- 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 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.
- Author's Note:
- To all of you who've been making guesses as to the nature of Harry's illness and the effects of the ink, you've finally got your answer. Well, half of it, at least. You don't expect that Draco's being totally honest, do you? He IS a Slytherin, after all...
Chapter SixAll seems so enigmatic to the core
Bringing all that you left and made leave
Seeming to bring the things you adore
Like air below water that needs to breathe
Shadows can only stretch so far
And the fear is nothing but blind
Deflective like the edge which left it's mark
But cut through ribbons in your mind.
--Imagine One Other, Donna Taylor
“So, what?” Harry asked, glancing up from the parchment. The library was dark except for a torch flickering on the wall beside the table, casting one side of Draco’s face in light, the other in shadow.
Draco looked back down at the parchment. “So?” he said. “The ground mendleroot plants react with the nettles and create a poultice that slows the spread of the poison,” he said. “It’s simple.”
Harry bit his lip and looked back down at the equation in Draco’s notes. It had been a week since he’d been assigned the essay, and, after the first day of attempting to organize Harry’s notes into something legible, Draco had decided that they were a lost cause. Far too messy, far too lacking. So he had brought his own after that; neat, orderly.
He wrinkled his nose. “Where do you see that?”
Draco sighed, standing up and walking to the other side of the table. He stood directly behind Harry, reached over his shoulder, and pointed to the first figure. “Mendleroot’s active substance is M2. M2 is added to this here,” he pointed, and Harry’s eyes followed the motion. “The result is MO3, which, when applied a wound infected with this particular poison, cancels the toxicity.”
Draco nodded, satisfied, and returned to his seat. He rested his elbow on the table, chin cupped in his hand, and watched while Harry, his finger where Draco’s had just been, worked through the equation again, his lips moving as he talked himself through it silently. Then he completed the paragraph he’d been writing on the subject carefully.
Finally, he nodded, glancing up at Draco. “I think Snape makes it up and makes it all as confusing as he can just because he likes to.”
Draco laughed. “No. It’s real. You didn’t think potions just worked totally on magic, did you? Even magic has rules. He’s just teaching us to manipulate the rules. That’s how new potions are created all the time, by people who memorize the rules and then break them. After all, you can’t break a rule if you don’t know the rule.”
Harry grinned, rolling his eyes. “Sure, whatever, I intent to make a fortune playing Quidditch.”
“Some of us aren’t so lucky,” Draco said with a smirk.
“Oh, shut up, you’re just as good as I am. The rest of your team is just rubbish, that’s all,” Harry said, matching Draco’s smirk.
“Better than you, even,” Draco drawled.
Harry snorted distractedly, flipping through a few more pages. “How am I supposed to write a essay on all of this when I don’t even remember learning it the first time?”
“That’s why I’m helping you.”
Harry, his fingers buried in his hair, glanced up at him. “You don’t have to, you know.”
“Can’t have the Boy-Who-Lived failing Potions,” Draco said easily, shrugging it off.
“No, really, why are you doing this?”
Draco met his eyes and held for a long moment, before he looked down at the parchment on the table. “I told you, Potter,” he said quietly.
“To make up for blaming me for the whiskey incident?” Harry suggested brightly.
“Umm, that was your fault.”
“To make up for being irrational in the library that night?”
“I believe I behaved quite rationally, thank you very much, and we said we’d never talk of those things again!” Draco snapped. “That’s not it either.”
“Nothing better to do,” Harry said dryly. “I remember.”
There was silence as Harry flipped through a few more pages, scanning Draco’s notes and growing more and more frustrated. Finally, he pushed the notes away and rested his forehead down on the table. “I can’t,” he mumbled. “My head is aching and I feel sick.”
Draco’s eyes narrowed and he slid the parchment over towards him, glancing at his notes. “It’s alright. Just remember that you left off at this page and we’ll take it up tomorrow night.” He watched Harry for a long moment, but Harry didn’t lift his head. Draco tilted his head to the side consideringly. “Potter. Potter, hey, you alright?”
Harry lifted his head and grimaced. “Fine. I just…” he shrugged, closing his eyes.
“Yeah.” Draco nodded slowly. If Potter thought he didn’t notice the pale cast to his face or the shaking of his hands, he was crazy. But it wasn’t for Draco to comment on. He was just there to teach him Potions, nothing more. “We can meet again tomorrow. It’s Saturday, all day long. Remember?”
Harry smiled, his eyes brightening. “Wow, you’ll really let me go early tonight?”
Draco, surprised at the sudden brightness in Harry’s face, laughed. “Are you implying that I never let you go early?”
Harry wrinkled his nose. “C’mon, admit it, Draco, you’d keep me up all night if it was up to you.”
Draco’s eyes widened and he swallowed a sudden thickness in this throat. “What?”
But Harry didn’t hear. He was already packing up his things, and when he glanced up, it was to smile again and say brightly, “But don’t think I’m not grateful for all your help, especially since you could get in trouble for this and all.”
“He never said I couldn’t help you, he only said the Gryffindors couldn’t,” Draco said, following Harry’s example and packing up his things, worriedly considering the strange thoughts Harry’s innocent words had sent shooting through his mind.
Harry stood up and swayed suddenly, squeezing his eyes shut, and Draco jumped to his feet, watching carefully. Catching his balance, Harry opened his eyes, startled to find Draco watching him so intently. “What?”
Sighing, Draco shook his head. “Nothing. So, tomorrow, in the South Tower, early.”
Harry nodded. They’d decided that, rather than risk Snape finding out about this and not seeing it quite the way Draco did, they’d only study together late at night in the library, or during the day in the South Tower, where no one ever went.
They walked out of the library together, quietly, and, at the door, Harry stumbled and Draco reached out instinctively, grabbing his arm. Harry swore softly under his breath and Draco slowly let go of him. Neither of them spoke, and Harry turned left, Draco right, walking away from each other.
He stopped himself from checking over his shoulder a thousand times to make sure Harry was alright, and each time the instinct came over him, he’d scowl and swear softly to himself. Finally, he paused at the corner and turned, calling out, “Are you alright, Potter?”
But Harry was already gone.
“Did you find anything?” Harry asked, slipping into his room and finding Ron waiting for him. “About what’s wrong with me?”
Ron’s eyes were very narrow. “Where were you?”
Harry blinked, startled. “Working, Ron, I told you I’d be at the library working on that ridiculous Potions thing.”
“Until this late? Harry, tell me the truth. Where were you?”
“Working. You don’t believe me?”
“It’s hard to say. Honestly, Harry, the way you’re running about so often these days, I don’t know what to believe.”
Harry slumped into bed, closing his eyes. “Ron, please, I’m exhausted, don’t do this now. Did you guys find out what’s happening to me?”
“Hermione looked for a bit but we haven’t found anything.” His voice was terse. “We’re going to look again tomorrow.”
“I’ll be working all day. Fun.” Harry pulled the blankets over his head.
Harry was the first to get to the tower before the crack of dawn the next morning. He had brought a blanket to sit on and a pillow, as well as his books, and by the time Draco got there twenty minutes later, Harry was curled up in his blanket, fast asleep, the pillow clutched to his chest, his head resting on his Potions book.
Draco smirked. “Potter. Hey, Potter. Wake up.” He nudged him with his toe, but Harry only mumbled in his sleep, his eyes staying shut.
Sitting beside him on the floor, Draco watched him for a long moment before sighing and nudging his shoulder. “You can’t absorb the knowledge, Potter,” he teased. “You’ve got to actually open the book.”
Finally, Harry’s eyes opened and he sat up, blinking sleepily. “Draco?”
“Bloody hell.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Didn’t mean to sleep.”
“I know.” Draco inspected his face silently, noting the black shadows under his eyes. “You look like shit.”
“Thank you,” Harry said dryly. He opened his book. “Let’s do this. I’m ready.”
“Mmm. Right then. We left off at Sleeping Potions.”
They studied until lunch, when Harry took a short break and they ate, drank, and talked about everything and nothing until the sandwiches were gone, and then Harry almost cheerfully went back to writing. He wouldn’t have said, of course, but the only reason Harry could stand all this writing, had the incentive for all this writing, was because of Draco and his patient teaching. It was almost worth hours of working just to see the brief nod and smile Draco would flash every time Harry managed to figure something out, flawlessly repeat the ingredients for a potion, or explain the difference between various different consistencies of sleeping draughts. He wouldn’t consider why it mattered, Draco’s smile, Draco’s approval. Because that really wasn’t the issue. The issue was that he was learning Potions and he couldn’t wait to see Snape’s face when he passed.
“What about this?” he asked, staring down at Draco’s notes with a frown. “We did this last month.”
Draco looked at it and scowled, flipping the pages quickly. “Not important,” he mumbled, not looking up. “Trust me. Not important.”
“But wasn’t that —”
“You don’t need to know about it!” Draco snapped, and Harry backed off.
“Alright, sorry,” he said with a scowl, glancing at the page Draco had turned to. “We’ll skip over to the phoenix stuff.”
An hour later, frustrated, aching, and feeling weaker than ever, Harry laid his forehead down on the book. He was lying on his stomach, Draco sitting nearby, and he was sick to death of Potions.
“Alright?” Draco asked, watching him.
“No. I can’t do this.”Draco came over, sitting beside him on the blanket Harry had brought, and quickly reading over the notes. “It’s easy.”
Draco snorted. “Give me a minute to show you. Trust me, it’s easy.”
“How do you know all of this?” Harry asked, propping his chin up on his hand and looking at Draco. “I mean, you know everything about Potions!”
“I learned it all this summer,” he said, lying down beside Harry.
“Nothing better to do.”
“Oh, you mean the rich and powerful Malfoys didn’t go off on vacation?” Harry teased.
Draco flinched and Harry frowned. Before he could ask, Draco looked back at the book. “None of your business, Potter. Back to work.”
“Fine, sorry,” Harry muttered, turning back to the book. With Draco lying right beside him, their arms pressed together, and Draco’s fingers moving through the information as he spoke, it came a lot easier to Harry, who now only had to focus on one thing. Before, paying attention to the notes, he’d been distracted by Draco.
Now Draco was close enough for his breath to brush Harry’s ear if he turned his head, and Harry lay his chin down on his folded arms, content to listen to every word Draco said.
Hours passed, and they lay like that together, flipping through the pages, Draco pausing every now and then to quiz him, tease him, or say something sarcastic, and Harry absorbed everything he said, not because he particularly cared about Potions, but because the sound of Draco’s voice, so close beside him, was sending shivers down his spine, and it was a rather pleasant, tingly feeling.
He closed his eyes and had nearly drifted off to sleep again when Draco said quietly, “Things change, Potter.”
He opened his eyes. “What?” he asked sleepily.
Draco blinked, looking surprised. “I thought you were asleep.”
“No,” Harry yawned. “I’m just tired. Haven’t been sleeping well.”
“I suspect I’ve got a cold,” Harry said with an easy shrug, not meeting Draco’s eyes. Instead, he stared down at his hands, frowning. They were still spotted with black ink.
Draco laid his hands over Harry’s, and Harry’s eyes flew wide at the contact. He jerked his head up, nearly smashing into Draco’s, who was watching him intently. “Harry,” he said. “It’s not a cold.”
Harry scowled. They were very close now, and Draco’s hands were still resting on top of his. Not a gesture of affection, they weren’t holding hands. Draco’s hands were just… there. “It’s a cold,” Harry said stubbornly. “How would you know?”
“You don’t sneeze or cough. You get dizzy and weak. It’s not a cold.”
“You sound just like Hermione,” Harry sneered. “She’s trying to force me to the hospital wing.”
“You won’t go?”
“I hate it there.”
Draco sighed. “Even I can tell you’re sick.”
“I’m not. Besides, like you care.” Harry darted a quick, nervous glance into Draco’s eyes, seeing them narrow. Was that worry? Annoyance? He couldn’t tell. “I’m alright, Draco. I am.” He licked his suddenly dry lips and saw Draco’s eyes flicker lower, studying them.
It was too much and he rolled away quickly, wondering why his entire body was tingling, why he was breathing quickly. Sitting up, with his back to Draco, Harry said shakily, “I’d better go. Ron and Hermione will worry.”
“Go on then, Potter,” Draco drawled, snapping the book shut. “Run away. It’s what you’re good at.”
Harry glanced over his shoulder with a scowl. “May I remind you, Draco, that you ran out of the library like you were scared to death?”
Draco scoffed. “You wouldn’t understand.”
“I might understand more than you’d care to think. I don’t know if I can study tomorrow.”
“Of course.” The same dry, vaguely amused tone.
Harry didn’t question why. He got to his feet, nodded once, and hurried from the tower room.
He was walking passed the Great Hall when Hermione came running out of it, shouting his name. “I’ve got it,” she cried. “Harry, we’ve been looking all over for you! I’ve found directions for a potion!”
“We’re at a magic school,” Harry snapped, feeling irritable. “It’s not that hard to find potion directions.”
“But I found one that’ll tell me whether or not there’s a spell on you to make you weak!”
She grabbed his arm and dragged him to Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom where a cauldron was bubbling. “It’s not a hard process. You lay really still and I sprinkle the potion over you and if there is a spell on you, it’ll show us!”
“Isn’t the potion boiling, Hermione? It’s going to burn!” Harry protested nervously.
“It cools the instant it’s off the fire, rather like molten metal, only faster,” she said. “The potion’s got to brew overnight, so it’ll be ready tomorrow morning. And then we’ll do the spell. Ron convinced Myrtle to go visit the mermaid in the prefect’s bathroom, so she won’t bother us. This potion will help narrow down what could be wrong with you. If it’s a spell, you’ve got to go directly to Dumbledore of course. It might be You-Know-Who… I’m nearly done with the potion now, I’ve just got to add the last ingredients.”
“We split up to search the castle for you.” She shot him a suddenly suspicious glare. “Thought you were studying, but you weren’t in the library…”
“Yeah. It was, umm, so crowded there, I went somewhere quieter.”
“Odd,” she said coldly. “It was empty when we went there.”
Harry cleared his throat. “Odd. I’d best go find Ron while you finish that up. Thanks, Hermione, for doing this.”
She sighed and smiled. “You’re my friend, Harry. I can’t just let you be ill without trying to help.”
He smiled at her and hurried out of the bathroom, relieved she’d let the topic drop.
Strange dreams of being lost in mazes in the middle of the blizzard haunted Harry that night, and he woke up hours before dawn because the worst headache he had ever felt drove him from sleep.
He opened his eyes and then closed them with a whimper, even the soft light of the stars too bright. The pain was so intense that nausea threatened and he lay very still for a long time, breathing through his nose. The pain only started to ebb as the sun started coming up, and even then, it was still intense.
Hermione had made him a few headache potions the night before, and he fumbled in his trunk, pulling one of them out and downing it quickly. It dulled the pain but did not take it away entirely, but with the edge softened, he was able to take stock of the rest of his body. He felt weaker than ever, and he itched, like a thousand insects were inside his skin.
He stood up, losing his balance, and leaning over the trunk, his hands flat on the top. The red leaf from the journal was there, tucked under the buckle and still crimson red. He stared at it until the dark spots stopped dancing before his eyes.
Taking a deep breath, he straightened to find Ron watching worriedly from his bed.
“Better do the spell,” he said solemnly.
“Lay still,” Hermione said quietly, taking Harry’s hands and flattening them, palm up, on the floor of Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. She frowned and picked one hand up, studying it. “Harry, Malfoy was right.”
Harry’s eyes flew open. “What?”
“Your hands. They’ve got ink all over.” Hermione traced the streaks of black.
“Harry’s always been a messy writer,” Ron said defensively. “He didn’t grow up writing with a quill, you know.”
“Well, neither did I, and I manage to avoid getting it all over,” she said dismissively, dropping his hand. “Close your eyes, Harry.” He did, and she took a scoop full of potion. “I’m going to start with your feet and work my way up, sprinkling your face last. You shouldn’t feel anything, maybe a slight tingle. Are you ready?”
“Get on with it, Hermione,” Ron hissed nervously.
“I’m cold,” Harry whispered, shivering. He was covered in a cold sweat.
Hermione glanced over at Ron worriedly and then said soothingly, “You’ll be fine, Harry, we’ll help you.”
She started sprinkling at his feet, biting her lip and watching the clear liquid sprinkle down on him. As soon as the liquid touched him, it glowed a faint, green colour. “There’s a spell,” she whispered. “It’s all over him.”
Harry moaned softly. “My head,” he whimpered.
“Keep sprinkling,” Ron said grimly. “It’ll show us where it’s worse, won’t it?”
“If it’s green here, it’s probably all over,” she said.
“Just to see,” Ron insisted.
Hermione sprinkled all the way up his body to his face, and then down his arms. At his hands, she dropped the large spoon. It hit the ground and slid under the sink with a clatter. “Ohhh…” she breathed.
Harry’s eyes flew open. “What?”
“Your… Harry, your hands.”
“What is it? Look, there’s a bit on his mouth, too.” Ron gasped, staring.
Harry lifted his hands, his eyes widening. A bright, luminescent green covered them, reflecting off his glasses. Underneath the light, he could see the black ink spots, staining his skin. “The ink…” he hissed, feeling as if someone dropped ice into his stomach. “It was the ink.”
“What? Harry, what?” Hermione asked, chewing on her lip. “What ink?”
“Nothing. Nothing, I’ve got to… I’m feeling much better…” He got to his feet and stumbled from the bathroom, hands still an eerie green, though it was fading fast as the potion dried.
“Should we let him go?” Ron asked worriedly.
“We’ve got to tell someone,” Hermione cried.
“No, you know Harry hates that! We’ve got to find out what’s wrong with him. Research. We can help him, can’t we?”
“Of course. We’d better go to the library.” She pushed the cauldron under the sink, where she’d already set up wards to hide it, and they hurried out of the bathroom together.
He stopped, narrowing his eyes and turning slowly. “Ginny, now is not a good time.”
Her eyes were dark with determination and she said, “No, Harry. Hermione says that fretting over Halloween is worthless and I should just confront you, and that’s what I’m doing.”
His headache got a thousand times worse in a heartbeat. “Ginny, listen, I’m sorry about ditching you —”
“You can’t just kiss someone and touch them everywhere you touched me, Harry,” she hissed, pushing him against the wall. It wasn’t hard; he was very weak. “There will always be consequences, Harry. You can’t just play around with me.”
“Ginny, what are you talking about? I didn’t — I can’t… please, I can’t do this now.” He was breathing heavily and felt as if he were about to pass out. The only things holding him up were Ginny and the wall.
“It was so humiliating,” she cried. “First letting you kiss me like that and touch me and then… I was so drunk…”
Harry’s eyes narrowed. “I never… Oh, fuck. Ginny, it… I’m sorry. About that. Trust me, you’ll never know how much.” He pushed her aside gently and she suddenly noticed his pale face and glazed eyes.
“Harry, are you…” she stepped back, and he smiled distractedly.
“I’m fine,” he lied. “I’m sorry about everything, Ginny.”
“I— Wait! Where are you going?”
He waved vaguely over his shoulder and turned the corner, leaving her behind. Fury was giving him strength he hadn’t had before. It had all been a joke. Draco had been playing with him, laughing at him, behind his back. With Ginny, and the ink…
He made it to his common room and pulled out Draco’s Potions notes, flipping through them quickly. He scowled grimly moments later and tossed them aside, leaving the room again. It was breakfast time now, and he went into the Great Hall, stalking over to the Slytherin table where Draco was sitting with Blaise.
“Malfoy,” he snarled, and Draco jerked with surprise, standing up.
“Potter,” he said quietly, eyes narrowed. “What are you doing?”
“We need to talk.”
“I can’t think of anything of importance we have to discuss,” Draco said, aware of the entire Hall watching.
His eyes narrowed, and Draco studied Harry’s flushed face. “You’re not well,” he said too quietly for anyone to hear.
“We need to talk.”
“Alright! Calm down. Let’s go.” Without another word, Draco took him by the arm and pulled him from the Hall and out the front doors, where no one would be able to hear them.
It was snowing heavily and, a few steps away from the castle, the snow obscured it from vision, and it was like they were in another world. Still, Draco tugged Harry farther from the castle, into the hollow. There, he stopped, spinning around.
“What is it, then?” he asked, crossing his arms over his chest.
“It was you. You did something to Ginny the night of the Ball.”
“Is that what this is about?” He laughed scornfully. “It was fun. What more would you expect from me? Because we wrote in a stupid book a few times, I’m supposed to turn into Wonder Boy and never do anything just because I think it’s fun? I’m not you, Potter, and a few notes in a journal won’t ever change that.”
Harry had stopped listening. After all, Ginny wasn’t his main concern. The illness was making it hard to think, and he started scratching at his hands. “I should have known,” he growled. “I really should have.”
“Known what?” Draco asked, narrowing his eyes. “Harry, stop.”
“About the spell! I shouldn’t have trusted you!”
“What spell? Calm down!”
“What have you done to me? What have you done to me?”
“Harry. Nothing. I haven’t done anything! Listen to me!”
He laughed hysterically. “Maybe that’s what you did. Used it to make me feel this way. Is that what you did?”
“Harry. This is mad, stop.” Draco was getting furious. It was easier than being frightened.
“Tell me this is real,” Harry snarled. He stalked closer, narrowed, cloudy eyes inspecting Draco’s face. Nothing much was making sense to him anymore. He ran his fingertips down Draco’s face. “Tell me this is real.”
Draco, eyes dark and cold, said quietly, “What’s real? Potter, what the hell are you on about? This is reality, what else could it be?”
Harry pushed away. “It’s magic! It’s all a trick! You did this to me to hurt me and humiliate me, it isn’t real, it’s not real.”
Draco froze, swallowing carefully, his own anger at Harry slowly draining away and replaced by something that nearly made him vomit. “Harry… Harry, what are you talking about?” he asked carefully.
Harry laughed scornfully. “C’mon, Draco. Did you think I wouldn’t find out? That I’d never wonder about these things?”
“Calm down, Harry, what’s going on? Did something happen?”
“Of course something happened! Hermione found the spell you used on me! She found it, Draco.”
“Spell.” Draco’s voice was heavy, his eyes unsure.
“Gobbler’s Ink, Draco. We learned about it, remember. You really should pay attention in Potions class. No wonder you didn’t let me study that page yesterday!”
“Harry, you don’t understand.”
“From the very beginning. The ink you left in the hollow. It wasn’t regular, was it? Gobbler’s Ink, made with your blood,” he sneered.
Draco got angry. “Of course, made with my blood, you idiot! Listen to me!”
“My blood as well.”
“What?” Draco’s eyes widened horribly as realization hit him. “Your blood?”
“I cut my hand and it went all over the place. That first night.”
“Your blood… Oh, I should have known,” Draco whispered, but Harry hadn’t heard.
“‘The first property of Gobbler’s Ink is that, when made with the blood of an enemy, it works like the Imperius Curse,” Harry quoted softly. “It makes the writer follow the orders of the enemy whose blood is in the ink, and the more you use it, the stronger and more powerful the effects.’”
“Harry… Harry, shut up.”
“No! No, I won’t shut up!”
“There!” Draco smiled triumphantly, grimly. “You see? If it worked that way, you’d do it. You’d have to obey my commands. But when the hell have you ever obeyed anything I ever said to you?”
“Exactly.” He took a deep breath. “It didn’t work, Harry. See? It didn’t work. And that was before… before all of this.”
Harry paused, suddenly unsure. “Before all of what?”
Eyes widening a fraction, Draco said carefully, “Whatever this is.” Now that he was no longer furious, he could see a strange sort of fury in Harry’s eyes, and fear as well. Something else was going on with Harry, something that terrified him and probably only added to his anger.
“And what is it?” Harry asked uncertainly.
Something that had no definition, that could go one of two ways. It was apparently up to Draco to decide which way, because the Boy-Who-Lived suddenly seemed to run out of his legendary courage. There really wasn’t a choice to be made. Draco couldn’t see himself choosing anything but this.
He stepped closer, watching Harry’s eyes carefully for any sign of what the other boy was thinking. His green eyes were smoky and, for the first time, Draco couldn’t read them. “Are you alright?”
“You’re changing the subject.”
“I’m not,” Draco replied, feeling somewhat nervous. They were close now, as close as they had been the day before, in the tower, and Draco waited for Harry to move back as quickly as he had then. He didn’t. He just waited and watched with clouded eyes.
“Last chance,” Draco said quietly.
“To run and pretend that it never happened.”
Harry rolled his eyes and it was him who closed the last tiny bit of distance between them. His kiss wasn’t as shy as it would have been, had he not been so ill. It was deep and very hot, because whatever mechanism in Harry’s brain that had caused him to back off the day before had shut down with fever and nothing mattered except carnal desires, and this one was very carnal. His mouth was open on Draco’s, hot and hard, his tongue pushing into Draco’s mouth even as his hands came up to hold the other boy’s face still, though he knew, in some part of his fevered mind, that Draco wouldn’t have pulled away.
Harry pressed so close that his teeth nearly touched Draco’s, the kiss going from wild to violent in an instant, though Draco didn’t mind. After his initial surprise, he had gripped Harry’s shoulders and pulled him closer, his own tongue moving just as hard and fast against Harry’s, as if it were some sort of struggle, a game that neither wanted to lose.
Draco pulled away first, panting loudly. “Harry, I—”
“Don’t want to talk,” Harry growled, kissing him again, and Draco was only too happy to let the words go unsaid. After all, words could keep forever.
It was only when Harry turned his face to the side and then rested his head weakly on Draco’s shoulder that Draco paused to catch his breath, paused to think all of the clamoring thoughts that were screaming in his mind, about how very wrong it was to be tangled up in the arms of Harry Potter. But somehow, so very sinfully right at the same time.
And then Harry’s legs crumpled beneath him and he clung to Draco’s shoulders. Draco would have made some joke about the effect of his kiss on Harry’s strength, but it was then that he suddenly noticed the heat radiating off Harry’s skin. He carefully lowered him to the ground, lying Harry on his back.
Harry was burning up with a fever.
“Shit,” Draco mumbled. “Harry, you’re burning up.”
Harry moaned softly and closed his eyes. “Hurts,” he whimpered.
“No, no, don’t pass out, we’ve got to get you to the castle,” Draco said firmly, but Harry didn’t reply. He’d lost consciousness.
Swearing softly to himself, Draco cast a lightening spell and lifted Harry easily, cradling him against his chest. He hurried back to the castle, talking sternly to Harry all the way, but Harry didn’t hear a word of it.
Rather than wasting time at the hospital wing, Draco went straight to the dungeons, knocking on Snape’s office door. After all, he had a strong suspicion of what was wrong; he’d seen the faint green glow on Harry’s hands.
Snape opened the door and his mouth fell open in shock at the sight of Malfoy carrying Potter, but Draco didn’t waste time with explanations. He pushed past and set Harry down on Snape’s desk before turning back to his professor. “Are there any negative effects to touching or swallowing Gobbler’s Ink?” he asked bluntly.
Snape glanced once at Harry and then back to Draco. “Of course there are,” he hissed. “That’s why I had you wear gloves when we worked with it! That’s why it’s a seventh year potion, it goes without saying that it’s dangerous! You haven’t used it on Potter, have you, Malfoy? Surely you realize that a huge loss of house points would be unavoidable.”
Draco nodded impatiently. “I don’t care, can you fix him? He’s touched it, it’s all over his hands, and he chews his quills, all the time, I’ve seen him, it’s a nervous habit, and I never even thought…” A nervous habit the same way rambling seemed to be one of Draco’s. “He’s ill,” he finished weakly.
“I’m a Potions Master,” Snape snapped. “Of course I can fix him, if it’s not too late already. How long ago did he touch it?”
“At least once a day since the beginning of October,” Draco said quietly.
Snape swore softly, inspecting Harry. “It’s poison, Malfoy. Progressive. Even once touch is enough to make someone ill, but that much contact is very grave indeed. Did you touch it?”
“Maybe a little,” Draco said with a shrug. “But Harry’s got it all over his hands, he swallowed it.” A sudden memory made Draco’s eyes widen. “And… and I may have swallowed a bit. A little bit. I…” He felt his face slowly turn red. “I ate something from his hand and his fingers were in my mouth.” His throat felt like ashes, confessing something like that to his professor.
“Very hungry, were you?” Snape sneered. He rolled his eyes and looked a little sick, and then nodded curtly, using summoning charms to get necessary supplies from his cupboards while still working on Harry. “Mix the Beezle powder and the powered Bicorn horn with warm water, it’ll stop the ink that’s on his hands from soaking into the skin any further. I’ll have to see if it’s not too late to stop the flow of poison in his blood stream.”
“He’ll be alright,” Draco stated, not in any way a question, though he darted a nervous glance at Snape.
Snape scowled. “Perhaps.”
And Draco didn’t ask any more questions.
Hours later, Harry lay in a bed in the hospital wing, feverish and drifting in and out of sleep. Snape had done his best with the antidote and now that potion warred with the poison in Harry’s blood, and morning would tell if Harry would survive. Granger and Weasley had heard of his illness and come running, as Draco knew they would. After Snape had given him some of the antidote as well, he stayed away from the hospital wing all day. Dumbledore called him into his office and asked about the circumstances behind the ink, lectured him, talked for nearly an hour, most of which Draco didn’t pay attention to, as worried as he was about Harry. He busied himself with homework until he simply could not stand it any longer. To distract himself further, he grabbed his broomstick and went flying around and around the grounds until the sun had set and Granger and Weasley would have been sent to bed. Then he snuck in to the hospital wing, where Harry slept uneasily.
“Harry?” he whispered, and Harry turned his head, opening his eyes. They were cloudier than ever, and somehow larger than they’d ever seemed before, because his glasses were sitting on the table nearby.
“Draco,” Harry said, licking his lips. They were cracked and dry.
Harry didn’t answer, but he reached out, trying to grab Draco’s hand. Surprised, Draco took his hand instinctively, and Harry closed his eyes, smiling a little, and slipping back into sleep.
It didn’t last long. He started tossing and turning, jerking his hand away from Draco’s, and mumbling in his sleep. Draco watched him, guilt nearly making him sick. He hadn’t meant to poison Harry, even in the beginning, when he’d first made the ink and left it in the hollow, though his motives hadn’t been pure then. He had never even thought that touching the ink would be poisonous, or that Harry would be thick enough to swallow it.
Harry had gone quiet, his back turned to Draco, and Draco stood up, about to sneak back to his dormitory. The noise caused Harry to turn onto his back, blinking up at him.
“Stay with me,” Harry whispered, and Draco dropped back into his chair in a heartbeat.
“Are you better?” he asked.
Harry whimpered. “It hurts.”
Draco touched his fingertips to Harry’s forehead. It was clammy, burning hot. “I’m sorry.”
Harry turned his face into Draco’s hand, and Draco trailed his fingers down Harry’s cheek. They didn’t speak for a long time, and Draco thought that Harry had fallen back to sleep.
He hadn’t. His face still cradled in Draco’s hand and his voice rough, husky with fever, Harry started talking softly, ramblings that, for the most part, made no sense, brought on by fever. Sometimes the words were disconnected, random, and Harry almost seemed to be talking to someone else that wasn’t there, and at other times, they were deeply personal thoughts that Harry probably didn’t even know he had in his mind. It was incredibly intimate, dark, and closer to any human being than Draco had ever been, even if Harry didn’t realize that he was even talking, and probably wouldn’t remember in the morning.
Draco stayed there all through the night, watching over Harry, and sometime shortly before dawn, he started talking softly, telling Harry things he’d never told anyone before. He didn’t do it out of guilt, or any need to talk. He did it because Harry’s fever had caused him to talk in his sleep, and he had told Draco thousands of secrets he’d probably never told anyone. It was only fair that Draco do the same.