hd_hols (hd_hols) wrote in hd_holidays,

Happy H/D Holidays confiteor_3 Part 5/5

Author: grey_hunter
Recipient: confiteor_3
Title: Bed & Late Night Snack, Part 5/5.

"I must confess, I expected to find you two somewhere different – doing something different – after having had that Privacy Charm up for so long…" she said, the 'wearing something different' – or rather 'wearing considerably less'-part implied in her tone. Her lips quirked into an unapologetic grin when her statement brought identical blushes to both Harry and Malfoy's cheeks.

Of course, that was all just an act, and after the first few seconds spent in uncomfortable silence, she didn't even try to pretend she expected them to believe it. "I can see now it was a good idea to bring you here, Mr Malfoy," she continued in a more business-like veneer.

She took a couple of steps into the room, and Harry found himself automatically moving to stand between her and Malfoy. It surprised not only him but judging from the small noise, also the other man. Malfoy stepped forward but came to a halt behind Harry.

For a second, a peculiar expression crossed Lucy's face, then she chuckled, the sound reverberating in the otherwise silent room.

"I don't know how you did it, Mr Malfoy, but apparently you did get him to trust you eventually. Congratulations," she said with a sarcastic tone in her voice that made Harry scowl at her. "You have done good work. Too bad we have no further use for Mr Potter. Now you can complete your assignment and get rid of him."

"What?" For a second, Harry thought the incredulous cry had come from him. "I'm not… What are you talking about?"

"Now, now, Mr Malfoy. There is no need to play your role anymore. The assignment is over as soon as you finish it, and then you can collect your payment as agreed – a very generous amount, I must say." Lucy took another step into the room and turned her smiling face toward Harry. "A nasty surprise, isn't it, Mr Potter? I am still going to thank you for stealing those documents for me. It would have been a shame not to make use of your special… abilities before ordering your death – you were offering, after all."

There was silence. Harry was standing very still, his eyes never moving from her face.

"You're bluffing," he told her finally in a calm voice.

He was vaguely aware of Malfoy letting out a shaky breath behind his back. He could hear Mad-Eye's voice inside his head, shrieking at him that he was making a tactical error by allowing a potential enemy inside his defences. On the other hand, Moody had never understood why Harry would take such risks, ignoring logic in favour of what his heart told him, but even he had to acknowledge that it worked. Right now, Harry's heart was telling him that he could trust Malfoy. "And very badly at that."

Malfoy took a step forward to stand beside Harry. He was a solid presence at his side, supporting him despite the fact that, just ten minutes ago, they had been at each other’s throats. Lucy's lips pulled into an exaggerated pout.

"Aw, that's so sweet," she purred. Harry thought she looked entirely too confident for someone who had just lost face. "You cannot blame me for trying, though," she said then, confirming Harry's suspicions that this failed mind game had been of little consequence in face of what was about to follow.

"You know who I am," he started with the question that wasn't really one.

"Is it time for introductions?" Lucy asked with a trill of laughter. "Of course I do. I take it you, in turn, know who I am, right?"

Harry shrugged; from the corner of his eye, he saw Malfoy's head jerking in his direction, but he stayed silent, for which Harry was grateful. Still, he thought it would be strategically more beneficial if Malfoy knew all the facts.

"Dilato's body was found dead two weeks ago," he said, directing the first half of his message to Malfoy. Though there had been doubts among the Aurors that the body found was really Dilato's, Harry now felt certain that Moody's guess had been right. "It has been suspected for a while that he wasn't the real leader here, just a pawn. Did he step over his boundaries, or were you trying to control him with that nice potion whose description your Mr Renfield was hiding in his office?"

She was playing her part rather well; Harry had almost not caught the momentary narrowing of her eyes that betrayed her surprise at the question.

"Oh no, Castor was useful in his way. The descendant of a powerful line of pure-bloods, magically strong, just not very strategically minded. He knew his place and was willing to take my 'advice' as long as I was content with supporting the illusion that he was the one holding the reins. His death was… unexpected." And she still didn't know whom to 'thank' for it.

"Did you try to use the controlling potion on us?" Malfoy cut in suddenly. His voice was steadier than before. He must have caught on to Harry's intentions to stall a bit and try to get the most information out of her before things turned ugly. For now, Lucy wasn't letting on how she planned to prevent them from leaving the place. Harry hoped that if they managed to keep her talking, she would sooner or later let something slip.

"That's what you're afraid of?" Lucy asked in a mock-surprised voice. "I didn't. If I had, I assure you, several things would have happened differently, and you two would be now in a hermetically closed bedroom, going at it like bunnies – and I'd have a VIP seat for the show."

Harry tried to suppress an inconvenient blush with little success, aware of the fact that her deliberate ribaldry was a distraction technique – but dammit, it worked too well. Her answer, though, indicated that she hadn't heard and seen what they had been doing while under the Privacy Charm, or else she was just humouring them.

Malfoy had a thicker hide because he immediately pressed on with the next question – this time a real one.

"And what about the other potions? Did you use one of those?"

Harry didn't like the way Malfoy's question made her smile.

"The other ones… Ah, you must be wondering about the one with which I'd be able to see into your mind. Am I right?" Her voice turned wistful, which didn't fit the situation at all. "Isn't it frightening to know that there is someone out there you don't see and don't hear, whose presence you don't even feel, listening in to every little thought you have? Seeing what you see and hearing what you hear? Feeling what you feel? Learning things you don't even know about yourself?" Her lips pulled into a wide, leering smile that made Harry wince. "I must admit, it would have been a real temptation with you two, especially last night…"

Lucy's glance flickered behind them again – Harry only now realised it hadn't been the first. She had done that several times in the past few minutes. Then she suddenly pulled herself up straight, her relaxed stance gone at once.

Harry instantly understood two things. One: that it had been a mistake to stall, as she had obviously been doing the same. Two: that whatever she had been stalling for was now here and the wait was over. He couldn't have known that she had been waiting for nightfall in order to be able to carry out her plans – now, as he risked a covert glance over his shoulder and saw the recently descended darkness through the windowpanes, things suddenly became clear to him. Realisation set in as Lucy continued her speech.

"Alas, Mr Renfield had his own agenda and I hadn't known that he had already managed to steal the research notes from the Department of Mysteries. Thus, I had to resort to using the real thing."

I reckoned that was my clue to reveal myself.

No more hiding in the shadows, no more the secret observer. Finally, after all these years, we got to meet again, face to face.

He was surprised, but not as much as I'd have expected. Malfoy at his side was shell-shocked and then also fuming with anger at the same time, but still ready for action, and I had to respect that in him. A brief glimpse into Harry's mind revealed that he was appreciating it as well; however, for different reasons.

"You!" Malfoy shouted, his foot jerking, as if he wanted to take a step forward but then thought better of it.

I gave him a grin and a nod – there was no reason to be impolite, after all. Even if, regrettable as it was, I'd most likely end up killing both of them. Alas, never try to be polite with mortals; it's a wasted effort: it only serves to fuel their anger – or their fear.

Harry, on the other hand, found his inner calm and was preparing himself for a fight. He thought Malfoy's antics would be able to distract me. A silly thing to do – he couldn't have won and he should have known it.

"Draco…" Harry's hand that wasn't clutching his wand curled around Malfoy… ah, right, I should be calling him Draco now. Harry had switched to calling him by his first name sometime during the previous day and I hadn't even noticed until now. He was now holding Draco's wrist in a firm grip – not restraining him, just reminding him to not rush into a fight impulsively. I should be proud of him that he had managed to learn that lesson himself. He had become a fine Auror, not the barely of-age boy as I'd last seen him.

"Well, as nice as this little reunion is, we have no time for small talk," Lucy cut in, impatiently. "Kingsley, catch them now."

The order was clear and my reaction instant. They had no chance to escape me. Before either of them could even blink, I had already moved and curled my fingers around their throats. My strength is enough to easily lift a human off the floor, my touch is paralysing for those I see as my victims, and it didn’t matter one bit that they still had their wands, as they weren’t able to lift it or utter a curse, even. If that had been possible, I would not have died that night in the graveyard.

No, the abilities of a mere human body, or even the mind, aren't powerful enough against me; those couldn’t save them. What could – and would - were the Dark protections injected into Harry's blood, much like Muggle vaccination. Sometimes, I wish they had been developed when they could have saved my life.

My skin was burning with the power of thousand suns biting into my flesh and, against my orders, I let go of him. No mind control is capable of overriding a vampire's instincts for self-preservation.

Harry broke his fall with a practiced move and rolled away from me. He was on his feet in the next second, his wand trained on me. Or at least in my direction, because the only thing he was able to point it at was Draco's body, which I held in front of me as a human shield.

"Why did you let him get free?" Lucy asked with a snarl. I think she had a pretty good idea herself.

"Auror protections," I answered, though I felt it was unnecessary.

Her wand quickly moved to point at Harry. I had seen her using it; I knew her efficiency. She could easily have cursed him. What made her hesitate was the way he had managed to free himself from my hold. She didn’t know whether her spells would work on him.

The conclusion was obvious. She shifted her focus and aimed at Draco.

"Potter! Put down your wand and surrender if you don’t want me to order my vampire to snap his neck. I had plans for him that require him alive, but I am more than prepared to sacrifice him if you force me to." Lucy's warning was as cold as my blood; it didn’t leave any doubt about her intentions.

Harry shivered and hesitated. He caught the raw fear in Draco's eyes, but also something else: defiance. I had the feeling that if Draco were able to talk in my grip, he would have told Harry to keep his wand. Draco was well aware of the consequences of such a refusal. There was no question whether I would or wouldn’t kill him. Apparently, Harry had not expected that uncharacteristic act of bravery from him – neither had I, for that matter. I think that was what finally made him surrender his wand.

The wood fell onto the carpet with a soft thump.

Lucy moved instantaneously, pointing her wand at him. "Step away from that stick, pretty boy," she purred, contented that she had got her way.

Harry shot her a dark glare, but obeyed. Then, in a sudden reversal, he lunged and stepped up right next to Lucy.

Lucy was a good tactician when it came to directing a business or a crime organisation – there was not much of a difference between the two – but she had only limited experience in battle. She usually let others fight for her – like Dilato, for example. She had made a grave error when she had allowed Harry to get that close to her, which he didn’t hesitate to exploit.

By the time she realised what was happening, Harry had already stepped around her outstretched wand and inside her defences. A flash of movement, and strong fingers seized her wrist. He disarmed her within the fragment of a second, sliding behind her back and pointing her own wand at her temple. Harry's other hand curled around her throat in a tight hold – the same way mine was curled around Draco's. The resemblance was so striking, it managed to distract me for a second. They both looked so fragile, slender and creamy pale… but no, this wasn’t the time to indulge my sweet tooth.

"I will not kill her if you let Draco go." Harry's voice meant business. His concentration on the mêlée, he hadn’t yet started wondering why I had allowed him to even out the odds so easily. It almost saddened me to have to disappoint him.

"I cannot do that. I have my orders."

"I repeat. If you don't let him go, I will kill her."

He was bluffing well – or would have been, had I not been able to see his innermost thoughts. Harry was a good Auror. He had disposed of many of his enemies – in the heat of battle, when he had no other choice but to kill or be killed. What he was not was a murderer who would be able to end a life in cold blood. Too bad.

"That would be a relief, actually," I told him.

Lucy's body jerked wildly in his arms but he held on fast, never letting his grip loosen. She meant to shout another order to me, but she froze into stillness while still just opening her mouth. Harry was quicker than her, and was apparently able to throw a Body-Bind nonverbally. Very effective.

"What do you mean?" he asked after removing the disturbance.

As it wasn’t in my power to change that, I didn’t see a point in mincing my words.

"You know the control can only be broken by the death of one involved. If you killed her, I'd be free of my orders. But as long as she is alive, I can't comply with your request."

Yes, straight speech he understood. Even if the situation wasn’t yet fully clear to him, he was trying to get the full picture. That much hadn’t changed since he had been young and under my protection…

"I knew there was something strange about you last time we talked." Harry's voice jolted me out of my musings. I should be paying more attention to him, I reminded myself. It came to me as a surprise how hard it seemed to keep track of my subject's thoughts and hold a conversation with him at the same time. I'd never done this before: come face to face with my assignments – except when I had killed them, but that didn't really count.

"When did this happen?" he asked with a little frown that said he was sorry for me. I have to admit I hadn't expected that kind of emotion; it amused me greatly, which prompted me to reward him with an answer.

"Two months after Dumbledore's death. I was sent on a nocturnal surveillance in a graveyard where You Know Who was supposed to have staged a meeting. Unfortunately, we didn't know whom he was meeting and fell prey easily to the creatures that inhabited the graveyard. I died that night, right after having seen my partner being killed. However, come next nightfall, I woke up – he didn't."

"Was that why you betrayed the Order?" Harry asked, very quietly and seriously. I felt compelled to answer him truthfully. It was strange to have this talk with a former comrade. It stirred up a sense of nostalgia that I hadn't felt in a long time.

"No and yes. The fact that I was turned wouldn't have been enough reason to also turn coat, so to speak. It was the wrong people learning about it and wanting to recruit me for their side. But I believe we have already talked about that."

He nodded, hesitantly. The reminder caused the conversation of the night I had left the Order for good to emerge from his memories and made me relieve it with him. I remembered every second of it, and it was strange to see it from his perspective this time. I heard myself speaking those condemning words… no, the words were just describing what I had done; my actions had been what had condemned me, even more than what I had become.

"It's not like I agree with their methods," I saw myself pleading. "And I sure as hell don't agree with their ideals. But half of my family is now dead because of them and because they thought I would be a good means to deliver you. I'm not in this anymore. I decided to salvage what can still be saved. I know you might not understand but the life of my only remaining daughter is more important to me than…"

He had cut in then, with all the power and desperation of his young ideals, trying to bring me back to my senses.

"But if Voldemort wins, she is going to die or live in fear. You can't seriously want that. You cannot seriously not have considered that."

My lips had twisted into a wry smile.

"I have considered it. My decision is final. I trust in your abilities; I know you are going to kill that bastard and be able to deal with all your other enemies as well."

"You realise that this makes you one of those 'other enemies'."
Harry's voice was low and steady. It wasn’t a question and wasn’t perceived as one either. The smile on my face faded abruptly. It hadn’t been much of a smile to begin with.

"I know. And I accept that. Even if I die by either his hand or yours, my daughter is going to live. That's all that matters to me."

"And what about the other lives you endanger? What about Ron and Hermione and Tonks? You are… were an Auror…"

I remember thinking then that there was no time for this argument. He couldn't change what had already happened and I was tired of fighting against my conscience.

"Right. Harry, this might hit you hard, but I don't believe in ideals anymore. Being an Auror means chasing Dark Wizards. Saving the innocent isn't a part of my job description."

It surprised me how vividly he remembered this last part. The memory faded, and we returned to the present again.

"What happened to your daughter? Was it worth it? Is she still alive?" Harry asked then.

I couldn't answer him aloud. Worth it? Yes, it had been worth it – anything would have been worth her life. She had been the only one who remained to me – the only connection to the life I'd once had. Do you think I'd be here and not with her, were she still there for me?

He reeled back and I realised that I formed that last question with the intention for him to catch it – without having uttered a word.

"You really are in my mind," he whispered, stunned. "What… what happened to her?"

"She was killed for her blood to be used in a spell to gain control of me," I told him. It had been the greatest mistake of my life – or my un-life. During the day, they had caught her. By the time night had come, she had already been dead and I had been made a slave to the woman he was holding captive.

I saw realisation slowly dawning on his face as he pieced the clues together. "You knew that I was going to attack her and you let me do it."

I nodded. Not much to argue with that. I felt Draco's body twitch in my hold, and Harry's attention was briefly riveted at the object of our bargain – or what I was hoping to become a bargain very soon.

"If I help you get your freedom back, will you let Draco go and let us leave with her?"

There was a noise coming from Draco, as if he was trying to object. I could feel his hatred practically burning through my skin – had he been able to transform it into raw magic, he might have killed me with it by then. Or tried to, at any rate. Harry was able to tell as well that Draco was not at all happy with that offer.

"I would," I said, amused by the useless squirming of this puny human in my grasp. Well, perhaps just a little taste… but no, that could lose me their cooperation. There will be time for it later. "Unfortunately, the spell cannot be broken unless one of us dies. You will have to kill her, as I cannot lay a hand on her."

I saw contemplation in his eyes. His body stiffened, and he was actually considering it, but I wasn’t holding my breath – figuratively speaking, of course.

He shook his head, frowning. "Isn't there a way around that? I need her alive."


"Then I can't."

"You might change your mind later."

As interesting as this little interlude had been, it had been, sadly, destined to disappoint. And even if I dared to hope, the minutes had been slowly ticking by; time had run out on us. The last participant of the game had arrived.

"Petrificus Totalus!" Harry had been distracted by his internal warring. He had not been expecting the sudden appearance of another player in the set up. It caught him unawares. I couldn’t be blamed for not having warned him; I still had my orders. Nonetheless, I had expected a little more resistance from him.

"Where have you been this long, Renfield!" Lucy sounded irritated when Harry's curse was finally lifted off her.

"I came as fast as I could," Renfield answered. He was a short, aging, not very impressive-looking wizard. He was not covering; it was just in his personality to fall back on self-defence whenever he was threatened. A trait that had been crucial for Lucy to choose him – easy to blackmail. He was a pure-blood from an old family, with some name that ended predictably with 'us', I think… Oh, right: Gus. Not that anyone remembered it.

"No matter now." Lucy was controlling her anger admirably, considering the recent events. "The plan has changed. We must get rid of him." She gestured towards Harry with disappointment firmly etched on her features. "He is too dangerous for us to try and put him under our influence. Renfield! Bring Draco here to the Potions lab. I need him to start brewing this controlling potion as soon as possible. Vampire, you can let him go now, then you can have your way with Potter. You can do anything with him as long as he ends up dead."

"But what makes you think Malfoy is going to be willing to make you the potion?" Renfield asked with a pained tone while following her fast-paced steps with nervous eyes – he had a good reason to be nervous. "And why do you need it in the first place? I thought everyone you use it on dies after a short time…"

"Oh, he will brew it, believe me, if he wants to live. As to why I need the potion…" Lucy stopped shortly and laughed, making Renfield cringe with fear. "…To hold my pet vampire in tighter reins. Technically, it could kill him, but it isn't like he could get any more dead than he already is."

Draco's body stiffened in my hold again. I let Renfield cast Mobilicorpus on him and puppet him out of the room after Lucy, then I turned to Harry.

He was still standing stiff in the middle of the room, but he wasn't unconscious as a normal wizard would be. A spark of anger and desperation was burning in his eyes as now he had come to understand the true extent of Lucy's scheme. That surge of emotion was usually enough for a trained Auror to break free of a Body-Bind, so I didn't need to call back Renfield to remove it. I only had to wait – and not even for very long.

I thought his first move would be to dive for his wand or even to come at me charging with his bare hands in the hope that he would be able to overcome me with sheer luck and instinctive spellcasting. A couple of years ago, he would have done that. Now though, he just stood there, his eyes boring into me, measuring, and waiting for me to make the first move.

When I didn't, he cautiously opened his mouth, his eyes trained on me and aware of my slightest movements.

"What are you going to do with me?" he asked, readying himself for battle.

I shrugged. My appetite was pretty much gone at the thought that soon, I'd be under the influence of yet another potion, which would allow Lucy absolute control over me. Whether it be Draco who brewed it or someone else, granting me a bit of a reprieve until Lucy managed to find the person to do it, I had no doubts that she would, eventually, and I would be her slave until her death.

"Let you go, I suppose."

He frowned. "Aren't you ordered to kill me?" he asked cautiously. He didn't want to give me ideas, I suppose.

"No, I'm not." Lucy had yet to learn how to give unambiguous orders. It would grant me little satisfaction to spite her, but that was the only thing that remained to me. Or perhaps Harry would manage to arrest and convict her if I let him; perhaps the other Aurors or Azkaban would kill her… Delusions, all of them. I knew, even if Harry did his job, she wouldn't be staying in Azkaban for long – it wasn't as though Dementors were a real challenge for a vampire familiar.

There must have been another flicker of the blood connection between us, or Harry's analysing skills had improved during the last years, because it seemed he had been able to follow the majority of my mental reasoning.

"Well, what are you waiting for?" I asked. "Go and free Draco. It shouldn't be hard. I ordered Renfield to let him go as soon as Lucy got out of sight. After that, you could perhaps do me a favour and try to catch Lucy," I said.

"Well then, till next time we meet…" Harry nodded slowly, but he wasn't moving.

"Next time we meet, it is going to be under different circumstances." That was both wishful thinking and a promise to find a better time to settle the matters that remained unresolved between us.

I should have been perhaps alerted when I found myself suddenly tossed out of his head for the fragment of a second. I had no idea that could be done. Alas, he managed to surprise me.

"I thought I'd try something first," he said, a bit tentatively, as if he was asking for my permission, except that he didn't give me a chance to actually voice it.

His wand was in his hand – he must have summoned it. He thrust forward with it with all his mortal strength, aiming for the middle of my chest.

Who would have thought that a wand stabbed through one's heart would hurt that damn much ...before the magic of a damaged Unicorn hair core turned one's body into fine, grey dust.

"You're Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived. Defeater of the Dark Lord. Auror. Protector of Law and kittens… don't tell me this is the place where you live?!"

Harry let out a frustrated groan and stepped over the threshold with Draco in tow. He had spent less than a week on this self-imposed assignment but it felt like he hadn't been home for a year. Moreover, his flat, too, looked like no one had been there to clean for the same amount of time.

"You can have Ron's old bedroom," he said, ignoring the previous question. "It's down the hall to the left."

Ron had moved out one and a half years previously, but Harry still hadn't found the resolve to clean out his old room and remove the furniture he had left. Now his laziness – well, he called it nostalgia – turned out to have its uses. Of course, it wouldn't be needed if Robards hadn't foisted Malfoy off on him – it was hard to remember calling him 'Draco' when he was criticising Harry's style.

"I'm getting Weasley's cast-offs? What has become of the world?" He heard Malfoy's—oh, all right, Draco's whining from the other room and had the unexplainable urge to snort instead of going on a rampage for the insult to Ron. He shook his head and had to admit he didn't know what was with him these days. What had made him say yes to Robards' request?

"Hey! You should be glad I took it upon myself to haul your arse out of the holding cell. I could have left you there!"

"Uh-uh, Harry. Remember your Vow," came Draco's sing-song voice. "You promised to get me out of trouble…" He padded out of his new room and stopped in front of Harry, his hands on his hips.

"Technically, that's true," Harry said, with exaggerated care. "But I asked Robards and he said you weren't in any trouble. They just wanted to keep you there for your own safety for a couple of weeks until the case is tied up." That said, Robards had been more than willing to hand this responsibility over to Harry.

Draco had been free to leave after having sat through six hours of questioning. It took nearly as much time for Harry to write his report – both the official and unofficial one. He had managed to call reinforcements and catch Lucy, Renfield and most of Dilato's employees who had been in the mansion at the time. Greg hadn't been among them. When Harry had asked Draco, he had avoided a direct answer and Harry hadn't forced the issue. In the end, Harry had decided to leave Greg out of both of his reports.

Lucy had been questioned under Veritaserum – the Prior Incantato cast on her wand revealed interesting results, which empowered the Auror on duty to use the potion. She was under reinforced custody, but during the six hours she had been there, no one had come to her rescue, however loud and persistent she had been, yelling for her familiar. They were already preparing a cosy cell in Azkaban for her. Even without the Veritaserum, Harry had been able to give enough condemning evidence on her to secure her a life-long stay.

Renfield, on the other hand, was another matter. The fact that Harry had all but stolen those documents from his office had made it very hard to prove his hand in the illegal Dark potion business. Veritaserum had been employed, but apparently, it hadn't been of much use. All his questioners had been able to get him to say was him calling for some kind of 'Master' of his. A confronting with Lucy showed that it wasn't her he was calling.

Harry had a pretty good idea who this mysterious 'Master' could be. If he was right, that would have explained on whose order had Renfield been keeping the documents from Lucy. But Harry hadn't seen a reason to reveal his assumption, seeing as the Aurors had not been able to find even a hint that the person in question had ever been inside the mansion, or been in contact with anyone in Castor Dilato's organisation. Thus, Harry had chosen to leave that detail out of his reports as well.

Robards would never know a large chunk of what had happened – particularly the parts concerning Draco Malfoy's illegal activities. It had been pretty much a given that Harry would not be able to reveal those. There was only one thing that he would be forced to disclose sooner or later, but Harry reckoned he had approximately three more years to figure out how to deal with that problem. If he was honest with himself, he didn't really mind that task. He was certain that helping Draco to be able to rise above the life he was leading now and become a law-abiding citizen of the wizarding society was ultimately a good deed.

Harry was not so certain about how he should be dealing with Draco's presence in his flat. He just wanted a good night sleep; perhaps, in the morning, he would be able to figure out why he hadn't thought twice about bringing Draco to his flat when Robards asked him to. Though at the thought of bed and Draco different ideas started forming in his head.

On one hand, while not someone he had imagined himself to be with, he couldn’t deny that there was something that drew him to Draco. He felt good in his arms, underneath him, over him… It wasn’t even his personality that bothered him, because that was something he had become used to. No, it was more the impossibility of a shared future that kept him at a distance when he made the effort to think about his reasons in the first place. That, and the startled realisation that he was even contemplating such a scenario. When had it become about more than just physical attraction and getting some release?

As unlikely as it sounded, he had come to like him – and not just his body – in the last couple of days. He didn't know what he could expect from this in the future, but he didn't have a bad feeling about it. Perhaps he would just wait and see what happened next.

"There is no drawer! Where am I supposed to put my underwear?" Draco's voice drifted through the space of two rooms and a hallway between them, like a symbolic answer to his previous thoughts. Harry couldn't suppress a grin, followed by a wayward image flashing into his mind.

"Underwear? Last time I checked you weren’t wearing any…"

"That… can be arranged," said Draco from close by this time. He was in a suspiciously good mood. Harry had told him what had happened after he had been led out of the room, and the thought that his mother's death had been avenged invigorated him. He had apparently decided to stop being angry with Harry for having been rude with him, at the prospect of more fulfilling activities…

His arms sneaked around Harry's middle and suddenly he was kissing Harry's nape and making all the little hairs on his body stand on end. Draco's hand slipping boldly under his waistband and cupping his bits didn't fail to generate a response in his body. Especially when he noticed the hard line of an unmistakable erection pressed snugly along his butt crack and started imagining what they could do in this position if not for those layers of clothes between…

A soft coughing sound coming from behind their backs rudely interrupted Harry's plans. Draco hastily extracted his hand, and when Harry turned around, he found himself face to face with Ginny fanning herself with her palm.

"Oh, hi." Harry was acutely aware that he was blushing. Apparently, he had forgotten to close the door.

"Hi, Harry. Trouble with furniture?" Ginny didn’t seem to share his discomfort; she was grinning like a shark. "I hope you still have the couch in order, because Ron looks like he is going to need it." She gestured behind her back where Ron and Hermione were standing, the former slowly turning into a permanent stone fixture on Harry's doorstep…

That's where I left them to fend for themselves.

What? You thought Harry had managed to kill me?

Well, I did die that time – burning to ashes is not a nice way to go, I tell you. I reckon I was lucky, still, that the wand he had been using was not his own. Phoenix fire would have taken a lot longer to recover from. But, as Lucy so succinctly put it, I couldn't possibly get any more dead than I already was, so it hadn’t been a permanent condition.

It did change one thing though: my death broke the controlling magic Lucy had been using on me. I don't know whether Harry did it because he had figured that out on his own or if he was acting on instinct. If I really wanted to, I could look into his mind again after drinking some more of his blood, but in the general scheme of things, it isn't important. I'm just grateful he did it and am willing to leave it at that – whether he had this outcome in mind or a different one.

Because of Lucy, I had lost the last person who had been important to me. But the time I spent under her control taught me one thing: that I liked to spy on people's lives. It's a game I'm reluctant to give up. That was something I realised while I was observing Harry with Draco. Their interaction amused me greatly; it helped to chase away my boredom. But there was more to it than that.

I hadn’t noticed it first; it only became obvious in the face of danger. I doubt Harry had even began to grasp it yet, and Draco only started to towards the end, but there was something developing between them that reminded me of what I had lost. In the end, I think that was what made me spare their lives.

This something, this connection between two people, seemed too precious to destroy. I know how valuable it is: without it, I had been only an empty shell; my mind drowning in hopelessness, I had drifted wherever the wind had blown me. It gave me the first emotions I've felt in a long time: the dread that filled me when I realised what I was on the brink of destroying, and the small spark of satisfaction when I ended up helping to preserve it.

I decided that I wanted more. I wanted to feel it again. And why not? There are other poor souls who could use my help to find the one they were destined to share their lives with – or at least a substitute for lack of the real thing.

So this is it: my new 'quest' – at least until I get bored with it. Lurking in the darkness and hunting for prey is in my nature. I just don't kill them anymore – well, not intentionally. I still have to learn how to get a sample of their blood without them ending up dead; I find it hard to stop drinking.

I'm not too worried about these nuisances. Trial and error would evidently lead me to the right track. I have a herd of mortals to save after all; one or a dozen dying in the process is hardly a failure. This is just the start…

Wish me luck?

T H E * E N D

A/N: Additional disclaimers and notes:
Illithids, also known as Mind Flayers are a race in D&D, which together with Monster Manual, is © Wizards of The Coast Inc. Which only goes to show that if wizards have cars, then why would they stop short from borrowing other cool things from Muggles? ;P
Additionally, if you thought the names 'Renfield' and 'Lucy' were familiar, then you were right. There were two characters with the same name in the Dracula movie of 1931, though their personalities don't really match, except in a very much bastardised form.
Pu-erh tea: "The flavor of Pu-erh has been described as muddy, earthy, and tannic, with strong overtones of the barnyard."wikipedia LOL One of my betas thought that was funny. Anyhow, Draco only drinks it because he had read in one of his Potions books that it's supposed to be good for the figure…
lingam: Is a word used for 'penis' in the Kama Sutra.
Tags: [fic], [long/chaptered fic], rated: nc-17, round: summer 2007

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