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31 May 2008 @ 09:54 pm
HP fic: Quantum Leap (6/6)  


part v

They landed with four distinct thuds on the Dursley’s front lawn, as the experienced wizards kept their balance, and the Muggles fell over backwards.

“What the –” Piers began, but Narcissa held up her hand. Her fine brows knotted together.

“Something’s not right,” she whispered. “Everybody get down.”

Harry dropped like a stone, just in time. The first spell ruffled his hair and rebounded off the intact front windows, shattering the glass. Red, not green: they were going for capture.

Impedimenta!” he yelled, aiming his wand in the direction of the Stunning Spell. A shout told him he’d hit his target. The spells came thick and fast after that, in all directions. Harry dodged one, deflected another with a Shield Charm, and caught a Stunner on his left arm. It fell to his side, limp and nerveless.

“Get inside!” he roared to the others. “Get inside the house!”

“I’ll cover them,” said Narcissa. She all but threw the scrambling boys behind her, firing white arcs of light. Harry didn’t know the spell, but it was certainly effective. Bodies thumped to the ground in its wake.

It wasn’t until Harry heard him yell “Expelliarmus!” that he realised Draco was at his side.

“Inside ... Stupefy! ... house,” he panted.

“You too,” said Draco, and yelled, “Grisiti!” Under a chorus of moans, he grabbed Harry’s arm and dragged him through the front door.

“Does that work on sober people?” asked Harry, trying to catch his breath.

Draco’s smirk could have eaten the sun. “Twice as hard.”

“Now what?” asked Narcissa.

“The basement,” said Harry, at the same time as Draco said, “The L-space portal.”

“The whaty whata?” said Piers.

“I’ll explain,” said Dudley, “later.”

“If you know what’s going on, why don’t you have a firestick?” said Cherub.

“Bad luck, I guess.” Dudley shrugged. Harry had never thought about what it must be like, to see magic all around whilst being magic-deprived. He didn’t have time to dwell on it: the house was shaking from the impact of the spells being hurled at it.

They slipped and slid down the basement stairs. Harry was the first to reach the portal; he held it open while shoving the others through. Draco was the last.

“Go on,” said Harry.

Draco nodded his head and dived through.

Harry could hear the Death Eaters outside, calling his name, taunting him. Snape might be among them, playing turncoat. Or he might not. Harry Levitated a quill and some parchment, scrawled ‘Gone to Padfoot’s’, and tossed it on to Snape’s bed. The portal was starting to shimmer. Harry slid through just before it snapped closed.

The Malfoys were standing to one side, away from the ‘filthy Muggles.’ None of the ex-Smeltings boys looked terribly impressed at being in a magical castle. Then again, perhaps the library wasn’t the best place to start in terms of the wow-factor. Books were books, whether you were a wizard or not.

Harry moved his gaze. Draco was white under his tan; the hand that held his wand was trembling. Narcissa, on the other hand, looked as cool as a mountain breeze, albeit with dust on her robes and a smudge on her nose.

“You don’t seem surprised by this,” he accused her. “Were you in on the plot?”

“Of course, Potter,” she said, sounding exactly like her son. “That’s why I’m here, with you, after nearly being razed to the ground by quadruple Stunning Spells. It’s the usual outcome for one of my plots.”

“You knew something, though,” he said. “Tell me what it was or I swear on Sirius’ grave I will –”

“You waste your breath on empty threats,” said Narcissa. “You’ve been living with my son for two months and you haven’t killed him yet; I’m in no fear of my life.”

A loud bang permeated the hallowed stillness. A number of portals hung in the air, grey as photocopies, awaiting activation. One of them was limned in gold as it came to life.

“How can –” said Draco. Harry knew what he was about to say: how could another portal open on to their dimension?

“It’s our portal.” Harry pointed at the runes that were spelling out ‘Dursley Residence.’

“Oh, Potter! Are you in there?” It was a man’s voice, a deep growl. Harry didn’t recognise it, but it was evident from their stiffened faces that the Malfoys did.

“We need to leave,” said Narcissa. “Rather urgently.”

“Hogwarts portal, open!” Harry ran down the line, searching. One at the very end lit up. “Come on!”

The others ran after him, the Muggles infected with the Malfoys’ fear. A thickset blonde man was climbing out of the Dursley portal, and he was not alone. Harry tumbled through the Hogwarts portal, Draco on his heels. Draco helped to pull Piers and Dudley through. Harry aimed a Stunner over Draco’s head. It missed, but earned him one in return. Narcissa was shielding Cherub as he half-fell through the portal; the Stunner got her right between the eyes. She plummeted, her head crashing on the tiles of the Entrance Hall.

“Mother!” shouted Draco.

Renervate!” Harry’s spell caused Narcissa’s eyes to flutter, nothing more. “Malfoy, help me! Renervate!”

Their spells combined opened Narcissa’s eyes. She winced. “I feel a little woozy,” she said thickly.

“Dudley, Piers, help her up,” snapped Harry. He turned to Draco. “I know a safe place to hide, but we have to get to the fifth floor.”

“She can barely walk!” objected Draco.

“She’ll be barely alive if we stay here.” He pointed his wand at Narcissa. “Wingardium Leviosa! That should help.”

“Gee, she’s light,” he heard Piers say.

With Draco leading and Harry guarding the rear, they ran up the first flight of stairs, jogged up the second flight, walked up the third flight, and staggered up the fifth flight.

“This place had better be a fucking fortress,” growled Draco. His face was running with sweat.

“Language, Draco,” murmured Narcissa.

Although his legs felt like lead, Harry forced himself to jog back and forth three times, thinking I need somewhere safe to hide as hard as he could. The others were too exhausted to question him, although Draco looked his severe doubts about Harry’s sanity.

Harry nearly cried with relief when a battered door opened into the wall. Just in time: he could hear shouts and angry curses coming from the staircase. Once everyone was through, Harry kicked the door shut and locked it. Within seconds it had disappeared from sight.

“This is your safe place?” said Draco. “A store-room?”

“It’s not...”

Harry’s voice trailed away as he took in his surroundings. Shelves rose to the cathedral-like ceiling; boxes of junk were dumped willy-nilly all over the floor. It looked like the room time forgot.

There was a clattering outside, voices. “I saw him come this way!” “He ain’t here now – let’s keep moving. Carrow, go back the way we came, see if they doubled back.” “What’ll we do with the others?” “Kill ‘em. But make sure you don’t hit Potter – or the Malfoy woman. I’ll take care of her myself.”

Harry turned to Narcissa, whose tight lips betrayed the only crack in her facade. “Looks like your cover’s blown.”

“I’m well aware of that,” said Narcissa. “I helped Snape escape after hacking off the head of that wretched beast. I would have got away with it, too, if he hadn’t been so insistent that I bring the body.” She fumbled in her skirt pocket, withdrawing a small pouch. “Here. He said to give it to you. I shrunk it, of course. I wasn’t about to walk out with it slung around my neck, like some Amazonian tribeswoman.”

Harry pulled the strings of the pouch. A miniscule, scale-perfect snake fell on to his palm. “Nagini...” he breathed.

“Will someone please tell me what’s going on?” demanded Piers.

Draco shrugged. “We’re a couple of good wizards, on the run from a couple of bad wizards.”

“Don’t say ‘good,’ say ‘ambivalent,’” murmured Narcissa, who’d brought out a compact and was fixing her face. “‘Good’ would mean I had to wear tartan.”

“When you say wizards...”

Narcissa snapped her compact shut and pointed her wand at Cherub. He blanched. Harry didn’t hear her spell, but a second later Cherub’s head was covered in thickly clustered curls the precise shade of rust. “Better,” she said. “You really weren’t carrying off the bald look, not with those ears.”

“Magic-workers, in other words,” said Draco, as Cherub gaped.

“And the ones outside?”

“Came to kill us and capture Potter.” Draco cut a glance in Harry’s direction. “No idea why, personally. I should think the Dark Lord would prefer a tame lion.”

Harry ignored him. “We might as well sit down. We’re going to be here for a while.”

Silence reigned for a short time. Then Draco said, “What I don’t understand is how the Death Eaters penetrated the protective wards around Lee’s house. I thought they weren’t due to break until Potter was seventeen.”

“The Dark Lord forced Snape to brew a potion with what was left of Potter’s blood,” said Narcissa. “By drinking it, the Death Eaters could pass through the wards. Snape intended to warn you far sooner, but he saw an opportunity to kill Nagini while it was sated from feeding on Amelia Bones. Why he needed to kill it I’m not sure. It was a horrible thing, used to leave slime all over my good floors, but judging from the state of Snape’s boots he wasn’t inordinately worried about that.”

“Are we going to be here for long?” asked Dudley. “Only, I’m hungry, and Mum and Dad will be worried.”

“Is there a back way out of here?” asked Draco.

Harry shook his head. “Not that I know of.”

“Great plan,” said Draco, sarcastically.

“Yeah, I thought so,” said Harry. “None of us are dead yet.”

“My kingdom for a ham sandwich,” sighed Dudley.

“Or a cocktail,” added Narcissa.

Dudley glumly sagged into the box on which he was sitting. It began to buckle. In quick succession he was deposited on the floor, while the stack of things holding up the box bounced around his feet.

“This looks kind of valuable.” Dudley plunged a hand into the sea of screwed-up parchment, torn books and broken quills. He held up what Harry thought was a sparkling necklace.

“Would you look at that,” said Draco in awe. “It’s Ravenclaw’s Diadem.”

+++

Four hours later, even the wonderful serendipity of literally falling over a Horcrux dimmed. Ravenous hunger took its place, accompanied by snarling tempers.

“Trust you to get us into this mess,” groaned Draco, over the grumbles from his stomach. “A Gryffindor couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag without instructions.”

“What’s your cunning plan then, huh?” demanded Harry. “Slytherin?”

“As if I’d tell you,” retorted Draco. “It’d hardly be cunning then. You repel cunning like a magnet.”

“Magnets attract things, doofus.”

“Yeah, like you attract stupidity and ugly friends.”

“My friends aren’t ugly!”

“Of course not. Red hair and freckles are marks of beauty – how could I forget? And the Mudblood would be exceptionally pretty if you stood her beside a row of furze bushes.”

“Last I looked, Crabbe and Goyle weren’t winning any beauty pageants.”

“Um, hello? Have you seen Blaise Zabini?”

“Who?”

“Your powers of observation continue to astound.” Draco rolled on to his side, pushing his head into an embroidered pillow. It was the only one the room had yielded so far, but as it was covered in suspicious stains no one was fighting Draco for it.

“Name me all the Gryffindors in our year,” challenged Harry.

“The Mudblood, the Weasel, Seamus the randy Irishman, Thomas with the awful accent, useless Neville, wears-too-much-eyeshadow Brown, the hot one – Parvati Patil, Griselda of the lantern jaw.” Draco reeled them off effortlessly. Harry had to keep from sniggering at some of the accurate descriptions.

But – “There’s no Griselda in our year,” said Harry.

“Yes, there is,” said Draco, in his ‘talking to idiots’ voice. “She has the aforementioned lantern-jaw, a nose that could batter down a door and quite nice red hair. I’m surprised you didn’t notice – or has the combined Weasley effect made you colour-blind?”

“Would you two just give it a rest?” groaned Piers. “You realise you’ve been arguing the entire time we’ve been here?”

“Now that you mention it, my throat is a little dry,” said Draco. “I’d kill for a lemonade. Well, I’d kill Potter for a lemon. Or for free. If only Kreacher were here.”

The noise was more of a tearing smack than a pop, but within in instant Kreacher was bowing before Draco. “The diaphanous master called for me? What is it sir requires?”

“A lemonade with ice,” said Draco.

“No! Ask him to get a message to Dumbledore – or better yet, get us out of here,” said Harry.

“What he said.” Draco smiled at the elf. “But the lemonade first.”

“Sir, Kreacher is a house-elf, sir.” There was a faintly disapproving look on Kreacher’s face.

“Amazing how that escaped my notice,” murmured Narcissa, waving a hand in front of her nose.

“Kreacher can do more than one thing at a time,” said Kreacher. He put a hand behind his back; when he held it out again, a frosted glass of lemonade was in it. He passed it to Draco.

“Thanks,” said Draco. He smirked at Harry, and drained the glass in one gulp.

“The master wishes to remove from this place?” asked Kreacher.

“Can you take us back to the Dursleys?” asked Draco.

“No – to Grimmauld Place,” said Harry. The elf’s eyes lit up, and he nodded.

“Hold on,” said Kreacher. “This might be a bumpy ride...”

+++

Two Months Later

The plant manager was pathetically pleased to see them.

“We don’t get many school tours anymore,” he said. “Been here nearly thirty years now, and there was a time when you couldn’t move for little buggers in ties trying to push buttons. All stopped after 1986, of course.”

“I can imagine,” said Mr Blake, with a thin edge of malice in his polite tone. Miss Thompson had turned out to be the easier sell, of the two.

The plant manager was called Bob and he wore a faded pair of navy overalls. Draco had been expecting something more unctuous, borderline sleazy, so he was surprised at the lack of pinstripe and hair oil. Bob was moreover older than a dinosaur and about as well-informed. He wasn’t officially the public face of Sellafield, Draco could tell; but then again, this wasn’t an official visit. Mr Blake had called in a few favours.

They trooped dutifully behind Bob: Mr Blake, Miss Thompson, Draco and Harry, of course, plus Cherub and Tilda and Piers, for the look of the thing. It was one of Dudley’s days to go visit his parents in St Mungo’s, so he’d cried off. Vernon hadn’t spoken since the attack, but Petunia was grimly determined to mobilise on her good leg and, then, to kill the dragon who’d eaten the other one. With her bare hands.

Draco soon tuned out of Bob’s monologue, which was on the dull and dreary side of boring. Even Miss Thompson could find little to rhapsodise over in all the gunmetal grey, and had contented herself with murmuring Ogden Nash ditties under her breath at intervals. One thing Draco didn’t miss was the curious look on Mr Blake’s face when Miss Thompson did that.

He hadn’t time to spare for worrying over the proceeding of their courtship. His wand was buzzing hotly in his pocket, warning him that the time was near. Weeks of careful preparation preceded this moment; he could afford to be nothing less than diligent.

Draco stepped a little away from the group. Harry, watching his every movement, did the same. He adjusted the backpack on his shoulder as he did so.

Harry’s hand brushed Draco’s as if by accident, but didn’t move off. Ignoring the tremulous thrill the touch brought him, Draco curled his thumb behind Harry’s palm and whispered a spell.

Bob shook his head; Tilda looked puzzled. The others, who’d been expecting it, pursed their lips or hissed. Draco felt as if a bucket of cold water had been emptied over him. He put a hand to his head, almost expecting to wipe away wet hair, and was surprised when it felt as light and dry as ever.

“Smooth,” said Harry.

Draco couldn’t tell if it were an insult or a compliment, but either way he didn’t care. Hours upon hours of Snape’s best work had gone into devising a potion that would, on Draco’s word, trigger off a series of essential chain reactions. Now, Bob had never seen them; Tilda thought they were home with colds. Voldemort might have extracted the information from Cherub’s head, or Piers’; but he’d have a devil of a time finding them, considering the effort that had gone into insuring that he thought Harry was in Leeds heading a covert Order attack on one of Voldemort’s primary Death Eater cells.

Harry dropped to his knees and rummaged through the backpack, extracting an enchanted screwdriver. He tapped it with his wand and it hovered in the air, then flew straight upwards. Harry and Draco watched as it unscrewed the bolts in a ceiling hatch with great precision and even greater slowness.

“I thought you said you’d practiced this,” said Draco.

“I did,” said Harry. “You should have seen how slow it was before.”

At last the screwdriver’s work was done. Harry tucked it back into the bag and pointed his wand at Draco. Draco couldn’t help feeling apprehensive. The first few times Harry tried to levitate him, he’d ended up flat on the bed with his head near the floor. Not that it hadn’t been a good position to practice other essential manoeuvres – but still.

“Don’t look so scared,” said Harry. “I always have rope if this fails.”

“I’m not scared, I’m realistic,” retorted Draco. “How about you show some positive thinking, eh? ‘Plan to fail’ and all that.”

Harry just rolled his eyes. A second later Draco realised he was floating.

He reached up and grabbed the edge of the hatch, hauling himself in. As soon as his feet slithered over the side, Harry cut loose the spell. Now it was Draco’s turn.

“Oh god, oh god,” Draco breathed. He’d smashed every wine glass he’d ever been asked to levitate. Harry was bigger than a wine glass, and so much more important. “Give me the strength to do this one thing, and I might even start believing in you...”

“Get a wriggle on, Malfoy,” yelled Harry.

(Snape added a sound-proofing element to the spell the morning after he’d had to bed down in the room Draco and Harry shared in Grimmauld Place.

“I hope you don’t think that was subtle,” Snape had told Draco. “Potter one expects little of; he’s been going around with the most idiotic smile I’ve ever had the misfortune to see. But I’m disappointed in you.”

“It was all him,” said Draco quickly. “He’s completely insatiable – typical Gryffindor.”

“You were in his bed,” said Snape. “And, Potter’s egotism aside, I don’t think even he says his own name when he –”)

Draco chewed on his tongue for a further three seconds. He tried to coalesce all the willpower he possessed and channel it into his wand.

Wingardium Leviosa!”

Swish. And flick.

“You can open your eyes now,” said Harry. He sounded amused.

“I – what?” Draco dropped his wand. Harry, who’d been drifting up and smirking, suddenly lost momentum. He scrabbled at Draco’s legs and heaved himself over the side of the hatch. Draco got a mouthful of hair as Harry slumped over him.

“You’re okay,” he whispered, patting Harry’s back.

Harry wriggled upright. He grabbed Draco’s hand. “There’s a time and a place,” said Harry severely, “and this is not it.”

“Shut up,” said Draco. He wrenched his hand out of Harry’s grip.

Harry kicked the hatch cover back in place. “Make sure to bolt it back afterwards,” he said unnecessarily.

“You’re the one with the magic screwdriver,” Draco pointed out.

“Which way?” asked Harry, but not before giving Draco a little shove in the back. Draco shivered and resisted the compulsion to rub his face in Harry’s neck, just for a second. Instead, he consulted his wand.

“Left,” he said.

Harry crawled ahead of him. Draco resolutely kept his eyes on the ‘floor,’ as he forced himself to call it (he didn’t like to think he was actually crawling through a metal pipe six feet from the ground). Now was not> the time to be getting hot and bothered by Harry.

That was sort of the problem, however. Ever since Cherub – a few days after the alarm over the attack on Privet Drive had worn off, and things were explained – had come up with the idea, it had been all stations go. When they weren’t plotting and planning, they were gathering obscure potions ingredients with a full guard from the Order, or trying to get to school inconspicuously so as to involve Mr Blake in the scheme.

The night after the attack was the first and last they were truly alone together. The others were treated in St Mungo’s for shock, but both Harry and Draco resolutely refused. They were backed up by Narcissa, so all three, under the auspices of Lupin, were escorted to Grimmauld Place. Narcissa immediately went to delve for lost treasures in the attic while Lupin returned to the hospital.

The hows and whats and wherefores of that night were lost to time and a fog of Firewhiskey, found squirreled away in a window-seat by Harry. He said the bottle was Sirius’; Draco didn’t care if it was the man in the moon’s so long as he got some. He might not have wanted to be prodded by Healers all night in the name of shock, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t still shocked. Such a vast quantity of blood would do that to a person.

There’d been kissing, Draco remembered that. And touching. Then nakedness, of a sort that meant most of Draco’s shirt was still on, shoved down his arms, and one of Harry’s socks, and Harry’s boxers around his knees. The nakedness required more kissing and more touching, until Draco couldn’t breathe from it, felt dizzy and hot and stupid. Fortunately, some things came naturally.

The days after were a whirlwind of activity. Draco was sure he was supposed to deny what had happened, or say it meant nothing when in fact it meant everything, but in fact he and Harry only spoke of essential things. How do we get in, how do we remain undetected, how to we make sure no one gets hurt, how do we keep Voldemort away until the deal is done? In the mire of essentials, the non-essentials got lost.

One day Draco looked up and it had been three weeks since The Night, as he thought of it (wakeful in the dark, with Harry snoring in the next bed and Draco’s hand in his pyjamas). In the intervening time, his mother had waltzed into Gringotts, used the family password to extract a random Horcrux from her sister’s vault, and had all her hair singed off by a marauding dragon. She hadn’t stopped complaining about it since. And, of course, there was the Plan – which required enormous amounts of Planning.

They were finally taking a breather – or rather, Lupin was taking it for them. He complained that Harry’s face was two big purple bags and Draco looked like a withered tree. If Hermione and Ron didn’t come in for their fair share of insults it was because they were already asleep, poised over books in uncomfortable attitudes that promised neck-ache come morning.

“Bed, bed, bed,” chanted Lupin. Draco paused only to sprinkle a few spitballs in Weasley’s hair – old habits died hard. Lupin was small and skinny, but that only made his fierce face more disturbing.

Draco was tired – so tired that he accidentally fell into Harry’s bed. He only half-pulled on his pyjama top and couldn’t find the strength to swap his boxers for pyjama pants, which must have meant something different in Harry’s world than ‘lazy’ and ‘unappetising.’ He came back from the bathroom smelling overpoweringly of mint and stopped. When Draco rolled over and realised his mistake, Harry was staring.

Before Draco could move or pretend to apologise, Harry crawled in beside him, shoving his legs straight with gentle hands. He curled into Draco with his lips on Draco’s neck, mumbled, “You taste of books” and fell asleep.

Of course, Draco was wide awake after that. He busied himself tucking Harry’s arms around his waist and warming his cold toes between Harry’s hot, carelessly splayed thighs. Harry woke up as dawn was breaking. Without opening his eyes, he fumbled with one hand until he found Draco’s cheek, then opened his mouth and kissed him.

They’d never spoken of that, either, but since then they shared a bed every night. Draco thought it was a fair trade-off.

None of it made crawling down a small dark tunnel behind Harry any easier.

Draco kept wanting to grab his ankle.

Eventually the feeling faded, because it was replaced by a host of other things clamouring for his attention. At the head of the pack were his knees and palms, scraped raw, and not letting up for a second with the complaints.

“Hang on a minute,” said Draco. Harry scrambled up against the side of the shaft, wincing.

There was a brief, hazy interlude while Draco took Harry’s hands and magically cooled the bruised places. Harry did the same thing for him.

“We probably should have done this at the beginning,” said Draco.

“Don’t look at me,” said Harry. “You’re the brains of the outfit, or so you keep saying.”

Draco was about to snap out something about relative brain sizes, probably involving pea metaphors, when Harry reached up and cupped his cheek. Nothing more, and just for a second, but Draco felt it all the way to the end of the shaft.

They passed through air ducts and blank walls and locked doors. Never had Draco been so grateful for magic. The place was clearly designed to be impenetrable, for good reason. If they hadn’t been wizards, it would have been.

Draco’s wand was nearly burning his thigh. “I think this is it,” he said, failing utterly to conceal the shake in his voice.

“Right. All right.” Harry’s voice jumped octaves between every syllable. “This is it, then. It’s going to work.”

It wasn’t a question, but Draco said, “Yes, of bloody course it is,” anyway.

Harry pulled a gas mask out of his bag and put it on. He handed the second, ‘just in case’ mask to Draco.

“You’ll Apparate right back out,” said Draco, confirming.

Harry’s smile was weak behind his mask. “I want to give you something,” he said.

“I can have it when you get back, just hurry.” Draco was struck by a sudden sick urgency.

“Here,” said Harry. He pushed a circular box into Draco’s hand. It looked like the sort of cheap antique with which Grimmauld Place was littered. Draco opened it: the inside shimmered with memories. It’s a Pensieve, thought Draco, he’s going to

+++

swish, focus

...number four, Privet Drive was ravaged by dragon fire. Bits of it were still smouldering in the flowerbed, flickering pale green. The house itself was a blackened ruin. Here and there glinted remnants of normality: a charred saucepan. A faucet. Half an armchair.

Dudley started saying, “Mum? Dad?” in a queer, high-pitched voice. Harry didn’t want to look, but he wasn’t about to let Dudley do it instead.

He stepped forward, feeling movement beside him. Draco’s shirtsleeve swished against his own.

“This is not a good place to be right now,” he said.

“No kidding,” said Harry. He tried to pretend there was no smell of burnt flesh in the air.

This was not the way to die, Harry realised. He had hated the Dursleys growing up, but they deserved a kinder end than being turned into dragon kebabs. The thought felt like it should be more profound than it was.

Draco was at his side when they found...

swish, focus

..."C'mon, then;" Draco bit his lip and lifted the covers, looking shy and hopeful and excited and a tiny bit nauseated, all at once. Harry could relate: cold sweat was breaking out on the back of his neck and behind his ears, making his scalp prickle.

Draco scooted back against the wall, as if it would make a difference - the bed was barely spacious enough to accommodate him; adding an extra blanket was asking too much of it. It felt to Harry that it was in slow motion when Draco peeled a sheet from his hip, exposing faded pyjamas and a scooped-out hollow under his hipbone.

And above that – well. Harry knew Draco was shirtless: had seen him take off the t-shirt and toss it over his head; could remember being very thoughtful about the effect that had on the pit of his belly. But it was different to see Draco's flesh in the flesh, with the wisps of downy hair and scored lines of muscle and now Harry's stomach was turning over, not in a good way, but like he was going to be sick.

"I –" said Harry. He stepped closer, the laces of his untied shoes slapping on the floor. Draco sucked in a breath as if to make even more room, and that was it, Harry was in the bed with him.

"You hopeless boor," said Draco. "Are you usually this undomesticated or has lust addled what's left of your brain?"

"I," said Harry. "What?"

"Boots." Draco put a hiss on the s and scraped his foot against Harry's calf. One of them reached down, or they both did, then the boots were on the floor and Draco was chest to chest with Harry, his bare skin burning where it touched.

"I ..." Harry reached out a hand to brush the hair out of Draco's face. At the same time, Draco tried to touch Harry's cheek.

Their wrists knocked in mid-air and they both pulled back in confusion. It was Draco's turn to mutter something incomprehensible. The words dried up in Harry's mouth. His heart was beating so hard he was afraid it would explode through his chest, although it wasn't the main thing he was worried about imminently exploding.

"Just let me -" Draco mumbled. He slid backwards, pulling Harry to face him and wedging his thigh between Harry's legs. A host of strange sensations – warmth, dampness, hardness, friction – assailed Harry, and then he could hardly breathe, on top of everything else.

"Maybe I could," continued Draco, rubbing his palm up Harry's neck as if this were the end to the sentence. His eyes were a lovely colour, Harry thought wildly, like clouds, or concrete, and was that Draco's dick he could feel?

"I –"

"I really want to kiss you," whispered Draco. His voice was breathless and there was a sudden burst of red in his cheeks. "I want to, can I kiss you?"

That hadn't been part of the arrangement. They said they were just going to, Harry distinctly remembered. There was a sofa and Firewhiskey and, lips, ghosting across his mouth...

He turned his face into the kiss. It was instinctive, like closing your eyes against the glare of the sun, or breathing deeply in a warm bakery. He raised his arm and pawed Draco closer to him, his elbow on Draco's ear, mouths crushing in the rush. Harry gasped for air and caught Draco's tongue beneath his lips. It was a good kiss. Harry was okay with the kissing, he decided. There should be plenty more kissing, with Draco's cool fingers trailing up his back and fisting in his hair and lots, lots of licking tongues.

Harry didn't notice the soft 'uh' noises Draco was making, probably because he could only hear his own, but he did notice when Draco got his legs around Harry's waist. Their hips collided, but it seemed as if Draco had meant for that to happen, because he pressed in tighter and began to arch himself into Harry. Harry wasn't having any of it. This wasn't what he'd signed up for, oh no, he'd thought – warm hands in the dark, two minutes to bring him off quickly – not this wide-open breezeblock stare, Draco sucking at the corner of Harry's mouth while his hands and hips did unspeakable things.

"I can't," said Harry, forcefully, “I can’t feel this way.”

“You already are,” whispered Draco...

swish, focus

Draco’s cheek was smeared with inky fingerprints. It made Harry smile, from a combination of simple amusement and the warm, secret knowledge that Draco had a habit of missing the inkpot with his quill when he was concentrating hard. His fingers went in the inkpot instead, and when he went to push his hair out of his face – it fell in his face a lot, obscuring his eyes, making him coy – the ink went everywhere.

Harry was allowed to know that. You were allowed to know things like that about the person you were sleeping with, about the person you –

“Hey.” Dudley dropped on to the sofa beside Harry – literally. It sunk about a foot.

“How’s it going, Big D?” asked Harry. It was a mental shift to treat Dudley with civility, let alone sympathy, but Harry was learning a lot of new things lately. “Did Healer Rosenbaum have any news?”

Dudley nodded. “She said Mum was coming on in leaps and bounds. She knows this doctor – I mean, this wizard – in France who’s worked his whole life on regenerating nerves with some spell or other. Hermione will know. Anyway, Rosenbaum told me there was a possibility that they could make a new leg for Mum. Later, you know, when the war’s over.”

Harry felt a cold shiver at the matter-of-fact way Dudley referred to the situation. It was war, of course it was; but for so long it had been covert – a Harry-against-everyone operation. Another thing that required some getting used to.

“For now, she’s making her this brilliant fake leg,” continued Dudley. “Practically looks real – I saw the toes. They match Mum’s other foot perfectly. They’re just as completely freaky.”

“What about Uncle Vernon?” Harry ventured. Dudley’s smile wavered, but didn’t fall.

“Still not talking,” said Dudley, “or eating. They’ve been giving him magical stuff, but he’s. I’ve never seen him this thin.”

“Maybe he’ll like being skinny,” said Harry. “You know, when he ... talks again.”

Dudley sounded doubtful. “He always said he was a ‘real man with real bones.’ Not that it matters, of course. Mum thinks we should take him to a doctor. It might be post-traumatic stress or something.”

“I’m sure Healers know about that,” said Harry.

“I don’t think so,” said Hermione. She’d come in for the last exchange of the conversation and was now perched on the sofa arm. “Healers are used to dealing with straightforward magical catastrophes. Their idea of psychiatric treatment is to give people a potion to make them forget what they were worried about.”

“Sounds good to me,” said Harry.

“You think so?” said Hermione. “The trials in life are what make us strong. They’re the things that make us who we are. Do you really want to forget all that?”

“Not all,” amended Harry, “but some.” He still woke at night sweating, Sirius’ and Cedric’s surprised faces plastered across his vision.

Hermione patted his shoulder. “You don’t get to pick and choose,” she said. “In a few years or decades it will make more sense.”

“Do you really always know what you’re talking about?”

“No,” laughed Hermione. “But I believe I do. That’s good enough.”

Ron ambled into the room. Something in Hermione’s face went painfully soft. Harry looked away, into Dudley’s amused gaze.

“No move yet?” he whispered. Ron had two sandwiches on a plate; he held it out to Hermione, as if she would honestly be tempted by two day old bread and soggy lettuce.

Apparently she was, because she smiled and took one.

“Give them another twenty years,” Harry whispered back. “By then, they might have admitted they’re more than just friends. But don’t expect miracles.”

“Now I see why you lot invented love potions.” Dudley shook his head. “Cherub says hi, by the way. He went to the cinema with Tilda last night.”

“What did they go to see?”

“I haven’t got the slightest idea,” said Dudley. “Neither does Cherub, by all accounts. I don’t think he took in a thing. But he could tell me every detail of Tilda’s outfit and Tilda’s perfume and what Tilda said and what Tilda laughed at –”

Harry wrinkled his nose. “He’s got it bad.”

“Terminal,” agreed Dudley. He glanced around the room. “Hey, Draco! Didn’t see you there, behind all those books.”

“Protective camouflage.” Draco spread his fingers across a yawn. The index was black. “There’s a Weasley in the room. I wouldn’t want him to smell me.”

“Hey, Malfoy,” said Ron, in a neutral voice.

“Too late!” said Draco, tragically.

Ron dropped the plate, with its one sad sandwich, on top of Draco’s parchment. “Snacktime at the zoo,” he said.

“What is this?” Draco prodded the limp object with his quill. “Has it already been eaten?”

“You’re welcome,” said Ron, and went back to Hermione. As soon as he saw Ron was distracted, Draco picked up the sandwich and crammed it whole into his mouth.

Draco was hungry. Harry didn’t realise he’d said it aloud until Dudley said, “When’s the last time he ate?”

“Well, he went off to research metal-breaking jinxes at four...” Harry’s voice trailed off as he checked his watch. It was ten pm. “Shit, I’d better make him something.”

Dudley’s mouth twitched. “I’m sure he’s capable of making his own dinner.”

“He’s been working hard,” said Harry defensively. “It’s the least I can do.”

“Sure,” said Dudley. “His favourite sandwich filling is ham and cheese. He told me once.”

“Really?” Harry glanced at Draco again. He snuck looks at him a lot, actually. It was like he was reassuring himself that Draco still existed and, more importantly, that he was still there. In a room with Harry. “He doesn’t look like a ham and cheese person.”

“Appearances can be deceiving,” said Dudley. “So, you’re really going through with Cherub’s comic book masterplan?”

“Yeah,” said Harry. “It’s a good plan, no matter where it came from.”

He thought back to the sun-drenched afternoon. A kindly rescue witch, hoping no doubt to restore a semblance of normality to Dudley’s life, had boxed up what remained of his bedroom and sent it to St Mungo’s. The yield was pitifully small: the melted remains of his Playstation, a teddy bear’s head, a remarkably unscathed pillow, and a stack of charred comic books.

Although none of them said it, it was clear that the Muggles didn’t want to leave the safety of the hospital. For two days, every time Harry visited they were bent over the adventures of Superman, Batman, Ironman and the Incredible Hulk. Indeed, the only way Cherub could process the recent events of his life was through superhero metaphors.

“So what’s this Dark Lord’s kryptonite, then?” he asked.

Harry turned to Dudley with habitual bafflement. “Superman,” Dudley referenced. “He’s got all these amazing powers, strength and flight and so on, but as soon as he comes near kryptonite he loses them all.”

“Yeah! Couldn’t you break the Dark Lord’s magic stick?” suggested Cherub.

“It would be difficult to get it off him,” said Harry. “As in, I’d be dead before I got to it. But it’s a good thought.”

“But his soul-boxes are kind of like kryptonite,” reflected Cherub. “If you blew them up, all his powers would be sucked away.”

“Yes, but we can’t blow them up,” said Harry.

“Why not? You could chuck ‘em in a nuclear reactor. Pow! Vaporised.”

“It wouldn’t work,” said Harry. “They have to be destroyed by magic.”

Draco looked up from the travails of the Silver Surfer, which he was devouring with gusto.

“Who says?” he asked.

Back in the present, Dudley nudged Harry in the side. Slightly winded, Harry gasped, “What?”

“Is nuclear power really stronger than magic?” Dudley sounded doubtful.

“Lots of things are stronger than magic,” said Harry. Music, Dumbledore had said once. Love... “Nuclear power happens to be one of them, fortunately. And Voldemort’s such a Muggle-hater, he won’t even take it into account. Hopefully.”

“Did you find the last Hor-thing yet?” asked Dudley. “Or are you just going to destroy the ones you have and hope for the best?”

“Pretty much,” said Harry. An icy vine curled around his heart and squeezed. “The last Horcrux is ... the last Horcrux might turn up before then.”

“Right.” Dudley yawned. “If you’re making Draco that sandwich, will you get me one too? Tuna and mayo, if poss.”

“What am I, your slave?” grumbled Harry, getting to his feet.

“Nah,” said Dudley, smiling sleepily. “You’re my cousin.”

“Huh,” said Harry. He couldn’t think of anything else to say to that.

He took one last look at Draco before he went out. Draco’s quill was scratching slowly across the parchment, held loosely in his lax grip. His other hand propped up his face; his little finger rubbed absently across his lower lip.

Something inside of Harry rose up, singing. I love you, I love you, I love you I love you iloveyouiloveyouilove...

swish. Focus.

Draco jerked his consciousness out of the Pensieve, heart beating too fast to bear.

“Harry!” he yelled. “What are you doing, you said you’d come back, you promised –!”

His hand slammed into the side of the shaft as he whirled around.

It was empty. Harry was gone.

THE END
 
 
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: mama (my chemical romance)
 
 
 
lindsey_grrl on June 8th, 2008 05:13 am (UTC)
So pretty =(
And now I wanna cry.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Disney: Cinderellascoradh on June 8th, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC)
I think I do this on purpose so I can indulge myself in some Catholic guilt (for making people cry)...
(Anonymous) on June 8th, 2008 07:17 am (UTC)
Oh god, why can't it be like in the book where Harry's pretty much Jesus?

I can't believe my eyes are watery. That never happens to me. I don't cry. I'd curse you, but I've had my heart in my throat for too much of this story to really be angry.
disordered_messdisordered_mess on June 8th, 2008 07:18 am (UTC)
Erm, that was me. And I just reread the last bit, and now my cheeks are wet.
(no subject) - scoradh on June 8th, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - disordered_mess on June 9th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - daybreaq on June 9th, 2008 03:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on June 12th, 2008 09:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - daybreaq on June 13th, 2008 01:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on June 13th, 2008 09:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Black Booksscoradh on June 8th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
This was kind of my two fingers to book 7 (which statement will of course deeply offend those who liked it, but still). I really did think Harry should have died. The epilogue, too, didn't exactly make me feel happier that he survived. JK sent out some pretty weird messages, imo.

Anyway! I'm glad you liked it. Sorry about Cherub - he was more of a plot stratagem than an essential character in his own right, I'm afraid.
Moyamoia on June 8th, 2008 05:10 pm (UTC)
Such fun to see H/D boys fic again after reading them as adults for quite a while. :)

The characters felt very alive and I loved to see Dudley (and his friends) actually seem human and him and Harry getting along almost. :) I also always like when 'ordinary' people are involved in things and have things happen to them too and aren't useless at all - D.&Piers helping Cherub in their own way and Cherub had an idea for defeating Voldie after all, how cool. :)
The fic was very long yet didn't feel like it at all.
I am a bit troubled by the ending - is Harry dead now?! D:
I liked the way he said goodbye with the pensieve of his favourite memories of Draco. At least that's how I read it.

Thank you! I spent some lovely Sunday afternoon hours reading this fic and had a great time. :)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Audrey Hepburnscoradh on June 8th, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you so much! It's great to hear about the things that worked for you, and I'm glad your Sunday wasn't wasted. ♥
(Deleted comment)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Candy lipsscoradh on June 12th, 2008 09:27 pm (UTC)
Random comments are the reason I write, yo. :D

Liking the Dursleys ... yeah, that's probably because I fail at writing horrible people. idek.

I'm glad you liked the sparring, it was fun to write! My apologies for the end: they are not my forte. Ask anyone; read any comments for my fics; they all say the same. :D
winkinganniewinkingannie on June 10th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
I love getting surprise!finished! fics from authors. This one was brilliant. At first I couldn't really tell where you were going with it, but soon caught on. I really enjoyed your Dudley and his friends. Opening Harry's eyes to what other people go through is a favorite of mine. As much as it hurts that Harry dies, that's what had to happen.
Thanks for sharing this!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Dinosaur: attracted to musicscoradh on June 12th, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC)
At first I couldn't really tell where you were going with it haha, me neither

I'm glad you enjoyed it! It ... was easy to write, what can I say. ;D
jazzymjjazzymj on June 11th, 2008 12:03 am (UTC)
Wow! Sorry for the random comment, but saw this at Big Bang and couldn't comment. But I wanted to let you know that this was an exceptionally moving story and that the "death" was more powerful, with Harry knowing the sacrifice he was going to have to make and yet going through with it anyway.

The Malfoys were nicely portrayed here, and I was really happy with your portrayal of Draco, and how the relationship with Harry slowly progressed in addition to his dealing with the "strangeness" of the muggle world.

The ending still made me cry though.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Bookishscoradh on June 12th, 2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
Random comments are goodstuffs!

I think everyone, from JK to Dumbledore, knew that was gonna go down. Only, I made it slightly more ... permanent.

Thank you! They were very fandom-y, but that was half the fun. (And sorry.)
Karmabella Zephyrsparkle Nott: HP - Clock towerkaraz on June 11th, 2008 05:04 am (UTC)
argh. This one hits so hard, I had a delayed reaction. I didn't start crying until I got over here to give feedback. Now I can't stop. The ending fits, so I'm not complaining, but *cries* Poor Draco! I can't even focus on the things I liked here. There were plenty. I'm just stuck on:

"I can't," said Harry, forcefully, “I can’t feel this way.”

“You already are,” whispered Draco...
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Converse kissscoradh on June 12th, 2008 09:35 pm (UTC)
Well, I suppose there's always the possibility that Harry will, you know, Apparate back into the tunnel. *le shrug*

Oh dear, I'm writing nothing but fluffy bunnies for the next ten years! :D
Daisy-chama: HP - not my daughter you bitchdaisy_chan on June 13th, 2008 05:58 am (UTC)
You are such a liar! You told me it wouldn't end tragically ;_____; *weeps*

I loved it though. Except, for, you know, the ending. And the fact that Harry and Draco didn't get a proper threesome with Cherub.

every Starbucks should have a polar bear: CS+TAI: stripey hoodie Gabescoradh on June 13th, 2008 09:27 pm (UTC)
haha?

Okay, I had no idea things were tending in that direction! Feel free to write a forgotten excerpt if you like, though. ♥
Mr. Mercutio: maleficent silhouettemr_mercutio on June 13th, 2008 04:01 pm (UTC)
Oh goodness, that was such a fantastic, fantastic experience. I came over because, as seems to be the case for so many others, couldn't leave a comment on the Big Bang site. I thought this was absolutely stunning. I love how a lot of it started off kind of vaguely cracky, with Snape and Draco living in the basement, and the L-Space, and the Muggle school, and all that (too many ands here!), but all throughout there were these little blended hints of what was to come.

You keep such a wonderful sense of humour throughout your writing, but you still manage to maintain a beautiful story that is important. It was so important. I felt like a part of me just twisted in a wonderful/awful way at the ending. It was so necessary, so beautiful, but god it hurt. (Reading this at work was a silly idea, since I am now getting stares from coworkers for my outburst of "Noooooooo...") The blending of time and place during the Pensieve scene was so magical... the last bit of:

Something inside of Harry rose up, singing. I love you, I love you, I love you I love you iloveyouiloveyouilove...

Made me want to cry, because it was so amazing, and because I knew what was coming.

Thank you so much for this. It was absolutely wonderful.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: stealin ur virginityscoradh on June 13th, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC)
It's grand! I like it when people comment here, as it gives me a chance to reply.

Humour is something I can't help trying for. The rest ... comes by accident, but I'm still very glad it works!

confession? i kind of liked that line a lot, too

Thank YOU for your comment! ♥
m. something-or-otherspacefragments on June 14th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC)
i looove dudley in this. the ending tore my little heart out and stomped on it (i think i mentioned this on the big bang review forum), but i wouldn't have it any other way, tbh. ♥ and your OCs were actually interesting, so yay for that too!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Balloonsscoradh on June 14th, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC)
OH BUT WEREN'T YOU ONE OF MY FABULOUS ARTISTS? *SNUGGLES YOU LIKE A BUNNY*
(no subject) - spacefragments on June 14th, 2008 11:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
potterhead224 on June 14th, 2008 02:32 am (UTC)
Wow. I'm the same with the random commenting, but I just really wanted to let you know that this story? So replacing the 7th book in my mind as the ending of canon. I like how you recycled a lot of typical fandom ideas (like the living with Draco and Severus) and also used some really unique, exciting new stuff, like a really new take on the Dursleys and the muggle school, as well as of course the ending (don't get me started on that because it made me angry and so achey but, like so many others have said, it was also perfect and right). In general, the story made me laugh and cry (which is one of those things that people always say but isn't usually true, and for me and this story it was so so true -- i laughed out loud and the ending had me bawling).
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Audrey Hepburnscoradh on June 14th, 2008 09:31 pm (UTC)
Wow, thank you! I'm rather awed that you had that impression. Although, I was so annoyed with the seventh book that I just decided to write it going from A to B, instead of A to Hawaii to Z to B.


I'm just so glad you liked it. :D
Rinaveryshortlist on June 15th, 2008 09:46 am (UTC)
I was wondering where the subtle but silly humor was coming from, and then I saw the credit to Terry Pratchett in the intro and things started to make sense.

Not quite sure how to say this, as I loved almost everything, the way you took characters like Dudley and Snape, and made them human. That's so rare in HP, especially, where there's this sort of black hats vs. white hats villainizing that goes on that makes that sort of characterization difficult. I loved the beginning as well, it read almost like JK herself.

But. The ending somehow doesn't jive with the rest of the story, it seems. For all that the main body of the story is richly detailed, and wonderfully worded, the last heroic act of the story could have benefitted from more embellishment. Not pages and pages. Just a bit.

That said, this has made it's way into my favorites of all time, and as soon as I forget a few details, I'll be re-reading, as I do with most stories that I love.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Black Booksscoradh on June 15th, 2008 07:15 pm (UTC)
He's a major influence, this is true!

Ah, I have nothing to say to that but 'you're right.' I fail at endings like a huge big failboat of fail. It's practically my trademark. >.>

But I'm glad you liked most of it, and it's great to hear of the prospect of re-reading!
Whitwhitsun on June 28th, 2008 04:21 am (UTC)
loved this. loved loved loved. And now I've also read your two Al/Scorpius fics and can't wait for you to finish the sequel one. What I love most is that they're all so different from the normal runofthemill fics; new characters, new locations, and yet somehow I still care (I can't tell you how many times I've scanned a page and hit back because there were new unfamiliar names)
So thank you for writing although they are not unpainful and my heart is aching a little (it will be helped by more three steps back, just saying...)
I look forward to looking at your recs!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: butterfly bookscoradh on June 28th, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I really enjoy making up new people to populate established worlds. I'm always surprised that more ficcers don't make the most of it.

You're in luck - the end of the road is in sight. :D

Edited at 2008-06-28 06:00 pm (UTC)
nahimana: cupcakeemerald_dragon8 on July 24th, 2008 01:16 pm (UTC)
Uh, hi! This may seem awfully random but due to insane RL commitments I'm only just getting around to reading the Big Bang fics, and I just wanted to pop in and say that I adored this. So much. The humour was brilliant (and considering Terry Pratchett is obviously a writer you enjoy, this doesn't surprise me in the least - anyone who appreciates his brilliance must therefore be at least somewhat brilliant themselves). I really enjoyed the progression of their relationship, and the inclusion of some new characters - Dudley almost felt like a new character to me, which I thoroughly enjoyed because I never liked JKR's characterisation of him.

This really is how book 7 should have gone - Harry's reincarnation was ridiculous (if you're going to kill him, just do it, don't wimp out!) and though I cried at the end I felt a far greater satisfaction from your ending. And I thought it was quite refreshing to see less focus on every little detail of the war planning. I don't know if I've been reading the wrong fics recently, but all the long ones seem to have very detailed war planning which, after Harry Potter and the Incessantly Long Hunt for Horcruxes, I can quite honestly do without.

So, before I turn this into an essay, I'd just like to say thank you for writing a fic that kept me thoroughly entertained throughout. If it weren't close to midnight, I'd be looking for more of your fic. Alas, that'll have to wait until tomorrow. :)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: HP: Elvendorkscoradh on July 24th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC)
and considering Terry Pratchett is obviously a writer you enjoy, this doesn't surprise me in the least - anyone who appreciates his brilliance must therefore be at least somewhat brilliant themselves

Well - that's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it!

I have a little thing for exploring characters, either disliked ones or new ones. I think it's never too late for either sin or redemption. (Harry could totally turn evil on his 50th!)

after Harry Potter and the Incessantly Long Hunt for Horcruxes

WORD. My retelling was something of a parody in that sense. For all the random camping in of woods and raiding of Ministries, finding the Horcruxes always seemed to be a mixture of luck and exogenous intervention. I just ramped that up a little. :D

Thank you! And that's the great thing about the internet - the fic will always be there tomorrow. (Next year, no guarantees; but tomorrow, yes.)

ps I really want a cupcake now.