Rites of Passage
It was tradition.
That was what his father had told him after the first blood had been spilt, after the first pain had been drawn from his tender flesh in the intricate patterns of the ritual.
A rite of passage which must be observed in order for the son to pass to manhood.
And he stood silently beneath the blade of the knife and the whisper of the incantation and screamed the protest of this act within his eyes and mind. He held himself still by force of will alone even as ever fiber of his being screamed for him to run, to flee this place and this man and this terrible tradition that seemed to pour darkness into the most secret depths of his soul.
But he stayed still and did not utter a word, as was expected, and waited for an end.
And when it was over, his father drew the knife from his chest and seemed to smile at his handiwork. "There now. That wasn't so bad was it? Just a little pain and it's all over. I'm proud of you. You've done so well."
So well... as if it was all a test, and perhaps it was. A test of will, if of nothing else, that he should stand there and allow his father, his father who he loved and worshiped and who had never ever caused him pain, to carve these marks into his chest and whisper pain across his skin and thrust darkness into his soul.
It seemed, too late, that he finally realized why these arts were called dark. Perhaps that was what his father meant when he had described this as a rite of passage. The drawing away of the velvet curtain which had previously concealed the truth he had never wished to see. And seeing this truth with his eyes wide, he could no longer hold to the notions of his childhood. No longer think of his father as just and good. No longer think of himself as just and good. They were dark wizards, wizards born and bred of the darkness, and they could be nothing else.
And it was summer.
And something died.
And it was Harry Potter.
He knocked on the window, knowing already that only rejection would greet him. Potter would see the darkness in his soul, the rites of passage carved into his pale chest and turn him away. Or turn him in. Have him shut up in Azkaban or St. Mungo's or in deep, rich darkness below the earth where he surely belonged. He knocked harder at the window, half-afraid that he'd picked the wrong one and that some Muggle would open the window and find him crouched on the sill, shivering and bleeding and so very, very cold. There seemed an unnatural chill in the air, too cold for summer, it felt almost like autumn. But, then again, he thought that perhaps that chill was probably just in his mind.
There was a flicker of light, a candle leaping to life within the room and then Harry Potter's familiar bespeckled face appeared in the window, glaring out at him blearily. It seemed it took a moment for recognition to dawn and he could see when it did. See it in the widening of the dark eyes behind those glasses and feel it in the way his own body tensed in response, expecting the rejection. It would come now. Harry Potter would turn away and return to his bed and he would be left alone to the darkness once more. And...
"Malfoy?" Harry asked softly, shoving the window up, before reaching out to practically yank Draco off the sill and into the surprisingly warm room beyond. His broom hovered still beyond the window and Harry brought that inside as well, setting it against the wall before closing the window and turning his attention to where Draco stood just where he'd left him. "Malfoy? What... shite... sit down on the bed, I'll go find... something. Shite. I'll go find some bandages or... or something," Harry murmured distractedly, pushing Draco down on the bed before disappearing from the room.
Draco sat in stunned silence on the edge of Harry Potter's bed, in Harry Potter's house, and tried to figure out how he'd come to be here. How he'd known just where to find this boy or why he'd even come here in the first place and he could not find any answers, only more questions. Then Harry was back, with a towel and glass of water and he was frowning and shaking his head. "This won't do. Come with me."
And Harry Potter folded his warm fingers around Draco's cold ones and led him to the bathroom. He sat him down on the toilet and closed and locked the door before turning on the light. "What happened to you?" He asked softly as he drenched a cloth with water and knelt before him, pressing the cloth to the open wound on Draco's chest.
Draco stared at him for a long moment, watching the tentative, almost frightened way Harry touched the cloth to his chest. So different from the sure, easy strokes of the man who'd opened the wounds that Harry was trying to heal. He stared as if hypnotized and leaned back against the wall behind him, so that he could still watch Harry's hands and see the boy himself at the same time. "Summer. Summer happened to me," he murmured finally, but his voice sounded like the voice of a stranger. Harsh with pain and almost faint, as if this stranger who'd spoken hadn't had to speak in a very long time and maybe he hadn't.
Harry paused, his hand stilling against Draco's bloody chest, and Draco tensed. He was suddenly afraid that that stranger who'd spoken in his place had said something wrong and that he would be thrown out the nearest window before he had a chance to tell Harry that nothing had changed. That he was still Draco Malfoy and wasn't that fine? Of course, just being Draco Malfoy would probably get him thrown out the window as well.
But then Harry's hand was moving again, wiping blood from his chest in those same cautious strokes and Draco felt himself relaxing once more under that careful touch.
"Summer?" Harry questioned softly, standing to rinse the cloth in the sink before dropping down before him once more and continuing the slow, laborious work of clearing blood from Draco's bare chest.
"Summer," the stranger's voice confirmed.
"Okay," Harry replied, continuing his ministrations in silence.
Draco was not certain when he fell asleep, but when he next opened his eyes he found himself staring up at an unfamiliar ceiling and lying in an unfamiliar bed. He panicked, rocketing into a sitting position and letting out a sharp cry.
Harry was there at his side in an instant, laying a hand against his arm, coaxing him back down against the pillows and the cool sheets. And he was catching hold of Harry's shoulders before he could stop himself and pulling Harry down into the bed with him. "I'm so cold," Draco heard the stranger's voice whisper and his arms trembled as they wrapped themselves around Harry's slim shoulders and drew him close. A part of his brain marveled at the ease with which Harry submitted to his silent demand, allowing himself to pulled down into the squeaking, creaking bed without so much as a whisper of protest.
"Malfoy?" Harry questioned, once Draco had settled down again, peaceful now that Harry's warm body was lying against him.
"Hm?" Draco responded sleepily, amazed to find that his voice was his own once more.
"Can you... can you tell me what happened to you?"
"Summer. Summer happened to me," Draco whispered.
And they kissed in the darkness, the briefest touch of lips, and Harry's fingers tangled in his hair.
And Draco slept.
And while he slept his father crept into the room and whispered the words that sent Harry Potter to his grave.
The sun was shining too brightly when Draco awoke again with Harry Potter's t-shirt clad body tucked against him. The night had passed while he slept and he would have thought its events a terrible dream if not for the living proof sleeping at his side, and the very Muggle room surrounding him. When he shifted and sat up, Harry was staring at him with green eyes which seemed all the more vivid and real in the early morning light.
"Hey," Harry murmured cautiously, squinting up at Draco from a face which looked a bit strange without the glasses he was used to seeing upon it.
"Hey," Draco responded, his voice equally soft as he took in the bags beneath Potter's green eyes that only looked deeper and blacker when he squinted and the hair which was more tangled and unruly then he'd ever seen it. "You look like hell."
"You're one to talk," Harry replied, groping the nightstand for his glasses and thrusting the frames on his face once he found them. "At least those wounds closed up."
Draco glanced down at his chest and raised a hand to touch the scars there. They glistened, the pale and shiny pink of newly formed skin. The scars were slick to the touch, almost smooth, but he could almost feel the deep rivets they'd cut in his soul and he dropped his hand immediately, as if the skin had burned him. He glanced up to find Harry staring at him with a gaze that was curiously devoid of emotion. "What?" He hissed, his voice sharper then he'd meant it to be.
"What happened to you?"
"How many times are you going to ask that question before excepting the answer I give, Potter? Fifty? A thousand? Summer happened to me."
"That doesn't tell me anything."
"It would if you were listening."
And they sat in silence as Harry mulled over the words and Draco himself realized that he didn't really understand them either.
All he knew was that they were true.
And that they were the only answer he had to give.
And as they sat together on Harry's bed, contemplating the meaning of these words, the Dursleys began to rise for the day.
It was strange to see how the boy who lived lived outside the sheltered realm of Hogwarts. How he lived in this house of Muggles and was treated with such obvious disdain by these filthy beasts who shared his blood. Draco found that he wanted very badly to hurt them. To bring the darkness to bear against them until Harry would interfere and save them, as he inevitably would, because he was so good. And, perhaps, if they saw how good, they would understand what he was just beginning to understand.
That the goodness of this boy had no fucking limits.
Of course, that was probably what he hated most about Harry Potter at this particular moment.
Because Harry Potter should have sent him away, if not last night, then at least this morning or this afternoon or this evening. But Harry Potter had not sent him away and so he'd stayed. He'd spent most of the day trying his damnedest to find Harry's breaking point. To find that moment when Harry would decide that enough was enough and finally tell him to take a flying leap from the nearest window. But every time he'd thought himself close, Harry would simply sigh, shake his head, and smile. That was the part that Draco understood the least. He'd make comments about Harry's friends, Harry's family, Dumbledore, Muggles, Mudbloods, the condition of Harry's room, and all Harry would do was smile.
And he was beginning to like that smile.
And now the light was fading from the sky and he was curled up in Harry's bed with the blankets pulled up around his head as if it were deepest winter rather than an abnormally hot summer and Harry was leaning his back against the bed with a thick book propped on his knees, making notes in the margins with his quill. When the darkness had fallen completely, Harry lit a lamp on his nightstand and continued to read in silence.
"Potter?" Draco inquired finally, his voice sounding terribly weak.
"Malfoy?" Harry replied, his quill stilling mid-stroke.
"Will you... shite... I mean..."
Harry shut the book with a quiet snap and set it aside, dropping his quill on top of it and pushing himself up. He turned out the lamp and Draco could hear the rustling of cloth as Harry's silhouetted figure discarded its t-shirt and jeans and crossed the room, digging a pair of pajama bottoms from the dresser and donning them before returning to the bed and slipping in beside him. Draco sighed and draped an arm across Harry, pulling him closer until their bare chests touched. He thought Harry gasped, but he couldn't be sure.
Draco wasn't sure if the first move was when Harry's hand had come to rest on his thigh, coaxing him closer, or if it had been the first push of his hips against Harry's.
The first touch of his lips against Harry's collarbone.
The first touch of Harry's lips against his throat.
Everything had been so fluid, seamless, as if it were some terrible, wonderful dance.
Harry's bitten nails digging into his shoulder blades, his own carefully clipped nails digging into Harry's hip.
Harry's breathing, suddenly erratic, almost panicked against his face. His own heartbeat so painfully loud in his ears. They didn't speak, as if words might break the spell. The spell that made this seem so much like a dream and thus made it possible.
Because in a dream, you could do as you liked.
In a dream, it didn't matter that it was another boy touching you or kissing you or marking the hollow of your throat with a bruise you would end up wearing as a temporary remembrance of this brief encounter.
It didn't matter how much the rest of the world would hate you if they knew.
How much your father would hate you.
And so Draco did not speak as thrust his hand between their writhing bodies, awkwardly shoving his boxers down over his hips and struggling out of them as he felt Harry doing much the same with his pajama pants. And then they were both naked and tangled around each other once more.
It was awkward and strange, as they groped each other, trying to find the right places to touch and stroke and pull in order to find the pleasure they were both seeking.
Then things seemed to shift.
And everything was fluid once more, as if they'd done this a thousand times and Draco knew just where to touch Harry. He knew that if he licked that spot just behind Harry's ear that Harry would moan. He knew that Harry liked it best when he was on top and it seemed they'd actually sat down and discussed such things in detail, because he knew.
And when they came together Draco didn't mind the cold in the air, because all he could think of was Harry.
And all he could hear was his name, a whispered sigh on Harry's lips.
And he smiled.
And then he slept.
And while he slept, Voldemort crept into the room and whispered the words which sent Harry Potter to his grave.
Bright sunlight glinted through the window and touched his shuttered eyes and Harry was already awake, tromping about the room loudly. Draco opened his eyes to peer at the boy and Harry grinned at him.
"No," Draco replied, turning and burying his face in the pillow. It seemed so stupid to deny it, but he wanted to sleep a bit more. But he couldn't sleep without Harry tucked against him and so he reluctantly relinquished the bed. He sat up and ran a hand through his sleep-tousled hair and glared at Harry's back as the boy went about piling books in the corner. The sunlight was bright and for the first time in what seemed like a long time, Draco really felt its warmth. "Are you okay with... I mean..." Draco frowned, unable to form the words.
"I love you, Draco." Harry commented suddenly, casting a glance back over his shoulder at where Draco sat.
And Draco felt the wand in his hand and knew that it was wrong for someone like Harry to say such words to someone like him.
And so he whispered the words that sent Harry Potter to his grave.
And it was better that way.
And the curse was uttered by his father.
And the curse was uttered by the Dark Lord.
And the curse slipped from his own lips.
And Harry died.
And Draco suddenly understood that this wasn't real.
It was just another rite of passage.
And the summer would never end, because it had never truly begun.
It was autumn and the leaves were falling.
And Harry was kissing him.
It was winter and the trees were dead.
And they lay tangled together in a heap of sweat-soaked limps.
It was spring and the trees were reborn in a burst of color and life.
And Harry was beside him.
And he was dying again.
Only it wasn't Harry who died at all.
Because he had been the one to take the curse.
To stare into that unending green which was not so different from the color of Harry's eyes.
And he'd done it to protect him.
Because Harry had whispered a curse upon him that struck truer and deeper than any other.
'I love you.'
It was summer and there was blood on his lips.
It was autumn and there were fingers tangled in his hair.
It was winter and there was a moan and his name whispered in the dark.
It was spring and a single fleeting kiss touched his cold, dead lips.
Like a breath...
Like a dream...
And he awoke.
And his father was sitting at his bedside.
And his chest ached.
And his soul felt empty.
And something had died.
And he thought, just maybe, that it had been him all along.
~ fin ~
Author's Notes: Boy, I have no idea what to say about this one. Absolutely no clue. Ended up kind of freaky, even by my standards. I'm not quite sure how that happened. ^^;; Anyway, this fic shall be blamed on my on-going obsession with the Unforgivable Curses and, of course, on Aja for issuing this challenge in the first place. -_-
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