Listeners (The Lessons Learned The Hard Way Remix)
by winter baby

Remix of Listeners by Rebecca Lizard.

There is a war going on and you're on opposite sides, but sometimes good and evil don't factor into these kinds of things. Sometimes, when the world outside is burning to the ground, it's all right to just stop and say, I want this.

When you were younger, you both sat in the same classroom, throwing dirty stares and insults at each other. Hermione used to say that if there were any more friction between you two, the whole school would burst into flames.

You suppose it really was inevitable then.


Trelawney is late again and no one is surprised by that. Everyone sits around talking, loosening their ties and eyeing the door once in a while with the hope that she won't show up at all. Out of boredom, Hermione teaches Ron how to play hangman. She draws on the chalkboard the severed head of a stick figure hanging by its neck and you find it morbid, but don't say anything. Cloud, she spells out because no one has guessed the right answer. You look out the window and see that the sky is empty.

Before Ron even reaches the board, you know that his word is going to be Muggles, because this is a Muggle game and Ron's mind always makes the simplest of word associations. You've already guessed the first two letters when Malfoy suddenly jumps up from his seat and scribbles Mudblood over Ron's writing, the d hanging off the end like a broken tail.

There's a sneer on his face that doesn't even falter when Ron slugs him. Malfoy hits the ground laughing, his eyes focused on yours as if the epithet were meant for you.

He rolls over in pain, still laughing and cradling his bruised cheek.

You don't help him up.


You were children back then, although at the time if anyone had called you that, you would have argued that children couldn't have faced Lord Voldemort the way you three did, time and time again.

Now you see that maybe children could, as long as they were brave, and smart, but mostly really lucky.

All that goes away when you grow older, especially the luck, as you found out when Ron's body was left on Dumbledore's doorstep last year. And you began to question the weight of intelligence when Hermione disappeared during her mission to infiltrate the Death Eaters two months after that.

She's dead. There's no body and there's no proof, but there is this feeling in the pit of your stomach which you can only call an intuition, a gut reaction.

It isn't supposed to end this way.

You're sitting on your couch, thinking of them and how you couldn't save either of them from any of it, when the doorbell rings. You open the door to find Malfoy standing there, wearing a hooded cloak over his robes. You let him in quickly, afraid that the neighbors might see.

Inside the safety of your flat, he drops his cloak to the ground, revealing his face fully. He stares at you with curious eyes, daring you to make the first move. Of course, you don't.

Instead you say, They'll kill you if they find you here.

He answers, I think we're entirely beyond that point, aren't we?

He moves to kiss you, and he still tastes like death, the way you remember.


Malfoy kisses you underneath the Hufflepuff bleachers out on the Quidditch field, pinning you up against a wooden support beam and tugging at your lips with his. He even kisses cruelly, pettily, taking from you what he wants. The two of you are surrounded by darkness, the heavy blue and white curtains letting in the barest amount of light.

Your brain mostly shuts down; soft lips -- boys' or girls' -- always do that to you, but the small part of your mind that still works tells you, This is the enemy. Watch yourself.

He pulls back, breaking the kiss and his eyes are shining with what might be hate and desire, but you really don't know when it comes to Malfoy.

Your turn, he dares you. Whether it's to hit him or to kiss him back, you can't tell. You don't move, because you don't know what you want to do.

Hitting him or kissing him -- both is equally tempting.

Malfoy's not at all surprised by your inaction. One last smirk and he darts out from the bleachers, gracefully maneuvering his way through the beams. The way he easily moves through the maze- like structure makes you think maybe he's been here before with other confused boys or girls, and you can't figure out why that thought bothers you. He disappears out into the sunlight, probably to proclaim to Crabbe and Goyle that Potter is a poof or something petty like that, but you doubt it. His eyes spoke of secrecy, of something meant for only you and him.

You lick your lips without thinking and his taste is still there.


That was the first and only time Malfoy ever kissed you while you were both at Hogwarts. Nothing really changed after that, except the blood rushing to your face when he insulted you wasn't from anger. And in the corridors he'd catch your gaze, eyes bright and intense, in what others mistook as a glare. Every time you shivered.

You sometimes found yourself passing by the Hufflepuff bleachers after Quidditch practice, when your teammates had already gone back to their dormitories. You didn't know what you were expecting or even hoping for, but you were disappointed nonetheless when nothing came of it.


The second time you kissed him, Hogwarts was but a dim memory of better times. By then, the school had already volunteered its remaining upperclassmen -- the ones who hadn't turned to the Death Eaters -- to fight in the war. You and Ron and Hermione were the first to join.

Sometimes you wonder if that were a mistake.

When Ron died, you fought harder. You shed blood and risked your life because Hermione was there with you to share in the grief and she needed you to be strong for her.

When she disappeared, you ran. It wasn't your proudest moment but it happened that way. You ran to London because you still had the mindset of when you were a boy and saw the Dursleys' world as the farthest thing from wizardry as possible.

Dumbledore came after you because you had a duty and he was right. This war was more yours than anyone else's.

Of course, at the time, you didn't see it that way. He tried to comfort you but you were inconsolable. He tried to guilt you but you were so self-absorbed in your grief you couldn't care about the rest of the world. He finally became angry, calling you a coward and is this how Ron and Hermione would want you to act? Is this what they sacrificed themselves for?

You never learn the lessons you ought to learn, Harry, he snapped at you. Only the ones that can't possibly matter in times like these.

You would have asked him what he meant if he hadn't been so angry with you. Now you think you might have an idea.


Even after rejoining the war, you still live in the London flat. Because during those months when Dumbledore couldn't get you out of bed, this is where Malfoy found you. This is where he kissed you, ran his hand over your body, helped you forget.

This is where he knows you, this is where you will remain.


Pale, pale skin. You wonder if he's even heard of the sun. Boys -- you shake your head -- men like him spend all their time in the shadows, devising plans on how to destroy you and your friends. You look over at him now, sleeping on his stomach, his head turned away from you, and it hurts to think that he may have had something to do with Ron's death or Hermione's disappearance.

You don't ask, though. You don't dare to. There's an implicit trust between the both of you that what you have is a secret, something the outside world doesn't touch.

Whatever trust means when it comes to Malfoy.

He stirs, the sharp angles of his shoulder blades shifting as he moves. Malfoy flips onto his back and looks up at you with drowsy yet hungry eyes. With one fluid movement, he's on top of you, pinning you down and biting at your lips.

You gasp for air and hiss, I hate you.

He only smiles. Another hard kiss and he says, Is that your best shot?

Any snide or clever remark you thought to spit at him is forgotten as he pushes into you, nails digging into your wrists and teeth bared. He's hard and smooth, rough and soft, all at the same time as he fucks you, screws you, makes love to you.

You arch your back to meet his body, staring up at the wall behind your bed. There's a small painting of a wheat field you don't remember buying or even hanging up, and the burnt yellow stalks sway in the wind. The sky is empty, clear blue, not a cloud in sight.

You bite down on his shoulder as you come. He screams out of pain or pleasure, you don't care which, and the two of you collapse like this, entwined at mouth and body.

Moments pass with him breathing next to you.

He sighs and rolls out of bed, pulling on his robes and cloak. When he reaches the front door, he looks at you over his shoulder. You close your eyes, not wanting to see his face.

Softly, he says, You disarm me.

It could be a spell, the way he says it. You open your eyes but he's already gone.


Your nightmares are always portents, but this dream is of something from the past that you barely remember.

In the middle of the wheat field, Malfoy is cradling his bruised cheek as he rolls in pain on the ground, laughing and laughing. The sky turns dark as storm clouds move in and you hold out your hand to help him up. He looks up at you, mouth drawn into a cruel smile, and shakes his head.

Your turn, he whispers and the sky opens. Sunlight pours down, drowning you both, and you're burning in the light.

You wake up.


It's a month before you see him again. He shows up on your front steps and like all the times before this, you let him in. You fuck like you're trying to kill each other and always he tastes like death.

Afterwards you pull on a pair of boxers and move towards the kitchen, telling him that you want eggs. He frowns at your odd behavior and demands, What's going on?

He senses it before you do and jumps out of bed, the covers slipping off his lean body. Malfoy screams desperately at you, What's the best way out of here? and you shake your head in refusal. Your front door bursts open as Dumbledore and others from the Order rush in, wands drawn and reciting every spell they can think of to bind Malfoy. He writhes and twists in the air as they lead him to the door.

Potter! he roars and his eyes are red with fury. You turn away as he screams, I'll kill you for this!

They pull him out into the street and his voice still echoes. Dumbledore stays behind and looks at you with sad eyes. There's no contempt, like you were afraid there would be, only weariness.

Always the wrong lessons, he says, almost to himself, and shakes his head as he shuts the door behind him.

Left alone to clean up the mess, you didn't realize that the eggs you had pulled out had cracked in your hand and run down your arm, that the picture of the wheat field had fallen off the wall during the struggle, that you had been crying the whole time and whispering, This is not love.

You didn't realize.

The sun drifts across the sky as day turns to night. The world grows cold.


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