Slash Drama
Multiple Eras
Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire
Published: 01/15/2002
Updated: 06/11/2004
Words: 116,388
Chapters: 15
Hits: 191,616

Love Under Will


Story Summary:
In their 5th year, Harry and Draco choose to be with one another; but the story--and the battle-- is just beginning...

Chapter 12

Chapter Summary:
In their 5th year, Harry and Draco choose to be with one another; but the story--and the battle-- is just beginning...
Author's Note:
Info on points raised throughout the story will always be chapter-specific; look at the end of each chapter for notes as necessary.

Love Under Will

Part One: Transeamus

Chapter Twelve: What You Will

What is love? 'Tis not hereafter:
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What's to come is still unsure.
In delay there lies no plenty,
Then come kiss me sweet and twenty,
Youth's-a stuff will not endure.


"You know, it's hard enough walking blindfolded down an interminably long, narrow tunnel, bent over double with no idea where I'm going--without you constantly trying to grope me."

Harry's hands had sneaked for the tenth time in five minutes around Draco as he herded him through the passage. "I can't help it. I have to make sure you don't trip somehow," he teased, nuzzling Draco's neck.

"Yes--convenient, isn't it," smirked Draco, stopping to lean backwards into Harry's embrace as best he could, since he couldn't quite stand up without dirt from the low ceiling showering into his hair. Harry sighed happily, and Draco emitted a soft hum of contentment. "You know, wherever the hell we're at, we seem to be very isolated, and we're practically lying down anyway, so if you wanted to pick things up a bit..." Draco turned and slung an arm around Harry's waist, giving his backside a playful pinch.

"Nice argument, but I don't think so," Harry chuckled, placing a light kiss on Draco's neck. Draco's quiet gasped encouraged him to linger, and the kiss grew as he let his lips taste the soft skin at the hollow of Draco's throat. He pulled away at last, a little intoxicated by the warmth and the nearness of him.

"Tease," purred Draco. "Whatever happened to the holiday spirit of giving?" With that he took over Harry's mouth, forcing his own against it impatiently. Harry shivered and kissed back eagerly, the destination momentarily forgotten.

"I can only wait so long, you know," Draco muttered against Harry's lips.

"Relax," Harry responded, with a smirk he was glad Draco couldn't see. "It's not far now. Just around a bend to your left and then..."

"And then?"

"And then you're going to get really dirty."

"Of course I am, Harry."

"Not that kind of dirty."

"Oh. Lovely. I'm covered in mud and dirt already and you're telling me there's more? What's next, a live Nativity scene where we get to dress up like cattle and roll around in the straw? Where are you taking me?"

Harry laughed. "It's not a Nativity scene, I can guarantee you that."

"Good. As you see, I'm not really in the holiest of moods anyway."

Harry started, then felt himself blush as a grin stole over him despite his best efforts.

"Turns you on, doesn't it? I can feel you staring, you know."

"Oh, shut up. Look out--tree root."

"Oh, marvelous. You just had to blindfold me!" Draco said, trying to sound miffed even though Harry knew he was enjoying himself. He was the only person Harry knew who could somehow manage to appear elegant even as he was trying not to stumble. "I'm sure I don't need to remind you that this had better be worth it."

"Trust me," said Harry, telling himself that this would be perfect, that he had worked too hard on it for it to be anything less.

And he had. He'd stolen away hours earlier, that day, and every day before during the week, to make sure he had everything just right. It had taken him ages to plan this night. The hardest part had been figuring out how to sneak away for the evening without all of Gryffindor figuring out that he was up to something. At the last minute he'd lied to Ron, saying that he was meeting Sirius. Ron had been put off by the fact that Harry had waited till the last minute to tell him and hadn't invited him along ("I could've given him his present!"), but after a sufficient amount of grumbling he had agreed to keep quiet.

What Harry hadn't told Ron was that he wasn't planning on being there in the morning either.

He still wasn't quite sure how he was going to explain that one.

But at the moment, with Draco snug in his arms, he didn't really care.

"All right... it's just up ahead," he said as the end of the tunnel came into view. The passageway was rising, and they could finally stand up straight.

"Harry, where are we?"

"You'll know soon enough. Er... sorry... be careful--it really is filthy...." Harry glanced a little nervously at Draco, suddenly seized with a pang of doubt--it was hardly like the Slytherin to enjoy tromping around in dirt, and the rooms Harry was about to lead him through were nothing if not covered in it.

Draco, however, was pushing through to the end of the tunnel, evidently curious. "It's okay," he said. "I don't really mind it all that much. Of course, if you tell anyone that I'll kill you." Harry laughed and followed him apprehensively. When he reached the opening at the end of the passage Draco felt it out, then forged ahead into the room beyond.

During the preparation for this evening Harry had quickly given up the idea of trying to spruce up the entire building, but now, just for a moment, he regretted it; even with the candlelight illuminating the corridors and his knowledge of the comfort awaiting them upstairs, the sight of the demolished furniture and the dust-covered hallways was jarring. Although Draco couldn't see it, he could undoubtedly smell the mustiness. Harry had aired out the place as best he could, but the odor of disuse remained; he just hoped it wasn't too overpowering.

Draco was assessing everything without a word, but if he was turned off by what he sensed, he didn't show it. "We're in a house?" he asked uncertainly.

"Sort of. Upstairs next," said Harry, leading him over to the ramshackle staircase across the room. They mounted the creaking stairs one at a time, and as the cold winter drafts swept around their feet Harry congratulated himself on remembering to use a Heating Charm on the upstairs level. The warmth met them as they reached the landing.

"Where to?" asked Draco once he had effortlessly maneuvered his way to the top.

"Your right. Go to the end of the hallway."

The candlelight flickered invitingly over the hall where Harry had levitated a row of lanterns earlier. A thrill of anticipation ran through him as Draco, blindfold notwithstanding, unhesitatingly walked the length of the corridor, pausing instinctively before the closed door at the end. "Is this it?"

"Yes." Harry moved around him, opened the door and stood in the entryway beside him. "You can take that off now."

"Bloody finally!" The handkerchief was unceremoniously yanked off, and Draco wiped a glaze of sweat from his forehead. "Why all the secrecy?" he asked--but his voice faded as he took in their surroundings.

The room before them was neat and clean and ablaze with light. Firewood crackled cozily on the hearth, which had been enchanted to produce cheerful red and green flames, and the smell of evergreen wafted through the air. A tiny Christmas tree stood on a table in the corner, decorated with tiny white lights and crowned by a tiny replica of a golden Snitch.

Draco was staring. He stared for so long Harry started to get nervous. "I hope you like it," he managed. Oh, God, what if I did it all wrong? What if I've embarrassed him, what if he doesn't want--

"Harry," Draco breathed, and Harry's anxiety transformed to immediate exhilaration at the tone of his voice. "It's--it's a bed," he said, staring at the four-poster bed in the middle of the room.

"You wanted to wake up with me," Harry replied. He had bought cream-colored silk sheets specially for the occasion. Huge pillows lay fluffed up at the head of the bed. In the center, Harry had placed Draco's Christmas present, wrapped in plain white paper and graced with a silver ribbon.

Draco tore his gaze away from the bedroom to look at him. His eyes were full of emotion Harry had never seen in him before, and it instantly turned his insides to jelly.

He appeared to struggle for words, opening his mouth to speak, then discarding whatever he was about to say. Eventually he settled on, "Thank you," and he said it with such force and feeling the words were like an embrace all on their own.

Harry's heart was fluttering crazily. Draco laced his fingers through Harry's with one hand and brushed his cheek with the other. Harry, a bit lightheaded, pointedly looked above to the doorframe over their heads. Draco followed his glance upwards.


"Merry Christmas," said Harry.

Draco smiled.

In all of his life, in all of the times Harry had seen people being kissed under the mistletoe, had seen their cheeks flushed from exhilaration and from the winter cold, he had never imagined that the moment itself could actually be a little piece of Christmas all by itself--something perfect and complete and almost too sweet. But he had never before had someone like Draco Malfoy in his arms, and he had never before been kissed like this, as though the need to kiss him were more desperate than the need to breathe, more pressing than the deepest desire of his heart.

"Thank you," Draco whispered again when he finally relinquished Harry's lips, keeping his arms wrapped tightly around him. Harry knew his eyes contained the same happiness he saw in Draco's. The moment was too deep for anything but silence, and they remained under the mistletoe in each other's arms, alternating slow kisses with deep sighs in an embrace that was everything Harry had ever known of bliss.

At length Draco moved forward into the room, taking Harry with him; his arms were still so tightly locked around him that Harry barely had room to breathe. "You got us a bedroom for Christmas," he said again, making an unusual show of not hiding his delight.

Harry grinned. "So you like it?"

"It's perfect." Harry's grin got bigger. Draco inspected the room. "So where the hell are we? Is this the Shrieking Shack?"

"I figured you'd guess."

Draco moved to a windowpane that Harry hadn't quite managed to scrub free of grunge and attempted to look outside. "Only because the tunnel was so long and it was so isolated. You can get here from Hogwarts?"

"Yeah, but I can't tell you which tunnel you were in," Harry said. "The entrance is dangerous and if you knew you might get hurt."

"And I thought the blindfold was just to turn me on." Draco smirked, but he was eyeing his surroundings shrewdly. "It's not haunted, then?--except by the disembodied head of Harry Potter, that is..."

Harry laughed. "God, I'll never forget the look on your face."

"Oh, come off it. You were just as surprised as I was, but you're always such a prat about it," Draco said indignantly, even while he nestled his head against Harry's shoulder. "Of course, if I'd've known then what I know now, we could have had fun with that whole mud-flinging thing."

"I don't--mud? Ew!"

Draco laughed. "How'd you know about this place?"

"Someday I'll tell you the whole story."

"Does it involve sex? I'm sure they don't call it the Shrieking Shack for no reason..."

Harry had to laugh. "If it does, Sirius has been hiding an awful lot from me," he smirked.

Draco blinked. "Sirius? What's he got to do with it?" but Harry's look of vague discomfort made him smile, "Oh, all right. Keep your secrets." He placed a string of kisses along the nape of Harry's neck that instantly sent all discomfort far, far away. "I have other ways of making you talk..."

Harry started to say something but it came out as a sigh of pleasure.

"...And making you moan," Draco continued, feathering kisses over Harry's chin and cheek.


"Mmmm. You taste like nutmeg, did you know?"

"Must be the eggnog..."

Naughtily, into Harry's ear: "I like it..."

"You smell like cinnamon and... and you taste like apple cider..."

"Do you even realize how sappy we sound right now?"

"Do you even realize how much I don't care?" Harry murmured.

"God... how do you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Sound seductive without even trying."

"Must be the company I'm in," Harry smirked. Draco arched an eyebrow and struck an elegantly suave pose. "On the other hand," Harry laughed, "maybe not."

Draco growled, and Harry cut him off with an insistent kiss. A flurry of movement followed, and Harry guided Draco toward the bed, toying with the buttons on his shirt. "Aren't you going to open your present first?" Draco murmured. His imitation of coyness wasn't fooling anyone.

Harry blinked at him. "I was!"

"Not that present, Hairball."

Harry opened his mouth and closed it again, supremely indignant. Draco made the mistake of sniggering at him, only to be promptly assaulted. They fell together onto the bed and Harry draped himself over Draco, groping him half-earnestly, half-playfully while he kissed Draco everywhere he could reach. He never got over the comfort of Draco's arms; the more familiar he grew with Draco's body, the more amazed he became at how much every embrace seemed like a homecoming.

Draco stretched himself out underneath him. "Mmmmm..." he purred. "I can't tell which feels better, you or the bed."

"You'll soon find out." Harry nipped at the line of his jaw.

Draco chuckled softly. "My, my, aren't we in a hurry..."


A grin. "Nope!"


"Of course, I am lying on top of your Christmas present..."

"You are?"

A nod.

"But--where is it?"

"Wouldn't you like to know."

Harry sat up and pulled Draco with him, giving his hair a good muss. "You just don't want to put out." Wryly: "Headache?"

A smirk. "Hardly. And you know I hate it when you do that!"

"What, this?" Harry tousled Draco's silken hair even more irreverently. "You love it when I do that, Draco."

"No, I don't..."

Harry grasped the roots of his hair and gave them a gentle tug.

Draco gasped. Sullenly: "Oh, hell, maybe I do..."

"I feel like turning you inside-out," growled Harry, flicking his tongue over Draco's neck.

"That had better be a promise, Potter..."

"Only one way to find out--god, you taste nice..."

Draco reached a hand in his robes while Harry licked and nibbled and generally treated Draco's earlobe as if it were his dessert, and fumbled around till he found what he'd been searching for. He pulled it out, muttered an Engorgement charm, and smiled in satisfaction as the present returned to its original size. "Much better. Shall I put it under the tree so we can do the thing properly or should we just open them in bed?"

"Before sex or after sex?"

"Or in between?"

"How about we open one now, one later, then--"

"Or we could shag now, and then we could shag again, and then--"

"I like that idea."

"Or..." Draco stopped Harry in mid-smooch and placed a finger on his nose. "Or we could do this right," he said earnestly.

Harry smiled. "You mean, have Christmas together and not just ordinary shacking up?"

Draco sniffed. "Hmph. I don't do ordinary. And you certainly don't, or you wouldn't be doing me."

"You know, you're charming without having to be a snob about it."

"Yeah, well--you're charming when you're not being a prat."

"I thought you said I was always a prat."

"You are." A laugh. "But you're a damn sexy prat..."

Harry blushed.

"It's probably just the turtleneck," Draco continued, winking. Then, with an alluring pout: "Although I'm the one who should be wearing green."

"You just say that 'cause you're a Slytherin. You don't see me complaining about you wearing red."

"You're just jealous because your house colors look better on me."

"Oh, and I don't look good in green?" Harry retorted, a little proudly, knowing full well he looked, for lack of a better word, yummy. For once he'd actually been the one toiling away in front of the mirror, and he didn't think the results were at all disappointing.

"Let's just say there's a reason you weren't sorted into Slytherin," Draco answered with a wicked grin.

Harry tried to hit him but Draco deftly caught his arm and kissed the underside of his wrist, provoking a light moan from Harry, who wrapped his other arm around Draco's waist with a contented sigh. "It brings out your eyes, though," Draco said thoughtfully, trailing his index finger over Harry's eyelashes and following it with a light kiss. "What's your favorite color, Harry?"

"Gold," Harry replied after a pause. "Yours?"

"Can't you guess?" Draco answered softly. Then, as if realizing that he had been momentarily mesmerized by the study of Harry's face, he scoffed, "Look at us, look at our outfits. Red and green. Just like Christmas. We might as well be wearing little pointy hats and elf ears."

"Gryffs and Slyths," Harry smiled. "Perfect complements."

For the tiniest of moments, Draco's gaze faltered. "Perfect complements," he echoed.

His voice took Harry aback. Draco never talked about them; everything was conjecture: looks, kisses, touches, smiles. He leaned in to kiss Draco, murmuring his name as their lips met. Draco laced his fingers through his hair and pulled him close. Harry closed his eyes, relishing the softness of Draco's lips, the invasive heat and rhythm of his tongue against Harry's. Steadily the kiss grew, until they were moaning softly into each other's mouths, and a burning need to look into Draco's eyes caused Harry to break away a bit dazedly.

The unabashed tenderness he saw on Draco's face left Harry a little shell-shocked. Draco looked torn for a moment, as if he might speak, but instead he only whispered, "I think I want you to open your present now." He kissed Harry again, then added, "If we wait any longer I might get nervous."

Harry smiled. "Since when do you get nervous about anything?"

"Since you."

Harry's eyes widened. "You don't have to get nervous about this," he answered gently, running his hand over Draco's cheek. "I'm a sure thing."

"Even you know that's not true," Draco replied wryly. Before Harry could protest, he added, "I have the feeling that if you wanted a sure thing in your life, you would never have chosen me."

Harry couldn't read his tone of voice, but he said firmly, "I would have chosen you no matter what."

There was a moment of surprised silence, followed by the quiet response, "Open your present."

It wasn't a new sensation for Harry to be unable to read Draco's thoughts--he'd spent five years trying and failing to do just that; he ought to be used to it by now. But tonight it seemed Draco, not for the first time, was trying to remove the barrier between things spoken and things unsaid--without actually having to come right out and say what he felt. It was a scary thought, and it wasn't what Harry wanted to dwell on in this moment, no matter how serious Draco's intentions might have been under his veneer of holiday cheer. He shook it off and reached for the package.

"Nice wrapping job," he said. "I can never get my corners to look this good."

"I used magic. What, you mean you did it by hand?" Draco glanced behind him and picked up his present from Harry for the first time. "But how did you get it to stay folded?--and without ribbon, too..."

It hit Harry that the otherwise very knowledgeable Slytherin knew nothing about Sellotape. Now that he thought about it, the only one who ever used tape instead of ribbon to wrap his presents was Hermione.

Draco had peeled off a sliver from one corner of the package and was inspecting it with curiosity. When it got stuck to his finger, his eyes widened and he began trying to shake it off with such innocent irritation that Harry had to laugh. "This is like Spellotape--but more stubborn!" Harry grasped his hand, removed the offending strip of adhesive, and smiled.

"It's called Sellotape," he informed Draco.

"Not bad for a Muggle invention. Although, predictably, annoying as hell."

Harry laughed. "Voldemort could probably take over the world with that stuff." Harry looked down at the package, wrapped unpretentiously in red and topped with a gold ribbon. He smiled. For all Draco tried to be an intolerant git, Harry knew better; no one who was truly as insensitive as he wanted to appear would have wrapped a present in the colors of the Hogwarts house he detested. When his eyes met Draco's again they were full of light. "I like it already."

"Just open it," said Draco, and this time he really did sound nervous.

Harry had labored over what to get Draco for Christmas; he'd been tempted to get him a bunch of different things, but in the end he'd opted for simplicity, figuring that one good present would say more than a lot of little gifts. Now he was glad; Draco had apparently done the same thing, and Harry already felt self-conscious opening just one package.

It was obvious from the weight and shape of the solid square in his hands that Draco had gotten him a book of some kind. Harry didn't really like to read (although he did own a number of Quidditch texts), but he doubted Draco could get him a book he wouldn't enjoy. He looked up at Draco in surprise. "Yes, it's a book," Draco said. "Go on--it's not like I transfigured into Granger and got you a copy of Hogwarts: A History."

Harry smiled, undid the ribbon, and found himself staring at a leather-bound book, the face down. On the back was the Hogwarts seal. He turned the book over on its spine, where, embossed with gold lettering across its mahogany-tinted surface, the year "1978" stood out plainly.

Turning the book over, Harry blinked in confusion for a moment longer--and then with a gasp he opened the cover. He sat staring at the various signatures scattered over the first two pages in still-clear ink.

"Oh my god," was all he could whisper. He didn't move. He couldn't move.

It was his mother's Hogwarts journal.

He sat staring at the frontispiece, where the teenager who had grown up to be his mother had written 'Property of Lily Evans' at the top--and then, with an animated smiley face enclosed in a heart, '(soon to be Lily Evans Potter)' underneath it. Below, the page was littered with notes from members of the Hogwarts graduating class of 1978. They were all names he recognized: Frank Longbottom, Remus Lupin, Amos Diggory--and one signature that made his heart sink: Peter Pettigrew.

The book began to tremble uncontrollably in his hands. Part of him wanted to close his eyes before he read any more. Part of him longed to shut it and never open it again, the same way he wanted to shut out everything he had lost. And still another part of him felt as if he were seeing home for the very first time.

Lining the very bottom of the page was a brief note, the handwriting a confident scrawl. My Lily, it read. No flower ever blossomed fairer than you in my arms. Love always, Your James.

Harry's heart lodged in his throat. He looked up at Draco, too shaken to speak, feeling more emotions than he could hope to articulate. Draco met his gaze and immediately took Harry in his arms. Harry closed his eyes and sank against him. Draco held him, gripping him tightly, reassuring him without words. Harry had never come so close to crying; not even when the emptiness and ache of Cedric's death had made even the act of breathing a near-impossibility. Now, the paradox consumed him whole: the memory of his parents' love being offered to him by the one person who had made hate as much of a ritual as desire. Draco was holding everything Harry was, wanted, or ever could be in his arms, pouring a lifetime's worth of comfort into one embrace, as if he were trying to erase years of hurt.

No one had ever held him this way; and Harry didn't want to let go. He couldn't let go. He clutched Draco and rested his head on his shoulder, against soft silver strands of hair, sobbing silently in emotion he didn't know what to do with. While Draco held him he grappled with stark naked vulnerability, gradually accepting that this was what he wanted: to trust, to let himself go--and to let Draco see him letting go. He wanted Draco to see him, not The Boy Who Lived. He didn't know if anyone ever really had before, not like this--not without the hidden expectation that he would get over whatever he felt now and go on to save the world later on. Draco didn't care. Draco didn't care about the world--just about him.

Deliberately, he brought his lips to Draco's, just barely brushing against them at first, too overwhelmed by what he felt to do more. Draco's response was hesitant at first, but the more Harry coaxed his lips the more he relaxed, until finally Harry felt him acquiesce and tilt his head back to receive Harry's kisses. Harry took Draco's face in his hands, trembling with every kiss, wanting to give himself up to Draco completely; become a pulse inside a pulse, a breath within a breath. To lose himself in this warmth, in this calm, in the newest feeling of all:


A silent eternity later, Harry released Draco's lips. Draco kept his eyes closed for half a moment longer than necessary.

"I..." he said, and then his lips fell closed again, and he just looked at Harry. "I wasn't sure if it was a good idea," he said when he finally spoke again. His voice was a whisper of silk, uncertain and thin. "But I wanted to be the one to give it to you."

Harry responded by picking up the journal and caressing its pages gently. "It's perfect," he said softly, not meeting Draco's eyes because his own were riveted to his mother's handwriting. "It's incredible. But where... how?"

It was Draco's turn to avert his eyes. "Do you mind if I don't tell you that just now, Harry?"

Harry took a deep breath and shook his head. "No. I trust you."

Draco relaxed visibly. His arms were still laced protectively around Harry.

"Thank you," Harry gulped, blinking furiously. Draco leaned forward, took Harry's face in his hand, and swept his lips over Harry's cheek. Harry closed his eyes. "Thank you," he whispered again. Draco's fingertips trailed over his skin while Harry's fingers traced the edges of the book, feeling the cover, the pages inside, slightly crinkled from age and disuse.

Without opening his eyes, still savoring Draco's touch, he shut the journal and slid it gently to one side of them, out of the way.

"You don't want to look at it?" Draco asked him, a note of puzzlement lacing his voice.

Harry's eyes fluttered open and he looked back into Draco's face.

"Not just now," Harry replied. "I want to look at you."

Slowly Harry moved forward, his eyes fastened to Draco's own while he undid the buttons of Draco's robes, and then the buttons of the burgundy shirt beneath them. Draco's chest seemed unusually pale underneath the dark colors, and unusually lustrous under the glare of the dancing light around them. He was sitting still, not moving while Harry ran his hands over and under his garments, as if he wasn't yet quite sure what to make of Harry's sudden wish to see him unclothed. Harry didn't know what he wanted exactly--maybe it was a wish to see Draco as exposed as he felt himself; but as the other boy's smooth skin met the light, he devoured him with his gaze, not caring how uncomfortable it may have made Draco to be stared at like a work of art.

Draco was a work of art. All smooth curves meeting straight sharp lines in unexpected, defiant angles; hot veins coursing through hard muscle, toned flesh stretched over a thin frame; symmetry of form so perfect it was almost musical, crowned by stormy, fiercely unrevealing eyes, equally perfect in their dissonance--eyes that flickered with the golden reflection of the candlelight around them. Even the pallor of his skin was a composition of color: Harry had never seen so many shades of white.

He looked until his heart could hold no more of Draco without bursting, then looked away and back again to find Draco gazing at him.

It was a different gaze. Harry had never seen anything approaching it on Draco's face. The self-consciousness of being exposed for Harry's approval had vanished. This look was completely new, startling in its honesty. Harry couldn't comprehend what was behind it at first. Fear, submission, resignation, were all there, but the prevalent emotion was too powerful, too elusive to study. It knocked Harry's breath out of him before he knew what had happened, and then he understood: Draco was answering every question Harry had never asked of him. Pain and acceptance and inevitability coursed through his gaze as he stared back at Harry--understanding, longing, and even need, stark in his eyes.

He moved to slide his hands over Draco's waist, and felt the other boy shiver as his skin brushed the warmth of Harry's body. He leaned in to press his lips against Draco's shoulder, but Draco stopped him with a whisper.

"Lie down, Harry."

Harry looked up and blinked.

Draco was trembling.

Not one to choose the wrong time to ask questions, Harry lay down.

Draco moved their presents, one unwrapped, the other still in its packaging, to the bed stand, and in one movement knelt over Harry's still-clothed body, running a hand delicately over his cheekbone.

He looked at Harry, and Harry could barely breathe.

"Close your eyes. Keep them closed."

Harry drank in the sight of him, closed his eyes, and felt as if he were falling into a blanket of trust.

He felt Draco's fingers brushing over his arm, moving slowly over his wrist until they found his own.

They locked their hands together and did not let go.

Draco's other arm moved under Harry's back; with his eyes still closed, Harry arched and wrapped his arm around Draco's waist, to pull him down and hold him to him as tightly as he could. Harry knew instinctively that Draco had closed his eyes too.

Draco stilled against him, his head buried in the curve of Harry's neck. For a long moment they only lay in each other's arms, until Draco's breathing became steady and slow, aligned with his own; he could feel their chests connecting as they exhaled; could feel the pulse beneath Draco's thumb throbbing against Harry's own.

And then they began: the kisses.

Deep, slow kisses over Harry's jawbone and chin, lining his neck, claiming the crevice between his shoulder blades.

Kisses so light, so fleeting, he hardly knew if they were there or merely imagined.

Kisses so perfectly paced, so even and focused, they controlled Harry, teaching his body to react to their steady, unhurried tempo with restraint he never knew could feel so good.

Kisses that inched over his body, keeping him preoccupied with where they might next land, focused on each breath ghosting over skin, each slow slide of fabric against his body, on the warmth of Draco's closeness, until finally he felt the dizzying completion of full contact, of skin on skin from his shoulders to his feet, warm and welcoming and whole.

Kisses that kept lifting him up, out of himself until he was breathless from the height.


Kisses that made him tremble.


"Shhhhh... breathe, Harry..."

Kisses, sweet, tiny kisses, expanding over his body, tasting him, taking every bit of him in, consuming him without ever ceasing their constant pressure.

Kisses, owning him, caressing him, bathing him in feeling.

Kisses from lips that could not bear to part from his body for even a moment.

Kisses that went on, and on, for hours; kisses that reached inside him repeatedly, unearthed him from somewhere deep and dark and hidden, pulled him out, and blinded him with light.

Kisses that drowned words, that made silence as thick, as intoxicating as incense around them, occasional phrases wafting through.

"...tell me...."



Kisses enslaving him in ribbons, not chains, of desire.

"...be in me..."



Kisses, too tender, brushing their unspoken doubt over his lips, until he needed release.

"...the only one..."



Kisses that hesitated, and finally surrounded a whispered, "...yes."



The night stretched out around him, and Harry was lost, and found, and everything at once.


It was after midnight, but the moonlight streamed in through the dirt-streaked windows as though it were a midsummer's day. The candles had all burned down to nothing; faint threads of smoke still sifted through the air like mist, shrouding the four-poster bed in place of the canopy, which had long since gone missing. Draco lay propped up on one elbow, sometimes studying the air, swirling with moonlight and vapor, but mostly watching Harry as he slept.

He had curled into a ball beside Draco, his hair strewn over his face in peaceful disorder, sighing occasionally through his dreams and inching closer to him. Once, he uncurled a hand long enough to reach over and feel Draco's warmth next to him, whereupon he smiled, sighed, let his hand fall onto Draco's waist, and returned to the depths of his slumber. He was a heavy breather, and every so often a tiny snore would escape his lips.

It seemed so appropriate, somehow, Draco thought, that the hero of the wizarding world should do something so imperfect like snore. Harry seemed to be enjoying his dreams, whatever they were. Draco hoped, as much as it was possible to hope, that Harry was reliving their joining in his mind; he wished, as much as it was possible to wish, that Harry was memorizing it all in his sleep: every kiss, every touch, every breath and gasp; the moments they had completed one another; the moments they had come. He couldn't sleep himself, not when Harry lay in his arms. To sleep would be to miss knowing--

--knowing that he had been inside this boy so deeply tonight that he might never come out again.

He leaned into the curve of Harry's body, idly stroking Harry's hand where it lay. Harry looked so small--small and fragile and innocent, as if he had never battled anything more difficult than fatigue, nor lived through anything scarier than the shadows of his nightmares.

It might have been his vulnerability that made Draco yearn to be close to Harry while he slept. It might have been the way Draco thrilled at running his hands over Harry's skin without his awareness: smooth, cool skin, still flushed with passion. It might have been the way Harry, too, kept reaching out to touch Draco, as though even in his sleep he needed the constant, ever-present contact of their bodies. It might have been the paradox that Harry could look so fragile and yet feel so strong when they were inside one another; that his sturdy form could sweep through Draco's body and rivet him with pleasure, and yet rock against him in voiceless anguish the same night.

It may simply have been that Draco could not decide which was the greater miracle--the fact that Harry was alive, or the fact that Harry was in his arms.

He didn't know what time it was. He expected it would be dawn sooner rather than later, but he really couldn't tell. Usually he knew within the quarter hour, just from instinct. Now he had no idea. Whether he had been locked inside of Harry for an eternity or an ephemeron, he couldn't tell.

He was used to analyzing events, thinking about things and what they meant. Now he couldn't. Now all he could do, in this moment, and all the moments that had come before, ever since he had laid his first kisses against Harry's soft flesh, was feel.

Harry had cried in his arms. Harry had cried and let go and trusted him and somehow broken him in two.

Harry was so warm. Not hot--it wasn't an external warmth; his skin was cool to the touch. It was more that he was, even in his sleep, the most vividly alive person Draco had ever seen. He leaned over the slumbering figure and slowly drew a line across his cheek with a solitary finger, and realized as he touched him that his hands still trembled.

Clichés surrounded him: vapid, useless clichés, words which he would never have used to describe any of his feelings--had there been any other way, within the reach of his knowledge, to feel.

But Harry... Harry left him none. Because of Harry he was a trembling, sleepless cliché.

He pressed his lips to Harry's forehead.

"Harry..." he said softly, because he needed the release.

Harry stirred but did not wake, and Draco laced their fingers together as he moved closer, their bodies touching now.


His forehead bent to touch Harry's own, his eyes closing as he memorized Harry's warmth, his scent, the sound of his breath.


He wrapped his arms around Harry and held him closer, his torso aligned with Harry's own, trying not to wake him but unable to fight the urge to be connected to him again. Harry's eyes fluttered open to look at him; he smiled up at Draco, kissing him softly on the lips before returning to sleep.

Something broke inside of Draco. For once he didn't try to explain it or figure it out. All he felt, all he wanted to feel, was Harry. He buried his head against Harry's shoulder.

Harry hummed softly and slept on, and Draco breathed when Harry breathed, sighed when Harry sighed, and surrendered.


In the busy interior of London proper, hidden between the bustling throngs of Diagon Alley and the silent, slow traffic of Knockturn Alley, is a narrow unobtrusive side-street frequented by wizened old men in spectacles and other industrious, scholarly types. At the end of the street a faded sign on a rod-iron gate welcomes the haphazard visitor to Mortome Row. Lining the sides of the cobblestone way are a series of rickety buildings with ramshackle storefronts and awnings tattered from years of wear. The metal gratings are rusty, and some of the shop windows have not been cleaned in over a century. The inhabitants of this eccentric street are, many of them, as old as the buildings.

Near the end of Mortome Row, set back away from the street, is a small flight of steps descending to a heavy wooden door. No engravings or letters mark this door, only a plain glass doorknob. Neither are there any markings on the windowless storefront itself. One can see nothing from the outside, nor from the inside; and so it has been for upwards of sixty years.

To this small fortressed shop a woman comes and sits, every day. Her eyes are tired from old age, but the dim lighting remains unaltered. She perches on a high stool in the corner, next to a fringed lamp of exquisite silk brocade, which tinges the parchment of her newspaper a slight pink.

At a sound at the door she looks up. A man enters, his stride one of casual familiarity--he is a short wizard in a robe of heavy gray fabric. His hood is up and she cannot see his face. Still, she smiles at him, her face drawing up into a thousand unexpected wrinkles, then relaxing once again into a smooth, creaseless mask as she greets him.

The wizard responds with a curt question. Worry-lines surface one by one in her countenance, in a gradually deepening expression of fear. The answer she makes displeases the wizard; she can tell, even though he does not lower his hood, by the way his stance grows stiff and his hands tense beneath the folds of his robes. He fires back another question, his voice sharp.

She stands now, her bosom heaving, hands spread on her wide hips, and draws herself up to her full height. She will not answer him; her cheeks are flushed with indignation.

The wizard lowers his hood, emitting a slow, menacing chuckle as he watches her face. She stares at him in disbelieving confusion for one long horror-stricken moment; and then, as one of those things that can only be felt rather than purely known, she understands everything, and the confused, wild-eyed astonishment gives way to agonized revulsion as her features twist themselves around to hold back her cries of shame.

He is unmoved, and in fact amused at her reaction. He asks her again, and this time she spits the answer back at him, defiantly, even proudly, as though it is the flag of her own private rebellion. The words unfurl and float on the air for a moment: "Harry Potter."

The wizard's expression tightens as if the name is a vise. He nods once, as if he has heard all he needs to know, and draws from his cloak a long, skinny wand. He raises it with a flash of silver and calmly mutters the words, his eyes fastened disinterestedly onto her own:



Imagine this, if it all falls in place
And your love, under will, comes as grace
All you'll see is mystery face to face.
Would you tell, could you speak, could you say
That the love that you feel's come of age?
All you see is mystery, and obey


Harry stirred throughout the night. He'd crack an eye open, look at Draco, and go back to sleep, as if he were satisfied knowing Draco was there, still tucked beside him.

Draco made sure that when Harry awakened he experienced the lull of Draco's arms wrapped around him, their bodies pressed gently together. As Harry's eyelids fluttered open, Draco bestowed delicate kisses on them, trapping him in his embrace. Harry drifted lazily into consciousness, as if he were coming from one beautiful, lovely place into another one, and were having trouble making up his mind which one to pick. Draco, who had waited all night just to see how the sunlight fell into Harry's mop of hair, relished the expression of sleepy, relaxed peacefulness on Harry's face. It was better than he'd imagined; but it paled next to the unguarded contentment in Harry's eyes when he looked up and recognized Draco beside him.

"Did I... sleep like this?" he said, yawning, with a puzzled glance down at their completely entangled forms. "The whole night?" Draco nodded lazily into the pillow. "Wow," said Harry, flushing slightly.

"Sleep well?" Draco asked him, whisking kisses along his neck.

"I dreamed about you," was the soft response. Harry tucked his arms around Draco's waist and ran a hand over Draco's body--so naturally, as if they woke up together every morning. Draco gazed at him through a haze of happiness, a faint smile on his lips. Harry propped himself up on one elbow and looked at Draco in mild puzzlement. "You're acting different."

"Am I." It wasn't a question.

"Everything okay?"

Draco sat up, yawned, and stretched luxuriously. "Life couldn't be better," he grinned. "I just slept with Harry Potter." He turned, took Harry's chin between his thumb and forefinger, and added earnestly, "With you."

The look in Harry's eyes grew into something Draco gladly would have traded his entire inheritance to keep. Instead of replying in words, Harry clasped both of Draco's hands to his.

Warmth surged through Draco. He yearned for this particular touch of Harry's. It was so tender and sincere: so... Harry; and yet it was a purely private gesture. No one else got this. It was just for him, just for Draco, and Draco couldn't help being fiercely possessive of this one tiny movement, even though he suspected that it was he who was actually being possessed.

If he was supposed to care at this point, well, tough.

He sank into the bed sheets, enjoying Harry's contact, grinning up into Harry's face like some kind of silly, contented farm animal, and not really giving a damn. Harry leaned over him and brushed a strand of hair out of his eyes even as a dark forelock fell into his own. The shiver of giddy, euphoric emotion that just that touch induced in Draco really, really should have embarrassed any self-respecting Malfoy.

Stupid adorable Gryffindor.

He released one hand from Harry's and reached it around his waist, pulling Harry on top of him, relishing the coolness of the other boy's flesh. Harry relaxed and leaned his head on Draco's chest. With their free hands, they idly caressed one another's bodies, the others still clasped tightly together. Harry's touch, even after all this time, was tentative, as though he couldn't quite believe that Draco was his to explore and take and feel; it was sweet, and arousing, and--

--Draco was beginning to run out of words.

"Harry," he said softly.

"Mmm." Harry's eyes were closed.

Draco blinked. "Don't fall asleep on me again, you dolt."

Harry opened one eye. "You make a good pillow, Malfoy. Not nearly as bony as I would have imagined."

"Shut up." Draco ran a hand through Harry's hair and then caught him by surprise by stealing a kiss.

"You're smirking, Malfoy."

"It's just the light."

"Whatever it is, it's sexy."

"In that case, it's the smirk."

Harry sat up, indulging in a long, cat-like stretch. Draco half-suspected it was to let him enjoy that arched, perfect body, the toned muscles flexing and rippling. Ever the opportunist, he ran a hand firmly over Harry's chest up to his neck, and smirked even more when the yawn turned into a moan. "My god, you make me feel good..." Harry murmured, leaning into the touch.

"Same here," Draco said, leaning forward and kissing Harry's shoulder gently. Harry turned, looked into his eyes, and pulled him into another deep kiss.

They'd been together just six weeks, and Harry's kiss still overpowered Draco every moment, giving him death-defying head rushes, and making him do utterly idiotic things like moan deeply into Harry's mouth, as this kiss did.

Harry leaned him back into the cushions and sprawled against him, one elbow propped on Draco's stomach as he ran scrawny fingers over his chest. He was just gazing, studying Draco without any readable emotion. Draco, still dizzily euphoric from the kiss and the sex and the night spent watching Harry sleep, felt his throat tighten.

"Your smile..." Draco murmured indistinctly, transfixed.

"My smile...?"

"So... so perfect. It makes me want to throw myself under a train."

Harry smiled another sweet, killing-me-softly smile, sank down against him, and kissed him. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard," he said with a grin. And then, softly, "Thanks."

Draco looked at him and felt his voice automatically drop to a whisper. "Sure. For you, anything."

Harry raked his nails over Draco's chest. Draco gasped. "You don't mean that," Harry said, his grin turning wicked, and before Draco could respond, he kissed him again.

Draco closed his eyes and deepened the kiss, slowly prodding Harry's lips open so that he could taste and savor every bit of Harry's mouth. Harry sighed and tangled his fingers in Draco's hair, and for a few moments, only soft gasps and the light squeak of bedsprings interspersed the silence around them.

He was so caught up in kissing Harry that he didn't realize Harry was maneuvering himself against his body until their erections brushed against one another. Their kissing grew hungrier, and the movement of their hands clumsier, and, "Look at me," murmured Harry as he dipped his fingers into the still-open jar of oil that had served them so well the previous night. Draco sighed and relaxed and kept his on Harry's; and Harry seemed to know when to enter him without their lips ever parting, which was fine, because all Draco wanted in life was to feel Harry's tongue in his mouth and Harry's lips and Harry's legs and Harry's hands and Harry's hair and Harry's skin and Harry's pulse and Harry's heart and Harry's everything, just--like--




--and Harry's eyes--

--darkening and darkening into the deepest night of an evergreen forest--

--and Harry inside him--

--fiery and fast and anchoring himself between his thighs--

--and Harry's eyes--

--swirling into the murkiest bend of the Nile, churning into sun-stroked tropical leaves--

--and Harry's mouth--

--rough and wet and cool and glistening and surf and sand and wave and ocean all at once--

--and Harry's eyes--

--shimmering like the scales and the heat of a Welsh dragon and--oh--



--and Harry squeaking gasping yelping "Draco" against his lips and Draco squeezing him and shifting and sighing and sobbing and surrenderingsuccumbingcoming--











And Harry Potter felt better panting against Draco's chest, huffing into Draco's neck, with his black hair plastered to Draco's nose, and sweat running down his forehead onto Draco's chin, and his teeth indenting Draco's Adam's apple, and his fingernails leaving claw marks on Draco's shoulder, and his legs all sticky and sliding against Draco's thighs, and one toe digging reflexively into Draco's calf, than anything in the whole fucking world.

Harry murmured something so lightly Draco couldn't make it out.

"What's that?" muttered Draco, kissing the top of Harry's head, then poking his nose into the soft, damp curls of his hair.

Harry purred and clung to him for a moment--and then he said, quietly, firmly, "I don't want you to leave."

Draco's breath caught in his throat, and he stiffened reflexively. He could almost feel the pain lance through Harry--he did feel it--and immediately he lifted Harry's chin and wound his other arm more tightly around the Gryffindor, who looked up at him, resting his chin against the splay of Draco's fingers, and blinked.

Draco moved his hand from where it caressed Harry's face, and ran his thumb over Harry's cheek, slowly down his jaw line. Harry looked at him, holding his eyes as Draco trailed his thumb-tip over his chin, then up over his bottom lip, brushing it lightly. Gently he traced Harry's lips, then trailed his forefinger up to the tip of Harry's nose.

God, he was beautiful.

He was so beautiful.

He paused, feeling the moment grow heavy around them--then he pressed Harry's nose like a button and pulled him into a kiss. When he released him Harry's lips quirked into a little smile, and he sighed and settled against Draco.

A long silence.

Then they both spoke at once.


"You'd better open your present before we forget."

Harry rolled off of him and turned immediately to the bed-stand to fetch the package, and Draco refused to focus on the discomfort twisting his stomach into a knot, or the forced lightness of Harry's tone.

He had all but forgotten about the other present; as he took it from Harry he ran his hand over Harry's back, wondering idly when they had been coherent enough to move the gifts from the mattress the night before. Harry smiled at him and reached for his mother's journal, smoothing the front cover lovingly as he watched Draco inspect the present.

It was very obviously a book--a very heavy, very thick book. Even though Draco made no secret of his love for reading, he was mildly surprised that Harry, who normally didn't have time for books, had picked up on it. He gave Harry an awkward smile, and saw that Harry was twisting his hands in nervous expectation.

The knot in Draco's stomach was now a pretzel.

Harry didn't say a word as Draco unwrapped the present, not even when Draco first glimpsed it and looked up at him in shock. He was holding a stunning leather-bound book whose pages seemed to have been frozen in time. It looked ancient, and smelled of years of care in dust-laden bookshops, preserved by careful hands. Through the clear outer jacket intended to protect it from mishandling, the lettering was barely visible--it had almost faded into the cover itself; but there, with a faint sparkle that easily caught an eye used to spotting tiny speckles of gold, an unreadable title still gleamed.

Draco's astonishment grew. He carefully pulled the book out of its covering, turned to the inner frontispiece, and stared. In silver-plated letters, vibrant and alive with color, and shimmering almost like scales, he read:

In hwelc Cwidegiedd Awritan seo Ferð gelong Salysar Slythyryne in Gomen ge æht beon Secgan ge Reccan fore þæt Geong ond List Godcundfiras. In æht Gear gelong Fæder ure 1053.

Harry bent his head over the top of the book and blinked. "Wow," he breathed reverently. "I hadn't seen the inside cover. The woman who sold me the book said it was written in a magical language."

"It is." Draco slowly reached for his robes, transfixed by the page in front of him. Removing his wand, he touched it to the one of the heavy plates. "Araccean," he murmured.

Harry stared at him. "You can speak it?"

"Just a few of the ancient spells. It's a lot like Old English--a special wizarding language the sorcerers developed. It's based on the Muggle language, but Muggles wouldn't have been able to understand it."

"Oh," blinked Harry, sounding duly impressed.

Slowly the letters began to change and reshape themselves, their colors shimmering dully, almost as though they were slithering across the page. They were quiet, watching, until finally they were able to read:

In whych Texte the Filosofies of Salazar Slytherin in Practise and Profyt are Detayld and Expounded Upon for the Younge and Ambytius Wizarde. In This, The Year of Our Lord, 1053.

Draco swallowed.

Harry had given him the Memoirs of Salazar Slytherin.

He was holding it in his hands.

One of the rarest books in the world.

If not the rarest.

He was holding it in his hands.

He looked up, staggered where he sat. "Harry... do you know what this is?"

Harry blinked. "Um--"

"It's an original edition of one of the most sought-after books in the world. How did you get something like this?"

Harry colored and shrugged.

Draco suddenly wanted to strangle him: an original edition, and he was shrugging!

But when Harry next spoke his voice held a bit of hesitancy, as if he were speaking of something he wasn't sure he should be revealing, and the desire to strangle turned into an impulse to reach over and touch his hand, which Draco obeyed.

"The last Hogsmeade weekend we made," Harry confessed, "I went looking for something you might like at the bookshop, but they didn't have anything that reminded me of you, so the bookseller wrote down the name of this little shop in London and Flooed me there. I don't even remember the name of it--I have the paper somewhere. It turned out to be a place that sold rare books. The lady who worked there was really nice. She didn't even once stare at my scar." He trailed off and looked down.

"She sold something like this to you."

Harry flushed. "When I walked into the shop, she just smiled and said, 'I already know what you want.'"

"She already knew?"

Harry nodded. "Yeah."



"That's very weird."

"Well, I didn't believe her, really, but then she took me into this room and showed me this book and it looked really cool. I mean, she said it was really rare, but I--I didn't know how rare. She explained what it was but I didn't realize it was an original edition. I mean--I just thought that you'd like it."

Draco stared at him. Harry reddened under his gaze. "Don't you like it?"

"Harry, this is worth a fortune. You can't give me something like this, it's too valuable. I'm not worth--how could she sell something like this to a student who didn't know what they were getting?"

"That's just it," Harry insisted. "She said she ordinarily wouldn't give it to someone like me, but she had dreamt that I would come, and that I would ask for the book."

"She dreamt it."

"She dreamt it. And--the lady, she said she'd lost her son in the fight against Voldemort. She said she'd always wanted to repay the one who'd defeated him, and she believed that the dream was telling her to give the book to me, in thanks."

He looked down again, flinching, and Draco ran his fingers through Harry's hair, as soothingly as he knew how. "She didn't know--that I--that he was back. I couldn't bring myself to tell her. I didn't want her to know her son had died in... vain." He trailed off.


His words fell out in a jumble. "If you don't like it I'll give it back--"

"Harry, are you sure you want me to have this?" Draco couldn't quite keep the shell-shocked quality out of his voice.

Harry looked up at him, eyes wide and apprehensive. "I--do you like it?"

Draco had to swallow before he could speak. "Harry, I..." He felt his stomach tighten and his heart swell all at once, making it suddenly very hard for him to breathe. Reaching for Harry, he drew him into a hard kiss. When they finally broke away, Harry was smiling. "Guess that's a yes."

Draco nuzzled--yes, nuzzled--Harry's hair. "Guessed right. Harry, do you even know what this book contains? It's information on all the formulas and potions and spells Slytherin invented and used over his lifetime--information on the people he worked with, magical laws he discovered... I mean, Merlin, the man was a genius, and yet--Harry, he enchanted this manuscript so no one could reproduce it because he was worried his words would be distorted and so there are maybe three of these still in existence and you're sitting here asking me if I like it?!"

Harry was now positively pink.

"I... well... I knew you... I knew it would suit you. I wanted you to have it."

Draco looked at the book, smoothing its ancient but still wonderfully preserved pages, suddenly understanding. Harry--Harry, a Gryffindor through and through, who had never looked at his house except to criticize, and never thought of Slytherin himself as more than a Bastion of Pure Evil, had given him... this.

Draco ran out of words.

He raised his eyes and met the look on Harry's face.

He would never forget this.

"Harry... thank you."

He closed his eyes under the weight of what he felt, and sensed Harry lean in towards him. A moment later Harry's lips brushed gently over his eyelids. Draco moved his hands up in slow motion to cup Harry's face and look into his eyes before the kiss came.

It lingered and grew and deepened; it was slow and long and patient, without urgency. Draco was content to explore Harry's mouth: nestling closer, worshiping his soft, sweet-tasting lips, the soft, dancing rhythm of his tongue curling against Draco's own, the security of Harry's fingers tucked between the strands of his hair; content to bask in the absolute perfection of everything they were in that moment.

"Thank you," he murmured. "Thank you so much."

"It's nothing."

"It's everything."

Harry's eyes fluttered open at this, full of light and utterly entrancing. Impulsively, Draco drew Harry into his arms and kissed him deeply, eliciting from Harry an equally deep shudder. His mother's journal, which had been sitting in his lap, slid off of his knees onto the bed, and Draco steadied it with one hand to keep it from falling off altogether.

The pages of the diary fell open under his fingertips. He felt Harry glance down at them, then pull away, leaving Draco feeling, for an instant, completely bereft without the contact. The sensation vanished just as quickly the next moment, when he followed Harry's gaze and started in surprise.

"Draco... what is that?"

The book had fallen open, and there, wedged tightly inside of it, was a small pendant hanging on a thin leather cord.

The stone was round and smooth, enclosed in a silver casing. Inside it, a murky chalk-white color swirled like a thick fog on a windy night. Draco stared, then picked it up by the cord and examined it in the light. It was beautiful, but its hue was somehow dull, and strangely chilling as Draco ran his fingers over the even, flat surface.

Harry looked at him with wide eyes, then reached out and clasped the stone in his hand. As his fingers closed over it, a shiver ran through Draco.

He watched, seeing Harry, in slow motion, caress the smooth stone in his hand, and then turn it over, his eyes widening even more. "I think there's something--writing on the back."

Harry blinked, then squinted and looked closer, rubbing the flat back of the casing with the bed sheet, ignoring the smudges of dirt left there as a result. Draco crinkled up his nose and leaned in to look over Harry's shoulder. In tiny script they read:

Love, and do as thou wilt.

"St. Augustine," said Draco. "Maybe they were Catholic." He grinned at Harry, but Harry didn't smile--he was staring at the stone in fascination.

In the recesses of Draco's mind a faint alarm began to sound, intuition stirring, almost from beyond his consciousness. He re-read the back of the stone, and concentrated on dislodging the information from his memory. Love... will... He almost had it, but he couldn't quite remember...

Harry squeezed the amulet protectively and began to pull the necklace over his head. Abruptly Draco caught his arm and stopped him. Cold gripped his insides. "Harry," he said unevenly. "Don't do that."

"Why not? It was my mum's, it belonged to her--"

"You don't know where it came from. It--it might not be your mother's, it--it could be anything."

Harry's eyes narrowed. "Draco," he said slowly, "where did you get my mother's diary?"

"I can't tell you. Not yet."

"Don't you think you ought to?" Harry's voice held a note of defiance. "It could be important--unless, of course, you're hiding information you think might be dangerous for me to know."

"It's not that," said Draco roughly. "I just have a level of confidentiality to maintain and I can't give that up, not even for you."

Harry hesitated, then nodded curtly. "Right. And you don't want me to put this on, because...?"

Draco felt unpleasant sensations starting in his navel and traveling outward, like a Portkey with no blessed destination away from the source of the discomfort. A wild and vague idea of just what that pendant might be was forming at last, and on the off-chance that he was correct he was determined not to let Harry put it on. At least... at least not while he was there to see it.

If he'd been a bit more honest with himself he would have asked why the prospect was so frightening. But in the face of what that stone meant--could mean--he wasn't remotely prepared to deal with the possibilities.

"It's just as a precaution, Harry."

"It was my mum's," Harry said stubbornly, cradling the stone protectively in his palm. "Obviously it's not a Portkey, and it was sealed with the diary. Who else could it have belonged to but my mother?"


Harry bit his lip and scowled.

Draco winced and finally said roughly, "Fine! Put it on then."

He gulped and turned away. After a moment Harry's voice came over his shoulder, a bit more hesitantly, "You... you really don't want me to wear it?"

Draco sighed silently in relief. He turned back to Harry and reached out to brush his hair away from his forehead. "It would mean a lot to me if you didn't put it on."

"You mean... not now?"

"Not--at least not till we find out what it is."

"You mean you don't already know?"

Draco looked into his eyes. "Promise me, Harry? Promise me you won't wear it?"

Harry looked back at him, eyes large and luminous and still completely trusting. Something in the back of Draco's head informed him that he was a complete and utter prat for doing this, but the greater part of him was more inclined to drown in his relief that Harry was about to agree. And he knew that once promised, Harry would not touch the necklace. At the moment, that was all he wanted.

"Okay," said Harry solemnly. "I promise."

Impulsively, Draco kissed him.


Doorways spilling out their sombre light
Casting shadows that will raid the night
Along the alleys of her ruling fears
Walk the visions that will cause her tears
Lying still as she wills her glance
Through the eyes of a charmer's trance
Please, my friend, no matter what she sees,
Tell my lover, come back to me.


Harry cradled the necklace in his hand all the way back to Hogwarts. He had the journal tucked under his arm, and his other arm around Draco's waist. Draco, despite being relieved that no one was around to see them, couldn't help but love the touch--couldn't help but walk a little slower just to relish it. Harry kept nuzzling his neck every few steps or so, and Draco found himself nuzzling right back, despite his unease, until, just shy of the entrance to the tunnel, with Harry's hand under his shirt and his lips pressed firmly against Draco's neck, Draco was forced to murmur that they were going to be late for breakfast.

"Mmmm," said Harry.

Draco promptly, if somewhat breathily informed him that there was no way he could possibly miss seeing Ron and Hermione off for the holidays and not have to answer for it later.

"Hermione's not going home though."

"I thought she always went home."

"Not this year. Her parents are taking a second honeymoon over the holidays."


"Yeah. Was sort of last minute, actually. She said she'd been planning on going with them, but then all at once last week she decided she'd rather stay here."

Draco felt a pang of something he couldn't quite identify at first. Then it hit him with another sharp pang--of dismay.

You're jealous.

Am not. Of Granger, are you kidding?

She'll have the whole three weeks with Harry, all to herself.

Harry doesn't have any interest in her.

Not now he doesn't. He's liked girls before. And either way, she's still his friend. She'll be the one who's here for him. Her. Not you.

"Draco, are you all right?"

Draco shook himself out of it and kissed Harry promptly, the kind of kiss that would be certain to drive all thoughts of Mudbloods out of Harry's head, if he ever even had such thoughts to begin with.

Eventually they managed to separate, and Harry reapplied the blindfold to Draco's eyes for their trek back to the castle. The snow fell in thick sheets all around them, and the wind stung their cheeks as they trudged up the hillside. They used the pretense of wanting warmth as an excuse to cuddle closer, when really Draco just wanted the warmth that was Harry. He took care to put up a royal fuss about having to wear the blindfold again, but inwardly he didn't mind it so much, especially as he had pretty much figured out that the secret tunnel was somewhere just north of the Forbidden Forest by the time they got back to the castle entrance.

To their surprise the main hallway was completely empty. "They're all at breakfast," Harry said quietly. Draco nodded and began to step out from under the Invisibility Cloak--but Harry caught his waist and held him. "Wait for a bit," he whispered.

Upon turning his head to look at him, Draco was instantly drawn into a fast and passionate kiss, a kiss that was urgent and yearning and beautiful and hard and strong and--

Draco broke away gasping and feeling inexplicably embarrassed. Harry gave him an odd look. "I just wanted to--you know--since--you're leaving..."

Draco stared back at Harry. "Oh," he said, noting the way Harry was still tightly gripping the pendant in his hand. For a moment his blinding desire was to feel Harry clutching him the same way.

He pulled Harry close and felt a tremor of pleasure and satisfaction run through him at the way Harry responded--so eagerly, as if Draco holding him were Christmas all by itself.

"Merry Christmas, Harry," he said, and kissed him again.

Draco had always thought that nothing could tear him away from Harry in such moments--from the excruciating warmth of being wrapped up in Harry's arms, in his lips, his breath, his smell--in Harry. He liked to think, in his most private thoughts, that in such moments the two of them were somewhere far removed from the plane of the ordinary, the usual--that they were untouchable.

He felt rather than saw the shadow; it sent a shudder running through him, and he broke the kiss just as Harry, eyes widening in alarm, instinctively pulled him against the wall, arms tight around his waist. The door to the Great Hall opened, and the corridor was momentarily flooded with light from its sunshine-filled interior; an instant later two silhouetted figures strode down the corridor towards the school entrance, becoming recognizable only when they spoke: Dumbledore and Professor Snape.

"Severus, meet him outside and stay with him until he leaves."

"Of course. Although I highly doubt that he has any motive in coming here other than ensuring his son's safety."

"Ah, Severus," said Dumbledore reflectively, "you give him far more credit for familial feeling than I."

"I give him credit only for being a Malfoy," Snape rejoined. Draco tensed involuntarily under the cloak, wondering what on earth his father was doing there--and why his limbs suddenly felt heavy, his veins frigid. Beside him Harry pressed closer, his arms protectively around Draco's waist. Draco stiffened; he did not need protecting, least of all from his own father.

"Lucius would sooner lie in the lions' den than brook the rumor that any member of his family might be in danger," Snape continued acerbically. "It would be exceedingly bad press."

"Well, then, let him come. But do not let him out of your sight. If he is in fact here to deliver Draco back to the Manor and not to do reconnaissance for Voldemort, he will not object to your company."

"It will be done, sir."

"Thank you. Go, and meet him at the gate. I will send elves to attend to the carriages."

Snape gave a nod and strode quickly toward the entrance. Dumbledore made his way back to the Great Hall, his demeanor as placid as ever. The two boys stayed still under the cloak, until all was silent again.

"Your dad is here?" said Harry in a low voice.

"So it would seem." Draco shrugged and stepped out from the cloak. Harry appeared a moment later, looking at him with a wistful, 'wish-we-were-back-at-the-Shrieking-Shack' expression. It made Draco slightly uncomfortable. "He probably wants to make sure I get home safely," he said briskly. Harry appeared to be on the verge of saying something, then blinked back whatever he was about to say and only looked at him. "You know," Draco chided him gently, "keep me from waking up on a train floor covered in hex marks." He reached out to tousle Harry's hair, feeling a sudden sharp and unnerving pang at the knowledge he would be unable to touch Harry like this for the rest of the holidays.

Harry's eyes were on him, round and serious, and he did not laugh, nor did he relax under the gesture. A cold chill formed at the base of Draco's spine and began crawling steadily through him, outside-in, as he lowered his arm away from Harry's face.


"Yes, Harry?"

"If your father ever found out about us, what would you do?" Harry blurted, and Draco knew he regretted it the moment the words left him.

Draco stared at him.

"Have you thought about it?"

Draco studied Harry, oddly impassive, wondering how he could be calm under a gaze that intense. "Right now, I think if I don't get back to my room before my father does, I might be forced to think about it a lot sooner than is absolutely necessary, wouldn't you agree?"

Harry was gripping the necklace with all his might. Draco could see where it cut into the curve of his clenched fist, leaving a red crevice in his palm around the stone. For a long moment he only looked at Draco; then, without a word, he drew the cloak around them again. Before Draco could register surprise, Harry's lips were on his, pulling him into a deep, urgent kiss.

Harry had never kissed him quite like that before: his lips were hungry and hard, desperate and driving. Afterward, it was this kiss--hasty, anxious, and urgent--that he would think of first, whenever he thought of Harry's kisses; and he would regret the fact that he was the first to pull away.

When he did, he found Harry's eyes brimming with anxiety. "It doesn't matter," Harry said in an odd voice. "None of it matters. You'd better go."


Harry leaned in to nuzzle his cheek and, Draco fancied, to breathe in his scent.

"--Everything will be fine," Draco ended, but he wasn't sure if Harry registered the words.

"Merry Christmas, Draco," he said, and then he pushed Draco firmly away and out from beneath the cloak.

Almost in the same instant they heard voices just outside the door to the front entrance of the castle, and footsteps coming up the stairs. Draco threw one last, speaking look towards the place where Harry stood, and hurried towards the dungeons.

He arrived in time to surprise Crabbe and Goyle, who were making a late start for breakfast, with his appearance. While they watched he dragged out his trunk, threw it open, and tucked his Christmas present in the folds of his favorite robes. He let his fingers trail over the ancient cover, still a little in shock that Harry would have given him something this remarkable and have no idea of its true value. The book he was touching could easily be worth the Malfoy fortune. After a moment's hesitation he cast a concealment spell, then a protective cloaking spell that could technically have gotten him thrown out of Hogwarts. The folds of his robes shimmered and sealed themselves tightly over Slytherin's memoirs. Now no one would ever be able to see it, or break the concealment spells, unless they knew what they were looking for--and there really wasn't much possibility of that.

Crabbe and Goyle were watching all this with detached, or maybe just sluggish, interest. "What is that, Malfoy?" one of them asked.

"Something rare," Malfoy said, closing the trunk. He muttered a locking spell and started flattening his rumpled hair as best as he could. "A Christmas present."

"Who from?" Goyle asked, eyeing him as he grimaced at himself in the mirror.

"Harry Potter."

"My dear boy, either you slept in a barn, or spent the night shagging something rotten, or both," the mirror informed him in an offended voice. "You look absolutely plebeian."

Draco blinked, momentarily mortified, and Crabbe and Goyle burst into laughter. After a moment Draco joined them, still glaring at the mirror. As he hurriedly pulled on fresh clothes and robes, Crabbe mused, "But where were you last night? Really?"

"With Potter, of course," replied Draco glibly, satisfied that his clothes at least were presentable, thought his hair still stuck out at appalling angles. They snickered; over the weeks his references to private trysts with 'Potter' had turned into a running joke, and neither of them had any clue that the jokes were nothing more than the honest and rather elaborate truth. "We were tucked away in our private little nest of love, tasting of delights that dare not speak their name."

He turned to flash them a brilliant grin, and met instead the rigid gaze of his father, standing in the doorway along with Professor Snape, behind an abashed Crabbe and Goyle. They might have brought along an arctic wind or two as well, so cold did the room turn the moment the two men entered. "Were you indeed, Mr. Malfoy?" Snape's penetrating gaze belied the bemused tone and the smirk he wore.

His father remained unsmiling.

"You will refrain from speaking of such abominations even in jest," he said sharply by way of a greeting.

Draco lifted his chin. "Of course, father," he replied, voice dropping a notch or two in warmth to adjust to the new emotional temperature of the room.

He wondered briefly which was the abomination in question: the delights that dared not speak their name--or just Harry Potter.


Predictably, Harry was pounced on when he reached the Gryffindor table.


"There you are!"

"We thought you'd missed saying goodbye to everyone!"

"Harry, where have you been?"

This last question, sternly directed at Harry from Hermione, caused a frenzy of echoes from everyone else. Harry shifted uneasily and sat down on the bench next to Ron. "Er--didn't Ron tell you?" He blinked at her.

Hermione pursed her lips and gave him a hard look. "Ron said something ridiculous about a dog named Snuffles," she answered for the benefit of the table. Fred Weasley looked at George, and they snickered in unison. "But frankly, I don't believe it," Hermione continued. "Next you'll be telling me you're sneaking around after dragons--"

Harry flinched. Ron jabbed her in the ribs.

Hermione raised her eyebrows. "--Named Fluffy," she ended significantly, watching Harry closely.

"Actually, Harry was rendezvousing with the giant squid," Fred jumped in.

"Right, Harry had to give him his Christmas present, you know," George chimed.

"Of four pairs of galoshes--"

"--And diving goggles."

Everyone laughed except Hermione, who continued to eye Harry. Harry proceeded to stir his eggs and focus nowhere and think of Draco. He thought about Draco while the twins made perverted jokes about giant squids and horrified all the women at the table; he thought about Draco while Parvati administered a slap to Fred for the one about tentacle sex; he thought about Draco while Ron rambled on about a dream he'd had--that was until Ginny, sounding distressed, entreated him not to talk about it.

"Oh, don't say anymore, Ron--Hagrid told us you shouldn't tell your dreams before breakfast or they'll come true."

"Oh, please, Ginny, you know how superstitious he is. Besides, I'm halfway through with breakfast!"

"Trelawney says so too," Dean reminded him.

Ron scoffed. "Yeah. There's the voice of authority."

Lavender promptly squealed and leapt to an impassioned defense of her favorite teacher, while Hermione rolled her eyes. Fred listened to the two of them argue about it--his cheek was still red from the imprint of Parvati's hand--and finally chimed in reflectively, "You know, Hermione, Lavender's got a point. Trelawney may be an old bat now but back in the day she was a bloody good Seer."

Hermione straightened in her chair and leveled a glare at Fred before launching into what Harry instantly recognized as her supremely indignant mode. "But that sort of magic is totally rubbish! Divination has nothing to do with any kind of science! It's not like Arithmancy where you use the facts of numerical equations. It's all guesswork! I mean, honestly, I could give a good reading if I knew a few facts about you, and you'd never be able to prove I wasn't making it all up."

"Yes, but could you predict specific documented events before they happened?" George asked.

"How do you mean?"

"Because Trelawney did." George straightened in his chair. "People used to come to her from all over the world for a reading."

"How do you know?" asked Seamus.

"Percy," Fred explained. "Went through a phase a while back where he was doing research on all kinds of mystical prophecies and soothsayers--anything involving Divination."

"Apparently Trelawney's something of a cult legend," George affirmed. "He told us all about it."

Harry found it hard to imagine the twins voluntarily listening to anything Percy had to say, on any subject, but George was getting really animated now, and the rest of the table was listening avidly--in no little part because it was the most any of them had ever heard George speak at one time, Harry guessed.

"A lot of people thought she was a hoax, but then just as many people claimed she had successfully predicted this or that event in their lives. The details were all mostly unsubstantiated because Trelawney always insisted on absolute privacy during her readings. She wouldn't let anyone else watch because she said too many people clouded the reception of her Inner Eye or whatever." Seamus sniggered, but shut up promptly when Lavender glared at him.

"But then after one prophesy," George continued, "She went to Dumbledore and told him what had happened--what she had seen. After that she said she had no intention of reading privately anymore, and Dumbledore offered her a job here at Hogwarts."

"But why go to Dumbledore?" Hermione asked. Harry doubted anyone would ever see her this concerned about Professor Trelawney again.

"Apparently one of the people that had come to her for a reading was none other than You-Know-Who." Everyone gasped, and most of them instinctively looked at Harry, who looked down and stirred his eggs. "No one knows what she told him for certain because apparently he memory charmed her right after."

"Memory charmed," Seamus blurted. "Why didn't he just--you know?" He made a ripping sound and drew a line across his throat. The girls grimaced.

"Maybe he wanted to keep her around," Fred answered. "See if she had other visions."

George nodded. "Only he didn't count on her having the same vision again. Trelawney went into a trance one night and this time, still in the trance, she wrote down everything she saw. Then later, after she'd come out of it, she remembered that she had had the vision before during her reading for You-Know-Who, so she went straight to Dumbledore and told him--" he paused.

"Well? Told him what?" Ron asked.

George's glance darted for a split-second over to Harry, who was at first baffled; then it hit him and his stomach plunged. "Go ahead," he urged George, with what he hoped was a reassuring nod.

"...Told him You-Know-Who would fall at the hands of a child, and that his reign of destruction would end."

The table seemed to let out the collective breath it had been holding.

"But--is that all?" Hermione scoffed. "Anyone could predict that. It's nothing but conjecture. 'You-Know-Who's reign will end'--I mean, really, could she be more vague?"

"It wasn't vague," George insisted. "Percy said she was very specific. She never talks about it now but apparently she saw the whole thing. She wrote down facts, actions, lots of details."

"What do you mean?" Harry asked unthinkingly. "Dumbledore knew Voldemort was going to kill my mum and dad?"

Everyone winced as he spoke Voldemort's name. "No, Harry," George said gently. "Trelawney didn't know it was your parents she was seeing. She couldn't see faces--she just knew what was happening without actually seeing it. She didn't see a baby getting a scar either--she saw someone she referred to during the trance as Horus."

"Horus?" Seamus asked.

"It's a Roman god," Hermione said tersely.

"Egyptian," Parvati corrected.

"I think I know my gods and goddesses," Hermione said in a chilly tone.

"And I think I'd know a bit about Egypt since my mother grew up there and has taught me the myths for years," Parvati snapped.

That was evidently the wrong thing to say to Hermione; the boys watched in alarm and no little admiration as the two girls promptly began a heated argument about who Horus was ("He's the sun-god!" "No, not the sun-god, that was Osiris!"). Harry just shook his head and ate his eggs. In the end it was Dean who chided the two of them back into politeness by pointedly clearing his throat and reminding them that it was the season to be jolly and whatnot.

Hermione calmed down, but still looked exceedingly put out. Parvati just tossed her hair and sat back in her chair, relaxing. "In some myths," she said, with the serene tone of one who felt she had just won an argument and could now be gracious, "Horus was the twin brother of the serpent god, Set. But that's just one version. In others he's the sun-god, the child determined to seek vengeance after Set killed his father."

She started to continue but suddenly caught herself and bit her lip with a guilty look at Harry. Harry, who had only been half-listening, had to blink a few times before he caught the significance of what she had said, and of the anxious glances at him from around the table. He frowned and rolled his eyes. "So what? She saw a sun-god battling a snake. Yep. Sounds like a good prediction to me."

The others laughed, half in relief. Ron said, "See?" triumphantly to Hermione, who only 'hmph'd and looked put out; and Parvati lowered her head and began eating again, looking thoughtful. Harry wondered if there was more to the myth than she'd shared. He thought about the coincidence of Set being a snake-god, and, as one thought led to another, found himself wondering if anyone else knew that the Dark Lord had once been in Slytherin.

He glanced over at Ginny, who was also eating and otherwise quiet as usual. What did she know about Tom Riddle? Did she know he had been in Slytherin? Did she remember anything that happened in the Chamber? Did she know Riddle was Voldemort?

Did she dream about him?

Ginny looked up at him just then; instead of looking away he decided to meet her gaze, that meeting of glances when one has been caught staring, halfway between guilt and intrigue. Ginny's look back at him was inscrutable: she did not look like someone who had ever known darkness--not like someone who had nearly died when she was eleven. She didn't look like someone haunted by a shadow of the past.

But then, he realized with a jolt, neither did he.

"--Harry Potter."

"What?" Harry started and glanced at Ron.

"The woman in the dream. She said, 'Harry Potter,' and then the wizard--"

"Potter featuring in your wet dreams again, Weasley?"

Draco's voice, even dulled into that flat drawl, sent thrills of longing and remembrance and excitement through Harry.

He turned in surprise, and also a little relief; he was sick of dreams, and Draco was more real than anything or anyone else at the moment.

Draco stood in the classic pose: hands clasped in front of him, lip curled into a sneer, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle. Harry looked around but did not see Lucius Malfoy. The feeling of relief grew.

Ron, who had turned red, snarled at Draco, and beside him Fred said coolly, "You'd know what that's like, wouldn't you, Malfoy." The others snickered, and Draco's expression became withering. Harry smirked, more for the irony of it than anything, biting back the impulse to find some way to touch Draco, to be as near to him as he could. He expected Draco to have an instant retort, but instead he was just studying Harry contemplatively. For a moment Harry just looked back at him, not wanting to say the words that had to be said, or fight the mandatory reasonless fights.

He had to swallow before he spoke; when he did speak he just sounded tired, not hostile. "What do you want, Malfoy?"

Before Draco could respond, Fred, in an evident determination to pay Draco back for the flush Ron still wore, said sarcastically, "Malfoy came to wish Harry a Merry Christmas--couldn't stand to let his little lovebird say goodbye." He stood and clapped Draco on the shoulder. "Isn't that right, Malfoy?"

It was the physical contact that drew an appropriately serpentine hiss from the Slytherin, who jerked away from Fred's touch, looking absolutely livid with rage, and sent him a glare that held more venom than all the asps in Egypt. Fred was undaunted, but something about the look sent a shiver down Harry's spine. He rose, level with Draco, awaiting the inevitable confrontation, but not knowing what to expect beyond that.

Anger oozed from Draco's eyes, his flared nostrils, his clenched fists. For a moment Harry was absolutely certain Draco was about to hit Fred, and he raised his hand instinctively to prevent him; but almost at the same moment Draco quelled the anger in himself, and he exerted a sudden control over himself that was so complete it was chilling. The emotion slid from his eyes, his jaw slackened, his hands relaxed, and instantly it was as if he'd never had a moment of anger in his life. Harry had rarely seen anything as ominously calm as Draco's expression. Without tearing his gaze from Fred's, he drew his wand from his robes and pointed it unflinchingly at Fred's throat. Fred raised his eyebrows in complete contempt, but behind them Ginny gasped in real alarm, and Harry suspected it was for her that Fred held up his hands.

"You will never touch me again," Draco said, and it was obvious to everyone watching that he meant it. Slowly he lowered his wand and allowed Fred to sit back down. Fred rolled his eyes in disgust. Malfoy smirked, then nodded to Crabbe and Goyle, who grunted and moved to join the Slytherins at their own table. Harry was the only Gryffindor standing; the others watched expectantly, and he thought how odd it was that they all assumed so naturally that Draco was his territory to deal with.

He wondered what would happen if he were to touch Draco now--put a hand on his shoulder or attempt to wrest the wand away from his clenched fingers. Would he be met with the same wand-point as Fred? Or would it be his right? Was it Draco's right to touch him as well?

"Potter," Draco said languidly. Harry's eyes snapped to his face.

"What is it, Malfoy?"

Draco's voice flattened. "My father wishes to speak with you."

Harry's eyes widened in surprise. "Your father wants to talk to me? Why?"

Behind him, Ron gawked, "Your father? What's he doing here?"

Malfoy ignored Ron completely. Some part of Harry was privately gratified by this. He liked the way Draco's eyes stayed trained on him. He liked the way they glimmered, and the way his hair was all mussed. He liked the shade of Draco's lips in the blinding white light of the sun-filtered room around them. He liked--

"Well, Potter--are you coming?" Draco sounded like a businessman, utterly unemotional. His tone bothered Harry. Didn't the fact that Lucius Malfoy wanted to see him concern Draco, even a little?

"What does he want?" he snapped.

"I didn't ask." Malfoy was impassive.

"You must have some idea," Harry said stiffly. Draco only raised his eyebrows and motioned with his head towards the door. Harry crossed his arms and shook his head. "No way, Malfoy. I wouldn't voluntarily set foot in the same room with Lucius Malfoy if it was the only thing between me and escape from a horde of rabid man-eating baboons."

The others snickered. Draco's eyes flashed. "Don't you ever, Potter--ever--insult my father again."

"It's not an insult, Malfoy," Harry replied.

"Only to the baboons," Ron added, and the entire table burst into laughter.

Harry laughed too, and then instantly regretted it when he saw Draco's expression. He felt a complete, utterly new kind of cold starting in the deepest part of his stomach and spreading outward. The feeling, and the pain, was as confusing as the look on Draco's face--that half-livid, half-warning glint in his eyes that made him look like a cat about to pounce.

In a flash Malfoy raised his wand; Harry stepped in between Draco and Ron just in time to deflect the curse Draco had begun to mutter. He heard someone, probably Ginny, let out an unearthly shriek--his fingers brushed against the wand and spasmed in reaction as though they had grappled a live wire--the curse went wild, and Draco slipped the wand back inside his robes, lunging towards Ron with a snarl. Harry lunged back against him; their bodies pressed together, and for a moment he didn't know whether it was his own blood or Draco's he could feel coursing through his veins.

Their eyes met, and something shattered inside him at the hardness in Draco's. "Come with me, Potter," he spat, struggling unsuccessfully to wrench himself free of Harry's grasp, "Or it won't be just my father you'll have insulted."

"I will never willingly go to your father, Malfoy," Harry seethed, gripping him harder.

"He ordered me to bring you to him and I intend to," Draco hissed.

"Oh, well, then, that's a real incentive, isn't it?"

Harry was suddenly angrier at Draco than he could ever remember having been.

"Will you blindly carry out whatever he asks of you? What if he'd sent you to kill me? Would you just nod and say 'of course' and act like a fucking yes-man?"

"This has nothing to do with me!" Draco finally freed himself, shoving back against Harry so forcefully he was propelled back into the Gryffindor table. Plates slid and glasses were knocked over, and several voices cried out in alarm. Harry rose quickly. The people around them were making a broad space for them, and Professor McGonagall was striding quickly and furiously towards them. Harry returned his focus to Malfoy, resisting the urge to draw his wand. Malfoy was barely composed--his fists were clenched and his lips apart in a classic snarl; still, he tossed his now hopelessly disheveled head in an effort to look utterly unruffled.

"Why don't you admit you're just afraid of him, Potter?" he said with forced calmness. "You don't want to meet him because you're a fucking coward."

"Me? You're the one who's bending over backwards to do whatever he says without even thinking, Malfoy--do you call that strength?"

A direct hit. Malfoy swallowed, and his eyes flashed. Harry continued, feeling his cheeks burning with rage, only half-aware of what he was saying. "You think just because you obey your father you have discipline? You think because you respect your family that it's okay to mindlessly do whatever he tells you? You think because you have the same last name it's okay to support the things he does and the ways he's tried to kill and the lies he's--"

Instantly he was cut off as Draco's wand suddenly reappeared, jabbed into the base of his throat.

Around them gasps and murmurs erupted, and Professor McGonagall's voice broke through the commotion, shrieking at them both and taking god knew how many points from their houses. She was somewhere very close; but Harry saw, comprehended, nothing but Draco. The contact of the wand against his skin was an electric shock of ice. He choked, certain for half a moment that the Slytherin was really about to harm him. Draco's eyes were beyond fury, beyond chill--they held a spark of something utterly merciless; and in that moment Harry suddenly understood, for the first time, what Draco had meant the day he had said to him, "This is who I am."

The ground shifted, or perhaps it was the walls: all at once Harry wasn't sure how he was still standing, or if he was still standing. He knew only a roar in his ears, Draco's voice in his mind--Do you still want this? Could you live with yourself?--a thudding in his chest, and the look on Draco's face.

When Draco finally spoke, his voice crackled through the silence around them. Harry realized that he had forgotten to exhale, and that his breath was constricting his throat to the point that he was getting lightheaded. "Fuck you, Potter," Malfoy said quietly. "Do you think I'm going to disrespect my father and my family just to spare you the inconvenience? Do you really think I care?"

Harry gasped, fighting a nausea that was upturning the world around him and threatening to pull him to his knees. Draco moved closer, so that Harry's face nearly touched his own; so that Harry, who suddenly wanted desperately to back away, had to meet the unspoken dare in Draco's eyes to stay frozen right where he was. He did, and struggled to stay alert and responsive against the blood rushing to his head, leaving the rest of him feeling icy and cavernous.

"You can mock my loyalty to them all you want," Draco said slowly, his voice loud and clear, every word crystalline in the vise-like silence around them. "The more you mock the clearer it is that you'll never understand that kind of loyalty-- " Draco's eyes darkened, and his tone became urgent--"and you'll never change it."

Draco's voice held no contrition, only insistence. His tone might have been desperate, or perhaps it was just merely intense. His eyes were alert, fixed on Harry's, searching them. Harry stared back at him dully, seeing but only barely comprehending.

"Never," he said again, and his voice was colder than Harry ever could have dreamed.

Somewhere deep inside him Harry found a reserve of anger and loathing--he forced it past his lips mechanically, ignoring the parts of him that wanted only to curl in on himself and give in to this new, consuming ache.

"Fuck you," he spat back. "Your so-called loyalty only shows that you hide your own cowardice behind your father's, and that you can't, you won't, understand that some things are more important than making your family look good."

He caught a lightning flash of anxiety in Draco's eyes. Harry clung to it, willing himself to trust that look, to trust Draco, and lifted his chin to look steadily back at him. "You can say that, can't you, Potter," Draco said, very softly, almost tenderly. He reached up and ran his finger along Harry's forehead, over the rough line of his scar. "You can talk about things being more important--but you don't know." Harry might have imagined the catch in the back of his throat. "How can you? You don't have a family."

He said it without contempt, without revulsion; and somehow the gentleness in his voice made the knife of his words that much duller, hurting that much more.

Harry reeled. Something must have told Draco that he had effectively ripped Harry in two, because he slowly lowered the wand and stepped away from him. Instantly Professor McGonagall was there: she seized Draco's shoulder and spun him around. "One hundred points from Slytherin for pulling a wand on your classmate, Mr. Malfoy," she sputtered, clearly beside herself. "Mr. Potter, seventy-five points from Gryffindor for provoking him. I am ashamed of you both."

"On the contrary, Professor," came the cold, startlingly clear voice of Lucius Malfoy.

It was the first time in over six months that Harry had seen Lucius, who was striding towards them, languid bemusement plastered all over his ash-white face. Their gazes met for a moment, and Harry, reeling from the fight with Draco, felt a surge of something black and ugly brewing in his veins as he looked back into Lucius' hard, glassy eyes. Lucius Malfoy had always sent his spine crawling, but now he seemed even more sinister, more calculating and cruel, than Harry had ever seen him. This man, he told himself, was responsible, solely responsible, for everything that had just happened. Draco was nothing like his father, he thought, desperately willing himself to believe it. Nothing. Regardless of what Draco had just said, just done--he was vibrant and real and alive; Lucius Malfoy was like some kind of walking grave marker: a tall, ancient monument of polished stone.

Lucius came to stand beside Draco, dropping a hand stiffly on Draco's shoulder. Draco's face went blank in a replica of his father's, and he straightened where he stood.

"Clearly my son was acting under duress," he continued. "His house should win points for his clear thinking in self-defense, rather than having them taken. Very good, Draco," he addressed his son.

McGonagall bristled. "Be that as it may, Mr. Malfoy, I highly doubt you would know all of the circumstances pertaining to the peculiar enmity existing between your son--"

"He does not, this is true," interrupted Professor Snape, who had followed Lucius in. "But I do, and clearly Mr. Malfoy was acting out of self-defense." His gaze traveled over to Draco, who was looking steadily back at Harry. "Twenty-five points to Slytherin for quick, level-headed thinking."

"Professor Snape, this is highly unseemly--"

"Twenty-five more points from Gryffindor for provoking a fight with Slytherin."

The Hall broke out in a series of hisses and boos. Harry hardly heard them, and he strongly doubted Draco did either. Draco's expression was as languid as his father's, despite the fact that it kept flitting over Harry's face, in what Harry could only assume was an attempt to gauge his thoughts. Harry kept his face blank, but he trembled slightly, and he saw the people around him in the blanket fog of his own emotions. Lucius showered McGonagall with empty compliments and McGonagall tried unsuccessfully to control her indignation. She and Snape eyed each other in open hostility, before Snape's pointed remark that clearly everything was now in hand and her presence was no longer necessary sent her back to the long table at the end of the Hall, seething in barely suppressed fury.

Lucius turned to him. "Harry Potter," he drawled. His name sounded venomous falling from those lips, and Harry suppressed a shiver, and felt the hair rising on the back of his neck. "We have not met since, oh, I believe it has been well over a year." Lucius' eyes flashed with challenge, daring Harry to contradict the lie. Harry's lips tightened, and he lifted his chin and said nothing, his gaze darting over to Draco, who remained impassive. Lucius sneered at Harry, and seemed on the verge of snapping at him; but he must have thought better of it, because instead he turned to his son and said curtly, "You will give this to Mr. Potter, Draco. I have business with the Headmaster." He drew a long envelope from his robes and handed it calmly to Draco, all without removing his eyes from Harry's face.

"Of course, father." Draco took the envelope without looking at it. He might have flinched at the way his father kept his gaze anchored to Harry, but Harry couldn't be sure.

"Thank you, Draco." Lucius still studied Harry appraisingly, without a flicker of emotion across that impassive face. "Consider it an early Christmas card, Mr. Potter."

Harry's eyes narrowed, but still he stayed silent. He had no intention of taking anything from Lucius Malfoy.

Lucius' head swiveled to fix on the Potions master, who had been watching him keenly, if with what Harry thought was far too much complaisance. "Now, Snape--since you insist on dogging my every step, you will take me to Dumbledore and have him explain why he feels so comfortable raiding my carriage." Snape turned with barely an acknowledgment and strode towards the front of the room. With a fleeting glance of distant approval at Draco, Lucius turned and walked towards the front of the room, where most of the teachers were watching him with varying degrees of curiosity and contempt.

They left Harry and Draco to themselves. He could feel McGonagall staring them down even from the other end of the hall, waiting to pounce should one of them lose his temper again; but Harry had no intention of giving Malfoy the pleasure.

He eyed the envelope in Draco's hand. "I'm not taking that, Malfoy."

Draco chuckled, a low, forced laugh. "Why, Potter," he said with a smirk that was almost contemptuous. "Too good to touch something defiled by a Malfoy?"

Harry looked at him, pangs of hurt lancing through him with every word. "Not hardly that simple, Malfoy," he managed to choke out.

He turned back to the Gryffindor table, slightly dizzy from the ache. Ron, Hermione, and the rest were looking at him in astonished concern.

"Harry, are you all right?" Hermione asked anxiously.

"What'd that bloody git do to you?"

"Really, Weasley, you'd think even a mentally defective idiot like you would know better than to talk about the bloody git while he's still within earshot and holding a wand," snapped Malfoy, who had not moved and was glaring at them all. Harry wrenched his gaze away from Draco and sat down beside Ron, shaking his head to clear it of Draco's image.

"Go to hell, Malfoy," hissed Ron. "Harry, what's going on? What's that letter?"

"Bugger all if I know. Ask him why his dad's talking to Professor Dumbledore," snapped Harry, without turning around.

"He wants to know why Dumbledore is inspecting his carriage," Malfoy answered coldly. "Potter, I've not got all day. I'd appreciate you taking this letter before I shove it down your throat."

"If Dumbledore's inspecting your dad's carriage, it's because he had a good reason to, Malfoy," Ron snapped back. "He wouldn't be the first to keep surveillance on your family and he won't be the last."

"Ron, leave it," said Harry wearily, not turning around. "Just go away, Malfoy."

"Take the goddamned envelope or I'll open it myself, Potter."

Harry spun. "No," he said, too quickly, alarm lacing his voice. "You have no idea what's in that envelope, Malfoy."

Malfoy smirked and lifted his wand to the letter's seal. "Wouldn't you love for me to find out, though, Potter?"

"Give it here, then," hissed Harry, thrusting his hand out angrily for the envelope. Malfoy's smirk grew, and he very gracefully proffered the parchment to Harry, who snatched it out of his hand. "You bastard," he muttered bitterly, glaring at Draco with fire in his veins.

Draco's grip on his wand wavered for just a moment. Harry looked down at it, the polished ebony taking on an ugly, mud-colored hue in his thoughts. When he looked back up he found Draco looking back at him, a silent request for understanding written on his features.

Almost imperceptibly, Harry shook his head. He lifted the envelope, his eyes pinned to Draco.

Draco's gaze in return was confident and unalarmed. Hermione gasped and Ron winced, and Harry ripped open the seal.

Nothing happened.

After a moment Harry tore his gaze from Draco and forced himself to look down at the parchment. He blinked and did a double take. The parchment was blank except for one line written in the middle.

Hail to the beast of pride

It was otherwise empty--no inscription or other note. The handwriting, however, was unmistakable to Harry, and his blood ran cold as images of those same letters forming on parchment of their own accord rose to his mind, imprinted in his memory forever.

Handwriting--the one thing a person could not change no matter how many new shapes or disguises or transformations they took.

He looked up. Draco was smirking at him. "You're still alive, aren't you?" he sneered. "Honestly, Potter."

Harry rose to face him, clenching the letter, ignoring the eager attempts of Ron and Hermione to read it. "What the hell does this fucking mean, Malfoy?" he asked.

Draco stiffened. "Don't ask me, Potter," he retorted coolly. "I'm just the messenger."

"You are not just the messenger!" Harry exploded.

The yell echoed around the room, startling everyone. Harry was past caring about any of it.

"'You picked the losing side, Potter,'" he said derisively, saying words he remembered altogether too well, in an imitation of Draco that was all too accurate. "You know something, Malfoy? At least I've picked a side. Whatever happens, remember that--I've chosen my side. You haven't chosen anything or anybody except yourself."

Draco's eyes widened, and real hurt laced through his expression, hurt so subtle and so well-concealed no one but Harry could have taken it for anything but contempt. At the other end of the hall Dumbledore had paused in mid-argument with Lucius Malfoy to observe them gravely, while Lucius smirked appreciatively, infuriatingly, at them both.

Suddenly Harry couldn't bear it any more--he had to get away, away from Draco, away from his father, away from everything. He turned to the Gryffindors. "I'm going upstairs," he announced. "Goodbye, Ron--Fred, George, everybody."

He started to rip the parchment into pieces--but it would not tear. In frustration he threw it down on the table, where Hermione promptly pounced on it, and gave a parting nod to his housemates, most of whom just nodded weakly.

He was getting used to the stares at the back of his head anyway.

He strode up to Malfoy. "You're in my way," he said calmly.

"Forgive me," responded Draco, with equal calmness.

Harry went rigid and shoved past him. Draco bristled. "Potter."

Draco's voice was stiff, but his eyes were earnest as he looked at Harry. Harry nearly choked as he drank in the smoldering intensity of those eyes, swirling with hurt and uncertainty and anger and pride, where only an hour before they had been lit with something so different; nothing so distant and unfamiliar, but sweet and tender, and still unfathomable--always, always unfathomable.

Unbidden, the inscription on his mother's necklace rose to Harry's mind: Love, and do what thou wilt.

He looked at Draco.

"Merry fucking Christmas, Malfoy," he spat.

Harry turned and strode as fast as he could out of the Great Hall.


Author's notes:

--Let's get this one out of the way: no, Harry's necklace is not in any way a relation or replication of the Trilogy Runic band. *grin*

--The chapter title, What You Will, is the alternate title of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (my favourite play!). The first chapter quote is also part of a song from Twelfth Night. Thank you to Verdant for the inspiration.

--The second chapter quote is from the song "The Bazaar" by the Tea Party, from their album, The Edges of Twilight.

--The third chapter quote is from the song "Whitewater Siren" by the Tea Party, from their album, Interzone Mantras.

--The quote on the back of Harry's amulet is a well-known quote from the Homilies on the First Epistle of John by Saint Augustine:

"Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good."

--Specific information on the myth of Horus and Set is taken from the Gods of the Egyptians and other writings by the Egyptologist E.A. Wallis Budge. Also, the writings of Dionysos Thriambos provided partial inspiration for one of the ideas for the chapter.



Thank you's: to my wonderful, wonderful betas, Franzi, Verdant, and Slightlights; thanks to Josh for giving me the idea, ages and ages ago, for Harry's present. Thanks to the RQ, Jen, Nancy, Erica, Ali, Heidi, Maya and Lasair (you came back to us! muah!), Dave, and Erin for much support over the rocky summer. Thanks also to everyone on the Armchair, who gave such breathtaking and insightful reviews for the last chapter, and to Penguin, Saber and Rhysenn for being such wonderful guest authors for the month of June, July, and September, respectively. Special thanks also go to Maya's Mom, Maya's Little Brother Saul, and Jett, The Rich Blond In the Castle Up the Road, for being this story's most adorable set of fans yet. And thanks to reviewers like Earthquake, Plu, Elia Sheldon, Ayla Pascal, Zorb, JLH, Arwena, Seren, Anatsuno, Ashura, Malfoi, Sylph, Jules, Demeter, Mawaridi, Josephine, Amalin, A.L. Caraway, Aurora Malfoy, Delfeus, Jessica, and Sheron, plus a hundred other people I know I've left out, who go out of their way to review, even if it's just a few words. Your consideration is so very appreciated!

And finally, thank you especially to Diricawl, Reenka, and JenniferGerbil for three of the sweetest reviews I've ever received.