croatoan6000 (croatoan6000) wrote in harrydraco,
croatoan6000
croatoan6000
harrydraco

Finite Incantatum - chapter 17


Title – Finite Incantatum

Author

croatoan6000

Rating – NC-17

Genre – Drama/Romance

Pairing – H/D

Chapter – 17

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 ‘With new chords I sing to you’. Done for fun, not profit!








Chapter 17: Novis Te Cantabo Chordis


“I am very sorry, Draco.” Snape’s voice echoed around the room.

Harry felt as if the bottom had dropped out of his stomach. Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy were dead. He realised that he had been praying that he would never have to hear this, not for his own sake but for Draco’s. It was too cruel to do this to him; it was too cruel to take every shred of hope from him like this.

Harry glanced at the other boy, ready to give his support in a moment, ready to do anything for him. Draco was horribly pale. He was staring at Snape as if the older man had physically struck him. Then his mouth twitched into a ghastly, forced smile. “Thank you for coming to tell me, Professor,” he said, his voice strained and not belonging to him. “I greatly appreciate it.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t get there sooner. Believe me, Draco, if I had known of the danger your parents were in—”

“How could you?” Draco interrupted in that alien voice. “I know that you did the best you could, Severus.” Harry saw that the other boy’s fists were clenched so tightly that his knuckles were white, so intent was he on retaining his self-control.

“We are all very sorry, Draco,” Arthur said awkwardly. “If there is anything that any of us can do to help you…”

Draco turned to look at him, his eyes so full of pain and contempt and venom that Harry shuddered in spite of himself. “I would have more respect for you if you had started cheering, Weasley,” he spat. “Don’t think me ignorant of all you have done to bring my father to justice over the years. You might as well start the celebrations now, all of you. And there is nothing that you could possibly do to help me. I would rather be hated than pitied.”

“Draco, nobody wants to celebrate,” Lupin said gravely. “We only want to—”

Draco held up a hand to silence him. He was physically shaking now. “Shut up. You could never… You will never know who they were. If you really want to help me, you can keep your hypocrisy to yourself and leave me alone! Now if you’ll excuse me, I… I have to go.” He shoved his chair out of the way and stormed out of the room.

Nobody knew what to say. Harry suspected that many Order members were feeling rather guilty because, noble as their intentions were, Draco was right. They were all hypocrites. Who amongst them hadn’t professed the hope that Lucius Malfoy would get his comeuppance? Okay, so they might not have actually wanted him to die, but that was not the point. They had no right to offer sympathy to Draco. And Draco, whatever his faults, was a great believer in honesty, no matter how brutal it might be. He was not going to be pitied by people who had hated his parents. Harry couldn’t believe that Narcissa was gone, Narcissa who had risked everything so that he and Draco might be there now. Why hadn’t they fled? Had they believed they would get away with it, or did they think that there was no point fleeing, that Voldemort would catch up with them eventually?

“I have to go to him,” Harry heard himself saying through the fog in his brain. “I have to make sure he’s okay.”

“Perhaps you should let him be by himself for a while, Harry,” Lupin said. “He’s grieving, and he—”

“No, I… he needs me. I need him to know that I… I have to go to him.”

Snape looked at him curiously as he passed, but Harry didn’t pay any attention. The others could fill the professor in on what had been going on between him and Draco; he had more important things to take care of now. He had to get to Draco. He had to let the Slytherin know that he wasn’t completely alone in the world, that Harry at least was genuinely sorry for what had happened. He wasn’t going to leave Draco on his own.

It was raining. Cold, late February drizzle was being thrown against the window panes. There was a draft coming in through the window, and Harry thought he should probably fix it later, before realising that it was really shallow to worry about things like that at such a time. Strange, how trivial things continued to exist when something awful had happened.

Draco was standing by the desk, his back to Harry.

“Draco?”

He didn’t seem to hear. Harry didn’t think he had ever seen anyone look so fragile. “Draco.”

Slowly, the other boy turned around. There was pure desperation in his eyes; he looked at Harry, not seeming to really recognise him, silently asking to be saved.

Harry didn’t know what to do. Words wouldn’t mean anything. Nothing he could say to Draco would help; nothing he could say would reflect how bad he felt. Draco took an unsteady step towards him, and Harry held out a hand. He wanted to hold the other boy, support him, show that he was on his side. He wanted Draco, who was so determined to hide his vulnerability, to feel that he could lean on Harry. He wanted to be trusted that much. The look in Draco’s eyes frightened him a little.

Draco grabbed hold of him roughly, and Harry was momentarily worried that the Slytherin was angry with him as well. Horrible to think that Draco thought that he too was glad about what had happened at Malfoy Manor. But then Draco kissed him. He kissed with such violence that Harry tasted blood in his mouth. The breath was knocked out of him, and he was so stupefied that he allowed himself to be shoved backwards towards the bed, not putting up any kind of a fight when Draco started to tear at his clothes. He couldn’t quite understand what was happening. He felt Draco trembling, felt how he was practically sobbing for air, yet his grip on Harry’s arms was so tight.

“Draco,” Harry gasped, starting to panic a little under the brutal assault of Draco’s mouth, Draco’s hands. “What are you…?”

“Please,” Draco whispered, the smallness of his voice belying his rough actions. “Please, Harry… Please… don’t…”

And Harry understood. He understood what was needed of him, and what Draco was trying to do, and it was okay. It was time to be strong for Draco, just like Draco had been strong for him all those times. He crushed his nerves down, letting his lover pull the rest of his clothes away, surrendering himself completely. Draco was hurting him, teeth and nails digging into his flesh, but that was okay too. Heart pounding, Harry reached across for the packet of condoms they kept in the bedside cabinet, realising that Draco was in no condition to think of these things. He barely had the presence of mind left to perform the Lubrication Charm before rough fingers were shoved inside him. It stung a little, and Harry forced himself to relax. He wasn’t going to let the other boy down now, not when he was so desperate and afraid.

Draco grabbed Harry’s legs and threw them over his shoulders. He was looking at Harry without really seeing him; his teeth were slightly bared, and there was that look in his eyes again, that look that made Harry thrill a little with fear. Then Draco thrust into him hard, and Harry was no longer able to think of anything else but that. His head was spinning; he couldn’t breathe. A searing pain burnt through him, and he clamped his lips together, stopping himself from crying out. Draco was pinning him to the bed, fingers gripping his shoulders. Harry closed his eyes, resisting the urge to panic. He breathed in deeply through his nose, telling his body to relax, to accept this new violation. He wanted to do this. He wanted to take this pain, take it away from Draco. He reached out for the other boy, stroked his face, whispered words of tenderness to him.

Draco buried his face in Harry’s neck, holding onto him as if his life depended on it, and Harry felt the sweat forming on his brow from the sheer effort of submission. “It’s okay,” he said,” his lips pressed to Draco’s cheek. “It’s all right, darling. Don’t stop…”

Draco came with a hoarse cry, almost a cry of pain, pushing into Harry as deep as he could, clinging to him as the convulsions slowly abated. He panted, shuddered in Harry’s arms, then burst into tears. Harry wrapped his limbs around the other boy, heartbroken to feel how Draco’s whole body shook with the sobs that were being ripped through him. He cried like a child, unselfconscious in his misery, without any of his customary restraint. Harry cradled Draco, trying his best not to move, because every time he did, the dull ache where the other boy had penetrated him turned into a sharp spike of pain. He hoped that too much damage hadn’t been done, but at the same time he didn’t really mind it. He had given Draco what he had needed.

At last, the passion of Draco’s grief abated a little, his sobs turned into choked hiccups, and he rested limply on Harry’s chest. Harry felt numb and a little shivery, which he supposed was shock. His head felt woozy, and he didn’t think he was capable of anything now except holding onto Draco.

Draco sniffed loudly and raised his head. His eyes were swollen from crying, and he looked like a scared, bewildered child. “Oh God,” he whispered. “Oh God, Harry, I’m so sorry. You really didn’t enjoy that at all, did you?”

“S’okay,” Harry mumbled, smiling up at Draco feebly.

Draco winced. “No, it’s not. Of course it’s not. I am so sorry; I’ve screwed everything up. I’d had it all planned out, you know, how it was going to be the first time I topped. I was going to light candles and play slushy music, and all that other romantic crap you like so much. It was going to be perfect, and now I’ve… and you were so gentle with me the first time I… and I’ve really hurt you, haven’t I?”

Draco looked like he was going to start crying again, so Harry made an effort to pull himself together a bit. “Draco, it’s okay. I wanted it. I wanted to… give you something. To help. Shh, don’t worry about it. Honestly, I’ve gone through a lot worse than that and lived to tell the tale.”

“But I wanted…”

“And we will. We’ll do it again, and it’ll all go exactly as you planned. This time doesn’t count. I promise. Just… please don’t feel bad about it. I really did want to do it, you know. It’s okay. Come here.”

Draco let himself be held, pulling the duvet up and wrapping it around both of them. They lay together in silence for a short while, listening to the faraway sounds of the house. Harry could feel his brain emptying – he knew that something horrible had happened, but he kept forgetting what it was. Then… Draco’s parents, killed in their own home by the monster they had aligned themselves with. Cold, beautiful Narcissa, who had known that this would happen but had saved them both anyway, was dead. And Lucius, whom Harry had hated, but who was Draco’s father nevertheless, who must have stood by his wife and stood by his home, refusing to run, until the bitter end.

He realised that Draco was weeping silently in his arms.

~*~


“Now, you mustn’t feel bad about it, Harry,” Sirius said gently. “There was nothing that you could have done to prevent it.”

Harry sighed wearily, sitting down beside his godfather on the cold beach. “I know that. It’s just… he’s suffered enough already. It’s not fair that he has to go through this as well. I want to help him, or… or offer him some comfort, but I can’t.”

“Yes, you can,” Sirius replied. “You already have. And you did a very good thing when you told the others about your relationship. I know you were scared, and I know that no one’s going to make it easy for you, but it will make things better. Especially for Draco. I only wish that I’d had the courage when I still had the chance.” He grimaced and looked out to sea, his eyes troubled.

Harry shifted nervously. “Sirius, why didn’t you tell me about you and Remus? Did you think I’d have a problem with it?”

“No, I… it wasn’t that. It’s just that you were still so young, and I didn’t want to give you anything else to deal with. Besides, we were so used by then to not telling people that it was extremely difficult. Believe me, I would have done it if I’d been able to stick around long enough.”

“It wouldn’t have been something I’d have to ‘deal with’,” Harry objected. “To be honest, it would have helped a lot with all the things I was going through and thought I had no one to talk to about.”

Sirius smiled ruefully. “Well, I know that now. But one of the disadvantages of being alive is that you never know what’s really going on inside other people’s heads. You’d be amazed by the amount of damage done by people just because they don’t understand each other.”

Harry nodded mutely. He’d learnt that lesson the hard way over the past few months.

“Don’t be angry with Remus,” Sirius said quietly.

Harry shook his head. “I know. But I just can’t understand how he could… how he could do that. I mean, I get that you were both afraid to come out. I don’t especially like it, but I can certainly see why. What I don’t get is how he could do that to Tonks. I mean, aren’t you angry with him? He just used her, because he was still too afraid to admit that it was you he needed. And he’s really hurt her. I… I never thought him capable of something like that.”Harry knew that he was being harsh, but he still felt resentful towards Lupin for shattering his illusions. For not being the one hero he had left.

“Harry, nobody is a true hero,” Sirius said, reading his thoughts. “Yes, Remus made a mistake, but he’s human. It doesn’t mean that he’s not a good man. And he wasn’t thinking clearly when he got involved with Tonks. Imagine what it was like for him, not feeling able to admit that he’d lost his lover, having to suffer heartbreak in the deepest silence. You cannot really blame him for seeking comfort in the arms of a sympathetic, kind person, who offered him love. I know I can’t. Yes, it was selfish, but don’t we all do selfish things? He needs friends now, more than ever before perhaps, and I cannot be there for him. Don’t shut him out. Tell him that I love him and always will, and that I’ll be waiting for him.”

Harry cleared his throat, blinking back the tears that blurred his vision.

“And don’t shut Draco out, either,” Sirius continued. “I told you, you need him if you are going to win this war.”

“How?” Harry said. “I mean, you keep telling me to look after Draco, that there’s strength in opposites or whatever, and… and of course I’m going to take care of him. But how can he possibly help? He never knew enough to be an informant. And as for anything else, well, his magic has been taken from him. What could he possibly do?”

Sirius laughed. “You can never just take anything on trust, can you? Very well. It’s a slight break of protocol, and it could get me into trouble, but I’ll be a bit more specific. You need to tell Draco about the Horcruxes. He can help you, even if he doesn’t realise it now. And the end. Harry, you’re going to need him at the end.”

The wind was picking up, and Harry struggled to hear Sirius’s last words. “But I can’t tell him about the Horcruxes!” He shouted. “I promised Dumbledore!”

“Dumbledore didn’t know everything!” Sirius replied. “Look, I… I have to go. I don’t know if I’ll be able to see you again, or… just trust me, okay? And trust yourself. You are stronger than you think, Harry.”

Harry wanted to question his godfather further, but a strong blast of wind knocked him to one side, and he dreamed no more.


~*~


Draco hardly spoke at all during the next few days. He had an aversion to being alone, and would follow Harry around silently, often just sitting quietly while Harry read everything he could find on the dark arts and defence magic. All of his anger at the other Order members seemed to have melted away, and he treated their awkward attempts at consolation with listless indifference. It was all Harry could do to get him to eat.

Hermione was being wonderful. She would often come and sit with them, discuss general things about the war, or try to engage Draco in discussions about books they had both read, which did actually work sometimes. Poor Ron didn’t know how to act. He was torn between his resentment for everything Draco had done over the years, and genuine sympathy for the boy. He would often accompany Hermione, sitting at her side awkwardly, shooting embarrassed glances at Draco. Harry knew what an effort he was making even to get that far, and he was unspeakably grateful.

Harry wished that there was something else he could do, because despite all his experience with bereavement, he felt helpless. He knew that only time would heal Draco’s pain, but he wished that he could at least get the other boy to talk about things. He had no idea whatsoever what Draco was thinking, and nothing Harry did seemed to get through to him. Harry had flirted with the idea of doing as Sirius had suggested and telling the other boy about the Horcruxes, but Draco hardly seemed to be processing anything that he was told, and Harry wasn’t sure that it would really mean anything to him. He wished he could crawl inside the Slytherin’s mind and find out who he really was, what he really wanted, what Harry could do for him besides hold him tightly throughout the nights they spent together, make love to him, let him know that he was desired, because the only time Draco came out of his stupor was when they were in bed. Harry hoped that it helped.

The Easter holidays came as quite a surprise to Harry. He had been so absorbed in Draco, and in his studies, that he hadn’t paid a great deal of attention to the passing of time. Charlie Weasley arrived, having successfully completed his second term of masquerading as Ron, full of grim tales about event at Hogwarts. He had managed to get Dean Thomas to safety before things had become too terrible for the Muggle borns, and he was helping several of Harry’s old friends to form some kind of resistance against the horrible new regime. Harry had been keen to hear what was going on, and had spent a lot of time with Ron and Hermione, going through ideas about how they might use their Hogwarts connections to look for the remaining Horcrux, but he was distracted. Draco had started to go off on his own a lot, and Harry wasn’t sure whether this was a good thing. The Slytherin still wasn’t talking.

“Why don’t you take him up a cup of tea?” Hermione suggested one Wednesday morning, having listened patiently to Harry’s concerns regarding Draco for the hundredth time. “Just let him know you’re thinking of him. That way, if he wants to talk to you he can, and if he doesn’t… well, at least he knows that you still care.”

Harry nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, I think I will. And then I promise I’ll come and help you with the potion.” He got up to put the kettle on somewhat distractedly. He couldn’t shake off the uncomfortable feeling that something was wrong, or that there was something important he had forgotten to do. It was probably just paranoia because of all the stress he’d been under lately, but it bothered him nonetheless.

“Harry? Harry!”

“Sorry, what did you say?”

Hermione gave him a stern look. “I was saying that you could always try and quiz Draco in a roundabout way if he knows of any other secret rooms at Hogwarts. I mean, he found out about the Room of Requirement, didn’t he? There might be some other place that maybe the Slytherins know of which hasn’t occurred to us. I know you don’t want to put him under any pressure!” she added, obviously seeing something in Harry’s expression that suggested he wasn’t keen on the idea.

“It’s not that…” In fact, Harry had been thinking again about the dream. He still hadn’t told his friends about what Sirius had said, mostly because he knew that they would hate the idea. He wasn’t sure that he liked it all that much himself. He knew that he should trust Sirius, but there was still something holding him back. It wasn’t just because he was still a little wary of the Slytherin’s intentions, he was also very conscious that by telling Draco about the Horcruxes, he would be directly contradicting Sirius’s other instructions, namely to keep Draco safe. The more involved the blond got in what was going on, the greater danger he would be in, and Harry couldn’t help feeling that it would be better to keep him in ignorance, in spite of what he might be able to do to help. “I’ll do what I can,” he told Hermione. “It’s still difficult to get him to talk about anything though, so I don’t know how much luck I’ll have.”

She looked up at him anxiously. “You are being careful, aren’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“I… I mean… just be careful. I don’t want you to get hurt. And I don’t want you to lose sight of what we’re doing here, what we’re fighting against, because of Draco. Just… be sure of what you’re doing.”

“I know,” Harry said, a little annoyed. As if he hadn’t been worrying about that. As if he’d ever be able to naively trust anyone completely after everything that had happened.

“I didn’t mean to… I’m just worried about you.”

Harry sighed, trying to keep his patience. “I know you are.”

“It’s just that… even though you don’t want to bother Draco when he’s grieving, which is very noble of you, this war is so much more important. Remus is right – we need to do whatever it takes to get the better of our enemy. And we still don’t know what Draco might be hiding.”

“I’m going to take him his tea,” Harry said abruptly, not wanting to hear any more. He got enough of that kind of thing from Ron. The redhead had gone back to The Burrow for the day. He hadn’t said anything, but Harry knew that he had gone to visit Ginny. Harry hadn’t really thought of Ginny in weeks; that whole thing felt like such a long time ago. And yet he’d genuinely thought that he was in love with her. Going out with Ginny had been so simple – she had fitted so neatly into his life; she had been so open; he had thought that he knew her. Yet she had deceived him. And if she could do that, what might Draco be able to do: Draco whom Harry couldn’t fathom for the life of him? And with everyone around him being so suspicious, how could he ever really trust the other boy, when…

Harry forced himself not to think about that. It made him feel guilty, like he should automatically have complete faith in Draco, allow himself to love him, because the other boy was suffering.

There was no answer when he knocked at the bedroom door, and when he looked in he saw that Draco was lying on his bed, headphones over his ears. He’d become obsessed with that bloody CD player; Harry no longer got a look in. He could hear the tinny sound of Blue Oyster Cult, and decided that he should have a word with Draco about the dangers of turning music up too loud.

Draco’s eyes were open, but he didn’t look up when Harry approached, or even when he set the hot mug down on the cabinet beside him. He lay curled up on his side in the foetal position, and it made Harry ache with protectiveness to see him. He lay down behind Draco and wrapped his arms around him. Draco sighed shakily and pulled the headphones away.

Harry pressed a kiss to the back of his neck. Draco’s hair smelt incredible. It was getting pretty long now, falling round his face in shaggy layers which Harry liked, but he felt like he should at least offer to arrange a trim. Not that Draco seemed especially bothered. Harry kissed him again. “I brought you some tea.”

Draco turned around to face him. He was too close to see properly, and Harry removed his glasses – trying to focus hurt his eyes. Draco started to kiss him softly, all over his face. Harry snaked a hand inside his shirt, running his hand over the smooth skin on Draco’s back. Draco pulled him closer, biting on his lips, moaning a little as Harry grabbed hold of his arse.

The tea, sitting forgotten on the table, slowly grew cold, but neither boy was in any position to care.

~*~


When Harry finally came downstairs again a couple of hours later, his promise to help Hermione with the potion completely forgotten, it was with the hopes of finally being able to talk with Lupin. The werewolf hadn’t been around since the night that Snape had come to the house, but Harry had heard that he was due back that evening. He wanted to apologise. He realised now that Sirius was right, and that Remus needed his sympathy, not his condemnation. After all, it wasn’t as if Harry had never made a mistake, or hurt someone because he was hurting himself.

He could hear voices coming from the Dining Room and, thinking that he might find Lupin, Harry went in. Instead, he found Ron and Charlie, returned from The Burrow and looking over the latest edition of The Quibbler, and with them was…

“Hello, Harry.” Ginny got to her feet, smiling at him nervously, her mouth a little crooked.

Harry just stared. Ginny. It was so strange, seeing her here like this, right in front of him. He had almost forgotten that she had even ever existed. He didn’t know what he was supposed to say. He could never be close to her again, he could never pull her into a brotherly hug like he had before they’d dated. But then again, it wasn’t as if he was still angry with her for what she had done. That hurt had faded, to be replaced with a hundred others, and it would seem petty to simulate a resentment he simply didn’t feel. So how should he behave? What could he possibly say to someone under those circumstances?

Ginny swallowed, looking to Ron for reassurance, almost helplessly. Harry saw him give her a small nod of encouragement. “Harry, can we talk?” she asked in a small voice.

“Sure,” Harry said, his own voice sounding a little too hearty. “Um… do you want to come through to the Living Room?”

She relaxed a little, her smile growing more assured, as if she had been scared that he would start yelling at her in front of everyone.

Harry led the way, his brain frantically trying to process what was happening and think of an appropriate way to deal with the situation. Ginny was here. Ginny was right behind him, following him into the Living Room, where she wanted to talk. Probably about what was going on with him and Draco, which Ron must have told her about by now. He couldn’t understand why she was being so calm about the whole thing. If their positions had been reversed, and he’d found out that she’s hooked up with, say, Pansy Parkinson, he would have been more than a little surprised. He stepped back to let her pass into the room, closing the door behind them.

Ginny was looking very pretty. She looked thinner than when he had last seen her, and like she’s had a few sleepless nights, but somehow this only added to the lovely translucency of her skin, and the delicacy of her bone structure. Harry was seized with a strange urge to touch her face, and he looked away awkwardly. “What did you want to talk about?” he asked. As if he couldn’t guess.

“I… I just wanted to come and see you. I wanted to apologise again for… well, for everything I did.”

Okay, so this was a pretty roundabout way of going about things. “It’s fine,” Harry said, wishing that she’d just get to the point and begin her interrogation. “I mean, don’t worry about it. I’m not mad any more, so… so you don’t have to worry.”

“Yes I do,” she replied, taking a step towards him. “Harry, what I did to you… there was no excuse. All I can say is that… that I made a stupid mistake because I was afraid. I was so lonely, and everything was falling apart, and the war was so frightening that I couldn’t see how we would ever stand a chance of winning it, and he was… there. And I know that I should’ve… It was all a horrible mistake. I loved you, and… and I hate myself for hurting you. Harry… I still love you.”

He looked up at her, confused. “Gin, I… What are you saying?”

She looked so fragile, standing there, looking at him like that. He could see her lips trembling. “Harry… could you ever… could you ever really forgive me? Enough to take me back? I’ve only ever wanted to be with you, and I know I’ll be better, now that I know how horrible it is to lose you. I swear I will never hurt you again, if you’d just give me another chance. I will wait for you, just like I promised. I’ll have more faith in you. I will spend the rest of my life making it up to you—”

As she continued to ramble on awkwardly, a horrible realisation crept over Harry. She didn’t know at all. Ron hadn’t told her. She hadn’t the slightest clue about what had been going on with Draco. How the hell was he going to tell her?

Ginny seemed to be encouraged by the fact that Harry wasn’t immediately rejecting her advances. “I’m so sorry for hurting you,” she whispered, her eyes wet with unshed tears. Not knowing what else to do, Harry let her approach him and tentatively slip her arms around his waist. He smelled her lovely flowery perfume, felt how soft her hair was against his cheek, and he remembered how simple it had felt to be with Ginny. He could give in now, give her what she wanted, and everything would be so easy. He could just get on with his life, try to win this war, without having to worry about…

And then he thought of Draco. He thought of the way that Draco always wrinkled his nose up whenever he bit into his food. He thought of how Draco always managed to slouch and look elegant at the same time. He thought of how Draco pulled his sleeves down over his hands when he was anxious about something. He thought of everything Draco had done for him, and how alone he was, and how much he needed Harry right now. And he knew that no matter how complicated it was, and in spite of the fact that he was still unsure of what the Slytherin was really thinking, and what he himself felt towards him, he couldn’t give that up. This thing with Draco had him in a chokehold. It was the star that Harry just had to follow, no matter where it led him.

“Ginny, don’t. I can’t do what you want. I’m sorry.”

She slowly pulled away from him, tearful and wretched. “I understand,” she whispered. “I mean, I get that you need time. I get that I still have a lot to make up for, and—”

“It’s not that,” Harry interrupted. “Ginny… I’m with someone else.”

She looked up at him, bewildered. “What? But… but Ron said… I mean, when have you even had the chance? Look, you don’t have to make excuses. If you need time, I’ll wait.”

“It’s not that. And Ron should have said something; I’m sorry he didn’t. I… I’m with Draco Malfoy. We’ve been together for a few weeks now.”

Ginny stared at him in shock, then laughed nervously. “Harry, don’t be stupid. Don’t joke about things like this.”

“I’m not joking.”

Ginny stared at him for a moment, trying to detect a glimmer of deception. When she couldn’t, she grew pale. “God, you’re really not joking, are you.” She turned away, and Harry wondered whether he should leave or try to explain to her how things had happened, but then she spun around again. “Harry… you can’t seriously be telling me that you’re in a relationship with Draco Malfoy? I mean, you hated him! Do you have any idea how crazy this sounds? I mean, can you even hear yourself? Is… is this all some kind of revenge on me? Did I really fuck you up so badly that you’re going to get involved with someone you hate, rather than… I mean… So… you’re suddenly gay now? You’re just going to… to give up on women altogether?” She stared at him accusingly, angrily brushing away the tear that ran down her cheek.

Harry hated that she was crying. And he was angry with Ron for letting this happen. Yes, he knew perfectly well how crazy it sounded, but he also knew how right it felt, and this gave him strength. “I’m sorry, Gin. I really am. And… and this has nothing to do with you. There’s no revenge. It didn’t happen overnight, and I’m not even sure how it did happen, but… but I don’t hate Draco. He’s not who he was, or… or I’ve got to know him better. We’ve gone through a lot together over the past months, and I guess… things just happened. Look, I… if you hadn’t done what you did, it wouldn’t have happened, and I would have been faithful to you until the end. But you did. And… and I know I never spoke about it, but I’ve known for some time that I’m… bisexual.”

She turned away from him again in distress.

“It wasn’t something I looked for, but Draco is what I need now. And he needs me, and there’s no way I’m going to let him down. It’s painful, and different, and scary, but it’s kind of wonderful as well. I know what you think, but… but I know what I’m doing. And I really am sorry. You’re right – what we had really was very special, and maybe if things had been different… but they’re not. And maybe neither of us were being entirely honest. You weren’t who I imagined, and I guess I’m not exactly who you thought I was either. Ginny, don’t cry. I’m sorry, I really am, but I can’t go back now. I can’t just forget.”

He tried to go to her, but she held up a hand to stop him. “Don’t,” she said tearfully. “I… I knew it was… I just thought that maybe you’d… Oh, I don’t know. It’s my own fault. I’ve screwed everything up, I know it. Just… if you ever, you know, change your mind… I’ll be there. If… if he hurts you… which he probably will, you realise that, don’t you? It’s not too late. I… Harry, don’t throw your life away because of some stupid infatuation. Draco isn’t right for you. Perhaps you need this now, but there will come a time when he’s going to let you down. He’s not going to leave his past behind completely. And when it happens, I’ll be there for you. I will.”

Harry wanted to argue with her, but he wasn’t sure how. Because there was a frightened, vulnerable part of him that wasn’t entirely sure she was unjustified. He sincerely hoped that she was wrong about Draco, but hope wasn’t enough to go on. He knew that there was the possibility that he might get hurt. Because even if he didn’t betray him, how could Draco possibly stay interested in someone like Harry? Draco was so smart and cultured, and once he realised that he could put his talents to good uses, and that his magic never really did define him, he would go really far. And what room would there be for Harry amid all that brilliance?

But at the same time, Harry knew that even if things with Draco did fall apart, he could never go back to Ginny. Their relationship had been made up of the last shreds of Harry’s childish innocence. He had idealised it, made it perfect and golden, and that could never be retrieved, even if he took Draco out of the equation. They could never go back. “I’m sorry Ginny,” he said, his voice breaking a little, hating the hurt he was causing. “I’m sorry, but it’s over.”

She wrung her hands, opened her mouth to voice another objection, but then lost her courage. She looked so lost and helpless that Harry wanted to go and comfort her, but he knew that he couldn’t. Finally she looked away, and made her way slowly past him, defeated and ghost-like, out of the room.

Harry sunk heavily into one of the moth-eaten armchairs, and buried his head in his hands. That had been horrible. When they had first broken up, Harry had fantasised about Ginny begging him to take her back, and imagined how he would tell her to go to hell. But things had changed since then; he had grown up. He knew that nothing was as simple as right and wrong. Ginny wasn’t a bad person, and she hadn’t meant to hurt him. And hurting her had been awful.

The next moment, Ron burst into the room. “What the hell did you say to her?” he said angrily. “She was crying her eyes out! She wouldn’t say anything, just told Charlie to take her home. What did you say?”

Harry felt some of his strength return. He couldn’t be angry with Ginny, but he had no problem feeling angry with Ron. “What the hell did you say?” he retorted. “Why didn’t you tell her about Draco?”

Ron looked away guiltily for a moment, but quickly rallied. “Well… you know… she’s been really upset about what she did. She wanted to make things work with you.”

“Yes,” Harry said icily. “The only problem is that I’m with Draco. What, you thought that I was just going to drop him as soon as I had the chance of getting back together with Ginny?”

Ron bit his lip. “Well… I mean, I know he’s gone through a lot, and I really do feel bad for him even though he’s a git… but… bloody hell, Harry! I just thought that if you saw that things could go back to normal, you’d… I mean, you and Ginny were great together, and I thought you’d be together forever, and we’d be brothers… And I know she made a mistake, but she’d never hurt you the way that Malfoy would. Harry, don’t be stupid – you know you can’t trust him. You know the things he’s done. I’m not going to watch you get hurt, who knows how badly, because he’s tricked you. And I won’t let us get torn apart. You me and Hermione – we were always so strong. And if you’re with Malfoy, things won’t be the same. He’s not like us, Harry! And… and maybe he’s not all bad, but he’s never going to change completely.”

Harry took a deep breath before answering. “I know Draco’s not perfect. And I know he’s different from us. But he’s not that different! If you’d just overcome your prejudices, both of you, you might see that. And I do appreciate your concern, but you have a fucked-up way of showing it. Do you realise how much worse it is for Ginny because you didn’t warn her? Because you encouraged her? And I don’t want to lose your friendship either, but if I do it won’t be because of me. And it won’t be because of anything Draco does, either. And if I get hurt… then that’s my own stupid fault. All I can do is follow what I feel, and if you can’t respect that… well, I’m very sorry.”

He left the room, too heartsick to say any more. He wanted Draco. If nothing else, he wanted the quiet comfort of being in the other boy’s presence. He wanted to be with the one person who was so very different from him, it was true, yet understood him completely. His heart ached from knowing that, no matter how he tried to explain it, that was something his friends would never get. He was about to go back upstairs, when he noticed that the door to the Morning Room was slightly ajar. He pushed it open, and was surprised to see Draco sitting on the floor beside the piano, surrounded by old music records.

Draco gave him a small smile, shaking back the hair which had fallen into his eyes. “Hello.”

Harry closed the door quietly, walked over to his lover, and sat down beside him. He was heartsick, but he didn’t know how to explain without telling the other boy something of the hurtful things the others had said. Fortunately, he didn’t need to say a word. Draco reached out and gently pulled him into an embrace.

“Thank you,” he whispered.

“For what?”

“For choosing me. For not going back to Ginny.”

Harry pulled back in surprise. “How did you—”

Draco looked a little embarrassed. “Well, I was passing the door, and… I mean, I happened to overhear…” He sighed. “Honestly? I was lurking. I saw that she was here, and I wanted to know, so I eavesdropped. Thank you for staying. I would have understood if you hadn’t.”

Harry laughed weakly, relieved that he wouldn’t have to talk about what had happened. “Of course I stayed. I mean, as far as I know, you’ve never cheated on me with a member of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team,” he said, trying to make light of what he had done. “The choice was obvious.”

Draco smiled. “Yeah, but I’ve done other stuff. I’ve tried to get you expelled. I’ve been foul to all your friends. I almost got Hagrid’s ghastly Hippogriff killed. There was that time I stamped on your nose… Wait, what the hell am I doing?” He grabbed hold of Harry, wrestling him to the ground beneath him, kissing him soundly. “Don’t change your mind! Ignore everything I just said – they were ravings! That stuff never happened, I have behaved like a perfect angel ever since we met, and I am a much better choice than that Weasley girl. You absolutely made the right decision.”

Harry laughed, delighted to see Draco fooling around again. “I know I did,” he said, kissing the blond back. “Who else would tend to my masochistic streak better than you?”

Draco chuckled softly, snugging down to rest his head on Harry’s shoulder. “Seriously; thank you. It meant a lot. And thanks for sticking up for me with Weasley as well.”

Harry frowned. “Yeah, well, he was in the wrong.”

“He just wants to protect you,” Draco said quietly. “And he doesn’t want to lose you.”

Harry looked down at him incredulously. “Seriously? You’re sticking up for Ron?”

Draco huffed a little laugh. “You were the one who told me I should be nicer towards him.” He sighed and sat up again, suddenly serious. “I found this,” he said, reaching for a record amongst the pile beside him and holding it out for Harry.

Harry read the title: The Pearl Fishers by Bizet. He’d never heard of it, but didn’t really want to admit to that.

“It was my mother’s favourite,” Draco continued quietly. “It was Muggle music though, so she couldn’t listen to it when Dad was around. Sometimes when he went out, she’d put in on, turn it up as loud as it would go, and sit in the conservatory, listening to it over and over.” He looked up at Harry shyly. “Can I play it to you? There’s this one aria she just loved, and… and I want you to hear it.”

Harry nodded, touched. He wished that he could be smarter. He never felt like he could articulate himself properly around Draco, and he was painfully concerned that the other boy secretly thought he was a bit stupid. He wanted to tell Draco what it meant, being allowed to share something so private, so special, but he was afraid that it would come out wrong.

Draco got up and carefully placed the record on the dusty old gramophone on the sideboard. He fiddled around with the needle, trying to find the right place, before standing back. Harry listened as the music began to play. It was an opera. Great, now Harry felt like even more of an idiot.

“The two men singing here are best friends,” Draco said. “They both fell in love with the same girl, and in this bit, they’re saying that they’re both going to give her up for the sake of their friendship. I always thought it was simply beautiful.”

Harry had to agree. He knew next to nothing about classical music, but it suddenly occurred to him that he didn’t really have to in order to appreciate it. He could feel himself getting choked up as he listened to the two voices undulating beautifully into a melting, soaring threnody. Draco’s mother’s favourite.

He saw that there were tears in Draco’s eyes, and he silently reached out for his hand, which Draco squeezed gratefully. They listened together in silent respect, as if they were at a wake, until the record stopped.

“I’m sorry I’ve been so distant,” Draco said his voice thick. “It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk to you, it’s just that I’ve had a lot of thinking to do since… since it happened, and I wasn’t sure what it was that I ought to do.” He looked at Harry with pained eyes. “Harry, I know now. I know what I want to do. Let me help you. Let me in. He’s killed my parents, and… and I have to do something. I don’t care about Slytherin and Gryffindor any more – I will fight with you to defeat him. I’ll do whatever it takes, and I know I’m pretty useless now, just… please let me try. Let me help.”

Not able to say anything, Harry pulled the other boy into a fierce hug. “Of course you can,” he whispered. This was what he had been waiting for. It was time. It was time to follow Sirius’s advice and trust Draco with what he knew. It was time to forget old misgivings. “Oh Draco,” he said, blinking back the tears, “there’s so much I have to tell you.”

 

Chapter 18"

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   Chapter 16



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