- Draco Malfoy/Harry Potter
- Draco Malfoy Harry Potter Original Female Witch
- Slash Drama
- Harry and Classmates Post-Hogwarts
- Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Order of the Phoenix Quidditch Through the Ages
Published: 04/22/2005Updated: 07/30/2008Words: 247,857Chapters: 31Hits: 79,195
- Story Summary:
- It all started with a little bet. "I bet you can't do it." "Do what?" "Seduce him." Draco Malfoy's never been one to back down from a perfectly do-able bet. But when that bet involves Harry Potter? Draco's realising that this bet isn't as cut and dry as it seems, nor as easy... AU post-war, post-Hogwarts, Harry/Draco/OC
- Chapter Summary:
- The Conversation Game. Beware. What you say can and will be used against you.
- Author's Note:
- Chapter Notes: Hey everybody! I'm happy to say, I managed to get this chapter out really fast! But, of course, this means that chapter twenty-four is not going to be coming out any time soon. Sorry! For more info on that, you can visit my website (it's on my profile page) and read my story blog.
Chapter XXIII - The Conversation Game
Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.
Speech, 14 Feb 1923, Rudyard Kipling
He tossed, turned, then rolled over and planted his face in his pillow, groaning. Sleep wasn't working. It wouldn't ever work, he thought. And his game would suffer tomorrow for it. But who was he kidding? Who cared about the bloody game when his feelings were torn asunder?
"Mikhail?" came Danny's sleepy voice, "You alright?"
Mikhail raised his head slightly. "Mmm... Yeah."
"You sure? You seemed really outta it when I got home."
"Just got a lot on my mind," Mikhail sighed, rolling back over.
Danny shifted his sleeping position on his stomach. "Harry-related?"
"Is it that obvious?"
"Mate, Stu said he saw you storm out of the ball, and I saw Harry run out too. Wanna talk about it?"
"Is it goin' to affect your game tomorrow?"
Danny got up on his elbows. "Mikhail, I know we're not best mates or anything, but you might want to talk to someone. I know it's not the manliest thing to do, but I can never figure out my wife, so it's nice to be able to talk to someone about our fights."
Mikhail sat up. "What time is it?"
"I dunno. Almost two?"
Mikhail threw back his covers. "I'll be back in a bit."
Danny lifted his bed-mussed head. "Where ya goin'?"
"Downstairs. To use the inn's main fireplace. I don't want to bother you. I need to make a floo call."
"I think there's a private room for that here," Danny murmured.
"I'll ask the people downstairs. Thanks Danny."
"No problem." And Danny snuggled back down into his pillow.
Mikhail pulled on his dressing gown and padded barefoot out of their room, dropping the key in his pocket. The hallway was much colder than their fire-heated room, and the Captain felt his nipples harden and goose pimples rise all over his skin. He wrapped his dressing gown tightly around him and went downstairs. Wandering into the check-in area, he spotted the concierge, a pretty blonde girl with pig-tail braids.
"Hello," he said.
"Good evening. May I help you?" Her English was stilted, but her smile was sweet. Too bad I'm gay, Mikhail thought.
He nodded. "Yes, I'm wondering if you have a secure floo I could use to make a private call? I don't want to wake my roommate." He returned her smile for good measure.
She blushed and pointed to a door on the opposite wall, under the stairs. "Just there, sir. There's floo powder on the mantle, free of charge. The door locks from the inside."
"Right. Thanks." He turned and went into the room, locking the door behind him. Taking a pinch of floo powder from the mantle, he threw it on the fire blazing in the hearth. It flashed green and he dropped to his knees, thrusting his head into the fire.
Rooms flashed in front of his eyes, and then suddenly there was just black emptiness. He felt a whoosh and the nausea of only his head flying over the water when suddenly rooms began flashing past again, and he was back over British land. Finally, he stopped spinning through the floos and his gaze fixed on the living room of his best mate, Jason Maddox.
It was dark and quiet, the green light of the floo flickering a little eerily over two plush armchairs and beyond into the family room.
"Jason!" Mikhail whispered fiercely. "Jason! Are you there?"
Ugh...I don't want to yell, or come all the way through...that would be rude.
Yeah, but so is trying to wake up your friend for a midnight house call, the logical part of Mikhail's brain reminded him.
A candle flickered on in the hallway to Mikhail's right. A silhouette appeared in the entryway, and said, "'ello? Who's there?"
"Maggie!" Mikhail said. "I'm really sorry to wake you. Is Jason up? I really need to talk with him."
"Mik?" Maggie, Jason's wife said, padding into the room to get a better view of Mikhail from behind the lounge chairs. "Oh, yes, I c'n go get Jason. It must be urgen', if you're callin' at this time of night. I thought y' were in Germany?"
Mikhail nodded. "Yes. It's nearly two, here. I really hope I didn't wake you."
Maggie shook her dark curls. "No, I was up. Just gettin' a midnight snack," she replied, rubbing her slightly swollen belly.
"Jason mentioned you were pregnant again. Which one is this? Your fourth?"
Maggie nodded, smiling. "Yeh. I think we're done after this one, though. The others are jus' getting past their terrible two's stage, an' I'm not sure how much longer I'll b' able t' keep up with all of them, 'specially after th' new baby's here."
"I still can't believe you had triplets."
Maggie shrugged. "I still can't believe it either. Bu' I' been guaranteed tha' this one's jus' one. An' a boy." She smiled. "Bu' let me go ge' Jason. I'm assuming you can't come all the way through?"
"Yeah. I don't know the address to get back and my wand's up in my room. Besides, this is a long-distance call. I can't just go back and forth between countries without getting on the international law enforcement's bad side."
"Alrigh'. He'll b' right out."
A few minutes passed, and Mikhail resisted the urge to sneeze at the ash flying around his nose. Finally, Jason shuffled in, blond and some-what broad, his brown eyes hazy with sleep.
"Mik...mate, wha's up?"
"It's...well, now I feel silly bothering you like this."
"No, no. We're best mates. Tell me, wha's wrong?" Jason yawned.
"It's Harry. I think he's cheating on me. Or, at least, he wants to."
"Whoa, Mik, hol' up...wha' makes y' think tha'?" Jason sat down in one of the chairs.
"I've suspected it nearly the whole time. He's too close to Draco Malfoy; who, I recently found out, only became Harry's friend a little over a month ago. Three weeks ago, Harry and I started dating; just after he figured out he liked men."
"So y' think Draco Malfoy helped Harry realise this? In a personal way?"
Mikhail nodded. "Yes. But Harry says he's never been with anybody but me. I want to believe him, but I just know Malfoy's involved somehow. They both even admitted finding each other attractive!" Mikhail exclaimed, starting to lose his grip.
Jason's eyebrows rose. "Did they? In front of y'?"
Mikhail tilted his head, a look of reluctance on his face. "My father asked, because of what Skeeter wrote. They both denied any relationship. And Malfoy actually has a girlfriend."
"Okay..." Jason hedged, sorting things out in his head. "I'm assumin' Malfoy's bi or somethin'?"
Jason nodded. "Well, Mik, here's mah advice: Believe in Harry. I obviously don' know 'im, bu' my bet is tha' you're seein' things between them tha' aren't there. Even if they are attracted t' each other, they're both in relationships, and attraction doesn't necessarily equal somethin' more. They probably don' wan' t' mess up their friendship anyway, I would think. I mean, if there was a relationship, whether Harry lied t' y' or not, 'e's with you, isn't 'e? And Malfoy an' 'im are still frien's, righ', so nothin' bad happened...if there 'ad been a relationship in that short 'mount of time."
Mik frowned. "I want to believe that, but..."
"Malfoy's constantly alluding to the fact that he'll always be around, that I won't ever get rid of him. And tonight, Harry kissed me. And not just a little kiss, either. It caught me totally off-guard, and it was in front of a whole bunch of people. Then he dragged me outside and continued to snog me and...well, you know, other stuff. But it was so uncharacteristic of him. He's never been so forward, other than once, when we were alone."
"Then I spoke to him in Russian and took off my mask. He looked at me like...like I don't know, like he was caught doing something he shouldn't have been. I think he thought he was kissing someone else. Probably Malfoy," he muttered bitterly.
Jason was quiet for a moment. "Did y' ask 'im, or jus' assume? Y've already mentioned Harry's problems t' me in your las' owl...maybe 'e jus' snapped out of it for a few moments. Y' said you were wearin' a mask, righ'?"
"Yeah. We were at a masquerade ball."
"Maybe it was easier fer 'im t' be more forward while y' two were wearin' masks. He could 'ide behind it an' no one knew who he was, so 'e didn' have t' keep up appearances. He prolly needs tha', y' know?"
Mikhail did know. He sighed. "When did you become so wise, Jase?"
Jason smirked. "Back when y' turned poofter on me."
"Ha ha." Mikhail shrugged and blew out some air, sending ash into the air. "Thanks, Jase. I think things make more sense now. I'm going to talk to Harry tomorrow, after the game, and clear things up."
"Great. Now I c'n go back t bed. I 'ave t' deal wi' th' MCV tomorrow."
"Are the horses okay?"
"Yeah, yeah. They'll b' fine. Maurine is jus' a bit sick, an' is actin' a little more wild than usual. Th' MCV is comin' by t' give 'er a sedative an' some medicine t' help 'er out. She should b' fine in a few days."
"Alright. Well, thanks again, Jason. You're the best mate a gay guy could have."
"No problem. Any time. I'll see y' jus' after Christmas, righ'?"
"Yep. I look forward to it. Good night."
"G'night." Jason yawned, standing up and shuffling back out of the room. Mikhail pulled his head out the floo, feeling much better than he had before but now realising just how exhausted he was from a whole evening to worry and stress.
He left the room, giving a friendly smile to the girl up front and padded back upstairs, unlocking his door and closing it softly behind him. Adjusting to the much darker room, Mikhail found his way back to his bed, and, with his dressing gown still wrapped around him, fell asleep.
"Harry, I'm going down to breakfast; are you coming?"
Harry was laying, spread eagle on his back, fully dressed on his made bed and staring up at the ceiling. "I'll go down later."
"And if Mikhail or Draco asks for you?"
"Tell them... Tell them I'll see them after the game."
Ron nodded and left the room silently.
Harry continued to lay there, his mind perpetually blank and his gaze no better. He was tired and mentally exhausted. He didn't want to think about anything, feel anything or do anything, and he was doing a fairly good job of accomplishing all three.
He fucked up. Royally. And he still had no idea how to approach Mikhail. He obviously suspected something.
But what about Mikhail saying he loved you?
Yeah, about that...
Was it true? Did he really feel that way?
And what was Harry supposed to do about it?
Fuck, were he and Mikhail even together anymore?
Too many questions. No answers.
Eventually, after an indeterminate amount of time, Harry sat up, slipped on his trainers, and went downstairs, hoping the rest of the players had already Apparated to the pitch, and that he could still get a late breakfast. He was eternally grateful he wasn't playing today, and he hoped he missed everyone. The last thing he needed right then was to see anyone, especially Mikhail or Draco.
"I don't like this," Draco said, adjusting his robes, waiting with the rest of the team until they were called out to the pitch.
"What, are you getting nervous before your big game?" Weasley asked.
"No, Weasel, I'm not nervous. I don't like that Harry's playing the vanishing act. That he's not here."
"He's here, Malfoy. He just didn't want to be around people this morning."
"Are you going to tell me what the fuck happened?"
"Harry will tell you when he's ready."
"Malfoy! Weasley! Keep your conversations for later. We're being announced," Chaikovsky barked.
"Bloody bastard," Draco muttered. "I can only imagine what he has to do with Harry's disappearance."
"Just drop it, Malfoy," Weasley murmured from the corner of his mouth. "Let them duke it out."
"Let's go!" yelled Chaikovsky.
The doors opened and the boys mounted their brooms, hovering for a second before zooming out onto the pitch.
Draco's stomach lurched as he sped out onto the pitch, the massive crowd around him cheering and booing with equal fervour. It wasn't nervousness, he insisted to himself. He zoomed around in a circle, smiling cheekily as he passed the sea of red and black, but missing Harry's face in the crowd.
Please let him be here.
They took their positions as they finished their lap, Draco floating high above his team mates stationed below him. A minute later, the Berlin Hippogriffs were announced, and sparkling gold and bright purple flashed out of the home locker room, doing a speeding lap around the pitch to their own cheers and boos, and like the Sirens, ended their lap in starting positions. Christian settled in across from Draco and blatantly appraised him now that he was without a mask, his blue eyes intense on Draco's grey ones.
"I like what I see, Malfoy."
"You would, Albrecht. Hopefully you'll like seeing me win, too."
"So cheeky. This is your first game, Draco. Don't let the excitement get to your pretty little head."
Draco would have retorted, but the referee blew the whistle, calling the release of the Snitch and the Bludgers before mounting his broom and tossing up the Quaffle. The commotion below them was immediate, and Draco dodged out of the way when a Bludger was instantly batted his way.
Christian laughed. "I hope you know what you got yourself into, Draco!" And he sped off to one side of the pitch, looking for the Snitch.
Draco gritted his teeth. He would not be bested by some stupid, blond, German philanderer with no sense of proper seduction skills.
Draco tuned out the roar around him; it became a distant wave of sound; crashing, stopping, rising and falling with every move of the twelve players around him. He ignored his driving need to find Harry, to at least see if he was watching, and he ignored his need to pummel the taunting Christian to the earth. He travelled leisurely on the edges of the pitch, his eyes scanning and jumping like bullets, looking for a gold flash that wasn't some blasted Hippogriff's uniform. Shouldn't those uniforms be banned? You'd think it'd make it hard on their own team. Fuck.
Little sparkles from the crowd and players were causing Draco to slowly lose his mind as he tried to find the Golden Snitch. He heard the crowd roar, and looked over to see one of his own Beaters fall to the ground with an injury. Dammit. The game stopped momentarily as they removed Scanton from the pitch.
He renewed his search for the Snitch, ignoring the twisting realisation that he had to get it, he had to win this game, or things on the home front were only going to get more edgy.
I'm not doing this to prove anything to Chaikovsky. I'm doing this to prove Harry right.
I have to find that Snitch.
Purple and gold banners flashed and sung, and the home crowd roared with glee as they scored another point. Draco darted slightly down as he saw Christian dive suddenly, but quickly saw that he was pulling a Wronski Feint, and resumed his normal elevation, circling the pitch again.
Again, the Hippogriffs cheered, and Draco glanced at the scoreboard.
Hippogriffs: 250, Sirens: 100.
Fuck! Where was that fucking Snitch? If he found it now, they'd tie...
Much sooner than Draco expected, the Snitch appeared in front of his eyes, and after his split second of shock, he snatched for it, missing it by a hair. It zoomed off, and he was after it, dipping low as he felt a player come barrelling toward him, and swerving sharply and doing a barrel roll to avoid being hit as more players zoomed by. Christian was hot on his tail, he could feel it, but then the Snitch sharply changed directions, and when he tried to follow it, he wound up smashing into Christian, who was trying to dart ahead, and they both lost sight of it.
"Verdammt!" Christian swore, rubbing his chest, where Draco's broom handle jabbed him. "You hit me!"
"Fuck you, Albrecht! If you don't expect to get hurt, what the fuck are you doing up here?"
Christian snarled and flew away, muttering what was sure to be obscenities in German.
Draco rolled his eyes. That Christian guy was bloody mental. And a pansy. Yes. A philandering pansy, who was trying to steal his good looks.
Just being blond and blue-eyed won't get you everything, Christian. You've got to know how to use it.
Draco rose up again, doing a circle of the pitch as he went, staying as far away from the other Seeker as possible, without getting too far away so he could catch up if Christian spotted the Snitch before Draco.
The score was now Hippogriffs: 260, Sirens: 120.
What the hell were their Chasers doing down there?
But Draco couldn't ponder on it much, because Christian was going after the Snitch again, but it was still closer to Draco. Draco dived, lying against his broom so closely that he was sure it would become a part of him, his arm outstretched and ready to snatch the glory. The crowd was cheering loudly around him, but he couldn't stop to look and see what team had just scored another goal.
As his fingers closed over the Snitch, he was slammed into hard from his right, and went reeling in the opposite direction, thirty metres from the ground. He managed to right himself with a whirling barrel roll, while Christian was tumbling handle over tail trying to right himself.
Draco breathed hard, holding the struggling Snitch close to his chest, and just thanking the gods that he didn't plummet to the ground and was still on his broom, all with only one hand. The game stopped, and the whole crowd cheered. Draco looked to the scoreboard.
Hippogriffs: 280, Sirens: 270.
Yes, but you caught the Snitch.
I did, didn't I?
Fuck, yeah. I did. I was the better Seeker. Draco smirked.
As Draco landed, he looked around for his bespectacled friend. He was swarmed by his team mates, who were all congratulating him and slapping him on the back, their eyes lighting up as they saw the Snitch in Draco's palm. Even Chaikovsky was looking at him with some sort of appraisal in his eyes, even if he didn't come close or say a word. Draco was surprised that they hadn't tied, and asked Danny what happened.
"They managed another goal just after you caught the Snitch, I'm sure," he scoffed. "We should have tied, shouldn't we have, Captain?"
Mikhail nodded. "I'm going to go have a word with the ref." And the tall man left.
Siren and Hippogriff supporters flooded the pitch, and Draco was wheeled around as everyone congratulated him on a spectacular catch, and reassured him that it was okay they lost, because they didn't lose by much. Raven came and attached her lips to his, giving him his after-game kiss like she promised before the game. Even Granger showed up and gave him a warm smile and a pat on the arm.
But where was Harry?
Raven opened the door to her room, satisfied at another day's work of taking pictures. The surrounding nature was extremely interesting through a camera lens, especially after many storms and unrelenting rain.
"Hey, Daphne, how was your--whoa...what's that there?" Raven set down her camera and her bag on her bed. She watched as her roommate sat there, looking dumbly at a letter, with a large bouquet of yellow and red roses lying on the bed beside her.
Raven sat down beside her and picked up the bouquet, inhaling the scent of the roses, musky and sweet.
"Don't!" Daphne snapped. "They might be toxic."
Raven scoffed. "They're fine." She sniffed again. "See?" Setting the roses down, she asked, "Why are you so paranoid?"
"Because they're from a crazy person. Here," and she handed over the letter she had been gaping at.
Raven took it and scanned the lines. It read:
I will not bore you with alliterations and soppy declarations of my love. I know your fiery disposition would only see those as ostentatious, sleazy, and unworthy of your vitally brilliant attentions. However, I will intrigue you with my hidden identity and with the symbolism of my roses. With each yellow rose, I hope to only grow closer to winning a position in your life, and with each red rose, I hope to show you my love. I do wish with my anonymity that I pique your feline curiosity and that you'll seek me out, as I do you.
It was unsigned.
"Do you recognise the handwriting?" Daphne asked.
Raven frowned. "No. But let me try a revealing charm." She muttered aperio, waving her wand over the paper. Slowly, it revealed a semi-sloppy script; much different than the elegant scrawl it had been.
"Do you recognise that?" Raven said.
Daphne looked over her shoulder. "No, I don't. Do you?"
"No," Raven lied. "But whoever it is, he seems rather romantic. I'm sure he's just a harmless admirer."
"Then why go to the lengths to hide?"
Raven shrugged. "Like he said, he wants to pique your curiosity. He wants you to seek him out."
Daphne wrinkled her nose. "I don't like it."
Standing, Raven handed the letter back. "Daph, you are far too cynical to be healthy. Take a chance for once, okay?"
Daphne shot a distrustful look at the two dozen roses next to her. "Maybe."
Raven rolled her eyes. "I'll be back just before dinner. I'm going to go bother Blaise. He was the only one who opted to miss Draco's first game this morning. I don't know why."
"Oh, how did it go?"
Raven grinned. "Draco did well. We lost, but he caught the Snitch, so we only lost by ten points."
"Brilliant. I hope he gets to play more often now."
"Me too." Raven smiled and left the room.
Blaise was not expecting the stinging handprint that was now burned onto his left cheek. He looked at Raven with wide, horrified eyes, his mouth parted in surprise.
"What...what the fuck was that for?" he exclaimed.
Raven narrowed her green eyes up at him, while he stood there, in the open doorway. "I know it was you, Blaise Zabini. And Daphne better not turn into another one of your flings."
Blaise recovered enough to grab Raven by the arm and haul her inside the dormitory. "She's not, okay? Do you think I'd go through all this trouble if I didn't actually like her? If she didn't mean anything, I would have had her and dropped her years ago."
Raven searched Blaise's eyes and saw truth there. "Alright," she replied, stepping back and eying him cautiously. "You're being rather odd, you know that? Why the sudden interest in Daphne?"
Blaise shrugged. "I like her. I have for a while now. I didn't want to just go up to her and hit on her. She knows my relationship history; or lack thereof; I knew she wouldn't understand that I was honestly interested in her."
"Yeah, well, she seems to think you're a crazy stalker. You might want to re-think your strategy. Though I think I managed to convince her that your letter told the truth; that you only want her to seek you out too."
"Indeed. So--how'd you know it was me?"
"Revealing charm. I'd recognise your handwriting anywhere. Luckily, Daphne didn't. Don't worry--I didn't tell her. Your secret's safe with me. But you might want cover your tracks a little better."
Blaise smiled. "Good. So...how was Draco's game? I wanted to come, but I had already planned on setting up the roses for Daphne."
"It went really well. Draco caught the Snitch, but the ref called in two goals for Berlin practically after he caught it. So, we lost. But only by ten points."
"Brilliant. When are they all coming home?"
"Later tonight. There's some sort of after party this evening or something, Draco said. He asked me to go, but I wanted to get in some good pictures today, while it wasn't raining."
"Get any good ones?"
Raven nodded. "Yeah, I think so."
"Do you think Daphne will go for me?" Blaise asked, his eyebrows rising hopefully.
Raven laughed. "You certainly have her intrigued, at any rate."
"In a good way?"
A smirk graced Raven's lips. "We'll see."
Gathering all of the courage he could muster, Harry knocked quietly on the door in front of him. He waited a minute, wondering if the person inside had heard, before a creak in the floorboards behind him startled him and he whirled around.
"Mikhail! I was just coming to, er, see you." Harry looked away, biting his lip. "I need to talk to you."
Mikhail nodded curtly. "Alright. Let's go inside." Harry moved hastily out of the way when Mikhail moved forward to unlock the door. Danny was inside, packing up.
"Hey, Danny, could we have a few minutes?" Mikhail asked.
"Yeah, sure." Danny sent them both a smile of understanding grimness, and left the room, closing the door softly behind him.
Mikhail set the door key on the table between the beds, keeping his back facing Harry. "I'm listening."
Harry stepped forward haltingly. "Mikhail, I've been up all night, thinking about what happened, and I figured that I should stop assuming how you're feeling and what you want to hear from me, and just ask before I say anything."
"Harry," Mikhail started, turning around, "I don't want to hear anything from you. I need to hear what the fuck happened last night. Do you have any idea how much you hurt me? You were looking at me like you didn't know who I was!" Mikhail turned around and tried to regain his composure by taking a few deep breaths. "I talked with Jason early this morning. My best friend, you know? He said that maybe you needed the masks on to kiss me like you did; to be so forward. But the way you looked at me...it was like I caught you cheating on me or something."
"Mikhail..." Harry swallowed. "The last thing I meant to do was hurt you. I think...that Jason is right; it was easier, because I wasn't afraid that someone would see us and know who we were. I hate it, Mikhail, but that's how it is. I'm known all over the world and the last thing I'll ever want is people knowing what's going on in my personal life. You've read the newspapers; they think it's their right to know about it. I know it's not an excuse for my behaviour, but it's the only thing that makes any sense to me right now."
"Do you really even like me, Harry? Because I swear it feels like I'm putting more into this relationship than you are. I don't like feeling like that; I want to believe we can work past this...problem, or whatever it is, but I'm starting to think that maybe we won't."
"No, you're right, Mikhail. It's me. I'm not putting as much into this, and I'm sorry. I can't even say I don't know how...because I'm not sure that that's the reason why." Harry sighed and turned away, stepping close to the wall and bracing an arm on it, and then his head on his arm. "This isn't working, is it? I'm just not meant to have normal things like a relationship." He let his arm drop, and his forehead hit the wall.
Mikhail stepped forward. "I don't believe that, Harry. You're extraordinary, and maybe because of that, you deserve all the normal things life can give you. I only want to make you happy, Harry. And last night made me think that you might prefer someone else in that role."
"Mikhail, that's not true."
"Then what is it, Harry? Why can't I make you happy?"
"I don't know."
"I think you do know, and you're afraid to tell me the truth."
Harry finally turned around, tired of being accused for only protecting Mikhail's feelings and trying to put his mistake with Draco behind him. "Well, what am I supposed to feel or do when you say things like you love me? It's been three weeks, Mikhail. I really like you, but when you say things like that...well, it sort of freaked me out. Do you? Do you love me?"
"I thought I did, Harry."
"As in, you don't anymore?"
"Something tells me you're relieved."
"Mikhail! Why do you keep acting like I want this to end? Have I ever said anything to allude to that notion?"
"It's not what you say, Harry. It's what you do and how you act. I want to help you, to make you happy, but you don't seem to want my help. I want to love you, but I can't figure out how I'm supposed to do that when you keep shutting me out."
Harry moved and grabbed onto Mikhail's arms. "I don't mean to, Mikhail. But there's so much about me; so much history that I don't want to live through again. I already had to when Draco and I started working through it all to become friends. But it's over. I want to move on, Mikhail. And you are helping. This is just new to me, okay? And I'm scared."
"Scared of what, Harry?"
"I don't know...looking stupid? Messing up? I've already done that."
"Harry, you can only mess up by not trying. And nothing you can do will make you look stupid to me. I'm here for you, dammit. I've been trying to tell you that; trying to make this as painless and un-awkward as possible. I've only been worried that I've been rushing you."
"You haven't, really, Mikhail. It's just me. I'm stupid."
Mikhail pulled Harry close, tangling a hand in his boyfriend's hair. "You're not stupid, Harry. Why do you always put yourself down?" He pulled back, gently moving Harry's hair back from his forehead. He rubbed his thumb over the still red scar. "You let this scar define you, Harry. But it's not you. You're better than it; you're beyond its reaches now. You can't let anyone tell you otherwise." Mikhail kissed the scar and said, "It's up to you to live your life the way you want to. Which means that as much as I will try to help, getting past whatever's keeping you from getting close to me, or anyone else, has to come from you. But I'll be here, if you need me."
"Thank you, Mikhail. But you're still too wise for me." Harry hugged Mikhail, feeling secure, but still unsure about where he wanted their relationship to go. Pulling back, he said, "Well, I should get going. Ron's waiting for me to finish packing so he can have some alone-time with Hermione."
"Alright. I'll see you at the after-party?"
Harry shrugged. "I'm not really feeling up for it, but you go. Besides, I need to go congratulate Draco on his spectacular catch today."
"I wasn't sure if you were watching."
"I was. Congratulations on your near-win," he said, smiling.
"Have you talked to Draco yet?"
Mikhail looked away in slight embarrassment. "No. I'm not sure what to say. I'm afraid he'll say something like 'I told you so.'" He chuckled. "We still didn't win, but he did do fairly well."
"I told you so," Harry mocked.
Mikhail narrowed his eyes. "I suppose I deserve that from you. But not from Malfoy."
"Do you still hate him, Mikhail?"
"I just don't trust him, Harry. He's said some strange things; like that he's not leaving or getting out of your life. It makes me think that he's trying to steal you from me. It doesn't help that he admitted to finding you attractive. It just makes me nervous."
Harry sighed and looked to the floor. "You know, I'm not going to discuss this with you. Draco can't steal me from you unless I want to go, which I don't. And I think you've forgotten that I've found him attractive too. Just please leave Draco alone." Harry kissed Mikhail on the cheek and stepped back. "He'll ignore you if you ignore him. Well, he wouldn't have at Hogwarts, but he's less likely to instigate something now. He's grown up; changed. Just give him a pat on the back for the game this morning and leave it at that. Okay?"
Mikhail frowned but nodded. "Alright. I promise."
"I'll see you back in England, Mik."
"Bye, Harry." He waved as Harry walked out the door.
Still frowning, Mikhail felt as though he had just made up with his boyfriend, but was chastised at the same time. He couldn't trust Malfoy. He knew he couldn't, but he couldn't necessarily deny Harry's friendship with the git. He could only keep an eye on him, he supposed. But, at least things with Harry were better than they had been. He felt terrible for freaking out on Harry like that the previous night, but something really wasn't right, there. And Harry never did give him a straight answer...except to say that Jason had been correct in his assumptions.
Mikhail tried to shove those niggling mistrustful thoughts of Harry away, but something continued to squirm in his gut, and though he was terrified of ignoring the thoughts, he was even more afraid of indulging them. He could lose Harry. For no reason other than his own paranoia.
Please, Merlin, let me be wrong.
"Hey, Stuart! Is Draco still here? Has he gone to the party?"
Stuart Strader, a blond, blue-eyed, bespectacled Chaser for the Sirens, turned around from unlocking the door to his room at the inn. "Oh, hi, Harry. No, I think he went home. He said something about his girlfriend's absence putting a dent in his fun for the night. He packed up and left."
"Oh, okay. Thanks." Harry turned back around and went to his own room, where he caught Ron and Hermione in a lip-lock he was hoping he would get used to seeing one of these years. "Oh, Jesus! Guys, couldn't you wait until I went home?"
Ron blushed and Hermione cleared her throat. "Sorry, Harry. Did you patch things up with Mikhail?"
"Yeah, mostly. He still suspects Draco...and I tried to put him off the trail, telling him that if he stops antagonising Draco, Draco will stop antagonising him. I don't think it worked. He's going to figure it out sooner or later, Hermione, and I don't know what to do about it. This is so fucked up." Harry sat on his bed and put his head in his hands, his already packed bag sitting next to him. Another little lie.
"Harry, don't let that get you down. I don't think Draco will say anything; he doesn't want the publicity just as much as you don't want it. Just tell Draco to back off, too. I have a feeling that Malfoy just likes bothering Mikhail because he can, not for any real gain."
"Yeah. I suppose." He stood, grabbing his bag. "Well, I'm going home. Draco apparently already Apparated home, so I'll catch up with you guys later."
"Alright, Harry. Cheer up! Today's a beautiful day back in England. Enjoy it before it starts raining or snowing again."
Harry smiled. "Okay, Hermione. You two have fun tonight at the party. Give my regards to Christian, will you, Ron?"
"Will do. Later, Harry."
After getting through Wizarding Customs on both ends, and finally getting back to his dorm room in Rookwood, the sun was already setting. Setting his meagre bag down, Harry walked straight back out the door and over to Number Three, where he was hoping to find Draco.
No one answered the door, but it was unlocked, so Harry entered and went upstairs to Draco's room. He heard two male voices, and when he got close enough, realised the other was Blaise. He knocked on the door.
The door creaked as Harry opened it. "Hi, Draco. Hey Zabini."
"Harry! Hey, I've been wondering where you've been. I didn't see you at the game..." Draco was pulling his uniform out of his expensive-looking valise, while Blaise stood nearby, watching.
"Er, yeah. I was there, don't worry. I came over to congratulate you. You left Berlin before I could say anything."
Draco smiled brilliantly; another one of those smiles that made interesting feelings jump around in Harry's stomach, yet made him feel horrible for having the feelings.
Blaise glanced between them and announced his leave. "I'll just leave you two some time to catch up."
"So you saw it?" Draco asked as soon as Blaise closed the door behind him.
"Yeah, Draco, it was brilliant. You did so well. I actually told Mikhail 'I told you so.'"
Draco laughed. "I'm sure he loved hearing that."
"Well, he's definitely not looking forward to talking to you. I think he's afraid you're going to mock him and throw it in his face."
"Yes, I probably will." Draco smirked and turned, going back to taking his clothing out of his case, before walking over to his hamper and dropping his dirty robes inside.
"It's really too bad you didn't win, though. But you did very well. I saw that Albrecht was taunting you."
"Yeah, the smarmy bastard. And a good-look-stealing philanderer at that."
Draco hung his dress robes from the ball in his wardrobe. "After Meghan left him at the ball, he ran into me, and hit on me. He even kissed me, after I had told him I wasn't gay. I even had to tell him I had a girlfriend who likes to give me pain just to get him to back off."
"Really? I've never known him to be like that, but I never really saw him that often off the pitch."
"Just don't let him near you. I don't think he'd care that you're dating the captain." Draco turned around from putting a preservation charm on his dress robes. "By the way, Strader mentioned something about you and Chaikovsky running out of the ball?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "It was a misunderstanding. Don't worry about it, we've talked it out. But I have to ask if you could not antagonise Mikhail anymore. And I told him to leave you alone too, so don't look at me like that. I just figure if you two don't talk to each other unless you have to, you guys can stop causing each other grief. Besides, he more than thinks something's up with you, Draco. He believes you're trying to steal me from him."
Draco reached for the hem of his tee-shirt, pulling it up and off, throwing it in his hamper. Smirking, he stalked back over to Harry, saying, "Who says I'm not?"
"Draco, stop it. Put your shirt back on."
Draco snorted softly under his breath and stepped away. "I'm getting ready to take a shower. If you don't like me undressing in front of you, perhaps you should leave."
"I meant, stop teasing me. It's not helping matters. Just leave Mikhail alone, and don't rise to his bait, okay? I'm pretty sure you don't want him knowing what happened between us, do you?"
"I think you know the answer to that question, Harry."
"Then just stop."
"I'm not just going to ignore him when he throws insults my way and makes rude and untrue insinuations, Harry."
"Well, if you don't react, and he doesn't do anything to you either, then there shouldn't be a problem."
Draco shook his head and undid his belt. Harry quickly looked away. "You're being awfully optimistic, you know that?"
Harry's eyes snapped to Draco's face. "Well, do you want me to take more drastic measures? I mean, for Merlinsakes, Draco, why do you like bothering him so much? Can't you just be my friend and accept that I'm dating him? That what we did was obviously a mistake, as it nearly cost us our friendship?"
Draco stared gravely at Harry, now standing in only his boxers. "You think it was a mistake." It wasn't a question.
Harry didn't know how to respond. Part of him felt that yes, it was a mistake. Look at all the heartache and lies it created. But Harry couldn't forget how Draco had made him feel that night, and seeing Draco wearing nearly nothing wasn't helping his imagination any.
"I don't know," he finally responded.
"Well, perhaps you should get a better idea before saying things like that. Someone less understanding than me might think you don't give a shit about their feelings on the matter."
"Draco, I didn't mean to hurt you..."
"Don't, Harry. Just...nevermind. Look, unless you want to see me without my skivvies on, then you might want to leave. I really need to take a shower. I hate travelling. I wind up smelling like a mixture of an old sweaty man with no sense of proper hygiene and some old lady's perfume."
"This day sucks," Harry muttered to himself, but Draco still heard him.
"Even my spectacular catch this morning? I thought it was rather brilliant myself. Something to go in the Quidditch history books." Draco was obviously being ostentatious.
Harry laughed softly. "Draco, you are so full of yourself."
"But that's why people love me, why should I change?"
Harry cocked an eyebrow. "Yes, Draco, you were bloody brilliant today," he deadpanned. "Is that what you wanted to hear?"
Draco sniffed. "Don't mock me, Potter. Just because you are not so brilliant, doesn't mean you get to step on others' greatness."
Harry and Draco locked eyes, and then burst out laughing.
"You go have your victory shower, Draco. I'll see you later."
"Bye, Harry. Thanks for the compliment."
"Hey Harry?" Draco called out just as Harry was closing the door.
"Yeah?" the brunet asked, pushing the door open again.
"I'll try. To leave Chaikovsky alone. For you."
Harry smiled. "Thank you, Draco."
Draco nodded, and Harry was gone.
Harry was sitting in the lounge, reading over the potions charts that he and Draco were almost finished with when Ron and Hermione came home. Ron was smiling goofily and leaning on Hermione, who was obviously not happy to be helping her some-what drunken fiancé arrive home safely.
"Hey, you two! How was the party?"
Hermione shrugged. "Alright. But I'm exhausted. I'm going to go over to my room. I'll let you deal with the red haired wonder here. I got him through customs, and managed to side-along Apparate him home. I'll let you take care of the rest."
Harry stood and went over to stop Ron from tumbling over as soon as Hermione let go of him. "Okay, Hermione. I'll see you later, alright?"
"Yeah. Goodnight, Harry."
"Goodnight 'Mione!" Ron yelled, startling them both.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Good luck."
"Thanks," Harry replied. Once Hermione was gone, Harry led Ron over to the couch and sat him down. "Okay... Ron? Where are your things? Your bag and your broom?"
"Um...I don't know. I think 'Mione said something about a pocket..." Ron started shoving his hands clumsily into his robe pockets, coming up with little bits of lint. "Oh...they're not here. I must have left them in Berlin!" Ron tried to get up, but Harry pushed him back down.
"Don't worry about it, Ron. I'm sure Hermione has them. Just sit here, okay? Don't move. I'm going to go get you some sobering potion, alright?"
As Harry cautiously left the room, Ron turned and yelled, "The party was really great, Harry! You should have been there!"
"Ron, keep it down! It's late!" Harry whispered.
Ron practically giggled and put a finger to his mouth. "Shh! It's late!"
Harry rolled his eyes and went into the kitchen, where he had several different types of potions stored for various situations. Ron, you are not allowed to drink alcohol at your wedding. The last thing we need is you acting like this in front of all your friends and family.
When Harry returned, he found Ron, sitting upside down on the couch, his head dangling from the cushion, and his feet sticking up in the air.
"Oh, Jesus... Ron! Sit up!" Harry helped the very uncooperative Ron right himself, and then forced the potion down his throat. Ron shuddered, his face turning green for a second. He coughed for a few moments before blinking rapidly.
"Oh--Merlin--that shit is awful!"
Harry laughed. "It's what you get. If the potion doesn't work, the taste sure will. What on earth did you drink? And why did Hermione let you?"
Ron rubbed his forehead. "I don't know...I remember something green...and maybe just some butterbeer... Fuck, I feel like I've been hit over the head with a truck."
"It'll wear off in a few minutes."
"I didn't do anything stupid, did I?"
"Other than gibber foolishly and sitting on the couch upside down? No, then as far as I'm aware, you didn't do anything stupid."
"Hmm. So, what did you do for the rest of the day?"
"Not a whole lot. I just came home, talked with Draco, and then I've been here, all night, reviewing my potions notes."
Ron didn't say anything for a few moments. "Harry, I need to tell you something."
"Is this a good kind of something or a bad kind of something?"
"It...depends. I'm not sure how you'll react."
"What? What is it? Are you and Hermione breaking up or something?"
"No, no. Nothing like that. It's...about Draco."
"What about him? Ron, just tell me."
"He saw you and Mikhail, a week ago when Mikhail stayed the night. He was spying on you."
"Wh-what? Are you sure? How do you know?"
"He told me. He said he came over to see if you wanted to hang out. Instead of coming through the front door, he levitated up to your room, and he saw you and Mikhail making out, and then he said he saw you two fight."
Harry was shocked. "He did see us," he said slowly. "That's what happened that night."
"I'm sorry, Harry. I didn't mean to hurt you, or complicate things. I just thought you should know the truth."
Harry nodded. "No, he's done it before. Levitated up to my room, I mean. He just... Why wouldn't he tell me what he saw?"
"He said he didn't mean to. He seemed sort of upset that I accused him of spying, but I'm not sure if he's telling the truth or not. As much as I still don't like him, I don't think he meant to see anything."
"Maybe, but that still doesn't explain why he didn't tell me."
"Maybe he didn't want you to accuse him of spying. Like I did."
Harry sat there, hoping Ron was right--that Draco didn't really mean to spy. How could he have known that Mikhail was over for dinner anyway? Harry didn't remember telling him. He must have just been coming over to see Harry, right?
But what if he was spying? What purpose would it have served?
Harry was too confused to figure Draco out. His constant teasing, his antagonism, his continuous reiteration of his feelings for Harry when he was obviously dating Raven...Harry was tired of all the doubt that came with being Draco's friend.
Everyone else was so wary of him...except for Harry. What if Harry was wrong?
Put love first. Entertain thoughts that give life. And when a thought or resentment, or hurt, or fear comes your way, have another thought that is more powerful -- a thought that is love.
--Mary Manin Morrissey
A/N: Er...I have nothing to say here...lol. Um...until next time? :D I hope to hear from you, and I hope you all are well until I show up again! (And don't worry, I WILL come back!)