Summary: Harry and Draco play with a different kind of snitch, at four hundred feet with no brooms.
A.N. I hope this hits a few of your kinks, and misses all the squicks! Thanks to G for the read-through.
It had taken Hermione the best part of a week cross-referencing myths to discover the most likely whereabouts of Rowena Ravenclaw’s crystal ball. That was after it had taken her roughly eighteen days to determine which of Fair Ravenclaw’s artefacts would most likely have been chosen by Voldemort to carry a portion of his soul. After all that, it took her a further four days to extract a workable mathematical function to help Harry pass the location’s defences, assuming they were still as legend and lore-poems described them.
During this time, Harry and Ron watched television (Ron being a new addict of the medium), ate crisps and assorted junk food, and refused to tidy up behind themselves. It was only when Hermione was downright cruel and reminded Harry that someone had got to the last two horcruxes before him already that Harry knuckled down and started paying attention.
Harry was still smarting from the purchase of Hufflepuff’s goblet from the Oxfam shop just two minutes before his arrival. To make matters worse, there had been the mysterious disappearance of Gryffindor’s sword from the Headmaster’s office not a week earlier; that one was meant to have been an easy one.
Harry’s determination to reach Ravenclaw’s crystal ball first was two parts a desire to make Voldemort very killable and one part a stubborn refusal to let someone else beat him yet again.
The crystal ball was, according to Hermione’s interpretation and extrapolation, at the pinnacle of an ancient lighthouse set on an island just off of the Hebrides. The witchlight of the tower was visible only to magical races, but illuminated the treacherous, mackled malaclaw-infested grounds it was set upon. It rose up out of the rocky wastes looking very much like the fractured spire of a gothic cathedral.
Harry stood at the edge of the sparse grasslands and watched the pink sun dip below the horizon.
“Any second now,” Hermione whispered. Ron shifted at her side, his eyes fixed on the pointed peak of the tower and the prickling autumn breeze stirring his red hair. With the rush of the wind and the nearby crash of the waves on the island’s shore, the air was full of a dull, constant roaring.
As the world settled into the blue-grey gloom of dusk, a light sparked in the tower. Even as the falling darkness hid the cruel edges of the rock and blurred the line between land and sea, the intermittent blue light pierced through its smothering weight like a needle through velvet. If Harry looked very carefully, he could see the flashing glow illuminating the hazy shapes of creatures crawling over the flat stones and down the walls of the chasms. He shivered and cast a doubtful look at Hermione, who could only shrug helplessly.
“Tell you what, mate,” said Ron, “You get that done in less than half-an-hour, I’ll make sure Hermione puts double rations of marshmallows in your hot chocolate tonight.”
Harry managed a faint grin then turned back to the tower. He took a step forward and dragged in a deep breath of cold sea air that frosted his lungs.
“Remember,” said Hermione, “seven, one, twelve. Let that cycle repeat three times. Two single flashes in a row mark the end of the cycle and if you haven’t done it by then, you have to start again. Seven flashes followed by one-“
“One flash followed by twelve flashes, put my hand in after that’s gone through three times,” Harry broke in. “I’ve got it.”
He took another few steps towards the tower, his jaw tightening with determination. Ron hung back, watching, but Hermione moved with him, sticking close to his elbow and her words coming too fast with her concern.
“They were very keen on protecting the light, and if you try reaching in at any other point in the cycle, you’ll die.”
Harry turned and gripped her by the upper-arms, searching her face intently. Her eyes were wide and full of anxiety, her lips had thinned to a line. He smiled at her with more cheeriness than he felt.
“I’m not going to die. I can count as well as anyone. I’ll get the globe, and then we’ll figure out how to destroy it. It’s going to be fine.”
He dropped a quick kiss on her cheek and glanced over at Ron, who moved forward to sling an arm around Hermione’s shoulders. Ron’s complexion looked eerily pale in the magical light, clashing with the vibrant colour of his hair. He wet his lips and grinned again at Harry.
“Go on then, we’ll be waiting.”
Harry nodded and, without giving himself another chance to think about it, Apparated to the tip of the tower. He had barely a second after appearing to scrabble for a handhold, his fingertips grazing painfully against the coarse stone. There was, just as Hermione had said there would be, a narrow stone ledge that ran about the cavity in which the charmed light was held. He pressed himself flat to the wall and tried to gather his nerve.
Never mind trying to count the flashes of the light, he was four hundred feet in the air on a ledge that was little more than a foot wide. The wind was fiercer at the greater height and the cold force of it buffeted him mercilessly, drying his mouth instantly and leaving him breathless. He glanced down, at the tiny monsters creeping across the swirling terrain, and felt light-headed.
He swallowed hard and turned his attention to the light. It seemed to originate from a small carving of a very blue eye, but in the corner of the stone hole, Harry could see the light glinting off a clear crystal ball. He made a mental note to congratulate Hermione on her brain when he next saw her, and set about counting flashes.
When the light had just finished its second cycle of seven, one, twelve, Harry heard such a loud crack he almost lost his footing. He righted himself, his feet scraping the edge of the stone ledge and sending down a little trickle of dust which was snatched away instantly by the wind. When he looked up again, his eyes narrowed.
With his pale hair and light eyes, Malfoy looked wraithlike. The radiance lit up the angles of his features, making his high cheekbones and sharp jaw appear sepulchral and unnatural. Harry was almost tempted to query whether he was an Inferius, when he decided that the more pressing question was what the hell Malfoy thought he was doing up here.
“Oh fuck. You’ve finally caught up, have you? Well, it took you long enough.”
Not for the first time Harry guessed, Malfoy got there first.
"You," said Harry, staring dumbfounded, as the waves of light rolled shadows over Malfoy's face. "You're the one who's been…"
A sharp, crooked grin twisted Malfoy's thin lips. He ducked his head in a nod then flicked his pale hair out of his eyes which had an almost feral glint to them. On the run and halfway into the atmosphere, and Malfoy's obnoxious, cocksure attitude was unaffected.
"Nicking horcruxes? That's right. God, you really are slow. Just as well we didn't leave it all to you. We'd still be waiting next century."
"We?" Harry demanded. "Who's helping you?" He paused and frowned, coming to the obvious conclusion and still finding it a poor fit. He shook his head even as he suggested it, willing Malfoy to laugh in his face and call him stupid as well as slow. "It's Snape, isn't it? Why would he be doing a thing like this? He's one of Voldemort's."
Malfoy's upper-lip curled into a sneer, revealing small white teeth that gleamed in the night. His pale eyes narrowed and he made a tiny noise of disdain in the back of his throat. His voice came thick and bitter as old chocolate.
"Everything's black and white to you, isn't it? Professor Snape couldn't possibly be on your side, could he?"
This was a theory Hermione had tried before, tentatively suggesting that Snape had been acting under the Headmaster's orders and that it had all been part of a greater plan to save Malfoy's life and protect Snape's role as a double-agent.
Harry didn't have to couch his refutation in the same tolerant tones as he had for Hermione, and simply snapped out,
"Snape killed Dumbledore."
Of course, while Hermione had had the sense and compassion to shut up, Malfoy was terminally devoid of both qualities.
"Because the old man told him to do it!" he hissed. He'd leant closer to speak and Harry tightened his grip on the stone as if by instinct. "Professor Snape is a hero."
The sudden white-hot anger that surged through Harry made the stone bite into his skin as his hands tried to become fists, and his jaw ached as he gritted his teeth. He couldn't be sure if it was the raging wind that made his head pound or something that came from within.
With every ounce of self-control that he could summon, and the determination not to kill anyone before it was entirely necessary, Harry turned his attention back to the beacon and began counting flashes again.
However, he didn't need to be looking at Malfoy to sense the sudden edge of calculation in his silence. Although Malfoy's gaze on him was a tangible weight, Harry grimly refused to allow himself to be distracted. He focused on the bursts of light and tried not to notice as Malfoy edged closer.
"Why don't you just go home, Potter?" he drawled after a moment. "Leave the horcrux-hunt to the experts and wander off back to whatever it is you're doing with yourself these days."
"Why don't you go home?" Harry muttered. "What's it to do with you anyway?"
"This is my contribution to the war," he snapped back in considerably more clipped tones. "And you're getting in the way of it. And will you stop counting!"
They were into the second cycle of flashes now and Harry was making a concerted effort not to even blink in case he lost count. Malfoy was not close enough yet for Harry to have to put any energy into being ready to counter-attack.
"If you want to be useful," he suggested, "go back to Snape and keep your hands off the horcruxes."
"But you're doing such a rubbish job of collecting them. Professor Snape and I are doing much better. So why don't you just piss off and fight your war? Or do you need help with that too? Need us to draw a map to You-Know-Who's house? 'Course your mudblood couldn't do that for you."
"Still don't dare say his name?" snapped Harry, turning to glare at him. He felt his stomach drop at the victorious expression on Malfoy's face.
"Aw, lost count, Potter? Never mind, I'll take it from here."
Harry took a deep breath and refused the provocation of Malfoy's sharp, gloating smile. He treated himself to a brief mental image of shoving Malfoy off the top of the tower and watching for the thud of blood and guts when he hit the ground, then went back to the light.
"But, Potter, this is stupid. Even if you get this one, I'll still have won best of three. You might as well go back to your mudblood and half-witted Weasley."
It would be a nice, clear unobstructed fall as well, mused Harry as he counted. There'd be nothing to stop the explosion of Malfoy's body on impact. The look on what would be left of his face would be well worth the lecture from Hermione.
"You've lost," Malfoy went on. "You may have always caught the snitch, but I'm the one finding the horcruxes."
The first cycle began, even as Harry became acutely conscious of just how close Malfoy was shuffling. The rasp of his feet on the stone was almost distracting simply for how it kept getting louder. The flashing of the beacon was burning into Harry's eyes now and he wondered if he'd be blind by the time he had the horcrux in his hand. It'd be a shame if he were, because he rather fancied seeing just how pig-sick it would make Malfoy.
"Potter, I'm telling you you've lost."
There was a pleasingly indignant note to Malfoy's voice as Harry continued to meet his goading with silence. He was too close; Harry could feel the warmth of his body. But he sounded peeved and that would make winning all the more worthwhile.
"Look, Potter, get the fuck out of my way and let me have my horcrux," hissed Malfoy.
His thin fingers dug into Harry's shoulder and tried to pry him away from his scrutiny of the lamp. For a second, in his surprise, Harry almost lost count. A small grunt escaped him as he shrugged Malfoy off. Blindly, he tried to shove him back. Just in time he remembered not to push too hard as having to rescue Malfoy would surely make him lost track of the flashes.
"Get your hand off me!" he growled.
But Malfoy only wriggled closer. It took Harry a moment to work out what he was doing; he was too shocked and oddly preoccupied by Malfoy trying to squeeze his way between Harry and the light. His thighs rubbed against Harry's, and then it was the curve of his arse grinding against Harry's hipbone.
"Just go away!" Malfoy snapped. "This is my horcrux! I won't let you be better than me at this!"
Harry was going to explain that this wasn't a bloody competition, or it hadn't been until Malfoy had turned up, when he realised something utterly bewildering and mortifying. He hoped that if he kept very still Malfoy might not notice that his cock was taking an interest in the warm, hard body pressed against it.
He wet his lips and wished he could screw his eyes shut and not have Malfoy's face turning to look at him. The light was all that mattered, he told himself. It didn't matter that he was getting stiff from having Malfoy pinned between him and the wall. It was a natural reaction for a teenage boy who wasn't getting any and whose living arrangements left no privacy for self-maintenance.
But Malfoy was staring at him, his lips parted in wonder. His smile grew slowly but inexorably. Humiliation wouldn’t let Harry breathe, but there was something beneath it too: a mad urge to make the situation even worse.
"Oh God," whispered Malfoy, sounding both amused and delighted.
"Shut up," muttered Harry. He was grateful to the stinging wind for hiding his burning cheeks.
He focused all he could of himself on the beacon; his cock still refused to pay attention to anything other than the pertness of Malfoy's arse. The logical side of his mind was more than happy to lose itself in something nice and simple like counting, but the less reasonable side of Harry's mind continued to wonder whether Malfoy's cock was as big as his and whether he'd ever given a blowjob before.
As such, there was considerable internal conflict when Malfoy's hand crept down behind himself and gave Harry's cock a firm squeeze through his jeans. Harry's eyes widened and he gave a shaky moan. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Malfoy's head tilt and he couldn't help but wonder what his expression was, whether he was disgusted or victorious or as aroused as Harry was.
It was awkwardly done, but Malfoy's fingers fumbled about until they caught hold of Harry's flies and then pulled. He felt the prickle of cold air through his thin briefs, and he prayed that it would be enough to make his cock settle down. But when the hot points of Malfoy's fingertips felt out the rigid length of it, it only seemed to get harder.
"I'm not going to look away," Harry said breathlessly, even as Malfoy's grip on his cock tightened.
Being held in his warm fist was so much better than wanking himself off. It was strange and new and Harry's hips bucked a little. In immediate response, Malfoy's fingers wrapped hard about him. Just being held in someone else's hand, having someone else touch him, was a revelation.
Then Malfoy jerked his wrist and dragged a groan from Harry. He glanced over his shoulder and his smile was wicked.
"Bet you look away," he said.
Harry shook his head, but as Malfoy's wrist gave a sharp twist, Harry found it becoming a nod. He wished it were wetter, or that Malfoy were touching his bare skin. But the smooth slide of Malfoy's fingers through cotton underwear gave enough friction that Harry had to bite his lip to keep quiet.
Malfoy's hand worked him fast and Harry could feel the head of his cock jutting damply against his underpants. The thin slap of the material became a sharp, steady sound, which broke only when Malfoy twisted his hand in the right angle in order to rub his thumb over the moist press of the head of Harry's cock.
And through it all, on the most basic level, Harry went on counting. It was nearing the end of the second cycle. In the uneven bursts of light, Harry could see the swish of Malfoy's pale hair as his own hips worked in time with his hand on Harry.
It seemed to happen by accident, in between flashes of light Harry's hand went from being tensed at his side to reaching round to the front of Malfoy's trousers. He rubbed the heel of his hand down his groin, sliding down the bulge of Malfoy's cock. The jerk of Malfoy's hips became more pronounced, and Harry wanted to sneer at his soft sigh but was too busy grinding back against him.
Mid-way through the third cycle, and their hips were thrusting in time as they fucked each other's hands. Malfoy's head rolled back against Harry's shoulder, his breath coming in small, hitched gasps. Harry could see the curve of his upper lip and his mouth hanging wide open. A light sheen of sweat made his pale skin shine, but despite every sign of rapture, his eyes were open and fixed on the light.
By the time the light was on its sequence of twelve flashes, Harry was rocking against Malfoy's wrist so hard it had to hurt. His skin felt feverish with the chillness of the air settling on the heat of arousal. There was a tightness in his lower belly, moving lower and lower.
As if in slow motion, Harry could see Malfoy reaching towards the light. With a mad crush of lips as he came messily in his underwear, Harry kissed Malfoy fiercely. He shoved his tongue past Malfoy's surprise-slackened lips even as he thrust his own hand into the light's cavity. Malfoy didn't struggle against the kiss and Harry pulled him tighter against him, while his fingertips brushed something cold and smooth.
Pulling Rowena's crystal ball free from its hiding place, Harry finally let Malfoy go. Malfoy blinked and seemed to sway on the spot. Harry grinned at his kiss swollen lips and did his flies again. His underwear was sticking to him uncomfortably, but he'd just had a handjob from Malfoy, and still won the competition.
"You… you cheated," said Malfoy at last. The beautifully dazed expression disappeared, and an entirely different flush crept along his cheekbones. His eyes narrowed and he jerked away from Harry. "You cheated."
Harry raised the crystal ball and let it sparkle in the light. He snatched it away as Malfoy reached for it.
"Two out of three isn't bad, Malfoy," he said, and Disapparated before Malfoy could give him the short trip back to the ground.