Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, settings, or spells. I am only borrowing them to entertain myself and a few others. Don't make me stop this car, do you hear me?


Chapter Five - The Party

By Ivy Blossom


Hermione was the first to arrive, with her latest beau. He was a nice fellow, dark-haired, seemed fairly intelligent. He worked for the ministry. And he was a muggle. Harry was relieved to see that he didn't look nervous at all. He had come to dread parties with nervous muggles. They kept jumping if anyone dropped anything, and blanched when a wand came out. Hermione had been seeing this one for some time, and Harry thought he remembered him from some meetings at the Ministry a few years ago. So nothing that would happen at this party should be any surprise to him, in spite of the fact that this was his first appearance in Ron and Harry's flat.

He hugged Hermione as her friend (what was his name again?) hung up their coats while Ron eyed him pensively. It was no secret to Harry that Ron had a longstanding crush on Hermione, but he had yet to do anything about it. Her parade of 'friends' did nothing to encourage him. She hugged Harry back tightly, then looking concernedly into his face. "How are you feeling, Harry?" she asked. No one wanted to go into details, not at a social event, but she could hardly hide her concern. She had read about the potion he was taking, and the fact that it was modified, which indicated to her that it's side effects were unknown. It was as if she were watching for him to suddenly sprout wings.

Harry smiled. "I'm fine! Really, I'm just fine." He wasn't lying. The last two weeks had gone very smoothly. Draco had been right; shortly after he had left, the potion had begun easing the scissor-hold Voldemort's pain and anger seemed to have on Harry's brain. He had been drinking a cup of the stuff every morning for the past two weeks, and though he did still have to endure some vague impressions first thing in the morning (sensations of cold, painful, tingling fingers, a white, stiff-looking face whose lips moved soundlessly, bloodied limbs, water dripping) Voldemort was for the most part out of his brain.

Other than feeling a bit stretched, like too little paint scraped across too large a canvas, he was doing quite well. Draco was landing fewer hits on him in their fencing sessions, and his concentration was back to normal. He had been in almost constant contact with Dumbledore, and the Ministry was taking the evidence at hand fairly seriously, though a few felt that this was some kind of cruel joke. But all the same it had been very quiet; too quiet. No intelligence was coming in at all at about Voldemort's return, or anything else. They were working hard on building defenses, but who had taken the charm, and how it could possibly have been accomplished given the impossibly tight security around it, was still a mystery. Draco had been contacted numerous times about it, and he very keeping very tight-lipped about what he knew, which, Harry suspected, was a fair bit more than the rest of them.

Hermione smiled at him, and whispered, "So…is…HE coming?" She gave him a look that was somewhere between 'oh you naughty thing' and 'is this really a good idea?', and he grinned broadly at her.

"Well, HE has been invited, and HE has agreed to come. We'll see if he does or not." She raised her eyebrows in mock surprise. Harry shook hands with Hermione's friend, who's name turned out to be Edmund. Ron greeted Hermione warmly, ignoring Edmund to the best of his ability.

Shortly after them, Seamus arrived, bearing a large bottle of his favourite Scotch. "I bought this in the Orkneys, Harry! Nothing's too good for you!"

"Does that mean you intend to share?" Ron asked, as Seamus grinned fiendishly and poured himself a shot.

A group from Ministry arrived, thankfully minus Susan Goldsmith (Too bad THAT hadn't ended better, Harry thought), followed quickly by a handful of Ron and Harry's intramural quidditch team. Ginny, Fred, and George arrived together, followed by Neville, who no one had seen in ages. The mood was light; most people had met, and those who hadn't were rapidly getting acquainted. Harry enjoyed having this particular group of people visit, because it required so little work on his part. Fred and George were constant entertainers, Seamus was happy as long as he was near the Scotch, and Hermione simply didn't tolerate men who couldn't hold their own at a party. Ron was keeping her occupied, talking to her as if he hadn't just seen her yesterday, when she came over for dinner. Harry grabbed a drink himself and fell into a crowd watching George and Fred pass out exploding candies, which most people knew well enough to avoid, but Neville seemed to be only to happy to test out for them.

When Draco arrived, he was almost an hour late. Harry felt it in the room before he turned and saw him. The details of Draco's betrayal three years ago were not widely known. It was known, certainly, that Draco had been the instrument for Voldemort to get into Hogwarts, and to get at Harry, but the messy details of how, including the year of torture Draco had endured, were not publicized. Only a precious few were in the know about it to start with. Though Draco had been working for the ministry for nearly two years, most people had had no contact with him at all. Harry hadn't known Draco was so close by himself until he read the full confession four months ago. Unlike his father, Draco had not gone out of his way to make his presence felt at the Ministry. His moment in the spotlight had been highlighted by pictures of his haughty face accompanying damning articles in the Daily Prophet, swirls of rumour and innuendo, interviews with childhood friends and rivals, as well as by a great feeling of celebration as large numbers of Death Eaters were rounded up and imprisoned. Shortly thereafter he had been largely forgotten.

Draco's work with the Ministry hadn't made front page news; in fact, most of it had been classified. Harry himself wasn't entirely sure what Draco did. The actions of Unspeakables weren't something to be discussed at all, let alone over breakfast. At Harry and Ron's flat that night, however, most people were aware that Draco was no longer officially a Death Eater, and had been useful to the Ministry in recent years. Only a handful of them knew that Harry had reconciled with him, and he could count on one hand the people who knew that he was seeing him.

Harry had not been precisely forthcoming about his relationship with Draco, though he wasn't particularly secretive about it, either. As far as he was concerned, it was still fairly casual, and up until then he had liked it that way. The fact was that he felt drawn to Draco, and had for a very long time. Years of sniping at each other hadn't diminished this fact. Three years of trying to hate him hadn't done anything to ease it either. When they had met again at Hogwarts, when Draco had been sent to seduce him, it had been too easy to succumb. Later Harry had written it off as pure physical attraction, teenage lust, possibly even just simple obsession. In reality it was far more complicated than that.

He hadn't known, when he had embraced Draco at Three Broomsticks, what would happen afterward. The truth was he was nominally involved with a girl at work at the time, and had thought that he had left this obsession with Draco Malfoy behind him. Evil can be very seductive. I'm hardly the first to fall prey to that. Besides, Harry had innocently hoped that he could rescue him, somehow; that if she showed Draco that he cared about him, gave him another option…but he had never been involved with Draco, not really. How many times can someone you've never been involved with break your heart?

Some months ago, Draco had asked him to spend an evening with him. They had already met several times for lunch, and had but never anything more than at the sandwich joint across the street from Harry's department. Harry had almost hesitated to say yes, unsure of how to really justify it to himself, ostensibly trusting Draco again, letting himself be tempted. He was attracted to Draco, wanted to forgive him, wondered if the pressure of Draco's chest against his own, lips against his own, would make it any easier. He suspected it would not. And yet, he had agreed. It was nearly Christmas time, and Draco had taken him out for an elegant dinner. He had been extremely witty, which Harry had already come to expect. From there, Draco took him to a large, comfortable concert hall. They wound their way up a series of plush stairs into a private balcony.

"You come here a lot?" Harry asked, sitting in one of the large red seats.

Draco snorted. "That sounds like a pick-up line, Potter." He handed Harry a program.

"Mmm…a Malfoy watching muggles sing? Interesting." Draco shot him a cool look, and then smiled.

"Well. First off, we don't know for a fact that they're muggles." Harry half-stifled a laugh at this, which Draco ignored. "Second, this is Handel's Messiah. Everyone knows Handel was a wizard." He paused. "You did know that, right?" Harry looked at him. Draco squinted. "Okay. Those not raised by muggles know that. Handel was a wizard. He was so good even the muggles couldn't ignore him."

Harry sank back into the deep, padded seat, momentarily fighting Draco for control of the armrest. The lights dimmed, a large choir proceeded onto the stage. The music began, and he turned, seeing Draco watching him instead of the stage. He had expected to feel anxious about this, with Draco's feelings written so plainly on his face, but he wasn't. He found it oddly comforting, and smiled, watching the choir sing below.

He was wounded for our transgressions,

The choir sang.

He was bruised for our iniquities:

The chastisement of our peace was upon Him.

And with His stripes we are healed.

Harry looked over at Draco, seeing his eyes shut now. He found it a profound experience, watching Draco listen. He looked so fierce and so vulnerable. It was ancient music, hundreds of years old, preserved from year to year, sung the same way, telling the same story, as if it were new, as if they didn't already know it already. As if they didn't know what would happen next. Harry shut his eyes too. He felt, as well as heard, the soaring sopranos, the rumbling bass.

Thy rebuke hath broken His heart;

He is full of heaviness.

Draco reached over and took Harry's hand, stroking his fingers slowly with his thumb.

He looked for some to have pity on Him,

but there was no man, neither found He any to comfort Him.

Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow.

It was that night that Harry had first seen the inside of Draco's flat, the inside of Draco's bedroom, and, without any real hesitation, felt the texture Draco's sheets against his back. And it had been sweet, intense, tender, demanding; a challenge, a request, a reclamation, a confession, an apology, a reparation. Draco had a lot to say to Harry and no words at all in his arsenal; he relied entirely on his skin, his lips, the rhythm of his heartbeat, his hips, the play of his fingers, his tongue, his hair slipping over Harry's skin to relay a thousand different messages. He spoke to Harry with the response of his body, with shivers, jolts, with the tenor of his breathing, the sway of his thighs. He spoke with the intensity of his eyes, the cadence of his lips, caressing tingling flesh, his empathetic desire, need, to give Harry whatever he wanted, to fulfill whatever desire he considered, dreamed up, hoped for. Harry was speechless; he could only respond in kind.

His head resting on Draco's chest, feeling his lungs expand and contract, Harry felt shaken. Overwhelmed, overcome, he felt as if Draco had reached inside of him and rubbed a long untouched muscle, scratched an ancient itch, and Harry wanted that sensation. He felt at once relieved and nervous. He sat up, and sighed, rubbing one hand absently on Draco's chest. He turned, and saw Draco's stormy eyes watching him. He ran his fingers through that mussed, fine hair, leaning down to slide his tongue over his lips, kissing him gently. "I have to go." He said. Draco closed his eyes and nodded. It was 3am, and it a hard, cold rain was pelting the windows.

Now, watching Draco walk into the apartment, bottle of wine in hand, looking poised and only self-conscious if you knew what Draco looked like when he's self-conscious, Harry smiled. He acknowledged, comfortably, that he liked Draco. And that was not a meaningless acknowledgement. He walked over to him, smiling. Harry knew that Draco loved him, though he had only said so once, and then under serious duress. He knew that Draco loved him in the same way that he knew the sun would rise the next morning. But Harry also knew that loving him didn't stop Draco from betraying him, that it didn't make him something he wasn't. It didn't make Draco safe, trustworthy, decent, just, loyal, or kind. Aside from the fact that Draco's love for him was one of the more important things Harry could think of, it was also very nearly irrelevant. Loving him back at this point was a given, and Harry didn't see the point or the need for announcing it. It would only put them into a position of pretending it meant something practical.

"Draco. I'm so glad you came."

Draco smiled, and nodded. He has no idea how close I came to staying home. He took off his coat and draped it over a hanger, pressing it into an already over-full closet. He looked around, seeing face after face that looked, if not startled to see him, at least apprehensive, and his heart sank a little. Well, good thing I took a nap this afternoon. It would be a long night. He caught Neville Longbottom, back pressed against the far wall, looking at him with a shocked and frightened look on his face. Draco looked back at Harry. "I expect you're the only one who's prepared to express that sentiment, Potter."

Harry grinned at him, and draped an arm over his shoulder, his fingers very deliberately brushing the back of his neck. Draco looked at him questioningly. They had never explicitly agreed that their relationship, whatever form it was taking, was a secret, but Harry had certainly made a point of keeping the whole thing pretty low profile. Until a couple of weeks ago, Draco hadn't even been sure Harry had told Ron about how far along things actually were. Not that Draco blamed him. He hardly understood it himself, and he was fairly sure that Harry's Gryffindor friends, who knew him exclusively as their personal tormentor, and his co-workers at the ministry, who remembered him as the turncoat Death Eater who had betrayed Dumbledore and Harry to Voldemort, wouldn't be any closer to reconciling themselves to the idea. He twisted his lips, sighed, and resigned himself.

With no preliminaries, Harry leaned in and kissed him, teasing his lips with his tongue. Draco could hear the room go quiet. He wasn't sure where to put his hands. Somewhere in the room, someone dropped a glass, which shattered. Draco almost laughed. He heard Hermione clear her throat and offer to help clean up the mess. Then suddenly, everyone in the room started talking at once. When Harry released him, he was grinning wickedly. Is this his way of introducing me to his friends?

"Well, Potter. That was dramatic." Draco licked his lips.

Harry laughed. "Well, I have some dramatic flair. Besides, what would you rather, swing from my arm all evening, explaining the whole thing over and over?"

"Hmm. Perhaps you're right. Now I'm going to have the pleasure of getting lynched alone in a corner." He gave Harry a half-grin. "I need a drink, " he informed him.

George and Fred suddenly appeared on each side of Harry, smiling broadly. Fred started. "Aw, Harry!" he whined. "We didn't get a greeting like that! We're jealous!" Harry laughed, and watched Draco smirk.

"He was probably just debating which of the two of you would be the better snogger." The twins roared, clapping Draco on the back, and were rewarded with a look of mild apprehension. He moved to pour himself some wine while George offered him a chocolate as a peace offering, which he wisely declined. Harry felt himself pulled backward by Hermione, who pulled him away from the twins and the crowd they engendered. Several people were moving closer to get a better look at Draco, and to see if the twins would manage to pull any over on him.

"Gods, Harry! I would hardly have expected to you make such a scene!" She laughed. "You'll be the talk of the party now." Ron was pushing his way toward them, when Harry heard laughter erupt from the twins and their crowd of admirers. Harry looked over and saw Draco's cool, smug look, and guessed that Draco had just landed a good verbal barb.

"Harry, could you have made that any more shocking?" Ron shook his head. Hermione turned and saw Ginny sitting dejectedly in the corner. It would not be news to anyone (except perhaps The Boy Who Lived himself) that she had been hoping to swoop in and nab Harry after his tryst with Susan Goldsmith was fully over and done with. No one had ever informed her that her pool of rivals for Harry's heart were of both sexes. She took a long drink from a bottle of muggle beer. Hermione shook her head. "Well, I guess everyone needs a little shock now and again."

Draco had a very good evening. He and the Weasley twins managed to animate most of the food available, resulting in only one bowl of dip landing square on the floor, and Draco himself had managed to concoct a glass full of liquid that retracted the harder a person attempted to tip it back, which thoroughly confused Neville and delighted onlookers. At one point in the evening he noted the scowl Ron was reserving especially for Edmund the Muggle. He meandered toward him. He was standing next to the shrimp ring, after all.

"I recognize the look you're shooting at Granger's boy toy, Weasley. I believe that is the patented stare of death I perfected in third year? I hope I get my royalties by owl in the morning." He pulled out a shrimp, grimaced, and put it back.

Ron grunted. "Mind your own, Malfoy." Draco blinked.

"Ah, so I'm imagining it? You're not lusting after the whiz kid? You're perfectly okay with her getting whisked off her feet by some suave little wizard like…what's his name again?"

"Edmund. And he's NOT a wizard. He's a muggle."

Draco started. "Oh. Well. That one's a muggle? Gods. What does she see in that?" Ron shrugged. Draco stared at Edmund. "Wow, you really can't tell by looking, can you. Heh. Well, I'm sure it will be temporary."

Ron looked at Draco thoughtfully. "You think so?"

Draco shrugged. "How could it not be? He'll never understand her. He'll never be able to talk with her about those strange spells she studies. Think about it. She likes a challenge. How challenging can that be?" He looked distastefully at Edmund, and then at the shrimp, and poured himself a glass of wine.

Ron grunted, watching Hermione laugh at some story Edmund was telling her. "Is that what you're doing with Harry? Is he a challenge?"

Draco swirled the wine in his glass. He considered punching Ron in the face for that comment, but remembered his promise to Harry. "Potter is just Potter." He sipped at his wine. It was just then, when people were just starting to consider heading back home to their beds, when a white shimmer appeared in the middle of the room.

At first some people thought this was another Draco/Fred/George prank and laughed. But it quickly became apparent that this was no prank.

The figure of a man appeared in the middle of the room. He wore tattered, torn, clothing, his face was bleeding, his silver-blond hair a wild halo around his head. His eyes were bloodshot and red-rimmed, his lips moved silently, he looked as though he was yelling, and then screaming, pointing fingers, pulling at his hair. They could hear nothing, as if the man were encased in glass, pounding against walls they couldn't see. His eyes trolled around blindly, and his lips formed a single word:


The man was Lucius Malfoy.

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