maxine_chan: (HP - HarryDraco paint by Sherant)
Maxine ([personal profile] maxine_chan) wrote2011-09-16 10:32 am
Entry tags:

FIC: All the Answers - Chapter 20

Title: All the Answers
Fandom: Harry Potter
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Harry/Draco
Word Count: 6500
Disclaimer: It's not mine. JKR is the brilliant mind behind HP.
Notes: This is a post-HBP 7th year fic that is not compliant with Deathly Hallows at all. Many, many thanks to my awesome beta, [livejournal.com profile] lksnarry1!
Summary: Horcruxes, former enemies showing up out of nowhere, and the usual teenage drama on top of it all - Harry isn't sure how he's ever going to make it through all this. But since when has conquering evil ever been easy?


--> All chapters can be found here. <--



previous chapter


~~Chapter 20~~


Harry woke the next morning to find Draco’s face far too close to his own.

He let out a startled yelp and flew backwards straight off the bed, landing with a loud thud on the floor. Still half asleep and now confused about where he was, he struggled to sit up and get a good look at his surroundings. Above him, Draco pushed himself up on one elbow and blearily looked at him over the edge of the bed.

“The hell’re you doing, Potter?” he asked, voice still thick with sleep.

Harry pushed himself to his feet and dusted his trousers off, looking around at everything in the room that wasn’t Draco. “Er…nothing,” he said, and then his eyes found the window. “Shit, it’s morning.”

“Oh.” Draco suddenly sounded a great deal more alert. Harry glanced back at him to find him staring down at his bed in a bewildered sort of way. His cheeks had gone a light pink. “…Well.”

“Yeah.”

“We fell asleep.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“That wasn’t supposed to happen.”

“Look, I’m just going to – go.” Harry backpedaled toward the door, hoping he didn’t look as awkward as he felt.

Draco nodded. “Probably best.”

“See you at breakfast?” Draco nodded again, and met Harry’s eyes for the first time that morning. Harry blinked. “…Okay,” he said faintly, even though Draco hadn’t said anything.

“Right.”

“Good.” Harry didn’t move.

Now Draco looked amused. “Breakfast, Potter,” he said, and Harry blinked again.

“Right, yeah!” he said loudly, as he finally stumbled out the door. “I’ll see you.”

He ran into Ron first thing in the hallway.

The other boy was exiting his own room, looking back over his shoulder with a soft, private smile that Harry didn’t think anyone else was meant to see. He thought briefly about doing an about-face and trying to escape before he was noticed, but by then Ron had turned back around and was grinning in his direction.

“Morning, Harry!” he said happily, and then his grin sort of froze in place as he saw which room Harry had just come from.

“…Hi!” Harry said with forced cheerfulness. His voice sounded all wrong, too high-pitched and sort of strained. Ron stared at him for a long moment while Harry shifted his weight from foot to foot, until finally he let out an exasperated sound and pushed past him. He headed down the hall to where his room was, all too aware that Ron was trailing after him, and when he got there he threw himself face first onto the bed and tried to smother himself in his pillow.

“Do we need to have a talk?” Ron asked from the doorway.

“No,” Harry replied mulishly, his voice muffled. He turned his face to the side and cracked one eye open to look at Ron. “Nothing happened – do we have to do this now? I’m tired.”

Ron gave a knowing nod. “Didn’t get much sleep? I know how that is.”

Harry took half a second to work that out, and then he bolted upright on the bed as his face flamed up. “No!” he cried, grabbing his pillow and whipping it at Ron. “I just said nothing happened – why would you even think that?!”

“Well, I don’t know, Harry,” Ron said patiently. “First you’re showering together, now you’re sleeping together…”

“It was only sleeping,” Harry bit out. He got up and stomped over to Ron, pulling him inside the room and slamming the door shut behind him. “And we didn’t shower together, not like that.”

“Uh-huh.”

“We didn’t! And I’m not–” Harry gestured helplessly. “You know.”

“If you say so.”

Ron.”

Harry.” Ron gave him a look and then rolled his eyes. Then all of a sudden he looked uncomfortable. “I have to ask,” he started haltingly, “did you ever…you know…”

Harry gave him a blank look. “…No?” he said, hazarding a guess. He really had no idea what Ron was trying to ask him.

Ron shook his head. “No, that’s not – uh…” He gave an embarrassed huff and then visibly steeled himself before blurting, “Did you ever sleep with my sister?”

What?” Harry stared at him, mortified. “If that’s your not subtle way of trying to prove I’m into blokes or something–”

“No, no!” Ron said quickly. “Totally different topic now!”

“…Oh,” Harry said. He wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or not that Ron had dropped the Malfoy issue so quickly. He gave him a wary look. “No,” he finally said, and just because Ron looked far too relieved at that, he added, “Although we did plenty of other things–”

“TOO MUCH,” Ron said loudly. “I don’t need to know! Only…” He hesitated. “Harry, I have to tell you something.”

Harry raised his eyebrows. “What is it?”

Ron deliberated for another moment more, and then suddenly a stupid grin broke out over his face. “Hermione and I have,” he announced, looking pleased and proud of himself and embarrassed all at the same time.

“Have…what?” Harry asked, brow furrowed.

“Slept together!”

Harry promptly choked and then quickly covered his ears. “Oh my God, Ron – if you don’t want to hear about what I got up to with Ginny, then I don’t want to hear about Hermione!” he cried. “She’s like my sister!”

“Sorry,” Ron said, looking anything but. He plopped down on Harry’s bed, still grinning.

Harry looked at him curiously, slowly lowering his hands. “Hang on…is this a new development?”

Ron nodded. “Last night,” he said cheerfully.

Harry’s eyes widened. “Oh…wow.”

“What?”

“We just figured – never mind.” Harry managed to dredge up a smile for him. “Congratulations, I suppose.”

“Thanks, mate!” Ron bounced his knees restlessly – probably still on some kind of adrenaline high, Harry figured. “Oh, also, we’re officially dating now.”

Harry snorted. “I’d figured that much out for myself, funnily enough,” he said dryly, moving to sit on the bed, as well. He rested back against the footboard. “Ages ago, in fact.”

“No, I mean, I finally asked her, though.”

“…Before you slept together, I hope,” Harry said faintly, in some strange mix of incredulousness and sarcasm.

Ron didn’t notice. “Oh yeah,” he said. “Of course.”

Harry laughed in slight disbelief. “You seriously never asked her before?”

“Well…” Ron looked sheepish. “No. To be honest, I don’t even know what happened. She was here over the summer, you know, for the wedding and everything. And one thing led to another…” He waved a hand around absently and shrugged. “I think it was because of the wedding, actually. All that…romance stuff in the air.”

“You’re unbelievable.”

“Shut up.” He gave Harry a pouty sort of look. “Can I really not talk to you about this kind of thing?”

“I’d rather you didn’t,” Harry said honestly. Suspecting they were…doing it…was one thing, knowing was another, and hearing all the dirty details was just not done. Harry actually liked being able to look Hermione in the face, thank you very much.

“Who am I supposed to go to, then?” Ron whined.

“Your brothers?” Harry suggested.

“Definitely not,” Ron said adamantly. “They’d take the mickey out of me forever.”

“Malfoy?”

“He’d be even worse! Wait.” Ron paused, frowning. “He’s done it?”

“Apparently,” Harry said, and when Ron raised his eyebrows in question, he elaborated, “Pansy Parkinson.”

“Ohh.” Ron nodded. “Right, right.” He grinned again and punched Harry’s knee. “Now we just have to get you in the club.”

Harry snorted. “There’s not exactly a line of girls waiting outside Grimmauld Place.” Ron got a funny, shifty sort of look and Harry narrowed his eyes at him briefly before he caught on. “Oh, for the love of – there’s nothing going on between me and Malfoy!” he said exasperatedly. “Why do you think that all of a sudden?”

“I don’t know – you’ve been really chummy lately!” Ron said defensively.

“Because we’re friends,” Harry insisted, and then immediately his eyes widened. “I mean–” But no. Against all odds, they kind of were, weren’t they? That whole secret-task-from-Voldemort-he-hadn’t-told-anyone-about issue aside, they’d been getting along fairly well the past few weeks. Still, the label didn’t sit well with Harry. Thinking of Draco like that…it was still too weird. Maybe he just needed to get used to the idea. He shifted uncomfortably.

Ron watched him for a moment, and then shrugged. “He’s not…the worst choice, I guess,” he said, though from the look on his face the words actually physically pained him to say.

Harry let out a noisy sigh. “Not twenty-four hours ago you were all prepared to toss him out on his arse.”

“Yeah, well…” Ron rubbed the back of his neck. “I reckon he’s had plenty of chances to tell someone what we’re doing or whisk you away. I guess if you trust him, then I do.”

Harry considered that. Then he grinned. “You need to shag Hermione more often if it’s going to put you in this good of a mood.”

Ron flushed slightly, and then gave him another goofy grin right back. “I wouldn’t say no to that.”

“Of course not,” Harry said wryly. “Look…I don’t like Malfoy like that. I’d never even thought about that kind of thing until Seamus and Justin…” He trailed off.

Ron raised an eyebrow. “But since then?” Harry didn’t say anything, and Ron nodded. “It wouldn’t matter,” he said carefully.

“I dated your sister,” Harry reminded him. “I like girls.”

“I’m not going to argue with you about it,” Ron said, hopping up from the bed and stretching his arms above his head. “Just know that Hermione and I? We wouldn’t care.”

“You’ve talked to Hermione about this?” Harry asked, somewhat horrified.

She talked,” Ron said. “I only listened. …She talks a lot, you know.”

“It’s good to know part of it is about my nonexistent sex life,” Harry said, dragging a hand through his hair. “Merlin…”

“A very small part.” Ron smirked. “Suppose ours will be the more interesting topic now.” Harry shot him a flat look and Ron laughed as he clapped him on the shoulder. “Come on, mate. Breakfast.”

* * *

Harry sat down at the opposite end of the table from Draco and then instantly berated himself for doing so. They’d only accidentally slept next to each other on the same bed, it really wasn’t a big deal…right? So why was he on the verge of having a panic attack? The conversation he’d just had with Ron had only thrown him even more off kilter, but who cared what he or Hermione thought they’d seen; there wasn’t anything going on between him and Draco. They’d cleared that up just last night and Harry definitely wasn’t going to revisit it now. No, everything was fine. He just needed to calm down.

With an almost sheepish look on his face, Harry slid over a couple seats toward the middle of the table in what he hoped was an inconspicuous manner.

He probably shouldn’t have even bothered because Draco was watching him in amusement the entire time. Harry pointedly didn’t look at him, but when even Ron raised an eyebrow in his direction, Harry figured he should just count himself lucky that Hermione wasn’t there, as well.

She did turn up a few minutes later, though, face flushed and hair still damp from the shower. She greeted them all cheerfully and rested a hand lightly on the back of Ron’s neck for a brief second as she walked by, which had Ron smiling dopily after her. Harry stared resolutely at his plate and tried to pretend he didn’t know just what exactly had the two of them so pleased.

“Harry, we didn’t see you again last night,” Hermione said as she fixed herself some toast. Harry nearly blurted out something along the lines of And I bet you’re glad for that, but he managed to restrain himself. “Everything alright? Did you sleep well?”

Draco, however, did not have the same brain-to-mouth filter that Harry did. “Not half as well as you did, I imagine” he quipped.

Hermione started and dropped her knife, her cheeks going a bright pink. Ron’s face went beet red and he looked at Harry accusingly. “You told Malfoy?” he hissed.

“You told Harry?” Hermione squeaked.

“I came downstairs with you,” Harry said to Ron exasperatedly. “When would I have had time to tell him?”

“Oh yeah…”

Hermione propped her hands on her waist. “Ron!”

“Oh, of course I told Harry!” Ron said, although now he looked slightly nervous. “You didn’t tell me not to tell him.”

“Well, you certainly didn’t waste any time!”

“I couldn’t help it!” Ron cried. He looked at Harry with pleading eyes, like Harry was somehow supposed to help him out here, but there was no way Harry was getting caught up in the middle of that particular argument.

Ronald. Weasley,” Hermione said, and she had that Mrs. Weasley look about her again. “There are some things that should remain private. I can’t believe you!”

“…I think I missed something,” Draco said faintly, looking back and forth between all three of them.

Harry pointed at Ron and Hermione. “These two finally–”

HARRY!” both of them shouted at the same time, wearing identical mortified looks. Harry held up his hands defensively and didn’t say anything further – he just raised his eyebrows and gave Draco a look instead.

Draco blinked. “Ohhh,” he said, and then promptly leered at Hermione. “Well, Granger, I’m impressed!” Then he paused. “Actually, no I’m not – we figured you’d been shagging since summer. You mean you haven’t?”

Hermione’s blush darkened as she whipped her head around to stare at Harry. “You talk about us?”

“Well, you talk about us!” Harry threw right back at her, and then clapped a hand over his mouth.

Draco looked amused. “Oh, do they?”

“Well–” Hermione said, flustered.

“You do,” Ron cut in. “Don’t deny it.”

Harry lowered his hand. “…Not that there’s anything to talk about,” he added belatedly. It sounded weak even to his own ears. “Obviously.”

“You wound me, Potter.”

“Shut it, Malfoy!”

Hermione blinked. “Harry?”

“It’s nothing.” Harry glared down the table at Draco. “Malfoy’s just being a prat.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Yes,” he said with an exaggerated sigh. “I do that. Can’t help it. It’s an affliction I was born with.”

“Good of you to finally admit it,” Ron said, grinning.

“It’s the first step in the recovery process.” Draco rested his elbows on the table and leaned forward with a smirk. “So, you manned up and finally did it, eh? Do we get details?”

No,” Hermione and Harry said adamantly. Ron just flushed a little and looked like he very much wished he could say yes.

Draco seemed to sense that, and he nodded. “Later,” he decided. “We should raid the liquor cabinet and make a night of it. Potter can join us – do you know some of the things he’s done with your sister? He’s not half as innocent as he looks, this one.”

“…No,” Ron said faintly, and now he looked slightly ill. “He’s pretty tight-lipped about it all.” He sent Harry a dark look, which made Harry feel exasperated all over again because it wasn’t like Ron actually wanted to know these things.

“Alright, can we just move on already?” he asked impatiently.

“Yes, please,” Hermione said, finally coming to sit down at the table. She automatically headed in Ron’s direction and then, catching herself, she turned her nose up and instead took a seat at the end of the table in the chair Harry had first sat in. Harry, Ron, and Draco exchanged amused looks. Hermione glared at them all. “Boys,” she muttered fiercely. “I’m so glad Tonks is here; I desperately need some female company.”

Oh, right. Harry had almost forgotten.

“Did the rest of the Order show up last night?” he asked.

“I think Moody did,” Ron said. “Fred and George didn’t. Probably a good thing…”

“For you,” Draco said, snorting.

“What about Kingsley?” asked Harry.

“I didn’t see him,” Hermione replied.

“Hm…well, we can ask Remus later if there’s anything we should know,” Harry said. “First things first – we need to figure out what our next move is.”

“We can’t know that until we know what the next Horcrux is,” Hermione pointed out.

Harry nodded. “Exactly. So we have to…work that out. Somehow.” He frowned. “We should probably do this somewhere else. In case anyone comes in. Upstairs, my room?”

“Sure,” Ron said, standing and carrying his plate over to the sink. Hermione and Harry did the same, before Harry realized Draco hadn’t moved.

“You coming, Malfoy?”

Draco seemed startled for a moment, but he recovered quickly. “Of course, I was just – lost in thought.”

“How’s your hand?” Hermione asked, glancing down at his blackened fingers.

“Well enough,” Draco replied. He clenched and flexed his fingers a few times, and then shrugged. “Snape’s potions came last night and I haven’t died yet, so I assume they weren’t poisonous. Which hopefully means that he did actually send what he said he was going to send, and it’s probably doing its job.”

Hermione seemed just the slightest bit exasperated. “I’m sure he did, Draco,” she said as they headed out of the kitchen. “You need to trust him a little more.” Draco scowled and flicked his wand, sending his own plate over to rest on top of the others, and then he followed them.

Once they had all piled into Harry’s room, Harry shut the door behind him and made sure it was locked while Hermione quickly cast a Muffliato charm. Ron and Draco made themselves useful by plopping down on the bed and getting comfortable against Harry’s pillows. Harry just rolled his eyes when he saw them.

“Okay,” Hermione said, instantly switching to teacher mode. “I think we should make a chart, just to remind ourselves where we stand and what we should be doing.” Harry nodded and watched as she made a few complicated looking wand movements and then began writing in the air. “The first Horcrux was the diary, yes?”

“That’s right,” Harry said. “And it’s already been destroyed.”

Hermione marked that down, her handwriting as neat in the air as it had ever been on parchment. “Next was the…?”

“Ring,” Harry supplied. “Also destroyed.”

“And then the locket,” Hermione said. “Not destroyed.”

“No, it’s still in my trunk.” Harry gave the trunk in question a slightly wary look.

“And it can stay there for a good long while,” Draco spoke up. “I don’t really fancy going through all that again anytime soon.”

“Probably not a good idea to let You-Know-Who know that we have more than one,” Ron said. “At least, not until we find out from Snape what all he knows.”

“Right,” Harry agreed. “So we’ll just leave it for the time being. Next is Hufflepuff’s cup.”

“Which we destroyed,” Hermione murmured, marking it in her chart. “Three out of four isn’t too bad.”

“Where is the cup, actually?” Ron asked.

“Also in the trunk,” Harry replied. “I brought it up yesterday.” He studied Hermione’s chart for a moment. “Then there’s the snake. Nagini. Dumbledore was pretty certain that she’s a Horcrux.” Draco raised his hand suddenly, like they actually were in class. Harry stared at him for a moment and then rolled his eyes. “Yes, Mr. Malfoy?”

Draco looked amused. “Well, Professor,” he started, playing along, “I’ve been wondering about that one since Snape first mentioned it. Are we sure that’s really possible? Can living things actually can be made into Horcruxes?”

“According to Dumbledore,” Harry said, sounding a little uncertain himself. “Voldemort does have a weird sort of connection with her, so I guess it could be true.”

Draco’s grin fell. “…A weird connection,” he repeated flatly. “Really.” Hermione gave him a sharp look, and he raised his eyebrows at her in return. Harry glanced back and forth between the two of them in confusion.

“Yeah,” he said slowly. “I think he can control her and stuff. I used to have these dreams…” He trailed off, not wanting to bring up the time that he’d been inside Nagini when she had attacked Mr. Weasley.

Draco was looking at him weirdly. And maybe Harry was just seeing things, but he seemed to have paled a little bit. Harry shifted uncomfortably.

“…So the snake,” Ron prompted after a moment, trying to steer them back on track. “She’ll be with You-Know-Who, yeah?”

Harry latched onto the new topic. “Most likely,” he said. “Snape mentioned possibly being able to help out with that one. We’ll have to ask him about it the next time we see him.”

“That still leaves the unknown Horcrux,” Hermione said.

“Which will probably be something of Gryffindor’s or Ravenclaw’s,” Harry added.

Ron made a thoughtful sound. “Well, we know that the Ravenclaw mansion burned down back when Grindelwald was around.” Hermione looked impressed that he’d remembered that from their research and gave him an encouraging nod. “So we might be able to count her out.”

Harry shook his head. “No,” he murmured. “If anything, I think it’s more likely that Voldemort found something of hers. Dumbledore said that he was pretty positive the last remaining artifact of Gryffindor’s was the sword.”

“What sword?” Draco asked.

“The one Harry used to kill the basilisk with in second year,” Ron said.

Draco blinked. “Oh right,” he said weakly. “That one.”

“Harry, I honestly don’t even know where to start with this,” Hermione said, frustration evident in her voice. She was looking at the chart they’d just made. “We’re basically back to square one again, and I don’t know how much more reading we can do. It’s not just finding out what the Horcrux is, we have to find out WHERE it is, too.”

“You realize you might be better off figuring that part out first?” Draco asked. “Think about it. You have to work out its location anyway, and once you do it doesn’t matter what’s there. It’s not as if the Dark Lord has had more than one Horcrux in each…secret hideaway or whatever, right? No fakes or anything.”

Harry and Hermione glanced at each other. “…That’s actually not a bad point,” she said. “But I’m still not sure how to go about finding the Horcrux’s location either.”

“We could ask Snape if there were any more special seaside caves,” Ron said wryly.

“Maybe it’s not such a big production to get to all of them,” Harry suggested. “It wasn’t for the ring, I don’t think. And the diary, well…” He glanced at Draco and didn’t continue.

“You’d think You-Know-Who would remember that less is more,” Ron said. “Just drop the bloody thing in the ocean and be done with it.”

“He’s too proud for that,” Harry said.

“Which we should be thankful for,” Hermione added. “We’d really be in trouble if the Horcruxes were in places that are actually impossible to get to.”

Draco’s brow furrowed a bit. “What if he did do something like that, though? If he has, what–” He glanced at the chart. “–six of these things, you’d think he might make one completely unattainable.”

“That’s not something I want to think about,” Harry muttered.

“Why six, anyway?” Draco asked.

“It splits his soul into seven total pieces,” Hermione replied, and Harry nodded.

“Dumbledore showed me a memory between Voldemort – Tom Riddle, at the time – and Slughorn,” he explained. “Voldemort was asking him if it would be possible to split the soul into that many parts.”

“Suppose that makes sense,” said Draco. “It is a fairly significant number.” He gave Harry that weird, kind of thoughtful look again, like he was trying to work something out. What, though, Harry had no idea. And for some reason, he didn’t want to ask. He had a feeling he wouldn’t like the answer. Draco suddenly looked back at the chart again. “So,” he said, “something of Gryffindor’s or Ravenclaw’s, then?”

Harry hesitated. “Theoretically,” he said. “But in reality, if the sword is the only thing that’s left between the two of them, then he could have found something else that might have belonged to Hufflepuff or Slytherin instead. That’s why we were originally looking up information about all of them.”

Ron groaned, tipping his head back onto the pillows. “I hate to say it, but I’m actually with Malfoy on this one. We should try to find out where the hell the thing is first, and forget worrying about what it is.” He sat up straight again, looking at each of the others in turn. “I think we should stop researching the Hogwarts founders and start looking up more about Tom Riddle. There’s got to be other people who knew him when he was in school; professors and classmates and such.”

Hermione looked a mix of inordinately pleased and somewhat proud all of a sudden. Harry guessed she was about two seconds away from completely forgetting her earlier irritation at Ron and snogging the living daylights out of him instead. “You’re right,” he said quickly, in an attempt to drag Ron’s attention back to him, but Hermione just spoke over him.

Absolutely right, Ron, well done!” she said, grinning. “Good idea. Harry, it’s a good idea, isn’t it?”

Draco snorted. “Yes, good boy, Weasley. You’ve managed to contribute something. Would you like a treat?” Harry watched Ron somewhat warily, waiting for an outburst, but Ron merely gave the other boy a sidelong glance and a raised eyebrow.

“Not from you, thanks,” he said lightly, to which Draco gave a haughty sniff.

“Your loss.”

“I’ll live, I’m sure.”

“It is a good idea…” Harry said, absently twirling his wand. He was frowning, though, and Ron seemed to sense that he was leaving something out.

“But?”

Harry sighed. “But Dumbledore spent years doing exactly that. He showed me every memory he’d collected that he thought would help me find the Horcruxes.”

“Maybe he missed something,” Draco said.

“It’s as good a place to start as any, at least,” Hermione said, still looking proud of Ron.

Harry didn’t really want to argue with them. And besides, it wasn’t like he had any other ideas; he was as clueless as the rest of them. “You’re right,” he said finally. “That’ll be the plan, then. We have to find out more about Tom Marvolo Riddle.”

* * *

That was easier said than done, of course.

The weather gradually grew cooler as they rolled into November. As the days passed, Harry tried to make an effort to keep up with what the Order was doing. From what he could gather, they were planning to retake the Ministry, but no one seemed to want to tell him anything in any great detail. It was as though they all unknowingly agreed with Snape that he was better off left out of things.

Harry liked to think that Remus was actually just very aware they were busy with their other mission and had told everyone else as much, and they were therefore allowing them the space to focus on that. And, as frustrating as it was to not be included in Order business, he knew his attention was needed elsewhere, so he tried not to fight it too much.

Hermione had written to Professor McGonagall almost immediately to ask her for help with finding out more about Tom Riddle. Apparently there was an entire section of the Hogwarts library that housed only collections of student names and information, sorted into books by school years. Harry hadn’t even realized such books existed, but McGonagall had seven large tomes delivered to them within just a few days, one for each of the years Riddle had been at Hogwarts.

He was squinting at one of them – specifically at a picture of a teenaged Tom Riddle standing in front of a portrait of an armed Salazar Slytherin and trying to figure out what about it seemed…familiar – when the owls came.

“Looks like we got a letter from Snape,” Ron said as he untied a bundle of mail from one of the owl’s legs. “At least, I think it’s from Snape, anyway.”

Hermione gave a knut to the other owl and took her copy of the Daily Prophet in return before she shooed it away. Then she turned toward Ron. “What does it say?”

“…Not a lot.” He flattened the parchment out on the bed he and Harry were lounging on so they could all read it.


He knows. Wait for further direction from me.


“Wow, don’t elaborate or anything,” Harry muttered. “Can’t risk being helpful.”

“Harry, you know he has to be careful with what he says,” Hermione said in Snape’s defense.

Harry sighed. “I know. But it’s frustrating.”

“It’s not that complicated.” Hermione glanced at the letter again, and then began flipping through the Daily Prophet. “Now we know you really can’t leave Grimmauld Place.”

“That’s not the point,” Harry said with a scowl. He looked up when Draco pushed through the door into the room, carrying a cup of tea and a plate of food. The other boy blinked at the annoyed look on Harry’s face.

“What?” he asked, frowning. “I was hungry.”

Ron snorted. “It’s not you.” He waved Snape’s letter around. “Finally heard back from Snape.”

Draco’s brow furrowed. “Oh,” he said. “Nothing good, I take it?”

“Of course not,” Harry said. “When do we ever get good news?”

“There’s a first time for everything.”

“Not today there isn’t.”

“Harry,” Hermione said suddenly as looked up from the paper, her face slightly pale. She didn’t wait for him to answer and just shoved the Daily Prophet into his hands.

Harry looked down at the article in front of him and promptly scowled again.


FORMER DEATH EATERS PARDONED AND RELEASED FROM AZKABAN
Ministry confirms the use of the Imperius Curse on a wide range of Pureblood families.



He didn’t need to read the rest of it.

“There it is,” he murmured. “Tonks was right.”

“Clever that it’s not on the front page,” Draco commented lightly from where he was looking over Harry’s shoulder. His hands clenched tightly around the dishes he was holding. “It won’t cause immediate alarm that way; it seems less important.”

Harry glanced further down the page. Lucius Malfoy’s picture glowered up at him from a row of Azkaban photos showing the prisoners who had been let go.

“Look, your dad,” Ron said, pointing from where he was sitting on the other side of the bed.

“Yes, brilliant observation, Weasley.”

Hermione crowded in around Harry, reading over his shoulder, as well. “This article is nothing but rubbish,” she said fiercely, sounding honestly offended.

Harry rolled his eyes. “Of course it is,” he said. “They can print whatever they damn well please now.” He tossed the paper aside and rubbed at his eyes beneath his glasses before looking at Draco. “You have to let us know if he contacts you.”

Draco frowned. “There’s no if about it. I’m positive he will.” He sat down beside Harry, forcing the other boy to quickly pull his legs in, and fidgeted nervously. “…I don’t like that he’s out,” he said in a low voice. “With him around, it’s sure to remind the Dark Lord about me. And I don’t want him focusing on me.”

“I doubt he ever just forgot about you,” Harry said.

“No,” Draco agreed. “But he obviously had other things going on.” He gestured in an irritated way at the newspaper. “My father…he’ll want me there. And the Dark Lord will want me back – with you in hand, I’m sure.”

Harry nodded and rubbed absently at his scar. He really wished that Snape had been a little more specific in the brief note he’d sent. He wanted to know whether Snape had meant that Voldemort knew about the Horcruxes, about Draco being with Harry, or worst case scenario – both.

Draco picked absently at the food he’d brought up, and then gave a loud sigh. “Here, Weasley,” he said, passing him the plate. “I seem to have lost my appetite.” Ron’s eyes lit up and he accepted the plate without question, which made Hermione roll her eyes. Draco took a sip of his tea and glanced over at the book Harry had been looking at. “What are you reading?”

“Nothing,” Harry said, frowning down at the page again.

“Well, nothing’s got you focusing awfully hard.” Draco leaned over to get a closer look, his brow furrowing a bit. “Who’s that?”

“Voldemort.”

Draco choked on the sip of tea he had just taken.

That’s the Dark Lord?!” he exclaimed.

Harry nodded. “When he was sixteen.”

“But he looks – normal,” Draco said in disbelief. “Nothing about him is even remotely the same now!”

“Well. He kind of died and all,” Ron said. “Sort of.”

“Yeah, he lost his body the night he gave me this.” Harry gestured at his scar. “And I was there when he got his new one.”

Draco was still gaping at the picture. “That’s just…bloody strange, honestly.” He quickly downed the rest of his tea and set the cup on the floor by his feet, and then he grabbed the book out of Harry’s hands and held it close to get a better look. “So, what, were you just captivated by his dashing good looks? I can’t say that’s not creepy as hell, Potter, but if he’s more your type then I guess if you ignore that he’s an evil psychopath–”

“Okay, stop,” Harry interrupted. “And also, shut up. I wasn’t staring at him, for fuck’s sake.” He pointed at the picture in question, and both Ron and Hermione leaned in as well. “There’s a portrait of Salazar Slytherin in the background.”

“Ah.” Draco narrowed his eyes slightly. “I recognize it, actually. It’s in the Slytherin common room. That must be where this picture was taken.”

Ron made a soft sound of realization. “Yeah, I remember now,” he said.

“So do I…” Harry said slowly. But that didn’t seem completely right. There was something else about it, something Harry was sure he had seen before. He wished the young Tom Riddle would move out of the way so he could get a better look at Slytherin. As it was, he could only see the sword the man was holding and half of a shining silver shield. He thought there might be a serpent on it.

Draco’s head snapped up abruptly and he pinned a hard look on Harry first and then Ron. “I’m sorry, what?” he asked. “There’s nothing for you two to remember, you haven’t been inside the Slytherin common room.”

“Er…” Harry exchanged glances with Ron and Hermione, who both looked amused. Ron also seemed more than a bit smug. “Actually, Ron and I kind of…have.”

“When?” Draco demanded. “That’s such a load of bollocks, you haven’t been – when?!”

“Oh, second year,” Ron said, idly scratching his chin. “You were there.”

“I was not!” Draco said, color quickly filling his face. “I would have noticed you two idiots lurking about. How the hell did you get in?!”

“You let us in,” Harry said with a grin.

Draco glared at him. “That’s not possible, Potter. Now I know you’re lying.”

“I’m really not!” Harry said, laughing. “It was over Christmas. You stayed at Hogwarts that year.”

“I don’t buy it.” Draco crossed his arms over his chest. “You’re just having me on.”

“Oh, just tell him,” Hermione said, and then she proceeded to do so herself before Harry or Ron could speak. “They Polyjuiced themselves into Crabbe and Goyle.”

Draco eyes went so wide that Harry couldn’t help laughing again.

“But – what – why?” Draco spluttered. He wrinkled his nose and continued in a highly skeptical tone, “You mean I actually talked to you?”

Harry nodded. “Yep.”

“And I didn’t notice?”

“Not even a little,” said Ron.

“Well, that’s…” Draco trailed off for a moment, searching for words, and then his shoulders slumped and he scowled. “Pathetic, actually,” he grumbled. “How the hell did you lot manage to brew Polyjuice potion when you were twelve?”

“Seriously?” Ron asked. He pointedly looked across at Hermione, and then raised an eyebrow at Draco.

“…Right, should have guessed that one on my own,” Draco said with a slight roll of his eyes. “Hermione the Muggle-born genius. I swear.” There was no bite or sarcasm to his words, so they ended up coming out sounding almost like a compliment. Ron blinked and Hermione looked slightly surprised. Harry looked down, trying to hide his sudden smile.

“Don’t think too highly of me,” Hermione said after a moment. “I managed to halfway turn myself into a cat.”

Ron burst out laughing, and Hermione reached across Harry to smack his shoulder. “You should have seen her,” he said, leaning away from her attack and grinning full stop. “She had the ears and fur – everything!”

“And a tail,” Harry said, chuckling. “There was definitely a tail.”

Draco smirked a bit. “Was there ever a time you weren’t off having adventures while the rest of us were stuck studying?”

“Not really,” Ron said.

“Maybe a week or two here and there,” Harry added.

Hermione shook her head. “They’re exaggerating, Draco; I studied all the time.”

Draco gave her an amused look. “Well, I don’t doubt that. Why were you even trying to get into Slyther–ow!” He cut off, grabbing his arm suddenly.

Harry sat up immediately. “What is it? What happened, are you okay?”

“Fine,” Draco grunted. He let out a low hiss, looking down at his Dark Mark. “It’s just the mark.”

“Why?” Ron asked, frowning. He looked at Harry. “Does your scar hurt, mate?”

“No…” Harry dragged the back of his hand across it anyway. “I don’t feel anything.”

“You wouldn’t,” Draco said. He’d paled a little and had a worried look on his face. “This is something different. He’s called a meeting.”

“With his Death Eaters?” Hermione asked.

Draco nodded. “All of them. Even me – and I haven’t been contacted in months.”

Harry let out a slow breath. “It’s a test,” he said. Draco looked up and met his eyes, and Harry could tell that he’d guessed that much already.

“I think you’re right,” he said. “After tonight…he’ll know for sure I’m not with him anymore.”

“That’s…okay, right?” Harry asked, trying to keep the uncertainty out of his voice. “You don’t want to go, do you?”

Draco stared at him for a long moment, and then let out an exasperated sigh. “Look, this is the last time I’m going to say this. To all of you.” He glanced briefly at Ron and Hermione, and then turned so he was sitting facing Harry directly. “It’s done, alright? It’s over, I can’t go back to him anymore and I don’t want to. I made my decision months ago and I don’t think I even realized it.”

Harry held Draco’s gaze the entire time he was speaking, and nearly forgot the other two were even in the room. A weird, warm feeling was blooming in his chest. He swallowed nervously at the intensity in Draco’s eyes, and saw Draco do the same before he said one more thing.

“Potter, I’m yours.”



This might be the last weekly update for now -- sorry!! Fall is always a really busy season for me with work and everything. I'll try to get something up maybe biweekly from now on? No longer than that!

Reviews are very much appreciated!! :D

~Maxine


next chapter




You can also read it at Skyehawke.

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