Author's Notes: Thank you to my Betas Katie and Marley, this chapter is dedicated to Katie because she is just so awesome and has helped me through this, and I will always love out little slash discussions. To you, babe! And thank you to all my wonderful reviewers for all the wonderful comments. They make me grin. *Grins.*

Warnings: past-Harry Sirius, Harry/Draco, Harry/MOC, Pansy/female!Blaise, Seamus/Justin, Harry/Hermione/Ron implied, Terry/Ginny, Moon/Nott implied, (eventual) Harry/Justin, OotP spoilers, fantasy, action, adventure, cross-generation, underage sex, violence, language, romance, angst

DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. Lyrics and quotes belong to their respective owners. Lyrics within are by Enigma.

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Paper Flowers

Part 1 - Blood Magic

Chapter Four – Enter the Dragon

By dented-sky


In my field of paper flowers
And candy clouds of lullaby
I lie inside myself for hours
        - Imaginary (Evanescence)

Tired of holding back. I’m about to let the dragon attack
So get out of my way it’s a new millennium it’s a brand new day
I know you don’t really want to unleash the dragon

        - "Unleash the Dragon", (Sisqo)

It’s been too long and I’m lost without you
What am I going to do, said I’ve been needing you
Is your heart still mine, I want to cry sometimes
Can you hear me calling for you

        - "Miss You", (Aaliyah)

I kiss your lips and close my eyes
Take you away to paradise
Make everybody see that I love you and you love me
- "I Kiss You Lips…", (Tokyo Ghetto Pussy)



Quan Chang tried to kiss me, Harry wrote in the early morning, sitting up in bed, with only the light from his wand allowing him to see. Are you mad? Are you upset?

Do you care? Or are you happy where you are, laughing at me?

Harry signed off, folded the small piece of paper into a flower and put it away. He still stayed sitting, though.

He would not have minded one bit if Quan had kissed him. It would have just added to the overall excitement of the two hours spent in a hot, loud room. Harry smiled in the darkness at the thought. Quan kissing him, maybe like Seamus had, only in a more romantic way, rather than the clumsy, playful embraces of thin, younger boys.

Harry sighed, and gathered the blankets closer around himself. He could not sleep; the music was still singing happily within him, and there was a tune still thrumming in his head that he could not get rid of, like the buzz of the fireflies that had hung around the unsupervised children in their own drunken daze. Just when he was about to cast nox and eliminate the light, he heard a small tapping.

He got up quickly, headed over to the door and opened it. Leaning against the doorframe in his neat dark robes, was Malfoy. He smirked, and Harry sensed that he had seen this particular scene before.

Harry groaned tiredly and Malfoy whispered, “Come outside for a bit.”

Ten minutes later, Harry and Malfoy were walking across the oval silently in the cool morning air. Harry realized he was being led to the dark, rusted shed near the side of the oval. They stopped and Malfoy pushed back his cloak and pulled out a packet of cigarettes from his robe pocket. He pulled a cigarette out for himself and then, surprisingly, offered one to Harry.

“No, thank you,” Harry murmured distractedly. The moonlight was playing with the silver in Malfoy’s hair and dancing to silent music on his sharp features. “And we’re here because…?”

Malfoy turned; his silver eyes gave off an almost unnatural glow in the darkness. “I’m waiting, but I don’t know what you’re doing here, Potter.”

Harry scowled and turned to go, but Malfoy grabbed his arm.

“There is something you need to see, that the others forgot to show you.” Then Malfoy took a drag of his cigarette, and walked over to the shed. Harry followed, and they entered.

Lumos,” Harry whispered, and then he gasped at the sight.

Within the shed, leaning against the walls, were three thestrals. “They’re tame,” Malfoy muttered, as Harry crept closer to the beautiful dragon-horses, light from his wand letting their scales shimmer. “They like to sleep in here at night, for some reason,” he drawled. “Probably warmer; less wind.”

Harry abruptly turned around to face the other, suddenly realizing something. “You can see them!”

Malfoy shrugged arrogantly, and then walked past Harry towards the right hand corner. “There is another theory why they would like this poor excuse for a shed,” he said.

After a few seconds of staring at Malfoy’s back in astonishment, Harry walked over to stand by him, and then he peered down at what Malfoy was looking at.

On top a mound of dirt, shoved in the corner, was a glowing aqua stone, seven inches in diameter, about as big as a bludger, although not as round, and flatter. The light it shed lit up the dirt around it, and the boys’ faces. Harry swallowed, and then breathed the words, “What is it?”

“A power stone,” Malfoy murmured. “It’s a live one, too.”

Harry glanced at Malfoy’s pointed profile. “What does that mean?” he asked, puzzled.

Malfoy moved his head towards Harry and they stared into each other’s tired eyes. “They say,” he said softly, “that most power stones hold a soul inside; it’s rare to find a soulless one, but not impossible. And they also say that the soul can talk and some magical creatures, such as thestrals, can understand it.” They looked away; Malfoy took another drag of his cigarette, and for a moment Harry watched the smoke rise.

A while passed, and Harry thought he should say something; being alone in a shed in the middle of the night with only Malfoy for company felt eerie and detached, like he was an unbalanced figure in a painting. Just when he was about to open his mouth to speak, Malfoy murmured to himself, “This whole place is full of stones; I wonder if they have something to do with the Muggles leaving…”

“Why doesn’t the Ministry like them?” said Harry finally, asking of the power stones.

“Not enough knowledge,” said Malfoy, breathing smoke on Harry. “Nobody knows all the properties. That and most people fear living things that don’t at least look alive.”

Harry stared wonderingly at the glowing orb in front of him. To think, he could be looking at something conscious. Maybe it was watching him, or trying to talk to him, or maybe it could read his mind. Harry got that same feeling he had gotten with Tom Riddle’s diary when Tom had talked back to him that first time: excitement and curiousity, with an underlining of fear. He could not rip his eyes away from the stone and its observant silence. The Ministry was right to fear power stones, he thought. A magic artefact like that was probably Dark.

Suddenly Malfoy turned and walked away, out the shed. Harry followed, finding the Slytherin leaning against the outer wall, lighting another cigarette and peering through the darkness towards the school. Harry leaned against the wall, next to Malfoy’s left. “Last year you couldn’t see thestrals,” Harry stated abruptly. Malfoy turned his face slightly towards him, a silver eyebrow raised in arrogant amusement. “What happened between then and now?”

Malfoy turned back to stare out into the darkness and took a drag before answering. “You have to take certain steps in order to be initiated,” he drawled.

Harry stood, suddenly tense, and stared openly at Malfoy’s profile, frowning. His next question was loud, but his voice shuddered slightly. “You mean, you had to murder someone?”

Malfoy glanced back at him and smirked. “What do you think, Potter?”

Harry did not hesitate. “I think Voldemort -“ Harry saw Malfoy tense “- told you to kill someone, and you did, just like the disgusting lap-dog that you are!”

“Now, now, Potter,” Malfoy drawled, still maintaining his bored indifference, “keep your trousers on.” He suddenly gave Harry a once over while his cigarette drooped lazily from his lips. “Of course, you can take them off at a more appropriate time, if you like; perhaps in that bathroom -“

“Who did you kill?” It was a spoken in an almost animalistic growl; there was a darkness swirling within Harry, and he just had to know

Malfoy, sensing that now was no time to be joking, shifted slightly and his bored mask changed to an expression much like Harry would think a poker face would look like: blank features, curious eyes and mouth set in a frown that meant business. They sized each other up. “Just a middle aged Muggle man,” he said, “who had been married into the Malfoy family before his wife was disinherited.”

Harry blinked. “Why -?”

“This only happened a few weeks ago,” he drawled, playing with the butt of his cigarette, “so my Dragons and I needed Blood Relatives. Usually we don’t choose who we kill for the initiation, but I needed a family member for Haemato Transferin, so I thought I could kill two birds with one stone.”

Harry was frowning in thought. “But you murdered…!”

“For the Cause, Potter,” Malfoy said decisively. He took out another cigarette, and then lit it with the end of his previous one that had gone down. He threw the old butt on the ground and drove it into the grass with his foot, and then continued talking after he had taken a drag. “The woman, I think her name was Anima Malfoy before she got married, was the young cousin of my father’s father. They never spoke of her, of course. For a Malfoy, let alone a Pureblood to marry a Muggle…” He trailed off and looked disgusted, as if the word ‘Muggle’ was something on his tongue that he wanted to spit out and obliterate with a wave of his wand. He glanced at Harry. “Anyway, she went into the Muggle World with him, and they had a daughter. I found all this out by talking to a house elf who apparently has been helping her keep in touch with wizard culture.” He sighed, bored. “So I found her house, killed the man and kidnapped his daughter and brought her here. Anima Malfoy was nowhere in sight. She had abandoned them, about a year ago.”

Harry looked away. He had been staring at Malfoy intensely, trying to find at least a hint of guilt, but Malfoy had been careful to keep his blank mask up. Harry hoped that Malfoy had not liked what he had done. It was hard to tell. Harry surprised himself by asking, “How did you kill him?”

Malfoy raised an eyebrow. “Killing Curse, what else? I wasn’t about to get my hands dirty. Stunning the girl and lifting and dragging her away with me was bad enough.”

Harry watched Malfoy smoke, and he smiled grimly to himself. Here was a boy, not yet a man, who made a huff about carrying something, yet he had no problems killing people. The Darkness was etched deep in Malfoy’s soul and life, and it was running through him like blood. It was so deep that it would kill him to be extracted. Harry knew there was so much calm danger within Malfoy, he could almost see it. And he had seen it before: in Sirius. It was Darkness so pure in its essence that Harry was attracted to it.

Then Harry heard himself say something, as if he was saying it without conscious thought; it just spilled through his lips. “I want to see your Mark.”

Malfoy paused in his games with his cigarette. They were leaning against the shed, eyeing each other, faces close. Harry could see Malfoy testing him with his cold eyes in the darkness. The blonde held the smoking stub between his lips, and then held out his left arm, wrist facing upwards and fist clenched. With his right hand he pushed his sleeve back. Harry glared at the marred skin.

Every part of Malfoy’s skin was white, soft and perfect as if he were made out of delicate, yet quality wax. It angered Harry to see something so beautiful poisoned with something as hideous as a tattoo of a skull eating a snake. The Dark Mark was about as big as Harry’s palm and it lay about two inches from Malfoy’s inner elbow. It was black and strong, portraying the power Voldemort had over his servant.

Harry thought that maybe he was really tired that cool morning, so tired that he was slipping into a dream state as he stood, because nothing he did made sense anymore. He did not even remember taking Malfoy’s wrist in one hand, and softly running his fingers over the tattoo with the other. He could feel Malfoy watching him closely as he ran his finger pads seductively over his enemy’s flesh; tracing the top of the skull, grinning mouth, teeth, up and down the snake, and finally over the snakes forked tongue. Maybe if he rubbed the right way, or with the right amount of pressure, he could smudge the Mark, erase its forbidden hold. Maybe there was a way Harry could claim Malfoy back with the right plan, the right type of magic, or the right amount of touches… Harry felt hypnotized and the night was still.

They locked eyes again, and Malfoy pulled his arm away, pushing the sleeves back down as Harry dropped his hands. “Does it hurt?” Harry asked quietly.

Malfoy took a drag of his neglected cigarette, now avoiding Harry’s eyes. “No; it doesn’t feel like anything.” He was not drawling.

Harry was still staring at Malfoy’s face intently. Harry squared his shoulders, feeling he needed to show that he was not fearful. Inside, he was trembling with an emotion he did not understand: something akin to excitement with a touch of longing. “What about when Voldemort calls for you?”

The young Death Eater took another drag, and Harry noticed his fingers were trembling slightly. “It’s just a burning feeling. It’s nothing, really.” He sounded as if he was trying to reassure himself, rather than Harry. He suddenly sighed, dropping his third cigarette that night to the ground. “Potter,” he said, drawling again, “it’s just a tattoo, nothing more, like a splash of ink on skin.” His eyes were narrowed, peering at something across the oval. “It doesn’t touch anywhere else. Not my heart, not my soul, not anything that really matters.” He pushed off the wall and turned to Harry and said softly, “We are going to pull this spy thing off, and we’re going to do it well.” Then he turned and walked away.

Leaning against the wall, Harry watched as Malfoy met his seven friends halfway across the oval. They were lit up with Lumos spells, and Harry saw the light disappear when they disapparated.

In the few hours that Harry did sleep that morning, he dreamed.

It was dark, and he watched from a high place as Malfoy pushed his hood back and took his mask off. Then Harry reached down to Malfoy’s face and traced a cheek with a long, white, bony finger.

Harry woke up feeling nauseous and his scar hurt. Voldemort was happy; he had a plan.

Morning did come and Harry ate breakfast, forcing himself to ignore the throbbing and just be happy. He was here with his best friends, after all

But Malfoy is a murderer…

Early conversation was of the events of the night before, during Happy Hour. Within the two hours (‘Happy Hour’ was poorly named) Ginny’s brothers had gone on a Ravenclaw bashing spree after Terry Boot had magiced water on Ginny’s white T-shirt. Zabini and Parkinson had gotten hold of the Dynamic Duo’s emergency stash of homemade beer, and had stripped half-naked and ran up and down the Muggle wing. Seamus had picked a fight with Crabbe after the Slytherin had called Seamus a poof, before Seamus wandering off, only to return shouting at Neville, ‘I’m not gay!’ Seamus was still sulking and had not come down to breakfast.

Gossip still had not lightened Harry’s spirits.

“I have something to show you, Harry,” said Luna in her dreamy voice from down the table. That is all people want to do these days, always showing, showing, showing… “It’s really quite good.”

Harry nodded and turned to Hermione who was sitting across from him, looking as if she really wanted to say something. Harry stared at her as conversation buzzed and the clicking of forks on plates infested his ears, making his headache throb. “What is it, Hermione?”

“Occlumency,” she burst out. “You’re going to practice today, right, Harry?”

“Yeah,” he mumbled.

“Good because it’s very important. Have you met Artemis?” Harry glanced at the blank faced, large eyed, tall girl sitting next to Hermione. She was the only Slytherin down for breakfast, and she was currently patting her kitten whose silver fur was the same colour as its owner’s hair.

“Um,” said Harry.

“Well she’s very good at Occlumency and Legilamency,” said Hermione briskly, “and she’ll be your teacher.”

Quan suddenly came in and sat next to Harry. Harry’s eyes widened and he felt a blush start to creep across his cheeks as he fumbled nervously with his breakfast. “Harry can do that later,” said Quan forcefully. “He needs Apparation training first.”

“He doesn’t,” Hermione snapped crossly. “He needs Occlumency training as soon as possible because it takes a while.”

“Come on Hermione,” said Ron from Harry’s other side. “Apparation training won’t take up much time. It’s better to get it over and done with.”

“Actually,” came Anthony’s voice from down the table, “it’s better to alternate between the two.”

“Alright,” said Hermione, “but he has to do Occlumency first.”

“Has everyone forgotten about his Combat Training?” came Padma’s annoyed shout from next to Anthony. “He is way too behind!”

“Don’t forget that bloody Protection crap we have to do after breakfast,” Justin said from the other end of the table. “Besides, Occlumency involves playing with Harry’s mind, and I wouldn’t trust a Slytherin to do that.”

“Yeah,” said Quan with dawning comprehension, “she’s with them!

“But she’s also with us,” said Ginny indignantly and coming to Artemis and Hermione’s defence. “She can be trusted.”

Then Artemis Moon’s voice was heard. “If I’m to teach Potter,” she said in her deep monotone, “it’s only for the Cause.”

“Cause, my arse,” muttered Justin.

“Harry should do Apparation first,” said Cho loudly as if that settled the matter.

All this time Harry had had his head down, staring at his eggs. He had not wanted to look at Quan in fear that he would embarrass himself, and he had not wanted to look at Hermione because she always had this ‘look’ about her when she argued, that he really did not want to see. In all honesty, he thought that Hermione was right: Occlumency was far more important than any of the other programs set up at Pegasus Lair, but Occlumency was by far the last thing he wanted to do.

He felt a tap on his shoulder, and he looked behind him to see Luna standing there. She smiled, and in a fit of relief, he left the canteen with her.

There was a large room that Harry had not visited yet. The floor of it was covered in soft blue gymnastic mats, and on one wall was a large mural. Harry walked over to it and stared, while Luna went to the storeroom. The mural was painted in plain colours such as yellow, blue, green, orange, grey and black. Orange had been mixed with white to make light shades that made up the large image of a phoenix outlined in black, while next to it was the pale green and black of a dragon. The two creatures were facing each other, wings unfolded and glorious, and they had their mouths open as if they were roaring and squawking at each other. Or maybe laughing, or singing, or shouting.

The two creatures made up the large backdrop with the grey background, while on top of them was a strange assortment of peoples’ hands. The members of the Dragon League and Dumbledore’s Army had dipped their hands in different coloured paints and had pressed them to the wall. Under each hand, Harry could see, they had written their names with black and had drawn quick black sketches of animals.

Luna came up and stood next to him. He looked down and she was smiling. “There’s only one person left who has not put themselves there,” she said. She was holding two small buckets of paint, two paint brushes and she had to put them down to point to the small blank space in the middle of the mural.

The D.A. had left Harry a spot near the middle because he was their leader. Harry saw that just next to his empty spot there was a green hand with long fingers. Underneath was written the name, ‘Draco’, and next to the name was not a dragon, nor a snake. It was of a small white bird.

“I thought you might like red,” said Luna, “but if you want a different colour -“

“No,” said Harry softly, “red is good.” He held out his right hand, and she dipped a large paintbrush in the red bucket, and then proceeded to paint his palm and fingers thoroughly with thick, smelly paint. Then he brought his hand up and pressed to the blank space.

After he pulled away, Luna said, “Sanitora,” and the paint was cleaned from his hand.

Luna dipped a smaller, more delicate paintbrush with a thick wooden handle in the next tin of strong black paint. She handed it to Harry, and he brought it up to the wall to messily write ‘Harry’ underneath his red hand. After gathering some more black paint on the brush, he hesitated before drawing his animal. He looked at what the others had drawn; Goyle had drawn a moth, Hermione’s was an otter, Cho had drawn a swan, Quan’s a Chinese dragon, and there were many other unique animals. Harry smiled, knowing exactly what to draw.

He pulled back from it a moment later and the small stag stared at him from the wall.

All the members of Dumbledore’s Army were in the courtyard when Harry and Luna came outside. Harry did not know where the Dragon League was, but he supposed the members had their own things to do. A warm breeze ruffled their hair as the Army assembled themselves around Angelina, and she spoke loudly and confidently.

“There are three main levels of Outward Protection Charms,” she said. “Then with each level comes two to four different types. The first, an outward, frontal protection shield; the second, a three hundred and sixty degrees protection shield; the third, an outward, mass frontal protection shield; and lastly, the shield that can only be achieved on the third level: a three hundred and sixty degrees mass joint protection shield.” She finished, and then eyed the group with her dark, menacing glare. “Got that?” she snapped.

Most quivered under her strange fierceness, but some were trembling with something else: an impatient excitement.

Harry already knew the first level, and apparently, so did most of the D.A. Alicia Spinnet explained to Harry that the first level did not need to be perfected, and so the older members of the D.A. taught the members not yet graduated the second level. Alicia tutored Harry while their friends practiced confidently around them, and sounds and colours of magic rippled through the air within the courtyard.

Concentration and the emotion of wanting to protect made the magic. “Amphiprotego singaro sera!” The magic was a strong blue, bursting from Harry’s wand, spreading, and then surrounded him in a transparent cylinder.

Alicia clapped her hands together and grinned. “Good work Harry! Now try that spell in Level Three. We’ll be doing the last two Types in,” she checked her watch, “twenty minutes.” Then she wandered off to help Michael Corner, who was having trouble with the first type in the second level.

Harry did the frontal spell first, as he already knew it and thought it might prepare him for the one that would shield his whole body. Harry knew that Level Three was hardest and slowest to do, but it had the greatest result. The Level warded off almost anything that did not have a pre-resistance. All physical attacks, and all written hexes, jinxes and curses were reflected by it. It was tiring to perfect, and the caster had to practice so the spell would not delay.

Level Two, however, was sometimes better than Three, as it had the effect of half reflect, where the potency of the attacking spell was half-nullified, and half-reflected back to the attacker.

Amphiprotego singaro magistarius refes,” Harry shouted boldly but to no avail; only a milky mist came shimmering from his wand.

“May I help?” It was the deep voice of Quan that made Harry shiver, and then he blushed when he felt a strong yet gentle hand press against the small of his back.

“Sh - sure,” Harry stuttered, and then swallowed when Quan came up behind him and pressed his front against Harry’s back.

Quan placed his right hand over Harry’s. “I’ll show you,” Quan whispered, and his breath tickled Harry’s neck.

The older boy held Harry’s hand up and told him to wave in a more confident arc, and to not let the wand shake in his hand. “Think of Darkness, not happiness,” said Quan as he stepped away. “That is what protection is about; taking harm’s energy and using it for yourself.”

And Harry did. He glared at nothing and thought of hate and the tainted parts of good, then said the words and held his wand with bold confidence. The magic seemed to grow within him before it spread out to make the misty cylinder of the shield.

Harry looked beyond the shield at Quan and grinned, but then he realized he was panting with the exertion of his own magical energy.

The shield shuddered and vanished, and Quan came over, grabbed Harry’s arm and pulled him down to sit on the cracked concrete. “You did well, Harry,” said Quan, though he was frowning and his dark eyes were wary. “But it was a few seconds delayed, and you seemed to have called on the wrong energy.” Harry was confused and speechless, and Quan said quietly, “You need to call on outward Darkness, not the Darkness within you.”

Harry froze, and Quan got up and made his way towards the older D.A. members who had grouped themselves a little ways off. Harry’s heart was beating very fast. The Darkness within you…

He got up and made his way to his Gryffindor friends, who were standing around talking. The three Houses had split up into their respective groups. Angelina and Katie were talking with the Hufflepuffs, Quan and Alicia were instructing the Ravenclaws, and the Weasley twins were making their way over to Harry and the others. “This should be easy,” said George confidently when he and his brother stopped in front of the Gryffindors. “You’re already friends and know each other well, and that always helps.”

What they were to practice was the group frontal protection shield, which did not need familiarity between the group to perform. The last Charm, and the hardest of all, did.

The Ravenclaws demonstrated first. They all stood in a line in front of Quan and Alicia, and after a simultaneous flick of their wands, they shouted, “Protego dovetis fuse!” Rectangular, transparent blue shields appeared in front of each person, then a second later the vertical sides of each shield sought out the one next to it and joined on, and all the shields became one single long unit.

The rest of the D.A. applauded, and then it was the Hufflepuffs’ turn. They did the same without any trouble, and then it was Gryffindor who had to cast the charm.

“Can’t we go to lunch yet?” complained Seamus loudly, as the Weasley twins tried to get them all assembled. “I’m hungry and tired.”

“Well you would be,” said Fred, “after that exhausting night in the Hufflepuff Dorm.”

Those who heard snickered and giggled as Seamus went bright red. The line of Gryffindors held out their wands and shouted confidently, “Protego dovetis fuse!” It had the same affect: strong, long and high, and Harry smiled honestly for the first time that day.

Dumbledore’s Army went to lunch in a loud, but tired group. They had decided together that they needed to eat to be able to perform the last Type. The Dragon League were already there looking just as tired and ruffled, but maybe a little less happy. Harry glared at Malfoy, whose eyes seemed distant and whose cheeks were paler than usual. What’s your big secret? Harry thought. What does Voldemort want with you?

Harry decided to hold his tongue until Mass Meeting. He knew that would be the proper way to bring the issue of Voldemort out.

Lunch had people in argument. The Uniform United said they needed supplies and they were itching to go on a raid. The Ward Squad had sudden ideas that involved a lot of research, and Angelina, Alicia and Katie kept saying they needed to perfect the Joint Shield. Then the Slytherin members of the Crossfire Consortium decided to mention that they had been waiting for the D.A. to hurry up so they could practice more fighting, because it had been too many days since they had fought as a group.

Harry put his face in his hands just as Parkinson threw her food at Katie, and Hermione started talking about Occlumency again

Would Sirius have let this happen?

Probably. He would have gotten his own food and thrown it at all the Slytherins, and then he would have laughed heartily at it.

Harry smiled. Then what would he do?

He would leave with you, go to his room, and hold you until you both stopped giggling

But it wouldn’t end there, would it?

No. It would be a beginning, not an end.

Quan stood up unnoticed as cursing, shouting and food was thrown back and forth. “Come on, Harry, let’s go.”

Harry, surprised, got up and followed.

He stood ready with his wand a few feet away from Quan, as Quan threw instructions at him. “There are no words,” said Quan. “Remember that. It’s all about state of mind.” They had set up various poles up around the oval, decorated with distinct red ribbons. Quan pointed to the nearest one. “Pretend it’s a wonderful thing that you want desperately to go to. You know what to do, Harry.” Quan suddenly beamed and Harry’s concentration was thrown for a second, his focus on the sudden blaze Quan’s dark eyes.

Harry turned, once more memorizing the pole, and then turned back to gaze inside his own mind

Safety, want, move, and he saw the image of the pole, standing in that distinct patch of long grass, and he felt the flood of golden water, a warm flowing that connected from his chest to the area bathed in white light, and the golden stream was like a rush, expanding. Then suddenly there was a click somewhere inside himself like a sudden idea or realization, and barely consciously he waved his wand in a small arc beside his hip.

There was a flicker and a rush of wind for one a second, as if he had just transfigured himself into a moth, wings beating madly against the rush of magic, and then transfiguring back again. Harry was trembling with that rush and when he opened his eyes, he was staring wide-eyed at the pole. Quan ran up to him threw his arms around Harry’s shoulders from behind. “I knew you could do it Harry,” he murmured in Harry’s ear.

Harry blinked out of his stupor, suddenly conscious of a warm lean body pressed against his back, strong arms around his shoulders and warm breath against his ear and neck. Harry tensed, gulped, and Quan put his hands on Harry’s shoulders and turned him around. “You can do anything,” said Quan softly. “This I know for sure.” And all Harry could do was nod.

Each pole was just a bit further, and every time Harry disapparated, he apparated just near each one. The dizziness associated with the strange flying slowly dissipated with each spell, and Harry was starting to find the magic very pleasant. It was nothing like flying on broom, instead it was like he grew wings in a flutter so quick, like the flick of candle or the shutter from a slide show, and the gold shone bright and tantalizing within his magical blood. It was like a lifting of a curse or a sudden release from capture, and the knowledge of such a magic allowed his mouth to form a crooked smile from the crashing waves of wonder.

Time passed. Harry stood on one end of the oval, peering at the colourful figure of Quan, his image just a spot against the surrounding green trees and grass. Quan waved, signalling he was ready, and Harry’s excitement and confidence grew, so much so that his concentration wavered. When he apparated, it was to crash right into Quan, and they both fell over.

Quan chuckled softy and Harry felt dizzy from the distance he had pushed himself, and they both sat in the grass. They pulled themselves up so they were squatting, Harry straddling Quan’s leg and Quan had hold of his shoulder for balance and one hand on the ground to keep himself upright. Harry, his eyes lidded and face slack, barely noticed he had the front Quan’s shirt scrunched in his fists or that Quan’s smiling face was so close, or that Quan pulled Harry down a bit when Harry pulled on Quan’s shirt to pull him closer.

Their lips pressed and fluttered together in a second of blank thoughts, their lips plump and red like ripe fruit, breath hasty and wet with exhaustion and desire. They grabbed clumsily at each other and they lost balance, falling back on the grass as a warm wet tongue was pushed into Harry’s mouth, and Harry played with it with his own, noticing Quan’s taut muscles under the thin white shirt, and there were fingers fumbling with Harry’s own shirt. Quan smelt like skin, cologne and man, and, like slow water pouring over his head, Harry realized that Quan was a man, large and muscular under Harry’s petite body and Harry’s smaller hands, and still their tongues and lips were insistent as if immortal with never ending energy.

The air was silent save the chirping of insects, the distant conversation of birds, and the wet, smacking sounds of kissing. Quan’s hands were up Harry’s shirt, playing, and Harry was feeling Quan’s thighs, strong and hard under his burning fingers, but deep down Harry knew, something was wrong, something like a shadow of sorrow and sadness towering over his mind, an insistent memory, perhaps it was trying to whisper in his ear. All this, the kissing and the feel of a man under him, was familiar, and Harry pushed his fingers through the other’s hair, feeling it thick instead of thin, short instead of long, solid instead of silky.

Harry opened his eyes and pulled away slowly, and then gasped and pulled back altogether when he realized it was not Sirius under him. It was Quan all along and… it was wrong.

There was a sudden flash of memory and he closed his eyes tight, burying his face in his hands. The wet and sad feathered kisses of Cho, the frantic and desperate groping from Cedric under the darkness of the bleaches, the blazing, angry eyes of Malfoy in the Entrance Hall, the wary tongue of Sirius in his own mouth and Sirius… Sirius was gone, Cedric was gone, Cho was Quan’s sister… and… and…

And before he knew it, wind was stinging his eyes as he was walking fast, away, away from the beautiful pain of Quan’s kisses, and he did not look back.

Harry burst into the canteen, breathing heavily and sobbing, face wet with tears. Ron, Hermione and Ernie were up in an instant and were touching him, holding him, whispering in his ear and with a frustrated growl Harry pushed them away and sat heavily in his usual seat at the large dinner table. Without looking up, he knew everyone was staring at him.

Tears slid down his cheeks and Sirius was still dead, even when Harry had written to him several times a day, there were no replies. Ever.

The silence was almost palpable. Someone slid a plate with food on it under Harry’s nose, but his eyes were so blurred he could not see what was on it. He sniffled and the tears stopped, and he supposed the green blur was peas and the white stuff was mashed potato and yes, he had kissed Quan and yes, he thought it was Sirius and yes, Sirius was still dead.

A harsh voice cracked through the silence like the smashing of broken china and Harry winced. “You always have to get everyone’s attention, don’t you, Potter,” snapped Malfoy. “Have to come in here crying like a baby and expecting every person to turn around and comfort you.”

Ron growled, “Shut the fuck up, Malfoy.” Hermione was rubbing Harry’s back and Harry snapped his head up to glare at Malfoy.

“Who cares if your bloody dog is dead,” continued Malfoy. “Grow. Up.”

“Shut up,” croaked Harry, sounding so pathetic and weak he clenched his fists and willed some confidence to show itself from within. “You don’t know.”

“Oh don’t I?” Malfoy stood up and narrowed his eyes. “Wasn’t it my father in Azkaban? Isn’t it me and my friends risking our lives pretending to be something we’re not?”

“You’re father came back,” Ron told him, “and that’s different.”

“Yeah, he did,” said Malfoy, softer now. “But don’t think for a second that he came back in one piece, and don’t you dare, Potter, believe that you are the only one who knows pain.”

Harry stared at the pale, fragile boy in front of him. So young, so confident, so naïve, but his eyes were cold and grey, and so very, very old. We’re hardly adults and already our hearts are black.

Someone else stood up, and the echo of their chair scraping on the ground crashed through the large room. “Time to go,” muttered Goldstein. “Gotta prepare the potion.” A moment later and a few others had left. Harry and Malfoy were still glaring at each other when the other Slytherins got up too and Nott pulled on Malfoy’s sleeve. They left.

Hermione made Harry eat, and he felt a bit better after a few mouthfuls of steak and mashed potatoes. “What happened, Harry?” Hermione asked softly.

“Quan,” mumbled Harry, and he saw her eyes widen slightly.

The Mass Meeting was just as tense and morbid as dinner was. Quan came in and gave Harry a shy smile that said, ‘It’s okay, I understand,’ and Harry felt the guilt drip slowly and deadly into his mind. This time last night Ron had just found out one of his brothers was a Death Eater, and all Harry could do was angst about his Godfather’s death, and he had not given Ron much sympathy at all.

There were other things on Harry’s mind though. Ever since Malfoy had spoken at the dinner table, Harry had remembered Malfoy had information concerning Voldemort, and Harry tried to will himself to think about that instead of the obvious pain in Quan’s eyes, or the aching in his own heart, or the guilt. The Dragon League stood in front of the sitting Dumbledore’s Army. Malfoy took his potion.

“Enoch village was raided last night,” began Malfoy in his usual drawl, but something in his voice said that he was still riled up. “There was a shelter for squibs there, and we, the Death Eaters, destroyed it.”

“Did anyone die?” asked Hermione in her this-is-business voice.

Malfoy’s face was impassive. “Of course.”

There were angry growls and sighs from the members of D.A. “Only squibs died though,” added Malfoy, as if he thought that might make people feel better.

“And?” prompted Ernie.

Malfoy shrugged. “And nothing. Can we go now?”

“No,” said Harry, and everyone turned to him. He narrowed his eyes. “Tell us what Voldemort said to you at the meeting.”

There was a shuffle as everyone turned back to Malfoy. Malfoy seemed to hesitate, and then he turned and talked quietly to the D.L. members. After a moment he turned back to his interrogators. “He made some plans.”

“Why didn’t you say so before?” snapped Ernie.

Malfoy shrugged elegantly. “We didn’t think you wanted that information. It doesn’t concern you, really.”

“We’ll figure for ourselves what concerns us or not,” said Ernie angrily. “So tell us.”

“He just wants Potter, and will probably go after him at Hogwarts.”

Ron’s eyes widened. “How could that not concern us?”

Malfoy shrugged and hmmed, looking almost smug. Harry scowled. “He’s lying.”

Malfoy’s eyes widened in mock innocence. “But how could I lie, Potter, when you saw me take the potion?”

“I mean, that’s not what Voldemort said at all. Everyone knows he’s after me, and everyone knows he’ll eventually go after Hogwarts this year or the next. Lupin wrote to me and told me about that ages ago.” Harry was frowning and giving Malfoy an intense look. “I’m talking about what he said to you, about you.”

Surprise flickered over Malfoy’s features briefly before his face went impassive again. Then he turned his head slightly and exchanged an enigmatic glance with Nott, before addressing the others again. “That,” said Malfoy tightly, “is my concern.”

“No it’s not Malfoy,” persisted Harry, “because that sort of information being hidden away could endanger my friends.”

Malfoy narrowed his eyes. “What are you implying?”

“I’m implying, Malfoy, that Voldemort is planning to use you in something that has nothing to do with village raids.”

“Well I can assure you -“ Malfoy suddenly cut himself off. He started again, “It’s not -“ He was cut off again and he paled slightly. He took a deep breath and said, “It is my business, and this aspect of the Dark Lord’s plans will not endanger you or your friends.”

“But what’s going on?” said Harry, louder than before. “What’s he want with you?”

“I said,” Malfoy bit out harshly, “it’s none of you business.”

“But -“

“This meeting is over,” snapped Malfoy, and he turned on his heel and stomped off.

A second later and Harry was out of the room, walking fast, following Malfoy down the corridor. He caught up to him, grabbed Malfoy’s shoulder and shoved him hard against the wall. “What the fuck is going on!”

“Not your business!” Malfoy struggled and Harry held both of Malfoy’s upper arms and had him pinned to the wall.

“What does he want with you? Is it to spy?”

Malfoy growled and continued to struggle so Harry slammed his body against Malfoy’s to pin him to the wall. Both boys stilled instantly, both breathing hard.

“Tell me,” said Harry, softer now their faces were so close. “I won’t tell the others if you don’t want me to. But I am their leader, and I need to protect them.”

“It’s not me they need protection from,” said Malfoy quietly, and he grabbed onto Harry’s arms, so they were holding each other, but Malfoy made no move to push Harry away. A pause to let their breathing steady, and Malfoy said, “I’ve been selected.”

“For what?” asked Harry immediately.

For a moment Malfoy closed his eyes and Harry was left to stare at his flushed face. Malfoy ignored Harry’s question and said, his eyes still closed, “I’m not the only one.”

Harry was desperate now. “Not the only one for what?”

Malfoy sighed. “The Dark Lord wanted the giants,” he murmured, “and he wants other creatures…” He stopped and opened his eyes. Suddenly, as if he only just realized what he had been about to say, he shoved Harry off him.

“What does he want?” said Harry quickly. “Tell me!”

“No.” Malfoy began to walk away.


“Forget it,” said Malfoy over his shoulder as he receded. “It doesn’t concern you.” And then, as an after thought, he said, “It’s my problem.”


Seamus found Harry a little while later, sitting on the ground and slumped against the wall.

“It’s Angelina,” said Seamus as Harry got up, “she’s hell pissed off, and a real fright.” They slowly walked down the corridor. “I’m kinda scared of her.”

“Yeah,” mumbled Harry, “I suppose it’s the unfinished shields, is it?”

“Aye, but I’m so tired, I don’t want to do it now.”

But they were made to by Angelina and Hermione, and in the large room with the mural on one wall, the Gryffindors gathered.

The older Gryffindors made the younger ones get into a circle, front facing outwards. No one said anything to Harry, but he got some strange looks. He had gone on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and thoughts that day, and one memory that wouldn’t leave his mind was the image of Malfoy’s face so close to his, and the feel of Malfoy’s breath on his own face. Harry was confused and exhausted from it all.

Angelina commanded them to concentrate. “And feel the links of friendship within you,” she instructed. “It’s much the same feeling you get when calling a patronus. Sense the others around you and gather your combined power! And for Merlin’s sake, get it bloody right!”

Fred counted down from three and the Gryffindors shouted at the same time, “Amiti protego fuse expelleris!

Something shifted and the air shuddered as Harry stood with the others, frowning in concentration. A brief silence, and then -

“Aaaaargh! Pathetic! What is WRONG with you lot!”

“It’s their first time Angelina,” said Alicia quietly, “they’re bound to -“


“…Never mind.”

They tried for another hour or so. They were all tired, and knew that they needed to rest before practicing something so advanced. Neville, quivering under Angelina’s stern gaze had mentioned as much, but that had just make Angelina rant about unpredictable Death Eaters and, “What if you’re tired when they attack? Huh? What about THEN?”

After a while the group left the room and walked together to the research room full of tables littered with quills and scrolls. Harry had not gotten to sit down, however, because Cho had come up to him.

“There’s something I need to -“

“Show me. Yeah, I know.”

“It won’t take long,” said Cho cheerfully as they walked down and through narrow dark corridors Harry had not seen yet. She smiled up at him. “The Crossfire Consortium will give you your first lesson tomorrow. It’ll be fun, you’ll see.”

“Yeah, okay,” said Harry distractedly. He rubbed the back of his neck and looked at her warily. “Listen, about earlier today… I mean, about Quan...” He trailed off, expecting her to pick up what he was saying, but she continued to just look at him with a small smile and large brown eyes.

They stopped in front of a doorway, its door warped and wonky on its hinges. Cho suddenly kicked out at it and it banged open.

She walked in, cast the lumos spell and then turned to him. “I don’t worry about my brother, Harry, he can look after himself.” She shrugged. “It’s none of my concern, really.”

Harry frowned and looked around. It looked like just another narrow corridor; dirty and dusty with dead-ends at left and right. His eyes widened before he narrowed his eyes to peer through the darkness at the things hanging on the walls.

There were metal objects hanging, and when his own wand joined Cho’s in the lumos spell, more light glinted off the sharp edges of random silver.

“Hmm,” murmured Harry in appreciation, but then he looked down at Cho again. “I didn’t mean to hurt him. I mean…” He sighed and closed his eyes. “Kissing him and then leaving him -“

“Harry,” she interrupted, “he doesn’t care, I promise.” Her voice took on a serious edge and her expression hardened. “These are serious times; none of us really have time to think about our romantic futures or what a kiss might mean. I’m not offended, he’s not offended, and kissing is fun.” She grinned, and Harry returned one of his own.

They both turned back to the wall and Cho held up her wand. “These are weapons we’ve brought back from raids,” she said, “and we practice with them often, or at least, we did earlier. We’ve kind of passed the experimentation stage now.

“What you need to do, Harry, is pick yours, and you will be trained in combat with your chosen weapon.”

Harry gave Cho a determined look of understanding, and he started to walk slowly up and down, holding his lighted wand high and looking at each weapon in turn.

There were chains, spears, flails, swords, knives and daggers, crossbows and other things that were fascinating to Harry, such as the long chain that had handles on each end, and gloves and boots that were fixed with long metal spikes.

Harry knew what he wanted. There was a weapon back at Hogwarts, hidden in the Headmaster’s office and encased in glass, and Harry belived that was the only weapon for him. However, because he could not have his desired now, he gave Cho his wand to hold and pulled a large sword off its nails and looked at it closely.

It was a double-edged blade, and the handle and hilt was tightly wrapped in worn leather. It was a simple design, and when he swung it out and brought the flat of the blade to the outward flat of his palm, he could see that the blade was blunt in places from use. It was old, and hardly grand, but Harry thought it would be great to practice with. He swung it in the darkness a few more times, smiling a bit at the woop it made as he cut the air. It felt good and powerful in his hands, and brought him the feeling of a lifting sort of glee.

Cho turned from where she was pulling something large and leathery off the wall. “Good choice,” she said. “I’m good with the sword too, though I’m into the traditional Chinese swords myself.” She put their wands in one of his hands, and then took the sword from him, putting it into its black leather holster. “This,” she explained, holding up it up, its buckles jingling with the movement, “will be strapped to your uniform, so the sword stays on your back.”

Harry grinned in reply, unable to stifle his excitement for when he would next use his new weapon.


The room was thumping with a base so loud, the melody was hardly audible. Harry stood on the edge, leaning against the rough stone wall, a watcher, separated from the raging river of moving flesh and bodies. Limbs were thrown, bodies were moving, someone was throwing water around and the whole thing was pumping, wet and dusty from the dirt kicked up from the floor. The dancing fireflies cast small beams of light, so Harry only saw bits and pieces of the people in front of him; a tantalizing dance of highlighted skin. He could taste the dust and sweat on the air.

There were mouths open in vibrant ecstasy, lips on others’ mouths and skin, and the music was like a drug, fuelling everyone with energy and inspiration to just move and not care. The girl in the song sung, “I kiss your lips and close my eyes.

“Take you away to paradise.

“Make everybody see that I love you and you love me.

Harry bit into his bar of chocolate and watched as Parkinson and Zabini danced on the table-turned-platform in the middle of it all. They were only wearing their knickers and tank-tops, having discarded their clothing a little while ago.

He hated the way he almost saw Sirius in everything; and it only really happened after he had died, when Harry started to really evaluate what they once had. A brush of fingers, and Harry thought it was Sirius summoning him, but it was really just one of his friends trying to get his attention. He had to think about the here and now, where his friends were.

It was getting easier to do, but that did not stop it from being hard to forget.

Harry laughed softly to himself when Parkinson and Zabini started kissing each other heatedly on the platform. There were a few loud complaints from some of the people below, and only a few seconds had passed before Malfoy and Smith pushed the two girls off and started dancing enthusiastically on the table.

Malfoy’s hair was slightly mused, and he wore a white loose corset that tied at the front, so Harry could see a long strip of his front, including his small belly button. His shorts were black and long, as if they had once been trousers he had cut the bottoms off, and the ragged edges went well past the knees. Harry shook his head; he did not quite understand this weird teenaged wizarding fashion. When Malfoy turned around, Harry could see something dark that covered his back, and some of his neck and shoulders.

Harry leaned forward to peer threw the flickering darkness, but could not make it out.

He realized, quite suddenly, that whenever he thought of Malfoy, he could completely forget about Sirius. Harry looked away from Malfoy’s beautiful and thrilled face, and instead gazed longingly towards the door. After finishing his chocolate and quickly glancing around, he headed for it.

When he shut the door behind him, the music was quashed to a muffle. He walked back to his room tiredly.

When he entered his room, he got quite a shock.

His hand was still on the door handle, as he stared openly at Hermione, Ron and Ernie, who had made themselves comfortable on his bed.

“Close the door Harry,” said Hermione gently, “and come join us.”

He did so, sitting next to Ernie and leaning a little against him. “What’s going on?”

Ron smiled wryly at him. “We knew you were going to leave early. You were in one of your moods again.”

“Besides,” added Hermione, “it’s about time we had some real words with you.”

“Mmph,” mumbled Harry dismissively, shifting his seat on the covers. “I don’t feel like talking about work now. It’s bloody Happy Hour.”

“We’re not here to talk about that,” said Hermione patiently. “We’re just having a chat, that’s all.”

Harry exchanged a quick glance with the boy next to him. Ernie’s face was impassive, but he appeared somewhat amused. Harry shrugged. “What you want to talk about?”

Hermione got straight to the point. “What happened with Quan today?”

Harry glanced away guiltily and bit his lip. He figured he may as well talk about the things that had been rattling around his mind like a lost bludger, and infusing his hormones lately. He shrugged again and gave them all a bored look to tone down the air of seriousness that had become thick between them. “I just, um… well I, kissed him, today, on the oval.”

His three friends were instantly surprised. Ron’s mouth had dropped open and it was so wide that Harry could see the red back of his throat.

“Since when,” Ron choked out, “do you kiss, you know, boys and stuff?”

Hermione turned her surprised gaze on Ron. “Oh come on, as if you didn’t know.”

“B-but,” stuttered Ron, “you kissed Cho and, well…”

“Let’s see,” said Ernie finally, “Harry goes to the Yule Ball with the hottest girl in our year, then he dates the hottest girl in school, and yet he still wants to kiss boys?” He laughed softly. “Sound pretty, erm…”

“We know what it sounds like,” said Hermione. She turned to Harry inquiringly as he ran a hand through his hair. “So you kissed Quan. Was it any good?”

“We don’t need to hear this,” said Ron, his voice strained.

“It was alright,” said Harry. “But…” he looked away. “I’ve had better.”

“Who?” demanded Ron.

Harry blushed under his friends’ intense stares. “Well, first there was Cedric, then -“

“Diggory?” exclaimed Ron.

“Yeah,” said Harry before clearing his throat. “And then there was Sirius -“

“Sirius? Oh Merlin…”

“Alright Ron,” Hermione chided, putting an arm around his neck. He calmed down.

“Then Cho, then Quan. And that’s it.”

“You guys just kissed, right?”

Harry was taken aback by Hermione’s question. “Who?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Any of them.”

“Um…” His mouth was going a bit dry as he thought back to previous experiences. “Well, with most of them, yeah. Except with Sirius.”

Ernie was frowning thoughtfully. “I thought he was your Godfather.”

“He was,” Hermione confirmed quietly, but she held a determined look on her face. “That wasn’t right of him.”

“It was me!” exclaimed Harry suddenly. “Don’t blame him, Hermione!” His voice sounded shrill, but he did not care. “I seduced him, not the other way around! I don’t care what people say -“

“Who said that?”

“Lupin. But -“

“Then he was right, Harry,” she said loudly. “You were only fifteen!”

“But I wanted to.”

“And he took advantage of that.”

“NO!” He made to stand up, but Ernie grabbed his wrist.

“Sit down, Potter,” he said softly, and Harry looked into the fierce confidence in his blue eyes. Harry sat back down.

“I - I loved him,” Harry mumbled.

There was silence for a long time.

Ernie broke it. “So,” he asked tentatively, “what was it like?”

Harry grinned. “Amazing,” he said, and he remembered.



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