Actions

Work Header

Freedom Found in Defiance

Chapter Text

A/N: This is the sequel to Freedom Bound in Chains. If you want to understand what led to the circumstances and personalities of the characters in this story, please read FBiC first. However, it is very dark and details the trauma and abuse suffered by both Harry and Draco. A brief summary of FBiC is as follows:

Draco was stolen as a baby from his DeathEater family only to be abducted again six years later and turned into a sex-slave on the Muggle blackmarket. The Dursleys sell an abused Harry to the same group when he's seven years old. Brought together, the boys form a magical bond, escape to live with a Muggle who is caught up in the mob, and eventually get discovered by the Magical world. However, neither world considers them normal: Draco has been forged into an Alpha while Harry finds freedom in submission. This is the story of how Harry becomes bonded to Draco Malfoy and a ward of the Malfoy family.

I will do my best to make Freedom Found in Defiance stand alone. I will refer to events from FBiC, but I will try to do so in a way that it is still understandable to those who have not read the first story.

xXx

FREEDOM FOUND IN DEFIANCE

Warning: This story will cover topics such as: Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Homophobia, Slash (male/male relationships), Shota/Chan (children together sexually), Alpha/Omega, BDSM, Ownership/Claiming, Body Modification, Bullying, Violence, Death/Murder, Toys, Voyeurism, Rape, Cross-Dressing, Gender Fluid characters, and other sensitive topics. Please be aware of this BEFORE reading.

If such topics are triggers to you, please don't read. I welcome any feedback but only in regards to making my writing and/or story better. Please don't send me verbal abuse because I write about dark topics that I feel need to be addressed. I, in no way, endorse child abuse or pedophilia.

xXx

x

May 1st, 1991

x

Draco walked across an empty room. His feet sank into the plush carpet at his feet. All was quiet, all was still. He walked toward a dark window. There was nothing beyond it. Just as he was about to touch the glass it seemed to melt. Draco's heart began to beat harder as he stepped through to the other side.

He was standing in a white room: the floor in white tile, the white walls bare, the white ceiling flat above his head. It was like standing in a large, white box. In the far right corner there was a large pile of something covered with a stark white sheet. It formed a type of lumpy pyramid as tall as Draco at its highest point. His lungs began to scream; he couldn't draw a single breath. With a shaking hand, he reached forward and pulled the sheet away from the pile.

At first his brain didn't register what he was seeing. Then with a feeling of a knife tearing through his gut, he recognized arms, legs, and heads. Dead bodies… dead children… a pile of corpses as tall as he was.

He was screaming now. Screaming like the whole world was ending. He grabbed hold of a limp, cold arm and pulled. Harry's dead body tumbled from the pile, green eyes faded… staring… empty.

Wailing, Draco collapsed to his knees as his whole world crumbled around him. He pulled Harry's lifeless body to his chest as he sobbed. Harry's skin was waxy and cold… repulsive. The smell was nearly overpowering. As Draco looked down at the body in his arms, the corpse's head fell limp at an unnatural angle. Harry was dead and never coming back…

Draco sat up, drenched in sweat, heart thundering in his chest, tears streaming from his wild eyes. Cool hands touched his wet cheeks and Draco flinched, a sob rising in his throat.

"Shhh…" a sweet voice soothed him. "I'm okay… I'm here, Draco… Yours…"

Draco whimpered as his eyes focused. The room was shrouded in shadows, the sun not yet risen, but he could just make out Harry with his bright green eyes and messy black hair sitting next to him in their bed. He slowly released the painful grip he had on Harry's thin wrist and flung his arms around his boy. Harry molded to his chest and hummed with -happy love.

Harry's warm, gentle emotions filled the bond and eased Draco's terror. Slowly his heart beat calmed and he was able to breathe normally, his harsh panting gasps quieting. * Love you, * he whispered telepathically into Harry's mind.

Harry smiled against Draco's sternum and turned his head to rub his cheek affectionally against Draco's sweat-damp chest. Not quite able to smile yet, Draco lay down, pulling Harry so that the shorter boy lay sprawled half on top of him.

The dream haunted him. The icy terror of having lost Harry, of having failed him, wasn't easy to shake. The fact that it was an actual memory and not just his imagination made it all the worse. An Unspeakable, Pandora Lovegood, had been summoned by Lucius when they had first been found to study Draco and Harry's magical bond. It was rare, even for a twin bond, binding them at three points: magic, soul, and mind.

Instead, what Pandora found in her examination was the Black core of Voldemort's magic that was still attached to Harry's own. In her attempt to discover how to free Harry from that evil, she had created clones to experiment on. Failure after failure, she had eventually brought Draco to that cold, white room.

It was there that he'd seen with his own eyes the pile of Harry's corpses, all of them killed painfully in the course of Pandora's experiments. In fact, he'd participated in one of those experiments. He'd looked into Harry's green eyes and watched as the boy was torn apart by magic, felt it in the artificial bond Pandora had established between him and the clone. Draco had watched helplessly as Pandora had cast the Killing Curse and killed Harry right in front of him. The memory wouldn't leave him, even after a year and a half years.

Pandora had died studying the Black core inside Harry, but she had left Draco her notes. Notes she had told him never to share with anyone. Not that he would. If the world discovered Harry had Voldemort's Black core in him, they'd be terrified. They'd lock Harry up, maybe kill him trying to get it out. Draco wouldn't allow it.

Eyes silver and fierce, Draco stared up at the ceiling and held tight to Harry's warm, sleeping body. Harry was HIS! Draco was going to save him… He was going to protect him… and he'd DESTROY anyone who got in his way.

xXx

Draco and Harry, wearing nice slacks and sweaters, arrived by portkey just before noon to a small stone circle placed in a field in Ottery St. Catchpole. The weather was a crisp 14 degrees Celsius/ 58 degrees Fahrenheit, but the sky was blue and the sun was bright, making it feel warmer. They carried two small, wrapped packages each. Ted carried even more while Andromeda carried a happy toddler on her hip.

It was May 1st. They were scheduled to return to the Malfoys for the month of May, but it had been arranged that they could attend Beltane and Dee's first birthday celebration with Andromeda and Ted first. Draco and Harry would portkey back to Malfoy manor as soon as the party was over.

A huge pavilion had been set up on the far side of the stone circle. There were wooden picnic tables, balloons, streamers, and a gaggle of redheads of all ages with a few blonds and brunets scattered here and there. Laughter and shouts filled the air. Draco's lips tilted into a faint smile as Harry's emotions came across the bond - happy excitement.

Ron spotted them first. The redhead came barreling over to them, his freckles bright on his ruddy cheeks. "Draco! Let's try and get 'em to play baseball!" - Ron had been roped into joining Draco and Harry's summer baseball team and had become an enthusiast. Quidditch would always come first, but baseball came a close second.

"Hello, Ronald. Let us get settled in and say hello to everybody," Andromeda cut in, smiling.

Ron went an even darker red as he kicked the ground. "Hello, Mrs. Tonks."

Draco led Harry and Ted over to the gift table while Andromeda and Dee headed toward Molly at the food table. Bill, the Weasley's oldest son, was sitting there with a redheaded baby on his lap. Septimus Weasley, otherwise known as Tim or Timmy, saw Draco and his pale blue eyes lit up. A smile broke across the toddler's face and he reached for Draco eagerly.

"Hey, Draco. Hiya, Harry," Bill greeted with an easy smile. He was a dark tan and his hair a bright copper from spending most of his time in the deserts of Egypt as a Curse-Breaker. "Good morning, Ted. Happy Beltane."

"Happy Beltane, Bill. You look well," Ted answered politely, setting his packages down.

Draco ignored Timmy's reaching hands and ran his fingers gently through the boy's thick, wavy red hair. "Happy birthday, Tim," he said softly.

Harry ducked in next to him and gave the baby a heart-felt kiss on the cheek. "Happy birthday, Timmy." He looked up through his bangs and round black glasses, smiling shyly. "Happy Beltane, Bill."

Bill's face softened even as he held onto the squirming toddler who was trying to get closer to an aloof Draco. "Are those for the kiddos?"

"Yes!" Harry gave a happy grin and placed the two presents on the pile.

Draco did the same with the two he held and took Harry's hand. "See you around." He led them into the crowd, ignoring the way Timmy's eyes followed him intently. Draco knew if he gave Tim attention, he'd never get rid of the boy and he wanted to have some fun before he was stuck babysitting all afternoon.

He led Harry toward the stone circle. A tall pole had been erected in the center. Long ribbons of every color hung limp around it waiting for the dance. Most of the kids their age were gathered there. The girls were in bright, long-sleeved dresses while the boys wore pants and colorful sweaters. Harry had chosen a pale purple while Draco wore a deep sapphire blue.

Ron, Ginny, Luna, and two kids he didn't know looked over as they approached. Luna, thick blonde hair filled with colorful ribbons, saw them and smiled. She had on a sparkly gold dress with pink ballet shoes and tiny, cucumbers hanging from her earrings. The cucumbers were real, of course.

"Prince Draco, Prince Harry!" she said happily and gave a graceful curtsy.

"How are you?" Draco asked softly as Harry gave her a quick hug.

After the experiment with Harry's clones, he'd seen Luna's mother in a different light, but Pandora had tried to help them and had left Draco notes so that he could figure out how to save Harry. This girl with big blue eyes and vacant smile had lost her mother because of them. It made him feel responsible for her in some way.

"The snorkblasts are bright and happy today," she answered whimsically.

Ginny loped her arm through Luna's, her face a bright red the way it was whenever she was around Harry and Draco. "Are you going to join the dance? Please, Draco?" Her usual braided pigtails had been exchanged for a messy bun. She wore a pretty, pale green dress and had white ribbons in her hair.

- nervous anticipation -

Draco caught and held Harry's deep green eyes. Ginny was talking about the Maypole dance. This was the first time they'd come to a community Beltane, but Andromeda had told them what to expect. When she'd described the dance around the Maypole, he'd felt Harry's interest spike. Harry loved dancing. He thought it was beautiful, but he was terrified of messing it up. The spinning and interweaving of the ribbons that Andromeda had described sounded complicated, but Draco wasn't about to let fear hold Harry back. Plus, they were going to Hogwarts in a few months. This would be a good test of Harry's nerves.

* Just follow my lead, * he decided, telling Harry across their psychic bond. *Remember the whole point is for the ribbons to get tangled. You can't do it wrong. * Looking away from his boy, he gave the girls a polite smile. "Yes. We'll dance."

- anxiety trust - "Yes, Draco," Harry said softly, head ducked submissively, and Draco ran his thumb gently over the back of Harry's hand.

Ginny gave a happy squeal and darted toward her mother to tell her the news.

"Draco, this is Hermione and Neville," Ron stood leaning on a stone from the circle and gestured carelessly to the two brown-haired kids Draco didn't know. "Mum invited them this year when she heard about Hermione." The redhead leaned closer and whispered, "Hermione is a Pleasant. She's being fostered by the Longbottom family."

Ron's whisper wasn't quiet enough for the two kids not to hear and the girl ducked her head so that her frizzy hair hid her face. The boy's chubby cheeks went red, but he said nothing, shifting his weight unhappily.

Muggleborns were getting taken from their Muggle families more and more often now. The first few were older and attended Hogwarts already. They had been pathetically grateful for being fostered by a Magical family and a few had even been open about the abuse they had suffered there. Such stories had increased the popularity of Loretta's Law.

As more families began to foster Muggleborns, an amendment to the law was created for all fostered Muggleborns to change their names to match Loretta Pleasant's. It was said they did this to honor the girl who had inspired the law that protected and saved them, but Draco took lessons from Lucius and saw another reason behind the name change: it was so that the fostered Muggleborns could be more easily identified.

One reason for this was to prevent the accidental corruption of a Pureblood line. If a Muggleborn was fostered by a Pureblood family, a courting family might assume they were legitimate heirs to that line. A marriage between a fostered Muggleborn and a Pureblood would corrupt the line and had to be prevented at all cost. Of course, there were those like the Weasleys who didn't care about blood purity and were considered blood-traitors because of it even though their line wasn't technically corrupted yet.

In any case, as Loretta's Law became more and more popular and kids were taken from their families at a younger and younger age, the rightness of it had become murkier to Draco. Lucius speculated that Muggleborn fosterlings would become a type of servant to the adopting family and a symbol of status. If the child was actually abused, all the better. They'd be desperately loyal to the family who wanted them.

Draco had never met a Pleasant in person and he was slightly curious which way this Hermione fell. Was she an abused child or had she been swept up in the Pureblood demand for a Muggleborn to foster?

"Thanks, Ron," Draco said calmly and reached forward to push the girl's hair away from her face so he could see it. "Hi, Hermione. I'm Draco Malfoy. This is Harry Potter. It's nice to meet you."

Her expression was guarded; she had already learned a degree of shame for what she was. However, she hadn't flinched when Draco moved his hand toward her face to touch her hair nor was she afraid to look in his eyes. "I've read about you in the papers, of course," she stated stiffly. "It's a pleasure to meet you." She then gave an unpracticed curtsy.

Draco gave her a cool smile. He doubted she had been abused, or at least not to the extent Draco would consider abuse. Not like he and Harry had been in the Blackmarket Hold where survival had been a very real daily struggle and not like Percy who had been molested and raped for most of his Third Year by a mysterious man in the Gryffindor dorms.

"Have you ever danced around a Maypole?" Draco asked casually, losing interest.

"No," she admitted reluctantly and flushed red in embarrassment, clearly sensitive to being made to feel lesser.

"I haven't, either!" Neville chimed in suddenly, still red in the face. His eyes darted nervously, unable to maintain contact long. After his outburst, his voice dropped significantly. "I… My family doesn't… celebrate… much…"

Draco lifted an eyebrow. It was the boy who actually showed evidence of abuse and he was the Pureblood. Neville was shorter than Ron but a little taller than Draco. He was plump with mousy brown hair and brown eyes. There weren't any marks on him, but with magic there wouldn't always be.

"It's my first year, too," Harry chimed in after receiving Draco's subtle nod. He gave Neville and Hermione a warm smile. Hermione visibly relaxed, but Neville remained tense. "Draco says you can't do it wrong. The ribbons are supposed to get tangled."

"We can show you baseball, too!" Ron jumped in enthusiastically. "It's a Muggle game, so I bet Hermione knows about it. Draco is the team captain on the summer team we belong to. We're the Yellow Jackets!" he told them proudly, puffing out his chest. "We took second place in last year's tournament. Practice starts again next month. It'll be our last tournament before Hogwarts, so we gotta win it!"

Draco smirked. "Oh, we will," he said confidently.

"Why are you wearing a collar?" Hermione suddenly asked, eyes looking intently at the black leather collar that sat snug around the base of Harry's throat and only partially covered by his sweater.

Harry's hand lifted to cover the collar protectively. He still harbored a fear that someone would take it from him. It symbolized Draco's claim on him, the loss of which terrified him to this day.

"It's some Muggle fashion," Ron answered annoyed. "Don't you know that?"

Hermione went red in the face, frowning, but before she could respond, Draco thought it best to leave. Chokers were a fad among Muggles, but they were usually worn by girls and didn't usually resemble dog collars. It would be best if the Wizarding world didn't realize that.

"Come on, Harry. Let's get some food." He took Harry by the hand and gave a polite nod toward Neville and Hermione. "You are welcome to play if you would like to join us."

As soon as Molly saw them, she gave them huge hugs. She had Dee on her hip. The baby was always smiling and giggling, her dark brown curls bouncing and her blue eyes sparkling. Where Tim was silent, Dee babbled and giggled constantly. She was a delight and everyone doted on her.

Draco caught sight of Madam Longbottom. She was a severe woman who wore dark maroon and black even on this bright and festive day. Her hat and bag had animal fur and feathers. Death seemed to shroud her.

Everyone ate and drank, the adults getting a bit tipsy. Eventually they gathered the kids who wanted to participate in the Maypole Dance. Harry and Neville looked very nervous and anxious as they took up their ribbons. Ginny was the complete opposite. She had been crowned May Queen again this year and wore a huge crown of white and pink flowers. Luna smiled vaguely, looking content, while Hermione had a frown of intense concentration. Ron just wanted to get it over with and play baseball. Draco shook his head and gave Harry a reassuring smile.

Bill began a happy jig on the fiddle while Ted piped along on a flute. Andromeda and Molly shook tambourines. A jaunty song somehow came out of all the noise and Ginny began to skip around the pole, pushing everyone along. They ducked and jumped over each other's ribbons. It soon became a game and they ran around laughing and spinning. Their ribbons became shorter and shorter until they all met together at the base of the pole, red-faced and out of breath. The adults clapped and roared their approval and fathers came to lift their daughters on their shoulders. Ginny and Luna looked thrilled, but Hermione stood alone next to Neville with no father to speak of. Even one-year-old Dee was lifted carefully onto Ted's shoulders.

Ron was able to wrangle ten people into playing baseball not long after. Draco was always catcher and Harry always played pitcher. Ron, Arthur, Bill, Ginny and Molly were the Reds. Andromeda, Neville, Hermione, Luna, and Ted were the Nots. They took turns fielding and batting in turns. Having more adults on the team gave the Reds the advantage during batting, but the Nots had the advantage during fielding. It was a close game, but the Reds took it in the end much to Ron and Ginny's delight.

Dee and Tim opened their presents with the help of their mothers shortly afterward. They received clothes and a few toys. They even blew out the one candle on their shared birthday cake. It was shared because Molly and Andromeda had both gotten pregnant on Samhain, or Halloween, night while they were caught in a faery ring. Exactly six months later, they had both gone into labor on Beltane or May 1st. The women claimed it was because the babies were special and had a special connection to nature, but the truth probably had something to do with fairy magic.

As the sun began to set, a bonfire was lit. Bill and the other adult males leapt over the flames to the applause and gasps of the watching crowd. It was a purifying ritual. Beltane was a holiday celebrating Spring and fertility. The males were purifying themselves and would soon couple with their partners. After all, the Maypole was represented masculinity wrapped in femininity. Draco looked to Harry, his everything. The firelight softened the boy's face and illuminated his happy smile. Draco squeezed his hand and pulled him closer so that he could stand behind him and wrap him in a hug.

* Love you, * he whispered into Harry's mind.

- LOVE gratitude happy - came rushing back.

Draco smiled and pressed his face into Harry's messy black hair to hide it.

xXx

x

June 28th, 1991

x

Draco was sitting on the couch, leaning against the arm. Harry was on the floor between his legs, Draco running his hand rhythmically through Harry's soft, messy hair. They both had Earth Science textbooks propped up in front of them. The living room fireplace flared with green fire. Draco looked up lazily, expecting Dora to step free with Andromeda and Ted. His eyes widened however when Dora practically leapt through the fire and spun around, her open school robe flaring, her hair a bright, flaming red.

Andromeda strode from the fire equally up in arms. "… no thought to what this would do to the family!"

"What, Mother? Represent the family with honor?"

Dee, who had been asleep on the rug with a blanket and pillow, sat up and began to cry. Harry looked up at Draco and received a short nod. He then immediately moved to the baby and pulled her into his arms. She quieted, watching with big blue eyes as her older sister and mother continued to scream.

"Honor! That's a fine thing to put on your grave! I'm sure it will be very comforting!"

Red in the face, Dora grew a few inches to be slightly taller than her mother and stepped forward so they were less than a few inches apart. "I like how much faith you have in me! I haven't died yet, Mother!"

"The Aurors is no place for you, Nymphadora!"

"And you think you know what my place is? I'll decide my own place! I will be starting the Auror program!"

"You thoughtless, stupid girl!" Andromeda lifted her hand to strike her daughter across the face, but Dora knocked her arm away with enough force that Andromeda staggered.

"I'll grab my things," Dora said coldly, her hair turning a dark, jet black. "A friend will put me up."

Ted looked sadly on as his daughter stormed past him to the stairs up to her room. Andromeda, furious and crying, stomped into the kitchen without saying a word.

Draco stood and set his book aside. "Come on, Harry. Let's tell Dora goodbye." He held his hand out expectantly.

Harry stood very carefully, shifting fourteen-month-old Dee onto his hip. The sound of the little girl quietly crying and whimpering was loud in Harry's ears and - remorse guilt - flooded his heart.

"This had nothing to do with you." Draco came up behind Harry as they reached the second floor landing. He slipped his fingers between Harry's skin and collar, pulling it snug against Harry's throat in warning.

Draco maintained his grip as they ascended the stairs to the third floor. He walked behind Harry, arm stretched up to maintain his hold on the collar. By the time they reached the top, - calm acceptance - had replaced the heavy emotions from before.

They found Dora in her bedroom. Her Hogwarts robe was gone. In its place she wore a pale blue, baggy button up shirt tucked into pale blue jeans with huge pink flowers all over them. Her light brown belt matched her work boots. She had rolled the shirt's sleeves to halfway up her forearm. Her hair was short and frizzy around her head, still a dark black. Her eyes brightened to blue, matching Dee's, when she turned and saw them in the doorway.

"Well, we knew it would be like this," she said ruefully with a smile, her hair going brown. "I'm sure it will blow over in a few months, maybe a year tops. You boys will be going to Hogwarts in a few months, so you probably won't even notice."

Dora hefted her duffle bag over her shoulder and came over to ruffle Dee's curls. "I love you, little Dee Dee." She kissed the baby’s chubby cheek. She turned to Harry, giving him a sweet smile. "Just Owl me if you need anything, okay? We're family. No matter what."

"I love you," Harry told her tearfully. "I'm sure you'll do amazing as an Auror."

She flashed them a seemingly carefree grin and turned to Draco. His grey eyes watched her calmly. She handed him a thick envelope. "I catalogued all the good hiding spots in Hogwarts as well as a few interesting little tidbits. Give 'em hell, will ya?"

"Good luck."

Dora patted his shoulder bracingly once before pushing past him on the stairs, leaving for good. They could hear Andromeda yelling something to her before a door slammed loud enough they could hear it on the third floor. Dee put her head down, tucking it against Harry's neck. Harry stared wide-eyed at Draco.

The blond pulled Harry into his arms, Dee held safely between them. Like the baby had done to him, Harry tucked his face against Draco's neck. "It's going to be okay, Harry. They'll make up. Dora's gonna be great and Andromeda will be proud. Trust me."

"Yes, Draco," Harry answered softly, relaxing into Draco's hold.

xXx

x

July 2nd, 1991

x

Just shortly after dawn Narcissa carried the letter the boys had brought to her from her older sister down to the informal breakfast room. It was one of her favorite rooms. It had cream wallpaper with a pale brown diamond pattern. The ceiling was white, but you could see fat wooden beams crossing along the top. A soft yellow chandelier that looked like bare tree branches with about a dozen golden candles hung from the center.

Making the room look bigger, there was a big golden-framed mirror on one wall that sat above the wall's halfway mark. Underneath the mirror, on the lower half of the wall, was white wood with a small lip at the top. The table was dark and carved in a rectangle that could fit three dinning chairs on the long sides and one chair at either end. The floor was polished hardwood, and there were two narrow windows that stood floor to ceiling and showed a small hedge garden. On the center of the table was a low bowl of white flowers and two golden candlesticks with white candles lit.

Each place setting had china plates that sat on top of each other, each slightly smaller than the one on the bottom with many silver forks, knives, and spoons surrounding it. It was a picture of elegance and high-born etiquette, and Lucius matched the room perfectly.

He was already dressed immaculately for the day, his long hair tied back at the nape of his neck, his day robes perfectly tailored to his form, and his cane resting against his chair. His eyes softened as he took in his wife. Narcissa was adorned in a white dress that was reminiscent of Grecian robes. Large pink flowers graced the semi-sheer fabric. Her long golden hair was pinned up on her head, revealing her long neck.

"Good morning," she greeted her family.

"Good morning, Narcissa," Harry answered back, smiling.

"Good morning," Draco said more simply.

"I received a notice from Andromeda," she informed them as Lottie, one of their two house elves, began serving. "Nymphadora graduated the top of her year."

"A fine achievement," Lucius praised and cut his eyes meaningfully toward Draco. "It is a good example to follow."

Draco ignored this. He would do as well as he wanted to, but Harry felt sharp - anxiety - always needing to please. Draco squeezed his hand firmly under the table.

"She has also been accepted into the Auror Apprentice program," Narcissa added.

"If that is the course she'd like to pursue, she clearly has the scores for it." - Lucius's words were supportive, but his tone expressed doubt.

"It's a dangerous field," Narcissa agreed quietly. "Hopefully Denebola will pursue a more peaceful course." Her worried eyes fell on Draco.

Draco gave a careless shrug. "It's not something I'm interested in." If he needed to kill someone or investigate something, a group like the Aurors would only slow him down.

Not knowing his thoughts, Narcissa gave him a relieved smile and returned to her breakfast, the conversation dropped in favor of discussing the playdate they had scheduled with Draco and Harry's "closest" friends.

These friends were the ones approved by Narcissa of course; families loyal specifically to Lucius Malfoy. Pansy Parkinson, a member of one of the twenty-eight Sacred Bloodlines, as well as Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle - Purebloods but whose lines were contaminated a few generations back by Halfblood spouses, preventing them from being considered one of the Sacred.

As luck would have it, Draco didn't mind his mother's choices. Pansy was an emotional girl and sometimes thoughtless, but she was quick and witty. She also genuinely liked both Harry and Draco. More importantly, she was obedient, prepped by her own mother to make Draco happy as a potential mate.

As for Vincent and Gregory, they were products of too much inbreeding. Their two lines had this strange chemistry, intermarrying again and again. Even now Vince and Greg's mothers were sisters. Their fathers were first cousins. Thus the uncanny resemblance: both blond, hulking boys with watery blue eyes. They also had difficulties with reading and writing.

Vince especially had a hard time with words. When he spoke, it was slow, making him sound dumb. Most people didn't have the patience to wait for him to get them out and just bowled right over him. It was a shame because Vince was remarkably insightful, which Draco had used to his advantage a few times already.

As their mothers sat in a garden having tea, Draco led the others toward the woods. It was hot and the shade and privacy were welcome.

"Of course father doesn't think I need to bring all my dresses with me to Hogwarts. I know I can't wear them under my uniform, but I want to be prepared for any eventuality," Pansy chattered on to Draco as they walked between the trees. Harry, Vince, and Greg were slightly ahead of them looking for birds in the trees and other animals, their soft voices a soothing backdrop. "Slytherin has a reputation to uphold, after all," she continued, tucking her shoulder-length black hair behind an ear as she looked over at him with bright eyes and flushed cheeks from the exercise.

"I'm not going to Slytherin, Pansy," Draco told her with a wry smile.

Pansy almost tripped, too busy staring at him to see the tree root in front of her feet. "You can't be serious! You're the very definition of Slytherin!"

Draco smirked and came to a stop, leaning back against a tree and folding his arms smugly across his chest. "Which is why I won't be in Slytherin."

She could only gape at him, wide-eyed.

Grey eyes watched Harry. The boy looked so small compared to the taller, bigger Vince and Greg. "I'm not going to be separated from Harry. He'll have more supporters in Gryffindor."

"Gyffindor!" Pansy gasped. "He's not a Gryffindor, either, Draco!"

He chuckled. "Neither am I, but I'm even less a Hufflepuff."

Pansy made a choking sound. "I would say so!"

"Gryffindor is where we'll meet halfway."

"Even if that were true, how are you going make that happen?" Putting her hands on her hips, she stood across from her friend with a very demanding expression. "You don't just get to pick!"

Draco stared unblinking back at her, eyes sharp. "I will."

She huffed, crossing her arms and looking away. She could never hold his gaze when he got like that. "Are we allowed to be friends in this plan of yours? You know Gryffindors and Slytherins don't get along."

Draco pushed off the tree and tugged playfully at her hair. "I'd never let a good resource go untapped."

She scowled, making him laugh. "Gee, thanks."

xXx

x

July 31st, 1991

x

One month later, it was the last night before they head back to the Tonks'. It was also Harry's 11th birthday, and Dobby woke them before dawn to deliver a very important letter.

- relief gratitude joy - sang through the bond as Harry clutched his acceptance letter from Hogwarts. No matter how much Draco had reassured him that he was going to Hogwarts, Harry still thought it was possible for the school to decide they didn't want him.

Draco smiled as the messy-haired boy beamed happily at Dobby and thanked him profusely. He was practically hugging the letter to his chest. Dobby, of course, gushed about how great Sir Harry was, and the two babbled over each other with huge grins plastered across their faces.

"Enough," Draco chuckled and gave a yawn. "I suppose we might as well start our day."

"Do you think we can go shopping today…?" Harry trailed off - guilty excited. He ducked his head and let his bangs hide his eyes.

"I think Narcissa will be thrilled to take us shopping," Draco answered wryly. The woman genuinely loved to shop.

Sure enough once they dressed and made their way to the breakfast room, Narcissa took Harry's letter with a happy smile. "Congratulations, Harry! I do believe this calls for a little trip to Diagon."

- happy -

They made trips to Diagon a few times a year, but today felt different. It felt like Harry was seeing it for the first time. All the buildings were sort of wonky and leaning toward each other and toward the cobblestone street. Most of them had huge windows so that you could look in without going inside. There were shops selling robes, shops selling telescopes and strange silver instruments Harry had never seen before, windows stacked with barrels of bat spleens and eels' eyes, tottering piles of spell books, quills, and rolls of parchment, potion bottles, globes of the moon…

"May we get our wands first?" Draco asked Narcissa politely, his grey eyes gleaming. He was very much looking forward to being able to wield spells.

"Of course!" She led the way easily through the gaggle of witches and wizards. People seemed to realize who she was and part for her.

The boys followed in her wake, walking hand-in-hand, causing excited whispers to erupt behind them wherever they went. Lucius came after, expression impassive, his silver cane-head gleaming in the morning light. There was an even wider space around him than his wife, giving him plenty of room to keep an eye on his family.

Ollivander's wand shop wasn't too far down the alley. It had a grey exterior and seemed kind of slumped. Two rounded-out glass windows with several window panes revealed a very narrow interior with shelving floor to ceiling with slender boxes of wands. A tiny bell chimed when they entered. The boys stood next to Narcissa with Lucius lurking behind them as usual. There were no lights on in the building. The only the light came from the front windows. It cast the back of the shop and the narrow walkways in deep shadows.

A man with white frizzy hair that stood up around his head appeared out of the gloom. He wore a frayed coat and a grimy white shirt with a thin scarf tied around his neck. He should have looked ragged, but the energy around the man made him seem eccentric instead.

"First customers of the day," the old man spoke softly, a leering grin appearing on his face. He had milky white eyes, but he wasn't blind. He looked dead at Narcissa and said, "Willow, nine and a half inches, unicorn hair. Very supple wand. Good for long incantations."

"Yes," Narcissa inclined her head, smiling in amusement. "It has served me well."

Those white eyes shifted to Lucius. "Ash, ten and three quarters, dragon heartstring. Very stiff wand. Packs quite the punch. A dueler's wand."

Lucius said nothing. He remained stoic against the old wizard's gaze.

Draco took a subtle step forward so that he was slightly in front of Harry when those eyes fell on them. Harry moved in closer to his protector, but he kept his head up and his eyes even. His public mask was firmly in place.

"Ah, I can tell you'll be a difficult one," Ollivander murmured. He lifted his hand as if he was going to stroke Draco's face, but he stopped before his surprisingly graceful fingers came in contact with Draco's skin. Muttering to himself, he disappeared among the gloom.

"There are only three core types used in the UK," Narcissa informed them when Draco turned curious eyes up to her. "Dragon heartstring, unicorn hair, and phoenix feather. The way the core is combined with the variety of woods and the length of each wand makes each one unique."

"Quite so!" Ollivander enthused as he returned as suddenly as he had gone. He had an arm full of about nine wands. "The wand chooses the wizard. That much has always been clear to those of us who have studied wand lore. These connections are complex. An initial attraction, and then a mutual quest for experience, the wand learning from the wizard, the wizard from the wand."

He set the wands on the counter near him and opened the first box. A very dark wooded wand was lifted from the padding inside and handed to Draco to try. Draco took the wand and frowned at the sensation of freezing cold, as if the wand were ice. Ollivander snatched it away, muttering again as he quickly re-boxed the wand and presented the second. This one was very pale. Draco grasped hold and they felt a rush of magic and then the sound of something toppling in the back. Harry's eyes went wide.

"No matter," Ollivander dismissed and snatched the wand away. "Let's see…"

Draco tried four more wands. It was the eighth that lit up with a soft light like a sunbeam, warming the air around them and sparkling gold.

Harry gasped - joy awe love - his green eyes bright and happy behind his glasses.

Draco gave him a smirk, his head tilted proudly as magic seemed to shimmer under his skin. This was his wand, no doubt about it. His hand made a possessive fist around the slender bit of wood.

"Hawthorn, ten inches, unicorn hair," Ollivander murmured in pride. "Semi-flexible. A very protective wand and versatile. This wand is full of contradiction and embodies duality."

"Thank you, sir," Draco told him politely, giving him a half bow. "It is perfect."

"May I see it?" Harry asked shyly.

Draco unclenched his fist and presented his new wand on both palms so his boy could see.

Narcissa leaned down slightly to also get a good look. It was beautiful really. Dark, nearly black at the handle, it had a slightly raised lip and then became a shade of brown. It was very smooth and straight, no curves or bumps or knots.

"A very good wand," she approved.

"Now… Let's see which wand chooses you, shall we?" Ollivander asked, looking eagerly at Harry.

Harry blushed, but he kept his head up.

Again Ollivander reached out, almost touching Harry's face, before turning and heading deep into his store. Harry waited nervously, holding tightly to Draco's free hand. A thought had come to him. What if none of the wands wanted him?

* You will have a wand, * Draco stated firmly into his mind.

Harry's blush deepened, but he relaxed at Draco's proclamation. His confidence didn't last long, however.

Ollivander tried over a dozen wands on Harry and they all rejected the boy - the curtains caught on fire, one whole section of wands had flown from the shelves making a huge mess, Ollivander's hair had turned a puke green, and one wand actually bent in half, much to Harry's horror.

Harry's hands were shaking now, terrified of grasping another wand. Tears filled his eyes, but they were forbidden to fall, trapped behind a public mask that was about to crumble any minute.

Draco stood behind his boy, wrapping him in his arms. * You'll find your wand, Harry. Be patient. *

He would have soothed Harry, telling him it wasn't his fault, but he knew from experience that when Harry felt guilty, comfort only made him feel worse and not understood. Harry needed to be controlled, punished, or given tasks of atonement. It was the only thing that made him feel better. However, Draco's options were limited as they stood at the front of Ollivander's shop with Narcissa next to them and Lucius behind them. All he could do was give a warning pinch to the soft tissue of Harry's lower stomach.

Harry lowered his head in acceptance at the small sting - shame fear submission.

"Here we are!" Ollivander's voice came loud from the back of the room. He appeared a moment later with a single dusty box in his hands. "Nearly eighty years old, it is. Give it a try."

Harry didn't move to take it. It had a dark brown handle that looked like the bark of a tree, uneven and rough. The section above the handle was a little thinner and lighter, but it still wasn't as polished as Draco's before smoothing into five inches of polished, smooth wood.

* Take it, * Draco ordered.

Harry's hand immediately lifted and grasped hold of that rough-hewn handle. Immediately, streamers of red, gold, and silver spilled from the tip like ribbons. Warmth radiated up his arm and pooled in his belly. Harry gave a shocked gasp and looked almost desperately up at Draco as the blond came to stand beside him.

* Good boy, * Draco praised, briefly touching Harry's flushed cheek.

Harry ducked his head and practically melted as Draco pulled him protectively against his chest, hugging him with Harry's new wand trapped between them. Harry was shaking in reaction, nearly overwhelmed with emotion - relief gratitude unworthiness.

Draco looked up as he pet Harry's hair, the boy's damp face pressing against his collarbone. Ollivander stared back with weird intensity. Draco tightened his hold on Harry and lifted an eyebrow. "What is it?"

"Eleven inches, holly, phoenix feather. Nice and supple… But it is curious, very curious…"

"What's curious?" Draco asked sharply.

"Is there something unusual with his wand?" Narcissa asked a bit more politely.

Harry unfolded from Draco's embrace, giving the blond more room to move if he had to. He clutched his new wand to his chest.

Ollivander's white eyes stared unblinkingly at Harry. "I remember every single wand I've ever sold, Mr. Potter. It so happens that the phoenix whose tail feather is in your wand, gave another feather - just one other. It is very curious indeed that you should be destined for this wand when its brother gave you that scar." He lifted and pointed with a slender finger directly to Harry's forehead.

Draco felt Lucius go tense behind him and would have rolled his eyes if his heart wasn't pounding a mile a minute. Lucius had withdrawn from Harry since Pandora's death. He was certain the boy was doomed or would become possessed by the Dark Lord. He'd done all he could to convince Draco to break his bond with Harry and had only grown colder and more distant with each of Draco's refusals. This would only reinforce Lucius's paranoia.

- horror acceptance sorrow - It wasn't news to Harry that he was a disgusting freak. Draco was his only redeeming grace, so it didn't surprise him that he had the same wand as the monster who had killed so many.

"The Dark Lord's wand was holly?" Draco questioned, deciding to address Harry's world-view later. Narcissa's hand clutched his shoulder fearfully.

"No," Ollivander answered in a whisper, his attention shifting to Draco. "Thirteen and a half inches, yew, phoenix feather. A powerful wand, terrible but great."

"Then it's not the same," Draco declared to everyone in the room. He took Harry's hand. "Come on." Looking up at Narcissa, he informed her, "We'll be waiting for you at Madam Malkin's."

Harry obediently followed in his wake, his hand securely clasped in Draco's. The magic of the day had disappeared. He hardly looked around, his head ducked and his face hidden, his mask having fallen away. His new wand was still in his hand and he stared down at it numbly.

"Good morning, madam," Draco said politely as they entered the robe maker's shop.

The plump woman gave a big smile. "Mr. Malfoy, Mr. Potter, good morning." Other customers began to whisper loudly, all eyes on them. Even Malkin's assistants had stopped to stare.

"Before we go for our fitting, would it be possible to use your lavatory?" Draco asked, using the high-class manners Narcissa had drummed into them over the years.

Malkin, of course, gave permission and pointed the way even though it was staff only. It was partially hidden by a staircase and a mountain of swatches and textile materials. Draco pulled Harry into the small space with him. It was tiled with a toilet and sink, barely larger than a cupboard, but it was spotlessly clean.

Draco shut the toilet lid and had Harry sit on it. "Give me your wand," he ordered lowly.

Harry obediently lifted his wand, eyes on the floor.

Draco took it from him. As soon as his fingers closed around it, he could feel a response. A low hum that resonated deep in his bones. It wasn't his wand, but it was his twin's and it recognized him. He gave a slow smile, eyes on the bowed head of messy black hair.

* Look at me, * he told him.

Harry's face lifted, his green eyes going round behind black-framed glasses.

Draco stood, posture commanding and arrogant, feet braced, hips canted. He held Harry's wand up to his mouth. Pink lips parted as silver eyes stared down at him and a slick tongue pressed firmly against the wood. Harry's breath caught at the sight, his eyes glued to Draco's mouth.

Heart pumping steady and strong in his chest, thrilling in Harry's attention, Draco slowly wrapped his tongue around Harry's wand and dragged it down the length of the stick. Sensually up one side and down the other until the whole thing glistened slightly from his spit. Harry was panting softly, cheeks burning red and feeling hot.

* You're mine, Harry. All of you. Every inch. Everything of yours is mine. Even this, * Draco whispered into his twin's mind. He placed the tip of the wand at his lips and slowly slid it into his mouth, pressing it in until it hit the back this throat before sliding it just as slowly out. "Open your mouth, Harry."

Harry opened his mouth, Draco placing the wet wand horizontal so that he was biting down on it in two spots. His tongue lapped at it, sucking Draco's spit from it.

"Don't drop it and don't hurt it," Draco purred. "Don't make a sound."

He pushed open the red day jacket that Harry had chosen to wear that morning. As Harry's breath caught, Draco slowly untied the thin, maroon tie at Harry's throat and unbuttoned the pristine white shirt. He thumbed the boy's nipples before pinching them sharply.

Harry arched into the pain, his eyes squeezing closed. He didn't make a sound.

Draco smiled softly, filled with love. He left off torturing Harry's nipples. Still smiling he undid Harry's belt and button, unzipping the boy. Neither of them wore underwear. Draco knelt and pressed his face into Harry's crotch. He wrapped his arms around Harry's thin waist as he began to slowly lick in circles around the boy's small member.

Harry was sweating now, his whole body arched in a tense line. Draco got him nice and wet and stimulated before turning his head and bit viciously down on his favorite place on Harry's inner thigh.

Harry went rigid, not breathing as the sharp pain shot through his whole body like lightning. The second bite on his other thigh nearly made him scream. He would have if he'd had any air at all. Tears soaked his face.

Then Draco was licking him again, between the two points of molten agony. Harry's jaw loosened, the wand trembled, but he caught it with his teeth at the last minute. Hot, searing pain and throbbing pleasure - he couldn't get his breath.

Yours, I'm yours, Draco, magic's yours, body's yours, free me, save me, hurt me, Draco, yours… Thoughts and words filled up all the spaces not filled already with the pain and pleasure, trapped and unspoken, chained by Draco's order of silence… and he was coming apart!

Draco's shoulders and face were damp from sweat. Harry's pleasure and pain had stormed the bond, bringing him over the edge with his boy. He shifted his hips, his hand lifting from between his legs. There was a small damp spot in his pants from where he'd cum. Mostly clear and only a small amount, it wasn't like Raymond's cum yet, but he knew in a few years it would be.

Harry lay in a limp puddle on the toilet seat. His shirt and jacket hung open, his wand between his teeth with his chin and chest slick with drool. His pants were falling off his hips and exposing his wet, now limp member. He was a gorgeous sight. Draco leaned up to kiss Harry's drool-slick mouth, his tongue tangling with Harry's around the wand between Harry's teeth.

"Good boy," Draco praised, breathless and hoarse, as he leaned back. "Now get dressed. Malkin's waiting."

- LOVE gratitude - Harry spat out his wand, catching it in his hand. "Yes, Draco," he murmured softly. He looked down at his wand and felt warm again. The two bites on his thighs burned and throbbed like acid, comforting him. Whatever the wand hand been, it was Draco's now, just as Harry was.

He held it carefully, cherishing it, as he clumsily buttoned his pants and shirt, straightening his jacket. Draco's warm grey eyes watched him as he leaned against the door. Harry felt safe under that gaze and smiled softly as he washed his hands and face, running his damp fingers through his hair, trying to smooth it down.

Draco pushed off the door and kissed Harry's cheek. He took the boy's hand and led him back out into the shop. Narcissa was there, Lucius was not.

Narcissa gave them a serene smile. "Are you ready for your fitting?" she asked.

Madam Malkin fitted them herself. She put them up on stools in front of the big mirrors while her assistants worked on a few other people. Draco arranged it so that Harry was to the left of him on the outside of the line next to no one but Draco. Draco on the other hand was next to a tall teenager around thirteen or so. He had cropped dark brown hair, heavy dark eyebrows, and thick lips. His dark eyes met Draco's in the mirror and he gave a sharp grin.

"Going to Hogwarts this year?" the boy asked, his voice breaking toward the end.

"Yes." Draco continued to watch him with no expression.

"I'm trying out for Chaser this year. Interested in Quidditch?"

"We'll see." Draco shifted his attention to Harry for a minute, checking on him, but Harry was standing calm and patient as Malkin measured the slight changes in their dimensions from last year.

"Potter, huh?" the boy said, voice low. Draco snapped his attention back to him. "Wouldn't think in a million years a Malfoy would get involved with a Potter."

"That so?" Draco asked quietly, a dangerous glint in his eye. "How rude of me. I don't believe I caught your name?"

"My name's Pucey, Adrian Pucey. Third-year Slytherin." Pucey gave another sharp smile. "What House are you hoping to get into?"

"Oh, I have a feeling the Hat will know exactly where to put me," Draco drawled and gave a sharp smile of his own.

Chapter end.

Chapter Text

Diagon Alley

“You boys look lovely in your school robes,” Narcissa said in approval as the boys came over after their fitting. “Let me take your jackets.”

It was nothing but the truth. The robes were tailored perfectly to their forms. Harry was still very thin, even with the nutrient potion he still took once a month to try and reverse the damage of long-term starvation. Despite his small stature, however, he looked healthy. His hair was thick and glossy, his eyes bright, his skin a golden hue from playing baseball most of the summer. Draco stood a few inches taller and was slightly thicker than Harry, but he was by no means a big child. He possessed a slender build with whipcord muscle underneath his scarred skin. His hair had been bleached pure white and his cheeks and nose were slightly burnt from his time outdoors.

“Thank you, Narcissa. They feel very comfortable,” Harry answered with a happy blush and handed over their day coats. 

Narcissa folded them and cast a spell to shrink them to the size of matchbooks before placing them into her pocket. Looking over, she met Madam Malkin’s eye, silently telling her that she’d be paid later. Harry could still get a bit sensitive if a lot of money was spent on him, so she was in the habit of paying out of his sight. Turning a charming smile to the boys, she asked, “Are we ready to go?” 

Draco eyes were still cold from his exchange with Pucey and his answer came out a clipped, “Yes.”

Narcissa ignored Draco’s attitude. “Lucius is waiting for us at the bank. He had some business there and he also wanted to let Harry see his Potter vault now that he is eleven.”

Harry put his hand in the blond’s - calm love - flowing through the bond. 

Draco melted. He squeezed Harry’s fingers in thanks, his eyes thawing. 

They had a little bit of a walk. Gringotts was at the very end of Diagon Alley and the crowd was even thicker than it had been that morning. Draco kept his face perfectly blank as people gasped and pointed at them. A few even dared to take pictures, not that it would do them any good. Draco and Harry never went out without Narcissa or Andromeda placing a Distortion Charm on them, so any photographs taken would come out blurry as hell.

Harry kept close to Draco, but he wasn’t too overwhelmed. His thighs still throbbed hotly with every heartbeat and it made him feel secure even in the press of people. He felt utterly confident that Draco would handle anything that came up. Instead, he was more focused on the new school robe he wore. The robe material was soft and smooth under Harry’s fingers. It was, of course, the most expensive school robe Malkin made. It sort of swished as he walked, reminding Harry a little of a gown. A smile peeked out at the corners of his mouth. It also had built in pockets so they could store their new wands.

Harry’s attention was drawn upward as they reached the bank. He gaped at the intimidating building, lips parting. It was tall, white, and crooked one way and then another, standing several stories tall. Two burnished bronze doors stood open with a goblin in a uniform of scarlet and gold standing to the side. It wielded a short spear and looked at everyone walking past with the most ferocious glare. Narcissa ignored the creature and Draco followed her example. The three of them stepped into a marbled entrance hall about ten degrees cooler than the outside. Another set of doors, these silver, stood just inside with large words inscribed in cursive on them:

Enter, stranger, but take heed of what awaits the sin of greed. For those who take but do not earn must pay most dearly in their turn. So if you seek beneath our floors a treasure that was never yours, Thief, you have been warned. Beware of finding more than treasure there.

The silver doors made a groaning sound as Narcissa waved her wand at them and they slowly opened inward. Two more goblins stood just inside the second entrance, looking nearly identical to the goblin standing guard outside. As they walked passed, the goblin next to Harry gave a wicked grin full of very sharp teeth. Draco pulled him forward and Harry saw a vast marble hall. Hanging from the ceiling, there was a huge, gold chandelier with crystals hanging from it, sending light to every corner. Long counters stretched along its length along both walls with several different doors leading off to the vault passageways. At each booth, a goblin sat to deal with customers. There must have been a hundred of them. 

Lucius had been sitting at a bench by the doors, waiting for them. He greeted his wife with a shallow inclination of his head. Narcissa mirrored the gesture. She and the boys followed him toward one of the empty counters. “Lucius Malfoy and family. We’d like to escort Harry Potter to his vault,” Lucius drawled.

The goblin was dressed in an old fashion suit and stared up at them as if they were disgusting. “Wands please and Mr. Potter’s vault key.”

The four of them handed over their wands and Lucius produced a small golden key with a capital P in cursive on the end. The goblin examined all of these for several long minutes. Harry glanced at Draco and Lucius, but neither of them seemed bothered by the wait, so he decided nothing must be wrong.

Eventually, the goblin hopped down and asked them to follow. They made their way toward one of the doors at the back that led to the vaults. The chained gate was locked and secured, but the goblin waved his gnarled hand and it opened easily. They all received their wands back, but the goblin kept the key. They were led into a rough stone passage that had a cart and tracks. It was a tight fit in the steel cart, so Harry had to sit on Draco’s lap. 

They shot forward, Harry giving an involuntary cry. Draco’s arms tightened around him to keep him in the cart. It was like riding a broom that you had no control over. They went up and down and zigzagged in crazy directions. Vaults whizzed past. They even shot through a huge cavern with a huge, chained dragon sleeping at the bottom. When their cart came to a violent halt, Harry and Draco were grinning while Narcissa looked a bit green. Lucius lifted his eyebrow at her as he offered his hand. She took it with a haughty tilt to her chin, making Lucius’s lips twitch into a quick smile.

They climbed out and walked toward a huge golden vault door with the number 687 inscribed on it. As the goblin was opening the door, another cart zoomed by with a huge, bearded man who was screaming. Draco chuckled while Harry giggled. The Potter vault swung open and they all looked inside to see piles and stacks of coins like a pirate treasure filling half the room. The coins were taller than the boys in some places, and there were a few chests that contained some photos and documents as well as a couple journals. Lucius stood to the side and spoke softly to Narcissa as the boys explored.

Harry had come to accept that he’d had a family before the Dursleys and that they were good people unlike what he’d been told, but he still didn’t quite feel attached to them. It was just something he couldn’t completely wrap his mind around. After all, he was a freak who deserved nothing. He couldn’t imagine anyone except Draco wanting him. However, he happily helped Draco look through the few chests for things of James and Lily. For Remus’s sake. The man still deeply grieved the loss of his best friends and Harry cared about him, but they didn’t find anything. Most of this was from James’s parents or even older heirlooms. 

“I heard everything of theirs was lost in Godric’s Hollow,” Lucius murmured when Draco mentioned it. 

Draco frowned. Just how much damage had the house taken? Now wasn’t the time to grill Lucius, however. He took Harry’s hand and asked his boy, “Are you ready to go?”

Harry looked up at the blond through his fringe. “Should I give some gold to Lucius and Andromeda for taking care of me?”

“I take care of you,” Draco gently corrected and shook his head. “No. This is ours for after school and we move out on our own.”

Harry accepted that, trusting him to know best. “Yes, Draco.”

They were leaving Gringotts and heading toward the bookstore when a loud booming voice called out to them from the street. “Arry!” 

The man was standing in front of them. He’d been searching for something in his pocket in the massive patchwork leather overcoat he wore when he’d seen them. It was the massive man who had been screaming in the bank cart. He walked back up the steps, stopping four down from them and still he towered over them, standing twice as tall as an average man. He had to have been nearly twelve feet! He was wide, too, nearly three times as wide as a normal-sized person, with a long mane of shaggy black hair. He would have been terrifying but for the fact joy suffused his face, a grin clear even through the thick, bushy beard that covered nearly half his face.

“Havne’t seen ya since you were a little ‘un!” he boomed. 

“You knew Harry when he was a baby?” Draco asked, head back to look the man in the face.

“Took ‘em from Godric’s Hollow, I did! Such a small thing!” the man’s joy transformed into a very real sorrow. Tears began to glitter in his beetle black eyes. “I didn’ know what they’d do to ya there. Makes me right sick just thinkin’ bout it. Pr’fessor McGonagall said they were the worst Muggles, but with You-Know-Who’s followers still runnin’ about, thought it was the safest place for ya.”

As - unease confusion - jumped through the bond, Draco stared in wonder at the strange being before him. The hairy man seemed to be completely unable to not speak his true feelings and he was clearly in the know about sensitive topics. Draco was instantly intrigued. He’d never heard a first hand account of that night before.

“Rubeus Hagrid,” Lucius said with a sneer, introducing the man since he clearly was unable to remember to do so himself. “Keeper of the Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts.”

Hagrid’s eyes narrowed as he stared down at Lucius. “You best be takin’ care o’ our ‘Arry, ‘ere, Malfoy. There’s a mighty lot of people who care ‘bout him.”

“Thank you, Hagrid,” Draco interrupted, seeing the tightening of Lucius’s lips and knowing what that meant. “They’re taking very good care of us.”

Hagrid turned his attention to Draco, his face softening. “I reckon they are with you lookin’ out for ‘em. Pr’fessor Dumbledore told me ‘imself you’d never let anythin’ hurt ‘Arry.”

“We’d love to stay and chat, but we still have quite the amount of shopping to do,” Narcissa cut in cooly.

“I’d like to treat ‘Arry to lunch, if I could?” Hagrid suddenly asked. “Seein’ it’s his birthday an’ all. I’d a made ‘em a cake if I knew I’d be runnin’ into ‘em ‘ere.”

“Lunch sounds like a great idea,” Draco answered with a big smile. He gave Lucius and Narcissa a pointed look. “Why don’t we take a little break? You could get some things done and pick us up at the Leaky Cauldron in an hour.”

Hagrid looked like he’d won a very special prize. 

At first Narcissa protested, making excuses, while Lucius gave Draco a cold, disapproving stare. Draco shot down every excuse and met Lucius with indifference. A few minutes later, Draco and Harry were walking beside Hagrid back to the Leaky Cauldron. 

Harry shot Draco a look. He knew that expression. Draco had a purpose. He wanted something from Hagrid. Anticipation determination - strummed through his veins. Being useful to Draco, helping him, gave him the biggest rush. It reassured him that he could be good; he was more than a freak who cursed everyone around him. So Harry smiled up at Hagrid and chatted with him cheerfully all the way to the pub his goal burning in his mind. He needed Hagrid to be at ease so that Draco could get what he wanted from him. 

As they settled in at a table, Hagrid sat in a huge chair as thick and wide as a tree trunk. Draco gave the massive man a smile, casually stating, “It’s lucky we ran into you today.”

“Had an errand to run for the Pr’fessor, I did,” Hagrid said in a whisper that was as loud as a normal speaking voice. His dustbin-sized hands patted his breast pocket. “Had to pick up an important item.”

Curious as he was about that, Draco was more interested in the night Voldemort attacked Harry. “Headmaster Dumbledore must trust you a lot. And the Ministry, if they sent you to get Harry.”

Hagrid guffawed, a short booming laugh. “The Ministry don’t approve of people like me. It was Pr’fessor Dumbledore who sent me. Knew before the Ministry did that somethin’ had happened. Felt the Fidelius Charm fall as he’s the one who spelled it there.”

Harry, now knowing Draco wanted details of that night, made his eyes big and his voice soft. “What was it like? What did you see, Hagrid?”

Hagrid gave Harry a worried look. “I shouldn’a mentioned it.” He cleared his throat gruffly and tried to change the subject. “Ya look so much like yer father, ‘Arry. Woulda recognized ya anywhere. Got yer mum’s eyes, though. She was a right beautiful witch.” He gave a loud sniff, tears in his eyes. “I tended the grounds when they were in school. Full of life, they was. By the end, they were so in love.”

Harry had heard similar tales from Remus. He was the one who had found them in America and brought them back two years ago. The Malfoys may have forbidden contact between them, but Andromeda hadn’t felt the same way. Remus had visited as often as he could the months they lived in London. He couldn’t replace Liam, their adopted brother in New York, but he had come close.

“Thank you, Hagrid. I know. You may remember Remus Lupin. He’s a good friend and he told me a bit about them,” Harry said, pushing his glasses up his nose. A shiver went down his back as Draco caressed his thigh under the table. “I know it’s hard, but I’d like you to tell us what happened that night. Others have told me what they know, but none of them were there like you were.” Green eyes intense, he added, “Please?”

Hagrid looked from one small boy to the other, but he kept coming back to Harry’s unwavering stare. “It wasn’t a good night, ‘Arry.”

“I know.” Harry felt his heart pound in his chest. “But I need to know what it was really like. I deserve to know.” 

“I suppose ya have the right,” Hagrid acknowledged reluctantly. Taking a deep breath, he blew it out, ruffling the hair on both of the boys’ heads. “I was in me cabin when I got the summons from Pr’fessor Dumbledore. He told me to fetch ya, Harry. To keep ya safe and bring ya to ‘em. I can’t ride a broom on account of my size, but I had a motorbike I was fixin' up for a friend. It was dark as pitch and I figured I’d not be seen, so I flew it to Godric’s Hollow. 

“Ya see, I could find the house easy, as the charm was broken. I remember it bein’ so quiet. There were no lights on in any of the houses. Not even street lights. There was that horrible mark, just floatin’ in the sky. Green and sickly, the skull and snake. The Dark Mark. You-Know-Who would put it up above his targets, like a signature. It was fadin’ even as I watched, blowin’ away. The house was dark and kind’o fallen in toward the center. I was mighty scared you was hurt, ‘Arry, but I was afraid to go in and make the house fall down because of my size, but outta the dark doorway came a man holdin’ ya. You were such a tiny thing!” He sniffed again.

“Who was the man?” Draco asked lowly, riveted on Hagrid’s story.

“Sirius Black,” Hagrid admitted, anger rumbling in his voice. “I didn’t know what he’d done at the time. He looked crazy upset. He was cryin’ and screamin’. I was worried about ya, ‘Arry, so I told ‘em to hand ya over. That Pr’fessor Dumbledore was gonna keep ya safe now. He didn’t wanna let ya go, but he was goin’ on about getting revenge. I told ‘em ya needed takin’ care of. There was blood. On yer head there.” He gestured with his huge hand toward Harry’s whole head, which wasn’t helpful, but both boys knew Hagrid meant the lightning bolt scar that sat slightly to the left on his forehead. “It was bleedin’ and ya wouldn’t wake up, so he gave ya to me. Told me to take care o’ ya. Fit in one hand, ya did. Then he told me to keep the bike and he just dissapeared. Apparated somewhere. The next day he went after poor Peter. Killed ‘em and all them Muggles.” As if remembering he was talking to Harry and Draco, Hagrid’s eyes went wide and he rushed to assure them, “He’s in Azkaban now. He got what’s his. You don’t have’ta worry about that!”

“Who was he? Why was he there?” Draco asked, surprised by the emotion in the massive man’s voice.

Hagrid gave a tired sigh. “He was best friends with ‘Arry’s dad. Like brothers, they were. Him and Remus and Petter. Thick as thieves. Black was the Secret Keeper,” he confessed and looked sadly down at Harry. “Told You-Know-Who where to find ya. Betrayed your dad and mum.”

Black must have been a terrible person. Harry couldn’t imagine betraying Draco - protective devotion. He leaned against Draco’s side and said firmly, “I’m glad he’s in Azkaban then.” 

Draco grabbed Harry’s hand, pulling it into his lap, and squeezed it. “Where did you go after you had Harry?” he prompted, pushing the story along. 

“Flew to Surrey. Carried ‘Arry in my arm the whole way. The bleedin’ stopped and I cleaned ‘em up as best I could.” Hagrid reached out to pat the top of Harry’s head. 

Harry tensed, expecting to nearly crumple under that giant hand, but Hagrid was surprisingly gentle. 

“I’m sorry, ‘Arry. More sorry than ya will ever know that I left ya there.” Hagrid returned his hand to the table and straightened his back as if to brace himself for some horrible truth. “Pr’fessor Dumbledore was waitin’. He turned all the lights off, made it nice and dark. No one saw as I pulled up. Pr’fessor McGonagall was there, too. She told us she didn’t like the looks of those Muggles. Like I said, Pr’fessor Dumbledore figured it’d be the only safe place fer ya. Said there was special wards there on account of the woman being yer mum’s sister. Even still, it was mighty hard to let ya go. Pr’fessor Dumbledore placed ya in a protected basket and left ya on the stoop with a letter. We waited to be sure the woman would take ya in and she did, so…” Fat tears wet Hagrid’s cheeks. “We left ya.”

Hagrid’s sincere distress compelled Harry to reach out and pat the man’s massive hand. “It’s okay, Hagrid. I’m not upset.”

Hagrid nodded and dug in his pocket, sniffing. 

“Thank you for telling us the story,” Harry continued, trying to soothe the man.

Hagrid pulled out a handkerchief as big as a towel and a round package tumbled onto the table wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string. Draco reached out to hand it back to the man, but as soon as his hand closed around it he felt a hot pulse of magic throb up his arm. It was like a soft kick to the stomach. Hagrid was too busy blowing his nose like a trumpet to notice the way Draco’s whole body froze. 

Harry darted a glance at Draco’s face, looking for that terrible blankness that preceded one of Draco’s horrific flashbacks, but instead the blond’s eyes had gone silver the way they did when he was utterly focused on one thing to the exclusion of all else. Harry stood and walked around Hagrid to stand at his other side, making the man turn his head to look at him, away from Draco and the way he was clutching the package on the table. 

“Do you need another drink, Hagrid? Or something to eat?” he asked politely. “I feel bad asking you to talk about it. I didn’t mean to make you upset.”

“Don’t ya worry about me, ‘Arry. I’m okay,” Hagrid protested and blew his nose a final time.

Draco was barely aware of Harry and Hagrid’s conversation. The round package was warming under his hand. It called to him. It was like his wand, but different from it. It felt more powerful, but also like it would only do one thing. For some reason it made Draco think of a gun even though instinctively he knew its purpose wasn’t to cause harm. 

He was tempted to unwrap it, but he was smart enough to realize unwrapping something that powerful in the middle of the pub would be extremely stupid. His mind raced, but he already knew he wouldn’t be able to keep it. Stealing it would only get him in unnecessary trouble. It’s not like Hagrid wouldn’t know who took it, so Draco forced himself to hand it over.

“You dropped this, Hagrid,” he said, voice rougher than he expected.

Hagrid’s eyes went wide and he quickly stuffed the package back into his pocket. “Sorry ‘bout that. Ya shouldn'a seen that.”

Draco nodded in perfect agreement as Harry came back around to retake his seat. “It was very magical,” he admitted, wrapping an arm around Harry and pulling the smaller boy against his side. He met Hagrid’s gaze, eyes narrowed thoughtfully. “Wonder what it is.”

Hagrid leaned forward, whispering. “Pr’fessor sent me to pick it up from Gringrotts. Only thing in the vault, it was. I reckon it’s mighty important, so it’s best the likes of you and me stay outta it.” He straightened again. “Right! Let’s eat!” 

Just then Tom, the barkeep, brought over their shepherd’s pies. They talked of simple things, mostly Hogwarts related. Harry even tried to explain baseball to the man, but it was a lost cause. Before they knew it, the hour was up and Narcissa and Lucius appeared.

“Don’t concern yourself with the tab,” Narcissa politely informed Hagrid. “It’s been settled. I hope you have a pleasant rest of your day.”

Hagrid turned and scooped Harry up into a hug. Harry’s feet dangled off the ground nearly three feet. Draco tensed, but he slowly relaxed as he sensed no fear or pain from Harry. “Good luck to ya, ‘Arry. I’ll be seeing you again at Hogwarts.”

“Bye, Hagrid,” Harry said with a smile once his feet were on the ground. “Thank you for lunch. I look forward to seeing you again.”

Hagrid gave another big grin before making his way out of the pub. 

Draco took Harry’s hand possessively. 

“Now that your… curiosity,” Lucius drawled with cool disdain, “is assuaged, may we continue to purchase your school supplies? The day grows late.”

Draco gave his father a sweet smile. “Absolutely, Lucius. Let’s go.”

Lucius cut his son a cold glare before turning on his heel and leading the way back out onto the alley, his robes flaring about his feet. His cane made a sharp taping sound with every step, emphasizing his displeasure. 

Narcissa took up the rear this time. When she caught Harry’s worried look, she gave the boy a discrete wink and smiled when it made the tension in Harry’s shoulders melt away. She had come to terms long ago with what it meant to have Harry Potter as her adopted son. The boys would make associates out of a wide range of people and would naturally deviate from the more expected Malfoy allies. 

Lucius had yet to fully resign himself to that fate. She understood his discontent, but it was far better to face reality and adapt as quickly as possible than to resist and possibly lose Draco’s confidence. Likely the Keeper of the Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts was just the beginning, and, as unacceptable as the half-giant was as a person, there was a strategic advantage to becoming his associate that Narcissa could recognize. The least of which was the man’s loose lips and close relationship to Albus Dumbledore. 

Draco shot his mother an amused look as they entered the bookstore and Lucius stiffly informed them he would meet them at the counter before striding off. Narcissa’s lips twitched and she guided them easily to the shelves dedicated to Hogwarts’ school books. There were several other kids and parents, but Narcissa easily maneuvered them to the front. 

The list was pretty extensive: Magical Drafts and Potions, Standard Book of Spells Grade 1, Dark Forces: A Guide to Self Protection, One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi, A History of Magic, A Beginner’s Guide to Transfiguration, Magical Theory Grade 1, and finally Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. That was eight books in all and they weren’t exactly easy reading.

“Do we really need two of each?” Harry asked, nervously pushing his glasses higher up his nose.

Draco considered that. “In class, we’ll likely need to use our own textbooks, but we could share the supplemental texts.”

Harry smiled happily at that.

“It’s not as if we don’t have the money,” Narcissa scolded lightly, putting back one copy of both Fantastic Beasts and Magical Theory. “I also suggest reading Hogwarts: A History.” She grabbed one and placed it in their basket. Moving away from the crowded school section, she led them toward a less busy aisle. “Why don’t you browse the shelves for some pleasure reading,” she suggested. “I’ll grab Lucius and meet you in a few minutes at the counter.”

Draco nodded and took Harry’s hand. He led him deeper into the store. “You did great with Hagrid, Harry,” he said warmly. Finding a shadowed corner, he pushed Harry against the wall. 

Green eyes looked up at him with unconditional trust, - pride happy - sizzling through the bond. Draco felt a type of hunger begin to burn through his core. “Such a good boy,” he practically growled. 

Harry was panting now - anticipation desire love - burning deep in his gut. He watched with wide eyes as Draco slowly, deliberately leaned forward, silver eyes burning into his own. Harry gasped as their lips touched. 

With torturous gentleness, Draco slowly licked at Harry’s lips before sliding his tongue softly inside. Then, leaning his full weight against the smaller boy, he grabbed a fistful of Harry’s hair and kissed him hard, sucking roughly on Harry’s tongue before lashing the roof of Harry’s mouth with hard, fast strokes. Harry moaned, deep in his chest, and clung to Draco’s shoulders.  

Mouths breaking apart, dizzy from lack of air, they leaned against each other, panting. Harry’s glasses had fogged and both of their lips were red and swollen, a thin, glistening strand still connecting them. Draco pulled back, breaking the connection. He randomly grabbed a few books off the shelves and made his way toward the counter, a cocky strut in his step. 

Harry, blushing, followed after the blond, wiping his glasses clear on his robes before sliding them back on his face. His whole body tingled, the bites on his legs and in between throbbing with heat. 

Narcissa lifted an eyebrow at the books Draco had grabbed: Moste Potente Potions by Phineas Bourne and Fifteenth-Century Fiends by Belvedere Babcock. She didn’t say anything, however, and neither did the clerk, who was too busy staring at Harry to really notice anyway.

They made their way to the apothecary next. Lucius remained as cold and indifferent as ever. They quickly bought the necessary ingredients for First-year students as well as two top-of-the-line potion cases. Herbology gloves, earmuffs, and other tools were also purchased there. They were just leaving, the little bell above the door chiming, when they ran into Hagrid once more. The half-giant was grinning ear to ear. In his hand, he carried a massive birdcage. Within it, a large white owl with a sprinkling of black dots stared back at them with huge golden eyes.

“Happy birthday, ‘Arry,” the man boomed, ignoring the Malfoys completely.

Harry stared at the caged owl, too surprised to feel much of anything.

Draco gave Hagrid a surprisingly warm smile. “Thank you. Your gift is beautiful.” He accepted the cage, having to hold his arm completely extended. The owl was surprisingly heavy and his eyes widened a second before Narcissa cast a feather-light charm on the cage. 

“Thank you,” Harry whispered - deeply grateful. He lifted a finger and ran it over one of the slender bars. 

“She seemed mighty eager to be out’ta that store and I figured I had a few birthdays to make up fer,” Hagrid said cheerfully and gave the boys a wink. “Specially as seeing I didn’t even get’ter pay for lunch. Well, I best be off. I’m sure the Pr’fessor is anxious fer me to get back.” He reached out and gently ruffled Harry’s already messy hair before striding away.

Narcissa and Lucius said nothing about their new pet. Narcissa simply took Harry’s arm, Lucius took hold of Draco’s, and they Apparated home. 

“Draco, a word,” Lucius said, eyes chilly. He turned on his heel and climbed the main stairs without looking back.

Draco gave a sigh. “Unpack our new things,” he told Harry.

“Yes, Draco,” Harry answered obediently. He eagerly accepted the birdcage, the owl disgruntled and fluffed up from Apparating. 

Draco brushed the boy’s cheek with his fingertips before turning and following his father to his study. He already knew what the conversation would be about. The study door was open and Draco saw that Lucius was pacing, which was new. Usually the man stood at the office window stiff as a board with his hands clasped at the small of his back. Draco stepped inside, gently shutting the door behind him. It shut out the light from the hall and cast the room in shadows. He leaned against the door, expression bored.

Lucius sighed out a loud breath before turning and facing his young son. Draco had grown in the two years he’d been in Lucius’s custody, but he was still so small, so young. Draco thought he knew so much and could handle any problem thrown his way, but he’d been sheltered whether he knew it or not. By his age, by his traumatic past, by the Malfoy name, by his bond to Harry Potter, he hadn’t truly faced an adult situation or the consequences of one since he’d entered the Wizarding world. But they were coming, consequences and situations both, and soon it’d be too late to turn back. Soon Draco would be in Hogwarts and farther away from Lucius’s sheltering mantle. A knot of frustration and panic choked him, Lucius’s hands fisting at his sides. What could he say to convince his son to turn back? To give up this foolish belief that he could triumph against the Dark Lord? 

Draco sighed, a softer sound than his father’s, and pushed away from the door. He strode forward, grabbed Lucius’s fisted hand, and walked him to one of the armchairs in front of the desk. Lucius didn’t resist, maybe curious about Draco’s intentions. Draco very rarely touched people, except for Harry. The skin to skin contact made Lucius go quiet and take notice. With Lucius sitting and Draco standing in front of him, they were very nearly eye-to-eye. Due to the Malfoy curse, Draco was a younger copy of his father, nearly identical. Grey stared into grey; the moment lingered as each weighed the other. 

“You’re pretty self-interested. I can trust in that,” Draco said softly. “I’m your only chance at a legacy. Your greatest fear is the Malfoy line dying with me, because of you.”

Lucius felt cold, howling rage griping his insides with frozen claws. 

“Focus!” Draco hissed, eyes narrowing dangerously. “Listen.” He waited for Lucius’s breathing to even out before continuing. “You’re so caught up in this vision of the future, you can’t see what’s right in front of your face.”

“What’s that?” Lucius breathed without inflection, a thin layer of black ice encased over a dangerous emotional storm. 

“I don’t give a fuck about your legacy. Never have,” Draco stated with brutal honesty, but before Lucius could react, he added, “That doesn’t mean you won’t have one. I don’t need to care for it to exist, do I? As long as I’m alive, as long as there is the potential of me having the next male Malfoy, your legacy exists no matter what I think or feel.”

Lucius grinned humorlessly. He knew that very well, actually. It was a reality he faced every day.

“So let’s help each other,” Draco gave a bloodthirsty grin of his own. “I will vow to take into consideration the Malfoy legacy from this point on with the intent of furthering it. In exchange, you will cease this constant fight against reality. I am bound to Harry Potter and he is bound to me. I will take on the Dark Lord be it through Harry or beside him, and I plan on winning that fight.” Grey eyes beginning to burn silver, Draco reached forward to grip his father’s jaw. “In exchange for my vow to care about your ridiculous legacy, you will vow to get on board with my plan to defeat Voldemort. Truly and whole-heartedly get on board, without reservation and without this obsession of breaking my bond with Harry. You’ve had two years, Lucius. Give. It. Up.”

Lucius reached up and took Draco’s small hand in his own, pulling it away from his face. “I don’t doubt your resolve, Draco. A Malfoy’s will is a diamond-headed spear. It is what has driven the Malfoy family forward and kept our line alive even under this impossible curse.” His eyes went silver-edged, mirroring his son’s. “It is not your will that I question, it is your assessment of your capabilities. It is not possible for you to defeat one such as the Dark Lord. His power… It is unlike anything you have ever seen. How can you expect me to believe you can defeat him when he will most likely return by possessing Harry’s body? Even their wands are the same, Draco!”

“I will do whatever it takes to save Harry,” Draco answered simply, tone casual. “If that means toppling governments or creating my own army. If that means mastering every Dark Art there is or possessing Harry myself. I will use every thing, every skill, every one at my disposal to do it, but I will save him.” He slid his hand from Lucius’s grasp. “That includes you.” Draco gave a cocky, closed-mouth smile. “So. Are you ready? To join me? To throw all this energy you waste trying to ‘save’ me from Harry into actually destroying Voldemort? Because I could use your expertise in Dark Magic.”

Lucius felt time slow to a crawl. His heart pumped like the pistons of a runaway train. Adrenaline saturated his system. 

Draco wasn’t wrong. 

The first year he’d had his son back, he had been obsessed with revenge. Railing at the world, he’d hunted down the one responsible for his son’s disappearance, blaming them utterly for what had been wrought on his son’s mind and body, blaming them for the destruction of the Malfoy line. He’d shifted his focus to ways to break the bond between Draco and Harry. He’d scrambled for arguments that would convince Draco to break it. He’d researched rituals that could accomplish such a thing without utterly destroying Draco’s mind or magic in the process. He’d failed at both.

By the second year of Draco’s return, Lucius had begun to truly panic. As the evidence of Harry’s connection to the Dark Lord became more and more apparent, he’d become utterly certain the Dark Lord would return, spelling Harry’s - and through him Draco’s - certain doom. Every plan Lucius could conceive of eventually developed too many flaws or depended on too many happenstances to be relied on. It always kept boiling down to trying to convince Draco to willingly dissolve the bond, which was a fool’s quest. Draco would not relent.

So. 

Lucius stared into his son’s eyes and saw his fate. He could give in. He could make an Unbreakable Vow with his son in exchange for one from Draco. Or he could continue to work to preserve Draco’s life at odds with his son. Lucius knew if he chose the latter, he’d eventually lose Narcissa as well. His wife had long ago cast her fate with their son’s. However, if he chose to work with Draco’s insane plan and lost… Well, everything would be lost, but the same could be said of the latter choice as well.

If he chose to continue to work against Draco’s ultimate goal of Harry’s salvation, and Draco lost as Lucius feared he would, what would he really be able to preserve? How much of Draco could possibly be saved if the Dark Lord gained ascendancy and dominated the Wizarding world? The very best Lucius could hope for would be to convince the Dark Lord to keep Harry Potter alive and imprisoned, a type of slave to the Dark Lord’s whim, just to keep Draco alive. To be honest, Lucius didn’t even believe that was possible. Draco wouldn’t allow it. His son would kill Harry himself and die with him before allowing that. So really what did Lucius have to win by choosing the second option? The truth of the matter was that there was more to be won by choosing to join his wife and son. His only real choice, as impossible as it seemed was…

“Very well,” he rasped, heart thundering in his chest. “Yes. I surrender. I will make the Vow.”

Eyes half-lidded, Draco gave a slow smile. “That’s good,” he said sweetly and offered his hand. “Dobby!”

There was a compact pop as the elf appeared next to Draco. Dobby stared up at Draco with clear devotion. “Yes, Master Draco sir?”

“I’d like you to bring Narcissa here. Immediately,” Draco told him.

Dobby disappeared and not five seconds passed before Narcissa appeared with a grimace as she was travelled into the room by elven magic. 

She staggered, catching herself on the back the arm chair across from the one Lucius sat in. ‘Draco needs you. Will you come?’ the elf had asked in a rush. She’d barely gotten out her answer of ‘yes’ before the world had turned inside out. She caught her balance quickly, however, as she noticed the way her son and Lucius had clasped forearms and seemed to be having some silent contest of wills, staring each other down.

“Narcissa,” Lucius said gravely, never once looking away from Draco. “Please be our binder.”

Chapter end.

Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, all! I had a few people ask about updating schedules. I have a feeling that the start of this story will be a bit irregular as I get a feel for it and work out plot, BUT the goal is to update every Sunday afternoon or evening. Chapters might come a day or so late for now, however that is the schedule I’ll eventually adhere to. Thank you so much for all the comments! They are definitely fueling this story.

Secrets

Lucius made his way purposefully toward the dungeons below the manor. Narcissa was asleep in their bed, a subtle spell he’d cast ensuring she’d stay that way. The boys had left to Andromeda’s a week ago at the start of August, so the manor was silent and still, feeling empty. A cold smile turned up the corners of his lips as his booted feet stepped with a muffled click onto the rough, stone floor of the dungeon. It was dark, his Lumos flinging dark shadows along the walls as it illuminated his immediate area. It was cold and damp, his every step creating strange echoes. 

The cell he wanted was at the far end. A thick iron door with no windows or flaps cut into its surface sealed the cell into an inescapable prison. Runes were carved into the smooth, cold surface, making it unbreakable and masking the presence within. Wards spelled into the doorframe and across its surface made the hairs on Lucius’s arms stand on end, the magic deadly to any who attempted to break in and steal away Lucius’s prisoner. 

It took several minutes to pass through his protections, but eventually the heavy door swung inward and his Lumos rushed into the dark hole. A woman was crouched in the corner. Tears streaked her face even as she held up an arm to protect eyes that had been blinded by darkness for days. Matted, curly black hair fell past her hips. Her naked body was marble white and unblemished except for the faint shadow of the Dark Mark on her inner left forearm. She was tall for a woman, a few inches shy of six feet, but you’d never know it the way she was curled into a ball, back pressed hard into the corner of her cell. 

Dark eyes, heavy-lidded and lined with long, thick lashes blinked rapidly, her skeletal-thin arm slowly lowering. Lucius stood towering above her, watching with cold apathy as she adjusted to his presence. She bared her teeth in a death-head grin. Using the wall for support, she stood, her long hair covering most of her breasts from his view, but hid nothing else. 

“Bellatrix.” Lucius said her name with cold hatred in his voice. 

It was she who had stolen Draco as a baby and hidden him overseas under the Fidelius Charm. It was because of her that Draco was kidnapped by a pedophile and then sold as a sex-slave. It was because of her that the Malfoy name was in danger of dying out after nearly four hundred and fifty years of surviving a powerful Lineage Curse.

“I want my sister!” she rasped painfully, eyes glittering madly. “I want Narcissa!”

Lucius chuckled. “Eight months in my dungeon, Bella, and you still think to make demands.” He stepped forward and viciously grabbed her face. She flinched back, both hands coming up to claw at his sleeve. His robes were spelled impervious, so he hardly felt it. “I promised you that your suffering would never end, sweet Bella, and I keep my word.” 

He flung her away from him and her head hit the hard stone wall with a crack. Dazed she sank to the floor, leaving blood in her wake as the rough wall tore her delicate skin. Bellatrix hissed, face contorted with an animalistic rage, as she clumsily tried to pull herself back to her feet. She made it to her knees and swayed, one long-fingered hand splayed against the wall for balance. 

Lucius grabbed her by her matted hair. His fingers encountered warm wetness and he grinned cruelly down at her. “You heal so nicely, Bella. Not a mark on you after our last bout of fun.” His eyes glittered a cold silver. “Not like my son, whose scars will never completely fade even with the most potent healing cream.”

“And what scars would you have left had he been left with you!” she snarled up at him, panting with mad fury. Suddenly she was laughing, wild peals that filled the cell. “A little boy who lusts after other boys! Can’t have that! It would taint the Malfoy name!”

Vision going red, Lucius hauled her up and put his hands around her throat. She made not a sound, not even able to choke he squeezed so viciously. His heart thundered in his chest, filling his ears with a repetitive booming. 

She wasn’t wrong. He would have made sure Draco understood how abhorrent it was to even think of another boy in such a manor. He would have trained him perfectly to uphold his position as a Pureblood with pride and honor. Draco would have been glorious, a woman worthy of him on his arm who would produce a son made in the Malfoy image. It enraged him that Bellatrix thought what Draco had suffered was in any way better. His son had survived, he’d grown hard and powerful, but he was corrupted and flawed. To imply that the monstrous acts committed on his body were preferable… 

Luicus snarled and released the woman. She collapsed unconscious, her face swollen and nearly purple, her bulging eyes vacant. With practiced ease, Lucius cast three healing spells in quick succession. It did nothing for the deep bruising that bloomed along her throat in the shape of his fingers, but it reduced the swelling and helped oxygen saturate her blood. She coughed and sputtered, slowly regaining consciousness.

“Get up,” he growled dangerously.

She was almost on her feet when he lashed out, kicking her in the stomach hard enough to fling her against the wall and bounce off, landing sprawled at his feet.

“Get up!” he bellowed, grabbing her by her hair and hauling her up. 

She coughed and sputtered, arms crossed protectively over her middle. He let her go and watched impassively as she staggered and leaned against the wall. Black eyes glittered malevolently back at him.

“You’re going to make yourself useful for once, sweet Bella,” he told her with dangerous sweetness, “and help me keep the Vow I made to my son.” He reached for her with the hand that bore very faint lines just barely visible. 

Bellatrix was screaming before he even touched her.

… 

It had taken Lucius a week to prepare the ritual site. Lughnasadh was the first of the three harvest festivals and technically was celebrated August 1st or at least on the Sunday closest. Still, the power of the season was strong and it suited him just fine to have other pagan celebrators not in attendance. He didn’t expect company, but he’d still spent hours every night for a week laying down runes and wards to repel wizards and Muggles alike. 

The moon was an hour from rising. The sky was clear, each star seeming to pierce through the black veil with almost brutal force. Lucius had created his ritual circle with pebble-sized clear quartz on top of the tallest hill in Wiltshire, referred to as Long Knoll. Dried grass had been burnt along the inner and outer edge of the ring, leaving runes dawn in ash. 

Lucius walked up the hill with deliberate focus from the northern side, walking in a straight line south as best he could. Long Knoll stood two hundred and eighty-eight meters above sea level at its highest point. His circle was on a small flat shelf of green grass just near that tip, and as he crested the hill his prepared ritual site came into view.

His sister-in-law was kneeling naked, her shins pressed firmly into the ground as her butt rested on her heels. Each wrist was bound by strips of thick leather and magically welded to the ground on either side of her hips. She was placed just inside the circle at the southern point, the direction of Summer and Fire. Her hair had been tied back by another strip of leather at the base of her neck and left to hang long and tangled, pooling on the ground behind her. She was no longer cackling madly or screaming in terror and rage. She was staring up at the stars with an almost childlike wonder.

A man of about thirty years was bound in the center, arms and legs, unable to move more than his head. He had on rough linen pants, his bare chest etched with scars and muscles. His dark eyes were riveted on Lucius, hatred and fear a potent mix within them. Lucius wore identical pants and was also bare-foot and bare-chested. His long, white-blond hair had been pulled up into a bun high on his head bound with a strip of freshly tanned leather. 

“Who the fuck are you?” the man spat with a distinctly American accent. 

Lucius ignored him. Lughnasadh was a harvest festival, but it was also a summer one. Any spell could be worked at any point in the year if you were creative enough. All things in the universe were connected. However, there were distinct advantages to working certain types of spells in the correct season and an even further boost if you worked it on a day of Power, such as the quarter days - the Solstices and Equinoxes - and the cross-quarter days - the four festivals that sat between them: Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain. 

As a family called to the Dark, they celebrated the Darker half of the Wheel with more zeal, which so happened to begin with Mabon - the Autumn Equinox - then Samhian, Yule - the Winter Solstice - and ended with Imbolc. Lughnasadh, however, as both a harvest festival and sitting at the Summer and Autumn’s cross-quarter just so happened to be exactly what he needed. 

Summer: Fire Season; it was symbolized by Sword or Flame or Wand. Its seat of power was in the South. Passion, courage, lust, creativity, fertility, virility, desire, romance, force, and enthusiasm were enhanced by the season. Spells and rituals Fire-based would be increased ten fold during summer and revolved around banishings, new beginnings, destroying the old to make way for the new, and obtaining desires. All of which, Lucius so happened to be in need of. 

He stepped counterclockwise around his circle as he wished to enact an ending not a beginning and lit the torches placed at eight points around the outside of the circle. The man continued to spit threats and profanity as Lucius moved. Bellatrix continued to gaze at the stars. Once all eight were lit, the torches spread light until the circle and everything within it was clearly illuminated, but they weren’t as large as a bonfire that would draw the notice of outsiders. Lucius trusted the wards he’d placed to keep things private, but there was no sense in asking for trouble. 

The quartz crystals that formed the circle glittered with white light. Directly in front of Bellatrix a piece of amber bigger than a water melon sat taller than it was wide and was vaguely shaped like the silhouette of a man. The firelight seemed to glow in the amber’s depths and the American grew quiet. Even a Muggle could sense the power gathering on the hilltop and in the stars. Lughnasadh celebrations usually began in the day under the sun, however performing the ritual at night would heighten the harvest aspect of the festival while still allowing Lucius to draw on the aspects of Summer. 

He knelt before the amber and lifted his hands in supplication. “I call the circle to life in honor of the Great Mother Tailtiu who worked the soil so that it would be fertile until She died of exhaustion. I call upon Lugh, her blessed son, who fought a vicious battle with Crom Dubh, a being of blight and pestilence. I call upon Lugh who triumphed and bestowed upon the people the first harvest of grain thus ensuring the people received the Great Mother’s gift.”

He met Bellatrix’s eyes, her attention now focused solely on him. They were revealed to be a dark, ocean blue in the torchlight. He gave her a dangerous smile and stood. She moved not a muscle as he approached her, pulling a dagger from his pants. Quick as a snake, he grabbed her by her hair and cut her ponytail just above the leather tie. She sucked in a quick breath as her now short hair fell into her eyes and over her cheeks, just barely falling past her jaw. 

Lucius had already turned away. Kneeling once more before the statue, he dug a shallow hole and coiled the nearly three-feet of dark black curls inside. “I make this offering to the Great Lugh, be he satisfied.” 

As he buried the hair, covering it with the displaced earth, a faint hum seemed to rise from the hill itself. Lucius grinned sharply, white teeth flashing in the light. His offering had been accepted.

He stood once more and faced the man tied on the ground. “I make this offering to the Great Lugh, be he honored.”

The man yelled, terrified, as Lucius approached with the dagger in hand, but Lucius merely cut through the leather straps, freeing him. He set the knife on the ground before the Muggle. The man scrambled to his feet, eyes wild and panting. 

Lucius regarded him calmly. “You cost me quite a lot of money, you know. I sent my informant out to find you nearly two years ago. They’ve been keeping tabs on you since. Then I had to pay to have you brought here as quickly as possible,” he said almost conversationally.

“I think you have the wrong guy,” the man said lowly, beginning to eye the knife.

“Do I?” Lucius asked gently and began to stalk him, making the man walk in a counterclockwise direction to avoid him. “Are you not one of the people who worked the place referred to as the Hold? I was told it was your job to make pick ups when a luckless child had been found and bodyguard duty when buyers came on board.”

Sweat gleamed on the man’s face and chest. His eyes darted frantically around the circle. He’d already discovered there was some type of invisible force keeping him inside. “I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.”

Lucius voice hardened. “Your denials bore me.” He strode forward, making the man cower back against the invisible wall. “We both know who you are.” He bent and snatched up the dagger and very deliberately placed it in the man’s hand. “There are only two ways you’re getting out of this circle. By killing me or dying. Are you ready?”

The man lunged.

Lucius, heart thundering in his chest, knocked the man’s arm aside and shoved him from behind as he stumbled past. The thug slammed against the invisible wall and bounced off, grunting, his nose broken and bleeding. Spinning around on his knees, he bared his teeth like an animal, eyes locked on Lucius.

“You were there on that filthy boat. You even interacted with a blond child who was kept in the dark depths, a type of pet to your boss.”

The man jumped to his feet, slashing the dagger out at throat level, but Lucius leaned back and kicked him in the gut. The thug slammed once more against the barrier, this time the back of his head impacting with painful force. Groaning, the man collapsed half-unconscious on the ground. 

“Brought him food on occasion, made sure he was doing his job keeping the other kids in line.” Lucius stomped brutally on the man’s hand, making him scream and release the dagger. “You may not remember his name. It was Draco.” He grabbed the worm by the hair and pulled his head back. “Draco Malfoy, actually. My son.” And he slid the blade with graceful force across the front of the man’s throat.

Choking and sputtering, the violent gush of blood slowed as the thug bled out. It was an easy death, too easy for filth like him.

Lucius tipped his head back and roared his fury to the heavens. The hum within the circle became a physical force that pressed against his skin and resonated in his core. He glanced down at the thug he’d killed and cast a wandless severing charm to remove the man’s head completely. 

Gripping the man’s hair once more, Lucius lifted his trophy. Blood dripped from the neck and hit the ground with a sound like rain. Lucius placed it before the amber statue and knelt. Bellatrix sat across from him on the other side of the stone, eyes bright and cheeks flushed with lust. Her wild dark curls framed her face beautifully. Lucius felt heat pool in his groin as he stared into her eyes. 

The amber was glowing with its own light now, brighter than the torches. Lucius, filled with power from the ritual, easily summoned Bellatrix’s left cuff from the ground, pulling her arm with it. She was yanked slightly forward and off balance, her right hand still held on the ground at her side. He held her wrist in place with his left hand and picked up the danger in his right. 

He’d been researching how to break magical bonds for years, hoping to convince Draco to sever his tie to Harry. As soon as he’d made the Unbreakable Vow, he’d known exactly what he’d have to do, and he’d known exactly what ritual to use. He used her Mark as the focus, basically teaching the spell what to target. Bellatrix screamed as he cut into her flesh, outlining the Dark Mark. Blood quickly coated her arm, obscuring his view, but he knew the shape by heart. He carved into her flesh, tracing the faded skull and snake again and again. 

Lucius ignored her screams. Chanting in a mix of Latin and old Gaelic, he called upon the power of Summer to break bonds and destroy. He invited it to burn out the old. He called upon the Great God Lugh, the one he’d summoned and honored with sacrifices and battle, on His cross-quarter day, Lughnasadh. He asked the God to grant him this boon. 

Chanting, praying, spell-weaving, Lucius swayed with the building power. Bellatrix’s arm remained pinned on the head of the brightly glowing amber statue by the ritual and leather. Her blood coated the stone, somehow not diminishing its light. She thrashed in agony as the raw, wild magic flooded her bond to the Dark Lord. In minutes, she had screamed herself hoarse. 

Yelling over her, Lucius lifted the dagger from her skin and flung her arm away. Panting, adrenaline and magic nearly shaking him apart, he deliberately placed his left arm atop the blood-soaked amber statue. Calling for the God one last time, he stabbed the dagger brutally down into his Dark Mark. It was like being struck with lightning. Pure power - red hot and searing - rushed into his body. The pain was indescribable. It whited out everything…  

When he came to, the sun was beginning to rise. The statue had gone dark with Bellatrix’s and his blood drying on it. The dead-man’s head was in his line of vision, as well as Bellatrix who was slumped unconscious behind the statue. Lucius sat up slowly. He felt strangely empty and yet had crystal clear focus. He felt the way his hair slid around his shoulders, having fallen from his bun; he was aware of the sharp smell of grass and blood; he noticed all the facets of each quartz that ringed him in; but mostly he stared at the white scar tissue on the inside of his left forearm. It looked like an abstract blob in no particular shape. The edges were spider-webbed and thin like a star burst. It was faint and only slightly raised, looking decades old. 

He was alive. 

He could still feel the hum of magic in his core. 

The ritual had worked, and he hadn’t lost his mind or magic. His bond to the Dark Lord had been broken.

Lucius flung his head back and laughed. 

… 

August passed mostly uneventfully for Draco and Harry. Remus visited nearly every day and supervised their explorations into London, but baseball was over and Andromeda was withdrawn and brooding over Dora. They usually made a few visits to the Weasleys when they stayed with Andromeda, but she wasn’t feeling up to it and Molly had her hands full preparing another child for their first year at Hogwarts. Draco would have insisted, to see Percy, but come September they would be living with the older boy, so he let things be. 

The boys returned to the manor to spend the last three days of August with the Malfoys. After dinner, Lucius asked them to join him in the parlor. Narcissa settled in her favorite chair. It was padded with no arms. She sat gracefully, her knees leaning to one side, her pale blue dress falling to the floor. Her back was straight, posture perfect. Her long golden blond hair sat coiled on her head. She gave a calm smile as Lucius handed her a drink of dark amber liquid. 

He sat in an armchair at an angle to her own so that he could easily see the love seat the boys had chosen as well as his wife. The boys sat next to each other as was their norm. Harry, messy hair and glasses, was leaning against Draco’s shoulder, perfectly content as he listened to Draco and Narcissa talk. Lucius took a sip of his drink, feeling smug. He knew Draco and Narcissa were aware of his mood, but they were letting him set the pace. Narcissa was telling the boys about starting Hogwarts: A History together before they left for school and the picnic she’d like to have on the lawn for lunch. 

Setting his drink aside, Lucius cleared his throat. All eyes turned to him. Even Harry sat up and regarded him attentively. He gave them a slow, smug smile. “I’d like to inform you that I have successfully removed the Dark Mark.” Three sets of eyes watched with bated breath as Lucius rolled up his sleeve past his elbow, revealing the new scar. 

Draco rose from the couch and padded across the room. He grabbed Lucius’s arm and stared at the slightly paler and shinier skin and then looked up into Lucius’s smug eyes. “How’s this possible?”

Narcissa felt as if time itself had stopped and she stared unblinkingly at her husband.

Harry looked up at Narcissa. The look on her face was hard to describe, but it was clear that she felt something really strongly. He turned his eyes back to Draco, who was holding Lucius’s now scarred arm and quietly demanding answers.

“I did enough research into breaking bonds,” Lucius explained. “I felt confident the ritual I had found would work.”

“Yet you told me nothing,” Narcissa said softly, voice strangely neutral. 

Lucius tipped his head in acknowledgment. His smug smile melted into something more solemn. “There was nothing you could have done to help if everything went as planned, and I didn’t want you caught up in the vicinity had the magic become unstable.”

Narcissa said nothing to that, but her eyes clearly showed her dissatisfaction with that answer.

Draco released Lucius’s arm, asking curiously, “Is this because of the Vow?”

His son’s young, serious voice resonated in Lucius’s memory: “Do you swear to preserve Harry Potter’s life to the best of your ability? Do you swear to honor the bond between Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy? Do you swear to work toward the complete destruction of the Dark Lord Voldemort so that he can never return?” 

He had agreed to all of Draco’s terms thus the three wire-like scars that wrapped his right hand, wrist, and forearm, the Unbreakable Vow now embedded in his very core. He had not required the same of Draco. Instead, he had simply accepted the boy’s promise. Binding Draco to something that could kill him would defeat the purpose of continuing the Malfoy legacy anyway, and the honest truth was that Lucius wasn’t sure Draco was capable of truly caring about something like that. Draco’s concerns would always revolve around Harry.

“The Vow did not require this specific action,” Lucius answered gravely, meeting and holding Draco’s eyes. “However, I felt that the Dark Mark could come into conflict with the Vow in the future and thought to preempt that eventuality. I also wanted you to know I am fully on your side now, Vow or no.” 

Draco gave a slow smile that bloomed into a full grin. “Good to know, and congratulations.” He turned to Harry and green eyes caught his expectantly. “Grab Pandora’s notes, please.”

“Yes, Draco,” Harry answered and immediately left the room.

Lucius frowned. “Pandora’s notes? Pandora Lovegood?”

Draco crossed his arms and smirked. “You didn’t think I didn’t have a plan, did you? Harry and I have been working on them since she died, but we don’t know that much about magic, so it’s been slow going.” His expression turned serious. “You can’t use anything you learn in these notes for anything other than destroying the Dark Lord. I want your promise.” He looked back and forth from Narcissa to Lucius. “And you can’t share them with anyone. Not even if you think they could help you figure it out. I had a vision about them. The knowledge within could destroy the world. We can’t risk it getting out.”

“I swear it,” Narcissa promised easily. 

“I swear,” Lucius echoed, giving his son a firm nod.

Draco nodded back, his silky hair falling around his face. 

Harry returned with a thin leather-bond tome that was taller than it was wide. The pages were uneven and stuck out at odd angles. He passed it to Draco and stood at his side patiently. 

“Dobby!” Draco called, tucking his hair behind his ears. The elf appeared. “A table, please.”

The elf disappeared and then returned, both hands outspread. Lottie stood next to him and she maneuvered the parlor chairs and love seats to the walls, making room for the table Dobby had brought. It was the one from the sunroom. The one Draco and Harry studied at during their lessons with Narcissa. It was perfect. Draco set the book down and opened it. Taking out the loose papers that he and Harry had worked on, he spread them out.

“Most of this is Pandora’s theories and experiments on magical cores. Then there’s the research she gathered by other wizards and witches into the study of the soul, which is definitely different from the mind, but other than that they really don’t know much for sure. They have lots of theories, though.” Draco turned a few pages ahead and pointed to a specific section. “This is where Pandora drew several points of connection between magical cores and souls. She completed some experiment that involved wands, a brain-dead wizard who donated his body to further their research, a few Muggles, a living Squib, and some animals both magical and Muggle. Most of it Harry and I don't understand, but we do understand that she concluded that the magical core rests inside the soul. She believed them to be one-in-the-same, actually, based on her results.”

Lucius and Narcissa stared wide-eyed at the diagrams, complicated Arithmancy, runic formulas, and notes penned in a very neat, mechanical way that covered every inch of every page. Then they took in the more childish handwriting on the loose-leaf notes that the boys had been working on in secret for a year and a half. A lot of it was definitions as they tried valiantly to understand the extremely complicated notebook, but they had come up with some theories and conclusions of their own, too. 

One page in particular stood out to Narcissa and she lifted it in her perfectly manicured hand. “She believed that the Dark Lord’s core is attached to Harry for the purpose of resurrection because it contains or is somehow linked to his soul. You’ve added here that it couldn’t have been purposeful, which might make it easier break.”

“Yes.” Draco nodded. “By all accounts, the Dark Lord came to Godric’s Hollow when he wasn’t supposed to have been able to. Sirius Black was the Secret Keeper. He was at the house first, but I assume he wasn’t there when whatever had happened happened. Hagrid didn’t get to the house until an hour and a half or so after whatever had happened, and Sirius Black was just exiting with a still bleeding Harry in his arms. Hagrid saw the Dark Mark in the sky, but it was fading. He saw no other Death Eaters. He heard no sounds. So if the Dark Lord came with anyone they had long ago fled. I’d love to question Sirius Black, actually.”

“What’s that have to do with Harry’s condition?” Lucius asked diplomatically.

“That it wasn’t purposefully done. The Dark Lord couldn't have intended whatever happened that night. Something went wrong. He either meant to kill Harry and it backfired in a weird way or he meant to make a full transfer, but if he meant to make a full transfer, he would have brought Death Eaters. They would have expected his body to be destroyed and would have taken Harry, thinking he was their Lord. They didn’t. Harry was left, bleeding but relatively unharmed for Sirius Black to find and remove from the house. Therefore, I can only conclude that the Dark Lord tried to kill Harry, something weird happened, and the Dark Lord was struck with something that would have killed him. Somehow a temporary bond formed and a part of the Dark Lord’s core or soul, however you want to look at it, got attached to Harry in an effort to survive.” Draco looked to the messy-haired boy at his side. “This is where Harry’s theory comes in.” 

The boy blushed a bit and shifted on his feet nervously, but then he settled and lifted his eyes. He pushed his glasses up his nose. “Since the Black core is only a piece compared to mine or Draco’s that means that the bulk of the Black core is still somewhere else. If it had died, the Black in me would be more active and trying to survive. Right now it’s sleeping because the bigger part of itself is surviving, so it has no purpose, like clothes in a closet until you need it. If we can un-attach it without making it protect itself, then we could store it in a different place.” He carefully took the book and turned to a different page. “See, this is the diagram that made me think of it. See how the wand’s core surges when the wood is snapped, sometimes casting powerful, unintentional spells? It’s instinct. It knows it’s being damaged. It wants to survive, but a good wand maker is able to re-core a wand without the core reacting like that. It should be possible with me, too.”

“That supports what I saw during the experiment Pandora took me to witness,” Draco added, voice low and cold. “The Black core just… expanded and began gobbling up the magical core it was attached to to get more power, but the container couldn’t take it…” Draco swallowed down the nausea.

Narcissa and Lucius were silent for a long minute, just taking all of this information in. Eventually, she said, “So you think it’s possible to re-core the Black into another container, but there’s no one who would have experience doing such a thing without damaging Harry.”

Draco tiled his hand back and forth in a ‘sort of’ gesture. “Yes, but I think the bigger problem is making sure only the Black core is removed and not Harry’s core. We’re not sure how to separate them without the Black core seeing that separation as an attack. There are very few wand makers that can successfully work with double-cored wands. None of them are British. In fact, most of them are from India and China.”

“The answer might be here,” Harry admitted, gesturing to Pandora’s notebook. “But we don’t understand a lot of this.” Guilt laced his voice. “It’s taken this long just to get a basic understanding of what she’d found out.”

Lucius gently picked up another page of their notes. “Thank you for sharing this. We will apply ourselves to the problem and make unraveling its mysteries a priority.”

“Make a copy,” Draco ordered and placed his hand possessively over Pandora’s notebook. “We’re going to keep working on the original, and I want you to send me weekly updates.”

Lucius and Narcissa agreed, Lucius adding, “I want updates on your progress, as well.”

… 

Over the next three days, Narcissa was very clingy, her sadness palpable. The boys took no lessons. Instead, they had picnics, rode horses, and spent a great deal of time talking about Pandora’s notebook and Hogwarts. They even started reading Hogwarts: A History together. The school was founded in 990 A.D., and a lot had happened there in the one thousand and one years since it had been built.

On the morning of September first, Lucius pulled Harry aside as they gathered in the receiving room in preparation of flooing to King’s Cross. The small boy wore his school robe open over an expensive white-button down tucked into tailored black slacks. If you looked closely, you’d see that the shirt’s white buttons were made from imported Arita porcelain and perfectly carved into the shape of daisies. 

Harry also wore black boots that were actually a girl’s shoe. They had a two inch heel to put him at the same height as Draco with lace on the sides and back and were tall, coming above the ankle but not quiet to mid-calf. These particular shoes did not tie. Instead they buttoned closed and had one row of silk buttons on each side. Around his neck, a thin, black ribbon was tied into a loose bow and held his wide, folded over shirt-collar closed, hiding the leather collar underneath. Harry looked back at Lucius with an open expression, black-framed glasses shielding his remarkably green eyes. His messy hair fell in a tumble over his forehead and his ears. He looked like a fine and proper gentleman with an eccentric flare due to his floral buttons and feminine shoes.

Lucius knelt. For so long he’d tried to hold himself distant from this strange child. Quiet and yet with a core of fierceness; intelligent and yet so unconfident; devoted to Draco in a way so few people were capable of being, vulnerable and yet strong; Harry Potter was a complicated mix of qualities. It was hard not to be fascinated. “I would have felt more anxiety about Draco attending school were you not accompanying him,” Lucius told the patiently waiting child. Green eyes blinked at him and Lucius smiled. He touched Harry’s cheek gently. “I am confident you will look out for him.” 

Harry gave a big, sweet smile. Surprising Lucius, he stepped forward and hugged him gently around the neck. “I’ll take are of Draco,” Harry promised with utter seriousness before pulling away. 

Draco came to stand beside him, taking his hand. He met Lucius’s eyes and gave a nod of acknowledgment. Lucius returned the gesture and got to his feet, his heart pumping with surprising warmth from Harry’s affectionate gesture. He was more strongly affected by Harry’s forgiveness than he had expected to be.

Narcissa gave each boy a fierce hug, but she lingered over Draco. Her son had cut his hair, so it fell exactly to his jawline. He had tucked both sides behind his ears, but a thin piece of his bangs too short to reach had fallen to frame his face. His grey eyes were clear and alert. His school robes were fastened, but she could see the collar of his white-button up. She knew he’d closed his robes to hide the fact that he wore Muggle blue jeans. On his feet were a pair of black, high-top shoes that were mostly cloth with a rubber sole, the brand Converse stamped on the side. She smiled with affection, knowing they’d never break him of his love for Muggle fashion. 

“Be careful, Draco,” she reminded her son. “Remember the consequences of being seen as deviant or dangerous, especially at this age.” She had been determined to drill into his head the dangers of the Wizarding world discovering they were gay as well as the horrible consequences of seriously hurting or killing other children. She was certain Draco understood, but she would still worry.

“I’ll remember,” Draco promised, rolling his eyes. “It’s getting late. We should go.”

King’s Cross was a mess of people. For some reason Draco thought of the word gaggle. He wasn’t even sure what that word meant, but it sounded good. There was a gaggle of people. They made their way toward the end of the train and found Andromeda with Dee on her hip with Ted standing by a pillar. Ted’s whole face softened as he caught sight of his boys. Andromeda smiled, Dee reaching her little arms out toward Harry with a giggling laugh. Harry accepted Dee in his arms. The baby flung her arms around his neck with clear joy. 

Ted shook Draco’s hand. “Do your best,” he told the blond. “Try and make as many friends as you can. You won’t get this time back.”

“I will,” Draco said to appeasing him. Friends weren’t exactly on his to-do list.

“Learn as much as you can,” Andromeda added, kneeling and pulling Draco into a hug.

“I will,” he repeated. He turned and pulled Dee into his arms. The little girl went willingly, her dark curls soft against Draco’s cheek as she pressed her head against his.

Harry hugged both Andromeda and Ted. They gave him different advice, basically to ‘have fun’. Draco snorted in amusement. They knew that Harry always did his best and would make friends with everyone if it were up to him. Harry was also the one who enjoyed learning new things and would listen with equal attention to any lesson. Draco, on the other hand, only focused if he thought what he was learning could be useful. Once he focused, however, Draco was a very dedicated student, gobbling up as much information as he could get his hands on at an incredible rate.

“Bye, Dee,” Draco whispered into the little girl’s ear. “See you in summer.”

Harry gave her a hug while Draco was still holding her. “Love you,” he told he sweetly. 

As Draco passed her back to Ted, Dee began to cry. Harry ducked his head - guilt - piercing the bond. Draco grabbed his hand firmly in his. He gave Narcissa and Lucius, who stood impassively, a wave before turning and giving a more casual salute to Andromeda and Ted. 

“We’ll write,” he told all four of them and tugged Harry toward the train. 

Their two school trunks followed them, Hedwig’s cage secured on Harry’s trunk. Lucius had spelled them weightless and added a magical tether. Once they were on board, they only had to tap them with their new wands to cancel both spells. 

Most of the children and teens around them were loud and jostling each other. Parents were yelling out comments and commands. Laughter rose in bursts above it all. Draco cut through them with single-minded purpose, moving toward one of the doors of the train. He’d written Percy very specific instructions. Basically whichever of them arrived on the train first was to secure an empty compartment toward the back. 

Through the open compartment doors, Draco could see kids getting settled on the two benches facing each other and lifting their trunks into the netting above. Draco continued down the wood-paneled, narrow walkway, often having to press himself flat to a wall so other kids could pass. The third to the very last compartment was empty. Draco left Harry there to stand guard and checked the last two on either side. There were kids in all of them with no sign of Percy. Draco turned back, shoving his floating trunk upward to duck under it, and hurried inside the empty compartment Harry was defending. 

A girl about fourteen or so was saying something about she and her friends usually using this compartment. Draco put his hand on her arm and gently applied pressure, causing her to step to the side, and planted himself next to Harry in the doorway and looked up at her with a polite smile. “Sorry for taking your usual spot, but we’re new and promised our friends we’d save them seats.  We’re all kind of nervous and promised each other we’d stick together. They won’t be able to find us if we leave this compartment and there’s six of us.” He’d already assessed that these compartments would only hold about six students comfortably, so his lie made it clear he couldn’t ‘share’. “If you let us use it this year, I promise we’ll make it up to you.”

By this point, another girl had joined the first and they had realized who Draco and Harry were. They agreed instantly and wished them a good ride with their friends. Giggling, they moved off. As Draco remained in the doorway giving his spiel to whomever tried to enter - only two more groups of students, all of which went away as easily as the first two girls had - Harry busied himself with their trunks. 

Clever boy that he was, he decided to push and shove the floating trunks into the netting before tapping them with his wand and canceling the spells. He had to stand on the bench seats to do it, but eventually he got them in place. They were too heavy for him to lift without the spells. Hedwig’s cage he settled safely on the floor under the window. 

A loud whistle pierced the air and the volume of voices outside the train increased. Draco looked out the window at the surging crowd of families and late students and, when he turned back, Percy stood in front of him. Draco gave a smile and stood aside, letting the redhead into their compartment. Percy looked a lot different from the thirteen-year-old boy they had first met. Now, Percy had just turned fifteen last month and stood at five feet seven inches. He was still thin but with wider shoulders. His eyes were the same brown, but he had new glasses. They were black and cat-eyed shaped and horned-rimmed. His hair was nearly the same, cut short in the back and longer at the front, letting the tight curls spill over his forehead.  

“Percy,” Draco said in welcome as the older teen shut the compartment door behind them. 

“Draco,” Percy replied, tone formal and stuffy.

Draco smiled, amused. Percy could act all high-and-mighty with everyone else but them. They had seen Percy at his lowest and their relationship required them to be honest and intimate with each other. “How are you?” he asked, patiently waiting for Percy to get comfortable.

The redhead took out his wand and cast the few locking and warding spells that he knew at the door. He turned back to the two eleven-year-olds and pushed his glasses up his nose. “I’m well, thank you.”

“We’re going to have to keep our eye on Pucey and his group,” Draco said, taking a seat next to Harry. “He’s already made some comments while we were getting fitted for school robes.”

Percy nodded and added, “His group consists of about twelve in Slytherin from various year groups Third-year and above with a few hanger-ons that change. There are a few in Ravenclaw who have also said some things that make me think they’re Dark sympathizers as well.”

Draco nodded, Percy had already told him as much in his owled reports. 

The seats in the compartment were comfortable with padded benches and a slightly curved padded back. The window was small, but allowed them to see the platform outside. Another whistle blew, followed by three quick bursts. The train lurched forward. Parents stood waving as they train very slowly pulled out of the station. Soon bright sunlight came streaming into the window and the buildings of London began to pass by. The train gathered speed with another loud, long whistle blowing.

Draco returned his attention to Percy. The teen was staring pensively out the window. “No one’s bothered you at night?”

Percy turned his eyes to Draco. “No.” There was relief in his voice as well as gratitude. “The snake still works.”

“How faded is it?” Draco stood and crossed the narrow space between them.

Percy carefully lifted his glasses from his face and set them on the seat next to him. He turned sideways, facing the door instead of the window and pulled his red button-down from his slacks. He leaned forward, exposing his lower back. A faded red snake lay curled in a ball with its triangular head resting on its top coil. There was no movement, looking like a decades old Muggle tattoo. Draco lightly ran his fingers over it, noticing how it was too faded to see the distinct scales anymore. He could barely sense his magic. It was definitely time to renew it. Percy had his head bowed forward with unconscious submission as Draco examined him. Warmth bloomed in Draco’s stomach and he stroked the tattoo again, this time in approval.

“Are you ready?” he asked softly.

Percy nodded, but he knew that wouldn’t be enough.

Draco used his thumb nail to trace the outline of the snake. “Are you ready, Percy?” he asked again, always demanding a verbal answer.

“Yes. I’m ready,” Percy whispered.

“Make sure the compartment is locked tight. Take your shirt off and get on your knees. Bend over the seat.” Draco’s eyes flashed to Harry as Percy moved to obey. “I want you ready and sitting on the bench next to him. Leave your boots on and hook your heels on the edge of the seat. Spread your thighs.” 

Percy had flushed red, but he was soon naked to the waist with his pants unbuttoned so that they barely covered his butt. He buried his head into his folded arms and waited. Draco’s attention was on Harry, however. The slender boy had slipped out of his robe, untied his tie and unbuttoned his white shirt. He then shimmied out of his pants completely. Draco had seen him dress that morning, but the image of Harry in thigh-high, black silk socks and black high-heeled lace boots still took his breath away. It made Harry’s legs look like they went on for days and Draco had the urge to lick the line where silk ended and flesh began. 

Harry set his back against the padded wall of the compartment and set his heels at the edge of the seat as Draco had ordered. Then he spread his thin, pale thighs, exposing himself completely, his knees bent and held next to his chest by his arms. Percy was directly next to him, his chest flat on the seat, his side touching Harry’s booted foot. A white-silver dragon with blue highlights on each tiny scale was inked with incredible detail into the skin on Harry’s right side. The tattoo was Draco’s claim on Harry, telling the world the boy belonged to him.

It was about four inches long and three tall. It had tiny silver scales along its triangular snake-like head that doubled in size above the cat-like eyes to form two crests that rose off the back of its head. Larger scales also pointed outward along its back and long tail, reminding Draco of Harry's messy hair somehow. Probably because the scales weren't in orderly roes but slightly jumbled and almost lying flat. Like Percy's tattoo, it was growing slowly larger and longer over time. 

Two white-silver leathery wings curled upward like a bat's. It had four scaled paws with three, multi-jointed talons on each foot. Its body was muscular and round, also like a cat's. There were hints of blue in the shadows of the scales and wings, but mostly the dragon was a pure silver-white. Its eyes, sitting on the sides of its rounded face, were a deep, dark green - the color of Draco's magic - only a shade or two darker than Harry's eyes, which were pale emerald in color. 

The dragon’s wings were spread, the head arching in a sensual line as Draco watched. Its tail dropped to curl in a loose spiral on Harry’s lower stomach just above the boy’s groin. Draco knelt between Harry’s spread legs. He licked at the dragon’s tail, causing it to curl more tightly and Harry’s member to stiffen. Humming, Draco reverently put his lips to the top of the silk stocking and licked and sucked at them, soaking the material and wetting Harry’s inner thigh with his spit. He was obsessed with that transition from silk to skin, had been from the very beginning when his boy began wearing them. 

Harry moaned quietly, his head falling back to rest against the wall, pink lips parting sensually. Pleasure desire submission - pooled through the bond like warm syrup, increasing Draco’s own desire ten-fold.

As Draco bit down on Harry’s silk-covered thigh, the boy arched in a beautiful line, thighs spreading impossibly wider. The sounds of Harry softly panting breaths filled the compartment and Percy groaned into his arms. Draco used his palm to press firmly against Harry’s cock, pressing it against his lower stomach. His thumb caressed the juncture of his groin and thigh, making Harry shiver. 

Draco turned his attention to Percy. He reached forward with his dominate left hand and scratched gently at the faded tattoo. Percy’s hips involuntarily rocked against he bench seat. Draco smiled wolfishly and asked again, voice husky, “You ready?”

Percy pressed is forehead into the seat and tilted this head down so that his mouth was clear. “Yes!” he stated firmly, sweating and wanting to get this over with.

Draco took his hands off both boys and unfastened his school robe, letting it hang open. He unlatched his pants and bent forward to lick a hot line up Harry’s small, hard shaft. Harry bit his lip hard, a muffled whine escaping his throat as shocks of almost painful pleasure burst through him. Draco, all silver-eyed and focused, stood and pressed their groins together. The blond rolled his hips sensually, the heat of the pressure making Harry’s nipples hard while the sting of the dry friction made him gasp. He watched through dazed eyes as Draco bit into his palm. 

Draco’s magic filled the compartment with a deadly energy and his teeth sank into his skin like butter. The smell of hot, fresh blood saturated the air instantly. Draco reached over and pressed his bleeding hand against Percy’s tattoo. He pressed against the teen’s back in a rhythmic pattern, forcing the older teen’s hips to rock against the seat. Percy groaned and picked up the rhythm voluntarily. Draco grinned, sharp and bright as he watched the boy work toward his own pleasure. 

* This one is mine, * he thought fiercely and his magic responded. Blood and magic absorbed into the snake. Slowly, it began to gain more color and life, recharging with Draco’s power. 

During the course of Percy’s Third-year at Hogwarts, someone had been raping him at night, holding him down and taking their pleasure from his unwilling body. Draco had been furious; furious that Hogwarts wasn’t safe, furious that kids were being raped. He’d claimed Percy and put his protecting mark on him, turning him into his spy at Hogwarts. 

Percy was writhing against the bench seat now, his head flung back, sweat darkening his hair and rolling down his extended throat. His face was slack with pleasure as Draco’s hot magic poured into him, reasserting his claim and protection. The promise of that absolute safety nearly brought Percy over the edge. He was grunting now, mouth working at the air as he teetered at the edge.

Draco’s face went pale as he lost a dangerous amount of power. His head dropped forward just close enough that Harry could lick in quick desperate jabs with the very tip of his tongue at his blood-smeared chin. The taste of Draco’s blood was intoxicating, and as Draco continued to rock against him pushing pain and pleasure through his entire body, Harry’s magic began to rise, catching and matching Draco’s power, bolstering it.  

Draco’s eyes brightened as Harry’s magic joined his. His thrusting hips picked up speed, energy rushing through him. Percy came with a choked cry, his body going rigid before collapsing limply forward into his own mess. Draco ripped his bleeding hand away and shoved it toward Harry’s hungry mouth. Harry latched on as if he were starving and sucked and licked at the deep bite. 

Draco groaned as Harry’s healing magic pierced through him with sharp stabs of pleasure that went straight to his core. He tore his hand away and grabbed Harry’s thighs, pulling the boy’s heels and butt off the edge of the seat. He bent over the smaller boy and rutted against him in earnest. Harry’s long legs and feet bounced as Draco thrust against his body. The magic tightened like a spring, green eyes glowed to match Draco’s silver, and then they came together, bodies tightening and Draco’s hips pressing in with bruising force. 

Harry’s mind went blank as his toes curled. Draco collapsed to his knees, sliding down Harry’s sweat-soaked chest and resting his head in the boy’s damp lap. They panted and gasped, trying to get their wind back. Percy was just beginning to sit back on his knees, cheeks a furious red as he looked at the mess smeared across the seat, his stomach, and groin.

Draco slid off of Harry and sat with his back to the seat. He didn’t bother trying to do up his pants or cover himself. His whole body tingled with the aftermath of their orgasm and sex magic. He slapped at the outside of Harry’s thigh. Harry obediently sat up and sank to his knees on the floor. Draco grabbed hold of Harry’s hair as the boy turned and happily descended on his lap, licking and sucking Draco clean of the small amount of clear fluid that he’d ejaculated. Draco tugged hard on Harry’s hair, bringing the boy’s mouth to his face where some of Harry’s cum had smeared across Draco’s cheek. As Harry’s hot, wet tongue ran over his skin again and again, Draco turned his head and captured Harry’s mouth in a deep and nearly violent kiss. Draco’s tongue scoured every inch of the inside of Harry’s mouth, stealing the taste. 

Percy, heart slowly calming, pulled his shirt on and fastened his pants. A few cleaning spells got most of the mess off the upholstery. Languidly, he watched the two boys make-out. The passion in their eyes and mouths was undeniable. It made him think of a particular Ravenclaw girl in his year. As Harry sat back, straddling Draco’s waist, a thin line of spit connecting their swollen mouths, Percy announced, “I’ve been exchanging letters with a girl. If I… if we…” He gestured at Draco and Harry meaningfully. “Do you think the tattoo will hurt her?”

Draco pushed at Harry, making the boy climb to his feet. He accepted Harry’s hand and stood. He fastened his pants and sat heavily on the seat. Speaking to Percy, he ordered, “Turn around. Lift your shirt.”

Percy faced the window this time and bent forward, lifting his shirt and exposing the now bright red snake with each tiny scale etched in perfect detail fading from blood red to almost black along each edge. It peered at them through yellow-green eyes at the small of Percy’s back. It was half the size of Draco's clenched fist when curled up and about seven inches long when stretched out. It was growing with Percy, gaining about an inch every time they recharged it. The first had been in August of last year, eight months after first putting it on Percy. This was the second.

“Your host wants to find a mate. Will you know the difference between his mate and the man who hurt him?” Harry asked the blood snake. He stood in his open dress shirt, stockings, and shoes, but he didn’t feel self-conscious. For too many years Draco and he had gone with little to no clothes, so nudity didn’t bother them.

The snake titled its ruby head curiously. 

“Do you know when your host is scared or upset?” Harry asked in a different way.

This time the snake nodded. 

“A short time ago your host was feeling good and had some of his clothes off. Did you want to bite?”

The snake flexed his neck in pleasure and shook his head.

“That’s right. Do not bite unless your host is scared or hurt, okay? When people come against him and take his clothes off and your host feels good, do not hurt them.”

The snake nodded again and yawned before curling up and resting its head on its red coils to go to sleep. 

Harry smiled as Percy turned around and sat normally on the seat. Harry told him what he’d discussed with the snake and Percy smiled in relief. 

“Thank you,” Percy said, voice soft and sincere. He carefully kept his eyes away from Harry’s mostly naked body.

Draco smirked, smug satisfaction radiating from him, as he pulled Harry in close to his side.

Chapter end.

Chapter Text

A/N: I just wanted to remind everyone that Pixi56 on AO3 has created amazing multi-chaptered fanart for this series. 

Also, it has come to my attention there is more incredible art on Instagram if you search #sensiblytainted

Check it out and leave comments! It’s so cool!

Getting Things Sorted

Draco and Harry treasured their time alone on the ride to Hogwarts. They knew they would get very little of it while at school between classes and sharing a dorm room with others, so they cuddled and took naps on each other’s shoulders, talked in quiet murmurs about Hogwarts, played with Hedwig, and exchanged soft kisses. All too soon, the whistle blew and, with an almost regretful sigh, Draco got them both up and made sure their clothes and robes were put to rights. Ten minutes later, the train slowed to a rocking stop as it pulled into Hogsmeade Station.

Draco popped his head out of their compartment and asked a passing kid what they should do with their trunks. He was impatiently informed to leave them, that the Hogwarts’ elves would take care of it. Harry took hold of Hedwig’s cage and Draco firmly grabbed his other hand as they followed the press of loud and rowdy kids off the train. 

The sun was setting; dusk enveloped the platform. They were faced with a brick wall with a red sign with white letters that read Hogsmeade. Green trees and gas lamps stood along the way. As they were pushed along with the crowd of students, Draco caught sight of Hagrid standing over three times as tall as the kids around him at the end of the platform. 

“First years! First years, follow me!” 

Hagrid didn’t look any different from when they had met him on Diagon Alley. The same patchwork coat and leather pants, the same bristly beard and happy grin. Draco guided Harry that way. The older kids continued on passed Hagrid onto a street that would presumably take them to Hogwarts. Draco bumped into Ron as the redhead also pulled away from the crowd. 

“Oh, hey,” Ron said once he realized it was Draco. “I looked for you on the train.”

Draco shrugged, offering no explanation, and came to a stop in front of the Ground’s Keeper. 

Ron caught Harry’s eyes and stuck his tongue out at the blond’s back. Harry smiled nervously, ducking his head. A sharp tug on his hand brought Harry’s head up and his public mask of serenity in place. Pansy pushed in on Draco’s other side. She somehow managed to smile and scowl at the same time. Vince and Greg lurked behind her.

“I looked for you everywhere,” she hissed.

Draco gave her the same shrug he’d given Ron, which made the redhead smirk.

Pansy huffed, tossing her shoulder-length black hair dismissively before crossing her arms.

“Arry!” Hagrid boomed, spotting him. His grin grew impossibly wider.

“Hello, Hagrid,” Harry greeted the man politely, his head craned back to look him in the eye.

“You ready to go to school?” Hagrid asked with a playful tone. “Follow me! Yer gonna love this!”

The kids around them shuffled their feet as they realized The Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy were among them. Hagrid, oblivious to the sudden tension in the group, turned and took a side path that led behind the station. None of the kids moved, too busy staring at Draco and Harry. Draco sighed and tugged Harry after him, following the giant man down the hill. Ron, Pansy, Greg, and Vince came quickly after. They didn’t talk. Darkness was falling quickly now and they had to step carefully if they didn’t want to fall. 

The path went through a thin line of tall trees when they suddenly stepped out onto a beach with a wooden dock that stretched out onto a choppy lake. Five small wooden boats were lined on one side of the dock, six on the other. Hagrid strode out onto the wooden planks, calling, “Four to’a boat! Come on now. Time ta go.”

The dock hadn’t looked all that sturdy, but seeing Hagrid walking easily down the length reassured Draco. He took the lead and stepped onto the wooden planks. Hagrid took the sixth boat at the far end. Draco, Harry, Ron, and Pansy climbed into the one next to the large man. Greg and Vince took the boat next to that one. A black boy and a dark-haired girl got in with them.

Each boat had a glowing yellow lamp on a short pole on the front and they flickered to life as soon as someone stepped inside. Soon enough all eleven lamps had flickered to life, creating a warm glow in the night. A cool wind blew up from the lake and Harry leaned against Draco’s side. Draco put his arm around Harry’s shoulders, confident neither Ron nor Pansy would think anything of it. They were somewhat used to them, after all.

The boats launched smoothly away from the dock on their own. They rocked gently side to side as they cut across the water further out onto the lake, following after Hagrid’s boat. The trees along the lake edge grew dense and thick the further they went. Rocky cliffs suddenly rose around them. They turned a corner and Hogwarts came into view for the first time. Harry sucked in a breath. Even Draco felt his mouth fall slightly open. The castle was huge! Tall towers and massive buildings, elegant bridges and hundreds of glowing windows; it was the most magical thing any of them had ever seen.

“Blimey,” Ron breathed. 

“It’s beautiful,” Pansy agreed.

They eyed each other suspiciously. 

Draco snorted, amused. 

Harry’s manners kicked in and he introduced them, saying, “Pansy, this is Ron Weasley. He’s on the summer baseball team we’ve told you about. Ron, this is Pansy Parkinson. She visits us at the manor.”

“Be nice,” Draco added, smiling, but there was a subtle warning in his tone.

Pansy sniffed and turned her head away, putting her nose in the air. 

Ron scowled at her before pointedly returned his attention to the castle. “Wonder which one is Gryffindor Tower,” he asked.

“I read in Hogwarts: A History that Gryffindor stands for the Fire element. That means the tower should be to the South,” Harry answered.

Draco looked up at the sky, found an orientation point and pointed. “That’s north..." His finger swung in the opposite direction. "So it’s probably that one.”

Ron looked at the tower Draco was pointing to and grinned. “It’s so awesome!”

Pansy made a rude noise. “What’s so awesome about a windy tower? I bet it rocks when it storms. No thanks!”

Ron scowled at her. “Let me guess. You’d prefer the slimy dungeons.”

Pansy opened her mouth to give him a scathing retort, but Draco interrupted. “Quiet. We’re almost there.” 

They weren’t really. They were still about five minutes out, but Ron and Pansy both thankfully shut up. Draco mentally sighed. This was going to be a long year. 

The little boats carried them through a curtain of ivy, which hid a wide opening in the cliff face. They were carried along a dark tunnel, the golden lamps from their boats seeming to dim in the utter blackness. Harry whispered that they were probably under the castle. The voices of the other children bounced eerily off the walls while the sound of water lapping at stone was magnified. They emerged inside a cave-like cavern in an underground harbor. Each boat drifted one at a time to a flat shelf along the shore. 

Hagrid disembarked first. He stood there grinning cheerfully. “Welcome to Hogwarts, Firsties!” he boomed. “Line up over there now. Let everyone get ashore.”

Once the last kid climbed free of the boat, Hagrid led them over to narrow stairs cut into the stone wall. By the time they reached the top, their calves were burning. The stairs led to a door that opened onto grass. They stepped out of the side of the castle and followed Hagrid like ducklings around the corner and walked up to the massive front doors. They were huge with iron bands covering its surface. Hagrid pushed them open easily and they swung inward with a creaky groan. 

Draco stared into the Entrance Hall. Candles were lit along the walls next to gorgeous paintings and tapestries. Four suits of armor stood at the ready. Two massive winding staircases went up on both sides of the hall while directly in front of them were two more tall doors. An elderly witch in a pointed hat and dark green robes stood waiting for them. 

“I brought the First years,” Hagrid told her jovially.

“Thank you, Mr. Hagrid,” the witch answered him, tone stiff and formal. 

Hagrid gave a salute and found Harry in the crowd. “I’ll be seein’ ya later, Arry. Good luck!” And then he shut the front doors behind him with a bang.

“Welcome to Hogwarts,” the witch said, drawing their attention. “I am Deputy Headmistress McGonagall, Transfiguration Professor here at Hogwarts.” Draco’s attention sharpened at that name. “Now, in a few moments, you’ll pass through these doors and join your classmates, but before you can be seated you must be Sorted into your Houses. They are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.” An unconscious chill touched her voice as she named the last House. Draco lifted an eyebrow at that. “Now, while you’re here, your House will be like your family. Your triumphs will earn you points. Any rule breaking and you will lose points. At the end of the year, the House with the most points will be awarded the House Cup…”

Her stern lecture was interrupted as a boy in the middle of the group cried out, “Trevor!” A croaking frog hopped up to McGonagall’s feet and the boy pushed out of the group to scoop it up. As McGonagall stared with an unimpressed gaze, Draco realized the boy was Neville Longbottom, the kid he’d met during Beltane.

“Sorry,” the boy muttered weakly, face red with shame.

“The Sorting will begin momentarily,” McGonagall continued. She turned with a sweep of her robes and went inside the double doors. 

“A toad,” Pansy said in disgust. “Who gets a toad familiar in this day and age?”

Draco ignored her and edged past Greg and Vince to get a better look at the boy. As he’d thought, Neville was crying silently with not a hiccup of breath, tears rolling down his flushed cheeks. The Pleasant girl fostered by Neville’s family stood at his side, saying, “I told you he’d show up.” Draco took note of the looks of disdain on the other kids’ faces. Neville hadn’t made any new friends with his lost toad.

“I got a rat. My brother got an owl this year for being a Prefect, so he passed him on to me. He knows a lot of tricks,” Ron was saying behind him. 

Draco turned at Pansy’s shriek and saw Ron holding a fat, graying rat in his hands. The redhead looked delighted by her reaction and shoved it forward in her direction. 

Greg’s hand grabbed Ron’s arm warningly. “Don’t,” he said simply, making Ron scowl and jerk away.

McGonagall returned before anything more could occur, and Ron hastily shoved the rat back into his robe pocket. “We’re ready for you now,” she told them.

The Great Hall was massive. Longer than it was wide, it had hundreds of floating candles under a ceiling charmed to look like the sky. Four rows of tables stretched the length of the room. Hundreds of kids sat in long rows at those tables and watched with only vague interest as the First years marched inside after McGonagall. The group walked down the hall and stopped in front of a horizontal table that sat on a raised dais. The teachers were there, looking out at the students with varying expressions. 

Draco caught Snape’s eye and gave a smirk. The Potion’s Master gave him a neutral stare in return.

“Now, before we begin, Headmaster Dumbledore would like to say a few words,” McGonagall told them solemnly. 

Draco blanked his expression and held tight to Harry’s hand as the old wizard in billowing dark purple robes and a pointed purple hat pressed on the table to get to his feet. His chair was especially extravagant. The sides made of gold and with points along the top, looking like a modest throne. 

Dumbledore looked as old and crafty as he had the last time Draco had seen him. Just as it had been then, Dumbledore’s beard and hair were snow-white and fell well past his waist. He gave a happy smile to the assembled children, his voice husky and soft with age. A frown shaded Draco’s features; he wasn’t buying the weak, old guy act for a second.

“I have a few start of term notices I wish to announce. The First years please note that the Dark Forest is strictly forbidden to all students. Also, our Caretaker Mr. Filch has asked me to remind you that the Third Floor corridor on the right hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not want to die a most painful death. Thank you.” Dumbledore gave a vague wave of his hand and returned to his seat, smiling.

Draco flashed Harry a look. Harry blinked back at him - patient watchful. Frowning, Draco turned back to McGonagall as she began speaking. 

“Now as I call your name, you shall come forth, I shall put the Sorting Hat on your head and you’ll be Sorted into your Houses.” She unrolled a parchment and called the first name. “Abbot, Hannah.”

The girl came forward timidly and was directed to the stool next to McGonagall. A ratty leather wizard’s hat was placed on her head. 

“Hufflepuff!”

Draco wasn’t sure what the Third Floor corridor was about, but he was not happy that there was something so dangerous within reach of Harry. Percy had made a very detailed list about all the dangerous places in Hogwarts, including the Dark Forest and the more advanced greenhouses among other things, but none of them had actually been inside the castle walls. 

Draco stared at Dumbledore and realized the old wizard was already looking at him. He wondered what the old man was up to and narrowed his eyes. Mouthing the words, ‘We need to talk’, he hoped Dumbledore got the message. 

Vincent was Sorted Slytherin. A few names later Gregory followed him into the same House. Draco wondered distractedly why no one realized what that meant. Those two were not as slow as everyone assumed them to be. They had a verbal handicap, but they were cunning, observant, and had ambitions. 

“Longbottom, Neville!” 

McGonagall had been calling names, but Draco had been too distracted notice. He only noticed now because it was a name he recognized. They were already at the L’s; he’d be called soon.

“Gryffindor!”

Draco was pulled from his thoughts as Harry hissed next to him - confusion pain. Draco turned sharply to see Harry touching his lightning bolt scar. Draco’s razor sharp eyes shot around the room as he held tightly to Harry’s arm. 

There were a few students whispering and looking Harry’s way, but none of them seemed particularly threatening. At the teacher’s table, Snape was the only one looking directly at them. The man frowned, dark eyes moving to Draco's in question as he noticed Harry’s pain. Draco moved on, looking for the threat, but no one stood out. Practically growling, Draco crowded Harry protectively, running a soothing hand down the boy’s back. 

“Malfoy, Draco!”

Draco didn’t want to leave Harry’s side. He shot Pansy and Ron pointed looks, tilting his chin subtly at Harry. He wished Vince and Greg were there, but they were sitting at their new House table. 

Once Pansy and Ron moved into place on either side of Harry, Draco marched up to the stool. His mind raced, his eyes never once leaving Harry. The four tables and what seemed a sea of kids were just an unimportant blur in the background. He was hyperaware of their bond, ready to spring into action should another bolt of pain come through. His knuckles went white as he sat and gripped the edge of the stool. He didn’t like this at all. First a deadly Third Floor corridor and now Harry’s scar had reacted to something for the first time. 

Harry watched nervously. He hadn’t meant to be distracting. He knew Draco was unhappy and then his scar had to go and hurt… This was so important and he was messing it up! 

The hat had barely touched Draco’s head before it shouted, “Slytherin!” 

Harry’s eyes went wide, knowing that wasn’t Draco’s plan. His heartbeat quickened as he watched McGongall take the hat from Draco’s head. 

The blond stood from the stool and boldly said, “No.” 

The Great Hall fell absolutely silent. 

“I beg your pardon, young man?” McGonagall asked in a very offended tone, eyebrows nearly touching her hairline.

Draco looked up and gave her a polite smile, his eyes glinting with defiant amusement. “No, thank you, Professor. I am deeply honored. Slytherin is a great House, but I choose Gryffindor.”

“That is not how these things are done, Mr. Malfoy,” she stated sternly. “Please join your House.”

Draco gave her an elegant bow, and then, ignoring the green badge on his left breast, he walked calmly to the end of the Gryffindor table and sat next to a wide-eyed Neville Longbottom. 

The older Gryffindor students were on their feet asking him what he thought he was doing. A few actually booed. Competing with the noise of outrage, Draco noticed the Weasley twins were standing on the benches cheering. He slanted them a lopsided grin.

Dumbledore stood once more. This time without the help of the table, Draco noted absently. The old wizard clapped his hands once and energy brushed over everyone in the room. Silence fell. “I ask for patience,” he directed to the room before looking directly at Draco. “We will have a discussion after the Sorting, Mr. Malfoy.” Blue eyes twinkling over his half-moon glasses, he waved his hand at McGonagall, sitting again and looking completely unconcerned.

McGonagall huffed and the Gryffindors grumbled, some of the older ones glaring dangerously, but the Sorting continued without further disruption. 

Draco ignored it all. * Follow the plan, * he told his boy, voice calm and confident.

Harry looked into Draco’s fearless eyes and took a deep breath. His anxiety faded as - trust - bloomed in its place. Pansy’s hand slipped into his own. Harry held it tightly as he turned and faced the Sorting.  

“Parkinson, Pansy.”

Pansy gave Harry’s hand a last squeeze and Ron a pointed look before making her way to the stool. 

Ron went red, but as Harry’s wide, green eyes turned to him, fear clear in their depths, he reached out and took Harry’s other hand. Harry’s sweet, grateful smile gave him the strength to tilt his chin defiantly. There was nothing wrong with comforting a friend, and he’d punch anyone in the nose who said otherwise!

“Slytherin!”

Harry smiled, knowing Pansy had gotten the House she had wanted, but it trembled at the edges. Would he be next? His heart knocked painfully against his ribs.

* I’ll take care of everything, * Draco’s voice whispered in his mind. * Hush. *

“Patil, Padma.”

“Ravenclaw!”

Harry took a deep breath and slowly breathed out. Expanding his throat, he felt his collar press into his skin. It calmed him. I belong to Draco, he mentally chanted. All would be well as long as that was true.

“Patil, Parvati.”

“Gryffindor!”

Harry took notice at the repeat of the Patil name. The girls were identical. Taking in Parvati’s smile as she moved toward the Gryffindor table, Harry thought she seemed okay with being separated from her twin. He couldn’t imagine that.

“Longbottom-Pleasant, Hermione.”

The girl they’d met at Beltane pushed past him muttering encouraging words to herself. She was clearly wracked with worry, but you couldn’t tell by her body language. She moved with what seemed like confidence, her chin tilted up.

The hat sat on her head for about thirty seconds before calling, “Gryffindor!”

“Warrington-Pleasant, Kevin.”

“Ravenclaw!”

 

- Nervous worry - began to sneak into Harry’s heart. He knew Draco would get his way and be made a Gryffindor, there was no doubt of that, but what if the hat put Harry in the wrong House, too? That would be harder to fix. 

“Potter, Harry.”

Harry clutched at Ron’s hand as his hard won calm shattered into - fear. He stared with wide-eyed horror at the stool. What if he messed this up so badly that Draco couldn’t fix it?

Ron’s blush deepened as it seemed like the whole school turned to look at them. Harry seemed frozen. Out of the corner of his eye, Ron saw Draco tense and knew that nothing good would come from the blond interfering. He’d already acted like a crazy bastard by refusing his Sorting. Ron had to try and stop him from doing anything crazier! He pulled his hand free, stepped behind Harry, and gripped his shoulders.

“You got this, Harry. You’re on the mound. Bases are loaded. Draco’s called the pitch. You just got to get it to him, yeah?” Ron said quietly but clearly and then pushed Harry forward.

Harry stumbled a bit, his heels clicking on the floor in the silence. The image Ron had given him settled his nerves. He’d been in tight spots before. He’d pitched in games where they were losing, the whole team’s hopes riding on his throw, but Draco was always there crouched behind home plate, calling the play. Harry turned to sit on the stool and his eyes connected with Draco’s stormy grey. The blond gave him the same cocky grin that he wore during a game, all cool confidence and amusement. Harry’s nerves disappeared completely. Draco had him. 

The Sorting Hat fell over Harry’s eyes. “Interesting,” a dusty voice said into his mind. 

Harry went rigid. Snape’s voice had once resonated in his mind, a place meant only for Draco, by accidentally bleeding through Draco’s mind during an Occlumency lesson. It had been just as terrible, just as invading, but he wasn’t as weak as he once was. Instead of breaking down, Harry mentally growled, instinctively trying to protect what was Draco’s by blocking the voice out.

A nice mind, generous heart, and deeply loyal…” the leathery voice continued, this time in a careful whisper.

* Hello. I don’t believe we’ve met,* Draco’s voice cut through the darkness behind Harry’s eyes like a brilliant flash of lightning. The blond’s fierce magic rumbled through the bond like thunder.

Dominus et delicatus…” This time the whisper was one of awe. “So many long years since your kind has graced these halls, and never so young as to sit under my brim.”

* Then you know he’s mine. * Draco’s voice was dangerous and low. * Sort him Gryffindor and get out. *

“Yes, I see… Perhaps I Sorted you too soon, although I stand by my Sorting… Slytherin through and through…” 

Harry bit his lip almost hard enough to make it bleed as he felt the focus of the mental probe switch to him. Gryffindor, he thought, face scrunched up in concentration. Please say Gryffindor.

“It’s true that you possess remarkable bravery. Your ability to trust in your Dominus with no fear for how terribly he could hurt you will make you feel right at home in…. Gryffindor!”

Harry was off the stool and running to his new table. McGonagall was just barely able to snatch the hat back off his head. Draco had turned, straddling the bench. His arms were open, a pleased smirk on his face. Harry flung himself into those arms, shaking in reaction - joy relief love.

Draco smoothed a hand through Harry’s hair, gave him a squeeze, and gently pushed the boy toward the seat next to him. “I told you you’d get Gryffindor,” he said out loud while mentally prompting, * Mask. *

Harry blushed and realized the whole of Gryffindor table was cheering. Draco’s rebellion and questionable presence was forgotten completely as Gryffindor celebrated their acquiring The Harry Potter. Standing with the few remaining First years, Ron pumped his fist in the air, grinning. Harry kept his head up and gave them all a big smile, determined to win them over so that they’d let Draco stay.

A few minutes later, Ron was Sorted Gryffindor and he took the seat next to Harry. Harry gave him a hug while Draco slapped his hand in a high-five. The last few kids were Sorted and Dumbledore stood again, tapping his glass goblet with a fork, making it ring. The hall quieted. With twinkling eyes, Dumbledore exclaimed, “Let the feast begin!”

Food instantly appeared along the previously bare center of the table. Rolls, butter dishes, corn on the cob, roast potatoes, steamed carrots, and roast chicken. Ron immediately dug in. Draco barely kept himself from rolling his eyes. The redhead’s table manners were still deplorable. 

“Wanted to be in the best House, eh, Malfoy?” an older student a few places down asked Draco with mean eyes.

“Well, it certainly is now that I’m here,” Draco drawled with a smirk, amused by the pathetic attempt to bully him.

“Don’t think that you’re staying,” the boy spat angrily. “Slytherins aren’t welcome here.”

Draco arched an eyebrow and looked pointedly over at the Slytherin table. “Looks like they are since they have their own House and all,” he retorted, purposefully mistaking the ‘here’ to mean Hogwarts and not Gryffindor since that’s how everyone acted anyway. Like House Slytherin should be kicked out and destroyed. Such short-sighted ignorance.

The bully went red as the kids around him snickered. 

“We come as a pair,” Harry cut in, voice as firm as his gaze. “We’re twin-bonded.”

A girl next to the angry teen got the boys attention and they held an intense whispered conversation. The First years were left alone. 

Draco served himself a small portion of everything and gave Neville a charming smile. “Nice to see you again. How’s Trevor?”

Neville blushed a dark red, instinctively putting his hand in his pocket. “Fine, thank you,” he answered nervously, ducking his head.

Draco turned his smile to Hermione. “Congratulations on your Sorting. I’m sure you’re happy to be with your brother.”

Hermione’s guarded expression softened with surprise and then a real smile spread across her face. She looked at Neville and nodded her head firmly. “I am.”

“I’m Harry Potter,” Harry introduced himself to the First years around him. “I hope we can be friends.”

“I’m Seamus Finnigan!” the boy across from Harry said with a heavy Irish accent. He had short sandy-colored hair and blue eyes. “Can’t believe I’m here, really! I’m half-and-half. Me Dad’s a Muggle and me Mum’s a witch. Got a huge surprise he did when I got me letter! Mum had some explainin’ to do!” He laughed boisterously. 

“Dean Thomas,” the boy next to Seamus offered. He was dark-skinned with short, dark hair. He was tall, too. Almost a head taller than Harry with them both sitting. His voice was subdued, but he seemed friendly enough.

“And I’m Lavender Brown,” a girl with long, ash-blonde pigtails pipped. She was on the other side of Neville. “I always knew I’d be coming to Hogwarts. Both my parents attended.”

“Parvati,” the Patil twin said with a sweet smile. She was Indian with large dark eyes and thick black hair that she wore in a single braid. “My family’s been magical for more than eighteen generations. Most of them were Ravenclaws.” Her sweet smile morphed into something more daring. “Guess I’m different.”

Next to Neville sat a girl with strawberry blonde hair that had been cut in a short bob. “My name’s Fay Dunbar.” She had small features and an upturned nose, which made her look a bit like a pixie. “I wanna play professional Quidditch one day. Are First years allowed to try out, do you think?”

“I’m Kellah Jordan.” Black with cornrow braids, she was very pretty with thick lips and large dark eyes. “You can call me Kell. My older brother’s in Gryffindor. His name’s Lee.” She pointed him out and an older teen sitting with Fred and George gave her an enthusiastic wave.

Ron rolled his eyes, unimpressed. His left cheek puffed out from food stored in it. “I got three older brothers here, all Gryffindor. Two more have graduated already. Don’t talk to me about older brothers. Oh, I’m Ron. Weasley if you couldn’t guess.”

“Draco Malfoy.” He gave them all the easy smile of a cat. “Nice to meet you. I’m sure we’ll get along just fine.”

They talked of simple things and ate until they felt like they were going to pop, the atmosphere friendly. Almost an hour later, the feast came to an end. Professor McGonagall stepped up to the First year section of the table and gave Draco as stern glance. “Mr. Malfoy, the headmaster would like to speak with you.” Turning her attention to Percy, she added, “Please take the First years to the tower and explain things, Mr. Weasley. I will be there momentarily.”

Percy nodded and stood. 

* Stay close to Percy until I get back, * Draco instructed through the bond. He squeezed Harry’s hand tightly before letting go. 

Harry gave Draco a smile - acceptance determination. 

The other First years gave Draco curious looks as they stood and swung their legs over the bench. Percy gathered them up, unashamedly taking Harry’s hand. Draco gave them an unconcerned wave. Soon the Great Hall was empty. McGonagall lifted a single eyebrow before striding from the hall.

They went up a floor and walked down a long hallway with many gargoyles staring sightlessly back at each other. They were large and ferocious looking. At the end of the hallway, they came to an eagle-headed gargoyle with massive wings and a frighteningly large, sharp beak with the body of a lion. McGongall cooly stated, “Acid pops,” and the stone statue stepped off its pedestal, the head turning with a loud grating sound to look at them as they walked past to the spiraling staircase beyond.  

Dumbledore’s office was a large and beautiful circular room, full of funny little noises. A number of curious silver instruments stood on spindle-legged tables, whirring and emitting little puffs of smoke. The walls were covered with portraits of old headmasters and headmistresses, all of whom were snoozing gently in their frames. A second floor could be seen past a railing and held hundreds of books that had no titles along the spines. There was also an enormous, claw-footed desk, and, sitting on a shelf behind it, the Sorting Hat. Dumbledore sat there. He waved them closer, indicating that McGongall should join them and sit. He offered them both a silver tin with yellow balls.

“Lemon drop?”

“No, thank you,” Draco denied. He reached up to tuck his hair back behind his ear.

McGongall said nothing, narrowing her eyes impatiently. 

“Very well.” Dumbledore chose one of the candies and placed it in his mouth. It made his cheek bulge slightly. “You are unhappy with the Sorting?”

“I am unhappy with a lot of things,” Draco answered mildly.

“It’s not for you to be ‘unhappy’ with things, Mr. Malfoy, you are a student and as such…” McGonagall began.

“For example,” Draco cut her off and stared her down. “A fucking deadly corridor.” His eyes flashed to Dumbledore. “What the fuck are you thinking putting that in a school filled with kids?”

McGonagall opened her mouth to scold him for his language, but she couldn’t find the words to say because she agreed with him completely. She had been against it from the start.

“We are temporarily holding onto something that needs protection,” Dumbledore explained.

“Protect it somewhere else,” Draco demanded coldly, crossing his arms.

“Mr. Malfoy!” McGonagall exclaimed, shocked by his attitude, as if he were a king and they were his subjects to be commanded.

“Minerva, it’s alright. He is rightly concerned for his safety and the safety of the other children.” Dumbledore smiled, faded blue eyes twinkling madly above his glasses. “The item was placed in the most secure holding in the Wizarding world and I received notice that it wasn’t safe even there. This is the last place it can be kept. I assure you that every measure has been taken to keep the students safe from both the item as well as anyone after the item. The wards have been bolstered all summer. The teachers have been informed and will keep watch, and I assure you they are all highly qualified adults. I would prefer it otherwise, but this is necessary. Should the item fall into the Dark’s hands, I believe Voldemort’s return would follow directly after.”

“Albus!” This time she was shocked by the information the headmaster had revealed to an eleven-year-old. Such things were beyond the boy’s understanding, but more than that it was not for him to worry about. He was a child! He shouldn’t be burdened with such knowledge. 

Draco considered that, a cold chill of fear coiling in his gut. He wasn’t ready. He hadn’t gained enough strong allies to be sure he could keep Harry safe when Voldemort returned. Not to mention they still hadn’t figured out a way to free Harry from the Black core attached to his own. He gave a sharp nod. “I understand. We must keep that from happening at all cost,” he agreed, voice resigned.

McGonagall felt her eyebrows lift. “Why, thank you for your permission, Mr. Malfoy,” she said archly.

Draco gave her a blank look. Her lack of understanding was annoying, but he knew it was to be expected. Winning her to his side would take time. 

Dumbledore rubbed his hands together. “I’m glad we are all in agreement. Now, as to your Sorting…”

“I understand you do not wish to be separated from your twin,” McGonagall interrupted, “but it is not for the child to pick the House. We are none of us truly aware of who we really are. You belong with Slytherin, even if you do not think so at the moment. You will be more understood there. As for Mr. Potter, you will be able to see him between classes and meal times, but you simply must room with your House.”

Dumbledore sat back, stroking his white beard as he watched.

“Gryffindor is my House,” Draco stated with calm certainty. “The Sorting Hat is a magnificent object of power, but it is not perfect. Nothing is perfect. The hat took very little time Sorting me. Less than any other kid. There is more to me than can be measured in that time.”

“The Sorting Hat has never been wrong!” McGonagall insisted.

“How do you know that?” Draco demanded with a bit more force. “Have you been in the head of every child to ever walk these halls? There has never been a child who was consistently unhappy throughout their seven years here? A student who didn’t reach their full potential because of their House environment? Never? You can’t possibly know that.”

McGonagall crossed her arms defensively as certain students in the past flashed through her mind. “And what makes you say you belong to Gryffindor besides being bonded to Harry Potter?”

“I won’t deny that I like to make plans. I’ve been told I’m smart in the cunning way, and I have the enormous ambition of keeping Harry alive.”

She opened her mouth, clearly feeling she had won. 

“But!” Draco cut her off before she could speak. He met her eyes with fierce determination, and they weren’t the eyes of a child. “I’m brave, professor. Brave and chivalrous. I was kept captive for over a year by a very sick man. I faced his punishments and torture and never gave up hope of escape. I’d walk into that man’s chamber, knowing he was going to whip me half to death or shove plastic dicks up my ass. I knew he was going to make me bleed and bleed, but I faced him head on again and again. And I protected Harry from that. I knew it would be worse for me if I did, but I did it anyway. I take care of Harry before myself. No matter the cost. Always. I have honor, Professor McGonagall, not just pride, and I do know the difference.” Taking a deep breath, softening his voice to sound more vulnerable, Draco said, “I think I deserve the right to choose Gryffindor. I’ve proven my bravery more times than I can count and I never broke during all those hours of torture. My honor is still intact. If you force me to go to Slytherin… I feel like you’re telling me it’s not.”

McGonagall couldn’t speak. She was beyond horrified by Draco’s speech. Tears burned her eyes. The child stared up at her with a vulnerable expression, but his gaze was steady and he was facing her head on, just as he did his tormentors. He was so small now. How much smaller had he been then, helpless and utterly, truly alone? His undeniable bravery was heartbreaking because it shouldn’t have been necessary. 

“Draco,” she whispered, voice wobbly and thick with unshed tears. “You may be Slytherin, but you are Gryffindor, too. I welcome you to your new House.”

Draco smiled sweetly and reached out to gently touch her hand. “Thank you, professor.”

Dumbledore cleared his throat. “May I ask why you do not wish to be in Slytherin? If your goal is to help Harry, then…” 

McGonagall gave Dumbledore the fierce glare of a protective mother. How dare he suggest to an eleven-year-old to serve in the war!

“Simple.” Draco shrugged. “I could try and spy on the Slytherins, it might even help one day, but Harry’s been traumatized, too. It’s going to be hard for him to live at a boarding school where people don’t understand what we’ve been through. I’m his twin. He’s going to need me. Besides, I don’t have to be in Slytherin to spy on them. I’m going to maintain my contacts there.”

McGongall smiled, amused. “How very Slytherin of you.”

Draco gave her a tilted grin. “I’m sure there have been plenty of Gryffindors in the past who wished to spy on Slytherin.”

“But they did not succeed at it,” she countered. “I have a feeling you will.”

Draco chuckled. “Here’s hoping. Plus, with me in Gryffindor bridging the gap between the two Houses, maybe we can help weaken the stigma against Slytherin and make them feel less persecuted. Then they’d feel less like they have no other choice than to follow the few who are hardcore Dark.”

McGonagall smiled proudly. Draco truly was Gryffindor if he was so set on saving so many people, people he didn’t even know.

Draco internally smirked. This was going exactly how he’d predicted. They were going to attribute his goal to infiltrate Slytherin and convert as many as he could to altruistic reasons. The truth was that every kid he pulled from the Dark Lord was another kid who wouldn’t hurt Harry. He wasn’t kidding when he’d said he would build an army to keep Harry safe. Draco was going to do whatever it took to make it happen, including “save” Slytherin House.

Deep in his mind he hid the rage and cold hatred aimed at these two people. They had left Harry at the Dursleys. McGonagall had sensed they were not good people, that Harry would not do well there. Dumbledore hadn’t listened. They had both failed epically. McGonagall for not checking up on Harry when she’d known. Dumbledore for continuing on with the arrogant confidence that he was right. There would come a time for vengeance, a time Draco would need a trump card, and he’d unleash his rage. He’d wait and watch for that moment with a Slytherin’s cold patience.

Chapter end.

Chapter Text

Gryffindor

Percy led the group of Firsties out of the Great Hall and up the main staircase. They passed stone corridors that led to classrooms, many vocal paintings of knights and languid ladies and, all the while, they stepped carefully as the stairs under them sometimes felt the need to move into another position, bringing them to a secondary landing on the next floor up. Percy explained that they should all try and get to class early because they tended to act up even more if you were running late. 

Harry nodded firmly, making a mental note to tell Draco later. “Are there any maps?” he asked, looking up at Percy.

“I suppose I could find you one. Gryffindors usually like to do things by trial and error. I suspect that Hufflepuffs give their new members maps, though,” he answered.

“Because they’re babies,” Ron said with a big eye roll. “I’m not using a map. It’s more fun figuring it out yourself. We’ll be fine if we stick together, Harry.”

“I would like one, please,” Harry told Percy, undeterred. He didn’t care if his peers thought him a baby. If running late carried penalties like the staircases moving on purpose to make things worse, then he wanted to be prepared. He was determined not to be a burden to Draco.

“I want one, too,” Hermione spoke up, her chin lifted defiantly. “Only someone stupid thinks they won’t get lost in a castle this big. In Hogwarts: A History, it states several kids have gone missing never to be found again.” 

Ron scowled, face red with embarrassment and anger, but before he could say anything to her, they stepped out onto the seventh floor landing. Percy led them to the huge painting that was almost set at ground level and was taller than Harry was by a half. A large woman in a white gauzy gown sat with her hair pinned up and dark green olive leaves around her head. 

She gave them a big smile, saying, “Is this the new batch, then?” 

“It is, Lady.” Percy turned to the group of kids. “This is our portrait. You have to tell her the correct password or you will not be allowed inside. Some students have had to camp out most of the night before someone else came along to let them in. This week the password is Caput Draconis.”

“Beheaded dragon?” Parvati asked curiously.

Ron and Seamus grinned, clearly approving. “Wicked,” they said almost at the same time.

“Dragon’s head,” Harry corrected. “Not necessarily cut off.”

Percy nodded at Harry as the portrait swung open.

A large round room filled with rugs overlapping with other rugs covered the grey stone floor. Heavy curtains and tapestries of animals, witches, and wizards covered the walls. Golden chandeliers casting warm yellow light hung from the ceiling, and a fireplace took up most of one wall with a roaring fire. A huge painting of a proud lion sitting with his head in profile was placed in a large golden frame above the mantle. It should have been gaudy and overwhelming, but it was so lived in and the atmosphere so casual that it felt homey instead. Dozens of stuffed red armchairs and a few couches placed around low mahogany tables in random clusters. Kids from twelve to seventeen were lounging on chair arms, on window seats, leaning against the walls, sitting on the tables, playfully pushing and shoving, laughing. The volume of their voices was nearly overwhelming.  

As the new First years crowded just inside the portrait of the Fat Lady, letting the door swing closed, the noise lowered. Percy opened his mouth, clearly about to say something when a boy, Fifth year or so, shouted, “Hey, Potter, what’s with Malfoy trying to get in here?”

Harry met the kid’s eyes squarely and said, “Draco’s the bravest person I know.” 

“I’m sure Malfoy’s great, but you heard the Hat! It called Slytherin,” another boy argued.

“You want to kick out Draco, then you’re going to have to kick me out, too!” Harry said it with such fierce certainty that the boys had no quick comeback. 

Trying to change the subject, Percy announced, “That’s the House billboard.” He pointed to the cork board in along the wall. It was already half filled with flyers and announcements. “Check it for news and notices.” Percy indicated two sets of gently spiraling mahogany stairs. They were decorated with crimson and gold as most of the room was. “The stairs lead to the dorms. Boys on the left, girls on the right. Boys can’t climb the stairs to the girls’ dorm. It turns into a slide.”

“And trust me…” Fred called laughingly.

“We’ve tried everything!” George finished with a mischievous grin.

The room laughed at that. 

“The girls are able to climb the boys’ staircase,” a girl in the back called out with a grin.

Catcalls and comments about who she was looking to see up there were shouted across the room. 

“That doesn’t sound fair,” Ron said with a frown, crossing his arms.

“Who cares if it’s fair,” Seamus argued, elbowing him with pink cheeks.

Lavender and Parvati giggled, Fay and Kell rolled their eyes, but Harry noticed that Hermione looked relieved. 

“But if they’re caught in the dorm, they’ll get skinned by McGonagall,” another girl chimed in. She shuddered as if she had experience.

Hermione’s face dropped in disappointment.

Percy went on to say that curfew was at nine o’clock sharp on school nights and ten o’clock on weekends. If they were caught out of the tower after that time, the House would lose points and they’d likely earn a detention. A few shouted suggestions on how to avoid getting caught were bandied about, much to the amusement of the rowdy crowd. Percy did his best to ignore it, although most of the First years were doing the exact opposite and paying very close attention to the tips and tricks.

Other House rules were given: they were to keep their room and the common room tidy, beware Professor Snape as he had it out for all Gryffindors, never take anything from Fred and George as it was likely a prank of some kind, no recreation or mind altering potions or muggle drugs at anytime whatsoever, earn as many points as possible and don’t get caught breaking rules so that Gryffindor could win the House Cup…

“Been Slytherin last few years,” a boy grumbled unhappily.

“This year, we’re going to beat them at Quidditch,” a teen suddenly yelled out. 

“Oliver,” a girl groaned. 

“We will! I’m putting together a team better than when Charlie was here. The House Cup will be ours!”

A roared cheer of approval met this bold declaration, the sound making Harry wince and step closer to Percy’s side. Behind them, the portrait door swung open. McGonagall stepped inside with a beat up, bloody, bedraggled Draco. The room fell silent and the First years all backed up, deeper into the common room. Harry took a step forward, a look of worry on his face, but he stopped halfway, his expression going blank.

“Good evening, students,” McGonagall began, voice stern as ever. “I am here to announce that Draco has willingly undergone an additional test. The results are conclusive. He is a Gryffindor. In the Sorting Hat’s haste, it did not evaluate Draco comprehensively.”

Draco walked forward to stand beside Harry, taking the boy’s hand. He limped. His right eye was swollen and darkening into a terrible bruise. His hair fell around his face and stuck to the blood on his forehead and cheek. Blood smeared across his face from his nose and rolled down his neck from his hears. Soot smudged his skin, the smell of smoke rose around him. His robes, button-up, and jeans were torn in dozens of places, the skin underneath black and red with what looked like oozing burns. 

“Can’t he go to Pomfrey?” Percy asked into the silence. 

“I’m afraid not. Draco took this test knowing full well that it would be painful and his wounds would not be tended to afterward. Yet he faced it bravely and even now has not complained.” Her hazel eyes swept the room. “Draco has proven himself. Let all doubts regarding his House be extinguished!”

Harry pulled Draco’s arm over his shoulder and helped him walk toward the nearest armchair. The girl sitting on the arm leapt up immediately, but the boy didn’t move at first. Harry glared at him and the boy’s eyes went wide, finally standing. Draco sat carefully, making a face at the pain. 

“Now!” McGonagall clapped her hands. “We need to see to dorms. Usually we have about twenty new students in Gryffindor each year, give or take. However, this year and last were on the smaller side due to events ten years ago. We haven’t had to split up the cohort in a while, but there are no more than five to a room. The girls will be fine in a single room. The boys number six…” She slanted Draco a stern glance as he raised his hand with seeming politeness. “No, Mr. Malfoy, you cannot share a room alone with Mr. Potter.”

Draco grinned and the expression was frightening with how bloody and battered he looked. “I was just going to say I’d like to room with Harry and Neville, professor.”

Neville looked shocked, Ron furious, and Hermione suspicious. Harry gave them a reassuring smile and mouthed ‘I’ll explain later’ to Ron.

“Very well.” McGonagall gave Draco a nod of acceptance. “Now that that’s out of the way.” She again gave her House a stern glance. “Mr. Malfoy has been spelled to be unable to discuss his challenge. Do not ask him about it if you do not want to waste your time. He will say nothing. Now you have classes bright and early in the morning. Your schedules will be handed out during breakfast. I suggest you get some sleep.”

The room maintained its silence until the portrait swung closed behind her. Then bursts of whispered conversations erupted around the room. Slowly groups of students went up the dormitory stairs, staring at Draco the whole way.

“Congratulations!” Fred called, bounding over. He gave Draco a bow.

“Impressive,” George added, whistling as he took in Draco’s damage up close.

“Thanks,” Draco said wryly. He gingerly touched his split lower lip.

“What’s the deal?” Ron demanded, butting in. 

Fred and George exchanged a glance and left the First years to their argument. They put their heads together and whispered back and forth.

“Harry and I like to go to bed early and like things quiet,” Draco explained meeting Ron’s angry gaze with his one good eye. “I thought you’d have more fun with Seamus and Dean.”

“You always think you know everything!” Ron spat and angrily stormed away. Seamus and Dean followed after shooting Draco curious looks.

Harry smiled gently at a still shocked Neville. “I hope you don’t mind.”

“N-n-not at all,” the shy boy stuttered, face red. 

“I’ll see you in the morning,” Hermione told Neville. She gave Harry and Draco a fierce look before following after the other girls. 

“Help me up.” 

Harry grabbed Draco’s hands and pulled the slightly bigger boy to his feet. Draco hissed in pain and looped his arm over Harry’s shoulder’s again. Neville stared in horror, but he said nothing. They made their way with agonizing slowness up the stairs. On the first level they found a door with a lightning bolt with their three initials on it. Harry opened the door and pushed it open. 

The dorm room was like a circle cut in half. Small rectangular windows were placed regularly around the outside wall. Three fourposter beds were covered in thick scarlet blankets and embroidered with gold. Curtains an even darker red were tied off along each post and could be drawn around the beds for privacy. At the foot of each sat the their trunks and next to the head of the bed sat a nightstand. Three tall armoires were placed against the wall on the other side to hang their clothes. Several red rugs overlapped over the cold stone floor. Oil lamps sat on each nightstand, turned up so their warm flickering light filled the room. 

Draco limped inside with the help of Harry and sat carefully on the far right bed. Neville went to the bed on the far left, leaving the middle for Harry.

“Are you okay, Draco?” Harry asked softly.

“Yeah. Fine.” Draco watched as Neville nervously twisted his hands in his lap. “Look, Neville, I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable. I just thought you’d like a quiet dorm as much as Harry and me. The other boys can get pretty excited sometimes.”

“N-no, I mean, y-yes…” Neville stammered, red in the face.

“Good.” Draco gave him a smile and then focused on Harry. “Help me get these off.”

Harry obediently began tugging Draco’s clothes off one piece at a time, revealing even more bruised and oozing skin. The skin not damaged was covered in scars: thick ones, thin ones, long and short, lines and blotches, all a pale white, hundreds of them. His chest and legs were covered in them. His back looked even worse. The scars there were thicker and overlapped each other, clearly the marks of a whip. Neville gasped in horror, but he was ignored. 

Harry carefully folded the ruined clothes before placing them in the hamper he'd found in one of the armoires. He set it next to the middle bed and told Neville he could use it, too. Then he fetched Draco’s dressing robe and hurried out of his own clothes, folding them and placing them in the hamper, too. “We’re going to take a shower. I saw a bathroom at the end of this hall,” Harry explained as he helped Draco get to his feet again.

Neville nodded numbly. 

There was a door across from their own with a sword engraved on it and the initials of Ron, Seamus, and Dean. The door was shut. When they got into the bathroom, it was empty. Harry propped Draco up in the stall and began to help wash him off. The water ran pink and grey as it circled the drain, tainted with soot and blood. Harry lovingly washed Draco’s skin clean. He stared up at the blond from his knees, awe and devotion in them.

“You’re amazing,” Harry whispered, barely loud enough to be heard. “You got into Gryffindor just like you said and a room mostly to ourselves.” He could hardly contain his amazement at this incredible boy. 

Draco felt warmth saturate him from head to toe as he was filled with Harry’s - unconditional love pride. Unexpected tears stung his eyes. 

Harry was the first one to truly love him. To want to take care of him. Who saw something worthwhile in him and was proud of him. Harry’s love had saved him from a darkness so deep it had been colder and more empty than the black surrounding the stars. Even now Narcissa, Remus, Lucius, Andromeda…. Everyone who thought they loved him… They loved, but they didn’t love all of him, didn’t see or want to see all of him. They loved him, but frowned at this or that. They didn’t understand. Harry… Harry loved him. Every single inch, every aspect of his personality, loved in a way that broke through Draco’s barriers and had saved him from the darkness. 

Draco ran his thumb over Harry’s bottom lip and then pressed two finger inside his warm mouth. Harry sucked and licked at Draco’s fingers hungrily. Draco’s nipples pebbled and he felt warm all the way through. Tilting his head back against the shower wall, he let all the tension from the day drain out of him. His gut coiled tighter with every hard suck of Harry’s mouth and he pulled his fingers free with a soft pop. 

“Wash me,” he ordered, voice low. 

Harry obeyed the command with - joy. He lathered every inch of Draco’s body, lifted one foot and then the other, washed between every toe and under the tiny nails. He washed between Draco’s legs, gently cupping the blond’s balls. The cloth slid smoothly up his scarred stomach and chest, and he very carefully caressed Draco’s oozing, scrapped skin along his arms. He slid the cloth behind Draco’s ears and carefully over his battered face. 

Saving the best for last, he tenderly washed Draco’s hair, scratching gently at Draco’s scalp as he massaged the shampoo into a lather. Draco practically melted. He pulled Harry in for a languid kiss, their tongues tangling and stroking. Draco broke the kiss and pushed Harry back with a sensual sigh. Red cheeked, Harry cupped his hands to help Draco rinse. Once Draco was clean, Harry did a quick scrub down and then helped Draco dry off. He put his robe on Draco, Draco’s had been dirtied with soot and blood, and wrapped a towel around his waist. Neville was in his pajamas already and reading against the headboard. He looked up nervously as Draco and Harry entered. 

As they pulled on their own sleep clothes, which consisted of very large t-shirts (a compromise since they both preferred to sleep naked), Draco told Neville, “We usually share a bed so that if we have nightmares about the time we were kidnapped, we’re there for each other. I’m going to pull the curtains closed, so hopefully we won’t wake you if that happens. Sorry in advance if we do.”

“Do you think you can keep this a secret? It’s embarrassing,” Harry added, flashing Neville his best puppy dog eyes, which were all the more powerful because he hadn’t put his glasses back on after the shower. It wasn’t embarrassing in the least, but he knew rumors of them sharing a bed would be bad for Draco.

“Yes, of course!” Neville promised hastily. “It’s no one else’s business.”

Draco gave the other boy a smile. “Thanks, Neville.”

Neville went bright red.

The two climbed into bed and Draco pulled the curtains closed as he’d promised. It was dark inside the makeshift cocoon. Draco, wand in hand, whispered the Silencing spell that Percy had taught them. They weren’t skilled enough yet, so it wouldn’t last long.

“Are you really okay?” Harry whispered as he lay in the crook of Draco’s arm, head pillowed on his chest.

“It doesn’t hurt much,” Draco answered with a grin. “Like I told you, McGonagall did all this with a few spells. It’s mostly surface stuff. She didn’t want the students to think they could just pick their House because then the Houses would get lopsided. Sorting keeps the Houses more evenly balanced.” Voice turning teasing, Draco added, “No healing. I have to make a point tomorrow.”

Harry sighed in unhappy obedience. “Love you.”

Draco traced the wet leather of Harry’s collar. Slipping his fingers under it, it pulled tight enough to threaten Harry’s breathing. Harry shivered and pressed closer, and Draco felt an overwhelming surge of fierce possessiveness. “I love you, Harry,” he whispered back, meaning so much more: You’re mine, Harry and You belong to me and I’ll take care of you and No one’s going to hurt you while I’m around

Harry pressed a smile into Draco’s skin - contentment submission love.

… 

Harry and Draco were used to waking very early to start the long days of lessons under Narcissa. The tower was absolutely silent, all the other kids still sound asleep, as they quickly used the bathroom before returning to their room. It was still dark and they had to light the oil lamps to see. Draco lounged in bed, using a book as a flat surface to write letters to the Malfoys, the Tonkses, Dora, and Remus. While he wrote, Harry unpacked their trunks, hung their clothes in the armoire (Harry used all of his and then half of Draco’s), and set their books out on the night tables. He then packed up their school bags with paper, quills, and ink. He didn’t put any textbooks in them as he didn’t know what classes they’d be going to. Draco didn’t think they’d need any on the first day. It’d most likely be an overview of the class and rules. 

“We’re going to need a desk,” Harry murmured quietly, aware of the sleeping Neville.

Draco nodded absently, still bent over his letter. Two completed ones already sat rolled up on the night table beside him. 

Harry pulled on knee high silk socks and clipped them to his sock garters to keep them in place. He slipped into his black slacks and leather belt with the silver round silver buckle. Then he pulled on his black leather and lace boots with the two-inch heels. A button-up went on next and he tied on his red and gold neck tie. It took him two tries. He wasn’t used to this kind of knot, preferring different kinds of bows. Last, he pulled on his school robe. Pushing up his glasses he stood by the bedside and waited for Draco’s verdict.

Draco’s grey eyes went up Harry’s form and down before meeting Harry’s eyes. “You look perfect.”

Harry blushed happily and set out Draco’s clothes for the day.

“Wha’ time’s it?” Neville asked in a sleepy slur.

“Twenty minutes until breakfast,” Harry answered helpfully.

Neville sat bolt up right and then toppled out of bed, pulling his sheets and comforter with him. Harry rushed to his side to help. 

Draco dressed in comfortable jeans, his Converse sneakers, and an untucked button-down. He tied the Gryffindor tie with practiced movements and pulled on his robes, leaving them open. Draco finger-combed his hair quickly before tucking his bangs behind his ears. Walking over to other side of the room, he lazily prepared Neville’s school bag and handed it to the red-faced boy just as Harry finished buttoning the boy’s school robe closed. 

“Th-thank you,” Neville stuttered in shame, clutching the bag to his chest.

Harry smoothed Neville’s bedhead into place and gave him a bright smile. “It’s no problem, Neville. It’s my fault. I just didn’t know what time you wanted to get up, but I should have known you’d want more than ten minutes to get ready.”

“We’re going to head to breakfast. You can join us when you’re ready,” Draco offered.

Neville smiled with nervous relief. “Yes. Okay. I’m just going to use the bathroom first.”

Other kids were up and milling around the common room, voices could be heard behind dorm room doors, a good many were making their way out of the portrait hole toward the Great Hall for food. Draco held Harry’s hand in his loosely and followed. His eye was no longer swollen, but it was still a dark black/purple. The bruise spilled over onto his other eye staining it a green/yellow underneath. His low lip was still split and fat, and a healing burn sat just above his collar. He garnered a lot of attention from those in the other Houses as he sat down at the Gryffindor table and he could hear the other Gryffindors spreading the story. There were whispered suggestions of having to fight a dragon to dueling with McGonagall herself. Draco smiled mysteriously and ate his breakfast.

Ron, Dean, and Seamus appeared with only ten minutes of breakfast left. They looked like they just woke up, but they were in great moods. The redhead looked Draco over and made a face at his wounds. “Sorry about last night, mate. You were right. We had a blast.”

“I’m glad.” Draco gave him a smile to indicate no hurt feelings and handed over the bacon.

“Cheers!” Ron said in delight and practically fell on the platter.

“Harry, I have the map you requested.”

Draco turned to see Percy standing there with a serious look, perfectly dressed, and with his horned glasses in place. Draco gave him a welcomed smile as Harry thanked him and took the parchment Percy offered.

“Just tap it with your wand and say the floor you’d like to see and it will appear.” Percy found Hermione talking intently to Neville a few seats down and went to give her a copy.

McGonagall arrived just a few second later. She handed each of them a rolled parchment from an apparently bottomless bag she wore over her shoulder. Draco and Harry unrolled theirs and just stared for a moment. The parchment had a weird spiraling square of days and classes that they had to keep turning the parchment in order to read. Draco chuckled. It was a schedule that only a magical school could think up. 

The Great Hall would be open for breakfast 8-9 every morning, lunch 1-2 every afternoon, and dinner 6-7 every evening, but other than that every day was going to be different.

Monday: 9:12-11:35 Xylomancy, 11:45-1:03 Potions Theory, 2:13-3:33 Defense Against the Dark Arts, and finally 3:52-5:32 Charms Practical.

Tuesday: 9:14-10:55 Potions Theory, 11:45-1:02 Magical History, 2:15-3:24 Herbology, and finally 3:35-5:12 Transfiguration Practical.

Wednesday: 9:03-12 Double Potions Practical with the Slytherins, 12:15-1:22 Charms Theory, 2-3:30 Free Period, 3:45-5:03 Magical Theory, and finally Midnight-1:30 Astronomy.

Thursday: 9:13-11:23 Defense Against the Dark Arts Practical, 11:40-12:51 Xylomancy, 1:53-3:12 Transfiguration Theory, and finally 3:25-5:02 Flying.

Friday: 9:02-10:54 Herbology, 11:23-1:01 History of Magic, 2:01-3:11 Charms Theory, and finally 3:35-5:03 Magical Theory.

Saturday wasn’t a free day. 9:04-10:45 Potions, 11:00-12:45 Herbology, 1:30-2:45 Free Period, and finally 2:10-5:05 Double Transfiguration Practical with the Ravenclaws.

Sunday, thank the gods, was free.

Ron and Seamus were grumbling about the heavy work load. Kell and Lavender complained about the early hours, while Fay gloomily bet she’d be terrible at Xylomancy and Astronomy. Dean and Neville didn't know what Xylomancy was, so they listened as Hermione gave them a brief lecture.

“It’s the oldest form of divination using specially prepared twigs,” she stated. “Hogwarts: A History states it’s been taught here for ages. We only take it as First years.” 

Draco glanced at Harry. “Double Potions with Slytherins,” he said quietly. “What’re the odds?”

Harry took a deep breath and met Draco’s eyes - trust determination. “I’ll follow your lead.”

Draco gave a lopsided smile. “Let’s do this.”

 … 

The dungeons were dark. Torches shed enough light to see, but also threw a lot of shadows and the ceiling was shrouded with smoke. It was also colder by about ten degrees. The other Gryffindor First years crowded around Hermione and Harry who carried maps. Fortunately it wasn’t far and they turned down a corridor to find the Slytherin First years waiting by a door. 

“Pansy,” Draco said in greeting.

The girl crossed her arms, her expression cold. “How could you do it? How could you insult Slytherin like that?”

Draco sighed and addressed the eight glaring kids with the green and silver ties. “I didn’t mean to insult Slytherin. It really is a great House, but it had to be this way.” He purposefully took Harry’s hand. “Look, no matter what House I’m in, I’m still going to be myself. We’re friends Pansy. I hope that doesn’t change because of the ties we wear.”

Pansy sniffed, turning her head and putting her nose in the air. 

Seamus muttered something like, “stuck up brat”, and Ron and Lavender snickered.

Pansy’s eyes flashed, but the classroom door swung open before she could get revenge.

The room was large with a very high arched ceiling. There was a blackboard at the front of the room and a teachers desk. A huge closet stood open at the front of the room, too. Along one wall were shelves of softly glowing jars filled with things like eyeballs and tentacles and frog legs. Long black desks were positioned in rows. Two students could use one at a time. 

Draco instantly noticed how the other kids began to divid themselves: Slytherin on the left, Gryffindor on the right. A back boy partnered with Theodore Knott at the front of the room. Behind them was Pansy and Millicent Bulstrode. Then Daphne Greengrass and a blonde girl Draco didn’t recognize. Vince and Greg shuffled into place at the last Slytherin desk. 

On the Gryffindor side, Hermione and Neville paired up at the front. Then Parvati and Lavender, and Fay and Kell. Dean, Seamus, and Ron were trying to figure out what to do, clearly assuming Draco and Harry would partner. Draco nudged Harry toward the Gryffindor boys and positioned himself at Greg and Vince’s table, knowing they’d need help.

Ron looked surprised as Harry appeared next to him and and flashed Draco a questioning glance, only to roll his eyes when he found Draco on the Slytherin side of the room. He and Harry took the last desk on the Gryffindor side so that Harry would only be separated from Draco by an aisle.

“I want you to draw what the ingredients look like into your textbook next to the ingredients list before class each day,” Draco murmured softly. “That’ll help. Vince, you can watch what the tables next to and in front of you are doing to help Greg follow the instructions.”

Greg and Vince both had trouble reading. The letters would dance and rearrange themselves if they read too long. Vince had it worst, however, because he had a hard time speaking words as well as reading them. He had to really concentrate, so he spoke slowly, which caused everyone to think he was dumb. He wasn’t, of course. He was actually very insightful and observant. Greg tended to speak for the both of them; he was also a pretty good artist, which would allow him to do as Draco instructed.

The classroom door blew open once more and a man in swirling black robes strode down the aisle and turned sharply at the front of the room to face the class. It was Snape. "As there is little foolish wand-waving here,” Snape began, black eyes glinting, expression forbidding, “many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through the human veins, bewitching the minds, ensnaring the senses…” His voice dropped to a whisper. The students practically held their breath to hear. “I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even stopper death.” His voice rose to a normal speaking voice as he hissed, “If you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.” His eyes narrowed malevolently on Draco. “Ah, our resident celebrities. You think you can be in two Houses? You made your choice, boy. Get to the other side of the room. Now.”

Draco shrugged and calmly crossed the aisle to stand next to Harry.

“I see you can’t count, either.” Snape hissed furiously. “Five points from Gryffindor.”

The Slytherins snickered while the Gryffindors muttered insults Snape’s way. Draco tilted his head thoughtfully, moving his hand in a cutting gesture to keep Ron and Harry in their places. There were no more open spots at student desks. The only thing he could think to do…

Draco picked up his bag, swung it over his shoulder, and walked to the front of the room directly up to Snape. The man didn’t move a muscle, simply glaring down at Draco. Draco turned right and plopped his bag onto the floor as he sat at the teacher’s desk. 

Snape practically exploded. “Fifty points from Gryffindor! Detention, Malfoy! GET OUT OF MY CLASS!” he screamed, spittle flying from his lips as he flung his arm in the direction of the classroom door.

Draco wiped his face with a hand as he picked up his bag and stood. He gave a short, nearly sarcastic bow, saying, “Yes, sir,” before calmly walking back up the aisle. * Make a scene, Harry. *

Harry gave an unobtrusive nod of his head and then slammed his hands down on his desk. “You can’t do that!” he yelled furiously, making Ron jump and gasp with surprise. “There were no other places for him to go! You should have given clearer instructions if you were going to be so upset about it!”

“It’s okay, Harry,” Draco said, now drawing even with his boy.

“Ten points from Gryffindor for talking back, Potter,” Snape hissed, spitting Harry’s last name in disgust. A few of the Slytherins giggled.

“Harry! Shut up! You’re going to sink us!” Ron hissed, looking at Draco wide-eyed.

“No! I won’t let you bully Draco because he didn’t choose Slytherin House!” Harry yelled defiantly. “You’re a teacher! You should be ashamed!”

“DETENTION, POTTER!” Snape roared and stormed up the aisle. “GET OUT!”

Draco tensed, eyes narrowed dangerously. If Snape took this charade too far and put a hand on Harry…

Snape simply grabbed Harry’s bag, waved his wand at the classroom door, and flung it outside. Draco took Harry’s hand. He looked up at Snape with his fiercest glare, eyes gone sliver. He saw Vince, Greg, and Ron wince in his peripheral vision, and then he turned and strode from the class with Harry in tow. The classroom door slammed with a bang behind him.

Draco’s expression melted into a mischievous grin. “Sweet. We get free time and it’s a double period! Our next class doesn’t start until noon.”

“Did I do okay?” Harry asked anxiously, palms sweaty and his face pale.

Draco gave Harry a fierce grin. “You were perfect. Grab your bag.”

Harry did as he was told, completely rattled. He followed Draco almost blindly until he was suddenly pulled into a room with faint green light. Draco shut the door behind them. Harry stared with his mouth open. 

There was a square window about three feet wide and five tall, but it didn’t look out onto the castle grounds. It showed under the lake! Purple/black lake weed waved in a sensual pattern. Little round things with tentacles swam by briefly in a pack. The light filtered through the lake shimmered and swayed, casting slowly dancing patterns along the ceiling and walls. 

Harry shivered as Draco’s hands came up behind him and pulled off his school robe. Draco untied his tie from behind as well and then used it to bind Harry’s wrists tightly behind his back. Harry’s eyes went wide - anticipation desire need.

Draco came around in front of Harry and knelt. Eyes silver, he lifted Harry’s foot onto his knee and unbuttoned his boot. He slipped it off Harry’s small, socked foot and lifted the next one. Then he slowly unbuttoned Harry’s shirt, pushing it off Harry’s thin shoulders to bunch at his elbow. Last, he unbuttoned Harry’s pants and had him step out of them. 

Harry was panting. His heart raced in his chest. His blood felt as if it were on fire. The stomach turning mix of fear and anxiety during that scene in Potions burned away as Draco took complete control, his eyes silver and his mouth softened into that small, sweet smile that only Harry saw.

Draco held Harry’s gorgeous green eyes and walked him backward and around the furniture until Harry’s knees hit the back of the window seat. Draco gave a push and Harry sat with a gasp onto the cushion, naked except for his knee-high, black silk socks and the white shirt caught on his elbows above his tied wrists. 

“Beautiful,” Draco whispered, admiring the way Harry was silhouetted by the light from the lake. His messy hair created a halo around his head, his collar a dark band around his pale throat, his thin chest rising and falling rapidly, and his legs submissively spread. * Mine. *

Harry practically melted. “Yours,” he whispered, eyes fluttering closed.

Draco put one knee on the seat and braced his hand on the cold window, folding over Harry’s body as he sucked the boy’s nipple into his mouth. Harry gave a yelp at the almost vicious pull, and Draco told him firmly, * Quiet. * 

Harry’s throat obediently closed on any sound he might make. Yours, Draco. Anything for you, he wanted to babble as Draco continued to suck painfully hard on his chest. Sharp sparks of pleasure/pain sizzled and burned through him. He could feel his nipple swelling and thickening. Draco gave it sharp bites with his canine. Tears streaked Harry’s face, his breathing coming in nearly whimpered gasps. 

Draco pulled off his chest with a wet pop and grinned down at the blood red, fat nipple he’d left in his wake. The circle around the nipple was beautiful red like that against Harry’s fair skin. About the size of a quarter and swollen, it was softly raised almost like a girl’s chest right before she grew her breasts. The nipple itself was fatter and raw looking, standing tall. Draco pinched it in his fingers, feeling Harry’s pain and pleasure spike through the bond, and descended on his other nipple to make them match.

He went back and forth for several minutes until they were both red as strawberries and painfully tender. He pulled and sucked until they were distended and swollen, raised like soft little bubbles topped with a pebbled point. Harry’s face was red, not as red as his abused chest, but red and damp with tears and sweat, but his member was stiff against his lower belly. The white dragon inked into his side arched its head and flapped its wings, the tail lashing, expressing what Harry could not since he’d been ordered mute.

Draco stood back and watched as Harry’s chest heaved. His sweat-damped hair splayed against the window that he was slumped against. He was a gorgeous sight. Draco couldn’t tear his eyes away as he slipped out of his robe and shirt. He stepped closer, tie in hand and made it into a gag, pushing it deep in Harry’s mouth, tying it tightly twice around Harry’s head.

It opened Harry’s jaw just enough. Draco shivered. He loved when Harry drooled all over himself, got wet with spit and sweat and tears… with blood… Draco loved it. Loved how messy he looked, how fucking blissed out and owned. He wanted Harry soaked. 

Draco reached forward and pinched the boy’s fat nipples with his nails, twisting slightly. Harry’s body went tense, the cords of his neck stood out above the constricting collar as he arched into Draco’s painful touch, and then went limp as Draco released him. His breathing was harsh in the quiet of the dark room. 

“Love you. Love this.”

Harry’s eyes practically glowed - joy submission love painpleasure. Harry’s magic throbbed hotly around them, stimulated and leaking.

“I’m feeling playful,” Draco said softly, almost a warning, and smiled softly as Harry merely spread his legs a little wider, offering himself completely. As the intensity of Draco’s desire spiked, his magic rose to meet Harry’s, locking into place and beginning to spiral. 

He stroked his boy’s damp hair, pushing it out of Harry’s eyes and off his forehead. “God I love your body. How it responds to me,” he whispered without really thinking about it. He bent again to suck one last time at one nipple and then the other.

The searing heat of Draco’s mouth was almost more than Harry could take. It hurt so much, but it set him afire knowing Draco loved him, wanted him. Draco was happy, and that made him nearly come undone with a pleasure so sublime he could hardly breathe through it. He was Draco’s! Drool slicked his chin, dripped down his neck. Tears flowed unceasing. He could hardly breathe and it sent him soaring. Head spinning, throbbing intensely between his legs, his chest was a sweet, agonizing inferno. 

Draco pulled his mouth away with a last sharp nip. The lost look in Harry’s eyes told him his boy was gone, completely consumed, a creature comprised solely of sensation. Draco took Harry’s nipples between his fingers again and descended on Harry’s cock. 

Draco rode the wave of Harry’s hips and kept only the head of the boy’s penis in his mouth. Sucking with vicious force, he lashed the tip with his tongue again and again, scrapping his teeth along that sensitive tip in small little nips, determined to get it as red and swollen as Harry's chest. All the while, he twisted in sharp little pulls and tugs at Harry’s purpling chest. 

Harry came undone with sudden force. He arched with a muffled cry, too far gone to remember to be quiet, to remember he had a voice or that there was a wold outside of his body. Tossing his head side-to-side blindly, eyes screwed shut, his hips push/pulled in an conflicted wave, wanting more and trying to flee the overwhelming sensation nearly simultaneously. 

He came in Draco’s searing mouth, but Draco didn’t stop for a second. Harry screamed hoarsely, falling into stars and bursts of colored light, shaking and trembling, body completely limp. He whimpered and moaned, muffled by his gag, his body glistening in the green light of the lake with sweat. The musky, salty smell filled their nose.

Mouth still working, Draco released the swollen nubs and scooped Harry’s butt into his hands, pushing Harry deeper into his mouth. The heated and bruised head of Harry’s cock hit the back of his throat briefly before settling on his tongue as it shrank. Draco sucked hard again and again, twirled his tongue around it, forcing it against his teeth. Harry’s legs shook around him, vibrating as he made soft mewling sounds. Draco was nearly there, blind and flying as Harry’s orgasm flooded the bond, nearly overwhelming him… He was so close to being there with Harry…  

He dug his nails in to Harry’s skin, felt hot blood coat his fingertips, and used it as lube to carefully slide his index finger inside Harry’s hole. Harry arched, his body twitching to life as he felt Draco enter him, the slight burn, the strange feeling of something down there moving inside him, and then Draco found that small bundle he’d been shown… Found it and pressed on it hard, again and again… sending Harry’s body into overstimulated ecstasy/agony.

Draco exploded, curling over Harry’s lap, finger thrusting on automatic to keep the feeling there. Stars exploded in his vision and molten lava rushed through his veins. Their magic exploded, sending powerful energy rushing outward to saturate the room. Harry dissolved into unconsciousness with a voiceless scream.

Dazed, Draco sat with his head pillowed on Harry’s bare thigh. It took several long minutes before coordination came back. There was a cooling damp spot in his pants, but he ignored it as he got to his knees. Harry was still out, slumped in the window seat. His nipples were purpling. The tip of his penis was slightly red, but not too bad. Sweat and spit and tears were drying on his skin. 

Draco gently untied the gag and tapped his boy’s cheek. Harry slowly came to, moaning, and Draco gave him an affectionate smile. “You okay?”

“Yea…” Harry’s voice was hoarse, raspy. “That was…” Fresh tears graced his cheeks.

Draco gently cupped Harry's face and kissed him softly before licking away the new tears. He kissed Harry’s eyes and cheeks, kissed his lips again. As the static in the bond decreased, he was filled with Harry’s - love contentment gratitude. 

Draco smiled against Harry’s mouth. He helped Harry lean to the side and united his hands. Draco then had Harry up on the window seat on his knees facing the lake. Harry arched his back to press his swollen, painful chest against the cold glass. Harry hissed in pain, but soon found relief in the cold.

Draco lovingly licked the blood from harry’s cheeks and hole, cleaning him. Harry practically melted, purring. * Love you. We’re going to get through this. Hogwarts will be ours, I promise. I’m going to take care of you, Harry. Not going to let anything happen to you… * he murmured into his boy’s mind, reassuring them both with the mantra.

Chapter end.

Chapter Text

A/N: Pixi56 has added two new art to Chapter 3 of her Fanart for Freedom Found in Chains. It shows the boys in the Hold and they are very impactful. Please check them out and leave comments if you can. :D Thank you so much! It really is amazing art. 

Discussions

Draco sat sideways in the window seat, the shimmering green light from the lake illuminating half of his face. One leg was planted on the ground, the other was bent in toward his lap. Harry sat with his back to the window, close to Draco, eyes closed and mentally floating. Draco lifted his hand and pressed a single finger into Harry’s mouth, and he realized his hand was trembling faintly. 

“I want my touch to heal you,” he whispered, staring unblinking at the side of his boy’s relaxed face.

Harry hummed in response.

Without adrenaline coursing through is veins, Draco felt reaction set in. His very first class had been a disaster. So much was riding on things going right. Draco needed supporters, needed to gather an army that would surround and protect Harry. He needed to get stronger, smarter… He hadn’t anticipated such hostility from Snape. Was it because he’d refused Slytherin?

Draco blinked slowly and pulled his wet finger from Harry’s mouth. It tingled with the charge of his boy’s warm magic and he gently stroked one of Harry’s bruised nipples. Harry sighed softly, eyes still closed, completely limp and trusting. 

Draco hadn’t realized how much stress they’d been under. Moving to a new place, the uncertainty of the Sorting, sharing a room and feeling Neville’s presence close by even while they were sleeping, and then the disaster of their first class… It had been a lot to handle. Almost too much. He’d been rougher with Harry than he liked, fueled by adrenaline and rattled by all the stress… Draco caressed Harry’s chest until red and purple faded into pale pink and the swelling disappeared.

“What would you have done?” he asked barely over a whisper.

Green eyes cracked open. Harry felt like a warm haze had wrapped him up in layers of fluff, but Draco was asking him something. It took him a long minute to understand what he wanted, but he finally answered, “Asked where I should go.”

Draco said nothing. He dropped his hand to rest on Harry’s bare stomach and leaned his head against the cold glass, tired and frustrated. 

Snape had obviously known there were no more spots, that there were an odd number of students. What purpose would it have served to ask about a seat that wasn’t there? Of course, looking back with a clear head, Draco realized Snape’s purpose had been to make him submit by making Draco beg for a place. Any other student would have done the same as Harry, but Draco was broken. His instinctual reaction had been to push back harder than he was being pushed. And things had exploded. 

Soft fingers stroked his cheek and he opened his eyes to see Harry staring at him - love contentment trust. Harry smiled and feathered his fingers over Draco’s lips in a caress. Draco, throat tight, pulled Harry more firmly into his lap. He held him close and let his mind drift.

They stayed in the lake-view room for nearly an hour, curled up together in the window seat like kittens, murmuring in soft voices love and comfort until it was time to rejoin the world. They made a quick trip to their dorm room to gather their Charms textbooks, splash water on their faces, and get fresh shirts and ties. 

As they dressed, Harry brushed his fingers over the crescent scabs from Draco’s nails on the outer edge of his butt cheeks. Draco had tried to heal them, but he had sensed Harry’s sadness and had stopped. Harry hated going against what Draco wanted, but he couldn’t help how much he liked the marks. They made him feel strong, loved. They reminded him on a very real level what Draco was capable of. 

It was a huge comfort to know that all of that force was being directed at keeping them safe and happy. With Draco taking the lead, things would work out. They’d be okay. Feeling the dull throb and sting of the marks that Draco had left on his body and the collar snug to his throat… They let him breathe easy, helped keep Harry’s constant anxiety at bay.

Freshly dressed and feeling stronger, Harry looked deep into Draco’s eyes. “Thank you,” he whispered with full-hearted sincerity. 

Draco smiled that soft smile only Harry ever saw and gently kissed Harry’s lips. “Come on. We have Charms next.”

Using Harry’s map, they made it to the classroom in fifteen minutes and were the first to arrive.

“Good morning, boys,” a small, high voice said from the front of the room.

“Good morning, Professor,” Draco and Harry answered back simultaneously, surprised by their professor’s appearance.

The man was small. Barely over three feet, he was standing on what looked like a pile of thick, hardback books to see over his desk. A shock of white hair surrounded his head and face. He wore sky blue robes and a matching pointed hat with its tip folding over. His smile was kind. 

“Welcome to my class. I’m Professor Flitwick. Please, sit anywhere you feel comfortable. I’m surprised you made it so quickly, considering you came from the dungeons.” He gave them a playfully stern look. “You don’t already know the whereabouts of secret passages, do you?”

Draco shook his head with a smile. “No, sir. We were dismissed early from Potions.”

“I see.” A worried look came over his face.

“We won’t cause any trouble,” Harry assured him, thinking the professor was afraid they were troublemakers.

“Unless you start it first,” Draco muttered almost too low to hear. He was still unhappy about Potions. He couldn’t understand why Snape had been so vicious, but Draco wouldn’t be pushed around by anyone, so he had pushed back. Of course, he still had the problem of pushing back harder than necessary, but Snape of all people knew that.

“Oh, dear,” Flitwick murmured. “I wouldn’t dream of thinking you were.” There was a moment of silence as the little professor considered them. “I suggest you talk to Headmaster Dumbledore if certain things are going to interfere with your education. I would also contact your parents. It is not productive to suffer in silence, my boys. Remember that.”

Harry smiled sweetly. “Thank you, sir. We will remember.”

Draco tilted his head thoughtfully. Maybe he should contact the Malfoys. Was that what Snape had hoped he’d do? If it was what a “normal” child would do, then he should adhere to that, shouldn’t he? As his mind raced, Draco very carefully kept this expression and body language calm. He didn’t want to put stress on Harry, not when his boy was still floating in a very relaxed mental space.

Hermione with her map led the way for the other Gryffindor First years. It made Draco smirk, knowing how dead set Ron had been against it and yet here he was following Hermione around. The group hesitated in the doorway, eyes wide when they caught sight of Draco and Harry. Then they all hurried forward.

“I think you’re dead, mate,” Ron exclaimed. “Snape is gonna kill you.”

“Why would you sit at his desk?” Hermione demanded, clearly scandalized. “What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking there were no other desks. What was I supposed to do?” Draco calmly asked.

“Ask for a new desk!” Lavender hissed at him.

“We’re down seventy-five points in the first day,” Seamus added hotly. “The upper years are going to be cheesed off!”

Draco actually hadn’t considered that angle and frowned. He was on thin ice with Gryffindor, this wasn’t going to help. “Snape was clearly out to get me no matter what I did. I couldn’t have prevented it,” he argued. “I’ll fix it, okay?”

“Good morning, students!” Flitwick said a little louder for the third time. “I see we have quiet the energetic group. However, it is time to learn Charms, children.”

Everyone settled into seats and took notes on Professor Flitwick’s opening lecture, but the group of kids continued to shoot Draco glances throughout the class. Draco sighed and took strength in the - calm trust - that flowed through the bond. Harry wasn’t worried in the least. He was completely confident in Draco’s ability to handle this. Draco steeled himself, determined to make that the reality.

After Charms, the class made their way to the Great Hall, but Draco and Harry stepped off the stairs one floor early. 

Ron sighed loudly and asked, “Where are you going now?”

“To see the headmaster,” Draco answered with a cheeky smile, one hand hooking the bangs that had fallen around his face back behind his ear.

Ron called after them, “Try not to make things worse!”

“Acid pops,” Draco stated once they crossed the gargoyle corridor and stood in front of the Headmaster’s Guardian.

The gargoyle stepped aside and the two boys climbed the stairs to Dumbledore’s office. It was even more impressive than the last time Draco had seen it. Sunlight glinted off the items and figures twirling and whirling. Dust motes shimmered in sunbeams giving the area surrounding the old books a mystical feel. Harry’s - awe - made it seem so much more mysterious and majestic. 

“Good afternoon, boys. To what do I owe the pleasure?” Dumbledore asked cheerfully, standing behind his desk. He swept his hand forward to indicate the two chairs placed before it. “Lemon drop?”

Harry accepted with a quiet, “Thank you, sir.”

Dumbledore practically beamed, handing over the treat. “You are welcome, Harry,” he said and took a seat in his throne-like chair. “Now what can I do for you?”

“Sir, we had a bit of an altercation with Professor Snape this morning. He made unreasonable demands and made it clear he was displeased with our very presence. He took seventy points off us, gave us detention, and kicked us out of class. I was advised by Professor Flitwick to inform you and our guardians because, if this continues, it will interfere with our education. Potions is a core class, is it not?”

Dumbledore steepled his fingers in front of his face, looking at them seriously over his half-moon glasses. “I see.” He paused a moment to consider them. “I cannot say I am surprised that Professor Snape showed you disfavor. There are many reasons for him to do so. That he went so far tells me that you escalated things, my boy, and forced his hand so to speak.”

“You are saying this is my fault?” Draco asked quietly, mind working furiously as he tried to understand any subtler meanings behind Dumbledore’s words.

“You, my boy, are very… assertive,” Dumbledore answered carefully. “That is an asset in its place, but there are times when you have to weather the storm to conserve energy instead of fighting it.”

“I don’t understand,” Draco admitted and met the headmaster’s stare directly. “Snape will continue to attack me and I’m not supposed to react? To what purpose?”

Dumbledore set his hands down on the desk. He leaned forward and spoke very seriously. “You will have to trust there is a reason, my boy. It is not something I can reveal at this time. However, I do believe Severus hopes to make you bear the brunt of his performance to spare Harry as much as he can.”

Draco considered that, but he saw only one choice and it was the same one as this morning. “I can’t not react to him attacking and humiliating me, Headmaster. Especially if he comes after Harry.”

Dumbledore hummed and then offered, “If Severus keeps his act within the realm of an exacting taskmaster, is occasionally unfair, and uses intonation to convey his disfavor, would you be able to handle it without retaliating in front of the other students? He is your professor, Mr. Malfoy, and students aren’t permitted to be defiant.”

Draco lifted an eyebrow. “I don’t understand. Why did you let me go to Gryffindor if you don’t want me to be defiant?”

Dumbledore chuckled, eyes sparkling. “Choosing your fate isn’t defiance, Mr. Malfoy. We are what our choices make of us. I am pleased you would choose the Light.”

Draco stared. What the fuck was that crap? Surely the headmaster wasn’t really that naive, was he? Just because Draco was in Gryffindor didn’t make him some champion of Goodness and Light. Nor did Slytherin mean evil. Draco knew from painful experience that someone who looked nice could be horribly evil, and someone who appeared dangerous could be kind. The worst, or best depending how you looked at it, Death Eaters would not be Slytherin. They were the ones who could hide who they truly were and so cause more damage to the unsuspecting.

“What about the point system?” Harry spoke up for the first time as Draco sat thinking. He kept his voice and demeanor as polite as possible. “Seventy points from Gryffindor in a single period is too much. Gryffindor won’t tolerate that.” Or tolerate Draco, he thought - worried.

“I believe you will be surprised.” Dumbledore smiled so wide they could see his teeth through his beard. “Gryffindor will stand by their own. Now, I believe it would be best to summon Andromeda. She can be seen eating with us tonight at dinner and it will lend credence as to why Severus has to be a little more discrete about his supposed dislike.”

Draco gave Harry’s hand a squeeze, silently telling him he would handle the point thing and was rewarded by the worry simmering through the bond dissolving. Standing, he politely asked, “May I use your floo?”

“Of course, my boy.” Dumbledore rose form his seat and came around his desk. He led Draco to the fireplace and offered him some floo powder from the mantle. His cheerful demeanor dimmed, however, when Draco called, “Malfoy Manor, Wiltshire.”

Draco calmly explained before he put his head in the fire, “Andromeda has been spared most of the ‘Lost Boys’ fervor. I want her in the public eye as little as possible. Besides, Lucius is the more intimidating presence and on the Hogwarts’ Board of Governors.”

Dumbledore gave Harry a look. The messy-haired boy stood a few paces back from the fireplace and seemed completely at ease. Dumbledore sighed and resigned himself to dealing with Lucius. He waited longer than he’d expected, Draco’s conversation with his father lasting about five minutes. 

They couldn’t hear them from this end and Dumbledore wondered what exactly Draco had to say that would take so long, and then he realized the boy probably had to explain why he was in Gryffindor in the first place. That brought a cheerful smile back to Dumbledore’s face. It always felt so satisfying to purloin the children of Dark families to the side of the Light.

Draco finally pulled his head from the floo and out stepped Lucius Malfoy, regal and cold, cane in hand and his long hair tied back with a thin silk ribbon. Dumbledore twinkled at him, but was disappointed to see a non-flustered smile upon Lord Malfoy’s face.

Lucius’s grey eyes settled on Harry. “Congratulations on Gryffindor,” he said with a polite nod. “I am sure your birth parents would be pleased.”

“Thank you, Lucius,” Harry answered with a smile.

Dumbledore kept his expression pleasant, but inside he was deeply suspicious at the easiness between the two. 

Lucius turned to his old enemy. “Headmaster, I believe we have to discuss the conduct of one of your teachers.”

Draco held out his hand. “Come on, Harry.” 

Harry took it obediently and followed him out of the office. 

“We missed lunch, but we have a free period before Magical Theory. Dora gave me the directions to the kitchens,” Draco explained. He didn’t like it when Harry missed meals. He’d taken the Healer’s warnings about the negative effects of malnutrition to heart.

Narcissa watched her husband floo away to deal with the situation at Hogwarts and her relaxed posture filled with tension. This was her chance. Lucius would be gone for several hours. She’d known as soon as he had shown her his bare arm that he was hiding something big from her. There was no other reason to keep her in the dark regarding the ritual and it was very telling that he was careful not to name the exact ritual he’d used.

She went directly toward the dungeons. It was where they had a ready ritual room and altar. She had used it every year for the blood ritual to try and find their son. It was the most logical place to begin to look for clues. She didn’t, however, expect to turn around, just remembering the letter she had wanted to write to Mrs. Parkinson…. 

Narcissa stopped and narrowed her eyes dangerously. There was a subtle Forgetfulness Ward to repel those trying to enter the dungeon. She broke it easily and then had to face Lottie who tried to bar her entrance. Narcissa had Dobby restrain and gag her, much to Dobby’s distress. Her heart beat a mile a minute as she descended into the dark. A Lumos lit the way and she found herself standing tensely in front of a warded and sealed cell door. Lucius was keeping a prisoner. Taking a deep breath, she gathered her strength and readied her wand, determined to break open her husband's secret.

… 

Magical Theory went as well as could be supposed. The First years were still on edge, especially as Draco merely shrugged when they demanded to know what he’d done to “fix” things. Harry did his best to get conversation flowing and away from the topic of Snape, but despite his best efforts it was stilted and stiff. They were just about to enter the Great Hall for dinner when someone grabbed Draco by the robe collar and spun him around, slamming his back against the stone wall. The girls gasped, Lavender actually giving a short, sharp scream. 

A heavy-set Gryffindor Sixth year put his face into Draco’s and growled, “I know what you are, Malfoy. A Slytherin spy sent to sink us.”

Draco, head throbbing from where it had impacted the wall, grit his teeth. He was just barely managing to keep his magic in check. Don’t kill the kid, no maiming… he reminded himself forcefully, but it was hard because his adrenaline had spiked with the pain and his heart was slamming against his ribs.

“Get off him!” Harry yelled, filled with - protective rage, and charged forward, green eyes blazing behind his glasses. He drew up short when the teen leveled his wand right at his face with his free hand and four other Gryffindor upperclassmen appeared out of the shadows at the thug’s back. 

Draco slammed his wrist into the bully’s, forcing him to let go. His white-blond hair had fallen to frame his face and his eyes seemed to glitter in the low light. He was practically half the older teen’s height, but his glare gave the boy pause. “Snape had it out for me. There wasn’t anything I could do.”

“You should have seen him sit at Snape’s desk,” Ron chimed in desperately. His shock of red hair seemed even brighter against his pale, anxious face, his freckles standing out boldly. Ron held tightly onto Harry’s arm to keep him from doing anything stupid. Heart thundering, he managed a squeaky, nervous laugh. “Snape looked like he was going to explode! It was great!”

They didn’t seem impressed and took a threatening step closer to their group, looks of hatred and fury on their face when a loud burst of laughter came behind the gang. 

Fred and George pushed past the older teens, grinning ear to ear. “I’d’ve loved to see that, Forge!” “Can you believe the balls on this one, Gred?” Somehow they insinuated their way to Draco’s side and flung their arms over his shoulders.

“I’m getting those points back,” Draco promised darkly, still glaring up at the gang leader. “I already talked to Dumbledore.”

“Took on Snape and won!” George cheered, pulling Draco toward the Great Hall doors. 

“He’s a right champion!” Fred exclaimed loudly. “A hero!”

The First years hurried after them, leaving the angry teens behind. George and Fred were singing some kind of hero’s song, putting Draco’s name in for the hero, but Draco was intensely aware that most of the Gryffindors sitting at the table were not amused. A few who had to be the twins’ friends were on board and clapping Draco’s back, but they were just a dozen out of a hundred and fifty. 

The twins pulled Draco and Harry down onto the bench seat and sat one on either side of the two smaller boys. They weren’t big themselves, only Third years, but it was clear they were making a statement that Draco and Harry were under their protection. 

Percy joined them, sitting across from Draco, and gave a subtle nod to his younger twin brothers. Draco had the intuition that Percy had asked the twins to keep an eye out for them, and he gave the older teen an approving smile. They were also joined by three girls and Kell’s older brother, Lee. The rest of the First years filled the seats around them. They had clearly decided to stick with Draco against common enemies: Snape and bullies.

“Who’s that eating next to Dumbledore?” one of the older girls asked, pointing to the Head Table. “He’s hot!”

Draco looked over and smirked. “That’s Lucius Malfoy.”

Fred and George whistled. “You’re not messing around!” they said together.

“Snape’s done for!” Ron crowed, potatoes half-filling his mouth.

“Who were those guys?” Harry demanded, heart still racing from the attack.

“Some Gryffindor fanatics,” Percy answered softly.

“Nothing wrong with House pride,” was Lee’s opinion, his dreads bouncing as he defended his plate from his little sister who was trying to steal his perfectly buttered roll.

“Nothing at all,” Fred said slyly, brown eyes bright with mischief. 

“And we might help him show some,” George added with an evil grin.

The girls giggled nervously while the older boys looked a little pale.

Draco showed an equally fierce show of teeth. “I’m in!”

Fred ruffled Draco’s soft blond hair, much to the boy’s disgust. “Nah! It’ll look like you’re really against Gryffindor like they said if you helped.”

“Leave the pranking to us,” George agreed. “You keep doing what you’re doing.”

“And what’s that?” Draco asked, fixing his hair with a huff.

“Why rocking the boat of course!” the twins exclaimed together.

Word spread quickly that a very serious and attractive Lord Lucius Malfoy was eating at the Head Table with Headmaster Dumbledore. It was also noted that Professor Snape was not in attendance. The Slytherin table was unusually quiet, their expressions studiously blank except for the younger years who looked worried and confused. 

Toward the end of the meal, Professor McGonagall approached their table and told them that they were wanted in the Headmaster’s office. Draco and Harry rose, school bags on their shoulders, and made their way to the Headmaster’s Tower. Lucius was waiting for them at the fireplace. He gave the boys a cool smile and a nod of his head. “I look forward to your letters home. Make our family proud.” He took each boy by the shoulder and squeezed lightly before turning to the floo, his cane clicking on the floor.

“Thank you,” Draco said softly.

Lucius turned back and gave Draco a daring smile, and then he was gone.

Dumbledore cleared his throat, eyes twinkling like mad. “The point counters have been corrected. Any points taken from you during Potions today has been returned. The detentions stand, however. Hop to. You don’t want to be late. Professor Snape is expecting you seven-fifteen sharp.”

“Thank you, Headmaster,” Harry said politely as Draco led him from the room by his hand. 

… 

Lucius stepped out of the floo feeling buoyant. Making that Vow and removing the Dark Mark made him feel new, and the reward was great indeed: a clean start with his son. Draco had called on him for protection! His enthusiasm deflated instantly when he spotted Narcissa sitting in one of the receiving room’s chairs. Her dress was torn, her hair had half-fallen from its knot, soot smudged her skin, her hands bore burns, but it was her eyes, burning with blue fury, that drew him up short.

“I have to ask myself… Why would my husband so strongly ward a cell in the dungeon? Who could he possibly be warding against… except for me?” Narcissa spoke with quiet force, slowly getting to her feet. “Such dangerous and painful wards… with only me in mind.”

“Narcissa…” Lucius said weakly. 

Injuring her had not at all been his intent when he’d constructed those wards, but he couldn’t argue with her reasoning. It was logical. There was no one else in the house to ward against but her. She would not believe him if he told her he’d been afraid of someone else breaking in to rescue his prisoner. How would they even know his prisoner was there? How would they get through the manor’s wards? He perhaps hadn’t thought it all the way through when he placed those wards on the cell door. He was honestly horrified that Narcissa was so wounded by spells he’d laid down.

“Such strange behavior… Keeping from your wife a potentially fatal ritual… A ritual you would not name… It made me wonder what the components of that ritual had been…” She continued in that soft, dangerous voice as she took one slow, small step toward him after another. She finally stood directly in front of him and looked coldly up into his eyes. “And what do I find… hidden away in the dark… but my sister! The sister I have mourned since I got news of her death in Azkaban!”

“Your sister stole Draco from you. From us,” Lucius told her ruthlessly. “She took your son away and left him vulnerable. To be enslaved and tortured by filthy Muggle men.”

Narcissa was unimpressed. “Get on your knees, Lucius. I want to look down at you.”

Lucius’s eyes flared wide. His head reared back in instinctual refusal… But then he calmed himself and sank to his knees. He owed her penance. 

Narcissa stared down at him, expression as hard and unyielding as stone. “Her crimes were against my son as much as yours, Lucius, and you denied me knowledge. That is your first wrong against me. Denied me a chance at revenge. That is your second. You then held someone of my blood and inflicted torture without my consent. Your third wrong. How long, Lucius? She could not tell me for certain.”

“Eight months,” he answered quietly. 

Narcissa let silence fill the room. Lucius knelt before her, his fine robes pooling on the floor, his cane discarded, but he remained unbowed. She’d see about that. “You let me believe she was dead…” Her voice was raw with pain. Tears streaked her face and it made her look all the more ferocious. “What was it?”

“A golem,” he answered softly, pale-faced as he looked up at her. 

The pain was terrible, but then she masked it. Cold as ice, she said slowly and with precision, “You owe me obedience, Lucius. Do you remember?” She caressed her cheek where he had struck her all those years ago, bruising her skin.

Lucius tensed. “Are you calling in my debt?”

Narcissa smiled and it was a terrifying expression. “Yes, Lucius. I am. You will relinquish all rights of vengeance against Bellatrix Black. You will place her under my authority. Should you wish to have further dealings with her, you will have to go through me. Do you accept?”

Lucius grit his teeth. The storm of hate inside him howled at the thought of Bellatrix going free. He was about to refuse when he saw his wife through the red of his rage. Narcissa, fair and strong, beautiful and clever… and terribly hurt by him. She was the woman he would forever be devoted to. His beloved wife. He loved her, dearly, and she was asking him to honor the promises and debts between them. If he could not, he’d lose her completely.

It pained him, his neck practically creaked it was so tense, but he bent his head and said, “Yes.”

Draco stood outside the Potions classroom. He wasn’t sure what to expect. How much had been an act Snape had to put on and how much was real? Dumbledore couldn’t convince him that there hadn’t been some truth in Snape’s rage. He gave Harry a look. His boy stood beside him with only a little worry tainting his calm. Taking a deep breath, he steeled himself and knocked.

“Enter!” Snape’s voice called angrily.

Draco pushed open the door and the two boy stepped inside. It was even darker than during the day, but not so dark that they couldn’t see. Snape stood in front of his desk, his arms folded, skin a sallow white, with a fierce glare. 

“Sit at the first desk. I have your task prepared for you,” Snape said with soft malevolence. With a pointed look at Harry, he added, “I hope that is explicit enough for you, Mr. Potter.”

Draco felt irritation crawl under his skin. He wanted to snap and growl, but he forced himself to remain silent. It had been so long since he'd had to endure a bad situation without actively fighting back. This was nowhere near as bad as the torture he’d faced at Raymond’s hands, but the parallel made him jumpy as hell.

“Yes, sir,” Harry answered easily. 

Snape’s hostility did not bother him. Obeying simple tasks was comforting for him. He shot Draco a concerned glance, knowing it wasn’t the same for the blond. Draco gave him a tight smile and led him toward the front of the room. A pile of dead lizard-type creatures were placed on the desk. The creature was a dark, muddy green and extremely slimy. Sharp silver scalpels were placed beside the pile. 

“You will be dissecting these for ingredients,” Snape told them with heavy impatience. He demonstrated how to remove the eyes, tongue, skin, and tail. The rest he diced, explaining as if to very stupid people what exactly “diced” meant. “There are two more baskets. I suggest you get started. You won’t be leaving until you’re done.”

“Yes, sir,” Harry said again and began. 

Draco copied him and used his bangs to conceal his angry glare.

They had only been working for about ten minutes, the disgusting smell and texture of the lizard’s slime making both boys feel nauseous when Snape suddenly slammed his hand on the teacher’s desk. Harry jumped and Draco bunched his shoulders up defensively, trying to restrain a growl.

“Our listeners are gone,” Snape snapped furiously. “Children have the patience of a gnat!” He stood up and strode threateningly toward their desk. “I had hoped you had matured, Draco, but instead you’re the same arrogant little bastard you were two years ago! Flaunting the rules, choosing your own House, refusing to respect any sort of authority…!”

Draco tossed his head to part the curtain of his hair and met Snape glare for glare. “I have good reason to want to be in Gryffindor and you know it!”

“Good reason!” Snape scoffed, black eyes glittering with malice. “Your reasons and wants do not supersede society! You’re a child! Know your place!”

“My place is to ensure Harry’s survival and comfort! That’s the only thing that matters!”

“It’s not the only thing that matters, you imbecile!”

“Stop,” Harry begged. Tears fell down his cheeks, his voice a soft plea. “Please, Professor Snape.” Black eyes burned into him, but Harry met the cold stare with a gentle expression. “Draco is Draco. We’d be dead if he were anyone less, don’t you see?”

Draco slid his fingers into Harry’s wild hair and pulled the boy close, letting Harry rest his head on his shoulder as he wiped at his eyes.

Severus spun, keeping his back to the boys. His hands fisted at his sides. A few minutes passed before he was able to face the children again. “I apologize, Harry. I am… frustrated.” He met Draco’s guarded eyes. “Today did not have to become such a battle. A little taunting and you would have been able to continue class. Instead you challenged me and things escalated. One day you will challenge the wrong person and the backlash will be more than you can handle.”

Draco opened his mouth to say he’d always handle it, but Snape held up his hand to cut him off.

“You’re too arrogant, too arrogant by far. It’s dangerous. You have Harry to think of.”

“I always think of Harry,” Draco countered, voice low and rough.

Snape glared, frustration rushing back. “You’re in for a fall, Draco, and it will be Harry who suffers for it.” He strode past them, robes flaring around his ankles. “Finish your detention and go.” The classroom door slammed shut behind him.

Draco forced his shoulders and hands to relax, Harry’s - concern - a constant itch under his skin. “Snape’ll understand in time,” he offered. Forcefully hooking his bangs behind his ears, he turned back to the task at hand. “Let’s get this done.”

“Yes, Draco,” Harry answered obediently. 

As he worked side-by-side with Draco in the quiet, dimly lit classroom, Harry slowly felt a swell of hot determination begin to burn through his veins. His whole purpose in life was serving and caring for Draco. He couldn’t do much for Draco as he was, but Harry would get stronger, he’d study hard, and then everyone would know, even Snape, that if Draco ever did fall, Harry would be there to save him. 

… 

Ron lifted his head off the side of the couch arm where he’d kind of folded an hour ago as the portrait swung open. Most of the House was up in the dorm rooms, but the First year Gryffindor boys plus Hermione and Percy had stayed in the common room to wait. Draco and Harry walked in and with them came the most awful smell. “Whew! What did he have you doing?” Ron demanded, pinching his nose.

“Cutting up these lizard things,” Draco answered tiredly. His hair had fallen around his face and he hadn’t bothered trying to tuck it back behind his ears. “We washed our hands three times and they still smell.”

“How many of them were there?” Hermione asked curiously. “You were gone hours! It’s past curfew.”

“Hundreds,” Draco told her with a grimace. “We’re going to get a shower and go to bed. You didn’t have to wait up.”

Ron, Dean, and Seamus gave some encouraging and/or sympathizing words as they made their way up to their dorms. Draco and Harry binned their dirty clothes and pulled on their night robes before heading to the bathroom. Neville was nice enough not to complain about the smell coming off the dirty clothes. There wasn’t anything they could do about it.

Percy was waiting in the bathroom. “This ointment will clean all the remaining residue from your hands,” he told Draco softly, pushing his glasses up his nose much the way Harry did.

Draco felt a surge of affection for the teen as he accepted the jar. “Thank you, Percy. I really appreciate it.”

Percy nodded his head and slipped out of the bathroom, giving them privacy.

Chapter end.

A/N: Any ideas for pranks to pull on the Gryffindor bullies and/or Slytherins who are still pissed, I’d really appreciate hearing them. Also, I’d love some feedback on a Gryffindor Draco. What would you like most to see or have me take advantage of? What do you not want to see? I need a few kick-starting ideas because I’m hitting writer’s block. I give you my thanks in advance!

A/N: Pixi56 has added two new art to Chapter 3. It shows the boys in the Hold and they are very impactful. Please check them out and leave comments if you can. :D Thank you so much! It really is amazing art. 

Chapter Text

A/N: Fan Art!!

Just a reminder that Pixi56 on AO3 has created amazing art for Freedom Found in Chains. Two more drawings have been added to Chapter 3 of the boys in the Hold and they are very moving. It really is amazing. Check it out and leave comments if you can.

Also, there is some instagram art by @princeoftheundead for the story. Look up #sensiblytainted. If you have a moment, check it out and leave comments and likes. :D

A/N2: Happy Birthday, Harry! Here is an extra update in your honor!

The Second Day

Draco sat up with a gasp. It was dark, the room lit by the oil lamps. Neville stood nervously by their bed, holding the curtains open. Draco instinctively held his arm over Harry protectively. “What?” he asked gruffly, head full of cotton.

“I-it’s almost m-midnight,” Neville stuttered quietly, eyes wide with fear.

Draco growled. Midnight? They’d been held until after curfew for Snape’s detention and had only gotten to bed after quick showers less than an hour ago. “The fuck?” Slowly it dawned on him that the chubby boy was wearing his school clothes. Draco distinctly remembered seeing the boy in pajamas before going to bed.

“We h-have A-astronomy,” Neville answered weakly.

Harry suddenly sat bolt upright - anxiety guilt. “I’m so sorry, Draco! I totally forgot.” He scrambled out of bed. “Thank you for waking us up, Neville,” he said in a rush, handing Draco clothes and practically flying into some of his own. He pulled on slacks without bothering with his socks and shoved his bare feet into his shoes.

“Shit,” Draco said grumpily, pulling on the jeans and t-shirt Harry had given him. He left his school robes hanging open and didn’t bother with a tie. He finished putting everything they’d need for class into their bags while Harry knotted his tie and buttoned up his school robe.

Neville waited nervously for his roommates, holding tightly to the old telescope his grandmother had given him. (He wasn’t trusted with anything new as he’d likely break it.) 

Roughly three minutes later Draco swung his bag over his shoulder and took up one of the two very expensive telescopes Narcissa had purchased for them. “Thanks, Neville. You were really helpful.” 

Neville blushed red with a happy smile and followed them down to where the rest of the First years were waiting, huge yawns held behind their hands. 

Draco bumped Ron’s shoulder. “You didn’t have to wait up after our detention, especially as we have Astronomy.”

“Wan’ned to make sure Snape didn’t kill ya,” Ron muttered sleepily. 

Hermione and Harry took the lead as they had the maps. Draco ended up carrying Harry’s telescope as well as his own while Neville carried Hermione’s. There was a brief argument about which turn to take to get to the Astronomy Tower, but it was quickly settled. Ten minutes later, they climbed a tiny, narrow staircase built into the side of the tower and stepped out onto the roof where the other First years were already standing huddled against the cold wind. 

The roof of this particular tower was flat and round, made from the same rough grey stone as the rest of the castle. Square half-walls surrounded them, reminding Draco and Harry of pumpkin teeth. The gap between each square “tooth” was wide enough to let a kid slip through to fall to their death. There were no torches, but there were a few oil lamps placed on the floor at each half-wall next to the gaps.

“Good evening, children,” the professor said, standing frighteningly close to one of the gaps. She was tall and willowy with a beautiful, deep voice. Her skin was a dark brown, which helped her blend into the night, but she wore silver robes that had stars and constellations embroidered on them making her easy to see. “Now that the Gryffindors have joined us, we can begin. Please pick a gap in the wall and set up your telescopes.”

There was some hesitation, but slowly the First years moved toward the wall and placed their telescopes down. Draco gave a nod to Pansy, Vince, and Greg. The two boys returned the gesture with smiles, but Pansy turned away, expression blank. Draco ignored her. 

“Welcome to Astronomy. My name is Professor Sinistra. We will chart constellations, study planet rotations and compositions, and memorize the stars among other things.”

The adrenaline of being woken by Neville and almost arriving late to class wore off quickly. The sky was beautiful, but it was cold and they were tired. By the end of the ninety minute class, they were so tired they dragged their feet and telescopes back to Gryffindor Tower almost half-asleep. 

It was close to three in the morning. Draco let his school robe fall to the floor, kicked off his shoes, and flopped onto his bed belly-first without undressing. Harry picked up the robe and hung it next to his own in the closet. Quickly pulling on one of the large t-shirts they had for sleeping, he crawled in next to Draco who was already sound asleep.

Five hours later, their alarm got them up at eight, several hours later than they were used to waking. They hurried through their morning routine to get to breakfast before it closed at nine. They weren’t the only ones groggy and grumpy. In fact, the only cheerful First years at the table were Seamus, because nothing seemed to get that boy down long, and Fay, who was practically bouncing in her seat with excitement for their flying class that afternoon. 

“It’ll be my first time on a broom with all safety restrictions off,” she told Kell excitedly. 

“Yeah, you told me,” the girl said with a grimace.

“Who schedules flying after a midnight class?” Hermione grumbled. Her brown hair was even frizzier today than normal, a sure sign of nerves. “When you’re tired, you’re more likely to make mistakes.”

“Maybe they want us a bit tired so we’re not so unmanageable,” Draco reasoned. “It’s the only thing I can think of.”

Hermione and Ron made a face at that; Hermione because she didn’t see how anyone could be excited for flying on a broom no matter the circumstances and Ron because he hated that the teachers were trying to put a damper on something he loved.

“We have Defense first,” Dean pointed out.

“Hope it goes better than Double Potions,” Seamus said with a grin and took a big bite of a breakfast biscuit. 

Draco scowled down at his food. “Don’t remind me.”

Unlike the four core classes of Charms, Potions, Transfiguration, and Herbology, which had a single class a week that was exclusive to each House for intensive study, all the rest of their classes were shared with one other House to make the average class size about twenty students. The exceptions were Astronomy and Flying, which consisted of all the First years together. 

The Gryffindors shared Xylomancy and Herbology with Hufflepuff; Potions, Magical Theory, and Defense with Slytherin; Charms, Transfiguration, and History of Magic with Ravenclaw. That meant they were paired with Slytherin again for their first class of the day. Draco hoped that wasn’t a bad omen.

They arrived about at the same time as the Slytherin students, but there was no time for another conflict with Pansy as the classroom door was already open and a strong smell of garlic wafted out from it. Curious, they walked in to see a tall, wide room. 

The left wall had three large, arched windows, but they were darkened with some kind of spell, casting the room in shadow. Torches were lit intermittently along the right wall. At the back of the room there were stairs that led up to a round balcony with a door that presumably led to the professor’s office. Bats and other strange, ominous creatures hung from the ceiling. Paintings of wizards dueling were placed along the walls. On the teacher’s desk in front of the blackboard sat a bright green iguana. Draco noticed right away that there was a spot for three at the front desk on the Gryffindor side of the room. 

Ron shot Draco a grin. “Come on. Let’s see if I can keep you out of trouble, then,” he said and led the way to the three-person desk.

Bemused, Draco followed with Harry.

They were still settling into their desks when the door at the top of the stairs opened and a pale man with a faded purple turban appeared. “S-sorry I’m l-late. I w-was f-finishing some l-last m-minute pr-pr-pre-preparati-tions,” the man said with a strained smile.

Draco’s eyebrows lifted and he shared a look of disbelief with Ron. Harry clutched at his scar. A pervading ache resonated through the bond. Draco's heart rate picked up and he focused with hawk-like intensity on the seemingly pathetic man. The professor positioned himself at the front of the room, too close to Harry for Draco’s liking, way too close, and lifted the iguana to his shoulder.

Professor Quirrell stuttered his way through the syllabus for the year. Nothing strange happened. In fact, it was hard for most of the class to stay awake. They’d had a late night, the room was shadowed, and the professor was ridiculous and hard to understand. Quite a few of them would have fallen asleep, including Ron, except for the aggravating and constant smell of garlic. Draco wasn’t fooled. His heart pumped with clear purpose. Quirrell was linked to the Dark Lord somehow and that made him an enemy to destroy.

“Wha’s a matter?” Ron asked with a yawn as they filed out of the room. 

Harry was quiet, his head still hurting, but the further they got from Defense, the better he felt. He had ignored the ache and had taken notes carefully on everything the professor had said, determined to do well in all his classes. In fact, he was determined to stay as far from Professor Quirrell as he could. The man made him feel like he should run and hide, and he knew Draco had picked up on it. Harry felt terrible about messing up another class for Draco - guilt anxiety.

* Don’t worry about it, Harry. I’ll take care of everything, * Draco promised, putting the bite of an order behind his words. 

Harry ducked this head - submission trust regret.

Out loud Draco answered Ron, “Nothing.”

Ron eyed Draco suspiciously with a scowl. “What’re you planning?”

Draco didn’t answer, staring back at the redhead with a blank expression.

Harry looked between the two boys and put on a bright smile. “We have Xylomancy next. What do you think it’s going to be like? It sounds so interesting. Do you think we’ll really be able to tell the future?” 

Draco softened as Harry’s honest - curiosity - filled him with what felt like gentle sunbeams. He ruffled the boy’s hair, the tension in his shoulders and face relaxing. “I guess we’ll find out.”

Xylomancy was held in a courtyard on the west side. It was large with benches along the courtyard walls. An older man with olive skin and thick black hair that fell to his shoulders sat on a bench placed directly in the center of the courtyard. 

“Welcome students,” he greeted them. “I am Professor Mopsus. Please pair up and take a seat.”

There were an odd number of Hufflepuffs as well as Gryffindors, so that meant there would be one Hufflepuff and Gryffindor paired. Ron made a bit of a face as he was the odd one out and had to share a bench with Hufflepuff Justin Warrington-Pleasant. 

Green vines and flowers grew along the walls. White stones were placed onto soft grass to form paths to each bench from the castle door. The sun was warm as it filled the courtyard, sitting directly above their heads. Mopsus had one dark brown eye and one blue. He watched them with a strangely knowing expression. An aura of serenity emanated from his tall, thin frame. Even his robes were a soothing, natural green and brown. 

“Xylomancy, like most divinatory systems, is quiet ancient and has been practiced since time immemorial. Derived from the Greek xylo, meaning wood, and manteia, meaning divination, it is the art and practice of divining the past, the present, and the future by interpreting the omens from twigs, pieces of wood, or fallen tree branches. Those who are most skilled can even divine the future from the arrangement of logs in the fireplace.”

The deep, solemn voice drew them in and soon every single one of them were taking notes quite seriously whether or not they were believers. At the end of class, Professor Mopsus gave them the assignment to memorize the generic meanings of the common positions of fallen wood before their next class on Monday.

The First years talked excitedly about the class and the ability to potentially see the future as they went to lunch. There were a lot of laughs about what things they’d want to know and what things they wouldn’t and a lot of jokes as they playfully made predictions about each other. Draco left early, however, hardly touching his food when he noticed that Quirrell had failed to show up to the meal. 

“I’ll meet you at Transifguration,” he told Harry, getting up from the bench. 

“Wait.” Harry pulled the school map from his bag and handed it to him. “We’ll use Hermione’s.”

Draco gave him a smile before ordering, “Clean your plate, Harry.”

“Yes, Draco,” he said quietly.

As Draco left them, Ron gave Harry a curious look. “Where do you think he’s going?”

“I don’t know.” Harry covered his - worry - with a smile. “I bet if we were good at Xylomancy we could find out.”

“Maybe he had to go number two,” Seamus said with a loud laugh, making Dean snort and the girls wrinkle their noses.

… 

Draco made his way carefully back to Defense. The classroom was left unlocked and he slipped inside after carefully listening at the door to make sure there wasn’t a class running late or something. His heart beat hard against his ribs. Every sound seemed like a roar in his ears, the smell of garlic was overwhelming, and every little change in the air made the hair on his arms stand on end. He crept as silently as he could to the stairs, making use of the shadows created by the darkened windows. 

At the top, he put his ear to the door. He could hear two muffled voices, but he could only catch a few words of Quirrell’s. Something about growing weaker and being patient. When the voices fell silent, Draco quickly hurried down the stairs and was almost spotted. He hid beneath them as Quirrell came down. The man was shaking, clearly upset. He left the classroom completely and slammed the door behind him. 

Sweat rolling down his neck, Draco held perfectly still, but he couldn’t sense anyone else up in the office nor did anyone follow after Quirrell for several minutes. Draco was excruciatingly aware of the time. Lunch was drawing to a close or had finished already. Soon a class would arrive as well as the professor. He had to move. He couldn’t wait for whoever was still in the office, if they were there at all. 

Harry waited anxiously for Draco to arrive. The blond was a few minutes late already, but fortunately the professor wasn’t there yet, either. The class was with the Gryffindor First years only for their intensive class. Seamus was grumbling about Draco losing them another hundred points.

“If he did, he’d get them back for us,” Harry assured the Irish boy, eyes still on the door. 

Draco strode in as if he had no worries in the world. Harry’s whole body relaxed and he smiled happily as Draco took his place beside him. Ron and Seamus were about to question him when the cat who’d been lying on the floor jumped up on the desk and gave a loud yowl. They watched with wide eyes and gaping mouths as the cat leapt from the desk and transformed into a standing Professor McGonagall in midair. Now that they were looking for it, McGonagall’s thin, angular face and slightly slanted eyes did have a feline quality to them. 

“You are late, Mr. Malfoy,” she said dryly into the absolute silence.

“Sorry, professor. I got lost on my way back from the loo,” Draco answered with cool calm.

“Told you,” Seams hissed and was elbowed by Dean.

“See that it doesn’t happen again,” McGonagall told him sternly and turned to the blackboard. “Welcome to Transfiguration. I am Professor McGonagall. I suggest you pay attention in this class because Transfiguration is one of the most challenging fields of magic. If you fall behind, it will seem impossible as we move through the curriculum.”

There were distinctly mixed feelings as the bell rang. It was finally time for their first flying lesson. Fay practically ran out to the school’s side yard, pulling the rest of them after her. Flying was taken with all the First years together, so there was a large crowd gathered on the grass. 

A woman with short, grey hair and golden brown eyes strode through the group to stand in front of them. Four bundles of ten school broomsticks floated after her and landed on the grass. “Well, now,” she said with a cocky grin. “Welcome, children. Professor Hooch, here, and I will be teaching you lot how to fly on adult broomsticks. If any of you set one toe out of line, you’ll be off your broom before you can cry foul, you hear me?”

A loud murmur of agreement met her words.

“Good.” Putting her hands behind her back, she marched up and down their rudimentary line. “During this class, you will be asked to perform basic maneuvers upon a broom. I will demonstrate and then I will ask you to follow. There will be times I will ask you to return to the ground as I instruct those who need extra attention. Again, if you do not follow my instructions directly, you will be removed. Is that clear?”

Another murmured agreement from the group of students.

“Line up. Give each other space.” Hooch flicked her wand and the bundles of broom unraveled. “Everyone take a broom.”

There was a mad rush as the kids who were excited about flying hurried forward. Harry gave a happy grin and pulled Draco by the hand, much to the blond’s amusement. Harry loved flying. He wasn’t as excited as Fay, but he’d never ridden a broom without safety spells before and he was really looking forward to it. They ended up between Neville and Ron. Hermione stood on Neville’s other side, and both she and Neville looked distinctly nervous verging into terrified.

“Stand with your broom next to your dominant side. Place your hand over the broom and say up with determination,” Hooch instructed, continuing to march up and down.

“Up!” Harry called and the broom firmly smacked into his palm. He grinned triumphantly at Draco.

Draco smirked back, his broom also in his hand.

“Up. Up! UP!” Hermione was calling as the broom wobbled drunkenly upward.

Ron’s broom flew up with sudden force and smacked the redhead in the face. Seamus and Dean laughed, but Harry asked with concern, “Are you okay?”

“Fine, Harry,” Ron grumbled, blushing in embarrassment. “Oh, shut up, Seamus!”

The rest of the Houses had similar mixed successes, but once everyone had their broom in hand, Professor Hooch gave them the instruction to mount, kick off, hover, and then come back down. Unsurprisingly, Fay was in the air before the professor finished speaking.

“Miss Dunbar, come down this instant!” Professor Hooch called furiously. Fay did so with obvious reluctance. “What did I say about following my instructions, young lady? This is your very last warning before you turn in your broom and return to the castle for the day.”

“Yes, professor. I’m sorry,” the dark-haired girl answered, contrite.

“Now, on my whistle. Three, two…” but before she could blow the whistle, Neville floated off the ground. 

“Neville!” Hermione cried and reached out to grab the boy’s robes, but he was already too high.

“Come down here this instant!” Hooch ordered.

“Shit,” Draco muttered. This wasn’t going to end well.

Neville quickly lost control of the broom and his screams filled the air as he was tossed this way and that, slamming twice into the castle wall. Hooch had mounted her own broom and was chasing after him, casting a spell that sounded like “immobilus”, but Neville’s broom zigzagged as if it were alive and her spell kept missing. 

The girls screamed as Neville was suddenly yanked off his broom by a lance from a stone knight carved into the side of the castle near the roof. It pierced Neville’s school robe. Hooch was able to swoop in and slow his fall just as Neville plummeted about thirty feet to the ground. He hit hard, but not hard enough to kill him. Everyone rushed over, Hermione falling to her knees next to her foster brother. She gently held his head in her lap as he moaned in pain. 

“Out of the way!” Hooch called. She strode through them and knelt down, tisking. “Broken wrist.”

“We have to take him to the hospital!” Hermione demanded, tears falling down her cheeks.

“Alright, help me get him up.” Hooch grabbed one side, Hermione the other, and they got Neville to his feet. “I will return after taking Mr. Longbottom to the Infirmary. If any of you so much as touch your brooms while I’m gone, I’ll have you out of the castle by nightfall,” she threatened them menacingly.

As soon as she was out of hearing range, the Slytherins began to laugh. Theodore Nott bent down and picked up a round glass ball. Draco had seen Neville put it in his pocket every morning and knew it must be important to him.

“Give it here, Theodore,” he said calmly, stepping up to the thin boy. 

Draco knew him from the yearly balls Narcissa hosted. Theodore was a child from a Sacred line, Pureblood for dozens upon dozens of generations. There were only thirteen or so bloodlines remaining who qualified, much to Narcissa and Lucius’s horror. 

Theodore narrowed his eyes with surprising anger. “Don’t call me that, Malfoy. We’re not friends.”

Draco considered the other boy as the kids around them shouted this or that, eager to watch a fight. “No. We aren’t,” he said quietly. “But are we enemies, Nott?”

Theodore kicked off the ground, caring the glass ball with him. “I’m just going to leave this for that fat-ass to find. The roof, maybe.” He laughed meanly.

As the Slytherins laughed with Nott, Draco sighed and kicked off. Harry followed him up, much to Lavender and Parvati’s displeasure. 

“You’re going to get kicked out!” one said.

“You’ll fall!” cried the other.

“What’s your problem, Malfoy?” Nott spat. “You’re not the boss of me!”

“I just want the ball,” Draco countered, trying to be reasonable. “Give it here.”

“You want it so bad, then go and get it!” the boy hissed furiously and threw it with all his might.

Harry shot off after it. He moved so fast that the wind from his passing nearly knocked Draco and Theodore off their brooms. 

Draco’s mounting annoyance over people fighting him for no real purpose that he could see melt like ice under the hot sun as - exhilaration joy - speared through the bond, practically piercing his heart.

Harry had never flown so fast. He gave a joyful whoop as the wind roared in his ears and tugged at his clothes. Time seemed to slow and Harry kept his eyes pinned to the glint of sunshine off the glass edge of his target. Purpose gave him laser-like focus; Draco wants the ball.

The wall of the castle was rushing forward. Harry knew the ball would shatter if it hit. He put on a burst of speed and reached forward. Snatching it out of the air, he simultaneously leaned to the side and sat far back on the boom. The broom did a sharp fishtail and came to a stop, the bristles kissing one of the castle’s windows. 

- triumph pride - Harry flew back to Draco, holding Neville’s ball over his head in victory. His hair was a windblown mess, his cheeks were red, and his eyes were bright with adrenaline. 

The Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs practically mobbed him with cheers while the Ravenclaws clapped, acknowledging Harry’s skill on the broom. Ron and Seamus pounded on his back, exclaiming how bloody awesome he was, and Draco pressed in close to his boy’s side.

“Good job,” he praised quietly, whispering in Harry’s ear as he took the offered ball from the boy’s palm.

- joy love -

“Mr. Potter!” The shrill voice of Professor McGonagall silenced the group’s exuberance instantly. “Come with me!” She stood at the side door to the castle and looked as stern as ever. 

Harry stared at her with wide eyes, face gone suddenly pale. The words of Professor Hooch resonated in his mind, I’ll have you out of the castle by nightfall!

Draco took Harry’s hand, pocketing the glass ball. 

“Blimey,” Seamus muttered. “Got the worst luck!”

“Nah,” Ron countered with an eye roll. “Draco’s good at getting them outta trouble.”

“Professor McGonagall,” Draco began politely once they reached the witch.

“I don’t recall asking you to join us, Mr. Malfoy,” she interrupted with an arched eyebrow.

“I broke the same rules as Harry did,” Draco countered firmly. “If he’s going to suffer punishment, then I will, too.”

For a moment it seemed as if McGongall would deny him, but then she smiled warmly. “Truly a Gryffindor. Well, come on, then. I don’t suppose there’s any harm in you joining us.”

Draco gave Harry a reassuring smile and squeezed the boy’s trembling hand. Harry smiled back, his fear dissolving with relief. McGonagall wouldn’t have smiled if she was going to kick them out. Still, she set a fast past and they had to jog at times to keep up with her. 

Draco grew more intent when he realized they were headed to the Defense classroom. McGonagall told them to wait outside, but he peeked his head around to see Quirrell stuttering his lecture with his iguana in his arms and half the class asleep. Draco nearly growled as he felt the faint ache of Harry’s scar beginning to burn.

McGonagall returned with a Fifth-year Gryffindor and shut the classroom doors behind her. The teen had short, light brown hair and dark brown eyes. He looked down at Harry and Draco curiously.

“This is Oliver Wood,” McGonagall introduced quickly. She gave Oliver a smile. “Wood, I found our new Seeker,” she said and clasped Harry’s shoulder.

Draco’s eyebrows lifted.

“Yeah?” Oliver gave Harry a more interested look. “Come to the Quidditch Pitch tomorrow morning at six-thirty. I’ll give you a try.”

McGonagall looked pleased as punch. “Thank you, Wood. Now return to your class. I’ll return Malfoy and Potter.”

“Quidditch is dangerous,” Draco pointed out as they walked at a more reasonable pace back to their flying class.

“It is, but it’s not life threatening.” McGonagall waved away his concern. “It teaches important life lessons, and we didn’t win a single game last year. Haven’t won a single game since Charlie Weasley graduated.” She gave Harry a happy look. “He played Seeker.” Her expression softened. “Your father was quite exceptional, as well, although as a Chaser.”

Harry nodded, but most of his attention was on Draco, his eyes wide - curious anticipation.

Draco sighed. * I’ll think about it, * he told him through the bond.

Harry was perfectly satisfied with that answer, content to wait for Draco’s decision, but word spread quickly. At dinner, Harry congratulated by nearly the entirety of the House. They even gave Draco happy smiles and included him in the pre-celebration of Gryffindor’s future victories. It solidified Harry’s desire to play. Keeping Gryffindor happy with them was his job and playing Quidditch looked like the best way to do that. Of course, that put even more pressure on him to win. Nerves settled in Harry’s gut, but he wasn’t deterred. 

Once they reached the common room, Draco pulled away from the rowdy crowd still surrounding Harry. He found Percy and pulled him into a corner. “I need Professor Quirrell’s class schedule and background information.”

Percy nodded his head, but he looked puzzled. “Why Quirrell?”

Draco expression turned fierce. “I don’t know yet, but I will. When can you have it?”

“Tomorrow,” Percy answered quietly. Draco moved as if to join the others, but Percy grabbed his sleeve. “Let me know what’s going on as soon as you can, okay?”

Draco nodded, but he didn’t put much thought into it. He could handle this. He pushed his way through the crowd and took Harry by the hand. “It’s getting late. We still need to shower and we didn’t get much sleep last night. Don’t forget we have to meet Wood in the morning.”

- surprise happy

Draco ignored the names shouted after him by the rest of the House for going to bed early and headed to their dorm room. 

“You mean I can play?” Harry asked quietly once they were alone.

Draco turned and cupped Harry’s face in his hands, looking sternly into his eyes. “The minute I think it’s too dangerous…”

“Yes, Draco!” Harry agreed happily and flung his arms around Draco’s neck. “Thank you!”

Draco stroked his hair, smiling.

Harry pulled away to get their shower things ready and Draco’s mind returned to Quirrell. With Harry playing Quidditch, Draco would have time to figure out what was going on with their professor. 

A dangerous smile curled his lips, but he let the expression go when Harry turned to look at him curiously. “It’s nothing,” he said, not wanting to worry Harry about it. “Come on. Let’s get a shower.”

Chapter end.

A/N: Thank you so much for all the ideas! I couldn’t keep writing without you guys.

 

Chapter Text

Quidditch, Potions, Hagrid, and Blood

Quidditch, it honestly baffled Draco. All this effort with Chasers trying to get the quaffle through these little hoops guarded by a Keeper while also dodging vicious Beaters hitting bludgers… and it didn’t matter a whit in the end. It all came down to a one hundred and fifty point snitch. 

Draco had no idea why the other players tried as hard as they did since they were essentially irrelevant. In his view, they should eliminate goals and the other players completely. Quidditch was clearly all about the Seekers. And Harry was a Seeker. So much pressure on that one crucial player. Draco would have to keep a close watch. If it became too much, he would remove Harry from the game - Gryffindor be damned. 

After explaining the rules, Wood asked Draco to fly against Harry, since he was there, so that he could get a sense of Harry’s skills. “Not that I’m doubting McGonagall!” It was a beautiful morning, perfect for flying, so Draco agreed. The air was cool and crisp, the sun rising slowly over the mountain ridge. The grass sparkled with dew.

“Ready, Harry?” Draco asked seriously. He looked into Harry’s eyes and ordered, “Do your best.”

Harry gave a firm nod. 

When they had first started learning fencing from Narcissa, he’d been hesitant to strike at Draco. But Draco had gotten angry and grabbed Harry by the shirt and ordered him to try and beat him. Harry had obeyed. It had been two years since then. Two years of study under a very skilled teacher in Narcissa and they had grown quite good. 

They kicked off the ground at the same time, their broom soaring into the air. The golden ball darted to the side and they shot after it like arrows, their shoulders colliding together. Harry pushed against Draco before rolling under him just as the snitch dove. Harry was in the lead now, rushing toward the grass, the wind streaking past his outstretched hand… 

Draco swooped in at an angle, knocking Harry’s hand aside as he flew past. The snitch zipping back into the sky. Harry almost flew off his broom as he flipped tip to tail too quickly, just barely saving himself from a painful crash. He rocketed into the sky, chasing the end of Draco’s broom and their golden target. Their hands darted in quick jabs and snatches as they spiraled around each other. They moved instinctively with the broom underneath them, trusting it to keep up. Harry came up from under Draco and knocked him sideways only for Draco to come down on him from above like a swooping bird. Harry grunted with the impact and dropped several feet.

His heart thundered in his chest. His thighs trembled, his hands shook. Sweat blinded him and he blinked rapidly to clear his vision. Fatigue was setting in, but he knew Draco had to be nearing his breaking point, too. He dove and then arched back into the air like a shooting star, aiming for the snitch. Draco was coming at it from above. They were going to collide.

“I need to get better, Harry!” Draco’s young voice from memory cried, full of angry passion. “Come at me with everything you’ve got!”

Harry lay flat, milking the broom for every ounce of speed it possessed. He reached out past the handle. He could almost reach… Draco racing closer! They were about to crash… Harry’s closed around the ball a millisecond before Draco’s and they slammed painfully together. The blond had opened his arms, catching Harry and cushioning the impact as much as he could. Their brooms locked together and they began to spiral down, dropping at terrifying speed. 

Draco grabbed tight to Harry’s broomstick, held even tighter to Harry’s body, and leaned back. They decelerated too slowly, the ground rushed up. Draco yelled, “Jump!”

They tumbled across the grass, panting for breath. Harry turned his head to look at the blond, grinning. Draco gasped for air and slowly smiled, then he began to laugh, Harry joining in until they were nearly crying. 

“Holy shit,” Draco panted. “That was crazy!”

Wood finally reached them, running across the pitch. Whooping, he jumped into the air, his fist high over head as he pumped it. “That was incredible flying!” he cried and helped the boys get back on their feet. He clapped Draco on the shoulder a few times before turning to Harry with a huge smile. 

“Great catch, Potter! We’re not going to lose a game with you after the snitch!” Looking back at Draco with a greedy gleam in his eye, he asked enticingly, “Fancy being our reserve Seeker?”

Draco’s blond hair was a mess, almost as wild as Harry’s with grass tangled it in from the tumble they’d taken upon landing. His cheeks were red and his eyes shone with an inner light fueled by Harry’s - exhilaration. “I don’t want to get behind in my studies,” he lied, still panting. He really wanted time to stalk Quirrell.

“You won’t have to make every practice. Just one a week,” Wood negotiated. He put his hands together and actually begged. “Say you’ll do it. Please?”

“I’ll think about it,” Draco allowed and Harry gave him a happy grin. Battling over the snitch had been too fun.

Herbology was their first class of the day and was taken inside the greenhouses built on the east side of the castle. Two rows of tables were set end to end so that the students were in two lines. Their professor, a short, chubby witch with grey curly hair and a cheerful disposition told them excitedly about the things they would learn. 

Draco paid her only half of his attention. He’d made sure to take the table next to Hermione and Neville. Last night, Neville and told them that the healer was able to heal his broken wrist, but from the way he moved Draco had been able to tell it still ached. Draco’s worry was misplaced, however, because Hermione made sure Neville didn’t do anything that would strain the injury. Hermione was abrupt and bossy, but she took care of Neville and it was clear the boy appreciated it. She gave Draco a confused look when he smiled at her after class. 

History of Magic turned out to be a surprise. They were being taught by Professor Binns, an actual ghost. Draco was impressed. To have access to a first-hand account of history was really amazing. The only problem was that listening to the voice of a ghost for long periods was difficult and tended to put them to sleep. Draco made a note for Harry to find a spell or remedy that would help them stay focused. 

Lunch arrived and again Quirrell didn’t show. Draco considered checking it out, but he didn’t want to be too obvious. He’d wait for Percy to get him some information first. It worked out anyway because halfway through the meal Hedwig swooped in on graceful, silent wings to deliver them a letter.

“Who’s it from?” Ron asked, mouth full of sandwich. 

“Hagrid,” Harry told him with a smile. “It’s an invite to tea tomorrow. He heard we had a free period after lunch. Can we go?” he asked, turning to Draco.

“Sure.” Draco ruffled the boy’s hair. The soft-hearted man was always a good source of information and Draco was curious why Hagrid wanted to speak to them. 

After lunch, they had Charms Theory and Magical Theory with the Ravenclaws. Already classes were challenging. In Charms, they had to memorize the seventeen fundamental wand movements and be able to perform them perfectly by next week. In Magical Theory, they had to take notes on the six main aspects of magic. They were to do further research for homework and write an informative essay. 

Professor Sophos, a witch in her sixties with wildly curly, silver-streaked black hair and a greek accent, had oh so kindly given them an essay formula to follow. The formula itself was a challenge, let alone the essay topic! Introduction consisting of hook, background, and thesis. Body paragraphs consisting of transition, facts, sources, and analysis. Finally, a conclusion paragraph with transition, summary, and a restating of the now validated thesis. 

Draco had to admit it was overwhelming. He looked at the loose parchment they had folded and tucked into their bags with their class notes and frowned.

“We need notebooks,” Harry said softly, guessing what Draco wanted. “It’ll be easier to stay organized.”

“We’ll need at least a dozen of them,” Draco agreed, hooking his bangs back behind his ears as he looked up at Harry. “We’ll add it to Remus’s letter. He can get us what we need.”

On their way back up to the tower from dinner, Percy snagged Draco’s sleeve. 

At Draco’s signal, Harry turned to Ron with a distraction. “Did you bring your Wizarding Chess set?”

Ron perked up. “Yeah. Why?”

“I’d like to try again,” Harry told him, making a determined face.

Ron grinned excitedly. “I’ll go get it.”

“How’s Wizarding Chess different from the Muggle kind?” Hermione asked curiously.

“The rules aren’t different,” Neville assured her.

“But I bet Muggle Chess doesn’t bash each other in,” Seamus said excitedly.

Draco and Percy had slipped away from the group unnoticed a floor below the Gryffindor portrait. There was a room that was used mostly for the random couple who wanted to snog and sometimes studying away from the loud common room, but tonight it stood empty. Draco hopped up onto the desk positioned by a window. Percy pulled the desk chair out and sat in front of him. Draco propped his feet up on the side of the seat, caging Percy’s thighs in between his Converse. Percy handed him a parchment. Draco unfolded it and pressed it open on his lap.

“His class schedule as well as the location of his personal chambers,” Percy explained. “Apparently he had a run in with some vampires and barely survived before taking the position here. He’s paranoid and scared of his own shadow. I can’t really see him as a threat. Not to mention the curse on the Defense position. For decades Defense teachers have only lasted a year here. Something always makes them go. There’s already bets among the upper years that Quirrell won’t make it past Yule. That vampires will come and get him.”

Draco nodded absently, his attention on the map.

“What exactly do you think he’s up to?” Percy asked curiously.

“I don’t know.” Draco looked up and met the teen’s concerned brown eyes. “Keep your ears open for any rumors.”

Percy pushed his glasses up his nose, confused by the boy’s insistence. “He really does seem useless.”

Draco said nothing to that, his attention back on the schedule and map the redhead had given him.

Percy sighed, changing the subject. “Silvanus Rahl and his gang are still muttering about you being in Gryffindor. The twins have a prank lined up, but there’s no telling how they’ll take it. They hate all things Slytherin, Rahl especially. Lost his father, grandfather, and uncle to Death Eaters. His dorm mates follows his every word. Be careful. They can be dangerous.” 

Draco nodded. “Thanks for the heads up. Who should I look out for?

“Rahl’s the one who had you up against the wall. His second in command is Fergus Dougal, dark red hair, pale. They room with Abdul Virk, Archibald Mago, and Eric Greythorne and they are more like lackeys. They’re all Sixth years and want to be some big shot Aurors when they graduate. They’re the best duelers in the House.”

“I’ll be careful,” Draco promised. 

“I’ll help as much as I can, but I have a feeling Rahl has something personal against the Malfoys. He’ll be a hard one to stop.” Percy ran a hand through his short curly hair. “Good news is next year is his last.” 

Draco smiled wryly. A lot could happen in two years. “Good news,” he echoed.

Percy lifted Draco’s foot and slid out from under it before placing it back on the seat. “I’ll head back. Wait a few minutes and then come after me.”

“How’s your girl?” Draco asked curiously. “Your snake didn’t hurt her?”

The teen flushed red. “No. It was fine,” Percy answered shyly and slipped out of the room.

Draco grinned.

The next morning was Saturday. They got dressed quickly and went up to the Owlery. Harry pet and stroked Hedwig's spotted white feathers for several minutes before tying the letters they had written to her leg. Hedwig took off silently into the dawn and the boys tucked themselves up on a window ledge to work some more on Pandora’s notes. 

No one would bother them up here so early in the morning and the break was sorely needed. Draco especially was struggling with the constant and abrasive multitude always surrounding them, always watching, moving in ways that Draco couldn’t always predict or control. It put a lot more stress on him than he anticipated. 

He’d gone from the Hold, which was an extremely controlled environment, to Liam - where Draco was given a lot of control and privacy - to the Malfoys, who were almost as controlled and rigid as the Hold. The Tonkses were a bit more flexible and chaotic, but even they were pretty self-contained. They didn’t socialize with others much (except for with the Weasleys and on holidays) and mostly let the boys do as they wished as long as they had supervision. 

Harry was aware of the tension. He sat across from Draco in the same window, their legs brushing. He reached forward and gently touched Draco’s knee. “Please?”

Draco looked up from the notes, distracted and frowning. “What?”

Harry lowered his head submissively, hands folded in his lap. “Please?” he asked again, softly.

Draco smiled, his shoulders relaxing as - devotion compassion - pulsed warmly through the bond. “Yes,” he said and turned so that he was sitting in the middle of the window, his back to Harry. He crooked one leg to set Pandora’s notes on top and set his other foot on the ground for balance. 

Harry slid his fingers into Draco’s hair and caressed the blond’s scalp. Closing his eyes on a sigh,  Harry gently pressed his thumbs into Draco’s neck. The warmth from his core trickled up and soaked into Draco’s skin and muscle. Draco sighed in pleasure and began to read out loud so Harry could follow along. Soft groans escaped him every other sentence, making Harry smile, happy he was making Draco feel good. Draco took notes on what he thought a passage meant, adding Harry’s ideas. Harry’s hands continued to knead and press all the tension from Draco’s back and shoulders.

… 

They walked into breakfast a little late, just as Rahl and his gang were storming out. Their hair had been turned into huge coarse balls of red and gold cotton and on the back of their robes in huge gold lettering it read, I’m a Gryffindor Bully. Rahl’s blue eyes were bright with fury when he spotted Draco and Harry. He was still within sight of the Great Hall doors, so he couldn’t do much, but he did bump Draco’s shoulder hard enough to make the boy stagger. 

“Out of my way, you fucking snake,” he hissed in a low, threatening voice.

Draco stared after them, eyes cold.

Harry pulled him forward by the hand Draco held. “Breakfast is over soon,” he said softly - concerned.

Draco silently followed Harry to their table that had become a weird mesh of First and Third years. All the First year boys, plus Hermione, and then the Third year twins and their best friends Lee Jordan, Angelina Johnson, and Alicia Spinnet. The twins were beaming triumphantly and the rest of the group was snickering and laughing. Only Hermione seemed to disapprove while Neville looked nervous.

Draco and Harry took their spot between the twins and Hermione and Neville. Dean, Seamus, and Ron sat across from them with Lee and the girls across from the twins.

“Not sure that’s going to make him back off,” Draco admitted as he served himself some eggs.

“If they don’t learn their lesson,” George began. 

Fred grinned evilly. “The pranks will only get worse.”

“Blood-traitor,” Nott hissed hatefully as Draco entered the Potions’ classroom. 

Draco decided to ignore him. Instead, he took notice of the single station that had been placed at the front of the classroom on the Gryffindor’s side of the room. Draco hefted his bag higher on his shoulder and pushed Harry toward Ron. Harry knew better than to argue, especially with the mood Draco was in. Draco made his way down the aisle and stopped at the single desk. Hermione and Neville sat behind him and Neville gave him a worried look. Draco left it to Hermione to reassure him.

Today was their scheduled potions practical and Draco began to set up his cauldron and equipment with the rest of the class. He’d just finished when Snape stormed in, slammed the classroom door behind him with a loud bang that made everyone jump, and took up a position by the blackboard. He looked furious. 

“On the board you will see instructions for brewing the most basic of potions, the Boil Cure.” Snape’s dark eyes raked the class. “It can also be found in your textbooks on page thirty-three. Begin.”

Draco’s eyes widened fractionally. This was only their second Potions class. Was that really all the instruction they’d be given? He scowled and looked at the board as Harry’s - anxiety - scratched at him.

In almost indecipherable calligraphy, the board read: Add crushed snake fangs to your cauldron and stir. Slice your Pungous Onions finely and place in the cauldron, then heat the mixture. Add dried nettles. Add a dash of Flobberworm mucus and stir vigorously. Add a sprinkle of powdered ginger root and stir vigorously again. Add picked Shrake spines. Stir gently so as not to overexcite the Shrake spines. Add a glug of stewed horned slugs. Add porcupine quills. Finally, wave your wand over the cauldron to finish the potion.

Draco opened his textbook. The recipe on page thirty-three was slightly longer with more detail. His glare deepened. Which were they supposed to follow?

“Sir…” Hermione’s voice drew Draco’s attention and he looked up to see that the girl had her hand in the air.

“If I wished to speak to you, Miss Pleasant, I would have called on you. Now begin. If I have to tell you again, I will be taking points.” Snape’s cold, disdainful voice was cutting.

“I noticed the recipe on the board…” Hermione continued hesitantly.

“Ten points from Gryffindor,” Snape drawled, staring her down.

Lavender and Parvati, sitting behind Hermione and Neville, hissed at her to be quiet.

Draco gave Snape a disgusted look. He pointedly chose to use the book recipe instead of Snape’s, not trusting that bastard for a second. 

Snape stalked the Gryffindor side of the room, breathing down their necks, making them nervous. He bit out sarcastic comments like, “You call that a fine powder, Mr. Finnegan?” “So skilled are we, Potter, that you don’t have to check the exact temperature of your flames?” “You do have a timer in your kit, Miss Brown, do you not?” “Silence, Miss Pleasant, no talking in my class if don’t want your mouth magical sewn shut!”

They were almost done, only ten minutes to go, when Hermione cried out, “Wait, Neville!”

Draco turned to face them, his eyes widening as his startled roommate dropped the porcupine quills into a cauldron that still sat on the flame. 

The explosion knocked Hermione and Neville back into Lavender and Parvati’s table, making their cauldron clatter to the floor, splashing their ankles with boiling hot potion. Draco was flung back into his own cauldron and it tipped forward, spilling all down his back. Pain whited everything out. He locked his teeth, grunting, as he crawled blindly forward only to hold himself rigidly still, exerting all his self-control to clamp down on useless instinct. There would be no escaping the searing pain. There was no point in trying to flee. He had to be still and endure. 

“You stupid boy!” Snape bellowed. 

Kneeling next to Draco, he took in the smoking school robes of Draco’s hunched back and internally winced. He had no idea how the boy wasn’t screaming or unconscious. A quick swish of his wand vanished the robe, shirt, and tie. Red and angrily blistering skin covered Draco’s shoulders and down his spine, but it did nothing to conceal the most horrific scarring Snape had ever seen. 

Hermione gasped, her hands covering her mouth in horror. 

Draco trembled, on his hands and knees, his head hanging with his white-blond hair curtaining his face, but Snape could see the pain-tensed jaw of gritted teeth. 

“Bottle your potions, clean up your stations, and GET OUT!” Snape screamed. Harry and Ron had appeared at Draco’s side. “You two! Get him out of here! Straight to the Infirmary! Brown, Patil, cease your caterwauling and go with them!”

Ron and Harry didn’t have to be told twice. They each got underneath one of Draco’s arms and helped him to his feet. Lavender and Parvati held hands, leaning on each other as they limped after the boys, crying in pain over their burnt ankles. Draco hissed as they started climbing the stairs, head hanging, clearly in agony. Ron looked pale as a ghost, the smell of potion and burnt skin mixing in his nose.

“Bloody hell,” he whispered.

Ron and Harry were forced to wait in the waiting room, but Lavender and Parvati were admitted into the Infirmary with Draco. Later that night the girls returned to the tower and told tales of gruesomely burnt skin that had been hardened and peeled from Draco’s back. Draco hadn’t screamed once and stayed conscious for the entire treatment. The story spread like fire.

Ron and Harry missed Herbology and lunch as they sat quietly outside the Infirmary. Healer Pomfrey finally let them come and see their friend, but she was visibly disapproving and told them that their visit would be short: “Sleep is essential for healing, but he insists on seeing you, Mr. Potter.” Harry barely heard her. He rushed forward, desperate to be back where he belonged. At Draco’s side. 

Harry knelt on the floor by the bed so that Draco, who’d been placed on his stomach, could see him without straining his neck. Ron hung back, staring at the white bandages that covered Draco from shoulders to waist. At least that terrible scarring was covered.

“Draco…” Harry breathed - love concern - pouring down the bond.

Grey eyes blinked at him and he gave a smile. “Harry. I’m okay. Pomfrey said I’ll be outta here by breakfast tomorrow.”

Harry tearfully held his hand. “Please?”

“No,” Draco refused him gently. “No. I’m fine. Maybe get sympathy points.”

Madam Pomfrey cleared her throat. “Alright, boys. Time to go. Mr. Malfoy needs his rest,” she insisted.

Harry looked up at her in confusion. “Go?”

The potion Draco had been fighting was going to win the battle and pull him under soon. It made him crazy to know Harry would be out of his sight for a whole afternoon and night, but the fucking nurse made it clear his boy wouldn’t be allowed to stay. Fuck. Doing his best to focus, he looked into Harry’s distressed eyes. “Meet Hagrid. Tell me what he has to say,” he ordered softly, eyes closing. “Stay away from Quirrell. You get a headache, you go the other way ’til it’s gone. Hard rule.” A sliver of grey could be seen between long blond lashes. “Harry, stay with the Weasleys. Never… be alone…” The grey disappeared, Draco’s eyes closing as he slipped into a potioned sleep.

“Yes, Draco,” Harry whispered, holding tight to Draco’s hand.

“The boy needs undisturbed rest,” Pomfrey scolded softly. “Off with you now. You’ll see your friend in the morning perfectly recovered. There’s no need for all this fuss.” 

Ron felt a pang as Harry’s head hung and his shoulders hunched. He knew how upset Harry must be. Ron had rarely ever seen them separated for more than a few minutes at a time. It was a strange concept. They were like a packaged deal. Like Fred and George. In fact, he was having a hard time picturing Harry getting up and leaving Draco’s side, orders be damned, and he braced himself to pull his friend away, but Harry did. He got to his feet and gave Ron a smile that trembled a bit at the edges. 

“Will you come with me to see Hagrid?” he asked quietly, clearly trying to be brave.

“Yeah,” Ron answered, chest tight. “Course I will.” 

He offered his hand, blushing, but he knew he’d done the right thing when Harry gave him a truly grateful smile as he took it. Silently, Ron promised the unconscious blond that he wouldn’t let anything happen to Harry. For one, Harry was his friend. For two, he didn’t want to die.

Hagrid’s hut was down the side of the hill that Hogwarts sat atop. It was about a ten minute walk, so it wasn’t a short distance. The hut sat just outside the Dark Forest, the shadow of the tall, ominous trees falling over them, but it had an incredible view of the lake. 

A dog began barking as soon as they knocked on the door. Deep bass barks that made Harry and Ron step way back from the door. Hagrid shouted something and then the door was opening and Hagrid was beaming joyfully at them. “Arry! Who’s that ya got with ya?” Hagrid stood in the doorway beaming happily. “Down, Fang!” A big black mastiff with hanging cheeks and drool was wagging his tail and trying to push past Hagrid’s big legs to get at the boys. “Tha’s Fang. He wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Hagrid promised.

“This is Ron Weasley,” Harry introduced. “He’s in Gryffindor with Draco and me. Ron, this is Hagrid. I met him on Diagon when I got my school supplies. He’s the one who gave me Hedwig for my birthday.”

“Cool,” Ron said politely, but his attention was still on the huge dog.

“Well, nice ta meet ya,” Hagrid boomed. “Any friend of ‘Arry's is a friend of mine. Come in, come in!” As the boys stepped in and fended off the overly friendly, slobbery Fang, Hagrid gestured to the table. “I made tea and cakes.”

The boys hopped up on two large stools while Hagrid plopped down across from them, still smiling happily. Ron and Harry shared a glance as Hagrid placed cakes down in front of them with loud thunks. He also gave them small cauldrons of tea. Ron giggled.

“I wan’ned to congratulate you on Gryffindor,” Hagrid boomed happily. “I was Gryffindor when I was in school. It’s the best House if ya don’t mind me sayin’.”

“You were?” Harry asked and tried to figure out how to eat the cake that was about the size of his head.

Ron leaned close. “Maybe we shouldn’t eat it.”

Harry elbowed him gently. “Hagrid, can you break this into smaller pieces for me?”

“Course, I can! ‘Ere, let me.” He got out a huge hunting knife and whacked the cake into fist size chunks. 

Harry thanked him and dunked it in his cauldron of tea, hoping to soften it up.

“What’s this?” Ron grabbed a Daily Prophet from the floor, desperate for anything as a distraction so he wouldn’t have to eat the cake. It was dated a few days ago and had a theft from Gringotts on the front page. “Someone broke in to Gringotts? That’s impossible!”

Hagrid became nervous. “Tha’s nothing. Just kindlin’ for my fire.”

Harry looked over Ron’s shoulder to read the article as the redhead insisted, “No one’s ever broken into Gringotts before and gotten away, have they?”

“Why would they break into an empty vault?” Harry asked and suddenly remembered Hagrid saying Dumbledore had asked him to get something from Gringotts. Something important. He vividly recalled the round package that had effected Draco so much. “This happened the night of my birthday. The day we met,” he added, looking up.

Hagrid cleared his throat and took the paper from Ron. “How’re ya liking Hogwarts, ‘Arry?”

Ron looked startled as the paper disappeared from his hands.

Harry stared at their host curiously, but he answered, “I like it. Classes are really interesting.”

“Draco’s having some trouble,” Ron informed him. “Some Gryffindors don’t trust him because he’s a Malfoy.”

“Where is Draco?” Hagrid looked toward the door as if the boy would walk in any moment.

“He’s in the Infirmary,” Ron answered when he realized Harry wouldn’t. At Hagrid’s shocked look, he clarified, “He wasn’t attacked or nothing. Just a potions accident.”

“Well.” Hagrid reached forward to put his large hand gently on Harry’s head. “You tell Draco not to think on it. People are always hatin’ somethin’. Pay it no mind and hold yer heads high.”

“I’ll tell him,” Harry promised and fished his cake out of his tea. It was still hard, but he was able to bite off a piece. Ron watched him with fascinated horror. “Mmm. It’s good,” Harry complimented.

Hagrid smiled happily. “I’ll give ya some ta take back to Draco. It might make ‘em feel better.”

“That’d be great. Thanks, Hagird.”

Ron giggled again and whispered, “More like finish him off, you mean.”

Harry elbowed him again.

Hagrid showed them around his house and pumpkin patch. He even showed them a few feet into the Dark Forest. He talked cheerfully about all the creatures who lived there, most of them making Ron’s eyes big. 

McGonagall gave them a stern look as they arrived to her class out of breath, but she started her lesson without taking points. Harry paid extra attention and took very detailed notes to be sure Draco didn’t miss anything.

“Think you wrote enough down?” Ron asked him wryly. Harry had filled an entire parchment and the class had been their practical!

“I think so,” Harry answered unsurely, not sure if he had.

Ron laughed and flung an arm around his shoulders. “Let’s head to dinner. I’m starved.”

They talking about Hagrid and the forest when, one floor above the entrance hall, something shoved Harry from behind. 

Harry flew forward with frightening force. His shoulder clipped Dean’s and flung him into Seamus, both boys hitting the wall hard. Ron grabbed for Harry’s robe, but he wasn’t quick enough. Harry hit the stairs with a terrible impact and then tumbled. It almost seemed to happen in slow motion and too quick to remember at the same time. Ron ran down to where Harry was sprawled, blood spilling in a growing pool around his head. Ron dropped to his knees. He was screaming. So were the girls. Dean and Seamus were still getting their feet back under them. Ron looked up. Leaning over the second floor railing was a smirking Slytherin. Ron screamed, this time in rage. He jumped to his feet, but the boy disappeared as a crowd of students on the way to dinner rushed to look over the railing to see what was going on. 

Suddenly, McGonagall was there, grabbing him by the shoulders. “What happened here, Mr. Weasley?” Other professors were trying to get everyone who’d rushed out of the Great Hall to move back. Dumbledore was levitating Harry, rushing him to the Infirmary.

Shaking, Ron looked into McGonagall’s eyes and said, “Draco’s gonna kill me,” before bursting into tears.

Draco felt - TERROR - scream along the bond, followed by bright flashes of pain, and then ominous silence. * Harry! * his mind cried out, but there was no answer. Anxious, angry, Draco pushed through the layers of darkness swaddling him, trying to breach the surface. His arms and legs felt heavy and floating at the same time as he churned them uselessly, trying to move. 

He hit the floor, but it almost felt like it was happening to someone else. He could barely feel it. The shock was enough to get his eyes to crack open at last, however. Bright light stabbed into his brain, rendering him just as blind as before. Snarling, he slapped his hands onto the floor in front of him and pulled himself across the cold tile. 

* Harry! * Spots dipped and swayed as some focus returned to him. Undulating walls, a gooey floor that waved gently up and down… He grit his teeth and pulled himself another foot forward. * Answer me, Harry! * Draco’s heart beat sluggishly, but it should have been racing. Terror clawed at his insides. * Harry, where are you? Harry! *

“Mr. Malfoy, please return…” Pomfrey was saying as she stepped into the Infirmary proper only to gasp upon seeing the boy dragging himself semi-conscious across he floor. “Mr. Malfoy!” she cried and rushed to his side. The boy was dripping with sweat and panting. She turned him onto his back and he shoved weakly at her, his face twisted with fear. “Mr. Malfoy… Draco… It’s just a dream, child. Come now. Back to bed.”

“Harry…” he moaned, tears welling in his eyes. “Harry…”

Pomfrey frowned. “Come now.” She sat him up. The boy trembled in her arms. “Everything is alright.”

Draco pushed at her with surprising strength. “Get away from me,” he hissed lowly. 

Pomfrey watched shocked, her hands up over her mouth, as the boy pulled himself up on all fours and crawled his way to the nearest bed. 

Draco couldn’t feel his hands, but that didn’t fucking matter. All that mattered was Harry. His boy needed him. * Harry, answer me right fucking now! * He pulled himself to his feet and swayed drunkenly only to collapse after two steps.

“You’re doing yourself injury!” she cried and gently putting a supportive arm around his shoulders. “I must insist you come to bed this instant. It was just a dream. Mr. Potter is fine, I assure you.”

The doors swung open and Dumbledore strode into the room. Pomfrey gasped, and Draco knew the form floating behind the old wizard was Harry. A little of his fear left him. Harry was here. Draco had him. 

“Set him on the bed,” Pomfrey was saying as if from a long distance, voice urgent and distressed. “What happened?”

“He fell down the stairs I’m afraid,” Dumbledore answered.

“Pushed…” Draco said hoarsely. Something cold and dangerous coiled in his gut. He watched through unblinking blurry eyes as a red stain soaked into the white sheets under Harry’s head. The bed dipped, causing ripples of shadow to overtake his vision, but Draco refused to look away. Harry needed him. 

Dumbledore spoke from right next to him. “How do you know, my boy?”

“Know…” Draco insisted, slurring, but he didn’t fucking care if Dumbledore believed him or not. Draco knew the truth. His hands curled into dangerous fists. 

“What has he told you?” Dumbledore suddenly asked.

McGonagall’s voice answered, “He believes a Slytherin used a spell to push Harry. However, he didn’t actually see the boy cast a spell. It could be that the boy was smiling simply because he thought it amusing that Harry fell.”

“He didn’t just fall. He went flying forward, Professor!” Ron’s voice protested hotly. It was thick and sounded as if he had been crying. 

Draco’s eyes narrowed and he held tightly to the knowledge that Ron knew who’d done this to Harry. 

“Draco… I’m sorry…” This time Ron sounded small and afraid, but Draco had no time for that. All his attention was on Harry and the healer chanting over him. 

“Draco also reports that Harry was pushed,” Dumbledore continued. “He must have felt something through their bond.”

“We must get to the bottom of this,” was McGonagall’s quiet response.

“Yes,” Dumbledore answered and the old man put a supportive hand on Draco’s shoulder. 

“Don’t touch me,” Draco said coldly, not once moving his eyes from Harry’s pale face.

Dumbledore’s hand left him and there was silence in the room after that. 

Chapter end.

Chapter Text

Recovery

They waited an hour for Healer Pomfrey to finish treating Harry. In the end, he was placed under seven healing spells and was fed two potions: one for inflammation and another to heal broken bones. Promfrey stepped back exhausted and Dumbledore gently guided her to a chair. 

“He’ll likely have some memory loss that could span a couple hours up to a full day before the fall,” she reported. “Otherwise, he’ll have a full recovery.” Looking up at the headmaster, she said gravely, “It was a nasty fall, Albus. The poor boy suffered a skull fracture, brain swelling, blood loss, a dislocated shoulder, and severe contusions along his back and hips.”

“Rest a minute, Poppy,” Dumbledore encouraged and looked up at McGonagall. “Please move the beds together so that the boys can sleep in peace. Mr. Weasley, I’m going to have to ask you to come with me to identify the boy you saw on the stairs. Poppy, contact Draco and Harry’s guardians when you’ve recovered, if you would.”

Voices warped in and out of focus and things seemed to be vibrating strangely, but all Draco cared about was the gentle heat from Harry’s body and the feeling of his boy’s chest rising and falling. As McGonagall guided him to lie flat and joined his bed to Harry’s, he flung a protective arm over Harry’s chest. His eyes closed and he finally let go of the excruciating hold he’d maintained on consciousness, giving in to the power of the sleeping potion at last.

Ron was brought to the Slytherin common room where the students were forced to line up as Dumbledore and Snape watched. The cold glares of all those hateful eyes made Ron break out in a sweat, but he boldly lifted his chin and pointed to Third-year Adrian Pucey. “It was him!”

Snape coldly ordered the Slytherins to go to their dorm rooms and remain there until further notice before sweeping out of the room with Adrian Pucey’s arm in his grasp. Dumbledore guided Ron more gently and the four of them made their way to the Headmaster’s office. 

Pucey scowled and looked offended, claiming innocence. His wand only showed those spells they were practicing in class and no one actually saw him cast a spell at Harry. Ron went red in the face as a slow smirk curled the Pucey’s lips, but there was nothing Dumbledore could do. Pucey was a student as much as Harry, and it was their job to act in his best interest. With no evidence, even circumstantial evidence, against him, Dumbledore’s hands were tied. All he could do was warn the boy quite seriously of the consequences of injuring another student while at Hogwarts and dismissed Pucey into Snape’s care. 

Dumbledore gazed at the red-faced boy left standing angrily in front of his desk. “The truth will win out, young man. Until then we cannot act without proof.” 

Ron stared mutinously back at the Headmaster in silence. 

Dumbledore sighed sadly. “You will be held responsible for any retaliation you take,” he warned. “I can’t imagine how that would help your friends.”

“Yes, sir,” Ron answered stiffly. “May I go?”

Dumbledore inclined his head and the boy practically fled his office.

As soon as they were in the dungeons and out of sight, Snape spun on his heel. He grabbed a hold of Pucey’s robe and shoved him against the wall. Black eyes glittering with malice, voice dripping with disgust, he said in a low, compelling voice, “You did well to escape punishment this time, Mr. Pucey, but that is only due to the fact that Potter was not killed. Had the boy died, you would have been put under a more… vigorous… investigation. Shame would have been brought to your name, to my House, and you would have been placed in Azkaban, forever doomed to suffer unimaginable torment.”

Pucey looked up at his Head of House, face blanched with fear. His fingers ached as they clutched at the wall he was being held against. “I d-didn’t…” he stuttered weakly.  

“Do not attempt to fool me,” Snape snarled, his face less than an inch from the teenager’s. “Let me give you some… advice.” He tightened his hand in the boy’s robe, nearly choking him. “Do not commit murder while at Hogwarts. Do not underestimate the power that destroyed one Dark Lord and precipitated the downfall of another. Dumbledore will act regretful, but he will destroy you all the same if anything were to befall his precious Boy Hero.” 

Pucey whimpered, legs trembling.

Snape released the boy with a shove and Pucey cowered against the wall. With a louder voice, he spat with dark fury, “Fifty points from Slytherin, Mr. Pucey, for acting with Gryffindor shortsightedness.”

Pucey grew impossibly paler.

“Get out of my sight this instant,” Snape hissed, cold as ice.

The dark-haired teen fled.

Narcissa conjured a chair and placed it next to Draco and Harry’s hospital bed. She gently stroked her son’s soft hair off of his face. He was practically curled around Harry, and she frowned at how still and slack both of the boys’ faces were. They weren’t merely sleeping. They were unconscious. Four days into school and they were already in the Infirmary with critical injuries. She didn’t like it at all. 

“I want to bring them home,” she said lowly. She looked over her shoulder and pierced her husband with coldly angry eyes.

Lucius placed a hand on her shoulder and gently squeezed. They had not repaired their relationship, but the anger and hurt between them had to wait. Their children were in trouble. “I’ll go speak to the headmaster.”

“I want assurances or they are coming home,” she said with finality.

Lucius gave her a little bow before turning on his heel and striding from the room. On the way out, he passed Andromeda and Ted as they arrived. Little Denebola was asleep on Andromeda’s shoulder. Lucius did not acknowledge them in any way and continued on. Harry’s guardian or not, the woman was still a blood traitor.

Ted conjured a chair for Andromeda and she sat across from her sister on Harry’s side of the bed. This was the first time Narcissa had met Denebola. The child lay curled in the nook of Andromeda’s arm sound asleep and Narcissa felt an old pang of remorse. She didn’t dwell on it long, however, too concerned for Draco and Harry.

… 

Dumbledore sat behind his desk and considered the furious man in front of him. Lucius was not satisfied in the least with the school's dead-end investigation, and he was down right furious when Dumbledore refused to release the name of the student accused of the crime. The child had rights, and his parents would hold Hogwarts and Dumbledore responsible if those rights were violated. 

“If you cannot assure me of my children’s safety while attending this school, Dumbledore, I will pull them out,” Lucius threatened. “And I will make it very clear that it was due to my concern for their safety within these walls. How will other parents react? How will the Ministry?”

Dumbledore understood the man’s anger. He truly he did. “I will have the ghosts patrol the hallways between periods, more power will be allotted to the paintings so they can serve as witnesses, and I’ve been assured by the Heads of each House that they will take steps to better monitor their students. We will keep the boys safe, I assure you.”

Lucius was not pleased. He gave the old man a cold look down his aristocratic nose. “I will interview each House Head. If I am unsatisfied with the measures they plan to take to ensure the students’ saftey…”  He paused to snap up his cane into his fist. “We’ll talk again, Headmaster,” he coldly threatened.

Severus opened the door to his personal chambers as he heard a knock.“Lord Malfoy, ” he greeted and carefully blanked his expression.

Grey eyes stared at him with predatory intent. “Professor Snape.” Lucius gave a sharp smile full of teeth. “I have need to speak with you once more.”

Severus opened his door wider, steeling himself. Lucius strode into the room and seated himself in an armchair placed at an angle to the fireplace as if he owned the room and it was Severus who was the guest. Severus very carefully chose to show just enough annoyance that Lucius would think he was trying to hide it. When Lucius gave him a knowing, superior smirk, Severus scowled as if further annoyed that Lucius could see through him. Severus crossed his arms, as if defensive, and hid behind a curtain of oily black hair. 

“We both know why I am here.” Lucius’s voice was silky sweet and dripping with threat. He leaned forward, his long blond hair sliding over one shoulder to fall gracefully over his chest as he braced his hands on the cane planted firmly on the carpet in front of him. “I want to know, Snape, what steps you are going to take to ensure my ward never again comes to harm by one of your House. I also want a very detailed explanation on how my son could incur such a serious injury while attending your class.”

“Your son was injured when the student behind him made the most basic mistake of adding quills to the Boil Cure potion whilst still on the flame,” Severus recited with absolutely no inflection. “Potions accidents do occur, especially so early in their education. Mr. Malfoy’s clothes were banished within seconds of the potion spilling and he was taken directly to the Infirmary where he received excellent care. I have been informed that by breakfast tomorrow he will be completely recovered.”

Lucius gave a silky smooth, close-mouthed smile. Almost gently, he said, “I believe you mean ‘recovered with minimal scarring’.”

Inside, Severus winced, the comment purposefully bringing to mind the child’s horrific scars. On the outside, he maintained a stoic mask.

Lucius stared at him with the eyes of a patient leopard. “And your plan to control your House concerning my ward?”

“I have… spoken… with the boy suspected of the act and I assure you that…”

Lucius stood abruptly. Tired of playing with his prey. “I want the child’s name.” It was a demand, but when Severus simply stared mutely, Lucius added impatiently, “Do not concern yourself. The child is safe from me.” Grey eyes brightened, hinting at silver. “For now. I merely want to have a discussion of my own with his parents. I will be discrete, of course.”

“… Adrian Pucey.” There was no point in hiding it. Lucius would find out one way or another. If Severus resisted, he would incur Lucius’s sadistic revenge and no longer hold the man’s tentative trust.

With surprising speed, Lucius grabbed Severus’s left forearm with brutal force. “Be careful, Severus. If I think for a moment you’re moving against Harry, I will destroy you,” he hissed in a dangerous whisper.

Severus yanked free, heart beating hard and fast. With glittering, dark eyes, he spat, “And should that day ever come, you’d be standing right beside me wearing a mask, Lucius.”

Lucius grinned, all teeth. “I don’t think so. Malfoys are never slaves.” With deliberate slowness, he rolled up his sleeve. 

Numb with honest shock, Severus could only stare at the scarred, pale arm that Lucius revealed. There was no hint or shadow of the Dark Mark like there was on Severus’s arm. He couldn’t even imagine what it had taken Lucius to accomplish that; it was thought to be impossible! 

Lucius gave a shallow bow. “I wish you luck with your House, Professor Snape. I don’t have to describe what will happen if something of this nature should occur again, do I?”

“… No,” Severus answered lowly.

Lucius gave another little smile, eyes cold, before leaving the professor to think on his words.

Draco woke up feeling like shit. He felt dry as a bone and desperately thirsty, his head was pounding and he was pissed off. 

“Draco…” A gentle hand touched his hair. 

Draco snarled and slapped it aside. He turned dry eyes to see Narcissa sitting next to him. “What’re you doin’ here?”

Her eyes widened in surprise before softening in concern. “It’s school policy to send a report to the parents of students treated in the Infirmary.”

“But why are you here?” Draco demanded again. “We’re fine. Go home.” He wanted to check on Harry. He wanted to be alone.

“Draco…” Narcissa began.

“Get out!” Draco yelled only to wince and scowl as that made his head pound harder.

Narcissa sat frozen.

Madam Pomfrey bustled in, a ward telling her that Draco had regained consciousness. “How are you feeling, Mr. Malfoy?” she asked.

Draco thought his head would explode in fury. Why wouldn’t they leave him alone? Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, blocking the two women out of his awareness. The bond was a trickle of ambient emotions as Harry slept. Draco realized he was clutching the shirt above Harry’s heart. He could feel every slow rise and fall of his boy’s chest. Harry was alive and warm and next to him. He took another breath. When he opened his eyes, his anger was buried and he looked at the women with forced calm. True privacy would not come while they were in the Infirmary anyway.

“… side effects of resisting the Sleeping Potion,” the healer was saying.

Draco didn’t care about what she had to say and didn’t bother asking her to repeat it. He looked to Narcissa, “We apologize for worrying you. We’ll be more careful. You don’t have to stay.”

Narcissa masked her expression due to Pomfrey’s presence, but Draco could see that she was upset by her eyes. “You can come home,” she offered quietly. “We can get tutors as skilled as any you’d find here.”

Draco’s expression softened. He reached over and touched her hand. “Thank you. Not yet. If you would like to help, I’d like to be alone with Harry for an hour or two. In a private room.”

Narcissa nodded and stood. She wore a thin black skirt and boots. A white blouse with a few ruffles falling from her neck and over her chest and a dark grey day-jacket. Diamonds hung from her ears and a diamond broach sat at the base of her throat. “Lucius is talking with the Headmaster now. Let me go find him.”

While she was gone, Pomfrey worked around them in a huff. She was clearly offended by Draco’s request. Andromeda returned with Dee and Ted. The little girl climbed up onto the bed and into Draco’s lap. Draco gave her a hug, but it was stiff. Ted gently scooped his daughter up, sensing that Draco was not in the mood to deal with the baby. Draco assured them he was fine and that they’d be more careful; the two gave him a string of good advice and returned home.

Shortly after, Narcissa returned with Dumbledore and Lucius as promised. Dumbledore’s eyes were twinkling as he dealt with a very unhappy Pomfrey, and between Narcissa and Lucius they transferred Harry over into a private room for contagious or especially critically patients. Draco followed them, never allowing Harry out of his sight and climbed into the new bed next to his boy. 

“I’ll be in the waiting area,” Narcissa told him before stepping outside. “To make sure no one disturbs you.”

“Thank you,” he whispered, throat tight with gratitude.

She gave him a gentle smile and shut the door.

Draco immediately turned to Harry. The boy lay sleeping, his lips slightly parted, dark lashes resting on his cheeks. Draco ran trembling fingers through the boy’s hair. He found the slightly raised scar above Harry’s right ear and a little to the back. Closing his eyes, he tried to breathe through the knowledge that Harry would have died from that fall in the Muggle world. 

Working with careful determination, he managed to strip Harry of his hospital top and pants. He quickly stripped out of his own and settled between Harry’s legs. He leaned on his forearms so that his chest didn’t crush Harry’s, their stomachs and groins pressing against each other. Opening his thighs a bit, he spread Harry’s legs wider and felt their body heat meld into a soft warmth that soaked into Draco’s bones. 

“Harry,” he called softly. Dropping his head forward, his hair brushed Harry’s cheeks a second before their lips gently touched. “Harry,” he said directly into the boy’s mouth. Draco licked a slow line over those petal soft lips. “Harry.” He laid a careful kiss on the boy’s bottom lip. Another on the corner of his mouth, then his cheek. Dipping to his ear, he called again, “Harry,” and traced the outside of that delicate ear with his tongue. 

The boy shifted, his eyebrows tensing as dazed green eyes fluttered open. A dry groan escaped his throat. 

Harry,” Draco breathed. He leaned to the side so that he could free one hand to stroke the boy’s cheek and run his hands through his hair possessively.

Harry leaned into the touch, but he was confused. Where were they? What happened? Slowly the memory of Draco getting hurt in Potions returned. “Draco…” - concern fear - His voice rasped dryly. Something was wrong. 

Draco helped him sit up and knelt between Harry’s legs. He gave the boy a tall glass of water and drank one himself. Harry obediently drank the whole cup, but his eyes were locked on Draco. Something was wrong, he thought again, the certainty settling on him like a physical weight. Draco didn’t look right. He almost seemed triggery as if he were on the verge of a flashback, but he was focused completely on Harry as if it were Harry who’d been hurt and not Draco…

“Hush,” Draco ordered as he took the empty glass from the boy and set them both on the bedside table. 

Harry ducked his eyes, trying to obey - worry.

“Don’t worry, Harry. You’ll heal us both,” Draco whispered. He cupped Harry’s face in his hands and kissed his lips.

Harry opened his mouth, inviting Draco in, but the blond kept the kiss superficial, just a meeting of two lips. Harry’s hands clenched in the sheets.

Draco leaned back, caressing those soft cheeks with his thumbs. “You’ve lost some time. What’s the last thing you remember?”

“You getting hurt,” Harry answered, eyes downcast submissively. “Snape banished your robes and shirt. You were burnt. Ron was next to me. Snape was yelling. I don’t remember anything else.”

“That was yesterday morning,” Draco informed him, still gently brushing Harry’s cheeks with his fingertips. “You and Ron brought me to the Infirmary. Pomfrey wouldn’t let you stay. I told you to stay away from Quirrell and stay with Ron. You went to visit Hagrid and went to class. On the way to dinner, someone cast a spell that pushed you down the stairs. You got hurt pretty badly. I felt it all through the bond. We’ve been in the Infirmary all night. Narcissa, Lucius, Andromeda, Ted, and Dee all came. Andromeda, Ted, and Dee went home once I woke up and told them we were fine, that we’d be careful, but Narcissa and Lucius are still here. They helped talk Dumbledore into letting us be alone for a bit and got us this room.”

Harry was trembling at this point - guilt self-hate. Draco had been hurt and healing and Harry had made him worry. He knew Draco would have been furious that Harry had been hurt while away from him. Draco had probably hurt himself trying to get to Harry. He’d hurt Draco! He’d worried everyone. He was a no-good freak! Why couldn’t he do anything right? He had to be more careful! He had to be aware! He knew the school wasn’t a safe place. How could he let this happen?

Draco simply watched as Harry absorbed everything that had happened. He continued to stroke the boy’s cheeks, now wet with a stream of tears as Harry punished himself with - anger guilt self-hate regret unworthiness

“I’m sorry, Draco. Sorry for causing everyone trouble. Please? Please, Draco…” Harry lifted his eyes to beg. He needed to heal Draco, to make sure any damage he’d caused was fixed.

Draco gave him an almost cold smile. “You first, Harry. Always you first.”

Harry paled. He’d been hurt bad, then. He felt a spike of - anxiety. He’d have worried Draco bad in that case. Draco was mad at him. 

“You fell down the stairs, Harry. Bruised you up pretty good. Dislocated your shoulder. Cracked your head open. You lost so much blood. It was red everywhere. You even lost your memories. They were yours and now they’re gone forever. You can’t even tell me who did this to you. Who almost killed you.”

Harry broke into sobs. His gut churned with so much anxiety and guilt that he was on the verge of being sick. He hated himself. He was always hurting the people around him, always hurting Draco. Causing him trouble and scaring him. He wasn’t worthy of Draco’s love. The darkness under his skin oozed to the surface, making him feel filthy and like clawing his skin right off his body just to escape it. Wails of grief built up in his chest and throat and choked him. He felt as if he were going to shatter apart when a hand fisted his hair with painful force. The pain ground him and brought Draco and the room swimming into focus. Silver eyes pierced him straight through.

“I’m going to give you your punishment, Harry. That’s my job, not yours. Now roll over. Lay on your belly.”

Harry obediently lay back and rolled over as Draco got off the bed out out from between his legs. He trembled with anticipation. Needing so very much. Needing to be made clean, to atone. He needed to apologize and earn forgiveness. “I'm sorry, Draco! I wasn't careful enough! I got hurt when you needed to focus on healing! I am so, so sorry, I’m sorry…” he babbled into the pillow, crying helplessly. 

Draco lifted the hairbrush that he’d noticed on the bedside table. There was also a lamp and a thin glass vase with three white flowers, but all his focus was on the brush. It was wooden and heavy, the bristles made of soft hair. He turned it so that he could feel the solid back. He whacked it into his palm and felt a satisfying sting. He turned to Harry and tugged on his leg.

“I want you bent over the edge, Harry. Legs on the ground.”

Harry shifted so that he was sideways and his lower half fell over the edge of the bed as ordered. The bond boomed with his - GUILT hate NEED.

Draco smoothed his hand over Harry’s soft skin. “It’s going to hurt, Harry.”

Harry went limp, pliant and needy.

“Ready?”

“Please, Draco, please, sorry, so sorry…”

“Hush,” Draco commanded and Harry instantly became quiet, swallowing his pleas and sobs. 

Draco placed a hand on the small of Harry’s back for balance and brought the brush down with a smack on Harry’s ass. Harry’s hands clenched in the sheets as the burn registered. Another smack. Tears fell down his red face, soaking the bed underneath his head. Smack! He had to press his face into the sheets to muffle a pained cry. 

"I trusted you."

Harry whimpered as he was stuck hard. The pain was intense - regret sorrow pain.

"I could have hurt myself trying to get to you when I was potioned and hurt."

Harry felt sick. He squeezed his eyes shut and practically lifted his butt into the next blow, making it hurt as much as possible. His back glistened with sweat and he practically choked on the sheets to keep his cries muffled. 

Draco slowly realized that he was crying, tears wetting his face, making his blond hair clinging to his cheeks. Realized the tangle of sharp emotions choking him were his own. He could have lost Harry! He should have been there! His hand turned into a fist around the brush, but he refused to bring it down. Not when he was the one upset. He had to have a clear focus on Harry's emotions, his body language, or he could go past Harry's limit and truly hurt him. So he stood there and forced himself to calm, to breathe deeply.

“I want you to think about something,” Draco spoke calmly. “If you’re unconscious or too hurt to heal us when we’re attacked, we might not be able to walk away next time.”

Harry bit down hard into the blanket to smother a scream of - REGRET desperation pain.

"But after this. You'll remember to be careful. You'll remember what's at stake. And I'll forgive you."

Harry couldn't hold back a gasp at that promise and broke down into loud sobs, wanting that forgiveness more than anything. "Won't forget, Draco. Promise!" he cried out. 

 

"Hush," Draco said again, almost gently, and Harry did his best to strangle his sobs. "I'll make it better." He ran his hand over Harry's heated skin, took a deep breath, and lifted the brush once more and brought it down with a brutal smack! Harry tossed his head back with a gasp, consumed by the burning pain, blind to everything else. He arched into each blow, tears soaking his face.

Draco spanked Harry again and again, until he was breathing hard and his arm burned. He didn't stop swinging until the boy went limp, his sobs quieting to weak gasps, his emotions sliding into a quiet static. Harry’s ass was a blazing red that was certain to bruise. The heat that radiated from the boy’s skin increased with each blow until Draco could feel it an inch away.

Draco threw the brush aside and pulled Harry fully onto the bed. He turned the boy onto his side and faced him. Dazed, green eyes stared past him blindly. Huge tears rolling almost peacefully down his cheeks. “… it’s over… it’s done… so good, Harry… love you…” the blond murmured in a soft whisper, echoing the same words into Harry's mind. * You did good, Harry. Good boy. I love you. All is forgiven. Good boy. *

It took Harry several minutes to realize that the punishment had stopped. He blinked, feeling floaty and free. He was aware of his ass burning as if were on fire, the deep ache down to his bones, but it was distant. He felt warm and forgiven and loved. Draco was smiling at him, stroking his hair, kissing his tears away. Harry melted into his soft touch. Filled to bursting with love, he carefully touched Draco's cheek, traced the tear-tracks that were there. “Love you… thank you, Draco… yours, I’m yours… let me... Draco, let me take care of you... please...”

Draco gave a long sigh and let Harry roll him onto his stomach. Harry knelt on his side, careful to put no pressure on his bruised butt. There was a new blotchy scar between Draco’s shoulder blades, erasing the white lines and ropes embedded on his skin from his time in the Hold. Harry braced himself on his hands before leaning down to trace the new scar with his tongue. LOVE - beat like something alive in his chest, in his soul. 

Draco gasped as he felt Harry hovering over him, felt the heat of Harry’s love and magic soak deep into his body as the boy began to trace every single scar with his hot tongue. Halfway down his back, Draco began moaning, his hips began to rock against the bed as pleasure coiled and tightened in his gut. Harry’s sweat dripped onto Draco’s skin as he worked his way down Draco’s beautiful body. He could hardly contain his - joy pleasure desire - as Draco began thrusting against the bed. Draco, Draco, Draco… he chanted in his mind, completely lost to their spiraling pleasure. Gently kissing the small of Draco’s back, he whispered a desperate, “Please…”

Draco groaned deep in his chest and lifted up on his knees. He turned his head sideways on his forearms and growled, “Yes, Harry. Lick me open. Do it. Make me cum.” 

Harry almost exploded right there. Draco had never let him touch him there since that time in the Hold. Their first time. That Draco would allow him this once more when he didn’t deserve it … - GRATITUDE LOVE - Harry slithered his way down the bed and situated himself between Draco's spread thighs. He gently pressed the blond's cheeks apart and licked at Draco’s hole, getting it wet and soft. The sounds of Draco’s moans and gasps made Harry feel like he was on fire. Eyes fluttering closed, he pressed his tongue forward into that tight opening, and licked inside the rim. The taste was bitter and musky and Draco… Harry groaned hungrily and pressed ever closer, clinging to Draco’s hips. 

Draco was grunting now, his hips rocking back onto Harry’s face, setting the pace for Harry’s tongue to follow. Draco’s fists tore at the sheets. Pleasure spiked up his spine. So fucking good! He was so close. He freed one hand to reach between his legs. “Yes… Harry, mine… you’re mine…” he growled. Sharp stabs of pleasure, Harry’s hot mouth and his stabbing, wiggling tongue, the hungry little noises Harry made, god! Thrusting back, pressing Harry’s tongue as deep as it could go, the pleasure rolled through him like thunder. Blinded by stars, Draco spurt clear fluid over his fingers. Head thrown back with a guttural cry, he collapsed onto the bed. 

Dazed, thrumming with the orgasm, Draco rolled onto his side to see Harry kneeling on the bed, cheeks red, lips flushed and swollen, hair a mess, and his green eyes blazing. The bond practically screamed with - need desire LOVE. Their magic was still locked, filling the room with a thumping, incomplete power. Draco shivered and gave a slow smile. He shifted so he was lying on his back, his legs on either side of the gorgeous boy. 

“Touch yourself, Harry,” he whispered low. “Show me. Show me how good I make you feel.”

Harry whimpered, his eyes falling closed as he touched his stiff member with tentative fingers.

“Open your eyes.”

Harry obeyed and blushed as Draco stared back at him, eyes silver and lazy and happy. Harry practically melted into that look. The taste of Draco on his tongue, the sounds of Draco’s pleasure still ringing in his ears, the pain throbbing hotly, add to that the soft brush of his own fingers on his dick and it was nearly enough to send him over the edge. He gave a whole body shudder, flushed and heated and almost there. Draco watched his every move, his every expression. He was open and vulnerable and all Draco’s. 

Draco’s smiled that small, sweet smile that only Harry saw, and Harry sobbed, overwhelmed with how much he loved him - would do anything for him… “Not yet,” Draco purred. Harry whimpered and made his fingers even lighter to keep from cumming, just a feather’s touch, and it was still almost enough… “Please please please please…” he begged. Magic and pain and desire and love twisted the air into knots oh god he couldn’t hold back it was coming…

Draco sat up, all languid grace, and gripped Harry’s hips. The tips of his fingers pressed into the blazing heat of Harry’s ass. The boy tossed his head back with a soft cry, hand frozen as he barely hung on to Draco’s command to hold it, to wait. Their magic swirled and throbbed, filling the room with power on the verge of crashing down… Draco licked up Harry’s exposed throat and whispered into his skin, “Cum, Harry.”

Harry screamed, flinging his arms around Draco’s shoulders and tucking his face against Draco’s throat as his whole body curled forward. Howling magic broke over them in a wave, making Draco moan as he clung to his boy. Magic filled them to overflowing, healing their hurts, washing them clean, and they collapsed in a sweaty, panting heap wrapped in each other’s arms. 

“Good boy,” Draco whispered on the edge of unconsciousness. “Good boy, Harry.”

Harry curled in closer to Draco’s sheltering warmth and let sleep pull him under.

Chapter end.

Chapter Text

Making Plans

Draco led Harry out of the room by his hand. Harry blushed prettily and gave a shy smile to the waiting Narcissa.

Narcissa smiled gently back and stood from the chair that had been placed in the hall. She shrunk the parchment she’d been writing on and tucked it into a pocket in her skirt. “How are you feeling?”

“Much better,” Draco answered. He gave her an easy smile, his blond hair tucked behind his ears and his eyes a warm grey.

“Good.” She ached to reach out and touch her child’s cheek, but she knew better. “You are still not officially cleared to leave the Infirmary, so you’ll have to check in with Healer Pomfrey.”

Draco sighed. “Fine.” As he followed Narcissa down the hall, he asked, “What time is it?”

“It is Sunday, five fifteen in the evening.”

“Dinner will be served soon,” Draco said and glanced at Harry, hearing the boy’s stomach rumble. Harry’s blush deepened, making Draco laugh softly under his breath.

Pomfrey, her grey hair pulled back into a messy bun, looked cross as she straightened her pristine white apron. Her forbidding frown grew even darker when she scanned them and found them in perfect health. Well, except for the superficial bruising on Harry’s buttocks. She gave Narcissa a very disapproving look, but Narcissa returned it with icy composure, completely unruffled. Unfortunately, it was not within Pomfrey’s authority to criticize her parenting. Both boys bore new scars - Draco’s back where he’d been burned and Harry’s scalp where it had impacted stairs. Harry’s memory loss also remained, but otherwise they were in perfect health. There wasn’t even a trace of the healing spells and potions that had been in their systems not three hours ago.

“Ah, my boys, it’s good to see you up and about!” Dumbledore said with cheer, arriving at the end of their examination. His robes were a soft gold with green vines along the bottom hem and sleeves. Draco snorted as he noticed the small white flowers tucked into the old man’s waist-long beard. “Your bond is an amazing thing.” He chuckled. “It is a good thing your magic was accepted by Hogwarts and absorbed into the walls or I dare say the whole castle would have felt it. As it is, only myself and Minerva were able to feel the boost to the wards.”

Pomfrey humphed. “Channeling powerful magic while recovering from injury is dangerous,” she informed them with deep disapproval. 

Everyone in the room ignored her.

“Can we go?” Draco asked, bored. Harry was hungry.

“Yes, of course, of course,” Dumbledore answered jovially, but then his face took on a serious cast. “Be careful, my boy. Don’t do anything that would land you in trouble.”

“I won’t,” Draco promised. He’d be very sure his revenge wouldn’t be traced back to him. Looking up at Narcissa, he gave her a grateful smile. “Thank you for coming and looking out for us. Tell Lucius I’ll take care of it.”

Narcissa inclined her head. “Write often.”

“We will.”

“Bye, Narcissa,” Harry called softly as Draco tugged him to the door. His beautiful green eyes were soft and filled with contentment behind his round black glasses. “Love you.”

Narcissa teared up and gave him a wave as the boys disappeared back into the school.

They were the first to arrive in the Great Hall. Harry sat next to Draco at their usual table and winced as his butt came in contact with the hard wood of the bench. Draco watched through half-lidded eyes as the boy squirmed before finally resigning himself to the painful ache and sitting still.Harry ducked his head, feeling Draco's eyes on him - regret determination. Draco slid his fingers down Harry’s jaw and hooked his chin, gently lifting it up. “Good boy,” he said softly.

Harry stared at him with wide eyes - disbelief longing.

Smiling softly, Draco whispered it again, “Good boy. You took your punishment and made me feel so good. It's over, Harry. You did good. You're forgiven. I love you.”

Harry felt happy tears fill his eyes and he leaned into Draco's touch, accepting Draco's kiss on his lips - love acceptance peace.

Kids began entering the hall. Voices dropped to whispers as soon as they saw Harry and Draco sitting alone at the Gryffindor table. Draco idly wondered what rumors were being spread about them. Percy would be paying attention to the gossip and would report back to him later. It wasn’t long before their group started arriving. They walked in gloomily, their steps slow, their heads downcast. Hermione noticed them first. She said something and then came running over. Draco smiled and accepted the excited clasps on his shoulders from Dean, Seamus, and the Weasley twins. Harry received a more thorough welcome. The girls touched his shoulders and arms while the boys pounded on his back. Hermione even touched Harry’s hair. Harry blushed at the attention, but his mask was in place and he smiled up at them, hiding the pain of being jostled on his bruised bottom.

Draco cleared his throat. “We’re fine, guys. Sit down so we can eat.” 

As the group began to sit down at the table, giving them some space, Draco noticed that Ron had held back and that Neville was missing. He frowned at Hermione. “Where’s Neville?”

Her happy expression shifted to something more sad. She shook her head, her frizzy hair hitting Harry in the face. “He won’t come down. He thinks it’s his fault.” Her eyes shifted to Ron before looking back at Draco adding, “Harry probably wouldn’t have been hurt if you were there.”

Ron winced and sunk even lower on his seat.

Draco inclined his head slightly to let her know he understood that he had to deal with Ron. He also had to deal with Neville, but Hermione probably didn’t understand that or she’d have worded her answer differently. They ate dinner, listening as the twins and the others filled them in on what they’d missed. Apparently Ron and Harry had heard from Hagrid about the first ever break-in at Gringotts. Weird thing was, the thief had broken in to an empty vault. What were the odds? Raul, the Sixth-year Gryffindor bully, had congratulated Neville on a job well done earlier that afternoon, which was why Neville was hiding now. They had gotten their homework mostly done and offered to let Harry and Draco copy for tomorrow’s classes.

After dinner, they went back up to the common room. Draco maneuvered through their group to grab Ron’s wrist. He held it loosely, but the redhead still winced. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

Ron didn’t answer one way or another, but he followed Draco up the stairs. Harry trailed after them, saying goodnight to the others. In their dorm, Neville was sitting on his bed. His fat toad sat next to him, croaking sadly. Neville looked pale and exhausted. He stared dully as Harry carefully shut the door behind them and moved to the side, his head submissively bowed. Draco spun and faced Ron.

“So who did it?” he demanded lowly.

Ron fidgeted. “I don’t know… not for sure.”

Draco shoved him hard in the chest, making Ron stagger and his back hit the door with jarring force. He stared at Draco with wide, frightened eyes. “Don’t give me that shit,” Draco hissed. He stalked up to the slightly taller boy, eyes glittering. “You were right there and Harry almost died. I want a name.”

“I thought it was this Slytherin kid, a Third-year named Pucey,” Ron yelled, tears filling his eyes. “He was standing there smug as hell, staring down at us before everyone else rushed over, but he was one floor above where Harry fell, so it had to be by magic if it was him, and they checked his wand and everything and there was no proof! So I don’t know okay!”

Draco waited a moment to let the redhead’s tears slowly dry on his cheeks. “Okay,” he answered softly and backed off. 

Ron stared at him in shock. “That’s it?”

Draco lifted an eyebrow, half his hair falling to frame his face. “You’ll be more careful next time,” he stated darkly. It almost sounded like a threat.

Ron swallowed and nodded. He looked over at Harry. “I’m really sorry, mate. I’m… I’m glad you didn’t die.”

Harry lifted his head and gave him a beautiful smile. “Thanks, Ron.”

Ron blushed, his freckles disappearing under the wave of red, and shifted awkwardly again. “So… can I go?”

Draco nodded, his attention was already on Neville. He hardly noticed as Harry and Ron shared a few more words before Ron slipped out of the room. Neville wore an expression very similar to Harry’s - wide-eyes full of pain and need, pale with flushed cheeks, trembling lips. It tugged at his insides. Draco walked slowly up to the boy, leaving only a few inches between them. Neville had ducked his head as soon as Draco had started moving toward him, his pale hands clutched at the sheets. Draco slowly slid his school robe off his shoulders to pool at his feet. Then he began to unbutton his shirt. He let the shirt fall to the floor to join his robe. Neville’s breath hitched, but his head remained down. Draco turned, displaying his back.

“Look.” It was a command and he felt Neville’s eyes slowly lift. He glanced over his shoulder to see the boy looked close to passing out. Horror was written across his face. * Harry, show him. *

Harry came away from where he stood by the door and went to them. He sat next to Neville and gave him a sweet smile. “These are from the Hold where Draco was before we met.” He gently traced one of the whip scars. “This was from your potion.” He traced the outline of the splotch of scar between Draco’s shoulder blades.

Neville whimpered. Tears streaked his face. “I-I’m s-s-sorry…” he rasped.

You didn’t do it on purpose… He’d probably heard that a hundred times from Hermione already. It was an accident… equally useless. It wouldn’t even touch the guilt Neville felt. He didn’t want it explained away, but maybe not even Neville understood what he did want… what he needed. But Draco did. Neville needed atonement so that he could feel forgiven.

Draco turned and faced the chubby boy with the round cheeks and guilty brown eyes. He bent forward, putting their faces close together as he fisted the other boy’s thick hair. “You were careless. You were afraid and made a mistake. It got me hurt. Added to my scars.”

Neville winced. He didn’t even try to escape the blond’s hold. He stared up at him almost desperately. “Yes,” he sobbed.

“You’re gonna make it up to me.” Draco smiled, slow and dangerous. His fist tightened, making the boy whimper in pain. “You’re going to do our homework for tomorrow and then you’re going to start studying potions. You’re going to study it until you make the perfect potion. To apologize.”

“Yes, sir…” Neville’s eyes widened at the words that spilled from his lips. Draco was the same age as him. He was smaller than him even, but for some reason it felt right on a deep level to call him that.

Draco’s eyes softened. “Good.” He released Neville and gently brushed his fingers over the boy’s damp cheek in reward. “Get to work.”

Neville scrambled off the bed, past Harry, to his school bag discarded in the corner.

Harry began to pick up Draco’s clothes. 

“I’m going out of a bit. Stay here.” Draco’s eyes flashed over his shoulder as he pulled on a sweater to wear over his jeans.

“Yes, Draco,” Harry answered easily.

Neville nodded with a hot blush.

“Good,” Draco repeated, almost purring.

Both of the boys flushed with pleasure at the blond’s praise.

Leaving his dorm mates, Draco searched for Percy. He wasn’t in the common room, so he went down to the study Percy had shown him before. Sure enough, the older teen was waiting for him. He was writing an essay at the desk and smiled as Draco approached.

“How are you feeling?” Percy asked quietly.

“Good as new,” Draco answered. He stood next to Percy’s chair, facing the teen, with his back to the corner of the desk. He leaned back against it. They were about eye level with Percy sitting and Draco standing. “What’s the word?”

Percy pushed his glasses higher up his nose. “Some people think it was just an accident. The rest think it was the Slytherins although no one knows who. Nott’s name has been bandied about. The rumor is he was jealous that Harry made the Quidditch team because of the stunt during flying class. Some people are saying the potions accident was rigged somehow to get you out of the way. All part of a Slytherin plan. I kept my eye on Quirrell, but he didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.”

Draco hummed. He glanced down at Percy’s essay. “Can I borrow parchment? I need to write a letter.”

Percy got some out of his bag and relinquished his seat so the blond could sit. Percy leaned his hip against the desk as he watched Draco pen a quick note. He didn’t try reading it. He’d learned over the years that sometimes it was for the best not to know everything. Still, a question burned on his tongue and slipped past his lips no matter how much he tried to hold it in.

“So was it Pucey?” Ron was his little brother. He knew who he’d fingered. He had practically screamed the accusation in front of dozens of witnesses when Harry had fallen.

Grey eyes looked up at him curiously. “You know it was.”

Percy bit his lip for a split second before continuing. “There were a lot of people on the landing, Draco. He wasn’t the only one smirking. His wand turned up clean. Are you sure?”

Draco frowned. He put the quill down and sat back in the chair. “Slytherins have a lot of ways of covering things up. He’s a Third-year. I’m sure he could manage it. He also made a threatening statement about Malfoys hooking up with Potters at the robe shop. We also know he’s very firmly on the Dark side. He saw an opportunity and took it. It was violent and impulsive. Not many other people are capable of that. On top of that, Ron was there and his instincts told him it was Pucey. People always forget we’re animals on a basic level. Instincts are often correct.” He stood and pushed at Percy’s chest with the palm of his hand, warningly. His eyes glittered dangerously as he stared up at the older teen. “I won’t let bastards like Pucey get away with shit because they know how to work the system. Society may need proof, but I don’t.”

Draco’s words were full of double meaning. Percy had been a helpless Third-year when he’d been molested and eventually raped. It was always at night while every one else slept and he’d always passed out afterward. When he woke in the morning, drenched in sweat and terrified, there had been no marks, no evidence. It was impossible for a man to break into the dorms. Without proof, no one would have believed him, but Draco had believed. More than that he had done something about it. It made no rational sense. It shouldn’t have been possible that a kid four years younger than him could protect him from dozens of miles away, but Draco had. Percy hadn’t been touched since. Just as Draco had promised. So as unrealistic as it may seem for Draco to know who did this to Harry, Percy had to believe he did.

“Okay,” he allowed, ducking his head. His posture relaxed as he submitted. “What do you need me to do?”

Draco eyed him for a long minute before nodding. He sat and finished his letter. He rolled it up and held it between his fingers, staring up at Percy through his lashes. “Mail this for me.”

Percy nodded his head. “Okay,” he said again as he accepted the parchment. “Be careful. If you get caught, you’ll end up dealing with the Aurors.”

Draco snorted. He thought very little of the magical government and its law enforcement. “Yeah. I’ll be careful.”

Percy packed up his essay, ink, and quill and put his bag over his shoulder. “I’ll go to the Owlery now.”

Draco said nothing as he watched Percy leave. He didn’t like all this doubt about his ability to protect Harry. He’d have to make sure his revenge was executed perfectly, so that everyone thought twice about attacking Harry again and so that Percy and those he intended to protect never doubted him again.

Remus got up from the small dining nook in the cottage in Hogsmeade he’d purchased almost two years ago to open a window. A barn owl swooped in, a rolled up parchment in its beak. “Hello, there,” he cooed softly, stroking its feathers. 

The cottage was small: two bedrooms and a full bath upstairs, a sitting room, kitchen with attached dinning nook, and a laundry downstairs. It was set far back from High Street on the edge of the town and backed into the mountains where Hogsmeade had been placed. It was an all-magical village set above and to the south of Hogwarts. The main road led to the school on one end and ended at the train station at the other.

He made the walk to Hogwarts and the Whomping Willow every month. He could have walked to the Shrieking Shack from his cottage in minutes, but he didn’t want any of the villagers to see him go in and get suspicious, so he used the tunnel from the school. Plus, he liked to patrol the school’s boarder. It was useless. He couldn’t do much in the great scheme of things to protect anything or anyone, but his instincts still drove him to try.

It made him feel both satisfied and restless to know the boys were now so close. He unrolled the letter, wondering what Muggle things they needed now, and his smile fell. His gut clenched and he had the urge to growl. Someone had hurt Harry and Draco needed help punishing the guilty person. 

He strode to the fire in the sitting room and threw the letter in. He’d leave nothing to incriminate Draco. He grabbed his jacket and house keys and strode out into the night. He had a few errands to run.

Harry, sweetie, I’m sorry we had to leave you so soon, but Denebola was not comfortable in Hogwarts. The longer we were there the more restless she became. Perhaps she is sensitive to the magic of the school. I can only hope she’ll either grow out of it or more in control as she gets older. It would be a shame if she could not attend. 

The healer assured me you would be well and Draco promised the same. More importantly, Narcissa refused to leave your side. I knew she would make sure you are safe there. It was the only thing that made me feel comfortable enough to go. The next time I have need to come to Hogwarts, I’ll leave little Denebola with Remus in Hogsmeade.

Ted sends his love. Denebola tried to eat the edge of this parchment, so I take that to mean she also misses you. Be careful, Harry. The world is filled with troubled people. Be on your guard, but do not let it get in the way of your happiness. Draco, I know you are reading this, too. This advice goes for you as well. Don’t let this ruin your experience at Hogwarts or let it land you in trouble. 

Congratulations on your Sorting to Gryffindor, both of you! And on making Seeker, Harry. The youngest in a century! And Draco as reserve! I know you two will accomplish so many great things. I’m very proud of you.

All my love,

Andromeda Tonks

Harry handed the letter to Draco and returned to his breakfast. Draco read it quickly and tucked it into his bag. Neville had written the homework due for today’s classes three times and given them each one so that they’d be ready. They had Xylomancy, Potions theory, lunch, DADA theory, and their Charms practical. It was definitely going to be a busy day.

They spent the fist half of Xylomancy opening themselves to the universe and magic. Hermione and most of the boys were very suspicious and embarrassed by this process, but the other girls took it seriously. Even tomboys Fay and Kell. Harry, of course, approached all of their classes with earnest concentration while Neville was always nervous. Draco tried his best to block out his roommate’s low level anxiety, Ron and Seamus elbowing each other, Dean’s snickering, and Hermione scoffing. He let Professor Mopsus’s deep voice roll over him. 

Their professor chanted in a foreign language before transitioning to English. He asked for enlightenment and wisdom, asked that his pupils be given signs and messages that they could understand. As the minutes dragged on, the class grew more calm and slowly became still. There was a hypnotic quality to the man’s voice and it even seemed that his one blue eye seemed to glow while the brown one seemed to grow darker. 

They were told to partner up and wander the grounds to look for twigs, fallen branches, or drift wood to examine. Slowly the class grew more animated as they left Professor Moss’s vicinity. They began to laugh and play. In contrast, Draco remained quiet and wandered away from the group toward the forest edge with Harry in tow. Draco felt almost meditative. He walked with no direction, no thought. Just let impulse guide him. He felt at peace like when he got Occluding just right, but without the sense of effort or strain that it took to maintain. It was effortless. 

The morning was crisp, an autumn chill in the air. Clouds hung toward the north, threatening rain. They walked in silence for several minutes, just taking everything in. They found a fallen tree limb just out of sight of the lake and Hagrid’s hut. It had fallen on a rock and the base had cracked before tumbling to the side. The leaves were dry and dying, but one side of the branch had more, the other was barren. 

As Draco stared at it, he could feel something. Like the branch had fallen according to a pattern in the universe and not randomly. It felt significant in a weird way. As if from a distance he could hear Harry drawing what they had found as best he could in the Muggle notebook Remus had mailed them that morning. Minutes passed and Draco continued to stare enraptured. Eventually Harry began to quietly flip through their textbook, trying to look up meanings that matched the branch they had found.

“The rock represents conflict,” Draco whispered lowly, almost as if he were half-asleep. “There are two paths from that conflict. One that leads to…” He groped for the word, but it wouldn’t come. Instead he gestured at the thin, naked twigs on the leafless half of the branch. “The other is more… full of possibility.” He gestured at the side of the branch that still had leaves, dying as they were.

“Very good, young Malfoy,” Professor Mopsus walked up the hill and stopped at their side. He also stared at the branch. “It is clear one path is more favorable than the other,” he agreed, voice low and soothing.

Draco nodded thoughtfully. “Thank you, Professor.” He gave a respectful bow of his head and took Harry’s hand. 

The bell had sounded. Class was over.

Hermione was very surprised when Neville quietly asked to use the individual desk in Potions. It wasn’t a practical, it was only theory, but Neville wanted to make it clear that he was studying hard as Draco had told him. The image of Draco’s scar haunted him. He was desperate to get that weight off his chest, to breathe freely again. He didn’t deserve it and he was bound to mess it all up, but he couldn’t help striving for forgiveness anyway. 

Ron was equally surprised when a huffy Hermione came to be his partner. He stared at her like she had three heads or something until she gave him a glare that could have melted a glass cauldron. He quickly turned his attention to the lecture and his notes after that. As the class wore on, he grew increasingly uncomfortable and aggravated. The girl kept making soft tsking noises and would reach over to actually draw an X over some of his words because he got the note wrong. It was aggravating as hell. He could fix his notes later himself, thanks! She made him feel like an idiot, so he of course hated her by the end of class. He shoved everything messily into his bag, glared at her when she opened her mouth to lecture him, and stormed out of the class. 

Draco stared as the flushed and embarrassed Hermione snapped at Neville to, “Hurry up!” He frowned. The girl was clearly upset and he didn’t like how that threw Neville off balance. The boy began to stutter and actually tripped over his own shoe lace in the hall, spilling his things everywhere. Draco tensed to intervene, but instead of screaming at the flustered boy, Hermione dropped to her knees and helped him clean up with tears on her cheeks. Draco hurried Harry past them, preventing him from helping. He knew that would only make Hermione more embarrassed and likely piss her off again.

Draco sent Harry on to the table with the order to cool Ron down if he could and waited for the twins. He didn’t have to wait long. He gave the teens a friendly smile and asked, “Can I talk to you a moment before lunch?”

“Of course,” George answered ecstatically.

“You’re our favorite trouble-maker, after all,” Fred agreed with a huge grin.

They pulled him into a broom closet a few doors down from the Great Hall. Draco brushed his hair out of his eyes, sandwiched between the two Third-years. His chest was pressed up against George’s chest while Fred pressed up close to his back. 

“What can we do for you?” Fred asked, giggling. 

“Isn’t so tight in here when it’s just us,” George admitted ruefully.

“He looked smaller before we crammed him in here with us,” Fred agreed and rested his chin on the top of Draco’s head.

Draco shrugged him off as best he could. “I have a revenge plan in play, but I had to make a little adjustment. Instead of having it go off in the Great Hall, it needs to happen in the Slytherin Common room. I got a few friends who can help me with opening the portrait, but do you have any advice on how to get there from Gryffindor Tower and not get caught? The portraits are all more alert than normal. I never see them sleeping now.”

“Dumbledore’s not messing around,” George said wryly. 

“He was pretty furious that Harry was hurt,” Fred sighed and leaned as far back as he could, trying to give the blond space.

“You should have heard his lecture Saturday night at dinner…” George trailed off and met Fred’s eyes. Silent communication passed between them. 

Draco waited impatiently. It was getting hot crammed in here with these two. 

“Should we, Forge?” George finally asked out loud.

“I think we should, Gred,” Fred agreed.

“We haven’t even let our dorm mates see what we’re going to show you,” George whispered, staring intently down into Draco’s eyes. 

“You gotta swear to keep it secret,” Fred added and gripped Draco’s shoulders tightly.

The flashback came hard and fast, nearly making him throw up, but before it could come clear, the spell Snape had taught him snapped into place, distancing him from the memory and giving him back control. Draco forced himself to stay still. It felt like all the air had been knocked out of his lungs. Sweat beaded his face, his hands shook, and he felt nauseous as all hell, but he could hide it.

“Of course. I swear I’ll never reveal what you show me,” he promised after a few seconds, voice even.

“That room you go to with Percy sometimes. Go there tonight. Midnight,” George whispered and burst out of the closet with dramatic force. 

Fred tumbled after his twin, laughing and carrying on. 

Draco stepped over the brooms and mops calmly, but his face was pale. 

Harry knew something wasn’t right without Draco saying a word. He hovered at Draco’s side and became loud and friendly, drawing everyone’s attention away from Draco’s withdrawn, disconnected behavior. Draco made it through lunch, DADA, and Charms. He even made it through dinner, but he could feel his control slipping. The spell wouldn’t last much longer. Harry made a big deal about his stomach hurting, giving Draco the perfect chance to disappear with Harry up in their room. Harry had managed to whisper in Neville’s ear, asking him to give them an hour or so before he came up to bed. The boy had agreed.

Draco collapsed to his knees just inside their dorm room. He hugged his torso, his control slipping as a violent and painful memory trembled deep in his mind, ready to consume him. Harry didn’t try to touch him. He knelt at Draco’s side and spoke lowly, softly. “You’re okay, Draco. No one’s going to hurt you. You’re safe now. I’m here…”

Draco gave a full body shudder and curled over his knees, forehead pressing hard into the floor. He bit his lip hard enough to make it bleed, trying to keep in his screams… He was there. In the Hold. In the dark, damp swaying. Men came barreling down the stairs. They never came down. Not since Draco had taken over. They were fast but strangely quiet. They pried up boards that made up the floor, revealing dark squares. Like tiny coffins. The men gagged the crying children. Tied their hands behind their backs. Tied their ankles. Then they started shoving the tussed-up kids into the holes before putting the boards back into place. Shutting them in.

Draco was yanked forward. He stared with empty eyes as his hands were quickly and efficiently bound. He knew what was coming. His heart hammered in his chest. The bruises and welts felt icy cold against his skin. His ankles were tied. The gag came toward his face. No. Not that. He already couldn’t breathe. His chest was tight with terror. The smell of piss filled the air. A few kids had wet themselves in fear. He shook his head as the gag pressed at his mouth. The man grabbed a fistful of his hair and brought their faces together.

“You make a sound. The smallest sound. I’ll take you apart piece by bloody, screaming piece,” he growled, his breath hot and heavy against Draco’s face. 

Then he was grabbed by his shoulders from behind. The grip tight and heavy. He was shoved in the box with three other kids. Skin against his, warm, wet, wiggling. Pressed in tight. An elbow in his gut, hands scratching at his hip, a knee pressed against his balls, his cheek against a boy’s shoulder, the rub of a girl’s gag rough against his back. They were all naked and terrified. The boards came down and it went pitch black. 

He could hear the muffled gasps of the kids pressed against him, on him, beneath him. Feel it as if they were his own. Every breath was a struggle, their lungs labored around him. Piss dripped on his skin, stung his marks. Draco didn’t make a sound. His hands worked, dug into skin, drew blood, as if trying to claw his way out, but they were useless, bound at the small of his back, pressed into another kid’s body. The girl behind him strained against him. He could taste her panic, her terror. She thrashed as much as she could with being pressed in so tight. Then she went rigid and then still. 

Draco shuddered. He knew. Knew she was dead. He gulped in the tainted air. It felt thinner. He couldn’t breathe. Oh god get me out of here I can’t breathe I’m going to die get them off oh god please get them off me…

“… please come back. I’m right here, Draco. With you. You’re okay. You’re safe…”

Harry’s voice. Draco slowly cracked open his eyes. He realized he was digging his forehead into the rug, his arms wrapped tight around him as he curled into a painful ball on the floor. His face was soaked with tears and sweat. His clothes clung to his body. Muscles stiff, he carefully uncurled and gasped in air, desperate to breathe again. He was shaking.

Harry lovingly helped him to his feet and stripped him of his clothes. He wrapped Draco in a robe and towed him to the bathroom. There, Harry washed him in cool water before bundling him back up and taking him back to their room. Neville was there. He watched them worriedly, but he didn’t say anything. Only Harry’s soft sweet voice filled the room. Talking about nothing, just a soft voice in the darkness. 

Draco was pulled into bed. When he tensed at Harry’s touch, the boy carefully gave him enough space so they wouldn’t touch during the night. Numb, Draco fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. He never made a sound.

Chapter end

Chapter Text

Revenge

Harry woke Draco with soft kisses. He’d cracked open their bed hangings and let in the lamp light to dance and flutter over them. Draco sighed, tension leaving his frame as he pulled Harry against his chest. Their lips slid sensually and slowly against each other, Draco’s tongue taking languid swipes at the inside of Harry’s mouth. His hands tangled in Harry’s thick, messy hair as they kissed, scratching gently at the boy’s scalp and making him shiver. It felt amazing to have Harry’s warm, pliant body pressed against his. It felt like home and comfort. 

Sighing again, Draco broke their kiss, trailing his wet lips along Harry’s jaw. His hands tightened in his boy’s hair, lifting Harry’s head so that he could get to his throat. Harry gave a soft whine as Draco bit down on his leather collar. * Love you, * he whispered into his boy’s mind.

- joy LOVE - poured through the bond like warm syrup.

“What time is it?” Draco whispered, hands exploring Harry’s naked back and sides.

Harry pulled away to reach for his glasses and Draco’s watch. It had been a gift from Ted for Draco’s eleventh birthday. It had a thin black leather band and a round silver face. The background was a light emerald green in color, nearly the exact shade of Harry’s crystalline eyes. The numbers were roman numerals and the hands were thin and delicate with a spade-like shape at each tip. Draco didn’t prefer to have things around his wrists or fingers, but he’d taken to wearing the watch once they’d started Hogwarts. Harry read it carefully and answered, “Quarter to six.”

Draco sat up and ran his hands through his hair with a frustrated frown. He’d missed his midnight meeting with the twins! He wondered how upset they’d be if he went and woke them up now. Mentally shrugging, he decided to find out. “You have Quidditch practice in thirty minutes. Get ready,” he ordered. Quidditch season hadn’t officially started yet, but Wood was running practice for last year’s members twice a week - on Tuesday and Thursday. Once try-outs were held and the season officially kicked off, practice would be five days a week - Monday through Friday morning, six-fifteen to eight. “I’m going to go talk to Fred and George. I’ll meet you at the pitch to walk you to breakfast.” Draco felt safe enough letting Harry go alone. Very few people were awake at this hour and the dust had yet to settle after the last attack. Harry should be safe.

“Yes, Draco.” Harry smiled and happily accepted the last gentle kiss that Draco placed on his lips. He climbed out of bed, but looked back curiously as Draco grabbed his wrist.

Draco crawled to the edge of the bed and sat, lifting Harry’s nightshirt. He ran a hand over the deep purple bruises on each soft butt cheek. It would be a good two weeks before they healed fully. Riding a broom must be painful. Draco looked up at Harry and considered healing it, but the calmness of the green eyes that stared back at him over a soft, round shoulder decided him against it. The bruises hurt, but Harry wasn’t upset about it, and it really was a lesson that Draco wanted Harry to take to heart.

With that in mind, he took a handful of each round cheek and squeezed a bit, making Harry hiss softly under his breath. “Remember to be careful,” Draco whispered against Harry’s neck, the boy’s head bowed submissively forward. “You need to make sure you’re always well enough to heal us if necessary.” He stood and hugged the boy from behind before giving him a gentle shove forward. “Now get ready,” he repeated.

Harry obeyed with another soft, “Yes, Draco,” filled with - determination gratitude.

“Good boy,” he murmured and accepted the school uniform Harry handed him.

Draco found the twins’ room by stalking silently through the dark dorms one by one. He shook his head in wonder. Not one of the doors had been locked. He wondered briefly what the others would think when they realized they locked their door at night. Draco shook his head. They’d cross that bridge when they came to it. He found the twins in the fourth room that he searched. He smiled when he saw that they shared a bed. They didn’t cuddle, however. One twin was almost diagonal across the mattress, his arms and legs flung wide. The other lay on their side with their arms and legs pulled close. If he had to guess, he bet it was Fred sprawled out and George curled up. 

Draco climbed onto the bed with them, kneeling by the teen curled up on his side, and pulled the hangings closed to muffle his voice. He left it cracked toward the top so that some of the lamp light would spill inside. “George, Fred,” he whispered softly in the dark. “Wake up.” The twin closest to him gave a sleepy mumble and pressed his face deeper into the pillow. The one sprawled out curled up, mirroring his brother as he rolled onto his side. “George.” Draco poked the redhead’s shoulder. He was more sure than ever that was who lay next to him. “Wake up, George.”

A brown eye cracked open, the exact same color as their older brother Percy. “Wha?” he slurred.

“Sorry I didn’t meet you. I was… busy. Can we meet now?” he asked gently, grey eyes warm and earnest.

George snaked his arm out and pulled Draco down with an arm hooked around his waist. “It’s okay. Just a dream…” the redhead soothed sweetly. He tucked Draco against his chest, his cheek rubbing sleepily against Draco’s soft, white-blond hair.

Draco laughed quietly. “I didn’t have a bad dream, George, but thank you. Come on, wake up…” He wiggled around so that he faced George and ran his hand over the redhead’s face in gentle swipes from his forehead, over his nose, and back up. “What were you guys going to show me?”

“Show?” George’s eyes blinked slowly open once more only to close again. “Tha’s nice.”

Draco sighed and stopped. He couldn’t imagine going back to sleep when someone was touching him. The twins were weird. He shook the teen’s shoulder a bit more firmly. “Yeah, what were you going to show me?”

George’s eyes opened up and squinted at him. “What time s’it?”

Draco slithered his arm up between their chests and checked his watch. He had to squint in the low light. “Almost six-fifteen.”

“Six…” Fred groaned from behind his brother. “Really. And you're in our bed, why?”

“I wanted to know what you were going to show me,” Draco explained patiently. “To help me get past the portraits.”

“At six,” Fred repeated grumpily.

“Yes,” Draco said, amused. He still lay in George’s loose embrace, looking into the teen’s sleepy eyes from only a few inches away. “What time do you usually get up?”

“Depends,” George answered in a sleepy whisper. “Is it for a prank?”

“Trust me. It’ll be epic,” Draco promised, voice dark and low.

Fred’s head appeared above George’s shoulder, propped up by his hand. “Fine.” He sat up and stretched, whacking his brother across the back. “Up, George.”

George grumbled, hugged Draco one last time, and sat up. “Fine. I’m up.”

Draco flashed them a winning smile, sitting up with them. “Great!”

Fred climbed out of bed and grabbed something from their trunk. Draco took note that the trunk at least had been locked with at least three spells as far as Draco could tell. It made him relax a little, knowing he wasn’t be seen as strange by the others for locking their dorm door. Not that he cared what anyone thought about him, but he’d come to realize that it sometimes caused more problems than it was worth when they got too much negative attention. 

Fred climbed back onto the bed, maneuvering so that Draco sat between him and George. They put their heads close to Draco’s and slowly unveiled their treasure. It was a map. A very, very special map. It was… beyond anything Draco could have conceived. It had every secret passage and everyone in the castle marked out in real time. With wide yes, Draco touched the soft parchment with reverent fingers. He wanted it badly, but he knew they’d never give it up, which made him insanely frustrated for a brief moment before he took a deep breath. At least the map existed at all and the twins would let him use it occasionally. He should be grateful. 

The mental pep-talk only did so much. Draco still wanted it, but he was able to relax his shoulders and smile at the twins. “This is brilliant.”

They nodded in unison and echoed with solemn agreement, “Brilliant.”

“How did you figure out the code words to turn it on and off?” Draco asked curiously, eyes bright with excitement, a lock of blond hair falling across his face.

“Well, when it’s off and you speak to it while tapping it with your wand, words appear and talk back,” George explained.

Fred grinned. “After enough experiments, we were able to piece together clues by the end of First-year and voila!”

“We opened the Marauder’s Map,” they said together, clearly proud of themselves.

“Amazing.” Draco forced his hand to drop from the pages. “So what’s your advice?”

They put their heads together and figured out a way to bypass the portraits and get Draco to the Slytherin common room without being seen. In return, Draco described his plan. Fred and George stared at him for a moment before breaking into identical grins. “Epic,” the said together, their voices one.

Just over an hour later, Draco left the twins and trotted happily out to the pitch. Today was going to be a great day. Not only would he get his revenge, it was also Tuesday. Tuesday was one of only two class days where they didn’t have a class with Slytherin. The only other day that happened was Friday. Today they had their Potions intensive with just the Gryffindor First-years, History of Magic and Herbology with Hufflepuff, and their Transfiguration practical with Ravenclaw.

Neville had been studying Potions hard every night, so when they were given a quiz, he answered two out of three questions right. It still wasn’t an O, but it was passing. When Draco gave him a nod of recognition, it made Neville so happy that he became even more determined to get an O and earn his forgiveness. Hermione, of course, was the only one who answered all three questions correctly. Harry felt terrible, answering only two out of the three correctly. Draco had gotten the same score, but it was because they hadn’t been studying as much as they could be. The rest of the class only answered one right, which was a failing grade.

Professor Binns began his lecture almost as soon as they walked in and concluded over an hour later with, “Another very notable moment in history during this time, children, was the wildcat Gargoyle Strike of 1911. Now, a wildcat strike action is a strike action undertaken by unionized workers without union leadership’s authorization, support, or approval. This is sometimes termed an unofficial industrial action. Wildcat strikes were the key pressure tactic union workers would use against the unjust workforce as well as a complacent union. The wildcats were winning during the Gargoyle Strike of 1911 when something noteworthy happened. I want you to write three inches inferring from what I’ve told you today what that action may have been and include an explanation supporting your hypothesis.”

They staggered out of his class groggy from listening to his ghostly voice and in desperate need of a dictionary. Lunch was just the thing they needed to perk themselves back up and fortunately the following two classes were more hands on. They practiced the Fire-Making Spell in Herbology so that they would be able to handle the Spiky Bush that they would be dealing with in their classes next week. 

As a demonstration and to motivate the students, Professor Sprout had brought a potted one into the class. The terrifying bush was small since it was in a pot, and she promised the ones in the greenhouse would be twice as big. The potted plant stood about half their height, but it was three times as wide and almost perfectly round. It had pale yellow spikes growing out of the thick green leaves. Professor Sprout demonstrated its danger by approaching with a fast, violent hand gesture. The yellow spikes were launched through the air with horrifying speed. A quick Incendio and the spikes turned to ash before they impaled the short, chubby woman.

In Transfiguration, they reviewed the transformation formula, which was that the intended transformation was directly influenced by bodyweight, viciousness, wand power, concentration, and a fifth unknown variable. Then they began to try to transform matches into needles. It was surprisingly difficult, but Hermione was again able to master the new spell in a single class period, much to the rest of the class’s frustration and Harry’s shame. 

Harry wasn’t proud of his academic progress so far. He needed to do better. He had to find time to study and practice more. He refused to be a burden to Draco. After class, they had almost an hour before dinner, so he asked politely if anyone wanted to join him in the library. Hermione instantly agreed. So did Neville. Draco frowned thoughtfully. “Go straight there and wait for me to get you before going down to dinner,” he decided. “I have something to do.”

Harry agreed, but Hermione bristled at Harry being ordered around.

“He can do what he wants. If you’re so worried, come with us,” she snapped and crossed her arms firmly over her chest.

Draco stared her down, making her blush and scowl. “Harry’s not your concern,” he said lowly. “You have your own problems to worry about, Hermione,” he finished with brutal honesty. They were just into their second week of school and already the rest of the Gryffindor First-years were beginning to avoid her like the plague. Her reputation for being a stuck-up know-it-all was spreading. Hardly anyone except for Neville would willingly partner with her in classes. 

Harry and Neville shifted nervously, looking back and forth between their faces. 

Hermione glared, but she said nothing.

Draco finally moved his eyes back to Harry. “See you soon.”

Harry’s eyes dropped submissively as he answered, “Yes, Draco.”

* Good boy, * Draco praised in a whisper directly into Harry’s mind.

Harry’s head came back up, a happy flush brightening his cheeks.

Hermione complained about Draco all the way to the library until Harry was able to distract her with their assignments. Their Magical Theory essay was due tomorrow. Harry and Neville had only written half of it, much to Hermione’s horror.

Draco made his way quickly to the owlery. He took out the treats he’d put in his pocket and fed Hedwig some before launching her out the window with the order to go to Remus. He’d given the man enough time to get what he needed ready. Draco perched in the window as he waited for her to return and quickly scratched out the outlines of an essay that was due tomorrow. He didn’t have to wait long. About half an hour later, Hedwig winged back in over his head, dropping a fist-sized box into his lap. 

With a dangerous grin, Draco carelessly shoved his essay into his bag and immediately headed back into the castle along the route he’d memorized with the twins early that morning. His heart thundered in his chest. Soon he’d have his revenge. He’d make it clear there would be a heavy cost for attacking who was his. His vision almost tunneled in, he was so focused on his task. Every sound, smell, and shifting shadow registered as he moved silently through the secret corridors and rarely-used back hallways. No portrait saw him. No ghost sensed his presence. Draco was hunting, and he wouldn’t be stopped until he had the blood of his prey filling his mouth.

Heart beating strong in his chest, Draco slipped out of the shadows at the door to the Slytherin common room. A whispered password later, provided by the devious twins of course, he was able to crack the door. Luck was with him, no one was inside, thanks to the Felix Felicis that Remus had bought. Remus had also provided the shrunk crate. 

Draco slipped in quickly and went to the nearest dark corner. He pulled the nearly fist-sized wooden box out of his pocket and tapped it three times with his wand. It expanded to almost four times its size. The soft sounds of something moving inside of it could be heard, making Draco grin fiercely. This next part would be tricky. It would require all of his concentration and willpower. Draco summoned the memory of Harry floating limp, blood spilling, face pale as death and found all the determination he needed. 

Harry shifted subtly on his chair. The library chairs were harder than the ones in the classrooms or even the Great Hall. Probably to keep students who were studying late into the night awake, but it made his butt ache fiercely. The sharp ache reminded him of the bed digging into his stomach and the repeated blows that struck his burning skin, sending pain shooting up his spine. It made him remember Draco’s tearful eyes and the worry and exhaustion there. Made him remember his failure, but it also reminded him of Draco's forgiveness and his pride. He'd been proud of Harry. 

“Harry,” Hermione hissed, annoyed. She tapped the table in front of him. “You’re clearly tired. Let’s go eat. Dinner started nearly half an hour ago!”

Harry shook his head, keeping his face averted. He felt unexpectedly raw, his mask slipping from his features. He pulled his transfiguration textbook closer, lifting the muggle pencil more firmly in his hand to take more notes in his composition notebook. He had to study. He had to get better. He had to be strong enough to help Draco.

“Five more minutes,” Neville asked softly, trying to keep the peace. 

This was the third time he'd asked for more time and Hermione wasn’t having it, her face painted red with frustration. She had opened her mouth to insist more strongly that Harry put away his books and come eat when Draco strode into the library, distracting her. The blond had his hair tucked tightly behind his ears. It was darker than normal and oily from sweat. He had dust and grime on one cheek and across his forehead, his school robe looked as if it had been hastily brushed off, and the tips of his short nails were dark with dirt underneath.

“What were you doing?” she demanded. It annoyed her to no end that Harry, who just as second ago had refused to go to dinner, had immediately closed his books.

Draco gave her a cool look, his expression hard. He deliberately didn’t answer, instead looking to Harry and grabbing his hand. Hermione glared at the blond’s back the whole way to dinner, ignoring Neville’s every attempt to distract her with conversation.

Percy had been busy carrying out Draco’s request. Throughout the last few days, he’d casually spread the information that Harry had needed seven healing spells and two potions to the right people. He emphasized that, had Harry not been minutes from the Infirmary, he’d likely have died from the fall. That meant by the end of dinner Tuesday night everyone knew about it. He gave Draco a subtle nod as he ate. The blond didn’t acknowledge him in any way and yet Percy knew with certainty that Draco had seen and understood his signal. He smiled down into his soup, content to wait to see what the boy had planned.

Draco positioned himself so that he was standing at the Great Hall doors, supposedly waiting for Harry who had gone back to the Weasley twins to tell them something, when the group of Slytherin Third-years began to leave the Hall after dinner. Draco watched them with with hard, predatory eyes. The teens shifted with unease and unconsciously grouped even tighter together as they walked up to the blond, their voices dropping to nervous whispers. When it was clear that Draco was staring at Pucey, the group parted, none of the other teens wanting to stand close to the target of that intimidating stare as they walked past.

Pucey felt almost compelled to meet Draco’s silver-eyed stare. His face went pale and then flushed red with defensive anger. His hands fisted at his sides and he glared hatefully back at the younger, smaller boy. “What are you looking at?” he spat furiously.

Draco gave a closed-mouth smile that had not an ounce of humor in it. “You know, I heard an interesting legend earlier and it made me think of you.”

Sweat slicked Pucey’s palms, making his clenched fists feel damp. “Yeah?” he blustered. “I don’t fucking care.” He began to stomp past.

“Hogwarts will take revenge on those who make her chosen bleed,” Draco said in a soft, dangerous voice.

Pucey continued past, pretending he hadn’t heard.

Of course, the few students who still sat near the doors definitely had and excited whispers began to spread across the Hall.

“Sorry, Draco,” Harry said sweetly, smiling as he returned to the blond's side. “I’m finished.”

“It’s okay,” Draco answered, expression relaxed, the dangerous edge to his features completely gone. He took the slightly smaller boy’s hand in his own. “Come on.” 

Deep in the dungeons, the door to the Slytherin common room opened as the first group of kids returned from dinner and triggered a timing spell Draco had painstakingly laid according to Remus’s explicit and detailed instruction. Unwary and oblivious, Slytherins of all ages gathered in the nooks and crannies of the common room. They talked about school, plots, and gossip, relaxing after a long day. Quite a few were talking about Draco’s parting words after dinner. 

Exactly an hour after the first Slytherin had stepped into the room, shadows began to shift in one corner of the room as an invisible box began to dissolve. The snakes that had been trapped inside were released, spelled by Remus to target the owner of a particular sock he’d been given. Percy’s informants included the Hogwarts elves and it had been easy enough to get one to give him a sock of Pucey’s with the promise it would be returned. 

A scream rent the air as a girl caught the zip of a snake across a green and black rug. Her alarm alerted the others and more cries went up. Pucey, sitting in a armchair in the corner with a few like-minded friends and bitching about Draco-sodding-Malfoy, looked up to see snakes zig-zagging fast across the floor, moving directly toward him. 

The boy was able to jerk back in his chair, mouth falling open with a cry, before they were on him. It was that fast. They wound up his legs or launched with surprising force and speed from the ground, latching onto his torso, arms, thighs, and stomach before anyone could lift a wand. A blood curdling scream of pain and fear tore through Pucey’s throat. The bites burned like lava, searing down to his bones, boiling his blood. He screamed again, collapsing and thrashing with desperate terror, completely hysterical. Other screams joined his. Students ran terrified, saving themselves. 

Only a few spells were cast at Pucey, his friends trying to help him, but their spells did nothing. Pucey flung himself at the floor, at the coffee table, the armchair, anything, trying to get them off, but the pain was so great he could hardly think, could only draw breath enough to scream and wail helplessly. 

McGonagall walked Draco and Ron silently to the Headmaster’s Tower, looking grimmer than ever. Neither Ron nor Draco said a word. Snape was waiting with Dumbledore. Without explanation and without asking a single question, they took the boys’ wands and tested them. Ron stood red-faced, furious he was being suspected of something he had no clue about. Draco merely looked bored. When nothing came up besides the spells they were learning in class, they’d been dismissed just as Pucey had been. Snape gave Draco an intense look as he left the office. It had not been a happy expression, almost thunderous. It made Ron sweat and feel scared, and it hadn’t even been directed at him, but Draco had turned away easily. He didn’t give a fuck about Snape. 

Ron gave Draco side-eyed, curious looks all they way back to the Tower, saying only, “Sooo… Pucey’s been attacked,” when they’d reached the portrait.

Draco said nothing, staring at him through almost animalistic grey eyes.

Ron backed off immediately. “Not that the punk didn’t deserve it or that you had anything to do with it,” he muttered. “Just saying.” He sighed in relief when Draco’s gaze left him. 

Hermione was waiting for them in the common room. So was most of the House. They had known something serious was up when McGonagall had appeared like the personification of Death and asked for Ron and Draco to follow her immediately. Ron rubbed the back of his head and gave a nervous grin.

“Dumbledore wanted to check our wands. Seems Pucey’s been attacked and since I accused him of hurting Harry…” 

Of course everyone clamored to know what had happened, but Ron didn’t know any more than that. The professors hadn’t said, but he could guess it had been bad from their serious expressions.

Hermione slunk close to the blond’s side while everyone was peppering Ron with questions. It wasn’t hard to do. Draco had melded into the background as Ron took the spot light. Harry stood at his side, expression calm, although that didn’t reassure Hermione any. Draco could do no wrong in Harry’s eyes, and it pissed her off that even Neville seemed to think Draco was something special. “You had something to do with it, didn’t you?” she whispered in a tense hiss. 

Draco’s eyes flashed as he went from calm to angry in a second. “What’s you’re problem with me, Hermione?”

She flushed, her chin jutting up as her voice rose to match his. “You came back all dirty before dinner.”

Draco began to yell, gaining the attention of others around them. “So that makes me guilty? My wand came up clean! That should be good enough for you.” He took as step closer and glared dangerously as she held her ground. “I don’t have to explain myself to you or bullies like Raul! You shame the Longbottom name by accusing me without any proof!”

It was a deliberately low blow. She flinched. 

Draco held tightly to Harry’s hand and stormed away. He wasn’t really mad, of course. He’d just needed to put her in her place. He admired her mind, but she was pushing against the wrong person. Besides, rumors of their fight would spread and hopefully that would make other people hesitate to accuse him.

- love adoration pride -

Draco smiled as he shut the door safely behind him. A quick spell made sure no one else could get in for as long as the spell lasted. He pulled his boy against his chest as he leaned back against the door and kissed Harry’s lips with nearly brutal force, making them red and swollen. Harry’s whole body throbbed with heat. His butt ached with every hard beat of his heart and it made his heart want to fly out of his chest. He stared up at Draco with complete adoration.

“You’re amazing, Draco.”

Draco preened under the praise, heart thundering as he finally let his triumph free. He walked Harry backward, hands tight in the boy’s black, messy hair. His mouth bit and sucked at Harry’s neck and collar, knowing what it would do to Harry. Desire need pleasure - boomed through their bond, making Draco bare his teeth in a fierce grin. Harry let out the most delicious gasps and moans. He moved backward, obedient and responsive, collapsing back on the bed with Draco on top. Draco immediately began driving his hips into Harry’s with slow, bruising force. 

Harry cried out softly as his ass was driven hard into the bed. Pain and pleasure exploded from his center as Draco pressed hard against his cock and rubbed his hips up and down in a slow, maddening rhythm. Whimpering, Harry opened his thighs, welcoming more of the pleasure-pain. I belong to Draco, resonated through his whole being as he stared unblinking up at the dominating blond.

Draco growled and bent down, pressing Harry even harder against the bed. Something that had been coiled in his chest finally began to unwind. Harry had been threatened and Draco had finally been able to act to make him safe. Pucey would think hard before ever attacking Harry again. Harry was safe and cared for and his. Triumph and a hungry desire rose up from deep in his gut, nearly choking him with the urge to howl in glee. His hands slipped between them and open their belts.

His hips never stopped rocking. He unsnapped their buttons and unzipped them so that their stiff cocks could rub together. The bite of their metal zippers stung their skin with each firm rock forward, making Draco's grin wider and Harry’s gasps sweeter. Harry’s whole body began to rock with Draco’s thrusts. His hair splayed messily about his head as he clung to Draco’s shoulders. Draco stared hungrily down into his eyes as Harry panted and moaned, limp under Draco's possessive, glowing gaze.

“You’re mine,” Draco growled, hoarse and breathless and almost there already. Heat burned through him, his blood thundering through his veins. Harry was his!

Draco's hands reached forward and wrapped around Harry’s throat, the collar pressing into his palms. Harry’s eyes went impossibly wide - DESIRE need trustlove - and his mouth fell open, wet and red. A gasped wheeze escaped his constricted throat as Harry’s arms fell limp, hands curled peacefully by his head, submitting to Draco’s force. Draco put his mouth over Harry’s, their lips barely touching. He sucked in Harry’s last exhale, taking it into his lungs, and then clenched his hands harder until Harry couldn’t breathe at all. 

Harry’s face instantly went red - euphoria painpleasure LUST. Draco continued to stare unblinking into his eyes with that look he got of absolute, silver-eyed focus and Harry couldn’t breathe, was under Draco’s complete control, was going to cum, his vision tunneling, oh god yours Draco forever please yes yours. His dick and butt throbbed as Draco continued to rock hard and slow against him, a painful-pleasurable push-pull of strong, thin hips.

The room was practically swirling with their magic, the air damp and heavy like a swamp. Draco’s hips rubbed hard against Harry’s, their skin warm and wet with sweat. He thrilled in the way that Harry made no move to escape or breathe, just lay under his power, trusting and safe and god Draco was gonna cum so hard all over his boy… 

Harry held his body open and didn’t even twitch to fight Draco’s hold until his body arched involuntarily, green eyes rolling back. Draco watched, hands around a slender throat, enraptured as Harry’s beautiful eyes went unfocused, the boy beginning to lose consciousness. It was all too good. Harry felt like he was coming apart at the seams. Completely under Draco’s control, his lungs screaming for air, his eyes blind, intensifying the sensation of Draco rubbing against his dick oh god it felt so good; the sharp sting of their zippers even better, Harry felt the sparks build under his skin, at the tip of his dick, in his nipples, deep in his gut… His mind fuzzing, going dark, body spasming as a wave of pure ecstasy crashed over him, Draco god YES!, sending him soaring into lightening-streaked darkness… 

Harry's eyes fluttered mostly closed, only a sliver of white remaining, as he blacked out and went limp. Draco gasped, excited and so fucking close to cumming, as he felt Harry’s hot cum squirt against his skin. Their magic throbbed and trembled, needing Draco’s orgasm to be complete. Grunting, growling, he released Harry’s throat, snaked his arms under Harry’s back, and hooked his hands on Harry's shoulders, holding Harry's body in place, Draco thrust with sudden brutal speed against Harry’s unconscious body.

Harry’s head rolled limply, Draco’s dick sliding in the warm, slick wetness Harry had produced. Draco choked out a low cry as a wave of pure pleasure crashed down on top him, soaking him from head to toe. His back arched away from Harry’s body, only their hips touching… * MINE! * he howled triumphantly before cumming all over Harry’s stomach. Magic punched outward in an intangible wave, absorbing into the walls.

Dazed, he slid down Harry’s body to his knees, his head pillowed on Harry’s splayed thigh, eyes half-lidded and hardly coherent as he panted and shuddered, mini-explosions continuing to fire through his core. His pants hung open, his skin wet and cooling with their mixed cum, otherwise he was fully dressed. Draco gently stroked Harry’s calf, listening as the boy wheezed in soft, shallow breaths. He shuddered knowing without seeing it that Harry’s throat would bruise if he didn’t heal it. It would ache and burn like hell. It made Draco’s hips jerk reflexively, one last thrust against Harry’s leg at the knowledge that Harry would want the bruises to stay… would want it to swell so that it would hurt every time he swallowed… as a reminder of Draco’s power and lust… In fact, he would be sad when he forced him to heal it.

“Mine,” he whispered once more, content and purring, nuzzling against the inside of the boy’s thigh.

Eventually, he rose to his knees, folding himself over Harry’s damp crotch and pat gently at Harry’s cheeks. The boy began to take deeper breaths and his eyes fluttered open. Harry's thighs flexed and Draco climbed to his feet, leaning over and bracing his hands on either side of Harry’s head. Harry smiled sweetly up at him, foggy with pleasure and warmth, as Draco bent to pepper his face with butterfly kisses, nuzzling and purring and praising him.

- contentment adoration - “Yours,” Harry whispered unprompted, voice wrecked and hoarse.

Draco hummed happily and licked and nibbled at Harry’s jaw.

Adrian opened his eyes to see the white of the Infirmary. A touch on his hand made him flinch and turn his head to see his mother. She sat beside him, dark eyes solemn. He looked up past her to see his father standing at her side, staring down at him, dressed in his dark robes with his hair slicked back. He was not happy. “Father…” he croaked.

“I’d ask you what you’ve done, but it’s obvious,” Mr. Pucey said softly and Adrian shivered in dread. “You’ve challenged someone before you were ready and now you reap the consequences.”

“Lord Malfoy has turned his attention to our affairs,” Ms. Pucey explained. “We’ve already lost several good clients.”

Adrian bowed his head in shame. “I’m sorry, Father, Mother. I acted rashly. I… I just… Malfoy acts so fucking smug, like he doesn’t know what a disgrace he is to the Cause… and, and Potter was such an easy target, weak and…”

“And guarded by a dragon,” Mr. Pucey hissed, interrupting his son’s babble. He leaned down, putting his face close. “You will stay away from Malfoy and Potter. You will not act on your own again. Or I will bring you home. Permanently.”

Adrian shuddered. He wanted to cry, but he couldn’t. He’d be Crucio-ed for sure if he did. “Y-yes, F-Father…” he managed to stutter and closed his eyes to escape the pain of the bites that still burned as well as his parents’ painful attention.

Pucey was missing from class the next day and Slytherin House as a whole was subdued and withdrawn. They stayed well clear of Draco and Harry. Even the First-years who took classes with them kept their head down and mouths shut, even Nott. Of course, the other Houses were confused and suspicious, but Draco merely shrugged when questions came his way. 

“Must’ve got what was coming to him. Everyone knows Harry’s special. Hogwarts must think so, too.” 

Of course, when no one else was looking, Draco would give the Slytherins the most chilling smile. 

It took three days for Pucey to return to class. With his return, information began to leak out of Slytherin House into the rest of the school. Pucey had been attacked by snakes! Nine of them. (Harry needed seven spells and two potions to be healed.) Professor Snape had been alerted to a student of his House in mortal danger and had arrived quickly enough to rush the teen to the Infirmary. Without immediate care, he would have died from snake venom. (If Harry hadn’t been minutes from the Infirmary, he’d have died.) 

Rumors spread fast and furious. The upperclassmen from the other three Houses were able to look up several instances where spells embedded in Hogwarts’ wards and foundation spells had attacked intruders without direct manipulation. However, in none of those instances had a student been targeted. It was concluded that it was possible Hogwarts had been behind the brutal attack, but it was also possible it had been someone else. 

All eyes turned to Draco as the most viable suspect. Draco had clearly warned, or perhaps even threatened, Pucey that night and he was obviously crazy protective about Harry. Plus, Draco came from a rumored Dark family (not so rumored for those who knew without a doubt the Malfoys were Dark). On the other hand, Draco was a First-year. Dark family or not, could he really do that? He wasn’t showing extraordinary skill in classes, not like that Pleasant girl; he seemed to be an average student overall. 

Draco didn’t act guilty of anything, either. He wasn’t strutting or acting suspicious. He’d been interested when the topic had been brought up initially and then dismissive after a few days. He was clearly busy with other things. Like studying and practicing as a reserve Seeker for Gryffindor. He’d also been cleared by the Headmaster, although that didn’t necessarily mean anything. It was clear by the Headmaster’s speech after Harry’s fall that Dumbledore cared about Harry a great deal and had been very upset by the ‘accident’. Dumbledore had also favored Gryffindor from the moment he’d become Headmaster. Maybe he’d let revenge against a Slytherin slide.

… And so the rumors continued.

Chapter end.

Sorry I've been off line. I haven't lost interest. I'm just dealing with serious health problems and natural disasters. I promise I will continue to work on this story in my spare time. Hopefully I'll be able to update more regularly again soon. I'd love your feedback and any well wishes you can spare. I miss you all.

Chapter Text

The End of September

Severus stepped near silently into the Headmaster’s darkened office.

“Severus, my boy, any new leads?” Dumbledore asked quietly.

It was late, the Headmaster’s office cloaked in shadows and stillness. Dumbledore stood out the most in the room with his glowing white hair and beard. He sounded tired and yet alert. Severus stepped silently up to the massive desk and placed his hands at the small of his back.

“The snakes were all non-poisonous species. They’d been cursed to create an intense burning sensation and illness with every bite. They had also been spelled to attack a single target, likely from something of Pucey’s - an item of clothing or even blood or hair. The curse would have degraded over time. Pucey was in no real danger of death, only acute suffering. Malfoy has neither the skill nor the means to collect the snakes and then curse them. However, the spell I found on the door is well within Malfoy’s ability. It is my belief that someone provided the boy with the supplies and instructions to set the trap. How he managed to get around the portraits and the password to the common room is still unclear.”

Dumbledore said nothing for a long minute. His face was in shadow so Severus couldn’t get a clear look at his expression. However, his tone was grave when he spoke. “Did you look into his mind, Severus? Do you know for certain he is guilty?”

Severus tilted his head slightly as he considered his answer. “If you are speaking of Pucey, yes. He was guilty. He did not intend to murder Potter, but he did intend great bodily harm. As for the Malfoy brat… Lucius must have trained him. There were the beginnings of Occlumency shields in his mind. I dared not try and surpass them for fear of alerting the brat to my ability. Weasley was genuinely oblivious.”

Dumbledore sighed tiredly once more, settling deeper into the dark as he leaned back in his chair. “Thank you, Severus.”

Severus waited for further comment or instruction. When none was forthcoming, he turned on his heel and left the old wizard to his thoughts. Personally, he was of two minds regarding the whole incident. On one hand, he had to admire Draco’s cunning. His ability to formulate the plan, contact the people he needed to make it happen, and then execute it successfully had been flawless. There was no legal way for the Headmaster to prove it had been him. Just as there had been no legal means to prove it had been Pucey. He also admired the fact that Draco would do whatever it took to protect Harry.

On the other hand… Severus felt cold. He knew without a doubt that this boy of eleven years was capable of murder. Whoever had helped them had made sure the snakes would harm but not kill. Had that person not taken that step, Pucey could well be dead right now. Beyond that, the attack had been designed to leave severe psychological damage in its wake. Children had witnessed the brutal attack and had been traumatized. Some would still not enter the common room and were being housed in guest quarters temporarily until their fear could be calmed.

It was clear to Severus: Draco was not a child in the way people thought of children. He was a killer. It was dangerous housing him with other children. It was dangerous leaving Harry in his care. However, war was brewing on the horizon. Realistically speaking, a killer was exactly what they needed to end the Dark Lord for good and keep Harry alive. Severus would just have to remain watchful and protect the children as much as he could.

Draco was very careful to maintain an aloof demeanor the week following Pucey’s brutal attack. He made sure to craft the perfect amount of ambivalence so that there was never enough certainty to get him in trouble and equally not enough doubt to erase their fear of him. Between the scars seen on his back, the stories of his gruesome treatment for the potion burn (and his lack of screaming), and Pucey’s attack, Draco was quite pleased with the respect and fear he had garnered. It put a small spring in his step that he couldn’t hide completely.

Besides his victorious re-claiming of Harry, he’d only indulged in two small celebrations. For the first, he had softly bumped Percy’s shoulder the day the details of the attack had finally begun spreading to the rest of the school. Draco had given the redhead a meaningful look, lips curled in a subtle smirk. Percy had shaken his head, but Draco could tell his shoulders sat straighter. Victorious, Draco had hummed happily the rest of that night, knowing he’d put the teen’s mind at ease and had proven his ability to protect who was his.

For the second, he had written a letter to Remus.

Remus,

Thank you. You’re amazing at explaining stuff. Your tips on that spell were really useful. I’m definitely going to pass the test now. Harry’s feeling much better, too. Actually, the kid who our friend thinks did it was attacked a few days ago in the Slytherin common room. There’s rumors Hogwarts did it to punish him for nearly killing Harry. Do you think that’s possible? Whoever did it, I don’t think the kid will be hurting anyone anytime soon. The whole school will think twice about hurting Harry now. Some people even think I did it. Can you believe it? How could an eleven-year-old manage something like that? Well, at least its made people back off Harry and me. Even the bullies in Gryffindor I was telling you about. So you don’t have to worry about us anymore. We’re safe now. Thanks again, Remus. You were really helpful. We’ll write again soon,

Draco

Remus had been in a state of constant anxiety until Draco’s letter had come winging to him on Hedwig’s silent wings. He smiled down at the unusually long note. Harry was known to write a lot; Draco usually kept things short and concise. He could practically feel the boy’s victorious exhilaration in the rambling words. He could also sense the boy’s gratitude and care. Remus almost felt like preening. The tension from the last few days fell from his shoulders. The bully had been put in his place, Harry was now safer than ever, and no one had gotten killed. They had won.

Remus leaned back in his chair, tipping it onto its back legs as he laughed. He wished James, Sirius, and Peter were here to… The thought brought his joy crashing to a halt. His chair fell with a loud thud back to all fours. He steeled his heart as pain rushed in. The urge to tip his head back and howl was strong and he shook his head hard to clear it. He lifted the letter and brought it to his nose, inhaling deeply. He had a new pack now. Draco was pleased with him and Harry was safe. That’s all that mattered.

As the pain bled away, Remus stood with purpose and walked to the kitchen stove. He pulled his wand from his pocket and lit the burners. With gold-flecked amber eyes, he set the letter on the flame and watched it burn.

Just as he’d told Remus, the other students began to give Draco a lot more space, which gave him plenty of room to spy on Quirrell. He hadn’t forgotten for a moment the threat the professor posed. Every DADA class, every time he and Harry came too close in the halls, Harry’s head would spike with a dull pain originating from his scar that wouldn’t fade until distance was put between them.

Draco slipped away from the group to spy on him as much as possible and borrowed the map as much as the twins would let him. He watched Quirrell’s footsteps, made note of the places he visited most frequently, the people he talked to most often. He seemed as innocent as Percy claimed, but Draco wasn’t fooled. Then he asked to borrow the map overnight.

The twins had resisted at first, but Draco had managed to convince them, swearing he only wanted to see something and didn’t want to bother them in the middle of the night to check the map. Fred handed the precious parchment over with an unusually stern look. “Don’t you dare go sneaking off with it. Stay in your room like you promised.”

“Or we’ll be out for blood,” George finished the threat. “We can’t afford to have it confiscated.”

“I swear,” Draco promised, meeting their eyes. He would never endanger such an important asset. He just wanted to see what Quirrell did throughout the night.

Just as promised, he curled up against the headboard of his and Harry’s bed, curtains cracked to let in the lamp light. Harry’s head sat heavy with sleep in his lap. He stroked the soft hair under his hand and settled in to watch. Sleep tugged at him as the first few hours rolled by, but Draco pushed through that easily. He was obsessed with discovering the man’s secret, with understanding the exact nature of the threat he posed. Nearing two in the morning, Draco perked up, registering that something was happening.

Quirrell’s name… It began to blur at the edges. Excess ink began to darken around the letters in the man’s name, as if it were bleeding. Draco stared, unblinking, as Quirrell’s name became such a mess of ink that it became illegible for nearly an hour. During that hour, his dot remained smack in the middle of the forbidden third-floor corridor. The ink bled away a little after three, Quirrell’s name became clear again, as the man returned to his quarters at last.

“He’s after whatever Dumbledore’s protecting,” Draco whispered, fingers clenched in Harry’s hair.

Should he tell Dumbledore Quirrell was snooping around? Dumbledore had to know someone kept going to the third-floor corridor, right? Maybe he even knew it was Quirrell already. But what the hell had happened with his name? In the short time that Draco had known about the map, he’d never seen anything like that. As for Dumbledore, there was no benefit yet to tipping his hand and admitting he knew more than he should. It would only force Draco into explaining how he knew stuff. He didn’t want to lose such powerful advantages so early in the game.

Besides, Dumbledore was actively protecting whatever it was, so Draco had to trust that those defenses would hold. In the meantime, he still had to figure out Quirrell’s connection to Voldemort because there was one there beyond a shadow of a doubt. If Draco played his hand just right, he could maybe get some information about Voldemort’s location, current condition, or maybe even some of Voldemort’s weaknesses.

Draco kept watch the rest of the night, but Quirrell stayed in his rooms unmoving. Harry began stirring just before six and Draco smiled warmly as the boy pushed himself to his knees to face him. Draco reached forward, cupping Harry’s sweet face, and left butterfly kisses across his cheeks, the bridge of his nose, and eyelids. “Good morning, Harry,” he murmured.

- pleasure love warmth - “Morning, Draco.”

Draco deactivated the map and tucked it away. Harry knew about it and what it did, and he knew of course that Quirrell was bad due to the headaches and that Draco was keeping an eye on things, but he didn’t need to know about Quirrell trying to get whatever Dumbledore was hiding or about the way his name bled into a glob like it had. There was nothing Harry could do about either and Draco wasn’t going to worry him unnecessarily.

Harry chose their clothes for the day and they got dressed quietly so as not to disturb Neville. They were just about to head to the common room to get some studying done when Neville sat up with a yawn and blinked sleepy brown eyes. “Good morning…” he said softly.

“Good morning, Neville,” Harry greeted. He gave him a worried look. “I’m sorry. Did we wake you?”

“No. I, uh, wanted to ask you something. Before you, um, left.” A slight blush dusted the other boy’s cheeks. His hands tangled together in a show of nerves. “Um, I was, um, wondering if you would come to d-dinner with me tonight, here in the, um, common room to celebrate H-Hermione’s b-birthday…” he trailed off into a whisper, eyes pleading.

Draco considered the request. For the last week, since their fight in the common room, Draco and Hermione had taken to pretending the other wasn’t there, even if they were walking next to each other or sitting across from each other at meals.

“I-I haven’t r-really…” Neville stuttered quickly, clearly taking Draco’s thoughtful silence as reluctance or refusal, “tried to, um, do a birthday for someone else before. H-Hermione wasn’t a-adopted until last, uh, December, so this is the first b-birthday I’ve been able to, um, celebrate with her and I w-want it to be special because she, um, really made me feel s-special on my b-birthday in July…”

Harry gave an excited smile. “My birthday is in July, too. July 31st.” He glanced at Draco for confirmation. He’d had four birthdays so far and it still felt unreal that he’d even have one like everyone else.

Neville’s eyes widened and he smiled, some of his nerves falling away. “Mine’s July 30th.”

Draco shook his head fondly at the two smiling boys. He put his hand on top of Harry’s head and ruffled his hair, saying, “We’d love to join you, Neville. Hermione and I may not always get along, but we’re friends.”

Neville’s eyes went wide once more. “T-Thank you, Draco!”

Draco inclined his head and tugged Harry to the door. “I’ll leave the details to you, then.”

“O-Of course! I’ll make sure everything is ready!” Neville called as Harry pulled the door shut behind them.

Draco asked Harry to keep him awake throughout the day and the boy dutifully poked and prodded the blond when it looked like Draco’s eyes were getting too heavy. It wasn’t really the ideal time to try and make-up with Hermione, but when was life ever ideal anyway? Grumpy and grumbling, Draco nonetheless arrived in the common room dressed in what Harry had picked out: a silk, white shirt and blue blazer with red cuffs that was tailored to fit him perfectly.

Harry had also dressed up. He’d chosen his black lace, high-heeled shoes, thigh-high silk socks with slender semi-elastic bands encircling his thighs to hold them up, black pleated shorts, dark blue shirt, black vest, and thin bow tie with the loops hanging nearly halfway down his chest. Draco reached out to thumb the line on Harry’s soft thigh where skin ended and silk began.

“You look amazing,” he whispered, voice husky, eyes heavy.

Harry blushed prettily. “Thank you, Draco.” He looked up through his long lashes. “You look amazing, too.”

Draco gave a soft laugh and took his boy by the hand, leading him to the common room.

Neville and Hermione were already there. Neville had pulled a table in front of the fire and covered it with white tablecloth. He pushed four chairs up to it. They didn’t match of course, some were higher than others, but it was cozy. Hermione looked up at them in surprise when she saw them come down. She’d thought they had already gone to dinner and it would just be her and Neville. Her eyes grew even wider when she saw that they were dressed up.

“Harry! You look… Wow!” she exclaimed, cheeks red.

Draco smirked as Harry smiled happily.

“Thank you. You look nice, too, Hermione. Happy birthday,” he said politely, giving the girl a graceful bow.

Neville blushed in shame, wishing he’d thought to dress up. He’d been so focused on dinner, he hadn’t even thought to put on his dress robes. He glanced at Hermione out of the corner of his eye and thought maybe it was okay that he hadn’t dressed up because Hermione hadn’t either and he knew she was sensitive about being different or the odd-one out. They both wore comfortable sweaters; Neville in his school slacks, Hermione in a knee-length skirt. Hermione had also pulled her hair back into a low ponytail, revealing more of her face than she normally did.

“Happy birthday, Hermione,” Draco echoed and gave a half-bow that was just as graceful as Harry’s if not as deep.

Hermione was too surprised to answer.

Neville beamed happily at them. “Thank you for coming. Have a seat.”

Hermione and Neville were already sitting across from each other, so Draco and Harry separated and sat in the remaining chairs. As soon as they were sitting, four soups and sets of silverware appeared before them.

“I spoke to the House Elves,” Neville confessed.

“It’s my favorite,” Hermione murmured, carefully lifting the spoon.

“I think that’s going to be a theme tonight,” Draco told her dryly, a smirk curling the corners of his mouth.

Hermione ducked her head, smiling. “True.”

They ate mostly quietly. They shared a few murmured comments about school work, but that was about it. Halfway through the main course, Draco rolled his eyes. There was a huge elephant in the room and Draco was sick of avoiding it. “So, Hermione, what did you usually do for your birthday before coming to Hogwarts?” He met her surprised eyes with a serious stare.

A heavy silence fell around them before Hermione straightened her shoulders. “I didn’t have many friends, so my parents would usually take me on a vacation for a few days. I had such good grades I could always make up any work from school later. We’d go to France or Spain. Somewhere in Europe anyway.” She spoke in a strong voice, but her lips trembled and her eyes grew wet. “They were really busy, you know. Because they were both doctors, so traveling for my birthday was always pretty special. They’d be in such good moods and tease me and stuff. They… they thought me pretty odd, I guess, but… I think they loved me.”

“Of course they loved you,” Neville spoke fiercely, all nervousness gone. “They were your parents.”

Hermione gave him a wobbly smile. “We… We were all pretty surprised when the Ministry came and said I was a Muggleborn. They evaluated us for a month and decided my parents wouldn’t be able to provide an environment that would nurture my magical development. They… They were made to forget me and I… I was spelled to forget their names and address… so I wouldn’t be tempted to try and go back. They couldn’t erase them completely from my mind, though, because that would be too damaging, so… I still remember them a bit. Things like traveling for my birthday, anyway…”

“How’d you end up with the Longbottoms?” Harry asked quietly. He could tell she needed to talk about it, but he didn’t want to make her feel like he was pushing. “If you don’t mind my asking?”

Hermione shook her head to tell him it was okay. “I was kept at the Ministry. In an apartment there. People came and gave me tests for a week or two. Health, magic, intelligence, personality… I guess to make a report that potential families could review. I was interviewed a few times. Madam Longbottom was one of the ones to come interview me. She must have liked something about me and put in a bid for my adoption. So did another family, but I…” She cast Neville an affectionate look. “I liked Neville. He was so shy and concerned about me, so I agreed to the Longbottom’s bid. They… They cast a spell on me and Madam Longbottom… So I’d feel at home with them. It’s like… Nothing was familiar to me, but it felt like home… They felt like family.”

Neville gave her a big happy smile. “I’m so glad you picked us,” he said earnestly. “I-It was hard before you came, but you… You made everything better. I-I really love you, Hermione.”

Hermione sniffed and came around the table to hug Neville tightly. “I really love you, too, Neville.”

Harry smiled at them, - happiness - sparkling through the bond.

Hermione pulled away from Neville and wiped at her eyes. She looked over to Draco. “Thanks for coming, Draco. I know… we don’t always get along…”

Draco shook his head, cutting her off. “We get along fine. You’re a brilliant witch, Hermione. Sometimes you don’t understand what’s between Harry and me. We’ve been through some pretty tough times, too, and that’s made us different, but I don’t expect you or anyone else to understand that. I just wish sometimes you’d trust me a little more. I’m your friend.”

Tearing up again, she gave him a big smile. Besides Neville, Harry and Draco were her first ever friends. “I’ll try and remember that.”

Draco tilted his head, mouth crocked in a half-smile. “Good. Now lets have some birthday dessert. It’s my favorite part.”

Neville and Harry giggled while Hermione laughed.

Draco slept like a rock, making up for the lack of sleep the day before. Harry woke him up thirty minutes before class and he still felt groggy. They didn’t bother with breakfast, instead getting dressed and heading to their first class. Low-level anxiety thrummed through the bond throughout the day. Gryffindor’s official Quidditch Try-outs were at seven that night. Draco stuck closer to Harry’s side than normal, reassuring him that he’d do fine.

It was Oliver’s first year as captain and he decided to open up each position on the team. At first, the others were pretty upset, feeling like their hard-earned place was in jeopardy, but Oliver told them that if they worked hard then they had nothing to worry about since they had more experience. As it stood, they had last year’s Beaters, Fred and George, Oliver as Keeper and Captain, and one Chaser from last year, Angelina Johnson. Alicia Spinnet was trying out for Chaser and had played as a reserve Chaser the year before. Then there was Harry and Draco, of course, who had been recommended as Seeker and reserve Seeker by Oliver and Professor McGonagall. That left them with the third Chaser spot that had to be filled, while all the other positions need to be safeguarded from someone winning it out from under them.

Just over fifty kids showed up to try-out. Oliver had everyone run a mile, complete fifteen sprints, and perform various difficult maneuvers on a broom. Those that handled quaffles or bludgers also had to prove their arm strength and accuracy. Either no one else thought they had the skill to be Seeker or they were afraid to challenge Harry and Draco because no one else applied for the position. Draco and Harry were set loose against each other.

Try-outs came to a halt as the Gryffindors stared in awe. Draco and Harry were clearly not holding back at all. Dangerous dives, rolls, and feints - the two boys battled each other for the Snitch, almost catching it several times, only to be knocked off course by the other. Eventually Harry’s hand once again closed over the golden ball. It was Draco who crashed into him this time. Their watchers tensed, expecting a fight to break out in the heat of the moment, but soon realized that Draco was ruffling Harry’s hair, congratulating him.

In the end, everyone kept their positions and Alicia was made an official Chaser along with Second-year Katie Bell. Reserve players were named and told to make it to at least three morning practices and one evening practice or be in danger of losing their spot. As for the starters, they would have practice five mornings and three evenings a week.

Sweaty, dirty, and drunk on endorphins, the group of fourteen Quidditch players chanted battle songs and cheers, arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders as they celebrated becoming an official team. They spilled into the common room and the twins snuck off to grab butterbeers and snacks from the kitchen. An impromptu party started, someone producing a radio and playing the Wizarding Wireless.

Draco, slouched on the couch, one arm across the back as he smiled at the silliness. He had to send mental reassurances as Harry was pulled into dancing with their new, rowdy teammates. * You’re doing good, Harry. You’re making everyone happy, * he whispered into Harry’s mind as worried green eyes locked onto his.

The - guilt uncertainty - that began to bubble up through the the bond slowly fizzled out to be replaced by - happy embarrassment.

Three days later the twenty-third of September arrived. The Autumn equinox, Mabon, when day and night, light and dark, were in perfect balance for a brief moment before darkness began to rise in supremacy. It was the first of three harvest festivals. Andromeda and Ted performed the celebrations and respected the Cycle, but not with the depth of true belief the way the Malfoys did. Narcissa and Lucius, of course, tried to pass on that belief to Draco and Harry.

Draco could acknowledge the power invoked by their rituals on the Holy Days, but he still wasn’t particularly religious. He believed in his own power above all else, so he fell more along the lines of Andromeda and Ted. Harry, on the other hand, had no trouble believing in a power greater than himself and had embraced the Pagan religion more earnestly. Therefore, Draco inquired of Percy how celebrations were handled at Hogwarts.

Percy glanced around the busy hallway at Draco’s innocent question. None of the students around them seemed to have heard, too busy making their way to the Great Hall for lunch. Percy gently grabbed Draco’s arm, pulling him toward an empty classroom. Draco let himself be guided, mentally giving Harry the instructions to stay close to the others and save him a seat. Percy pushed up his glasses and gave Draco a curious look.

“Since you weren’t raised in the Wizarding world, I didn’t think you’d be Pagan.”

Draco shrugged. “I’m not really, but Harry practices.”

Percy leaned against a desk. Draco mirrored him, placing one foot outside Percy’s right foot and the other on the floor between the teen’s long legs. Percy had that thoughtful look that he sometimes got when he was trying to understand something complicated. “We have two weeks off for Yule and a week off for Ostara, the Spring Solstice, to return to our families, but there are no official celebrations at Hogwarts besides feasts days on both Samhain and the Winter Solstice, which most still call Christmas. Many witches and wizards have adapted a weird blend of the Pagan and Christian faiths. Most families that I know of don't attend church regularly, but they don’t identify themselves as Pagan, either. True Paganism isn’t socially acceptable. It’s believed to lead to the Dark as it was the Dark families who resisted the conversion to Christianity. They continued to practice the Old Ways and often lashed out at Christians, which triggered the Witch Burnings that turned the Church against magic-users in general.”

Draco didn’t really understand all of what Percy was saying, but he did have a question. “Your family holds small festivals on the Holy Days.”

“Yes, most witches and wizards still have Pagan traditions and rituals. It’s a part of our magical history, but they still mostly identify as Christian. It depends on each individual family where they fall on the Pagan to Christian scale, some are more Pagan and some more Christian in terms of their practices. It’s rare to find either true Pagans or true Christians anymore really.”

Draco thought of being tied to a bed with Latin being chanted over him as he was burned and tortured for being demonic. He definitely didn’t believe in the Christian god. He’d seen nothing to validate that belief. On the other hand, he had experienced the power invoked in the deep woods, so if he had to choose, he’d definitely say he was Pagan.

On the whole, completing the rituals didn’t matter to him one way or the other. It wouldn’t change anything. Harry, however, had grown very devoted. He’d found peace and solace in the rituals. It comforted him to know that they were a part of something bigger, connected and interdependent to all life. Comforted him to know that he was a part of that web just as all living things were.

It infuriated Draco. Would the world that Harry took such joy in ever stop forcing Draco to have to prove to Harry that he wasn’t a freak, wasn’t bad? Harry was submissive and gay and Pagan. Things that the world would reject and scorn him for. It made Draco’s hatred for society burn deeper and brighter. It made him want to clear the board and create a society that would welcome all that Harry was. But Draco wasn’t stupid. He didn’t have that power, and clearing the board would only devastate Harry. Harry was forever attached to people and things. Instead, Draco would have to see about changing the board he did have to play with.

“What are you thinking?” Percy asked quietly, fascinated by the look of intense concentration on Draco’s face.

Draco lifted his eyes, looking up through a thin lock of blond hair that had fallen from behind his ears. “Weighing Harry’s social favor against how much it would cost to make it public that he’s Pagan…”

Percy’s eyes widened and offered. “I don’t think Harry being Pagan will change peoples minds about it. Not while he's still so young. They’ll think he’s being influenced, probably by the Malfoys.”

Draco nodded, clearly unhappy. “The Malfoy name is in good standing right now with the public, but Lucius garnered a lot of heat during the war. If it comes out he’s raising us as Pagans, people will remember their suspicions. So…” He pressed off the desk and stood in front of Percy. Now that his decision had been made, he looked confident again. The regret that had shaded his eyes was gone. “So we’ll have to keep it mostly secret for now. I’ll have to convince Harry he’s not bad. Again. But he’ll be okay. At least until I can figure out a way to change what people think about it.”

Percy bowed his head, in awe over this boy’s determination and utter confidence that he could change the world. “I’ll do whatever I can to help.”

Draco reached forward and gently stroked Percy’s arm from shoulder to elbow before turning and slipping out of the room. He didn’t head toward the Great Hall, however. Instead he hurried to the owlery to pen a quick note before rushing back down to rejoin Harry.

Hermione rolled her eyes as Harry’s face lit up with delight at Draco’s return. Draco was always disappearing. It drove her crazy that she couldn’t figure it out, but it also made her less suspicious about Draco’s involvement with the attack on Pucey. Clearly Draco was involved in some other project. She still thought he had something to do with it, though, but she’d learned to keep her questions to herself.

There was only ten minutes left of lunch, but Harry had made Draco a sandwich, ready for whenever Draco returned. Draco scooped it up and ate it with slow but determined focus. Talk picked up again around them. They had all learned by now that asking him what he’d been doing was a waste of time. In fact, Draco’s strange comings and goings were so normal, most of them didn’t even bat and eye. Only Hermione seemed bothered by it and she glared at Draco until the bell rang and they had to make their way to their next class.

That night, at the end of dinner, Hedwig swooped through the windows of the Great Hall and delivered a letter to Harry. Harry stared at her in surprise. He cooed and stroked her feathers, handing her choice pieces of meat, while Draco untied the parchment attacked to her leg.

“Who’s it from?” Hermione asked, trying to see the label.

Draco stared her down, making her flush and glare in frustration, before relenting. “Hagrid. Wants Harry to visit. Has something to show him. We’ll be back by curfew.” He ignored everyone’s questioning stares and offers to join them, took Harry firmly by the hand, and led him away.

The air had a cool bite to it and Draco was glad he’d told Harry to pack sweaters int their bags. They stopped a moment to pull them on, putting their school robes back on after. The mountains stood majestically around them, the forest a living thing that cast its shadow over the green hills. Hagrid’s hut sat next to a massive pumpkin patch, the pumpkins already round and fat, promising to grow even fatter. Hagrid opened his door at their nock and beamed down at them joyfully.

“Arry! Draco!” he boomed. “Come in!”

Draco hustled Harry inside and saw that everything he’d asked for in his note was there: candles, apples, a sharp knife, a goblet and a bottle of wine. “Thank you for celebrating with us, Hagrid.”

The giant man reached out and patted Draco’s head with delicate force. “It’s no problem, boys. Glad I could help.”

- love devotion gratitude - Harry couldn’t believe Draco had set this up. He knew it was for him.

In that moment, Harry felt such love for the blond that he didn’t really know what to do with the feeling. It spilled over his cheeks in the form of tears. Draco gave Harry a silver-eyed look, focused purely on him, and it made Harry warm to his toes, a shiver tickling his spine.

Harry accepted the apples that were set in his arms and watched as Draco took the knife and goblet. Hagrid took up the eight candles and wine. Together they made their way into the forest where no one from the castle could easily see them. Draco had explained that these rituals were private, done with family only. Harry wondered how many other kids were out here, making their own offerings in the privacy of the night.

Hagrid led them to a small clearing where a tree had fallen and left a break in the canopy. It let them see the sky, which had turned a beautiful pale orange as the sun began to set. Draco and Harry got busy setting the candles in a circle around them. One to each of the four corners - north, east, south, west - and the cross-corners - northeast, southeast, southwest, northwest.

“Take the lead, Harry,” Draco commanded softly.

Harry opened his mouth to protest - I’m not worthy!

“I need it to be you,” Draco whispered, silver eyes glinting in the dying light.

Harry straightened his spine. Anything for Draco!

He looked to see Hagrid waiting with a still patience that so few people had. He watched them with gentle, accepting eyes.

Harry took a deep breath and set the apples in front of the west candle, toward setting sun. He accepted the goblet and wine and set them to either side. He then handed Draco and Hagrid each an apple.

“Please stand behind me,” Harry asked softly, head ducked humbly.

Hagrid and Draco obediently took positions behind Harry as the boy faced west. Harry took the long match Draco struck and turned to his right, beginning to light the candles in a clockwise direction, opening their circle and making it come to life.

“Today is Mabon, a spiritual day that marks the Autumn equinox. A day when Light and Dark, Day and Night, are in perfect balance,” he began, voice low and rhythmic. The forest seemed to still around them, a gentle, listening presence. “It is a day to renew wards, to be thankful for all the blessings in our lives, and to prepare for the darkness of the winter months.” Harry lit the last candle, the west candle, the flame of the match singeing the tips of his fingers. “While we celebrate the gifts of the earth, we also accept that the soil is dying. We have food to eat, but the crops are going dormant. Warmth is behind us, cold lies ahead.”

A breeze whispered through the trees. The shadows grew darker. A barely there electric hum settled in their bones and blood. Harry closed his eyes and tried to find that place Narcissa summoned with her words, her belief. When he spoke again, his voice had taken on the cadence of ritual, almost like a song.

“The apple is sacred, a symbol of the gods, and holds the knowledge of the ancients inside.” He bent and took an apple into his hands, lifting it on two cupped palms, presenting it to the west. “Tonight, I ask the gods to bless me with their wisdom.”

The wind blew, cold and stinging as Harry gracefully sank into a kneel. Draco passed him the knife and Harry brought it up, the edge glinting silver, reminding him of Draco. He brought the knife down in a smooth arc, neatly cutting the apple in half. The smell of apples filled the clearing, more than could be explained by simply cutting one apple.

“Five points in a star, hidden inside. One for earth, one for air, one for fire, one for water, and the last for spirit.” Lifting his hands, Harry offered each half, flesh facing upward, revealing the black seeds set in that powerful star-shaped pattern. “I call upon the Wise Ones, the ancient gods to hear my devout prayer. As the sun moves away and fire fades to be replaced with the chill of night, I will reflect on the guidance of the gods and let the cool autumn rains that come wash over me, cleansing my heart and soul.”

“We call upon the Wise Ones,” Draco echoed. He took a bite of his apple and then set it in front of Harry and the wildly flickering candle. Hagrid mimicked him, eyes bright and attentive.

A deep thrumming could just barely be felt under their feet. Something ancient and powerful stirring to life. They could almost hear the forest breathe like something alive.

Harry tilted this head back, eyes closed as he took in the energies around him, basked in the feeling of the universe acknowledging their offerings and prayers. In that moment, tenuous and precious, they were connected to something greater and Harry’s heart filled with soul-deep gratitude for all he’d been given. Slowly, eyes opening, he picked up the wooden goblet. His other hand poured the wine, filling it, letting it overflow and soak into earth beneath his knees.

“The Wild God returns this night to the belly of the Mother. The mother goddess tonight becomes the Crone. As the Wheel of the Year turns, the earth dies a bit each day. I willingly follow the old gods into the darkness, where they will watch over me, protect me, and keep me safe.”

True dark slid over their clearing. Hagrid looked around in amazement as he felt something soft and yet implacable settle around his shoulders. Draco bore the weight easily, eyes fastened on Harry’s thin back, watching as his boy brought the cup to his lips and drank, watched as that slender throat swallowed.

Green eyes, glowing faintly in the dimness of oncoming night, turned and met his own. Draco grinned, fierce and powerful, and accept the goblet. He stared unblinking into those unearthly green eyes as he drank from the cup. A woodsy, rich flavor rolled over his tongue. It felt warm and unexpectedly thick, like honey. The aftertaste became metallic, like blood. It only made Draco grin wider as he passed the drink to Hagrid. The large man drank, handing the goblet back to Harry when he was done. Harry, still on his knees, had to look away from Draco to accept it, but he could still feel the blond’s eyes on him. It set every nerve in his body alight.

“Wise Ones, old gods, I thank you for Draco, his protection and care,” Harry said with such raw honesty it made Draco harden in his pants.

“I’m thankful that I have Harry,” Draco echoed, holding his boy’s eyes, promising him the bite of teeth and the heat of passion. Harry whimpered in response.

“I’m thankful that I got a place to belong and friends to share it with,” Hagrid boomed, grin white and force in his wild, dark beard, his beetle-black eyes glittering.

Tears rolled down Harry’s face, overcome with a joy so powerful, he almost wanted to scream. Instead, he lifted his hands and yelled joyously into the night, “The Wild God has gone to rest in the Underworld. I look to the darkness for renewal and rebirth!” He dug his fingers into the wine-damp earth and lifted them up high. “Earth, symbol of security and stability, bring peace and harmony into my home this season of thanksgiving. May the earth, the soil, the land, ground me and protect me and those whom I love and to whom I belong. As I will, so it shall be!”

Harry poured the rest of the wine over the west candle, extinguishing it. Simultaneously, the remaining seven candles went out with a hiss. Harry arched his back as an electric current ran up his spine from the ground. His magic sparked and crackled deep in his core in response. Hagrid’s gasp and Draco’s soft exhale told him they were feeling it, too. Their offering had been accepted. They were being blessed!

The smell of apples, wine, and blood rose again, saturating the air. Energy danced along their nerves, tugged at their hair. The trees swayed in a sudden gust, almost echoing Harry’s wild cry. Panting, Harry lowered his arms, expression exuberant, cheeks red and damp, eyes unnaturally bright. “Thank you for celebrating with me,” he told them.

Draco, grinning, swooped Harry up into his arms, bringing the smaller boy back to his feet. He almost kissed him right there, but Hagrid’s presence stopped him. “You did amazing,” he said instead, voice rough with desire. * Love you, Harry. Want you. *

Harry flushed, his face turning red - desire need joy.

“That was incredible,” Hagrid agreed. He bounced on the tips of his toes, energized.

It took them only a few minutes to clean up. They said goodbye to Hagrid, Draco and Harry again thanking him for helping with the ritual. Hagrid waved them off and they walked back to the castle with Harry wrapped in Draco’s arms.

Draco made sure they were out of sight before pushing Harry up against a courtyard wall and ravaging his mouth. Harry was sweet and pliant, opening to Draco readily, a needy whine rising softly in the back of his throat. Draco mentally ordered the boy silent as he sank to his knees and opened Harry’s pants, taking the thin, stiff member into his blazing hot mouth.

It didn’t take long… Harry’s head was flung back against the wall, his mouth gaping open silently as he sucked in one breath and another, his nails clawing at stone… He came, eyes squeezing shut as stars erupted behind his eyes. Slowly he sank, his robes hissing as they dragged against the wall. He dropped to his knees, trembling and dizzy.

Draco sat back on his butt, legs spread wide, and practically tore his pants open, gripping himself with almost bruising force.

“Please?” Harry begged prettily, long lashes fluttering over still-dazed eyes.

Draco shivered, hand falling away, eyes staring at Harry with almost primal hunger. “Yes, Harry,” he groaned. “Come here.”

Harry crawled across the few inches that separated them and licked up Draco’s stiff shaft. The feel and flavor of Draco’s warm, soft/hard skin made him whimper-moan. He closed his lips around the tip and slid sensually down Draco’s cock. Harry whimpered again as Draco grabbed him roughly by the hair and began lifting his head up and pushing it down at a quick pace - satisfaction pleasure need. He closed this eyes and sucked hard, loving the feel of Draco’s dick sliding along the inside of his cheeks and the roof of his mouth. Loved the way it tapped at the back of his throat.

Draco gave a short, barked cry as pleasure rolled over him, crashing like a wave, setting his body on fire. Harry moaned long and deep, eyes fluttering closed - pleasure joy - singing through his soul as Draco gave a growl and Harry felt the splash of the blond’s pleasure across the back of his throat and tongue. Their magic rolled out into the night, a rippling wave that made the energies of the night sparkle and come to life. Golden flecks of light, like dancing fireflies, exploded in a shower of sparkles across Hogwarts grounds.

Draco stared up at the little sparkling lights with a soft smile. “Well, shit…” He muttered, but he couldn’t bring himself to care, too much. He pulled Harry up so that he was sitting next to him and not sprawled face-first across his lap. “Look, Harry.”

Harry blinked, eyes wide as he leaned against Draco’s side. “It’s so pretty…” he murmured sweetly, reaching forward and touching a sparkle with the tip of his finger. It rested there for a long second before flickering away into nothing.

“Yeah,” Draco agreed, looking at the side of his boy’s soft face. Harry’s lips were shiny and wet, swollen and red. His cheeks flushed warm and his green eyes glittered in the twinkling golden light. “Pretty…”

The magical little fireflies lasted long after the boys finally climbed to their feet and made their way to bed. They danced and shimmered, twinkling like little stars, only to slowly dim and fade away as morning drew closer.

Chapter end.

Thank you for all the well wishes. They really mean a lot to me. I have the best readers in the whole community. :)

 

Chapter Text

Mysterious Past, Inevitable Future

Shut up in his office, hair pulled back into a ponytail that rested on the back of his head, Lucius stood over his desk, his shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows. Candlelight flickered over the papers scattered around his desk. Heart thudding hard in his chest, Lucius stared down at Pandora’s notes on souls and cores and sudden inspiration struck. 

Excitement and cold apprehension combined into a queasy whole as he strode with anxious purpose to his library. There, in the back, was a cupboard warded and hidden to all except the Malfoy Head. Inside were books - dark and forbidden. He pulled out a thick tome, Secrets of the Darkest Art, and carefully opened it. Absentmindedly walking closer to the magical light burning on the wall, he found the entry he’d half-remembered.

“Tamper with the deepest mysteries - the source of life, the essence of self - only if prepared for the consequences of the most extreme and dangerous kind.” - Herpo the Foul

Lucius read those words with deep respect. Herpo was one of the most revered and powerful Dark Wizards of all time. Living over three hundred years, creator of a multitude of Dark spells and rituals, first breeder of basilisks, he’d been placed on a chocolate frog card and remembered to this day. 

Unknown to nearly all, he’d also created a ritual that would ensure immortality… theoretically. The Horrible Cross, the Horcrux… It might have explained Herpo’s ancient age until passing, but it did not elude Lucius that Herpo did eventually die. Due to age degrading his insanity or some unknown weakness of the Horcrux, Lucius didn’t know. All he knew was the ritual described and the dire warnings Herpo had given had led even the most staunch Dark Wizards and Witches to be wary. 

Lucius read through the seven page long ritual and shivered. Intricate and dangerous, the ritual took strength and stamina and a nearly obsessive focus on immortality. Herpo concluded by describing in detail the effects of a successful casting.

Cleaving a piece of your immortal soul causes one’s being to become other. Humanity becomes a thing just out of reach, as if trapped beneath the clear surface of a lake. One can almost remember the deeper emotions, but it is lost to them eternally. It is also in part due to the dehumanization of oneself that there is some physical change that marks the loss of one’s humanity. The distance will only grow more vast with time. Is there true purpose in separating oneself from the organic universe one feared to leave? I know not. I only know once the ritual is cast and successfully takes hold, there is no return. A third side effect of Horcrux creation is that the master soul itself becomes unstable. I have a growing fear that once death inevitably comes, I fear an inability to truly cross over. Can a mere fragment possess the ability to make a final transition? I fear eternal limbo awaits my eternity.

After that cheerful warning and the very explicit statement that it was all in vain, that true immortality did not result, the spell eventually faded from the world. Nearly three thousand years later and this darkest of spells had been nearly lost to time, but it did not surprise him in the least that the Lord Voldemort had come across it. It explained so much!

It explained Lord Voldemort’s decent into madness and instability. It also explained how he’d managed to survive and how he planned to come back. All these years, a wraith - a spirit - waiting to gain the strength to perform the rituals that would return him a physical body and strength. It wouldn’t be long now, Lucius suspected, before Voldemort made a full return.

To create a Horcrux, a wizard first had to begin the ritual and prepare the mind and soul for the severing. Then they had to deliberately commit murder. This act would result in the murderer metaphysically damaging their own soul. A wizard who wished to create a Horcrux would then use that damage to their advantage by casting a spell, which would rip the damaged portion of the soul and encase it in an object. If the maker was later killed, he or she would continue to exist in a non-corporeal form, although there are methods of regaining a physical body. 

Where a person’s container, their body, could be destroyed without any damage to the soul, the fragment of soul contained inside a Horcrux was dependent on the container for its existence. If the container was destroyed, so to would be the fragment of soul within it. However, Horcruxes by their nature appeared to be extraordinarily durable, as only very destructive magics and processes could truly destroy them. 

Destroying a Horcrux required that the object containing the soul fragment be damaged to a point beyond any and all physical or magical repair. Horcruxes possess some last line of defense against destruction. It can sense impending threats and can act to defend itself. However, as a safety measure to protect one’s immortality, the creator would usually place powerful enchantments onto the artifact to prevent damage. 

Also, the fragment of a person’s soul within a Horcrux was capable of thinking for itself and had certain magical abilities, including the ability to influence those in their vicinity. A person with an affinity for the Dark Arts would be strengthened by the influence. If a person is more emotionally vulnerable, it is possible for the soul inside the Horcrux to take control.

A memory arose: “Lucius…” the hissing voice of his Lord, the words a caress of ownership. “My most honored. Take this and guard it well. Your life and the existence of your bloodline depends on your ability to safeguard it.”

Lucius carefully returned the tome to the warded cupboard and with trembling fingers pulled out a small, black diary. He turned it over. Embedded in golden ink on the bottom right was the name: Tom Marvolo Riddle.

The Dark Lord had given an ignorant Lucius his Horcrux!

Striding to a desk, Lucius picked up a quill and opened the book. He knew writing in it would be dangerous, but Lucius was confident in his ability to withstand the effects of the Horcux. This diary contained too much knowledge to pass up. Lucius would destroy it, but first…

My name is Lucius Malfoy. Do you know who you are?

The ink disappeared and he waited with baited breath until words began to spell themselves in beautiful calligraphy across the page. Yes. My name is Tom Marvolo Riddle. I have been waiting a long time for you to write to me. There is much I’d like to ask.

Lucius felt a grin stretch across his face. Let the games begin!

Draco had said he wanted to check something and had given Ron a pointed look before striding off in the opposite direction. Ron was one of the tallest boys in the class and Harry was just short enough that it was easy for Ron to rest his arm across the back of his friend’s shoulders. If Harry were to happen to fall again, Ron would be able to catch him for sure.

“Let’s play a game of chess,” he said cheerfully. Harry had been so busy with Quidditch practice and studying that they never got to hang out anymore. 

“Yeah!” Harry answered happily. He felt bad for not spending time with his friend. 

They were just reaching the portrait hole, Ron chattering away telling Harry jokes that Dean and Seamus had taught him, when they heard a voice call out Harry’s name. Ron instantly began to scowl, turning to see the Pleasant girl right behind them, Neville trailing in her wake as always. She had four books held close to her chest. Her hair was frizzed out around her head and she looked almost frantic.

“I heard the upper years saying Professor Flitwick gave them a surprise quiz today. That means he might give us one, too, tomorrow! We should brush up on our Charms notes before bed.”

Harry’s eyes went wide. “Yeah, okay.” He gave Ron an apologetic smile. “Sorry, Ron. Did you want to study with us?”

Ron gave the menace a glare, voice stiff as he answered. “No, thanks. I’d rather study on my own.”

She brushed past him as if she didn’t care about his bad attitude. Neville ducked his head and wouldn’t meet his eyes while Harry gave him another smile and wave before hurrying after her. Ron watched his friend go, a worried frown on his face. Harry was always studying, couldn’t she see he needed a break? He looked stressed out and it was only their second month of school!

Lucius discarded the letter from the Puceys basically begging him for mercy. He didn’t need the distraction, honestly. He picked some clean parchment and wrote a quick letter to his assistant, giving him the order to desist in the financial attack on the Puceys. They had learned their lesson, and if Lucius continued his attack, he’d make them so desperate they’d lash out, which would require him to deal with the situation. He was too caught up in his project to care at this point. He was certain Draco had taken steps to punish their son, and, knowing Draco’s ruthless ferocity, Lucius was certain Adrian Pucey would not be making any moves against them any time soon. It was finished. He was more concerned about the diary and Voldemort’s broken soul.

Voldemort was only sixteen in the diary. He did not have as much knowledge as Lucius had hoped. However, he still had his quick intelligence and determination to shape the world into a more acceptable shape. Insanity had yet to touch him as it had his older counterpart. That led Lucius to believe the Dark Lord had created more than the diary and Harry as Horcruxes. In fact, he guessed the genius had wanted to craft six in total with the master soul making seven, the most powerful magical number. The question was, was Harry the sixth and final one? Or some number in between? There was no way to know for certain, but Lucius was determined to research Voldemort’s life now that he had a name to follow: Tom Riddle.

“Quiz me,” Draco ordered. He had a piece of toast in his hand as they walked quickly to their first class. 

Harry was also eating toast. Draco had gotten in late the night before, so Harry had let him sleep while he got some more studying in. They’d only had time to grab a few pieces of bread, butter it, and spread on strawberry jam before rushing out to class. 

“Emeric the Evil,” Harry said.

Draco thought about it and shook his head. “Killed a bunch of people, but I can’t remember how.”

Harry told him the important highlights of the warlock’s history and then said, “Uric the Oddball.”

Behind them, Hermione frowned with disapproval. She didn’t approve of cramming. Sure Draco may get a few of those questions right now, but he didn’t really know the material or understand the deeper concepts. It was basically cheating. Neville, however, listened attentively.

Narcissa stepped into the guest room on the east side of the manor. Golden light spilled through the window, softening the pastels and soft colors of the room. It was one of Narcissa’s favorite guest rooms, designed to comfortably house unattached visiting females. However, none of this really registered because the eye was immediately drawn to the back spot that seemed to darken the room with its very presence.

Bella sat demurely in the window seat. Thin and gaunt, she was still strangely alluring with her dark curls cut short, her big blue eyes, and sharp, angular features. In shocking contrast to the room, she wore all black. Her thick skirt pooled around her legs to the floor, the bodice tight, the sleeves long to cover the bone-white skin of her arms. The short hair still made Narcissa uneasy. It was shocking to see. Their mother had forbade them from ever cutting their hair, implying the act would somehow diminish them or make them less.

“Cissa,” Bella cooed and stood to embrace her.

Narcissa stood frozen as the darkness in the room came closer and filled her vision before thin arms pulled her against a warm body in a hug. Narcissa pulled away, placing her hands on Bella’s shoulders. She’d only managed to visit her sister after installing her in the guest room a handful of times a week. Partly due to the fact that Bella always greeted her with overwhelming affection. Narcissa had no idea how to reconcile her hurt and broken sister’s love with the fact that Bella was the one who had destroyed her and had inflicted incredible damage to her beloved son. She’d had enough time to come to terms with finding her sister, however. She wanted answers.

“Bella,” she said softly and guided her younger sister back over to the window seat. “We need to talk. Really talk this time.”

Bella let herself be guided, but she refused to relinquish her hold on Narcissa’s hand. She sat and looked up at her with trusting blue eyes framed by a messy fall of black curls. “What is it, Cissa?”

“Bella…” Narcissa took a deep breath and sat on the window seat so they’d be on a more even level. “You stole Draco from me. You stole him away and abandoned him. I need to understand this.”

Bella’s smile morphed into something more intense. Her hand tightened around Narcissa’s and a fanatical light entered her eyes. “I saved him for you, Cissa. I saved him.”

Narcissa swallowed a hot lump of rage and grief and asked coldly, “How did you save him?”

“I saw it. When I took the mark of my Lord. I saw the future of my darling nephew,” she said intently, staring straight into Narcissa’s eyes. “He was a sweet creature, Cissa. Sweet and loving with a core of strength the world not seen in ages. Such a soul, a true Black no matter the Malfoy wrapping.” Here she laughed, giddy as a young girl. Her head bowed, her features hidden by her hair. She lifted Narcissa’s hand to her lips and placed a cool kiss on her knuckles before peering up at her. “But he was to be shackled and maimed by your husband.”

Narcissa sucked in a breath and Bella practically leaped forward to frame her face in cold hands. A demented smile stretched her face as she insisted almost frantically, “But I don’t blame you, sweet sister! You would be hampered by tradition and the place of a wife beside her husband. Draco would be too afraid to tell you what he suffered as he was molded to Lucius’s expectation. Draco, the poor boy, would have willingly carved the pieces that didn’t fit from his soul, and you, sister, would not have realize what had happened until too late. You would not even know to guess that the Malfoy mold was too small for his destiny.”

“What destiny?” Narcissa croaked, caught in her sister’s gaze. It felt like Bella loomed before her, that Narcissa shrank with every passing minute.

Bella laughed, low and sultry. “I saw him, wrapped in the arms of another man. The pleasure and completion found there became the foundation of a strength nearly overwhelming. I saw them come together, male and male, and it was not abhorrent, Cissa! It was beautiful! Draco changed the world, Cissa! He broke the chains of Light that hobble the world. He will set the world free on wings of Darkness! With our Lord guiding us all, we will be reborn! Draco will become a grand Duke with a male on his arm and in his bed without censure or rejection by the less worthy. The Old Ways will return and true power will be breathed into this dying world! Our Lord will not allow those like Draco - those who are broken by this rigid society - to wither! He will embrace the Truth of each soul and fan it to its potential and use it for His great purpose!”

Narcissa was panting. Shocked and shaking, she reached up to grab Bella’s hands and pull them away from her face. “Bella,” she whispered, tears blurring her eyes. Her sister was insane. “Bella, he’s found his boy.”

She giggled again, red staining her cheeks. “So soon? Has time passed so quickly? What year is it? How old is sweet Draco? And our Lord, where is our precious Lord? He has yet to come see me.”

“Bella,” Narcissa said again, imploring her sister to listen. “Bella, Draco found his boy, but he is Harry Potter, Boy-Who-Lived, the boy who caused the Dark Lord’s downfall.” 

Bella began pulling on her hands, trying to remove them from Narcissa’s grip. Her head shook back and forth in denial, an almost-growl rising from her throat. 

Narcissa held tighter, voice rising. “The Dark Lord is gone, Bella!”

“He will return! He is the most powerful… the most…” she gasped, face made ugly with fury. 

“He is gone!” Narcissa yelled in her face with equal fury. “And if he were to return, as you seem to hope, he’d destroy Harry Potter. Destroy him and along with him my son who would never forgive him. Draco would put everything he had against the Dark Lord in an attempt to destroy him!”

Bella finally jerked away. “How could you let this happen?” she bellowed. “I did everything! I sacrificed everything! How could you do this?” She flew at Narcissa, hands up in claws, aiming for Narcissa’s eyes.

Narcissa’s wand snapped up and she cast, “Petrificus Totalus!”

Bellatrix slammed to the floor, arms forced to her side.

Tears scorching pale cheeks, Narcissa knelt by her damaged sister. “I didn’t let this happen, Bella. You did. They formed a magical twin bond overseas before Draco returned to us. There is no separating the two now. You were right. Draco’s destiny is bigger than the Malfoy mold. He is now a Dominus. On the order of King Arthur, I believe. And sweet Harry is his delicatus. There is no going back, Bella. Draco is going to change the world with Harry at his side. The Dark Lord’s time has passed. I’m sorry.”

Standing, she turned and left her sister, locking the door tightly behind her.

Hermione stared at Harry across the library table. He looked pale and tired. It was nearing curfew and Draco was late picking them up. Draco always insisted on walking them back to the Tower whenever they studied in the library, the memory of Harry’s fall clearly still haunting him, so Harry and Hermione tried to do most of their studying near the dorms. Tonight, however, they needed some extra books for reference to write good essays. Neville was wandering the shelves, looking for books on Herbology and Potions. He’d needed a break and was perfectly satisfied with an E unlike his O obsessed friends, so Harry and Hermione were alone.

“Harry…” she said softly, gaining his attention. “You’ve been doing really well in classes lately. You get O’s more often than not. I was just wondering…” She cleared her throat, not really sure how to ask what she wanted to know. “I just mean, you’re not pushing yourself to match me, are you?”

Harry shook his head hard, eyes wide. “No way. You’re way smarter than me, Hermione. Thank you for always helping me. I’m only doing so well because we study together.”

She flushed in embarrassment. “You’re welcome. I just didn’t want you to try so hard if that was the case. I’ve never met anyone better than me at studying before. I didn’t want you to hurt yourself trying to beat me or something.” Knowing she sounded stuck-up, she quickly added, “But that doesn’t mean I’m better overall! I mean, you’re way better at flying!” 

“I’m okay at it,” Harry denied with an embarrassed blush, ducking his head. “There are people way better than me. Like Draco, Fred, George, and Oliver.”

Hermione tilted her head curiously. “If you’re not trying to catch up to me, why are you working so hard?” She frowned. “You’re not working so hard for Draco, are you?”

Green eyes looked up at her again and this time they were less open. There were always secrets in his eyes when it came to Draco. It bothered her to no end. Mostly because she’d never not understood something before. “I want Draco to be proud of me, but I also just want to be the best I can be,” he finally answered.

Hermione scrunched her face in thought. “Does it bother you that he doesn’t feel the same way?”

Harry looked genuinely confused. “What do you mean?”

“I mean,” she said with a scowl, “he doesn’t work nearly as hard at his studies as you do. He just floats by. He could get really good marks if he actually tried. Doesn’t it bother you that he’s not trying to make you proud like you are him?”

“I am proud of him,” Harry answered softly, eyebrows lowering in confusion.

“But why? He makes you work so hard for his approval and you just give it to him for nothing,” she hissed. “It’s not fair.”

“Draco’s amazing,” Harry told her firmly. “He works really hard on stuff. Just because he can’t tell you what he’s doing, doesn’t mean he’s not working hard or that it’s not important. I’m really, really lucky to have Draco, Hermione. You don’t understand, so don’t talk about Draco, okay?”

Hermione flushed hotly. Harry was normally so sweet and kind. He cared about everyone and was really attentive. He and Neville were the nicest people she knew, so it always made her feel like she’d done something wrong when he got mad at her. Well, mad for him anyway. It wasn’t like he was mean or yelled, but she felt put in her place just the same. Frowning, she turned her attention back to her essay.

Remus looked up from the book he was reading when there was a knock on the door. He saved his place and made his way slowly to the front of the cottage. Opening the door, he kept his face neutral as he saw Albus Dumbledore standing on his doorstep. “Headmaster,” he said softly. “Come in.”

Dumbledore smiled, the sun glinting off his glasses. “Thank you, Remus, my boy.” As he ducked his head to step inside and the front door was shut behind him, he turned to his former student. “I feel remiss in welcoming you to Hogsmeade. It has been a busy three years, but that is no excuse. How have you been?” he asked jovially.

Remus was thiner. He moved stiffly and there were healing cuts along his hands and face, but he looked incredibly well considering it was the day after his transformation. Usually he would be on the floor unable to move for a good twelve hours after the moon had set and hardly able to do more than crawl into a bed for another twenty four after that. There usually was more physical damage to his body to be seen as well.

Remus gave him a polite smile and gestured him to the small couch in front of a fireplace. Fall had come and even during midday there was a chill in the air. “I am well. Would you care for some tea?”

“That would be lovely,” Dumbledore agreed and took his place on the couch. He looked around as Remus made himself busy in the kitchen. The cottage was cozy and well-kept. The only place that was unorganized was the large desk by the window with books and papers scattered about. Dumbledore scanned a few of the titles on the spines and noted they were all American in origin and revolved around Shamanism. Smile in place with eyes twinkling, he accepted the hot cup of tea Remus brought to him before sitting in the armchair adjacent to the couch. “Interesting field of study.”

Remus tilted his head curiously. “I’m aware it is considered an uncultured field and would not be looked on well here. It’s more for my personal knowledge than for any academic acclaim from my peers. I was able to witness several acts of shamanic magic while overseas and have grown quite fascinated.”

“I see,” Dumbledore said amiably, sipping his tea. “I for one would love to read any papers you write on the topic.”

Remus smiled at that. “Thank you, sir.”

“How are you settling in?” Dumbledore asked.

“Well enough. I’m on speaking terms with most of the villagers, but I do not go out of my way to invite a closer acquaintance,” he said easily with a shrug. “I’m so used to moving from one place to the next. I guess old habits are hard to break. Honestly, I’m quite content left on my own to study. I’ve never owned a home. It’s been peaceful.”

“Good, good.” Dumbledore took another sip of his tea before easing into the subject that brought him. “The boys are equally settling in to Hogwarts. There have been a few instances, but I feel they are behind them now.”

Remus eyed the old wizard for a long moment before saying, “That’s good to hear.”

“In fact, just recently there was an act against those who may have hurt Harry.” Dumbledore gave the younger wizard a frank stare. “I was wondering if you knew anything about that?”

“No, Headmaster,” Remus lied easily. Protective instincts surged through his veins. “Was it in the papers? I don’t read the Prophet much.”

“No,” Dumbledore said softly, his eyes shaded with disappointment. “I had a feeling you may know more about it, perhaps due to your correspondence with Draco…”

Remus gave a frown before nodding. “I had forgotten. Draco had mentioned that. He said people think he did it? But it sounded far-fetched so I put it out of my mind. Should I be worried?”

Dumbledore set his tea down, his whole posture changing. “Yes. I believe you must. If Draco did have a hand in the attack, it was shocking and brutal. Especially from the mind of a such a young boy. I fear what could occur if he should be allowed to develop unchecked. Remus, these boys are crucial to the survival of our world. We must be sure they grow appropriately.”

Remus sat back, a look of sympathy on his face. “I understand, Headmaster. I do. Draco can be cruel. However, I thought we were making progress in softening his outlook. I will do my best to reach him. You said the attack wasn’t in the news? I hope that means the boy was not seriously hurt?”

Dumbledore sighed. “He was scared out of his mind. Physically he is well, but it will be a while before he is fully recovered.”

“I can’t help but wonder why you are so concerned for his wellbeing,” Remus said softly, an almost unnoticed glow about his amber eyes. “The boy tried to murder a fellow student. That is as brutal as anything Draco has done.”

“He does not have the fate of the world on his shoulders,” Dumbledore said firmly, looking at his former student over his glasses. “His poor decisions do not effect the world as Draco’s does.”

Remus disagreed strongly. Had Adrian Pucey killed Harry - the mere thought made Remus want to vomit and his heart begin to race - the fate of the world would have sat very much on his shoulders. Pucey would have started a chain of events that would have ended in destruction. By attacking Pucey in turn and making it clear such attacks on Harry were unacceptable, that destruction was hopefully prevented. Could the Headmaster not see that? It was baffling to Remus who could see it so clearly. 

He spent the rest of the visit making polite small talk, even brushing on a few of his topics of study. Inside, he was watching and waiting, much as a wolf would who was stalking prey. Dumbledore was beginning to have doubts regarding Draco. He could become troublesome.

Draco had missed Quidditch practice for the last four days and Oliver made it clear, great flyer or not, if Draco didn’t make it to at least a few practices a week, he’d be removed as reserve Seeker. Harry was really excited that Draco had decided to join him that morning. He was determined to show him how hard he’d been practicing. They always started practice by running a mile. Harry ran as hard and as fast as he could. He felt almost like puking when it was over and bent over his knees, heaving in air. 

Oliver clapped him on the shoulder. “Good job, Harry! Took another twenty-seven seconds off your time!”

Harry grinned, pale and red-faced at the same time, and looked up at Draco.

Draco lifted a single eyebrow, his lips curled up in a smile. He’d come in a good forty-seconds after Harry. He was panting as well, sweat dripping down his face. “Good… job… Harry!”

Harry beamed proudly. 

Next they did sprints. Harry was ahead of Draco during most of them, but soon Draco was directly at his side, and then on the last two Draco passed him. Flinging themselves down onto the grass of the pitch, chests heaving, they tried not to die.

“Still… beat you…” Draco eventually panted.

Harry nodded. Draco was so amazing! He only came to about a third of the practices that Harry did and he was still able to mostly keep up and even beat Harry. 

Draco wasn’t as impressed with himself. He knew Harry’s endurance would always be fundamentally weaker because of the long-term starvation he’d experienced with the fucking Dursleys. It infuriated him every time he saw the evidence of Harry’s mistreatment, and he reminded himself again to make sure Harry was eating well during meals.

Oliver blew his whistle and they mounted their brooms for flying practice and maneuvers. Draco and Harry shared fierce grins as they shot up into the air together. It always surprised everyone else on the team how hard Draco and Harry went against each other. They were so close, nigh inseparable, and yet they almost looked like they were trying to kill each other over the snitch.

Lucius tapped the quill tip to the diary’s surface. In the week or so since he’d started his quest to find information on the life of one Tom Riddle, he’d learned absolutely nothing. It was as if all record of him was gone. Ink dripped onto the page and disappeared. 

You’ve been gone a long time. Has something happened? words appeared onto the page. 

Lucius figured he had nothing to lose. I could find no records of Tom Riddle anywhere.

You doubt my validity? You think I’m a false personality? There was a pause. Let me show you who I am, or should I say who I was?

How? Lucius wrote suspiciously. Suddenly the pages seemed to glow. Lucius pulled back but not quickly enough. He was sucked into the pages and was brought face-to-face with a sixteen-year-old version of his former Lord.

The teen was handsome. His eyes were bright with intelligence and mirth. “Hello, Lucius,” he drawled. “I’d be most interested to learn of Lord Voldemort. I have the distinct impression that you know of him.” A persuasive smile softened his mouth as he linked his arm through Lucius’s. They were nearly the same height. Tom only an inch or so shorter. “Would you like to see the Chamber where I thought up the name?”

“Slytherin’s Chamber?” Lucius whispered in awe. They were standing in a hallway at Hogwarts. It looked remarkably real. He reached out to touch the wall, but Tom had begun walking forward, pulling him along.

“The very same,” the teen drawled.

Ron cornered Harry before he disappeared in some nook somewhere with Longbottom-Pleasant. “You want to play a quick game of Exploding Snap with Dean, Seamus, and me?” 

Ron had thought about inviting Draco, too, but the blond was currently sitting on a window seat across the room with the twins. Ron scowled. The last time he’d tried to interrupt the three of them, Fred had called him stupid baby names and George had basically told him to butt out. It had left Ron angry for days! They were his brothers! Why were they so nice to Draco and never nice to him? Not that Ron wanted their stupid attention! Fred and George were mean and annoying; Draco could have them!

“Sure,” Harry agreed, but he looked distracted. His hair was messier than normal as he ran his hands through it restlessly. 

Ron put on a smile to cover his worry. “Great! Come on!” He grabbed Harry’s wrist and pulled him over to the fire. 

Dean playfully shoved Seamus in the shoulder. “You lose on purpose just because you like the explosions.”

“Well, yeah, but I don’t lose on purpose. I’m just that bad at this game,” Seamus countered with an exaggerated face of disappointment. 

Ron laughed at them and took his turn. Harry was next and he looked over, but the boy was staring into the fire. “Harry…” Ron snapped his fingers in front of the boy’s face. “Are you tired? You’ve been studying an awful lot.”

Harry blinked and turned a smile Ron’s way. “I’m fine! Sorry, Ron. I was just thinking.”

“About Draco? Where’d he run off to?” Dean asked curiously.

Ron looked over and sure enough Draco and the twins had disappeared.

“He likes to explore the castle,” Harry lied easily. “Hogwarts is pretty amazing, isn’t it?” 

Harry didn’t feel bad about lying. Draco was busy and the others would only slow him down, even if their intentions were good. Harry just wished he was stronger so that he could help Draco more. All he could do at this point was bring food back to the dorm if Draco missed a meal, keep their room clean, get better at Quidditch, and help Draco relax whenever he had a spare minute, but none of that really mattered. What really mattered was the battle between Draco and Quirrell. Harry wondered how strong he’d have to get before he would be able to stand at Draco’s side.

“Yeah, it really is!” Seamus exclaimed, his accent still unfamiliar to Harry’s ear. “We’ve been looking for secret passages and we found one near the Astronomy Tower. Maybe we could show Draco some time.”

“Yeah, maybe.” Harry pulled a card and flung it down. It didn’t explode. “I bet Draco’s already found it though. He’s pretty good at exploring.” He also had access to a magical map, but Harry knew better than to share that secret.

“Then maybe he could show us a few secret places,” Dean suggested. He flung a card down and it exploded, making all four boys jump and laugh.

“Harry!” 

Ron looked over with a dark glare, but Longbottom-Pleasant seemed immune. 

“I looked over your essay like you asked. I found some punctuation and spelling errors, and you need better transitions. You’ll have to rewrite it.”

Harry got up and accepted the parchment. He ran his other hand through his messy hair, clearly upset with himself. “Thanks, Hermione. I’ll go fix it right now.” 

Ron got to his knees and grabbed the girl’s wrist before she could wander off. He waited for Harry to get out of earshot and said hotly, “He could’a just scratched out the mistakes. Why can’t you leave him alone? He needs a break.”

She yanked her wrist out of his grasp. “He wants to do well, unlike some I could name. I’m being a friend and helping him with his goals. What’re you doing besides wasting time playing a stupid game?” Her tone was thick with accusation and disapproval and Ron’s face went red with fury, but before he could scream at her, Dean and Seamus grabbed him by each arm and pulled him back down.

Chapter end.

A/N: Kind of a filler chapter, I know, but the stage has been set. The following chapter will be more action-packed, promise.

Chapter Text

Samhain Battles

Samhain, or Halloween, dawned cold and dreary, but that did nothing to douse everyone’s excitement for the feast. Upperclassmen told stories of piles and piles of sweets, floating pumpkins and candles, and staying up late telling stories of the dead. 

“It’s Wingardium Levi-O-sa,” Hermione said impatiently as Ron again struggled to lift his feather in Charms, the last class of the day. 

Ron glared hotly at her. Hermione merely sniffed and put her nose in the air as if he were the one being unreasonable! The gong of the bell in the bell tower rang throughout the school, signaling freedom. Ron grabbed his bag, flung it violently over his shoulder, and rounded on the bushy-haired girl. Voice dark and vicious, he spat, “I didn’t ask for your help! And don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing with Harry!”

Her eyes had grown wide. Everyone had gone silent around them, but Ron couldn't stop. He’d kept it in for far too long. Being assigned as her partner today had been the last straw!

“You’re scared he’ll realize how terrible you are if he spends time with anyone normal, so you’re doing your bloody best to keep him from his other friends! Well, I’m not going anywhere, you ugly hag! Everyone hates you! You’re a bloody menace! Why don’t you just shove off?”

Professor Flitwick was too shocked to interfere and Ron stormed away before he could assign a detention. “Oh dear,” he muttered as Hermione fled the room in tears.

Neville ran after her, but Draco took Harry’s hand and went after Ron instead. He didn’t like the way the rest of the First-years were silent with implied agreement. Even Hermione’s roommates looked reluctant to interfere.

The Great Hall was decked out for Samhain. Floating pumpkins and candles hovered above the tables just as promised and treats were piled almost two feet high. The energy in the room was almost electric. They found Ron sitting at the end of Gryffindor table, away from their usual spot. He was poking at a cupcake with a scowl on his face.

“Ron,” Draco called.

The redhead looked up, his expression mulish.

Draco sighed. Harry took the seat to the right and Draco sat on the redhead’s left, boxing him in. “Look. You have every right to be mad if she’s being rude, but you can’t just go off on her like that.”

“Like a know-it-all like her would ever listen to me any other way!” Ron mashed a perfectly fine cupcake flat with his fork.

Draco had to concede the girl was stubborn. “If she really bothers you that much, try and avoid her.”

“Hard to do when you two are always hanging out with her,” Ron muttered stubbornly. “She’s always getting in my face when I’m trying to hang out with Harry.”

Draco frowned at Ron’s resistance. “We have to live together for seven years. You really want to fight that whole time? Besides, it upsets Harry.” The last was said in warning.

Ron glanced to the side and saw that Harry did look worried. Harry had been working so hard, everyone could see it. Ron was being a jerk, putting more on him. He mashed his cupcake even harder. Hermione Longbottom-Pleasant was just so impossible! Draco saw the Forth-years hovering nearby. Ron had taken their usual seats. Sighing, Draco grabbed Ron’s arm, pulling firmly.

“I doubt she’s coming to dinner. Let’s go sit at our usual spot, okay?”

Ron caved as Harry stared at him with big hopeful eyes. Together, they walked to their accustomed table with the twins, the twins’ friends, and most of the First-years. Draco was right. Neither Neville nor Hermione showed up for the feast. Harry fretted through most of the meal, only calming down when Draco told him to pick out the best treats so they could bring it up to Hermione and Neville later. 

Draco gave Ron a look, making the redhead squirm. He gave in, saying, “Yeah, okay. I’ll help you bring them up.” The relief on Harry’s face made Ron feel twice as guilty. “Sorry for ruining our first Samhain at Hogwarts,” he muttered.

“It’s okay. Friends fight,” Harry said, forgiving him instantly.

A warning kick from Draco to his ankle kept the, ‘I’ll never be her friend’, behind Ron’s teeth.

A wave of silence followed the abrupt arrival of Professor Quirrell. He was clearly in a panic, running and stumbling. His face was pale, his blue eyes wide with terror. By the time he hit the halfway mark into the Great Hall, you could hear a pin drop. “T-T-Troll. I-In the d-d-dung-geon,” he stuttered, looking toward the head table where Dumbledore and the other teachers sat. “Just t-t-thought y-you’d like to k-know.” Then he fainted dead away.

There was instant pandemonium. 

Dumbledore rose to his feet, his voice magically amplified so all the students could hear him. “Seventh-years, guide your classmates back to the common rooms. Stay inside until you hear from your Head of House! Teachers, escort the children. Minerva, with me.”

Draco grabbed both Ron and Harry by the hands. “Go. Be safe. I’ll catch up in a minute.” He wasn’t about to leave Quirrell. He pulled the two boys’ hands together, placing Harry’s hand in Ron’s.

- anxiety trust - Harry didn’t want to go, but he trusted Draco to make the right decision. If Draco thought he’d get in the way, then Harry needed to leave.

Ron gave a serious nod before getting up and following the stream of their housemates. Percy appeared at his side and Ron shamelessly took his hand, too. They followed the raised voices of the Seventh-years, calling, “Keep together now! Let’s be quick!”

They were in a crush of students from all the houses moving toward the Great Hall doors. Frightened and excited murmurs filled the air. Suddenly the kids next to Harry and Ron parted and a Gryffindor Fourth-year appeared at Harry’s shoulder, eyes wide and voice breathless from their struggle to reach the two First-years.

“Um, I thought you should know that I saw that friend of yours run into a bathroom on the second floor. She was crying.”

Harry’s eyes went wide as he looked to Ron - distress. “They won’t know about the troll!”

“Bloody hell,” Ron cursed, hand unconsciously tightening around Percy’s. Trolls were dangerous. Neville and Hermione were in serious trouble. “Perce…”

“You go on ahead,” Percy decided, letting Ron’s hand go and pushing the boy toward the stairs. “I’ll go get the other two.”

“No way!” Ron decided instantly. “It’s my fault they’re in trouble! I’m going! Arguing with me will only waste time. We need to get them quick.”

Percy gave his brother an angry glare, but Ron was right. They didn’t have time. Turning, he practically ran toward the second floor bathrooms with Ron and Harry chasing after him. It should be okay. The troll was in the dungeons. They’d get the other two and hurry up to the Tower. It’d be fine…

Draco hid under a table. It took ten minutes for everyone to leave and then a few minutes after that before Quirrell got to his feet, no longer looking terrified. Draco felt cold. In the weeks that Draco had been spying, Quirrell had acted suspicious as hell, but he’d never dropped his act so completely. It was like he was a different person altogether and it made goosebumps rise along Draco’s arms.

Quirrell strode with purpose down past the head table and out a side door obscured by banners. Draco followed as quickly and quietly as he could without giving himself away. What he wouldn’t give for the map right about now! Not that he really needed it. He had a feeling he knew exactly where Quirrell was headed: the third floor corridor. Quirrell was making his move.

A strong stench filled the second floor corridor. Percy knew something wasn’t right even before they turned the corner and saw the bathroom entrance smashed in, debris and dust falling across the floor. A girl’s scream pierced the air.

This isn’t happening! Percy mentally screamed. It couldn’t have gotten up here this fast! 

His heart pounded with terror. He’d never been so scared in all his life. Trolls were out of stories and textbooks. The smell, the sheer size, the fear of being hurt, of the younger kids being hurt… MerlinMerlinMerlin… 

“Get help!” he yelled as he ran forward to try and save the Longbottoms.

Ron shoved Harry, echoing, “Go! Get help!”, before running after his brother.

Eyes wide, heart pounding with adrenaline, Harry hesitated for a brief second before turning and sprinting back toward the main cross-section.

Draco pressed his back flat to the wall and slowly peeked his head around the corner. Quirrell muttered something, his wand moving in intricate patterns. His other hand was splayed palm out toward a door. 

- fear determination - filled the bond with the flavor of metal. Draco pulled his head back, breathing hard. What was happening with Harry? 

Sound hit the air, deep and powerful, with repetitive booms. Draco covered his ears and staggered away from the wall. Slowly he realized it was barking. Eyes wide, he tried to estimate how big the dogs had to be to make a sound like that. What the hell? Was that even possible? 

He took another look around the corner to see a massive grey paw fill the entire doorway with claws black and deadly. Quirrell staggered back, casting a fire spell that made the paw yank back, but the barking continued even after Quirrell slammed the door shut. 

Harry almost ran into Professor Snape. The man had been running up the stairs toward the third floor after seeing his Slytherins to the dorm, but he stopped at hearing Harry’s desperate cry.

“Please! Help! The troll! It has students pinned in a bathroom!”

Severus looked furious, more furious than he ever did in class, and practically flew back down the stairs. 

Harry turned and ran after him - desperation fear. 

The troll was as dumb as a bag of rocks, but it was huge! Three times the size of Hagrid, it barely fit in the bathroom. It had a massive club and a loincloth, hugely muscled arms and legs, skin a moss green color, and sharp yellowing teeth like a shark’s. 

Percy attacked it from outside the bathroom, drawing its hungry attention from Hermione and Neville who were huddled terrified under a sink. Their hands were over their ears and they were screaming, torsos curled close over their knees. 

Annoyed, the monster bellowed and took another swing at the wall. Stone shattered with a deafening, terrifying crash, making the floor vibrate and the whole world seem precarious. Percy was clipped by a piece of debris and went down to his knees, his shoulder bleeding. Neville and Hermione began sobbing, now clinging to each other desperately.

Wingardium Leviosa!” Ron bellowed and the club was lifted out of the troll’s hand. With a scream of rage and fear, Ron swung his wand as he would a baseball bat with all the strength in his arm. The club swung around, mimicking Ron’s movement and hit the troll square in the face. 

Blackish blood burst from the monster’s face, splattering the walls and floor as the troll staggered and fell against the bathroom wall. Again the floor shook. The bathroom stalls fell toward Hermione and Neville with a bang. 

“Run!” Ron cried desperately. He reached his hand forward uselessly, too far away and too slow to stop it. His heart practically leapt into his throat, certain he was about to watch classmates die right in front of him… 

Neville grabbed Hermione’s hand, yanking her toward Ron, but the stalls fell with a crash right on top of her. She gave an agonized cry as she slammed face-first to the ground, the stalls pinning her legs brutally to the floor.

“HERMIONE!” Neville screamed.

The troll gave a roar and pushed off the wall, reaching for Neville.

* Harry! * Draco called through the bond, an instinctive reaction as his boy’s fear screamed through him. 

Draco pushed his head around the corner one last time only to see Quirrell standing inches away staring directly down at him. A demented smile twisted the man’s face. The smell of garlic wrapped around him, hitting Draco’s senses like a punch. How the hell had the man gotten so close without Draco smelling him sooner?! 

Draco’s eyes went wide in horror, his heart thundered in his chest as adrenaline soaked his system.

“Well, well, well…” Low and menacing, Quirrell spoke without a single stutter. A faint red glow seemed to come from his eyes. “Finally caught the rat that’s always scurrying around, following me, watching me. Thought you were clever, did you, boy? You’re going to wish you had left well enough alone…”

Draco bared his teeth, backing up and giving himself some room. His magic coiled tightly, waking up from deep in his core with the realization that: Harry needed him; this bastard is a threat to Harry! 

“What are you going to do, Professor?” he drawled, heart pounding as his vision went crystal clear, his body and mind primed for battle. He hadn’t been looking for a confrontation, not so soon, but like hell he’d back down now. 

Eyes glinting silver, his voice dripped with mocking disdain, “Kill or hurt a student? I’m Draco Malfoy! The whole world knows my name. Something happens to me, your cover’s blown.” He snapped his fingers. “Just like that.”

Quirrell laughed, high and insane. The sound was so foreign, so inhuman, it literally made Draco feel cold. His heart beat so hard it seemed to pound at the inside of his throat. Draco clinched his fists, trying to steady his screaming nerves.

“Tell me something!” Draco demanded, stalling. He dug his nails into his palm, cutting deeply, getting his blood flowing. “Who’re you talking to when you’re all alone? I’m betting Voldemort. Do you do it through a mirror? Something else? Well, I’ll just bet Dumbledore will love going through your things to find out, traitor. And he’ll just love to hear about how you’re always creeping around this corridor. Finally found a way to get the door open, huh? Fat lot of good it did you,” he finished with a sneer.

As Quirrell snarled and lunged forward, Draco flung up his hand, splattering the asshole with his potent, magic-imbued blood.

As Snape and Harry sprinted onto the scene, they saw dust rolling out of the shattered bathroom doorway and could smell the gut churning stench of troll. Chunks of stone were flung across the hallway. Percy Weasley was on his knees, blood spilling from his shoulder. The sound of children screaming made every hair stand on end. Snape practically flew into the bathroom, wand stabbing forward as he bellowed, “Bombarda!”

The seven foot monster standing inside the demolished bathroom flew with great force right through the wall away from Hermione and Neville. As more debris fell from the roof and more dust filled the air, choking them, it screamed in rage. 

Harry ran right past Snape, ignoring the man’s angry call of his name - determination fury. His friends needed him! They were going to die! Troll blood made the floor slick. His leather shoes slid slightly, the heel made him slightly unsteady, but then he was there. Neville looked up at him with such painful hope that Harry almost collapsed underneath it. He was useless! He was going to FAIL! - but still his body moved, still he tried.

“Get to your brother!” Snape yelled, grabbing the younger Weasley by the back of his robes when the redheaded boy tried to go after Harry. He flung him back through the broken doorway.

Huge green hands grasped the edges of the hole that its body had made and began to pull itself through with another wall-shaking scream. 

At the crunch of stone under the beast’s hands, Harry looked over his shoulder, green eyes wide and wild, gasping in fast terrified breaths of the stench-filled air. Whipping his head back around toward his terrified friends, he raised his wand, trusting Snape to protect him.

Quirrell instinctively flinched backward and flung his arm up to catch most of the blood with his robe sleeve. The cloth immediately began to smoke as if acid had splattered it and Quirrell shrugged his robe off in a smooth gesture, letting it pool on the floor. A few drops had landed on his wrist and the back of his hand. It burned fiercely, disintegrating the skin and searing down through muscle to bone. 

Quirrell screamed! His voice distorted the air, layered with a higher pitch, eerily doubled. 

Draco wound up to fling more at the bastard, but he felt his arms get yanked viciously backward before he could finish the swing. His arms were magically bound from elbow to wrist, hands falling just below his ass, in a position he had once been terribly familiar with. Ice speared his insides and, with terrible understanding, Draco realized he should have run as soon as he saw Quirrell so close. His stupid instincts had led him to hold his ground instead. Terror opened up a pit in his stomach. He was helpless.

Shit, god no, not again…Fuck,” Draco gasped, staring in horror as Quirrell’s face seemed to blur for a second. A monstrous mouth, wide and gaping, blazing red eyes… Draco bit back a whimper and flinched back, his arms hitting the wall hard. With desperate terror, he bit his cheek, the pain hardly registering as poisoned blood slowly filled his mouth.

Wingardium Leviosa!” Harry screamed fearfully, desperate to save his friends. 

Harry’s desperation-filled spell slowly lifted the heavy stalls off Hermione. Neville was already pulling on his sister’s arm, screaming mindlessly with fear. As soon as they lifted enough, he dragged her out from underneath. Harry let the stalls drop with a bang and began to help Neville pull her toward the bathroom door. Harry tried not to see how her legs seemed crushed and bowed in weird places or the swath of blood that trailed in her wake… 

Tears spilled over Harry’s cheeks while Neville babbled hysterically promising everything would be okay. Hermione sobbed in pain, unable to walk. Her cheek was scraped and raw, blood trickled down her chin from her split lip. She looked battered and small and so unlike herself. 

Snape cast spell after spell, giving them the chance to drag Hermione clear of the rubble and the shattered doorway. The troll bellowed. Its skin smoked and steamed as it staggered back, but it was determined. Eyes red and frothing at the mouth, it flung itself forward again and again, trying to smash-break-eat them!

Quirrell stood over Draco, his expression cold, eyes burning red, and cast another pain spell. He’d dodged the mouthful of blood the boy had spat at him like a wild thing and reflexively brought the child down with a spell that caused many grown men to weep like a baby. The child had hardly shown a reaction. 

“You’re powerful, boy,” Quirrell whispered softly, caressing the words almost seductively. “Murderous. Dark. You’ll be a great weapon in my hand.” 

Quirrell watched fascinated as the boy went rigid, muscles tensed into corded lines, but still he didn’t scream. That only delighted Quirrell more. He released the spell and the boy went limp, crumpled on his side with his arms bound behind him and blood trickling out of his mouth. His blond hair had long since fallen from behind his ears, fanning across his cheek, darkened and damp with sweat.

“I’m temped to see if Cruico would win a scream from you, but that would leave evidence behind.” He crouched and gently stroked the boy’s hair, moving it away from his face so he could see it better. “You won’t be telling anyone about this or me, I’m afraid.” He smiled darkly. “But do not fear, I will not forget our time together, Draco Malfoy. I have great plans in store for you and your inborn power.”

As Quirrell’s burnt and damaged hand grabbed Draco face, a spike of pure agony split Draco’s head open as if it had been brutally cleaved in two. Draco bared his bloody teeth in a vicious grin. He fought the invasion with everything he had, his body going into a full-blown seizure, but he lost.

Lost, broken… underneath a man once again, he had everything he was twisted cruelly. Draco’s psyche screamed in utter agony that thrilled the man ripping him to pieces… The terrifying howls of three massive dogs filled the corridor. 

Dumbledore and McGonagall arrived just as Harry and Neville managed to drag a sobbing, whimpering Hermione out of the bathroom. Dumbledore’s blue eyes blazed with power he usually kept hidden. His white hair and beard seemed to lift slightly as if on a breeze. His movements were strong and fast. McGonagall wasn’t nearly as flashy, but she was efficient and confident. With Snape joining them, fury lacing every spell, it was over within a few minutes. The troll was left bleeding, unconscious, and bound.

“I will take care of the troll,” Dumbledore said gravely. “Minerva, see to the school. Severus, take the children to the infirmary.”

“There is something I need to check on,” Snape insisted.

“Very well,” Dumbledore allowed after a brief hesitation. He turned sharp eyes to McGonagall. “See to the children. I should only be gone a few hours.”

She bowed her head. “Yes, Headmaster.”

The pain was indescribable as Draco’s mind was brutally torn open. His defenses only slowed the monster down, did nothing to stop it. He was helpless. Chucks of memory, of who he was, was shoved this way and that, his mind being forcefully remade. 

Helpless, torn apart, Draco’s consciousness sank into a place that he once knew so well. He knew no amount of begging for it to be over would stop the mind-shredding pain. The only thing he could do was hunker down and endure. It hurt, hurt, HURT! He sobbed and whimpered brokenly as it went on and on. 

In his mind, the image of Quirrell fractured, shattered painfully as his memories and consciousness were pulled apart like taffy. Quirrell was made harmless, Draco’s paranoia and deadly intent shifted to Snape, Harry’s headaches an allergy to garlic, nothing to worry about. It was all Snape, the traitor, the one who was a danger to them all… 

Quirrell grinned as he stared down at the small boy. He was crouched before the child, looming over him, hovering too close. The boy sat against the wall, breathing hard, eyes glazed with acute suffering. Tears streamed down his face as he made these soft sobbing sounds. Eleven years old, so young, but his mind had been so tangled and full of blades. In time, he’d become something fierce and formidable. Quirrell caressed the child’s face, nails thick and yellow against the soft, pale skin of the boy’s damp cheek, before hearing footsteps approaching. He reluctantly pulled away. 

“Until next time, Draco,” he whispered softly.

Severus strode down the third floor corridor, breaking into a run as he passed the sound ward and heard the howling, barking madness of the cerberus. He unlocked the door to the chamber with the first trap and was immediately set on by the monster. He dove away from the doorway, but a claw still managed to nick his leg. His slammed the door, heart thundering in his chest. A quick bandage spell stopped the bleeding, but something wasn’t right. Something must have agitated the beast to be so ready for violence. The beast’s barking was deafening.

Concerned, he hurried down the hallway, trying to see if anyone were fleeing the scene and ran smack into Draco Malfoy. The boy tumbled backward, falling hard on his butt. His eyes were wide and wild, a snarl twisting his features. Severus narrowed his eyes as blood slowly trickled from the boy’s nose and out the corner of his mouth. Tears streamed down the boy’s pale cheeks. 

“Draco, what happened? Are you well?”

Draco got back on his feet, swaying slightly. Sweat dampened his face and darkened his hair. “Could ask you the same thing,” he said lowly, voice thick, hoarse. “Something you need over here? I’m sure you have other things you should be doing than lurking around this corridor.”

Severus had no time to argue with the boy. Something had clearly happened. He had to find the traitor; they had to know which of the staff was contaminated. “Harry was taken to the infirmary. I suggest you go there as well.”

“And leave you here to steal whatever it is Dumbledore’s protecting?” Draco took an aggressive step closer, eyes glittering with malice. “How long have you been in Voldemort’s service, traitor?”

Severus reeled back as if struck. “I don’t know to what you’re referring,” he said numbly, his mask slamming into place from long years of practice. “Why don’t I escort you to the infirmary. You’re obviously unwell.”

Draco said nothing to that, letting a sneer of disgust speak for him, but he followed the man when he turned and made his way back down the corridor. At least it got Snape away from the third floor corridor for now. Draco stared grimly at the professor’s back. He’d make sure Snape didn’t get his way and that Dumbledore’s item stayed safe from Voldemort. Once Draco figured out how Snape was keeping in touch with the Dark Lord, he’d reveal him for the bastard traitor he was. The taste of salt and blood filled his mouth, making him grimace and his stomach roll, but his silver eyes stayed focused on Snape’s black-robed shoulders.

Harry looked up as Snape strode into the infirmary with Draco in tow. He took one look at Draco’s pale, blood-streaked face and ran to his side - worry love. Draco opened his arms, holding Harry safe and close, but his eyes remained narrowed on Snape’s form. 

“You’re bleeding,” Harry murmured, reaching up to gently wipe some of the blood away.

“Just a nose bleed,” Draco dismissed. His attention finally shifted to Harry. “What happened?” he demanded, carding a hand through Harry’s dust-coated hair.

Harry dutifully told the story of his adventure - pride worry.

Draco’s grip tightened in Harry’s hair, distressed that the boy had come so close to danger and he hadn’t been there, but Harry was proud of himself. Draco could feel the tentative belief that he’d done good a flicker through the bond. If Draco got mad or scolded him, Harry’s fragile self-worth would be crushed to dust and three times as hard to bring back to life. 

“Good boy, getting help,” he murmured. “You saved their lives.”

- happy pride - Harry smiled, hiding his face against Draco’s shoulder. “But Hermione’s still really hurt…” - worry guilt.

“She’ll be fine. Pomfrey is a good healer, remember?” Draco closed his eyes and just held his boy close. 

He had to do better. He had to protect Harry! The fact that Harry had run into Snape of all people, alone for that brief moment, made chills run down his spine. He opened his eyes and stared malevolently over Harry’s head at Snape. Snape was fucking lucky Harry hadn’t been hurt or Draco would have killed him, consequences be damned. Dark eyes stared back at him, expression blank, and Draco bared his teeth in a dangerous, blood-coated grin.

“I’m sorry, Severus,” Poppy said softly. The room was dark, the children spelled into a deep sleep as they lay in her hospital beds - for observation, she’d told them. “I scanned Mr. Malfoy twice. There’s nothing wrong with him that I can see beyond exhaustion. He had a bitten cheek and punctured palm, all easily healed.”

Severus stared at the eleven-year-old boy tucked into the narrow bed. Harry lay in the bed next to him, their hands reaching across the space between them, fingers linked even in sleep. Draco looked so small, so young. Severus was deeply disturbed by their earlier confrontation. Something had happened and Severus feared for the boy. What did you get yourself into? he thought, feeling grim.

“Thank you, Poppy,” he said, voice equally soft, and spun on his heel, making his robes flare. “I must report to the Headmaster.”

Harry woke shortly after dawn. He was exhausted, but the night before had left him feeling like he was rattling inside his own skin, too anxious to sleep. The blurry outline of Draco in the next bed soothed him and he held tight to the blond’s hand. He almost made it back to sleep when he heard Neville’s soft crying. Harry frowned. Sitting up, he grabbed his glasses off the nightstand with his free hand and slid them on his face. He blinked a few times to clear his vision and saw that Neville was in hospital pajamas and stood next to the bed across from him. It was Hermione’s bed. Looking to his other side, he saw Percy sound asleep.

Harry carefully climbed out of bed, noticing that he wore hospital pajamas, too. Gently placing Draco’s hand on his chest, he tiptoed across the room. Neville looked up at him, eyes red-rimmed and tormented. Harry’s heart clenched. He wanted to help, but he had no idea what to do. His eyes unconsciously darted back to Draco’s sleeping form. He would know. Draco always knew.

“I couldn’t help her,” Neville rasped hoarsely. “She’s really hurt, Harry.”

Harry looked to where his roommate gestured and saw that there was something on Hermione’s legs underneath the blankets. Some kind of cast or brace. Harry bit his lip, his heart suddenly pounding harder in his chest - uncertainty guilt. He could heal her!… But if the wound was very bad, it would make Harry weak and dizzy and possibly pass out. He could even hurt himself because he always lost a dangerous amount of weight when he healed big things without Draco’s magic bolstering his own. His throat tightened and he became aware of the collar at his throat. Unconsciously, Harry relaxed; his nerves settled.

“Madam Pomfrey’s a really good healer,” he repeated Draco’s words to himself as well as to Neville.

Percy sat up, woken by the boys’ voices. He rubbed tiredly at his eyes. “You two should still be sleeping. What’s going on?” He was topless, a big white bandage wrapping his shoulder.

Harry looked to Neville, but the other boy had no intention of speaking. “Hermione’s hurt,” Harry finally said and glanced back at Draco worriedly. “And Draco won’t wake up.”

“Hermione’s going to be fine,” Percy told them, voice and eyes gentle as he slipped on his glasses. “I heard Madam Pomfrey talking about it. She’s going to need treatment for a few weeks, but she’ll make a full recovery. As for Draco, Madam Pomfrey said he was exhausted. She probably gave him something to help him sleep.”

Neville ducked his head. “I just wish I could have helped her before she got hurt in the first place. I… I was so scared. I didn’t know what to do and she got hurt.” Large tears rolling down his raw cheeks, Neville looked up at them and confessed, “I wish I were stronger.”

Sympathetic tears filled Harry’s eyes as he reached forward and took Neville’s hand. He knew exactly how Neville felt. “Me, too.” 

Percy tried to get them back into bed, but they stood by Hermione for almost half an hour before Pomfrey came to check on them. She ordered them breakfast trays and told them to get back in bed and take it easy. 

All five of them had been excused from classes for the day. Ron had been as well, but he had insisted on going back to the Tower last night. (He hadn’t trusted Pomfrey to release him in the morning and judged it better to avoid her clutches if possible.) He knew both Harry and Hermione would worry about missing class and had promised to take notes for them. Harry and Neville shared a grin at that. Maybe those two would finally stop fighting now. 

Chapter end.

Chapter Text

At the Lake

Harry sat cross-legged on Draco’s hospital bed with Draco’s head resting on the pillow next to his hip. It was nearing dinner and still Draco hadn’t woken. Percy had left at lunch. Hermione had woken shortly after. She’d been withdrawn, but her eyes had been alert as Pomfrey had explained her condition and healing regiment. She’d have to stay in the hospital for two days and then use a cane to walk for a few weeks after that. If she had merely broken bones, Pomfrey could have healed her completely in twenty-four hours. However, Hermione’s right knee had been shattered. The combination of ligaments, cartilage, and bone took longer to fix. 

Harry had retreated to Draco’s bed after that. He felt tense, pulled thin. Something was wrong. Pomfrey assured him Draco was just tired, but Harry felt it. Something was wrong. He would have tried to heal him, but he couldn’t with so many people around. Draco’s hard rule was to keep their healing/kissing private. Harry couldn’t disobey… At least not yet. Soon though. If Draco didn’t wake up soon, Harry would prioritize Draco’s condition over the rules. 

On top of a chilling feeling of impending disobedience, he felt stressed about Hermione’s leg. He could heal her, save her pain and recovery time, but Draco had said no. Pomfrey was able to heal her. It would just take time. He still felt guilty. Caught between his worry over Draco and stress regarding Hermione, Harry felt wound tighter than a spring. Like he was barely holding on. 

Hermione sat up in bed and stared across the room at her friends. She’d already sent Neville off. He needed a break and to get out of the infirmary for a bit, but Harry refused to budge without Draco. He sat with his back to the headboard on the same bed as the blond. Draco was sleeping, mouth slightly parted, hair splayed slightly on the pillow. He was on his back, his breathing even and deep. Harry, on the other hand, looked like a blank-faced doll. His dull green eyes stared unblinking behind his glasses. His jet-black hair fell around his face and stuck up in places around his head. He sat with an almost unnatural stillness. His hand rested on Draco’s chest, fingers curled slightly as if he wanted to grasp Draco’s hospital shirt and hold on. 

Hermione had already called his name a few times, but the boy was deaf to it, trapped somewhere in his thoughts. She didn’t like how dependent Harry was on Draco, especially since it didn’t go both ways. Sure, Draco cared where Harry was and what Harry did, but he left Harry behind plenty of times to do whatever it was he did in secret. He did what he wanted and told Harry what to do. There was no room for what Harry wanted. 

Not to mention, where was he when Harry, and even Ron, had come and risked their lives to save her and Neville? He was doing his own thing like usual! She had needed him… Harry and Neville had needed him… but he hadn't been there. Now she was hurt and Harry looked broken and Draco just got to sleep peacefully as if nothing was wrong! 

Why the hell was he even in a hospital bed to begin with? He was tired? She snorted in disgust. Please! Harry worked so much harder than him! Between Quidditch and their school work, Harry barely had any time for eating and sleeping. He’d even fought a battle with a troll, and he was holding up better than Draco was! Crossing her arms, leg throbbing with painful heat with every beat of her heart, Hermione scowled at the blond sleeping peacefully across from her.

Draco woke slowly. It was like climbing up out of blankets of cloying fog. He became aware of his breath, of the feel of a bed at his back with his weight pressing down. Then the psychic bond registered with the cold sting of - stress anxiety. Draco’s fingers twitched, his breath hitched and he pried his heavy eyes open. He had no memory of where he was or what had happened, only a sense of Harry needing him. 

The blurry image of Harry sitting next to him, staring straight ahead slowly came into focus. A slow blink; he noticed Harry’s hand resting tensely on his chest. Draco lifted his arm and placed his hand on Harry’s. Harry took a deeper breath and turned his head down and to the side so he could look at Draco. It took a few seconds, but his jewel-bright eyes focused and actually saw him. 

- RELIEF worry gratitude - 

Tears filled Harry’s eyes as a smile spread across his face. He slid down to lay on his side next to Draco so they were still facing each other. Draco turned onto his shoulder, their heads rested on the same pillow, their noses brushing. He lifted his hand to card it slowly through Harry’s wild hair. “What’s the matter?” he asked in a sleep-rough whisper.

Harry took another deep breath, letting the weight fall from his shoulders. Draco was here; Draco had him. “Hermione’s knee was shattered. Pomfrey couldn’t fix it right away. She’ll need a cane to walk for a few weeks. I want to heal her. And you wouldn’t wake up, Draco. It’s almost dinner. You slept so long. Something… Something feels wrong.”

Draco listened patiently, hand rhythmically stroking Harry’s hair. Trusting green eyes stared back at him. It made his heart kick harder in his chest: Harry needed him, Harry relied on him. A quick self-check revealed he did feel heavy and kinda foggy. He understood they were in the hospital wing, but he was blurry on why. There was a troll, but he didn’t remember a troll… “What happened?” he finally asked, having a sense this would worry Harry because he should already know. 

Harry related the events with the troll once again, but he couldn’t tell Draco what had happened to him. He hadn’t been there. “You stayed behind to follow Quirrell. After the troll, Snape found you in the third floor corridor.”

Draco began to remember seeing Snape, the booming barks… That traitor had gone after whatever it was that Dumbledore was safeguarding from Voldemort! His whole body tensed, but when Harry frowned and gently cupped his cheek, Draco breathed out slowly and forced himself to relax. “Okay,” Draco whispered. He swallowed hard. His whole mouth felt suddenly dry. The sharp memory of the taste of blood hit him hard. “I feel a bit foggy, but I think I’m fine. You can heal me tonight.”

Harry nodded - relief love. “Yes, Draco.”

“As for Hermione… Let me check her out.” 

Draco pushed himself up into a sitting position, basking in the warm - trust faith - that shimmered through the bond. Harry sat at his side, close enough that his wild hair brushed Draco’s pale cheek. The infirmary was wide and twice as long with dozens of rows of beds along each side. It was empty save for Hermione who was pale-faced and glaring. Draco frowned. He swung his legs over the bed and crossed the distance between them. 

“How are you feeling?” he asked softly, eyes running down her body and taking note of the brace that was strapped to her right leg. The knee was swollen and red/blue. Reaching forward, he hovered his hand a few inches above it and felt the heat from there.

“Fine, no thanks to you,” she answered coldly, arms pulling even tighter across her chest. 

Draco glanced up at her face, surprised. Her eyes were bright with unshed tears. There was anger there and hurt. Draco felt a pang. She had expected him to come help and he hadn’t. Draco lowered his head. “I’m sorry, Hermione,” he told her sincerely. “I promise I left for a good reason.” He glanced over at his boy who was watching attentively from the bed across the aisle. “Be on look out.”

“Yes, Draco,” Harry answered before tuning his attention to the room around them instead of Draco and Hermione.

Hermione frowned and opened her mouth to tell him off, but Draco raised a hand to stop her from speaking. He turned and sat half on the bed, twisting slightly sideways so he could still face her. He lifted his hand, blocking his lips from the rest of the room and began to whisper into her ear. “I know I’ve been keeping this secret, but it’s for good reason. Harry’s in danger, Hermione. Dumbledore is keeping some magical artifact in the school and Voldemort is trying to get at it through a traitor so that he can be brought back to full strength. You didn’t think a baby could really destroy a powerful Dark Lord, did you? Something weird happened with their magic, but Voldemort isn’t gone for good. Not yet. I’ve been keeping my eye on the third floor corridor, trying to figure out who our enemy is and I caught him red handed! It was Snape, Hermione! If Snape gets this thing, Harry’s the first one Voldemort will go after.”

Hermione’s arms fell as she stared at him in horror. “My god…” she breathed.

Draco dropped his hand and grabbed hers tightly. “I have to protect him, Hermione. I’m sorry I’ve been gone a lot, but I was trying to figure this out. I didn’t tell you earlier because I wasn't sure you could handle it to be honest, but it’s different now. I could really use a brilliant mind like yours working on this with me.”

Hermione’s lips paled as they pressed tightly together as her mind raced. After a moment, she managed to get out, “What makes you think I can handle it now?”

“Because,” Draco answered gently, looking intently into her eyes. “You’ve been hurt. You’ve seen how dangerous things can get. You know now how serious this is and what it could cost. You won’t treat this as some game.”

Breath shallow and fast, Hermione’s fists clenched in the bed sheet, her right hand flexing under Draco’s firm grip. The thought of facing something like the troll again terrified the hell out of her. Tears slipped down her cheeks as she glanced at Harry who was still dutifully watching the room from the other bed. If Voldemort was going to come back… Taking a deep breath, she squared her shoulders. Harry had risked his life to save her. She wouldn’t do any less for him. She turned back to Draco and lifted her chin. “I’ll help you.”

Draco gave her a fierce smile and reached out to stroke her hair once. 

Hermione blushed and wiped at her cheeks. “Now start at the beginning.” 

Draco complied, going all the way back to Diagon Alley and their first meeting with Hagrid.

Ron’s face lit up when they came down for dinner. “How’re you feeling? I took really good notes today.”

“Thanks, Ron,” Harry said sincerely as he took his seat. “I really appreciate it.”

Ron blushed red. “Don’t worry about it. How’s Hermione?”

Draco used both hands to tuck his hair tightly behind his ears before answering. He gave Ron a tired smile. “Hurting, but she’s strong. She’ll be okay.”

Movement at the corner of Draco’s eye drew his attention. It felt like the world became made of sharp-edged glass. His universe oriented on Snape walking out from a side door and settling at his place at the Head Table. His sallow features set in a glare, the large hooked nose, the lanky hair framing his face… Draco could see him as if he suddenly had the ability to zoom in with his eyes.

* It was Snape, Harry. It was him all along. *

Harry shivered as the dark intensity of Draco’s mental voice filled his mind. He instinctively ducked his head and glanced at the head table through his thick bangs. Snape was looking their way. Harry resisted his first impulse to look away. Snape looked as firm and unforgiving as ever, sometimes he was even cruel, but he was also the man who had helped Draco with his flashbacks and protected them from the troll. Harry leaned over and placed his lips close to Draco’s ear. “Is he working with Quirrell?” he whispered, trying to wrap his mind around Snape being the enemy.

* Quirrell’s nothing but a pathetic loser, * Draco dismissed, eyes glued to Snape.

Harry sat back in confusion. He checked the head table, but Quirrell was not in attendance. That wasn’t very unusual, though. Quirrell wasn’t a threat? Harry looked at Draco in concern, but Draco didn’t seem to notice.

“What’s up with Snape?” Ron asked, butting in. One cheek budged with a bite of bread. 

Draco tore his eyes away. “Nothing. Why?”

Ron frowned. “You were glaring at him. I thought he must’ve said something to you?”

“No.” Draco shot the evil bastard one last glare before turning his attention to the meal. He brutally stabbed a piece of broccoli. “He’s just an annoying, old bat.”

Ron laughed, but then his expression sobered. “Yeah, but he was really something with that troll. We’d’ve been toast without him, you know?”

Draco looked up into Ron’s blue eyes, suddenly sincere. “I’’m sorry I wasn’t there. Thanks for protecting Harry.”

Ron blushed again, his freckles disappearing under a wave of red. He ruffled his hair at the back of his head bashfully. “It’s no big thing.”

Draco refused to drop Ron’s eyes. “It is to me. Thank you. You were really brave.”

Grinning at the praise, Ron bumped Draco’s shoulder with his own. “It’s cool, man. Don’t worry about it.”

Draco let the subject drop, but he wouldn’t forget. Under the table, he took Harry’s hand and entwined their fingers. Soft green eyes looked over at him and Draco squeezed Harry’s hand. It was small and warm and soft. An intense burning need to protect suddenly choked Draco. His throat grew tight and his eyes burned. He would keep Harry safe no matter what it took.

Draco told their housemates they needed to get some air; they’d been cooped up in the infirmary for too long. Harry thanked Ron again for taking notes and asked him to leave them with Neville; he’d look at them later that night. It was cold, but not too cold. Sweaters under their robes were enough to keep them warm. The exposed skin of their hands and face grew cold to the touch. The sun had already begun to set. Pink and orange began to bleed out of the sky, turning a soft grey that was deepening into night. 

The boys didn’t talk as they walked down the grassy hill. Stone steps were placed erratically along the way down. The castle began to shrink as they walked away and cut toward the forest where trees and lake met. Hagrid’s hut was higher up the hill. They could see that the windows were dark. Hagrid wasn’t home; he was probably deep in the forest.

Harry took a deep breath of the cold air. The further they got from the castle, the more steady he felt. It was just Draco and him here, and the prospect of soon healing Draco, of being useful, warmed him from the inside out. Already his nerves tingled in expectation of Draco’s mouth and teeth, of the pleasure-pain that he craved and utter peace that followed. 

Draco hummed, creating a low purring sound deep in his throat. Harry’s emotions pulsed warmly through the bond, making him hard. The skin of his cock head grew sensitive as his pants rubbed against him with every step. Excitement and anticipation made his heart pump hard in his chest. He looked around almost desperately for a good spot. He had to have Harry under him, coming undone. There! A flat, dark grey rock jutting out past the forest and a few feet over the dark lake water. Orange and red leaves that were cast in shadow littered the surface, crunching as Draco guided Harry onto the narrow stone shelf. 

“Kneel,” he commanded, voice low and intense.

Harry immediately sank to his knees, his head bowed forward, his hands naturally hooking at the small of his back. 

Draco looked around carefully. The trees screened them from the castle and Hagrid’s hut. All he could see was the lake and mountains before them and the dark, looming forest behind. True dark was falling, further protecting them from view. Draco shifted his attention to his boy. “Take your robe off.”

Harry reached up and undid the clasps holding the robe closed and pulled it off his shoulders, letting it pool behind him. His messy hair blended in with the encroaching night, but the fair skin of his face, slender neck, and hands could easily be seen. He looked beautiful and Draco’s eyes lovingly traced the black collar at Harry’s throat. Draco slowly mimicked Harry, undoing his robe and letting it fall around his feet. 

“Now your sweater,” he ordered just above a whisper.

Harry pulled the dark red, thick sweater over his head revealing a white button up with a red and gold school tie falling down his chest. The boy was breathing faster, his cheeks had darkened with warm blood. - desire need anticipation - filled the bond with prickling heat.

“Glasses,” Draco rasped. He was almost trembling with the desire to touch, own, mark.

Harry set his glasses aside.

Draco crouched on the balls of his feet, worn Converse bending easily. Jeans encased his legs, nearly skin-tight. The white collar of a white button-up without the school tie could be seen above the low v-neck of his sweater. The black, soft wool made Draco’s skin seem even paler, a milky white in the darkness. Eyes gone sliver, glinting as he stared at Harry with absolute focus, he watched his boy kneel with perfect submission. 

Slowly, one pale hand reached out and unknotted Harry’s tie. Harry sat still as Draco worked, a faint tremble of need shivering through his muscles. The cold stone under his knees seemed to seep in through his legs. The contrast between that and the heat of his desire made goosebumps rise along his arms. Draco slid the tie free of Harry’s neck and rose gracefully. He walked around the boy and crouched again. His hands were warm as he maneuvered Harry’s arms so that the boy's forearms were overlapping halfway down the boy's back. He tied them in this position using the school tie.  It pulled Harry’s shoulders back and his biceps tight to his sides, but it wasn’t a tight enough pull to put strain on the shoulder joints. It was a soft hold. One Harry still couldn’t pull free from until Draco released him. 

Harry began to pant, his pupils dilating - relief lust love. He was under Draco’s complete control, unable to move, unable to make a mistake or get things wrong. He was safe and wanted and made Draco happy. He was good. A moan slipped past his lips. Draco walked around to stand in front of the trembling boy. He let Harry revel in the feeling of being bound for a long minute as he watched with hungry eyes and listened to every soft sound that fell from soft, pink lips.

As their desire grew, their magic rose invisibly from their bodies to touch and slide together in the air around them. Draco lifted his hands and felt Harry’s attention as an almost physical sensation against his skin as those beautiful green eyes watched as he slowly unbuttoned and unzipped his pants. He took a measured step forward and brought his stiff member even with Harry’s mouth. Harry opened with a sigh, eyes fluttering. Draco reached forward and hooked his thumbs at the corners of Harry’s mouth. Holding the boy’s jaw open and preventing any forward movement, Draco kept him from getting too close.

“Lick me,” he rasped. Harry’s tongue darted forward, making Draco hiss. “Shit,” he groaned, panting. 

Harry’s mouth and breath were hot while the air was almost painfully cold against the wet skin Harry left in his tongue’s wake. Every hot swipe and lap made him hiss and gasp. Harry was salivating, spit soaking Draco’s thumbs, dripping down his throat, and soaking Harry’s shirt collar. It made Draco’s heart beat even faster as drool glistened obscenely on Harry’s chin. The boy made a gorgeous picture: mouth wide open with Draco’s thumbs hooking it open wide, glistening tongue wriggling and lapping at the soft skin of Draco’s dick, cheeks flushed and eyes bright.

“Sit still.”

Draco took his slick thumbs from Harry’s mouth and steadied the base of his cock with one hand, the other fisting Harry’s hair to keep the boy’s head steady. A flex of his hips and his dick slid into the wide open mouth along the boy’s tongue. He rubbed it there, shivering as Harry’s hot, panting breaths hit the sensitive tip. Draco groaned, shifted his hips, and deliberately began to tap at the back of Harry’s throat. Harry made gagging sounds at each tap but held perfectly still. Draco bounced faster - tap, tap, tapping - stopping only when he thought Harry might actually throw up. 

“Keep it open,” Draco ordered hoarsely. 

He crouched down, not releasing his hard grip on Harry’s hair. With his free hand, he quickly buttoned his pants to protect his wet dick from the cold. Then he grabbed Harry’s tongue and gently rubbed it between thumb and forefinger. Draco’s head was higher than Harry’s in this position and he leaned forward so his mouth was above the boy’s. 

Harry stared up at Draco with - need adoration lust. His head was tilted back, his mouth still wide open with spit drizzling out of the corners. His pupils were huge, his chest rising and falling rapidly with every panting breath. Electricity shot straight to his nipples as Draco continued to stroke and tug at his tongue. His eyes widened. An excited gasp escaped as Draco opened his mouth and a thick string of saliva dripped down, hitting Harry’s tongue and sliding to the back of his throat. Harry swallowed instinctively - DracoDracoDraco - filling his senses.

A hungry smile curled Draco’s lips as the string of saliva continued to connect his mouth to Harry’s. Harry’s tongue writhed against Draco’s pinching fingers and Draco let go curiously. Harry lapped at Draco’s spit, reaching for more. They moaned together this time. Draco bent closer, slightly curling over the other boy, and began to lick at Harry’s mouth, the inside of his cheeks, the roof, along his teeth. Finally, Draco rubbed his tongue firmly against Harry’s. 

Harry held his mouth open the way he had been commanded. His heart beat so hard it felt like it was going to leap out of his chest. His dick throbbed painfully hot between his legs. Tears gathered at the corners of his eyes as more and more spit spilled past the corners of his lips and soaked his neck and shirt collar. A whimper slipped up his throat as Draco’s teeth caught his tongue and tugged playfully.

“Delicious,” Draco murmured, hot breath bathing Harry’s tear-damp checks. “You’re fucking delicious, Harry.”

He stood and deliberately placed the ball of his foot against the small bulge in Harry’s dark slacks. Harry groaned, curling over Draco’s leg and pillowing his cheek on the blond’s thigh. The posture revealed Harry’s bound arms and the vulnerable back of Harry’s neck. Eyes slitted with a predatory glint, Draco rubbed his foot in small circles with an occasional soft thrust. Lust spiked through his system, making him feel like he was burning alive as his thigh quickly grew wet with Harry’s drool. Harry was moaning near constantly now. The air seemed to shimmer as their magic began to merge and spiral. 

Draco tossed his head back, his blond hair bright under the light of the moon as Harry’s magic played at the edges of his senses and slowly entered his body, erasing every ache and filling him with energy. “Yes, Harry, good boy,” he murmured blindly up at the star-studded sky. 

- pleasure need euphoria

Head dropping down to stare at his boy once more, Draco pulled at Harry’s hair, forcing him off his thigh and to sit up. Harry’s mouth was still obediently open and Draco grinned fiercely. “Good boy.”

Harry’s back arched at the praise, head tilting submissively to the side and revealing more of his collared throat.

Draco bent and grabbed the bottom of Harry’s shirt and lifted it, exposing Harry’s slender torso and gorgeous, dark pink nipples. He bunched it up, making it tight under Harry’s arms and stuffed the wadded up shirt into Harry’s gaping mouth.

“Bite.”

Harry flexed his jaw, holding the bunched up shirt in his mouth.

Draco stood over him. He rubbed his foot against Harry’s crotch, enjoying the sight of Harry’s exposed skin. He loved the way Harry’s jaw strained to hold the shirt, the way his wild, black hair stuck to his damp cheeks. Loved the soft lines of Harry’s chest and ribs, the dip of his stomach and perfect low belly button. Draco especially adored his small nipples, the way they were already pebbled. 

“Rock against me,” Draco whispered seductively. 

Harry groaned and flexed his hips, rocking up against the sole of Draco’s Converse. It made the muscles of his stomach tense and ripple. Sweat began to dew on his skin. Draco watched with unblinking eyes as Harry groaned and panted and worked his body closer and closer to the edge. Draco reached down and pressed his palm firmly against his throbbing dick. Not yet.

“Don’t cum until I say, Harry,” he growled. Reaching forward, he touched Harry’s cheek just under his eye with gentle fingertips. “Can you do that for me?”

Harry whimpered, his muscles tensing to obey - PLEASURE need. He was so close. The feel of Draco’s eyes on him, the sensation of rubbing against Draco’s foot, the ache of his jaw as he held onto his rolled up shirt, the cold biting his sweat-damp skin, his arms bound tight behind him - it all sent him into a haze of pleasure, the end rushing toward him.

Draco watched as the struggle became more and more difficult. Harry was dripping sweat. His eyes were wide and pleading as he involuntarily began to thrust harder against Draco. Tears were streaming down his face, further soaking his shirt. Fear began to trickle into the bond; Harry was about to fail and disobey. Scream building in his throat, Harry began to tremble. His hips jerked haphazardly. Draco stepped back right before Harry lost it completely. Harry curled slightly forward, his damp bangs falling down and over his eyes. He was panting hard and fast, on the edge of sobbing. 

“Good,” Draco rasped. “You did so good. Holding out so long. Good boy.”

Magic curled and tangled in tight, tense knots around them as Harry fought to catch his breath and keep from cumming. Draco groaned and crouched. He twisted both of Harry’s nipples brutally. Harry screamed, head flinging up and arching his back, offering more of his chest for Draco to play with.

“Such a good boy,” Draco purred, eyes half-lidded as he looked on Harry’s flushed face and dazed eyes. “Keep holding it, Harry. Until I say.”

His hands trailed down to unbutton and unzip Harry’s slacks. Harry didn’t wear underwear either and Draco easily exposed his hard member to the cold air. It was swollen and red, throbbing in Draco’s palm. Draco touched it softly, not giving Harry enough to get off. 

“I want your mouth,” he murmured. 

Harry immediately released his shirt and Draco pressed his mouth to Harry’s in a searing kiss. Meanwhile the blond’s quick fingers had Harry’s shirt unbuttoned and spread in moments so that he could still access Harry’s chest. Draco pulled back, a string of saliva spiderweb thin between them. “That’s better.” He smirked. One hand went up and three fingers slid into Harry’s mouth. It was dry now from the shirt, only slightly damp. Draco planned on fixing that. The other went down and pinched the head of Harry’s cock between thumb and middle finger, closing the tiny hole at top.

Harry gasped at the sharp pain, shocking in its unexpected intensity, but it was muffled by Draco’s fingers filling his mouth. The blond spread his fingers, pushing out Harry’s cheeks slightly, the middle finger rubbing and pressing down on his tongue. Draco watched Harry’s expressions intently as he finally released the sensitive tip from the brutal pinch. He switched hands, stroking Harry’s throbbing erection with his freshly damp fingers. His other hand pressed again at Harry’s mouth. Three fingers slid in and out in a slow rhythm that matched Draco’s stroking hand.

Tears streamed down Harry’s face from blind eyes. His dick throbbed with painful heat that was soothed by the mind-numbing pleasure of Draco’s hand rubbing deliciously. Trapped between the two fires of pain and pleasure, Harry felt wrapped in layers of trust and lust. Draco hummed and pressed Harry’s cock flat to his belly. He pinched just under the head. Harry screamed, the vibrations shooting up Draco’s fingers and straight to his cock. Harry’s body arched beautifully. Draco leaned forward, curling over him, and thrust his fingers in and out of Harry’s mouth faster.

Harry began to unravel under the agonizing pinches to the head of his cock and balls intermixed with a damp fist jerking him off and fingers fucking his mouth. He lost all sense of his body. Only of the pounding waves of heat, pleasure, pain, and Draco. He existed only in a single moment of exquisite sensation. He was the universe, and it was exploding.

Draco felt the bond swell. It slowly took over his mind and vision. Until all there was were throbbing stars of white and red. Harry was gagging and screaming, his body tensed and arched backward. Right before Draco lost control completely, he screamed, “Cum!”, and thunder boomed as they both spurt wetly. Their magic burst outward in a concussive force. The forest shook and the lake’s surface shattered with hundreds of ripples. 

Draco rapidly blinked his eyes. His whole body tingled and throbbed, little zaps of pleasure still firing through his neves. It made him shiver and grin. He pushed himself up, realizing he was on his side facing Harry. His fingers slid out of the boy’s mouth. A quick check downward showed him that Harry’s penis was soft, still swollen and red around the tip. 

Harry was on his side, eyes mostly closed only revealing a sliver of white between his lashes. The bond was hazy with static. Draco smiled soppily and gently untied the boy, rolling him on his back and slowly buttoning his shirt and pants. He caressed Harry’s face with gentle fingertips and butterfly kisses, filled with so much love and contentment that he felt completely melted.

Slowly Harry’s panting and racing heart slowed. His eyelashes fluttered and a groan slid past swollen lips. Draco cuddled the boy, knowing Harry would be sensitive and vulnerable until he recovered fully. Harry leaned against Draco’s side, head resting limply on the blond’s shoulder - peace contentment love. His body throbbed, especially his penis, but he thrilled in it. The soft kisses to his hair and cheeks, the gentle way Draco wiped at his eyes - it made Harry feel loved and so damn grateful. 

“Thank you. Love you,” Harry whispered, voice still weak and raspy.

“I love you,” Draco whispered back, tears in his eyes that mirrored Harry’s. “So much.” 

A sudden howl pierced the night. Draco’s head shot up, his whole body tensing as he went on alert. Suddenly he realized that he’d been able to see Harry quite clearly for a while now. With dread, he looked up to see the moon hanging bright over the mountain ridge. It was full.

“Shit,” he hissed. Draco grabbed their clothes and pulled Harry to his feet. He tossed Harry his glasses. “We got to go back. Now.”

Harry still felt foggy, but adrenaline began to wash his mind clear. Draco shoved his sweater and robe at him. Harry fumbled with his glasses and awkwardly pulled his sweater over his head. Draco pulled him forward and he almost lost his balance. He clutched his school robe in his free hand as he tried to keep up as the blond began to run.

The leaf-strewn ground made each step slippery. Breaking through the trees, they skid slightly, holding on to each other to stay upright. They didn’t make it. A lanky shadow broke free of the tree line a mere hundred feet from them. Golden eyes seemed to glow as they stared directly at them. Inhuman and malevolent, the creature was hunched over and bulky in the shoulders with long limbs. Its hands were more like paws with enormous claws. Its back legs were bent at a dramatic angle, the feet long and strangely jointed. The beast had a snout that fell open to reveal impossibly sharp teeth strung with thick saliva. It was lightly furred with long ears pressed back along its skull.

Draco stood tense, his breath clouding in front of his face as the monster slowly approached. Harry clutched fearfully to one of Draco’s arms, his eyes huge. The werewolf snarled, the lips curling, revealing even more of the long, deadly fangs filling its mouth. It walked on all fours until it was within twenty feet of them. Then it rose up on its hind legs. The boys tipped their heads back as the monster towered over them.

- FEAR -

Draco mentally shook himself. What the hell was wrong with him? He bared his teeth in a ferocious grin, his magic kicking in and swirling out of the depths of his soul. He shook Harry’s grip off his arm and took a menacing step toward the creature. Harry was his! He wouldn’t let anything hurt Harry!

Harry stared at Draco’s back. His heart pounded furiously in his chest. His fists clenched and he lifted his head. He wouldn’t let it hurt Draco! Determined, he felt deep inside himself for his power. It stirred to life and he sent it toward the blond. Protect him, he ordered it. Protect Draco!

The werewolf snarled. Draco yelled with all his might, felt Harry’s magic merge with his own, and a concussive force hit the werewolf in the chest like a truck. The beast was flung through the air. It hit the ground hard, yelped, and tumbled before it rose up onto all fours. Panting, Draco watched as the beast growled and dropped low to the ground. Draco braced himself for the creature to leap at them, but it didn’t move. Draco’s heart began to slow. He stared the werewolf down and blinked when those golden eyes looked away. Still growling, the beast slunk closer, but at an angle so it wasn’t straight on. 

Draco kept his sharp eyes on it, power thrummed in the air around him. The werewolf again stopped twenty feet away, but this time it stayed low. Draco approached the monster. Harry tried to grab at the back of his sweater, but Draco pulled free. The monster snarled and snapped its teeth at the air, but they were nowhere near Draco’s body. Draco smiled grimly and placed his foot on the beast’s throat.

“Hello, Lupin.”

Harry sucked in a startled breath. “Remus?”

The werewolf bit at the ground, growling. It could easily escape, but it didn’t. 

Draco lifted his foot and let the beast go. Lupin scrambled to all fours and trotted a few feet away before settling down on its haunches. Draco suddenly laughed, the tension of the last few minutes bleeding out of him. He spun and grabbed Harry by his shoulders, hugging him close. “Come on. It’s late.”

Keeping a close eye on the werewolf, they walked carefully toward the castle. Predatory golden eyes followed them. When it was clear that it was being left behind, the werewolf tipped its head back and howled. Draco gave Harry a grin and howled back, long and loud. Harry giggled and added his voice to theirs, the three of them howling madly at the moon.

Chapter end.

Chapter Text

Curses

Remus woke to the smell of rich earth and the chirping of birds. Leaves whispered and rustled above his head and he shivered hard as he registered the damp cold against his naked skin. With a gasp, he sat up quickly, his head spinning with the sudden change of position. His joints screamed in agony, but he had long ago learned to ignore it.

He was outside. Last night was the full moon! Why was he outside? He’d never escaped the Shrieking Shack once he’d locked himself up inside it before. It had never failed him! Until now.

Heart hammering with terror, he examined his hands for dried blood and ran his tongue desperately over his teeth. The faint taste of metal came to him and he shuddered, heaving and gasping. Blood! Dear Merlin, there was blood! As he turned to wretch pathetically to the side, he saw the corpse of a labrador-sized spider next to him. It was half eaten. 

Gasping on a sob, Remus began to weep in utter gratitude. He hadn’t hurt anyone! His heart slowed as did his sobs. Sunlight began to filter through the canopy of tree leaves above him and he realized that he was still shivering. 

Sore, aching, and exhausted, Remus managed to get to his cabin without anyone seeing him naked in the woods. The last thing he needed was for people to think he was a pervert and start watching him more closely. He collapsed into bed, but before he passed out he swore he’d figure out why the Shrieking Shack had failed him. He’d figure it out and make sure it never happened again.

Coming back to the castle, the boys had almost been caught by Filch and Mrs. Norris. Draco had ducked behind a knight, pulling Harry into his arms. Ms. Norris had peered around the armored legs, eyes glowing in the dim light, but Draco had opened his mouth in a simulation of a hiss, filling his mind with all the ways he could make her die. She’d laid her ears back before bolting down the hallway as startled cats do. Draco and Harry had to muffle their giggles as Filch had hurried after her.

They’d only gotten about five hours of sleep, but it had been well worth it. Neville hadn’t asked where they’d been last night. Draco kept an eye on him, but he was in too good a mood to worry about the other boy’s suspicions, if he even had any. Instead, he watched fondly as Harry dressed for the day. 

Harry pulled on a pair of black underwear that looked like tiny, skin-tight black shorts, calf-high black silk socks, and a crisp white button-down. Harry’s slender legs were then encased in black slacks and his shirt was tucked in properly. Then Harry sat on the edge of the bed and pulled on a pair of grey two-inch, high-heeled boots. Last, he deftly tied his red and gold necktie with agile fingers before pulling on a grey, cashmere cardigan that had a low-cut v neckline and his school robes. 

“You look lovely,” Draco murmured, smoothing Harry’s hair and causing a faint blush to rise where the rims of Harry’s glasses touched his cheeks. 

Their happy contentment shattered as Draco took a bite of his breakfast and the rancid taste of filth filled his mouth, maggots wiggling against his cheeks and tongue. Eyes wide with shock, he spat out his food onto the table. Hermione and the other girls around them all made horrified sounds. Draco stared down at the partially chewed food. Nothing looked wrong with it. He thought for a moment, mind racing, before he scooped up some eggs. He turned and caught Ron’s wide-eyed stare.

“Taste this.”

“Wha - ” Ron didn’t get out the rest of his question before Draco snapped, “Do it.”

Ron narrowed his eyes in a glare, cheeks flaming red. Dean and Seamus egged the redhead on. The girls were squealing, “What’s wrong with you!” “Ew! Don’t!” Draco maintained his hard stare, utterly serious. 

Scowling, Ron leaned forward and took the bite from Draco’s fork. He immediately gagged and spat it out. “What the bloody hell?” he demanded, horrified. 

Draco’s eyes narrowed. “So it’s not me that was cursed. It’s most likely my plate.”

Everyone looked around suspiciously. They eyed their food. Fred and George shared a glance before taking quick bites. They shrugged and gave Draco the thumbs up. It was fine. The rest followed suit. Only the food on Draco’s plate tasted rancid. Draco scowled and scooped a bite from Harry’s plate. Harry had already pushed it his way in an offer to share. Immediately, he spat it out again as once more the feeling of maggots and the taste of filth overwhelmed him.

“Fuck!” he growled once he’d gagged and spit out the food. He quickly reached for a glass of milk only to spit that out, too. 

Harry felt horrible for giving Draco bad food and lifted his fork to test it before Draco could stop him. His eyes watered as he spat it out. It wasn’t just Draco. The food from his plate tasted bad now, too. “Sorry, Draco…” he whispered sadly. 

Draco was furious. It was one thing to keep him from eating. It was a whole different story to prevent Harry from eating. “Ron, give Harry your plate.” 

“But!” Ron looked more horrified than he had when he’d eaten the bad food.

“Now!” Draco barked, fist hitting the table with a surprisingly loud bang. 

Silence fell around them, the First-years staring wide-eyed at the blond.

Ron sullenly passed Harry his plate. “Here, mate.”

Harry opened his mouth to protest, but the feeling of a hot laser boring into the side of his head made him glance to the side. Furious silver eyes stared at him, waiting for him to disobey. Harry swallowed hard, his heart kicking in his chest, and took Ron’s plate. He ate with his head ducked - ashamed submissive trust

Hermione gave Draco a worried glance. Her frizzy hair was pulled back in a low, tight ponytail and still a few flyaways had escaped to fall around her face. “What do you think happened?”

Ron forced Fred to share his breakfast plate with him. “It’s probably just a prank.”

“Focused on me and anyone who helps me.” Draco shoved his plate away and braced his elbow on the table, leaning his cheek against it. His other hand rested where his wand pocket was located. “I suspect our friendly Gryffindor bullies.”

“Or the Slytherins,” Dean muttered. He was sitting on the other side of the table and was glaring behind them at the table of green and silver.

“They would have targeted Harry, too,” Seamus disagreed. “Harry’s food was fine until Draco tried to eat off his plate.”

Dean shook his head hard. “You saw what happened to Pucey for attacking Harry. They won’t go after Harry directly again.”

“We don’t know anything for sure,” Hermione interjected firmly. “It’s useless to speculate. We need to investigate and get hard evidence.”

“How’s your leg?” Draco asked suddenly. He studied her face, looking for evidence of pain.

Hermione met his eyes easily. “It’s fine.” She looked down at the cane leaning beside her on the other side of the bench. “I’ll have to use this for a week or two, but I’ll make a full recovery.” She looked up at Ron and Harry across from her. She gave them a small smile. “I could’ve been hurt way worse. Thank you for coming when you did.”

Harry and Ron both blushed. Ron muttering, “It was nothing.”

“Neville and I have a pass to be tardy to classes because of my leg,” she continued. “But McGonagall warned me that no one else is excused, so don’t wait for us.”

Draco nodded. He took Harry’s hand as he stood. “Come on, guys.” He gave Neville a meaningful glance. “Be careful.”

Neville nodded, face pale but set. He wasn’t going to let anything happen to Hermione.

It was Saturday, November 2nd, so their first class of the day was their Potions Practical with the Slytherins. Draco was already in a bad mood, but it darkened further the closer they got to Snape’s classroom. Aggression pumped through his veins. His fingers turned white as he gripped the strap of the school bag that he wore across his chest.

“Here, Draco,” Harry said softly - worry concern.

Draco’s neck felt stiff as he turned it to see his boy. Harry had a red apple offered on his palm. Draco felt his shoulders relax as he looked past the fruit into Harry’s gentle green eyes. A rush of warmth softened his expression. “Thank you.” It tasted delicious and he ate it happily, filled with Harry’s - love.

Draco could hardly focus on his potion; he was too busy watching Snape through the curtain of his bangs. He chopped and prepped what Harry told him to, but he mostly left the brewing up to his boy. He couldn’t seem to take his eyes off Snape. Every time he looked down to help brew, he’d get a crawling sensation along the back of his neck and an overwhelming sense of paranoia would make him snap his eyes back up to see where Snape was in the room and see what he was doing. 

There were all these dangerous ingredients around. Anything could happen and Snape could easily make it look like an accident. The burn scar on his back itched at the thought, making Draco want to lower his head and growl warningly at the man. He didn’t of course. It would give too much away. He settled for watching Snape like a hawk. By the time class was over, they’d produced a mediocre potion and Draco’s neck cracked from tension as he rolled his shoulders.

“Sorry, Draco. I’ll do better next time,” Harry murmured - disappointment self-hate.

Draco cut his eyes toward his boy.

Ron looped his arm over Harry’s shoulders. “Don’t worry about it, mate,” he said cheerfully. “Seamus’s cauldron puffed black smoke! Did you see?” He laughed. “An A from Snape is as good as an O! Especially when he grades Gryffindors.”

Ron’s kind words only made Harry more miserable. Now he felt - guilty - on top of inadequate. He didn’t deserve kindness right now. 

Draco pinched the back of Harry’s arm sharp enough to bruise. Harry sucked in a quiet breath at the painful sting but otherwise showed no other reaction. “You need to study with Neville tonight.”

Hermione didn’t see the pinch, but she heard the comment and scowled, unconsciously picking up her pace to try and keep up with the infuriating blond. “Ron’s right. Harry’s potion and Neville’s were the second and third best potions! And I do mean Harry’s potion. He might as well have been working alone with as much help as you offered! So you have no room to complain about the grade!” She tried to come off sharp, but she was breathless by this point and her leg was beginning to hurt.

Draco slowed down to meet her pace. He tucked half his bangs behind an ear, the rest still falling softly around his face as he walked. A single eyebrow lifted as he regarded her with a cool look. “That potion didn’t really require two brewers. Snape only pairs us because there aren’t enough stations. I notice you didn’t accept much help from Ron either and yet you got an E.”

She opened her mouth to argue back, but Draco slashed his hand out in a cutting gesture. The look on his face hardened into something more intimidating that made her hesitate. 

“I don’t like you thinking Harry isn’t as capable as you are. You’re brilliant, Hermione. Your memory is better than anyone else’s I know, but Harry is brilliant, too. He’s perfectly able to get E’s and O's.”

- doubt happiness - Harry blushed a pretty pink. “Draco, I…”

Draco’s intense eyes settled on Harry. He stopped walking, forcing the others to stop with him. They stood in a main corridor, so other students muttered in annoyance as they had to walk around their group. Draco didn’t care. He only had eyes for Harry. “You’re perfectly capable of getting E’s and O’s,” he repeated. “I want you to write down what you could have done better today in Potions and copy the recipe three times before going to bed.”

- gratitude unworthiness - Harry teared up and hugged Draco. “Yes, Draco.”

Draco held him, one hand cradling the back of Harry’s head, as his eyes shifted to Hermione. The girl was watching them with a slightly cocked head, a frown of confusion on her face. Taking Harry’s hand, Draco resumed walking. They were going to be late at this point, so they might as well keep their pace to Hermione’s. If Ron cared about the slow pace, he didn’t mention it. They had just reached the first floor when Draco suddenly went sprawling. It felt like wire had hooked his ankle. He fell hard, jamming his wrists as the heel of his hands absorbed most of the impact. His jaw also hit the floor, snapping his teeth painfully closed. It was sheer luck he hadn’t bitten off the tip of his tongue.

“Draco!” Harry cried, crouching beside him.

Neville grabbed Hermione as the girl teetered, almost tripping over Draco’s sprawled form.

“Who the bloody hell did that?” Ron bellowed at the milling students around them.

“Ron,” Hermione murmured warningly.

Several dozen students were near them, all in different Houses and years. Some looked at them curiously, some were laughing, but it wasn’t the kind of laugh that made them seem guilty just immature. 

Heart pounding with adrenaline, Draco pushed himself up so that he was kneeling, pain throbbing through his senses. “Rahl?” he demanded.

“Don’t see ‘em,” Ron answered, glowering at the crowd.

Draco climbed to his feet with some help from Harry. His jaw and hands throbbed hotly, but he wasn’t bleeding. “Come on,” he said quietly and walked stiffly out the doors to the greenhouses.

They were all on alert as they walked to lunch after Herbology, but Draco was left alone. They all breathed a sigh of relief only to tense up again when Draco still couldn’t eat. Harry tried to keep things light and the conversation flowing, knowing Draco wouldn’t want attention right now, but it was hard. Draco was the only one sitting at the table not eating. It made Harry’s stomach clinch. The memory of the Dursleys and cowering on the floor hovered behind his eyes. He ate half of what he normally would and only ate that much because Draco glared at him when he stopped. If anyone was underserving of food, it was Harry not Draco!

“Let’s go study by the lake,” Hermione suggested as lunch came to a close. It would be nice to get out of the castle and away from whoever was cursing Draco. Maybe they could relax. 

Harry, Neville, and Ron all agreed solemnly. They had all snuck food into their bag, so once they were settled on the grassy bank of the lake, they pulled out their offerings for the blond. Draco gave them a closed-mouth smile, eyes soft. “Thank you.” He ate the bread, cheese, and fruit as he worked with Ron on the Transfiguration essays due next period. Neville, Harry, and Hermione worked on Potions, having already finished their essays.

It was a beautiful day. The breeze was cool, but the sun was warm. The smell of fall was in the air, the lake sparkling before them. Soon all the stress from the day disappeared and they lounged, relaxed and happy as they studied, but they hadn’t forgotten. As they made their way back inside the castle, they surrounded Draco, hoping to protect him from further attacks. It didn’t work. They were just climbing the staircase toward the second floor when Draco’s bag ripped open and all of his notebooks, pens, and textbooks went flying. 

Harry, Neville, and Ron scrambled for Draco’s things while the blond stood rooted in place. The stairs were filled with students. They were laughing at him. Some were even annoyed for him being in the way, purposefully kicking or stepping on his things. Cruelty shone in their eyes and rejection. Hermione wrapped her fingers around his wrist and held on tight, her chin tilted up defiantly.

The boys finished gathering his things, Ron having angrily cussed out several people who got in his way or laughed at him. Hermione repaired the tear in Draco’s bag, warning him it would only hold temporarily. They were putting everything back inside it when a Stinging Hex hit Draco’s hand, clipping Hermione’s. She gasped at the pain and flinched back, dropping Draco’s textbook. Her eyes stung from the sharp sting and she stared wide-eyed at Draco who merely looked annoyed. The blond picked up the book she had dropped and shoved it into his bag, glaring at the students who pushed past them.

“Hurry it up! You’re in the way,” snapped an older Ravenclaw.

Draco grit his teeth, took Harry’s hand, and continued up the stairs with the rest of them following. Harry didn’t duck his head as he normally would. His head was up, his eyes attentive as he watched their surroundings. They were late to Transfiguration. McGonagall assigned Draco, Harry, and Ron detentions, scolding Hermione sharply for not taking their warnings seriously.

“Only you and your brother have tardy passes, Miss Pleasant. Do remind your friends of that next time.”

Hermione tired to protest, but Draco squeezed her hand warningly.

“I don’t understand why you didn’t say anything,” Hermione snapped, frustrated. Her cane hit the floor more loudly than it did normally, a sharp click with every step as they made their way to dinner after class. Ron had asked Dean and Seamus to walk at their slower pace while the rest of their class went on ahead. The more help they had guarding Draco the better at this point.

“What can they do about it? We were looking out for something like that and even we didn’t see who did it,” Draco answered lowly, eyes scanning the kids around them. “There’s no point in telling them.”

As if to prove his point, Draco went sprawling in the Entrance Hall. Harry had grabbed the back of his robes as Draco fell, but he wasn’t strong enough to catch him. Instead, he was pulled down on top of the blond. Draco grunted at Harry’s added weight. 

Scrambling off of him, Harry knelt by his side - anger self-hate. “Sorry, Draco,” he said, voice thick. It was his job to take care of Draco and he was failing!

“I’m fine,” Draco bit out. He climbed to his feet for the second time that day. His wrist and knees throbbed. His jaw still ached from the first time. He was getting seriously pissed off.

“What the hell is their problem?” Ron demanded loudly. 

“Hush,” Hermione tired to quiet him, but the redhead wouldn’t simmer down.

“Draco’s done nothing wrong!”

“I heard a few people talking,” Dean offered. He shared a glance with Seamus. “Some of the upper Years. They were talking about Draco being behind the troll getting in. Said it was some Malfoy plot to get rid of Muggleborns. That Draco’s only pretending to be a Gryffindor so he’s not suspected.”

“I knew it was Rahl,” Draco growled, eyes glinting. “Only he’d come up with something that stupid.”

“Even if that’s where it started, it’s gone beyond him now,” Seamus cautioned, Irish accent softening his words. “There’s a lot of people who feel that way.”

“That’s bullying!” Hermione protested hotly. “We have to tell the professors!”

“If there’s so many people, it’s hard to tell who’s doing it,” Dean said unsurely. “What are they going to do?”

“There has to be something!” Hermione exclaimed. “We have to try!”

They took their seats at their table. Draco didn’t even bother trying to reach for the food. It didn’t matter though. Ron spat out his food with gagging sounds, followed closely by Dean. Draco scowled furiously, grabbed his bag and stood. Apparently, he wasn’t allowed to sit with them.

“Where are you going?” Hermione asked softly, worried.

Draco noticed the twins and Percy had similar expressions. “I’m going to study. It would be a better use of my time. Come on, Harry.”

Harry immediately stood, - grateful - Draco was taking him along with him. 

The others didn’t know what to say and let the pair walk off. As soon as Draco was out of the room, their food became edible again. The message was clear: being friends with Draco came with a cost.

Draco took Harry straight to the kitchens. He was not going to let Harry miss meals, so they would just have to eat by themselves until Draco put a stop to this. He followed the directions he’d memorized from Dora and soon found himself in front of a painting with a bowl of fruit. Tickling the pear, it swung open to a vast room with large islands, tons of counter space, fireplaces, and working elves. 

Harry took over, speaking kindly to the two elves who turned to see what they needed. In less than five minutes, they were sat at a small wooden table off to the side by one of the fires with two stools and a large spread of food. It tasted delicious, confirming Draco’s suspicion that it was the plates and/or utensils in the Great Hall that were cursed not the food itself.

Harry ate the food placed in front of him with no hope that they’d be able to actually eat it all. The elves worked quietly, but there was still a nice background hum of conversation and activity. The fire warmed him nicely, too, and he shed his robe and sweater. He looked over at Draco with a smile, feeling relaxed for the first time since the lake. 

Draco felt as if things were just slightly tilted. He could see Harry, feel the peaceful feelings softly whispering through the bond, see his boy’s sweet smile, but it felt at a distance. Behind glass. Loudest in his ears was the slow, hard beats of his heart. His knees and skinned palms began to burn, the echo of everyone’s laughter began to rise in his ears, distorted and wavering as if he were standing on a stage with a whole stadium filled with people laughing, laughing, laughing while he slowly bled. 

Harry froze - anxiety worry - spiking through his system. Draco stared right through him. His face was utterly expressionless. Like he were a doll. No, worse, as if he were dead. Was he breathing? “Draco!” - terror - Harry reached for his arm.

Draco blinked. The strange sensation fell away. He blinked again and actually focused on his boy’s frightened face. “What?”

Harry sat there, heart pounding in fear. “You… Are you okay?” he asked in an unsteady whisper.

Draco gave him an easy smile. “Got a few bruises, but I’m fine. You can heal me when we take a shower later, okay?” He saw that Harry’s hand was almost touching his arm, hesitating. He smiled again and caught Harry’s fingers in his own, linking them and letting them rest together on the table. “Don’t worry, Harry. I’ll make sure these attacks stop soon,” he promised.

Harry stared intently at Draco’s face. He took in the soft expression, the light in Draco’s grey eyes, the gentle smile. He was Draco again. “You… You looked… bad,” he said in frustration. He didn’t have the words to describe the utterly dead expression on Draco’s face. “Like you couldn’t see me…”

Draco frowned. His first impulse was to blow Harry off and that made him pause. He would never blow Harry off! Had he felt weird a minute ago? He couldn’t remember, but Harry’s alarm still jangled inside him. “Okay,” he said slowly. “I feel fine now, though.” 

Harry gave an unsure nod. Slowly his anxiety bled away and his heart rate returned to normal, but he was still worried. Something had happened to Draco and it had been utterly terrifying. 

That night at detention McGonagall had Ron, Draco, and Harry write an essay regarding the importance of punctuality. She gave them an essay frame for them to use, briefly discussing with them the parts of an essay and the purpose of each. It was good practice even if the topic was shit and the detention unjust. Draco was exhausted by the time they made it back to the Tower. He pulled Harry into a shower stall and sat on a low seat while Harry knelt and sucked at his knees and palms, the warmth of sunshine and wholeness filling Draco with light. Harry had then stood and bent forward to lick and suck at Draco’s bruising jaw, the colors bleaching away under his touch. They washed quickly, Draco nearly falling asleep in the shower. 

Sitting against the headboard, Harry stared down at the blond - worried. Draco was sound asleep almost as soon as his head touched the pillow. He looked fine, even peaceful, his mouth slightly parted as he breathed in and out, his damp hair fanned out along the pillow, his long pale lashes resting on his cheeks, but the feeling of something wrong nagged at him. 

“It’s been a long day,” Neville’s voice said softly. Harry hadn’t shut the curtains around their bed yet, the lamps still burning. “It makes sense he’s tired.”

“You’re right. Good night, Neville,” he offered with a forced smile, accepting the boy’s softly whispered, “Night,” in return. 

He blew out his lamp and pulled the curtains closed. He slid down, curling around Draco and resting his hand on the blond’s chest, feeling for each breath and heartbeat. It had been stressful, he wouldn’t deny that, but when they had bad days, Draco became alert and watchful not sleepy like this. Harry stayed awake for an hour or more, just watching over the blond, but Draco never moved or shifted, practically dead to the world. When sleep came, Harry rested fitfully, waking up several times in the night just to check that Draco was still there.

Lucius waited for Narcissa to fall deeply asleep before creeping out of bed and entering his study. He unspelled the warded drawer on the right and lifted the diary free. Quill in hand, he wrote his warning: Things are happening at Hogwarts. I will be taking steps to safeguard my children soon

They had received the owl earlier that day informing them of the troll incident at school. It came with Dumbledore’s reassurances that it had been handled swiftly and that the children were safe, but Lucius was still displeased. Too many times his son and ward had been put in danger already that year, he didn’t like the trend he was seeing.

There was a longer pause than normal before Tom’s beautiful script bloomed across the page. I see. You feel I’d be an added liability should my older incarnation successfully complete a ritual of rebirth. 

Lucius held his breath, but he wrote nothing. He felt poised over a precipice. It was unexpected and alarming. Why had he written at all? He should destroy the diary immediately and weaken the Dark Lord’s path back from the dead… Except it would be useless as long as Harry existed, anchoring the Dark Lord’s soul to earth. 

Perhaps you should think about it from another angle. I could be an advantage, Lucius. I must admit I am not happy with the reports you bring of my future self’s actions. I had not taken Herpo’s warnings seriously. I merely thought he lacked mental fortitude, but your testimony has made me reconsider. If you help me, Lucius, I can help you destroy this failed incarnation of myself and together we can rise in power and make our dreams a reality. We can change the world, Lucius. Make it what it once was again. Now that we know what to protect against, we can insure my sanity does not wane. Harry is safe from me. After all, why would I destroy my own Horcrux? And if I am no longer a threat to Harry, Draco should no longer be a threat to me. We can make it work, Lucius. Together, nothing would be impossible.

Lucius slammed the diary shut, breathing hard. With a shove, he pushed away from his desk and paced to the other side of the room. Tom was very persuasive and a large part of Lucius liked what the brilliant teen had to say. Lucius deliberately turned his back and left the room, leaving the diary to sit alone in the dark. He had a lot to think on.

Draco was tripped in the halls several times a day. His school bag continued to rip open, spilling his things everywhere. While he was going to the bathroom in between classes, the toilet had exploded up at him, splashing him with filthy water. He’d missed his next class because of that to go get cleaned up, but fortunately it was History of Magic and Binns didn’t really care or notice.

Draco was frustrated beyond belief! Dean and Seamus were right. It was more than just Rahl and his group. A lot of the time, they were never around when something happened to Draco. Their vicious rumors had done their job and now a good portion of Gryffindor and upper-Years from other Houses were targeting Draco because he was supposedly some traitorous snake. If Draco retaliated or attacked Rahl, it would only justify their abuse and make them attack him more.

The First-year boys and Hermione did their best to shield Draco, and Draco and Harry did their best to make Draco less of a target - using side passages, avoiding crowds as much as possible, eating in the kitchens - but they couldn’t prevent all of the attacks. It made Harry feel so useless. It was his job to take care of Draco! Draco was important and always working on important things. Harry’s job was to support him, and he was failing miserably!

Harry opened his eyes. It was almost pitch black inside the curtains of their bed. Low-level anxiety that never left him and a sense that something wasn’t right made him immediately reach out for Draco, but this time his fears were justified. Draco wasn’t next to him. Heart thundering in his throat, Harry shakily pulled the curtain open and turned the knob on the bedside lamp. A flame jumped to life, casting light over the bed. Draco was sitting on the far edge, his back to Harry. Harry’s heart plummeted as the blond remained perfectly still, unaffected by his - fear - and the light. 

“Draco?” he whispered. 

He crawled slowly over, craning his head to get a look at Draco’s face. As if in slow motion, Draco’s profile came into view, the curve his cheek and jaw. Already something didn’t look right, but it was as if Harry wasn’t registering what he was seeing right away. He continued forward, stomach clenched and hands trembling, seeing now that Draco’s mouth was hanging open. His lips stretched tight in the shape of an oval; it looked like he was screaming. Draco’s eyes were open and unblinking, the pupils small. 

“Draco!” Harry rasped, - terrified. He flung himself at the blond, hands on his shoulders, shaking him lightly, but he was so stiff. He hardly moved under his hands. Red appeared at Draco’s nose, horrifically bright against Draco’s white skin. It rolled slowly down over his lip. 

Magic swirled out from Harry, hitting Draco with more force than normal, fueled by his - desperate terror. Draco’s back arched, his whole body going rigid as if he was being electrocuted. Harry cried out, stopping his magic, afraid he was somehow hurting Draco more, but Draco merely fell limp on the bed, eyes blinking as he moaned softly. 

“Harry, wha time’s it?” he slurred.

Heart hammering in his chest, tears soaking his cheeks, Harry gently stroked Draco’s hair from his face. His hand shook. “Draco…” He swallowed past a painful lump in his throat. “Draco, are you okay?”

Draco captured his trembling hand and sat up. His nose had stopped bleeding, but red was still smeared across his upper lip. “What’s the matter?” he asked, eyes growing more alert as he frowned at Harry. Through his tears, Harry dutifully described what had happened. Draco pulled him against his side and stroked his hair soothingly, rocking Harry softly. “Shhh, it’s okay. You woke me up. You did so good, Harry.”

Slowly Harry’s shaking stopped. Draco kissed his head, his temple, his cheek. He pulled Harry back up the bed and they laid down next to each other. Draco peppered his face with kisses, licking the salt from his tears off his skin. Harry melted under his gentle care, but his - anxiety - didn’t fade completely.

“I’m fine,” Draco murmured reassuringly. “I’ll go see Pomfrey before the game, promise. Rest, Harry. Whatever happened, I’m fine now. I’m sure it’s just another stupid curse. I’m sorry it scared you.”

Harry let Draco’s voice wash around him as his eyes fluttered closed in exhaustion. 

They were in the Gryffindor locker room. The team was pulling on their uniforms: red and gold half-robes, black riding pants and matching knee-high, black boots. They were charmed with protective and cushioning spells to offers some protection against injury. Harry wore the number seven on his back; Draco wore the number fourteen since he was reserve Seeker.

Draco held Harry’s face in his hands, his grin nearly as bright as his eyes. “Do your best out there, Harry.”

Harry leaned into Draco’s touch, his mind was still on last night. The image of Draco’s mouth shaped in a soundless scream, the color red rolling down from his nose, eyes wide and empty…

“Harry.”

Harry blinked green eyes behind round, black glasses and stared into Draco’s commanding gaze.

“You’re about to play your first match. Lucius and Narcissa, Andy and Ted… They’re all out there. I want you to show them how strong you’ve become. That means you gotta focus. Pomfrey said I’m fine. It was probably just stress. You gotta trust me.”

“Yes, Draco. Sorry,” Harry murmured and brought his whole attention back to the moment. “I’ll catch the snitch for you,” he promised.

“Be careful. Remember you’re playing Slytherin,” Draco advised. “They play dirty.”

Harry nodded.

“Alright, team! Huddle up!” Oliver called, breaking the moment between the two First-year boys. 

Harry felt a small pang of loss as Draco released his face and took a step back, but the slow, sweet smile that Draco sent his way in response made Harry’s heart melt and his fears shrink. 

Oliver was clearly excited and nervous as hell; this was the first game as Captain. He gave a long speech about winning and then they were running out of the tunnel and into the bright November day. It was cold, and Harry smiled in thanks when Fred and George cast warming charms on him. He looked through the stands, searching for his family, but it was Draco who found them first and pointed them out. Harry gave a wave, cheeks red with embarrassment.

Ted and Andromeda waved back happily; Lucius and Narcissa regally bowed their heads. Other parents and a few fans from Hogsmeade also filled the spectating stands along with most of the school’s teachers. Remus wasn’t there; he was likely babysitting Dee. The rest of the stands were filled with what seemed like the entire school. Draco and the two other reserve players moved to sit on the bench, clapping and cheering. 

The whistle blew and Harry shot up into the sky, higher than the other players. The Slytherin Seeker copied him. Harry kept him in sight, but he turned most of his attention toward the pitch, searching for a glint of gold in the sunlight. Within ten minutes, Angelina scored the first goal, causing the crowds to cheer madly. Slytherin scored, Gryffindor again… Harry saw the Snitch! He angled his broom - a brand-new Nimbus 2000, a gift from Narcissa and Lucius that had arrived that morning - toward the ground and shot forward. Higgs was several feet behind him. 

The cold wind rushed past his face, whipping his hair about, but before Harry could get too close, a Slytherin player blocked his path, nearly making Harry crash into him. Harry barely had time to veer away and lost sight of the snitch in the process. Madam Hooch called foul and awarded a penalty, which Alicia scored much to the crowd’s delight. Harry zoomed back up to a higher perch and scanned the arena again for the snitch.

Draco basked in the - excitement determination - that beat like a second heart through the bond. Harry was having fun. He had to admit the game was fun to watch, even though the point system still made no sense to him. He rubbed his hands together and blew into them, his nose red from the cold. The game was about forty minutes in. Suddenly - surprise fear - spiked through the bond and Draco whipped his eyes up to see the boy barely holding on to a broom that was jerking one way and then the other. Jinx, line of sight, the knowledge rose through his adrenaline-soaked mind. 

“Grab the banner!” he barked at the reserved player next to him. He grabbed one end himself, took his broom in hand, and practically growled when the other boy was being slow about it. He looked like he wanted to ask questions, but Draco ordered in a cold, dangerous voice. “Move it.” 

Following Draco’s lead and confused as hell, they rocketed up toward the spectator’s box. Draco’s eyes immediately zoomed in on Snape as if pulled by a magnetic force. The man had his eyes on the pitch, his mouth moving. Draco flew as close as he was allowed and barked at the other boy to pull the banner tight. Snape’s line of sight was broken by the bright red material with Gryffindor written in huge gold letters. He gave Draco a furious look, eyes dark as pitch. Draco glared back, baring his teeth. He turned his head to see Harry’s broom had stabilized, the jinx had been broken. 

A wild cheer went up as Harry spat out the snitch into his hand. Draco whipped his head around and gave Snape a triumphant grin, victory making him feel high. He gave a whoop and released the banner, letting it flutter toward the ground, as he flew over to his boy.

* Good job, Harry! Good boy! *

- pride shock - flooded the bond and Draco kissed Harry’s cheek.

The whole of the Gryffindor team was only a second behind him, crashing into them and forming a massive crush in the air. Oliver was crying, he was so happy. The twins thought it was hysterical that Harry had accidentally caught the snitch in his mouth. They were laughing historically as they slapped Harry’s back.

They had won 170-60. Flint threw a fit, calling foul, but Madam Hooch judged the incident fair play - Draco had never entered the pitch after all and whatever had happened to Harry’s broom had righted itself in less than a minute. Everyone attributed the weird moment with Harry’s broom to him losing control of the powerful instrument; he was only a First-year after all. Harry and Draco knew better, but they were too excited about the win to worry about it right then.

Severus eyed the people sitting nearest him in the stands suspiciously. Whoever had been jinxing the broom had stopped when Draco had flown up to block his view, so they had to be close. For a moment, he’d felt heart stopping fury, terrified that without his counter-jinx Harry would be flung from the broom and gravely injured, but Draco’s obnoxious move had miraculously still saved the boy. 

Severus caught Dumbledore’s eye and gave him a subtle gesture before standing in a swirl of black robes. Face perfectly blank, Severus turned and practically flew from the stands.

“The boys will be celebrating with their friends. Let’s not disturb them,” Lucius said softly, but it was clear he wasn’t happy. Narcissa was practically clawing into his arm, but even she had to admit this wasn’t the time.

So rarely did they see Draco and Harry so carefree and overjoyed as they were, caught in the middle of their cheering team. Besides, Draco had successfully put a stop to whatever had effected Harry’s broom. Maybe it wasn’t anything ominous; perhaps it had been a tasteless prank or some Slytherin sabotage. The boys had things in hand. For now. 

“Why don’t we speak to the Headmaster before we leave,” he suggested. 

Narcissa nodded, worry evident in her eyes. Andromeda and Ted agreed immediately. Andromeda looked dangerous, reminding Lucius she was a black, and even Ted looked determined. Lucius gave them a sharp, approving smile before he led them through the crowd to the Headmaster’s side.

“Headmaster Dumbledore,” he said with mock gentleness. “May we have a word?”

Severus paced across the Headmaster’s office, waiting for Dumbledore to appear. He knew the Headmaster had to bid farewell to the guests who had come to watch the match, but he was anxious and worried. It took nearly an hour before Dumbledore finally arrived. “Things are getting too dangerous,” he said lowly once the Headmaster sat tiredly in the seat behind his desk. “Something is affecting Draco. I suspect a mind spell from the symptoms the boys described to Pomfrey this morning. He needs to be seen by a Mind-Healer.”

Dumbledore stared across at Severus unhappily. “I’m still working on getting Nicholas to agree to destroy the stone, but he still isn’t ready yet. It wasn’t safe even in Gringotts. There is no other place for it. We certainly cannot allow Voldemort to gain possession of it or the Dark Lord will be resurrected in less than a year. The boys aren’t ready to face that battle yet.” He sat back and took his glasses off, rubbing at his eyes tiredly. “As for young Draco, we cannot seek a Master Healer. Not just yet. Not until the issue regarding the stone is resolved. The boys’ guardians are already threatening to remove the boys completely. We have to think of the bigger picture.”

Severus practically snarled. “That may not be the worst idea! The children are in danger, Headmaster! All of them! Draco has been attacked! Harry was attacked just now on the pitch! The traitor grows bold!”

“There is no evidence to suggest that Harry was attacked by our traitor, Severus. Perhaps it was a prank. Draco is unfortunately being targeted by the students and that has spilled over onto Harry. We need to devise a plan to turn popular opinion back into Draco’s favor.”

“Draco has been injured!” Severus protested furiously. “He needs treatment!”

Dumbledore closed his eyes for a moment before opening them. “Poppy assures me the boys are perfectly healthy. We only have your suspicions that he’s been attacked.”

Severus was too angry to be polite or humor the old man’s willfully blind outlook. “There are many mind-spells that do not show up on a healing scan. That’s why the excuse of the Imperius was so successful in getting people out of trouble during the war. It is undetectable.”

“Then a Mind Healer’s treatment would likewise be uncertain,” Dumbledore pointed out. “If your suspicions are correct, then we are too late to help young Draco. We must protect the stone until I can settle things with Nicholas. That takes precedence before all else. Likewise, the boys need to be here, Severus. If they isolate themselves, they will have fewer allies in the war to come. The future depends on them succeeding here.”

Severus refused to accept this was the only way. He gave the Headmaster a disappointed look before slamming the door behind him.

Dumbledore seemed to wilt, a tired sigh rising from his lips. Fawkes flew over to his desk and began to sing, but even the phoenix’s song couldn’t sooth him completely.

Chapter end.

Chapter Text

A/N: Happy belated Halloween and sorry for the very late chapter. The chapter was giving me a lot of trouble. I really wanted the atmosphere to be right. Please let me know what you think of it!

Darkness Closing In

Minerva couldn’t sleep. The castle was dark and cold, winter fast approaching. Moonlight illuminated her tired face in intermittent bursts as she passed windows filled with crystal clear panes of glass. Her slippers shushed along the stone floors. A single source of warmth was caught in her hand, a small flickering candle held chest high. 

Her slow, meandering journey brought her to a stone guardian. Shadows thrown by her candle made the avian face appear harsh and impassive. “Cockroach clusters,” she whispered, half-certain she was speaking nonsense and the gargoyle would refuse to move.

Instead, the eagle head seemed to nod as it took a step back, revealing the stone steps it guarded. Minerva climbed. There was nothin else to be done, really. She climbed seeking answers and reassurance, seeking peace so that she could sleep.

Albus stepped out onto the balcony that led to his personal quarters wearing a plain white dressing robe. His hair was loose as it fell down his back, his beard braided so as not to tangle in his sleep. Without a word of greeting or question, he stepped down to meet her in his office. His hands were warm as they gently took hers. She looked down at them. They were knotted and slender, but they still possessed a steady strength. This man had seen terrible things, but he still clung to beliefs as bright and glorious as the sun. 

“What is bothering you, dear friend?” he finally asked.

Already most of her worries seemed to fade. “The boys, of course.”

“The bullying?” he asked softly.

“It is hard to catch the culprits in the act no matter how closely we watch. The attacks are subtle and unrelenting. It is certainly not the work of only a few students.” She looked up at him in entreaty. “Are you certain turning a blind eye is the right decision? I hate that I had to give him detention for tardiness.”

“We are teachers, Minerva.” Albus drew her over to the fireplace and conjured soft chairs. “It is crucial for Draco learn to ask for help. Once he does, we can cast wards on his person that will repel the simple jinxes and hexes that plague him in the hallways. However, you know that wouldn’t be a true solution. It would only drive the other students to more creative lengths to make him miserable. The problem is the students’ perception of him. We must somehow change their rejection into acceptance.”

“How?” she demanded desperately. She hated to see any child suffer but maybe especially those two. Her soul ached with the knowledge of how much they had already been hurt and the difficult trials that awaited him.

Albus gave her a bright smile. “I’ve been thinking on just that thing, Minerva. I’ll give the boys a little more time, to either reach out for help or solve their problem themselves, but if that doesn’t work, what we need is to create an environment where Draco’s more virtuous and admirable qualities shine. In short, he needs to be seen as the hero.”

Minerva couldn’t help smiling back even as her stomach fluttered with nerves. What exactly was Albus planning?

Cold fog shrouded the ground, glowing faintly with moonlight. Twinning and snaking around the ominous shapes of trees, it smothered all sound. Barely a faint hissing of leaves could be heard. Chillingly empty, dangerous… 

Out of the darkness something white coming closer… At first Harry thought it was a ghost and he gasped, scared… A horse made of pure light, standing on its back legs, nose reaching skyward, front feet kicking… Beautiful until he realized it was frothing at the mouth in terror, square blunt teeth bared, eyes rolling… A shrill scream of pain shattered the eerie silence… Sending his heart rocketing against his ribs. His whole body shook at the sound. He wanted to run far, far away… 

Blood spilled and splashed, drenching the white of its coat… that was horrifically fading to a dirty, corpse grey. The dying, terrified creature fell, heavy. The thump was felt in Harry’s bones. It seemed to look right into him as the light faded from its beautiful grey eyes…

Harry screamed! He fought the blankets, trying to sit up, to stand, to move. He screamed again, tears drenching his face. Light spilled over him as his curtains were pulled aside. Neville, wide-eyed and hair mussed, grabbed his shoulder.

“Harry…” he called, voice shaking. “Harry?”

Harry turned and grabbed onto his arm desperately. His heart felt like it would pound straight out of his chest. He could almost still feel the blood, slick and terribly hot against his lips and cheeks, coating his chin. 

Neville pulled Harry against his side, calm now that he realized it was just a nightmare. He stroked the trembling boy’s back, speaking softly, promising that it was just a dream, everything was fine.

Slowly, Harry’s heart stopped trying to break out of his ribs and he could breathe again. Wiping the tears from his face, he turned to the side, confused. “Draco?”

The other side of the bed was empty.

Harry’s stomach seemed to leap into his throat. The nightmare vanished from his mind as terrified urgency took its place. “Where’s Draco?” he demanded, staring up at Neville with wide-eyes.

Neville frowned. “I don’t know. He wasn’t here when you woke me up.”

Harry scrambled from the bed. He didn’t bother with a robe or slippers. Wearing only the long white t-shirt he slept in, he ran from the room. He checked the bathroom first. The lights slowly flickered to life, triggered by his presence. He checked every stall, but the room was empty. Harry ran back past Neville standing frightened in their dorm room doorway. He ignored Neville’s call of his name and practically flew down the stairs into the common room. 

The room was a mess of shadows. The fire burning low, casting a dull orange-red light. Harry froze, breath caught in his throat. Standing almost dead center in the room, back toward Harry, was Draco’s silhouette. 

Bile rose in the back of Harry’s throat. The white blond hair, the pale skin and bright white shirt - the figure of the white horse in his dreams - splashed with blood and dying - Gasping, struggling to breathe through a constricted throat, Harry took careful steps forward. His fingers trembled as his arm lifted, reaching. 

“Draco?” he whispered. 

Draco stood perfectly still. In the low light, it almost made Harry second-guess himself. “Draco?” he called a little louder, frightened. His fingertips brushed Draco’s shoulder. 

Draco’s head too-slowly turned, only his head. As if in slow motion, Harry saw his mouth gaping open impossibly wide, eyes blank and unblinking, blood oozing from his nose. 

Harry’s hand clenched around Draco’s shoulder in reaction, yanking the boy off balance. “Draco!”

Draco stumbled and fell to his knees. His mouth shut as life animated his face, his eyes blinking rapidly. Voice dry and hoarse, he looked up at Harry and said almost in a daze, “What time’s it?”

Harry fell to his knees and flung his arms around Draco’s neck. He shuddered as hot blood dripped onto his shoulder.

“Hey,” Draco rasped. He held Harry to him, frowning at the way the smaller boy shook in his arms. “What’s wrong? Why are we in the common room?”

Harry haltingly told him about the dream, about Draco being missing, about finding him standing down here. Draco listened, stroking his hair and rubbing his back. His frown deepened. It was getting worse - these nighttime attacks of his. It wasn’t every night, but it was often enough that Draco was beginning to grow concerned. 

“I’m going to figure this out, Harry,” he promised in a warm whisper. His hand gently fisted the boy’s hair, lifted his head. He looked into Harry’s eyes. - Fear anxiety - flowed thick and heavy as syrup through the bond. “I’m going to fix this.”

Harry’s shoulders relaxed. The tears that had yet to fall finally spilled down pale cheeks - trust worry love - “Yes, Draco.”

Draco made a trip to the Infirmary before breakfast. Harry stood anxiously at Draco side as Madam Pomfrey delivered the results of her exam. She could find nothing out of the ordinary besides elevated stress levels and fatigue. Harry opened his mouth to argue, to insist something was wrong, but Draco squeezed his hand. 

“Either she’s not telling the truth and someone is making her lie or she really can’t find anything wrong with me,” Draco explained as they made their way to the kitchen. “Either way, there’s no point arguing. We’re going to have to figure this out on our own.”

Harry’s jaw tightened as he gave a short nod - determination. “I’ll do my best, Draco.”

Draco turned to smile at him, bringing Harry’s hand to his lips to gently kiss his knuckles. “I know you will.”

Harry blushed a pretty pink, his head ducking.

Draco, Harry, Hermione, and Neville spent as much time as they possibly could in the library. It served two purposes. One, they had a lot to figure out if they were ever going to get on top of what was happening at Hogwarts. Two, Draco was safe from bullying under Madam Pince’s watchful eyes. 

Their routine was to first finish their classwork as quickly as possible and then return to their research projects. Harry was looking up spells that could help protect Draco in the halls and keep their room safer at night while Hermione and Neville were researching magical objects that might help Voldemort come back. If they could figure out what it was that Dumbledore was protecting, they could figure out a way to destroy it. Draco had told them that Dumbledore was waiting for permission from the true owner to destroy the item, but Draco wasn’t so inclined. If it would help Voldemort, then it had to be destroyed, permission or no. 

Draco’s project was a bit more secretive. Only Harry knew that he was searching for curses that would cause him to sleepwalk and have nosebleeds. So far he hadn’t found anything that matched Harry’s disturbing descriptions. 

Draco was just stepping through the portrait hole into the Tower when his feet jerked underneath him. The books in his arms went flying as he flailed in order to keep his balance. His body jerked about in an awkward tumble of arms and knees. His feet jumped and kicked madly, as if dancing some demented jig. The common room was full of people. They all turned at the commotion, saw Draco flailing, and burst into laughter.

Finite incantatem,” Hermione cast firmly, brows lowered in concentration. 

Draco staggered as he regained control of his feet and practically fell against the wall for balance. His hair hung limp, his face glistened with sweat. He hid his expression, trying to swallow down the helpless fury that choked him. Hands balled into fists, he just barely held onto the icy-cold magic that wanted to spill free. 

Harry rushed past him and shoved Rahl, who was laughing so hard he was crying, off the couch arm he sat on. “Draco’s done nothing wrong!” he screamed. His eyes blazed behind his glasses, his face red with fury. “You think he’s some traitor because he’s a Malfoy, but it’s like you’ve forgotten that he wasn’t raised here! He was kidnapped and kept overseas until only two years ago! If anyone’s a traitor, it’s you! For bullying one of your own! Draco’s more of a Gryffindor than you cowardly assholes who attack behind his back and laugh! You got a problem with him, say it to our faces!” 

The room fell silent as Rahl slowly stood up. Broad-shouldered, a few inches shy of six-feet, Rahl stared down at Harry. 

Harry didn’t back down. He stared up at the older teen with defiant rage in every line of his body. 

“Better watch it, Harry,” Rahl warned, his pale blue eyes narrowed dangerously. “Being the Boy-Who-Lived will only get you so far.”

Draco came off the wall and stood at Harry’s side. “No, you better watch it,” he said softly. There was something about the way he spoke, the knowledge in his eyes, that made Rahl bare his teeth and the kids around them lean away. Then to Draco’s complete surprise, another voice spoke up.

“Leave Draco alone!” Hermione added her voice to theirs as she stepped forward to stand with her friends. “We’re just First-years! What do you hope to accomplish besides looking cruel and childish?”

“You’re just being bullies!” Neville cried defiantly. He was pale with fear, but his voice was steady.

“There’s no way a First-year, no matter who he is got a troll into the castle,” Ron stated. He crossed his arms and glared at everyone around them.

“I don’t appreciate my own House sabotaging my players,” Oliver said darkly from his position by the fire. “Draco’s my reserve Seeker. I’m going to need him fit to play if we’re going to win the Cup. Some of us are trying to get noticed by the Professional Quidditch League, you know.”

There were voices of assent to this statement from the other Quidditch players, most notably the Weasley twins. 

Suddenly the air was thick with tension as the room began to divide, groups turning on each other with accusatory eyes. 

Draco felt his heart pound in his chest. He hadn’t expected such support. He felt the atmosphere shift in his favor and grabbed it. He spoke low and compelling, voice growing in volume as he continued. “I know my name comes with baggage, but I am not my name. Maybe Malfoys are meant to be Slytherin, but I turned that down! I chose to be here. You can trip me, break my things, poison my food, but I’m not scared of you and I’m not going anywhere! My name is Draco not Malfoy, and I am a Gryffindor! Twin to Harry Potter! That’s who I am.”

Fred and George shared a glance, identical grins spreading across their faces. Slowly they began to clasp. Ron joined in and soon the whole of the Gryffindor team was clapping loudly, but there were still plenty of faces that looked uncertain or suspicious.

Draco gave them all a wry smile. “Come on, Harry. We still have some homework to finish before bed.”

Harry glared fiercely up at Rahl. “You’re going to have to go through me to get to Draco,” he promised. “What are you going to do? Push me down the stairs like a Slytherin?”

There were unhappy murmurs at this, but Rahl looked unfazed, eyes cold as he continued to meet the younger boy’s eyes.

Harry gave the room a dark look before turning and chasing after the blond.

Concerned, Professor Flitwick asked Harry to stay behind after class. Draco, of course, waited at the door for the other boy. Flitwick watched with a frown as Harry fidgeted before his desk, eyes lowered. When he spoke, it was with a hint of nervousness.

“Yes, Professor?”

“I noticed your essays have declined lately,” he told the child gently. 

Green eyes looked up at him through a curtain of wavy bangs. They were ringed underneath with dark circles. 

Flitwick made his voice even softer. “Are you getting enough sleep? Are you well?”

“Yes, sir,” Harry answered. The boy offered a smile. “I promise to work harder.”

It wasn’t that he wanted the child to work harder per say, he was just concerned about the boy’s health. Earnestly, he offered, “If you need help, child, my door is always open.”

At that the boy lifted his head fully for the first time during their conversation and looked Flitwick dead in the eye. “I’ve been researching defensive spells, Professor. I’ve found Protego, but it only shields you against a single spell. Is there some other spell that could protect you? Something more long-lasting?”

Flitwick ached for the boy, so young and haunted, so desperate to protect himself from others. He’d thought the bullying had stopped, but the intensity of Harry’s eyes told him that it hadn’t. Not completely. Glancing behind the boy, he noticed Draco’s cheek did look slightly red and swollen. He must have fallen again.

“There isn’t a spell that will have the effect you seek,” Flitwick explained, returning his attention to Harry. “I would recommend warding an item of clothing or a piece of  jewelry to repel hostile magic.”

Harry’s face lit up with simple joy. “Thank you, Professor! I’ll research it right away!”

Flitwick didn’t have the heart to tell him that most wards were years beyond his ability.

Bellatrix crept from the warded room. It was three in the morning. The witching hour where dark and secretive things were at their strongest. Blood coated her fingertips. Silent as a ghost, she slipped through the elegant marble halls. She had no intention of escaping, so the wards remained quiescent. Pale, sickly thin, black curls short and messy around her head, her dark eyes stared unblinking as she followed the faint seductive tendril that flushed her skin and made her back arch.

The soft creek of a door as it swung inward. A dark office - books lined the walls, plush rugs, a wide window only slightly silvered with the tiny crescent moon looming above. She was pulled forward, soft gasps escaping her lips as the feeling of sweet, rich darkness tantalized her senses. Almost on it’s own, a drawer opened. A black, velvet covered book sat inside. 

She moaned as her fingers caressed the leather surface and lifted it up high. “My Lord,” she breathed reverently. Opening the book, she set it on the desk and lifted the quill that sat ready at the edge. 

Draco yawned as he made his way up to the library with Harry. He didn’t know how much longer he would be able to read old, musty books. It was so damn frustrating having symptoms but no real clue what exactly he was looking for. It was a wild goose chase that had no end.

“I’m going to use the bathroom,” he said. Maybe splashing water on his face would help wake him up. “Go on without me.”

Harry gave him a smile and a nod, hurrying ahead. 

Draco smiled fondly as he watched Harry enter their sanctuary. Harry had been studying wards for the last few days, ever since Flitwick pointed him in that direction, and he felt like he was on the verge of figuring it out. Draco entered the bathroom and headed directly for the sinks. He turned the nob so only cold water came out and cupped his hands. The lights went out. All at once, with no sound or warning, just instant and total darkness.

Draco’s eyes stared wide and blind. His heart beat hard and fast in his chest as he gripped the cold porcelain edge of the sink. It was possible the room wasn’t dark, but that he’d been hexed blind. With that in mind, he made sure to control his expression. He would not show fear. Smoothly, he released the sink and straightened. He turned to face the room. Black… perfect black… He couldn’t see. Swallowing hard, he took a step forward. Ping! Draco froze, stilling as the sound echoed. What was that? 

Shit. 

Forcing his shoulders to relax, he took another step. Nothing. Third step… Ping! Draco froze again. This time the sound was much closer. He was breathing faster now. Who was here with him? He wanted to snarl and growl. The constant attacks had let up a bit since his speech in the common room. There were days where nothing happened to him at all and he had a feeling his bullies were about to make up for it now.

Draco braced himself and stood his ground. “What the fuck do you want?” he demanded, voice low and controlled.

Nothing. No response. Just blackblackblack…

Draco took a step toward where he thought the door was and another. Clang! Draco jumped, the noise was much louder now. It sounded like metal on metal. “If you’re not going to do anything, I’ve got other places to be!” he yelled defiantly. 

Clang! Determined to stop for nothing, he walked carefully forward. Clang! Clang! He ignored the noise and kept moving forward. Silence. He bumped into a tiled wall. Sweating, he slid his hands along the cold, tiled surface, looking for the doorway.

A few steps forward and the wall became sticky and slowly grew warm under his touch. “What the fuck?” he hissed, but he refused to take his hands off the wall. Without it, he had no idea where to go. “I’m going to kill you when I get my hands on you,” he muttered darkly. 

His hair stuck uncomfortably to his cheeks and forehead. God, why was it getting so damn hot in here? And what the fuck was all over the fucking wall? Bang! With a snarl, he tried to yank his hands back, but they were stuck fast. It felt like the wall was melting, swallowing his fingers and creeping up his wrists. Bang! Disgusting squelching sounds filled his ears. 

“Get it the fuck off me!” Draco yelled, pulling with all his might.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

He screamed…

Harry frowned at the library door. It had been ten minutes. Draco should have been back by now. “I’m going to check on him.” He pushed up from the table and Neville grabbed his wrist. He looked over to see the other boy staring back at him pale and worried.

“I’ll go with you.”

Hermione didn’t even notice as they left. She was deeply buried in her book. Together, they hurried from the library. The hallway outside was empty. Harry frowned. A faint thud! could be heard from inside the bathroom.

“Draco?” he called. 

Thud!

Harry walked deeper in only to gasp and rush forward. 

Draco stood to the left of the sinks and was slamming his forehead against the wall again and again. Red painted the tile, splattering wider with every thud! of Draco’s head against the hard surface. Screaming Draco’s name, they pulled him away from the wall, the three of them falling back, Draco in their laps. The blond went suddenly limp. His eyes fluttering closed. Blood gushed from a cut at Draco’s hairline, coating his forehead and dripping down his cheeks like tears.

Terrified, furious, Harry looked up at Neville and screamed, “Go get help!”, as he tried to staunch the bleeding with his robe sleeve. Neville scrambled back, his eyes staring in horror at the blood dripping down the wall. Then he turned, feet scrambling on the slick floor, and ran.

As soon as he was gone, Harry bent close, folding over Draco’s head in his lap. He placed his lips over the cut and searched deep inside. Draco was his everything… Draco was hurt… The ache in his heart became a soul-deep need to fix, to heal. Warm blood filled his mouth, coated his tongue, Harry swallowed, shivering at the feeling of Draco’s blood filling him from the inside, and let his magic pour down.

Severus crept silently through the darkened Infirmary. Draco lay in a nearby bed unconscious. He’d had no wounds when he’d been admitted, but the blood in the bathroom by the library told a different story. Harry sat in a chair pulled up to the blond's bedside. He was folded in half with his upper body laying over Draco’s chest and waist, as if trying to hold him there. He was sound asleep, face pale with dark circles casting shadows under his eyes. 

Satisfied that the children were safe for now, Severus stalked back the way he had come. He wasn’t surprised to find Dumbledore waiting for him just outside the doors. “You cannot keep this from the Malfoys,” Severus stated, not bothering to hide the satisfaction in his tone.

Dumbledore’s blue eyes were cold and calculating behind his half-moon glasses. “Yes. The Malfoys will be informed of the bullying. Hopefully the boys will convince them to stay as I believe they were close to fixing the problem.”

“Bullying?” Severus could not believe his ears. “This was not done by bullies, Albus! Draco’s mind was attacked and he’s growing unstable. You read Longbottom and Harry’s statements! Draco was braining himself!”

“And yet he arrived with no physical injury. The blood in the bathroom must have been part of the prank to startle Draco’s friends.”

Severus stared at his old mentor, shock written on his face for a brief second before his eyes narrowed, a look of fury boiling across his features. “Prank?”

Dumbledore reached out and gripped Severus’s shoulder with surprising strength. “Listen to me, Severus. Draco’s mind is stronger than the average child’s. In fact, these lapses may indeed be him breaking free of whatever was cast on him.” He drew even closer, his expression suddenly threatening. “Do you really believe a Mind Healer, no matter how skilled, would be able to help him? We both know Draco would reject any foreign presence immediately. Especially in these circumstances. They would in fact only hinder Draco further. I will hear no more of your suspicions regarding Draco’s mind. Understood?” 

As Dumbledore released him, Severus realized he was breathing hard. He glared at the Headmaster and shrugged his shoulders to get the ghostly feeling of the Headmaster’s hand from his shoulder. 

Dumbledore gave him a gentle smile, suddenly old and wise once more. “This is a battle Draco must wage on his own, Severus. Should the Malfoys hear your suspicions, they would not be able to help him regardless and would pull him out of Hogwarts. We both know why that is unacceptable.”

Severus sneered and spun on his heel, his robes flaring around his feet. “I understand perfectly, Headmaster,” he answered, cold and stiff, before disappearing down the hall, the shadows embracing his rigid form.

Dumbledore watched him go, suddenly aged beyond his years. “I doubt that, Severus. I truly doubt that.”

Chapter end.

A/N: Question about pacing!! 

So I’m really, really torn between narrating this story on a mostly day-to-day basis to show the build up of their everyday life and stress like I did with the majority of Freedom Found in Chains versus a narration more like this chapter where time passes more quickly with only significant moments being expressed in detail… I would REALLY love the feedback on this.

Chapter Text

The Secrets of the Stone

Draco watched Harry as they slowly ate their breakfast trays. Pomfrey would release them after they finished eating as again she could find no residue of magic or anything physically wrong with him. Honestly, Draco was more concerned about his boy. - Confusion worry - filled their bond with static. Harry’s shoulders were slumped forward. Exhaustion hung around his too skinny frame. Any glimpse of Harry’s eyes, behind a shield of wavy bangs and glasses, revealed a dull green ringed in dark circles. Draco couldn’t really remember the attacks, but Harry wasn’t so lucky. 

Draco tried imagining their roles being switched - of finding Harry banging his head against the wall hard enough to splatter the tile with blood - and his gut curled with helpless fury. In fact, as bad as his boy looked, Draco was actually surprised Harry wasn’t worse. He wasn’t clinging to Draco or panicking. Something else was going on… 

“Harry,” he said, low and demanding.

Harry looked up attentively before looking around the infirmary. They were alone, but Harry still frowned and shook his head. Draco mirrored his frown. Whatever Harry had to say couldn’t be said where they might be overheard.

“Draco! Harry!” Hermione appeared at the doorway and hurried over, a thick book clutched to her chest. She’d been free of her cane for a few days and liked to rush wherever she went now that she was able to. Neville trailed behind her, red in the face and panting. “I’ve found it! I know I’ve found it.”

Draco reached eagerly for the book. “Let me see.”

She shook her head, stepping back. “I want to confirm it with Hagrid first. Let’s go during lunch.”

Draco frowned. He didn’t want Harry missing lunch. Healing him in the bathroom had taken a lot of energy without Draco’s magic bolstering him, but this was equally important. Draco was convinced everything would get better once they destroyed whatever it was that Dumbledore was protecting.

“Fine,” he said, giving in. Maybe Hagrid would have something for Harry to eat. Hopefully something besides rock cakes.

Harry tried to focus. He really did, but their first class was their DADA practical with the Slytherins. As usual, his scar burned as soon as he stepped inside the classroom. A low throbbing headache beat behind his eyes. The overwhelming smell of garlic didn’t help. Professor Quirrell had them line up, one House facing the other, in the center with about five feet separating them. All the tables and benches had been stacked precariously in the corner of a room with magic. 

Harry squinted past his headache and saw that he was opposite Vince. He gave a small, aborted wave as he met the other boy’s blank expression. Next to him, Draco faced Pansy. She didn’t look coldly detached like Vince; she looked venomous. A quick glance at Draco’s face revealed the blond was calm and unbothered. Harry wondered if that meant Pansy wasn’t really mad or if it meant Draco didn’t care about her anymore. 

At the professor’s signal, they began firing the Kickback Jinx at each other. It was the one spell that doxies were vulnerable to, a common Wizarding pest. Harry felt Vince’s spell as a gentle shove against his shoulders and he took one step backward. Returning to position, he fired the same jinx back. Vince barely moved. Vince’s next jinx had him failing his arms a bit to keep his footing.

Harry couldn’t protect Draco like this. He was useless trash, a burden. Tears burning his eyes, he took a firm step forward, remembered his determination to be of use to Draco, and fired off the jinx. Vince was shoved right off his feet. He slid backward, coming up against the opposite wall with a soft thud. The room instantly became quiet, all eyes turning to Harry. He tucked his chin, heart pounding. He wanted to duck his head, to cower and grovel… I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to hurt you! … but his Mask was firmly in place. They were in class, in public. Draco’s rules closed around him, a guiding light in the chaotic darkness. They held him upright even as his heart pounded. Harry stared across at his friend, watching with paralyzed fear as the bigger boy pushed up into a sitting position.

Vince’s blue eyes were wide as they stared back at him. Harry looked desperately into Draco’s warm, grey eyes. He felt the anxiety clawing up his throat slowly subside as Draco held his gaze, unwavering. Harry was peripherally aware of Quirrell walking toward him.

“P-P-Potter. Try a-a-and m-modul-late your p-power.”

Harry instinctively gripped his robes over his side. The pounding behind his eyes suddenly felt like something stabbing him straight through his brain. The professor walked past him without further comment, telling the class to continue. Harry’s shoulders relaxed. Draco tilted his head toward the other side of the room. Harry obediently turned his attention back to his partner to see Vince standing at the ready, back in position. He looked none the worse for wear.

“Ready... Potter?” 

The words and tone of voice were cool and detached, but Vince’s eyes were full of concern. Harry’s lips twitched up into a shaky smile before he lifted his chin, holding onto his Mask with all his might… I will be useful to Draco! … Sweat dampened his forehead and the back of his neck, but he managed to answer with a mostly even, “Ready.”

Draco took Harry by the hand as the bell signaled the end of class. Slipping into a shadowed corridor, Draco looked both ways before pulling Harry into  a secret passage. Weeks of unrelenting attacks in the halls had made them both adept at fading into the background. They knew all the unused hallways and secret passages by heart. Harry’s headache slowly disappeared, smoothed away by each sweep of Draco’s thumb across the back of his hand. 

“Don’t worry, Harry. They’re just playing their part,” Draco said softly as they walked. The passage grew narrow and they both had to turn sideways for several meters to slip through. 

Harry said nothing. Ever since the troll attack Draco seemed incapable of understanding that it was Quirrell and not the class or the smell of garlic that gave him the headaches. He stared down at their clasped hands and held Draco’s a little tighter. More than ever Harry was certain that Quirrell had done something to Draco. Harry was determined to make sure Quirrell never touched Draco again.

They came out onto the first floor, which was mind boggling as they didn’t go down any stairs and the Defense classroom was on the third floor. A nearby door let them out of the castle in a courtyard. Overhead, the sky was a cloudy grey; sunlight falling weakly down on them. The breath of winter bit at their skin.

“What couldn’t you tell me in the infirmary?” Draco asked, attention sharp on Harry as they reached into their bags and pulled out black mittens and tugged them on.

Harry instinctively looked around, but they were alone. They stood in the shadow of the castle still a good bit away from where they met for Xylomancy. He reached out and pulled Draco by the hand even closer to the castle wall before undoing his robe. His soft gloves slid against his skin as he untucked his shirt and pushed it and his sweater up to reveal his side. Harry shivered as the cold air touched his warm stomach. 

Draco’s eyes narrowed. The silver dragon embedded under Harry’s skin looked… dangerous. It’s head was lowered, sharp teeth glistening and bared. Green eyes slitted, a look of deadly fury was etched on its face. Its scales seemed more spiky than normal; it’s claws flexed. Its muscles were etched and taunt. The tip of its outstretched tail flicked in agitation. As Draco watched, it arched its head back before snapping it forward with terrifying speed. Instinctively, Draco cupped his hand over the mark he'd placed on Harry’s skin and flicked his eyes up to meet Harry’s.

“Whatever is happening to you,” Harry said softly, - faith love - filling the bond with sparkling light, “your magic’s fighting it. You’re fighting it.” He looked into Draco’s surprised eyes and gave a fierce smile of his own. “That means you’re going to beat it.”

Suddenly breathless, throat tight with too much emotion, Draco pressed Harry against the stone wall and kissed him deeply. His mittened hands sank into Harry’s hair. His tongue lapped forward, penetrating Harry’s mouth with slow, deep strokes. Harry opened to him easily - lovelovelove. Draco may be kissing Harry breathless, but it was Draco who was overwhelmed. No one had ever believed in him or loved him the way Harry did. That absolute faith in Draco’s ability and choices healed unseen fractures in Draco’s broken soul, made him want to clutch Harry to him and melt them into one.

Wet, slick lips parted, connected by a string of saliva. Draco panted against his boy’s mouth. He wanted to mark and bend and consume, but class would start soon and he didn’t want another detention for being tardy. Instead he grinned, fierce and strong, as he took in Harry’s flushed cheeks and slightly askew glasses. With gentle fingers, he set the black frames right and ruffled Harry’s hair. “We’ll finish this later,” he promised, voice low.

Harry shivered, dazed, and obediently answered, “Yes, Draco.”

By the time class finished and they made their way to Hagrid’s hut, the sky was an even darker grey as clouds beginning to gather. It wasn’t quite cold enough to snow, but it was cold enough that if it rained it would feel like ice. December was only a week away. They wore their warmest robes, thickest socks, pants, shirts, and sweaters. Knitted red hats sat on Hermione and Neville’s heads, Hermione’s hair puffing out around her neck as the hat forced it downward. Draco carefully wrapped a red and gold scarf around Harry’s neck.

“Hagrid!” Draco called, his breath a cloud on the air. He could see the light of a bright fire through the window. 

Loud, excited barking startled them into stepping back as Fang went nuts on the other side of the door. They waited several long seconds, but the door didn’t look to be opening any time soon. They couldn’t hear anything over Fang. The four of them exchanged curious looks. 

“Maybe he’s working?” Neville suggested.

“Without Fang?” Draco countered, eyebrows lowered ominously. He wanted to know what Hermione had found out. His patience was wearing thin.

“With such a big fire going?” Hermione frowned at the offending door. “Magic or no, you shouldn’t leave such a thing unattended.”

“Hagrid!” Harry called and waved his hand above his head. He was looking in the direction of the forest and the others turned to see the huge man stepping from the trees. 

“Arry! Draco!” their friend boomed as soon as he was close enough. He was smiling happily through his beard. “What are you doin’ ‘ere?”

Draco gave a charming smile and elbowed Hermione before she could launch right into her suspicions. “We came for a visit. It’s kind of cold. Mind if we come in?”

Hagrid actually hesitated, which made Draco grin triumphantly. He knew something was up! He shifted his feet, subtly bumping Harry’s shoulder. On cue, Harry shivered dramatically and blew on his mittened hands, eyes wide and innocent as he looked up at the big man. Hagrid instantly caved and they were ushered inside the blazingly hot cabin.

Hermione and Neville were introduced to the gentle giant of a man and were directed to the rickety table. There weren’t enough seats, so Neville sat on a crate while Hermione got a stool. Harry shared Draco’s chair, half in the blond’s lap. Almost immediately they shed their gloves, hats, and robes. By the time Hagrid got them tea and cake (thankfully from Hogwarts’ kitchen and not made by Hagrid), they had shed their sweaters, too. 

Hagrid wasn’t known for being subtle. He had a simple, earnest mind, so he was painfully obvious as he tried to hide something he had placed dangerously close to the roaring flame in the fireplace. Predictably Hermione warned Hagrid about fire-safety and asked what the lump was. It turned out to be a dragon egg wrapped in flame repellant rags so it could be as close to the fire as possible without actually burning.

“Hagrid!” Hermione cried, scandalized. “Dragons are triple-X marked creatures. It’s illegal to bred or hatch them!”

“The Ministry just don’ understand, is all,” Hagrid argued, posture sheepish. “Dragons are seriously misunderstood creatures. Sweet things, they are.”

Hermione took a visibly deep breath and tried to apply some reason to the situation. “Where will it grow up? It needs to be with its kind, Hagrid. You don’t want it to be unhappy and alone, do you?”

Hagrid fussed with his egg, expression stubborn.

“We actually came because Hermione had something to ask you,” Draco intervened. He knew the man wouldn’t budge on the dragon issue. At least, not yet.

Hermione gave Draco an unimpressed look. She flipped her bushy hair over her shoulder. “What can you tell me about the Sorcerer’s Stone?”

Hagrid’s head whipped around, his eyes wide. “How’d ya hear about tha’?”

Draco gave a slow, predatory smile that surprisingly didn’t look out of place on his young face. “It’s just an innocent question. We’re learning about all sorts of things at school.”

Hagrid shifted nervously as he stood, the forbidden egg forgotten momentarily. “That’s between Nicolas Flamel and Headmaster Dumbledore. You shouldn’ go lookin’ into things above your keen.”

Hermione opened her book and pointed to a place on the page. “It says that it grants immortality as well as turning any metal to pure gold.”

Draco looked at the girl intently before shifting his laser gaze to Hagrid. Immortality? His heart thundered in his chest and he instinctively held Harry tighter. The Dark Lord was after something that could grant him immorality?

“Things get exaggerated,” Hagrid said with a reassuring smile. “Don’t go believin’ everythin’ ya read.”

“How so?” Hermione demanded as if personally offended on her book’s behalf. “Flamel is nearing seven hundred years old! He’s still alive, so it must be true!”

Hagrid shook his head. “There’s no such thing as immortal life, ‘Ermione. Headmaster Dumbledore explained it t’me. Said Flamel’s just slowin’ things down, drawin’ things out.”

“Still…” Hermione’s expression was a picture of doubt. 

“Now, don’ worry about anythin’. Headmaster Dumbledore’s a great wizard. He’ll keep the stone safe. Even gave him Fluffy to help guard it. No one’s gettin’ by my Fluffy.”

“Fluffy?” Draco vividly remembered terrifying barks filling the closed off third-floor corridor. “What is Fluffy exactly?”

Hagrid blinked at him. “I shouldn’a said that.”

“Come on, Hagrid,” Harry wheedled. He leaned forward and offered the big man a sweet smile, his green eyes bright behind his glasses. “If we know something strong is protecting the stone, we won’t worry about it as much.” 

Hagrid considered that and eventually tipped his head in a nod. “Fluffy is a cerberus. Raised ‘em myself, I did. He’s a good, loyal pup. He’ll take a piece outta anyone tryin’ to break in. So you don’ gotta worry about nothin’.”

Neville and Harry stared wide-eyed at this while Hermione and Draco shared a shocked look behind their backs. A cerberus!? In the school? It sounded crazy, but Draco had to admit it was a good protection. Well, at first glance anyway.

“Is a cerberus resistant against magic? What’s to stop someone from just killing it?” Draco asked with a frown.

Hagrid sat straighter from his kneeling position next to the egg and fire. “The kind’a magic it takes to kill Fluffy would send up all sorts of alarms.”

“And there’s no way around Fluffy without killing him?” Draco persisted. 

“Well…” Hagrid twirled a lock of his beard almost nervously. “I might’a put ‘em to sleep as a pup with a lullaby, so now whenever he ‘ears some music, he goes right to sleep. But no one could possibly know that!” Seeing the troubled looks on the kids’ faces, Hagrid hurried to continue. “An’ even if they figured it out, Fluffy’s not the only protection! Headmaster Dumbledore asked each Head of House to come up with a defense, plus Headmaster Dumbledore put some kind’a protection up himself! So I don’ want ya thinkin’ on this one more minute! The stone’s safe. No one’s gonna use it for bad purposes. Not on our watch.”

Of course this just opened up a hundred more questions, but the big bell in the tower rang a low note, signaling the end of lunch. If they were going to make it to Transfiguration, they were going to have to hurry. Hagrid seemed relieved to see them go, to be honest, as they donned their winter clothes and said hasty goodbyes. As they jogged across the grounds, Draco’s mind raced, trying to guess the protections Sprout, Flitwick, and McGonagall would have created. It made him feel deeply sick to think Snape had created a barrier. Did that mean Snape knew about the other protections already? 

Before Draco could panic, he had to remind himself that if Snape could get to the stone that easily, he would have already. Fluffy had seemed to have stopped Snape cold on Halloween night. That meant that while Dumbledore had asked each Head of House plus Hagrid for a defense, he likely hadn’t shared what those defenses were. In any case, Flitwick was a crafty genius and there was no love lost between Snape and McGonagall; Draco would just have to hope that at least those two would be able to at least slow Snape down.

Distracted by his thoughts, Draco hadn’t been paying as close attention to the hallway. They were just turning onto the Transfiguration corridor and passed a group of six Gryffindor students. Draco flinched, seeing the pointing wand from the corner of his eye. Harry moved as if to shield him with his body, but Draco’s hand clamped down, keeping Harry out of the line of fire. His skin burst into a deep, pervading ache, growing tight. Draco staggered as he felt something wet slide down his cheek, forehead, and chin. The group of kids weren’t much older than them and they burst into laughter. Draco glared, flushing in angry embarrassment.

Flipendo!” 

The call of the Knockback Jinx was said with such fury, it shoved four of the center kids hard enough for their heads to whip forward and then slam back when their bodies collided with the wall. The laughter disappeared to be replaced by cries of shock and pain. Draco stared at Harry, who stood with his wand out and extended, expression fierce, and felt a wave of smug satisfaction.

“What is going on here?”

They all turned to see that McGonagall had arrived. Her pinched features, tight bun, and silver glasses seemed more severe than normal as she stood tall, arms crossed over her small chest. 

“Potter attacked us!” one of the boys cried, pointing a shaking finger at Harry.

McGonagall’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “It is quite clear, Mr. McLaggen, that you were dueling in this hallway and Mr. Potter got the best of you. Do not imply you were attacked without reason in a cowardly attempt to escape punishment. You are a Gryffindor. I expect some show of bravery… Even if it must be faked.”

The boy looked close to tears; McGonagall’s voice and words cut sharply.

“You may have forgotten, but dueling in the corridors is forbidden, Mr. McLaggan. You and your friends will serve a week of detentions for forgetting this simple rule. Now get out of my sight immediately.”

The four boys who hit the wall got shakily to their feet, likely suffering massive headaches. Their two friends helped them and soon they were gone and the corridor was empty. The bell in the tower rang, but McGonagall didn’t seem to be concerned by being tardy.

“I’m afraid that jinx can’t be removed by a spell, Mr. Malfoy,” she said in a matter-of-fact way, the anger lifting from her voice. “You will have to go to Madam Pomfrey for a potion.”

Draco tentatively touched his face and felt extremely sore bumps covering the surface of his skin. Just touching them made more liquid seep out. It had a gritty, oily feeling. It was disgusting and his whole face hurt, but it wasn’t anything he couldn’t handle. “I’ll go after class,” he decided. They had Flying next and it wasn’t like he needed to learn about that. He got enough instruction when he attended Quidditch practice.

McGonagall inclined her head and turned on her heel.

“Looks like they used the Pimple Jinx,” Hermione informed him, wincing at the red, swollen, and weeping sores all over Draco’s face. One had made his eye swell half-shut. 

Draco didn’t much care what spell they had used, only that in a few hours the effects would be gone. They took their seats in class, Draco earning whispers and a few snickers at his disfigured face, which he ignored. 

“You did good, Harry,” he whispered as they took out their textbooks and notebooks. 

- guilt protective - “I should have been faster,” he confessed, staring into Draco’s eyes sadly.

Draco gave him a smile, making more things on his face pop and ooze painfully. “This is nothing,” he assured the boy. “It looks worse than it is. You did great, Harry. They won’t mess with me again for a while.”

Harry nodded, but Draco could tell he still wasn’t happy with the way it had played out. “I think I found a ward that is simple enough that I can cast it and it will still protect you. I found it yesterday before…” Harry trailed off. Finding Draco in the bathroom still haunted him.

Draco felt cold, knowing exactly what Harry couldn’t say. He couldn’t remember what happened in that bathroom, so he had no idea who had cursed him. It hadn’t been a simple Pimple Jinx, that was for sure. “Show me later tonight,” he whispered and turned his attention to McGonagall as she started class.

Harry went with Draco to see Madam Pomfrey. Hermione offered to join them, but Draco insisted she go to Flying class. The girl hated to fly, but it was a basic skill that could come in handy later. Harry fretted over the stains the boils and pimples had made on Draco’s clothes. He really hoped the elves could get it out. That sweater was Draco’s favorite!

The potion Madam Pomfrey gave Draco worked. Within twenty minutes the swelling went down, the ooze dried up, and Draco was looking normal. They had the dorms to themselves and a few hours before dinner, so Harry started right away on warding Draco’s clothes as Draco went to take a shower. Harry decided to start on Draco’s school robes first since he wore those most often. Laying the black robes out on the floor, Harry sat cross-legged and pointed his wand sharply down. Latin and Greek spilled from his lips. The book he had found described the spell phonically, so he was pretty confident he would get it right. Especially with the tutoring he had been provided by Narcissa. 

His fingers grew warm, as if he dipped them in warm honey. As he chanted, golden threads appeared in the shape of the warding: squiggles and loops, blocks and runes. Protect Draco… Some corner of Harry’s mind remembered images of Draco falling, skin scrapped and bleeding, feet jerking and kicking, hitting his head against the floor or door frames, bruises blooming on soft pale skin, food turned rotten in his mouth, exploding toilets and Draco covered in filth, mean laughter, rejection… His goal burned bright at the center of his mind… Protect Draco…  and slowly the burning sensation rose higher, covering his hand, then wrist, then forearm. The golden threads covered the inside of the robe from shoulders to mid-back.

The hot honey sensation had reached his biceps when Draco touched him on the top of his head. Harry gasped, his arm falling slack. His hair hung heavy and damp. Sweat soaked his face and shirt. He looked up at Draco, a plea on his lips… Let me finish! … but Draco shook his head firmly.

“It’s time for dinner. You need a break, Harry,” he said and there was no room for argument in that tone.

Harry looked down at his work. The golden threads seemed to shimmer with magic. It looked the way the book described, so he must be doing it right. Sighing regretfully, he stood. The room dipped and swayed, and he would have fallen accept for Draco grabbing his arm. 

“You will eat everything I put on your plate,” Draco told him. 

Harry nodded obediently and followed Draco down to the kitchen, resigned to feeling overstuffed. They still couldn’t eat in the Great Hall without their food being cursed to taste disgusting. His mind was far away, still back on the warding. Draco had three school robes, plus half-a-dozen sweaters, double that in t-shirts and button-downs, three slacks, and five jeans. And that wasn’t even counting his dress clothes. It would take Harry weeks to ward them all, but he was determined.

Draco eyed his boy carefully. He noticed the color back in Harry’s face, the brightness of his eyes. The food had done wonders, but he knew Harry and could see how close he was to exhaustion. He also knew Harry wouldn’t rest unless he felt he had accomplished something. “You may finish the robe, but you won’t ward anything else tonight,” he ordered as they returned to the dorms. 

Harry nodded - determined love protective. He understood Draco was just taking care of him, but one day he’d be strong enough that he wouldn’t have to stop after one robe.

Hermione and Neville had beat them back to the dorm room. Fortunately girls were able to come up to the boys’ side without problems, but only until curfew. After that, Hermione would get itchy and it would only get worse until she left. 

“Harry, this is amazing!” she praised. She was standing over the half-warded robe admiring the golden ward.

Harry blushed and ducked his head. He didn’t deserve it. It had taken him hours to do so little, but he knew what he was supposed to say. “Thank you.”

“What do you think about the defenses around the stone? Any ideas on how we can discover what they are?” Draco asked, purposefully drawing Hermione’s attention away from Harry. He knew the boy would be itching to start warding right away. 

Draco sat at the desk they had brought up to their room with schoolwork laid out around him. He’d already finished their Transfiguration essay before dinner while Harry had worked on warding the robe. His boy was already cross-legged, his head bowed as he lifted his wand over the robe. His other hand raised over the material as if he were a conductor of a symphony. 

“A few,” Hermione answered, pushing her bushy hair out of her face. She came to sit on the unused middle bed and faced Draco at the desk. Neville joined her. “They can’t be too deadly. They all have to have an out because the Headmaster will need to be able to check on the stone sometimes and such. He’ll need to be able to get to it, to remove it when Mr. Flamel aggress to it it being destroyed.”

Draco grinned, fierce. “So we’ll be able to get around the protections, too.”

“If we can, so can Snape,” Hermione cautioned. 

Draco scowled. He glanced at Harry, checking on him. It’d only been a few minutes, but already his skin glistened with sweat. “True,” he muttered darkly.

“So there’s a way around the defenses, but only if you know the weakness, like Fluffy’s reaction to music,” Hermione continued. “Otherwise they will seem impossible to beat.”

“We’ll need the weaknesses,” Neville concluded. “But how are we going to get them?”

“We’ll split up,” Draco decided. “Neville, you’ll need to somehow get info from Sprout. Make sure she doesn’t suspect you or anything.”

Neville looked horrified to be given such a big job.

“Hermione, do you want to tackle trying to McGonagall or Flitwick?”

“Flitwick,” Hermione answered confidently. “Sometimes being a girl can help get information from males.”

Draco nodded. “Harry and I will try to get something out of McGonagall and Snape, then.”

Plans in place, Hermione insisted they get homework done. They had essays and research and quizzes to study for. Not to mention in less than a month they’d have their first semester exams. Harry sweated and chanted for over an hour, his arm slowly going warm again, this time to the shoulder, before he gasped, the ward completing with a snap of magic. Hermione and Neville crowded around him, touching the robe he held up with curious fingers. 

“You can’t feel it,” Neville said in surprise. 

“You can feel a bit of a tingle,” Hermione corrected. It didn’t feel like raised thread against her fingers, but there was a small spark of energy at her fingertips. She gave Harry a smile. “Good job, Harry.”

Draco wrapped an arm around Harry’s waist and gave him a hug. “Let me try it.”

Harry watched, holding his breath, as Draco slid the robe on and asked Hermione to cast a simple curse at him. The Jelly-Leg Jinx bounced off harmlessly. Neville cheered while Draco caught Harry up in a proper hug, kissing his cheek.

- proud happy love

Chapter end.

A/N: Sorry for the long gaps between updates. I’m still struggling with pacing as well as just getting it written. I’m still not happy with it and the chapter is shorter than usual, but I have to keep pushing on. I don’t want to lose the story completely or drop it. 

Thank you SO SO SO much for the helpful feedback and tips. You have no idea how much it helps! I know some of you have felt the lack of the recent chapters as much as I do. Bear with me. I feel like the end of this writer’s block is around the corner. I can feel the inspiration just beneath the surface!

Chapter Text

A/N: WARNING : Dark chapter ahead and a BDSM scene.

Huge shoutout to Babyvfan who’s encouragement/reassurance made this chapter possible.

Breakdown

The night was dark and cold. Silent… not a rustle of a leaf or crunch of soil. Yet he was gliding forward. The edges of the trees high above his head and the uneven forest ground glowed briefly silver as the half-moon peeked out from the clouds. He felt calm, relaxed… peaceful until a soft flicker of something white and pure cut through the darkness. A sudden feeling of absolute certainty stole over him. Something bad was going to happen. His breath hitched, soft little gasps that he couldn’t hear but could feel. Anxious tears burned his eyes. He didn’t want to go forward. He strained with everything he had, but it didn’t matter.

Pleaseno

There and gone again, quick little teasing darts. Until he was close enough to recognize silk soft hair, slender legs, a long sloping back… Chilled to the bone and terrified, he tried to scream out a warning.

Run! Get away!

The chase was about to reach its terrible end. His heart pounded in his chest. He was gasping, screaming, but there was still no sound! Why couldn’t he stop?! He was close enough now to see the unicorn fully… to see beautiful silver eyes wide in fear and anger… and suddenly sound ripped across the silence. A scream but not his own. The stallion bellowed its challenge, head whipped back, hooves lashing at his face. The pearl horn stabbed forward… Harry tried to fling himself onto the deadly tip just to stop what was coming.

Please! Please don’t make me!

His hands brutally caught the creature by the throat, twisting and flinging it to the ground as if it weighed nothing. Its cry of pain was terrible, making him cringe and shudder, even as he dove forward. His teeth closed on that soft skin… Could feel the warm, soft fur against his lips and tongue, felt the resistance of skin and muscle giving way against his teeth. His stomach heaved in horror and disgust as he chewed through the creature’s flesh.

Oh god! Nooooo!

Ripping muscle, thick blood filled his mouth with a delicious, syrupy warmth that nonetheless made him scream. He swallowed mouthful after mouthful; it slid down his throat and hit his stomach, filling it to overflowing… He wanted to crawl out of skin to get away! It was inside his body… The creature’s shrieks of agony pierced his ears, made him shrivel up even as he pressed closer, ripping off raw meat and eating

Harry sat up with a choked scream - HORROR grief terror GUILT. Arms held him close, Draco’s voice in his ear soothing him. Harry twisted away and flung himself at the edge of the bed. His whole body arched forward as he violently threw up. He was sobbing, snot and tears joining the mess on the floor. He was on his knees, hanging onto the edge of the mattress with a death grip. Draco held his hair off his forehead, the other hand gripping his shoulder to make sure he didn’t topple into the puddle of sick. Bile and vomit hung from his lips.

I ate him!” It would have been a shriek of horror, but his voice was hoarse and small. “Drank his b-blood and ate him!”

Draco pulled Harry up and back so that he sat on the bed between his legs. He kept one hand on his boy’s clammy forehead, holding the thick black hair back and away from his face. The other arm he wrapped tight around Harry’s chest to keep him in place against his chest and make him feel secure. Ignoring the fluids that dripped from Harry’s mouth and chin onto his arm, he used his other hand pull Harry’s head back to see his scar. Tension fell from Draco’s shoulders as soon as he saw that the lightning scar was no longer blood red and threatening to burst. It was fading slowly to an innocent white once more.

Harry broke down into wordless sobs. Draco held him tightly, humming. It took several minutes before Harry was calm enough for Draco to turn Harry in his arms, so the boy was sideways in his lap, cradled to his chest as if he were a baby. “Killed him…” Harry whispered brokenly, exhaustion and despair thick in his voice. “In the woods… killed him and drank his b-blood…”

Draco stared over Harry’s head, expression grim, but his voice was soft and gentle when he spoke. “It wasn’t you, Harry. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

Harry whimpered - denial GUILT shame. He knew better than to pull away, but he wanted to. Draco’s forgiveness felt like acid against his raw nerves. He didn’t deserve it. He was a filthy, disgusting demon

Draco took a deep breath and looked across the room at a wide-eyed Neville. The boy’s hair was mussed from sleep, but he was wide-awake. He was usually a hard sleeper, but Harry’s distressed whimpers and terrified cries could have pulled the dead from sleep.

“Neville,” Draco said calmly, voice low. His hair had fallen from behind his ears, the white-blond strands framing his face and falling just past his jaw. “I want you to bunk with Ron for the rest of the night. He won’t mind if you tell him Harry had a night terror and we needed some space.”

Neville balked. He leaned back, his hands twisting the comforter. “B-but…”

“Neville,” Draco said again, a little more firmly. He stared dead into the other boy’s eyes. “Harry really needs me right now and you need your rest. Go sleep with Ron, okay?”

Neville flushed red. He looked really nervous about it, but he obediently crawled out of bed. He kept his head ducked as he pulled on a dressing robe and pushed his feet into his slippers.

“Thank you,” Draco whispered, grey eyes bright with sincerity.

Neville’s shoulders straightened and he gave Draco a nod before slipping out of the room.

Harry lay limp in Draco’s arms, eyes staring blindly ahead. He probably didn’t even notice Draco’s conversation with Neville; the bond was a churning storm of dark emotions. Harry’s frame trembled, tears dripping down his messy face. Draco closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He found the core of his being, his love for Harry and the absolute certainty that Harry belonged to him, and knew what he had to do. He gently pushed Harry up into a sitting position. Dull green eyes blinked as awareness slowly bled into them. Draco gave Harry a soft smile, but he knew his eyes had gone silver by the way Harry shivered.

“On your knees.”

The command was given in a low, hard voice that sent a bolt of electricity right down Harry’s spine. He ducked his head and dropped his eyes submissively as he shifted to kneel on the bed, butt resting on his heels - HATE guilt despair

Draco slipped off the edge of the bed and slowly pulled all the curtains wide open. He wanted as much light as possible. He wanted to see every inch of that skin. “Shirt off.”

Harry pulled his sleep shirt over his head and was left naked. With the curtains open, the chill from the stone walls and floor made goosebumps rise along his skin. He shivered, his arms hanging limp at his sides, his chin lowered. - GUILT grief loathing - clawed at his sanity.

Draco left him there as he went to their armoire and dug out a box at the bottom. In it, he kept the rope that he’d had Dobby get for him nearly a year ago. Being bound and tied, made helpless and at Draco’s complete control, sometimes that was the only thing that would let Harry find his center again and Draco had been sick of using scarves and belts.

- Trust need - flashed like lightning through the dark muck of Harry’s emotions as soon as he caught sight of the rope. It was made out of a dark green nylon. Harry had chosen the color for Draco’s magic, the color of the deep wood and, for Harry, safety. It matched the eyes of the dragon inked into his skin and was several shades darker than his own lighter green eyes. The rope wasn’t soft, but it wouldn’t tear Harry’s skin to shreds either.

“Up.” Draco smacked Harry’s thigh and the boy rose up on his knees and off his butt. Draco climbed onto the bed so that he was standing behind Harry and ordered in a cold voice. “Arms up.”

Harry obeyed, lifting his arms above his head. Draco caught those thin wrists in his hands and began to wrap the rope around them. He moved with deliberate slowness, making sure Harry felt every coil around his skin, the tightness, the inescapability of it, and then he firmly bent Harry’s elbows and pulled the wrists down so that they rested behind his neck.

Draco tugged the end of the rope, making sure the stretch could be felt but wasn’t painful. “Ankles together,” he growled in Harry’s ear.

Weeping, Harry carefully shifted his ankles together, rocking side to side to move his knees inward to make it happen. The ghostly echo of the unicorn’s blood still burned in his belly, the feeling of chewing the raw meat wouldn’t leave his mouth! He was disgusting! Filthy! Draco must see it, too. The thought sent a mother spike of - anguish - and - despair - through him, but it also meant relief. Draco saw. He would make it right. Even if it meant destroying Harry completely, he would make it right.

Draco ignored Harry’s whimpering sobs as he made several tight loops around the boy’s ankles, pulling the rope tight. Darkness thrashed and flailed through the bond, but Draco didn’t let it effect him. He remained cold and detached inside of himself as he checked the pull of the rope. His teeth flashed in a fierce grin. He would win Harry back from the darkness.

With slow, deliberate steps, he walked on the bed around the bound, kneeling boy to stand in front of Harry. Harry struggled to stay upright and not pitch over onto his side as the bed dipped next to him with every step Draco took. Draco reached forward and gently ran his fingertips of his left hand down the boy’s chest and over his firm stomach, lightly muscled from hours of Quidditch practice. His nails stopped just above the boy’s dick. Harry shivered, goosebumps appearing on his bare, cold skin. What Draco had planned would hurt like a bitch. Maybe the cold would buffer that a bit.

The dark green cord connected Harry’s wrists tightly to his ankles. It made the boy’s back have a slight curve backward, his chest slightly thrust out. His slender arms were pulled up, the elbows bent, exposing his torso and stomach in offering. Harry’s thighs had only a small gap between them with his legs position this way, framing his small, soft cock. Face glistening with tears, head bowed slightly forward, black hair hanging down over his eyes and the bridge of his nose, Harry was a gorgeous picture of vulnerability, like an offering to the gods.

Harry couldn’t see Draco’s face, his bound wrists pushing his head slightly forward. Could only see Draco’s perfect feet, slender yet strong legs, and the white sleep-shirt that fell to mid-thigh. Suddenly Draco crouched on the balls of his feet on the bed in front of him, arms propped up on his thighs, his shirt falling between his legs, keeping him covered. His eyes were blazing silver as his lips crooked in a cocky smile that screamed dominance.

Draco ran his hand through Harry’s hair, firmly fisting the black locks at the back of the boy’s head to make Harry lift his face up against the press of his wrists. Harry’s cheeks were wet with tears and smears of snot. His eyes were red-rimmed and slightly puffy, unhidden by the glasses that rested on the nightstand. His chin was splattered with puke. His thin body exposed and shivering, wearing only the green rope binding his limbs and the black collar. The silver-white dragon tattooed on his side crouched above Harry’s right hipbone. It was perfectly still in a predator’s crouch; its dark green eyes unblinking and watchful.

Expression intent, watching Harry with a nearly obsessive glint, Draco ran his fingertips over Harry’s slightly parted lips and down his throat. He tucked his fingers into the top of the collar. Harry’s weeping grew raspy as Draco’s fingers pressed against his throat.

“This won’t be quick, Harry,” he said softly. “It’s going to hurt. A lot. But that’s what you need, isn’t it?”

- relief GUILT need self-hate - “… yes, Draco…” Harry wheezed, fat tears rolling down raw cheeks. “…please… I’m evil…”

Draco leaned forward to press his forehead to his boy’s. He stared into Harry’s eyes, blond hair falling to curtain their faces, a white cocoon. “Do you trust me, Harry?” he asked almost gently.

Crying, Harry answered immediately with a choked, “Yes.”

“Then trust me.” Draco straightened. He reached over and picked up Harry’s discarded shirt next to them and began to wipe the boy’s face and chest. “I’m going to make you clean again.”

Harry shuddered, his eyes falling closed, torn between trusting absolutely in Draco and the complete inability to believe he could ever be clean.

Draco pulled the dirtied shirt away, its job done, and dropped it over the small puddle of vomit next to the bed. “Dobby!”

A long second passed before there was a soft pop. “Yes, Master Draco?”

“Clean this mess. Lock the door and put up a sound ward, too, please, and go,” Draco ordered without looking. His attention was fully on his boy. Caressing Harry’s damp cheeks, he said, “Tell me, Harry. Let me hear it. What did you do wrong?”

With a whimper, Harry’s pretty lips began to move. “I killed it!” he sobbed. “Drank its blood and a-ate it… Feel it in me! …” The rope creaked as he unconsciously pulled against it. “And I left you… Left you alone and you… There was so much blood…” A keen of pure despair rose from Harry’s tight throat. “My fault! All my fault!… And I’m getting bad grades… It’s not good enough! I’m not good enough! … I’m weak! Can’t ward all of your things right away! You’ll be hurt again ‘cause of me…” His eyes went unfocused as he fell into the darkness of his soul and the truth that lived there. “… bad, disgusting, EVIL, demon FREAK…”

The words were said with utter hatred and a black outline darkened around Harry’s form. Draco had heard enough. He reached forward, still crouched on the balls of his feet, and wrapped his hands around Harry’s throat. Harry’s lips soundlessly shaped the slurs that he called himself deep inside his heart, even as his voice was stolen by suffocation. His shoulders tensed as he instinctively pulled on his arms and was unable to move them. The feeling of being tied made the blackness seep out of his vision.

He blinked back into awareness, felt Draco’s strong, slender fingers almost brutally tight around his throat. He looked up into silver eyes that cut into him with crystal clarity. Slowly, he relaxed into Draco’s hold, even as his lungs painfully spasmed and his face went tight and hot. Draco released him. Harry gasped and heaved, trembling and dizzy. Dark spots danced in his vision, but he held his position on his knees, spine straight with a slight bend backward, wrists bound tightly to his ankles behind him. He didn’t fall. Chin dropped low, wild hair curtaining his face, he fought to catch his breath and waited. Draco was here; Draco had him.

Draco stood and jumped off the bed. It was cold. Even he was shivering now. He went to the armoire and pulled out his thickest sweater, a pair of jeans and some warm socks. By the time he was done dressing, Harry was breathing mostly evenly again, but he was still trapped in an endless loop of - guilt shame self-hate fear. Draco climbed back onto the bed and crawled to Harry on all fours. His movements were smooth and predatory. Harry watched him with wide eyes that were full of a desperate need to be saved. Draco lifted up onto his knees only inches away from his boy and ran his fingers down Harry’s chest. The boy’s skin was cold to the touch, but Harry’s teeth hadn’t begun to chatter yet. Perfect.

“Where did you eat the unicorn?” he asked curiously. Harry’s nipples were pebbled nubs from the cold and Draco pinched them, smirking as Harry’s stomach muscles jumped.

Harry’s face twisted in mental anguish as he remembered. “The neck…” he sobbed. “I tore out its neck…”

Draco hummed in response. He caught Harry’s chin and forced it up so that Harry was looking into his eyes. “Ready?” he asked solemnly.

Harry’s breath escaped him on a shaky sob. “Yes, Draco.”

Draco slid closer, fisted Harry’s hair, and titled his boy’s head to the side. His sweater brushed Harry’s skin as he put his mouth against his throat. The boy was gasping… - NEED guilt submission self-hate - … heart thundering in his chest. Draco opened his mouth, lips ghosting over Harry’s chilled skin. He pressed his teeth to the boy’s flesh and, without warning, bit down brutally.

Harry choked back a scream as pain tore through his senses. He jerked away instinctively, but Draco held him in place.

The bite had left deep indentations, two perfect crescents that were already bruising. Two drops of blood welled up where Draco’s canines had cut through. Draco didn’t stop there. He dropped his mouth to the slope of Harry’s neck and shoulder. He bit down, holding Harry’s flesh in his teeth for a long minute before releasing him. Harry was truly shaking now, gasping in short breaths as the hot pain streaked across his body from his neck and shoulder and slammed into his mind.

Smiling a predator’s smile, eyes silver with intent, Draco slid his lips up the soft underside of Harry’s arm. It was on perfect display with his arms up and his wrists tied behind his head. Draco gripped that soft flesh with his back teeth. A sharp, pained cry escaped Harry as Draco worried at it in a chewing motion. Draco moved only a few inches over to bite down again. Harry began to sob loudly.

“Sorry… Sorry, Draco! … Sorry!” Harry pleaded, head rocking back and forth, sweat dampening his brow, his black bangs sticking to his skin.

Draco turned his mouth to the curve of Harry’s jaw and cheek and bit him.

Harry whimpered, tears and snot drenching his face once more. Draco took the boy’s lower lip in his molars and clamped down, worrying it, chewing. The thin skin tore. The small cut bled ruby red down Harry’s pale, cold skin. It dripped off his chin and slid down his chest. Draco followed that trail, leaving bruising bites and the occasional cut from his canines.

He used this hand to grab a handful of Harry’s chest to have more to bite on. The pebbled nipple was caught safe in his mouth, and the searing hot heat of the side of Draco’s tongue rubbed the hard nub even as his teeth pinched and bruised the muscle around it. Harry screamed! Draco held the bite, pain eating up all the hate and guilt and shame through the bond.

He gripped Harry’s other breast, raising the muscle and skin, and clamped his teeth down. Again his tongue rubbing almost brutally against the cold nipple. Harry shrieked as the pain of the new bite crashed into the pain of the old.

Draco continued downward, biting each rib, marking every patch of skin. He gripped and pinched and chewed at Harry’s soft stomach. Harry could no longer talk through his tears. He lost track of where he was. He was being consumed, just as the unicorn had been consumed… Draco was eating him whole! The idea of that made Harry’s eyes fly open wide - JOY! - and he moaned, the sound coming from deep inside his soul.

Yes! Eat me! Yours, Draco, oh god, yours! He had no sense of where Draco was biting anymore. Waves of agony struck through him in waves. The unicorn disappeared… Draco bleeding alone in the bathroom… the hate and guilt of all his failures… it all faded under waves of white and red and pain, consumed by Draco.

Draco lifted his mouth from Harry’s skin, hands gripping the boy’s slender waist for balance, and looked up at Harry’s face. He was so fucking beautiful. Green eyes bright and half-lidded, body shuddering as he wept softly, perfectly limp and no longer resisting, letting Draco take everything away. Harry’s chest, the back of his arms, and stomach were littered with dozens of swelling bruises. Harry looked spotted like a Dalmatian. Harry was his and so fucking beautiful!

Heart filled with overwhelming love, Draco stroked and squeezed Harry’s thighs, letting the boy come down a bit. Harry’s soft cries slowed and those dazed green eyes slowly came back into focus. Harry whimpered and shivered, covered in a sheen of sweat even as his teeth began to chatter, lips tinged blue.

“With me, Harry?” Draco asked in a soft rasp, eyes burning with possessive hunger.

“… yes, Draco…” came Harry’s dazed, hoarse whisper; he was floating on a wave of bliss and pain. He was Draco’s; Draco was eating him!

Draco made sure Harry was watching him with those gorgeous green eyes. He leaned over and kissed the boy’s tender inner thigh before biting cruelly down. Harry arched against the rope, a high-pitched whine escaping him. Draco turned his head to give a matching bite to the opposite thigh. Harry shrieked! “I’ve got you… So beautiful, Harry… so goddamn beautiful…” Draco rose up on his knees. Their positions put Draco a little taller than his boy as he looked down with heated eyes into Harry’s slack, pain-filled face. Panting, he reached behind Harry to grip his bound wrists for balance. Harry moaned as that put more strain on his shoulders. The sound made Draco ache deep inside his gut.

He stared down at Harry’s cold, bruised body, drinking in the bruises and bites, every tremble and shudder of Harry’s slender, lightly muscled body. Harry was covered in Draco’s marks, blissed out and flying, tears falling down his face… It made Draco burn with lust. Blindly, his left hand fumbled open his pants. He’d never been so hard before. He could feel his dick throbbing. Almost desperately he gripped his cock. The shocking pleasure made Draco groan, his eyes fluttering closed for a brief second.

Harry’s vision slowly swam clear. Everything hurt, throbbing and hot, cold and aching, but it was quiet again insidde. He was cocooned and insulated, completely and utterly Draco’s. Nothing else could touch him. Whimpering, he blinked and saw that Draco’s face was close to his own. The blond was on his knees only a few inches away from him. He was flushed, his mouth parted as he panted. He wore a dark blue sweater that hugged his thin frame, the V of the neckline revealing sharp collarbones and emphasizing the milky white color of his perfect skin. The long sleeves fell just past the wrist that was working up and down, steadily going faster.

Harry stared, eyes wide. Draco’s hand was fisted tightly around his cock. He had never seen Draco’s cock so red, glistening, and swollen, rising tall from the open jeans. Glancing up into the blond’s face, Harry saw that Draco was staring down at his naked body, eyes bright with an obvious hunger. Harry groaned, shocked and pleased that Draco wanted him.

Draco’s hold on his bound wrists grew tighter and Harry tensed every muscle to keep them both upright. Draco was panting hard now, almost growling. His breath and skin took on a faintly musky scent that went straight to Harry’s cock. His fist began to pump wildly now.

Draco…” Harry whimpered, pupils blown. His body throbbed in agony, the painful cold only slightly numbing his battered skin and Draco was so bright and beautiful and good… “Hurts… so good… Draco…” he sobbed.

Panting, magic throbbing and twisting in the air, his senses vibrating, Draco pumped his cock faster, his eyes riveted to the dozens of bite marks covering Harry’s soft skin. The - love adoration submission - that filled the bond pushed him even closer to the edge.

“Fuck, yes, good, so fucking good…” - * MINE! * he bellowed deep in Harry’s mind as he came with a long, drawn out groan.

Harry gasped and arched his body as much as he could, offering more of himself to Draco as hot cum splattered his stomach. The inked dragon on his side flapped its wings madly as Draco groaned and leaned against him. They were both panting, nearly breathless. It was agony where Draco pressed up against him, but Harry thrilled in it. Draco’s… He was Draco’s! … Draco wanted him, loved him, saved him; he had made Harry clean!

Shivering, teeth chattering, Harry rubbed his cheek against the side of Draco’s head and whispered in a dazed, blissed out voice, “Love you… thank you, Draco… Yours…”

Draco gave a soft, breathy laugh. “We’re not done yet, Harry.” Magic snapped and crackled around them, not yet complete. Harry shivered and whimpered as Draco pulled away from him. Draco dragged his hand through the mess on Harry’s stomach, making the boy flinch and gasp as he rubbed across the broken and bruised skin.

Fingers slick, Draco teasingly squeezed the head of Harry’s cock with his fingertips. It was pink and stiff, rising up against Harry’s lower belly above soft, hairless balls. Draco’s index finger pressed and rubbed at the little hole. Harry whimpered, head thrown back as much as his arms would allow. Draco gave a lazy smile and tapped at the tip, slowly at first and then faster and faster, hitting harder and harder.

Panting, sobbing, Harry trembled and shook, arms bound above and behind him, completely at Draco’s mercy. He never pulled away, even as the shocks of pleasure began to burn painfully. The heat of their magic coiled and twisted. Harry was so close! His vision swam in and out of focus, his mouth hang slack, drool slicking the corners of his battered lips.

Draco leaned forward to lick some of Harry’s spit from his chin. He chuckled, pressing his forehead to Harry’s, staring into those blazing green eyes as he began to tug up and down, thumb rubbing hard at the reddened, swollen head on every up-swing. His fist made a squelching sound, dirty and wet. It made Draco tingle and twitch; god he loved it when Harry got wet! He put their mouths together so that with every gasp Harry only got Draco’s air, owned from inside and out.

“Want it, Harry… Give it to me… Want to see you cum with my marks and cum all over you,” he growled, silver eyes glowing.

“Draco, Draco, Draco, Draco…” Harry chanted near breathlessly, lost in a sea of pained pleasure.

Their tangled magic throbbed and pulsed. Harry was cold and hot and hurt everywhere, his attention riveted on the pulsing heat and shocks of pleasure where Draco pumped his hand up and down, rubbing brutally at his over sensitized tip. Muscles spasming and toes curling, his hips pushed forward for more. Loud wails shook though him as Draco’s tempo grew faster.

Draco’s free hand clenched in Harry’s hair, keeping the boy’s gaping mouth right against his, their breath cycling as Draco hungrily ate every moan and whimper. Soft little sobbing cries spilled from Harry’s lips, “auh, ahn, auh,” as he gave small thrusts into Draco’s tight, slick fist. So close… He was so close to the edge… He sobbed, mouth slack, eyes glassy.

Mine,” Draco growled possessively right into the boy’s mouth.

Harry gave a loud, wrecked cry, the sound making Draco gasp and shiver. Cum shot out of the boy, splattering Harry’s naked stomach and Draco’s hand. Their magic crashed and rolled outwards, deep like thunder. Blacking out, Harry began to collapse sideways.

Draco guided his fall so that Harry lay on his side on the bed, wrists and ankles still connected and bound behind him. Draco lay facing his boy as echoes of fading pleasure burst under his skin. Unable to keep his hands off, he spread their mixed cum over as many bites as he could. It made him tingle and throb to think of it there, invisibly marking Harry further.

After a few minutes, Harry softly groaned, eyes fluttering open. His pupils were wide, still high from the orgasm.

Draco smiled into that dazed expression. “I love you, Harry.”

Harry smiled sweetly back. “Love you… so much…” he whispered, voice wrecked.

Draco leaned forward to softly kiss Harry’s lips. Long and languid, their lips moved slowly, Draco swallowing down his boy’s soft sighs.

Eventually Harry began shivering too hard to ignore. Draco sat up and moved to kneel behind his boy. He untied the rope from around Harry’s ankles. Bruises were left behind from when Harry had unconsciously pulled and strained against the rope’s hold. Draco reverently traced over them and then glanced up at the hands still bound behind Harry’s head.

“I’m leaving your wrists bound.”

Harry nodded and straightened his legs, rolling onto his back. His bound wrists came to rest on his thoroughly marked chest. It hurt at first, but then the pain subsided into a dull throbbing and he was comfortable.

“You’re not to heal any of these without my permission,” Draco commanded and lazily slid two fingers into Harry’s battered mouth. “Get them wet for me.”

Harry was filled to bursting with safety and warmth. He closed his eyes on a sigh and lapped lovingly at Draco’s fingers. As soon as the blond pulled them free of his mouth, he whispered, “Yes, Draco…” - love submission.

Draco smiled and leaned over to kiss Harry’s fat lip one more time. “Such a good boy for me,” he praised.

- joy surprise gratitude - Tears spilled from Harry’s closed eyes. “Draco…”

Draco smiled and gently traced Harry’s lips before sliding over to his jaw and cheek. He hated erasing the marks, but he knew he couldn’t leave any that would be visible over Harry’s clothes. Reverently he stroked the bites and strangulation bruises on Harry’s neck, watching as they slowly faded away under his touch. Harry was sweet and pliant, slow tears soaking his cheeks and the pillow under his head, but they weren’t tears of pain or self disgust any more. They were tears of relief and peace, a washing clean of all the darkness that had come before.

Humming, Draco cupped Harry’s face and kissed him softly, lapping at the inside of the boy's mouth and drinking the tears from his healed lips. Pulling away after a long minute, Draco sat up to close the bed curtains and pull their thick, warm blankets over them. He held Harry, whispering words of love and praise until Harry fell into a deep, restful sleep, held safe in Draco’s keeping.

Staring at the red canopy above his head, Draco thought hard. They were a week into December. Two weeks had gone by since their conversation with Hagrid and Harry was running himself into the ground with Quidditch practice most mornings, classes all day, essays and studying, and then trying to ward all of Draco’s clothes for three hours every night. Spread so thin, it wasn’t any wonder Harry was burning out and performing poorly.

His grades had dropped from E’s with the occasional O to mostly A’s. Some nights Harry could only get through warding one sleeve instead of half a robe as he’d done the first time. Harry explained he had to be utterly focused on the feeling of wanting to protect Draco, but exhaustion and worry made his mind cloudy. Worse yet was that the warding only lasted a few days before Harry had to re-ward it. As it stood, Harry was only able to keep one robe fully warded at any given time. Draco thought this was fine. He was able to switch between them, giving Harry the robe with the failing ward to fix while he wore the one that was freshly warded, but of course Harry didn’t agree. He still felt as if he’d failed Draco by not providing more shielding.

Technically, Draco’s feet and ankles were still exposed and vulnerable, so were his head and hands, and anything else that wasn’t covered by his robe. If the bullies figured that out, then Draco would be an easy target once more. However, Draco’s bullies weren’t exactly geniuses and the warding had been extremely successful. Draco no longer tripped or danced or grew sick in the halls. Several people around him had been hit instead as the jinxes and curses bounced off, so now the attacks had stopped completely. Of course, Draco knew that meant they were biding their time and working up to an even bigger attack, but he was careful and watchful.

More importantly, they weren’t making very much progress regarding the stone. While Harry warded at night, Draco and Hermione researched ways of destroying something as powerful as the Sorcerer’s Stone. So far they had come up with nothing. Hermione had also asked Professor Flitwick for tutoring, but she hadn’t yet found an opening to ask about the stone. In fact, the only one who had made any progress in that area was Neville. Neville had asked Professor Sprout for a tour of the upper year greenhouses and had noticed an empty spot in one of them. Turned out a big Devil’s Snare plant was missing. Sprout tried to convince Neville it had gotten damaged and she’d sent it off to be repaired, but they knew better. 

So it wasn’t any wonder that Harry had this breakdown. Draco stroked the boy’s thick, messy hair and hummed some more. Something had to give, but Draco wasn’t sure what. If he forced Harry to give up warding, Harry would take that as proof of his failure, that Draco didn’t believe in him. Quidditch practice was time consuming and physically exhausting, but it was the only time in the day Harry felt relaxed and somewhat happy. Harry was really proud of his last win. And of course their classes and the amount of assignments wouldn’t disappear.

Draco was well and truly stuck. He had no idea how to help his boy or make things more bearable. They had to destroy the stone! Once they did, Snape’s plans would be crushed and the Dark Lord’s presence would leave this place. So would these dreams of Harry’s. They’d be free to relax and focus purely on school again. Sighing, Draco rested his cheek on Harry’s head briefly before carefully pulling away. Maybe it was time to ask for outside help. Determined, he crept quietly to their desk and opened a notebook. He had two letters to write.

Chapter end.

A/N: I hope the two week time jump from last chapter to this and Draco’s inner monologue and summary at the end wasn’t too abrupt. I tried to make it as smooth as possible. :D

The scene with Draco and Harry at the beginning gave me huge fits. I had to ask for help to make sure the feelings between Draco and Harry and the psychological needs of both were expressed clearly - THANK YOU, BABYVFAN.

I’d love any feedback you guys can give.

Sorry I’ve been relying on you all so much lately!! I hope everyone is enjoying the story and will continue to be patient as I work through my writing issues as of late.

 

Chapter Text

A/N: Happy Yule! Sorry for the delay. I really appreciate all the great feedback. :)

Things are slowly but surely moving forward. This is the start of very big things.

Integrity

Ron had been surprised when Neville had come sneaking into his room, the other boy blushing and stuttering about Draco and Harry needing space. Ron had grumbled in confusion, but he’d moved over and fallen right back to sleep. In the light of morning, however, he was worried about his friends. He told Dean and Seamus to go on without him and held Neville back, a frown on his face.

“What do you mean he had a bad nightmare? How bad? And about what?” His hair had gotten longer, falling over the tops of his ears and across his forehead. He brushed it impatiently back as he gave the other boy a hard stare.

“I d-don’t k-know,” Neville answered nervously, his eyes darting to the side.

Ron could have growled. It was clear Neville was trying to protect Harry’s secret, but from Ron? It was true that his friends had been distant lately, always shut away or buried in books, but he’d been so sure if something serious was going on, they’d include him. He dressed quickly, pulling on his warmest clothes. A sharp chill was coming off the stones; the winter solstice may be days away, but no one had told the weather that. The school was hours north of his home and was proving to be much colder than he was used to. Brows lowered in a scowl, he followed Neville back to his room to see what was going on with his friends.

Draco was already up and dressed, sitting at the desk with his legs crossed as he watched Harry. He wore jeans, his black Converse shoes, and a heavy, dark blue sweater. Draco’s school robe and a thick cloak with black fur around the collar were draped over the bed, waiting. Harry stood by the armoire. He had on wool slacks that were a dark grey in color, black leather ankle-boots, a blue, long-sleeved dress shirt tucked into his pants, and was just pulling on a black wool sweater. His head popped out of the hole, his hair messier than normal and with his black-framed glasses already on his face. 

Harry gave them a shy smile. “Good morning,” he said softly.

“Morning, Harry,” Ron answered absently. He crossed the distance to stand next to the desk, eyes on the inscrutable blond. “What happened last night?” he demanded quietly.

Neville busied himself getting dressed and ready for the day. Fortunately, they had no classes as it was Sunday. They all would have probably slept in a bit, but in a few hours, directly after breakfast, the Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw Quidditch match would start. Harry helped him get ready, apologizing about the night before.

“Harry had a nightmare,” Draco answered simply. His grey eyes cut upward to hold Ron’s gaze. “It was a bad one, but I handled it. He got a few more hours of sleep afterward.”

“What’s been going on with you two?” He shot Draco a warning glare. “And don’t tell me it’s nothing. We’re friends, aren’t we? If somethings going on, let me help.”

Draco sighed. He propped his elbow on the edge of the desk and rested his cheek against his fist. “It’s complicated and dangerous. Honestly, I don’t know if there is anything you can do to help or I would have asked.”

Ron flushed red. “But Pleasant and Longbottom can?” he hissed.

Draco’s eyes narrowed. He stood in a smooth movement. Ron was taller, but at least it was only a few inches instead of the redhead standing over him while he was still sitting. “Neville’s been an enormous help and Hermione is amazing at research. What exactly do you expect to accomplish by being a jerk? Don’t let your temper lead, Ron. We’ve talked about this before.”

At first Ron looked about to explode. His fists clenched; his jaw tensed. Neville froze, watching with wide eyes, but Harry continued pulling out his friend’s outerwear for the day, unconcerned. Draco remained calm, steadily staring into Ron’s eyes, and a miracle happened. Ron let out a huge breath. His shoulders loosened, his fists uncurled. He took a slow breath in and let it out softly. 

“I’m worried. I’d like to know what’s happening. I wanna help,” the redhead eventually said. His voice was calm. His eyes were steady.

Draco gave a nod to acknowledge Ron’s efforts. “Thank you.” He reached out to gently squeeze his shoulder in praise. “Like I said, it’s dangerous and complicated. We can’t get into it now. If you want to know what’s happening, we’re going to meet up after the match. You could join us.”

Ron gave a determined nod. “Well, let’s go then.” He broke out into a irrepressible grin. “I’m hungry! Breakfast is on!”

Draco smiled indulgently. He held his hand out to Harry and his boy immediately came to his side, accepting it. Draco couldn’t help but think of the dozens of tender bites that even now must be throbbing on Harry’s skin, hidden away under his sweater and shirt. Draco slid his hand up Harry’s arm until he reached the back above the elbow. He squeezed gently and thrilled in the way Harry sucked in a soft breath. 

- love pain gratitude - 

Practically purring, Draco turned his attention back to the room. Neville was just pulling on his school robe. They were ready. Draco released Harry to quickly slip into his warded school robe and pull on his cloak. Harry did the same, grabbing two sets of Gryffindor hats, gloves, and scarves.

Breakfast was a loud, rowdy affair, everyone excited for the second Quidditch match of the year. It didn’t help that the illusion of snow was falling from the enchanted ceiling, indicating the first snowfall had occurred. As soon as they stepped outside, sloppy snowballs were flying through the air between shrieking kids. Fred and George threw one at Draco, but it missed and hit Harry. It exploded with a whump. Harry staggered with a wince, his hand coming up to shield his chest from further attacks. Draco shot them a vicious glare. The twins bolted, laughing loudly. 

Draco made sure to walk directly in front of Harry the rest of the way to the pitch. * I can heal them…* he offered quietly, mind-to-mind.

Harry shook his head hard in refusal, a hot blush rising on his cheeks - desire embarrassment.

Draco grinned.

It was cold. Everyone was bundled up in hats, scarves, and mittens. Noses red, they cheered as the game started, yellow and blue players soaring into the sky. Goals were scored, bludgers were smacked straight at players, but inevitably the snitch was spotted and a winner would soon be decided. The Seekers were neck-in-neck, their shoulders bumping into each other as they tried to knock the other player off the trail. With Harry’s excitement burning through him, Draco cheered so loudly he was in danger of losing his voice.

Hufflepuff caught the snitch, the Seeker performing a crazy summersault as he leapt off his broom to win the golden ball before the Ravenclaw Seeker could grab it. The spectators went wild, except for those in Ravenclaw blue. Draco shook his head as Harry jumped up and down next to him. Ron and Draco were still talking about it as they made their way to the library where Hermione was waiting for them. (She did not approve of violent sports or standing stupidly out in the cold to watch them.)

“But how do you think they feel now?” Draco was insisting. “Ravenclaw was clearly the better team. They outmaneuvered Hufflepuff in every way. Their Seekers were evenly matched. Hufflepuff just happened to be more daring, so they won the game, but is it really a win when you know your team wasn’t the better one?”

“Daring is a valid quality in the game! They had more, so they won fair and square. Of course it’s a real win!” Ron protested.

“Fine, but as for the rest of the team, they were clearly not as good.”

Ron had nothing to say to that except a petulant, “You can’t take the snitch out of Quidditch, Draco!”

“Then it should be less points. Say, fifty. Or make the goals scored with the quaffle worth more. Instead of ten, they should be worth thirty.”

Ron hated the idea, but he had no way to battle Draco’s logic. Instead he changed the subject. They were in the library at this point and he could see Longbottom-Pleasant sitting at a table toward the back. “Look, there she is. Now can you tell me what’s going on?”

Her thick, frizzy hair was pulled back away from her face in a low ponytail. Several books were spread out around her, a few open, a few shut and waiting to be used. As the four boys took seats, filling out the table, she lifted her eyebrows at Ron’s inclusion. 

Draco gave her a reassuring smile. “At the very least, a new perspective might help.”

Hermione looked doubtful, but she didn’t interrupt as Draco began to explain the bare bones of the situation. He left out mention of Snape and the Dark Lord, but he did explain it was very important for them to destroy the stone since Dumbledore’s hands were tied. If the stone fell into the possession of someone evil, it would be very bad for everyone.

Ron frowned as he listened, his mind spinning with possibilities and strategies. “The Devil’s Snare will likely be the next defense after the cerberus.”

“You can’t possibly know that,” Hermione snapped.

Ron shot her a heated glare. “I can’t know it, but it’s likely.”

“How in the world is it likely?” she demanded.

“Because Devil’s Snare is only dangerous if you come into contact with it. Most people know what it is and would destroy it from a distance. The only way it would be worthwhile as a defense is if you arranged it so someone was forced to come into contact with it. I’m thinking the cerberus is guarding a trap door and you’ll have to drop down into the next room right into the middle of the Devil’s Snare. It’s just too perfect a chance to fully utilize the Snare’s defensive capability.”

Hermione had a look of surprise on her face while Draco looked smug. “That’s… brilliant,” she admitted.

Ron turned bright red to the tips of his ears. “Not really. Just logical is all.”

“Exactly,” she responded.

He shot her a nasty glare, blush disappearing. “I’m not stupid!” he growled.

She said nothing; the implication being that it was debatable.

Draco intervened before Ron could explode. “That leaves us with four more defenses and we have no idea how to find out what they are.”

“Potions, Tranfiguration, Charms, and whatever Dumbledore cooked up,” Ron summarized.

“We’ll never figure out Dumbledore’s,” Neville said in defeat, slumping in his chair.

“Probably not,” Ron agreed. “Or Potions. Snape wouldn’t tell us if his life depended on it and especially not if our lives depended on it.”

“McGonagall is sharp. She’s not going to let us trick it out of her,” Draco added. He hooked his bangs behind his ears sharply, a gesture of frustration. 

Hermione scowled down at the book she had open. “I’m having no luck with Flitwick.”

“Well, we could follow the person stealing it,” Ron offered. They all stared at him. “What?” he demanded, crossing his arms defensively. “They would have to get through the defenses, right? To get to the stone to steal it. We could go in behind them. It shouldn’t be so hard then. We would at least see how they got through them if they didn’t take them down completely.”

“And then what?” Hermione hissed furiously. “We’ll be too late.”

“Not necessarily.” Draco gave Harry a thoughtful look. Trusting green eyes stared back. “If we go in right on the thief’s heels, we could destroy it before they escaped with it.”

“That sounds really, really dangerous,” Hermione protested softly, dark brown eyes filled with worry.

Draco ignored that. “So we need to make finding out how to destroy the stone our top priority, and we’ll set an alarm so we’ll know right away if someone tries to get past Fluffy.” He reached over to squeeze Ron’s shoulder. “Thanks, Ron. You were a huge help.”

Ron shot Hermione a dazzling smile. 

She scowled and looked away.

xXx

Harry was exhausted. From the stress of the last few weeks, from the night terror the night before and Draco’s claiming, from the constant low level pain of the bites left on his body… That meant he didn’t realize at first what was pulling him from a deep sleep. It was dark, cold, but warm under the blankets. He wasn’t dreaming. Just sleeping deeply, body heavy. Soft, almost not there scratch-scritch-scratching reached his ears. Scritch-scratch, scritch-scratch. Harry’s brow tensed and then his eyes squinted open. Was it a mouse eating at the walls? 

Too dark to see, his hand slid over soft, warm sheets to feel empty space. Adrenaline dumped into his blood and hit his brain like a truck. Draco was missing! He sat up quickly and scrambled to the edge with the nightstand. He flung the curtain open and tapped the lamp. It fluttered to life. Scritch-scratch, scritch-scratch. Harry’s eyes darted around what he could see of the room, but he couldn’t see… “Draco?” he called in an urgent voice. 

Scratch-Scratch-Scratch… Harry crawled to the other side of the bed and flung aside the curtain. He gasped, eyes wide. Draco was crouched in the shadows between the bed and the wall wearing nothing but a white t-shirt. His hands slowly clawed at the stone floor… Scritch-scratch, scritch-scratch… Harry couldn’t see his face, but Draco’s body was tensed, rigid. 

“Draco…” Harry called - worry fear love. He got no reaction. Some of Draco’s nails had broken and were bloody… Scratch-scratch-scritch…

Climbing out of bed, Harry crossed the small space between them. His heart pounded in his throat as he reached out a trembling hand. “Draco…” Harry’s fingertips gently touched the blond’s tensed shoulder.

Draco whipped around, face contorted with a snarl, eyes wild and wide. He made a screeching sound that had Harry screaming and scrambling back. Draco scuttled with shocking speed underneath the bed and the scritch-scratch, scritch-scratch started again.

“Harry…” Neville’s sleepy voice made him jump. “What’s going on?”

Harry’s voice shook. From the cold and fear. “Get Percy please?” He only wore his own sleep shirt. His feet were bare and already he was shivering. How long had Draco been out of bed? He must be frozen solid! Slowly, Harry crouched to see under the bed. Draco lunged at him. Harry yelled, falling back on his butt. Draco landed on top of him, shrieking. Sharp broken nails scratched at Harry’s neck, caught at his collar. Harry wrapped his arms around the blond, ignoring the pain, and let his magic flood free. Draco shrieked like a wounded animal and dove back under the bed. 

Dazed, Harry lay bleeding from the scratches at his throat and shoulders. He could hear Neville hyperventilating. He rolled onto his hands and knees, then stood. “Neville, get Percy. I’ll stay and watch him.”

“We need Madam Pomfrey! Or Dumbledore!” Neville protested, terrified. 

“She doesn’t help! No one helps,” Harry snapped, eyes narrowed.“Get Percy! Hurry!”

Neville scrambled out of bed and bolted past him. He didn’t bother with a sleeping robe or slippers. 

Draco darted for the door, face contorted into something crazy. Harry leapt in front of him, arms open and magic radiating from his body. Draco veered away with an animalistic hiss. He climbed onto the middle bed and pressed himself against the headboard. A crazy croaking escaped his wide-open mouth, clicking occasionally. The sound made goosebumps rise along Harry’s arms and the back of his neck. Harry’s heart beat a crazy rhythm. Oh god what was wrong with Draco?

“It’s okay,” he said breathlessly. “It’s going to be okay. I’m going to take care of you.”

Scratch-scratch-scritch … Draco clawed at the wood of the headboard behind him. His head tilted, the creepy sound coming from his throat growing louder. Harry bit his lip, terrified, as Draco’s head seemed to turn almost upside down, eyes bulging and unblinking.

“What’s happening to you?” Harry whispered, tears of horror welling in his eyes. “Draco…”

xXx

Neville beat almost blindly on Percy’s door. He was too panicked to think clearly, so when Oliver Wood opened it with a sleepy look of wrath, Neville latched onto his arm to keep from falling forward and practically screamed in his face. “Percy! I need Percy! Draco’s acting crazy! Something’s wrong with him. Something's really wrong!”

Oliver looked shocked and then really worried. “Longbottom, what…?”

Percy appeared behind the Quidditch captain. He placed a hand on Neville’s shoulder as he passed, pushing him gently into the room. “Stay here. You can have my bed.”

“Percy…” Oliver stared at the other boy in surprise. The redhead could be bossy, but he was mostly quiet and a loner. Oliver had never heard him sound so intense or serious before. 

Percy didn’t answer, slipping silently down the hall and disappearing into the shadows. 

Oliver shook his head and shut the door behind the clearly freaked First-year. “Alright, kid. Guess you’re bunking with us.”

Neville swallowed hard and wrapped his arms around his chest. Three other boys were sitting up and staring with either curiosity or annoyance. 

Oliver waved them off. “Show’s over. Go back to sleep,” he ordered as he guided Neville to Percy’s bed. 

Neville didn’t resist. He didn’t want to go back to his room. Draco had been terrifying, like something possessed. He shivered hard and crawled under the still warm comforter. He pulled it over his head to muffle his heavy breathing.

“Hey. It’s going to be fine. Percy’s a know-it-all. I’m sure he’ll fix it,” Oliver reassured the boy. He was already falling back to sleep.

Neville really hoped he was right because Draco was not okay.

xXx

Percy didn’t know what to expect, but he knew it had to be bad to scare the Longbottom boy and have Harry sending for him. He took a deep breath, his wand held tightly in his right hand, and quietly opened the door, slipping inside and shutting it quickly behind him. Almost immediately he tensed as the most terrifying sound reached his ears. Draco was croaking,  crouched on all fours on a bed. He looked to be trying to throw something up, his back arching violently every few seconds. His face was twisted in the most hateful expression, eyes bulging and locked on Harry. 

Harry stood frozen, eyes wide as he watched the blond. He stood in nothing but a t-shirt. His neck was bleeding from several scratches, staining the collar of his shirt a vivid red. There were round bruises on the back of his arms and circling his wrists, but otherwise he seemed fine. Percy’s eyes snapped back to Draco. He had never seen anything like it. He shuddered in horror and carefully lifted his wand. Before he could cast a single spell, Draco flung himself up on his knees and began to scream bloody murder. Percy and Harry both slammed their hands over their ears in shock.

Draco clawed at his head, ripping white strands free from his scalp. Harry ran forward and flung himself on the blond. Draco immediately began to thrash and struggle, still screaming like a banshee, head and arms whipping back and forth. Harry held on for dear life, tucking his head in against Draco’s neck. Percy darted forward and cast the strongest sleeping spell he knew, lashing the blond across the shin with his wand.

Draco should have been out like a light, but instead he slowly weakened. His scream tampered off into broken whimpers as his arms stilled. After thirty seconds, he was finally silent and unconscious. Harry lifted his head and kissed the blond’s pale lips, pushing as much of his love and healing magic as he could through the connection. Percy backed off, breathing hard as he tried to understand everything he’d seen.

xXx

Draco was somewhere dark. His chest felt heavy and his stomach churned, a distorted, sick feeling of butterflies. Tears welled in his eyes. He felt hopeless. There was no point. No point to fighting or caring. It didn’t matter in the end. Anxiety churned harder and he clenched his fist over his stomach. What about Harry? Fuck, what was he going to do? 

He could almost taste it, the feeling of Harry’s warm magic, but it was as if a thick sheet of glass separated him from the bond, from the world. He was in a dark place. Alone. He hadn’t been alone since he was six. He’d felt this crushing hopelessness back then, too, but he’d learned to survive. Learned to hunker down, conserve his resources, and wait. Draco wasn’t sure he had it in him this time. He was so fucking tired. The world was closing in around him and he felt sick.

xXx

Percy didn’t have long to think about what was going on or the fact that Harry’s bruises were from bites. Draco’s eyes opened and he weakly pushed at Harry, which shouldn’t be possible. Percy’s spell should have knocked him out until he cast the counter. He tensed, ready for another crazed attack. Harry, on the other hand, pulled back with a soft breath of surprise and a burning look of hope. 

Percy expected Draco to immediately comfort the smaller boy, but instead Draco turned his face away. Percy frowned. As Harry sat back on his heels, he shot Percy a pleading look. Percy straightened his back and took charge. He had four younger siblings. The instincts drilled into him by his mother on how to deal with sick kids kicked in. “I’m going to wash him up. Clean up the room. We’ll be back.”

Harry nodded, eyes wide as he watched Percy scoop Draco into his arms bridal style and carried him to the door.

Draco lay complacently in the older teenager’s arms. What was the fucking point of fighting it? At least it got him away from Harry. Tears burned his cheeks. He began to gasp, unable to catch his breath.

Percy shut the bathroom door behind him, placed Draco on his feet, and quickly spelled the door locked and soundproof. He turned back to see Draco standing as if lost, arms wrapped around his chest, shaking in the midst of a panic attack. Percy moved Draco to the side of the tub and sat him on the edge. He rubbed the boy’s back, putting enough pressure to lean the boy forward. “That’s it. You’re alright.” He reached behind Draco to turn on the hot water and stopper the tub. 

Draco exploded into sudden movement. Heart banging in his chest, lightheaded, he threw himself across the room. With his back to Percy, he pressed his forehead against the cold tile, grit his teeth, and choked back the sobs. He was coming apart; his control was shattered. He wanted to burrow into a dark hole and never come out. “Leave me the fuck alone,” he gasped when he had enough breath.

“I can’t, Draco,” Percy said softly. “I don’t know what’s going on with you. I can’t risk you hurting yourself again.”

Draco snarled and hit the wall with a shaking fist. It hurt, but the pain and anger began to ease the claws that were sunk deep in his chest. He gulped back tears and slowly his trembling stopped. He opened his fist and pressed his hand flat to the wall. It was red where he’d hit it, but he also noticed his nails were broken and short. There was no damage or blood - he vaguely remembered the warm wash of Harry’s unique magic - but Draco knew he’d had to have clawed at something hard to get them to look like that. It wouldn’t have been pretty.

“Fuck!” he screamed and punched the wall again. Heavy anxiety and depression consumed everything. Closed off his mind, blinded and smothered. He was still shaking; his knees felt weak. “Harry?” he rasped. He pressed his forehead hard against the cold tile of the wall.

“Safe,” Percy answered honestly. “Shaken up but unhurt…” There was a pause and then the redhead said, “Except for the bites and bruising.”

Draco felt some of the tension leave his shaking frame. He could feel it again, the current of Harry’s emotions - worry trust protective. “What happened?” he rasped hoarsely, eyes closed.

Percy stared at the boy’s back. The feeling of the boy’s surprisingly light weight in his arms wouldn’t leave him. Draco was so strong and indomitable. It had been shocking to see him so vulnerable and pliant. He wouldn’t forget Harry’s bruises or his suspicions about them, but now wasn’t the time to push. “I don’t know how it started, but Longbottom came for me. I told him to stay in my room and when I got here, you were crazed. Standing on the bed, making these sounds… You didn’t recognize us at all. When you began to hurt yourself - you were clawing at the headboard - Harry flung himself on you. While he held you down, I was able to spell you to sleep. You should have stayed that way, but after only a few minutes, you woke up.”

Draco turned around, arms back around his chest in a protective hold. His grey eyes were dark with exhaustion, but he was alert, anger clear in the tight cast of his face. “What the fuck’s happening to me?”

Percy held his gaze. “I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think it’s a spell. I’ve heard stories that described something like what I saw. I think…” Percy took a deep breath. “I think someone messed with your head.”

Draco felt a sick feeling of dread.

“Something like that is way beyond school-age magic,” Percy continued. He felt sick as he remembered Third-year. He’d gone almost out of his mind with fear as he suffered those nightly visits - held down against his will, used as a heavy weight sweated and rutted against him. He always blacked out and there was never any evidence left behind in the morning. Magic had to be involved and he was plagued with nearly debilitating questions. 

Was more being done and he was made not to remember? Were the terrifying moments fake memories implanted by someone else? If he couldn’t even trust his mind, how would he ever be able to stop it? What if it never stopped? - Percy almost hadn’t made it home. He had contemplated death so many times, and he was furious and sick over the fact that Draco was experiencing something similar. Draco was just a child!

“There are some…” he continued, throat tight with emotion. “They don’t react well to mind altering spells. They fight it unconsciously, experiencing demented and crazed episodes.”

Draco could hardly breathe. His vision was going black around the edges and he had to lean against the wall for support. His mind? Someone had fucked with his mind? He couldn’t remember anything like that… but he wouldn’t, would he?

“There’s a chance you can break the spell.” Percy looked up, hope in his eyes. “There’s a chance.”

“And if I don’t?” Draco whispered. He now understood Harry’s desire to claw out of his body. He felt disgusting and trapped inside his own skin.

“You’ll go insane,” Percy confessed. He ran a hand through his frizzy red curls, brown eyes dark with worry. He sat at the edge of the tub in his blue and white-stripped pajamas. “The episodes will get closer and closer until that’s all that’s left. They’d lock you up in Saint Mungo’s. Potion you until you’re calm and leave you there.”

Draco understood; he’d be placed in an asylum. Harry wouldn’t leave him. He’d either be arrested or locked up too as the darkness was left unchecked. They’d maybe share cells next to each other. Draco clenched his fists and grit his teeth, fury washing his vision red. “That’s not going to fucking happen,” he vowed, dark and murderous.

Percy shivered at the tone. “No. I don’t think it will.”

The rage washed out as fast as it had come and nearly took him to his knees as terror washed in. What the fuck was he going to do to stop it? His mind had been fucked with. With painful clarity, he suddenly remembered Harry’s sweet voice saying, “You’re fighting it. And that means you’re going to beat it.” He saw the faith and trust in Percy’s eyes. They believed in him. And it hurt, that belief. Draco felt his breath quicken. Panic sat heavy on his chest. He turned his back, biting his lip to keep broken sounds behind his teeth.

Percy turned the hot water off as it neared the edge of the tub. He didn’t know what to do, what to say. Draco stood silently shaking, clinging to the cold bathroom wall to keep his feet. He looked about to shatter. Standing, Percy said, “I’ll be in your room since I gave my bed to Longbottom.” 

He didn’t know how to help, but he knew that him being there was only making it harder for the blond. Maybe he needed a minute to cry and gather his strength? Heart beating hard, he left Draco to his privacy and hoped to Merlin he was making the right choice. Slipping into the First-year dorm, he saw that Harry had put on his sleeping robe and had cleaned the room. There was no more blood on the walls, the furniture was put back in place, the middle bed was made neatly as if no one had touched it. Harry sat at the edge of the far right bed, but he got to his feet as Percy quietly entered. 

“He’s taking a bath,” Percy reassured him, trying to smile.

Harry smiled in relief, tension leaving his shoulders, and slowly sat back down. “Thank you, Percy. For taking care of him.” He felt a stab of jealousy, but it quickly faded. What was important was Draco. Whatever helped Draco was good and he was thankful.

Percy moved across the room and sat on the edge of the middle bed, facing Harry. He couldn’t see the bruises because Harry’s robe was covering them, but he knew they were there. He unconsciously moved his hand to push his glasses higher up his nose. His fingers met air; he hadn’t had time to put them on when Longbottom came banging on his door.

“Harry…” He cleared his throat. The boy stared at him attentively with bright green eyes behind round glasses. His hair was a mess, but it always was. A soft smile sat on his lips, ignorant to Percy’s worries. “Do they hurt?” He gestured weakly at Harry’s arms.

Harry frowned in confusion and then lit up with recognition. His hand cupped the back of his arm. Doing so had his sleeve falling down, revealing the bruises encircling his wrist. Now that Percy could see them more clearly and up close, they looked put there by a rope. The bruises were only on one side of the wrist, but they had distinctly round edges. If Harry’s wrists were tied together, the rope would only have gone around the outside as his inner wrists would have been pressed together.

“Not much,” Harry answered easily. 

He didn’t look afraid or ashamed or embarrassed. Percy was quite confused. “Did Draco do that to you?”

Harry nodded, his hand dropping casually into his lap. “Yes.” He looked up into Percy’s eyes, love filling his gaze. “Draco takes care of me.”

Now Percy was even more baffled. “But why would he hurt you?”

Harry’s smile fell, his eyes dropping to his lap where his fingers now tangled and twisted slowly together. “I need it,” he admitted. He looked back up at Percy. He’d always wondered why others didn’t understand. Dobby did, but no one else. Maybe Percy could understand. He wore Draco’s snake. Draco had marked him as one of his. “I need to belong to him. Without Draco…” Harry shuddered. “I… I was ugly… disgusting…” He shook his head, trying to find the right words. “You couldn’t touch me without getting filthy… I wasn't human… I was a thing, evil and vile. Sometimes other people can still see it… Like the ones who took us… They saw… Tried to clean me… It hurt so bad…” 

His eyes flashed up to Percy, surprisingly bright and clear. “But not like Draco! Draco doesn’t hurt me like they did… No he… He gets inside me, makes me his… makes me new. I’m not dirty or broken or evil. I’m Draco’s! I’m good! I take care of him and I can be a real person… Because nothing of Draco’s can be bad. Draco’s amazing! He… He makes all the bad feel good…” Harry blushed, remembering just how good Draco could make him feel. “You understand, don’t you?” he asked hopefully. “Draco marked you, too. It hurt, but it made you better. Being Draco’s makes everything better.”

Percy shared Harry’s blush. He couldn’t hold those earnest green eyes and looked toward the door. He kind of did understand actually, but at the same time it went against everything society taught him about, well, everything. Pain was bad. Hurting others was bad. Kids shouldn’t do those kinds of things… But at the same time pain could sometimes be okay. When a doctor was treating you, sometimes they had to hurt you more to make you well. Medicine was like that, too. And Draco was sort of like medicine, really. As for the sex… 

Well, what do you expect? Kids are innocent. They had found something that felt good, why would they stop? It’s like eating candy or cake. Kids didn’t understand how it could be bad for them, right? Draco and Harry made each other feel good, so why wouldn’t they? Percy had witnessed a few moments of them getting off. Draco had been rough, but Harry had always seemed to really like everything Draco did. 

Now bright red, Percy left the bed to put some distance between him and Harry and all these confusing, conflicting thoughts. He understood, but he didn’t. Bruised wrists and bites were way more violent than anything he’d seen the boys do together that was for sure, but Harry was comfortable and happy. He wasn’t embarrassed to talk about it at all. There was no shame in his voice or expression. And the way he had talked about himself… It sent shivers of horror up and down Percy’s spine. To hear such horrible things said in a child’s voice… It made him feel sick. Whatever had made Harry feel that way seemed way more horrific than the bites and bruises that Harry seemed perfectly happy to wear.

They sat in silence after that. Percy began to get nervous as an hour passed. Should he check on the blond? Harry was staring at him expectantly now, silently asking where Draco was. Percy bit his lip. He should go check. He stood just as Draco stepped into the room, hair damp from his bath, his cheeks red from the heat of the water. The blond looked better, if a little tired. Harry immediately went to his side. Draco pulled him into a hug, rubbing his cheek against the side of Harry’s head.

“I’m okay,” he promised. He pushed Harry gently away to look into his eyes. “You okay?”

Harry nodded quickly, but Draco had seen the scratches at his throat.

Eyes narrowed, he pressed three fingers at Harry’s mouth. Harry opened his lips immediately to accept them inside. Draco was soft and gentle. His other hand came to rest at Harry’s throat, his thumb stroking over the leather collar. When his fingers were wet enough, he slipped them out of Harry’s soft, warm mouth and spread the boy’s healing magic over the scratches and cuts. He pulled aside the robe to make sure to heal the ones on the boy’s slender shoulders. 

Percy watched all this from several feet away. His shoulders loosened and he could feel the tension easing out of his body. Draco was so gentle and conscientious. It was clear how much he adored Harry. He really did take care of him. Percy would keep an eye on Harry, but for now he didn't know what to say about the bruises. 

xXx

Draco never did go back to sleep. He sat watching over Harry sleeping next to him and Percy asleep in the next bed. They both had been exhausted. Truth be told, Draco was too, but he couldn’t sleep, not with the thought of his mind being fucked with. If that was true, there was no cure. They’d just have to wait to see if he beat it or went crazy, clearly his mind wouldn’t give up fighting whatever it was. 

It was only a few hours later when Neville stepped nervously into the room. Draco was already dressed and writing at the desk. He stood and went to the other boy. Neville squeaked in surprise as he was pulled into a tight hug.

“Thank you, Neville. You really helped me out. I swear I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

“What did happen?” Neville asked. He’d been scared Draco would be just as he was last night and he was painfully relieved to see that Percy had been able to fix it. 

“Someone cast a spell on my mind and it didn’t take. Not all the way,” Draco told him honestly. He wrapped his arm around the boy’s shoulders and walked him toward Neville’s bed. He sat his friend down and crouched so he could look up at the other boy. Neville’s eyes were wide in a very pale face. He gently took the boy’s limp hands. “I know it’s scary and I can’t really expect you to believe me, but I’m fighting whatever they did to me. I might have more of those episodes, but I promise I’m going to do everything I can to beat this, okay?”

“We need to tell someone!” Neville exclaimed. Images of his parents burned bright in his mind. He clamped his hands down around Draco’s, suddenly desperate and terrified. “You need help!”

Harry and Percy had been woken by their talking and were watching from their beds. They said nothing, letting Draco handle it.

Draco soothed him, making a hushing noise, as he stood and wrapped Neville into a hug again. He was surprised at the strength of the boy’s reaction, but now wasn’t the time to question it. “I would, Neville, but there’s nothing anyone can do to help. It’s something I gotta do on my own. There’s even a chance they’d want to lock me up until I broke through it.” He pulled away to look into the boy’s wide brown eyes. “Neville, that would only make me worse. You understand, don’t you?”

Neville nodded. He totally got that. He loved his parents, mourned their loss every day, but visiting them in that place was very difficult. It was a horrible place to be. He held tight to Draco’s hands. Draco had been hurt - Someone had attacked his mind! - and Neville had run away. “Is there anything I can do?”

Draco’s blond hair fell from behind his left ear as he tilted his head with a cocky smile. “Keep being a good friend. That’s all I need.”

Neville smiled, lips wobbling, as tears filled his eyes. He flung his arms around Draco’s neck and gave him a hug. 

Draco hugged him back, briefly stroking his hair before pulling away. “Get dressed. We all need a good breakfast.”

Neville wiped his face and went to get his clothes.

They went downstairs together. Oliver, Hermione, and Ron were waiting for them. Hermione and Ron became really suspicious as Oliver asked Draco if everything was okay. Draco assured him he was fine, but there were faint circles around his eyes. Neville and Hermione fell back to whisper heatedly together and Harry promised to explain things to Ron later. They ran into the twins halfway down. They were cackling, so they most likely had been pranking someone. 

At breakfast there was an announcement. Each Head of House would be compiling a list to see which students would be staying over the Yule break. There would be a list posted on the common room bulletin board in each House and those staying should place their name on it.

“We’ll be staying,” Draco announced, voice quiet but firm.

“We’ll ask,” Hermione offered, referring to her and Neville, but her tone of voice made it clear it might not be possible. 

Ron frowned. Yule would be a perfect time for the thief to go after the stone. Draco and Harry couldn’t defend it by themselves! “I’ll tell Mum I’m staying, too.”

Percy paused, fork halfway to his mouth. 

Fred and George shared looks.“Yule at Hogwarts,” Fred exclaimed as if it were some novel idea. “What a wonderful idea!” George concluded. He flung his arm around Ron’s shoulders with an enormous grin. “Why don’t we all stay?” the twins said together.

Percy nodded his agreement.

“Sounds fun,” Harry said casually, mask in place, and gave them all a thankful smile. He leaned supportively against Draco’s shoulder. The more help he could gather around the blond, the happier he’d be.

- love determination protective - 

Chapter end.

 

Chapter Text

A/N: Warning! Child Abuse, child molestation, slavery, sexual slavery, human trafficking, drug use (mild?), non-con, shota, a lot of profanity

Seeking Help

Draco staggered over to the tub of hot water that Percy had prepared for him. He felt numb, but at the same time like he would shatter if he moved too fast. He couldn’t stop thinking about it. Someone had gotten inside him, changed him, and he would never have known. The only consolation he had was that he was somehow rejecting what had been done to him, but no matter how he fought, it was too late. He couldn’t undo the violation. 

Draco’s legs collapsed and he sank to his knees. His head tilted back, his face twisted in agony, and he screamed so loudly his veins corded on his neck. Gasping, he bent forward, slamming his fists on the cold tile, pressing his forehead hard against the ground. 

The surge of rage and fear passed and left him once more feeling numb and vulnerable. He was exhausted. The simple act of bathing seemed beyond him. He trembled as Harry’s love and worry emotions hummed through the bond… Harry’s scar bleeding a thin trail of ruby… Harry’s small body heaving and shaking… the way the darkness seemed be waiting to pull him under… Harry needed him. Draco couldn’t fall apart. Not now. Voldemort would win the battle over Harry’s soul if he broke now. 

Draco felt the panic well up again. The sick idea of someone getting inside his head mixed with images of being raped and he hovered on the brink of a flashback. His Occlumency kicked in, locking it away for later. “Fuck!” Draco screamed hoarsely. He stared blindly ahead, panting and furious. “Get up, you bastard. Get up!” Beating his hands against the floor one last time, Draco forced himself to his feet. His vision greyed. He wouldn’t make it. Not like this. It would take him days to find his center again. He didn’t have that kind of time.

Staggering, forcing one foot ahead of the other, Draco abandoned the bathroom. Arms wrapped around his thin torso, he forced himself down the cold, stone hallway and up two flights of stairs. Like last time, the door wasn’t locked. He stumbled across the dark room, snores and soft breathing filling the small space. He pulled open the bed hangings of a specific bed and practically fell onto two pairs of legs. He was shaking again, his teeth chattering loudly. His feet were painful blocks of ice.

“Who’s it?” a sleepy voice called in the darkness before the soft glow of a wand tip illuminated the space around them.

Draco was crying, tears streaking his pale face, eyes puffy and bloodshot, tormented as he looked up at George. “Please…” he whispered. “I need… something… please, I know you have potions… I just… I need to think straight… just for a minute…”

George stared in horror at the little boy. He swished his bed curtains closed, activating the silencing and privacy wards, and sat up. He immediately flung the comforter around the boy’s shaking shoulders. “Shit, Draco, what happened?” he demanded, short red hair mussed from sleep and wide brown eyes filled with worry.

“George?” Fred sat up, woken by the movement and cold as the comforter was removed. His expression creased with worry identical to his brother’s when he registered Draco’s trembling frame at the foot of their bed.

“Please…” Draco begged, curling in on himself.

“Get Pomfrey,” George ordered his brother as he wrapped Draco in his arms.

“No!” With surprising force, Draco shoved George away from him. “No. No adults. No fucking adults.” His grey eyes flashed up and pierced first Fred and then George. “I just need something to settle my nerves. I have flashbacks. Of when I was a fucking sex slave, okay? Just please help me. I’ll be fine. I’ll be fine,” he repeated, crumbling into tears again. “Fuck…” he rasped, squeezing his torso in an effort to hold himself together. He was falling apart, couldn’t they fucking see that? Someone had fucked with his fucking mind and he couldn’t remember any of it! He had no idea what had been done to him! Harry needed him to get it together, goddamn it! Couldn’t they see he was fucking begging them for help?

“Alright…” George lifted his hands, palms out, in a sign of peace. He shot his brother a look. Fred looked back. George nodded. “I’ll get you something. Hold on.”

Fred watched his brother leave and turned a concerned frown on the blond who looked one minute away from a complete meltdown. Sex slave? That hadn’t been in the papers, he thought, horrified. Bloody hell

Draco took deep breaths. He thought about Harry and his promises, but it was like trying to catch the end of a writhing snake. He wasn’t weak, damn it! He was strong! He just had to goddamn breathe! He’d been through this before… held down, beaten, raped, bled and tortured… He’d won; Raymond had fucking died like the animal he was! But this time thinking about the past made him feel weak instead of strong. He’d been small and scared and it had hurt so fucking much. It had destroyed him in ways he still didn’t comprehend. He didn’t honestly think he could survive that again. He really didn’t. 

George returned to see Draco rocking back and forth at the foot of the bed, eyes staring blankly at nothing. Fred’s hands hovered in the air, hesitating on touching the boy, clearly terrified of making things worse. He shot his twin a desperate look.

“Draco…” George called unsurely. Dead grey eyes slowly shifted over to him. George shivered. “I have something. It’s a lot more powerful than a Calming Draught. It will make you feel floaty. Clear your mind. Lots of kids strung out before the big exams take it.” He lifted a test tube full of a thick, pale blue substance. “How much do you weigh, do you know?”

“Seventy-seven pounds,” Draco answered in a monotone with hollow edges. 

George looked to Fred to double check his math. 

Fred answered, echoing the number he’d come up with, “Thirty-five kilos, so…” 

George nodded. “About seven milliliters, then.” He cast a spell at the tube and a good third of it vanished. He hadn’t expected the kid to be so light, but come to think of it, Ron was tall for his age. That’s why he probably weighed more. He handed the vial to Draco.

The boy stared at it blankly for a long second before he unwound his arm stiffly from his torso and reached for it with a numb hand. The blue goop had an iridescent shine to it. Draco didn’t think it would help. The feelings inside him were too strong, howling and tearing him to shreds. He’d been stupid to come. Stupid to think there was any hope. There was no such thing in this ugly fucking world. 

He tipped the vial back. The thick potion slid out almost the consistency of jello. It had no flavor, but it made his tongue and throat tingle. It settled in his belly and expanded, warming up gradually until he blinked and realized he was breathing easily. Most of his shaking slowly stopped except what was caused by the cold. He blinked and two identical faces stared back at him worriedly. He gave a tentative smile, testing to see if he still could. His lips curled upward obediently, but the expression fell as he sighed and took stock. He didn’t feel great or suddenly invincible, but the screaming inside had been silenced. He’d been cut free. 

“How long will it last?” he asked quietly, cold sweat slowly drying on his skin.

“Twenty-four hours give or take.” Fred waffled his hand back and forth. 

“It depends on each persons receptibility and the size of the dose,” George continued. 

“We think we got it right, though,” Fred added. “So it should last you until tonight.”

Draco nodded. He reached forward and caught George’s hand. “Thanks,” he said quietly, sincerity shining in his eyes.

George nodded, but he wasn’t happy. “You need to talk to someone.” 

Fred agreed and asked carefully, “How often does this happen?”

“Not often,” Draco answered honestly. He looked away, unable to meet their gaze. “I saw a Mind Healer. He taught me a spell that helps me manage it, but…” He hesitated and then decided to trust the two. He met their eyes. “Someone recently cast a spell on my mind and it messed me up a bit. Scrambled my control.”

The twins gave him solemn looks as they said together, “You need to tell Dumbledore.”

Draco nodded, neither agreeing nor disagreeing. He climbed from the bed. “I got to get back. Harry will be worried.” Fred and George shared a look, but Draco already knew what they were worried about and added, “Percy’s staying with us tonight.”

The twins relaxed a little at that.

Draco thanked them again and slipped from the room on silent feet. It was fucking freezing and he hurried back to the warm bath he had left behind. He had a lot to think about while the artificial peace gave him room to breathe.

xXx

He made it through the next school day, but after their last class Draco felt as if there was an hourglass in his head and the last of the sand was quickly trickling through his fingers. He stood and took Harry by the hand. His friends called after them, but Draco ignored them, pulling Harry into a shadowed hallway. He made sure no one had followed him and slipped into an unused classroom. At the back, there was a tapestry that hid a secret passage. 

“I’m going to talk to Dumbledore,” Draco said calmly, still towing Harry by his hand. Suddenly he stopped, took a deep breath, and faced the other boy. “I took something from the twins that’s kept me calm, but that’s going to wear off soon. I’m going to need you.”

Harry looked solemnly into Draco’s eyes - love determination protective. “I’ll be strong, Draco,” he promised. He thrilled at the chance to take care of the blond. He loved him so much.

Draco released Harry’s hand in order to cup his boy’s face in his palms. He stepped forward and gently pressed their lips together. Sliding his tongue into Harry’s mouth, he deepened the kiss. Harry kissed him back, coiling his arms around Draco’s neck and filling Draco’s chest with a powerful surge of - love devotion. Draco pulled away, smiling a soft smile that only Harry ever saw. He carded his hand through Harry’s dark, tangled hair. “Love you,” he whispered.

“Love you, Draco,” Harry echoed back, catching Draco’s hand in his.

Draco smiled for a moment longer, staring into Harry’s eyes, before turning and continuing to the Headmaster’s Tower. They didn’t speak, they didn’t need to. They ascended the moving stairs up to Dumbledore’s office door in perfect sync.

“My boys! What can I do for you?” Dumbledore asked cheerfully. “I was just preparing to go down to dinner.” 

He was standing by the stairs that lead to his personal apartment in brilliant white and red heavy winter robes. Fawkes sat perched next to him, red and gold feathers a blaze of glory. The bird trilled, the sound sweet and pure. Draco found the song clearing his mind, slowing the sand trickling away in his head, and he gave a polite smile of gratitude to the bird. 

“We need to talk,” he said calmly. “Sit with me. This might take a few minutes.”

Dumbledore looked genuinely curious. He led the boys across the room to his desk and took the seat behind it, gesturing to the two chairs placed in front of it with a benevolent hand. “What can I do for you? I hope there hasn’t been any more trouble?” he asked in concern.

Draco took one of the seats, but Harry decided to stand at his side to be closer. Harry's eyes dropped to where their fingers were linked together on the armrest. Draco’s hands were a tiny bit bigger, his fingers pale and slender but strong. They were warm, too. He shivered in pleasure as Draco’s thumb unconsciously swiped across his palm. 

Draco eyed the old man before him. He was powerful and vastly more knowledgeable, but Draco couldn’t fathom what the crazy bastard was thinking. He was screwing everything up, making so many mistakes. At least, from Draco’s perspective. 

Dumbledore stared back at the two children, his smile falling as the silence stretched. The Malfoy heir stared at him as if he were a bug to be dissected while Harry looked downward, standing stoically at the blond’s side, their hands entwined.

“I’ve been attacked,” Draco finally voiced. “My mind has been violated and altered.”

Dumbledore tensed, staring across the desk. “My dear boy, that is a serous accusation…”

Draco cut him off. “Cut the crap, old man.” The words were disrespectful, but his tone remained level and calm. “We both know that there is an agent in this very school working for Voldemort, trying to get the Philosopher’s Stone. A stone that could possibly bring Voldemort back to full power. A stone that you could destroy but have not yet done so because you lack permission. And that person attacked me, Dumbledore. Did something to my mind.”

Dumbledore leaned back, expression grave. “Permission is not to be so carelessly disregarded, Mr. Malfoy. As it is, I am bound to protect the stone and will do so until I am able to convince Nicholas to change his mind. It was one of the costs of convincing my old friend to let me protect it. Had I not made that promise, Voldemort would already have the stone as you well know by the break-in that happened the very night I was able to transport it to safety.”

Draco considered that. The problem was that Dumbledore had too much ranking. None of Dumbledore’s people would go against his order and destroy it. Even though they probably understood that Dumbledore had been forced to make that promise and it wasn’t actually the best strategic choice. That meant Draco and the others would have to move forward as planned and Draco would have to do it himself. “And the attack on me? How is it that you were unaware of such a thing?” he asked lowly. He thought about Percy, about Lily Potter. “How many students have had their minds broken and you sat here with no clue?”

“Contrary to popular belief. I am not all powerful, my boy. No witch or wizard is,” Dumbledore said sadly. “As it stands, most of the Mind Arts are of surpassing difficulty and the punishment for committing such an act is quite severe. Attacks of that nature are exceedingly rare.” 

Dumbledore sat there calmly, back straight, hands folded before him on the desk, lecturing as if they were talking about some classroom theory. Draco’s temper slowly grew. His hand tightened around Harry’s. Harry stood alert. Ready to jump in at any moment, his attention riveted to the blond at his side. 

Dumbledore continued, oblivious. “This is a very good thing as wards, unfortunately, cannot detect Mind Magic as it is not inherently Dark. The Obliviate is the exception, of course, as it is a spell with the sole purpose of destroying or erasing memories, but Legilimecy attacks, as well as the Imperius Curse, their purpose is to change or alter not destroy.”

Draco stared unblinking at the supposedly powerful and wise wizard across from him. Voice as cold as the arctic, he said, “You’re wrong. They do destroy.”

Dumbledore’s eyes widened before they softened. A compassionate expression softened his features. “I’m sorry, my boy. That was callous of me. I do not mean to say it is not a horrific act to alter another person’s mind.” He stared kindly over his glasses. “It pains me more than you can know to learn that you have suffered so here at this school. I will do all in my power to discover who is behind this horrible attack.”

Why did that sound like an empty promise? Draco took a deep breath, trying to remain calm. After a moment, he was able to say, words clipped and sharp, “What about me?”

Dumbledore steepled his fingers. “I believe you are aware of Occlumency.”

Draco nodded his head once.

“That is the only way to heal and reorganize your mind, I’m afraid. Of course, there are potions that can help make you more receptive or induce a trance-like state to help, but that’s all anyone can really do to help you.” Blue eyes sparkled as Dumbledore gave Draco a confident smile. “I have faith in your ability to recover, my boy. You have a very unique mind, after all.” 

Coldly, Draco growled. “Faith?” His eyes glittered with rage.

Dumbledore’s smile fell as he began to sense not all was well with the boy. He tried to reassure the child. “The fact that you are rejecting whatever alteration may have been made proves that your mind is not easily manipulated. Most people do not realize they have been altered unless someone else points it out to them. The trouble then becomes that that person is now who they are. To alter them in an attempt to return them to their former self is in essence committing the same crime, so not much progress or experimentation has been done in that area.”

“That’s a load of crap,” Draco declared, eyes narrowed on the older wizard.

“Is it?” Dumbledore looked at the boy curiously. “If Harry could be altered, say to be a regular child with no trauma, to be the boy he was meant to be before he was subjected to abuse, would you allow it even knowing it would change who he is at a fundamental level?”

Draco bared his teeth. “I’m not talking about rewriting a whole past. I’m taking about correcting the damage created by someone attacking another person’s mind!”

“So you are,” Dumbledore agreed calmly. “But you do understand my point as well?”

Draco understood in the sense that he could comprehend the words coming out of Dumbledore’s mouth, but it was still a load of bullshit. “In essence you are saying that the person after being mind raped is a new person and so can’t be mind raped a second time to fix the first mind rape.”

Dumbledore’s expression was completely shocked at the boy’s crude choice of words. “Mr. Malfoy…”

“Well, to hell with that thinking, sir,” Draco drawled the title with heavy sarcasm, grey eyes flashing silver. “I’m talking about healing something real. You’re talking about philosophical crap that doesn’t fucking matter! If you think for one moment someone doesn’t bare marks, damaging marks, after being mentally attacked, you are very much mistaken. And to leave a person in that state because of some theoretical shit about protecting their current personality is cruel.” 

Fire burned through Draco’s veins. The potion the twins had given him was running out. Vicious anger and helplessness and fear were churning beneath the surface. Terrors held at bay by Occlumency flickered in the shadows of his mind, ready to pounce. It made Draco dangerous. It took him back to the time when he’d been savage and bloodthirsty. Dumbledore literally leaned back as the boy’s expression became feral and wild, his voice thick with threat.

“I say put your theory to the test,” Draco hissed, leaning forward. “Why don’t you hike those robes up and bend over this fucking desk. We could call up…” His mouth twisted into a cruel smile. “…Snape. Harry and I will watch as he knocks all your magic aside like it’s nothing and rapes your ass and mouth and degrades you in the most brutal way. He’ll hurt you, truly hurt you, and you won’t be able to stop it or talk your way out of it because you won’t fucking matter beyond the fact that you can give Snape pleasure. He’ll make you scream in agony and you’ll actually believe him when he calls you a slut and a filthy whore because he’ll make you cum. You’ll cum even as he’s making you bleed. Even that will be his. I dare you, Dumbledore. I dare you to know what it feels like to have your body stolen from you and made into a thing, just a fucking tool for another man’s pleasure.” Draco was panting now, eyes wild and dark and cruel. “Tell me after that if you would turn down the chance of being healed afterward because it would ‘destroy who you are now’.” His fingers stabbed at the desk with every word. “I’d like to see you stop yourself from laughing in the asshole’s face who says that because what the fuck do they know about being destroyed?”

Draco came to his feet, leaning in closer to the older wizard. He thrilled in the horror in Dumbledore’s eyes, the tears streaking his face and wetting his beard.Are you picturing it, Dumbledore? Well, let me tell you it’s a thousand times worse than what you can possibly imagine. Increase that thousand to a million times worse when it’s your fucking mind that’s invaded, the very core of who you are attacked!” Draco slammed his palms flat to the desk. The noise making Dumbledore flinch. “Now tell me that coming up with a cure is complicated and shouldn’t be done,” his hissed in absolute disgust, eyes diamond hard as he stared hatefully across at the Headmaster. 

The Headmaster’s lips parted a few times, as if he were trying to speak, but nothing came out.

Draco gave a cold little smile and re-took his seat. Voice and face suddenly masked into something resembling calm, he continued, “I have to say, Dumbledore. I’m not really impressed. Harry and I are fucking essential if you don’t want your pathetic little world to go up in flames and yet you’re doing a really piss poor job of protecting us. We need time, Dumbledore. Time to grow up. If you can’t get us that, then what fucking good are you?” He flicked a gyrating metal circular thing that sat on Dumbledore’s desk and it toppled to the floor with a clatter.

As Dumbledore’s continued to stare mutely, his attention shifted to Harry as the boy lifted his head for the first time and entered the decidedly disturbing conversation. His hair no longer shielding his face, Harry looked surprisingly fierce. His green eyes were hard with stone cold determination. He looked Dumbledore dead in the eye and said coldly, “You better be able to help Draco.” He didn’t bother with an ‘or else’, but it hung heavy in the air between them anyway.

“My boys… I never said I wouldn’t help you,” Dumbledore protested softly. He stood shakily, his red and white robes swishing softly as he moved. He leaned heavily on the desk, as if he would fall without that support, and sat in the chair next to the boys. “What happened to you both is beyond anything any human being should ever have to endure.” 

Tearfully, he reached for them. Harry shifted his body between the old man and Draco so that Dumbledore grabbed his arm instead of Draco’s hand. The blond was tensed as a drawn bow. Harry knew the signs of an impending flashback and was in full-blown protector mode. Unaware of how on edge the children were, Dumbledore looked at the boys with soulful eyes filled with empathy and compassion. Lips trembled in his white beard, and when he spoke, his voice was thick with emotion.

“I am so proud of you both for coming and asking for help. I had no idea that you had been attacked, Draco. Of course I will help you.” Dumbledore released Harry’s arm and straightened in his chair. “I have books of incredible value that will guide you on how to strengthen your Occlumency. I will also contact a Mind Healer if you should think that would help, although I caution you that anyone, even an ally, entering your mind right now could further damage it.” 

“If you summoned a healer, could you keep it from my parents?” Draco asked. He leaned back in the chair, his posture relaxing now that they were talking about concrete solutions. 

Dumbledore lifted his eyebrows in surprise.

Draco sneered. “Don’t pretend you don’t understand. If Narcissa and Lucius find out my mind was attacked, they’ll take me out of Hogwarts. It won’t matter what I have to say about it. And I’m not leaving until I know the stone is out of Voldemort’s reach for good. It’s too important. Harry’s at stake.” Draco’s eyes hardened once more. “But don’t think that doesn’t mean I won’t walk right out of here with Harry if I think the danger has become too much. We’re awfully close to that point now, Dumbledore.”

Dumbledore smiled, the twinkle coming back into his eyes. It was faint as he was still reeling over Draco’s little speech, but it was there. “I understand, my boy. I will support any decision you make.” He stood, hands grasping his robes to free his feet to walk. He moved to the bookcase partially hidden by the stairs that lead up to the Headmaster’s apartment. “I would indeed have to inform your parents if I called a healer to the school, but I am certain the books will help you more than a healer could. In the meantime, I will work harder on Nicholas. He will be appalled that you have suffered such an attack and I’ll double my efforts to discover the Dark agent at the school.” 

Dumbledore returned with three books. One was the size of a textbook, bound in battered and torn black leather. The other two were smaller and thinner, the size of journals. One looked almost new, the leather cover a deep blood red. The last was brown and as worn as the larger one.  Harry released Draco’s hand to accept the books with a soft thank you. Draco stood and met Dumbledore’s eyes.

“I’ll let you know if they help.” 

“Thank you, my boy. If you need me for anything at all, you are always welcome here,” Dumbledore said gently, staring sadly over the rims of his half-moon glasses. 

Draco gave a final nod and led the way to the door, Harry trailing after him. 

Back in the school, Draco wrapped his arms around his torso. They had been talking to Dumbledore long enough that dinner had started, so fortunately the halls were empty and so was the common room. He blinked as he realized he was already standing in the center of their dorm room. He was only vaguely aware of Harry shutting the door behind him and then he was somewhere else…

Draco glared resentfully at his Master’s back as he was made to crawl to the showroom with a fucking cinderblock balanced on his back. It was heavy as shit and seemed to get heavier with every passing second. Draco was cursing under his breath and sweating profusely by the time he made it to the showroom.  Master walked beside him, crop in hand. He cracked Draco hard across his already welt-laden ass. The cinderblock trembled, almost falling off, as Draco tensed and hissed at the agonizing sting. There were three men there. They looked up from the kids they had chosen and laughed at Draco’s humiliation.

One of the men, fat and bald with brown eyes and greying beard, called out,“If looks could kill, Raymond, I think you’d be dead!” The girl he’d chosen was lying across his thighs on her back, her legs spread as he thrust thick fingers into her folds. A particularly harsh jab made her whimper and burst into helpless sobs. She was ignored.

“Don’t know if I’d appreciate my slave lookin’ at me like that,” the one in the middle said darkly. He was practically drooling over the boy shivering on his lap, barely sparing Draco or Raymond a glance.

The fucking block was really starting to hurt his back now, felt like it’d snap his spine in two. Draco glared murderously up at his Master. The fuck did he want from him?!

Master stared back, a sick smirk gracing his features. “Take it to the table.” 

Draco crawled across the room, panting and sweating, until he reached the low, table-like stage that sat in the middle of the room. Raymond kicked the block off of Draco’s bare back. Draco hissed as it took a fair bit of skin with it.

“Bring yours here, Mr. Wilson,” Raymond told one of the clients. 

The bald one got up. He sat her on the table. His right hand glistened from when he’d had it pressed inside her. She was still crying.  Draco was trying to catch his breath, sitting on his butt, his knees bent beside him in a frog-like position. His back throbbed; his arms burned. Raymond grabbed him by his oily, blond hair and hefted him to his feet.

“Draco will do the honors,” he drawled. “We do it and it would take the damn thing right off. Draco will do it just right. Won’t you, slut?”

Draco had no idea what the fucker wanted. His heart was slamming in his ribcage, anxiety making his skin crawl and his head spin.

“You’re gonna make sure Mr. Wilson’s precious will never be able to get away from him.”

Draco stared as the big man held the girl’s leg out with a punishing grip on her thigh. Suddenly he knew what the bastards wanted him to do and felt sick to his stomach.

“Aim for the ankle and shin,” Raymond said softly, bending down to speak directly into Draco’s ear. “You mess this up, slut, I’ll bash your face in with it.”

In his mind’s eye, Draco saw that heavy block rushing at his face, could imagine the crunch of bone, the way his face would break, the horrific pain and death that would follow. Fuck! With that terrifying promise ringing in his ears, Draco bent and hefted the heavy weapon. He wished he could reach the Master. He’d gladly burst his head open! He’d beat him with it until his skull was pulp! 

As if from a distance, Draco felt himself lift the cinderblock over his head. His legs and arms shook with effort. The girl was screaming in terror now. Mr. Wilson was watching with wide, excited eyes as he held her down. Draco focused on the thin limb held out for him and brought the cinderblock down with all his strength. He could feel the brutal crunch all the way up his arms. The girl flung her head back and shrieked in agony.

“Good. Now the other one!” Mr. Wilson ordered. He straightened her other leg. The girl was thrashing, hysterical, but he easily held her flat.

Draco could hardly breathe. Shit, he was tired and this was a lot of fucking work. He looked to Raymond, wiping sweat from his face. 

“Do it,” his master ordered, eyes cold.

Draco grimaced and struggled to get the heavy cinderblock over his head again. He gave a little yell as he brought it down. It took him off his feet this time and he clung to the block to keep himself from falling. The girl made a sound like a wounded animal before passing out. Both ankles were twisted in unnatural positions, her shins looked slightly misshapen. Already some swelling began to appear. Draco knew he should be horrified, but he felt kind of floaty.  Raymond wrapped the girls feet, ankles, and shins in tight bandages. He gave a brief lecture on the best way to make them heal pretty but still hinder her mobility.

“Cuddle her a lot. Be sweet and she’ll love you for breaking her legs,” Raymond advised, laughing. 

Draco shuddered, desperately glad he was never cuddled by his Master. 

Finally the men left with their new property. Raymond stared down at him and Draco felt the numbness fade. Could feel his heart begin to beat harder. Terror brought tears to his eyes. He knew that look. Master was about to hurt him, hurt him bad.

“Put your arm on the table.”

Draco stared up at the bastard and set his jaw. He didn’t move. He wasn’t going to help Raymond hurt him. He wasn’t one of those fucking brainwashed kids.

Raymond bent down slowly, never breaking eye contact. He lifted Draco’s arm and placed it on the table. Draco was shaking at this point.  “You’re nothing but my fucking toy, slut,” Master said with brutal honesty. “I can do whatever the fuck I want. Now if you move your fucking arm even an inch, I swear to god…” He bent close. Close enough that Draco could feel his hot breath against his face. “I’ll fucking rip it off completely.” He grabbed Draco’s wrist and pulled hard. Draco’s chest came up hard against the side of the table and his socket almost gave. He gave a choked cry of pain, free hand scrabbling helplessly at the table. 

“I won’t! Fuck! I won’t fucking move!” Draco screamed, sobbing in both anger and fear.

Raymond laughed and let go of Draco’s wrist. Draco kept his arm still. Even as Raymond picked up the cinderblock. The echo of that girl’s legs breaking, the feel of it, the sound of her screams… Draco began to hyperventilate between his sobs. He was terrified, but if he moved he knew Raymond would do as he promised and cripple him. He had to stay strong. He had to stay strong so he could kill this fucker once and for all! His left hand came up to hold his right arm still at the bicep. He was shaking like a leaf. 

Raymond didn’t slam the cinderblock down with all his strength like Draco had. Instead he brought it as high as he could and simply dropped it. It fell like a hammer. Draco’s vision went black; pain shot up his arm as the two bones in his forearm fractured. He went limp, wheezing and crying, pinned in place by the heavy concrete cinderblock.  He hardly even felt it when the Master grabbed him by the hair with one hand to keep his head steady and began to jack off with the other, aiming his dick at his agony-contorted face. He felt the bastard cum, though. Felt it hit his tear-soaked face. Could taste it on his lips. Draco hated him so fucking much!

“I’ll kill you,” he promised hoarsely, tears and cum dripping down his flushed cheeks.

Raymond laughed and kicked the block off his arm. Draco screamed. He kept screaming as Raymond wrapped tight bandages around his arm to hold the bones mostly in place.

xXx

Neville opened the door to their dorm and immediately froze. Draco stood close to the center of the room facing the center bed that wasn’t usually used. Harry was standing next to him, talking softly but not touching the other boy. Green eyes glanced Neville’s way but then went back to looking at Draco. Hesitantly, Neville shut the door and stepped over to his bed. It gave him a better view of Draco’s face. His heart sank into his stomach. Draco was staring blindly forward. He was crying and the expression on his face was a mask of pain and anger. Looking down, Neville noticed Draco was clutching his right forearm with his left hand. He wondered if Draco had hurt it.

Harry’s soft, gentle words could just barely be heard over the blond’s harsh breathing. “You’re safe, Draco. You’re at Hogwarts. I’m here. I’m not going to let anyone hurt you. It’s okay. Come back. You’re not there anymore. We’re safe now…”

Neville tore his eyes away from the two and stared helplessly down at his bed. He didn’t know what to do to help. This wasn’t anything like what had happened last night. Draco wasn’t scary or violent. He looked devastated, and the way Harry was speaking, so soft and full of love, brought tears to his eyes. Draco was hurting! He was hurting bad! Neville’s fists clenched in helplessness.

“Neville,” Harry called. His voice still soft, his tone soothing. “Can you get Draco and my pajamas and robe out for me. Lay them on the bed. Draco’s going to be really tired when he comes out of this.”

Neville nodded quickly, surprised he was being allowed to help. “Yes, of course,” he said softly, trying to match Harry’s tone.

He hurried to the armoire his friends shared. Harry talked him through where their night clothes were kept and Neville set them out on the bed. He drew the curtains closed on their bed except for on the right side where they could climb in and pulled down the sheets. He went around the room, turning off the lamps until only the one by his bed was lit. The whole time Harry kept talking to Draco softly, encouraging him, but he never once touched him. 

Neville watched from the corner of his eyes as he changed and got ready for bed. He was just crawling under the covers when Draco seemed to shudder with a loud gasp and blink his eyes. Harry immediately enfolded him in a hug. At first Draco allowed it, a confused sound rising up his throat, but then he pushed Harry away, arms wrapped tightly around his torso.

“I’m fine,” he rasped, even as he shook violently. 

Neville wisely lay still, pretending to be asleep as the blond glanced in his direction.

He peeked open his eyes to see Harry hovering by the blond’s side as they changed for bed. Neville thought he saw dark spots on Harry’s chest and stomach, but it must have been weird shadows. Then the boys were crawling into their curtained bed. Neville could hear them softly murmuring to each other for a few minutes and then there was silence. 

Neville finally reached over to put out his light. He lay on his back and stared at the ceiling. He had no idea what his friends had been through, but he was beginning to understand that it was something truly horrible. He felt determination well up in his chest. He was going to help them. He didn’t care what he had to do; he was going to help them!

Chapter end.

 

Chapter Text

A/N: Opening scene is M for Mature.

Calm Before the Storm

There was something warm and wet sucking gently at his neck. Harry groaned, his nipples hard and tingling with every soft suck. His eyes fluttered open. Soft golden lamplight spilled in between the crack in the bed curtains, softly illuminating the bed. Harry groaned again as Draco’s warm hands slid up the back of his arms, lifting them and pressing them up beside his head. His hands gently pinned his wrists. The soft open-mouthed kisses continued until Harry practically melted into a puddle, his member growing stiff and hot, the tip tingling. 

“Draco…” he moaned, eyes fluttering. The blond hummed against his throat, making Harry squirm. 

Pulling away, Draco looked deep into Harry’s eyes. With a soft voice, he whispered, “I’m sorry.”

Harry didn’t need to know what for. He already knew. Harry lifted his head enough to kiss Draco’s sweet lips. “It’s okay, Draco. You didn’t hurt me bad.”

Draco’s lips quirked, his eyebrow cocked. “Because you fought me off, didn’t you? You made sure I didn’t hurt you.”

Harry blushed red at the pride shining in Draco’s eyes. “I knew you wouldn’t like it if you’d hurt me.”

Draco’s eyes went molten. He leaned down so that his mouth was just above Harry’s. “You’re such a good boy,” he practically purred and kissed him hard, his tongue diving in deep before backing off to lap at the inside of Harry’s mouth.

Joy caught in Harry’s chest, bringing tears to his eyes. His whole body burned with embarrassment at the praise even as he thrilled in it. He’d been good! Harry moaned into Draco’s dominating kiss, sucking hungrily on the blond’s tongue. A deep ache settled between his legs and Harry squirmed, rubbing his thighs together. Draco kissed him until his head spun and his lungs burned. When Draco finally pulled away, Harry was panting for air, helplessly pinned by the hands holding his wrists firmly above his head. 

“Draco…” he begged softly, tears catching on his long, dark lashes.

Draco grinned, all teeth and pleasure. His cheeks were flushed with desire. “I think you deserve a reward, Harry. For being such a good boy.”

Harry panted, his hips jerking slightly, his cock throbbing. “Please…”

“Keep your hands up there. No touching,” Draco purred. 

“Yes, Draco…” Harry groaned obediently even though all he wanted was to touch Draco’s skin, to taste him and bring him pleasure.

Draco released the slender wrists and sat up. He drew back the covers, flinging them off the boy. His silky, blond hair, mussed from sleep, fell around his flushed face adorably, but his eyes were hungry and predatory. Harry was breathing hard, his little dick flushed a deep pink and standing up cutely against his lower stomach. 

Draco took the palm of his hand and pressed down on the stiff member. Harry sucked in a breath, his hips pushing up for more. Licking his lips, Draco slowly slid his hand up the small rod until it glided over the weeping tip and landed on Harry’s soft, twitching stomach. Draco thrilled in the soft whimpers Harry made as he slid his palm upward along that soft skin, catching Harry’s shirt on his wrist and drawing it up. 

Bruise-spotted skin was slowly revealed. All the bites Draco had made only a few nights prior still marking the boy’s torso. Deep-seated satisfaction made him warm to the tips of his ears down to his toes. Draco pulled the shirt off completely, letting it fall beside them on the bed. Harry was completely naked now. The blush on his cheeks had traveled down his neck and flared out along the top of his chest, turning it a gorgeous deep pink to match his cock. 

“Pull your legs up,” Draco whispered softly.

Harry stared into Draco’s eyes as he dropped his hands and gripped the back of his thighs, drawing his knees up toward his chest and down until they almost touched the bed underneath each armpit. Draco could just see the little hole twitching and he grinned again before kissing Harry’s lips once. Then he leaned over and licked a warm path up Harry’s thin, hard shaft. 

Harry’s whole body twitched, a soft cry falling from his swollen lips. For long minutes of torturous pleasure, Draco lapped and sucked messily until Harry was dripping wet between his legs with Draco’s spit. Tears streaked Harry’s face as he hovered at the edge, almost falling over into that place of pure pleasure. 

After nearly fifteen minutes, Draco pulled away. Harry cried out a soft denial, but Draco ignored him. Shifting closer so that he was pressed up against Harry’s side, he rubbed his dick helplessly against the outside of Harry’s hip, painfully hot and near his own climax. Sweating, heart thundering, Draco put his face close to his boy’s and shushed Harry gently as he pressed two fingers into Harry’s open, panting mouth. Harry gasped softly, tears glittering on his lashes. Was Draco going to…?

Draco’s fingers pulled free of Harry’s sucking mouth with a wet pop and Draco groaned at the sensation. Harry’s thighs quivered in anticipation. His heart thundered in his aching chest, every bruise throbbing, on the edge of bursting. Draco drank in Harry’s gorgeous expression as he firmly pressed his first two fingers inside the boy’s body. 

Gasping, Harry tossed his head back, exposing his throat. The pressure sent pleasure shooting up his spine in a way that was nearly incomprehensible. His whole existence was wrapped up in the sensation of Draco’s fingers inside him. Back arching, mouth gaping wide, he shuddered as Draco pressed in as deep as he could before sliding his fingers back out and pressing in again. Harry moaned from deep in his chest, his swollen cock glistening with clear fluid at the tip. 

Draco wiggled his fingers in that tight, gripping heat, searching for that place he knew was in there. He was entranced at the heat of Harry’s insides and wished he could see where he touched. It felt soft, silken, but tight. Harry’s body griped and sucked at him. The feeling was indescribable! Draco shivered, the wet sounds Harry made down there combined with the way Harry’s hips were undulating made Draco thrust harder and faster against the firm, warm skin of Harry’s hip.

Draco couldn’t take it, the look of Harry’s tear and sweat-damped face almost tipped him over the edge… He tucked his face against Harry’s neck with a deep groan, so fucking close to losing his mind, and this was supposed to have been for Harry… He bit and sucked at the leather collar, pulling it tight against Harry’s throat. He pulled his fingers mostly out and added his ring finger to the first two. Pressing forward, it was tighter. He had to push a little harder to get the all the way in. Harry gave a long, low cry that went straight to Draco’s cock. 

“Shit, Harry, god…” he gasped and spurt against Harry’s hip, bitting down hard on the collar around Harry’s throat. 

Trembling, throbbing in euphoric contentment, Draco sat up. He lazily watched as Harry cried and rocked on the three fingers still lazily thrusting inside his body. Harry’s face was flushed red, his eyes blown wide. He whined and begged softly, nearly breathless. Even so, Draco shushed him, eyes heavy-lidded. Lazy and content, he bent forward to gently kiss the dark bite-mark on Harry’s inner thigh and rested his sweat-damp forehead there, his hair tickling the boy’s thigh. Draco opened his mouth and let spit dribble down on his fingers and hand. He used it help him press more easily into Harry’s tight heat. He began to thrust his hand in earnest, rocking the Harry’s body back and forth. Harry gave a breathy moan, whole body trembling.

“I know it’s in there,” Draco murmured, spit still drizzling from his mouth. He shivered in pleasure, thrilling in the way Harry’s hole began to glisten and squelch softly, darkening as it turned red. Fuck, he loved it when Harry was wet and messy. 

He watched, entranced, as the boy’s hole slowly grew less tight, gripped him more softly. Draco pulled his fingers out until just the tips of his longest were inside his boy. Harry begged incoherently, calling his name. Draco pushed in, bringing his pinky in toward the others. Harry was spread wider than before, the hole blanching white. Harry went limp, whimpering, but Draco’s hand slipped in until his thumb caught the rim… and Draco found it. Harry’s back arched off the bed as he gave a shocked cry, taking Draco’s fingers halfway out of his body. He lost his grip on his legs and they fell limply to the bed, his right leg propped up as it rested over Draco’s shoulders.

Panting, eyes wide, Draco pressed his hand back in, easily finding that place now that he knew where it was. Harry’s torso twisted, he was sobbing now, but his little cock spurt clear fluid and he was pressing his hips down on Draco’s fingers even harder. “Fuck,” Draco breathed in awe. He leaned up and over his boy, pressing Harry’s leg up by his chest again. Grinning, Draco put his mouth just over Harry’s and stared into the boy’s wild eyes. He forced his fingers against the little gland again and again until Harry’s was gasping and crying, left leg splayed wide, his whole body shuddering in blissed out overload. 

Draco slowed his hand and spread his fingers just to feel the tight stretch inside. Harry was barely conscious, eyes half-lidded, glassy, and dazed. His thighs and chest muscles spasmed as he breathed heavily, drool dripping down his chin from his half-opened mouth. Draco pulled him close, his wet fingers sliding against Harry’s bare back. He kissed Harry’s face again and again, whispering how much he loved him, how good he was. 

After a few minutes, Harry was able to clumsily move his arms around Draco, returning the embrace. He was shaking now, little bursts of pleasure still erupting under his skin. He tucked his face against Draco’s throat and whimpered softly. Draco stroked his hair and rubbed his back, kissing his ear and cheek and the corner of his damp lips. 

Harry slowly stilled in his arms. He pulled his head back to look up at the blond. Voice thick and raspy, he breathed his name in awe, “Draco…” He didn’t know how to tell him how good it felt, how good it still felt. He was flying, floating, his body throbbing hotly between his legs and behind. “Draco…”

Draco laughed softly at the wide-eyed wonder that filled Harry’s face. “Shhh, Harry. I know.” He grinned and kissed him again and again, little butterfly kisses. Soon Harry was giggling as Draco tickled under his arms.

“Draco? Harry?” Neville’s sleepy voice called out of the dim darkness beyond their curtains. “What time’s it?”

The sound canceling charms must have fallen. The kid didn’t sound shocked or anything, so he must have been woken by their giggling. Draco laughed, imaging Neville’s face if he’d woken up to hear the other, more interesting sounds Harry had been making.

“Sorry we woke you,” Harry called, his eyes soft with - love adoration - as he watched Draco laugh.

“It’s time to get up anyway,” Draco called once his laughter was under control. It didn’t feel too early, though. They probably would have needed to get up for practice by now if Quidditch hadn’t been canceled for the break. He slipped out of bed and went to the armoire, hissing as his feet touched the cold stone floor. “We’ve been slacking on our coursework and I have something I need to look up.”

Harry climbed out of bed, his legs feeling a little like jelly, and accepted the warm dressing robe Draco handed him. Once it was on, he went to fetch his school books. Neville rolled over with a sigh. The sky outside the window only held a hint of brightness, still mostly black. He grabbed his watch off the nightstand and saw that it was only just after six. It wasn’t that early really and Draco was right about his homework. With a sleepy, regretful yawn, he pushed his covers back just as Harry plopped down next to him. The wild-haired brunet gave Neville a grin. Neville, surprised, couldn’t help but smile back. Harry looked so happy. It made the worry sitting heavy in his chest loosen a bit.

xXx

The next few days were spent in intense study and focus. They had to get caught up on the classwork they had gotten behind on and they also had to prepare for the mock exams that were going to be given on the last day of term. Draco wasn’t too worried about it. Their professors had informed them that the exams would be scored as if they were real tests so they could see how the final exams at the end of the year would work, but they would actually only be worth the same points as an essay assignment. Practice or not, Harry, Neville, and, of course, Hermione still wanted to do well on them. Additionally, Harry continued to work on warding Draco’s school robe before bed. He didn’t seem to be getting any better at it, taking a few days to ward a single robe. 

While Harry worked on that, Neville returned to mastering Potions. He was still determined to get an O and earn Draco’s forgiveness for hurting him so horribly. However, his pursuit of the grade was now a little different since he’d gotten to know Draco better. For the first time in his life, Neville actually believed he could get an O. He’d realized that Draco wouldn’t have set him that task if he hadn’t already been certain Neville could accomplish it. It gave Neville a strange confidence. A confidence that Harry and Hermione bolstered at every opportunity. 

Like the boys, Hermione and Draco spent the week getting caught up on their schoolwork, but their true focus was on their main projects. Hermione was working on a way to know instantly if anyone ever entered the room with Fluffy. She had a very short deadline and she was determined to meet it. Lady Longbottom had denied their request to stay over the holiday, so Hermione wanted the alarm set before she left. She knew Draco would do something crazy, like trying twenty-four hour stakeouts or something, if she didn’t. 

Draco was also caught up in a project. Only Harry and Neville knew what it was, although both the twins and Percy could guess. Draco was on a mission to fix his mind. He poured obsessively over the books Dumbledore had given him on Occlumency, his attention completely focused on mastering the techniques found there. His notebook became a mess of notes as he studied.

Draco was having a lot of trouble actually. It was weird because he had a feeling that this would have been easy for him before the attack. He could remember being able to enter a trance while with Raymond. It was a skill honed under torture out of fear and defiance, but it was still a skill he possessed. 

The books told him there were levels:

Hypnodial Trance (levels 1 through 10) 

Light Trance (levels 11 through 20) 

Medium Trance (levels 21 through 30) 

Deep Trance (levels 31 through 40) 

From their description, Draco could had been able to go into a Light Trance on his own before, and in Faerie he had managed a Deep Trance, so he didn’t know why it wasn’t working. He just couldn’t shut all of his consciousness down, couldn’t sink deep inside himself. The books reassured him that this was normal, that it took fucking years to master this shit, but knowing that didn’t help him in the slightest.

x

Trouble entering trance = learning opportunity for improving ability to go under. The unconscious is an aspect of awareness that records every experience, even those you’re not consciously aware of. Unconscious has an intelligence of its own; one of its major functions is to keep ‘self’ safe.

x

Safe!? How the hell was his unconscious keeping him safe by locking him out? Draco was trying to fucking fix whatever had been done to him, goddamn it! But he tried not to let it get to him. He knew it wouldn’t help to get upset; in fact, it would only make it even more difficult, so he held onto his patience as best as he could and worked tirelessly on breaking through whatever block had been set in place. He tried exercise after exercise, often forgoing sleep to practice all night.

x

1. Start by rubbing your hands together to develop heat.

2. After you feel the heat, pull your hands apart until they’re about 4 inches from one another.

3. Now move the hands very slightly in and out, so you can feel the natural magnetic pull. It will feel like a magnet. Focus on those sensations until they get stronger and stronger.

4. Play around with the energy until you feel that your hands want to come together. At this point, just close your eyes, and deepen the trance from there.

5. It doesn’t matter if your hands touch or if they’re 10 inches apart, what you’re looking for here is a strong magnetic pull. If your hands aren’t touching, focus on the space between them to intensify the experience.

x

Another method of entering the subconscious and manipulating his mindscape, he learned, was through a Transformative Technique. For example, visualizing becoming an animal.

Imagine how it feels and what its thoughts are. Allow yourself to merge with the animal. After experiencing yourself as the animal, return to yourself and then visualize a different image, and then repeat this exercise. Allow yourself to go from image to image as you merge with each one. At some point, you may find yourself entering your mental landscape mid-transformation.

x

Time passed quickly. Soon enough the First-years were sitting down to their mock exams. Fortunately they would only be taking an exam for the four main courses: Potions, Transfiguration, Herbology, and Charms. Harry had thought he was reasonably prepared, but his eyes widened when he saw the questions. He had to read them several times before he really understood what they were asking. Sweat dripped down the back of his neck and he chewed his lip nervously. Several times his anxiety reached a dangerous peak and Draco had to mentally order him to take a deep breath. 

They were given a break after two exams for a quick lunch. The First-years from all the Houses were sat together so they couldn’t cheat by talking to the upper-Years. They ate slowly, subdued and silent with gloom on their faces. Neville looked pale as death and even Hermione looked frazzled. Ron simply looked defeated. Draco tried to calm them as much as he could, but with two more tests looming ahead of them, it was a lost cause.

After their final test, they trudged their way to the Great Hall for dinner. Fred and George teased and poked at their younger brother, trying to cheer everyone up, but the First-years remained quiet throughout the night, their brains fried, and they all went to bed early. The next morning Harry and Draco spent time with Hermione and Neville as their friends packed for their return trip to London. Straight after breakfast, most of the school made the walk down to Hogsmeade to catch the train. 

Hermione gave both Draco and Harry a tearful hug, ordering them to write her every day and to be careful. The last was said with a pointed pat against the metal coin Draco wore around his neck. She had conned Flitwick into making it for her and then secretly attuned it to Fluffy’s door. It would heat up and alert Draco every time someone entered the room.

Neville and Harry hugged each other with happy smiles, but the chubby boy blushed brightly when Draco pulled him into a hug, gently running his hand over his hair in the process. Ron and his brothers stood beside them, waving at their own friends, but Draco only had eyes for the two Longbottoms as they opened their compartment window to wave goodbye. An arm suddenly draped itself over his shoulders and pulled him against a hard chest. Draco looked up with an annoyed glare, but it only made Fred laugh.

“It’s Yule break! Let’s have some fun!” he declared.

George had an arm around Harry, grinning merrily. “Snowball fight!” he cried in agreement and pulled Harry along with him back up to the school. “The east courtyard has the perfect terrain!”

Draco allowed it. Harry’s bruises were faint shadows now, smears of pale green and blue. A snowball wasn’t likely to hurt if it struck Harry on the chest this time. Maybe playing for a couple hours would even help. He’d made no progress in Occlumency and was beginning to get frustrated. A fight may just be what he needed. “You ready to show these two who they’re messing with?” Draco asked with a taunting grin as he pulled Harry away from George. 

“Yes!” Harry agreed readily, green eyes sparkling behind his glasses.

“Then let’s do it!”

Surprising everyone, Harry and Draco cut into two different directions, trying to pin the twins between them. Fred and George put their backs together. They alternated between casting the spell that made perfect snowballs and the one that shot the snowy missile with perfect accuracy, so that snowballs were both always being made and thrown. 

Draco dove for cover, taking a snowball to the shoulder. Harry fell flat on his belly and wormed his way under a courtyard bench when a ball suddenly flew with great force and knocked George clean off his feet. Percy gave a smug smirk as the twins gaped at him in surprise. Fred turned to shield, freeing Harry to quickly make a small pile of snowballs that he mercilessly aimed at the back of George’s head. George turned to shield and Draco was up and gone in a flash only to come face to face with a grinning Ron… 

The courtyard was filled with the sound of challenges, the whump of snow making contact with bodies, and childish laughter for two solid hours. They were all soaked, snow in their hair, but Percy cast drying and warming charms on all of them as they headed back inside the castle for a well-deserved lunch. Draco took Harry by the hand, feeling lighter than he had in weeks. The Weasley twins walked with Ron and Percy ahead of them, still laughing and carrying on. Draco cast the brunet beside him a warm smile, Harry practically purring with - happiness. His green eyes sparkled behind his glasses and his cheeks had a beautiful rosy glow. Draco was about to suggest hot chocolate when a crack sounded beneath his sneaker.

Draco stopped and lifted his foot. There was a dried branch, snapped from Draco stepping on it. It was small, hardly bigger than his wand, and it looked as if other feet had stepped on it before him. Unconsciously Draco’s hand tightened around Harry’s. There was something ominous about the dark of the wood against the white snow… the way the branch seemed shattered and broken beyond repair… 

“I’m going to meditate.” Draco’s voice was flat and distant. “Go to lunch with the others. Stay with one of them at all times.”

“Yes, Draco,” Harry answered softly as Draco released his hand. 

The blond’s face was remote and cold once again, his attention caught up in the battle inside his mind. It drove Harry crazy that he couldn’t help him. All he could do was obey and let Draco focus on his task without distraction. Still, he couldn’t help looking over his shoulder as he jogged to catch up with the Weasleys. Draco remained standing on the path alone, staring down at the ground.

Harry was subdued and quiet throughout lunch. The twins rolled their eyes and disappeared to work on some mischief of their own. Percy and Ron shared a look and sighed. “Why don’t we go find him?” Ron suggested. “I’ll bring my board and we can play chess while he’s zoning out.”

“I have some personal reading I’d like to get caught up on,” Percy agreed easily.

Harry smiled, deeply touched. “Thank you.”

They found Draco back in the courtyard. He was sitting on a cold stone bench with his legs crossed, his back straight, and his hands resting palm up on his knees. His eyes were closed and his breathing was slow and even as if he were sleeping. He had on his hat, scarf, and gloves, as well as his fur-lined winter cloak, but Percy cast a warming charm on him just to be sure. In fact, he cast Warming Charms on all of them. He took a seat against the castle wall, taking shelter against the wind. Ron and Harry straddled the bench opposite Draco’s, a chess board between them.

They stayed there for nearly three hours, Draco slowly beginning to show signs of strain. His face paled and refused to flush pink no matter how many Warming Charms Percy cast. His hands began to tremble, his back began to bow out of the rigidly straight posture. Worse yet, bright red blood slowly spilled from his nose. At the first sight of red, Harry crossed the distance and knelt on the ground in front of the bench. He rested his forehead against Draco’s knee and let his magic well up into the blond. It was draining and still the blood dripped down Draco’s face, but Harry had to try. 

Draco came out of his meditation just before dinner. He gave a soft gasp and sort of went limp, falling sideways. Percy was there to catch him, eyes dark with worry. Draco looked exhausted, completely defeated as he yet again failed to break through the mental block. Harry only looked slightly better. He was stiff and clumsy as Ron helped him to his feet. Gasping, wiping sweat from his eyes, Draco leaned against Percy’s side as he stiffly uncrossed his legs and slid heavy feet to the ground. The image of the broken twig resurfaced in his mind and he bit back tears.

They didn’t speak as they made their way inside. Percy and Harry, of course, knew what was at stake. Ron didn’t know what Draco was trying to do exactly, but he could see that Draco was struggling with whatever it was and he respected that. However, it was hard to remain stoic in the face of the Great Hall’s glory. Without hundreds of rowdy, loud kids, the beauty of it all was nearly overwhelming and broke through even Draco’s dark thoughts.

The ceiling had darkened to night, the tall, frost-covered windows equally dark. Ever since the first snowfall, there was a constant illusion of soft, beautiful snowflakes slowly falling regardless of the weather outside. Hundreds of floating candles filled the large space with warm, soft light. Huge wreathes with dark green pine needles and fat pinecones hung every few feet along the boarder of the ceiling. Red and white flowers were woven among the branches of each with soft bells jingling and tinkling, hanging from ribbons that were tied in big bows at their bottoms or tops. 

Earlier that week, Hagrid had dragged in enormous sixteen foot trees that he’d set in the four corners of the Great Hall. Each House had taken one as their own and the students had added fairy lights and decorations a little everyday until each one sparkled and shone. The trees seemed much bigger and more glorious in the quiet of the room.

The Hufflepuff tree had ornaments on nearly every branch: snowmen, animals of every kind, figures holding hands, bells, tiny wrapped gifts, and other things. The fairy lights had been charmed every shade of yellow from citrine to the palest ivory. A bright star sat on top and it literally made the air around it glitter. Overall, the tree was warm and colorful and playful.

Gryffindor’s tree was nearly as bright. The red, orange, and yellow fairy lights were charmed to flicker while in the branches small golden lions and cats prowled. A few other figures and animals decorated the tips here and there, but they were painted exclusively red to offset all the golden felines. At the very top, a shining golden head of a lion had been placed and occasionally it would let out a roar. 

Ravenclaw’s tree was simple and tasteful with an even spread of lights and decorations. Unlike the Gryffindor tree, it had no movement or flickering lights. Done in rich blues and pure whites, the tree had an elegant yet cold feel to it. Regardless, it was beautiful. A white star sat on top shining steadily and scattered throughout the dark green branches, icicles and snowflakes reflected crystal light into the air.

Slytherin’s tree was much more rustic. Candles sat amid the branches, charmed to ever-burn while the tree itself had been made flame-repellant. Soft, green fairy lights nestled in the branches here and there. A few ornaments done in silver were placed on a few branch tips. At the top, a glowing orb that shifted through the phases of the moon in the night sky cast soft moonlight down around it. Draco’s eyes lingered there and he knew Harry’s had as well. The tree reminded them both strongly of their home with the Malfoys and of the two Yules they had spent together there.

In fact, this was only their third Yule celebration in their lives. Draco silently ran his hand through the smaller boy’s messy hair and gently nudged Harry with his hip to keep him moving. He wished it could be different for them, that they could have gone home. The coin around his neck hung heavy, but staying at Hogwarts wasn't bad. It was only the four Weasley brothers, Harry, and Draco left at the Gryffindor table and they had chosen to sit at the end of the table near the tree. Warm, delicious food appeared on the serving plates in front of them and Draco gave Harry a reassuring smile to get the smaller boy to eat.

“You okay, mate?” Ron asked carefully. Draco had dark circles under his eyes and he looked worn thin and still too pale.

Draco gave a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Yeah. Just tired. Been studying a lot.”

Ron snorted as he scooped a large helping of mashed potatoes onto his plate. “I didn’t see you study at all. It’ll be a miracle if you pass the mock exams. You’ve been too busy with whatever it is you’re trying to do.”

Draco ignored him and conversation moved away from the blond and his obvious poor health. It wasn’t until they were all getting up to leave that Draco spoke again. He reached out and caught Fred’s wrist. “Can I borrow some spare bit of parchment later?” he asked, looking up into the redhead’s eyes.

Fred tapped his lip in thought. He glanced at George who shrugged. Fred turned back with a grin. “Sure but same rules as last time.”

That meant Draco wasn’t allowed to take it out of the dorm or tell anyone about it. He nodded and let Fred’s wrist go.

“I was thinking I’d bunk with you guys,” Ron said as they stepped past the portrait of the Fat Lady. 

Draco gave a shrug. “I don’t mind as long as it doesn’t bother you if we go to bed early.”

Ron looked a little disappointed, but he was determined to have his way. He had a blast rooming with Dean and Seamus, but he was still a little disappointed he hadn’t been chosen to stay with Draco and Harry. He was excited to finally get to share a dorm with them.

Seeing this hope in Ron’s expression, Draco sighed. “You can take the middle bed. It’s hardly been used since Harry sleeps with me most nights anyway.”

“Brilliant.” Ron gave a happy grin and ran up the stairs to gather the things he’d need. 

Draco went up with the twins to grab the map. He was interested in knowing exactly who had stayed over the break and he opened it as soon as George handed it to him. His eyes immediately caught on Severus Snape standing in a lab in the dungeons. Damn! Draco’s expression went cold. He had no doubt at all that Snape was the agent working for the Dark Lord within the school. He didn’t know what had driven the man to side with the Dark, but like hell was he going to let that greasy bastard win! Draco’s fingers wrapped tightly around the golden coin hanging from his neck, determination sitting heavy in his stomach.

“I’m going to beat this,” he promised in a whisper, eyes glued to that hated name. “I’m gonna beat this and destroy you.”

xXx

It was early afternoon and Lucius was deep in his study on Horcruxes when movement caught his eye. “Narcissa?” Lucius stepped out of his office curiously. He’d seen Narcissa walk past, dressed in a semi-formal gown and midnight blue cloak. He held a book in his hand and impatiently pushed back his long hair over his shoulder. Narcissa had turned to face him. Her eyes remote, distant, making Lucius frown.

“I’m going to Hogwarts,” she informed him.

Draco and Harry should have returned the night before on the Hogwarts Express. He still remembered the letter they had received two weeks prior announcing their intention to remain at the school. It had been short on details, but the overall message had been clear. 

“The boys said they needed to work on a project,” he reminded, cocking an eyebrow. “It is clear Draco wants no interference.”

Narcissa seemed unmoved. “I am going to Hogwarts and spending the Solstice with my sons.”

Lucius sighed. The book in his hand shut with a snap. “You mean to make it public, then? That we practice the Old Ways? That we and the boys are Pagan?”

Her hands clenched. She knew it was unwise; there was still a strong prejudice against Paganism. However, four months of not seeing the boys weighed heavily on her heart. So much time lost because Draco had been stolen from her, she couldn’t bear to let time she could spend with her child slip away. The truth was she was Pagan, and she couldn’t celebrate without her children. Was she being irrational? Weak?

Lucius took her silence as determination to go, not the uncertainty that it was. He gave a small nod. “Very well. Let me change. I will accompany you.”

Narcissa felt herself relax. If Lucius was willing to go, then he must not think it too damaging. Excitement curled in her core. She would see her boys soon! 

They flooed into the Headmaster’s office with the pass Lucius had due to being a Member of the Board. It only took a few minutes before Headmaster Dumbledore arrived, no doubt alerted by a ward to their arrival. Lucius had braced himself to push past any argument or refusal from the old wizard, but Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled brightly at seeing them.

“Lucius, Narcissa,” he said with jovial cheer and offered his aged hands to Narcissa. Narcissa took them and allowed Dumbledore to place a kiss on her knuckles. “Welcome to Hogwarts. I take it you would like to spend some time with the boys?”

Lucius was deeply suspicious, but he chose not to ask questions. At least not until after they got what they wanted and saw the children. “We would.”

Dumbledore nodded. He folded Narcissa’s hand into the crook of his elbow to give her escort. “Very well,” he said with a smile. “They have just sat down to supper. Would you like to join them? Have you eaten?”

Narcissa gave a cool smile. “That would be lovely. Thank you.”

Lucius trailed slightly behind Narcissa on her other side. The castle was just as he remembered it at this time of year. Cool and quiet with a the feeling of magic thick in the air. It always seemed like the castle resonated more deeply on Holy Days. The hallways were quiet, most of the children having gone home. The Great Hall doors were already opened, warm light spilling through and into the foyer. The huge House trees stood in the four corners. A handful of children sat in front of each. The staff table was missing half it’s number as well, although he saw that all four Heads of House were in attendance.

They were guided toward the end of the Gryffindor table. Harry spotted them first, his face lighting up with a delighted smile that set Lucius’s heart at ease. The child stood, accepting Narcissa’s hands. Narcissa bent to kiss his cheeks and accept his kiss in return. Draco stood more slowly. Lucius was hyper-aware of Dumbledore’s presence and that of the four Weasley children. The sight made his lip curl. He’d thought he’d resigned himself to his son occupying Gryffindor, but seeing the company he kept made him feel disgusted. His son could do so much better. In fact, he was so displeased that he didn’t even care that Draco was shooting him a very dark look.

“I hope we aren’t intruding,” Narcissa was saying to both boys, although she only held Harry’s attention at the moment. “Since you’ve decided to stay over the break, we thought one visit wouldn’t be amiss.”

“Please, sit and enjoy yourselves. It is the season to spend with family,” Dumbledore encouraged. 

Lucius and Draco shot him identical looks of suspicion, which made the old wizard’s smile widen.

Lucius sat carefully. The detested Weasley children gave him cold looks and glares. Lucius returned their glares for a brief moment before he decided to ignore their existence completely, instead shifting his attention back to the only children who mattered. His own. Harry was telling Narcissa about their experiences at the school. Most of it they knew from the fairly frequent letters, but it was nice to hear the recounting from the child’s own lips. Draco remained mostly silent. Lucius studied him carefully. 

His son looked paler than he should. Dark circles sat under his eyes. He also picked at his food, not really eating as he normally would. Lucius began to worry. Draco was his Heir. The curse placed on their family made it crucial that Draco do well and thrive. Lucius was not impressed with his condition and was determined to get to the bottom of it before they departed.

“Would you like to see the common room?” Harry asked politely, smiling up at Narcissa.

Narcissa returned his warm smile. “I’d love to.”

Draco and Lucius walked side-by-side, tension between them. The Weasleys trailed after sporting mutinous looks, except for the one in glasses. Lucius noted that his face was carefully blank. Fortunately, the hoard of redheads disappeared up the stairs to the dorms, leaving the common room to them. Lucius stared around at the garish and worn common room. The fat, plush red couches, the awkward placement of tables scattered around the edges, the single book case, the busy tapestries all sporting knights or warriors, the enormous lion portrait above the fireplace… Lucius could even hear the cold wind howl outside the tower windows… and was the room swaying slightly?  It was loud and overwhelming, but the boys seemed quite used to it. 

Harry led Narcissa over to the fireplace. It was large enough that Lucius could easily walk inside it should he wish, which made him think it could be a flooing fireplace. He stored that information away for later. “Happy Solstice,” Harry said and looked concerned. “We don’t have a log.”

Narcissa knelt gracefully on the worn, red rug in front of the fire, her midnight blue skirt pooling around her. She opened the pouch at her side and removed a wooden box about five inches long and three inches tall and much too big and heavy to have fit in the pouch. Lucius waved his wand, dousing the fire and banishing the firewood burning there. A cleaning charm removed all the ashes and embers. Narcissa opened the wooden box. Draco and Harry leaned closer to look inside and saw the charred remains of last year’s Yule log were inside.

“A year has come and gone. We have overcome challenges and received blessings in equal measure. As we stand watch on this Longest Night, we remember the past and give it its due.” 

Narcissa’s voice, soft and resonant, was filled with sincerity and faith as she tossed the ashes and embers inside the fireplace. Then she reached again into her pouch. A shrunken log from this year’s ever-green tree sat on her palm. Lucius used his wand, casting a simple spell that returned it to it’s true size and then another that gently levitated it into place on the hearth.

“We take with us into this Night the knowledge of how to overcome hardship and the strength we have discovered inside ourselves,” Narcissa finished. She met her son’s eyes. “I believe by this point in your education you should be able to produce a fire spell.”

Draco met her stare evenly and took his wand from the holster on his right forearm into his left hand. “Incendio,” he cast, flicking the wand forward, the tip moving in a curved triangle shape, almost like that of a flame. A jet of warm, yellow-orange flame shot from the wand and ignited the log. Narcissa graced Draco with a proud smile. Lucius stepped closer to the boys, placing a sturdy hand on each of their shoulders. Harry looked up, expression relaxed and easy, but Draco remained stiff and unmoved. 

“Tell us what has you staying in the castle,” Lucius coaxed, voice low and quiet. A voice made for secrets. 

Harry looked to Draco, waiting for his decision.

“We have all night,” Narcissa pointed out. Pagans celebrated the Winter Solstice in many ways, but the one thing they all had in common was that they sat watch until the sun rose. It was considered bad luck to sleep during the longest night.

Draco stared into the fire. The firelight softening his face and making his eyes glisten. His hair took on a soft yellow quality instead of pure white and fell around his face, down past his angular chin. He looked so young, the dark circles and tension erased in the forgiving light. Harry stood just slightly shorter than Draco. His hair thick and messy, jet black even in the firelight. It was hard to make out his eyes behind his glasses, but his full lips were naturally a dark pink and his cheeks were slightly round with a soft blush from the heat. 

They were beautiful children. It made Lucius simultaneously proud and protective. From the powerful love shining on Narcissa’s face, she felt the same. Lucius’s hands tightened on the boys’ shoulders and he once again made a silent vow that he would do whatever was necessary to ensure that these boys would survive… Whatever was necessary.  

“I’m studying Occlumency under Dumbledore,” Draco finally voiced, eyes still staring into the flames. “I can’t leave until I make more progress.” Suddenly he looked up, piercing Lucius with his gaze. “I think I’m about to make a breakthrough, though.”

Lucius felt a chill of worry, but he knew it would only push Draco away if he were to voice it. Fortunately Narcissa wasn’t as hindered.

“Occlumency…” Narcissa spoke softly, capturing the boys’ attention. “That is a very ambitious goal. It is a Dark and complex art, taking years if not decades to master.” She reached forward to gently trace a fingertip over the curve of Harry’s cheek. “I know you will not do anything too risky and lose yourself. You have something very important to do.”

Draco’s eyes narrowed into a glare and he slapped Narcissa’s hand away from Harry's face. “I know what’s at stake.”

Harry leaned into Draco’s side, shifting Lucius’s hand off of Draco's shoulder. “I’ll help Draco,” he offered. “But Draco can do this. He’s strong.”

Narcissa nodded, showing no reaction to Draco’s strike on her hand. “Then I will not worry.” She offered a small smile to their defiant son. “However, should you need assistance, your father and I know something of this art. I trust you will not let your pride stop you from being successful when you have Harry to think of.”

“Pride?” Draco’s voice dropped, became dangerous and hissing. “You think I’m in danger of letting pride be my downfall? I think I’ve proven pride will never be my problem.” He lowered his chin, his bangs falling in front of his face, eyes glittering dangerously as he stared his mother down. “Do you see me lashing out when stupid kids are calling me maggot and Death Eater in the halls? Or tripping me until my knees and palms bleed. Or ruining my supplies. Or sabotaging my work. Or making my legs dance under me until I collapse as dozens of kids laugh in my face. No… I walk away, take secret paths, let Harry work on warding me from their petty pranks. Because I know that’s what they are. Petty.”

Harry ducked his head as the list was told. Failure burned in his throat. It was his job to protect and help Draco, and it had taken him way too long to stop what was happening. Draco pushed on, ignoring Harry’s - guilt. He’d deal with it later.

“They’re just sadistic assholes following a racist leader and I know that if I lash out, I’ll actually make them believe what they’re saying. That I’m evil filth. And in a few years when I need wands to protect us, maybe even die for us, there will be no one there. So I walk away and do nothing because pride would only get in my way.” He reached forward and drew a line down Narcissa’s cheek with his finger, the same way she had touched Harry, but instead of the pad of his fingertip, he used his nail to gently caress her skin, the threat subtle. “You still don’t truly trust in my decisions. You still think you know better. And because of my age, you have the power to make me do things against my will. Like leaving the school because it’s dangerous. So until you really decide to respect me and accept that I will make the final decisions, you are just another thing that’s in my way. Because I will do whatever it takes to win. Sacrificing my pride is the least of it.” Draco’s hand dropped and he turned away from her shocked expression. 

Narcissa’s blue eyes had gone wide, her pale lips slightly parted. Lucius moved to her side. He reached down and grabbed her arm, pulling her up to her feet. She leaned heavily against his chest and suddenly Lucius was reminded of all the years she had spent draining herself dry, dropping to under a hundred pounds, in her determined pursuit of their son.

“You have continuously pushed at us as if we were the enemy when we are your greatest allies,” he said coldly, eyes gone silver as he stared down at his son. “We can do no more than we’ve done to prove ourselves and yet you insist we are some threat. It is the height of stupidity to not make use of our knowledge and power. You speak of needing wands in the future and yet you disdain the two strongest at your disposal. Why? Because you don’t like us? Because you can’t trust us? You sound like a spoiled child! If you continue to behave as such, you will make your childish fear of authority a reality and we will come to doubt that you can make good decisions!”

“Lucius…” Narcissa breathed, horrified. 

“I don’t fear authority, Lucius,” Draco hissed. His expression was etched with rage, hands clenched at his sides. Harry had taken a step back to give him room. He refused to look at Narcissa or Lucius, eyes instead loyally pinned to the blond. “I refuse it! I will answer to no one!

As they watched Draco storm from the common room, Narcissa gave Lucius a disdainful glare. “What was the point of that?”

“It had to be said,” Lucius defended, angry. “He’s acting irrational.”

“It could have been said a different way,” she countered, arms crossing over her chest. “We are standing in the Gryffindor common room, but you do not have to act like one. Tact and subtlety was in order. Our son is delving into the Dark Arts. There is no telling how it has effected him. It has likely made him paranoid and irrational as you so bluntly pointed out.”

“Where are you going?” he demanded as she moved toward the common room door.

She stopped and looked over her shoulder, expression cold. “I’m going to speak to Dumbledore and see what he knows about our son’s studies and his condition. Why don’t you speak to Snape. I find it interesting that Draco said he was studying under Dumbledore when Snape is the Master Occlumens.”

Lucius waited for her to leave before making his own way back into the castle. Did she not see that sometimes the direct approach was the only one worth taking with Draco? The boy was determined and clever and strong, but he could be so damn blind and stubborn. Perhaps Gryffindor was the correct House for his son after all. Scowling at that despicable thought, Lucius made his way deeper into the dungeons. And as they separated, pursuing different goals, the Longest Night had only just begun and their strength had been reduced by half.

Chapter end.

A/N: Sorry for the updating delay. A lot is going on right now. As for the story, things are going to happen at a pretty fast pace in the next few chapters.

Chapter Text

A/N: Sorry this is so late. Partly it’s because the chapter grew so long. I hope you guys like it. Can’t wait to hear what you think!

The Longest Night

Bellatrix stepped out of her warded apartment and made her way toward Lucius’s office. A sweet giggle escaped her, her bare feet creating a soft pattering sound as she danced her way through the silent house. Her beloved sister had still not figured out that Bellatrix could move about the manor as she pleased. She had a talent for wards. She could talk to them in a way others were unable to. It was a simple matter to convince them that she was an ally and not an enemy. The wards only activated if she had the intention of escaping anyway and she wouldn’t leave the manor for the world. 

It took but a whisper to spell the elves to sleep and once more she owned the halls of Malfoy Manor just as she had that night ten years ago. At last she arrived at her destination, her eyes sparkling with soul deep joy. She slid graceful, slender fingers along the grain of Lord Malfoy’s office door. Pressing her cheek to the wood, she crooned, whispering to the wards.

It wasn’t every night that she was able to enter here. Lucius haunted the office more often than not, but she had known that tonight the way would be clear. Her Lord was favored by Fate, and Bellatrix had known the universe would create opportunities for His glorious return. Slowly, the door swung open with a soft creak just as the last colors of sunset bled from the sky. A deep grey twilight settled over the manor, fading to night as she stepped across the plush rugs toward Lucius’s desk. It took the work of only a few minutes to open the side drawer and retrieve her Beloved’s diary. 

Her lips and hands trembled with excitement as she opened the book to the middle. Pressing a quill tip to the page, she sensually wrote out the message: I am yours, my Lord.

The pages pulsed with power and words written in an elegant script answered her with: Come to me. 

Blinding light engulfed her and she fell willingly into the book’s depths… 

Draco ran as fast as he could through the hallways. He ducked into secret passages and sprinted past portraits, taking the shortest route. He ran until his legs and lungs burned, until he was panting so hard he could hardly breathe. He burst outside into an overgrown courtyard, rage and frustration pounding like a second heart in his chest. His feet crunched and slid on the snow as he spun around wildly. Harry skidded through the open door, panting, eyes wide. Draco practically leapt forward and grabbed the smaller boy by the collar of his robe. Harry stumbled, but he didn’t resist as Draco shoved him roughly against the castle wall. 

“What… do you… think?” he demanded, gasping from his sprint. “Am I … being childish?”

Harry met Draco’s eyes, - trust worry - a subtle hum between them. “They might help… if you told them everything… but they might also… get in the way,” he answered softly, panting from the run. “You understand… the situation best.”

Draco gave a scream of rage and lifted a balled up fist. Harry didn’t even flinch as Draco swung with all his might. A meaty thud sounded as the blond’s knuckles brutally impacted against the stone wall inches from Harry’s head. Draco swung again and again, screaming with each desperate blow until warm blood splattered Harry’s cheek. 

Heart pounding, Harry sank to his knees, slipping from Draco’s loosened grasp. He lifted his hands, tears glittering in his eyes. “Please…” he begged, pain in his voice. “Please, Draco… Don’t… Let me help you… Please…”

Draco stood there, staring blindly down at the boy who practically sung with - love - for him. Blood dripped from his split knuckles, staining the snow red in small, delicate drops. Pain, hot and sharp, spiked up his arm. He’d broken bones.

“Please… Draco…” Harry begged softly, hands still reaching upward.

Draco turned away, denying him. He needed the pain; it was clearing his head. “Not yet,” he growled and purposefully clenched his broken hand. A gasp escaped his lips at the intense pain, tears filling his eyes. He stared up at the dark sky, the stars cold and remote above him. 

Behind him, Harry pulled his beseeching hands back and wrapped his arms loosely around his chest. His butt rested on his heels as his head lowered slightly in submission. “Yes, Draco.”

At the sound of Harry’s calm acceptance, Draco turned back around to face him. It had been exactly what he’d needed to finally quench the last of his anger. Harry didn’t push what he wanted. He didn’t demand or argue or judge. He accepted Draco, trusted him wholeheartedly. Draco’s expression softened and his lips parted to speak when magic, Dark and deep, spiraled up around him.

What neither of them realized was that Draco’s blood had made a circle around him. Blood spilt on a Solstice night was extremely powerful, especially the blood of a Hemopath like Draco. It created a temporary gateway where things could cross over. The celtic knot appeared on the hollow of Draco’s throat, the mark acting as a key to other realms. It began to glow with the cold, blue-white of moonlight and Hogwarts disappeared… 

Draco stood in a forest with wide, black-barked trees. The stars between the tangled branches were fat, the size of a baby’s fist. The moon was a silver scythe hanging above his head. Deep snow sat heavy on the ground. Before Draco could really understand what had happened, arms - thin and unnaturally cold - wrapped around him. Sharp talons pierced through the skin on his back, drawing more hot liquid to the surface. Snarling, Draco tried to break free, but he was held fast.

“Greetings, Little Hunter,” a voice said, deep and vast and all around him. “Looks like you’ve become prey.” 

The last word was spoken with a bottomless hunger that could be felt deep inside Draco's bones, triggering instincts primal and powerful. Teeth bared in defiance, he swung his head back as hard as he could…

Harry stared up at the Creature before him. It was human-shaped but wasn’t male or female. Long white hair, a vast expanse of stars in Its black eyes, pale white skin, and naked, It gracefully crouched before the kneeling Harry. Advanced age had touched Its features, but yet the Being didn’t seem weak in the slightest. A slow grin revealed pointed, blood-stained teeth.

“The Cold Dark has come,” It said, a whisper as loud as a scream. “Do you still Dance?”

Harry was caught in the Being’s eternal eyes. He didn’t understand, but deep down he knew the answer and spoke true. “For Draco.”

“Then Dance for him.” 

Harry’s hands were clasped with surprising gentleness and he was lifted to his feet. The God’s nails were long and sharp even as Its hands were gnarled with age. 

“Know that should you fall, so to he shall fall. For he walks the Dark and will need a path Home. Winter has come. Endure… or die…” 

It wasn’t a threat. It was simple Truth. Winter was ruthless and brutal, but if you had the strength to endure, It could also be beautiful. Harry’s hands were released. The Being stepped back. It was there but not there. It couldn’t be seen, but It could be felt in everything… In the cold and quiet of the snow, the distant glitter of the stars, the deep darkness between them… 

Endure or die…

There was another option beyond endurance or death. Tilting his head back, Harry slowly lifted his hands to the infinite night-sky. A deep breath in and he opened himself to all that he was, all that was Draco, and all that they were together. He could feel it, the deep three-fold bond between them. It was magic in the purest sense, humming and powerful and alive. And it was Draco’s way home; he was Draco’s way home. Harry closed his eyes, hardly able to contain the feeling of love and wonder and magic that existed even in the Dark of Winter, and began to dance a dance of worship. He was Pagan and he felt honored to be able to dance both for Draco and for an Old God…

Narcissa stepped into the Headmaster’s office, expression cold and remote. Her hands were folded in front of her demurely. Her dress with midnight blue skirt and long-sleeved bodice with a wide, black velvet band tight around her waist was half covered by the black cloak she still wore. The hood was down, revealing the single braid that wrapped around the top of her head, leaving her long neck bare and exposed. Her eyes were a blue only a few shades lighter than her dress. 

She wore no make-up. Her lips were as pale as her cheeks. Her eyelashes and thin, sharp eyebrows only a little darker than her golden-blonde hair. She stood with regal bearing, shoulders back and pointed chin slightly tilted up. She was a medium-tall woman, eight inches taller than five feet, and very thin. The years of working powerful rituals to search for her son had taken a toll, giving her face and expression a harder edge than most. She was beautiful, but more than that she was a force to be reckoned with. 

Dumbledore stood from behind his desk and bowed his head in acknowledgment of her strength and power. He had consciously donned a white robe with purple and silver highlights. Pale blue eyes twinkling with happiness, beard as white as snow, they seemed complete opposites and yet there was a strong similarity between them, as if they were two sides to the same coin.

Narcissa stepped gracefully forward until she stood in the center of the room facing the ancient wizard. She did not continue on to the desk or the seats sitting across from it. She was not a supplicant in search of his counsel. “You know why I am here, Albus,” she said softly and waited.

Dumbledore smiled and stepped around his desk to face her on even ground. “You have concerns regarding your son.”

“Sons,” she corrected. She felt her magic deepen and wrap around her. It was the Solstice. The calendar had entered the darker half on Mabon, but it was Yule when those who resonated to the Dark were at their peak. Her magic felt that change and stretched. “Why have you chosen to keep my sons in a hostile environment when they are here simply for an education?”

Dumbledore tilted his head before he answered. “It is for the purpose of education that I have chosen to allow the children to solve their own problems. They have not sought my aid or the aid of any teacher in this matter.”

Narcissa let a long second pass to think about his answer. “The Art of Occlumency… It is classified as a Dark Art. I admit my surprise upon hearing you are my son’s tutor, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot.”

“It is considered so but not illegal,” Dumbledore answered easily. “I have mastered many Arts in my time as a wizard.” 

Narcissa held his gaze, her tone growing sharp. “Draco shows signs of strain and ill health. I would not say he has been well cared for. Would you?”

Dumbledore sighed softly, his hand lifting to stroke his beard. “I speak the truth, Narcissa Malfoy nee Black. My sole wish is for young Draco and young Harry to grow strong and capable. I would not endanger their lives for anything in this world.” His eyes grew solemn as he tilted his chin down to look over his glasses at the angry mother. “However, I believe you know your two boys are destined for great things. There is only so much I can do to buffer the weight of that destiny. Fate has set about to prepare them for their future.”

“Let me make something clear.” Narcissa lifted a single finger and pointed it upward. “You are incapable of truly understanding my sons. Any manipulation on your part is destined to go very wrong. My advice to you, Albus, is that you forget this notion that you understand their destiny. The best thing you can do is let things play out as they will without your interference.” Her finger slashed down to point directly at his heart. “That means treating them as you would any other student under your supervision. For you are simply a player with a part to play and not one of the Weavers of Fate.”

Dumbledore felt her words deeply. A blush stained his cheeks, denials built up on his tongue, but she slashed her hand downward and out, stalling his words.

“You have been trying to manipulate things, Albus. I see the signs of it and my sons suffer.” Narcissa’s eyes glittered. The room seemed to darken and grow colder. “This is the last warning I will bestow upon you. Your place is to act as Headmaster to my boys. Nothing more and definitely nothing less. Fulfill your duty, sir, or my sons will be removed from this school.”

Dumbledore stood silent as she stared him down. He felt the chill in the air as she turned, her skirt swirling about her feet as she strode gracefully from his office. As soon as she was gone, Dumbledore let his expression fall into something more grave and serious. Fawkes gave a quiet yet beautiful trill and he stepped closer to his familiar, stroking the warm, soft feathers. 

“All is well, Fawkes,” he murmured. “She is just a mother trying to protect her children.” He sighed sadly and looked into the dark, liquid eyes of the phoenix. “Unfortunately, they are not simply her children but belong to the World.”

Dumbledore had experienced wars and losses that Narcissa, young as she was, could not begin to comprehend. There may be some truth in her words, but she was wrong on one thing. He was not a simple Player. His role was greater than that, especially for those boys. Fate had placed him in position to guide and prepare them. That was his destiny, and he would see to it that they had the skills and tools they needed to successfully carry out theirs.

Frowning, Dumbledore was pulled from his musings as something stirred at the edge of his senses. Curious, he crossed the room to the tower window. The glass slowly began to frost right before his eyes and the gentle snow began to fall harder. He turned and strode quickly toward his door.

Narcissa frowned. She lifted her bare hands up to her face. They trembled slightly, the tips almost numb with cold. Narcissa took a deep breath and blew out. Her breath fogged in front of her face for a brief moment before disappearing. Listening, she felt something resonate deep inside her core. “Draco, Harry,” she whispered, eyes wide. She took a step forward, but stopped when she heard the stairs begin to move behind her. She chose to wait for the Headmaster to join her.

Dumbledore stepped off the stairs, his expression grim. “A storm has come upon us, Lady Malfoy. Soon it will be a blizzard.”

“My sons?” she demanded. 

Dumbledore shook his head. “I will summon the staff. We will search for them.”

Narcissa’s hands clenched, her eyes promising terrible things should they not be found…

There was no answer when Lucius knocked upon Severus’s door. Frustrated, Lucius summoned a House Elf and demanded the Potions Master’s location. The elf squeaked out an answer before popping away. Lucius turned, sharply rapping his cane on the stone floor. It didn’t take him long, up a staircase and down a corridor, before he stepped out into a small courtyard. 

Severus stood in the center at a small table manipulating ingredients next to a cauldron hanging from a wooden beam set over a rough fire. He wore a black winter cloak and robes, his hands protected in thin leather gloves from both the cold and his ingredients. His hood was pulled up, leaving only his chin, lips, and a part of his nose revealed. He moved with practiced grace, a true artist at his craft.

“What is it you want, Lucius?” Severus spoke, low and calm, never once pausing in his work.

Lucius hesitated, his temper gone in the face of this mystery. He had known, of course, that Severus was a Master, but he’d never seen him in action. It changed his perception of the wizard, made him realize there were hidden depths to his personality. “You know why I’ve come,” he answered finally, his tone a reflection of the other man’s: serene.

“Your son has fallen into deep waters,” Severus replied. He turned and scattered something with a precise flick of his wrist into the cauldron that sizzled, creating a violet glow that illuminated the surface for a brief moment. “I do not know if he will sink or swim.”

Lucius attention snapped away from the potion. His glove creaked softly as it tightened around his cane, his eyes flashed and his tone sharpened. “Are you a mere observer? Do you deny your responsibility to assist your student?”

Severus stirred the potion in perfect circles with one hand, his other folded and refolded a substance like dough except it was grey and streaked with black. “I do what I can, Lucius. I will always do what I can. At this moment, I am unable to directly assist the boys. Draco will not let me close.”

The temperature took a sudden drop. Lucius frowned, looking upward. The soft snow that had been falling, collecting on his hair and shoulders, grew thicker. Goosebumps lifted along his arms and the back of the neck, an almost electric hum resonating through his core. Lucius’s eyes dropped back to Severus as the wind picked up. Already the snow was falling hard enough that it was harder to see. 

Severus’s hood was blown off, his straight black hair whipping around his face. “I cannot stop once begun,” he called, dark eyes locking on Lucius. “Cast a ward against the wind. Draco will need this potion.”

Lucius stepped forward, crossing the distance between the Potions Master and himself. He took up position on the other side of the small work table, his wand sliding from the cane with a fluid movement. The tip of the pure black wand dipped and swayed, making sharp points and precise turns. Slowly, a pale glow appeared in the snow around them. The shape of runes and magic symbols could just be seen through the glow. The wind was reduced to a soft breeze, the snow falling slowly, while outside the circle the wind and snow continued to increase until it began to howl and gust, a blizzard born.

“This storm has been Called,” Severus murmured, still working over the potion. 

“The boys are likely involved,” Lucius agreed, voice grim. A quirk of an eyebrow only partially seen through a concealing curtain of Severus’s lanky hair. Lucius gave a sharp smile. “My wife will attend to them.” Grey eyes taking on a silver glitter, he inclined his head to the bubbling cauldron. “Do not fear, Severus. I will guard the circle. As long as you understand that half of this potion will be mine.”

Severus’s expression gave way to a frown, but he wasn’t in any position to argue…

Bellatrix found herself in a massive chamber made with dark quartz and deep green stone that was lit with high, white-burning torches. Huge columns carved with snakes and sinuous figures supported an arched ceiling high above her head. On either side were canals filled with a dark, mysterious water that whispered and burbled as it flowed past, echoing softly in the massive space. Before her was a thirty-foot statue of one of the world’s most powerful wizards in history. Between the feet of the magnificent robed figure, a teenager sat in a golden throne with a deep green cushion. The back of the throne rose high above the teen’s head, a sculpted disc of dozens of snakes.

Dressed in the school robes of Hogwarts, the Slytherin crest on his breast, the teenager nonetheless possessed an aura that spoke of power far surpassing his age. His dark gaze was piercing and mysterious, the curl of his full lips amused as she slowly sank to her knees in wonder. Thick dark brown hair, smooth with a soft wave, fell elegantly over his forehead. His cheek bones and chin were sharp and angular, his completion smooth perfection. He was extremely handsome. The teen stood gracefully, his eyes never once leaving her kneeling form. As he approached, each step seemed to ring throughout the chamber. Bellatrix held her breath, staring up into his beautiful face from where she knelt.

“Hello, Bellatrix.” The teen’s voice caressed her name, making her gasp softly. A strong hand lifted her chin as he crouched. “We meet at last.”

“My Lord,” she breathed, deeply humbled. Her whole body trembled at his touch.

“Are you mine, Miss Bellatrix Black?” he asked gently, staring into her eyes. 

“Yes, my Lord!” she cried eagerly. She offered her arm, the Dark Mark tattooed onto her skin jet black and pulsing.

Tom Riddle stroked the short, dark curls that adorned her head, his expression sweet and concerned. “I will ask you to give me your life and magic,” he told her. “Are you still mine?”

“Oh, yes, my Lord!” she answered again, devotion shining from her eyes even as she panted with excitement.

Tom kissed her softly on the lips, a promise of what was to come. “Then I intend to grant you the honor of being my vessel, sweet Bella.” 

He reached forward and brushed his hands along her shoulders. Under his touch, her robe and dress disintegrated, leaving her naked to his eyes. Her breasts were small and yet perfectly shaped and full, her small nipples pink and already pebbled. She shivered as he trailed his fingertips down the center of her chest and over her thin stomach. His hand stopped directly between her hips underneath her bellybutton. She gasped helplessly, soft whimpers escaping her. 

Tom’s eyes traveled to her sex. She was hairless as were her legs and arms. Tom knew that the procedure had been painful and carried out before she reached puberty by her Pureblooded mother. Bella had been shaped to be the perfect wife, her sole purpose to please her husband and tend to the children while they were young. Better yet, just above the lips of her sex was a single rune, the color of a birthmark. His pupils dilated as he saw it. It named her a virgin, a Pureblood virgin from a Sacred Line. It would fade once she was penetrated.

“Do I please you, my Lord?” Bella asked, voice trembling with nerves. Tears graced her cheeks, afraid he would reject her and yet she never once looked away from his face. 

“You are a perfect vessel,” Tom praised her in a soft whisper. He stood, offering his hand. 

She took it with a cry of relief and came to her feet, joy radiating from her soul. Tom graced her with another smile as he led her forward. Bella followed him, feeling light as a feather. Obediently she sat on the throne when he pressed her forward and down. Tom’s strong hands skimmed her thighs before hooking under her knees. Looking into her eyes, he lifted her slender legs and pulled them open, draping them over the throne’s arms. It opened her to his sight, her folds delicate and pink and beginning to glisten. He reached down to spread her vaginal lips that still bore the mark of the virgin. Tom felt his heart beat increase, heat rising from his body. She was his to despoil. 

Silent and intent, dark hair falling across his forehead, he caressed her breasts and stroked her thighs. He spoke to her, slow and sensual of his pleasure in her offering, of his plans to rule the Wizarding world, to restore the Old Ways. Bella stared enraptured, caught up in his voice and promises. She was dripping by this point, slick and hot, her skin flushed with desire. Tom stood before her, powerful, calm. He cut into his thumb and whispered a spell to ensure it did not clot. Then he leaned over her, his mouth taking in her needy gasps as he drew pattens onto her lower stomach in his blood.

“My Lord!” Bella arched with a cry, overcome with idea that her Lord’s blood was coating her skin.

Tom moved easily with her body. A controlled burst of wandless magic and the throne’s arms lifted and curled over the woman’s legs right above the knee, holding them still. “Arms up, sweet Bella.”

Bella obeyed immediately with no hesitation. Two snakes from the headpiece of the throne came to liquid life and captured her wrists, securing them above her. Tom straightened. He stared down at her body, marked with blood, held open and captive, a willing sacrifice. He was panting now, too, and slowly he undid his robe. Bella whimpered, her dark lashes settling on her cheeks as if she couldn’t stand the glorious sight of him. Tom unbuttoned his shirt and unclasped his pants, where his thickening member lifted and became hard against his lower stomach. Fluttering her lashes as she cracked her eyes open, she could see the finely etched muscles of his chest and abs. It was clear he had not ignored his body as he pursued magic. He was strong.

“I was once born on this day, the Solstice of Winter,” he intoned, voice deep and resonate as he took in the woman’s shuddering body underneath him. Her dark blue eyes were open again. Her mouth parted in awe as she gazed up at him. “This was the day of my birth and it will be the start of my rebirth. I call the Destroyer to be present in this ritual of Death and Rebirth. Winter, I call upon you to empower this circle. The Ruler of Death, Cold, and Darkness, I call upon you.”

Tom’s magic curled about him. Bella hissed as stinging pleasure washed over her in waves. Her breasts rose and fell with every gasping breath she took. Her hips unconsciously angled upward, offering herself to his shockingly large and thick cock. Tom’s dark eyes were like daggers, piercing her straight through. 

“Witness Bellatrix Solana Black offer her life! She will be unmade so that I, Tom Marvolo Riddle, may be remade. Just as Winter gives way to Spring, from Death comes Life. I call upon the Destroyer, Ruler of Death, Cold, and Darkness! Bear witness to this act! I call upon Winter to Bless and Accept her sacrifice!”

Cold, burning cold, filled the chamber. Frost coated the pillars and the smooth quartz floor at Tom’s feet. The blood runes painted on Bella’s skin turned to ice. She shivered and shook, her skin taking on a grayish quality, but instead of crying out in fear she laughed. 

“My Lord, Winter has come!”

Untouched by the cold, Tom gripped the base of his cock and stepped closer so that his spongy head caressed her soft, bare folds. The power in the room resonated like the unending ring of a bell. Tom braced himself with a hand flat next to her head. She stared up at him, eyes bright with need and fear. 

“This will hurt,” he told her, a gentle promise. 

Bella swallowed. “Yes, my Lord.”

He kissed her lips, soft and chaste, then slammed forward with a single violent thrust that held the power of his entire body. She screamed as she was slammed backward and up, the hold on her legs and wrists was painful, but she hardly noticed, her whole body feeling torn in two.

Tom gave a low groan. She was tight, very tight, and her expression as it twisted in pain was exquisite. It made his cock throb and thicken even more. He tore free from the hot grip of her body and slammed inside again just to see tears gather in her eyes and spill down her pale cheeks. Again and again, he slammed into her. The more he thrust, the wetter she became as blood slicked her passage. 

Bella sobbed as searing hot pain stabbed deep inside her body. Her wrists and thighs were already deeply bruised, but even as her Lord tore and thrust, tearing her apart from the inside out, she moaned, the sound deep and primal. She canted her hips, welcoming the pain and the sensation of something massive moving inside of her. Through her tears, she saw his expression, open-mouthed with pleasure, eyes burning with lust, and she was happy. 

Tom began to thrust faster, shallower, punching deep again and again. He was sweating now, panting as he practically beat his hips against hers. This life was his, given to him freely, and he would take it. He gripped her short curls in one hand and crashed his mouth to hers. Thrusting his tongue inside, he drank in her sobs and cries for long minutes before biting down on her lips. The cold became brutal, the touch of Winter pervading the chamber. Bella’s lips were lined in blue, her eyelashes crystalizing with ice. Her breasts bounced as he thrust harder. She moaned and dripped blood, staring with perfect love and devotion up at his face, even as she cried from the agony of being taken so violently.

Tom was close, close to something he had never felt before. His blood pounded in his veins, a burning hot river racing with the force of a typhoon. It filled his head with a curtain of red lust. Fuck was it amazing. He wanted to crawl inside her body and bathe in her boiling hot blood. She gripped him so fucking tight; it was so bloody hot and slick. He dove again and again into that place of toe-curling pleasure. He’d never felt so good! Pleasure drowned out thought, frying his brain, and Tom wrapped his hands around her throat and squeezed until Bella could make no sound whatsoever. Her expression looked tortured, her eyes big, mouth gaping helplessly as she was strangled.

They came together, Tom releasing a cry of triumph, Bella going rigid. Magic speared through them both, an ice javelin the size of a fist impaling them straight through their core. The agony was nearly unbearable. Everything erupted into a scrambled mess of searing electricity, black and red and white…

Draco lay panting in the snow. His sides and back were bleeding where the creature’s talons had cut into him; his arms were still pinned to his sides. Whatever, whoever, had him, Draco could feel their cold breath, slow and even. 

He’d struggled madly, fury blinding him, but as the minutes passed without the creature holding him budging an inch. He would have fought forever if he hadn’t heard the faint beat of a drum and the chime of bells. It distracted him. Panting, nearing exhaustion, Draco had collapsed to his knees and fell onto his side before going still. The music seemed to cut through the blind panic and rage, calmed his racing heart until its beat matched that of the drum. The cold patience of the Hold fell over him; he’d wait and watch for the moment something changed.

At first, nothing was in front of him except the silence of a dark forest and then a naked Being was crouched there, head tilted as it stared down at Draco. White hair tangled, face cragged with age, It was nonetheless inhuman with black pools for eyes and sharp piranha teeth. Draco met the Creature’s dark, endless eyes fearlessly. He tested the hold on his arms and realized it was different. Draco pushed as hard as he could and the rough skin of tree bark bit into his arms. With a grunt, Draco used as much force as he could and the branches holding him cracked. He was free.

Draco sat up, scrapped and bleeding from the shallow punctures on his sides and back and from breaking free of the wooden branches holding him. He didn’t turn to check his wounds, however. Instead, he kept his eyes pinned to the Being who still crouched in front of him with a wicked smile.

“Ah, little Hunter,” It said, voice somehow filling every available space without shouting. “There you are.”

Draco tilted his own head. He was thinking again. Clarity descended on his mind for the first time in what felt like ages. There was no panic, no emotional havoc, no obsession. He took a deep breath, pulling in the frigid air. The snow was cold and wet under him, the forest empty and still. From a far distance, he could still hear the steadily beating drum and the jingle of bells. 

The God of Cold and Darkness stood and looked in the direction of the faint music. A smile lit Its face. “He dances for you. It looks like you found your way Home.” Black eyes looked down at him. “But before you leave… You must prove your worth and pass My test.”

Draco slowly pushed up and got to his feet. He was so much smaller than the God, but that didn’t bother him. “What test?”

The Being grinned and this time blood stained Its sharp teeth. “A Test of Self. Are you truly a Hunter or are you Prey? Are you worthy of the Dancer or are you destined to die so that others can live?”

Blond hair falling around his face, Draco’s eyes glinted silver. “The Dancer is mine,” he answered, voice hard and unyielding, a predator’s warning growl.

The Being made no response. It turned and began to walk away. Its steps were as graceful and soft as falling snowflakes as It glided into the forest, disappearing between the darkness of two trees.

Draco took another deep breath and listened to the faint drums and bells for a moment longer. He couldn't feel Harry at all, the bond likely silenced by the God, but the music reassured him that Harry was close and well. Stealing himself, he stepped forward to face his challenge…

Professor Sprout had discovered the disturbance in the courtyard and sent a Patronus messenger to inform them. Now, Dumbledore and Narcissa stood in the open doorway, and even with Dumbledore’s magical shield, they had to hold tight to the doorframe or risk being thrown back into the castle. 

The wind was a howling, vicious thing, a stationary tornado of snow and ice. Dumbledore’s beard and long hair were flung this way and that while the skin of their hands and faces went numb. Dumbledore’s robes also whipped around his legs while Narcissa’s skirt did the same. They hardly noticed, their attention riveted on the center of the tornado. Illuminated by what looked like moonlight only every ten seconds or so was a small figure. Bending, turning, leg lifting up and out, hands weaving a graceful pattern, the figure danced to some music that could not be heard over the scream of the wind.

“That’s Harry!” Narcissa yelled, one hand holding tight to the doorframe, the other keeping her hair in place.

Dumbledore barely heard her voice even though she stood directly next to him. He gave her his full attention and yelled back, “What?” 

Narcissa yelled again, “Harry! That’s Harry!”

Dumbledore frowned and looked into he blizzard. He cast some diagnostic magic, but his spells were rebuffed no matter how delicate or powerful. He took Narcissa by the arm and stepped back inside. The door was left open, so the wind was still incredible, but the walls buffered it just enough they could understand each other at a shout.

“This is powerful magic at work,” Dumbledore told her loudly.

Narcissa closed her eyes. She could sense the cold, the Dark, but there was something else there. Something that wasn’t quite human. “It’s the fae! They still have a connection to the boys.”

“I fear interfering will do more harm than good at this point,” Dumbledore concluded, holding tight to his hair and beard so it didn’t lash Narcissa in the face.

“I will stand watch,” Narcissa answered, agreeing. 

Dumbledore nodded. “I will join you.”

He conjured armchairs for them to sit in and put up a strong barrier that softened the scream and fury of the wind just enough that it wasn’t torturous to sit just inside the doorway. He also ordered lap throws to help keep them warm from the cold. The freezing bite of winter would not be denied no matter what spell or ward Dumbledore applied.

“Minerva,” Dumbledore called cheerfully, eyes sparkling once more. His deputy had been hanging back to keep out of the worst of the wind. “Will you return to the tower and inform their friends that the boys have been found and the adults will handle things from here?”

Minerva gave Narcissa a hard look, but she nodded. “Let me know the minute anything changes.”

“Of course, of course,” Dumbledore agreed. He gave Narcissa a warm smile. “Cocoa, my dear?”

Narcissa ignored him, her eyes pinned to the doorway and the blizzard beyond it that was holding her children hostage. She had to trust they would come out of whatever trial they faced. All she could do was pray to the Old Ones that her faith would not be in vain…

The forest gave way to a jungle. As soon as the humidity pressed against Draco’s skin, he felt himself relax only for a frown to crease his expression a moment later. It was quiet and still. As if some great predator had passed by, silencing the jungle around it. A sense of violation swept through Draco’s core and he wrapped his arms around his chest protectively. 

He could see it now. There were cuts scored into the trees and snapped branches. The brush had been trampled. Vines and the elephant ears had been severed completely in places, leaving them hanging limp and withered. The plants and leaves seemed battered as if by a great storm. A now familiar sense of paranoia washed over Draco, his blood pressure increased and his thoughts began to cloud as anger and agitation began to take hold. Now that he’d felt the difference between this and the cool logic he usually thought with, he realized just how deeply affected he’d become by the Dark Lord’s attack. 

The cold breath of winter shivered down his back. It gave him a split second to think clearly again. Draco reached for the cold, determined to keep his thoughts clear. In a way, it was as familiar and comforting as the warm humidity found in his own mind. For Harry’s mind had originally been a place of bleak, cold emptiness. A place with hurricane force winds and a flat arctic plane that had been utterly empty had been created by a brutal reality where Harry had hated himself as much as everyone had hated him. Fortunately, the bond to Draco had softened that arctic tundra. Harry’s submission and Draco’s possessive love had transformed the landscape. Now if one were to look into Harry’s mind, they’d find rolling, snowy hills, softly falling snowflakes, blue skies and gentle breezes. It was still cold but not bitterly so. It was a place of simplicity and breathtaking beauty.

With his thoughts focused solely on Harry, Draco managed to push away the trauma and paranoia that lay thick and heavy in his own mind, and slowly he felt himself transform. When Draco blinked his eyes clear, he was lower to the ground, his vision was in black and white. He realized he had taken the animal-form he’d found with the fairies. 

Four-footed with claws on each paw, he was vaguely feline except he had pitch-black scales instead of fur and a more canine-shaped head with a mussel filled with sharp teeth to match. He also had a tail much like a greyhound - thin and whip-like. His eyes, however, were slitted like a snake’s. Also like a snake, he had two front fangs that were hollow and connected to a sac that produced a very deadly venom. When he was in kill-mode, the venom would pool in his cheeks and drip from his mouth, a cloudy yellow that smoked when it came in contact with anything organic. 

He was a conglomeration of predators, making him sleek, beautiful, and extremely deadly. More importantly, Draco was able to keep his thoughts clear, immune in this form to the paranoia and anger that pervaded his mind like an invisible, poisonous fog. It chilled him to the bone to realize how corrupt his mind had become, his every decision and reaction for the last two months had become flawed. 

He’d attacked Harry, pushed away the Malfoys, and had revealed too much to Dumbledore. He’d secluded himself and Harry, not making enough use of the resources around him and definitely making no progress in his goal of building connections with the other students. He’d become obsessed with Occlumency with no real results. His grades had suffered; Harry had suffered. All because he had put himself in reach of a wizard he had known to be connected to Voldemort, because he had thought he could handle it. 

Growling, Draco acknowledged that the difference in their powers had been made perfectly clear. The damage he had taken had been more massive than he had even realized. Without clear vision, his perspective had become as egocentric as most people’s. Draco wasn’t most people. His almost inhuman practicality and awareness made his mind different from the average person’s and gave him the ability to master nearly any person or situation. With his unique perspective warped, Draco had made so many stupid mistakes and he refused to let it continue. Whatever it took, he would free himself from this curse. 

Stalking past the battered jungle, he pushed past his jungle defense and into his true mind. The truth was his mind wasn’t a tangled, near-impassable jungle full of predators and death anymore. The bond had changed him as much as it had changed Harry. His true mind was a rainforest with narrow but walkable paths and beautiful vegetation. Sunlight filtered down through the thick canopy above, creating an eternal twilight underneath. There were purple and white orchids hanging in the trees. Passion fruit flowers and yellow jasmine were in bloom giving the air a sweet smell. Vivid red and orange bromeliads grew along the forest floor. Red monkey bush vines hung from tree branches.

There were still predators stalking the deep shadows - large snakes, black panthers, and spiders a little bigger than a man’s fist. They moved in the shadows and up in the tree branches. It was dangerous here in Draco’s mind. Death, violence, and pain would never be foreign to him, but it wasn’t the bloodbath the jungle had presented. Draco walked through the paths as familiar to him as if he’d been there a thousand times. It was too still, too silent. Something was very wrong…

Harry felt cold arms wrap around him as he spun and he was pulled against the Winter God’s chest. He looked up into that ancient, aged face trustingly. The God smiled and led him a few steps in a waltz. Harry moved easily with the Being, offering no resistance. The bells that had appeared on his ankles chimed softly as they moved, and Harry slowly realized his clothes had changed. 

He now wore a white lace skirt lined in white silk that fell to the snow. A white, leather corset was synched tight around his middle, making his waist smaller than his hips, and bound his ribs tight. It came to stop an inch below his nipples. You could see them - pale and pink - below the lace that covered his chest. It went all the way up his neck and gently framed his jaw. It also encased his arms in tight sleeves that fell gracefully over his hands. When Harry lifted his arms, the lace folded backward over his wrists and forearms like the opening of a flower. 

On a spin, Harry realized his skirt parted in the front, revealing short, white shorts underneath. The shorts revealed far more than Harry had ever dared reveal before, falling only a few inches over his thighs. Thin, white leather garters were clipped to the front and back of the shorts to hold up the soft, white silk stockings that rose just above his knees. His feet were encased in white leather ankle boots with a high heel, making his legs look longer and gave his thighs and calves a more pleasing sinuous shape. A string of silver bells were tied around each ankle just above the boots and chimed every time he stepped. Snow had fallen and caught on his soft, black hair, creating an illusion of a short veil over his head. He was the image of a bride with dark pink lips, eyes full of love. Both provocative and yet innocent, the garment and the Dancer both pleased the God.

“The one to whom you belong has woken to his true self, calmed by your Dance,” the God told him gently, spinning the boy in Its arms. “You did well. He now undertakes his Test.”

Harry bowed his head, a blush staining his cheeks. 

“Come.”

Harry was led through the forest, his steps chiming softly through the silent night. Draco appeared between two massive trees around a turn in the path. He looked dirty and exhausted. He was naked, blood stained his sides and scrapes lined his upper arms, but his grey eyes lit up with gentle warmth as soon as he saw Harry. They came together and Draco leaned forward to press their foreheads together.

“I’m going to come back to you,” he promised, voice rough and determined. “I’m going to end this once and for all.” He rubbed his cheek against Harry’s lovingly. 

Harry opened his mouth to say something, but Draco was already looking off into the shadows, his attention laser sharp and focused. Heart in his throat, aching to follow in Draco’s footsteps, Harry watched the battered blond walk off into the darkness alone. The Old One bent, filling Harry’s vision with the galaxies spinning in Its eyes.

“Wait for him. He will return to you stronger.”

Harry gasped, a protest on his lips - He didn’t want to leave Draco! - but then he was being spun out of a wall of wind and ice and snow. Cold hands caught him and he looked up to plead that he be allowed to stay, but it was Narcissa staring down at him, expression creased in concern. She wrapped him in her arms, saying something, but Harry couldn’t hear her. All his attention was on the center of the courtyard. Narcissa had seen it too, for she let him go to rush forward and kneel in the snow. Draco lay naked and unconscious, the tattooed celtic knot glowing faintly at the hollow of his throat…

A young buck stepped out of the shadows of the forest, unafraid and unmolested, for it lived here always. It was the part of Harry that would be forever connected to Draco through their bond. It was now taller than Draco’s animal-form; his legs were long and slender. He had two large, fuzzy knots sitting in front of his cupped ears, his antlers growing in. The buck looked thinner than he should and tired, but he was still alert and responsive. Along his back lay a coating of pure white snow, the smell crisp and clean.

The young deer lowered his head and Draco gently butted his scaled forehead against that of the deer. “I’m going to come back to you,” he promised silently. Their bond was still closed, so he couldn’t speak into Harry’s mind, but he hoped Harry heard him somehow. “I’m going to end this once and for all.” Draco rubbed against his cheek against the deer’s one more time, comforting himself as much as Harry, before setting off on his hunt.

It didn’t take him long. There was a pungent smell on the air that didn’t belong. He stalked the scent, keeping his body low to the ground. It took him a minute, the smell too pervasive to follow easily, but he found it. In the hollow of a dying tree, Draco found a sinister looking pale green and brown cactus with vicious spines. Even as he watched, the cactus shuddered and launched its spines through the air, spreading the cactus’s influence and poisoning the vegetation around it. The cactus had grown large, but Draco wasn’t leaving until it was destroyed. He’d hunt for every spine it had thrown and remove it. He didn’t care how long it took. He would have his mind back. 

Draco lowered his head and growled. His heart beat steadily in his chest as venom began to fill his mouth. He spat and hissed, venom splattering the cactus, and it began to smoke as the acidic fluid touched its fleshy body. His poison also splashed some of the vegetation around it. Pain lanced through Draco’s mind, knocking him off his feet. Growling, Draco stood. There was no way to prevent some of his own mind from being damaged as he attacked the foreign object. Heart pounding, his mouth filled again with venom. Without hesitation, he spat, ignoring the brutal pain that followed. He was determined to be free …

The storm had ended. Severus would be brewing the poison for a few hours more, until the sun broke the sky. Lucius would have remained with him to see it through, but an elf had appeared and summoned him to the Infirmary. Lucius had no choice but to reminded Severus of his promise that half of the potion belonged to him before making his way quickly to the Hospital Wing.

He braced himself for the worst, but the first thing he saw when he pushed through the double doors was Harry dressed in a provocative and yet breathtakingly beautiful wedding gown. It drew attention to the fact that Harry had grown taller and more willowy in the four months they’d spent at Hogwarts. His hair seemed a little longer, too, the ends curling slightly underneath a thin layer of snow that still somehow graced the top of the child’s head. In addition to this, the beautifully stitched corset made Harry’s waist seem smaller and his shoulders and hips wider. Jewel green eyes blinked at him from across Draco’s hospital bed. Harry was holding tightly to the blond’s hand, the gorgeous lace from Harry’s long sleeves falling over both their hands.

“What is his condition?” Lucius asked, finding it hard to tear his eyes away from Harry, dressed as he was.

“There is nothing wrong with him that I can tell,” Madam Pomfrey answered. Her eyes kept darting to Harry as well; it was clear she was shocked by his attire.

It was interesting to note that Professor McGonagall, who stood at the head of the bed, did not seem shocked at all. In fact, when her eyes rested on Harry, she almost seemed awed. Lucius stepped closer to his son’s bedside and cast Narcissa a curious glance. She stood at the foot of Draco’s bed, looking down at their boy with a thoughtful expression. She didn’t acknowledge his presence. Deep thoughts moved through her eyes. Dumbledore stood next to her, stroking his beard. He gave Lucius a cheerful smile.

“Harry had a type of vision. He claims Draco is being tested and the boy will wake as soon as the trial has been completed.”

“By whom?” Lucius demanded. 

Harry looked up and met Lucius’s eyes. “The God of Winter. She said Draco will come back stronger.”

A thrill passed through Lucius, his breath catching. The God of Winter had chosen to test his son and had gone so far as to promise his Blessing.

“Likely it is a fairy playing some trick,” Madam Pomfrey huffed and crossed her arms. She was Christian and did not believe the Old Gods remained. “That symbol on Mr. Malfoy’s throat has been activated. It is my understanding that it was placed on the boy during his time in Faerie.”

Lucius saw the Celtic knot was indeed glowing, but the knowledge in Harry’s eyes, the unmelting snow, his gown, made him believe Harry was telling the truth. It wasn’t a fairy who had Draco but a God.

“We will leave him in your care, Madam Pomfrey, until the end of winter break,” Narcissa spoke, slow and determined. “If he has not awoken by that point, we will come and fetch both boys.” 

Lucius agreed. The God may consider it interference if they were to remove Draco from the place of his Test. However, once the students returned from break, Draco would be too vulnerable to be left unguarded. Dumbledore had long ago proven his incompetence. Lucius reached over and gently clasped Narcissa’s arm, silently giving her support and comfort. Draco was an incredible soul. Lucius was confident that their son would come through this triumphant and win the God’s blessing. His eyes fell on Harry once more. The boy practically exuded the aura of Winter, which was likely why none of them had considered offering the boy a robe to help cover him up. Harry clearly wore the God’s favor. A thrill passed through him once more, awed in the presence of something so much Greater than he…

Ron and his brothers remained in the Tower as promised, but none of them had gone to bed. They stood watch in the common room, quiet as the howl of the storm had raged. It was almost dawn when the portrait finally opened. Four heads snapped over only for their eyes to go wide as Harry stepped through. He wore a corset and dress! Harry’s glasses were gone, his eyes a bright grass green. His hair looked less wild somehow, more feminine with a slight curl. A thin layer of snow made the top white. Heels made him a few inches taller, his waist looked so tiny, his arms and neck so slender.

“Blimey! How’d you get turned into a girl?” Ron blurted, a blush staining his cheeks.

“I assure you, Mr. Weasley,” McGonagall said, voice chilly. “That Mr. Potter is still very much a boy. He is tired. Please do not keep him up. Allow him to go to bed in peace.”

The redheads all nodded quickly. She gave them a stern glance and swept out of the room. Fred and George practically leapt over a couch to stand in front of Harry. Harry looked up at them, lips a dark pink, eyes bright and framed by long black lashes. 

“Bloody hell. You’re so pretty,” the twins said in unison. They reached forward to touch a softly curling lock of hair but hesitated to actually make contact.

Harry immediately blushed, bowing his head and clasping his hands in front of him shyly.

“Where’s Draco?” Percy asked, worried. He’d come to stand beside the twins. He frowned at them in warning. They all knew if any of them touched Harry without permission, Draco would have their skins. And that wasn’t an exaggeration. They’d known the boys for two years. They knew just how possessive and vicious Draco could get.

“He’s in the Infirmary,” Harry told them. The Malfoys had made it clear to keep the Dark God a secret. “Madam Pomfrey said he’ll wake in a few days.”

“Why’re you dressed like that?” Ron demanded. He was blinking slowly, still mesmerized and shocked by Harry’s appearance. “Don’t you care you’re wearing a dress?”

Harry looked down at himself and smoothed his hand over the corset and the silk-lined lace at his hips. His blush darkened, but a smile curled the corner of his lips. Looking up shyly through his lashes, he admitted, “I think it’s beautiful.” He swayed side to side, letting the material slide over his legs. 

Fred and George both swallowed hard, their pants growing a bit tight. Ron continued to stare, baffled.

Percy scowled at the twins. “Time for bed,” he ordered firmly. “Come on, Ron. Let’s help Harry get ready.”

Ron took Harry’s hand and led him toward the stairs. “I think I'd die of embarrassment if someone put me in a dress.” He looked over at his friend and Harry looked back at him trustingly. “But… I guess it does look kinda okay on you.”

Fred and George stood rooted to the spot as they watched Harry climb the stairs. The slit in the dress opened withe very step up. It revealed a slit down the middle of the skirt. They could see bare thighs and silk stockings and small shorts. The kid was a total knockout!

Percy firmly shut the dorm door behind them and locked it. He was glad Ron was still young enough to be unaffected by Harry’s look. It wasn’t just that the dress was beautiful and provocative, especially to a wizard’s way of thinking, but Harry’s sweet temperament and trusting nature made it all the more arousing. “Get his pajamas, please,” he ordered. 

He knelt behind Harry and began to work on untying the corset. He’d never done it before, so it took him quite a few minutes. Harry stood patient and uncomplaining. Ron had perched himself at the end of the bed, his rat in his lap. Percy finally got the damn thing off, his fingers throbbing from having to untie the many rows. Ron’s gasp drew his attention and he looked to see that Harry had unbuttoned the skirt and it now pooled on the floor at his feet.

The lace shirt was tucked into the white shorts, which sat low on Harry's hips. High-heels gave his legs subtle definition and silver bells graced his ankles. Skin-tight stockings encased those slender legs. The strip of bare thigh between stockings and lace seemed shockingly provocative. Even Percy felt himself reacting, the memories of watching the boys get off during the two times his tattoo had been renewed came back to him full force.

“Bloody hell,” Ron breathed. He was deeply shocked, his face dark red. He’d never seen lingerie before, and this definitely fell into that category. 

Harry was oblivious to the other two boys in the room. He bent, giving the redheads a spectacular view of his ass, and carefully lifted the skirt. He knew how precious this gift was and he was determined to take good care of it. He also took the corset from Percy’s limp hands. Walking over to his armoire, the bells around his ankles chiming softly, he busied himself with hanging and storing the skirt and corset. Looking over his shoulder, he asked sweetly, “Can you help me out of the shirt. I don’t want it to tear.”

Percy swallowed hard, his fingers trembling, but he went over. He smoothed his hand down Harry’s back and arms, looking for buttons. He bit back a groan at the feel of how warm and soft Harry’s skin was. The buttons were tiny and ran down the boy’s spine. There were dozens of them. Percy slowly worked the buttons open, the lace parting to reveal pale, golden skin. 

“You got a tattoo?” Ron demanded. The shock of his friend wearing strange clothes that revealed far more than they covered disappeared in an instant.

Percy looked to see the silver-white dragon staring up at him from Harry’s side. Percy quickly swallowed and desperately told his dick to calm down. He didn’t want to die on the floor in the First-year boys’ dorm because of a boner.

“Yeah.” Harry smiled, joy radiating from his face. “Draco gave it to me.”

“Draco can do tattoos?” Ron’s eyes lit up. “I want one!”

“Mum would kill you,” Percy told him, rolling his eyes behind his glasses. He sighed in relief as the last button came undone. “You can get it off yourself, right?”

“Yes. Thank you, Percy.” Harry gave him a sweet smile.

Ron pouted on the bed. “But I want one! Maybe a lion. That’d be so wicked!”

“If Draco gives you a tattoo, you don’t get to pick what it is,” Percy told him, amused by his little brother.

“Oh.” Ron considered that. “Maybe if I asked nicely?”

“Mum would still kill you,” Percy repeated.

Ron’s jaw set stubbornly and Percy sighed. At least he could count on Draco not giving Ron a tattoo based on his little brother’s whim. Draco would only give one if he meant it heart and soul, and Percy doubted a tattoo was in Ron’s future. Fortunately their little argument distracted Percy from the rest of Harry’s undressing. The boy came over bare-footed in a t-shirt and a night robe. Harry yawned, the snow in his hair melting as the light of dawn broke through the window. Water dripped off the ends of his hair and darkened the robe he wore. 

“Come on. Time for bed.” Percy smiled and pulled Harry over to his bed. Ron crawled unprompted under the covers of the middle bed. Percy tucked Harry in and cast a drying charm at his head. It made the boy’s hair fluff up and become messy once more. He grinned. “Good night. Try and sleep in if you can.”

“Good night. Sleep well,” Harry answered sleepily. He turned on his side facing the bed Ron was in, green eyes blinking slowly.

“Night, Percy. Night, Harry,” Ron called. 

Percy came over and smoothed the covers over this brother on his way out the door. “Sleep well.”

Bella woke on the floor of Lucius’s office. The diary lay open before her. All sense of magic was gone from it. Pain lanced up her spine and instinctively she closed her legs. Something hot and wet coated her thighs. It only took a second to realize it was blood. Crying, she sat up. Her arms and wrists were bruised. Her throat was swollen. She could breathe, but talking was out of the question. It felt like she had swallowed lava. Her thighs ached, but all of that paled in comparison to the scream of pain inside her.

She managed to get to her hands and knees. She had no magic to speak of, but that was okay because her spells must have run out. An elf appeared, looking absolutely shocked. Without being told, it summoned towels for her to hold between her legs and, not knowing what else to do, began to clean the blood from the floor. It wouldn’t keep Lucius from knowing she had been in there or hide the fact the diary was dead, but at least he wouldn’t have her blood to play with. 

Bellatrix sat still for a long minute just trying to breathe through the pain. She had to leave. Before her sister or Lucius returned. Her hands cupped protectively over the small roundness of her stomach. She had to protect her Lord and Master. Gritting her teeth, Bellatrix forced herself to stand and limped over to the fireplace. She unraveled the wards with a careful tug in just the right place. There was no more need for subtle. The elves tried to stop her, but they were bound not to harm her. She was of their Master’s Blood. Harming her would mean their death. With a grimace of absolute agony, tears streaking her face, Bellatrix lifted a handful of floo powder. Throwing it down, she whispered her destination and disappeared in a flash of green.

Chapter end.

A/N: A long chapter. There’s a lot happening here. Let me know what you think please. :D

 

Chapter Text

Interlude

Lucius and Narcissa arrived home shortly after dawn. They were both emotionally exhausted and deep in thought about everything that had occurred, so it took a second longer than it normally would to notice that both Lottie and Dobby were standing against the wall in the receiving room with heads lowered, trembling. 

“What is it?” Lucius demanded as he spelled Narcissa clean of floo-ash. 

“Master…” Dobby whispered. Both elves sank to their knees. “Masters, Lady Black has escaped…”

Narcissa sucked in a soft breath as Lucius went perfectly still. His face went cold and hard, his eyes glinting silver. “How is that possible?” he demanded, his tone even and yet vibrating with threat.

Lottie was practically a puddle on the floor, quivering and sobbing, leaving poor Dobby to speak for them both. Brutally twisting his ears, Dobby squeaked and whimpered, the story coming out in stuttered bits. “I’s… I’s don’t… don’t know, Masters! D-Dobby and L-Lottie were cleaning M-Masters! Then we’s- we’s falls asleep r-right on the floors! W-when we’s w-wake up, Masters, w-we sensed L-Lady B-Black be h-hurt! D-Dobby and Lottie went right away! L-Lady B-Black be on the f-floor! S-She be bleeding! Lottie fetched her a towel and Dobby offered to get L-Lady B-Black anything for her, but she didn’t speak, M-Masters! Then- Then she s-stood and went to the f-floo. Masters! Dobby and Lottie could not stop her Masters! She be hurt bad! Dobby and Lottie were afraid to h-hurt her more! She used the f-floo and went away, Masters! Dobby tried to follow her, but she went to a place Dobby can not find her! Masters, we are so sorry!”

Lucius’s wand snapped out of his cane in a flash. “Crucio,” he intoned with cold clarity. 

As the two elves screamed and shrieked, thrashing on the floor in acute agony, Lucius’s thoughts raced. The manor’s wards had been penetrated once, when Draco had been stolen as an infant. It had seemed impossible then. The manor had stood impenetrable for over five hundred years. The house and wards had been added to and remodeled by Malfoys since it’s construction, but that should have only increased the wards’ power over the years. If it had been impossible then, it was inconceivable now. Since Draco’s abduction, Lucius had become obsessive about powering and checking the wards. He’d added a whole new layer and extended the ward boundary by a quarter of a mile. They should have been unassailable!

Coldly furious, Lucius turned to his wife. His spell snapped off, leaving the helpless elves whimpering. “Did you help arrange this, Wife?”

Narcissa looked pale as a ghost. Her hand rested at the base of her throat, her expression clearly shocked. “No, Lucius. You know I didn’t.” But her voice was faint, scared.

Lucius took a step closer to her. “There is no other way around my wards, Narcissa.”

Narcissa’s hand dropped, temper sparking in her sky blue eyes. “I would not help my sister escape, Lucius! She’s clearly taken by the Black madness and a threat to my son! I may not want her caged and tormented, but I do not want her free to act as she pleases!”

“You’ve forever underestimated your sister, Narcissa,” Lucius said coldly, taking another step closer so that he stood directly in front of her, her head tilted back so that she could meet his eyes. “That witch is vicious and dangerous. She rightfully belonged in my dungeon.”

“You have no understanding of a sibling bond, Lucius,” Narcissa spat, eyes narrowed. “I know her better than anyone. I know exactly what she is capable of! I secured those rooms. I cannot imagine how she managed to escape them.”

“You do not understand her at all, Narcissa. You only see the lost little sister you left behind when we married.” Lucius grabbed his wife carefully by the hair, cradling the back of her head. “You will allow me entrance into your mind, Wife,” he commanded. “I will see just how compromised your weakness has made us.”

Narcissa had no right to refuse. She could manipulate and influence him as was her right, but in the end Lucius was her husband and she had to obey. Refusing to flinch, she stared defiantly into his cold, silver eyes.

Legilimens,” Lucius incanted, voice sharp as a knife. He wasn't a master in the Mind Arts, but he was proficient. It also helped that there was a strong marriage bond between Narcissa and him. He’d had Bellatrix at his mercy for months before Narcissa discovered her. He knew her magic and he hunted for it ruthlessly, completely uncaring of the pain it caused Narcissa.

It was late June. Narcissa had just finished her Sixth-year of Hogwarts, Bellatrix her Fifth. They sat together silently in a compartment alone. Their friends knew to leave them alone, the two Black sisters descending into a dark mood. Almost two years ago to the day their older sister Andromeda had graduated and eloped with a Muggleborn. She’d been disowned, naturally; her name forbidden in their house. Ever since that day, their home had become oppressive and forbidding. Their mother watched everything they did and punished any small error. This summer in particular promised to be especially unhappy.

Narcissa looked at her younger sister. They were born only a year apart and should have been really close, but Narcissa had always gotten along better with the more calm and reasonable Andromeda. Bellatrix was so unpredictable and prone to strange moods, but she was Narcissa’s sister. Narcissa worried about her, especially now.

“Are you scared he’ll pick me?” Bellatrix asked suddenly.

Lord Lucius Malfoy, the impressive boy who had taken over his family name and businesses at the young age of thirteen at his father’s death, had a betrothal contract made with the Black family at his birth. Andromeda, four years older than Lucius, had been the intended bride, but she had obviously disqualified herself. That left Narcissa or Bellatrix. The daughter that Lucius chose would become his betrothed and finish her years at Hogwarts as the contract bid. Directly after graduation, they would be wed. As for the remaining daughter, their mother had already promised during Yule that she would be removed from Hogwarts permanently, to distance her from any more dangerous influences. Lucius had just graduated. He’d make his offer to one of them soon. One of them would not be returning to Hogwarts next year.

Narcissa’s fists clenched on her thighs. Hatred for her older sister made her tremble. This was all Andromeda’s fault! If she hadn’t been so perverse and selfish, they wouldn’t be in this position. The truth was, Narcissa was terrified Lucius would pick Bellatrix and leave her behind with their mother alone. She desperately wanted to be chosen, even knowing that it would condemn her little sister instead.

“Don’t be scared, Cissa,” Bellatrix said softly. She had the same blue eyes as Narcissa, the same pale skin, but that is where their similarities ended. Bellatrix had wild, curly black hair; Narcissa straight blonde. Bellatrix was curvy and vivacious; Narcissa slender and reserved.

“I only have one more year of Hogwarts anyway,” Narcissa voiced. “It’d be better if he’d pick you. You’d get two more years before…”

Bellatrix reached over and took her hand. “I’ve seen the way he looks at you. He’ll pick you,” she said softly. Turning, she impulsively wrapped her arms around her sister in a tight hug. “Promise me. Promise you’ll come visit after you marry. Don’t forget me, Cissa. Please don’t forget me.”

Tears burning her eyes, Narcissa hugged her sister back. “I’ll never forget you, Bella. You’re my little sister. I’ll do what I can. Promise.”

Narcissa jerked awake. The room was nearly pitch dark. Her ward was still in place, she could feel it, but impossibly she knew she was no longer alone. Her whole body went tense as she felt her mattress dip. 

“Shhh. It’s just me,” came a soft voice.

“Bella…” Narcissa didn’t relax.

Bella had changed. Her eyes glinted more wildly than ever. Her moods had become more extreme. Narcissa had learned to be afraid of her little sister. During her last visit home at Yule, Bellatrix had been quiet and perfect, but on the third day she had gone into a fit of rage. She’d physically attacked Narcissa, busting Narcissa’s lip and leaving painful scratches and bruises on her body. The hatred in Bellatrix’s eyes then had chilled Narcissa to the core. After that, Bella had been punished with Crucio intermittently for an hour. Shaken, horrified, Narcissa had listened as Belltrix howled with laughter for the first fifteen minutes before finally breaking down into screams. Narcissa had never been so grateful in her life to go back to Hogwarts. Now she was back home, but only for one more night. She had graduated and would be married to Lucius the next day, leaving her family for good.

“How’d you get past my ward?” she asked in a frightened whisper.

“Cissa… Cissa, I’m sorry… for before…” Bellatrix’s voice was sweet and soft, the way it had been when they were younger, the way it had been on that last train ride together from Hogwarts.

Narcissa immediately melted. “Bella…”

Bellatrix wrapped her body around Narcissa’s in a soft embrace. “I didn’t know it was you… I think I’m going mad, Cissa… I’m so scared… I don’t even know who I am anymore…”

Narcissa stroked her sister’s curls. She wanted to promise to help her, to take her away from this house, but she knew it was impossible. Their mother owned Bellatrix. There was nothing she or Lucius could do. “You need to get married, Bella. I know Mother has gone over the List with you. Pick one! Any one! I’ll do what I can to make them see how advantageous it would be accept you. Lucius has great influence…”

Bella chuckled wetly. She’d started crying, her tears warming Narcissa’s shoulder. “Mother favors Rudolphus.”

Narcissa bit her lip. Rudolphus Lestrange was cold and frightening. At school, it was no secret that familiars and pets were not to be left alone with him. He had killed more than one animal during their time at Hogwarts. “What about a Greengrass?” Narcissa suggested. “Together we could convince Mother…”

Bellatrix laughed wildly, making Narcissa tense in fear, but her sister didn’t lash out. “Mother will not accept anyone Neutral. She distrusts everyone, Narcissa. Only the most staunchly Dark will be acceptable to her.” Bellatrix’s voice dropped to a whisper, all humor bleeding out of it. “Only if they will hurt me will she accept them. All bad girls need to be punished, you know.”

“Bella…” Narcissa’s heart ached for her sister, only sixteen and already so broken.

“Nevermind, Cissa…” Bellatrix whispered. “Just don’t forget your proimse.”

“I’ll never forget you, Bella,” Narcissa said again.

Narcissa had been married nearly half a year now. She had fallen more in love with Lucius than she had expected to. She was happy, but guilt still weighed on her heart. She’d gotten a letter from her little sister practically begging her to visit. Lucius had forbidden Narcissa’s family from visiting her, but she was free to go as she pleased. Gathering her courage, she had flooed home.

“Sweet, sweet Cissa!” Bellatrix grabbed hold of her almost before she had stepped out of the floo. “How I’ve missed my beloved sister!”

Narcissa winced. Bella’s hold was too tight, her nails digging into her skin. She carefully pulled away, offering a pained smile. “Bella dear. How are you? How’s Mother? Father?”

Bella grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the receiving room and down the hallway toward the sitting room. The hall was dark. No candles were lit. The whole house seemed cast in even more gloom than before. “Mother is resting. She’s come down with something.” A michevious grin flashed across Bella’s face. “Father is attending to her, of course.” Bellatrix released her hand and did a twirl before sitting gracefully on the couch. “Kretcher!”

The elf looked battered and crazed, but he appeared and served them as a proper elf should. 

“Did you hear, Cissa dear. I’m engaged to Rudolphus. Mother decided at last,” Bellatrix told Narcissa happily, holding her teacup carefully in her hand. She took a sip. “There’s a rumor that the bitch is with child, you know. Of course, the bitch won’t likely survive long enough to birth the filthy thing. Not if Mother finds her.”

Narcissa was so shocked by the profanity falling so easily from her sister’s mouth that she sat frozen and wide-eyed. 

Bellatrix pushed her curls away from her face. It revealed dark circles and skin too pale to be healthy, but her sister’s face was stretched in a seemingly happy grin. “When Mother’s feeling better, she’ll likely call you home soon to suggest you get with child. We have to redeem our bloodline. It’s just the two of us now.”

Narcissa blushed. Lucius had told her of the Malfoy Curse before they wed. She’d accepted his hand regardless. What else could she do? She’d love to get with child, but there was war on the horizon. Lucius was keeping his eye on it in great interest. It wasn’t exactly a good time to be having a child. On the other hand, if Lucius got involved and something happened to him, he would need an Heir or risk ending the Malfoy line permanently. Perhaps she could convince him?

Bellatrix laughed. “I see I’ve caught your interest. Lucius must be as skilled in bed as he is with his wand.”

“Bella!” Narcissa gasped.

It was as if all the joy in Bellatrix’s eyes and face melted away to reveal something deeply sad and disturbing in its place. “Cissa… Sorry… I… I have no idea what to do… who to turn to…”

Narcissa felt her heart soften. She left her chair and sat beside her sister on the couch. She wrapped Bellatrix in her arms and her sister folded into her as if she were much younger than her age. Narcissa’s eyes widened when she realized her little sister was shaking.

“I… I can take it… whatever Rudolphus dishes out, but… if I have a baby… Narcissa… do you remember your promise?”

Narcissa’s arms tightened. “You can come to me. If you ever need a safe place, you or your child, you can come to me.”

Bella was silent a long minute. “But Lucius… He won’t allow it… The wards keep me out as much as Mother…”

Narcissa had to admit that was true. “I’ll talk to him…”

“If my husband were about to kill me in a fit of passion… or kill my baby… I want to know I have somewhere I can retreat to…” Beseeching baby blue eyes looked up at her. “You’re the only safe place I know, Cissa…”

Narcissa bit her lip. Years of guilt reared up. She knew she shouldn’t. She knew her new husband would be angry, but looking into her sister’s eyes, she knew she had no other choice. Andromeda had left them both, abandoned them to deal with the aftermath of her horrible choice. Narcissa had also left, but she refused to abandon Bellatrix completely. She took Bella by the hand and led her down to the ritual room. Bellatrix watched her wide-eyed as a lamb, gratitude shining on her cheeks in the form of tears. Together, they worked a spell that would make their blood indistinguishable from each other. Wherever Narcissa could pass, so to could Bella if she called upon their shared blood. In an emergency, Bella would be able to come to her even in Malfoy Manor. Lucius would understand.

After the ritual, Bella fell on her, kissing her face over and over. Narcissa smiled and held her close. “You kept your promise…” Bella cried, half in shock, half in delight. “I love you, Cissa… Thank you!” She pulled back, cupping her older sister’s face in her hands. Her expression turning serious and protective. “But if he finds out… Narcissa, he’ll hurt you…”

“No,” Narcissa tried to tell her. “Lucius wouldn’t…”

“You don’t know what he’s capable of, Cissa…” Bella insisted, eyes burning compellingly. “He will be furious and hurt you, sweet sister. We have to keep it secret. We have to keep you safe.”

“But…”

“Look into my eyes… I’ll lock this away. He’ll never find it. He’ll never know…” Bella kissed her sister’s cheek. “Let me protect you, Cissa. Please…”

Narcissa sighed, hugging her sister once more. “Fine. But he wouldn’t hurt me, Bella. Lucius isn’t like that. Isn’t like them. He’d understand.”

Bella smiled with such sorrow then. “It’s okay, Cissa. It’s better if you believe that. I’ll protect you, sweet sister… Obliviate…”

Narcissa collapsed bonelessly. Her head pounded so fiercely that her vision swam in and out. The room seemed at once too bright and going dim. Tears streaked her face. A moan slipped past her lips.

“You opened the door. You let her in. Allowed her to manipulate you,” Lucius accused coldly, looking down at his wife pitilessly. “Our son was taken because you trusted an insane and dangerous witch. And now she is gone again, a threat to my only son once more.”

“Lucius,” she whimpered. Narcissa couldn’t move. Simply turning her head made her feel like she was going to be sick. Arguments and justifications sat on her tongue, but he did not allow her to explain.

Power built in the room. Lucius raised his hand high, using his wand to cut his palm. His blood fell, but it seemed to be absorbed into the floor. A thrum of power surrounded them. The Malfoy signet ring on Lucius’s finger burned a cold blue. He reached forward and grabbed her hand, cutting it. Her blood splattered the rug beneath them. 

“Lucius,” she gasped. “Don’t…”

“As Lord Malfoy, rightful Heir to the Malfoy line, I hereby revoke your access to the wards. You will henceforth no longer be recognized as a Malfoy-bride by this mine house and servants,” he intoned, eyes staring down at her coldly. A gentle, pulsing web shimmered into existence around her. It connected her to the manor and to her husband. The energy swelled and then shattered, falling to be absorbed by the walls and Lucius himself. He was not done. He knelt before her, ignoring her pained sobs. Placing his bleeding hand on her throat, he continued, “By this blood, I, Lucius Abraxas Malfoy, bind Narcissa Black Malfoy as a ward of the Manor.” 

Narcissa hissed through her tears as a bolt of cold blue light lashed up from the floor to encircle her neck before fading from view. She’d been cut off, made a guest of the house. Now, worse, he was marking her a ward to be monitored like a child, only able to enter or leave with his express permission. She was no different from Harry with as much power as he had over the house and wards, which is to say, none. Narcissa curled into a miserable ball and wept.

Standing, Lucius strode from the room, leaving her on the floor, her hand still bleeding onto the rug, her throat smeared with his quickly drying blood. He lashed out, punching the wall of the hallway with a closed and trembling fist. He could hardly catch his breath. He was so angry and hurt. How dare Narcissa betray him so terribly! Practically vibrating with regret and rage, he strode quickly to his office, and a sense of doom closed in on him the closer he got. The miserable elf said Bellatrix had been bleeding, badly injured. What would have caused such an injury except for his most dangerous wards.

His office door was open. He stood frozen in the doorway. His long hair hung loose around his shoulders. His wand remained clenched in his hand. There on the floor by his desk, he could see it. The black diary. Horrified, he walked carefully across the rug. He knelt, but he already knew. The diary was empty. It was simply an old book. The magic and soul it had contained within its pages were gone. Lucius stood and flung the book at the wall with a roar of rage. He should have destroyed it when he had the chance! Now the Dark Lord’s soul was loose with that wretched bitch! Both of whom were dangers to his son.

Draco lay shivering and panting on the ground. His mouth stung from all the venom he’d produced and spat at the invasive plant growing in his mind. Blood dripped down from the corner of his mussel from the bleeding sores that had spread on his gums. He was exhausted and nauseous, but where the cactus had sat there was now a smoking circle at the base of a rather battered tree. 

Draco knew he could give up. He could let his consciousness rise from the depths of his mind. He was exhausted and hurt. No one would blame him if he left things as they were, but he just couldn’t. There were still cactus thorns embedded in the surrounding plants. He was determined to take back the whole of his mind. He couldn’t stand to leave a single poisonous splinter to infect his personality, and he refused to leave even the smallest foothold for Voldemort to gain power over him again.

Get up! he growled to himself, but his body wouldn’t obey. He lay helpless, whimpering on the forest floor, refusing to let go.

Harry woke abruptly and immediately reached for Draco, but his hand met with empty space. Harry blinked his eyes clear to see that the sun had been up for hours. Sitting up, the blankets fell down his body to pool in his lap. He frowned and shivered against the winter chill, wrapping his arms around his chest. He’d gone to bed in a t-shirt and a warm robe because of the cold. He still wore the robe, but it had fallen open, the ties undone. He wore nothing underneath. His t-shirt was missing. Frowning, he slid his legs over the side of the bed. 

“Ron?” he called in confusion, reaching for his glasses. The redhead’s bed was empty. Shivering, he quickly hurried to his armoire and got dressed. He needed to see Draco. His absence was as loud as a scream that grated along his nerves. Hurrying down the dorm stairs, he found Ron sitting with his brothers in the common room. 

Ron smiled as his friend appeared. “Harry! Bout time you got up! It’s well past lunch.”

“I’m going to go visit Draco,” he informed them, barely stopping on his way to the portrait. 

“Whoa. Wait.” Ron called. “I’ll go with you.”

“We all will,” Percy corrected dryly, seeing the interested looks on his twin brothers’ faces. 

It didn’t take them long to make it to the Hospital Wing. The hallways were empty, even the portraits were quieter than normal. They found Madam Pomfrey hovering by Draco’s bedside. Harry’s eyes widened as he watched two trails of blood fall from Draco’s nose. The older witch had her hair pulled back in her customary bun. Her dress had a full skirt and she wore the traditional nurse’s apron over it. She was a small woman, but she was strong.

“I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” Pomfrey said firmly. “Mr. Malfoy needs rest.”

Harry ducked past her. She tisked but allowed it. Dumbledore had warned her not to interfere between the two, that their bond was powerful and inexplicable. The Weasleys, however, were firmly pushed out the door to wait for their friend. 

Harry crawled up onto the bed and pressed his forehead gently to Draco’s. With his right hand, he gently cupped the sleeping boy’s face. Draco’s skin felt cool to the touch. There was no reaction. The blond lay perfectly still, his chest barely rising as he breathed. Harry closed his eyes and let his - love - rise and fill him. It was his job to heal Draco, to help him in whatever way he could. Draco was his everything. He owned Harry body and soul. 

Pomfrey came back to her patient. She’d seen strange and wonderful things in her time serving as a healer, nothing usually surprised her anymore, but the sight of little Harry Potter laying next to the Malfoy Heir, their foreheads pressed together, gave her pause. There was a feeling in the air, the stirring of wild magic. She stood frozen, entranced as Harry’s eyes opened, the boy staring down at Draco. The green of his irises glowed faintly, visible even past the barrier of his black-framed glasses. 

- LOVE - Harry lowered his mouth to Draco’s and breathed out just as the blond breathed in. The very magic of his being, everything that made him him, raw and untamed, spilled from his body into Draco’s underneath him. Harry pressed their lips together in a one-sided kiss. The taste of Draco’s blood filled his mouth along with the hint of crisp, cold snow. As if from a great distance, Harry could just barely hear the tinkling of a small silver bell.

Growling and whimpering, refusing to let go, Draco lay on his side on the forest floor. Every few minutes he’d try to stand, only to collapse once more. A sound caught his attention. At first it sounded like a small bell, but then he made out the sound of steps. The leaves and underbrush rustled as it drew closer. Draco watched through unblinking snake-like eyes and waited. 

He saw the glow first. It illuminated the shadows as it came forward. Draco relaxed, immediately recognizing that soft, golden light. As he expected, a young stag stepped clear of the trees and ferns, its small delicate hooves falling lightly on the ground. It came to Draco unhesitatingly. It knelt, bending its legs gracefully, before lying next to him. Draco gave a purr-like noise of acceptance and in response the stag reached its soft, velveteen nose forward, touching his cheek.

Warmth washed through Draco, making him arch and purr. His claws dug into the soft soil beneath them. Pleasure assaulted his senses, as if he’d stepped into a hot bath after a cold, long day. For a brief moment, he was a small human boy again with Harry’s warm body in his arms, their bodies pressing together in a way that sent pleasure sizzling along his nerves. Then he was the scaled, cat-creature once more with a beautiful stag staring into his eyes. 

Strength returned quickly now, the sores in his mouth healed. Climbing easily to his feet, Draco looked down at the deer. With another soft purr, he licked along the stag’s cheek and over the curved ear. The deer closed its eyes in pleasure. Thank you, Harry, Draco thought, hoping it would reach him. Such a good boy. Love you so much. He took a step away. The deer watched, ever accepting and obedient. I’ll be back soon, he promised and disappeared into the shadows of the forest.

Harry pulled away from Draco. He somehow knew that he’d done all he could, that Draco would be okay for now. As he sat up, a wave of dizziness passed over him. Madam Pomfrey forced herself into motion. She was shocked, of course. She hadn’t expected Harry to press his lips to the other boy’s. It wasn’t a chaste kiss, either. The way Harry’s lips moved over the blond’s had been sensual and familiar. The delicate curve of Harry’s back as he melted into the kiss, the unconscious surrender in his body language, Harry’s desire had been clear.

“Sit for a moment, young man,” she ordered, trying to get back to business, her cheeks still burning hot. She ran her wand over him and frowned at the results. “You’ve magically drained yourself, child. Lay still for a moment. I’ll fetch you a potion. Then I want you to go get something to eat and get back into bed.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Harry replied demurely.

He leaned back against the headboard, Draco asleep next to him. His fingers tugged and twisted the shirt by Draco’s shoulder. He felt content and at peace from just sitting next to the blond. Harry stared down at him lovingly until Pomfrey returned with the potion. It tasted citrusy and strongly astringent. Somehow Harry managed to swallow it all in one go. Pomfrey let him rest for a moment longer to let it settle and then firmly shooed him out the door and into the company of his friends.

“Make sure he eats a good meal and put him back to bed, Mr. Weasley,” she ordered.

Percy nodded, pushing his glasses further up his nose. “Yes, ma’am. I will.”

Satisfied, Pomfrey shut the door in their faces.

“How is he?” Ron wanted to know. He gave Harry a serious look, demanding the truth.

“I healed him a little,” Harry admitted. “I think he’s okay for now.”

The Weasley brothers exchanged glances, wondering if Harry knew how strange he was. 

“Are we going to the kitchen?” Ron wanted to know, excitement in his eyes.

Percy shook his head at his little brother. “Yes, Ron. We’re going to the kitchen.”

Fred and George shared big grins and led the way. They talked excitedly about places to explore and tricks to pull tomorrow when Harry was rested. Ron was even more excited by this. He hadn’t been allowed to help his brothers play pranks before. It sounded exciting! Ron flung his arm around Harry’s shoulder and smiled happily.

“You hear that, Harry? The Slytherins won’t know what hit ‘em when they get back!”

Harry leaned into him tiredly, returning his smile. “But it won’t splash the First-years, will it?” He was thinking of Pansy, Vince, and Greg. He wished they could be friends again.

“We can make sure it doesn’t,” Fred offered reluctantly.

“Although maybe they’d like to have rainbow hair, too,” George said with mock-seriousness. 

“Wouldn’t want them to feel left out, do we?” Fred agreed.

“I don’t see you sporting the look,” Percy pointed out with an arched eyebrow.

The twins laughed and promised to turn their hair rainbow for tomorrow.

Once they arrived at the kitchen, the elves were only too happy to serve them an early dinner. Percy watched Harry carefully. The younger boy was quiet and subdued. He looked exhausted. By the time he’d finished eating all that he could, his eyes were only half-open. “Come on. Let’s get you to bed,” Percy said, pulling Harry gently to his feet.

The others weren’t ready to call it a night, so Percy walked Harry up to the Tower alone. He got the younger boy changed and into bed. Harry was asleep before his head hit the pillow. Percy tucked him in, making sure he’d stay warm throughout the night. Checking that everything was in its place, he spelled the lights off and shut the door behind him.

Bellatrix opened her eyes. At first the room was blurry. She blinked a few times. The room looked familiar, but at the same time like she had never seen it before. It had dark pink paisley wallpaper. A dark brown dresser sat across from the foot of the bed. The bed itself was a four-poster with deep burgundy curtains. 

“Bellatrix.”

She turned her head to see an older man sitting at her bedside. He had a large, leather-bound tome open on his lap. He was slender with not an ounce of extra fat on his frame. His hair was slicked back, grey streaking the dark brown. His eyes were crystalline blue. She gave him a sweet smile. “Father. Welcome back,” she said happily. She was at Grimmauld Place as she’d intended. She hadn’t immediately recognized the room because it was the master bedroom. She hadn’t been in here often and never in the bed.

Cygnus Black shut his book and placed it on the bedside table. He stood and leaned over her. “Bellatrix. What have you done, Daughter?”

Bella giggled and cupped her swollen belly. Even now she could still feel the warm drip of blood from between her legs. At least it seemed to be slowing. “We have much to talk about, Father.” Her expression turned serious. “Do not let Malfoy come here.” She reached out and caught his sleeve, her eyes burning feverishly. “He would destroy me.”

Cygnus looked down at his youngest child. The world had thought she’d died a year ago in Azkaban, but he was her father. He had known instinctively that she still lived. It infuriated him that she was injured and on the run from Malfoy. Vengeful hate burned brightly in his chest. His one refuge, his sanctuary of twenty years, had been stolen from him by that pompous, pretty-boy Malfoy and his despicable agent Huld. Cygnus would do whatever he could to stand in that arrogant sod’s way. Reaching forward to stroke his daughter’s wild curls, he gave her a reassuring smile.

“Do not worry, Bellatrix. Malfoy will never be welcome here. Now tell me what you have been up to. You reek of a Dark ritual.”

Bellatrix pulled back the blankets to see her belly. She stroked its unfamiliar roundness and smiled up at her father. “The Dark Lord shall be reborn.”

Cygnus’s eyes widened in shock, his hand unconsciously tightening in his daughter’s hair, before his expression became thoughtful. “Is that so?” he said slowly.

“Yes. I have much to get ready,” she told him almost sweetly. A strange glow entered her eyes. The cold breath of winter filled the room. “You will help me, won’t you, Father?”

He’d been holed up for over two years now in Grimmauld Place, no one the wiser. At first, he’d tried to stay completely secluded, but loneliness had driven him out amongst his peers, shrouded of course, his identity hidden, but he’d been disgusted by the decline of the Wizarding population. They’d become complacent and lazy, barely holding onto their power and culture. It was so stagnant here, hardly anything wild or powerful left in their world. Looking into his daughter’s eyes he saw a bit of the wild, raw power of true magic once more. It called to him. He understood instinctively that she was already lost, sacrificed to whatever ritual she had begun, but she had summoned and wielded true power and pride burned bright in his chest. He touched her cheek gently and promised his support for what little time she had left.

“I will help you, Daughter. You will have whatever you need.”

Bellatrix gave him a wild grin. “Thank you, Father!”

Chapter end.

A/N: So a bit of a shorter chapter. I got some explanation in there regarding Bellatrix’s escape. I still have to flush out and explain what’s happening to Bellatrix and the version of the Dark Lord she “carries”. I also want to explore Draco on his mental quest more in the next chapter and explore a Harry without Draco. Not to mention the possessed Quirrell still running about. And Snape’s potion. Lol! I got a lot of work to do.

Chapter Text

A/N: Just a reminder that this is M for Mature. There are scenes of child abuse / slavery / human trafficking / and rape in this chapter.

Violation

The rich aroma of the forest filled his senses. The smell of fresh rain, the soft perfume of flowers, the musk of animals, the green of plants, and just underneath it all… the sickly sweet smell of poison. Nostrils flaring, he crept silently through the underbrush and came upon a wide tree. The bark was darker, more sinister than the surrounding trees. The shade it cast felt threatening; the shadows almost seemed hungry. 

Draco stalked around the base of the tree, searching… There! A thorn about teen feet above his head was halfway embedded in the trunk. Black sap oozed out from around it, as small as a drop of blood, but it stank of rot. Bunching his muscular back legs, Draco leapt at the tree, claws digging into the bark. He whipped his head forward, bitting the thorn with his small, sharp front teeth, and yanked it out. The most foul taste flooded his mouth, his whole body clenched, wanting to vomit and expel the vile taste, but he refused to let go…

He was small with flesh hands and bare feet. He wore underwear and a shirt. It was hot, even at night. He was in a room with several beds and a single light above their heads. Other kids were there in similar clothes. One was crying in the bed closest to the door. Two others were laughing and hitting each other with pillows. A lady in a dark dress was shushing them, telling them to sleep. There was a dark gloom around the edges of the room and he frowned at it. Had that always been there? A boy with dark skin, deep dark eyes, and short dreads flopped down at the end of his bed.

“Are you sick?” he asked.

“No,” he answered. He tilted his head and blond hair fell into his eyes. “Why?”

“You never laugh.” The boy put his head down his folded arms. “You smile and stuff. You’re not like Tyson. He cries all the time ‘cause he misses his mommy. You never had a mommy, right?”

He shook his head. “No.”

“Then why don’t you laugh ever?”

“Roger, get into bed.” 

The lady was beside them now. She smacked the black boy’s bottom. Roger - with a look of fear and pain on his face - scampered into the bed not even a foot away from Draco’s and crawled under the thin cover. Draco stared up at the lady. She had caramel skin and glossy black hair pulled back into a ponytail. She - glared at him coldly

“Am I sick?” he asked her curiously.

She frowned and felt his forehead. “You don’t have a fever,” she dismissed his worry and moved on - leaving him feeling alone. No one would ever understand him because he was different from all of them. “If I don’t hear silence in the next minute, you’re all going to get a smack!”

Draco frowned as he realized the shadows in the corners were whispering. He took a deep breath in. With his eyes pinned to that darkness, he blew as hard as he could. A powerful gust of ice-cold air whipped around the room. It became brighter, more in focus. The image of Roger’s pain-filled face after the lady smacked his bottom changed into that of a giggling boy. She had barely tapped his butt. Her glare when Draco had asked his childish question melted into one of simple tiredness. She had touched his head gently when he had laid down, stroking his hair back from his face, tucking him in… but that gentle part of the memory faded almost as soon as he remembered it. The cold wind erasing it as it had the Dark Lord’s influence…

The black-scaled creature fell from the tree and landed on his paws. He was growling, anger pulsing through his blood. The poisonous thorns were altering his memories! The Dark Lord had wanted him to feel isolated, wanted him to pull away from others. He had been different from the other kids, more serious and watchful, but he hadn't been wasn’t alone. That had been implanted, false, but there would be a cost to cleaning his mind of the Dark Lord’s manipulation. He had to sacrifice something in exchange. It sucked, but he had no other choice. It didn't matter what it cost him; he had to be free!

A deep growl of fury erupted from deep in his gut. His claws dug deep furrows into the rich soil beneath him. An almost eerie glow appeared in his eyes. Taking a deep breath, he took in the scent of the forest around him. Again he smelled it, the faint hint of sickness on the air. Draco sprinted forward, every inch a predator. This time the putrid scent wafted from deep within a bunch of ferns. The soft green, feather-like leaves parted under his nose. There, in the middle, a thorn was embedded in a withered, oily fern lying limp and flat along the ground. The soil around it reeked of poison. Gagging, body tensed, he nonetheless snapped his jaws around the fern, his stomach clenching, threatening to rebel, as he swallowed the leaf whole, dirt and all…

Draco sat huddled in the corner of a small square space. Pitch darkness smothered him. Even though he knew there was a single lightbulb above his head, he’d been bad so he’d been denied light. It didn’t matter. He could see the room around him even though he was blind; he’d been stuck here for what felt like years, unable to leave.

A bare room so small he could almost reach out and touch both walls with his arms extended. One door that was always locked. A small metal grate in the floor. It smelled of piss and shit. It would until the bucket filled with soapy water was given to him to wash himself and the room, rinsing the drain clean. It wasn’t cold or hot, but he shivered. It was quiet, always quiet. He used to scream or talk or sing, just to hear a voice, any voice, even his own. He’d even bounce himself off the walls like a ball just to be able to move, - but he’d stopped doing any of that. He couldn’t do it anymore. What was the point? 

Suddenly the light turned on. Draco flung his arms over his face, his eyes watering painfully. The door opened. Fresh air spilled into his space, but Draco felt like choking because the monster was there. Standing in the doorway, filling it with his wide body. He was tall, but the monster knelt so that he wasn’t towering over him. Draco would rather he stay standing. As much distance that he could get from the monster the better. 

“I missed you, baby,” the monster said, revealing himself to be a man, voice sickly sweet. “Did you miss me?”

Draco said nothing. - He stared straight ahead through the man’s chest, pretending he was still blind. - The smell of soap invaded his room as a bucket full of water was placed inside. The man easily reached him, his long arm stretching across the small space and grabbing hold of his leg. Draco was pulled forward and set on his feet. He didn’t fight, didn’t move, as the man began to wash him off. 

“Such a pretty boy, you are. A good boy…” the man cooed. 

He said more of the same. Words spilling from his lips in a never-ceasing rain as Draco’s body was touched and scrubbed. The man loved to wash between his legs and his butt most of all. He’d rub and stroke with the sponge as well as his bare hand. He’d tug on Draco's balls and tap at his hole. The man’s whole face would get red when he did it. His mouth would part and he’d breathe heavy. - During this, Draco stood silent. It used to make him cry, but now he was just tired. What was the point in fighting? All he could do was endure and wait for it to be over… Draco shook his head. Why was it so dark in here? The light was finally on. He looked up and saw a gloom too deep to see through. Draco threw his head back and screamed…

The shadows burst apart as cold air exploded around him. The false emotions were scraped clean, but the man’s face also blurred. Draco could no longer remember it with the crystal clarity that he’d had before. All he knew was that he hadn’t stood there passive as the man groped and fondled him. He’d glared tearfully, his mind racing as he eyed the space between the man and the door frame. He had always watched! He’d always been ready! …

Thrashing his way free from the ferns, Draco staggered a few feet away. He crouched, panting. Fuck Voldemort! Clearly he hadn’t wanted Draco to resist. He wanted Draco passive and less likely to fight back. Well, fuck that! He would NEVER stop fighting! Back then, during those three months he’d been trapped in that sicko’s closet, he’d not once given in. It had felt more like years than months, but he had never stopped testing the door, he’d never stopped hitting the walls, and he’d definitely never stopped watching for a chance to escape. 

Howling like a wild thing, Draco leapt into a sprint and took off after the next hint of poison. The smell was up high. Taking a running leap, claws digging into the bark of a tree, he climbed with blinding speed. In seconds, he was in the canopy, crouching on a thick branch. There, hanging in a web, sat a fat spider. It glistened unnaturally; its body swollen grotesquely. Extra legs grew from its head. It was dead and deformed, half rotten.

Draco’s eyes narrowed dangerously. He could barely force his jaws open. Bile burned the back of his throat. His whip-cord tail lashed side-to-side. Snarling, he snapped his jaws at the air. Spittle went flying. Then, before he could chicken out, he lashed his head forward and swallowed the putrid thing whole…

The master was drunk, but not so drunk that Draco would be able to bite and kill the bastard. The man held his favorite whip. The one that cut Draco to the bone with very little effort. If Draco got too close or made any sudden movements, he’d bleed for it. The master was sitting on the wide bed, his back to the headboard, his eyes half-lidded and glittering malevolently. His shirt was open down the front, revealing his hairy chest. His pants were also open. 

Draco tried not to look, but it was hard to miss the thick rod that stood up against the man’s flabby belly. Draco wished the bastard would just fuck him already so that he could kill him dead, but the master had bought Draco already knowing about his strange “poison”. He never entered Draco with his own flesh. Toys, on the other hand, were fair game.

“You’re going to do it, slut. Or I will, and I certainly won’t be gentle about it,” the master taunted, his mouth curling into a mean grin. “Either way, I’m going to have so much fun.”

Draco was on his hands and knees at the end of the bed, his body longways across it so that the master faced his side. Pink silicone lay next to his left hand. The dildo wasn’t the biggest thing the bastard had shoved into him, but Draco had never been asked to do it himself before. He glared murderously. He was already covered in bruises and his shoulders burned like fire from the last time the master had played with him. Cold hatred saturated his brain, the room filled his eyes with almost painful clarity. Sounds seemed muffled, but he could count each bead of sweat on the bastard’s face. Shifting up on his knees, Draco wrapped his hands around the dick. His fingers couldn’t quite meet around it. 

The motherfucker lashed his whip forward. Draco grit his teeth on a scream as the bite of the leather seared a line of burning fire across his hip. Blood spilled hot down his thigh and splattered onto the bed. The pain screamed unending down his nerve-endings, forcing tears to flow down his pale cheeks. 

“Use that as lube.” 

Draco snarled, - but he obediently wet the toy with his blood. He lined the tip up against his body and began to push. The feeling of being spread open wasn’t foreign to him, but he was by no means used to it. He groaned. The pressure in his guts as it speared him to the core always made him cry… 

Draco tossed his head hard to the side. No. That wasn’t right! He blew out a shaky breath and a cold wind as cutting as a knife burst through the room. He knew that as soon as that bastard had whipped him, as soon as Draco had seen that sick light enter that fucker’s eyes, he’d known he wasn’t going to get any mercy. He had bared his teeth and flung the toy right at the bastard’s face, but the image of the dildo slapping the fucker on the cheek was torn from his memory as payment. 

What didn’t disappear was the remembered agony of his punishment as the furious man whipped Draco with brutal precision, leaving ten bleeding lashes placed from shoulder to hips that had split the skin of Draco’s back and wrapped halfway around his chest so that he looked like a candy cane. Draco had been left just on the edge of death, but he most definitely hadn’t performed for the bastard and raped himself!

Falling from the tree as a black-scaled predator once more, he landed hard. His legs collapsed under him as his body hit the ground with a heavy thud. He hardly noticed. He was still caught up in the memory of being in the Hold, of being a slave to human traffickers. For those fifteen hellish months, his existence had been focused on a single purpose, survival, but he wouldn’t have just obediently followed along for some false promise of mercy. He’d never been that naive!

The smell of Voldemort’s taint still drifted ominously on the air. For the first time Draco really understood what his freedom would cost him. Long ago he’d been pared down into something barely human. It wasn’t until Harry was thrown into the Hold that he had remembered what it was to feel warm. Going back again and again to the time before Harry would bring that mindset back. It would turn some of his mental forest back into the blood-thirsty jungle once more…

But he had no choice…

Not if he was going to be free. 

Not if he was going to save Harry.

He would do anything for Harry.

It was dark in the room. The only light came from a single candle that flickered gently on the currents in the air. The redheaded boy was sound asleep, his bed curtains wide open and his blankets pulled down to the foot of the bed despite the cold. He was curled on his side, knees drawn halfway up to his chest, one arm folded close, the other out flung. He wore thick sleep pants and a thin sweater. One foot was bare, the other wore a thick wool sock. He was deeply asleep, soft breathing barely detectable. 

The boy’s body was sweet and pliant as he was stripped of his clothes. Thick fingers reverently traced all the freckles that spread down the boy’s chest and thighs. Greedy hands retreated only to return glistening with oil. The man massaged it into the boy’s pale flesh, making the redhead’s inner thighs glisten. Pushing the limp boy onto his side, the man climbed into bed behind the boy and pressed up against his slender, naked back. 

Rock hard, the man’s dick rubbed against the boy’s ass and back, but he knew he couldn’t fuck him. Not the way he wanted to. He’d learned his lesson, learned to leave no evidence behind. He’d have to settle for the boy’s thighs. A warm, damp rag would wash the evidence away later. The boy would never know. As much as he missed the whimpers, the gasps, the way his first boy had squirmed and cried, he knew he couldn’t afford to be caught.

It didn’t matter. The boy’s thighs were soft and warm. They made the perfect passage when he braced his leg on top, forcing the boy’s thighs to squeeze together. Tight and wet, it felt so damn good as he rutted into that forbidden space. The boy's body rocked limply as the man’s languid thrusts became harder, more violent. The slap of skin on skin was loud in the room. His balls swung heavy, filling as heat coiled tight in his core. 

Hoarse grunts escaped the man’s tight throat as his eyes drifted across the room. He locked onto the other boy he’d prepared. The dark-haired child was naked, robe flung wide open, sprawled in the center of the bed with his legs spread as wide as a whore’s. His arms were placed above his head, leaving his torso stretched. The image of those legs incased in thigh-high stockings, his perfect round barely covered by tiny shorts, sent him over the edge in a flash. 

He gripped the sleeping boy in his arms hard as came, spurting between the redhead’s thighs and wetting the sheet. Shocks of pleasure sizzled under the skin, but it wasn’t enough. The redhead only took the edge off and let him think more clearly. He was still hard, even with cum dripping from his dick. His true desire lay in the other bed, helpless and asleep, vulnerable. He climbed out of the bed, leaving the redhead sprawled half on his stomach, half on his side, soaked between his legs with oil and cum.

The man padded silently across the room. He stood at the side of the bed and looked down at his true desire. He almost didn’t care what price he had to pay. He wanted the boy with a burning passion. Last night, he’d jacked himself off above the dark-haired boy, spelled his shirt gone and spread him out like the whore he was. He’d never cum so hard in his life, splattering the boy’s perfect skin. 

He knew the cost of touching the boy was high. He'd been claimed and collared, after all, and even though he was young, the little blond who owned him was a force to be reckoned with. Of course, that only made the dark-haired boy even more desirable, which seemed impossible since the boy was such a gorgeous little whore all on his own. Wild black hair, full pink lips, and slender with the delicious tendency to wear thigh-highs, heels, and panties… He also had a white dragon lying curled in a sleepy ball, embedded in the skin of the boy’s waist.

The man glared furiously even as his hands clenched. His first boy had been taken from him. A blood-red snake filled with a Dark and deadly magic had been tattooed at the base of his boy’s spine just above the curve of his ass. He’d known immediately he’d never be able to touch the boy again. That same dangerous magic was contained in this dragon, but it was also different. The snake had been a simple construct with the express purpose of killing anyone who touched the boy with lustful hands. The dragon was clearly far more complex, which left room for loop holes. Perhaps there was a way to get around it and take what he so desperately needed. It would only be fair! The snake had taken the only joy he had in his life. He deserved this after all he’d suffered! 

Sweating, eyes glittering feverishly, he carefully reached out and touched the dark-haired boy’s slender wrist. He was careful not to touch skin yet. He kept his hand on the velvety material of the boy’s robe, the boy’s arms still inside the sleeves. He watched the dragon like a hawk. Heart pounding, dick throbbing as it stood rigid against his belly, the man slid his fingers down the boy’s arm and over the curve of his shoulder. 

He was panting, almost cumming from this alone. He was so close to the boy’s face that he could count every eyelash that rested against the boy's cheeks. The scent of the boy filled his nose. Lust burning deep in the pit of his stomach and between his legs, he gasped as his fingers ran out of material. Trembling, he let his fingertips drop onto the leather of the collar that ringed the boy’s slender throat. His eyes darted down to the dragon and he froze. It still lay peacefully still, but its dark green eyes were now open. 

His heart thundered in his chest with the pounding beat of a war drum. His eyes darted up to the boy’s face, but the child still slept deeply, the man’s spell holding true. Boldly, he ran his finger over the collar’s edge and onto the warm skin of the boy’s throat. His breath caught and he stared down at the dragon, but it didn’t move. It continued to lay curled up, eyes unblinking and open.

Letting out a harsh breath, the man gave a feral grin. Less carefully now, he reached for the boy’s robe-clad arm and pulled until the boy was just on the edge of the bed. The movement made the boy’s legs close, but that was fine. He was after something else tonight. He repositioned the boy’s arms down by his sides this time. The arm nearest the edge fell limply, hanging toward the floor as he pulled the boy’s head even closer to the edge by a firm grip on the boy’s thick hair. The dragon’s head weaved softly side to side as if hunting for something, but it couldn’t find him, couldn’t see him. It was not primed to recognize sexual energy and attack as the red snake had been. It had nothing to go off of with the boy unconscious and unaware. Without the child’s fear or anger to guide it, the dragon was harmless.

He released the child’s hair and gripped the base of his cock. His other hand came up to pull the boy’s jaw down revealing little white teeth and a small pink tongue. He pulled it open wider to see the dark red of the back of the boy’s throat. Moaning at the sight, skin feeling on fire, he slid the tip of his dick into the boy’s mouth. The soft scrape of the child’s teeth sent electricity down his nerves. He carefully pressed forward. Only half of his cock fit inside before hitting the back of the boy’s throat. The man gasped as the boy swallowed reflexively, lips briefly closing around him before falling slack once more. Drool began to pool in the bottom corner of the boy’s mouth.

Merlin,” the man moaned shamelessly. 

He grabbed the boy’s hair again to keep the kid’s head steady as he softly glided along the boy’s tongue, pressing at the inside of his cheek and tapping at his soft palate. The room began to haze. He was sweating buckets. His thighs began to shake. He couldn’t believe he was here, using the boy’s slack mouth. He was so bloody close to exploding all over the little whore’s face… 

Why was he holding back? He didn’t have to be careful. The boy bloody deserved it! He helped take away his first boy! He still remembered the feeling of stretching his boy out around his fingers, the tightness and heat, the way the boy got dripping wet with the slick he’d used before he pressed inside. The feeling of that tightness wrapped around his dick had felt like being struck by lightning! He’d only gone halfway into the boy, afraid of hurting him, but it had still been ecstasy! He could still feel the way his boy had gripped him so tightly as he’d bounced his hips gently, gripping the base of his dick to make sure he didn’t go too far in. He’d pressed inside the boy’s helpless body over and over until he’d cum, fireworks exploding behind his eyes… 

And that bliss had been stolen from him! He hadn’t been able to fuck anything since, afraid to leave evidence, settling for slack hand jobs and the slicked up thighs from the other boys he’d chosen. But tonight he’d get his revenge! He’d finally take what he so desperately needed, what he rightfully deserved! And it wasn’t like this little whore would even care! Dressing up like a girl, getting fucked by the blond on the regular! He’d probably love taking him in, probably beg for it if he were awake…

Panting, almost mad with lust as he visualized the boy begging, tears in his eyes, the man snapped his hips forward and this time didn’t stop at the soft resistance at the back of the boy’s mouth. He pushed down the boy’s small throat and it closed around him, wet and constricting, tightening as the boy swallowed. It felt better than anything he’d ever felt since taking his first boy’s ass, and he let out a wild yell, his eyes rolling up in the back of his head. He pulled out, the boy making a small gasping sound before the man snapped his hips forward, pushing down the boy’s throat again. 

Something in the man snapped completely. He growled, wild and vicious, as his hands clenched harder in the boy’s hair. He fucked the boy’s throat with abandon, battering the boy’s lips with his hips. The whore’s face turned pink as he was denied oxygen, his eyelids flickering as his hands helplessly twitched. He stopped pulling out of the tight heat constricting around his dick before slamming forward again. Shallow and fast, he thrust again and again, fascinated with the outline of his dick stretching the boy’s throat. He could even feel the bloody collar! Holding that throat even tighter around him just at the tip of his cock!

In only a few minutes, the end was rushing up, roaring over him like a steam train. He looked down to see where he was impaling the boy’s throat and saw the dragon rushing up the skin of the boy’s neck, its jaws open in a silent roar, eyes glittering with the promise of death. With a scream, he stumbled back, falling on his ass. As he fell, he spurt a fountain of cum into the air, splattering the boy’s face, the bed, the floor. Heart tearing through his chest in a mixture of ecstasy and terror, he watched in horror as the dragon’s head lifted off the skin of the boy’s jaw, transforming from ink into real-life white-metal scales and glittering teeth. 

The dragon snarled with the sound of a hissing rattlesnake, wings stiff and half raised along its back, covering the boy’s cheek and the top part of the boy’s neck. The man looked into the miniature dragon’s eyes and saw his own death. It looked right into him before sinking down, becoming an inked tattoo once again. Trembling in relief, he felt his cock spurt a few more times on his trembling thighs before slowly softening. He laughed nervously, still catching his breath. Now that the threat of death had disappeared, he stared enraptured at the boy’s wrecked face. 

There were a few strands of cum in the whore’s dark hair, across the bridge of his nose, and dripping from his chin. His lips were swollen twice their size and already darkening with bruises, a deep plum red. The boy was still sound asleep, panting softly and offering a weak cough every few minutes. Tears had slipped free of his closed eyes, beading on his lashes and rolling sideways to wet the sheet that was already soaked with drool.

Getting to his feet, feeling like a god, he strutted to the bedside table and grabbed the camera he’d left there. He took a picture of the dark-haired boy’s face, making sure to get nice and close. He also took a picture of the redhead’s glistening thighs. He already had quite a few of the redhead in his stash, but this would be a nice addition. 

Satisfied and humming, he cast a spell to wet a rag with warm water. Almost reverently he cleaned the boys, the beds, and the floor. Once he was satisfied that all the evidence was gone, he dressed the redhead and carelessly covered him with his blankets. He didn’t bother putting a shirt back on the dark-haired boy. Like he’d said, the boy was a whore; that morning he hadn’t even questioned waking up naked, so he needed no special attention. 

The man almost didn’t bother healing his mouth, either, the boy looking like a gorgeous doll, lips red with lipstick, but he knew his first boy would become suspicious, so he traced his wand over those succulent lips, casting a basic healing charm. Once that was done, he pulled the blankets back over the boy. The two boys slept on oblivious, all traces of his victory erased.

Narcissa opened fevered eyes to a darkened room. She’d been in and out of consciousness for a whole day, but she was beginning to feel a little more coherent. She was in the guest room she favored in the east wing. The idea of going back to the master bedroom that she shared with Lucius made her stomach roll uneasily. “Lottie,” she called, voice hoarse and weak.

The elf appeared as promptly as ever, but it didn’t call her master. “Yes, Lady Narcissa?”

“Warm broth and some water.”

The elf disappeared with a small bow.

While Narcissa waited, she propped herself up on her pillows so that she was sitting more than reclining. Her hair hung in a thick braid over her shoulder and into her lap. She wore a loose cotton nightgown and had the blankets folded over her lap. A gentle fire burned in the fireplace, helping to keep the room at a warm temperature. She was as comfortable as she could make herself. 

Her head ached, but it was no longer pounding as if a gnome with a hammer were banging away in there, and her magical core still felt raw and flared every so often, unstable, but the dizzy spells had past and she no longer shook. As for her status in the House of Malfoy, she was still Lucius’s wife. Magically, however, she was no longer recognized by Lucius’s magic or by the manor as his wife. The marital bond between them had been blocked, but it hadn’t been severed completely. Not yet. It would take a full divorce to sever their marriage completely, and divorce was deeply shameful in Pureblood circles, so she was fairly confident Lucius wouldn’t want to go that far.

Part of her understood his actions. He’d had to do it. To protect the manor and their son from Bellatrix, he had to block her access to the wards. She understood why Lucius had to do it, but it was how he had done it that had shocked her. He hadn’t given her any time to recover from his clumsy mental assault and a broken Obliviate barrier. He hadn’t given her a potion to soften the blow of having the Malfoy wards and magic stripped from her. He’d been as brutal as he could be. Then to add insult to injury, he’d marked her as a ward under his care. That made the wards protect her, sure, but it also made them monitor her movements. It would also keep her from leaving without his permission. 

On one hand, that told Narcissa that Lucius feared she’d run from him for the way he’d so disgracefully treated her and he did not want her to leave. On the other hand, it showed his utter contempt, that he thought of her as a child to manage. It hurt her terribly. Lucius and she had gone beyond the traditional Pureblood marriage where there was no stepping outside of the roles placed on them by society. They had honestly loved each other, had suffered the same heartbreak at the loss of their son, and had taken care of each other. He’d trusted her judgement in many areas. He’d treated her as an equal. 

Lottie returned with the warm broth and glass of water. The little elf summoned a lap tray so that she could remain in bed and Narcissa ate with shaking hands. She hardly finished half of the bowl before she grew too tired to continue. Tears burned her eyes. She had never expected for Lucius to actually treat her with such cruelty. He had every right to be furious and hurt, but Draco was her son, too! She felt just as betrayed! She’d extended Bellatrix a promise of protection out of love, and in return her sister had hurt her more terribly than anyone else ever could. Lucius had to know that she would give anything, sacrifice anything, for Draco! 

“Take it away and leave me,” she ordered the patiently waiting elf.

Lottie obeyed with another bow, taking the dishes and disappearing with a pop. 

Narcissa weakly removed the pillows from behind her and lay down. She considered her options. First, there was something about Bellatrix’s escape that still bothered her. Why did Bella wait until now to leave? For what had she needed the Solstice? The thought of seeing her husband filled her with fear, but she would not let fear rule her! She would see Lucius and she would get her answers.

Second, she’d have to find her sister. Bellatrix was her mistake. She wouldn’t be able to live with herself if Bella was able to inflict any more hurt on her son. Narcissa would have to find Bellatrix, and she’d have to kill her. She no longer entertained a hope of redemption and healing. The promises between them were void. There was too much damage now to be forgiven. Narcissa stared up at the ceiling and sighed, frustrated and hurt. Her fist hit the bed next to her and she impatiently wiped at her tears with her other hand. Tomorrow, recovered or not, she’d confront Lucius and get permission to leave the estate. She had things to do and a son to protect. She was done playing nice.

Chapter end

A/N: A very intense chapter. Very tragic. I am open to anyone’s thoughts on the contents of this chapter. It is desperately sad how many people have experienced rape and domestic violence.

Chapter Text

Remorse

Harry woke all at once with a gasp of air. Immediately tears sprung to his eyes and he grabbed at his throat. It felt like he’d swallowed fire. Ron snored softly in the other bed. Harry considered shaking his foot to wake him, but he decided against it. He had no idea what time the redhead had come to bed and it was technically vacation, so with a grimace he crawled out of bed and quickly dressed. The sun was just rising, brightening the room with gentle light as he slipped out of the room and quietly shut the door behind him. No one was in the common room, so he made his way to the infirmary alone. 

Draco lay alone in the room lined with small white beds. Harry’s boot heels clicked quietly on the floor as he made his way to the blond’s side. Draco’s expression was peaceful. There was no blood dripping from his nose, no sense of distress or need and Harry’s shoulders relaxed. He gently stroked his fingertips over Draco’s forehead and let his magic trickle down through his touch. 

Madam Pomfrey arrived at that point and she gave him a stern look. “You’re here rather early, Mr. Potter. I give you my word I will alert you to any change in his condition, so I’d rather you made sure you got enough rest.”

“Yes, Madam,” he replied, ducking his head submissively. His voice sounded wrecked, hardly above a whisper and extremely hoarse. 

Madam Pomfrey’s eyes went wide. “Are you ill, Mr. Potter?” She didn’t wait for a response, gesturing him over to the bed next to Draco’s. “Hop up now. Let me get a reading.”

Harry obeyed, sitting still as she took her wand out and waved it over him. She was just finishing when the infirmary doors opened and Dumbledore entered with Andromeda and Ted in tow.

“Harry!” Andromeda rushed to his side. “What has happened? Why didn’t Narcissa contact me?” She looked both worried and furious as she stroked his hair once before crossing the distance to Draco’s bed. She bent over him, resting her hand over his brow. “What is his condition?” she demanded of the nurse.

Ted came to stand beside her. He placed a gentle hand on her shoulder and gave Har