Warning! This story does contain slash. If you are unaware of what slash is or if it's just not something you have a care for, you probably clicked on the wrong link. Sorry. Life sucks, get a helmet. Anyway! Feedback and reviews are always appreciated and flames are mocked and the source of my endless amusement. All standard disclaimers apply. (What's mine is mine and what isn't, well, isn't.) This story contains spoilers for all four books. You have been warned.

The Losing Side

A Harry Potter Fan Fiction

Chapter Nine - The Games the Pretty Boys Play

By Antenora


"You've picked the losing side, Potter! I warned you! I told you you ought to choose your company more carefully, remember? When we met on the train, first day of Hogwarts? I told you not to hang around with riffraff like this." He jerked his head at Ron and Hermione. "Too late now, Potter! They'll be the first to go, now the Dark Lord's back! Mudbloods and Muggle-lovers first! Well- second- Diggory was the f--" Draco Malfoy (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire



It was at breakfast the next morning that Harry received the note. For one frightful moment he thought it was another cryptic message like the one he'd received the day of the disastrous Quidditch match against Slytherin and his fingers trembled slightly as he opened the letter to reveal Professor Dumbledore's elegant handwriting.


If you would be so kind as to be awaiting me at the gargoyle at ten o'clock sharp, there is much we need to discuss.

"What is it Harry?" Hermione inquired leaning over Harry's shoulder to read the brief note. "Oh, dear... This was inevitable, I suppose."

"Huh? What's going on?" Ron asked through a mouthful of food, blinking owlishly at Harry and Hermione. "Did I miss something important?"

"Professor Dumbledore wants to see me," Harry responded, still unsure whether to be relieved or nervous. Probably a little of both. He hadn't seen the Headmaster except at meals all year, probably because Professor Dumbledore had become a very busy man since the end of Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts. As one of the few who believed Harry's story of Voldemort's return, Dumbledore had been quite busy forming alliances and making the truth known as he prepared defenses against their common enemy. He seldom spoke of these preparations to Harry, saying simply that it 'wasn't yet time to speak of such things'.

"Do you think it's about what happened at the game?" Ron asked quietly, his gaze serious even as he shoved a biscuit into his mouth, making his cheeks puff up to twice their normal size.

"That'd be my guess, Harry. I'm sure it's nothing to worry over. He's probably been meaning to talk to you about all... this for a while now and is only now able to get to it." Hermione stated, her words echoing Harry's own thoughts. It was actually occasionally frightening how Hermione seemed to be able to almost read his mind at times.

"Yeah, I guess. It's almost ten now, I should get going." Harry commented as he pushed himself up from the table and grabbed a couple of biscuits for the journey.

"See you in class then," Hermione smiled, waving him off before turning to berate Ron for talking with his mouth full.


"It's good to see you, my boy. Would you care for a lemon drop?" Dumbledore inquired as he led Harry up the stairs to his office. The wizard was smiling in that benign mysterious way which always seemed to put Harry at ease as he settled himself behind his desk. Fawkes stirred from his perch and stretched his wings before flying to perch on the back of Dumbledore's chair.

"Um, no... thank you, Sir." Harry murmured, taking a seat in the chair opposite Dumbledore and offering the Headmaster a tentative smile.

"Well, I suppose you are wondering what I have called you here for. I'll get right to it then. I wish to speak to you about the events, which have occurred since you boarded the Hogwarts Express at the beginning of this year. The first, as well you know, was your confrontation with Mr. Malfoy on the train."

Harry blinked, his shock apparent in his expression. "How... how did you..."

Dumbledore smiled kindly, "Ah, well, Miss Granger informed me of the strange occurrence during our last meeting. She thought it might be of some importance and, as usual, she was correct. I believe she has already attempted to explain the phenomenon to you, but I'm afraid her explanation was not entirely correct. You see, the more detailed information about memory rewriting is kept in the restricted section. Memory rewriting is actually merely a symptom of a far greater and stranger occurrence which has no name, simply because no one has yet discovered it's cause or all it's implications. I myself have only seen it twice in my lifetime and in both instances did actually occur here at Hogwarts and both were far less dramatic then what has occurred between you and Mr. Malfoy."

"I don't really understand what you're trying to tell me, Sir." Harry began slowly, still trying to attempt to process what Dumbledore was trying to tell him.

"I know, dear boy, but there is no simple way to explain it and I don't wish to bore you with the more mundane details. I will only say that the affects will only continue to get stronger as time passes due to the injuries you both have suffered. It is rather imperative at this juncture that you find some sort of peace with Mr. Malfoy or simply find a way to avoid him completely. If you can not do this, I will be forced to bind you both to avoid either of you accidentally causing damage to the students around you."

"B...Bind us?"

"Restrain your magic. Memory rewriting is an example of wild magic, magic that can not be controlled by its users and is released at times of high emotional stress. It has all the same basic effects of a highly advanced memory charm, but it's far more specific and it is a magic cast without the use of a wand or the conscious wish of the users which makes it extremely dangerous. As your magic levels continue to increase so will the intensity of the magic and the wide variations of charms and spells which could possibly be cast. If you can not find some resolution in your conflict with Mr. Malfoy I will not hesitate to do what is necessary to keep your conflicts from accidentally injuring those around you."

Harry took a deep breath, soaking the information in silence. If he and Malfoy kept up the way they'd been going, innocent people could be hurt.

Kill the spare.

He couldn't allow that to happen, but Dumbledore was asking the impossible. Find a peace with Malfoy? Every time he thought such a thing would happen Malfoy started pushing his buttons like a five-year-old in an elevator and everything just went straight to hell from there. "Have you told Malfoy about this?" Harry asked finally, deciding that deep thought into the matter could wait until he was alone.

"No, a dear friend advised me that telling Mr. Malfoy of this newest development is something best left in your capable hands. This situation must be settled without my interference if there is any hope of a lasting peace between the two of you. Please try and control your temper, Harry. I don't want a repeat of what happened on the train or in the corridor after your last Potions class."

Harry started, his eyes confused, "The corridor after my last Potions class?"

"Ah," Dumbledore murmured, as if Harry had just said something profound. "I thought you might not have realized what happened in the heat of the moment. The memory rewriting during this incident and it's extremity was what convinced me that action must be taken. You and Mr. Malfoy virtually stopped time for those children in the corridor and when the two of you had gone, the students began moving about once more as if nothing had happened. Professor Snape observed the phenomenon and informed me that it was quite disturbing."

Harry flushed, turning his attention to where his white-knuckled hands were held in his lap. "I'm sorry..."

"No need to apologize, my dear boy. I only want you to realize the severity of the situation. The danger the two of you pose to those around you as well as to yourselves." Dumbledore replied, smiling softly at the boy before him. "Though I'm sure you have not noticed the signs, these spells have affected you both very deeply which brings us to the next incident which was the attack on the Hogwarts Express. I am aware that Mister Malfoy saved your life that day, though he seemed most annoyed by that fact from what Madam Pomfrey told me. She did not inform you then, as per my request, but the spell cast that day was a binding spell of some sort as far as we can tell. Since the spell was meant for you alone, Mister Malfoy's presence in the line of fire resulted in the failure of the spell and the burn marks you both received. You were most fortunate that day, Harry, most fortunate indeed. We have not yet been able to determine the purpose of this spell, but it is clear that Voldemort's immediate plans do not involve your demise."

"He wanted to kill me that night..." Harry began, falling silent as Dumbledore raised a hand to indicate he had more to say.

"That was over a year ago, Harry. A year of silence during which I am certain his plans have changed. What intrigues me, however, is the spell cast upon you and Mister Malfoy during the Quidditch game. The marks, which still remain on both your backs, indicate that the spell was successful. Almost as if it were cast with the intention of hitting you both. Most unusual. However, it is the nature of the spell that intrigues me. It is an ancient protection spell the likes of which I have not seen for many, many years."

"A protection spell? But... why?"

"That, my boy, is the question. Why, indeed?"


Harry arrived at his first class of the day far too early and took a seat near the back of the classroom, his mind still spinning with Professor Dumbledore's words. It didn't make sense. None of it made any sense. Protection spells cast by Deatheaters? Wild magic, mysterious letters, memory charms and... Malfoy. It was like his world was tilting wildly on its axis and threatening to spin off into oblivion. Dumbledore wanted him to make peace with Draco Malfoy. That was never going to work. Certainly things looked more hopeful after last night, but then things had looked hopeful the morning after the tower incident as well and what had happened then? They'd gotten into another fight and... and...

He kissed me.

Harry let his chin slip from his hands and allowed his forehead to fall down against the table with a resounding thunk. When that didn't do a good enough job of banishing thoughts of Malfoy's kisses from his mind he promptly repeated the motion several times. It didn't help, but it sure was a hell of a lot more difficult to focus on the details of that particular encounter when his head was throbbing with pain.

Yes, it he could hardly remember the feel of Malfoy's lips at all...

...whisper soft and smooth as the petals of a spring rose...

Well, it was definitely much more difficult to recall exactly what Malfoy had smelled like...

...darkness and magic...





Things were really going straight to hell in a neatly packed basket when mind-splitting pain wasn't enough to even dull the memory of something which happened almost a month ago, Harry reflected irritably. He'd managed to go so long without thinking about those stolen moments and then with the Quidditch match and after witnessing those strange emotions hidden behind Draco Malfoy's shuttered gaze he was sitting about in an empty classroom waxing poetic over the feel of Malfoy's lips.

"Stupid, stupid, stupid," Harry grumbled, punctuating each word with the thunk of his forehead meeting the table.

"Yes, you most certainly are. So glad you finally figured it out, Potter."

Harry let his forehead rest against the table, refusing to raise up and meet the gaze of the boy standing behind him. "Shut up, Malfoy."

"What's the matter, Potter? Bad night? Bad morning? Bad life?" Draco inquired, his voice like sugarcoated poison.

"Aw, you care. That's so bloody sweet," Harry muttered, dragging his reddened forehead from the table and turning to glare at Draco irritably. Draco offered him a particularly nasty smirk in response.

"Where's the fan club, Potter?"

"Who knows? Where's the brute squad, Malfoy?"

"Who cares?" Draco shrugged, dropping his books on his usual table before perching on the edge and raising an eyebrow in Harry's direction. "Why so early, Potter? Trying to win points from Moody?"

"No, I... I had some thinking to do," Harry murmured, part of him wanting to continue this little contest of comebacks while the other, larger, part demanded that he take Dumbledore's advice and attempt to play nice with the little devil.

"Oh? Thinking about what your fan club's t-shirt design will be? What are the choices, Potter?" Malfoy cracked.

"No, I had to see Dumbledore this morning and he told me a few things about the attacks."

"Oh?" Draco returned, deliberately sounding uninterested despite the fact that his expression betrayed his uneasiness. "What did he say?"

"The spell that hit us during the Quidditch game was a protection spell."

Draco eyes narrowed, "Protection spell?"

"Yeah, on the train it was a failed binding spell and on the pitch it was a successful protection spell. It doesn't make much sense to me... does it make any sense to you?" Harry asked softly, observing Draco's reactions closely. He thought he saw him wince, but it was difficult to tell with Malfoy.

"Why would it make any sense to me, Potter? I don't understand this anymore then you do." Draco hissed, hopping off the table and flopping down on the bench .

"I think you do," Harry spat, anger flaring inside him. "I think you know a hell of a lot more then you're saying."

"Even if I did, what makes you think I'd tell you?" Draco replied, sitting stiffly on the bench and glaring at his long-time rival.

"Because you've saved my life twice now, Malfoy. The time for games is over."

"Oh no, Potter. The time for games has just begun." Draco's tone was low and razor-sharp. His eyes spoke of danger and mysteries. Harry couldn't seem to tear his gaze from those eyes as Draco leaned closer and was still staring helplessly into those silvery depths as Draco's lips met his own. The kiss seemed a strange hybrid of the kisses they'd shared in the abandoned classroom so long ago. Violently passionate, fueled by the anger and hatred and utter confusion that they both felt so keenly. It was bruising because of force behind it, but there was quiet sort of desperation there as well and gentleness and....

Harry's eyes fluttered closed of their own will as the kiss deepened and Malfoy's tongue forced it's way past his pursed lips, invading his mouth on a moan. He felt his head contact with the bench beneath him as Malfoy pushed him back against it, continuing his invasion enthusiastically. Harry began to respond tentatively, raising a hand to curl his fingers in the Slytherin's soft blond hair as he brushed his tongue tentatively against Malfoy's. As if his reaction had awakened Malfoy from a trance, the other boy drew back giving Harry a smirk before lowering his lips to brush against Harry's ear.

He heard Draco chuckle softly, felt it where Draco's chest was pressed against his own. "Play with me, Potter."

"What's the game, Malfoy?" Harry asked, wincing as his voice came out sounding far more shaken and unsteady then he intended.

"Simple. Defeat me. Conquer my fear, my pain, my anger, my hatred and I will tell you all you wish to know. Anything and everything." Draco whispered, pressing his lips against Harry's ear and nibbling gently at the lobe.

"It's the way it has always been. Call it fate if that makes you feel better. We can't change what we are. You can't save me. Just like you couldn't save Cedric. Just like you can't save yourself. None of your stories will ever have a happily ever after. This is the end."

"You want me to save you..." Harry murmured, something in his heart wrenching at the thought.

Draco pulled back slightly, resting his chin against Harry's chest and smiling in a sad sort of way. "Call it what you will, Potter. A game by any other name is still a game to me. You'll fail, of course. You'll lose because you can't win when you have to play by my rules. And when you lose I'll just leave you to Voldemort's tender mercies."

Harry couldn't help starting at Malfoy's use of Voldemort's name. He'd only ever heard himself and Dumbledore use the name aloud and, for some reason, the hated name said in Draco's sneering tones disturbed him. "You want to play, Malfoy? Then we'll play."

"Excellent." Draco replied briskly, pulling away and moving to stand up, only to find Harry still gripping his hair tightly. "Let off, Potter. Moody will be in here any minute now." Harry released his hold on Draco's hair reluctantly, sitting up as the Slytherin slipped away from him. "The game has begun."

Draco slipped back into his seat the barest moment before a flood of Gryffindors and Slytherins invaded the classroom followed closely by the gruff, imposing figure of Mad Eye Moody. He limped to the front of the classroom, but his strange eye's gaze remained trained on the two students who had arrived in his class far too early.

"Today we will be studying the finer points of the Cruciatus curse. It is vital that you be aware of what the effects of the curse in order to be best prepared to defend yourself against it. Next class we will be discussing possible defenses, but for now I want you to split into small groups and go offer the information found in pages seventy-five through one hundred and sixty-six." With that the gruff old man took his seat behind his desk and began scribbling on a stack of parchment which looked to be the essays they'd written about the Imperious Curse last week.

Ron, Hermione and Harry became a group by unspoken decision. The three friends gathered around Harry's table as Hermione pulled out the large textbook which the comforting title of Dark Arts: Theories and Practical Facts All Wizards Need to Know writing in bold black letters across it's worn red cover.

"Well, I'll read and you to try to take notes and, for Merlin's sake Ron, please try to stay awake this time. If we get points deducted because you fell asleep again I won't be held responsible for what I will do to you." Hermione commented, opening the book easily to page seventy-five and reading aloud:

Of the three Unforgivable Curses, the most painful is the Cruciatus curse. In ancient times, it was believed that the pain of the curse was a result of the user's attempt to forcibly remove the soul of the cursed from their body. That is why, in legends and in many historical documents, it is often referred to as 'The Soul Ripper's Curse'. The origins of the curse are shrouded in mystery but are believed to date back to the times of Merlin, although some sources believe that the Unforgivable Curses are as old as time itself.

Hermione paused, glancing up from her book to look at her best friends. "My goodness... that sounds horrid, doesn't it? I can't even imagine how painful it would be... how horrible."

Harry remained silent, shivering inwardly at the remembrance of the fire which had split his veins while he'd been in the grasp of the curse. He didn't really remember the details but he did remember the pain: black, blinding, raging through his body. He could understand how someone would think their soul was being ripped from their body while in the grasp of that curse. It was beyond pain, beyond terror, beyond anything...

"Do you think it really feels like that? I mean... soul ripper? That's kind of extreme isn't it...?" Ron asked hesitantly, throwing Hermione an uneasy glance.

"Why don't you ask Potter, Weasel? I'm sure he'll be more than happy to tell you how close that description is to the truth." Draco drawled, leaning back against Crabbe and Goyle's table as he did so. The two chuckled softly and Harry wondered vaguely if Malfoy had told them what he'd said in the hospital room.

"Harry?" Ron asked softly, bring Harry's attention back to the concerned looks both Ron and Hermione were shooting him. "Is it... do you.. I mean..."

"Voldemort cast the Cruciatus Curse on me... after he killed Cedric." Harry murmured, throwing a hate-filled look towards Draco's smirking figure, all tenderness he'd felt for the boy in those moments before class banished by Draco's words. "Soul Ripper is about right actually. It hurts like hell."

"Malfoy, I don't suppose you'd like to inform the rest of the class how it is you came to know such a thing?" Moody inquired suspiciously, glaring at the Slytherin.

"Potter told me, of course." Draco replied, blinking in surprise. Apparently he'd forgotten how excellent Moody's hearing really was.

"Somehow I can't imagine Mr. Potter informing you of something he has kept secret from even his closest friends. And, even if he did, I doubt he appreciates you volunteering that information to the rest of the class. Detention and fifty points from Slytherin... unless, of course, you would like to experience the curse yourself so you too can offer your perspective on it." Moody growled, the slightest smile curving his lips as Draco paled. "I dinna think so. You'll be serving your detention tonight with Filch."

The remainder of the class passed in uncomfortable silence, both houses torn between sympathy for their respective members and amusement at the misfortune that had befallen their rival house's pride and joy.


"He never told us..." Ron murmured as he fell into step beside Hermione.

"No, he didn't, but he told Malfoy..."

"Why would Harry tell him and not us?" Ron asked, his voice betraying his bitterness.

"You know Harry. We were all so worried about him without knowing what had happened, imagine if we'd known?" Hermione responded, hugging her books tightly against her ample chest.

"Yeah, but... MALFOY?!" Ron exclaimed, clearly intent on working himself up into a fit over this newest development.

"We already know there's something between them, Ron, so stop acting like it's such a bloody shock."

"You saw it too, Hermione. That bastard saved Harry's life again on the bloody Quidditch pitch, but he's still trying to hurt him. What the hell is going on, Herm?"

Hermione sighed heavily, shifting her books to one arm so she could raise the other to pat Ron's shoulder. "I only wish I knew. We should probably try and talk to Harry after the meeting is over to see what he'll tell us..." Her eyes seemed to light with an eerie fire as she continued, "That's right. We'll talk to him. We'll make him confess everything. We'll grill him until he coughs up exactly what's been happening and tells it to us all the sordid details and if he doesn't want to talk... we'll get a whip and..."

"Herm. You're starting to scare me," Ron responded softly, unable to hide his grin.

Hermione coughed, hiding her answering smile behind her hand. "Yes, well, that was the purpose. Nonetheless we'll have to speak with him and see what we can do to help him. I'm certain he hasn't even contemplated asking us for help. Always so certain he must handle everything on his own. Quite silly if you ask me which, of course, he didn't."

"He usually doesn't."

"That's true."


"You nasty, spiteful bastard!" Harry spat, grabbing Draco by the front of his robes and barely resisting the urge to slam the Slytherin against the nearest wall. He'd managed to catch up with Draco in a thankfully empty corridor near the Slytherin dungeons.

"Ah, don't be a wet rag, Potter. It's all part of the game. You didn't expect me to change for you, did you? I am still your enemy, Potter. You'd do well to remember that." Draco responded, a smirk curling his lips. "You shouldn't trust me with vital information..."

"Maybe, but that was low, even for you." Harry growled, giving in to the urge and slamming Draco's slim body against the stone wall. It felt good to manhandle the boy who caused him no end of trouble and pain. "Even for you, Malfoy."

"All's fair, Potter. Do you think the Dark Lord enjoys seeing you in pain half as much as I do?" He asked softly, raising a hand to stroke his fingers over Harry's smooth cheek. "Do you think he hates you half as much as I do?"

"Fuck off, Malfoy." Harry grumbled, releasing the Slytherin and stepping back away from Malfoy's touch. Draco looked nearly as mad as he felt. Perhaps they'd both just finally taken the last step and fallen right off the deep end, because it could only be madness that brought them together like this. He hated Draco Malfoy, but he wanted... he wanted to know. He wanted to know all of the infuriating boy's secrets. He wanted to know why Draco's kisses tasted so deliciously, horribly sweet. Like chocolate laced with poison.

Draco smirked at Harry's obvious confusion, "You know, Potter, I haven't had this much fun in ages. I should thank you for this. Ask me a question, Potter. Anything you like and I'll give you a truthful answer."

If Harry had paused for a moment he might have thought to ask any number of imperative questions, but instead all that came out of his mouth was: "Why the fuck are you doing this?"

Draco chuckled softly, obviously amused by Harry's choice of questions. He stepped close until his body was pressed ever so lightly against Harry's and leaned forward to press his lips to Harry's ear for the second time that day. When he spoke his voice was a harsh whisper, "I don't like to be touched, Potter. I never have for all sorts of reasons that are none of your concern, but I like it when you touch me. I like the way your body feels when it's pressed against mine." As if to emphasis his point, Draco slipped his arms around Harry's waist and pressed the length of his body more fully against the Gryffindor. "And I want, Potter. I want things I shouldn't. Things forbidden. Things which only you can give me, but I can't... I can't keep playing this game forever. I feel like I'm being torn apart and I know it's dangerous, but I keep doing stupid, irrational things like saving you and I don't know why. I don't WANT to know why. What I want is to hate you again. I don't want to give a damn what happens to you anymore, Potter." He released the dumbstruck Gryffindor and stepped back, his gaze cool and assessing. "I don't want to care about you."

"Then you do... care about me," Harry whispered, feeling strangely cold as Draco turned on his heel and walked away without another word.


Harry flung himself onto his bed, his mind lost in thoughts of the paradox which was Draco Malfoy.

On one hand there was the vicious, vindictive bastard which he had known throughout his first five years at Hogwarts. The shit-talking, back-stabbing, nasty little git which had seemed so absolutely intent upon making his life a living hell throughout those years. The boy who'd used a kiss as his weapon of choice and hurt Harry more then he cared to admit. The boy who flung insults at him on the train at the beginning of year, in the corridor outside the potions classroom and on the Quidditch pitch. The boy who had announced his experience with the Cruciatus curse to a classroom full of students just to prove he was still a complete arse.

On the other hand was the crying boy in the Slytherin common room that he'd glimpsed at the end of fifth year. The boy who wore a scar on his cheek and Merlin only knows how many scars on his tortured soul. The boy who'd sobbed against his shoulder in the tower and kissed him so sweetly in the abandoned classroom. The boy who'd saved his life twice in as many months. The boy who desperately wanted to be saved from himself.

Both were confusing, irritating and irrational. Both were so distinctly Draco Malfoy, but which was real? Harry knew, of course, which he preferred. He preferred the vicious, vindictive bastard. At least he knew how to handle the bastard. The bastard was easy, simple, straightforward and always predictable. He had no problem hating Draco Malfoy when he was acting like a complete prat. Truthfully, he still had no problem hating Draco Malfoy even when he wasn't acting like a complete prat. Only now the hatred was more real, more tangible. He could taste it in the air every time they fought, feel it's chill on his skin, hear it in his own voice when he spoke. But there was something else to... the desire to know what made Malfoy the way he was.

"I do not covet your love or forgiveness, only your obedience."

What his home life was like, where he'd gotten that scar that adorned his cheek, and why he hated his father. Most of all he wanted to know why Malfoy had saved his life on the train and on the Quidditch pitch.

"It all leads back to you. Everything terrible in my life. It's all leads back to you."

"That's my answer too."

It was true and it was also a lie. He hated Draco Malfoy for his words, for his contempt, and now he hated Malfoy for how he had allowed the Slytherin to hurt him. He hated Malfoy for the way the Slytherin had kissed him, saved him, allowed him to see his weaknesses. He'd never wanted to see Malfoy's weakness again after witnessing it at the end of fifth year. Never wanted to see him cry, because it made him seem so... human. So vulnerable and young and he wasn't any of those things. Draco Malfoy was his rival, his arch-nemesis, his complete and total opposite. The Joker to his Batman. The Lex Luthor to his Superman. The Dark to his Light. It was like fate or destiny that they should be forever opposed to one another and despite his wayward thoughts before the start of sixth year, Harry had actually found that fact comforting in a way.

"I hate you, Potter. I just... I hate you."

Then the contrary little bastard had gone and ruined everything with his tears and something had happened. It was as if something had clicked deep within him as he held Malfoy in his arms. Parts of him, parts which had been dying a slow death since the Tri-Wizard Tournament, had ached in response to Draco's pain and he'd wanted for some insane moment to be the one to ease that pain.

"Thank you."

For a month he'd refused to think of those moments deeming them as unimportant and too painful besides, but now they seemed absolutely vital. He couldn't help thinking there was something he was missing. Between Draco's amazing calm the morning after the tower incident and the raging battle in the abandoned classroom. Something important...

"Did you leave a note for me this morning?"

"No, why would I?"

He remembered the wild look in Malfoy's eyes at that question, but he instinctively knew Malfoy hadn't been the one to leave that note. Even if it had been Malfoy's handwriting on that slip of paper he still wouldn't have believed him to be the one. So what...

"It's the way it has always been. Call it fate if that makes you feel better. We can't change what we are. You can't save me. Just like you couldn't save Cedric. Just like you can't save yourself. None of your stories will ever have a happily ever after. This is the end. The duel is over and I..."

"Fuck..." Harry murmured, taking his glasses off and rubbing the bridge of his nose irritably as a shiver coursed through his body at the remembrance of the kiss which had followed that particular statement. His mind always seemed to wander back to that one moment, that one tragic and horrible moment which had seemed so utterly final... so completely different then the first kiss, so completely disconnected with the words which had proceeded it. "Fuck..." Harry repeated, slipping his glasses back on his face and closing his eyes. What was he missing?

A month of silence, taunts in a corridor, the Quidditch match, Malfoy threatening the Fat Lady with turpentine and finally the events of morning. The argument, Malfoy's kiss and the quiet desperation behind his proposal.

"Simple. Defeat me. Conquer my fear, my pain, my anger, my hatred and I will tell you all you wish to know."

It seemed like a riddle, the way Malfoy had said it and Harry had always rather disliked riddles even before he began to associate them with the man who had killed his parents and countless others. Conquer his fear, his pain, his anger and his hatred. Well, his anger and his hatred were both obvious enough. Draco hated him, had hated him for years and Harry knew he was one of the few people capable of truly pissing Malfoy off. Of course, that worked both ways.

As for the other two, Harry couldn't make heads or tails of either of them.

Conquer his fear? Fear of what? He couldn't think of a single thing on the planet that might actually frighten Draco Malfoy. He'd only seen Draco frightened once and that was when he was a spoiled child serving detention in the Forbidden Forest, confronted with the horror that Voldemort had become. And as for his pain...


Harry opened his eyes to find Hermione and Ron peering down at him curiously. "Hallo," he murmured, rather glad for their interruption. "Does being a prefect allow you to storm the boy's dorm whenever you like, Herm?"

Hermione had the good grace to flush slightly, "One of the perks of the job which you would know about if you become a prefect as Professor McGonagall asked."

"I would have made a piss poor prefect, Hermione. Ron's much better at it." Harry shrugged, exchanging a knowing look with the red-haired boy. It was the one secret they kept from Hermione. The reason why Ron had become a prefect instead of Harry.

Hermione noticed the look and gave an exasperated sigh, "Boys."

Harry smiled, shrugging off Hermione's comment as his friends flopped down on the bed beside him. "So should I ask what's going on or are you going to tell me?"

"Oh!" Hermione exclaimed, apparently having completely forgotten her reason for busting into the boy's dorm in her annoyance. "Well, Harry, we've come to talk to you."

"Interrogate you," Ron correctly, smiling devilishly. "You're going to tell us everything..."

"...And we're going to help you. No more secrets, Harry. No more dealing with things on your own." Hermione finished, her words drawing a sigh from Harry.

"Wh... what do you want to know exactly?" Harry asked suspiciously. A large part of him wanted to just breakdown and tell them everything that had happened between himself and Malfoy, but he didn't want to worry them.

"What is going on between you and Malfoy? And why..." Hermione exchanged a strange look with Ron before continuing, "Why was Malfoy crying in the classroom downstairs last month?"

"Malfoy... crying?" Harry murmured, his heart sinking deep into the pit of his stomach at Hermione's words. The classroom... the fight... the kiss... and Malfoy cried. Malfoy had cried as he himself had cried. Malfoy's pain... "Fuck." Harry spat, closing his eyes against his own pain. "Oh bloody hell... how could I have been so stupid..."

"Harry?" Ron asked tentatively, exchanging another look with Hermione.

"I knew I was missing something, something important." Harry mumbled, re-opening his eyes and sitting up to meet Ron's gaze. "I still feel like I'm missing something, but now... he was crying? You saw him? How did you see him? When did you see him?" Harry asked, looking back and forth between his friends. "What happened?"

"After we talked to you that night and you looked so upset, I made Ron fetch the Marauder's map and your invisibility cloak and we went off in search of Malfoy. I was planning on telling him off, but when we got to the room... He was crying, Harry. Whatever is going on between you two?"

Harry sighed, threading his fingers through his unruly hair. "I don't know. I... I just don't know."

"Can you try and explain it to us? We'd like to help if we can." Hermione offered gently, covering Harry's hand with her own.

"All right, but you're not going to like it..." Harry began softly. He proceeded to tell the his best friends about the confrontation with Malfoy in the hospital room, the tower duel, waking up in the morning with Malfoy's head pillowed against his chest, meeting with Malfoy in the deserted classroom, the second 'duel' and the kiss which followed. The fight with Malfoy in the corridor outside the Potions classroom, the Quidditch match and the meeting in front of the Fat Lady's portrait. He left out the fact that he'd given Malfoy the password to the Gryffindor common room. That hardly mattered as the password would be changed in a few days anyway. He then proceeded to relate the events of the morning from his conversation with Professor Dumbledore to Draco's proposal before DADA and the confrontation with Draco after class had ended.

"Bloody hell, Harry. You couldn't have told us this before? Merlin's beard tied to a Dragon's arse, this is bloody ridiculous, Harry." Ron grumbled, still trying to absorb the fact that his best friend enjoyed snogging Malfoy. "Snog all the boys you like. You're my best friend, Harry, and I wouldn't blink an eye if you wanted to shag flobberworms, but snogging Malfoy is like voluntarily having Gilderoy Lockhart cast a healing spell on your unmentionables."

"Ron!" Hermione exclaimed, blushing furiously. "That was uncalled for!"

"Well?! It's true! Malfoy is dangerous!" Ron replied viciously.

"You sure as hell didn't have a problem when I suggested the possibility last month!"

"Well, I didn't think it was actually true! Much less that he actually liked it!"

"WOULD THE BOTH OF YOU SHUT UP BEFORE YOU BRING HALF THE BLOODY TOWER RUNNING UP HERE TO SEE WHAT'S GOING ON?!" Harry exclaimed, earning an instant stunned silence from his bickering friends. Now that it was quiet, Harry sighed and offered the two an apologetic smile. "Sorry. Look, Ron, I know how dangerous it is, I'm not stupid. I'm also not going to let his kisses interfere with my judgment. Dumbledore told me I have to make peace with him and I have this feeling that I'm the last chance he has of escaping... God, this sounds so bloody stupid out loud. I'm the last chance he has of escaping the darkness that's eating him up inside. One day, probably soon, I'll have to face Voldemort and at least try to defeat him. I don't want to have to fight Malfoy too. Is this making any sense at all?" Harry asked finally, laughing wearily at his friends' unreadable expressions.

"It makes perfect sense, Harry." Hermione murmured, giving his hand an affectionate squeeze. "And I'll help you any way I can."

"I still don't like this. I think it's bloody stupid on your part to put yourself at risk like this, but," Ron shrugged, breaking into a goofy smile. "What the hell? We've done stupider things and managed to get through it all right. As long as you don't go all rogue wizard on us and not telling us what's going on..."

"I won't," Harry promised, feeling a great weight lift from his heart. A weight which had been present since the Tri-Wizard Tournament and Cedric's subsequent death. The weight which had come with the fear and worry. It felt so much better just to have someone to share his troubles with again. Not that they hadn't been there for him all along, because they had, but it was different now that they knew everything.

"Good thing. Well, so let's get started, eh? What can we do?"

"Well, Dumbledore mentioned that he'd seen a couple other instances like the ones that happened between Malfoy and I during his time at Hogwarts. He also said that most of the books regarding it were in the restricted section." Harry replied slowly.

"Right then. Sneaking into the library after hours is always fun," Ron grinned, nudging Hermione with his elbow. "We can do the research. Right, Herm?"

Hermione smiled, "Don't you mean to say that I can do the research while you play look-out?"

"That's pretty much the size of it," Ron replied, his grin widening as Harry laughed.

"I don't know how to thank you two."

"No need to thank us, Harry. This is what friendship is all about."

"What? Breaking rules, sneaking out and undermining our positions?" Ron commented.

"Well, yes, that's pretty much the size of it."



Harry awoke to darkness. A darkness so thick he could practically taste it on his tongue. A vague magical taste which confirmed that the darkness had little to do with the curtains which had been closed about his bed. As he laid staring into this darkness he realized two very important facts. One was that he'd fallen asleep with his robes and glasses still on, which meant his wand was still in his pocket. The second was that there was someone very near to him, he could hear their shallow breathing and feel their penetrating gaze upon him. He could hear that person's swallow breathing over the distant rumble of Seamus' snores, which made him wonder how many charms and wards had been set up around his bed in order to ensure the privacy of their confrontation. It was unnerving, but for reason it didn't frighten him. If the person watching him had had any intention of harming him he probably wouldn't be lying here staring into the darkness theorizing about it. In fact, he'd probably be dead already.

With a barely audible sigh, Harry dug a hand into his pocket and pulled his wand out, sitting up and whispering the spell simultaneously, "Lumos." The dim light blossomed into being at the tip of his wand, illuminating the familiar form and face of Draco Malfoy. He sat near the far edge of the bed, his legs folded beneath him, his expression unreadable. His pale hair fell about his face, framing the pale skin and the thin scar that adorned his cheek. Harry supposed the picture would have been almost angelic on anyone else, but it made Draco look positively demonic. As the small light flooded the bed, Draco held a single finger to his lips to signal for silence Harry's silence.

Harry sighed more heavily this time, pulling his knees up against his chest and eyeing the silent boy suspiciously.

"You weren't at dinner," Draco murmured, taking his finger from his lips now that he was certain Harry wasn't going to start screaming the roof down around them.

Harry stifled a laugh, "You're sitting on my bed staring at me in the middle of the night because I wasn't at dinner?" There was something absurdly amusing about that. His most hated and confusing rival was sitting on his bed in the dead of night berating him for his eating habits. What made it worse was that it didn't even surprise him.

"No. I'm sitting on your bed staring at you in the middle of the night because I can." Draco replied evenly. His expression didn't change, but Harry got the strangest feeling that Malfoy was looking through him. Scrutinizing him for some outward sign of injury or distress, all of which was ridiculous to Harry's rational mind, but just the thought that Malfoy was concerned about his welfare made his stomach plummet through his toes.

"I wasn't hungry. Plus, Ron and Hermione weren't going so I didn't feel much like sitting there without them, trying to shove food down my throat while half the school was staring at me and whispering behind their hands about the poor Harry Potter and his emanate demise." Harry muttered, shrugging his shoulders vaguely and refusing to meet Malfoy's gray gaze.

"I should think you'd like all the attention, Potter." Draco responded, his sneering voice cold with disdain.

"You think I like that?!" Harry spat, barely restraining the urge to punch Draco Malfoy right over the edge of the bed. He couldn't just go about hitting Malfoy every time the stupid git pissed him off or he'd never get through to the idiot.

Must... control... fist of death....

The thought almost made him smile and calmed him just enough to keep control of himself as he spoke. "You think I like everyone looking at me with pity and vague detached concern? All of them saying how horrible it is that I'm marked for death, but secretly breathing a sigh of relief because at least it's not them? How would you like it if people looked at you that way? So terrible about poor Draco Malfoy. Look at that scar, he must have it rough." Harry growled, lifting his eyes to meet Draco's furious gaze at last. "I'd take your hatred over their pity any day, Malfoy."


Draco's anger flared at the mention of his scar, but the fury died an instant death at Harry's next words. It was like they were back in the hospital room again, furious with each other, hating each other, but also understanding each other in a way that went beyond words. Draco swallowed hard, finding it suddenly difficult to breathe. The air was stale and smelled of the charms and wards he'd put around Harry's bed to keep their confrontation private. To muffle Harry's screams when he cursed him. To ensure they were not interrupted until it was over. He'd come here to hurt him. To prove himself unworthy of the trust Harry had so stupidly bestowed upon him by giving up his password to the enemy. He'd come here to play the part of the villain but, when dealing with Harry Potter, things rarely went according to plan.

"You're a bloody fool, Potter." Draco murmured, still feeling off-balance from the other boy's words. As if he were tittering on the edge of some great precipice and hadn't the presence of mind to figure out which way he was supposed to lean.

"Then I guess we have something in common, after all." Harry replied quietly, his anger obviously cooling as he regarded Draco almost thoughtfully. Draco couldn't tell what was going on behind Harry's eyes, but he knew instinctively that it wasn't good. It felt as if everything he'd done to cement Harry's hatred for him was tumbling down around his shoulders. Brick by brick, word by word, it was all crumbling down around him as he watched the emotions flitting across the glittering green surface of Harry's eyes. He had no one to blame but himself for this development. It was his fault that he'd succumb to his own dreadful weakness and that awful need within him that seemed to be growing stronger with each passing day. Once again he berated himself for starting this little game. He'd thought it funny at the time, because he wanted Harry to suffer the same way he was suffering. However, as he sat staring at Harry by the flickering light of a single wand, he wondered vaguely if he hadn't made a fatal mistake.

"Wrong there, Potter. I'm not fool enough to give out my password to the enemy, you stupid git," Draco hissed. The words felt good in the same twisted way that the disdain behind them felt good. This was what he needed. The hatred was easy, banishing the confusion Harry's quiet words inspired within him. "Do you have any idea what I could have done to you or your housemates for that matter while you were peacefully sleeping away oblivious to the danger?"

"But you didn't," Harry pointed out quietly and Draco almost winced. The stupid Gryffindor had a point, but the unsettled Slytherin couldn't back down now.

"I could have, I almost did." Draco spat, the need to extinguish that strange look in Harry's eyes consuming him. Eating him alive like the flames of hatred, which had fed the dark fire of his soul for so very long.


Harry laughed softly, not at all intimidated by the dangerous edge in Draco's tone. "You couldn't do it, could you? You came in here with every intention of hurting me, but you couldn't do it."

Direct hit.

A single shiver that seemed to shake Draco to his very core crept across his body and that was all the warning Harry had before the other boy was scrambling for his wand and banishing the wards around Harry's bed with a few whispered words. It took only the briefest of moments, but to Harry it was an eternity and his thoughts whirled.

Malfoy was going to run. He was going to run and if he ran things would just continue as they were in this strange place between war and peace. Eventually it would tear them both apart at the seams and toss them to the winds of fate. Harry could see the future so clearly suddenly. His hatred for Malfoy. Malfoy's hatred for him. The next two years alternating between violent altercations and strange months of tense silence. Madness and darkness and death.

It was a strange vision, just the briefest flash of barely recognized realization, but it made Harry abandon his wand and reach out to catch hold of Malfoy's wand hand and yank the fleeing boy into the middle of the bed. Seamus' snoring was louder now, the darkness not nearly so complete. The wards and charms Malfoy had so carefully set up had been abolished and they were no longer truly alone. Malfoy kicked him hard, jerking his hand from Harry's grasp with almost violent movements and slithering away from Harry before scrambling towards the edge of the bed. "Draco, don't!" Harry protested, making another grab for Draco and making contact. Mainly because Draco had stopped moving altogether, his body rigid with tension.

"What did you just call me?" Draco hissed, turning his deadly gray gaze towards Harry with a slowness born of seething rage.

"Malfoy," Harry replied, releasing his grip on Draco's arm and blinking in surprise.

"No. You... you called me... Draco."

He was right, of course, but it hadn't been a conscious decision. He hadn't just decided to call the startled Slytherin by his first name. It had just... happened. "So what if I did?" Harry responded warily, suddenly wishing he'd just let Draco run off like the coward he was. It would certainly be less painful then the violence which the Slytherin's eyes were promising at this newest development.

Draco crawled across the bed to Harry's side. Some part of Harry's brain, which seemed to run independently from the rest and was not at all concerned with the very real danger of Harry's situation, observed that Malfoy looked rather... sexy. Sexy in the same dangerous way a sleek panther might look as it was prowling through the darkness to pounce upon its unsuspecting prey. The far saner and more reasonable part of Harry's brain promptly asked quite mad and incredibly bizarre part of his brain to please shut up.

So caught up was Harry in his wayward mind's thoughts, he didn't realize that Draco had reached him until he felt Draco's body slip over his own, straddling him. He blinked in surprise and no small amount of pain as Draco's fingers curled into his hair and yanked the unruly strands painfully. Harry looked up and that little part of his brain, which refused to listen to reason, remarked that Draco's murderous expression was rather thrilling.

"You," Draco began his voice oddly calm in contrast with the rage searing through his glowing silver gaze. "Don't you ever speak to me in such a familiar manner again, Potter."

Very few things could make Harry furious in the way that that particular nasty, condescending note in Draco Malfoy's voice could. It seemed at times like these when they most furious with each other that something in Draco touched some desperate madness in the depths of Harry's soul and ignited a fire and passion which no one else was capable of conjuring. It made him feel ill and as dangerous as Draco looked. It made him feel reckless and giddy. It made him want to scream and pummel the snotty Slytherin into paste. It made him want to kiss him until neither of them could breathe.


Harry smiled up at Draco, a smile which seemed oblivious to the painful hold Draco had on his hair. "Oh... you don't like that, eh?" He observed, his smile widening as Draco's eyes narrowed. "Too familiar is it? Sticking your tongue down my throat is perfectly fine, but my calling you by your first name is too familiar for you?"

"That... that was different and you bloody well know it." Draco hissed, though if any one had asked him he really wouldn't have been able to explain the difference. It just seemed so much intimate when Harry spoke his first name aloud. Almost sensual. Like the difference between a whisper in a darkened alleyway and a whisper in a darkened bedroom. Like the difference between a battle cry and a moan of pleasure. Between hatred and...

His name on Harry's lips had sent shivers up his spine, set his stomach dancing and made the room spin about for that brief moment. It was unnerving and invigorating in a way that even their second kiss had not been. It had spoken of broken promises that had never been and sex in a tower rooms which could never happen. Just thinking about the way that single word had made him feel when spoken in the voice of the one boy he could never allow himself to desire was disturbing. The way it had made him feel dizzy, off-balance, and frightened in a way he hadn't been since he'd been locked in that dark closet over a year ago.


"No, I don't know it." Harry replied, wincing as pain shot through his chest as he took a particularly deep breath. His ribs hadn't healed completely yet and Draco's weight on his chest certainly wasn't helping matters. "Why don't you get off of me and tell me about it?"

"Oh...? Am I hurting you?" Draco asked innocently, lifting his free hand from the bed and pressing it against Harry's chest. Harry bit his lip as a fresh wave of pain shot through him once more and he raised his own hands from the bed, digging his fingers into Draco's back where he knew he would find the remains of the nasty gashes they'd both received on the day of the Quidditch match. He jabbed at the wounds as best he could, grinning nastily as Draco gasped.

"Not so bloody funny when you're the one hurting is it, Malfoy." Harry grumbled, using the distraction to dislodge the blond from his chest. Draco fell into a heap of pain on the bed beside Harry, his fingers still thoroughly tangled in the Gryffindor's thick black locks.

"No, I suppose it isn't." Draco replied as he gave Harry's hair a good hard yank, which sent white-hot pain rushing through the dark-haired boy's brain. He moaned softly as black spots clouded his vision and he heard Draco chuckle tiredly at the sound.

"I hate you," Harry growled when he could speak again, reaching up and dislodging Draco's fingers from his hair with some difficulty. "Miserable prat."

"Did I hurt you? Poor Potter..."

"Oh, just shut up."


Surprisingly Draco actually complied and the two lay side by side in silence for several long moments nursing their own private pain. Seamus' snores echoed around them providing enough noise to make the silence between them almost comfortable. Harry broke the silence finally with a quiet question, "What say we call a time out, Malfoy?"

"Time out?" Draco wrinkled his nose at the term. It sounded so very... Muggle.

"Take a break, Malfoy. Take a bit of a breather from the battle or the game or whatever you want to call it. Just for tonight. You can stay if you like, as long as you stop with the 'I'm a Malfoy and I am the bad guy in this piece so you had best fear me' shit."

"...Fine," Draco murmured, curling an arm behind his head. "Do you really trust me not to hurt you while you're sleeping?"

"Yes," Harry replied immediately, "I trust you, Malfoy."

"You shouldn't. You can't win this game, Potter. The deck is stacked against you and it'll only hurt more in the end if you put your trust in me. I'll only betray you."

"You're spoiling the moment, Malfoy."


Draco laughed. It was a soft sound, but it lacked the malice or madness that usually tinged his laughter. It was genuine and a little tired, but Harry decided he quite liked the sound. He rather hoped this wouldn't be the only time he heard it. "I hate you, Malfoy." He murmured softly, smiling as his comment drew another spurt of genuine laughter from Draco's lips.

"Now who's spoiling the moment, Potter?"


~to be continued~


Author's Notes:
I know this chapter is a bit late, but you can thank my wonderful, archaic piece of shit computer and it's various accessories for that. I always thought the 'click of death' was a myth until I experienced it for myself. *sigh* This is an important lesson to all. Always make back-up copies. Multiple back-up copies and back-up copies of the back-up copies just to be safe. Well, it was hugely delayed, but I suppose I've managed to improve this chapter a bit as a result of the extra work I had to put into it. Plus, it's much longer then usual to make up for the fact that it was so blasted late and also the fact that I probably won't have time to get another chapter up until my midterms are over. (They'll be over and done next Friday.) Ode to the bliss which is University midterms. I do so love school lalal... ah, fuck it. I'm not fooling anyone. I fucking hate midterms and I'm bloody tired. *goes off to curl up in a corner and sleep*

The title for this chapter, like most of my chapter titles is a bit of a joke. This one is a combination play on the title of the story, the game bit, and also poking a bit of fun at myself about the pretty boys trend in the leading couples of most stories I write. I almost called this chapter 'Sneaking and Snogging', as a result of all the snogging and sneaking into Harry's bedroom comments I got on the last chapter, but that seemed just plain wrong. (Not that the current title isn't very wrong in and of itself, but I'm rather attached to the current title.) Anyway, I really enjoyed writing this chapter, even though I had to write the bloody thing twice. It was still rather nice after this hellish week of playing catch-up and preparing for midterms. I suppose this story is rather theraputic in a very strange masochistic sort of way. ^_^
Let's see...

"Straight to hell in a neatly packed basket"- This little comment was stored up in my mind from somewhere. I really wish I could remember where I picked this one up from. Very clever, but not mine. (I know I saw it in a fanfic though, that much I remember. So if anyone happens to know the author's name or the fanfic name, please e-mail me and let me know.) JFYI.

The "Brute Squad" label owes its origin to "The Princess Bride" which is my favorite movie of all time, hands down. (I think I used the term in Chapter Three as well and I may have forgotten to credit it, so there you are.)

"Play with me, Potter."- Yes, I did intend the double-meaning in that one. I hope that gave someone out there half as much of a laugh as it gave me. ^_^

Batman, Joker, Lex Luthor and Superman are all quite famous comic book characters for the uninformed. (Additional Note Added 2/24: Yes, Lex Luther and Clark Kent were friends at one time, but only people who are actually fairly intimate with the fandom would know that. Harry, being raised as a muggle without any of the true benefits of such an upbringing, wouldn't know the history of the characters, only very vague generalities. Should really have remembered to add this note before I posted this chapter, but like the dork I am... *sigh* Anyway, I wasn't up on the Lex Luthor/Clark Kent development, since I either missed that particular revelation or it came about sometime after I left that particular fandom behind. Either way, the analogy still works, so I'm stickin' with it.)

"Voluntarily allowing Gilderoy Lockhart to cast a healing spell on your unmentionables"- My own wizarding spin on the very muggle expression 'sticking your dick in a meatgrinder.' (Well, I thought it was pretty funny.)

Flashback quotes are from Chapter Two (Lucius' words to Draco), Chapter Four (the hospital room), Chapter Five (the tower), Chapter Six (the morning after and the classroom fight) and Chapter Eight (at the Fat Lady) respectively. Just in case anyone cares. (Actually, I think there are a few more in there, but that gives you an idea at least.)

"Must... control... fist of death..." is brought to you courtesy of Dilbert. A very, very amusing comic which I just adore.


Much thanks as always to all those who have reviewed. You are the most fabulous people. Thanks so very much! ^_^: Arwena (Thanks! Just knowing that there are people out there reading this puppy is nice. ^_^), J. Lynn, Kimmy (You did just fine, dear. Thank you so very much for taking the time to review and I hope this chapter has met your expectations), Yiota, SoulSister, Unicorn*Angel (The reason Draco doesn't like people touching him is actually quite simple. He has been raised in a household that did not approve of physical or overly emotional showings. As such, he was rarely touched by either of his parents except in anger and thus he has never known true tenderness when it comes to being touched and touching. He also associates the need to be touched with weakness, which is something he has also been taught by his parents. Okay, I'm getting a bit long with the explanation and I'm sure I will delve into Draco's deep psychological problems during later chapters so I'll leave off the lecture for now. ^_^ Thanks for asking though! I love questions. :p), tealish, the mysterious parentheses person (you know who you are, I'm sure ^_^), Jivanna, Iris, Klee (*lol* Yes, you are quite brilliant indeed. ^_^ I've heard the same thing about snogging scenes. Seems they are quite the rage these days doesn't it...? ^_^), Myr, oracle (Yes, I know. On the radio here you can't say whore or Colt 45, but you can say damn and bastard. How the fuck does that work out? *lol*), Han, DracosOneAndOnly, tealish, MidnightDragon, Mai Mai Suu, kitty, chrisseee667, She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, megan, Avada Kedavra, Youko Gingitsune, Antigone, laura, DaZeD, no one, laura, Zipporah, Crys Clouse, Dala, qggg, Mirekisa Tekisale, Pisces, Angelic Dragon, Sandra Solaria Dees, Rubicon, Celeste, Ari, Lady Ash, Raquel Lily, Jessica, Domino Nermandi, and Abaddon.

Special thanks to Demeter: For the sacrifice of your lunch. ^_- I like Snape and I think it's kinda sad that a lot of writers just kind of write him off as a paper-cutout character. I can never quite understand how anyone could resist exploring the interesting contradictions of such a complex character. Oh well... *shrugs* Anyway! Thank you for your words, as always, and I hope this chapter was up to snuff. :)

Special thanks (as always) to ShinigamiStar: I hope this chapter was up to snuff as it took quite a bit to get it here. *lol* I appreciated the little play-by-play in your review and laughed my head off about it for about five minutes. (Getting very strange looks from my roommate in the process, which is always a plus. :p) Danke!

Special thanks to darklites: Oh my goodness, thank you so much for your comments! ^_^ They made my day and continue to make my day every time I read them. Ah, my pile of character analysis pages... I will definitely have to scan those in or type them up after I'm done with my midterms and I'll post the URL when I get them all up so you can check them out if you're interested. (They're actually pretty frightening and I can actually still name most of the different places I was at when I was scribbling up all those notes and drawing little stick figure comics, diagrams, timelines and whatsuch.) My official slave, eh? Don't say those kind of things because I'm always in search of people to bother in the early hours of the morning when I'm having difficulties with certain chapters. Not to mention my complete lack of a beta-reader for any and all of my stories... *evil grin* Oh, and, yep, I'm a huge ol' Squall and Seifer fan. They were one of the very few things I enjoyed about FF8. (I spent like ninety hours on FF8 the first time I played. I'm still pretty bitter about the complete lack of Seifer through the ultra-boring middle regions of that bloody game. Actually, I'm still bitter about a lot of things about that game. *lol*) I can see the resemblance between Draco and Seifer. They're both blond, both huge with attitude to cover up their own insecurities, etc. Basically, they're both very deep characters and I appreciate that about them. ^_^

Special thanks to until strawberry sherbert: Yes, I like your pen name alot. It's a JPOP song, ne? I thought it sounded familiar. I want to say the song is from a CLAMP anime, CLAMP School Detectives or Card Captor Sakura, but I can't quite remember. (I am probably so off on that guess... I really need to brush up on my anime when I have a chance.) Anyway, much thanks for the reviews and for making me desperately want strawberries dipped in chocolate...

Special thanks to Mizzy: Thank you so much for recommending my little story. I appreciate that more then I could possibly ever say. You're the best. ^_^

Special thanks to Aja (Vanity Fair): Just for being all around fabulous and the author of a couple of stories which I absolutely adore. Your comments meant a lot to me and I appreciate your kind words so much more then I can say. Thank you also for recommending my story to others. You are wonderful and I hope this chapter met expectations. ^_^

And last, but certainly not least, a very special thanks to plumeria for just being terribly astute and for asking all those questions! I love it when people ask questions. ^_^ You've made me so happy just because you noticed the subtle points, which many people may have missed. I'll try and start from the top and work my way down regarding your questions.
First off, I'm glad you liked Chapter Three. It's one of my favorites, too. (Of course, that could be the fact that it took me so long to write it talking. I was working with that particular chapter for well over a month before I was completely happy with it.)
On to the questions and comments...
Ah, the train. The conversation-that-seems-to-have-been-tampered-with has been addressed a bit more in this chapter and will continue to come up in future chapters. How did Voldemort stop a whole train? That is a question for future chapters to work out, I'm afraid. Why did Malfoy save Harry? Not even Draco fully understands why he saved Harry that day or during the Quidditch match in Chapter Eight. It certainly wasn't the intelligent thing to do...
*lol* I think every last person on the planet who happens to write H/D slash has at one point or other done the hide-(under/in)-the-(cloak/trunk/refrigerator/bear rug) -to-avoid-(Filch/Snape/McGonagall/Spanky Sue Pratt) scenario or has at least contemplated it. If there were prerequisites for writing H/D slash that would probably be one of them. Not that I'm complaining... it's worked for me, obviously. ^_^
Harry was able to carry Draco from the tower for two reasons:
1.) Though Draco and Harry are roughly the same build and height, they are not the same weight.
2.) It's also rather tied in with the other wackiness going around in this story.
In regards to reason one: Draco has had a very difficult year and as a result he has dropped weight but mad. The Slytherin Seeker currently weighs in at roughly one-hundred and twenty-five lb. (ASWS- American Standard Weight System) and the majority of his weight is due to muscle toning, Draco has very little fat on that skinny body of his. Harry is also on the slim side, but has done quite a bit more training then Draco. (Plus, he wasn't locked in his room for the ENTIRE summer.) Thus his muscle mass and the amount of weight he can lift is a fair bit more then Draco and he also weighs a bit more due to this. The Gryffindor Seeker currently weighs in at around one-hundred and fifty lb. (ASWS... again. Good enough to give everyone at least a generalized idea of the weight difference, I suppose. *shrugs*).
When I mentioned I had pages and pages of notes regarding nearly ever aspect of this story I really wasn't joking. ^^;;; I'm kinda scary that way. Oh! And I have tried carrying my own weight and greater before, it sucks. Sucks a lot, actually, but it is possible. It's just terribly, terribly unpleasant. It all depends on the distribution of weight and how you carry it and whatsuch and whatnot. Was that a European swallow or an African swallow carrying that coconut? (Sorry, Monty Python reference. It had to be done.) *lol* :p
The next question was in regards to the nasty little headache bit (I'm so happy someone noticed this! ^_^) You on the right track with your observations about this one. ^_^
On to the next question (actually more observation then question, but I felt the need to comment. I'm a writer and rather pretentious, thus I must comment on just about everything. Humor me. ^^;;) Do you really think Draco's the one leaving those notes? Hmm...
Let's see, what else? Aww... the famous question of what does Draco *think* his father knows... All I'll say at this point is that the answer is in Chapter Seven and here as well if you read between the lines a bit. Draco's fall from the broomstick during fourth year will be explained, as well as the "that summer" reference (Yep, it was Snape and it's a reference to the events of Draco's life the summer before fifth year. That summer is also touched on very briefly in Chapter One as well as this one if that helps), will be explained at some length and in exhausting detail in future chapters. I hope that cleared some things up, I wasn't able to answer all the questions, but I've done what I can at this point. I hope that was good enough. ^_^

By the by, the song for this chapter is one of my favorites: Jack Johnson's "Flake". Bitchin', bitchin' song. Completely unrelated, but that's what I was listening to while I was writing this one.

Quick Note Update: Fixed spelling errors pointed out by the fabulous VanityFair and the wonderful Bosch. Damn you, Microsoft Word! Damn you to hell! *sticks a big pitch fork in the completely unhelpful program*

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