Title – Finite Incantatum
Genre – Drama/Romance
Rating - NC-17
Pairing – H/D
Chapter – 16
Warnings – Language, sexual acts.
Summary – What should have happened after Half Blood Prince! It’s the autumn after Dumbledore’s death, the Death Eaters are steadily gaining power, and Harry and his friends are desperate to find the remaining Horcruxes. But then Draco Malfoy arrives at Grimmauld Place, traumatised, starved and drained of all his magical ability. It falls to Harry to show the Slytherin how to adapt to his new way of life, never guessing that Draco has a few things to teach him in return.
Disclaimer – I don’t own the boys, they belong to Ms Rowling. The chapter title loosely translates as ‘Love is rich with both honey and venom’. Done for fun, not profit!
Chapter 16: Amor Et Melle Et Felle Est Fecundissmismus
Eyelashes fluttered like butterfly wings. The pale gold of the early morning sun filtered through the curtains, stirring Harry from his sleep. He was a little too hot, but not so uncomfortable that he wanted to do anything about it. His legs had got tangled up with Draco’s in the night again.
Harry yawned and opened his eyes. It was still early; he didn’t have to get up just yet. He wanted to stretch, but he was wary of waking the other boy. It was nice to be able to lie there and look at Draco unobserved. It was like discovering him all over again.
In real life, Draco was completely different from how Harry pictured him in his head. Actually, if Harry thought about it, there were two imaginary Dracos. First, there was the schoolboy Draco, his enemy, who was angular, anaemic and cruel. Hogwarts Draco, with his sneer and his drawl and his narrowed eyes, whose image still inspired a thrill of anger in Harry. Then there was the other Draco, the object of his erotic desires. This Draco was softer, his hair longer, his cheekbones more chiselled. This Draco was almost always naked, mouth curled into a sexy half smile, a constant invitation burning in his eyes.
The real Draco was different, and so much better, than both of these chimeras. He was a real, honest-to-god human being, beautiful in his imperfections, impossible to pin down or define in any way. And Harry just loved to look at him. He could have stared at his lover until his eyes ceased to see.
Draco’s hair was… so fine, yet there was so much of it. Thousands of glistering, gossamer strands, dragged through his fingertips. In places it was such a light shade of platinum that it was almost white. His eyebrows and lashes were a darker shade of ash blond. Harry liked the way Draco’s eyebrows arched elegantly towards his temples. He was so pale, and there were still slight shadows beneath his eyes, and it made Harry want to take care of him. Not that he would ever admit that to Draco, of course – he always got sulky and snappish if he felt Harry was implying that he was weak in any way. Harry loved the way Draco’s cheeks were slightly hollow. He wanted to run a finger along the length of Draco’s fine nose, across the little bump on the bridge. He wanted to plant soft kisses along the beautiful angles of Draco’s jaw, until he reached the other boy’s surprisingly delicate ears.
He reached out and tucked back a stray strand of Draco’s hair, lightly tracing the other boy’s cheek as he did so. Draco stirred, and Harry hastily withdrew his fingers. Draco’s lips were parted slightly in sleep. He had a lovely mouth, really. Harry smiled to see the downy golden hairs, almost invisible, at the corners. Draco didn’t really need to shave properly yet. It made Harry feel stupidly indulgent, but this was yet another thing he could never bring up with the Slytherin. Draco’s lips weren’t as full as Harry’s, but they were a soft pink colour and nicely shaped. Classical, Harry thought, randomly. Yes, he was right – Draco had the kind of mouth you might find on a Greek statue. He wanted to bite those lips until they were a rosy red.
Draco sighed deeply and opened his eyes. He didn’t seem remotely surprised that Harry was inches away, staring at him in a way that could arguably be a little creepy. One corner of his mouth twitched up into a small smile. Harry brushed back another strand of blond hair, letting his hand linger this time. Draco’s face was cool – he always got colder when he slept, while Harry heated up. Sleeping together, bodies entwined, they both had a chance of being a comfortable temperature. Draco had lovely eyes, surprisingly big when they weren’t narrowed in malice. Harry liked how the irises had a band of darker grey around the edge, but had little darts of silver in them towards the middle, along with… he noticed something new.
“Hey,” he whispered, breaking the silence. “Did you know that your eyes have little flecks of blue in them?”
Draco’s smile reached the other side of his mouth. “Yeah,” he said. “I get that from my mum. She—” A spasm of pain flashed across his face, and he looked away.
Harry put his arms around the other boy and held him tightly. There was nothing he could say, nothing at all, that would make things any better, or ease Draco’s pain. Harry had suffered enough from the knowledge that his own mother had sacrificed herself to save him, and he could only imagine how much worse it would feel if he had been allowed to grow up with her first.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispered into Draco’s hair. He wished he could offer some words of comfort and tell the other boy that Narcissa would be fine, but he knew that it would be an empty gesture.
“Fuck me,” Draco said.
“Just… just make me… think about something else. Do something to me; make me feel… good.”
Harry loved how much Draco wanted him. He loved that he was wanted at all. It frightened him a little as well. Draco wrapped his legs around Harry’s waist, holding him in so tightly that movement was impossible. The look in his eyes was so intense, desperate almost, that Harry had to look away. It made his heart clench. Draco wanted something from him, and Harry wished he knew what it was. He was frightened that it was something he wouldn’t be able to give. It was easier to just go ahead and do what Draco had asked – make him feel good for a while. It was easier to forget all the complicated, indefinable emotions stirred up by their relationship, and think only of how their two bodies combined could produce the closest thing to heaven that either of them had ever known.
It had been two weeks. Two weeks since Harry and Draco had returned to the Order headquarters. Two weeks of sneaking around, trying to keep their affair under wraps, stealing tense conversations with Hermione, skirting the issue of why Ron was no longer talking to Harry. It was wearing to say the least. Harry couldn’t help being a little incredulous that the four of them had managed to keep the secret for so long; he had assumed that after the first horrible revelation, his controversial new relationship would become public knowledge. The fact that it wasn’t was a relief, but it also meant that Harry was constantly on edge. He knew that they couldn’t hide away forever and that, while paling in significance compared to the war, he and Draco would still constitute a fairly Big Deal.
“Could you pass the milk please, Harry?”
Hermione’s voice made him jump. “What? Oh… of course.”
Harry wasn’t sure how many more awkward breakfasts with his two best friends he could put up with. It was made so much worse on that particular morning because Draco had consented to join him for the first time. He sat rigidly at Harry’s side, barely touching his cornflakes, fingers drumming nervously on the table. Ron, whose anger at Harry had turned into sulky silences, was glaring at Draco hatefully. Hermione was dealing with the situation by making awkwardly bright, forced conversation, as if she had been invited to a tea party with a bunch of wealthy dowagers she had never met before. Harry appreciated the effort she was putting in, and tried to help her, but really he thought she should just give it up as a hopeless cause. He swallowed his last piece of toast with difficulty past the tension in his throat. Honestly, he was astonished that he hadn’t died of chronic indigestion already.
“I’m going, Harry,” Draco said. “I’ve had my fill of cripplingly awkward silences for one day.”
“Don’t let us stop you,” Ron growled.
Draco turned to him with a mock show of astonishment. “What was that? You… you mean you don’t want me around? You don’t like me?” His voice dripped with that tone of sarcasm Harry hated. “Good God, Weasley, you’re subtlety is so acute that I never would have guessed!”
Ron turned red. “Oh, fuck off, you prick!” he shouted.
Draco sneered at him. “I’m devastated, Weasley. You really have a way with insults, don’t you?” Ron looked like he was about to throw something, and it was probably this as much as anything else that finally made Draco leave the room.
Harry felt horribly embarrassed. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled. “He’s… he’s just being defensive, because… he was out of order. I’ll go and talk to him.”
Ron was on the verge of saying something bitter, but Hermione nudged him with her elbow and gave Harry a little nod. “Thank you. I think that would be good.”
He caught up with Draco in the corridor and pulled him to one side, smiling stiffly at Bill and Fleur Weasley, who were passing on their way out. “You know, that really doesn’t help,” he whispered to the Slytherin. “I know this isn’t the ideal situation, but I’m trying very hard to bring my friends around to the idea of us, and when you insist on being like that, it just confirms everything they think about you.”
Draco gave him a steely look. “And who’s to say they’re wrong? Harry, I know that I’ve changed, in that I’ve been forced to reconsider certain viewpoints, but I’m still the same person I always was. I’m sorry about that. I’m sorry I don’t fit easily into your world – I do understand how inconvenient that is.”
Draco was an expert at accentuating just the right words to make Harry feel about three inches tall.
“I don’t like Weasley,” Draco continued. “And I don’t care what he thinks. And to be honest, I don’t see why I should be the one to bend over backwards in order to fit into your life. I don’t like feeling sorry for myself, you know, but I am completely alone here. I don’t want to be a Gryffindor, and I haven’t reached the point where I’m prepared to compromise who I am, grovel for acceptance from people I don’t give a fuck about, just to make things easier for you.”
“I’m sorry,” Harry said, acutely aware of how Draco’s voice was steadily rising, and that there were Order members all over the place. “Look, I’m going to talk to him as well, but… but you know that I’m only doing this because I want things to be easier for us. I don’t want to give up my friends, but… I’m risking it right now because I’m not going to give you up to make them happy, so could you… could you please try to help me a bit? I know it’s hard, and it’s a lot to ask, but… but I want…” He didn’t know how to finish that sentence. What exactly did he want? He wanted the old companionship with Ron and Hermione back. He didn’t want to give up what he had with Draco. But at the same time, he was scared of defining what exactly that was. And the maddening thing was that Draco knew it – he could tell by the barely disguised look of contempt in his eyes.
“You’re ashamed of me,” Draco said.
“No!” Harry protested. Draco was wrong, but… but a little too close to the truth, nevertheless, for comfort. “I’m not ashamed. It’s just that this is still very new to me, and… and…”
“And you wish that I was someone you didn’t have to work on. You wish that my rough edges were already filed down. You wish that I was anyone else but the boy who had done all those thoughtless, bitter things at school. More to the point, you wish I was a girl.”
“No! Look, I… I’m not going to pretend that things wouldn’t be easier if you hadn’t done all you could to alienate my loved ones over the years, but… Christ, Draco, what do you want me to do?”
“Stop lying to yourself, for a start.”
Harry took a deep breath. He wished that Draco wasn’t so much better at arguing than he was. He was starting to feel desperate, like he didn’t have a chance. There was nothing he could say that the blond wouldn’t somehow turn against him. “I’m not lying to myself,” he said, trying to keep his voice as quiet and steady as possible. “And I don’t wish that you were a girl.”
“You’re scared of being in a relationship with another man. Just admit it, and then we can either work on it, or…”
“Well, doesn’t it scare you a little bit?”
“No, actually. I have nothing else to lose now. There’s nothing wrong with that part of who I am; there’s nothing shameful about my desires. Why would I want to hide it away? If other people have a problem with it, why should I care? If Weasley is freaked out by the thought of his best friend fucking another guy, then—”
“Draco, Ron only has a problem with the fact that you’re, well, you. It’s nothing to do with being—”
“Yeah, you keep telling yourself that. And why are we sneaking around, anyway? Why exactly are you so nervous about the others finding out? We’ve been back for nearly two weeks now, and… and you’ve made me feel like I’m something to be hidden away. It’s like before, when you could just help me gain some control back after I’d lost my magic and help me figure stuff out, that was fine. But now you’ve finally admitted that you want me, now that I’m not just some lame duck for you to save, you can’t handle it. And don’t think I don’t realise that you’re terrified of the others finding out. Does public opinion really bother you that much?”
“No! I just… can’t you just… I’m not ashamed, but it’s new, and I need time to get used to it before—”
“You’ve known a lot longer that we’ve been sleeping together. You’ve had time. You just don’t want to give up your Golden Boy status. You don’t want to face up to the consequences of the wizarding world realising that their only hope at winning this war might be a bit of a queer.”
Draco grabbed the front of Harry’s sweater and pulled him into a hard kiss, forcefully invading the Gryffindor’s mouth with his tongue. It was irrational stupid, he knew that, but all Harry could think was that Mrs Weasley, Fred and Tonks were in the room just across the hall, and they could come out at any minute. He struggled to free himself. “Draco!”
As soon as he saw the look in his lover’s eyes, Harry knew that he had given himself away. He was a coward. Draco was right – there was a part of him that remained ashamed and afraid of this side of his sexuality. He had used the fact that Draco was once his enemy as an excuse for hiding and compromising. He didn’t think he could feel worse about himself at that moment.
It would almost have made it easier if Draco had crowed over him, rubbed his victory in Harry’s face, but he didn’t. He just looked very sad. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry this is so hard for you. I wish for your sake that I could give you up, but… but I can’t.” He turned to go back upstairs. Harry wanted to follow him, but had no idea what he’d say, and so he just watched him walk away.
He turned round, defeated, to be met with the sight of Kreacher standing behind him in the hallway, a pile of greying sheets falling from his arms, his jaw slack with shock.
“What?” Harry said irritably, his face growing hot.
The elf shook his head bemusedly. “Kreacher is no longer surprised by anything that is going on in this house. Though he was hoping that young Master Malfoy had better taste.”
Harry stepped around him and made his way back to the kitchen, determined to try and talk to Ron and maybe make himself feel a little less like a horrible person.
Hermione gave him a small smile when he came back in. “I’m just going to check on the potion,” she said, looking at Ron significantly. “It’s going to need some more aconite today.” She gave Harry’s arm a reassuring squeeze as she went past.
“I’m sorry about before,” Harry said feebly.
Ron glowered at him. “See, this is what I don’t get. You saw how he was earlier. You know what he’s been like for years. Don’t you remember that song he made up about me when I joined the Quidditch team? See, he has no reason for disliking me apart from the fact that I’m poor, and that my family doesn’t necessarily care about blood purity. That’s it. I’d done nothing to him, had I? And I thought you were supposed to be my best friend. Aside from everything else, how could you choose to be with someone who has made it his mission to make the people you supposedly care about feel like shit?”
“I don’t know,” Harry said miserably. “I never meant for it to happen. I still don’t really know how it did. I’m certainly not defending the things that Draco’s done in the past. It’s just that… so much of what he did was because of what his father told him. You know, Lucius always had it in for the Weasleys, and he passed the prejudice onto his son. Draco was a sheep. I’m not sure that he ever really had an independent thought until things started to go wrong for him.” Apart from his feelings for me, Harry thought, but he kept that to himself. “It’s like he’s a baby, almost. And I’ve watched him growing up over the past few months; I’ve watched him form his own opinions and learn how to consider things outside of the narrow box his family had put him in. And… and he’s really not a bad person. At least, he’s not now. There were always these strengths that he had, and now they’re being aimed in the right direction. He could have left me with the Death Eaters, but he didn’t. He talked his mum into letting me go as well, even though he knew that it would put her in danger. And he stood up to Bellatrix for me. I know that he still has a way to go, and that he has a lot to make up for, but… but something about him is so… Oh, I don’t know. It’s like losing his magic has made him just be a person. And I haven’t exactly treated him very well, but he’s put up with me. And he’s always been honest with me, which is more than I’ve done for him. Being with him makes me feel safe, and like I can escape for a little bit from all the horrible things that are going on. Just for a little bit.”
Ron made a face. “So you’re actually serious about this. You want to be with him.”
“I can’t believe you’re just going to trust him like that. I can’t believe you’re not even going to consider the possibility that he’s just manipulating you for reasons of his own. After everything he’s done, you’re risking everything just because he’s… just because you want him.”
Harry shifted uncomfortably.
“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me you were… you know,” Ron said abruptly, looking at Harry shiftily.
“Do you have a problem with it?” Harry felt suddenly defensive.
“Well… no. It’s just that we were supposed to be best friends, and you never told me.”
Ah. Harry sighed wearily. “I never told anyone. I mean, I liked girls as well, and when I got with Ginny, I thought that was it. There didn’t seem any point in telling anyone about what was, to be honest, something that kind of freaked me out a bit. And that was before I found out that the wizarding community doesn’t take very kindly to homosexual relationships.”
“Well, I don’t care!” Ron said stoutly. “I mean, I was surprised when I found out about you, and I hate the fact that you’ve chosen Malfoy, who’s clearly doing this for some horrible reasons of his own, but… but I would never have… you should have known I never would’ve…”
Somehow, seeing Ron hurt was worse than seeing anyone else hurt, simply because he always tried so hard to hide it. “I’m so sorry,” Harry said wretchedly. It seemed that he had done little else but apologising over the past few days, for the unfortunate fact that he had been caught up by various opposing feelings that he couldn’t help. Nevertheless, he knew that he had, in a way, betrayed Ron’s friendship, and he bitterly regretted it.
Ron looked up at him. “I know you are. I want to… I want to forgive you. I mean, I suppose I do. I’m not an idiot, you know. I suppose that gets lost when you compare me to Hermione or Malfoy, but I’m really not.”
“I know you’re not.”
“And I do get how you might have… I don’t know. I get you might need something other than…” He sighed, trying to articulate what he wanted to say. “I can see how Malfoy might make you think he could offer you something you need. I suppose. And I know that you didn’t set out to lie to us or make fools of us. But I can’t always be cold and logical about things. And… and I’m going to need some time. I hope that I’ll be able to feel as close mates with you as before at some point in the future. But I need some time to think, and get over this.” He couldn’t even look at Harry.
“I know,” Harry said, heartbroken. “I understand – you take all the time you need. And… and I hope we can be friends again soon. Your friendship is the most important thing to me, but… but I have to have something for myself as well.”
Ron nodded, staring at the table top, his eyes very bright. “I hope you don’t get too badly burnt, that’s all. All else aside, I… I really do.”
Harry left the kitchen, his chest tight. It was probably the closest he had ever come to baring his soul to Ron, and he couldn’t stand the thought that his relationship with Draco had ruined their friendship forever. He hoped that Ron would find it in himself to forget the pain Harry had caused him.
He went upstairs, thinking that he might go and see how Hermione was getting on. He had been helping her with the potion over the past week, reading complicated instructions to her while she stirred and added ingredients, trying to calm her when she started to panic that it wouldn’t come out right. They had also been conjecturing over where the remaining inanimate Horcrux, the diadem, might be. Harry was still convinced that it was at Hogwarts, but that alone wasn’t much help. There was vague talk of a return trip to the castle and trying to talk to one of the ghosts, but they had decided to see if the potion worked before doing anything definite.
Harry was actually climbing the second flight of stairs to the attic, when something made him turn round, head back along the landing, and open the door of his bedroom instead. “So you were right,” he said.
Draco pulled down the earphones he was wearing. “What?” His voice still had an icy edge to it, and Harry hesitated to go too near him just yet, even though closeness to Draco was exactly what he needed, scared as he was to trust the Slytherin, frightened as he was that Ron’s suspicions might yet be realised.
“I said, you were right. I have been a coward about… about what we’ve been doing. I’ve been scared about what people think, and I’ve been scared of admitting that I… that I find men attractive. You especially. I completely get why you’d be angry with me. I’m not ashamed of you, and there’s no reason for me to treat us like some sordid secret. For that I am sorry, and I can only put it down to… to not wanting any more pain. To fear of committing myself again, only to get hurt. Still, that’s my issue, and I shouldn’t have made you feel bad about it. But at the same time, I don’t think I was wrong to ask you to be a bit nicer to my friends. Ron pointed out, quite rightly, that he never did anything to make you hate him, and yet you have been persistently foul to him over the years. You say that you shouldn’t have to crawl for acceptance, but… but you have been the one in the wrong here. And if you really want to be a part of my life, you are going to have to make an effort with my friends, because it’s stuff like this that makes me hesitate. They are the closest thing to a family that I have. I think that if you make the effort, they will too eventually; they are decent people. I know that I’m thoughtless sometimes, and that I haven’t treated you as well as I should have, but… but there are things that you could do as well.”
Harry looked at Draco nervously, half expecting the blond to start yelling at him. But Draco didn’t. He turned to look out of the window, his brow slightly puckered, his eyes following the path of the rivulets of rainwater that trickled down the glass. The silence went on for ages, and Harry was starting to wonder whether he should say something else, when Draco breathed in deeply through his nose. “Touché,” he said. “Good point well made, Potter. You’re getting better at this. You may make the Wizengamot yet.”
“You’re admitting that I’ve actually won an argument?” Harry said a little incredulously.
Draco actually smiled. “I know. Will miracles never cease?”
Harry finally felt like he could approach the other boy without being stung. He crossed the space between them in two strides, hooked his fingers into the top of Draco’s trousers, and pulled him close. Draco’s eyes widened slightly in surprise, then he relaxed again, pressing his hips towards Harry’s a little. Harry teased him a bit, playfully avoiding his mouth, before finally kissing him hard. He loved how easy it was to handle Draco’s body, and how he responded with such pleasure to Harry’s touch. No, Ron was wrong – there was no way that Draco could fake this. He hated himself for even momentarily entertaining the suspicion. This, at least, was real. He loved how he could be rough with Draco, practically tear his clothes off, bite him and grip him and clasp him tightly. They tumbled onto the bed, laughing a little, struggling out of their remaining clothes. Harry rolled on top of his lover and held him still, pressing their bodies together, revelling in the feeling of Draco’s nakedness against his own. It was wonderful, mind-blowing really, to be so close to another person that they could be naked together like this. He wanted to breathe Draco in, taste his sweat, hold him so close that they merged into each other completely. He had a lover. It still seemed so unreal to Harry that he had an actual lover who desired him and would invite this kind of physical closeness. It drove him crazy. He kissed Draco’s chest, running his tongue over his hard little nipples, nuzzling the soft skin along his side. He couldn’t get enough of this intimacy; he couldn’t get enough of being able to touch another person like that, and be accepted. Draco was always so patient with him when he got like this. He would watch Harry with a faint smile playing on his lips, gently holding onto him, reassuring him that it was okay. There was such love in his expression that Harry had to look away.
“You’ll tell the others about us?” Draco whispered as Harry’s kisses reached his navel. “You’ll tell them that I’m your… hmm… that I’m your…”
“Yes,” Harry replied, his mouth exploring the silky flesh just below Draco’s hip bone. At that moment, he might have given the other boy anything he asked for. He wanted to explore Draco like he would an uncharted island. He wanted to claim every inch of his body, get to know it like he could never know Draco’s mind. He wanted to perfect the art of giving pleasure.
He was getting used to having Draco’s cock in his mouth. He was learning to change positions so that his jaw didn’t ache too much, and he was developing a good control over his gag reflex. He was getting good at listening to the sounds the other boy made, working out what gave him the most pleasure, using his tongue and his lips to maximise the sensations.
He loved the way Draco tasted, and the way he smelled of sweat and sex. He loved how Draco’s fingers clutched at the bed sheets, and how he would tense his stomach and thigh muscles when Harry did something particularly good. He wanted to shatter Draco’s reserve, make his head spin, make him feel so good that he forgot how Harry had let him down. He loved the faint glow that seemed to suffuse the room with strange light when they were together, and the way that the objects around them – was it really just his imagination? – trembled as if they too could feel what his lover was experiencing. It was as if the whole world was revelling in their union. He loved giving the other boy pleasure, and he loved how readily Draco submitted to this whim.
Because Harry hadn’t quite managed to submit to him. He had wanted to. There had been times in the night, when they had felt so close that everything outside their bed was forgotten, when they had been wrapped up in their duvet, wrapped up in each other, mouths pressed together, when Harry wanted nothing more than to give himself to Draco. Draco had given him exactly what he needed again and again, and Harry wanted to return the favour. He wanted to surrender himself to Draco, surrender his body, allow himself the strength to be vulnerable, and he could tell that Draco wanted it too. But it had never quite happened, because every time he was about to suggest it, Harry had always lost his nerve. He hadn’t quite been able to trust Draco enough, or he hadn’t been able to trust himself. Harry so often felt like he was losing control in their relationship, and he was afraid of losing the little that remained to him. And so he threw himself into giving as much satisfaction as he could to the other boy, prolonging and enhancing his pleasure, worshipping his body, feeling an elation that bordered on spiritual when Draco’s sighs turned into loud cries, the bed started to shake, and spasms shook his body as he came in Harry’s mouth.
The bed wobbled dangerously and collapsed. Harry sat up, flushed and disoriented, not able to work out what had happened.
Draco didn’t even seem to have noticed. “Harry… that was epic,” he sighed, eyes closed with bliss. “You are disturbingly good at that.”
“Draco, we broke the bed.”
Draco opened his eyes, then laughed incredulously. “Ha! I didn’t realise we were being that enthusiastic. The bloody thing must be ancient – ready to collapse at any moment. Don’t worry about it; you can do a Reparo on it in a minute. Come here…”
Harry fell back into Draco’s arms, but he was troubled nonetheless. He had been aware of strange things happening around them when they were intimate before. At first he had assumed it was him, but when he had performed wandless magic in the past it had been because he hadn’t been able to use his wand, and his powers had had to release themselves in other ways. And this was no longer the case. But if it wasn’t him, then… But that was impossible. Draco was a Squib, and he knew it. It would be horribly insensitive to even mention it as a possibility. It was best to just put it out of his mind, put it down to coincidence. It probably wasn’t important anyway.
If only the rest of the world would just melt away, Harry thought, almost desperately, in spite of the profound comfort of his situation. If only all that fear and anger and confusion would cease to exist, everything would be perfect. He had lost count of the number of times this had occurred to him over the past weeks. It was so much harder to accept that he had to go back to the other life when he was alone with Draco. Why did he always do this? He’d been like it ever since he was little, spoiling each stolen moment of happiness with the realisation that it would have to end. It made him feel panicky, heartbroken that the moment was slipping away, that the time could never be retrieved.
“What’s wrong?” Draco mumbled, dragging himself away from sleep.
“Nothing, it’s okay. I just don’t want to… have to get up tomorrow.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean.” Draco pulled him closer, pressing his lips to Harry’s forehead.
Harry tugged the duvet over their heads. This had become something of a nightly ritual for the two of them. They loved to be wrapped up together, bundled away from the world. Ginny had never really liked to cuddle – that had been the one thing that had bothered Harry in the happier days of their relationship. She would tolerate being held for five minutes at the most, but she was too flighty, too fidgety, and eventually she would wriggle away. Harry on the other hand, who had been deprived of affection his whole life, craved this basic physical intimacy and had felt hurt that it was denied him. He loved that Draco was so happy to be held, and didn’t laugh at Harry’s clinginess. He had been a little worried, in the earliest days of their relationship, that the Slytherin was simply humouring him, and he had refrained from crawling into his arms one night. The next moment, he had been aware of Draco slowly inching across the bed towards him. Harry had given in and pulled him close, at which he had felt the other boy relax with contentment before throwing a leg over Harry and snaking an arm about his neck. Harry realised then that Draco needed it too. Yes, he had parents who loved him, but Harry couldn’t imagine Lucius or Narcissa being terribly demonstrative. Perhaps he had Draco were more alike than he had ever imagined – two broken, affection-starved little boys, clinging to each other for comfort.
The intimacy and honesty of these moments was incredible for Harry, even though there was nothing especially sexual about what they were doing. He adored the feeling of his bare skin against Draco’s, of having another human being to hold onto. He felt safe, protected, content; the very idea of having to pull himself away from all this and go back to the world where everything was frightening, and where people were mad at him for something he hadn’t been able to control, was almost unbearable. Why did people want to deny him this? Didn’t they understand that he couldn’t be their Harry all the time? There was a chance that he might die soon…
“Shh…” Draco whispered, rubbing a hand soothingly over Harry’s back, almost as if he had read his thoughts. “Don’t worry about it. Sleep now…”
Harry pillowed his head on Draco’s shoulder, trusting him implicitly in that moment. Being with Draco was like flying a broom, or like the first time he had held his wand. It was simply the rightest thing he had ever known, and he hated the world for teaching him that it was wrong.
If you thought about eating, what it involved – all that chewing, swallowing, digesting – it was actually pretty gross. And when you were at a big table like this, where everyone was doing it and nobody was really talking, it was hard not to think about it. Harry looked back down at his own plate. He wasn’t sure that he wanted his potatoes any more.
It was strange to have the conversation so stilted when practically all of the Order was there, but he knew the reason for it was Draco’s presence. They would none of them speak freely around the Slytherin. Harry shifted uncomfortably. He knew that now, with everyone around him, would be the perfect time to carry out his promise to the blond and tell the rest of his friends about their relationship, but every time he tried, the words stuck in his throat. He sneaked a glance at Draco, silent and pensive beside him. It had been three days already since their conversation and, although nothing further had been said, Harry could feel the weight of expectation upon him.
“The chicken was excellent, Molly,” Lupin said in a voice that indicated his mind was very far away from what he had just eaten. Harry thought back to the uncomfortable scene earlier that day when Remus had arrived to tell them that his band of rebel werewolves were safely in hiding. Tonks, who had intended to dine with them, had abruptly made her excuses and left. Remus had followed her into the hallway, and they had all pretended not to hear their muffled argument, full of bitterness on Tonks’s part, contrition on Remus’s. They had pretended not to hear when she had started crying. Poor Tonks. Harry knew that he should at least partly feel sorry for Remus as well, but he hadn’t quite stopped being angry with him.
“How are things at Hogwarts, Minerva?” Arthur Weasley ventured.
McGonagall made a face. “You wouldn’t recognise it. Those damn Carrows are running the place. I suppose Severus can’t do anything to stop it, but it breaks my heart to see what’s happening, I would have left long ago if it wasn’t for the students. And my loyalty to Albus, of course.” She stopped herself abruptly, glancing at Draco. “It won’t be long before You Know Who has complete control,” she continued, swiftly recovering her poise. “And once he takes Hogwarts, there will be no stopping him. He’ll brainwash all those children, build up an army, kill the ones who don’t fit in.”
“He’s so lame,” Draco said unexpectedly, cutting into the tense silence. “I mean, what’s his deal with Hogwarts?”
“It was the first place he felt at home,” Harry explained, once more acutely aware of the similarities between the Dark Lord and himself. “As long as Dumbledore was alive, he couldn’t go back there. And it’s his home.”
“Well… he should get over it,” Draco said, inviting several disapproving glances from various Order members. “He should!” he continued, perversely enjoying everyone’s reactions. “He’s lame. Yes, I know, evil and powerful and criminally insane and whatnot, but underneath it all he’s just a big freak who’s decided to make everyone’s lives a misery because he has daddy issues. God, I fucking hate him. I mean, what’s the point of going back to your old school? Surely if you have that kind of power, you’d try to – I don’t know – release a personalised brand of fragrance, or crack America or something.” He took in the stony glances of the people around him. “Oh, I’m sorry, are macabre jokes off the menu?”
“Don’t mind us,” Ron said icily. “It’s just that some people take the threat of You Know Who seriously. Some people actually want to stop him.”
“And you think I don’t?” Draco replied, meeting Ron’s gaze evenly, suddenly serious. “He subjected me to months of physical and psychological torture. He tore my family apart. He has taken my magic, reducing me to… well, taking everything that made me proud of who I was. I hate the evil son-of-a-bitch, and I realise that I was an idiot ever to give him my support. It’s just that I have always preferred to fiddle while Rome burns, so to speak. Ugh, you bloody Gryffindors! You’re always so damn earnest about everything!”
Harry smiled in spite of himself. He could see Draco’s point. Horrible and serious as their circumstances were, he often had the feeling that he would feel so much better if he could just laugh. If he could laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of Voldemort’s motives; if he could call him a loser. It wouldn’t make the things Voldemort had done any less serious, and it wouldn’t even be disrespectful to the people who had lost their lives. Not really. It was more like the old theory of exorcising a demon through laughter. It would make him feel stronger, make him feel like even if Voldemort succeeded, he wouldn’t have really won. He wanted to come to Draco’s support, but he wasn’t sure that the others would ever understand. Not even Fred and George would really get it. That was what Draco had said to him right at the beginning, wasn’t it? You’re like me – a little bit twisted. Harry had argued strongly against it back then, and he still knew that he couldn’t be exactly like the Slytherin… but then he would never be exactly like the others, either. There would always be that darkness in him, that thing that set him apart.
“Draco, I was thinking,” Lupin began, looking at the Slytherin appraisingly. “Well, it’s something that we have all been wondering for some time.” He glanced round at the other Order members. “We know that Dumbledore wished to protect you, and we know that he hoped you would eventually come to see the truth about the Death Eaters. And it would seem that you have. We feel that you could help us. We were hoping that, if you were willing to talk to us about what you know… we might have another clue as to what they are planning.”
The tension in the room had risen palpably, and Harry found that he was holding his breath. He wished that Lupin wouldn’t do this. He understood why, and he knew they had all been talking about it for some time, but it wasn’t fair to put Draco in this position, when everyone was against him.
“There’s no point,” Draco said quietly. “You already know everything about the mission You Know Who had me on. I was never important enough to know anything else. That is, anything else that didn’t involve my father. And you’re fools if you think I’m going to tell you anything that will hurt my family. Yes, I hate You Know Who, but I am a Malfoy first and foremost, and nothing is going to make me betray that bond. And why the hell should I do anything to help you? You never wanted me here. When Harry and I were captured, you all immediately assumed that I had something to do with it. And now you want to talk to me because you’ve decided that I could be useful. Don’t get me wrong, I can understand why you have acted the way you have, and I can’t exactly blame you, but you’ll forgive me if I don’t play along like a good little boy.”
“Well, of course you’re not going to help,” Ron said bitterly. “Typical Draco Malfoy, always looking out for his own interests, not giving a damn about what everyone else is going through.”
“Ron, back off,” Harry said quietly.
“Oh, you’re defending him now, are you? Can’t you see through it? Can’t you see how selfish he’s being?”
“You can’t ask him to betray his family,” Harry replied patiently. “I know how you feel, but you just can’t.”
“You would say that,” Ron said bitterly. “You’ve become blind to who he really is, just because the two of you are—” Hermione nudged him sharply, but it was too late.
“What’s going on?” Molly Weasley said concernedly, glancing between the boys.
Harry cleared his throat. Now was as good a time as ever.
“It’s okay,” Draco said quietly. “You don’t have to.”
Harry reached out and gave the other boy’s hand a squeeze. “I want to. What Ron means is that since we were captured by the Death Eaters last month, Draco and I have been involved.”
Kingsley looked bemused. “Involved in what?”
Harry sighed. For intelligent, intuitive human beings, the Order of the Phoenix were being very slow off the mark today. “With each other. We’re together. You know, together. Lovers. In a… in a gay way.” Smooth, Potter.
Silence sprawled across the room. Harry couldn’t look at any of them, especially not Remus. “It wasn’t something I had planned,” he continued, “and I know that some of you won’t like it, but I’m happy. I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong, and I don’t think it’s anyone’s business to judge me for it.”
Draco squeezed Harry’s hand gently, and gave him a small smile of gratitude. At last, Harry felt as if he had done something right. The others didn’t even exist any more, and Harry didn’t give a damn about what they thought of him. He couldn’t imagine why he had been so scared of telling people in the first place. He was elated; the moment was crystalline in its perfection. Him and Draco, standing together in spite of everything, no matter what was going to happen in the future. Him and Draco.
In retrospect, Harry realised that he should have seen his happiness as a warning sign. Happiness like that could never be allowed to last for too long. At least, not for him. Because the next moment, Snape had burst into the kitchen.
Several Order members got up in confusion, not sure what was happening. Snape, however, only glanced at them grimly before turning his attention to Draco. “Mr Malfoy, I need a word with you.”
Draco got to his feet, paler than usual. “What is it?”
“I think you had better come through to the hallway.”
“No,” Draco said, his voice resolute, if a little shaky. “No, what is it. It’s about my parents, isn’t it?”
Snape looked at him for a moment, almost regretfully. “Last night, Malfoy Manor was taken. I arrived there this morning, having been summoned by the Dark Lord. They have ransacked the place. The chapel has been burnt to the ground. Draco… your parents were inside. They were trapped in there, and… and there is no sign that they were able to escape. I came here as fast as I could conceivably get away. I am sorry, Draco. I am very sorry for your loss.”
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15