You can see it from afar. A space-ship gleaming a stark alien white, its metal polished in ways unknown to the inhabitants of Earth. A prehistoric burial mound ornamented with splinters of quartz and shells washed white by the waves of the Western Sea. It's so like Dumbledore to have his grave look like something from the ancient past and at the same time like a thing from a future as yet unimaginable.
Harry Potter sometimes wonders whether time stands still where Dumbledore is now, and whether he can hold onto his happiest memories in that stillness forever. Draco Malfoy wishes time would take all memories with it, like it took his hopes and the people he loved. The happiest moments he remembers have never been real.
The blue-winged dragonfly lands quietly on the white tomb. It is early summer, and the slopes of the hills are veiled in a lush green. Around the tomb the air shimmers, and a gentle breeze caresses the stone. The marble is warm like the surfaces of the Taj Mahal. The dragonfly shakes its sky-coloured wings in the soft heat. This is no place of death, it thinks and ponders – like no dragonfly will – the fulfilments of fate and desire.
"Him? You hired him for summer school?"
Harry stared at the grey-clad figure that strode up the path towards the Hogwarts gate. No chance of mistaking that lone wanderer for delivery personnel. The light blond hair was a dead giveaway. Still something was wrong with the picture. First off, Malfoy was sporting some odd Victorian suit with tight grey trousers and a frilly white shirt. Gone out of fashion two centuries ago, but Muggle garments nonetheless. And then, what was Malfoy doing in Hogwarts anyway? All those years he had not shown up for any of the anniversary festivities. Nor had he contributed one measly Galleon to the restoration of the school. Rumour had it that the Malfoy money went to Durmstrang where most of the Slytherins from Harry's year had finished their N.E.W.T.S..
"He's one of the best in his field," Hermione said. "I couldn't believe our luck when he said he'd come."
Malfoy seemed in no hurry to get to them. Instead he moved towards the decayed battlements overlooking the lake. Harry turned to the Hogwarts' headmistress sitting beside him on the steps in front of the Castle's doors. Her gold-rimmed glasses had slipped to the tip of her nose, and sparks of sunlight were dancing in her eyes. With an odd twist in his stomach he remembered other summers, when a nervous, bushy-haired girl had sat on these very steps, a heavy book in her lap, face buried between the pages.
"Which class is he supposed to teach? Dark Arts?" He did feel a bit stupid about asking. Everybody knew the field in which Malfoy had made a career for himself. Still, Harry could not believe that Hermione would hire a former Death Eater from a known Death Eater family for what was supposed to be a Summer School of Excellence at Hogwarts. The so-called pure-blood establishment had fought her appointment tooth and nail. Never in the history of the school had so many students from old British wizarding families enrolled in Durmstrang or Beauxbatons, for no other reason than that Muggle-born Hermione Granger was assuming the headship at the venerable Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
"Potions, of course." Hermione pushed the glasses back and gave Harry what he and Ron had come to think of as the Look of Utter Disdain. "Really, Harry, the PMI is an institute of high international repute known for its cutting-edge research in molecular magic. And until recently Malfoy happened to be one of the Flamel Prize-winning members of the Institute."
"I bet his dad bribed the Flamel-Committee," Harry muttered to himself but Hermione heard him and shot him another withering glance. The PMI, short for the Poli-Magical Institute of Wizarding Science, founded shortly after the War, was a known hotbed of former Death Eaters trying to establish some kind of scientific basis for their discrimination of Muggle-borns. The Auror Office had discovered conclusive evidence of close ties between the terrorist Purity Movement and top members of the PMI. This, however, was classified information to be revealed only after arrests were made and cases closed.
"Don't be silly," she said, then got up to welcome Malfoy who finally ambled towards them. "I only ask you to be polite. No more. And –" She offered him her hand, and Harry took it and let himself be pulled up to his feet. "– I ask that of all of this summer's staff."
"Good morning, Granger." The same voice, the same drawl. The same disregard for Harry, who was standing not two feet away from him. Then Malfoy actually looked at him, and for the first time Harry thought that perhaps something had changed after all. For not only was Malfoy wearing Muggle clothes, but he also had never looked at Harry with … well, if Harry's Auror-trained sensibilities had to put a name to it, he'd say Malfoy looked at him with interest, even curiosity. And underneath – fear. Definitely fear. He quickly gave Malfoy the once-over. Yes, no doubt about it. A certain stiffness in the way he had his frockcoat thrown across the shoulder, weight shifted to the back and to the side, where Hermione stood. Malfoy's body language signalled retreat at the slightest provocation.
"Potter," Malfoy greeted him with a curt nod.
Apparently he'd already had The Talk with Hermione about being polite for the summer. Harry nodded back and mumbled something that could be interpreted as "Malfoy," then watched as Hermione and Malfoy shook hands. With some satisfaction he noticed that Malfoy relaxed visibly once he turned away from him.
"Welcome to Hogwarts, Draco," Hermione said and practically beamed at the man who had called her a dirty Mudblood for most of their schooldays. And what was it with this Draco business? Surely addressing each other by their first names did not fall under the polite rule.
"And I already told you, it's Hermione," the headmistress added with a bright smile directed at Harry as much as Malfoy. So first names was the polite thing indeed. Well, he'd be damned if he got all chummy with Malfoy.
"Um, yes. Hermione." With Malfoy's drawl it came out like 'Her-mi-ow-nee,' and it sounded like this was the first time he actually said the name aloud. His hair was cut short, much shorter than Harry remembered from an article in the Daily Prophet he had read not that long ago. There, Malfoy's hair had been long down to his shoulders, and he had looked the spitting image of his father.
"So," short-haired Malfoy vaguely gestured towards the huge oak gate, "Hogwarts looks just like it always did."
"No thanks to you and your ilk," Harry snapped. They would not stand there and make small talk about the Castle's restored beauty as if nothing had happened.
"Harry!" Hermione glared at him.
Malfoy turned towards Harry again. And yes, there it was, the arrogant sneer, the smouldering hate. All that had really changed was that Malfoy had more control over what showed in his face.
"I understand," Malfoy said slowly, "you consider this school your home, Potter." Somehow he managed to make the word home sound like an embarrassment. "I, however, cannot help wondering," he added with a dangerous glint in his eyes, "how the Zabinis feel about their home being burnt to the ground."
So the Death Eaters knew that he had been in charge of the Zabini mission. No big surprise there – obviously the Head of the Auror Office would be involved in any case that big. Especially when the Head of the Auror Office happened to be the Boy Who not only Lived, but Defeated Voldemort. What information did the Death Eaters and their precious little institute have? Malfoy had been friends with Blaise Zabini at school, they both had completed their education at Durmstrang. It was not unreasonable to assume that they still were close. Considering his queer little outfit Malfoy had tea and sandwiches with Mrs. Zabini every other Tuesday. But how much could he really know?
"I hear," Harry moved a small but deliberate step forward, "that the Zabinis are quite comfortably installed in the Executive Suite in Claridges."
Malfoy stepped back quickly, and Hermione actually put her hand on Harry's arm. Really. As if he start a fight with a git like Malfoy right in front of Hogwarts. Hermione did not know him very well. Not any more.
"Professors Potter and Malfoy," the headmistress announced, "I expect you to behave like adults. Do we understand each other?"
Malfoy shrugged in a lop-sided way and nodded. Harry glanced over to Hermione, who seemed to be having serious second thoughts about this summer's teachers' appointments. He shoved his hands in his pockets. "Fine," he said and let his gaze sweep up to the winged boars guarding the Castle. "So, Malfoy, where's your baggage? Being such a hotshot at Potions these days, I am surprised you did not arrive here with an entire lab." He could do small-talk. Hermione would be surprised.
"Actually, I had some additions made to the Hogwarts potions rooms last week." Malfoy's head moved in that unbearably cocky way Harry remembered so well from school. The man was so utterly predictable. That petty pride in the smallest of things. Nothing had changed, nothing at all. Then Malfoy moved his hand towards the inner pocket of his frockcoat. Auror training kicked in instantly. Harry could barely refrain from going flat to the ground. But Malfoy did not draw a weapon or his wand here. Instead he brought out a tiny doll-house chest and an even tinier leather bag. They fitted easily onto his outstretched palm when he held it out towards Hermione and Harry. "As for my baggage …" His lips twitched into a half-smile that Harry knew would have lit up Malfoy's entire face, if Harry were not watching him. His colleagues at the Auror Office were equally reluctant to exhibit real emotions around Harry. These days, the only ones who felt comfortable with him were Ron and the Minister for Magic.
"This –" Hermione said breathlessly, "this is astounding." She pushed her glasses back and brought her face closer to Malfoy's open hand. "Did you develop this charm yourself, Draco?"
Malfoy shook his head. "There is a team at the PMI solely dedicated to enlargement and shrinking charms. They came up with this brilliance." He moved his fingers so that the chest and bag rolled around in his palm. Miniscule snakes slithered up and down the front of the teeny chest. No human hand could carve anything so delicate, not even with magic.
Harry abruptly looked up and caught Malfoy staring at him. Flushed face, grey eyes lighter than they should be, slightly out of breath. It all spelled fear. But what was Malfoy afraid of?
Three months earlier.
It was one of those days when everything, even the pencil holder on Harry's desk, was adorned with black ribbons. In fifth year it had been Thestrals that only he, Neville, and Luna Lovegood could see. Now the grey lightlessness of death was everywhere, and nobody but Harry noticed it. He had dreamed again of shining yellow satin on skin dark like a moonless night ... his wand shakes with the Cruciatus on his lips, it hits his victim like a scalding whip. He had closed his mind against the pain of others. You could not live with that kind of empathy, not when you were heading an office dedicated to fighting crazy Purity terrorists. He could not live with it. Not any more. Harry stared at his trembling hands. The two beers in the Muggle bar before work had not helped much.
With a soft thump today's Prophet landed before him on the desk. SAVE THE INNOCENT LAMBS screamed the headline. A pack of werewolves had massacred a Muggle nursery – seven children and two teachers were dead, twenty-four children and the care-taker had been brought to nearby hospitals. Ten children still remained in critical condition. In a clandestine joint Muggle-Wizard-operation – clandestine because the chaps from Scotland Yard had no idea about it – a special Auror Unit had Obliviated the memories of any eyewitness they could get a hold of and thus heroically saved the European grey wolf population of the London Zoo. Unfortunately a number of eyewitnesses had left the site of the carnage before the Auror Unit arrived.
"Innocent lambs?" Harry squinted at the three-inch, red ink headline.
Ron grinned at him, coffee in hand. "I know. You'd think we would have heard about Romilda Vane replacing Dennis as chief editor. But that's not what I mean." He pointed his chin towards the paper, and Harry looked at it again. On the grainy picture paramedics were moving back and forth. The solitary figure of a mother could be seen in front of the building, clutching a child to her breast. A discarded broom and a single high-heeled shoe were lying on the ground beside her. Harry turned the folded Prophet and looked at the celebrity snapshot on the bottom half of the front page. Two men were slow-dancing in the midst of what looked like a deserted film set with a black-and-white marble floor. The blond hair of the younger one was held loosely together in a ponytail. The head of the older one was resting on his shoulder. His dark hair was short, and with his warm eyes and flowing Sari he seemed to have stepped right out of Arabian Nights. They turned with the silent music, and the profile of the blond man came into view. Harry recognised him immediately. In fact, he had seen a similar, unmoving snapshot in thethe Sun earlier this morning.
"You recognise him? It's Malfoy," Ron said, then cast a thoughtful glance at the picture. "I hate to say it, but he does look happy."
"Come on, Ron," Harry replied from under the desk where he was searching his bag for the Sun. "This bloke is way too old for him."
"Too old?" Ron sat down in one of the visitors' chairs and put his mug as far away as possible from the high stacks of Aurors' report files. "Well, I don't mind a healthy age difference in a relationship. And if I might mention Alan –"
"You might not," said Harry firmly. "Alan was not a relationship." He put the Sun beside the Daily Prophet while Ron said something that sounded suspiciously like "That boy was barely out of school."
"Did you read the article," Harry interrupted his mutterings.
"Yup." Ron snatched the Prophet from Harry's desk and read aloud from the title-page. "GAY Malfoy HEIR expelled from PMI. Draco Malfoy, son of former member of the Wizengamot Lucius Malfoy, left the illustrious Poli-Magical Institute of Wizarding Science, where he headed the Department of Molecular Potions. Julius Avery, director of the PMI, said the Institute and Mr. Malfoy parted on 'agreeable terms.' Reliable sources from within the Institute, however, claim that Malfoy was sacked after he repeatedly refused to 'tone down' what in a confidential in-house memo was called 'the flamboyant display of his sexuality'. The PMI director denied the allegations as 'utter, out-of-thin-air nonsense' and added that the Institute respected the lifestyle choices of all its members as long as they did not interfere with their work performance. Mr. Malfoy could not be reached for a statement. Continued on page 4." Ron turned the pages. "Draco Malfoy headed a team of magical scientists that won the Flamel-Prize for their ground-breaking research on the magical properties of human and non-human blood. Merlin, can you believe this lot? Nothing but blood on their minds." He shook his head as he put down the paper and looked up to Harry. "Do you think it's true? That the Institute would fire him for being gay?"
Harry was scanning the article in the Sun. "The Institute's a bunch of blood-purity racists," he said absently. "Why should Death Eaters be more tolerant of queers than of Muggles? Racism is an all-encompassing mind-set." It was an old argument. The wizarding world was just too willing to tolerate the so-called political faction of the Purity Movement. As far as Harry was concerned, you could not give Voldemort one finger, for he would always take you whole – hand, heart, and soul. Blood racism was the scourge of their post-War world, and he would have none of it.
Ron was contemplating Harry over the rim of his mug. Shit, he'd probably smelled the beer the moment he'd stepped into the office. Harry stared down at the lifeless picture of Malfoy dancing with his dark-haired sugar daddy.
"Are you still seeing that writer bloke? The one you met strolling through Hampstead Heath?" Ron emphasised 'strolling' in a way he probably considered sexy. Harry repressed a shudder. Over the last few years Ron had picked up some of the diamond-hard facts of gay life. And he had remained his best friend, and Harry owed him all his gratitude. But sometimes Ron was just too – too bloody supportive. Or something.
Harry let out a deep sigh. "Let's not talk about my non-existent love life, shall we?"
Ron glanced at the Sun on Harry's desk. "What kind of newspaper is this?" He abruptly sat straight up. "It's a Muggle paper, isn't it? Let me see. Why did you buy it? You should bring it to Dad when you're finished with it. Brighten up his day," he added with a crooked smile.
"Malfoy is in it, too."
"In a Muggle newspaper? You're joking?" Ron grabbed the visitors' chair and shoved Harry to the side as he sat down beside him. "It's the same picture. What's it say?"
"Shah Rukh Khan Breaks Up With Gay Mystery Lover." Harry was quoting the headline. Two inches, black ink. But the picture was in colour.
"Shah Rooke –?"
"World-famous Indian actor. He's a wizard, Ron. You must have heard of him. Bollywood? Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham?"
"Of course I know Bollywood films. I dated Padma Patil last year, if you care to remember. I had to sit through these abominations every Saturday night for three weeks in a row. At the end she was always crying and starry-eyed about this bloke, Shar Rocky or whatever his name is. And she wouldn't even let me snog her. Since when is he gay?" He elbowed Harry in the ribs. "Turn to page 9, please."
"I think he goes both ways," Harry said.
"Listen to this," Ron exclaimed. "The father of Shah Rukh's mysterious lover is a conservative member of the House of Lords, raised to the peerage as Baron Malfoy of Winterbourne Monkton in the County of Wiltshire. The Sun was unable to locate the Malfoy home, and it is assumed that the Malfoys, like so many of the British landed gentry, lost or sold their estate." Ron made a deep chuckling sound. "Well, this should give Lucius the fits. There he installs the most powerful wards to keep the Manor Unplottable, and the Muggles think he's gambled away his inheritance and had to sell the family home."
"Ron, Lucius Malfoy wouldn't touch a Muggle paper if his life depended on it."
"True," Ron conceded, his eyes glued to the paper. "Mr. Khan's speaker said the two men met during the actor's last visit in London. She denied that they had a sexual relationship, but admitted they were 'very close friends'."
Harry leaned back and watched Ron reading the Sun. The Weasleys loved to make fun of their father's obsession with Muggle culture. But all of them had inherited Arthur Weasley's curiosity about anything Muggle.
"This has been the official line since Shah Rukh Khan came out as a bisexual to a frenzied crowd of mostly female fans last autumn when his recent movie was released," Ron continued. "Since then he has been back-paddeling and was publicly seen with various female co-stars. It is assumed that his affair with Mr. Malfoy was cut short to re-establish Mr. Khan's reputation as a lady's man." He went silent to study the picture of Malfoy and Shah Rukh Khan up close. "A lady's man alright," he mumbled, obviously thinking about his failed snogging attempts with Padma. Harry had to smile. After the disaster of the Yule Ball he could only admire Ron's guts to try for another date with Padma. But then Ron always fell for intelligent women.
Quick footsteps were approaching in the hallway. Ron stood up and moved the visitors' chair back to the side, when there was a knock at the door. Harry had barely told the visitor to come in when the door was pushed open forcefully and Venice Torwell stumbled into the office.
"Sir," she panted. There was sharp rustle from the blinds, a clear sign of barely controlled magic.
Harry rose immediately. "Torwell, calm down. What's up? Something in the werewolf case?" The young witch was part of the Muggle-relations team.
"No." She stared at Harry and repeated, "No, Sir." The blinds were swinging in a non-existent breeze. "It's the Zabini case," she gasped. "The Minister for Magic wants to see you. ASAP."
"It's alright." Harry turned to Ron, but he only shrugged. Still Harry could not help but notice that his friend's face had gone pale. He quickly glanced to the young woman, and Ron nodded slightly. He'd take care of Torwell. Harry left without another word.
After seven minutes in the rooms of the Minister for Magic Harry was no longer a member of the Auror Office. Discharged, ousted, out. "Leave of absence due to personal matters" was the official wording, but Harry knew when he was fired. Especially when "leave of absence" came attached with "indefinite" and "until further notice Ernie Macmillan will replace you as head of the department".
The Zabini family had filed a formal complaint in the name of Mrs. Zabini who was yet unable to give testimony herself. Yet the Mind Healers of St. Mungo's officially corroborated the Zabinis' complaint. They confirmed that Mrs. Zabini had repeatedly and convincingly named Harry Potter as the one who attacked her with the Cruciatus. There was nothing the Minister could do. Harry would have to face charges before the Wizengamot. And until the trial he was deemed not fit to work for the Ministry.
Harry knew that the Minister was doing all he could to keep him out of Azkaban. Aurors were allowed to use Unforgivables under certain clearly defined circumstances, such as lethal threat to innocent children, to one's own life and that of fellow Aurors. None of which had been the case in the questioning of Mrs. Zabini. For most of the seven minutes he and the Minister discussed strategies for Harry's defence. The Minister was touching the side of his head a lot. He was nervous, Harry could tell. The Minister for Magic was rarely nervous. No matter what reassuring things he said, it did not look good for Harry.
When he stepped into Ron's office, his best friend was white as a sheet.
"Did you know about it?" Harry asked quietly.
Ron got up and shook his head. "He doesn't talk to us about official business. You know that, Harry." He was holding on to the back of his chair. "Did you – did they sack you?"
Harry gave a sharp nod. Ron's hands tightened on the back of the chair. Strangely, there were no black ribbons in his office, not even on the pictures of the Weasley family back on the shelves behind Ron's desk. A young Fred and George in green dragon-hide vests in front of their store. Mrs. Weasley grey-haired and skinny like she had never been before her illness, with Arthur holding her in a soft embrace. Ginny and that Moroccan bloke, Mennad or something. Percy and George in their official Ministry robes. An empty space where the wedding picture of Hermione and Ron used to stand. A picture of Harry in the middle of the Quidditch pitch, Firebolt in one hand, Ron at his side clapping him on the shoulder. To this day Harry remembered the Snitch fluttering against the inside of his glove-covered fist. But had he really been this happy, his eyes blazing, his face so alive with laughter?
"He's – you know, he's with you. But he has to act. He's just doing his job, you know," Ron stammered. He stepped in front of his desk and was coming closer, and for a moment Harry thought he might hug him. But then Ron didn't, and Harry realised how much he had wanted him to. Nobody dared to come close to him these days. Quickly he stepped towards the window. Black ribbons were hanging from the trees in the courtyard of the Ministry.
"I was only doing my job, too," he whispered.
"Yes, yes," Ron said. "You did. Of course." But why the Cruciatus, why on a woman who knew nothing, nothing at all, Harry? The question echoed through the hallways of the Department, and now it had reached Ron's office. Because the Death Eaters had perfected the art of appearing innocent. Because everyone associated with the Purity movement knew something. Because victory did not come without a price. The tear-stained, pleading face and the ripped yellow dress might have been mistakes, but mistakes were necessary steps on the path towards getting rid of what Voldemort had left them with once and for all. Harry had made too many mistakes not to believe this. The Minister understood. And Harry had thought that Ron understood. Apparently he had been wrong. But it was nothing, just another mistake.
"Macmillan will head the Office while I am gone. Keep him away from my personal files, Ron. Can you do that for me?" He spun around, and Ron nodded eagerly. Harry forced a smile. "Thanks," he said.
"No problem, mate. What are you going to do?"
Harry shrugged. "Sleep in on weekdays. Read the paper from cover to cover. Check in with you every second day. Have you lot over for grand dinner parties." He grinned, and Ron grinned back. Harry had never given a single dinner party in his life.
"Seriously, Harry, you should travel, visit all those cool places. You have to see Egypt. Ancient pyramids, mate. Tutankhamun. Nefertiti. Now's your chance." Ron beamed at him. His obsession with Egyptian history was legend in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. The framed, brown-edged snippet from the Prophet about the Weasleys' trip to Egypt was hanging on the wall behind his desk.
"Perhaps." Harry moved towards the fireplace.
"He asked you to leave at once?" Ron looked like he could not imagine the Auror Office without Harry. Not for the first time Harry thought that if not for him, Ron would have never chosen to become an Auror.
"I'm out of here." Even to himself he sounded bitter, and he was grateful that Ron did not offer to accompany him to his flat. Before the marble fireplace he turned. "You are getting the werewolf case, Ron. The Minister and I agreed that it needed someone with a personal interest in hauling Fenrir in."
Ron still stood in front of his desk, arms hanging at his sides. "Great. That's great. I mean … I'll give it all I've got. I promise." Like he owed it to Harry. Not to Bill and those Muggle children, but to Harry.
Harry opened his bag and took outthe Sun. "I'm leaving this with you. The Muggle newspaper," he explained. "There's more pictures of the massacre in it. Call The Prophet, too, and see if they have more. Have the people on those pictures identified, Ron. All of them. I have a feeling some of them are witches and wizards. And I bet Fenrir knew that, too."
Four months earlier.
Night rain splashed onto the terrace, the light patter drifted in through the glass doors. They were fucking in his London apartment. Shah Rukh Khan had been with this young British wizard since his birthday in November. Draco Malfoy … A strange man. Not someone he would fall in love with. Intriguing, tempting even. But there were too many secrets, too much history in this one. Too much spite as well. Shah Rukh would not put up with Draco Malfoy's moods for a minute, but the sex was awesome. More gentle, and more vicious than any of his razor-sharp remarks. Shah Rukh had never been fucked like this.
Draco hooked one long leg around his left thigh and pulled Shah Rukh halfway up onto him. He gasped as his own weight pushed Draco deeper into him. The cold air hit his cock as pre-come dried instantly in the breeze blowing through the curtains. He had lost all contact with the sheets he had been fucking desperately for the last minutes. He also had lost all illusion of control. Asha, he loved this … being held, being fucked, and he could do nothing but let his lover hold and fuck him. To hand over this odd sense of control bottoming gave him. He couldn't trust women with this. Because of it he always came back to men. To some men, he should say. With men who knew how to top.
And whereas Draco seemed to know all about topping, he was not always as eager and accommodating as tonight. Something was different, but Shah Rukh refused to give it another thought. He wanted this – wanted to feel his lover desire him without hesitancy, fuck him like his cock belonged in Shah Rukh's arse, like his hands and Shah Rukh's skin were meant for each other. Forget that this was the arrogant prat who had just this afternoon chided him for working with Farah, his Muggle director. Fuck Draco Malfoy. As long as Draco fucked him.
The rain poured down onto the terrace as a background noise to their harsh breathing. The bedposts gleamed golden in the light of the oil lamp. Shah Rukh reached for Draco's face, captured the long hair in his fist. So fine and light, damp with sweat. If Draco touched him now … As if he was reading his mind, Draco put his arm around Shah Rukh's waist, moved ever so slowly over his hipbone, Dark Mark sliding against hot skin. Asha, he wanted to be touched so badly. And Draco wanted to touch him, now. Shah Rukh felt the body underneath him tremble. Draco's hand moved towards the base of Shah Rukh's cock and touched him, one easy stroke all the way up. He could not help but moan. Whimper, rather. The movement in his rectum together with those fingers rubbing lightly over the tip of his cock, it was just – just – Asha, not yet, he did not want this to be finished so quickly. This need, this tortuous touch was just too exquisite, too rare a treat. He pushed down hard onto the body below him, used all his weight and earned himself an appreciative grunt. Draco withdrew and put both hands lightly on Shah Rukh's hips. But then he started licking Shah Rukh's ear, and the aching, tickling sensation did worse things to Shah Rukh's cock than the fingers before. Twenty, what, ten seconds, and he'd explode, just so, shoot his load into the dark air.
"Don't come yet."
He felt Draco's lips move at his ear, but could barely make out the words.
"Wait for me."
How odd that Draco would ask him to wait. Not that long ago he had informed Shah Rukh that the wish to come together was a romantic Muggle fallacy. Usually sex with this one was all about getting each other off, not about waiting and sharing. Shah Rukh tightened his grip on Draco's hair, as if he could speed up his lover's orgasm by pulling at his scalp. And pain might just work with him. Shah Rukh meant to say something like get going, sweetheart or I won't last another minute, when Draco brought his mouth even closer to his ear.
"Not yet … Harry, wait."
The last two words ran together in a husky, broken moan. Harrywait. For a split second he thought he'd misunderstood, but no. Harry fucking Potter. This was – Asha, Draco moved more forcefully within him now, no matter that his body was trembling so hard. Not from Shah Rukh's weight in top of him, but because Draco wanted Harrywait. He had told Shah Rukh on their first night together. Draco wanted Harry Potter like this, whispers and screaming fuck! and coming together and losing all control or never having had any to begin with.
Shah Rukh tried to roll off him, but Draco's arms came around his waist and held him firm. He had to, damn it, he had to get away. This was not for him.
But this was also unbearably hot. Fuck Draco Malfoy and his pushy cock, his sweaty, pale body, his gentle, vicious hands on Shah Rukh's stomach, Dark Mark sliding across exposed skin. It felt as if Draco was stroking his own cock that was piercing like a sword through Shah Rukh's body.
Night flooded the room, the rain beat against the glass door. The gold of the lamp spilled onto Shah Rukh's body and made him tingle all over. Oh, it was no use. The wind ripped desperate moans from his lips, he tore at Draco's hair as painfully as he could, to punish the bastard, but he wanted, wanted him. Spasms pulsed through his body in an unstoppable, accelerating rhythm. The rain had turned into a storm. His heart was pounding with the raindrops, with the fast strokes of Draco's fingers around his cock, his thrusts pushing against Shah Rukh's prostate. Hard, deep, Harrywait, again and again, push, need, you bastard you. For a moment he was floating in thin air and light, and he grabbed Draco's arm. Then the storm flashed through him. Golden sparks burst behind his closed eyes. His spunk shot over Draco's hands, onto his own belly where it landed in heavy splatters like the rain on the terrace.
He allowed himself a couple of deep, steadying breaths, then he rolled off. Draco had not come yet, but there was no way he would stay for him to finish. This time Draco let him go. And the man was a bastard, but Shah Rukh made sure that he did not hurt him as he moved to the side. Draco's hard cock slipped out of him with a wet, regretful smack. Shah Rukh looked back. He found himself staring into wide-open eyes which glittered dangerously in the muted light. Draco touched himself and came after a few rough strokes. His body jerked violently in orgasm. Silvery threads of semen shot as far as the side of the bed. Drops of it fell onto Shah Rukh's hand and arm. He couldn't help it, he needed that hot, salty taste on his tongue. His own skin felt cold and alien, and when he looked up, Draco was still watching him with those too-bright eyes. The expression on his face was angry, sad, Shah Rukh could not tell. Abruptly Draco curled up around himself and pressed his face into the pillow. His hand moved across the sheets as if he was searching for something. Someone. Surely if Shah Rukh touched him now, he would feel that slight trembling again. Harrywait. He looked so young when he was naked, this one. Too young for wanting someone so much and not having him.
"I need a cigarette."
On the dresser right beside his packet of Goldflakes Shah Rukh found the small bottle with the letters PMI printed on the label. The pills were half gone. Draco never hid anything. He had done this twice before, taken an experimental drug they had developed at the Institute where he was working. The first time Shah Rukh had not asked any questions. Many blokes took drugs to make good sex better. Back then Draco had struck him as just the type who'd snort Candy or pop Mr Blue. He learned quickly that Draco was not any type and that he never took such risks. He even determined Shah Rukh's HIV-status before he sucked him off the first time. With a handy little Detection Spell that he taught Shah Rukh, too. The second time Shah Rukh had asked. The drug was a hallucinogen. It created dreamlike fantasies, made them seem real. Draco had offered him a pill, claimed it was perfectly harmless. Shah Rukh had declined. He didn't want fantasies but his lovers right in his bed, with him. Draco wanted Harry fucking Potter. Harmless was surely not how Shah Rukh would describe this drug.
"Why'd you do it again?"
He lit the cigarette with his wand and sat on the bed. When the mattress dipped from under his weight, Draco stretched out on his back. Shah Rukh wanted to pull the covers over his body, tug him in like he would Aryan, his son. The impulse was absurd, this one would not have such tender gestures, and he certainly was not a child. His skin was a merciless white against the shimmering silk of the sheet. He was not pretty, barely handsome. Too many angles, his features too sharp. Still Shah Rukh had fallen for Draco Malfoy the moment he had stalked into the room. He'd been – stunning. Never stopped being stunning, really. Even now, drugged out of his mind.
Shah Rukh only heard Draco's slurred voice, he did not catch the words. His lover leaned up and reached for the cigarette. Their fingers touched, and Shah Rukh felt him tremble. Fucking Potter. "Pardon?" he asked.
Draco sucked at the cigarette with those thin pink lips. He smoked like smoking was sex. "You – talked 'bout your parents," he drawled.
Shah Rukh took the cigarette from Draco's fingers. He needed the nicotine. And Draco did not even smoke. "What do my parents have to do with you using a fucking hallucinatory drug when you sleep with me?"
Draco stared at him, then shrugged and turned his head. "They're dead," he whispered.
Shah Rukh swallowed. His father had died when he was not much older than his son was now, and the death of his mother ten years later had devastated him. His family meant everything to him. Draco never talked about his own family, but Shah Rukh had heard that his mother had killed herself after the war. Potter, great saviour of the wizarding world, never knew his parents. "So?"
"Made me think of him." Draco did not look up.
"You just think of him and then you use that stuff – with me?" Shah Rukh flung what was left of the cigarette into the copper bowl on the floor. Orange blossoms swam in the scented water. The stub vanished with a hiss. "That is pathetic."
The hollow laugh did not sound like Draco at all. But the ice in his voice did. "It's pathetic. You are quite right."
"Oh Asha, Altheda and Almata!" Shah Rukh threw up his hands and moved to the glass doors. As he stared into the rain-drenched night he thought about the well-built, smooth-faced producer who had made it very clear that he would be available should Shah Rukh desire male company other than the blond Brit. A much more sensible choice – a man his age, less volatile, Hindi. Someone he could care less about than … this one.
Draco left half an hour later. Shah Rukh called a taxi for him, he would not let him Apparate in this condition, no way. When he brought him down to the street, it turned out Draco had never used a lift before. He giggled like a girl and put his arms around Shah Rukh's neck when it plunged downwards. Some drug. Shah Rukh tried to give the cabbie a twenty-pound note to make sure he delivered Draco safely to his penthouse flat. But the driver – a Pakistani student - refused to take any money from him, would hardly accept his thanks. The CD played songs from Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna.
When the red backlights of the taxi vanished around the corner, a plan formed in Shah Rukh's mind. The rain had lessened to a mere drizzle, and behind the clouds the moon appeared. At three in the morning the street was deserted. Only the ever-present electric hum of the city filled the air. He stared into the sky. The brass key holes of the Victorian buildings, the square pigeon holes beneath their eaves, the slot of the red letter-box in front of the Tandoori place – it all became crystal clear as his vision altered. Shah Rukh stretched his arms out wide and the shirt fell down from his forearms. His skin was already translucent. Beneath it blue veins gleamed like opals in clear water. He Transfigured on the spot. Shah Rukh Khan needed to fly.
"Wrong end of the table, Malfoy."
Normally Draco would have taken exception to Potter's rude remark. But he had watched him walk through the Great Hall, his robes hastily thrown over casual Muggle clothing. Potter had quickly spotted Draco on what he probably considered the Hufflepuff-Gryffindor side of the teachers' table. After ten days of close observation Draco knew that the slight upward movement of Potter's chin betrayed amusement rather than anger. He sat down beside Draco, shook his head, but glanced amiably towards him.
"Good morning to you, too." Draco nodded to him. He had decided that it was high time for him to talk to Potter. They had been avoiding each other studiously, but on the few occasions when they'd met Potter had been civil. And the brooding, reclusive man had no more than a passing resemblance to the Potter-creature of Draco's phenethylamine-induced hallucinations. At the prospect of two months of every-day contact with Potter Draco was thankful for small mercies. He had not touched the pills since he'd come to Hogwarts. Somehow it felt … odd with the real Potter so close. Maybe this was his chance to break the habit. Not that he minded the habit all that much.
Draco smiled as he wished Lobelia Cresswell a good day. Their talk about the generous crop of sneezewort in the Hogwarts gardens had been most interesting. The old lady muttered about the stupidity of teaching in greenhouses in the heat of July, then she left, tie-dyed scarves flowing behind her. It was a miracle that Granger had lured the world-famous grower of magically enhanced Atropa Belladonna out of retirement.
"Any special reason why you're not sitting in Snape's old chair?" Potter speared a piece of smoked fish with his knife, put it into his mouth and chewed. Then he reached for a glass of some pale yellow concoction that could not possibly be pumpkin juice. "Or are you here to wheedle some blue nightshade out of our esteemed Herbology luminary?"
"Not even I can afford blue nightshade," Draco said. "My father knew Lobelia's husband." He was eyeing the amounts of food Potter piled onto his plate. Scrambled eggs, kippers, bacon, fried potatoes, four slices of toast. Draco was getting a bit sick at the thought of having to eat all that at eight in the morning. "From the Goblin Liaison Office. Before Creswell was executed by Uncle Rodolphus, of course," he added.
He was so absorbed in the smooth line of Potter's throat as the man downed another gulp of what Draco guessed was some kind of lassi, that he only noticed something was wrong when Granger and Lovegood interrupted their talk and looked over to him. Treacle Flume, the youngest member of the summer staff, had just come to the table and halted his steps. Heat was rising to Draco's face. Did they expect him to never mention anyone who died in the war? It was not his fault that Cresswell had run into a group of Death Eaters lead by his jealous-as-hell, trying-to-prove-he-was-crazier-than-Voldemort uncle.
"Don't let them get to you, Malfoy." Potter calmly put more salt on his eggs. "They want to forget the war ever happened. But we won't let them, will we?" He flashed a cruel smile towards Draco.
"The war is over, Harry. Voldemort is dead. You of all people should know," Granger said sharply. The black-haired Flume, some kind of a Transfiguration protégé of McGonagall's, looked bewilderedly from Granger to Potter, who was cutting into his bacon. Potter was not making himself friends there. Flume was afraid of him, Granger plainly furious. And Potter looked – he looked like he had just stepped out of one of Draco's hallucinations.
"Should I now, Hermione?" Potter put the knife down. His lips were pressed together in a stiff line.
"I just know one thing," Potter continued. "Tom Riddle is dead. But Voldemort, the thing Tom Riddle created, that Voldemort is alive and kicking. Are you reading the paper at all, Hermione? There's an attack almost every other week. Outside it's nothing like Hogwarts." His voice went shaky on the last words and he bit down on what more he clearly meant to say. Then he turned towards Draco. "But let's hear it from Malfoy who seems to think he can hide the Dark Mark with those ridiculous leather cuffs when everyone knows he was the youngest Death Eater in history." Potter's lips were not pressed together, but any trace of his earlier amusement had vanished from his eyes.
Draco stared at his hands which held his cup of tea. The white porcelain seemed fragile against the leather around his wrists. These people knew nothing of him. Why should he even care? He felt Potter's gaze on him. There were only six teachers present for the summer, and the long table felt deserted. The silence reached the students, several looked up to see what was going on.
"Well, Malfoy," Potter said. "Do you think the war is over as well?"
Draco put down the tea. He hated the perfumed taste of Earl Grey. "I am going to the kitchens," he announced. "It must be possible to get some decent Assam in this castle. I am not having ten percent taken out of my measly salary for some flavoured dishwater for breakfast. If we're paying house-elves, then the service at least should be flawless."
Granger looked appalled, but Potter laughed. "Ah, and there I was counting on you and your precious little institute to support my agenda of constant vigilance. But obviously good quality tea is so much more important."
Potter had definitely been with the Aurors for too long. Constant vigilance, Salazar-from-the-fen! Next was No Mercy for Death Eaters, the favourite slogan of the Minister for Magic. "I am not a member of the PMI." Draco's chair scraped over the stone floor when he got up. "And yes, the war is over, Potter. It has been for fourteen years."
"You are such an arsehole."
Harry nodded absently to Luna as he watched Malfoy stride down the hall. He held his blond head up high. Harry could see that he wanted to hide his hands - leather cuffs and all - in the pockets of his tailored robe but didn't. Why did he have to make fun of Malfoy? The man had been friendly this morning. Actually, Malfoy was friendly most of the time.
The high-backed chair crashed to the floor when Harry got up.
Hermione was at his side at once and held his arm. "Harry, don't make things worse."
"I am just going after him." He stared hard at her. "Don't you want me to apologise?"
She looked at him for a moment, then let go of his arm. "Okay," she said, then again, more resigned, "Okay."
Luna put her hand on Hermione's shoulder. "Don't forget that this is Malfoy, Harry," she hissed.
"As if I ever." Harry walked quickly through the Great Hall all the while feeling the students staring at his back. Luna had not been there but Hermione had, and she must have told Luna about that bleak February funeral six years ago. When the Owl had come with the death notice – plain black script my beloved wife, my dearest mother left this world forever on thick ivory-coloured paper with the Malfoy crest – Harry had immediately sent word that he would come. He owed it to Narcissa, for he owed her his life. It was as simple as that.
He had done all he could for them, testified on behalf of Draco Malfoy, told the Wizengamot that Dumbledore himself had not thought him capable of murder. Because of Harry's testimony and his youth, Malfoy spent only a couple of months in Azkaban. Lucius Malfoy, however, served eight full years before the amnesty law was passed. Harry only understood why someone as strong as Narcissa would drown herself when he saw him at the funeral. His long hair had turned a blunt grey, his body was bent. He refused to lean on his son's arm but held on to his cane. During the funeral he stared at people with burning eyes that reminded Harry of nobody so much as Bellatrix Lestrange in her final hours during the Battle of Hogwarts. Sirius had once told Harry that after the first years in prison, the Dementors had not bothered him anymore. They were nothing compared to the demons locked inside his mind. Lucius Malfoy had brought Azkaban home with him. When the first shovel of earth hit Narcissa's coffin he turned and limped back towards the Manor. He left his son standing alone at the grave, snow falling on his hair. Draco was thinner and paler than Harry had ever seen him. He had not worn leather cuffs then to hide the Dark Mark.
After the funeral Andromeda, some friends of Narcissa's, and relations of the Black family gathered at an inn in the wizarding part of Winterbourne Monkton. Malfoy came with them. He was clearly not looking forward to going back to the Manor where only his father waited for him. He and Harry ended up just the two of them, thoroughly smashed on Firewhisky. Malfoy had kissed him that night. A drunken, desperate kiss, for comfort more than anything. Harry sometimes thought about it. He wondered whether Malfoy remembered it at all.
The heavy door swung back close behind him. For a moment Harry considered whether Malfoy really had gone to the kitchen complaining about tea to the house-elves. Then he discarded the thought. Malfoy probably had returned to his rooms or the Potions classroom. Classes started in less than fifteen minutes. Harry hurried down the stairs to the dungeons. It was gloomy down there, and he only saw the two figures when he was just a couple of steps away from them. Malfoy was kneeling beside a young boy lying on the floor.
"Potter," Malfoy said. His eyes were fixed on the boy's face while he carefully examined his body. "Byron's unconscious. I need to know whether his neck is broken before I carry him up to the hospital wing." He looked up. "They teach you this stuff at the Aurors', don't they?"
Harry crouched down opposite from Malfoy. The boy was big, but younger than he had thought, a third year at the most. His dark skin was ashen. Harry had not seen this pupil in his class, yet the face seemed vaguely familiar. "I need more light," he said as he pushed open the boy's eyelids.
Without a sound a bright Lumos lit at the tip of Malfoy's wand.
The eye movement was normal, the brown pupils contracted in the light. Harry put his hand underneath the boy's neck and felt for the upper vertebrae and the skull. All seemed fine. He searched for puke or blood on the boy's robes and on the stone floor. Nothing. "I think he will be fine. Perhaps he's suffered a light concussion. He should come around in a bit. Let's wait until he's conscious before we move him."
Harry and Malfoy both spun around at the sound of the high voice. The Lumos fell upon the figure of another boy who slowly stepped out of a dark hallway. Harry could not believe his eyes. What –?
"Teddy? What are you doing here?"
His godson looked crestfallen. Harry made sure Malfoy was holding the boy's head before he removed his hand. Then he took a closer look at Teddy. They had last seen each other in Harry's class on Monday, and then the boy had been fine. Agitated, loud, and always too close to laughter, but fine. Now he looked like he had not slept all night. His Metamorphmagus hair was a silvery shade of grey which Harry had never seen on him before.
"What's up with you? Why are you not at breakfast?" Harry could have smacked himself. He had not even noticed that Teddy was missing from the Gryffindor table.
"I was going to pick up Byron." Teddy looked up to him with eyes shining too bright in the dark hallway.
"In the dungeons?"
Teddy hesitated and looked beyond Harry to where Malfoy was still kneeling on the floor.
"He's in Slytherin House," Malfoy explained, with more than a touch of annoyance in his voice. "This is Byron Crabbe, Potter. Vince's half-brother."
Harry turned, stunned. "Crabbe?" He'd never met Crabbe's mother, but he was sure she was not black. Yet judging from this boy's golden brown skin he had at least one non-white parent. In fact, Harry thought as he stared into the face of the boy, he reminded him of –
"His mum is the most beautiful witch," Teddy chimed in and took Harry's hand, something he had not done since that first time on Platform 9-3/4 at King's Cross when Harry had brought his godson to the Hogwarts Express. Something was wrong, and Teddy trusted Harry to make it right again.
"Malfoy?" Harry shot him an exasperated glance.
Malfoy shook his head. He extinguished his Lumos and put the wand back into his sleeve. Still Harry could practically see the words So much for Auror intelligence outlined in neon blue on the dungeon's wall. And if what Harry thought was true, then he should have known about it.
"Mrs. Zabini was released from St. Mungo's last Friday. This is why Byron is starting summer school late." Malfoy got up from the floor. "Come on, Potter. The Auror Office must have known that Mrs. Zabini had a twelve-year old child before they tortured her out of her wits. Don't tell me you didn't know Crabbe's father re-married after the war."
Harry swallowed. The Auror Office … Malfoy had no idea that Harry himself had cast the Cruciatus on the mother of this boy. "I swear, I didn't know. Must have – must have slipped the investigation team."
"Slipped? A slip in a high-profile Death Eater investigation?" Clearly Malfoy did not believe one word he was saying. Of course, in his place Harry would have believed him even less. He needed to let Ron know right away, Owl him before his class started. A sudden image of the report stacks on his desk in the Ministry flashed through Harry's mind. You didn't read any reports for months, remember? Told people in meetings to shut up. You couldn't be bothered with personal background. It was possible that he had missed it. But at least Andromeda could have told him that Teddy was hanging out with Slytherins.
Teddy let go of Harry's hand and sat down beside his unconscious friend.
"Will he be alright?" he asked with a hopeful look.
"Yes, he will." Malfoy's voice held all the easy, reassuring certainty that Harry could no longer muster. Perhaps he'd seen too many injured who'd never got right again. But clearly this was what Teddy needed to hear.
"Crabbe told me you're his godfather, Professor Malfoy."
The sharp angles of Malfoy's face smoothed as he smiled. "You two must be pretty good friends if he told you that."
Teddy nodded eagerly. "Oh yes, he's my best friend. He's a great Chaser. Well, of course, he's on the other team." The boy shrugged, then looked towards Malfoy again. "He told me that you worked in some huge, important potions lab, and that they sacked you because – er …" His voice trailed off. Even in the gloom Harry could tell that Teddy's face had turned red. "You, um … he told me you know Shah Rukh Khan," Teddy finished, his voice breezy with awe when he uttered the actor's name.
Malfoy laughed quietly. "Who takes you to those Muggle films, boy?" He looked over to Harry who shook his head in mock disgust and mouthed 'his grandmother.'
"Uncle Harry is my godfather." Teddy beamed proudly up to Harry. "He's the most famous wizard alive."
"Yes, he is," Malfoy said lightly. His wry smile betrayed nothing of what admitting this would have cost him fourteen years ago. Then the expression on his face changed. "Can you tell me what happened, Ted?"
Teddy instinctively moved closer to his friend. "We were just playing."
"What kind of play?" Harry demanded.
The unconscious boy twitched, and Teddy quickly put one hand on Byron's arm. "Racing up the hallway, you know. Who's first at the stairs", he said softly. "Byron stumbled." He avoided Malfoy's gaze and looked straight at Harry. "I didn't do anything. He fell and hit his head. I – I meant to get someone when Professor Malfoy came."
Malfoy just looked at Teddy. Obviously he had decided that Harry should conduct this interrogation. Teddy was in Gryffindor House, after all. "Why were you hiding then?" he asked.
His godson's face crumbled and now tears were spilling from his eyes. "I didn't do anything. I just thought – He didn't move. Not at all!" He choked out these last words, there was fear in his voice. Clearly Teddy was concerned about his friend. And not very good at lying.
"Have you been feeling well these last few days, Ted?" Malfoy suddenly asked, then quickly knelt down before the boy and put his fingertips to both sides of his neck. Teddy flinched away from the touch.
"Malfoy!" Harry was ready to draw his wand should Malfoy continue to behave so strangely. What did he think he was doing? "Leave my godson alone."
Malfoy stepped back at once. "Sorry," he mumbled. Harry shot him a questioning glance, but Malfoy would not take his eyes from Teddy.
"He's waking up," the boy whispered.
And sure enough the other boy's eyelids fluttered, then he opened his eyes. He looked startled at the adults peering down at him.
Harry knelt down beside him. "How are you, Byron?" Always address the injured party by name, the name brings them back into reality. But the boy just stared at him as if he was the Bloody Baron dripping silver blood all over him. Then his eyes slowly moved to Harry's forehead. The dazed look in his face cleared instantly, and Harry saw Byron's eyes darken.
He used his most gentle voice. "How are you feeling, Byron?"
"I'm fine," the boy said much too quickly, then looked around with wild eyes. When he saw Teddy he quickly moved towards him, as far away from Harry as he could.
Harry sometimes got this reaction from people who were born after Voldemort and the War. He had to suppress the urge to smooth down his hair over the scar. Byron Crabbe was the son of a former Death Eater. There was no reason for him to feel gratitude towards Harry. Still, such hate? Harry looked over to his godson who watched Byron with an anxious expression. Malfoy was crouched closely behind Harry, and it struck him that Byron's hatred had nothing to do with the past. Mrs. Zabini had been released from St. Mungo's. Byron must have heard what happened to his mother. All of it. And the boy surely would tell Malfoy, it was only a matter of time.
"Help me up, Lupin," Byron said. It sounded like a command but Teddy did not seem to mind. He assisted his friend who slowly rose to his feet. Byron swayed but when Harry moved forward to steady the boy, Malfoy put his hand on his shoulder and stopped him. He seemed confident that Teddy would catch Byron, should he stumble. Harry took a deep breath. Maybe he really should have more confidence in Teddy. He had turned fourteen in the spring after all. At his age Harry had seen the Dark Mark for the first time high in the sky at the Quidditch World Cup.
Teddy put his arm around Byron's waist. The younger boy looked awfully pale. Teddy was whispering something to him, then he turned. "I'll bring him up to the hospital wing." He first looked at Harry, then more hesitantly at Malfoy. "I mean, we're okay. I'll get him to Healer Bletchley on my own."
"Perhaps I'd better go with you, just in case," Harry offered. Malfoy's hand was pressing down on his shoulder.
"I certainly won't need your help, Potter." Byron spat out the words, and Harry was stunned by the fury in the boy's voice. Teddy's shoulders were shaking, but he did not say a word, just looked at Harry pleadingly. Something was going on that Teddy did not want to speak about, that much was clear.
It was Malfoy who stepped up in Harry's defence. "It's Professor Potter, Byron," he said sharply.
Harry felt an odd thankfulness towards Malfoy. He could deal with his colleagues' cold faces, with Ron's blind-eyed faith in him, even with Hermione's damning silence. But how could he meet this boy's fierce hatred? A boy he hardly knew. His godson's best friend. Harry's nightmares had stopped since he'd come to Hogwarts, he had all but forgotten about those black ribbons everywhere. But something about this boy's eyes made him remember … Harry's wand arm trembled no matter how hard he tried to stop it. Malfoy moved closer, hand still on his shoulder.
"Tell Healer Bletchley to keep Byron in the hospital. I'll look after him when my morning classes are over," Malfoy said. "And, Ted, I expect you in Potions in ten minutes."
Teddy nodded. Byron seemed to want to add something but then just shrugged. The boys walked towards the stairs where the clear morning light spilled down from the Entrance Hall.
Harry watched them. So did Malfoy. Then Harry turned, but Malfoy shook his head and continued to watch as Teddy and Byron approached the stairs. Just as Harry meant to shake Malfoy's hand off, Teddy stepped into the light. He flinched as if in pain, put one hand to his eyes and backed into the shadows. Byron turned and spoke to him, but the boys were too far away for Harry to catch a word. Then the younger boy took Teddy by the shoulders and pulled him up the stairs.
… the child, it will be like me, I'm convinced of it. Lupin had been so lost when he'd shown up at Grimmauld Place that fateful summer. To this day Harry wondered what would have happened if he had let him stay and help. Would Lupin have survived the war? Would pink-haired, awkward, funny Tonks still be here for Teddy?
"He's shortly before his first change. During the next full moon, I think. Perhaps the one after." Malfoy's voice was soft at Harry's side.
"You can't know this." Harry quickly stepped away from Malfoy. The Healers at St. Mungo's had never been able to say whether being a werewolf was a condition one could pass on to one's child. Teddy was fine, tired perhaps, concerned about his friend, but fine. "Teddy is fine", he repeated aloud.
Malfoy stared at him for a stunned moment, then shook his head. "The wolf is in his blood, Potter. And you know it. I can't believe you people have not taken the necessary precautions."
Located directly underneath the Great Hall, the Hogwarts kitchens are the exact same shape as the Hall above. Four long tables side by side, another one perpendicular at the head of the main kitchen. It is by house-elf magic that food and drink is Apparated up to the Great Hall. But that the food appears before the one it's meant for, is done by the cunning arrangement of the mirrored tables alone.
The kitchens are close to the lake. No one takes notice when a dragonfly finds its way in through one of the small windows near the ceiling. A young house-elf is enthralled with the pretty, blue-winged creature. It is easily persuaded to pour four drops of the rose-coloured liquid into all of Harry Potter's drinks. No more booze, mango lassi it is. The dragonfly Animagus has no doubt that the Head of the Auror Office is stuck neck-deep in depression. The wizard knows the tell-tale signs. His sister has never been truly happy since the day their mother died. He'd be surprised if Potter's interested in sex at all, if he feels anything these days. He'd be surprised, too, if the man cares.
The dragonfly knows nothing of mind-numbing despair. Happiness means a light breeze above the water's surface, warm sunlight on outstretched wings. It knows nothing of love potions, nothing of the mild aphrodisiac that is now lacing Potter's drinks. Dragonfly sex is as simple as clasping, holding and fucking in a mating wheel.
The dark wood was warm under Harry's touch. He let his fingers glide over the splintery back of the chair. The Potions classroom had never felt so peaceful. But then there never had been so much light in the room. The high narrow windows coloured the afternoon light a pale blue. Someone had put the floating jars onto a set of shelves at the back wall. One could easily step towards the windows now and look over the wide expanse of the Lake.
Harry's fingers found a deep scratch in the wood, and he traced it with closed eyes. Not letters, maybe strange runes which spiralled into an indecipherable scribble. He opened his eyes and saw it was a snake, coiled around itself, its head invisible under the thin tail. A Slytherin carving, then. Harry smiled. He was sitting at the Slytherin side of the room, in the back and closer to the windows which had always been hidden behind dark mouldy curtains when this classroom had been Snape's.
The sunlight seeped into his body, made him feel light and relaxed after this afternoon's class. He was caressing the warm wood, then noticed that his breathing became a bit irregular. God, this was ridiculous. He had all but forgotten about how it felt to be hot and aroused, to desire … desire without even having someone special in mind, to actually feel like fucking, even if it was only his hand. And now here he was, sitting half-hard in a classroom, feeling like he was fourteen again and stirred by a simple touch of sunlight on wood. This morning it had been a quick smile, yesterday the turn of a blond head in the teachers' room. So that was perhaps it – he was back in Hogwarts and his body remembered that schoolboy horniness. Whatever it was, it certainly felt good to know there was something more than food, clothes, and sleep that his body needed.
The quiet was broken by a sharp hiss at the front. Harry got up and approached the new laboratory furnishings. Two heavy oak tables with white marble tops stood where Snape's lectern used to be. Brown glass jars and clear flasks filled several shelves of a cupboard made from the same wood. A selection of iron and copper cauldrons sat on dark green velvet. Harry detected some tools and equipment, which seemed to be Muggle in origin, microscopes, a centrifuge, an oddly old-fashioned glass plunger.
Beside a battered copy of Moste Potente Potions a small cauldron stood on the left of the two tables. A blue fire was lit underneath, clearly magical. The cauldron was made from silver, which was a rare thing in the wizarding world. There were not many potions which needed to be brewed in silver cauldrons. In fact, Harry knew of only one. The air smelled faintly of ginger. A petri dish stood beside the cauldron holding what could only be Runespoor eggs. Whatever strange potion Malfoy was brewing here, Harry hoped it was not for one of his classes. The use of Runespoor eggs was illegal. Surely Malfoy knew this, like every potion master from the PMI, sacked or not. Shipments of potion ingredients to the Poli-Magical Institute were monitored by the Auror Office, on Harry's personal orders. The prevention of Dark Magic was his job, after all.
Had been his job, he reminded himself.
The clear potion was boiling hot, wild bubbles rose to its surface. Another drop landed on the cold enamel and with a fizzing sound evaporated into grey smoke.
Where was Malfoy? He had told him he'd be working here after classes. Harry had never been all that adept at Potions. He could not just reduce the heat, could he? What if the blasted stuff needed to simmer at a certain temperature for days on an end like Polyjuice Potion?
There were steps approaching in the hallway, and Harry felt his breath hitch in giddy expectation. It was ridiculous how much he was looking forward to talking to Malfoy, since their talk was going to be all about godfatherly duties and Teddy. But there it was – Harry was back in Hogwarts, and Malfoy was there, and Harry could not stop thinking about him. It was no wonder, Harry told himself, as he listened for the steps. They had some common history, knew each other, they were both gay. But Harry had never expected that Malfoy would be so … observant of him. It had taken Harry all of the first week to realise that Malfoy always chose to sit as far away as possible from him during the teachers' meetings, only to watch Harry the entire time. The first couple of times when he had caught him staring, Malfoy had blushed and turned away. Lately, though, Malfoy smiled and more often than not Harry found himself returning the smile.
And then there was the way Malfoy touched him. Casually, as if by accident, when they happened to stand beside each other or entered a room at the same time. Harry could tell Malfoy was not aware of what he was doing. He never apologised, never blushed. Harry didn't mind. Malfoy's touch was nothing like Ron's encouraging pats or Hermione's concerned hugs which he'd come to dread. Malfoy touching him felt … nice. Harry had been dreaming about it.
He knew someone was at the door before he heard the knock. Not Malfoy then. Malfoy would never knock before entering his own classroom. Before Harry could answer, the door opened and Byron Crabbe came in. The boy looked worried. And still too pale. Harry wondered if he had fully recovered from the accident last week. The moment Byron saw Harry he froze.
"Hi there, Byron." Harry tried to sound as friendly as possible. His talks with Teddy had convinced him that as little as he might like it, his godson was quite attached to the Slytherin boy.
"I'm here to see Professor Malfoy." Byron's dismissive tone was bordering on rude. He kept staring at Harry with dark, angry eyes.
"He's not here. I'm waiting for him myself." He shrugged. Where the fuck was Malfoy? His illegal potion was boiling over, and now he had two people waiting for him. "Stay here, Byron. I am going to get him."
When Harry walked down the aisle, the boy barely moved to let him pass. Bloody spawn of Death Eaters.
He went towards Snape's old quarters. Compared to Malfoy Manor, the cold, dark rooms could be nothing more than a hole in the rock, yet Malfoy had picked them for his stay during the summer. Slytherins, Harry assumed. They were used to the damp and cold. He didn't bother to knock. The door was unlocked, no wards, no protection spells. Malfoy, it seemed, was much more trusting than his mentor.
"Hello," he greeted the empty room. "Anyone here?"
Snape's office was just as uninviting as Harry remembered it. Years of crime scene examinations told him that the furniture had not been moved in a very long time. Even the frog in the jar was still staring down at him with cold, unseeing eyes. Surely there must be something like an expiration date on potions ingredients. This frog had been floating in its wet grave forever.
Neither the chest nor the bag, which Malfoy had brought with him, were anywhere to be seen. At least not unshrunk. Perhaps Malfoy preferred to keep his belongings in a size more befitting a ladybird. Snape's old bed was hidden away in its usual place in an alcove. Crumpled shirts, old-fashioned fine rib underwear, neatly folded trousers, and several robes were haphazardly thrown onto the covers. Piles of books were stacked on the desk and several long pieces of parchment were spread out on it. It did not look as if Malfoy was actually sleeping in Snape's bed, but he was working on Snape's desk.
The spidery fingers of the old wall clock pointed at a quarter to five. Harry remembered the slow, mechanical ticking, the feeling that time did not pass in the unnatural quiet of the dungeons. Only, it was not quiet. A faint sound like music came drifting from the walls. He looked around and discovered a low door half-hidden behind a curtain. He moved towards it, meant to knock, for surely this was were Malfoy was hiding, then noticed that the door stood ajar. Gently he pushed against it, and it swung away from him without a sound.
The door opened into a high, narrow room the size of a small classroom. The walls and ceiling were roughly hewn into the stone. Someone had magically enlarged a passageway leading to the outside. The parquet flooring was inlaid with a pattern of what looked like dragons or snakes and fen-shaped plants over criss-crossing strips of lighter and darker wood. There was a large opening at the other end of the room, a ragged gap carved into the stone. From the lake it probably looked like the mouth of a small cave. Beyond it Harry saw blue and white and sunlight. He could hear the music clearly now, some slow orchestra piece. And just where the light met the shadow of the room, Malfoy was sitting with his back to the stone.
Harry carefully stepped into the room. It was empty but for a narrow bed and an upholstered chair. There were no wards here, either, but he felt the soft touch of magic gliding over him. It was the music, he realised, some magic to do with the low, rising sounds filling the space. Malfoy had his eyes closed. His right hand rested on his drawn-up knee, wand in a light grasp and pointed at something Harry could not see. He would have been alarmed but for the quiet expression on Malfoy's face. Harry could not look at him for long. Not when Malfoy was open and unguarded like this. Just long enough to notice the shadows below his eyes and the smooth curving of his lips. Then Harry had to turn away, to find his breath again. The music reached for something within him, its dark, drawn-out chords tugged at his skin. The bright sound of a lighter melody rose to the ceiling, to the sky outside. It made Harry's whole body tingle. A cello, he thought, violins, as he leaned against the wall to steady himself. He just stood there, eyes trained on the tip of Malfoy's wand, until the music came to an end.
"Hello, Potter." Malfoy sounded as if he'd known all along that Harry was standing at the door. He flicked his wand, and a small silver disk came shooting towards him. He caught it with one hand, then got up.
"Did you build this room?" Harry watched Malfoy come towards him, taking in the blue Sari, the silk wristbands, the naked feet. It would take Harry longer than this summer to get used to Malfoy's queer Muggle outfits.
"Granger allowed me to reshape this old hallway." He made a sweeping movement with his arm to take in the entire room. "What do you think?"
"I like it. Brings more light into the dungeons. And the floor is beautiful. Much nicer than the one in the Library."
Malfoy considered him for a moment, then said, "The Library's floor is laid in a standard herringbone pattern, Potter. This floor here is an homage to the House of Slytherin."
"Of course." Harry struggled to suppress a grin. Tucked back into a recess in the wall, he noticed the unshrunk chest of drawers with its carved serpents slithering up and down the sides. Full-sized they looked much more menacing than when they had been tiny earthworms.
Two silver-framed pictures stood on top of the chest. Narcissa Malfoy was smiling at him, her long blond hair flying in the wind. A black ribbon was attached to the corner of the picture. Harry drew a sharp breath. Not here. There was no reason for him to see black ribbons everywhere as if the whole world had died around him. Not anymore. Not since he'd come back to Hogwarts. Then he realised the ribbons were real, black shining silk. There was another one on a second picture which stood in the shadow. All Harry recognised were the outlines of a face.
"I meant to stay in Snape's old room," Malfoy said, his eyes fixed on the floor. "But I couldn't. Not – not after Azkaban."
There was a slight tremor in his voice, and Harry remembered how strongly Malfoy felt about his family. He wondered what it must be like to live with Lucius Malfoy and still love him. It had been years and years since Malfoy's own short stint in Azkaban. Harry reached out and touched his arm. Malfoy looked up, a startled look in his grey eyes.
"It's silly, I know," he said softly, "I was only there for two months. Others were locked away for years. But since then I am not doing all that well in cramped, dark spaces." He gave a short laugh, then turned towards the empty room.
It explained the opened curtains in the Potions classroom. Where Byron was still waiting. If he had not been smothered by poisonous smoke from the sweltering potion.
"Fuck!" was all Malfoy said when Harry told him. Then he stormed out of the room.
Harry followed him more slowly. He tried to get his mind around why Malfoy claimed he'd been in Azkaban for only two months, when Harry knew for a fact Draco Malfoy had been sentenced to 180 days and not been released one day early.
Emnistee. Byron Crabbe was not sure what the word meant. His sister Annabelle had told him that emnistee had got his father out of prison. Perhaps it was something that would get Byron out of detention. You got detentions for fighting like idiots in the dungeons and banging your head on the floor. But maybe Draco wanted to give Byron and that stupid Lupin emnistee. Still, if Byron had a choice, he'd rather have a detention. No one would ask him stupid questions in detention. He'd gladly scrub cauldrons or cut dried adders' tongues like last time, when they had both ended up in detention with Professor Avery (and damn that stupid Leila-Hufflepuff-Aubrey for ratting on them). Byron grinned at the memory of Lupin's screwed-up face because of the yucky smell, then remembered that Professor Potter would be back any minute now with Draco. And Draco would ask questions for sure.
The long black curtains were pushed into the corner at the front of the classroom. Byron went there and sat on the floor. With a couple of quick moves he arranged the thick cloth around himself. If he kept his legs drawn-up close, nobody could see him. The curtains smelled like mothballs, but he liked the dust and the dark. He huddled closer into the corner and pressed himself against the wainscoting. It felt safe here like in his bed in the Slytherin dormitories. Potter would not find him here. It was Potter's fault that Byron's brother was dead. His father had told him. And stupid Lupin didn't know shit about what happened during the War.
This year Annabelle and Uncle Maurice had picked him up at King's Cross, and they had taken him to a big hotel. Ogmore Hall, they said, was undergoing extensive renovations, whatever that meant. So he got his own room in a hotel suite with his father. His mother was still in St. Mungo's. Annabelle had brought his clothes and Quidditch books. But of course nobody knew about his treasures hidden behind the loose wall panel in his room, the pale yellow bird egg, the blackthorn root shaped like goblin ears, the Hippogriff feather Gregory had given him for his eighth birthday. It was just lucky that Byron had given Lupin his favourite glimmerstone as a present last Christmas.
Lupin was an idiot but Byron would not rat on him. Of course, they might both need emnistee or whatever if he said just one word. There was nothing wrong with the touching. Byron was pretty sure of that. All the boys in his House did it. Just the other day he'd seen Smith and Cattermole get each other off in the showers. So Lupin was a Gryffindor but he was cool with his funky hair and the way he could turn his hands into lion's paws. Awesome Beater, and he had shown Byron his secret map of Hogwarts which was just the most fabulous thing Byron had ever seen. They were friends. It was okay to touch Lupin there, and have Lupin touch him so that Byron's prick would get kind of hard and a bit wet. It felt good. Lupin had once spurted gunk all over Byron's hands, and he had been trembling and moaning like he was in pain. Afterwards Lupin had told him that this was real sex and that it felt really good. Hadn't looked like it, but hey, if Lupin said so. Byron didn't like the snogging, though. Snogging was slimy, and girls did it all the time. He'd told Lupin so, and Lupin had never tried to snog him again.
Only last week he had. Snogged him, although Byron had said to let him go. Something was wrong with Lupin. With his eyes. Sunlight hurt them. And with his hair. It was grey all the time and when Byron had asked for his favourite bright green, Lupin nearly cried. Of course he did not really cry, but Byron knew. They were friends. What did Lupin think? That he would not notice when he was about to cry because he could no longer change the colour of his hair? That Byron had not seen the wolf's claws extending from Lupin's fingers when he'd tried to do the lion? Something was wrong with Lupin. He'd been sick in the bathroom, throwing up smelly stuff. Byron could do nothing but hold his hand. Lupin would not go to Healer Bletchley, and Byron agreed. His mum had been at St. Mungo's, but she was not right, no matter what Annabelle said.
So Lupin had tried to snog him in the dungeons, and Byron had said No. They fought, and Lupin pushed him into the wall, staring at him from slitted green eyes and with sharp claws growing from his fingertips. When Byron slapped Lupin hard across his face, Lupin's eyes went dark and wild, and then abruptly turned to their normal blue as if a spell had hit him. He'd flung Byron away from him hard. Byron remembered the look of horror on Lupin's face, he remembered falling and hitting the floor with the back of his head. And he remembered waking up and having Potter, excuse me, Professor Potter, stare down at him.
There were voices in the hallway, and Byron pulled the curtains closer around himself, then smoothed them out so they did not move.
"Quarantine? You'd quarantine a fourteen year-old? You're out of your mind, Malfoy!"
Potter. Pompous git was what his father called the Big Hero. His father also said that Potter was mental, same as the Minister, and the entire Department for Magical Law Enforcement. Byron's father thought a lot of people were mental, and that included his own step-daughter Annabelle who had married a Muggle and sent her kids to a Muggle nursery. Whenever Annabelle came around to visit them in the hotel, his father yelled Mudblood a lot. Grown-ups! Byron had said that word once at home, and it had earned him his one and only beating from his mother.
"It's what you do with people who cannot control their actions and pose a lethal threat to others." So Potter had found Draco. His voice could be heard clearly from the hallway.
"It's not what you do with kids!" Potter was practically screaming. Now, what were those two fighting about?
Byron moved the curtain just a bit so he could see what was going on. His godfather stood behind the last row of tables facing Potter, who leaned in the doorway, arms crossed before his chest and glaring at Draco.
"Oh, excuse me, Potter, but what do you think Dumbledore was doing when he locked the werewolf into the Shrieking Shack? He was quarantining him because he was a danger for the other students."
"Things have changed," Potter said through clenched teeth. "There are potions and stuff today. You can't lock up a kid in St. Mungo's quarantine ward. There must be another way."
"There is no other way. And nothing has changed." Draco emphasised every word, he sounded furious. "Wolfsbane Potion only stops the dementia which is part of lycanthropy. It does not stop the changing or the craving for raw flesh. It's cruel, really, to administer the potion and give a conscience to the wolf. How do you think it feels to know that it's your friends' throats you want to rip out? To quarantine werewolves is certainly more compassionate."
Byron strained to hear every word. He didn't understand half of what Draco was saying, but they were talking about werewolves. And he needed to know about werewolves. Because of Lupin.
Just then there was another hiss from the cauldron that had been over-spilling now for quite some time. Draco turned abruptly at the sharp sound. "Fuck," he said and hurried towards the front of the room.
Draco was not wearing shoes and was dressed even odder than usual. Byron could almost hear his father mumbling "bloody poofter". Father did not like Draco. Byron thought it was because Draco was alive and Vincent wasn't. But Draco had been around ever since Byron remembered, and Vincent was a gloomy, fat, dead boy on pictures in a box. Shortly after Draco started teaching Byron, he had given him his first broom. It was his duty, he said, to see that his godchild was flying on something better than his brothers' cast-offs (which was exactly what Byron's mother had had in mind). He would take Byron flying far away from Ogmore Gardens, and higher than his parents would ever allow. Flying was all about taking risks, Draco said, and You never know real flying with a safety net. There was a strange smile in his face when he said things like that, and for all his girly clothes and being a poofter for sure, Draco was the best flyer Byron had ever seen.
Right now he pointed his wand at the magical fire underneath the silver cauldron. Immediately the ferocious bubbling stopped. "Merlin's grey beard, Potter! Why didn't you just reduce the heat? Surely you could do that after seven years of Potions!"
"I'm not going to tinker with any of your fishy potions." Potter had followed Draco to the front and was now leaning against one of the new lab desks. He still sounded angry but also interested. His shoulders, Byron noted, were no longer tense as they'd been at the door.
"Fishy potions," Draco said. "That's rich, Potter. You don't have any idea what I am doing here, do you?"
Potter came closer and looked over Draco's shoulder. "No. What are you doing?"
Byron had known Draco all his life, and so he knew Draco's bright laugh. He only laughed like this when he meant it and was not just being polite. Draco laughed like this with Blaise, but never with his father. He laughed like this when they came back from flying. Byron liked it when Draco laughed like this. Potter seemed to like it, too, for he put a friendly hand on Draco's wand arm. Byron expected Draco to shrug him off but he didn't. Grown-ups. One minute they were fighting, the next they were the best of friends.
Something was happening with the potion. Byron moved the curtain another inch so he could see what was going on, but Draco and Potter blocked his sight. Maybe the gingery smell had become stronger in the last minutes, he was not sure. It was hard to tell with the musty curtains all around him. Then he heard Draco's whisper.
"Harry, give me your wand."
Potter said just as softly, "No way. Why should I do that?"
"Don't be such a git." Draco turned and stared down his sharp nose at Potter. "You don't seriously want me to stir Wolfsbane Potion with a hawthorn wand."
"Er – why not?" Potter slowly pulled his wand from his sleeve. "And this is Wolfsbane Potion? But I thought you didn't –"
"Silver cauldron, we're smothered in ginger, Runespoor eggs. What does it look like to you?" Draco sounded impatient like he got when Byron was not paying attention. "And I never said I wouldn't help the kid. But the Potion is no cure and no solution to the problem."
"I didn't know illegal substances were needed for Wolfsbane Potion." If Byron was not mistaken, Potter grinned at Draco.
Draco shrugged. "Damocles Belby did not use Runespoor eggs in his original recipe. It's an addition of mine. The Auror Office knows I'm using them. If you care to remember, every one of my orders at the PMI was okayed by you personally."
"I remember," Potter said slowly, then handed his wand to Draco. "What's wrong with hawthorn?"
Byron could barely believe his eyes. Nobody was allowed to touch Draco's wand, not ever. But now he casually made Potter hold his wand while he took Potter's.
"Hawthorn opens and creates magical space. It's perfect for things like … you know, making rooms Unplottable, casting the Beltane circle, raising magic for group spells." Both men bent over the potion. All Byron could see was bluish steam gathering above their heads. "Holly," Draco continued, "is for protection of every kind. It keeps the wolf at bay, whereas hawthorn invites the wolf in. It's not an influence you want in a protective potion." He quickly glanced at Potter. "Am I making sense?"
Potter nodded, then he said something that Byron did not catch. It suddenly struck him why they were talking about werewolves. Draco was brewing Wolfsbane Potion for –
"Why are you so sure he's going to change whenever there's the next full moon?"
"In another week. The moon will be full next week." Draco stopped stirring. "This potion is about ready for the Runespoor eggs."
"Um, okay." Potter stepped back. "Do you need your wand back?"
Draco shook his head and started stirring again.
"So how can you be so sure Teddy will have his first change?" Potter asked.
Teddy! Draco was brewing Wolfsbane Potion for Lupin. So he knew. And Potter knew. They knew what was wrong with Lupin. That he was the same as his father. Lupin knew it, too. That's why he didn't sleep anymore and was throwing up in the bathroom. Lupin was more afraid than Byron had ever seen him.
"I've researched it, Potter. Quite extensively. Do you know at all what we received the Flamel Prize for?"
Potter was quiet for a moment, then he said, "Well, something about the differences between human and non-human blood. Magical differences. Something like that."
"Put like a true Auror who can't be bothered to scan through Magic Today even once in a blue moon. But essentially, yes. We were studying the magical properties of human and non-human blood. Werewolf blood, to be exact. It's the only case of a magical condition transferred by blood. A Veela could bite you all she wanted, but you'd never turn into a Veela. There's no difference whether the werewolf's victims are wizard or Muggle. It's passed on to everybody indiscriminately, even animals, if they are mammals. There is no known cure, there is nothing to stop the process once it's started. All it takes are bodily fluids from the werewolf to enter the victim's blood stream. It works exactly like – like …" Draco's voice got quiet and he never completed what he meant to say. He turned his head away from Potter, so that the other man could not see his face.
Byron had been eight when Draco had stopped coming around. For a while Miss Hopkirk had taught him Numbers and Arithmancy and stuff. When Draco returned, he looked still a bit ill. His voice would trail off sometimes like it had just now, raw and shaky, as if he could not bring himself to say certain things. Since that time Draco was wearing those cuffs around his wrists. Byron knew, of course, that underneath there was the Dark Mark, just like on his father's arm. Why Draco wanted to hide it when everyone knew it was there, Byron did not know.
Potter watched Draco intently. In his hands he cradled his wand like it was some skittish animal. "I –" he started, "I didn't know you were an expert on werewolves –"
"You should have known. Ted is your godson, Potter. And I am part of the family." Draco was stirring so hard that drops of potion spilled on the counter.
"I know that, Malfoy. "
Draco shrugged, but he turned and looked at Potter, waiting for him to say more.
Potter's grasp around Draco's wand tightened. His knuckles were white like the marble counters. "The last years were – I don't know. There's always so much going on, and I can't – I couldn't – I didn't spend as much time as I wanted with Teddy. I assumed he was doing alright."
"Obviously." Draco's voice was cold. "You were too occupied with chasing down Death Eaters and burning people's homes."
Potter put Draco's wand so carefully on the desk as if he was afraid he'd break it. His hand was shaking hard. "Fuck you," he whispered.
"Fuck yourself, Potter." Draco threw Potter's wand on the desk, opened a drawer and got out a silver baton. He slammed the drawer shut, then returned to the potion.
For a couple of moments Potter just stared at Draco's back. Draco's shoulders were tense beneath the blue cloth. Byron almost screamed out loud behind the curtains. Everybody could see that you shouldn't talk to Draco now. Potter, of course, thickhead that he was, did just that. Potter, Byron decided, was very much like Lupin.
"I was naive to think that Teddy would grow up like any other boy," Potter said to Draco's back. "And I thank you for making the potion, Malfoy. But you are not going to lock Teddy up in St. Mungo's. There's going to be no Shrieking Shack for him."
Only Byron saw that Potter reached out to touch Draco's shoulder, but let his arm drop away. He saw, too, how Potter touched Draco's wand gently when he picked up his own. Then Potter left without another word.
"Stupid git," Draco muttered. He reached for the glass plate with the little things that looked like Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, then poured them into the potion. His hands did not shake, he seemed to be all focused on the potion.
Byron clutched the curtain trying hard not to betray himself. Draco wanted to put Lupin away, lock him up at St. Mungo's so he'd come back like Byron's mum, all quiet and with that far-away look in her eyes. He would not let that happen. They had one week – that's what Draco'd told Potter. And Lupin needed that potion. The part about werewolves ripping out throats reminded Byron too much of Lupin in the dungeons, staring at him from those terrifying green eyes. But they would not lock him up. Lupin would not end up in a dark place like where Byron's father had been all those years. Potter had said so, too.
For a moment Byron wondered if Potter could help them. Lupin adored him, Big War Hero and all. He peeked through the folds of the curtain. Draco had turned away from the cauldron, he was leaning against the cupboards. Byron watched him slide down to the floor. He just sat there and did not move, head bowed, fiddling about with the silver baton. Potter was such an idiot.
No, he could not help them. This was Byron's job. Because he was Lupin's friend. As he settled down more comfortably to wait until Draco would leave, Byron wondered if this was the kind of trouble that only emnistee got you out of.
The Animagus is pleased with the first Owl leaving Gryffindor Tower in the early morning. Its flight is short, a mere plunge down the cliff. The letter reads like the scribblings of a drunk, yet nothing stronger than mango lassi was consumed by its writer. It says much more than Can I buy you a drink in the Hog's Head on my birthday?, but this line makes the wizard smile – a quick flutter of the dragonfly's wings.
The second Owl leaves from the Owlery and flies all the way to London. The little boy who sent it is too young to keep a secret for long. His sister is the only one he can trust these days. And so he tells her that his best friend is changing into a werewolf. Briefly the Animagus wonders whether he should intercept the Owl. But his business at Hogwarts is with two other lonely boys.
The dragonfly shakes dew from its outstretched wings. Fine mist still clings to the reeds at the Lake, a pale moon hovers above the horizon. In the cool air a Holly Blue bumbles by. The dragonfly darts at its prey from below, clasps and pierces its frail body. In a minute the butterfly is gone. Within the Castle a grey-haired boy tosses sleepless from side to side. He never sees the moon, but the taste of blood is sharp on his tongue.
"Hello there, Harry. And the young Mister Malfoy. Welcome to the Hog's Head, gentlemen."
Aberforth Dumbledore looked like he always had, blue eyes behind grease-smeared glasses, a dirty rag for an apron tucked into his broad belt. He led them through the dimly-lit room towards a table in the back.
"Thanks, Aberforth." Harry wiped tobacco crumbs from the rickety chair before he took a seat.
Malfoy carefully draped his jacket over the back of his chair. Leave it to Malfoy to dress up for the Hog's Head. Jacket of ivory-coloured alligator skin, and those trousers had to be Brioni. Black silk jerkin for a top, which closed just below his chin but left his arms bare. Harry could not help but stare at the pale skin stretching over smooth muscle and clearly visible veins. Fingerless gloves covered Malfoy's wrists. Harry found himself looking for the Dark Mark but all he could see was a flowery pattern woven into the black lace. He'd never been out in public with a man so obviously gay, and some self-conscious part of his brain thought that the bigots at the PMI might have had a point. Another part – the one directly linked to his half-hard cock – wanted to believe that Malfoy had dressed up like this for him.
Aberforth seemed not at all fazed, neither by the odd fact that Harry Potter turned up on his premises with Draco Malfo of all people, nor the strange vision of Malfoy in black silk and kohl around his eyes, making them glint like diamonds.
"The usual?" he demanded, and Harry nodded. The Hog was famous for its ale.
Malfoy ordered a brand of whisky so expensive that Harry did not think it was to be had anywhere in Hogsmeade. But Aberforth did not even raise a brow. When their drinks were served, Malfoy's whisky came complete with a dusty bottle of spring water from the distillery. He licked his lips in appreciation after the first sip, and for some inexplicably reason, Harry felt a sudden, maddening craving for mango lassi.
Their talk went from the weather and their classes to the birthday party the Weasleys were giving for Harry at the weekend. He dreaded it and surprised himself by telling Malfoy so. Malfoy muttered something about "weasels' warrens" but let it go when Harry glowered at him. Then he surprised Harry by taking a red matchbox out of his pocket. He drew his wand and within seconds a thick tome bound in blood-red leather was lying on the table.
"Birthday present." Malfoy pushed the book towards Harry. "From my father's library. If he finds out he'll kill me, so don't use any of the spells in his presence. I guarantee you he knows all the counter-spells. And, Potter, if he does find out, I'll need the book back." There was a lop-sided smirk on his face.
"I doubt I'll be crossing wands with your father again." Harry had not meant the words to sound so ominous. But he couldn't help the pain cutting through him at the memory of Lucius Malfoy with his wand pointed at Harry, the shattered prophecy so much star-dust before his horrified eyes. Grey eyes so similar to the ones looking at him now.
"Make my day and don't." Malfoy must have seen something in Harry's face, for he kept his tone light. What he'd said wasn't all that funny, but they both laughed. Malfoy at least was making an effort to not let the past catch up with them.
The smear of dried beer on the table had not affected the book. The pages were spotless and white, as if they'd just come from the printing press. The signature skull with the snake coiling from its toothless mouth was embossed on the fly cover. There were hundreds, maybe even thousands of Dark spells. Some so tame they could have been standard Auror spells. Some in fact were, Harry noticed, when he happened across the Full Body-Bind. Others he had never heard of. There were pages and pages on the Imperius.
"Um, thanks. So I take it I'll find no Ministry-approved magic in here."
"Hardly. It's a Death Eaters' Compendium of the Dark Arts. Some of the stuff the Carrows taught us during seventh year came straight from it."
"And you're giving it to me?"
Malfoy shrugged. "I trust you to know where to draw the line. A lot of ancient wizarding lore went into the development of the Dark Arts. I'd hate to see it all go to waste because people are ignorant. Or too stupid to use it." He sounded bitter, and Harry wondered if this was about Vincent Crabbe. But this bitterness sounded more recent. The PMI then.
"Or too self-serving, cruel and ruthless," he added.
Malfoy took a mouthful of whisky. The water in the bottle was half gone, it had to be his second or third drink. Harry was at his fourth, and he felt the alcohol buzz through his body. Compendium of Spells? A title innocuous enough for such a work. Something shimmered on the empty part of the page underneath the lettering. Harry took a closer look. A hidden spell, or … He put his fingertips to the page and immediately felt words vibrate underneath his touch. A magicked dedication. For him.
He looked up to see Malfoy smile at him. "So all this Auror training is worth something, after all," he said with that smug smile.
"It is. Only Britain's Best for the Magical Commonwealth." Harry laughed a bit, then couldn't stop laughing. The official Ministry slogan was an insider joke, something Malfoy could not possibly understand. But it felt good to laugh. He was pissed, for sure, but it was his birthday and Malfoy was with him, and he looked like he'd resigned himself to senseless bursts of hilarity from Gryffindors.
"Now then, let me see what you wrote." Harry drew his wand, but just as he was about to cast Aparecium, Malfoy grabbed his wrist.
"Don't. Not now. Later. When I'm not around."
Harry dropped his wand. It rolled into the fold between the opened pages of the book. "Whatever." Malfoy's fingers were cool on his skin. Somehow it was important to not let him go, and Harry grabbed his hand.
"I can't return the book to you with a dedication. If your father finds out, I mean." He moved his right hand palm-up across the table, waiting for Malfoy to let him take his other hand as well.
Malfoy gave him a puzzled look, then shrugged. "I was only joking. My father knows that I'm giving it away. You cannot take a book from the Manor's library and have father not know." He moved his left hand and after a moment's hesitation laid it into Harry's palm.
Only a thin layer of lace was between Harry's hand and the Dark Mark. "Can I see it?" He hadn't planned to ask this, and the words came out soft and hoarse. He half-hoped that Malfoy had not heard him over the clatter and din in the Hog.
But Malfoy had excellent hearing. He tried to pull out of Harry's grasp at once. Harry held on, and Malfoy glared at him. "Fucking why, Potter? You know it's there. It was used as evidence in my trial, remember? You saw it then. Everybody saw it." He tried to break free again, but Harry did not let him go.
"Oh, Salazar-from-the – " Malfoy bit down the curse. His eyes were wild, he was furious. "Go ahead, look at it. Satisfy your morbid curiosity." He tried to move his wrist, and Harry loosened the grip so he could turn it around. A row of tiny silver clasps held the glove together.
It was too easy. Malfoy never gave in so quickly. Not with something like this. The best-kept secrets are hidden in the open for all to see. Techniques of crime scene investigation. Auror training beginners' manual.
Malfoy's right hand felt warm in Harry's grasp. He let go of the arm with the Mark, and turned Malfoy's other wrist, so that the inside of his arm was exposed. Pale skin vanished underneath black lace. Malfoy flinched, and for a moment Harry thought he would end it right there and leave. But he didn't. He sat back and watched as Harry opened one silver clasp after the other. When the last clasp was unfastened the lace fell away. Two fine pink lines ran parallel to a purple vein so dark it seemed to want to jump out of the white skin.
"Seen enough?" Malfoy's left was clenched into a fist, there were white lines around his mouth. He was angry. But it was not anger that made his lips tremble.
"When did this happen?"
"Couple of years ago. I'd appreciate it if you let go of my hand now." Malfoy tried to pull away again, but Harry could not yet release him.
He lightly traced the scars. Precise cuts from a surgical blade. Maybe magically enhanced, judging from how cleanly they had healed. Two inches of death if the cuts went deep enough. These hadn't. Malfoy had been desperate but not ready to die.
"After your mother died?"
"Merlin, Potter! This is private. And fucking let go of me!"
Malfoy's wrist was light and slender. Harry wanted to say something but couldn't think of what. So he let go. Malfoy snatched back both hands, then finished what was left of his whisky in one gulp. He glared at Harry over the rim of the empty glass.
"Don't give me that look, Potter. There is no big soppy story behind these cuts. I did a stupid thing, and I didn't even do it right. Story of my life." He gave a short, hollow laugh. "A good friend died. It might have been – easier if mother had still been around."
He wasn't telling half of it, and Harry wondered about the parts he did not tell. He wished he could still hold Malfoy's hands. Or lean against him like he had after Narcissa's funeral. God, this was going nowhere good but Harry had to ask. "Do you remember the evening after your mother's funeral? In the inn?"
Malfoy looked at Harry from below a fringe of blonde hair. Slowly he turned the empty glass in his hand. "Yes," he said, and again, "Yes. How could I forget?"
He didn't say kissing you, but the memory was there between them, floating above the shimmering white on the page – the awkwardness, the smell of Firewhisky, the need, and such desperate reckless kissing. Harry had never been so hard in his life, and Malfoy had been so hot, rubbing against him. They had kissed until it became too much, and they had broken off.
Six years, and as many men in his bed. And whatever had been set in motion on that February night was still turning and spinning in his blood. He'd lost it for a while, and with black ribbons everywhere, he'd forgotten what it was that he wanted. But he knew now. Harry touched the blank space on the page, and a sharp thrill ran through his body. I want, he thought, to kiss you again.
A whispering echo came back to him. I want to kiss you, soft as touch, light as blond hair in his eyes.
Shards of crystal were flying everywhere as the glass shattered. In the quiet that followed their eyes met, then Malfoy had his wand out. Before Harry could blink, the book was the size of a matchbox again, the glass whole, and a few Galleons were lying on the table.
Malfoy grabbed his jacket, asked, "Care for a walk, Potter?" And was gone.
Potter stood on High Street. He only saw him when Draco wolf-whistled from the alley. The moment he stepped into the shadow Draco grabbed the collar of his robes. Slammed him into the wall, pressed himself against him. And kissed, Merlin, kissed that red mouth like he'd wanted, wanted – Potter met him open-mouthed, smashed into him, teeth hitting teeth. So hard it hurt. So hungry their tongues slid around each other and couldn't stop until their lips closed tight around the kiss.
They came out of it minutes later. Potter's arms were firm around Draco's body. His hips were making small rolling movements, and if he didn't stop soon, Draco would come just so, frotting like school boys in a dark alley behind the Hog's Head. Potter had his head back against the wall, his eyes were closed. A strange smile played around his lips.
"Some walk," he said softly.
"I needed," Draco managed, "to get you out of there." His lips were numb from Potter's teeth. He was not a gentle kisser, not at all. It made Draco tremble, to know such a thing about him. He licked at the skin of Potter's neck and was overwhelmed by the sweaty, salty taste, it was so real. He pushed his face in deeper, whispered "Harry". The name left a tingling sensation on his tongue.
Potter's fingers slid underneath his jacket, they followed the stitches in the silk. Then they moved lower to rest on his bare skin between trousers and jerkin. Draco drew a sharp breath. Potter's fingers moved along the fringe of the silk, trying to get underneath the tight fit. He licked voraciously at Draco's ear, rubbed his cheek against the side of Draco's face. "Want your skin," he moaned as his fingers wandered lower to Draco's arse. Strong hands cupped his buttocks and pulled him even closer. There was barely enough space between them to breathe.
So simple. So good. Desire swept through Draco, made him rock against Potter's groin, and he couldn't keep his mouth to himself anymore, needed to suck and bite. Bite hard. Potter groaned, grabbed his hair, pulled him away so hard it hurt. The yellow light of the streetlamp fell onto his face, and Draco was startled about how familiar Potter looked. Too familiar. Those green eyes shouldn't shine so bright in the dark, his lips shouldn't have that bruised, irresistible look. Draco reached up and brushed Potter's hair out of his face. The scar was there, a faint zig-zagging line. Potter stood very still, and Draco knew he was waiting for him to touch it. He didn't. If this Potter was another hallucination, the scar would not go away. He never understood why his brain latched on to the scar when he was high. Potter seemed to care little for it. Merlin, the bloody Mark on Draco's own arm didn't tell a thing about him. Nor did those silly, sentimental cuts. Only one scar on his body did.
He shoved his hand between their bodies and pressed it against Potter's cock. The other man moved forward with a groan and started rocking against Draco. This was real. Ragged breathing against his cheek. The pungent smell of Potter's desire. Real.
"I want to suck you off," he whispered.
"Oh God, yes." Potter was arching into his hand. "I'm not goin' t' last long."
The slurred words made Draco's mouth water. With a smile he slid down on his knees, got the robes out of the way, unfastened belt and buttons. He reached around to pull trousers and shorts down, and as he did so, he buried his face in Potter's groin. Grabbed his arse, pulled him towards him. Potter could barely hold still, his thighs were shaking, his hands reached frantically for a hold in Draco's hair. His cock twitched as it jutted out. Uncut, foreskin a snug fit around the blood-flushed glans. Real. Draco wanted nothing so much as suck at the pulsing vein on Potter's cock.
With a quick movement he got his wand out and cast the Detection Spell. Sanguine Aberrata Revelio.
Within seconds Draco realised that to Potter it must have looked like an attack. But in the moment itself he didn't think about who his wand pointed at. He watched for changes in the colouring of the soft red light. He'd cast the spell so often, at Muggle-borns or pure-bloods, sometimes so quickly that his lovers had hardly been aware of it. Potter of course, was an Auror. And a powerful wizard. You did not just throw spells at him. Within seconds Draco knew he had made a mistake.
By then he was on his back, his mouth bloody from Potter's punch, his wand flung somewhere into the darkness.
"I must have been mad to trust you," Potter whispered hoarsely above him. There was an oddly blank expression on his face. No fury, no anger. Potter was giving up, Draco could see it in his eyes. That empty look was resignation. He was giving up on whatever struggle he was fighting with himself. He was giving up on Draco, too.
"Harry –" His voice was barely audible, his mouth was parched. He tried to push himself up, but Potter pressed his wand hard against his throat, and Draco had to keep his head on the ground. Potter's knee was grinding into his arm before he could move it. He tried not to, but couldn't help scream from the pain.
Potter looked at him for another moment, then he withdrew the wand. "You're just like your father, Malfoy," he said and got up.
"Harry – Harry, wait." Draco's voice was barely a croak.
Potter stepped into High Street.
"Harry, wait," he said again. But Potter was gone.
Draco had just about decided to quit Summer School and get as far away as possible from Hogwarts when he ran into Potter. Literally crashed into him, and he would have fallen had Potter not caught him. The other man didn't say a word, just pointed at the two figures before them.
Bathed in silver moonlight in the middle of High Street stood Ted Lupin snarling at Byron. It was two whole days before the full moon, but Ted's hands were furred claws, his eyes green slits, his teeth sharper than a vampire's. That snarl hadn't sounded human either. He was changing, and judging from Byron's shredded robes and the bloody scratches in his face, the change so far had not gone peacefully. The werewolf-boy was too lucid, though, glancing fearfully at the moon and shrinking back towards Byron, as if his friend could help him now. There was a flask in Byron's hand which looked like it came from the Potions classroom. He'd taken the Wolfsbane Potion then, which explained why Ted was still around humans and not howling in the forest with his own kind. It was the only silver lining in the whole bloody mess that Draco could see.
Potter refused to Stun the wolf, and in the end Draco had to do it himself. Now they were walking back to the Hogwarts with an unconscious, half-changed werewolf hovering before them in a Levitation Charm. Potter kept close to the wolf, with Byron clinging to his robes. Draco's godson had screamed bloody murder at him for Stunning his friend. Great. Now they both hated him. Perhaps Julius could get him a job somewhere, out of the country preferably. He'd go mental in the Manor with only his father for company. The head of the PMI owed him. And Julius Avery knew that no son of Lucius Malfoy allowed such debts to be left unpaid.
Suddenly Potter stopped. They were still some distance away from the gates. What now? Draco bit down an exasperated sigh. Potter whispered something that made Byron draw his wand and re-cast the Levitation Charm. Which was quite a feat for a boy his age. Draco himself had not mastered Levitation Charms until sixth year. Potter watched until he seemed satisfied the werewolf was fine. Then he turned and waited for Draco.
For a while they walked side by side in silence. Pale moonlight spilled through the leaves of the trees. It could have been a beautiful night. Romantic even. But moonlight lost its beauty when it turned someone you loved into a wolf. Potter's jaw was working, he clenched and unclenched his hands. He looked dangerous in the half-dark, his eyes glinting green like the wolf's. Dangerous and desirable and just too much like the Potter from his hallucinations. Draco stared at the path before him, at Byron who held his wand in an iron grasp.
"What was that spell? The one in the alley?" Potter finally asked.
"A detection spell for HIV-status."
"What in the name –?" Potter raised his fist as if he wanted to punch the air. "God, Malfoy, can you be more of an idiot?"
Could he? Perhaps not. Draco swallowed hard. "I always – I don't think about it anymore, I guess."
"That friend of yours? He died of AIDS."
It was not a question. Potter had figured it out within seconds. Those bloody Aurors and their superior powers of deduction. Draco nodded.
Potter moved closer. "What was his name?"
"It was Montague."
Silence. Stunned silence, if Draco read the expression on Potter's face correctly.
"I never knew him," he said after a while. "Back in Hogwarts, I mean."
Draco laughed a little, only it didn't sound much like a laugh. "You didn't know any Slytherins."
Just then Byron turned anxiously towards them. The Hogwarts Gate loomed in the dark. Potter waved at the boy to pass through. Draco was about to follow onto the grounds, when Potter grabbed his arm and held him back.
"I didn't mean it," he said, and Draco had no idea what he was talking about. But it didn't matter all that much, really, since Potter was pulling him close. He was trembling, and Draco couldn't stand it, and he held Potter tight.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," he whispered in Potter's hair.
"You are nothing like you father." Potter kept his eyes on Draco's throat.
"But I am." Draco wanted to remind him of the Mark he wore, but it was hidden underneath the lace, and Potter wouldn't understand anyway. Still he said, "Sometimes it frightens me how much we are alike."
Potter looked up then, and the moonlight made his eyes shine too bright, and the glints reflecting from his glasses were so painfully familiar. Draco moved closer and waited for Potter to kiss him. When their lips touched, Potter was still trembling.
They followed Byron and the werewolf up the path to the Castle's front doors. Potter Levitated the wolf up the stairs to the hospital wing. Bletchley was awake in no time, and they brought the wolf into the separate room he had prepared for him. Byron refused to leave his friend, and so they all stayed. Draco had used a mild Stunning Spell, and the werewolf could wake up any minute now. Byron still would not talk to Draco, and so Potter was giving him a lecture about not running away. Bletchley was out somewhere hiding the straight-jacket they would have to use should things get out of hand. Not that Potter knew of that part of the plan.
Draco heard the voice in his mind before he realised someone was using Legilimency on him. Nobody called him sweetheart but Shah Rukh, and the actor was in London, for all that Draco knew. He looked around surreptitiously. You needed eye-contact for Legilimency. But there was no one here.
Draco, get going. The boy is in danger. She has a weapon.
"Shah Rukh," he whispered. "Where are you?"
Potter turned to him, a startled look on his face. "What is it?"
Just then Draco's vision got skewed like it did when someone else was projecting images. He forced himself not to close his mind … Granger in a deserted hallway, a witch in high-heels and red robes behind her, drawn wand in one hand, a pistol in the other … Shit, what was Annabelle doing here? And what was she doing with – ?
There's a silver bullet in that gun.
"Fuck! We need to bring Teddy out of here!"
Potter would never have made Head Auror if he did not react instantly in a situation like this, no questions asked. He lunged at the bed, took the boy in his arms and went for the door. Out in the hospital wing Draco first saw Bletchley lying unconscious on the floor, then the pistol in Annabelle's hand. It was unfortunate that the wolf came around at that second and got away from Potter; unfortunate, too, that Byron stepped right in front of his friend when Annabelle pulled the trigger. And of course, Potter, saviour of the wizarding world, would throw himself between gun and boy and get himself shot.
There is a magic in Hindi cinema that is long lost to Hollywood, and even longer to le cinéma européen. It's in the music, the colours, the fairy tales of old – stories where the fallen save the innocent, where destinies are fulfilled, and true love finds its way.
Harry Potter doesn't think of destiny when he hurls himself across the room to save the Death Eater's child. It's simply that the boy deserves to grow up and make his own choice. Yet with every child he saves, Harry Potter saves himself again. It's the magic of the Gods. And Draco Malfoy doesn't think of love when he Accio's the bullet from Potter's chest. It's simply that he's had enough of death and pain. Yet with everyone he loves, Draco Malfoy can love himself a bit more. It's the magic of the Sea.
The dragonfly alights on coarse grey fur. The werewolf lies shivering and panting, pressed to the floor. There is kinship between them: the dragonfly, too, once changed. It assures the changeling boy, Soon you will be beautiful. The werewolf feels earth flying beneath his paws, high firs rushing by, silver in the sky, the sweet smell of prey before him. Soon, he thinks, I will be strong. It's the fierce, deadly, irrepressible magic of the Wild.
A god with an elephant nose stared at Harry. Ganesha, Malfoy had told him last night, destroyer of evils and obstacles. The mouse at the God's feet wore a wry smile that was so like Dobby's that Harry thought the elf must have been the model for it. Shah Rukh Khan could not know about Dobby, and still his magic captured his smile perfectly. The room had changed during the moment when Harry and Malfoy had first kissed. Since then rose pedals kept falling from the ceiling. They covered the top of Malfoy's enchanted chest of drawers, his one chair, the bed, the bright silk covers. Even the light, which flooded the hall and made the dragons on the floor glitter, was pink. Frankly, it was a bit much. But then, Shah Rukh was a bit much, what with him lacing Harry's drinks and holding Malfoy just way too tight when he said his good-byes.
Not that it mattered now. Shah Rukh was gone, back in Mumbai or who knew where, and Malfoy was here, warm against him. He'd thrown one arm around Harry's waist, soft cock pressed against his arse. Malfoy's wrists were bare. He had taken the cuffs off last night when Harry had finally got the shirt off his skin.
They had made love all night. Kissed, fucked and sucked until Harry had thought he would go mad from the sheer need and coming so hard. He had taken Malfoy from the back and from the front, he had made him come with his hands and with his mouth, and Malfoy had eaten him whole in a way that made Harry's balls ache just thinking about it. He'd had come on his knees, his hands in Malfoy's hair, the length of his cock slammed deep down Malfoy's throat.
Malfoy, while fucking him every other way, had not penetrated Harry, not once. Which was odd considering that Harry had slept with a total of six men in his life whereas Malfoy obviously had had his full share of anonymous and not so anonymous homosexual encounters. But he had sidestepped all of Harry's not so subtle suggestions to take him. And Harry rarely bottomed, but he wanted to now, with Malfoy. He wanted Malfoy to take him.
He remembered falling asleep, still half-hard inside of him. Their bodies must have rearranged themselves during the short hours of the night. Soon they would disentangle their limbs, get up, cover their naked bodies with clothes. Harry's skin was cold where it was not touching Malfoy, and it was pathetic how much he needed him near.
The feeling would pass, he knew. Later he would stand beside Malfoy, at the entrance of the Great Hall, or in the hospital wing checking in on Teddy. He would touch the collar of Malfoy's robes just for a moment, and it would feel reassuring and hot and right. It was all Harry needed. Really, it was quite enough. And if something came of this, if he and Malfoy became lovers for more than a summer, then there'd be times when he'd want to be away from him, too. And Malfoy would want to be left on his own at times, even more so than Harry. He could tell from the far-away look on his face when he listened to music, from his focused single-mindedness at potion brewing. Harry knew he would get used to it.
But right now he could barely breathe when Malfoy moved in his sleep and let rose-petaled air come between them. I can't lose you, he thought, which was such a silly, silly thought. They had barely spent their first night together. But already Harry felt like Malfoy could be taken away from him, be gone like everyone he'd let close. And he would get used to that fear, too. But if they had to let go of each other soon – if they had to get up and leave this bed and this room, then he wanted at least the feel of Malfoy's semen leaking out of him, wanted that fuck-soreness to remain with him for the day.
Carefully Harry moved his hips back towards Malfoy. The reaction was immediate and intense. He moved his arse so that Malfoy's rising erection got caught in the crack. His steady breathing changed into a faster, less regular rhythm. His body lost the softness of sleep, became solid and alert, he was waking up. His cock was twitching, pressing against Harry's arse. He was so warm, and a moan escaped Harry when Malfoy's arm pulled him closer.
"You're – Harry?" His voice was rough with sleep and he reached for Harry's face. Gently, almost anxiously, he moved over eyebrows, nose, lips, chin, then pressed his body closer against him with a contented sigh. "G'mornin'." His cock slipped between Harry's legs, pushing against his scrotum with short, uncontrolled movements.
Harry rolled onto his back. The cold hit his side, but he needed to see Malfoy. The strange pink light made his blond hair gleam, he looked at Harry from dark eyes. The hard lines around his mouth had gone blurry, and Harry leaned up to kiss him. He tasted like sleep and sex and Harry formed silent words around his mouth, and when Malfoy's lips twitched, he realised he'd said "Draco," and he said it again, "Draco." Malfoy sucked lightly at his tongue, and he was all awake now, rubbing his thumb across the swollen head of Harry's cock. Pre-come glistened on Malfoy's erection.
"I want you to fuck me," Harry whispered.
A shudder ran through Malfoy's body, but it was the only answer Harry got. Malfoy kept stroking his cock, and if he kept it up, Harry was going to come pretty soon. He put his hand on the fingers, made them stop.
"You're not a die-hard bottom, are you?"
Malfoy's laugh came high and soft. "Hardly," he said and as if to prove it he pushed Harry back on his side. Harry moved his legs, so that he could slide between them. But he didn't, just stroked the inside of Harry's thighs same as he had stroked his cock. He moved closer after a while and pressed one of his legs between Harry's thighs. His fingers grabbed for Harry's arse, circled around his hole, then pushed in, first one, then two. Harry rocked backwards, wanting to pull the probing fingers deeper into him. His cock grazed the sheets, and he gasped. Sharp stabs of pleasure pulsed through him, and he felt his anus contract around Malfoy's fingers.
"Where's the lube?" Malfoy whispered against Harry's ear.
"No lube. Just take me."
Malfoy let out a soft hiss. "I hadn't noticed you're into pain."
"I'm not." Not pain. But what was it when you wanted your lover so close that even skin-to-skin was not near enough? "I need to feel – Need to have you. In me."
Harry made no sense, not really, but Malfoy obviously had heard something in his voice. With a slow nod he slid his fingers in Harry's mouth. "Suck."
He sucked his own musky, bitter taste from Malfoy's fingers until they were slick with spit. Malfoy coated his cock and Harry's crease with it. He was trembling so hard that Harry wondered if he really wanted this, if it was too close or too early, and that he didn't know all that much about what Malfoy needed. He reached for his wrist and sucked at it. Because he needed to and because he didn't know how else to stop Malfoy from trembling.
"Merlin, Potter." Malfoy groaned on the inhale of a sharp breath and he roughly pushed apart Harry's buttocks. His cock slid into the crease, rock-hard and hot-slick with more than just spit. Needy sounds came from his throat, and he was thrusting even before his cock had entered Harry.
"You asked for this, Gryffindor," he rasped, and Harry would have laughed had Malfoy not moved into him just this moment. The pain swept through him and it spread fast, and he leaned back into Malfoy and tried to breathe, just breathe, until it ebbed away and left him full and wanting to be touched deep inside. Malfoy was still trembling, and Harry reached for him, touched his shoulders telling him with no words that it was fine, so good, if he just started moving.
Malfoy moved slowly, but soon picked up a steady rhythm that brought him deeper with each thrust. Harry's hips rocked back and forth and he couldn't stop, and Malfoy grabbed them and held them firmly in place. His cock was just barely grazing Harry's prostate, and Harry wanted to scream, it felt so good. He rubbed his face against Malfoy's cheek, whispered "Draco" and "don't go," and Malfoy covered his mouth with his, said, "I'm not going anywhere," and then, incongruously, "just you stay," and kissed him hard. His arms moved around Harry's body, Dark Mark sliding across naked skin, his hands on Harry's chest, stomach and cock as if he wanted to touch all of him at once. Malfoy's fingers ghosted over the spot where the bullet had entered Harry's chest. The new skin felt paper-thin. If Malfoy sliced him open there, if he reached in – he'd be so close then, and Harry could be sure he wouldn't be taken away. Malfoy looked at him from the side, his hair dark from sweat. He moved slower, drawn-out, haltingly. His arms were tight around Harry's chest, and with each thrust he pulled Harry closer towards him.
Malfoy whispered, "I'm going to come," and Harry could tell he was trying to hold back, clenching his teeth so hard, the bones seemed to push through his skin. The soles of Harry's feet tingled, he felt the first ripples of orgasm. Malfoy felt them too, for he moaned and moved faster. It took no longer than for the light to turn from pink to an orange gold. Fierce spasms ripped through Malfoy's body, made him arch and cry out, and perhaps he cried Potter or Harry or some spell that Harry didn't know. There was a wall of fire around them, and the elephant-nosed God winked at him. Harry came, untouched, to the sound of nearing thunder, above him a fiery sky. And Malfoy was panting harsh at his ear and held on to him so tightly it hurt.
He let him go, minutes later, just a bit, to let Harry catch his breath. When he slid out of him, Harry started to feel the pain at once, just like he had wanted to: a burning ache that told him that spit was just not lube, and that Malfoy had been less in control than it had felt like.
Malfoy took one look at him. "Stupid git. You shouldn't let me do this to you." He gently pulled Harry on his back. In the morning light his skin was even paler than usual and the sharp angles of his face looked so fragile that his words really made no sense at all.
"You let me do it to you."
Malfoy wiggled his arse around a bit and grimaced in pain. "But I'm an idiot, remember."
Harry smiled and plucked the last of the rose petals from Malfoy's hair.
He leaned back and meant to close his eyes, when he noticed a small movement on the floor. He turned his head, expecting rose petals dancing in the breeze from the Lake. But it was a dragonfly sitting on the parquet floor and cleaning its blue wings. It might have felt Harry's glance, for it stopped and turned its multi-facetted eyes towards him. There was a slight nudge in his mind, but nobody was near, only Malfoy who was falling asleep on his chest.
If you hurt him, I'm having your skin. The thought popped into his mind from nowhere. Harry grinned at the dragonfly. If the insect had somehow mastered Legilimency, then such a threat was certainly not what Harry had expected. Alas, dragonflies had no magic, not that Harry had heard of it. I won't, he assured his strange Gryffindor subconscious.
He sensed Malfoy's gaze on him. He had to wonder what Harry was smiling at and Harry looked at him. Malfoy had his head cocked in that odd, lop-sided way and the light fell into his eyes turning them silver.
"I won't," he said and moved to kiss the puzzled expression off Malfoy's face. Their lips barely touched, and the sun was warm on his skin and Malfoy's hair. From the floor there was the softest flap of blue dragonfly wings, the deep vibration of a large insect taking to the air. Harry watched as it vanished into the sky above the Lake. Then Malfoy kissed him for real.