Recipient's name: mijan
Summary: Draco felt ready to face even a million years in Azkaban as long as it meant that at the end of it all, he would make Potter pay.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's notes: Many thanks to my beta-reader, who must remain nameless for the time being.
"So," said Dolores as she leant back in her desk chair, "what are your plans for the new year?"
Draco shrugged. "If you're still talking about undermining Potter's credibility, I'm afraid it's a bit late for that."
Dolores pursed her lips. "Yes, well, any hint-dropping we do now won't have as much impact as it would have back when the Davies story broke. But it's not really germane now that Potter's withdrawn so much from the public eye."
"Why has he?" asked Draco, thinking about Potter's strong fingers around his wrists, pinning him to the bed.
"I haven't the foggiest," said Dolores. "But I suspect his girlfriend's pregnancy might have something to do with it. Recent opinion polls are showing strong disapproval of Potter's steadfast refusal to marry the girl."
"Potter will never be a politician," replied Draco. "That much should've been obvious to anyone."
"That's probably why Granger's been so quiet lately. Though I suppose the audit I ordered at the Department of Mysteries is having an effect as well." Her wide smile was triumphant.
Draco snorted. "Well done, Dolores. You could completely neutralise her by making the audits an annual tradition, you know."
"Not a bad thought, that."
There was a loud knocking at the door, and then Minister Scrimgeour burst into Dolores's office, looking harassed. "Merlin save me from reporters," he groused. "I'm an Auror, not a sideshow monkey. There ought to be a-- oh, good afternoon, Mr Malfoy. I didn't realise you had a guest, Dolores."
"I was just leaving," said Draco, and rose. "I'll come by again later this week," he said to Dolores. "Begging your pardon, Minister."
He took the stairs down to the Atrium, where he immediately came face to face with Potter. Draco's stomach performed a somersault, but he schooled his face into a mask of benign amusement. "Fancy meeting you here," he said, moving to walk past.
Potter's arm shot out and seized Draco's left wrist. For an instant, Draco felt the heat of their last encounter in the touch. "A little forward, don't you think?" he murmured as he stopped and turned to face Potter.
Potter's eyes were dark. "I want you to meet me at Godric's Hollow tonight."
"The place where we, you know. Were. Last time we saw each other."
"Oh, the place we were," drawled Draco. "How could I forget? Such a nice night of being that was." Excitement quickened his blood: the events of that night had affected Potter. After two weeks without a word, Draco had thought otherwise.
"Will you come?"
"I did last time; I don't see why I wouldn't this time."
Potter's face turned pink. "That's not why I-- That isn't what I-- Fucking hell, Malfoy, just tell me, will you grace me with your presence or not?"
"Such passion, such extravagant turn of phrase!" quipped Draco. "How could I refuse?"
Potter released his wrist. "Nine o'clock."
"So, does your girlfriend know what you're doing tonight?" Draco asked. He'd Apparated here moments earlier; it was a wonder he hadn't splinched himself -- it was difficult to focus on a destination of which one had only vague memories.
Potter flinched. "She thinks I'm shopping for baby clothes with Hermione."
"Granger sides with you on this particular issue, I gather?"
"Hermione always sides with me." Potter's voice was completely flat.
"Mmm," said Draco, looking around with some interest. The room looked different with the light on, as all rooms did. The bed was larger than he remembered, and Potter's Firebolt leant against a corner near the back of the room. Out of the window, Draco could see the distant lights of a small town or a village -- Godric's Hollow, no doubt. A photograph on one of the bedside cabinets showed Potter and his girlfriend, no doubt during happier times. Draco nodded towards the photograph. "I've heard that wizarding photographs can work like portraits. Aren't you afraid she might've seen us that night?"
"Who, my mother?"
Draco squinted at the photograph. Sure enough, the woman did not have any freckles on her face, and she was far prettier than the Weasley girl. James Potter, on the other hand, had nothing on his son. Duly disturbed by having such charitable thoughts about Potter, Draco turned to him. "Dear God, you've married your own mother. That's sick, Potter."
"I haven't married anyone," muttered Potter. "Look, I don't want to talk about Ginny."
Draco tilted his head to one side. "What do you want to talk about?"
"I want to know what you did to me."
"Come again?" asked Draco, blinking.
Potter's expression was pained. "Ever since that night, I..." He stopped, swallowed, looked away. "It's like I've been fed a love potion."
"I don't understand." Love potions. Why hadn't Draco thought of that?
Potter frowned, inhaled, exhaled, bit his lip. "I can't stop thinking about you."
Because any incompetent fool could procure a love potion. This, though...
"Of course you can," said Draco quickly, trying to mask his elation. "You just don't want to. Not that I'm surprised. I expect that right about now your charming wife is already denying you carnal pleasures because it 'could harm the baby', am I right? I mean, let's face it. Your dick is rather large."
Potter cast his eyes down. "It's fucking ridiculous that you're talking about my dick."
"What's so ridiculous about it? I think that if I've had something up my arse, I'm certainly allowed to talk about it." In two swift strides, he was next to Potter, moving his hand to cup him through his worn jeans. "And not just talk about it."
Potter hissed and tried to turn away, but Draco brought his other arm round Potter's waist and held him there.
"Why not?" breathed Draco into his ear, pressing his palm flat and hard against Potter's cock. "This is what you want."
"I shouldn't-- I don't."
Draco unfastened the button on Potter's jeans and pulled down the zip. "Never tell yourself you shouldn't want something," he said quietly, and yanked Potter's trousers and underpants down. "You'll only want it more." He took Potter's flushed, straining cock in hand and closed his eyes with delight. Mortal enemy here or there, Potter's flesh felt glorious in his palm, warm and silky and just a little damp.
"Malfoy..." The pleading notes in Potter's voice made Draco want to come right there and then.
"Shh," he whispered, and squeezed. Potter drew in a quick breath. Draco released him and slowly got to his knees, watching Potter's face the entire time. Potter's glasses had a thin film of mist on the bottom, and his mouth hung slightly open. Potter's slightly ragged breaths threaded through the silence. Somewhere downstairs, a clock was ticking in time with them.
When Draco closed his mouth over Potter's cock, Potter gasped, as though surprised, and then said, "Don't."
Draco ignored him and tightened his grip. He didn't bother with teasing; he wanted to make Potter come, and so he sucked, maintaining firm pressure at the base of Potter's cock. With a cry, Potter twisted his hips violently and forced himself out of Draco's mouth. His cock glistened with a mixture of pre-come and Draco's spit, and Draco was appalled to realise he wanted it back in his mouth. He was on his knees before his worst enemy because he really wanted to, not because he chose to.
"Don't tell me you weren't enjoying that," he muttered, trying to refocus his mind.
Potter freed himself from Draco's grip on his arse and leaned down awkwardly to pull up his trousers. "I was. That's the bloody problem. I'm not supposed to--"
Draco sat down on the floor and crossed his legs. "And why the hell not? Don't tell me you don't feel like you've earned the right to do whatever you want."
Potter made a face. "I didn't ask you to come here so I could do what I wanted."
"Oh? Why did you ask me to come here, then?"
"I already told you. I thought you'd given me a--"
"Don't bullshit me, Potter. That sort of thing might work on your guileless friends, but I'm far better at bullshit than you'll ever be." Draco looked up at him and squinted.
Potter looked down at his feet, frowning deeply. "I don't know what I bloody wanted. I wanted to see you, to be alone with you--"
"To fuck me. You wanted to fuck me again," supplied Draco. "Alas for the pitfalls of conscience."
Potter looked up, his face inscrutable. "Maybe I just wanted to see if I could say no."
There was a minor quake somewhere deep in Draco's gut, but he fought to maintain his composure. "So you wasted my time. Used me for your own purposes."
"No, it isn't like that," said Potter, his frown deepening.
"What's it like, then?" Draco got up from the floor and cast a quick spell to smooth out his robes. His cock still begged for attention, but Draco ignored it.
"I-- I don't know," mumbled Potter. "I'm sorry."
So the sanctimonious little wanker did know remorse. Draco drew a deep breath before speaking. "I suppose that concludes the audience for this evening. I'd say I wanted to do this again, but I'd be lying through my teeth. I'll see myself out." He wanted to scream, to throw something big enough to make a loud noise and brittle enough to shatter into a million pieces.
Potter's hand closed around Draco's upper arm. Draco looked down at it and noticed strange scars there, almost like letters:
I M--T --T -E-L L--S
"What are those?" he asked before he could stop himself.
"What? Oh, that. A reminder of detention with your good friend Umbridge."
Ah. The quill that Dolores had mentioned on several occasions. So it really did exist.
"Dolores is a delightful woman. You probably deserve them."
Potter's eyes darkened. "You would think so, wouldn't you?"
"We all deserve what we get," said Draco. "Even if it doesn't seem like it at the time."
"Then why are you so upset that I've wasted your precious time?"
Draco gave him a look. "Because it was stupid to come here, and I hate it when I do stupid things. If you're quite finished with my arm, I should like to have it back now. I wouldn't want to Apparate you to my home."
Potter shook his head slightly, as though to clear it. "No, wait. Fuck, Malfoy, this is stupid."
"Yes, I quite agree. That's why I'd like to go."
"I want you," blurted Potter. "I haven't wanted anything this much for a long time."
"Anything? I'm not a thing. Don't look so shocked, now. Let go of me." He had no wish to become Potter's fuck toy. He wanted Potter's soul. Wanted to hold it in his hand and have the power to crumple it up like spare parchment.
"I'm sorry," said Potter. "I know you're not a thing. I just--"
"That's the second time you've apologised in less than ten minutes. All I want is for you to let me go, Potter. Instead, you apologise and then keep on insulting me." Draco pursed his lips. "I'm beginning to think there's something seriously wrong with you, anyway. Who turns down a free blow job?"
Potter snorted. "Are you saying you do them for money, too?"
Draco wasn't sure what happened after. Rage blinded him and he moved instinctively, fluidly. Next thing he knew, he had Potter up against the wall and his hands were around Potter's throat. Potter was trying to force Draco's arms away, but Draco's wild magic was stronger. He reined himself in and released Potter's neck, slowly. "I'm not," he growled, "a whore."
Potter's hands were still on his upper arms, and he pulled Draco to himself. "I wouldn't care if you were," he said unsteadily.
"At least you're not apologising," muttered Draco. Potter buried his face in Draco's neck and said something indistinct; Draco couldn't hear it for the blood pounding in his head. His masterful seduction was going terribly wrong, but just now Draco found it difficult to care. Not when Potter's tongue traced his collarbone like that, not when Potter's hands were sliding down his arse -- lower, lower, squeeze.
"I want you," whispered Potter, and the battle was lost.
"Then stop talking," breathed Draco, and tilted his head backwards as Potter's tongue found that spot near the base of his neck.
This time, too, Draco let Potter take the lead. When Potter thought back to their encounter, he would have no choice but remember that Draco had not forced him to do anything. Draco didn't force Potter to leave a rip in the sleeve of Draco's robes, to close his palm around both their cocks and press their bodies together until Draco thought he couldn't breathe, to leave messy love bites all over Draco's neck, to push Draco down to the floor, on all fours like a dog...
Draco winced and gasped as Potter's cock breached him, but Potter didn't seem to notice. He thrust in and out with low, pained grunts, and Draco mentally prepared himself for feigning pleasure, but then he felt Potter brush against that spot inside him, again and again until Draco was pushing back, gasping, demanding more, faster, now. Potter let out a low moan and Draco felt Potter's seed inside himself, felt Potter's grip on his sides slacken.
He expected Potter to roll over like he had last time, but instead he felt Potter's hand close around his cock. His grip was rough and awkward, but the careful, boyish uncertainty of Potter's movements made Draco harder than his most depraved fantasies ever had. In Draco's mind, Potter was always good at everything, always self-assured and cocky. Feeling Potter's unsteady fingers around his cock made Draco feel like he'd won, somehow, that he'd managed to break through the hero's exterior.
"Feels good," he sighed as Potter's grip grew firmer, surer, demanding. By the end, Draco was fucking Potter's hand, mindlessly, desperate to release the pressure in his chest and lower abdomen. He came silently, biting his lip, and Potter moaned when Draco's seed spilled over his fingers. Draco dropped down to his stomach and closed his eyes. The hardwood floor was cool and soothing.
"I'm sorry," said Potter.
Draco turned around to gape at him, but Potter wasn't looking at Draco. He was sitting cross-legged next to the wall and staring at the window.
"You might want to save conversations with your conscience for when I'm gone," said Draco, looking around for his robes.
Potter turned to him. "No, I am. I'm cheating on Ginny. With you. And I want to keep doing it. You make me--"
"Spare me the confessions," Draco cut in. "I don't give a flying fuck what you and the Weasley woman do. I've no designs on being the mother of your children. If you want to apologise to someone, apologise to her."
Potter looked gloomy. "She'd dump me."
"Then don't tell her. It's not like this means anything other than fucking." Despite knowing better, Draco held his breath.
"No, it doesn't," said Potter, and Draco exhaled. "But then what's the point--"
Draco waved him silent. "Sometimes you just want to fuck. Most women have trouble understanding this. Don't be so squeamish, Potter." Draco shook his robes out and pulled them on. Once his head was through, he added, "There's nothing wrong with fucking. I may be 'like that', to use your charming expression, but I'm not an overly sentimental female."
As winter passed, Ginny Weasley got increasingly pregnant. Predictably, Potter started to seek Draco's company more and more often: they went from weekly encounters at Godric's Hollow to three times a week, to daily. By April, sometimes they would meet twice a day. If they happened to run into each other at the Ministry or in Diagon Alley, it took them only a few minutes to reach the nearest gents'.
In other words, Draco's plan was working. He'd used the same tactic as with Davies, and Potter had fallen for it. Men really were slaves to their cocks, Draco had to admit. All he had to do was remain unrelentingly willing to please Potter sexually while maintaining a stiff emotional distance.
"Oh, fuck, yes," muttered Potter as Draco rotated his hips beneath him. "I love it when you do that."
Draco gasped as Potter drove deeper into him. He slid his hands down to Potter's arse and gripped it firmly. "Don't move," he said, and Potter obeyed instantly. His head was bowed above Draco, his sweat-damp hair hanging in his face. Draco told himself that he'd only imagined his heart skipping several beats at the sight. He moved his pelvis up, taking Potter's cock deeper into himself, and then rotated his hips just the way Potter liked it, over and over again, twisting and pushing himself upwards as Potter's shallow breaths morphed into one continuous, slow groan.
Then Potter's control broke, and he wouldn't hold still any more. They came together, Potter moving in and out with blinding speed and Draco writhing underneath him, his cock twitching against their sweaty bodies.
Potter didn't pull out of Draco when he was done; he rarely did. They'd rest a little and then Potter would be hard again, and they could just keep fucking until they were both too exhausted. Draco told himself that it was all part of his plan, but even he had to admit that it was far more enjoyable to spend time taming Potter in his bed than to spend it at the Manor witnessing his mother's slow descent into madness.
Draco squeezed his eyes shut. Even thinking about it was painful. A fresh wave of guilt came over him: he was utterly useless. What good would his revenge do him if he lost his mother? He hated himself for being here.
"I have to go," he said.
Potter, who had been tracing lazy patterns on Draco's side with his fingers, looked up. "Why?"
Draco cursed mentally. Potter wasn't supposed to ask questions. He wasn't supposed to care why Draco did anything. "I have to run an errand," he said noncommittally. A memory bubbled forth, of Draco peeling a satsuma as he told Davies about taking his mother on holiday... "My mother and I are going to the Seychelles tomorrow."
"Oh." Potter lifted himself off Draco a bit more. "Were you planning on telling me?"
The demanding notes in Potter's tone didn't please Draco at all, though they should have. "I just told you now."
Potter's eyes were hard. "When will you be back?"
Draco shifted so Potter's cock would slip out of his arse. "I don't know. She hasn't been well, she needs a holiday." The idea seemed better and better to him. Taking his mother away from the Manor might help her, and getting away from Potter for a while would be good for his own mental health.
"Why can't she go by herself?"
"Why can't you stop asking stupid questions? It's none of your business, Potter. My life is none of your business."
Potter swallowed and turned away. "Yeah," he said. "Okay." Draco got off the bed and schlepped into the shower. They usually did this together, and so the shower seemed strangely spacious all of a sudden. He closed his eyes and thought of Potter's mouth on his cock last night.
When Draco came out of the shower, the bed was made and Potter was getting dressed. "You know," he said as Draco pulled a set of clean underwear from the bottom drawer, "I'm glad I'm not like you."
Draco paused. "That's nice," he said. "Am I about to receive a lecture on how improper it was not to notify you of my forthcoming absence?"
"Not a lecture," said Potter. "But you could've at least said something. I mean, we see each other every day and--"
"And we might as well be strangers," said Draco. It was not exactly true, but seemed that way on the surface.
Potter looked surprised, as though his words got stuck in his throat. "Whose fault is that?"
"It's not a question of blame," said Draco, and walked over to the wardrobe to get his dark blue robes. "We'll never be friends, because the time for that has passed. We'll never be lovers in the best sense of the word because you'll always have Potter Junior."
"So I'm supposed to be happy that you let me fuck you and stop asking stupid questions, is that right?"
"Something like that," said Draco. At least Potter wasn't completely without a brain, like Davies had been. "It's not like this was going to go on forever," he added. "Soon your girlfriend will stop working and stay home with the newborn. You won't be able to spend your mornings here with me, will you?"
Potter's shoulders slumped forward and he looked utterly miserable. Draco hated himself for noticing, and he hated himself even more for wanting to change his mind and tell Potter he wasn't going to go anywhere. He was supposed to be happy to see Potter like this. He was supposed to be happy that his plan was working so flawlessly. Instead, he felt like shit.
There was a loud knocking at the window, and both men froze, looking at each other. "Thank God we're dressed. I'll see myself out," Draco muttered, preparing to Apparate.
"No, don't leave yet," Potter said quickly. He lifted his right arm, as though intending to reach for Draco and stop him. "Please."
"How are you going to explain my presence here to whomever's at the window?"
"Whoever's at the window is an owl," said Potter. "People knock on doors."
Draco was without a comeback, and hated himself just a little bit more for staying. He'd let himself become too involved, too emotionally attached to Potter. If he didn't put some distance between them now, he might actually be woman enough to forgive Potter one day. And that would not be acceptable.
Potter walked to the window, pulled the curtain aside, and opened the latch. "I don't understand," he muttered. "No one knows of this place except you and me."
"That's a St. Mungo's owl," said Draco. It was. The hospital's owls were a distinctive breed, and they were able to find recipients anywhere in the world without an address.
Potter relieved the owl of its load -- an official-looking package that looked twice as big as the bird itself. The owl flew off, and Potter stared at the package. "It's addressed to me," he said. "Maybe something's happened to Ginny." His voice was unsteady, and Draco, once again, hated himself for the twinge of jealousy he felt.
"You won't know until you open it," he said. "But if you'd rather I left--"
"No, don't," said Potter, his voice ringing firm. He ripped the package open. It contained a thin file and a letter.
Potter picked up the letter. "Dear Mr Potter," he read out loud. "Here are the results of the analyses we ran after your stay with us. We apologise for the delay, but we were faced with some unexpected difficulties and had to outsource part of the work to a French hospital. If you have any questions or concerns regarding these results, please contact me personally at the hospital. Sincerely, Healer B. Roberts."
"When'd you stay at St Mungo's?" asked Draco, curious.
"After the fight with Voldemort. He hit me with a few curses that they weren't familiar with, so they ran all these tests," muttered Potter as he cast the letter aside and opened the file. He scanned the contents of the first few pages and then turned very pale.
Draco inched closer. "Does it say you're going to die in the next year or something?"
Potter shook his head. He let the file drop onto the low desk next to the window and strode into the bathroom, slamming the door so hard that the walls of the house shook violently.
Draco walked over and picked up the file, still opened to the page Potter had been reading.
(Areas of concern cont'd)
Loss of vision: temporary. May black out from time to time.
Mood instability: possibly prone to violent outbursts. Temper with occasional Cheering Charms.
Infertility: irreversible. Subject will be unable to father children.
Draco heard the sound of glass breaking in the bathroom. "There goes one of those violent outbursts now," he muttered, and headed towards the bathroom. It wouldn't do to let Potter hurt himself and bleed to death. Not before Draco was through with him.
Potter stood in front of the sink, surrounded by a million shards of mirror-glass. They hung in the air around him like tiny daggers, some of them spinning around with a faint humming noise.
"Potter," said Draco.
The glass shards fell to the floor and Potter turned to him. "Did you read it?"
"I can't even be angry."
Draco raised an eyebrow. "How noble."
"This is all your fault."
"Of course it is," said Draco, suddenly bitter. Potter's moods were so predictable, and his tendency to blame everyone but himself was positively disgusting. "I'll be leaving now."
"No, I didn't mean-- I'm sorry. Don't go."
"What, and make you late for your appointment with Mrs Potter?"
Potter smiled bitterly. "Do you seriously think I'm going to marry her? She's carrying someone else's child!"
"So what? Why does that matter to you?"
Potter's eyes widened. "She cheated on me, which would be okay since I'm no angel, myself. But she's been talking about the baby and getting married and--"
"Potter, you idiot, she probably doesn't know it's not your child. So she had a one-off with someone else. It happens."
"Easy for you to say. You're not the one who has to live with her."
Draco sneered. "Oh, but she should feel all right about living with you, is that right? You're the biggest hypocrite the world has ever borne."
"Maybe so," said Potter. "But I'm still not going to raise someone else's kid."
"I didn't say you should. But I didn't realise that you were with her only because of the baby."
"I wasn't. I told you ages ago that I hated the idea of the baby, but that didn't change anything. You did."
Draco had a retort all prepared, but Potter hadn't said what he'd expected him to, so Draco choked on his reply and stared at him. "What are you talking about?"
"It's you I want to be with. You make me feel like myself, Malfoy. I don't have to pretend to be someone else around you, I don't have to pick my words carefully and fear losing your approval all the bloody time."
"If you're implying that you have my approval, you're sorely mistaken."
"That's the thing. I know I don't. I know I never will, no matter what I do. So I don't even try."
Draco wasn't sure if that had been a compliment or not. "You want to be with me because you don't have to worry about the consequences of what you say to me? What you do to me? There's a block on Knockturn alley that's filled with witches and wizards who'll provide you with the same service for a very modest price. I realise you'd rather have it for free, but--"
Potter's eyes flashed. "Why are you so fucking fixated on being called a whore? I don't want just anyone, and I don't want a whore. I want you. I wake up every morning thinking about you, looking forward to seeing you, and I hate it when you leave." He took a deep breath. "I want to know you. I want to know what you eat for breakfast, which Quidditch teams you support, and your opinion of the current government. I fucking love you, Malfoy, there, are you happy now?"
Draco didn't think he'd been this unhappy in his entire life. He'd envisioned something like Davies's blubbering, eyes out of focus and mind too scattered to come up with a coherent sentence. He should have known better. This was Potter. Potter didn't blubber, he didn't take prisoners, and he certainly wasn't mental enough to lose his shit like Davies had.
"It's a pity, then," he heard himself say, "that the feelings aren't mutual. You mean nothing to me, Potter."
There it was, his revenge, for better or for worse. Draco's hands shook as he saw the light go out of Potter's eyes. It happened just the way Draco had imagined it would, but he felt no triumph. Just a lump in his throat that told him he'd be crying like a girl within seconds.
"I dreamt about your father again," said Narcissa. She sat motionlessly by the large bay window overlooking the beach. Her face was pale in the moonlight, glistening with a faint layer of sweat.
Draco watched her with concern, all thoughts of his interrupted sleep vanishing. "D'you want me to make you a potion for the dreams?"
His mother smiled thinly. "I've had enough potions to last me a few lifetimes."
Draco looked away. "I'm sorry."
"Oh, Draco. I'm the one who should be sorry. You very likely saved my life by bringing me here. I don't know what was wrong with me."
There was strength in her voice, her old vitality and pride. Suddenly, the six weeks of enduring his mother's mood swings, irritability, and irrational tirades seemed like a small price to pay for having her back to normal. Draco didn't know what would happen when they went back to England tomorrow. He certainly wasn't planning on leaving her to her own devices again, at least not until she found something other than drinking to occupy her time.
"I love you," he told her. "I don't want you to be ill."
Narcissa got up from the windowsill and approached him. "I'm glad I have you," she said. "It's funny, isn't it? When you were a little baby, I took care of you. And now you are taking care of me. I'm proud of you, Draco."
"You shouldn't be," he said. He didn't know what it was -- the eerie midnight stillness with nothing but the ocean roaring in the distance, that it was the first time he was speaking to his real mother and not a brandy-drenched madwoman, or that he felt acutely alone with nothing but his shameful secrets to keep him company. But in the next moment, Draco told his mother everything: from Davies to Dolores to Potter and his half-witted revenge plot that had gone irreversibly wrong.
Draco knew it had gone wrong because in the weeks he'd spent here -- despite having to deal with his mother's migraines, her nightmares, her vomiting, despite being too busy brewing fiddly potions to help her get better -- he missed Potter so much, and it got worse every day. He missed having Potter touch him, missed the way Potter looked at him, missed Potter's ridiculously lame jokes, everything about him. It wasn't even that Draco had forgiven Potter for what he'd done, not at all. It just didn't matter any more, and Draco wished it would. Wished he could hate Potter and not want him at the same time, wished he didn't feel like he belonged at Godric's Hollow, like he'd left a piece of himself in Potter's hands.
As he talked, his mother walked back to the bay window and sat down on the wide windowsill. Draco couldn't bring himself to look at her face, sure that he would see contempt and derision there. He wasn't even sure if he was talking to her, to the moon, or to himself. When he ran out of confessions, he slumped back in his chair and stared at the tabletop. The ocean still carried on its incessant symphony outside the window, but the sound of silence in the room was louder.
When his mother finally spoke, it wasn't to tell him to get out of her sight. "Do you remember your Aunt Andromeda?" she asked.
"No," said Draco, wondering what his blood-traitor aunt had to do with anything. "I don't think I've ever met her--"
"The family treated her horribly after she went off and married that Tonks boy. If I were her, I'd have wanted revenge on us."
Draco looked down.
"You know," Narcissa continued, "she never did take revenge. Even though she'd had ample opportunity. But if Bella were still here, she'd tell you that Andromeda had taken revenge. She had a happy life, a happy marriage, a healthy daughter with a rare talent. That used to eat Bella alive. That Andromeda's filthy half-blood child should be a Metamorphmagus while Bella was barren."
Barren. Draco wondered what Potter had done about the file he'd received from St. Mungo's, and it made him flush with self-loathing that he was thinking about Potter even now.
"My father," Narcissa said, "always said that revenge was a confession of pain. So Andromeda's complete indifference made the family feel that she did not care, that the family did not matter. It hurt worse than if she'd tried to create problems for our family, which she could have, after the first war."
Draco's mouth was dry. "What are you trying to tell me?"
"That you needn't take revenge on Harry Potter to feel good about yourself."
"But he wronged me--"
"--and he's the one who will have to live with what he did to you."
Draco remembered his face and chest exploding in a shower of blood, a long time ago, on the dirty floor of a Hogwarts bathroom. "You don't know Harry Potter. I don't think he cares about what he does to anyone unless he actually kills them."
"That still doesn't mean that you ought to exert any effort in order to get revenge on him. If he's the type of person who has no conscience, your revenge will be ultimately futile. Live well, Draco. It's the greatest revenge."
I just don't think I can live well without him, thought Draco, then realised he'd spoken out loud. He felt his face burning. The last thing his mother needed was to hear that her only son and heir was...
"If you're seeking my approval, you aren't going to receive it," said Narcissa. "I hardly see why this boy should be rewarded with the pleasure of your company after everything he's done to you."
"You and me both," muttered Draco, and kicked a table leg.
"It doesn't matter. You should do what you want. Don't worry about what your mother will think."
Draco goggled at her. "But you're my mother. How can you say that?"
Narcissa looked wistful. "When Andromeda left the family, I wrote her an angry letter. She responded with a letter of her own, no less angry. We kept writing to each other through the years, until she died."
"I didn't know she was dead," said Draco.
"Nymphadora's birth caused Andromeda to develop an illness that only affects women who give birth to Metamorphmagi. There is no cure for it as it is too rare and almost impossible to study. She succumbed to it just before the end of the war."
Draco remembered Tonks, who used to call him "cousin" just to get a rise out of him and laughed every time he scowled. She had never mentioned her mother's death.
"Our correspondence was the biggest secret I had ever kept. My mother -- and your father -- would have killed me if they knew. But I had a friend when Bella had none, and for that I'm grateful. I think if Andromeda were still alive, none of this," -- she waved her hand vaguely around the room -- "would have happened."
Draco stared past her, out at the dark ocean beyond the windowpane, and for the first time in months, he felt like everything would be all right.
When Draco and his mother returned to England, Narcissa immediately began calling all her old friends and re-establishing her waning social connections. As for Draco, he spent his first day back hiding in his father's study. All he wanted was to see Potter again. But that meant facing Potter again, too, and Draco wasn't sure if he was ever going to be up for that.
For all he knew, Potter had reconciled with the Weasley girl and was going to marry he despite the bastard child that wasn't even his. Or maybe Potter had found someone else to take Draco's place already. That thought filled Draco with sticky dread.
"Mistress has sent this for young master," squeaked a house-elf's voice, and Draco snapped out of his thoughts. The elf held a silver tray with that morning's copy of the Daily Prophet. Attached was a note from his mother:
You might find the topmost headline interesting.
Draco scanned it, and his stomach flopped.
HARRY POTTER STILL MISSING: EXPERT SAYS SUICIDE NOT LIKELY
As most of our readers know, Harry Potter, the intrepid hero of the last wizarding war, had gone missing a little over a month ago. He and Ginny Weasley had an altercation in the Ministry lobby -- we've been repeatedly unable to turn up any information on what that conversation might've been about -- and a few days later, Potter's friend Hermione Granger filed an internal missing persons report with the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. The report was leaked to the press by an unnamed official source and since then, the search is ongoing.
Ex-Auror Denny Lee, founder of the renowned Lee & Sons Private Investigations, says that suicide is unlikely, since Potter has made himself untraceable by conventional tracking spells. "If he's gone off somewhere to die, he wouldn't have worried about being found," says Lee, 73 but still as sharp as ever. Tomorrow, we will speak with Miranda Bradley, former chairwoman of the Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee and hostess of the popular WWN programme "Mind Matters with Miranda"...
Draco crushed the newspaper in his hands and tossed it aside. Missing? Dead? The latter prospect made something like his fog cell-induced madness awaken within him. Potter couldn't be dead. It just wouldn't be fair, not now, not when Draco wanted him alive, wanted him around for as long as possible.
No one knows of this place except you and me.
Draco wasn't surprised to find the small bedroom in the Godric's Hollow house empty. Too easy. "You and me" was one person too many, and if Potter had wanted to hide, he would've found a better hiding spot.
Unless he doesn't want to hide from you.
The air in the bedroom was stale. Draco's glance fell on the bed. The sheets were messy, crumpled, but there was no way to tell how recently someone had slept here. The St Mungo's file lay closed on the table. Draco took several paces and peered into the bathroom. The shattered mirror was back in its frame, spider-thin cracks running through it. He could almost hear Potter muttering a half-hearted Reparo spell and walking away. Draco took out his wand and pointed it at the mirror. The cracks vanished.
Perhaps he could fix things as well as destroy them, after all.
Draco walked downstairs to the ground floor, but it was just as empty. The air here wasn't stale, though; there was a distinctive aroma of tea, recently brewed. So Potter was here, or had been very recently.
Draco noticed movement out of the corner of his eye: it seemed to have come from the direction of the front door. Draco peered through the narrow window next to the entrance.
Potter sat on the steps leading up to the porch, chewing on one end of a long blade of grass. He turned around at the noise the door made as Draco opened it. Potter saw Draco and quickly turned away, as though the sight burned his eyes.
Draco walked over and sat down beside Potter, who turned to him with a look of complete indifference.
"I've underestimated you," said Draco by way of greeting.
Potter's eyes remained flat. "Have you."
"You're very good at pretending like you resent all the attention, really."
"Pretending?" Potter raised an eyebrow. "I really don't want their attention."
"I'm assuming you don't read the Daily Prophet these days. Your disappearance is top headline, has been since the beginning, with new experts weighing in every day."
Potter blinked. "Experts on what?"
"Private investigators, psychologists, Aurors... you name it."
Potter spat the blade of grass out onto the ground. "Idiots."
"And when you return, they'll have a veritable feeding frenzy."
"When I return?" Potter leant down and pulled another blade of grass from a clump near the edge of the walkway.
"Don't tell me you plan to remain in hiding for the rest of your life."
Draco felt light-headed. He was about to put his heart on a silver platter and hand it to Potter. What if Potter threw it away, like he'd done with their tenuous wartime friendship? Whatever happened, Draco wouldn't bother with petty revenge. His mother was right.
He took a deep breath and asked, "Are you looking to hide alone or would you like some company?" I love you too.
Potter put the blade of grass slowly into his mouth, his eyes unreadable. "What do you think?" Are you sure?
"I think it's not an accident that you're hiding here." You'll never hear me say it, though.
"Perceptive." I know.
Draco watched the blade of grass tremble between Potter's lips as he worked it over with his tongue and teeth. "The bedroom looks like shit."
Potter shrugged. "I wouldn't know. I haven't been back there since you left."
Draco's heartbeat pulsed in his temples. "I suspect that the lack of a proper mirror was a large deciding factor in your decision not to use that room any more."
"Yeah, that was it exactly. The mirror." Potter flashed him a crooked grin, white teeth with a green grass stalk between them. It bobbed up and down as Potter chewed it.
"Well, I've fixed the mirror," said Draco, watching the thin green blade move. "Now it just needs some fresh air."
"Do you want to air it out while we fuck or afterwards?" Up, down.
Draco wanted to be that damn blade of grass, except he never wanted to be spat out and replaced with another. "Before."
Potter turned to him fully, his face suddenly serious. "I've missed you." He moved the blade of grass from the corner of his lips to the middle. Draco reached up and yanked it from Potter's mouth. Potter hissed and bared his teeth in pain; tiny drops of blood beaded on his bottom lip. "What are you--"
Draco leaned over and licked the blood away. It tasted just like his own blood, and for the first time in his life, Draco wondered if purity of wizarding blood wasn't a moot point. All wizards had magic, and it was magic that made them special, not blood.
Then Potter's lips parted and his hand covered Draco's on the warm wood of the step, and it was time to say good-bye to yesterday.