Author's Notes: Okay, this part is a lemonish sort of deal as well. You can thank Abaddon for that, it was really his idea. :) so: Be warned: this portion of the fic is NC-17. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks to Lunarennui and Miss Breed for the help with this part, who suffered through the first drafts of this part. You have my gratitude forever. Thanks for the reviews everyone, they really do help. In fact, one particular bit of feed back (you know who you are) convinced me to alter the ending I had planned for this fic. *rubs hands together evilly* More soon! Thanks again!

Disclaimer: I still don't own these folks. J.K. Rowling does. I'm not sure she'd want to claim them after I'm through with them, though.


Chapter Twelve - Metaphysical

By Ivy Blossom


I fear I have nothing to give
I have so much to lose here in this lonely place
Tangled up in our embrace
There's nothing I'd like better than to fall

-- Sarah Maclaughlin, Fear

Harry's eyes flew open in the middle of the night, unsure of what had woken him. Draco lay silent and unmoving against his back, his arm draped over Harry's waist, his even breathing tracing vague but familiar patterns on the back of Harry's neck. Harry stroked Draco's arm, noting that his movements in the night, even this deliberate touch, had ceased to waken him. The first time he had spent the night, Harry suspected that Draco hadn't slept at all. The first several nights, he had jumped awake every time Harry shifted, rolled over, coughed. If Harry cried out in his sleep (which he did with some regularity; partly a result of the images he still received from Voldemort, and partly from his private ghosts which still haunted him), Draco was awake before his shout ended, gripping him protectively, always unsure if some beast had crawled in through the window, a Death Eater was rapping at the door, or if he had himself done something to elicit that strangled scream. Draco would wrap his arms around him, press his lips against his neck, still half asleep. Sometimes he would whisper words that made varying degrees of sense ("Where?" "Don't go." "I'm sorry." "Shhhh.") Harry traced his fingers along the bony ridge of Draco's forearm from his wrist to his elbow, and slid his palm slowly back down to his hand, which was pressed limply against Harry's chest. I suppose he's getting used to it, Harry thought. The idea pleased him. Even in sleep, Draco knew his touch, and did not fear it.

He couldn't get the vision of Draco's glowing body out of his mind. Harry knew about the scars, of course. He had found them years ago, in a dusty office at Hogwarts in the middle of the night. They had confused him at first, but he had realized that these wounds had probably been ceremonial. His several encounters with Voldemort, and Death Eaters generally, had prepared him for the fact that the blood of some could be useful and valuable. Now, after spending years working in the field, the scars surprised him even less. Surprised him less, but horrified him more. That knife had cut Draco far deeper than the scars could ever attest; it had scratched cruelly into his soul and left it broken, it had ground twisted words onto his bones, where now, tracing his hand lightly over Draco's arm, Harry imagined he could read them like Braille. Pain, hatred, cry, destroy, ruin, break. Harry had known that there were scars, and that there were many of them. Although they were mostly invisible, a careful touch would finally reveal them all, one by one; thin seams against Harry's tongue, small outcroppings in the well-mapped geography of Draco's skin. Even now, after nearly five months of exploring this pale, wiry body, Harry still found new scars, and lavished great attention on them when he did. He had wanted to claim them, redefine them, he wanted to embrace them and accept them the same way he was trying to embrace and accept Draco himself.

He sighed, rubbing Draco's wrist, feeling the certainty, the mundane reality of those hard bones, that comfortable skin. He had seen a silver spiral on that wrist a few hours before, sitting on a stem of a long, wavy line that wound from his elbow to his thumb. He had seen glowing lines on Draco's flesh that now bore no marks at all. For a moment, he had been witness to marks that robbed Draco of his blood, his dignity, his innocence, but did not have the courage to leave an imprint on that brave skin. Marks that had bled and healed clean, as if their presence could go unnoticed. Harry could no longer distinguish between where Draco had been betrayed and where he had been let alone; his whole body was a scar.

Draco had revealed the glowing marks only momentarily. He quickly put his shirt back on, shivering a little, and sat down again next to Harry on the couch. In a casual tone, he went on to explain some details about the goblin spell, the process by which the blood would be transferred, and so forth. Ron and Hermione said nothing. He ambled forward, positively blasÚ. "Something like this would be dangerous on two fronts; first, because there's a possibility that the wrong characteristic was tagged, an obstacle which must have been overcome, or else would wouldn't be having this conversation. Second, the biological implications of transferring someone else's blood into your own veins…well, the possibility of rejection, I imagine, would be huge." Hermione nodded encouragingly, biting her lip. Draco sighed. "Well, in any case. I suppose we've figured out the how. And that's a great relief. I've been sweating over this goddamn question for weeks. No one was even close on this one." Harry noticed that he could see the glow of silver lines under the sleeve of Draco's shirt slowly fading. Draco did not look down. "Now," he continued. "I wonder who it was."

"Who it was?" Ron asked. "Well, isn't it clear? It must have been your mother."

Hermione shot him a glare, and Draco looked at him coldly. "We don't know that. We know that she had the knife, and that she was in Africa. She often goes abroad with Death Eaters, my father always like to have her with him. She's a good hostess and she speaks several languages. She's…useful in her own way to them. I would be surprised if she were…heavily involved." Ron looked doubtful, but said nothing.

"We should talk to Dumbledore. Now." Hermione looked stern.

Dumbledore had listened grimly to their news. It had been Hermione who had explained it, as Draco clearly looked spent. He rubbed his temples and added details to the account she gave, but for the most part looked away distractedly. Ron, feeling awkward, got up and made some tea, which everyone accepted with thanks.

"Well. At least this will help clear your name with the ministry, Draco. I'm glad to hear that, at least. Now. I will contact them immediately and work toward bringing this situation under control. You all look as though you could use some rest. I do hope you take it. You will hear from me shortly. Well done, and be safe."

Draco had indeed looked tired. And now he slept peacefully, an arm wrapped around Harry, who could not sleep at all. He felt suddenly the weight of how much he did not know and did not understand about the enigma next to him. On one hand, Draco was arguably one of the strongest people Harry knew; he could take on Death Eaters without flinching; he could face down a screaming mob clamouring for his death and not lose his dignity or his cool; he could face his own betrayal and wake up in the morning next to the man he had betrayed. Yes, even this peaceful posture had come at a high cost to Draco. Harry recognized that Draco struggled, that coming to him, and staying with him, had not been the easiest road. And this was the other side of this contradiction who shared his bed; he was so afraid. It was easy for Harry to forget this, and he usually did. Each time he remembered it was a kind of revelation, a complete surprise. Draco hid his fear well, and Harry had no idea what he was so afraid of. It was easy to pretend that Draco's relationship with him was just the same as Harry's was with Draco. But now, tracing patterns on Draco's elbow, Harry recognized that he struggled every day for simple things. He struggled over what to say, where to place his head, when to kiss him. Whether to close his eyes or open them, whether to speak at all or stay silent. Harry respected this. He respected the bravery of a man who would chose to struggle rather than run.

He felt Draco sigh heavily against his skin, felt knees brushing against the back of his thighs. Draco's hand, now thankfully free of marks, silver or otherwise, rubbed lazily up and down Harry's chest and he felt lips against his neck. Draco shifted again, and Harry felt a smooth chest pressing against his shoulder blades. Those lips had trailed up to his shoulder and Harry felt teeth quickly sink into his skin.

"Ouch!" Harry jumped. He moved to squirm away, but Draco's hand against his chest had become strong, pinning him in place. Harry rubbed the sore spot with his fingers and rolled onto his back instead, falling neatly into the curve of Draco's arm, which was now propping up his tired head.

"That was for waking me up," Draco said groggily. Harry laughed.

"I'm sorry. I couldn't sleep." He slid a hand across Draco's bare hip and kneaded his buttocks firmly, lifting his head to take Draco's lower lip between his teeth. Draco smiled and kissed him, pressed him back against the pillow, crawling on top of him. Harry shifted his legs, rubbing his thighs against Draco's hips, teasing his calves with his toes.

Draco hmmed sleepily, looking down at Harry. "And ergo, nor can I." He buried his face in the waiting neck beneath him while Harry's hands played thoughtfully over his back. The memory of those marks burned into his brain, Harry sought them out; the curving lines at the nape of his neck, grids between his shoulder blades, long, slim lines slipping over his shoulders, a loose star in the small of his back. Harry's fingers searched for them, and found nothing. He claimed them anyway, commanding them into existence and caressing them away again. He sighed, wrapping his arms tightly around Draco's slight frame. Draco's tongue grazed his earlobe.

"Something's wrong," he said quietly. Harry wasn't sure if he meant this as a question or a statement. Draco's voice was rough with sleep, but also with something else. He thought about fear again, and wondered if that was it.

Harry sighed. "Well. A lot of things are wrong, aren't they. God, almost everything. But no, not exactly. I was thinking about you." Draco said nothing. He sighed and rested his head against Harry's chest, long eyelashes fluttering, his mouth slightly open against his skin. "There's so much I don't know about you. That's all." Harry ran his fingers through Draco's hair rhythmically.

Draco hmmed again. "Most of it you don't want to know. Believe me." His voice was muffled against Harry's skin. He felt Draco's heartbeat against his stomach. It sped rapidly and then faltered, sped again uncertainly, and slowed. His breath, pressed out against Harry's chest, was uneven. Harry touched the tense shoulders that rested against him. He shivered a little, and Harry grabbed up his blankets, along with a green and white quilt Mrs. Weasley had made for him, and wrapped it around both of them. Awake, pressed against him, Draco felt so different from the gentle, easy posture of that body that had curled, asleep, against Harry's back. He felt Draco's hands shifting slowly, one under Harry's shoulder and the other on his waist, holding on to him with increasing insistence. He's afraid. What did I do to make him feel so afraid? What is he worried that I'm going to say? His hand enveloped Harry's shoulder in an almost desperate movement, as if Harry were about to throw him out, about to reject him. As if he needed to hold tight in order to stay sane. Harry felt sad. Does he not trust that I love him? Does he not understand? Though how could Draco feel otherwise, he reasoned. There had been so much betrayal in his life. So much that Harry didn't know about, so much that he wouldn't know about. His own mother, taking a knife to her son's wounds night after night after night. He squeezed him back, trying to be reassuring, but feeling completely inadequate to the task. He had been very na´ve, thinking he could redefine someone else's tragedies. Even Draco's. Especially Draco's.

"Hey." He said softly, hands slipping along the curve of Draco's spine, warm against slowly warming skin, tracing taut muscles, tensing under this unknown, incomprehensible fear. Draco hmmmed. "You know I love you, don't you?" Draco sniffed, stiffened, and Harry felt a jerky motion in Draco's fingers as they closed harder around his shoulder. He was holding his breath suddenly, and Harry could feel the tension rise in his chest. Harry felt shocked, and he froze, a wave of comprehension crashing over him. "You…didn't know, did you." Draco grunted cryptically, his eyelashes moving rapidly against Harry's chest. Harry sighed. Well. So here he was basking in certainty while Draco. Well. I have been so cruel to him, I never meant to be cruel. "Oh God. Well. I love you. I have for…well, for a very long time, really." Draco exhaled heavily, suddenly very wide awake. He grabbed Harry's wrists, pressing them into the pillow on either side of his head, rising onto his knees and leveling his face above Harry's.

"I see." He said nonchalantly. "That's interesting, Potter." He leaned forward and kissed him tentatively, as if it were a first kiss, as if he wasn't sure he would be accepted, as if he didn't already know the taste and texture of Harry's mouth. He kissed him as if he hadn't just now been woken while Harry's anxious hands had been tracing the word 'why' into his skin, over and over, as if he hadn't been sharing his bed for the past week. As if Harry hadn't just told him that he loved him. This was not unusual for Draco. Harry had thought of it has a kind of game, let's pretend. Let's pretend this is a first kiss, pretend it's all new, pretend there is no history, no drama, no tears and frustrations and holes in the walls and stacked feet of letters never sent. He had thought that these tentative kisses were simply a way to keep things interesting between them, to keep things fresh. He had thought that this was what Draco wanted, needed; that things stay new and always a little on the edge. So he played along. He could be tentative too. He could give him those virginal kisses, let him recreate those awkward, teenage moments. But suddenly, now, with his wrists still pinned against the pillow, he understood. There was something closer to the surface now, something in the quiet desperation of this motion that told him what this tentative kiss was. It was a question. Do you love me?

He needed to feel it. He had been asking for months, but Harry had not known that there had been a question. He had told him in a thousand other ways, but not in ways that Draco could understand. Harry played no games. He took that tentative kiss and answered it with an unequivocal one. Yes. Draco moaned a little, and released Harry's wrists. Harry pressed one hand against the back of Draco's neck, his tongue still answering, writing these long misunderstood words on the inside of Draco's mouth. He wrapped his other arm around Draco's waist, his thighs pressing into Draco's hips, pulling him closer. Yes.

All thought of sleep gone, his head filled with answers, Draco slowly lost control. Harry watched this happen with fascination, awe, and a twinge of fear. Much as self-control was one of the characteristics Harry had always attributed to him, he had not really known, really, truly known, how controlled Draco always was. He pulled back from that lingering kiss with his eyes shut tight, and then opened them slowly and looked into Harry's face with–what? The group of words Harry could think of to describe that look made no sense to him. Reverence, fury, fear, love, pain, hope. He breathed jaggedly, his mouth slightly open. His stomach twitched against him. Harry watched him now, his elbow pressed into the pillow, hand propping up his head, his face still within Harry's range of vision. He was entranced; body trembling against his own and his eyes wide open, looking shocked, wistful, and overwhelmed. He leaned closer, and began to trace the lines, curves, edges, textures and ridges that made up Harry's body, the geography of his life written muscle by muscle, crease by crease, beginning most tenderly with the old and faded scar on his forehead. He greeted Harry like a blind man bent on seeing him in his entirety, exploring him with his lips, his fingers, his tongue, tasting him, sketching him, compiling an atlas of his body as if now, given this new revelation, he had to relearn everything he once knew of him. Draco moved in ways that Harry did not recognize, and, most surprising to Harry, he spoke. When he reached the crook of his left arm, he ran his tongue delicately on that folded skin, and said, in a rough and broken voice, "found me." Harry didn't ask for clarification, as he wasn't sure whether Draco knew he was speaking. And the sound of that voice, that unregulated, completely unselfconscious voice was profoundly arousing.

Draco did occasionally speak while they made love. Very occasionally, and only when Draco was most fully outside, or most fully within himself. Harry treasured these moments because they seemed to him to be the most honest and most pure. He never mentioned it during the day, or even in their sweet, whispered conversations these most recent nights when they fell asleep entwined together. Those throaty exclamations were gifts, small pieces of Draco forged in orgasmic release and offered up to Harry for safe-keeping. He kept them safe, caressed them gently in his mind the following day, never spoke them aloud. Sometimes he imagined that the more of them he had, the more of them he treasured and loved and lingered over, the closer he came to that core, the essential truth that Draco hid within himself. Harry would not pry him open, he would not break him for that satisfaction. He knew that Draco would slice himself open if he could, pull his flesh apart and let Harry bathe in the light of that glorious, guttural purr that lived inside of him. But he would not demand that. These little gifts would do, each glowing a little brighter than the last. To ask for more would break him. But now, Draco was breaking.

He lingered everywhere, wrists, the space between Harry's shoulder blades, his navel, the soles of his feet, and Harry's skin became his territory, his country. He declared ownership of each inch with purrs, moans, muffled words, repeated, over and over, 'Harry', like it was his first and his last word. Harry encouraged him, shifting where required, flipping over onto his stomach, on his side, drawing his knees toward his chest so that Draco could stroke them and suck on Harry's nipple at the same time. Harry found himself speaking as well, words he had never known, groans buried so deep inside himself that only Draco would hear them, his ear pressed against his belly, measured by him like seismic shifts, tallied and organized as Draco relearned the rhythms that teased this flesh-bound empire. It was his, and he was claiming it.

Harry felt himself arching his back, his limbs jittering madly. Draco had always been a tremendous lover. From their first illicit kiss under his invisibility cloak, Draco had managed to pull responses from Harry's body that were often completely surprising. There was a time when he wondered, with a stab of jealousy, who had taught Draco that delicate touch, that delicious force that bought Harry to this insensate, violent longing. His kiss alone made Harry feel weightless. Harry himself was far from inexperienced anymore. But we are, after all, created in some sense by our lovers, freed by them, instructed and allowed to learn from them. He was an apt pupil with Draco, who touched him in ways that made his former partners seem like dim, weak stars against the heat of the sun. Perhaps, Harry thought, it's a Slytherin thing. It was only half a joke.

Gryffindors, Harry reasoned, fucked in the dark with their eyes shut. They said their 'I love yous' in broad daylight. Perhaps even across the table at dinner in the Great Hall, between bites of roast chicken and mashed potatoes. They did not tease each other, they did not tie one another up. They loved each other and never betrayed each other, got bored in bed after the first few years but would never consider mentioning it. They crawl into bed the same way every night, follow the necessary steps without particular variation. They drank cocoa and played scrabble, and held hands while they fell asleep. Slytherins, however, were a different story. Harry imagined that it didn't take them long to realize that sex and ambition are not strange bedfellows. They read books on sex and power for the pictures, experimented with auto-asphyxiation, lied about being virgins. They bought sexual tools and found out how to use them. They kissed each other for the practice, were less concerned about the sex or number of their partners. The girls preferred faking it to coming. They were passionate but devious; they would tease you within an inch of your life, but could deliver in spades, and would if they felt like it. Slytherins only said 'I love you' when they wanted something. No that they didn't feel it, mind you. Slytherins knew better than to toss around words that could change their lives forever.

Harry was not so much of an innocent to imagine that sex was some kind of inherent truth; he had had participated in sex that spoke volumes of lies. He had even heard 'I love yous' screamed out in passion and known even before the bashful look afterwards that it meant nothing. Or, that it meant nothing now. The relativity of truth could be a shocking thing.

Real love, and truthful words muttered into flesh, did not always make for wonderful sex, either. Harry had been with awkward lovers, male and female, who were both worshipful of and intimidated by his scarred body. He had had to play a role, many times. That role was of hero, leader, dominant, all-powerful, benevolent Harry Potter. They had cowed to him, even if just a little. There was a kind of barrier around his body, Harry presumed, that forced his lovers to ask permission, to beg and scrape, to lower their eyes when his honesty showed through. He was not just a boy. He was a minor deity who could not be claimed. He was to be held at a distance even when he was pressed between their thighs. They could melt into him, but he was not permitted to melt into them. They may long for it, on some level; "It's me the Famous Harry Potter wants", certainly. But they never pressed him beyond being Harry Potter. Harry moaned into the pillow, hunched over Draco on his knees, as he felt Draco's hands firmly massaging his buttocks and the backs of his thighs, his lips feathering against his aching and pulsing erection.

Not even Draco had been entirely willing to claim him. In these quiet moments where longing prevailed, however, he would. Draco would want, that possessive glaze covered him, he would curl up around Harry as though prepared to beat off any who attempted to take him. He did not pretend to be justified, but didn't care that he wasn't. He would claim Harry anyway, demi-god that he was, because he wanted him and Draco was used to getting what he wanted. Spoiled little brat, Harry thought, smiling. But the claiming made Harry feel human. But when the sun rose and beds were made, that sense of being claimed receded. Draco tucked it back in behind his eyes and smiled wryly. But now there was no part of him left unclaimed, and what was claiming him was Draco's own willingness to be exposed and vulnerable. It was the part of him that opened to accept Harry's long-absent words, long-awaited admission: I love you. Harry could still hear the singing purrs and words that had ceased to have meaning in his ears. With each sound he fell a little further into that crack that was breaking open along that scarred seam of Draco's soul. Harry would bask in it, in the sounds that came forth from him, and he would wedge himself inside so that Draco would heal around him.

Indeed, Draco had always been a tremendous lover. He gripped him by the hips now, as Harry groaned into the pillow, Draco's lips enveloping his erection, guiding Harry's frantic motions, teasing him in the agonizingly lazy way Harry had become accustomed to. Draco did not like to do anything quickly, and now was no exception. If there were one thing that could be counted on, it was that Draco paid close attention. He had learned, quickly, what pleased Harry most, what made him groan with contentment, what brought him up and over the edge of sanity. He knew the taste of Harry's skin when he was close to dissolving completely, and just how to keep him there, writhing on his tongue, crying out in bliss and desperation. How he had learned it, Harry wasn't sure.

In the same way, he was unsure how Draco seemed to know instinctively when Harry was troubled, when he was tired, when he needed to talk, when he simply wanted to sit quietly. He had noticed one evening, out of the corner of his eye, how Draco had stopped Ron from disturbing him when he sat in front of the fire, face in his hands, after a day of defending Draco. Again. How he had come to him later, just as he was about to fall asleep, took his hand and led him to his room, undressed him and put him to bed, where he fell asleep against Draco's chest. He had seen how Draco had watched him from the desk in the corner while he laughed with Ron and Hermione, gossiping idly, trying to ignore the growing darkness that threatened to consume the world. It was the same way Draco had always watched him, Harry realized. The way he had always seem to know about their various exploits at Hogwarts, tattling to Professors, or threatening to. Draco still collected information quietly, observing him, relishing every detail. Harry mumbled incomprehensibly, stroking the hand that grasped his hip.

Harry loved these moments, when he was entirely defined by the position of Draco's lips, the motion of his tongue, the careful restraint of his slim hands. Draco moved so intuitively that Harry sometimes wondered if he hadn't slipped him some kind of potion help him crawl into his veins, into his brain, to tease out every desire and every request. But half the time he read nothing from Harry's mind at all; he moved against Harry in ways he had no idea he had been longing for.

Draco stilled Harry hips for a moment, lingeringly pressing his lips against the slick tip of his erection. Harry moaned, desperate, straining against Draco's hands. He slid himself upward, and moved his hands from Harry's hips to his shoulders. Harry shifted his weight, allowing Draco to sidle up beneath him. Draco, now steeped in confidence, was serene, watching Harry stilted movements, bucking senselessly against his thigh. He smiled, kissed Harry sweetly, and nudged Harry's legs between his own with his feet, dragging his knees to Harry's waist. Harry groaned as he felt Draco's hands guiding him inside of himself.

Harry had very little restraint left. While Draco was all grace and smooth motion, Harry's eyes were damp, his breath ragged, he crowed weakly in the back of his throat. He groaned breathily as he felt Draco enveloping him in one smooth motion, and rocked against him, following Harry's frantic and needy rhythm. Draco stroked Harry's cheek gently, and said…something. As Harry felt that orgasmic rush flood his body, his brain, he felt his claimed body claimed again, he heard nothing. The world was filled with silence as he felt himself cried out. He collapsed, moaning and shivering, into Draco's arms.

As sound slowly returned, Harry heard the rain tapping against the windowpane, Draco's quiet breathing. His hands and his feet were tingling. Harry sighed, rolling to one side of Draco. He lay flat out on his back, and Draco grabbed his hand and squeezed it.

"Can I sleep now?" Draco asked sarcastically. Harry laughed.

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