- Story Summary:
- Draco had no idea that the repercussions of stealing Potter's journal and shoving it down the back of his trousers would be so extreme. Featuring nefarious plots, the mating rituals of Slytherins, double-crossing spells, Ron/Pansy, and Draco/Harry.
- Chapter Summary:
- Draco had no idea that the repercussions of stealing Potter's journal and shoving it down
- Author's Note:
- Dedicated to all my reviewers, especially Verdant, for her lovely review of chapter two.
Chapter FourThe night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow ;
But a tyrant spell has bound me,
And I cannot, cannot go.
The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow ;
The storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.
Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below ;
But nothing drear can move me :
I will not, cannot go.
--The Night Is Darkening Around Me, Emily Jane Brontë
Harry dreamt that he was flying, almost as if he were on a broomstick except that he wasn’t. It was raining, and he was low enough as he passed over a large pine forest to reach down and touch the treetops. The sky tilted around him suddenly and he could no longer control his body. He fell from the sky and landed in the center of the forest, in a clearing, and the ground was covered in fresh snow. Malfoy was waiting there, leaning indolently against a tree trunk and watching him, a smirk on his face. From Harry’s vantage point, on his back in the snow, he looked to be upside down. “What are you doing here?” Harry asked, no accusation in his tone.
“Waiting,” Malfoy said with an easy shrug.
“Whatever is supposed to happen, I suppose. My destiny or yours, it does not matter which.”
“Why?” Harry asked, feeling oddly like a child. He was beginning to get used to seeing the world upside down and suddenly could not imagine what it would be like to stand before Draco and see him right-side-up. Upside down and inside out… that was the way it was supposed to be. “Are our destinies the same?”
“Oh no,” Draco said solemnly, shaking his head. “Not the same at all but opposites. No cycle can be complete without both a beginning and an end, but after the cycle is finished, you can never quite see where one begins and the other ends. Completion.”
“You destroy me, I destroy you. Together we complete one another but that completion is destruction.” Draco smiled. “Stand up, Harry, you’re looking at it backwards, you can’t expect it to make sense that way.”
“I like it when you’re upside down,” Harry murmured. “It makes it look like the moon paints you silver from bottom to top, rather than top to bottom.”
Draco laughed. “Who isn’t making sense now, Potter?”
“A star never hits the ground if it falls upside down,” Harry said.
“The blood must be rushing to your head,” Draco replied, oddly gentle. “You’ll start seeing things the right way around soon enough, I promise you.”
And then he woke up, because he needed to vomit. The strange sickness was worse than ever and, for a few tense moments, Harry worried that he was about to die. The whiskey certainly hadn’t helped. He lay on his back for the longest time, taking deep breaths and remembering the strange dream. It made no sense.
What made even less sense, however, was the sudden realization that he was lying on his back in a mess of blankets on the floor of the common room with his invisibility cloak draped over a Cleansweep.
And then he remembered and sat up with a yelp. The movement nearly made him sick, his head aching worse than before.
Draco was gone, and he wondered nervously if the entire thing had just been a hallucination brought on by too much to drink. Draco’s whiskey bottle still lay on the floor, however, and Harry stared at it in shock.
He crawled over to the Medication Potion Chest and dug through it, pulling out the Hangover Potion someone had thoughtfully left there. He drained it and instantly felt a little better.
He was still in the common room, feeling too nauseous and weak to go to the hollow, when Ron came downstairs, dark bruises under his eyes. He’d obviously not gotten much sleep the night before. When he saw Harry, he scowled. “You never came back!”
Harry blinked. “Ron? What time is it?”
“Nearly time for breakfast, where were you last night? You never came back to get me, I got locked in the tower!”
“I, umm, drank too much and forgot. Sorry.”
“We had to climb out the window,” Ron said tightly. “How could you just forget?”
“You should have just waited until morning, I would have let you out!”
Ron’s eyes narrowed. “Harry, what’s going on? You said that as if you knew she’d be there… as if you planned it.”
Harry opened his mouth to reply and then slowly closed it, thinking fast. “Well…” he began. “Um.”
“‘Well um’ is not an answer.”
“Was it really that bad?”
“Well…” he thought for a moment. “Um.”
Harry grinned. “You kissed her!” He thought it better not to mention the fact that he and Draco had been watching.
“I didn’t know she was Pansy!”
“Does it matter? Why’d you kiss her?”
“Because she was funny and smart and smelled like flowers! And she looked like Aphrodite!”
“Notice that’s the last of your reasons!” Harry pointed out with a smirk. If he’d thought about it, he would have been appalled. After all, Harry never smirked. Malfoy smirked.
Ron scowled. “What’s going on?”
Harry sighed. “Alright. Ron, Pansy likes you. She had nothing to do with the plan last night, didn’t know about it, but she likes you. And I thought maybe, if you got past the fact that she was a Slytherin and therefore The Enemy, maybe you could like her too.”
“Harry, Slytherin isn’t the enemy, Malfoy is the enemy.”
Harry’s eyes widened a little. “He is not!”
“…What? You hate him!”
“Of course!” Harry said quickly. “I just meant that all of Slytherin is the enemy, not just Dra—Malfoy!”
Ron’s eyes narrowed again. “Then why did you try fixing me up with Pansy?”
Harry’s mind went blank. Finally, he shrugged. “Does it matter? Do you like her?”
“It doesn’t matter! You were wrong, Harry, she doesn’t like me, when she found out it was me, she took off screaming.” Ron licked his lips, trying not to look as hurt as he felt. “See? She couldn’t stand the sight of me.”
“Not true. Trust me, Ron, she’s practically in love with you. Talk to her. She was probably scared.”
“Slytherins don’t get scared,” Ron argued, even as he remembered how terrified she’d looked on the roof, how she’d confessed to being afraid of heights.
“Yeah, they do. Talk to her.” Harry smiled.
“Maybe…” Ron still felt unsure, and Harry, feeling slightly stronger than he had when he’d first woken up, smirked again.
“C’mon. Breakfast time.”
Draco was late for breakfast, he hadn’t even gotten back to his dorm until dawn, and he was just making his way out of the common room when Pansy hissed from the shadows, “Malfoy. I have something to discuss with you.”
He squinted into the darkness. “Pansy? That you? What are you doing skulking about by yourself?”
“Waiting for you.” She stepped out of the shadows and he studied her face in silence. Her eyes were swollen and red and it looked as though she had been crying.
“Things not go all that well?” he asked innocently. He remembered, of course.
“You set that whole thing up!”
“I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.”
He sighed. “Come on, let’s go to breakfast, I’m starved, and we’re going to be late for Potions if we don’t hurry. We’ll talk about it after. I promise.”
She looked reluctant but let him pull her out of the common room and all the way to the Great Hall. Draco sat beside her and both were unusually silent as they ate, and both were far more aware of the Gryffindor table. It was loud and jovial as usual, as opposed to Ravenclaw’s dignified quiet discussions, Hufflepuff’s laughter, and Slytherin’s aloof, sneering disgust with the entire affair. The only ones who were not acting normally were Potter and the two Weasleys. Potter was staring with disgust at his plate, looking sick, most likely hung over, and the Weasel was staring off into space thoughtfully and kept darting furtive glances at Pansy. The Weasley girl was obviously feeling the effects of the whiskey in the punch.
“Quite nasty of them to make us go to class the night after the Ball, isn’t it?” Draco asked Pansy, who shrugged morosely and continued pushing her porridge around.
Draco sighed. “Listen, Pansy, surely it wasn’t that bad.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” She stood up quickly, and instantly, Weasley’s eyes snapped up to watch her. Pansy didn’t notice. “I’m going to Potions, I’ve got to finish up my assignment before class starts.”
“I’ve already done mine, do you want some help?” Oddly, he felt as if he had to make something up to her, though he wasn’t sure what. She hadn’t even told him what had happened the night before. And besides, he didn’t want to be near Potter any longer than necessary, until he sorted out just how he was going to tell him off for the night before. It had been Potter’s fault, of course. There was a reason Draco never drank in public. It made him too nice. He hated being nice.
“Sure, if you want,” she said with a shrug. “Let’s go then.”
They walked to Potions together, taking a seat in the back near the wall, and Draco helped her quickly scribble the last few answers to the questions they’d been given the day before. Class began to fill up and it was only a few moments before it was due to begin when Potter, Weasley, and Granger walked in together. Granger led the way to their usual table and Harry made to follow, with a nervous glance at Draco. Weasley, however, with a set and determined look on his face, strode right over to Draco’s table, standing in front of Pansy.
She looked up at him in stony silence.
“I need to talk to you,” Weasley said.
“Go away. You’re blocking my view,” she snapped.
“There’s nothing to see,” he replied easily.
Draco watched him through his eyelashes, smirking a little. Then, in an unprecedented move that drew shocked whispers from the entire class that had all started gawking when Weasley had first came over, Draco gathered his things and stood up. “Take my seat,” he said lazily, smirking again.
Weasley blinked in surprise and Pansy hissed. Before she could grab Draco and force him to sit back down, however, Weasley slid into the newly abandoned seat, trapping Pansy against the wall.
The only available seat in the room was right next to Potter, and Draco rolled his eyes. “Figures. I thought we were trying to prove that fate doesn’t exist,” he mumbled, slipping into the seat. Before he could begin lecturing Potter, Snape arrived and class began with a lecture on Fraicher Potion. A complex mixture of exact quantities of the blood of Grimloires, the scream of a Hippocampen (which solidified upon touching frozen granite), and three split hairs of a barnyard pig from Arkansas, it was the only known cure for the deadly rash left by contact with dried phoenix guano. Another lesson in what was proving to be a long, boring phoenix unit.
They were given an assignment to work on for the last ten minutes of class, and no one at Draco’s table said a word. Granger kept glaring at him, and Potter was steadily ignoring him, working on his scroll. His hands were stained in an ink Draco recognized. It was the ink he’d made and left in the hollow.
“You should wash your hands, Potter,” he drawled.
Potter jumped a little, dropping his quill and inspecting his hands. There was a bright red flush high on his cheekbones. “I didn’t have time,” he said, shyly. “After breakfast, I mean.”
Draco grinned and would have delighted in teasing him more, if only to see how bright he could make Potter’s blush grow, except Granger chose that moment to say rather stiffly, “Honestly, Malfoy, I’m trying to work. Do shut your mouth. Besides, I happen to know that Harry’s personal hygiene is no business of yours.”
Potter shot her a glare and Draco nearly laughed out loud at it. It was oddly endearing, the way his face had just gone a thousand times brighter.
“Oh, by the way,” Draco said silkily, causing Granger to look up suspiciously and Harry to slowly go very pale. “About last night…”
“Malfoy, not now,” Harry hissed.
“Last night? What about last night? Harry, you were gone for a long time, you never came back, where were you?” She glanced from Draco to Potter and back again, her eyes very narrow.
Potter seemed to be trying to shut Draco up with his eyes, begging him not to say anything, and Draco gave in with an amused smirk. “Well, if his hygiene is none of my business, Granger, I’d say the way he spends his nights is certainly none of yours.”
He had no time to say anything more, however, because class ended and, just as it did, Pansy started shouting.
“I don’t want to listen to you, you stupid Gryffindor bastard!” she cried, standing up so quickly that her chair nearly fell over. “Leave me alone!”
Weasley was looking rather stricken but Pansy didn’t seem to care. She swept her things off the table and flounced out of the room, and Draco rolled his eyes. “Nice, Pansy. That was graceful,” he mumbled, and Potter shot him a sideways glance and smiled.
“Oh, shut up!” Draco snapped. “Go talk to Weasley, he looks like he’s about to die of humiliation. I’ll talk to her.”
He walked away, but not before he heard Granger hiss, “Harry, did he just talk to you? What did he say?”
Pansy’s fury lasted all the way to DADA, and then, just outside the classroom, she burst into tears.
“Bloody hell, Pansy,” Draco said firmly, grabbing her arm and tugging her away from the Ravenclaws who were staring at her from inside the classroom. “Not in public.”
“But Draco!” she wailed. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me!”
“What do you mean?” he pulled her inside an empty classroom.
“I hate him!”
“I thought you liked him!”
She shot him a baleful glare through tear-spiked lashes. “You didn’t hear his voice when he found out it was me.”
“What did he say?”
“Well, nothing. But it wasn’t what he said but how he said it!”
“But he didn’t say anything!”
“But he said it so disgustedly!”
Draco took a deep breath. “Pansy. He may have been a little surprised, but if you like him, you’ll give him a chance to explain.”
“All he wants to explain is that he never should have kissed me to begin with and that he hates me,” she mumbled.
Draco rolled his eyes. “Not even Gryffindors would go through all this trouble for that.”
“What am I supposed to do?”
“Talk to him.”
She thought for a moment. “What if he laughs at me?”
“You’re a Slytherin. If he laughs at you, the rest of us will tear him apart.”
She laughed. “That would lose us house points.”
He shrugged, “Doesn’t matter. Come on, we’ve got to get to class.”
Pansy nodded and followed him out of the empty room. The lesson had already started and they lost twenty house points for being late, but at least Pansy didn’t snivel all through the rest of the class, and Draco figured he had done the professor a favor.
“Well,” Hermione said, in that voice of hers that implied she knew what was best and Ron had better listen to her better judgment. “It isn’t as if you really liked her, after all, Ron, is it? I mean, just because someone locked you two in a tower and you were forced to cooperate does not mean that you two should… should go steady, does it?”
Harry rolled his eyes, taking a bite of pudding. It was lunchtime, and Ron had been moping about Pansy’s rejection all morning. The only bright spot in Harry’s day so far was that she had stopped asking about the night before and what Malfoy had been referring to. “What if he does like her?”
Hermione shot him a quick glare. “It’s not about that,” she said, “because he doesn’t. Do you, Ron?”
Ron scowled. “It doesn’t matter whether I do or not, does it? She hates me!”
Hermione patted his shoulder and said brightly, “There, there, Ron, no use going on about it. After all, she is a Slytherin, and we all know what they’re good for!”
Both Ron and Harry looked blank. “Snogging senseless?” Harry suggested.
Hermione started to choke on the pumpkin juice she’d just sipped. “What? Harry, what? I meant that they were good for nothing! Don’t tell me you’ve decided to start snogging Slytherins in forgotten towers, please, don’t say it!”
Harry’s eyes widened. “Oh. Oh. Me? No! Of course not! I was talking about Ron! Because, err, he obviously enjoyed snogging Pansy and…umm… I was thinking it must have been…fun.” He cleared his throat and then finished defiantly, “Besides, Hermione! Who on earth would I have been snogging? I’m far too busy with Quidditch and stuff.”
“Well,” she said suspiciously. “There is the matter of you sneaking out alone to go who knows where in the middle of the night, and Malfoy…what was he going on about? Maybe that Invisibility Cloak of yours is supposed to be a big secret, but I’ve been under it enough times to know it exists, Harry Potter, and you haven’t fooled me. Where do you go at night? And why are you always late for classes?”
Mention of the cloak nearly made Harry choke, but before he could stammer a reply, he noticed that Ron had gone strangely silent, and that the red-haired boy kept darting furtive glances at the Slytherin table. Harry glanced over his shoulder and instantly knew why. Draco and Pansy had arrived, late, and were now having a heated argument. He couldn’t hear what they were saying, however, because even in the midst of an argument, a Slytherin never raised their voice. It was an unwritten rule and should a Slytherin ever take the time to shout, everyone would take immediate notice.
Harry turned back to Ron, feeling badly suddenly because his friend’s face was glowing bright red and he looked miserable. “Hey,” he said. “Want to go flying before next class? I’ll let you use my broomstick.”
Hermione hissed. “You’ll both be late for class and you know it! Harry, that’s ridiculous, we’ve only got ten minutes left and it’ll take you that long to get your broom!”
Ron ignored her. “D’you think she likes him?”
“Who?” Harry asked.
Harry snorted. “No. I told you, she likes you… she’s just doing it in a very… Slytherin fashion.”
“By pretending she hates me?”
Harry shrugged. “Apparently that’s how Slytherins show their affection. C’mon, let’s go fly or something. Play chess. Anything. Coming, Hermione?”
She shook her head even as Ron stood to follow Harry out of the Hall. “Still hungry,” she said, waving them away. “Don’t be late for class, though.”
Harry rolled his eyes and he and Ron started for the door. They were nearly there, when suddenly, Pansy shouted, “Oi! Ron!”
He froze and the Hall went silent. The unthinkable had happened; a Slytherin had raised her voice. They were all staring at her in shock, and Ron turned slowly, defensively. Pansy shot Draco a furious look, hissed something to which he shrugged lazily and smirked, and then came towards them, walking like a woman on a mission.
When she was close enough, Ron opened his mouth to speak but he never got the chance. Pansy glanced over her shoulder at all the people watching in fascination, pressed her hand to Ron’s chest, shoved him against the door, and kissed him hard.
“There,” she called to Draco, once again shouting. “Never call me chicken again, Draco Malfoy!” She turned back to Ron, who was looking rather faint, and smiled like a cat. “I’m sorry. He said that the only reason I ran yesterday was that I was scared.”
“Were you?” Ron asked shakily.
Just to prove that she wasn’t, she kissed him again.
“Weasley! Parkinson! There will be no copulating against School Property, and I assure you, those doors belong to Hogwarts!” McGonagall shouted from the teachers’ table. Pansy smiled challengingly at Ron and walked away, leaving him holding onto the door handle for balance and trying, unsuccessfully, to catch his breath.
“Told you,” Harry said mildly, glancing back at the Slytherin table where Malfoy was watching him with a smug little grin. “It’s just the way Slytherins show affection.”
Harry only realized that Ginny was purposely avoiding him after class, when he walked into the common room. She squeaked, picked up all her things as quickly as she could, and took off to her own room.
“What’s with her?” Harry asked Hermione.
She glared at him. “I heard about what you did to her last night, at the ball, Harry. That’s horrible! Taking advantage of her like that!”
For a moment, Harry couldn’t remember what he’d done. Then he gasped. He had, after all, left her waiting by the punch table for him. He’d forgotten to go back, feeling too sick and weak. It was lucky for him that Draco had taken care of her for him! “Oh, I didn’t mean to!” he cried. “Does she hate me?” Which, he decided ruefully, wouldn’t be all that bad. He just didn’t like her like that. He had tried, Merlin knew, he had tried.
“Of course not. But you had better apologize to her, and hope you do it before she gets over her humiliation and tells Ron. He might just kill you.”
Surely being killed was too harsh for simply abandoning her at the ball. However, Harry forgot about the entire thing a short while later, as he snuck away and made his way to the hollow. Malfoy had left a short, smug little message and Harry laughed as he read it. “You realize now that you’re going to have to deal with her shagging in your dorm room every night before bed, don’t you, Potter?”
He snickered to himself a little and replied, “Trust me, Malfoy, if there is one thing that Ron won’t do before I do, it’s lose his virginity. It’s just unthinkable. His mother would kill him. Harry reread that and his eyes widened. He scribbled it out furiously, until not a word was legible, because if there was one fact he wanted to keep from Malfoy, it was that he was a virgin. After all, Malfoy had no problems making him feel inferior without bits of knowledge like that!
Before he had time to write anything else, he heard someone shouting his name and dropped the notebook in surprise. Swearing softly to himself, he crammed it back into the hollow with the quill and the ink and hurried towards the voice. It was Ron, who had just raised his cupped hands up to his face to shout again. When he saw Harry running out of the trees, he waved.
“What?” Harry panted, his guilt intensifying. Somehow whatever this thing with Malfoy and the journal was, it seemed a thousand times more wrong when he was directly confronted with the fact that he was keeping it from Ron.
“Hermione said you’d come outside, I figured you’d be practicing Quidditch or something, what were you doing?”
“I— walking. Why?”
Ron’s face was lightly dusted in a blush. “I was talking to Pansy after class and she got a special pass to go to Hogsmeade, she thinks we should go. Me and Her. And I wanted to know if you wanted to come.”
Harry frowned. “Ron, if it’s supposed to be you and her…”
He shrugged. “But what if… if it’s just a joke? Just pretend? You know? She could be making a fool out of me.”
Harry sighed. “Ron, she’s not. Trust me. Go with her, for the love of Merlin, just go with her.”
Ron shrugged. “But Harry, what if—”
He laughed. “Alright, alright, I’ll go.”
They walked back to Hogwarts together in silence, Harry still feeling uneasily guilty.
Ron and Pansy went to Hogsmeade together that night, and Hermione was at the library studying, and Harry quickly became bored and a little lonely. Rather than sit in the common room playing games with Seamus and Dean, waiting for Ginny to show up so that he could apologize for abandoning her the night before, Harry decided to go visit Hermione at the library.
She was bent over her book, but apparently not that absorbed in it, because as soon as he came in, her head snapped up. “Wonderful thing you’ve done, Harry,” she said sarcastically.
“Ron! I haven’t seen him all day, he’s with Pansy.”
“They’re getting along, then?” he asked with a grin.
“Getting along? Do you realize what you’ve done? Now he’ll never be around! Never! His grades will be affected, we’ll never get to see him, she’ll corrupt him with her Slytherinness, and it’ll be all your fault!” She seemed as if she were fighting tears.
“Hermione, c’mon, it’s not that bad! You should be happy for him.”
“Happy? How can I be happy?” she cried. “My best friend is—”
Her shoulders slumped. “But how can he be happy if he’s not with me— I mean, not with us?”
“Ah.” Harry sat down beside her. “Hermione.”
She glared at him. “What?”
“You don’t like Ron, do you?”
She blinked; then she laughed. It sounded rather brittle. “Of course not! Not like that.”
“Trust me, Harry, I don’t want to talk about it.”
Harry decided to let the topic drop and searched for another. He glanced around. The library, which was usually quite empty, was rather busy, with six other people studying in pairs or alone. Harry was surprised to see Malfoy sitting alone at the back, a large text Harry recognized as the very same one he used for Divination open on the desk in front of him. He was scowling furiously, his forehead creased with concentration, and wasn’t even aware that Harry had entered the library.
“Isn’t it strange? I never thought I’d see that in a thousand years,” she hissed, following his gaze.
“He’s studying,” Harry said with a shrug. “Surely even Malfoy studies.”
“I’ve never seen him in the library before,” she argued.
“Who honestly cares? Aren’t you supposed to be writing an essay? What is it about?”
“A comparison of Quidditch and football for Muggle Studies. Help me research it?” She rolled her eyes. “It’s boring. Quidditch is all well and good to watch, but I don’t like reading about it.”
“Well, that’s strange,” he teased. “Generally you like reading about everything.”
She glared at him and pushed some books over for him to read through, and they worked together in silence for a while.
Finally, frustrated beyond all comprehension, Hermione slammed her book shut. “I’ll finish tomorrow,” she said with a scowl. “I’m going to the common room, are you coming?”
“Uhh, I think I’ll just finish this book first,” he said distractedly.
Eyes narrowing with suspicion, Hermione snatched the book away. “Cutting Edge Quidditch: A Biography of Puddlemere? Harry, how was this going to help me with my essay?”
“Puddlemere has lots of social relevance!” he argued in a hushed voice.
“Whatever,” she snapped, looking cross. “I’m going.”
She left, and Harry glanced around, still a little disoriented, and nearly everyone who’d been there before was still there, including Malfoy. Moments later, without even thinking about it, Harry was out of his chair and standing over him, Quidditch book forgotten on the table.
Draco looked up, startled. “Oh. You.” He scowled. He looked as frustrated as Hermione had, so Harry didn’t take it personally. After so many years of being Hermione’s friend, he’d gotten used to being snapped at when homework wasn’t going well.
He smiled. “Yeah. Nice to see you too. Where… where did you go? Last night, I mean. I remember you were there, and then you weren’t when I woke up.”
Draco marked his place in the book and considered for a moment. Finally, he shrugged. “I woke up just before dawn and had to get ready for class,” he said. “Besides, it would have been awkward. Oh, and by the way, I blame that entire fiasco on you, and if you ever, ever so much as breathe one word about that bloody tent, I swear, Potter, you’ll regret it.”
Harry laughed. “My fault? If that’s what you want to believe. It was your whiskey.”
“Yeah, well, nothing happened, so it’s alright.”
It was silent for a while, and Harry tilted his head thoughtfully. “What…just what could have happened that didn’t?” he asked, puzzled.
Draco glanced up at him, rolled his eyes and mumbled, “Mmm. If you don’t know, Potter, I’m certainly not going to inform you.” He turned back to his book, and Harry read over his shoulder, recognizing the page as one he’d studied the week before, on advanced palmistry. Draco’s one finger was tracing the lines as he read them over to himself, the other flat on the desk as he studied it, trying to make sense of it.
“That’s the head line,” Harry told him.
Draco scowled up at him. “What?”
“You’re on the page about heart lines only you keep tracing your head line. That’s why it’s not making sense.”
Draco glanced back at his hand and scowled again. “How am I supposed to know the difference?”
“That’s what we learned in basic palmistry,” Harry said with a grin. He grabbed a chair, spun it around, and straddled it. “Let me show you.”
Draco looked up at him, shrugged, and said, “Whatever. We already slept together, I can’t see how palm reading could get any weirder.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “Slept together?!” he yelped. “We didn’t! Sleeping with and sleeping beside are completely different!”
“Either way. It was a good thing I did leave before you woke up, because sleeping next to you was bad enough! I can only imagine how horrid it would have been, waking up next to you.”
Harry’s mouth opened as he struggled to think up a reply, and then he slowly closed it, at a complete loss. Draco nodded curtly, and held out his hand. “I’m glad we worked that out, we can forget it ever happened,” he said stiffly. “You may read my palm now.”
Seeming to have trouble meeting Draco’s eyes, Harry cleared his throat and took his hand. “R-Right then. It’s not so hard.” He turned it palm up, and flattening it with his other hand. With his finger, he traced the different areas, naming the fingers, the mounds, and the lines. Draco listened, more interested in the strange feeling of Harry’s finger brushing lightly along his palm. It made him shiver. Almost like waking up with Harry’s head on his lap had—but then, thinking about that was hardly accomplishing the goal of forgetting it ever happened.
Harry paused suddenly. “What is that?” he asked, pointing to Draco’s fingertips, which were all stained red.
Draco grimaced. “Cherries,” he said with a shrug. “I was eating cherries.”
“Where on earth did you get cherries? You’re not allowed to eat in the library!”
Draco grabbed the bowl of cherries that he’d hidden under a book. “Father grows them, do you want one?”
“Grows them? In winter?”
“In a greenhouse. They’re quite lovely. Pitless. It took him years to develop the proper hybrids to grow that way.”
Harry studied the bowl of cherries for a moment in silence. Eat Lucius Malfoy’s cherries? In the library? It just didn’t seem right.
However, he took one, popping it into his mouth and biting it. It burst against his tongue, sending a rush of sugary sweet liquid running down his throat. “Mmm,” he said, just because Draco was watching his face carefully for a reaction. Harry wasn’t really a fan of cherries.
Nodding with satisfaction, Draco slipped the bowl back under his Arithmancy book so that Madam Pince wouldn’t confiscate them. Then, he glanced back at his hand. “I thought you were going to read my palm, not just name all the lines and stuff.”
“What? You want me to actually read it?”
“C’mon, I’ve got to have a whole essay on my palm done for Monday and I can’t even remember the names of all those horrid mounds, and you just told me!”
“Malfoy, honestly, what’s in it for me? Another lecture on how we should forget it ever happened and that I’m totally to blame? That’s all I seem to get every time we do anything, and I can only imagine how personally you’d take it if I actually touched you.”
“I’ll take responsibility for it this time,” Draco said magnanimously. Harry didn’t look impressed, so he added quickly, “And I’ll read yours afterwards.”
“Oh, come on, you just admitted that you can’t do it!”
“Not that I can’t! That I don’t want to apply myself to learning how. Why bother, when you already know how and you’re sitting right here?”
“Why not just make it up?”
“Well… You do owe me, you know, after last night.”
Harry snorted. “It was your whiskey!”
“But still. The fact remains that you owe me and I don’t want to waste my time coming up with lies, so you may as well just do it. I want to find out what evil things my palm has to say about me. Surely you’re interested?” He certainly didn’t sound evil, pleading that way, even if there was a strange wicked gleam in his eyes, and Harry was about to give in when he said, “I’ll let you have more cherries, I’ve got lots.”
Though he didn’t much like them, Harry shrugged. “Fine then, give me your hands, both of them.”
Draco happily held his hands out to Harry, who bent low over them, studying them in the dim light. “You had to pick the darkest corner of the library, didn’t you?” he grumbled, and Draco shrugged.
Harry started with the fingers, running his thumb down the length of Draco’s little finger, testing its firmness, the angle at which it jutted away from his ring finger, and the shape of the nail. Then he glanced back at the textbook and cleared his throat rather loudly. Draco was worried. He jerked his hand away and held it up to the light, studying the littlest finger doubtfully.
“It says I’m going to die, doesn’t it?” he asked, still doubtful.
“Erm, not exactly.”
Harry pulled the book closer and read out loud. “When the little finger is straight, long, and leaning out to the side away from the ring finger, it indicates that you are not bound by conformity, new ideas and strange behaviors excite you and… erm, you may find yourself exorcising the extra passions aroused by such excitements on the kitchen table or some other such unorthodox location.”
Draco’s eyes widened. “It doesn’t say that! School books can’t say things like that!” he whispered, sounding scandalized, pulling the book towards him and rereading it silently. “…Oh. It does.”
Harry snickered and grabbed Draco’s hands again. “Long fingers,” he mumbled, checking the book again. He didn’t release Draco’s hands this time, and Draco watched him as he scanned the pages, though he didn’t read this bit out loud, promising to tell him everything when he’d finished.
It was quiet for a while, and Draco studied Harry while he bent over his hands, tracing out every contour and line with gentle brushes of his fingers. It was incredibly intimate, mostly because Draco didn’t know what secrets about him Harry could be learning, and also because he’d never been this close to Harry before. Close enough to see the very, very faint freckles just under his eyes that probably didn’t count as freckles at all, they were so pale and barely noticeable. Close enough to see the way his throat moved when he swallowed and the way the tip of his tongue traced his lower lip when he was concentrating.
Draco found his own tongue mirroring the motion and, a little disturbed, he sought to distract himself, grabbing a cherry and slipping it in his mouth.
Harry glanced up and scowled, snatching his hands back. “Don’t move,” he snapped.
“I wanted a cherry,” Draco said with an easy shrug.
“Well, wait until I’m done.”
“You’re taking forever.”
“You have the most sexual hands I’ve ever seen.” He said it in an absent, distracted tone, and Draco studied his hands in admiration.
“They are quite lovely, aren’t they?”
Harry looked up again, rolling his eyes. “Stop distracting me.”
Draco had by now sucked all of the juice out of the cherry in his mouth and he swallowed the rest, gazing wistfully at the bowl.
“I want another cherry.”
“Wait until I’m done, I said,” Harry said absently, tracing Draco’s lifeline again and calculating the angle it made with his headline.
Draco tugged at his hands and Harry tightened his grip, his lips compressing in irritation. Without even glancing up, he reached over, grabbed a cherry, and brought it to Draco’s lips. Surprised, Draco opened his mouth, letting Harry push it inside.
“There. Stop squirming.”
Oddly enough, Draco now felt the need to squirm more than ever.
He tilted his head to the side, watched Harry mumble quietly to himself, and bit the cherry absently. Bittersweet liquid exploded in his mouth and he grimaced, swallowing quickly. “That one wasn’t good, give me another.”
Harry snorted, but still reached for a cherry, though he, again, didn’t look up. Not used to being so blatantly ignored, even if Harry was feeding him and studying his hands like his life depended on it, Draco instinctively decided to get Harry’s attention. Rather than letting him put the cherry in Draco’s mouth, he pulled it out of Harry’s grip with his tongue.
Harry’s head snapped up, his eyes narrowing, but Draco turned his head, studying the textbook with an angelic and innocent look on his face. “So, find anything interesting yet?” he asked brightly.
“Erm, what? Oh. I’m not done. Almost.”
Draco nodded, rolling the cherry across his tongue absently, and watching Harry as he, again, tilted Draco’s hands into the light.
This time, Draco didn’t even have to ask. As soon as he swallowed, Harry picked up another cherry and held it to his lips, glancing up with a smirk. He bit it quickly, and a bit of juice stained his lips.
“Slob,” Harry teased, running his finger along Draco’s lower lip. Draco’s eyes widened at his touch, and before he could think about it, or the strange humming feeling in his blood and skin, he pulled Harry’s finger into his mouth, sucking lightly and wrapping his tongue around it.
Harry’s eyes widened and he flushed, his hand, the one that held Draco’s, went limp. His breathing had become rather labored, and Draco lazily ran the tip of his tongue along the length of Harry’s finger, licking off the last drop of cherry juice.
Without a word, Harry gently pulled his finger from Draco’s mouth and, clearing his throat, picked Draco’s hands up again.
“I’m nearly finished,” he said, voice soft and husky.
“Mmm. Then I can do you,” Draco said, distracted and still trying to figure what, exactly, he was doing.
“What?” Harry’s head snapped back up.
“Your hand,” Draco clarified, rolling his eyes. “I can try to read your hands. That was the deal, remember?”
“That, and cherries,” Harry mumbled, shifting awkwardly. “You said you’d give me cherries.”
Draco smiled rather wolfishly. “I will, Potter,” he said. “As soon as you finish inspecting my gorgeously sexual hands.”
“I’m finished.” Harry dropped his hands again, almost as if they burned. There was an intense flush on his face.
“It’s very sexual.”
Draco only smiled in reply, and Harry sighed. “Your heart line is long and curvy and ends between the second and third fingers, indicating a tendency to freely release all emotions and passion that are normally supposed to be controlled and restrained by the head. You live by the philosophy, “If it feels good, do it, and do it now”. You’re well balanced in pleasing yourself and your partner. You’re very moody and never dull. The lower mound on your hand is larger than the others and it means you’re very physically aware and you thrive on touching and… umm, sensual pleasures. Pleasuring your body is, umm, a primary…need. You should get a job in a massage parlour. Or as a professional whore, but that’s just me speaking there.” He laughed nervously, and watched with wide eyes as Draco picked up a cherry, slipped it into his mouth, and sucked it thoughtfully.
“I already knew all that,” he said finally. “What else?”
“Well, the colour of your hands indicate that you like ‘meshing all parts of your body, mind and spirit during sexual stimulation’. And that’s about it, really.” He shifted nervously.
“Lovely,” Draco drawled, rolling a cherry between his fingers. “Good job, Potter, here,” he held the cherry to Harry’s lips and it took him a startled moment to remember how to work his jaw muscles.
Warm cherry juice ran down his throat, and he licked his lips. They weren’t as bad as he remembered, cherries.
Draco took his hand and stared at it rather blankly for a moment. He glanced at the book a few times, back at Harry’s hand, and then at the bowl of cherries. He grabbed one, shoved it in his mouth, and sucked it thoughtfully as he struggled to remember which was the heartline and which was the headline.
Harry opened his mouth to help him, and Draco anticipated it, shoving a cherry past Harry’s lips before he could say a word. Making a surprised sound in the back of his throat, Harry chewed the cherry, and Draco turned back to his palm.
“All these lines,” he said, tracing them. Harry’s palm was rough from his broomstick. “The horizontal ones. I think they mean…” He glanced at the book and read out loud, “Decisions are made with the heart and sentimentality rules over logic.”
“So not true!” Harry cried. The other people in the library shot him a glare, and he repeated, more quietly, “That’s not true.”
Draco smirked. There were only three cherries left, and he ate one quickly, and lifted the other to Harry’s mouth. Harry took it with his tongue, quickly, and ate it just as fast.
“Not true,” he mumbled again.
“You don’t know how to eat a cherry,” Draco said in exasperation. “You’re not supposed to just swallow it! You’re supposed to suck it. To get all the flavour out.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Why does it matter?”
“It just does. Here, there’s one left, do it right this time.”
“How?” Despite himself, Harry was curious. Maybe there was a reason he’d never liked cherries. He’d been eating them wrong.
“Make it last as long as you can.” He held the last cherry up, and Harry glanced from Draco’s challenging eyes to the cherry and back again.
He’d never backed down from a challenge before, and he wasn’t about to start now.
Aware that the other people in the library could glance over at any moment and see him eating berries from Malfoy’s hand, Harry licked the berry first, brushing Draco’s fingers with the tip of his tongue. Draco sat up a little straighter, his breath catching, and Harry suddenly realized he had a bit of power over him, as strange and alien as that power was.
Draco was feeling the same things Harry had felt when Draco had licked his fingers.
Armed with that knowledge, and determined to prove to Draco that he was much better at eating cherries despite his lack of experience, Harry nibbled the cherry a little, delicately, while Draco still held it. It made a terrible mess, juice staining Draco’s hand as Harry flicked his tongue again and again against Draco’s fingers and the cherry, lapping up the juice. Finally, he wrapped his tongue around the berry and pulled it into his mouth, swallowing it and glancing up at Draco triumphantly.
It wasn’t what he expected. Draco looked almost as if he had been hit by a train. His eyes were glazed, his breathing very heavy.
Harry grew worried. “I didn’t bite you, did I? I’m sorry, I —”
“I’ve got to go,” Draco said, standing up so suddenly, he nearly knocked his chair over. He gathered up his books and hurried out of the room before Harry could get over the shock of his abrupt departure.