Draco gripped the edge of the sink, shaking. He stared blindly at the grimy basin, now streaked with his tears, and heard in memory the taunting malice in the Dark Lord’s voice.
But the voice that crooned from the bathroom cubicle was sympathetic: “Don’t… Tell me what’s wrong… I can help you.” And since there wasn’t a living soul he could talk to about this, Draco told the maudlin girl ghost of a Mudblood.
“No one can help me. I can’t do it… I can’t … It won’t work… and unless I do it soon… he says he’ll kill me….”
He looked at his hollow eyed, ashen face in the mirror. And there behind it –
Draco spun around, wand out and cursing, because there was the last person he wanted to find him like this, Harry Potter. Then they were both firing hexes and jinxes, dodging, smashing lamps and bins and cisterns until the floor was flooded, but never managing to hit each other. Desperate, Draco seized on the most extreme curse he dared. “Cruci–”
But Potter beat him to it, hissed out some curse Draco had never heard before. And then Draco was falling, pain slicing all through him like knives, he was lying in water and blood was pouring out of him, he was cold, so cold, he clawed at his chest to try to hold his blood in. Someone was saying “No,” someone was wailing “Murder!” and his eyes went dim.
Draco stared at him. He felt leaden. He didn’t think he could move anything, not even his tongue. It must be the pain potions. He managed to shake his head slightly.
“You need to swallow more blood replenishing potion and get your rest. Other questions can wait,” Madame Pomfrey said firmly.
Draco slept, woke to be given potions and fed soup, slept again, time passing in a haze. One time he thought he saw Crabbe and Goyle in the doorway, and another time Pansy and Blaise, but he had no energy to talk with them. Often when he awoke he would see Snape sitting by his bedside, unspeaking. Once, when he was lying in a light daze, he heard Snape say under his breath, “Why that curse?” Draco cracked his eyes to see Snape holding his head in his hands. He closed his eyes again, but he was restless until the next dose of pain potion was given.
Don’t panic, he told himself. It’s just the effects of the healing potion. He pushed his fear down until it was just another layer of the dread he’d been living with all year.
Madame Pomfrey appeared in the doorway. “Good, you’re awake,” she said. “I don’t think you should try getting up for the bathroom yet, so I’ve brought these. It’s easy to Banish things afterwards.” She had a flannel, a towel, soapy water in a basin, and a bedpan. Draco’s face turned hot.
Her discretion and matter-of-fact manner helped somewhat to ease his humiliation. Somewhat. She left.
Not only Draco’s legs and feet were numb. His hand could feel his cock, but his cock couldn’t feel his hand.
Since he was alone, he let himself cry until he fell asleep again.
A little later he heard a noise and turned to see Potter in the doorway.
“Get out,” Draco hissed.
“Look, Malfoy, I’m - ”
“Get out before I call someone to throw you out,” Draco said, groping for his wand but not taking his eyes off Potter. His voice was shaking.
“I didn’t mean to - ”
“I don’t go down without a fight, Potter, now out!” Fury had finally helped Draco find his voice. “Madame Pomfrey! Professor Snape!”
“All right, take it easy, I’m going.”
And then Potter turned and left, and Draco could let out his breath and finally turn to look for his wand. It wasn’t there. How long had it been gone? He’d been too weak to try to do anything since the fight – could his wand have been gone that long? Surely he’d have known? And why had he been left unguarded with Potter on the loose?
When Professor Snape visited him later in the afternoon Draco confronted him. “Where is my wand? And why was Potter allowed in here? He could have tried to kill me again.”
“Is that what happened that day, Draco? Potter tried to kill you? I think we need to talk about that. We’ve been waiting until you were stronger, but perhaps we’ve waited too long. I’ll get the Headmaster. And Potter, who was supposed to return to his room after his detention,” Snape ended, grim-voiced.
Draco was left to think about how little he wanted to discuss the events of that day with Dumbledore or even Snape. How much had Potter heard – did he know what Draco was planning? Had he told Dumbledore that Draco was about to use an Unforgivable on him? Life imprisonment was supposed to be the sentence for use of Cruciatus – how could Draco have been so stupid? True, he would rejoin his father at last, but Azkaban wasn’t where Draco had hoped to have their reunion. And if that meant his mother was alone – Draco had no confidence that his Aunt Bellatrix would defend her against the Dark Lord’s displeasure.
He didn’t think the school had the authority to use Veritaserum on him.
Snape and Dumbledore arrived with Potter. “Draco, I’m glad to see you alert,” Dumbledore said calmly, then cast Muffliato so that their conversation would not be overheard, and addressed them all. “My office might be a better place for this discussion, but I’d rather not postpone it longer. I think it’s important to have a better understanding of what happened the day that Draco was injured in the bathroom. Draco, would you care to tell us about it?”
Draco forced himself to keep his eyes and voice level. “No.” Seeing Snape’s raised eyebrow, he added, “No, thank you, Headmaster.”
Dumbledore looked grave, Snape looked impassive, and Potter looked startled. Dumbledore turned to Potter. “We’ve waited to ask you more about this, Harry, until we could get Draco’s account also. But perhaps now you’d like to tell us what happened in the bathroom that day, before Professor Snape found the two of you there?”
Potter had been looking open-mouthed at Draco, but now he turned to the headmaster and said, “With all respect, sir, I’d prefer not to.”
Perhaps Potter wasn’t a complete idiot after all. Even if he was a hypocrite and would-be murderer.
Snape glared at Potter, but Dumbledore’s expression seemed merely thoughtful. “In that case, Harry, you will be confined to your room at present, except for meals. I will ask you both again tomorrow. Draco, I will send Madame Pomfrey in to see you. Professor Snape, if you would accompany me to my office. Harry, come along.”
After they were gone, Draco realized he still didn’t know what had happened to his wand. He asked Madame Pomfrey when she came in, and she said something about it being held for “safe-keeping”. He was irritated and ignored her request to try wiggling his toes. Still, he managed to eat something, and then he looked out the window and watched the stars come out until he fell asleep.
Draco couldn’t believe it. “I’m not staying in a room with him!”
“You will each have your own bedroom, I believe, with a bathroom attached,” Dumbledore said unperturbed. “The room will not permit any harm to come to you. It is capable of dampening harmful spells. It may decide to impose curfews, however, or limit visitors. It does what it thinks best, and its judgement is good. Meanwhile, Draco, you are to first visit St Mungo’s for evaluation. Your mother will be here to get you.”
Draco’s legs still weren’t co-operating. Professor Snape brought him downstairs to the castle door by Mobilicorpus, yet another humiliation. His mother was awaiting him downstairs; she seemed to have a difficult time looking at him. They took a carriage to the gates of Hogwarts, and then she used Side-Along Apparition to bring him to St Mungo’s.
At the hospital, the healer helped him into a wheeled chair before running a number of tests. Draco didn’t like sitting in the chair – it was something for old people, feeble people, people at the end of their lives, not him – he was young, it was his right to stand and walk and run….
“This chair will greatly increase your mobility,” the healer said. “You can even Apparate in it. Be sure to renew the Cushioning Charms often, to prevent pressure sores, since you’ll spend so much time in it.”
“You mean until the curse is better understood and its effects can be reversed?” Draco’s mother asked.
“No, the curse is not continuing to act upon the patient. It will not cause further damage, and his life is not threatened. But the major nerve damage that has already taken place is, at this point, irreparable.”
“What do you mean?” Draco asked, feeling cold.
“You should continue to regain strength, especially if you exercise your upper body, and you may be able to live a long healthy life, if you take certain precautions. However, a nerve at the base of your spinal cord has been permanently severed. As a result, you have lost feeling and control of your legs and parts of your lower body.”
“But I – but that can’t be. Snape stopped the bleeding, he healed the wounds….”
“Flesh, bones and blood vessels are more easily healed. Nerves are much more complex. In this case, the most productive thing for you would be physical therapy for rehabilitation and some emotional counseling.”
“I don’t need counseling, I need healers who know their jobs and can HEAL me.”
“We will send someone to help you with exercises to improve your upper body strength and training for independent living now that you are chair-bound.”
Chair-bound. Draco felt trapped. He couldn’t seem to catch his breath. He needed to get out, NOW.
“I’m leaving. These people are incompetent. Mother, let’s go.” His mother left the room with him, but when he demanded to go to the Manor, she demurred.
“The Manor is not the best place for you now, dear. There are… guests.”
Draco thought of Fenrir Greyback and shivered. What easy prey he would seem now.
“I think the school would be best for you. You’ll soon be better.”
“Mother – you heard what he said.”
“He said you could have a long and healthy life. My beautiful son.” She wouldn’t meet his eyes. “Let’s take you back to Hogwarts now. I know you don’t want to miss your studies.”
Where, though? Death Eaters at the Manor – maybe Greyback, maybe even the Dark Lord? And how was Draco to complete his task now? He and his family were doomed.
And meanwhile he was trapped in some stupid set of rooms with Harry fucking Potter.
The view out the window mocked him – air, light, freedom. He grabbed his wand and tried to spell a curtain across it. Nothing happened. Draco swore and the door swung open. Through the door he saw Potter, also sitting on his bed.
“Leave my door the hell closed, Potter,” Draco said, outraged.
“I didn’t – it wasn’t me who opened the door.”
“I don’t see anyone else around.”
“Must be the room. It does things. Are you – how are you, Malfoy?”
“You of all people dare to ask me how I am? Not dead yet, Potter. You’ll have to put off your celebration for awhile.”
“I wasn’t trying to kill you, Malfoy. I’ve been trying to tell you, I’m really sorry about what happened.”
“Colloportus.” The door stayed open.
“What the fuck is wrong with this room?”
“It has its own ideas, apparently. The doors come and go, spells don’t always work.” Potter got up and came to lean in the doorway between the rooms.
“How come I got stuck in here when you’re the one who sliced me open and left me to die?”
“I didn’t leave you. I didn’t know what to do, but I didn’t leave you.”
“When you’re the one who sliced me open and stood around to watch me bleed.”
“I never meant – and you hadn’t exactly been standing around innocent, you know.”
Draco turned abruptly and stared out the window.
“I can’t figure out why they don’t make us confess,” Potter said. “Dumbledore just asks ‘Do you want to tell us?’ and we say ‘no’, and he leaves it at that. It’s not as if he couldn’t make a pretty good guess.”
“He doesn’t want to know, then,” Draco said. “If he knew, he’d have to do something he doesn’t want to do.” Tell the Ministry, for example. Then it would be expulsion, or Azkaban. Draco was in no hurry to burden Dumbledore with unwanted knowledge.
“Hmm,” Potter said, as if he wouldn’t have expected that level of craftiness out of the old coot. “Hey, it must be almost dinner time. The outside door should open for that. Are you coming?”
“How am I supposed to get down there?”
“They didn’t tell you how to get around? Er – I could try a Mobilicorpus.”
“And have you bang me into the wall every few steps and drop me on the stairs? I think not. The house elves will bring something.”
“All right. See you later,” Potter said as he turned to go. As though that were something to look forward to.
“Who’s going to give me a massage here?” Draco asked. He didn’t fancy having Madame Pomfrey doing that, and he’d be embarrassed to be so helpless before his friends. Baines just shrugged.
Potter spoke up, because the damn room had kept the door to Potter’s side open, and he apparently had nothing better to do than eavesdrop. “I could help.”
Draco stared at him. The idiot therapist said, “Brilliant. Do you know anything about it?”
“No.” Of course not. “But I stay right here,” Potter continued. “And I was sort of, er, involved in the accident, so I’d like to help.”
“Excellent. Come over here and I’ll show you the basics.”
“No! He – I don’t want him to – Get away from me!” Draco said, pushing himself to the farthest corner of the bed.
“Oh come now, we mustn’t be so picky,” Baines said.
“Who’s ‘we’? It’s my body!”
Potter had stopped in his tracks. “Malfoy’s right – if he doesn’t want me to, I won’t do it.”
Draco stared at his unlikely ally and waited for his breathing to calm down.
“St Mungo’s is very busy. I need to be getting back soon,” Baines said pointedly.
Potter looked earnest. “Malfoy, I won’t touch you if you don’t want me to, but maybe you should try to think of someone he could train – your shoulders are up around your ears right now, and if you also need massage for circulation in your legs….”
Draco knew he needed help. And git though he was, Potter was plainspoken. He might be ferocious in a duel, but he didn’t actually seem the type to be sneaking gropes on defenceless people. And in any case, Draco was determined not to be a defenceless person.
“You can show him how to do my shoulders and arms,” he told Baines. “And my feet and calves. That’s all.”
“You can just tell us if you don’t like how – oh.” Potter frowned. “A mirror? Would it help if you had a mirror, so you could see where our hands were?”
Draco nodded stiffly. Once again, Potter was less clueless than this so-called therapist. Draco would ask his mother to have a word with St Mungo’s. They couldn’t treat a Malfoy like this. Or was it because he was a Malfoy that the man cared so little?
Potter had left and returned with a small mirror, maybe from his own bathroom. “Try lying on your stomach and we’ll stick it to the headboard, unless you want to hold it.”
“Try the headboard,” Draco said. Holding it might be awkward. “Can you make it bigger?”
Potter enlarged the mirror so that Draco could see if they touched his arse or legs. Higher up he’d be able to feel it himself.
“We’ll start with the shoulders, if you’ll unbutton the top of your robes,” Baines said. “Lie on your stomach again, if you don’t mind. Don’t crane your neck to look in the mirror, can’t you feel my hands on your shoulders?”
“Where are Potter’s hands?”
“Here – I’ll stand where you can see me,” Potter said, coming around to stand near Draco’s face and putting his hands on the sheet in front of him. Draco relaxed a little. Baines began to knead Draco’s shoulders, talking to Potter in a low voice. It did feel good. Draco closed his eyes.
“Malfoy?” It was Potter. “I’m going to put my hands on your shoulders, all right?” Draco nodded.
“This is me.” Potter’s hands were smaller and less skilled than Baines’, but warmer and drier. “All right?”
Draco nodded again. Potter stroked and kneaded, and gradually Draco felt the stiffness ease.
Baines and Potter moved on to his arms and hands, Baines taking his right side and Potter following along on his left. Draco’s robe had loose sleeves, and he’d taken to wearing nothing but boxer shorts underneath for ease in dressing, so it was easy for them to push the sleeves up to his shoulder.
Draco used his arms more these days, to support him in getting in and out of the chair and bed, and the attention to them felt good. He happened to be facing left, and stole an occasional look at Potter’s face. Potter’s brow was furrowed in concentration. It was novel to have that determination being exercised on his behalf, for once.
“All right, now we move on to the feet and calves,” Baines said. “These muscles aren’t being used, so it’s particularly important to maintain the circulation here. We have to use a much lighter touch to avoid damage, because the patient can’t tell us if we’re being too rough.”
Draco shifted his gaze to the mirror. Potter was still on the left and Baines on the right, and Baines was talking him through various points on the foot. Draco couldn’t feel anything, and after watching for a while his attention wandered. Then he heard Potter’s voice raised.
“No, we have to ask him. Malfoy, we finished your calves. Healer Baines says we should work on your thighs. It’s up to you.”
Well, hell – he might as well get it done while Baines was here. He could always say no the next time.
“All right, but I’m watching you. No grabbing my arse, Potter. Remember I know where you live.”
Potter snorted. “Your royal Malfoy arse is safe with me.”
Draco rested his head on his crossed arms and watched in the mirror. His robes were bunched up over his upper thighs. His legs looked too thin – he’d lost muscle from not using them. Baines was still instructing, although a lot of it seemed to be a matter of observation and imitation at this point. Potter still looked serious, as if he were trying to absorb all this, as if he actually cared about learning it. Potter’s tanned hands looked dark against the pale skin of Draco’s thighs. It was so strange that Potter was touching him there. So strange that anyone was touching him there, and his leg didn’t feel a thing.
They didn’t go under his robes, he watched. Finally they finished with his upper thighs, and it was Potter who drew the robes back down over his legs. Potter straightened up and shook his hands out from the wrists, as if he was trying to shake water off them.
“Well, that’s all I have time for,” Baines said. “You get the general idea. I have to get back to St Mungo’s. Here’s a pamphlet with some tips on using your chair, I’ll just leave it on the table. You should be able to carry on from here.”
Wait, Draco thought as he rolled over and scrambled to sit up. That can’t be all. What do I – how do I – He couldn’t even formulate the questions for all the things he didn’t know how to cope with. But Baines was already leaving.
“That was interesting,” Potter said, looking after Baines with a small frown. “Seems like there should be more, though. I mean, I don’t exactly feel qualified to do this yet.”
“You were no worse than he was,” Draco said. At least Potter had listened to him. “Didn’t know you aspired to be a massage therapist, Potter.”
Potter shrugged. “I’m going to dinner.”
“Potter! POTTER!” he yelled, but got no response. It was still difficult for him to transfer into his chair and get up, so he called out again.
Finally Potter appeared in the doorway between their rooms. He looked a mess. “What?”
“You were screaming.”
Draco frowned. “Come here. Come HERE, Potter, I can’t get up.”
“What do you need to get up for? Go to sleep,” Potter said, approaching nonetheless.
“I can’t sleep with you screaming. Sit down on the bed. SIT.”
Potter sighed - as if it were Draco who was being annoying - but sat. “What, Malfoy?”
“What’s going on with your scar?” Draco asked. “It’s practically glowing red. Is it bleeding?”
“No. It burns sometimes.”
Still frowning, Draco reached for the bedside table, pulled a clean handkerchief from a drawer, wet it with water from a glass at the bedside, and pressed it to Potter’s scar. There was a sizzle and hiss of steam.
Draco pulled the handkerchief away and looked at it. Across the damp cloth was a dry zigzag where the scar’s heat had evaporated the water. “Damn,” he muttered. “What were you dreaming about?”
“I don’t want to discuss it.”
“Fine. Try not to dream about it again, though. Silencing charms and Muffliato don’t seem to work in these rooms.”
Potter rolled his eyes and headed back toward his room – but the door had vanished. He groaned. “Damn room, my door’s gone.”
“Well, go out the other – oh. That’s gone too. Alohomora,” Draco tried, not very hopefully. Nothing happened. He sighed, disgusted. “Get in then.”
“Just get in,” Draco said in a voice of resignation, pulling back the covers on his bed. “It’s late, I need to sleep, you need to sleep, it’s cold and I don’t have the patience to wait for this room to stop fooling around. Or for you to fumble about trying to Transfigure something into a bed. Just don’t touch me.”
“Oh, as if I want to touch you,” Potter grumbled, climbing into the far side of the large bed. There was no night table on his side. He took off his glasses and handed them to Draco. “Put those somewhere safe.”
Draco took them. Without the scratched, smudged lenses, Potter’s eyes were bigger and a vivid green; the line of his eyebrows was strong without the frames in the way. “What do you know – you look better with your glasses off, Potter. Not that that’s saying much.”
“You look better with my glasses off, too,” Potter answered rudely, “I can’t see your face.”
Draco snorted. He cast a Shield Charm between him and Potter just as a precaution, then cast Nox.
It should have been harder to sleep with Potter there, but somehow it wasn’t. The bed was warm. After a few disgruntled murmurs, Potter was quiet, and eventually Draco heard his breathing become slow and even in sleep. Draco stretched, settled, and drifted into sleep himself, not waking until sun streamed through the windows.
Greg came by, alone.
“Where’s Crabbe?” Draco asked. Greg looked uncomfortable.
“What’s he doing with…” Draco began, annoyed, but stopped because Greg was looking so distressed. “Never mind. It’s good you’re here.”
Greg looked happy again. They never talked much. Greg offered to arm-wrestle. Draco remembered that he was supposed to build up arm strength. “Just hold your arm up,” he said, and pushed against it for as long as he could, getting nowhere. “Now you can push.” Greg easily bent his arm to the table.
People came by to see Potter, and sometimes they ended up at Draco’s door instead, one of the room’s quirks. Weasley came once when Potter was out, and hung about at loose ends long enough for Draco to use him to practice arm wrestling. Weasley was happy to beat him and never guessed he was being used. Ginevra Weasley came once or twice, supposedly to ask Potter about Quidditch strategy; she and Draco exchanged cool nods.
Granger said the castle needed to improve its accessibility for the disabled, which he couldn’t disagree with, though he did tell her not to make any badges on his behalf. She produced a Glisseo charm that shot him downstairs so fast he only saved himself by means of a quick Cushioning Charm. “What was that, Granger, the revenge of the Mud-”
Her eyes took on a martial glint, and he amended, “-gle-borns?”
“Revenge of the Mudgleborns, Malfoy? It would serve you right if it were,” she said. “This castle needs lifts, like the Ministry has.” But the castle had a hundred and forty-two staircases.
It took Draco a long time to work out a way to embed Hover Charms into the chair so that he could climb the stairs, and longer still to modify them so that he wasn’t jolted at each step.
Potter suggested he talk to Mr Weasley about it.
Potter said, “He knows about flying cars and motorcycles, he might have some ideas for the chair.”
“Right, as though Mr Weasley would ever do anything to help me.”
“He might, if you didn’t insult his family all the time.”
“He attacked my father with his fists in Flourish and Blotts.”
“Look, Malfoy, I inherited a feud from my father and I didn’t even know about it. I know it’s not easy to end something like that, but…”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I’m saying you don’t have to try to be your dad.”
“Go away, Potter.” He did.
“You got massages from house-elves?” Potter asked as he slid his hands under Draco’s robes.
“No! But they’re around a lot, in the rooms.”
“To be ignored, abused or ordered around. I’m familiar with the concept. You have a lot in common with the Dursleys, Malfoy.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Twinky.”
“I’m talking about my Muggle relatives. And if I were a house-elf, I’d be Dobby.”
“I still can’t believe you stole my family’s house-elf.”
“I didn’t steal him. He left because your family mistreated him.”
“He was a house-elf.”
“And he didn’t like how you treated him.”
“House-elves don’t care how you treat them.”
“I’m pretty sure you’ve backed yourself into a corner there, logic-wise, Malfoy.”
Draco was silent a moment. “And I suppose all the house-elves love you, Potter? Including Kreacher?”
“How do you –? I keep forgetting. Your mother is a Black.”
Neither said anything for a while. Potter kept working on Draco’s right shoulder.
“A little to the left,” Draco said.
“Up a little… there.”
“Did you understand what Slughorn was saying in potions class today?” Potter asked.
“What happened to Potter the Potions whiz? Lose your cheat sheet?”
“Mmm.” Something complicated and painful flickered on Potter’s face.
Harassing Potter was less interesting when he didn’t fight back, so Draco decided to shame him instead with a show of his superior knowledge, and they worked on their homework together for a while.
A first-year Hufflepuff girl scurried around a corner toward them. Greg hit her with a Jelly-Legs Jinx. She wobbled on her feet and fell over. Her legs flopped uselessly as she tried to get up.
It was disturbing.
Greg guffawed and Draco looked sharply at him. But Greg was looking hopefully at Draco.
He’s trying to cheer me up, Draco realised. “Not funny,” he explained, and flicked the counter-jinx at her.
“Oh,” Greg said, and shrugged.
Longbottom had appeared from somewhere and was staring at them. “Problem, Longbottom?” Draco asked frostily. Longbottom shook his head.
“You must have had some idea,” Draco said. “I notice you didn’t randomly choose a spell that showered me with buttercups. Just what did you know about it?”
Potter mumbled something.
“What was that?”
“It said ‘For enemies.’”
And why should that hurt – Draco had been trying to prove himself Potter’s enemy for six years now. Hell hath no fury like a Malfoy scorned. “All’s fair in war and Quidditch, is that it?” he said stiffly.
“No!” Potter said. “I wouldn’t have used it if I’d known - ”
“Known you’d get stuck in this room with me.”
“Known it would do that.” Potter gestured to Draco’s legs. He ducked his head and mumbled, “Known you.”
Potter raised his head again. “But you know I only did it because you cast the Cruciatus Curse at me.”
“Did not,” Draco said automatically.
“Come on Malfoy, I heard you.”
“Nothing happened to you, so clearly I didn’t hit you with anything.”
“No, but I heard you say ‘Cruci-’, and what other spell begins with that?”
Draco considered for a minute. Finally he responded, “Cruciferus.”
“What? What kind of spell is that?”
“Turns your head into a vegetable. Of the cabbage family, usually. In your case, perhaps a Brussels sprout.”
“You – what a liar you are, Malfoy.” Draco could tell that Potter was impressed despite himself.
“Broccoli. Cauliflower.” Draco was beginning to enjoy himself. “Radish, like Looney’s earrings.”
Potter was laughing.
“Watercress yourself,” Potter said. He left still laughing.
Someone was screaming in pain. It was his mother. He looked up – the cabinet reached high above him, as though he were at the bottom of a well. He had to get to the top. There was a ladder built into the side, but his legs didn’t work. He tried to haul himself up by his arms. His mother was screaming again. His arms gave way and he slid down.
The Dark Lord’s face appeared at the top. “You failed, Malfoy,” the Dark Lord said. “Crucio.”
Draco’s body was thrown by the force of the spell and he screamed. He was shaking. It happened again. Again.
Someone was shaking him.
“Malfoy, wake up, it’s all right.”
It was Potter, in pyjamas, standing over him.
“You were having a bad dream.”
Potter turned to go, but somehow Draco’s hand shot out and caught his. Potter looked at his hand. He didn’t say anything, but handed Draco his glasses and got into the bed on the other side. He turned his face to the wall and soon Draco could hear that he was asleep. Draco fell asleep. Potter was gone when he awoke.
It was Potter. “Potter!” Draco yelled. Only another scream in response.
Draco cast Lumos, dragged himself into his wheelchair, and opened the door to Potter’s room. “Potter!”
He was thrashing on his bed, lost in a nightmare. Draco rolled up and caught Potter’s hand. “Potter! Wake up. It’s just a dream. You’re all right, stop screaming.”
Potter woke with a start, his chest heaving. He stared at Draco for a moment, then said, “He kills people’s parents. How can you believe in him, Malfoy? Voldemort kills people’s parents!”
“I know he does!” Draco shouted back.
There was a frozen silence, and then Potter reached for his glasses, never taking his eyes off Draco. Draco turned away.
“Malfoy – that day in the bathroom – why were you crying?”
“I wasn’t crying.”
“Fine, you were washing your face – what were you upset about?”
Draco tried to back up his chair but Potter put a hand on the armrest.
“Is he threatening your family? What is he trying to make you do?”
Draco broke away and rolled toward the door.
“Talk to Dumbledore, he can help you,” Potter said.
Draco gave him an incredulous look and a bitter laugh.
Potter looked back, eyes serious. “Talk to Dumbledore.”
One evening Potter came in cheerful from a trip to Hogsmeade. Draco hadn’t gone, as the chair was still difficult to manoeuvre, though getting easier.
“I got a new kind of massage oil, want to try it? Got time now?”
“Sure,” Draco said, and wheeled over to the bed. He spread a spare sheet over it, wrestled his robe off, and lay down on his front in his silk boxer shorts. Since they had started using massage oil, he’d been removing his robe to avoid staining. It made it easier for Potter to reach his back, also. Potter had given him no reason to distrust him during the massages, so Draco had relaxed considerably about them.
The new oil had a pleasant scent as Potter rubbed it over his hands to warm it. When Potter’s hands touched his shoulders, Draco was startled. There was a warm delicious tingle to his touch. Draco caught his breath.
“Something wrong?” Potter said.
“No, no, it’s good.” Really good.
The pleasure spread wherever Potter’s hands touched his skin. When Potter worked below his waist, Draco imagined he felt a ghostly sensation there also, a fleeting connection. He lay in a happy haze until he felt a warm palm on his back.
“Ready to turn over?”
Draco rolled over with a lazy sunny smile that startled an open smile out of Potter in return. As Potter stroked his feet, shins and thighs, Draco found himself looking fondly at the mess of black hair on his head. But then Potter moved to his torso, where Draco could feel again, oh how he could feel – around his navel, across his nipples, Merlin did Potter have no idea what he was doing to him? Potter noticed something – maybe Draco’s quickened breathing – because he asked again, “All right there?”
More than all right, but then was it all right to have the impulse to kiss Harry Potter?
“Potter – where did you get this stuff? What did you ask for, exactly?”
“Just massage oil, something that would feel really good.”
“And did they wink at you and giggle?”
“They did, kind of, it was a bit odd. Why?”
Draco just laughed softly and stifled an impulse to say, ‘Have your way with me, Harry of the Magic Hands.’
By the time Potter was finished, Draco was feeling so turned on and generous that he was determined to reciprocate. “Come on, Potter, your turn.”
“This stuff is really nice, and you deserve to be on the receiving end. One gives massages with the arms and hands, right? And mine work fine. Go on, take your robe off.”
Potter looked startled.
“Scared, Potter?” No answer. “Come on, that’s your cue to say ‘you wish.’”
Potter laughed at that and took off his clothes, blushing a bit, until he lay down on his stomach in just his shorts. Draco spread the oil on his fingers, getting a bit too much on – it dripped – then started to smooth it over Potter’s back. He didn’t really know what he was doing, but he was relaxed and trusted that the oil would feel good, so he just enjoyed letting his hands roam over Potter’s skin, rubbing and stroking whatever he could reach as he lay propped on his side, then getting into the chair to wheel around the foot of the bed and work on Potter’s feet and calves. After that, he rolled to the side of the bed to massage the back of Potter’s thighs. After some light, lingering strokes to the inner thigh – the skin was so soft there - he said “Roll over.”
Potter clutched the sheets and didn’t budge.
“Oh come on, I know I don’t have your skills but it couldn’t be that bad. Just turn over.”
Potter made a strangled sound. Draco shoved him. “Come on, I need space on the bed to do your front.” He started to lever himself out of the chair onto the bed, and Potter finally rolled over to give him room.
When Draco was settled and looked over, Potter’s cheeks were flaming and his face had a mixture of fear and defiance that was totally characteristic but, just now, unexpected. What’s wrong? Draco wondered.
Then he saw the bulge in Potter’s shorts, which seemed to grow as he looked at it. Potter was trembling.
“It’s the oil,” Draco told him. “It’s a – not a love potion, but a lust lotion, or something. I felt it too. I know it doesn’t mean – I won’t tell anyone, it’s all right.”
Potter just looked at him, eyes huge, face so close and vivid.
Draco couldn’t help it, his hand reached out toward the tent in Potter’s pants like it was a fire he could warm himself at on a cold night. He stopped a couple of inches away, sure he could feel the heat radiating toward him, sure he could see it rise even more under his gaze.
He swallowed. “Look, I wouldn’t expect – but everything’s hell out there – maybe we could just - let ourselves have this? This once?”
Potter said nothing, just looked and trembled.
“You can stop me, right? You know you can stop me.”
Potter gave the slightest of nods.
Draco tugged lightly at the waistband of Potter’s shorts and Potter lifted his hips just slightly, so Draco could ease them down. Potter pushed at them suddenly, and kicked them off, and lay there naked and panting. Draco stared at his cock.
It was an average cock, maybe, not particularly huge or heroic. But it was Harry Potter’s cock, and it was getting hard, and it was getting hard for him.
Draco reached out a finger and stroked it.
“Too much,” Potter gasped.
Too much? Not ‘No’ but ‘too much.’ I barely touched it, Draco thought. “This lotion is too much?”
“I’ll wipe it off.” Draco went to wipe his hand on the sheet, and then thought better of it. He traced a circle around Potter’s navel, then smoothed his hand up Potter’s chest and rubbed and stroked across his nipples. Potter’s mouth had fallen open and the look in his eyes was acting on Draco like a drug. Potter turned toward him slightly. There was the slightest bit of oil still on Draco’s hand. He reached around and cupped the warm roundness of Potter’s arse, rubbing his hand against it.
“All right,” Draco said, but his voice came out rough. He hesitated, and then Potter grabbed his hand and drew it to his cock and he had Harry Potter’s cock in his hand, hot and silky and growing stiff, and he was hungry for this, he hadn’t known how hungry for this.
Draco began to move his hand in the way he remembered liking on himself. It was strange to hold someone else’s cock and feel nothing in his own. But he could concentrate on Potter and he did, watching his eyelids quiver and his mouth curve, listening for small sounds and quickening breath, inhaling him, tracking Potter’s pleasure.
Then with a surprised cry Potter came, and Draco’s hand was slippery with his come, and he thought It’s over and wondered if he’d ever get to see that look on Potter’s face again.
He shut his eyes because they were suddenly stinging. Then Draco felt a warm arm around him and an open kiss pressed to his neck. He opened his eyes to see Harry – Potter – Harry smiling at him, as he scrambled off the bed, still blushing, and scooped up his clothes. So, he was going to bolt for his room. But first he turned back and gave Draco’s hand a squeeze. It was the wet sticky hand, and Harry looked startled at his own come now on his hand, then laughed a bit incredulously and wiped it on his thigh.
They might be all right, then. Draco grinned foolishly at Potter – Harry – who grinned as foolishly back, ducked his head, said “See you,” and disappeared into his own room.
Draco wrapped himself up in the sheet stained with lust lotion and looked out the window at the crescent moon until he fell asleep.
But on Friday Potter said, “No classes tomorrow. Do you want to use the – er – stuff tonight?” and Draco had quickly agreed. This time they were both more relaxed, and rolled around on the bed together finding where each other most liked to be touched. Draco discovered the joys of having his earlobes massaged, and he got Harry to come with a hand-job again. But Harry still went back to his bed afterwards.
The third time they applied the lust lotion so liberally that when they went to use it the fourth time it was gone. “Never mind,” Draco said, “I don’t think we need it. Besides, it doesn’t taste very good, which is really stupid in a lust lotion.”
Harry blushed and laughed. “Now you,” Draco discovered, “you taste really good.”
But it wasn’t.
He hadn’t done a thing about repairing the Vanishing Cabinet, or any other scheme for fulfilling Voldemort’s demand, since the Sectumsempra. All his ingenuity for fixing things had gone into navigating the new difficulties in his daily life, like finding ways to make his chair more mobile so that he could get around the castle. Now, though, he was able to glide to the top of the Astronomy Tower. He had to think about his family, so he went to look at the night sky.
His own constellation, Draco, snaked around near the North Star - not bright, but there to be seen in any season. The bright star was Sirius, his mother’s cousin, shining out of Canis Major. Sirius, the hot shot with the flying motorcycle – he’d heard stories from Harry, who seemed to have adored him. No stories from his own family, just a burn mark on the tapestry of the Black family tree.
Regulus, his mother’s other cousin, was a star in Leo – a strange constellation for a Slytherin, but then he was a mystery. When Draco had been made Seeker on the Quidditch team, his mother had smiled and said “Like Regulus,” then stopped at his father’s frown. When Draco asked, his father said that Regulus had displeased the Dark Lord – and that was all.
His mother’s sisters were his only living relatives with counterparts in the sky. Bellatrix was in Orion, the Hunter – too close to Sirius for his own good. She must have taken particular pleasure in killing her own cousin for the Dark Lord. It was a chance to prove her fanatic loyalty.
Not much time left.
Andromeda, like Draco, was a constellation in her own right. She had made good her escape, linked up with Pegasus, the flying horse. Only a few of her stars were visible yet above the horizon. If he waited, she would wheel more fully into view.
Draco was jolted from his thoughts by the sight of two figures flying right towards him. Who would be flying up here at night? He drew his wand. Moments later, two brooms landed on the tower – it was Harry and Dumbledore. In the dimness, they didn’t notice him.
Harry bent over the headmaster, who was telling him in a faint voice to go find Snape and bring him there. Harry ran down the stairs and disappeared.
Draco let out the breath he had been holding. “Who’s there?” Dumbledore said. “Ah – good evening, Draco.”
“I need to talk with you,” Draco said.
“I’m a bit – tired – but perhaps it’s as well we don’t wait. Go ahead, then,” Dumbledore said. He looked like he could barely stand, what was wrong with him? Even his eyes were falling shut.
Still, he was an extremely powerful wizard, and Draco was suddenly terrified of what he would have to say next. “Expelliarmus,” Draco whispered, and was stunned when the spell worked. Dumbledore’s wand sailed into his hand. He stared at it.
“Impressive,” Dumbledore murmured. “There was something you wished to say?”
“I’m supposed to kill you,” Draco said. “The Dark Lord ordered me to. I had a plan. It might have worked, but…” He gestured at his wheelchair
“Yes. You seem to have found another means, though.”
Draco stared at him.
“You are holding my wand. You might, if you wished, kill me with that.”
Draco supposed that was true. Avada Kedavra, kill his headmaster. Get out of Hogwarts somehow, get to the Manor. See his mother. Be a celebrated Death-Eater. Hope that he never had to face Harry again.
“I don’t want to,” Draco said. “But he’s threatening my family.”
“We can hide you and your mother. Your father is safe in Azkaban. You do not need to kill anyone, Draco.”
“You will see that my family is protected?”
“You have my word.”
Relief washed over him and he shut his eyes. When he opened them, Dumbledore had slid further down the wall. “Sir?” Draco said, wheeling closer. Dumbledore’s wand made him vaguely nervous, and he handed it back. “Your wand, sir. Are you all right?”
“Severus - will be here - soon. He will help….”
There was a clattering on the stairs, and Harry and Snape burst through the doorway.
“Albus!” Snape exclaimed. “What have you done?”
“Merely – hastened the process. If you could give me your arm… Pardon us, Draco, Harry.” Snape helped Dumbledore down the stairs.
Harry looked after them, and then turned back. “Draco?”
“Harry, what have you been doing? Are you all right? You look…” Draco had no words for how Harry looked, some mixture of exhilarated and agonized and exhausted.
“It was horrible, but we got – we did something important. But Dumbledore seems really sick. What were you doing up here?”
“What you said I should. Talking to him.”
“Did it help?”
“Yes.” The deep relief returned.
“Good,” Harry said. “And before that?”
“Looking at the stars, what else.”
“We’ll be looking at the sunrise if we don’t get to bed.”
Too tired for more talk, they returned to their rooms, slid together into Draco’s bed, and fell asleep in each other’s arms.
At the end, when he was very weak and in great pain, Dumbledore asked Snape for a “mercy killing”. Dumbledore had wanted Harry there, so that Harry did not blame Snape, and Harry had wanted Draco there. Draco remembered the vow his own mother had insisted on – if Snape did not kill Dumbledore now, Snape too would die. Draco shivered.
“No one lives forever,” Dumbledore said. “Harry – remember your greatest power. Severus – my friend – please.”
“Albus,” Snape said with pain in his voice, and clasped Dumbledore’s hands in his. Then he placed the tip of his wand at Dumbledore’s chest, and with a look of bitter grief whispered, “Avada Kedavra.”
Harry shook, Draco felt strangely lost, and the phoenix began to sing.
“Malfoy?” she said. “It is a French name?”
“Yes, although the Malfoys have been in England a long time. But my great grandmother was French, Aurore Chevalier; her son was my grandfather, Abraxas.”
“Ah!” Understanding shone in her eyes. “Did you ride, then? Or do you drive?”
“Neither, although I’d love to learn to drive. My grandfather died young, and my father never learned. Your team is magnificent.”
“Thank you, I am quite proud of them, I admit. They are bred for power. Come visit me in France, and perhaps we can teach you. It would be an honor to instruct the descendant of Aurore Chevalier.”
“Thank you, Madame,” Draco said gravely. “I would deeply appreciate that opportunity.”
“What was all that about? Was your great-grandmother really a French Auror?” Harry asked later.
“No, she was named for Aurora, the goddess of the Dawn. Abraxas was also the name of one of the Winged Horses of the Dawn. He helped pull her chariot, and the chariot of Helios, the Greek god of the sun. Those great winged palominos that pull Mme Maxime’s carriage are called Abraxans. My great-grandmother’s family bred some famous ones.”
He only half-heard Harry’s reply. Draco had his mind on flying horses.
Dumbledore had informed his Order that Draco and his family were to be protected, so after the funeral arrangements were made to hide them both. Snape told Voldemort that the Order had learned of Draco’s intention to kill Dumbledore, and that they had lured Narcissa to Hogwarts on the pretence that Draco was ill, then killed both of them in revenge.
At Hogwarts, students and staff were told that Draco had died suddenly of complications from his injury, and that his mother had insisted on a private funeral at the Manor. It was strange to think that his friends in Slytherin would believe him dead, but he couldn’t afford to let it be known he was alive, if he wanted to stay that way.
Draco was taken secretly to Grimmauld Place while they tried to decide what to do. He met his cousin Nymphadora for the first time. She was so utterly unlike either his mother or aunt Bellatrix that he wondered what her mother could be like.
Draco saw his mother, briefly, before she was taken to a safe house. “You’re safe? My beautiful boy,” she said, but she still couldn’t look him in the eyes.
He had declined to go with her. He knew his mother loved him, and had risked a great deal to protect him. But she also loved elegance and grace, and the sight of him now seemed to pain her. If he was to be a disappointment to both his parents… There was no point forcing his presence upon her. Besides, he couldn’t bear the thought of being hidden away in a house while the war went on outside, and the Dark Lord hunted Harry.
Harry was at Grimmauld Place, but off talking with Ron and Hermione much of the time. For some reason he wanted to know who RAB was, and Draco did help him figure that out. That wasn’t difficult – Draco wasn’t likely to forget Regulus Black, who displeased the Dark Lord and disappeared. But most of the time Harry wasn’t confiding in him. Draco tried not to let on that it bothered him, but finally he couldn’t help asking.
“I’m sorry, Draco, but there’s stuff I can’t really tell anyone. Except Ron and Hermione, well, they’ve been through everything with me from the beginning….”
While I was being your enemy, Draco thought. And now the price comes due.
“You’re planning something. Are you going away somewhere this summer?”
Harry was silent.
“Longer than that? You’re going off on some secret dangerous mission. You have to tell me something, Harry. Harry – look at me. I want to come with you. I want to help.”
“No, Draco, it wouldn’t be safe for you.”
“It’s not safe for you, either, is it? You think I want to sit around while you’re off risking your neck?”
“Draco – it’s not that I want to leave you behind. But he’d try to use you to get at me, like he threatened your parents to get at you. If anything happened to you, I’d never forgive myself.”
“Damn it, Harry, I’m not helpless. I’m not fragile. I could help you.”
But Harry just looked anguished and shook his head.
With effort, Draco stopped himself. He pressed his eyes shut. He couldn’t prove that he wasn’t a burden by demanding to go when Harry didn’t want him along. Draco didn’t want the history of his injury to bind Harry to him, like a Room of Parole with no exit. If they were ever to have a future together, Harry had to be able to choose it freely.
Draco looked at Harry for a long moment. “Don’t leave without saying goodbye.”
That day Draco began work on a pair of coins linked by a Protean Charm. He gave one to Harry. “I’m not going to pester you – but if you ever need to reach me – you know how to use this.” Draco bored a hole in his own and wore it on a string under his shirt, where he would feel it heat up if Harry ever wrote on his own copy.
Grimmauld Place was a depressing house to be in, and not just because it was dusty and dilapidated. Bitterness seemed to leak from the walls of the most noble and ancient house of Black.
He could tell that Harry was restless. They would probably be gone soon. Granger was continually poring over books in the library; she declined his help with research, but she was polite about it. He tried to distract his great-aunt from shrieking at her in the hallway.
One evening, when Weasley had gone to visit his family and Granger had gone to bed early with a pile of books, Harry came to stand beside Draco at the window. There was no moon, and the city was a bad place for seeing stars. “In Wiltshire you might see glow-worms now,” Draco said.
Harry laid a light hand on Draco’s shoulder. “We haven’t had a massage for a long time,” Harry said quietly. “Must be past due for one. Or do you want to take a bath?”
Draco thought with a little ache of their midnight expeditions to the Prefects’ Bath, where he could float and swim and move with ease. They’d laughed and wrestled and spun together in the water like otters. Harry was always relaxed afterwards, and willing to let Draco touch and tongue him all over.
Now they went to the bathroom down the hall from Draco’s room. No splendid swimming pool of a tub, but room for them to lie together, cradled by warm water. Then they went back to Draco’s bed and kissed, and Draco began to make love to Harry in every way his hands and mouth and mind could find.
Afterwards they lay in each other’s arms while Harry stroked him lightly. “You’re amazing,” Harry murmured. “I just wish you could feel what I do.”
“What I feel is amazing too.”
“Yeah, but – are you sure there isn’t some spell we’ve been overlooking? Mobilicock or something? Erectoprick?
Draco laughed and reached for his wand. “Leviphallus,” he intoned, swooping his wand upward.
He dropped his wand in shock, because he had an erection.
This wasn’t the first erection he’d had since the day of the curse. Sometimes he would get random muscle spasms in his legs or his cock. An erect cock didn’t mean he could feel it.
But Harry didn’t know that, apparently, and was looking awestruck. “Draco,” he whispered, his hand hovering above Draco’s cock, and then he stroked it slowly. Draco knew he stroked it, because he could see him. Harry turned a hopeful face to him. Duro, Draco thought – would the spell for making things hard work to keep this up?
Harry bent, now, to take Draco into his mouth. Draco knew the feel of that warm wet mouth sucking his fingers, sucking his earlobes, and tried to imagine he could feel it now. Harry’s warm hands on his sides were still in his range of feeling. Draco reached his own hands out to touch the wild softness of Harry’s black hair and feel the rhythm of Harry’s head as he moved up and down. The sight of Harry’s mouth around his cock, the look of tender absorption on Harry’s face, were doing something queer to Draco’s heart.
“Come up here and kiss me,” he said. Harry surged up his body, wrapped his arms around Draco and kissed him passionately. Draco kissed him back, feeling his own desire fizzing through his veins. When Harry pulled away for air, his green eyes were dark with wanting.
“I’m loose, Draco, I’m ready.” Harry pulled Draco’s hand to his arse, pressed Draco’s finger against his opening, already relaxed from their previous love-making. Draco slid a finger in easily and felt for Harry’s prostate. Harry gasped. “I could – I could - ”
“Ride me,” Draco said, his heart in his mouth.
Harry took some plain massage oil and stroked it over Draco’s cock. He knelt over Draco, straddling him, and kissed him again deeply. Then he grasped Draco’s cock, poised himself above it, and began to lower himself.
Draco’s breath caught. “Breathe,” he said, for both of them.
Harry laughed a little, which seemed to relax him enough to let the tip of Draco’s cock in. He gasped then, and clutched Draco’s bicep with one hand.
“As slow as you need,” Draco said, holding his eyes.
“What I need is you. In me.” And Harry sank down further while Draco watched, something he never thought he’d see. Harry began to move over him, panting lightly, his dark hair tumbling about his face.
Draco cupped Harry’s arse in his hands. It was warm and round, and grounded him. Harry was shifting around a little now, experimenting with positions. Finally he seemed to find the angle he was looking for, and the rhythm. He began to ride with abandon, faster and faster with little cries that made Draco’s heart speed up.
Draco could smell Harry’s arousal and, when Harry leaned close, feel the tip of his hot cock against Draco’s stomach. Could he touch it now, or would Harry come too soon? But Harry was leaning in to kiss him, pressing close against Draco, so Draco wrapped his arms around him, opened his mouth and kissed until he felt his own arousal humming all through him.
Finally Harry pulled back, breathless, and Draco laughed at the exultant look in his lover’s eyes. His body thrummed with the power of the feeling between them. He licked his hand and wrapped it around Harry’s stiff cock. “Hot, you’re so hot,” Draco told him. With a few strokes, Harry came hard, over Draco’s hand and chest.
Harry lay on him, panting, then raised himself again. “You,” Harry whispered, rubbing his come in slow circles over Draco’s taut nipples and bending to lick himself off Draco’s skin. “You. You. You,” he murmured, between kisses on Draco’s neck and jaw and face.
You, Draco echoed back in his mind.
Harry sucked on Draco’s earlobes and Draco twined his fingers in his hair. Harry nuzzled his neck, then lifted Draco’s hand to his mouth, sucked his fingers, and tongued the webs between them.
Draco was floating. Harry licked the tender skin on the insides of his wrists and elbows, and waves of delicious sensation lapped at Draco, rocking him gently. A halcyon sea. He rode the swells of tranquil pleasure and drew Harry back into a kiss of deep sweetness.
Finally Harry pulled back to breathe, still poised above Draco. Was Draco still inside him?
Finite, Draco thought. Harry slid off and lay next to him, reaching a hand to stroke Draco’s now soft cock. He turned to look at Draco with a question in his eyes. Is something wrong? Draco wondered. Oh – there was no semen. Had Harry expected something else?
“That’s not where I come, or how I come,” Draco told him. “But everywhere I feel, I feel you. Don’t you dare doubt that this is real for me.”
Harry gazed at him, so open and sweet and deep. “I wouldn’t dare.”
They held each other for a long time before sleep came.
A few hours later, the coin around Draco’s neck warmed suddenly against his skin. He pulled it out and saw a heart traced on its surface. Nothing else. He wasn’t surprised when Harry – and Granger, and Weasley – didn’t return. Not that night, nor the next, nor in the weeks to come.
He requested permission to go to France.
Draco threw himself into learning about the Abraxans. The huge golden-winged horses were magnificent, and he treated them with respect. What a fool he’d been years earlier, when he sneered at the Hippogriff because he was jealous of Harry Potter and determined to look cool.
Researching Abraxas, the mythic horse who shared his grandfather’s name, Draco found pictures of the winged horses drawing the chariot of the sun. I could make a chariot like that, he thought.
And – after a lot of work, and false starts, and adaptations so he could sit rather than stand – he did.
But the fiery Abraxans of Mme Maxime’s team dwarfed his small chariot, and when she tried to give him driving lessons on a carriage, they were so powerful that they were difficult for him to control. He wanted a horse that he could guide with one hand if necessary, so that he could use his wand if he had to. “Alors,” said Mme Maxime, “perhaps la petite Rosemonde is the horse for you.”
Rosemonde had been rescued from an abusive wizard. She had probably been small to begin with, and also had been underfed, so although she was larger than an ordinary horse, she was not nearly as large as the other Abraxans, and not well matched to pull in a team. She was also somewhat skittish.
Draco spent time with her, helped groom her, and spoke gently to her. Gradually he won the trust of Rosemonde, and finally she let him yoke her to the chariot. He told her what a strong, beautiful, intelligent horse she was, and how lucky he was to know her. She arched her neck and pranced a little. He urged her up, and she took to the sky, and there at last was the exhilaration of flying again, the wind in his face and the countryside spreading out beneath him, the sunlight gleaming on her golden wings. Again and again they went flying together. She too seemed to thrive on their partnership.
Feeling newly capable, he began looking for more things he could do.
Mme Maxime told him that the Ministry in Britain had begun imposing new restrictions on Muggle-born Wizards, and he volunteered to join the Reseau – the French side of the refugee escape network that smuggled vulnerable witches, wizards and their families out of Britain. To help them with clandestine communications, Draco used the Protean Charm again to make coins such as Dumbledore’s Army had used. He told the French wizards what he knew of Voldemort, and counseled the refugees that passed through Beauxbatons on how to adapt in France.
Mme Maxime gave him permission to take Rosemonde anywhere that Rosemonde was willing to go. Once he even flew into England to deliver a shipment of Portkeys, since the making of Portkeys was restricted in Britain now. The Reseau had only approved that mission if Draco Polyjuiced as an able-bodied wizard, but there were problems with the Polyjuice and he barely got out before the changing back began. Going through that painful transformation in mid-air over the Channel had been hazardous, and the Reseau refused to let him try a mission like that again.
So Draco kept busy, but there was always an undercurrent of worry about the war, and Harry, and his family and friends. On Beltane he felt particularly homesick. It was a holiday for which Draco felt a special affinity, since his wand was hawthorn, the May bush, Beltane’s sacred tree.
The next morning he was sitting in the Beauxbatons library, looking at pictures of Triptolemus, the Greek demi-god of agriculture who flew around the country distributing wheat seeds and teaching people to grow them. In some stories, Triptolemus flew in a chariot pulled by a pair of winged dragons (a ‘Draco car’, one writer called it). Draco wasn’t sure he could handle a team of dragons, that sort of recklessness was more Harry’s style. But maybe if they were small dragons….
As he was reading, Draco suddenly felt heat in a small round spot on his chest, as though a sunbeam had caught him just there. But the sun was at his back. He pulled out the coin he wore on a string around his neck, the one that was linked to Harry’s, and there again was the trace of a heart. Just like eight months earlier – the last time Harry had said goodbye.
Draco’s heart was in his throat. He rolled out of the building and toward the pasture where Rosemonde was, and called to her. “Rosemonde, ma cherie, I must go to Britain, as quickly as I can. It will be dangerous.”
She trotted up and gazed at him with her intelligent eyes, dropped her head to nuzzle his hair, and then turned and cantered toward the stables. He hurried after. Bernard, who looked after the Abraxans, helped him yoke her to the chariot and transfer from his chair. He left word with Bernard for Mme Maxime, gave a sign to Rosemonde, she galloped and spread her powerful wings and then they were aloft.
But where exactly was Harry? The Protean Charm linked their coins; Draco hoped the link was strong enough to track with. Holding up its string he said, “Reperi socium,” directing the coin to find its partner. It pulled toward the northwest. Perhaps he had a chance.
Rosemonde flew with all her heart, beating the air with her mighty wings. Draco had no idea how long they flew before they crossed the Channel. The coin was pulling them toward Scotland. He was not surprised when the familiar towers of Hogwarts finally came into view.
There was chaos at the castle – a huge battle being fought outside on the grounds. Not only wizards but giants, centaurs, suits of armor, spiders – general pandemonium. Rosemonde whinnied to the silent skeletal flying horses. Draco looked for Harry but couldn’t see him. He and Rosemonde circled over the battlefield. Jets of curse light shot everywhere.
Draco saw his cousin dueling with a big Death Eater. They both fell. “Rosemonde, down!” They swerved down and he saw Tonks was moving, so he pulled her into the chariot and they climbed quickly up to be out of range while she recovered. She was looking frantically for someone.
“Remus! Remus! Put me down near him.” Draco did his best to fire Stunning spells at Lupin’s opponent before setting Tonks down. Rosemonde swept him up into the air again.
Draco looked down to see Greg gaping up at him. Greg was waiting, as if for Draco to tell him what to do. Draco looked around. Fenrir Greyback was running toward Luna Lovegood. “Help Lovegood!” Draco yelled.
Greg nodded and pointed his wand at Greyback. “Crucio!” he said, and Draco’s heart tore a little to see how easily he did it. Greyback fell and began to rise again, but Draco and Luna both hit him with Stunning spells, which slowed him a little, and then a group of Order members were circling him and Draco couldn’t get a clear shot. Rosemonde whirled him away.
Voldemort cast Silencio, and it became eerily quiet. Harry appeared – he looked exhausted and smoke-streaked but determined. He and Voldemort squared off, and everyone else stopped to watch. Voldemort couldn’t stop himself from boasting and jeering: he would defeat Harry now because he held the Wand of Destiny, the Death Stick, he had gained power over it when he had taken it from Snape by murder. Snape gone? – Draco couldn’t take it in.
But Snape was not the master of Dumbledore’s wand, Harry argued, Snape had served Dumbledore, out of love for Harry’s mother. “Dumbledore died the master of that wand,” Harry said.
“But I have it now,” Voldemort gloated.
In his mind’s eye Draco saw the Astronomy Tower at night, a year ago, Dumbledore sliding down the wall while Draco whispered, “Expelliarmus” and a wand leapt lightly into his hand.
“Harry!” Draco swerved the chariot down.
“Going to run away now, little boy?” Voldemort sneered.
“Trust me, just for a moment,” Draco said, pulling an astounded Harry into the chariot. Rosemonde turned and rose.
“Draco! You’re here!” Awe lit Harry’s features. “But I have to go back. It has to be me, I have to try to finish this.”
“I know. I’ll bring you. But you need my wand.”
“You want to give me your wand?” Harry looked puzzled.
“I can’t give it to you, but you need it. Do you think I want you to have what you need?” That was as plain as he dared to be, wand transfer was so tricky. Draco gripped his wand. Just take it, Harry.
Harry read his eyes, pulled hard and yanked the wand from Draco’s grasp. He thrust some other wand (not Harry’s own, which Draco would know anywhere) into Draco’s hand. Then Harry pulled him into a fierce kiss.
Rosemonde had pulled them high, high up, and the sound of the battle was covered by the wind rushing in their ears. Wind and soaring and sunshine and a kiss in Harry’s arms. That would do.
“Back we go. Should I set you down, or do you want to stay in here with me?”
“There’s nowhere I’d rather be.”
Rosemonde turned and brought them down again, where they could hear the Dark Lord jeering. “Got a little cripple to be your nancy-boy, eh Potter? Call that virtuous, do you?”
“I call it love,” Harry said. “That power you know nothing about.”
“I wouldn’t count on that wand, Voldemort,” Draco said. “It’s got a story you don’t know, a story of remorse. You should have listened to Harry about that.”
“I’m not afraid of a Malfoy, you worthless little traitor. I’ll kill you later. But first, Potter, you die.”
Harry’s Expelliarmus met Vodemort’s Avada Kedavra in a bang. Harry fell back from the force of the explosion, but Draco could see he was unhurt. Voldemort, struck by his own rebounding death curse, crumpled.
“No!” came a piercing shriek. Draco turned to see his insane Aunt Bellatrix raise her wand in fury. He threw himself on top of Harry and tugged on the reins. Rosemonde swerved out of the way of the curse and Draco struggled to regain his balance.
“Disgrace to the name of Black!” Bellatrix screamed, raising her wand again and aiming at him. “Avada Keda-”
“NOT MY SON YOU BITCH!” And there was Draco’s father, bringing his silver cane crashing down on her wand arm.
“-vra!” escaped her lips just as her wand shot green light out at her own foot. And she too fell.
There was a moment more of silence and then an eruption of cries and cheers. Draco guided Rosemonde to land in a clear spot. Harry kissed him and then was pulled out and hauled away to be hugged – Weasley and Granger were there, and Lovegood, and Longbottom, and McGonagall.
Draco sat and waited for the battered, shrunken, ragged figure of his father to reach him. Draco ached to see him like that, with his face so bruised and his eye all swollen.
“You’re alive,” said his father, gazing at him in wonder.
“I’m so sorry – you were supposed to be safe in Azkaban. I tried but – ”
“Alive,” his father repeated, as if that were all he had ever hoped for.
“Mother is too. She has been in hiding. She’ll be able to come out now.”
They were interrupted as Harry came pushing back toward the chariot, face flushed. He stopped cold at the sight of Draco’s father. His father drew himself up and raised his chin.
Harry stiffened and then took a deep breath. “Thank you for saving Draco from Bellatrix Lestrange, Mr Malfoy.”
“He is my son. Malfoys protect our own.” Draco and Harry shared a look that was perhaps not as private as they hoped, because his father added dryly, “As you may have gathered.”
Draco’s exhaustion was beginning to catch up with him. But there was one more thing – what was it – Snape. “What happened to Professor Snape, Harry?”
“Nagini bit him. I got there too late – he died before my eyes.”
“Are you sure? That seems like something he’d have prepared for – where was he?”
“In the Shrieking Shack – let’s go then, quickly.”
And so Rosemonde performed her last war service, as an ambulance horse to bring the unconscious body of Severus Snape back to the medical care that saved his life.
Finally Rosemonde could be unyoked, and then Draco had to transfigure the chariot into a usable wheelchair for the ground. It was awkward to do while sitting in it, and it never turned out as well as his own wheelchair, but that was back in France, so it would have to do.
He was getting ready to wipe down Rosemonde as best he could, wondering where he could get the single malt whiskey that was the only thing Abraxans drank, when Hagrid appeared and insisted on taking care of her. She seemed happy enough with that, so Draco thanked her, stroked her nose, and promised to be back after he’d rested.
Now exhaustion won out. “Do you think the Room of Parole is still there?” Draco asked Harry, who had been reuniting with friends and trying to comfort the wounded, but looked ready to topple over himself.
“I think we’ve served our term. I imagine we could get the Room of Requirement, though.”
“I’d settle for anywhere quiet with a bed and a door that closed.”
“A bed and me?”
“A bed and you.” World enough and time.
Draco let himself into their ground floor flat. Harry was in the living room, curled up in his stocking feet in an armchair by the window.
Harry smiled at him. “How did the workshop go?”
“Quite well, I think,” Draco answered. “Not many people came, but sometimes people are more willing to open up in a smaller group. There were some good questions.” Draco had begun offering workshops on coping with disability for other survivors of curses.
“What are you up to this afternoon?” he asked Harry.
“I was waiting for you.”
“Oh – did we say we’d go flying?” Draco had been working on an updated version of the Broom-Cat. The double-handled broom he’d invented, with a seat suspended in-between, was easily controlled with the arms alone. Now he was trying to improve the speed and responsiveness, without sacrificing stability. He’d wanted to try out his new prototype.
But maybe not today. “I’m sorry – I don’t think I have the energy to fly right now. Perhaps tomorrow.”
“Yeah, those public appearances are draining sometimes, aren’t they,” Harry said as he came over to rub Draco’s shoulders.
Draco leaned his head back against Harry’s arm. “And the topic today was tricky. Sexuality is a particularly touchy subject after a disability.”
“Well, I’m all in favor of touch,” Harry murmured, bending down to rub his nose into Draco’s hair.
Draco smiled and turned his head to drop a kiss onto Harry’s hand. “Later? After I’ve had a nap?”
“Naps are good. Right now, actually, I was just going to ask if you wanted to listen to something.”
“Sure,” Draco answered, wondering. Then, seeing Harry go toward the oblong black case in the corner of the room, he exclaimed “Oh! Are you going to play for me?”
“Well, we know about ‘Sex After the Hex’,” Harry smiled, quoting the title of Draco’s workshop. He opened the case, got out a reed, and dropped it into a cup of water sitting on an end table. “I thought we could also have sax before the sex.”
Draco watched with pleasure as Harry took out the mouthpiece and fitted the various parts of his instrument together. Harry’s love affair with the saxophone had begun when they had gone to France together after the war. Draco had needed to take Rosemonde home, thank Mme Maxime and say goodbye to his colleagues in the Reseau. Harry had wanted to see where Draco lived at Beauxbatons.
After that they had gone to Paris, and one evening as they were strolling and rolling along the streets, Harry had stopped, raised his head and said, “What’s that?” They had followed the sound to a street corner where a lone musician played the sax. Harry listened, entranced, and finally said, “I want to do that.”
Taking up music for the first time as an adult was not easy, but Draco had encouraged him. There were a lot of things about the war and his past that Harry was reluctant to talk about, but in the mournful bluesy tones of the sax he let those feelings out. And the instrument seemed also to embody the warm sensuality that Harry kept private from the world but that his lover knew so well.
Harry had found a Muggle teacher in London and taken lessons, and adapted a Muggle CD player for their flat. Sometimes they went back to Paris on short trips to the jazz and blues clubs. Harry had improved enough that he didn’t automatically use Muffliato before beginning to practice, but he usually played for himself, a soliloquy. This was the first time he had specially invited Draco to listen.
Harry finished assembling his instrument, blew a few notes, and adjusted the mouthpiece while Draco admired the gleaming curves of brass and the sight of Harry backlit by afternoon sunshine. “Er – this is for you,” Harry said, looking bashful suddenly, then put the horn to his lips and blew.
The slow liquid crooning was a song Draco now recognized, and his memory filled in the words.
You do something to me,
something that simply mystifies me.
Tell me, why should it be
you have the power to hypnotize me?
Let me live 'neath your spell,
Here Draco couldn’t help singing aloud:
“Do do that voodoo
that you do so well.
For you do something to me
that nobody else could do.”
They finished their duet smiling into each other’s eyes, riding a current of energy golden as a sunbeam. “Oh, wait – I have another piece for you,” Harry said suddenly, and then ducked his head and raked his fingers through his hair so it stood up even more wildly than usual. He fiddled around with the mouthpiece again while Draco waited out this burst of nervousness, then gave a shy smile, took a deep breath, closed his eyes and began to play.
This time the music was nothing Draco had ever heard, and far from the mellow smoothness of the last song. There was a chaotic beginning, then a dark and threatening passage, countered next by a melody that sang of determination, a thrilling and desperate defiance, yet vulnerable and warm. That’s Harry, Draco thought, I can hear him in that melody. That’s a portrait of Harry.
The melody grew strained and tense, and then there was a burst of glory, an exuberant sweep of golden sound, a joyous lift, and then a sweet sweet suspension.
The dark jarring notes returned louder and more threatening, but the melody of determination, now stronger and joyful, broke in, building to a crescendo, sustained, triumphant, and then releasing in small sobs of relief, a gradual diminuendo, some somberness, but finally peace.
“That was you – I heard you in there,” Draco said urgently. “I’ve never heard anything like it. It was a portrait in sound.”
“Did you hear yourself arrive? That was the last battle,” Harry said. “That was you swooping in to save the day.”
There was no point correcting Harry again on who had really saved the day. “You composed that,” Draco said, awed.
“Yeah.” Harry put his saxophone down. That red color came into his cheeks.
Naps could wait. Draco rolled close to his lover and pulled him down onto his lap.
Harry rested his head against Draco’s and fiddled open the buttons at the top of Draco’s robes. “Did you hear our kiss?”
“Mmm. Now that we’re not in such a hurry ” – Draco sighed as Harry traced his collarbone with light fingers – “let’s recreate it.”
Harry’s lips met his and opened to him, and sunlight poured over them like a blessing.
All was well.