Disclaimer: I don't own them. You know who does.
Notes: Well, here we are, Part VII. I'd like to say something reassuring here, but how about just 'bear with me'. I still have to do the flash forward, after all!!
By Ivy Blossom
Are you still breathing?
Draco held Harrys hand carefully as they walked out of the school and toward the herbology garden. His heart was racing. He had been wanting to touch Harry for so long the thought of it made him groan. There had never been any question in his mind, of course, that he would have given anything to be back under that invisibility cloak a year ago, fumbling with buttons and listening for footsteps in the dark. And now here he was, Harrys hand in his, and all he had to do was perform his part, which was no false performance at all. And if he performed it well, he would get to keep Harry Potter forever. And they would live in powerful bliss. It was a dream come true.
But everything else about this encounter was a complete and utter lie. Draco wasnt new to lying, of course. He had spent most of his life lying, but never quite as much, or quite as significantly as he was now.
Before he had entered the great hall at Hogwarts, he had been prepared for this event, of course, in every possible way. He had spent the better part of a year lying half-dead in the upper reaches of Malfoy manor, and naturally looked a right mess. In reality, his hair had lost all its shine, his eyes were dull, bloodshot, and purplish bags were bulging underneath them. His skin was sickly sallow and nearly translucent. His lips were cracked and torn from bouts with Voldemort, and his voice was next to ruined from all the acids and potions hed been drinking, all the blood and bile and phlegm hed been coughing up. He had healed and half-healed shunt marks all over this body, that looked like small, cracked volcanoes of flesh erupting up and down his arms, torso, and legs. And of course, he had the Dark Mark on his arm, the ugly, nasty thing that it was, protruding a little, grayish-green. He felt like Cinderella, waiting for the clock to clang out midnight; his current radiant, flawless appearance had a time limit, as did the spells that allowed him on Hogwarts property without detection. How could he possibly have enacted the seduction of Harry Potter looking like something an owl had dragged in from a barnyard? His father had made him beautiful again, but he felt like a fraud. But there was no room for that; Draco had to be seductive, he had to be lovely, charming, perfect.
"Are you going to tell me where youve been?" Harry asked. He was feeling slightly dizzy now, and still over-warm, even though the cool night air was brushing his face. Draco squeezed his hand, feeling him squeeze right back.
"Well " Draco answered. "Id rather not. For the moment. Lets just say that I wasnt staying away entirely on purpose." Why could he not come up with an elaborate, romantic lie? He had been locked in a dungeon; sent into the Canadian arctic to save starving seals; he had become an Unspeakable; he had been locked up in St. Mungos; he had taken a vow; he had been cursed mute and immobile by the wicked witch of the west; something, anything! He knew that something sad and heroic was what Harry wanted to hear. Somehow a voice in him was preventing him escalating this charade any farther than was strictly necessary. Dont tell him any more lies. There was something hollow in this, and Draco was pretending he didnt notice. He stroked Harrys hand with his thumb. Sometimes ugly things turn out to be beautiful in the end. Harry had said that to him, hadnt he? Or was it Voldemort?
Harry sighed. Enigmatic answers from a profoundly enigmatic man. They walked in the garden, between rows of sage plants and nightshade. He felt oddly lightheaded. His face was still flushed, and he was hyper aware of his skin, rubbing softly against his robes, caressed gently in Dracos hand. Those hands! How he had dreamed of them, their profound gentleness, fingers tracing words on his skin that made his heart break. The noises of the party inside disappeared; all he could hear was the sound of his heart beating, and Dracos quiet breathing.
Draco He was leading Harry toward a low grassy area between the Quidditch pitch and the garden, where there was a wide wooden bench, patting the small (now empty) vial in his pocket which he had emptied minutes ago into Harrys pumpkin juice. Those few drops of tasteless liquid gave Draco the advantage of knowing what Harry was thinking, how he felt. Draco had been worried that Harry might have forgotten about him, might have found someone just as interesting, just as attractive, someone who kissed just as well. Perhaps one of those muggles he dragged home with him. He wasnt opposed to using the available tools to help him secure his prize. He gazed questioningly into those green eyes, testing to see if they longed for anyone else, anyone other than him. No one. No one but him. They sat down on the bench, looking out on the Quidditch pitch.
"I always loved watching you fly, you know." Draco noted. "It was the only time I was able to watch you without anyone being suspicious." He laid the palm of his hand against the Harrys jaw, stroking the soft skin of his neck, and brought Harrys hand, still folded into his own, to his face, kissing the inside of his wrist as if it might disappear from him at any moment. Harry shivered, closing his eyes. This is too perfect, he thought. Draco leaned toward him, brushing his lips against Harrys. Without any thought at all, Harry pulled Draco into his arms and kissed him. Into that kiss he poured out an entire year of concern, of sweaty, sticky dreams, hours pouring over reports, lists of names, and quiet thoughts about those lips, that tongue, the soft hairs on the back of that neck, the feel of those muscles, knotted in concentration, along the length of his back. He kissed him with all the frustration he had felt, left waiting, hanging on tenterhooks, watching for owls every day, scanning the streets for men with soft blonde hair. He kissed him with the intensity of the disappointment he had felt every time a strangers face turned out not to be his, every time he didnt hear a voice saying, Hello Harry, its me, Draco. Im here, Im sorry to have kept you waiting so long. Draco responded with equal passion, unable to fully express the desperation of his long nights that dragged into weeks, months, waiting for this moment, dreaming of the taste of Harrys skin, the feel of the curve of Harrys hip bone on his lips. The urgency of that kiss was so palpable that they peeled off layers of clothing with a sense of necessity akin to breathing, with a calmness that only comes with great desire that has had to wait far too long.
Draco tasted of rich things; shortbread, cinnamon, marzipan, maraschino cherries and toffee. Harry felt as if he were in a dream with no consequences when Draco lips left his body, briefly touched his nose, and he rose from the bench. Harry opened his eyes and saw him lay his cloak on the grass. He stood and followed him. He stood for moment with Draco, his arms wrapped around his slim waist, as Draco removed what remained of his own and Harrys clothing while whispering into his ear. You are so beautiful, Harry. In my dreams you were lovely, but in the flesh you are breathtaking .Do you have any idea how Ive missed you? Do you have any idea how I love you? The cool night breeze against his skin felt absolutely right, as if he had been waiting for this moment, standing naked on the back grounds of Hogwarts, his entire life. Draco kept whispering in his ear, things he only ever whispered to him in his deepest dreams. Im here now, Harry. We wont be on opposite sides anymore. He breathed deeply as Draco pulled him down onto his cloak, looking intense, serious, and desperate all at once. Harry lay on his back, his arms full of Draco, looking up at the stars above them.
Bliss. Draco was extremely attentive. Unlike before, Draco seemed to move with no fear, no hesitation. His fingers wrote endless love letters all over his body, his lips pressed words neither of them knew how to say into his skin. Harry forgot where he was; he stroked Draco, ran his nails down Dracos back, bathed in his moans and the feel of his lips on his stomach. With his lips, his tongue, and his hands, Draco brought Harry to a point where he was sure he would explode and rip entirely in two. He stifled a scream in his throat, his fingers buried in Dracos hair.
Suddenly, Draco stopped his ministrations, drawing himself up toward Harrys face. "Harry," he said, sounding afraid. "No, Harry no, not yet, no " Too late. The friction of Dracos body moving against him was too much. He cried out, and both felt a warm spurt of fluid against their stomachs. He clutched Draco to him, nuzzled his neck, breathing heavily. "Oh, Harry " Draco sounded terrified. He jumped up, and backed away from him.
"Draco, whats wrong?" Harry sat up and scratched his head.
Harry saw a spot on Dracos stomach, at first just wet and glistening in the starlight, turn silver, and then black. Draco grabbed at it, trying to hold it back, but it grew larger and larger until it covered most of his abdomen. Draco looked up at Harry.
"Run." He said.
"What?" Harry was watching the void on Dracos body swirl, blistering the skin around it. Suddenly he felt his scar burn and pulse with pain. He winced and grabbed it, looking at Draco with wide eyes. "What have you done?" He said quietly.
Dracos eyes had rolled back into his head, and he was shaking. The void on his stomach was shifting, growing outward, turning a thick green. Then suddenly it left his body altogether, detaching from that abused flesh and forming a perfect circle, like a soap bubble, glistening like a drop of gasoline in water. Draco collapsed. For a moment that bubble of black and roiling green floated in the air, motionless, directly in front of Harrys face, as if it were sizing him up. Harrys scar was burning with pain. He clenched his teeth.
The sphere threw itself into Harry, dissolving on contact with his skin.
Draco watched in horror as Harrys body trembled, his fists shaking, his eyes clamped tightly shut. As quickly as it started, suddenly the trembling stopped. Harry opened his eyes. They were entirely black. He smiled, a very uncharacteristic smile, looking down at his naked body, stretching his arms, and peering at them.
"Nicely done, Malfoy," he said, in a voice that was not entirely his own. "Your father will be so proud." He laughed hollowly, moving toward Draco and pulling him to his feet. With a wicked grin, he leaned in and kissed Draco, taking his lip between his teeth and biting down, hard. Draco knew better than to wince. He released Draco, reached up and fingered a drop of blood on his lip.
He turned, whispered a few words over the blood, and drew a line in the air that sparkled red. He grabbed it, and tore it open, leaving a large blank hole.
Draco watched as his father climbing out of that hole carrying a long black robe.
"Here you are, Lord Voldemort," He said, draping the cloak over Harrys naked body. "What a great success!"
Voldemort laughed. "Yes. Dumbledore will be surprised indeed."
Draco looked down at himself, and saw that his flawless appearance was gone; he saw his Mark, his scars, and his pallid, translucent skin. His legs felt wobbly and he was suddenly very cold. He moved to the pile of clothes on the grass, pulling on his trousers, his cloak. He could hear Death Eaters arriving, greeting each other, praising Voldemort, making preparations. But louder than that in his head was a strange sound, thub, thub, thub, like something rotating slowly, but increasing in speed. He shook his head, crouching down on the grass.
Then he heard a voice in his head, strong and clear. What have you done? It was Harry.
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