- Story Summary:
- A Harry/Draco SLASH romance. Under the influence of a love potion, Draco learns that poison doesn't always bring death -- there are other ways to suffer and live. Chemical emotion runs feverish as Harry and Draco discover the intoxication of love. Written by a remorseless slash girl *g*, this story explores the intricate relationship between Harry and Draco.
- Author's Note:
- Thanks to Minx, Heidi and Celeste for beta reading. For Si, a dear friend who's always there for me; for Cassie Claire, who loves Harry/Draco as much as I do; and for Megan, for being the wonderful person she is.
Chapter Two: Splintered
Love is a many splintered thing.
Harry woke up late the next morning, and was sufficiently distracted about last night's events while he rushed down for breakfast and raced off to class. Only when he stepped into the dungeons for double Potions with the Slytherins did the memory of last night come flooding back, as he saw Malfoy quietly enter and make his way to the other side of the classroom.
Harry's eyes narrowed as he watched Malfoy, but the blond head didn't once turn in his direction. It was as if nothing had happened, although Harry intuitively sensed that something had altered between them: a lack of the usual overt hostility, the absence of the familiar sneer that had become such a constant feature in Potions.
Something was definitely different.
As the end of the lesson approached, Ron nudged Harry when Snape's back was turned. "The entire lesson has almost gone by and Malfoy hasn't once tried to sabotage our potions or make a cauldron explode." Ron shot a sharp, suspicious glance across the classroom at Malfoy. "What's wrong with him?"
Harry was on the verge of telling Ron what happened the night before, but suspected that his friend might throw an apoplectic fit right then and there, so he decided against it. Maybe later.
Harry shrugged as nonchalantly as he could, and replied truthfully, "I don't know what's wrong with him."
"Well, we'd better not speak too soon," Ron said darkly. "The lesson's not over yet."
The shrill ringing of the bell a few minutes later concluded one of the strangest, most uneventful Potions class Harry could remember. His thoughts strayed to the memory of Malfoy kissing him last night, but he quickly caught himself. That was something he could do with not remembering for a long time. Preferably until after he was dead.
But why didn't he seem to be able to forget?
Across the classroom, Draco tidied away his books and cleaned up his cauldron, keeping his eyes averted all the time, feeling the weight of Harry's questioning gaze on him. He knew the Gryffindor had been sneaking furtive glances at him throughout the whole of Potions, but he hadn't dared to look up, cowardly as that seemed, simply because he wasn't sure what he might do if he had.
Draco found himself more attuned to Harry's emotions; he wondered if it was because of the potion, or that he just hadn't noticed before how outwardly Harry showed his feelings. Draco could feel the unresolved tension strung between them, the mild bewilderment in Harry's gaze each time it swept past him, bringing with it a strange fleeting warmth which stroked through his body.
And when Harry left the dungeons, accompanied by Weasley and Granger, Draco experienced that same feeling again; a muted longing, growing stronger and stronger as the other boy's footsteps faded away, tugging relentlessly at his heartstrings...
Draco slammed his fist into the table in frustration, knocking over a bottle of armadillo bile. He didn't care; he buried his face in the palms of his hands, which were now shaking, glazed with a sheen of cold sweat. It was still there, that— that feeling.
He tried to rid himself of it. Last night, the moment he'd discovered what potion he'd actually drunk, he'd spent almost an hour retching, forcing himself to throw up as much of the potion as possible.
But it was still there. In his blood, running like silver ice through his veins.
Angrily snatching his bag, Draco headed out of the classroom, ignoring Crabbe and Goyle's shouts to wait up for them.
* * * * * * *
Draco finally managed to corner Harry later that day, when the other boy headed out alone for Quidditch practice in the evening. Draco accosted Harry as he rounded the bend, walking toward the shed where all the brooms were kept.
Harry's initial surprise quickly faded to a look of grim recognition. "What do you want, Malfoy?"
Draco ignored the sudden rush of blood to his brain, and fixed his glare on Harry. "I need to talk to you." He glanced anxiously over his shoulder as distant voices floated around the corner, and added, "In private."
"What, so you can do unspeakably gross things to me again?" Harry asked coldly, stepping backwards and eyeing Draco suspiciously.
Draco clenched his fists, and a faint embarrassment coloured his cheeks. "I enjoyed it about as much as you did, Potter," he said through clenched teeth, anger fraying the edges of his voice.
"Really? I couldn't tell." Harry's voice was cool, even.
"Shut up, Potter," Draco snapped, and bit his lip hard, trying to focus his thoughts around the heated throbbing in his head, like the sound of crashing waves. "It was a bloody mistake." He meant every nuance of his words. A terrible, terrible mistake.
Harry gave him a sideways look. "And you're coming to apologise?"
"No." Draco answered automatically, and saw the expression in Harry's eyes harden.
"Well, you bloody should apologise." Harry drew himself up; he was about the same height as Draco, but his rising annoyance stiffened his body and made him look taller. "You had no right to do what you did, and—"
"Oh, I'm sorry," Draco cut in acidly, feeling his own rage simmering within him, "I should've asked your permission first. Complete oversight on my part. I'll bear that in mind next time around."
Harry's nostrils flared. "There will be no next time!" He looked incredulously at Draco. "What is wrong with you, Malfoy? Last time I checked, you hate me and I hate you, and I'm perfectly happy that it stays that way!"
They both stood glowering at each other for a long moment, neither of them saying anything, Harry tapping his foot impatiently on the ground. Finally,
Draco glared back. "Well, what?"
"Well, what was last night all about? Were you trying to scare me off? Because I distinctly remember you were the one who turned and fled with your tail between your legs."
Draco closed his eyes. He could have done without the mental image of anything between anyone's legs at this moment. The infuriating buzz in his head showed no sign of abating; instead it was getting more intense, as if sealing off the vicinity just surrounding the two of them with a charged electrical sphere that was severely upsetting his nerve impulses and sending the weirdest feelings twisting through his body.
Draco drew a deep breath. "It's a long story."
"No it isn't. You grabbed hold of me and kissed me. End of story, and not quite a fairytale ending, I might add."
Draco opened his eyes, immediately confronted with the deep emeralds shielded behind a pair of glasses, which made his breath catch in his throat, rendering him momentarily speechless.
What did he come here for, anyway? To confess the whole situation and make a complete fool of himself? He wouldn't understand, anyway. What did he expect Potter to do, when the truth was, there was nothing he could do, not him or anybody else? Why did he search him out, then, why did he spend most of the day just finding a time for them to be together in private?
He didn't know why. Actually, he did know, and he also knew that he had to get away from him as soon as possible.
"Oh, forget it." Draco muttered; helpless frustration shimmered in his grey eyes as he turned away, but suddenly a firm hand on his arm stopped him, not because of its restraining force but because of the sharp jolt of sensation that shot through his arm.
Draco reflexively flinched away from Harry's touch, stung, a fleeting wild look in his eyes of slate grey.
Harry's eyes flickered in brief surprise before a look of determination settled on his features. He stepped around Draco, blocking his path, cornering him against the side of the broom shed.
"You're not going anywhere until I get a straight answer from you, Malfoy." Harry's voice was soft, yet sliced with a veiled threatening tone.
Draco lifted a challenging gaze, masking his inner turmoil almost flawlessly. "Or else?" he taunted, arching an eyebrow.
"Do you really want an answer to that?"
"Yes, because it doesn't sound vaguely threatening in the least."
"Or else I'll go straight to Dumbledore with this—" Harry reached into his pocket, his hand coming up with the empty glass phial, "and you've have a nice audience for your explanation of what you were doing out last night."
Draco pressed his lips into a thin line, his eyes narrowing. "You wouldn't, because that'll mean that you'll have to explain what you were doing there as well." He smiled mirthlessly, allowing a healthy amount of sarcasm to drip from his words, "And I don't suppose our Golden Boy wants to have his record tarnished by something like that, now would he?"
"The worst I'll get is detention and a reprimand for sneaking out at night." Harry's eyes sparkled with a determined fixation, and it reminded Draco of the way Harry looked when he was racing after the Snitch; resolute, unwavering, almost ruthless. His smugness faltered slightly.
Harry cut Draco a sharp look, as if noticing his thoughts, then continued, "But you. You'll be lucky to get away with a detention if this gets out." Again, Harry held up the glass phial, the traces of red still vivid, like streaks of blood against golden sunlight. "I don't know what it is — looks like blood, but it isn't because it would've dried to black by now. I'm sure Snape'll have an interesting time doing some experiments to find out what it is, although his enthusiasm will probably be slightly subdued since the results would serve to incriminate his favourite student."
And from the look of genuine fear that flitted across Draco's face, a rare surge of emotion that flared and died within the flutter of a heartbeat, Harry knew that he'd got him.
Draco recovered from the flinch of tension very quickly, his usual iciness freezing back into place. He raised his chin defiantly, and sneered at Harry. "Go on then, Potter. Show it to Dumbledore. It might be strawberry jam, for all you know. I'll enjoy seeing you make a fool of yourself."
"I'll take that chance." Harry returned Draco's gaze evenly. "If I go down, I'll make sure you hit rock-bottom with me." He faced Draco squarely, watching the play of confusion simmering beneath the surface of Draco's face, ripples in the veneer of forced calm. "Your call, Malfoy."
"Just walk away, Potter," Draco hissed, and a genuine urgency found form in his voice. "You don't want to know, trust me."
"The hell I don't." Harry took a step closer, fire blazing in pure jade, and Draco closed his eyes almost in pain. "Try me, why don't you?"
"Fuck off, Potter—" Draco spat, and he saw Harry tensing, "I can handle this on my own."
"Handling it very well, I see, running around in the middle of the night half-naked kissing people like a deranged lunatic. Don't get me wrong, Malfoy, if you want to be a raving psycho it's fine with me, just don't get me involved."
"Then don't get involved." Draco enunciated each word clearly, his eyes burning with an uncommon flame. "Turn a hundred and eighty degrees, start walking, and don't stop until you reach Hogsmeade, or fall into the lake, whichever happens first. My point being, just go."
"Not until you tell me what the hell is going on." Harry refused to back down.
A pause, then very softly, "You don't want to know."
Harry exploded. "Don't you tell me what I want or do not want to know! You don't even—"
"Well you obviously can't see for yourself, can you?"
"Look," Harry said harshly, shoving Draco hard up against the wall. "If you had, say, tapped me on the shoulder, or tugged on my sleeve, I can let it go. But when you attach your mouth onto mine, entirely without my consent I might add, that's a completely different matter."
"What, never been kissed like that before, Potter?" Draco saw an almost imperceptible flicker cross Harry's clear green eyes, and his lips curled in a sneering smile. "Then I was doing you a favour, now wasn't I?"
Harry looked mildly revolted. "If you consider kissing me a favour, Malfoy, I never want to be in your debt."
Draco managed a sly grin, and the mounting tension between them eased slightly. "If you were in my debt, Potter, believe me, I'd make you do a lot more than that."
Harry now looked disgusted. "Oh shut up and stop begging the question, Malfoy. I'm waiting."
Draco's grin broadened. "For what? Another—"
"Your explanation," Harry hastily cut in, taking a step back and eyeing Draco with more than just suspicion. "What is the matter with you? Why are you so kissy-feely all of a sudden?"
Draco's smile faded; the hostility was instantly reinstated. "I am not kissy-feely," he snapped waspishly.
"Okay, then I think the description 'horny' would suffice." Harry smiled victoriously when he saw Draco's eyes darken, and continued, "So is that how you get some, Malfoy? Creeping around half-clad and pouncing on unsuspecting victims?"
"That's rich, coming from someone who hasn't even snogged before." Draco's eyes flashed with dawning rage. "And what about you, Potter? What were you doing out in the Forest?"
Just then, Draco abruptly realised that the annoying drone in his head had subsided, and he hadn't noticed it because he was so absorbed in talking to Harry. Then again, a part of his mind told him that it had subsided because he'd been talking to Harry, standing there less than two steps away from him for the past five minutes.
"That's not the issue at the moment, now is it?" Harry eyes flashed jade lightning as they caught the brilliant dusk sunlight. "Shell it out, Malfoy, I want to hear it."
Draco raised his eyes to Harry's, looking mutinous and despairing at the same time. "It's complicated."
"You've said that before, and it's a lame excuse. You're insulting my intellect."
"Sure took you long enough to figure that out," Draco retorted placidly. "All the more proves my point."
But he could feel his resolve dwindling, the edge of his cutting remarks getting blunter, more feeble, and all this while he was just stalling, as he tried to think of a way to explain this, and there was none. And suddenly he felt tired, like holding back a sneeze that was just aching to be let out, the pressure of a torrent of tears pressing against the back of his eyes, and it was wearing him thin.
Harry's mouth was set in a line of grim determination. "Talking to you is like trying to draw blood from a stone." He took a step back, shaking his head angrily. "Forget it, maybe Dumbledore will be able to get more helpful answers from you."
Harry made to turn away, but Draco reached out and caught him by his left wrist. He stopped and looked back at Draco, his green eyes cold, masked with complete calm, and said nothing, his gaze mutely questioning.
Draco felt the electric tingle of Harry's pulse fluttering in his wrist; he took a deep breath. "You really want to know?"
"Yes, I do." A long-suffering impatience edged Harry's words.
"When I said it's long and complicated, I really meant it." Draco's voice bore a note of urgency, and he looked around anxiously, worried that the other Gryffindor players would come looking for Harry. He wondered how long they'd been standing there talking; the truth was that he had no idea, because with Harry the minutes seemed to fly by like heartbeats, yet felt like hours on end.
Just like, he was reminded bitterly, the way people felt when they were— in love.
Casting another furtive glance around, Draco dropped his voice to a whisper. "Meet me in the trophy room, midnight. I'll explain then." He lifted his eyes, looking straight into Harry's, an uncertain emotion darting in his irises of misty grey. "And from now until then, think about everything you don't want to know, and don't say I didn't warn you about this, Potter. Ten Galleons say you'll regret ever asking, so if you come to your senses before then, do yourself a favour and just don't turn up."
"Nice try, Malfoy." Harry stepped back, surveying Draco's expression with a critical look. "Very scary and all, except that it's about the oldest trick in the book and entirely unconvincing in your case. Since when do you care what's good for me?" Harry gave a scornful laugh; then completely without warning, he raised his wand, pointed it at Malfoy's hand, which was still holding on to his own wrist, and muttered a spell,
A jet of dark rusty silver light shot from Harry's wand; Draco let out a startled yelp and withdrew his hand, stung. He glanced down — to his horror, he found attached to his wrist, a handcuff.
Draco stared in disbelief. There was just one cuff, securely locked, the thin metal band encircling his left wrist, a few dull metal links trailing after it.
Harry looked crestfallen. "Damn. Only half-worked."
"What the..." Draco looked up at him, dismayed. "What the fuck is this for? Get it off me!"
Harry gave him an angelic smile. "Sure. Tonight. That's the collateral, to make sure you turn up." He snatched up Draco's wrist, inspecting his handiwork; too shocked to resist, Draco let him. "Well only one cuff worked, but it looks secure enough. Let me just warn you that any attempt to remove it physically or magically will only make it tighten more and more."
"You expect me to walk around school with this?" Draco still looked aghast. "Very kinky, Potter, didn't know you were into bondage and such."
Harry ignored Draco's last statement. "Just be glad the other end isn't attached to, oh I don't know... the Quidditch goal-posts, for example. That's decidedly more conspicuous, I must say."
"Fuck you, Potter," Draco spat, anger flooding in to replace astonishment. "I'll get you for this."
"That lacks a certain viciousness, when you're the one with the handcuff on." Harry stepped aside easily, a smile of triumph curling his lips in a not entirely unattractive way, in Draco's opinion. "And you thought that Gryffindors didn't have creative ideas."
"Oh, Slytherins have creative ideas too," Draco said through clenched teeth, his voice thinly controlled. "Only more violent and expressive ones, usually involving knives, whips, torture and generally a lot of pain." Draco's mouth turned upward in a cynical, humourless smile. "But I see you're going for the flat-out humiliation technique, which is on the whole rather effective too. Congratulations."
Something flickered across Harry's face; muted surprise, mingled with a certain contriteness, and Draco thought that he looked almost abashed. "I'm not doing this to humiliate you, Malfoy," Harry raised his eyes to meet Draco's; they were completely clear, almost heartbreakingly sincere. "I'm just making sure you don't renege on your deal."
"I thought the point in question was whether you'd be there."
Harry's eyes hardened, the restless emotion within them coalescing into solid stones of emerald. "I don't trust you, Malfoy. Don't think I don't remember what you tried to do to us in the first year. And since then my fingers and toes and your fingers and toes won't be enough to count the number of times you've tried to get us into trouble." A grim, yet distinctly smug grin. "And failed each time, I might add."
Draco frowned, tilting his head slightly, giving Harry an appraising sort of look. He'd been surreptitiously doing this a lot during their conversation, as if noticing certain things about Harry for the first time; the way he stood, his left foot always an inch or two in front of his right. The way he held his shoulders straight, upright, belying a confidence and quiet poise of someone who had the world at his beckoning, who couldn't want more than he'd already got.
"And you think a cuff around my wrist will ensure I'll be there tonight?" Draco managed to restore a certain forced tranquillity to his voice, although everything was steadily crumbling to bits under the surface. "I think not, Potter. The only thing that'll guarantee my presence there is if you chain me to yourself, and that doesn't lend itself too well to Quidditch practice, does it?"
To Draco's surprise, Harry's face eased into a smile; a simple, knowing smile. "Take a closer look at your new accessory when you get the chance." He nodded toward the cuff; it looked coldly incongruous on Draco's wrist, although the metallic silver well matched his platinum blond hair.
Before Draco had the chance to inspect his cuff in greater detail, Harry continued, "I don't think the cuff will make you turn up. I don't take your word for it, either. But," and here Harry allowed a small victorious grin, "maybe a cuff bearing my name will make you think twice about skipping our appointment tonight."
Draco's heart stopped momentarily, and his gaze cut down at the cruel metal bracelet that shackled his wrist, his eyes widening in a dizzying rush of utter disbelief. What—
Harry's grin broadened, a dawning smile in the setting sun. "I don't think you'll fancy walking around school tomorrow labelled as property of Harry Potter, now would you?"
And at that moment something shattered in Draco's face; something fundamental, something so natural and innate that it sieved through all spectrum of emotion, a foundation that splintered and fell apart at the crash of Harry's words. A stab of anguish flashed like lightning across Draco's features, rendered delicate in the wake of hopeless pain, shadowed in helpless despair, although in the blink of an eye it was wiped blank, like troubled circles in the sand washed away by the mockery of the merciless sea.
Harry was startled when he saw the raw emotion break across Draco's impassive face — he blinked, and looked again, but it was gone, like a wound closing in on itself; a trick of the eyes, a play of the slanted golden light which threaded tinselled silk into Draco's hair of blond.
Or perhaps, Harry thought, just a deception of the mind.
When Draco looked up, his eyes empty shadows of crushed grey. Harry noticed that his hands had clenched themselves into fists, so tightly that his knuckles were white-tipped.
Draco said nothing, just stared hard at Harry for a prolonged moment, and gradually the cold flame of emotion flowed back into his eyes, burning distant iciness and vulnerable pain at the same time.
"Have it your way, Potter." Draco said softly, although resentment edged his voice like a blade, his eyes glinting hatred and bitterness sliced with raw pain.
With that, Draco turned and walked away.
Harry stared after him for a few moments, still very suspicious and utterly confused. That parting look Draco shot him still jarred him as particularly unsettling — was it something he had said?
With a baffled shake of his head, Harry gave up wondering and headed off to get his broom, which he only just remembered was his original intention. Thanks to Malfoy, he was now criminally late for Quidditch practice, and that thought jostled to the fore of Harry's mind as he relegated his other questions to later that night.
* * * * * * *
Only when he reached the sanctuary of his own dormitory did Draco allow himself to collapse on his bed, drawing painful air in rasping breaths, the dull coolness of the cuff against his wrist seeping through his skin like mercury poisoning his blood, hot and cold separated by the imperfection of flesh.
It was just like the boundary he was trapped in now, the frontier where love and hate collided, the fine line now blurred by chemical alteration into absolutely nothing at all. Nothing but the weary tension knotted in his body, distilled desire burned down to its sheer essence, and it was becoming something entirely out of his control, not his own anymore.
He turned the cuff over, and looked at it, metal glinting bright sparks from an indiscernible light source; it stung his eyes, and he blinked. Holding his wrist up for closer inspection, Draco saw the intricate inscription, not engraved by human hand, a finely crafted mockery set in smooth silver — H J Potter.
The mark of possession. Branded. Owned.
Draco closed his eyes, soaking up the silent shame.
I don't think you'll fancy walking around school tomorrow labelled as property of Harry Potter, now would you?
Harry's words echoed soundlessly in Draco's mind, his own mortification corroding from within.
I'm not doing this to humiliate you, Malfoy.
Utterly humiliated, Draco flung himself face-down on the pillows, the cold metal grip of the cuff around his wrist digging into his flesh, fear and blinding terror unleashed within him, a stark reminder of what was almost too real to be believable; what he had inflicted upon himself, what Harry had done to him, and what he might never be freed of.