itself of its own accord, and suddenly Voldemort/Ron was thrashing about on his back in agony, his piercing screams blending with those of the combatants back on the Manor’s grounds.

“I see what Bellatrix meant, about really having to mean Unforgivable Curses,” Harry growled, ignoring Hermione’s shocked inhalation and Malfoy’s stunned silence. “Find another disguise or I’ll flay the flesh from your bones and feed it to the Thestrals in front of your precious Death Eaters. CRUCIO!” Again, shrieks of excruciating suffering permeated the night, though they were cut short when the lash that had previously spelled Malfoy’s certain demise latched itself around Harry’s neck and launched his wand from his hand.

“Master!” a hooded Death Eater croaked as he limped forward, Summoning Harry’s wand wordlessly and pocketing it before Harry, Hermione, or Malfoy could retrieve it. “The werewolf has slaughtered at least three from among our ranks! Soon he will join us in the labyrinth! If we do not act in great haste--”

The Death Eater’s words were cut short, however, as a tufted, elongated paw reached forward and snatched his head clean from his neck in gruesome fashion with a sickening crunch of snapping bone. Sinew glittered wetly in the moonlight, dripping blood in black spurts while four pairs of eyes watched the aftermath of his sudden decapitation in varying degrees of horror and shock. His body remained upright for one long, hideous moment until his knees buckled beneath him and his torso pitched forward, spilling grisly fluids and thicker, slicker things onto the dewy grass. Someone was whimpering, drawing breath in short gasps, and when Harry caught a glimpse of Hermione's face, she looked like she was about to be sick. Without thinking, Harry launched himself forward and grabbed Hermione and Malfoy by the hand, yanking them in the direction of the nearest opening which would lead them elsewhere in the sinister maze that loomed above them like a living, breathing nightmare. Hermione, with rare presence of mind given the abject panic of their situation, cast a quick Summoning Charm that sent Harry's wand zooming from the headless Death Eater's pocket and into her outstretched hand.

“Potter!” Voldemort bellowed in his own high, rasping voice, and a werewolf’s howl echoed as if in response. Harry didn’t know whether Voldemort had Disapparated or whether Lupin had killed him, but as desperately as he hoped for the latter, a sinking feeling in his stomach told him that the worst was yet to come.

OI! You lot, QUICK! GRAB ON!” Ginny shouted frantically as she sprinted from around a corner, thrusting the stone hand of a garden statue before her as it glowed a bright and brilliant blue. Harry clutched its protruding thumb as Hermione grabbed its knuckles, and Malfoy slapped his hand beneath its palm.

Two wretched, savage howls--one of unadulterated fury, the other of predatory glee--rang with a vengeance as Harry felt the familiar sensation of a fish hook jerking him up from behind his navel and carrying him away into oblivion.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

“Potter!” Voldemort bellowed in his own high, rasping voice, and a werewolf’s howl echoed as if in response. Harry didn’t know whether Voldemort had Disapparated or whether Lupin had killed him, but as desperately as he hoped for the latter, a sinking feeling in his stomach told him that the worst was yet to come.

OI! You lot, QUICK! GRAB ON!” Ginny shouted frantically as she sprinted from around a corner, thrusting the stone hand of a garden statue before her as it glowed a bright and brilliant blue. Harry clutched its protruding thumb as Hermione grabbed its knuckles, and Malfoy slapped his hand beneath its palm.

Two wretched, savage howls--one of unadulterated fury, the other of predatory glee--rang with a vengeance as Harry felt the familiar sensation of a fish hook jerking him up from behind his navel and carrying him away into oblivion.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When they arrived at what appeared to be the sitting room of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, Hermione immediately darted out of the room and thick, retching sounds could be heard from the corridor beyond the doorway. Malfoy stared blankly at the floor, the cogs of his mind furiously spinning as he contemplated their next plan of action despite his relative ignorance of who had survived the attack on Malfoy Manor and the current state of the Manor itself. For all he knew, everything from his prized Quidditch memorabilia to his personal pitch had been reduced to so much ash and cinders. How could he ever return home now? Could he even call it “home” anymore? For that matter… Had it ever really been? He’d begun dreading the thought of returning ever since he knew for certain what his father’s plans were for his life and his autonomy (or lack thereof)--and more and more he’d begun to call Hogwarts home. Which flew in the face of his breeding, but then, so did wanting to thoroughly shag The Boy Who Saved Sodding Everyone…

Shaking his head to rid himself of this dangerous train of thought, Malfoy cast a sidelong glance at Harry, who was gazing in abject despair at the wall ahead as though it were thousands of metres away.

Despite outward appearances, Harry had tried everything he could think of to channel his grief into rage, because otherwise he would start crying and there was no knowing if or when he’d stop. The foul memory of Tonks’s brutally contorted body was burned into his mind in technicolor, and he had no idea where Ron was or whether Ron was still alive. The body that Voldemort had possessed had seemed so corporeal, but he knew better than to trust appearances, especially where Voldemort was concerned… If it had been Ron, though, and Voldemort had been in possession of his body the way he had been Harry’s at the Ministry the night they broke into the Department of Mysteries, there was no telling the damage he’d caused to his best mate’s psyche in the short or long term. Some scars never truly healed... He was living proof of that.

“I’m gonna go find Mum and make some tea,” Ginny mumbled quietly, and she slipped out of the room like a ghost, leaving Harry alone with Malfoy and their tormented inner monologues.

“I’m sorry, Potter,” Malfoy finally blurted uncomfortably, looking distressed that his familial ties and his loyalty to his mother had very well gotten not only his cousin murdered, but also, possibly, Harry’s best mate; the Manor, as far as anyone reasonably knew, might not even still be standing. He tried to imagine the glorious Manor in ruins and gave up, finding its likeness replaced instead with the rather ludicrous mental image of Ron riding an ashen peacock across the grounds, cradling his head under one arm as though he were part of the Headless Hunt.

“You didn’t know she was taking us for fools, Malfoy,” Harry replied bitterly, and it was clear that his attempt to take the high road was battling his better judgment in a duel to the death. “She’d convinced me, too. If I hadn’t been so quick to play the hero, Ron would still be here and Tonks would be alive.”

The nauseating sound of matter hitting porcelain in wet clumps wafted from the corridor, and Malfoy crossed the room to close the door and placed a quick Silencing Charm on it. He made it Imperturbable for good measure, having learned a great deal about Extendable Ears from one of Hermione’s visits to Privet Drive.

“Don’t be a bellend,” Malfoy remarked casually, and Harry’s eyes snapped up to meet his face in indignant defiance. “That’s survivor’s guilt talking, and it does no one any good if you’re wallowing in your angst. There will be plenty of time for that later if we actually manage to rescue the Weasel and live to tell the tale.” There was none of his usual malice imbued in this moniker, and Harry was too emotionally exhausted to mount a counter-attack. Especially since, truth be told, Malfoy was right. He opened his mouth to begin planning their next move when Malfoy interrupted him.

“Don’t worry; you don’t have to say it. I already know.”

“Quit taking the piss; you wouldn’t even be right twice a day if I Transfigured you into a broken clock,” Harry grinned cheekily, and Malfoy rolled his eyes with a casual elegance that Harry had to assume was genetic.

“Speaking of broken clocks, what time is it? I feel like I haven’t eaten or slept in ages,” Malfoy yawned suddenly, covering his gaping mouth with the back of his hand.

For the first time, Harry noticed bags under Malfoy’s eyes that were twins of those he’d seen under Narcissa’s. He finally had some appreciation for how difficult it truly was to be the Malfoy heir. Almost every remark Lucius made had been self-serving, bigoted, or downright Dark. In a brief flash, his mind returned back to one of the nights that Narcissa had questioned him abstractly about Draco’s welfare and his whereabouts, and Lucius’s haughty tones once more requested Narcissa’s assistance so that one of the house elves would stop beating herself with a ladle because she was… What was it?... “Affecting the productivity of his research?” With a pang, he shoved aside Ron’s incredulous face swimming to the forefront of his conscious thoughts with a “barking mad” thrown in for good measure. He wasn’t wrong.

“Too late,” Harry responded unequivocally, smiling awkwardly with another painful jolt as he thought of the Weasleys’ clock and how Ron’s hand must currently be pointing at “mortal peril.”

Malfoy opened his mouth as if to say something, closed it as though he’d thought better of it, and crossed the room to leave. He stopped short of the door by about a metre, his hand hovering unsteadily over the doorknob.

“Why haven’t you ever asked Professor Dumbledore for help?” Harry asked quietly, and Malfoy could almost feel Harry’s eyes burning into the back of his skull. As if Malfoy hadn’t already mulled this question over thousands of times in his head only to smother it beneath his consciousness like a Lethifold, knowing it was as childish a fantasy as was believing in that fat bloke in the red suit that Muggle children let break into their homes and eat their biscuits so long as he left gifts behind. What a positively Hufflepuff holiday tradition. No Slytherin in their right mind--or even out of it, as he thought of what dear Aunt Bella might do if such an obese creature came sliding down the flue in the dead of night--would willingly allow such a thing. Slowly, he followed his meandering thoughts back to the topic at hand.

“Do you want the cynical answer or the real answer?” he inquired, turning on his heel to search Harry’s face.

“Yes,” Harry said simply. Draco sighed.

“The cynical answer? Dumbledore isn’t going to survive this War. My going to him will just hasten his demise. Whether the Dark Lord tasks me with his murder, or my father, or my mad aunt, he’ll be just as dead either way, and I’ll be punished doubly for having dared seek asylum to begin with--in case you weren’t paying attention when you saw how my aunt treated my mother for that very crime. The real answer? I don’t think he can. You’ve seen where I come from, Potter. You’ve walked in my shoes. I’m beyond help, where he’s concerned. If Dumbledore hid me, the Dark Lord would find me, or he’d torture my mother somewhere I was bound to find out to draw me out into the open. Truth be told, I’m trapped between a manticore and a Horntail here, and I’m about ready to let them both tear me apart.” A very pregnant silence followed this pronouncement, and both of their hands instinctively flew to their wands as the doorknob turned slowly and Dumbledore himself walked cheerfully into the room.

“I daresay, Mr. Malfoy, while I am not disinclined to agree with the premises that brought you to those conclusions, your assessment of the situation is not at all up to your usual standard,” Dumbledore responded jovially, his eyes twinkling. “Why, our very own Hagrid claims to be able to pacify manticores, though admittedly I have never had the good fortune to catch him at it myself. That is to say, while I am painfully aware of my own mortality, it is no excuse for a young wizard as intelligent as yourself not to seek creative solutions to seemingly insurmountable challenges. Though I shall be quite disappointed if my portrait in the Headmaster’s office lacks a generous supply of lemon drops.” His tone was quite serious, but the mirth in his eyes belied his words. How could he sit here and make jokes, the bastard? Dumbledore entered the room and closed the door behind himself, Conjuring a ghastly chintz armchair that looked appallingly out of place among the inimical portraits decorating the walls and the marble fireplace on the opposite side of the room. He sat, gesturing politely at the darkly upholstered sofa behind Harry, and the pair of them sat as though they were back in that very office awaiting their orders for detention.

“Oh, sure, I’m the Dark Lord’s Most Wanted with a sizable bounty on my head and I’ve likely been disinherited to boot, but let’s all mope about and moan over some missing sweets for the poor late Headmaster,” Malfoy sniped sarcastically, his face twisting in an uncomfortable combination of fear and derision.

“Alternatively, I would not be opposed to raspberry jam,” Dumbledore replied agreeably, and he held up one hand when Malfoy looked ready to fire off with a mardy retort. “Apologies, Draco; I do not mean to make light of what is undoubtedly a time of severe tribulation for you. However, much like Mr. Potter here and his Triwizard egg, sometimes the best solutions are discovered when one’s mind is given the chance to recover--however briefly--from the trauma whose steady onslaught would surely send even the most accomplished wizards to St. Mungo’s. Let us learn a sobering lesson from the foibles of Lazarus Colloredo, the wizard who found himself in a rather sadistic freak show for the entertainment of Muggles who gawked at his Squib brother Joannes who protruded, upside-down, from his chest, never giving him a moment’s peace until the pair of them went quite thorough ly mad. I believe their headstones lie in the St. Mungo’s cemetery, though Johannes’s perpendicular stone marker rather cruelly bisects his brother’s for reasons passing understanding.

“Whatever you may think of my modest abilities, two facts remain: We can do nothing to change our current circumstances tonight, since the Order needs time to plan a counter-strike, and no matter how debilitated you may feel in this very moment, you are as cunning and resourceful as you ever have been--you need only trust that you are not, in fact, the only person determined to keep you alive and unMarked.” Dumbledore’s matter-of-fact pronouncement was met with silence, and neither Harry nor Malfoy could meet his eyes. Malfoy cleared his throat uncomfortably as he swallowed back the tears that threatened to blur the edges of his vision, blinking rapidly.

“Then what would you have me do, sir?” Malfoy asked, and Harry’s stomach twisted into knots at the plaintive note of misery that threaded through Malfoy’s question like a phoenix song.

Dumbledore frowned pensively, tilting his head as if in deep thought. “If memory serves, I do believe I heard Molly Weasley shouting rather spectacularly at Fred and George on my way up the stairs; something to do with their penchant for indoor pyrotechnics and the hazard their experiments pose to a house filled with very old, very Dark magic. That being said, I am certain that they have other products that require thorough evaluation--the testing of which will hopefully not result in your death, ironically accomplishing the task that Lord Voldemort failed to carry out earlier this evening.” Dumbledore’s hand reached into a pocket in his robes and emerged bearing a delicate, fully-functioning Time Turner on a thin gold chain. Harry’s eyes widened and Malfoy’s eyebrows shot skyward; the Daily Prophet had already reported that the Ministry’s entire stock of Time Turners had been smashed in the ordeal that had ultimately taken what was left of Sirius’s short life.

“Where did you get that?” Malfoy breathed, staring hungrily at the hourglass as the wheels in his head spun vigorously.

“From an old mutual friend,” Dumbledore replied cryptically, proffering the chain for Malfoy to take. His fingers closed over it, however, and he caught Malfoy’s eyes with his own as Malfoy’s outstretched hand closed on dead air. “Time is as curious as it is unstable, Draco. This particular device does not enable the wearer to travel further than twelve hours back in time, and it is designed for single-use only. In other words, if you used it to travel back four hours in time, then Harry could use it for a temporal journey of his own--but you would not be allowed to accompany him. Attempting to do so, I fear, would place you both at risk of a very specific and excruciating form of splinching that could leave your various organs further apart than the supporters of Ireland and Bulgaria at last year’s Quidditch World Cup--and possibly on different days of the week. Are we clear?”

“As a Squib’s mind to a Legilimens,” Malfoy drawled, reaching out again for the Time Turner and pocketing it without a second thought. Harry figured that it was due to the gravity of the situation and Dumbledore’s understanding of Malfoy’s subtle gallows humor that led the Headmaster to pretend as though he had gone suddenly and inexplicably deaf.

“It is my most humble and impertinent wish that you and Harry remain here until the Order has planned its next move. I need not remind you of what happened the last time a member of the Order failed to heed my rather troublesome and vexing request,” Dumbledore advised soberly, standing from the armchair (which promptly Vanished) and opening the door behind him. Harry started as though he’d been slapped, and Draco’s mouth set itself in a thin line. Loathe as he was to admit it, the barmy old codger had a point. He nodded curtly, and Dumbledore smiled pleasantly in return.

Dumbledore turned to walk back into the hallway and stopped again, clearly mulling over something. He turned slowly, keeping one hand on the door as if to steady himself. “I leave you with the immortal and apropos sentiments of a surprisingly apt and philosophical Muggle named Friedrich Nietzsche: ‘Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein. Or, loosely translated, ‘He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.’ Lord Voldemort, while powerful, is fettered by the limitations of his foolish, single-minded obsession with immortality. Alas, we must fear not mortality, but the inability to truly experience the beautiful, bitter agony of one’s own humanity--which he regrettably shall never know, no matter how long or deeply he gazes into the abyss of his own making.”

With those somber parting words, he left Harry and Malfoy to their thoughts. Malfoy walked mechanically to the door, shut it again, and collapsed against the polished wood in a slow slide to the floor where he sat with his head in his hands.

“I don’t bloody well want to be human,” Malfoy whispered between his fingers, and Harry chewed his lower lip for a moment, resolving finally to take a seat next to Malfoy and, steeling his nerves, placed a hand on one of Malfoy’s knees, both of which were bent against Malfoy’s chest as the back of his arms rested against them.

“I said the same thing in Dumbledore’s office after Sirius died,” Harry admitted, finding some comfort against the gruesome, heavy anguish that rose in the pit of his stomach at the mention of his late godfather’s name. “In between smashing his possessions, mind.”

“You vandalized his office?” Draco asked incredulously, turning to face Harry with an expression of naked shock as he lifted his face from his palms. “Did you destroy the Pensieve?”

“I would never!” Harry exclaimed, looking scandalized. “Though, to be honest, I’m not quite sure about whether or not any of the things I did destroy were such powerful magical objects. Wouldn’t they have some kind of a defense mechanism, you reckon?”

Malfoy’s shrugged in response, and his eyelids drooped as he absently considered the question. He flicked his wand in the general direction of the fireplace, muttering, “Incendio.” Immediately a roaring set of flames burst into the grate, and as the temperature rose steadily, he felt as though he’d sunk into a warm bath. He yawned again, finally beginning to succumb to the exhaustion that seeped into his bones, and his head fell against Harry’s shoulder. “Oi, Scarhead, mind if I rest my eyes for a moment? I really don’t want to be around people. Even just passing them in the hallway is more than I can bear at the moment, no matter how spectacular their shouting might be.”

“I suppose I can’t stop you, you twitchy ferret,” Harry shot back snidely, though not unkindly. As though anticipating this turn of events, one of the upholstered chairs Transfigured itself before their eyes into a sofa-bed with two fluffy pillows and a jet black duvet bearing a Gryffindor crest on one corner while a Slytherin snake coiled at the opposite end. Grinning, Harry nudged Malfoy up into a standing position and kicked his own trainers off as he made his way to the bed. “D’you reckon he’ll know if we shag in it?” he asked wickedly, raising his eyebrows in amusement.

“We’re fifth years. I think he’d be more shocked if we didn’t,” Draco responded dryly, though he couldn’t stop the smirk from creeping over his lips. After they climbed into bed, divesting themselves of their clothes in the process, Malfoy rolled over to allow himself to be held, and Harry pointed his wand at the door with a muttered, “Colloportus.

“Who would’ve guessed the Malfoy heir fancies himself the little spoon?” Harry asked teasingly, laughing when Malfoy aimed a solid but gentle kick at his shins with the back of his heel.

“Tell anyone and I’ll splinch your bits from your body with that Time Turner,” Malfoy warned seriously, smiling against the pillow where Harry couldn’t see when Harry’s arms tightened around him in a warm, firm embrace. While only half-expecting a response, he smiled wider when the unmistakable sound of muted snores filled the air against the crackling of the flames in the grate. Tomorrow was its own problem, full of its own monsters and its own unfathomable abyss. Today, however, was finally at its end, and he hoped dearly that wherever his mother was, she was safe. He didn’t blame her for deceiving the Order--it was fairly predictable as Slytherin moves went, and her self-preservation instinct was eclipsed perhaps only by her concern for her son. For him. But self-blame would do no one any good at this point, and if he was to have any chance of staying alive, he needed to keep pressing forward at all costs.

“MmmmmDraco,” Harry mumbled in his sleep, squeezing tighter for a moment before relaxing into a quiet slumber. Malfoy froze, and as he drifted off to sleep, he found he was grinning in spite of himself. If someone had told him this time last year that in a year’s time he’d be cuddled up next to The Boy Whom He Desperately Wanted to Shag under a dual-House duvet in the noble and ancient House of Black, he’d have laughed himself sick. But now…

Now he just wanted to escape his waking nightmares, even for a few hours, before he had to rejoin the battle for his allegiance and try to make it out alive.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

“Who would’ve guessed the Malfoy heir fancies himself the little spoon?” Harry asked teasingly, laughing when Malfoy aimed a solid but gentle kick at his shins with the back of his heel.

“Tell anyone and I’ll splinch your bits from your body with that Time Turner,” Malfoy warned seriously, smiling against the pillow where Harry couldn’t see when Harry’s arms tightened around him in a warm, firm embrace. While only half-expecting a response, he smiled wider when the unmistakable sound of muted snores filled the air against the crackling of the flames in the grate. Tomorrow was its own problem, full of its own monsters and its own unfathomable abyss. Today, however, was finally at its end, and he hoped dearly that wherever his mother was, she was safe. He didn’t blame her for deceiving the Order--it was fairly predictable as Slytherin moves went, and her self-preservation instinct was eclipsed perhaps only by her concern for her son. For him. But self-blame would do no one any good at this point, and if he was to have any chance of staying alive, he needed to keep pressing forward at all costs.

“MmmmmDraco,” Harry mumbled in his sleep, squeezing tighter for a moment before relaxing into a quiet slumber. Malfoy froze, and as he drifted off to sleep, he found he was grinning in spite of himself. If someone had told him this time last year that in a year’s time he’d be cuddled up next to The Boy Whom He Desperately Wanted to Shag under a dual-House duvet in the noble and ancient House of Black, he’d have laughed himself sick. But now…

Now he just wanted to escape his waking nightmares, even for a few hours, before he had to rejoin the battle for his allegiance and try to make it out alive.

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The next day brought a surprise of its own, which would have been far more welcome had Harry and Malfoy not been caught in flagrante first thing in the morning. Pansy, who had evidently either taken complete leave of her senses or fully embraced her narcissism, came bounding in the door after a quick “Alohomora!” sent the locked door swinging wide open.

“Draco, darling, I’ve--” Her eyes widened when she stepped through the threshold to find Malfoy panting raggedly, the back of his arm flung casually over his flushed face as he took in shallow, gasping breaths while a rather obvious lump bobbed vertically under the duvet. He jumped when Pansy addressed him, and from the lump came a series of muffled, wet choking noises that left Malfoy groaning in frustration at having been interrupted so unceremoniously. “For the love of Merlin, would-the-pair-of-you-please-make-yourselves-decent?” Pansy demanded, fixing Malfoy with an icy glare worthy of his own mother before she spun the other direction and strode from the room in an impatient huff.

“D’you reckon--”

“I reckon you should finish what you started so we can get some fucking clothes on and see what that selfish cow wants,” Malfoy retorted testily, threading his fingers through the untidy black mess of hair that he could barely see even as Harry dipped his head to oblige. He was so close, so fucking close, if only she’d waited another--”FUCK,” Malfoy groaned, his grip on Harry’s scalp tightening as he thrust his hips forward and finally fulfilled every fantasy he’d obsessed over since he first discovered that he liked blokes--one in particular, though never in his wildest dreams did he imagine he’d ever get the opportunity to find out whether the Boy Who Swallows actually did… well, swallow. Harry emerged a moment later, wiping his lips with the back of his hand and grinning, looking immensely pleased with himself.

“Mind your tongue; you’ll make me think you’re only using me for my body,” he quipped breezily, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and groping blindly for his clothes. Harry frowned, reaching down to the floor to find his glasses, and he snorted when the room’s details sharpened and he caught sight of two small piles--two sets of clean, pressed, folded Muggle clothes next to a pair of wizards’ robes--that awaited them on one of the upholstered sofas. “Doesn’t miss a trick, that man,” Harry muttered quietly to himself, snickering as he crossed the room and tossed one set of each to a thoroughly sated Malfoy, who made a frustrated noise of protest when the robes landed and draped themselves over his face.

“What else is there?” Malfoy drawled lazily, jumping when Harry ripped the duvet from the bed and threw the curtains wide to allow sunshine to stream through in beams that sliced through billows of dust. “You cheeked me first; don’t make me freeze my arse off just because I took the bait.”

Draco Malfoy, if you don’t get down here soon I will Summon you in whatever state of undress you happen to currently be!” Pansy called menacingly from the sitting room, and Malfoy knew her better than to try her patience any further. Pansy didn’t believe in bluffs. Truth be told, he was immensely glad to see her, but she’d chosen a rather shit time to barge in and make her presence known, the hypocrite.

He remembered what she’d been like when she and Terry Boot had thrashed about like naked eels all over the castle at all hours of the night, especially after he became a Prefect and Peeves had considered it his personal duty to keep him apprised of all the after-hours trysts he intruded on. Despite his own intense aversion to interruptions, Malfoy (also hypocritically) had no problem with finding surreptitious ways to creatively and completely spoil the mood for (or otherwise disrupt) his more daring peers.

One of his favorite such occurrences had taken place when Peeves alerted him to the whereabouts of Cormac McLaggen, Seamus Finnigan, and Katie Bell under the Quidditch stands one quiet evening in September after a particularly sound lashing of the Slytherin team earlier that day on the pitch itself. Malfoy had just finished a letter he’d planned to send via owl later that night in response to a scathing diatribe his father had written regarding his marks (all “Outstanding” except for Defence Against the Dark Arts, which had garnered a mere “Exceeds Expectations). Believing the news to be too good to be true, Malfoy had Silenced his footsteps as he approached, and was rewarded by the sight of McLaggen on his knees with his face buried deep between Bell’s legs as he grabbed her arse and replaced his tongue with two fingers, crooking them with his palm facing the sky until she shuddered into orgasm on a trunk from which two bludgers were clearly attempting to escape.

While McLaggen licked Bell’s slippy clit in quick, gentle strokes, Finnigan’s hands were clenched firmly at the side of McLaggen’s hips, eyes closed and face tight in concentration as he sank bollocks-deep into the tight heat that made him want to thrust for all he was worth until he came with a strangled groan. After spitting on his palm (which was excellent form, to his credit), Finnigan reached around to tug McLaggen’s dripping cock, whispering filthy fantasies in a brogue that seemed thicker now that he was too distracted to enunciate, and Bell’s breathy moans were soon joined by a muffled whimper as McLaggen thrust repeatedly backwards until Finnigan angled his hips just so, and--

A series of soft clicking noises punctuated the fervent thrusts, the source of which Draco promptly Transfigured into a “WARNING - KEEP OUT" sign which he fully planned to develop in the solution that would make the resulting images move when it was returned to its original form.

“Fancied having a go at a victory lap once all of your fans had tucked in back at Gryffindor Tower?” Malfoy smirked, and Bell shrieked in fright as she attempted clumsily to cover herself with the robes that had pooled at her feet. McLaggen winced painfully as he bolted upright and Finnigan slid out amidst a furious stream of curses. “Can’t you read?” Raising his eyebrows and murmuring, “Lumos,” Malfoy trained the thin beam at the sign and illuminated its brief message.

“I told you we’d get caught,” Bell hissed, covering her pert tits with one arm in a show of modesty as she tugged her robes back into their proper position with the opposite hand, her face burning in deep shades of mottled pink. McLaggen was somehow fully dressed in less time than it took Finnigan to tuck himself back into his Muggle trousers, and before Malfoy could take any House points for his own amusement, he’d already vanished into the darkness with Bell hot on his heels, imploring him to wait so she wouldn’t have to walk back alone.

Finnigan, muttering darkly and casting poisonous glares at Malfoy, cleaned himself with a quick Charm and tugged a green jumper over his head with ferocity. “Fuckin’ twat, I s’pose you think yer so bloody clever, like you’ve never had a shag in public fer the adrenaline and a laugh.”

“As a matter of fact, both of those accusations are true,” Malfoy acknowledged, inclining his head as a tendril of need snaked from his groin to feed the images that ran through his head in a tempting tableaux. “Which, given the anomaly of such an occurrence, qualifies you to assist me with the latter.” Finnigan froze in the process of lacing up his trainers, his head snapping up to meet Malfoy’s smug expression as his own mouth fell open in shock.

“Are y’takin’ the piss?” Finnigan asked indignantly, shaking his head and returning to the task before him with a curious frown.

“You’re a half-blood Gryffindor arsonist, and hate-fucking you in the Prefect’s bathroom would drive my father mad enough to modify his own memory from the shame of it if he ever found out,” Malfoy replied with the air of one commenting on the weather, smirking wickedly as a slow grin spread across Finnigan’s lips. “What do you think?”

He’d never forget the words that haunted him still as he stroked himself to completion, the ones that had carried him through countless lonely nights at the Manor before a certain Seeker jostled his way into his wet dreams: “I think yer gonna have a right hard time sittin’ down tomorrow after I've bent you over the side of that massive tub and fucked you 'til the only thing you can remember is my name.”

Dismayed to feel a familiar bulge pressing against his robes as his stream of consciousness faded back into the present, Malfoy tucked his cock into the waistband of his pants and winced as he thumbed away a milky pearl that had gathered at the tip, much to his chagrin. He could hear Pansy’s voice slowly raising and imagined her inflating like a bullfrog as her fury sought an outlet from which to release its steadily building steam.

“Keep your knickers on, you insufferable slag!” Malfoy barked over his shoulder, striding through the door Harry had left open behind him and making his way down the staircase at a deliberately languid pace.

Sitting with her arms folded on a chaise which sat next to an enchanted desk that evidently attempted to lure and consume small children if not properly supervised, Pansy eyed Malfoy with a mixture of exasperation and affection. “Are you quite finished lazing about in bed, you flaming ponce?”

“That’s rich, coming from the Prefect who once tried to shag her way through the Durmstrang delegation to figure out who best to invite to the Yule Ball,” Malfoy shot back tonelessly, while Pansy rolled her eyes.

“One must know one’s options to be able to select from one’s options, you incorrigible sex pest,” Pansy remarked primly, not in the least perturbed. “Hedging one’s bets is the only way to ensure a favorable outcome when faced with a plurality of viable candidates--and you of all people should be able to relate to that sentiment. But I’m not here to discuss my options, darling; I’ve arrived to discuss yours.”

“I’m listening,” Malfoy murmured, eyes narrowing. He’d imagined that something like this would fall into place sooner or later, but he was rather inclined to hedge bets of his own and wait to see what Dumbledore had decided with the Order before committing to any plan of action. After all, Scarhead had made an annoyingly apropos point about Dumbledore’s efficacy in having withstood the Dark Lord’s advances thus far, so perhaps he wasn’t completely useless.

“My dear parents have informed me that the Dark Lord has seen fit to grant you clemency by virtue of your parents’ support these many years and does not plan to hold you accountable for… What was it?... Ah, ‘failing to fulfill the obligations required by your birthright and disgracing the Malfoy name by consorting with Mudbloods and blood-traitors,’ if memory serves.” Pansy inspected her fingernails with an air of boredom that belied the gravity of the situation, and Malfoy raised his eyebrows, wondering how she could be so nonchalant as she described what loosely translated into a commuted death sentence. “He is prepared to overlook your traitorous deeds on the contingency that you are Marked immediately upon your return to the Manor where you are to remain under observation at all times by Professor Snape, who (as you can imagine) was thrilled with such an enticing prospect.”

“Oh, is that all, then?” Malfoy asked sarcastically, only then becoming aware that the usual scuffle of activity which accompanied Order members on their comings and goings had been replaced by a ringing silence. This wasn’t entirely unusual since to his knowledge the only people who were actually living in this dwelling for the time being included himself, Potter, and the Weasleys minus the Weasel. No one else who’d been part of the assault on Malfoy Manor had remained by the morning, which was fine with Malfoy seeing as he had no desire to be reminded of what was unquestionably one of the worst nights of his life, full stop. But somehow the silence created an air of claustrophobia, and he was eager to explore the house for Potions ingredients and Dark objects which had fascinated him since he was a child.

“Quite,” Pansy agreed. “Which brings us to your second option: Rufus Scrimgeour, the likely choice to succeed Fudge as the Minister for Magic, has offered to help you flee the country in exchange for information that will allow the Ministry to apprehend the Dark Lord and his supporters. He mentioned admission to Durmstrang, but Professor Dumbledore reminded him that Durmstrang would likely lack sympathy for a defector and might very well deliver you to the Dark Lord themselves. The only other possible option is Ilvermorny, which would require you to to take shelter in America.”

“Hide amongst Yanks from a practically omnipotent wizard who is as capable of Apparition and a plethora of other forms of transportation as he is of murder when not even Professor Dumbledore can guarantee my safety at Hogwarts?” Malfoy asked blandly, raising one eyebrow and rubbing his temples at the thought of being surrounded by a country of witches and wizards who had mutilated a perfectly good language into a nasally mess of a broken dialect and called Muggles “no-majs,” which was quite possibly the stupidest name in existence. “Just throwing this out there, but is there a third option that doesn’t require me to become a double-agent or an expat and a grasser?”

“I suppose if you find death preferable you can always turn yourself in,” Pansy replied without skipping a beat, her gaze hardening in her annoyance. “What did you think was going to happen, Draco? You’ve played this in such a way that your allegiance to both sides is questionable, and you can’t remain neutral, because not making a choice is a choice in and of itself. I’ve had an absolute treat of a time playing liaison between my parents with all their connections to the Dark Lord’s inner circle and the Ministry’s top Aurors since my uncle works directly under Scrimgeour, and I know full well that playing this role to begin with risks my neck as much as it does yours. So with all due respect, perhaps you could stop being a selfish cunt for the two seconds it would take you to consider the effect of this ordeal on my life and decide the course of your foreseeable future.”

“Fucking hell, Pans, how long do I have to decide? Does Professor Dumbledore know anything about this ultimatum, or am I being forced into this blind? I haven’t even heard from him yet.” Frowning, Malfoy began pacing from one side of the room to the other, trying to envision each choice as a move in an elaborate game of wizard’s chess that spelled certain death if he played either the wrong way.

“To avoid arousing suspicions and minimize your chances of ending up quarantined here until Potter or Dumbledore are triumphant in defeating the rise of the Dark Arts lest you risk winding up with a Dark Mark cast above you and serving as an example to other would-be defectors, I’d advise you make a choice by midnight. To my uncle’s knowledge, the Dark Lord’s inner circle hasn’t yet infiltrated the Ministry to any significant degree.”

“That’s exactly the bollocks someone would say if they were trying to lure me down a path that ends in a Dark Mark,” Malfoy blustered, hating the limitations that bound him and loathing more the mantle he carried around his neck like an albatross which would ensure that he never knew peace until Voldemort was well and truly dead--and who knew when that might be?

“I don’t disagree, but you’ve got to play the hand you’ve been dealt, and you’re the one who bollocked this up to begin with by playing dress-up with the Dark Lord’s nemesis--whom you’ve incidentally been shagging to shirk responsibility for your actions in the mean time, might I add,” Pansy spat, frost dripping from her words with enough mass that he was surprised it didn’t fall to the floor in shattered icicles.

“Piss off,” Malfoy shot back irritably, showing her the back of his hand and throwing up two fingers in a petulant “v” in her direction. “I know I’ve backed myself into a corner. Leave it, would you? I need time to think. Come back later tonight; stall however you can. I need time to process or I’m going to make some stupid, rash decision and that’s allegedly what you lot are all trying to keep me from doing.”

“I know you’re terrified, so I’m going to pretend I didn’t see you gesturing at me with that vulgarity like a peasant, and I’m going to leave you to your thoughts.” Pansy stood and walked to the fireplace (how many there were in this godforsaken place, he’d no idea) and pinched a small dusting of Floo Powder from an ornate vase on the mantle above it. She stopped in front of it before she threw it inside and gave him a searching, sympathetic look that had shades of the younger Pansy he’d once known, the one who’d been either buried or slaughtered by years of exposure to Dark magic and darker secrets, and a part of him desperately wished that the Time Turner could send him back farther than a mere twelve hours. “I’m not trying to be callous. If you haven’t fucking noticed, I’m equally scared of myself or my family winding up as collateral damage, and if I don’t play my part, that’s exactly what I’ll be. I love you, you unmitigated narcissist. Don’t get us both killed.”

Without another word, Pansy tossed the powder in the grate and vanished in a brilliant blur of green flames, leaving Malfoy to his thoughts. Was there a way that this predicament could wing up in his favor? Were there any options he hadn’t considered, especially since Dumbledore still wasn’t back from wherever he’d fucked off to?

He knew one thing for certain, however. He was running out of time.