Part 13 - Both Hands

By IvyBlossom


I'm writing graffiti on your body
I'm drawing the story of how hard we tried

-ani difranco, Both Hands

Finally, in the end, he had given up. Harry would die, there seemed very little question about it. Draco didn't hear a single word from anyone about the possibility that Pansy might have done this, that it was an ancient magic, that it was a kind of incantation. They had no idea. Every day that passed without someone announcing the culprit, without someone stopping classes and insisting that they all change subjects and learn a thing or two about wandless magic, about the dangers that are lurking beyond the walls of Hogwarts, and within it, the curses beyond the borders of what they deemed appropriate. Oh, they thought they were wise, teaching students how to control themselves under Imperius, showing them how the Cruciatus curse works. Those were just the beginning, and somehow the muggle-lovers seemed to believe that this was it, end of story. No wonder they were so confident. No wonder they believed as they did, that honesty and hope and trust would win this war. They had no idea what they were up against, for no other reason than they're own unwillingness to even look. And now Harry would die because of it, and there was nothing Draco could do.

Draco wondered if this was the nature of love. Touch it, and it dies. He had read about flowers from Brazil made with coloured sand, balanced just so, without magic even. Just sand, water, and a steady hand. If you touched them, even if you came close, they would disintegrate into a formless dune. He had dreamed once about being in a forest of sand. Tall trees with smoky black trunks, large, shiny green leaves, thick underbrush, flowers in every colour. In the dream he couldn't resist it, he reached out and touched it all spun in circles and destroyed it while crying and screaming and wishing he could stop. Perhaps it wasn't the nature of love. Perhaps it was the nature of Draco Malfoy.

He haunted the hospital wing, always with excuses. Sleeping draughts, his arm being stiff, questions for Madam Pomfrey, invented during Arithmancy. When he ran into Weasley and Granger walking back from his latest visit, on the pretense of having his arm inspected (again), Weasley snarled at him and shoved him up against the wall, knocking a sleeping portrait askew.

"You bastard, you'll pay for this." Weasley's angrily red face very nearly matched his hair.

"Pay for it? Weasel, do you pay any attention at all? My wand was tested, don't you remember? I didn't do it." He looked meaningfully at Granger and said, "Could have been someone in Scandinavia, for all we know."

Weasley punched him hard in the face and kneed him in the groin before Granger pulled him off and watched Draco to fall to the floor, blood dripping from his lip. "Show a little respect, Malfoy." Weasley was crying, and it shocked Draco into silence. He fiddled a lose tooth with his tongue. "Harry is worth more than you. He's worth more than your whole family. He's worth more than all of your whole rich bloody bastard Death Eater bloody trash!" Granger whispered to him, pulled him away. Weasley was sobbing, and Draco shut his eyes.

Again, Draco tried to draw attention to his plight in the library. Granger was looking worn and tired after hours spent pouring over books long after the Ravenclaws had deserted her; she was reading about various Dark Arts, wand magic, wand magic, and more wand magic. Draco felt like throttling her then and there. It was when they were both in the stacks one morning, looking at various books, that Draco 'accidentally' dropped a heavy tome of ancient Norse magical history on Hermione's toe. She glared at him and pushed the book aside with her foot. When he walked away, it was Pansy who put the book back on the shelf.

At first he held out some vague hope, particularly when he saw Dumbledore walking toward the hospital wing with a book on ancient Russian curses. Russian was of course incorrect, and Draco did not know whether the book covered wand or wand-less curses, but the fact that the text wasn't in Latin or English heartened him.

"Sir," Draco said, getting the headmaster's attention as he shuffled toward the hospital wing. "Are there such things as wandless curses?" This was as close as he thought he could safely get to a hint, a warning.

"Wandless?" Dumbledore tucked the book under his arm and looked gravely at Draco. "Well, there are a handful, certainly. There are things that haven't been disturbed in many, many years. Things that are best forgotten."

"Ah, I see," Draco nodded, his heart sinking.

"Mr. Malfoy," Dumbledore said softly. "Is there something you'd like to talk about?" A pause. Draco looked down. "You know that everything you say to me is in complete confidence."

"There's nothing I have to say, sir." He looked up, sadly, a little pleadingly.

Dumbledore gave him a look that said, if you know, please, please tell me. He said, "You know we will protect you if you wish to tell us…what happened to Mr. Potter?"

"Yes sir, I know all about your protection." It was so easy to let the sarcasm slip in, and so dangerous. Draco bit his lip, kept his face impassive, tried to even out that emphasis, tried to dry it out, make it sound innocent.

"And there's nothing you want to say?" Dumbledore sounded tired, disheartened. Draco knew that everyone was certain that he was the key to this, and he knew they were too good to ask properly. He wished sometimes, as he curled up into his bed at night, that they would just force it out of him. Tie him into a chair, put a knife to his neck, ask him, "Do you know?" Force veritaserum in an eyedropper through his lips. But even then, would it help? What could he tell him? An ancient Norwegian curse. A word and not a word. It sounds like wind, it sounds like trees. He will feel the pain forever and he will go mad.

"No, sir." In his dreams, sometimes it was up to Draco to step on Harry's head and crack it open.

Finally, as a last, desperate plea, Draco drew the word as he remembered it and left it in an envelope on the floor in front of the hospital wing. He did not know what happened to that envelope, but Harry did not improve, and there was no word of new developments. By the time Pansy confronted him in the Slytherin common room, he given up all hope.

It was a cool evening as he stepped out to meet his father. He was terrified, he was resigned. Dumbledore had nodded to him gravely as he left after dinner, as if he knew. Of course he knew. There was no death in the family, no sick Uncle. The excuses were insults, and they all knew it. Draco wondered if Dumbledore hated him now, and felt oddly conflicted about this. Why shouldn't he? Why should Draco care?

He had never felt so uncomfortable at the prospect of meeting his father, knowing what he knew, feeling like a traitor. He opened the small box, feeling around for the portkey, which was, almost ironically, an old-fashioned, sterling silver key. His escape route, useable from anywhere, that took him straight home, with a matching solid gold key that brought him back to the Slytherin dorm. He wondered if Dumbledore knew how often he used these, how many nights he had spent in his own bed rather than the one he was meant to occupy at Hogwarts. Recently, he had used them less, but his first year, it had been an almost bi-weekly occurrence. He sighed, gripping the silver key and turning around, finding himself in his empty bedroom. He was about to walk out into the hall, down the stairs, into the front sitting room where his father and mother would be waiting, drinking tea or vodka tonics. He rubbed his forearm in anticipation of the Mark, he wondered what the ceremony would be like.

He heard a noise, hard shoes against the floor of his library, echoing a little against the books, spiraling upwards toward the impossibly high ceiling. He turned for a moment, listened. Footsteps, moving from one end of the room to the other, approaching. For a split-second he considered hiding, but remembered where he was, in his own bedroom, and waited instead. A slim, elegantly-clad body appeared in the door frame, pale hands, a shock of white-blond hair. Scandinavian eyes, a light smile growing broader, white teeth.

"Draco. Welcome home. Your father told me I might expect you, he told me to meet you, to keep you entertained until he returned."

"Jan," Draco said, nodding, running his fingers through his hair. "I didn't realize you were still in England."

"Oh, yes, indeed. Your father has been kind enough to let me stay and study with him a bit longer than expected. My sisters have gone home, but," he moved toward Draco, motions fluid and silky, stopping slightly too close to Draco. "I was hoping to see you again."

"Were you," Draco murmured. Jan nodded and took another step closer, his face so close Draco could feel him breathing. Draco considered for a moment, and then placed his hand on Jan's hip. Pawn to King's four. It was insanely simple, these movements, these motions toward intimacy. And what was intimacy, anyway? What felt intimate were the fleeting glances he caught of Harry, lying in the hospital wing. The two times he had managed to sit on Harry's bed, touch his hand, brush his hair out of his eyes, run his finger along that famous scar. He had never felt so close to anyone in his life, not even when he had his cheek pressed between their shoulder blades, or hips between their thighs. Nothing had felt as intimate as feeling the rough texture of the hospital wing blanket under his knuckles, his fingers stroking Harry's palm. And he had whispered things, knowing no one would ever hear them. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." He should have known better. Jan's lips against his hair, queen to queen's bishop four. Draco knew how to win this game in four moves.

Draco slid his arms around Jan, twined his fingers into his hair, ran his lips along his neck, listening to his moan lightly, his fingers desperately pushing back Draco's pale wool cloak. Bishop to King's Bishop four. It was so easy Draco could do this thinking about something else, someone else. He mourned and hope started to burn again inside him, making him hurt, making him feel a stinging behind his eyes. When Draco kissed Jan he thought about dark words, the strength of evil, the sweetness of his mouth, his own hunger for just these physical sensations, his ease at falling into this game, and felt sad, felt unworthy, felt determined. Queen to king's bishop seven. Jan's tongue, his lips trembling a little, his eyes shut. Checkmate. So easy.

"They don't teach you Dark Arts at school, do they." Jan was stroking Draco's chest as they lay on his bed. Draco wondered how much time was left until he would be expected downstairs.

"No, nothing like that. Just how to make cakes and roses and how to keep your hair curled." Jan laughed, and Draco smiled, leaning over and kissing him slowly, stroking his bare thigh. He pulled back and watched Jan's face, watching him recover himself, his eyes opening. It was so, so easy, this game. He considered that sincerity must the biggest hoax of all time.

"Tell me. You remember my friend Pansy? She visited over Christmas. We've had a bit of a…falling out, and I'm worried she'll try to curse me with that spell, the one your sister used on the gnome."

Jan thought for a moment, and then nodded. "Oh yes, that one. That's alright, if she does. There's a simple cure."

"Is there?" Draco tensed, his heart beating suddenly far too fast, his arms and legs feeling numb. "What is it?"

Jan rolled onto his back, pulling Draco on top of him, biting his shoulder. "It's insanely simple. That's the beauty of it. No one ever guesses. It's hyssop. Hyssop sprinkled in water. Sometimes you need to massage it into the skin. So easy, it's like a bath. Isn't it genius?"

Draco closed his eyes. "Yes," he said. "Pure genius." He counted down in his head. Twenty, nineteen, eighteen. He had to get out of here. His father would be furious. This would be the second time he had ducked out of this ceremony. What would be his excuse this time? Seventeen, sixteen, fifteen. Tell Jan…tell him what? He's forgotten something? Perhaps tell him nothing at all. Just go into the bathroom and portkey out. Just dress, casually, check the portkey box in his pocket. Make certain that it's there. He could portkey back, and walk directly into the Potions dungeon. Fourteen, thirteen, twelve. Should he check his own potions laboratory for hyssop? It didn't sound familiar. No, it would be too damning. Jan might guess. Had he heard what happened to Harry? Did he know? He seemed to flippant about English affairs, Draco presumed that he didn't even pay any attention to it. Perhaps Draco could peruse for some, as a store against…no. He had to play it cool, there could be no guessing, there could be no rumours about this. This should be a conversation that should slip out of Jan's mind. He was certain he wouldn't tell his father about this quick romp on Draco's bed, nor their conversation directly afterward, if he was lucky. Intimacy, the small rules people do and don't keep.

He wondered how he would manage this. Would he get caught attempting it? Should he just tell someone? Eleven, ten, nine. No one would believe him. He tried to slow down his breathing. Jan clutched at him, stroked him, he was still talking, something about dinner, visiting, his father, "wonderful, Draco, you're such a treat," he was saying. Draco smiled and kissed him again, letting his body move as it knew how, ignoring his hands sliding against Jan's pale skin while his brain raced. It was amazing how you could be present and thoroughly elsewhere at the same time. Eight, seven six. Hyssop. Hyssop. What is hyssop? It sounded familiar, but Draco didn't know what it was. A jar, he'd seen a jar of it somewhere once, he remembered seeing the letters in script, in blue script on white. Whose potions room was that in? Not his own, certainly. School? Snape did not write in that rolling script. But it must be there, it must, at Hogwarts of all places. Five, four, three. Potions Dungeon, yes, it would be there, somewhere. Draco could picture the row of bottles and jars on Snape's old apothecary cabinet, as if he could find it just by remembering. In his mind he pushed past the concentrates and toward the powers. Then he remembered the hospital wing, with it's own set of ingredients. Perhaps he ought to go straight there; Draco knew that when Snape ran out of ingredients he sometimes borrowed form the hospital wing. Perhaps yes, just straight there. That would be faster. Two. And this Scandinavian. He smells like mountains, like snow. Like come. One.

"I'd better get ready," Draco said, sitting up.

It was nearly eleven-thirty when Draco finally managed sneak into the potions room in the Hogwarts hospital wing. After using his golden portkey to take him directly into the Hogwarts dungeons, he had started with Snape's private store, and had realized within about ten minutes that what he wanted wasn't there. This was easy to tell; Snape was obsessive with organizing his ingredients, and kept them in strict alphabetical order. When he found the bottle of Hyacinth bulbs sitting next to Ice orchids, crumbled, and tubes of hydra blood and hyrax bile followed by Ibis oil, he felt his heart sink. No hyssop in Snape's collection, powdered or concentrate, whole, dried, or in his herb garden. He stormed out of the potions dungeon quickly without looking around him and ran to the hospital wing.

He had become adept at sneaking around Hogwarts of late, and particularly the strange ins and outs of the hospital wing. It was filled with odd hidden corridors, kitchens, potions labs, examination rooms, and, finally, he thought as he rounded the corner and came upon it, a potions store, four doors over from Harry's quiet room. He had managed to cast a sleeping spell over Madam Pomfrey, already asleep on her couch, before hunkering down over her stores of powders and elixirs and dusty, colourful bottles.

"Hyssop, hyssop, hyssop," Draco hissed under his breath, his fingers moving from jar to jar. Madame Pomfrey's collection seemed to follow entirely different rules. Octopus hearts beside shire horse hairs, dried gulfweed, parsnip shavings, fiddleheads, pickled. Draco slammed his fist against the table and kept searching. He pulled open drawers and cabinets. "Hyssop, hyssop, GODDAMIT!" He kicked a cabinet door shut, took a jar of dried bean sprouts and launched it against the wall. It exploded into a shower of glass and powder. He stamped his foot and threw his back against the wall, sliding to the floor, his face in his hands. He was trying to calm himself down when he heard a quietly sarcastic voice.

"Looking for something to poison him with, are you?" Granger. Draco glanced up, seeing her standing with her hands on her hips, her gray school kilt creased and swaying around her knees. He wondered how long she had been standing there, how much she had heard. His shirt was untucked, his cloak rumpled, his throat marked red with bite marks and exposed from his hasty dressing in the bathroom afterwards, his hair tousled. He still smelled like the Scandinavian. He had thought that he could affect this cure quickly and return before anyone noticed; his father wasn't due to leave the manor until midnight, but at this rate Draco was aware that he was running rapidly out of time. And still, nothing. No Hyssop. And now he was caught.

Draco had forgotten that Weasley and Granger had been granted some kind special dispensation from Dumbledore; there was some idea that possibly the presence of these two might help Harry's spirits, might make him feel better, might encourage him to wake up. Draco had seen them once or twice, sitting on Harry's bed, talking to him about class, about their friends, the weather. Weasley had hesitated, looking down at the floor while Granger yammered on. "…we'll help you with the new Transfiguration material, don't worry, Harry. It's not so difficult. You'll probably enjoy it. Ron says he wants to see you turn your cloak in to a muggle tuxedo, he doesn't believe me that they look sharp!" She laughed then, hollowly. These two were permitted to sit with Harry at odd times, take meals in his room, do their homework, miss curfew. Draco was mildly disgusted that Granger was allowed to be with him here so late at night while he had to sneak around and allow himself to be injured in order to catch a glimpse of Harry. No, not disgusted. Jealous.

"Fuck off, Granger," he said, pressing his head against the wall and wincing. There was still a cabinet to rifle through. He sighed, rubbed his fingers along his forehead, made a quick decision to ignore Granger's presence and continue his search. He had no idea what kind of trouble he was getting himself into, but he couldn't think about the consequences. Hyssop. He had to find it, and try, and watch Harry's eyes open and see him move again, and then they could drag him away and do what they would to him. He didn't care anymore. He rose to his feet and crossed the room, opening the cabinet doors and searching. He moved the jars around roughly, glass grinding against glass. grindylowe skins, shrivelfigs, speckled gopher struma. Dusty jars, no hyssop. Draco kicked the cabinet door and fell onto his knees, swearing.

Granger had walked up behind him, he could see her out of the corner of his eyes, her gray skirt, the red and yellow tie. "Did you try the kitchens?" Her voice had softened, his hands clasped loosely behind her.


"Didn't you say hyssop? Hardly a poison."

Draco looked up at her warily.

She raised an eyebrow. "Hyssop is a spice."

By the time Draco found the Hogwarts kitchens, managed to convince a house elf that he wasn't there to punish anyone, was led to the spice pantry, found the dusty jar at the back of a shelf marked with a large, flowery label with 'hyssop' written on it in large script, tucked it hastily under his arm and ran back to the hospital wing, it was well past midnight. His breath was ragged as his knees were trembling. He had found it, finally, He had the cure, Harry would be himself shortly. No doubt he would hate Draco the way all of his friends did; no doubt Harry would imagine that Draco had tried to kill him. Pansy would spread rumours, knowing better than to be honest. Harry would look at him askance, throw out the foil he had received from him, forget that they had been on the brink of being friends. Draco tried not to think about it.

Hermione was gone by the time he returned, back to her own bed, no doubt, tired of waiting to see what evils he had planned. Did she understand that he wouldn't hurt Harry? Did she see guilt, regret, horror written all over him, on his face, in his posture? For whatever reason, she had done him the courtesy of letting him have a quiet moment with Harry alone, and for that he was grateful. He walked into Harry's room, the moonlight making the white floor, walls, bedding, and Harry's pale face look blue and unreal. He went straight into the small adjoining bathroom and turned on the taps at the large, clawfoot bathtub. Water, he thought. Water and hyssop. I will draw him a bath, and I will wash the pain and the madness from him, if it's not too late. He opened the jar and sniffed the contents; it smelled grassy and sweet. A handful of the stuff into the water, green herbs floating, making the steamy air smell dense, honeyed, like spring, like undergrowth. He pulled off his woolen cloak and his boots and dumped them into the corner, rolling up his sleeves and testing the water. Comfortable, not too hot. He left the water running, put the jar of hyssop on the small table beside the tub, and went back to collect Harry.

Draco wondered what it would have been like to be allowed to do this. He unbuttoned Harry's flannel shirt, not touching his skin, just slipping his fingers along the worn fabric, releasing small white button after button. He would have done this in haste, kissing Harry's neck, perhaps with his tongue against Harry's earlobe, on his lips, in his mouth. He would have torn this flannel shirt off in passion, desperate for the feel of the skin underneath. And how gently he would kiss him here, at this small ridge of bone and muscle at his ribs, on the freckle on his stomach, at the dip of his navel. How he would have cherished it. Draco pushed the shirt off Harry's shoulders and leaned forward, Gathering the broken Harry into his arms and lifting his torso so that he could untangle him from the material. He dropped the shirt on the floor but stayed still a moment, with Harry in his arms, feeling the texture of Harry's naked spine under his fingers, the smell of Harry's skin. Draco laid him down again carefully, pushed the blankets aside, and tugged off his flannel pants. This, too, would have been hasty and beautiful in another life. Harry might have been just as anxious to rid himself of these, he might have pulled them down his legs with his heel and kick them off the side of the bed, might have pressed himself, gloriously naked, against Draco's skin and moan in the back of his throat. Harry, naked now and motionless as if dead, glowed blue in the moonlight through the thin curtains and said nothing. Draco braced his legs against the bed and lifted Harry into his arms, cradling his head against his chest, his eyelashes brushing against his collarbone.

He realized as he got to the bathtub that he could not simply drop Harry in by himself. The water was deep now and the reclined back of the top would only ensure that Harry would slide into the water and drown. He considered for a moment pulling off his trousers, but the logistics of it baffled him and at this point he no longer cared. He stepped into the tub fully clothed with Harry a heavy deadweight in his arms crouching down into the water. As he released Harry's legs they slid forward against the porcelain, his arms draped along the sides of the tub. Draco gripped him around the waist. He shifted Harry in the water, his hips between Draco's thighs, his back against Draco's chest, watching him, waiting for some kind of sign. His breathing was still random and jagged, he didn't move. Draco reached over carefully and shut off the water, which was reaching the top of the thankfully large tub, and then dipped his hand into to the jar of hyssop.

He began with Harry's chest, arms, stomach, his collarbone, neck, arms, as they were closest. He pressed the slight grit of the spice between his fingers and Harry's elbows, his fingers, wrists, feeling it dissolve into the water. He was anxious but moved slowly, half still imagining what this would have been like if he had been allowed, half entirely clinical, watching for responses, for success, for signs that he was returning Harry to himself. He wet his hands and dipped them in the hyssop, drawing his fingers across Harry's face, his cheek bones, his nose, his head. He slid himself down into the tub, watching the waterline rise again and water begin to drip over the sides as he bathed Harry's head, let the hyssop water seep into his ears. Harry flinched.

"That's it, Potter," Draco whispered, using his body to prop Harry back up again. He kissed Harry's neck, feeling, hot, damp, sweet skin under his lips. He stroked Harry's chest now, feeling a relaxed breath, a more rhythmic rise and fall. He dipped his hand in the jar again and stroked Harry's hips, his thighs. He grabbed Harry's knees and hauled him forward to reach his calves, his feet, his toes. He rolled Harry to one side carefully and ran his hand slowly down his back, touching each vertebrae, watching Harry's body quiver a little with each one. He rubbed Harry's tailbone carefully with two fingers, closing his eyes and feeling a deep-seated warmth within him. He wasn't sure where his joy stemmed from; the sheer fact that Harry might not die, that he might not have been driven mad, that he might wake up in the morning, or now, in Draco's arms, delivered from his iniquities and ready to go back to class, to mix potions and raise his eyebrow when Draco smirked at him. Or was it simply the feeling of Harry's skin against his palms, the taste of his neck on his tongue again. He stroked Harry's stomach and buried his face in Harry's neck as saw Harry's leg move slightly under the water.

Draco could almost feel the pain drifting into the water, evaporating off its surface like steam. He couldn't be absolutely certain, of course, that this had worked, that he had done everything right, that the near two weeks that had passed had not been too long, but Harry's weight felt new against him now, changed. His body was less tense, his breath more normal and even. The way his forehead pressed against Draco's neck felt different, safer. He brushed Harry's wet hair out of his face and touched his scar. Harry shivered, but his eyes remained closed.

There were puddles left on the floor where Draco had stood, shifting Harry's wet weight in his tired arms. He dropped him on the bed and tucked him in, feeling nervous, trembling, tired. He wanted to shake Harry now, wake him, ask him if he was alright, apologize, explain, cry. Instead he covered Harry's pillow with a towel and ran his fingers through Harry's wet hair, and then looked around for another to sponge himself off. When the tub was emptied and the most obvious puddles mopped up, his own clothes rung out and hanging over the rim of the tub for the moment, he returned to Harry to find him shivering violently.

Draco sighed. He had reached a point at some time in the evening where he stopped caring who found out, what anyone thought, what would happen if he got caught. His father would be furious, Jan would be suspicious, Granger had enough evidence now to seriously suspect him, Pansy was likely planning her revenge at that very moment. His mother would be disappointed. Dumbledore, Snape, Madam Pomfrey (in spite of the sleeping charm he had cast on her) could conceivably burst in at any moment to check on their darling Potter and Draco just didn't care anymore. He stroked Harry's face, and then slipped under the blankets with him, curled his arms around him and felt his cold skin, wrapped his leg around Harry's shivering limbs, cupped his head inward toward his chest, felt Harry's even breath on his neck. He ran his hands along Harry's damp back as he shivered. He felt Harry moving closer to him, his arms nestling against his hot stomach, like a moth to flame. After a few minutes like this with Draco's heart beating wildly in his chest, his hands softly exploring Harry's body on the pretense of delivering warmth, Harry slowly stopped shaking, but moved still closer to Draco.

He didn't even care anymore what this meant, the fact that he had done what he had done. He knew he loved Harry, and if he didn't know it properly before, if lying in the snow, his skin growing wet and cold and numb, watching Harry fly alone against the blue-black evening sky wasn't proof enough, he knew it now. He knew that even if Harry could never love him back, if Harry could never trust him, could never be his friend, Draco had to curl up against him right then, he had to slide his hands along that damp flesh, offer up his own heat, tremble a little at the sensation of that even breathing against his skin. It was a great weakness, this hole in him, this space that only filled just now, in this place, with this body so close. He even knew, with Harry curled up against him, Harry's lips brushing against neck, that this love was terribly unrequited. He was so disappointed. Even if there had been a chance, it was all dashed now. He was still glad he had done what he had done to Pansy, even though he had conceived of that plan in a moment of anger. She hadn't killed Harry, she had killed Draco.

There were only so many chances left. Perhaps this was the last. Draco held Harry's face in his hands, kissed his eyes, his cheeks, trailed his lips over Harry's mouth. If he had been allowed to kiss Harry, he would have no qualms about doing so often and fiercely. He had never been one for public displays, but these lips demanded public display. He simply could not have permission to kiss Harry and not do so, regardless of who would see. If he had permission, Draco would wake Harry with kisses in the morning and then lull him to sleep with his hands at night. He would kiss Harry with the weight of all the things Harry's needed to know; I love you, I would slay dragons for you, I would humiliate myself, I would infuriate my father, incriminate myself, give up my future, my friends, my life for you. Draco felt Harry's lips part beneath his own, his breath hot against Draco's skin. He shut his eyes, imagining that this motion, these lips parted in sleep, were a form of permission. Draco kissed him.

Draco had never forgotten what it felt like to kiss Harry. He had kissed more people than he cared to remember, and at first he didn't think Harry would be any different. And really, he wasn't. Harry moved his lips, his tongue, with just as much passion as others he'd known, he wanted it just as much. Harry kissed as though it were all new to him; perhaps it was. He kissed both shyly and demandingly, he moaned beautifully, he was tentative and aggressive by turns. Draco had dreamed afterward, on the strength of that kiss, about what it must be like to fuck him, to be fucked by him. Tentative and aggressive, careful, then demanding. Intoxicating. But lips, a tongue, these were not unique, and a kiss can only be so individual, so different from person to person. And yet. How was it possible, that so much of a person can be distilled into this, a few minutes, soft skin, muscle, saliva. Draco knew that some people were natural telepaths, they could tell from the shape of a thought who it belonged to. Perhaps kissing was a form of telepathy. Because Draco did remember what it felt like to kiss Harry, the taste of him, the shape of Harry's lips against his tongue, the way his skin smelled, felt under his fingers, the way his lips caressed him, his tongue.

Harry was asleep. Draco knew this, and he knew the sleep was somewhat unnatural. He had been unconscious and silently writhing in pain unable to move for nearly two weeks. His body was no doubt fully exhausted, his brain confused and unable to process everything that was going on. He knew that even if Harry woke, he probably wouldn't be fully aware, that no matter what he did, it would probably be perceived in a haze of groggy midnight confusion, a dream, a coma-induced delusion. He would be a blue intruder in the moonlight, a gentle kiss in a dream, his hand stroking Harry in places that would naturally grow harder in such a dream. And Harry responded to him as he would in the half-consciousness of a dream. Sleep-heavy, Harry opened his mouth to Draco, slowly caressed his tongue with his own, his hands resting limply against Draco's chest, still cold but warming up. Draco didn't care if Harry noticed that he was a boy anymore; the most obvious evidence was pressed hotly against Harry's thigh, and he had shown no sleepy objections. He only pressed closer, sighed. Draco moved slightly, kissed his nose, the scar on his forehead, watched his face, and suddenly Harry's eyes opened.

For a moment, Draco froze. Caught in the act again, Harry's cock hardening in his hand, his face inches away from Harry's. He held his breath.

Harry looked blearily into Draco's face and closed his eyes again. Not awake yet, not really. He was fighting sleepiness, confusion, he would wake soon and realize where he was. Draco felt a stab of guilt, he felt silly. He ran his fingers through Harry's damp hair, kissed his forehead lightly, and then rolled out of the bed. Harry rolled over against the spot where Draco had been, curled up against the warmth that remained.


When Harry woke, he was in a strange room. The sun was starting to rise, just barely, making the room pinkish black. He sat up. He was naked, his pajamas were on the floor. He felt cold.

After quickly pulling his pajamas on, he tiptoed out of the room and looked around at the hallway. It was dark, but after walking a short distance, he began to recognize the hospital wing. He wondered how long he had been there. The last thing he remembered was being in Potions class, sitting with Malfoy. He had cut his finger, and there had been a sound, and then pain. As he returned to his room, he remembered something else; a blue face, warmth. A boy, definitely a boy, he could feel it against his thigh. A dream? A very nice dream, a sweet dream kiss. The more Harry thought about it the more it disappeared, like a dream does, details evading his grasp as he sought them out. He wrapped his arms around himself, still cold.

He tidied up the room quickly, made the bed, looked around for his shoes. He found them, with his school robes and tie, in the closet. Feeling a little odd with his robes over his pajamas, he shoved his feet haphazardly into his shoes and wandered out of the hospital wing. He felt fuzzy, cold, and confused, but he knew that he really should be in his own bed. What would Ron think if he woke up and found him missing? Harry wondered if he'd been in the hospital wing for very long. He felt a strange kind of dreamy guilty, as if he had accidentally fallen asleep in the hospital wing, and he should return to the Gryffindor tower before anyone noticed.

He woke the fat lady, who looked extremely surprised to see him. "Oh, Harry, darling. So glad you're well! Your friends will be so glad to see you!" He smiled and whispered the password, and she let him through, grinning at him.

When he reached the seventh year dorms, he felt tired. He pulled down the blankets on his bed and thought, well, it's barely dawn. I could nap for a hour or so. He curled up under the covers in his school robes, shoes still clinging to his feet; this was how Ron found him when he woke.

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