Draco Malfoy and His Unknown Fate

By: JitterBug (jitterbug@cfl.rr.com)

Rating: NC-17
Summary: Due to a difference of opinion, Draco is disinherited by his father. He now has to make his own way in life.
Category: Drama, Romance
Pairing: Harry/Draco

The silence was all pervading. It had a weight of it´s own and it settled heavily on the length of gleaming wood that had served many a Malfoy as a dining table for countless centuries. So heavy was it, that Draco expected the chandeliers (monstrosities of diamond, crystal, and gold that acted as fountains of light) to creak under it´s ponderous weight and perhaps even tumble onto the cold stone floor to shatter into a million sharp, deadly pieces. He could almost feel the slivers lodging into his skin as he waited for the silence to be broken.

Narcissa sat at one end of the table, studying the crystal goblet in front of her critically as she waited for her husband to arrive. Lucius´ place was at the head of the table, of course, and aptly enough there seemed to be miles of table between the two. Almost as much distance physically between husband and wife as there was emotionally with their son seated between them in the middle by himself on the left side. Draco had never questioned that their way wasn´t normal or that it could be anything else until his father had let him tag along with him to the Ministry at the tender age of seven.

During his lunch hour Lucius had taken him out to eat and on the way to the restaurant they had seen a family eating out of an old, battered picnic basket in a grassy park. Draco had spotted the family of laughing red heads surrounding two figures, one tall and plain and the other round and short kissing briefly amidst the chaos in greeting. The Weasleys had a warmth that was as foreign to Draco as the Malfoy´s cold distance was foreign to everyone else. In that instant Draco had come to hate the redheaded boy who was having his head knuckled lightly by an older brother. They were the same age but by some trick of fate the other boy had become so very lucky, never mind the worn, shoddy clothes he wore. Sometimes Draco thought Lucius hated Arthur Weasley for the same reason he hated Ron Weasley before he remembered that Lucius had been frozen inside out long ago. Even his hatred dripped icicles.

“Do your new robes meet with your approval?’ Came Narcissa´s lovely, detached voice. It brought Draco out of his reverie and he forced a polite smile.

“Of course Mother. The gray is especially flattering.’

Narcissa nodded her agreement. The sound of footsteps echoed through the halls, heralding Lucius Malfoy´s appearance. The man was tired, though it only showed because the lines around his mouth were more prominent and his eyes were harder than usual. He took his seat silently and the food appeared, a banquet fit to feed a king. Lucius Malfoy was not a king, but he had enough money and arrogance to pass as one.

The first words out of his mouth were bitter complaints. “That damn Fudge is ruining everything. You´d think he´d be happy with a few bribes, but he keeps running back to Dumbledore every time the Dark Lord so much as sneezes. I had to practically hold his hand to keep him from ruining things.’ The sneering tone was familiar as Draco had adopted it himself to use on those who annoyed him. His own jeering pitch was a mere shallow echo of the true malicious distaste that flavored his father´s voice.

Draco didn´t know how to reply and so didn´t, letting his mother steer the conversation towards less provoking topics. He was glad he hadn´t once he remembered his father´s ‘children are to be seen and not heard´ approach to formal meals. Hogwarts had spoiled him badly. It was only two weeks into summer and he was still busy adjusting to the Manor once more. Their voices flowed past his ears and he only let half his attention linger on their words while he contemplated the stuffed quail beneath his fork. Three courses passed that way and if it wasn´t quite pleasant it wasn´t much of a trial either. Suddenly, the conversation turned interesting and he looked up from his silver plate to study the elder Malfoy.

Lucius was gesturing with his fork, which still had a bit of sauce clinging to it´s gleaming tines as he spoke. “…of course. It was a disgrace. Weasley´s son should keep such things behind closed doors. Bad enough to have a male lover,’ at this a truly ugly sneer transformed his usually handsome features, “but to parade it around so crudely? I was absolutely disgusted. Men, kissing in public. What´s this world coming to, nowadays?’

“Which Weasel was it?’ Draco blurted out and looked down at his plate submissively when his father reprimanded him with a stern look. He did deign to answer though.

“I forgot his name. The wild one with the earring who breaks curses for Gringotts. He was prancing about with some Quidditch player. It was revolting. Put me right off my lunch. Faggots should be grouped with Mudbloods and Muggles in my opinion. Fit to be trod upon and not much else.’

Draco was appalled. He blinked for a moment, absorbing the fact his father was obviously oblivious to his son´s sexual preferences and that for once in his life his father´s prejudices were not his own. Somehow, the subject had never come up before, but considering how rarely his father discussed things with him it wasn´t all that surprising. That realization, that their opinions differed so wildly, made him question things that, for the sake of his family and own peace of mind, he knew he shouldn´t question. “That´s a little harsh, isn´t it?’ He finally ventured, poking at some bit of green on his plate as his appetite suddenly vanished. His father´s head snapped up and a tired glare was thrown his way.

“Of course not. It´s unnatural. If men were meant to be with men that way there wouldn´t be women. And it´s sick. The whole concept is just…’ The older man shuddered in revulsion. “Don´t tell me you can condone that sort of deviant behavior.’

Draco frowned at his kelp rolls. When he finally spoke it was slowly, in that way he had of talking when he was uncertain of his footing. “It´s just that - you sound remarkably Puritanical.’ Something that was not a compliment when one wielded a wand and your cultural history was sprinkled liberally with burning pyres and drownings. He finally fell back on arguing his point with precedent. He knew he was treading a dangerous line, but his father had to understand. If he could change his father´s mind, then he wouldn´t have to question the other opinions he had taken as his own from the older man. Once one flaw was discovered, the rest of his beliefs would be under suspicion and if Draco wanted to succeed as the man his father wanted him to be he couldn´t have those doubts lingering and festering in the back of his skull. “The ancient Greeks not only condoned such relations, but expected it of their young men. And Spartans encouraged their warriors to take their comrades as lovers so they´d fight with more ferocity when defending one another.’

Lucius leaned forward, propping one elbow up on the table which made Narcissa frown at the lack of etiquette. He smiled, the expression as sharp and pointed as a blade. “And yet, both cultures you speak of and those particular foibles have been all but eradicated and they are now relegated to dusty books. It´s unusual and freakish. Not something noble or common as those people mistakenly believed.’

Draco shifted in his seat irritably, feeling his ire swell as Lucius´ oily smile widened. He spoke without thinking in reply, his anger taking away his Slytherin caution. “It´s not necessarily freakish. No, it´s not all that common, but it´s not unheard of.’ His mother murmured his name in warning, but Draco ignored her.

“Oh? Do tell. Perhaps one of your little friends has inclinations that lie that way? Loyalty is admirable in a Hufflepuff, Draco. Need I remind you it does not become a Slytherin? You needn´t defend your allies´ flaws to me when they aren´t even present.’ Lucius Malfoy, secure in his son´s ‘perfect´ bloodline, didn´t even consider that Draco was defending himself. Draco set out to disabuse him of the notion immediately, not even pausing to consider his words.

“Defend my allies?’ He exhaled briefly in pique. “Why would I? It´s yours truly who fancies boys, though it hardly matters.’ Draco shrugged one shoulder dismissively. He took a bite of meat and glanced up casually. He froze when he saw the look on his father´s face. Draco realized too late that he had blundered enormously, letting his mouth run on despite the fact he knew it always got him into trouble.

After seeing that look, so cold as to rival absolute zero he wasn´t altogether surprised by the ensuing argument, blows, and subsequent falling out that occurred. Draco had been given fifteen minutes to pack during which the house elves rushed about frantically using their own brand of magic to pack his new clothes and favorite personal possessions before shrinking them down, lightening them, and shoving them in his robe pockets. His Eurasian eagle owl, hooting it´s objections loudly, had been shoved in it´s cage and tossed to Draco´s waiting hands.

There were many lines Draco could cross without consequence as his father´s heir, but sullying the Malfoy blood with homosexuality was apparently not one of them. Narcissa had watched expressionlessly, her lips tightened into a thin white line with disapproval of the entire situation. Then Lucius had grabbed him by the ear in a painful grip when he finally came down the main stairs and twisted viciously before flooing them both to a store on Knockturn Alley and dragging him out into the street. A vendor selling what looked to be poisons watched with a sort of morbid curiosity as the scene unfolded right there in the middle of everything. Lucius left his son with a parting back-hand, the best (or worst; depending on your point of view) blow in his arsenal before he stepped back. His last words, probably meant to be some sort of consolation, were the most bitter to swallow of all.

“You could have been a great Malfoy, if you´d been even a bit of a man.’ And then he was gone in a wink of an eye, like all of Draco´s prospects and expectations. Draco gazed at where his father had apparated away in despair. It seemed fitting when it started to drizzle, turning the dark pavestones an oil slick black and a yellowy butter color under the various circles of lantern light from the shops. He stared blankly in shock at nothing in particular while the bruise on his cheekbone slowly became visible.

The Leaky Cauldron, like most of the wizarding establishments in Diagon Alley, was very old. It was small and cramped though some people would say cozy. Draco was not one of these people. In normal circumstances he wouldn´t be caught dead in the run-down building, but these obviously weren´t normal circumstances or worse yet they were from now on and that thought was so depressing he didn´t even protest when the bartender refused to serve him brandy. His sneer was only half hearted when he turned away and he knew his face was still paper white from shock. The man with the room keys was bald and toothless and had the common name of Tom. He was looking at Draco like he was the spawn of Satan (obviously recognizing the Malfoy silver of his hair and eyes for what is was), though he accepted Draco´s money eagerly enough. But then again, they always did.

Draco didn´t know what to do with himself, but he knew he didn´t want to sit around downstairs like a bump on a log with all the other patrons. Their raucous laughter grated on his sensitive nerves and the smell of the greasy food was making him nauseous. The steps upwards were narrow and dark, but he ignored his distaste as he made his way towards room number five. The room itself wasn´t all that bad, though it wasn´t much in comparison to his bedroom in Malfoy Manor. Draco couldn´t even summon up the energy to snap at a house-elf to draw him up a bath before he tumbled into bed. He spent the next few hours letting his mood dip between despair and fury as well as everything in between as he tried to work out this new, awful change in his life. Finally, he buried his face in the pillow and ignored the hot tear tracks on his cheeks until he mercifully tumbled into unconsciousness.

When he woke up, his formal dinner robes were crumpled so he emptied out his pockets and ordered a house elf to put his belongings back to their proper size. The elf, a malnourished little thing with a crooked nose, did his bidding and left before he changed into his older green robes. He sat for a while in the chair near the fireplace with his head in his hands wondering what was going to happen now. Being the Malfoy heir wasn´t just what he was - it was who he was. His whole life had been mapped out from the moment of his birth until he would have had children of his own to continue the cycle. Despite the fact he wasn´t attracted to women Pansy was intelligent and funny and if a Malfoy was allowed to have friends she would his best one. He wouldn´t have minded being married to her. Marriage was, as far as he was concerned, simply a partnership and he and Pansy had always worked well together. Now… well now he had his father´s disappointment, a measly 32 galleons, and a future unencumbered by tradition.

Slowly, it hit him. He had choices. He could make his own decisions, for good or for ill, and reap the consequences without his father peering over his shoulder constantly. His life was his own now, though the price he had paid to get it had been far too high. Even taking that into consideration, freedom was heady thing. He could even start a fucking flobberworm farm if he wanted to, not that he really did, but still. It was mind boggling. It was like he´d been stuck in a gilded cage all his life and suddenly he was free. He just didn´t know if that was a good thing. Draco knew that any animal caged for too long rarely survived in the wild. Draco didn´t even know if he had enough money to stay at the Leaky Cauldron all summer. And he´d have to buy his school supplies. Money had never been a concern before unless he counted whining to his father for a handful of galleons or an increase in his allowance as managing his finances, which he didn´t.

With this in mind, he ordered himself some breakfast and was disappointed when all the Leaky Cauldron could provide was some mediocre food. He would have complained about how it was poor fare when compared to what the Manor provided, but he had a hunch that once he got over how things were before he´d be better able to improve how things were now. So he choked down the runny eggs and slightly too crispy toast and exited his room. The halls were silent save for a few heavy footsteps from the floor above him. Draco made his way downstairs and paused to check for Death Eaters, mainly his father´s associates, before slipping out the door and into the street.

Most of the shops were still closed so early in the morning since it was barely six. Draco had fallen asleep so early yesterday that he hadn´t been able to sleep in like usual. And despite his usual practices, he could be a morning person when events required it. He relished the quietness of the almost empty streets as he headed towards Gringotts. The money that remained from his birthday and that month´s allowance jingled softly in his robe pockets as he approached the large, white marble building.

Despite the early hour, Gringotts was as busy as ever with bustling goblins. Draco´s steps were quiet, almost hesitant as he approached a teller. His mother, for reasons unknown at the time, had insisted that Draco start his own account when he was thirteen. Now, Draco suspected that Narcissa realized the extent of her son´s rebelliousness as well as his deviant sexual preferences and had considered it her duty to make sure Draco was able to provide for himself when the inevitable happened. After three years of maintaining his own account he no longer needed parental permission to withdraw or insert funds. Which was a damn good thing, considering how eagerly his father would refuse him any and all resources now that Lucius no longer had to provide for his wayward heir.

He captured the attention of a goblin and let it escort him to the tunnel entrances. Draco enjoyed the ride as usual, despite the events that had led him to being in the position to take it. It was his favorite thing to do as a child and had annoyed his father to no end. His mother, however, didn´t mind bringing him on trips so Draco had accompanied her to almost all her shopping expeditions. He knew a few goblins by name, but this one was new and rather sullen to boot so Draco ignored him in favor of trying to catch a glimpse of his namesake. He´d seen a dragon once while traveling in the cart when he was twelve and ever since had been on the lookout for another down in the vaults. It´s why he had actually enjoyed the Tri-Wizard Tournament despite Potter´s involvement, because he had gotten to see so many different breeds of dragons.

"Here you are sir.’ Draco nodded and watched as the little creature opened his vault for him. He peered inside and sighed with disappointment at the pathetic pile of coins. He counted them out and the amount came to about eleven galleons. The ten his mother had given him upon initially opening the account and the one he had added to over the years before forgetting it´s existence. He had completely forgotten about the vault until that morning, when he realized he really needed it or something like it. It was a truly sad amount, but it turned his 32 galleons into an almost respectable 43. Not that Draco was satisfied with that, not by a long shot.

He dumped all his money into the vault except for a paltry three galleons, wary of robbers and thieves. As a Slytherin he wasn´t so naïve as to think he could prance about Diagon Alley by himself with a pocketful of clinking coins without attracting the wrong sort of attention. No, as long as his money was safe he´d be free to roam with less caution, though he´d have to be careful of Mudbloods and angry Gryffindors. Without the Malfoy name to protect him he was a great deal more vulnerable. Draco considered a few get-rich schemes (from the plausible to the ridiculously fanciful) while he and his goblin companion rode back up to the surface.

Instead of returning to The Leaky Cauldron, Draco wandered about Diagon Alley checking out the newest merchandise. It made him irritable when he realized that many things he would have been able to purchase with out a second thought before were far beyond his finances now. He stopped at Florean Fortescue´s Ice Cream Parlor and ordered himself a triple raspberry chocolate fudge cone. From there he wandered to Flourish and Blotts to gaze at some of the newest releases. Not noting anything of interest he continued on towards the Quality Quidditch Supplies shop to stare longingly at the Firebolts and other brooms displayed in the front window.

A new model caught his eye, the Quicksilver. It was beautiful, made of high quality birch and polished to perfection. According to the advertisements the newest racing broom on the market made all the previous ones, including the Firebolt, practically obsolete. The list of features was a long one including a better cushioning charm for the seat, more maneuverability, new braking charms, and the ability to accelerate to impossibly high speeds in a handful of seconds. Apparently, it could turn on a dime and do dives at speeds previously unheard of. It was basically an upgraded version of a Firebolt, but unique enough to be another line entirely instead of the Firebolt Mark II or some such nonsense. Best of all, it was actually custom made for it´s rider and it even required several flying and fitting sessions with the local Quicksilver sales agent to properly order a broom and personalize it. Once made it would only respond to its owner and was set to buck off anyone else who tried to ride it. Depending on which Quidditch position you favored and how you flew, the performance of a Quicksilver could vary greatly from broom to broom. It was a marvel of broom technology and quite an improvement to his old Nimbus 2001.

He stood there for a moment, admiring the symmetry of it and the aerodynamic shape. The shining handle and perfect bristles. His dream broom. He had been hoping Lucius would get him a new one for Christmas, but obviously that was not to be. It galled him that Potter had a Firebolt and he only had a Nimbus 2001. Draco had wanted a new broom and as far as he could tell it would be a very long time until he could get one on his own. It made the upcoming Quidditch season look dreary. He still remembered being only an inch away from the snitch to have it snatched out of his hands because Potter´s broom was faster.

Draco sighed in regret and longing before moving on. He popped the remains of his cone into his mouth and licked away a few smears of chocolate. He meandered along, peering at the numerous owls and cauldrons before he spotted the Apothecary. A tiny sign was hung up in the corner of one window, displaying it´s message for all to see.

‘Help wanted for summer - some experience with potions required´

That was all it took to catch Draco´s attention before he was striding into Slug & Jiggers Apothecary with a bird-brained plan already forming in his mind. The place itself wasn´t too terrible, though it´s smell was a bit difficult to stomach. It was right next door to the Leaky Cauldron too, which reduced the chances of Draco running into his father during the summer on his way to work. He made his way through the winding shelves of potions ingredients and up to the front desk where an elderly man was peering over the rim of his glasses at what seemed to be accounts. The man´s hair was just a fringe of white around his shining, bald head and his eyes were bright and black and clever - much like a raven´s. “Mmmhmmm. Twenty seven, no twenty three. How´d that four get there?’ The old man murmured to himself, turning a page thoughtfully while Draco watched on.

“Um, Sir?’ He finally uttered. The man´s head jerked up quickly.

“Eh? What are you doing there young man? Need help with something?’ Draco stepped back a little under that sharp gaze. The man was intimidating, though not in a physical way. He just seemed to be so canny.

When he spoke his voice was barely audible. Draco, while not exactly a coward, didn´t have any Gryffindor bravery either. “It´s just that - you´ve an opening don´t you? A- a job that is and I´m in need of employment. I´ve got experience from Hogwarts you know and I´m even a bit of a teacher´s pet in Potions.’ He knew he sounded earnest and vulnerable and normally he would have hated it, but if it got him the job he so desperately needed… well what was the harm in not hiding his emotions under petty cruelty just this once? It was Slytherin enough to salve his pride at baring his insecurities to a stranger.

The man leant forward, his brow wrinkled in a thoughtful frown. “Hmm. You´ve got a name then lad or is it to be teacher´s pet? Me, I´m Arsenius Jigger and this is my Apothecary. What makes you think I want a boy still in school working for me? I´ve found your lot like to laze about and be generally irresponsible.’

Draco hadn´t been raised by Lucius Malfoy for sixteen years without being able to tell when someone was testing him. So he gathered up all his Slytherin ambition and answered as best he could. Which, he reflected, wasn´t very good at all. “Jigger you said? Are you the author of Magical Drafts and Potions? Professor Snape says it´s the most accurate book he´s ever read next to Most Potente Potions. And I really liked that chapter on Polyjuice.’ The flattery only made the man´s mouth twitch a bit, though Draco was encouraged by the fact it was twitching upwards and not down. The Apothecary raised his eyebrow in silent questioning and motioned for Draco to continue with one ink stained hand. “Oh, of course. I´m Draco Malfoy.’ The man´s look said it all. His name, for once, seemed to be more than a hindrance than a help. So Draco rushed on, letting the words fall from his lips. “And I won´t be lazy or irresponsible. I need this job. I have to pay for all my school supplies and my rent at the Leaky Cauldron. Father and I had a bit of a falling out and - well, I can´t very well live in the gutter can I? If you need references you could owl Snape. He´ll grumble a bit that you bothered him, but he won´t mind too much because I´m his favorite student. I´m the only one he´ll trust to help the more hopeless students like Longbottom.’

Mr. Jigger held up his hand to halt the nervous babbling. The fingers were stained with black ink and his robes were askew, but his eyes were kind. Two days ago he wouldn´t have given the old man the time of day, but now. Now he´d be actually working under him. Well, at least if things went his way. “Sounds fine, lad. No references required. Why don´t start refilling up the beetle eye jar? We´re running low. The bag´s in the back on top of that big box. No, the one to your left. There you go.’ And that was how Draco became the first Malfoy in over three centuries to have a job that wasn´t procured by nepotism.

Draco found that he enjoyed his job, but it wasn´t very surprising. His love of potions had started when Snape, who was friends with his parents, had gifted Draco with a miniature (and idiot proof) potions set when he was six. Draco, who loved anything capable of causing mayhem and destruction, had adored it and to his mother´s dismay had messed about with it, all the while managing to get soot and ingredients all over himself and any furniture unfortunate enough to be within a ten foot radius. The brand new cauldron he had received when he was ten had only encouraged him further. And the dramatic speech Snape had given his first year class on how to ‘bottle fame, brew glory and stopper death´ had cinched it. Draco was a sucker for good theater and Snape was a first class performer.

So, he found himself hiding small smiles while he puttered about the shop organizing the shelves and refilling the empty jars. The shop was usually quiet, but it did not lack for company. Mr. Jigger was, he had found, an intelligent man who was painstakingly fair and who let him take a good number of breaks but demanded that Draco not shirk his share of the work. His daughter Lydia, who had deep blue eyes and wheat blonde hair, dropped by the shop occasionally and had given Draco some biscuits she had baked herself. Stephen Slug, the son of the original Stanley Slug from the sign out front was a serious, handsome, dark haired youth who observed things quietly and spoke little. Apparently his father traveled around gathering supplies for the shop, especially the rarer ingredients, and returned every three months for a week or so to spend time with his son and order his affairs before going off to gallivant about the world again. Steven and Lydia were engaged to be married and occasionally Draco caught snippets of conversation, such as “No, no the invitations should be in gold ink. Silver? Silver went out in the nineteenth century. Now, the guest list on the other hand…’ whenever Lydia dropped by, which was often.

Draco´s main tasks were simple, but time consuming. He was to keep the store tidy by sweeping every morning and evening as well as cleaning up any accidental spills. He was also required to stock the shelves which, he found out, involved a lot of heavy lifting since he wasn´t allowed to use magic during the summer and a lot of the ingredients were far too sensitive and temperamental when it came to stray magic anyway. In fact, Draco had taken to organizing the shelves alphabetically and was still on the D´s. The Dodo brains (usually used in Dolt Droughts) were stored in small jars, but the containers had gotten hopelessly mixed up with the jars of Dusty Moth wings. Occasionally, when the shop was busy and Stephen and Mr. Jigger were attending customers, Draco got to stand behind the counter and work the cash register which was an old fashioned cranky thing that made a half hearted, wheezing ‘ding´ whenever the drawer was shut. When it opened in the first place that is. Only Stephen could work it without error - even Mr. Jigger couldn´t figure out how to open the drawer when it was at its most stubborn. And it had tried to slam Draco´s hand in the drawer on two separate occasions, possibly because he had called it a ‘heap of moldering junk´.

So a week passed without incident while Draco settled into his new schedule easily. His pay wasn´t exorbitant, but it was a tidy sum that added up daily. Draco felt like the dragon he was named for after he had received his first little bag of coins at the end of the week when he sat up in his bed counting them all one by one with a sort of miserly satisfaction that his great-great-two-hundred-something-greats-great Grandfather had probably felt upon first acquiring the Malfoy fortune. Draco had earned every single solitary one of those coins with his own two hands. For some reason, it felt surprisingly nice - doing something by himself without his father´s influence to overshadow his own accomplishments. Then he had promptly dropped it all off at Gringotts the next morning and had spent the next two minutes viewing his little growing pile of coins with fatherly pride. The goblin, who looked like he desperately needed a comb, had rolled his beady little eyes and shut the vault door firmly far before Draco was finished smugly congratulating himself.

This became a habit and after three weeks the pile was considerably larger than it had been when he´d started. After Draco spent the required amount of time viewing his vault, he had stopped to do a little drooling over the Quicksilver display and sulking about the fact he couldn´t afford one. That had taken up a good deal of his time and then he had been forced to jog over towards the Apothecary to prevent any tardiness. “Well, if it isn´t the best dressed stock boy on Diagon Alley. Nice morning, Draco?’ Lydia greeted him with a bright smile while Stephen´s lips just twitched a little in amusement.

Startled, Draco glanced down to see that he was wearing a pair of charcoal gray trousers that were tailored so they fit nicely, but were not too tight, a nice formal white collared shirt, along with a light gray vest of satin embroidered with darker gray thread, a red silk tie, the matching opal tie tack and cufflinks, and a heavy, gray, almost opalescent over robe that shimmered in the morning sun that poured in warmly from the front windows. Even the cloak pin situated near his shoulder was an elaborate affair - a dragon wrought in silver with winking eyes of diamond and a tail that moved occasionally. “Oh, yes it was quite a pleasant morning. Do I need to change?’ He asked out of concern for his clothes. He hadn´t realized he´d dressed so nicely until Lydia had pointed it out. The formal outfit felt like a second skin to the disowned Malfoy heir.

Lydia smiled gently. “It´s fine, but I suggest you stay behind the counter today. Don´t want to get dust on such a nice outfit. How´s the organizing project so far?’ She asked with genuine interest. He could tell Stephen was listening too because the dark haired man was still polishing the same spot on the counter. Usually he was much more efficient.

“I´ve gotten all the way to the S´s. I´m still working on the Snidget feathers, Sphinx fur, and Squid Ink. What about you? Have you chosen what kind of flowers you want for the wedding yet?’ Draco set about checking the cash register and glancing at the order forms that were scattered across the counter.

Lydia, obviously happy to find a welcome ear, sat herself down on a stool and began regaling Draco with the details of arranging her wedding. Stephen looked like he´d heard the same speech a million times and quickly escaped to the back of the shop with a heartfelt sigh of relief. “…and then there´s the meal! I know I want six courses, but I can´t for the life of me figure out what have for the soup course. Stephen´s allergic to clams and father can´t stand anything with onions and chicken soup is simply so…’

“Plebian?’ Draco interjected with a smirk.

Lydia nodded her agreement. “Exactly. It´s too bad Mother can´t stand this sort of thing or she could help me. Mrs. Slug´s offered her opinions on the matter - but then again she always does. The woman has a thought on every subject ever spoken and she´s always willing to share it.’ Draco heard a strangled cough that sounded like someone trying uselessly to stifle laughter drifting from the back of the shop.

“Well,’ he said slowly, “My mother, Narcissa, served Lobster Bisque for a few of her formal meals. How about that?’ Lydia beamed at him, clapping her hands together with delight.

“Oh how perfect. Stephen, what do you think?’

A shuffling sound reached Draco´s ears and then the dark haired man popped his head out from behind a shelf. “Whatever you like dear. No clams, right?’

“Right. But, I was thinking for our main course pheasant would be -’ Her words were interrupted when a dark figure swept into the shop in a billow of robes. Draco, recognizing the dramatic entrance for what it was, sat up and took attention.

“Professor, how can I help you?’ Draco drawled out the question as he assumed the arrogance that he had discarded the past week out of necessity. He ignored Stephen´s look of perplexity in favor of smirking at his Head of House. The fact he was doing an honest day´s work was enough to give Snape a heart attack - he didn´t want to finish the old boy off by being humble to boot. And well, he had a lot of respect for the Potions Master; he didn´t want to appear weak or ineffectual in front of his role model.

Snape´s head swiveled around and he stared, obviously shocked. When he spoke, it was with his usual severity. “Draco… whatever are you doing in this dingy Apothecary? Does your father realize where you are?’

“I expect my father,’ He practically snarled the last word, “has no interest in my whereabouts. I´ve been disowned, disinherited, thrown out - Whichever choice of wording you care for. I´m surprised you haven´t heard about it by now. This must come as quite a shock to you.’

Snape´s expression turned almost sympathetic before the former Death Eater composed his face into cool neutrality once more. “That is a pity. Your father´s loss then. Where are you staying?’

“The Leaky Cauldron, why?’ Draco asked suspiciously.

“Get your things, you´re coming with me. The Headmaster will want to have you settled in at Hogwarts.’

“What?’ Draco squawked, stunned. “Don´t be ridiculous. I´m not going anywhere.’

Severus Snape folded his hands into the sleeves of his robes and treated his favorite student to that superior look he was so good at. “I beg to differ Mr. Malfoy.’

“You don´t understand.’ He said with a more than a bit of frustration coloring his tones. “I need to pay for my school supplies.’

The Potions Master nodded. “That is understandable, but the Headmaster and I will deal with it.’

Draco was incensed. He knew he was turning an embarrassing shade of pink, but his coloring was of little concern in the face of Snape´s words. “You think I´d take your charity?!’ He shouted in indignation, careless of the two other people in the shop staring at him. “You´ve obviously been inhaling too many cauldron fumes. I may not be the Malfoy heir, but I´m still a Malfoy and I´d rather sleep in the streets than accept any handouts from you or that daft old coot.’ Snape raised one eyebrow, used to his favorite student´s dramatics. It was a source of common ground between them.

“Obviously your pride is intact, even if your bank account is not.’ He sounded resigned. Snape loved to interfere in other´s peoples business, but he knew a lost cause when he saw it. Draco may have been prone to being overdramatic, but the intent behind his words were heartfelt. If Snape stunned him and dragged him back to Hogwarts by force Draco would only run away and possibly end up getting himself hurt in the bargain. They both knew it and Snape simply had to accept it. “Very well then, but I´m afraid you´ll be seeing quite a lot of me. I´ll check up on you every Monday and don´t even try to argue this point. You´re just lucky I didn´t drag you off to Hogwarts, you ungrateful little brat. Now then, I don´t suppose you have an Ogre tooth on hand?’

And that, as they say, was that.

Nothing monumental occurred that week, at least not until Friday when Draco was walking towards the shop from the Leaky Cauldron. He had organized the shelves and was almost done - at present he was dealing with bits of unicorn and trying to remember if the location of a hair made a difference. He had hair from the underbelly and hair from the tail and hair from the mane. It was all very confusing.

So absorbed was he in thinking about the minutiae of his upcoming task that he was completely unprepared for the man who stepped in front of him smoothly. “Draco.’ Said the ice cold voice and even though it was familiar that didn´t stop the chill from running down his spine.

“Father?’ He stepped back warily, and glanced about to make sure there were witnesses present. He felt relief when he saw old Ms. Bottletup, a nosy busybody who ran the shop across the street, peering out the window at them over the glasses perched on the end of her nose. At least that ruled out any Unforgivables or other fatal spells and Draco was pretty sure he could heal from anything else.

Lucius didn´t notice or didn´t care about their audience and immediately grabbed Draco´s ear, twisting it. Draco couldn´t stop the yelp from escaping, but managed to keep the wince off his face. Well, after the initial one, because that had hurt. Lucius reeled him in until his low voice was right in Draco´s ears. Fear bubbled up inside Draco. He knew his father was a dangerous man, but he had never felt that Lucius was a danger to him. Now that he wasn´t the heir, it was obvious Lucius felt no need for restraint. And that was what scared Draco, because he had an inkling of what the Death Eater was really capable of. “Pay attention to me boy. I´ve managed to take you out of my will, but disgusting habits or not you still have the Malfoy blood. Your mother is with child at the moment and I´ll not have you trying to usurp my next heir. Sign these. It relinquishes all your rights to the Manor and the Malfoy fortune and in turn relinquishes my guardianship of you; when you sign you´ll be a legal adult in the eyes of the Ministry.’ He let go of Draco with a bit more force than necessary, which caused him to stumble, and retrieved a scroll and self inking quill from the pocket of his robes.

Draco took them gingerly, looking at the tiny, curled letters that were almost indecipherable in their complex format. It was all in the wordy, circular language of lawyers and bankers which meant Draco could sign away his soul and not even realize it until they came to collect. He wasn´t the brightest Slytherin around, but he wasn´t quite that stupid. “I think I´d prefer to have a goblin look over these for me first. I´ll owl it to you when I´m done.’ Lucius´s eyes narrowed dangerously and though he knew the warning sign Draco didn´t even get the chance to avoid the punch to his gut. He staggered and doubled over in pain, but managed to remain upright. A real accomplishment in his opinion. When he straightened Lucius awarded him with another blow, this time to the face. “Ow!!’ The whole lower right half of Draco´s face throbbed in pain and it took him a moment to focus on his father´s voice.

“Listen, you little brat. You don´t want to take up my valuable time. Just sign the damn papers.’

“I´d rather not.’ He said bravely, through his swollen lip. A backhand that appeared casual, but had all Lucius´ weight behind it sent Draco to his knees. The tears of pain came automatically to his eyes and he widened them and stared up ruthlessly, knowing that if he blinked they´d fall. And that was simply unacceptable. He would not cry in front of Lucius. Not even if it killed him.

The older man was smirking, and though he seemed a bit annoyed obviously the violence was doing wonders for his mood. “Don´t be difficult Draco. I don´t want to have to admonish you any more. You´re drawing attention to us.’ Any more ‘admonishment´ and Draco would be out like a light. He was never one to take his blows manfully. And they were indeed attracting attention, but Draco ignored the gawking bystanders so he could anticipate the next assault.

“I said I´d owl it to you and I meant it! I´m not signing anything before I have an expert go over you. You taught me at least that much.’ Lucius curled his lip in disgust and kicked his son a few times in the gut and then the side before growing bored. Draco could only curl up and try and use his limbs to protect his head. Why wasn´t anyone doing anything? Was it just because he was a Slytherin, a Malfoy, or a mere boy with no connections? A tiny little voice in the back of Draco´s mind piped up and it filled him with dismay. Was it because he just wasn´t worth the effort?

“Fine. But if it´s not back by Sunday I´ll be coming to get it. And I´ll take it out of your hide, boy.’ There was a promise inherent in the statement that made Draco´s blood run cold. Lucius sneered and then spit at his son, hitting Draco´s chin. The young man hurt all over, but it was nothing next to the humiliation he felt at being left bleeding in the street while strangers looked on and his father spit on him. Grimacing in disgust, he wiped it away. The man he had looked up to for so long humiliating him so thoroughly in public was enough to make real tears well up in his eyes, but he managed to blink those back too.

Draco sat up with difficulty and watched his father walk away, his face twisted by bitterness and pain. “Bastard,’ came the low broken, keening cry and Draco summoned up enough anger to add some real invective into the word. “Bastard,’ He spat, his voice still rough with suppressed emotion.

He took a minute to gather himself, raking elegant fingers through his hair in an attempt to calm down. Finally he stood with a bit of difficulty, taking all his feelings and pressing them into tiny ball and shoving it down where it couldn´t show. He might have been disowned in disgrace, but he was a Malfoy and he would show no more weakness in front of these gossip mongers. The Slytherin smoothed his face of all emotion and lifted his head, purposely tilting his chin to an angle that said things like ‘alpha´ and ‘arrogant´, and ‘king of all he surveys´ even though what he felt was as far as one could get from it. Squaring his shoulders, Draco took a deep breath and turned back to the Leaky Cauldron so he could change into clothes unmarred by the dust of the street and his father´s boot prints.

He faltered for only a second or two when he saw Harry Potter standing on the doorstep with Arthur Weasley standing behind him with one hand on the boy´s shoulder and a grim look on his face. Molly Weasley stood nearby with her hand pressed against her mouth in shock, sympathy written all over her kind, homely face. The two Weasley twins were standing off to the side a few feet away, shocked into silence for once. They had obviously seen everything. Draco was careful that his gaze came nowhere near Potter, though he got a glimpse of serious dark green eyes and an uncompromising set of the jaw before his own eyes slid away. He was careful not to look too closely because he wasn´t sure he could handle seeing that reaction. Not only had he been humiliated, but the last person he wanted to be there had witnessed it all.

Draco managed to produce a weak sneer before entering the building, walking so close to the still silent trio he could smell Molly Weasley´s perfume. It was floral and sweet and it made Draco want to gag. He managed to make it out of sight before breaking into a run, his boots pounding on the stairs. Draco knew they could hear his frantic footsteps, but couldn´t muster the strength to care. From below, he heard Ron Weasley´s jolly voice echo up to him. “What´s with all the gloomy faces? Someone die?’

He couldn´t hold back the choked laughter and his muttered, but heartfelt, “I wish.’

When he walked in the shop an hour later Lydia was poring over a magazine full of wedding robes, her elbows propped up on the desk as her betrothed worked the cash register next to her. The customer, a little old lady in bright periwinkle robes, blinked when she saw Draco´s battered face, but went on her way without comment.

“Sorry I´m late,’ Draco apologized as sincerely as he knew how (which wasn´t very) once the woman was gone. “It won´t happen again, I promise.’ Stephen looked up with a small frown, but it was wiped away almost immediately with wide eyed surprise.

“What happened to you? You look like you got into a fight with a Hippogriff. And lost.’

Draco couldn´t help the smirk. He knew it didn´t look half so impressive with a swollen lip, but it was one of his favorite expressions nonetheless. “Been there, done that.’ And had the scar to prove it. “No, I ran into my father.’ He shrugged. “No big deal. I suppose I´ll start on the shelves?’

Lydia was looking at him with angry astonishment. “What do you mean no big deal? You´re black and blue! Your own father did this to you?’ She was as angry as a mother manticore protecting her young and having so much genuine concern directed towards him was so unusual it made him uneasy.

Draco could feel his shoulders tense and he knew his voice was biting when he spoke, but couldn´t prevent it. The defensiveness was automatic. “Yes. Leave it. It´s none of your business.’

Lydia looked hurt, but she held her tongue and went off into the back where she presumably wouldn´t have to see Draco´s sorry state. Stephen only watched him quietly for a moment before turning his attention to polishing the counter with practiced swipes.

Draco felt bad, like the time he was five and had hugged his mother and gotten her favorite and most expensive dress robes wrinkled right before a dinner party, but this time he couldn´t win his way out of trouble by reciting several poems and generally acting like a performing monkey (if a very polite and cultured one) for his mother instead of his usual bratty petulant behavior when company arrived. He knew simple apologies never sufficed and he wouldn´t know how to give one even if they did, but he had no other way to fix things. So instead he went to question Mr. Jigger about the unicorn hairs and hoped that eventually he´d be able to understand normal people.

The goblin was looking over Lucius´ bundle of papers with something approaching approval. Apparently the documents were worded perfectly with no room for loopholes, but Draco was not surprised. Lucius was shrewd business man. Draco just wanted to make sure his father wasn´t trying to be shrewd at his son´s expense.

“Everything looks to be in order Mr. Malfoy. You´ll simply be officially signing away your rights to the land and money, which, as he´s already disinherited you, isn´t much of a loss. But you know how messy these things can get without additional insurance. For instance, if the next child was female it could complicate matters dreadfully.’

“Yes, yes. I know all that.’ He said impatiently. “So, I´m covered?’

The goblin adjusted the tiny spectacles that were perched on the end of it´s nose imperiously and looked at Draco with an expression that eerily reminded the Slytherin of the Weasel´s older brother who had been a Head boy before graduating from Hogwarts. “Absolutely. If that is all? I´m a very busy goblin.’ Apparently, pompousness was a trait not relegated solely to wizards. Draco let his mouth twist sourly.

“I´m sure you are. And as for your fee?’

The goblin smiled, it´s sharp little teeth gleaming in the light. “Three galleons.’

“What?! Three whole galleons for you to stare at that chicken scratch for two whole hours and then tell me it´s all ‘in order´? That´s ridiculous!’

“Nevertheless, that is the fee and if you want your papers back you´ll pay it. Perhaps in the future you might want to ask for the price before you buy someone´s wares or services.’ Draco snarled and stood up, chucking the coins onto the desk before snatching up the forms.

“Right. Well, a lesson well learned then, isn´t it?’ He´d have to work his fingers to the bone to get those coins back and it wasn´t a very pleasant prospect. “Though I won´t be brining my business back to you, you overgrown garden gnome. And your breath smells horrid too!’ Petty, but very true.

The goblin let it´s mouth fall open in indignation and huffed to itself angrily. Draco left before it could start a tirade and stormed out of the bank in a billow of robes that would have done Snape proud. His footsteps echoed on the polished marble in a way that was very satisfying. “Stupid goblins with their greedy little fingers! Three whole galleons! It´s robbery!’ He muttered to himself. So busy was he that it took him completely by surprise when he ran his shoulder into another wizard. “Watch it!’ He snapped and kept on walking, unaware of the fact that he had almost trampled The Boy Who Lived. Not that it would have meant much to him if he had noticed.

Harry Potter stood in the middle of Gringotts, gawking as Draco Malfoy stormed away muttering about cheating, low down dirty goblins and how was he ever going to earn back that money? He didn´t know what was more disturbing; the fact he found Draco´s little ranting temper tantrum and arm waving almost cute or that Malfoy was actually worrying about the loss of a mere three galleons.

Draco´s eagle owl was a nasty tempered thing with a curved, wickedly sharp beak and the wherewithal to use it. It was actually an Eurasian Eagle Owl and, in Draco´s opinion, was one of the more attractive breeds. His name was Grindylow because he was such an ill tempered beast and he enjoyed taking bites out of unwary house elves and stupid children much to his owner´s amusement. Despite this, the owl was always pleasant to Draco. But that might have been because Draco spoiled it horribly.

“Here you go boy. Nice, fresh, and juicy.’ The field mouse squeaked pitifully, but Draco hadn´t spent that sickle for nothing. Grindylow tore into it hungrily and Draco let him. It would help the owl keep it´s strength up for the upcoming journey. He had signed the papers despite his misgivings, but he really didn´t want Lucius to come and find him when his time was up. Draco´s elegant scrawl adorned the parchment, signing away any chance he ever had at his rightful fortune.

Rightful, that is, in that he´d been raised as the Malfoy heir and if having Lucius and Narcissa for parents didn´t entitle him to a fortune nothing did. He bundled up the papers with a sigh and tied them onto Grindylow´s leg before exiting the Leaky Cauldron with his proud owl perched on his arm. He let the bird take off from his forearm and watched as it winged away silently, quickly swallowed up in the shadows of the night. Draco gazed on as the owl dwindled into a tiny dot before turning back to the warmth and light of the building while all his ties to his former life disappeared into the horizon.

Draco was busy that day; organizing the ingredients when he could and sweeping the floor a few times after careless customers had tracked in dirt. He had been putting away a few vulture beaks and warthog ears when two customers caught his attention. They were arguing quietly amongst themselves which wasn´t exactly unusual. Of course, their brilliant red hair was enough to separate them from other run of the mill customers. Draco gathered his control and walked over, smiling politely.

“Is there anything I can do to help you gentlemen?’ One of the twins jumped, swiveling to look at him. He stared and poked his twin. The other turned around and they simply looked at Draco in a dumbfounded manner. “Do you need something?’ Draco asked again, slightly annoyed at the way they turned to exchange looks of identical amazement.

“Well, what do you know.’

“It´s Malfoy and he´s-’

“-actually working.’

In their usually puzzling fashion they managed to finish the other´s sentences. The Weasley twins were, at least, the best of the lot which admittedly wasn´t saying much. They were supposedly honorary Slytherins according to Pansy who had never yet been wrong about such things. It wasn´t actually that far fetched when one considered the sheer amount of cunning pranks they had pulled on the staff and student body of Hogwarts.

“I do work here.’ Draco acknowledged. “And it´s my job to help the customers. You two look as if you´re having trouble?’ It was phrased as a statement, but the questioning tone left no doubt of the fact he was offering them assistance.

“Well, we were wondering-’

“-If you have anything cheaper than wolfsbane.’

“It´s for a temporary shrinking solution.’

Draco mulled it over, pacing the shelves with the twins trailing behind him. “I´m guessing that the wolfsbane is to get the temporary effect, correct?’ They nodded and Draco wound his way towards another aisle, sifting through the jars. “Here we are. Mandrake leaves. You´ll want to soak them in vinegar for two hours first, mind you. That should work nicely; it´s both cheaper and safer.’

“Really? Where´d you-’

“Manage to come up with that?

“And how do we know that we can trust you?’

“As to the first,’ Draco answered calmly, forcibly keeping his sneer in check. “It´s because I´m brilliant at Potions. As to the second, I value my job far more than few minutes worth of laughter at your expense. If you´re not happy with the mandrake leaves tell Mr. Jigger and he´ll give you a refund. Satisfied?’ Of course, it would come out of his paycheck, but the mandrake leaves would be fine for what the twins intended so Draco wasn´t worried.


“Yeah, thanks Malfoy.’

“You´re not half bad.’

Which was probably the highest praise he´d ever receive from a Weasley. He rang up their purchases and watched them leave with a smirk. All in all, not a bad day´s work.

The summer lumbered on, each day blurring into the next. Draco´s shelves became organized bit by bit and before he knew it he was tucking away the powder of Zebra hoof at the very back corner of the shop. With that most daunting task finished, he only had to keep the shop neat and help the customers when Stephen Slug or Arsenius Jigger were otherwise occupied. On Thursdays he had to help stock the shelves with ingredients which sometimes required heavy lifting and on Mondays Snape dropped by to check up on him and insult him in a way that was almost fond. Other than that the days were filled with relaxing uniformity. Things had slowed down considerably, but when Stephen´s father Stanley dropped that by that Tuesday they stopped all together.

Stanley Slug was a tall, broad shouldered man with a small paunch and a well trimmed beard. His coloring was dark, but not quite as dark or sallow as Snape´s. He was all brown from his weathered, tanned skin to his hair and eyes and he had a jovial smile for everyone. Draco was summarily given the day off while the family went to catch up. Draco frowned sullenly, but did as he was told all the same. He felt left out and alone. Still, he knew when he wasn´t wanted and he exited the shop after just a bit of loitering, because the warm atmosphere was so nice and he couldn´t quite help it. Eventually he dragged himself out of the shop and stopped by the Leaky Cauldron to grab a handful of change.

He needed to cheer up and some ice cream was just the thing to do it. Smiling to himself at the thought of a well deserved treat, he shucked his over robe and peered at his clothing for a moment. Ever since Lydia had pointed it out, he was more conscious of how he tended to wear formal clothes. Draco, deciding that his outfit was appropriate for work, but not play, changed. And considering the weather, he finally settled on a pair of black slacks and a white dress shirt, but rolled the sleeves up to his elbows and kept it un-tucked and the top two buttons undone. The white shirt was made of a very fine, thin fabric and it clung to his shoulders and upper arms. Not that Draco minded, because that heavy lifting had at least helped out his formerly scrawny physique. Draco didn´t believe he´d ever be brawny, but he could settle for lithely muscular.

Feeling a bit better, Draco made his way towards Florean Fortescue´s Ice Cream Parlor where a few witches were tittering to themselves at a nearby table. A few people had decided to get ice cream, which wasn´t surprising considering what a clear, sunny day it happened to be. A dwarf stomped by, licking at a cone of something with nuts that kept falling off and getting stuck into his beard. Draco smirked at the little man and sauntered towards the counter. “I´d like whatever he´s having.’ He drawled and tipped his head to the old wizard who had just ordered before him. Whatever it was it had about five different colors and it looked delicious.

“Right, then. Here you go.’ A bit terse, but at least he got a smile this time. Draco nodded his thanks to Florean, paid for his treat, and found a small table to perch at and lounged back to watch the witches and wizards go by. Ordinarily he´d be cooped up in the shop and it was nice to be out and about for once. There were a lot of people to watch and Draco took in the variety with a small, satisfied smile. It would help him pass the time.

Several minutes passed by while the Slytherin savored his treat in watchful silence. Draco grimaced as a witch in olive green robes with bright pink lining strode by. “Color blind?’ He absently guessed out loud and was startled when someone snorted in laughter. He turned and blinked in surprise at Potter. He considered insulting the boy as usual for a moment, before deciding against it and turning his face back to the crowd. Potter had seen him at his weakest and it really didn´t encourage anything other than uneasiness and self-loathing so Draco kept to himself.

A few minutes later Florean Fortescue himself exited the shop and approached the Boy Who Lived with a bright smile that made the one Draco had received earlier positively surly. “Here you go Harry, free of charge. With extra fudge, just the way you like it.’ The beaming and brown nosing made Draco feel nauseous and he pointedly turned his back on the two, concentrating fiercely on his ice cream while they conversed. He hated Potter, not because of Potter himself though the Gryffindor could be horribly irritating, but because of how he was treated. Draco, as a Malfoy, had always been whispered about in dark tones. “He´ll end up just like that father of his.’ “He´ll come to no good, I can tell you that.’ And, “He´ll be a Dark Wizard no doubt, and a Death Eater to boot.’ He´d heard them all.

But as a child he had also heard the reverent, awe filled voices praising the mysterious Harry Potter. “He was the boy who lived…’ Even before the words became a title that lost meaning through over use. He could still remember at the age of five, the proud voices of two witches discussing him. “He saved us all, that little blessed boy.’ And all Draco got was angry glances and wary looks, though they were eager enough to suck up to his father. Potter was practically worshipped and he had the things Draco most desperately wanted. Attention, influence, respect, power and love and he never did anything more than lie there as an infant while his mother sacrificed her life to get them.

Draco was working himself up into one of his dour moods, but it was all blown away by the familiar face in the crowd. “Pansy?’ The girl turned her attention away from the piles of shopping bags in her hands and squealed in delight at the sound of his familiar voice. Pansy swiftly made her way towards the outdoor tables of the Ice Cream Parlor and brightened visibly when she finally saw his pale figure.

“Draco! Whatever are you doing here? Oh, love the shirt! Give us a hug.’ Draco rolled his eyes and put on a grimace for show while his friend embraced him in a whirlwind of expensive robes and perfume. “Watch the ice cream or I´ll smack you silly.’ Draco, taking the warning for what it was, (A serious threat) immediately moved the sweet out of the range of her new robes.

“So, out shopping are you? Go on and show it all off, I know you´re dying to.’ He suffered through fifteen minutes of her nattering on about her clothes and the newest styles while she waved about clothes of various colors and textures excitedly. He nodded and let his eyes wander while she chattered at him brightly. He managed to eat a good deal of his ice cream while she blathered on.

She finally wound down and sighed, sitting back with a smile. “Why haven´t you owled me? Letters are meant to be responded to you know. It´s been a week and even you aren´t usually that lax in writing back.’

Draco winced. This was the exact conversation he really didn´t want to have, but there was no use in avoiding it. Pansy would bludgeon him to death with her shopping bags if he didn´t tell her and she did deserve to know about it all. “Well, about that. It´s probably because I´m not living at the Manor anymore. Father threw me out on my tail.’

Pansy sat up in shock. “Oh, Merlin. What happened?!’ She looked so concerned for him, it made his face warm as well as a tiny bit of his heart.

He sat back, licking at his ice cream so he´d have a minute to think through his words. “Well,’ He said slowly. “He found out about my… preferences.’ There, enough to tell her why he´d been disinherited, but discreet enough that no one else eavesdropping would understand. Potter was looking entirely too interested in his summer homework, which meant he was obviously listening in despite his Gryffindor morals. Potter could mouth platitudes all he wanted, but when it really came down to it he broke the rules as well as basic etiquette just as often as Draco himself. Draco had a sneaking suspicion Potter would have made a damn good Slytherin, but kept it to himself lest he be lynched by Snape or his House mates. At any rate, Pansy was smart enough to read between the lines.

Pansy had known he was as bent as a nine bob note for as long as he could remember. She had probably known about it before he did. The first time she saw him at the age of seven he´d refused to play in the mud with Goyle because he hadn´t wanted to get his new robes dirty and instead had spent time clambering up into the laps of various nannies. Draco had never joined in on the various games of tag and chase, though he had occasionally lowered himself to tripping other boys while his counterparts preferred to pull pigtails. Draco suspected she might even have realized it then as she had been a very worldly seven year old due to the fact her thirteen year old sister Daisy often spoke to her like an equal. Unlike Draco´s bigoted father however, she wasn´t bothered by it at all. In fact, it had pleased her because she was head over heels for Snape, but the Potion´s Master wasn´t a proper match at all. Teaching was almost as bad as being a servant in the eyes of the elite, no matter how old the Snape family was. Of course, Snape had no clue that Pansy wanted to bag him, but Draco had no doubt she eventually would. When it came to men the Parkinson women were not to be denied.

At any rate, before he´d been disowned Draco had needed a wife who understood the fact he could never be attracted to her and Pansy needed a husband who would let her take a lover and not resent it deeply. It had been a perfect match, but now it would never work because once Draco was disinherited he was a worse match than Snape himself which sort of defeated the whole purpose. And the likelihood of her finding some other boy who´d let her screw around with the greasy former Death Eater was next to nothing. Draco personally didn´t see the appeal, but it took all types and Pansy put up with so much from him he really felt it better to keep his opinion to himself. Plus, she punched like a boy.

“Oh no. No. What happened? Did he hurt you?’ Draco could accept worry from Pansy much better than he had from Lydia, because it was Pansy and she always worried. About everything at all times. Anyone else and he´d probably snap their heads off. It felt nice though, to be the recipient of it even if it was a common occurrence.

Draco shrugged, not showing how much it touched him that she´d let herself get emotional in public over him. He knew, from his mother, how big a faux pas that was when it came to women of Pansy´s standing. Not that Pansy had ever really followed that particular rule. “Just smacked me around a bit more than usual, not that he does it that much to begin with. Just enough to give me ‘character´.’ He rolled his eyes to demonstrate his beliefs on that particular bit of hogwash most of the older pureblood families believed was the cornerstone of raising a child. “And before you start hyperventilating, I´m not living on the street. I´m staying at the Leaky Cauldron and working at the apothecary to pay for it all. I´ve got a bit saved up from my allowance and birthday money anyway. It´s not much, but I´ll survive.’

“Oh Draco, how awful.’ She cried, as if living in the street was actually preferable in her opinion. “The Leaky Cauldron?! Even the Weasleys have stayed there. You poor thing.’ Finally, she realized what Draco´s disinheritance meant for her and her plans to seduce Snape. “Oh, Morgana. What´s mother going to say when she hears about this? What am I going to do? I can´t marry someone else, they´d never understand!’ Pansy was wringing her hands, shopping bags forgotten.

“Hey, calm down. I´ve been thinking it over, and Boot will make a likely match. He´s a pureblood, fairly wealthy, can trace his lineage back farther than a dozen generations and he fancies his half-sister Silvia, which means even if he won´t like you taking a lover blackmail is always an option.’ He patted Pansy awkwardly on the back when she broke into tears of relief and tried to pretend he didn´t know her, gazing at the other customers so he couldn´t see her blotchy face.

Potter was staring at him in horrified fascination, obviously having overheard everything. Draco stared at him challengingly until the dark haired boy looked away with pink cheeks. Draco went over the previous conversation in his mind, smirking when he realized Potter would think he had told Pansy about Terry Boot so he could be her secret, disreputable lover. A notion so farfetched he almost laughed out loud.

Pansy looked up finally, gathering her composure. She settled one hand on his forearm, smiling gratefully. “Oh, but you´re so sweet sometimes.’ Draco scowled ferociously, insulted to his core.

“Sweet? Sweet?! I resent that! And if you tell anyone I´m sweet I´ll start telling everyone you think Snape´s the sexiest thing since Lockheart.’ Pansy gasped in outrage.

“You, you wouldn´t dare!’

Draco smirked and yanked on one of her perfectly styled curls, ducking the punch she threw at him. “Oh, wouldn´t I? Just try me. No one spreads it around that I´m sweet and walks away unscathed.’

She pursed her lips, looking like she was trying not to smile. “Well, then. I take it back. You´re a mean, nasty, evil, black hearted villain that has never comforted me when I was crying, tutored Crabbe and Goyle so they´d pass Potions, or had a stuffed owl named Hooty.’ Draco blushed, mortified beyond belief and glanced at Potter who was struggling not to snicker. He had only been play fighting with her, but she unknowingly had crossed a line.

Did she not realize they had an audience?! Potter could use that information to taunt him for the rest of his life! He let his voice become icy, the anger he felt poorly hidden beneath the coldness. “I comforted you because I didn´t want you sniveling in public in my company, and as for Crabbe and Goyle it wouldn´t do to have the two dunces fail, would it? And I was six when I had that stuffed owl, so keep your bloody sentimentality to yourself.’

Pansy raised one eyebrow and her voice was painstakingly neutral when she finally spoke. “Are you quite finished pretending that you are your father?’ Draco glanced away, a bit ashamed of himself and then angry at the shame, though the anger was directed at himself. Because that´s what he had done and though Pansy could be shallow at times she didn´t deserve to be treated as if she were worthless or stupid. He had discovered that his worst words, the moments at which he crossed the line from pettiness to true malicious cruelty, were usually when he did what he thought his father would do in the same situation. It had caused him to run off at the mouth to Potter and his friends after Diggory´s death and the last time he had done it he made Hannah Abbot lock herself away in the Hufflepuff dorms for three days straight.

“Yes. I´m quite finished.’

“Good, I saw a shirt you would look wonderful in. Not that the shirt you´re wearing now isn´t lovely, but another couldn´t hurt.’ An obvious peace offering and a silent acceptance of the apology he didn´t know how to offer.

“Alright then. But if it´s purple I´m never letting you buy me clothes again.’ They walked off, mood suddenly light as they bickered like siblings while Potter watched on with bemusement from his little café table. He was obviously straining his solitary little brain cell trying to figure out the dynamics of the two Slytherins. Draco glanced back at the other boy and then grinned to himself, wondering when Potter would realize he had chocolate smeared on the tip of his nose.

When Draco finally crossed that bricked border and walked onto Platform 9 ¾ it was with a sense of homecoming, anticipation, and relief. The trip to the station on the Knight Bus hadn´t been very pleasant, but it was worth it now that he was finally on his way to Hogwarts. He had managed to acquire all his school supplies with minimal fuss and had been delighted when his letter from Hogwarts had included a small, shining silver prefects badge. It was pinned to his robes proudly, gleaming in the afternoon light and between it and his arrogant saunter the first years scattered in his wake. It gave him a surge of satisfaction.

For the first time since his father had thrown him out on his ear he felt like his old self; confident, cock sure, and on top of everything. Even his saunter screamed aristocratic arrogance. They could take him out of the Malfoy family, but they couldn´t take the Malfoy out of him.

He smirked at his fellow Slytherins, sneered at the Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs that crossed his path, and paused to wink at his adoring fan girls who cooed over him. A few even fluttered their eyelashes at him. He was gay, but that didn´t mean the attention he garnered from smitten third year girls was unwelcome. Pansy´s little sister Peony feigned a fainting spell and simpered ridiculously up at Draco to mock her less than intelligent contemporaries. Draco was the equivalent of her big brother and she obviously didn´t see the attraction of a boy who had spent most of his childhood changing her skin different colors and setting house elves on her. Her group of teeny-bopper Slytherin groupies sneered at the other fawning girls and then sneaked peeks at Draco from underneath coyly lowered eyelashes when Peony wasn´t looking.

Draco simply winked at her and turned away, grinning at the squeals he had caused. Obviously his Veela blood was good for something. “It isn´t nice to lead them on, Malfoy.’ Zabini said with a wry look. Blaise was handsome with the dark curls he had inherited from his Italian father and the black eyes and tan skin from his gypsy mother. Draco had fancied him for short period of time during fourth year, but he had outgrown the crush when he realized that while Zabini was good looking, there wasn´t any spark to their relationship.

Blaise was nice enough bloke, but he was too mild mannered for Draco´s tastes and he couldn´t steer a broom properly to save his life. Also, while his family was pureblooded, the Zabini family wasn´t really considered aristocratic. Even Potter had better bloodlines, mother not withstanding. After all, it was acceptable to marry a mudblood every tenth generation or so though the Malfoys had forgone the Muggle born for non-humans like Veela and Succubae to keep from inbreeding. At any rate, Zabini was just a good ally and nothing more and Draco liked it that way. What´s more - he didn´t mind that Draco preferred boys, though he did like to tease him about it.

“Oh, it´s harmless. Not like the way you pant after that Chang girl. Why, I don´t know. Merlin knows Potter´s hot enough for her. Don´t really see the attraction myself.’

“Big surprise there, isn´t it?’ Said Blaise with a chummy shove. Draco sneered playfully in response and surveyed the platform akin to the way a general surveys his battlefield. Pansy was no where to be found. And the hulking forms of Crabbe and Goyle, usually easy to spot, weren´t anywhere in sight either. Blaise, seeing his irritation, spoke up. “If you´re wondering where the others are they´ve gone and claimed a compartment for us. I was elected to stand about and wait for you, seeing as how you´re always fashionably late.’

“It´s all a part of my charm. Why don´t you help me with my luggage and then we can go find them, hmm?’

“What do I look like, a house elf?’ Zabini complained, but he helped out cheerfully enough.

“Well, there are those ears of yours.’ Draco murmured with a sideways glance towards the offending body parts. Zabini patted the parts in question self consciously and glared, knowing that they did stick out a bit from his head of unruly curls.

“This from the albino ferret.’ Draco sent a pained look Zabini´s way.

“Don´t remind me. Those Gryffindorks still won´t let that rest.’ Laughing, Zabini shouldered a bag or two and led him onto the train and towards their compartment. Yes, it was good to finally be going home.

“Right, this meeting of Ambitious Slytherins of Hogwarts is in session.’ Draco intoned, leaning back in his seat. Despite the fact he was supposed to be in the prefect´s compartment, holding the first meeting of ASH on the Hogwarts Express was a tradition he refused to break. It had been formerly known as the Ambitious Students of Slytherin, but eventually they had outgrown the vulgar acronym. Plus, Draco didn´t really fancy being the President of Ass. Though his bum was quite nice, if he did say so himself. “So, Pansy. Did you get a chance to update our student profiles?’

Pansy took out a huge portfolio filled with information on each of Hogwarts´ students. As Secretary it was her duty to deal with it as well as any correspondence for those rare times they needed outside help to achieve their goals. The extensive portfolio included a brief genealogy, health information, the latest gossip going around the school about each individual, blackmail material, and their school record. Pansy´s father was on the school board which gave the Slytherin girl access to quite a bit of information on their fellow peers. The rest was easily obtained with some research. Pansy grimaced. “It wasn´t easy, but yes I did. We´ve got quite a few exchange students. The majority are from Beaubaxtons, but there are several from Durmstrang. They´ll probably be sorted into Slytherin. You know what that means.’

“Power shifts and political games. Oh joy.’ Blaise grumbled. Draco only smirked at his Vice-president.

“Like you don´t enjoy it as much as the rest of us. Okay, Pansy. I´ll have to go through it all later. After this we have to go to the Prefect´s compartment, but first we´ve something else to discuss. I´m sure all of you are aware of the fact I´ve been disowned, correct?’

A general murmur of agreement swept through the small area. “Right then. Without my father´s influence to protect me, and by default you, my companions, we´re going to have to stop harassing Potter and his cronies.’

Cries of outrage met this. “What?!’

“You can´t be serious, Draco!’

“If we don´t keep them in check they´ll rule the whole school!’

“How can you suggest we join in on the Potter-love fest? That´s selling out and you know it!’

Draco raised his hand imperiously to halt their chatter and was gratified when they settled down. Pansy looked positively steamed and Crabbe and Goyle were sulking. Blaise was looking thoughtful, though Draco couldn´t tell what was going on in that odd brain of his.

“We can´t afford to alienate ourselves now. My power base is gone and while I am rebuilding it, things are too delicate right now to continue on as if nothing has happened. If I keep up the blatant attacks on Potter no one will hire me after graduation. And I know none of us wants to lick Voldemort´s boots, but you might have to if no one else will accept you because you lacked self control. If we stop now while we´re only sixteen we can just shrug the pranks and arguments off as childish posturing and envy.’ He felt a bitter taste in his mouth. It tasted like defeat, but Draco wasn´t going to bugger up his chances at success in life because he couldn´t keep himself in check. “I´m not suggesting going so far as to suck up to the Wonder Boy, but we will have to tone things down.’

Draco sat back and let them debate it out among themselves. He spent the time reading up on the new students and keeping an ear trained on their discussion. He searched through the portfolio idly, only managing to tag a few students as Slytherins right off. The only one who looked capable of vying for power with Draco and his court was one Gernot Adder. Adder was the son of a Death Eater who had been killed by Aurors during Voldemort´s first rising and was raised by his uncle, who apparently, didn´t have quite all his marbles. He was also an exchange student from Durmstrang which meant he was probably skilled in the Dark Arts and vicious when it came to achieving his ambitions. Definitely someone to keep an eye on. He flipped through the rest of the index, finding nothing else of interest as the others continued their dispute.

Finally, he spoke. “That´s enough for now.’ They quieted, though Crabbe and Goyle were glaring fiercely at each other. “Crabbe.’ The large Slytherin snapped his eyes around. “You´re to find out the atmosphere of the Gryffindors. Goyle, you´ve got Ravenclaws. Blaise, you´re going to check out Hufflepuff House and Pansy you have the honor of keeping me on top of the Slytherin situation and which new students are making a bid for power. Also, do the usual first year records.’

He had assigned the larger Slytherins to Gryffindor and Ravenclaw because those Houses were often arrogant and tended to vastly underestimate the intelligence of Draco´s bookends. The two kept up the painstaking pretence of stupidity even in the Slytherin common room, but it was a handy one. It was surprising what people let slip around those they perceived to be morons. Blaise was a professional at handling Hufflepuffs and even had several contacts that he kept to himself. And Pansy was brilliant when it came to discovering the plots unfolding in the Snake Pit. Each nodded their acceptance, proud to be trusted with these vital tasks.

“I´ll be dealing with the school´s portraits and ghosts.’ Draco had spent a long time cultivating his acquaintances with these two groups, using his most charming demeanor to gain their trust and subsequently quite a lot of information. “Think on the Potter situation, but follow my lead until we have time to discuss it at length.’ Draco looked around, scanning the faces of his friends and fellow Slytherins. “Is there anything else that needs to be addressed?’

Pansy spoke up. “Millicent still wants in on ASH. She was over at the mansion this summer and kept making veiled hints.’

“We´ve gone through this before.’ Blaise said, looking bored. “She´s not one of us. Who knows where her loyalties lie or who she´ll be telling exactly what we´re up to?’ Their group was an odd one, but trust was absolute. It had been necessary for them to band together if they ever wanted to achieve their various ambitions. Several other Slytherin factions had imitated them, but their clubs had never lasted long - too often broken apart by petty bickering, backstabbing, and general selfishness. It was a delicate balance of give or take, but after five years they had a system. Adding another person to their tight knit group would throw everything out of balance.

“Okay, let´s vote then. All for adding Bulkstrode to our little group, say Yay.’ Pansy and Vincent´s voice chimed their affirmative.

“And all for keeping her out?’ Draco added his own voice to that mix. “Alright then. Three against two, Nay wins. It´s better this way. I´m a bit suspicious about her persistence anyway. Asking twice is fine, but three times? Not only does it make me wonder why she wants in badly enough to compromise her dignity, but desperation is not a trait ASH members have.’

Pansy nodded reluctantly and Crabbe sighed his agreement. Everyone knew he was engaged to her and felt obligated to stand up for her. Draco trusted his discretion though, because even Bulstrode hadn´t realized Crabbe´s talent for espionage or his truly gifted skills as an artist. “You guys better join the other prefects before they send out a search party.’ Zabini said, smirking and crossing his arms.

Draco flashed his friends a wicked grin. “Right, this meeting of ASH is dismissed. You two brutes go get yourself some candy, I can hear your stomachs growling from here.’ For all their acting, they really did have a horrible weakness for sweets. Pansy took the silencing charm of the door and the two large Slytherins stood, exchanging looks of long suffering before assuming dull, vacant expressions and lumbering out. “Zabini´s right. We´re running a few minutes behind.’ Pansy proceeded him out of the compartment and they made their way towards the front of the train where their things were located. Aware that their visit with the others was only temporary, they had left their change of clothes and other belongings in the Prefect compartment. Blaise had moved off towards another compartment, probably to chat up some birds.

“Nervous?’ Pansy asked, polishing her own prefects badge. Draco raised one eyebrow and gave her an incredulous look.

“Me, the Prince of Serpents? Never!’ And on that note, they entered the prefect´s car.

They had walked in right as the Head Girl had finished up a lecture and she turned to them, her thin lips pursed in annoyance. “Took you long enough. Here, read over these.’ Draco sneered at the Chang girl, accepting the packets she shoved at him.

“Nice to know our Head Girl is so polite and gracious.’ The sarcasm almost dripped from his words and Pansy smirked her silent agreement. The two Slytherins took their seats in the only empty space left across from Granger and Potter who were glaring as if they wished looks could kill. Roger Davies, the Head Boy and Ravenclaw Quidditch Captain, merely shook his head and turned his attention back to where he was chatting with a gaggle of Hufflepuffs, both the sixth and the seventh year prefects.

Draco ignored them and turned his attention to Pansy, conversing with her about the pranks her little sister had attempted to pull on her over the summer. He had been so absorbed in the conversation he was shocked when something big and orange pounced on his lap. “Ack!’ It was the ugliest feline Draco had ever had the misfortune to lay eyes on.

“Crookshanks!’ Granger shouted, her face red with embarrassment. “Get down from there right now.’ The cat turned its back on her after glaring and settled itself more comfortably in Draco´s lap. He tried to push the thing off, but it wouldn´t budge and merely returned when he succeeded in scooting it towards the edge of his lap.

“Granger, get this horrid creature off me! It´s getting fur all over my robes.’

Potter laughed. “You´re such a ponce, Malfoy.’ Draco shot him a withering look.

“Says the boy who spends entirely too much quality time with his broomstick.’ Potter´s ears turned pink, but Draco didn´t have time to savor the victory. “Get this beast off me! Shoo!’ The kneazle-cat hybrid turned to give Draco an imperious look and dug its claws into the Slytherin´s thighs through his robe in warning. Draco winced. “Fine, you ghastly little beast. Just keep your claws to yourself.’ The cat like creature looked offended, but merely began to nudge against his hand as if in a demand to be petted. Feeling put out, Draco petted the cat and was not surprised when it began to purr loudly. He sighed, resigned to his fate as what pretty much amounted as a servant to a fleabag.

“Wow. I can´t believe Crookshanks likes you.’

Draco shot Potter a dark look. “Even if it is the ugliest creature I´ve ever seen it does seem to have exceptionally good taste.’ He sniffed and continued petting the cat, Pansy snickering at him all the while.

“Cats always love you. I don´t get it, you detest them, but they adore you anyway.’ Malfoy merely raised an eyebrow.

“It´s my natural charm.’ Everyone in the vicinity turned to give him incredulous looks. “What?’ Draco huffed indignantly. They didn´t have to look quite so disbelieving. Even when he was being rude he was charismatic and when he was polite, which was admittedly a rare occurrence, he was practically irresistible. “I,’ He said, with painstaking hauteur, “Am going to take a nap. Please keep the inane chatter to a minimum.’ The Slytherin closed his eyes and settled back in his seat, unaware that he was absent mindedly stroking the fur of Granger´s kneazle.

“Draco!’ Pansy´s screech brought him out of slumber and he turned to glare blearily at his fellow prefect. He felt muddled, but naps during the day always did that to him.

“What in Salazar´s name are you shrieking at me for?’ He rubbed his ringing ear and sat up, brushing stray cat hairs from his school robes. He scowled at the ginger hairs still clinging to his black robes and preformed a quick cleaning charm.

Pansy bit her lip and looked up guilty. “You were talking in your sleep again.’ Draco turned to look at the surrounding prefects and saw Granger studying him like he was a puzzle she wanted to solve. Even Potter was looking disappointed that the Slytherin had finally roused himself. Draco turned to his friend and let his voice drop several degrees.

“How many times have I told you that the fact I talk in my sleep is not entertaining!’ He glared daggers at her and she fidgeted. “It´s not some party favor!’

Potter interrupted, ever the hero, to save Pansy any more distress and to divert Draco´s wrath. “I was the one talking to you. Don´t yell at her Malfoy.’

And that was supposed to make him feel better? Merlin knew what Potter had asked him and Draco always spoke truthfully when he was asleep. It made Draco´s panic rise to a whole other level. “And here I thought Gryffindors were morally obligated not to invade the privacy of their fellow students. It´s lovely to know you don´t mind displaying your blatant hypocrisy for all and sundry by rummaging in my subconscious when I´m defenseless. You disgust me Potter.’ Draco hissed the last phrase and stood up in swirl of dark robes. “I´m going to get myself something to eat and Pansy.’ She looked up, her dark eyes defensive. “We will talk about this.’ He swooped out of the compartment with that last ominous phrase and hoped Pansy stewed nervously for the rest of the trip. Stupid bitch.

He did in fact speak with her in the carriages on the way to Hogwarts. She was adamant that nothing too incriminating had been said while Draco had been sleeping.

“Granger asked me to get her cat back for her and you told her to get it yourself. And well, you were still asleep so they asked me what was going on and I told them you did that sometimes.’

“And?’ Draco prompted, slouching down in his seat and grimacing when the carriage bounced over a bump.

“Well, they didn´t believe me. So I told them to go ahead and see for themselves.’ Draco gave her a look and she glared back. “It was harmless, you know that. Anyway, so Granger asked what you thought about the Head Girl and you called her a manipulative bitch who only moped about Diggory for so long to get attention because everyone knew she´d barely known him in the first place. And that she only kept stringing Potter along for the sake of her popularity.’ Pansy laughed. “You should have seen Potter´s face.’

Draco smirked and crossed his arms. He wished he could have. “What else did I blurt out?’

Pansy raised one eyebrow and continued. “Well, then I asked you what you thought about Granger and you called her a Know-it-all who spent entirely too much time with her nose buried in a book. Then you said that she was intelligent and gutsy. So, what´s that about? Fancy a bit of Mudblood love?’

“Shut up Pansy. You know I don´t swing that way.’ He said shortly. He´d secretly respected Granger for her considerable intelligence for some time and was embarrassed she knew it now. “So, anything else? What did I say about Potter?’ That was what he was truly worried about. Merlin knew what Potter would do if he learned that Draco did, in fact, have the tiniest bit of admiration for the pillock.

“I was just getting to that. You called him a speccy git who had horrible taste in clothes even if he did fly like he´d been born on a broom. And then Potter asked you if you were a Death Eater and of course you said no. And something about why would you want to lick the boots of a half-blood nutter anyway? It was rather funny, actually. I woke you up when Potty asked why you´d been disinherited.’

“Well, at least you had the sense to do that. You should have woken me up earlier. Who knows what I could have said? We both know I can´t lie when I´m asleep.’

“I was there the whole time to wake you up if it got out of hand.’ She said, obviously irritated with his paranoia.

“That doesn´t matter!’ Draco practically shouted. Zabini, Crabbe, and Goyle merely began to stare off into space or inspect their cuticles while the two prefects hashed it out. Pansy and Draco had spats like these fairly often. It was nothing new. And they were aware trying to play referee just put them in the line of fire from both sides so they kept to themselves. “I could have told them about any number of humiliating things they could have thrown in my face for the rest of my life! Why don´t you drink veritaserum and have them question you, then you´d realize exactly what it´s like! You should never have let them ask so many questions.’ Draco sat back, sulking and kicked the seat across from him half heartedly.

“Sorry Draco. I guess I´d be angry too if I it had been me. I never really thought of it like that. But you have to admit, it is pretty funny what you come out with sometimes. I didn´t mean to upset you.’

He gave her a glare, but relented. “Fine,’ He said sourly. “Just don´t do it again.’ Yeah, because that always worked on Pansy. Right. And he was a Gryffindor.

But, in all honesty it was the best he could do.

Draco took his seat at the Slytherin table gracefully, adjusting his robes so they draped just so while Crabbe and Goyle flanked him on either side. Zabini slid into the seat across from him and Pansy wandered off to socialize with her clique of popular girls. She even deigned to exchange a few words with Brown and Patil from Gryffindor while making her rounds through the chattering crowd of students. Eventually, everyone took their seats and quieted for the Sorting. The Hat cleared it´s throat, the brim moving in it´s usual eerie way as it began to sing.

I may seem old and threadbare

But this hat still has its tricks

I´ve Sorted for some centuries

It´s how I get my kicks

You may be put in Gryffindor

Among the bravest of the brave

Some may live as Hufflepuffs

Who are loyal to the grave

Or in amongst the Ravenclaws

Who delight in finding facts

Then there are sly Slytherins

Those cunning to the max

Don´t worry now, I´ll sort you true

I´ll put you in your proper place

Sorting kids is what I do

With great panache and grace!

And one by one the tiny little first years scrambled up onto the stool and let the Sorting Hat perch on their heads. Draco clapped languidly when the Slytherins were sorted and nodded a polite greeting to the first years. They clustered at the end of the table and huddled together, a few third and fourth years swooping in to give advice and preen over their own knowledge of life at Hogwarts.

“And now for the school song!’ And so they sang, Draco plugging his ears against Crabbe and Goyle´s deep off key renditions and Zabini´s warbling. The horror ended and Draco took his seat with relief. It didn´t last long, though. The Headmaster said his usual bit, prattling on about the rules and then You Know Who which made Longbottom and the first years cower. Lupin was back at Hogwarts to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, but Draco far preferred the werewolf over that paranoid, prejudiced ex-Auror Mad Eye Moody who had spent all of fifth year breathing down Draco´s neck and calling him a mini-Death Eater.

The speech turned motivational and Draco rolled his eyes, wishing the old man would hurry it up a bit. Finally, after the declarations and comforting lies, Dumbledore scanned the crowd with his twinkling eyes. “I have a few more words before we eat. Fworp, Smeeedle, and Woooga! Now, dig in!’ He clapped his hands and the food arrived, wafting its delicious scent through the candlelit hall.

Draco´s mouth watered and he dug in as ordered, suddenly famished. His bulky bookends piled their plates up to the limits and began shoveling the whole mess into the black holes called their mouths. Draco had tucked away a good portion of food when Zabini finally spoke up. “Hey, guys! I got your orders. Saucy Sorceresses for Crabbe, Playwizard and Wild Witches for Goyle, and Playwitch, Wizards and their Wands, and Boys on Broomsticks for Draco.’ The Slytherins all grinned in anticipation.

Zabini had conned his older brother into buying pornography and Blaise sold it to the school with his Slytherin allies getting a considerable discount. The rest of the Houses bought Blaise´s merchandise eagerly, despite the inflated prices. After all, the law of supply and demand was on his side in a boarding school full of underage, horny teenagers. The elder Zabinini got a 25% cut of the profits, Blaise got 75% and a certain amount of prestige among his peers, and everyone else got porn. It was a win-win situation except for McGonagall who had been searching for the culprit for two years and was almost tearing her hair out in frustration at her inability to discover the porn peddler. Draco himself had been questioned by the Deputy Headmistress extensively, but she had a hard time pinning it on him considering the fact he was, for once, completely innocent.

“Heh. That´s great. Good thing I paid in advance.’ Draco said smugly. His annual payment for the next year´s orders was the best idea he´d had in ages. Now he had a whole year´s worth of wank mags already purchased. It was a especially convenient considering the fact he had limited funds now. “So, tell me Blaise. What´s the weirdest order you´ve gotten lately?’

The other boy laughed and took a sip of pumpkin juice. “There was this one Hufflepuff who asked for Fun with Flobberworms.’

“Eurgh.’ Crabbe, Goyle, and Draco said in unison, shuddering. Just exactly what you didn´t need to hear at the dinner table. But he had asked, damn his mouth anyway.

“Yeah, that´s what I said. And did you know Longbottom has a dominatrix kink?’

Draco felt his eyebrows shoot up and he sneered. “That is seriously disturbing. I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to hear about Longbottom´s sexual kinks. Don´t ever mention it again. Got that?’

“Heehee. Got it.’ Zabini made a sound suspiciously close to a giggle, but Draco ignored it. The other Slytherin always got giddy when school started and the usual steady stream of galleons started flowing into his coffers again.

Eventually, the meal came to an end and Draco stood to escort the first years to the dungeons. The flock of shuffling, nervous children followed him through the labyrinthine halls and Draco paused to show them Snape´s office and the Potions classroom. They ooohed and ahhed at the castle, craning their necks around to peer at the oddities Hogwarts held.

“Look, it´s the ickle firsties! With ickle Drucksy Wucksy herding them along!’ Before Peeves could start in on any rude rhymes, Draco interrupted him.

“Do you really want me to get the Baron? Go bother the Gryffindors.’ Draco said, curling his lip contemptuously, and the poltergeist left quickly, rattling the armor with a stick as he went by and cackling to himself like a hen. Draco, who had an unparalleled acquaintance with the Bloody Baron ever since he´d chatted with him his first night at Hogwarts, had quite a hold over Peeves. It wasn´t unusual for Draco´s things to be left severely alone while other students´ belongings were thrown about with glee.

“Right.’ Draco said, as they reached the innocuous stretch of stone that was the entrance into Slytherin House. “The password is Chimera. Don´t write it down and don´t tell it to anyone. If you forget it, you will be left to freeze outside.’ He cautioned sternly. The stones moved with only a minimum of grinding as soon as he spoke the password, leaving the entrance open. The first years tumbled inside and stumbled to a halt at the sight of Snape lounging in a chair near the fire. The Potions Master´s face was lit up on one side, the other half cast in shadow. The effect was at once both menacing and noble, the curve of his nose reminiscent of an eagle´s beak.

“Sit.’ Snape said shortly and the first years complied immediately, gathering around his feet. Draco was familiar with the speech about Slytherin honor and pride and left Snape to it. Later, the Slytherin Head of House would meet each first year individually and interview them. As usual, Snape´s flair for the dramatics held the children in thrall as he spoke on about the dignity of his House and how to live up to the legacy of Salazar Slytherin. It was a moving speech, but Draco had heard it five times before and quickly made his way towards his old dormitories to collect his magazines from Blaise. He lingered only for a moment with his friends before leaving for his own separate room. After all, being a prefect did have its advantages.

His room was situated between the Potions classroom and the Slytherin dorms. It was located in a passage way that appeared to be a small dead end flanked by two sets of armor. The bare stone wall was similar in appearance to the one that led to the Slytherin common room. “Parseltongue.’ Draco said clearly and the stones rearranged themselves quickly. He entered, the stone flowing back into place behind him and looked around with satisfaction.

His sitting room held a huge desk, a large fire place, several bookshelves, a couch and an armchair. The accommodations were quite luxurious, on par with his old room at Malfoy Manor even. Obviously, this was where he was expected to talk with his fellow Housemates when they had problems or needed advice. It was decorated in green and silver with accents of gold here and there. The bedroom was even nicer with a huge four poster bed and, the rarest of luxuries in the dungeons, a large window seat looking out onto the mountainous landscape nearby. Hogwarts castle was perched on the rugged rise of land and as such even the dungeons were fairly elevated in comparison to where the lake was. The view of the landscape was magnificent and more importantly it let in fresh air. On the downside, Draco would have to go half way across the school to get to the prefect´s bathroom, but he had heard rumors that it was worth walking the distance necessary to use it.

All in all, life was good.

Draco had been required to get up far too early to attend the first prefect meeting, though he had dozed through most of it. His head was muzzy and as usual, he was in a vicious mood before his first cup of coffee. Pansy was slumped in her chair snoozing away while Draco unsuccessfully attempted to get some shut eye as the Head Girl´s voice kept drawing him out of slumber. He wasn´t much of a morning person as Chang soon discovered when he had promptly given the girl a scathing diatribe on ruining her prefects´ sleep cycle when she had scolded him for drifting off.

Snape, who was presiding over this particular meeting, only snorted with amusement and watched him verbally cut her into shreds. He was the only teacher ever up this early (mostly for his delicate potions) so he had been required to attend and had no problem watching the Head girl who had disrupted his morning routine get flayed alive by Draco´s sharp tongue. Potter, usually the first to jump to her defense, was quietly snoring on the table, his cheek pressed flat against the wood and his hair even more wild than usual. Granger had attempted to wake him earlier, but had merely gotten a muttered “S´too early Aunt Petunia.’ for her troubles. She was the only person other than Chang who was more than half awake.

Finch-Fletchy was snoozing with his head on Hannah Abbot´s shoulder. The blonde Hufflepuff was trying to keep her eyes open with difficulty, the lids fluttering down every two minutes to pop back open again. The seventh year prefects were no better, dozing quietly around the room. Davies was blearily propping his head in his hands and letting the Head Girl deal with the meeting she had called despite the early hour. Chang lacked consideration for her fellow students and was far too eager, even for a Ravenclaw. Of course, none of the other prefects had murmured a cross word against the beaming girl. Draco, however, required more than a pretty smile to be appeased. Not that Chang gave a damn, because they disliked each other immensely. The Head Girl still resented the fact he hadn´t stood up in memory of Cedric. And Draco couldn´t stand her lack of personality. “Fine.’ She bit out, glaring at Draco like she wished he would spontaneously combust. “Here are the time tables. The next meeting is on Friday and we´re discussing the new detention schedules.’

“Oh. Do you need charts? I´m good with color coding and I´ve just recently-’

“I´ll do it.’ Chang said abruptly, interrupting Granger mid-sentence with a quick conciliatory smile. And ooh, that wasn´t a wise move. The Ravenclaw Seeker might have been intelligent and popular, but she lacked people skills. She knew how to look cute, but she didn´t understand her peers which was just asking for trouble in Draco´s not so humble opinion.

“Are you finished nattering on or can we go now? I´m sure you, at least, desperately need your beauty sleep.’ It was said with a bland, nonchalance that often cut deeper than his more overtly hostile tones, and it even got a grin out of Granger that she promptly hid with her hand.

Cho shot him a dark look. “Alright. But I expected that you would have more dedication to your position. If you keep this up I´ll have to speak with Dumbledore about your lack of professionalism.’

Snape stood smoothly, giving her a cool look. “Draco´s doing a fine job considering its such an ungodly hour in the morning for a prefects´ meeting. Perhaps you should take your peers into consideration before arranging the next seminar Miss Chang. Such thoughtlessness does not behoove a Head Girl.’ The Ravenclaw flushed, but managed to keep any comments she might have had to herself and they all filed out of the room yawning with the time tables for their Houses tucked under their arms.

The first classes of the year were always the same. The teachers reviewed a bit from the previous year and went on and on (in sometimes mind numbingly boring, exhausting detail) of exactly what they were planning for that term. Thankfully, Snape was the exception to this rule. He didn´t waste time with frivolous preliminaries, but dove right into his syllabus. It was refreshing.

Except of course, when it wasn´t. Draco sneered over at his lab partner, the ever clumsy Longbottom. The best potions student paired up with the worst meant less explosions which was a good thing considering the fact the potions were more advanced and dangerous. It also meant, however, that Draco had to divide half his attention between actually making the potion and keeping Longbottom from blowing them up. Even with this distraction his potions always came out beautifully. Draco seemed to have an instinctive grasp of how the ingredients should be portioned and just what to combine with another ingredient to get the desired effect. It wasn´t an unusual occurrence for Draco to have to improvise something to fix a potion after Longbottom bungled things up. The half wit twit had a memory like a sieve and tended to get flustered about the littlest things which meant even if he knew better he just might accidentally knock a volatile ingredient into the cauldron anyway.

Sometimes he thought Snape had paired them up just so Draco would be challenged in class. It did keep him from finishing up early which meant he couldn´t spend the rest of the class flinging disgusting ingredients at oblivious Gryffindors still concentrating on their cauldrons or sabotaging others´ potions. They´d been paired together ever since last year when Dumbledore had attempted to facilitate a truce between the feuding Houses. Almost all the classes were Slytherin-Gryffindor or Hufflepuff-Ravenclaw this year, just as they were the year before.

Pansy was stuck with Granger who was hogging their workspace while Zabini and Weasley were peering into their cauldron uneasily. The potion was a mild sedative and was supposed to be a dark blue at this stage. Theirs was an off white color with chunks of blue dispersed throughout the liquid. Potter and Goyle were paired up and the Boy Who Lived was almost pulling his hair out in frustration at Goyle´s monosyllabic conversation and unhelpful hints. Crabbe was paired with the pretty Patil girl and was using his superior height in an attempt to peek down her robes to no avail.

Patil didn´t even notice, being too busy shooting death glares at her ex-boyfriend. The Irish Gryffindor was giving her pleading looks while his lab partner, which was Bulstrode, rolled her eyes and measured a bit of bat guano into her cauldron. Snape looked up from the thick book he had been thumbing through and cast a quick glance around the class. “When all of you reach the stage where it is dark blue please take it if off the cauldron to cool and we´ll pick up where we left off next time. And I want a fifteen inch report on the uses and abuses of this potion.’ The groans rang throughout the class from Slytherins and Gryffindors alike. “Make that twenty.’ Snape snapped, with a caustic look at his sullen pupils and Draco took the time to wonder why Potions was his favorite class.

Masochistic tendencies perhaps?

“Er, should I have added in the Catnip Leaves?’ Oh bugger, the potion was turning green. Well, considering the amount of time he was forced to spend baby sitting Longbottom during class and he still hadn´t dropped Potions yet masochistic tendencies were a definite possibility.

Draco finally found the time to make his rounds that Wednesday and slipped out of the dungeons quietly. It was his free period and many students were either in class or outside enjoying the sunny day while he paced dusty corridors. It was a necessary evil though and it was always interesting to see what sort of information turned up.

His first stop was the portrait of Acantha Longbottom, a notoriously flighty girl from Lancashire who had died during childbirth after eloping with the Herbology teacher much to her mother´s adamant disapproval. She was, oddly enough, one of Neville Longbottom´s ancestors and probably his many times great aunt if not grandmother. According to Acantha herself, she had been the most popular girl of her year as well as the prettiest. She was a terrible gossip and many of the other portraits disliked her absent minded and constant chattering. Draco managed to garner quite a bit of information from her, though he hardly saw how Hagrid´s recent marriage to Madame Maxime could be of any interest to him. He might have talked to Violet, but that portrait was such a gossip anything she told him had probably been around the castle twice already so he decided to leave that one severely alone.

His next mark was the Bloody Baron who was always gloomy and morose, but tended to be fairly friendly to Draco on the whole. Apparently, he´d had a torrid affair with one of the Malfoy women back when he was alive (before her father had killed him for deflowering his baby girl) and tended to be fond of the silver haired brats who attended Hogwarts over the years. He particularly liked Draco who, after he´d gotten over the grisly appearance of the ghost, actually conversed with the Baron on a regular basis. The Bloody Baron had revealed a few tidbits including the fact he had overheard Lupin with a mysterious male lover. Intrigued, Draco filed that away before moving on into a more mundane discussion about the Slytherin´s chances at Quidditch. He left thirty minutes later after a heated and enjoyable debate about whether Swivenhodge was preferable to Quidditch. As if any other sport could compare!

Saffie Snape was a querulous old spinster who had taught Arithmancy a few hundred years ago and her portrait hung at an intersection of hallways where an enterprising person could see quite a few things. The professor had a soft spot for Draco who had asked her for help on a few of his more difficult assignments every so often. Saffie loved being useful and showing off her superior knowledge, which Draco had given her ample opportunity to do. It had grated on Draco´s nerves at the time, but it had been worth it considering he now had a contact in the Ravenclaw wing who was discrete, canny, and eerily observant. She had seen Cho Chang snogging Edward Moon just the other afternoon and quite passionately too.

Oh, this would be a lovely way to taunt Potter.

Draco´s spirits fell when he realized he´d have to be careful how he revealed the information now that he couldn´t antagonize Potter quite so much. Maybe he could ‘accidentally´ say something in front of that Brown girl. It would get around school soon enough then. He just couldn´t rub it in Potter´s face. Of course, mentioning it during a prefect meeting could take Chang down a notch or two, which certainly appealed. The Slytherin chatted with the portrait a bit longer before making his way up a few floors and towards a certain turret. Draco spent some time conversing with Gargun and his counterpart Gargunson. The two stone creatures were huge, perched on the edge of a sturdy battlement as they scanned the grounds. Their blunt, homey faces looked out over the parapet and their large ears perked forward attentively. They were a part of the extensive protection of Hogwarts, carved by Rowena Ravenclaw herself some said.

“Yeh, well. We don´t see much around here y´know Draco.’ Gargun had answered when Draco questioned him politely.

Gargunson laughed at the older gargoyle, his rough voice gravely and warm. “Oh, don´ be silly. Jus´ the other night I saw a cloaked figure slip into the Forbidden Forest. You were sleepin´ on the job o´ course. Gettin´ soft in your old age, I guess.’ The two gargoyle´s bickered good naturedly while Draco peered down at the forest line where the Forbidden Forest blended into the Hogwarts grounds. It looked darkly sinister even though it was the afternoon. Someone was going in there voluntarily?

Draco shuddered. He had hated and feared that place fervently ever since he and Potter had seen Voldemort crouched over a dead unicorn during detention their first year. His father had told Draco scary bedtime stories about that place during his childhood and that little scene with the Dark Lord hadn´t helped matters any. Lucius´ stories had caused Draco to end up in the kitchen to beg hot chocolate from the house elves on many a night at all sorts of godforsaken hours when he was little. They had only been tales and Draco knew that, but even though he was sixteen now it had still left an impression on him. He said his farewells and made his way slowly back down, thinking it over. He´d discuss it with the others and see what they thought. And he´d check back next week to see if Gargunson had seen anything else just in case.

The portrait of Hengist of Woodcroft who had founded the Three Broomsticks, or so it was rumored, didn´t have much information besides the fact that Sally-Ann Perks, Queenie Greengrass´ long time crush, was finally breaking up with her steady boyfriend Wayne Hopkins. Apparently he´d been caught snogging another witch in Diagon Alley over the summer and Sally-Ann had finally found out about it. Draco could win himself a nice favor from Greengrass for providing that information which improved his mood considerably. He visited a few other portraits, but it was still early in the year so he heard nothing else of interest which was fine since he´d discovered more than he´d expected anyway.

Deciding it had been quite a productive day, Draco headed back down towards his Arithmancy class with fifteen minutes to spare. His cheerful whistling echoed behind him the whole way there.

“Anyway, Greengrass managed to cough up something quite interesting in return. I´ve got the map somewhere… here it is. The kitchens are right here and all we have to do to get inside is tickle the pear on the portrait.’

“Oh, good. I was wondering how we´d get food now that you´re mother isn´t sending you sweets.’ Zabini commented and there was a moment of awkward silence.

The scratching sound of a quill on paper stopped for a moment as Peony piped up. “Draco, where exactly do I put this number? It´s all so confusing. I hate Arithmancy!’ The Slytherin prefect leaned over and peered at the girl´s paper.

“Try right there, Peony.’ The ASH meeting was going according to schedule, though Pansy had brought her little sister along for a tutoring session in an attempt to hit two bludgers with one bat. Apparently the youngest Parkinson daughter had a block and Pansy was sick and tired of beating her head against it in an effort to help her little sister. She had oh so thoughtfully volunteered Draco for the job. “Now then, Crabbe. What did you find out?’

“Well. Finnigan dumped Patil and told her he just wanted to be friends.’

Pansy snorted derisively. “Oh, is that all you´ve got? That´s old news.’

“It gets better though. He dumped her for Dean Thomas.’ Blaise laughed outright and Draco snickered despite himself.

“So, what do all the Gryffinbores think about it?’

“Eh. Not much at all. Except Weasley´s afraid to shower with him. Thinks he´s so wonderful that Finnigan couldn´t possibly resist.’

“Conceited git, isn´t he?’ Draco murmured. Pansy giggled.

“Who´d want the Weasel anyway? Let me scribble that down in the portfolio. Alright, anything else Crabbe?’

“Here´s the good part. Chang and Potter were snogging on the Quidditch pitch yesterday. Behind the broom shed with tongues and all.’

“Ha! Chang was snogging Moon last Tuesday in Ravenclaw territory. Our Head Girl does get around, doesn´t she?’ Crowed Draco.

“Oooh!’ Peony crooned excitedly, almost bouncing in her seat. “How awful! Are you gonna rub it in Harry Potter´s face?’

Pansy flicked one of her sister´s curls. “Yes, so keep your mouth shut. You should be honored to even witness an ASH meeting. If I hear that you´ve blabbed one little thing I´ll owl mother.’

“You´re no fun.’ The girl whined, but she turned her attention back to her scroll.

Blaise cleared his throat. “Right then. So, who has the honor of spreading this around?’

“I could drop a few hints to Lavender. It´ll be all around the school by lunchtime.’

Draco thought about it for a moment. On one hand, it meant he didn´t get to see Potter´s first reaction. On the other, it couldn´t be connected to him in any way, which was a good thing. “Alright. I suppose that will have to do.’ He glanced at Peony´s paper. “Carry the three.’ He advised before turning back to the meeting. “Right then. Is there anything else we need to discuss?’

Blaise coughed a bit before speaking up. “I´m shagging Tracey Davis. Just so you know.’

“I guess it´s a bloody good thing I´ve got my own room then, isn´t it?’ Draco said smugly.

“Not like you use it.’ Zabini shot back. “So, who do you have your eye on? I hear Finch-Fletchy´s gay. And I suppose he´s not too horribly disfigured. Maybe he´ll consider dating you.’

“Maybe? He´d be bloody lucky to have me, not that I´d touch him with a barge pole. A muggle born Hufflepuff? Eurgh.’ Draco grimaced, sticking out his tongue a bit which made Peony and Pansy giggle in almost exactly the same way.

Greg laughed outright at him. “What about that Ravenclaw you were snogging last year?’

“Stephen Cornfoot? He´s with Lisa Turpin. And he can barely ride a broomstick.’

“Draco!’ Pansy shrieked, covering her sister´s ears. “Do you mind?!’

“I meant literally, not like that! Merlin´s knickers woman, get your mind out of the gutter. I just prefer boys who can fly properly, that´s all.’ He shot Pansy a disgusted look.

“So, Quidditch players, eh? How about Potter? Pansy said you said that he flies like he was born on a broom.’

“Out! Out right now or I´ll transfigure you into owl kibble and feed you to Grindylow! OUT!’ He chased Peony out into the corridor. One of the suits of armor, sensing his anger, stuck out a foot and tried to trip the girl. She simply jumped over the foot and swung around with an evil grin on her face.

“You lurve him! You want to kiss him and snog him and shag him!’ The sing song voice echoed in the corridor, grating on Draco´s nerves. He ignored the hysterical laughter coming from his sitting room. Traitors, all of them!

“Go away you little brat! Shoo! And if I hear one word of this from anyone I´ll tie you to the Quidditch goal posts and leave you there, see if I don´t!’

“You´re no fun, Draco! You´d be perfect for each other! Even Trelawny would agree! Opposites attract you know!’ She called out after him as he turned around. He snarled and ignored her giggling as he stormed back into his room.

The stones moved to close behind him and he let himself sprawl in his armchair. “I am going to kill your sister.’ Draco declared theatrically. “I hope your parents won´t mind.’

“You will not. Besides, she thinks of you as her brother. Why else would she tease you like that?’ Draco sighed and rubbed the back of his neck.

“Just what I need; a younger sister. Wonderful.’

“So, Potter, huh?’ Draco groaned and buried his head underneath a decorative throw pillow, wondering if he could just suffocate himself.

“You´re next Crabbe. You hear me?’ He said, his voice muffled.

Of course, Goyle had to put in his two knuts too. “Aw, it´s alright. It all sort of makes sense now. I mean, for you arguing is practically foreplay and you´ve been at it with Potter for about five years, yeah? No wonder you´re always so sexually frustrated.’

“This meeting of ASH is dismissed! Get your sorry arses out of my room before I hex you all into oblivion! Potter, indeed. I´d rather snog a dementor.’

“I think he doth protest too much.’ Zabini whispered to Pansy, causing more laughter.

Draco watched them troop out merrily and glared at their backs. “Potter? Hah! I´d have to be so pissed I was cross eyed before I´d admit I found him attractive.’ He blinked, going over his words. “Before I would find him attractive, I mean. GAH!’ He started beating himself over the head with the throw pillow in the hopes it would knock some sense into his skull.

Draco scrubbed a hand through his wind blown hair, squinting up at the sun overhead. By the position of the sun it appeared to be two which meant he´d missed lunch. He´d been so caught up in Quidditch practice that he´d completely forgotten about dinner. Pucey, the new captain, had been adamant that the team train as often as possible and Draco had taken to flying whenever he could spare a few hours. Considering it was a Saturday and he´d already done his homework he had escaped to the Quidditch pitch to practice a few maneuvers. The first game of the season was against Ravenclaw and he was looking forward to trouncing Chang thoroughly.

The Slytherin grimaced, shifting the broomstick propped on his shoulder. He was sweaty and tired, not to mention his hair was probably a complete mess. He hated when his hair was like that. It was all rumpled and spiked with his sweat, standing up like some sort of demented halo. He was so busy contemplating his coif that he was almost half way to the castle when he was bowled over unexpectedly as something heavy sent him to the ground. “Ooof!’ The wind was knocked right out of him and he rolled over to see his attacker.

It was Fang, complete with dog breath. The enthusiastic canine started licking his face and Draco pushed his head away, his face scrunched with distaste at the copious amounts of drool. “Down, boy! Damn it, I should never have started feeding you scraps. Off!’ He managed to wiggle out from under the boar hound and left his broom lying there in favor of petting the eager dog. His tail was going back and forth so rapidly that it thumped against the dogs hindquarters rhythmically. “Here, hold on.’ Draco felt around on the ground for a stick and stood up, Fang bounding around him happily.

He drew back his arm and threw the stick, watching it fly in an arc through the air. Fang barked enthusiastically and tore off, ripping the lawn up in his haste to fetch it. The baying was almost continuous as he played fetch. The dog cavorted about gleefully when he finally managed to hold the stick firmly in his jaws. “Stupid mutt.’ Draco laughed, shaking his head. Normally Draco wouldn´t play with the beast considering how much the dog drooled, but Draco was dirty already anyway and Fang was decent as animals went. He was, at least, far more approachable than his half giant master and dogs in general had an open friendliness that Draco was drawn to.

Fang trotted back proudly, another mutt on his heels trying to steal the stick. The new dog was black and rather mangy; it took Draco a moment to place it as Lupin´s familiar. The mutt looked like a rather scraggly Grim, though Fang´s larger size overshadowed it by quite a margin. “Hey there boy.’ Draco said, squatting down. He had to support himself with one hand when Fang nudged up against him with all of his considerable bulk. The other dog approached for petting unabashedly, grinning a canine grin that made Draco grin right back. Fang had released the stick in favor for vying for Draco´s attention and the Slytherin snatched it up and threw it again, causing the dogs to race off after it together.

He stayed there for half an hour or so, simply playing with the dogs and reveling in their simple joy and affability. Finally, his need for cleanliness got the better of him and he set off for the castle with his broomstick securely over his shoulder while the two dogs played tug of war with the stick. Their playful growling accompanied him to the door of Hogwarts and he was smiling when he stepped inside, despite the fact he was a mess. Draco ran lightly up a staircase and ducked through a corridor, winding his way through the labyrinthine halls to the Prefect´s bathroom which was located right near the statue of Boris the Bewildered. He knocked twice to ensure that no one was inside. He´d already walked in on Granger once and gotten a bar of soap thrown at his head for his troubles. That girl had wicked aim.

“Gillyweed.’ The password was Potter´s which wasn´t surprising considering the Gryffindor´s Third Task, though Draco had been taken aback that Potter had finally managed to get over the Tri-Wizard Tournament enough to consider it as a password. Not that he cared one way or another of course.

The bathroom was quiet and empty and Draco took the time to flush the toilet, making sure that Moaning Myrtle was no where around. The pervy ghost was quite the peeping tom. He´d learned that lesson the hard way too. “Hello.’ He called to the bathroom´s sole portrait. The blonde mermaid giggled, flashing her fins and tossing her head so her hair flew back over her shoulder, exposing her torso in all it´s bare glory. He winked, which made the mermaid fan herself with her fins, blushing all the while. She never spoke, which was a relief to many prefects, because who wanted the sort of gossip a bathroom portrait had to offer going around the castle?

Draco ignored her and set about turning on his favorite taps and filling up the bath with hot water. He shrugged out of his Quidditch robes and unbuckled his protective gear, peeling off the layers of sweaty leather and cotton. He´d managed to get all the way down to his trousers when a knock sounded. “What is now?’ He asked irritably, moving towards the door. He opened it to find Potter standing there flustered and panting, like he´d been doing laps around the lake. “What do you want, Scarface? Can´t you see I´m busy?’

“Let me in Malfoy! Hurry!’ Draco stared at the other prefect in shock.

“What? No, go away you prat. Hey!’ Potter pushed past him, ducking inside and sending the mermaid into fits of giggles. He shut the door behind him despite Draco´s protests. “Get out of here, right now Potter! I mean it!’

“I can´t Malfoy! Christ, hide me!’

“What the bloody hell are you -’ Someone started pounding on the door and Malfoy turned to stare at Potter questioningly while the Gryffindor wrung his hands and generally looked like a hunted animal. What a gormless git. Potter looked panicked and he gazed at Draco pleadingly, his pretty green eyes all large and dewy.

Draco made a sudden rash decision. “Right then, in you go.’ He pressed a side panel firmly and it popped open, revealing a large cupboard full of extra towels. He bundled the other boy in and shut the door firmly behind him, shaking his head in disbelief at his own actions. “You owe me one.’ He hissed at the panel before heading towards the door again to answer it. He hoped Potter suffocated to death in it, scrunched up in the cupboard like a disobedient house elf.

“What is it?’ He said coldly, careful to keep the startled look off his face when he saw who it was. Creepy Creevy was attempting to peer around him and inside the bathroom. Draco crossed his arms and glared, making the Gryffindor flinch back and wilt slightly. “I´m waiting.’ He raised one eyebrow haughtily in expectation.

“Is Harry in there?’

“Does it look like your precious Potter is in here? Why don´t you stalk him somewhere else, hmm? Some of us have things to do and if you haven´t noticed this is a prefects bathroom. You are not a prefect. So go away before I hex you halfway to Hogsmeade.’

“Have you seen him? I have to do my dare.’ Draco knew his brow furrowed in confusion because Creevy took one look at his puzzled expression and explained. “It was playing a muggle game called Truth or Dare with the other fifth years and I was dared to kiss him.’

Draco started laughing and couldn´t stop. He was snickering so hard he had to prop himself up against the doorway. “Oh, Keddle´s nettles! That´s rich!’ Creevy looked terribly put out which only made Draco laugh harder. “Sorry, no. I haven´t seen him at all.’ The snickers made a reappearance as Draco watched Creevy´s face fall. The fifth year was mulling around the hallway looking lost which just amused Draco more. “Good luck finding him though!’

He shut the door firmly before making his way towards the cupboard. A firm touch on the corner of the panel made it pop open again and Potter tumbled out. “Is he gone?’

“He´s not knocking on the door anymore if that´s what you mean, but I think he´s prowling the hallway still. Don´t fancy snogging Creevy eh? Not that I blame you really.’

“It´s not funny Malfoy.’ Potter glowered.

“Sure it is. The big brave Gryffindor hero running scared from his obsessive squeaky stalker boy? That´s hilarious.’ Apparently Potter didn´t see the humor, but that wasn´t anything new. And why hadn´t he left yet? “And you can get out now, I need to bathe.’

“Colin´s still out there!’ Potter said, his eyes wide with panic. “He tried to suck my face off! No way am I leaving ‘til I know he´s gone.’

“Lovely show of Gryffindor courage there, but I´m desperately in need of a wash and I don´t fancy having an audience. So if you don´t mind…’ Draco looked pointedly towards the door.

Potter looked torn then resolved and made a move for the door when a loud, high pitched voice echoed outside in the hallway. “Dean! Dean, have you seen Harry? I know he´s around here somewhere!’ Potter halted in his tracks, backing away quickly.

“No way, Malfoy. I´m not leaving. Not until Colin´s gone.’ His voice was firm with determination. Draco considered pushing the point, but he couldn´t blame Potter for running away from Creevy. Draco would too and Potter was straight on top of it all. Rolling his eyes, Draco merely started unlacing his Quidditch uniform trousers. He might as well start on that bath if Potter wouldn´t leave. “Malfoy!’ Came Potter´s scandalized voice.

“What? Look the other way if it bothers you so much. Not like you haven´t been in a locker room before. You´re such a prude, Potter.’

“I am not a prude.’ Said the Gryffindor mutinously as he stared at a bit of wall.

Draco slid into the bath, sighing at the warm water that enveloped him. “Ha. You can´t even look at Chang without blushing. You probably can´t even wank off without turning seven shades of red.’ He said lazily, swishing the water around with a lax hand. His muscles eased a bit at the heat, relaxing him.

Potter spluttered quite unattractively and Draco watched him with a raised eyebrow. “You-I. That´s-. Shut up Malfoy! I´d rather be a prude than a pervert.’

“Heard of my exploits then, have you?’ Draco asked unconcernedly, turning on a tap for some foamy soap. Not that he´d really had any exploits (aside from a few tame snogging sessions with Cornfoot), unless one listened to the Hogwarts gossip grapevine which was all bunk anyway. But Potter didn´t have to know that.

“Exploits? No, don´t tell me. I don´t even want to know. I meant that you´re the one selling all that pornography is all.’

“You think that´s me?’ Draco asked delightedly. That was a huge scale operation that required a great deal of creativity, organization, and discretion. He was flattered Potter thought he could pull it off. “Unfortunately, it´s not. You´d be surprised just how profitable it is though. I know someone who knows someone though if you want to place an order. It´s where I get all my wank mags from.’

“Okay, too much information Malfoy.’

“You brought it up.’ Draco reminded him, scrubbing his hair with the mint scented shampoo. “And you just proved my point with your prudishness. Masturbation is not a dirty word.’

“Oh shut up, pervert.’ And when had Draco ever listened to him? Potter couldn´t really expect him to start now, could he?

“So, I hear you´ve been snogging Chang.’

“I may be stuck here, but that doesn´t mean we need to have an actual conversation.’ Potter said, kicking his heel against the marble floor.

“Well, you are here. And I was generous enough to hide you from Creevy if you would care to remember. So you might as well entertain me.’ Draco ducked his head to rinse out the shampoo and went for the conditioner. “And anyway, I know Chang´s seeing Moon. So how does it feel to be the other woman?’ Draco couldn´t stop the smirk that crossed his face when Potter glared at him.

“Cho isn´t actually seeing him. She´s just… you know. Dating. She isn´t ready for a serious relationship yet.’ Draco stared at him in disbelief. “What?’

“You actually buy that? If someone told me that I´d dump them straight away. Preferably in a public place in the loudest and most humiliating manner possible. She´s walking all over you Potter and you´re letting her.’ Draco said disgustedly, pausing to wash the conditioner out of his hair.

“This is weird. You´re giving me advice on my love life.’

“I´m imparting my superior knowledge to an ignorant plebe. Nothing out of the ordinary there.’

Potter made a sour face and stood up, creeping over to the door. He opened it a bit and shut it quickly, obviously spotting Creevy. “Like you have room to talk. Pansy´s getting married to someone else, isn´t she? I overheard you two this summer.’

“You mean you were eavesdropping.’ Draco sent him a significant look and Potter at least had the grace to look abashed. “And that´s different. For one thing, Pansy isn´t my girlfriend. She´s more like an annoying sister. And for another, she has to marry a rich pureblood if she wants to have a nice life. She really isn´t allowed to marry for love. Her older brother is inheriting the Parkinson estate which pretty much leaves her with nothing.’

“Oh. Really?’

“Really. I probably shouldn´t be telling you, but it´s a common enough scenario with the daughters of aristocrats. Not that you would know.’ They sat there quietly while Draco washed, only a few splashes from the water and giggles from the mermaid to fill the silence.

“Er. So, um. Have you heard about the latest Chudley Cannon´s game?’

“I don´t need to. Let me guess, the Cannons lost, right?’ Draco sneered, having just come up from a dive in time to hear. He pulled himself out of bathtub, water sluicing off his pale skin. Potter averted his gaze quickly, his ears turning pink. Draco glanced at him bemusedly before finding a towel and starting to dry himself off. “What was the score anyway?’ He asked casually, reaching up to towel off his hair. A few drops wound their way down from his neck past his shoulders, leaving wet paths down his chest and stomach before hitting his impossibly soft golden pubic curls.

“Oh. Uh, two hundred and twenty to sexy. I mean, sixty.’ The blush migrated from Potter´s ears to his cheeks and gained a bit more color.

“Uh huh.’ He slung the towel back around his hips and watched Potter sigh with relief. Maybe Potter wasn´t quite so straight after all. The thought made him smirk. Draco opened another cupboard and pulled out his spare school uniform he´d put there for just this reason. He dropped the towel in favor of tugging on his trousers and buttoned them up before reaching for his shirt. “So, I heard about Finnigan and Thomas. No wonder Patil was ready to claw his eyes out.’ He quickly pulled on his socks and shoes, nudging his dirty Quidditch uniform into a pile. If he left it there he knew the house elves would launder it and return it to his room.

“Yeah, she was steaming mad. But I´m pretty sure she´ll get over it. She´s already got her eye on someone else or at least that´s what Hermione says.’

“I wouldn´t be surprised.’ Draco commented as he buttoned up his shirt and tucked it in. He whipped his tie out and put it on, knotting it quickly with nimble fingers. He pulled on his Slytherin sweater vest before adjusting his collar and cuffs.

“Aren´t you going to make a comment about it? I mean, you´re not known for your tolerance.’ Potter´s words had an acidic undertone. Draco reached for his black school robes and pulled them on, letting them settle around him.

“It would be a bit hypocritical of me wouldn´t it? Considering the fact I´m homosexual.’ Potter gaped, his mouth opening and shutting like a fish.

“But you - you´re gay? Really?’

“Why do you think I was disowned?’ Draco said, pretending nonchalance. It was no secret; his father had obviously told a few people and they in turn had informed their children. Pucey had confronted him about it and asked Draco quite nicely if he would consider using the Prefect´s bathroom instead of the showers because a few of the boys were uncomfortable with sharing the facilities with him. Draco had agreed easily enough; the Prefect´s bathroom was much nicer anyway.

So a few individuals did know for a fact that he preferred males. That particular rumor had already made the rounds around Hogwarts, but had died out quickly considering most people mistakenly thought he and Pansy were an item. Potter would find out one way or another soon enough and in the meantime one thing Draco didn´t need was a suspicious Gryffindor on his tail asking annoying questions about his home life or at least his sudden lack of one.

“Oh.’ Said Potter, obviously dumbstruck. Draco snorted and opened up his spare jar of hair gel, intent on gelling his hair back. A few wisps were falling into his face in a most annoying manner. “Don´t!’ The Gryffindor blurted out, making Draco pause. He swiveled to look at Potter. “It um. It looks better like that. Don´t slick it back.’

“Well,’ Draco said slowly. “If you insist.’

“Er.’ Said Potter, as eloquent as usual. Draco sent Potter a sly, flirtatious smirk and was pleased to see the Gryffindor blush a brilliant red. His throat was even flushed which made Draco wonder just how far down the blush traveled. He diverted that train of thought quickly, uneasy with where it was going.

“I´m off to get a bite to eat. Have fun hiding in the bathroom from Creevy.’ Draco said sarcastically before exiting the bathroom with his Nimbus 2001 in hand. He waved jauntily to the searching fifth year Gryffindor on his way down the hall, snickering when Creevy turned eagerly at the sound of a door opening only to sigh when it ended up being a pair of Hufflepuff girls. Oh Pansy would get a kick out of this, though Draco wasn´t about to tell her anytime soon.

A Slytherin had to keep a few secrets after all.

Draco had a habit of napping in his History of Magic class; in fact it got to the point where just entering the classroom had a soporific effect on him. However, he was a Slytherin and he wanted to pass the class so he used a Quick Quotes Quill set on ‘accurate´ instead of the ‘propaganda´ that Skeeter had hers on and let it faithfully record Binns´ every word. Technically, he wasn´t allowed to do that, but Binns wasn´t exactly the most observant teacher around and if Draco actually tuned into his monotone lectures it made him feel like his brain was rotting. The fact it was one of the only classes the Slytherins had with Hufflepuffs only made it more tedious.

McGonagall cleared her throat, causing Draco´s eyes to open. “Mr. Malfoy, the Headmaster requires your presence. Please come with me.’ Draco glanced to Binns who hadn´t even paused in his boring lecture and then at the Deputy Headmistress who had pursed her lips in a thin, disapproving line. He gathered his things quickly, stuffing them in his bag and followed the Transfiguration teacher out of the class. A few curious students craned their necks to watch him leave and Pansy was biting her lip nervously, looking more worried than usual. He cast her a quick, reassuring smile before the door shut. The trip to the Headmaster´s office was a quiet one.

They finally reached what appeared to be a stone gargoyle and McGonagall said the password in a dignified manner at direct odds with the ridiculousness of her words. “Peppermint Toad.’ They made their way up the staircase, the professor in the lead. Finally, they reached a door that McGonagall opened quickly before ushering Draco in. The Slytherin looked around him, impressed with the organized chaos of the room, not to mention the magical items scattered about so casually.

“Hello Mr. Malfoy. Please, take a seat.’ Draco did so, peering at the brilliant plumage of the sleeping phoenix perched in the corner. He smoothed his robes nervously as McGonagall exited the room with a purposeful air. Dumbledore looked unusually grim, the typical twinkle in his eyes no where to be found. Draco was forcibly reminded of the fact that this wizard was one of two people that Voldemort actually feared and that he´d defeated another Dark Lord in his prime. Draco felt an inkling of respect for the Headmaster and straightened his posture automatically.

“What can I help you with Headmaster?’ He asked smoothly, wondering just what the bloody hell he was doing here. The last time he´d had a meeting with the Headmaster had been when he´d made a huge fuss about that hippogriff and even then he hadn´t had to visit Dumbledore´s office; they´d discussed the situation in Snape´s office instead.

“I´d like to ask you a few questions. Where were you Saturday afternoon?’

“Practicing for Quidditch.’ Draco said uneasily. “I was out on the pitch until about…’ He paused, thinking. “Maybe three and then I headed back for a bath.’

“Mmmm.’ The Headmaster said, studying Draco inscrutably over the edge of his half moon spectacles. The portraits of previous Headmasters were critically scrutinizing the Slytherin, murmuring amongst themselves quietly.

“Am I in trouble?’ Because it certainly seemed that way.

“Let me explain the situation. Last night Professor Sprout went into the Forbidden forest to collect Mooncalf dung. During her expedition, she found the bodies of three mooncalves, all of them horribly mutilated. The wards were undisturbed so the perpetrator was already on the Hogwarts grounds. We did find tracks leading back to the school, but none of them were fresh. Apparently, the poor creatures were dragged out of the burrows some time Saturday afternoon between the hours of two and four. Hagrid saw you near his cabin at three and the ghost of Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington saw you enter the castle at three forty five. That leaves you forty five minutes of free time unaccounted for.’

“You think I did it?!’ Draco said, outraged. “I acknowledge the fact I may not have the most pleasant of personalities, but I´m certainly not a sadistic animal torturer, either! And do you think I´m completely stupid? I would never enter the Forbidden Forest willingly! Seeing Voldemort killing a unicorn via exsanguination during detention with Hagrid at the age of eleven certainly put me off that idea, thank you very much.’ Dumbledore simply watched him rant on angrily, waving his arms about for emphasis, with what seemed to Draco a heartless amount of aplomb.

“Mr. Malfoy. Do you, or do you not, have an alibi?’ Still feeling upset and now fairly embarrassed, Draco murmured something. “A bit louder, if you would.’

“I was playing fetch with Fang and Lupin´s mutt.’ He said sullenly and wasn´t gratified in the least at Dumbledore´s startled blinking. “Not that it´s of any use because they certainly can´t vouch for me, now can they?’

Dumbledore beamed at him, the twinkles suddenly reappearing. “That will do nicely, my boy. If you leave now you can make it just in time for Ancient Runes. Off you go! And take a lemon drop with you.’

Draco left, lemon drop in hand, shaking his head as he made his way lightly down the stairs. “What an absolute nutter. He probably will ask Fang to vouch for me. And for a second there I honestly thought he wasn´t as barmy as a blue banana.’ So much for that theory, he thought as he popped the sweet into his mouth.

The rest of the week was inexplicably peaceful as far as life threatening events went, though a few more dead animals were found on the Hogwarts grounds. Some were disemboweled, others skinned alive or missing vital parts of their anatomy. Draco wasn´t bothered with questions again, though a few Gryffindors had been eyeing him suspiciously. Weasley had even had the temerity to call him the culprit, despite the fact that Draco was utterly innocent, the wanker. Other than that, things had gone surprisingly smoothly. It didn´t last long of course, it never did. However, when the situation finally turned nasty it do so to an extreme degree.

Draco made his way towards his room, his broomstick slung over one shoulder and his hair unusually windblown from his extra Quidditch practice. The Ravenclaw game was coming up next week and Draco was determined to win. At any rate, it was almost time for dinner and he´d been set on changing his clothes and straightening himself up before entering the Great Hall. On the way, he brushed past Gernot Adder, a seventh year Slytherin exchange student from Durmstrang. The other boy reeked of sex and Draco watched him walk away with a raised eyebrow. His curiosity getting the better of him, he slipped inside the Slytherin common room and was startled to see Peony Parkinson huddled on the sofa.

“Hey, Peony. Did you see-’ His words cut off abruptly when Peony raised her tear stained face towards Draco. He felt a rushing sound fill his ears and automatically checked the younger girl over for injuries. He noted a sprained wrist, several bruises on her arms and face, and a fair bit of blood staining her torn robes in a detached manner. She´d obviously been raped and Draco felt his vision go blurry when the bruises on her neck started to appear slowly. Pansy´s sister was sobbing, muttering something about death threats and it being all her fault and Draco reassured her, though he couldn´t for the life of him figure out what he was saying. He bundled the girl off to the loo with orders to visit Madame Pomfrey directly afterwards and collected his broom.

He hadn´t even realized his destination until he threw open the doors of the great hall. Broom still in hand he approached Adder and, with a great deal of force, dealt the older Slytherin a blow to the head. Adder hadn´t been expecting it and Draco was Slytherin enough to take advantage of the other boy´s oblivious state. Something cracked, be it bone or broomstick, and Draco tossed away the useless weapon before throwing another punch.

Cacophony sounded around him, but Draco barely heard anything above the steady pounding of his pulse in his temples. His world had narrowed to pounding Adder´s face in and he did an admirable job of it, turning that smug face into what amounted to raw meat. He didn´t even feel the returning blows Adder landed, so intent was he on drawing blood. He knew the teachers were casting spells at him, but some part of his magic was unleashed and the spells only bounced back. A few glass goblets shattered in the hall, sprinkling students with broken glass. With a snarl twisting his face he straddled Adder and started choking the life out of him. Draco was never one for silent wrath, but he was beyond his usual anger and in a place that was pure unadulterated rage.

Someone pulled him off the other boy, securing his arms so that he couldn´t escape and Draco lunged for Adder again, not even feeling the distant pain of his shoulder being pulled. “I´m going to kill you, do you understand me you bastard? I´m going to fucking well kill you for what you did to her, do you hear me?!’ Draco´s voice was laced so thickly with venom it was almost intelligible and he blatantly ignored McGonagall who was raging at him several feet away. “You won´t get away with it if I have to hunt you down myself you mudblood cunt!’

“Mr. Malfoy! A hundred points from Slytherin for this inexcusable behavior!’ Dumbledore was standing up and surveying the scene with calm resolve while the students shouted and whispered amongst themselves urgently. Adder was staggering to his feet, glaring daggers at Draco and Greg was holding the silver haired Slytherin back with his arms pinioned to the side to prevent him from launching himself at the other boy.

“You think you can stop me! She begged you know, begged me to bugger her blind.’ Draco lunged forward silently, red staining his vision. Greg wrestled him back with surprising difficulty, his meaty hands digging into Draco´s skin and leaving bruises.

Snape swept onto the scene, his robes billowing out behind him. “Explain yourself right now, both of you.’ Came the icy order. Draco turned to spit out an explanation, but Adder realized exactly what he was about to do and panicked. It might have been the concussion or perhaps just the enraged mortification from getting his face beaten in by a sixth year Slytherin half his size, but the other boy didn´t even hesitate to whip out his wand and cast something at Draco.

“Crucio!’ And Draco´s world faded away, reality replaced with unimaginable pain that burned his bones and boiled his blood. His body went rigid, his eyes rolling back in his head and he screamed, his voice ripped right out of his throat. Even his father, Death Eater that he was, had never gone so far as to cast this on his son. Greg was holding him solidly as Draco writhed in his grip, though Draco was only aware of the furious pain that burnt itself into the very marrow of his bones. A snapping sound echoed throughout the hall and Draco went limp in Greg´s arms, his screams falling silent. He caught a glimpse of a white faced Snape holding a broken wand in his hand and then his head lolled to the side of its own accord. His eyesight was wavering in and out, but he caught a glimpse of Potter who was poised to leap over the Gryffindor table. His brilliant green eyes were dark with some unknown emotion and his face, like Snape´s, was as white as bone. Their eyes locked for a brief moment.

Then everything went mercifully dark.

When Draco finally reached consciousness he felt like he´d been trampled by a herd of Hippogriffs. He literally ached all over. Even his eyelashes hurt. The Slytherin groaned and managed to sit up with a minimum of pain, though it had cost him a maximum amount of effort.

“How are you feeling Draco?’ He turned, not without some difficulty, to see Snape sitting next to his bed. He looked as composed as always, his hands folded gracefully in his lap.

“Take a wild guess.’ Draco croaked, giving his Head of House a sullen look.

“Ah, I thought so. Do you remember what happened?’ Draco thought back and felt the rage boiling up inside him again. He felt a niggling worry and took the effort to rasp out a question.

“How´s Peony?’

“As well as can be expected. The Parkinsons have taken her home to help her rest and recuperate. It´s the best place for her to be right now.’ Draco couldn´t help but agree. A thought occurred to him.

“And Adder? He was expelled, wasn´t he?’ It was implicit that Draco was going to raise seven kinds of hell if he hadn´t been.

“Yes, he was expelled. The Ministry is holding him for questioning about his use of the Dark Arts. Apparently, he is the one responsible for the various animal remains found. Two other girls have come forward to say that he assaulted them too. At any rate, its highly unlikely we´ll see Mr. Adder again.’

There was a heavy pause. “As far as your punishment goes, you cost Slytherin one hundred and fifty points as well as volunteered yourself as my lab assistant for the rest of the year.’ Which meant detention whenever Snape needed an extra set of hands for his potions. Lovely. But, on the whole, better than expulsion.

“Is that all?’ Draco asked warily.

Snape studied his slender student. “You also gave him a concussion, broke his nose, and cracked three of his ribs.’

Draco felt a dark satisfaction welling up in him. Still, he wished he´d killed the bastard, Azkaban be damned. Though Draco really didn´t mean it he couldn´t help but think it at least once. If he´d had his wand instead of his broomstick there was no telling what he might have done to the other boy. He certainly had a lot of nasty, illegal dark curses tucked away in his brain and he´d been so angry he probably wouldn´t have hesitated to cast them in public. Luckily, he´d been coming in from Quidditch practice instead of finishing up his Transfiguration homework. “I was angry.’ He muttered.

Snape snorted. “That is quite the understatement. You certainly have the Malfoy temper. Your grandfather Augustus once dismembered a thief he caught attempting to rob Malfoy Manor you know.’

Draco sent him a look that clearly said “So?’ It wasn´t an unusual reaction among landowning aristocratic wizards after all; there was any number of spells for it.

“With his bare hands.’ Snape amended and Draco scrunched his nose up in disgust.

“Oh, eurgh.’

Madame Pomfrey bustled in, all efficient professionalism. “Don´t badger my patients Severus. Here you go Draco, drink this.’ Far too tired to argue, Draco complied and swallowed the contents of the vial handed to him. It tasted revolting of course; all useful potions did. “You did quite a number on Adder. I compliment you on a job well done. Try and get some rest, dear.’ Draco stared after her in bewilderment before turning to Snape. Not only had she actually told him she approved of his actions, but she´d called him by his given name which was certainly a first.

“Poppy has strong opinions on how rapists should be punished.’ Draco opened his mouth to question the Potions Master further when Snape headed him off. “You do realize that you broke your broomstick on Adder´s head and the next Quidditch match against Ravenclaw is next week, don´t you?’

Draco´s eyes widened and he covered his face with his hand, moaning. “Oh no! I´m never going to beat Chang to the snitch on a school broom! What are we going to do? Slytherin just has to win the Quidditch Cup this year.’

“Mr. Parkinson felt the need to repay you for your… retribution on Mr. Adder. He is willing to buy you a new Quicksilver to replace your broken broom. I advise you to accept his generous offer.’

“A Quicksilver?! A Quicksilver?’

Snape´s lips twitched. “Yes, Draco. A Quicksilver. Are you going to accept it?’

“Of course! It´s a Quicksilver! That´s literally an offer too good to be refused.’ Quicksilvers were even more expensive than Firebolts and Draco knew those cost a small fortune. Of course, Mr. Parkinson could well afford it. And Draco certainly couldn´t scrape up enough money to buy a decent broom to replace his Nimbus 2001 and still manage to survive next summer, never mind the best there was. The Parkinsons were one of the few families who had wisely invested in Gringotts and as such were extravagantly wealthy. All Draco knew was that they owned more than the two vaults the Malfoy fortune boasted, though Pansy refused to tell him just how many they did have. The cost of his broom wouldn´t even put a dent in their savings.

“I´ll inform Mr. Parkinson that you accepted his offer.’

“Potter´s going to be positively green!’ Draco cackled, unable to help himself.

Snape smiled slyly. “The thought did cross my mind when I suggested it to Mr. Parkinson.’

This was wonderful and Snape, the wily bastard, was a bloody genius! Of course, Draco was upset that he´d only gotten his dream broom at the expense of Peony, but at least something good had come from such a terrible situation. It took a great deal of effort to push away the gloomy guilt at savoring the pleasure of receiving a new broom while the younger girl had been so hurt before he cheered himself up with the thought of how he´d beat Potter to the snitch. At least there was an upside and Draco couldn´t afford to feel guilty about it when he had a Quidditch Cup to win. He was sure that Snape agreed, genius that he was.

“I could kiss you if I didn´t find the thought so utterly repulsive. No offense. Maybe I´ll have Pansy do it for me.’

“I doubt Miss Parkinson would thank you for volunteering her services.’ Snape said dryly, obviously hiding his amusement.

Draco waved his hand negligently at the Potions Master. “She wouldn´t mind half so much as you would think. I don´t even pretend to understand it. Girls are so bloody bizarre.’ His words became a bit slurred towards the end of his sentence and his eyelids began to lower.

“I think Poppy´s concoction is starting to set in. I´ll have Mr. Zabini go around to collect your homework and bring it to you. You need to get your rest. Draco?’ But Draco was already asleep, his mouth softened and slightly open as he snored quietly. Snape tucked the blanket around his favorite pupil carefully before leaving the Infirmary to make his trek down to the dungeons. Draco slept on, oblivious.

When Draco woke up the second time he was feeling marginally better and fairly hungry. Some kind soul had provided him with a hot dinner and he ate it with gusto. When he finally pushed the dirty plates away he was unsurprised at the way they mysteriously vanished from sight, having grown up with house elves. Draco stretched out and grimaced at the tiny aches and pains he felt, but it was a considerable improvement on the bundle of raw nerves he had been before.

He turned to his bed side table and was cheered to see it overflowing with sweets. There were the usual goodies from his Slytherin friends, as well as a letter from Mr. Parkinson thanking him for taking action against Peony´s assaulter as well as informing him that next weekend he had a meeting with a Quicksilver agent where he would do various tests to provide the information that would personalize his broom. He felt excitement well up inside him as well as another twinge of guilt, but he shrugged it off. There was nothing he could do for Peony now and he´d already earned himself what amounted to a year´s worth of detention for what he had done.

The Slytherin sorted through his get well gifts, pleased at the amount of sweets he´d been given. There was also a letter from Pansy that he skimmed through quickly. It was sappy, but heartfelt and Draco winced before setting it aside next to her father´s note. There was even a singing get well card from the Weasley wench that made his eyebrows raise, as well as a tin of lemon drops from Dumbledore.

Best of all though was the model Hungarian Horntail that reminded Draco of the dragon Potter had flown circles around during the Tri-Wizard tournament. He examined it carefully, unable to prevent the genuine smile that spread across his face. Then he saw the note.


I thought this was oddly appropriate. Hope you enjoy it. Get better soon you prat.


Draco snickered and folded the note carefully, setting it underneath the model dragon. He was sure it had been a spur of the moment gift, but he didn´t mind. It was a gorgeous representation of a Hungarian Horntail; sleek, black, and dangerous looking despite its small scale. Definitely the most thoughtful gift he´d received.

Maybe he´d even send a thank you note, if only to see the look on Potter´s face when he got it. Draco settled back in for a badly needed nap, a smile still curving his lips as he drifted off to sleep.

The Quicksilver agent was a mild mannered man with wispy brown hair and thick spectacles. Despite his unassuming looks, he was completely professional and obviously intelligent, running Draco through his paces and marking down the results on a small book with his quill. Barry Appleburr, the leading Quicksilver specialist, had brought a testing broom with him for the session as well as a cornucopia of odd devices that he fiddled with occasionally. He instructed Draco do to a variety of things, watching the maneuvers with a hawk´s eye. Draco demonstrated his grip, flying technique, several rolls, a few feints and a load of other drills, some common and others more unique. Pretty soon he was automatically doing what the agent said as his brain had shut off from sheer boredom.

He had tried to get a glimpse of the book earlier to see what it said and if any of the comments were complimentary, but Appleburr´s written remarks were largely made up of complicated symbols. At any rate, after three hours Draco´s enthusiasm had been sharply curbed and he was more than happy just to escape the man´s clutches. Snape escorted him back to Hogwarts, since it wasn´t an official Hogsmeade weekend, and Appleburr made his way back to the Quicksilver workshop where they would craft Draco´s new broom. The very thought was exciting of course, but the Seeker forced the bubbling enthusiasm down in front of Snape´s cool amusement. He hated being laughed at.

Draco sauntered, almost strutted really, into the Great Hall just in time for lunch, smirking smugly at Chang who, in the face of his overwhelming confidence, started to look worried. Oh yes, she´d be eating Bludger by the time the Slytherin team got through with her. “How´d it go, Drake?’

“Don´t call me that Baddock!’ Draco snapped, in perfect time with Greg who turned to land a solid punch to the other boy´s arm. After all, as his supposed goons, Goyle and Crabbe weren´t just for show.

“Okay ouch. Someone´s in a mood.’

“It´s your own fault. You know I hate nicknames.’

“Well, I do now.’ Baddock rubbed at his sore arm and shot Goyle a hard look before turning back to the Slytherin prefect. “So, you gonna tell us the big secret? We´re all wondering why Snape escorted you off school grounds.’

Draco smirked smugly and took his seat near the head of the table, flanked on one side by Crabbe and Pansy on the other. “It wouldn´t be a secret if I told you, now would it? Don´t worry, it´s going to be a good surprise.’ Pansy rolled her eyes at Draco´s melodramatics, but didn´t tease him about it beyond that. Draco shot a satisfied look at the Head girl. “Well, for Slytherin House anyway. Pass me the potatoes, if you would.’

Draco adored Quidditch matches. He loved the game for itself, but the matches were an entirely different matter and wonderful in a completely different way. Dressed to the nines in his tailored Quidditch uniform, Draco sauntered onto the pitch in all his Slytherin glory. His hair was slicked back even more than usual to prevent any flyaway wisps from distracting him or impairing his vision and his protective leather gear was oiled to a shine. Gasps sounded in the crowd as everyone got their first glimpse of his new Quicksilver. The broom was made of pale, highly polished birch and the brand name and serial number was engraved in silver on the handle. He could feel the sun beating down on him and knew, with vain certainty, that it made both his hair and broom glow brilliantly.

Draco was reveling in all the attention, flashing a wicked smirk at the crowd as he walked to the center of the pitch with his team. He felt dwarfed by his bulkier teammates, though he had grown considerably in comparison to the short scrawny boy he´d been in second year. He was flanked on either side by Crabbe and Goyle, the Slytherin beaters, whose bulk only emphasized his smaller stature. Their new Keeper, Pritchard was from a younger year and the only one on the team who didn´t tower over Draco. He exchanged a grin with Draco before they turned their attention to the lecturing Madame Hooch who kept shooting the Slytherins meaningful looks whenever she mentioned fair play. The Ravenclaws across from them were listening intently, conditioned to absorb any scrap of information no matter how trivial or useless.

Draco could feel hundreds of eyes on him and relished the sensation of being the center of attention. It shifted slightly when the Captains stepped forward, Davies and Pucey shaking hands amiably enough. The cheering echoed through the stadium and died down quickly. Then the match was on and Draco took to the skies on his Quicksilver, moving through the air easily. The Quicksilver was beautifully responsive and luckily Snape had given him permission to practice on it after hours so that he´d been able to accustom himself to it after years of flying a slower broom. He flashed Chang a cocky smirk and darted off towards the middle of the pitch where he started surveying the area for any sudden flashes of gold. In the background Dean Thomas droned on, far more unbiased than Jordan had ever been. And less engaging, but Draco didn´t really care as long as he didn´t bash the Slytherin team so blatantly.

Chang appeared on Draco´s left, floating in mid air and squinting about vainly in search of the Snitch. Draco ducked an incoming bludger from a Ravenclaw beater and spiraled down in a quick, tight corkscrew dive that his old Nimbus 2001 could never have pulled off. He leveled out neatly, unable to contain his exuberant grin at the perfect execution, and made his way towards the side of the pitch just in time to avoid Goyle´s attempt to hit Chang with another bludger. The Ravenclaw Seeker rolled away in time, though her team still got a penalty shot for it.

Draco circled his way around the pitch while Chang, still shaken, gathered herself. He flew past the Slytherin tower to the delight of the giggling third year girls. Pansy whistled at him loudly from the stands and Draco did a little pirouette on his broom for her, which made the younger girls squeal. He made sure to flash Potter a gloating smirk as he passed by the Gryffindor seats. He also managed to ignore the hissing Ravenclaws. He spent a lot of time circling the pitch in search of that annoying little golden winged ball, wondering when the damn thing would finally make an appearance. The two teams were almost even in points at the moment, though the Slytherin Keeper looked like he was starting to tire slightly.

Then Draco saw a flash of something out of the corner of his eye and whipped around, setting off towards the snitch so quickly his eyes grew wet from the harsh wind the movement caused. The snitch fluttered for a moment as Draco neared it and then zoomed off with the Slytherin Seeker right behind it. Chang had caught sight of Draco´s quick darting movements and followed on his tail a whole broom length behind. The snitch veered downwards and Draco followed it relentlessly, diving after it at break neck speeds. The Ravenclaw Seeker pushed her broom to the limits, drawing even with Draco´s elbow as they made their way downwards. Draco reached out, griping his broomstick tightly between his legs and snapped his broom to the side using the well toned muscles of his thighs, stomach, arse, and lower back to propel himself into a diagonal sweep in a completely different trajectory that brought him forward just enough to grasp the dodging snitch.

Whooping loudly, he made a jaunty little loop and held up the winged ball fluttering in his gloved grip. The Slytherins roared their approval, Pansy´s shrill catcalls echoing loudly in the stadium. Chang, still stuck in her original dive, slowed down and landed with a grimace. Draco followed in one long, showy spiral. The celebration at winning the first game of the season would probably last until the wee hours of the morning. As Draco´s teammates clapped him on the back and playfully carried him on their broad, hulking shoulders he couldn´t help but think it was a good omen of the things to come the rest of the year.

Draco leaned back in his seat, pushing the heavy tome he´d been pouring over away from him and rubbing his tired eyes. He´d been throwing himself into the dusty books in an attempt to aid his research. It was a necessary part of his plans for his future and he needed it to make the potions he was set on creating. Being Snape´s official lab assistant (and unofficial apprentice) helped him greatly in this endeavor, considering the fact he had access to the Potion Master´s stores and advice.

“Are you still in here? You completely missed lunch Draco. You should take better care of yourself.’ The Slytherin looked up to see Pansy staring back at him resolutely and he waved her concerns away.

“Don´t fuss, Pansy. I simply got caught up in my work.’

She scoffed, taking a seat at the table across from him. Madame Pince gave them a quick, cursory glance at hearing the sound before moving towards the other side of the library to help a Hufflepuff fourth year who looked helplessly lost. “You´ve been caught up in your work for a while now. I don´t think you even noticed All Hallow´s Eve. You didn´t even help us with the pranks on Hufflepuff House.’

“I helped plan them, didn´t I?’

“That´s not the point.’ She said patiently. “You´ve been working too hard. I´m worried, we´re all worried, about how focused you´ve been lately. It´s not like you. All work and no play makes Draco a dull boy.’

Draco rolled his eyes and leaned back, stretching and then lacing his fingers together and resting his hands at the nape of his neck. “All work and no play makes Draco a rich, successful boy you mean. I don´t have time for fun and games. Between school, prefect duties, Quidditch practice, Snape´s slave driving, and my own projects I really don´t have time for recreational activities. You know that Pansy.’

“What I know is that you need to go out and have some fun. Or at the very least get laid.’

“Was that an offer?’ Draco drawled, one eyebrow raised invitingly. Draco might have been gay, but he was willing to flirt with anything that moved. It was all in jest of course and Pansy knew that. However, the rest of the library didn´t and a few eavesdroppers started giggling or spluttering, depending on just how repressed they were.

“Don´t be ridiculous. You need to get out some. And if you don´t, I´ll make you sorry for it Draco Lucius Augustus Malfoy.’ He shifted uncomfortably at the full use of his name, but refused to relent.

“I´d like to see you try.’ He sneered before turning back to his book, ignoring the fuming girl across from him. Finally she stood up and huffily stormed out of the library, sweeping out of the room with her chin held high and almost trampling a first year Ravenclaw who barely managed to duck out of her way fast enough. Draco took a moment to feel a twinge of apprehension before he shook his head and directed his attention back to his task. Time was money and Draco needed as much of both as he could get so Pansy was just going to have to deal.

Draco shed his robes and slipped into his bed, yawning so widely his jaw almost cracked. He wriggled around, kicking off his shoes, socks, and trousers before shrugging out of his shirt and pushing his clothes to the floor. The clothes felt confining and he didn´t even want to consider getting up and walking the four feet it took to reach his pajamas. It wasn´t the first time he´d slept in the nude and he knew the house elves would keep the room warm enough for him. He was so tired his vision was blurring.

He´d been up late with Snape to help the Potions Master with the Wolfsbane potion, presumably for Professor Lupin as part of his lab assistant duties. Draco didn´t like the idea of a werewolf teaching at Hogwarts, but Lupin was certainly a sight better than a servant and host of the Dark Lord, a narcissistic fraud, a Death Eater, or a paranoid ex-Auror with an intense distrust of all things even remotely Slytherin. He´d had his full of being transfigured into rodents, though in all fairness that had been Barty Crouch Jr., but he couldn´t help thinking of Moody whenever the incident came to mind. Though the real Moody hadn´t been much better considering the fact he had followed Draco about, watching him with that creepy ass eye of his as if the Slytherin was going to commit a crime any second. Even a werewolf was better than that.

And if the potion could keep the Defense Against Dark Arts professor from becoming a slavering beast willing to rip his students to pieces Draco was going to damn well concentrate on the making the potion absolutely bloody perfect. It took a great deal of magical energy, concentration, careful timing, and skill; Draco was impressed that Snape had managed to brew it by himself before this. It was a far easier to brew with two people and even then the potion was a particularly difficult one.

Draco stretched like a cat on his bed, arching his back and extending his limbs before curling up under the blankets. He fell asleep immediately, too exhausted to hear the scrape of stones as the entrance to his room was opened or the quiet, furtive footsteps that followed fifteen minutes after his head had hit the pillow.

He was teased into consciousness much earlier than his previous late night warranted by the sunlight playing across his closed eyelids. Draco´s eyelashes fluttered and opened to let him squint into the brightness. He was warm and very comfortable and fairly upset that the sun had cut into his badly needed rest. He rolled over, throwing his arm around his bedmate before burrowing against the other for warmth and shutting his eyes again.

They popped back open a second later. Bedmate? He jerked back and realized immediately that he wasn´t in his own bed and that in fact the occupant of this particular bed was actually still in it. It took a massive amount of effort to bite back the girly scream that rose in his throat. Holy fucking horned toads, he cursed silently, struck dumb. Then curiosity got the best of him and he leaned forward to get a better look at the other person.

It was Potter and Draco didn´t know whether the jolt he felt upon seeing the other boy was surprise or ironic acknowledgment. Of course it was Potter, the bane of his existence, who else could it possibly be? His face was more vulnerable in sleep, his face bare of the usual bulky (and in Draco´s opinion horrid looking) glasses to reveal a bone structure that was at once strong and refined. Draco´s own aristocratic features were much too delicate in his opinion, his chin too pointed, his cheekbones too high, his skin too soft to ever be called handsome. ‘Pretty´ was one irritating term he´d heard before, along with the more flattering ‘striking´ and the ego-boosting ‘gorgeous´ a few had used to describe him on occasion. He´d always thought Potter was terribly common and plain for a hero, but on a closer inspection - a far closer inspection than he´d ever thought he´d get a chance to make - he was actually handsome.

Draco had never thought to attribute that particular description to Potter. Annoying, thick headed, sanctimonious, frustrating, infuriatingly lucky, skilled on a broom and even commendably determined at a pinch, but certainly not handsome. But he was. With a strong jaw, straight nose, lips that looked very soft and were pleasingly full, but not overly so, tan golden skin, glossy black hair that refused to be tamed, long sooty eyelashes, and a typical Seeker physique Potter was definitely worth a second glance. Or perhaps even a long stare. Much like the one Draco was giving him now, but he really couldn´t help it. Potter was tangled in the bed sheets, his simple cotton pajama top gaping open at the throat to reveal a lovely expanse of golden skin and even one perfect, flat, copper nipple. Draco leaned forward, the warm, musky scent of sleeping male enticing him. He was mere inches away when reality crashed through the dream-like state he´d been in and he jerked back quickly, his breath rapid with shock, adrenaline, and utter alarm.

What was he doing?! Had he completely lost his mind?

He scrambled away from Potter who mumbled something and shifted, moving his arm (lean and muscular, not to mention tan enough to make a pleasing contrast against the white linens and Circe´s tits he had to stop this!) a bit before he drifted back into sleep. Draco looked around wildly, thanking all the deities he could remember even if he didn´t believe in their existence that Potter had his own room and that the git had stayed asleep the whole time. He crept out of the bed and slid through the gap in the heavy crimson velvet curtains that had let in the sunlight that woke him earlier, panic still gripping him. He had woken up stark naked in Harry Potter´s bed of all places with no memory of how he´d gotten there. He was not a jolly June bug, as the saying went.

He was going to wring the neck of whoever did this to him just as soon as he managed to get out of this situation, preferably without the public humiliation that seemed ever more likely as the seconds ticked by. The Slytherin quietly slinked over to a likely looking dresser and managed to rustle up an approximation of clothing. Only an approximation mind you, considering they swallowed his lithe, slender frame whole and were absolutely hideous. Resolving to burn them at the first opportunity, Draco made his way out of the bedroom.

Potter´s sitting room was similar in Draco´s to appearance, though it was decorated in the Gyffindor colors with small accents of bronze. The furniture was made of fine cherry wood while Draco´s was of a dark walnut, but it suited the room. Potter´s quarters were larger of course, because Draco could never manage to best the Gryffindor Golden Boy, not even in such a petty thing. Or at least, not while Potter so obviously had Dumbledore´s favor and the adoration of the entire bloody wizarding world. He took a moment to dig through the other boy´s desk, aware of what a rare opportunity this was, but found nothing even remotely interesting. He heard a rustle from the bedroom and jumped, disappointed he couldn´t snoop more, but eager to leave before his presence was discovered.

He crept out of the room, surprised to note it was guarded by a portrait. Everyone knew portraits were highly unreliable entrances when the subject of the portrait could wander off at any time to leave people stranded outside. The painted hedge knight was sleeping against an apple tree, his horse grazing in the background and his dented shield propped up nearby, displaying a vaguely familiar crest that Draco couldn´t quite place.

Glad his escape from Potter´s room wouldn´t make it through the portrait grapevine, he set off down a random corridor in the hopes he would eventually come across some familiar land mark. He did manage to make his way down into the dungeons, all the while wondering who had the ability and nerve to not only abduct him from his room, but gain the password to Potter´s. It was a troubling enigma, but it was solved as soon as saw the flash of sly amusement on Pansy´s face before she schooled it to shock and curiosity at his sudden appearance. He ignored her carefully worded question, stalking angrily towards his room as he scowled darkly, only pausing to push up the too long sleeves of the borrowed shirt.

Draco immediately started planning his revenge, wondering in some tiny little corner of his brain if Potter would notice his rival´s scent or the lingering warmth permeating his bed linens when he woke.

Draco strode into the Great Hall and almost stumbled over a second year Hufflepuff while yawning into his hand. He glared at the offending culprit and was satisfied to see the youngster´s face drain of color before she scampered off. The Slytherin prefect took his usual seat between Crabbe and Goyle and was gratified to see Pansy at the other end of the table. Her hair was a vivid shade of orange bordering on red; the color of Weasley hair some would say.

It was Draco´s vengeance and a perfect one considering how much time and effort she spent on her normally dark locks. She´d been in hysterics the first morning she´d seen herself in her mirror and Draco had laughed his arse off at the priceless expression of humiliated rage on her face when she´d stalked into the Great Hall for lunch that afternoon. She´d skipped breakfast, either too cowardly to face her peers or too busy trying to fix it. She´d gone to her beloved Potions Master, but Snape had informed her that she would have to wait until the color faded before he could treat it or else it might react negatively with the unique dye used or did she want actually want a head full of pea green hair?

At any rate, that had been two days ago and the furor surrounding the prank had died down so that Draco´s breakfast was a relatively quiet one. He exchanged brief greetings with Crabbe and Goyle, smirked at Zabini who was anxiously handing his girlfriend Tracey Davis (who had managed to ensnare the notorious Slytherin playboy) a platter of grapefruit. The other three boys snickered at him and Blaise glowered briefly before turning back to the pretty brunette with the big hazel eyes who had him wrapped around her little finger. Draco made a mental note to jump off the astronomy tower if he ever ended up like his counterpart before stabbing into his bacon with great appetite.

He managed to get two mouthfuls before his Daily Prophet was dropped into the middle of his plate. Grimacing, he fished it out and scraped the eggs off his newspaper with his fork. Bloody mail birds were a nuisance. Grindylow, on the other hand, had been trained to put objects at his elbow while generic delivery owls always managed to drop things in the most inconvenient places possible.

He scanned the paper quickly with a frown. “Hey, listen to this.’ He cleared his throat before reading the article aloud to his peers. It took a moment for everyone to focus on his voice, but soon enough the whole Slytherin table was listening to him and even a few Ravenclaws.


The Glastonbury Tor, one of the oldest and most potent magical focal points in the world, was attacked and plundered yesterday evening. The Tor is the burial place of the most famous witches and wizards in history including Merlin, all four of the Hogwarts Founders, Nostradamus, and Cliodna as well as numerous other notable personages. The tombs of these great historical figures were ransacked thoroughly and most of the artifacts contained within stolen or destroyed.

The guardian of the ancient burial grounds, one Grant Hornby, was found dead at the scene. There is no obvious cause of death, though the Killing Curse is suspected. The Dark Mark was spotted floating above the scene for six hours after the attack. Several senior Obliviators were required to deal with various Muggles who had spotted the Mark.

Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, was most emphatic when he spoke of the incident. “This is a terrible tragedy for the culture of all Magical people. The culprits, once apprehended, will be prosecuted to the greatest extent of the law. The Ministry has put two teams of Aurors on the case and several Unspeakables are investigating the wards of the Tor as we speak. And let me state for the record, this is in no way, shape, or form, an indication that You Know Who has risen.’

Not all agree with the Minister though. One of the numerous Ministry officials at odds with Fudge is Cian Cowgill. The Head of the Department of Magical Catastrophes made this statement. “We are coordinating our efforts with the Department of Magical Law enforcement in an effort to close this case as quickly as possible. We have one Muggle eyewitness who gave us descriptions of the perpetrators in great detail. Thanks to him, I wouldn´t be surprised if we were making arrests within the week. It looks to be Death Eater activity. I´m not allowed to officially state that You Know Who is leading them, but I know this isn‘t the work of unorganized criminals. Read what you will between the lines.’

The Curator of the Museum of Magical Artifacts, Elizabeth Fawcett, was brought on the scene to help repair various damaged artifacts. Many of the magical objects stolen may not be recovered, but according to Fawcett and her team of expert professionals the majority of the artifacts broken in the attack can be restored to their original condition. She is taking steps to repair the damage caused by the attack and states that the Glastonbury Tor will be back to its former glory by the end of the year.

Lucius Malfoy donated over three hundred galleons to the repair of the Tor upon hearing of the incident. His explanation was this. “This is a part of our heritage that we cannot afford to lose. No amount of money can replace the history we lost when the Glastonbury Tor was attacked, but I for one cannot stand by without participating in its restoration.’

Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, made his own contribution of five hundred galleons.

Dumbledore, defeater of Grindelwald in 1945, said only this. “It´s pivotal for witches and wizards everywhere to do what they can to help in these dark times. That´s all I am - just one old wizard doing what he can.’ Several other smaller donations have been made as the magical community struggles to repair the damage inflicted upon it.

“Huh.’ Crabbe mused, his brow furrowed.

Draco shook his head, speechless at his father´s temerity. No doubt Lucius had helped destroy it in the first place. “Bloody hell. I can´t believe they robbed Merlin´s grave.’ Everyone exchanged somber looks, even those with close connections to He Who Must Not Be Named. Killing off Muggles was one thing, but destroying such a vital part of the wizarding world´s history? Even the most prejudiced of purebloods had to draw the line somewhere.

Draco scanned the rest of the paper, startled to find another article that caught his attention almost as completely as the first. It was in the society pages, stuck between an announcement of the wedding of Stephen Slug and Lydia Jigger and some debutante´s party. Draco stared, unable to tear his gaze away from the announcement. Lucretia Malfoy had been born November 22 at 6 pounds and 12 ounces and was apparently a very healthy baby girl. Obviously Narcissa´s pregnancy had been accelerated with dark magic and Lucius had to be spitting mad he hadn´t managed to have a son. Still, that wasn´t what shocked the Slytherin.

Draco had a little sister.

He folded his paper and started eating again, silently wishing the girl the best of luck. He hoped Lucretia managed the miraculous feat of a relatively normal childhood. It wasn´t something many members of the Malfoy family had. He was still gob-smacked at the idea there was another Malfoy in the world, one almost exactly like him, but little and female.

Of course, Draco knew that surprises came in threes. He´d already had two; he only hoped the last one wasn´t more than he could handle.

Draco sorted through the numerous containers in the store room with capable, practiced movements in search of a certain ingredient. He finally found what he was looking for and clasped the large glass bottle with a little ‘ha!´ of triumph. The Slytherin made his way through the crowded, dusty shelves and ducked out of the room, walking into the more open stone potions classroom and towards his bubbling cauldron. He was here, ostensibly, to oversee a detention, but in actuality was busy working on his own projects. This particular one was a concoction that would, hopefully, cause the drinker to change colors depending on their mood. It was his first try at seriously inventing his own potion and considering the fact that he had spent his youth experimenting with various color changing potions on Peony, house elves, and during one unfortunate incident his own father, it was the most logical thing to start with.

Draco measured out a bit of the lavender oil, keeping a close eye on the heating spell he´d cast on the bottom of the cauldron. He´d had to leave it unattended in search for the lavender oil, but it looked to be fine. He was just tipping the oil in when a knock sounded on the door. “Come in.’ It creaked open and a messy head of black hair was promptly stuck inside, green eyes peering around cautiously behind their thick, glass shields.

“Malfoy. What are you doing here? Where´s Snape?’ Draco cast a quick sneer over his shoulder at the Gryffindor and began to gracefully chop up a few elephant-toe mushrooms before replying.

“Snape has better things to do than baby sit you Potter. I´m supposed to supervise your detention.’

Potter groaned and wove his way through the desks towards Draco´s workstation. “What, exactly, am I supposed to do?’ Draco glanced swiftly at the other boy who was hovering nearby.

“First of all, stay far, far away from my cauldron.’ Potions and Potter never mixed and Draco didn´t want to chance tempting fate. The Boy Who Lived was a bit better than Longbottom, but that really wasn´t saying much. “Snape left some stink beetles to be ground especially for you. Be sure to do it by hand Potter. Magic makes the ingredients all wonky.’

Grumbling, the Gryffindor rolled up his sleeves and set to work. He was wearing what was obviously muggle clothes with tight fitting trousers made of denim and a green pull over shirt made of cotton with long sleeves. They were in much better taste than the monstrosities Draco had found in the other boy´s dresser, though it was probably better for everyone that he´d taken the clothes less likely to be missed.

Draco studied the odd outfit curiously for a moment, wondering what he would look like in clothes like that. Muggle clothes seemed to be much more revealing than the wizard robes Draco was used to and Draco did so love to show off his legs and arse, which were absolutely flawless. But good sense soon prevailed and he forced himself to concentrate on his work before the cauldron bubbled over. Draco scraped the mushrooms into the mix and set about crushing the pine nuts with his mortal and pestle to the sound of Potter´s quiet and steady complaints.

Of course, Snape had given him the nastiest, most unpleasant grunt work to be had, but it served the Gryffindor right for calling the Potions Master a greasy git when Snape was standing right behind him. Potter hadn´t known that of course and Draco had been in a wonderful mood that whole day from just seeing the expression on Potter´s face when he realized that the ‘greasy git´ he´d been insulting had overheard him.

To be fair to the Potions Master though, Snape was utilizing a charm that made him much more unattractive than he really was, which was a standard practice for any professors under the age of fifty. Of course, Snape´s nose actually was that big, but the hair and yellow teeth were merely for effect. It was there for good reason, really. Pansy knew about it and look what that had led to. Several other students had realized it too, but Potter and his cronies still didn´t have a clue.

Not that that was unusual of course.

Draco dumped the nut paste into his cauldron and began to stir it twelve times widdershins. He turned to watch Potter who was blinking rapidly and grimacing from the fumes rising from his ground stinkbugs. “God, this is vile.’ Potter complained. “I won´t be able to smell anything for days.’

An insult sprang automatically to Draco´s lips. “Considering your hygiene, or lack thereof rather, I´d think that´d be a blessing.’

“Shut up Malfoy. At least I don´t spend hours in front of the mirror preening.’ Potter glared, his green eyes sparking with anger. They were more striking than usual with Potter´s green shirt and Draco was going to go Avada Kedavra himself if he didn´t stop noticing these things. Ever since Pansy had stuck him in Potter´s bed it was like some connection had been made in his brain. He had started seeing his rival as an attractive person where before thoughts of Potter had been quite separate from thoughts of sex and now it just wouldn´t stop.

“I´d hope not. You wouldn´t want to traumatize your poor mirror any more than it already has been, would you?’ Draco retorted smoothly, extracting his stirring rod and peering into his cauldron, pleased at the light blue color it had turned. He scraped together a few mandrake leaves that had been soaking in vinegar and sliced them carefully before dumping them into the cauldron.

“Oh, very witty Malfoy. I´m laughing my arse off over here.’ Potter´s tone was flat and not amused at all. It changed to a whine quickly enough though when he moved on to a new batch of bugs to be ground. “Oh, yuck. It just had to be stinkbugs, didn´t it?’

The question was rhetorical so Draco didn´t bother to reply, too busy straining his royal wasp jelly anyway. Wasp legs would react badly with his concoction at this point and it took a great deal of concentration to make sure he didn´t miss any. He added in the jelly and seven newt eyes before casting a freezing charm on the cauldron. He let the ice build up carefully, canceling the spell before there was any danger of icicles dropping into the brew. Then he cast a quick boiling charm on it and a puff of steaming smoke rose, obscuring Draco´s vision.

Coughing, he waved it away and anxiously looked into his cauldron, surprised to find it a bright magenta red. “Hmm.’ Of course, this was a completely new potion so he really had no guidelines to go by, but it looked alright. He added two teaspoons of sugar and took it down from a boil to a slow simmer, stirring carefully once more.

“What are you making?’ Came the curious question and Draco turned to see Potter watching him intently. Merlin, his eyes were so green.

He shook the thought away. “A new potion. It makes the drinker change colors depending on their moods. It´s just an experiment.’

“Oh, you mean like mood rings?’

Draco was confused at the weird reference. “What? What´s a mood ring?’

“Muggle thing, never mind. So does it work?’ He sounded genuinely interested so Draco bit back the sarcastic comment hovering on the tip of his tongue.

He settled for a neutral answer. “That´s what I´m trying to find out.’

“Oh.’ Was all Potter had to say on the matter. Draco ladled out a measure of the liquid into a medium sized container and scribbled a few notes down carefully on the color, smell, and texture of this particular mixture before turning to the covered cage next to him. The Slytherin peeled back the white fabric to reveal a rat he´d caught while patrolling the corridors. He´d caught the mangy thing yesterday evening while doing his weekly prefect duties, though not without considerable difficulty. Draco needed a subject to test his potions on and if someone was going to be so careless as to leave their pet to run free it wasn´t his concern if the rat keeled over dead from whatever he fed it. It was obviously a pet, chubby as it was, though the owner had apparently neglected it. The thing was a disgrace to its species.

He dismantled the empty water bottle attached to the cage and poured in the red liquid, startled at Potter´s curious voice sounding right next to him. “What are you doing?’ He jumped and ignored Potter´s snicker at the startled movement.

Draco drawled his answer casually, hoping Potter didn´t notice the flush to his cheeks. Did he have to stand quite so close? There was such a thing as personal space! “Testing it. I´m certainly not going to drink a potion that´s never been tried before. Do you think I´m insane?’

“Quite often.’ Potter said dryly, before continuing on. “It´s not exactly fair to your lab rat though, is it?’

“I was going to feed him to my owl, but this was more practical.’ The rat squeaked, as if panicked, and Potter´s attention turned to the bedraggled rodent for the first time. It really was a sorry specimen. Potter took one look at it and gasped, which Draco thought was a bit extreme.

“Oh my god. Oh my god! Malfoy!’

“What is it? What´s wrong?’ He asked hurriedly, afraid Potter had gotten the potion on him and was in pain. He screwed the top on the water bottle quickly as he spoke and set it down, turning to make sure the other boy hadn´t hurt himself. That was all Draco needed, to have Potty running to Dumbledore crying that Draco had poisoned him.

However, he didn´t seem to be in any pain. He seemed to be - happy? “It´s Wormtail!’ The Boy Who Lived was almost ecstatic and babbling nonsense to boot. “I can´t believe this! You - you´re absolutely brilliant Malfoy! I could kiss you!’ The Gryffindor grabbed Draco by his shoulders and landed a smacking kiss on his cheek before grabbing up the cage and running out of the classroom as if the devil himself were on his heels.

Draco stared after him, stunned by the loss of both his lab rat and his senses. He prodded gently at his cheek, which still tingled, with his fingertips. Obviously, the world had gone insane. And he had a feeling he wasn´t too far behind.

Draco showed up for breakfast the next morning feeling absolutely miserable. He hadn´t gotten to test his potion, he´d been left to ground the rest of Potter´s damnable stink bugs, he´d been forced to clean up the classroom by himself, and to top it all off he´d had a wet dream. About Potter, of all people, fucking him senseless on Snape´s desk during Potion´s class and the fact that Snape had been critiquing Potter´s technique the whole time while the class took notes didn´t make Draco feel any better. He hated his life.

“I hate my life.’ He announced, sprawling into his chair between Greg and Pansy. He pushed his plate away to let his forehead rest on the table in front of him and slouched down as far as he could go. Crabbe, who was sitting across from him, exchanged worried looks with Pansy. Draco never slouched; years of etiquette lessons drilled into his head and Narcissa´s sharp scolding lectures had made sure of that. Still, Draco thought he deserved the right to slouch after such a horrible sequence of events.

Pansy rubbed his back soothingly in an attempt to make him feel better. “Are you feeling sick? Perhaps you should visit Madame Pomfrey.’

“No, no. I just need to jump off the Astronomy Tower to put myself out of my misery. Or maybe an Oblivate would do the job.’ He mused, not moving even when breakfast appeared on the plate right next to his head.

“Surely it isn´t that bad?’ Draco almost conceded just to make her stop badgering him, but the memory of waking up in the wet spot was enough to make him disagree.

“No. It´s worse.’

Pansy rolled her eyes at his dramatics, prodding him into sitting up with a few sharp jabs of her fingers. “Eat something. Maybe you´ll feel a bit better.’ Draco glanced at his breakfast dubiously, but a quelling glance from Pansy was enough to make him take a few half hearted bites. “So what exactly has driven you to such depths of despair?’

“Don´t mock me, Pansy.’ He said sulkily, moving his eggs around with his fork. “And it´s none of your business.’

“Then stop pouting.’

“I am not pouting.’ Draco lied, immediately withdrawing his lower lip which had been pursed forward in a cupid bow pout.

She laughed at him, which just annoyed him even more. “Of course you weren´t.’

He cast her a sharp glance and resolved to ignore her, managing to choke down another two bites. She turned to converse with Blaise´s girlfriend, chatting about some girly thing or another that would have bored Draco to tears if he´d bothered to listen. Conversation buzzed around him, but no one tried to include him after a glimpse of the dark expression on his face. Draco took a long sip of his pumpkin juice and succumbed to the temptation to glance at Potter across the hall. The Gryffindor was positively beaming, a shit eating grin spread across his face and his eyes sparkling behind those ugly glasses of his. His hair was more of a tousled mess than usual, but somehow it just managed to add to his natural charm. Potter´s cheerful happiness was an almost tangible thing. It had infected his fellow Gryffindors and the table was even louder than usual with laughter and chatter.

Draco wanted to strangle them all with their ugly Gryffindor scarves.

He buttered his toast while meditating on methods of exterminating Gryffindors and one Mr. Harold James Potter in particular. Draco found the thought of slathering him in honey and sticking him on a giant ant hill particularly cruel and interesting, but then he got sidetracked at the thought of Potter slathered in honey and really, he was only human.

This was bloody wonderful; he now had to contend with an erection at the breakfast table. It was just his luck, these things always had to happen to him. It wasn´t fair. Lady Luck was pissing on him again, simply for entertainment, he knew it. Potter laughed and the merry, ringing sound didn´t do him his control any favors. Just when he was about to give up and spend the rest of the day huddled in bed feigning sickness, (and possibly wanking himself blind) Dumbledore stood up.

“I would like to make an announcement.’ Draco arched one eyebrow and bit into his toast, wishing he could just go back to bed before the bitch that was Lady Luck struck again. “I would like to appoint one hundred points to Mr. Malfoy for capturing a criminal in animagus form by the name of Peter Pettigrew.’ Draco choked on his toast and Greg slapped his back helpfully. Coughing, he turned to see the Headmaster watching him with twinkling eyes. “And I would like to give Mr. Harry Potter one hundred points for his quick thinking in bringing the matter to my attention. Mr. Malfoy will be receiving a reward of two hundred galleons, which will be deposited directly into his Gringotts account, from the Ministry of Magic, for Peter Pettigrew´s capture. Sirius Black, long thought to be the murderer of the Potters, is having his name cleared as we speak.’

At the gasps that sounded throughout the Great Hall, Dumbledore went on to explain the situation in great detail, but Draco was only concerned with one thing. Two hundred galleons? It was definitely enough money to make the next summer a comfortable one. He might not even have to work at all as long as he managed to invent a potion or two by then. The reward coupled with royalties would be enough to help him live comfortably for a few years.

Grinning, he glanced back at the Headmaster who was still twittering on about Sirius Black before glancing over towards Potter again. The Boy Who Lived was already looking right at him and smiling brilliantly in a way that seemed just for Draco. Seeing Potter looking at him so intensely managed to give Draco a little jolt and he bit his lip as he lost all control of his body below his waist. Potter´s smiles should have been made illegal.

But he couldn´t deny his day was looking brighter.

“I´m so nervous. What if they kick me out? What if I ruin it all? Oh god, I´m going to die.’ Draco cast a quick glance over at Blaise who looked to be only moments away from wailing in distress. It was a Hogsmeade weekend and they had decided to do their Christmas shopping together and Blaise was busy venting his fears to Draco about the upcoming Christmas Hols. Crabbe and Goyle had lumbered off earlier in the day and Pansy was gossiping with her girls so it was just the two of them.

“Don´t be ridiculous.’ He said curtly. Blaise nodded, reassured. After all, he didn´t expect the other Slytherin to coo at him like a Hufflepouf. “You come from good stock and your parents are fairly wealthy. As long as you´re on your best behavior her parents will love you. Frankly, I´m surprised you even agreed to visit her family. I didn´t know things were quite that serious.’

The other boy shrugged, flicking a curl out of his face. “Well, she asked me to and I couldn´t bear to disappoint her.’

Draco laughed, punching his friend playfully on the shoulder. “You are so pussy whipped.’ Blaise shoved him back.

“Shut up. You´re just jealous ‘cause you aren´t getting any, Draco.’

“True, true.’ He mused mournfully, which only made the brunette laugh. “You think my poor, frustrated libido is funny, do you Zabini?’

“Absolutely hilarious, Malfoy. You may tease me for being wrapped around my girlfriend´s finger, but face it Malfoy. You´re an incurable romantic.’

Draco goggled. “What? Where did you get that ridiculous idea from?’

Zabini smirked, cocking one eyebrow up in a manner he had to have picked up from Draco. “Because, you´re still a virgin despite the fact you could have shagged Cornfoot about a hundred times over last year. You want your first time to be with someone special.’ He carried on despite Draco´s vehement if vague protests. “And you like dramatic ideas. True love. Romeo and Juliet. Soul mates. All that bunk. You eat it up with a silver spoon, though you´d never admit it.’

Draco was seething. “I may be gay Blaise, but I still have a cock! I´m not a bloody girl.’

“I didn´t say you were. Guys can be romantic. Look at. Um.’

“Oh?’ It was said with an insufferably smug look that made Blaise roll his eyes.

“Like me, for instance. Putting myself through hell just to make Tracy happy. Her parents are going to eat me alive, but here I am, bravely soldiering on for her sake.’

“Are we back on that again? They can smell fear, you know. If you don´t want them looking down their noses at you or killing you with kindness by being excruciatingly polite and distant I´d advise you to act confident, even if you´re knees are knocking.’

“Yes, Malfoy. That makes me feel loads better. Wanker.’ He paused before curiosity got the better of him. “Killing me with kindness? They can do that?’

“My mother´s an expert at it. In the right hands, it can be worse than an outright snub. I´d doubt they´re anywhere near as bad as my family, though.’

“And thank the gods for that, at least. I´m still nervous mind you, but I´ll muddle through well enough I suppose.’

There was a comfortable silence the rest of the trek until they reached Hogsmeade where they immediately set out towards the smaller shops. Blaise bought his girl a pretty cloak and matching muff as well as some other things Draco paid no attention to in an attempt to prevent ruining the surprise of his own gift. Draco picked out a few copies of the comic The Adventures of Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle for Greg who had some incomprehensible fondness for them, some owl treats for Grindylow, a new sketchpad for Vince along with a small charcoal set, a small statuette of a nightingale that sang and could even be spelled to give its owner a wakeup call in the morning for Pansy as well as a bottle of her favorite perfume, an old copy of Odd Ointments and Bubbling Brews by Herbert Paddywhack that had several obscure potions in it that he knew Snape would love, and a set of Puddlemere United robes for Blaise who supported them, though Draco personally favored the Falmouth Falcons. Any Quidditch team who had the motto, “Let us win, but if we cannot win, let us break a few heads.’ was number one in Draco´s opinion.

He almost bought a lovely humidor for Lucius before he remembered he wasn´t going to get his father a Christmas present this year. You could have been a great Malfoy, if you´d been even a bit of a man. The words echoed in his head mockingly as he recalled that particular memory while he stared at the would-be gift unseeingly. He was jolted out of his morose reverie by Blaise´s hesitant touch on his elbow. “You alright there Malfoy?’ Draco shook off the lingering melancholy.

“I´m fine. You done?’

“Yeah. Let´s swing by Honeydukes before we head over to the Three Broomsticks, okay?’ Draco agreed and they set off, ending up in a corner booth with several bags of sweets propped nearby as they sipped at their butterbeers forty five minutes later. The mood had lightened considerably by then. “Wow, there was really a big crowd today. For a second there I thought I´d actually have to beat Finnigan over the head to get myself some Ice Mice.’

Draco snickered. “Gryffindors have such thick heads it probably wouldn´t have even phased him. Though a concussion or two couldn´t hurt, that´s for sure.’

“I suppose not. Not too bad on the eyes though, is he?’ Blaise said slyly.

Draco turned to him, his eyebrows shooting up incredulously. “Blaise!’ His tone was exaggeratedly scandalized. “Why, you lothario you, what would Tracy say?’

“Shut it Malfoy.’

“Then don´t fish, Zabini.’

“Pansy and I were talking -’ Draco interrupted immediately.

“Quite the meeting of miniature minds, I take it.’

Blaise sighed and rolled his eyes. “Shush. We got to talking and we´ve both decided that you need to get yourself a boyfriend. I mean, there has to be one boy at Hogwarts willing to put up with your insufferable attitude.’

“Yes, but will he be able to meet my exacting standards?’

“Draco, you can´t meet your exacting standards.’

“That is entirely besides the point.’

Blaise looked like he was about to pull out his own hair in frustration, but Draco´s laughter at the constipated expression on his face stopped him. “Laugh all you want Draco. We just don´t want you to be lonely.’ Draco was touched, but hid it with a sneer. It would not do to become a milksop.

“Oh, trying to spread the love, eh?’

Aware the message was understood and appreciated despite the caustic words, Blaise rolled his eyes. “Not in this lifetime. I just want to get you laid so you´ll stop acting the prat. What about… hmm. Finch-Fletchy?’

“For the last time, no Hufflepuffs, much less Mudblood Hufflepuffs. I´d die of shame. No, I´d probably kill myself before I had a chance to die of shame.’ He corrected quickly.

“Don´t blame you there. Those dozy sods are so dense they´d probably need a handbook and color coded chart just to get the right bits in the right places.’ They shared a chuckle and Blaise mused on, propping his chin in his hands. “How about a Ravenclaw? Boot, maybe? I think he may be bi.’

“Pansy´s has dibs on him, though I doubt it´ll pan out. And he´s got a thing for his sister. It´s… unsettling, to say the least.’ Draco took a swig of butterbeer to hide the grin at Blaise´s grimace of distaste.

“Oh, ew. Alright, bye bye Boot then. Um. Finnigan´s involved with Thomas, so that knocks out two. Well, how about Creevy? He´s so queer he makes Lockheart look straight.’

“Frankly, I´d rather shag Potter. Creevy looks like a frog.’

“Well, there you go!’ Blaise said, clapping his hands enthusiastically.

Draco gave him a flat look. “That wasn´t an endorsement. I don´t know about you, but I don´t have don´t have a thing for amphibians.’

“No, no. Potter. Your beloved enemy, remember him? The boy can do miracles on a broom and you´ve always liked Quidditch players. He´s not too hideous I suppose and he is a celebrity. He´s loaded. And he comes from a decent bloodline. Sure, he´s crap in Potions, but that just means you get to gloat about it. It´ll make you feel all manly, yeah?’ The other Slytherin was ticking off Potter´s good points on his hands, grinning up at Draco insolently.

“That´s - you!’ Draco was beyond words. “Are you out of your mind?! For one thing, Potter´s straight. He´d probably punch me if I came onto him. For another, hello, burning animosity and unrelenting rivalry? Not to mention, he´s got a Dark Lord out to kill him and any significant other he has is likely to be killed faster than a Mudblood at a Dark Revel.’

“I notice there wasn´t any problems with Potter himself in there.’

“Shut up Blaise. I do not fancy Potter. At all. And I never will.’

Blaise smirked, pleased and not a little amused. “Draco, you´re slipping. I never said you fancied Potter. I simply said he´d potentially make a good boyfriend. I think I sense a little projection here.’

“Sod off.’ He said shortly, taking a swig from his mug to prevent any further conversation.

Blaise however, did not take the hint. “Oh come on. So you´ve got a thing for Potter. I can see how why you might. He´s all heroic and whatnot. Rescuing damsels in distress and saving the world. Probably has a nice arse too considering all that flying he does.’

“Blaise. I wouldn´t shag Potter if he paid me to. Well, not unless there was ball gag handy. The bloody Gryffindor´s so self righteous he´d probably spend the whole time preaching at me.’

The other Slytherin coughed and spluttered helplessly, having taken a sip just when Draco mentioned the ball gag. Apparently the butterbeer had gone down the wrong way when he´d gasped in shock. When he finally caught his breath he roared in laughter. “Oh gods, I can see it now. Yeah, suck it harder Malfoy and have I mentioned you shouldn´t be so mean to Mudbloods? You´ve been a bad, bad boy. Bend over baby, while I lecture you on the evils of following You Know Who.’ Blaise mimicked Potter´s voice closely as he spoke, which made Draco snicker despite himself.

“Shut up. I have better taste than that.’

“Right.’ Said Blaise, obviously humoring him.

“I do.’


“I´m serious, here.’

“I didn´t say you weren´t.’ Draco eyed him, taking in the too bland expression plastered on the other Slytherin´s face.

“Well, good then.’ He said reluctantly, unwilling to leave it at that, but incapable of pushing the point when Blaise would only tell him he was protesting too much. But he had a feeling this was going to come back to bite him on the arse.

Draco found himself creeping about after hours in search of the kitchens. Not only was he hungry, but he´d woken up from a nightmare and had a craving for hot chocolate. At Malfoy Manor he had always visited the kitchens after a bad dream and now seemed as good a time as any to find Hogwarts kitchens. It took a few tries before he finally found the correct hallway and he watched with fascination when the portrait swung open after he tickled the pear.

He could have sworn he´d heard it giggle.

The house elves were swarming in the warm kitchen, bustling about efficiently. House elves didn´t need sleep as far as Draco knew and even now they were working to keep Hogwarts at its best. He slinked inside, grinning when the house elves saw him and started offering their services. He didn´t know why people thought he was so cruel to them. For one, they delighted in pampering him and Draco absolutely loved to be fussed over, so why would he dislike them? For another, he´d grown up in Malfoy Manor where the only beings around to play with were old family portraits, the family ghosts, and the house elves. He´d been raised by the odd, green creatures and unlike his father didn´t feel the need to assert his authority over them at every opportunity.

“You is wanting some food, yes? Tippy is happy to gets you what you needs.’

Draco smiled at the eager house elf and ignored the others clamoring for his attention. “How about some scones Tippy? And maybe a cup of hot chocolate?’ There was a sudden rush of activity as the house elves swarmed returned back to their regular duties as Tippy served him and Draco took a seat at an empty table, craning his neck around to look at the huge kitchen with interest. There was one house elf getting drunk in the corner and the other elves seemed to be avoiding her, going out of their way to cast her dirty looks or sniff disdainfully.

“Is you young Master Malfoy?’ Said one squeaky voice and Draco turned to look at the creature that had addressed him.

He stared in shock at the house elf peering at him with bulbous eyes. A tea cozy was on his head, tipped to a rakish angle and he was wearing mismatching socks; one had snitches on them. “Dobby?! Is that you? I thought Father killed you.’

“No, no Master Draco. Dobby is free thanks to the Great Harry Potter. Dobby is working for Hogwarts now and is getting paid for it, yes he is.’

“Potter freed you? Figures.’ He said sourly. Potter seemed to be everybody´s bloody hero. Then he smiled at the thought of Potter besting Lucius and the look the Malfoy patriarch must have had on his face. “Father must have been spitting mad.’ Draco sounded positively delighted. Then he grew pensive, examining the house elf in front of him carefully. “I´d wondered where you´d gone to. None of the others were anywhere near as interesting to talk to. I´m glad your alive.’ Dobby had frequently spent time entertaining Draco and he´d missed Dobby´s presence when he´d returned home and the house elf was no where to be found.

Dobby had actually been one of the three house elves who´d had the task of raising him and Draco knew that the way that he had talked to Dobby as if he was an equal, asking childish questions a house elf was hard pressed to answer and bouncing ideas off him, had gone a long way in making Dobby different from other house elves. Giddy and Tubby had never even tried to satisfy Draco´s innocent curiosity, but Dobby had always made the attempt, sometimes in vain. The way he´d forced Dobby to question his own existence and way of life, not to mention so much interaction with the ‘young master´, had gone a long way in making Dobby quite the intellectual.

By house elf standards at least.

“Dobby is glad he is seeing Master Draco too. Dobby will make Master Draco his special hot chocolate, Dobby will. Dobby is knowing just how Master Draco likes it.’ With a ear to ear grin the house elf dashed off, while the other elves went about their usual business. Tippy´s scones were almost done and he exchanged a few brief words with Dobby before turning back to his task.

Several minutes later both Dobby and Tippy approached him, setting the table and placing their respective offerings in front of him. “Have a seat Dobby.’ Tippy´s brow furrowed, but Draco´s next words smoothed it again. “He was a Malfoy house elf. I´d like to chat with him a bit, that´s all. If you can spare him that is.’

“Oh, you is his old Master. Tippy is seeing how it is. Dobby, sit down.’ Tippy ordered, echoing Draco´s words, before bustling off to join the other house elves.

“Do you like working at Hogwarts?’ He asked, biting into a delicious scone. Dobby beamed when Draco took a sip of hot chocolate and complimented him on it.

“Dobby does, Master Draco. Dobby is cleaning the Slytherin prefects rooms, yes Dobby is.’ Draco grinned.

“Good. I always felt sort of weird about that. At least I trust you.’

The house elf´s ears drooped and tears seemed to come to his eyes. “Master Draco is too good to Dobby. Dobby loves his little Master Malfoy. Dobby wanted to be a good house elf, but he had to protect the Great Harry Potter.’ Draco stilled the house elf´s hands which he had been using to tug on his ears in distress.

“Don´t fret. I´m glad you´re not working for Lucius anymore. He´s a bastard and he hurt you all the time.’ He paused, searching for something to say that would make Dobby feel better. “I was disowned you know, so I´m not the Malfoy heir anymore. I´m like you. I was freed.’ Dobby burst into tears and started bawling, burying his face in Draco´s robes as he cried with sheer happiness. The Slytherin looked about helplessly, but he found no help from the other house elves. He patted Dobby´s bony shoulder, at a loss. “Don´t blubber, Dobby.’

“Dobby is sorry he is getting all emotional. Dobby is just so happy, he is.’

“That´s nice. So why don´t you tell me about how Potter freed you, hmm? I´m curious about it now.’ Draco asked, in a bid to distract the house elf from his tears. Well, that and he really wanted to know.

Dobby sat back, his ears perking up. “It all started when Dobby decided to keep the Great Harry Potter from going to Hogwarts where it was so dangerous. The first thing Dobby did was steal the Great Harry Potter´s mail…’ Draco set back, sipping at his hot chocolate as he prepared to be entertained. He wasn´t disappointed in the least.

Morag MacDougal

Lisa Turpin

Lavender Brown

Harry Potter

Neville Longbottom

Emma Dobbs

Ernie McMillian

Anthony Goldstein

Draco scanned the list of students staying for Yule break and scowled at the innocuous parchment in his hand. Only unwanted children, losers, and orphans had to stay home for the holidays and Draco had always taken pride in the fact that he, unlike several of his less fortunate classmates, had always been welcome at home even if his parents weren´t the most loving of individuals.

And now he was one of these misfits.

Biting his lip, Draco took out his self inking quill and prepared to sign his name, larger than the others because despite the fact he was ashamed of being abandoned he wasn´t about to let anyone else know that. Even if he had been tossed out onto the street, he was a Malfoy and he still had his pride. He kept that thought in mind as he drew the quill over the parchment.

Draco Malfoy

He passed the scroll down the table once he´d scrawled his name down with a flourish, unsurprised when no one else signed it. Pansy shot him a sympathetic look. “Don´t worry, I got you a really nice Christmas present. You´ll love it; I know you will.’ It made him feel a bit better, like she´d intended it to.

Draco sent her a quick half smile. “Thanks, Pansy. So, do you think Snape will like his present?’ He had introduced Pansy to Mr. Jigger by owl and the Slytherin girl had managed to come to an agreement with the Apothecary owner. Snape would get a 15% discount every time he purchased something at Slug & Jigger´s Apothecary for the next five years. It must have cost a pretty penny, but Pansy´s gifts were always extravagant and expensive, so Snape probably wouldn´t think much of it. It was a thoughtful gesture and no doubt the Potions Master would appreciate it. It was just one tiny step in Pansy´s extensive plan to ensnare the oblivious Potions professor.

“Oh, I hope so!’ The female Slytherin prefect said, gnawing on her lip with worry. “You don´t think it´s too much, do you?’

“From you? No. It´ll be fine.’ Draco assured her.

“I feel bad. Leaving you here all alone. There aren´t even going to be any other Slytherins this year.’ Pansy said fretfully in her usual tone.

“Yes. I´ll waste away in the dungeons, unloved and alone and when you come back from vacation you´ll find my lifeless, yet oddly attractive corpse by the common room fire in a poignant pose of despair.’ He flung his hand against his forehead and feigned a swoon that landed him propped up against Crabbe´s bulky shoulder. The shoulder was shaking from laughter. “And then you´ll say, ‘Poor, gorgeous Draco. We never should have left him behind. Oh woe!´ That´s what you´ll say, alright.’ Draco sat back up, smoothing his hair as his House mates cracked up around him.

“Sure, Malfoy.’ Snickered Baddock, who was two seats down.

Draco sniffed. “Fine, don´t say I didn´t warn you.’

“Warn them about what?’ Said a warm voice next to him. Draco swiveled around to see Stephen Cornfoot smiling at him from a few feet away.

“Nothing.’ He flashed the other boy a quick smirk. “What are you doing braving Slytherin territory?’

“Thought I´d drop by to say hi.’

Draco cast a swift look to the Ravenclaw table and saw Lisa Turpin making eyes at some Hufflepuff. Well, that explained it. “Really.’ He said, his voice dangerously even. Lunch was almost over and a few people had already left the Great Hall.

“Yes, really. I mean, it´s been a while.’ Stephen brushed a bit of brown hair away from his face, smiling sweetly. His eyes were a soft hazel color and his skin fairly tan for a Ravenclaw considering the fact they usually spent all their time inside studying.

Draco stood, putting himself on even ground with the other boy. “It´s nice to see you again then. How´s the girlfriend?’ He asked, raising one eyebrow.

“Er, Ex-girlfriend actually. And she´s fine.’

“Mmm. So that´s how it is.’ Stephen blushed a little, color coming to his cheeks and he glanced around the hall quickly. Draco followed his gaze, but no one was really paying them much mind as far as he could tell. His eyes swept over the Gryffindor table and he was surprised to see Potter watching them attentively, his brow furrowed.

He looked almost… disapproving? Well, screw the Boy Who Was A Prude.

“Any particular reason you dropped by?’ Draco murmured, smirking flirtatiously as he lightly touched Stephen´s elbow. He looked up at Cornfoot from underneath his pale lashes, gratified to see the way the other boy´s eyes darkened lustfully. Over the other boy´s shoulder Potter´s frown deepened. Stephen grinned and leaned in to speak in a low voice near his ear.

“Just wanted to know if you were up for a snog is all.’ Draco drew his head back to stare at the Ravenclaw and watched his gaze flicker to the side. His own eyes followed and the Slytherin wasn´t surprised to see that Lisa Turpin was suddenly ignoring her Hufflepuff in favor of glaring daggers at them.

He snorted. “I´ll pass. I´m not fond of being used as a method of revenge.’

“Er.’ Stephen blushed, looking abashed. “Sorry, Draco. I didn´t mean to drag you into this.’

Draco smirked nastily, but he kept his voice fairly neutral. “Yes, you did. Scamper off back to your table, now. I´m sure she´ll forgive you if ask nicely and if not… Well, I´m sure someone else more obliging would be up for a snog over there.’

Stephen sent him a last sheepish smile before heading off and Draco watched him go, rolling his eyes at the other boy´s back before turning back to where Pansy had been watching them with great amusement. “What a twit, trying to make his girlfriend jealous. Still, I guess this just proves you´ve still got it, huh?’

“Shut up.’ He said, grinning despite himself. “I can´t help being so pretty.’

Pansy started giggling and Draco kicked her shin in irritation. “I´m sorry!’ She gasped. “It´s just you sounded so much like Lockhart; I´m witty, and pretty, and gay!’ The mocking voice was a falsetto cooing that did indeed sound like Lockhart at his vainest. He narrowed his eyes at her, though she knew it was half in jest.

“Oh, you´re going to pay for that. When you least expect it, mark my words.’

“Right.’ She scoffed. “Like you - oh, my. Well, isn´t that interesting.’

“What?’ Draco asked, peering around to see what his friend found so fascinating. Usually nothing short of an emergency or a glimpse of her beloved Snape could get her to stop running that motor mouth of hers.

“It seems like Mr. Potter is a bit jealous of your beau. He´s currently attempting to shoot Avada Kedavra from his eyes at Cornfoot. Looks like you´ve pulled another one. And the Boy Who Lived, no less.’

Draco twisted about to see Potter who was indeed pinning Stephen with a glare so fierce the Ravenclaw should have burst into flames on the spot. The green eyes Draco so admired were snapping with anger. The Slytherin licked his lips; how had he never noticed how hot Potter looked when he was in a temper? Or perhaps, some appalled part of him realized, he had. Had he spent the last five years yanking Potter´s chain because of some twisted attraction?

Probably, he admitted silently to himself. It sounded like something he´d do.

“Well, well. Isn´t that fascinating.’ Draco almost purred, pleased at this new twist.

“Guess you finally have a chance will Potter the rotter after all And all this time I thought you were just mooning hopelessly after - Ouch! You jerk, that hurt.’

Draco just smiled innocently at Pansy who was nursing her arm where he´d pinched her.

“Have a nice vacation.’ You bastards. I hate you, hate you, hate you. Hope you choke on your Christmas cheer. The former Malfoy heir thought to himself spitefully, before speaking up again. “And remember Blaise; CONSTANT VIGILANCE!’ Draco bellowed at the other boy in imitation of Moody who had taught them last year. He´d taken to teasing Zabini about how to escape the wrath of the Davis family if they ever learned he´d deflowered their precious daughter.

It was an ongoing joke, but it never failed to please the crowd and besides, Draco had never let overuse stop him from doing something that would get a laugh. The Slytherins in Blaise´s carriage burst into raucous merriment, nudging the blushing boy until Blaise ducked his head to hide behind the curtain of his dark curls. His girlfriend Tracy, who hadn´t been let in on the joke, leaned towards Blaise and whispered in his ear, but the Slytherin just shook his head unhelpfully.

The carriages set off, leaving him to watch Pansy to lean out the window to blow him a parting kiss. “Have fun at Hogwarts, Draky-poo!’ She simpered at him and he snarled back in outrage, secretly amused to note she only dared to call him that when safely out of wand range and going steadily in a direction far away from him. Everyone waved goodbye, still snickering, and Goyle accidentally knocked Millicent Bulstrode in the head with his elbow in the process which made Draco chuckle.

Then they were out of sight and Draco sighed, watching the other carriages lumber off with their laughing load of students. He watched them all say their goodbyes and climb aboard before setting off into the distance, leaving Draco among a steadily dwindling crowd of strangers. He turned around and began his trek to the Main Entrance, his footsteps crunching in the thin layer of fresh snow. The Slytherin wrapped his old winter cloak around him tightly, ignoring the cold wind that whipped his cheeks and turned them a light pink color and tousled the fine, pale stands of his hair. He walked into the castle, heedless of the small puddles the melting snow from his clothes made on the dark stone floor polished by so many feet over the years.

He was too busy wishing he didn´t feel quite so alone.

Draco closed his eyes, relishing the feeling of flight in the crisp winter air. He opened them again after a moment, pulling his broom into a beautiful Wronski Feint before twisting back up again into the open sky. The breathtaking landscape extended in all directions beneath him, so distant and pleasing to the eye from such heights. He had spent the previous week hiding in the dungeons and burying himself in his potions research to ward away the loneliness, but Snape had finally shooed him out with orders to get some fresh air, claiming that it would make him feel better. Once again, the Potions Master was right, much to Draco´s annoyance.

Draco´s mood had lightened considerably and he spent the better part of two hours simply flying and pulling off any trick stunts that came to mind. He kept himself occupied with a procession of corkscrews, swimmers turns, feints, flips, wheeling turns, loop de loops, spirals, lengths of time flying upside down, and other dangerous maneuvers that caused the flush of exertion to bloom in his cheeks and the glitter of adrenaline to appear in his eyes.

He exulted in the little felt freedom of free flying with little thought to his surroundings, simply feeling his way through the air with his Quicksilver and his instincts. This was flying; forget the constant game of trying to one-up the other Seeker. This was the way the game was meant to be played, but so often he´d gotten tangled in his own determination to outdo his opponent that it made him clumsy with eagerness or distracted. Leaving the resentment and jealousy on the ground left him free to fly in a wholehearted manner he could manage to achieve only in rare moments.

Finally, feeling the cold and the ache of well used muscles, he headed towards the ground and landed, dismounting his broom with a last wistful look. He made his way to the broom shed and polished his lovely broom with the linseed oil that Madame Hooch kept in the shed and trimmed its twigs with delicate precision. Once he had put away his borrowed polishing rag he sauntered leisurely towards the castle, meandering along peacefully with his broom slung over his shoulder. He was surprised to see Potter, Professor Lupin, and a dark haired man lounging on the frosty lawn, watching him approach them and chattering together in a friendly manner.

“Malfoy. Nice flying.’ Potter said in an even tone and Draco inclined his head slightly in thanks before turning to the stranger curiously. He had dark hair down to his shoulders and was thin, though ropy muscle covered his lean frame. Lupin, with his tawny gray-streaked hair and golden eyes, was watching the man with a small content smile on his lips. Potter saw Draco´s look and cleared his throat, beaming a smile at Draco. Obviously he was on cloud nine or he wouldn´t be flashing that spine-melting smile Draco´s way. “And this is my godfather, Sirius Black. Sirius, this is Draco Malfoy.’

“We´ve met.’ Sirius said, grinning a little to himself.

Potter was astonished. “You have?’

“We have?’ Draco echoed.

“Yes, we have. You play a mean game of fetch.’ Draco stared, uncomprehending until a memory came to him; A memory of Dumbledore accepting his alibi because he´d been playing fetch with two dogs. He even remembered wondering if the Headmaster was going to ask Fang to vouch for him, but, it appeared he´d had the wrong dog.

“You! You´re the Grim look a like, aren´t you?’

“You played fetch with Malfoy?’ Potter interrupted, looking like someone had announced the sky was green and that it had started to fall.

“Sure, why not? Moony didn´t have time to play with me that day.’ Draco had to force himself to keep his face straight, suddenly reminded of the Bloody Baron´s words about Lupin having a mysterious male lover. Play, his lily white arse.

Lupin rolled his eyes, remonstrating his old friend and lover gently. “The world doesn´t revolve around you Padfoot. I had a meeting with Minerva.’

“Yeah, yeah. That´s what you always say. Take a seat, Malfoy. Lets have a look at that beauty of a broom of yours. She´s gorgeous. You got a name for her?’ Draco handed the Quicksilver over after a moment of hesitation and was gratified to see Potter was drooling over it too. He sat down gracefully next to the other boy and across from Black, finishing off the square their seated forms made.

“No. You name your brooms?’ He asked, puzzled. Sirius laughed as Potter shook his head at his godfather´s antics. Black passed the Quicksilver over to Potter, who examined it closely with a reverence that made Draco grin before handing it back to the smug Slytherin.

Black was talking all the while. “Yeah, of course! My first broom was Twiggy. She was a Nimbus 1000. She´s nothing compared to the brooms these days, but back then she was top of the line. She was a good broom.’

“Funny to call a broom a she when it´s such a blatant phallic symbol.’ Draco commented blandly, satisfied to see Potter color up so prettily. Black threw back his head and laughed and the Slytherin even won a chuckle from Lupin with the comment. “Don´t give me that scandalized look Potter.’

“Quiet Malfoy.’ Potter ordered, half heartedly kicking out at him. “Is sex all you think about?’ Draco tilted his head to the side, pretending to consider the question gravely.

“Hmm. Sex, food, sex, Quidditch, sex, wanking, sex, potions, and more sex. Seems like it, Potter. Let me guess, Saint Potter has never had a dirty thought in his heroic little head?’ Draco asked, almost purring as he looked through his thick fringe of silver lashes at the Gryffindor who was starting to get flustered. The Slytherin caught Black elbowing Lupin meaningfully and grinning like a loon at them all the while. Obviously, he´d realized that Draco was blatantly flirting with his godson, though the godson in question wasn´t half that swift.

With a head that thick it was no wonder the killing curse had bounced off it.

“No! I mean, yeah, but not like - you know. Oh shut up Malfoy.’

“Ah, always so eloquent Potter. Ow, did you see that? Your godson is beating me up. You horrid brute, you´ve probably bruised me.’ Draco tossed his head in pique, removing the silky strands of wayward hair out of his eyes, and turned away from Potter. He sulked, nursing his aching side from where Potter had slugged him. “You uncivilized beast. I should take points off from Gryffindor for that.’

“Oh, stop it Malfoy. I didn´t hurt you.’ Draco merely sneered in reply, too busy prodding gently at his hurting torso to come up with a proper insult. “You baby. Here, let me see it.’

Harry tugged him over by his arm and pulled up the hem of his jumper, examining the bruise blooming on his ribs. Draco´s taut stomach was bared to the cold as was part of his chest, but Potter ignored his whining about the freezing temperature in favor of examining his ‘wounds´. He could see Black wiggling his eyebrows at Lupin out of the corner of his eyes, though the Boy Who Lived was oblivious to it. Potter gently ran his fingers over the rapidly purpling skin, making Draco shiver. “See, you´ve turned me black and blue.’ He finally managed to say, his voice a bit huskier than it should have been. Not that Potter noticed.

“It´s just a bruise. You´ll heal, so stop pouting.’

“I am not pouting, Potter.’ Draco said, pouting even more as Potter removed his hand. “Are you listening to this? He´s heartless. A callous fiend, damaging my beautiful milky skin.’ Draco sulked as he pulled down his jumper.

“Oh please.’ Potter scoffed, rolling his eyes. “If you want to be vain about looking like an albino freak-’

“Albino freak?!’ Draco hissed in outrage, truly mad now. He might have even been turning pink and he hated that, which just made him angrier.

But Potter forged on, “That´s fine. But don´t expect me to agree with your delusions.’

Draco was livid, but Lupin stepped in. “Harry, apologize to Draco.’

“Er, For hitting him or for the albino crack?’

“Both.’ Said Lupin, implacable. Black was too busy snickering at them all to do anything.

Potter sighed, but complied. “Fine. Malfoy, I´m sorry about punching you. And about calling you an albino freak. You´re um - a rather decent looking bloke.’

“Decent looking? I´m bloody gorgeous, Potter. And at least I´m not a speccy git.’

“Malfoy.’ Lupin warned, his temper obviously wearing short at being forced to play peacemaker. Draco attempted to look contrite, but if Black´s snickering was any clue it wasn´t a very convincing. “Apologize to Harry.’

“I´m sorry you´re a speccy git, Potter.’ He said sincerely, snatching up his broomstick and darting off. “See you around!’ He called before mounting in mid-stride ( because a little showing off never hurt anyone) and flying off towards the entrance of the castle, leaving Lupin to pinch the bridge of his nose, Potter to fume helplessly, and Black to laugh himself sick.

Yes, he was in a much better mood now.

Christmas Eve was a cheery thing, though Draco spent most of his time lobbing the ribbons and confetti from his crackers at Potter and dodging the ones he tossed back. Dumbledore spirits seemed to soar at their almost friendly squabbling, his eyes sparkling brighter than ever. Lupin and Black were so busy whispering to each other they hardly noticed until Potter accidentally hit his godfather in the side of the head with a handful of glitter. Snape, on the other hand, was a black hole of bah-humbugging gloom. He did pause to exchange words with the Headmaster, McGonagall, and Draco, though everyone else received looks of scorn at their jolly cheer.

Draco took the opportunity to slip Longbottom his experimental potion via the pumpkin juice. He had already tried it on a school owl, but since the thing had feathers the only way he´d been able to tell was by its feet. At least it hadn´t died though, so Longbottom was in no danger. McGonagall docked him ten points from Slytherin, but Snape turned around and gave him fifteen for the successful attempt at a new potion and offered to help him get a copyright and a patent on it from the Ministry of Magic. They spent the rest of the meal chatting about the effects of temperature changes during the brewing process of certain potions, boring everyone else within earshot.

Not that those nimrods would understand the beauty of brewing a perfect potion.

After dinner it was off to his room where he finished up an Ancient Runes essay he´d been putting off and then he read a bit before going to sleep. Christmas morning dawned bright and early, but Draco ignored it and stayed in bed until noon, snoozing away. When he finally managed to crawl out of bed, he collected his gifts and took them into his sitting room, plopping down on the leather couch and scratching his bare chest as he counted out his presents. It was a very small amount in comparison to the piles and piles of gifts he usually received. There was only a paltry six, but it was, at the very least, better than nothing at all. He rubbed his hands together and dug in, ripping open his presents with glee.

Snape had sent him Everything an Aspiring Potions Master Needs to Know by Bartholomew Bogtrotter as well as Ten-thousand Tricks of the Potions Trade by Alfalfa Hayseed. They had been wrapped together in plain brown paper, the sort used to bag up potions ingredients, which Draco was both amused and slightly offended by. Really, how much effort did it take to get something decent looking to wrap it in? But it was a very Snape-like thing to do, so he decided not to be too upset about it. The books themselves were charmed against decay and spills, which was a thoughtful convenience. Throughout both books there were many annotations in Snape´s bold handwriting that were both informative and amusing. Draco set them on his bookshelf carefully, grinning with delight at his new acquisitions.

Pansy´s gift was next, though Draco hesitated a moment because of its appearance. It was wrapped in a bright silver paper that glittered blindingly and there was a bouquet of green ribbons that almost covered the package entirely. It took some effort to rip away the frou-frou packaging, but it was more than worth it. Inside was a luxurious Ever-Changing Cloak, spelled to change for each occasion so that Draco would never be without a cloak to match his numerous outfits. In the box it was a dark black velvet, but when Draco put it on it slowly faded to a dark gray and silver runes embroidered on the borders appeared. Of course, Draco would have preferred an invisibility cloak, but they were so rare even the Parkinsons wouldn´t think of giving one away if they ever managed to procure one. At any rate, he was more than happy with this new sartorial addition. His old cloak had been getting a bit threadbare anyway.

Goyle´s offerings were, as usual, painstakingly practical, though Draco liked them all the same. The first was a snitch with a tiny dragon in flight etched into the gold casing between the wings. Madam Hooch was notorious for keeping the Quidditch equipment under close watch and insisting they only be used during scheduled team practices and that using them for anything else had dire consequences. Draco had been forced in the past to resort to having Crabbe or Goyle throw small objects in the air for him to catch or to having Snape charm one to move independently. Of course, Snape´s ‘wand-waving´ wasn´t really up to par and more than once the object had dropped out of the sky as soon as Draco spotted it. Now Draco would be able to practice on his own with a real snitch, which could only mean good things for Slytherin´s prospects at winning the Quidditch Cup. Greg had also gotten him a nice chamois cloth and a special oil manufactured by the Quicksilver Corporation especially for their brooms.

The next gift was a small, jittery rodent with a large tag tied to its cage. The familiar handwriting read:


Professor Lupin suggested I replace your lab rat, seeing as how the last one was Peter Pettigrew and I did sort of take him away. So, here´s his new replacement. because I don´t want Neville to be accidentally poisoned by you one of these days, though I have to admit that potion was sort of cool. Just try not to kill the poor thing.


Laughing to himself, he poked the toffee colored rodent. It sniffed his finger, whiskers all atremble. “Right then. I suppose I should come up with a name for you. Hmm. How do you like Mortimer? I have an Great Uncle Mortimer, you know. He´s got the same beady little eyes you do.’ The rat sniffed a bit more and scuttled around the cage a bit. “Well, that´s settled, then. Mortimer it is.’ Draco set it to the side, secure in the knowledge Dobby or some other house elf would make sure it was fed and watered.

The next present was from Crabbe. It was a small bound book of his sketches and drawings, featuring everything from the Great Hall during the Halloween feast to Draco catching the snitch. They were superbly detailed and quite riveting. Crabbe had a tremendous talent for art that Draco really did envy, which was why the other boy provided a collection of his works he thought the former Malfoy heir might like whenever Christmas rolled around. Draco tucked it away in his trunk, resolving to look through it later when he had time to really pursue them more carefully.

The last present was the smallest and Draco examined it for a moment, shaking it and guessing at what it might be. Finally, he gave in and ripped off the green paper, prying open the small box that held it. It was a heavy silver ring; a serpent with emeralds for eyes eating its own tail in the symbol for eternity. Obviously, it was charmed somehow and there was a note explaining what it did. It allowed the one who wore it to speak Parseltongue, though it would only work for someone who was Slytherin to the core. Draco was surprised Blaise hadn´t kept it for himself, but the other boy went on to explain that he couldn´t use it. Apparently, the Sorting Hat had mulled over whether to stick him in Ravenclaw for a while, but even though Slytherin had won out, he himself could not use it. All in all, it was a very Slytherin gift and, utterly delighted with it, Draco put it on his left thumb since all his other fingers were too slender and his left hand was the hand he wrote with so it would be more noticeable there.

Draco shoved all the wrapping paper in a corner for the house elves to clean up and collected his cloak, hanging it up carefully so it wouldn´t get wrinkled or dusty. With a yawn, he sprawled back on his bed, feeling rather lethargic. He was surprised Potter had even thought to give him a gift, though of course it wasn´t a very personal gift at all, merely a way to keep Draco from tormenting Longbottom any more than usual. He clasped his hands behind his head and thought about the Gryffindor, the way he managed to infuriate Draco with a single indifferent glance or how he always seemed to come out on top no matter what.

Draco snickered. Come out on top indeed.

It was painfully obvious the Boy Who Lived was perfectly happy being heterosexual. And even if he wasn´t and even if he did feel the tiniest bit of attraction towards Draco like the Slytherin suspected he did, Potter certainly had no intention to act on the attraction he felt towards the ‘ferret´ that had spent all of his childhood bullying him. But really, all Draco had wanted was to have Potter´s attention and respect. He´d only wanted to be recognized as the other boy´s equal. Eventually, those intense feelings, negative though they were, had morphed into a tiny crush and from there a full blown fancy for the Gryffindor that never seemed to go away. Draco didn´t like to think about it, but the only things in the room were him and his own thoughts right now. There was no need for denial. He could admit that he was hot for Potter, despite the fact he really didn´t want to feel that way towards him.

It was understandable though.

Harry Potter was handsome, brave, and reasonably intelligent, though Draco would never admit it aloud. The Gryffindor was incredibly lucky to the point of ridiculousness and a damn good flyer. And Potter looked positively yummy flying on his Firebolt. Mmm, Potter in full Quidditch gear with that glint of determination in his brilliant green eyes was quite a sight. No wonder Draco hadn´t ever caught the snitch during a Gryffindor vs. Slytherin match, even when it was fluttering right near his head. And hadn´t that been humiliating? Draco pushed it from his mind and focused on more pleasant thoughts, like Potter in the Gyffindor showers. The mental images of that mop of hair dripping wet and that tan, lean body with rivulets of water running down it distracted him quite thoroughly.

Draco closed his eyes to better savor the image, drawing his hand across his chest to circle a pale, pink nipple with one finger. He ran the fingertips of his other hand over his chest lightly, smiling a little to himself as he settled in for a nice wank. Draco could tell Potter was lean and toned. Rumor had it that Snape had been forced to brew the orphan Up´s-a-Daisy Extract to counteract the effects of malnourishment during his childhood on his growth. No matter how he´d come by it, the Gryffindor was quite a delicious specimen of the male species. Draco particularly liked his shoulders which were broad without making him bulky.

Draco´s hand slipped under the waistband of his pajama bottoms and he rubbed his half-hard cock slowly. He paused to wriggle out of the restrictive clothing and lay down on his bed to get comfortable. He got a better grip on himself and pumped his erection, still plucking at his nipples occasionally with his other hand and squirming at the jolts of pleasure it gave him. He wondered if Potter´s nipples were as sensitive, remembering the eyeful he´d gotten that odd morning he´d roused to find himself in Potter´s bed. All that golden skin on display… Draco groaned, spreading his legs a little and abandoning his nipples to cup his balls gently and roll them in his hand. His pubic hair was a bright golden color, only a tad darker than the platinum hair he slicked back everyday.

He admired his own cock, pleased at the flushed pink color and the perfect shape of it. Large, but not ridiculously so and quite pretty if he did say so himself. Potter would probably be nicely hung; Draco was sure of it. It was too bad Slytherins and Gryffindors didn´t shower together. Draco imagined what it would be like if they did and exactly how he´d take advantage of it as he played with his foreskin, swiping at the head of his cock with his thumb and spreading the precum down the shaft. His breathing was becoming a bit heavier. He wriggled, pleased at the warm sensations spreading throughout his body. Draco hesitated for a moment, his hand pausing, and reached for his nightstand to dig through his things. He dumped the ring he´d recently received on the nightstand and turned his attention back to more important things. Draco wanked regularly, like any sixteen year old boy, but recently he´d been wanting to try something new out. Now seemed as good a time as any.

He finally managed to sort through the clutter and locate the slick lubrication he´d brewed up in Snape´s classroom. Grinning to himself at the thought of sneaking it right under his Head of House´s nose, he uncorked it and poured a bit on his flat stomach, watching it pool and leak down towards his cock. Draco set the bottle aside and smeared the oil on his hand and then on his cock. He made sure the fingers on his left hand, which was his wand hand, had oil on them too and lightly traced them down his balls, pausing to cup them before moving to the sweet spot of skin directly behind them that was so sensitive. He played there for a bit, his other hand still stroking himself hard, before reaching back to circle his entrance.

He paused for more lube and started again, circling back and forth to get used to the sensation. His eyes fluttered closed and he decided it wasn´t too bad at all. Then he probed gently, working one finger inside and wiggling at the odd sensation. It wasn´t bad; it just felt weird. Like he was full where before he´d been empty. He managed to get the one finger all the way inside and pumped it in and out in time with the way he was working his cock. Draco´s breathing was erratic now, coming in loud pants and he was almost constantly shifting on the bed.

With a bit of time and patience, not to mention control, he managed to get both his index and middle finger inside him. It felt so good, he didn´t know why all boys didn´t do it, or perhaps it was just that he was simply more sensitive than most. His fingers bumped up against something, some little spot directly hardwired to his cock that made sparks go off behind his eyes, and Draco whimpered. He didn´t know if he could stand it, it felt so good. Like the pleasurable twin of the Cruciatus Curse. “Oh! Oh fuck. Right there, oh yeah.’ Draco made sure to work the spot as often as possible, his head thrown back as his hands worked rapidly within and on his body. It felt so good it almost hurt, but Draco couldn´t have stopped even if he wanted to.

His hips were thrusting off the bed and then back on his fingers, working himself between his hands roughly so that no matter how he moved he was heading towards orgasm. Draco was making tiny involuntary sounds despite himself, completely beyond controlling his voice at this point. His mouth was open, lips wet from where he´d licked them, and his face was set an expression that conveyed something close to ecstasy. It felt so good he didn´t ever want to stop. With a hoarse shout, Draco´s hips snapped up one last time, his back arched, and he came harder than he ever had before.

Draco came for what felt like forever, his toes curling at the intense experience as his whole body shuddered, but eventually he sank back onto the bed, worn out. His muscles were lax and his mind hazy, his eyes only at half mast. He felt very, very good, though he suspected when he could feel his limbs again he´d have a leg cramp. Draco snickered, wiping himself off with his sheet and twitching when his sensitive bits came into contact with the material. “Happy Christmas to me.’ He rolled over and out of the wet spot, snuggling down for a post-orgasm nap. Draco found himself drifting off into the realm of dreams while his body hummed with satisfaction. “Bes´ presen´ ever.’ He murmured to himself with a last chuckle before sleep claimed him completely.

That night at dinner, seated between Longbottom and Morag MacDougal with Potter across from him, Draco found himself blushing. It was ridiculous of course, but he couldn´t help it. The vivid memory of what he´d done, thinking of Potter as he´d got himself off like that, was deliciously naughty and he flushed with both embarrassment and arousal despite his best efforts. Snape gave him an odd look at the color rising on his normally pale cheeks, but thankfully no one mentioned anything.

He glanced up at Potter discreetly from beneath his eyelashes, studying the boy´s firm jaw and smiling lips as Potter had a discussion with Lupin about werewolf rights or some such nonsense. Draco cut his eyes away and towards the Hall´s ceiling, having no desire to be caught staring, and smoothed back his wet hair. He had been forced to take a shower earlier and had lingered in the bath for a long while to soak muscles still knotted from the intensity of his orgasm. His bum wasn´t too sore, merely sensitive, so he was able to sit easily. Every time he shifted in his chair the blush grew a bit darker, so he forced himself to stillness like his mother had schooled him to and concentrated on eating instead of the handsome boy across from him. It was a good thing his friends weren´t around or they would have sniffed out his odd behavior immediately and pestered him about it until Draco cracked under the pressure and roared at them to leave him the hell alone. He knew this from experience.

In a bid to distract himself from mooning over Potty like some lame third year Hufflepouf, he started up a conversation with MacDougal and spent the rest of the meal debating about the Four Founders. It was interesting, comparing his opinions with someone from a different house. The discussion was relatively mild until the Ravenclaw started spouting off lies like they were gospel.

The other boy was expounding on some point, but Draco completely lost the thread of conversation when MacDougal offhandedly rambled on. “…incredibly long life spans back then. I mean, we all know that Slytherin was killed by Gryffindor fifty years after he left Hogwarts, but Rowena on the other hand-’

“What? Slytherin wasn´t killed by Gryffindor! Are you off your nut?’ MacDougal, a Ravenclaw to the core, was deeply offended at the suggestion that he was wrong. The insufferable know-it-all.

“Not at all. Or haven´t you read Hogwarts, A History?’ He said snottily, obviously still feeling the sting of Draco´s scornful comments.

Draco curled his lip arrogantly at the other boy. “Of course, but that´s been censored. Everybody with half a clue knows that´s the watered down version of Hogwarts´ history. After all, according to it, the Chamber of Secrets doesn´t exist and Potter proved that wrong, didn´t he? That book´s mostly misinformation and rumors. The truth, on the other hand, is much more interesting.’

MacDougal snorted. “Oh, like you know what really happened. Come off it, Malfoy.’ Draco sneered at the other boy, sitting back in his chair.

“I´ve managed to read a number of old books, original copies mind you, that are extremely rare on a large variety of subjects. The Malfoy library is quite extensive and its Dark Arts section is much larger than Hogwarts´ Restricted Section. ’

“No doubt about that.’ MacDougal murmured. “So what exactly do you think happened?’ Draco smirked, sipping at his pumpkin juice for a moment. He noticed that Potter was listening to them attentively, almost hanging on his every word. A thrill ran through him and he continued on more smoothly, in a much calmer voice.

“Slytherin left Hogwarts and retired to his home, Slytherin´s Citadel, in the fens. No one really knew where it was of course, because it was hidden, except for Salazar himself and the other founders. He started meddling in the Dark Arts, the really rank stuff, like You Know Who. The really addictive spells, the kind off thing you loose your soul to. Anyway, he had this theory. You know how wands work?’

MacDougal nodded, his indignation completely forgotten. He was caught up in the tale. “Yes. I know the wand chooses the wizard and that often times the wood and the core of the wand speak a lot about the wizard it chooses.’

“You´re right about that. The Malfoys are distantly related to the Ollivanders you know, so our library is full of books on it. A wand is a focus for your magic, a lens if you would. Without a wand, the magic´s wild and unpredictable and wandless magic only occurs in young children who are destined to become powerful wizards once they receive their wand and start their schooling. I myself was able to accio things when I was little.’ He gloated a bit, ignoring MacDougal´s rolled eyes.

“Greedy little thing, weren´t you? Bet your first word was ‘mine´.’

“Second, the first was Mummy.’ He glowered at the snickers the revelation caused. “Shut up, MacDougal. Do you want to hear the rest or not?’

“Yes, please.’ Potter was still listening intently, his green eyes focused on Draco. The Slytherin cleared his throat and continued on.

“Alright then. As I´m sure you know, true mastery of wandless magic is almost unheard of and Merlin himself was the last wizard to have that ability. Salazar Slytherin wanted it too, but he didn´t have the control for wandless magic. He spent years trying to work it out, to no avail. So finally, he tried to turn his own body into a focus; He was trying to make himself into a wand. It would have given him incredible power and theoretically he would have been able to channel magic directly from ley lines. Of course, it didn´t work. He ended up burning himself out and it killed him. Gryffindor had been sent to stop him, like your beloved Hogwarts, A History says, but Slytherin had already managed to defeat himself and raze his home to the ground. All that was left was a few scorched bones and those were buried in the Tor. Ironic really, that his own ambition was his undoing.’

“Wow. How fascinating.’

“That´s the problem with Ravenclaws, you tend to take everything you read at face value.’

“And the problem with Slytherins is you never take anything at face value.’ MacDougal retorted quickly and they laughed together.

Draco snickered to himself. “Better than Hufflepuffs, who can barely figure out how to open books in the first place or Gryffindors who use them for doorstops.’

“Hey!’ Potter cut into the conversation sharply. “We do not! Well, no one but Seamus at least. Look at Hermione.’

“That one should have been a Ravenclaw.’ MacDougal said dismissively and Draco nodded his agreement.

“He´s right. The Sorting Hat is a piece of trash. It only comes in handy when a first year has no clue where they belong. More often than not, the students sorts themselves. She probably wanted to be in Gryffindor. Look at Longbottom, he´s a Hufflepuff if I ever saw one.’

“I´m sitting right here, you know Malfoy. I can hear you.’

“And you think that´s going to stop me?’ Draco said, sending him a scathing glance that made Longbottom examine his fork like it was the most interesting thing in the world. Satisfied that the other boy had been properly cowed, he turned back to Potter. “Anyway, look at you. With the way you break rules you could have made quite the Slytherin. Just don´t tell Snape I said that or he´d skin me alive.’

Longbottom looked shocked. “You think Harry would make a good Slytherin? What have you been drinking, Malfoy?’

“Not alcohol, that´s for sure. Though I wouldn´t mind some.’ His tone was wistful for a moment, which made MacDougal laugh, before he continued speaking. “I´m right though and you know it. Potter can be a bit of a bastard when he puts his mind to it. I think I would know, considering the past five years.’

Harry looked abashed. “You of all people probably would and, well.’ The Gryffindor hesitated, before continuing on tentatively. “The Sorting Hat did say I would do well in Slytherin.’

“Ha! Told you!’

MacDougal shrugged. “Not surprising. Everyone has a bit of another house in them, sometimes more than one and I can´t see you being a Hufflepuff. And your studies are abysmal, really. Ravenclaw would kick you out.’

“Hey, I do fine in my studies.’ Potter said, sticking up for himself.

Draco laughed. “You take Divination, Potter. It´s not the most academically challenging course, you know. Trelawny´s an old bat if there ever was one.’

“At least she doesn´t look like a bat. Like some professors.’ Longbottom said quietly, shooting a look towards Snape who was glowering at the Headmaster. The old nutter was offering the Potions professor sweets and beaming at him in jovial manner that made Draco feel sorry for Snape.

Draco, staunch defender of all things Slytherin, spoke up. “He´s not as bad as you think. He just can´t stand incompetents. Which basically means you, Longbottom.’

“Watch it, Malfoy.’ Potter warned, his eyes sparking with anger. Draco almost went off on a ranting diatribe, but was distracted by the Gryffindor´s hotness. Oh, but he detested hormones.

Instead of ranting or jumping the Boy Who Lived he settled for a shrug, which made Longbottom gawk at him. “Fine. It is still Christmas Day so I suppose I could tone it down for once. Season to be jolly and all that.’ His dry voice made MacDougal snicker.

“The day you´re jolly is the day I brew a perfect potion.’ Longbottom muttered and he was shocked when Draco actually laughed, a real warm laugh that seemed to draw in all who heard it. Draco let the laughter die down and smiled, shaking his head at the thought. He didn´t notice Potter was looking at him with delighted astonishment in his eyes.

School resumed far too soon, as it was wont to do, and Draco´s crush on Potter got worse. The awful thing about it was that it seemed to grow exponentially. The Slytherin was tremendously afraid that he´d find himself writing sonnets about Potter´s eyebrows or some such drivel. Speaking of lovelorn fools, Tracy Davis´ parents had taken a shine to Blaise and apparently were already making plans for the wedding and what to name the children to Zabini´s despair. He wasn´t getting away though, Davis had him by the balls and wasn´t about to let go anytime soon. It must have been the season for romance. Draco was aware Vince and Millicent Bulstrode were getting it on, but only peripherally because he made damn sure he didn´t learn any details. Because eww. Sex with girls was bad enough, but sex with Bulstrode was just plain nasty. Not that Crabbe was any better to be honest.

At any rate, things were fairly normal. Pansy was teasing him about Potter on a daily basis and the Mudblood was kicking his arse in Arithmancy again. Peony was back in school and fairly subdued. No one dared to tease her, not with Draco, Pansy, and the others glowering at anyone who breathed funny at her. There was an inherent promise in their gazes that they would inflict agony beyond imagining if anyone made her feel even the tiniest bit bad. A lot of the girls in the school had softened to Draco once they saw how protective he was of his little pseudo-sister, despite the numerous nasty things he´d done in the past. Apparently, he had shown himself to be vaguely human and the lot of brainless dunderheads had this idea he was some knight in shining armor. Yeah, right. And next he´d be petitioning for House elf rights.

The worst thing about the whole situation though was that there was a possibility the Weaselette might have had a crush on him. The very thought was sickening, not to mention ludicrous. She didn´t have a chance in hell, yet she persisted in her ridiculous mooning. He was fairly certainly he was as gay as a sixteen year old boy could be and to be fair he´d never give a male Weasley a second look either. She seemed to be doomed to fancy boys who didn´t even know she existed. Though, he did have to admit the Weasley wench had very good taste in men.

Unfortunately for her, so did Draco.

Draco spent most of his time the next two weeks or so working diligently on his homework and personal projects, helping Snape, fulfilling his duty as a prefect, attending those stupid prefect meetings, checking Potter out as often as possible when no one else was looking, avoiding the mini-weasel, practicing with his new snitch, and keeping up with the Hogwarts´ gossip mill. Though, it appeared that he hadn´t done as good a job with the last as he had believed.

Even with his numerous contacts throughout the castle, he was as surprised as everyone else when the Headmaster announced that there would be a Valentine´s Day Ball at the Head girl´s suggestion next month. The old coot had felt it necessary to raise the morale of his students and Chang´s suggestion had fit perfectly with his plans. Several of the prefects were in a snit that they hadn´t been consulted by the Head girl first and Draco spent a few days being smug that Chang´s lack of people skills had struck again. The upcoming Ball sent the school into a flurry of activity and rumor, mostly concerning who was going together and what they would be wearing.

He, of course, didn´t give a fig about it considering that he had a match against Hufflepuff coming up on top of all the usual things. The mangy badgers had already played Gryffindor and lost miserably earlier in October, though he´d been too busy with his potions to really notice. Pucey had diligently taken notes on their opponents though and Draco trusted his head for strategy. The Quidditch Captain wasn´t barmy for broomsticks like that Wood fellow, but he was clever and he followed the game faithfully enough. The Slytherin team had taken to practicing three days out of the week, not including the ten hours of personal training Pucey insisted they get in on their own time. He may not have been Quidditch mad, but as a Slytherin his ambition extended to winning the Quidditch Cup this year and Merlin help the poor sod who got in his way.

Still, even with all the things keeping him busy he did notice that everyone else was absorbed with the thought of a Valentine´s Day Ball. Crabbe and Bulstrode were going together as a couple and so was Tracey Davis and Blaise. There was an unspoken agreement between Pansy and Draco that they would end up going together, one that was made with a single raised eyebrow from Draco and a nod from his friend. Gregory, on the other hand, was frantic for a date and had brought it up during their most recent A.S.H. meeting. The other members had agreed to help him find a girl to escort to the Ball, teasing him lightheartedly about it just to get a rise out of the usually stoic Slytherin.

They´d settled on Mandy Brocklehurst and Pansy somehow finagled her into being Goyle´s date. Draco suspected heavy bribes had done the trick, but for the sake of Greg´s dignity had kept his opinions on the matter to himself. He could be tactful on occasion after all; he just chose not to be most of the time. He had wistful thoughts of going to the event with Potter at his side, but it was so utterly ridiculous he felt like a complete Hufflepuff for even thinking it. For one, it would never happen and even if by some twist of fate it could, he didn´t want the female population of the wizarding world out for his blood.

But the thought of his father´s expression if the old man caught sight of the headlines it would cause was enough to make him snicker helplessly.

He pushed it out of his mind as sentimental claptrap, concentrating on his responsibilities instead of impossibilities. With the upcoming Hufflepuff game to occupy his thoughts it was easier than he expected it to be, even if he did spend an inordinate amount of time wanking his brains out.

The Slytherin team trampled Hufflepuff into the ground, managing to give their Keeper a concussion with a well placed bludger and one of their beaters a dislocated shoulder thanks to a nasty cobbing incident. Hufflepuff games were always so boring Greg and Vince took to playing whack the Hufflepouf, which often led to amusing injuries and many called fouls. Pucey allowed it since the penalty shots the other team got for it didn´t even come close to closing the lead between them and it was really the only way to make the game even vaguely interesting.

Draco caught the snitch only eight minutes into the game, which was a record for him. The little golden ball had been fluttering behind the Slytherin goal post farthest to the right and the other Seeker Ernie MacMillian, who had been on the other side of the pitch, didn´t even have a chance of catching it. Winning was wonderful of course, but once the Hufflepuff game was over and done with, all he had left to concentrate on was the upcoming Ball and how he wanted straddle Potter´s lap and snog him senseless.

It got so bad that he completely phased out during their shared Defense Against the Dark Arts class. If Lupin noticed Draco´s blatant staring or glazed expression he was kind enough not to mention it in front of the class. Sitting next to Pansy, (who had drawn the short straw and was taking notes for everyone to copy later) he rested his elbow on the desk and cradled his chin in his hand, going off into a daze of fantasies involving the use of Gryffindor ties as bondage aids.

Lupin was rambling on about the natural habitat of giants (boring) and everyone was pretty much zoning out on the lecture, except for Granger of course, whose quill was moving faster than the speed of light. The Weasel had fallen asleep from what Draco could tell and Potter, who was sitting in the aisle seat, had rested his head on his arms. Draco had a direct line of sight to the Gryffindor who was sitting one seat up and across the aisle from him. His glasses were crooked and his head was tilted forward so the back of his neck was exposed. It looked so vulnerable like that, with a few dark wisps of hair coming to a point on the nape of his neck. Draco wanted to pet him there, ever so softly, and blow against his neck just to see him shiver.

The Slytherin shifted in his seat and arranged his robes so his erection was less noticeable, tossing his seatmate a warning glance when she snickered knowingly at him. He returning back to his Potter-ponderings, wondering if Lupin was so caught up in his lecture that he wouldn´t notice a certain Slytherin sneaking out of his seat and across the floor to slip under Potter´s desk and between the sprawl of his legs. In reality, Potter would probably knee him in the face and scream bloody murder, but then again he might just settle down in his seat and let Draco suck him off.

Of course, with Draco´s luck Weasley would wake up and do enough screaming for all three of them.

Free blow jobs here, two for one special even! He thought at Potter as hard as he could. Aww, come on. No teeth guarantee. I´ll even swallow, promise. Potter stirred in his seat and gave a lazy glance around the classroom, his eyes catching on Draco who made sure he wasn´t caught staring. Oh shit, did he hear me? Potter yawned before resting his head in his arms once more.

Draco tentatively thought at him again. Hey Potter? Hello? He didn´t know whether to be relieved or disappointed when Potter didn´t move again. Of course he knew for a fact the Boy Who Lived wasn´t psychic or he´d have charged Draco for sexual harassment a long time ago, but Draco had learned the hard way not to underestimate the Gryffindor and magic was a very strange, often times unpredictable, thing.

And then he had a thought that made him smirk mischievously. He turned his head so he was looking at Pansy´s Slytherin badge and concentrated on the embroidered snake. After all, now was as good a time as any to find out if Blaise´s ring worked. This is so boring. He hissed quietly, startled at the sibilant sounds he made. Ha! This was great! Pansy glanced over at him before shaking her head and returning to her notes, obviously having dismissed the sounds she heard as something else. The hissing was so quiet it was almost sub vocal and as long as no one caught his mouth moving he´d be okay.

Potter sat bolt upright in his seat, head twisting about as he searched urgently for the speaker. “Hermione. Did you hear that?’ He whispered to his friend.

“Hear what? Pay attention, Harry. This is important.’

“Are you sure? I could have sworn-’

“Is there a problem, Harry? And that´s three points from Gryffindor for talking in class. ’ Lupin said calmly, strolling down the aisle to give Potter a chiding look. Potter blushed and a few snickers filled the room.

“Er, no. No problem at all. Sorry, Professor.’

“Right, then. As I was saying, they live in family groups of five or more…’ And the lecture droned on once more. Potter sat back in his seat, looking puzzled. Don´t think too hard about it. I wouldn´t want your brain to explode. Draco hissed again, this time looking at his ring so Pansy didn´t get the idea he was ogling her breasts, though considering his preferences that was unlikely.

Who are you? Potter hissed back suspiciously, sinking in his seat so he was less noticeable. The sound of Potter speaking in parseltongue made the hairs on the back of Draco´s neck prickle. It was so hot, in a creepy sort of way, just like he remembered from second year.

Oh, this was fun, though yanking Potter´s chain always was. The ghost of Ulric the Oddball. And I´m here to torment you. Heehee. The equivalent of a serpentine giggle slipped out and Draco clamped his lips shut to prevent it from escaping again.

Potter´s messy head of hair was craning about every which way and when he looked towards Draco the Slytherin raised one eyebrow and gave him a look that clearly stated he believed the other boy was insane. Blushing, Potter turned back around and ducked his head down. Ulric the Oddball, my arse. Hissed the Gryffindor golden boy.

Your arse, indeed. And what a very nice arse it is. It took a Herculean amount of effort not to burst into laughter at the look that flashed across Potter´s face at hearing this. Draco hadn´t thought it was possible for someone´s eyes to get quite that big.

Who are you? And where are you? Are you a snake? Then as an afterthought he hissed vehemently. And leave my arse out of this!

Draco couldn´t help it, hearing that scandalized tone in Parseltongue made him burst into giggles. Actual giggles! It was bad enough he had to laugh, but sounding like a third year Hufflepuff girl wasn´t exactly helping matters. Pansy was looking at him incredulously. “Mr. Malfoy, is there something you find amusing about giants slaughtering helpless villages?’ Potter was eyeing him suspiciously with narrowed eyes. Damn it.

“Uh, no Professor. I apologize. I was just remembering a joke someone told me. I didn´t mean to disturb your class.’ He smiled up angelically at the werewolf, ignoring Pansy´s snort of derision at his attempt to appear innocent.

Lupin gave him a warning look, but continued on. “Five points from Slytherin. Just don´t do it again, Mr. Malfoy. As I was saying, there were three hundred and seventy five casualties that day. Now, if you remember the Goblin-Giant wars covered in History of Magic…’

Malfoy? Potter hissed questioningly once things had settled down again.

Yes, he has a nice arse too. What about it? He made sure his head was turned towards Pansy as he spoke Parseltongue and he pinched his own thigh hard to prevent the laughter that bubbled up inside him from escaping.

Apparently, Potter wasn´t going to touch that one. Is that you Malfoy? Draco decided not to answer. He´d flirted long enough with the Boy Who Had No Clue. That, and he knew it would drive Potter absolutely insane.

Potter questioned him several more times, but Draco kept silent, far too busy enjoying the Gryffindor´s frustration to spoil his own fun. Eventually, Potter settled down for a sulk and Draco went back to his familiar habit of discretely staring at him and wishing he was naked.

Potter´s brow was knit with concentration and he paused to take off his glasses and rub his eyes before polishing his spectacles on his robes. Draco had noticed those ugly glasses were almost always smudged or held together with spellotape of some sort, though all thoughts fled his mind once Potter had taken them off. Their removal left his brilliant green eyes open and unshielded for a few moments, which managed to rivet Draco´s attention. Potter´s hands were calloused and tan, working skillfully to wipe off the lens of his glasses as he squinted at them critically. The Gryffindor put them back on and slumped in his seat, obviously stumped at the situation.

Not that Draco cared because he was too busy undressing Potter with his eyes.

He let his gaze linger on the curve of Potter´s cheek and the swell of his broad shoulder, dragging his eyes down to the outline of one thigh under the obscuring robes. Wizarding society was so modest that even the sight of Potter´s bare throat revealed by his undone tie was immensely erotic. And the memory of those tight Quidditch trousers was enough to make Draco drool.

Unfortunately, the myriad of images managed to revive his erection again and he spent the rest of the class fidgeting in his chair and making sure his hands were on his desk at all times lest he start rubbing at his crotch subconsciously. The last time he´d done that had been during a Quidditch match he´d been watching during his fifth year (A Gryffindor-Ravenclaw one now that he thought about it, damn Potter´s flying skills anyway) and Pansy had spent the rest of the month teasing him mercilessly for it. But oh, the boy knew how to fill out a pair of trousers.

By the time class ended he could feel his pulse pounding in his cock and he knew there was a damp spot on his trousers. Thankfully, robes were not only concealing, but thick and dark enough so that any moisture produced wouldn´t show up. “See you in Care of Magical Creatures.’ He muttered hurriedly to Pansy and dashed out of the room as quickly as possible. He walked swiftly through the hallway, making a left and hurrying down a moving staircase before it shifted so that he ended up in an empty corridor. Draco strode towards a likely looking classroom, slipping inside and looking about.

Thankfully enough it was empty and abandoned, the perfect place to get rid of his problem. He shrugged off his robes and took a seat on the teacher´s desk, a huge walnut monstrosity he probably could have laid down on if he´d wished to. Sitting would do the job though, so he didn´t bother with anything else. Draco patted his pockets down for his wand, finding it and casting the spell he had in mind quickly. It was a harmless spell, if a rather obscure one, mostly used by contortionists that made bones pliable.

Draco unzipped his pants with a sigh of relief, taking his hard and leaking cock out of his pants. Then, with the charm doing what it was supposed to, he bent in half and took his erection into his mouth. He closed his eyes at the feeling of his mouth being filled so perfectly and hummed, pleased at the vibrations it caused. Sucking cock was one of his favorite pastimes, though to be honest he´d only practiced on his own. It was one situation in which he´d attempted to find out if practice did indeed make perfect. Though, really who could blame him?

The Slytherin used his tongue liberally, prodding at the sensitive slit and swirling it around the head of his cock. With all the talking he did he hadn´t been very surprised with how skillfully he could use it. Draco controlled his breathing carefully and took his erection in all the way, deep-throating it easily and swallowing around the hard length in his throat. The rhythm he set was steady, but fast and he made sure to tongue the sensitive head of his cock every time he pulled up. One of his hands had slipped into his trousers to play with his balls while the other steadied him on the desk as he worked his mouth quickly on his own erection. It was surprising how hard it was to balance when one was busy practicing fellatio on themselves.

He managed to make his moans relatively quiet, though the wet sounds his mouth made couldn´t quite be helped. The dry finger he pressed inside himself carefully was what put him over the edge and he swallowed his own come, shuddering and breathing unevenly. He pulled off with a last slurp and tucked him cock away. Draco licked his lips carefully, savoring the salty taste as he put his robe back on and tidied himself up. A swish and flick of his wand followed by “Finite Incantatum.’ rendered his bones normal once more. He set off towards Hagrid´s cabin with a smile on his face. Ten minutes to get off, with five left to reach his destination before he was late.

And if his lips were a little swollen when he arrived to class, who was going to notice?

February fourteenth arrived with a fanfare of pink, red, and white streamers as well as floating hearts in the Great Hall. Then there was the glitter, which for some reason had taken to appearing over Snape´s head. Draco had thought it hilarious until it had done the same thing to him seconds later. There was a profusion of Valentines, some of the singing variety while others were actually edible. During breakfast the air was so thick with owls Draco had to pick seven different feather´s off his plate. He received a hefty pile of Valentines, mostly from girls. One from a seventh year Slytherin contained a pair of silk knickers and he studied them with wide eyes. The skimpy black garment looked like it would barely cover anything at all. Draco carefully avoided making eye contact with the dark haired girl leering at him from the end of the table and managed to get Goyle to wear them on his head, just for laughs.

Draco was thankful for the sweets he received, but the rest of it was trash as far as he was concerned. He used a few well aimed Incendio spells to reduce his pile of drivel-spouting, glittery Valentines to ash. The look on Snape´s face when he received the anonymous Valentine A.S.H had thought up, complete with the sappy voice to read it out loud, was more than worth the risk of getting caught. Snape received about a total of three Valentines, which was odd considering the other two weren´t pranks as far as Draco knew, (one might have even been from Pansy) but that was nothing in comparison to the fifty plus dumped in front of Draco.

If Draco´s amount of mail was sizeable, Potter´s was absolutely humongous. The other Gryffinors helped the Boy Who Lived pick through the large pile of Valentines, tossing out the scary obsessive ones while Granger tested the sweets for love potions. Draco approved wholeheartedly of her efforts.

After all, one could never be too cautious.

Draco had bought new dress robes earlier that month for the Ball at Pansy´s insistence, though why his appearance was of concern to her was beyond him. It wasn´t like she´d do more than laugh her arse off at him if he looked funny. They had the day off, ostensibly to prepare for the ball, though he suspected it was because there was a staff meeting. Draco spent his time on the Quidditch pitch practicing with his snitch to avoid Pansy´s ‘helpful advice´ or in other words her critical comments about everything from his hair to his shoes.

When five o´clock rolled around he went to bathe in the prefects bathroom, ducking inside just when Hannah Abbot rounded the corner. Her face fell when she saw that he´d beat her to it already. Laughing at the disappointed expression on her face, he cleaned himself up and then retired to his room to get ready. He didn´t bother to gel his hair back as he was aware of Potter´s preferences.

His attire consisted of white dragon hide boots, white trousers, a white dress shirt, a white brocade vest embroidered with silver and gold thread in a pattern of overlapping feathers, a gold tie, his opal tiepin and cufflinks, and an iridescent white over robe made of sumptuous silk velvet that opened in the front. He clasped it shut near his collar bone with his silver dragon pin, the one with diamonds for eyes he had gotten for his fourteenth birthday from his mother. The sleeves of the robe were a bit fuller than Draco was used to, but they did go well with the rest of the outfit. For the final touch, he put on his Ever-Changing cloak and was delighted when the material changed into thick, snow leopard fur. He spent the next fifteen minutes fiddling with his hair, finally settling for a style that let his short platinum hair fall in a stylishly tousled manner around his face without looking ridiculously messy. As far as Draco knew only Potter could pull off that look successfully and some mornings when the ridiculous cowlick near the back of his head popped up and refused to be moved even that was debatable.

Draco took one last look at himself in his mirror and nodded in satisfaction. “You look absolutely perfect.’ It simpered at him and he left his room without bothering to thank it because of course he did. He was Draco Malfoy after all.

Draco sauntered through the corridors, feeling quite arrogant at his elegant appearance, and into the Slytherin common room where Crabbe was suffering through Millicent Bulstrode´s attempts to button the top of his robes and almost choking the poor sod in the process. Zabini and his girlfriend were snuggling on the common room couch and Goyle was shuffling nervously from foot to foot, looking anxiously in the mirror in the corner that was trying to help him slick back a stubborn tuft of hair. The rest of the Slytherins were either running about frantically taking care of last minute things or sitting quietly around the common room and waiting for their counterparts to finish up.

When Draco entered everyone turned to look and see who it was as he posed negligently in the doorway. A few whistles and catcalls sounded, which made Draco laugh delightedly. “Now, now ladies. Enough of that. You wouldn´t want your dates to get jealous, would you? Is Pansy ready yet?’ Crabbe swatted Bulstrode´s hands away unbuttoned the first two buttons of his dress robes again as he replied.

“No, ‘course not. She´s fixing her hair. You know how long she takes.’

Blaise groaned. “We´ll be here forever! Tracy, love, why don´t you tell her Draco´s here and waiting impatiently for her to finish up? That might get her to hurry up a bit.’

“Of course darling.’ She stood up and brushed a kiss across his cheek before making her way towards the sixth year girl´s dorms in a graceful flurry of swishing robes. They were a dark crimson color that looked good with her dark hair, not to mention Blaise´s gypsy coloring and black formal dress robes. Crabbe and Goyle´s outfits were black too, the color Slytherin boys favored because they couldn´t go wrong with it. Draco on the other hand, avoided it as often as possible, especially for formal clothes. Black robes washed him out and made him look funny, as he´d learned to his chagrin from the Yule Ball during his fourth year.

After what seemed to be ages, Pansy and Tracy finally appeared. Pansy was dolled up in low cut dress robes of dark royal blue that brought out the color in her eyes and showed off her cleavage. Her hair was done up elegantly in curls. Draco was pleased his date looked so sophisticated. “You look lovely Pansy.’ He held his arm out for her and she took it, smiling up at him.

“Why thank you. And you have outdone yourself, haven´t you Draco? Is everyone ready?’ There were grumbles and murmurs of agreement as everyone prepared to depart. The Ambitious Slytherins of Hogwarts and their dates (minus Goyle´s) filed out of the common room, leaving early in the hopes of getting good seats near the punchbowl. The furor from the common room died down the farther they walked until there was only the dripping of the dungeons to be heard.

They chattered together on the way to the Great Hall, Tracy and Pansy giggling to each other while Millicent scolded Vince for slouching. Zabini spent his time gazing at his girlfriend with a stupid, moony look on his face. Goyle was fiddling with his sleeve and looking unusually nervous. Draco rolled his eyes at them all and straightened his shoulders, silently hoping his hair was behaving itself.

The Great Hall was even more gaudy than it had been that morning and Draco blinked in the hopes it would prevent the sight of all that glitter becoming permanently burned into retinas. They strolled into the Hall, looking around at the decorations and laughing at the sillier things as they made their way towards the corner near the punchbowl. A good number of Ravenclaws were already there as was all the staff. Draco looked around for Potter, but apparently he hadn´t arrived yet. “Here we are. Let me get that for you, Pansy.’ He pulled out her chair automatically for her before taking his own seat to her left. “And look, there´s Snape brooding near Madame Hooch. And Merlin´s beard, those robes of hers are short.’ Pansy spotted her beloved Potions professor immediately and laughed.

“Oh, the poor dear. You can tell he just wants to go back to his dungeons. And just think, as prefects we´re required to dance at least two times with members of the staff. I´m going to try and corner him for a dance before he leaves to patrol the gardens for snogging students.’

“Try a waltz.’ Draco advised as he removed his cloak so it swirled around him before setting it on the back of his chair. “Anything else is probably too trendy for him.’

“I certainly can´t see him doing the polka.’ Blaise chipped in dryly, causing everyone to laugh at the mental image his words brought to mind. Soon everyone was there and Dumbledore made a few announcements Draco proceeded to ignore. He got himself and Pansy some punch before someone decided to spike it and then asked her to dance.

It was familiar and soothing, after all he´d learned how to dance with Pansy as his partner under the instruction of his etiquette coach, Narcissa, and Pansy´s mother. They moved gracefully together, anticipating one another´s moves and avoiding less skilled couples. Draco snickered when Longbottom ran into the refreshment table and got pudding on his robes. He danced three times with Pansy, twice with Tracy because Blaise knew he wouldn´t make a move on her, and once with a fourth year Slytherin girl who was pretty, but had been sitting on the sidelines like a wallflower for some reason. After Draco danced with her the other Slytherin boys were clamoring around her admiringly, suddenly made aware of the fact she was worth a second glance.

He even danced once with McGonagall and was surprised when she thanked him for the turn around the floor. Draco loved to dance because it was something he was exceptional at. Not to mention it was simply fun. He also danced with Madame Pomfrey to fulfill his requirements as a prefect and even though she was plump, she moved like she weighed nothing at all. He had briefly considered dancing with Madame Hooch before he had spotted Pomfrey, but those robes of hers scared him something awful. Though he supposed if she had the legs it only made sense to flaunt them, not that he was in a position to really appreciate them.

Draco took his seat, but his fellow Slytherins were on the dance floor and he hated to sit alone like some sort of loser. The Slytherin made his way towards the Gryffindor side of the room, ignoring the looks he garnered at his approach. He sidled up next to Granger, hiding a grin at the weird face Ron Weasley made once he saw Draco. “Miss Granger, would you care to dance?’

“Listen you slimy Slytherin, she doesn´t want to dance with a ferret like you! Sod off!’ Weasley shouted, his face becoming a violent shade of red.

Granger, who actually looked quite nice in her light blue robes, addressed her angry friend. “I can speak for myself, Ron.’ Having put him in his place, she turned to Draco. “Why should I dance with you Malfoy?’ It was said calmly enough, but there was a scornful undertone lurking behind her words.

Draco inclined his head respectfully, smirking a little. “Because I won´t step on your feet for one. I want to dance with an interesting conversationalist and Pansy´s busy cornering Snape. I won´t even say the M-word, I swear.’

Granger pursed her lips thoughtfully, obviously undecided. The Weasel was almost apoplectic. “Are you MAD?! He´s Malfoy! You can´t dance with him!’

“I can´t?’ She said sharply and Draco, well versed with the way the female mind worked thanks to Pansy, had to hide a smirk. The Weasel was just burying himself deeper and deeper. “I can dance with whomever I please Ron, even if it is Malfoy.’

“He´s a slimy git Hermione and he probably just wants in your knickers!’ Granger´s eyes narrowed and her nostrils flared, her hands fisting at her sides. Draco took a step back, just to be cautious. He knew that look; that was look he had seen right before she´d slapped him their third year.

Granger´s voice was very cold when she spoke and oddly enough it reminded him of his mother in a snit. It made him feel a burst of warmth towards her, mudblood though she was. Anyone who could sound that disdainful deserved a modicum of respect. “I know this may seem like a foreign concept to you Ron, but some boys actually care about what´s in between a girl´s ears, not what´s in between their legs. Come on Malfoy.’ Draco let her lead the way and followed, grinning at the Weasel who was busy pounding his fist into the table and muttering obscenities. She turned on him, next. “Don´t bother looking smug. This has nothing to do with you. I´m just proving a point to Ron.’

“I know. It´s not that. His face has turned quite an amusing shade of plum.’

She craned her neck around to look and rolled her eyes when she caught sight of the other Gryffindor. Draco took her hand and automatically fell into the proper stance, leading her skillfully when the music started again. “Did you really want to dance with me or were you just baiting Ron?’ There was genuine curiosity in her voice. Draco grinned at her, guiding her around the bumbling Longbottom.

“To be completely honest, both. And I have a few questions about your most recent Arithmancy essay. When you were discussing the fine points of Sissleby´s Rules of Equality, did you realize the fifth rule contradicts the ninth? I didn´t quite get that.’

Granger´s interest was captured immediately. “Oh, no. It doesn´t at all. It only seems that way because the ninth rule addresses negative numbers.’ They discussed Arithmancy class and their work in it quite civilly, speaking to each other politely as they danced. He caught flashes of Weasley whose face turned a variety of interesting colors, no doubt because Draco had managed to keep from getting slapped the whole entire time.

After the waltz ended and a fox trot started up, Draco escorted Granger back to her seat. Probably not the wisest of moves, considering the dark look the Weasel was giving him, but Potter had shown up and was sipping his punch while he lounged at the table. Potter was wearing new green robes, though of course Draco´s were much more fashionable. Granger shot him a look, one that said ‘Why are you still here?´, but Draco ignored her in favor of watching Potter lick his fingers of salt from the pretzels he´d been munching on.

That little pink tongue was so very tempting.

“Here you are, Granger. Thank you for the dance.’ He said, holding her chair for her as she took a seat. Before she could reply the Weasel stood up, grabbed her hand, and pulled her onto the dance floor, muttering curses all the while. Draco watched them go, one eyebrow raised at the red head´s odd behavior. He turned to see Potter looking at him curiously. He ignored the Weaselette who was watching him hopefully six seats down and took the liberty of sitting across from Potter. “So, Potter. Why aren´t you dancing?’

Potter cast a sheepish look towards Parvati Patil who was busy nursing her bruised foot. “Er, I´m not much of a dancer.’

“I can remember that much from the Yule Ball.’ Draco said dryly, leaning back in his chair. He felt nervous about sitting in the Gryffindor area, but feigned nonchalance, pretending that he belonged there just as much as the Boy Who Lived. The other Gryffindors, scenting a distinct lack of fear, left him alone. “I hope the Weasel isn´t going to burst a blood vessel out there.’ He finally said, watching the red head shouting on the other side of the Great Hall. Potter cast him a sharp glance.

“Don´t call him Weasel. And you know that´s your fault. He finally worked up the nerve to ask her out, you know.’

“Really? I´ve been waiting for that development for two years. Took him long enough. Anyway, he needs to learn Granger isn´t going to take that from him sooner or later.’

“Why´d you want to dance with her anyway?’

“Why wouldn´t I?’ Draco countered quickly. “She´s intelligent and a fairly light on her feet. Better her than a Hufflepuff anyway.’

“Hmm.’ Said Potter, studying him for a moment before turning his attention to his cup of punch like it held the secret to defeating Voldemort in its depths. Draco watched him watch his punch, aware that the other boy wasn´t quite comfortable. “So, er.’

There was an awkward silence on Potter´s part, but Draco was actually starting to get comfortable, settling in to alternate his attention between the whirling couples and Potter. On the dance floor, Blaise took the time to wag his tongue at Draco rudely once he saw where the former Malfoy heir was sitting, wiggling his eyebrows in a suggestive manner that made the Slytherin prefect raise one of his own pale eyebrows condescendingly. Draco suddenly had an impish impulse and he took Potter´s cup right from his hands and set it down on the table before standing. “Come along, Potter.’

“What?’ The Gryffindor asked, alarmed. “Come along where? And why?’

Draco sighed in a very put upon manner, ignoring the suspicious distrust Potter was watching him with. “I, in the generous manner I´m known for,’ He ignored Potter´s snort of derision. “Am going to teach you how to dance. For the sake of the wizarding world, anyone you have ever danced with or ever will, and my own sanity. Now come along.’ He ordered, imitating the sharp commanding tone his father used and surprisingly Potter heeled him instinctively, hesitating once he realized exactly what they were doing.

“I don´t know about this, Malfoy. I mean, it´s going to look a little funny. We´re both boys.’

Draco made a curt gesture towards the dance floor. “Look at Finnigan and Thomas. And Finch-Fletchy and that other Hufflepuff. It´s not uncommon and I´m not asking you to dance. I´m teaching you how not to trample on your partner´s feet. I´m sure Patil will appreciate my efforts. We can´t have the savior of the wizarding world on par with Neville Longbottom on the dance floor, can we? Ballroom dancing is the sign of a sophisticated wizard. You might as well learn it from someone who actually knows how to do it properly.’ He led Potter to the side of the dance floor and ignored the Ravenclaws who were looking at them curiously from the table closest. “Now stand up straight. Straight, Potter. Merlin, you´ve got bad posture. Like this.’ Draco demonstrated and nodded approval when Potter copied him.

“They´re staring at us.’ Potter said nervously, peering around at the milling crowd at the tables and then the dancing couples.

Draco rolled his eyes. “They always stare at you. One would think you´d be used to it by now. Alright, I´m going to let you lead, because the other way around will just muddle it all up more in your head and Circe knows its muddled enough in there as it is.’

“Er, right then. Here goes.’ Potter managed a relatively decent form of the closed position and started forward haltingly, obviously uncomfortable. The fact he didn´t even attempt to refute Draco´s claims about his muddled head proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Potter almost never let Draco get away with cracks like that.

Draco sighed, stopping Potter in mid-step. “Okay, first of all. Lead with the left foot. Secondly, carry your weight more on the ball of your foot than on your heel. And when you start, lean forward a bit first to give me some warning. I don´t like to be dragged around. Now, try it again.’

The next start was much smoother and they stayed near the side, away from the other couples in their own little area while Draco tried to instruct Potter in how not to humiliate himself on the dance floor. He could feel Potter´s warmth radiating towards him and the light touch on his hip was very enjoyable. He found it remarkably easy to follow Potter´s cues, but then again he did know Potter´s flying style and dancing wasn´t too far off from that.

Draco instructed him as they moved together. “Potter, your arm is all wobbly. Make it firmer. Like that and don´t forget the shoulder too. Now put the palm of the hand that´s on my hip slightly under my shoulder blade with your right arm at a ninety degree angle. There you go.’ Then the Slytherin talked him through the different steps and how to move through the crowd without bumping into anyone. Potter was actually quite quick on the uptake and was graceful enough once he got the hang of it. Obviously, his terrible dancing had stemmed from ignorance, not inability.

“Okay, then. Let´s join the crowd.’

“Er.’ Was all Potter had to say, but in a properly brave, Gryffindor-ish way he went out on the dance floor despite his doubts.

“We should be going counterclockwise. And don´t look at your feet. Look over my shoulder if you want.’ Draco said under his breath and the Boy Who Had Two Left Feet moved accordingly, counting the time silently so that his lips moved as they went through the steps. It made Draco want to kiss him, but his control prevailed and he contented himself with watching the other boy´s mouth. Draco tapped him on the shoulder whenever they wandered too close to other couples and only had to speak up once to warn Potter about Longbottom who was failing about hopelessly with a mortified Lavender Brown.

When Potter felt sufficiently confident he wasn´t going to make an idiot out of himself if his concentration faltered, he started to make conversation. “This isn´t too hard. I thought it would be a lot more difficult. Thanks Malfoy.’

“Think nothing of it.’ Draco murmured, enthralled with the way Potter´s warm, slightly calloused hand felt in his softer one. He made sure it didn´t show in his expression, though he smiled a bit when Potter gave him a lopsided grin. Draco caught a glimpse of Snape lurking in the corner and looking disgusted with the fact his prized pupil was dancing with Gryffindor scum. Dumbledore on the other hand, looked like he´d just heard the world´s funniest joke. If those eyes of his twinkled anymore, Draco expected the nearby Hufflepuffs would go blind.

Eventually, the music died down and Draco stepped back. “And there you have it. Etiquette dictates you should walk me back to my seat since you lead the dance, but I´ll let you off the hook this time. You might want to help out Granger over there. Weasley looks like he´s about to spontaneously combust.’ Potter turned quickly and groaned when he saw the red head glaring at him fiercely from the table hosting the Gryffindors.

“Right, I better help her calm him down. Thanks again Malfoy. That was actually sort of fun.’ Draco flashed him a smirk and gave into his baser impulses despite himself.

“Oh, it was my pleasure.’ He purred, before turning on his heel and walking back to where Pansy and the other Slytherins were watching him approach with shit eating grins on their faces. He felt Potter´s heavy gaze on his back, but forced himself not to turn around. And to think, he hadn´t wanted to attend the ball at all. What a shame that would have been.

He couldn´t wait to see what the rest of the year had in store for him.

The weather warmed up and the snow and frost disappeared altogether, leaving Hogwarts slightly slushy. However, the return of the bright, warm sun after a season of cold and gloom more than made up for it. The only bad part about the arrival of spring was that Draco disliked the way his robes seemed to get wet from the knee down every time he had went outside for Care of Magical Creatures or as he liked to call it, Care of Slavering Beasts. And unfortunately for Draco, whenever the animals hurt anyone it was inevitably him.

Every single damn time.

He spent a week in the infirmary after getting poisoned by the Streeler Hagrid had captured for the class thanks to a certain Ron Weasley. The slimy snail, temporarily a bright periwinkle color, had managed to smear its venomous slime on the grass during the beginning of class. Half an hour later, the Weasel had tripped him and sent Draco sprawling into the affected area and subsequently covering him in poisonous goo.

The poison might not have been deadly to humans, but it kept Draco throwing up the next three and half days and fairly nauseous for the two after that. Draco could barely keep water down and he had been gratified to learn that Weasley had received a particularly nasty howler from his mother. Greg had sabotaged his cauldron during potions while Snape had managed to remove a truly stunning amount of points from Gryffindor for the red head´s ‘clumsiness´. The Weasel also ended up with detention under Trelawny´s supervision, which was harsh punishment indeed.

And with Draco out of commission, Longbottom managed to land himself alongside Draco in the infirmary three different times in one week. Apparently, Potions class was a great deal more difficult without the Slytherin to help him; according to Longbottom only one of his potions had managed to come out correctly. And didn´t that make Draco feel absolutely splendid, having stooped to chatting with Neville Longbottom of all people. The fact his stomach was staging a revolt didn´t help matters any either.

He received the usual get well gifts from his Slytherin friends, as well as a few chocolate frogs and a couple of peppermint toads from Potter. This offering wasn´t anywhere near as nice as the model Hungarian Horntail he´d gotten last time he ended up in the infirmary, but Draco wasn´t willing to have the Cruciatus curse cast on him again for something that was. Oddly enough, he and Potter seemed to be on friendlier terms, though they were by no means actually friends. Not that he cared one way or another of course. Oh, who the fuck was he kidding?

At any rate, when he finally got out of the infirmary Tuesday morning he barely had time to breakfast, bathe, and get dressed before attending Potions. Upon entering the classroom, the first thing he noticed was that one, he was late, and two no one was sitting in their proper seats. Snape paused in his scathing diatribe on his inattentive students and flashed Draco a quirk of lips that might have been called a smile if one squinted.

“Ah, Draco, there you are. I see you have managed to survive, despite Mr. Weasley´s best efforts. Take a seat next to Mr. Potter, if you would. You can copy his notes. I have taken the liberty of reassigning lab partners since your absence alerted me to the fact that Longbottom has obviously been taking advantage of your gift for potions and leaving you to do the majority of his work. Hopefully, Granger can put some of her vast store of trivia to some use for once and get something through his impossibly thick skull. Well, don´t just stand there, boy. Sit.’ It was true, everyone had a new partner and some of them were even from the same house, unlike the Slytherin/Gryffindor pairings they had been forced to endure previously.

Draco sat, plopping down in the chair next to Potter. The movement lacked his characteristic grace, but recent events surely excused him. He took out some parchment and his self inking quill, tugging Potter´s paper over without a by your leave. The Gryffindor didn´t even protest, only exhaling in an annoyed fashion before he turned his attention back to Snape who was still regaling his class with a blow by blow account of their numerous faults. He got like this sometimes, so irritated with the lackluster effort his students put forth when he himself was incredibly passionate about his craft. Draco ignored him with the ease of long practice and got caught up on the week´s notes while Snape´s silky voice ranted on in the background.

He put a great deal of his concentration into copying Potter´s parchment and was startled when he looked up to hand them back and saw that Potter was just as absorbed - with him. The Gryffindor took his parchment back and focused all his attention on Snape, obviously embarrassed at having been caught staring. Draco might not have even noticed if he hadn´t spotted the tell tale flush on the other boy´s cheeks. He jostled Potter´s leg with his knee, flashing him a smile when Potter glanced over at him. Potter grinned back a little and ducked his head coyly in a way that made something weird and oddly warm swell in Draco´s chest and he suddenly felt lightheaded. He shook it off and smiled at Potter again, who was still peeking at him from underneath that fringe of unruly black hair.

Streeler poison certainly did have strange side effects.

Draco had spent his time after class that day in his room, working his way through the piles of homework he needed to make up from all the classes he had missed. McGonagall, the utter bitch, had set the due date for his Transfiguration work the next day which was simply ludicrous. He´d been unable to even concentrate long enough that week to read, never mind memorize the laws regarding transfiguring people into inanimate objects. He was certain her precious Granger would have had a week to turn in her work at the very least, seeing as it was equal in proportion to the missed days, if she´d been in Draco´s situation. And McGongall had the balls to accuse Snape of being biased. Well, he was, but it was beyond hypocritical to do it.

And it was a damn good thing someone was partial to Slytherins or they´d all waste away in the dungeons, failing all of their classes, and being scapegoats for everything from You Know Who´s attacks to hangnails. Sometimes Draco wished he´d been born several hundred years or so ago when things were better for Purebloods and the political climate was much more favorable towards someone like him.

He knew, from books and the family portraits, that during that time homosexuality had been relatively common among members of the Malfoy family and not condemned as long as the family member in question reproduced offspring to carry on the line. The intense homophobia had robbed Draco of the prestige, fortune, and power he deserved as the eldest Malfoy child was one of his father´s personal (and less appealing) foibles, he was sure. Most pureblooded aristocratic families were surprised if one of their children wasn´t gay. Not to mention back then the Dark Arts had been respected, though used cautiously, instead of being regarded with superstitious fear and bigoted suspicion. Slytherins had been seen as ambitious and a necessary part of Hogwarts´ life instead of as mini-murderers.

Yes, the founders had fashioned four houses; the brave house, the loyal house, the intelligent house - and oh yes. The house of EVIL and immoral wickedness. Not bloody likely.

Draco was staring into thin air, his mouth twisted sourly as he wished his transfiguration teacher and father painful deaths by hippogriff rampages when a low pounding sounded on the entrance to his room. This was an odd occurrence, as all his friends knew his password and didn´t have the manners to knock, and none of his housemates were stupid enough to try and dump their problems on him, even if he was a prefect. He checked to make sure he was decent (he was wearing a white un-tucked oxford shirt with the top two buttons undone and the sleeves rolled up to his forearms, gray slacks, no shoes, and had messy hair) and found that he was adequately attired for whomever would dare to brave his wrath.

He approached cautiously, wary of dung bombs or an impatient Snape demanding his help with some new potion, but it was only Pansy with a red headed girl in her grasp. Which was almost worse, in his opinion. Draco observed them as he with guarded curiosity, arching one eyebrow in a sardonic manner at the way Pansy was man handling the Weaselette. “And all this time I thought you simply didn´t grasp the concept of knocking, but I see that you just thought I wasn´t worthy of common courtesy. Pray tell, what you´re doing banging at my door with her in tow, Pansy?’

“I found her lurking near the Slytherin common room. She says she´s looking for you. And I didn´t knock, because I don´t want to give away your password, though I don´t know why I bothered since you haven´t changed it once and even the Hufflepuffs must know it by now.’

“I like my password.’ Draco said mildly, gesturing for her to enter his room and stepping back to let her do so. “And it lets you barge in at all times of the day to harass me, so I don´t know why you´re complaining.’ Not to mention, changing it wouldn´t do any good. His friends would only learn the new one and just keep barging in and at least Draco could remember the word Parseltongue. And the fact it reminded him of a certain Gryffindor was entirely irrelevant. No, really.

The other Slytherin rolled her eyes, shoving the Weasley wench onto Draco´s couch. “Oh shush.’ Then she turned to Ginger Weasley or whatever her name was, her voice turning harsh. “Well, I´ve dragged you here. So spit it out already.’

Gryffindor to the core, the girl clenched her jaw. “Do you mind?’ She said, giving Pansy a pointed look. Draco took his seat at his desk again, fairly entertained at the scorching glares the two girls were exchanging.

He interrupted their stare down. “Anything you have to say can be said in front of Pansy. I´ll just tell her later anyway. Now what do you want? I don´t have time to listen to blathering Gryffindors.’ He just wanted her to say her part and get out already. He really didn´t want his furniture to get covered in Weasley cooties. Girl Weasley cooties to boot.

Looking unhappy, she complied. “I wanted to apologize for my brother´s bad behavior. And well, um. Mum sent you fudge and told me to tell you that she´s ashamed of the way Ron acted and that she raised him better than that and she´s going to discipline him properly for it. And then she said sorry a lot too. So, uh. Here.’ She set a battered looking package on the couch and clasped her hands together tightly in her lap before inexplicably turning a bright shade of red that clashed with her copped colored hair.

“Accio.’ Draco set his wand down and turned the package over in his hands, shooting the Weaselette a suspicious look. “It´s not poisoned, is it? Because I´ve had my share of poison, I´m telling you now.’

“No, no.’ She said hurriedly. “It´s perfectly fine. Mum´s fudge is good, really.’

“I do hope purchasing the ingredients for it didn´t hurt your family´s budget.’ Pansy said in a sickeningly sweet voice laced with venom.

“Careful with those claws.’ Draco murmured in a drawling voice, amused at her display of cattiness, but pleased to receive a present even if it was from an overweight Weasley housewife. His mum never sent him anything anymore and he missed it. “Uh, tell your mother I said thank you.’ He broke off a tiny piece of chocolatey gooiness while she assured him that she would. He chewed for a moment, thoughtful and surprised at the fact it was delicious, before licking his sticky fingers. Pansy snickered when the Weasley wench turned crimson. Draco quickly stopped when he noticed just how the impoverished red head was looking at him and coughed uncomfortably. “Tell her I said it was delicious. Why don´t you escort the Weasley wench,’ He ignored her hurt look easily before continuing. “Out of the dungeons. I doubt McGonagall would be happy if she stumbled into an orgy.’ Draco smirked, not startled in the least when the gullible Gryffindor bought it hook, line, and sinker.

“Orgy?’ The red head questioned, her eyes bulging out in a manner reminiscent of her brother. Pansy laughed outright, escorting her quickly out of the room before the Weaselette found a reason to linger.

Pansy played along, her eyes dancing with repressed mirth. “Oh, didn´t you know about those? Of course, it´s nothing compared to what the Hufflepuffs get up to when they raid Madam Sprout´s stash…’ Pansy´s voice faded into the distance as both girls walked down the hall and away from Draco´s room and he sighed with relief once they were out of both eyesight and earshot.

Girls were so bloody strange.

They were almost like lycanthropes, turning into cruel, vicious, flesh-rending beasts one week out of every month. And their logic was so bizarre as to be completely incomprehensible. They were scheming little bitches for the most part, and he didn´t understand the attraction of the female body at all, which was, he had deduced from careful observation, their saving grace for most of mankind. And he wasn´t going to admit it out loud, (or ever really) but that Weasley girl with her violently red hair and moony looks terrified him.

In a very manly, Slytherin way of course

A few weeks passed with astonishing tranquility, bar the seventh year Ravenclaw experiment gone awry that made everyone mute for two days. The Slytherins took to teaching the other houses obscure spells to compensate for their lack of vocal ability - for a price of course. A.S.H. managed to rake in ten galleons, splitting it among each other so they each received two as well as a myriad of favors they could call in later when the need arose. Some were offended at the way Draco and his friends had capitalized on the situation. Snape had been proud of them and had awarded Slytherin fifteen points for each of them for their initiative once he had the voice to do so. And Draco, for some reason, got the impression that Potter had been amused at his antics, though McGongall had been decidedly not.

It was refreshing, and while the lack of Life Threatening Events was unusual it was entirely welcome. In honor of this rare and delightful state of affairs, Crabbe and Goyle chivied the younger boys and a few of the stupid older ones into a panty raid on several of the girls´ dormitories not including the Slytherin one, mostly because the Slytherin girls were willing to hex them into oblivion for stealing their expensive, imported silk under things. Draco made a show of helping them plan it to aid their cover as moronic imbeciles incapable of polysyllabic speech, but in reality didn´t bother with it in the least. If it had been raiding the Gryffindor sixth year boys´ dormitories that might have been a different matter, but Draco had no interest in frilly lingerie, no matter how often Greg offered to let him try their loot on if he joined in on the festivities. And that had certainly helped his reputation among the other Slytherin boys.


Of course, his fellow Slytherins were aware of the fact Draco would maim them if they even breathed the tiniest suggestion of it to any of the other houses. They knew it was merely a fairly friendly jab at him, but there were lines that couldn´t be crossed. Draco had taken to avoiding the Slytherin common room where they felt it was perfectly fine to tease him about the whole matter. Pansy certainly had fun with it, at the expense of his dignity of course.

It eventually blew over, as most things did, and the weather softened into warm, sunny days with a nice breeze. There were a few rainy afternoons and gray, gloomy skies, but on the whole it was fairly nice weather. Which was why Draco wasn´t surprised when Madam Hooch suggested a supervised outing Saturday to a distant shore of the Lake where wards had been set up to allow for swimming. They would have to get there by boat, but it seemed worth the trip. Pansy was beyond excited and had signed herself and Draco up when the list came around for it, despite his vehement protests. Draco always ended up sun burned, turning an unattractive and painful shade of red before peeling. He detested outings involving the sun for just that reason, and in an effort to get Draco to go along Pansy had procured a potion from Snape to help protect his sensitive, easily burnt skin.

Though Pansy had other, less selfless, reasons for talking to Snape. Since the Valentine Ball she had started a sort of two person book club with the professor and they tended to discuss their latest reading material with each other over tea every other Wednesday afternoon. The Potions Master still had no idea that Pansy had a romantic interest in him, and he wouldn´t until she wanted him to. He was completely unaware that she was reeling him in with intelligent conversation and genuine if coy admiration of his abilities. Pansy was sly, subtle, and very patient. Snape probably wouldn´t even realize that she wanted him until after she´d manage to bed him and Draco didn´t think he´d ever realize that she´d been planning her seduction since her second year.

As her plans seemed to be unfolding perfectly right on schedule, she was unusually chipper this term and had no compunction about inflicting her sunny disposition on anyone else or spreading the cheer. Which was how Draco found himself rowing a boat with Blaise at the other oar across the Lake. Pansy and Tracy exchanged gossip and fixed their hair while the two boys sweated and grunted with exertion.

“You´re such a lazy bint. This was all your idea, but do you help at all? No, of course not. Mustn´t mar the manicure. As if my lovely hands were any less important.’ Draco said, pulling on the oar with powerful strokes as they made their way among the flock of boats heading towards the distant shore Hooch had picked out. The boats used for the first years were under repair and since Filch was taking his sweet time about it they´d been forced to use the un-charmed ones, which meant actual physical labor. “My poor hands. I´ll have blisters.’ He felt vaguely horrified. “I´m rowing a boat, like some plebian fisherman. This is awful and it´s all your fault Pansy. Ouch.’ He said pathetically when the oar rubbed his palm raw again.

“Oh, stop whining. One would think you were the pansy, not me from the way you´re going on.’

“Heartless bitch.’ Draco grunted out, narrowly avoiding an oar to the head from Neville Longbottom who squeaked upon seeing who he´d almost concussed. Draco glared venomously and, thank Merlin, someone else began to row the dinghy in Longbottom´s place.

Pansy laughed at the incident and inspected her nails. “Mummy´s boy.’

“Oh shove it, Parkinson. And we´re almost there! Finally.’ They rowed up to the shoreline and Blaise hopped out, laughing as he splashed Pansy who squawked with outrage at having her hair dampened. Tracy only giggled.

Blaise started pulling the boat to shore. He had a bit of trouble, considering the fact three people were parked in it. “Are you going to help, Draco, or sit there like a lump?’

“Oh fine.’ Draco sighed, climbing out and tugging the wooden craft onto the sand. Pansy and Tracy hopped out and grabbed their rucksacks, leaving the boys to wrestle the boat upside down and pull it farther up onto the sand. “Oh how brilliant. My shoes, socks, and trousers are all wet.’

“Oh Salazar´s skivvies, Draco. Just take them off. We´re here to swim after all. You have to remove your clothes anyway.’ Draco rolled his eyes, but undressed, tossing his shirt and damp trousers and footwear on top of the conveniently turned over boat to dry. His swimsuit was black and rather skimpy, a speedo that left little to the imagination. It looked dramatic against his pale skin and light features and since it was such a small dose of black it didn´t wash him out at all. “Come on, the girl´s are over by the dock with the others.’ Blaise´s swim trunks were Slytherin green, matching his girlfriend´s silver bikini. Pansy´s bikini was bright pink and orange in a floral print that was neon and blinding, but oddly enough it seemed to suit her.

The two Slytherin boys made their way towards the dock where Hooch was waiting for everyone to gather together. “Alright. The water´s fine for swimming until you reach that blue barrier. That´s where the wards end and if I see anyone swim past that I´m taking everyone back to the castle, no exceptions. I won´t tolerate stupid, dangerous stunts. Understand?’ There was a chorus of agreement from the crowd of students. “Don´t wander too far from shore and if there´s any emergencies I want you to cast the alarm spell you were taught in Defense Against the Dark Arts. If something happens and its needed, there´s a port key to the infirmary over there - it´s the big rock that looks a bit like a frog. Now, if any fights break out, the participants will be forced to row around the lake until the outing´s over. I´ll be watching from over there, so don´t do anything too moronic.’ She pointed to the shore where a towel was laid out along with several large containers that held what Draco assumed to be their lunch. “Now go have fun and be careful!’

The majority of the crowd rushed into the water, hollering and hooting while a few girls laid out their towels and bags carefully. Draco helped Pansy and Tracy set up their area and tolerated being smeared all over with something from a jar that smelled like coconuts and salamander oil to protect his skin. “Thanks, Pans.’ He said, getting in a quick, oily hug that made Pansy squeal before running down the pier and diving into the water gracefully. When he came back up he grinned at Blaise´s catcalls, swiftly swimming over towards the other Slytherin with a few steady strokes. “The water´s nice, if a bit chilly.’

“Yes, it is. Come on, let´s go swim around and frighten the Hufflepuffs. They´ll think we´re Grindylows or mermen if we grab their legs.’ Snickering, Draco agreed and submerged himself before heading towards an unsuspecting Hannah Abbot. She screamed like a banshee when she felt him brush against her legs.

And to the Slytherins´ delight, so did Justin Finch-Fletchy.

Eventually Draco ended up lounging on the dock next to Pansy, basking in the sun as its rays soaked into his skin. Snape´s potion worked wonders, screening out the worst of the sunlight and leaving Draco´s skin to gain a healthy bit of color without the incredible blistering pain. The heat pressed down on him, the worst of the day´s warmth an almost tangible weight against his body. He drowsed lazily, coming to every so often when Pansy and Tracy giggled too loudly. Sweat beaded on his slick skin, trickling down his ribs in a tickling fashion that reminded him to turn over to make sure both sides were exposed to the sun equally.

He had been laying on his stomach, his arms folded so he could pillow his head on them when Pansy called his name. Draco had been napping lightly, but Pansy´s repeated poking managed to prod him awake. “What?’ He said groggily, running a hand through his hair, which the sun was bleaching into an almost silver color.

“Hurry and look over there. You don´t want to miss this!’ Pansy laughed, poking him again. With a sigh any martyr would have been proud of, Draco propped himself up on his elbows and looked towards the commotion. Potter was waist deep in the water and he had turned a furious red color. He was shouting at Finnigan between bouts of pleading. The Irish boy had a pair of wet, red swim trunks in his hand and was waving them about while he laughed manically.

Draco couldn´t hold back his laughter. “Oh, I hope those are Potter´s! Ha!’ Draco cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted. “Come on Potter, don´t tell me you´re shy!’ Hooch had fallen asleep while reading what appeared to be a romance novel and not even the catcalls from the students were rousing her. It was a good thing too, or Draco´s fun would have been spoiled.

“Shut up Malfoy!’ Potter hollered back, his cheeks flushed prettily. “Come on Seamus, this isn´t funny anymore. Dean, make him give it back!’

The quiet black boy only laughed softly and shook his head. “I´m not touching this one, Harry. You´ll have to deal with it all on your own.’

“Aw, come on Harry! Just come and get ‘em. Of course, if you don´t want them I could always just auction them off to the highest bidder and leave you here starkers!’

Giggling, a Hufflepuff offered him a galleon and Lavender Brown countered with three. Before the so called auction could start in honest, Potter caved.

“Oh fuck it.’ Potter grumbled and, with Draco watching avidly along with the rest of the students, he hurried towards shore with his hands shielding his crotch. Seamus darted off, but Potter wasn´t the Gryffindor Seeker for nothing and in no time he´d managed to retrieve his swim suit. Through it all Draco leered at him, watching his bare tight ass as he dashed about after the swim trunks thief. “Thanks a lot Seamus.’ Potter snapped, slipping into his bathing suit. For the short moment he was grabbing his swim trunks and then pulling them on with both of his hands his body was bared and Draco had to bite his bottom lip to keep from making a fool of himself at the sight.

The Gryffindor´s tan faded slightly on his upper legs and his thighs were taut and lean with muscle. Draco had the urge to lick them… and pretty much every other part of Potter. His cock was perfect and heavy, nestled in a thatch of thick black curls along with his balls. Coupled with his flat stomach, broad shoulders, and wet head of messy black hair it was enough to make Draco fold his towel over his lower body to keep from embarrassing himself. Perhaps wearing a speedo wasn´t a very good idea, come to think of it. “Problems, Draco?’ Pansy asked, glancing at his covered lap amusedly.

“Shut up. You say that like you aren´t always inches away from creaming your knickers when Snape talks to you.’ Pansy´s eyes flashed and before he knew it the Slytherin girl had pushed him off the pier. He squawked as he fell, his limbs flailing as he hit the water hard. It effectively distracted everyone from the drama between the two Gryffindors. Moments later he popped back up to the service, tossing his head to get his wet hair out of his face. “You´re going to pay for that Parkinson!’ He shouted, flushing pink along his cheeks, the bridge of his nose, and the tips of his ears as everyone laughed at his undignified tumble. He splashed her, accidentally hitting Tracy too.

“Ahh! Malfoy!’ Blaise´s girlfriend shrieked and it rapidly degenerated into an all out water fight. Laughing, Draco ducked a face full of water and dove underwater, moving away from the enraged Pansy who had jumped in to better splash everyone else. He caught sight of Potter and ambushed him, jumping on the other boy´s back and dunking him into the water.

Draco cheered in celebration as Potter, thoroughly soaked now, surfaced. His self congratulation was cut short when Potter´s arm snaked around his neck and the Gryffindor pulled him close and proceeded to knuckle his scalp with his other hand. “Oh, sorry about your hair Malfoy!’ He laughed heartlessly.

“Ack! Stop it Potter! Knock it off, Scarface!’ The Slytherin wiggled in his opponents grasp and managed to escape, swimming off towards shore. Potter grabbed his ankle and hauled him back.

“And where do you think you´re going, Malfoy?’ But Potter wasn´t expecting to get a mouthful of water from a stray Hufflepuff who was kicking his feet rapidly at random. He spluttered and Draco snickered at him. Potter, his pride wounded, dunked Draco and they proceeded to wrestle playfully in the water. Draco couldn´t say he minded, rubbing up against Potter´s sun kissed skin and firm body as they attempted to dunk other was literally a dream come true.

Potter ruffled his hair with one hand while he trapped Draco with the other, causing the vain Slytherin to squirm uselessly in his grasp. He kicked out at Potter´s feet and was delighted when the other boy sank under the water for a moment. Then the next thing he knew, he had been yanked under too. They surfaced, still wrestling as their limbs tangled and if Potter happened to notice Draco was a bit more excited than he should have been, the Gryffindor had the grace not to mention it.

Of course, their own one on one match was nothing compared to the battle being waged between everyone else. Finnigan was exchanging taunts with Finch-Fletchy while everyone else splashed each other regardless. Only Blaise and his girlfriend had managed to stay out of it and were snogging passionately on shore near the boats while Pansy had a catfight with Chang. Hooch finally woke up, getting soaked when one enterprising Ravenclaw attempted a spell that to make the water simulate a tsunami. She was not amused.

But considering the fact she ended up getting hit in the side of the head with a fish, everyone else was.

The friendly, fun outing they´d shared was the start of the odd camaraderie that cropped up between Draco and his Gryffindor rival. It only increased once Snape assigned his students a long, arduous essay on Veritaserum, insistent that they learn every thing they could about it before he taught them how to brew it. In reality, it was supposed to be seventh year curriculum, but Draco had noticed all the teachers were stuffing them full of advanced lessons, no doubt in preparation for the upcoming battle with You Know Who, and Snape was no different. Considering the fact he was piling work on them, he did allow them to grudgingly work with their partner, though he required that they do their own essays individually and copying each other word for word was not acceptable.

That meant Draco and Potter were forced to arrange time out of their busy schedules to research and the Slytherin found out that he enjoyed the time they spent in the library together. While Potter was not the most eloquent of individuals, he was undeniably charismatic with an inherent power to him that he didn´t even realize he had. Occasionally, when they were taking breaks, Draco would engage him in a discussion about Quidditch just so they could spar with words without the danger of offending one another. Draco staunchly favored the Falmouth Falcons, while Potter liked the majority of teams, but mainly supported the Chudley Cannons, or rather the Chubby Canons, as Draco called them.

Even though they were getting along, they still managed to argue passionately about pretty much everything. Half the time, Draco simply played devil´s advocate just for the sake of it even if he didn´t agree with the position he was defending. Still, they didn´t cross the invisible lines they´d silently drawn. Draco didn´t say the word Mudblood in Potter´s presence or mention his dead parents and Potter refrained from referring to Slytherins as Death Eaters in training. He never mentioned Draco´s sexual preferences either, though occasionally he´d make an oblique reference when it was pertinent to their conversation.

Towards the end of their project, when both their papers were almost finished, Draco decided approach Potter about something that had been bothering him for some time. One Thursday afternoon he screwed up his courage enough to broach the subject.

They were sitting at the table farthest from Madam Pince, surrounded by dusty tomes and several stacks of parchment containing their notes (and a few of Granger´s that Potter had appropriated for them). It was relatively quiet and still, the library was full of a few seventh year Ravenclaws studying for their N.E.W.T.´s, but beyond that there was almost no one else around. Potter was sitting across from Draco, attempting to balance his chair on its hind legs while they both took a break from their work. The Slytherin silently counted to three and forced himself to speak up, assuming a carefully nonchalant tone of voice. “Potter?’

“Hmm? What is it Malfoy?’

Draco smoothed his hair back a bit and studied his notes, not bothering enough to actually concentrate on the information his eyes were scanning. “I was thinking.’

“About what?’ Potter asked, the front legs of his chair thumping solidly as he sat up. “You didn´t hurt yourself did you?’

“Oh, ha ha. Very witty.’ Draco rolled his eyes. “No, you moron. I was thinking that well. If you want, you can call me Draco.’ He suggested it in a very off hand way, watching through his eyelashes as Potter gaped at him from across the table.

He was obviously startled, his bright green eyes were round with surprise and his lips had parted slightly. Draco smothered the urge to kiss him and waited for the Gryffindor´s reply. It took a moment. “Are you offering to be my friend?’ Potter asked incredulously.

“I suppose one could take it that way.’ He finally looked up from his parchment and locked eyes with Potter, who was staring at him like he´d never seen the Slytherin before. “Well?’ Draco drawled in his most superior tone of voice, wary of endangering his dignity any more than he already had.

Potter blinked, uncertain. “I - I guess… I suppose I could. Hermione and Ron won´t like it much, but even they´ve said that you´ve been loads better this year. Almost like a real human being.’ Draco gave him a flat look and Potter had the decency to look sheepish. “Well, you have to admit, you were pretty bad when we were younger. You were like a miniature version of your father.’

“That was my goal at the time.’ Draco said. “And now that I don´t have to try and make my father proud… well, it´s a lot easier to be Draco Malfoy than it is to be Draco Malfoy the Heir and Scion of the Malfoy Family.’ Potter was digesting this, obviously taking in this new point of view.

“So, does this mean you´re going to start calling me Harry?’

“I might as well. You don´t mind, do you?’ The other boy flashed him a shy grin.

“No, not really. So, friends then?’ The Boy Who Lived stuck out his hand, offering it to Draco in a way that reminded the Slytherin of his own original offer of friendship so many years ago. He only hesitated for a moment at the sight of it. Feeling inexplicably warm of all of a sudden, Draco took the Gryffindor´s hand in his own and they shook. Potter´s hand was warm and slightly calloused and Draco let it go a moment later with a twinge of reluctance.

“Friends, then. Harry.’ He tacked on the last word as an afterthought, rolling the unfamiliar syllables around in his mouth like it was a new flavor of some exotic wine he was savoring. Finally having the right to address his former rival by name sent a thrill through him.

Potter sent a bright smile Draco´s way which Draco found himself returning it easily. “Let´s finish this up. I wouldn´t want to give Snape the chance to pick on me any more than he already does.’

“Tsk, tsk. You´re absolutely no fun.’

“Oh, sod off, Draco.’ Hearing his name from Potter´s lips for the first time made Draco flash the other boy a smile so brilliant it was almost blinding. Potter, or Harry rather, grinned back at him, ducking his head once more to focus on his essay.

Yes, Draco could definitely get used to this.

Draco woke up, lifting his head groggily to see what had startled him out of sleep. He´d accidentally conked out on his couch while doing his Ancient Runes homework after dinner and he could have sworn he´d heard something. Moments later he was proven right as someone banged on the entrance to his prefect quarters. Groaning he hid his head and wished whoever it was would go away. He wasn´t up for another visit from the Weaselette and he couldn´t think who else it could be. He almost managed to drift off again when he heard the sound of grinding stones and Pansy´s voice. “…right in here. Of course, he might be taking a bath, but I doubt he´d mind if you waited for him to get back. Never mind. Draco, get up.’

Draco grunted and ignored her some more, wishing she and the mystery guest would just sod off. Pansy poked his neck.

“Draaaacooo. Come on ickle Drakie-do.’ She said in a sing song voice. “Wakey wakey.’

“Fuck off.’ Draco slurred sleepily, cracking open one eye to see her smirking down at him. He stretched, pushing his sock clad toes against the leather arm of the couch and wiggling them.

Pansy was still smirking at him, which would have made him suspicious if he´d been capable of thinking beyond Tired. Mmm. Sleep. Go ‘way. “Wake up, Draco. You´ve got a guest and it´s only seven. I will cast a tickling spell on you if you don´t get up right now.’

“Fine. Be a bitch.’ Draco groaned theatrically as he hauled himself upright and let his head flop to onto the back of the couch. He was startled to see Harry Potter standing next to Pansy, shifting his weight

uncomfortably, but looking amused nonetheless. “Oh, hello. I didn´t know it was you. I thought it might have been the Weaselette again.’

“Ah. That explains it.’ Pansy murmured and Harry´s eyebrows rose.

“Ginny was down here?’

Draco was attempting to fix his hair and answered reflexively. “Is that her name? I thought it was Ginger. She came down to apologize for her brother after the Streeler incident. Her mum gave me fudge. It was actually pretty good.’

“I found him loitering outside your room. I thought I´d rescue him from the lynching that would occur if any of the others saw him. I´m off, though. Have fun you two.’

Draco yawned despite himself and shook his head to clear it. He blinked a few times and then sat up right properly. “Right. Thanks Pansy.’ He watched her leave and then turned to Harry, smiling slightly as he arched one eyebrow. “So, is there a reason you´ve decided to grace me with your illustrious presence?’

“Oh, I just wanted to drop by to say hi. Ron and Hermione are busy doing couple things and Sirius and Remus said they had stuff to do and that I should come by Friday. So, you know.’

Draco folded his legs underneath him and gestured for the other boy to sit, which Harry did rather hesitantly. Obviously, he was feeling left out. Draco considered teasing him about it, but decided not to. It seemed like a rather sensitive subject and he didn´t want to offend Harry. And wasn´t that a change of pace. “How about a game of chess?’ The Slytherin suggested after a moment of thought and he was rewarded with a grateful grin.

“Yeah, sounds good.’ Draco won both games they played easily. They spent both matches bickering with each other all the while about the merits of Quodpot and he had the feeling that even if he´d lost horribly it would have been just as fun.

Draco took that to mean that they were really friends now and keeping that in mind he even managed to keep his gloating to a minimal, which was really as nice as he got.

Draco hadn´t realized what he was doing until Pansy pointed it out. The walks he took with Harry around the lake, the way he´d started tutoring the Gryffindor in potions and accepting help from him in DADA in return, how he´d taken to greeting Harry each morning upon entering the Great Hall after he managed to drag himself out of bed while others received a snarl, the way he let Harry try out his new potions after they´d been tested on Mortimer and before even his fellow Slytherins had a chance at them - all of it amounted to one thing.

He´d been courting Harry Potter, though he hadn´t even known it at the time.

Certainly, The Boy Who Was Oblivious had no clue, but Draco would have been genuinely surprised if he had. Harry might have had a knack for picking up on others´ secrets and hidden agenda´s but when things involved Harry himself, they tended to go right over his head. Draco still wasn´t sure whether Harry had realized his godfather was seeing Remus Lupin and he hadn´t brought it up just to be on the safe side. However, he knew for a fact that Harry hadn´t realized that Draco had a romantic interest in him in addition to the tentative friendship they shared.

But Granger sure as hell did.

Or so he´d discovered first hand three and half weeks after their ‘friendship´ started and one week after Pansy had informed him of the situation. He gathered his things after Arithmancy, putting them neatly in his rucksack before slinging it over his shoulder. It was almost time for lunch and Dobby had told Draco that the house elves were making his favorites today and he didn´t want to miss out. He turned to leave, but Granger was blocking his way and her were arms crossed. She had a fairly forbidding scowl on her face. “Malfoy. A word?’ Her hair was frizzier than usual, if that was even possible, as if it was attuned to her moods.

“Perhaps you haven´t realized it, but Malfoy is a word.’ He realized he was on thin ice and raised his hands to placate her when she glared. “Sorry. Just don´t let me miss lunch.’

“Boys. Is food all you ever think about?’ It was a rhetoric question, but Draco considered answering with ‘No, we think about sex too.´ anyway. However, good sense prevailed and he managed to keep his mouth shut. Well, figuratively speaking.

“Is there a reason you´ve ambushed me Granger, or do you just want to take out all your frustrations towards the opposite sex on me?’

Granger pursed her lips in a fashion that must have been copied directly from McGonagall. “I want to talk about Harry with you.’ Draco let his face become expressionless and sized the Muggle-born witch up, taking in the determined glint in her eyes and the way she was still crossing her arms defensively. He wanted to hex her for her sheer audacity at thinking she had the right to question him about Harry, but Harry would give him hell if he did and he didn´t want the Gryffindor angry at him. Now that Draco had managed to push his way into Harry´s life he wouldn´t be able to bear being on the outside looking in anymore.

“Fine.’ He said shortly, sitting on top of a nearby desk. “I´m listening.’

“For some odd reason, Harry cares about you.’ She said, tucking some of that awful hair behind her ear. Draco perked up. He had hoped this was the case, but Draco hadn´t been entirely sure Potter wasn´t just staving off boredom by spending time with the Slytherin. It wasn´t like they talked about their feelings or anything. They were boys after all, but hearing it made him grin.

“He does?’ Draco asked, pleased. Then he corrected himself quickly. “Well, of course he does. I´m wonderful, why wouldn´t he care?’

Granger raised one eyebrow at him and made an ‘oh please´ face at him. “If you´re quite finished stroking your ego, I´ll continue. Anyway, I don´t want to see Harry hurt. So I´m asking you what your intentions towards him are exactly.’

Draco´s mouth fell open. She was asking him his intentions?! “Last time I checked Granger, you weren´t Harry´s mum.’

“No, I´m not. But someone had to ask and if you care to remember Harry doesn´t have a mum. I´m sure you do recall it, seeing as how your father and his Death Eater friends killed her and you´ve taunted him in the past about it remorselessly. I think my concerns are quite valid, Malfoy.’

This of course, managed to actually make Draco serious. And angry, though he kept a tight leash on his temper. “I am not, nor will I ever be, my father.’ He gritted out. “And as for the insults - things were different then. I don´t see why you need to have this little chat with me. My exemplary behavior the last few months more than speaks for itself.’

“Well, yes.’ Granger looked uncomfortable. “About that too. I was er- wondering. Um.’

Draco sighed, wishing he was anywhere but here. Hell, he´d settle for detention with that oaf Hagrid over this. “Just say it. All this hemming and hawing is driving me to distraction.’

“Right.’ She said firmly. “I want to know if you have romantic feelings for Harry.’

“Ah. You mean, like… Do I want to bear his children? Get a grip, Granger.’

“Don´t brush me off, Malfoy.’ She said sternly. Then she became quiet, more focused. “I´ve seen the way you look at him.’

That unsettled the Slytherin, but he plastered on a smirk and pretended amusement. “Like I want to ravish him?’ Maybe the drooling had been a little blatant and no one could accuse Hermione Granger of being slow on the uptake.

“Like he´s hung the moon.’

Unaccountably, Draco found himself flushing. “You… Don´t be ridiculous.’ But Draco couldn´t look at her and instead he studied a particularly interesting piece of wall across the classroom. He certainly didn´t look at Harry like that. Did he?

Granger had caught him off guard and she knew it. “I just want to know, whether you end up simply being friends or something more, how you feel about him. Because, and I mean this sincerely, I will castrate you if you hurt him.’ The way she said it, so evenly with that Gryffindor honesty oozing out of every word was chilling. She would, he knew. Sure, it could probably be fixed, but he´d rather not test that theory, thanks.

“Granger. I don´t like you and I know you don´t like me, but for Harry´s sake I´ve been respectful. Do you know how rare that is? Changing my behavior to suit someone else? I would never hurt Harry. Not if I could help it and certainly no more than he could bear. In all honesty, the one who´s probably going to end up hurt is me. Now, if we´re quite finished I´ve got a meal to eat.’ He left Granger there, gaping after him and hoping with everything he had that his prediction (meant in all honesty to comfort Granger and a bit too spot on for his own comfort) didn´t come to pass.

Granger left him alone after that and occasionally even took his side against the Weasel, who was still acting like Draco was the devil himself. Harry had noticed and was much relieved that at least one of his old friends wasn´t nagging at him about his newest one. Draco loved spending time with Harry. Every day he learned a little bit more about him, saw a new facet to his personality, and he learned to like the other boy just that much more for it. He had found, to his chagrin, that Potter was every inch the hero his reputation cast him as. But Draco never forgot the fact he was also just another boy. One with messy hair who loved to fly and had a difficult time remembering how to cut his shrivel fig the proper way.

Things weren´t perfect between them of course. They had disputes and there were moments of awkwardness when one of them remembered their past animosity, but when it came down to it, it was everything Draco could have wished for. Had wished for in fact. Of course, that didn´t stop him from wanting more.

Harry, Draco had discovered to his dismay, was addictive.

Almost everything about him was addictive in fact. The little glances Harry stole when he thought Draco wasn´t looking, the way he pushed his glasses up in a thoughtless, habitual gesture that had an inherent gracefulness to it Draco didn´t expect, how his hair had a life of its own, the bronze of his skin, the way sometimes shadows flickered in the depths of his eyes, how his lips were a bit on the thin side, but it just made his mouth that much firmer and kissable when he was being stubborn, the sheer force of will he could exude when he put his mind to it, the breadth and width of his shoulders, the taut stomach Draco desperately wanted a glimpse of, how long and sooty his eyelashes were, the way he laughed so rarely, but so wholeheartedly, and how even when he was in a bad mood he made sure Draco felt included.

It all made Draco want to grab on to Harry with both hands and never let go, cuddling him close to keep him out of danger. He understood Granger´s tendency to mother him now, though he had always made fun of it when he was younger. Harry was the strongest person Draco knew, but he had vulnerabilities just like other people too. Draco´s talent for understanding Harry and spotting his weaknesses so he could use them against him actually came in handy. Draco never exploited the weaknesses he found like he would have previously, instead he guarded them with the same ferocity he guarded his own.

Granger was keeping an eye on him, but Draco expected it really. She kept close tabs on them in the following days in her own sharp eyed, motherly way. And that was why she wasn´t very surprised when Harry managed to coax him inside the Gryffindor common room Tuesday afternoon after class. Longbottom was staring at him warily from where he sat near the common room fire and Finnigan seemed fascinated with his sudden presence in their midst.

Frankly all the red and gold was sickening, but Draco managed to bite back the stinging comment hovering on the tip of his tongue. For all of two seconds. “Well, aside from the fact the color scheme turns my stomach and the furniture is in sad repair, I suppose it´s not too bad.’ He watched Granger´s ugly cat make itself comfortable on the sofa, spreading ginger hairs in its wake. “For a barn.’ He amended eyeing the smug half-Kneazle.

Harry rolled his eyes and sprawled out on the couch next to the Ginger Beast. “Better than living in a dungeon. Frankly, I wouldn´t be too comfortable living in a place where the main decoration is chains.’

“You´d be surprised.’ Draco said slyly, seating himself on the couch with the cat between him and the Gryffindor. “I mean, velvet lining can make even iron shackles comfortable.’ Longbottom looked like Snape had swooped in to declare his love for all things cute and furry as soon as the banter had started. Draco honestly thought his eyes couldn´t get any bigger.

Harry was staring at him incredulously. “Okay, one. That´s disturbing. And two, like you would know.’

“What? You mean you don´t think all Slytherins are sadomasochistic nymphomaniacs? I´m shocked. We´re obviously not working hard enough to keep our reputation intact.’ Draco lounged on the couch, flicking Crookshanks paw at random intervals and ticking the animal off slowly but surely.

It finally stalked off with its tail lashing, leaving the couch to Harry and Draco. The Slytherin had to force down an evil cackle at getting his way. Perhaps he shouldn´t have had quite so many of the sweets Pansy had shared with him from her care package earlier. “Right.’ Harry said indulgently, stretching out on the couch a bit and nudging Draco with his foot. “We both know you´re not half as nasty as you pretend to be.’ Draco merely raised one eyebrow and leveled a look at him that spoke volumes about the foolishness of challenging a Malfoy´s nastiness. “Er. Nevermind.’

“And Pansy said Gryffindors can´t be trained.’ He said complacently, looking around the room with unbridled curiosity and ignoring Harry´s protests to his comment.

Finnigan had moved into a nearby armchair during their conversation and was still watching their interactions avidly. “What?’ Draco snapped. “I don´t take well to being stared at, so spit it out and go away.’

The Irish Idiot was obviously taken aback at his usual terse tone after the way he´d been talking so agreeably with Harry and hesitated for a moment before jumping into the conversation. “So, I hear you and Harry are friends now.’

“What of it?’ Draco asked, watching the sandy haired Gryffindor.

“Nothing, nothing at all.’ Finnigan said hastily. “Just wondering, is all. So er.’

“Seamus.’ Harry groaned, covering his head with a pillow. “If you´re going to ask him what I think you´re going to ask him the answer is NO, now leave it be.’

“Oh, well now I´m curious. Ask me what?’ Draco interjected, looking inquiringly at the Irish boy.

Finnigan grinned recklessly. “Oh, I was just wondering if you mphh-’ He ended up with a mouthful of pillow when Harry swung at him in order to shut his gob.

“Don´t Seamus. It´s bad enough you´ve been pestering me about it. Don´t bother Draco with your nonsense or I´ll sick Hermione on you.’

“Fine, fine. Be that way. But you know its true.’ Oddly enough, Harry´s ears turned pink and he gave his fellow Gryffindor an extra whack with the pillow just for the hell of it.

Feeling a bit left out, (and okay, jealous at what was a bit too close to flirtation for his peace of mind) Draco smoothly interrupted their little inside conversation. “So, you´re dating Thomas right? The commentator during Quidditch?’

“Yeah. I mean, things were a little rough for a while there before Parvati accepted it. But she did, eventually. Dean´s the best boyfriend ever.’

Draco smirked. “Yes. I heard about that. And, oddly enough, that Weasley´s afraid to shower with you.’ Finnigan burst into laughter.

“Yeah. Ron can be a wanker. He´s behaving better now that Hermione´s keeping him in line, though. I thought he was gonna have a seizure when he and Harry fought it out over him having you as a friend.’

The Slytherin turned to Harry who looked like he desperately didn´t want to talk about it. Draco studied him for a moment before turning back to Finnigan. “Really. That´s news to me.’ Harry looked wretched and, out of the kindness of his nonexistent Slytherin heart, Draco changed the subject with a mental note to talk about it later or to at least ask Granger what had happened. “So, what do you Gryffindors do around here for fun?’

Looking relieved, Harry spoke up. “Well, you know the usual. Wizard´s chess, exploding snap… that sort of thing.’ Draco said nothing, letting the pathetic-ness of that sentence speak for itself. “Okay, so it´s not very exciting. But its something to do. Seamus, what do you do in your free time?’

“Shag Dean of course!’

“Erk.’ Harry said, obviously just realizing he´d asked for that.

“Top or bottom?’ Draco queried, eyeing Finnigan critically.

Harry looked clueless while Finnigan started laughing his arse off. “Bit of both, really. You should see Dean´s dick. It´s huge!’

“I´ll pass.’ The Slytherin said quickly.

Harry obviously wanted the ground to swallow him up. “Oh god. Do you mind Seamus?’

“No.’ The Irish boy said promptly before turning back to his newest buddy. “Are you gay? I´ve heard rumors here and there. I´m just curious.’


“Don´t worry about it, it´s fine Harry. And the answer to your question is yes, Finnigan. Not that it´s any of your business. It´s not as if it´s a secret though. All the Slytherins know.’

“Oh, really? So, let me guess. Top, right? You seem the sort.’

“What are you two talking about?’ Harry ground out in exasperation.

Seamus shook his head. “Tsk, tsk. Poor Harry. He´s terribly innocent. Well, Malfoy?’

“Not really sure at this point. If I was with someone I trusted though? Most likely bottom. Though not all the time of course.’

“Really?’ Seamus looked entirely too interested in Draco´s opinion, but from what he could tell sticking his nose in other people´s business was a common event for the Gryffindor. And Draco so rarely got a chance to talk with someone who had similar sexual preferences.

Harry was getting more frustrated by the moment, which was part of the fun of course. He looked so cute when he had no idea what was going on. “I don´t get it. Bottom what?’

Finnigan grinned. “Well, Harry. When a there´s two or more sides to an object there´s usually a top side, which is up, and - ouch! Careful with that cushion.’

“Then don´t be a prat.’

Draco finally took mercy on his poor Gryffindor. “Finnigan´s referring to anal sex. I´m pretty sure that´s all you want to know about that.’

“Oh.’ Harry said weakly. Draco snickered at him. “That still doesn´t explain much.’

“Harry, Harry. Why don´t you ask Draco to show you?’ The sandy haired boy wiggled his eyebrows.

“Shut it, Finnigan.’ Draco said curtly, sending a scorching glare towards the other boy.

“Shutting it, Malfoy.’

The portrait swung open and all three boys turned to see who the interloper was. Draco forced down the groan that threatened to escape at seeing the bright red head of hair. “Hello, guys.’

“Hey, Ginny.’ Harry offered with a grin.

Seamus waved and, upon seeing him, the Weaselette smiled. “Oh, I saw Dean in the library Seamus. He offered to help you with your banshee essay if you need it. He´s still down there, just so you know.’

“Yeah, I better get started or Professor Lupin´ll fail me! Later Harry. See you around Malfoy.’ The Irish boy ran up the stairs and then back down, practically running through the portrait hole and down the hall.

“Please tell me he´s been snorting pixie dust and that its not just his personality.’ Draco said into the silence left in Finnigan´s exuberant wake. The Weasley wench laughed and Harry chuckled.

“Yeah, well. He´s just a bit too excitable for his own good, that´s all. Dean´s so calm - they make a pretty good couple.’

“Yeah, they do. But, poor Parvati.’ The wench said, before sighing. “So, Draco. What are you doing in Gryffindor tower?’ She sent the Slytherin a shy smile and Draco wondered if he could just hex her and get it over with. A quick glance to Harry nipped that idea in the bud.

“Just visiting. Seeing how the other side lives.’ His tone of voice conveyed the fact he was not impressed. “And don´t call me Draco.’ He tacked on as an afterthought.

“Oh. Sorry.’

“Draco.’ Harry said warningly and the Slytherin wondered if his friend noticed the fleeting look of hurt that flickered across the red head´s face at hearing him address Draco so casually when she couldn´t. Not that Draco really cared. He detested the whiny faced little carrot top. First she simpered after Harry and now she´d set her sights on him, and even went so far as to call him by name, as if she had any right to address him so personally.

“Don´t worry, I´ll be a good little boy.’ He let his most wicked smirk twist his lips and Harry, obviously recognizing it from years of having it aimed at him, looked decidedly nervous. It was obviously contradicting Draco´s words.

“You know what? I have some potions homework I need help with. We can do it in my room, come on. Oh, you don´t mind do you Ginny? I just don´t want Snape taking off more points from Gryffindor.’ Draco, who admittedly spent more time than was healthy studying Harry´s facial expressions and habits, thought it was blatantly obvious that he was lying, but the Weaselette fell for it completely, making a sympathetic face and all.

“No, no. Go ahead.’

Draco was too busy biting his lip to keep himself from commenting on Harry´s offhand offer, but it was so packed with innuendo he really didn´t see a point. He followed Harry up the stairs, taking in the unfamiliar scenery. The Gryffindor led him inside his prefect quarters, giving Draco the tour, though of course he´d already seen it once before. “This is my sitting room. And uh. My desk is over there.’ Harry pointed and then turned to gesture towards an open door that led to his room. Draco followed the Gryffindor. Near the bed there was a familiar Firebolt propped up against the wall. “And, that´s where I sleep. I´m warning you now, if I catch you trying to short sheet my bed or leaving any ‘presents´ for me I´ll sabotage our cauldron in Potions.’

“I worked a year with Longbottom. If I can´t fix anything you do by now, I deserve to have it blow up in my face.’ Harry gave him a stern look Draco hadn´t seen since… well, since he´d gobbled down all of Pansy´s sweets this morning. “Oh fine, if you must be that way. I´ll behave.’

“I´m not asking for miracles.’ Harry said dryly, then abruptly became serious. “Sorry about Ginny. I know she has a crush on you, but I´d really appreciate if you could not. Well, stomp all over her heart.’

“Harry! How could you think such things of me? I´d never soil my lovely dragon hide boots in such a manner.’

Harry cast him a rueful glance before shaking his head in despair and throwing himself on his bed. He bounced once and the sprawled out, watching Draco nose idly through his things. After a moment, Draco grew bored and joined Harry on the bed, pushing him over and settling down in the warm spot. Harry merely snorted and let himself be moved, oddly complacent for once.

There was a long, comfortable silence between them and then Harry spoke up. “Draco?’ He asked, tentatively.

Draco wiggled a bit, kicking off his boots and then shoving his cold feet into the crook of Harry´s left knee for warmth. Harry gave off body heat like a furnace. “What?’

“Can I ask you a question?’

Draco moved his head so he could look at Harry and raised an eyebrow at the Gryffindor. “I´m going to take the time to point out the fact you just did. But you may ask another one.’ He offered, quite solicitously.

Harry adjusted his glasses nervously. “How´d you know? I mean, that you were gay?’

The Slytherin´s interest was instantly captured and he propped himself up on his elbows, considering his answer (and just where that question had come from) carefully. “Well…’ He said slowly, not quite sure how to reply. “I´ve just always liked boys more than girls. I just don´t find women all that sexually attractive. Why do you ask?’

“Er. Well. I´ve been thinking and. I don´t know. Considering the way I´ve thought about Oliver sometimes and a few other boys. I think I might be bi. I think I´ve known for a while now, but with the way Uncle Vernon always talked about ‘those disgusting, unnatural poofs´ I really couldn´t admit it. Not even to myself.’

“Well, what do you expect from a Muggle. Then of course, that´s pretty much my father´s point of view too, but most wizards and witches don´t give a rat´s arse about which Quidditch team you fly for. I certainly don´t.’ Which was a lie, because Draco did care for his own reasons. He just didn´t care the way Harry meant.

“Oh.’ He sounded distinctly relieved. “But… how can you be sure?’ He asked plaintively.

“Well, I´ve found wet dreams to be rather helpful. If the other person in them happens to have a cock, well, there you go.’

“Draco!’ And there was that scandalized tone he so loved.

The Slytherin flashed Harry a sly grin. “You did ask.’

“Yeah, I guess I did. Still, I wish I could know for sure.’ Draco shrugged in reply, laying back down and staring up at the crimson canopy on the bed.

“I´d help if I could, but it seems like you´re going to have to figure it out on your own, Harry.’

Now it was Harry´s turn to prop himself up on his elbows. “You mean that? You really would help if you could?’

“Of course. That´s what friends do, isn´t it? And through some odd twist of fate it appears that I am, indeed, your friend.’ Oh, what a Hufflepouf he was turning into, Draco reflected wryly. The Slytherin was reluctant to admit it, but the Boy Who Lived had him wrapped around his little finger. Draco consoled himself with the thought that even if he was Harry´s bitch he still terrified Longbottom and all of Hufflepuff House without even trying.

Harry wet his lips nervously and examined his ragged fingernails. “Well, uh. There is something you can do. I mean, if you don´t mind of course. But if it´s too much trouble, I understand. I don´t want to bother you or anything and really it´s ridiculous and I probably shouldn´t have brought it up, but I was just curious and-’

“Harry. Breathe. What do you want me to do?’ The babbling was cute, but the alarming shade of red he was turning wasn´t. Harry mumbled something inaudible in reply. “What? I didn´t quite catch that.’

“Kiss me?’ The Gryffindor blurted out, his eyes wide as if he was stunned at his own temerity.

Draco froze for a moment, shocked into immobility. Harry looked as if he was going to die of mortification, fiddling with a loose string on his coverlet and almost unraveling it. Draco considered the offer for all of three seconds. “Alright then.’

Harry´s head snapped up. “Alright? Where´s the ‘In your dreams, you pathetic sod´?’

The drawling imitation was so canny Draco couldn´t bite back his laughter. He shrugged carelessly, turning to face his friend and moving closer. “You can owe me a favor. So, pucker up.’

The Gryffindor rolled his eyes, but sat up, removed his glasses, and proceeded to lean forward hesitantly. Draco rested his hand on the back of Harry´s neck as he drew him in, softly brushing his own lips against Harry´s. He did it a second time for just a bit longer and then swiped his tongue against the other boy´s bottom lip, savoring the softness and the taste of the other boy´s lips. Harry gasped a little, his mouth parting in surprise, and Draco took advantage of the opportunity to slip his tongue into Harry´s mouth, running it along the smooth roof of his mouth and then curving it around Harry´s tongue as if enticing him to play. Sometime during the kiss Harry´s arms had wound around Draco´s waist and they were leaning against one another. Draco couldn´t hold in the tiny ‘mmm´ of pleasure, and taking it as encouragement, Harry slid his hands up Draco´s back in an unmistakable caress.

All the while, Draco was thinking about how damn lucky he was then he wasn´t thinking at all and merely angled his head better and continued to kiss Harry more deeply. The scent and taste of Harry was making him lightheaded, but the feel of his body against his own was enough to make him hard as a rock. It was obvious Harry was becoming aroused too, which made Draco feel as if the room temperature had suddenly gone up five degrees. He made a helpless sound as Harry pushed him on the bed and rolled on top of him, still snogging him silly. Draco tangled his hands in Harry´s hair and nipped at the other boy´s mouth, forgetting how to breathe when Harry bit his jaw lightly.

Draco hooked his leg over Harry´s hip and started sucking on the Gryffindor´s neck, laving his tongue along the smooth line of his throat occasionally. Then Harry started nibbling on his ear. “Oh, oh fuck. Don´t do that unless you mean it.’ He groaned against Harry´s neck, bucking upwards when a tongue probed his ear before tracing the outer curve of it. Harry nipped at his earlobe and Draco ground himself upwards uncontrollably, closing his eyes as Harry worked the discovered hotspot relentlessly.

Then their mouths met again and the kiss was sloppier, more urgent and passionate. Draco was still thrusting upwards against Harry in short, quick movements and Harry was more than happy to meet every thrust with one of his own. Draco´s hand slid downwards before creeping under the other boy´s shirt and he tweaked a nipple playfully, delighted at the tiny gasp he got for his efforts. “C´mon. Off.’ Harry hesitated, but shrugged out of it anyway before unbuttoning Draco´s shirt too and peeling it off him.

The sensation of skin against skin was wonderful and Draco wiggled happily under the heavy weight of Harry´s lean body. And then Harry started tonguing his nipples, which was just bloody marvelous in his opinion, and Draco was squirming and rocking his lower body against Harry´s as he bit his lip to prevent himself from making stupid sounds. It felt so very good, he wished they could stay like this forever, running their hands over each other and kissing like their very lives depended on it.

Harry´s pupils had swallowed the green of his eyes and he was panting slightly, his shoulders shifting as he thrust roughly against the Slytherin and abandoned Draco´s nipples for his throat again. Draco slid his hands down Harry´s back, reveling in the soft skin, and gripped his arse, pulling the other boy against his body tightly so their hips fit together. It was sheer perfection and Draco´s breathing was uneven from the steady pulsing of pleasure running through his body.

There was more kissing, groping, and thrusting for a while, their breathless pants and soft moans the only sounds in the room. Draco reached for Harry´s fly, intent on getting another look at that gorgeous cock when the other boy stopped him. “Um. I don´t think. Er. Let´s leave our trousers on, okay? I don´t think I´m quite up to that.’ Draco was disappointed, but unable to refuse that uncertain, pleading expression.

“Sure. Though I think you´re up enough.’ He punctuated his words with a thrust, grinding his hard cock against Harry´s and flashing a wicked smirk. “But its your decision.’ Then Draco kissed him again, sliding one arm around him and resting the palm of his hand against Harry´s back and gripping a firm ass cheek with the other. Their tongues were tangled and their hips were moving rapidly against each other. The friction was brutal, but it was just what they needed. Draco made a keening noise in the back of their throat as they writhed together on Harry´s bed, mewling and moaning despite his best efforts.

Draco rested his forehead against Harry´s shoulder and mouthed whatever bare skin was within reach. He teased at Harry´s nipple with his tongue and bit down on it. It was enough to push Harry over the edge and he shuddered in Draco´s grip, wet warmth soaking both their crotches as he came. “Oh. Oh god. I´m so sorry. I didn´t mean to-’

“Shut up.’ Draco interrupted, twisting underneath Harry and throwing his head back. “Just, oh. Like that.’ He guided the other boy´s hand down and then Harry´s calloused, clever hand was pressing against the bulge in Draco´s trousers. The Gryffindor ground the heel of his hand against the denim covered erection rhythmically and Draco could only shut his eyes tightly and endure it. Draco was so close it hurt, but he hadn´t quite reached that state where everything went quiet and sparks went off behind his eyes yet. “Oh. Fuck.’ Draco groaned as Harry continued his ministrations while he nibbled on Draco´s ear. “Kiss me.’ He demanded softly and Harry did, deeply and wholeheartedly because as far as Draco could tell he didn´t know any other way to kiss.

It didn´t take much longer before Draco was gasping against Harry´s mouth as the pleasure sizzled up and down his spine and his eyes tried to roll back in his head. He reached orgasm explosively, trembling against Harry for a long moment and then melting back against the bed. They laid there in a tangle of limbs for a long time as their breathing evened and their bodies hummed with satisfaction. Eventually though, their sticky wet crotches kind of ruined the moment. Laughing self-consciously, Harry climbed off the Slytherin and rolled onto his back. “So. Er.’

Draco didn´t even bother to try and make conversation. He stretched, arching his back the tiniest bit and extending his arms over his head. With a sigh, he rolled over to face Harry and propped his chin up in his hand. He took in the bruised lips, various hickeys, and slightly glazed green eyes with supreme satisfaction. Oh yes, he was good. He didn´t know if he´d ever felt quite so happy.

But of course, it couldn´t last and once more Lady Luck pissed all over his head.

The door opened with a bang and Granger rushed in breathlessly. “Harry! I found it! You were right! It´s - oh my.’ She halted, staring at the scene with wide eyes. It was more than obvious what they´d been doing and apparently Harry realized it. He leaped off the bed like it was going up in flames, blushing furiously.

“Err. It isn´t what it looks like! Well, it is, but um. I mean.’

“Yes?’ Granger asked, waiting to see exactly how her friend would get himself out of this one.

“I was just experimenting. It didn´t really mean anything. We´re just friends.’ Harry said lamely, holding up his shirt in front of him to awkwardly cover the wet spot on his jeans. Draco hardly cared about his tone of voice though. He flinched reflexively at the words, cut to the quick despite the extensive defenses he´d carefully constructed to protect himself over the years. Harry was facing Granger and so he missed it, but the other Gryffindor caught it and her eyes went soft with pity. It was more than Draco could take. He sent her one warning glance communicating the vast lengths he´d go to pay her back if she ratted him out to Harry and stood up.

The Slytherin spoke up coolly, bile rising in his throat and his hands clenched despite his smooth tone of voice. “Look, I´m almost late for Quidditch practice and I wouldn´t want to interrupt the Gryffindor love fest. Later, Potter. Granger.’ And in moments he was dressed and gone, leaving Harry to explain the situation with awkward, fumbling words and puppy dog eyes, completely unaware of the fact he´d hurt Draco badly or that anything was out of the ordinary, the stupid sod.

And Merlin help the Slytherin team during practice, because Draco was out for blood.

Draco was perched on one of the turrets near the Transfiguration classroom, looking out onto the courtyard below him as he brooded. He had a split lip, but it was nothing compared to what he´d inflicted on one of the Slytherin chasers. His beloved Quicksilver was propped up near him and he was still in full Quidditch uniform. Pucey had chased him off the pitch with orders to cool down and Draco, wary of the Beater club the Quidditch Captain had appropriated and had begun to wave around wildly, followed them without complaint while Vince and Greg looked on worriedly.

He pressed the heels of his hands hard against his eyes and wished he´d never heard of Harry Potter the Boy Who Lived to Make Draco Malfoy Miserable. Maybe he could claim he was straight and it had just been a phase so he could grovel to his father and become not only the Malfoy heir again, but a Death Eater so he could wreak havoc on all and sundry. But no, that was ridiculous because Draco enjoyed his freedom and he really didn´t want to kill people. Still, roughing Potter up a bit wouldn´t go amiss. The daft git was going to be the death of him, Draco knew it.

The stupidest part of all was that some tiny little part of him wanted to cry and he didn´t know why.

So, Potter had just been fooling around, it shouldn´t have mattered. Draco had still gotten off, he´d still been allowed to kiss Harry and feel his skin against his own, but the memory was soured by the words that came after. It was ridiculous, but Draco had no control over how he was feeling. It was like he had a lead lump in his chest and it was weighing him down.

And he didn´t want to feel like that. He didn´t want to be a pathetic Hufflepouf, but apparently he had no say in it. Draco removed his hands and stared dully down at the ground. It was about fifty feet or so. Quite a fall. But no - he couldn´t take that way out either. “I loathe you.’ He whispered roughly, but he didn´t know if he was talking about Harry or himself.

He stayed like that for a long time, watching nothing in particular as the wind played with his hair and tousled it teasingly. Then a knock sounded and Draco jolted, almost falling of his perch before catching himself just in time. He looked around wildly before he saw Professor Lupin in the window across from him, knuckles still pressed against the glass. The older man opened the window with a small smile. “Looking a bit glum there. Care for some tea?’

Draco hesitated, but eventually relented and grabbed up his broomstick. He crossed the gap between the towers quickly, flying right into the window before dismounting his broom carefully and setting it against the wall. “Hello, Professor Lupin.’

“Hello yourself, Draco. Take a seat.’ He did so gracefully, looking around at the room as Lupin bustled in with a tray. The room had a cozy atmosphere and, like Lupin, was a bit shabby, but welcoming nonetheless. “It seems one of the house elves thought you would prefer hot chocolate.’ The werewolf said, smiling slightly as he set down the tray and took his own seat.

Draco´s lips quirked upwards. “That´s probably Dobby´s doing.’ The Slytherin lifted his mug, savoring the warmth of it in his hands, and took a cautious sip. It tasted just the way he liked it. He cradled the warm mug in his hands and turned his gaze to the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, who was carefully measuring out spoonfuls of sugar into his tea.

“So. What has you perching on Gryffindor tower doing your impression of a gargoyle? Girl troubles?’

“Something like that.’ Draco muttered into his hot chocolate.

“Mmm. I thought so. You know you talk to me about anything if you need to. Teacher student confidentiality and all that. I´m here to help.’ There was so much sincerity in his voice Draco gave in, but he hesitated, wondering exactly how to explain the situation.

“It´s just.’ Then he exploded. “He said we were just friends! We´d been going at it right on his bed like animals and someone walks in and it´s like it never even happened! And he calls it experimenting!’ Draco spat the word like a curse. “You don´t kiss like that if you´re experimenting, I can sure as hell tell you that! How fucking dense can he get? Either he´s ashamed of me or he doesn´t feel the same way I feel about him and.’ Draco fumed a bit, before deflating. He was silent for a while and Lupin merely sipped at his tea patiently, waiting and ready to listen. When the Slytherin finally spoke up, it was in a quiet voice. “And it hurts, alright? It hurts because I want him and I´ve wanted him for so long it´s all I can remember even if I couldn´t admit it to myself and all I am to him is a friend. And not even his best friend at that.’

Lupin´s gaze was understanding and slightly sympathetic, but not pitying to Draco´s relief. Pity might as well have been poison as far as he was concerned. “Unrequited love can be troublesome.’

“I don´t believe in love.’ Draco said shortly, taking a bit gulp of his hot chocolate. “I just know I want him and more importantly I want him to want me the way I want him. Wait, want him to want me the way I want… is that right or did I put too many wants in there?’ Draco went over his words, his brow furrowed in a puzzled manner.

Lupin chuckled. “I understand what you´re trying to say. You have feelings for him and you want him to return those feelings. I´ll be honest. He may never feel the same way you do. But before you give up on him, I´d give him some time. And most importantly of all, I´d talk to him about it.’

“How many times do I need to go over this? I´m gay. Not a girl.’

This time Lupin laughed outright. “You sound just like Sirius.’

“Better than sounding like a Hufflepuff.’ Draco said, raising his eyebrows meaningfully. Lupin winced theatrically.

“Ouch. I suppose I deserved that one. But, he can´t read your mind. You need to tell him how you feel. Still, it´s only advice. You don´t have to listen to me and knowing you I doubt you will. I do encourage you to follow it though.’

“I´ll keep it in mind.’ Draco offered, looking into his mug at the dregs of hot chocolate swirling there.

“That´s all I ask you to do.’ Lupin said gently, setting his own tea cup down. Then he smiled. “Moving on to a more cheerful subject, your essay on lethifolds impressed me. It was very well done. I believe your scores were higher than even Hermione´s.’

“Really?’ Draco grinned. “I can´t wait to see her face when she finds out.’

The werewolf snorted his amusement. “If I knew that would have cheered you up so much I´d have told you that straight away. You two are quite competitive, aren´t you?’

The rest of the afternoon went by swiftly in a rush of pleasant conversation and refreshments. Draco left Lupin´s quarters by the window two hours later, feeling halfway normal. It made Draco wonder. Lupin was so calm and composed that the Slytherin would never had imagined he was a werewolf. It made him think about things he´d taken as facts before and reevaluate his opinions. After all, most of his beliefs had been taught to him by his father and Merlin knew the man had some fairly big blind spots.

Somehow, sitting across from that gentle man and sipping at hot chocolate that brought back memories of his childhood, he had the feeling that discriminating against werewolves made you every inch the beast they were portrayed as.

Draco adjusted his dragon hide gloves for a moment, lifting his head to look around the greenhouse. He was partnered with Goyle, who had gone to get supplies. The students were chattering softly since the Herbology teacher permitted it as long as they did their work. Harry was paired up with the Weasel, and they were both leaning up against the glass and waiting for further instruction from Sprout. He had a streak of soil on his cheek and he kept shooting Draco glances that were probably meant to be surreptitious. Draco ignored the looks with stately arrogance and turned back to his baby Man-eating Venus flytrap.

The flytrap was young and therefore relatively small. It was as tall as Draco´s hips and it´s trap, with its teeth like cilia, was about as big as two of his hands together. The carnivorous plant snapped at the air every now and then in an aggressive manner. The acidic digestive and antiseptic juices the trap secreted were necessary for many potions and, because Snape was running short, the flytraps had been added to the Herbology syllabus at the last minute. Longbottom´s Venus Flytrap had shut on his hand and a flustered Madame Sprout was attempting to free him.

Greg finally lumbered back and tossed the slab of meat he´d gotten into the waiting jaws of the trap. It snapped close and, after watering the plant, the boys took a seat. “Potter´s staring at you.’ The larger Slytherin murmured out of the corner of his mouth.

“I´m aware of that, Greg.’

There was a moment of silence and then Goyle spoke up again. “Blaise said you two haven´t been talkin´ lately.’ It was true. They weren´t talking to each other. Recently, Harry had been spending all his spare time in the library with Granger and Weasley, though Draco didn´t know why. When he´d approached the Gryffindor with an offer of a one on one Quidditch game, the other boy had brushed him off. Draco knew when he was being rejected and after that had spent all his time with his fellow Slytherins. He respected himself too much to beg for any more scraps of affection from the Boy Who Lived.

“Blaise is worse than that Violet portrait when it comes to gossip.’ Draco said sourly, peeling off his dragon hide gloves.

Greg picked at his thumbnail for a moment before speaking up again. “Y´know how Crabbe was s´pposed to watch the Gryffindors?’

“Yes?’ Draco inquired, lifting one eyebrow.

“He said somethin´ the other day. About how Finnigan was going on about Potter.’

“And?’ He asked impatiently, watching the flytrap attempting to digest its meal.

Greg flashed Draco a lopsided grin. “Potter´s been busy. Tryin´ to save the world again and all. I wouldn´t take it too personal.’

Draco only shrugged. He wasn´t up for a discussion about Potter. All he knew was that the other boy had hurt him and didn´t even seem to notice. Or care. Of course, at the moment he was swiveling his head of messy black hair around to stare at Draco every three minutes, but Potter´s sudden case of rubber-neck wasn´t his problem.

The rest of the class went by without incident and Longbottom´s hand was retrieved with all due haste and he was sent down to the Infirmary. Draco gathered his things and, grateful he had a free period after class, prepared to leave. He only managed two steps before Harry stepped in front of him nervously. “Draco. We need to talk.’

Greg was almost out the door already, but paused as soon as he noticed the confrontation. The Gryffindor gave the large boy a dubious look before turning back to Draco, lowering his voice to speak to his Slytherin friend. “Please, Draco. It won´t take more than five minutes.’

Draco bit his lip for a moment, undecided. When Potter´s eyes dropped to stare for a moment at the way his bottom lip was being held between his teeth, he was decided. “Go on, Greg. I´ll meet you in the Slytherin common room before dinner to go over our Potions homework.’

Harry sighed with relief. “Thanks, Draco.’

Greg grunted in acknowledgement and left, shooting one last worried look over his shoulder before he was out of sight. Madam Sprout bustled into the back room at just that moment, leaving Harry free to man handle Draco into another greenhouse where he shut the door behind them. Draco smoothed his robes with a scowl. “Do you mind?’

“Sorry.’ Harry said halfheartedly, obviously not sorry at all. “I just. I know you´re mad at me and I know why.’

“Oh?’ Draco asked, raising one eyebrow and crossing his arms over his chest. “Do you? It took you long enough. One would think with the way you´ve spoiled Voldemort´s plans so often you´d be a bit faster on the uptake.’

Harry flushed, but didn´t argue the point. “I´m sorry, okay? I didn´t mean to ignore you. But I´m just so busy and… well. Something´s come up and it´s important. I´ll spend time with you as soon as I can, I swear.’

Draco was disappointed that Harry hadn´t quite gotten it yet. Apparently he´d decided to completely ignore their ‘experiment´. Typical Gryffindor attitude; ignoring his own problems in favor of tackling some insanely dangerous dilemma. “So, what exactly has come up? Anything I can help you with?’

“Er. No. I mean, I´m sure you could. It´s just that…’

“You don´t trust me.’ Draco said flatly.

“No. I mean, I do. It´s just. Hermione wouldn´t mind, really. But Ron would kill me if I told you. I really am sorry.’ He offered, ducking his head so that his glasses slid somewhat down his nose.

Draco sighed and smoothed down his gelled hair with one hand. “Fine, Potter. Whatever.’ He turned around in a swirl of robes that would have done Snape proud and stalked out of the greenhouse. He paused on the threshold and without turning around spoke. “When you manage to get out from underneath the Weasel´s thumb you know where to find me. Until then, don´t even bother.’

Draco sighed, flipping through the sketch book Crabbe had given him for Christmas languidly. He scanned them carefully, taking it all in. A dragon, a Quidditch game, a girl and her puffskein, a phoenix, a unicorn, one of the Ravenclaw prefects playing chess with a Slytherin; both intensely focused on the task at hand, the Gray Lady, Snape bent over his cauldron… there were all sorts of sketches, each more detailed than the last. He flipped past a boy and his owl and paused before turning back to the page.

It was Harry, standing out in the courtyard with his Snowy Owl perched on his arm and grinning like an loon. But a handsome loon. His robes were a stark black that stood out against the snow and his owl´s feathers. Draco had seen the owl before in the Owlry while visiting Grindylow and had even scratched at that little feathered tuft above her beak, because Snowy Owls were often used as mail delivery birds and it was hard to miss a speck of white among dull brown birds. The owl launched itself off of Harry´s arm in the sketch and Harry raised his face to watch her fly, snowflakes drifting down onto that wild mop of black hair. Then she dived back down and took her place on his arm once more, only for the cycle to repeat itself.

Draco let his fingertips skim the grinning face etched onto the parchment for a moment, staring at the picture and feeling oddly… bereft. The melancholy made a lump rise in his throat and he shut his eyes, willing back the tears that inexplicably came to his eyes. Merlin, he was weak.

Then the sound of grinding stones brought him out of his reverie and he shut the sketch book quickly, stuffing it under a couch cushion. He quickly brought his knees up and hid his face in them, wrapping his arms around his legs and wishing Pansy would just go the hell away. She´d been dropping by constantly for the last two weeks, plying him with sweets and sympathy while Harry ignored him. Granted, Draco had asked him to, but he wasn´t supposed to actually listen!


And great, now he was hearing his voice. Wait a second… Draco´s head shot up. Harry was hovering in the door way uncertainly, looking at him in a concerned manner. “Harry?’ The Slytherin asked incredulously. “How´d you get in?’

“Er. Pansy said the password in front of me last time, remember? It´s still Parseltongue so it wasn´t that hard. That´s not important though. Are you okay?’

Draco was touched at the sudden show of concern, but managed to keep his appreciation off his face. “I´m fine. What are you doing down here? Finally ready to tell me what´s going on?’

“Yes. Well, that and to ask you a favor.’ Harry was surprisingly serious and his green eyes were darker than usual. His expression was somber and it made Draco sit upright.

“Is something wrong?’

“You could say that.’ The Gryffindor said wryly. Harry took a seat next to him, resting his elbows on his knees and turning his head to look at Draco. “Look. I really am sorry about the way I´ve been neglecting you. I know I hurt your feelings and I never meant to do that.’

“You didn´t hurt my feelings. You annoyed me!’ Draco snapped reflexively. The Boy Who Lived gave him a level, disbelieving look, but let him get away with the denial.

“I´m sorry I annoyed you then. Do you want to hear what I have to say or not?’ Harry asked, his patience obviously wearing thin.

“Sorry. Go on.’

Harry ran a hand through his tousled hair. It was sticking up in the back and the way he raked his fingers through it only made it worse. “Okay. You know how you were talking about Salazar Slytherin Christmas Eve? About how he tried to make himself into a sort of wand, but it didn´t work?’

“Yes.’ Draco said cautiously, wondering where this was going.

“Did you hear about how the Glastonbury Tor was ransacked?’ Draco felt anxiety bubble up inside him as he began to connect the dots.

“Of course I did. And?’ He knew there was more.

There was. “Voldemort stole the remains of Salazar Slytherin. Apparently, they´re charged with power. For the past few months he´s been preparing to do the same thing Slytherin did, but this time he has Slytherin´s skull to help him. Draco, he might actually manage it.’ Harry´s voice was low and urgent, making the hair on the back of Draco´s neck prickle.

“Fuck me sideways.’ Draco exclaimed darkly. “We´re dead. We´re all very, very dead.’

“Nice to know you´re so optimistic.’ Harry smirked, leaning back.

Draco turned to stare at him with wide eyes. “Are you insane? This isn´t a laughing matter. You´re number one on his hit list. He´s going to kill you, Harry! Fuck! Is Dumbledore sending you away? Is that why you´ve been so busy? Were you researching wards and secrecy spells?’

“No. We had to work out what Voldemort was doing in the first place and how to stop him. I have to get Slytherin´s skull away from him so Dumbledore can negate its magic. If I don´t, there´s no telling how powerful he´ll become.’

“You-?!’ Draco was shocked speechless. “What the fuck is wrong with you!’ He finally exploded, gesturing wildly with his hands. “You´re going to get your foolish, idiotically brave self killed, Potter! Then you´ll be dead. As in worm food!’

Harry was not impressed. “Not if I can get the skull back. He´s going to try to kill me no matter what, but once he´s made himself a focus I´m dead for sure. It´s my only chance, Draco.’

The Slytherin slumped back in his seat, suddenly tired. Draco knew with certainty he couldn´t simply sit by and let Harry die. Against all common sense and Slytherin instincts, he´d have to help the other boy whether he liked it or not. He massaged the bridge of his nose, feeling a headache coming on. “What can I do to help you?’ He finally asked in a weary voice.

Harry smiled at brightly, his eyes warm with affection. “I knew you´d help.’

“Yeah, well. Don´t let it get to your head.’ He said grumpily, tilting his own head so the golden-white strands of hair falling in his face weren´t quite so annoying. “Hmph.’

“You´re so cute when you´re pouting.’ Harry teased.

“I´m cute no matter what I´m doing.’ Draco corrected, his lips twitching the tiniest bit. “But, my incredible powers of attraction aren´t the subject at hand. How are we getting the skull back?’

Harry chewed on his lip for a moment and then locked eyes with Draco. “Your father has it.’

“Oh. Oh no. Don´t even look at me like that. Do you know how well protected the Manor is? It´ll be suicide, Harry.’

“Oh well then. I guess I´ll just have to go by myself.’ Harry said unconcernedly.

“I know what you´re trying to do and it´s not going to work.’ Draco told him, his chin tilted up in that stubborn way of his. “The Manor´s practically Unplottable. Unless you´ve been there before, I´m afraid you won´t find it.’

Harry shrugged broad shoulders and leaned back, still looking determined. “Dobby will take me.’

“And then what? He´ll probably lead you right over a trap door. The House elves have their own way of getting around the Manor that you won´t be able to take and Dobby doesn´t know any other way. Not to mention, you don´t know where the skull is.’

“It´s probably in the secret chamber under the drawing room floor.’

Draco was stunned. “How the hell do you know about that?!’

“I eavesdropped on a conversation you had with Crabbe an Goyle when we were younger.’ Despite the plausibility of that, Harry still looked a bit shifty. Before Draco could question him, the Gryffinro continued speaking hurriedly. “But that´s not important. I´m going no matter what you say, Draco. Think about it. If you go with me, you can make sure I don´t get myself killed.’

“Just for the record, I am very much against this. Very much. And when we die a horrible bloody death I will say I told you so.’

“So we´re going by broomstick?’

“Yes.’ Draco agreed, exasperated. Harry just flashed him a sunny smile.

They spent most of the night flying. By the time they reached the Manor, Draco was almost frozen solid and his thighs, arse, and lower back ached. Draco wasn´t used to such intense flying and it showed. He flew frequently, yes. But not on long distance trips for over six hours. He awkwardly dismounted his Quicksilver, wrapping his Ever-Changing Cloak around him tightly. It was currently a heavy, thick velvet in the darkest shade of black imaginable, helping Draco blend into the night seamlessly.

“Ugh. Ouch.’ Harry grunted, swinging off his broom with a disgusting amount of grace. “I think I´ve got a broomstick shaped indent in my arse.’ They propped their broomsticks up against a large oak tree before surveying their surroundings.

Draco bit back the multiple comments festering in his brain at the thought of broomsticks and Harry´s arse and turned his attention back to the task at hand. “That´s lovely.’ He said sarcastically, because after all that comment deserved some sort of reply. “Anyway, the back wall should be that way. Come on.’ Harry adjusted the knapsack he´d brought along and followed on Draco´s heels through the meadow. After getting tangled up in the local wildlife (Draco), tripping over a tree root (Harry - twice), and spooking at the sound of a small animal in the underbrush (Draco again, and it wasn´t a girly scream) the two boys finally managed to make it to the back property line of Malfoy Manor.

The wall was huge, a monstrosity of pure white marble reaching in both directions for quite a ways. Harry craned his neck up to peer at it. “Great. So how do we get over it?’

“We don´t. Unless that is, you want to be fried to a crisp. Stand back for a moment.’ Harry did so with only a grumble or two, leaving Draco to run his hands over the wall. The Slytherin walked five paces to the left and then sighed with relief. “Found it. Okay, here goes.’ He cleared his throat for a moment and then spoke up loudly. “Weasley is a dunderhead.’ There was no discernable reaction, but Draco made a little triumphant ‘ha´ sound.

“Weasley is a dunderhead?’ Harry asked dubiously.

“Hey, it´s not my password. It´s two hundred years old, at least. Well, don´t just stand there. Come on.’ Draco walked right through the wall and after a moment of shock Harry plunged after him. Then he promptly turned around to examine the oddity, but the wall was solid once more.

“Wow. Do a lot of the walls around here do that?’

“No. It´s a secret. Even Father doesn´t know about this entrance. It was used by one of my ancestors to sneak out of the Manor so he could attend duels.’ Draco informed the other boy, looking around cautiously. “We better go by the pond first. Yes, that´s best. Follow me carefully.’

Their footsteps were quiet as they traversed the gardens, only the soft sound of gravel crunching underfoot to reveal their passage. Draco had to keep Harry from walking right into a patch of Man-Eating Venus Flytraps, but other than that they made it to the pond without any incidents. There was a small bridge over the expanse of sparkling water and a gazebo nearby. Harry blinked slowly, taking it all in.

“It´s pretty.’ He said softly.

Draco nodded his agreement. “Yes, it is. Mother spends a lot of time out here in the afternoons when she´s at the Manor.’ Then he rummaged in his pockets for his wand and, while Harry watched on curiously, waved it commandingly. “Accio frog.’

“Uh, Draco? Why do you want a frog?’ The Gryffindor asked, looking at Draco like he´d gone off his nut.

“You´ll see. You should get one too.’ Harry just stared at him. “What? Just trust me.’

“Alright. Here goes. Accio frog.’ He caught the amphibian easily with reflexes that made Draco burn with envy and grimaced. “It´s peeing on me, Draco.’

Snickering, the Slytherin led Harry to one of the main paths. His own frog was ensconced safely in one of his robe pockets. “That just means it loves you, Harry.’ Draco cooed, dodging the punch aimed at his arm. “Violence doesn´t solve anything.’ He chided with faux seriousness, holding back his laughter.

“No, but it´ll make me feel better.’ Harry said dryly. The reflexive banter was just a way to distract each other from what was, in Draco´s opinion, their impending death. They wound their way through the hedge maze, past the rows of night blooming lilies, and over the grassy knoll. From there they slinked to the back of the Manor itself. Ivy climbed the walls, softening the intimidating exterior with it´s various shades of green foliage.

This was Draco´s destination.

Running vertically down the wall was a huge stone snake. It was hollow and each stone scale was carved with loving detail. The snake itself was in a sort of slumber, it´s head propped up against the ground and it´s mouth open. It was a very extravagant drainage pipe, meant to direct the run off of water from the gutters. Draco sat on his haunches and placed his frog in the small puddle near the snake´s mouth. It was undoubtedly left over moisture from the last rain.

Harry let his own frog join Draco´s despite the fact he was obviously bewildered by the Slytherin´s actions. It all became clear though when Draco pet the snake and it stirred from it´s hibernations, lifting it´s head and flicking it´s tongue out in welcome. It hissed and for once, thanks to Blaise´s gift, he could actually understand it.

Ah, the little frog-bringer is back. So thoughtful. I do so love to be serenaded by frogs.’

I know. We would like a lift to the third floor balcony, if you wouldn´t mind.

Both Harry and the snake jerked in surprise, staring at him. The stone snake gathered it´s wits first. “I see you´ve finally learned how to speak a civilized language. Of course I´ll lift you up. There´s no reason to break years of tradition, is there? Hop on, frog-bringers. The sooner you´re gone, the sooner I can listen to the frog songs.’

Draco clambered on and Harry followed soon after, leaning forward to mutter in his ear. “I knew it was you speaking Parseltongue in Defense of Dark Arts! Do you know how crazy that drove me?’ The snake was lifting them up carefully, folding itself in half so they weren´t in any danger of falling off and stretching towards the large balcony to the right.

“That´s exactly why I did it.’

“How? I didn´t know you could speak Parseltongue too.’

“I´ll explain later. Preferably when we´re not in peril. Here we are.’ They crawled off the snake and watched as it returned to its previous position. This time it stayed awake, propping its head up near the puddle and listening the soft croaking sounds of its amphibian companions blissfully. Draco gave it one last fond glance before moving towards the balcony doors. “Alohomora. After you, Harry.’ The Gryffindor quietly walked in, but didn´t miss Draco´s next words. “After all, ladies first.’

“Draco.’ He said warningly.

“I know.’ Draco said, sobering quickly. “From here on out we need to be silent. The walls themselves have ears.’ They were in the music room and there were no portraits on the walls. Draco, of course, knew this. There was a reason he had chosen this room for their entrance.

Harry nodded firmly, looking every inch the Gryffindor hero. “Right. Hold that thought.’ He slipped off his knapsack and rummaged in it, finally producing a fall of silvery fabric. Harry put his pack back on and turned to the other boy. “Here we go. Get under.’

“Is that…? You lucky bastard. How the fuck did you get an invisibility cloak? And is this the explanation for the floating head? I thought I was hallucinating.’

“It was my father´s and yes. Now hurry up, Draco.’ The Slytherin let himself be enfolded in the cloak and Harry joined them. They shuffled towards the door, stepping on each other until they figured out how to synchronize their steps. Draco managed to get a grope or two in before they were through the door and Harry shot him a suspicious look, but didn´t pursue it.

The corridors were even more confusing than the gardens, mostly because they seemed to change of their own accord like Hogwarts´ staircases. Harry let him lead the way, since Draco had an intrinsic understanding of Malfoy Manor. He´d been born here and had probably been over every inch during the sixteen years he´d lived here. They trudged through the halls, peering about nervously and walking as quietly as possible.

A glittering crystal vase was perched on one of the end tables in a quiet corridor and when Harry reached out to touch it Draco smacked his hand away swiftly. “It´s coated in poison.’ He said curtly, leading the wide eyed Gryffindor away from any other shiny and potentially deadly items. Draco only had to backtrack once when a dead end sprang up from nowhere. The Manor was decorated lavishly, displaying the wealth of the Malfoy family and its discriminating tastes for all to see. Draco was immune to Manor´s charms, but Harry seemed both intimated and awed at the sheer expensive elegance of the place.

Their trek stopped in front of a portrait of a sleeping young man. He looked a good deal like Draco except that his hair reached down to the small of his back and his face was thinner, if not quite so pointy. Draco whispered softly to it. “Francois. It´s me, Draco.’ The man roused, blinking at the floating heads of both boys.

“Well, now. Draco, is that you? What are you doing here?’

Draco leaned in as if imparting information of grave importance. “We´re here to keep Voldemort from taking over the wizarding world.’ Harry gave him an urgent look, as if to ask what he was doing, but Draco ignored it.

“Really?’ Asked the portrait, intrigued. “I heard about what Lucius did to you. Disowning you for such a silly thing like dallying with boys. Is this young man yours?’ Asked Francois, smiling flirtatiously at Harry who looked embarrassed at the portrait´s attentions.

“Oh, yes.’ Draco said blithely, ignoring the fact Harry had stomped on his foot. “We´re madly in love. It´s why I was disowned. Father couldn´t stand the fact I had taken up with the Boy Who Lived.’

Francois began to fan himself with a hand, looking utterly delighted. “Really? Oh my! How scandalous! I really should report you boys, but I know it´s for a good cause. And he´s so dapper, isn´t he? I must admit I have a weakness for tall, dark, and handsome men. I always knew you had good taste, Draco. In you go, you two. Good luck!’ The portrait swung open and Draco bustled Harry into the secret corridor, shutting the frame behind them with a last whispered farewell to Francois, who was still sighing about the romance of it all.

“Lumos. That was… different.’

“Yes. Francois is a rather colorful character. We´ve had all sorts in the family, but considering just how long our lineage is it only makes sense.’ Draco lit his own wand and started walking. “There´s no need for the invisibility cloak at the moment.’ Harry nodded and folded it over his arm, keeping pace next to Draco as they traversed the dusty hallway. Cobwebs shivered at the vibrations from their passing and a few spiders scuttled out of sight.

Draco led him through the labyrinthine halls and through other hidden entrances until they´d finally reached the last leg of their journey. They both wiggled under the cloak again and exited the secret passages, arriving right inside the drawing room. It was very large and decorated in cream and gold. In the middle of the floor was the family crest, etched deeply into the stone. There was a fireplace large enough for three people across from them and various couches and expensive looking lamps littered the room. “Here we are.’ Draco whispered softly. They shuffled towards the other side of the room.

There was a dragon statuette sitting in the corner, tall enough to reach Draco´s breast bone. It was large and its wings were halfway unfurled as it snarled a warning to all those who passed by. Unlike most wizarding statues, it didn´t move. Merely perched there, constantly stationary no matter what went on around it. “What now?’ Harry said softly. “How do we get the chamber open?’

“Do you have anything sharp?’

“No.’ Harry answered, puzzled. Exhaling in an annoyed fashion, Draco took out his wand and transfigured a nearby cigarette tray into a small knife. He grabbed it by the handle and lightly sliced the fleshy part of his arm. “What the bloody hell do you think you´re doing, Draco?!’ Harry hissed, obviously upset.

“Opening the chamber, dolt.’ Draco collected the blood and smeared it in the dragon´s mouth. Immediately afterwards, the sound of grinding stone filled the air. It echoed in the empty room in a creepy fashion and the boys moved together instinctively. “It only opens for those of Malfoy blood. Father´s going start frothing at the mouth when he finds out the skull´s missing.’ Draco smirked before gesturing towards the gaping hole in the floor. “And there you are.’ The crest on the floor had opened to reveal a spiral staircase going downwards.

“Right, then.’ Harry said, locking eyes with Draco as if to impart strength to the other boy. “Ready?’

“No, but don´t let that stop you.’

Hesitantly, they made their way down the winding staircase, their hands brushing briefly as they moved. Even if it had been accidental, Draco found it oddly reassuring. Harry went first, cautiously treading down the steps. The invisibility cloak was draped over his arm again, obviously not useful in such close quarters when there was no one to hide from anyway.

They finally reached the chamber and hovered together on the threshold. They exchanged a glance. “Well. Here goes nothing.’ The Gryffindor walked inside, his shoulders squared and Draco followed a mere pace behind. Draco had the feeling it was a position he was probably going to get used to.

If they survived, that is.

The air was heavy and thick with magic, making it difficult to breathe. The atmosphere was hushed, full of untold secrets and forbidden power. Cubby holes lined one wall and they were filled with a myriad of dark objects. There were a few locked trunks scattered around, as well as several pedestals holding more powerful artifacts. Harry led the way through the clutter without even glancing at the other objects. They approached what appeared to be an altar made out of jet black stone. On top of it perched a burnt, blackened skull. Just the sight of it made Draco shiver with disgust. The most sinister of auras was radiating outwards from it, coating the area in a miasma of evil. The closer they drew to the skull the more Draco felt as if he needed to bathe, because even his skin felt filthy from being near it. The oily feeling only intensified when they stopped short of the altar.

“This is it.’ Harry said.

“Really? I never would have guessed.’ Draco said sarcastically under his breath, eyeing the black silk cloth the skull was laying on as well as the black onyx altar. The altar itself seemed to be soaking up the dark magic emanating from Slytherin´s skull, but there so much of it the excess energy was pooling around them. It wasn´t actually visible, but any wizard could have sensed it because it was so powerful. The hem of Draco´s cloak was moving from the force of it.

Harry ignored the negative ambiance resolutely and stepped up to the platform that held the altar, pausing to open his knapsack again. After a moment, he took out another bag made out of some sort of fibrous material. Protective runes were embroidered all over it in overlapping patterns that dazzled the eye. The Gryffindor fiddled with the drawstring holding it closed and took painstaking care to make sure that his skin didn´t come in contact with the skull as he maneuvered it into the bag. Once the bag was shut and the drawstring knotted tightly, Draco´s skin stopped itching and he no longer felt quite so soiled, though the power was dispersing slowly. The Slytherin sighed with relief as Harry transferred the bag holding the skull into his larger knapsack. “So that´s it?’

“Yeah. Now all we have to do is leave.’

Draco took that to heart and darted back up the stairs quickly to escape the chamber. Harry followed more slowly, but emerged soon after. The stairs began to move immediately after Harry´s foot had left the top step, righting the floor back to it´s usual appearance. The Malfoy family crest replaced the stairs and after making sure everything was in order the two boys climbed back into the secret passages.

They retraced their steps through the Manor easily, the invisibility cloak aiding them greatly as they did so. There was a close call with a family ghost, but nothing came of it. The snake helped them get back on ground level from the third floor balcony without complaint before turning his attentions back to his frogs. It was all going so smoothly Draco couldn´t resist gloating.

“Ha! And here I thought thwarting Voldemort was hard! It´s so easy, I don´t know why everyone can´t do it. I mean, this was a piece of cake. Considering his shoddy defenses, I´m not surprised Voldemort was defeated by an infant.’ The Slytherin said scornfully.

“Er, Draco?’

“I mean, you´d think at the very least he´d have Death Eaters stationed around the grounds to guard an object that would give him unimaginable power, but obviously he´s not quite that bright.’


“He must have a very good public relations agent, because in all honesty-’

“DRACO!’ Harry finally shouted to get his attention. Draco fell silent, offended at the interruption, but a good look at Harry´s nervous expression quelled him. “Do you hear that?’

“Hear what?’ And then he noticed it, the low snarling sound that seemed to be getting louder. He instantly turned white from sheer terror.

“Draco? Draco! What is it?’

“Hellhounds.’ He whispered fearfully. And as if they´d been called, the hounds appeared. One could have been dealt with, though only with some amount of difficulty. Unfortunately, there was an entire pack. They were pure white with demonic red eyes that gleamed with something akin to insane blood thirst and their ears were flat against their wedge shaped heads. One of the dogs licked its chops loudly, showing off an impressive set of teeth and powerful jaws capable of crunching bones to splinters. “RUN!’ The two boys set off, pounding down the gravel path and away from the pack that had caught their scent and had begun to hunt. With his heart thumping in his throat, Draco tore off towards the back wall with Harry at his side.

The hounds were growling and baying behind them, herding them along for their own amusement. Every now and then one of them would dart forward and snap at their legs, encouraging the boys to run faster. The demonic canines were playing with their food, maliciously taunting the two fleeing boys. Harry lifted his wand and landed a curse or two on the hounds behind them, but it only seemed to encourage the hell hounds to increase the pace. Draco didn´t even bother, saving his breath for better things - like escape. His legs pumped rapidly and his breath began to come in gasps as he ran flat out towards safety.

As Draco and Harry pelted towards the wall at full speed Harry hollered the password. “Weasley is a dunderhead!’ And then they were through, gasping and whirling around to stare at the wall in trepidation. There were several thumps and snarls against the suddenly solid wall, followed by an unearthly howl that made the hair on Draco´s neck and arms stand up and quiver.

Harry, still panting, turned to him. Moonlight glinted off his glasses, making his eyes difficult to read. However, the sarcasm in his voice as he ground out his words said it all. “Oh yes, Draco. A piece of cake, I think you said?’

“Oh, shut up.’ Draco said sullenly, his usual wit no where to be found. There was a long moment of silence as the hounds presumably slunk off in search of easier prey. Draco slumped against the wall, feeling more relieved than he could ever remember being in his life. The sound of leaves rustling from a light breeze was relaxing and his heart began to slow from its frantic pace. Then suddenly a branch snapped and Draco flinched, ducking for cover in a nearby bush.

“That was me, Draco. Don´t worry. But the look on your face!’ Harry started snickering, his nervousness finally finding an outlet. Draco´s climbed out of the bush, picking out a few twigs from his hair and glaring at the Gryffindor. Eventually, his mouth twitched and despite himself he chuckled. It rapidly degenerated into full out laughter, both of their voices ringing in the night air. They laughed together loudly for several long minutes, too hyped up on adrenaline and fear for anything resembling calm. Finally, their mirth died out. Harry heaved a sigh, a smile still playing on his lips.

“C´mon, Draco. We´ve got a ways to go yet.’

“Isn´t that the truth?’ Draco said wryly, following the Gryffindor as they made their way through the underbrush back to their broomsticks.

The night air was dark, cool, and refreshing, but it soon gave way to morning. Considering the fact the boys were in the air as the sun began to ascend it´s daily climb into the sky, they were forced to land. Though the lovely cascade of golden and crimson sunlight was pretty, it wasn´t very good for flying conditions. Bright rays of sunlight had been bouncing off nearby clouds and blinding them both, not to mention they were weary to the bone from stress and a sleepless night. After a quick exchanged glance of wordless communication, they landed in a small copse of trees near a meandering stream.

Draco dismounted stiffly and spread his cloak out on the dewy grass, collapsing heavily and stretching out his limbs with a few loud groans of pain. He rested his cheek against the soft velvet material of his cloak and closed his eyes, attempting to make his head stop swimming. He felt movement somewhere close and cracked open one eyelid to see Harry lounging nearby before shutting it again. The adrenaline was starting to wear off, leaving the Slytherin exhausted and wrung out. Harry looked tired, but pleased with himself and his hair was poking uncontrollably in every direction imaginable.

Grumbling complaints inaudibly to himself, Draco hefted himself up and crawled over to the stream, cupping his hands to take a few gulps of water. He splashed his face and drank enthusiastically, relieved to quench that particular brand of thirst that flying caused. Then the Slytherin scooted back to his previous spot and sprawled out again, throwing his arm over his eyes to block out the rapidly brightening sunlight. “Alright, Draco?’ Harry questioned kindly.

Draco made a vaguely disgruntled sound in reply.

“Yeah, me too.’ Harry said with a bit of amusement coloring his voice.

There was a long moment of companionable silence while birds began to twitter on in the background. The sunlight cast jagged shadows through the trees and the air had that fresh, crisp morning smell. Draco removed his arm and took it all in, the rugged wildness of nature that he couldn´t help but appreciate. He heard Harry remove his glasses, but it was a distant thing he paid little attention to. “Draco?’ Harry asked softly and the Slytherin turned to him in a distracted manner.

“Hmm?’ And then Harry´s lips were against his and Draco couldn´t help but inhale sharply in shock. The Gryffindor coaxed his mouth open and then they were kissing and Draco knew he shouldn´t be doing it, but somehow he couldn´t make himself stop and Harry´s mouth was so hot compared to their chilly surroundings and oh Merlin, he was doing that thing with his tongue again. Every time Harry touched him Draco was undone, but he wasn´t sure Harry knew how to put him back together again. Even with all that, the Slytherin couldn´t resist. Couldn´t resist pressing closer to Harry´s warmth and fighting a duel of tongues and teeth with his mouth that neither could lose.

Finally, Draco managed to gather up a tiny shred of sense and he pushed Harry away, still reeling form the onslaught. “Why… why did you do that?’ He asked, licking his lips and biting back a moan when he noticed that Harry´s taste still lingered on them.

Harry´s lifted his hand and brushed his fingertips against Draco´s cheek, still watching Draco with those brilliant green eyes. “Because I wanted to.’

“Don´t. Don´t - you can´t just.’ Draco abruptly turned his head away from Harry´s caresses.

“Can´t just what? What´s wrong?’ Harry asked, concerned.

“What´s wrong?’ Draco echoed incredulously. “I´m not your fuck toy, Potter. If you want to ‘experiment´, do it on your own time.’ He said harshly, dredging up the anger he´d felt at being treated so carelessly by Harry the last time they´d done this.

The Gryffindor looked both uncomfortable and adorably confused. “What? What are you talking about?’

“I don´t like to be led on.’ Draco said evenly, locking eyes with the other boy. “If you want me, fine. If you don´t, that´s fine too. We can just be friends. But I don´t appreciate being played with.’

“You mean…?’ Realization was finally dawning on him and with it dismay. “I didn´t realize I was leading you on. I´m sorry, Draco. I would never deliberately hurt you. You know that, don´t you?’ He was so heartbreakingly sincere, so Gryffindorish, that Draco didn´t have the heart to snap at him.

“I know. Why do you think I didn´t use an impotence hex on you?’

“Um.’ Was all Harry had to say, his eyes wide.

Draco couldn´t help but smirk at the expression. “Yes. Think on that for a bit.’

“I really am sorry.’ Harry offered, looking down abashedly so that his hair fell into his eyes. Draco brushed the dark locks away carefully for him. Harry´s head lifted and he studied Draco´s face thoroughly, his eyes intense. “May I… May I kiss you again?’

And stunned, Draco had to chalk one up to Gryffindor bravery. He was silent for a long moment, unsure of how to respond, but when Harry´s eyes filled with disappointment and began to loose that familiar openness the words tumbled out of his mouth of his own accord.

“Yes. Yes, you may.’

And Draco leaned forward to meet Harry´s lips, sighing against his mouth because it simply felt so right. It was a soft kiss, a serious one that asked a question. Draco´s unequivocal reply was yes and he answered with passion and a sort of muted reverence, letting Harry pull him onto his lap and wrapping an arm around the other boy to steady himself. Draco lost himself in the kiss, letting the world fall away for a few moments while he focused on the way Harry´s hand on the small of his back made him shiver with delight and how he nibbled at Draco´s bottom lips so enticingly. The firmness of Harry´s thighs under his legs as Draco straddled his lap was wonderful and Draco clutched at Harry´s bicep for balance while he explored the other boy´s mouth thoroughly.

Draco pulled back again and the rumbling noise of protest Harry made in his chest and the glazed green eyes almost drew him back for more, but his self control prevailed. “Do you want me? Say it, Potter.’

“I want you.’ Harry said huskily, flushing at the wanton tone of his own voice. Draco leaned against him, brushing open mouthed kisses across the salty expanse of his neck and tangling his fingers in the thick hair at the nape of the Gryffindor´s neck.

“Mmm, really?’ He murmured against soft skin. “Do you want me enough to be my lover?’ Harry shivered and gasped softly, but before he could reply Draco pushed on. “Do you want me enough to turn down all those girls who fling themselves at you because you´re the Boy Who Lived? Enough to have a real relationship with me? Enough to fuck me until all I can think about is you?’

“Yes. God, yes.’ Harry all but moaned.

Draco felt triumph surge through him and he lifted his head and cupped Harry´s face with both his hands, making sure the other boy was looking at him. “Then you´re mine, Harry.’ He said fiercely. “You´re mine and if you dare to hurt me again I´ll spit on your Firebolt and roast you like a suckling pig.’

“Erk.’ Said Harry, jolted out of his lustful daze by the graphic threat.

Before he could contemplate Draco´s possessive words, the Slytherin was ravishing his mouth once more. They tumbled to the ground in a sprawl of limbs as they unbalanced and their kiss was broken. As soon as they landed their mouths clashed together urgently once more and Draco slid his hands under Harry´s shirt, clutching at the bare skin of his back while the Gryffindor kissed him until his head spun dizzily. “I want you. Oh, god I want you.’ Harry muttered, sprinkling love bites and kisses down Draco´s neck. It seemed as though once he´d started saying it he couldn´t stop. “Want you.’ Kiss. “So bad.’ Sloppy suck near his collarbone that made Draco whimper. “Want you, want you, want you.’

“Oh fuck.’ He said breathlessly. “You can have me anyway you want me.’

Harry paused, his eyes widening with surprise. “Really? Wow.’ Then he promptly brushed a bright shade of red, even to the tips of his ears. Draco´s eyes followed the red flush down his neck and he was wondering just how far the blush traveled when Harry distracted him from his train of thought. “But, er. I don´t really know about what two boys do together. I mean, I can guess.’ He shrugged awkwardly. “But it´s not something you can just ask around about, you know?’

“Hmm?’ Draco asked. Then he blinked, the words sinking in. Smirking, he leaned forward and traced the curve of Harry´s ear with his tongue, making sure to bite down on his earlobe before whispering seductively in his ear. “We could suck one another off. Would you like that?’ Harry´s breath caught at the thought.

“Oh god.’ He whispered faintly.

“You keep saying that, but I don´t think you really want God watching us, Harry.’ The Slytherin said, snickering.

Harry rolled his eyes, but he chuckled too. “No, definitely not. So, er. How exactly…?’

“You can blow me first.’ Draco chipped in. “After all, you won´t be able to move after I´m finished with you. I promise you that.’ The last phrase was almost a purr and Harry licked his lips, his pupils dilating.

Harry took a deep breath and reached for Draco´s zipper, pulling it down quickly. Draco shimmied a bit, letting his trousers puddle around his thighs and because he didn´t wear any underwear that was the extent of their preparation. Draco watched Harry who was watching him back, both locked in a stalemate. The Slytherin slid a hand down his body and, with the other boy watching his every move, squeezed his erection. Harry made a helpless sound at the sight of Draco touching himself. Leaning back on his cloak, Draco tilted his head to the side and lowered his eyelids, casting Harry an enticing look. “Please?’

That was all it took.

Harry pounced on Draco, moving in between Draco´s legs and wrapping a hand around the base of the Slytherin´s cock. He closed his lips around the head before sucking hard. Draco bit his bottom lip, closing his eyes and letting the Gryffindor do as he pleased. “Try - oh! Try using your, mmm. Tongue. Oh, yeah. Oh.’ It felt so very good, having a warm, wet mouth around him like that with Harry´s tongue flicking against his very sensitive nerves.

The Gryffindor might not have been very skilled, but his enthusiasm more than made up for it. When Draco opened his eyes, the sight of Harry´s head between his legs as it bobbed back and forth while Draco´s cock disappeared between his lips made him whimper at the absolutely mind blowing image. Even the occasional light, careful graze of teeth tugged him towards orgasm. Soon Draco´s back was arching and he mewled, clenching his hand in Harry´s hair as he came. The other boy, after a moment of hesitation swallowed, but because of it some of the fluid escaped one corner of his mouth. Unable to resist, the Slytherin pulled the other boy towards him and licked at his lips, reveling in the taste of his own come in Harry Potter´s mouth. It was undeniably exciting, getting something other people would kill for, but that wasn´t really why he´d done it in the first place.

It was the tiny surprised sound Harry made when Draco kissed him and the way his hands always seemed to gravitate to Draco´s hair. It was the way he just so damnably brave and sweet. It was because he was simply Harry. Draco pulled the other boy fully onto the cloak and clambered on top of him, still searching out all traces of his come in Harry´s mouth with his tongue.

He fumbled at Harry´s shirt, pulling it over his head and bending down to lick his way down the Gryffindor Seeker´s lightly muscled chest. The flat abdomen with it´s washboard form was his undoing and Draco circled his tongue around Harry´s belly button before tongue fucking it wildly. Then he followed the little trail of hair down towards the waistband of the other boy´s trousers with his mouth, ripping at the button and zipper until it was undone. To his utter irritation, he was forced to pull a pair of boxers down along with the trousers, but eventually he found himself poised between Harry´s thighs with that delicious cock right in front of him.

Smirking like the Slytherin was, he looked up and made eye contact with Harry who was panting helplessly. Keeping his eyes locked with Harry´s he licked at the head of Harry´s cock wetly, making sure every movement of his tongue was visible. The other boy moaned, shifting his hips upward instinctively. Draco smoothed one hipbone with his thumb and licked at the vein on the bottom of Harry´s cock before swallowing it down until his lips were sealed around the base. “Oh, fuck. Oh, holy buggering hell. Oh. My. God.’ Harry babbled above him, his mouth running on while his brain shut off completely.

Draco used everything he´d learned by practicing on himself on Harry, working his mouth over the other boy´s erection and kneading his balls because it seemed to get Harry even more incoherent and hot. When he pulled back and let the head of Harry´s cock move slickly against his wet lips, the Gryffindor threw his head back and groaned. He took Harry´s erection in his mouth once more and sucked hard twice.

It pushed the other boy over the edge and with a wild shout that would have done a howler monkey proud, he jerked his hips several times and flooded Draco´s mouth with come. The Slytherin swallowed neatly before pulling off and observing the flushed, dazed and motionless Gryffindor under him. Suddenly reminded of the fact he hadn´t pulled his pants up, Draco tidied himself up as best he could before turning to Harry once again.

“Alright, Harry?’

“Brain. Melted.’ Was the other boy´s slurred response.

Draco eyed the blissful look on Harry´s face and his glassy, vacant green eyes doubtfully. “Somehow, I don´t think we´ll be flying home.’

After making themselves suitable for public (or as suitable as possible in any case), Draco called the Knight Bus. He let Harry deal with the driver who seemed fairly familiar with the Boy Who Lived and went in search of a soft bed. Draco had no desire to converse with a bus driver, but the Gryffindor seemed happy enough doing it, though to be honest Harry didn´t make much sense with the effects of his recent orgasm still influencing him. Harry´s voice drifted up to Draco and the blonde was amused to note the driver didn´t understand much of what Harry was going on about either.

After a few minutes Harry abandoned the rather disjointed conversation in favor of locating Draco. He found the other boy reclining in a bed on the top story of the double-decker bus and joined him, curling around Draco´s lax body. He pressed a kiss to the corner of Draco´s mouth and laid his head against the Slytherin´s shoulder. The tousled hair tickled Draco´s skin, but he paid it no mind.

“Mmm.’ Harry sighed, tucking his head under Draco´s chin casually. “What exactly are we now?’ The Gryffindor asked quietly, musing out loud.

Draco stroked the back of Harry´s neck, petting the soft skin and wild hair at the nape of his neck. He was startled that Harry was suddenly so affectionate, but no doubt the endorphins racing through his blood stream helped. At any rate, Draco was not one to look at a gift broom´s twigs. “What do you mean?’

“Well. What should I call you? My boyfriend?’ The Slytherin snorted his amusement.

“If you want. Though it sounds a bit ridiculous. Draco Malfoy is Harry Potter´s boyfriend.’ He tried it out, finding that the words fit awkwardly on his tongue. The very idea was ludicrous. It brought to mind images of Draco proffering flowers and chocolates and generally making a fool of himself. “I prefer the term lover, I think.’

“Oh.’ Harry was quiet for a moment. “But we aren´t yet, are we? Lovers. I mean.’ And Draco could practically feel the heat from Harry´s blush as the Gryffindor´s words faltered. “We´ve fooled around, but we haven´t had sex.’

“Sure we have. Oral sex is still sex, isn´t it? We haven´t had intercourse is what you mean. But we will.’ Draco said complacently, still caressing the back of Harry´s neck.

Harry´s voice was choked when he spoke. “If I wasn´t so very, very tired I´d probably take that as an offer, but as it is…’ He shook his head, his cheek rubbing against Draco´s collar bone. “I don´t know how you do that. The things your voice can do to me - it´s so unfair. And you weren´t even trying that time!’

“It´s a gift.’ Draco thought for a moment and smirked. “Well, that and you´re a horny little bugger.’

“Draco!’ The Slytherin was delighted that he could still provoke that scandalized tone from the other boy and he snickered, tangling his legs with Harry´s.

“Oh, don´t give me that. The rest of the world might buy that innocent act, but really. You just had my cock in your mouth. Think about that for a moment.’

Harry did. “Grphmunkle.’

Draco leaned back and looked at Harry incredulously, raising one eyebrow. The other boy seemed to be beyond verbal communication at the moment from the memory. “Right. Just this once I´ll give you the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to sleep deprivation and not to you being a twit again.’

“You always say the sweetest things.’ Harry joked, flashing Draco a lopsided smile.

The Slytherin smirked back. “Don´t I though?’

There was a moment of comfortable silence between them, the gentle puttering of the Knight Bus´ engine a soothing backdrop. Finally, the dark haired boy spoke up. “So, now that we have the time you can tell me how you can speak to snakes. I´m almost dying of curiosity.’

Draco brandished his left hand, displaying the snake ring. “This is how. It gives the wearer the ability to speak Parseltongue. It only works for a true Slytherin, though. It was a Christmas gift from Zabini.’ Harry shifted a bit, his brow furrowed.

“Speaking of which… are you going to tell your Slytherin friends? About us, I mean.’

“Yes. Why wouldn´t I?’

Harry looked concerned. “I just don´t know if that´s a good idea. Crabbe and Goyle… Well, they don´t seem to be the sort who would take it well.’ Draco was amused. Apparently, even the Boy Wonder of the wizarding world couldn´t see through the larger boys´ carefully crafted façade of complete stupidity.

“They may not seem like the sort, but they are. They´ve tolerated our friendship, haven´t they? And they´ve known about my sexual preference for a long time. Personally, I´m more worried about Zabini. The smug git will be telling me ‘I told you so´ for the next three months. And Pansy. Merlin, she´ll be laughing her arse off for years about this.’

“I don´t think I´ll ever understand Slytherins.’ Harry said, shaking his head with looking baffled.

Draco had to laugh. “You´re not supposed to Harry. That´s the point of being a Slytherin.’

“I´ll take your word for it.’ The Gryffindor laid his head back down on Draco´s shoulder once more. Apparently, Harry was one for cuddling. Not that Draco minded. Harry was always so warm, having the Gryffindor curled up against his side wasn´t only enjoyable, it was comfortable too.

“What about you? Are you going to tell Granger and the Weasel? Weasley I mean.’ Draco corrected himself with a roll of the eyes when the other boy shot him a look.

Harry lifted his head again and bit his lip. “I probably should tell Hermione. She´ll figure it out soon enough and she´ll just be angry with me for not telling her when she does. Ron though. I want to wait a bit before I tell him about us. Let him get used to the idea we´re friends first. I mean, yeah. That´s how it´s been for a while, but he thinks you´re just messing with my head. I want Ron to understand the fact you´re not trying to trick me or anything like that before I let him know that we´re more than friends. You´re okay with that aren´t you?’ Harry asked anxiously. “I´m not ashamed of you or anything, you know that right? I´m going to tell him, just not yet is all.’

Draco was pleased that the Gryffindor was making an effort to ensure that Draco was all right with the situation. Evidently, Harry had learned his lesson from his last big mistake and was attempting to forestall any future ones. His concern was not only flattering, it was heartwarming. “That´s fine. I think a bit of discretion is called for at the moment, anyway. Eventually, people will have to know, but for now it´s probably not a good idea to announce it to the world. I can just see the headlines it would make. ‘Harry Poofter - the Boy Who Loves Cock.´ What do you think? Catchy, isn´t it?’

Harry glared. “I think you´re having far too much fun with this.’

Draco leaned in and nuzzled against Harry´s cheek, letting his lips brush Harry´s ear. “You know you love it. Don´t you? You like to be teased.’ He took the opportunity to tease at the lobe of Harry´s ear with his tongue before whispering again. “And taunted. And played with.’ He bit down gently, gratified at the soft noise Harry made when he did so. “Can I play with you, Harry?’

“Sure. Anything… You want. Mmmm.’ Harry´s breathless voice was wavered before turning into a wordless murmur when Draco began making his way down Harry´s jaw with gentle love bites. The Gryffindor turned his head and they kissed slowly, languidly moving their mouths as if they had all the time in the world. It wasn´t rushed and urgent, like their previous kisses had been, but almost lazy with an underlying tenderness Draco hadn´t though himself capable of.

He mapped out the other boy´s mouth, taking careful note of Harry´s reactions to everything he did and caressing the back of one broad shoulder with his free hand. The other was cupping the back of Harry´s head, his fingers tangled in untamed locks of black hair. Draco grew drunk on the rich, slow kisses, letting Harry take the lead and soaking up each caress and every bit of affection lavished on him. It was nice, kissing for the sake of kissing and Draco suddenly realized it was an art in and of itself. One that Harry seemed to have mastered.

Sometimes it seemed as if the two of them were pieces of the same puzzle and the world only made sense when they were together. And the way they fit together so easily seemed to reflect that. The kisses grew shorter and then stopped altogether, though their cheeks stayed pressed together. Draco moved his head slightly, rubbing his cheek against the soft skin of Harry´s and relishing the sensation. His eyelashes fluttered and closed slowly as exhaustion finally got the better of him. With a tiny yawn he burrowed down next to Harry and let himself slip into slumber, feeling safe and precious in a way he had not for a very long time.

Eventually, they arrived at their destination; Hogsmeade, to be precise. Harry shook Draco awake and the groggy Slytherin collected his broom and stumbled off the bus, ignoring the chattering driver in favor of peering blearily about. Harry finally exited the bus with his broom in hand and the knapsack on his back, quickly stepping off to the curb to watch the bus drive off with one last awful spluttering sound. Draco was surprised the thing hadn´t broken down yet.

“Ready, Draco?’

“Yeah.’ The Slytherin mounted his broomstick, but before he kicked off he spoke up. “Dumbledore had better damn well appreciate the fact I risked my life to get that skull! And worst of all, I think I´ve got blisters! I expect Slytherin to be given many, many points for this. And a nice award wouldn´t go amiss either.’ He informed the Gryffindor haughtily.

Harry dropped his gaze and rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, er. About that. You see.’ Then he mumbled something quickly that Draco couldn´t make out. He had his suspicions however.

“What was that?’

Harry squinted at the sky, as if studying a cloud as he spoke. “Dumbledore doesn´t actually know I was going to get the skull. I sort of um. Did it on my own.’

“What?!’ Draco exploded. “We could get expelled for this, Harry! Leaving school grounds without permission can get us into serious trouble! At the very least they could take away our prefect badges! What were you thinking you dense sod?!’

Harry set his jaw and his green eyes flashed behind his glasses as he stared down the other boy. “I had to, Draco! Professor Dumbledore was going to send Sirius to do it and he would have gotten caught, you know he would have. No one even knew that the secret chamber can only opened with Malfoy blood, not to mention Sirius would have had no clue how to get on the Manor grounds in the first place so it´s a bloody good thing we did go, isn´t it?’

The Slytherin sighed. “I guess. Not much we can do about it now, is there?’ Draco had visions of the Headmaster promptly kicking him out of Hogwarts while his precious Harry Potter was lauded for his heroism once again. Being familiar with his own awful luck and the way Dumbledore was so obviously biased towards Gryffindors the Slytherin felt justified in fretting.

Harry leaned over and swiftly brushed Draco´s lips with his own, cupping the blonde´s cheek with one hand. “Don´t worry about it, Draco. I´ll take care of everything.’ He searched Draco´s eyes, attempting to reassure his lover.

“Whatever, Harry.’ Draco grumbled, but his lips curved upwards in the corners just the tiniest bit.

Harry grinned at him and winked before swinging onto his Firebolt and shooting into the air. Draco followed, maneuvering so that he was just a bit ahead of Harry as they flew. The Gryffindor glanced over and increased his pace, making sure the tip of his handle was two inches in front of Draco´s. Seeing this, Draco slowly inched his way back into the lead, relaxing once he´d managed to pass the other boy again.

Harry however, was not to be bested, and immediately increased his Firebolt´s speed. It rapidly degenerated from there until both of them were hurtling through the air, crouched over their broomsticks in an attempt to win the impromptu race. “Is that the best you can do, Harry?’ Draco hollered above the rushing wind and grinning maniacally, Harry shouted back.

“Hardly! Even Hermione can fly faster than you!’

“Ha! Then why am I ahead of you?’

“Don´t worry Draco, you´ll be eating my dust soon enough!’

Draco laughed before yelling his reply. “You wish!’

With their competitive tendencies riled, the two boys raced towards Hogwarts as fast as their broomsticks allowed. It was exhilarating. The air was a bright shade of robin´s egg blue and sun shone merrily as Harry and Draco jostled each other in an attempt to gain the lead. They passed trees at a breakneck speed, turning them into mere streaks of green. Draco, Slytherin that he was, elbowed the other boy and darted ahead, almost howling with laughter at the utterly indignant look on Harry´s face. Draco landed first and hopped of his broomstick with the intention of teasing Harry about his loss once he´d landed.

As soon as the Gryffindor touched down however, the main doors opened and McGonagall, looking even more sour than usual, stepped out. Draco immediately sobered at the stern look she was giving them. “Well, now. I see you two have finally deigned to return. Follow me.’ She said sharply, turning swiftly and stalking down the corridor like a miffed cat. Harry cast Draco a reassuring glance and the two boys hurried to keep up with her, their footsteps ringing on the stone floor. “Never, in all the years I´ve been teaching at Hogwarts, have I had a student more disobedient and foolhardy than you, Mr. Potter. Both you and Mr. Malfoy have quite a bit of explaining to do.’

She led them to the Headmasters office and turned to observe them with pursed lips and a disapproving expression. “Canary Cremes. Go on, now. Professor Dumbledore is expecting you.’ With the password given, the two boys climbed the stairs quickly while the Transfiguration teacher turned and left, intent on her own tasks.

The office was empty when they reached it though and, feeling distinctly uncomfortable, Draco took a seat in one of the two chairs facing the desk. Harry joined him and they shared an uneasy look. “Where is he?’ The Slytherin asked quietly, but before the other boy could respond the Headmaster made his entrance.

“Right here, my dear boy.’ Dumbledore entered the room from a hidden door in the back and sent them an absent minded smile. “Ah, I was wondering when you two would return. You had us all very worried.’ He peered over his half moon glasses, giving the boys a gently chiding look. Harry seemed to shrink several inches at the remonstration, but his jaw still had that stubborn jut to it.

“Well, we´re back and we´re not even scratched. Though Draco claims he has a blister.’ The Gryffindor gave the blonde a grin before turning back to Dumbledore. “Here´s the skull.’ He fished out the bag embroidered with runic symbols and plopped it down on the desk next to a paperweight that kept shifting it´s shape.

“Ah.’ Albus Dumbledore studied the bag in a meditative manner, his eyes no longer twinkling. “You have completed your self-appointed task, I see. But your… carelessness worries me, Harry. You risked your life needlessly. Sirius is perfectly capable of completing his own missions. He was trained as an Auror and is an animagus. You must remember Sirius survived twelve years in Azkaban and managed to escape when no one else has. Your godfather is adept enough to have done a more than adequate job of fetching the skull if you had given him the chance, yet you put yourself in danger in his stead.’

“The only reason we managed to get the skull was because Draco knew the Manor inside and out. And it was his blood that was the key to opening the secret chamber. I´m sorry you don´t approve, but it was something I had to do.’

“I understand that, Harry. But you must not throw yourself into peril quite so often. Or so enthusiastically, may I add.’ The spark of humor lit the Headmaster´s eyes once more. Harry replied, but Draco found himself tuning out of the conversation in favor of examining the raw sores on the palm of his hands from his broomstick and wishing he could simply leave already.

Draco stayed quiet as they conversed, feeling very much out of place. Dumbledore was one of the most powerful wizards of his time and Harry wasn´t far behind. And in Draco´s opinion, Harry was in all probability going to be far more powerful than Dumbledore once he came into his own. Of course, he probably wouldn´t be anywhere near as perceptive as the almost omniscient Headmaster. Harry´s magical abilities were the sort only found in dire times and were more about force than technique. His power was a vital part of the balance of magic and something that normal wizards had no hope of competing with. It had taken Draco a very long time to accept that and let the resentment he felt because of it go. And Harry´s own strength of will only made his magic more potent.

The way Dumbledore seemed to take advantage of that however, made Draco ill at ease. It was why he´d never really liked the old doddering fool, because he didn´t know Dumbledore´s motives and sometimes when he looked into those unreadable twinkling eyes he had the feeling he was being perceived as just another piece on the chessboard of life. Like now, come to think of it.

“And you Mr. Malfoy? What prompted you to accompany Harry on this quest of his?’

Draco shrugged, easily assuming the familiar façade of the arrogant heir, though it was no longer his role in life. “I was getting homesick you know, thought I´d nip back to the Manor and give the hellhounds my regards.’ The Slytherin tilted his head to a rakish angle, met the Headmaster´s gaze, and smirked.

“I see.’

If Dumbledore had more to say, it was lost in the sudden frenzied entrance of Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley. “Harry! What were you thinking?! I was almost mad with worry! Don´t ever do that again.’ Harry stood up just in time to be swept into Sirius´ bear hug and Draco caught a glimpse of the sweet smile that curved his lips before Granger and Weasley swarmed the two, turning the bear hug into some sort of group hug. Sirius Black reached out a hand and tugged Lupin into the love fest and Draco sat in his chair, observing the relieved merriment and friendly affection from a distance.

“Lemon drop?’

“Why not?’ He took the proffered candy, glad to have something to occupy himself with while the Gryffindors had their little group therapy session. After Harry reassured his friends and family that yes, he was fine and no, he hadn´t been hurt and Weasley had done the obligatory ‘why´d you go with that git Malfoy?!´ a few chairs were conjured and the crowd took their seats. However, just when order had been restored, pandemonium broke out again.

“Draco! Oh dear Merlin! Are you okay, are you hurt? Snape sent me over as soon as he heard you were back. I´ve been fretting for hours!’ Pansy rushed in and Draco managed to get himself standing before she tackled him with a hug. “Oh you poor thing, what happened to you? And your hair!’

“I´m fine Pansy, honestly. And what´s wrong with my hair?’

Pansy made a vague gesture towards his head. “It´s horribly messy.’ With a squawk, Draco rushed to stand in front of a conveniently nearby glass cabinet and began attempting to tame his tousled, blonde locks. He knew he was being snickered at, but ignored it in favor of trying to get his wayward locks back into order. Harry might have been able to pull off that just-been-shagged hairstyle, but he was probably the only person who could in Draco´s opinion.

A cleared throat made him direct his attention towards the doorway where Snape was standing with crossed arms and a raised eyebrow. “As amusing as your… antics are, perhaps our time would be better served neutralizing the power of Slytherin´s skull?’ He suggested with a sneer.

“Well said, Severus. Do you have the potion?’

“Of course. I wouldn´t be here otherwise.’

Dumbledore smiled kindly. “If you don´t mind my asking, how were you able to procure the unicorn blood given willingly to a wronged innocent?’

“Peony Parkinson. She agreed to gather the unicorn blood for three hundred points to Slytherin and Hogsmeade passes on demand next year. I escorted her into the Forbidden Forest last night, so I was able to brew the potion this morning when I learned of our missing wanderers.’

The Headmaster looked pleased. “I´m glad the young Miss Parkinson is doing so well. It´s a very Sytherin trait I´ve found; managing to turn even the worst of situations to your advantage. Something we will need in the coming days, I do believe.’ He turned his attention from Snape to Draco and then to the bag on his desk. Weasley, who had been fuming the whole time about the way Harry had left him behind on his most recent adventure in favor of bringing Draco Malfoy along, had quieted at Dumbledore´s words.

“Remus, if you would hand me the large bowl to your left.’ The werewolf did so quickly, picking up what appeared to be a bowl carved out of some sort of ivory. He set it on the desk and Dumbledore carefully set the skull in it, tucking the bag into one of his many desk drawers. “And Severus, if you would do the honors.’

“Of course, Headmaster.’ The Potions Master removed a large bottle from his voluminous robes and removed the stopper. While everyone´s eyes followed the graceful movements of his hands, he tipped the bottle and let the stream of silver liquid fall onto the blackened skull. There was a hissing sounds as the liquid dissolved the skull, almost melting away the scorched bone until there wasn´t anything left in the bowl but a few specks of black and the excess potion.

“And there we have it.’ Dumbledore said, beaming around at everyone. And it was all so anticlimactic Draco couldn´t help but feel cheated. Where were the sparkles, the bright lights, and the funny sounds? But of course, the most powerful magic was the subtle kind and not half so crude or flashy as what Draco had expected.

“Indeed.’ Snape said, speaking up in that smooth, rich voice before he turned his dark eyes towards Draco. The blonde Slytherin winced, aware that he was in for it. “Now, Mr. Malfoy if you would come with me. I believe you have a lecture you need to hear as well as a large batch of stink bugs to ground.’

“Oh? Well, with an offer like that how can I resist?’ Draco said dryly, standing up to move towards the door. Pansy bounced up from her seat and joined him, taking her place at Snape´s side in the doorway. Draco paused halfway there to swing around and face Harry who was watching him leave. “I´ll see you later, right?’

Snape made an impatient noise that both boys ignored. “Right.’ Was all the Gryffindor said in reply, but the warm smile he sent Draco´s way said more than enough.

The sound of clattering cutlery and chatter filled the Great Hall and from his spot at the Slytherin table where he sat with his back to the wall, Draco found the familiar hubbub soothing. He was flanked by Greg and Vince who were talking over his head about their Divination project. He nibbled at his dinner, absorbed in his worries about the upcoming Gryffindor/Slytherin Quidditch match. It had only been two days since he had gone with Harry to retrieve the skull and they hadn´t been able to have any time to themselves between the detentions they had to serve and their homework. Of course, with finals looming closer, there was studying to do to, which only made it that much more difficult for the young couple to get some time alone.

And the fact they´d be competing next week, another blatant reminder of their past rivalry, wasn´t helping matters any either. Of course, despite all that, Draco was content with their relationship. Draco´s flirting had become more blatant and in turn, Harry had taken to staring at Draco during class or meals while his friends looked on and wondered why the Gryffindor looked quite so hungry. Draco loved Harry´s coy little glances and the way he could feel the other boy´s hot gaze tangibly against his skin whenever they were in the same room together for more than five minutes.

Draco smiled to himself at the thought, lost in reverie when a sharp prod to his shoulder brought him back to reality. “What is it, Greg?’

The larger Slytherin nodded towards the other side of the table and Draco turned to look, surprised to see Harry hovering behind Pansy and Blaise. “Um, Hi.’ The dark haired boy made a self conscious little half wave and Draco had to grin.

“Harry? What are you doing over here?’

“Oh. I just wanted to spend some time with you. Could I um. Eat over here tonight?’ Draco promptly turned to Crabbe.

“Scoot over, Vince.’ As the bigger boy inched his way down the bench, aided by the judicious use of his elbows in order to get the other Slytherins to move over, Harry walked around the Slytherin table and strolled over towards the empty seat. The whole school seemed to be watching as Harry took his place at Draco´s side. A plate promptly appeared in front of Harry, the house elves´ doing Draco presumed, and the Gryffindor began to fill it, eyeing the food hungrily.

Draco took a sip of his pumpkin juice and watched with amusement as Harry began to stuff his face. “I see how it is, you´ve cleaned out the Gryffindor table and now you´ve come to steal our food.’ He said teasingly, delighted at the embarrassed expression Harry had.

“Sorry. But I just had Quidditch practice and I´m starving. I really did want to spend some time with you.’ Harry said, smiling a little and looking up at Draco from underneath his long, sooty eyelashes. Then he shoved his fork into his mouth and the moment was over.

“I suppose that´s alright then.’ The Slytherin granted, as if he was a king bestowing a pardon upon one of his subjects. Across from him, Blaise rolled his eyes while Draco ignored him.

From Crabbe´s other side, Millicent Bulstrode spoke up. “What exactly is he doing here, Malfoy? He´s putting me off my food.’ She sneered. Draco promptly narrowed his eyes at her.

“No harm done then, since a missed meal would only benefit you.’ He said, pointedly looking at her rather wide waistline.

Millicent promptly whacked Crabbe in the side. “Are you going to let him talk to me like that?’

The large Slytherin immediately assumed a dull, vacant expression. “Uh. Like what?’ He grunted and, just as he´d hoped, Bulstrode gave it up as a lost cause.

“Listen, you scrawny little-’

“I would be careful of what I said if I were you, Millie darling.’ Pansy purred, her voice so sweet Draco immediately knew Bulstrode had wandered into dangerous territory. That sugary tone of voice may as well have been warning sirens.

“All I´m saying is that Draco´s been spending a lot of time with the Boy Who Wouldn´t Die lately. First he gets himself disowned and now he´s palling around with Potter and stealing the Dark Lord´s artifacts? It´s just a little strange to me, is all.’

Harry had stopped eating and was looking distinctly uncomfortable at the politics going on around him. Draco let his knee sprawl outwards and nudged Harry´s leg with it reassuringly as he spoke up in a cold tone. “Do you know what strikes me as odd Bulstrode? The fact that you know I stole an artifact from the Dark Lord. Dumbledore certainly isn´t advertising the fact, so I´m wondering just which Death Eater you slept with to get that information.’

“How dare you insinuate that I would do such a thing!’

Draco paid her no mind. “Was it Avery? No, he likes them young, doesn´t he? So, I´m thinking… Macnair? I´ve heard rumors he has a fondness for large women. Shame on you, Bulstrode. And I believe this does negate the betrothal contract you have with Vince. Your parents won´t be very happy with you, I´m afraid.’

Millicent was almost snarling. “You don´t have any proof, ferret!’

“I don´t need proof. The contract is null and void if there are even suspicions that you´ve been indiscrete. One´s reputation is vital, haven´t you learned that? Sometimes being accused of a thing is as bad as actually having it pinned on you. Pansy, you´ll owl Vince´s parents won´t you? We can find him a nice girl who doesn´t sleep around with murderers behind his back.’ Draco raised his eyebrows as Millicent Bulstrode swore at him and took another bite of his meal with studied unconcern. The other Slytherins were observing the exchange and snickering behind their hands at Bulstrode.

The large Slytherin girl stood and stormed out of the Great Hall with a hostile expression on her plain face. But Draco knew she wouldn´t foolishly attempt to get her revenge, not while A.S.H. was still the major Slytherin power in Hogwarts. Vince merely scooted over a bit to give Harry some more elbow room with the same mild expression he always wore. “Pass the greens, Potter.’ He grunted and Harry did so automatically.

“I´m sorry. I didn´t mean to start trouble.’ The Gryffindor said, his pretty green eyes shining with concern. He raked a hand through his messy hair and generally looked as if he wished he could sink through the floor.

“Don´t worry about it, love.’ Draco said in a low voice. “It was probably going to happen sooner or later, better to just get it over with. I am sorry you had to witness that, though.’ He said soothingly, laying a hand on Harry´s shoulder.

“Aww.’ Pansy cooed. “Aren´t you two just the cutest!’

“Shove it, Parkinson.’ Draco said, not even bothering to look over at her.

“Love you too, Draco.’

Harry snickered and Draco kicked him lightly. The Gryffindor responded by stepping on his foot. The Slytherin hooked his foot around Harry´s and slid it upwards just a bit, nudging Harry´s ankle while his right hand dropped onto the dark haired boy´s thigh and squeezed lightly. Harry almost knocked over his goblet in surprise, but managed to catch it at the last second.

Blaise raised one eyebrow at his clumsiness. “Well, all I have to say if you keep that up Draco´s going to catch the snitch right out of your hands. Feeling a bit more ham-fisted than usual, Potter?’

As if on cue, Draco dragged his hand up Harry´s thigh and rubbed his crotch lightly, smiling into the goblet he was sipping from in his left hand when the other boy yelped in shock. “Yes! I mean, no. I mean, I´m feeling perfectly fine… just a bit. Um.’

“Ham-fisted and incoherent?’ Draco suggested slyly, pressing more firmly against Harry´s erection through his school robes.

“Off balance.’ Harry grit out between his teeth, sending Draco a warning glare the Slytherin blithely ignored in favor of massaging the firm flesh underneath his hand.

The blonde boy assumed his best innocent expression. “You poor thing. Dinner´s almost over anyway. Would you care for a game of chess? I´ve heard it´s very relaxing.’ Draco punctuated his words with a squeeze. Harry bit his lip for a moment, his eyelashes fluttering shut for a split second.

“Sure. Great.’ He said faintly, a pretty flush coloring his cheeks.

Draco removed his hand, earning himself a dirty look from Harry. He finished up his pumpkin juice, dabbed at his mouth with his napkin, and pushed his plate back. “Good. We´ll just be going then.’

Harry blushed fiercely and stood up, shaking out his robes so the telltale bulge didn´t show. “Right then. Er. Lovely meeting you all.’ He grabbed Draco by the elbow and ushered him out of the Great Hall so quickly Draco didn´t even have time for goodbyes though he did catch the way Pansy was laughing hysterically before the doors of the Great Hall shut with a bang.

The trip to Draco´s room was a blur of lustful looks and rushed impatience. As soon as they reached their destination, Harry tossed his glasses away before turning to Draco with a hungry expression on his handsome face. He tugged Draco inside and captured the Slytherin´s mouth eagerly with his own as the stone wall closed itself behind them with a low grinding sound neither boy paid the least bit of attention to. Draco let himself be pressed up against the wall by Harry´s sturdier frame, relishing the way the other boy´s body fit so well against his. Harry was kissing him so possessively, thrusting his tongue inside Draco´s mouth and claiming it as his own, that the Slytherin could only submit, moaning into Harry´s mouth.

They almost ripped their robes off, their fingers clumsy with desire. Still kissing as if their very lives depended on it, Draco walked Harry backwards until his knees hit the couch and then pushed him down onto it. With a wicked smirk he straddled the Gryffindor and leaned in to press open fervent kisses and love bites to the side of his neck. Harry, his hands tangled in the fine, golden strands of Draco´s hair, threw his head back and bucked his hips up. “Mmmm, like that do you?’ Draco murmured throatily against the damp skin of Harry´s throat.

“Yes, you bastard. I can´t believe you did that to…’ Draco lapped at Harry´s pulse point and the Gryffindor lost his train of thought for a moment. “Oh, fuck…’ And then he determinedly caught it again. “…me.’

“Fuck you? Would you like that, Harry?’

The dark haired boy moaned, his hips raising again reflexively. “Oh, god.’ He gasped, before finally gathering the shreds of his composure. “That´s not what I meant and you know it. You were feeling me up under the table.’

Draco couldn´t but snicker. “One of my better ideas, I do admit.’ He licked a slow, sensuous line up Harry´s throat before nuzzling it affectionately.

“I don´t suppose you have any other ideas?’ Harry asked breathlessly, those sultry bedroom eyes of his capturing Draco´s complete attention. The dark green color was enthralling and his sinfully long eyelashes only emphasized its effects.

The Slytherin nibbled on Harry´s ear thoughtfully for a moment. “Well, why don´t you get undressed? I want a get a nice, long look at you. Want to touch every inch of your skin and make it mine. Or maybe just lick every inch of it.’ He said impishly, sitting back to observe.

“Oh.’ Harry said, swallowing heavily. “Okay.’

His fingers fumbled a bit as he undressed and Draco, unable to just sit by, helped him out of his shirt and trousers. Harry kicked off his shoes and toed off his socks, leaving him in just his boxers. Draco couldn´t help but run his hands over the other boy´s lightly muscled chest, relishing the feel of his warm, smooth skin. Harry, who blushing a bit, looked delightfully bashful as he eased off his boxers and Draco found himself rubbing his own erection through his trousers at the sight.

“Um. I´m feeling a little silly here, being the only naked person in the room and all.’ Harry said, lounging awkwardly on the couch. Draco laughed giddily and began disrobing while the Gryffindor looked on. He did a little strip tease, tugging his belt out slowly, moving his hips smoothly in time to the tugs while Harry watched and licked his lips. The shirt was unbuttoned slowly and shrugged from his shoulders in one liquid, sensual movement. By that time, ever the impatient Gryffindor, Harry had decided to assist and together they managed to deposit the rest of Draco´s clothing in an untidy pile on the floor.

When he was finally undressed, Draco crawled up Harry´s body slowly, smirking mischievously all the while. The Gryffindor ran his hands down the blonde´s sides before cupping his arse and pulling him closer. All that bare skin felt wonderful and the Slytherin rubbed himself languidly against Harry who looked utterly blown away at the sensation. Draco leaned in for a kiss, sighing in satisfaction as their lips met and their tongues tangled.

Draco broke off the kiss in favor of investigating the hidden secrets of Harry´s body, plying lips and tongue down Harry´s neck and collarbone, licking at tiny depression in his throat, swirling his tongue over Harry´s nipples and then blowing cool air over them just to see him shiver. The blonde took the liberty of satisfying his curiosity. He tasted the skin on Harry´s wrist, rubbed his cheek against the other boy´s hip bone, smoothed Harry´s inner thighs with his fingertips, licked at the tiny little trail of hair leading downwards from Harry´s lower abdomen, felt the silky flesh of that patch of skin behind Harry´s balls, and inhaled the heady scent of the other boy´s arousal. Through it all, Harry squirmed under his attentions, but didn´t distract the Slytherin from his thorough exploration. Each sigh, each tiny little involuntary noise of pleasure, was a revelation and Draco treasured every one.

Finished playing for the moment, he took pity on the almost writhing Gryffindor and nuzzled his cock before placing wet, open mouthed kisses along his erection. Harry groaned, deep in his chest, and the sound was so hot Draco rewarded him by guiding the other boy´s cock into his mouth and swirling his tongue around the head. Harry buried his fingers in Draco´s silky hair, but, being a gentleman, was careful not to tug on it.

Of course, all this time Draco´s poor cock had been neglected. And though the Slytherin was a bit too busy reveling in the taste of Harry´s precum to pay it much mind Harry was considerate enough to notice his predicament. After some awkward maneuvering and a bout of the giggles, the two boys managed to arrange themselves in a decent sixty-nine position.

Sprawled over the couch in a tangle of bare limbs, they sucked each other´s cock with abandon, hands roving over damp, sweaty skin and their moans reverberating around each other´s flesh. Draco lost himself in the feeling of giving and getting pleasure while Harry echoed the movements of his mouth on Draco´s own erection. The combined scents of their arousal, not to mention the taste of Harry, was intoxicating. He became lost in the sensations and his own orgasm caught him by surprise, his hips jerking up as he sheathed himself in Harry´s warm, wet mouth. Trembling, his eyes shut tightly against the pleasure washing through him, Draco came with astonishing force.

Harry swallowed and gently pulled off, wary of overestimating Draco´s sensitive flesh. Still a bit muddled, Draco single mindedly returned to his task and deep throated Harry´s cock, his hands gently massaging the other boy´s balls. The Gryffindor moaned at the sensation, his thighs spreading involuntarily as Draco worked him over. The sounds he made were charming, a tiny little ‘ah´ here or a breathless ‘mmm´ there, not to mention the wailing ‘oh god´ that escaped every so often. Harry finally climaxed with a stifled shout and emptied himself into the Slytherin´s mouth. Draco swallowed happily enough and rested his tousled, tawny head against Harry´s thigh while they both attempted to catch their breath.

Draco pressed a kiss to the skin near his mouth and was startled when Harry clumsily sat up and arranged himself so his head was on Draco´s stomach and his arms around the Slytherin´s waist. The blonde raked his fingers through Harry´s thick, glossy black hair and was amused to note he looked not unlike a hedgehog with his locks spiking up in almost every direction. Draco then stroked Harry´s swollen lips with a fingertip, pleased at the rich red color as well as the fact it was his doing. The Gryffindor dragged himself up Draco´s body for a quick kiss, a soft meeting of lips followed by a brief touch of tongues, before plopping back down with his head on Draco´s stomach again.

Draco tangled their legs and stretched out a bit, letting the comfortable silence simmer between them. The blonde drifted off, content to bask in the shared body warmth and sweet afterglow, his mouth hanging open just a bit as his eyelids fluttered shut. He slept for a while, sinking into the depths of sleep while Harry did the same. It was peaceful and serene, something both boys were more than happy to experience at the moment.

However, even the most perfect of moments has to end eventually. The sound of grinding stones jolted Draco awake and he sat up, dumping Harry into a disgruntled, sleepy pile of naked boy on the floor. “What was tha´ for?’ The Gryffindor asked, his eyes dark and drowsy.

“Someone´s coming!’ Draco snapped. “Get behind the couch, quick. It´s probably Pansy, the nosy bint. Hurry!’ Harry scrambled for his clothes and ducked behind the couch, sitting on his haunches and hunkering down uncomfortably. Draco snatched up his robe and laid it on his lap just in time as the intruder stepped inside.

“Professor Snape?’ Draco all but squawked, suddenly flustered.

“Draco. Who else did you expect?“

“Pansy, actually.’

The professor looked down his hooked nose disapprovingly at the Slytherin. “Are you in the habit of greeting Miss Parkinson in the nude, Mr. Malfoy?’

“No!’ Draco said hurriedly. “Not at all. She just, uh. Tends to have bad timing. That´s all.’

“Speaking of which… is there a reason for your current state of dishabille?’

The Slytherin was, for once, at a loss for words. But he was undoubtedly handling it better than Harry was. A whimper drifted out from behind the couch. “Uh. Well, I. Um. Was changing.’ He finally lied, lamely.

“I see.’ The Potions Master mused, one eyebrow raised. “That does not, however, explain the bit of something you have on your mouth.’

Mortified, Draco promptly wiped the corners of his mouth and turned a bright shade of pink. “It er. Must be from dinner. I´m such a messy eater you know.’ He offered half heartedly, failing to meet the older man´s eyes. Harry´s snort of laughter wasn´t helping matters any either. Finally, Draco grew tired of the charade. He just wanted Snape to get the hell out of his rooms, preferably right that instant. “Is there anything I can help you with, Professor?’ A strangled sound from behind the couch made him blush more fiercely and he amended his words hastily. “And I mean that in a completely platonic way.’ Fidgeting, he adjusted the robe in his lap to cover a bit more skin.

Snape looked amused. “I just wanted to remind you that tonight you will be helping me brew Lupin´s wolfsbane potion. I can see that you´re busy, so I´ll make myself scarce.’ Draco heaved a sigh of relief. However, the Potions Master wasn´t quite done yet. When he was almost out the door, Snape paused and tossed his last parting phrase over his shoulder. “After all we wouldn´t want Mr. Potter to get a cramp hiding behind the couch, now would we?’ Then he swept of in his trademark swirl of robes, leaving Draco to gape wordlessly at him. The stones rearranged themselves as Draco stared blankly at the wall in utter horror.

Harry popped his head up from behind the back of the couch, his eyes wide and his hair even more wild than usual. “Bugger.’ He swore softly, obviously shocked.

“My words exactly.’ Draco chimed in.

“How do you think he knew?’ Harry asked uneasily, joining the Slytherin on the couch.

Draco considered that for a moment, turning the thought over in his mind and examining it from all angles. “Well, you wouldn´t be quiet, for one and he did see us leave the Great Hall together. Doesn´t take much to come to the correct conclusion.’

“I don´t think I´m ever going to be able to look him in the face again, Draco. That was so embarrassing!’ The Gryffindor exclaimed, running his hands through his hair nervously.

Draco smirked. “It could have been worse.’

“How´s that?’ Harry asked skeptically.

“He could have arrived fifteen minutes earlier. Or he might have wanted in on the action.’ The Slytherin said, wiggling his eyebrows in a suggestive manner. Laughing, Draco ducked the pillow Harry attempted to swat him on the head with and tried to lunge off the couch and out of the other boy´s range. Harry caught him around the waist though and tugged him back, tickling Draco mercilessly.

“Stop it, you wanker!’ Draco panted between breathless bouts of helpless laughter. Harry kept tickling his ribs, pinning Draco´s body beneath his own as they wrestled playfully.

The Gryffindor was grinning from ear to ear. “Say the magic word, Draco.’

“Fuck you!’

“Nope, sorry.’ And then he was tickling Draco sides and the Slytherin was forced to squirm under him, laughing despite himself. His chest was heaving and his face was pink with exertion.


“You´re not very good at this game are you?’ By this time, Draco was curled up in an attempt to escape Harry´s clever fingers.

Draco finally gasped out his last resort. “Please!’

To his surprise, the fingers stilled against his side. “There, that wasn´t so hard, was it?’

Draco propped his head up on the arm of the couch and glared at his lover sullenly. The Slytherin´s lower lip had pushed itself out in a pout, but he stoically ignored it in favor of trying to make Harry burst into flames with his glower. “I am not amused.’

Harry´s lips twitched, but he managed to keep the smile off his face. “Really?’ He asked, propping his chin up on Draco´s chest and cuddling him. “Not even a little bit?’ And then the dark haired boy had the nerve to bat his eyelashes at Draco.

And, just like the Gryffindor meant him to, Draco burst into laughter. “Fine, fine. A little bit, but that´s all you´re getting out of me.’

Harry answered him with a playful kiss, nipping at his lips and then soothing them with a few licks. Draco parted his lips in invitation, but instead of taking him up on the offer Harry dipped his head and laved at his nipples. The Slytherin cupped the back of the other boy´s head while Harry alternated between his nipples, leaving them glistening with moisture and rosy from his attentions. Draco lifted his hips, pressing his burgeoning erection against Harry´s stomach and rubbing against him so the friction of it sent tingles up his spine.

Just when it was starting to get really good, a knock sounded on the entrance and Draco threw his head back, groaning with annoyance. “Fuck off!’ He shouted at the door short temperedly.

There was a muffled response from the other side, but the stone wall rendered it effectively impossible to understand. With a heavy sigh, Draco banged his head against the couch arm a few times before sliding out from under an equally annoyed Harry. The Slytherin located his school robes and pulled them over his head, uncaring that he was naked underneath the flimsy fabric. Once again, Harry grabbed up his things and ducked behind the couch.

Draco walked up to the entrance and it obligingly opened for him. He was startled to see Granger standing in front of him with crossed arms and an irritated expression. “Can I help you with something or is the whole school taking turns knocking at my door?’ Draco snapped.

And then things went from bad to worse. Before she could reply, footsteps echoed in the passageway and a familiar, loathed voice called out as it´s owner rounded the corner. “The other dead end was a dud. Did you find-? There you are Malfoy. Where´s Harry?’ The redhead demanded, his eyes narrowed with dislike.

“He´ll be out in a moment.’ Draco said smoothly, stepping back so the wall slid shut in the two Gryffindor´s faces. He dashed over to Harry who had managed to struggle into his clothes and was attempting to make himself look as if he hadn´t been getting off with Draco for the past two hours. Draco dug his wand out of his robe pocket and cast a handy spell to get rid of the wrinkles in Harry´s clothes.

“Do I look okay?’ Harry asked anxiously, trying to tame his disheveled mop of hair.

Draco studied him critically. “Passable. Just tell Weasley we went out flying for a bit on my Quicksilver.’

“It´s a good thing one of us knows what we´re doing.’ Harry said, smiling in a relieved manner. He stepped forward and kissed Draco deeply, cupping the Slytherin´s pointy face in his hands while he ravished his mouth. Then Harry stepped back and grinned lopsidedly. “Ready. Here goes nothing.’

Still a bit out of sorts from the kiss, Draco shook his head to clear it and lead the way towards the entrance. “Right.’ The stones rearranged themselves again, halting Granger and Weasley in mid-argument.

“Hi guys.’ Harry said, smiling nervously. “Sorry, we lost track of the time.’

Granger cast Draco a sharp, suspicious glance and the Slytherin smiled mildly back at her. She knew they were involved, but apparently Harry hadn´t deigned to give her any details. Not that Draco cared one way or the other. “I guess I´ll talk to you later, Harry.’ He said, flashing the dark haired boy a soft smile.

Harry beamed at him. “Yeah, you can count on it.’

The trio began to make their exit, strolling slowly off while they bickered good naturedly. “You´re way behind on your homework, Harry. And we have a Transfiguration test tomorrow!’

“Hermione, give it a rest. And why was that git barefoot?’

Harry´s eyes widened for a moment. “You know what, Ron? Draco took me flying on his Quicksilver!’ And that effectively distracted the Weasel from asking any uncomfortable questions. Granger paused for a moment to turn back and look at Draco who was still lounging in the doorway watching Harry´s departure. The Slytherin gave her a little jaunty wave, amused at the way she was still trying to puzzle him out.

They trooped around the corner loudly, Granger berating both her friends for neglecting their school work while Ron, whose distaste for Draco obviously did not extend to his broomstick, was questioning Harry closely on how the flight had gone. Harry was answering as best he could and Draco watched fondly as the messy haired boy made his way out of sight.

Draco stepped back inside his room and unsurprisingly, his only thought was that he couldn´t wait to see Harry again.

Draco´s grasp on his broomstick was so tight his knuckles had turned white and from the way Crabbe and Goyle kept shooting him concerned glances he wouldn´t have been surprised if he face was pale too. Standing in the middle of the Quidditch pitch across from the youngest Seeker in a century who also happened to be his lover, Draco was more than a bit nervous. Between studying for finals and the usual things, they´d only managed to sneak a few kisses over the last week. And through it all the upcoming Gryffindor/Slytherin match had loomed over them.

But it had finally come and Draco was determined that this time he´d actually catch the damned snitch before Harry. Just this once, he wanted to be the one celebrating at the end of the match. Harry, in his bright red Quidditch uniform, looked sinfully handsome and Draco found his eyes being drawn to the Gryffindor´s broad shoulders and bright smile against his will as Hooch droned on about fair play. He forcefully yanked his attention away from the other boy and mentally scolded himself. That was exactly the sort of thing he couldn´t do during the match. Distraction would keep him from finding - and catching - the snitch and he couldn´t afford it.

Then the whistle was blown and Draco kicked off into the air, circling around to hover at a high point in the middle of the pitch. Thomas began the usual spiel, outlining how the Gryffindor chasers had possession of the quaffle. Draco kept a sharp eye out on the pitch, searching for any hint of gold among the darting Quidditch players. There were a few false alarms, but it wasn´t anything Draco didn´t expect with the other team wearing gold and it certainly wasn´t anything a second look didn´t help with.

He circled the pitch slowly, his eyes raking the pitch. Two thirds of the crowd were decked out in Gryffindor colors and whenever he flew near them boos and hisses filled the air. Draco didn´t really mind it though, that was part of Quidditch and to be fair the Slytherins and the Ravenclaws supporting them hurled more abuse at the opposing team than the Gryffindor supporters could ever hope to.

What Draco found most amusing of all was the small knot of Hufflepuff third year girls decked out in silver and green, mooning over him while the rest of their house wore disgruntled expressions at the girls who had defected. Harry too had his share of silly fans, though the Slytherin girls wearing gold and red in his honor were received with a great deal of outright hostility from the rest of the Slytherins. Not that Draco could really blame the girls - Harry looked mouthwatering in those tight Quidditch pants of his.

And he wasn´t supposed to be checking out the competition, damn it! Draco, for the second time that afternoon, forced himself to concentrate on the snitch instead of Harry´s charms. Get a grip, Malfoy. He told himself sternly, still searching for that telltale glimpse of gold. From out of the corner of his eye he saw a streak of brown and turned just in time to see Harry execute a perfect roll to duck the bludger Greg had walloped at his head. Draco quickly darted past a Gryffindor chaser to hover near Greg´s side.

“What the fuck do you think you´re doing?!’ He shouted angrily. “You could have knocked his bloody head off!’

“Relax, Draco. You can´t let the way you feel about him affect the game. I´m playing the same way I always have.’ There was nothing he could say to that. Fuming, Draco swerved away and dropped into a quick dive to let off some steam. Harry gave him a quick glance, but didn´t attempt to follow him in the dive, obviously aware of the fact the Slytherin Seeker hadn´t spotted the snitch yet. The game went on and Slytherin scored a goal, though they were slightly behind the Gryffindor team. Draco pulled up out of his dive and headed for the Ravenclaw stands where he hovered for a moment while searching for the Golden snitch. The damn thing seemed determined to hide, but Draco was as equally determined to find it.

Unfortunately for him, Harry spotted it first. In a flurry of crimson robes, the Boy Who Lived set off and Draco darted after him. His broom was faster, but Harry had a head start and was the superior flyer. They pulled even with each other and Draco, his jaw set, jostled Harry slightly. The Gryffindor bumped him back and the two boys flew side by side as they followed the fluttering snitch. It swerved downwards and the Seekers followed it fearlessly, almost colliding into a Gryffindor chaser in the process. The players near them scattered and Draco rolled out of the way of an incoming bludger, swerving upwards in order to catch sight of the snitch again. He saw it fluttering near Weasley, the Gryffindor Keeper, and leaned forward, urging his Quicksilver to zoom towards the snitch.

The little winged golden ball darted off with Draco on its tail and soon Harry had joined the chase. The two Seekers veered to the right, dodging the other Quidditch players and maneuvering through the crowd with a skillful expertise that the crowd was delighted with. With his heart pounding in his ears and electricity crackling through his veins, Draco hunched down on his Quicksilver to decrease the wind resistance and followed the glittering gold ball relentlessly. Harry was flying at his side, both of their robes flapping in the wind as they turned and twisted through the air.

Soon they escaped the knot of Quidditch players and were soaring in a less populated part of the pitch. The gap between their brooms and the snitch was decreasing rapidly and Draco was grateful for his gloves. His hands were seating so much Draco suspected that without them his grip on his broomstick would have faltered. Draco´s rapid heartbeat was thumping so loudly in his chest it was a wonder Harry couldn´t hear it. It was a wonder Dean Thomas couldn´t hear it. Swallowing nervously, Draco turned tightly as the snitch changed direction capriciously, leaving both Seekers to scramble after it.

At the moment Slytherin and Gryffindor were closely tied, though the Slytherins were in the lead by just a few points. The outcome of the game depended on the Seekers and Draco felt the pressure acutely as he rocketed through the air after that damnable snitch. Their shoulders bumping, the Seekers increased their speed as the snitch zoomed downwards. They were both so close it was nerve wracking. Draco leaned forward, his bare fingers hovering only an inch or two from the snitch. Harry, on his old Firebolt, was several inches behind him, but still too close for comfort and he too was reaching out in hopes of grasping the golden winged ball.

The snitch did a sudden loop, landing smack dab in the middle of Harry´s palm as if the boy had waved his wand and accio-ed it there. Draco furiously pulled on his broomstick, executing a perfect swimmers turn, and headed towards the other side of the pitch without further delay. The crowd was roaring its approval, red and golden flags waving all over the stands. Harry raised his arm triumphantly, showing off the snitch that was beating its wings rapidly to no avail as he trapped it in his grip.

Draco landed, his jaw clenched and his lips compressed into a thin line. With his broom securely in his grip, he pushed his way through the crowd. Crabbe´s big hand landed heavily on his shoulder and the bigger boy sent him a sympathetic smile. “You tried your best, Draco. We´ll get ‘em next year, yeah?’

“Sure.’ Draco said bleakly, too busy railing mentally at his bad luck to spare any passion for his response. He had been so close he had felt the wings of the snitch brush his hand and then - ! It wasn´t fair! He´d been practicing like crazy all year for hours at a time and if the looks Pucey was sending him were anything to go by he´d be getting a nice talking to about his failure later. Draco even had the better broom, but it seemed like Harry was charmed; he always got what he wanted while Draco simply got whatever was left.

Feeling his surging anger spiraling into a dangerous temper, he balled his hands into fists when the Weasel headed towards him. “Even a Quicksilver can´t help you catch the snitch, eh Malfoy? I guess now you have to admit that Harry really is the better Seeker.’

“Fuck off, Weasel.’ Draco snarled, narrowing his eyes at the red head.

Harry arrived just in time to hear his last words. “Draco!’

“What?’ He snapped tersely as Harry appeared, the snitch still fluttering in his hand. Draco felt as if he´d been slapped in the face. It was one thing to savor victory and another to rub it in the loser´s face after you´d already trampled the competition into the ground. To be truthful, a year ago Draco would have done the same, but things were different now and the Slytherin sure as hell had expected better from a righteous Gryffindor. Especially one he was involved romantically with.

Harry looked sheepishly at the snitch and shoved it in his pocket quickly, out of sight. “Sorry, I didn´t realize I still had it. But you shouldn´t talk to Ron like that.’

Draco gaped momentarily while the Weasel looked smugly on. Then he scowled. “Did you hear what he said to me? I won´t take that kind of shit from anyone Potter, not even for you.’

Harry´s brow furrowed and he turned to his best friend questioningly. “Ron?’

“What? I was just telling him he´d never measure up to you. I mean, the git had a Quicksilver and he still couldn´t catch the snitch. How bloody pathetic can you get?’

“Shut up, Ron. Draco played a good game. Can´t you two ever just be civil? Argh!’ Harry exclaimed, waving his arms wildly to punctuate his words.

Ron rolled his eyes. “We won, Harry. It´s traditional to gloat a bit.’

“Well, I´ll just leave you two to your celebrations then.’ Draco said bitterly, whirling around and stalking off as quickly as humanly possible.

“Draco! Draco! Oh for crying out loud.’ Harry ran after him and turned him around by his shoulder. “Don´t be angry with me. Please, Draco. It´s just a stupid game.’

“Well, of course you can say that. You won, Potter!’ Draco shouted in frustration, throwing one hand out to gesture to the nearby Gryffindors who were hollering victoriously at the top of their lungs.

“Harry! It´s Harry. Not Potter.’

Draco deflated, feeling suddenly weary. “Look, Harry. I´m not in the best of moods. It´s nothing personal, I just need some time to get over it and then I´ll be fine. I´m just not a very gracious loser. I´m sure you know that by now.’ He said wryly, brushing a stray lock of hair out of his sweaty face. “I´ll be perfectly courteous once I have some time to brood about it and curse your unbelievably good luck. Okay? ’

“Okay.’ Harry agreed reluctantly. “So, I´ll talk to you later then?’ The Gryffindor asked, an anxious undertone to his words.

Draco offered him a half hearted smile. “If you want.’

The Slytherin Seeker stalked off the pitch, his green robes billowing around him in a manner reminiscent of Snape as Harry looked on wistfully.

Draco made his way to the prefect´s bathroom, his broom in hand and a scowl firmly etched on his face. He wasn´t really angry with Harry, he was angry with himself. For losing, for being upset about loosing, and for letting the Weasel get the better of him with his stupid jibes. He just - for once he had wanted to win. Was that really so much to ask?

The Slytherin brooded to himself as he undressed and turned on the taps, slipping into the tub with a thoughtful expression. He tried to figure out just why he was so upset and so he sorted through his thoughts carefully, the way one would sort through objects in an attic, poking tentatively at some things and dragging others out for examination. Draco mulled it over and, right when he was working his mint scented shampoo into his hair, he finally realized what had been troubling him. For as long as Draco could remember, Lucius had held him up to very high standards and if Draco failed to meet those standards he was considered unworthy or at the very least flawed. And the highest of those standards, the most important one, was that he beat the Boy Who Lived at Quidditch. Not that he´d ever met those standards, but Lucius had held him to them, nonetheless.

And he´d wanted to beat Harry to the snitch this year, not just for the Quidditch Cup which would have been wonderful to have, but because he wanted to rub it Lucius´ face. Draco had wanted to be able to prove himself. To make the older Malfoy see his worth and to live up to Lucius´ standards even if he no longer needed to. Draco had wanted to play by his father´s rules and still win. It was ridiculous and childish, but there it was. And yet this time, like all the others, he still hadn´t caught the snitch.

Draco ducked his head underwater and scrubbed at his hair briefly before surfacing again. He reached for his condition and poured some into his hand absentmindedly. All right, then. So he´d wanted to thumb his nose at Lucius and in essence prove to him that he´d made a mistake and that Draco´s sexual preferences didn´t make him less eligible to be the Malfoy heir. Of course, it was silly to think that after six years he´d beat Harry at Quidditch when he never had before. But it wasn´t a lack of skill or talent on Draco´s part.

Harry was simply that good.

And that made all the difference, Draco was discovering. He´d lost, yes. But he´d lost to a worthy opponent. The Slytherin mulled on it for a moment, before deciding that he was better off just letting his anger go and being proud of the fact he´d flown well. After all, it wasn´t Harry´s fault Draco had put too much importance on the game and in all honesty it had been fun to fly against the Gryffindor again.

Feeling a bit calmer and rather pensive, Draco rinsed his hair one last time and after washing his body he exited the bath. Instead of putting on an extra change of clothes he merely dried himself off, appropriated another prefect´s robe, and gathered up his uniform and broom before leaving. The trip to his quarters was a rather chilly one, since Draco was barefoot and the silk robe he´d nicked was rather thin. Eventually however, he reached his destination and after locating his wand he made sure the fire was roaring in the hearth.

He promptly dumped his clothes on the floor and carefully set his broomstick in it´s usual position near his desk. Then Draco turned his mind back to Harry as he wandered aimlessly around before settling on his couch. The Gryffindor Seeker truly was gifted when it came to Quidditch. He was the youngest Seeker in a century for a reason, after all. And sometimes… sometimes when Draco was really distracted during a game or Harry had managed to pull of a particularly stunning move, he couldn´t help but just sit back and admire his sheer skill. Draco had realized the first time he saw Harry take flight that he was an instinctive flyer. And apart from the intense envy he felt for Harry´s incredible abilities, Draco was perversely proud of the fact that he was the only one who gave the Gryffindor a real challenge.

And Harry - well, Draco couldn´t be angry for long with thoughts of Harry swirling through his head. They really had played a good game, soaring through the air and pulling off maneuvers that would have had lesser players catapulting off their brooms. At the time, Draco had been too wrapped up in catching the snitch to notice, but he´d felt alive, every inch of him.

Their flight had been so exhilarating and Harry, who had been so intensely focused and determined, had been so attractive it was a wonder Draco had been able to take his eyes off the other boy to search for the snitch at all. Now that the adrenaline was wearing off and the images of Harry on his broom looking utterly delicious had started to sink in, Draco was feeling… well, to put it bluntly horny. He certainly wasn´t angry any more, that was for sure.

Smiling slightly to himself, Draco rose and padded into his bedroom. Draco glanced around thoughtfully and shut the door, locking it against well meaning intruders like Pansy with a complex charm. He shed his robe like snakeskin and slid onto the bed, sprawling out luxuriously on the silk sheets and reveling in their cool smoothness. He was already aroused and had been since the beginning of the game. At the age of sixteen he was always getting hard during Quidditch matches so it was nothing new. In fact, the first time he´d been truly aroused he´d been flying against Harry in a match. His first wet dream had starred Harry too, come to think of it.

He was starting to sense a pattern here.

Draco laughed quietly to himself, stretching out and running a hand down his chest in an unmistakable caress. He circled a nipple thoughtfully, his mind wandering for the moment. Had he really been attracted to Harry for so long? Draco had always believed Terrence Higgs had been his first crush, but on reflection that title might have been reserved for Harry Potter. Really, Draco could be as dense as Harry in his own way sometimes. Now Pansy´s digs over the years about pulling pig tails were starting to make sense. But really, he couldn´t blame her.

With a sigh, Draco plucked at one nipple and let his other hand wander down to tease at the head of his cock, still thinking about Harry. The curve of his broad shoulders, the way he flew so easily as if the broom as an extension of his self, the messy, uncontrollable hair that Draco loved to play with, the bright green eyes and that impish grin. And Harry had really nice thighs, strong and lean, not to mention that delectable arse of his. Even the small of his back was tantalizing, the way it dipped inward from his sleek, perfectly sculpted back. Draco drew the moisture that his cock was leaking down the shaft, pumping hard a few times before letting his hand rove restlessly over his own body.

He twisted his nipple hard, panting at the jolt of almost pain and he let his hand drift back down to his erection again. Draco delighted in drawing his pleasure out, making a game of it just to pass the time. He had a feeling that while Harry did take care of his own needs in the way sixteen year old boys were wont to do, he wasn´t quite so comfortable with his own body as Draco was. But then again, Draco was shameless and Harry probably had more than a handful of hang-ups he´d gotten from that awful Muggle family of his. Still, it would be fun to help Harry overcome them.

Draco, fully aroused now, settled in for a serious wank. He closed his eyes and pictured himself on the Quidditch pitch with Harry. After hours maybe, just the two of them because Draco had… had demanded a rematch to placate his wounded ego. And Harry, ever the honorable Gryffindor, had agreed. Draco smiled at the fantasy, because it was probably something he would do. Right then. And they´d made a bet on it. Winner was allowed to take the loser, no excuses. And Harry had won and was doing that thing where he grinned predatorily, his eyes hungry as they raked over Draco. And then the Gryffindor stripped Draco, licking his lips a little as he examined his prize, and then bent him over his own Quicksilver, which was set to hover at waist height off the ground. The birch handle pressed into Draco´s stomach and his hands were held behind his back while Harry´s cock teased at his entrance.

Draco moaned at the mental image and hurriedly rummaged through his nightstand, quickly pouring the subtly scented oil into his hand. He quickly slid a finger into himself, his breathing quick and rather loud in the silence of his own bedroom. A low moan sounded in his throat and Draco let a second finger slip inside, pumping his erection rapidly with his other hand as he finger fucked himself. And oh Merlin - it felt so very good and he was imagining it was Harry fucking him, ruthlessly taking what he wanted while his cock drove into Draco and oh, fuck! Just like that. It felt perfect and now Draco was almost writhing and oh - oh!

And a knock pounded on his bedroom door, thoroughly interrupting him. Draco slowed his pace, but didn´t stop altogether. “Go away!’ He shouted, twisting on the bed when he managed to hit his prostate. The Slytherin spread his legs and raised his hips, far too in to what he was doing to stop no matter how urgently someone was pounding on his door.

“Draco? Are you still angry? I thought… I thought maybe we should talk.’

With a heartfelt groan, Draco withdrew his fingers and let the hand that was encircling his cock relax. He felt high strung and empty - not a pleasant combination. But he knew he couldn´t just ignore his boyfriend either. “Oh, bugger.’ He sighed, staring up at his bed´s canopy.

“Sorry, I just. I can´t stand the thought of you being angry with me. Draco? Can we talk?’ And the Slytherin was unable to refuse that pleading, slightly abashed voice that was drifting through the door. He sat up, his cock aching for release, and located his robe. He slid into it, belting it tightly before making his way towards the door.

The Slytherin paused for a moment to compose himself before he picked up his wand and undid the locking charm on his door. Draco opened it and was unsurprised to see Harry smiling in a sort of anxious way at him from the other side. “Er… sorry. I didn´t realize you were sleeping.’ The Gryffindor said, eyeing Draco´s silk robe askance.

“Don´t worry about it.’ Draco said brusquely. Seeing Harry´s hurt look, he softened his tone. “Sorry, you caught me at a bad time. I was busy.’

“I didn´t mean to disturb you. But I really do want to talk with you. Can I come in?’

Draco opened the door and beckoned him inside with a little flourish. “If you wish. What do you want to talk about so badly that you braved the dungeons after defeating our Quidditch team? You do realize if Pucey catches you down here he´ll try to skin you alive?’

“Don´t worry. I used my invisibility cloak. It just set it on your couch.’

“Okay.’ Draco said, sitting on his bed and leaning against one of the bedposts. “What can I do for you, Harry?’ And hello, innuendo. Draco smirked a little, waiting for Harry´s reply.

“I just wanted to make sure you weren´t angry any more. Are you? Angry that is?’ Harry asked earnestly, his eyes searching Draco´s.

Draco grinned roguishly. “I´m fine, really. I´m over it now. I meant it when I said that I´m a sore loser. I just needed some time to cool down and the Weasel wasn´t helping matters any, to be frank.’

Harry bit his lip, but let the Weasel comment slide. “He went too far. I´m sorry you had to listen to that, Draco. You really did fly well out there today.’

“I know.’ Draco said calmly. “But you were better and you caught the snitch. It´s the way it goes.’ He said, shrugging.

“I´m glad you understand. And who knows, maybe next year you´ll catch the snitch.’ Harry said, flashing that brilliant smile of his. Draco´s cock twitched, and he carefully kept his hand loosely over his lap to shield it from sight. A thin silk robe didn´t do much to hide an erection, really.

“So, I´ll see you later.’ Draco said, wanting to finish what he had started. He´d invite Harry to join him, but really, he didn´t think the Gryffindor was really up for that yet.

“Oh.’ Harry said, looking disappointed. “I was thinking maybe we could talk some more or play a game of chess, or whatever.’

“Well, usually I´d be delighted, but… well. As I said, I´m busy.’

“Doing what?’ Harry asked suspiciously, casting a quick glance around the room for clues.

Draco smirked, standing up smoothly and leaning against the bedpost seductively. “Wanking. And unless you want to watch you should probably be leaving now.’

“Oh.’ Harry said, his eyes wide and his face flushed. “Oh, um. I didn´t realize you were - doing that.’ His gaze lingered on Draco for a long moment. “So, I´ll just be going then, I guess.’ But he didn´t move. Harry seemed to be frozen to the spot.

“Mmm. So…?’ Draco asked, watching Harry´s flustered reaction with amusement.

“Right. Going. I really am. Any minute now.’

Draco tilted his head, watching Harry´s full body flush and it clicked. Harry really did want to watch. He felt his own body temperature rise and stepped forward, loosening the belt to his robe and letting it slip off his body and puddle around his feet. The Gryffindor was riveted, wetting his lips as his gaze slowly moved over Draco´s pale, nude body. His eyes darkened in a way Draco was intimately familiar with. “You can watch you know. I won´t mind.’ Draco purred, smiling flirtatiously at Harry who was still blushing a bit. Harry had seen him naked before of course, but at the time Draco hadn´t been displaying himself quite so blatantly.

“Could you close the door?’ Draco asked, getting in bed and arranging himself so he was reclining elegantly on the silk sheets. He gestured briefly to the foot of the bed with a graceful motion of his hand. “And you can sit there if you want. I´m afraid I don´t have any chairs. But you aren´t allowed to wear clothing. I want to watch you too. All of you.’

Harry shut the door and undressed quickly, climbing into the bed and leaning against the footboard across from Draco. The Slytherin was delighted at this turn of events and gave the dark haired boy a long, lustful look before fumbling for the lube again. After he dealt with that, Draco went right back to where he left off. When he slid his fingers inside himself, Harry made a choked sound and thrust into his own hand helplessly. “Oh god.’

Draco bit his bottom lip and watched Harry from underneath seductively lowered lids. The dark haired boy was perfectly formed, his broad chest narrowing into a trim waist and flat belly. Then there was that cock of his, curving upwards oh so temptingly. And Harry was watching him right back, those intense green eyes almost all pupil. It made Draco shiver.

“Mmm. Did you know what I was thinking about before you interrupted me Harry?’ Draco asked throatily, spreading his legs and giving Harry quite the view.

“No. What?’ The Gryffindor asked breathlessly, his hand moving rapidly over his erection.

“You.’ Draco said throatily. “Fucking me. Oh!’ He cried as his fingers prodded his prostate. “Oh, fuck. Mmm. I want you inside me. Would you like that?’ He asked, casting Harry a half lidded gaze.

Harry´s breath stuttered to a stop for one brief moment. “Yes! God yes. Please.’

Draco removed his fingers. “Come here.’ He ordered quietly, watching Harry scoot up the bed. Harry removed his glasses, setting them on the nightstand with a clink. Draco leaned in and kissed the Gryffindor, their lips parting quickly so their tongues could meet and duel. “Just. Go slowly, okay?’ He said, kissing Harry again quickly afterwards for reassurance.

“I will.’ The dark haired boy said soothingly. Harry wrapped his arms around Draco, sliding his fingers through Draco´s hair and tugging his head down for a longer, deeper kiss. It was wet and desperate, all sliding tongues and nipping teeth. Draco almost didn´t notice the way Harry´s hand was trailing down his back, but it was hard to miss when the dark haired boy brushed his fingers over the curve of Draco´s backside and briefly teased at his entrance.

The blonde straddled Harry´s lap, their cocks nudging against each other, and pressed back on Harry´s hand encouragingly. Their tongues were twisting, twining as they kissed hungrily and the Gryffindor braced Draco with one hand on the small of his back while he slipped a finger inside Draco. The blonde couldn´t help but make a tiny mewl of surprise at feeling someone else inside him. Callous and clever, Harry´s finger probed him carefully and it was soon joined by a second. Draco squeezed his eyes shut tightly and moved back on the other boy´s fingers, working his hips smoothly. Little sparks of electric pleasure were jolting through this body, mostly focused on his groin and ass.

Draco buried his face in the crook of Harry´s shoulder and mouthed at his neck absently as the other boy added a third finger. There was just a twinge of pain, but it was easily ignored. They stayed like that for a few minutes, Draco almost writhing in Harry´s lap. Their cocks bumped against each other companionably, the heads meeting briefly and sliding against one another. “Ready?’ Came the breathless question and Draco nodded, because at this point the didn´t trust his voice.

He slithered off Harry´s lap and kneeled on the bed, bracing himself with his hands while the Gryffindor admiringly ran a hand down his back in a gentle caress. “Ready.’ Draco grunted, his shoulders tensing imperceptibly. “You do know what you´re doing, right?’ He suddenly asked, his voice just a shade too high to let him pull of the nonchalant tone he was aiming for.

“Yeah. Sirius gave me some books and advice.’

Not that Draco really wanted to talk about Harry´s godfather when they were about to fuck, but he did want to know the other boy had at least a vague idea of how to proceed. “Good.’ He breathed in relief, feeling less nervous. “Okay. Just -’

“Go slow. I got it.’ Harry said kindly, his hands smoothing Draco´s sides. The dark haired boy grabbed the lube and readied himself and after a moment or two, Draco felt the touch of something wet and warm at his entrance. Harry´s hands were holding his hips in a firm, but careful grip. “Okay, here goes.’ Draco breathed deeply while Harry´s cock nudged its way inside of him, trying to relax despite the invasion. It just seemed so big - fingers were one thing, but this. And then it started to hurt and Draco made a small choked sound and Harry stopped, his voice uneven when he spoke. “It´s okay, Draco. But oh god, you´re so tight. I just. I´ll hold on a second, okay? I´ll go slow, I promise.’

Draco let out the breath he´d been holding with a whoosh. “Okay. Okay, I´m fine.’ And Harry began moving slowly, as he´d promised, pushing forward the tiniest bit and increasing the pressure in increments so he was sliding gradually inside Draco. After a while, that slow, inexorable entry started to feel good, like Draco was getting back a piece of himself he´d never realized was gone. And then Harry bowed his head and began placing soft kisses on Draco´s neck as he slid all the way inside. He paused while Draco became acclimated to the sensation of being impaled on Harry´s cock, open and owned and most importantly, all Harry´s.

“Alright Draco?’ Came the soft, concerned question.

With a soft moan, Draco raised his hips so that his ass bumped against Harry´s pelvic bone. “Please, I´m ready. Just fuck me!’ The Slytherin ordered, his voice low and lustful. His fine, golden hair was clinging to his sweaty forehead and his heart was battering away at his ribs. And if Harry didn´t move soon Draco was going to tie him to the bed posts and ride the other boy´s cock until his thighs gave out. Just the thought of it made him moan loudly and he moved back on Harry´s erection, urging him to do something.

Breathing heavily against the skin of Draco´s damp neck, Harry withdrew a little before thrusting forward again, his cock sliding slickly in and out of Draco. The Slytherin gripped the sheets tightly and arched his back, crying out while Harry fucked him with hard, steady strokes. Harry was driving himself so deeply inside Draco the Slytherin wasn´t sure if he´d ever be able to leave again. And oh, he felt like he was burning up.

They fucked like that for a long stretch of time, their skin moist with sweat and their breathing ragged. The boys moved together easily, two halves of the same whole, reveling in their joining. The little sighs, moans, and grunts they made filled the air, as well as the sound of their coupling; the slap of skin on skin and the steady creaking of the bed from the constant movement. They were sex sounds. Which was apt, considering the fact Harry and Draco were actually having sex. Oh, Merlin, Draco thought. I just gave Harry Potter my virginity. And then he couldn´t think at all, because he was too busy feeling.

Draco bit down on his lip, holding back a whimper as Harry hit his prostate again. The dark haired boy slid a hand over Draco´s hip and down to his groin, raking his fingers through the golden nest of curls before grasping the blonde´s cock firmly and stroking it in rhythm with his thrusts. It was so good it hurt, the sensations almost overwhelming in their intensity. And then Draco was working himself between Harry´s hands helplessly, eyes shut as he lost himself to the pleasure of it all. “Oh Merlin. Oh fuck, oh god yes Harry please, please just like that, right there!’ The words spilled out of his mouth of their own accord, tripping off his tongue.

“Oh, god.’ Harry choked out and his thrusts became erratic. The dark haired boy threw his head back and pounded into Draco, shuddering as he came. It felt odd, the burst of wet warmth inside Draco and the Slytherin squirmed uncomfortably, still hard. Harry withdrew and it felt as if he was dragging Draco´s insides with him, leaving Draco hollow. Then the Gryffindor pressed a soft kiss to Draco´s shoulder. “Turn over.’

Draco flipped himself over, relieved when Harry bent his head and started sucking the blonde´s cock. Three of Harry´s fingers wormed their way back inside Draco and, with Harry´s come as lubrication, began steadily prodding at Draco´s prostate. Between the warm, wet suction on his cock and Harry´s fingers, Draco was writhing under Harry´s relentless attentions. A low, animalistic whine escaped Draco´s throat and then his thighs tensed and he was coming, almost jackknifing up and curling over Harry as his body trembled with the force of his orgasm. Then he slumped back down on the bed bonelessly in a pile of pale limbs.

Then Harry, consummate cuddler that he was, gathered Draco in his arms and out of the wet spot. With a sigh of satisfaction, Draco turned his face up for a careless, wet after sex kiss that was more about appreciation and comfort than lust. “Mmm.’ Harry mumbled, licking a little at Draco´s lips and then pressing a quick kiss to the corner of his mouth. “Was it… okay?’ The Gryffindor asked, stretching out with Draco covering half of his body.

“Perfect.’ Draco said honestly. He grinned widely and fearful of looking silly he tucked his face against Harry´s collarbone.

Harry began stroking the Slytherin´s soft, pale hair thoughtfully. “Good.’ And his voice was so smug Draco couldn´t help but chuckle.

“Git.’ Draco said affectionately, raising his head to smile at Harry who was smirking back at him. The expression was so familiar it only took a second for Draco to realize it was a carbon copy of his trademark smirk. “You´re a cheeky little bugger. You know that, right?’

“I learned from the best.’ The Gryffindor countered mischievously , his eyes sparkling with good humor as the two boys bantered.

Harry yawned and Draco´s jaws creaked open too not two seconds later. “Sleep?’ Draco asked, tucking his head under Harry´s chin.

“Sleep.’ The Gryffindor affirmed. They managed to pull the covers up with a bit of team work and snuggled together drowsily. “Night Draco.’ He murmured, already half asleep.

“At least I know I´ll have sweet dreams…’ And then Draco joined him in slumber, both nestled together so snugly it was hard to discern where one boy left off and the other began.

Finals were brutal, a blur of frenetic studying, constant worry, and sleepless nights. After the last final the whole school seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief, even the house elves who had been making late night runs for all the students.

Draco, with slight bruises under his eyes and a manic grin, sprawled on the Slytherin common room couch with an air of unsurpassed smugness. He´d done exceptionally well, he just knew it. Of course, Granger had probably scored highest in Arithmancy and Transfigurations, but Draco knew in his gut that he´d aced Ancient Runes, Potions, and History of Magic. Potions had been the easiest exam by far and Draco had even finished half an hour early.

Poor Harry had been gnawing on his quill nervously the whole time, tempting the Slytherin to hiss answers at the other boy in Parseltongue. However, one look at Snape, who was glowering and hovering over Longbottom, had put an end to that idea. Snape despised cheating and had more charms up to prevent it in his classroom than the rest of his fellow teachers combined.

“How do you think you did, Draco?’ Asked Pansy, who was curled up in a chair across from him. She looked wrung out. Even her curls were drooping slightly.

“Wonderfully, of course. And you?’

Draco had been tutoring the other Slytherins in potions and Pansy, who had desperately wanted to do well on her Potions exam to impress Snape, had been his main priority. “Pretty well. Severus should be pleased.’

“Good.’ Was all Draco had to say to that and he shut his eyes, smiling with satisfaction.

There was a comfortable silence between them, punctuated by the grumbling complaints of the other Slytherins across the room. It was the same old bitching, the same old tired insults aimed at the staff and a few meant for the Gryffindors. Their complaints were a familiar, soothing sound and it lulled Draco into a light doze. But soon enough a smooth, sarcastic voice jolted him awake. “Ah, it´s nice to know my students have so much respect for their teachers.’ Draco opened his eyes to the sight of Snape addressing a group of chagrined Slytherins.

Ha, if they were dumb enough to get caught insulting their Head of House they deserved the dressing down Snape would no doubt give them later in regards to respecting their elders. The Potions Master turned, his robes swishing behind him, and strolled over towards Draco and Pansy. He tilted his head in greeting at the Slytherin girl before turning his attention to the blonde lounging comfortably on the couch. “Come with me, Draco. The Headmaster wants a word with you.’

“Oh?’ Draco asked uneasily, standing swiftly. “About what?

“I´m not sure. However, I do know that Potter will be there.’ Snape sent his favorite pupil a swift, inscrutable look. Draco knew the Potions Master didn´t approve of his relationship with Harry, though he did find it ironic and so was fairly amused by it. And Snape never interfered in the lives, love or otherwise, of his students so Draco knew there was no threat from that quarter. Still, Dumbledore had eyes and ears everywhere in Hogwarts and Merlin knew the old schemer wouldn´t be pleased if he discovered Draco had debauched his Wonder Boy. As they made their way out of the common room, Draco tried to figure out a way to pose his query inoffensively.

“You didn´t um.’

Snape anticipated his halting question. “I don´t spread idle gossip, Draco. Least of all, about who you´re shagging.’ The tall man snapped, his dark eyes narrowed.

Draco breathed a sigh of relief. “Good. I didn´t think you did, sir. I just wanted to make sure.’

“Mmm.’ Was all the Potions Master had to say on that. The rest of the trip was made in silence and though it was a bit awkward on Draco´s part, it wasn´t too terribly uncomfortable. They wound their way through the labyrinthine twists and turns of the dungeons, emerging near the Great Hall and wandering towards the Headmaster´s office at a steady pace. “Ice Mice.’ Snape intoned, causing the gargoyle to move and give them entrance. “After you.’

Draco stepped forward, prompted by Snape´s sweeping gesture, and began to climb the stairs. He straightened his tie and smoothed his robes before knocking twice on the door. “Come in, come in.’ Draco opened the door and the first thing he saw was Dumbledore beaming at him merrily. “Please, take a seat. You too, Severus.’ There were five chairs present in front of the desk and Draco slipped into the one nearest Harry. Black and Lupin were seated on the Gryffindor´s right, leaving Draco on his left and between Harry and Snape.

“Nice to see you, Malfoy.’ Black greeted him, immediately shooting looks of loathing at Snape afterwards in sharp counterpoint to his words. Before Snape could make some cutting comment sure to get the ex-convict´s hackles up, Dumbledore interrupted them. The fact he was wearing lavender robes diminished his authority somewhat, but the two bickering men quieted anyway.

“Lemon drop, anyone?’ A chorus of murmured refusals met his offer. “Ah, well. I think I shall have one myself.’ Draco took the time to send a swift smile Harry´s way and was pleased when the other boy´s hand briefly flitted over his in a butterfly caress before finding it´s way back to the arm of his chair. “Now then, let´s get down to business. This concerns you, Draco. After your capture of Mr. Pettigrew and your retrieval of Salazar Slytherin´s skull, it´s come to my attention that this summer your life may very well be in danger. You´ve managed to cross Voldemort not once, but twice and no doubt you´ve angered your father´s for embarrassing him so thoroughly.’

Draco shifted uneasily. “Oh. So what does that mean? Am I staying here this summer?’

“Oh, no my dear boy. The majority of the staff goes on holiday and it wouldn´t be safe for you here. Hogwarts protects itself, but I´m afraid during the summer it tends to be lax with it´s wards. It has no students to protect, you see. So I´ve made arrangements with Sirius to take you in for the summer. Unfortunately,’ He said, forestalling Draco´s exclamations of delight. “His new home needs some additional protection before it is ready for you or Harry. I´ve taken the liberty of owling Mr. Dursley and explaining the situation to him. You´ll be living with Harry and his family for two weeks this summer, until Remus and Sirius have a safe place to take you boys.’

“Muggles?!’ Said Draco, his voice dripping with disbelief. “I´ll be living with Muggles? It´s a good thing Father´s already disowned me or I´d be in a world of pain.’ He grumped, slouching in his seat rebelliously. “Muggles.’ This was said with more than a touch of disgust.

“Draco is spending the summer with me? Brilliant!’ Harry grinned, twisting around to look at his godfather. “That´s great of you, Sirius! Really, this is wonderful!’

“It´s the least I can do for him after he caught that rat for me isn´t it?’ Sirius asked, smiling at Harry´s obvious joy. “And at least you´ll be in good company. I expect Malfoy won´t let himself or you be pushed around by those stupid Muggle bastards.’ Remus gave him a pointed look and Dumbledore chuckled at the rebuke. “Er, Muggle louts I mean. Draco can keep an eye out on you at least.’

“Muggles.’ Draco said again, feeling nauseous. “Oh Merlin. Pansy always said I had bad karma, but this…’

Laughter filled the room and Harry flashed Draco a wry grin. “Ron´ll be pleased, that´s for sure.’

“Think of it as a learning experience.’ Lupin said kindly, smiling at Draco´s blatant dismay.

“And in the eyes of the Ministry, you´re not a minor. Which means you are allowed to use magic during the summer.’ Dumbledore raised his eyebrows at Snape whose voice was silky and sly. “With discretion of course.’ The Potions Master tacked on as an afterthought.

“Of course. Now then boys, I´ll let you be off. Are you sure none of you wants a lemon drop?’

“Oh, why not.’ Draco said, taking one of the sweets on a whim. “Thank you, Professor. And you too of course, Mr. Black. I really appreciate this.’

“Oh, call me Sirius. Mr. Black sounds so mature.’

“And we wouldn´t want anyone attributing that particular trait to you, would we Black?’

Before the situation could deteriorate, Lupin jumped in. “Oh my, look at the time. It´s getting late. Come along, Sirius. I expect we have better things to do than to trade barbs in the hallway. And I´m sure Severus does too, being a busy man, you know.’

“Ah, glad to know you´re keeping him on a leash Lupin.’ And then the Potions Master stalked off with an impressive if theatrical billow of his robes.

Sirius snarled, but a gentle hand on his arm managed to help him keep his temper. “I know, I know. Let it go. I don´t know why he has to be such a git though.’

"It´s an occupational hazard, I suspect.’ Draco offered. “I´d be a git too if I had to teach a bunch of brats, never mind Neville Longbottom.’ It managed to lighten the mood considerably.

Sirius snorted his laughter. “You have a point there. But Remus manages to get by.’

“I´m a special case.’ Lupin pitched in, smirking at his old friend and lover.

“Special, eh? Touched in the head, is what you are.’

Draco rolled his eyes and ignored the rest of their flirtatious banter, turning his attention to Harry who looked positively over the moon. “We´ll be spending the whole summer together, I can barely believe it!’

“It does sound nice, doesn´t it? At least if the muggles get too bad I can always use magic on them.’ Draco mused, slipping his hand in his pocket to grasp his wand for reassurance.

Harry snickered. “Oh, this is going to be fun. I can´t wait to see you meet Dudley.’

“He´s your cousin right?’ Harry rarely talked about his family, but he had dropped hints here and there, just enough to appeal to Draco´s curious nature.

“Yeah. He looks like a pig in a wig. You won´t be able to miss him.’

Draco snickered at the mental image Harry´s words brought to mind. Then he sent a swift glance in the direction of the two older males before looking down at his serpent ring and quietly addressing the Gryffindor in Parseltongue. And just think, we´ll have all summer together. Whatever shall we do? Draco teased, leering playfully at the dark haired boy. He had reason to. Harry was wearing a white T-shirt that clung to the curves of his biceps and shoulders and an old pair of tight blue jeans that hugged his arse oh so nicely.

Harry colored up slightly and smiled lopsidedly in that charming way of his. “Draco, is that all you think about?’

“Pretty much.’ The Slytherin conceded with a smirk. “And don´t even try to pretend like you don´t either. We both know better than that.’

“I guess we do, don´t we?’ And the look in Harry eyes was so hot it was positively blazing. Draco shivered despite himself, lustful little tingles spreading throughout his body. He felt naked under that hungry, piercing green gaze. Naked and utterly desirable. The two boys locked eyes for a long moment as unspoken words slipped into the air between them, heavy and warm.

Sirius´ chuckles abruptly ended the moment. “If you two are done with your staring contest, we can get out of here. You have that prefects´ meeting right?’

“Yeah. I guess we better get a move on, huh?’

“Yes.’ Draco agreed. “That Chang bitch is far too handy with a broomstick for my peace of mind.’

“Draco!’ And the Slytherin grinned, satisfied that he´d managed to earn that scolding, scandalized tone of voice once again. He didn´t think he´d ever tire of it. Because nothing got to Draco like getting to Harry Potter. And maybe if he spent his time fantasizing about the Gryffindor the prefects´ meeting wouldn´t be utterly mind-numbingly boring.

And if that got him too hot and bothered he could always amuse himself by making up dirty limericks instead.

“Are you coming?’ The Gryffindor asked, turning impatiently.

“Not at the moment, but I´m sure you could help me fix that.’ Draco said in a low voice, meant for Harry´s ears only. Ears that turned pink as soon as they caught his words. After all, a dirty pun or two would do just as well a limerick any day.


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