The Other Side
by ethrosdemon

After the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, life found a new pattern. When Harry returned to school, he kept most of his anger to himself, not because he wanted to, but because he heard 'St. Mungo's' whispered behind enough hands. He didn't know exactly what else people said, he tried not to listen because when he did hear, sometimes Ron had to hold him back from physically expressing his dissatisfaction with the gossip. Ron fought for Harry; he initiated fights, hand to hand and bloody, and became something of the scourge of all reluctant, and possibly evil (according to Ron), pugilists. His 'Accio wand!' gave some people fits.

Dumbledore cut off the mass exodus of Slytherins to Durmstrang by refusing to send school records with student transfers. Not wanting to be placed by tests given in a foreign tongue, most students remained. However, there was a serious depletion of Hufflepuff to Beauxbaton's; it was only to be expected and wasn't remarked upon by any of the other houses.

Harry generally agreed with Ron's choice of victims and envied his zeal. He was more of the silent partner, whispering in hushed tones and using a secret language of facial and hand gestures to goad Ron on when Hermione's attention was diverted. Hermione was not amused by their 'brutish' behavior. Still, she never tried to break up a fight, and only stepped in to quiet Ron the once.

Once was enough, and in that case it was imperative. It would hardly do for Ron to strangle his only sister. Harry thought Ginny might have had it coming, and at the very least had picked her timing for information sharing rather carelessly. Three days after the Channel Islands Massacre, Ginny informed a stunned audience that she had taken the unprecedented step of requesting from both Heads of House and Dumbledore to be re-sorted into Slytherin. Her reasons were drowned out by Ron's sudden verbal outburst and lunging to shake sense into her. Ginny remained in Gryffindor, had only minor bruising, and came out into the open about her relationship with Octavius Biddle, the 6th yeah Slytherin prefect.

By their seventh year, the only people who still groused about Harry, Hermione, and Ron's special privileges wore green and silver crests and tended to complain about anything not directly related to themselves. No one listen but themselves. And sometimes Ron.

Harry was of many minds about the shape of the world. About the shape of the wizarding world would term that better; Harry's contact with the Muggle world was limited to the Dursleys on holidays. Not that he left Hogwarts or Hogsmeade very often, since it just wasn't safe for some students ( Harry and anyone intimate with him). He dreamt of Spain, of Morocco, of places with no fog or chill rain, where sienna cliffs dropped to a churning sea. He dreamt of escape, from Hogwarts, from the life he did not create but stepped into wholly made, predetermined, which was his in only name and appearance.

He was lucky to be alive, but sometimes he doubted it was luck at all. Not luck but fate, just the same old fate that kept him locked inside a name, inside a school, and inside his head. Because Harry really was a Gryffindor, brave and loyal and righteous. He loved his friends and would give his life rather than betray them. Not that they understood him, understood his rage and his seething bitterness. Harry was also yearning and ambitious and covetous. He yearned for his parents, for Sirius, for a simple life. His ambition was to be known as Harry Potter, something other than the Boy Who Lived, no matter what that other person might be, and he was envious of other people's freedom of decision.


Being smarter than the average piece of granite, Harry knew he was hardly the only person in the world who felt stifled by the recent turn of history. He had his own hate, though, and other people meant nothing to him. The direction fluctuated with the day, with the hour, and he let it vent through Ron, never with his own fists or his own shouted words. Not anymore. He didn't want to be locked up or booted out of school, and one more encounter with Dumbledore sitting smugly behind his desk staring with disapproving eyes might have been the final breaking point for Harry.

Harry knew the Law of Opposites, knew that the universe exists in balance; even wizards believed in such dualities. He was Harry, and he had his foil. Sometimes he wondered if that foil was Voldemort, really. Could Voldemort not have been his father's foil, perhaps his mother's? Could Voldemort be every individual's counter? Harry saw no symmetry in that, no balance, but rather a vast instability. From that logic, Harry produced Draco Malfoy as the only truly suitable opposite to him: light to dark, quick tempered to calculating intent, moneyed to poor, landed to itinerant. Harry had a very long list.

On occasion, Harry caught Draco taking his measure in the same fashion Harry watched him, sly and askance. He wondered if Draco had discovered the same truth. Due to the shifting of power after the battle in the Ministry, Harry had little opportunity to plumb for that knowledge.

Draco was never solitary. Instead of his childhood escort of two, he had acquired more of an entourage. They trailed him like a court, and from time to time, Harry would take stock of how often he himself was accompanied by far more numerous a pack than just Ron and Hermione. Draco never directly addressed Gryffindors, not after Lucius escaped from Azkaban between their fifth and sixth years. He channeled messages, insults and barbs through his underlings. Harry considered the last time he had directly spoken to a Slytherin, Ginny didn't really count. There was Snape, but Harry figured teachers to be beyond the pale of his equality reckoning.

Outside of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, people died, people were tried by the Wizenmoot and sent to Azkaban only to escape again, Muggles continued their oblivious lives. Inside, there was another sort of war, one of attrition and measuring.


Ron was a study in maroon and gold, Quidditch robes, wind-flushed cheeks, and a smile that made Harry feel like bursting, his heart expanding so rapidly in his chest. He thought Ron's smile and his own reaction to it must be true joy, comfort and safety.

"When it's all...well if it all is, you know, finished, we can go pro together, right Harry?" Hufflepuff never beat them, and victories against them were pleasant, but not satisfying. Playing Slytherin wasn't ever about the game itself. But Ravenclaw, they were a Hippogriff of another color. Five hours of give and go, it was pure Quidditch.

"Could do, Ron, but I look crap in orange." Ron's thick arm came around his shoulders, and they were consumed in the crowd of exuberant Gryffindors rushing the pitch. Hermione was sandwiched between the two boys, and the three of them were crushed by the swell.


Over butterbeer and Neville's spirited play by play of the faces in the Slytherin stands during the game, Harry tried to remember specific plays that caused so much consternation and just couldn't. His memory for those sorts of details had never been good, and he had started to suspect that stress caused him short-term memory loss. Which was a good thing on balance.

He begged off from the gang early, citing genuine fatigue for everyone at large. He whispered only for Hermione that Ginny's strange glare was getting to him. The boy's dormitory was always so odd when he spent time in there alone. It felt wrong somehow. Harry had adjusted to being a part of a group rapidly and didn't much care for being alone.

That night, however, he wanted to get to sleep before Seamus started snoring and Neville started cursing in his sleep. He folded his outer robe and hung it over the trunk at the foot of his bed, toed off his shoes and socks, flung his shirt on the floor for the silent house elves, and fished in his pockets for his cache of good luck charms. He'd picked up several over the years: a feather from Fawkes; a lock of Hermione's now-shorn hair kept in a locket; a buckle from a shoe that had belonged to every Weasley brother; a nicked Hufflepuff prefect badge.

He pulled out each item and came away with an extra. A folded piece of parchment with an unadorned blob of sealing wax unbroken on the fold. He turned it over in his fingers a few times and huffed to himself. He really hoped it wasn't another secret admirer. That never went well for him.

Breaking the seal, he leaned closer to the candle on his bedside table to read the script.

I know you are watching me. Be aware that my eyes are better than yours.

It wasn't signed, but then again, why would it be? Harry wasn't sure how it got into his pocket, but contrary to Slytherin propaganda, he wasn't such an idiot as to have no suspicions.


Breakfast the next morning was the same as it ever was on a Sunday. He ate three pieces of toast with blackberry jam, two sausages, and half of Dean's oatmeal.

"Harry's wooden leg was empty." Dean never ate much breakfast, and he liked sharing.

"Harry would eat a raw Hippogriff if there was some HP sauce handy." Everyone laughed at Ron's accurate point, but then he shrugged at his own plate. "But he'd have to make sure I didn't get to it first!"

While the rest of his housemates chatted loudly about yesterday's game, Harry watched around Ron's head towards the Slytherin table. He couldn't see the core group of upper-years all the time-- Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs obscured his view, but every once in a while he would see a platinum head. He wondered if it was bobbing slightly to get a better look as well. When Harry made the switch to sitting on the side of the table facing the rest of the room, people had discussed amongst themselves, but chalked it up to Harry being special (and a little strange since You Know). People tended to bond to one seat at their Great Hall table and keep it until graduation.

"Harry? Did something happen?" Hermione's hand touched his under the table, and he immediately looked her straight in the eye. She was perceptive, and he'd learned a long time before not to even attempt to lie directly to her.

"Something, but nothing important. It's personal." That was the codeword. She wouldn't mention this again until he brought it up or people were in mortal danger.

"If you say so. Ron and I have a prefect's meeting in a quarter hour. I should finish up and go." Ron was listening then. Harry didn't see him disengage from the conversation, but Hermione's words were a tell.

"All right, Hermione?" Ron's brows were knit, and he was leaning over the table.

"Of course. Why wouldn't it be? Honestly, if you worried more you might turn into your mother." This was the first volley into a long- standing war, and Harry tuned it out immediately. His friends carried on, leaving him alone with his thoughts until they all left in a surge of bodies out of the Hall and on to their Sunday routines.


Hermione was studying, Ron was grousing about Hermione studying, and Harry tried to be casual about Draco-spotting. The air was chill enough for a bonfire, and they were coddled enough to be allowed one.

Hagrid tended the bonfire of dead shrubs, undergrowth and magically dried trees while the entire school picnicked for supper. Since the war had begun to pick up steam, the students were treated regularly to odd happenings.

"In case we all go belly up before we get a whole life in," Ron had said when the Yellow Fairies were brought in for a ballet. Harry tended to agree with this grim summary.

In the glow of the bonfire, not yet night but not really day either, Harry felt suspended in time. Like the earth's rotation was stilled, or that he was in a place where such an occurrence wouldn't matter. Each breath seemed to take minutes to expel, and the crackling of the fire was overwhelming.

"Wrong time a'year for Beltane, not that I mind, I'd say." Seamus dropped to the blanket on Harry's right, and with him came Dean, and Ernie MacMillan and Zacharias Smith from D.A.

Shadows broke off from the festivities, moving in groups and pairs out of the corona of the fire and into what seemed to those within, pitch black.

"Where's Neville?" Ron strained his eyes into the night, scanning back and forth.

"Haven't seen him." Seamus went back to his sandwich, and Harry felt Ron sit up, tense and resume his visual search. Before he could leap to his feet, Harry gripped his arm.

"I'll go." He stood, brushing crumbs and dried grass from his pants and robe.

"Alone? I don't bloody think..." Ron was pulling his feet under him when Hermione's voice startled them.

"I ordered salmon sandwiches specially from Pinkie, did you eat them all?" When Ron turned to disavow knowledge, Harry strode off. Ron would be on his trail soon enough, but Hermione had bought him a few minutes alone.

He skirted blankets, two furious games of exploding snap, was almost bowled over by a very off-limits pick-up Quidditch match, and felt a semi-hysterical grin start to devour his face. People waved to him, then looked behind him, at one another, and then started whispering. The third time that happened, he burst out in a loud cackle, and one of the Gryffindor second years collapsed in tears. For some reason, that made it all the funnier.

Making the most of his walk, he hustled himself around, and after about ten minutes remembered he was supposed to be looking for Neville and not clusters of murky green and bright gray in the darkness. In the middle of a gaggle of Hufflepuffs, Harry spotted Neville talking animatedly, about plants he would guess.

"Where are your mates, Harry?" So close he reckoned he should feel her breath on his neck, Ginny materialized besides him.

"You are my mate, Ginny." He was still smiling, but now it was almost forced.

"Hm. Did you like the present I brought you?" In the firelight, she was so beautiful, cream and copper, and he could see the child she was when he met her. Like everyone else, though, Ginny wasn't a child now but had been jerked from that life, from the amorphous opportunity of childhood. She was as hard inside as she appeared fragile without.

"If I admit I know what you mean, what happens then?" From somewhere behind him, McGonagall was deducting points from Slytherin, and someone was screaming about a stolen biscuit.

"Then the good part starts." Harry studied her, and no matter how he screwed his eyes up, she was still Ginny, even though she didn't seem like she could be. How could someone change from one thing to another under his nose with out him noticing?

"Tell me who sent the note." Her laugh was bright, so bright in the half-lit fringes of the fire's heat, that Harry instinctually started to laugh as well, tiny trills issuing from his mouth unwanted.

"You know who, Parselmouth." Her eyes danced. "Use the cloak, come to the kitchens some night." Before he could respond, she turned on her heel and sauntered away. He thought about grabbing her, shaking her into reasonableness, and forcing her to tell him what exactly was going on, but he would catch hell if he were the one to finally crack her.


Three weeks passed. The same as all the other weeks, except that Harry worked himself up into frenzy about whether he should sneak away in the middle of the night.

Night covered many hours of the 24 hour cycle, especially in Scotland with winter coming on. What specific time would get him a meeting and some answers, and which huge chunks of time would only get him cold feet and maybe a real detention? Was the whole thing an elaborate joke intended to land him on the cover of the Daily Prophet in his pajamas and a berserk expression, caption "Potter Finally Flips His Nut"? Maybe the whole thing was a more personal sort of joke, one that could end in bloodshed and tears.

People expected Harry to be weird, to be different, he was Harry Potter after all, so when he started acting strange even for himself, only Hermione and Ron took any notice.

Ron queried, "It's not the fucking scar again is it? We play Slytherin in a couple weeks!"

Hermione gave him some pointed looks, but kept her own counsel.

Three weeks were enough to send him out of his bed, sneaking away without waking Ron for the first time in a long, long while, at 1:12 a.m.

He kept to his socks, no shoes for the noise, put on heavy outer robe, and flung the invisibility cloak over himself. Well-oiled hinges allowed him out of their bedroom with a minimum of fuss, and he wished on an eyelash that Ron didn't wake up to use the toilet while he was gone.

Creeping through the school in the dead of night wasn't really an issue. He made it to the hatch that led into the scullery without incident. At this juncture he became more cautious. He tapped the hatch in the correct pattern to alter it into a door, stepped through, and stood still. His breath sounded loud and strained when he finally felt safe enough to release it. At this hour, the elves would all be scurrying around the castle collecting laundry, magicking away grime, and having biscuits at 23 minutes past the hour (Hermione was full of elf-lore).

The labyrinth of the kitchens was always oddly illuminated; a sort of blue-tinged light crept out of corners and from under tables. Harry picked his way out of the scullery, and into one of the storage pantries. He peeked around the doorjamb into the kitchen proper, and was immediately disappointed to see nothing out of the ordinary. Not even a stray elf to fling him/herself into a cabinet. Harry sighed.

"Looking for someone, Potter?" Whirling, Harry strained his eyes in the direction the voice. In a nook near one of the countless Agas, sat a rickety table piled with a full tea service and candles. Seated at the table was Draco Malfoy in light pajamas and his hair tucked behind his ears.

"I knew you'd come, you idiot. Didn't you think it could be a trap? How you're still alive is beyond my intellect." He began pouring another cup of tea as Harry walked towards him.

"Almost everything is beyond... fine, that one is too easy. Is that decaffeinated?" Harry pulled up the vacant chair and picked through the biscuits until he found a lemon shortbread.

Silence stretched on with Harry consuming his shortbread and Draco staring at Harry. In the strange light, Draco's hair appeared steel gray and his eyes black. During his life with wizards and witches and rude muggles, Harry had learned to cope easily with awkward silences.

When Draco didn't appear to be willing to speak whatsoever, Harry really wondered if this was a trick, and he looked behind him, squinting into the darkness, to see if any of Draco's house mates were waiting to ambush him. When that appeared to be paranoia, for now, he blurted out, "I didn't know if you would still be here. I waited so long to come around."

"I'm always here." Delicate white fingers gripped a delicate white cup.

"Always at night, you mean, not all the time?" The other option was a possibility, that this Draco wasn't the real one but some specter eternally trapped in the kitchens.

"Of course I attend class. You've been hit on the head one too many times. You see me there." While the words were typical, the venom was lacking.

"No rest for the wicked." It was out of his mouth before Harry could stop it, and by the look of disdain on Draco's face, Harry expected the fisticuffs portion of the night to begin henceforth.

"You are the soul of wit, Potter. Original." Bits of hair fluttered around Draco's face in on draughts Harry could not feel.

"Are you well?" Making small talk with someone who had always been far beyond even civil conversation was straining, and Harry had no idea what to say. He also had no idea why he was there, besides a general dissatisfaction with following rules and the way his life was going.

"What well means to me, and what it means to you are probably disparate concepts, Potter." In the darkness, his expression masked, Harry could not get a fix on Draco, could not pin motivation on him by a look, give response by implied intent. He was coasting alone but in definite, warned-of peril.

"Do you want to have another sort of conversation, then? Tell me this: why is Ginny helping you why? Or how about: where's your father?" Harry tapped his second biscuit against his saucer to dislodge crumbs. Since he was in equal shadow to his companion, he felt he should be equally free to be direct or not direct at his choosing.

"I think even you know the answer to both of those questions." Draco's expression merged from blank to bored.

"What do you want, Malfoy? If it's just to insult me since you've missed so many chances in the last while, I could do with some sleep." The oddness of the situation closed in on Harry, and he felt adrift, lightheaded.

Draco observed him, still as he always was when not in a flurry of anger. "I thought it was perhaps you who wanted something."

"I know how to ask direct questions." Which was the truth and a lie, because knowing how didn't mean he knew the question.

"The question might not be direct at all." Draco's voice, low and even, carried in a surreal echo through the kitchen.

Harry finished the dregs of his tea, thought about what this conversation was about, how it had come to pass, and could come to no conclusions. "What are you saying?"

"You tell me." Draco's eyes drifted past Harry's face, to the opposite corner of the room where a slight scuffle appeared to be taking place.

Harry turned as well, stunned to see three house elves engaged in some sort of foot stomping dance. "I can't bloody well read your mind, Malfoy!"

Draco stood, pushing his chair back with his legs. "If you tried hard enough, I am sure you could come up some way to do so. At any rate, good night." He walked on soft feet around Harry, dodged the elves, and vanished through a high, arched doorway.


Never being one to leave a mystery or possible life-ending scenario alone, the kitchen visits continued. Harry started taking daily naps. Ron asked Harry if he might miss practice. Hermione told him to eat his spinach.

Harry wore flannel pajamas patterned with gold and maroon stripes. "Why are you being civil to me?"

"What else would I be?" That was a loaded question if one was ever asked, but Draco appeared his version of genuine, which is to say he was not smirking or holding a wand at Harry's throat.

"Evil, and rude and superior." In the blue-gray light of the kitchens by night, house elves' reflective eyes staring from under tables or out of sinks, such honesty, such a conversation at all, didn't seem at all strange. Not since everything in Harry's life was just this strange anyway.

With his normal, nocturnal even-temper, Draco regarded Harry for half a moment before replying to the obvious insult. "You were raised in a different world. Don't ask me to explain that which you can never understand."

"What are you taking about? I've lived as a wizard for years." And have been one all my life, he wanted to say. Wanted to point out at least one side of his bloodline was as old as Draco's, but instinctually felt that would be some sort of victory for his companion.

Sighing, Draco tapped his wand on the brim of his cup, the fluid transforming from clear tea to murky chocolate. "How I act is rarely chosen by me. There are parameters, strict formulas for behavior. You can't understand that."

"It isn't as though you sneer and keep up appearances here. You seem happy enough to be yourself. And you have no idea what I know or don't know." Sometimes he just added the barbs on out of habit, other times he let Draco be a direct object of his roiling hatred.

"What I was addressing is how I act everywhere but here. And you talk about my self a little lightly-- sometimes habits are so ingrained they are all I am." Draco finished his chocolate in silence. Harry couldn't think of anything to say, so he ate his biscuit.


In early November, Lacey the Matron Elfess, as she referred to herself, introduced herself to Harry. Draco called her by name and nodded. With them she left a parchment menu of preferred items for their nightly meetings.

"You just spoke to a house elf." Harry cocked his head and squinted his eyes at Draco.

"Don't be tiresome, Potter. I'm also sitting at a table with the boy who has been the source of my unending torment since I was eleven. And you sent my father to prison and killed my aunt." Draco sipped his tea.

"I didn't kill her! And she killed Sirius!" Harry's voice rattled the china.

"As you see, we're almost even." Draco smiled.

Harry checked off Maids Of Honor, lemon squares, and oatmeal raisin biscuits, from the list, anger making his breath short. He flung the parchment at Draco and was disappointed when a corner didn't poke his eye out. "Don't you hate me?" Harry studied the china patter, interlocking H's.

"Do you hate me?" When he looked up, Harry could see all the squares Draco had checked contained the word 'chocolate'.

Harry considered how chocolate is both bitter and sweet at the same time. "Hate is a strange word."

"It doesn't explain the nuances of emotion, or perhaps the complexity." Draco nodded absently as he underlined something several times with the kitchen quill.

"Do you want to kill me?" Harry's voice cracked as he whispered it.

Draco kept right on perusing the menu, he didn't even look up. "There is only one person I want to kill."

"Me too." Behind him, Harry heard the unmistakable rattle of house elves frolicking in a laundry bin. He turned to watch the disruption. When he rounded back, he remembered all too rapidly why Draco used to actually cause him nightmares: he was very much Lucius on a smaller scale.

"I doubt they are the same one." Draco's eyes caught the light, pale irises shot with darker lines, the set of his mouth, the half-tilt of the head, Harry was glad he had another mortal enemy. "And I have wanted to kill you. Just not right this moment."


Harry told his friends he had a secret girlfriend. That way they let him off with his naps and covered for him when other people pried. Ron had even taken to charming pillows to take on his general form after he crept out at night.

He'd thought about explaining, but he didn't feel like the story was over yet, and he was afraid to jinx the whole tale. Besides, Harry thought he had very few things in his life that only belonged to him, except his pain and his loss. He wanted something more. Something without a real name.

Draco had many secrets. One of them was enjoying sorting through laundry. Which wasn't so surprising once Harry figured out that he was really going through other people's pockets and collecting a pile of odd knowledge. To be honest, Harry hadn't really figured that out; Draco had told him. "You know your friend Parvati? She cheats at Exploding Snap." This was proved with a loaded deck he produced from a Gryffindor robe with the initials PP sewn in the collar.

Draco sat in a pile of clean laundry into which the elves had already replaced all of the odds and ends removed for washing. "If you can could change one thing besides your parents' deaths, what would it be?"

Harry watched from a low bench next to a wide, stone washbasin. He flicked an ill-gotten Super-Duper-Spinarama Yo-Yo. "You can't change reality; there's no point futilely wishing for something that will never be."

Draco paused, his hand half in a Ravenclaw pocket. "Perhaps you need to get out more."

"I'm not allowed to leave the grounds or Hogsmeade." The yoyo spun in a huge loop-de-loop, and flung itself through a hole Harry hadn't created in the string.

"I'm quite aware of that." Almost old Draco, and Harry looked up, he took notice when Draco's voice snapped. "How often do you listen to what you're told?" He wasn't frowning, which really meant he was smiling. "What would you change?"

Harry sighed. "My entire life."

Draco snorted. "Perhaps I should explain how this works. You don't get to change everything, just one thing."

"I'd make Dumbledore give me to the Weasleys, or another wizarding family. I wish I never met the Dursleys, that I had a real family."

"Hm, Dumbledore cooked up that plan? Not surprised. What a fool." Harry bit back an automatic defense of the Headmaster, because he realized he pretty much agreed with what Draco said. His emotions in that direction were sharp, black with red edges.

"My mother says that a snake wishes it were truly warm until it tries to sleep in a fireplace." Draco smiled while Harry puzzled that out. "Yes, you really need to get out more."

"What do you have in mind?" Harry had been party to many a half-assed plan, and he knew the beginnings of one when it landed in his lap. "This could be a trick."

"Being alive could also be an illusion, but you play the odds." Draco stood, shoving the wadded clothes away with his foot.

"No I don't, but sometimes I pretend to." Draco didn't hear him, though. He was already shouldering his way out of the room with purpose in his lazy stride. Harry watched his pajama-clad figure for a second, and then bent to retrieve a few items from the pile Draco had just been seated upon.

After a few seconds, Harry trailed after Draco with the robes bundled up to his chest. Draco threaded his way through pantry after pantry and finally stooped down to retrieve a parcel from under a footed cabinet. When he stood up, Harry thrust a robe at him and shook it slightly.

"Are you applying for the position of my valet, Potter?" Draco held a piece of oilcloth swathing an amorphous object in both his hands.

"If we're going somewhere, shouldn't we at least appear decent? People wandering about in the snow in pajamas might stand out in a crowd?" Harry indicted both of their bodies.

Draco inclined his head to literally look down his nose at his companion. "I'm not going to go for a midnight frolic in the snow. We'll be inside. Our nightclothes will do for this outing."

"I'm not sure this is the best plan." Harry had had many years of Hermione's patented voice of reason to be a decent mimic, and he was slightly disappointed when Draco didn't seem affected by it.

"Is there a plan?" The full smile that lit up the heart-shaped face made the hairs on the back of Harry neck to stand on end.

"Do you normally have a plan? I have serious reservations about that." Draco's grin remained, Harry tried to recreate it but fell well short.

Flipping the edges of the oilcloth open, Draco produced a sequined top hat of the variety only seen on drunk people or leprechauns (in muggle depictions) "Just grab this, I can't bring myself to pledge to you, since you are a sniveling Gryffindor, but I can promise you that bringing you to ruin is not on my agenda for the night. Not is revenge, before you ask. Revenge must be public to be savored."

Harry considered whether that was supposed to be reassuring or not. "Um, is that a portkey?" In the gloom, he couldn't distinguish the color, but he imagined it was quite bright.

"Of course. And an article of clothing; those elves wouldn't touch it upon penalty of exile." If Harry ever told people this story, he decided he would leave out Draco's laughter of glee, because it sounded unbelievably over the top even to him.

Harry decided to alter his tactic to confusion, abandoning reason. "You come and go from the grounds?"

"Surely you didn't think you and your lot were the only ones who move about pretty much at will?" Draco again presented the hat, holding it by the cloth and shoving at Harry's chest.

Since everything short of honesty had failed, Harry resorted to that last, and only because it was an extreme situation. The odd, disjointed times he spent with Draco were little conducive to clarity. "Well...I don't think I should go anywhere with you. It wouldn't do to escape from death over and over to walk right into a trap. Sort of pointless."

Draco allowed the hat, cloth, and his hand to drop to his side. His head drooped, and his chin touched his chest. "I can understand you not trusting me. What with how you sent my father to Azkaban and how you must assume I'm out for your life's blood." Draco paused, his face falling completely blank. "So, Potter, I hear you have a girlfriend."

"What if I do?" This did not sound good, since Harry had figured long ago that Draco was only vulnerable when incited to rash anger.

Giving up much more quickly than Harry expected, Draco's head whipped up, and his shaded eyes told Harry nothing. "Don't be an ass. We both know you don't. We also both know you lied to your little friends to get them to help you sneak away to see me."

This was the conversation Harry had waited for ever since the first shared biscuit and cup of tea. The feeling of resignation was so familiar he almost welcomed it. "I suppose we do, and now we both know you'll blackmail me somehow."

Shifting forward, Draco advanced to within a foot of Harry. "Only to get you to touch this." He shook the hat under Harry's nose.

"You first." The words were barely birthed before long hair fluttered, gray eyes flashed, and Draco was making both their choices.

"You're bloody impossible!" He snatched Harry's hand from his side, and both their fingers connected with the sparkling surface of the hat at the same instant.

The invisible fishhook through his stomach thunked Harry down on marble. His knees would remind him of that collision for weeks. His head felt like candyfloss and his now bruised knees were rubber. He remained on the ground panting and trying to regain focus.

"You should eat more chocolate. It comes in handy at the most unexpected times." Draco crouched down and shoved two foil-wrapped candies into Harry's clenched hand.

Wiping a line of drool from the corner of his mouth, Harry stood unsteadily and prepared to launch into a wobbly diatribe about where Draco could shove his suggestions and chocolates. Instead, his breath caught for a new reason, and his next five minutes were spent in gob- smacked silence.

"I wish I could know what the feels like. To be happily stunned. I've never felt it before, maybe you could tell me sometime. When you're coherent." Humor buoyed the drawl, and Harry watched a palette of stained-glass hues play off the canvass of Draco's parchment-like skin: burgundy, violet, magenta.

They stood in what Harry named to himself a solarium. Windows arched from marble floor to cathedral ceiling to his right, and ahead the room stretched on beyond his sight. A three-quarter moon hung gravid, streaming opaque light into the room like a man-made beacon. Various plant-stands of every time-period and design school (up to the late English Renaissance) stood heaped, crowded, and overflowing with plants, a botanical garden not seen since Babylon, or maybe ever at all.

"Are these crystal?" Harry shuffled his feet on the inlaid marble for fear of kicking over something invaluable.

"Clearly, you can see they are not." Draco followed him from behind. "Especially these." From over his shoulder, Draco indicated a bed of lilies-of-the-valley planted in a delicate, delft planter. Each tiny, bell-shaped flower clicked against its nearest fellow when the boy's movement caused a slight breeze.

"Ivory." Harry breathed it out, and on his inhalation smelt earth and age and dust. He twisted, and Draco stepped back to allow him room. "How?"

An amethyst Wandering Jew potted in a chinoiserie vase reflected knives of smoky purple across Draco's neck. "Magic, of course. Come on."

They threaded their way through a faux-swamp of jade ferns on ancient, mosaic flagstones, around an orangerie with tinkling, topaz fruits, by countless flowerbeds of ruby poppies, aquamarine lupins, and impossible opal tulips. Draco stopped to sit on a stone bench carved with winged serpents on either end. They sat facing an indoor stream, the water black and unseen in the current lighting.

"Where are we?" Harry could hardly decide what he should say about all this, but that question seemed imperative.

"In the Garden of Delights, that's what my Grandmother calls it." His eyes focused on the stones leading down to the water.

"Your grandmother? This isn't, I mean...Malfoy Manor?!" If it was, Harry realized with the finality of true-life horror, all he had was his wand up his sleeve, nothing more. No-one knew he was here, and no- one would be coming for him.

The laughter was so sudden, Harry jumped and was glad he hadn't had more tea to drink. "Potter, do you think my father would be playing servant to another if this was at his disposal? This is on my Grandmother's property, and she is a LeDuc, never a Malfoy."

This was the Draco Malfoy of midnights, of chocolate-scented breath, of scullery-lurking and coy confessions. Harry wasn't scared any more. He couldn't bother to be. He was terrified enough in the daylight, of the things he couldn't see, couldn't name, or, conversely, knew only too well. Draco was cagey, wicked, and difficult, but he was known. He was Harry's opposite, after all.

"Where did all this come from, then? Did your grandmother collect it?" Since his eyes and mind were adjusting to the milky moonlight and double rainbow of distorted petal lights, Harry could better distinguish detail. The stream he assumed to be sluggish and shallow now appeared to be tumbling energetically, ten feet down the shore, a Chinese foot bridge arched from bank to bank. The opposite shore was somewhat obscured by a clutch of evergreen bushes. To their left, the view of the rest of the solarium was blocked by a silent apple tree.

"Collect? Things like this are created, not assembled." From the pocket of his pajamas, he produced a perfect peony blossom, pink agate petals frozen in eternal perfection. "Look." He offered it to Harry.

Harry wasn't sure what he was looking for, some mark of artistic genius he had no eye to discern or obvious flaw. Before he could stop himself, he brought the bloom to his nose and sniffed it. They both began to laugh the same instant. It smelt of nothing.

"Did they do it with wands?" Having decided this was the only explanation, Harry waited for the nod of assent. Instead, Draco cocked his head and sat still for three heartbeats.

"I wonder what your father would think if he knew you were raised by complete muggles." This sort of pondering was so typical, Harry didn't even go through the motions of being insulted. "I'll tell you a story; it's how my Gran told me, and therefore could be completely fictitious. She likes her brandy."


Draco's Grandmother's Story:

During the Troubles, when witches were denouncing their kin to gain position, marry better, grab for a better piece of land, get their child into a better school, there were many spectacular events. When all six Bedard sisters cursed each other simultaneously, they made the Loire run with blood and kicked off some of the worst burnings of the century. Intra-family violence was very common. Some of the new- fangled muggle concepts gained a footing in the wizarding world, and there was a battle between women, who traditionally ran the Families, and the men of the blood who wanted some say.

Sofia LeDuc was unluckily enough to be born the only girl in her generation in her family. She had only one aunt, and her mother died in childbirth. True tales like this one eventually gave rise to many muggle fairy tales of absent mothers and witches' curses. Sofia was kept away from all other women, taught only by her male relatives. The most unsavory details of this were lost in the slip of time. Being gifted, beautiful, and pureblooded, she made a good engagement.

However, her leave was not taken in these matters, and her marriage night was a rape. Her vows were said under Imperio. Inside the prison of her mind, she plotted her revenge. Like most plans, it did not go as intended.

When she decided the time was most ripe, when her husband, father, brother and sister-law sat at table happily chatting of Quidditch and the ridiculous muggle clerics, Sofia began her curse. She wound all of her rage around a talisman, chanting and weaving as her relations gorged themselves. Exactly how her spell went wrong is also lost, because in the end, this was of no weight. The import was that her family continued to eat, continued to chat, and Sofia became ever angrier. At the apex of her anger, she stood from her place at the table, screaming and cursing, her wand extended, and all as one, her kin drew on her and retaliated.

She ducked. They ducked. From her hiding place behind the drapes, Sofia watched as first the fringe and then the warp and weft of the drapes began to solidify, to crackle and protest and groan under the new weight of its altered composition. Being sensible, she fled her position before she was duly crushed.

Before the end of the night, the only member of her family still in original form was her pregnant sister-in-law. To her last day, Sofia could transfigure any object, or creature, into a jeweled likeness of it's self. She kept her relatives on display in the foyer.


The moon was far lower in the sky by the end of the story. Harry's backside had gone numb halfway through, and Draco had transfigured them two velvet cushions.

"You can't be serious." When so many vital details were missing, Harry tended to be of a very Hermione frame of mind about such stories.

"Where did you think wizarding fortunes came from? Commerce?" He stood, and Harry did likewise.

"I don't know, I guess I never thought about it." Which was too true. Harry didn't have much of a head for finances, either there was money, or there wasn't. End of.

"I don't suppose you would have." Turning his back to Harry's look of annoyance, Draco started towards the footbridge. They walked in silence for a few minutes, but Harry's temper was making a nuisance of itself.

"You don't have to say things like that, you know. There's no reason to be an ass when we're alone." Over the hump of the bridge, down amongst the emerald firs, they continued, and Draco didn't respond. "What happened to her sister-in-law?"

Draco kept walking and tossed over his shoulder "Sofia turned her to marble once the baby was born."

He halted abruptly, knelt on the packed earth at the fringes of a shrub, and withdrew another bundle of oilcloth. Light filtered directly on the both of them, bright and scouring. The sleeve of Draco's pajama top had been rucked up while he searched for the returning portkey. In the moonlight as silver and burning as Draco himself, Harry saw the mark that had haunted his days since birth and would follow him on to his death. It was not new, no scabs or redness, and Harry imagined the gaping eye-sockets of the skull glaring at him.

Draco stood, his sleeve falling back into place, and extended the key, a piece of broken pottery. His face was blank, the nothing face that could mean a hundred things, but usually meant silence. "You can't stay here, you'll have to trust me."

"I know." And Harry felt the familiar tug, disorientation, and whoosh as his finger split on the sharp shard.


Gold and crimson colored his dreams. Fields of snow turned gilt in fading sunset while he ran and ran for an ever-farther horizon. Blood trickled from the corner of an unknown mouth. The scenes were disjointed, jerky. Sometimes rows of broken bodies, sometimes Sirius falling eternally in an endless blackness, sometimes Dumbledore telling him to be a man. Anxiety manifested in the few snatches of sleep he could claim. His body had adjusted to a new pattern, and his will could not bend his body back into the old one.

Harry hadn't been to the kitchens in a week. Hadn't looked at Draco in class or during a meal in the same amount of time.

"If you want to talk about it, I'll be in the library this evening." Hermione told him. He smiled and asked her if he could copy her Potions notes.

"What good are girls, anyway? All right, Harry?" Ron said while smacking him heartily on the back. Harry laughed and mounted his broom for practice.

On the eighth night, he scrambled from his bed and decided a walk would calm him, exhaust him. By the time he rounded the third corner, he stopped trying to lie to himself and just headed straight for the kitchens.

The elves knew him, by step or by scent, he couldn't ever reckon quite how, and they no longer hid from him when he entered their territory. Words skidded around him in the sibilant, chittering language of the elves. There were dishes to scrub, cakes to bake, clothes to iron; they took no notice of an insomniac student who had proven himself reluctant to claim their attention.

The table was gone. In its place was just space, the floor, the invisible air. Harry had come for something, answers, a desperate longing after nothing in particular, a need to fill his night with a truce, nothing and everything, like always with him. He hadn't expected to find the kitchens back to their pre-Draco humdrum.

He stood looking at the spot where the table used to be, smelling the lemony-cake scent wafting from the Agas, listening to the elves prattle in their staccato manner, watching the kitchen blanketed as though underwater through the odd, blue light the elves favored. He stood until the cake came out of the oven. That, he decided, was some secret signal to give up and go back to the Tower.

Harry never was very good with signs. He headed for the pantry where Draco had lead him to retrieve the portkey. Dropping to his knees, he hunched over and grubbed under the cupboard for a piece of oilcloth, a bundle of another sort, anything.

"You didn't think I hid them in the same place every time?" The mocking tone scared him so badly, Harry tried to leap up with his arm still firmly lodged in the small space under the cabinet.

"You bloody ass! Owwwwwwww!" His shoulder was wrenched, and as he withdrew his arm, he brought it his chest to cradle the damaged limb.

"Really, Potter, you truly are a criminal. A sneak, a liar, and a thief. I wish I'd known years ago." Draco crouched down and sort of grabbed at Harry's shoulder, grasped his bicep and rotated the arm while Harry scowled as fiercely as he could. Because, after all, he was more relieved than anything that Draco had decided to declare himself.

"It's not hurt badly. You're a baby. How have you survived so many injuries if *that * made you squall?" Letting his legs collapse under him, Draco went from crouching to sitting cross-legged.

"I was not squalling! I was...I came here to ask you questions, not the other way about." He didn't really mean to be so direct, but Draco was pushing his luck with the teasing. And the shoulder really did smart.

Draco cocked his head, but Harry couldn't see his face properly; the light through the archway shone so that Draco was backlit. Without Harry noticing, Draco drew his wand. He twisted his body to face the other direction and barked, "Obsignario!"

With a pop, all the light in the pantry vanished. "Lumos!" Harry's wand glowed enough to cast gigantic shadows but not really to illuminate much besides his hand.

"What the hell are you doing?" He wasn't scared, much. In an even battle, he had no doubt he could take Draco. It was the idea of an uneven one that gave him pause.

"You want to ask me about the Mark, right? I can't have one of those blighted elves listening in and running back to Bumblebore." Harry didn't answer. He was used now to keeping his own council from the Headmaster, so he respected Draco's need for privacy.

"Are you going to cry because you thought we were best mates? Did you really think either of our lives could be that fucking simple? You're an idiot." Draco had transfigured a package of dried apricots into a lamp while Harry held an inner-dialogue.

"You're the one who's going to cry if you don't stop insulting me. I know that must be some defense mechanism for you, since you know I have you dead to rights, but shut it." With that, Harry was shocked to see, in the dim light of two lit wands and one apricot scented boudoir lamp, Draco's mouth snap shut.

"Show me your arm." Some things have to be demanded, and that was one of them. Draco thrust out his arm, sleeve down, and Harry waited a second before snatching the material up himself. When he did, a twitch began on his forehead. A sensation like a scab healing rapidly made his teeth itch.

"Does it hurt?" Harry wondered how Draco had hidden this. But he also didn't know the lay of the Slytherin dormitory. Draco could bunk alone, which would explain his nocturnal ramblings. Or all the upper- years could already be Marked.

"It doesn't give me an orgasm, if that's what you're asking." Just for that, Harry thought he'd spite them both by touching the brand. He rapidly poked out his index finger and stroked along the slithering body of the serpent. Immediately, he wished he hadn't.

Harry's scar leapt to life, burning like someone had set a lit match to his forehead. Draco stiffened in Harry's hold and let out a hyphenated, high-pitched squeal.

"I knew you had to be damaged emotionally. You like pain, don't you, Potter?" Draco grasped the Mark; Harry cupped his palm over his scar.

"I was fucking curious. Yours is the first I've ever gotten so close to. I had to touch it." The pain receded in incremental throbs, and Harry hoped Draco was suffering equally, for being an ass, for being a traitor, for stealing some of Harry's precious concern.

Draco began to laugh. "Do you listen to what comes out of your mouth? I could directly quote that and ruin your reputation for life."

"That's from your room in Azkaban, right?" Draco's laughter died, but Harry didn't think it was much of a zinger, since Azkaban was hardly the threat it used to.

"Maybe I will be that lucky." Draco clutched his arm to his chest.

"What does that mean?" Gryffindor bravado crumbled in the face of what could be real information, a real insight in to a true threat.

"I'm not that stupid, you'll have to work harder to get secrets for the Order." Draco lunged for him, and they both fell into a sprawl, Harry's wand flew out of his grasp, and Draco shattered the apricot lamp with his knee.

It was tongue rather than lips that slipped across his mouth. Dexterous, pointed, and intent, Draco's tongue flitted against his lips. When he didn't give in, didn't kiss back, just laid there in stunned numbness, Draco collapsed his body onto Harry's rigid form, causing an oof of response. Which was cheating. Which was calculated and underhanded, and very Slytherin, indeed. Harry didn't complain, and once Draco's tongue poked at his own, tip to tip, he decided he was already in for the penny and went in for the pound. His fingers popped the buttons on Draco's trousers, in the heavy blackness of the sealed pantry, their metallic ping-ping-ping on the flagstones was comical, and Harry laughed. He kept laughing as Draco gasped and raked his nails down Harry's neck, raising welts, as Harry's fingers tightened around Draco's cock.

"Have you done this before?" The scratches on Harry's neck stung, and his scar still ached, but it didn't keep him from rubbing against Draco's leg, the leg that rubbed back, almost brutally. Harry tightened his fingers when Draco didn't answer.

"Don't ask questions when you don't know the answers." Draco sounded strained, his voice deeper than usual, more patrician to the point almost of parody.

Harry withdrew his hand and sat back on his knees. "What..." He went over again, straight onto his back with Draco's forearm across his windpipe.

The pressure tightened, and Harry scratched with his bitten, craggy nails at Draco's sleeve. "We all have our secrets, Potter. People with familes usually keep theirs there." Draco breathed the words into Harry's reddening ear, then released him. He was up and through the retransfigured door before Harry caught his breath.


With purple light scattering the darkness in the dormitory, Harry climbed into bed realizing he hadn't gotten the answers he left it for. But since he was used to things not going the way he planned, he figured sought-after truths could wait. He disappointment was turned over into something else when Death Eaters attacked Hogsmeade the next week and the Slytherin wing of the Castle was cleared pretty much bare. He still didn't tell anyone about Draco knowing about the Order, though, or that Draco knew Harry was somehow associated with it.

Harry spent his last months at Hogwarts in almost silent rebellion. He bitched and chafed at the decisions of the Ministry and Professors and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Remus, but mostly of Dumbledore, to Hermione and Ron, but mainly he kept his true feelings to himself. There were only so many hurt looks and placating toned lectures he could take.

Harry held no truck with authority, not after Sirius, after a lifetime of the Dursley's. When war broke out in earnest, he refused to follow orders, work as a team player, take any sort of advice. Harry moved from being a Hero to being a feared commodity. He didn't mind the transition all that much since he thought people were stupid not to be scared of him all along. He scared himself often enough. Mainly in the aftermath of headless anger or unchecked words. Usually late at night, he scared himself wondering what would have happened if Draco had offered to take him along when he left school.

Around the time they should have left Hogwarts (months into trench warfare), even Dumbledore's Army gave up on trying to bring him into the fold. They stopped coming to Godric's Hollow to beg and scream over how he was botching up all their hard planning by stirring up Death Eater nests they'd watched for months. He studied for months to alter the wards, and eventually anyone who worked directly for the Ministry got transported to Albania the second they stepped foot on his property. That wasn't really intended for Hermione, but she stopped owling him anyway. Harry refused to explain himself to anyone. Even himself.

Harry wasn't a theoretician or exceptionally good at complex magics, but most of the people he refused to speak to anymore warded his property, Dumbledore included, so he slept when he was weary with no worries about Death Eater attacks or Ron popping by.

He did mind the free food, though, and had to walk all the way into the village to procure for himself. Toast and jam were his staple diet, with tinned soup thrown in when he felt up to opening it. For the most part, he avoided the village since the residents looked at him the same way his fellow students gawked at Hogwarts.


The last time he spoke to Ginny, he told her "It's better this way, draws attention away from all of you and on to me."

She responded, "Did you rehearse that in your head? Because the martyr bit worked better before you Imperioed Neville for ratting you out last week." Ginny always did piss him off more than most. He could always see Tom behind her eyes. Harry knew it was a matter of time before she sold everyone out. He nursed the idea of her getting come-uppance when we woke from dreams where her words echoed and stung.

Mostly, his life was a routine of shuffling around the cottage broken sporadically by raids on Death Eaters when he worked himself up into a blind rage. He picked them off one at a time sometimes. Other times he popped up and killed as many as he could, in less than ten seconds, before Apparating out again. His record was seven; he was practicing to beat it.


Harry wasn't surprised to awaken one morning to find Draco sitting in a chair opposite his bed placidly staring. He'd been expecting Voldemort, but Draco would do. He inclined his head as Harry slid his body up to sort of lounge against the headboard. "Do you ever wake in the morning thinking 'what's the point?"

"Usually I wonder why I'm still alive." The tips of Harry's fingers played over his wand where it lay under the quilt.

"I tend to consider that more a going to sleep thought." Harry said nothing, and Draco sighed before continued. "Virginia Weasley killed two of her brothers last night."

Harry yawned. "I'm not really surprised."

Draco's head moved slightly, but he was just a fuzzy blob to Harry. "So, you didn't know?"

"Obviously. Did I say 'Oh, I knew that!'" Harry rolled his eyes, reached over to the bedside table to retrieve his glasses.

Draco popped into sharp focus, his usual, pleased sneer pulling down the bottom of his face. "Don't get in rude. She said you were on your own, but no one believed her. She's...unstable."

"Which brothers?" He sat up and forward, his wand now above the blankets and resting in his fist.

"I can't tell them apart." Draco crossed his legs, sighed melodramatically. "They were tall with hideous orange hair. Not the Weasel, since that's what you're asking." His eyebrow went up, and the sneer morphed into as close to a smile as daytime Draco ever managed.

"Which ones?" Harry repeated, soft and steady.

"Charles and George." The smile was gone, spinning away with the pretense.

"Did you father send you?" Harry squinted when Draco broke apart in brittle laughter. The sound was as close to frightening as Harry had heard in a long while.

"Well, that truly clears you of any lingering doubt." When Draco leaned back in his chair and a beam of sun caught him, Harry noticed a criss-cross scar on his cheek that wasn't there the last time they met.

"What?" Harry was confused, disoriented, the oddity of the situation just started to impact his muddled, morning mind.

"My father's dead, and if you were in contact with any of your little do-gooding mates, you'd have known it." Draco sounded amused, another disjointed clue that Harry couldn't quite reckon.

"How?" Harry never did deep strategy, and if Draco ever taught him anything, it was that good traps often felt the same as cold, hard facts.

"Your pet werewolf on a suicide mission." Draco's face was the static, bland one, but his fingers interlocked in his lap as Harry leapt clear of the bed and raised his wand directly at Draco's forehead.

"Remus is dead?" His voice shook, but his hand was dead steady.

"Not if you know a spell to resurrect cinders." Harry considers killing Malfoy just to shock him out of his smugness.

"Who else?"

Malfoy sighed. "Really, Potter, they stopped publishing the casualty list in the Prophet almost a year ago."

Harry sat back down on the edge of the bed and combed his fingers through his hair. "How did you get past the wards?"

"While you were off defeating evil, I was studying for my NEWTS. Plus, I didn't spend holidays with Muggles, I was studying to 'make something out of myself.'" Draco can't keep the creeping hatred out of his voice, the tone that Harry always associated with himself.

"What are you not telling me?"

"Ah, good. I was tiring of the way this was going myself." Draco pushed his hair from his face with the back of his hand. "We're at a turning point. I only say 'we' because you and I are nominally on so- called sides."

"What the hell are you talking about? You tried to kill me less than a month ago." Harry gestured with his wand, and they were both silent for more than a minute.

"My father was there. Watching. And I happen to recall that you weren't averse to casting on me first. But that's neither here nor there."

"God, I'm too tired for this." Harry sprawled back on his back on the bed. He listened to as Draco stood and walked off in the direction of the kitchen.

This was probably when he was supposed to get up and go and kill Draco. Take out a very dangerous operative and then go back to his life of random Evil-fighting. He was still trying to decide what he would do with Draco's dead body laying in his kitchen when the object of his reverie came back with tea. Harry say up and plucked the hovering cup from the air.

"Since when do you know how to make tea?" Harry blew across the surface of the liquid watching Draco doing the same.

"Since my father killed all our elves because they were potential defectors and spies." Draco quirked his mouth. Harry thought about Dobby and felt guilty for the massacre of all of his relatives.

"Why aren't you fighting the good fight with all your bosom companions, Potter?" Draco continued.

"None of your fucking business." Harry splashed scalding tea on his hand in his anger and swore to himself.

"Typical. I already know anyway, so there's no need to get in a snit." Draco accioed a table and set his tea cup on it. "It's annoying to be pulled down in to someone else's fight, isn't it?"

Harry took too long to answer, and Draco smirked. "What are you talking about, Malfoy? Voldemort..." Harry broke off when Draco let out a loud hiss, and his scar flared to life.

"You're an idiot!" Draco stood and paced to the other side of the room.

Harry's anger awoke at his own mistake and Draco's childish comment. "You Know Who killed my parents! And I could kill you any time I fucking wanted, so shut it!" He flung his tea across the room where it toppled over a picture in which his parents cowered and looked scandalized.

Draco whirled and stomped back to glare into Harry's face. "Why haven't you, then? Why didn't you kill me before my mother died, before I was married, before I realized that we're going to win!"

Harry wasn't sure what he was supposed to say to any of that. He opted for sitting back down and pointing out the truth. "I didn't know any of that. I mean, obviously, uh, Pansy?" He lifted his eyes to Draco's face.

"Millicent." Harry couldn't help the laughter at the distaste in Draco's voice or the disdain screwing up his face. "Indeed."

"If you're winning, then why hasn't anyone else come to kill me?" Harry couldn't help the sarcasm.

"Ah, well, that would be because everyone thought you living alone in the very house where your parents were slaughtered had to be a trap until Weasley swore to me it wasn't. I questioned her, uh, personally. As for the rest, I'm here now, aren't I?" Draco turned and paced a few steps away, leaving his back to Harry in what the latter took to be an open invitation.

"I already know you're not going to kill me, not that you could now that I'm awake, so just get to the point."

"I was getting to the point when you interrupted me before." Draco turned, and his face has picked up some color along his cheekbones. "You don't seem much for doing what you're told, and recently I find myself closer to a position to avoid constraint myself."

"So, you want to defect." Harry's neck and shoulders relaxed. "You need to go to the Order for that. I was kicked out."

"You truly are dim. I don't want to work for that lot of muggle- lovers and Mudbloods." Draco laughed, tilting his head back.

Harry blushed with embarrassment and anger on his friends' behalf. "What the fuck do you want, then?"

"I want you to kill the Dark Lord, and then we can take his place." He said it like he asking after the weather, and Harry waited for the punch line. "Surely you've thought about it."

What Harry had or had not thought of on his worst nights, when all his ghosts visited and injustice and the futility of his entire life burned away everything else, wasn't exactly something he wanted to talk to Draco about. Even if he had had many one-sided conversations with him, pretending they were eating biscuits and drinking chocolate in the Hogwarts kitchens.

Harry looked at his white toes framed by the dirty floorboards. Draco went on. "Why do we have to keep fighting when we never asked to fight? When we never agreed to terms? Why should an accident of birth decide our deaths?"

Harry felt like he'd woken up in a different life, one where Draco Malfoy had become the external voice of his secret thoughts. The bed sank besides him, and he smelled Draco, lemon verbena and tea. He felt warm, damp lips on his neck and arms pulling him back, fingers picking off his glasses.

"I'm not agreeing to anything." Harry rolled over onto Draco, leaving flannel lint all over Draco's perfect, black wool robes.

Harry started on the buttons of Draco's tunic, and cool fingers caught his, stilling them. "Just the trousers. Remember last time." He pushed Harry's fingers down and leaned up, sliding his lips over Harry's chin, up to his mouth, and rolled them over, both their legs still hanging over the side.

Harry yanked at Draco's hair, pulling the ribbon from the nape of his neck and letting the fine, straight hair fall over both of their faces. He fell into Draco, into his mouth, into his hands, rubbing the scent of himself off and rubbing the crisp, lemony scent of Draco into his skin, onto his clothes, so he'd know if this was real when he woke up again and Draco was gone.

Abruptly, Draco shoved Harry off and stood. His outer robe hung half- way down his arms, and his trousers sagged open in front, his smallclothes peeking through. Harry was about to make a joke about green underpants.

"When I go back, they'll check my wand." Draco didn't move to rearrange his clothes of smooth his hair. His face, normally so pale, was livid, his pupils dilated, and Harry noticed lines under his eyes.

Harry understood. "Right, so I guess they can tell if you zapped a cat with a killing curse."

Draco still looked panicked, which Harry really did find rather comical. Harry stood up and walked passed Draco. He bent down on his knees and used his wand to poke under a bureau, finally dislodging his left shoe. The right he retrieved from the top drawer of the bureau. He slid them onto his feet and turned to look back over his shoulder at Draco.

"What are you doing?" Draco peered down at his trousers, waving his wand at the complex set of tiny buttons as the knit themselves together.

"Going to kill You Know Who as part of your crack-pot plan to take over the world." Harry finally let out a chuckle at Draco's black expression. Or maybe it was at the huge love-bite on the side of Draco's neck.

"In your pyjamas bedecked with roaring lions capering about across them?" Draco sounded bored and annoyed, and Harry figured that meant he'd got his fear under control.

"What worse humiliation could there be?" Harry left the bedroom and headed for the front door. He turned as he placed his hand on the knob. "If this is a trap, I'm killing you last."

"You could be tricking me." Draco cleaned the lint off the front of his robes with a quick scourgify, and they stepped outside.

"You're going to have to get divorced." Harry watched the sunlight his Draco's hair, and realized it wasn't uniform platinum at all, but a hundred different shades of white and yellow.

"I'd prefer to be a widower, so if there's a struggle later, look the other way." Draco turned his face to Harry, and his genuine smile, the one that lifted both corners of his mouth, was met by Harry's bright laughter.


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