Disclaimer: Nothing is mine and I'm not trying to sell it.
Author's Notes: Munky for betaing and B:tVS for Xander's linoleum comment.
Take One Step Away
There are assumptions and there are assumptions. There is Harry Potter, there is Draco Malfoy, and sometimes they are even linked with an "and" and sometimes they are. Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy.
It made Ron sputter.
He stared at their linked hands and went,
"I still don't get it."
"You never pay attention."
They flicked the blood away from their faces.
Ron looked at Harry.
Harry looked up,
"I think Malfoy's cutting himself in the Astronomy tower again."
"Yeah? Bother," Ron resumed trimming the twigs on his broom.
"Do you think his dad kicks little dogs?"
"I wouldn't be surprised if his dad kicks little children."
"You think his dad kicks him?"
"Would be great if he did," Ron laughed.
"Malfoy, you're slitting your wrist."
"The wrong way." Malfoy looked at him irritably.
"That depends on your original intention." The corner of his mouth curled in. "You git," he added then resumed nicking his wrist.
Potter watched as Malfoy briefly eyed the grounds through the window, whispered some words under his breath, then flicked his wrist decisively. Red droplets arced out then fell away from tower level.
He could faintly hear screams coming from the grounds below and Malfoy bowed his head, smugly; whipped his wrist around, once.
"Malfoy, what--" Potter's words got cut off as a splot of blood landed on his eye.
Malfoy slipped away while Potter was otherwise occupied.
Harry had just made it back to the common room, eye throbbing from rubbing and the sting of salt-iron, and ears ringing from second year's crying to him of burns from acid blood-rain.
It made him want to tug his scarf down and cover his prefects badge, made him want to scrub at his skin until perhaps his scar rubs off. And he comes in and hears,
"You have Malfoy cooties."
"Do. Not. EVEN."
He remembers the blood and the knife and the face curling in on itself.
"Do too!" Seamus' eyes glinted.
Harry's eyes got big and he whipped around. "Says' who?!"
"Says you and the blood on your fingertips." Ron cut in and smirked. "Betcha Malfoy comes in with a shiner tomorrow."
It was times like this that Harry could just kiss his best friend.
No one was winning, especially not Ginny, and Harry was just trying to restrain her but he's never dealt with seizures before, at least not with someone that was not himself.
Ron's eye was turning black and blood was oozing from Malfoy's nose and they weren't stopping and neither was Ginny, the potion looking like green slime over her skin and he was trying not to touch it while she jerked in his arms and her head slammed back and came away with red more angry than a Weasley. And Ron at this point was angry enough for the both of them.
Someone cast Petrificus Totalus and one redhead and one blond stopped where they were. Everyone else tried to edge far from the door.
"Why is it," and each word weighed out carefully like hemlock, "that our esteemed House of the Lion cannot control themselves for the one minute that it takes for me to come back to this room?" Snape coldly surveyed the scene. "Forty points from Gryffindor for causing the disturbance."
Everyone's eyes slid to Ginny as she spasmed again. Snape let out a breath and swept over, grabbing a bottle from a shelf along the way. He sprinkled some of it over the green and it retreated. Ginny fell limp, then shifted and raised a hand to the back of her head, blinking.
"Ten more points from Gryffindor for not knowing the treatment for a simple contact poison." Snape stared at Harry. "You of all people should know this already."
But he really said
You need to know this already
and Ginny was smiling up at Harry in gratitude and hope and reaching up to him with one blood-stained hand to help her rise. Harry numbly pulled her up while Snape let Ron and Malfoy go.
Ron was muttering darkly as he tried to usher Ginny out and to the infirmary. Harry just tried to wipe her blood off from his hand, but it still felt sticky and he tried not to feel sick.
Snape glared at them, "The next time she feels the need to send premonitions of doom, tell Professor Trelawney to send an elf."
There was some more noise from the corner before they settled down, Parkinson had caught Malfoy's wand when it rolled away and Malfoy had viciously snatched it back. He had hissed in her face,
"I don't trust you."
and she was sobbing.
Malfoy didn't seem to care and Snape continued the class.
There was a weak 'pop' and Draco Malfoy appeared in their dormroom, collapsed, stark naked, and covered in blood.
The first movement anyone made was Malfoy lifting his head and glaring a challenge at them through the hair covering his eyes.
"Like what you see?" He lifted a hand, slow and contained, and slicked his hair back with his own blood. The other arm was lifted then laid on the nearest bed. His fingers opened and closed on the sheets, leaving handprints, grasping the cloth then smoothing out the wrinkles. It quivered slightly.
Potter made an abortive movement toward the bed, stopped by Malfoy's sneer as he stood, slow, assured, with one white hand pressing and pressing into the mattress.
Malfoy was then casually cleaning himself off with Potter's sheets. Satin being all fine and good but sometimes you just have to appreciate white cotton. He reached for Potter's robes.
Potter's hand caught his wrist. Malfoy looked at him.
"You would stop me?"
Potter's eyes uncomfortably shifted to his puddled, reddened, sheets.
"Let me change them, at least." Potter transfigured the robes to Slytherin as Malfoy just looked. He then put on the robes and left.
If he slightly staggered as he left the Gryffindor dorm room, no one said anything.
There was a wobbly 'pop', and a bruised and bloody Draco Malfoy landed in Harry Potter's lap.
"Not. One. Word."
"This will not be a common arrangement." Malfoy batted away Potter's hand.
"Never thought it would."
and Malfoy took a breath and
lifted himself from Potter's lap, cleaned himself off, dressed, and left.
"Malfoy's all glowy again." Harry noted.
Hermione looked up. Seamus turned and tilted his head, consideringly. Together they noted Malfoy's shining alabaster cheeks.
"Rather fetching, isn't it?" Seamus murmured.
Malfoy stood up and away from his table, his hair refracting the sunlight.
"Pansy Patricita Parkinson, if you come near me with something like this one more time, I am going to chuck you into the lake." He levitated the shimmer powder she was chasing him with and hurled it across the room. This time, the only casualties were the cinnamon pastries and one Harry Potter.
Harry sneezed, shook himself off, and resumed eating. He wondered at Malfoy's aim.
Parkinson shrieked wetly and Harry tried to blink the glitter away from his eyes. Most of it clung tenaciously to his eyelashes. The rest of it was loosely settled across his cheeks and hair.
Both he and Malfoy now walked in a sparkling cloud. It was mostly in reds and pinks, purples and magenta. Malfoy was especially pissed that it clashed with his coloring. Insult to injury or some such.
Magical glitter. Sheesh.
"Headmaster Dumbledore would like to see you in his office please."
Dumbledore beamed at them. Potter opened his mouth, closed it. Opened it again, and found a cookie in his hand. Potter whispered 'thanks' and stuffed it in his mouth.
"So due to glitter and bad timing we're soulbonded, maybe even mindbonded, according to some daft prophesy, in order to save the school?"
"And life as you know it. But that's just secondary."
It's a tribute to the Headmaster's intelligence and forethought that he has established a reputation which allows him to say such things, in earnest, and still have people love him for it.
Boys will be boys and one of them thought of skinned knees and linoleum and eyelashes and glitter and it didn't matter who because next thing you knew, Potter was excusing himself from the room and Malfoy was dragging Zabini away with a particularly determined expression.
Malfoy stormed into the common room.
"Potter, would you kindly please just stop masturbating?!" Everyone froze. Potter snorted.
"If you would kindly stop fucking everything that moves, it would solve your problem."
"I would not be, as you so crudely put it, fucking everything that moves unless you could possibly find it in you to stop touching yourself Every. Half. Hour."
"You know," Ron says conversationally to Hermione, "I love Harry dearly, but there's some things I just don't want to know."
Harry's throat was raw and he really thought it was unfair.
First the scar, now this, and between the two he'll probably never have a decent night's sleep ever again.
There was a meek 'pop' and Harry uncurled from a ball to loosely lay panting. He looked over and, even so, was surprised.
Draco, blinked, breathed, and determinedly looked up at the ceiling.
"There are spells that will keep you alive no matter what, you know."
Now I do, Harry thought, but said out loud,
"Not even the Killing Curse?"
Malfoy paused from getting up and replied,
"Perhaps that," and resumed preparing to leave.
Everybody thought it odd that they rarely spoke to each other anymore. Even if the soulbond didn't work, there should have been something, but. no. Not one sign of affection and not one sign otherwise. No taunts, no pranks, no glares.
They could barely seem to meet each other's eyes.
There was a soft 'pop'.
Draco coughed and spat. Something clattered against the far wall.
"We've really got to stop meeting like this."
Harry studied the wall and followed the slick trail down. He thinks that it might've been Draco's tooth glinting at him from there.
"Accio." Harry caught it and wiped it off on the edge of his shirt. He blinked at it and then handed it to Draco.
"My very own tooth fairy." Draco snorted and dragged himself upright by Harry's arm. As soon as he was steady,
Malfoy let go. Grabbed the wand he kept in Potter's room and cleaned himself off.
"Got it backwards," Harry shook himself off. "The tooth fairy collects your tooth and leaves a favour in return."
Malfoy appropriated one of his cloaks and transfigured the Griffindor crest into Slytherin. He turned to go.
"On second thought." Malfoy paused and lobbed the tooth towards Harry.
Harry caught it as if it were golden.
"I'll collect later."
Nobody much cared when Potter started eating blood oranges or when Malfoy was seen snacking on a Reeses'. Or when Potter's potions scores started going up alongside a rise in Malfoy's charms grades.
But then it got creepy. Like when they started finishing each other's sentences, when Potter started to smirk and Malfoy's hair started getting unruly.
When they both got to the snitch at the exact same time, palms slapping together and fingers meeting around something flutteringly golden in a half-handshake too ironic for words.
Dumbledore shielded the bond from them for everybody's peace of mind.
There was a point where their distance closed.
Where they met each other's eyes on their last Leaving day and the hallway was veiled and murmured with early morning's promise. Early yet, and Harry had been memorising Hogwarts through his soles. It appeared that Draco had been doing the same.
The sun was yet below the horizon and the stones thrummed with anticipation. It would soon rise to Summer Solstice and perhaps that alone was enough to banish the idea of personal space.
They found themselves inches apart. Harry was opening his mouth and Draco was raising his hand. But the sky was brightening and sounds were coming from both directions.
And Draco closed his eyes for a moment, closed his hands, and the first person around the corner heard him clearly say,
"Your mother was a mudblood."
and everything paused, then rushed towards them.
"Malfoy." Potter stated and Malfoy looked at him and nodded.
And Potter shoved Malfoy and Malfoy pushed Potter away.
Hard enough that both of them staggered.
Summer Solstice; and the stones of Hogwarts were singing at its seams with suppressed power.
As soon as the last student left, the war began.
Malfoy has enough to make him respected and untrustworthy, synonymous really, in his own right amoung his ranks. Harry is the Boy Who Lived. But both of them were under even tighter leash due to their dormant bond. Bound, as it were. Hah.
Harry doesn't get much from the bond anymore and neither does Malfoy. Images, sometimes.
But enough so that maybe one Death Eater attack was foreseen.
Enough that maybe one hideout of the Order was razed.
Snape is dead. And both sides gamble.
There was one battle in particular, towards the end; both sides thought it would be over soon and both sides still belived they would win. So of course, no one does.
The battle scarred and the fresh wounded alike pluck at the edges of Harry's robe and he has no answers for them. He only has his scar and his name and no answers, yet people still beg to him for one.
He could only offer his hand to be sticky-grasped, over and over, but wishes he doesn't have to.
And its then that Harry gets an image.
A green flash of light and fingers smoothing closed a man's eyelids, who was strung up and disemboweled. The intestines were already shriveled and decaying, crawling with maggots, and
there is no such spell.
The corpse looked relieved.
He sees this through a blond fringe; and then suddenly Dumbledore.
Speaking to him indistinctly at wandpoint.
Malfoy was with them now.
Movement a bit stilted and eyes screaming obscenities.
Lucius Malfoy haunts Hogwarts with a lazy air. He riffles Draco Malfoy's hair sometimes. Sometimes Harry turns to find Lucius Malfoy there, silent and refusing to ask.
They say the ghost of Malfoy's father haunts Hogwarts in more ways than one, and Harry knows that even Hogwarts is not completely safe to Draco. Harry knows pride and he knows survival and he knows the inners and outers of a Slytherin, bound as he had been, and it doesn't make sense.
He watches Dumbledore as he moves to the head table. There are cookie crumbs on a corner and an edge of his star-shot robes and perhaps the aged wizard put them there himself.
Perhaps he's powerful enough.
The next time Lucius Malfoy appears to Harry, Harry will promise to ask. That is, he will add, if he lives and after the war.
His voice was a shade deeper, and soot damaged.
The Headmaster notes the fine-etched lines and cords in Harry Potter's hands. They were both very carefully closed at his sides.
"You will see to it that--"
Harry acknowledged irritably. Dumbledore tilted his head forward.
Dumbledore lets out a sigh and a few lines fell away from his face.
Harry found Draco an hour later, in the bracing cold and spring sunlight, face blank, sitting on the pile of mage ash that was his ancestors' portraits and his birthright. His hair riffles and he was finally allowed to flinch away.
Draco's hands shifted through grey grit that in somewhere was a cavernous dining room table and a long slippery banister. His mother's dresser, his father's office. Their bed. His birthplace.
"I had just enough power in the hierarchy to preserve this."
Harry waited for Draco to pick himself up.
"There is nothing left to preserve, damn you." Draco opened and closed his fingers around a handful of Harry's shirt. He didn't want any of Harry's pity and fitted their mouths together before he could start. He hung on. And Harry didn't mind drawing him close.
"This is all your fault, you realize." Draco lifted the squalling bundle.
"Yes." Harry tried to remember the spell that cleaned the baby powder off the walls last time. He thinks Alex doesn't like the new brand, but it might just be a phase. The apple sauce was exploded earlier that evening and Alex has never had any complaints about it before.
"Appeared out of nowhere, and you insist on keeping the silly thing. Could be a mudblood for all you know and care. Tainted little demon spawn." The baby was tucked into bed and a bottle placed on the bedside table.
Harry sat down on one of the beanbags in the nursery, grabbed Matilda and a blanket and prepared to spend another long sleepless night reading. Draco was methodically turning on every one of the house lights, locking all the doors three times each, and muttering all the while.
"What *is* it with you and strays?" Draco approached and kicked him in the side.
"I took you in, didn't I?" Harry shrugged, spelled the bruise away, and refused to move.
"I was an *investment* you git." Draco sat down anyway, ignoring Harry's "oof" of protest, lumpy though it may be.
Xander's linoleum reference? "I'm a teenaged boy, even looking at linoleum makes me horny."
Blood oranges do exist, they look like normal oranges (except a bit rosier) but bleeds a dark red on the inside and is sweeter than average oranges.
Thank Rosenbaum's Lex Luthor for the flinch thing.
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