Sunday, July 29, 2012

Erised Stra Eh

A/N: The very happiest of birthdays to Echoesoftwilight.
This is how much we love you, sweets. We wrote you HP fic.
Slash, of course. This is us, after all. We hope you enjoy it.
Lots of love.
Thanks to Conversed for helping with some of the Britification (totally a word!)

Need somewhere private to talk to him. Somewhere no one will be able to bother us. Need to be alone.

Draco kept repeating those words as he made the rounds in front of where the Room of Requirement had been, praying all the while that its magic had not been lost after Crabbe's foolish use of Fiendfyre.

He gasped when a battered wooden door appeared on his final pass. Hesitantly, he put his hand on the ornate door handle and with some effort, opened it to a dark room. Stepping inside, he had to blink a few times to adjust to the dim light that seemed to come from nowhere in particular.

Pulling out his wand, he murmured, “Lumos,” and held it out in front of him. Draco's mouth fell open slightly as he took in what could have passed as a welcoming room at the Leaky Cauldron. A rickety wooden table stood off to the side, flanked on either side by two tattered-looking wingback chairs.

It took him a second to realize there was a fireplace as well, which he quickly lit. He vaguely wondered why the Room hadn't given more lighting or warmed the space up, but he supposed that its magic had been affected by the Fiendfyre after all.

At least it still works, he thought.

Once he'd lit a fire as well as a couple of sconce candles, he looked around again with a heavy sigh. It would have to do, he supposed. When his eyes fell on an ancient looking tapestry of the Hogwarts crest, he couldn't help but smile hopefully.

Maybe, he thought, if this old magic still works... then maybe there's a chance that...

He shook his head and glanced at the clock that had appeared on the mantelpiece. Draco knew he still had a while to wait before his guest would show up – if he did at all. He couldn't blame him if he didn't. Not after everything that had happened these past seven years.

Draco wished he wouldn't have to wait so long, but he'd wanted to make sure the Room was actually still there – still working. Without his having given it conscious thought, a window appeared, overlooking the lake. Draco settled himself on the window sill, his eyes roaming the horizon as he let his thoughts drift.


It still looked the same, he thought, as it had when he'd first set foot here, all those years ago. Sure, there were still some obvious signs of the battle that had been fought only a few months ago, but in all it was still Hogwarts.

His eyes skidded past the Forbidden Forest and the patches of emptiness where trees should have been. He wondered how long it would take for that to go back to how it was before. The castle itself no longer showed signs of the fight that had nearly torn it asunder, thanks to He-who-should-

No! he thought, I can say his name. I will not be frightened by him anymore.

“Voldemort,” he said out loud, the sound of his own voice startling him slightly. Swallowing hard, he took a deep breath and nodded quietly to himself.

There, see? Not so difficult, was it?

Rolling his eyes at himself, he resumed gazing outside. The sky was overcast, casting a gloomy light over the grounds, though he thought he could see the sun trying to breach the cover.

To be back here – especially here, in the Room of Requirement – was something he'd never have expected.

Draco thought back to the day he first traveled to Hogwarts. He, Crabbe, and Goyle, had heard rumors that Harry Potter was on the train and would be starting that year as well. He remembered how pleased he'd been, certain that he would be able to get that Potter boy to do as he wished. After all, everyone else always seemed to. He was a Malfoy, wasn’t he?

The name Malfoy meant power. Or so he'd been taught.

What a fool I was.

Draco closed his eyes, thinking back to that first meeting on the train, inwardly cringing again at the stab of rejection he'd felt when Harry had told him he could figure out for himself who to be friends with. He'd pushed it aside back then, thinking that Potter was an idiot and he'd soon learn better than to hang out with the likes of that Weasley boy.

He'd been horrified once he realized Potter was an instant celebrity – of course he'd known about Potter. How could he not? But still, for him to have been so immediately liked by everyone - student and teacher alike - had nettled him greatly. The more so because he had not been. His family name had given him no clout outside of his small circle of friends.

Of course, Snape had been different, but he'd expected him to hate Potter as much as he did. Or thought he did. Thinking back now, he wasn't too sure what his feelings had been then. Whether it was Potter he'd hated, or merely the attention he was getting – and giving to everyone but him.

He simply hadn't been able to understand how Potter could stand to be around all those... those... mudbloods and half-breeds. Again, he cringed. Surely Potter was better than all of them, so why had he wasted his time with them?

Draco realized he hadn't understood the true meaning or value of friendship then. He was only beginning to do so now, years later. He'd envied Potter, in a way, for the tight friendship he'd grown with that Granger girl and Weasley. He knew even then, that they would do anything to help him. Draco had Crabbe and Goyle, of course, but they weren't truly friends. They were his henchmen. His lackeys. They would never sacrifice for him, the way those two did for Potter.

Running his fingers through his hair, he glanced at the clock again, sighing when he realized there was still a good half hour before he could even begin to expect him to show up. Pulling his knee up, he wrapped his arms around it, resting his chin on it as he gazed out over the grounds again.

All those times he'd tried so hard to get Potter into trouble. To get him kicked out of Hogwarts. Why had he done it, he wondered? With a scoff, he followed the tawny owl that flew past his window. It wasn't too hard to guess, really, he supposed. He'd hated Potter for many reasons. His popularity, the way he never seemed to have to try to get his way.

How he'd always and forever seemed to get out of trouble, and would come out on top doing so.

He'd truly hated it when it was Potter who'd caused his father to get kicked off of the council for Hogwarts. Even more when it was because of Potter, that his own father had landed in Azkaban.

What had made him hate Potter, though – if you could really call it that – was how he'd made him feel. It had taken Draco a good while to figure out that none of the girls truly interested him. No matter how Pansy had cooed and simpered over him – especially after he'd been attacked by that bloody chicken... what was his name again? Oh yeah, Buckbeak – he'd never really felt anything for her.

He'd used her, though, he knew he had. He knew he couldn't afford for anyone to figure out he was different. That he was a disgrace to the name of Malfoy. He was absolutely certain to be cursed from here to Azkaban by his family if they knew. Not to mention his fellow Slytherins.

He shuddered at the thought.

Still, for all that he hated Potter because of those reasons, he'd never been able to really hate him. All his efforts to thwart the boy had never been whole-hearted, though he'd always tried to convince himself he couldn't stand Potter.

Thinking back, he thought perhaps he liked Potter best during his second year. It had been good to see him knocked down a peg or two, disliked and feared as he was due to all of that Heir of Slytherin toss. He'd relished it, if he was honest, though at the time he'd had no clue as to exactly why that had been.

By the time Umbridge was their Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher he knew, though, and he'd done everything he could to make life hell for Potter. To make him pay for making Draco want him so badly. He'd even joined the Inquisitorial Squad in hopes of besting Potter. He knew that as Prefect, he could do a lot to Potter, but Weasley and Granger had been made Prefects, too. As part of the Squad, however, he had been granted wholly different powers and he'd used them to the best of his abilities.

When push came to shove, however, he hadn't been able to help himself. The day they caught Potter, Granger, and Weasley in Umbridge's office, and then those other twats from Dumbledore's army... Once he realized just how deranged Umbridge was and what she was capable of, he couldn't do nothing.

He couldn't exactly help, either, so when Weasley tried to trick Crabbe and Goyle into eating Weasley's Wizard Weezes, he'd played along. He'd even gone so far as to eat one of the Puking Pastils in order to egg Crabbe and Goyle on – not that they'd needed much persuading, greedy bastards that they were.

It had worked as he'd hoped, and those twats made their escape. He figured spending the following fifteen minutes retching had been worth it, if it helped Potter.

Of course, once he'd learned about his father, he'd been furious with himself. And with Potter. If he hadn't acted like a lovesick fool, his father might never have been caught. His family would never have lost their standing in the Death Eater ranks – never have lost favor with... Voldemort...

Draco clenched both his jaw and his fists as he forced the name out. How, even after several months of knowing he was dead that fear was so instilled in him, he didn't know. He hated it, though.

With a sigh, he ran his fingers through his hair, his thoughts going back to year before last. He'd been charged by Voldemort himself to kill Dumbledore. He'd been both scared to death at the prospect, and elated at the chance to gain favor again – for himself, and his family.

He'd tried so hard. Had worked tirelessly to achieve his task, letting his hatred – and he knew it really had been that, at the time – fuel his actions. He had been utterly miserable. He had little respect for Dumbledore – had in fact been taught to disrespect the old man – yet there had been something about him that he had felt a sort of... kinship to. To this day, he couldn't figure out what it was.

At first, he'd tried cursing Katie Bell. It had worked, to a point, but the accursed girl had to spoil everything by being curious and touching the necklace. Confunding Professor Slughorn had been almost too simple, though he should have known the fool would manage to foil his plans. When he learned the day after Weasley had drank the poisoned mead instead of Dumbledore, he'd been spitting mad.

And then the months he spent working on that blasted Vanishing Cabinet. He'd almost not been able to do it – and he wished to this day he'd failed. Not that he'd ever cop to it, of course. He'd been very lucky that he had never bothered to enter his mind and ferret the information out. Draco knew only too well just how capable Voldemort had been at Legilimens. Thankfully, Snape had deemed it fit for him to learn Occlumency. He hadn't been very good, but reasonably able to keep his thoughts guarded most of the time.

It was funny, really, how during that time Draco had felt so very isolated. He was fighting what he knew to be a losing battle, but one he none the less must face. And that wasn't just regarding his charge of killing Dumbledore. No, that went as far as his feelings for Harry Potter, too.

How many times had he hidden himself away in the boys' bathroom, and ended up in tears out of sheer frustration? More times than he cared to remember, if he were honest with himself. Though he had to admit, he'd gained one very unexpected friend back then.

The curve of Draco's mouth curled up in spite of himself as he considered Moaning Myrtle, who'd found him crying in one of the stalls one day after yet another failed attempt to fix the cabinet. She'd scared the hell out of him as she'd popped up out of the loo, chilling him through the bone as she passed through him – he'd been sitting on it at the time.

She'd actually listened to him. The first person – if one could call her that. She was a ghost, after all – to ever have done so in his entire life. Over time, he'd ended up telling her his deepest, darkest secrets – and no, those did not include what he was trying to do on orders of the Dark Lord.

His secrets were much deeper than that. Myrtle became his confidante, and she'd been surprisingly good at keeping her knowledge to herself. It seemed she understood him better than anyone he knew. She'd even admitted to sharing a fascination with Potter, herself.

He chuckled softly, remembering how at the time, he'd thought that of course, Potter would attract even ghosts. He was beginning to wonder if there was anyone outside of Slytherins who didn't at least like the boy.

Draco sighed then, recalling how incredibly trapped he had felt. Completely stuck between how he knew he should feel regarding Potter, and how he actually felt. There was no way he would ever be able to act on any of it. He'd felt so incredibly helpless.

Still, he'd kept on fighting – kept on trying to do as he knew he must. His disgust with himself – on so many levels – only increasing the more he failed. Both at fixing the cabinet, and at ignoring his true feelings. When Potter had followed after him into the bathrooms, he'd actually lost it and lashed out. Potter, of course, had fought back, meeting him curse for curse.

In truth, it had felt good to have some sort of outlet after all that time, and the fact that it was Potter – the very boy who had turned his entire world upside down – that was on the receiving end of it never entered into the equation for him. All he'd seen was someone to lash out at, someone to transfer his pain on to. Of course, that only lasted until Potter struck him with Sectumsempra, a curse he later learned from Snape.

The moment Potter hit him and Draco fell to the floor, bleeding and whimpering, he knew. He could never truly harm Potter. It was better for Draco to be hurt, than him. The shock on Potter's face, however, had been a small balm. Potter had not known what that spell would do to him and he found that he could forgive him for casting it. Again, this was something he'd never have copped to.

The night Dumbledore had died had changed everything. Draco had disarmed Dumbledore, and had felt surprisingly proud of it, but he hadn't been able to kill him. He had given an honest effort to trying to follow through on his orders, but Dumbledore had been so kind, so utterly, frustratingly genuine in his offer to help Draco – to protect him. He knew Dumbledore could do no such thing, of course. It wasn't simply a matter of Draco needing protection, after all. It was his mother and his father, too.

And then of course, Draco had been unable to follow through, and Snape had ended up killing the old man. A part of him always wondered about that. It had almost seemed to Draco that Dumbledore had wanted Snape to kill him – like he'd welcomed it. The look on Snape's face had also been quite unexpected – he'd been... disgusted, yet there'd been something else there, too, though what, he wasn't sure.

Snape had saved him, then, in more ways than one. He was quite sure that he was only alive today because of Snape's intervention on his behalf. Not that he'd ever understood why Snape had bothered, to be honest.

When Snape became Headmaster, his mother had made Draco return to Hogwarts, insisting he finish his education. Part of him was grateful for it, it was a distraction if nothing else. Yet once he was back, he couldn't help but wonder what the point of it all was. Potter hadn't come back – nor had Granger and Weasley, though Weasley’s little sister had. There were others, of course, who'd chosen to stay away from school.

But it had been Potter he'd missed the most. Hogwarts didn't seem the same without him. Draco went through the motions of life at Hogwarts, performing his duties as Prefect impassively. He knew Snape was keeping an eye on him still, though he neither knew nor cared why.

He got into the habit of secreting to the Room of Requirement to listen to the radio. He had to do this in secret, because if he were caught listening to the illicit broadcasting of the Weasley twins – and he knew it was them – then there'd be hell to pay.

Crabbe and Goyle were becoming harder to control. He'd lost his power over them almost at the same time his family had fallen from grace with the Dark Lord. He was quite certain that they'd be only too delighted to hand Draco over to the Carrows if they found out he was hoping to hear news about Potter, irregardless of what the reason might be. And there was no plausible reason.

Draco simply couldn't stop himself from trying to learn of his whereabouts, however. He had to know Potter was still alive. He wasn't sure what he'd do if he ever found out otherwise.

And then the unthinkable happened when Draco was home for the holidays: Potter, Weasley, and Granger were captured and taken to his house of all places. He'd known, the moment he laid eyes on them, who they were and it had terrified him. He knew what would happen if the Dark Lord got hold of them.

He was also very aware of his aunt Bellatrix and how delighted she would be in being able to present this grand gift to her Lord and Master – after she'd tortured them, of course. But Potter's face was barely recognizable, the only reason he himself was certain was because he'd paid such close attention to the boy over the years. He knew what to look for and recognized his features, stretched out and bumpy looking though they were.

When Bellatrix asked him to identify them, he'd pretended not to know them, not to be sure. His father had all but begged him to reconsider, positive it was Potter. Yet Draco's supposed inability to verify his identity made him pause.

Draco had been scared out of his wits that his deceit would be discovered, but there simply wasn't anything else he could do. He could not, in good conscious, deliver Potter to Voldemort. He'd refused to doom him to a fate he was sure would be worse than death itself.

When his aunt had discovered that sword, she'd gone mental. Part of him had been relieved, as it had bought Potter some time, though he knew that Granger would not be so lucky. Years ago he wouldn't have felt any sort of remorse for that, but he was starting to see things a little differently then, and he'd actually felt bad for the girl.

He'd been too scared to go against his aunt's wishes and had done exactly as she'd demanded. He doubted that Potter even knew that he'd tried to keep his identity a secret, even if it had come to nothing in the end.

And then, miraculously, it seemed, Potter and Weasley had managed to escape the dungeon they'd been placed in. He'd reacted out of instinct when they had started attacking everyone in the room, but even so, he'd only dared fire off stunning spells. He recognized that Greyback and even his own mother had had no such restrictions as they immediately went on the attack themselves.

For just a few seconds, it had seemed as if Potter and Weasley had lost when Bellatrix had threatened to cut Granger's throat and then everything had gone crazy. Dobby, his family's old house elf – the very one that Potter had tricked his father in setting free – had come to rescue the threesome. Pandemonium had ensued, then, as Weasley had gone after Granger, and Potter had attacked him.

Draco had been stunned – not by a spell, but by the sheer thought of having to physically fight off Potter. Of harming him. Nor could he make himself cast any spells against him. It had cost him his wand – and later a harsh lesson by way of the Cruciatus curse, thanks to his dear aunt Bellatrix. His mother had not been able to stop her sister from doling out that punishment. He'd made sure to steer well clear of her for the rest of his holidays.

He also made bloody sure he was nowhere near the house once Voldemort returned, only barely managing to escape facing him. He suspected that had been partly the reason for his aunt's “lesson”.

Draco sighed, resting his forehead on his knee and closed his eyes. Going back to Hogwarts after all that had been equal parts horrible and liberating. He'd seen Potter, knew he was alive – at least for the time being. He'd had no idea what might be in store next, but he hoped Potter would be alright.

The Carrows were their usual horrible selves, terrorizing the students whenever they managed to get away with it. He could tell how much it pained Professors McGonagall, Flitwick, and Sprout, to see their beloved school so oppressed and to have to stand idly by and let it all happen. He had also noticed the small tokens of resistance they each had given as often as they could.

It had actually made him smile to see old McGonagall stare down Amycus as he dared to challenge her methods of punishment. Or to see tiny Flitwick pronounce that he was terribly sorry, but he could not possibly undo whatever magic some wayward students had cast in tribute to the Weasley twins. Draco suspected that Flitwick had even gone so far as to aid some of those students in their efforts, though he'd never been able to find any evidence of the sort.  

Draco sighed, pressing his forehead against the cool windowpane as he stared out into space, his thoughts wandering to the night everything changed. Life as he knew it was irrevocably changed in just a few short hours, though at the time it had felt as if things had lasted a lifetime.

In a way, it had been a lifetime, he supposed. He'd been in the Slytherin common room, actually doing some homework – not because he'd wanted to, but simply because it meant a distraction and a way to not have to listen to Crabbe and Goyle as they talked about what they would do if Potter ever came across their path. It was much safer to hide in his books, than to join in that conversation and risk slipping up.

He'd been engrossed in a passage they were supposed to write an essay on for their Defense Against the Dark Arts class when Professor Slughorn came rushing into the room, completely flustered and disheveled, his emerald-green silk pajamas clearly visible under his half-open robe. He'd stuttered the orders McGonagall had given, then waited as everyone got together and led all of Slytherin House to the Great Hall.

Somehow, Draco knew – he just knew – that Potter must be in the castle. It was the only reason he could think of for everyone to be rallied together, and for Voldemort to attack the school. Something that was confirmed to him when Voldemort had spoken, his voice echoing across the hall.

Draco had made sure to hang back a little in the Hall, not wanting to be noticed. He wasn't sure why, but the thought of Potter confronting him at the time had unsettled him. When Pansy had shrieked and pointed at Potter, he'd almost given himself away, though. Oh, how he wanted to hex the girl! His fingers had inched towards the wand in the pocket of his robe – his mother's wand.

As it turned out, there was no need for him to take any action. McGonagall had ordered everyone of Slytherin to evacuate immediately, as well as all the under-age students of the other houses. He'd dutifully followed Slughorn and Filch as they led the way to the Room of Requirement, trying to come up with a plan. He couldn't leave here, knowing Potter was there and in danger.

He also knew he couldn't help. But still...

In the end, he'd pulled Crabbe and Goyle aside under the pretense of searching for Potter in order to hand him over to the Dark Lord. He had a feeling that Potter would come here - to the Room of Requirement - though he had no idea why. So they'd concealed themselves, and waited.

Draco had listened very carefully to what was going on around him, largely ignoring a snickering Crabbe as he and Goyle whispered among themselves about the rewards they were sure to get if they got Potter.

And then suddenly, they were there: Potter, Granger, and Weasley. He'd felt Crabbe try to move, but he held him back, hissing quietly for him to wait. Thankfully, he listened, as not long after the trio had entered the Room, and old Witch, Tonks and the Weasley girl had run out, followed not long after by Potter, Granger, and Weasley.

Again, he'd held Crabbe back, Goyle somehow hanging back of his own accord. People were running back and forth, and soon it was just the Weasley girl left along with the other three. It wasn't long before they disappeared back into the Room of Requirement and he, Crabbe, and Goyle slipped inside after them.

They'd caught some of what they were talking about, but for the life of him he didn't know what a diadem was anymore than Crabbe or Goyle did. What he did know was that the Dark Lord was after it, too – that much he had been able to figure out from what the others had been saying. He also knew that the Dark Lord wanted Potter alive, something that suited Draco just fine, albeit not for the same reasons, of course.

Crabbe, the oaf, had almost ruined it all, though. First, by trying to kill the Granger girl, and trying to harm Potter. And then by casting that blasted Fiendfyre. Draco had tried – really, truly tried – to both stop Potter from getting what he was after, and to keep him safe at the same time.

He'd failed.

Oh, how he'd failed. Because of Crabbe's idiocy, everything had gone completely wrong and they'd all almost lost their lives right then and there. It was only thanks to Potter's mercy that he and Goyle had even made it out of the Room alive. Crabbe had had no such luck.

Draco had been shocked to find Potter, Weasley, and Granger flying on brooms and swerving back to save them. They, who moments before had tried to stop Potter from succeeding. Who, for all Potter knew, had tried to kill him. Yet Potter had insisted on saving Draco and Goyle.

Weasley and Granger had taken the unconscious Goyle, while Potter had taken Draco on his broom. Draco had clung on for dear life, trying to quash the thought of being so close to Potter – so intimate, in a way – for the first time. He was terrified his body would betray him and that Potter would feel it. Terrified that he would die here.

Yet a very small part of him wondered whether this would be the worst of ways to die, holding the boy he'd so desperately and so unwillingly loved. Yet he knew, especially in that moment, that he did love Harry Potter, no matter how hard he'd tried to deny it, even to himself.

It made Draco feel very uneasy to be in Potter's debt like this. He wasn't at all sure how to handle himself, and definitely didn't trust himself not to make matters worse by doing something stupid like kissing the boy. He very nearly had done just that, out of sheer gratitude for still being alive, but he'd reined himself in and disappeared as quick as he could.

He'd lost his mother's wand in the mad scramble to outrun the Fiendfyre, so he was utterly helpless, unable to defend himself against the spells that were cast every which way. He knew his parents would be with Voldemort, and right in that moment, he wanted nothing more than to be in the soothing presence of his mother. If only he could get outside, then he could try to find her.

That had been much easier said than done, however, as Death Eaters and Hogwarts' defenders alike stood between him and his mother.  He made it as far as the entrance – dodging curses and attacks from above by Peeves - before he was stopped by a Death Eater. The man had very nearly cast a curse at him and Draco had had to shout he was one of them, for God's sake. It had only made the Death Eater pause long enough for Draco to get a little closer.

Draco had no idea who it was, as he still had his mask on, but he knew it was a man. He was simply too big to be anything else. The Death Eater drew his wand again, and Draco pleaded once more to be allowed past, that he was one of them, even though it tore at something inside of him to say it. He didn't want any of this anymore. He didn't want to be a part of all this destruction, this hate. He didn't want to be the reason for so much death. It was bad enough that he had Dumbledore on his conscious.

Draco heard the beginnings of a curse when suddenly, someone had stunned the Death Eater. He whirled around, certain he'd recognized Potter's voice, relieved to know he'd survived this far. The next thing he knew, Draco was punched on the mouth so hard he fell over, landing on top of the Death Eater. He blinked, torn between laughter and anger when he'd heard Ron shout, “And that's the second time we've saved your life tonight, you two-faced bastard!”

And then they were gone.

He'd not seen them, so he figured they were under Potter's invisibility cloak, and that thought settled in his stomach like a block of ice. Somehow he just knew – knew – that Potter was off to find the Dark Lord, and that filled him with dread. He raised himself up and stared out to where he thought Potter had gone, unable to move any further.

As much as he needed to make sure his parents were alright, that they were alive, he could not bring himself to leave the castle. He could not leave behind the only link he had with Potter. It was impossible.

Nor could he stay and fight – for either side. If he fought with the Death Eaters, he'd be fighting against his fellow students, his teachers, Potter's friends.

If he fought on their side, word was sure to reach Voldemort and that would mean sentencing his parents to Merlin only knew what.

No, he couldn't take that chance. So he'd done the only thing he could think of, and returned to his House common room. The fight had not reached the House of Slytherin. That didn't really surprise Draco, though. After all, most of his peers had either fled, or were fighting alongside the Dark Lord himself. There was no need for anyone to defend this part of the castle, or to seek out anyone to fight.

It saddened him, in a way, to know that most of the people he'd spent the last seven years with would choose to join Voldemort.

When the announcement was made that Hogwarts' defenders would be allowed one hour to retrieve their dead and tend to their wounded, Draco wondered what to do. What it meant. He was fairly certain that Potter was at large still, since Voldemort had said Potter was to come to him before the hour was up.

Draco remembered walking aimlessly across the common room and his dormitory, trying to get his head around things. He decided to wait, wanting to be absolutely certain the battle was over before going back to the Great Hall.  

In the end, when the hour was almost up, he hadn't been able to help himself and he'd gone up to the Great Hall. Draco made sure he stayed out of sight, hating feeling like a coward, but knowing he could not risk getting involved either way.

It didn't seem to matter, though, as everywhere he looked, he was confronted with the repercussions of his decisions. There were still a few bodies scattered around in the debris, but none living. He thought he even recognized a new ghost, but the moment he focused his attention to her, she'd fled. He wondered which of his peers had been so scared of dying that they'd chosen to spend eternity as a ghost, instead.

He knew he should probably try to help, to free the bodies still trapped, but he couldn't do so without fully exposing himself, and he wasn't sure how the others would react to his presence. Especially not right in that moment.

Draco had almost made it as far as the Great Hall when he heard it. Hagrid's angry yell at that centaur, Bane. What he heard then had chilled him to the bone. Potter couldn't be dead. It simply wasn't possible. Out of sight of the people in the Hall who came rushing out to see what was going on, Draco slumped against the stairs, trying to force his heart to keep beating.

As people came spilling out onto the grounds, he joined the mass of bodies, hoping no one would notice. He stayed on the fringes, however, not wanting to risk being found out, but he simply could not resist seeing for himself. And what he saw almost brought him to his knees.

Potter, limp and lifeless in Hagrid's arms. Potter, laid out on display in front of Voldemort's feet. Draco barely paid attention to anything else around him, his eyes transfixed on the other boy's body, willing him to be alive.

Draco was vaguely aware of Longbottom being made an example of and of him suddenly freeing himself and miraculously slicing a sword through the air and chopping Nagini's ugly head off. He'd hated that snake. What had him riveted to the spot, however, was seeing a sudden blur of movement and then... nothing. Potter had disappeared!

Draco had wanted to shout with triumph but he couldn't move a muscle. All he could do was clutch at the castle wall he found himself leaning against, and try to catch a glimpse – some indication of where Potter was. He found none.

So focused had Draco been on Harry, that it took him a moment to realize the fighting had begun again and that it was being taken inside of the Great Hall. The push of bodies forced him to follow along. He noticed something odd as he hid in a corner of the Hall. None of the curses cast at the defenders of Hogwarts seemed to stick.

Not only that, but the more he paid attention, the more he realized that some spells simply didn't even hit their mark. They were stopped by shield charms. Potter! It had to be!

Draco's heart was racing, his palms sweating as he both tried to stay out of sight, and keep a close eye on the fight in front of him. His eyes darted every which way, trying to take it all in. His heart sank when he saw Voldemort battle McGonagall, Slughorn, and Kingsley at the same time, feeling almost certain that they would be no match for him. He hoped he was wrong.

Draco was so intent on the fighting around him, he didn't hear his parents calling for him at first. What caught his attention instead, was the fierce shriek of rage from Mrs. Weasley as Draco's aunt Bellatrix cast a killing curse at Ginny. Draco watched with awe as Mrs. Weasley took on his aunt and couldn't bring himself to be upset when Mrs. Weasley won the fight, killing his aunt in the process. She'd deserved whatever she'd gotten, as far as he was concerned, though he knew his mother would feel the loss more keenly.

It was then, as he watched his aunt perish, that he heard his mother and father calling for him. Draco's heart leapt with joy with the knowledge they were both alive and safe – or as much so as was possible, considering there was still a battle going on, and Voldemort was furious at the death of his best lieutenant.

His parents reached him just as Potter revealed himself, ordering everyone to leave them alone – this was a battle between Potter and Voldemort, and it would be to the death. Draco clung to his mother as he watched, fear etched clearly in his face.

Never before had Draco heard Potter speak the way he did that night. Never before had he seen him so confident, so strong. So incredibly sexy. As he listened to the mutual taunting, to Potter's efforts to convince his opponent to show some remorse, Draco prayed. He needed for Potter to win, to be victorious and live.

The world would surely end if he didn't – he was sure of it. Draco's eyes widened in horror when he saw Voldemort cast the killing curse, and he held his breath.

And then the unthinkable happened: Voldemort... died.

Everything went silent for the briefest moment before erupting into jubilant screams and cheers and roars of victory. Everyone around Draco – except he and his parents – celebrated the death of the Magical world's worst enemy.

Draco wanted to weep. His emotions running so high, he wasn't sure which was was up or down anymore. He let his mother guide him to a table once Professor McGonagall had conjured them back into place. They sat together, Draco, and his parents, out of the way of everyone. In all his life, Draco hadn't felt so out of place.

At the same time, however, there was no place he would rather be, because this was where Harry Potter was. So they sat, his parents casting nervous glances as if worried someone might attack them for even being here after everything that'd happened. No one did.

Eventually, platters of food appeared on the tables and everyone partook in the impromptu feast. Draco hadn't realized how hungry he was until he started eating. He paused when an old, withery-looking house-elf appeared at his mother's side. It took him a moment to realize it was Kreacher, who looked both oddly proud and very sad as he spoke in hushed, humbled tones and asked his mother's forgiveness. He also offered her condolences on the death of her sister.

It seemed a bit odd to Draco, but after giving it some thought, it made a strange kind of sense. The old elf had been devoted to the House of Black, of which both his mother and aunt were a part. Though the will of Sirius had made Kreacher belong to Potter, he still held the Black's in high regard, and he'd essentially helped attack the Death Eaters, of which his family had been a part of.

Draco's mother assured Kreacher she was fine, and even excused him. It took Draco by surprise to hear how gently she spoke to Kreacher, though again after some thought, realized it had been mostly his father who'd treated Dobby so harshly.

It made Draco wonder what else he hadn't been as aware of, and realize that perhaps he ought to pay more attention to his mother, and less to his father's ways.

With a sigh, Draco stood and stretched, gazing out the window one last time before turning his attention back on the room. Another glance at the clock told him there were still several minutes before he could expect him to come, if he did at all. Draco really hoped he would.

Draco had spent the following weeks after the battle locked up in his room, trying to come to terms with everything. His past. What he'd done and said. How he felt.

But mostly, Draco had thought about Potter and the more time went by, the more he realized that he had to do something. He had to talk to someone, but there was really only one person in the world who he really wanted to talk to.

Harry Potter.

Draco was sure that Potter would sooner curse him than hear him out. The knowledge left him feeling desperate. What if Draco would never be able to apologize to Potter? Never be able to tell him how terribly sorry he was for everything. Or be able to beg for his forgiveness – on his knees if he had to!

It made Draco ache inside in a way he'd never felt before and in the end it had proven to be too much for him. It had taken him three solid days to compose a letter to Potter and it had taken him another three before he'd gathered up enough nerve to actually send the family owl to deliver the message.

And now here he was, waiting.



Draco turned around the room, looking without really seeing when something caught his eye over in the opposite corner of the room. As he walked over to whatever it was that had glinted in the light, he was amazed. A barked laugh escaped his lips as he stood in front of the Mirror of Erised for the second time in his life.

“Merlin's beard,” he murmured, shaking his head.

Draco stood in front of the Mirror, his eyes flitting once again over the scene reflected back at him. It was the same as it had been the first time he'd encountered the Mirror, he realized. Draco sighed, running his fingers through his hair as he thought back to that time.

It had been on one of the days Draco had locked himself in the Room of Requirement to work on the Vanishing Cabinet. He'd been frustrated when he failed to fix it again and had decided to take a short break. Walking around the Room, he'd picked up various pieces, inspecting them, when he'd quite literally stumbled into the Mirror.

It had been covered with a large oilcloth, but that fell down as Draco scrambled back to his feet. What he saw then, had shocked him so much he'd been unable to move.

That had been the first time he'd truly come face-to-face with his deepest fears and desires. At the time, they had amounted to the same thing.

He was in love with Harry Potter.

It was so evident from the picture before him, there simply was no denying it anymore. Draco's eyes were fixed on that same image now, watching with equal parts dread and longing as he saw his mirror image embrace Potter, who kissed him with a passion Draco would give his life for.

He knew, as he saw the lovers undress each other, that everything in the Mirror was purely his desire. Knew that this didn't show what would be, or what could be. Just his own, deepest wishes.

Draco stood, intently watching the scene unfold as his mirror image and Potter began to make love. The way they moved, the intimacy with which they touched each other, stirred something in him. A part of him was most definitely turned on by what he was seeing, but his fear of what might transpire in the next few minutes overrode all sense of arousal.

Thoughts of his upcoming meeting with Potter, and memories of how he'd reacted to this the first time warred within him. Back then, Draco had been afraid, too. Worried everyone knew his secrets, that it was obvious to all that it was Potter he loved. He'd thought the Mirror would show everyone what he'd so long been trying to hide, and he'd wanted to destroy it.

Yet he hadn't been able to do it. Mostly, because Draco hadn't been able to bear the thought of destroying even an image of Potter. Part of him felt it would be akin to harming the boy himself, and he just couldn't do it.

So Draco'd done the next best thing: he'd maneuvered things around in the Room so that the Mirror would be hidden – completely out of sight so no one would be able to find it. Or so he'd thought.

And now it was here, showing him once again what he most longed for and was afraid he'd never get.

He was so lost in thought that the sound of the door opening made him jump. His eyes closed as the door did, the hinges creaking more than he thought they should. His breath stalled in his chest as he listened for the footsteps he knew must follow. He felt an irrational fear that Harry would know – that he would see it in the mirror and condemn Draco before he ever had a chance to explain.

Draco knew, of course, that the very thought was ridiculous. What the mirror held was for the viewer alone; no other could see it. Still, he couldn’t help feeling exposed as he stood there, his back to the man who had filled his obsessive thoughts for seven years.

He could sense Harry – so close, only two paces away – as he stopped behind him.

A sigh, followed by Harry’s voice. “I received your owl, Draco.”

Slowly, Draco turned around, his eyes moving slower still to meet green eyes darkened by the horrors of the last few months. Inexplicably, Draco found himself wishing that he had felt the same – that he knew what it was like to love so many so much that his eyes would be haunted by their loss.

Thoughts such as that were foreign to him, treacherous and distracting, so he shoved them to the side and arranged his features into a smile. It was timid and flat, but it was the best he could do. “Thank you for coming, Harry.”

Harry crossed his arms, his face hardening as he held Draco's gaze, distrust clear in his eyes as he said curtly, “What did you want, Malfoy?” It stung Draco to hear the same tone of malice so often heard whenever Harry had spoken to him. Though it stung, he couldn't really blame Harry for it.

It did make him wonder why Harry had even shown up, enough so that he found himself asking, “Why did you come?” rather than answering the question. Draco was pleased Harry had come, but he couldn't really fathom why the other boy had bothered. It seemed obvious to Draco that Harry was there against his better judgement. And yet... he was there.

Draco held his breath as he watched Harry's jaw muscle twitch. With a huff, Harry said – almost reluctantly, “Because Dumbledore would have wanted me to...” A pause. Something flickered in Harry's eyes that made Draco wonder, even as Harry added with a pointed look, “Because I learned a lot from him... and from Professor Snape.”

Draco was puzzled by the statement. While he was fairly certain that Professor Snape had had motives beyond those seen by others, he had no idea what Harry thought he'd learned. Snape had been Voldemort's man, hadn't he? Draco frowned, giving that some thought. No, he realized. Snape had to have been Dumbledore's man, and somehow Harry had found out. But still... there had to be more to it than that. It just didn't make sense, otherwise.

Harry's eyes searched his, leaving Draco feeling exposed and vulnerable, fearful of what it was Harry might uncover. The silence between them stretched until Draco thought he might snap under the pressure, but he wasn't sure how to proceed. Finally, it seemed as though the heavy silence grew to be too much for Harry as well as the other heaved a weary sigh and said, “Why did you ask me here, Draco?”

Draco could feel heat rising on his cheeks as his eyes followed the movement of Harry's hand as it ran through the boy's tousled hair. Draco yearned to do the same, to feel the strands sift through his fingers as he'd dreamed of doing so often. When Draco didn't answer right away, Harry cleared his throat, his eyes darting around the room as he added, “Look, if this is about you wanting to atone for bringing the Death Eaters here, for aiding in killing Dumbledore... hell, even trying to kill me... don't bother. I get it, okay? Past is past. I just want to move on with life and so should you.”

With a stab, Draco realized that if he didn't speak up, Harry would turn around and leave before he'd ever have a chance to say his piece, but he couldn't form all the words. As Harry's head turned toward the door as if deciding to just go, Draco spoke in a quiet, hurried tone. “No... well, yes, that, too... but no, it's more... more personal than that.”

Harry's head swiveled back to look at Draco in surprise, but Draco fell silent, unable to say more as he stared at his feet. “What do you mean, it's more personal?” asked Harry, confusion clear in his voice.

In an effort to buy himself a little more time, and because he wasn't certain his legs would carry him much longer, Draco made his way to sit in one of the wingback chairs by the crackling fire. He stared into the flickering flames as Harry asked again, “What do you mean, Malfoy?” He could hear the mounting frustration in Harry's voice.

Still staring at the fire, Draco said quietly, “I-I wanted to thank you-”

“Thank me?” Harry asked incredulous.

Draco cast a sideways glance at Harry who'd moved to stand next to the other chair. Giving him a sad half-smile, Draco said, “For saving my life that day. I didn't think you would. It certainly would have served me right if you'd left me there to die with Crabbe.”

Harry snorted, crossing his arms as he said derisively, “I'd never do that to anyone. I couldn't – not if I had the chance to save someone. Not that the likes of you would ever understand something like that.”

Draco cringed. The words hurt to hear, but he couldn't deny there was truth to it. Or at least, there used to be. He thought he did understand it, now. Sort of. After all, he hadn't given Harry up to Voldemort, had he? Anger suddenly flared up in him, the need to prove Harry wrong, to make Harry eat his words surprised him, but not as much as the words that burst forth from his mouth as he glared up at Harry and spat, “Oh no, of course I could never understand anything the great Harry Potter did or the reasons why he might choose to save another. Did you ever stop to think that it's because of me not giving you away when you were caught, that you didn't end up in Voldemort's clutches? That I tried to keep you safe?”

Both Draco's and Harry's eyes widened at the outburst. Draco turned his head and closed his eyes, his face flaming with the realization he'd said too much. He could hear movement, but couldn't make himself look up to see what Harry was doing – he just knew the other boy was leaving. After all, why would he stay? Why would Harry ever believe Draco?

To say Draco was shocked when he heard Harry's quiet, “What are you talking about? Is this some kind of joke?” would be an understatement.

Draco swallowed hard and took several deep, calming breaths before turning to face Harry, who'd taken a seat and sat watching him guardedly. Resigned to his fate, whatever it might turn out to be, Draco said, “No, it's no joke, Harry. I'll... I'll explain, just please... hear me out? I promise, I'll tell you everything, just let me get through this without interruption. Can you do that?”

Draco's heart hammered in his chest as he waited for Harry's response, reminding himself that if things went badly, he could always cast Obliviate and make Harry forget. When Harry nodded, Draco steeled himself and did as he said he would. He told Harry everything, laying out all his sins, his reasons, his hopes, his fears – baring his soul to the only person aside from his parents that he'd ever loved.

It was frightening beyond belief, but when he was done after what felt like hours of talking non-stop, he felt relieved. As if a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders and he could almost breathe again. Almost, because when he looked into Harry's eyes he could see something there. Something he recognized from his own reflection.

Something that Harry tried to push down with visible effort. It made Draco's heart constrict – had he been wrong? Was Harry about to unleash a curse on him for what he'd just shared? But, no. No, there was definitely something in Harry's eyes that made Draco hopeful. Maybe – just maybe – he wasn't alone in this.

His hopes took a nosedive, however, when Harry scowled and said in a harsh voice, “I don't know what you're on about, Malfoy, but this is low, even for you.”

Draco blinked, feeling hurt and utterly off-balance. His eyes searched Harry's, trying to reassure himself that he wasn't imagining things. “Why did you save me, Harry?” He asked, his voice quiet, but firm. “Really? Why? It wasn't simply because you'd have done it for anyone, though I know you would have been stupid enough to risk your neck for anyone else... but you did it for me. You came back for me. Why?”

Harry's brow furrowed, his jaw clenching as the silence stretched on. The longer Harry remained silent, the more certain Draco was of his conviction. After what seemed like an age, Harry cut out, “You're wrong.” Draco didn't need for Harry to explain what he meant. He understood all too well. Could almost feel the denial radiating from the other boy as he stood up and took two steps toward the door.

Taking a deep breath, Draco said hurriedly, “What do you see when you look in the mirror, Harry?”

Harry froze, but didn't speak. Draco pushed on. “Go on. Stand in front of the mirror. I know you know how it works. I know you've seen it before.” It was, after all, a well known secret that Harry had faced Voldemort in their first year at Hogwarts, and the means by which it had taken place. Draco had to press the advantage he felt certain lay before him. “Look into the mirror, Harry, and tell me what you see.”

Draco's voice had been quiet, but insistent, and Harry – almost reluctantly, it seemed – did as directed. Once he stood in front of the mirror, his eyes would not leave its surface, though they darted back and forth as if trying to take in every minute detail. Draco got up and stood a foot away from Harry, staring hard at the other boy's face as he stood transfixed. Draco saw the way Harry's pulse raced by the vein in his neck. Could tell that Harry's pupils were dilated, his posture showing both longing and defeat.

“Tell me, Harry?” Draco pleaded, hating how vulnerable it made him sound but unable to keep it from happening.

Harry shook his head, his voice tight with emotion as he said, “What does it matter?”

Draco whispered, “It matters to me.”

Shaking his head once more, Harry said flatly, “It doesn't. None of it does, Draco. Don't you get it? I can't lose my family again. This,” Harry said, indicating the scene in the mirror that still held him spellbound and that made Draco wish he could see what Harry saw, “can never happen. I have Ginny, so no, it doesn't matter.”

Though Draco had known this was bound to have been his answer, it still cut him deep to hear the actual words. To feel the sting of rejection pierce his heart. Draco stumbled backward until he felt something hit the back of his knees. Without even bothering to look, he sank down on what turned out to be a bed – one he hadn't noticed before. He couldn't even begin to wonder what it was doing there now.

Staring down at his hands, Draco was at a loss for words, his emotions in turmoil as the scope of what he had just done sank in. He'd told Harry everything. For the past seven years, Harry had had power over Draco without even knowing it and today he'd given him even more. That knowledge burned inside of him. Squeezing his eyes shut, he took a ragged breath and said, “So that's it then? Does what I've told you even mean anything to you? Anything at all?”

He was met with silence which just fanned the flames inside of him. Draco felt as if he'd swallowed some particularly nasty polyjuice potion with the way his stomach roiled. He couldn't bear to open his eyes to look at Potter, to see the triumph he must feel at finally having the upper hand over Draco. “Bet you can't wait to tell all your friends, can you, Potter. Tell them just how pathetic I am. How stupid I was for telling you. For wanting you.”

Draco could hear movement, and though he couldn't be sure without opening his eyes, he thought that maybe Harry was in front of him. Draco felt sick, his heart hurt so much.

This is what love brings you, Draco, you fool.

Draco turned his face away from where he thought Harry was, keeping his eyes closed as he snorted and said, “Bet you can't wait to take me down, now that I've handed you the perfect weapon to do it with.”

Harry sighed and Draco could feel the warmth of it fan across his face, startling him. He didn't move, however, unwilling to confirm his fears. “I wouldn't, Draco,” came Harry's quiet reply. “I couldn't.”

At that, Draco snorted and finally turned to look at Harry. “Why's that? Too much of a bleeding heart, are you, Potter? Or is it that you can't handle kicking a dog when he's down?”

“Shut up, Malfoy!” Harry said angrily. “You don't have a clue what you're talking about.”

Draco's eyes narrowed. He didn't know why he was lashing out, other than perhaps out of fear, but he couldn't seem to stop himself from saying, “Oh, don't I? Well, then, Potter, why don't you enlighten me. Explain to me why you couldn't possibly-”

Harry rolled his eyes and cut in, “Stop being such an idiot, Malfoy. Just... just shut up, already.”

“Or what?” Draco challenged.

Instead of answering, Harry suddenly grabbed Draco's face in both hands, holding him in place even as Harry leaned in and kissed him hard, taking Draco completely by surprise. It took him several precious seconds for it to register that Harry was kissing him and to get with the programme. If this was all he'd ever get, then Draco wanted to make it count.  

Harry pulled back just far enough to rest his forehead against Draco's, his hands still cupping Draco's face. They were both panting slightly and Draco was afraid to move, to lose the contact with Harry. When Harry didn't speak, Draco's heart felt as if it was being squeezed to the point of pain and he found himself ask hoarsely, “One time, that's all I'm asking, Harry. Please... just... just once. Please?”

Harry's voice was strangled. “Draco...”

His heart now racing, Draco pushed on, knowing that if he didn't, he'd lose this one chance forever. He couldn't stand not knowing what being with Harry would be like. Not after having kissed him – tasted him. He had to try. “Please, Harry. No one need ever know. Just please... please.” Draco pressed his lips to Harry's as he continued to chant – to beg for this one time together, no longer caring how pathetic it made him.

When Harry groaned, his hand moving to grasp the back of Draco's head, Draco could feel the capitulation in Harry. Pulling back to look Draco in the eye, Harry took a wavering breath and nodded. “Just this once.” His voice sounded as broken and hopeful as Draco himself felt.

For the first time that Draco could recall, he felt himself smile – a true, genuine smile. A happy smile. Draco wrapped his arms around Harry's shoulders, pulling him to his chest as he kissed Harry slowly. Deeply. Draco moaned softly at how right it felt to hold Harry.

After several minutes, Harry pulled away, a soft smile playing on his lips when Draco whimpered at the loss of contact. Getting to his feet, Harry held a hand out to Draco and pulled him to his feet. They stared at each other, awe and wonder and desire clear in both their faces as Harry started to disrobe Draco.

Once Harry had Draco naked, it was Draco's turn to undress Harry and he did so with trembling fingers. He couldn't quite believe this was really happening and he quashed the desire to check that he wasn't standing in front of the Mirror of Erised after all. When his fingers made contact with Harry's skin under his shirt, however, Draco drew in a shuddering breath. No, this was real. This was happening and Draco would marvel at it later. For now, he would simply enjoy this blessed moment. Merlin only knew how long he'd have to live off of this memory they were making.

As Draco traced the scars on Harry's arms and hands, he glanced up with a sly grin and murmured, “Scarhead,” his tone teasing and devoid of the malice it used to contain when he called Harry that. Harry rolled his eyes, quickly ridding himself of the last of his clothing before pushing Draco hard. As Draco fell onto the bed, Harry climbed on it, crawling toward him even as Draco slid back to lie in the middle.

“Shut up, Malfoy,” said Harry, though his voice was tender.

Draco shivered at the sound of it, then shuddered again when Harry lowered himself on top of Draco. The warmth of Harry's skin on his was exquisite. The knowledge that Harry was hard for him – hard and hot and throbbing against him – was almost too much. Especially when Harry moved his hips just so and rubbed against Draco's aching length.

“Oh Merlin's beard,” Draco muttered as he pulled Harry's face to his and kissed him for all he was worth. His hands ran along Harry's back, learning every inch of skin he could reach, committing it all to memory. It was already so much better than he'd ever dared dream. It was certainly better than any of the times he'd gotten off with Pansy.

Draco had never gone further than that, however, but he desperately wanted Harry to fuck him. For Harry to be his first – he knew it'd be impossible for Harry to be his only, but he wanted to have that much, at least. Draco had no idea whether Harry had been with Ginny yet or not and honestly, he didn't want to know. He was much happier under the delusion of them being each other's first when it came to having sex. He clung to that, especially when Harry started moving against him in earnest.

He relished the weight of Harry above him, the feel of skin sliding against skin as they rubbed against one another. The tiny shivers of pleasure he felt resonate from Harry into his skin. It wasn't possible for anything to be better than this, Draco was sure of it.

Draco could feel the need in him rising, the pressure to release building, but he didn't want it. Not yet. He wanted to feel Harry inside of him. To have a part of Harry with him – for a while, if not forever. So with great effort and panting breath, Draco pulled back to look at Harry and whispered, “Please, Harry. Let me... need you inside... pleaseplease.”

“Merlin's beard, Draco,” Harry whimpered, closing his eyes as he tried to calm himself.

Draco held his breath, holding completely still as he waited for Harry. He prayed Harry would give him this – he needed this so badly. Finally, after what felt like an age, Harry opened his eyes to gaze down on Draco, and nodded. Again, Draco felt a smile stretch his lips as he kissed Harry reverently.

After a long, stretched out moment, Draco pulled back again, wondering what to do next. He knew enough about what they'd be doing to know they needed some lubricant, but he hadn't brought any with him. He hadn't been able to without rousing suspicion. Glancing around, his eyes landed upon a small vessel on the nightstand that hadn't been there before. He sent out a silent thanks to whatever magic was at work – be it the Room's itself, or even that of house elves. He didn't know or care – for the fortuitousness as he reached for it.

Sure enough, when he opened the lid there was lube there. He held it out to Harry, who had sat back, watching Draco's every move with interested eyes. When Harry saw what was in the vessel, he grinned, his eyes flashing to Draco's who grinned back with a shrug. Their gazes locked, Harry dabbed his fingers into the viscous liquid, then teased Draco by dragging his fingertips against Draco's hole, only now and again pressing against it but never breaching.

Draco squirmed, placing the vessel on the bed, out of the way, so he wouldn't drop it. “Please, Harry,” he said hoarsely as he tried to push down on the finger pressed against him. Draco's heart thudded wildly in his chest when Harry finally complied and he felt the intrusive pressure enter him. Closing his eyes, Draco forced himself to breathe evenly, refusing to end things before they'd started.

It burned, though. Oh, how it burned. He'd never, ever had anything down there, and just Harry's one finger felt like it was too much. How by Merlin's baggy pants was he supposed to take Harry's cock inside of him?

And then Harry began to move his finger slowly back and forth, wiggling it this way and that until he hit something that caused Draco's eyes to widen in surprise. Draco gasped, then moaned when Harry did it again. The discomfort temporarily gone, Draco focused on the brief sparks of pleasure the likes of which he'd never known before, his hips moving as if to search it out. Draco pulled Harry's face to his, kissing him hungrily.

That was when Harry added another finger, and they went through the motions again – and then a third time until Draco was panting and squirming, chasing after more because it felt too good. “Merlin's beard, Harry,” Draco moaned, his eyes shut tight as he fought to keep from coming. He was sure that he'd be able to, just from what Harry was doing with his fingers and nothing else. “Please, please,” he begged.

Harry chuckled softly, pressing against that spot one last time before relenting. Draco lay panting, his eyes fixed on Harry as he slathered his length with the lube. Harry wiped his hands on the covers before leaning forward, his face inches from Draco's as he searched his eyes and whispered, “Are you sure, Draco?”

Draco nodded vigorously, grabbing Harry's face between his hands as he kissed him hard. He felt Harry shift above him, felt the tip of Harry's cock press against him, then slowly enter him. The burn that had left before was back and much, much worse this time, causing Draco to cry out and arch his back. Harry put his hand against Draco's cheek, making shushing noises as he held still so Draco could get used to him.

Only when Draco settled again did Harry move, though he did so slowly, rocking back and forth, going a little deeper each time. It didn't quite hurt, but it wasn't pleasurable either – still, Draco relished the feeling because it meant he had Harry in a way no one else would. When Harry was in as far as he could go, he lowered himself on top of Draco, murmuring, “You okay?”

Draco nodded, wrapping his arms around Harry. He was much better than okay, though he wasn't sure he'd be able to accurately tell him why. Harry sought Draco's lips in a sweet kiss as he started to move again, his pace slow and measured, though Draco could feel through the muscles of Harry's back that he was holding back. He appreciated it – appreciated that Harry wanted to make this good for him. That he didn't want to hurt Draco.  

Never in his life had Draco imagined he could feel this good. This happy. He wanted for this moment to last forever and wished he knew how to stop time. He didn't, of course, so he was left to just be – to enjoy this moment as it happened to the fullest extent. To feel the pressure building inside of him with every push and pull from Harry. It was bliss and torture all rolled up in one. Draco wanted more, however, so he sought it the only way he knew how.

“Harder, Harry, please... faster,” he groaned, crying out as Harry immediately obeyed, giving Draco everything he could. Harry lifted himself up, angling himself so he could go harder, deeper with every thrust.

“Yes! Merlin's beard, Harry,” Draco whimpered, arching up into every thrust. Draco's hands sought out whatever skin of Harry's he could find, needing to touch him. Feel him in every way he could. Draco could hear Harry panting hard, see his muscles twitch from exertion, feel the sweat drip off of Harry and onto himself. Throughout it all, Harry's eyes were either locked with Draco's or fixed on where they were joined. Whenever Harry'd look down there, he'd moan, close his eyes briefly and then lock gazes with Draco again as if seeing them like that was both too much and not enough.

Draco knew exactly how Harry felt, as it was the same for him. His own eyes made the same circuitous route as Harry continued to pound into him relentlessly. He was sure Harry was as close to breaking as he was, he could see him trying to not give into his release, just like Draco. They were both desperately trying to hold onto this moment, knowing that once they came it would all be over.

Harry choked back a cry, his eyes wide behind his glasses as he looked at Draco. “C-can't... need to,” he pleaded between pants. “P-please... Draco!”

Draco wrapped his fingers around his own shaft, shuddering at the new stimulation – loving and hating it at the same time as with a few quick jerks he came. He sobbed his release as it fell onto his stomach and chest. Draco's legs locked around Harry's thighs, wanting to hold him as close as he could as he felt Harry follow him over the edge. The feeling of Harry there was enthralling. He wished he could keep him there forever.

As it was, Harry slumped on top of Draco, his limbs seemingly utterly boneless after their fucking. Draco wrapped his arms tight around Harry as he kissed him with more tenderness than he'd thought himself capable of.

I love you, Harry Potter.

Draco wanted to say the words out loud so badly, he almost did it. In the end, he simply couldn't, knowing that it would do no good, and it would only cause them both pain. Draco refused to do that to Harry, especially after Harry had given him this gift. So instead, he contented himself with holding the man he loved in his arms, breathing in the unique smell that was Harry and sex that saturated the room.

I will carry this with me for eternity.

Draco smiled sadly when Harry roused enough to look at Draco again. Draco cupped Harry's cheek and murmured, “Thank you.”

Harry shook his head, his throat working as if to speak, but no words came. Instead, he pressed his lips against Draco's sweetly before slipping out of the embrace. They both sat up and Harry looked around as if searching for something. At Harry's quiet, “Ahhah,” Draco followed his gaze to a wash basin that stood on a stool a foot from the bed.

When Harry got up and walked to the basin, Draco had to suppress a sigh. He watched in silence as Harry washed himself, then rinsed the cloth he'd used and came back to the bed. With one knee up on the mattress, Harry held up the rag with a quizzical brow. Draco couldn't stop from smiling at the thought that Harry wanted to take care of him, so he nodded.

Harry smiled, too, as he wiped the evidence of their lovemaking off of Draco's body with gentle hands. Part of Draco hated it because he'd wanted to hold onto the moment just a little longer, but another part also relished the fact that Harry was doing this for him. Draco was sure that it had to mean something, though he was equally certain that in the end, it wouldn't make a difference in the outcome.

After Harry was done and the wash cloth returned to the basin, Harry climbed back into bed, snuggling up to Draco as if he, too, didn't want the moment to end just yet. With Harry's arm flung over his stomach, and his face nestled in the crook of Draco's neck, Draco could almost feel completely satisfied. Could almost forget there was anything other than him and Harry.

Draco could feel Harry's eyes squeeze shut against his skin, heard the shuddering intake of breath. His own arms wrapped tight around Harry, Draco suddenly felt like weeping, but he held himself in check. Draco felt sure that Harry was feeling guilty for having given in to his desires. For having cheated on Ginny. As much as it broke Draco's heart, he knew Harry well enough to know that it had to be killing him now that it was said and done.

Pressing his lips against Harry's forehead, he whispered, “She doesn't have to know, Harry. You don't have to know.”

Harry shook his head, his voice raw with emotion as he said quietly, “No. I did this with my eyes wide open. I'll deal with the consequences. Even if it costs me everything.”

Draco caressed Harry's back soothingly, unsure what to say. He knew Harry would do exactly that. Knew that Harry would confess to Ginny and take whatever she handed out. There was no way Harry'd be able to keep this a secret from her, even if it would never pass his lips to another. Draco also knew that there was every chance that Ginny would cast him aside. That Harry – and Draco, too – would be cast aside by friends and family alike.

There was no way that Draco could think of to help Harry with this, save one, so he offered again. After Harry refused a second time, Draco sighed and gave up trying to convince him. Instead, he held Harry quietly, trying to comfort him as best he could, though he felt horribly inadequate to the task. They spoke in hushed tones of what they might do now, though both were all too aware that nothing like this could happen again.

After a while, Harry sighed heavily and said, “I should go.”

Draco nodded, his heart suddenly feeling more like it had been replaced by a solid rock than a functioning organ. With one last, lingering kiss, they parted and Draco watched in sullen silence as Harry got dressed and made to leave.

While Harry was walking to the door, Draco reached for his wand in his robe pocket, straightening just in time. Concealing the wand by his thigh, he gave a half-hearted smile as Harry turned around, his hand on the doorknob. Draco could see Harry wanted to say something, but neither spoke. Harry merely nodded once, but it said more than anything Harry could have told him.

As Harry slowly opened the door, Draco whispered, “Be happy, Harry.”

A heartbeat.


Draco raised his wand, pointing it at Harry's back.


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