Title: All Tomorrow's Parties
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco (peripheral Harry/Ginny, Draco/Pansy, Draco/Blaise)
Summary: There are pictures worth a lot more than a thousand words. This is their story.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Angst, not-quite character death, mindfuck
Epilogue compliant? No.
Word Count: 5400
Author's Notes: In addition to your request, practically every scene in this fic recalls various pieces of your artwork, lillithium. Photo of the drawings I used here. The opening paragraph uses the captions you wrote for this. Have a wonderful holiday. ♥ Much love to my betas for their able assistance. Love also to the Velvet Underground and Mary Howitt.
Of rags and silks, a costume
Fit for one who sits and cries
For all tomorrow's parties
~The Velvet Underground & Nico;
'All Tomorrow's Parties' (1966)
"What if we could just go away, someplace where magic never existed, where nobody would care?"
Harry's hair is rumpled. Draco stares at his own feet.
"There can never be such a place, Harry Potter. You should know, better than anybody else."
Draco feels frail in his white St. Mungo's robes. Behind him looms a hero's tombstone, alone amid the brambles underneath a tree. They're not real. Not the brambles. Not the tree. Not the stone. Draco chose this place. His clothes. Harry's clothes. That stone.
He could unbutton their shirts and set them down with their backs to the tree. Move the stone.
This isn't real.
(will you walk into my parlour said the spider to the fly)
A disembodied whisper with a wicked smile echoes down a spiral staircase, down into a room with glowing walls. Three paintings hang here, covered with black gauze. It clings to the painting like a lover, but Draco's fingers tug it away.
There are lovers in the first painting. Draco is sleeping, his hand curled on the empty space next to him. It is the sort of empty space where someone belongs -- its emptiness is transient. Draco's hand is waiting for someone to push it gently out of the way. Harry stands behind him, eyes content though his overcoat drips with rain. He has come to claim that empty space, but for now he wants to watch Draco sleep. Everything promises a happy reunion when Draco wakes. He never does. It is only a painting.
There are fireworks in the second painting. A symphony of colour gallops through the dusk. A big wheel spins lazy circles behind a pair of boys watching a magic show. Draco looks mildly surprised -- this Muggle faker is better than some Hogwarts students he knows. Ice cream drips from his cone onto his trousers, but only Harry notices. He's been watching Draco tongue the cone for so long, he had to look away. The white creamy drops on Draco's thigh don't help. Behind them, the wheel's passengers clamour to be heard in tiny voices, all for naught. It is only a painting.
There are flowers in the third painting. Harry's bouquet is half as tall as he is, and Harry seems happy. He doesn't know if he brought the flowers or not -- it's a painting -- but the look on Draco's face is worth it. Draco's hand is on Harry's chest.
"What do you think you're playing at, Potter?"
"They are lovely, aren't they?" Harry smiles sweetly. Too sweet to be real.
Their near-embrace is crushing the flowers. Harry smiles and smiles and smiles.
Lovely, aren't they.
It is only a painting.
They all are.
But beneath the lovely strokes creeps a subtle wrongness. In the dim glow of this room, the paint is garish. In places, it's peeling -- flecks of colour waver on the edge of flight. As though the paint can't stand the lie it has given life to.
This isn't how things are supposed to be, not for Draco and Harry. Never for them.
Draco puts the gauze back where it belongs. Hiding the faces and flowers and fireworks and all their lies.
He smiles. Oh, but those were early days yet.
(the way into my parlour is up a winding stair)
"I can't believe I got it wrong," Hermione says for the tenth time that morning. She's got her Ancient Runes textbook open, staring at the same page for five minutes now.
"Gib id a reft, 'Er-my-nee," Ron mumbles from above his plate.
Harry's barely listening. His food is finished. That he lingers in the Great Hall has nothing to do with who's at the Slytherin table. He's just waiting for his friends; that's all. It has nothing to do with the dream he had last night.
Draco Malfoy, clad all in black except for a length of red silk binding his arms to his torso. His eyes are downcast, as though he is ashamed to wear the wrong colour. The colour of sin.
"It suits you," Harry says.
Draco doesn't look up. A sneer flits across his face, and suddenly Harry can't speak for the silken rope over his mouth. He reaches behind his head and lifts one end to see. Green, of course. The colour of curses.
"Huh?" He looks up. Ron's food is finished, and Hermione has closed her book. "Sorry."
Ron frowns. "It's not You-Know-Who, is it?"
"Nah," Harry says, smiling easily. He almost wishes he were thinking about Voldemort. Less confusing. At the Slytherin table, Pansy Parkinson is so close to Draco she's practically in his lap.
The dream haunts him. Sometimes he feels like the dream is watching him when he's awake. Like it wants to be a daydream. It him in the weeks to come, and then months.
The war ends. They win. The dream keeps returning. Red versus green.
Seventh year, Ravenclaw versus Hufflepuff.
There is a blue-and-bronze design on Draco's cheek. It doesn't suit him, but since Slytherin was disbanded after the war, he's done his best to adapt. Slytherins are good at that, too.
"Yeah?" Oh, he's leaning in close. Too close.
Draco's tongue flicks out briefly at Harry's lips. "Lose the stupid face. It doesn't suit you."
Harry runs away, because he doesn't know how to cope with a world where Draco Malfoy is allowed to lick him. A world where Harry likes it.
The next day, Harry's shrugging into a jacket, struggling to fit it over his newest Weasley jumper. A hand grabs his jacket and warm lips press against his for a too-short second.
"Mistletoe," Draco says, pointing.
Harry runs away again.
Hours later, he stands inside Draco's dormitory, trembling beneath the Invisibility Cloak. Draco is on his back, his neck arched, hair fanned out atop blue sheets. His mouth is slack with pleasure, and Harry can't help wondering if Draco thinks of him when he's like this.
Draco's shoulder is slightly raised off the bed. As though waiting for someone to come and claim it. Harry wants to do that. Wants to trace his fingers down pale skin, just there.
"I didn't know you only liked to watch," Draco whispers, eyes still closed.
Harry doesn't run this time. Not in the opposite direction, anyhow.
After five weeks, Harry still can't get enough. Draco's head is thrown back, and Harry's licking along an uneven upwards path. His eyes are closed, and all he sees now is red silk furling down and down Draco's body, engulfing them both in wickedness.
"Oh, put your glasses back on," Draco sighs. "That's my pillow, not my face."
Harry grins. "Maybe I like your pillow better than I like your face."
Much later, it's time to go back to Gryffindor Tower. Harry straightens the collar of his robes and glances at Draco, who's been watching him, head on the long-suffering pillow. His hair is mussed, and the half-smile on his lips has promise, but he isn't looking at Harry.
In the corner of the room, a paintbrush lies abandoned across a messy palette.
(who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again)
Draco stands next to a fizzling street lamp. The wind's fingers comb his hair with careless cruelty. The cold air stings his lips. Of the fireworks, nothing remains but a hint of blue smoke. It gets in Draco's eyes. It gets in his nostrils. It makes the back of his throat taste like ash. The street is silent but for a lone drunken reveller singing Auld Lang Syne somewhere in the creeping darkness amid the wind's soft whines.
This is Knockturn Alley at the end of the war.
Draco doesn't wait long. A crowd emerges from one of the buildings and fills the street with aimless chatter. Draco knows some of these people. He cares for few of them. Harry is the last one out; he locks the door and stands by it, blithe. His eyes are blank. No one knows the name of his puppet master. Some said the outcome of the war depended on that name. But the war is over, and Harry Potter is still Imperiused.
Draco takes Harry's hand and leads him home.
At home, Harry makes tea. He always makes tea after coming through the door. Cupboard, kettle, sink, faucet, stove. He sits on the bench by the table and waits for the water to boil. His expression is almost pensive. Draco sits behind him, arms round Harry's waist, and presses his forehead against Harry's back. He still remembers a time when he would sit with his back to Harry, tilting his face up to the sun, listening to Harry whisper in his ear.
"Remember when we duelled in fourth year and ended up inside Longbottom's Remembrall?"
Draco did remember. Longbottom's Remembrall had been full of flowers. Draco had been trying to Disarm Harry. Then Harry was standing there, bewildered: his wand had turned into a stemless calla lily. He gasped, dropping it, and it burst, filling Draco's vision.
Harry and Draco were back to back amidst a sea of impossibly tall calla lilies.
"Now what?" Harry had asked. "Where are we?"
"I don't know. It's your fault."
Another Draco emerged from the thickets, half naked, carrying four lilies. From behind him stepped another Harry, identical to the real one but for his fistful of daisies.
Draco remembers that. He remembers everything that came after, too. The scars on Draco's chest will never fade. Now Harry doesn't even know he put them there.
The kettle's whistle rips into their silence. Harry extricates himself gently and pours the water over yesterday's leaves. The tea tastes like mouldy dishrags. Draco drinks it anyway. After teatime comes bedtime.
Draco lies on his back and watches a spider traverse a glimmering web-strand round the ceiling lamp. Warm hands slide up his legs. Harry's face hovers above Draco's crotch, and Draco's cock stiffens in anticipation. Harry presses his open mouth to the bulge in Draco's pants.
"Let me suck you off."
In the morning, Harry stands in front of the bathroom mirror, unshaven. His eyes are sceptical. Draco doesn't know what moves him to turn Harry around.
"Are you still there?" he mumbles, pressing his forehead against Harry's. "Can you hear me?"
Harry strokes the small of Draco's back and pulls him in. "Shhh," he soothes. "Can't you hear the train?"
It's all he ever says.
Later, Harry trails soft kisses down the side of Draco's neck. Draco stares at the half-empty bottle of Firewhisky on the bedside cabinet. Last night, Harry made tea and sucked him off. Tonight, they drank Firewhisky, and Harry fucked him. Tomorrow night, they will buy rancid coffee from the corner shop, and Harry will ride him.
This is Knockturn Alley at the end of the war.
Next to the window stands an easel with a hook at the bottom. From the hook hangs a cupful of pencils.
( you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high)
The skies are especially clear today. The crisp blue hue infuses the Manor grounds with added majesty, but Draco longs for clouds. He stirs sugar into his tea and glances at Harry, who's reading the Daily Prophet, a faint shadow of weariness etched across his brow.
The obscenity of it catches Draco off-guard. For Harry Potter to sit in this garden and read the newspaper as though he belongs -- this was never what he wanted. Was it?
Didn't he seduce Harry for a purpose greater than sharing a spot of tea in the gazebo after their weekly trysts? Why, then, does he allow himself to grow complacent? To feel comfortable. He wants this, that's why. He wants it forever. To stay trapped between hatred and longing like this.
That must be the reason he always wishes it were cloudy when they're here. Clouds would hide Draco's shame from the heavens, from the keen eyes of his dead parents.
"You give up a part of yourself whenever you perform a spell. Did you know that?" he murmurs.
"Hmm?" Harry glances up, the brightness of his gaze astonishing Draco. "For Dark magic, you mean?"
Draco shakes his head. "No. Dark spells just take more than most people are willing to give."
"It's an interesting theory," says Harry, returning his attention to the sports section.
"Tell me, Harry Potter," whispers Draco into the darkness of his study months later. "What would you give to live forever?"
Harry doesn't answer.
Outside, the clouds move on. Moonlight shines upon an empty picture frame propped against the wall.
(rest upon my little bed, said the spider to the fly)
"Why do I have to sit with him, Mum?" Harry whines.
He is eleven years old, and he is going to Hogwarts. His mother wants him to sit with Draco Malfoy -- her best friend Narcissa's son -- but Harry has always hated Malfoy. He doesn't want to share his first journey to Hogwarts with that little prat.
Draco doesn't look too pleased, either, but he's too hoity-toity to make a scene. He merely sneers, disdainful.
The two women exchange exasperated glances. Before they can say anything, the students are called to board. Inside the train, Harry and Draco look to each other for silent agreement. They exchange stiff nods and head in opposing directions.
Five years later, Harry sits by the Hogwarts lake beneath a fat moon. Ginny is by his side, and she's no longer laughing.
"Why don't you take off your glasses?" she asks. "It's spooky, the way they reflect the moon. Like you've got no eyes."
She's got an arm round his neck, so tight it's nearly a chokehold. Like she knows where he goes when she sleeps. Like she knows he's not really with her when they're together. Like she knows Harry's heart will never be hers.
There is a photograph in Harry's bedside drawer, of Draco in a grey jumper over a white shirt, his eyes proud and vacant. Harry stands next to him in black robes, blank-eyed and listless. It's clear from the photograph that the two boys would much rather be anywhere but in each other's company. An albino peacock struts atop a wall behind them. Across the back of the picture, just one word: yours.
On the eve of seventh year, Harry finds himself next to Draco on the platform. Their mothers are no longer friends, but they are. Much more than that.
This time, Harry wants a compartment all their own, where he can lock the door and watch Draco take off his Muggle clothes. They would eventually change into their school robes, but there are hours between London and Hogsmeade. This time, Harry wants to sit with Draco. But he can't.
He shoots Draco a sidelong look.
"Later," Draco mutters and lets Pansy Parkinson drag him away.
Harry hates Pansy as much as Draco hates Ginny.
They haven't seen each other all summer, but it takes only a day for them to have a row.
They're in the Room of Requirement. Draco was here first, and so the furnishings are lavish. Down to the huge panelled window that replaces one wall. A window to nowhere.
Harry sits on the bed, half-naked. Draco is standing over him.
"I thought you didn't let her touch you," he snarls.
"I don't," Harry replies. "Not when you're there." The object of Draco's ire is a faded love bite on Harry's collarbone. "Don't tell me you've gone without all summer."
"I--" Draco starts, but doesn't finish. His eyes are unreadable.
Harry's heart sinks. "You have?"
"Forget it," Draco snaps and starts to walk away.
Harry's arm shoots up and curls round Draco's elbow.
"Don't," Harry says, looking away. "Don't leave."
Draco doesn't. Harry's on his knees in front of him, and Draco holds his head between his hands. Harry reaches around him, and Draco's robes fall all the way down.
In another month, Harry sits atop an Astronomy Tower battlement, his overcoat loose. Draco climbs up the stairs and stops next to him.
"I thought we agreed you wouldn't brood once I took the Mark."
"I told you, it's fine. I knew you would. I always did."
"Then why are you so pissed off?"
"I dunno. I keep thinking-- never mind." Harry pushes his glasses up his nose. "Forget it."
Neither of them can forget it, but it doesn't make a difference. They've always opposed each other. Gryffindor and Slytherin, darkness and light. In the real world, they're enemies. But when they're together, the world can disappear for all they care.
The world doesn't disappear. It keeps ushering time along, like always.
Draco swings his head down from the top bunk of the bed in the Shrieking Shack. "Must you fight him?"
"I have no choice," Harry says, pressing his lips to Draco's Adam's apple. "I can fight or I can die."
"You'll die either way," Draco whispers and closes his eyes. "Let's run away. Someplace they won't find us."
"There can never be such a place, Draco Malfoy. You should know, better than anybody else."
Harry's funeral service is held in a dinky Godric's Hollow church. Draco doesn't know why he's even there. He sits at the back, not listening, not seeing, just remembering. After a long trip through time, the service is over and he is alone. He lights a cigarette, shielding it against an absent wind. Morning light filters through the stained glass, colouring patterns into the smoke.
Someone has forgotten a sketchbook in one of the pews.
(pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin)
The Potions master drones on about the dangers of Amortentia, but Harry doesn't process any of it. He's watching Draco sneak glances at Blaise Zabini, and Harry's quill is making a frightful mess of his notes.
They've been roommates at Beauxbatons for six years. For three of those, Harry's had a soul-destroying crush on Draco. When Draco walked into their room in September and announced he wanted Blaise Zabini to fuck him into the next millennium, Harry could hardly believe his luck. Then he could hardly believe his misfortune. He knows Draco and Blaise haven't gone past flirting. Yet. He knows because he is the best friend, the roommate, the confidant. As such, he gets regular progress updates.
With every one, his heart clenches tighter. Soon it will contract so hard it'll disappear into itself, and Harry will die. On his tombstone, they will write "he died from lack of courage". Draco will probably come by the gravesite later and scribble "lily liver" at the top with charcoal. Because he's Draco.
Harry's had a persistent fantasy lately, where he and Draco face each other in an empty room. They're both wearing Muggle trousers, unbuttoned at the top, and they're waiting to see which of them will make a move first. He can never imagine it going either way.
"I," proclaims Draco, startling Harry out of his impending-funeral-induced fugue, "don't like your lips, Harry."
Harry sits up in his bed, somewhat heartened that Draco even noticed he had lips to like.
Draco vaults himself onto Harry's bed. He's brandishing a tube of lipstick. "I'm going to make you new ones."
Harry can't help but laugh. "Where the hell did you get that?"
"That cow Delacour. She was telling me off for loitering outside the prefects' meeting room again, so I nicked it from her pocket. Come here."
"Don't be stupid," Harry chides, but Draco pulls his head down into his lap. Harry finds he doesn't want to move ever again. Even though he knows Draco loitered outside the prefects' meeting room so he could run into Blaise.
"There's a good boy," Draco says, beaming. He leans down and presses the blood-red lipstick to the corner of Harry's mouth. "I've always wanted to know how these things work," he confesses.
Harry doesn't dare speak. First, he doesn't want lipstick all over his face. Second, he's never been closer to Draco than this and he's afraid he can only manage grunts right now, never mind syllables. The lipstick's obscenely slick texture and Draco's look of unholy glee are hypnotising, and Draco's careful, slow movements are making Harry struggle not to whimper.
He's sure Draco will notice it soon -- the flush creeping up his neck, the embarrassing bulge blossoming beneath his robes. His jack-hammering heart.
"There," says Draco, lifting the lipstick with a flourish. "Much better."
And Harry opens his stupid mouth. "Do I get a kiss?"
Draco bats his eyelashes. "I didn't know you felt that way about me, Harry." He thinks Harry's joking. Harry finally says something -- not out of courage, but pure young lust -- and Draco thinks he's joking. Typical.
Draco bounces off Harry's bed to toss the lipstick into his drawer. "So, are we still going to the fair?"
"Y-yes," Harry says. He's not looking at Draco, because Draco would notice his violently red face. "Just let me get the lipstick off."
"I spend all that effort to get you ready for the fair and you just want to get it off?"
Draco sounds scandalised, but Harry's already in the bathroom, swiping at his mouth with toilet paper and splashing cold water onto his face. In the mirror, remnants of the lipstick look like blood. He walks back out, feeling much less floaty. "I'm not wearing lipstick in public," he says firmly.
"Not even for me?"
Harry smiles. "Especially not for you. Git."
Along the way, Draco talks his ear off about his most recent victory with Blaise. For once, Harry is not interested. It terrifies him how close he was just now to simply overpowering Draco and taking what he wanted. And he still wants it, oh, so badly. But he could never take it by force. Could he?
They're sneaking out to the fair because rumours promise a fireworks-maker from Paris, and everyone knows Paris has the best fireworks in the world. They are not disappointed. Within sight of the fairground, they see it -- a giant five-pointed star blooming across the darkening sky ahead. Harry's heart soars at its beauty, hope flooding out anxiety.
And Harry says.
And Harry says, "I do feel that way about you."
"What?" Draco's got a strange look on his face, like he honestly doesn't think he heard Harry right.
"I do want you to kiss me," says Harry. He pulls Draco to him so that their mouths are level. "Kiss me."
His lips are barely parted; a part of him can hardly believe what he's doing. But Draco's tongue is already sliding into his mouth. Harry forgets the star, the lipstick, and everything else except the heat inside Draco's mouth. The way Draco's fists are tightening in his robes. Harry feels Draco's erection against his thigh. He can die now, really.
They stumble off the road into the waist-high grass, still kissing, and Draco goes to his knees as soon as they find a small clearing. "Let me suck you off," he pants.
Harry stares at him, astonished at the intensity in his eyes. Draco laughs. "You have no idea, do you? I've watched you abuse that cock of yours for years now. All I've wanted since the first time was to suck it."
"Shut up," Draco snarls, yanking Harry's robes up. "Hold these up so I can see."
Harry comes after two flicks of Draco's tongue. Draco swallows it all and then pulls Harry down to the ground, moves Harry's hand to his own crotch. Harry's dazed. He must have fallen asleep in the room; that's the only explanation for this. For the kisses. For their clothes thrown aside. For their intertwined bodies.
He's dreaming this. Only in a dream would he get hard again this quickly. And dreams don't cost anything. Harry lets go of Draco's cock and pulls him up. "Ride me," he whispers, and hooks a finger through the red Beauxbatons scarf that's still around Draco's neck.
"Fuck," gasps Draco as he sinks down on Harry's cock. "Why-- ah -- didn't you say something-- sooner, you bastard?"
Harry doesn't dignify him with a response. He's only a figment of Harry's overactive imagination, after all. Then Draco bites into his shoulder, causing all kinds of real pain.
Draco's moans of pleasure are still echoing in Harry's ears when he comes. It really does feel better than wanking, this. He's shaking, and it takes a while to stop. Draco is curled against his side, whispering words Harry can't make out. He's pretty sure they're good words, though.
He looks up at the sky, where the fireworks have yielded to rain clouds.
When they return to the residence hall, they still can't stop touching each other. Harry's fingers grip Draco's shoulder, and Draco strokes the side of Harry's face with one hand as they stand by the window.
"Draco," Harry urges, peering intently into Draco's face. "Let's go up to the room."
Draco's eyes are lowered; he's gazing at the miniature fir on the residence hall's front lawn.
A basketful of crumbled pastel sticks soaks up the rain beneath it.
(they never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed)
Draco stands in the arched doorway, a towel about his hips, and gestures with his wineglass.
"What do you want, Potter? Is there no place on earth safe from your intrusions?"
"You've done well for yourself," Harry says, pointedly not looking at him.
"I'm a Malfoy," Draco replies. "It goes with the territory. Now, what do you want?"
Harry does look at him, then. "The Death Eaters are on the move again."
Draco turns and presses his forehead against the archway's edge. He raises the wineglass to his mouth, but it suddenly smells like piss. He wants to vomit. "Wouldn't I be better off not knowing?" Why did you really come here?
"They want you," Harry says.
"I want you."
It's the unlikeliest place and time for such a confession, but Draco doesn't know if he'll get another chance. His betrayal has been discovered. He could die at any moment. He shivers beneath the blanket as Harry's eyes focus on him. It's dark in the cave, and they're huddled together for warmth, waiting for the cavalry.
Harry's lips are cold, but they're pressed against Draco's here in the dark, and that's all that matters. Draco breaks the kiss, closes his eyes, and rests his head on Harry's shoulder. They wait.
"What could they possibly want with me? Revenge is pointless."
"It's not revenge. You're the only person alive with an intact Dark Mark. They're going to use it to bring Voldemort's spirit back. They're going to kill you."
Draco sits with his back to Harry, trying not to let the warmth of Harry's body against his affect him. He's still too angry. Or tells himself he is. Harry's lips at his neck aren't helping.
"I'm going to marry Ginny," Harry says.
Draco raises his eyebrows, and his anger gives way to amusement. Harry's such a drama queen. "After one little row, you're going to go off and get married to someone else?" He curls a hand round Harry's forearm. "That's a little extreme."
"No, I-- I proposed three days ago."
Draco spins to face him. "What?"
Harry's eyes are stubborn. "I've told you we couldn't keep doing this. I want a future. A real family."
Kill him, will they? Let them come. "I'll take care of it. Go home, Potter."
"You can't take care of it." Harry's eyes are fierce. "I'm staying in town and bringing in a team to guard your villa. I can't let them kill you."
Draco leans one shoulder against the doorframe and watches him go. He remembers Harry on his knees, dragging his tongue up Draco's Dark Mark, repulsed and aroused all at once.
"You couldn't love me, either," he whispers.
Atop his desk, a large painter's quill soaks forgotten in an inkwell.
(he'll drag you up his winding stair)
They come up for air, and Harry gasps, "Never wear this in public again."
In his lap, Draco grips Harry's chin between two fingers and kisses him again. Harry moves his hand further up Draco's skirt, fingertips catching in the fishnet stocking beneath. "I didn't hear an answer," he growls.
"This was your idea," Draco says, nuzzling the side of Harry's face. "Mr We'll-Go-Undercover-They'll-Never-Suspec
Harry makes a fist through the stocking and rips it away from Draco's leg. His cock is so hard he's on the verge of tears. "That's not an answer."
Draco peers into Harry's eyes and chuckles. "Don't worry. It's not like I enjoy prancing about in a skirt."
It's still not quite an answer, but Harry knows it's the best he's going to get. Outside, it's the deepest night, disturbed only by distant roars from the Shunto freeway.
It's their fifth week in Tokyo. They've run out of excuses to stall their investigation, but they're too in love with the city to leave. Draco stands with his fingers splayed against the back of his head.
The petals cascade past, towards the sun. Harry watches Draco watch them.
If he died tomorrow, he would have no regrets.
That night, they bathe in Kabukichou neon, looking for a lead. They do more kissing than looking, and Draco starts to wonder if it was such a great idea to pair them up after all. Their particular brand of resolving differences doesn't allow for much time doing anything else.
They're standing outside a love hotel, trying to decide if the kanji on its sign match the scrap of paper Harry was given yesterday. They don't hear the gunshot. The bullet rips through Harry, and he stumbles backwards against the wall, his last smile frozen.
Sirens fill the sky. The drops of blood on the bricks are like dyed cherry blossoms.
Draco cradles the back of Harry's head in his lap. Harry held him like this just last night. His eyes are dry. "I'm sorry."
A discarded can of spray paint rolls across the pavement and bumps against Draco's leg.
(into his dismal den)
Draco hunches over the paint-splattered table, coffee cup clutched between pale fingers. He sets it down atop the front page of the Daily Prophet, hiding a photograph. Above the photograph, the fancy newsprint is still shouting.
SEVEN-YEAR SEARCH FOR HARRY POTTER ABANDONED; "BOY WHO LIVED" DECLARED DEAD
Dead? No. That's impossible.
It's impossible to kill someone, you see. What is a man, if not his immortal soul?
Harry is here. He stands inside a painting, his eyes fury-dark because he understands. For a long time, he thought there was a way out. Back to the real world. That's over, now. All he can do is wander, frame to frame. Wander and get pulled into the worlds Draco creates for him. For them.
Hogwarts, Knockturn Alley, Beauxbatons, the villa in Italy, Japan: Harry has lived those moments and died in them. But when the story ends, Harry returns. He remembers. He understands.
And he stands inside his painting, baleful eyes upon Draco's slender neck. His fingers clutch a switchblade -- a gift from Draco. A mocking concession to power long lost.
(walk into my parlour)
Eight years ago, Harry came to rid Malfoy Manor of its Dark artefacts. But the darkest magic lurks in the hearts of men. Harry didn't understand that then, even when Draco tried to tell him. But he understands now.
Draco seduced him. Harry used all his influence to keep their affair hidden. No one knew. No one but the two of them. Then Draco did what he planned all along.
A spell to trap a living soul in canvas and to build for it a world of dreams.
For Harry, freedom has gone beyond recall: his body rests beneath the gauze-draped paintings at the foot of a spiral stair. But in this gallery, he will live forever.
For when Draco's days are done, he too will be bound to these paintings. No magic without sacrifice.
Sometimes Draco lets himself think there's no eternity without forgiveness. He doesn't call it hope.
He drags a dry brush down fresh canvas. "I want to see the sunset from the top of Mount Everest, don't you?"
(said the spider to the fly)
And Draco paints.