Not in the Hands of Boys

Fourth Rose

Story Summary:
Once the final battle is won, life must go on, although it can be even harder to master than death. Back at Hogwarts for his final year of school, Harry tries to cope with everything he's been through. As the world around him struggles for a way back to normality, he is forced to realise that in the long run, living takes a lot more courage than dying.

Chapter 17 - Part 17

Author's Note:
Thanks to cloudlessnights for betaing!

Fenrir Greyback had never looked less human. Matted hair hung down to his shoulders, his face was covered by something that was more tangled fur than beard; his wide grin showed off long, pointed canines that gleamed in the moonlight, and Harry couldn't shake the impression that his eyes were glowing. He walked with a stoop, as if he were ready to drop on all fours any second, but he still moved swiftly and soundlessly like the hunting beast he was.

Harry's heartbeat was so loud in his own ears that he barely understood what Greyback was growling as he approached. "Think I'm afraid of two cubs and their sticks? My kind is very hard to kill, little Malfoy, and we have our own score to settle once I'm done with your friend here."

The burning eyes were fixed on Harry now. Harry tried to aim properly, but his hand was shaking, and his brain seemed to have frozen; he couldn't think of a single spell that would be powerful enough to ward off the werewolf stalking towards him.

Greyback's grin widened; he was licking his lips. "Look, he's trembling just like you are - I'd have expected better from the Dark Lord's killer, but I suppose he knows the last thing he'll ever feel are my teeth ripping out his throat."

A tensing of Greyback's shoulders was all the warning Harry got; before he could react, the werewolf had covered the distance between them with a single leap. He shoved Draco to the side and barrelled right into Harry, knocking him off his feet and sending his wand flying. Harry struggled with all his might, but Greyback's weight pinned him down easily on the frozen ground. The stink of dirt and sweat and old blood almost made him gag, the pressure of a clawed hand around his neck took his breath away, and all he could see were the yellow, pointed teeth flashing inches away from his throat and closing in.

Then he heard Draco's voice yell, "Sectumsempra!"

Greyback let out a furious howl and released Harry's neck as blood spurted from a slash across his face as if he'd been hit with an invisible whip. Suddenly the crushing weight on Harry's chest was gone, and it was possible to breathe again. Harry pushed himself up on his elbows, coughing and retching, and saw Greyback sprint towards Draco. Draco cast the curse a second time and hit Greyback fully in the chest, but he merely snarled and threw himself at Draco. They both went down in a tangle of flaying limbs, and it was a matter of seconds until Draco was held down by the werewolf's bulk just as Harry had been. Harry heard a strangled scream and saw Greyback raise his hand, claws glinting in the moonlight -

There was his wand, a thin dark line on the snow-dusted grass, not three feet away from him, just out of his reach. Harry felt a strange, detached calmness settle over him; fear and excitement were gone completely, replaced by a cold, focussed determination. Time seemed to slow down to a trickle as he held out his hand. There was no question whether he would be able to will his wand towards him - he had need of it, that was all there was to it. He didn't say the spell, didn't even consciously think it, but the wand was in his hand before Greyback's claws had even begun their descent towards Draco's face.

There was no apprehension, no doubt or hesitation. This creature had dared to stand in his way, and he wasn't going to allow that. He didn't stop to think whether he possessed the power to kill it - he knew that he did, he had done it many times before. The fingers closing around his wand looked wrong; they should be longer, thinner, and much paler, but it was no matter. He could feel the power surging through him, cold and deadly; power that was alien and yet incredibly familiar, like a long-forgotten part of himself he had finally remembered. He raised his wand in an almost lazy movement, focussing on the snarling, stinking abomination before him, and let the power reach out towards it to snuff out its pitiful existence. He felt his lips move, but he never heard the words he'd spoken; there was a flash of blinding green light, and Greyback was thrown off his victim, against the white marble of the tomb, where he crumpled up in a heap and lay still.

Harry fell back onto the grass, out of breath as if he'd been running. His whole body was tingling with the aftermath of something he had no name for; there were no sounds but the roar of blood in his ears and the thundering beat of his heart. He felt an ache deep in his chest that spread downwards while little pinpricks of light danced in his vision like stars in the black sky above.

He felt a touch on his shoulder and lashed out blindly, the heady memory of the power rushing through him returning full force. He knew there was nobody who could stand against him - he had known for so long, how could he have forgotten? There was a yelp as whoever had dared to approach him toppled over and landed sprawling on top of him. Harry saw a flash of blond hair, but he didn't care, he was swept up in the sensation of a taut body pressed against him, hot breath against his cheek and a warm, sticky liquid dripping on his face. He licked his lips and tasted the metallic tang of blood, and his back arched up against the weight that held him down. There was a strangled gasp, and the pressure doubled for just one incredible moment as Harry felt hips grinding into his.

That was when he became aware that he was lying on the frozen ground with Draco Malfoy on top of him, and that he was achingly hard and a second away from coming in his pants if Draco kept rutting against him like this -

Draco must have realised it at the same moment, because he jerked away as if he'd been burned. He hastily scrambled to his feet, his face white in the moonlight, and Harry noticed the deep gash across his left cheek that was bleeding freely. It took him longer to get up from the ground; his muscles seemed unwilling to obey him, and his legs felt like lead when he was finally standing. Draco, still breathing heavily, was staring at him with wide eyes, and the sudden tension between them was almost tangible.

"That's going to scar." Harry had no idea why he'd said it; it was the first thing that had come to his mind.

Draco's hand twitched as if he'd wanted to touch his bleeding cheek and had thought better of it. "Then it'll match the one on my chest, I suppose."

The image of a puddle of blood and water on the cracked tiles of Myrtle's bathroom stood out sharply in Harry's mind, but for some reason, the feeling of horror that used to accompany it never came.

"You saved my life." With a spell I almost killed you with, no less.

Draco shrugged. "The spell didn't work properly." He didn't point out that it had probably been due to the fact that he hadn't used his own wand. "I'd be dead if you hadn't killed him."

Harry's eyes were drawn to the dark heap next to Dumbledore's tomb. Draco was right, he had killed him, and he still couldn't believe how easy it had been. Was that why they didn't teach you how to cast Avada Kedavra - because you might notice how little it took to snuff out a life like a candle flame? He'd heard that werewolves were particularly hard to kill, but there had been no resistance, no barrier to overcome - you pointed your wand and wanted them dead, that was all there was to it.

He only noticed that he was shivering in the cold night air when Draco grabbed him roughly by the shoulder. "Don't faint on me, Potter, we need to wake McGonagall and tell her about this."

Harry nodded glumly. He trailed after Draco like an obedient child on their way back to the castle; his head was spinning, and he had trouble staying on his feet. He still noticed how Draco was beginning to tremble all over as they approached the castle, as if he were only now realising how narrow their escape had been. Right before they reached the main gate, he took a few hasty steps away from the path, and Harry heard him retch behind the bushes.

He didn't say a word when he reappeared after a couple of minutes, merely walked up the stairs to the gate, and Harry followed him in silence.

* * *

McGonagall was already in her office when they entered - perhaps the gargoyle had a way of alerting her when a visitor was on the way. She was wrapped in a tartan dressing-gown and seemed a bit dishevelled as if she'd just woken up, which she likely had since the clock on the wall showed that it was past midnight.

Her eyes widened when she took in their appearance. "Potter, Malfoy, what in Merlin's name happened to you?"

"We ran into Fenrir Greyback." Draco's voice was a little raspy, but surprisingly firm given that he was white as a sheet and his face was a bloody mess. "Down by the lake."

McGonagall paled visibly. "Did you get bitten? Your cheek -"

Draco shook his head. "He merely scratched me."

"And you, Mr Potter?"

It took Harry a moment to remember that he must have Draco's blood smeared over half his face. "I'm not hurt at all, Professor."

"That's something." McGonagall clapped her hands, and a house-elf appeared with a crack in the middle of the room. "Fetch Madam Pomfrey," she ordered before the little creature could get a word in. "Then wake all the teachers and tell them to meet me in the staff room in ten minutes. We must secure the grounds, there's a werewolf on the loose outside -"

"Wait!" Harry interrupted her before she could continue. "There's no need. I killed him."

This announcement was followed by deepest silence. The elf stared at Harry with huge, round eyes; even McGonagall seemed momentarily speechless. She pulled herself together quickly, though.

"Then just get Madam Pomfrey, and tell her to hurry. Off you go!"

When the elf had vanished, she turned to Harry. "I'm not going to ask you right now what you were doing outside the castle at night. Are you really certain that Greyback is dead? Did you check? He was already left for dead once, you know that."

"He's dead." Harry couldn't have said why he was so certain. "I didn't check, but I'm sure."

The Headmistress seemed doubtful. "It's difficult to -"

"Potter hit him with a Killing Curse." Harry was torn between the wish to strangle Draco and relief that he didn't have to tell McGonagall himself. "He's dead, Professor, there can be no doubt about it. If you want to check, you'll find him next to - to Professor Dumbledore's tomb."

The look McGonagall gave him wasn't lost on Harry. There it was again, that expression as if she were faced with a bomb that had begun to tick. She seemed about to say something, but got distracted by Madam Pomfrey, who climbed out of the fireplace and immediately began fussing over Draco. For once, Draco didn't seem happy about the attention, and he put up quite a fight when the Headmistress ordered him to spend the night in the Hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey would have none of it, though; after giving Harry a quick once-over to make sure there was nothing wrong with him, she swept out with a protesting Draco in tow.

Harry watched him leave; it had been hard to miss how Draco had steadfastly refused to meet his gaze ever since they'd entered the castle. Only when McGonagall coughed pointedly did he focus his attention on the Headmistress again. "Can I go now, Professor?"

"In a moment." She waved her wand, and Harry felt his cheeks prickle; she'd probably had enough of seeing the blood on his face. "Listen, I think it would be better if it didn't become public knowledge that you used the Killing Curse against Greyback."

Harry stared at her. "I was defending myself, Professor - and Malfoy, too! Greyback was about to rip him apart when I took him down!"

"I don't doubt that, Potter, and I don't blame you in the slightest." McGonagall looked very tired, but somehow Harry doubted that it had to do with the lateness of the hour. "Did you use any other spells against him?"

Harry shook his head. "I didn't, there was no time. Malfoy used - something like a Slashing Hex, but it wasn't enough to stop him."

"A Slashing Hex?" The Headmistress seemed to think furiously. "So there would be visible signs of that on his corpse?"

"Yes, definitely, his face was covered in blood." Harry had no idea where this was going, but he got the impression that McGonagall was relieved to hear his answer.

"Then I suggest we inform the Ministry that it was Mr Malfoy's hex that killed him. I don't like lying to them any more than you do, but believe me, you don't need that kind of attention right now."

Harry wasn't sure what she meant by that, but he really didn't feel the need to see his name in the headlines again. "Fine by me, Professor. You'd better tell Malfoy too, although I don't think he'll have any objections."

McGonagall smiled thinly. "No, I don't think so either, Mr Potter." To Harry's surprise, she placed a hand on his shoulder for a moment when she added in a much gentler tone, "And now go to bed and try to get some sleep, everything else can wait until tomorrow."

* * *

In spite of McGonagall's advice, Harry felt wide awake once he found himself outside her office. His whole body was still vibrating with the aftermath of the strange experience at Dumbledore's tomb, as if the remains of the power he'd discovered deep within himself hadn't quite settled down yet. He quickly dismissed the idea of returning to his own bed; there was no way he'd be able to sleep now. He decided to go and see whether Luna was still awake, she often studied into the wee hours of the morning.

He began walking faster as he approached the Ravenclaw tower; by the time he reached Luna's door, his heart was racing, and he was uncomfortably hot in spite of the chill in the dark corridors. He could feel something coursing through his veins, a heady, ravenous sensation that made him ache with a need he had no name for. He saw no light under Luna's door, but he hardly noticed it. He knocked once, a brief, hard rap, then reached for the door knob that turned under his hand before he'd even touched it.

Luna was in bed with a book on her pillow, reading by the faint glow of a single candle. She sat up and put the book aside as he entered, but she frowned slightly when she looked at him.

"Harry, is something wr-hmph!"

She didn't get any further because Harry was next to her on the bed, grabbed her by the upper arms and kissed her. It was unlike any other kiss they'd shared before; those had been warm and gentle and playful, but this was different, a frantic, almost brutal attempt to soothe the burning ache within him. It wasn't nearly enough, though; something at the back of his mind was howling for more, and he pushed her back onto the bed and pulled the nightgown over her head before he was even aware of what he was doing.

Luna seemed surprised, but she didn't struggle; she even helped him when he fumbled with the fly of his jeans, desperate to get all this clothing out of the way, to feel her, take her, and satisfy the almost painful desire for something he'd never known before. Luna made a small, strangled sound when he pushed into her, but Harry barely heard her. His brain was swimming in a dull, red haze that left nothing but need and want and hunger, and he was only dimly aware of Luna moving with him, meeting his thrusts.

This wasn't the sweet, somewhat awkward lovemaking Harry was used to; it was harsh and fast and furious, but it was still not enough, the ache within him wouldn't subside, no matter how deep he buried himself inside her. He'd barely made a sound during their previous encounters, but now the noise of his own panting and groaning filled his ears, interspersed with Luna's breathless gasps. He felt her arch up under him and struggled against the wave of heat that was building inside him, threatening to drag him under; the hunger was still there, and he still didn't know what he was aching for, but he couldn't hold back any longer as the rush of sensation overtook him, blanking out every conscious thought and pulling him forward into the darkness.

* * *

The room was bathed in the grey light of early morning when Harry woke with a pounding headache and a queasy feeling in his stomach. He sat up gingerly, wincing as the throbbing inside his skull intensified, and blinked at the realisation that he was in Luna's bed since he had no recollection of how he'd got there.

"Good morning," Luna's voice spoke up next to him, and Harry turned around in surprise; it was rare for her to wake up so early.

Luna was propped up on her elbow and gave him a look he couldn't interpret. She was as naked as he was, and Harry did a double-take at the sight of five finger-shaped bruises on each of her upper arms and several purple marks on her breasts and neck that looked as if they had been made by teeth. He stared at them in shock as memories of the past night began flooding back into his mind - Greyback, and the Killing Curse he'd cast, and -

"You know," Luna interrupted his thoughts with a small frown, "that was quite interesting."

Harry gingerly reached for her arm to touch the marks his fingers had left there, half expecting her to flinch away. "Did I - I hurt you, didn't I?"

Luna shrugged. "A little, but that's all right. We can try it a bit rougher from now on if that's what you like, I wouldn't mind."

"What? No!" Harry had never felt so horribly ashamed of himself before. "God, Luna, I'm so sorry - I don't know what came over me, I -"

She cut off his stammering by placing a finger over his mouth; now she was smiling, but somehow that made him feel worse. "Harry, stop fretting. It was a bit unexpected, but I didn't ask you to stop, did I?"

I don't know if I would have stopped if you'd asked me to. The realisation hit Harry like a punch in the gut; he barely made it out of bed and into Luna's tiny bathroom before his heaving stomach got the better of him. Thankfully, Luna left him alone as long as he was retching into the toilet, but she came in when she heard him turn on the tap to wash his face and rinse his mouth. He was shaking all over, and he couldn't have said whether it was from being sick or from beginning to grasp what he had done during the past night.

Luna's hand on his back startled him, but he didn't dare raise his head; he couldn't have looked her in the eyes right now. She didn't speak, but instead began gently rubbing his back and shoulders, working out knots he hadn't even noticed before. Harry braced himself against the sink and kept his head bowed; the sense of shame deepened, but he still couldn't help leaning into the warm, comforting touch, eternally grateful for the fact that she always seemed to know exactly when not to ask questions.

"It's going to be all right, Harry," she finally whispered against the skin of his shoulder, and Harry closed his eyes and wished fervently that he were able to believe her.