Disclaimer: JKR owns all characters: I make no profit from borrowing them.
Summary: Settling the score was never so sweet.
Word Count: ~ 5000
Beta: A thousand thanks to my anonymous beta, whose tireless work on this went above and beyond the call of duty. And huge thanks also to the charming person of mystery who Brit-picked at the speed of light.
Notes: For _hibiscus; this is inspired by the dreamlike, fairytale quality of your art. Happy holidays!
No matter how hard Harry tries, he can’t seem to catch his breath. He feels as though he’s been running forever. Clawed by manticores, crushed under unicorn hooves, and burnt by the breath of large and shadowy dragons, he is drained and exhausted, but still he keeps running through the never-ending night.
“To be honest, he’s got an even chance of making it,” the Healer says. She is a serious-looking witch, middle-aged, with neatly parted hair.
“All this from just a nick on the leg?” Ron asks, peeved. “I thought you lot had fixed that part. Isn’t Harry going to come out of this?” He has no idea what the Healer has been nattering about for the past ten minutes. He turns to Hermione for an explanation, but she just nods sadly, knowing that magically inflicted injuries are alike only in their unpredictability.
Like many events in Harry’s life, the long-awaited Wizarding War does not go completely as planned. In the final months of the war, some unlikely persons break away from the Death Eaters to ally themselves with the opposition. Rabastan Lestrange, inscrutable behind his black moustache, volunteers the intelligence that leads to a crucial change of strategy for the Order of the Phoenix, and all but guarantees his own violent demise. And there is Malfoy, of course. Not Lucius -- he stays with Voldemort until the bitter end, but Draco, who even stands up and fights in what turns out to be the last battle, surprising everyone who thought him nothing but a spoiled coward.
At one point, while Malfoy is deflecting a rain of hexes from a few of his father’s closest friends, Voldemort flings a Dismemberment Curse in his direction. Without even thinking about it, Harry swivels his shoulder and casts a perfect blocking spell that causes the curse to reverberate, just missing Voldemort but obliterating one of his minions. The manoeuvre is just one of many brief instances in a long, long fight, and not something Harry chooses to focus on. Really, he would have done it for any member of the Order, or any opponent of the Death Eaters.
Malfoy never says a word to Harry about saving his life, nor to Harry’s knowledge has he ever told anyone else about it. It is almost as though it never happened. Harry does not expect a big show of gratitude, of course; it is enough for him that Malfoy survives. Not that he cares about the silly prat; it just assuages his guilt for that time in sixth year when he attacked and nearly killed Malfoy with the brutal Sectumsempra hex. True, Harry was only trying to protect himself, but when he saw Malfoy disarmed, ashen-faced and bleeding on the floor, the act seemed crueller than he ever thought himself capable. A casual favour during battle seemed the least he could do to make up for it.
Harry has not forgotten what Malfoy did to him earlier that same year. He remembers sitting in the Great Hall, having missed dinner because Malfoy Petrified him on the Hogwarts Express, stomped on his nose and left him to rot. Harry had dug savagely into his treacle tart, forced to make do with dessert because the main course had been spirited away before he could take a single bite. And Draco had mocked him mercilessly, wiggling his nose at him, jeering with his friends.
If he’d known about Sectumsempra then, if he’d had the chance to get Malfoy alone… Harry wonders sometimes if he would have just left him to bleed.
But the war has been over for three years now, and Harry has put aside his spats with Malfoy and other childish things. He and his fellow Aurors have their hands full, rounding up unaccounted-for Death Eaters and bringing them to justice. Malfoy begins working at the Ministry soon after Harry starts, which makes Harry suspect that job prospects had much more to do with Malfoy’s change in allegiance than any inner transformation of his character or morality. Yet Malfoy proves himself a valued employee, and rumour has it that he is the youngest wizard ever to reach Adept Level as an alchemist in the Department of Arcana
Relations between Harry and Malfoy are now officially cordial, or so they might seem to an outside observer. The two former enemies nod to each other as they pass in the hall at work, and once they even make small talk in the lift. But there’s a wide divide, and not just spatial, between the bustling second-floor offices of the golden boys and girls in the Auror Division and the dank basement in which the alchemists mutter over their flasks and furnaces. In general, alchemists and Aurors have little to do with each other. And especially not if the Auror and alchemist in question happen to be Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy.
The skirmish in Berlin with old Walden McNair is what gets Harry into trouble this time. Though the bleary-eyed wizard huffs and puffs as he feints with his wand, he reacts to Harry’s spells with the speed of a much younger man. He also proves remarkably creative with hexes, most of which Harry successfully parries or returns. Harry doesn’t catch the wording of McNair’s final hex, though it is the only one he is not able to avoid. It barely grazes his calf, and he does not bother to report the injury or to have a medi-witch take a look as the Ministry recommends. It’s inconsequential, really; a dot of red that he can’t even see without squinting.
Yet contrary to Harry’s predictions, the tiny weal on his leg does not go away. He tightens his jaw when his trousers rub against the sore and send tiny, vivid sparks of pain shooting down to his foot. When the bleeding starts again, he takes no particular notice. There is still nothing that is important about the wound, even when it changes from red to blue to purple.
Now several days have passed, and Harry’s leg sports a swollen black knot oozing pus and gore. But Harry has his job to think of, and he isn’t about to let a little scratch like this stop him from getting things done. He is thankful for his work; it keeps him going when all he wants to do is forget. The Ministry requires him to be either in the office or out in the field from eight to six, and he never fails to cheerlessly volunteer for overtime. He often stays up late with administrative paperwork; this task helps him keep his mind as detached as possible so that he can fall asleep.
Harry doesn’t have anyone who waits up for him to come home; Ginny’s been gone for months. If he thinks about their relationship at all, it’s with nostalgia, as if it was an odd experience that happened to someone else long ago. Most nights, there isn’t enough work to occupy him for as long as he needs to keep the emptiness away, and he becomes restless. Alone in his rented rooms above the Hog’s Head, he pounds the wall with his fists for no reason, annoying his neighbours to no end. Moments later, depending on his whim, he lets out a loud, wild laugh or collapses into sobs. On more than a few occasions, Harry fails to recognise the haggard face that looks back at him in the mirror.
Lately, drinking helps to fill in some of the vacant space. Harry finds a small, dingy bar on the outskirts of Hogsmeade, where he sees no one he knows and no one cares that he is Harry Potter. The brusque, unsmiling bartender knows how he likes his firewhiskey, and the other patrons know by his rigid stance and unresponsiveness to keep well away from him. Harry has never seen a single woman in the bar, and when he discovers the back room, he knows why. As the patrons don’t appreciate watchers who don’t join in, he has learned to don his Invisibility Cloak when curiosity gets the best of him. Some of the things he sees in there are things that he and Ginny have done together, and some are things that a man and a woman could never do. As hard as he gets while watching, Harry never touches himself in the back room. Yet right before he falls asleep, Harry will sometimes imagine his own body being grasped by rough male hands, his cock suckled by a strong, insistent mouth, and he strokes himself into oblivion before waking to work yet another day.
Weeks go by, and Harry’s leg becomes stiff and painfully tender, though he is still able to walk with only a hint of a limp. One balmy summer morning, Dawlish finds Harry slumped over his report, halfway through an accounting of the recent apprehension of Augustus Rookwood. He Apparates Harry straight to St Mungo’s Hospital, where Harry now rests, lingering between life and death, yet not conscious enough to be aware of it.
Harry is sore all over, but his galloping legs never cease their constant cycling. He is on fire, a jerky-limbed animated corpse, a ghost, a living portrait. He freezes in the desert heat, burns up in the icy tundra, and scurries on his hands and knees through rocky canyons. Over and over again, Harry drowns in a vast blue ocean, butted by strangely formed sea creatures. He is propelled, and sinking so fast he can hardly see.
He whirls, weightless, through cold, dark space, dodging asteroids and choking on comet dust. Scorched by solar flares, he dries up until he becomes a shrivelled pod, wind-tossed across an empty field. He is nothing more than twirling smoke.
Harry is not at all sure he wants to return from this journey. He sees his slumbering body as he floats above it, and then he is elsewhere.
He flies through the open window into the flat that used to be his and Ginny’s, into the bedroom that Ginny now shares with her old beau Michael Corner, and there they are, tussling under the sheets, Michael grunting and Ginny making those breathless semi-squeals that Harry remembers all too well. Not what Harry wants to see, not at all, but he still believes that Ginny deserves happiness.
He drifts over to the Burrow, the place where some of the first truly happy memories of his life were created. His heart gladdens at the sight of another familiar face: Molly Weasley, in her sensible, stain-resistant robes, sitting down to dinner with her husband. The battered wooden table looks so big with just her and Arthur there, though there is room and there are chairs for many more. Anyone with half an ounce of magic could simply charm the table smaller, and Harry wonders why the Weasleys haven’t done so.
“Sometimes I feel like they’re all gone and never coming back,” says Molly hollowly.
“I know, love,” Arthur replies, and he reaches for her hand across the table. “But most are just a Floo away, still.”
“Not Harry,” Molly says, pulling her hand away. “I fear he’s won the war but lost the battle.” Her eyes look so tired as she casts the carving spell, and she only picks at her plateful of roast meat.
The house of the Weasley-Grangers is not far from the Burrow, at least not when flying bodiless. Ron is in the drawing room, alone. He raises a glass of amber liquid to his mouth, draining it in one gulp. Putting his glass down, he flinches, and the glass shatters on the floor. “Oh, fuck it!” he snarls. He drops his head into his folded arms, and his shoulders shake with silent tears.
Harry floats upstairs and finds Hermione at her desk, which is not unusual. Her quill scratches rapidly at the crisp vellum, and she is careful not to spill a drop of ink. Harry draws himself close behind her, yet she shows no sign of acknowledgment. He peers at the page and sees she has only just begun.
Harry James Potter, 1980-
Hermione puts down her quill and shakes her head. She waves her wand over the page, and starts again.
I know you can’t read this now, but I hope that some day you will. No matter what anyone else says, Ron and I haven’t lost hope. I’ve been doing some research on your condition. There is a cure, and it requires…
She lays down her pen in a tray as not to sully the paper, and pulls a massive leather-bound volume from the pile of books stacked next to her inkwell. More research is needed, no doubt.
Harry shrugs his ethereal shoulders. Why does he need to be saved?
No more old friends to visit; after Hermione’s study vanishes from his view, Harry finds himself in an altogether new place, neither night nor day, but something in between; twilight. The sky is full of stars and has more than one moon, but he’s not sure that is important. He is in a grove of trees, but this is not the Forbidden Forest, nor any forest he remembers. Harry makes his way in silence but for the sound of his footsteps and the soft whistling of the wind though the branches, no trace of the babbling of souls he once overheard behind the veil in the Department of Mysteries
Harry is no longer the wisp who ran so far and travelled so little, buffeted and beaten by forces unknown. He is back in his body again; and he is whole. Though he is not wearing his glasses, Harry can see perfectly, which he has been able to do in dreams ever since he could remember. He is naked, his bare feet treading soft dirt, yet this does not shock him; his clothing must have been discarded or forgotten somewhere along the way. Abandoned in the ether, along with his wand.
Breathing in the woody forest scent, Harry senses an unfamiliar note, burnt and sugary. Treacle tart, he thinks absurdly. Treacle tart?
Harry walks alone through the empty forest, with nothing to keep him company but his memories. The two faces, familiar and kind, beaming down on him as he claps his baby hands. Avada Kedavra! The dazzling green light that burns his eyes, the pain searing his forehead for the first time. Locked in the dark cupboard under the stairs, crying himself to sleep again. Surreptitiously scooping cold clumps of leftover porridge into his mouth with his fingers while he should be cleaning the kitchen, pushing up the sleeves of his cousin’s raggedy discarded jumper so they don’t fall into the bowl. Then hope -- a hail of red letters, a magical train ride, a new friend. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort. Swish and flick, swish and flick. Wingardium Leviosa. Scared, Potter?
Soaring on his broom, diving for the Snitch, now fast in his hand while nervous, paler fingers furiously scrape against his, but he won’t release the Snitch, it belongs to him now and forever more, and Gryffindor wins again! Eleven sickles to ride from Little Whinging to London, hot chocolate for an extra two. Kill the spare! Finally unwrapping the mirror his godfather had given him that he’d been too stupid to open, its magic gone with the death of the giver. That's why Slytherins all sing: Weasley is our King. That first kiss with Ginny, that ecstatic feeling of victory. Who would have thought you knew such Dark Magic? Cups and lockets and swords and Horcruxes; all leading to the ivory tomb.
After what seems like miles of trees and sky, Harry finally hears a sound that may be human. Someone, or something, is singing. The voice is clear and sweet; a tenor, possibly male. Somehow familiar yet completely otherworldly, the song reminds him both of Elvish music and veela song, pure and keening and seductive. Here and there, he thinks he recognizes a few words of Latin, and possibly a hint of French.
Harry edges closer to the source of the voice, listening to the volume slowly increase until he catches sight of the singer through a space in the trees. A tall form, a man as naked as Harry himself is, but clearly a man. And this man is no stranger to Harry; there is no mistaking the shock of nearly white hair, the long spidery fingers, the ever-present sneer of entitlement. Yet the solemn, almost regal figure who sings and chants over the bubbling cauldron has as little in common with the taunting youth in Slytherin green as with the quiet, precise man whose terse nods at the Ministry Harry doesn’t always return.
Is Malfoy casting a spell? With a quick shiver of anticipation, Harry wonders if Malfoy is up to something again, something he wants to hide. Even today, alchemists are viewed with a measure of suspicion, their old reputation as charlatans and cheaters never having quite dissipated even after hundreds of years.
Spying on Malfoy makes Harry almost wistful for sixth year at Hogwarts when he was -- there is no better word-- obsessed with him, determined to discover if he was really a Death Eater. That year ended so badly with Dumbledore’s death and the Dark Mark set over the school, but the mere memory of that state of excitement gives Harry a happy sort of thrill, a feeling he hasn’t had since the war ended. And in truth, it was more than the challenge of solving a mystery that drew Harry to Malfoy back in that year. As spiteful and annoying as Malfoy is, he always had a rare, luminous quality about him, and that became increasingly difficult for Harry to ignore. Even now, Harry cannot help but notice how Malfoy’s white body and sharp features contrast with the deep twilight surrounding him, his long shadow falling across the forest floor. It makes him think of the smooth, unbroken surface of an angel cast in marble, something he might have seen in church the day that the vicar asked the Dursleys to take him along.
Malfoy flickers his hand over the cauldron and the steaming stops. Ah, wandless magic -- Harry guesses he should be grateful they are equally matched this time, though he has no expectation of what will happen.
The colour of the vessel fades from black to pale and almost transparent, and sparks of multicoloured light trickle and dance over the sides, dying away with another slight gesture from Malfoy. Malfoy slips his hand inside, and when he withdraws it, it glistens as though coated in some type of oil. He dips his other hand as well, and slowly, methodically, glides his hands over his body; chest, legs, face. Last of all, Malfoy twists his hand around his cock until it gleams like the rest of his body. Harry’s own cock twitches in sympathy, and he looks away, but only for a second. He doesn’t care whether he’s dead or alive; whatever Malfoy is doing, he’s surely up to no good, and Harry isn’t going to let him get away with it.
Malfoy lets out a bored sigh. He fishes in the cauldron again, and pulls out a narrow length of fabric, striped in slants of crimson and gold.
Harry starts. He never could find his Gryffindor tie when changing back into his school robes after the last Quidditch game he played against Slytherin, and he’d had a devil of a time ordering a new one. Malfoy had smirked at him. Bastard.
He watches Malfoy close his eyes and trail the tie over his chest, across his shoulders, drags it across his stomach. Malfoy’s expression remains impassive, though his face is beginning to flush. He licks a fingertip and circles each of his nipples, his lips parting as his breath begins to deepen. Harry is fairly sure this is not part of the spell, but he can find no reason to stop looking. Moving with caution, he edges around the tree for a better angle until he is almost at the point where Malfoy could see him.
“Potter,” Malfoy says quietly and without shame. He opens his eyes and stares straight at the tree that Harry is poised behind.
His old adversary’s tone is as matter-of-fact and ordinary as it is back at the office, but Harry has no time for pleasantries. “What are you doing?” he asks, taking a few steps forward.
Malfoy grins and the snarky schoolboy is back. “What does it look like I’m doing?”
Harry doesn’t like the way Malfoy looks at him, a strange hunger in his blue-grey eyes. “Give me my tie, Malfoy.”
Harry knows he should not care about his stupid school tie, especially now. But somehow, perversely, it matters to him, matters intensely, and once again, he is determined not to let Malfoy get the upper hand. “Oh, grow up! Just give it back, alright?” he snaps.
Malfoy’s smile broadens, and he lifts a white eyebrow. “Kiss me.”
“Kiss me, Potter,” he says evenly. “Then you can have your precious tie.”
“In your dreams.” Almost reflexively, Harry clenches his fist around the empty space where his wand should be.
“Speaking of dreams, ever dream about-- this?” Malfoy takes his own cock in hand as if offering it to Harry, the soft curve of the head just peeping over his palm. Meeting Harry’s gaze, he begins to wrap the tie around and around his shaft, which perks up obligingly.
“Never!” Harry avers, and he hopes, prays, that Legilimency does not work in this place. Or that Malfoy has forgotten how.
Malfoy rolls his eyes. “Liar.” The coiled silk slips off him as he saunters toward Harry, as assuredly as though he were fully clothed.
He does not stop when he should, and when Malfoy crosses that invisible boundary kept between men, Harry shoves him and he falls awkwardly on his rump. When Harry marches over to pick up his tie, Malfoy reaches out and grabs him just above the ankle. It isn’t Malfoy’s strength that sends Harry tumbling to the ground, but the unexpected heat of his hand.
“Precious Potter, always the difficult one,” Malfoy scoffs. “Forever in trouble. Never listening when he should.”
He won’t let go of Harry, and Harry tries to push him away, and then they are wrestling, a mess of arms and legs as they struggle. Harry finds it near impossible to get a decent grip on Malfoy, whose wiry body is slick and slippery with whatever potion he’s smeared on himself. He tries bluffing as though he planned to move a different way, and when Malfoy twists in the direction Harry wants, Harry manages to roll right on top of him. He spreads his arms wide over Malfoy’s thrashing body and straddles his narrow hips, finally restraining him.
Panting, Harry stills himself to catch his breath. Malfoy’s face is just inches away, his eyes narrowed in challenge, his sulky mouth pursed in sarcasm, and there is nothing Harry wouldn’t give to wipe away that satisfied little pout, to knock Malfoy off his broom once and for all. But when Malfoy pivots his head, his lips brush against Harry’s, and before he can stop himself, Harry kisses him.
Harry has long forgotten about his tie, but he is still kissing Malfoy. This is not happening; it can’t be. He simply cannot do what Malfoy demands.
“Hate.. you.. so much, I hate you!” he chokes out, as though it would make things any better, or somehow belie the fact he is lying stark naked on top of his enemy, so bloody hard for him. Worse yet, there is no way Malfoy could not have noticed Harry’s arousal, as his own erection is pressed firmly against Harry’s.
But then Harry gets it; this is a game, a sport he has always known how to play, and one that he and Malfoy have been playing ever since the day they met. He kisses Malfoy again, because he can, and then again, because he needs to, and sucks in another quick breath. “H-hate you…,” he says again, pointlessly, and his fingers sort through Malfoy’s fine hair, soft and insubstantial between his fingers. In their connected mouths, Malfoy’s tongue twines with his own, and Harry stops trying to justify his actions, letting his body think for him instead.
Harry rolls off Malfoy so that he is lying by his side, and presses his lips against the smooth velvet of his throat, skirting a tiny blue vein visible under his translucent skin. He knows how easy it would be to tear into Malfoy now, to hurt him, but it feels so unbelievably good to kiss him and touch him and hold him instead.
When Malfoy grinds himself against him, solid and hot, Harry cannot stop himself from crying out, only to be greeted with smug silence. Malfoy’s power to control himself has always irked Harry, probably because it’s something Harry never could master, and he loses no time in evening the score.
He lowers his face to Malfoy’s chest, the oil spreading over his own skin making him as slippery as the other man, and lashes at Malfoy’s rosy nipples with his tongue, hardening each tender little nub, teasing Malfoy until he finally releases a muffled half-sob and Harry sucks on him with all his might, nipping with his teeth until Malfoy is groaning and rutting himself against Harry’s stomach. He tugs at Harry’s hair until Harry stops, and Malfoy scoots down to cup Harry’s face in his hands, stealing a quick kiss. Then he reaches over Harry, his hand travelling straight down Harry’s back until it dips into the crack of his buttocks.
Harry sighs as Malfoy slowly traces around his hole, his touch feather-light, and he does not complain when he feels a warm finger nudge its way inside him. He pulls his muscles tightly around Malfoy’s finger, and Malfoy pushes through, pressing deeper, jabbing his slicked finger in and out, as Harry shoves himself against it, dying for release. Malfoy withdraws his finger, disregarding Harry’s protests, and urges Harry’s hips up, hooking a long leg over Harry’s waist. He palms Harry’s testicles so he can slip himself underneath them and between Harry’s legs, and slides the full length of his oil-moistened cock into the tender crease of Harry’s arse, rubbing himself against the sensitive inner flesh, the head prodding his entrance with each stroke, but never penetrating.
Malfoy moves as smoothly as butter against Harry’s fragile, hidden skin, and Harry can feel every ridge and crease of Malfoy’s cock as it licks him up and down. Harry rocks his hips in response to each thrust, his own cock swelling even more as it pushes and rubs against Malfoy’s trim abdomen, and the pressure in his testes mounts until it threatens to become unbearable. He reaches down to finish himself off, but Malfoy gets there first, wedging his hand between their stomachs to close his fist around Harry. There is no time for Harry even to gasp Malfoy’s name before he comes, inciting both Malfoy’s echoing cry and the warm wetness that spills into his cleft.
Harry feels a deep sense of calm. For once, there is nothing he needs to do. Nothing, except to nestle into the sweet crook of Malfoy’s neck while Malfoy hums softly, stroking Harry’s back with a languid hand, his leg still thrown over Harry. If Harry hadn’t known better, he would almost suspect that Draco Malfoy was cuddling him. And that he, Harry James Potter, was letting him do so.
He peers up at the sky and notices yet another moon; this one is an odd crescent-shaped sliver, bright pink in colour.
“Malfoy,” he says hoarsely. “Am I -- are we -- behind the veil?”
Malfoy’s laugh is almost affectionate. “Don’t be daft, Potter,” he murmurs, and kisses his cheek.
Something is being pressed into his hand, but Harry can’t be arsed to look at it or figure out what it is, and Malfoy is whispering into his ear, “Now hold on and don’t let go.”
Malfoy’s body is still curled around his and Harry is inhaling his delicious scent, wishing that he could stay here forever, when the scene fades and he falls into dense blackness, streaming toward a tiny point of light.
Yellow rays of sun are just beginning to creep through the half-closed blinds of Harry’s room. Harry stirs, and feels the sheets sticking to him between his legs. One of those dreams again, no doubt.
He is not in his rented rooms, nor at the Ministry. It takes a moment for Harry to recognize where he is, but he cannot imagine how he got here, or why he is here. This is a place for sick people, and he does not feel ill or in pain. What he does feel is good and hungry, and he guesses there must be someone around here willing to bring him food, even at this early hour. House-elves are among the rare creatures that actually enjoy getting up early, after all.
But to ring for the bell that rests on the empty bedside table, Harry needs to rid himself of whatever is balled up in his hand, which is only the end of a strip of gold and crimson stretched taut across the bedspread.
When he sees where the trail leads, Harry is not surprised. “Oh, it’s you,” he says. He smiles, and then he laughs aloud, giving the tie a rude yank.
Malfoy’s bound wrist jerks and his eyes flutter open. He lays on the floor next to Harry’s bed, uncovered, his neatly folded cloak an improvised pillow under his dishevelled white-blond head.
“Expecting someone else? Really, Potter!” he grumbles, but Harry can tell that Malfoy is secretly pleased.
“Come here,” Harry orders, and for once, Malfoy obeys, allowing Harry to pull him from the floor into the more comfortable bed, his wrist still trailing Gryffindor colours. There is so much they need to say to each other, but for now, no words are necessary; just Malfoy’s lips meeting Harry’s, their bodies fitting together like the clasp of two hands.
And when the Healer finds the sleeping lovers wrapped in each other’s arms, she promptly updates her prognosis: the odds for Harry’s recovery are far greater than even.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT: Several of the dream sequences here were inspired by a particularly lyrical passage in Bee Season by Myla Goldberg, at p. 268-270 (paperback edition). And scarlet and gold, crimson and honey, the colours of Gryffindor trickle through this just as they do in Right Through Him by chiromancy.